Monday, February 28, 2011

the award shows

I'm certain it's not easy to be a director or a producer. And to shoot a live show must be that much more difficult. However, given the fact that the Oscars are as big as they are, don't you think someone could have figured out how to turn the mic down? Are you with me? Miss Hathaway's mic in particular. I really do like her. I think she's funny and a good role model for young women. I am sure she was nervous, but someone should have told her not to clap after announcing someone or else the sound people could have been on top of it and turned her mic down. She laughed into it, clapped into it and even "woo-hooed" at one point. That distracted me through much of the awards. Of course, I still have an hour to watch. I had to dvr it. Which has meant that I've had to stay away from any and all news sources today. So far I've done okay. I accidentally heard who won Best Actor and Best Actress. I'm not upset that I heard it, nor am I surprised. I like both of them as well (I'm not going to name them in case you missed it too).

I like to dvr it because I can hear speeches, but fast forward through any dull ones. I rewound the musical numbers for Bill. That was hilarious.

This is probably all I'll blog about concerning the awards because I only saw Toy Story 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Since neither of those make me any sort of expert or Oscar "Groupie" I have no need to try to talk about this any further. So there.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

the blog addiction

Last night I made Tortilla Soup. You can find the recipe and blog entry on PW's blog. She is fantastic. I enjoy her blogs immensely. She has several specific categories and always has a funny line or two. I mostly enjoy how she shares the step by step process of cooking. I've learned a lot from various cooks, media and from my own mistakes on cooking. But I'm still a visual learner and I appreciate PW's form of "teaching". She does home school her children, so I'm guessing this love (or maybe appreciation) of teaching is just a part of who she is. I'm sure she's written about it. There is so much on her blog that I haven't even made past June 2010 (going backward chronologically speaking).

So this tortilla soup. It's not a secret recipe. In fact, judging by the comments on her post this is a well-known recipe. I had never heard of it, but it sounded yummy so I gave it a try. It's winter and I've been trying a lot of soups.

Delicious. Everything about it was scrumptious. It's very simple and fairly basic. Season some chicken and bake it in the oven (that gets rid of the pesky salmonella or e coli or whatever lurks on raw chicken). Cook some onion and pepper (I only used red, we aren't fans of green), throw in a can of tomatoes (or Rotel to make life easier), then add two cans of black beans (there's other stuff that goes in it too, if you want the recipe, click here). Simmer it all together until the soup is happy (like happy little trees). Add some strange concoction of corn meal stirred into warm water (I think this gave it depth) and then slice corn tortillas.

It's like chili, only with chicken. And then you add the sliced tortillas and that makes all the difference. Of course we topped it with monterey jack cheese, sour cream, red onion, crushed tortilla chips, avocado and taco sauce. There are leftovers and this will be made again.

I very much enjoy this new blog, as you know because I've shared it. I guess I've introduced her to some of my blog followers. I was cursed. It's okay, I know Kelly means well. If anything she'll drop my boring blog like a bad habit. I'm okay with that as long as she promises to replace me with PW. (Of course I'm hoping that since I gave her a shout out in my blog she won't drop me, especially since she's one of three regular readers... no pressure!) So here's my disclaimer: you don't have to check out PW, but I highly recommend her. I'll probably stop talking about her so much once I've gone through all her recipes... or summer comes and there's more to do.

Or not.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

so close

Spring. It's so close. Isn't it interesting that February is the shortest month yet it seems to drag out to be the longest?? December and January both have thirty one days. Wouldn't you think February would just fly by? It should. Instead we have gray days that are getting longer, but the gray washes away the sun. More snow, rain sometimes to wash away the snow, which is okay because it's the ugly, dirty snow. No longer the fresh, white, pure, sparkling snow that brings hope of spring. It's now near the end. The end of our patience, the end of the season, the end of the waiting. The calendar tells us it's close to spring, where are the signs? February hides them in her four short weeks. March seems to get further and further away until we throw our hands up and as we go to walk away we realize March 1st is only two days away. Even if March comes in like a lion, the spring equinox is the 20th and soon the crocus will fight their way up through the snow to assure us that spring will not forget us.

Shamrock Shake

That's all I need to say. I had my first Shamrock Shake of the season yesterday. I didn't blog. That's what I would have blogged about. End of story.

(they don't all have to be long blogs)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

have an especially fantastic day

Regardless of what the weather does!!

I think I've mentioned this before; it's especially, not expecially. There's no "x". It's espresso, not expresso. There's still no "x". And after last night, please for the love of our crazy mixed up language irregardless is not a word! It's regardless. Or irrespective. Please everyone stop using it. Especially when you are talking in front of people. I, for one, stop listening to whatever it is you're saying because I'm cringing at your use of a word that is incorrect. Seriously. I can't help it.

Now for the fun part, I'll be enjoying a spa day-ish with Heather and Sami as we celebrate Heather's 30th birthday. I say ish, because Heather is the one getting pampered all day. Sami and I are getting mini-massages (the special today at the spa). Then we'll be hanging out at the pool, hot tub or somewhere imagining we're someplace other than the snow covered mid-west.

You would think that I'm going away for a week, not just one night given the amount of bags I'm taking... Oh well. I'm a girl. Hopefully Sami has room in her car. Time to pack up!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

more with our children of fur

Bill woke me up this morning and said, "don't move over, but try to sit straight up". Having a strong core from all the yoga I do, I was able to do exactly what he wanted, but knew before I had even opened my eyes what he was talking about. Juliette had placed herself to my right, but nowhere near the edge of the bed. My legs were way over in the middle of the bed leaving Bill with about a third of the bed.

Before you go and feel all sorry for him let me share what happened before I fell asleep last night. He rolled onto his right side (facing me) his right arm fell over and rested on my shoulder while his left arm landed on my hip. I wouldn't normally share anything like this, however we have a "demilitarized zone" in the middle of our bed. He drew the line from the very beginning and if I even have my hair on his side, I am elbowed until I claim all personal belongings and get them back on my side of the bed.

So there I was, pinned by him clearly defying the "zone" and the cat had staked out her claim to my right. I must have slept okay though because I don't remember being uncomfortable. And Bill must not have minded sharing his side since the cat had taken over a fair share of mine.

Then there's Atticus. I sat down to eat my cereal, which Atticus has come to realize that if it's in a bowl it must be something for him (this may have stemmed from the time or two that Bill has let Atticus drink the rest of his milk from his cereal, or maybe from the few times I've let Atticus lick the bowl that my yogurt was in - which by the way is very good for cats). So the minute I sat down on the couch, he climbed right up behind me. I told him to get down, and he did, to the ottoman in front of me. He was pretty cute, he would reach his paw out toward my hand and the bowl. Then he would lick his chops. Then he would let out the quietest mew. And then he would bat his eyes at me. I didn't fall for it, but I did tell him that he was pretty darn cute.

While we're talking about the cats, Juliette has always had a habit of reaching up and tapping our elbows while we sit at the dinner table. Last night Atticus decided he could do this too. The difference is how tall he is. He can stand on his hind legs and he can see over the top of the table. There we were, eating dinner and suddenly Atticus's nose appeared over the edge. Then he tapped Bill. Neither cat is rewarded for this behavior and while I know where the bowl obsession comes from I don't know where the table obsession comes from. We have always made it a point to give them treats away from the table.

Oh well, they're cute and they're ours. So sorry if you come and visit and you get your elbow tapped while sitting at the table. Try being loud, it may scare the cats away. Or it may scare us away in which case we can go out to eat.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


How come "they" can make headphones that cancel out the sound, but airplanes are still so noisy? Why can't they use the same white noise "stuff" and fill the airplane body with it? We are losing our hearing and jet engines/flying is doing nothing to help. Oh sure, for a couple hundred bucks you can buy these headphones and use some batteries to your hearing, but wouldn't the world be a better place if the airplane itself had this technology?? We are in the 21st century. They found the technology. You can't tell me that "they" can't make it happen because it's too expensive. Anyone can own a pair of those headphones and use a couple of batteries to keep them working, why (someone please tell me, or don't) oh why can't we have this in airplanes??

No, I'm not flying anywhere anytime soon. I was just thinking about this. Welcome to my random thoughts!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Married... With Children... of Fur

This is about our Valentine's Day dinner (a week late), no really. It is. We postponed the dinner because I lost my sense of taste/smell (they go hand-in-hand) on Monday, Valentine's Day. I fixed our dinner Saturday night instead. My senses had returned by Thursday evening, but we already had plans for Friday night and it worked out to have our "fancy", romantic dinner Saturday.

We had Porterhouse steaks from the cow that Uncle Ed had raised. And I made the Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi from the Pioneer Woman's website (click here to check it out for yourself). She promised and she delivered.

First, I took the steaks and sprinkled a little bit of salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper on both sides. I rubbed in the pepper to make sure it would stick. Then I seared them on both sides in olive oil in a hot pan. Only for about four minutes each side, they weren't thick cuts. I stuck them in a warm oven just to keep them um, warm. While I was searing them I had my pasta water heating up to a boil. By the time I stuck the steaks in the oven, the water was boiling and I fixed the pasta. There are no pictures because the food didn't stick around long enough for a photo shoot. Plus, our camera doesn't take great pictures. And as Bill always points out, real food does NOT photograph well (unless you're PW and you have a fancy camera).

I am talking about that in this post because we don't have children (of the human kind). We didn't go out to a fancy restaurant (we're being thrifty) and we had a nice quiet dinner here at home. It was wonderful (sorry if I sound like I'm bragging, I did have to wait an entire week before getting to eat this dinner, my mouth watered with anticipation every single day).

The children of fur come into the picture... well, almost all the time, but mostly because of their shenanigans this morning. I came upstairs to start working and Juliette came running out of the home office in an odd, paranoid, guilty sort of way (don't ask me how I can tell that the cat looks guilty, I just can - she's my child... of fur remember). So I poked my head through the doorway, thinking the angle that Juliette came from seemed to be from the attic door, but that would be odd because that door wouldn't be open.

And yet, there it was; cracked open.

Immediately I knew that Atticus was up there. To him this is Narnia. I opened the door, stuck my head through that door way and looked up. Sure enough, there he is at the top of the stairs with the "Oh, I'm in BIG trouble" look on his face (yes, I can also read that look on his face. It happens way too often if you ask me). I call, or maybe it was more of a shout, for him to "get down here!" That had little effect on the situation and as I started up the stairs to physically carry him out of the attic, he turned and ran.

Let me explain our attic; the death stairs that lead up to it are reminiscent of the death stairs in Greece, it's insulated quite well and is littered with five+ year old mouse traps as well as neatly (newly) organized boxes (that = hiding places for cats and other small creatures). There are large planks as the flooring with patches of carpet placed on top of them. There are two windows, so it has some natural light, but the florescent lights help when you're searching for a black, mischievous cat. The chimney goes straight through the center of the room, thus creating a circular "traffic" flow (keep this in mind, it's going to become very important).

I am now at the top of the stairs and "Attic"us has run toward the front of the house, I follow and he heads over to circle around the chimney. By this point I panic thinking that I will be up here chasing this cat in circles before he ever runs back down the stairs. Alas, he is only a cat and I am smarter (sometimes) and faster (most of the time) then he is. He panicked and I struck out, scooping him up quickly and deftly in my arms before he could rethink his hesitation.

I carried him back down the death stairs, praying I wouldn't fall, only to have him meowing in protest and trying to climb out of my arms with all of his brute strength. I managed to get to the doorway at the bottom of the stairs before his claws really gripped into my shirt (I've lost two shirts to his claws in the seven months we've had him, I wasn't about to lost another) and I sort of released him into the bedroom. In Atticus's panicked frenzy to escape evil human momma's arms the vacuum, which is housed precariously on one of the angled death stairs, somehow (and I really have no idea whether it was me or Atticus that bumped it) toppled over. Down the last two steps it crashed. The cat was gone in a flash. Hearing the final crash of the vacuum, Bill asks if everything is okay??

Were you in the attic a couple of minutes ago?, I ask him. No, he shakes his head. Well, we all just were, I inform him. How?, he questions, the door was closed. I nod in agreement knowing that it was. I respond, That is why there is a latch on it. Apparently Atticus is also Houdini and he can open closed doors.

And that is Married... With Children... of Fur

Sunday, February 20, 2011

If all your friends jumped off a bridge...

I was going to write a post about our belated Valentine's Dinner that we has last night. I will still write about it, but today I want to share how amazing the youth in our church and this world.

The Sr. High youth led the worship service at FUMC, Grand Rapids today. They do all of it. From the prayers, to the announcements, and the Children's Message, to the sermon. They sang, the Sacred Steps danced and they showered us with their amazing talents and wisdom. They are funny and straight to the point. They taught/reminded us not to conform; either in our hearts, or on the outside, in our spirit or our services. They also reminded us to listen to where God is sending us and what He wants for us.

It was simple. The words were written by them, from their hearts. You can hear the encouragement in each of their voices as they spoke to the congregation. I wish that everyone everywhere could see how wise and smart the youth are.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The cat will eat your homework

Atticus is on the Naughty list. He has eaten several pieces of paper off my desk, out of the trash, out of a bag, basically if there is paper he'll eat it. Except for the mail on the stairs. He leaves that alone. Bill's desk is covered in papers and he leaves those alone. It seems to be my desk and office. After he ate a couple of pieces, months ago, I started closing the door when I was done at the end of the day. That seemed to work.

Until Wednesday. I had two post-its on my desk. One had a user name, password and security code to the online "paypal" account that I had to create so that Cate could pay me. It's not an actual bank account. It allows me to accept the cash that she is sending, it goes directly into my bank account. I entered all of that info when I signed up for this account. The only thing I'm doing is getting an email from her bank telling me that the money is there, do I accept it. I click accept and then log in. I click accept one more time and it shows up in my bank account! It's been working since October. I kept the post-it on my desk because I have to log in every other week. It was a user name and password that I knew, but I didn't memorize it. Everything needs a password these days and I have followed the advice of making them all different so no one can hack into all of my accounts.

Back to Wednesday, payday. Cate had sent the money through and I received the email. That was when I realized the post-it was gone. I know the cat ate it because Bill had caught him the day before and one of the other post-its that survived was chewed up. I tried logging in with what I thought was my password. It didn't work. Since it's not a bank account, but it's through a bank I feared that if I kept entering the wrong password it would lock me out. So I clicked the "forgot your password?" button. It wanted the security code. I didn't have that either.

I called. The first person said I didn't even have an account. That was frustrating. I told her to let me speak to someone else. The second person disconnected me and sent me back to the main menu, an accident I'm sure. Finally I explained the entire story all over again to the third person. This is when I realized I needed to explain I had a user name too. They all thought that I hadn't registered the account yet. When I gave her my user name, she finally figured it out. But the only thing she could do was to delete my account and have me start all over.

I'm still waiting for the bank to verify my account. They send through two small amounts and I am supposed to go to my account and enter those numbers. That will verify it. I have yet to receive that email, so in the meantime I haven't received my paycheck either. Because even though I can see the message telling me that Cate has sent me money, I can't accept it because my account hasn't been verified. I'm not at all frustrated that I don't have a paycheck or frustrated at all with this bank, which by the way is Chase. Bill and I no longer have any accounts with Chase and this is why.

Now, Bill pointed out that Joe Schmoe can't call in and pretend to be me and get a new password. But the people on the phone had my social security number and my email. If anyone called in with that info wouldn't I be in a lot more trouble than having someone have a password to accept my paycheck (which would still be going into my bank account)???

It's supposed to take 2-3 business days to get that verification email, and since it happened Wednesday afternoon I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and will call on Monday if I don't have an email by then (gut feeling says I won't, the first time I did all this I had that email almost immediately).

The paper no longer sits on my desk. Atticus unrolled the toilet paper and tried to eat more paper out of the trash can, and I will figure this out in the end...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday: Walking, Blogging and a tip

We've been really good at walking three times a week since the beginning of January. I have noticed a difference for sure. I miss walking outside, every day, but that will be happening soon enough. It's been fun mall-walking with Bill. I'm sure the other passers-by are catching interesting pieces of our conversations. Sometimes we walk without talking and I've learned (being the extrovert) that this is okay. Bill added on two extra laps today. I am feeling it.

I always share Bill's blog on here, because of course I find it amusing and know you will too. Here is a look back at one of my all-time favorite posts.

My tip for the day: do not tweeze a nose hair after applying mascara. You should let the mascara dry first. You'll thank me for that.

And speaking of the nose, I have my sense of smell back. I can taste food again! Yay! We'll be having country fried steaks and potatoes tonight and tomorrow we'll have that Valentine's dinner I didn't make... check back tomorrow to see how that turns out. My mouth is watering for the four cheese pasta dish.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

a full moon

I'm not really superstitious. I have broken a mirror and I didn't have seven years of bad luck. I walk under ladders, and haven't died. I don't have a lucky rabbit's foot or a four-leaf clover (although I used to always look for one when I would be outside playing). I had a slight routine before softball games something about how I put my socks on, I don't really remember. It's okay, because it didn't work. We had to be the worst team in the league. One season we won two games, another season I think we won one.

That being said, I can always tell when it's a full moon. I get more klutzy then normal. Take yesterday; (I know it's not a full moon until tomorrow but it's close enough for me to blame) the cat ate my post-it with my password to accept my paycheck (and it took three people before someone could finally help me), I smashed my thumb into the shelf while trying to put my make-up bag away, I broke a nail, I broke a bobby pin, I tripped going down the stairs, and I'm sure there was more to blame but those are the things I can still remember. A normal day is more along the lines of spilling some water and tripping, but certainly not all of those things. Driving is always more interesting around a full moon too. I don't know what it is about a full moon, but I really think it affects us more than we know/realize.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

snot the same without smell

I'm fixing stew for dinner tonight. I have a meeting tonight for HPC, and unfortunately there is no judging how long they'll last. Some meetings have been as short as an hour while others have lasted four hours. I'm not a fan of eating that late at night/right before I go to bed, so I typically eat before the meeting, which means eating at 4pm. I decided to fix a stew which will be ready by the time I need to eat.

I think it smells good. I know it's one of those things that is permeating the house with its scent, however the other unfortunate is that I have sinusitis/cold that has incapacitated my nose. I haven't been able to smell anything since Sunday. I started catching whiffs of scents yesterday, but they're brief and rare. Even after cutting an onion, I still don't have clear nasal passages. I'm taking a cold/sinus medicine that has been helping. I haven't felt sick, I've just been going through tissues like I don't know what, but my nose certainly is red.

I have to say, mouth feel only goes so far. I can't wait until I can smell again because then my taste will come back. I hope Bill has been enjoying the smells coming from the kitchen, because I've been fixing some delicious looking dishes the last couple of nights. I just haven't been able to enjoy them. Don't worry, we'll have them all again once I can smell/taste!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


As in birds, cut out of scrapbook paper/card stock, not the Christian Music Awards (sorry, they're really the Gospel Music Awards). There was a request in our Sunday bulletin to sign up to come cut out paper doves from 2:30p-4:30p, patterns provided, today. I didn't sign up the first couple of times it showed up, but this last Sunday I decided I really wanted to know what this was about and help. I can cut paper. My schedule is currently flexible enough that I could take the time to go there today. So I went.

The paper doves are for the banners that will hang at the front of the Sanctuary during Lent. I will have to take the camera to snap a picture once they're up, because if they look half as good as they've been described, they're going to look beautiful!! The banners are one of the first things that I liked when we first started going to First UMC. Let me explain; being the "designer" I am, I enjoy seeing the interior spaces and like it when they're striking. Our church has a very striking interior and that is played off well with the banners. It doesn't hurt that we have a gorgeous Tiffany window above the chancel. You can start to get an idea from the church's website by clicking here. But those photos don't do it justice (especially because there aren't any banners hanging from their spots). That's actually the funny thing about our church, unless you're a professional photographer, photos don't turn out. It can be pretty dark with all the stained glass (even after it was painstakingly restored one piece at a time), but it is amazing to sit and see all the beauty that was built so long ago in 1916. The building is almost 100 years old, but we celebrated the 175th anniversary last year (maybe we're still celebrating...).

Anyway, I've always admired the banners especially as they change with the Sermon Series and the seasons. I'm glad I got to help and can't wait to see the finished product.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Before you making gagging sounds/gestures remember that you can say, "I love you" any and every single day.

Today is a day to remember to show your love in every way.

Tell your parents you love them, tell your friends you love them, tell your spouse you love them. And then remember to show them.

I had planned to fix steaks (from the grass-fed cow my uncle raised) and Pasta ai Quattro Frommagi. I was really looking forward to fixing this for Bill. But I'm not sure I can taste anything and if that's the case I'm not wasting good food on my stuffed up body. In which case I'll probably make some stuffed shells with lots of garlic.

Happy Valentine's Day. I love you!

Sunday, Feb. 13th

Yup, I missed another day. Sundays are truly difficult. First, we had friends come visit after church and they shared breakfast with us. It was a lot of fun hanging out with them. We played two games of euchre (Bill and I won both of them!!) and then they had to leave to get back home. I did the dishes quick, then we left for youth group. By the time we got home my stupid sinuses were on full throttle. I feel fine, I do not sound it. I managed to make us popcorn, but when I came to sit down to watch tv, it was just too loud. I went and talked to my mom on the phone while I ate my popcorn. Then I decided it wasn't worth it (sitting around feeling sorry for myself) and I read a couple chapters of H.P. and the Deathly Hallows. Then beddie-bye time. It was that moment when I realized I hadn't blogged. So here I am, blogging about yesterday. Oh well, deal with it. I'm still not sure what's going to happen when I go away on mission trips. I'm going to try to blog, but I can't promise anything.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday and totally random thoughts

Kitchen sponge or dish rag? I've decided that this is just as important a question as over or under (toilet paper in case you weren't sure). Being someone who has a circa 1977 model dishwasher (click here to read more about that) I am quite familiar with both. I mostly use the sponge to get cooked on food off the dish. I am a dish rag user otherwise. I don't know why I prefer it, other then my mom always used a dish rag, so that's what I grew up using. Maybe it's a mid-west "thing". I have a couple of crocheted dish rags.

I may be a little "germophobic" when it comes to the kitchen sponge. If you don't wring it out and it sits there festering in its own water, that's gross! I microwave it often, to keep the germs at bay. I replace it, maybe not as often as I should, every three to six months depending. Depending on what? How it looks mostly. Yeah, germophobe...

Bill uses it. That's what they grew up using in his house, a kitchen sponge. It's funny how different we can be. In fact, read his post from yesterday and mine and see how different we are! It makes me laugh, and it makes me appreciate our differences.

Anyway, I was washing the dishes the other night and started thinking about kitchen sponge or dish rag, so here's my blog for today!

Friday, February 11, 2011

the skis the limit...

Last night I experienced a ski slope in the winter for the first time. I don't know how to ski, I'm a sledder. Pat (from Quota) and I went to watch the Cool Cats ski. Once we finally guessed at which slope they were on, we had to wait for them to ski down and even then we weren't sure which helmet-covered, ski goggle-wearing, bundled up figures they were. They spotted us first (I'm sure our lack of ski equipment distinguished us from all the other people standing around outside in the less then 18 degree weather). So there we were, at the bottom of a ski slope on a clear, crisp mid-winter night. The lights on the slope were bright, but the half moon and stars were still visible. The snow crunched under our boots and the the sounds of skis and snow boards were only broken by the occasional cheer from the high school ski races nearby. It was serene and peaceful. It made me want to learn to ski.

The last time (and first time) I was on a ski slope was in July 2008 when Heather and I went to see the Big Ticket Festival in Gaylord (click here). I don't mention the ski slope in that post; we stayed at Boyne Mountain and our room was in one of the older lodges (I don't remember the name, Chateau something or other) it was almost cheesy, but it worked for us. Right outside our door was the chair lift. We decided to take a ride to the top of the hill to check out the view. It was amazing. It was also very high off the ground. Without any snow below we could see the deep crevices formed from the melting snow in the spring and the poles that measure the snow fall stuck out like lost candy canes in a globally warmed north pole.

The only skiing I've ever "experienced" has been on a Wii. I know, that hardly counts. Hardly, I say, because you do get quite a workout and I'm sure that in actual downhill skiing your body responds better than the electronic pad whose batteries were old the minute you stepped on and the kind voice said, "oh!". I would hope that you have more control in actual downhill skiing. And if you don't, then it's not for me.

I've always loved the Winter Olympics. It's much different on tv then in real life. Somehow the tv cameras don't capture the beauty of winter. If I ever do make it to a ski lodge and strap on a pair of skis, you can be sure I'll blog about it. Until then, I'll sit in front of a fire, drink wine and pretend that I'm in a beautiful ski lodge.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I could be famous... or not

Reality tv has changed us. How many of us have watched a show only to think, "I could do that". Or maybe, "I would never do that on tv". Either way between reality tv and blogs we have found our own voice. I am amazed at the number of blogs out there for cooking. You would think that I just found the internet.

A lot of my friends have blogs, or have had travel blogs at one time. I enjoy reading them, and I think Bill's is the best (and immediately following his blog is the Pioneer Woman who I am now addicted to reading). There is a blog for everything. Some blogs have specific audiences or themes. Other blogs (like my own) are completely random, perhaps mundane thoughts about anything and everything.

I saw a blog where the guy took his picture every day for a year. And of course there's the one that inspired the movie "Julie & Julia". Are we all trying to become famous in some small way? Have you ever had that thought, "man, if the right person sees my blog, this could go somewhere...!" I have and I haven't. Really, who wants to write a movie about my blog? I'm not creative enough to blog about a recipe every day. I'm not crafty enough to blog about a craft every day. I don't read enough to give a book review every day (or even once a week, and I'm still deep into H.P. for the umpteenth time). I'm not intelligent enough to give my thoughts on world views and I'm not witty enough to make you laugh every day.

But if you're reading this, you must find me somewhat interesting. And I thank you. I have no reason to continue my year-long blogging other than I made it a personal goal and without you, I might not even be motivated to continue. So whether I make it big time to the big screen or I just remain here in my humble, comfy abode I will keep on keeping on, struggling to find some new topic to write about in the hopes that I don't bore you to sleep.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


One of my favorite soups to make is a Tuscan white bean and garlic. I made it last night for dinner and it was souper yummy. It's really easy to make and is nice and creamy (once it's blended). I decided to find this recipe after I had this soup on our cruise. That seems like it happened ages ago, yet it was barely three and a half years ago.

The night that we left Dubrovnik, Croatia, Bill and I chose to go to Portofino for my "birthday" dinner (that is after all why we took the cruise, I milked that birthday...) instead of eating in the dining room. We ate a lot, and I remember every bite being delicious. That was also the first time I had ever had roasted garlic, another recipe I looked up immediately when we returned home.

The funny story about the soup is that our waitress (Melissa who was from South Africa and was wonderful) brought that course out, set the soup down in front of me, gave Bill his Tiger Shrimp Risotto and walked away. My bowl had five beans in it. That was it. As I was pondering whether this soup was clear and was about to put my spoon in it (I maybe had a few glasses of wine by this point), she brought out a little gravy boat that was filled with the broth. We all laughed and she told us that she does that with people who she knows can take a joke, but that she had people who ate the beans before she could get back to the table with the broth.

Maybe it was more the experience of eating the soup, rather than the taste alone (although I remember really liking it) that urged me to look up a similar recipe. Should I share it?? Is anyone interested? Hm, I just looked for a photo online and also checked the recipes from google (rather Goodsearch; use Goodsearch and select your favorite charity/non-profit to receive money for every click -then use google for better results) and the soup recipes that show up are quite different than mine!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sunny skies and frigid temps

It's a two sock kind of day. Before I left the house this morning to run my weekly errands, I realized how cold my feet were and put on another pair of socks. I completely forgot I did that until just now. It is winter, and while Grand Rapids is not the coldest place in the U.S., it is cold outside. I am wearing two long-sleeved shirts and a heavy fleece shirt. I'm still cold. Mostly it is my hands that are cold. Bill desperately wants a snuggie, maybe I will have to buy us a couple of them. On the other hand, I have my giant green fleece blanket that Eddie gave me for my 30th birthday. It's big enough to cover the entire living room and it's warm. Who needs a snuggie when you have the giant green binkie?

This leads me to share the scarves I crocheted for a couple of our college gals. I told you a couple weeks ago that I was working on them and I would share the finished product once they had received them. I have confirmation that they've received the scarves and the timing couldn't have been better. They were late Christmas/early Valentine's day presents.

This pair of yellow and red, er gold and maroon scarves were sent to Lindsay and Katie who are freshmen at Central Michigan University. Go Chippewas! Those are the school colors, or as close as I could get with the color yarn I could buy. Lindsay has assured me the colors are perfect! I just hope the scarves are keeping them warm because Mt. Pleasant is not forgiving in the winter months.

This green scarf is for Miss Molly, who is attending Hope. I'm pretty sure Hope's colors are blue and something else. Not green. But Molly's favorite color is green and when I saw this yarn, I knew I had to make a scarf for her! It practically shouted at me from the shelves at Hobby Lobby when I was wondering around looking at the yarn, "Buy me! Make me a scarf for Molly!" Well, I couldn't say no. So I bought it. And I had enough leftover to make a little scarf for myself, I really liked this yarn even though it was almost impossible to start!

My next project will be a Colts colored blanket for my soon-to-be-brother in-law. He really likes the pink, yellow, green and blue blanket I made for my sister, but I think the request to make him a Colts colored blanket is so she can get her blanket back!

Hopefully these thoughts keep you warm on this chilly day. I know I'm a little bit warmer!!

Monday, February 7, 2011


My life is a delicate balance right now. Tomorrow will tip the scales one way or another. You see Bill has given his two weeks notice and his last official day is Friday. Fortunately he has an interview tomorrow morning. What? He quit without having something lined up. Yes. It had come to that.

I fully support his decision. His health and happiness mean much more to me than a paycheck. Both were suffering immensely under the stress he was taking on. I am his biggest advocate. I am so happy he has chosen to do this (this is not sarcasm, this is being typed with my greatest sincerity) and I have such a calm about the situation. I am prepared for the worst and hoping for the best.

Which is why everything is a delicate balance. I keep thinking of something I should do, but then I stop myself and think, "that all depends on how tomorrow goes" or " I'll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow". For instance, and this is a very selfish example; I would like to buy a new dress to wear for my sister's wedding/Easter. But, I'm being very realistic and thinking about more important things like bills. I mentioned this reality a couple of times yesterday, and Bill said I was not being very supportive. But I am! I'm very optimistic, but I'm also trying to be realistic. I know we will be okay. But I don't know when. This happened last time and I'm trying to be more careful and keep my own emotions in check. Since Bill is one of my few followers I would like to say to him right now;

I am right here right beside you. I have all of my confidence in you and believe you to be the best. I want you to be happy and successful. Go get 'em!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday for the soul

Yesterday I was checking out a couple of new blogs my friend Shannon told me about. There are three of them and they are all for cooking. It's amazing how many people are out there sharing recipes, tips, etc. I am excited to print out a couple of new recipes I found, I love trying new things. Since there has been a small interest in sharing on my blog; here are the links to the new blogs (don't forget about me though!!)

mels kitchencafe
simply recipes
the pioneer woman

Enjoy! Explore! Learn new dishes.

Today is also the day in which we choose sides. I am wearing yellow. I am Switzerland. Truthfully I will be happy if either team wins (did I already say that?). We're in Michigan, so the Packers are just a hop and a skip across the pond. But the Colts and Steelers are both in the A.F.C. so I should be rooting for the Steelers. You can read about our friend Greg, who has been preparing for this game since the season started. I'm not putting any money on the game, so the outcome will make me happy. Hence the yellow. Either way I will support both teams. This will be good, because I can cheer for whoever (whomever?) has the ball. Yes, I'm a girl. *sigh* oh well. I do enjoy football and eating. Today is the day for both.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday request

One of my readers (thanks Kelly!) asked for the risotto recipe. I am not only happy to share it, but I'm also using it as my post today. Am I cheating? I don't think so. I need something to blog about every single day. If you have a better idea, please share! I take (reasonable) requests!!

Basic Risotto

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (I prefer a yellow onion)
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I don't measure, I add the salt and pepper to taste)
  • 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 3-5 minutes. Add 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 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Yield: 2 cups
Original recipe from Giada De Laurentiis


Friday, February 4, 2011

Fridays and commercials

I am waiting for Bill to get back from getting the oil changed in my car. I'm watching the Today show and they were showing previews of Superbowl commercials. The new VW commercial for the Passat (if I remember correctly) is fantastic! That's all I'll say. I don't want to ruin it for you.

Then during the normal commercial break there was a commercial for Eggo Waffles. At the happy ending of the thirty second time slot the wife asks the husband, "you made coffee, right?" As the man says yes, he turns around to go make the coffee. That is never a question either one of us has to pose. I know that's not the point of the commercial, but it was all I heard and I was aghast. Who has to ask their spouse if they made coffee? If they are regular coffee drinkers there better be coffee. Bill might disagree with me, but if I ever got up before him, I would make the coffee. Without him having to ask. Often, if we have to get up that early, Bill sets up the coffee maker to turn on for us. Ah convenience.

It's Friday. It's Superbowl weekend. I'm very much looking forward to the game. We're going to our friends Chandra and Jason's house to watch. We're bringing a lot of food. Bill is making chili, I'm making corn dip, we'll bring the chips to go with the dip and I have cheese ball. I have to convince Bill to share some of it, or not. The jury is still out on the cheese ball. Happy Friday. Have a safe and warm weekend!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

risotto and all is well

The other night we had honey-mustard pork chops and creamy risotto. I found the risotto recipe sort of by mistake. The first half of the recipe is for cheese-stuffed rice balls. As I have found a new taste for rice, I thought these sounded good. How can you go wrong stuffing anything with cheese? As the recipe goes, it uses left-over risotto (which I learned is Italian rice, not pasta) so the second half of the recipe is for the creamy risotto.

That is all good, except that we have never had any risotto left-over to make the cheese-stuffed rice balls! The risotto is so good (again, it doesn't photograph very well). I thought it was a difficult dish, but it turns out it pretty simple, just time intensive. Let me tell you, it is worth every minute. If you ever come to visit and I ask you what you would like me to make ask for the risotto. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I swear there's Italian blood in me somewhere. My next "challenge" is homemade pasta... I still haven't tried it yet.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard '11

This one almost wrote itself...

"Mark my words, we will not get any accumulation!" These were Bill's words the other day when the news first started forecasting the snow headed our way. He would probably prefer I not share those words with you. But it's my blog, so I am.

Here's what we got

We started shoveling... but two feet is a lot to shovel. Thankfully our neighbor let Bill use his snowblower...

Here I am showing how high the snow is.

Here's the house. What you can't see is that the bottom of the picture is where the snow reaches the lamp post.

This is what we woke up to. Bill took the picture and brought it up to show me because I was still snuggled up in bed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

soups on!

I am going to do my very best to completely ignore the ridiculous-ness of the snow storm that is supposedly headed our way. If you want a good laugh, check out Bill's blog by clicking here.

Instead I'm going to write about the delicious broccoli and cheese soup I made the other day. I finally got around to going through my freezer and writing down everything that is in there in a tiny notebook. I'm sure you would like to know exactly how bored I was that I would find the time to do something like this. Well, I'll explain it like this; I found two bags of frozen broccoli. Neither of which do I remember buying, one was almost gone, the other unopened. This is why I needed to make a list of what is in my freezer. I found a couple of other treats (oh right, we got 8 lbs. of ground beef from Uncle Ed's cow), and then I started thinking of what I could make with these found treasures. I love creamy soups, and have never made broccoli and cheese, so I started with that.

I looked for the "perfect" recipe. I looked through my cookbooks and found three recipes (well technically one was for cauliflower and cheese soup, I figured I could get away with broccoli) but that was it. Out of many cookbooks (I don't know how many I have; two shelves full... I'll have to count and let you know) I had two broccoli soup recipes?! (Right, three if you count the cauliflower one.) Hmm, interesting. And they all sounded bland.

To the internet! I searched the Food Network site first and found a recipe called "Almost Famous Broccoli and Cheddar Soup". I liked the sound of that. I found that I had all the ingredients and made the soup on Sunday. I really liked it. Creamy, rich, smooth (I pureed it), filling and a beautiful shade of green. The best part is now there's only half a bag of broccoli in my freezer!