Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Always Want to Know - Why?

One of the things I love is reflecting on life. It is actually something I do quite often when I can find the time for it. I look back at everything (the good and the bad) and try to make some kind of sense out of it.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason and nothing bugs me more than not being able to figure out just exactly what the reason was for whatever event that might be on my mind. Have I overlooked it or has it just not happened yet? If it hasn't happened, when will it? I need to know to set my mind at ease and to be okay with things.

There have been things in my life, just like any ones, that have brought me tremendous joy and tremendous pain. I always try to figure out the "whys?" and if it was really worth it. When I think about it, I can pretty much sum it up in the adage "Would you have rather loved and lost or to have never loved at all?".

In order to feel great pain you must have loved. If you never loved you would never experience pain, but you would also miss out on the joy. To me obviously, the joy and the learning experience of it all is worth it.

But what if you miss out on the learning experience? Was the joy worth the feeling of loss? I always feel the need to justify the loss and the pain that comes with it by gaining some sort of knowledge or lesson. Without that, I am confused as to why any of it occurred in the first place.

For now, I will just have to live with the frustration. Maybe one day I will figure out the "why". Maybe now just isn't the appropriate time. Maybe I just wouldn't understand. I hope the understanding comes soon though so I can put my mind at ease.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's to Eat? Wednesday: A Fabulous New Website

On Monday morning, I was sitting on the couch, drinking my coffee when the Today show supplied me with the solution I needed for my pantry clean out! It's a fabulous new website that allows you to enter in the ingredients you have and it supplies you with recipes you can make that doesn't even require a trip to the store if you don't have time! The recipes come from several well known recipe sites like,, epicurious and so on. The website is here and below is a quick video of how it works. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Home Show

I don't know about you, but I hate giving the home tour to people when they come over. Something about it just makes me feel like I'm going to have an anxiety attack.

Thoughts start running through my head like "OMG I haven't cleaned my baseboards in months!", "Will they notice that spot in the carpet that I CANNOT get out?", "We still haven't had time to replace our counter tops. Will they think I just have bad taste?".

Ugh. The next thing that happens is that I start yelling at my husband because a towel isn't folded correctly or that the pillow arrangement on the bed is all wrong.

Then, I want to just call and cancel whatever get together has been planned in fear that my house smells like puppy pee. You know how you can never REALLY tell how your house smells because, well, you are there all the time. Grr.

It really shouldn't be that bad.

Can't we just skip the tour? It's not the Taj Mahal. You probably aren't going to get any really great design ideas out of it. All it boils down to is a judgment made in their heads. "Lovely." or "Shew they have a lot they need to do!" And don't even lie. We all judge.

I believe the reason people really want the home tour is to better understand the person. What do they like? What's their style? How do they show their personality in their home? How do they really live? How do we compare? It's just part of it. I completely understand it.

Really, I think it's that I'm not comfortable in the center of attention. I feel unnerved by the fact that things might not be absolutely perfect in every little way. I always feel the need to point out all the mistakes and explain why it is the way it is. I feel the need to make excuses.

And....I need to get over it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Goodbye, Hello

Summer and fall are my favorite times of the year. I think part of the reason for that is just the nostalgia that comes along with them from being a kid. It's the excitement of school beginning and ending as well as upcoming holidays. With all that said, I'd like to take a moment to say goodbye to some of my favorite summer things and hello to some of my favorite fall things.

  • Goodbye, my beloved flip flops who I will wear past the time deemed appropriate to wear you. Hello, sexy long boots that I will adventure to put over my skinny jeans this year.
  • Goodbye, warm summer sun that gives my skin that nice healthy glow. Hello, crisp fall breezes that make me close my eyes and take a deep refreshing breath.
  • Goodbye, simple summer food. Hello, soups and chili that warm my soul.
  • Goodbye, cute sleeveless tops and dresses that I love to throw on and always feel cute in. Hello, jackets and cardigans that allow me to extend the wear of my favorite summer pieces.
  • Goodbye, holidays that involve grilling out and outdoor fun. Hello, holidays that involve pumpkins, traditions, Christmas trees and heavy meals enjoyed by the whole family.

I will severely miss summer, but I so look forward to fall. It's the long in between that really gets me down, but we won't think about that for now! If only summer and fall could last forever.

P.S. Spring - I would really like you a lot better if you weren't so darn rainy!

P.S.S. Winter - I'll never like you. Sorry. You last way to freaking long.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things I Have Learned from My Toddler...Who Happens to Be My Dog

This topic is from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. Well it's suppose to be about a real child, but since I don't have one it's going to be about Lola. This strikes me as funny because I was just watching Kings of Queens last night and they were making fun of a cousin who always told stories about what you thought were children and in the end they were cats. But I digress...I'm not that lady, I swear. Don't hate me!

On to the point....
  • Lola has taught me to always be curious. You never know how much fun you can have with a plastic bottle or a bug until you try.

  • If you are as cute as the Bean (aka Lola), everyone must love you. Seriously...(we may or may not have a very conceited dog).

  • Licking yourself can be quite entertaining.

  • Your poo is never too stinky to eat. It's really the best way to get rid of the evidence.
  • If you're sneaky enough you can always get some good eats from the table or even the dishwasher while they aren't looking.

(We washed it....and promptly disciplined after we got the picture)

  • Lotion is delicious....almost as delicious as poo.

  • Size doesn't matter.

  • Hanging your head out the window and whatever other body parts fit out is the shiz nit!

  • Motorcycles are well as vacuums and hairdryers.
  • Everything can and will be destroyed!

(The best place to keep all of your treasures is under the bed!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's to Eat? Wednesday: Baked Linguine with Meat Sauce

This meal is one of me and Michael's favorites as well as a good pantry clean out! It's absolutely delicious. It is a little on the rich side, but there are some lighter options listed at the end. I usually cut this recipe in half as well because it makes a lot.

Baked Linguine with Meat Sauce

Serves: 8


2 pounds lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
8 ounces uncooked linguine
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese


Cook beef and garlic in a Dutch oven, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Stir in tomatoes and next 4 ingredients; simmer 30 minutes. Set mixture aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Place pasta in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Stir together sour cream, cream cheese, and green onions. Spread over pasta. Top with meat sauce.

Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese, and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve with a salad and bread, if desired.
Note: To lighten dish, use no-salt-added tomato products, light sour cream, light cream cheese, and reduced-fat Cheddar cheese.

It tastes better than the picture looks, I promise.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Closet Makeover: Before and After

So I think it is about time for me to finally reveal my before and after shots for my closet makeover. Until now, Michael and I had been moving every single year due to being in college and let's just say we had a lot of crap that I wanted to get rid of before our next move. I refused to take some of that stuff with me. It took me about 2 weeks to go through every closet, drawer, and cabinet in my house but I am finally finished (minus the trip to Goodwill).

Hall Closet: Before
Obviously the problem here was just plain disorganization. Nothing had a specific place and it created chaos. We needed some simple storage solutions to make everything a little easier to get to.

Hall Closet: After
I bought some cheap storage bags to house the patio cushions and seasonal wreathes. I made sure the things we used most often (vacuum and tools) were easy to get to.

Spare Bedroom Closet: Before
Michael and I are lucky enough to have our own separate closets so this one is mainly just used for out of season clothes, my dress pants, luggage, crafty stuff, and extra blankets. The problem here was that stuff always fell out on you and were hard to get to.

Spare Bedroom Closet: After
One thing that is still a problem in this closet is that we had to put a desk in the back in order to avoid getting a storage unit at this time. I decided to put my dress pants back in my closet in order to simplify putting outfits together in the mornings. I moved my casual dresses as well as my longer fancy dresses and our suits. I stored these in protective bags since they aren't something we use that often and were some of our more expensive items. I also got a storage bag to protect my Grandmothers quilts and grouped all the crafty items up top in a visible and accessible area. As for the extra blankets, I used the space bags!

Second Guest Bedroom Closet: Before
This closet was a complete disgrace. Let's just say my husband used the shove method on this one. It had every single receipt from 2006, wedding gifts, old school notebooks, albums, office supplies, and decorative items. You name it - it was there. Completely inaccessible.

Second Guest Bedroom Closet: After
We threw out a lot of stuff from this one and as you can see there is still some empty space! Yes! The key here was just grouping things together. I had some extra small storage boxes so I used them to house the office and computer supplies. The rest of the boxes contain wedding gifts that we don't have the space to use at this time. At least now, we know where everything is!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What Do You Want to Do When You Grow Up?

It's a tough question to answer sometimes, isn't it?

Actually to be honest, it really isn't all that hard for me to answer. Unfortunately it's just going to be hard for me to do what I want to do. I'm afraid that it might not be a path that people think I should take. And I know, I know - don't think about it right? Well easier said than done.

Then there's the possibility of failing. I'm not a big risk taker and I don't like having the potential to fail, but if I don't take a chance then I may never be able to do what I really want.

Everyone is in a big rush for me to get another job because it's what you are suppose to do. Part of me would like to think about what I want though first before I just jump into the next thing that I might end up hating just as much. I have a feeling that this is the time for me to do some experimenting and figure out if what I think I want to do is really right for me. It will be a way to ease my way into the risk.

I have a lot to think about. At least it is potentially exciting stuff! In the meantime I will be doing my best not to become a lazy bum.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's to Eat? Wednesday: One of My Pantry Cleaning Meals

Welcome to What's to Eat? Wednesday! Around here, Wednesday is all about food so if you want to join in just put your site in Mr. Linky below so we can read all about it. Do you need topic ideas? Try these…favorite/worst recipes, kitchen disasters, restaurant experiences, kitchen gadgets, food memories, or dinner parties….really anything about or related to food goes here!

As you guys know, I have been trying to clean out my pantry and I had A LOT of rice. One of the ways I found to get rid of it was with this recipe. It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but seriously it's something you will make it over and over again so it won't even matter. It's super fast to make as well so one thing I would recommend is to have everything ready to toss in before hand. Try it - it's yummy. Now I just need a recipe for crab rangoons - they are my ultimate weakness when it comes to Chinese food!

Sichuan Style Stir-Fried Chicken


2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

Stir-Frying Oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided


½ cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons sugar
2½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
1¼ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced green onions
1½ tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1½ tablespoons minced garlic (about 7 cloves)
1 teaspoon chili paste with garlic

Remaining Ingredients

1½ cups drained, sliced water chestnuts
1 cup (½ inch) sliced green onion tops
¾ cups unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
6 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

To prepare marinade, combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; cover and chill 20 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken mixture; stir-fry 4 minutes or until chicken in done. Remove from pan; set aside.

To prepare sauce, combine broth and next 6 ingredients (broth through 1 teaspoon sesame oil); stir well with a whisk. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in pan. Add 2 tablespoons green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile paste, and stir fry for 15 seconds. Add broth mixture, and cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.

Stir in cooked chicken, water chestnuts, sliced onion tops, and peanuts; cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Doggie Mayhem

Lola is super spoiled now that I am home with her. She mostly stares out the window and barks at the neighbor cat who insists on sleeping outside our window. To my surprise though, she really does sleep most of the day. I had always thought that she must be bored out of her mind while I was at work because she was so wired when I got home, but apparently she is just a night owl.

She can be surprisingly needy though. I have determined that she is jealous of the computer. She's constantly trying to drag my hands off the keyboard, shove a toy in my face, or as a last resort walk on the keyboard and bark in my face.

We have been taking her to the Petsmart training classes and they have been helping somewhat. She's still ADD but she's getting it. Through the class we have found out that she really likes big dogs and hates small dogs as well as s he is a very jealous creature and will clammer for attention from others. She might be a touch on the over friendly side.

We have had 2 adventures while I have been home. The first one being the toy incident. She's been in destructo mode lately and every toy we get her is ruined in 5 minutes. So I got her this fun looking ball that seemed to be made of harder rubber...

Well she had pieces coming off of it in no time and made some very colorful poop. Michael tried to throw it away, but seriously it was $6. I thought we could try to make it last. Not kidding the next day - this happened.

The toy was lodged between her teeth and I couldn't get it out. She freaked out and threw up at least 3 times. She just kept walking around growling and making squishy rubbery sounds. I called Michael who had to come home from lunch to help me get it out. Of course by the time he got there she had broken through some of it and it came out no problem. I got the "I told you so" speech and the toy went in the trash.

This weekend she developed what I believe to be a UTI. I have been taking her out every 20 minutes since Saturday. I keep hoping she will flush it out with water, but no luck yet. I called the vet who instructed me that I needed to get a pee sample before I brought her in.....what? Can someone please tell me how you are suppose to go about getting that from a dog. I'm pretty sure I can't get her to pee in a cup and I don't even want to think about how you get it from the floor to the cup?!?!

Oh well, she's scratching at the door again. I should be happy because that's an accomplishment in itself. Yay for housebreaking! My carpets might make it after all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Guilty Pleasure

One of the long, lost, forgotten things I have happened upon while organizing have been my old computer games. I own several of the Sims games as well as the whole Myst Trilogy. I'm pretty sure they have more than just the 3 now though so I probably shouldn't call it a trilogy, oh well. My games were so old I had to download Quicktime 2 instead of 7 to get them to work lol. Like everything else, it's not Vista friendly. I hate Vista, but that's another rant for another day.

I resisted temptation until this weekend to play them again. Why did I have to resist you ask? Well one of my guilty pleasures is strategy games. I can get COMPLETELY absorbed in them. My world basically stops. Just ask my husband. I once played Diner Dash for 8 hours straight. Yeah. It's that bad.

It's really a trait I get from my dad. He refuses to even own any strategy games because he gets so absorbed. I remember when we were kids we would stay up all night with dad trying to beat the Nintendo Mario series. Dad just had to get the princess before we went to bed. It was so much fun. I still have my old Nintendo but I'm pretty sure that thing hasn't worked in a long, long time. Do you remember having to blow all the dust out of the games and hitting the thing to make the screen stop being shaky? Good times.

Anyways, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to put them away soon in fear that I might become completely unproductive.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm Ready for a Challenge!

During my home reorganization project I have encountered many challenges, mostly involving the questions of "Why do we have this?" "Where am I going to put this?" "Why do we have a bajillion cable cords?" "Do you really need this Michael" (ie: every receipt since 2006, river rocks and shells that he has collected, a coffee can from New Orleans which we can buy at our local Kroger or every school notebook he ever had!), but I now have a bigger challenge. A new mission of a sort you might say. The challenge of "How to use up all the food in my pantry?"

Ridiculous for two people right?

Here is the laundry list of items I have to work with....

  • 7 partial boxes of pasta
  • 8 packages of rice
  • 2 jars of molasses
  • 3 boxes of breadcrumbs
  • 4 boxes of soup mix (corn chowder, french onion, mushroom onion, and vegetable)
  • 2 cans of peaches
  • 1 can of blueberry pie filling
  • 1 can of Eaglebrand milk
  • 1 can of enchilada sauce
  • 2 boxes of pancake mix
  • 3 cans of tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 jar of artichokes
  • 1 can of mixed berries
  • 1 box of dates
  • 1 box of oats
  • 1 box of lemon wafers
  • 1 box of crackers
  • 1 can of peas (which I really think has followed us through at least 2 moves...not big pea fans)
  • 2 jars of salsa
  • 1 can of beef gravy
  • 1 can of chicken stock

Maybe it's just a pet peeve of mine but I really have no need for "backup supplies" in the pantry. It's just forgotten about honestly. It simply sits there and takes up space that I desperately need. So for the next week or so I am challenging myself to use every last thing in that pantry without having to purchase too much else at the grocery store (fresh ingredients and meat of course will be needed).

After this little mission, I do see an immediate future need for a carb detox to take place since we do have 15 partial boxes of grains to get through!!! Ugh. Wish me good luck! Any suggestions of combinations/recipes will be gratefully accepted!

DISCLAIMER: ***This little challenge may or may not have somewhat to do with the fact that tax free weekend is this weekend in TN and I am wanting to go shopping even though I am technically without a job. The husband must be persuaded immediately!***

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's to Eat? Wednesday: Spring Green Risotto

***Edited to Add: Sorry for some reason Mr. Linky was on from last week not this's hopefully fixed now!**

Welcome to What's to Eat? Wednesday! Around here, Wednesday is all about food so if you want to join in just put your site in Mr. Linky below so we can read all about it. Do you need topic ideas? Try these…favorite/worst recipes, kitchen disasters, restaurant experiences, kitchen gadgets, food memories, or dinner parties….really anything about or related to food goes here!

Spring Green Risotto

One of the best things about being unemployed is the time you have to do the things you enjoy. One of the things I most enjoy is obviously cooking. I have been wanting to try a risotto recipe, but just never had the time to do it. They always make them sound so delicious on T.V.! I of course turned to one of my trusty sources, Ina Garten. I think I have about 30 of her episodes on the DVR right now so, be prepared to see more of her recipes around here.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 to 5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 pound thin asparagus
  • 10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted, or 1 1/2 cups shelled fresh peas
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, preferably Italian
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving


Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Yum! It was absolutely delicious! I did make a couple minor changes though. First, I substituted 1jar of marinated artichokes for the fennel because I dislike it's licorice taste. Then I substituted 16oz. of frozen asparagus for the fresh which is what Ina did on her show as well. I just threw it all in frozen, no defrosting.

Mine ended up taking a lot longer than she said it would, but I think it was my fault. I wasn't familiar with what exactly it was supposed to look like and assumed it would be a little less liquidy than it actually was due to the rice releasing it's starchiness. This recipe was also my first experience with leeks and let me tell you - they are a keeper! Basically just a mild onion flavor for those of you who also haven't tried them. I did have to google how to prepare them lol. Anyways - try this recipe. It's awesome!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Going with the Flow

It's amazing how quickly things can change. Some things change due to the decisions you make and some things change without you even having a choice. Either way, I feel like it's always hard to deal with.

It's always strange to me to look back on my life and think about the way things could have been and how they actually turned out. Not saying things are for the worst by any means, just different than what I originally thought it might be like. I use to try to plan my life out in my mind when I was younger and no matter what, life always surprised me. There was always some twist I couldn't see coming or when I had thought I had prepared for the "worst case scenario" something different came out to slap me in the face.

I have come to realize that when it comes to life you have to just go with the flow. There will always be something unexpected to trip you up and you have to be able to change and adjust. Life goes on.

I think I have just come to a point in life where I have no idea what is going to happen next. I have no plan. I have no grand scheme. I only have a vague idea of what I want to happen in the future. This would have scared the shit out of me not too long ago, but for now I am embracing it in hopes that I will see things more clearly and be able to adjust a little better in the future.
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