Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 In Review

Wow... 2005 has come and almost gone now! Time to think about all that was accomplished in 2005 and what we hope to obtain in 2006...

Last year at the end of the year, I officially resolved to be diligent in trying new recipes. Unofficially (as usual) I resolved to lose weight. I accomplished both this year, which feels great!

I also
  • started this blog :)
  • read 23 books! (plus a lot of reading for school)
  • tried 34 recipes since March!
  • completed my first online course through UW-Platteville and received an 'A'!
  • ran a leg (maybe the shortest leg) of a marathon relay

Plus Chad and I MOVED to a house that we love and Chad got a TV and I got a new car! We took a great vacation to Seattle. We celebrated our 2 year anniversary, plus we have now known each other for over 5 years, which is pretty amazing... part of me feels like it's just always been this way, and another part feels like it's been a whirlwind 5 years!

We had some sad times too. Chad and I both lost our last grandparent, our maternal grandmothers. Chad's grandma passed away in January, and mine in July. Although we both feel blessed that we were able to spend time with both shortly before each passed away.

Looking ahead to 2006... I want to continue to maintain my weight (the last month has been tough), I want to get back into a regular "gym schedule", I want to get some wallpaper off my walls(!), and I have decided to start paying attention to and taking better care of my skin and nails! (The last is my "official" resolution.)

Hope you all have a happy and healthy 2006!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Movie Recommendations

We just got Netflix. Anyone have some good suggestions out there. Chad definitely will enjoy this more than I will, as he is more of a movie buff, but I need help. Let me know if you've seen any good movies on DVD.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tagged

I've been "tagged" while browsing at Karin's sister's blog

4 jobs you've had in your life:

  1. Bible Camp Counselor
  2. UW-Stout Tour Guide
  3. Pampered Chef Consultant
  4. Software Engineer

4 movies you could watch over and over (can you tell I'm nostalgic?):

  1. Dirty Dancing (nobody puts Baby in a corner)
  2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  3. Sixteen Candles
  4. Tommy Boy

4 places you've lived:

  1. Alma, WI
  2. Rochester, MN
  3. Menomonie, WI
  4. Twin Cities -- MN

4 tv shows you love to watch:

  1. The Office
  2. How I Met Your Mother
  3. Will & Grace
  4. What Not To Wear

4 places you've been on vacation:

  1. Seattle
  2. Jamaica
  3. Cleveland
  4. New York City

4 web sites you visit daily:

  1. http://www.startribune.com
  2. http://www.gmail.com (to check my mail)
  3. http://www.uclick.com/client/sto/sudoc/
  4. http://karinanne.blogspot.com

4 of your favorite foods:

  1. French Fries
  2. Chocolate
  3. Pizza
  4. Doritos

4 places you'd rather be:

  1. Jamaica
  2. Disney World
  3. Luther Park (Chetek, WI)
  4. Stout (as a 21 year old)

AND if you're reading this and you blog, consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Inflated Prices

So Chad and I went shopping for a rug for our living room on Monday. We headed back to Marshall Fields Home store where we had found a rug we were considering... Well we decided that the rug wasn't the best, but then found one we liked much better.

So we asked for some help, and got some brief help from a rude salesman, who told us that our rug was on sale for $599... (it was originally $1000, but 2 minutes later he told the lady right next to us that he could give her a rug for $500 even though it was marked $599) So we decided to wait for a better sale or find a coupon or at least a different salesman... But I did note the brand name of the rug, because there were different sales for different brands...

So yesterday I decided to see if I could find other dealers of this rug... From the Nourison website... Dealers came up as Gabberts, and some other upscale places, but I was able to determine the name and style number of the rug... And then by googling, I found the rug at several rug websites for $199 with free shipping... and then I found it at homedepot.com for $179 (regular price!!)... with free shipping (in 5-7 days vs. Fields' 3-4 weeks)! that's a $420 difference and at least 2 weeks faster!

So the moral of the story, use Marshall Field's as your showroom, but comparison shop before you purchase!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Prep

You are getting post overload this morning... I guess a lot happened this last weekend.



In the midst of my busy weekend, I finished a book. Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld (a woman)

Very good. It's about a girl who chooses to leave her life in the midwest and go to a Boarding School on the east coast. Very good. I don't know how to describe it.

I recommend it... and I bought it, so if you want to borrow... let me know.

Christmas Trifle

This isn't a new recipe. I've now made it the last 3 Christmas' (ever since I got a trifle bowl). It is so yummy. I wish I would have taken a picture, because it's pretty too... and we got a new camera for Christmas...

Christmas Trifle

For the custard:
6 egg yolks
3/4 C. granulated sugar
2 T. flour
2 T. cornstarch
2 C. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
6 T. butter, cut into small pieces

For the trifle:
1 C. whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 T. confectioners' sugar
5 ( 1/2-inch) slices poundcake
2 T. sherry
3/4 C. raspberry jam
3/4 C. crumbled almond macaroons or similar flavored cookie
1 (10-oz.) package frozen raspberries, thawed

To make the custard:
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and set aside. In a saucepan, mix the sugar, flour and cornstarch. Over medium heat, whisk in the milk gradually. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir a small amount of the milk mixture into the egg yolks until yolks are warmed. Stir the egg mixture into the pot. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and butter until fully incorporated. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and let stand until cool.

To make the trifle:
Using an electric mixer, whip the cream, vanilla and confectioners' sugar and set aside. In a trifle bowl or glass bowl, arrange the cake slices to cover the bottom. In a small bowl, mix the sherry and raspberry jam and spread over the cake slices. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs over the jam. Top with the raspberries. Spread the cooled custard over the raspberries. Swirl the whipped cream on top of the trifle. Refrigerate until serving.

Makes 10 servings.

Note: You can top with sliced almonds and cherries if desired.

Cranberry Meatballs

I made these meatballs on Sunday night. So good. The sauce is thick and rich. Definitely more of an appetizer type meatball. I made the meatballs the day before and then just added them to the sauce and simmered. This would probably work really well in a crockpot too. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com

Cranberry Meatballs

2 pounds ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup ketchup

1 (16 ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce
1 (18 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C).
2. Mix together the hamburger, bread crumbs, eggs, soy sauce, pepper, garlic powder and ketchup. Form into small balls and bake for 30 minutes.
3. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the cranberry sauce, barbecue sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice. Simmer and stir until smooth. Add meat balls and simmer for I hour. Serve warm.

Christmas

I hope all of you had a very merry Christmas.

We had a very nice weekend. Friday night Chad and I watched Finding Neverland, one of our first NetFlix movies :)

Very good. I really enjoyed it a lot. Johnny Depp is awesome. Have loved him since 21 Jump Street and since I sat a table away from him at the Hard Rock Cafe in 1988! Although he has come a long ways since those days!

Saturday, I was up early and sitting over the stove. I made my Christmas Trifle, which was my best one yet! And then I melted a bunch of chocolate and almond bark and dipped pretzels and graham crackers. Yummm!!! We also got a bunch of cleaning done and finished wrapping a couple presents!

We spent the evening at Chad's parents. Dinner and presents. Our 2 year old niece Jana was very entertaining. She was so full of energy, but so well behaved. She has a huge imagination and was very animated the whole night.

Sunday we headed to Rochester for Christmas with my family. We had a noon dinner and presents again. Drew and Katelyn were much of our entertainment. They love to dig out our old toys and play with them. My mom still has many of my dolls and Katelyn loves those. Drew found train tracks and the Fisher Price Tumble Tower (one of my brother's favorites). They were also fun to watch open presents. Drew has a much bigger attention span, so he was good at waiting and watching everyone open their presents. I got both Drew and Katelyn (and my brother) Packer outfits. Unfortunately it didn't help them win. Katelyn's was pink and white, but she figured it out right away that it was Packers. Only slightly brainwashed!

Sunday evening, Chad's parents came over for a little while to see our decorated house and watch a little football. Yesterday, Chad and I headed out to look for end tables and a rug for the living room. Last night we went to see Fun With Dick and Jane. Cute movie, not much plot, but Jim Carey is always entertaining.

Good times... and now I'm back at work... Chad is home all week.. what a brat! :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Birthday to Mike!

Today is my brother's birthday. Even though he thinks I'm a nerd (pot calling the kettle black) for having a blog, I thought he deserves some birthday wishes!

My brother is my only sibling and the best packer fan I know! He's also the father of two really cute kids!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ready or Not

Christmas is right there... right there around the corner.

I am still laying low. Trying to get healthier... I can hear again, at least out of one ear. My congestion has moved into my chest and I am coughing more... hopefully that means my cold is coming to an end. We'll see how many coughing fits I have tonight.

Today was my first day with no naps since last Thursday, so that in itself means I am feeling better. Even though at work, I was asked repeatedly if I felt alright, because apparently I looked and sounded bad! It's maybe hard to say, because it's all relative. But I definitely feel better than I did the last 3 or 4 days!

I headed to the grocery store tonight to pick up ingredients for the Christmas Trifle. It's a wonderful dessert, which last year didn't turn out so well. I probably need more practice in making the custard layer, but practice is hard when I only make it once a year...

Chad was home when I got home tonight, which is not usual. He just had a slow day as today was his last day for the rest of the year. So realizing that, I decided I did not have to clean, as he will have time on his hands the next couple of days. I sat down and watched a few episodes of Will & Grace from the Season 1 DVD. I watched about 1/2 of the first season on Tuesday, when I took an official sick day (not even working from home, with the exception of one conference call). I didn't start watching Will & Grace until about season 5 or 6, so it's fun to see the older episodes.

Anyway, going without naps has me ready for bed already. Just wanted to catch you all up...

If I don't make it back before the weekend...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Laying Low and Fighting a Cold

I am sick.. Just a really bad cold. I have been miserable since Thursday. And I keep trying to beat it... I stayed home from work on Friday, although I got pulled into about 4 hours of work anyways...

We had tickets to the Christmas Carol at the Gutherie. It's a tradition with Chad's family. We go to the Oceanaire first, and then the Gutherie every year. Very nice, but would have been nicer if I hadn't been feeling so cruddy.

Saturday I woke up feeling better. I got up and finished some Christmas shopping. (all done!) Then I came home and wrapped presents. Took a nap, and then we went to Jane and Carl's Christmas party. Last year it was just Carl's Christmas party, and Chad and I took Jane to meet him.. now it's their party :)

Today I felt worse than yesterday. Probably should have laid low. I slept in late, then watched an hour of tv and then took a nap. Then I heated up some chili for lunch which we ate while watching the Vikings game, and then I fell asleep again. Woke up to the Colts game, because Chad was fed up with the Vikings. Then I went upstairs, crawled in bed and read, and then fell asleep again.

I will probably work from home tomorrow, because it will allow me to sleep a little later. I have to get better by the weekend. And the sooner the better, because I'm sleeping in Chad's old crappy bed, so I don't wake him up with my coughing. It's just not the same, and I'm too tired to put flannel sheets on it :)

Anyways, that's my sad sad story... Nice weekend, just would have been more enjoyable if I felt better...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

O Christmas Tree



It's up and decorated! And it's not real...

This year Chad and I decided to invest in a 7' Alaska Fir from Fleet Farm. Once they got it loaded in the car it was so easy to assemble and set up! No messy needles! Plus with a fake one, you can create your own holes for the really large ornaments.

Kashi

I don't know when I first tried Kashi products (waffles were my first), but I love them... Here are my favorites:



This is one I just tried yesterday. Organic Promise® Autumn Wheat™ cereal. Kind of like mini Shredded wheat, but with a lightly sweecinnamonin taste.




I also love Go Lean! Crunch. Very filling and again a little sweet, but not overbearingly sweet.



The Go Lean! Blueberry Waffles were the first I ever tried. Very good, especially with some turkey sausage links. Easy quick breakfast!



And for a quick snack, the Chewy Granola Bars Peanut Peanut Butter are the best. They are not too sweet, and taste like real (natural) peanut butter.

All come highly recommended. And I just wanted to share since I keep finding Kashi products that I really like!

PS. The oatmeal is good too!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Note To Self

Do not set Tupperware on top of Toaster Oven.

OR

Remove Tupperware from top of Toaster Oven before use.

Oops!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Baked Potstickers with Sweet Asian Dipping Sauce

This is the recipe that the consultant demonstrated at my Pampered Chef party last month. I made them myself for the annual Fluegel Christmas Party on Saturday. Very easy, and easy to make ahead and then bake.

The recipe is from Pampered Chef, so you'll see references to their tools.

Baked Potstickers with Sweet Asian Dipping Sauce
From Pampered Chef's Season Best Fall/Winter 2005

Potstickers

1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions with tops
1/4 cup grated carrot
1 tsp peeled and finely grated fresh gingerroot
1 can (10 oz) chunk white chicken, drained and flaked
1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, pressed
24 square wonton wrappers (found in produce section, by fresh herbs)
Basil Olive Oil (I just used regular olive oil)

Preheat oven to 425. Finely chop water chestnuts using Food Chopper. Thinly slice green onions using Chef's Knife. Grate carrot using Deluxe Cheese Grater. Finely grate gingerroot using Microplane® Adjustable Grater. In Stainless (2 Qt) Mixing Bowl, combine chicken, gingerroot, soy sauce, egg white, mayonnaise and garlic pressed with Garlic Press; mix well using Classic Scraper.

To assemble potsticker, place 12 wonton wrappers onto smooth side of Large Grooved Cutting Board. Lightly brush edges of each wonton with water using Pastry Brush. Using Small Scoop, place a mounded scoop of filling onto center of each wonton. Shape and seal wontons as desired. Place potstickers on Large Round Stone; lightly spray with basil oil using Kitchen Spritzer. Repeat with remaining wontons. Bake 12-15 minutes or until edges of potstickers are golden brown. Remove from oven to Stackable Cooling Rack.


Folding
I folded them as envelopes: Brush all four edges of wonton. Fold one point over filling and overlap with the opposite point. Repeat with remaining two points.

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup red jalapeno jelly
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce


Place jelly in Small Batter Bowl. Microwave on HIGH 30-40 seconds or until warm; add vinegar and soy sauce. Whisk until well blended using Stainless Mini Whisk.

First, Kelly Taylor, then David Silver, now Brandon Walsh.

Slowly but surely, the talented cast of 90210 is slowly re-surfacing to prime time.

First Jennie Garth (Kelly Taylor) showed up on the WB in "What I Like About You". I don't really watch the WB.

This past fall Brian Austin Green (David Silver) showed up in Freddie (Wednesday's on ABC). I think it's number 1 for it's time slot, but it's right before Lost and what else is on on Wednesday's?

And now, I see Jason Priestley (Brandon Walsh) is making his comeback on CBS's Love Monkey which premiere's in January. Love Monkey also stars Tom Cavanagh (Ed)

I've heard Tori Spelling (Donna Martin) recently got divorced, but what about the rest??? Where is Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, or Joe E. Tata???

Ah... but if you really miss the cast, you'd probably enjoy just watching the reruns on Soap Net everyday at 4! :)

Can't Type with Mittens

It's hard enough coming to work on Monday's. Especially when you are somewhat sleep deprived... but it's even worse when the inside temperature of your office barely hovers above 60!

I've got my coat on. And if I could type with mittens, I would have my mittens on too!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Survivor Twist

Heading into the season finale of Survivor, last night was the night they gave away a car. Every season they give away a new car in a reward challenge. And in the previous 9 seasons, the winner of the car has never won the million dollar grand prize too. So last night, the girl that won the car was given an option. Keep the car or give it up, and the other 4 players each get a car. Not being superstitious, Cindy kept the car. She was then later voted out. Ha!

Down to 4 players left and Sunday is the finale... of course the Packers play Sunday night too.. major dilemma!! (YES I still watch the Packers!! It's what fans do, unless you're a Vikings "fan")

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Easy Artichoke Melts

Last night we had some of Chad's friends over to celebrate his birthday. Since the oven was full of Almost Pizza. I used the toaster oven to make these very tasty bites! The recipe is a Pampered Chef recipe, so you'll see references to a lot of their tools.

Easy Artichoke Melts
From Pampered Chef Season's Best Fall/Winter 2001

6 slices firm white bread
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
¾ cup (3 oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, pressed
Pitted ripe olives, sliced (optional)
Fresh parsley, snipped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Using serrated bread knife, cut crusts from bread; cut each slice into 4 squares, for a total of 24 squares. Place squares over bottom of Small Bar Pan.

Chop artichoke heart using food chopped. Grate cheese using Deluxe Cheese Grater. In the Small Batter Bowl, combine artichokes, a ½ cup of the cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic pressed with Garlic Press; mix well using Classic Scraper

Using Small Scoop, place one scoop artichoke mixture onto each bread square; sprinkle with remaining cheese. If desired, top with olives sliced with Egg Slicer Plus, or parsley snipped with Kitchen Shears. Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges of bread are golden brown. Remove to cooling rack. Serve using Mini-Serving Spatula.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hair Guilt

I have been getting my haircut by the same stylist since shortly after my friend Sarah got married. So 4 years now. Chad had been going to her until we moved to. She is great. Rents a chair in a salon in Blaine. She knows us, and I have friends that go to her too.

My dilemma is that she works in Blaine. And she doesn't work on weekends, which means I have to drive to work in the morning (pay to park my car) then to Blaine, and then back to Burnsville. A total trip roughly of 65 miles! At .40/mile, that's $26 + $9 to park. That's an expensive haircut. Plus a LOT of time.

So this week I went to my friend Jill's stylist right here on the south side at the Cole's Salon in Savage. The stylist was awesome. She was so fast, but gave me so much good advice, including on what she thought we should do, and how to actually style my hair. So normally it takes me a few days to feel good about a haircut, once I start to style it on my own, but not with this haircut. Love it! And she charges $1 more than my old stylist, but there's not the investment in time and gasoline... So I will go back, and not make the trip to Blaine. I will have to email my old stylist and let her know that we didn't disappear, we just enjoy the convenience of Savage!