My View by Sandra

and other stuff . . .

I want to be alone …

I don’t always want to be alone but I’d love to be able to get up and have my coffee before I have to deal with anything. I’ve been able to do this for a quarter of a century (ummmm…. seems like a very long time) – until now.

spoiled dogI have a 132 lb. Bullmastiff, Baby, who thinks about food 24/7. She’d eat the sofa if I put gravy on it. I started feeding her in the late afternoon. But sometimes I’d want to stay out late but would have to rush home to feed the dogs. That’s okay, they depend on me for their food. I’m sure though that if I showed the Rottweiler how to do it a few times (maybe once), she’d be able to feed them both. I now feed the in the mornings and that way I know they’re fed if I need to go out and end up staying a bit later than planned.

I get up very early. I make the coffee the night before and can’t wait for that first cup. Baby has decided that when she hears me turn on the computer, it’s time for her to get up. And, she wants to eat the second she gets up. If it’s 3am, she’s right there wanting her food. I want to sip coffee and read emails. I let her out and then when she comes back in after doing her morning tinkle, I feed her. Then she has to go out again to do her morning "big time". Then I take her back to bed, and I have to convince her that – that is where she wants to go. She sleeps for another hour or two and then it’s the Rottweiler LuLu who needs to go through the same routine except that when she eats, I have to be sitting beside her until it’s all gone. Baby lays inches away from LuLu waiting for LuLu to turn her head or move slightly so she can jump in and take over where LuLu left off.

Yeah, I get it. It’s not the dogs misbehaving – it’s their owner who has lost the title of "Alpha Dog".

The other day a friend called early, and I was whining about my situation. I described in detail what I’m going through and said that I’d just love to have a morning where I got up and relaxed with my coffee. She started laughing part way through my complaining. I asked what was so funny. She said she’d just gotten off the phone with her daughter, the mother of three children. She said her daughter had been whining about exactly the same thing except her children were human and my children are four legged. I guess when we get older we transfer all the mommy stuff we did with our kids to our pets.

As annoying as my lack of being able to have time to myself in the morning, I dread the day when I get up and my furry friends aren’t there to annoy me. So, I shall quit my bitching.

Advertisements

February 19, 2007 Posted by | My Designs, My Dogs | , , , , | Leave a comment

My picks for the Oscars

Academy Awards – my picks

I love to watch the Academy Awards (and most award shows). I start early on the E channel to see everyone walk down the red carpet. High Def has definitely made it an even better experience. E isn’t HD yet and hopefully it will be soon. It’s hard to go from hd to fuzzy and back again. When I started this blog, I decided to create a design to go with it. If you click on the design or here – you can check out what it’s available on.

Here are my favorites and also the ones I think will win.

Performance by an actor in a leading role:
I believe Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland” will win. And, that’s my pick. If Peter O’Toole wins, it’s a sentimental vote because of all the times he shoulda – coulda won.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Eddie Murphy seems to be the favorite. And, I’ll also agree with that one. Loved his SAG speech. Or, was it the Golden Globe speech? Sometimes I think we can get too many award shows.

Performance by an actress in a leading role:
I’m predicting that Helen Mirren will win. She’s an amazing actress. I never would have thought they could make her look so much like Queen Elizabeth, but it’s uncanny. She’s my pick too. I think this is one of the tough categories because so many talented actresses are up for the role. Anyone could really do it justice.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Again – I’ll combine by pick w/my prediction – Jennifer Hudson. My second favorite would be Cate Blanchett who I think is one of the best actresses. I can’t remember if it was “Pushing Tin” or “Bandits” that I first noticed her in. Excellent

Best animated feature film of the year:
I’m going to say Happy Feet. I haven’t seen any of the movies and should have asked my grandkids first – but I love penguins.

Achievement in directing:
I really have liked all the movies Clint Eastwood has directed. He’s amazing. But I’m going with Martin Scorsese. It’s time – and will be a disappointment if he doesn’t receive the Oscar. See how well I’ve been trained – I didn’t say, “if he doesn’t win”. Good girl.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):
Because there are four nominated songs from “Dreamgirls”, and I don’t know the songs this year, I’ll just go as far as … it’ll be something from “Dreamgirls”. Is that avoiding it or what?

Best Motion Picture of the Year:
Since Little Miss Sunshine won the SAG, I’m going to go with it. It’s the only one I’ve seen and that’s a good decider for me.

Have you noticed throughout the year that anytime someone has made a movie and is outpromoting it – whoever is interviewing them tells them that they’ll probably be nominated for an Academy Award. And, when every interviewer says it, the star probably believes it. What a disappointment on Academy Award Nomination morning when they don’t receive the phone call. My advice to them – everytime you’re being interviewed by someone at Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Oprah, Ellen, Insider, Access Hollywood, Today, Good Morning America, etc. tell them that they’re so good you’re sure they’ll be nominated for an Emmy and their show will definitely win.

See if you can pick the winners. It does make the show more interesting when you have someone to root for.

February 17, 2007 Posted by | Entertainment, My Designs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Year of the Pig

Cook up a Chinese New Year Dinner!

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Cantonese – may prosperity be with you) Perfect for Chinese New Year, Year of the Pig, which begins on February 18, 2007.

My ancestors were Chinese, but my mother never fixed Chinese food. It was a once a week treat to go to our favorite Chinese Restaurant and have it there. I never thought about just preparing my own. Years ago a cousin came over from Australia to stay a couple of weeks. He bought a wok and would go into Chinatown in L. A. for vegetables to prepare. If he wasn’t cooking, we went out to eat – and I believe I earned a big, fat zero as a hostess. He earned a 10 from me though and isn’t that what matters? Yes, I’m smiling at that one. Before he went back home, he prepared an entire cassette tape of dishes that are a breeze to prepare.

You can even turn an American dish into Chinese in seconds. Grab your wok … (I am sooo hoping you know what a wok is and that you haven’t grabbed anything else). Put a tad of oil in it. Perhaps peanut oil, but any kind really. Throw in a little soy sauce, green onions, snow peas – whatever vegetables you have and then stir fry lightly. Break an egg or two and stir quickly. Voila – serve with rice and it appears that you have a quick Chinese dish. When we were kids, my mother used to break an egg, add a teaspoon of soy sauce into our Chicken noodle soup so we could have a Chinese/American variation of egg flower soup with noodles.

The other night I whipped up a small Chinese dinner and was so impressed with what I did, that I thought I’d pass along the information. This is just a starter and as you get more comfortable cooking this way, you can add all sorts of dishes. I started with two courses. Chicken Chow Mein and Kung Pao Chicken. Both are chicken dishes, but as I improve, I’ll probably do different meats. The Chow Mein would even be a good dish for a Vegan to fix.

Remember my recipes are those that a culinary expert would sniff at – but they work if you want fast, easy and good. I prepared my chicken early in the day. I cut it into chunks and ‘steam’ it in the microwave. I use a Tupperware microwave pot which has a strainer. I did it all at once and then put it into the refrigerator. It probably would taste a little better if you prepared it in a wok – but this is healthier because you’re not using the oil and the fats are draining off of the meat while it cooks.

When I was ready to begin the process, I cooked the rice in my new Aroma rice maker that my daughter in law gave me for Christmas. I had a smaller one but really like the new one. It’s a 10 cup with a non-stick inner pan and it actually keeps the rice warm until you’re ready to serve it. That’s a feature that now that I’ve used it – couldn’t be without and wonder how I did without it in the first place.

Chop up your vegetables and have them ready. You will also need unsalted peanuts. I always buy the party peanuts and then I rinse the salt off of them.

Put your wok on the stove with a little oil. I use a Circulon Wok and have never had a problem with anything sticking. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, you may have to use a little more oil – but keep it a small amount. Toss in half of the chicken. If you cooked it in the morning then you have very little heating to do with it. Remember that you can add ingredients I don’t have or you don’t have to use the ones I’ve suggested. You make this the way you would like it. And don’t worry if everything isn’t measured exactly. If you overdo or mess up something – it’s easy to correct.

rice cookerChicken Chow Mein: In addition to the chicken, you’ll need a lb. or two of fresh bean sprouts. You can buy them canned, but I think the fresh are so much better. You can buy a bag of them for about $.80 or less per bag. One can of water chestnuts – I buy the sliced, one cup water, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tbl. cornstarch and another 1/4 cup water.

Your chicken is heated so now you can stir in the bean sprouts, water chestnuts, water, soy sauce and the bouillon. I don’t stir and heat too long because I like the bean sprouts and water chestnuts to remain crispy. Combine the cornstarch with the water and stir till smooth. Pour into the mixture and stir constantly, until the sauce is thickened and clear.

Remove from heat and keep warm in a bowl or microwaveable container. I quickly wash the wok and then start over (I need another wok to do them both together).

Kung Pao Chicken: This one I cheat a tad. I use the Sun-Bird seasoning mix for the Kung Pao. This is available at your local supermarket or you can order them on-line at Grandma Sandi’s if you can’t find them locally. Again – add a little oil and the chicken. Stir to heat and brown. Then toss in about a cup of peanuts and stir fry until browned. Toss in your green onions – stir and fry again. Then take your mixture from the packet’s directions (packet seasoning, sugar, water and soy sauce) and stir and heat until thickened. That’s it.

For little extras – you can buy Chow Mein Noodles in a can or you can cut won ton wrappers into strips and fry them until crunchy. A great topping for the Chow Mein. Fortune cookies are also availabe in most Asian sections of your supermarket.

This is all there is to it. Amazing.

Chinese Chicken Salad: I always buy the boneless, skinless chicken breasts to cut up. If it’s an extra large package – I just use a third for each of the dishes and then another night, I make up a Chinese Chicken Salad using the remainder. Again, another easy dish but so good. Tear up your lettuce (whichever kind you prefer) and dry it after rinsing. I use a salad spinner which I swear by. I made my salad differently each time I make it. It depends on the ingredients I happen to have on hand. Usually when I’ve fried some won ton wrappers, I freeze the fried ones I don’t use so I’ll have them for my salads at a later time.

Some suggestions for your salad are: the chicken (again, good dish for vegans without the meat), sesame seeds, slivered almonds, green onions, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, Chinese snow peas, mandarin oranges and whatever you’d like to try – there are no firm rules.

The dressing:

1/8 cup sesame oil
1/8 cup salad oil
2 tbs. sugar (I’ve used Splenda and it works)
3 tbs. rice vinegar (I personally think this is the key ingredient)
1/2 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper

Mix well and then pour on your salad. Don’t do it ahead of time – do it right before serving.

If any of this looks too difficult – I’m sure it’s because of the way I wrote it. Writing this was much harder than doing it.

Have a Happy Chinese New Year!
Mandarin: Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Year of the Pig design is available on a huge selection of products at my cafepress bysandra shop.

February 15, 2007 Posted by | Food/Recipes, My Designs | Leave a comment

I must be hungry – ya think?

Taco t-shirtI love to create designs for my shop on cafepress.com/bysandra. Actually I love to create designs for anything. I spent all day yesterday creating one of my latest designs, and when I finished it, I realized I must have been hungry or craving tacos or something. At first I thought how ridiculous to create a design with tacos on it. But then the more I looked at it – the more I liked it. But I did wonder if I did it for design sake or that I was just plain and simply hungry? If you like it, you can find a lot of items available with this design on it at cafepress.com/bysandra

February 7, 2007 Posted by | Food/Recipes, My Designs | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super Bowl XLI Over

Super Bowl – it’s over till next year. I confess-I didn’t watch it. I dv-r’d it and then last night I ff’d through the game to watch the commercials. I just don’t understand football. I was a songleader in college but I just followed everyone else and thought my main purpose was to look as cute as I could, shake my pompom’s and remember my steps. It was a fun experience, and I did marry the captain of the team. Lucky me (sarcastic). It lasted about eight years. Now that I’ve seen Emmitt Smith dance, I realize that it’s not football players who are rough and clumsy, just individuals.
Ummm … I guess I shouldn’t be writing about my ex in a public blog? Oh well, it was years ago. I really don’t remember all that much about it anyway.
Back to the commercials. My favorite was the Coca Cola one with the dog and the parade. I usually do like anything that has anything to do with dogs. It was a really cute dog. There was one animated commercial but I couldn’t even tell you the product it was advertising so the sponsors didn’t get their monies worth on that one … with me.
I thought big stadiums like that had covers that could be placed over everything in the event of bad weather. What a miserable day for all concerned. I guess the Colts don’t care and probably can’t even remember that it was raining. Why didn’t Prince look wet? His face and bandana did, but his clothing didn’t look wet. When I’m out in the rain, it’s totally obvious. I don’t get rained on gracefully. Some people do.
Since I’m totally not into football, I’m really amazed that so many women are now big fans. With HDTV showing every detail so clearly – I now know why. They never had football uniforms like that when I was growing up. Perhaps I would have gotten an entirely different outlook on the game if the players looked as fine in their pants as they do now. As Paris would probably say, “hot”. As I would say, “very, very hot.” I did see the cheerleaders too. For sure we did not look like they do. Our uniforms had about 5 yds. more material than they do now.
I’ll skip Super Bowl spectator fashion. I saw a lot of plastic bags and raincoats. It looked like it was a pretty exciting game for those who knew what it was all about.

February 6, 2007 Posted by | My TV | Leave a comment