Saturday, September 27, 2014

What circle of hell is house hunting in the Bay Area?

We've been up to a bit over here at the Diaz household....one of the biggest things is that we've decided to take the plunge and buy our first home in the Bay Area. Now, if you live here, you KNOW what kind of hell I'm entering....and chances are, if you live anywhere, buying your first home falls somewhere in the seven circles of Dante's Hell.

We found THE place, but became stubborn when they wanted to increase the price even though the agent had just sold the same layout for $475K. Stubbornness usually ends badly. But, as a Taurus and a lawyer's daughter, sometimes I just can't help myself. Suffice to say, we didn't get the place.

When another place, same exact layout, came on the market, we jumped on it. And that's when the hell really started. This agent has a monopoly on the complex that we want to live in, so she knew that we want in, because she knew we had written and lost out on the other place.

Though our income, and credit, would be good enough for anywhere else (apparently), but the Bay Area, it puts us in the tricky position of being too poor to be a decent enough down payment down, and too rich to qualify for any possible home-buying assistance.

Hell, I'm just grateful that I have a decent job that I happen to love, but I can't help wishing my hubby made more. That he could help out more with finances...and I know that's not very modern of me, but it's how I feel, especially when we put ourselves into financially stressful situations. But, isn't this part of marriage? Weathering the stressful and hard times together, and being stronger for it. I'm also lucky enough to have a man that has no issue with making less, and has offered to sign a paper giving me full ownership, should anything happen. Obviously that's not romantic, but it's good to be realistic and protect yourself, right?

So, here we are...we put in an offer which was a fair market amount, gave them the option of keeping the appliances, and appraisal contingency. They offered back a thousand less than asking, no contingency, we keep the appliances, and no appraisal contingency. For those that have no clue what an appraisal contingency is, it's something that's put on the contract, so if the house appraises for less than what you agreed on (and what the bank will loan you), then you can walk away from the deal. We wrote another offer, agreeing to everything but keeping the contingency on. She took THREE WHOLE DAYS to write back, and share her original offer...no negotiation. Nothing.

Feeling like I had no option (I guess I should tell you here that our landlord wants to kick us out at the end of October to renovate and re-rent our place at a much higher rate), I agreed to it. So, here we are, waiting...once again. The sellers signed the offer (and really, why wouldn't they? It gives them EVERYTHING and screws us), so now the selling agent, who I affectionately call Ms. Bully Slacker, is taking her sweet time sending us the contract. And I'm starting to go crazy lol

I also can't get over the fact that I feel like I've been suckered, which no one in the history of the world has ever enjoyed. They get everything, and I am still getting kicked out at the end of October. Luckily, my cousin has offered to let us stay there, but after years of not living with anyone, moving in with family will be tricky. Totally worth the end result, I keep telling myself, but I wanted to get this deal done so we could move in at the end of October.

I know everyone goes through this, maybe not to this extent, but at least some small part of it...and we're not alone. I'm trying to force the positive on me, I mean is it possible to have buyer's remorse before you're even in contract? I think it's just that I'm sick of waiting, you know? I'm sick of not knowing FOR SURE that it's ours, ours, and not being able to get started on the planning, of being kept in a stressful sort of limbo...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Are Tech Tourists to Blame for SF's Newfound Douchebaggery?

There's been a lot of talk lately about tech bus routes disrupting San Francisco streets, housing activists and tech worker battles, and all the tax breaks the City is giving to tech businesses to try to keep them firmly rooted in SF, meanwhile displacing residents that have been in SF for generations and made the City what it is. "What's happening to our City?" some hipster whines into their $5 single-drip, locally sourced, organic cup of coffee.

                                               (photo courtesy of www.californiabeat.org)

I was born in SF, raised in the Bay Area, and very proudly have called myself a Bay Arean long before the tech tourists arrived, or E-40 gave us our official unofficial anthem. I remember the first wave of dot-comers, and how in the 90s the same woeful cries arose out of the artsy fartsy depths of the City. Have we sold out? Where is the true essence of SF? And then, BOOM! The bubble exploded, and everyone went back to their lives.

But, those dot-comers would come back full force in the form of, what I call, tech tourists. People that have hopped off of planes and busses from Iowa or India, with nothing but a laptop and a dream...much like those starry eyed future waitresses or strippers hop off the busses at Union Station in LA. They came to the city after the social media boom, and have come in search of building an app or a website, just to sell it off to the highest bidder. They hunt VCs like that starry eyed girl hunts famous actors or directors, hoping for a shot at the big time. I can go on and on with stereotypes, and if you want to add some more, feel free to leave them in the comments. The tech tourists are plagued with the same gripe as every other tourist in the country- thanks for the economic and employment boom, but you suck for the traffic, attitude,  and trash you leave behind.


Is it the tech companies that are responsible for gentrifying neighborhoods, and displacing the generations-old families who helped to make the City great? Somewhat. (Pssst...it's also the City who has long since fought any form of development.) Is it hypocritical for transient hipsters to proclaim their love for "The Mish", when they don't know its history as a punk haven and gang territory? Sorta. Is it so bad that a new sub-culture of people have found their home in SF? I'm not so sure. SF has been home to prostitutes, speakeasies, gold miners, labor protesters (hell, protesters of all types), beatniks, hippies, communists, homosexuals, musicians, and any other sub-culture that couldn't fit neatly into mainstream America.

Yes, the tech tourists fit neatly into mainstream America (in fact, they're creating mainstream America, for the better or worse, you decide). However, you cannot applaud innovation, and then turn your back on it once it interrupts your bus schedule, or adds an insane amount of traffic to your commute. You cannot be an app addict, not even talking to the person sitting across from you at lunch, and applaud the influx of employment then, get mad when those employees are using a greener means of transportation. Let me be clear, I'm very against kicking people out whose families have lived in SF, and built the City to what it is, due to high rents and in favor of people that will tear down a mom and pop shop so that they can have their daily half-caf, light Vanilla "Macchiato".

                                         (courtesy of www.techcrunch.com)

So, it's the age old question, what came first? The tech tourists or the almost total overhaul of what makes SF The City? I dragged my husband up here from that self-involved wasteland of LA, with promises of a "much cooler and nicer" SF, only to find that the SF I remember has long since moved on....possibly to Seattle or Portland. I remember SF, much like you remember your first love, with rosy lenses, and I remember a city full of compassion, consciousness, political awareness (heck, awareness in general), polite manners, and warmth. Now, I've found a City full of self-involved douchebags claiming to be cool and innovative; without any thought to those around them as they walk, totally absorbed in their own lives and cell phones; without so much as a smile when someone says "hello"; with restaurant tables FULL of people not engaging with each other, but with their cell phones, and with just the very slightest glimpse of what it used to be. Our City, the one we love, is still there. We just have to dig a little deeper than we have in the past.

The reality is that I don't think this dialogue is limited to SF, I think that worldwide there are people that have forgotten what it's like to be a community and to engage with friends offline, as opposed to online. But, that's another piece all together...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sorry I've been MIA...

I have been MIA for wayyyyy too long, and I'm sorry. I've missed you, I've seen the error of my ways, and now, I'm back. 2014 is going to be the year that I blog more often, and keep in touch with you guys. Remember...



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Social Media vs Community Manager

I've come across my fair share of job postings lately that confuse the difference between a Social Media Manager and a Community Manager. If you're hiring or applying for one or the other, it is helpful to know the difference between the two. So, what IS the difference?


Social Media Manager

A Social Media Manager manages social media campaigns and platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Their responsibilities include: setting up social media pages, managing engagement on those pages, curating, creating and publishing posts on all social media pages, providing analytics on all social media efforts, developing and delivering comprehensive social media marketing plans (including influencer programs, engagement strategies,content calendars, editorial calendars, etc), customer support on all consumer-facing social media pages, establishing best practices and training, if needed, for all platforms, and any and all actions related to social media efforts for a brand(s).

Community Manager

A Community Manager manages an already established online community composed of members, usually centered around a common interest like interior design/home decor (Houzz), photography (Instagram) or many different things (Pinterest). Their responsibilities include: outreach to increase membership, creating a content plan and publishing content for the online community, becoming an active and highly involved member of the community, ensuring that all community members follow the community's guidelines for behavior and content, communicating the needs and feedback of the members to other departments such as the tech team, CEO, and Customer Relations department, acting as an online babysitter of sorts, editing content when necessary, submitting bugs and spam reports, and all actions related to maintaining the online community as dictated by the CEO or their direct supervisor.

Social Media Community Manager

At times, these two combine to be listed as a Social Media Community Manager. After all, both Instagram and Pinterest are social media pages that can (and should) be leveraged to benefit brand awareness. What happens once you research, develop, and establish these social media platforms, should you just turn away? What happens if online communities become social media must-haves? There are times when you are going to need both, especially if you're a start-up. I think it's even more accurate to add an and in there, so it reads Social Media and Community Manager.


I hope this helps to clear up some confusion. When you're posting a job listing, now you'll know if you're looking for a Social Media Manager, a Community Manager or both. You'll be able to save time going through resumes and interviews with people that don't have the qualifications specific to your needs.

If I left out anything or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave comments and/or questions below in the comments!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coming to Terms with My Dad and Frontotemporal Dementia....

I've been quiet for quite a while. It hasn't been completely on purpose, I have had the best of intentions of starting posts, but of course life got in the way. A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimers. We didn't quite believe it because he could remember us all and didn't seem to have the symptoms of Alzheimers. We pushed back and demanded a better answer. We received it in the form of a more devastating diagnosis, if that's even possible, of Frontotemporal Dementia, a rare form of Dementia. What the hell is that?!?

Well, I'll try my best because I don't fully understand it either. It primarily affects the frontal and temporal lobes, those that are associated with emotions, language, and personality. It happens between the ages of 40-70. Though, my dad was about 76 when we finally got him diagnosed, there is no doubt that this is what he has. They said that people that are highly cerebral and intelligent can suppress symptoms for years, until they can't do it any longer. For more info, please check out the Mayo Clinic.

For the first couple of years, I took it on myself. My brother was in denial and we all went on with our lives as I worked from home and shuttled him to doctor's appointments. But, he was FINE. He lived on his own at the time in a senior community that he loved. He had a girlfriend. He had a life. He had a routine, he'd go to La Boulangerie and they'd serve him his blueberry muffin and black coffee. He was happy. And then, it all changed what seemed like overnight.

For two years, I, no, we his family, had tricked ourselves. Sure, he had some trouble speaking and with balance, appearing drunk though he was dead sober. But, he was FINE. I got a call from the E.R. someone had seen my dad fall in a grocery store parking lot and was concerned. I rushed to the hospital, scared to death that he was going to have a concussion. He was FINE. He was fine until I got another call from the E.R. because someone had seen my dad fall in the store and was concerned. Again, I rushed to the hospital and he had a neck brace, but he was FINE. Until I got yet another call from the E.R., an ambulance had seen him laying on the side of the road from what appeared to be a fall and he had hit the back of his head HARD.

He was not fine and I had to finally stand up for my dad. I told the doctor about his previous falls and my concern. He wouldn't release him until he had 24 hour care. Where do I start? What do I do NOW? I've just spent a week at the hospital and my dad is scared and angry and confused. How do I keep him safe and happy?!? How do I parent my parent?


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cream Cheese Carrot Cake Muffins

So, I'm sure by now you've been acquainted with Pinterest. It's my new favorite time-suck and one of the reasons is because of all the mouthwatering recipes I find on there. I thought that this one was well worth sharing and it comes from kingarthurflour.com. Click on the title of this post to get re-directed there but, I've added the recipe below. Can't wait to try these!!!! Happy Baking!!!



Filling

  • one 8-ounce package cream cheese or Neufch√Ętel cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • a few drops of Fiori di Sicilia flavor, optional but very tasty

Muffins

  • 2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup grated carrots, lightly packed; about 2 medium-large carrots

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a standard 12-well muffin pan. Or line the pan with paper muffin cups, and grease the cups.
2) To make the filling: Place the cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat on low power for 40 seconds. Stir in the sugar and flavor. Set aside.
3) To make the muffin batter: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
4) In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and oil.
5) Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
6) Fold in the grated carrots, stirring to combine.
7) Drop about 2 tablespoons of the batter (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here) into each muffin cup, spreading it to cover the bottom.
8) Dollop on a heaping tablespoon of filling; a level tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.
9) Cover with enough batter to fill the muffin cups quite full. The batter will come to within about 1/4" to 3/8" of the top of each muffin cup. But don't try to use all the batter; unless you have particularly deep cups, you'll have abut 1/3 cup batter left over. Bake it in a separate custard cup, if desired.
10) Bake the muffins until a toothpick inserted into the cake part of one (not into the cream cheese filling) comes out clean, about 20 minutes. The tops of the muffins will feel firm to the touch.
11) Remove the muffins from the oven, and as soon as you're able to handle them, transfer them to a rack. If you serve the muffins warm, the filling will be molten. If you wait for them to cool, it'll firm up.
Yield: 12 filled muffins plus 1 unfilled muffin.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to Make an Easy, Romantic Valentine's Day/Anniversary Dinner

I know it's not so popular to say that I'm not into Valentine's Day because I'd rather be given flowers or candy on a random Tuesday, not because Hallmark tells you to show me you love me. For more, I wrote a review of Valentine's Day. Little did I know it would cause such an uproar, and surprisingly enough, most of my naysayers were men. But, like I told them, I'm not super anti-VD, I just don't like to get caught up in the craziness of it. I usually reserve that for Christmas LOL. Unfortunately, I missed our 3 year anniversary on Feb. 4th, so we postponed it until this weekend which happens to be V Day weekend. Luckily for me, I can combine both celebrations into one dinner at home that I had wanted to impress him with anyhow and that I can share with you guys that don't want to get caught up in the craziness of it but, still want to show your special someone that they're...er...special.

So, let me know if I'm crazy but, I'm thinking Baked Chicken with Herb Skin and Roasted Garlic Cream Gravy with Oreo truffles for dessert. He love Oreos and chocolate, so there you go for dessert. The beauty of the Baked Chicken dish, thank you very much Rachel Ray, is that you will have three meals for the price of one- absolutely perfect for these economic hard times!


Baked Chicken with Herb Skin and Roasted Garlic Cream Gravy

INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 boiling onions or 8 cipollini onions
  • 2 large heads garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for liberal drizzling
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 6 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 6 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 pound baby potatoes
  • 1 cup purple carrots or baby carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 cups baby spinach, packed, coarsely chopped
 PREPARATION:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Take out the gizzards and organs (I know, I said a huge OMGOMGOMG my first time I did this)
  3. Prepare veggies and place in a roasting pan- I would quarter potatoes and cut the carrots into smaller pieces, so that they will roast easily. 
  4. Cut the heads of garlic to expose all of the cloves. Drizzle EVOO over the exposed garlic, then press into the rosemary to coat. Wrap the garlic in foil and roast in the oven until tender, 45 minutes.
  5.  Loosen the skin of the chicken that covers the chest and thighs and legs. Arrange the tarragon and parsley sprigs, bay leaves and thyme leaves under the skin, distributing evenly around the bird. Rub 4 tablespoons of softened butter all over the bird skin, then season liberally with salt and pepper. Settle the bird over top of the potatoes and vegetables. Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then switch on the broiler to crisp the skin, 5-8 minutes.
  6.  When the garlic is done, let cool until it's cool enough to handle. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins and mash into a paste.
  7.  In a saucepot, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and whisk in the mashed garlic. Let thicken for 5 minutes, then add the cream and reduce the heat to low.
  8. Remove the chicken from oven and carve. Fold the spinach into the vegetables to wilt. Serve the vegetables and chicken with gravy on top.

Oreo Truffles: Makes: 3 1/2 dozen  Takes: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
  • 1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted

 

 

Directions

  1. Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
  2. Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.
  3. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

Footnotes

  • How to How to Easily Dip Truffles 
  • Place truffle ball in melted chocolate to coat; roll if necessary. Lift truffle from chocolate using 2 forks (this will allow excess chocolate to run off) before placing on wax paper. 

So, what do you guys think? I'll have to let you know how it turned out and how F liked it!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

How To DIY Vinyl Record Bowl!

Hey guys! Thought I'd share a couple of pictures of our homemade wedding fund bowl...actually, I have two. One's a vase for pennies and the other is the bowl for all other coins.



The bowl is a Bobby Gentry and Glen Campbell vinyl record that my friend got at a thrift store for 50 cents but, I've bought vinyl for as low as a nickel. This is her creation- thanks Jill! She was kind enough to give me the how-to, so I can share it with all of you! There are two methods, so whichever works for you- go for it!

1) The fun part! Shopping for vinyl!!!! Go to your local thrift store or garage sales or second-hand record stores and buy a cheap record that reflects your musical taste.
2) Preheat your oven to 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit (100-150 Celsius)
3) Place your record on the center of an upside down, oven-safe bowl on top of a baking sheet.
4) Place in oven and KEEP A CLOSE WATCH.
5) Each oven is different but, the record takes around 4-8 minutes to "droop" or melt around the bowl.
6) Wearing oven mitts (duh!), take out your creation and place it around another bowl.
7) Either mold it around the bowl or you can hand mold it to your liking. If you like what it looks like after you take it out of the oven, ignore this step.
8) Let cool for 10-15 minutes.
9) Flip it over and you're done!


 

View from bottom of the bowl
"Edges Up Method" (I think this is the easier version!)
1)Find an oven-safe glass bowl that's slightly smaller than the record.
2) Preheat oven to 200-250 F or 100-150 C.
3) Put the record, centered, over the top of the glass bowl.
4) Put the record and bowl into the oven, place a can (canned food) on top of the record.
5) Again, WATCH THE BOWL CAREFULLY!  If the sides of the record start to fold over the glass bowl, then your can may not be heavy enough, or you might need a larger bowl. If you don't want to start over, or if you simply want a deeper vinyl bowl, try pushing the can down carefully.
6) When you like what you see, take the bowl out of the oven.
7) Cool for 10-15 minutes, flip and enjoy!



View from the side
These bowls are really cute, you can infuse your musical taste throughout the house and they also make great, inexpensive gifts. I just made it into the wedding fund, with my so obvious DIY sign, because it's cute, convenient and very "us".
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Be The Change You Wish To See In The World...

I know we are all caught up in our own issues and hardships. Every once in a while, an unfortunate disaster happens in some place that you don't quite give too much thought to, and it reminds us how lucky we are to be alive- to be at the right place at the right time, even if it doesn't always feel like it. When things like that happen, we often feel overwhelmed with the desire to help but, have no clue where to start. I've made it easy for you. I've listed 3 different aid agencies below that are assisting in Haiti relief.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, the citizens live on under $1 a day and half of them are under 21 years of age. The Archbishop is reported killed, the embassies are destroyed, the National Penitentiary has collapsed with reports of inmates escaping, bodies are being stacked on top of each other "block after block after block" reports CNN Pentagon Correspondant. So, yes, there will be a lot of aid needed and I'm sending this plea: Instead of your morning coffee, donate that amount to one of the agencies listed below. You can go without coffee for a couple of days or you can make it at home (because I will tell you that I can't survive without my coffee but, I can make due with just regular, cheap, and homemade) and it'll help tremendously.

I hope this finds you well and if you have family or friends in Haiti, may you find them healthy and well. Here's the toll-free number for you to locate information on your family/friends: 1-888-407-4747. My thoughts are with Haiti at this devastating time. We do not have to be overwhelmed, we do have the power to help.

  • Text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 to Wyclef Jean's Haiti relief efforts, the maximum number of texts is 6; however, you can go to www.yele.org and donate as much as you want. 100% of funds go to relief efforts.
  • Red Cross relief is "incredibly overwhelmed" and water is of the utmost importance. To donate to Red Cross efforts, You can also text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief efforts for Haiti. The amount will be added to your cell phone credit card bill. OR you can donate the International Relief Fund.
  • UNICEF: Here is the link to the donation form to help Haiti's children.
  • Here's a link to my full list of 5 aid agencies (good news: you don't always have to spend money...you can drop off much needed items!).
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    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    'Tis the Season For Baking....

    So, it's the holidaze and I've been baking up a storm! My three favorite crowd-pleasers for this season are fudge, Neiman Marcus' cookies (I'll tell you a funny story about that later) and an apple pie recipe that I got from Real Simple that wowed my family at Thanksgiving. If you're like me and want to save some money this holiday season, baking your neighbors, co-workers, and friends some treats, (as a potluck addition, X-mas presents or as a thank-you-for-having-me-over) is a nice, inexpensive and delcious way to say that you appreciate them. Without further ado, here are the recipes all in one place to make it easy for you!

    Fudge: Makes 48 servings or 3 lbs. Total time: 2 1/2 hours, includes cooling

    1 7oz. jar of marshmallow creme
    1 1/2 cups of sugar (you can cut this down a little if you like your fudge less sweet, my FI complained it was a little too sweet for his taste and he LOVES chocolate)
    2/3 cup evaporated milk
    1/4 cup of BUTTER (don't sub margarine in for butter, it has much more water and will affect the fudge)
    1/4 tsp. of salt
    2 cups milk chocolate chips (one 12oz bag)
    1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 tsp. of vanilla extract

    1) Line a 8x8 pan with aluminum foil, so that the foil goes over the side. (I put mine in a 9x9 because I didn't have a 8x8 and it turned out well and if you double the recipe- put it in a 13x9 pan.)
    2) In a large saucepan, heat on low to start: marshmallow creme, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Make sure that you have your ingredients measured out before putting them in the saucepan to keep from burning- start it on low and slowly increase to boil to cook for 5-7mins, constantly stirring. Keep an eye to make sure it doesn't burn.
    3) Remove from heat and pour in the chocolate chips, stir until melted and the mixture is smooth.
    4) Stir in vanilla.
    5) Pour into pan and chill the fridge for 2 hours or until firm.

    Neiman Marcus' Cookies: Makes 120 cookies Total time: 1 hour, includes bake time

    OK, before I give you the recipe, I owe you a story. I'm not sure if this is true or some sort of publicity stunt, I tend to think it's true. A woman, some friend of a friend of my mom's, was shopping at Neiman Marcus and had stopped by their bakery/cafe to have a shopping snack. She had decided to try their cookies and thought that they were to die for, the best things she's EVER tasted. So, she asked the salesman if he had the recipe and if she could have it. He said, "Sure it's 250." So, she (I guess having forgot she was at NM) said, "OK, put it on my bill", thinking he meant $2.50. She got her NM bill and lo and behold, $250 for this recipe. She was so upset that she decided to post the recipe everywhere so that NM wouldn't make another penny on it. I thought I'd try it out before pimping out the recipe and I have to say, they're pretty damn good. So, here you are- for free. Happy Holidaze!
    2 cups butter
    24oz chocolate chips
    4 cups flour
    2 cups brown sugar
    2 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. salt
    2 cups sugar
    1 8oz. Hershey chocolate bar, grated
    5 cups blended oatmeal
    4 eggs
    2 tsp baking powder
    2 tsp vanilla
    3 cups chopped nuts

    1) Preheat oven to 375.
    2) Measure the oatmeal and blend in blender until it's a fine powder.
    3) Cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.
    3) Add: eggs and vanilla.
    4) Mix with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda. Add: chocolate chips, grated Hershey bar, and nuts.
    5) Roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
    6) Bake at 375 for 10 minutes (though I've cooked these at 25 minutes and they turned out perfectly)

    Gingery Apple Crumb Pie (via Real Simple's November '09 Issue): Serves: 8 Total time: 3 hours, includes cooling
    1 piecrust, store-bought or homemade, fitted into a 9-inch pie plate
    1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour. spooned and leveled
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 1/2 pounds of apples (about 4 apples like Granny Smith, Braeburn, or Empire), peeled and thinly sliced- when I did this for Thanksgiving I had extra slices, so you'd probably be safe with 3 apples instead of 4.
    1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
    1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. kosher salt (I've substituted regular salt for this and it's fine, if you don't have any kosher in your kitchen)

    1) Set an oven rack in the lowest position and heat oven to 375F.
    2) In a food processor/blender, pulse the butter, 3/4 cup of the flour, and 1/4 cup of sugar until large clumps form. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
    3) In a large bowl, toss the apples, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and tbsp of flour.
    4) Transfer the apple mixture to the crust, sprinkle with the crumb topping, and bake until the top is golden and the apples are tender, 55 to 60 minutes. Serve warm at room temperature. (Vanilla ice cream optional but, HIGHLY recommended ;p)

    I hope these recipes bring you, your family and your loved ones much joy this holiday season. Enjoy!
    Happy Holidays- Team Bride.

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