Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Peacefulness of Snow and Ice

We spent this weekend mostly playing outdoors, enjoying the scenery, and coming in and filling ourselves up with warm food. Thought I would share these images with you to enjoy that I took around town.

Click to enlarge!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snow Update and A Book Review: The Lovely Bones

First of all, I must update you all on this massive blizzard of snow and ice we are supposed to be having. Here is a picture as of 11:30AM CST.

Disastrous right?

Anyways, I thought I would let you all know that I made my way successfully through the grocery store yesterday without incident. They were almost out of 2% milk and eggs, but I managed to find some. We won't be starving if this does eventually turn into the winter storm that the weathermen have been talking up.

Now, onto the book review....

Go and get this book. It is simply amazing! It will keep your interest the whole time and I can't wait to see the movie.

This story is about the death and afterlife of Susie Salmon. It follows her to her heaven where she follows both her grieving family, her friends, and her killer. I have to say it was very interesting to watch her go through her own stages of grief even in her afterlife. It was something I never really thought about possibly happening.

She watches her sister grow up and do all the things she will never get the chance to experience herself. She also watches her dad try to track down her killer and her mom run from the whole situation.

I won't say anything else because I don't want to ruin it for you, but I think it is a book definitely worth reading. Check it out! I know I can't wait to read some more from Alice Sebold myself!


I might have cursed the weathmen too soon! Look at the difference that 15 minutes made!
11:45AM CST

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heading Out with the Masses

This morning I am up early to head to the store. Storms are on their way supposedly with lots of ice. In this small town, that means no bread and no milk is to be had within at least 3 days of this news.

I normally do not participate in this little charade that the weathermen drag us into considering we NEVER get enough snow to actually deter vehicles from being on the road, but ice we do get. And ice scares me.

(Ice from last weeks hail storm)

So today I am heading out with to join the masses of probably mostly senior citizens to visit our already small and under supplied grocery store. I can't imagine being stuck over the weekend in this house with absolutely nothing.

Wish me good luck as I head out into the cramped grocery aisles with a crowd of slow moving, unaware, uncaring if they block your way, must talk to everyone folks. I'm hoping I don't have a panic attack. This will surely be a time to put my happiness and patience to the test!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What's to Eat? Wednesday: Raspberry Marble Cheesecakes

I made these for Michael's birthday this year per his request out of my Martha Stewart Cupcake book. They are the perfect size for people to just pick up and snack on. Watch out though. They are addictive.

Raspberry Marble Cheesecakes


1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 12 sheets; use a mini chopper or food processor)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups plus 5 tablespoons sugar

1 container (6 ounces) fresh raspberries

2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Stir together ground graham crackers, butter, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Press 1 tablespoon crust mixture firmly into bottom of each lined cup. Bake until set, about 5 minutes. Transfer tins to a wire rack to cool.

Process raspberries in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pass puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pressing with a flexible spatula to remove as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Whisk in 2 tablespoons sugar.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in a steady stream. Add salt and vanilla; mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each.

Spoon 3 tablespoons filling over crust in each cup. Dollop 1/2 teaspoon raspberry puree in a few dots over each. With a wooden skewer or toothpick, swirl sauce into filling. Place each tin in a roasting pan (bake in batches, if necessary); pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of cups.

Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until filling is set, 27 to 30 minutes. Carefully remove tins from water bath and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate in tins, uncovered, at least 4 hours (or out of tins up to 5 days in airtight containers). Remove from tins just before serving.

Yields: 32

15 Simple Things that Make Me Happy

Funny as it might be I had already typed out this post for today when I discovered I had been given an award from the lovely Short Southern Mama! (Awards also make me happy!)

List 10 things that make you happy. (Try to do one of those things today!) Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day. Make sure to link back to the person who tagged you!

  1. A bright, sunny room

  2. Being able to take my time cooking and being able to fully enjoy the peace, happiness, and fullfillment it can bring

  3. Dairy Queen blizzards

  4. A long bath where I can recollect my thoughts

  5. When Lola cuddles

  6. Reading a good book with a nice cup of coffee

  7. Being efficient when needed while being able to take my time and just enjoy when I can

  8. Making lists

  9. A phone call from my husband saying he's on his way home

  10. A clean house

  11. A warm summer night

  12. Organization

  13. Chatting over a glass of wine (or 2)

  14. Feeling productive

  15. Thinking about the future

Tell me one simple thing that makes you happy and collect your award!

Also check out her blog for a special giveaway and you might just walk away with one of these!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Journey to Happiness

I'm taking my New Years resolutions seriously this year. I did well with them last year and it made a vast improvement in my life and I'm hoping for the same this year. I know it seems a little late in the game to still be talking about them, but I finally figured out a way to track my progress and hold myself accountable.

This year I pledged to be a happier person. In order to be a happier person I feel like I need to figure out just what it is that makes me happy. I recently came across a blog for The Happiness Project and while I still haven't gotten the book it has given me the idea to do something like that myself.

I've always been an introspective person and this project just fits me. I am going to start posting about what it is that makes me happy. I'll write about what I learn, how it's improved my life, and what I need to work on. I'll be keeping a list on my sidebar of posts that pertain to my journey to happiness.

I'm excited to watch this project unfold and really start working for me. Hope you have fun following along!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Case of the Yuck

Ok so I meant for the book review post to be for today and this post to be for yesterday, but what can you do? Sometimes you lose track of dates and things come up. Like a stomach virus from h-e-double hockey sticks.
Thankfully it wasn't me that had the virus...just Michael. Poor thing he has been out of work all week and as much as I love him, I think I'm ready for him to go back. We had 4 straight days of vomiting and other loveliness (including the dog...sympathy sickness I suppose).

Let's just say I'm not a very good caretaker. It's not my thing. When I'm sick I just want someone to bring me my meds and then leave me alone to deal with it. Michael wants babying. I don't do babying. It took him 2 hours to eat 1 cracker...2 HOURS!!!! 6 hours to drink half a Gatorade. This was while we were trying to cure his severe dehydration.

It was torture (and a learning process) - for both of us.

Anyways, all is back to normal now. Everyone survived and it's time to get back to business as usual.

Monday was Michael's birthday...which we only slightly celebrated due to the virus. We had actually gone back to our old condo over the weekend and then got stuck there for the rest of the week which left me with no fun birthday stuff to do for him! I did manage to make him a birthday cake out of Krispy Kreme Crullers though.

Creative, huh?

So this weekend we are going to really celebrate. Dinner out with the in-laws and my dad, yummy mini raspberry cheescakes for the birthday boy, and maybe a little shopping. Maybe I can make up for my terrible caretaking skills!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review: The Reader

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink was something that I have been looking forward to reading for sometime now. If you haven't already heard of the storyline through the movie previews I will give you a brief synopsis.

The setting is Germany and the time period is about 10 years after WWII. A boy of 15 named Michael meets a woman twice his age named Hanna. They develop a relationship that mostly consists of a daily ritual of her bathing him, having sex, and him reading to her.

The relationship doesn't last too long before she disappears. He can never seem to get her off his mind and wonders about what happened to her. A few years later he finds her in a courtroom where she is being accused of her actions she took as a guard in a concentration camp.

I have yet to see the movie, but I have the feeling that it might be the one time I actually enjoy the movie more. What I have told you so far is basically what is shown in the preview for the movie and it consists of two thirds of the content of the book.

This book is short (only about 200 pages) and I believe that is ultimately my problem with it. I wanted more. I felt like it was just an overview. It didn't go in depth enough for me. At the same time though I could see how it would make more of an impact as a movie.

The book is maybe a little too subtle, a little to vague. I will have to watch the movie soon because I'm dying to see it play out on film. I believe I will have more of a connection with it that way. For once, I think the movie will have more detail than the book.

I'd love to hear your opinions of the book or the movie if you have seen or read it. I'm curious to know if I'm the only one that feels this way.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Review: Sickened

Sickened by Julie Gregory is a horrifying true story about growing up with a mother who has Munchausen by Proxy which is defined as "a relatively uncommon condition that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illness or symptoms by a primary caretaker. One of the most harmful forms of child abuse, MBPS was named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th-century German dignitary known for telling outlandish stories." (source)

This book seriously had my stomach churning and my skin crawling. It is constant abuse from start to finish. It is unfathomable to me that something like this can actually exist. Julie's mother constantly drugged her child and had her nose stuck in medical books to think up new symptoms dragging Julie from doctor to doctor and having countless invasive procedures performed on her child.

She was abused by the MBPS as well as other physical and emotional abuse. She was denied a childhood and her confidence in herself. She was forced to abuse others and be her mothers source of support. Her journey is long and painful but in the end she does dig herself out.

Although this book was painful to read it was something I finished in 2 days because her story held my complete interest from start to finish.

I am on a search for new books and kinda want to branch out of the ones I normally read. What are your suggestions? Thanks!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Make My Day - Delurk Yourself

There couldn't be a better day than today for it to be National Delurker Day. (It sounds so official). I was perusing my blog list and hoping that I would come up with an idea to blog about myself when I stopped by Classy Chaos and saw this...

Perfect. I have a good amount of followers now, but not all of you comment. I'd like you to show your face and make my day! I love comments and would like to invite you to say hello!

You can tell me a little about yourself, what you like about my blog, suggest improvements/ideas, ask me questions, tell me where you blog, or just say hi if you don't feel like doing any of that!

So....go ahead....DELURK!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's to Eat? Wednesday: Peach Glazed Ham

This is yummy. Seriously. And it will last you a week for sandwiches and such. This recipe is from The Neely's off the Food Network. You won't be disappointed.

Peach Glazed Ham


3 cups peach nectar
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, smashed
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup brown sugar
1 (14-pound) precooked ham (half this and still there will be enough for weeks)
3 whole peaches (I used 2 cans with the juice)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium saucepan, simmer together peach nectar, ginger, lemon juice, and garlic cloves. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain out ginger and garlic.

Prepare ham for glaze. Rub Dijon mustard and then brown sugar on the ham.

Pour glaze on bottom of pan and throw in sliced peaches for additional peach flavor.

Place ham in oven for 1 1/2 hours. Every 10 to 20 minutes glaze ham with the glaze from bottom of pan to keep moist.

Ham is the forgotten meat isn't it? Switch it up and try this!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Congratulations to Me! (and those listed below...)

It's award time again and I have two to share! Awards a good time to share a little about myself and it's probably good timing because I have quite a few new readers who are probably wondering just who the heck I am.

So here we go....
The first one is from Risley over at Adventures of The Wilkinsons. Thanks Risley!

  1. Thank the person who gave it to you.
  2. Link the person who gave it to you.
  3. Keep it going and give it to whomever you would like.
  4. Answer this...If money were not an issue what would be the top three things on your wish list?

Wish List

  • My own personal hair, make-up and clothes stylist so I would look fabulous everyday and never have to worry about a thing!
  • A very long trip to Europe where I could have enough time to see everything I want to see and do everything I want to do.
  • A Starbucks barista right in my house so I could have it everyday! Oh and while we are wishing, I wish that Starbucks would have 0 calories with all the taste and to be considered healthy for you.

And the award goes to...

This lovely award was given to me by Katie F. over at The Life of an Army Wife. Thanks Katie!

  1. To accept this award you must post it on your blog with the name of the person who granted you the award and link back to them.
  2. Pass the award on to approximately 15 other bloggers that you recently discovered and think are great.
  3. Contact the bloggers and let them know they have been chosen for the award.
  4. (I made this one up) List 3 things you would like to learn how to do.

I'd Like to Learn....

  • How to take beautiful pictures with my new camera and learn all of it's settings and what they mean.
  • How to entertain effortlessly.
  • How to be more patient and to trust that everything will work out how it's supposed to.
And the award goes to....
  1. Risley @ Adventures of The Wilkinsons
  2. Laura and Ryan @ Our Crazy Adventure
  3. Katie @ Loves of Life
  4. Taylor @ Jimmy Choos and a Baby Too
  5. Katherine Anne @ Medical School Mrs.
  6. Jane @ Wishful Thinking
  7. Julia @ My Life in Transition
  8. Melissa @ Lovely Little Life
  9. Danielle @ The Dani Daily
  10. Bodaat @ Bodaat...Blogging One Day at a Time

Shew...that's enough linking for one day! (You have my permission to stop at 10 as well!) Check these people out! They are awesome!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Currently Loving: My Yearbook

I know photo books aren't a new concept, but I absolutely love them. My husband and I tend to take a lot of pictures. We never order them unless they are going in a specific frame. I just simply don't have the space to keep a bunch of loss pictures or large photo albums. So at the end of every year I make a photo book (our yearbook) of all the best pictures from everything we did that year.

This year I added a page in the front that is a summary of everything that happened in a particular month.

I personally use Kodak Gallery (click link for their special promotion of 80 pages for the price of 20) for storing and printing all my pictures, but there are several other sites out there that do just as well I'm sure.

There are a ton of different covers to pick from and multiple layouts.

On the back of the book I always put a quirky photo to sum up the year. This year was our year old wedding cake.

Haven't I inspired you to stop ordering all those pesky prints and make a photo book instead? Go on, I know you want to!

P.S. From now on I will have a photo on my side bar of what I'm "Currently Loving". I'll update it...well....whenever I want. Click the pic and it will take you to the source!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book Review: Naked

One thing I'm going to try to do better at this year is remembering to do book reviews. So here is the first one of the year. I honestly just closed the book and decided to go right into the book review so I wouldn't forget.

Naked by David Sedaris is definitely an interesting one. It's actually a memoir...a very colorful one to say the least. It is a combination of what I would call short stories and to be honest that would be the only negative part. I like things to come full circle and to all go together in chronological order, but this one just didn't do that.
It did however, keep me very entertained. It would make the perfect book for someone to read that maybe doesn't have a lot of time to get fully involved. You can read a chapter, set it down, and come back whenever you feel and pick up where you left off.
David Sedaris's writing is like that crazy Uncle that always tells the wildest stories. If you enjoy listening to those then you will like reading these. I don't know if I'll be running out to buy his other books right away, but I definitely see myself reading them one day.
Click on over to amazon and read the first sentence. It will give you the idea of his humor that continues non stop throughout this book.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Predictions for the Next Decade

It has been ages since I have participated in Mama Kat's Writing Assignment! But today seems like a wonderful day to start back seeing as how it's the first one of the year.

Today's Topic: "What do you predict will happen this decade?"

Okay, let's 2020 I will be 35 almost 36.........EEEKS! That's almost 40. Time goes by way too freaking fast doesn't it?

By 36 I plan to have a lot accomplished. My husband and I will be settled into our 3rd home which will be our "raise kids and grow old together" home. Speaking of kids...I'll have 4 all under double digit numbers.

Our lives will be filled of art projects, practices and running around. The house will be a constant whirlwind of chaos and I'll be complaining of not having any free time. I'll spend most of my day cooking, cleaning, and being a chauffeur. I'm sure I'll be wondering why we decided to have 4 kids in the first place, but secretly I'll be loving the chaos.

My husband and I will be running around like crazy trying to keep up with the kids. We will steal away to exotic locations on our anniversaries, but take many adventurous (and probably sometimes torturous) trips with our children to explore more areas of our own country. We will try to do beach trips as well as educational ones and hopefully they will appreciate it someday. (Now that I read this I'm thinking this paragraph will probably be something we will be looking forward to not actually doing since they are all under the age of 10 and that's just crazy!)

As to what the rest of the world will be up to in 2020? I have no idea and I probably still won't know in 2020 because I'll be too focused on my own life to care (or let's face it, have time to care) about what's going on outside of it.

What's to Eat? Wednesday: Bacon, Onion & Mushroom Pizza

I'll go ahead and get this part out there....there is no sauce to this pizza. WHAT??? Yes, there is no sauce and it is still absolutely delicious. I promise you won't miss it. This is the same promise I made to my dad last night as he was hovering over me while I cooked.

It's a new routine me and my dad have. He is chomping at the bit (one of the reasons there are no pictures of my food on this blog anymore) and turning up his nose at my "adventurous" food choices.

My rule has always and will always will eat what I cook or go hungry. If you don't like my cooking....cook something for yourself.

He eats what I cook. And to date has always liked what I cooked. (Knock on wood)

The reason I picked pizza with no sauce is because it's low calorie - 316 calories for 2 pieces to be exact. That's pretty good huh?

I don't know how many calories mine ended up being though since I increased the bacon and switched the type of mushrooms. Not to mention that in a weak moment of sugar deprivation I also decided to go to Dairy Queen for a small Caramel Sundae with Marshmallow topping. Oh well.

Recipe is from Cooking Light.

Bacon, Onion & Mushroom Pizza


1 (11 ounce) can refrigerated French Bread Dough

2 teaspoons yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups vertically sliced onions (about 2 small)

1 (8-oz) pkg presliced cremini mushrooms (I used portabella)

1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded white cheddar cheese (I used Italian cheese and some left over Gouda)

6 bacon slices, cooked and coarsely crumbled (I used the whole pack...whoops!)

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (Can anyone ever find the flat??? I only find curly and leave it out!)


1. Find lengthwise seam in dough. Beginning at seam, gently unroll dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Stretch dough into a 12-inch circle (I left mine in a rectangle since I couldn't figure out how this is possible) on a lightly floured surface; transfer to a pizza pan or large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. (The cornmeal is delicious and so is the french bread dough taste).

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. (I cooked the bacon first and left a little grease in the pan and nixed the olive oil) Add onion; saute 8 minutes stirring occasionally. Place cooked onion in a bowl. Add mushrooms to pan; saute 8 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Add mushrooms to onion mixture; toss. Spread onion mixture evenly over prepared dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and bacon. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Sprinkle with parsley. Cut into 12 wedges.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

At the Moment

Lola and I went out for a walk today and it got me thinking about the future and what's to come. I realized that I am always thinking about the next thing which can be a good thing, but I tend to overlook the good in the here and now. So here are some reasons why I am content at the moment...

  1. I have a loving husband who is excited about our future together.

  2. Living with our parents has made us more comfortable with who they are and how each side of our family works.

  3. I am trying to appreciate my free time because I never know when it might come around again.

  4. I have a husband who reassures me when I start to fall apart.

  5. I am starting to see that it's better to focus on those who love you and care for you instead of worrying about those who don't (and that, my friends, is a relief!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Direction

It's time.

It's the first of the year and it is time for me to get my behind the heck out of limbo. There are a lot of things I can't control in my life at the moment which is just how it goes sometimes, but there are some things that I can and I plan on taking hold of the reins.

I need to lose like 15 pounds.
I need to find something to do.
I need to wrap up some projects that have been hanging over my head.

I think I'm going to take care of that last one first. I'm ready to be completely rid of anything that resembles 2009. It's time to wrap everything up and begin completely fresh!

My husband and I had a planning session last night, can you tell? We have big plans which will all come about in due time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Champagne Wishes and Black-Eyed Peas Delicious

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe New Years Eve! Ours was wonderful. We went out with a few friends to a scrumptious 5 course meal including steak medallions and fried lobster tail...yum! And of course we enjoyed the traditional glass (or two, or three...I mean who's counting) of champagne.

After sleeping in entirely too long we ate the traditional good luck food of black-eyed peas and hog jowl. I do have to say that this years black-eyed peas turned out much better than last years which we barely managed to choke down a spoonful.
Easy Black-Eyed Peas
1 (16 ounce) pkg frozen black-eyed peas
3 cups water
2 large beef bouillon cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces kielbasa sliced, browned, and drained
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes or until tender. (For me...the longer you cook beans the better!)
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