• 101 List

    <1. create a list of 101 things to complete in 1001 days[comp. 11.03.07
    2. Make Abby’s thank you cards, by Nov 7th [comp. 11.08.07]
    3. Send Abby’s b-day thank you cards, by Nov 10th
    4. Make x-mas cards by Dec. 7th[finished 12.11]
    5. Send x-mas cards by Dec. 12th [sent 12.14]
    6. Start a “the best thing today” journal[started 11.5.07]
    7. Meditate every day for one month
    8. Find a job I LOVE and that uses my skills and education to its fullest (hopefully teaching, but I will not discount something else that would be in education and made me happy)
    9. Keep up with list on blog
    10. Send out a b-day card to friends and family every year
    [1/?] 11. Complete Abby’s 1st year scrapbook[in progress]
    12. Make a wedding scrapbook
    13. Join teacher organization
    14. Participate in a teacher’s continuing education workshop spring/summer ‘08
    15. Have diploma framed and hang it
    16. Go to a play, musical or symphony at least once a year starting in 2008
    17. Get at least 3 pedicure a year(starting in 2008)[1/9]
    18. Make a list of 20 books to read (ones that I might not typically read), at least 5 being “classics” and at least 5 non-fiction [comp 11.5.07]
    19. Read 35 books (20 being from my must read list, others being book club books and whatever else)[12/35]
    20. Find a good dentist and go regularly
    21. Take up yoga
    22. Replace all bras and panties
    23. Replace all of my makeup and find a great line that works best for me
    24. Learn to use SLR digital camera better[in progress]
    25. Vote in 2008 election
    26. Make a list of 101 things that make me happy
    27. Start meal planning again[started 11.15.07]
    28. Start an ongoing grocery list on fridge [comp 11.5.2007]
    29. Start back up on Abby’s blog and post to it at least once a month[started 11.11.07] [17/32]
    30. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day for one month(try really hard to keep it up)[started 6/27]
    31. Eat at least one piece of fresh fruit a day for 3 weeks[11/30] [started 11.12.07]
    32. Take at least one cooking class a year (starting in 2008)
    33. Donate blood
    34. Make a list of 20 “must see” classic movie that I have not seen
    35. Watch the 20 movies
    36. Buy a bike and start going on bike rides with Abby
    37. Take a child CPR class
    38. Make a budget for Christmas presents and stick to it
    39. Make a quilt of Abby’s clothes (with mom’s help)
    40. Get lasik
    41. Print and hang more photos of Abby
    42. Take multi vitamins every day for one month, and hopefully keep it up[14/30]
    43. No eating out, deliver, or bringing home food for 3 weeks
    44. Plan something awesome for Mom & Dad’s 40th anniversary next year
    45. Organize recipes
    46. Try one 3 new recipe every month
    [17/96]
    47. Do something with wedding dress
    48. Go out with Tara once every few months
    49. Call Tara once every 2 weeks
    50. Call or email Michelle once a month
    51. Give up caffine by January,
    52. Make an Indian meal complete with naan[comp. 11.03.07]
    53. Personal #2
    54. Call Mom & Dad once a week
    55. Clean out/organize mine and DH’s closet
    56. Clean out/organize Abby’s closet
    57. Donate all the things from closets
    58. Paint/decorate master bathroom
    59. Buy new range
    60. Completely redo front yard landscape
    61. Tile kitchen
    62. Clean out/organize laundry room
    63. Clean out/organize kitchen pantry
    64. Put handles/knobs on kitchen cabinets
    65. Buy new entertainment tower for electronics in family room
    66. Finish or redo master bedroom decor
    67. Buy at least 2 new nice sets of sheets for all beds in the house
    68. Care for and get grass to grow in backyard
    69. Make a work/cleaning schedule a stick with it for one month
    70. Figure out what to do with the fireplace
    71. Do whatever it is to the fireplace
    72. Paint or replace front door
    73. Enroll Abby in swimming lessons
    74. Potty train Abby
    75. Move Abby to big girl bed
    76. Buy big girl bed for Abby
    77. Redecorate Abby’s room
    78. Teach Abby how to read, or at least start
    79. Buy a playscape for backyard
    80. Take Abby to Sea World once a year
    81. Take Abby to the Ft Worth Zoo
    82. Go to the pool at least 3 times a week during the summer
    83. Find a great preschool
    84. Start family game night once a week with NO TV once Abby is old enough, (next year?)
    85. Enroll Abby in karate (next year)
    86. Enroll Abby in sport of her choice (at 3 or 4 years old)
    87. Take Abby horseback riding
    88. Introduce Abby to one new experience at least once a month[9/32](I have not blogged baout all of these though :(
    89. Take Abby camping
    90. Take Abby to the trail of lights
    91. Go on at least one vacation just the 2 of us
    92. Have a monthly date night[9/32] (I have not blogged about these though)
    93. [personal #1]
    94. Make a significant dent(reduce it by at least half) in debt
    95. Write a will
    96. Spend one night playing DH’s computer games with him
    97. Watch an anime movie with DH
    98. Pay off DH’s car
    99. Have family and friends over for Christmas dinner
    100. Have friends over for dinner at least once a month(8/32)
    101. Do something really cool and that we have never done before for 5 year anniversary in ‘09
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Ways to avoid housework

I saw this posted on Joyce’s blog and decided it was a good distraction from the housework that I should be doing.

21+ questions

  1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My middle name is after my grandmother on my mom’s side. It was also her mother’s middle name and I gave the same middle name to Abby.
  2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? About 3 weeks ago, after my back surgery, when I did not seem to be any better.
  3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? No, not at all. It is actually something I have always wanted to work on and never made the effort.
  4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Turkey.
  5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, one fantastic little girl.
  6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS
    WITH YOU?
    Of course!
  7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Yes, but not as much since being a SAHM. I find two years olds do not really get the sarcasm.
  8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes
  9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? No.
  10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? I do not eat cereal much, when I do I am a plain jane cereal girl, Corn Flakes or Raisin Bran usually does it for me.
  11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE them off? Not many of my shoes tie, but if they do no I do not untie them before taking them off.
  12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Eh! I do not think I am a weakling but I would not say I am strong either.
  13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Blue Bell cookies and cream.
  14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? I am honestly not sure. I will have to think about that one. I will update if I figure it out.
  15. RED OR PINK? Red
  16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?* oops, I should read closer. I first thought, and answered, it said “favorite thing about yourself” I missed the “least” part.   physically- my teeth. personality- I have a hard time letting things go, not physical things, but stuff that happens.
  17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My grandma.
  18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? I hope others steal it for their blogs. It has been fun to read the few that I have seen so far.
  19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? I am not wearing any. I always kick my shoes off at the door as soon as I walk in the house. Abby does the same thing, it dries DH crazy.
  20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Mom, Abby, and I went to The Spicy Pickle for lunch. I had never been before it was really good. I had a turkey, artichoke, and feta cibatta, and a side greek salad.
  21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? the sound of the water running in the turtle’s cage.
  22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? midnight blue
  23. FAVORITE SMELLS?Cookies or cakes baking.
  24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?my mom
  25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? No one sent it to me. I stole it from Joyce. Yes, I like her how could I not like a fellow Spurs fan.
  26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? The Spurs, that is it!
  27. Hair Color? brown
  28. EYE COLOR? green
  29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Yes, but I have not gotten my prescription filled in a long time. So, I have to wear my glasses often.
  30. FAVORITE FOOD?pretty much any pasta dish
  31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? both, depends on what I am in the mood.
  32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? The Dark Night, it was fantastic!
  33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? pink and brown print
  34. HUGS OR KISSES? hugs
  35. FAVORITE DESSERT? cheese cake
  36. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? no idea
  37. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Mcurban
  38. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Just finished The Eyre Affair. I will start Breaking Dawn tomorrow.
  39. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I use a trackball, no mouse pad.
  40. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? nothing
  41. FAVORITE SOUND? The ocean
  42. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? TheBeatles
  43. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Saint Petersburg, Russia, or I guess Istanbul is further I would have to look at a map.
  44. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? no
  45. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Florida
  46. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? everyone!

My new stove!!!! #59 done

This is by far the most exciting goal that I have yet to cross off. our new range was delivered yesterday. WooHoo! I am so excited to cook my first meal on it tonight. Now I have to find something new stove worthy to cook.

It is a Frigidaire Professional Series. It has a convection oven, with a warming drawer (now where am I going to put all my cookie sheets), and a 5 burner stove top. Two of the burners are “power plus” burners (woo hoo!, no more waiting 20 minutes for water to boil), and the middle burner has a griddle plate that can with the range. Now I have to learn to use the convection oven. I did test it out last night (not cooking anything though) and it took about 3 minutes to pre-heat. Our old one took about 20minutes. Oh yeah and the best part no more loud boom noise 5 minutes after turning on the oven. Yes, our old stove apparently took about 5 minutes between turning it on to actually ignite. So once it did ignite it was already filled with gas, hence the loud boom. Sounds safe, right?!

My new love!

Back in the Kitchen!!!

I have not been doing much cooking, or anything else, due to my back the past few months. Well, last week I finally felt up to cooking again and tried two new recipes.

The first one I found off of allrecipes.com. I was looking for easy chicken recipes that did not have to be baked. It is too hot to turn on the stove! This one caught my attention because DH looooves olives, and so does Abby for that matter. I decided to give it a try. I did change things up a little bit. (the best thing about my changes is that it reduced the cooking time to almost half)

Here is the link to the original recipe called Olive Chicken II. This was really good, DH and Abby loved it and I really thought it was very good. I served it with cous cous (the sauce from the chicken was wonderful over the cous cous as well, yum!), and steamed broccoli, our go to veggie. 🙂 Next time I make this I plan on using Greek olives and sprinkling a little feta on top when serving, or as DH calls it “Greeking it up!”

Here is my adaptation. Sorry no pics. We are always in such a hurry to get the food on the table, I always forget about taking a picture. I will try to do better next time.

Olive Chicken

Ingredients:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

salt to taste

pepper to taste

½ cup flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tomatoes, peeled and diced (or you can use 1 can diced tomatoes)

20 pimento-stuffed green olives

1 cup dry white wine

¾ cup chicken broth (I use low sodium)

Directions:

Pound the chicken to about ½ inch thickness. (you do not need to getting really thin, but just thinned out)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Lightly dredge the chicken in flour/salt/pepper mixture.

Brown chicken in oil, about 5 minutes each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm.

Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme and pepper and mix well, then stir in tomatoes, olives, wine and broth. (deglaze any browned flour bits when stock and wine)

Bring to a slight boil then reduce heat to low and simmer. Add chicken back to the pan and cook uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Remove bay leaf and serve.

I have made one other recipe this month, but it did not fair so well. My friend Polly brought a wonderful chicken salad and cookies to us while I was on bed rest due to my surgery. DH looooved the Hippy cookies so Polly reluctantly (lol, just kidding) gave me the recipe. DH has a huge presentation that he is giving this week and has been working on all weekend. Yesterday I thought I would cheer him up by making these cookies. Well, I forgot to buy the craisins that the recipe called for. 😦 So they were not so great. I only cooked one batch and saved the dough. Hopefully I will be able to go out and buy some craisins tomorrow. These were seriously delish cookies. Oh, sorry I am not allowed to post the recipe though. Not because of Polly, she is obviously great at sharing her wonderful recipes over on her food blog. But, unfortunately the person she got the recipe from is not as generous. I will update with how they turned out with the right ingredients.

Swim Lessons and other updates

Unfortunately many things on my list have had to take a back seat lately. I had my back go out on me again in early May and then had back surgery last week. So, I have not really been up for much as you can imagine. I have gotten LOTS of reading in (I will make a separate post for those later), but not much else.

One thing I can cross of my list is # 73, enroll Abby in swimming lessons. Abby had her first swimming lesson last week. Unfortunately I was not up for going in the water with her, but I was able to go and watch. My mom did the lesson with Abby. While it was great to watch Abby having so much fun, it was actually very hard for me to sit there not being able to do something so simple as take a swimming lesson with my daughter. Seeing the joy on her face but not really being able to share in that joy with her nearly brought me to tears several times during the lesson. I did take my camera along though and got a few cute shots of her during her 1st lesson. Hopefully I will be up to actually participating in them with her soon.

Abby\'s swim lessons

other updates

#24- photography

This is another thing that I have not gotten to do much of since May. I had just gotten back into learning my camera before my back troubles started back up. I had the opportunity to learn from an awesome photographer, but with my back I have not been able to take advantage of the opportunity really.

Anyway, yesterday was the 4th of July. We did not have any big plans, but I had this really cute dress for Abby. So I such it on her and went outside for a few shots. I was finally feeling good enough to get out and use my camera. It might not seem like you need much mobility to take pictures, but trust me with a 2 year old it does. Not being able to bend much or get down low actually worked well for me yesterday. Typically I get down on her level to shoot Abby. But not being able to do that forced me to shoot from a different perspective then I typically shoot from. I took about 100 pics, and a few turn out great, IMO.

This is my favorite pic, close to my fave all time pic of Abby.

Abby 4th of july

This on is pretty cute as well. Anytime Abby puts on a dress she HAS to twirl. This was the beginning of a twirl. You HAVE to lift your skirt to twirl of course!

Abby 4th of july

#30- drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Since this is part of my doctor’s orders I have actually done pretty well with this one. I have drank at least 8 glasses of water everyday for one week. Yay me! I hope to keep it up. better go get a glass now.

#68- Grass in the back yard. Unfortunately my grass has not faired well in this heat and without me being able to get out and water it everyday. Poor grass!

#46- 3 new recipes a month. I have not been cooking much the past month and not at all the past week. So, no new recipes since May. 😦

That is all for now. I know I need to update some more things, but mostly things I have NOT done, which is somewhat depressing so I am stopping for now.

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

While stuck in bed the other day I came across this website.  Some people might be familiar with the book, I was not though.  Since one of my goals is to challenge myself to read more, especially books that I typically would not pick up on my own, I thought this was relevant to my list.

The reasoning behind my goal to read 35 books was to try to make myself always have a book that I am currently reading.  I find that if I go a while without reading it makes it harder to get back into making it a habit to read daily.  So far since starting this list I have only had a few days here and there that I did not read from a book.  I was a late bloomer in the reading camp.  I hated reading earlier in life.  It was not until my mid-twenties that I realized what I had been missing.

Anyway, back to the website.  Someone has taken the book 1001 Books You Must Read Before you Die and made an excel spreadsheet out of it.  I filled out the list, and I have only read 17 of the 1001 book. 😦 Wow, I have a lot of reading to do! 🙂

Check out the list here.

So how many have you read?

Shoe Money Tooooonight!

Ok so I am kinda cheating here, this is somewhat related to my 101 blog, but more than anything I just wanted to brag. 🙂 We hosted the Nestie Poker Night at our house last night. See somewhat related, I am counting this is #100 having friends over once a month. We had a blast and it was great seeing some familiar faces and meeting some new people. But best of all I WON! Woo freaking Hoo! Yes, I took 1st place in the tournament with 14 people. It was AWESOME!

My winnings!

Congrats also to rssnlvr’s DH who took 2nd place and s-a-r-a-h who took 3rd, good game!

*side note- I asked DH what to title this post. The Sports Night fans out there might recognize the phrase. 🙂

Books, Books and More Books #19

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I just finished this book, and I just wrote a review for it on goodreads, so I figured it was a good time to post here with my review. BTW- if you are not on goodreads, you should join I have found it a great way of getting new titles for my TBR pile (which is huge now).

I picked up this book because I kept reading such rave reviews of it by everyone. (seriously I have yet read a bad review) Given that this is a “young adult” book, and the subject matter, vampires, I really wanted to not like this book. Don’t get me wrong I read Anne Rice back in my early adulthood and I enjoyed them. But I like to think I am now “beyond” that and into more serious fiction.LOL! Well, I do read more serious fiction now, but come on who doesn’t enjoy some good mind candy every now and then.
I REALLY liked, bordering on loved, this book. I was immediately drawn in from the first sentence. I could not put this book down and anxiously waited until the next time I could pick it up every time I did put it down. Meyer has a very different take on the world of vampires than I have every read before. You can;t help but like her “nice” brood of vampires. You also can’t help but fall in love with the heroine, sweet innocent Bella who has a knack for finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. I do recommend this book. I rushed out tonight to pick up the 2nd and 3rd books in the series. I bought them NEW and I do not buy new books, so that should tell you something.

I have actually read several books simc my last book update. Unfortunately I did not write a review on goodreads or here about them. I am so bad about remembering what I have to say about books, except whether I liked it or not, after it has been a while since reading them. So, I will post the books and whehter or not I liked them. Sorry, that will have to be enough. I am going to have to be better about sitting down to blog about a books as soon as finish with them.

Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer

This book was chosen by my book club for our next meeting. I really enjoyed this book. I honestly did not know much about the Mormons (other than they like to wake me up early by knocking on my door 🙂 ), let alone the FLDS. This book really was an eye-opener. I am really looking forward to our book club discussion.

From Publishers Weekly
Using as a focal point the chilling story of offshoot Mormon fundamentalist brothers Dan and Ron Lafferty, who in 1984 brutally butchered their sister-in-law and 15-month-old niece in the name of a divine revelation, Krakauer explores what he sees as the nature of radical Mormon sects with Svengali-like leaders. Using mostly secondary historical texts and some contemporary primary sources, Krakauer compellingly details the history of the Mormon church from its early 19th-century creation by Joseph Smith (whom Krakauer describes as a convicted con man) to its violent journey from upstate New York to the Midwest and finally Utah, where, after the 1890 renunciation of the church’s holy doctrine sanctioning multiple marriages, it transformed itself into one of the world’s fastest-growing religions. Through interviews with family members and an unremorseful Dan Lafferty (who is currently serving a life sentence), Krakauer chronologically tracks what led to the double murder, from the brothers’ theological misgivings about the Mormon church to starting their own fundamentalist sect that relies on their direct communications with God to guide their actions. According to Dan’s chilling step-by-step account, when their new religion led to Ron’s divorce and both men’s excommunication from the Mormon church, the brothers followed divine revelations and sought to kill, starting with their sister-in-law, those who stood in the way of their new beliefs. Relying on his strong journalistic and storytelling skills, Krakauer peppers the book with an array of disturbing firsthand accounts and news stories (such as the recent kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart) of physical and sexual brutality, which he sees as an outgrowth of some fundamentalists’ belief in polygamy and the notion that every male speaks to God and can do God’s bidding. While Krakauer demonstrates that most nonfundamentalist Mormons are community oriented, industrious and law-abiding, he poses some striking questions about the closed-minded, closed-door policies of the religion-and many religions in general.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides

I enjoyed this book. I knew the story was about a hermaphrodite, but really did not know what to expect. It was recommended to me by some friends on the Nest so I decided to take a chance. It reads a lot like a memoir, but it is not. I kept having to remind myself that it was fiction. It is definitely an interesting book and kept me entertained.

From Publishers Weekly
As the Age of the Genome begins to dawn, we will, perhaps, expect our fictional protagonists to know as much about the chemical details of their ancestry as Victorian heroes knew about their estates. If so, Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides) is ahead of the game. His beautifully written novel begins: “Specialized readers may have come across me in Dr. Peter Luce’s study, ‘Gender Identity in 5-Alpha-Reductase Pseudohermaphrodites.’ ” The “me” of that sentence, “Cal” Stephanides, narrates his story of sexual shifts with exemplary tact, beginning with his immigrant grandparents, Desdemona and Lefty. On board the ship taking them from war-torn Turkey to America, they married-but they were brother and sister. Eugenides spends the book’s first half recreating, with a fine-grained density, the Detroit of the 1920s and ’30s where the immigrants settled: Ford car factories and the tiny, incipient sect of Black Muslims. Then comes Cal’s story, which is necessarily interwoven with his parents’ upward social trajectory. Milton, his father, takes an insurance windfall and parlays it into a fast-food hotdog empire. Meanwhile, Tessie, his wife, gives birth to a son and then a daughter-or at least, what seems to be a female baby. Genetics meets medical incompetence meets history, and Callie is left to think of her “crocus” as simply unusually long-until she reaches the age of 14. Eugenides, like Rick Moody, has an extraordinary sensitivity to the mores of our leafier suburbs, and Cal’s gender confusion is blended with the story of her first love, Milton’s growing political resentments and the general shedding of ethnic habits. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about this book is Eugenides’s ability to feel his way into the girl, Callie, and the man, Cal. It’s difficult to imagine any serious male writer of earlier eras so effortlessly transcending the stereotypes of gender. This is one determinedly literary novel that should also appeal to a large, general audience.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This was my book club’s last selection. I had originally thought/heard that even though it was non-fiction it read like fiction. Well, this is so not true, or at least not IMO. I did enjoy this book, but it was my no means a page turner. It was a very slow read. I did find the history of the first world’s fair held in the US fascinating at times, like the origin of things like the Ferris Wheel, and Cracker Jacks. But, I was disappointed in the “mystery” in the book. I would still recommend it, especially if you enjoy historical books, but do not pick it up thinking it will be a fast paced thriller or you will more than likely be disappointed.

#24 in progress

So I have had my Canon 20D for about a year now. Sadly I still shoot almost entirely in auto mode. I have tried many times to read books and even go out with DH and practice and for some reason it has just never clicked. The main problem has been I will learn something and then not practice again for weeks or even months so by the tie I try again it has all but vanished and I have to relearn it. I do know some of the basics of photography, like DoF, Aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I understand what they mean and do, but have never really put it into real world use. I AM determined to take better pictures and make better use of my camera. A friend (fellow Nestie) clued my into this awesome site The Pioneer Woman. She has a section on photography and gives lots of short tutorials. I have really enjoyed her site, she takes some amazing pictures, and have starting learning some new tricks. Today there was a tutorial on bokeh. So after reading it Abby and I took to the street in our neighborhood and I started practicing. Abby was no help as a subject matter, she would not stay still long enough, but I found some other interesting things to shoot. I had a lot of fun today. I am definitel going to have to make these trips more regular.

Here are a few of my best shots. Keep in mind I was practicing bokehso the subject matter was not as important as the background effect.

Oh and some more great news on this front. A fabulously talented photographer has offered to mentor me, I am so excited. We are suppose to have our first meeting tomorrow. I am excited and nervous.

O.M.G! #46 (and other updates)

In my quest to try new recipes I stumbled across this little gem, Pioneer Woman’s Apple Dumplings. Well, the title of the post says it all. These were so good, and best of all very easy to make. We had dinner guest over last night and I made this for dessert. Everyone raved about them, there was not a single one left over. Well, ok there was 1 left once everyone had gone home and I was cleaning up the kitchen, so of course I had to eat it.

Apple Dumplings

*from Pioneer Woman Cooks

2 Granny Smith apples
2 cans crescent rolls
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
cinnamon
*1 small can Mountain Dew

Peel and core apples. Cut apples into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

*note- I forgot to add Mountain Dew to DH’s shopping list. So, I added ginger ale (it was that or diet DP), not sure what it tastes like with the M.D., but they were still delish with the ginger ale.

other updates

#100- friends over for dinner

We had our friends, and their kids, over for dinner last night. Wow, was it a houseful, we had 6 adults and 4 kids (from 15month-4yrs). Thankfully the adults still out number the kids. We all had dinner and the kids played, then we put all the kids to bed and the adults played. We had a night of fun filled Wii playing. Although I have not blogged about this goal we have managed to keep this up. We have either had friends over or hosted something at our house (one month it was me hosting a scrapbook GTG) every month.

#32- cooking classes

Well, I have not taken a cooking class yet, but I am well on my way. DH and Abby gave me a GC to Central Market to use for cooking classes for Mother’s Day. Yay, I am really excited I have been looking over their schedule and there is just so much I am interested in taking. I should be able to take 3 classes with my GC, now it is just decided on what to take. There are just so many classes that sound great.

Here is what *I think* I have it narrowed down to:

CRAZY ABOUT CURRIES

SHOP THE SEASON

ITALIAN: ROASTED
MEATS & VEGETABLES

CHEESY NIGHT

anyone want to join me 🙂

#68 Grass!- in progress and a few other updates

After we moved into this house we pretty much let the dogs take over the back yard and really did not use it much except for DH grilling on occasion. After having Abby I knew I wanted to get the backyard back in shape so that she has a great place to play. Last summer we fenced off an area and it became her play yard. Well, she outgrew it pretty fast. It is now where I am keep all of our tomato plants and herbs. So, one of my goals was to get the back yard back in shape. Number one in this en devour is to get the grass back. Currently we have patches of grass but mostly just dirt. Two weeks ago I planted grass seed and have been watering and caring for it daily. Sodding was out of the questions because our back yard is so large it would have been thousands of dollars to sod. I am so excited because some of the grass has just started sprouting over the past few days. WooHoo! Who knew I would get so excited over grass.

Two of my arch nemeses to getting grass to grow in the back yard are our dogs

don’t let their cuteness fool you

and our monstrous tree. I love having trees in the back yard but boy does it cause a problem when trying to grow grass.

I am determined to overcome these obstacles though.

see the new grass sprouts, yea!

other updates

#46- try 3 new recipes a month

I have kept this up, but unfortunatley not kept up with blogging about them. I am not going to go back and blog about all of them, but here are the note-worthy ones.

Fly’s Creamy Green Chile Enchiladas

I loved these, DH liked them. The only changes I made was I added a little chicken stock (saved from cooking the chicken) into the pan when mixing the chicken and cream cheese together. (I was worried that my chicken had gotten too dried out so this helped) I also had medium green chile sauce and was worried it would be too spicy for Abby so I mixed it with sour cream to try to bring the spiciness down. They were still a little too spicy for Abby but extra creamy, yum!

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
8 oz cream cheese, cut up and softened*
3-1/2 C cooked, chopped chicken
8-10 flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups green chile enchilada sauce
1-2 cups Cheddar & Monterrey Jack cheese, grated (as desired)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat: add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in green chiles, chicken & cream cheese. Stir constantly until cream cheese melts. Remove from heat.

Spoon approx 3-4 Tbsp chicken mixture down center of tortillas. Roll up tortillas and place seam side down in lightly greased 13X9 baking dish. Repeat.

Pour enchilada sauce over enchiladas & top with as much cheese as desired. Bake in 350 oven for 35-45 minutes, until bubbly & cheese is lightly browned.

* I always use low fat cream cheese

Spiced Mini Burgers with Cous Cous Salad

This recipe was posted by a fellow Nesite. I had some ground beef thawing that day that I was not sure what to do with it so I tried this out. The mini burgers were ok, not great though. But the Cous Cous salad was terrific. I actually made it even simpler than it is here. The local neighborhood grocery down the street from me (BTW- everyone should have one of these in their neighborhood, I love being able to go a block when I realize I am out of something) has a great deli counter. They also have fresh made things like greek salad and hummus. So I ran up there bought some of their greek salad (less chopping for me) and asked them to pour on LOTS of extra greek dressing. I made some cous cous and mixed it in with the salad forgoing the dressing that the recipe calls for. Next time, there will definitely be a next time, I will use ground lamb instead of ground beef.

Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad

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1 10-ounce box couscous
1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 scallions, trimmed and sliced
4 Roma (plum) tomatoes, quartered
1 seedless cucumber, sliced into half-moons
3 tablespoons tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 8-ounce container hummus (optional)


Place the couscous in a medium bowl and pour 1 1/2 cups hot tap water over the top. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Form the beef into 12 small 1/2-inch-thick patties. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the cumin, and oregano.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook to desired doneness, 4 minutes per side for medium.

Combine the couscous, scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the remaining oil in a large bowl.

Divide among individual plates. Serve with the burgers and hummus, if desired.

Upgrade: Turn this dinner into a Mediterranean feast by using ground lamb instead of ground beef and stirring 1/4 cup crumbled Feta into the salad.

Fly’s Scalloped Potatoes

OMG! These were so good. I ate 2 helpings and I swear DH must have had 4-5 helpings. they were SO creamy and good. I often have trouble getting potatoes to cook evenly and all the way through, so cooking them on the stove-top first was IMO genius.

Scalloped Potatoes

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried*
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (5 medium), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme, garlic, salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, broth, cream and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes.

Discard the bay leaves. Transfer mixture to 8-in square baking dish or other baking dish(es) as desired. Gently press the potatoes into an even layer and sprinkle cheddar over the top. Bake until cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, America’s Test Kitchen, 2006.

Pioneer Woman’s Asian Noodle Salad inspired by Jamie Oliver

Another Nestie brought this salad to a book club meeting. It was so good I decide to bring it to the next scrapbook gtg. It was a pretty big hit. While it is very easy to make it is somewhat labor intense with all the chopping that is required, but so worth it. I pretty much follow the recipe. I did make the dressing part to 1.5 times because I love dressing, but it was good with the amounts called for in the dressing as well. I also only used 1 chile pepper. Oh, I also did not have any cumcumber (thought I did) or cashews so I omitted them.

Asian Noodle Salad
adapted from Jamie Oliver

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

1 packages linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled

1/2 to 1 head sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 to 1 head sliced purple cabbage
1/2 to 1 bag baby spinach
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin (if available)
1 small bag bean sprouts (also called “mung bean sprouts”)
3 sliced scallions
3 peeled, sliced cucumbers (I didn’t have a cucumber for the photos above, but they’re yummy in the salad)
LOTS of chopped cilantro—up to one bunch
1 can whole cashews, lightly toasted in skillet (again, I didn’t have them for the photos, but have used them before and they’re…sublime.)

DRESSING:

Juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped
More chopped cilantro—LOTS

Mix together salad ingredients. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on platter.
*Dressing keeps up to three days before serving, WITHOUT cilantro.

Enjoy!