Tuesday, January 11, 2011

GIVEAWAY

source
 Do you like coffee?  Hot Tea?  Scones?  Muffins? Cookies?  If you do, you'll want to enter this Starbucks giveaway on A's blog.  You can win a $50 gift card to Starbucks and some delicious black and white cookies!  Remember this giveaway I told you about?  The winner was yours truly.  I'm having a blast browsing the CSN network and picking out home decor!  There's so much to choose from that I haven't made up my mind yet.   So go ahead and enter this new giveaway and you could be drinking iced coffee until March!

Why Did The Cowboy Want To Get A Dachshund?

So, about that driveway I shoveled yesterday.  It's covered again!  Maybe I'll break out the shovel sometime today....
Buster's enjoying himself.  Little man is running around the backyard like a bucking bronco. It's fun to watch him romp in the snow.
Sister's been lounging on the couch with me.  She's my little buddy!
Kyle took the 4WD vehicle today, leaving me officially snowed in.  In keeping with the theme of past snow days, I've productive today.  First, I made an appointment for the dogs to get their teeth cleaned. I've been meaning to do this for a month now- they have terrible breath.  Think trashcan at a sea food restaurant meets ten-day-old deer carcass.  No joke.  Many people brush their pup's teeth, but Sissy won't even open her mouth for us.  It's a little dog thang.  I also wrote a birthday card for my father-in-law.  The front of the card had a dachshund dressed as a cowboy and question in the title of this post: "Why did the cowboy want to get a dachshund?" Be sure to say the answer with a Southern twang:   "To get a long little doggie." After that I got moving on my New Year's Resolution to learn how to make something.

I browsed the course catalog for the Columbia Career Center.  CCC is a place people go to develop skills for their employment or take classes for personal enrichment.  The first class that caught my eye was cheese making.  It was affordable, met two nights in April, and at the end I would have the skills and materials to make my own cheese.  I've wanted to learn cheese making since reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
source
Unfortunately, when I went to register for the class- it was full.  Major bummer.  For now, I am #3 on the wait list!   I was able to register for DIY: Residential Energy Conservation. It's a free class and meets two nights in March.  What'd you bet I'm the only girl in the class? That everything they talk about will be over my head?  I'll be sure to take good notes so that for next year's gift exchange I can gift someone an energy audit. There were a few other classes I was interested in- Showgirl Cardio, Introduction to Clogging, and Spring Forsest Qigong Level 1, but they all conflicted with work commitments.  SHUCKS! 

For breakfast today I had Stonyfield blueberry yogurt with granola and flax seed and a Cascadian Farm white chocolate chip granola bar.  Hope you're enjoying this snowy day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sous-Chef In The House

I'll be honest- I don't do much cooking around the house.  I leave for work before Kyle and get home an hour after him, so he ends up doing most of the cooking in the house.  I'm more of the sous-chef.  I clean, peel, cut, shred- all of that good stuff.  I was thankful tonight that Kyle and I had planned out our menu for the week because when 6:30 rolled around as we were watching Mad Men I asked Kyle, "So, am I just going to snack all night?"  Knowing that meant eating everything in the pantry- he jumped up and looked at the menu.  Then said, "We can either have trout or beef stir fry with oranges."  It was easiest to defrost the beef, so we went with that one.  I was a jolly sous-chef preparing the ingredients Kyle needed to make the stir fry all while singing a song about Kyle to the tune of Mr. Grinch!  The fresh ingredients that went into this stir fry were two oranges and four scallions.  Today has been such an ORANGE day!
 The finished dish, served with brown rice is quite tasty and very filling.  I only ate one bowl.  This stir fry sure is a step up from the orange chicken I used to chow down on at Panda Express. 
Tonight's dinner was a yummy success, and tomorrow night I am on my own for making dinner.  That's because I have a SNOW DAY tomorrow.  Being a teacher rocks!  I'm planning to make a meatless dish for dinner while still making sure it has an adequate amount of protein.  Along with cooking, I also plan on cleaning the house tomorrow and finishing up some books.  Right now I am reading 3 books.  YUCK!  I much prefer monogamy when it comes to books, but alas, I am reading Basket Case by Carl Hiassen, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and Food Matters by Mark Bittman.  Tomorrow I plan to either finish these books or put them back on the shelf for another time.  Can't wait to sleep in tomorrow!  Jealous?

I Never Noticed....

I never noticed how big my driveway was until I shoveled it.  We got snow in Missouri today and unlike for our friends in the mountains and on the east coast, this is a big deal.  I was antsy all day about the impending snow.  So when we got out of school 45 minutes early, I rushed home at 15 mph to enjoy it.  First, I let the pups out to frolic- Buster goes CRAZY in the snow.  I'm fairly sure he defies gravity when he jumps from the snow onto our porch.  Sis finds the smallest patch of grass, does her business, and comes right inside the house.  When the pups were safe inside, I dashed out to the driveway to get a-shoveling.  My goal was to surprise Kyle when he got home with a perfectly shoveled driveway.  An hour later, the driveway was shoveled and my back hurt.  I truly never realized how big my driveway is.  No more surprises, from now on Kyle's helping out with the shoveling!

I'm a little behind on these celebrity divorces; I just found out today about Ryan and Scarlett.  I didn't like Scarlett until she married Ryan.  Then I figured, if he thinks she's cool, then I think she's cool.  Now I'm not sure what to think.  It just goes to show money and ridiculously good looks can't buy happiness.  I mean, come on Scarlett, I shouldn't be able to do anything better than you, but I'm still married.  The most heart breaking for me to hear about was Eva and Tony's divorce.  I thought those two were cute together, and she always seemed so happy with him.   I wonder if people in Hollywood have to go through marriage counseling the way us regular people do.  Maybe it would prevent these sad stories.

Breakfast today was an orange.  For lunch I had leftovers!  YUM!  Fish chowder, carrots, and hummus.  After shoveling the driveway, I ate the rest of the sweet potato pancakes.  It's been a very orange day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Am I Doing This Right?

Over winter break and at work last week, I noticed something.  Most women wear their wedding band in front of their engagement ring.  I asked one friend about it, and she said, "You got engaged first, then got married.  So the engagement ring should be on the finger first, then the wedding band.  I've been wearing my rings the opposite way- band first, then engagement ring.  Which leads me to wonder, have I been wearing my rings wrong for three years?  Followed by, why didn't anyone tell me?
 I had a late lunch today.  In an effort to complete my FOOD RAINBOW, I had blueberry Stonyfield yogurt with granola, two kiwi, and chips and salsa (I was waaay too optimistic with the apple in the picture, it didn't get eaten!).  Salsa was the red of my rainbow instead!
 Dinner was homemade fish chowder.  It's a Robin Miller recipe and one of my favorite soup recipes.  It looks and tastes like it has heavy cream in it, but is actually a low-fat soup.  Robin Miller's recipes are often low-fat and high taste.  Must be why we have all of her cookbooks!  : )
After dinner I enjoyed some Julie's Organic Cookies and Cream ice cream.  So yum.  Unfortunately, the ice cream didn't add anything to my food rainbow.  By the end of the day, I had eaten 5 out of the 7 colors.  Darn you indigo and violet! 

I'm wondering: if you have a wedding band and engagement ring, how do you wear them?  Have I actually been wearing mine incorrectly for three years?

Saving Calories, Money, And The Environment

It's the common question we're all asked when we go out to restaurants: "What can I get you to drink?"  Although sometimes its phrased, "What would you like to drink?" or "Can I get you something to drink?"  I most commonly answer this question: water.  That's really all I ever want to drink at a restaurant, although I'll occasionally order a beer when I'm out with friends or a glass of milk on the rare occasions I'm at a restaurant for breakfast.  Water though seems to be the most eco-friendly option.  It's also the cheapest option.

When Kyle and I go out to eat alone, we both always get water.  The other day, I was curious as to how much money this had saved us over the course of our 8 year relationship.  So I did a little math, let's say Kyle and I have gone out to eat twice a month over 8 years.  8 years X 12 months X 2 eating out two times a month = 192 times eating at restaurants.  Now, lets pretend Kyle and I both ordered soda or iced tea each time we went out.  192 times eating at restaurants X 2 drinks each time = 384 drinks.  That actually doesn't seem like much over the course of 8 years...  Now, let's figure out how much money we would have spent on these drinks.  384 drinks X 1.46 average dollars per drink = 560.64 dollars.  Now, we can't forget to add in the tip, we'll be conservative and tip exactly 15 percent, so (560.64 X .15) + 560.64 = 644.74 dollars.    Also, can you imagine the calories it's saved?  192 drinks per person X 100 calories per drink (min.)= 19,200 calories or 5.48 pounds per person- now that's A LOT, even over 8 years! As can see, we've saved a huge chunk of change and calories over the years just by answering the age old question, "What would you like to drink?" with one simple word: water.

For breakfast today I had two sweet potato pancakes and an orange.
After enjoying this monocromatic breakfast, I challenged myself to eat a FOOD RAINBOW  today.  In other words, throughout the day, I will to eat foods representing all colors of the rainbow. No, candy doesn't count.  Although, it would be easy to chow down on a bag of Skittles and call it a day....  For now, one color down- six colors to go!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A New Way To Eat Dinner

If there were an award for World's Best Dog Mom, I most certainly would NOT get it.  My dog children are not well-adjusted nor are they well-behaved around strangers.  Their bad behavior, mainly Buster's, is augmented by them being cooped up everyday when it's below freezing outside.  Buster has a dreadful case of cabin fever. It's so bad that every time he looks at me his eyes plead, "Will you play with me?"  I LOVE playing with my pup, but I can only do it for so long~ 30 min/day.   I would LOVE to go on a walk with my little Buster, but he pulls so hard on the leash that his paws to bleed.  Plus, I leave for work when the sun comes up and come back home well after it's set- leaving no time to go for walk.  Walking the dog outside all by myself at night is not an option- I get scared too easily- embarrassing, but true.

Kyle and I were so desperate to placate Buster today that we let Busty destroy his snowflake toy.  We thought if he destroyed it, he'd stop bothering us to throw it to him.  Wrong.  He destroyed it, we threw it away, and he kept whining for the toy.  Jumping at the cabinet we stored it on and whining- it was just as annoying as it sounds. After a morning of Buster bothering us, we knew we had to do something- for our mental health as well as his.  So after our walk we went to our favorite local pet store in Columbia: Lizzi and Rocco's Natural Pet Market.  After talking with Jessica, one of the store's owners, we decided to get Buster an interactive food dispenser.  We went with the Bob-A-Lot.  It was super easy to fill with Buster's food.  I just unscrewed the top and put the food in so simple!  Then I put the Bob-A-Lot on the ground and the real fun began!
Here's a video of him eating treats so you can see how it works.   Buster had a blast with this toy.  And his dinner- which he usually eats in 10 seconds, was slowly consumed over a period of 10 minutes.  Just as advertised- Buster was a "Pet Gone Mild."  We plan on feeding Buster his dinner in this every night with the hopes that it will keep him too occupied to scratch on the door or jump up at us as we eat.  I told you my fur child wasn't well-adjusted or well-mannered, but he is cute and hopefully with the Bob-A-Lot, he will be happier during this long, cold winter!

video

First Farmer's Market Trip of 2011

This morning Kyle and I did something we always say we'll do, but never get around to actually doing; we planned out our meals for the week.  After pouring over our Martha Stewart and Robin Miller cookbooks, we had our meals picked out and a grocery list. We were planning to go straight to the grocery store, when  I remembered the farmer's market was on the way.  We stopped by to see what was for sale at the indoor market.  I was SHOCKED by how much was available in January.  I even saw a tomato!   We bought two things that were on our list: eggs and sweet potatoes and one thing that wasn't: arugula.
Excited about my fresh ingredients, I got right to work making sweet potato pancakes for lunch.  After peeling sweet potatoes, I was challenged with the task of shredding them.  Normally, I use a cheese grater like this, but today I tried out the shredder attachment for my Cuisinart food processor.  In 20 seconds, my one pound sweet potato turned into this gloriousness. 
 After mixing in a few ingredients, I began frying the pancakes.
 Twenty minutes later, I had 12 delectable sweet potato pancakes.  I ate four of them for lunch with some low-fat sour cream  It was an amazing!  I definitely need to eat these more often!
After lunch, Kyle and I took Buster on a walk at Forum Nature area.  It was FREEZING, but we had to get our little guy out of the house because he was going CRAZY.   He pulled me the entire time, but it was worth it because he was happily worn out on the car ride home.
 I rocked the skinny jean and tennis shoe look.  This is the style, right?  lol
 All in all, it was a great Saturday morning and afternoon.  Now I'm looking forward to a night of lounging on the couch with Kyle and the pups.  Netflix here we come!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Poison Windows!

Jackpot. Bus Stop. *any other random word.*  What game do these come from?  That'd be four square- played with 8 year-olds.  I was invited to play four square today and knew I'd be awesome at it- I rocked it back in the day.  However, back in the day (90s) there were rules to four square.  For example, if the ball bounced twice in your square- you're out.  These days?  No no- you can yell out any random phrase, poison windows for example, and make a up a rule to go with it so that you can stay in the game.  Times are a changing.... I secretly want to play all of the games at recess- soccer, Warriors (a role-play game where everyone gets to be a cat), and monkey bars.  Most of all, I want to play tether ball; it looks like an amazing arm workout. 

I can't describe how thankful I am for my job.  It is truly the only reason I am able to stay in shape.  There is literally no time to snack at work.  So, I have my breakfast (an orange) and lunch (yogurt, granola, carrots, hummus, and an apple) and I'm good till dinner!  Love being too busy to snack all day long! Here's the grub that awaited me on the kitchen table when I arrived home from work: one buffalo taco with all the fixings, an orange, kiwi, and milk.  This dinner was much more my style than yesterday's meal.
What was your favorite recess game back in the day?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Buster's New Toy

Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers.  They would burrow into a badger hole and fight the creature till its death.  Buster has all of this Dachshund persistence and more.  He obsesses over things- namely toys and people.  Until recently, we haven't been able to find a toy he couldn't destroy.  Even toys scoring 9 out of 10 on the durability scale and costing $12.  No, those toys were literally ripped to shreds in an hour or two.  This is why we bought Sissy for Buster; surely he wouldn't rip her to shreds in an hour.  And he hasn't, but with winter in full force Buster needed more exercise than he could get by running around the house with Sis, so we decided to try another toy.  This toy was dirt cheap, bought at Petsmart at an after Christmas sale.  We've been playing fetch for about 20 minutes each day in the house since buying the toy last week.  Buster LOVES it and does a good job retrieving the ball and dropping it for us to throw again. Here he is waiting patiently for dog dad to throw his newest obsession.
 He's off!
 Brought it back, but not ready to give it up.
 Waiting for Kyle to pick it up and throw it again. I'm amazed at how nice it still looks.  The stuffing is STILL inside of the toy along with the squeaker.  Miracle. 
 Sissy is slightly interested in the toy, but mostly she hangs out watching Buster act crazy with it.
Update on the People Towel experience:  I've had the towel at work for two days now. The first day, I found myself down in the lounge or far away from my desk whenever I needed a towel.  I ended up using it only one time.  But hey, that saved one or two paper towels, right?  Today, I used the towel twice.  An improvement!  My goal for tomorrow is to use the towel 3 times.

Are We Running a 10K tomorrow?

Today was my first day back at work in almost two weeks.  I have to say, the day was actually pretty good.  I love the way a break can excite me about my job again.  When I arrived home from my second job this evening, I was greeted by the sweet aroma of a dinner I didn't have to make.  Roasted cauliflower and pasta. Look at the size of my serving of pasta, compliments of Kyle.  Do I look like a linebacker?  Are we running a race tomorrow?  SERIOUSLY.  I ate all of my cauliflower and bread, but only half of the spaghetti.  Anyone else wondering where the color is in the meal?  How about the protein?  Love my husband, but this meal wasn't the most balanced. 
My favorite part was the cauliflower.  Here's the recipe; it's adapted from one in a Martha Stewart cookbook.

Roasted Cauliflower
              makes two servings
1/2 head of cauliflower cut into small pieces
1tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. paprika

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2.  Place all ingredients in a bowl with a lid.
3.  Shake ingredients together until the cauliflower is well-covered in paprika.
4.  Spread cauliflower in a single layer on a cookie sheet (I always cover mine with foil first)
5.  Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until cauliflower is lightly browned.

Now for the pasta recipe, boil spaghetti, drain, and cover with pasta sauce.  Complicated, right?  LOL.  Could this dinner be the motivation I need to start making dinner again?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Blast from the Past

I was reading my old Xanga today when I stumbled upon this gem.  I filled this survey out 6 years ago as a 19 year old and remember it being a lot of fun.  Here I go again!  But first I have to change all the 2004s to 2010s and 2005s to 2011s. 

 -The Year 2010 in Review-
1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before? bought a new car, tried rock climbing, visited Yosemite, saw elephant seals, made an effort to eat locally & organically, worked summer school, biked on the Katy Trail, toured Alcatraz, biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, planted a garden
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? no and yes- learn how to make something and drink more water
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope
4. Did anyone close to you die? no
5. What countries did you visit? stayed stateside this year
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?  motivation
7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?  There really isn't one.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? teaching kids : )
9. What was your biggest failure? keeping in touch with friends.  I'm terrible about calling people!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? swine flu
11. What was the best thing you bought? CAR!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? local farmers 
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Monsanto
14. Where did most of your money go? car

15.  How many weddings did you go to?  Three- one uncle, one cousin, and a family friend                                                   
16. What song will always remind you of 2004? "I throw my hands up in the air sometimes." I don't know who sings that song, but I LOVE it 
17. What do you wish you'd done more of? running, reading, and rock climbing (indoors, of course!)
18. What do you wish you'd done less of? worrying
19. Did you fall in love in 2004? yes, with a dog named Sophie

20. What was your favorite TV program? Gosh, there are too many to name.  Here are my top three: Modern Family, 30 Rock, and Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
21. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I don't hate
 
22. What was the best book you read? Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
23. What was your greatest musical discovery? well, I invented the piano, so that was pretty cool.  Other than that, I haven't discovered anything.
24. What did you want and get? a new car
25. What did you want and not get? frizz-free hair

26. What was your favorite film of this year? Food, INC.
27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 25, went to work for a few hours, then came home and Kyle made me dinner- chicken with peaches
28. What kept you sane?  Kyle
29. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I'm totally obsessed with the whole William and Kate engagement
30. What political issue stirred you the most? genetically modified foods/pesticide use/factory farms
31. Who did you miss? Beth, Maureen, Nancy, Jessica, Katie, Jenny.... pretty much anyone I could wear an ugly Christmas sweater around without judgment

32. Who was the best new person you met?   no idea- I met some pretty cool people
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.  "We vote three times a day- with with every dollar we spend on food." Or something like that, basically what it boils down to is that we support whatever practices we spend our money on. 

34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. "Life is a highway."  

Gosh, that was more difficult to fill out than I had remembered.  I had thought 2010 was rather mundane, but it seems to be one for the memory book after all. 

New Year, New Shower Curtain

Today standing in the check out line of Old Navy, a parent from school walked into the store and called my name.  I looked up and she said something I didn't really understand/hear, so I responded with a half-laugh and "yeah" which is what I always do if I can't hear someone or am just not listening to them.  This parent started laughing after I said, "yeah" which got me thinking, what did I just say 'yeah' to?  I turned to Kyle who asked me "What did she say?"  I whispered, "I don't have any idea."  Then he replied, "I think she said you shop a lot."  That got me wondering do I shop a lot?  Jury's out.

After a few impulse buys at Old Navy, K and I hit up Columbia's first Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  We were on the hunt for perfect curtains for our living room, but ended up purchasing a shower curtain for our guest bathroom instead.  Here's a view of the before curtain.  It's one we registered for 3 years ago when we were getting married and obviously, we painted the bathroom to match it.  It's a nice shower curtain, but it looked a little more formal than I wanted the room to look and it didn't fit with our personalities which is, of course, important for a shower curtain to do!
Here's the new curtain.  I like how casual the bathroom looks with it; the room's not matchy-matchy like it was with the other curtain.  Plus, with Kyle recently obsessed with bird watching (he's out looking for owls right now) and I currently wearing a necklace with a bird on it, we think this curtain totally fits our personalities.
 Blue and orange bird anyone? 
 How about an orange and gold one?
I hope to make more changes like this throughout the house this year, not covering it with birds, but taking decorating risks that fit my our personality.  Maybe I'll even prove that parent right by shopping a lot.  Happy 2011!