Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Starting Over Again: Job Loss & Gain

A LOT has happened since this post back in March, so I believe it is high time I jot down what's been happening for Karl and I.

Change happens: At the end of April, Karl's place of work no longer had the budget to keep him on, so he and our primary income were gone.  We'd had forewarning of this and Karl was seeking a place of employment since this past Fall, but time ran out.

On to new cheese: Karl has always dreamed of running his own computer repair business.  Two years ago he officially started his business, and he has been working evenings and weekends building a customer base since then.  However, it is hard to build a business when also working a fulltime job, so the going was slow.  A few weeks before being job-free, we sat and talked about what we were going to do now that we had no future dependable income, and Karl and I both agreed this was a good opportunity to take his business and run with it.

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Armed with a calculator, we wrote on a paper how many customers we'd need each week to pay just the bills, and in another column how many customers we'd need per week to have the income we'd had before.  We also added that we'd meet again at the end of August to review how the business was doing at that point.  We've had this paper hanging on the wall of our office since then to remind us of what we're striving for.

It's now nearing the end of July, and Karl's business has picked up, but it's not yet where we need it to be to pay the bills.  Thankfully, Karl has been able to also work part time doing electrical work for my Dad's business, and that has been a good source of income.

Finding the trail for new cheese: Starting yesterday, Karl is back working part-time through this October, (possibly even December) at his previous employer (their new fiscal year's budget got increased).  This is the perfect arrangement, for this way we can have a steady side income for a bit, and yet have the time for Karl to still grow his business.  We're very thankful for this development!

Still have some road to travel, but this extra boost will help us along the way.  :)

p.s. - If you're wondering about the dead car from the March post, it took about 2 months, but we did get Karl's car fixed.  Apparently the whole lower engine block needed replacing, as well as a new timing chain.  The repair was less than a car, so we're glad to have it running once again. (that car had better run like awesome-sauce for the next 3 years though!)  ^_-

Monday, July 16, 2012

Defying Gravity & Film Screenings

So much to share!

First, last weekend Karl and my sis-in-law made a on-the-whim trip to play on the legendary law-defying Gravity Hill that made our car roll UPHILL, with the car OFF.  (see video below)  We're still theorizing how this happened.

Then, some awesome film developments!

Last week the Guests of a Nation trailer was released - here it is for your viewing pleasure!
(more on the making of Guests here and here)

We're coming to the big screen!: we're screening both Infinite and Guests at the historic Trocadero Theater in Philly on August 26th (You can RSVP for the event here). Many of the cast and crew from both films will be present at the screening.  I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone again and getting their reactions to the film/s they took part in! 

I will keep y'all informed as more happenings come down the pipeline.  =)


Friday, July 6, 2012

What I'm Digging

Banana Pasta???
 (photo courtesy of geekphilosopher.com)

You heard me.  BANANA pasta.  Weird, huh?  But apparently in a taste test with both people who have Celiacs and those who don't, both groups came back reporting they preferred the banana pasta to the grain pasta.  I'm curious enough to wanna try it.

Tin Tin
 
The trailer I first saw for this movie showed Tin Tin moving in a dark room, walking towards a model ship.  That animation was so realistic that until they showed Tin Tin's face in the light, I could believe I was watching a live-action film.  I was impressed.


Then I watched the rest of the trailer, and I felt a bit let down, seeing it wasn't all as realistic looking as the first few seconds had been.  I've never read Tin Tin or seen the cartoon, so I didn't really have a former interest in the story or character.  I put it on my list of movies that could be cool to see if on Redbox.  It's taken me until now to see it, (though it was at a free outdoor screening - see below) and I'm so glad I did, as I was thoroughly entertained.

It reminded Karl and I a lot of Indiana Jones - the humor laden action and adventure with smart and likable characters that grow on you until you're rooting for them.  It had Spielberg's style written all over it, and we loved that.  I was also happy to see an animated film that didn't shy from Tin Tin wielding a gun, people being shot or hurt, etc. - it made me think of the Young Indiana series, but animated.  Refreshing.  I hope they make another one.

The Artist
 

I finally got to see it (yay for Redbox free code!), and I really enjoyed it.  For those who haven't heard of it, it's a silent black and white movie...that was filmed in 2011.  Intriguing, right?  The film really hearkened to the silent pictures feel.  There really is an art to telling a story without dialogue, and the filmmakers did such a remarkable job.  Loved the truly 20's-30's "look" they cast for the actors, and the set design lent so much to the story.  The dog was a fun little character all his own.  Highly recommend this movie!

Free Dates!

There's always ways to have fun for free (which we need right now), and we really were blessed in that area last month.

Baseball Game

Karl's mom got free tickets to a baseball game, so she took us and my sis-in-law and her hubby all out for it.  I haven't been to many baseball games (I'm not a fan of sports in general - prob because I grew up in a sport-crazy family), but this was one really fun.  They had lots of entertaining things go on in between innings.  For example, see the video I took below:

WWII Days


Through a friend's gracious offer who works at the airport where it's held, we were able to enjoy a day at this annual event.  It's quite amazing to watch B17's taking off and flying overhead, and try to imagine what it was like to see even a hundred of them filling the sky (and how loud it must have been!).  I also met Robin from Thrifty Vintage Chic there, which was very neat.  She was taking pictures for her blog of different hats for sale in a vintage clothing shop on the premises when I saw her and introduced myself.  She was very sweet, and I couldn't help but admire the whole time how well she wears the 40's hairdo and clothing - it's like she really was meant for that era!

Outdoor Movie Screening - they even gave us food!

Using a giant portable airblown screen, a nearby retirement village hosted an outdoor movie screening of Tin Tin (see review above).  When we drove up, the seniors running the event offered us free bottled water and twizzlers - we were so surprised at their generosity and thanked them. (Karl thanked them doubly, as he got to eat my twizzlers).  We'd also brought along some meatballs and popcorn, so we had a feast as we sat and watched Tin Tin (no need to sneak in snacks is always a plus).  Another cool thing was there was lightning in the distance the whole time, and it sometimes added to the atmosphere of the movie.  Very fun night.

Side note: I was googling what those screens were even called, and inadvertently found that you can actually get a 12 ft one for under $250 on amazon.  Pretty nifty!  Karl and I will just have to keep using a white sheet hung on the clothesline for now.  ;)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Welcome to the Iron Age

Karl has had a pair of iron skillets that he's used since his days back in his own apartment as a bachelor.  I, on the other hand, have always used and therefore always preferred non-stick skillet pans.  Though cast iron skillets become nonstick from use, I've resisted using them as my non-stick pans were working fine, so I didn't see a reason to consider cast iron.  Karl even got me a cast iron pan a few years back to try.  I got it out once or twice, didn't like it, and just put it back into the cabinet where it has stayed.

However, my main non-stick frying pan's surface has been looking questionable as of late - it's been looking a little flaky.  I've been also becoming more wary of what they put on these pans to make them nonstick, so when my pan got into its current condition, it was the kick in the butt I needed to try something else.

Recently one night after watching Karl make an omelet in his cast iron pan, I decided to give it a whirl and asked if he could make me one in my cast iron pan. (we have separate cast iron pans because they absorb what is cooked in them, and we don't want a case of cross-contamination).  I watched how he did it, and then the next few nights as I was cooking I tried using my cast iron for making meals.  Now that I'm getting the hang of it and it's become more "seasoned" from use, I've come to like it for several reasons:

Taste: Things I've made in the cast iron using olive oil have come out with a more buttery flavor, which is wonderful.  I love grilling my veggies in olive oil in it now.

Function: The iron heats very evenly, and I think this is what causes my omelets to be more fluffy.  When I made the pancakes in them, they were also more fluffy then when I made them on the nonstick griddle (and tastier).

No Chemicals: It's nothing but iron - though it's disputed back and forth about whether the chemicals in nonstick pans are harmful, after seeing the flaking on my pan and risking it getting into my food, I'm now in the camp of better safe than sorry.  My cast iron is now just as nonstick as my chemically non-stick pan, so I'm officially convinced that it's been a good change.

Health Benefits: There's also the benefit of getting more iron in your diet by cooking with cast iron.

Multi-purpose: It can be used on a stove, in an oven, as well as a campfire.

Clean-up is a breeze: Say goodbye to scrubbing or dishwashers.  While the pan is still hot after using it, rinse it under hot water, which will make any leftover residue or crumbs burn off the surface.  Dump the water, wipe it down (don't let it stay wet for long or else it'll rust), and you're golden.  Here's a good post on how to clean cast iron, and a video here for scrubbing off a really messy pan.

Bonus: They're hardy buggers & last a lifetime, so they are worth the money you pay for them and more. This is something that you can pass down as a heirloom piece.

Whether you have non-stick pans that have started to flake like I did or not, consider trying out cast iron.  Overall, I'm really glad to have made the switch, and plan to invest in buying a few more sizes in the future!

* SPECIAL NOTE: Cast iron pans come in either pre-seasoned or unseasoned.  If you have Celiacs, get a brand new, UNSEASONED pan.  This way you will know what it was seasoned with and you can make the patina yourself. 

(Thanks to gnowfglins for the feature opportunity)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Zesty Shrimp & Broccoli


It's been and will continue to be in the 90's where we are this week, so we've been trying to keep meals light and refreshing.  This recipe is fast, inexpensive, and fits the bill for the current heat-wave.

You'll Need:
  • broccoli
  • shrimp (I get the packs that you find in the freezer aisle that have 60-80 raw, deveined and de-tailed shrimp for $5 at walmart)  For the two of us, we use about half the shrimp in the bag.
  • GF pasta (I use Tinkyada)
  • olive oil
  • lemon (can also substitute with 100% distilled white vinegar)
  • italian seasoning (thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, basil)
  • garlic powder
  • salt & pepper
To Start:

- Cook pasta according to directions.
- Put shrimp in skillet with garlic and olive oil and start them sauteing as you cut up broccoli.  Keep going back to the shrimp - they're done when they are no longer translucent and a nice pink color. 
- Place broccoli in another skillet that's filled with about half an inch of water.  Turn the heat on med-high and steam the broccoli, turning the stems over until the broccoli florets are a bright green and just a notch below raw and still crispy.  Take off heat and strain water.  Heat them again on medium heat with olive oil and a splash of garlic for 1 minute, constantly mixing them around.  Remove from heat.
- Drain pasta, then mix olive oil and the seasonings, as well as the shrimp and broccoli together in the pasta pot.  Squeeze 2-3 slices of lemon (according to taste) over the mix and stir everything around on medium heat for 30 secs - 1min.
- Either serve immediately, or chill in fridge for 30 mins before serving if you'd like to make it a pasta salad.

For a gluten-free meal, this is definitely affordable and yummy.  :)


Thanks to simplysugarandglutenfree, gnowfglins, and glutenfreehomemaker for the feature opportunity!

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