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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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