Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday Threes.

Okay, this totally spits in the face of last night's healthy dinner post. Last Sunday, my brother offered us a slice of Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory that he had leftover from a party. I thought "I don't really like cheesecake but, okay, Lee and I can take a few bites and then toss it out." People, I licked the plate clean. Thank the Lord we only had one slice. It was without a doubt one of the best desserts I've ever had.  I think I've discovered the dessert I need to help numb the pain celebrate my 40th birthday. Here's the kicker and it will make you laugh and cry at the same time...a single slice of the Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake contains 1250 calories. Leaves you speechless, doesn't it?!


Eric is also responsible for #2 and, thank goodness, this one doesn't add cellulite to your thighs like #1. For years he's been talking about and how it's a great website for keeping track of your finances. I finally gave it a whirl this week and was very impressed with the ease of pulling all of our credit cards and banking information onto one secure website. Now we can see where we spend the bulk of our money (Gas! Groceries!!). For future budgeting, is going to be super helpful. Since I'm a bookkeeper, this stuff gets me all giddy (almost as giddy as I was with the cheesecake).

I'm starving for a little feedback. Please leave comments on my blog. It's no fun talking to myself. Don't know how to leave a comment? Easy -- at the bottom of each posting, it says"no comments" or "1 comment." Click on those words and a window will pop up. Follow the directions in the window - they're fairly self-explanatory. A girl can get real lonely here in cyberland....sniff sniff.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tonight's Dinner Was a Winner

I've been cooking more than usual lately. The recipes I've picked out have been a little out of my comfort zone (usually "drop pasta in boiling water") and have generally been healthier. My expectations for tonight's dinner were pretty low -- it was a recipe I pulled out of Good Housekeeping Magazine. So imagine my surprise when it turned out to be pretty great. "I want to eat this once a week," Lee said. Okay, that's a great sign! The ingredients may sound boring or unappealing but the flavor was truly fabulous; the dish also comes together easily. Just so you know, I don't like olives and only eat raw cauliflower dipped in ranch dressing (ha!) but I really, really liked this dish. I think I've said that enough so onto the recipe:

Chicken with Carmelized Cauliflower & Green Olives

1 head cauliflower (2.5-3 lbs.), trimmed and cut into 1.5-inch chunks
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1.5 lbs. chicken breast tenders, cut into 1.5-inch chunks
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/3 c. pitted green olives, rinsed well
1/4 c. packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus additional for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In 18" by 12" jellyroll pan, combine cauliflower, 2 teaspoons oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper until well mixed. Spread cauliflower in single layer on pan. Roast 20 to 25 minutes or until cauliflower is golden brown.
2. While cauliflower roasts, in large bowl, combine chicken, lemon peel, 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Push cauliflower to one side of pan and arrange chicken in single layer on other side. Roast 10 minutes longer or until chicken just loses its pink color throughout.
3. Meanwhile, in food processor with knife blade attached, pulse almonds until finely ground. Add olives and parsley and pulse until almost smooth. With machine running, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil until it's fully incorporated, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add mixture to pan with hot chicken and cauliflower and stir until well combined. Transfer to serving plates and garnish with additional parsley. 

Lame photo (I was hungry and in a hurry to eat):
(No, I did not serve this to Nate -- I wanted to test it out first. He'll be getting it for dinner soon. The taste was mild enough that I think kids would like it. And see that paper in the upper left corner of the photo? That would be my jury duty summons. Doh!!!)

Serves 4. Each serving: 360 calories, 45 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 15 g total fat, 6 g fiber, 99 mg cholesterol, 660 mg sodium

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Threes.

I think every American woman in the early 1990s owned a bottle of White Diamonds or Passion and that's mainly what I associate Elizabeth Taylor with. But I do love some of her films too -- so mark April 10th down on your calendar because Turner Classic Movies will be having a Liz Movie Marathon. I plan on setting my DVR for Father of the Bride and National Velvet.

Gotta send out some love to Fresh & Easy's "day old" section because I bought a loaf of Il Fornaio sourdough bread this week for 94 cents. I can't put into words how much I love sourdough toast and Il Fornaio really does make fabulous bread.


I've become a huge fan of Pete Wilson and Cross Point Church, based in Nashville. Both Lee and I watch Pete's sermons via podcast on iTunes (Lee wants to be Pete's new BFF). He recently started a new sermon series on relationships. This video of Pete and his wife Brandi is honest, funny, and clever. I think you'll find it enjoyable and I hope it encourages you to check out the rest of the series here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cruel, Cruel!

A few weeks ago, I was walking to my car after leaving the office and I had one of those moments -- maybe you've had them too -- where you just feel really content and thankful. The afternoon breeze and the other people on the street added to the electricity. Things just felt good. If I had been wearing a hat, I would have done this:
(If you don't know who that is, you might want to stop reading because the rest of this post won't really mean anything to you). Anyway, I felt good about myself -- working mom, balancing all the balls in the air, feeling youthful, yadda yadda.

Then I get home and check the mail. If I could insert a sound effect in this post it would be right here and it would sound like a record needle scratching to a halt because this is what was waiting for me in the mailbox:
As We Change -- a mail order catalog for maturing women. As I've mentioned before, I'll be turning 40 in 2011. BUT do I really need to start shopping in this type of catalog? And who came up with that name?? It should be called "You're About to go Through THE Change." I was no longer feeling youthful after looking at this catalog. Lee thought it was hysterical rather funny and I eventually laughed with him. So I scanned the catalog cover and thought I  would share it on my blog. But I forgot about it....until this arrived on Saturday:

Oh come on!!! This is not good for my self-esteem.  Sigh. The post office hates me. Or I'm on a really weird mailing list. I expect to see an AARP magazine in my mailbox on April 1st.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fabric Love

I bought fabric this week to make some new pillows for our bedroom. Our room is severely lacking in's the final resting place of mismatched furniture. So, I'm making minor changes to spruce it up. I'll share more details soon...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Threes.

One. Two. Three.

Only one thing needs to be shared this week...

Earthquake relief donations can be made to World Vision here and to Unicef here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Batteries Not Required (or Wanted)

Dear Santa,
Heads-up, 9 months in advance: don't bother bringing fancy toys to our house. We prefer the basics...
Nate's Mom & Dad

Mom Tip: Clothespins

I keep a stash of these in my car now:
Why are clothespins in my car? Well, if you have a young child who likes balloons, they're the perfect "weight" to keep a balloon from flying away. When we're out doing errands, Nate will occasionally be given a balloon at Trader Joe's, etc. Once we're back at the car, I can grab a clothespin from my stash and quickly tie the string to it (I guess if I was SuperMom I'd keep a clothespin in my purse but I'm not, so that's not going to happen). Once we get home, it's fun to play outside with our weighted balloon in the front yard too. It stays just enough above the ground to float around but won't blow away.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chicken Spaghetti

We cooked the Pioneer Woman's chicken spaghetti over the weekend. You can find the recipe in her cookbook and here. The final product looked like this (PW's picture on her website looks WAY better than this):

It serves 6-8 but it felt like we ended up with a ton of food. I've been serving it for leftovers now for a couple days....we're ready to move onto something else. Overall, I'd say it wasn't the best dish I've ever had but it was pretty good and one I'll keep in rotation. I'll end with this little story: the recipe calls for a fryer chicken that's  been cut up but I didn't pay attention to the "cut up" part and wrote "fryer chicken" on my shopping list, thus I had to cut it up myself (I'm not smart). I've never done that before and was tempted to become a vegetarian after doing so. "You've never cut up a whole chicken??" Lee asked me with astonishment when I told him about my disturbing experience with a large knife and a chicken carcass. I guess I've always bought chicken in its respected parts -- a package of breasts or a package of legs. Judging by Lee's face and response, this is weird. Maybe it's a California thing...

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Little Half Table



I bought this little table at an estate sale months ago. It just called out to me "take me home!" despite the fact that I really didn't need a little table like this (note to self: don't make purchases without really thinking about where the item is going to go in my house). I knew immediately that I wanted to re-stain the top and paint the bottom two shelves white. Jumping ahead -- what did I learn from this project? Here is what I took away:

1) Spindles stink! They were a giant pain to sand and were difficult to paint evenly (I'm not particularly patient). It got better with each coat, but at the beginning I thought "what have I gotten myself into?!" Not an easy project for a beginner.

2) I followed the directions on the back of the stain container and left the walnut stain on the table top for a minimum of 30 minutes. When I wiped down the top, the stain was way too dark. It was practically black. So I re-sanded and wiped the stain on and off in under 5 minutes. The results were dark but not too severe. 

3) Clean, clean, clean! I was lazy (again) and didn't do a very good job of dusting off the piece between coats of white paint (done over several days). Every time this table sat in my garage, dust would settle on the table. If I had been more diligent about cleaning the table very carefully between coats, I wouldn't have had to do so many touch-ups. Lesson learned.

I'm linking this post to:
Furniture Feature Fridays

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday Threes.

I've had this picture saved for a long time so, unfortunately, I don't have the source. But I saved it for inspiration because I love the idea of taking a simple charm bracelet, attaching pretty ribbon at both ends and turning said bracelet into a necklace. Cute and clever, no??

My favorite color is orange, although you wouldn't know it because my wardrobe is definitely lacking in orange these days. So I think as summer approaches, I may add some orange here and there. These sandals are new from Lands End. I kinda like them.

Ahh, Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend. Lee refers to DST as "the harbinger of doom." Yeah, he's dramatic like that. He doesn't like that it signals hot weather is on its way (roughly 4 months away, Drama Queen Lee). Anyway, I say bring it on! DST is a gift to mothers everywhere. It means we have 1 extra hour of daylight for our kids to run around outside and exhaust themselves so that maybe they'll go to sleep a little earlier. Here's hoping!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Good Intentions Remain Empty

I'm going to come clean and admit that I have a problem. I am a container addict. Yes, I like to purchase bins, boxes, tins, etc. all with the intent of storing various things in them. I see a container and -- whamo -- I'm drawn in.  My head starts imagining the following: Nate's toys put away in large bins, my craft & sewing supplies arranged in cute vintage suitcases, and various kitchen knick-knacks stored in some sort of order that would allow me to actually find that missing slotted spoon. Soooo, after my daydreaming is over, I purchase said container and head home. Then the nightmare begins. The container gets shoved into a closet, up onto a shelf, or (gasp!) stuck in the garage. See all of those pretty things in the pretty picture above? They're empty. Yup, empty. I've had a couple of them for at least a year. I know, it's shameful. My daydreams have not come to fruition because I'm lazy. Or because I procrastinate (I'll decide which one later). And yet I continue buying containers. That's probably not going to stop. But I can commit to actually using my boxes, etc. In fact, in preparation for this post, I was inspired to do this:

That would be all of my cookie cutters, birthday candles, and cookie decorating gadgets stored in one place. It looks so tidy, doesn't it? Well, that's just one thing crossed off the list. I'll keep you abreast of my progress [or not, because (a) I won't have made any progress or (b) this topic is just too boring for any of you to care about.]

One of These Things is A Lot Like the Other

I spend a lot of time reading books about Elmo and other Sesame Street characters. I know this is going to sound odd, but whenever I see a picture of Elmo's dad (above), I always think of this guy:

That's the husband from Sister Wives. I've never watched that show but for some random reason, I know what he looks like. Please tell me I'm not the only one who sees some sort of resemblance?!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Weekend Wishes.

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. -- Winston Churchill

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday Threes.


My new addiction. They're like a Junior Mint but in reverse. I love you, mints. 

March Madness is here, baby! Who's got basketball fever? Me! And Nate -- he puts his clothes in the laundry basket every night with a slam dunk move*. Will my Bruins go all the way? We'll see. There's pivotal games tonight and this weekend. If you're a Bruins fan (and I know there are a few of you out there), check out Bill Plaschke's column here from last Sunday's Times. It'll warm your heart and bring a tear to your eye.

*Lee does not participate in basketball fever. He takes issue with college jocks getting a "free ride." My opinion -- Lee just needs to get over it. I'm tired of his whining ;)


#3 is something that's been on my mind do we balance the good and bad on the Internet? Good: I can watch streaming live video of people demonstrating for equality. I can smile at a video of a baby hysterically laughing at ripped paper. I can discover new blogs that help me make healthy muffins or teach me to sew or open my mind to new ideas in my walk with the Lord. Bad: I can read the agonizing words of a mother who just lost her daughter to SIDS. I  can visit an online journal for a baby born prematurely due to his mother's death in a car crash. Cancer, strokes, earthquakes, rape, you name it. All of it can weigh so heavily on your heart. My heart. I pray for all of these people but there are moments when I feel the sadness is too much. Does anyone else feel this way?