Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Am Employed!

I'm very excited.  Not only am I excited about this new opportunity and looking forward to my new job, I'm excited to have money.  It'll be nice not to have to worry so much about what I'm spending. It'll be nice to be able to save money eventually, for a vacation, a new car, for the future.  No more interviews with questions that drive me crazy.  No more ads, agencies, reading between the lines... no more searching!  I start on Monday.  There's some training and then a really amazing work schedule and location.  Then I'll be on my own, achieving goals, getting to know new people and finding my place in a new environment.  I'm eager to begin.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How Job Interviews are Like Blind Dates

It starts simply: two people look at profiles. X is a person looking at a job description, she decides to apply. Y reviews the résumé, the detailed profile, listing traits, with a cover letter talking about all their good points.  The exchange can be a biased, since there is a lot of history on a résumé and often less in a job description, but an industrious X can go online and search out the company "creep their Facebook", finding all kinds of un/interesting things.  Y might be checking out X's online profiles too.  How much of what they find is true? How many people lie on their resumes?  How many people make a company seem more impressive through a fancy website? There is only so much you can learn from these profiles.

A meeting is agreed upon.  X "dresses to impress".  We hope Y would do the same.  If they don't, won't they also be judged by the person coming to meet them?  Like a blind date, clothing can be crucial. Does X want to work somewhere, be with someone, that doesn't look put together, that doesn't look like they know what they're doing?  Also, don't be late.

After that first impression, X and Y have a chat.  They talk about their histories.  X talks about her previous employers, past relationships.  Y gives a history of the company, may talk about previous employees.  Are X and Y getting along?  Y might start talking about what will be expected of X.  X might ask questions of Y, trying to figure out what she would be getting into and if it is worth her time.  

After they part, it's left of to Y to call.  Is X the right fit?  Y might need a second date.  If Y decides against pursuing a relationship with X, there's often disappointment and sadness.  If Y offers, then there is joy and a new relationship. However, X does have the option to decline. What if, after meeting Y, X knows she'd never be happy there? What if X gets a better offer? After that first meeting, that first date, there's more than one possibility.

My job search has been going on for a while.  I've been on a lot of interviews in the past few weeks. It was maybe two weeks ago that I started comparing job interviews to blind dates.  The interviews are so often the same conversations, just had with different people in different locations.  Which got me thinking about dating (something I honestly haven't done in a very long time), then thinking about blind dating, since I'm not actually meeting anyone until after the exchange of information.  Like blind dates, I'm hoping one of these meetings works out for me.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan

Jeffrey Brown's Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan was fantastic.  It was everything I expected after reading the first Star Wars Jedi Academy book.  It was cute, funny, and sweet. Roan really grew, more than he did in the first book.  It wasn't just him getting through a year of school and getting used to Jedi training.  In Return of the Padawan, Roan learns about himself.  He learns about maintaining friendships, listening to others, and resisting the dark side.  Even though it's the Jedi Academy, there are so many relatable moments for kids. This could be any school.  

I thoroughly enjoyed Brown's style of drawing and the way that the book is pieced together. Including the report cards, the Ewok Pilot cartoon, and journal entries is fantastic.  I really liked the inclusion of "Holobook", the Jedi Academy's version of Facebook.  It showed how, as in real life, you can make a simple post, and then receive negativity.  Holobook is my new favourite part of the Jedi Academy.  I was happy reading this latest installment and I can't wait to read about Roan's third year in The Phantom Bully.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Breaks Between Books

How long are your breaks between books?  Mine used to be non-existent.  I frequently had the next book picked out before I finished the one I was reading.  It had nothing to do with the enjoyment of my current book. Even if I found the book all-consuming, crazy-amazing, I would still have something ready and waiting.  Not that I always read the book I thought I was going to read; I occasionally changed my mind, but there still be only a day between books.  With blogging, I like to get my thoughts down before I start something new. Often, I would throw down my points and then start the new book, cleaning the post up when I had more time.  What happened?

Lately, probably the last three or four months, it is sometimes days before I pick up my next book.  It's not that I feel like I'm in a slump, I've enjoyed the books I've read.  I loved, The Demonologist and The Flying TroutmansBlue Lily, Lily Blue and Specials had me riveted.  Why did it take me so long to pick each of those books? There were days between all of them.  I could have read another (short) book in the time it took me to pick something.  Is it because I have Emily Dickinson's collection on the go?  Usually, I only have one "currently reading" book at a time, but I started her poems months and am taking my time. The poetry is an ebook, so if I'm out, without space for my novel, I can take in a few poems.  I also find by spacing them out, I'm enjoying each poem more. (I'm taking lots of notes too.)  However, I don't think that's it.  I've been reading the poems for about eight months now and this change is newer than that. 

So, what is it?  Why am I now leaving so much space between books?  How long do you let go by before you pick up another book?

It's been two days since I finished my last book. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Malai Kofta Kabab

As mentioned in a previous food post, I've been trying to make dinnertime more interesting for me and the Hubby (the kids would be happy with chicken nuggets and apples, they need to try new things).  I have loads of ground beef in the freezer, but wanted to make something besides pasta sauce or tacos (not that we don't enjoy those things).  I did a quick search online and came up with this recipe from Kraft Canada.  Their online recipe site has really expanded its "ethnic" offerings.  I looked at the ingredients list.  I had everything except the cooking creme*.  Since I was going shopping anyway, I picked it up.  I also added my own twist on a few of the ingredients. Below are pictures of my journey making Malai Kofta Kabab for the first time.

I enjoy toasting my own spices.  I use a regular steel pan, I think it does the job better than a non-stick pan.  In the pan I have cumin and coriander seeds.  I have burnt my seeds in the past, so I try to keep on top of them.  When they smell awesome, is usually when they are done.  Then I put them in my marble mortar bowl and then pestle them until they're ground up.

Here are all the ingredients, with my iPad shining in the background.  I think in this first attempt, I used too many breadcrumbs.

After the ingredients are mixed together, the slightly flattened meat balls goes in the oven.  FYI, that's how we tried to sell it to the kids, they're meatballs in a new sauce.

Time to start the sauce.  Sautéed onion smells so good!

Now it looks like a sauce.  It was my first time using the cooking creme.  It didn't melt as fast as I thought it would.  It worked out just fine.  All I needed was patience.

The "meatballs" are ready to go into the sauce.  It smelled so good.  I sneaked a taste of the meat before the sauce was done.  It's really a great combination of spices.

Okay, that picture is way smaller than one serving.  It smelled so good (and it made me and Hubby so hungry) that I totally forgot about taking a picture.  I also took the picture at the dinner table, which makes the sauce and rice look yellow for some reason.  It didn't look like that.  It did get a slight yellow tinge from the spices, but it looked more creamy.  Hubby and I were really happy. The kids ate the rice.  We made them taste the "meatballs".  I think they'll get to like them eventually.  I also made a cucumber salad to go on the side.  There are no vegetables in this dish, unless you count onions and cilantro.  Looking at the pictures makes me want to eat this again. I think I'd like to make this for a dinner party some time.... with people who are less picky than my kids.

*I tried to look up this recipe on other sites without the cooking creme, but it was too complicated for a weeknight meal, so I went with easy. I might try totally from scratch next time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

I hate that question.  Sometimes it's ten years, then I might hate it even more.  I've mentioned before that I am currently unemployed and looking for work.  I've had a couple interviews where this question has been asked.  What I want to say is: working for you; or NOT unemployed; or having won the lottery, on vacation.  It's hard for me to answer, when five years ago, I did not picture myself in this situation.  I thought I'd be working for the same company, enjoying the office community, sharing pictures and stories of our children, reading good books together, having a nice time, while doing work that related to the environment.  Instead, I've had a different job since and been unemployed for almost a year.  Five years is not a long time, and it's also forever.

Instead of talking about those things and sounding like a madwoman, I come up with a relatively "correct" answer, talking about being with the company for the long term and taking on increasing responsibilities. I do hope some of the things I say.  I want to have a job in five years.  I'm tired of looking for work.  But after the previous five years, I know anything can happen and something unexpected always seems to.  Instead of trying to predict the future, I'd rather concern myself with the present.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Flying Troutmans

The Flying Troutmans was amazing, more than I expected.  I remember buying the book ages ago, reading the synopsis repeatedly over the years and leaving the book on the shelf.  Why did I finally read it? I was in the mood for a grownup book and that is what The Flying Troutmans sounded like. Something about real life.  Something I could relate too.  It spoke to my mood.  I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, though.  The writing was engaging and unique, just like the characters.  Sometimes, I wished that Hattie and the kids would just get there.  I wondered how many more crazy stops they could make.  The tension drove me a little nuts, wondering what they would find.

I enjoyed the story so much, I "suspended my disbelief".  Some of the decisions Hattie made, thinking back on it, were so unbelievable.  Who would take those kids where she took them?  Who would make those decisions?  Hattie?!  But within the context of the story, it seemed right.  Hattie was making the best decision for her sister and her sister's children.  

A quote on the front cover of my edition commented on the humour of the book. Other quotes I looked at also mentioned the novel was funny.  I did not find it humourous, at least not in the way the quotes implied.  It was funny in a sad sort of way, not a haha, kind of way.  I did not find myself laughing out loud, I found myself empathizing with Hattie, Min, Logan and Thebes.  I found myself thinking about mental illness.  Maybe part of that was the recent Bell Let's Talk day.  Miriam Toews created some of the most interested characters I've ever read about and I'll miss their road trip.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

It's Not a Special Occasion, It's A Turkey Breast!

Lately, I've been a bit bored with dinner.  It seems like I make the same chicken and beef recipes all the time.  I'm a busy parent, so I do tend to like what's easy, but I also think variety is the spice of life.  Not only will different foods be fun, but it would be nice to vary the different vitamins and minerals we are taking in.  When considering the possibilities, the first thing that came to mind was turkey.  I love turkey, but like most people, I only make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I thought it was time to change that.  I always see the turkey breasts in the meat section, but haven't bought one since I was pregnant with my daughter (and chicken made me sick).  So, this week I picked it up.  

I'm good at making a turkey, but I was nervous about making just the breast.  I didn't want to over cook it.  I definitely didn't want to under cook it.  I wanted to get the skin nice and crispy.  I considered pan-frying, but thought for my first time out in 6 years, I should just roast it.  It turned out fantastic.  I rubbed it down with the same seasonings I used during the holidays.  I put it in the oven for about an hour and a half and it came out perfectly.  It was juicy and brown.  

My one mistake, too small of a dish.  It didn't quite fit.  The bone prevented the meat from actually touching the bottom.

Brown on the outside, juicy on the inside, it couldn't have turned out better.  (I don't know why I didn't move the knife and fork when I took this picture.  It's a nice knife, at least.) 

What do I use to season my turkey?  It's pretty simple: olive oil, garlic, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Easy, good and tasty.  

Any suggestions for changing up my dinnertime repertoire?  I'm excited to try more new things!