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.

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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.

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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.

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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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