Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's that you hear?

It was the week before Christmas,
And all through the house,
Ribbons, boxes scattered like a madhouse.
The girl has been bustling to the point of despair,
In hopes to reach the post office with moments to spare.

Packages and treats and wondrous spreads
All await their delivery down everyone's homesteads.
So maybe today we can sneak in a catnap,
But not before realizing everything has been ASAP.

So if you've been wondering where we've been,
And why we've been out of sight,
We haven't gone anywhere,
Just staying up late every night.

Nothing is wrong,
We haven't forgotten,
The things that we've done
Simply made us exhausted.

Soon it will be Christmas and we will be rolling,
We just hope for good weather and wind that's not blowing.
But we'll be back here with updates and glee,
To tell you our tales and things that go squee!

And if we don't get a chance to wish you cheer before then,
Let the wishes of safe journeys be spread for everyone, amen.
May you have a wondrous and happy holiday,
And we'll be back to blogging again soon - someday.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bah Humbug

I know I haven't done a gratitude list in a few weeks. Michael's parents were here the 4th and then 11th we were in Denver. I have been going non-stop for weeks and weeks and don't see it stopping until after the holiday.

I am really actually quite down this year. I didn't get a holiday - not a normal one. Things got kind of messed up since when we were in Denver in November. I just haven't had much rest and time to do my usual holiday prep. By now I normally have had presents done, mailed or close to mailing, cards mailed out, house decorated, tree up and decorated, cookies baked, candies made and so on...the only thing done completely on that list is house is decorated. Everything else has things to do still. Some of the holiday cards are out but we didn't have enough stamps so the rest are sitting here waiting for stamps. I haven't made any of my presents but got all the supplies today while we were out. I have not baked anything. Our tree isn't up and I don't see that happening until the weekend. I usually have watched Miracle on 34th Street about 10 times by now but hasn't even been popped in the DVD player yet.

So it isn't our normal Christmas and I am down about it the holiday. I don't feel like we have been home much lately. At least just home to enjoy the holidays and get that Christmas spirit. Usually I am always the one with the holiday spirit...not this year. Someone please find a little extra and pass it my way please?

I need to get back to work on my endless list...and hopefully I will see some positives before Friday's gratitude posting.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Just Rolling By....

* celebrated Michael's 40th birthday this weekend with his parents. It was nice. Made him a maple butterscotch cake that turned out perfect in the new oven.

* Saw New Moon this weekend - I liked it a lot more than Twilight.

* I lent Michael's Mom my Twilight book. She has seen the movie but not read any of the books. I am guessing will want to see the movie again after reading the book.) It was kind of cute how excited she was to see New Moon.

* We go to Denver this week - leave Wednesday won't be back until Saturday.

* I am so behind on all my holiday things this year and it is really annoying me.

* I finished An Echo in the Bone - the 7th book in the Outlander series...and it left me wondering when book 8 will be out. It frustrated me at times. I love Jamie & Claire and Roger & Brianna so I was eager to keep moving through the book. And it had surprises for me that I never thought I would it was very good over all. But I want book 8 NOW! (imagine me stamping my feet like a four year old.)

* I doubt I will be reading much more until after the holidays as I am just so behind on everything. But I did pass my total for last year on reading. I am at 130 right now. I have 2 books I am reading now that I will finish before the new year I am sure so it will probably end at 132.

That is about it for now. Doubt I will be able to update again until after we get back from Denver.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just a little update...

We were in Denver last week for work. It was easy for me. I sat in the hallway all day reading so that no one would walk into the filming area while they were filming. The first day we didn't know that I would be doing that and I only had a couple magazines in my bag. And I so regretted not throwing my book in my bag before we left in the morning. As I started the new book of the Outlander series. So the second day you know I brought it and enjoyed being able to read so much of it!

Michael's Dad makes the BEST sauce with meatballs. I have never tasted anything so good. They only make them once a year as it is a full day of cooking. So we gorged ourselves on that our first night in Denver.

I am watching The Holiday right now. I am trying to resist watching Love Actually until later in December as it is a good Christmas movie. And I really hope I can convince Michael to watch it with me this year. I know he would like it....even if he has doubts.

I called in one of my prescriptions over a week ago and my doctor called me to say he wanted to see me. Just to check in on how my meds were working. So while there I decided to ask about something I have been putting off going to the doctor for that has been bothering me for a long time - I mentioned it a while back about how I have a pain down my bottom and into one of my legs. It feels like a pulled muscle or pinched nerve. I hardly can stand up after sitting too long. And If I stand too long it hurts too. Bending over get the picture. So I discussed that with him and he told me what he felt I had - gave me some exercises and also gave me prescription that is helping. My pain level today has been great. But the meds is making me feel out of it, very tired and dizzy. It feels like I am kind of in a fog. So I am hoping those symptoms get better as it gets more in my system. But if it doesn't....well maybe going down in the dosage will help. Right now I am just thrilled to have the pain level go down so much.

The new oven is GREAT! I can't believe how well things are cooking in it. Turkey dinner turned out great. The rolls I made turned out perfect. But....for some reason my pumpkin pie didn't turn out very good. Not due to baking. It just tastes a little off almost like I didn't add sugar but I know I did because....I realized at the end that I didn't and added it. So not sure what I forgot. It isn't horrible - it just isn't as good as usual. Really though I can't wait to bake cookies!

I am going to start decorating for Christmas next week. Not sure what else is going on....making presents and getting holiday cards out. That is about it.


I think I am going to sign off and actually go to bed early for me.

This weekend has been very nice. Relaxing with Michael, eating and just having a great time together laughing and talking.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gratitude Friday

My status messages on Facebook expressing gratitude this past week...

Monday - Today I am thankful for the down time I got yesterday. It was nice to do nothing.

Tuesday - Today I am thankful for a good doctor check up, for being able to play with a cute little kitten at a friend's house and for seeing beautiful inspiring art.

Wednesday - Today I am thankful for my parents, sister, grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins and my cousin's children. I am very blessed to have an amazing family!

Thursday - I am pretty much going to copy and paste what M posted for his it says it just a dear friend of ours lost her older brother. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to her and her family. Please take a moment to reflect and be thankful to be surrounded by family and friends on Thanksgiving - knowing exactly how precious life actually is. Make it count today.

and I also did for Thursday...
Today I am thankful for my Michael. He is an amazing man that I am blessed to share my life with and I so thankful for him. I love you! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I recognize that I have so many amazing people and things in my life to be thankful for and I feel very blessed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

100 Things | Tissues

26. There are always many boxes of kleenex in our house.

I have allergies. And I can't go anywhere without a tissue. I know it would be greener to start using hankies but it is just not something I can do - I just don't like it. So I use tissues and have a box pretty much in every room of the house. That box is the one sitting in my office. We got these funky designed boxes on clearance at Target. I like them as they are so bright and cheerful. We usually just get the big multi pack at Sam's. I think it has 10 to 12 boxes in it. They last me pretty good but Michael often says we need stock in Kleenex because of how much I do need them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book Review: Christmas in Minutes

Christmas in Minutes: Festive Crafts in Less Than an Hour Christmas in Minutes: Festive Crafts in Less Than an Hour by Carol Cox

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Product description from Amazon:
Who isn't busy during the holidays? Clear, concise instructions teamed with brilliant yet simple ideas make this new book a must-have for holiday crafters with little free time on their hands. Taking only five to fifty-five minutes to complete, each project can be fitted into a busy schedule. The 30 projects are arranged in sections according to the time required to complete them. For example, gift tags decorated with bay leaves and rosemary sprigs can be made in under 15 minutes. It takes only 30 minutes to make a calla lily centerpiece. Forty-five minutes is plenty of time to make door wreaths, a glimmering silver twig tree, or an elegant eucalyptus garland. Designs use simple and available materials (natural or artificial) such as pine cones, fruits, ribbons, cinnamon sticks and grapevine wreaths to give your home that handcrafted feel without a lot of work.

If you are intimidated by flower arranging or using flowers in your decorating, this book might be a good start. It has some simple projects to do in 15 to 45 minutes that look elegant and just perfect for the holidays. I am not going to say it is great book. It does have some good arrangements but some of them are also a little busy - to me. But for a start - I think it would be a good to even just read to get ideas.

Some of the projects...
Cally Lily Tree (on the cover)
Dried Apple Ring
Berry Heart Chairback
Festive Pinecone
Clove studded and carved limes
Leaf Wrapped Candles

Also how-to instructions on how to make a triple bow, dry fruit, make lime roses, moss rope and so on.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gratitude Friday (on Saturday)

We are out of town so I haven't been able to keep up with my thankful posts on Facebook.

Saturday - Today I am thankful for all my Ohio friends. I miss all of the good times and have some amazing memories which makes me incredibly lucky to have made such wonderful long-lasting friendships when I lived there.

Sunday - Today I am thankful that Michael finished a big part of a project. He has been working long hours to get it done. Maybe tonight he will get some sleep.

Monday - Today I am thankful for Kaylee and Jen. I met you both around the same time through the same group and I am so very happy I did as you are amazing friends. Thank you for being so supportive, giving sound advice and sharing many laughs over the years.

Tuesday - Today I am thankful for a new OVEN already to make dinner in, an early Christmas present from a dear friend (3 little owls), that the 7th book in the Outlander series is ready to pick up at the library, Star Trek is out on DVD and for Michael introducing himself to me 7 years ago today.

Wednesday - Today I am thankful for it being a bright sunny day as we are traveling across the mountain passes to Denver.

Saturday - Today I am thankful getting to spend some time with Michael's parents, for Frank's famous spaghetti and meatballs, for working with a great bunch of people in Denver and now for being home.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

100 Things | Coloring

25. I like to color.

I have always liked to a little girl and still now as a 42 old woman. It is relaxing. It is fun. It is just a little thing that gives me a pleasure. Right now I have several Christmas coloring books, a Disney Princess coloring book, a Pooh coloring book that has a little girl named Darby in it, a Precious Moments, a couple other generic coloring books with animals, princesses and such. Now that it is getting close to Christmas - I will be breaking out my Christmas coloring books to color in while watching The Polar Express, Miracle on 34th Street, Charlie Brown Christmas and the other Christmas DVD's we have.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review: Making the Perfect Christmas

Christmas: Making the Perfect Celebration Christmas: Making the Perfect Celebration by Carolyn BELL

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If you want a complete guide that gives you ideas for food, entertaining, decorations, gift giving and crafts for the holiday season - this is the book for you. The book begins with a countdown to Christmas, with helpful tips on what to buy when, and which preparations should be done first. It includes a week-by-week countdown to help you plan and organize your Christmas shopping and cooking, plus a timetable for preparing food on Christmas Day and suggested holiday menus. I found the recipes and projects to range from simple to complex. There are projects on how to create a festive table setting, how to decorate your home with projects to make wreaths, garland and candles, how to make homemade ornaments to decorate your Christmas tree and how to create your own holiday cards and gift-wrap. It has a whole section of crafts to make with kids too. Their are menus and recipes for holiday dinners, vegetarian meals, party foods and buffet dishes. The recipes include several different stuffing recipes, sauces and preserves, desserts and treats, drinks and cocktails and edible gifts. There were some recipes that sounded delicious to me and others that I didn't sound appetizing to me at all. I really enjoyed the vegetarian meal selections. The book also included techniques on how to test cakes to see if they are done, how to make almond past and royal icing, how to stuff and roast a turkey, how to make a glaze and so on.

As I said it is a complete guide to Christmas...with over 200 recipes, 50 projects and 1400 color photographs.

Although I think the book was very well done and has so much to offer I didn't make notes while I had this checked out and I didn't create any of the crafts. I am not sure if that though was because I checked it out in the summer and wasn't yet really in the holiday planning stage. I do think it would be worth another look. I remember really enjoying the edible gifts recipes and many of the crafts.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gratitude Friday

On facebook I am doing a daily status message of something I am thankful for so I am going to post all the ones I did this week....

Saturday - Today I am thankful Michael is coming home. Even though he was only gone for one day I missed him like crazy!

Sunday - Today I am thankful for Facebook. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to find old friends that I lost touch with throughout the years.

Monday - Today I am thankful that I will have a new oven in time for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday - Today I am thankful for Mesa County Library. Out of the 123 books I have read so far this year maybe 3 were my own books so I am thankful they save me money and also let me check out such a wide variety of book that I wouldn't have read if I had just been looking for a book in a bookstore.

Wednesday - Today would have been my Grandpa's birthday and he was a veteran. So seems only natural to be thankful for veterans on this day. Recently we had the honor of hearing stories from vets and their families about what it is like fighting in Iraq and coming home. The pain and emotion of what they go through is much more then I could ever imagine. I am truly grateful for their service but after hearing their stories, that gratitude has increased 1000 times over. They are incredibly courageous and it is truly horrifying how they are treated when they come home. We need to do more for these brave men, women...families.

Thursday - Today I am thankful for some simple pleasures....coloring books and crayons, warm socks, bagels with cream cheese and tea

And I didn't get to one today. But I think that was a good week of gratitude for so many wonderful people and things in my life.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book Review: The Art of Giving

The Art of Giving: Gift Ideas to Delight the Senses The Art of Giving: Gift Ideas to Delight the Senses by Liezel Norval-Kruger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is from description from publishers:
Gift giving is a universal custom, but in today's harried world many of us have moved away from the more considered and creative aspects of what should be a very personal act. It should be a gesture of love, friendship, celebration, acknowledgment, and thanks. The Art of Giving is filled with inspirational ideas and practical information for the discerning gift giver on how to achieve beautiful, artful, and thoughtful gifts.

Taste, smell, and touch are the pivotal chapters. They draw on our capacity to indulge ourselves and those we love through each particular sense. Each chapter is filled with ideas and tantalizing images, as well as practical information on how to create and present wonderful gifts. Another chapter, on wrapping, will show you how to achieve expert finishing touches and inspired solutions to the most awkward of gift shapes. From handcrafted soaps and homemade potpourri to beautifully wrapped candies and an entire picnic for two, the endless variety of ideas in this book offer something for everyone. Turn to the back of the book for recipes, templates, diagrams, labels, and other do-it-yourself essentials to tell you how to do it all. For anyone who wants to create and give gifts that are more expressive, meaningful, and heartfelt than something grabbed off the shelf or ordered over the phone, The Art of Giving offers a wealth of inspiration and practical advice.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the photos and the style of the gifts and ideas. The Art of Giving is filled with quite a lot of DIY gift ideas that are inexpensive, attractive and simple to make. Also this is a great book to find ideas for those on your gift list that are impossible to shop for people. The book I previously reviewed about green giving...was good but this book has better ideas that could be implemented with green options. Such as it has tubes covered with paper, photos or postcards. Or gifts wrapped in newspaper and then tied pretty ribbon that don't look cheap but look like it was wrapped professionally because the folds are so crisp and the ribbon perfect for it. Or gifts wrapped with felt and embroidery thread to do simple stitches to close it. All their examples were lovely and I can't wait to try some of them out this year for holiday giving.

The book includes recipes, craft and label templates and instructions in the back of the book also.

Some crafts and recipes I want to try and give....
Milk & Honey Bread
Infused Brandy
Fresh Feet Bath
Shoe Bags
Sewing Kits (that would be good for men or women)
Beaded Coasters
Hot Chocolate Cream

Plus MANY MANY more ideas. It is an inspirational book and one I would love to have on in my home to refer to often.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Oven

Well it wasn't an expense we needed right now, but there will be a new oven in the kitchen before Thanksgiving. Our oven has been acting up on and off for a long time. After researching it through a home repair book, google and a domestic group I belong to...I realized that I could possibly blow us up if I kept using it. And Michael felt that the oven didn't owe him anything as he has had it since he moved in (12 years ago) - so he felt it would just be better to get a new one. So we researched a little bit and I knew the features I would like (such as self-clean and in oven broiler instead of in the drawer under the oven). We headed out to Sears yesterday morning. We had an hour before an appointment and found the one we wanted. We bought it and arranged for delivery and install in 45 minutes. But I did leave the store feeling a little much like I was having a heart attack as it was a big purchase for us right now especially right before the holidays and with how we have been hit by the terrible economy. But it is needed - not like we can really go without an oven for a long time. Especially with the holidays for baking and thanksgiving so we were kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. So I guess I will be testing it out on Thanksgiving before getting started on holiday baking.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

100 Things | Folding Clothes

24. I don't like to fold clothes.

I have a bad habit of letting laundry that needs to be folded sit in the laundry room or basket quite a long time because it is a task that I don't like. I don't mind sorting laundry. I don't mind getting it in the washer and then dryer. I just don't like folding. I would rather clean the bathroom - the task most people don't like - then fold laundry. It is something I wish I could wave a magic wand and it would all be folded and put away for me. But I don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Book Review: Simply Green Giving

Simply Green Giving: Create Beautiful and Organic Wrappings, Tags, and Gifts from Everyday Materials Simply Green Giving: Create Beautiful and Organic Wrappings, Tags, and Gifts from Everyday Materials by Danny Seo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked this book better then the party book. Again I really enjoyed the photos/styling of this book. He really hits the concept to reduce, recycle and reuse over and over. Some nice ideas about reusing household items or getting items at thrift stores to repurpose to wrap your gifts, make handmade gifts and gift tags.

I enjoyed seeing him make bows from the scented perfume cards in magazines. He tore them out very carefully. And then opened up the scented edge. He cut 1/2-inch strips across the sheet, starting at the scented edge and stopping an inch from the end. Then you fold it up accordion style - neatly stacking the strips on top of each other. With a pair of sharp scissors take each strip and curl by pulling it over the blade. The quicker you pull it over the blade the curlier it will get. And then attach to gift. The colors and images on the bow turn into a bouquet of colorful ribbon.

He also used the same concept of curling ribbon by pulling VHS tape out of the plastic tape cassette. And he wrapped a wine bottle in newspaper leaving 5 inches extra on top and cut that into strips and curled also.

Some things I didn't feel looked great. He took an old string of christmas lights to tie around a package but I just didn't think it looked good. I believe it probably could have but I just don't feel it was styled right in the book. Something else I wasn't sure about was that he used the inside of silver foil part of potato chip bags to wrap gifts. He washed them of course and then wrapped so the silver was showing out. But I just wonder how someone would feel opening a gift wrapped in a potato chip bag? I guess if they knew you were going green maybe they would accept it but would they think you were weird? Does it matter to save the environment? I don't know. But I thought it was odd. It looked pretty in the book - just wasn't sure how someone would feel opening a gift wrapped in it.

Overall the book did give me ideas for wrapping and decorating gifts in more green ways. I think often people forget repurposing is a green option.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Book Review: Simply Green Parties

Simply Green Parties: Simple and resourceful ideas for throwing the perfect celebration, event, or get-together Simply Green Parties: Simple and resourceful ideas for throwing the perfect celebration, event, or get-together by Danny Seo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed the photos/styling of this book. I enjoyed many of the ideas. Seo brings the concept to reduce, recycle and reuse upfront in party planning. Very nice ideas about reusing household items or getting items at thrift stores to repurpose for party decor. Many of the ideas are very chic and can be adapted to fit your needs.

Okay so the bad things....There were some things I didn't get why he felt they were green. I mean there shouldn't be a lot of trash after a green party. And he suggested using bamboo paper plates. Now that is more eco-friendly then the plastic disposable plates or regular paper plates...but what would be even more eco-friendly is using real everyday plates. Getting a plain white porcelain plate - and you can plan any party around that. Or picking up odd sets at thrift stores and mixing and matching is always to me a better choice then paper. He also did bottled water. Plastic bottles of water....I loved what he did with them making flavor waters but why not pitchers of filtered tap water with fruit in them instead of plastic water bottles.

Over all I am glad I read it. I enjoyed it. I am always thinking of ways to be more green and it did give me ideas for that.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Tree Skirt and Owls

I love this tree skirt. It is from Crate and Barrel. It is a little expensive on Crate and Barrel - I think it would be less inexpensive to replicate and also easy to make.

I also love these owls too. So so cute! But not sure I could make them.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. a stack of Christmas craft books
2. baked potato and grilled chicken - the perfect dinner
3. candy corn on sale after Halloween
4. green ideas on gift wrapping
5. being able to check out DVDs at the library and seeing Doctor Zhivago and The Philadelphia Story
6. photos of my friends and family on my desk
7. Michael only being gone one night...I miss him like crazy

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Listy List

I feel like I haven't had much to say lately. But I thought I would just do a listy update....

* We had a nice time going to Michael's brother's 50th birthday party this past weekend. We just went over for the party - made it a day trip to Denver. It was a milestone that we wanted to share with him.
* I have been missing this week due to migraines.
* A very good friend of mine gave me a kitchen knife. I had been saying a while back that one thing I don't have in my kitchen is good knives. Michael bought me a good chef's knife not too long ago. And now my friend gave me a very nice quality utility knife. It is beautiful - and feels so good in my hand. It is an amazing gift and I am humbled by her generosity and kindness.
* Michael had his doctor appointment about his knee today....and again I wonder if those that don't want a public option have ever went through not having insurance. It is too expensive for us to handle the cost right now. House payments or getting the knee fixed - house payment wins. Pre-existing conditions suck!
* I am on the waiting list at the library for The Pioneer Woman's Cookbook and the 7th book in the Outlander series. I can't wait to read both!
* I wish we had IKEA. There will be one in Denver - eventually but not until 2011 or 2012.
* I think I have decided what I am making for holiday presents. I will start making that next week.
* Michael is going to Denver for just one day. And then we go to Denver next week for several days.
* Our oven is out. It works but it isn't working right and everyone I have talked to says - don't use it because I could blow up the house. Again another reason I don't like gas appliances! It heats to the temp I want but as soon as it reaches it - it turns off. And the only way to get it to stay on is turn it up and keep turning it up.
* Of course above I just mentioned how we couldn't afford surgery for Michael and although an oven will cost much less - it still is going to hurt us. So not sure if we will be having a turkey for Thanksgiving. But hopefully we have a new one in time for holiday baking. Still not an expense we needed right now just before the holidays.
* I have caught up on my guilty pleasure - Project Runway. I think the designers and the clothing they are designing are a little boring this year. Still going to watch it but not as good as past seasons. Season 1 is still my favorite.

Well that is about all I can think of right now.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Book Review: The Best Soups & Stews

The Best Soups & Stews: A Best Recipe Classic (Best Recipe Series) The Best Soups & Stews: A Best Recipe Classic by Carl Tremblay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you like soups and stews, this is the book for you. More then 200 recipes. It explains in detail the recipe from start to finish. Cook's Illustrated books always have lots of extra information to trouble shoot and tips and tricks to help you cook. It goes into stock making suggestions, how to crush tomatoes, how to choose the right meat for a stew and why some products are better then other. The book also covers recipes to accompany soups and stews such as rice, cornbread and mashed potatoes. And of course there is science sidebars to tell the science behind some aspects of the recipe. They have wonderful photographs and illustrations that actually help you in your process. One of my favorite things about this book though is it has healthy recipes that are delicious.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. using some of my birthday money on some socks from Sock Dreams
2. hugs and kisses from Michael
3. the smell of autumn
4. inspiration for a project for our bedroom
5 pancakes for dinner
6. 15 minutes to look through Real Simple and flag some ideas in it
7. a truly amazing phone conversation with one of my very good friends. We talked for almost 2 hours and laughed I think the whole time. It was so great to catch up with her. She is an amazing woman and I am blessed to call her my friend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

100 Things | U2

23. I am a U2 fan.

There is this thing going around on Facebook called the Soundtrack of Your Life: "Think of 25 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it: they sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of, they musically shaped your world. They stood up, they lasted, they mattered. They still matter, in some way (even if only in memory)."

I have started it but I haven't finished it but U2 is on there several times. I first heard them when someone passed me a walkman - with a tape of them. It was the album War. And I was hooked. We were on a long bus ride from Omaha to Colorado for Bible Camp and I just kind of lost myself in the music.

Although I saw a lot of bands and concerts in my teenager to early 20's - U2 was one of those that I just couldn't ever afford to see. Or just something always got in my way of seeing them. I really wanted to see them on the Joshua Tree tour. It is my favorite. But it didn't happen. I finally saw them on the Zoo TV Tour.

While watching this concert tonight, I realized that the last time I saw them in concert was my birthday and it was either 1991 or 1992 - I think it was 1992. I think we were living in Topeka at the time. I think I still have the tickets around here somewhere. I was very lucky as I got to see them twice that tour. We had got tickets for a concert in Ames, Iowa as that was the closest to Omaha. I remember Jim and I standing outside Homer Music in the Old Market waiting for the tickets to go on sale. I can even remember what we were both wearing isn't that scary? I really wonder if we were in living in Topeka at that time. But I know that we got them because it was the closest at the time and my sisters (who lived in Omaha) went with us.

U2 then added more dates and a Kansas City date was one of those dates. The KC date on my birthday. And so he got them for my birthday. That tour they had a belly dancer come out and dance on one song for sure "Mysterious Ways" and maybe she danced for a couple more. It was her birthday too - so Bono wished her a happy birthday. It was so cool to hear Bono saying Happy Birthday even if not to me - but on my birthday. It was freezing out. But it was worth it.

I have really good memories associated with U2.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review: Lotta Prints

Lotta Prints: How to Print with Anything, from Potatoes to Linoleum Lotta Prints: How to Print with Anything, from Potatoes to Linoleum by Lotta Jansdotter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I keep going back and forth between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. The style of the prints, the photos, the set up of the book - inspiring. Just lovely. The actual instructions to techniques used - lacking. Most of it is basic printing information that is found online or in other books - with better instructions. So it didn't give me any new ideas as far as techniques but as far as inspiration - yes it did! Really easy designs that would leave anything you print on looking lovely. One such inspiration I can't wait to try is the wall hangings. They were ceiling to floor simple cloth wall hangings with a simple print on them. Very pretty - giving a room a splash of color with a minimalistic approach. I don't know if it is a book I need to own but I do think it would provide me inspiration print design if I had it on my shelf but probably wouldn't inspire me one which technique to use. Another plus to this book - many of the print designs could go for either male or female. They are very unisex friendly. Often prints books I have seen are very hearts, flowers and sunshine type designs but this book often has geometric designs put together in a very pleasing way that would work for any gender.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. going to my favorite Chinese place for my birthday
2. finding old discs with pictures I thought I lost
3. the cool weather we got this week after being actually warm enough we wished we still had our swamp cooler still going
4. handmade slippers to wear this week since it was cool. They were made by my friend Kathie for my birthday. Thank you Kathie!
5. Michael getting the MRI done for his knee. I know it isn't an expense we are needing right now but I am glad he took the step to do it anyway so that he can at least get some answers about his knee.
6. all the wonderful people who remembered my birthday by sending cards, well wishes and presents. I am very thankful to have so many amazing people in my life.

Recent Obsessions

I am becoming obsessed with this fashion blog. She has incredible style. And her ideas for Halloween are FTW! The picture is from her costume idea for being the mad hatter....LOVE LOVE Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter is one of my favorite characters in it.

My other obsession is on Facebook....I don't play games normally. I don't play computer games, PlayStation games or online games. But one on Facebook has sucked me in....Farmville. I have so much fun deciding what crops to plant and how to arrange and decorate my farm. Michael kind of rolled his eyes at me when I first started to play it but.....but....guess who now is just as obsessed - probably more obsessed then I am. When my Grandma called me for my birthday, I told her about the farming and told her she should get a computer as I am sure she would enjoy Farmville and many other aspects of being online.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

100 Things | Notepads/Sticky Notes

22. I have a little bit of an obsession with having plenty of notepads, scratch pads and sticky notes around.

Besides jotting down little notes, I am a list maker so I always have them around. I have a magnetic one on the fridge for a grocery list. As I run out of things I jot them down there. I have several buy the phone. I leave little notes for Michael around the house or when he goes out of town in his suitcase. I use them I also use sticky notes for books often. I make the places that inspire me and usually write a few words why or what is important about to me and then stick it in the place of the book that caught my eye. Eat Pray Love has A LOT of them sticking out of it.

You will notice in the photo I have several Disney Princesses ones and that is because I like Belle so Michael often buys me things with Belle such as the sticky notes and notepads. I love those little notepads as they are like a book of matches where the flap flips up and then tucks in when closed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

This is a recipe that my Mom has baked many times over the years. It is a favorite of mine. I made it for Michael's Dad's birthday. It is an incredibly moist cake because of the oatmeal and boiling water.

1 3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup oatmeal
Combine and set aside

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
Cream the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl

2 eggs - add into the creamed butter and sugar

1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa
Mix together in medium bowl. Gradually add into the creamed mixture. Add in the oatmeal/water mixture. 

Pour into ungreased 9x13 (I live in high altitudes so now I grease everything and also I add 1/4 cup more flour). Top with 3/4 cup walnuts or pecans* and 12 ounces of milk chocolate chips (a bigger chip like Ghirardelli chips is prefered, but good with any milk chocolate chip). Bake in a preheated 350 degree for 30 minutes

* Nuts are optional. I don't make it with nuts as Michael doesn't like nuts.

My Mom's cake bakes higher then mine. I haven't figured out how to adapt it to high altitude yet and make it bake higher.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: The Weekend Baker

The Weekend Baker: Irresistible Recipes, Simple Techniques, and Stress Free Strategies for Busy People The Weekend Baker: Irresistible Recipes, Simple Techniques, and Stress Free Strategies for Busy People by Abigail Johnson Dodge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This cookbook is great cookbook for those that haven't ever baked before because it gives a list of pantry essentials for baking, equipment list, good flavorings and extras to have on hand, tips and techniques to bake. Each list tells you exactly why you want to have those things or need to do those things to be a baker. The instructions for each recipe are so good for first time bakers. Very easy to understand and follow - but very thorough. This book is great for those that just are short on time and can only bake on weekends. It gives good tips on freezing and prepping to bake to make it easier. I hope to make a few more recipes before I return this cookbook to the library but have already put it on my wish list as it just has so many recipes I would like to try that sound so good.

I made these 3 recipes: (Links to photos and recipes)
Pie Pockets, Orange Butter Cake and Prescription Strength Brownies

View all my reviews >>

Birthday Re-cap and Reflection

I had a good birthday weekend. Michael started out my birthday at midnight on the dot. And had a scavenger hunt all set up for me. When he did that, while I was in the house - is BEYOND me. But he pulled it off without a hitch - okay one hitch. I can't see worth anything in the dark. And he sent me outside and I couldn't figure it out because of not being able to see in the dark. And there was even a little light from the street light but still couldn't figure it out. So he had to come rescue me.

Then for breakfast he made his famous omelets. It is something I can't make but he makes a killer omelet. He put lots of red bell peppers in mine...which are my favorite. I would eat them on almost everything if I could. I made homemade pizza with chicken spinach sausage and roasted red bell peppers on it for dinner. We are going to go out to dinner this week. I didn't want to fight the crowd we would have on a Sunday.

I made Robert Redford for dessert instead of a cake. Robert Redford is a layer of crust, then a cream cheese layer, then a homemade chocolate pudding layer and topped with cool whip. I will be posting that recipe and photos soon.

I feel though I am going through a lot of reflection of my life right now. And that is normal for this time of the year - my birthday causes me to do that. I don't feel at all depressed about turning 42 this year - which is a good thing. But I am doing a little reassessment of my life and things I haven't accomplished and want to. That kind of made me depressed. But I need to do. I checked out a book that I hope will help me in writing up my goals and trying to work through it realistically.

So that is where I am at....very good birthday! Thank you EVERYONE for the well wishes, cards and presents. I am a very lucky woman to have so many wonderful people in my life....I feel very blessed!

Also a very Happy Birthday to my baby sister tomorrow! Happy Birthday April! I love you!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for....
1. winter comforter
2. fairy lights
3. photos of family
4. postcards
5. the colors - yellow, orange and red

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn Recipe

Potatoes Anna

That looks really pretty for a fall menu but also not that hard of recipe either.

I really need to get some leaf cookie cutters - it has been on my list of wants for a while.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween Cookies

These are so cute for being so simple. Just adding a candy corn to a sugar cookie right out of the oven. I really would love to make these for Halloween and then bring some to some friends and neighbors in little paper bags decorated with a Halloween label. I have a TON of Halloween rubber stamps I got on clearence last year at Michael's that I have even used yet.

Idea and photo from - recipe here.

These are so cute and such a wonderful cheat at homemade. They are made with prepacked-refrigerated sugar cookie dough. All you do is knead a little extra flour and orange food coloring into the dough. And then using a triangle-shaped cutter cut into candycorn shape and bake. After letting cool you dip the wide base of each triangle cookie into melted dark chocolate and the tiny tip is dipped into melted white chocolate. Then chill in freezer for 5 minutes. I think you could just as easily make your own sugar cookie recipe and do the same though too - just adding the orange food coloring.

Idea and photo from Country Living

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More

Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More: 200 Anytime Treats and Special Sweets for Morning to Midnight Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More: 200 Anytime Treats and Special Sweets for Morning to Midnight by Carole Walter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This cookbook has a variety recipes and all that I have tried are DELICIOUS!

Good Things
*The directions are detailed so that if you are new to baking or the techniques used in the recipe you will be able to work through it.

*The ingredients are clear and most likely items that you probably already have in your cupboards or pantry. There are few things you might not have on hand like flavored liqueurs and crystallized ginger.

*The recipes have ratings. If you are inexperienced you can start with the "1 cup" recipes and then move onto the more difficult recipes.

*There helpful tips in the sidebars.

*There's something here for all levels of bakers from novice to pro

*There isn't enough photos in this book. They have some of course but not for every recipe.

*There are a few editing errors. It seems like they were just cut and pasting some standard recipes throughout the cookbook even if that recipe is not making as many as the others. But the author has posted the corrections on her official website.

The author provides detailed instructions for the mouth-watering recipes. It is a wonderful wonderful cookbook. I've baked about 8 things out of it and everything has been delicious. Definitely a book I would like to have in my kitchen! And I can't wait to check out other books by this author.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, October 09, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. the nice visit we had with Michael's parents
2. a good friend calling me out of the was so good to chat with her
3. some good news for the business
4. a nice time viewing some friends art at their new studio. Very nice space and great art!
5. chinese food - we had last night and I haven't had it in a few months. It tasted so GOOD.
6. sunny fall days

Book Review: Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites

Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites: More Great Recipes That Save You Time and Money from the Inventors of the Ultimate Do-Ahead Dinnertime Method Once-A-Month Cooking Family Favorites: More Great Recipes That Save You Time and Money from the Inventors of the Ultimate Do-Ahead Dinnertime Method by Mary Beth Lagerborg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read the Once-a-Month Cooking from the same authors and although I liked the concept and their instructions I was less then thrilled with the recipes. The main reason was many of the recipes weren't things I would cook as they used lots of processed and pre-packaged foods. But this time around with Family Favorites they use a lot more fresh ingredients and just have a better selection of recipes. There is still some pre-packaged foods but much less then the last book - at least it seems that way to me. I was very pleased. And I can't wait to try out many of the recipes as well as try to do a 2 week plan for do-ahead dinners. Although this book is called Family Favorites I wouldn't pass by it if you are cooking just for two as it has many recipes that could work for two or be adapted for just two.

Again this book really pleased me with its recipes. Besides the recipes they have a really great introduction to the concept of Once-a-Month Cooking with tips and tricks. It includes 2 one month plans, 2 two-week plans, a summer 2-week plan, a gourmet 2 week plan and a gluten-free 2 week plan. Each plan includes menu charts, pantry list, shopping lists and lists on what to prep and in which order.

Just a few recipes out of many that I look forward to making...
Red Mesa Tacos
Apricot Chicken
5 Cheese Spinach Quiche
Grilled Southwest Chicken with Cilantro Sauce
Pozole Soup
South of the Border Ground Beef and Corn Pie
Barleyburger Stew
Penne with Chickpeas
Pork Roast with Apples and Mushrooms

I will come back and do another update on this book once I do a 2 week plan. But overall I feel this book is going to be one I enjoy using.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


I decorated for Halloween on Monday. I did a few crafts but want to do a few more. I have all the makings for a wreath on the table but not ready to put it together yet. Probably won't get to it before Michael's parents arrive today. Decorating for Halloween is just almost as much fun for me as decorating for Christmas. Halloween is just a fun holiday!

Michael's Dad had a birthday on Sunday so we are doing a belated celebration here. I have beef stroganoff in the slow cooker, made homemade dinner rolls rising on the stove top and a cake I just took out of the oven. I went to my go-to recipe because I just always have things on hand for it and it tastes so good. It is my Mom's recipe: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake. I will post the recipe and pictures later this week or next.

I better go check on the rolls and get those baked before Michael's parents get here. The house smells yummy. Making me hungry!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I mentioned that we went to Penzeys when we were in Denver in August. We also went into a store that I want to live in....The Container Store. We had never been in there before. I was in organizational heaven. We are looking for a container for one piece of equipment that we have to haul around for our work. They had something to fit it but not exactly what we are wanting. But they were great in searching for us. And they have an amazing return policy! With a receipt they will give you a full refund anytime....even a year from now. They want you to be happy with your container. They really stressed this to us because we were from out of town and they don't want people to make special trips back - just whenever we had time to come back. As I said we ended up not getting it just because we still felt it wasn't what we wanted. But we did make a few other purchases of course.

It was just such a fun place to visit. And get ideas. I have been fall cleaning this week so I have been decluttering and reorganizing. I have shuffled some of my plastic bins and other storage containers to make things easier to use.


Today I found out someone I admired died. I only knew him online but have known him since 1999. His words always made me think and made me realize that many things I thought weren't so foreign. So today I think of him...I thankful for all he gave me but sad to see him go so soon. I know he struggled for so long though so now he is resting in peace. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Book Review: Home Hints and Tips

Home Hints and Tips Home Hints and Tips by Rosamund Richardson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Product Review from Amazon - "The first in-depth book on "green" products for the home, Home Hints & Tips offers hundreds of tested tips that are safe, gentle on the environment, affordable, and easy to implement. Straightforward without being preachy, the book covers all aspects of natural home management, from designing and building to decorating with natural materials, as well as ecosafe cleaning and laundering methods, recycling, gardening, cooking, and personal care and health."

I will tell you this book freaked the hell out of me. It freaked me out because it goes into toxins that are in your house right now....the paint, the carpet, many cleaners and pesticides and so on and so forth. Not like I really didn't know it but reading about what they do which the book goes into a little bit freaked me. But after freaking, I calmed down and I really enjoyed it the book. Enjoyed it for all the useful information it did give me. I think some of it is a little bit out of the average persons budget. But there were workable ideas and tips. The set up of the book is very visually appealing too. Broken into good segments.

The book gives information on having a green home: conserving water and energy, decorating, cleaning, laundry and recycling. It goes beyond the home though to healthy natural/organic eating, personal care such as understanding labels for your personal care products, natural health remedies, baby care and also working from home. So it is a tiny book that covers a lot of information. It is a book I would like to have on my bookshelf.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Penzeys Spice

While in Denver in August, we went to Penzeys Spices. I had been to the one in Minnesota and Michael was kind of envious so we decided to hit the one outside of Denver too. New Spices I got in Minnesota and Denver: Sandwich Sprinkle, Pizza Seasoning, another thing of Bavarian Seasoning as it is Michael's favorite, Old World Seasoning, Adobo Seasoning and Tuscan Sunset.

I was introduced to Penzeys Spices by a good friend. She gave me a gift basket at Christmas that included the Bavarian Seasoning, Northwood Seasoning, BBQ 3000, Hungarian Paprika and Turkish Oregano. And recently she sent me a care package that had the Hot Cocoa set in it. It has Natural Cocoa, Hint of Mint Hot Chocolate Mix,Sweet China Cassia Cinnamon and Hot Chocolate Mix. It is getting chilly so I will be using that hot cocoa soon!

I made egg salad sandwiches for lunch recently and used the sandwich sprinkle in it. Really gave it good flavor. This past week I used the Old World seasoning on pork chops in the crockpot and they were really good too. And last night I made homemade pizza and used the Pizza Seasoning. Everything always takes better with Penzeys Spices. And I think my spice cabinet is becoming an ad for Penzeys.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. good friends who make me smile and laugh
2. the cool weather of fall starting to hit Colorado
3. the pretty leaves changing colors - mostly gone through the state of Colorado but we just started changing here in Grand Junction
4. hot apple cider to warm me up and make me feel just so good
5. homemade pizza using Penzeys Spices
6. fall cleaning - decluttering and reorganizing always makes me feel good

Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook

The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the BEST bread machine cookbook that I have tried. I wish I had this book when I was first starting out with my bread machine. I struggled with it so much and Hensperger's book would have been an invaluable resource in my kitchen. She takes all the problems and guess work out of bread making - even living in altitude. I really haven't had to tweak her recipes for the altitude either but that she gives tips on how to troubleshoot for it - would have been incredible when I was first starting out with my bread machine.

The book has a great variety if recipes and variations, detailed instructions and interesting information. This is the most comprehensive book for bread machine baking I have seen. This book will give any new bread machine user confidence to succeed. And any seasoned bread maker a variety of recipes to find yourself turning to the book over and over again.

View all my reviews >>

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. a good week in Denver
2. seeing Michael's family
3. being there - it was important we were there not only for Michael's parents but so Michael could hear things first hand.
4. the coloring book that Michael's Mom gave me - it was a Winnie the Pooh coloring book with instead of Christopher Robbins - it had a girl named Darby in it. Does current Pooh stories have a Darby in them?
5. being home - although we had a good week out of town always nice to be at home too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

100 Things | Stickers

21. I have a huge pile of stickers because I like stickers.

I know I am 41 years old (almost 42) so probably a little old for stickers. But I like them. They make me smile - a fun simple pleasure. I use them on mail love, when I make gift tags, decorate gift boxes and notes for Michael and friends. I have a huge pile of stickers that lay in a basket in my office. All kinds of stickers....silly, pretty, politics, holiday, funky, letters and sparkly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stuffed Pasta Shells

I had lots of spinach so was wondering what to do with it. And so one meal I made with it was stuffed pasta shells.

1 lb fresh spinach cooked, drained and squeezed or a 10 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups ricotta - I used low-fat skim-milk ricotta
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 pound mozzarella, finely chopped or shredded
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried, crumbled
1 large garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste

3 to 4 cups tomato sauce or marina sauce - I made a homemade tomato sauce and then added browned ground spicy Italian sausage to it. I covered the bottom of pan with just tomato sauce first though before adding meat.
1 box cooked jumbo pasta shells (about 32 to 36 shells)

If using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze to get as much water out as you can. If using fresh, cook, covered, for 2-3 minutes in 1/4 cup boiling water; drain and squeeze to get out as much water possible.

Transfer spinach to large bowl. Add ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, basil and garlic to bowl. Season mixture with salt and pepper; blend.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spoon 1/2 cup tomato sauce evenly over bottom of 9"x13" baking dish (or 2 9x9). Fill each pasta shell with spinach mixture. Place shells - filling side up in pan. Spoon remaining sauce over shells. I usually sprinkle with some more Parmesan cheese but forgot this time. Cover loosely with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Serve.

You can also freeze this after you spoon remaining sauce over shells. It freezes for up to 4 months. And you can take straight from the freezer to the oven just cooking it for about 2 hours. Or thaw in fridge and then bake 1 to 1 ½ hours.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Book Review: Martha Stewart's Cooking School

Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook by Martha Stewart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
From publisher:
"Imagine having Martha Stewart at your side in the kitchen, teaching you how to hold a chef’s knife, select the very best ingredients, truss a chicken, make a perfect pot roast, prepare every vegetable, bake a flawless pie crust, and much more.

In Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, you get just that: a culinary master class from Martha herself, with lessons for home cooks of all levels.

Never before has Martha written a book quite like this one. Arranged by cooking technique, it’s aimed at teaching you how to cook, not simply what to cook. Delve in and soon you’ll be roasting, broiling, braising, stewing, sautéing, steaming, and poaching with confidence and competence. In addition to the techniques, you’ll find more than 200 sumptuous, all-new recipes that put the lessons to work, along with invaluable step-by-step photographs to take the guesswork out of cooking. You’ll also gain valuable insight into equipment, ingredients, and every other aspect of the kitchen to round out your culinary education."

I say if you don't know how to cook at all - first go to Betty Crocker. But if you are ready to move up and beyond then this is the book for you.

I know a lot of people don't like anything Martha Stewart's does. I know she can be intimidating and scary. But this book is fantastic. First and for most the information is amazing. Next the photography is beautiful and supports the information in a wonderful pairing. This book covers some basics but also takes things a step beyond to help you understand how to cook which will ultimately make you a better cook.

The books covers:

* Equipment lists that tell you everything from a loaf pan to a dutch oven to a spider (which is wide shallow mesh skimmer with a long handle great for removing food from hot oil or boiling water).
* It gives you a run down on knives and what they do and how to care for them.
* Shows how to do basic vegetable cuts and more special cuts like the lozenge which is to cut them into thin slices and then stack the slices and cut into strips. Making cuts on the diagonally to achieve a diamond shape.
* The book covers some basic herbs: how to wash, store, cook and few other tips for them.
* It has a several pages on just onions. Photos of the different kinds, how to peel, slice, cut, chop, saute, caramelize the various kinds.
* Making stock from a basic chicken stock to how to make a consomme or cream soup. It not only tell you how to make them but a glossary of terms and tips.
* Eggs - how to boil, poach, coddle, make a frittata and so on.
* Meat, Fish and Poultry - It has charts to show what each cut of meat and how to buy. It shows how not only how to roast, grill saute, braise, stew and many other things to create the perfect meat dish but also shows how to tie a roast, stuff a turkey, get charcoal ready for a grill, how to carve a duck and many other techniques.
* Vegetables - how to steam, wilt, simmer, saute, grill, make a green salad and many other ways to cook vegetables. It also has a buying guide what to look for, what to avoid, storage and cooking method.
* Pasta - how to make fresh pasta, gnocchi, sauce, baked pasta dishes and several other things.
* Dried Beans and Grains - how to cook and varieties of beans and grains

And finally....

* Dessert - how to cream butter, cut butter into flour, make meringue, a souffle, sorbet and many many other things. It include a chart showing a variety of berries and stone fruits

PLUS all that throughout the whole book there are recipes upon recipes....from gourmet to just basic comfort food

Minestrone Soup
Squash and Goat Cheese Frittata
Chicken Piccata
Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Creamed Spinach
Herbed Rosti with Wild Mushrooms
Glazed Turnips
Gnocchi with Basil Pesto
Rice Pilaf
Double Crusted Apple Pie
Creme Brulee
Poached Apricots
Yellow Buttercake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

It is a beautiful book with a wealth of information that I think anyone who wants to learn more about cooking and enjoys eating good food should have in their kitchen.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, September 20, 2009

30 Things

This is a list of questions/fill in the blank that was put out by Invisible Illness Week.

1. The illness I live with is: migraines and depression
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: I wasn't diagnosed with migraines until 21 and depression until I was 25.
3. But I had symptoms since: depression since I was a little little girl and migraines since I was 12
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: That some days I can't do it all
5. Most people assume: That I really don't look sick but that I say I am sick quite a lot.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: usually my migraines are the worse early morning or late night. So early mornings can be hard when I have a migraine.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: none - I don't watch any because I have sympathy pains.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: microwave - when I have a migraine - I need to be able to cook fast and easy and my indoor grill and the microwave are my best friends for cooking.
9. The hardest part about nights are: When I have a migraine, the pain is so bad I can't sleep. Also I get insomnia with my depression so I have that often so lack of sleep is a hard part of the night.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. When I have a migraine several Excedrin migraine and one multi-vitamins. Plus then I have 2 other pills I take everyday one for my depression and the other for high blood pressure.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: tried many
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: neither but I would like one that is taken seriously or had a clear treatment - if I had to have one.
13. Regarding working and career: I often can't hold a regular 40 hour a week job because I have migraines so often.
14. People would be surprised to know: that - the above answer about not being able to not often doing 40 hours a week.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my reality has been: just gauging how much I can do each day
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: find a treatment that works for depression now I just need to find something that works for my migraines.
17. The commercials about my illness: are what they are. I mean they really don't do a lot for me - except at times give me names of a new med to try for my migraines.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: nothing really because I had symptoms long before diagnosed so had to often live gauging things step by step of my day and wondering if I could do the next thing. And I do that now.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: I haven't had to really give up anything - I am not often triggered by foods only if I already have one started then sometimes some foods will make it worse but it isn't a hardship to give it up for those moments. And then some days I can't do everything I want to do so if I wanted to go for a walk or a day trip - I have to say no at times because light will hurt and the movement from walking will increase my heart rate which will spike my migraine more. So again it is all about gauging what I can and can't do for the day or the moment.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: nothing new
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: I try to just pack more into my day then often gets accomplished now.
22. My illness has taught me: to be more understanding towards those with my illness so that when they have to cancel I understand.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: When they have to tell me to see a doctor or try a med because really do they think I haven't? It doesn't make sense to me. I have lived with migraines since I was 12 so you don't think I have tried many many drugs and seen many doctors over the years. Of course I have so why do you need to tell me to do something I have obviously done. Or that people think both depression and migraines are just in my head.
24. But I love it when people: just accept that I am who I am and I can't at times do everything
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: I cannot change yesterday. I can only make the most of today, and look with hope toward tomorrow.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: to not beat up on themselves for not being able to do it all and to not get frustrated when one med doesn't work. Keep trying.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: The not being able to function normally everyday.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: make me dinner, give me an ice pack and tuck me in. Thank goodness for Michael.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I think often these things aren't talked about. We pretend that migraines aren't really an illness. "It is just a headache." And that depression is just being down or being blue instead of a chemical imbalance that makes the blues seems like a walk on a nice spring day. It needs to be talked about and shown that these are illnesses that cause real problems everyday for many people.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: makes me sad that anyone has to have an illness - invisible or visible.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sweet November

Yes, I realize it's September .... but the movie has always been profound to me.

I haven't watched it in years - and yet I've been noticing that it's been coming on Cinemax lately.

It's one of those movies that really touches me deeply and profoundly. It forces us to confront our only mortality and ask the question: how we choose to live the rest of our days ultimately defines who we are.

We all work so hard within the confines of our 24 hours a day ... we pay bills, we stress ourselves out over seemingly meaningless things and we continually grow older ... day by day ... hour by hour.

The movie hammers home the importance of living in the moment and to cherish each breath we take because .... life happens.

So - I challenge you.

For a moment in your day today - after you read this:

1.) Go out and tell those people close to you how much you love them.

2.) Go outside for no more than a minute and just stand there - look around you - and marvel at the world we take for granted each and every single day.

3.) Write yourself a silly note on a post-it ... and place it on your monitor, your refrigerator or your TV -- whatever you constantly find yourself near most of the day.

and lastly,

4.) Watch the sunset ... or if you're reading this at night -- set your alarm and make yourself watch a sunrise.

Live a little, just an ounce of effort to slow down the paces of life.

We all have a limited number of Novembers in our lives .... don't waste them.

*hugs -n- loves to my friends and family*

Special loves and hugs to my girl - I'm forever grateful for every November, February and month we are together. I love you very much!

New Moon Trailer

Of course I have been watching the New Moon trailer none stop. You can tell from this trailer that there was a new director. New Moon is going to be even better then Twilight.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I am thankful for...
1. tea and cider - we have had colds this week and both have made me feel better.
2. the Outlander series. I am on the 4th book (just about finished) but it is a great series. Just sweeps me up into the story. A new one in the series comes out I think this week so I look forward to reading that one too.
3. making a childhood favorite this week - Special K Bars. I have made them since high school. I had them while at my parents and been thinking about them ever since.
4. airborne - my cold doesn't seem as bad as Michael's. I believe that is beause I have been taking airborne.
5. smell of clean sheets on the bed

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not Responsible = No Health Care

On Facebook a couple weeks ago there was one of those chain-letter-statuses going around: " one should die because they cannot afford health care and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, post this as your status for the rest of the day."

Many of my friends and family posted it. Just take a look at the statement as a statement. If you ask your neighbors and family if they wouldn't want their family to go broke or die because they couldn't afford health care most would say they wouldn't want that to happen. Most of us could probably agree on that or at least I hope others wouldn't want us to go broke or die because we couldn't afford health care.

One of my relatives posted the statement (I did too) but then she had a reply from someone on her friend's list that made me shake my head. I am totally baffled that someone would actually believe it...I am going to paraphrase....but basically he said that "people who can't afford health care should stop driving fancy cars and spending money on other luxury items. And people just need to be responsible."

What? Really?

Where is the compassion? Did we lose that somewhere? Is it okay that 47 million people don't have health insurance? Is it okay that our neighbors and people in our families struggle to pay their health care bills? Has the politics and viral emails worked to create the stereotype that every poor person who can't afford health insurance has fancy cars and other luxury items? How did we get so blinded by the stereotype that removes compassion and replaces it with something unrecognizable?

Michael and I don't lead a luxurious life. We never have. We don't have a fancy TV. We have a car that is functional for our business, but it's hardly a luxury mobile. We might get Chinese take-out once in a blue moon. We scour the weekly sales because we want good deals to make our money last longer. With how the state of the economy has been for us lately we have had to cut out even normal daily things for cheaper brands. I used to wash my hair with Pantene, not the $20 Paul Mitchell stuff, but Pantene. It was the one shampoo I have found that leaves my hair manageable in our dry climate. I now use whatever I can find the cheapest. I used to have a diet coke a day. I now drink one about a week. We cut out many things that were "luxuries" because we have our own business and the economy has sucked.

Yeah, some people make poor decisions but I imagine there is a very limited few that are driving around in their luxury mobiles flashing their bling worrying about how to pay for their health care. And really when you think about how many people try to beat the system it doesn't just go to one economic class.

But I am not trying to beat the system. I am trying to get quality health care at a price that I can afford. I am one of the 47 million people that doesn't have health insurance. I have asthma. It is a pre-existing illness. So when I apply for insurance I am turned down. The ones that will cover me - I can't afford and on top of that they won't cover asthma or I would have to pay outrageous premiums have it covered. I am on a drug that I am lucky to get at a discount - because if I had to pay full price it would be $187 a month. There is no way I could afford that.

Michael hurt his knee 3 years ago and hasn't been able to get any help for it because we can't afford it because he has no insurance also. Again, it's a pre-existing condition. Recently we saw a wonderful Doctor who will work with us on making payments to get Michael's knee fixed, but we still might not be able to afford it because if it comes down to making our house payment or making a surgery bill - the house bill will come first.

Unfortunately this is normal for us. We opt to not go to the doctor because we know we won't be able to afford the drugs or tests they will want.

And really our story isn't even close to the worst or the saddest ones out there. I just read an op-ed the other day that was beyond sad and unfortunately I think this is becoming more the norm every day. So many like us are just in the middle class bracket (or just barely) that can easily go broke paying for healthcare. The person that replied to my relative's post irritated me. The implication that we just weren't being responsible is the unfortunate perception. I often hear opposition against health care reform that is from the people who actually have health insurance. I really don't think they understand how hard it is when you are without it. Even when the President presents his plan - saying that it's not going to change their insurance, it doesn't matter. To them, it's okay that Michael and I along with millions of other families out there go without basic health care. I simply don't get that. Even if I had coverage or insurance - I still would never want to read another story about someone suffering or dying like the ones I've been reading.

Do we really lack compassion to not want to give everyone in the United States the right to health care?

Is this the United States we recognize?