Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BHS...my high school days...

1. Did you date someone from your school? just my teachers...ha ha...just kidding

2. Did you marry someone from your high school? Well, I'm not married, so...no

3. Did you car pool to school?absolutely not. that would have been ridiculous

4. What kind of car did you have? the tracer racer and the taurrauri, of course

5. What kind of car do you have now? i live in the city and got rid of that pain in the arse

6. Its Friday night...where are you? at a sporting event, dance or friend's house. occasionally a field

7. It's Saturday night, where are you? see above

8. What kind of job did you have in high school?Subway Sandwich Artist, baby

9. What kind of job do you do now? work with the crazy kids and teach people how to increase their odds of getting skin cancer while rapidly aging their skin

10. Were you a party animal? no, can't say I was

11. Were you considered a flirt? Have you met me? That would be no.

12. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA....I'm tone deaf. If you have ever heard me try to sing, then your ears have bled. My friend actually penned in choir on my schedule one semester so I couldn't erase it. I had to show up for the first day, but then I dropped it and replaced it with something else.

13. Were you a nerd, jock, prep, greaser, punk...etc.? Probably a nerd. I was one of those super involved types.

14. Did you get detentions, suspended or expelled, or, all of the above? All of the above. Just kidding. I did get sent to the office once sophomore year for "inciting a riot" in honors English.

15. Can you sing the fight song? Probably. You see, the thing is about Iowa is that there isn't a lot to do. And there are no pro teams to support, so people really rally behind their high school and college sports teams. I remember road tripping 2 hours away to watch the boys/girls play in an out of town football or basketball game. Our junior and senior years there was a group of girls who painted shirts that spelled out "Lets go grayhounds" and wore them to the Friday night football games. Sporting events were always packed and usually followed by a dance.

16. Who was/were your favorite teacher(s) I had several.

17. what was your favorite class? Ummm..I'm not sure there were too many classes that I didn't like. I had almost all of the same people in all my classes because we were on a special accelerated track together. I really liked Organic Chemistry, though.

18. Where did you sit during lunch? Wherever my friends were sitting or we left for lunch.

19. What was your school's full name? Burlington Community High School

20. When did you graduate? '99...'99..9..9..9..9..'99

21. What was your school mascot? The Grayhound

22. If you could go back and do it again, would you? Sure, I had a blast

23. Did you have fun at your Prom? We had 3 formal dances a year. They all kind of run together. It seems like we always had fun at all of them.

24. Who were your closest friends? Reagan, Kristine, Morgan, whatever I was involved in during that season/quarter that I was forced to spend a lot of time with.

25. What did you do on the weekends during the day? Tournaments or working at Subway. Who remembers when Coach Kipp banned us from eating any form of sugar during our senior season of volleyball? What a joke. Our mom's snuck us stuff into the bathroom. Ha ha ha.

Twilight, waste of my night

Loved the books...completely underwhelmed by the movie. Perhaps it would have been better had I seen it on the big screen but I thought the content lacked in nearly every aspect. I wasn't enamored by Edward and was annoyed by Bella, but not the same annoyed as I was with her in the books. I felt her acting was poor and strained at times. What a boring and dreadfully miserable girl that appears to lack interest in anything...who would wants to be friends with someone that is so miserable? I mean, it would brighten my day to be in her presence. I also thought there was a lot more that could have been done to show the tension between Jacob's family and the Cullen's with Bella being caught in the middle. There were also too many discrepancies between the book and movie that were unnecessary. There were also times that words were used to move the scene forward when it could have been easily demonstrated in the same amount of time and would have been much more effective. I felt like it was produced by someone with far too much anxiety about a time crunch and it showed through by not playing things out fully in the movie.

I can't say I'll watch any of the others that are made and don't see how this one raked in so much money.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Give me more, M.O.

I love that Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the White House lawn. Read all about it HERE

out of the kitchen

I thought everyone might enjoy a break from my endless posts about food. Yesterday I took the train out to Arlington Heights to visit my good friend Megan. Poor thing has been home bound for the last 10 days from an ankle surgery. On the way there I picked up some chips and salsa for us to snack on. The salsa was good but had a surprising kick to it. This was Megan's face when the kick kicked in.
We played Rummikub and Scrabble.

Then, I took the train back to the city where I met up with Jodie and Phil, who are in town for the weekend. I had a great time catching up with her. We really need to make it a point to see each other more often.

All in all, a great day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

And by blueberries, I mean yumberries

Unless they were cooked in something(like bagels or pancakes) I have hated plain blueberries all of my life. I am not exactly sure why. I don't really ever remember trying them plain before in my life. Well, when I was home a few weeks ago my mom had made a fruit salad and there were fresh blueberries in it. As I picked around them, I decided that I would retry them.


What an awakening. I love blueberries. My new favorite breakfast is plain yogurt and blueberries.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Better than Starbucks

My trips to Starbucks are generally limited to less than 10(and that is on the high side) a year. I am not a huge fan of their coffee but sometimes they will have a tempting concoction. In the fall I will usually have one hot caramel apple cider...because it is soooo tasty on a chilly day. Then the iced drinks in the summer usually tempt me.

When I was in the grocery store the other day I saw the canisters for mixed coffee drinks. One really caught my eye. The Dark Mayan Chocolate. You simply add 4 tsp of this mix to boiling water for a 50 calorie treat. And when I say treat, I mean T-R-E-A-T! This stuff has excellent flavor. Oh, and only 50 calories! Doesn't Starbucks have a new ad that brags that their low calorie drink is 90 calories and flavorless? Now, lets do the math on this in these hard economic times. A canister of the mix cost about $5.00(inflated Chicago price, probably $2.99 in Iowa and most other parts of the US) AND it makes 18 delicious cups of dark Mayan chocolate flavored coffee. So, for the price of one cup of Starbucks, Caribou, Peet's or your other local coffee shop, you can get 18 cups of this tasty treat. It's pretty much like a buy one, get 17 free coupon. I really don't know anyone that would pass that up. I did the math. It works out to 27cents per cup. Wowza.

Look how nice it looks in the cup, too. It almost looks like the Pac man guy is in my cup ready to chomp down on that little darker circle. You can see it, I know you do. But he won't be there for long, because I am going to drink him down.

Rutabaga parship hash

When I'm at the grocery store, I like to buy one or two things I have little or no experience cooking to try to expand my taste and food diversity. Well, I ran across a rutabaga in the produce section and said..."It has a fun name, why not?"

So I came home from the grocery store and put the rutabaga in the fridge and left if there for a day or two pondering WHAT I could do with this thing. I began researching recipes that use rutabaga and to be honest there weren't many. I did run across one for a rutabaga parsnip hash. I like parsnips and the recipe looked very basic, so I decided to got for it. Here it is...Cube your rutabaga into 1/2" cubes. I quartered my parsnips then sliced them into 1/4" pieces. Put that into salted boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes for until veggies are tender. Drain excess water and mash to desired consistency. Add butter, salt and pepper to flavor. I added a little parsley, too. Pretty tasty.

I kneaded a bagel

The other night I decided to try my hand at homemade bagels.

When I was thinking about toppings, I got out my caraway seeds to taste one to see if that would be something I would like on my bagel. Well, I had a minor spill when I took the lid off. whoops. I made sure I did a very good job of cleaning them up, because I didn't want anyone to mistake one as a mouse turd in the kitchen!

Here is my water, salt, sugar and yeast mixture. In the future I think I need to use the quick rising yeast and possibly warmer water...but you'll see those pictures later.
Look! I added in the flour! Time to mix it all together by hand. It's a good arm work out and a great way to release frustration.
All mixed together. Now it's time to let it set for 15 minutes(this is the part where the water needed to be warmer and the yeast needed to be quick rising). It really didn't grow at all over those 15 minutes.

Take the dough out and punch it into a rectangle(if unsure of the shape of a rectangle please consult your nearest math text book or simply google it). Leave the dough about 1 inch thick when punching it out.

Then you cut the dough into 1" wide strips, make them into circles with the ends overlapping a little(either twist or pinch the ends together). I made some bigger bagels and some mini bagels.

After you form the strips into bagels, you cover them with a towel and let them chill out for 20 minutes. While they are relaxing under their towel, you boil a gallon of water and add a T sugar to it. After the bagels are done taking their 20 minute time out you put a few at a time into the boiling water and let them simmer until they rise to the top. Scoop those babies out of the water and put them on a towel(not a big plush bath towel, but a non-nubby kitchen towel). Here is the fun part...creating toppings for your baggity bagels. I didn't really plan on making bagels on this particular day, so I hadn't really planned out a lot of good toppings but was able to scrounge up a few tasty things. I added some caraway seeds to some of the bagels and Parmesan cheese to others and a little of both to some of them(gettin' crazy, I know). In retrospect cinnamon and sugar would have been nice too.

This is my big daddy parm and caraway monster delicious bagel before he got popped in the oven.

Oh, look that those tasty bagels cooking right up. Did I mention that you needed to transfer them from their towel to a greased baking sheet? NEVER bake something on a towel in the oven. That could very easily lead to a fire. And you need to heat your oven to 400 degrees. You should have been preheating your oven while you were simmering your bagels, but you wouldn't have known that because I forgot to tell you.

Look! They came out of the oven after 22 minutes for the minis and about 28-30 for the big daddies. They cooled and I put them in a big zip lock. Some of these are going to have to be frozen, because I can not eat that many bagels before they would go bad. Of course, I could share some of them with my friends.

Look how tasty my parm and caraway seed bagel looks. Mmmm...slice that guy in half and make him into a tasty sammy. Munch munch munch!

Mama Karma

This story makes my day.

I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day when she told me this story. She went to the grocery store and outside the grocery store was a card table set up with several little girl scouts around it selling Girl Scout cookies. My mom had no intention of buying any but stopped to talk to the girls anyway. She started inquiring how long they had been out there selling cookies and which kinds were their favorites. The girls said they were getting tired as they had been out there awhile and unanimously agreed on one particular kind as thier favorite, so my mom bought a box of that kind. After she bought the box, she opened it up and gave the girls a sleeve of the cookies to eat while they worked. Isn't that just the sweetest. Oh, and the girls said they would be going to Camp L-Kee-Ta for the first time this summer!

Good karma mama. :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spy say

Tonight I made some really good stir fry veggies with noodles in a spicy peanut sauce. Super easy, super yummy and plenty spicy(spy say).

I used one bag of frozen stir fry veg of your choice. I like to make sure mine include water chestnuts. While you are cooking those on your stove top boil some pasta of your choice in another pan. In yet another pan, you will make your sauce... A lot of multitasking, I know.

In your sauce pan sauté one clove of garlic minced. Add 1/2 cup hot water, 2/3 cup peanut butter(the recipe called for creamy but I used extra chunky because that is what I had and what I like best). Add 3T soy sauce and 2T rice vinegar(you can sub white wine vinegar if you don't have the rice). Sprinkle in cayenne to your hearts content. Stir while cooking over medium heat until you have a smooth sauce. Add in cooked veggies and pasta(drained of course) and heat all together for a few minutes.

While stirring the sauce I added about an extra 1/8c of water because I felt it was a little to thick. Possibly a complication if divisting away from the original recipe and using the chunky instead of the creamy pb. I really liked the crunch of the nuts while eating it, though. A highly recommended sustitution!

Sorry there aren't any pictures, I was too busy talking on the phone while cooking to remember to document this tasty dish. Would also be excellent with chicken of tofu added. Will definitely make again...after I get through eating all the leftovers!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

lipsmackin' good

One of my coworkers has a bigger obsession with chapsticks and delicious lip products as myself. She told me about the new Chapstick Lip Shimmers series and loves them. She bought a giant variety pack of them which included two limited edition flavors of banana cream and orange cream. Since she had a bad experience with orange flavored barium as kid, she gave me the orange cream lip shimmer. IT IS AMAZING! I am going to have to buy the jumbo pack just to get another tube of the orange cream. It's like a creamsicle on your lips and adds a little color and a little flash.

i love red sauce

Lycopene is my friend. I love almost any type of red sauce or taking a simple red sauce and adding lots of things to it. Tonight, I started by sauteing some garlic and adding some Morningstar farms soy crumbles(fake beef crumbles for a little protein) to a basic marinara(Ragu Traditional) sauce. I noticed in the fridge that I had some tomatoes and green peppers that will probably start to go bad soon, so I chopped those up and threw them in the pan, too. Toss in some Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes and WALLA! Yumtastic!

While I was whipping up the sauce I was also boiling some farfalle(or bow tie pasta to some of you). Multitasking at its finest.

I tossed the sauce and pasta together in the pan, threw in a few hand fulls of chopped up kale and dumped it into a 9x13 pan.

At this point, I threw the lid on my 9x13 pan and put it in the fridge and will bake it when I come home from work tomorrow. Easy and tasty, huh?

If you can't stop yourself from eating it right now, toss on a little cheese and bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes or until the cheese is warm and bubbly. Eat and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chicago Flower and Garden Show

My dad and I both had the day off of work today, so I convinced him to take the train into the city and hang out with me. Well, when I proposed this great idea to him the forecast was for sunny, 65 degree weather today. Well, Monday night they changed the forecast and said it would be a high of 33 today and windy. I gave him the option of backing out, but he is a trooper and came to visit his favorite daughter anyway. We started off the day on the hunt for a good fantasy baseball magazine for his upcoming draft. Then, we went to the Signature Room for lunch, because he had never been there before. Since it was a clear day, I thought it would be a great day for viewing the city, and it was. After lunch we headed down to Navy Pier to check out the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. My dad has a very green thumb, so I thought this would be right up his alley. While walking through, we ran across this fun mirror, so we stopped to goof around. If my torso was really this long, I think I would have to wear dresses as shirts!

There are these very fun fountains in the Crystal Garden at Navy Pier. My dad was convinced that the water shot out of a tubes and I said it didn't. Of course, being stubborn, I had to prove him wrong by sticking my hand in it to see if it was just a stream of water or if there was tubing there. Well, I got soaked when I put my hand it, breaking up the steam of water and making it spray on me.

I loved the exhibit where they did table settings in foliage and flowers. I thought it was really cool how they made the leaves look like leather cushions on the chairs.

Look, a flower bed! Notice the little dog in the lower left hand corner.

My dad pointing out the daffodils, much like the ones that will soon be blooming in his yard.

These are part of a really pretty rose display in the exhibit sponsored by the Spanish museum of art. The designer actually came up to us and talked to us for a while and told us it took 19 hours a day for 6 days to get the display set up. WOW.

The show is totally worth the $12 admission fee. I have a good feeling dad might come back for the show again next year.

Put your apron on

On my afternoon off last week I decided to throw on my apron and try out some new recipes. I am always trying new recipes that involve sweet potatoes because I am trying to learn to like them. I know I should eat them because they are so healthy, but they really aren't all that appealing to me. It's a combination of taste and texture that I don't like. Nevertheless, I attempted yet another recipe that involves the spud. I made some root vegetable chips. I simply sliced beets(another questionable veggie), regular potato, sweet potato and parsnips into fairly thin slices, tossed them in a bowl with a little EVOO and salt and pepper. This process probably would have went much faster and everything would have been more even had I owned a mandolin(hint, hint). Heat oven to 450F. Scatter slices on a large baking sheet or two and pop in the oven Toss every 5-10 minutes until they are cooked to your chip liking. I must say this might be the way I can best tolerate sweet spuds but don't plan on making them again. The parsnips were by far my favorite and were suprisingly delightful.

While these veggies were being chip-a-fied I thought, it's a beautiful day, I don't have to work, why not make myself a Tanquery and tonic. So I did. Doesn't it look nice?

In between rounds of tossing the chips I decided to make Kale chips. I bought my kale precut in a large bag(cheating and easy). And again, tossed with a little EVOO and s&p. Make sure the pieces are lightly coated with EVOO but not drenched. Since the oven is already on, all I have to do it turn it down to 250 and pop these suckers(once spread out on a baking sheet) in the oven for 20 minutes. You can also sprinkle with other thinks like lemon pepper or parm cheese. Once done, pull out and enjoy these addicting, light, fluffy, super healthy chips. Stacey tested, mother approved.

Whew, I have been around the hot oven for a while. That made me thirsty. Oh no, is my glass half empty or half full? Well, if you ask me, it doesn't really matter because it is in an Iowa glass and I have enough TNT to mix another if need be.

Ohhhhhh, look at those chips. They are almost done. Don't you just want to pop one into your mouth.

In the middle of making chips I was also making a filling for some wrappers I had. I just threw together some frozen spinach(thawed and drained), tomato, left over parsnip, silken tofu, fat free motz cheese and a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place on wrapper.

Wet edges of wrapper, fold any which way you want. I made several different shapes. Cook in which ever method your little heart desires. Eat and enjoy.

Pretty pretties

Look at the very pretty orchids that I got for Valentine's Day from Josh. Sorry this picture was taken 3 weeks later, but I wanted to share. I think it's the classy vase that really sets them off.

Some of my favorite things

This candle is absolutely amazing and I love burning it. It is made of soy, so it burns a really long time and it was given to me by my good friend Sanj.

The Flying Pig is this great store in Algona, WI that sells lots of fun stuff and they just happen to make these candles there.

Dry hands? Parched skin? Those days are long gone. This is the most amazing moisturizer that I have ever used in my life. I buy a tub of it every fall and it lasts me until spring when I can use a lighter moisturizer. It comes from Restoration Hardware and is called No-Crack Super Hand Cream(and it's not greasy at all). Don't let it fool you, you can use it on body parts other than yours hands. How do I know this, you ask? Well, because sometimes I use it on my whole body. It's fantastic. There used to be two options, scented and unscented. However, this year they came out with a whole line of scents for this product and really made the packaging much more consumer appealing. My FAVORITE scent is SHORE. Don't you worry your pretty little head, I would never make an uninformed decision. I definitely stood in the store and opened ever jar and smelled every scent to make sure I wasn't missing out on something better. I love this product so much that I often carry it with me and encourage other people to try it. They are always astonished at how good it smells and works. And when I say I carry it with me, I have taken it a lot of places. I have even been known to pull this big tub out in a bar, but much more often at work. So, my suggestion is to get your buns to Restoration Hardware and...Smell it, try it, love it, buy it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Happy Square Root Day

I don't know how I didn't know about this as I love math. Thanks to Aaron for alerting everyone! I am going to start planning a party for 4/4/16 tomorrow!

According to Wikipedia, a square root day occurs anytime "the day and the month are both the square root of the last two digits in the current year."

Today is the last square root day until 4/4/16. Celebrate now while you have the chance!

The next step?

It was nearly a year ago that I became a vegetarian. Almost a year later I am thinking that I have the vegetarian thing down pretty well and I like it. I really don't miss meat. So, I have started thinking about the next step. Could I do vegan?

I don't really like ice cream or milk, so that wouldn't be an issue. But cheese... I love some good cheese. And eggs are in so many things. My major hang ups with becoming vegan are that it is expensive and time consuming. My life is tight on free time as it is and I don't really have the time to stand in the grocery store and read every label on every product I might buy.

But then again, you only get one chance at life, why waste it putting bad things in your body? The jury is still out but I think I am getting closer to making the leap.

No more Diet Delish

On the Sunday before Lent I began to contemplate what I would give up for 6 weeks. I was raised Catholic but can hardly say that I am a "practicing" Catholic...whatever that means any way. I rarely make it to church and to be honest, I really don't make that much effort. I do however participate in the giving up of things every year when Lent rolls around.

While I have tried to give up and cut back on Diet Coke lately, I have failed miserably. However, when I decided that I would give up pop for Lent it became ridiculously easy. Divine intervention? Probably not. Besides the pop I also gave up baked goods(dessert style not to include bread and such) and anything flammin hot.

My favorite thing is to drink fountain pop while traveling. Since I was gone this past weekend I was shocked to be minimally tempted and enjoyed tea and coffee instead.

Will this be the end of my soda drinking days? Probably not forever, but the next 6 weeks are safe.