2014 Wrap Up

As we near the end of another trek around the sun, I always feel the need to make a post of highlights (or lowlights) of the year. A semi-list in no particular order:

– We started 2014 at a party at someone’s house in Dacula. It became a Hillbilly Hoedown, complete with screaming, fist fights and drunk driving. NOT an auspicious beginning for sure. Out of that came our current rule of NEVER staying at anyone’s house overnight unless absolutely necessary. Why risk it?

– We lost DJ in April. He was old and sickly. He waited for me to get back from my trip and he died two days later. He had a seizure right in front of us on a Saturday. It sucked.

– We finally walked away from the Maplehurst house in June. It was hard to let it go, but we had to. Despite Wells Fargo’s insistence that it was not discharged three years ago in the bankruptcy, it WAS and we were NOT obligated to pay for it. It will be auctioned next month and become rental once again. Nick left notes in the closets to whomever lives in it next.

– On the heels of the move, I get the call that my brother’s best friend died suddenly. He was doing some electrical work at an office and was electrocuted. It was horrible. It rocked me to my roots, I can tell you. The thought that one day a husband says goodbye to his wife and goes to work, never to return. It could happen to ME. It was very upsetting. On top of that, now my brother has no one. He’s all alone with elderly, sick parents and a woman-child with a new baby. I feel SO BAD for him and for Aron’s widow. Ugh. I cry just thinking about it.

– The move to the ‘burbs was relatively painless thanks to a great moving company that sent us TWO crews for the price of one. (Big League Movers if you need a referral.) We are now in a lovely ranch w/ full basement that is crammed full of our stuff. We have a lot of stuff. Other people’s stuff is shit, but our shit is stuff. (George Carlin. Kids, ask your parents.) Anyhow, I’m not a fan of the ‘burbs – too many white people and nothing to do. And white people are NOISY fuckers! Every single day I hear leaf blowers/yard equipment. EVERY. DAY. One day, the asshole neighbors behind us had TWO going from 8am-noon. Continuously. WTF, white people? OTOH, no gunfire, even on holidays and Nick is 10 minutes from work. Tradeoffs.

– We are in full swing of getting the pub concept off the ground. We’ve got about $55k available of our own money. No banks. The trick is finding space that has most of the equipment and a landlord who will work with us. So far, the owners of the place we want refuse to talk to us because we don’t have $100k. They seem to think that is a magical number that ensures success. We’ll see if they still feel that way after paying the fucking $500k note on that property for a few months. NO ONE is looking at it other than us, according to our broker. I’ve been working tirelessly on this. I want to put our names out there and meet as many people as I can. I feel that if we put enough energy out there, something will happen.

– Although I get ridiculed by my friends, I’m sticking to my No New Pets rule. Once Missy goes, I’m not getting any more cats. I’ve got a damn good reason: if we get this pub going, I’ll never be home. Why have pets if you’re not home to enjoy them? If the pub doesn’t happen, we may move. We’ve been talking about it and we’d rather take our money and move with it than sit here and piss it away on rent. It could be a BIG move. Like to Europe big. We don’t want to be in the US when we grow old. Healthcare here sucks. We’re getting passports, but that’s as far as that plan goes right now. We are keeping our options open. When Nick’s job ends, we have to make decisions. Until then, we save money and try to open a pub.

2014 has lived up to its 7 number. 7 is my life path number and I’ve certainly been working on THAT this year. 2015 is an 8 year. 8 is a karmic number; a bringer of change. That seems to be tracking with what we’ve got going on. I look forward to the challenges of an 8 year. I’m curious about what I’ll say on Dec 31 next year. I’ll be 50 this time next year. What a concept. Eh, I’ve always been a late bloomer. Some things never change. :)

Happy New Year, y’all.

Moroccan Lamb and Chickpeas with Couscous

I had a pack of ground lamb in the fridge, so this is what I made. It turned out amazing! I hope my future customers will love my Middle Eastern/Italian/Asian flavours as much as I do. Enjoy!

Moroccan Lamb & Chickpeas
Moroccan Lamb & Chickpeas

Moroccan Lamb & Chickpeas with Couscous
1 pound lean ground lamb
olive oil
1 medium onion, frenched
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used Indian pepper, which is VERY hot. Use cayenne as a sub.)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried apricots, small dice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 lime zest (about 2 tsp)
1 can (15 1/2-oz) chickpeas, drained
S/P to taste
couple splashes water if it gets dry
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of half lime

2 cups Israeli couscous (I like tricolour), prepared with chicken broth and juice of half a lime

Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet (with lid) on Med Hi. When hot, toss in the ground lamb to sautée. When lamb begins to brown and has released its fat, add in onion and garlic. Stir and reduce heat if the veg is starting to brown. Add in spices, raisins, apricots, tom paste and lime zest. Stir in chickpeas and turn down heat to Med Lo. Put lid on skillet and stir every now and then. Cook for about 15 minutes. Add a splash of water if it gets dry.

While that is simmering, prepare the couscous. As I mentioned, I added the other half of the lime juice and used chicken broth for mine.

Turn off heat, check S/P levels and stir in cilantro and lime juice.

Serve over couscous. Wine pairing: Gewürztraminer

It’s that time of year…

for introspection, angst and Fear & Loathing™.

Actually it’s not bad this year, but today I’m feeling a little maudlin. I didn’t sleep well for one thing and Missy has been waking me up at 1am for some reason.

When I think about my family, there are few good memories. I’m mostly struck by the selfishness of my parents and the sad waste of my brother’s life. What triggered me today was a piece on reviving cast iron skillets. Weird, I know, but it reminded me that my mother has my Gran’s (her mother) cast iron skillet, perfectly seasoned and ready to use. I’ve asked her for it so I can learn to use it and she won’t let me have it – despite the fact that she hasn’t cooked in several years. I cook every day, but NO I can’t have it because it’s HERS. Which is typical of her. When she handed me my great grandmother’s (her grandmother) fresh water pearl necklace, I almost passed out. I think that she’s starting to realise (at the age of 72) that material things are not as important as sharing history. I had to practically rip the family photos out of her clutch to scan them a couple of years ago. She’s convinced that I sell everything on eBay. Why she thinks anyone would WANT old family pictures is beyond me. I think it’s a control thing. She’s always been very controlling towards us kids – which is the reason why she has nothing to do with me and focuses all her energy on my brother, who is compliant. I joke that I put post its on the things I want from up there when she dies, but I really do. I will have the Oriental secretary, for instance. And that goddamned skillet. The rest, I know, is going to my brother the Saint. I’ll get nothing from the estate, of that I’m certain. He’ll get all the land, the buildings, everything. I guess he needs it to raise his grandchild which I’m sure he’ll be stuck raising. Eh, whatever. I really *would* sell that shit. I don’t want to live up there. If it were up to me, I’d demo the lot of it and plow up every foot of the 17 acres. Start fresh. What really chaps my ass is that it’ll end up in the hands of my useless niece eventually.

Anyway, my family does not make me feel warm and fuzzy, they make me feel anxious and stressed out. They are energy vampires and it sucks out every bit of energy I have to go up there. But go we shall this weekend. It’s a surgical strike, in and out. I’m sorry, Nutsville friends, but my family RUINS any kind of fun I’d like to have when I’m up there. I try to make plans to see people, but when they are done with me, I don’t feel like socialising. It’s THAT BAD. So I apologize in advance for not following up with the Cantleys and the Blues. :(

And then I saw a post from this day in ’03 when I announced Missy Kat was joining us. That was ELEVEN years ago. It’s hard to believe. But it reminds me that she’s old now and I’ll be saying goodbye to her in the next few years. UGH. She’s been MY cat. She torments and soothes me. She is my shadow. I’ve never had a cat quite like Missy Kat. She’s doing fine, but when I’m maudlin, I think about death and losing the ones I love. I do the same with Nick. When my brother’s friend Aron died at work a few months ago, it shook me to my bones. One day I say goodbye to Nick as he heads to work and I never see him again? I’d probably lose my mind. I don’t know why I think these things, but I’ve always been a worst case scenario kind of girl. It’s my Scorpio nature to think about death and dying I suppose. Bleh. Bad habit.

That’s it for my rambling this morning. I’ve got numbers to crunch and money to find. BTW, if anyone wants to loan me $15k or knows a rich person who’ll loan me $15k, you know how to get ahold of me. We need just a bit more money for the pub. Actually $10k would do the trick. Anyone? Bueller? ;)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve had a head cold for 10 days now. It’s in its last stages but I’m ragged out. I called and told the family that we’re not coming up there this weekend. I just can’t face the damn Black Friday traffic and the bullshit.

We’re scheduled to go the following weekend of Dec 5. It’s like a bandaid, you just gotta yank it off and be done with it. Bleh.

Got the LLC going for Player One and got my EIN (Fed Employer ID Number for payroll taxes). Talked with the broker yesterday and looked at the property again. Rob went with me and overall, he gave it a good bill of health, other than it being “big”. The previous owners walked out and left EVERYTHING. That place is CRAMMED with kitchen equipment, smallwares, you name it. On top of that, we got into two of the three trailers of shit in the back lot to find MOAR bar equipment, dozens of boxes of glassware, all the patio furniture and who knows what else in the third trailer. The door was stuck on that one, so we couldn’t see. Overall, it’s shocking how much CRAP is in this place. But it’s good, because it’s looking more and more like a true turnkey, outfitted right down to the plates. Crazy!

We’ve also decided that the SBA and other banks can suck it. Nick reminded me that we can borrow against our 401k to the tune of $25k, so there ya go. We have the money to get started on a shoestring. All together we have about $46k of available funds between cash, 401k loan and credit cards. WE CAN DO THIS. We can get started up with a small menu and small bar, then ramp up with a Kickstarter. Why not? Several other restaurants have done this successfully in ATL. IT WILL WORK.

It’s been very exciting to realise that we don’t need the help of asshole banks. FUCK THEM. Nick and I have very wide self sufficiency streaks and this suits us just fucking fine. We want to make it or break it on our own terms. Even if this fails and we have to pay back the 401k loan ourselves, the payments are wee and it won’t hurt us that badly.

And finally: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Rob’s smoking us a turkey breast and I’m going to make smashed garlic potatoes with gravy, cranberry compote, brussels sprouts hash, peas w/ onions and a bourbon pecan pie. :)

Rage Against the Machine

I just wish every bank, mortgage company and all other money hoarding institutions were dissolved. THEY are the reason this country is fucked up. THEY are the reason the economy sucks, there are no jobs and everyone is fucking broke.

EXCEPT the money hoarders themselves, of course. He who has the gold makes the rules.

We have about $50k in assets. We have credit cards with about $8k+ available credit w/ no balances. We have no debt!! Nick makes $65k for fuck’s sake!

Yet we can’t qualify for even the most modest loan to start up our business. Nothing. Nada. We don’t “qualify” according to SBA standards. What are those standards you ask? GOOD QUESTION. I got lame ass excuses like “not a good business to go into”, “you have had a bankruptcy”, “your score is 150 and it must be over 170 by SBA standards” and the best: “your credit cards are too full”. Really? Zero balance is too full for you, huh? Credit in the 700s is too low for you, huh? You don’t like to fund restaurants, huh? Funny, that is not what I was told in the goddam class I paid $140 to attend. The SBA claims to exist to help small business, but apparently ONLY if your small business is already started up and profitable.

I am so fucking irritated with this country. The fucking money hoarders fucked everything and everybody without lube, but I am the bad guy for saving myself. We got rid of horrible debt and a house worth 30% of what we paid for it TO START OVER. And we did! We are over three years out, debt free and our credit scores are good. But does any of that matter? NOPE. Donald motherfucking Trump has bankrupted MULTIPLE times. I’ll bet HE can get a fucking loan.

The very entity that is supposed to encourage new business startups [SBA] doesn’t want to lend money to the people who are trying to START UP a business! They want you to have six months under your belt first… Um. It’s hard to have six months of business records when you can’t get the money to start the fucking business. Chicken and egg. Old white men fucking over EVERYONE.

I just hate the whole fucking racket. The American Dream is a fucking LIE. You can do everything RIGHT and still have nothing to show for it. We are pretty much fucked at this point. We have the idea and the know how to do it, but with no money, we can’t get started. It’s a bitter fucking pill.

I WILL NOT GIVE UP. There has got to be a way to make this happen. Traditional banks can eat a dick. We’ll just have to find another way. Anyone need a kidney?

Broke motherfuckers start up businesses every day. Broke motherfuckers borrow money every fucking day. It’s too bad I’m not black and I can’t prove my Native American status. Just being female is not enough to “qualify” for any help whatsoever. It’s ridiculous. THIS is why there are so few white female entrepreneurs. WE CAN’T GET ANY HELP!!

I’ve given myself a headache. A rage headache. And I still can’t make my pub happen. This sucks ass. >:(