25 January 2011

Picture Project

In keeping with the theme of January and resolutions and all, I need to add another. (You can read about my initial resolutions here.) Y'all, I am horrible at taking pictures! I realize that we're 24 days into January so I'm a tad behind on the list of 52. I'll catch up this week/weekend. Basically, I take a picture once a week all year long with the help of the prompts below (thanks to a list found here). My goal is:

a) Take more pictures.
b) Get used to having my camera with me and using it.
c) Downloading said pictures to my computer. (I tend to go months before downloading pictures!)

Week 1 - Black and White
Week 2 - Food
Week 3 - Self Portrait
Week 4 - Reflection
Week 5 - Ennui
Week 6 - Red
Week 7 - Time
Week 8 - Pink
Week 9 - Patterns
Week 10 - Morning
Week 11 - Round
Week 12 - Hands
Week 13 - Shine
Week 14 - Envy
Week 15 - Soft
Week 16 - Perspective
Week 17 - Love
Week 18 - Start
Week 19 - Free
Week 20 - Texture
Week 21 - Toys
Week 22 - Downtown
Week 23 - Summer
Week 24 - Heat
Week 25 - Fantasy
Week 26 - Water
Week 27 - Shadows
Week 28 - Light
Week 29 - Night
Week 30 - Macro
Week 31 - Nature
Week 32 - Clothes
Week 33 - Green
Week 34 - Map
Week 35 - Laughter
Week 36 - Child(ren)
Week 37 - Yellow
Week 38 - Candy
Week 39 - Pets
Week 40 - Never Ending
Week 41 - Sports
Week 42 - Books
Week 43 - Blue
Week 44 - Letter of the Alphabet
Week 45 - Innocence
Week 46 - Most Important Thing in Life
Week 47 - Heaps
Week 48 - Family
Week 49 - Favorite Spot
Week 50 - Metal
Week 51 - Three
Week 52 - Fun

24 January 2011

Weekend Update & a Recipe

This weekend was productive for me! I did laundry, organized, took a load to Goodwill, did laundry, started another donation pile, cooked, did laundry, framed artwork we bought in Europe this summer, cooked, framed our wedding invite, and did laundry. I've decided that ever after my 100 thing purge, we still have too much stuff. This week, I'm taking about 125 magazines to a women's ministry. I sure hope they like Real Simple, Country Living, and  Southern Living!

Yesterday was our turn to take breakfast to Sunday School, so I made Sausage Cheese Muffins that are TO DIE FOR! Think sausage ball, but not dry and hard to swallow. They're so super tasty. I got the recipe from Gina--one of my favorite people in the whole world. (Whose daughter's I babysat in high school and are now old enough to drive and go to college.) Anyway, Gina is a fabulous cook, and I like to invite myself to her house for dinner. She even takes requests. Her gift is service, for sure! (Gina, if you're reading this, can I come over the next time Danielle is in town?)

Back to those Sausage Cheese Muffins. You'll have to make these the next time you have a crowd, otherwise you'll eat four at a time. And I'm thinking that sausage plus cheese means a lot of calories! Although, they freeze really well and make for an easy breakfast. Simply wrap one in a paper towel and microwave for 30-40 seconds. But be careful, the cheese gets about as hot as the sun!

They were a hit in our class. I really thought I'd have a least one left to take a picture, but that didn't work out as planned. Here's a picture from Southern Living:

Sausage Cheese Muffins
From the kitchen of Gina, and adapted from Southern Living

1 lb. ground pork sausage
3 C Bisquick
1 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
3/4 C water
1/2 t garlic powder

Cook sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until it crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain and cool. (I did this the day before and refrigerated it.) Combine sausage, Bisquick, and shredded cheese in a large bowl. In another bowl, stir together soup, 3/4 cup water, and garlic powder; add to sausage mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into lightly greased muffin pans, filling to top of cups. Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 18 muffins.

23 January 2011

A First: Making Chili

You'd think that being from Texas, I'd have a chili recipe that I've cooked since I was three. Chili is kind of a big deal in Texas. BUT I don't always love it. Sometimes it's super greasy or really meaty. Both of these are turn-offs for me. I do realize that a card-carrying Texas wouldn't admit this, but I like beans in my chili. It kind of breaks up the monotony of eating bite after bite of meat. I finally found a recipe that I like and made chili for my very first time.

Every month at work, parents bring lunch to the faculty. It is so thoughtful that they do this. This week, they served the Upper School baked potatoes and chili. I think the intention was to eat them separately, but I topped my potato with the chili. Yum! I was blown away by how much I actually liked the chili. I mean, it smelled great, but tasted even better! That afternoon, I emailed the parent who made it and asked for the recipe (and hoping it wasn't some family secret!). Turns out, she just threw it together. Luckily, she remembered what she did for this batch.

I made it for dinner last night, and then we had it again today atop some Fritos for a nice Fritos Chili Pie. I think next time, I'll add a little more cayenne pepper to the mix, but overall it was really nice.


1 onion, chopped
1 bunch green onion, chopped
Handful of cilantro, chopped
1 T butter
2 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey
Chili seasoning mix (ex: Wick Fowler's False Alarm)
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 C water
2 cans Ranch Style Beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes

In a large pot, saute onion, green onion, and cilantro with butter over medium-high heat; set aside when onion is translucent. Brown meat; drain. Add meat and onion mixture back to pot. Stir in chili seasoning, tomato sauce and water. Allow to come to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Add beans and tomatoes. Let simmer over low heat for several hours, stirring occasionally.

22 January 2011

An Update

Just so you know, I'm still here. I just have writer's block combined with a semi-boring life. I wish I had fun or interesting stories, but I don't. I even went to WalMart today, and other than it being a reminder of why I really don't like WalMart, nothing outstanding happened. (I usually have a great story after a trip to WalMart. Like the time when I was in the dairy section, and a kid walked up to the dairy case, opened a container of French onion dip, scooped some out with his finger, ate it, put the lid back on and walked away. I was dumbfounded. Especially when he later almost ran me over while driving a motorized cart. While his mom was walking beside him. Seriously?)

I've tried really hard this week to work on balance--bible time, working out, cooking, cleaning, laundry. I have such a hard time maintaining all of those things, and maybe I can't do it all, but I've tried really hard this week. Which is why I haven't blogged. See, something has to give.

I've also been reading quite a bit. Last year, I only read 12 books. That's a really sad number. I blame it on the fact that my first book of the year was not enjoyable. We had an All School Read, and I was forced to read Three Cups of Tea. I did not like it. One bit. Before you skip to the comment section and hate on me for knocking this book, let me give a disclaimer that I like the story of building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan; it's a great mission. But the book was about 150 pages too long and VERY poorly written. I wish the editor had been better. I think starting the year off with a book that I didn't like set the tone for the rest of the year.

So I knew that I had to do better this year. I had to read a book that was one my MUST READ list. I just finished my first book, read in five days because it was that good.

If you haven't read this book, you should. I couldn't put it down. Set in the 1960s, it tells the stories of black maids who work for white families. Every two chapters is in the voice of a different character, telling her story. Some good. Some bad. Some heart-wrenching. I'll probably think about it for a while.

Now I'm reading another book on my To Read list. So far, really good. I'm about 25% done.

Oh, and I have a confession. I'm now the owner of a:

That's right. I own a Kindle. I swore when they first came out that I'd NEVER be able to hold something like that in the place of a book. Well, let me tell you, Husby and I have five bookcases in our house. And they're full. All of them. Some are doubled up. We had to do something, so we converted to Kindle's (thanks to a handy Best Buy gift card Christmas present!). I hate to admit that I like it, but I do. I know that I'll probably always prefer an actual book, but this isn't so bad. (Although the process of buying it was awful. Best Buy has terrible customer service.)

There's also one more change for us. (I'm not prego.) After ten years, I own a new car. Her name is Genevieve. She's a Kia Sportage and looks like this:
Yes, she's red. Yes, my car is female. Yes, she has a name. It's more fun that way. She and Knox, Husby's black Prius, look so cute together!

I'm off to read another chapter before bed. Hope you've had a relaxing and/or productive weekend!

11 January 2011

A Rough Day

Mercy. I am so glad the work day is over! It was an unplanned crazy day, and I feel like I've been beaten. This week I have multiple presentations, three different days, over PSAT score interpretation. Remember those days? I do not miss them. Although I would have rather taken a standardized test than have the scenario play out the way it did today.

See, I'm a planner. A pretty detailed planner. I typically have things ready several days--maybe even a week--in advance for presentations: copies, PowerPoint's, reminders sent via email, etc. I knew that I was a several days behind my norm, but I felt that I could get everything done. Yesterday, I stayed late to get my presentations for the freshmen. Easy enough. I reviewed the PowerPoint, developed a script, made my copies and came home before dark (which was my goal since Husby was out of town for the night, and I don't like being home alone or walking in the house when it's dark).


This morning, I was working on my presentation for tomorrow. I had about an hour I had before my first presentation of the day. I was good. Until my colleague came into my office and asked if I was still working with the juniors today. What? Let's just say I wanted desperately to panic, but I didn't have time. In under a minute, I grabbed a presentation and flew to the library while she made copies for me. I had to give Thursday's presentation today. I hadn't prepared. I had only looked at the slides once. But I had to do it, and I did. Whew. Only two more to go. Thank goodness I had about an hour before the second presentation. I updated my PowerPoint, developed a script and begged someone to make copies for me. All went well, including my presentation to parents, which is always so nervewracking. As soon as walked into my office at the end of the day, I felt all of the tension in my shoulders that had been stored there all day. No fun. The good news is that I'm ahead for the rest of the week.

Husby just got home. I'm making hamburgers for dinner, and we plan to cozy up on the couch in the winter weather event of 2011. It's getting into the teens tonight. That's so cold for us sweet southerners!

I'm off to flip some burgers...

09 January 2011

The Weekend

Today is a yucky day outside. The forecast calls for sleet and snow, but so far it's just miserable, cold rain. Which means we're hunkered down inside. Since icy roads were expected around noon, we decided to skip the drive to church. Our morning at home has been nice; last night we threw a party for my in-laws 40th anniversary. It was quite fun, but we stayed up WAY past our bedtime. I'm such a terrible picture taker, so it's no surprise that I don't have pictures to share. We had approximately 60 people in their house (the location was a condition of the low-key party). We miscalculated the amount of food people would eat, so my mom--a guest at the party--had to make a run for olives, cheese, fruit and such once what we'd made was cleared out. (Thanks, Mom!)

One of the favorites at the party were Little Piggies that I made. I actually got the recipe from Shauna Niequist's blog. Instead of using hot dog wieners, I used Lil' Smokies. (Like the ones you use for pig-in-a-blanket's.) These are super easy and super yummy. I actually did some ahead of time and froze them, and it worked wonderfully. I'll definitely make these again.

Little Piggies
Adapted from shaunaniequist.com

1 package Lil' Smokies (I used Hilshire Farms)
1 lb. bacon, cut into thirds
1 C brown sugar

Wrap each Lil' Smokie with a piece of bacon. Place seam side down in a pan. Once all are in the pan, sprinkle with brown sugar.

Cook at 250 degrees for 4 hours.

Seriously. You need to try these. They're yummy. And I don't really like bacon. (I know. I know.)

Okay, I need to get back to HGTV and to an annual upload of pictures to facebook. Here's hoping for some more interesting winter weather.

07 January 2011

To Do List Update

I made a list to do over Christmas break. Here's the status of everything. I completed over half of the items, and I feel good about that.

Purge our home of 100 items (donate to Goodwill, sell on Craigslist, throw in the trash)
To expedite this process, I donated anything that wasn't trashed. My intention was to write a list of everything, but I was too excited to get rid of things! There were shoes and clothes and shoes and clothes and a few other things. Ummm...because confession is good for the soul, I have100 magazines boxed and ready to deliver, PLUS the other 100 items already finding new homes. Yes, I have an issue with keeping magazines. But I've embraced it and am taking control!

Take my wedding dress to be preserved--finally
Yes, I took it. And it came home with me on the hanger. I can't bear spending so much on this. I think I might actually sell my dress. Don't get me wrong: I LOVED IT. I'm just not super attached to it. And it's beautiful. Someone else could enjoy it.

Print wedding portraits finally and have framed
We decided which prints we want, I just didn't make it to the printer. Dang it.

Organize closets (Husby's, mine, and one other)
I actually organized two other closets, but didn't make it to ours. It'll happen. It could be when we move out someday, but it will happen.

Clean, clean, clean (also read: vacuum, dust, mop)
Some things were cleaned, but not the whole house. Lots of dusting happened, though. I just HATE vacuuming! And I don't think the house will ever be clean at one time. I need to learn to be okay with that.

Organize the cabinets off of the kitchen
Didn't happen.

Complete recipe binder reorganization
Just need to write a few more recipes and purge any loose papers. A couple of hours, and it'll be done!

Research making a king-sized upholstered headboard
Layer foam, batting and fabric over wood frame.

Send dimensions for headboard (76" wide x 58" tall x 4" deep) to carpenter for simple frame from 2x4s and plywood.

Find navy velvet fabric for headboard
Fabric at Hobby Lobby; doesn't go on sale--take 40% off coupon. Need 6 yards.

Search for end tables to silver leaf
Found at The Wood Shed (unfinished furniture)

Research how to silver leaf
Found here. Actually, I'll aluminum leaf, since it's cheaper.

Order aluminum leaf, Quick Set Gilding Size
To do this month.

Decide on new bedding (but wait until January White Sales to buy)
Can't find any simple, white bedding that I love, but I'm looking!

Organize my iTunes account

Hang the huge clock we received for a wedding present
It looks great!

Undecorate after Christmas
I always dread this, and I promise that I'll never decorate as elaborately, but that won't happen. As much as I love the decorations, I really am fine when they come down. Now our house seems more open again and not as cluttered.

I hope that over the next few weeks, our bedroom will start to take shape and that a few more of these things will be knocked off the list. I just love the feeling of accomplishment when a list is complete!

05 January 2011

After 2.5 Weeks...

Hello, friends (or those of you who didn't get too annoyed with my lack of blogging that you removed me from your Google reader). I'm hoping that readership hasn't fallen below ten, but I understand if it has. Two and a half weeks between posts is just a tad ridiculous.

I feel that it's a little late to write about our fabulous Christmas with family. And that Husby surprised me with the rug I've obsessed over for the past 8 months. It looks terrific in our living room. And then, in an attempt to make Christmas dinner easier than homemade enchiladas (that I normally make), my brother and his girlfriend, Brooke, made us a superb Christmas dinner involving way too much homemade pasta. Evidently I'm back to making enchiladas next year because, although tasty, homemade pasta is a pain.

We spent New Years' Eve with our fun friends, Brent and Patti. It was wild and crazy. (Said in a very low, monotone voice.) By 8pm, I was certain I could stay up until midnight. By 10:45pm, I asked if we could move the clock forward an hour. I couldn't get an unanimous vote, so I spent the next hour and fifteen minutes eating pretzels dipped into the chocolate fountain and drinking coffee. Which made going to sleep at 12:03am just fabulous! The following morning, they cooked us a breakfast that involved many a breakfast items, including biscuits and cherry butter. Yum! I just love seeing these two friends. They make our lives happy.

I spent Christmas vacation doing stuff, and I was quite regretful that I never had a day just to rest. Husby was off the second week, and although he had some downtime, I pulled him along to run errands and do stuff. I've decided that if he takes any days off at Spring Break, we're not doing stuff. We're just going to enjoy each other, either at home or on a trip. I did make a dent in my Christmas To Do list, but I think I'd be more proud of having rested. I am proud of the relationships that got some TLC over the break. Since my job was so crazy last semester, my friendships suffered. I expected it and had understanding friends, but it was still difficult. I was able to touch base with several friends, but unfortunately, I didn't get through my list. It'll happen, though.

In the spirit of making resolutions, I've decided to make a few manageable, short-term goals and a long-term goal. Short term goals include: work out 24 times in the next 6 weeks (that's 4x per week) and cook one new recipe each week for the next 6 weeks. Long term goal: read through the Bible this year. My mom did this last year, and it inspired me to do it. So far, so good. :)

I pray that this year is off to a great start for you!