Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: January 30, 2012


Monday: We need a quick and easy dinner, because we have an appointment with an open-ended finish time. Subs from the deli at Publix it is!
Tuesday: Mini Crab Cakes, some breaded bay scallops (need to clean out the freezer) and some steamed broccoli.
Wednesday: Brown Sugar Glazed Pork, wild rice and some zucchini squash. The sauce for this pork is so yummy! I can't wait!
Thursday: We have some chicken tenders in the freezer, which we'll bread and bake, and serve some corn and some type of quick noodle dish on the side.
Friday: I have SO MANY BAGS of ravioli in the freezer (I got sucked in by good sales more than once. What can I say? It's difficult to pass up a good deal!) We'll cook them up, brown some ground sausage and mix in a little tomato sauce. A salad and some garlic bread, warm from the oven, and I think we have ourselves a meal!
Saturday and Sunday: And here's where we will get creative. Our weekend looks to be busy. We may or may not feel like cooking much. So we are going to wing this one and see what the weekend brings. We live on the edge, I tell you.

Notes from last week's menu: Tuesday's veggie ended up being creamed spinach. We shifted the cheeseburgers up to Saturday and Sunday we did a quick and easy "just heat it up" dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans.

The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Review: 2011

Oh, what the heck. I was going to wait til next year to start doing these, but it's still January and there's no time like the present, right?

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
I had surgery and saw sequoia trees. Both were pretty humbling, though in very different ways.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I had some goals, which I completed in part. I have loftier goals for 2012.
    3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
    I had a couple of friends give birth. It was the year of the boy.
    4. Did anyone close to you die?
    Two of my dad's cousins died in 2011. I hadn't seen them in years, but we saw them fairly often when I was growing up. T's mother also died, and while I cannot say I was close to her, I am obviously close to him, and I wish I had been able to meet her.
    5. Which countries states did you visit?
    Let's be serious here. I have a more likely chance of visiting other states than other countries. This year, I only visited California. I did go three times though (twice related to my surgery).
    6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
    A. HOUSE. Seriously. After a year and a half of searching, it's time to be done with this nonsense.
    7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
    March 23: The day I had surgery.

    July 4: The day I got engaged. 
    8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    It was more "ours" than "mine," but building up the savings account. It has a way to go, but it's off to a good start.
    9. What was your biggest failure?
    There was a time or two that I could have been a better friend and fiancee.
    10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
    I don't know that it qualifies as either an illness or injury, per se, but I had surgery to remove some fibroids. Other than that, a couple of mild colds was it.
    11. What was the best thing you bought?
    My wedding dress! It is beautiful and I love it, *and* I got it at 45% off! 
    12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
    Dr Parker! My surgery could not have gone better, thanks to him.
    13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
    My regular GYN. Grrr!
    14. Where did most of your money go?
    Paying down debt. Medical bills. Rent.
    15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    Successful surgery. And, hello! Diamond!
    16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
    Lady Antebellum's "Hello World." It really stirred up a lot of reminders to be mindful of what is important.
    17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    a) Happier or sadder? Happier. More every day.
    b) Thinner or fatter? I weigh the same, but I am five fibroids lighter.
    c) Richer or poorer? Richer, in every way.
    18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
    Getting to spend time with the people I care about most. 
    19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
    20. How did you spend Christmas?
    T and I celebrated at home, with our regular traditions. And then I flew to California between Christmas and New Year to celebrate Christmas with Nichole and Daniel.
    21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
    More and more.
    22. What was your favorite TV program?
    No one who knows me expects that I will pick just one. The ones I've enjoyed the most are: Parenthood. Grey's Anatomy. The Good Wife. Modern Family. Mad Men. The Big Bang Theory. Dexter. Fringe. Blue Bloods. Once Upon a Time. Pan Am.
    23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
    I don't hate. It's toxic and eats you up until you become a warped and bitter version of your former self.
    24. What was the best book you read?
    Hands down, "Atlas Shrugged." It gave me a *lot* to chew on.
    25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
    I am not one of those people who ever discovers music. 
    26. What did you want and get?
    A successful surgery.
    27. What did you want and not get?
    A house. OMG, a house.
    28. What was your favorite film of this year?
    Atlas Shrugged: Part One.
    29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 35. I am not much into big celebrations. We went out for a quiet dinner.
    30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
    I feel like a broken record, but a house, a house, a house. But to be honest, I find it difficult to not just be grateful for my surgery going better than I ever could have hoped.
    31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
    Typical Dawn style: comfortable and simple. Though I did get some new tops that were slightly more feminine and soft and "less simple."
    32. What kept you sane?
    T. My closest friends. A surgeon who was confident without being arrogant. 
    33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    I just haven't found anyone to replace Mike Lowell.
    34. What political issue stirred you the most?
    I firmly believe in The Linus Philosophy (There are three things I've learned to never discuss with people: politics, religion and the Great Pumpkin) but I will leave it as: the economy.
    35. Who did you miss?
    Seems like I miss everyone (well, not T, of course, since he's here). When will I convince my loved ones how awesome Florida is and that they should move here? Heh.
    36. Who was the best new person you met?
    Ingrid. Which probably means she will move out of the state some time in 2012.
    37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
    I am always stronger than I think I am. And good things really do come to those who wait.
    38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
    Well, hello world, how you been?
    Good to see you my old friend.
    Sometimes I feel cold as steel,
    Broken like I'm never gonna heal.
    I see a light, a little grace, a little faith unfurl.
    Hello world.


    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    I Want Wednesday: March 25, 2012

    **I am sort of obsessed with little individual sized baking dishes. I mean, what's not to love about little casseroles or pot pies for each person at the table? They are so *cute*. Now that I've seen them, I Want a set of Rachael Ray's Bubble and Brown Singles. In chocolate, please!

    **I Want to test drive some new flatware. We have two (possibly three, maybe even four?) assorted sets, between the two of us, and none of them feel quite...right. It needs to be sturdy without being ugly. It needs to feel right in my hand (and T's). It needs to not cost a fortune (though I am willing to spend a little more on something that will last) and it needs to not be high maintenance (read: dishwasher safe is a must). And there need to be enough pieces to it--in other words, not just the place settings, but serving utensils as well, would be a nice plus.

    **I have a thing for seasonally appropriate dishes. It's kind of impractical, really. Who needs that many dishes that should only be used for a few weeks each year? Although I have to admit that I have a stack of dishes in my cabinet right now, some with an autumn leaf impression, others with snowflakes, and we use them all year. And I am short one now, thanks to an oops by T about which I still tease him from time to time. So maybe it isn't *that* frivolous that I Want a couple of these Sweet Heart Plates from Crate & Barrel?

    **For a while now, I have been trying to find dryer balls without much success. I Want to order a pair of these. Soon...

    **I Want to know how it is possible that I missed that Method had Candy Cane scented dish soap! T prefers Dawn (awww! heh,), and even though I like Method, I am willing to compromise. So maybe he would have made a Christmas time exception for me? I suppose it doesn't matter now though.


    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Ten on Tuesday: January 24, 2012

    Subjects of the Last Ten Emails I Received

    1. "Home-baked Snacks" (All Recipes Baking)
    2. "Get Today's Recipe: Mexican Meatball Soup" (
    3. "Re: [Fond of Snape] Comment: 'Picnik...also bananas'
    4. "The Disney Fantasy Becomes a Reality" (Disney Insider)
    5. "MegaVote: Florida 12th 1/23/12"
    6. "Grab Your 365+1 Prompt"
    7. URGENT
    8. Important Tax Return Document Available
    9. Random Daily Tidbit
    10. LOOK!!

    That is some riveting content, right there, huh? Pretty indicative of my inbox at any given time though. Cooking emails. Disney Passholder newsletters. My daily photo prompt. And some super creative subject lines in emails between friends--I guess we've moved past impressing one another with our cleverness? Ha!


    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Menu Plan Monday: January 23, 2012


    Monday: Quick and easy dinner of sausage burgers and fries.
    Tuesday: Ah yes. The pork steaks from last week. Wild rice and a veggie.
    Wednesday: We have a gift card from Christmas for Bonefish Grill that we plan to use.
    Thursday: Spaghetti and meatballs. Salad and garlic bread. Great comfort food. And pretty brainless to cook.
    Friday: Stuffed chicken breasts from the freezer. Rice from the pantry. Leftover salad from the fridge. Done and done.
    Saturday: We're going to fly by the seat of our pants. We live on the edge, people!
    Sunday: Cheeseburgers? We'll see.

    Notes from last week's menu: I needed to make a last minute switch in my dinner plans, so we swapped Tuesday and Wednesday. On Saturday, I ventured to Disney and ate at such odd times that I wasn't hungry for dinner, so we had the wraps on Sunday instead and pushed Sunday to this week.

    The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    Stream of Consciousness: January 22, 2012

    I love that on the weekends, T makes the bed. Without ever being asked. And he does it just the way I like it. (Even though I suspect he thinks I am a little ridiculous for caring so much.)

    I really like the Aveeno shave gel I switched to recently. But it smells *exactly* like these date-filled cookies with a cherry on top that my Gram used to make. I will never not find that weird.

    The Patriots played for the AFC Championship today. The game was a classic nail-biter, one they probably won thanks to a bit of bad luck for the Ravens kicker missing a field goal that would have tied it and sent the game to overtime. After that kind of intensity, the last thing I wanted--even less than I wanted it before--was to have a replay of the Super Bowl from the 2007-2008 season. But the Giants and 49ers went to overtime in their game, and the Giants kicker did not pull the ball wide, setting up a Super Bowl rematch I could have lived without. I'll probably need to self-medicate to get through the Super Bowl in two weeks.

    On a happier note, pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Fort Myers in 28 days. I can almost smell the hot dogs and Cracker Jack now!

    It's going to be in the 80s all week. I know I live in Florida, but for Pete's sake. Could I at least have the pleasure of some low 70s and call it Winter? Because 80? Is *not* Winter.


    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    One Little Word: Commit

    There has been this online "project" put together for several years now by a blogger and scrapbooker named Ali Edwards. It's called "One Little Word" and the basic idea is that you choose a word to be the theme of your entire year, a springboard, a catalyst, for living the kind of life you want for yourself. I never intended to participate in it, not because I have any particular problem with it--I actually think it's a great idea--but more because I don't scrapbook anymore and I am a "play by the rules" sort of girl. However, I did elect to do another "online challenge," for a photo-a-day project, and one of the prompts centered on photographing your one little word. I played along, chose a word, photographed it, and that was that. And now...I find it creeping into my every day life. Funny how that works...

    My word is "commit."

    For obvious reasons, that is a big word for me in 2012. I am going to legally and officially commit to a man. Not that I haven't already, but...there's a difference. That's *why* people take marriage seriously: because they feel it's a deeper commitment than just "being committed." (And yes, I know, maybe you don't need it to "define" *your* commitment to another person, and that's ok, but for *me*, it is a big deal. The commitment of marriage means something to me. It is a declaration I wish to make.)

    With any luck, I will be committing to a house in 2012. We'll see.

    And now I see this word--commit--sneaking into more than just these Big Things.

    I am committed to growing out my hair. Even on the days it makes me loony.

    I am committed to this photo project.

    I am committed to some personal goals and wishes.

    And just this morning, my photo prompt arrived in my inbox: "living your word." And I looked at my plan for today: a trip to my happy place, to Disney World. And I realized that, while I am always up for a day in the world of magic and sparkle, I am especially drawn there when I have been exposed to too much crabbiness.  I have made the decision, the commitment, if you will, to take the flood of negativity that rises up around me and push it aside, replace it with things that fill me with joy. I am committed, to myself and my mental well-being, to not be weighed down by the world around me.

    I don't know if I am "doing this right." Maybe this is one of those things that cannot be done wrong. What I know is that "commit" is finding a way into my 2012 in ways I had not anticipated. And that's pretty cool.


    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    I Want Wednesday: January 18, 2012

    **After seeing bits and pieces of it in the past, and reading on more than one occasion, glowing recommendations, (not to mention that it is one I know T enjoys), I Want to actually see Band of Brothers in its entirety.

    **I Want to see John Adams too, after hearing more than one person say it was wonderful.

    **I Want Rachael Ray to sell her Little Hoot Dinnerware Set as separates. I just don't need the mugs, but I love the bowl and dishes!

    **I Want to try Essie LuxeEffects Topcoat in Pure Pearlification! It looks so pretty!

    **I am not sure which I Want (I need to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of both), but I'd like to try either The Grow Box or The Earthbox, once we have a house.

    **I Want some See's truffles! Limited edition Black Forest and Strawberry, to be specific.


    Monday, January 16, 2012

    What the WHO?

    I am all for stopping to appreciate the small things. I believe I make that abundantly clear. One of my favorite things about the apartments where I live is the wide variety of wildlife I encounter. Just the other day, as we were doing our daily post-work walk, we saw an owl swoop from one set of trees and perch in another. (We presume, to scope out the squirrels that we fatten up with the nuts we toss to them as we do our laps.) Each time we passed the tree where he was sitting, I had to stop and peer up into the branches at him. He was majestic and amazing.

    Until last night.

    I was awakened in the wee hours by a very chatty Mr Owl. Sitting in the tree directly outside the bedroom window. And very much NOT using his nighttime voice. For a good half hour, I lay there, wide awake, listening to "Who-who-who-WHOOOO! Who-who-who-WHOOOO!"

    I don't know if he finally gave up or if sleep finally overtook me, despite his chattering, but I can tell you this: At random intervals today, I have caught myself thinking "Who-who-who-WHOOOO!" much like one would be plagued by an earworm. He obviously planted that seed in my brain while I was slumbering.

    I will also bet on this: No way did he catch his dinner with all that hooting and hollering. Every tasty morsel was getting plenty of warning to stay safely hidden from sight.


    Menu Plan Monday: January 16, 2012


    Monday: We must be on some kind of "long narrow pasta" kick, because we had a spaghetti dish late last week (with leftovers lingering into Monday's lunch) and we have Linguine with Clam Sauce up first thing this week. Some warm garlic bread and a salad will round things out.
    Tuesday: I am having dinner with a friend. T is going to fend for himself.
    Wednesday: A friends of T's handed off a bunch of hot dog buns they didn't need from some sort of event, so before they get stale, we'll make an easy dinner of hot dogs, chips and a pickle.
    Thursday: T is going to make some barbecue chicken (on the grill, I think?). We'll do up a quick noodle side dish and maybe some corn. Or maybe a salad. I don't know.
    Friday: We haven't had fish sandwiches in a long while. They sounded good to me. We'll have them with some mac & cheese.
    Saturday: We'll do up some honey mustard chicken wraps. Nothing fancy.
    Sunday: T decided that he was in the mood for some pork (probably my least favorite of the "common meats" but I will still eat it). I left it up to him and he found some pork steaks. I'll do up some wild rice and a veggie that sounds tasty to me at the time.

    Notes from last week's menu: I really have nothing to add. We followed the menu to the letter. I guess we either planned well or didn't feeling like thinking about it anymore!

    The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


    Thursday, January 12, 2012


    We spend a lot of time talking about how "it's the little things that matter," but I've noticed we spend a lot less time actually living that out. I watch the status messages on Facebook and the steady stream of Tweets bemoaning the lack of this and lamenting the absence of that. I very rarely pat myself on the back, but I do feel that I do a fairly decent job of being more grateful for the blessings I have than focusing on what I don't. Even my "I Want Wednesday" posts are meant to be more about tongue-in-cheek daydreaming than in actively wanting or expecting (though there are some cases in which I do actually plan to save up my "fun money" for a special splurge). But I won't say I that I get it right one hundred percent of the time either. I have my moments...and I feel kind of ugly when I see them in retrospect. It's a constant work-in-progress.

    Which is why one of my very favorite things is when I catch myself so immersed in a "little things" moment that I lose track of the rest.

    For weeks, now, I have been musing on a particular blog post. (For real. It's been a side note on my Daily To Do List, probably since mid-November, tacked next to "Blog" -- in parentheses, of course, because I fully embrace any possible opportunity to use parentheses. And ellipses. Ahem.) I was waiting for the right time. Which was tricky, because it's the dry season, here in Florida, and I needed it to have rained. And not only to have rained, but to have rained overnight, and to not have dried before my commute. (I don't know why this mattered so much, but...there you have it.)

    Last night, it rained. And this morning, as I turned onto the highway on-ramp, I caught sight of the inspiration for this seed of a blog post. It's not something I've ever been able to photograph, mostly because I am driving, and if it isn't safe to text while driving, it's probably even less safe to be operating a camera while behind the wheel. But also, I am not sure I can translate that image accurately with my camera. (Perhaps someone with more skill might be able to, in fact, I am reasonably certain they could. But I don't think I can, and while this might be a red flag for not selling myself short and letting my fears prevent me from accomplishment and all that, let me also say that I'm not sure I would want to anyway. Sometimes an image and the feeling need to simply live in your mind, waiting to be enjoyed "in the moment" when that moment happens again.) I wanted to share it on a morning when it was "true."

    Whoa. Tangent.

    Back to this morning. I turned the corner onto the ramp, and I saw the sun cresting the horizon. The sky is that perfect blend of pastel Easter hues: soft gold around the sun, followed by layers of peach and rose, fading into pale blue, with just the faintest hint of lavender at the far edge where the sun's rays haven't warmed it yet. There are a few wispy clouds, the final reminder of the rain that has passed through. There is the muted haze of fog, gauzy and light, rising from the damp earth in the distance. And then there is the road. That ugly pavement transforms under the morning light, shimmering fresh with the last of the standing rainfall. There is just *something* about it. The way this glistening rain-washed world looks. The ordinary that I don't see, not to appreciate, most of the time, but that reels me in on a morning like this. My eyes sweep the view my whole trip up the ramp and along the highway until I reach my exit. And then the spell is broken with the change of the angle of the sun, now throwing shadows instead of light.

    But it stays with me, brightens me, that image. Something so simple. Something that cannot be purchased or forced into being. Something that I have to wait for, patiently, and that I must be observant in order to receive it.

    I love the "little things." Rain-washed mornings. The particular sound of a squirrel crunching through a nutshell. Scrolling through my Google Reader and catching sight of a photo on a blog that causes me to actually catch my breath. Watching the flight of a owl as he moves to a new perch.  Life teaches some harsh lessons at times, but this one has always been my favorite: Open your eyes and take the time to find joy all around you.

    When people wonder why I so often appear content, this is the reason. Cross my heart. I am surrounded by wonder and the only cost is the effort I make to really see it and to be grateful.


    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    I Want Wednesday: January 11, 2012

    **I Want more fun jewelry to wear. Like this Triple-Strand Beaded Bracelet. I love the colors.

    **I Want a better way to store spices in my cabinets. This is a common gripe heard around our home. While lack of kitchen real estate is part of the issue, a whole mess of tiny little bottles not designed to work together (even if you purchase only one brand) (which I don't) just isn't conducive to even organized chaos on that shelf, no matter how much space you have for storage. You have to pull a minimum of two-thirds the contents out to find anything and inevitably half a dozen fall over. I have been stockpiling possible spice storage ideas over on Pinterest, but I can't help but feel no matter what system we end up implementing in our eventual house, the Interlocking SpiceCare System would make it even better!

    **When I was catching up on some of Rachael Ray's shows that the DVR caught while I was on vacation, I decided I Want to try a Brachetto d"Acqui Rosa Regale. I am so intrigued by a sparkling *red* wine...especially if it tastes like berries!

    **I Want to create some kind of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day traditions for us. We don't go out for New Year, so our "celebrations" are pretty, well, non-existent. I don't know if it will be a special meal or some kind of "thing" we do or what, but I feel like they need *something*...

    **While I am not afraid to wear a little color on my eyes (I have a silvery-blue and a navy that I love to pair together!), I am a big fan of shades of grey-silver, bronze or brown most days. (I like the way those colors work with my blue eyes. What can I say?) I have been very good about using what I've collected (some of it was unopened for quite a while even, I had such a stash of eye shadow), my selections of these colors are starting to run dangerously low. As soon as I saw the Urban Decay Naked2 palette, I Wanted it. Badly.

    **I've had my lunch bag for about three or four years now. It's still serviceable but the day is coming that it will need to be retired. I've been trying to consider what I Want for its replacement, when the time comes, and I am thinking that the Rachael Ray 2-in-1 Hobo Tote might just be it.


    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Menu Plan Monday: January 9, 2012


    Monday: T had a taste for some scallops, so he stopped at the fish market on his way home from work to pick some up. We will be having Scallops with Mushrooms and Spinach.
    Tuesday: We have some buns leftover from last week's burgers, so T will grill up some chicken breasts for sandwiches and we'll have some creamy garlic shells on the side.
    Wednesday: There is some sour cream in the refrigerator that I don't want to go to waste. I made a couple of suggestions on using it up and T decided that we would have kielbasa, pierogies (which will use up the sour cream) and sauerkraut.
    Thursday: The weather is supposed to get chilly again this weekend and I've been thinking about Chicken & Dumplings lately. Seems like the right time!
    Friday: Time for a meal we haven't had in quite a while -- Spaghetti with Sausage and Goat Cheese! Great way to use up the baby spinach that wasn't needed for Monday's dinner.
    Saturday: At this point in the menu planning on Saturday, I had a mini meltdown because it was lunchtime and I was hungry (and I am not nice when I get too hungry), so we stopped discussing the menu. Later, we decided that we'd make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, since we have half a load of bread and an open package of ham.
    Sunday: High on a shelf where I constantly forget about it, we have some boxes of Hamburger Helper, for those times when you just want to slap an easy meal on the table and call it a day. We'll keep it simple and get some of that used up!

    Notes from last week's menu: The only adjustment we made was to move Saturday's meal to Sunday, so we could go out to dinner on Saturday instead.

    The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


    Thursday, January 5, 2012


    Anyone who has ever grown out their hair understands the frustration. Especially if your hair has been pixie short for the better part of a decade, and up off your shoulders nearly two. The up-side is that my hair grows quickly, so the growing out process won't take a painful amount of time. The down-side is that my hair grows quickly, so it gets ridiculously shaggy between trim-and-reshape appointments.

    I've noticed that my feelings on my hair during this process are cyclical. I have several tolerable days in a row, followed by a day or two of awful, and just when I have a good mind to call my stylist and scrap the whole plan, I have a great hair day. Lather, rise, repeat. (Ha. A hair-related joke. I am so clever.)

    And so, every morning, when I break out my blow dryer and my hair wax and my hair spray and my brushes (I have had no use for a hairbrush in at least a dozen years and now I need two OMG), I also pull out the page I printed out. I lay it on the bathroom counter as I dry and finger style and fuss with my locks. Partially because this style is new, so I need the visual assistance in conquering this new style (or a modification of it, at this point, anyway)...and partially because I need the motivation of seeing "the prize," so I don't take a pair of scissors to my head in a fit of madness.

    It better be worth this.

    P.S. The upper right is the plan for the wedding. That's my other motivation.


    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    I Want Wednesday: January 4, 2012

    Gosh, it feels wrong to "want" right after such a bountiful Christmas! And yet...

    **I Want some cookware that can go from stove top to oven. There are some recipes in my "draft file" that call for this step and I would be forced to transfer from a pan to an oven-safe baking dish. The Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Deep Saute Pan with Lid, 13" is big enough and deep enough, and even the lid can be in an oven up to 450 degrees!

    **And then there is this Emile Henry Flame Top 7-Quart Round Oven. I love that color of blue and the fact that it is not only safe to use on the stove and in the oven, but will also withstand the broiler! (For that price, though, I suspect this will be something I Want for a good long while.)

    **For a while now, I have thought that an immersion blender would be a good tool to add to my kitchen. I've scoped out several different brands and models, but at the moment the Calphalon Electrics 3 in 1 Immersion Hand Blender, with its various tools is the one I Want.

    **I Want to own this Rachael Ray Serving Platter. Sure, it could be used for its intended purpose of serving food, but it could also work as a tray for the coffee table, as the base for a centerpiece on the dining room table and who knows what else! Plus, that color red...

    **I've been using the same flimsy pink plastic bowl for salads for probably the last seven years. I Want a "big girl" salad bowl. I like that this one is big and deep (and of course, red), as well as creating some visual interest, but I am torn, because the Rachael Ray Salad Bowl does not have a cover, which is a feature I've grown used to having...


    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Right Now: January 3, 2012

    Outside my window... it is chilly! This is the coldest it has been in over a year!

    I am thinking... that my feet are awfully cold. It's going to take forever to feel warm again.

    I am thankful for... to come back to after vacation.

    From the kitchen... there are screams of frustration. We are battling tiny ants that will not. go. away. Even though the kitchen is clean and every open package of food is sealed in a container or a zip-top bag.

    I am wearing... yoga pants and a long-sleeve tee. And socks on my freezing feet.

    I am creating... some revised Task Lists for myself on Gmail. I am a big fan of paper-and-pen lists but the Gmail Task Lists are super handy for remembering things, regardless of my location, and for reminding myself when my paper list isn't in front of me.

    I am going... to get my hair trimmed (it needs to be de-shag-i-fied and reshaped badly after nearly eight weeks!) and pick up my wedding dress on Saturday.

    I am reading... a book, several magazines, and a bunch of blogs.

    I am hoping... that we are doing seeing 80 degrees until at least April.

    I am hearing... the ceiling fan clicking slightly, the fan in my laptop and the hum of the refrigerator.

    Around the house... there is too much clutter. We are outgrowing this apartment.

    One of my favorite things... is relaxing on the couch in the evening. The ants have robbed me of that tonight, as I had to once again unload the entire pantry and engage them in combat.

    I don't understand... WHAT THE ANTS WANT!!

    I wish... I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.

    A few plans for the rest of the week... We already covered that! Hair appointment. Pick up wedding dress. The rest is the same old, same old.

    A picture to share...

    The photo from today's photo-a-day prompt. Also? My coping mechanism for THE ANTS OMG!


    Monday, January 2, 2012

    2012 Wishlist

    I have decided to rename my goals to being a wishlist--a "self wishlist," if you will. Let's see what happens...

    1. Find a house, move into it and be completely unpacked.
    2. Plan a wedding (without losing my mind or going over budget).
    3. Finish catching up on magazines, with a goal of having no more than the current month's issues and the previous month's issues in my magazine basket.
    4. Organize my file cabinet and create a "home owner's binder" for aforementioned house.
    5. Rebuild the savings after whatever aforementioned house depletes a portion of it. (Sorry, the actual number is confidential here.)
    6. Back up my photos and music *monthly*.
    7. Scan in all my old photos.
    8. Finish organizing the pages I've pulled out of magazines.
    9. Be caught up to within one week of all blog reading. I hare being behind to the point that I now feel silly leaving a comment.
    10. Take at least one photo every day. I have found a great site that emails me a photo prompt daily.
    11. Read at least ten books.


    2011 goals: the sort-of reprise

    I never shared this last year, but I had a running list of goals for myself for 2011, here in draft form. I found (as you can see) that I was less than motivated--although, I *was* more motivated than this list would appear at first glance! I blame lack of accountability. And so... I have a new plan for 2012. Starting with showing what a bum I was in 2011. Ha.

    1. create a cleaning schedule.
    2. organize my closets.
    3. catch up on my magazines. (I didn't finish this *entirely* but I did manage to go through a *ton* of really old magazines that I still can't believe have moved with me all the times I have moved. I am now down to only--ha ha, only--magazines that are under one year old, and the cooking magazines that I don't intend to part with quite yet.)
    4. organize my file cabinet. (Yeah, ummm... whoops. I did weed out and shred a bunch of old paperwork but that is as far as I got.)
    5. back up my music & photos monthly. (I did this more along the lines of quarterly.)
    6. finish organizing all the magazine pullouts. (I started. I have not finished. Work in progress.)
    7. get. caught. up. and stay that way. (Ha.)
    8. photo every day. (Fail.)
    9. read more. (The only reason I didn't cross this off is because while I did read more, it also took me eight months to read one book. To be fair, the book was very thought-provoking and required considerable attention. All in all, I finished six books, the same as in 2010, but that one book should have counted as three--seriously, it was 1100 pages and was written in three separate parts.)


    Menu Plan Monday: January 2, 2012


    Monday: Since Monday is a holiday and we can get an early start on this one (it takes a while), T is going to make some Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and we'll use up the last of the green beans (which must have been exceptionally fresh, because they kept a considerable time).
    Tuesday: I've had a craving for Tortellini Florentine Soup, so I will whip some up, and we'll round it out with some warm bread and a salad.
    Wednesday: T will pop some burgers on the grill, while I pop some tater tots in the oven.
    Thursday: Sandwich night! BLTs are always a favorite.
    Friday: T suggested Slow-Cooker Stuffed Cabbage, so he will get that started in the morning, before work, and it will bubble away all day in the Crock Pot while we work.
    Saturday: I think we will roast up a whole chicken, with some carrots and some boiled potatoes (with some butter and a dash of salt) on the side.
    Sunday: We're going to play Leftover Roulette. As in: if we have any, we'll eat them. If not, we will fly by the seats of our pants.

    Notes from last week's menu: Well, actually, that would be the menu from two weeks ago. Last week, I was visiting Nichole and Daniel in California, so I didn't have a menu. Regardless, we followed the menu with only some minor tweaks. Wednesday's chicken was marinated in the garlic & herb marinade. Thursday, we substituted steamed fresh green beans for the french-cut version, since we had a two-pound bag of them for Christmas dinner and no need for that many. Friday's squash was yellow Summer squash. And for Christmas dinner, T decided on Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans.

    The logo at the top will link you to more menu plans!


    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: December 2011

    A photo of me:

    1) Candle scents this month:
    Hollyberry. Cranberry. Autumn Fields. Hot Apple Pie. Mistletoe. Hazelnut Coffee. Mountain Berry. Christmas Cookie. Christmas Cupcake. Christmas Rose (tried this one but it smelled more subtle until I lit it; we last about ten minutes until I had to blow it out & toss it--something that happens only rarely, but makes me glad I only buy votives unless I *know* it's a scent I really love). Be Jolly. Deck the Halls.

    2) What I am reading this month:
    I finished "Atlas Shrugged" (Ayn Rand) -- finally!! -- and started "Love in the Time of Cholera" (Gabriel Garcia Marquez).

    3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
    "A Baby Changes Everything," Faith Hill. "A Cradle In Bethlehem," Vince Gill. "O Little Town of Bethlehem," Sarah McLachlan.

    4) Movies I saw:
    Santa Clause 2 - nothing special, but it was on in the background while we trimmed the tree. Elf. Holiday Inn. Home Alone. A Christmas Carol (George C Scott). Disney's A Christmas Carol (the full-length animated one, not the short Mickey one). The Polar Express. A Christmas Story. The Nativity Story. It's a Wonderful Life. True Grit. And the standard Christmas shows: "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "Dr Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

    5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
    The one that stands out most in my mind is Sore Loser: Parenthood (season 3, episode 9). That was, without a doubt, such believable acting that I actually forgot that it was acting at all. Dark Was the Night: Grey's Anatomy (season 8, episode 9) was very intense, even beyond an "action" level. I mean, there was plenty of intensity from the action but the *emotional* intensity blew even that away. And This Is the Way the World Ends: Dexter (season 6, episode 12) packed one *heck* of a cliffhanger punch!

    6) Something yummy I made:
    My Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Sandwich No-Bake Cookies absolutely blew. my. mind. It just doesn't make sense that something that simple should be *that* tasty.

    7) Restaurants where I ate:
    Columbia Harbour House (Magic Kingdom). Via Napoli (Italy pavilion - EPCOT). Panera.

    8) Five things I am loving this month:
    1. Google Chrome and the fact that I can sync it up between computers so all my bookmarks are available to me no matter where I use the Chrome browser! 2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich No-Bake Cookies - seriously, someone needs to take these away from me before I weigh a million pounds. 3. The way the lights on the Christmas tree reflect on the silver garland I have hanging around the window. 4. Feeling extremely small and insignificant while standing underneath a sequoia. 5. The outstanding customer service I received from United Airlines when my flight back from California proved to be a bit...challenging.

    9) A goal I had for this month:
    To finish Atlas Shrugged - successful!

    10) This month I looked forward to:
    Ten days off from work.

    11) Something that made me cry this month:
    Christmas music. There was something about my Christmas playlist on my iPod that made the words catch in my throat as I sang them. Perhaps it was that I wasn't just singing along with words that are familiar, some for as long as I can remember, but that I really soaked in what they were saying. It was not an uncommon sight to see me driving with damp eyes.

    12) A photo I took this month:

    This is a grove of sequoias, on the Congress Trail, in Sequoia National Forest, called "The Senate." Not that the photo possibly does their enormity justice...


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