Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Week and A Half In Review

I guess I have been MIA... I just felt like I had so much to write last week when I returned from Maryland and I was busy/overwhelmed that I didn't know where to start, so now you will get an overview of what I've been up to...

October 22nd - I flew out to Washington DC/Maryland to visit Karin for her birthday weekend. Our friend Shawn was out there Wed-Sun, and I went Sat-Tues. Saturday night her friends threw her a birthday party, so we ate dinner with them (yummmm!!) and had some drinks and got to know her friends, it was a great time. I lost 2-1 in Rock Paper Scissors to Shawn, so I drove them home. It was a good loss, as I had a great time at the party and no hangover on Sunday :)

The 23rd - Sunday, Karin got up early to drive Shawn to the airport. I slept in a little and then we sat around and talked, watched an episode of Friends - The One Where They All Turn Thirty. Can't say that I've seen it in reruns so it was fun :) Then we figured out where we were going to watch the Packer/Viking game and headed out. We went to a bar/restaurant not too far from her house and watched the game amid a lot of TVs and fans for many teams. Thankfully either MN fans don't exist in Germantown, or their hopes for the season were already dashed and didn't show up. Sunday night, Karin introduced me to Desparate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy. Both were good shows.. Not that I need more tv to watch. Actually I think I will try to get Season 1 of Desparate Housewives and watch them in order.

Monday, Oct 24th - Karin turned 30! We woke up, not too early. We ate some breakfast and sat around for a while figuring out what Karin wanted to do for her birthday! We went to Best Buy, so she could get a new router and then Barnes and Noble for some good browsing! I picked up A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey, as I got hooked on the first 5 pages in the store. (I am nearly done and it is great!! I think Chad and Karin are both in line to read it when I'm done) We then ate lunch, did some browsing at Target and Ann Taylor Loft and then headed to an afternoon matinee where we saw "Just Like Heaven" Cute movie. Somewhat predictable, but we both enjoyed. We stopped for coffee to warm ourselves up on the way home. Monday night, we watched TV and played SuDoku.

Tuesday, Oct 25th - Still did not wake up very early. It was raining pretty steady. Ate some breakfast, watched an episode of Oprah that Karin had recorded, I read, and we both played SuDoku some more... Then we braved the rain for some soup at Panera. When we got back, I packed up and we sat around some more, before Karin and Jackson drove me to the airport. It was a great trip. So relaxing. I can't remember the last time I sat around reading and watching TV!

Wednesday, Oct 26th - Back to work! Checked my online course and found out I have homework (that I should be doing right now, yuk) Before my trip, I thought I planned it right by coming back to a 3 day trip... but my job is one where if you're not there, things don't necessarily get done while you're gone, so by the end of the week, I was wishing that I had come back to a 5 day work week, just so catching up wasn't so overwhelming.

Thurs, Oct 27th - Another day at work... I found out that I had to sign up to continue with the bus program by Monday and this year I had to commit for the whole year... but at a savings of $400/year. It's worth considering... The commitment to working downtown is the hardest right now... That night, Chad and I headed to the MOA to find a rock band tshirt for his Halloween costume. I also picked up some acid washed jeans at Marshall's...

Friday the 28th - Another day at work... My manager was out all week with a very sick daughter. I talked to another manager in our group about some of my frustrations. It helped to know she understood. I think the bus pass situation is just really making me think about what I want to do... Friday night, Sarah and Curt came over. It was great to see them. Curt hadn't been to our house yet and Sarah hadn't since the weekend we moved, so it was fun. We went out to dinner and just hung out.


Saturday (yesterday) - I got up early to make a birthday cake for Katelyn. I had been in DC for her birthday so the party was yesterday. She wanted a Cookie Monster cake, and it's one of the cutest cakes I've made. The hair was all done with a new tip and not just "stars"...

The cake was a hit, and all the kids had very blue mouths! I think Katelyn had a good time even without a nap!

After Katelyn's party, we came home and got dressed up for a Halloween party at my friend Travis' house. We went to high school together and he lives about 5 minutes away. I hadn't seen several of his friends for quite a while, so it was fun. It was an 80's theme party, so we went with big hair, black rock t-shirts (Poison and Van Halen) and rolled up jeans.

Today, Sunday Oct 30th - Even with the extra hour it was tough to get up... My brother and Drew came over to watch the Packers along with some friends from Stout. I made some apple crisps and we had sandwiches on homemade buns (new recipe to be posted later) It was a tough loss. And it really sucks that the Vikings are one game up, as they really suck! At least in many of the Packers losses they've had a chance! Oh well.

That's about it. I have homework to do.. and I have to get ready for a full week of work---

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An American Tragedy


So I finally finished this book. It was like 856 pages long. I had read it before in High School, but I didn't remember it very well.

It was about a boy/man named Clyde who grows up without much, and dreams of being so much more, of having wealth and the good life. And while he is out pursuing this he gets into trouble. First an accident in his hometown of Kansas City where a young girl is run over and killed, so he flees to Chicago. He then goes to (I believe New York State) to work for his uncle, where he meets a girl, Roberta, who works for him. They start seeing each other secretly, as he is her boss, and there are rules. All the while he hopes to become friends with beautiful Sondra, friend of his cousin, whom he met at his uncle's. When he finally catches Sondra's attentions, things are serious with Roberta and she is pregnant and insists he marry her.

He is able to put her off, hoping she will go away or they can "end" her pregnancy, so he doesn't lose Sondra. When he can't put her off any longer, a story of a drowning in the area catches his eye. He begins to imagine (plot) Roberta drowning.

Long story short, he drowns her and is caught. And the evidence is stacked against him. He is tried for the death penalty, but there are so many arguments and his mind is a little off base. A lot of blame is placed on Roberta and even on the events of his life, leading him to "wanting" the good life.

Apparently this is based on a true story that took place in the 1920s when this book was written. It is long... detailed, and somewhat tedious and slow at times, but if you are prepared for that, it's a very good book.

Hopefully I'll have time to do some more "non-textbook" reading soon!

Pasta Sausage Supper

This is a recipe that my mom sent me from her Quick Cooking magazine. It was very yummy! And a nice quick evening dinner. I used whole wheat pasta (which I keep telling you is so yummy) When I make it again, I will cook the sausage for a while longer before adding the veggies, so the sausage "crisps" up a little more.

Pasta Sausage Supper

16 ounces penne pasta

1 pound fully-cooked light Polish sausage -- cut into 1/4" slices
1 medium green pepper -- julienned
1 medium red pepper -- julienned
1 medium onion -- halved and sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
26 ounces meatless spaghetti sauce -- warmed

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the sausage, peppers and onion in oil until vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain pasta; divide among six serving plates. Top with spaghetti sauce. Using a slotted spoon, top with sausage mixture.

Source: "Quick Cooking magazine, March/April 2005"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 403 Calories; 4g Fat (9.0% caloriesfrom fat); 13g Protein; 77g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol;970mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Another 40 days and 40 nights?

Does anyone else find it odd that our country seems to be under repeatedly attacked by destructive rain in so many parts of the country??

Hurricane Wilma is just getting stronger and there are mudslides in Southern California...

Rain even took its toll in Burnsville a few weeks ago :) But seriously... it's odd.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Procrastinating and Pumpkin Cake

I've been putting off my homework all day. I didn't want to do it, and our neighbors were nice enough to mow our lawn for us last week, so I made these mini-pumpkin cakes. I normally make it in a bundt pan, but since I was going to be sharing, I made them in my Pampered Chef Mini-Fluted Pan Stone which I earned free once. Then I filled the center in with cream cheese frosting.... yum...


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My mom always made this cake for us without frosting, it is so good. I think the recipe came from a friend of hers. Here's the recipe:

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
1 teaspoon salt
4 egg -- beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 can pumpkin (2 cups)
1 cup oil

Beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar; beat until thick. Add pumpkin and oil and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients. Pour into greased and floured bundt tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert on cooling rack and cool thoroughly.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Saturday Saturday

Nothing planned!! I need to do some homework sometime this week, and I need to return those pants.. but other than that... I may go to Joann Fabrics for some Halloween preparations:)

And Ikea for a chair... I love Saturday's like this...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oprah

I love the Oprah show. I think she is great, so I'm very excited for the new shows this season. The other day was a good one. You can find the recap here. It was all about Poverty in the United States. The numbers are astounding. 37 Million people (the population of Canada) live at or below the poverty line.

That number to me is astounding. Oprah and some correspondents (including Anderson Cooper, Maria Shriver, and Gayle King) went to various parts of the country to talk with some poor people. I don't know about most of you, but I can't imagine living on $500/month, let alone with kids to feed and clothe.

Oprah talked to people in Pembroke, Illinois, where 40% of the population does not have running water! I mean I knew I grew up wearing my brother's hand me downs, shopping at thrift stores, and eating free school lunches and government cheese, but we ALWAYS had running water. We always had health insurance, and we never skipped a whole meal because we didn't have money for food.

The point they were trying to make is that these people are invisible, that most Americans do not know these people exist (at least I hope it's just ignorance rather than a lack of caring). And it's true, Hurricane Katrina opened a lot of eyes to the problem. Oprah thinks its a turning point in our nation... but I don't know. It's been about 7 weeks since the hurricane hit, and so many people still don't know how they're going to rebuild their lives or even where. And it seems the rest of us have kind of moved on...It's not forgotten, but it's not front page news. Plus I don't think that people are aware of the situations in so many other places in the country. Not aware that 1 in 3 people in Detroit live below the poverty line, and that 40% of a whole community in Illinois do not even have running water.

And unfortunately for many poor people, there aren't a whole lot of second chances. If you live paycheck to paycheck, most likely any unexpected car maintenance (or rising gas prices or bus fares) can throw off your whole "budget". Ending up in the emergency room without insurance could wipe out the grocery budget, or ruin your credit. I am fortunate to have many safety nets including my family and friends who will be there for me if all else fails "to catch" me.

It makes me feel so very very fortunate and blessed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wash and Return??

In high school, I worked at TJMaxx. I know the crap people used to try and return. It was pretty unbelievable, and I'd like to not put myself in that category.

But here's the deal. I have a new favorite store. It's Ann Taylor Loft. A few weeks ago, I bought 2 new pairs of pants there. I have still to wear one pair it is an olive green pair, but the identical style to the khaki pair that I wore. I also just bought a pair of jeans from there. They are different fabrics but have identical care labels. Wash in cold, tumble dry on low, warm iron if necessary.

Last night doing laundry, the jeans got washed in one load, and the khaki pants got washed in another. The jeans came out fine. The khaki pants shrunk!! Not just a little. Prior to washing them, I had to wear 3" heels with them. I was planning on hemming them after I washed them. But wow.. now they are too short with flats I would have to let the hem out to wear them, and should probably drop 5 lbs to wear them well. When I laid them out next to the unwashed olive pair, they were at least 2" shorter!

So I paid $40 for them and don't have the tags and I wore them twice before I washed them. I have the receipt. Can I return them or exchange them. I'd settle for an exchange, because I like them, and I would just not ever put them in the dryer. Any suggestions on what I should do?? I just hate to be the problem customer...

Mexican Lasagna Note

It heats up really well for lunch the next day!!!

YUMMMMM!!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mexican Lasagna

It's a keeper. At least according to Chad. This recipe was excellent! I got a free cookbook from Herberger's a long time ago. It is reminiscent of a good Minnesota cookbook, with recipes submitted by "us average folk". I gave it away when we moved, but I copied a few interesting recipes from it, including this one which was submitted by Sharon Johnson of Albert Lea, MN.

I used ground turkey instead of beef and added 1 tsp cumin, onions, garlic, and beef broth flavor when I was browning it in addition to the other spices. Next time I will probably fry some green peppers in with it too. I also added some more salsa and water, as it didn't cover the top layer with the amount specified, and I omitted the black olives, as neither of us love them. I also used light sour cream and reduced fat cheese. Next time I will look harder for whole wheat noodles. Cub didn't carry them. Maybe Byerly's... anyone know where I can find them?

Mexican Lasagna
From Herberger’s cookbook (Sharon Johnson, Albert Lea, MN)

1 # hamburger
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 can refried beans
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 (16 oz) jar salsa or picante sauce
2 ½ cup water
1 (16 oz) sour cream
2 cup shredded cheese
Sliced black olives
Lettuce

Brown hamburger with spices, add refried beans. In greased 9”x13” pan, place 4 uncooked noodles and half of meat mixture. Next add 4 more noodles and remaining meat mixture. Cover with 4 more noodles. Mix water with salsa. Pour over layers of noodles and meat. Cover lightly with foil and bake 1 ½ hours at 350 or until noodles are done. Layer with sour cream, cheese, and black olives. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese melts. Serve on lettuce.

The Week got away on Sunday

We had a very nice weekend. We had Jane and Carl's wedding on Saturday which of course was great. I reveled in being the matchmaker, and they were even so thoughtful as to get me my own bouquet of flowers. It was a great day, and the reception was on the Harriet Bishop paddle boat. After the boat ride, we went to the Local where we had the upstairs reserved. It was very nice.

Sunday, I got up early and planned "food" for the week. And went to the grocery store. Got dinner in the crock pot before watching the Packers kick some New Orleans tail. Great game, even if I did snooze a little, and we lost another good player for the season (Davenport). Packers have a bye this week, and next week they head up here to MN. Hopefully for a repeat of the game we saw last Christmas Eve at the Dome! I will be in the DC area with Karin watching from a far, but with no less interest!

I should have done more on Sunday, but didn't really think about it until the evening. Busy week, bowling last night. Plus we also have book club on Friday and I have about 150 pages left, and I have an assignment due on Friday, Oh and book club is at my house, so we have to clean. Don't worry. I work great under pressure. I just know I will be tired on Saturday and Sunday. At least the Packers have a bye, so I can just nap in front of the games on Sunday :)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Wet Carpet

Well last night we decided that since Burnsville was one of the hardest hit metro cities in the Tuesday night downpour, that we better investigate all the corners of the basement... and yep.. we had water in our downstairs spare bedroom. My guess is the downspout couldn't handle 6" of rain in one evening.

So last night, we pulled back the carpet, cut out the wet pad, and then used the carpet shampooer to suck the water out of the wet carpet. We then laid the carpet back over the top of our croquet sticks and dumbells (to get it off the cement) and put our borrowed fans on high.(Home Depot and Menards sold out yesterday, and borrowing is cheaper)

Good times!

Plus we also bought new LG washer/dryers last night, as we didn't think it's a good idea to run a 35 year old dryer that came with cardboard inside the door as insulation... some might say that's a fire hazard!

MNF

I didn't watch, sounds like it was exciting even though GB lost, but if I had stayed up, it probably would have ended as a blowout.

Monday, October 03, 2005

MNF 2nd Half: To Watch or Not To Watch

If I watch, I'll be mad as the Packers will for sure lose and I then I'll have stayed up to watch a pathetic game. If I don't watch, the odds of them winning is probably better, but I'll miss it...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Freezer Cooking

Today Nicole, Carrie, and Nicki came over and we cooked big batches of several things for the freezer. We each chose a recipe and brought the ingredients. It was great. We also decided to make up a bunch of apple crisps at the last minute and had to run to the farmer's market for apples.

Our recipes today were:
Chicken and Corn Chili
Meatballs (just plain, so they are easy to reheat and throw in a sauce)
Spaghetti Sauce
Black Bean and Ham Soup
Chicken Pot Pies
Apple Crisp

So nice to be able to pull things out of the freezer and dinner is ready like that! :)