Saturday, December 31, 2011

Around the world

Bill and I have spent most of today watching a marathon of "House Hunters: International" on HGTV. It appears that they are working their way around the globe showcasing a country where they are ringing in the new year, sort of. They may be a few hours off, but they've gone in order; through Asia (Vietnam is when we started watching) and Africa. They're currently in Europe. It's been fun, we're big fans of HHI.

The rest of the day has been spent playing Scrabble. We started on Facebook, then switched to the iPad to the Pass and Play version. It's easier and quicker to play that way.

I'm going to let you know that we actually own two Scrabble games. A deluxe version on the turntable and I believe the original Uebbing Scrabble board.

But why play on those when we can use this fancy iPad?

Here's to a new year full of games and fun!

Friday, December 30, 2011

what should have been

I am disappointed.

I was going to blog about my delicious, delectable rum cake from Shannon.

It didn't turn out.

I figured out, that even though I greased my pan, it didn't bake long enough. My oven/bakeware has a tendency to under-bake things. I should have known better. I should have tested it with a toothpick. But I didn't. So instead I have a pile of what should be rum cake.

(here's the cake, in the pan, looking pretty good! Until it was turned over...)

It tastes great, but it does not look good. I guess I can salvage it, pre-cut it and bring it to the New Year's party already plated. That will work. But I'm disappointed because I was looking forward to it. To a perfect rum cake.

That's life.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

on blogging

In the BH&G January issue, they mention resolutions. One that they suggest is: blogging for a year...

Copy Cats.

Where's my credit?

You know you were reading my blog (for a whole year) before they ever thought of it...

I thank you.

You are amazing.

And I am a trend-setter!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

snowflake update!

If you'll recall (or click here if you don't), I'm waiting for snow... flakes. From our friends and their children.

We received our first batch yesterday! I was thrilled to see them. It was "some snow, from some flakes". Thanks Shannon, Greg, Jack and Cade (Quin had fun observing)!! Here are the "fruits" of their labor:I love how unique they are (although, honestly, I am surprised that Greg didn't figure out how to make the Steelers logo in his snowflake...). They are beautiful and I can't wait for more!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

grocery list

I thought I'd share what I made for Christmas:

For breakfast, we had a ham and cheese "casserole" aka one dish breakfast. For lunch, we noshed. For dinner; bacon-wrapped pork roast with a mustard glaze, roasted veggies and the bread.

Here are a few things I'll be making for New Year's Eve:

Rum Cake (thanks Shannon!!!)
Chex mix (the family/original recipe)

My grocery list was short today. The store was almost completely empty. It always is, after the holidays (I'm not being p.c., I'm talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas). It was surreal.

Despite my trip to the store, tonight's dinner is: leftovers!

Yum!

Monday, December 26, 2011

are my eyes open?

People often come back to work from vacation and the first thing they say is, "I need a vacation after my vacation." Which equates to just being tired from all the fun they just had. It makes sense. You go away from home and the fun thing to do is stay up late, sleep in; do all kinds of crazy things you don't do at home. (You must be wondering how exciting we actually are... we did absolutely nothing yesterday, except watch movies and eat, how's that for fun?)

Bill and I enjoy sleeping in on occasion. Whether it's here at home or while we're on vacation. For the most part, we spend vacations (which are few and far between) on our normal schedule. It just makes more sense. Then when we return home, we aren't completely wiped out. It doesn't take us two months to get back into the swing of things.

Our schedule isn't that hectic on a normal day.

It's not difficult to keep it up while on vacation.

I mention all of this, because I had two nights of poor quality sleep (and because it was Christmas morning, when I woke up yesterday at 6:30am -remember we do not have children- I couldn't fall back asleep for my excitement) and then one decent night (last night). But boy, am I tired. My eyes have had a very difficult time staying open for most of the afternoon. I'm not even sure I'm awake as I type this.

I have to try and stay awake so I can make the grocery list after dinner. We'll see if I remember to blog about that tomorrow...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Peace on earth.

Goodwill to all men and women.

May you find and give both of these today and every day.
Together we can pray for these things and bring hope to this world once again. Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

the day before Christmas

Yes, it is also known as Christmas Eve . Bill pointed that out this morning at 7:05 when we were standing in Wesley Hall waiting to serve breakfast. We were making small talk (only so many cooks in the kitchen, so we were being good Christians and chatting it up) and I said something that included those words. It was too early for my brain to think.

I am a morning person (they do not enjoy my enthusiasm at workcamp if you'll recall), but I hadn't been awake long enough this morning.

It's Christmas Eve.

'Twas the night before Christmas (see? I wonder where I got it from) and all through the house, the cats were snoring loud enough to wake a mouse.

Seriously. As I type this, the snoring that is emitting from our two precious cats is humorous. Have you ever heard a cat snore? If not, you are welcome to come over and witness it first hand.

I really should get up and go assemble the breakfast casserole, er one-dish breakfast.

Merry Christmas Eve and Merry day-before-Christmas, whichever you prefer!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holla'

DO NOT SCRATCH & SNIFF YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN!

It's just a photo.

Remember the other day when I mentioned the Bakery?

Well I stopped by today to pick up the loaf of Challah we need for the Christmas Breakfast casserole.

It was fresh out of their oven.

It smells heavenly.

My car smells heavenly.

But whenever I order Challah, I have to raise my arms and say, "Holla'!"

It is good enough to deserve it. No. I don't know the history of Challah. I could look it up, but I'm going to go clean and take my walk. Maybe I'll look it up later.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

oops, I did it again

I cut another finger. This time it is my index finger.

I cut it while trying to open the plastic tub of olives.

OUCH!

I had a band-aid on it yesterday. It made typing difficult.

I think I need to be wrapped up in bubble wrap. It will keep me safer.

Thank goodness the olives are worth it.

My new year's resolution is to be more careful... ha!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

picture post

Because my week of blogging has been a bit dull...

Because there's still no snow on the ground...

Because I promised you pictures...

Here's the symphony. You were allowed to take non-flash photography (of course it never turns out) and video! I was enamored enough to take this picture.


Then, here's one of the gifts I finished and can show you. I made it for Dave and Greg. I started giving them ornaments every year... I can't stop the tradition now!
(yes, it is hanging from their light switch for the photo. It was the best place to get the best lighting)And here's the new (old) bathroom door!
Yes. From the inside it is a different shade of white than the rest of the bathroom. That's just going to have to wait.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

the door is hung

I'm not going to say, "with care"...

It's not like we literally threw it in place. Holy cow, it's a heavy door. There's no throwing it anywhere. It was all we could muster to carry it up from the basement (of course the occasional "pivot" was thrown in).

Let's just say I'm so very thankful for a handy husband.

And dowel rods.

And for a bathroom door that now closes without the special push it used to need.

I'll take pictures tomorrow when it's light out. Remind me to post them, please?

Monday, December 19, 2011

busy elves

I, er the elves, have made a few Christmas gifts. I took pictures. I plan on posting them after Christmas so that the recipients don't see what they're getting. Not that I'm sure the recipients read my blog, but just in case.

If only there were a smell button on the internet. One of the elves just ordered a loaf of bread from the Wealthy Street Bakery. I can only imagine how good their website would smell.

The elves are busy and there's more to do. No time for fun. But if you have time for fun, go to Google, type in "let it snow" and wait. If you wait a long time, it's even cooler...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

movie night

We've had our popcorn.

The Lions and the Colts won.

We've had our milk and cookies (or leftover birthday cake).

Now it's time for a movie.

Tonight we've chosen to watch, "A Christmas Carol" the 1984 version with George C. Scott.

It's one of our favorite versions (of course the Muppet Christmas Carol is also one of my favorite versions). We have watched many different version.

Which one is your favorite?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

a night at the symphony

We're going to hear the DSO tonight. It's the Christmas Pops series, Home for the Holidays.

Last year the DSO was on strike, so while we had planned to go, had tickets and dinner reservations, we did not get to enjoy the symphony.

We're having dinner at 24 Grille which is the inside Weston Book Cadillac.

It's going to be a fun night!

Friday, December 16, 2011

no snow

It's finally cold here, but America's high-five has yet to see any significant snowfall this season.

As I looked at my tree this morning while doing yoga, I pondered if it was my "snow" tree that did this.

Absurd. As if my tree decorating controlled the weather. I don't think so.

Bill scoffed at my thought (it was shared out loud) and I immediately did as well. But isn't it fun to think that the "butterfly effect" may have started by something you did or didn't do?

I'm sure the snow is coming. I am hoping for a white Christmas... It is the season for hope after all. And time to count your blessings instead of sheep.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

the cookies

Here are all the different kinds of cookies I baked. It's not all the cookies. There were a couple dozen of each. They're all dispersed now. We have a few left.

There's not a huge variety, you may even notice a theme. Powdered sugar... twice. Candy canes crushed on two different kinds of cookies... Three kinds of cookies with chocolate... and what you don't see here are the frosted sugar cookies. Remember Mary? She got most of those. The neighbors got the rest.

What can I say? I'm generous.

And modest and humble.

What?

I think I've decided to include a gingerbread cookie next year. I found a recipe and it sounds yummy (I happen to like gingersnaps, gingerbread, etc) and I discovered that where I lack in the decorating category, I make up for in the piping department! So some ginger cookies, piped with icing are in my future.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

snowflakes!

I thought of this last year, and meant to to do this earlier. There's still time, so help me out!


This is a picture of the sliding glass door to our backyard.
Sad and lonely, right?

For those of you with children who are old enough to use scissors or color, I would LOVE snowflakes! I think it would be so cool if you could have them draw a snowman or cut out a snowflake. Then mail it to us and I'll hang them on the sliding glass door.

Can you help me out? Will you do it?

And for those of you who don't have kids, or your kids are older... if you want to make a snowflake too, I'll take 'em!

Just in case you didn't know, snowflakes are my favorite. In fact the other day when I was baking cookies I said to Bill, "I need a snowflake cookie cutter!". Yesterday, Pat (a fellow Quotarian) handed me a birthday present. Tied to the outside was a cookie cutter snowflake!!! I was so excited!!

I think it would just be super special to have something from each of your children and my friends. There is no deadline. But I figured it would help you keep the kids busy next week when they're home from school on break!

my birthday!

I was super busy yesterday, so I'm going to share the photos from my birthday with you. Then I'll blog again, because I have something to blog about for today!

I started by going to see the Cool Cats (no picture). They greeted my by singing "Happy Birthday" to me. Cindy, their teacher, made me a cake! It's such a wonderful way to start out the day!

Then, after stopping at home for a short time, I went to the DHHS lunch. I blogged about that on Quota's website. I picked Mary, who asks for homemade sugar cookies every year. I made her a batch of those and got her a gift card to McDonald's because she likes to stop and buy coffee.
Then, after delivering the plates of cookies to a few of our neighbors, Bill and I tried going to Jersey Junction for ice cream. Even though their sign says they close January 1st, they were already closed for the season.

That's okay. I have peppermint ice cream in our freezer!

Bill and I went to Meijer Gardens to see the Christmas Trees from Around the World and the Holiday train. They've added new buildings to the train scene this year. I did not realize that each building is made of natural materials! The shingles are eucalyptus leaves, they use hydrangea petals, and other plant particles. Here's how good they look...

The actual Greenhouse from outside.
The train model Greenhouse inside.
It's beautiful, magical and impressive, because hundreds of volunteer hours are spent making these models!

After dinner at Shiraz, we came home. I opened cards and presents!
Thank you for all the birthday wishes! It was a wonderful day. I enjoyed the many phone calls, cards, texts and wishes on facebook!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

several letters off

Typing with a band-aid on a finger isn't easy. It's really not easy when it's your index/pointer finger.

I sliced open my finger yesterday when I tried to remove a cobweb from the door frame in the kitchen. That's what I get for trying to clean! What I couldn't see (maybe because of the cobweb) was the huge splinter sticking out from the trim. It caused a pretty decent cut.

Don't worry. I'll be fine. No need to call the ambulance or get stitches. Eventually it stopped bleeding. Although it continues to hurt, I don't think I need an amputation.

I have discovered that having a band-aid on the top of this finger makes typing very difficult. I actually use the little raised bumps on the keys to find "F" and "H". I can't feel it through the band-aid. I've been several letters off all morning.

Fortunately for you, there's the backspace key. I may wear it out by the end of the day. Or this post.

Take my advice and next time you see a cobweb; don't try to wipe it away (at least in our house)!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

yup, I missed a day

Nope, I didn't blog yesterday. I was pretty busy. Here's how the day went:

I scraped the rest of the paint off the top of the bathroom door frame, while Bill worked on the door.

I started baking cookies, while Bill sanded the door frame.

I continued baking cookies, while Bill went back and worked on the door again (painting, sanding, repainting. Don't ask).

I was still baking cookies and Bill took his shower.

I finished baking, did the last of the dishes and showered.

We left for his company holiday party.

It was in St. Joe, we got home at midnight.

I have more cookies to bake today.

I could post-date my post, but I won't.

Anybody want some cookies?

Friday, December 9, 2011

the best in people

This story has been in our local news and it just keeps growing. It gives me goosebumps when I hear it. This story is why this time of year is so great. It brings out the best in people.

Then there's the story on our Quota blog, written by our President. What a gift! It always makes me think outside the box and try to find a new way to give a gift to someone.

What's the best gift (non-material) you've ever given? What's the best gift (non-material) you've ever received?

Even though yesterday's post suggested it's all about the material things, it most definitely is not. One of my favorite things is our Christmas Eve service. The darkness of the sanctuary, the stillness throughout, that is what makes it Christmas for me.

My wish for you this Christmas is that you are looking beyond the presents and will find hope and peace.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

making a list...

And I've checked it twice.

Actually, I have three lists.

I think of something and write it down, but not on the same piece of paper. That would be too easy.

Fortunately the lists are similar. There are some extra things here and there. But for the most part, I've got almost everything on the lists and then some.

Of course we went overboard, again. We do every year.

Bill was so sweet this year.

He called me into his "office" and had me sit down. "Let's keep it to $XX this year."

"Sure", I replied knowing that what we'd already shopped for we had blown that number out of the water. And then we went shopping again. At least I keep the family gifts in check. There was one year that they came to Jersey to visit us and I went overboard, and then I shopped some more. Literally half of the living room floor was covered in presents. There wasn't much room for anyone to sit.

We've done better scaling it back since then. Until this year. Well, it won't be that bad (if you really think that's bad). I did shop some good sales. And I've had coupons.

Now to turn the spare bedroom into "Wrapping Central".

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day

Seventy years.

Let us honor and remember those who fought bravely at Pearl Harbor. Lest we not forget.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

planning my life

I own a planner.

My email account has a calendar that I use. It can even send me text/email reminders which I use often.

I still forget things.

I almost forgot that I was supposed to volunteer Monday morning for JFON. The first email I saw was my reminder. That was helpful.

Then this afternoon, Bill kept asking me if I was going anywhere. I kept telling him no. I'll be gone tomorrow night.

Then I got the reminder for the church conference. Oh right. I am going to that tonight.

Maybe my new year's resolution should be to not forget things. The sad part is that both of these events were not only written down in my planner which sits less than two feet from my face, open on my desk, but they were also in my email calendar. Thank goodness for those reminders. Without them, I might just forget to do everything.

Now, where are those post-its?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Casseroles vs. One-dish dinners

I have an aversion to casseroles. I don't like them. I never have. If you try to bring me a casserole, I will very kindly accept it and then make Bill eat it. All of it. If it doesn't have tuna in it, I may have a small bite. But that's it.

On the other hand, a one-dish dinner? I'll eat those by the mouthfuls. One-dish dinners are my bag, baby. I dig [into] them.

Casseroles? *blech!*

One-dish dinners? Yum!

Maybe if you just called the casserole a one-dish dinner you could get it past me. Maybe. Only if it doesn't have tuna in it.

One of my favorite one-dish dinners is this one. I add a smoked sausage, cut into pieces, just for fun. I've also added shrimp, but we like it best with the sausage.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Let the waiting begin

It's all done.

The decorating. I can't believe it. I even carried the last of the two thousand gallon totes up to the bedroom (yes, they still have to go to the attic, but they're half way there).

The tree is decorated in snowmen, snowflakes and a few other special ornaments. We have three trees in the dining room (all small). You could say, it's the tree-fecta.

One is full of the planes Bill has collected, one is just white with a few small colored glass balls (I think they're greens and blue), and the third tree has the miniature ornament collection.

The mantel is my favorite decorated surface. It has a lit garland and the church ornaments. I am going to have to try to take pictures. Warning, they never turn out because I don't want to use the flash. But I'll go charge the camera battery and perhaps on a sunny day I'll be able to snap a few pictures. Of course then I have to remember to post them here.

And the sun has to return before Christmas...

So the waiting has begun. The Advent season is in full swing. We are prepared (although if Christ shows up before next weekend, he's not getting any cookies. The cookie baking isn't happening until then). We will spend the rest of Advent waiting, anticipating. Being full of hope and wonder.

For now, I'm just waiting for Bill's big Sunday breakfast.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Oh Christmas tree...

In response to Bill's blog from yesterday, I would just like to point out that we have come upon an agreement for the outdoor lights/decorating that greatly reduces the amount of time needed to spend on the lighting/decorating (wow, that was a long sentence).

We purchase two wreaths from my high school band, which sells the wreaths as a fundraiser. They are made in Danville, Indiana so they started out local (please ignore the carbon footprint in which we made bigger by driving to get them). We hang one from the attic window and one in the porch gable, point two spot lights at them, and voila! The outside is done and it looks beautiful.

Here's a photo from last year.

Simple, right?

Beautiful, no?

So there, Mr. Scrooge. For all the decorating we do inside (which I continue to scale back), at least the outside is easy. And I hope your heart will grow each year just like the Grinch.

Friday, December 2, 2011

cards, cinnamon pumpkin rolls and snoring cats...

As I work on our Christmas cards, I'm not only listening to the radio, but also the dulcet tones of our snoring kitty.

Juliette is just so sweet. I love that she snores (even if it has woken us up in the middle of the night) and that she likes to be near me.

Last night was our Quota holiday party. We are asked to bring either an appetizer or dessert based on the first letter of our last name. Being a "U" that typically means dessert. I made these.

Cinnamon Pumpkin swirls. They were a big hit and they are delicious. It's the first time I'd ever made a rolled cake. Other than the filling being a little too runny, once it set in the fridge, it was perfect!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Here we go again

It's time for the next chapter.

You spoke up, and I listened!

I could run for President...

Okay, I couldn't, but because six out of six votes were to keep blogging, I'll not let you down!

My dad pointed out it would be okay if I didn't have a post for everyday. I explained that if I get lazy and say, "oh I don't have anything to write about today." Then it might happen again the next day and the next... and I'll have fallen back out of the swing of things.

So, here's to another year. For all the good posts and bad, please keep reading!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

that's it?

Wait? That's it? Today is the end of my year of blogging?! I can't believe it. After a shaky start and questioning why I ever decided to to it, here I sit and write one year later, full of ideas. Wondering what to do next.

A whole year passed. I blogged 364 posts. I missed two days, but blogged extra. I wrote haiku's (both were posted on the 24th of the month...!). I posted pictures. I cooked a lot of meals. I'm not famous. No one called me wanting to make a movie out of this. I averaged forty readers a week (repeats included, thanks Mom, Dad!). I'm a better writer. I traveled to Indiana, Nashville, Chicago, Bay City, Detroit, Savannah, and Dubuque. I walked 167 days since January 1st. I had pink hair.

And here it is. The end of the year.

Or is it?

I've been thinking about continuing. Is it still a challenge if I keep blogging every day?

A habit is supposed to be formed after eighty (or is it ninety?) days.

I think I've made this a habit.

But what if I don't have something to blog about?

Saying something like, "I'm going to blog every day for a decade" just sounds insane. But if I don't do it every day, I know I'll slip back into my old habit of blogging once a month, if that.

My question is, dear readers: do you care enough? Do you want me to keep going?

I have more things to blog about. I've come up with many ideas. Which of course don't include the every day happenings that sometimes pop up. No, not every day is a good day. But it's been fun. At least for me. So, what do you say? Another year?

Editor's note: I took the time to link each word to something that I thought was appropriate. I hope you'll take the time to click each one to see where it takes you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

it's not junk in my trunk


Last year I blogged about the Jr. High youth group's efforts to stuff socks for homeless people who come to our church on Christmas Eve morning for breakfast. It's called Casey's breakfast, because a man named Casey used to serve breakfast out of a restaurant. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed. Our church had been a part of the Christmas Eve breakfast service, so we continued the breakfast out of our own building.

The gifts that are given are a pair of socks, one stuffed inside the other; then the rest of the sock is filled with toiletries and other goodies that you and I might not consider to be extravagant.

The Jr. High has been helping to stuff socks for years. This year we're stuffing 50 socks for men, 50 socks for women and 50 socks for kids. After reading last year's post, I can see why I'm a bit tuckered out from all the shopping. We're stuffing three times as many!

The youth group went shopping on the 20th. There were three groups; one shopped for the men, one for women and one for kids. Each group had a budget (and went drastically over, which is okay because thankfully our church is generous and there's plenty to spend on the socks). Today, I met up with Sami (Chandra is still on maternity leave... lucky) and we finished the shopping at the Dollar store.

Hence the picture of my trunk stuffed to the guild. Oh, that's not all the stuff. That's just what we bought this morning.

Many donations are given, but the congregation is also asked to stuff socks (so that we have around 400-500 total), and no one really knows how many we (the Jr. High) are stuffing. Truthfully, neither do we. We're making this up as we go. Which is why we're doing more this year than last.

A few of the things I needed to pick up today were things like socks for the women and kids. We had enough donated for the men, in fact we only needed 31 more socks to equal 50 for the women. It's a very complicated system.

Sunday, I'll be setting everything out according to group and making sure I really did buy enough of everything. I'll have to take some pictures on Sunday. It's a very efficient system. There's a lot of stuff.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter workout

It's time to change my workout schedule to fit the winter.

Each year the goal is to walk outside from the beginning of March through the end of November. I've already walked while snow has been falling, twice in the last couple of weeks. More snow is coming. I think I can make it out on Wednesday, but I have to mentally start preparing for the change.

It's not that big of a deal. Bill and I will get up and go mall-walking three times a week through the end of February. That's the winter goal. Unless we break down and get a monthly membership to the Kroc Center.

I'm going to keep doing yoga three times a week.

Plus the shoveling. Oh the shoveling.

Pray for us.

Or send us cookies.

That won't help, but that will just force us to go walk.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It made my day

We went and saw the Muppet movie.

I don't know if you realized that I wanted to see it.

I may have mentioned it a few times.

We planned to go see it today because we don't have youth group tonight.

It was a Muppet Movie. I liked it. I thought it couldn't have been any better.

Okay, it could have been better if Mr. Jim Henson were still alive. I'm not a movie critic though. With the exception of a handful of movies, I like most of them. I don't like ticket prices, but that's another post for another day. All that matters is that today we had a coupon for a discounted Matinee price. Yes. I am that person. Coupons are my friend (when I remember them).

Anyway, I had to tell you that I finally saw the movie, and liked it, before I got too distracted between the Red Wings game and putting out Christmas decorations.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

freeing the bathroom

We have liberated the bathroom.

It wasn't really under any kind of restraint, other than it had a door.

Did you catch that? It had a door. Well, wait. It still has a door. The door is what's been liberated. It's been freed from its hinges. And layers of paint.

Bill took the door off the hinges and took it to the basement. There he coated it with eco-friendly paint remover. I continued removing the paint off the trim in the hallway.

We're removing the paint, wait for it, so we can paint.

There are only so many layers of paint you can put on before it no longer looks good. Especially when your house is from the 1920's. That, and the last few layers weren't really done well. It was as though the owners were in a hurry to sell the house and sort of slapped on some paint in places that needed it. The problem with that is it shows. In a bad way.

So we're working on removing it. Then we'll paint a nice fresh coat. It will be purty.

In the meantime, for a short while, we don't have a door on the bathroom. It's sort of liberating in its own way.

Friday, November 25, 2011

just another Friday

It's just another Friday. You can read how Bill and I feel about this on our joint blog.

The day is winding down and Bill built a fire in the fireplace. It was quite lovely out, the sun was shining and it was warmer than average.

Tomorrow is small business Saturday. We'll be doing our part. It's funny how it works. Today, I cleaned for a fellow Quotarian. Now I'll take the money I earned and go spend it in the local economy at a small business. In the grand scheme of things, this will help Bill. What a great circle!

And what will we buy? Well, we're going to stop by the local mom and pop shop for some bread so we can have that leftover turkey on sandwiches. Yum. And we're buying supplies to restore the windows. Complete opposite ends of the spectrum. We're going to buy other things to, but we're going to make our list over breakfast; my blueberry pancakes with homemade syrup. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I worked hard today.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Today and a week from today

Today is the big day.

It was on my Yahoo! sign in page.

I love starting my day with the Muppets.

Would you like to join me? Here's the link again.

On the other hand, in one week my blogging for a year journey will be over. I've been giving it a lot of thought. Will I continue? Will I do something different? I guess you'll have to wait and find out next week.

For now, have a very Muppet Thanksgiving!! I know I will.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas.

But not in the traditional sense. In the everyone-is-out-shopping-and-driving-like-they-have-their-head-shoved-up-their-behinds. You've seen them too, right?

Then there was Meijer... On a typical Tuesday morning, there are usually two or three lanes open. And there's always a line (which is when they typically open the third).

This morning?

All but four lanes were open and the people were three or four deep.

My cashier apologized for not being very fast because they had pulled her from the photo department. She did just fine and was very kind.

Fortunately, I found everything I needed which wasn't very much. I am not making the big dinner. We're going to Diane's house. She's a long-time family friend of the Uebbing's. I'm taking a roasted vegetables dish and a pecan pie.

All this talk about food is making me hungry. It's time for me to go fix our dinner.

Monday, November 21, 2011

the Italian in me

I must be part Italian.

I love pasta. I have at least seven different recipes for stuffed shells. And I like every single one of them.

Tonight's recipe says,"This is one of those old-school recipes you seldom see anymore, but you should." -Donatella Arpaia. It was in the September issue of BH&G (pg. 174).

I doctored it up by adding an Italian sausage (just one, it called for 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef and I only had about 1 1/4 lbs. so the sausage filled in). Then at the end not only did I add fresh Parm. but I also added shredded mozzarella.

It is my dream to make homemade pasta in a kitchen in Italy.

See how specific I am? I already make my own pasta for Rollatini. And ravioli. If I really wanted to, I could make my own linguine.

But I want to make it there. With a crotchety older Italian woman (I would rather say "lovely" but I'm being realistic and I'm also thinking of this kind woman who would be trying to teach an American something that she doesn't need a recipe for, but that has been passed down through generations, so surely she would be somewhat crotchety) where wine is plentiful. Perhaps it would be a villa, with the strong smell of animals and country air.

Can you picture it?

I'm mostly German. Which given my post from yesterday, about all the cookies I plan on making, shouldn't be a surprise. But there must be some Italian in me somewhere...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the preperation begins

I learned from a very wise friend (thank you, Dave) to be better prepared for Christmas, it helps to have a schedule.

You can find one at Martha Stewart's website.

Then, when I get my new planner in January, I go ahead and write in when I need to send Christmas cards, bake cookies and decorate.

It makes the season a lot less stressful. I get to enjoy things like my birthday and baking.

Today I worked on my list of cookies to bake. When we lived in Jersey I baked several dozen cookies and then Bill and I delivered them around to our neighbors. Every single one of them looked at us as if we were from another planet when they opened their doors. We quickly learned to start out with the phrase, "we're from the mid-west". For whatever reason that explained away the unusual gift we were bringing to them.

Then, a few years ago, I made turtles and fudge and I delivered it to our neighbors here.

I enjoy this sort of thing. To me, it's a simple gift. If there's one thing I enjoy more than baking, it's gift giving. Combined it makes for happy neighbors.

I'm working to create the right balance of cookies; candy-cane topped, chocolate, nut-free, annual favorites, these are all being strategically planned so that it doesn't wind up as a plate full of chocolate cookies. Which, believe me, I wouldn't mind. But I want it to be a nice variety (without going overboard).

I've settled on six kinds. The last one is a new recipe and I need to go search for it, so please excuse me while I do that...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

game day

In more ways than one, today was game day.

On the college football front (if you're into that sort of thing), Michigan State played I.U. Well they would have if I.U. had bothered to show up. The final beating, uh I mean score? 55-3. Ouch! It was a house divided, although not really. I'm not a die hard fan. And fortunately my "out" is that I.U. is not known for their football...

I spent part of the day scraping paint off the upstairs hallway trim. Remind me of this tomorrow when my arms are sore.

Tonight we played Monopoly. There is a new Muppet's Monopoly out. I saw it the other day. I thought I wanted it. But after seeing it, realized I would really just want it for the pieces. We have enough games. Scrabble, Life, Monopoly, Clue. Plus all of those games in the Simpson's version. I guess my thought is; if we have it in the Simpson's we should have it in the Muppet's.

My head has since cleared and I've seen the light.

It's not necessary.

But seriously, if they ever bring out Muppet Lego's, look out. I will be more excited about those than I was when they brought out the Harry Potter Lego's.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Have A Seat

Perhaps this is something for the Blah, Blah, Blog, but I'm motivated to write about it here... Maybe we'll continue discussion over there. If we do, I'll let you know.

I have found that for whatever reason, people do not sit next to me. I think I blogged about this before regarding church. At any rate, I try not to let it bother me, but it can make one paranoid. Do I smell? No, I showered. Do I look menacing? I hope not. Do I look scary? I don't think so.

But whatever the reason, I find myself sitting in a pew all to myself.

On the other hand, Bill always finds that the person wearing the most perfume with the worst possible scent, is who will sit near him. This is in church, the movie theater, a play. It doesn't matter where, this person will always be the one to sit nearest to Bill.

I bring this up because last night I went to a band concert performed by Hope College students and members of the community in Holland. It was a very nice concert.

I spent the first half of the concert in a pew, all by myself. As I laughed about my common predicament, it dawned on me what happens to Bill. I had to stifle a stronger laugh.

I'll take being alone, thank you very much.

And then a nice older couple sat down near me in the same pew.

I hope I didn't bother them with my crocheting. At least I found out later that Molly's roommate was knitting, so I wasn't being rude (it was a concert, not a play, there wasn't much to see...).

Tonight we're going to see a play. A couple of the high school youth are in it, so we're going to support them.

Will we be alone or smothered by someone's Eau de flowerery scent?

At least I don't wear too much (if any) perfume!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

time for a dinner post

As you are well aware of by now, I love trying new recipes. In fact, Bill summed it up quite nicely when I asked him what he wanted for dinners this week. If there was anything specific he had a craving for. He replied, "That's the problem with always trying new things. I can't remember all the things you make and which ones I want again."

I can't help it. After years of the same meals over and over again, I have the time and knowledge (and as Bill would say, the "shive a git") to keep things interesting.

Last night I made Short Rib Chili. It was not a cheap dish to make, the short ribs were not on sale, but boy was it delicious. My taste buds have clearly adapted to spicy foods, because I'm sure this would set a "mild" tongue on fire. But it was just right for me. And there are leftovers.

As a side note: if you do make this dish and make the polenta to go with it, cut that recipe in half. We have enough polenta to eat for the next two weeks. Sadly, I think some of it is going to have to get thrown out. Unless I find a new recipe that calls for it...

On a different note: I'm trying very much to hold back how excited I am for the Muppet movie. I just found this video this morning. I almost jumped up and down. How much better could the Muppets get? I'll tell you: in the new movie they're trying to save the theater from the Muppet show. They've taken the Muppets and Historic Preservation and combined them. The only thing that could make that any better is if Lego came out with a Muppet line... Six days and counting...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Craft day

My mom found this craft in the Midwest Living magazine (December 2011 issue, page 80) and told me about it.I hadn't made it that far, but flipped ahead and liked the craft. It was perfect! I had leftover halves of the embroidery hoops from our Halloween costume.
Last Friday, I did what the magazine told me; I sat down with a glass of wine and started cutting ribbon. I only had a thin, gold curling ribbon so I thought I'd see how that looked. I cut a test strip to check the length. It worked, so I set about cutting and tying. I worked in groups of ten. This was the smaller of the two hoops. Between texting and drinking the wine, it took me about an hour.
While the photos don't really do it justice, it looks great! I'm super happy with the ribbon wreath I made. I'm going to try to find some other ribbon (the article used a red & white "candy cane" striped ribbon) to make the other one. Then, when we pull out the Christmas decorations, I'll hang them in the windows.

I'm mostly sharing this for my mom who first pointed it out to me!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Picture Day!

As adults this rarely happens. Unless you're a teacher. Or you attend a church and they update the Directory every few years, which is our case.

We've had exactly three professional photos taken of just the two of us. Our engagement photo, our wedding photos and the last church directory photo.

Bill doesn't like having his picture taken.

We've also had our pictures taken professionally at his sister's wedding, my sister's wedding, our friends Amy and Adam's wedding (we were Master and Mistress of Ceremonies, so we got a special photo with the bride & groom), and with the immediate Uebbing family (outside of all the weddings).

That's a total of seven times in eleven years.

I would have our pictures taken a lot more, but alas it's the best I can do to pretty much force him into the church directory photo.

So today is picture day.

I have a zit in the middle of my face (between the eyebrows at the bridge of my nose).

Juliette decided to puke four times early this morning so we didn't get a decent nights sleep and have bags under our eyes.

Did I mention it's picture day?

"Cheese"

Monday, November 14, 2011

five o'clock whistle blows


Today it was late. I didn't finish working until 5:30p

A travesty, I know.

So it wouldn't make you very happy to know that I only worked 2 1/2 hours total today.

Jenny and I went shopping and when we got back she headed home. I had work to do and had a phone call from the boss. I returned the call and saw all the work we have to get finished this week. No time to sit around, I jumped into action and worked past five. I finished what I was working on and emailed it to her by 5:30p.

It's very unusual for me.

On the shopping side of the day, we both got a couple Christmas presents out of the way. And Jenny helped me pick out a new outfit that I'll wear to the holiday parties we have this season. I'm excited about the outfit. It's super cute (in my opinion).

Time for dinner, leftovers reign but will not remain.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

hop, skip and a tick

Yesterday I mentioned that Heather, Jenny and Ginger were coming to visit. We went to Brewery Vivant and had the brewery tour. It was very interesting, I didn't really know anything about the process. Our Brew Master told us that the most important part of beer is the water. Most people will say it's the hops or the process.

After the tour we got to sample four of the beers. We also ordered the frites (it's a Belgium Brewery, so Belgium fries were not unusual). They were delicious! The beer was good too. I'm not a light beer drinker, I like the stouts... so while I liked a couple of them, I was happy that they were just samples.

From there we went downtown to the Hopcat. I sampled the Brewery Vivant Peppercorn (the Brew Master told us about it, but Brewery Vivant had just sold the last of it the night before). It was a lager. It wasn't bad, but I decided to go for the Milk Stout from Colorado. It was really good.

Jenny got a hot pretzel and a raspberry Frambroise Lambic. Heather and Bill shared a quesadilla and Bill ordered a Smoked Charkoota. It smelled and tasted like liquid smoke. It was not good. Heather ordered the (I'm sorry but this is what it's called) "Raging Bitch".

From there we headed to Gardella's for dinner (because clearly we hadn't eaten enough). Bill, Heather and Jenny ordered Bloody Mary's. I enjoyed more water. Bill and I had the beef and cheddar sandwich, Jenny went healthy and had a salad and Heather ordered the perch.

Today, after Bill's big Sunday breakfast, Heather, Jenny and Ginger and I took a walk. We didn't skip... just walked.

Shortly after Heather left, Jenny found a tick on Ginger. It was engorged. We didn't realize what it was until after Surgeon Bill removed it and I looked it up online.

Ginger is recovering right now. The three humans may be a little worse for wear...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

brew tours and Saturdays

*Editor's note: With regards to yesterday, 11/11/11 we watched "Ocean's Eleven". Thought you'd like to know

It's Saturday morning. We have a lot to do. We have company coming for a short fun-filled visit. Heather W., Jenny and Ginger (her Wheaten Terrier). The house is mostly clean, we just have a few last minute things to take care of.

The reason Jenny and Heather are coming is because in our recycling program I found free brewery tours to one of the local breweries. The cool thing about this Brew Pub (in case you're not into beer) is that it's in an old church. I can't wait to see it.

I invited Heather because she lives in the middle of the state with nothing around her. When I met up with her to go to Dahlia Hill, she mentioned how bored she is in the winter. She needs live music, a hip city scene and other human interaction (seriously, she's surrounded by a lot of woods...). So when I found these coupons, I knew this was something she would like to do.

Then I invited Jenny because John is out of town. We took a winery tour for her birthday a couple years ago. It was a lot of fun and I knew she would enjoy the brew tour too.

We are looking forward to it. But now my coffee is finished and it's time to get the house ready before they arrive.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11

It's eleven, eleven, eleven.



Yes, it only happens once (until 3011, but none of us will be around).

I am hoping to do something fun today, or eleven fun things. I have no idea what they will be, but I know I'll find something crazy. I'll probably take eleven pictures. I started with these three, to show the date. Once I started looking for things that make an eleven, I found a ton.

Don't forget to thank a Veteran! They all deserve a thank you all year round. One day is not enough. But let us use this day to remind them that they do matter and that we recognize what they have given for us. Thank you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

welcome winter

I get it.

It's November (but not officially winter until December 22nd).

It's Michigan.

For all of those who live here and are reading this, I apologize.

It's snowing.

I know. That should not surprise me. But the first snowfall always does.

It's not really sticking and Mother Nature decided now would be a good time to go through her menopausal years. It's been rainy, sleety, hail has fallen and then the snow. With bits of sunshine between all of those. She can't decide what she wants to do out there.

But now it's out of the way. The snowfall we get for the rest of the winter will be more significant and will be less dramatic with each flake.

Except for those of us who love snow.

Children...

Me...

I will be giddy and more excited with each flake.

And we're not even the first place to get snow this year. Check out our friends in Pennsylvania... they had snow. Serious snow. The irony was that the day it snowed there, it was nice here. That's backwards.

Anyways, welcome winter. Even if you are a bit early.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuscany

Well drat.

I was going to post pictures from our cruise since I never finished four years ago. Now I know why. They're not on this computer. They're on the hard drive for the Mac.

The hard drive which is collecting dust because we never replaced it after giving our Mac to my parents so they could join the twenty-first century.

I have all the photos printed and in an album. And in a scrapbook. They're available in my Walgreens online account.

Four years ago we were in Tuscany. Enjoying good food and good wine.

The best story from that day was while Jenny and I were using the restrooms Bill and John had a little adventure.

They had been discussing taking wine with us on the long bus ride back to the ship. Together, they went over to Diego the bus driver and asked him if we were "allowed" to drink on the bus. Diego said sure so John said, "You go find some cups, I'll get the wine" and they broke off.

When they came back together a few moments later (Jenny and I were still waiting in line and had no idea what was going on), Diego called them over to the bus. The way he was standing suggested he was trying to hide something. John and Bill carefully approached him (this was Italy after all).

Diego was wiping out wine glasses with paper towels. He had swiped them from the vineyard because he didn't want us drinking wine out of plastic cups!!

There is a photo of the four of us holding our "hot" wine glasses with Diego and Simona (our guide) when we got back to the ship.

Of course we tried to bring the glasses back to the U.S. with us, but only one made it. Our suitcases were a little stuffed by the end of the trip. And knowing how gentle the people are who handle the luggage, it's really no surprise that three of them were broken.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

just another Tuesday

Bill and I went and voted this morning. Did you?

There were three offices up for election and one proposal. There was no one in line when we got there, so it took all of four minutes. Two of those were spent telling the nice volunteer what our names were. He wasn't doing a very good job reading our driver's licenses. He called me Eunice.

As we left, we thanked them for volunteering.

It's a rainy, dark day here.

Four years ago we were on our cruise in the Mediterranean. Since it's Tuesday, we were in Villefranche. I blogged about the first two days of the cruise and then never finished... but you can check out that stop!

Kermit the Frog is going to be on Ellen tomorrow. Two weeks until the new Muppet movie is out in theaters!

I ran my errands and worked. My office is still a small disaster.

It's just another Tuesday...

Monday, November 7, 2011

office space

I decided to clean my office. Of course this started with cleaning off my desk.

Neither one has been completed and my office looks worse than when I started.

I'd take a picture, but I think the camera is buried somewhere in one of these piles.

The good news is I have to have it finished by the weekend because we're having company and she'll be sleeping in here.

The bad news is I desperately have to clean out the closet too and one week is not enough time to accomplish that task.

And Atticus just discovered my mess. He thinks he's died and gone to heaven. I have to go finish picking up this mess now. Before he eats everything...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

not all it's cracked up to be...

The nutcracker of course.

Not the ballet. The nutcracker I was using on the hazelnuts.

I'll just start at the beginning:

A few weeks ago on facebook, Sami left me this message,
"Dear Betty Crocker, I found a cranberry-hazelnut bread recipe that looks really good. Would you like it... to make for me? :)"

I told her I would be happy to make it for her as long as it was a bread recipe like banana and not one that required a bread-machine.

She brought me the recipe and I bought the ingredients to make it. All I needed that I didn't already have were the cranberries and the hazelnuts.

Buying/finding the hazelnuts was an odyssey. Needless to say I did find them, in the shell. I sent Sami a text to find out if she had a nutcracker because we do not.

Why don't we have a nutcracker? Doesn't everyone have a nutcracker? (Sami did not.) Back in the 70's wasn't it the thing to have? You'd set out a bowl of nuts (in the shell, of course) and whenever you'd have company they could enjoy them. Oh wait, while I was alive in the 70's (barely) we were not married in the 70's.

I love the ballet. It's one of my all-time favorite things to see at Christmas. I probably like it because our elementary school performed it when I was in 1st (???) grade. I was something and we danced in circles. I want to say a flower... but that doesn't make sense. Maybe it was a snowflake. That makes more sense.

Did you know in the Nutcracker (according to Wikipedia), nutcrackers were used [specifically] for hazelnuts. Yup, it's right here, under Act 1, paragraph three. Huh. That fits into my post quite well.

Back to the hazelnuts. I used the flat side of the meat mallet. Boy did it make a mess. But it worked. Maybe we need an actual nutcracker. I have decorative ones that I set out at Christmas.But I'm talking about an actual nutcracker, like here. It's a great gift idea, if you're looking for something to get us. Or a nice decorative nutcracker, but that leaves us where we started and that is without a nutcracker for practical purposes.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

... see it my way

The beginning of that well-known phrase is "Save Time..."

Tonight we fall back. Hooray!

I know I have blogged about this topic before, but can't find that post... and since I'm in the middle of fixing dinner, I don't have the time to go through every single post. At any rate, what I don't understand is why we have Daylight Saving Time? Every time someone talks about it, they don't have anything good to say. Cows don't care what time it is, they still have to be milked.

I think my strong feelings stem from having grown up mostly in Indiana during the non-Daylight Saving Time years.

Those were the good ol' days.

Then they had to go and join the rest of the country and get on DST.

I hope Arizona and Hawaii can be strong and hold on to their roots. Don't do it! It makes no sense.

I mean, sure in the summer if we weren't on DST the sun would rise 5am and set at 8:30pm. But it still wouldn't be dark until 9:30pm.

At least it's fall and we gain our hour back.

Dinner's ready: chicken thighs with Penne and Marinara. It smells delicious!

Friday, November 4, 2011

more risotto

This time it was spiced pear with bacon and pecans.

Oh my.

It was delicious.

It had a hint of autumn with the nutmeg and cinnamon. The pecans and bacon rounded it off with a savory flavor. Is your mouth watering yet? Here's the recipe (it's not as crazy as the other one)

For dessert we had apple crisp. Ala mode.

Bill was able to leave Detroit around 3:30pm so he made it home for dinner. Yay! It was nice to have him back at the dinner table with me (we bought the dining room table, we're going to use it, that was decided a few years ago after spending too many night in front of the tv, there are reports out there that say that will kill us).

Time to do the dishes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

peppermint mocha and pumpkin smoothies

Those two things do NOT go together. They are separate.

First, last night I had a pumpkin "smoothie". I walked into the HPC meeting with it, pointed at it and asked fellow Commissioner Heather, "guess what's in it?" She guessed milk, which was one of the ingredients. It also had canned pumpkin, yogurt, peanut butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, a banana and ice cream!

I added the ice cream because our immersion blender doesn't do ice. It barely does anything since the first time I used it the glue holding the blade in the end broke free. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But it works for soups and smoothies.

Or milkshakes, whatever this was... smoothshake. Sure, that's what it was, a pumpkin smoothshake.

I found this recipe in a magazine last fall. Since I often make pumpkin bread and I can only find the 24oz. cans of pumpkin (the recipe only calls for a 14oz can), I thought this might be a healthy way to use up the canned pumpkin. Pioneer Woman posted a pumpkin smoothie on her blog just the other day. It's very similar, I plan on trying her version too.

I'm asking Santa for a new blender for Christmas. Preferably one that can blend ice.

The peppermint mocha flavored coffee creamer is now sold year round. I didn't buy any until just last week. I want to keep it special for Christmas. When I was at the store, I realized I would have been stocking up on it in years past by October, so maybe it was time to buy some.

I just cracked it open yesterday. When I had my first sip of coffee, that peppermint flavor made me smile.

My online radio station has it's "Christmas only" option available. That made me smile too. I'm far from ready, but the anticipation is definitely here!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the other risotto blog for today

I have made risotto and blogged about it before (here). I like it so much that I went in search of more risotto recipes. I found a couple and have been meaning to try them for months. Finally, I decided I would make them this week while Bill is in Detroit (not because he doesn't love risotto; but because it's a good leftover dish, it's a good side dish and I'm also eating these pulled pork sandwiches so I just needed a little bit of something to go with them and even I have my limit on how many times I can eat potatoes).

So I tried this recipe today for lunch, Butternut Squash, Spinach and Goat Cheese Risotto. I know. You're thinking, how in the world did you ever find this recipe? I searched for risotto and this is one of the recipes that popped up.

Now I am nice enough to have retyped it for you. Because, even though there is a U.S./metric conversion button, the U.S. measurements are screwy. Things like "1/2 pounds, 2 -5/8 ounces, weight Peeled... Butternut Squash"...

What???

Who weighs their Butternut Squash?

So here's my version below.

Just so you know, if you like any of the ingredients, you will like this dish. The goat cheese gives it a creaminess that pulls out the flavor of the roasted butternut squash and makes each bite taste sinful. Dreadfully sinful. And delicious.

I actually felt guilty eating it alone. It was that good.

Then, I was so sad when not all of the leftovers fit into the dish and I had to have another plateful.

If you've never made risotto before, here's the best recipe for that. Try it first. Then come back and try the

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Goat Cheese


Ingredients

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup Arborio rice
  • ¼ dry white wine
  • ¼ finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 small Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 3-4 oz. baby Spinach (or a handful)
  • Juice and Zest of half a lemon
  • 2+ oz. goat cheese
  • Optional: Pine nuts and fresh herbs

Directions

Place the cubed Butternut Squash in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until squash is golden (this takes about as long as it takes to prep and cook the rest of the risotto. Do this first, or roast a large butternut squash ahead of time, reserving half of it for this risotto).

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep the broth hot.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next. Cook the rice until tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 15-20 minutes (when liquid is almost all absorbed).

Remove from heat and stir in roasted squash, spinach, lemon zest and juice, Parmesan and 1 TBSP of butter. Cover it and allow it to cook in the residual heat for a couple of minutes.

Crumble goat cheese over the top and serve!

Serves 4

This is a good way to make the basic risotto go further

basic risotto

Basic Risotto:

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep the broth hot.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next. Cook the rice until tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 15-20 minutes (when liquid is almost all absorbed). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

Yield: 2 cups

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

sweet tooth

Because candy is on the brain and I need something to blog about, here are my favorite and least favorite candies.

Favorite candy
Peppermint patties
Snickers
Cadbury/Swiss chocolate
Twix
Reese's Peanut Butter cups
Reese's Pieces
Peanut M&M's
Sweet Tarts (especially the over-sized ones)

Those are candies I don't turn down if they're sitting out for the taking.

Here is a list of candies I wouldn't eat if I had a craving for sugar like someone with diabetes (that's probably not nice, but I feel as though it's a fair comparison).
Twizzlers
those black and orange candies that only come out at Halloween
Milk Duds
chocolate covered raisins (I know, you were thinking anything with chocolate is on my list, but raisins are not)
I can't think of any more because I don't often sit around thinking about candy I don't like.

On a separate list are candies that I can make; the best, absolute best are turtles. And, thanks to Shannon, the peanut butter melt aways.

I think that's about it for my sweet tooth. Care to share any of your favorites?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Boo!

I thought I might try to scare you.


Here's our Jack-O-Lantern. I carved it out yesterday. I'm soaking the seeds in saltwater. I'll roast them later this evening. Yum!

Happy Halloween! I hope you have lots of treats and not many tricks.

Halloween 2011

Jenny and John had their annual Halloween party. Bill and I dressed up as... (I know the suspense has been killing you and on top of the fact that I came up with this idea years ago)


Jessie and Woody!!

Here's the front and back of my costume

And here's Bill (at this point, sans wig - notice he shaved!)



Unfortunately I did not take a picture of the bottom of Bill's boot (which I thought I did), it had "Andy" on it, just like Woody.

We had a great time at the party! The usual suspects were there and as always the food and drink were delicious. We are looking forward to next year!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday randomness

Maybe I use the random part too often, but sometimes there's just more in my head than I want to wait to write about. Mostly because it's relevant to recent events.

For instance, this morning I turned on the tv to find out who won the World Series (no, I did not stay up to watch, I wimped out at the end of the 5th inning). Were they talking about it on the news? Nope. I pulled out my laptop, surely it will be the first thing at the top of the headlines. Nope. Would you like to know what was? Herman Cain and his "big lead" in the south.

What? Seriously. What does a girl have to do to find out who won the World Series???

Scroll down until I found better news than Yahoo! apparently. There it was. The first news story from Today. That's more like it.

The other randomness is on driving. I'm in Detroit for the annual Halloween party (pictures will be posted tomorrow).

Bill and I often muse over the different driving styles in the different places we've lived.

Often, as I drive into Detroit, I laugh to myself at the traffic. In Jersey, you tried to go 70 on the Turnpike, but often couldn't because it was at a crawl. In Detroit (at least today), you have to go 80 so you don't get run over (don't worry Mom, I learned my story-telling skills from Bill, I was only going 75).

Traffic moves, cars change lanes at high rates of speed and it takes skill to drive here. As our friend Heather O. once said on our drive over to Detroit, "Whoa. I'm glad you're driving."

I learned from the best and living in Jersey for 3 1/2 years didn't hurt.

Friday, October 28, 2011

the sky is falling, literally

This morning, while I stood in the kitchen enjoying my coffee, I was looking out the back door.

I watched leaf after leaf fall from the Red Bud tree in our backyard.

Literally, it is fall. I was watching it happen right before my eyes.

Soon, there was quite a pile of leaves as they slowly swirled and spun to the ground. Letting go of their summer grip, each leaf relenting to the cold of the season.

Bill sent me the local weatherman's (his name is Bill too) forecast for the 2011-2012 winter. While Bill's email said, "kill me now" my reaction was a big smile and thoughts of beautiful snowflakes.

We are definitely a yin/yang when it comes to weather. I know I'm in the minority and I'll say it until it's no longer true, but I love winter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

worlds apart

I just finished reading "Valley of the Dolls". A book I've been wanting to read since I saw it on the shelf at my in-laws house several years ago. Okay, so it took me awhile, first to remember that I wanted to read it and then to actually get it at the library. That too took some time, I put it on hold and had to wait for it to show up at my local library branch.

Side note: I love how technology helped the library system. It's so easy to log in, find the book I want to read, put it on hold and wait for the email. Sure, I could go stand in the library and become completely overwhelmed by the selection or frustrated because I can't find what I'm looking for. Instead, I can browse from home in the comfort of my pj's.

While I was reading "Valley of the Dolls" I had "The Help" on hold. That one took longer to become available what with its recent popularity.

What I find interesting is my choice (or maybe coincidence) to read these two books back to back. They take place during the same time frame. Granted most of "Valley of the Dolls" is the 1940's, but it ends in the 1960's which is where "The Help" starts. I've only just started "The Help" and the two are so completely different. It is shocking to me.

I hope that's a sign of the times.

I know. They're both works of fiction.

But some of it has to be based of facts and research.

So to have one book about the city life and the struggles of being beautiful verses country life and the literal black and white world are just so poignant. All in the same country during roughly the same period of time. (No, I am not basing that loosely on the fact that the three decades were before I was born. But really thirty years isn't too far apart in the history of the world.)

I'm wondering what I should read next...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How smart are you?

Here's a fun quiz you might want to take: quiz

I did not score so well (57%), but it was a very informative quiz.

And it gives me one more reason to love popcorn.

Although I'm not sure I can eat anymore whole grains without turning into a whole grain.

Thank goodness it didn't tell me that I have to stop eating cookies all together. As our friend Katrina says, "it's all in moderation." Although I should cut back on the cookies/sugar.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

the belt conundrum


I have a belt conundrum.

Pants, trousers or jeans it doesn't matter; when made for a man, they have extra belt loops. Look on the back, there are typically two or three belt loops back there. On my pants (so I'm guessing typical of women's pants) there is only one. Then, one belt loop on either side and two in the front.

Do you know what happens when you sit down, in a belt, with only one belt loop at the back?

This is my conundrum (I like that word):

It has a tendency to pull your belt.

I have ruined more than one belt this way.

And you can't say it's because I'm fat.

I don't sit funny.

Most of my pants are too big and they're falling down, so I have to hike them up before sitting down, so it's not like they're being pulled by my fat butt (remember, I'm not fat).

No. I have decided it is because of the one belt loop. Why else would that part of the belt be completely destroyed?

Bill's belts aren't destroyed.

He has more belt loops.

I have a conundrum.

Maybe I should buy better belts.

Where do you buy a better belt?

Does anyone else ruin their belts?

If not, please tell me where to find your amazing not-ruined belt. I need a new one.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

got no time to blog

We drove home this morning.

I have been working on our Halloween costumes and made good headway.

We're about to leave for youth group.

Bill is very unhappy with the Lions.

All this means there's not much to blog about and I don't have the time to sit and think of something creative.

It's Sunday, I can take a break.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

family rivalry

Central played Ball State in Monkey, Banana (Muncie, Indiana). Bill and I went into the game telling my family that they would be happy at the end of the game.

For the first half, Central made liars of us.

Then, as Bill predicted, it all fell apart. Central blew a seventeen point lead to lose 31-27. It was a good game.

Then we went to Greek's Pizza. I've talked about that before here. That pizza makes everything better.

Now we've settled in to watch Notre Dame football and the World Series. Good night.

Friday, October 21, 2011

the midwest and mexican food

Believe it or not, you can find good Mexican food in the midwest. Maybe that's not so surprising. The other thing that is not surprising is that I ate too much. Yes. It happened again. I guess the good news is that the last time I blogged about it was May. So once every five months is not too bad. We did get a walk in today and I got to do my yoga, sit-ups and push-ups.

Then we drove to my parent's house. There's a new Mexican restaurant in town, so we tried it out. It was good. Too good. I was very hungry when we got here, and I ate way too many chips and salsa. Curse the chips and salsa.

No. Don't curse them. They're too good. Curse my inability to say no.

Eventually I said no. It was just way too late.

Not to mention we tried the corn dip my mom was in the process of making when we arrived, and my sister brought "Halloween" cookies that we tried too. It is my own fault I feel this miserable. I stuffed myself like a Thanksgiving turducken.

It could have been the margarita that did me in. But I don't think so. I blame the food. And the water. I'm like a water buffalo.

Maybe it was the margarita...

This is what I had planned to blog about: I love the midwest. Some people think it's too flat. I don't. I understand the need the first settlers had to stay here. I love Michigan.

And I appreciate the flat plains that exist in Indiana.

I repeat: I love Michigan.

But I have always enjoyed seeing so many miles at one time just on the road. From 236th street (this takes you from the highway to the small town that is Cicero, Indiana) you can see the two water towers in Arcadia and the two water towers in Cicero as you drive in. I just think that's so cool.

When I was in Jr. and Sr. High, we would go to all the football and basketball games. As we would drive home, I would look out the car window and pick out the different towns based on our location and the light "pollution". It used to be easy back then. Each small town was easily distinguishable. Now, Indianapolis has enough lights to block out the small towns surrounding it.

It's just a sign of the times. Perhaps we'll regress as we learn to appreciate the night sky.

The midwest is in my heart and I belong to the midwest. It's just who I am.