Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Other Side of the Story

I just finished reading The Other Side of the Story, by Marian Keyes. I have enjoyed several of her other books, but it had been a while. This one had just been staring at me from the shelf for a while. It was a bit of a slow start, but by the time I was a quarter way in, I didn't want to get off the bus. I just wanted to keep reading! Definitely Chick Lit, but a long book. Over 600 pages!

A great read, a little fluff, but there is nothing wrong with a little fluff!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Birthday, Chad!!!

Monday, November 28, 2005

TV Trivia

Tonight, I was watching How I Met Your Mother at the gym, and a guest character looked vaguely familiar. It didn't take me long to realize that was Winnie Cooper (real name = Danica McKellar), from The Wonder Years.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bathroom: Before and After


Here are the before and after pictures of our bathroom. It's an amazing difference. I didn't realize how much the wallpaper "overtook" the beautiful tile.


Plus we definitely notice the lack of anything on the walls! (That and the fact I cleaned up the "clutter"!)


The color is "Celery Sprig" by Behr. Great color, I knew it was perfect when I saw the sample at Home Depot.
The wallpaper came off pretty easily, but the walls weren't super smooth underneath, and I am not patient enough to work out every little thing, so I just painted. Another reason why we would like to hire professionals for the kitchen and living room/entryway.
I think all things considered though it is at least a 100% improvement.
You may have seen the pictures posted earlier. I was experimenting with flickr... but couldn't get the pictures posted in order... hmmm.. will have to work that out.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Celery Sprig

The paint is on the bathroom walls. Just some touch ups left. We also finally put our patio furniture away for the winter and hung our bikes up from the rafters.

This weekend has been very productive!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Stuffed ...

Yesterday was a great day. And I am loving this 4 day weekend stuff!

Wednesday evening, my parents arrived around 7:30. We didn't do much. I baked some rolls for dinner the next day. And we sat around and talked. Chad and my dad watched basketball too. Yesterday morning my mom and I got up early and headed to the Mall of America for the Hormel Hunger Walk. Together we raised $200 for Minnesota Food Shelves. We walked for over an hour and a half at a good pace. Good exercise and a good cause!

After the walk, my parents, Chad, and I headed up to Chad's parents for Thanksgiving dinner.
It was excellent of course. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green salad, strawberry jello salad, squash, and fresh bread. Of course we topped it off with pie that my mom had made: Pumpkin, apple, and derby, which is like a pecan pie with chocolate chips... yummm...

It was a very nice day. And we came home stuffed. Chad and I just watched TV after my parents left. He hadn't seen The Office from Tuesday... soo funny! Then we watched Survivor, Joey, and Will and Grace... a lot of non-sports tv!

I headed to bed soon after, because I was exhausted. I got up early this morning to snow! It was just starting, but did snow most of the day. I headed out to TJMaxx/Homegoods to look for something for my mother-in-law... no luck, but I will try again later! :) I stayed in the rest of the day, because the roads were not great.

I also pulled the wallpaper off my bathroom walls today. Tomorrow hopefully the primer will go up well and then I'll get some paint. I'm thinking "celery sprig" by Behr.

Off to start dinner.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Holiday Music

I am sitting here listening to my favorite Christmas CD.

Neil Diamond's "The Christmas Album"

I just found out he also has "The Christmas Album, Vol. 2". I will have to add that to my Christmas list, although then I have to wait 11 months to really get to enjoy it.

A close second favorite is Peter, Paul, & Mary's "A Holiday Celebration"

Handy Woman

Last night I did some handy woman work...

First I finished hanging a closet pole. I had hung the brackets the night before, but even though I measured twice, I cut the pole too short! So I headed to Home Depot to get another pole. This time I used the first shorter pole and measured then added another 1/4 of an inch, and that worked great!

Since I was heading to Home Depot, I decided to do something about the drippy bathroom sink faucet. So I got out my Black and Decker Home Repair book. (Mine is an older version, but great, so I'm sure the newer version is just as good!) I read through how to fix drippy compression faucets and studied the pictures.

So I headed upstairs to the bathroom. Turned off the water under the sink. And started taking the faucet apart. Well it didn't look anything like the pictures in the book! But I was able to figure out which piece was worn and needed to be replaced. And headed off to Home Depot with the pieces in a baggy.

At Home Depot, once I found the faucet repair stuff, I realized I didn't know what brand of faucet I was dealing with, so I ended up, just looking at all the little pieces until I found what I needed. It really wasn't that long.. just maybe would have been easier!

At home, I slipped in the new pieces and re-assembled the sink! And it worked! I was very impressed with myself. I have replaced several faucets (3 in my old house), but never repaired one, I always just had crappy faucets that didn't have standard parts... well and the one faucet had the handle broken off mysteriously the night of our 4th of July party one night...

After this whole episode, I wished I would have taken pictures and documented this or something... makes me think I need to investigate flickr which I've seen used for photos on many blogs...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Peppermint Mocha


MMM... you must try the Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks! It's a Holiday thing, so don't put it off!! It'll be gone before you know it!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Note To Self - Re: Vikings

Remind me NOT to watch the Vikings, because they only manage to play well when I watch them. Grrr.. I believe that is 4 out of 5 wins that they have won in last minute field goals?

Packers are 2-8, but have still outscored their opponents... Poor Brett... They should've just let the Vikings score a touchdown with 42 seconds left instead of tackling them on the 10 yard line... Would have given the Packers a chance to try and get down the field to tie it up.

I'm all for going 2-14 now... let's compete with the Cardinals and Texans for that first round draft pick and a breeze of a schedule next year. The Packers can get healthy in the off-season, and play with a well-rounded experienced team (since all their back-ups are getting experience this year!)

I'm going to be tired tomorrow... Dang It... should have gone to bed.. probably would have woken up with a win!

Ching Ching Chang

This weekend was very nice. Pretty low key, but fun.

Friday night, we had dinner at P.F. Chang's with the Romes and Rengstorfs. Fun time and really good food. I had a great drink. Asian Pear Mojito. YUMMMM... super light and refreshing.

Saturday I got up early and headed to the Y and then the grocery store. Chad went over to his brother's to watch the Gophers. I laid around and did some cleaning and made his favorite Banana Cream Supreme (remind me to post the recipe later when I'm at home). My parents and my brother's family came over that evening for dinner. My mom made her homemade deep dish pizza. It was super good. And we opened birthday presents. Chad and I got a ceiling fan for our bedroom from Mike, Melanie and the kids. The present also included installation, so that will be very nice when that is up!

Yesterday, I went shopping, and then came home and watched some various things on my TiVo. Just a nice relaxing weekend!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Trouble

I went shopping. I think I'm in trouble, because Chad saw me come in with all my bags. It's not my fault all these nice establishments send me coupons for my birthday!

Plus since I was at the MOA, and I was walking by, I went in and checked out the new H&M. It's nice. I actually bought a couple things. I can see why people like it. It's not quality, but it's cute and pretty inexpensive...

That's all for now. I'm sleepy...

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Benefits of Being a Latch-Key Kid


Sarah and Curt came over last night. We ordered pizza, watched Joey, and then played the TV version of Scene It. Chad decided that Curt and I should be on the same team, and then Chad and Sarah lost both times.

I'd like to dedicate last night's wins to my mom, who went back to work when I was 10 and I became a latch-key kid with cable!! :) Nothing could have prepared me better for this game!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hormel Hunger Walk - Team DoubleJ


Because I believe hunger can affect anyone - and anyone can affect hunger - My mom and I will be walking in this year’s Hormel Hunger Walk. We are choosing to spend Thanksgiving morning raising critical dollars to help combat the rising need of food shelf and emergency meal assistance in Minnesota.

This year this walk is especially important. With Hurricane Katrina devastating many families in southern states, Minnesota food shelves pitched in and sent food and supplies to the many who needed it this past fall. This leaves the Minnesota shelves emptier than normal, but with still many hungry people to help!

You can help us reach this goal by making a donation online. Click on the link below and you will be taken to my personal donation page where you can make a secure online credit card donation.

For every one dollar I raise at this event, Minnesota's food banks can provide four meals to hungry Minnesotans. Please help me make a difference in my community. Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help us in our efforts to support Hunger Solutions on behalf of Minnesota's Second Harvest Food Bank. Your donations are tax deductible.

If you'd like to join us in the walk, follow the above link to the team homepage. To learn more about the walk go to www.hormelhungerwalk.org

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

29 Plus or Minus 3

It's not so bad, really, it isn't! Although who ordered snow?!! I don't ever remember it snowing on my birthday... maybe it has, but I don't remember. I do remember lots of good birthdays though!

My early birthday memories at home mainly exist of deer hunting. My dad wasn't a big hunter, but we always had people hunting on our farm, and I remember sitting in the kitchen window with binoculars and trying to find the deer hunters, and then of course there were the gutted deer hanging in the garage. And our poor dog Sniffer... she had to stay tied up during hunting season, so she didn't get shot. She liked to chase deer. My aunt and uncle came one year and my cousin Melissa and I shared a cake...

I do remember that we had family parties where we had China and the green glasses. And Grandpa Accola always gave me change that he'd been saving all year. Often it came in an old BenGay canister and all the money smelled of Bengay! but it was money, I wasn't complaining!

Once we moved to Rochester, I don't remember a lot of specific birthdays. I know that I always woke up really early. I was much to excited.

My junior year of high school, my friends "kidnapped" me. Luckily I had woken up early and was in the shower (singing loudly) when they arrived, so I didn't get dragged straight out of bed, but I did get teased about my singing. They then dragged me to the house of the cute boy I had a crush on (Dennis F.) for pictures at 7 am. Then to Denny's (the restaurant, not the cute boy) for breakfast. Cute boy had a meeting before school (somewhat of an academic type) so he couldn't make it. Fun birthday.

My senior year of high school, I took the SAT on the 16th, so I didn't get to celebrate late, so I planned my own party for the next night. No one showed up on time, Brenda tricked me into coming to pick her up (her car didn't start) and my friends were all at her house! It was Jae Jae's birthday too, and we stayed up most of the night. I wonder if Brenda still has the video footage... I hope not. We were just silly and immature. That was the year, a couple of our guy friends got sent to EconoFoods to pick up something and came back with a miniature shopping cart... and a little while later, someone's parents called and the police showed up, because EconoFoods wanted their shopping cart back... No one got in trouble, they just didn't get to keep the shopping cart.

College... hmmm... Sloppy Joes, Applesauce Jello, and Jello shots! yummm.. good times. Nicki, Beth, Angie, Alison, and Jill usually came to celebrate after they graduated. I'd make a mix tape for the weekend! Lots of 80s songs, and Shania Twain for Smutny! Nicki smeared blue frosting on her face like Mimi from Drew Carey.. a memory she just reminded me of this past weekend. Karin ate cheesy potatos. :)

Post college... more sloppy joes and jello shots... oh and potato chips from a box! My first year working at Retek, the guys thought I was 22 or 23... that was nice, because I was 26! Super old compared to everyone else! :) Then I came down with the flu and didn't work or celebrate the rest of the week. Retek IPOed that week... I missed the celebrations at work too. Sarah took care of me though... that was the year we were roommates.

5 years ago, I threw my own party. The first in my new house. I invited this boy I had met at the bars the week earlier. He didn't come, but I married him 3 years later anyway!

This year.... having a good day... started with a Peppermint Mocha (yummmmm... a Starbucks holiday drink), had lunch at Baja Sol Tortilla Grill... Dinner will be at Maggiano's tonight!! My 33rd year is starting off well!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Weekend Notes

Friday night - I hosted a Pampered Chef party. The demonstration was baked chicken wontons. YUMMMM! I love wontons. It was a good time. A great mix of friends!

Saturday - Chad and I met with a financial advisor... We really need to start preparing for retirement in 2028. Which makes me really think that I need a career change, because that is a long way away!! Saturday night, we decided to go see the movie Two for the Money, however it was only playing in Hopkins and Maple Grove. We decided on Hopkins. We didn't allow for busy hustle and bustle of downtown Hopkins. By the time we found parking, we were late and there was a long line for tickets and popcorn, and we hadn't eaten. So we left and headed to Jake's for dinner and then over to the Rengstorf's to see their new place and hang out with Chad's friends. Nice relaxing evening and fun to see the guys and Joana.

Sunday - Hit the gym, and then watched some of the Vikings game. It's tough in MN to root against the Vikings when there is a chance of overtime, because overtime usually delays the Packers game being shown, even with the Sunday Ticket. but the vikings pulled it out along with every team in the NFC North. oh well. At least the Packers looked good for a 1-7 team with about 15 injuries... gotta love those upsets! And Chad learned he was a genius, because the Fox announcers said anyone with 5th string runningback Samkon Gado on their Fantasy team was a genius... Now I just hope they can keep winning consistently, to give them a chance to get back into this... because I was starting to treasure the thought of a #1 draft pick and an easy schedule next year, but winning is much more fun!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Cleaning Lady

Last night I cleaned the house. The WHOLE house. It's a decent sized house!!

I de-cluttered, dusted, vacuumed, swept, mopped, scrubbed, wiped, brushed... Must say I wish Chad would have been home. I must admit, he's handy to have around when it's time to clean the house! I know sometimes I complain that he doesn't do enough, but he does help most of the time!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mental Health

Today I took a mental health day... and I really needed it.

It was a very productive day. I did not watch any tv with the exception of turning on Days of Our Lives for 15 minutes while I ate lunch and I had Freddie on while I cleaned up the kitchen tonight. So I did watch some tv, but it was on the 13" tv, so that shouldn't count.

I also got some homework done and some emails written. Finished reading my book, talked to my mom, Steph, and Sarah on the phone.

So maybe it doesn't seem that productive, but it felt productive. I didn't nap or veg in front of the tv ALL day!

Must Love Dogs

I just finished reading Must Love Dogs, by Claire Cook. It was a nice light quick read. Which is exactly what I needed and I enjoyed it very much. I wanted to read it before seeing the movie which stars John Cusack, who I adore! Now I need to find out when it comes out on DVD.

It was a feel good story. Starts with someone feeling down who realizes her potential and desires... kind of like a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Shoe Shopping

I highly recommend zappos.com for shoes. I have browsed there many times, but I finally bought a pair of shoes. They are Clarks so I knew they would fit. But it's a great website. They have free shipping, plus free return shipping if your purchase doesn't work out. PLUS they have a 110% price guarantee. So I found the shoes cheaper at amazon.com, so they gave me 110% of the difference! Pretty cool!

Check out my new cute shoes! I know pretty typical shoes for me... I love Mary Janes... they just seem to fit my wide feet!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Slacking

Tonight I just wanted to veg... I got home from work around 5 and since I had the house to myself all evening, I decided I better go to the gym, else I would just sit around all night. Granted, once I got home from the gym, I didn't do anything, BUT at least I made it to the gym for a little while anyways!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Nestlé Toll House Swirled Milk Chocolate & Caramel Morsel Cookies

Yum... Yum... Yum...

Love the neighbors who mow our lawn. Today I made them cookies. The recipe came right off the back of the bag of Nestlé's new Toll House Swirled Milk Chocolate & Caramel Morsels. Can't wait to try the other flavor. The recipe was pretty much identical to their Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe... And when I made them, I just mixed all the morsels in right away... Too lazy for the extra step...

Nestlé Toll House Swirled Milk Chocolate & Caramel Morsel Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.)
NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE SWIRLED Milk Chocolate & Caramel Morsels, divided
1 cup chopped pecans *

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in 1 cup morsels (set aside remaining morsels) and nuts. Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Top dollops with remaining morsels.
BAKE for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

BODYFLOW

I just got back from the Y. I took a BODYFLOW class. It was great. Can not wait to figure out when I can take it again!

The "developers" of the class also have other classes. BODYPUMP is also another one offered at the Y, so I will have to check that out too...

Low Key Days

Chad got his wisdom teeth out on Friday, so he's keeping low this weekend. We pulled out the hideabed and he is enjoying life in front of the tv. I know he is enjoying pudding, but I think he would like to be able to eat something besides pudding and soup. Maybe tonight we'll have scrambled eggs or something...

Yesterday, I got up early and went to Kohl's for a sale. I realized at Kohl's that people are already doing Christmas shopping. I bought some wrapping paper, but everything else was for me! After Kohl's, I went to the Y and then I came home and got ready and ran errands... Only a few, but they were long, because I had to drive to Arden Hills, to Oakdale, and to Woodbury. I did get to see Chad's parents and Melanie and Drew and Katelyn. It's funny how the kids are excited to see me, but when I'm right there, they are a little shy. I thought Katelyn might want to come home with me when I told her all Chad was eating was banana cream pudding (like "banana pie") and ice cream, but even that wasn't enough :) Last night I watched a lot of TiVo and dozed... before going to bed early.

Today, I will make cookies for the nice neighbors who keep mowing our lawn! Go to the Y. Catch up on some homework, and laundry... oh and watch the Packers play the Steelers...

That's all... a nice low key weekend.

Instant Banana Pudding

Chad's favorite is Banana Cream Pie, which I make with a graham cracker crust, but since he's gumming his foods this weekend, I thought I'd try this. And when I asked how it was, he said "It was Awesome!".

Instant Banana Pudding

2 or 3 bananas
1 box banana cream sugar-free pudding
2 1/2 cups milk
1 container coolwhip
1 box vanilla wafers

Mix pudding with milk as directed on box. (Mix calls for 2 cups, but use all 2 1/2 cups). Mix in half the Cool Whip. Place a layer of wafers in bottom of dish. Slice bananas and place on top. Add 1/2 the pudding mixture. Repeat all layers. Spread the remaining Cool Whip on top.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mum's the Word

All bloggers can learn from Dilbert.

My week has been filled with frustrations, and following proper blog etiquette, that is all I will say. Mum's the word.

I did do a little retail therapy at lunch today. The Gap usually makes me feel better.

A Million Little Pieces


I just finished A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey. It is a biography and the story of a man who ends up at 23 and his recovery of drug and alcohol addiction. The first few chapters drew me in. It is a very good story. Parts were graphic, not explicit, but graphic. For example, in one chapter he has a root canal, but as a recovering drug addict, he goes through this without any drugs... pretty crazy.

He chooses to defy the whole process of the 12 steps that his counselors recommend. He claims to have just chosen to not drink again or to do drugs again. Against all odds he so far has done it. He was on Oprah last week. I have yet to watch the show, but the book was very good. Interesting too, because it takes place in Minnesota at Hazelden, although he never calls it by name, he does say he is in Minnesota and it is the best facility in the US. Also there is a part near the bus station and a large sports facility (Target Center).

Anyway, I highly recommend it. You can borrow it, as I bought it, but I do have 3 people on my waiting list already and the Hudson Library has 320! Overstock.com has a good price on it...

Basic Not-So-Sweet Dough

I made buns last weekend from a recipe my mom gave me. Making bread is so easy with a bread machine. And I like it a whole lot more if I just use the machine to make the dough and then bake it in the oven, as the crust doesn't get too crusty.

I shaped these into buns for sandwiches. Very good.


Basic Not-So-Sweet Dough (1-1/2 pound recipe)

3/4 cup water
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in bread pan, select Dough setting, and press Start.
When dough has risen long enough, the machine will beep. Turn off bread machine, remove bread pan, and turn out dough onto a floured countertop or cutting board.

To make into buns:
Grease a baking sheet. Roll pieces of dough into balls and flatten for hamburger buns or shape into 6-inch rolls for hot dog buns. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm oven 10 to 15 minutes until almost doubled. (Hint: To warm oven slightly, turn oven on Warm setting for 2 minutes, then turn it off, and place covered dough in oven to rise. Remove sheet from oven to preheat.)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on racks. When ready to use, split buns in half horizontally.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Anniversary

Chad andI have been married 2 years, can you believe that??

And it's been a good two years. I can definitely say that!

In a couple of days I'll be fondly remembering the warm beaches of Jamaica.... Actually I already am!