Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easy TASTY Turkey Burgers

Last time I tried to make turkey burgers, I tried all sorts of fancy things: stuffing them with avocado and spices. It just didn't work out. They were good but they still didn't have a lot of flavor. So instead tonight I decided to try it one more time. This time, a definite success. Easy, too. Here's what you need:

ground turkey
steak sauce
Adobo (my favorite spice)

Put 'em together and grill 'em up! Simple is always better. The steak sauce gave it that "beefy" taste without making it too wet.

Here's to trying everything twice!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Irony or Injustice?

A tragic irony of life is that we so often achieve success or financial independence after the chief reason for which we sought it has passed away.
Ellen Glasgow

At first, I thought it was just ironic. I can't consolidate my private loans because I don't have good enough credit or a strong enough cosigner. They can't be sure I can afford my monthly payments. Who do they think has been paying my current loans, which are higher than they would be if I could consolidate? Me! I haven't missed or been late on a payment since I started paying them back! Then, I tried to consolidate my federal loans. They have an income-based repayment plan for people who join lower-paying careers such as public service (so, teaching). Here's the thing though: if I was just a teacher, I would qualify. Because I also work at a grocery store in order to make ends meet, I no longer qualify for lower payments.

At first, I thought this was quite ironic. Then I spoke to my dad who got me thinking that it may be nearer to injustice. When I was starting college, I didn't qualify for scholarships or grants because he made too much money. With all the property we own, in NJ no less, and his 3 children - we really don't have a lot of money at all. He especially did not have a significant amount to contribute to college payments. So instead I put 5 years of out-of-state Virginia Tech payments on student loan. Now I'm broke (but not complaining - if you follow along you know I love my life!!) and trying to get just a little help. I know that the gov't will pay back some of my loans after I complete 5 years in a low-income school system, but they won't actually pay that until I've completed it.

Okay, so like I said I'm not complaining. I am, however, wondering about the state of things. Like my dad says, nobody will loan you money until they're sure you don't need it. Isn't that always the way it works? If a person works more than one job because they need to pay bills, then they might not qualify for government assistance. Yet the people who would rather sit around and be lazy, they gladly welcome their supplements each month. Is that fair? We are punishing those who really give it their all - to go to school, to work full time and part time jobs at the same time, to do everything on little sleep - and rewarding those that don't. Now, I do understand multiple sides here. I absolutely know there are people deserving of assistance and I do wholeheartedly agree with giving it to them. I also know that some people, like myself, make their life harder by choice. I chose to go to Tech, knowing I would pay back student loans until I retire. Do I regret it? Not a day in my life! I had amazing experiences and met the wonderful L because I was here. Heck, I got two degrees in five years and I'm still living in this area. I could not have pictured myself going anywhere else.
I'll take a second to tell those of you who don't know about my college-Cinderella story. I first came to Tech my sophomore year of high school to visit my cousin E. I knew then that this is where I needed to be. As soon as I stepped on campus, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be a Hokie. When it came time to applying, I applied to Tech, one safety school in case I didn't get in anywhere else, and one in-state school to please my dad. I wasn't too worried - I knew Tech would be my home. Home sweet home. :)

Anyway, I just think it's pretty unfair that I see so many people who can't scrape together two dimes while they remain honest and fair, but yet so many people are making thousands selling blow, meth, or themselves on street corners and are still getting assistance from the government. A few bad apples definitely ruin the bunch, but it is really upsetting that it's allowed to happen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wrestling Cake

This was my first "for sale" cake that I've made - if you don't count the store selling my cakes in the bakery. It was soooo heavy, two 1/4 sheets of yellow cake (a box mix which I doctored by adding pudding, extra oil, and beating the room-temperature eggs like I do with homemade cake), fresh-cut strawberries in the middle, covered with chocolate frosting. Then I melted white chocolate to make the wrestling mat, used pretzel rods for the posts and Twizzler pull and peels for the ropes. I used icing as the turnbuckles to hold the ropes on.

One tough part was figuring out how much to charge. This ended up being a $30 cake - mainly because the person I was doing it for doesn't have a whole lot of money anyway. After buying the supplies and then spending hours making it, turns out I only paid myself a little over a dollar an hour. I think if I did it again, I would charge more, but it's not really about making money (yet). For now I'm still trying to create a portfolio of cakes and hone my skills so eventually I can turn it into a small side business. I hope to intern at a bakery at some point so I can really learn some skills from the pros. For now I will enjoy dabbling, playing, watching youtube, and learning through error. It might not be perfect, but I was pretty happy with how it turned out :)

Why I love fall :)

"If God isn't a Hokie, then why do the leaves turn maroon and orange in the fall?"

Reason 1: Atmosphere
I love the colors of the leaves as they change. Not only do most of them turn maroon and orange, but it just gives such beauty to my long drives (35 mins to work or 7 hours home, they're all long drives). Everything reminds me of Virginia Tech, of God's work, and just renews my love of life. I know spring is the season that breathes new life in the world, but doesn't that make fall Grandmother of Wisdom? Sure, everything may be old, and a lot of it is probably falling apart, but with all of that comes so much power and hope that we shall be in that position one day.

I also LOVE the crisp air that comes with fall. Chilly, cold, and not something I feel like I can eat - as opposed to last week when the air was so thick and humid I didn't need to drink any glasses of water. It reminds me of being a kid and going troop camping at Camp Mosey Wood. I love waking up in a tent to cold air, seeing my breath. I used to call it "my air" and wondered so many times if there was a way to bottle it up and hold on to it forever. I go back to that place every year :)

As I was walking to my car on the way home from work this evening, I couldn't help but wish I was coming back to the football game. This weather is just perfect for long sleeves, hot cider, and football.

Reason 2: Activities
Football. My favorite sport. Pro, college, high school: they all have their wonders. How exciting is it to cheer on your teem with hundreds or thousands of people who have the same goal? I love it. Sports in general bring people together and it is so amazing to me how winning a game really means so much more than that.

I also want to go to a farm. I want to run through a corn maze, take a tractor ride to the pumpkins or through a haunted forest. I want to eat a hot dog and drink hot cider. I want to buy a whole gallon of farm-fresh cold cider. I want to sit outside with a pumpkin latte, pumpkin roll, or anything pumpkin related and just enjoy.

Reason 3: It's almost winter.
I love Christmas - it's my favorite holiday. I love snow. I love being with family. I love my birthday, L's birthday and our anniversary. I love Thanksgiving. Everything I love about fall is so much better because I know it doesn't go away when it's done, it just goes into another wonderful season. And tonight, L has stuck in my head "shall I play for him? pa rum pa pum pum. On my drum"

Enjoy your time :)

PS This is why I could never live anywhere other than a 4-season state. I love the seasons. Their changes make me happy with what's to come and I would really miss that anywhere else.