• 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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#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.

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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!

#17 pedicure

I went for pedicures with some friends this weekend. My toe nails are all pretty now! 🙂

BTW- if you are looking for a good and inexpensive pedicure you should check out Super Star Nails on Anderson Ln. The place is nothing fancy but they do a great pedicure at a great price.

#94 in progress & 98 done

WOOHOO! We paid off DH’s car yesterday. It was actually a personal loan we took out a few years ago to pay off DH’s car loan (his interest was crazy high) and some additional money for things around the house.

IT IS GONE! It feels so good!

Overall it was only about 10% of our total debt (not including house and my car, I figure I will always have a car loan 🙂 ), but still something. We also have a plan now that the money for the monthly payments is freed up to have one of our credit cards paid off in about 2 months. YAY!

I have more to update but I am too tired now. Off to watch Top Chef.

3 more books down! #19

No, I did not read all three since I posted my last book. Two of these books I read before<em> Love in the Time of Cholera, </em>but never blogged about them. The third I finished last night. I have realized I need to post baout the books as soon as I finish them or I loose track.

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

After Love in the Time of Cholera I needed something light and funny. So if you know the premise of this book you might be thinking a murder mystery is not light and funny reading. Given the subject matter, murder, rape, dysfunctional family, it does not seem like it would be a funny and light read, but it was at least for me. I did really enjoy this book. It will not rank up with one of my all time favorites, but it was definitely entertaining. I was taken in by the story from the first line and did not want to put it down.

<strong>From Publishers Weekly
</strong>Arlene Fleet, the refreshingly imperfect heroine of Jackson’s frank, appealing debut, launches her story with a list of the title’s deities: “high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.” The first god, also a date rapist by the name of Jim Beverly, she left dead in her hometown of Possett, Ala., but the last she embraces wholeheartedly when high school graduation allows her to flee the South, the murder and her slutty reputation for a new life in Chicago. Upon leaving home, Arlene makes a bargain with God, promising to forgo sex, lies and a return home if he keeps Jim’s body hidden. After nine years in Chicago as a truth-telling celibate, an unexpected visitor from home (in search of Jim Beverly) leads her to believe that God is slipping on his end of the deal. As Arlene heads for the Deep South with her African-American boyfriend, Burr, in tow, her secrets unfold in unsurprising but satisfying flashbacks. Jackson brings levity to familiar themes with a spirited take on the clichés of redneck Southern living: the Wal-Mart culture, the subtle and overt racism and the indignant religion. The novel concludes with a final, dramatic disclosure, though the payoff isn’t the plot twist but rather Jackson’s genuine affection for the people and places of Dixie.

I really enjoyed this book. It is about a now sucessful woman, despite her upbringing, that grew up in a very dysfunctional family. It starts off with a story of her being badly burned while she was cooking herself lunch, (because her mom thought kids should be independent) and spending weeks in ICU when she was only 4. It tells of her, what most would call neglectful, parents exploits while dragging their 4 kids along with them all over the country. The author easily could have told a poor me sob story, and deservingly so, but does not. Her stories of growing up, as crazy and shocking as they are, are told in a very matter of fact way. I found myself often yelling at the parents in this book. You would think it would be depressing and hard to take but the story of the kids, especially Jeanette is actually inspiring. It is amazing what people are able to overcome, maybe those kind of hardships make us stronger. What does kill you makes you stronger, right?

<strong>Amazon.com
</strong>Jeannette Walls’s father always called her “Mountain Goat” and there’s perhaps no more apt nickname for a girl who navigated a sheer and towering cliff of childhood both daily and stoically. In <i>The Glass Castle</i>, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents–Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother, and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls’s childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets. Walls describes in fascinating detail what it was to be a child in this family, from the embarrassing (wearing shoes held together with safety pins; using markers to color her skin in an effort to camouflage holes in her pants) to the horrific (being told, after a creepy uncle pleasured himself in close proximity, that sexual assault is a crime of perception; and being pimped by her father at a bar). Though Walls has well earned the right to complain, at no point does she play the victim. In fact, Walls’ removed, nonjudgmental stance is initially startling, since many of the circumstances she describes could be categorized as abusive (and unquestioningly neglectful). But on the contrary, Walls respects her parents’ knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them–despite their overwhelming self-absorption–resonates from cover to cover.

I did not care for this book. I read this one right after <em>I Know this Much is True. </em>I felt I need to read something light, funny and to be honest after the 900+ pages SHORT! I thought this would be a funny short book about how you do not have to be super mom in order to be a good mom. It was short, thank goodness or I never would have finished it. I did not find it funny at all though. It did speak to the point of not having to be super mom and have all the latest toys etc to be a great mom, but I felt in a very judgmental way. I felt like the author was saying you are a bad mom if your kid does have a lot of toys or if you do baby proof your house, or god forbid you are a stay at home mom. I thought the author had some really good points but did not like the judgmental tone I felt while reading this book.

<strong>From Publishers Weekly
</strong>A welcome relief from the flood of how-to-mother-perfectly tomes, Mead-Ferro’s short and sweet book is a reminder not to take parenthood so seriously. The author, who in addition to being the mother of two young children also has a demanding career as an advertising copywriter, has drawn valuable lessons in “making do” from her grandmother, who “had none of the proper equipment by today’s standards” yet “never described motherhood as a hardship.” Mead-Ferro doesn’t care for creating clever scrapbooks, accessorizing the nursery or trying to impart baby genius status to her three-year-old. Rather, she teaches her children that “making do” with their imagination is as good a route to inspiring creativity as any educational toy. She believes in letting her kids learn that the physical world is a complicated place; it’s better than smothering, isolating and “child-proofing” the world for them, she says. Rejecting the mentality that results in pre-school admission anxiety attacks and overly competitive soccer leagues for six-year-olds, Mead-Ferro both soothes and inspires as she prompts parents, and mothers in particular, to trust their own instincts rather than that of the “experts.” Let the kids get messy, she says, and let them figure some things out for themselves. While Mead-Ferro’s not at all sheepish about labeling this approach similar to that of a “slacker,” readers will come away with the feeling that the author is in fact a wise veteran who has experienced many of the conflicting messages women face today, and who nevertheless comes up smiling.

Books #19

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

While I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, I also wouldn’t say I liked it nor would I recommend it to anyone. I appreciated Marquez’s writing, but did not care for the story itself. I was interested in the story and characters from the beginning of the book, it was not one of those books that takes forever to get into. My problem was I was no longer interested in the story or the characters after I was about half way into the book. I was actually often quite annoyed by Florentino’s character and only mildly interested in Fermina. This book just did not keep my attention. I found myself struggling to finish the last 100 pages because I no longer cared about the story. 

 From Library Journal
While delivering a message to her father, Florentino Ariza spots the barely pubescent Fermina Daza and immediately falls in love. What follows is the story of a passion that extends over 50 years, as Fermina is courted solely by letter, decisively rejects her suitor when he first speaks, and then joins the urbane Dr. Juvenal Urbino, much above her station, in a marriage initially loveless but ultimately remarkable in its strength. Florentino remains faithful in his fashion; paralleling the tale of the marriage is that of his numerous liaisons, all ultimately without the depth of love he again declares at Urbino’s death. In substance and style not as fantastical, as mythologizing, as the previous works, this is a compelling exploration of the myths we make of love.