30 July 2010

Friday Fives: Question Time!

We're back with Just Me and My Life to answer a few random questions! Just a heads-up, although I am a low-discloser when it comes to my life, I am a good question-answerer. Ask Husby, he caught on during the first date. Let's get to the questions!

If you could be on a show, which one would you pick?

For sure a cooking show. Sometimes when I'm cooking at home, and I know that know one is around, I have a cooking show in my kitchen. I pretend that there's a camera and talk to it. We go over step-by-step instructions for a recipe. I even take commercial breaks and give directions before we go to "break." Ha! I'm silly. I know.

What was your first job?

As a child of a business owner, I was forced into child labor at 10. I waited tables at our restaurant. I'm sure I was fabulous! My first paying job was babysitting two sweet kids during the summer in high school. I loved it!

What's one of your guilty pleasures?

Staying in my pajamas, doing nothing on a day off. 

Would you ever vacation alone?

No. Let me give you two reasons.
1. I like sharing experiences with people.
2. I don't even like sleeping at my house alone. I'm way too paranoid to go off by myself.

What's your political affilation?
Democrat, republican, independent?

My beliefs probably most line up with the Republican party, but I'm not happy with the way anyone is running things in Washington. I say we start to vote in lots of new people who support the Constitution.

28 July 2010

Honeymoon Highlights: Prison Visit

Catchy title, huh?! Husby and I are on our way to Alcatraz. It was a must-do for our honeymoon in San Francisco. Even better was that we scored tickets for the NIGHT TOUR OF ALCATRAZ. You can see the beautiful golden sunset behind us on the boat ride to the island. (It's the namesake for the Golden Gate Bridge.)

Truthfully, I expected a night visit to Alcatraz to be a tad more spooky. But somehow being with 200 other people makes for a less scary event. Well, if you don't count the boat ride over and back. Then if you catastrophize like I do, you come up with a headline about a boat capsizing on the 10 minute ride to Alcatraz.

That being said, it's not a place I'd like to live permanently. It's enough to keep me out of prison. Well, that and the Lord. Alcatraz is definitely a barren place. Some of the stories are quite remarkable. The most known is the escape of three prisoners that were never caught. I've heard they were meals for some sharks, but did you know that there aren't man-eating sharks inside San Francisco Bay? It was a myth made up by prison guards to keep the guys from escaping. Now, if you swim far enough out, you're likely to become a snack to a shark that was waiting for a seal to leave Pier 59.

Here are a few peeks inside Alcatraz:

Prisoner Check-in

Corner of the Cell Blocks

Husby in Solitary :)

The Key on a Pulley System

Windows facing San Francisco Bay.
Prisoners could hear parties on New Years.

27 July 2010

On My Reading List

I'm steadily working my way through the dozen books I need to read to match last years number of completed books. My most recent reads are A Little Bit Wicked (hilarious!)  and A New Song (part of the Mitford series).

Up next is a book that always seems to make the cut as a favorite book. I know I read it in high school, but I don't remember it being impactful. My next read is:

25 July 2010

Only 5 Months...

...until Christmas! Although it's a balmy 102 degrees outside, I think it's perfectly fine to think about Christmas. In fact, it's kind of nice to think of the cooler weather, snuggled up in PJ's and a blanket, watching Elf with the Christmas tree lights twinkling, sipping some apple cider. Who wants to join me?

23 July 2010

Friday Fives: Wishlist

Okay, seriously...every time I visit Just Me and My Life, I want to copy her whole blog layout. Colors, fonts, everything. And sometimes I want to copy her blog posts. Although imitation is the best form of flattery, I think the line is drawn so where imitation doesn't become ripping someone off entirely. :) Believe you me, I really wanted to repost this right here. Go ahead, click on the link, you won't be disappointed. It involves Lady Gaga and ridiculously high platform shoes. There might be a fall involved. (For the record, if I see someone fall, it's instinctive to laugh; then help them up.)

I've decided that instead of blatantly copying Beth's entire blog, I'll play along with Friday Fives. I love making a wish list! Here goes:

1. A terrific camera.

2. A Dash & Albert striped rug for my living room.

3. This DIY headboard with Otomi fabric.

4. A mega gift card to:
for back to school clothes. :)

5. A ring for my right hand. I feel awfully off balance, you know.

Psst, Husby...you should save this link for future reference. :)

21 July 2010

It Really Works!

After a few weeks of summer, I've decided that I just can't take being a step away from translucent. Ha! Seriously, I have fair skin that just doesn't tan easily. I wish it did. When I was younger and much less wise, I visited the tanning bed several times a week. But then I decided that scrambling my DNA, risking skin cancer for me and possible birth defects for future children really isn't worth the risk it takes to be a little darker. I stopped tanning and never looked back.

On occasion, I've gotten a Mystic Tan. You know, the kind that sprays on? That's only tricky because it sprays for about 30 seconds on the front, and then 30 seconds on the back, and I NEVER KNOW WHEN TO BREATHE. Not only that, but I have flashbacks of Ross from Friends having quite a mishap in the sunless tanning booth. Those playing on repeat in my head made me decide against doing it for my wedding. So, I was a fair-skinned bride. (It's a good thing Husby thinks fair skin is attractive!)

Just this week, though, I decided that enough is enough. I need color on my legs in a major way. Enter this tube of magic from Jergens. I'm on day 2 and can already tell a difference; I'm not nearly as bright white as I was! Hallelu!

So, all you fair-skinned girls (or girls who have a healthy fear of the tanning bed), try it out!

This is just my opinion. Jergens has no idea what joy they've brought to my life. :)

19 July 2010

3.14 + 4.2

If you've read this blog for a little while, you know that I love to celebrate. Even little things. And you also know that I'm a little nerdy. It's cool. I realize it. Husby likes it. We're good.

When I first heard about celebrating Pi(e) Day a few years ago, I just knew it had to work its way into my life. I knew that Husby would like it. After all, he majored in chemistry at college. Yeah, he's really smart. And nerdier than me. It's cool. I like it. We're good.

I do realize that I am a four months and two days behind in posting this, but you'll remember the whole camera debacle. And I couldn't not share.

In celebration of Pi(e) Day (on March 14 or 3.14), we had quiche for dinner. Since quiche is a type of pie, I felt fine doing this. I just didn't have time to make chicken pot pie. Here was our oh-so-yummy Pi(e) Day dinner:

For dessert, I introduced Husby to the greatness of a Moon Pie. Okay, so maybe they're not that great, but can you believe in all his years on earth, he's never had one? What in the world?! I know, I know. But his parents aren't from the South. We have to offer some grace to those who don't know the truth of Moon Pies. (Which is they're somewhat overrated and only eaten every two-six years in the adult life. I'd much rather have a Little Debbie Fudge Round.)

Here's my little cutie with his first Moon Pie:

I can't say whether or not he'll be a Moon Pie regular, but I can rest easy knowing that he's tasted some Southern-lovin'.

16 July 2010

A Typical Friday Night

Is anyone else just ready to crash on Friday nights? We are! Husby and I realized early on that we don't like going out to eat on Friday nights. It seems to be the norm in our neck of the woods, but the norm makes things crowded and noisy. Those are two things I don't so much enjoy on a Friday evening.

So, on Friday nights, we hang out with each other. We joke that we have date nights at home. We love to play games, have reading nights and watch a little TV. Any of which are perfect, nerd-like Friday night activities. (Unless it's a game that requires uber strategy, and then I'm out.)

I usually avoid cooking an entire meal these nights. In the past couple of months, we've discovered that we really love wine and cheese on Friday nights. I usually kick it up and add some bruschetta and fruit. It looks something like this:

What about you? Do Friday's excite you so much that you can't wait to get out on the town? Are you and your friends all about pajamas and pizza?

13 July 2010

Favorite Summer Recipes

Okay, for not cooking but about six or two times this summer, I do have some favorite summer recipes. Shockingly, most do not involve cooking. It's a love language: a meal without cooking.

I posted this recipe previously, but I've so enjoyed it this summer that I have to post again. I actually halve this recipe for me and Husby, and prepare it along side some other light dish.

Goat Cheese with Thyme, Peppercorns and Lemon Oil
From Bon Appétit, July 2007

Pink peppercorns and peppercorn mélange (a mixture of black, pink, green, and white peppercorns) are available at many supermarkets. They have a milder flavor than black peppercorns, which could be used in a much smaller amount.

1 (5.5-ounce) log soft mild goat cheese
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns or peppercorn mélange, cracked
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 small garlic clove, pressed (optional)
Sliced baguette (toasted, if desired)

Place cheese on plate; using plastic wrap as aid, shape into 5-inch round. Sprinkle with salt, peppercorns, and thyme, and press into cheese. Mix olive oil, lemon peel, and garlic, if desired, in small bowl. Pour over cheese. Serve with baguette.

My second recipe has a little history. When I was a freshman or so in high school, a local family asked me and my BFF if we would come to their house to cook and babysit over a long weekend. This was one of the meals we made. My mom reminded me that she had the recipe; again, it's a repeat.

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

6 whole tomatoes (blanched, peeled, juiced and quartered)
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Spaghetti or linguine or other pasta, cooked
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

After tomatoes are blanched, juiced and quartered, sprinkle with salt and let stand 10 minutes to rid of excess moisture. Chop tomatoes. Combine first 6 ingredients. Toss with pasta and top with Parmesan. Serve chilled.

Technically, blanching and boiling spaghetti require boiling water, but that about it. And if you're pressed for time, my mom modifies this recipe and uses grape tomatoes cut in half. Either way, it's a yummy, summery meal.

12 July 2010

Weekend Update

For those of you who know me in real life, you know that me and WalMart do not get along. I've had some crazy experiences at the WalMart that equate to oh-my-gosh-I-can't-shop-there-ever-again. Just a peek into my WalMart experiences: almost being run over by a motorized cart DRIVEN BY A KID and witnessing ANOTHER KID open a container of French onion dip, get a little taste, and return it to the refrigerated shelf. Perhaps I should chalk that up to bad parenting, but my brain automatically files it under REASONS I CAN'T SHOP AT WALMART.

I do have one confession, though, albeit personal. I really like this one brand of underwear at WalMart. Sure, other places like have good underwear, but spending $6 per pair of skivies just doesn't settle well with me. Especially when these are just as comfy. Which means, on Saturday I made the biannual trek to WalMart. (Wait, does biannual mean every other year or twice a year? Because I meant twice a year. Those things always confuse me.) And my experience was POSITIVE. I even called one of my BFF's to let her know.

The lamenting over what in the world I'd wear on vacation is somewhat solved, thanks to WalMart. I know, crazy, right? Now, you should know that I am quite a frugal shopper. I super love me some clearance racks at any store, especially Target. I get very excited when someone compliments the $6 dress a found at Ross or the $3 shirt at JCPenney. I feel it necessary to clarify that I do not mind at all shopping at less-expensive stores; I'm a frugal gal. But considering my aversion to setting foot in WalMart more than twice a year, much less spending enough time to shop for clothes, I was shocked. I actually found two pair of cute-ish shorts. (Remember, I don't usually wear shorts--or pants--because of my love for dresses and skirts.) And the kicker was a really cute $9 dress. When I pulled it out of the bag to show Husby, he even thought it was cute. I know that it'll be worn at some point on our vacay; I'll make sure to point it out in the appropriate pictures. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to visit WalMart a little more often!

Onto the next subject involving what in the world to wear on vacation: shoes. Although I plan to take my tennis shoes so that my husband doesn't file for divorce when we return citing bad choice of footwear for walking 12 miles per day while on vacation, I did find these canvas cuties at Target. (Sorry, I can't find a bigger picture.)

I did have a crisis-of-fashion-faith on Saturday. I must admit, I am not a big fan of Crocs. They're just not cute. They're a case of comfort winning over fashion. By a landslide. Imagine my surprise when I almost bought a pair. I tried them on, and y'all, those things are COMFORTABLE! I hesitated because I could hear the voices of fashion-reason in my head (who sound like a few select friends) who laughed at my inclination toward Crocs. I put them back on the Shoe Carnival shelf and walked out of the store, texting those small voices in my head. Evidently, they're okay with the wearing of a Croc while on vacation. Today, I'm heading back to the Carnival to buy these cute-ish Crocs.
And, yes, I feel like I've succumbed to putting fashion on the back burner for the sake of comfort. But JUST THIS ONCE. It will prevent Husby from filing for divorce when we return. I promise, there are no elastic waistbands in the future. Those will be reserved for the nursing home. Updated to add that pregnancy will also require some type of flexible waistband. Elastic, if you will.

On Sunday, we cheered on Espana in the World Cup. My sister-in-law is from Spain, so we really wanted Spain to win (after the U.S. was out, of course). And they did! Viva Espana! Because soccer is so much less physical than American football (except for kicking people in the chest and not getting a red card), I've decided that if we have boys, we're going to get really excited about soccer and never watch American football. That way, they'll want to play soccer and avoid getting concussions when they're 12.

I'm off to start a busy week at work. Hope you have a great Monday!

P.S. Husby did admit that he promotes comfort for me in hopes of the Wrangler jean shorts making a return. Confession is good for the soul. Unfortunately, it's not always good for fashion.

09 July 2010

What to Wear (or Not)

I think it's pretty evident by the last few posts that my life is a litle boring right now. It's just sad that I've been able to post without any real content. Lately my thoughts have been consumed with what in the world I'm going to wear while touring Eastern Europe. Sure, I love a sundress or summery skirt with sandals any day of the week and a little extra on Sundays. But they just don't seem to be the attire I should wear while walking 12+ hours a day.

I do own two (yes, two) pair of shorts. Both are denim and longer and cute-ish for shorts. (Husby still doesn't understand why he no longer is able to wear or own long, denim shorts since I can. I tell him that life just isn't fair. And until Lee jean shorts make a debut in GQ, he might as well just get over it.) Unfortunately, summer clothes are on their way out of the stores and pickings are slim. I tried on a few pair yesterday: yellow, white and light khaki. Um...not my colors of choice in anything, really. Needless to say, none of them came home with me.

Another issue? Comfortable shoes. I have super blister prone skin. If my feet just get near an uncomfy pair of shoes, they start blistering. Which means I'll need to rock tennis shoes during the long days of walking through cities. And I just don't like the look of tennis shoes with dressier shorts or skirts. It takes me back to my high school days when I was pretty much a fashion tragedy, and I just can't do it!

(Side story: when Husby and I were driving to Wisconsin in March, I didn't have room in my bag for my scrunchy boots. I put them in the back of the car, easily accessible for grabbing when we went into the hotel the first night of our trip. Only, I forgot to grab them. The next morning, I had to wear the tennis shoes from the day before into the hotel breakfast because Husby didn't see the need in going to get them for me. So I rocked a dress with leggings and tennis shoes. Although not crowded, I did get a few looks.)

(Side story to that: my two office aides shared with me that if you want to make someone feel insecure, stare at their feet when they're walking towards you.)

(Truth to that story: it's accurate.)

So you can see why I have no idea what to do. Comfort vs. fashion. It's obvious that I can't go to Husby for advice because he wants me to wear what's comfortable, and I want both. (I really think he's hoping I didn't throw the jean shorts in the trash. And maybe, just maybe, if he's supportive about my comfort, then they'll reappear.)

My solution so far:  wear sport/running skirts that I love so much. They have the little biking shorts for comfort, AND they look cute with tennis shoes. I can certainly take a couple of dresses or skirts to wear to dinner or whathaveyou in the evenings.

This weekend is dedicated to figuring out my attire in Europe. Here's hoping it's successful!

06 July 2010

It's GAlinda...with a GA

You might remember that in May, I reported that I'd read a total of two books in the entire year. Or you might not remember. Or you might hate reading and really not care (which makes me really sad for you). Any way about it, I'm now up to six books. That's right folks, now I only have 12 more to go to meet my total from last year. Woo hoo!

My selected reads often come from Oprah's Book Club. Honestly, I can't remember being disappointed by a selection from Oprah. If you're familiar with O's Book Club books, you know that they usually involve a death in the first chapter--sometimes more than one. But they're JUST SO GOOD. All that to say, I usually don't read funny or happy books. I like the emotion involved in reading. Then I had a friend recommend Kristin Chenowith's book (co-written by Joni Rodgers), A Little Bit Wicked, because it reminded her of me. Now I know why: this book is funny! Which sounds a little conceited, but sometimes I even make myself laugh. And we all know that's the sign of being funny. Or maybe that's the sign of being annoying?

Like always, I removed the book jacket before lugging it around in my car or purse, upstairs and back down, so that it doesn't get torn. When I removed it, I found pink. The entire book cover is pink! I'm not so much a pink person per se, but I've never had a completely pink book. And I like it.

If you're not familiar with Kristin Chenowith, perhaps her most notable claim to fame is her role as "Glinda" (or Galinda) in Wicked. She was also "Olive Snook" in Pushing Daisies, which was a fabulous TV show that wasn't renewed after it's second season. (Thanks stupid writers' strike.) I'd recommend the following to become familiar with Kristin Chenowith: buy the Wicked soundtrack and rent Pushing Daisies. She's just a fun girl!

Back to the book...I've laughed out loud so hard, and I'm only 50 pages in. I just read this passage, and it's so familiar to me. Husby and his family tend to mispronounce things. By a lot. So this made me laugh so hard, especially the last line. Here goes, a conversation between Kristin and her mother: 
 "We should have dinner at Mudfuckers," says Mom. "They have every kind of burger you could possibly want."

"I think you mean Fuddruckers, Mom."

"Yes, that's what I said."

"You said Mudfuckers."

"What? I would never say Mudfuckers. Jerry, I didn't say Mudfuckers, did I?"

Now, let me say here, my mom is an intelligent woman, so perhaps this is some kind of verbal dyslexia or just a matter of not sweating the small stuff, but in her personal lexicon, I play "Olive Shnook" on Pushing Up Daisies...Suzuki piano method is remembered as "Yamaha lessons." "Achy Breaky" becomes "Yucky Ducky," and Puerto Vallarta turns into "Porta Kolache."
Okay, I'm off to read a little more before bed. Hope you've had a great week so far!

05 July 2010

Let's Look at Some Graphs

Husby loves http://www.graphjam.com/, and I have to admit, it is pretty funny. Because I had to work on a day that the rest of the free world (read: United States of America) was off, I feel a little lazy. And I just cleaned two bathrooms, and you know how tiring that can be! This is as good as a post gets today.

funny graphs and charts

funny graphs and charts

funny graphs and charts

funny graphs and charts

02 July 2010

Friday Fives: 4th of July

Because I had so much fun last week with Friday Fives at Just Me and My Life, I decided to play along this week. And, really, what better topic than...

I love this holiday. Here's why...

I've celebrated Independence Day in several ways. Growing up, we celebrated the day at my grandparent's lake house. There were tons of people: family, friends, and neighbors who were in for the weekend. Of course, we had wonderful food, homemade ice cream (peach was my favorite!) and fireworks (more on those later). When I started high school, I seemed to have camp every year over the 4th. Sure, we'd celebrate with hamburgers and sparklers, but it just wasn't the same. And then in college, I was always in Romania for the summer, which meant celebrating there.

Every year, it was a little different, but one of my favorites was the time we had two British girls on our team, Emma and Rosie. After our meal of hamburgers, we had a trivia session where we proudly announced the significance of the day (because they REALLY DIDN'T KNOW). By the end of the game, these girls knew WE WERE NO LONGER PART OF THE MOTHERLAND. And really, they could have cared less. Actually, they were probably glad because we were so obnoxious that night. Ha!

My last summer in Romania, we ate at McDonald's on the 4th of July. What's more American than that? The kicker, though, was the dessert. They have the same fried apple pies that we have in the States. (Although, I've NEVER eaten one here.) That summer, they had heaven in a bowl. The pies were placed in a bowl, and then topped with soft-serve ice cream and caramel. OH. MY. GOODNESS. They were so good.

The past couple of years, we've celebrated in my in-laws backyard. We enjoy burgers off the grill and yummy desserts. Husby brings his bows and arrows with the massive target, all of which are stored in our house. Last year, I have vivid memories of hiding behind solid objects when certain people took turns at shooting those things.

Patriotic music has a very special place in my heart. After learning and performing "This Land is Your Land" in Mrs. Lindamood's 5th grade music class, hearing patriotic music just makes me smile. One of my most favorite things is the church service the weekend before Independence Day, where they play the medley of songs from all branches of the Armed Forces, and each member stands when the appropriate song is played. I get goosebumps every year!

I just love fireworks! It's pretty much a requirement to see them. The least fun 4th of July celebration are those without fireworks. I love to say, "Oh, those are my favorites. Never mind, those are my favorites," for the entire fireworks show.

Typically, I'm not your girl who dresses for the holiday. I don't wear Christmas sweaters or have Halloween socks. BUT I usually color-coordinate for this special holiday. This year, I plan to wear my denim skirt with a [still to be bought] red shirt. Last year, I wore a navy blue dress with a rope belt, but the wedge heels were a little more than uncomfortable on the 1/2 mile we had to walk to the fireworks show. This year, I'll be a tad more practical. I think.

If you haven't noticed, I do like the food on the 4th. I so enjoy grilling out. Since we don't have a grill at our house, this is like a freebie grill-out session. Hamburgers and brats are on the menu. I'll contribute the apple pie. (What's more American than that?!) Although it'll be for dinner, I think I might start a new tradition and have apple pie for 4th of July breakfast.

What about you, what are your favorites for the 4th? Play along!

01 July 2010

Honeymoon Highlights: Starstruck

As I posted pictures of our trip to Chicago and linked to posts with pictures from our honeymoon in San Francisco, I realized that I never finished posting pictures of our honeymoon. And we had some fun times! This was a highlight, for sure... 

One of the first nights in San Francisco, we ate at Fleur de Lys--a fancy French restaurant. Let me give you a little background. Husby and I love to watch Top Chef and Top Chef Masters. Last year was the inaugural year for Top Chef Masters, and although I really liked all of the finalists, my absolute favorite chef was Hubert Keller. He was just so gracious, and I think we can all agree that you don't often hear the French considered gracious. (I know, I'm stereotyping, but the country wasn't exactly well-represented in the World Cup, either.)

Before we arrived at Fleur de Lys, I declared that if I met any of the three chefs who were finalists, I'd want to meet Hubert Keller. Some people might want to meet Justin Timberlake or a Twilight person, but I like chefs. While we were waiting for a table, I glanced at the entrance AND HE WALKED IN THE DOOR. Hubert Keller walked in the door and stood right beside us. He was attending the opening of his newest restaurant, but was asked to present a ring to a couple celebrating their 20th anniversary--to the wife on behalf of her husband, since she's a fan. So, he made a special trip. (See, he is super nice!)

Chef Keller greeted us; I was starstruck and couldn't speak. Before he was whisked off to present the ring, he promised to return to talk with us. So exciting! As soon as he returned, I immediately began telling him how much I liked him on Top Chef. He was SO KIND and offered to take a picture with us. Then he had two extra desserts and champagne sent at the end of our meal. It made me like him even more.

I've always sworn that I'd never be at a loss for words with a celebrity, and it's likely I wouldn't with movie stars, but put me in front of someone who's a chef--or maybe a Broadway star--and I'm speechless. Has anyone else been starstruck? Who would cause you to become speechless?

Oh, and you can read about the beginning of our adventures here, here, and here.