Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Do you watch Chopped on food network? It's one of the shows I always record to watch while I'm on the treadmill. I love it and I've learned a lot watching it.... it does, however, scare my boys.

I hate to waste food. I save even the tiniest bits of stuff knowing that it isn't going to be enough for a dish. These little goodies stay hidden in the depths of the refrigerator and pantry until I come across a few of them and go... "hey, I have an idea!!"

My concoctions never have names, it's usually "cleaned out the fridge salad" or "went through the pantry casserole". Some work out, some do not. Tonight was one that did work, I'm happy to say. I kinda thought it might, so decided to take a few pictures - so here is a typical "Nick's cleaning on the pantry/fridge salad".
This was 1/4 of a bag of baby spinach, there is a jar with a few Kalamata olives left in it, the blue lid jar is a Danish feta cheese that is marinated in oil with spices and herbs, there's a little chunk of Parmesan cheese and a few yellow baby tomatoes. What you don't see is a pot on the stove cooking the almost 1 cup of macaroni noodles I found (again not enough for a whole dish for us all).

The spinach was torn up a bit and the feta cheese and it's oil poured over the top. The oil is the base for the dressing. The tomatoes and olives were halved and thrown in and the Parmesan cheese was shaved and then chunked. I added a little of the olive juice to cut the oil a bit. The pasta was rinsed in cold water, drained and added. After tasting it (several times- you know, just to be sure....) - all I added was a little lemon juice and some lemon pepper.
Looks pretty tasty? A dish out of almost nothing. Love it!!

This little gem is the feta cheese. We first had it in Iceland and fell in love and for years couldn't find anything close. This is imported from Denmark and is very close to what we had. Keep an eye out and soon I'll show you what I'm going to make out of this cute little jar :0)

Addicted to Chocolate!

Addicted to chocolate... on Twitpic
I saw this posted on FB the other day and laughed. Then I started thinking - that person is crazy! What is chocolate if not that first wonderful bite, the silky smoothness as it melts over your tongue and coats all your taste buds in heavenly velvet. I would be skinny if I could chose whether or not to let food pass beyond my mouth and into my throat - because once it's there I really don't care about it anymore other than wondering where it's going to eventually land (my hips, stomach, thighs, .....). Once it's left my mouth I'm looking for that next hit to my taste buds again, regardless of if I'm hungry still. Maybe this person isn't injecting it in, but sucking it out? Don't get me started on coffee......

Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekly Menu

Happy Memorial Day! I am definitely grilling today. The pork chops I did last time turned out so good we are going for round two! Looks like most of this week's dinners will be done out on the grill except for our sammie night - that'll be done mostly in the crockpot.

Last night was leftover taco stuff - turned into tacos salads and of course banana splits for dessert (although a bit more reserved this time!)

Grilled chops, smashed potatoes and zucchini

Corned Beef Sammies with pasta salad

Fish Tacos

Thursday night out on the town - who knows?!

Quick stir fry (Yakisoba)

Remember on Memorial Day

Remember them.....
1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France... A total of 2289
2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium... A total of 5329
3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France... A total of 4410 
4. Brookwood, England - American Cemetery... A total of 468
5. Cambridge, England... A total of 3812 
6. Epinal, France - American Cemetery... A total of 5525 
7. Flanders Field, Belgium... A total of 368
8. Florence, Italy... A total of 4402 
9. Henri-Chapelle, Belgium... A total of 7992
10. Lorraine , France... A total of 10,489 
11. Luxembourg, Luxembourg... A total of 5076 
12. Meuse-Argonne... A total of 14246
13. Netherlands, Netherlands... A total of 8301
14.  Normandy, France... A total of 9387
15. Oise-Aisne, France... A total of 6012 
16. Rhone, France... A total of 861
17. Sicily, Italy... A total of 7861
18. Somme, France... A total of 1844 
19. St. Mihiel, France... A total of 4153 
20.  Suresnes, France... A total of 1541 

Apologize to no one.
Remind those of our sacrifice and don't 
confuse arrogance with leadership.
The count is
dead, brave Americans. 

And we have to watch an

American elected leader who
apologizes to Europe and the
Middle East that our country is "arrogant"!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Okay, yeah, it's recycling... but fancy.

I've had this shelf thing for years.

It's dark wood and sectioned with a glass lid over the top. I think I got it at the Ikea in Iceland and had plans for it... Well, since I've moved it at least twice now I couldn't just ""get rid of it". I think it was in the kitchen section and was made to hold spices or something. Maybe in the office section.... who knows! Anyway, I had planned to hang it up to store my rubber stamps in - well anyone who knew about my rubber stamp collection would be on the floor rolling. I'd need about 100 of these. It has glass over the top with a hole to use to open it, but it sticks and doesn't slide smoothly (I'm pretty sure I bought it in the clearance room).

So I'm cleaning up my craft room and came across this gem. I'm looking around at everything trying to come up with some good reason why I need to keep this. Then it hits me!! It's not for me, I've been holding onto it for AJ. So I installed hangers on the back and removed the glass completely (I'm saving it to use for my cutting table). Sorry the picture is a bit blurry, AJ loves it and is excited to get everyone in there just right (this was a quick demo picture - not even half of his collection).

And I'm looking forward to not stepping on Lego heads! (See, Honey, I knew we were moving and storing this for a reason :0)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Has Facebook changed your life?

No, seriously. I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how my life is better because of Facebook. (No, this is not a paid advertisement :0)

Now, I'm talking Facebook and not just the internet/www. We started with AOL and email back in 1994 and it was amazing, but it didn't really change my life much other than making it more instantaneous to connect with people. My letters to Brian overseas went much much faster! Basically though, I emailed pretty much the same people I would have called or sent handwritten letters, and so many people didn't have email that I continued to do that for most of our family anyway.

After the 1990's we were in Iceland (2000-2003) and email became a much bigger deal then. Letters took way too long and phone calls were expensive. Plus, to have a taste of home we began using the web more. We googled a lot  for information, tv shows, and even ventured into Myspace briefly. My email list got larger and I had quite a few people following my emails about our adventures on The Rock.

Facebook, however, has blown all that out of the water. I love it. I couldn't imagine my life without it. I am a voyeur by nature; I love to read journals and letters written by other people and I love going through other people's photo albums and medicine cabinets. Now I can do it all from the comfort of my little netbook!

I find I am 'friends' with many more people than I would normally have the energy to maintain contact with. Now, I say 'friends' because they're mostly acquaintances - people who I know and who have a general knowledge of me mostly based on a past vague relationship of circumstances or geography. I may not know much about them, but I truly do care and find their lives almost as fascinating as my own. :0) I enjoy knowing what is going on in their lives and don't mind giving them a peek into mine. I may not have the energy or want to go out of my way to meet up with them in person, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy our brief time together online.

I love that I can keep up with so many people from my school days. There are quite a few I even wish that I lived closer to so we could have a real relationship that was more than a few lines of type and pictures posted.

I love that I can keep up with the friends we've made while in the military. We have all moved on from the places we may have originally met, I think without Facebook I would have lost the energy long ago to keep track of the additional moves and addresses of each one.

I love that I have reconnected with some of my family. I have relationships with cousins now that would probably never have surfaced without Facebook. We were not in contact sometimes because of age differences, but mostly distance from each other and opportunity to get together. I love that I can seen into what their lives are like and have found we have much more in common than just our blood lines.

I love that I feel more connected to our families. I love seeing pictures, reading their random thoughts and knowing what's going on in their lives. I like that I can respond to something said in just a few short sentences and then I know that they know that I was right there with them at that brief moment.

I love that I can now learn more about the people in my life who matter to me. I can read what my nieces and nephews are thinking and going through, teenagers who normally would not want me eavesdropping! :0)

I love that we can connect over things both silly and serious. A post about a tragedy, a rib about a football score, a joke, music videos/lyrics, a request for prayer. It all means so much in my day to day life now, I can't imagine life without it.

My nephew posted on his Facebook page awhile back that he had walked away and couldn't believe he left his computer window open with Facebook still logged on. I responded back.....

                                                                  "You can log off of Facebook??"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Recycle Me!!

In cleaning out my craft room lately I've come to the realization that I am a natural recycler. My husband would say that I just can't throw anything away - but that seems a bit harsh. I just see the potential in everything!!

I posted earlier about my container addiction, and this seems to just be a continuation of that theme on a broader scale. I keep cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, tea boxes - anything with good sturdy cardboard that can be reused. Metal of any kind also finds its way into my stash, plastic cups that can be used for sorting things or to hold water for painting, I've NEVER thrown out a button knowingly. You get the idea - in all things I can see a potential for something else - now, if only I had the time and will to make it from potential into practical.

My friend Cathy posted a challenge on a yahoo group to make a tag using mainly recycled items. Yea!! A chance to dig into my stash!! She is holding a contest and will be putting the projects up on her blog soon. I'll be sure and post the link once she does. I found an old keychain that I had laying around and a juice can lid and decided to go from there. Here is a picture of the items I started with:
 a sale paper, a triscuit box, a sheet of use coarse sandpaper, a large paint chip, a green card from a florist, a funky metal button, a juice can lid, and a key chain from an Indian school in Montana. I ended up not using the green florist card and here is the tag I ended up with:

I love it when I can actually turn trash into treasure! Thanks for the challenge, Cathy, and keeping me on my toes!! Now I need to go tackle a project I've been meaning to get done for AJ's room, more to come on that one!

The Hive

If you've ever come to stay with us you'd know I have a thing for bees, you could say that "I think they're the bees knees".

I didn't start out collecting bees. I started out with a love (that continues to this day) of all things Winnie-the-Pooh. Disney's version is okay, E.H. Shepard's version is far superior in every way! This:
Not this:

I am a huge fan of A.A. Milne and the classic English versions of Pooh. I began collecting when I was very young, back then the only Pooh items to be found were Disney's version. I had the books and drawings of the original, but not much else. As I got older, more and more the classic version came into style and I was in heaven!! It was more expensive and still not quite as easy to find - but it was out there.

Then something happened - both versions became easy to find everywhere and everyone knew I loved Pooh Bear! I got Winnie-the-Pooh everything!! I loved it all and wanted to show them all off. But he soon began to take over the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room and when he began to wander his way into my kitchen I was done! I went through everything, and saved only my oldest and most precious of items. The rest, I'm sad to say, moved on.

Now, I still loved my dear old bear, but had no more room! Then I began to notice his bees. He has the cutest little bee friends. In the early drawings they are mostly just scribbled, and Disney gave them military personalities. They seem to be drawn in a ton of various ways - but always so cute!! And so my new collection began. Bees!!

These days my bees live in our guest room which is decorated somewhat like an English Garden. The walls are green, there are flowers all around, English tea cups and tons of bees. This is one shelf with a few cuties on it. My husband is happy that they've finally settled into a hive and are not buzzing all around the house anymore -----

although, they are dressed as Steeler Fans so I don't know what the problem is!?!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it....

No, not more talk about the rapture. I referring to the fact that SCHOOL'S OUT for summer, school's out forever... okay, not forever - but the song just had to be sung.

Summer starts. I'm looking forward to the relaxed schedule, well - a little more relaxed. My kid's calendar is already full! Between camping trips, summer science program, fine arts program, a week with Grandma, a trip to CA, the cub scout's summer program..... well, we'll try and schedule some down time in there somewhere.

Our summer's definitely require a schedule. It seems like it would be better without one, not having anything planned, but we miss too much if we do that. I don't like sleeping in during the summer, that's the only part of the day when it isn't incredibly hot outside (or in my craft room). So I'll continue to get up at my normal time. I also need to be better about my menu plan. I have to know in the morning what's for dinner that night - as I hate grilling frozen food. My BBQ is in for a workout for sure!!

On thing we will be working on this summer is our writing. Both of us. AJ's penmanship leaves quite a lot to be desired. He can do a great job if he slows down and takes his time, but if he wants to get something done quickly he reverts back to old bad habits and it's just a big ol' mess. For myself, I was writing out something the other day and realized that I have really not been keeping up with my calligraphy. I found my supplies while cleaning up the craft room and sat down to look at some old attempts I had made. I really need to practice more. So we'll be working together!

I'm hoping somewhere in our "lazy summer days" we'll find time for the pool, play dates with friends, trips to the movie theater, library and bowling alley. How's your schedule looking? Ya wanna come over and play??

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weekly menu

Okay, this is another one of those weird weeks. AJ wanted cupcakes to take for the last week of school (he has a summer birthday so we try to do something fun before school is out). I got online and was looking at all kinds of cool designs for these cupcakes. I showed him a couple and asked what he wanted. He wanted chocolate cake, chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Really?? Oh well, I guess easy is good sometimes.

I did forget how good homemade chocolate cake and real chocolate frosting was though - heaven!! It's a good thing all but two ended up going to school.

Dinners this week:

Grilled tilapia, shrimp skewers, veggie kabobs (yellow peppers, zucchini, onion, mushrooms) and jasmine rice.

Chicken strips, garlic smashed potatoes (brown rice for AJ) gravy, corn and apricot halves

Shrimp and crab ravioli, garlic bread, romaine salad with strawberries

Pork spareribs, green beans, mushrooms, (potatoes?)

Taco night with friends, banana splits for dessert to celebrate the start of summer!!

Crafting ADD

I wish I was one of those talented people who did one thing and did it superbly. My mom is one of those people, she does woodworking - she had many other talents and can pretty much do anything well (crochet, knit, painting, gardening, designing) but where she excels is at woodworking. She creates her own patterns, uses every kind of saw imaginable and then sands, paints, etc. until she has a project of excellence. She enjoys doing it and so it isn't a chore, but a labor of love. If she could, she'd probably spend most days in her shop and covered in sawdust.

I inherited part of that, I am a jack-of-all-trades kinda gal. I can see something and usually figure out how to do it, not as good as the original - but close enough for me! Unfortunately, I have to try everything!! I see something and think,"hmmm - wonder how they did that, looks like fun". So I give it a shot. Not just a little shot though, nope, I go all-in.

I decided to try knitting and crocheting when I was younger, instead of getting one pattern and one set of needles and the yarn for the project. I got the sets. I have sets of knitting needles, a full set of crochet hooks - skeins and skeins of yarn, printed up oodles of patterns.... you get the idea. I then found I don't really have the attention span and attention to detail required.

I decided once to try cross-stitch. Did I get a pre-assembled kit? Nope. I got a kit, plus blank canvas and the books and sets of needles and 1 skein of every color of embroidery floss. Do I like cross-stitch? Not at all. I'm good at it, I just don't have patience for anything larger than the size of a 50 cent piece!

And on and on it goes. I've got the stuff for polymer clay, friendly plastic, quilting, sewing, silk ribbon embroidery, tole painting, jewelry making, general crafting, felt crafts, beaded ornaments, art journals, altered books, scrapbooking, card making, cake decorating, mosaics, stamp carving, rubber stamping, paper making, altered art, fabric painting, knitting, crocheting, and cross stitch. Yep, I have it all.

I've taught jewelry making, beading, card making/rubber stamping, art journaling, scrapbooking and silk ribbon embroidery. Those seems to be the things that I keep going back to over and over again - but for limited amounts of time before once again, I move on. I think it's having students who keep it fresh so I don't bore myself to death. Anyone want to learn silk ribbon embroidery?? I have all the stuff.....

I need a 12 step program!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

It couldn't last

It's finally happened. I knew it was coming, it was only a matter of time. I held it off for as long as I could, but I can't anymore, it was inevitable.

My husband has introduced my son  to wrestling! AAARRRGGGHHHH! I can't stand wrestling. The whole thing is ridiculous. The fake fighting, the outrageous posturing, and the "commentary" makes me vomit in my mouth. When we got married it was understood that I was to be nowhere in the same zip code if he was going to watch wrestling. I had watched soap operas (very briefly during middle school) and so we made a deal. I wouldn't watch those and he wouldn't watch WWE, WWF, or whatever acronym they were using at the time. I felt they were pretty much the same. Lame!!

It started with a new video game for the PS3, it has the old guys my hubby grew up with as well as some of the newer ones. AJ thought it was hilarious but hadn't ever seen in performed by live people on TV. I resisted for as long as I could. Brian loves football which is fine with me, AJ however, doesn't find it very entertaining and only lasts for a couple of downs before heading off to do his own thing. I knew that wrestling would be something they could enjoy together, bond over - and so I caved and suggested it. Yep, I did it to myself.

All I ask is that I'm not in the same zip code while the male bonding commences!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Contain it!

I'm cleaning out my craft room - yea, horrors!! Actually, the job is going much better than I thought for one simple reason ... I love containers!!

I have found the about half of the containers I've opened to clean out are empty or - contain more containers!! I found a cardboard box, filled with smaller cardboard boxes - I have entire plastic bins filled with tins of all shapes and sizes, but with nothing in them. (Tell me someone who can throw out one of those cute altoid tins and I'll show you a person with limited vision and imagination.) They are an organizer's gold mine!!

But then there are my not-so-cute containers... I mean really who needs 30 empty VHS cases?? I had a plan, they were going to be used to hold something and be all neatly labeled on a shelf..... just don't remember what that something was now. I have clear clam shell cases taking up huge plastic bins that I've been storing for years! I have no idea what to use them for.... but aren't they too good to throw out? What if I think of the perfect thing to put in them, but they're gone?!? Yes, I have nightmares about such things.

I am trying to be ruthless. I am moving all empty containers out into the AZ room while I organize my craft room. If I find a need for containing something, I go and pick out the perfect one from my own private stash. When I'm done - whatever is leftover will be recycled. Promise. (except for those cute little altoid tins, get real people!!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friendship Bread

Okay - so one of my friends heard me speaking about Amish Friendship Bread (the zucchini of the bread world) and asked me about it. I promised her a bag of goo when I had it ready and then ended up explaining the stuff to someone else as well.

So, if you have never heard of the stuff here's the low down on how it works:

You get a bag of goo from a friend. Inside is a bread starter that needs to ferment for a few days. (basically sugar, yeast, milk, flour...) So your friend gives you the instructions that tells you what to do each day to the goo. Some days you just mush the bag, sometimes you add ingredients, and often you need to let the air/gas out of the bag. On the 10th day you add a bunch of stuff, make other goo bags to give away to more friends and then make a couple of loaves of bread from the goo you have left. Kids love the goo bag and we usually name each batch. Our last batch we named Herman.
"Hey AJ, today we gotta squish Herman."
"AJ, Today we get to feed Herman!"

The bread/cake is HIGHLY addictive and mucho delicioso, but if it's been around your circle of friends more than once - people will begin avoiding you and ignoring your phone calls.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Top 10 before Rapture ~

Okay, jumping on this and going to figure out my top 10 things to do before I'm raptured tomorrow. :0P Oh, yeah... first I'm cashing in all accounts so I have mega funds to work with.

1. Forget about closing our accounts - we've been good and mostly debt free - and since I don't need to worry about interest I'm going to wrack up an obscene amount of debt!!

2. Break into where ever they're holding the last Harry Potter movie and watch it with a big bucket of popcorn with hot tamales mixed in.

3. Obviously I can't read the entire Twilight Saga one more time, so I'll skim it quickly and touch on all my favorite parts. Ditto for all my other favorite books.

4. Order an outrageously expensive Alexandrite and white gold ring. Express shipping.

5. Make a double batch of brownies with dark chocolate chunks mixed in, frosted with chocolate ganache, and eat the entire thing with my favorite B&J ice cream and drinking an extra large yummy coffee.

6. Use up all the art supplies I've been hording because I didn't want to waste them on something that wasn't "perfect".

7. Call everyone I know and see how they're spending their last day!

8. Swim naked in the ocean, giving the sharks one last chance at me.

9. Go shopping and hit all the stores that I find to ridiculously expensive to even enter on a normal day. Hit the salon/spa and get every treatment offered.

10. Spend time playing with my Hubby and son and just chillin'. That sounds like heaven to me.

Hate is such a strong word!

Do you have something in your house that you love - but no one else gets it? I have an "ugly pot collection" which my family loathes. Bringing my husband's attention to the collection can make him visibly shudder in repulsion. I don't get it, but I love using it against him. So, of course, my collection is prominently displayed in my kitchen.
 and this is the one that started it all, it's still my favorite -
This little guy represents my childhood. I am a 70's kid and these are the colors of my youth! The yellow is the color of the house I lived in, I believe you would call it mustard - I called it something much much worse. The avocado green appliances that dominated our small galley kitchen. The burnt orange color that my mother loved and made it's appearance in fabrics, carpeting and those awful large floral wallpaper prints! Back then I longed for neon colors, purples and pinks and detested these colors. Now, I seek them out in dishes, pictures and yes.... even fabric. What color represents your youth?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Weekly Menu

Do you all do a weekly menu? I try, sometimes I succeed. Sometimes, my menu is a vague recollection of ingredients I think I remember seeing in the freezer/pantry. Thankfully, this was not one of those weeks. However - to see what we did this week - you might think I took that approach! There's no flow, no sense to it all - just random meals that I thought sounded good.

We started out the week with a very large batch of chicken salad that was due to the very yummy tray of croissants I bought at Costco. (How I manage to spend almost $300 at Costco and still need to go to the commissary the next day is an issue I'll deal with later!)

So, our first night we weren't very hungry since we had eaten out earlier and dinner was large chicken sandwiches and grapes. The next night I decide that we are having  croissant chicken sammies again, but wanted something to go with it. I had some grape tomatoes that needed to be dealt with and came up with a Greek rice salad.  I had also just gone to the commissary and AJ has been begging for sushi and so we brought some home.  That doesn't keep so it was added to the menu.....

Yep, you read that right. Chicken Croissants, Unagi Maki (eel sushi) and Greek rice salad. Mercy.

The next night was another one where no one was really very hungry so we had quesadillas, mangoes and strawberries.

Last night we had the rest of the Greek rice salad over a Romain lettuce and grilled pork chops. (Impressed my hubby with my mad grilling skills!)

Tonight is Ravioli's brought back from Little Italy in San Diego, CA http://www.assentispasta.com along with Italian peppers and sausage.

Tomorrow is leftover Italian peppers and sausage heated up and served on hoagie buns with a ceasar salad.

Saturday is either going to be fish or Chinese depending on how my day goes. :0)

So, does your menu make a little more sense than mine does? I don't think I could pick a continent to stay with for a whole week, much less the same country! Maybe that will be my next challenge! :0)

Can she stick with it?.....

Probably not. That's just how I am, I like to try things .... and then.... I move onto the next thing. I've stuck with a few things through the years, but I'm sporadic at best! So, once again I'm going to give this blog thing a shot and see where it goes.

The kiddo is getting ready to start his summer vacation and I am hoping that both of us will be on some kind of a schedule - a productive schedule. So I am challenging myself to do this blog and also to do
Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean
I'm starting this on June 1st with some of my wonderful friends! I can't wait. If you'd like to join along, please go get it and let's go!!!

So, I guess that's it for this post. I don't want to overwhelm myself! Now.... time for another cup of coffee? Yes!