Friday, January 29, 2010

January Re-cap

Current Book(s):
Finished - Knit Two and Knit the Season - both by Kate Jacobs (lovely books for a knitting-lover like me!), In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Currently reading - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

* Another slow month of reading for me...

Current Music:
The Last Kiss Soundtrack. Such a fantastic Soundtrack. You know that pop sound with the "What You Say" chorus? Well, that is ripped from Hide & Seek by Imogen Heap, which is one of my favorite songs on The Last Kiss Soundtrack. Has a very different sound, but I love it. I want an Imogen Heap CD so badly but I am not letting myself buy anything unnecessary these days!

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure:
Mini-peanut butter cups. My co-worker always has them in his candy drawer and I cannot resist... I kept asking him to stop buying them!

Current Colors:
Mustard Yellow

Current Obsessions:
My half-marathon and full marathon training plans that are hanging in my cube. I love looking at them and calculating how far I'll run each week/month/etc. Yes, I am a running dork.

Current Drink:
Home brewed coffee! Totally successful on my only drinking lattes on Fridays!!

Current Song:
"Sort Of" by Ingrid Michaelson. Or her whole album.

Current Movie:
Sliding Doors - fantastic movie. Check it out if you haven't.

Current TV Shows:
The new season of Project Runway! I am SO glad it's back in NYC. It just wasn't the same when it was in LA!

Current Wish-List:
- Imogen Heap CD
- New Coffee Pot
- This knitting pattern book that they had on display at the little yarn shop I frequent!!

Current Needs:
- a cleaner condo
- a less cluttered coffee table. It basically functions as my desk!

Current Triumph:
- I have resisted the temptation to buy new CDs during my weekly trip to Target. I have been trying to cut down on unnecessary purchases and have done so well so far!
- I haven't bought a book for myself in well over a month. My goal is to not buy another book until I have read all the ones I own. So I should be good until June or July I am guessing!

Current Bane of my Existence:
- My complexion. I have been a bit stressed lately (see Bane of my Existence #2), and my face is not handling it well. I basically want to wear a paper bag over my head. I have an appt with a new Dermatologist this morning. I am crossing my fingers that he has a solution. Besides birth control. That was the only solution my previous derm would recommend...

- A contract negotiation I am working on at work. It's a great opportunity with lots of exposure to super high finance management, but it stresses me out. Big time. Like I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes and stress about it.

Current Goal:
- Stop eating those dang peanut butter cups!!

Current Indulgence:
- Peanut butter on apples. The apples are basically a vessel for the peanut butter. Can you tell that PB is a total weakness for me?

Current Blessings:
- Getting 9 hours of sleep/night the last 2 weekends!

Current Slang or Saying:
- Describing things as craptastic.

Current (Fav) Outfit:
- Work dresses with tights! It was pretty mild earlier this month so I wore dresses quite frequently!!

Current Excitement:
- My college friend get-together this weekend!
- Meeting my parents for Mass & an early birthday lunch on Sunday!
- My weekend in Phoenix at the end of Feb!

Current Mood:
- Pensive

* Have a fantastic weekend everyone! I will be heading north to Grand Forks, ND for the weekend. What do you have planned?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Going Bananas!

I came home on Monday night, opened my mail, and had a package!

Oo, a package - really, is there anything more fabulous that getting an unexpected package in the mail? The package was from Mandy of Knowing the Difference - she had sent me this:

I can't tell you how excited I was! I see this book at Target each week and have had the toughest time resisting the urge to purchase it! I am such a huge fan of this game, I knew I'd love this little book of puzzles!

Let me tell you, it has made my bus commutes fly by! Plus, I had been struggling to stay awake on my bus rides in so then I would get to work and feel all groggy. Not anymore! These puzzles require so much concentration, I no longer feel like I could fall asleep standing up when I arrive at work.

At the beginning of the book, there are some fun, interesting, and somewhat shocking facts about bananas. I just had to share a couple of them. I mean, who doesn't love fun, random facts!

  • Bananas are technically classified as berries
  • Contrary to popular belief, bananas do not grow on trees. They're actually the fruit of a giant herb plant which can grow to be 20 feet high
  • Americans eat an average of 28 POUNDS of bananas per person each year. That breaks down to about 112 bananas for every person!
So thanks again, Mandy! It was incredibly sweet of you to send this book to me!! I hope we can eventually meet up and play Bananagrams!!

Oh, and if you want to hear me talk about something besides banana, check out Mandy's blog - I am guess posting over there today!

Ok, were you as shocked about the 28 pounds statistic as I was? When they broke it down to 112 bananas/person/year, it sounds pretty reasonable. But initially I was like - holy. cannasta.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Loving this quote!

"I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." ~ Anna Quindlen, author

Isn't that a fantastic quote? Granted I don't have children, but I do have nephews and I really feel like I love them as if they are my own! I use every excuse to buy them books! From Halloween to Valentine's Day to Easter to the first day of school, they can expect a book from their auntie Lisa. I am trying to pass on my love of reading to them, just as my parents and grandparents have passed on their love of reading to me!

Now I just need to buy this Etsy print - it is so me and would look great above my desk in my bedroom!

Are you reading anything great right now? If so, please share! I'd love to know what books you are falling in love with!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

The questions for this week's 10 on Tuesday are mine, so you should participate! Or at least answer a few in the comments!!

1. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Toss up between finishing my MBA and finishing a marathon. Both were extremely mentally taxing, the marathon was obviously extremely physically taxing!

2. How much did you weigh when you were born?
I would have been 10 pounds had I not excreted on the doctor when I was born. Nothing like making my appearance known! My mom is one tough cookie - I think 3 out of 5 of us were over 9 lbs and she didn't even have an epidural or any drugs for 4 of the 5 births, including mine! I was her biggest baby, and incredibly ugly. No joke. I do not like to show people my baby pictures. My mom will probably comment and say that I was beautiful, but I look at the pictures and cringe. I look like a little sumo wrestler.

3. What is your favorite perfume?
Either Burberry Brit or Stella. I heart perfume and have about 4-5 different ones that I use on a regular basis.

4. How many siblings do you have?
I have 4 - 2 brothers & 2 sisters.

5. How many children would you like to have? (Or how many do you have?)
Well... if I wasn't nearly 29 and single, I would say 4. But um, yah. I'm nearly 29 and single, without a potential boyfriend on the horizon. So unless I have a set or two of twins, it's pretty unlikely. So realistically, I'll probably have 2. Sometimes I feel like it's pretty unlikely that I'll have any kids at the rate I'm going!

6. What’s the best class you took in college?
Totally going dorky on this one & I have to say Differential Equations. I LOVED this class. Most Engineering and Math Majors complain about how much they hate this class, but I loved it - probably a sign that I was meant to be a Math Major!

7. What was your favorite game to play when you were a child?
That's a tough one, but if I had to choose, I'd have to say memory.

8. What character on Friends are you most like?
I am totally Monica. I'm kind of a bit on the neurotic side at times and sort of anal about things.

9. Are you a phone person? (ie: Do you like talking on the phone?)
No, not really. I only talk to friends/family that live a great distance away since it is important to talk to maintain a friendship. But I am not the kind of person who calls up a local friend just to chat.

I feel like working has ruined the phone for me. I think I used to like talking on the phone and receiving phone messages before joining the business world. I think back to high school and the countless hour+ phone conversations I used to have with my HS boyfriends. So I must have used to like talking on the phone.

10. What was the best vacation you ever took?
It's a toss-up between a trip to Berlin/Munich/Prague with my best friend Brooke, my 3 weeks in Paris, which got me started on the whole blogging thing, or a trip to the south island of New Zealand when I studied abroad in Australia? I have been fortunate to have gone on many amazing trips!!

Come on - answer some of these so I can get to know y'all better!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunday Night Dinners: Hearty Potato Soup

Happy Monday, everyone! This week is going to be a whirlwind. I have 6 hours of meetings today... Yeesh. Then I am going to work a closing shift in one of my company's stores on Wednesday so I can gain some perspective on what it's like to work in the store! Then Friday we have an off-site team building event and then I am heading to Grand Forks, ND for an annual get together with a bunch of college friends! I am so glad I had a low key weekend as this week is going to wear me down!

Even though we've been experiencing a bit of a warm spell here in the Midwest, I was still in the mood for soup last week. Soup is one of my favorite things to eat. I share that in common with my late Grandpa Rudy. I think we also shared a love for saltine crackers - something I can no longer eat since they are of course not gluten free. Alas, soup is still a wonderful meal, even though I can't flood the soup with crackers any longer!

I went the slow cooker route this week so I don't have any pictures of the process for you! Here is the recipe, which is my dear mom's!

6 potatoes, peeled & cut into bite-size pieces (I used Yukon Gold)
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, pared & sliced (I used 2)
1 celery stalk, sliced
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 T. dry parsley flakes (optional, but I included them)
5 c. water
1 T. salt
pepper to taste
1/3 c. butter
1 can skim evaporated milk

Put all ingredients, except evap. milk, into crock pot. Cover & cook on low 10-12 hours or on high 3-4 hours. Stir in evap. milk during the last hour. If desired, mashed spuds some before serving.

* To make this GF, I used 3 cups of GF chicken broth & 2 cups of water instead of the bouillon cubes/5 cups of water combo.

** If you are meat eater, you could definitely add some bacon or ham to this - I'm not a huge fan of bacon or ham so I opted to leave that out.

It turned out great! Here is the finished product!

Oh, it was delicious! When I make it again, I will probably add a few more stalks of celery and more carrots! Can't get enough of my veggies!

Here is the obligatory photo of the leftovers, which I enjoyed all of last week!

Do you like soup? Are you the kind of person who puts in tons of soup, like I used to? What is your favorite kind of soup?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Random Act of Kindness

Happy Friday y'all! What a week it has been. I am really looking forward to a plan-free weekend. It's great to have fun things planned, but sometimes I need a weekend where I have nothing going on so I can just be a bit of a hermit. I plan on running, reading, knitting, and watching the first 2 discs of Season 1 of Arrested Development. Everyone who watches it raves about it so I am hoping I love it, too. I have a huge crush on Michael Cera so I am sure I'll love it! I just love how awkward Michael Cera is - makes him even more endearing in my opinion!

Oh, and do you want to put in your two cents on the next Blogger Book Club Book? If so, go here and make a suggestion! We'll vote towards the end of the month! Is anyone reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? I read it this fall & really enjoyed it so it's definitely worth checking out!

Anyways, I was all set to share my Potato Soup recipe today, but that will have to wait until Monday (I'm sure my old co-worker Pat is happy to read that. He hates my recipes posts. Do you?).

Instead I have a little story to share with you.

Yesterday, we had this lovely freezing drizzle. I mean, who doesn't love freezing rain? I don't love snow, but I will say I would prefer that to freezing rain.

It had been a long day at work and I was really not looking forward to scraping the windows of my car. The bus dropped me off at the parking lot where I park and I saw the layer of ice gleaming from other people's cars, but when I saw my car from afar, it didn't look like it had that lovely layer of ice. Hmm, very puzzling.

Well, folks, that is because it didn't.

Someone scraped my windows for me. And they didn't do a half-arse job, either. They scraped the entire windshield and both the front & back driver- & passenger-side windows. They actually did a better job than I would have.

I have NO idea who did this. Even though I have rode the bus for nearly 3 years, I have not made any friends. I get on the bus around 6:45 in the am and I am just not in a chit chat kind of mood. I get back on the bus at 5:50 pm and, once again, am really not in the chit chat mood. So it's not like I have a bus buddy who decided to do me a favor.

And I highly doubt I have a secret admirer!

So I can only assume it was a random act of kindness! Maybe someone else is working on a 30 by 30 or 101 in 1001 list or something and wanted to check "perform random act of kindness" off their list!

Let me just say - it made my day. Totally.

So tell me - have you ever been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness? Have you ever performed a random act of kindness for a stranger? If so, do tell!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review: Downtown Owl

The January selection for my Minneapolis book club was "Downtown Owl" by Chuck Klosterman. As I mentioned before, Klosterman is from my teeny tiny hometown of 500 people. He has made it quite big! I believe he has written about 5-6 books; his most popular book is Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, a book which examines popular culture. I actually own an autographed copy of all of his books, with the exception of his most recent book. I was the winning bidder at a silent auction held for a friend's mom's benefit. The books all sat on my shelf until one of the ladies in my book club picked Downtown Owl for our January selection! I am so glad I read it! Even though Klosterman says it is a work of fiction, some of the characters seemed awfully familiar. Like the football coach that impregnates a teenage girl. Yep, that happened folks. Talk about drama.

I'm getting ahead of myself here, though. To be brief, the book is basically about living in a small town in the middle of nowhere. If you want to get an idea of what it is like, then check out this book. It's an extremely accurate depiction. It touches on the fact that the quarterback of the football team will forever be hailed as the hometown hero. It introduces the reader to a small group of farmers that congregate at the local cafe to discuss life and politics. Lastly, it illustrates the heavy reliance on drinking for entertainment that is prevalent in the culture of a small town .

Only 3 of us were able to make it to book club; we all grew up in small towns in North Dakota, so enjoyed the book. I am curious if others who didn't grow up in a small town enjoyed it!

Our next book is "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. I read this over a year ago so plan on re-reading it since the details are a bit foggy. I remember really enjoying it and thinking it was beautifully written. I can't wait to re-read it! Especially now that I am practicing more 'active' reading, which means I am marking up passages that resonate with me so I can go back and re-visit them!

Have you read Downtown Owl or any of Klosterman's books? What did you think? Also, how big was the town where you were raised? Wyndmere had a population of 500 people! That's tiny!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Home Decor

Happy Wednesday, everyone! The week is a-flying by. I had 6 hours of meetings yesterday. That is a lot of meetings. I have a love/hate relationship with meetings. They can make the day go by fast but when in the heck am I supposed to get my work done? *sigh*

Anyways, enough boring work talk. Here's something fun for y'all to do! My friend Meg (actually, she's my little 'sis - we were both DGs at UND!) posted this quiz on her blog yesterday! You look at pictures of rooms and say whether you live, love, or are ambivalent about a room - it then tells you what your personal style is!

My personal style is:

67% Traditional Country

22% Cottage Chic

and 11% Wine Country

I'd say the test is fairly accurate. I feel like Wine Country should have been above cottage chic. It still gives you an idea of my personal style. I can just see myself curled up in one of the chairs in the first picture with a good book or a knitting project!

Now if only my condo looked like one of these photos. I must say, I struggle with interior design. I can't even pick out a wall color. My best friend Brooke made the final call on all the colors of my walls, with the exception of my bathroom - and that color was selected by my realtor. I am the queen of indecision when it comes to small decisions like paint color.

Are you good at interior decorating? Or do you struggle like I do? Oh, if you the quiz be sure to tell me what your person style is!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

A book themed Ten on Tuesday? Be still my heart! :)

1. Favorite book(s) when you were a child and why?
Early childhood - The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I loved it so much, I memorized it. No idea what my fascination was...

Chapter books - The Babysitter's Club. Dear God I wanted to be Mary Anne. That was the BSC member that I most connected with! I adored these books. I would have sleep overs with my best friend and we would seriously go to bed and read these books. Boy were we an exciting pair. I loved the Special Edition ones that were white and extra thick!

2. First “grown-up” book you remember reading (i.e. written for adolescents or with adult themes, such as The Outsiders or Catcher in the Rye).
Animal Farm. We read it in 6th grade. In hind sight, I think that was way too young of an age to read that book! I am sure most of the concepts went way over my head!

3. Favorite movie that came from a book (even if you didn’t read the book and just love the movie).
Hmm... I rarely like movies that are based on books since the book is so much better. The first one that comes to mind is Julie & Julia. I think Nora Ephron got this one right - and I am so glad Meryl Streep won a GG for her role! Such a great flick!

4. Movie that you loved so much that you WISHED there was a book out so that you could find out more about the movie.
You've Got Mail? I want to know what happens after they get together at the end! I just adore that movie. I want to be Meg Ryan. I want her store. I want her cute flat. I want my own Tom Hanks to come along and sweep me off my feet, first with the written word, then with the charming conversation. Ahh, it's swoon-worthy to think about. :)

5. Worst book you’ve ever read?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I hated this book. HATED it. What did Oprah see in it? I'm not a huge Oprah fan, but she usually picks decent books for her book club. Total miss on this one.

6. Book that everyone raves about that you either a) haven’t read and feel slightly dumb for not having read it or b) have tried to read and hated and so feel slightly dumb that everyone is getting something you don’t.
The Twilight series. I read the first 3 and wanted to get caught up in the frenzy, but I just wasn't hooked. I actually own the 4th one but haven't gotten around to reading it. The 3rd book pissed me off. And don't even get me started on the movies... not a fan.

7. If you were forced to choose only 3 books that you could read for the rest of your life, which ones would they be? (Or if you were stranded on a desert island, which 3 books would you want there with you?).
1. Tuesdays with Morrie - inspiring, lovely book!
2. Without Reservations - First travel memoir I read! Such a great book!
3. Crime and Punishment - I would pick this if I was on a desert island because then I would have the time to read this sucker. It is long!!

8. Name one book that if you could recommend that everyone you know read, what is it?
Tuesdays with Morrie. Everyone should read this. There is so much wisdom in this book - from love to parenting to life priorities. Such a gem.

9. What is your “guilty pleasure” reading?
Books by Sophie Kinsella. They are mindless reading but so entertaining!!

10. What book (excepting the Bible or other major document of your religion/faith) has changed your outlook on life the most?
I kind of feel like a broken record saying Tuesdays with Morrie again, so I am going to have to say "Lean Forward Into Your Life." It was the first book I reviewed (and my 2nd blog post!). I have lots of tabs in it - see?

It resides on the bookshelf next to my bed and I often go back & re-read those tabbed sections. It has beautiful poems and passages that remind me of the kind of love I am waiting for (like the passage I highlighted in my book review - go on, click here, and read it!)

But mostly, it has helped me deal with the various break-ups I have gone through. In one passage, the author, Mary Anne Radmacher, has this to say about relationships that don't work out:

"I often hear people speak of relationships at their conclusion as "failed." Simply because a thing does not last until its anticipated conclusion, that does not make it a failure. If a flower is crushed while still in bloom, it is not a failed flower. When a younger life is slashed off the planet by a knife or bullet, it doesn't mean that life failed in its presence on the planet. It is indeed a loss to those who remain, but it is not a failure. A relationship must be allowed its cycle and time. Not all comings together are forever even though we bind them to that in our societal vocabulary. The human being whose life is now lived far from my life and who name is not a part of my name has his own story. And his parting was less a failure than a learning."

See? Lots of wisdom is found in the pages of this book! I have a couple of blog posts written in my head that were inspired on this book! So go check it out!

You all know I am a book lover - so answer a few of these questions! I'd love to hear about the books that have captured your hearts!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekend Recap

This weekend, I...

  • slept for 9+ hours both Friday and Saturday night.
  • had the craziest dreams. One included some of the cast of 90210 (original show). One was a bad dream about work that haunted me for most of the day on Sunday.
  • held my cousin's 6 week old baby boy for 2+ hours. Is there anything more relaxing than holding a sleeping baby?
  • had lunch with the two girls that I met through the France study abroad program during the summer of 2008. One had a baby this summer so we got to meet her for the first time!
  • made home-made potato soup in the crockpot - recipe to come later this week!
  • ran outside for the first time since Thanksgiving! Those 7 miles went great although running on trails that were, at times, snow and ice packed slowed down my pace a bit!
  • Watched Caught highlights of the Vikings beating the Dallas Cowboys! Next up - the New Orleans Saints! It's on like Donky Kong, Nola Girl!
  • spent hours working on the giveaway scarf. The yarn came in the mail last week and is lovely! I am hoping to finish the scarf & hat this month!
  • spoke on the phone with two of my lovely bloggy friends!
Tell me about your weekend, dear readers! I hope those who have the day off are enjoying it - we don't get it off so I am working!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm a Player

Happy Friday! We made it through another week!

As I said in my today's post title, I'm a player. A game player, that is. And certainly not in the realm of dating. Far from it, actually. But boy oh boy, do I love some friendly competition!! I have a new favorite game to tell you about - it's called Bananagrams. I alluded to it in my Christmas Recap post, and many hadn't heard about it so let me share this wonderful treasure of a game with you! Oh and Emily Jane, I am sorry to disappoint you, but it doesn't involve a person singing to me, dressed in a banana suit - but wouldn't that be wonderful!!!

So onto the game and how it works. It's quite simple. I like to describe it as Scrabble on crack or Scrabble for people with ADD. Scrabble is fun and all, but I get kind of bored when I am waiting for others to put their tiles down and form words. Well, there is no down time in Bananagrams. Each person basically makes their own little Scrabble board. Here are the basics:

  • Each person draws 21 tiles - someone says split and you flip them over and start forming words. Similar to Scrabble, they have to all join together in some way.
  • If you draw a dud letter and want to get rid of it, you say "dump" and put it back in the center pile of tiles and take 3 new tiles.
  • When you have used up all of your tiles, you say "peel" and each person then has to draw a tile.
  • You continue in this fashion until there are fewer tiles in the middle than people playing.
Here is an example of what your board might look like.

Ok, you probably won't have long, awesome words like this, but you get the idea. I totally rocked at this game when we played it over Christmas weekend but got my butt kicked when we reconvened for a rematch over NYE weekend.

Mandy of Knowing the Difference told me about some Bananagram exercise workbooks that Target carried so I bought them and sent one to my mom and sister since they both loved this game!! My Target only had 2 left so I couldn't buy one for myself but maybe I will treat myself to one for my birthday. They looked so fun and would be a great thing to throw in your purse and work on when you are waiting in line, riding the bus, etc.

So there you have it! If you like words - you will love this game!!

Oh, and here's a little bonus photo from our NYE weekend at the cabin. My dad is taking on Andrew, my 4 year old nephew in Candy Land.

I love the serious expressions on everyone's faces - it looks like they are solving the world's problems, not playing Candy Land. Even the 20 month old, Matthew, looks perplexed. It makes me smile. Oh how I love my dad & my nephews!

The funny thing is that my dad is colorblind... so this game is a bit of a challenge for him! Andrew had to keep helping him with the colors and then he turned to his mom and said, "Grandpa really doesn't know his colors very well!" I thought that was hilarious!!

Do you like playing games? If so, what is your favorite? My favorite kid game is probably memory, Candy Land, or Chutes & Ladders. I can't decide. I love them all! Some of my other favorite adult games are Apples to Apples, Balderdash, and Trivial Pursuit!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I am a lover of many things. One thing I particularly love are unique dates - like 10/10/10. That doesn't happen all that often - remember how big of a deal 09/09/09 was last year? Earlier this year we have 01/02/2010. Which is a palindrome. My aunt brought that to my attention and I thought that was also pretty cool!

So aside from liking the unique, repetitive nature of 10/10/10, I like this date for another reason.

It will mark my return to marathon running!!!! Earlier this week I registered for the Portland marathon! I absolutely can not wait. I have not ran a marathon since the fall of 2006 so I am so due for another race.

But that's not all. I won't be running this alone - I have the most fantastic running partner ever - Amber from Girl with the Red Hair! Amber is one of my favorite bloggers - I can't wait to meet up with her in person!!! We run at pretty much the exact same pace so she'll be a great running partner. We are going to pick the same training plan so that we can train together. We'll be separated by many miles, but by following the same training plan, it will feel like she's there with me, mentally cheering me on during those long runs!

I am also hoping that we can meet up with Lauren from Sassy Molassy! She lives close to the Portland area, so it is just a hop, skip, and a jump for her (I think).

Sound fun? It will be! And you should totally join us (if you like running, or want to try to like running). It'd be a great chance to meet some fellow bloggers & it will give you a great fitness goal for 2010 (Portland offers both a full and 1/2 marathon).

By completing this marathon, I'll be crossing off one of goals on my "30 before 30" list which I'll be posting around my birthday next month. I'll turn 29 on February 6th and I have a lot that I want to accomplish before then. My goal for this marathon is to finish in 4:30 - I think I can do it as that would mean maintaining a 10 min/mile pace.

So in the immortals words of Jerry Maguire - who's coming with me! Come on - you know you need a fitness goal for 2010! Why not go all out and register for a half or full marathon!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Midweek Miscellany

My brain is kind of doing flip-flops right now, for no apparent reason, and after struggling to put together a cohesive post, you get a little bit of miscellany.

  • On Monday night, I had a bad dream. I dreamed that I left my coffee thermos on my kitchen counter - in my dream, I walked by a Starbucks and wanted to cry because I knew it was going to be a coffee-free day since I have committed to only having lattes on Fridays (and I have been successful so far!). Seriously, who has bad dreams about forgetting their coffee. I have this little thing called an extreme addiction to caffeine.
  • At the gym last night, I pounded out 4 miles next to a complete psycho. He kept talking to himself and saying, 'we're alone' or something like that. Um, no, you aren't. Every freaking treadmill is currently in use. You are not alone and I don't want to listen to your chanting. Then, after the chanting, he started grunting like he was delivering a child or practicing lamaze. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen. I wanted to tell him to shut up but I was afraid that might set off some sort of 'roid rage and he'd punch me or something. Dude, don't go to my Y anymore. You are scaring people.
  • I went to a going away party yesterday for a friend & former co-worker whose position is being eliminated. Guess what her boss brought in for treats? A couple of bags of popcorn (which tasted like crap) and some fudge. My friend is the one who always planned everyone else's going away parties or special events and put so much time and thought into them. And she gets popcorn as her parting gift?
  • We are experiencing a heat wave in this part of the country. What does a heat wave mean to us in January? 20 degrees baby! In celebration of the fact that we are no longer hovering in subzero temps, I am wearing a dress or skirt to work every day this week. It's really funny how what you consider 'cold' changes throughout the year. In November, I would have whined about 20 degree temps. Now I am celebrating by wearing dresses (with tights, I'm not THAT hard core).
That's all I've got for you.

What's new in your world these days? Any miscellany to share with me?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Here goes!

1. Are you usually late, early, or right on time?
I am almost always early. Sometimes too early. I am paranoid about being late for things and will start to sort of panic if I am running late. Not fun.

2. What is your middle name?

3. What are the last 4 digits of your cell phone number?

4. How big is your bed?
I have a queen mattress and absolutely love it!

5. What are you allergic to?
A couple of medications, and pretty much everything that I was tested for when I went through allergy testing. Grass, dust mites, cats, pollen, etc, etc.

6. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Usually, push snooze on my cell phone alarm!

7. What was your favorite TV show growing up?
Full House. I actually tried to change my name to Stephanie. No joke. That's what I put on myp papers when I was in the 3rd grade and I would only answer to Stephanie. I was a weird kid.

8. Will you, or did you, go to your 10 year high school reunion?
Hells no. Not a chance. I do not have fond memories of high school so I had no desire to go back and spend time with any of my classmates, to be quite honest.

9. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?

10. What, in your opinion, is the greatest invention? (You know, since sliced bread…)
Oh, that is tough. I am going to go with a pretty lame, generic answer and say electricity!! Have you ever lived without it? I did for a couple days when I visited a friend in the Peace Corp. It's a precious, precious thing we take for granted!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sunday Night Dinners: Thai Chicken in Coconut-Peanut Sauce

December was a bit of a wash for me in terms of cooking! I got back on track last week and intend to get back into the habit of cooking a big meal each Sunday.

On Sunday I made Thai Chicken in Coconut-Peanut Sauce. This recipe is on my aunt Barb's recipe website. As I've said before, my aunt is an amazing cook - I am so glad she started this recipe website! She has tried all the recipes she posts, so it's nice to know someone else has tried it, enjoyed it, and made alterations when need be! Check it out! I made her Spiced Pecans for Christmas and they were a huge hit with everyone!

Back to the recipe at hand - here are the pictures I took of the process!

As usual, here is my mis en place. A mis en place is especially important when you are stir frying! Everything happens so fast, so it is very important to have all the ingredients chopped & ready to go!

You start by stir frying the shallots, garlic, serrano chiles, ginger, coriander until golden brown (~2-3 minutes)

Stir in the coconut and bring to a boil.

Stir in the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and black pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until thick and richly flavored (~5 minutes).

Add in the chopped cilantro and cook for 1 minute.

Set sauce aside.

Stir fry the chicken, red pepper, and onion.

Add the peanut sauce and unsalted peanut. Mix and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.


I ate mine over some jasmine rice. It was delicious! I think next time I'll add another chili, add more lime juice, and use creamy peanut butter instead of chunky. The sauce seemed a little thick, so I think using creamy would have helped a bit. Regardless, it was a delicious dish - and it makes quite a bit! The leftovers were great last week!

Do you have a go to recipe that is great as leftovers? If so, send it my way! I am trying to be better about trying new recipes each month!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Christmas Day in Photos!

Time to share the rest of my photos from Christmas!

Matty loved his new Elmo doll!

My little reindeer Andrew & I.

My aunt Laurie is a elementary school teacher - she had so many craft projects planned for the kids!

My nephew Andrew, my cousin Allison, and my nephew Kolin, donning their reindeer antlers!

My grandma and her 4 kids. We haven't all been together for Christmas since 2000!

My aunt Betty (on the far left) used some of my grandpa's old sweaters to make mittens for all the girls in the family. It was such a neat thing to do with his sweaters. I will definitely always think of grandpa every time I wear these warm mittens!

My mom reading a bedtime story to Kolin and James.

Alright, video time. I almost didn't post these because you can hear my voice in them, and I HATE my voice! But, these videos are too cute not to share! Every time I watch them, they make me laugh.

Video #1 - Matty shoes off his singing skills! I like how he must sense the conclusion of the song so his voice gets a little louder at the end!

Video #2 - Matty shows off his dancing skills! His dance moves are kind of like a drunken sway!

That concludes my holiday re-cap! I can't believe Christmas has already come and gone - I had such a wonderful time with my family!!

What was your favorite memory from the holiday season? Oh, and do you hate the sound of your voice too?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

December Re-cap

Current Book(s):
Finished - Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (really liked this one), The Awakening by Kate Chopin (did not like this one AT ALL), Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman (liked this one, will review after my book club meeting later this month)

* super slow month of reading for me! In my defense, Outlander is 750 pages long! So it's kind of the equivalent of 2-3 books!

Current Music:
The new Parachute CD, Losing Sleep. Great CD.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure:
For the month of December, it was probably Peanut Butter Balls and the kiss & suger cookies my aunt bought for me!!

Current Colors:
I wore a lot of red this month!

Current Obsessions:
It's still knitting - it's such a relaxing hobby for me, so I have been trying to make time for it at least one evening each week.

Current Drink:
December was all about Lattes!

Current Song:
"End Where I Begin" by The Script

Current Movie:
The month of December was all about cheesy Hallmark and ABCFamily Christmas movies! I'm a sucker for any sappy holiday movie!

Current TV Shows:
Nothing stands out. I barely watched TV this month since I was not home very much!

Current Wish-List:
A new coffee pot. The one I own is just terrible. Now that I am cutting back on lattes, I make coffee almost every day so I need to upgrade!

Current Needs:
- Sleep
- More hours in the day
- A 'Christmas fairy' to come & take down my tree & all the holiday decorations in my condo!

Current Triumph:
Making it to my 90 day mark at work - my first 90 days are technically "probationary" which means they can fire you without cause. I kind of stressed about this whole probationary period for the first month or so - especially when a person in our program was let go within his first 90... it's nice to have this milestone behind me!

Current Bane of my Existence:
My alarm clock. Why does 5:15 have to come so fast each morning?

Current Goal:
Get back on track in terms of eating and working out. The last 2 weeks of December were pretty bad!

Current Indulgence:
Those peanut butter balls! They were so good!

Current Blessings:
My heated house. It dipped into the -10 to -20 degree range at the end of December. That is freaking cold.

Current Slang or Saying:
"I deserve this" - I pretty much use this to convince myself to eat things I shouldn't. Like candy from my co-worker's candy drawer. Or those GF holiday treats. When I tell myself I deserve to indulge, I feel way less guilty about it!

Current (Fav) Outfit:
I wore my gray/black plaid Ann Taylor Loft dress quite a bit this month! Even though it's ridiculously cold out, my favorite outfits are still dresses. Thank God for tights. :)

Current Excitement:
I'm pretty excited about the GPS I got for Christmas. I have been playing around with the accents on it - it's lovely to listen to someone speak with an Australian or British accent. It totally makes me grin ear to ear!

Current Mood:
Content and ready for 2010 and all it has to bring.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Books & miscellany

The December blogger book club book was "The Awakening." I have totally procrastinated on writing this review... You know that old adage, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all? Well, I really don't have anything nice to say about this book. I didn't like it. At all. In fact, I was reading it at the cabin over Christmas and told my sister-in-law that I was contemplating throwing it in the fireplace. That's how much I did not care for this book!

I couldn't relate to the character and I thought she was rather whiny. I understand that women during her time period had very few options and were kind of 'stuck' with the domestic life, but that doesn't mean that infidelity is ok. I thought there were a lot of parallels between this book and "Anna Karenina" - and I also did not feel a lot of pity for Anna's character either.

So I will just stop there because it's not fun to hear someone go on and on about how much they don't like something. If you read this book and liked it - please tell me why! I'd love to know what I missed while reading it!


Moving on. The January book for our blogger book club is "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson. I read it this fall & liked it so much, I bought the 2nd book (it's part of a 3 book series). I haven't had a chance to read the 2nd book yet ("The Girl who Played with Fire") but hopefully I will get to it this spring!

Just a reminder - the book club is open to anyone and everyone who is interested! Just stop by The Many Thoughts of a Reader. She will post questions throughout the month.


Now for the miscellany part of the post.

Remember the football pool thing I told you about last month? I WON! Granted, it was an 8 way tie, but I still win about $38. Can't complain about that! I promised my co-worker Pat that I would read and review a sports-related book if I won the pool. So stayed tuned for that... I don't really 'do sports' so reading a sports-related book is going to be interesting.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ten on Tuesdays

I'm back with the first edition of Ten on Tuesday in 2010, courtesy of Chelsea. Want to play along? Just click on the 'Ten on Tuesday' clip art on her blog - she posts the questions on Monday night!

This week's questions are all food/cooking/kitchen related! I know quite a few foodies read this blog - you should definitely play along this week!!

1. Are there any movies that inspire you to bake/cook?
- Julie & Julia does, but then I get super intimidated by the thought of making a Julia Child recipe!

2. What’s your favorite food blog and why?
- Mine is Gluten-Free Goddess. Her recipes are awesome - I swear you wouldn't even know there wasn't any gluten in them!

3. Who’s your favorite celebrity chef?
- Alton Brown! I love how he incorporates science in his cooking show!

4. What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
- Probably my rice cooker. Seriously, if you like rice but don't own one, go buy one. The rice turns out amazing when you use a rice cooker.

5. When it comes to cooking/baking, what’s your specialty?
- Probably Shrimp Pasta Arrabiata.

6. When in the kitchen, do you wear an apron, if so, any cute ones you’d like to share?
- Heck yes! An apron in the kitchen is a must! My current favorite is the one I'm wearing below - I bought the aprons that my aunt & I are wearing at Anthropology. They have the BEST aprons! And by the way - I think aprons are the best gift - it's definitely my go to gift for the ladies in my life!

7. Is there anything that intimidates you when it comes to baking/cooking? (ex. Pie crust, yeast breads, sauces, etc…)
- yes, yes, and yes - when it comes to cooking. I can handle baking because baking requires precision. A recipe for cookies or a cake doesn't say, "sugar to taste". I HATE it when a recipe say 'salt to taste' or 'season to taste'.

8. What’s the weirdest gadget in your kitchen?
- I can't really think of anything weird!

9. What’s your go-to music for cooking/baking?
- Lately, I have been listening to the Buena Vista Social Club. It's great background music for all the slicing & dicing!

10. After several failures, what do you do to motivate yourself to get back in the kitchen to try again?
- Well, I have no option but to go back and try again. I live alone and a person can only eat so many microwaved baked potatoes. Luckily, since I live alone, I am the only person who knows when something is a complete failure!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Eve in Photos!

I'm finally getting around to sharing some photos of my holiday with you! We'll start with some photos from Christmas Eve.

We started the day with a friendly game of Chutes & Ladders. I played Andrew and James - and won! I don't believe in letting kids win - is that bad?

Things were getting chaotic when we were preparing dinner so I read a book to the boys to get them out of the kitchen. Truth be told - it was good for me to get out of the kitchen, too!! I'm definitely far from talented when it comes to cooking!

Our beautiful tree with LOTS of presents!!

My little sister and I. My nephews still have a tough time telling us apart!

Matty liked his gifts...

but he also really liked this box!

While the adults opened gifts, Andrew put together the puzzle I had gave him. He definitely takes after me and LOVES to put puzzles together. Perhaps we have another math major in the making?

On Friday I'll share pictures from Christmas Day - and a couple of videos!