Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moments

KateOhKatie wrote about her favorite moments of the day this past week and I really enjoyed the post. It made me think about how busy my life is but how much I enjoy slowing down and enjoying life at some points during the day. My normal routine is to get up, get dressed, go run, shower, eat, go to school, go to class, read, go to yoga or go to class again, run errands, come home, do more homework, make something to eat, eat, and then finally hang out with David. But I also enjoy some nice quiet moments during the day:

- Every morning when I wake up I take my temperature. My thermometer beeps and whenever my cat Thorina hears the beeping she chirps and leaps onto my bed for some pets. I love it. She meows and purrs and rubs my hands and wants lots of scratches. What a nice day to greet the day!

- The "romp" time of the day. After I run, I let all three animals out of the house for their morning romp, where they walk around outside and enjoy fresh air for a few minutes. My neighbors know this because they usually run away and I have to chase them.

- Drinking my cup of coffee and reading blogs before I go to school.

- When I lay down in my bath and let the hot water envelop me

- The quietness of my kitchen after we have shut down the house and began going to bed

- The satisfaction of understanding something in class

- Falling asleep reading next to David in bed

What are your favorite moments of the day?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fun Thing Friday: Facial Cleanser

I know, I know. I am telling you, I am not a crazy sponsor for Burt's Bees...but I love this facial cleanser. If you leave it on for a minute your face feels nice and tingly. My face has not broken out since I began using it. I LOVE it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Girl Scout Cookies

It seems that it is girl scout cookie season again. Unlike tax season or finals season, I actually like girl scout cookie season. My favorites are Thin Mints (duh) and Caramel DeLites. Too bad, because in the past week or so I've consumed 1,120 calories in Caramel Delites alone. I haven't eaten all of my Thin Mints because I'm saving them to eat in ice cream sometime.

We were sold our cookies by this up-and-coming brash saleswoman:

Looking serious to gain trust, a common sales tactic

The sales call went a little like this (I think this is the only time I've been glad a salesperson called the house):

Me: Hello?
Saleswoman: Hi Abbie....would you like...to buy...girl scout cookies?
Me: Ohhhhhh yes please!
Saleswoman: Okay. Which kinds do you want?
Me: Well, what kinds do you have?
Saleswoman: (Silence. I hear something in the background.) *Whispering* Mom! What kinds are they? I can't read them!
Mysterious mom figure: Thin mints...
Saleswoman: Thin mints..
Mom: Caramel DeLites...
Saleswoman: Caramel Delites...
Mom: Peanut Butter...
Saleswoman: Peanut Butter...
Me: (figuring out that mom was having to wrestle two other kids and read these cookies to me ) Oh, okay. I have my mind made up. I'd like some Thin Mints and some Caramel DeLites, please.
Saleswoman: O-K.
Me: How will you be making these? Does your mom bake them in her kitchen?
Saleswoman: (Silence.) No, we get them in the mail.
Me: Delicious.

Leading her next customer into the office to make the next sale.

Earlier this week I tried to investigate how old the cookies really are...meaning...when were they actually baked? I haven't been able to find information on that yet from the internet but plan on looking at my box. In the meantime, I found this humorous video from Andy Rooney from 60 minutes. Enjoy it!

Jump to the video here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The battle of bad eating

Source
So last night I went to Red Lobster with longtime friends. We had a great time catching up and laughing. But I wanted to write about the food at Red Lobster. I feel like I am the only one in the world who thinks that it is kind of overpriced and...frankly, nasty.

We ordered an appetizer- lobster nachos- which were pretty good. I certainly ate a lot of them. But then I was really disappointed in my popcorn shrimp and coconut shrimp. I seriously felt as if I could go home, buy popcorn shrimp from the freezer section, and then make them in my oven and they would be just as good.

This isn't the point of the post, though. I had a lot of lobster nacho leftovers in my fridge overnight. Just now I had a huge fight with myself about these leftovers. I got home from my run this morning (!), opened up the fridge, and began eating them! My head was screaming, "STOP EATING THESE! They are not good for you!" But my mouth was saying, "I don't care...they taste good. Mmmmm!"

I took a shower and thought that maybe I would eat them for breakfast. Again, my brain and mouth had a fight:
Brain: You must not eat the nachos. Be a normal person and eat them for lunch if you want them that badly!
Mouth: No, I must have them now. Nom nom nom.
Brain: Abbie, you know that if you eat those nachos you will be mad at yourself later for not eating like a healthy human being.
Mouth: So what? It will be delicious. Yummmmmm.

The mouth won. I reheated the nachos. I took them to the table, munching a little on them. Then I looked at them.

EEEEEEWWWWW!
Source
Now, I "don't like cheese" except for nacho cheese and some pizza cheese. It is almost like I can ignore that those kinds of cheese are actually cheese because the other things in the dish make it delicious.

Do you see that stringy stuff in the picture above in between the two parts of the sandwich? Yeah, whenever I see that...I am reminded that this is cheese and that I really don't like it. And then I want to throw up a little in my mouth. I saw that on my nachos this morning, put them in the garbage disposal, and ran it so they would disappear. Nasty. My brain began gloating.

*Before someone gets mad at me for wasting food, you are right. I should have more self-control and I should give the leftovers to my husband. I am sorry.

This often happens with me when I have bad leftovers. I think to myself that I really shouldn't be eating them but then I do anyway. Sometimes I do throw them away or give them to David, but honestly I mostly just eat them. I wish that I had more self-control with leftovers.

Do you like Red Lobster? What is your favorite thing to get there? Do you battle with yourself, thinking that you really should not eat something and then you do anyway?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Call for Submissions

I would like to open my travel section up to guest writers. So many people I know have been to so many different and cool places and I want to read about them all!

So here is the deal:

- If you are a guest writer, you would write one post about one destination (maybe your favorite place) you've been. You can send me pictures and I will post them. You can write about anything: things to do, where you stayed, tips you had, etc.

- There is no limit on how long or short the post can be.

- I will link to your blog if you have one.

- We can set up a schedule that is convenient for you. So, if you are interested and really busy right now, you can definitely wait to guest post until this summer, for example, but I would like to have a few people start soon.

- If you want, I can help you edit your posts.

If you have been anywhere please comment below and let me know if you are interested! I would especially love to see people who are my regular readers (even those of you who don't have a blog) post.

I know that several of you have been really cool places like Hungary, Boston, Sweden, England, Costa Rica, Italy, Hawaii, San Diego, Hilton Head Island, Ireland, Mexico, Florida, Minnesota, Sequoia National Park, U.A.E., etc., etc.

Please comment below if you are interested!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Monday

Last night we made a huge pizza, which was beyond delicious. Yummy!

Here is Menu Monday:
Monday: fish with vegetables and black-eyed peas
Tuesday: Salads and leftovers
Wednesday: scallops and cooked spinach
Thursday: leftovers and popcorn
Friday: chili

Last week I made enchiladas. I love making enchiladas at the beginning of the week and having them for the rest of the week to eat for leftovers. Here is my recipe:

Enchiladas

- one pound of hamburger
- one can of black beans (or black beans made from the bag)
- one green bell pepper
- one half of an onion
- tortillas
- one can of medium enchilada sauce
- tomato sauce
- one cup of frozen corn
- chili powder
- pepper
- a bit of sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the hamburger and the black beans. Combine and set aside. Saute the pepper, onion, and corn. Combine it with the hamburger and black beans. Add chili powder, pepper, and a dash of sugar to taste. Add the can of tomato sauce.

Open the tortillas and add a bit of the mixture in each one. Put each enchilada in an oven pan and cook the enchiladas for 30 minutes. Pour the can of enchilada sauce on top of the enchiladas. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Dreaded DMV

I sometimes wonder...do people dread the DMV because of their own silliness or because it is really that bad?

I went to the DMV on Thursday this week. This year we lost that little postcard that comes from the state as a friendly reminder to renew your tags.

I had already gotten into a fight with my husband regarding the 2008 tax return because I was convinced it was lost and had time to go to the DMV the week before. Of course he was not at home that evening. My dad could hear my yells very reasonable requests:

Me: DAVVVIIDDDD! WHERE are the 2008 tax returns? I couldn’t find them in the mammoth pile of mail on your desk that you still. haven’t. gone. through. even. though. I. asked. you. two. weeks. ago. to. do. it.

David: (in a very reasonable tone, the tone that he adopts when he’s thinking, “Oh sheesh here she goes again…”) Abbie, I think they are probably in our document box if they aren’t in that pile.

Me: (Throwing things out of the closet willy nilly and causing several items to crash to the floor) ARGH David this box is covered in a griddle, a photo album, and fifty picture frames. WHY DON’T YOU EVER ORGANIZE THE CLOSET?! DO I HAVE TO ASK YOU TO DO EVERYTHING?

David: Siggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Me: What was that?

David: Nothing.

David: Listen, they should be in there.

Me: I don’t see them. You lost them. I know you did. You probably threw them away!

David: I didn’t throw them away.

Me: Argghh now I have to put this box BACK into the closet all by myself despite the fact that the closet is now in complete disarray. ARrrghghghghghghhhh! And tomorrow was the best time for me to go to the DMV and I hate going and it is horrible and I can’t find the 2008 tax returns!

(Two nights later David came home)

David: Abbie, come here and look at this.

Me: What? (I walked in the room and saw him holding the 2008 tax returns.)

David: They are the 2008 tax returns.

Me. Oh. Where did you find them? In a secret spot? Did you hide them?

David: No, they were right here on the top of my desk. In an envelope marked, “TAX DOCUMENTS ENCLOSED.”

Me: Whoopsies.

(Cue David’s speech about how I maybe should not freak out over not finding the tax returns and my mother’s voice in my head saying, “If you would just look past the end of your nose…..”

Anyway, I finally had everything ready to go on Thursday this week. Believe me, every single one of my friends knew of this excursion because I complained about it all day long. "Ughhhhh I have to go to the DMV," I moaned to anybody who would listen.

Here is an example of my chat with my friend Rach from that day:

Me: i need to go to the DMV after this boo hooooo

Rachel: oh god that sucks.

me: yeah

but just to get tags

Rachel: the dmv will suck the life out of you

me: which is USUALLY a shorter line

Rachel: and then spit it on the ground and stomp on it

argh.

IF you have the 9 million items necessary


I kind of laughed at that because duh everybody knows what to bring to the DMV. Duh. Even though I had lost my postcard from the state I knew. Your tax returns, your license, etc. Durrrr. Instead, I should have taken Rachel's statement as an omen of some sort.

So I got to the DMV and stood in the teeny line. It was pretty empty, actually, which was a pleasant surprise, even though there was a line. The thing about the DMV is that everybody gets extra confused there. I mean, this one guy stood in the wrong line forever. I heard a man say during his driving test that a sign meant “Do not enter” when in actuality the signs was referring to a one-way street. I seriously think that everybody gets 50% more confused when they walk into that door. For instance, when it was my turn, a lady under the “TITLES ONLY” line said, “Hon, I can help you over here.” I stood, looking at her, thinking to myself, “But I don’t want a title!” She gestured again and again. “Honey, come over here!” Finally I was convinced that she in fact wanted to help me and walked over to her. “I’m so sorry I lost that postcard that you sent me I probably threw it out or in fact maybe my husband threw it out he throws out a lot of things and I thought that maybe he had thrown out the 2008 tax returns and he found them hahaha,” I mumbled.

The lady looked at me.

“Then you can’t get your tags renewed. You need that postcard.”

I looked at her, thinking, man oh man what am I going to do now? I will not be able to get my license renewed and then it will be horrible because what will I tell David?

Then she laughed and said, “I’m kidding, hon. Of course you can still get your tags.”


DMV people shouldn’t joke like that. Everybody is already on edge and crazy when they get into that office!

“Okkkkkaaayyyyyyy. Here are your tax returns. Perfect. 2008 and 2009. Now, where is your insurance?”

Oh snap. I forgot it in the car. “Oh no! I forgot it in the car! I’m so sorry! Can I go get it please?”

“Sure, hon. Go get it. It will be fine!”

So I ran to get my insurance card and noticed the date 1/1/2010 on it. Of course, without reading it, I thought, OH MY GOSH OUR INSURANCE EXPIRED AND I AM DRIVING WITHOUT INSURANCE. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW.

Then I read that 1/1/2010 was the effective date. Whew.

I ran back in and the lady said, “Okay. Inspection?”

Me: Inspection?

Lady: Inspection.

Me: Ggggggrrrrrroooooooooaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnn….

Needless to say, my car is getting inspected today. And I will be taking my second trip to the DMV this week.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fun Thing Friday: My Uggs

Image found here.

Oh, Uggs. So many people hate you. They say you are ugly, stupid, too expensive, and ridiculous. They even go so far as to write hateful Facebook statuses about people who wear you. You are considered by many to be the epitome of goofus footwear.

But I say that is because those people have never tried you on. You are by far the most comfortable, warm, delicious, soft, and perfect shoes in my wardrobe. I love you and your softness.

The story of my Uggs is fun. We went on vacation over Christmas to California in 2003 and saw a bunch of people wearing Uggs that December. We both loved them so my mom let me order my Sand Short Uggs online but they were on backorder until April. I finally got them at school!
My Uggs were just babies back then!

I was SO excited to finally get them and I wore them with skirts around school. (As for you who complain about the cost...they have lasted me almost 6 years and at about $140 for a pair, they cost $23 a year for me so far to wear them. A lot. And they are still going strong.)

My Uggs have been through a lot with me. They went to Prague with me, they were with me when I met my husband, and they have slogged through countless hours of law school with me. So no matter what people say about you, Uggs, I love you and your soft furry inside fur and will be wearing you for many years to come. You are definitely my favorite pair of shoes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A few thoughts...

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day. The sun came out and it seemed so much warmer. I took Paco on a walk and enjoyed the afternoon! The kitties enjoyed having the window slightly cracked so they could experience the fresh air as well.

Yesterday I went going to our locally owned grocery store to get my wine for this weekend. The grocery store has a huge liquor section so I thought they may have a certain kind of wine I wanted. My uncle gave David a bottle of wine for Christmas and we both loved it. We have a wine and cheese party coming up where everybody brings a bottle of wine and a pairing of cheese to go along with it. Everybody has to give a little speech about their type of wine and cheese so we all leave better informed about wine and cheese!

Anyway, I wanted to bring this Cabernet my uncle gave us and stood looking at the Cabernet section. The older gentleman working asked me if he could help and I asked them if they carried that kind of wine. He said that he had not heard of it, unfortunately. So I asked him if he could recommend a good but inexpensive Cabernet. He asked how much I wanted to spend and I said not really less than $10, but nothing too crazy (I didn't think that any of my friends would want this to be a very expensive party).

He went to the shelf and picked up a $16 bottle of wine and said that it was very good. He said, "Watch me!"

So then he goes to the checkout area and rings it up as $10! Then I was mortified because I actually needed two bottles and may look greedy but I said, "I'm really embarrassed but I need two!" and he said, "Oh go get another one!" and he rang that one up as $10 as well! I thanked him a lot and I told him about our wine party. He said that I'm should uncork the kind I got and let it sit for a while before we drink it.

What a nice act of kindness. It really brightened my day and made me happy that we frequently shop at the local store!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tasty salads for lunch

Working out is not only about exercising. You also much fuel your body with lots of nutrients to keep it healthy (okay, okay, and so you can lose weight!).

Eating well is more of a struggle for me now that I am married and living on my own. If I want cookies, I make them. If I want ice cream, I buy it. So, when I go to school, I always try to eat well and bring lots of raw veggies and (usually) some form of protein. So many people are under the misconception that eating well has to cost a lot of money. It does not! I wanted to share a few recipes that I use that (I think) are pretty good for you and for the wallet. The first I am sharing is the recipe for my school lunch salad.

School lunch salad:
- one carton of mixed greens ($4)
- one bag of spinach ($2)
- salmon (I get a bag for about $5, and usually cook two pieces for the week. Therefore, the bag usually lasts ms two weeks. An alternative is to buy individual pieces frozen at the grocery store, which I have seen for as low as $1-2.)
- green peppers (usually about $1 each)
- carrots ($2 for a bag of baby, less if you buy whole)
- sometimes tomatoes
- sometimes pecans
- olive oil ($7/month's supply)
- red wine vinegar ($3.50/month's supply)

I package the greens in one container, the veggies and salmon in another (Dice the veggies and add a half of a piece of cooked salmon to the mix), and my dressing in a third (small- that is sealed tightly!) container. When I get to school, I dump the veggies, salmon, and dressing in the green container and shake or stir everything. Yummy! You have a nice, healthy salad!

Dressing:
- 1 part olive oil
- 2 parts red wine vinegar
- seasoned salt to taste
- lemon pepper to taste
- a teaspoon of sugar

Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Cost per week:
$6 for greens
$4 for salmon
$5 for the green peppers
$2 for carrots
$2.62 for the dressing
Total: 19.62
Cost per day: $3.92

Ways to cut down on the cost:
- do not bring the protein or use beans from a can instead
- do not buy prepackaged salad greens, but buy salad heads
- cut out the green peppers and find an alternative vegetable, like celery

I think you could easily get this recipe down to around $3/day.

Tip: cut up your carrots and green peppers and cook your salmon on Sunday so your only prep during the week is putting the new salad into containers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Breckenridge tips

I wanted to write about our experiences with skiing in Colorado. Last year we went to Keystone and this year we went to Breck. I think that we all enjoyed Breck more than Keystone.

Breckenridge offers runs with varying skill levels. It has a lot of easy runs and some scary looking black diamonds that I did not try. The thing I enjoyed the most about Breck was their system of labeling runs. They had easy, which were pretty much flat, blues, which were still very manageable, black-blues, which were a bit more difficult, blacks, which were for experts, double blacks, and then expert only trails. This system makes it easier for people to distinguish what runs to take based on their skill level.

Another thing I loved about Breckenridge was the town. The town offered more shopping and fun restaurants than Keystone.

When we go to Colorado, David goes to vbro.com and books a condo. This is much cheaper for us than getting a hotel room and the condos usually come with a kitchen area where we can easily cook breakfast and lunch (we normally go out for supper, though--and remember that food from the grocery store there is about double than at home because of the fact that it is on a mountain). So far we have had very good experiences with our condos. This past time we went, though, we booked a condo that was frankly too small for our group. It said that it offered a pull-out couch and a blow-up mattress. We figured that this meant that there was actually ROOM for the blow-up mattress, which was something that was not safe to assume. We ended up having David and I sleep on the floor on the pull-out mattress, Ryan slept on the sofa with the cushions on, and Peter slept in the blow-up which deflated halfway through the night. Needless to say, we were not comfortable. So, if you are looking for comfort, be sure to get enough actual beds for everybody and don't count on having a blow-up mattress.

Last year we drove to Colorado and this year we flew. Going to Colorado is about a 13 or 14 hour drive for us from our house to Keystone. Flying took us about 8-10 hours door to door, since we also have to drive 2.5 hours to the airport. We also had to book a shuttle from the Denver airport to Breckenridge, which was another 2 hour shuttle ride. Personally, I do not like driving because I hate driving once we get into the Rockies. The weather conditions fluctuate very easily and you never know the conditions of the roads until you drive on them. However, I admit that I am a pretty cautious driver in general anyway. The year we drove we drove my car which is four doors but still pretty tiny. The poor car could barely handle going up the mountains and therefore I told David that I wanted to wait until we bought a bigger car or a SUV or something before we attempted driving again.

This year flying was nice but honestly it did not save any time. The shuttle service from the Denver airport to Breck was wonderful. Our driver called us as we landed and told us that he was ready to pick us up. He drove us to our condo and then was right on time going back to the airport. I loved it. The downside is that flying is, of course, way more expensive.

One more thing to remember when you go to ski in Colorado is altitude sickness. I experienced it last year and again this year. Oxygen is not as abundant that far up in the air, so just be prepared. This year I took a Tylenol, which helped a lot. I also drank a ton of water. Both years we went I have had trouble sleeping. This year I finally took some Tylenol PM which helped me fall asleep. I really do not like taking sleep aids but I figured that if the choice is to be tired and miserable versus taking a sleep aid 3 nights out of the year, I would take the sleep aid. It isn't worth ruining your vacation because you can't sleep.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Penne A La Betsy and Homemade Soft Pretzels

Happy Martin Luther King Day!!!

My cooking adventures last weekend ended on Sunday with Penne A La Betsy by Pioneer Woman. I did not really change her recipe, but it was delicious and good. We had a lot leftover for the next day's lunch and it was still tasty then.
Now for the pretzels. I used Smitten Kitchen's Soft Pretzel recipe. These were good, but I do not feel like mine turned out as well as they should have. First of all, I don't have a dough hook on my mixer (I have a little handheld thing), so I mixed the dough by hand. I really feel that as a result I did not mix it long enough and something happened with the consistency of the dough there.

Besides that, I decided to brush the pretzels with both butter and egg so there would be a nice buttery taste like in the pretzels. I should have just stuck with the butter, because the egg made them taste...eggy.

Overall, the recipe was tasty but I would try to make them when I have a dough hook.


Menu Monday

Monday: I'm making two things today so we have leftovers for the week. I am making enchiladas and a pot roast!
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: salmon
Friday: maybe scallops and a saladFinally, you can play a game and try to spot the cats in this picture. They were "hiding" from me because they are not supposed to be in the guest room but snuck in there one day.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Revising.

Usually I adore the editing and revising process. I love it! But this week I am reviewing the edits on my article that will be published in the law journal of which I am a part and it is highly tedious. I know that I should feel lucky to be published (I am! I am!), but having to click accept whenever an editor deleted a space after every single one of my periods is a little crazy.

For your viewing pleasure here is just a small sample of one page of my article. Now imagine the rest of this page and then multiply that one page by twenty.
Was it really that bad, guys?

All I can say is that after all of this work I totally plan to bring this up in daily conversation. Next time I need to make small talk in a bar or my local nursing home I'll go up to the nearest person and say, "So yeah, did you read my most recent article?"

I'm highly kidding. I wrote about a bird and how a court interpreted a treaty that protected it. I'm pretty sure that maybe only one other reader here would find that interesting (I'm looking at you, Rach).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fun Thing Friday: Lip Shimmer


I am now obsessed with this Burt's Bees lip product. I bought two different colors just this week! At $5 they are a great combination of lip stick, gloss, and balm. Not only do they make my lips nice and soft, they also give my lips a nice tinted color.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Let's all say a prayer for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. I first learned of Haiti when I went to a Christian bible school (Juanita, it was at your church!) where the charity of the week was the people of Haiti. 80% of the people there live below poverty level and the least we can do is send them prayers and good thoughts for a fast recovery.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

Every year David and I spar about Valentine's Day. I love Valentine's Day and think it is a really fun holiday. I know the arguments people come up with about how it was invented by Hallmark and blah blah blah but I love it. By now, you know that David does not enjoy spending money, so I bet you can guess his sentiments about the most sentimental holiday of the year.

Usually we go out on a little date--we go out to eat and enjoy being together, but this argument is in regards to presents. I love getting surprises and presents and David simply hates spending money on unnecessary things like that. Believe me, I'm not asking for something like a $1,000 necklace or anything. But the fact is that David just looks at giving presents as $20-$50 that could be in our savings account for our next house.

Last night we had our annual "discussion" about the subject. After prepping him mentally for a few weeks by mentioning that Valentine's Day lands on a Sunday, I said, "What are we going to do for Valentine's Day?"

"Hmm...go out to eat," he replied.

"Well, what about presents? Should we do presents this year?" I asked.

"Oh...hmmm....well I guess we could skip the date night and do presents, yes," he said.

You can see how this goes.

He suggested that we do Valentine's Day how he likes it one year and how I like it another year. That's fine, except for the fact that we have never gotten each other gifts in the 2.5 years we've been married, so this year would be my turn to pick and once he realized that he did not want to do that plan. We left it saying that we would think about it for a while.

Here is where my blog readers come into action. I want suggestions: what should we do about Valentine's Day? Is there some sort of compromise you can think of? My thought was maybe to have a cap on gifts but still surprise each other, like each person has $10-$20 to spend on the other person and they need to come up with a very thoughtful gift that the other person would love. Or I thought that maybe we could do five gifts for five days that cost about $1-$2 each for added fun. Or should we do something old fashioned and send each other love letters for a days before Valentine's Day? It would be great to reach a compromise and come up with a creative solution that caters to our two (differing) desires.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting back into the swing of things

I finally got my running shoes out yesterday and began running again. I took about a month and a half long hiatus because of the ski trip, finals, sickness, and I had pretty much gotten used to not exercising. Bad, bad, bad. I believe that my shoes had gathered cobwebs.

But yesterday I finally decided to run. My running was not helped by the fact that the streets and sidewalks were still covered in ice. I had to bundle up and pick my way through the icy patches on the street. We are supposed to experience warmer weather today and tomorrow, so maybe more of the snow would melt (nooooo! I love snow in the winter. It is the only thing that makes winter bearable!).

I pretty much lurch around, running for about 15 minutes at a time, but I figure that it is better than doing nothing and getting outside in the fresh air is really nice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The 31 Places to go in 2010

The New York Times released an article last week called "The 31 Places to Go in 2010". On the list? Breckenridge (I've already checked that off my list for 2010!), Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, and Antarctica.

You can find the article here.

After reading the article, I would pick the following five places:

1. Patagonia Wine Country: I adore wine and have always wanted to travel to Argentina.Source
2. Costa Rica: We seriously thought of traveling here in 2009, but decided against it in favor of going to Paris. I would still like to go sometime...Source
3. Istanbul: I've been fascinated by Istanbul after reading an article about it in the travel section of the newspaper when I was in high school. I should have gone when studying abroad in Prague because I was that much closer (I have regrets about not visiting Russia as well), but the trip will have to remain in one of my dream trip lists for a while.
Source
4. South Africa: South Africa is becoming a popular travel destination. Again, gorgeous scenery, beautiful oceans, and a wine country all call my name.5. Norway: The Scandinavian Countries have held my interest ever since I read the Kirsten American Girl books. Norway also sounds absolutely gorgeous.
So tell me, what would be your top five picks out of this article (dream picks, of course!)?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu Monday

Whew! We had a big weekend full of delicious cooking. I am so proud of David because he found out on Friday that he passed another actuary exam (his fifth)! Actuarial certification is a very long a grueling process, and arguably the hardest professional certification to attain. While working he has to practically teach himself a graduate level course in math in the evenings and on the weekends. This works out really well for us while I'm in law school because I also study in the evenings and on the weekends, and I wonder how it will all work out when I finally graduate.

Anyway, as you saw, I did a lot of cooking this weekend to celebrate. I tried to think of dishes that David would enjoy (except for the hot soft pretzels, I knew he would not choose that but I wanted to try them).

I wanted to share the recipes but since I made four big recipes I thought I would split them into two posts. So, this week I am giving you the recipe for buffalo chicken nachos and my version of the Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich.
Buffalo Nachos

Ingredients:
- tortilla chips
- buffalo sauce
- cheese of your choice (we used Tostitos cheese, but you could use real cheese)
- either cooked sausage or cooked chicken (we tried it with both and liked both)
- one tomato
- one green pepper
- fresh cilantro
- onion (I used green onion)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Find a baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with tortilla chips (make as many or as little as you want). Coat them with as much buffalo sauce as you can stand (I bought mild flavor so could use a lot). Add cheese to the mixture and mix the chips, cheese, and buffalo sauce around so you can coat all of the chips. Spread the chips so they cover the bottom of the pan again. Add the meat on top of the coated chips.

Dice the onion, tomato, green pepper, and cilantro and then distribute them evenly over top the chips.

Cook the pan of chips at 350 for about 10 minutes. I placed the pan on the top rack of my oven. Cook more or less according to taste.

We LOVED these nachos. They were so delicious and the buffalo sauce really adds to the flavor. The total cost of the meal is about this:
- chips: $2.00
- cheese: $3.50
- buffalo sauce: $2.50 (I had this already though)
- green pepper: $.88
- I had chicken on hand, and you can find sausage for $2.50 at our store
- tomato: $1
- onion: $.40 (I found some on sale!)
- cilantro:$1.00
Total: $13.78
We got four servings out of the main ingredients (the chips, cheese, sauce, and sausage), so really per pan it was about $6.
My version of the Marlboro Man Sandwich

Again, I used Pioneer Woman's recipe. Here is how I changed it.
First of all, I used flank steak. Next time I need to find a different steak that is less tough, although we did buy it tenderized. Next, I used WAY less butter than what she calls for in the recipe. I used about a tablespoon when frying the meat and I used about half a tablespoon when frying the onions (and I also added more olive oil).

Here is where I messed up big time: Pioneer Woman practically fries her bread in order to make it toasty so that the sauce doesn't make the bread soggy. I didn't want to use so much butter on the bread, though, so I just spread a little bit of melted butter and olive oil (I just used what had melted for frying my onions) on the bread and baked it in the oven so it would toast. This, however, caused the entire bread to toast and so the bread was too hard to eat because it was so toasty. Next time I will try just toasting it in my skillet by putting the heat on low-medium and again spreading the bread with olive oil. Then I will place the bread with the inside cut part facing the heated pan and watch it closely so that it does not burn.

We both LOVED this sandwich and thought it was really very tasty. We also saved the ingredients for lunch the next day so we got two meals out of it. Here was the cost:
Meat: $7.50
Bread: $2.41
Sauce: $3.50
Butter: $.50
Onion: $.40

Total: $14.31
Each meal: $7.15
Each serving: $3.57

Finally, here is Menu Monday!
Monday: chicken and artichoke and tomato spaghetti
Tuesday: salads
Wednesday: leftover pasta
Thursday: I may try shrimp kabobs
Friday: leftovers/popcorn

Sunday, January 10, 2010

White Light White Heat

This week the weather got bitterly cold around our area. On Wednesday evening David had to stay out of town and my parents stayed with me at my house.

On Thursday morning I woke up in my bed under a duvet, a quilt, and a sheet. I was shivering cold. I thought that I was just cold because David was not in bed with me keeping me warm. Now, David and I do not keep our heat up very high in order to reduce our heating bill. This works out because we both grew up in households that did not really believe in keeping the heat up very high. We generally keep it set to 68 degrees, but Thursday morning I was extra cold. I kept laying under the covers, hoping to get warm when I finally decided to get up and check the heat. I went over to it and saw that our house was 57 degrees.

Knowing that sometimes my parents and I get confused by the new-fangled digital thermometer in my house (I have an old dial one in my parents' house), I inspected the setting and realized that we had not in fact accidentally turned it down or the like (there was one incident involving an air conditioner set at 38 degrees one hot summer evening, but we do not need to mention that). Our heat was officially broken. So I did the most logical thing and called my husband, who was fully unable to do anything about the situation since he was not in town.

"David!!!" I bellowed, "our heat isn't working!!!!! Ahhhh!"

He immediately replied, "Okay, but did you turn it on air conditioning?" That was kind of insulting.

By this time my mother had appeared in the living room and I saw her peering at the heater. Apparently she had awakened from her slumber and was freezing cold. She thought the worst and figured that we just set our heat that low and that she would have to suffer in silence since it would be impolite for her to demand that we turn up the heat. She was more than relieved when I told her that the heat was broken.

We then looked at Paco and noticed that the poor pup was shivering and shaking. This is where I give myself license to gloat a little. You see, a few years back I bought Paco a little red doggie coat. David got really nervous at the time, saying that the doggie coat was a useless purchase and that I should have not bought it. He went on and on, rolling his eyes whenever I put Paco in it for fun. Well, guess what? It came in pretty handy when Paco reused to lay under blankets but found comfort in his red doggie coat. As soon as I put it on he stopped shivering and was his good old self once again.

I decided to go in our garage and inspect our heater. I figured that I may as well go out and take a gander at the problem to see if it was something obvious. The only problem with this was that I forgot that I know nothing about heaters and the only thing that I would have been able to find wrong was if the heater were suddenly missing. I was reminded of this fact when I found myself in the utility room staring at a large brown box. I know nothing about heaters and probably could not really tell you if it were powered on. Needless to say, that endeavor was extremely fruitless except that it caused David's blood pressure to skyrocket because I was on the phone with him at the time. I'm sure he was thinking that I would do something not-so-smart like try my hand at fixing the thing and then end up breaking it and setting it to air conditioning mode.

By this time both of my parents were awake and we decided to turn on a space heater and the oven with the oven door open, which made David even more nervous from afar since he 1. hates wasting oven heat and 2. hates the concept of space heaters (he usually tells me to add another sweatshirt).

By this time a repairman was able to come to our house and apparently the ignition coil went out during the night. He said that these coils are like light bulbs and they can go out at any time without much warning, and ours happened to go out on something like the second coldest night of the year. Luckily we got everything fixed and under control within a couple of hours, but the experience was certainly an adventure.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The weekend of cooking

I am finally finished with my trial practice class. It went pretty well, and I am really happy I took it during the intersession, but it was a long week. We started on Monday at 1:30, had class every day at 8:30, 1:30, and 6:30, and in between we had to prepare our arguments and write our questions for at least 7-10 minutes of public speaking for each class. (If you have ever prepared a speech you know that 7-10 minutes is not super long but requires a lot of preparation.) I really enjoyed the class and feel like it was an overall good experience. Several lawyers from around the state came and gave us pointers in trial work. I am very interested in being in the courtroom so I enjoyed the experience.

Now that the class is over I am in a cooking mood. Yesterday I told David that I wanted to cook the following this weekend:
1. Buffalo Chicken Nachos
2. Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich
3. Pioneer Woman's Penne a la Betsy
4. Smitten Kitchen's Soft Pretzels
5. Toffee Cookies

He got very excited. It is really too cold to move around here, so we are hunkering down for a relaxing weekend full of delicious eats and movies. I hope you have a great weekend!!!!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Fun thing Friday: Nivea

Source

I love Nivea Creme in the cold weather. It is an awesome moisturizer that I use around my nose and face during the harsh winter months. We used it on the ski trip this year and I did not have issues with dry skin even though my face was exposed! Plus a small tub of the stuff is only about $1.00!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A new blog

My husband decided to become a blogger again! He has actually been blogging for a few months about the books he reads and listens to on books on tape (he loves books). But now he has also added commentary on economic tidbits AND books. He loves economics and I find his comments pretty interesting. He does a lot of research on the subject.

Anyway, here is his blog:

This Is Only Palaver

You should add him to your daily reading!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Running in 2010

My running has been nonexistent for the past few weeks, and I won't run this week because of my class. What a slump! My goal of running another half marathon is not going so well thus far. Once I get out of this class I need to develop a workout plan for cold weather. Too often I just do not exercise in the winter because it is too cold, and I hate going to the gym to work out on an elliptical or the like because I don't like people watching me.

So, do you have any tips for good workouts in the cold?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Travel Tuesday

Every Tuesday I am going to try to write about traveling. I love to travel and while I do not believe that I am in any way a seasoned traveler, I wanted to write about my experiences so that I can remember tips I think of on trips and also have a venue where I can write about our trips. So many travel blogs either cater to those who are traveling on the way cheap (i.e. backpacking) or who are traveling with a ton of money. I also want to write about my fantasy trips.

My first post is about Colorado! We just arrived home from our latest ski trip, which we took with my brother and David's brother. We had a great time and went to Breckenridge, Colorado. We went to Keystone last year and all agreed that we enjoyed Breckenridge better.


Here are some pictures from our trip. I will write more about it next week!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Menu Monday

My Menu Monday is really pathetic this week. I have an intersession class this week that takes up my time from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. every day, so basically I will not be cooking. Last night I made a quick batch of lasagna so we would have something for lunches. David may make some chicken this evening, but other than that we won't have anything else.

This week I am going to share my recipe for Beer Bread. Beer Bread was one of my favorite things growing up, and my grandma and my father often made it for a quick bread recipe. This is literally the easiest bread one can make. Generally, I like it a lot right out of the oven, but it goes downhill after being leftover for a while. Therefore, I think that it is extra good to make for company where it will be eaten quickly when it is hot.

Here is the recipe. I got a recipe book for a shower. Everybody at the shower brought a recipe for me to put in the book and I LOVE it. Here you can see my dad's handwriting on the card:


Beer Bread
One can of beer
3 cups of flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon of salt (I use Kosher)
3 teaspoons of baking powder
appx. 2-3 tablespoons of butter

Sift the flour in a bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and baking powder. Form a well and add the beer all at once. Stir with a fork. Put the mixture in a greased bread pan (I use butter) and melt your butter. Pour the butter on top of the mixture. Bake at 350 for appx. 1 hour. Yum!

2010 Posting Schedule

That Wife created a posting schedule for the new year and I really like the idea. I love posting daily and lately I've been thinking about my blog and what I want to get out of it. Do I want a fun blog? A newsy blog?

I have determined that I like my blog being a record of my life, kind of like a diary. I love that I can look back in my archives and read about what I was doing two years ago. However, I also want to focus on things I enjoy rather than just having my blog be a record of our daily lives.

So, I am going to try to implement a posting schedule. Here it is:

Monday: Menu Monday/recipes
Tuesday: Travel Tuesday
Wednesday: Running
Thursday: misc.
Friday: Fun thing Friday
Saturday: misc.
Sunday: misc.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Here are my resolutions:

1. To run another half marathon (and maybe two) while continuing to race and improve my running
2. To continue my path on eating healthy foods
3. To perfect our family budget to maximize saving and minimize spending
4. Finish David's birthday painting that I began in July (oops)

What are some of your resolutions?

Don't forget to eat your black eyed peas today!