Friday, February 26, 2010

Project 365, week 8

Week in pictures February 20-26
Best buddies
Finis
(Outlander is missing because I loaned it to Julie)

Me & my KitchenAid 

In the middle of the parking lot
"These ski boots sure do take up a lot of space"

Happy little tea cups

Fortifications against Man Cold





Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lest I forget my opinions...

Ya. Like that's really going to happen. I have a stellar memory and can tell you my thoughts on books I read ten years ago. (However, being anesthetized twice in six weeks time is hard on a girl's short term memory. It took a little while to get that back.)

But I do need to move along with the book reviews and not let them pile up. Since we're approaching the end of February I figured I needed to sum up what I read this month.

I didn't read nearly as much this month. That was intentional. I am still moving along in The Chronicles of Narnia, but for a large part of the month I put everything aside to read An Echo in the Bone; the most recent novel in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Since there isn't another book after this one (yet) I wanted to take my time and savor the story.

If you haven't read the series I highly recommend it.

What can I say about this most recent book though?

I enjoyed it very much. I always do like the books in the Outlander series. This one was a little slow going in the first half. I got a little impatient wanting her to move along in the story. The further she has taken us into this world the more characters we've been introduced to and several of them are central to the story. So I can see now how it was necessary to lay down some plot lines. It just took a little longer than I would have liked.

The ending of this book though. Holy crap! There is a huge cliffhanger at the end and several other small ones to go along with it. Each book leaves a little to the imagination at the end because it's an ongoing story. We'll never get all the answers until she writes the final book, but oh my goodness! After I finished earlier this week I kind of regretted reading it. Not because it was bad, but because it takes her several years to write these novels and now I have to wait to find out what happens. I was perfectly happy with the resolutions at the end of the book before this, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. I would have been fine waiting a few years after that one, but now the suspense is killing me. And there isn't a thing I can do about it.

Why Diana Gabaldon, why?

All that aside, if you like historical fiction this is the series for you. Go check it out and if you don't like to be kept waiting for answers don't read An Echo in the Bone until she publishes the next book.

If you're keeping track of my "to be read" list in the side bar you've notice that I removed several books from the list. More specifically, I removed all of the Janet Evanovich books. Because I just can't make myself read them.

Last year after the accident some of Andy's internet friends were very kind and sent me a gift to help get me through those longs days stuck on the sofa. They sent me two cookbooks and two compilation books containing the first six novels in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.

I adore the cookbooks. I love any cookbook, but they really chose well. I've used them both multiple times and have almost all the recipes on my "to cook" list.

The medication I was on at the time was so strong I wasn't really able to focus long enough to read much of anything, especially a novel. Reading just made me sleepy, so it was several weeks before I pulled out the Evanovich books and tried to dig in. I only made it to chapter two of the first book. I had rolled my eyes so much in the first chapter I thought they were going to get stuck in the back of my head. Basically these books are guilty pleasure books. They are easy reads and don't challenge your brain too much while you're reading. Now, don't get me wrong. I certainly have my fair share of guilty pleasures (hello Twilight series), but I just couldn't seem to get into these books. I didn't care what happened to the characters at all, and in my opinion you kind of need to in order to enjoy the story.

And even now, almost a year later, I found myself passing them up for anything else I could get my hands on. So they're on the back burner. I feel bad just giving them away, because it was such a sweet gesture from people that don't know me at all, but I'm not going to make myself read them. At least not right now. I might try again another time. We'll see.

Lastly, I've also been reading French Women Don't get Fat by Mireille Guilliano. No, I haven't finished it, but I wanted to include a partial review here now, and a full review later on.

This is a diet book, in the sense that it's about losing weight. But it is also a non-diet book because it isn't a fad. It doesn't offer any kind of  strict eating plan. I like that because each person is different and I just don't believe in fad diets and the idea that everyone will achieve lasting results with them. I don't really think anyone achieves lasting results with a fad diet.

Also, I am not a dieter. I never had been, because I haven't really needed to be. (Please don't throw tomatoes at your screen. That will only make a mess.)

I have been blessed with a petite frame and I've never been overweight, but I have a raging sweet tooth and my metabolism isn't what it used to be. I can't just eat a whole pie by myself anymore. Well, I can, but the pie stubbornly attaches itself to my midsection now and refuses to let go.

Another reason I don't diet is because I don't like denying myself the things I love. I've never understood people passing on dessert or a piece of bread if they want it. Have some! Life it too short! I know people say that all the time, but I learned that lesson the hard way a year ago and I'll be damned if I'm going to let fat content keep me from a slice of cake if I want it.

How does this all figure in with a diet book? It fits because this book epitomizes my food philosophy. The whole point of the book is to help you learn how to enjoy all food (not just dessert) and use it to your advantage. It talks about making meals an event from the way you prepare a meal to how you serve it to how you consume it. Food preparation and consumption are on my list of "top five things I most like to do" so this book is pretty much right up my alley.

But what is a review of a diet book unless you actually put the book's principles to practice? That is exactly what I am in the middle of doing. So in a few months I will revisit this book and let you know how it all works out for me.

What I'm reading next: I haven't decided yet.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Always be prepared"

This afternoon Andy decided it was time to pack his suitcase for his upcoming ski trip.

He leaves March 7.

If you look in my sidebar you'll see that I spent a little time on twitter making fun of  him. Mostly because he asked me to be his "assistant" and mark things off his hand written list as he packed them.

He wasn't really packing two weeks in advance. The purpose of this preliminary packing was so he could go weigh his suitcase to make sure it meets the weight requirement for checked baggage at the airport.

He's trying to save money. I appreciate that.

So while I spent some time teasing him I applaud his efforts and it really wasn't something that deserved a whole blog post.

Twitter was sufficient to let the world know about  his neurotic preparation for this trip.

He got everything in the suitcase and then left to weigh it. Before he left he asked to have  his list and said that he was going to compare packing notes with one of his travel partners to make sure they weren't forgetting anything.

And still I didn't feel the need to make fun of him on my blog. Twitter was still enough.

Then he came home and presented me with this:


In his words: The Official Packing Check List

He finally reached blog post status.

I'm sure as the date approaches the madness will continue.

Sometimes he takes being an Eagle scout very seriously.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Food for thought

In 2003 for fall break my girlfriends and I drove up to Virginia to visit another girlfriend. She lived in Richmond and one afternoon we went up to Washington, DC to do touristy things and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage.

We weren't planning to eat a meal in the city so we took bottled water and some snacks. Close to sunset we decided we were hungry for real food and we didn't really want to walk around in the dark so we started to head back to the Metro station.

On our way we passed a man who looked pretty shabby. He was looking into one of the trash cans in the park we were in. I don't remember that he acknowledged us at all. We just passed him and went about our way.

A few seconds later my friend Shannon stopped us. She asked us all to give her the snacks and bottled water we had left. Then she turned around and walked back to the man digging into the trash can and gave him what we had.

It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen another person do. I don't know if any of my friends know this, but I teared up watching her that day, and I still get misty thinking about it.

Ever since that day I've made it a point to do the same selfless kind of thing.

Then today happened. I was walking out of the mall to my car and I heard someone call to me from across the parking lot, "Hello ma'am." I turned and there was a scruffy looking guy walking towards me.

I panicked, jumped into my car and locked the doors. He didn't stop his advance and I'm pretty sure he said something to me like, "I don't mean you any harm." But my instincts took over and I couldn't make myself react any other way.

He also kept walking towards me when he saw that I was upset and that just made me panic worse. He came up to my window and told me he was homeless and asked for some change. I didn't have any change or cash or food or water. I told him so and he said ok and walked away.

And then I felt horrible.

I realize that keeping myself safe is important and many women in the same position wouldn't have done anything differently.

But I can't stop thinking about how my reaction made him feel.

Common sense would say that he shouldn't have walked up to a woman alone in a parking lot with no one around. But when you're cold and hungry I imagine that common sense doesn't play a big part in your decisions.

This is what society is though. You never know when that person isn't really homeless and they want something besides change or a little food. Knowing this makes me sad and a little frightened.

I don't regret that I protect myself.

I do regret not doing something to help.

It started snowing a couple hours ago and it's supposed to keep going the next few days.

I hope he finds some warmth.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Y'all, I was internet-less for TWO DAYS!

OH! MY! HOLY! CRAP!

TWO! DAYS!

I'll stop screaming now.

The truth? It really wasn't that bad. ::gasp::

I read a lot and the whole "being without internet" thing didn't start to bother me until last night when I finished my current book. Pretty good for an addict.

Why did it go out? I really don't know. Friday it worked fine. Saturday morning it didn't. We tried to call, but apparently our internet provider doesn't work on the weekends. Not even the 24 hour customer service number.

But then this morning everything was a-okay. So whatever. No big deal.

I did spend over three hours this  morning getting caught up on everything. Blogs, the nest, facebook, email, twitter. Well, not twitter. If I walk away from twitter for more than two hours I have no idea what the hell is going on, so trying to catch up for the last two days? Not going to happen. If something important happened while I was gone you can re-tweet it. I'd be much obliged.

Other than internet loss it was a fairly calm weekend. Andy is getting ready to go on a ski trip. It seems like when he is going out of town, even for a small time, we spend a lot of energy getting ready for his departure and absence. 


I have some book reviews to update you on. One of them is a non-diet diet book. <---Oxymoron

Also, we're loving the Olympics. Watching ice dancing with Andy is possibly the most entertaining thing ever. (As opposed to watching it alone.) Neither of us really understands what constitutes a good routine. Last night these are some of the things that Andy said during the competition:

"I mean. I don't know about the judges, but I think that was pretty alright."

"The audience seems to enjoy it. I guess that's a good thing."

"They seem to spend a lot of time touching each other in inappropriate places." <--- my favorite

So that about wraps it up folks.

Oh wait! It rained last night! Rain! So the giant snow drift at our door has melted down to a perfectly reasonable and manageable pile. Just in time for it to snow again Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. My feelings on the snow are currently undetermined. I'll update you.

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Project 365, week 7

Week in pictures - February 13-19

A big bowl of goodness

The Hulk has a growth. Please pray for him.

Bronze!!!!!

Snowed in. Litteraly.

Confession: Our Christmas tree is still on our porch

Resourcefulness at its finest

Who says we don't have sky scrapers in the mountains?
Also, hello blue sky. We've missed you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Icky

I had every intention of putting up a real post today. Promise.

Then I had a lunch date. So I went out.

I haven't been out in a week.

This is what I see when I open the door.


So I decided to be brave and go out to join society again.

But The Hulk got stuck a little bit. Andy and Magnum had to come rescue us. Magnum didn't help, he just brought Andy over to rescue me and The Hulk. (Yes, I do pretend our cars are real people.)

Anyway, we weren't really stuck I just didn't have the kahones it took to get The Hulk up and over the giant pile of snow.

It was nice to be in town. I made sure to savor my time. I took a back road wile I was there. Possibly the worst decision I've made in a long time. I won't do that again.

And now I'm home and instead of writing a real post I'm babbling because I kind of don't feel great. I told Andy that, but I couldn't really describe what was wrong. The word that best describes how I feel is icky. Which makes me laugh because ick is the disease that fish get. I'm not a fish. If you have a fish and it has little white things on it I'm sorry to say your fish has ick.

Look at me handing out more useful information. I can't seem to stop that lately.

Anyway, that's why I don't have any real content to offer today. I'm icky. So now I'm going to go lay on the sofa with a book, and hope the ick doesn't turn into sick.

But first here are some more pictures of outside my door.

My flag can't fly anymore because...



This giant snow drift is in the way. It's at least three feet up the side of the building.


Fish ick is white. So is snow. I have ick.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Because I know you were all dying to know...

First of all let me say, you're welcome.

Because I'm about to bestow some seriously important knowledge upon you.

And because I'm so freakin' bored I'm willing to completely embarrass myself for your entertainment.

Secondly, they say that you are your own worst critic. I don't know who "they" is, but in this scenario "you" is me. So I won't even begin to point out all the things wrong in the following videos.

Also, I talk with my hands. Deal with it.

Here you go. Enjoy.

video

Triangle? Hello Joanna, that's a rectangle. Basic Geometry.

(FYI: The laughter you heard at the end is coming from next door. They are that loud all the time, and they have missed A LOT of school lately.)

Just in case you didn't get your fill, here's another:

video

Go forth and spread the towel folding joy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Soul Food

There is just something about music that speaks to my soul. I love to sing and dance. Some of my CD's have been played so often they won't play at all anymore.

The last few years I've been slack about keeping up with new music. I've just been sticking with my old favorites. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Right?

A big part of that is because I've been refusing to move forward with the rest of the world and embrace audio files and MP3 players. I've have an iPod for over a year now and mostly I just use it for running. That's a pretty expensive running accessory.

It makes me sad that I once loved music as much as a new pair of shoes and I haven't been treating my old friend with the respect it deserves. But all that is about to change.

I've been looking through my old CDs lately. I have a lot of them. Being a pack rat isn't usually a habit of mine, but I have a hard time getting rid of music.

A big part of my collection is comprised of soundtracks. One of my reason's for not embracing audio downloads is because I said that I liked having the whole album, but a soundtrack isn't a whole album by one artist. I have so many because a soundtrack is a collection of songs by several artist. They give you the best of something without having all the duds (or filler songs).

Isn't that exactly what audio files do? Allow you only to purchase the songs that you want without all the other crap? Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner.

So today I decided to embrace the new musical culture. I've had an iTunes gift card laying around for almost a year now (Hi Julie! Thanks!), and today I finally spent it. I had my list of music all prepared. Each song by a different artist. I ended up buying two whole albums, but they were on sale. Baby steps people.

Also in honor of my foray into discovering new music I created a play list for this blog. There are some older songs on there, ok a lot of older songs, but it's a start as they aren't all by the same artist. Also, I'm a die hard Dixie Chicks fan. I'll do my best not to inundate you with all Dixie Chicks all the time.

So if you haven't already go ahead and turn on your speakers. The music should play automatically, but if it doesn't scroll down to the bottom of the screen so the player will load. I don't know how to fix this problem, but I don't think it's blogger's fault.

The first song on the list is my current obsession. I'm in love with it.

What are some of your favorite artists/songs? I'm always open to suggestions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Insert sappy Valentine's Day related title here

Ahem.

Andy and I don't celebrate Valentine's day. We never have. With the exception of our first Valentine's day, which was a complete and total bust. These last couple days I had planned on coming here to tell you our tale of woe from these nearly ten years past.


And then yesterday happened.

Our V-day conversation:

Him: Tomorrow is Valentine's day


Me: Yep


Him: Happy Valentine's day


Me: Happy Valentine's day to you


Him: But we've never celebrated Valentine's day


Me: No we haven't. Did you want to start?


Him: I just think it's strange that you don't want to. Most girls like that kind of thing. (sidebar: I'm still a "girl")


Me: Well you haven't ever bought me chocolates or anything. I'm always up for some chocolate.


Him: You don't know. Maybe I bought you some this year.


Me: Um ok. 

And the conversation continued a little further after that. I started to argue debate the issue because that is what I do and he decided he didn't want to talk about it anymore.

The point is, I got the distinct feeling that Andy did want to celebrate Valentine's day. He isn't the sappy sort, so I've always thought he was perfectly happy with our arrangement.

We don't completely ignore the day. Sometimes we do cards. We always tell each other "Happy Valentine's Day" and give some extra hugs and kisses. Usually we'll have dinner at home or I'll cook a big breakfast if Andy isn't working. We don't eat out on V-day. Neither of us like crowds or having to wait in a long line to be seated and served mediocre food. Cooking together is something we've always enjoyed and you can't get more intimate than just the two of us at home.

Also, I love cheesy "greeting card" holidays. I love any holiday and I'm a seasonal decorator. Nothing would please me more than to make our apartment look like Valentine's day threw up on it. But Andy doesn't get into it much, so I only do a couple little things. When we have kids that will certainly be different, but until then I'm not going to go whole hog. I do it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Andy would just make fun of me and my excessive decorations if I did it all the time. Or that's what I thought until yesterday.

After ten years I didn't think it was possible that he could still surprise me with something like this. But he did, and I love him for it.



So, I'm going to go make a sappy, lovey dovey card for my valentine.

I hope you all have a wonderful day. And tell someone you love them today.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What we did during the blizzard

Went to a friend's house for pot luck night.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Project 365, week 6

Week in pictures, February 6-12

Bath time (aka, torture)

An evening well spent

Storm supplies

Fog

Barricade

Pleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease!

Pining for the pavement

























P.S. See how dirty that window is there? That's from the salt spray the cars kick up when they drive past. By the time we clean it off in April you will barely be able to see light through the window.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The blizzard is here

It arrived late last night. I'm not sure how much snow has fallen because it's all been blown around so much. How can you measure that?

The wind is blowing so hard this is what it looks like inside our storm door.


Yeah.

So I'm staying in my pajamas today (until tonight when we go out for the old person's potluck).

This morning I made cinnamon rolls for us to enjoy. It seemed like an appropriate blizzard day breakfast.

I haven't made a tube of cinnamon rolls in years. Because I like to bake so much and have a serious love affair with yeast I usually make my cinnamon rolls from scratch. For some reason earlier this week though, I was overcome with nostalgia for the cinnamon rolls of my childhood.

And I bought two tubes.

When I was a little girl we ate a lot of cinnamon rolls. It was something easy and delicious and on weekends cinnamon rolls were just the ticket!

There is nothing like the smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning. Or any morning really. It makes me feel like a little girl again.

My brother and I used to fight over who got the one in the center of the pan. Because everyone knows that the one in the center is the best. All the icing melts down and puddles around the roll in the center. It's heaven.


So now that I'm an adult I've gotten over that and realized that the icing isn't the only good thing about cinnamon rolls. Right?

Who am I kidding? Of course the icing is the best part.

So, this morning,  I iced our rolls with the tittle tub that came with the package.

Then I whipped up some extra and suffocated them with icing. And Andy always lets me have the one in the center. Because he loves me. (Or because I whine about wanting the one in the center, either way.)

Bliss.


If you want some extra icing for your cinnamon rolls this is what you need:


3 oz pkg cream cheese (softened)
1/2 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat until well combined.


These are the bare necessities. You can also add in some vanilla extract or maple flavoring or even a little orange zest. Go crazy. Also, this makes enough icing for two cans (maybe even three) of cinnamon rolls. 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just a regular Tuesday

So far today:

  • Woke up and let the bunnies out of their cage
  • Chased Milton out of the bedroom
  • Saw the mess Andy left in the kitchen this morning
  • Died a little inside and walked away
  • Realized the bunnies were out of EVERYTHING
  • Played on the internet
  • Had a shower
  • Helped Andy find some lunch
  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Checked the weather forecast to determine my time frame for going out
  • Drove to town to get bunny supplies
  • Walmart, Holy Cow! 
  • Found out that wine and beer are NOT cheaper at Walmart
  • Found the cutest ever St. Patty's day hats for the bunnies
  • Drove home
  • Stopped into the ski shop to say hello
  • Told Andy I didn't want to cook dinner
  • Felt guilty that I haven't really done anything all day
  • Felt guilty that I told Andy I wasn't going to cook
  • Made a plan for dinner that didn't involve take out
What I plan on doing the rest of the day:

  • Read
  • Cook dinner and then eat it
  • Watch the snow fall (if it ever starts. Come on snow!)
  • Watch three hours of The Office on TBS
  • Welcome Andy home 
  • Read some more
  • Go to bed
It makes me feel so much more productive to have it all out there and in a bullet point list.

Kind of a lame day, but sometimes lame is good.

On the agenda tomorrow: The second monthly "Old Person Pot Luck" & this time we didn't invite any young'uns.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Hulk misses his garage

This is what the snowman-o-meter looks like on Ray's Weather right now:

 

I honestly don't remember the last time the snowman-o-meter said that. I'm talking years people. 
Despite all the winter weather we've gotten already and the fact that I can't see ANY grass outside even though it hasn't snowed since Saturday, I'm excited. Like a little girl. Bring it!

(In case you're wondering about the title of this post - we had a one car garage in our first apartment and The Hulk lived in it because we didn't drive him very much. He lived a life of luxury for a while.)

A heart of gratitude

Follow the linky for your daily dose of puppies and sunshine.

It's a new week! Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Simple & delicious

These last couple weeks Andy and I have been enjoying really big breakfasts together. I'm talking a feast - eggs, bacon or sausage or liver mush (sometimes two of these), biscuits, hash browns, pancakes. The list could go on.

It's been wonderful. Breakfast food is among some of our favorites and it's so easy to whip up, but this morning I needed something different; something less heavy. So I made a smoothie.

I've been meaning to share my smoothie recipe for a while now and I finally remembered to snap a few pictures while I was whipping up this morning's concoction.

Joanna's Fruit Smoothie

You'll need:

Milk
Plain Yogurt
A Banana (frozen)
Frozen Fruit (whatever you like)
Honey
And a blender, of course

I like to use my measuring cups to make the smoothie. I don't really measure anything (so to speak) because I generally just use "equal parts" of ingredients in this recipe. The measuring cups just help me know I'm using about the same amount of each ingredient. I use the 1/4 or 1/3 cup measure, whichever is clean.

Into the blender:

The banana (I like to slice my bananas and freeze them in individual baggies so I can just pull one out when I need it. You don't have to freeze them. I do it because it makes the smoothie thicker). Next put in two scoops of yogurt and two scoopfuls of milk. Put in some frozen fruit. However much you would like. For this one I used one scoopful of blueberries and two scoops of strawberries. Lastly, drizzle in some honey. Enough to make you happy, but don't go too crazy. This is a fruit smoothie, not a fruit and honey smoothie.


Pulse a few times until it's all blended together. Sometimes the honey likes to stick to the sides of the blender. So check all around to make sure you don't have any rogue honey. Go ahead and scrape down the pitcher if you need to. Pulse a couple more times. Taste it to make sure it's how you like it. Add more milk if it's too thick; more fruit or honey until it's just right. Pour it into a glass and enjoy!
I like to experiment with fruit combinations. So far my favorite is mango with a few cranberries thrown in. No kidding. It's delicious. Trust me. This recipe will easily serve two as a side or beverage for breakfast. But I have no trouble drinking the whole thing myself in the mornings. It also makes an excellent snack or post workout treat.
So, whip up some pancakes with your live muffin and enjoy them with a smoothie. Or keep it all for yourself and let everyone else fend for themselves, which is exactly what I did today.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Project 365, week 5

Week in pictures, January 30 - February 5

Highland Mocha Stout

Reflections

I think I'll burn this

Home from work. Sleepy, hungry & grumpy

Half pint

Snow, Snow, Snow, etc

Siren