Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Monday...4 wins and 1 big fail

Another week is here, and another week of meals have been served. Overall, this week was okay. Nothing spectacular, but it was mostly good. Let's begin...

My Meals:

I make this probably once a month, but there's a good reason. A few good reasons, actually. It's delicious, it's easy, and best of all, it's healthy. I love so many of the recipes from IGE blog. She is health conscious but still makes great food.

This is another recipe from my mom. It's fairly low in calories and fat, and vegetarian friendly. I posted about it a year ago in a post on here, but the link above will take you to the recipe on my Tasty Kitchen page.

J's Meals:

This really was that yellow thanks to to turmeric in it. It was tasty, but rich. It had a lot of flavor. A bread or pita would have gone well with it to break up the flavor.

Pasta Fagioli & French Bread & Sparkly Water

I think J's made this soup before, and just like last time, it was hearty and great. He subbed ground turkey for the ground beef. The sparkling water is more a joke but I had to add it. I needed several glass bottles with twist on lids for a science project in class last week (preferabbly not wine since they were for the kiddos), and so I came home Tuesday night with 3 large bottles of sparkling water, and we managed to drink all 3 by the morning. It felt like we were in Europe all over again.

And J's third meal was paninis with sweet potato fries didn't quite work out.
He did the grocery shopping this week, and after he shopped, he learned that I don't like rye bread, or thick cut deli meat. So as he was getting ready to make this for us before I ran out the door at 7pm for a meeting one night last week, he quickly learned I wouldn't like many of the components of this meal. So we called it a bust. He ate the paninis on his own and I had pasta with butter when I got home from my meeting.

You win some, you lose some!

SO...that's what we had last week. What's cooking in your home?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jesus Truck

Do you ever go back and look at old photos in your photo archives on your computer and then just die laughing when you see something you totally forgot about? These two are from an album of pics I took in Nashville back in February 2006. J went to college in Nashville and I made many a trips to visit him. As we were driving downtown on this particular trip, we saw this truck...

I can't believe I haven't shared this before now.
There's so much to take in in just 2 photos.

I am a Christian. And I consider Jesus Christ to be my Savior.
But this truck...I really don't have words.
So glad I had my camera in my purse as we passed him on the road that day.

Friday, January 28, 2011

5 Things I Love: January 2011 Edition

I like to make these lists from time to time...always fun to think about what's making us happy. It's been awhile since I've done one, and with the week I've had, a quick list of happy things might be just what I need.

1. This sweater from Lands End Canvas. I could live in it all winter. Hands down my best purchase this season

2. Damages...after many recommendations from friends (mostly Erin!), I have given in and started watching it on Netflix. I'm only a few episodes in and I'm hooked.

3. Sara Bareilles' new album, Kaleidoscope Heart, courtesy of my local library. What a talented artist.

4. This necklace, that I do not own, but would really love to add to my jewelry collection (via itsbeautiful etsy shop)...

5. Edy's French Silk reduced fat ice cream...thanks to my sweet husband for bringing this home last night!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things I love...

The other day Anne had a post on her blog titled "Things I Adore But Probably Shouldn't."

I loved this idea and decided to steal it.

Things Rachel Loves But Probably Shouldn't...

1. McDonald's ice cream sundaes with hot fudge and peanuts. They're only $1 and I'm a sucker for a cheap and delicious snack!

2. Talking in weird voices and saying crazy things to Layla. If there was a camera crew around, I'd be humiliated.

3. When members of my 5th grade team are out on Wednesdays and those of us who are there decide to not meet for our weekly collaboration during our planning.

4. Going to the gym on Sunday afternoons just so I can watch reruns of Kendra's show on E! No one should use Kendra as motivation to work out, and yet I do...

5. Listening to the Rap/Hip Hop station on my way to work in the morning. Something about listening to "Black and Yellow" really pumps me up for the day ahead of me.

6. CocaCola....not diet. Just the original stuff in the red can. I've tried to cut back to just one on the weekends. Doesn't mean I love it any less, though!

7. Buying serving pieces and bowls and mugs that we have no room to store. I go to the local flea market and I just can't help myself.

8. Ketchup on my mac and cheese. Don't judge.

9. Stalking people on facebook. Good friends, random friends, coworkers...I love a good facebook stalking sesh.

10. Purposely burning my popcorn and toast.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Monday

Here's what we've been eating for the past week...

My Meals:

This was tasty, but not figure friendly at all! I ended up using way more cream cheese than the recipe called for (oops!), but it still ended up being tasty. I'd recommend this, but I'd also suggest a salad with it. You'll want something green to go with all the cheese and bacon.

This meal can do no wrong.

Seafood Gumbo with ciabatta rolls

This recipe was my first experience with making a roux. It was one of those meals where all the steps moved fast and it's important to have everything prechopped and measured so you can just dump it in the pot when it's time. As long as you're prepared, it pretty simple. And it was DELICIOUS! I'll be trying this one again. We left out okra because our grocery store seemed to have none (frozen or fresh). I'll look again in the summer.

J's Meals:
J left out the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. This was our second time around with this soup, and the first time it was SPICY! Leaving the peppers out helped greatly. He doubled the green chilies in place of the peppers he left out.
Also...sorry for the crappy cell phone pic! The soup really wasn't pink.

Slow Cooked Ginger and Hoison Pork Wraps with Peanut Slaw

This was another repeat recipe...and it was just as good second time around as it was a few months ago. The pork in this recipe is incredible.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Are you pregnant too?"

First of all, NO...I am not pregnant.

I have no plans of getting pregnant anytime soon. I am as unpregnant as they come.

Just wanted to put that out there.

But I happen to work in an elementary school. A school that has 3 male employees. Everyone else is a woman. A gossipy woman. And at the time being, 3 of the women I work with are pregnant. They are all due between May and July. One of those women is my partner at work (we teach the same group of kids), and she is also my best friend at school. We'll call her S.

Apparently, if you're young and of child bearing age and you're married and your best friend gets pregnant, people seem to think that you are pregnant too.

Since S announced her pregnancy last November, I have had 5 people ask me if I'm pregnant too. FIVE.


I'm sorry but the last time I checked, you don't become pregnant when your best friend announces her pregnancy. I don't think it works that way.

Everytime someone asks me "the question" and I respond in a hysteric yelling fit, they quickly say something along the lines of, "Well, don't be offended! You're young and married, and you know, S is pregnant and all, so I thought you may be too"

Does that logic make ANY sense? AT ALL?! Since when did pregnancy become a contagious disease among friends. I don't think it works like that.

I will admit. I have gained about 10 pounds since last winter. Those are 10 pounds I am not happy about. In fact, I hate them and I'm hoping to get rid of them. But they're there. And that's just the way it is. HOWEVER, I don't think those 10 pounds on my hips and thighs are making me look pregnant. They just make my butt look big! But maybe I'm wrong. Because five people have asked me if I'm pregnant too. And apparently that's an okay question to ask people. Who knew?

My self esteem is shot.
I have become incredibly self conscious about my clothing choices.
And I am beginning to wonder if I have a poor perception of what I really look like.
Maybe I really do look like I'm sporting a baby bump?

These are the thoughts and feelings I've been struggling with since November. And it sucks.

I'm not writing this post to get compliments on how I look, I wrote it more as a way to vent. I am frustrated with the boldness and rudeness of others. People who have no social graces and think their questions are appropriate.

In good news, this just encourages me to work out harder. After being asked for the fifth time today and getting in the car and crying as I called J, I told that treadmill who was boss at the Y tonight. I suppose I can use this as motivation to get my butt to the gym. Always trying to see the positive!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

weekend away

This past weekend, we traveled to the Northern Neck in Virginia for a weekend away with two of our good friends.

I took ZERO pictures with my camera. I think that's considered to be a blogger fail, but I'm okay with it. The weekend was meant to be relaxing, and relax we did.

We ate a lot of great food. We played Spades til 1:30 AM. We drank wine and beer (and some Bailey's on my ice cream sundae!). We watched The Big Chill and When Harry Met Sally (my first time seeing The Big Chill). We laughed...a lot. I completed a 1,000 piece puzzle all by myself in under 7 hours. We read many pages in our books. We laughed as Layla behaved like a chicken around their cat. I even got a few things done for school.

Three days away with my husband and friends was just what I needed.

The next few months will be rough. No breaks or days off between here and April. Guess I need to start crossing my fingers for another snow day or two!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Monday

First of apologies for the wacky colors in these pictures. It is so hard to photograph food in the winter when we have no natural light coming in at dinner time. I promise that despite the ugly pictures, the food was all still very tasty.

Secondly...on to the food!

My meals:

These were very yummy. I love steak, so this was naturally great in my book. Instead of serving with Romaine Lettuce I put arugula in ours. We had plenty of tzatziki sauce leftover afterward, but that's okay. It just meant I got to dip all sorts of veggies and pita chips in for extra snacks!

Deep South Shrimp and Sausage served over Spicy Cheese Grits

Holy moly, this was GOOD. Like, I want to make it again this week kind of good. I can't give this enough stars to show my love for it. YUMMMM! I used a kielbasa sausage in it, and fresh peppers instead of frozen. Definitely give this one a try!

J's Meals:

Sweet Pea Risotto with Rosemary Bread

Picture is from Real Simple since I forgot to snap one...oops! We ate this with friends while we were out of town this weekend. J made it for the group, and I think everyone was a big fan.

Baked Kidney Beans and Chorizo served over Brown Rice

J has made this for me about 50 times in our 2 and half year marriage. I never tire of it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas Fridge

I know that some may find this to be tacky, but I love coming home everyday and seeing the pictures of so many of our loved ones displayed in our kitchen. I saved all of the photos we got in our Christmas cards and put them on the fridge for display and I'll likely leave them here all year.

I love it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

nerd alert confession

I have a confession...we listen to our radio almost every night.

It's not an XM radio. Not Pandora. We listen to the old FM radio every night. Not in the car. In our home.

Every night when we get in the kitchen and start making dinner one of us will say to the other, "Waves?" and the other will person will turn it on the radio to our favorite station, "92.9 The Wave."

And "The Wave" isn't pop/top 40 channel or the country channel or "cool music", oh no. We listen to the channel that plays "The best variety of yesterday and today." In other words, they play a lot of "oldies" from the 70's and 80's, and some adult contemporary music (think Train, Daughtry, Sheryl Crow, Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus' "The Climb") . I don't know how we got stuck listening to this channel, but early on in our marriage we started and now we can't stop.

But our radio obsession actually gets better (or maybe more ridiculous?). There are some songs that get played a lot on the old Wave...we refer to these as "Wave-rits" (get it?!). Some examples of Wave-rits:
  • "Still the One" by Orleans
  • "Somebody's Baby" by Jackson Browne
  • "Crazy Love" by Poco (this is a personal fav!)
  • "Everything I Own" by Bread
  • "Baby Come Back" by Player
  • ANYTHING by Elton John
  • "Silly Love Songs" by Paul McCartney and Wings
My list could really go on and on.

And the real kicker to our dorky radio addiction is Saturday nights. Every Saturday night is "Saturday Night at the 70's" where they play a lot of 70's "boogie music" as we like to call it. Music that you normally hear at weddings...lots of "Brick House" lots of Earth Wind and Fire. When we have plans on Saturday nights and we go out, we'll even say to one another "Man, guess this means no Saturday Night at the 70's tonight!"

This really happens. We are really this uncool on our Saturday nights and I'm okay with it.

How in the world will we survive if we ever move? There will never be another station like this one.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Menu Monday...Cooking Light and PW Edition

I am going to be doing things a little bit differently on Menu Monday over here. In the past, I've always posted my recipes before I had made them. We'd plan our meals, I'd post them, then I'd cook for the week. I've decided to switch the order around...from now on I think I'll be planning, cooking all week, and then posting on here. This way I can post pictures and any modifications made to the recipes.

Now that we've got that away, let's talk about the's what we ate last week:

My Meals:
I got the Cooking Light Cookbook, Fresh Food Fast, and so far it has yet to disappoint! It's been worth every penny.

This week we tried...

Taco Beans and Rice with my mom's green chili frittata...recipe at the end of this post
Thoughts on Taco Beans and Rice: very tasty if you don't make the mistake I did and use Trader Joe's taco seasoning. That stuff is SPICY and honestly ruined this meal for us. I'll be trying it again in a few months, but next time making my own taco seasoning. One modification I made..added cilantro and some lime jucie

We also tried Seared Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Dark Beer Reduction and Blue Cheese with baked sweet potatoes on the side.
These were extra yummy steaks. Recipe called for beef tenderloin steaks, I bought petite sirloin. Sometimes beef selections confuse me...big time! This substitute ended up working perfectly.

And J's Meals:

While I was digging Cooking Light all week, my dear husband was into some Pioneer Woman...makes for a balanced diet...kind of?

Only thing I'd change about this...I'd add sliced avocado on top

Monday Night Stir Fry

Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp served over Trader Joe's Basil Linguine
This was delicious. Only problem was we forgot crusty bread to go with it. It's a must to soak up all the garlicy butter goodness on your plate.

And the promised recipe from above...this is a great side for any Mexican meal!

Green Chile Frittata

7 whole Egg
½ cups 1% Milk
1 Tablespoon White Flour
1-½ cup Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese
2 cans Green Chiles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Beat eggs in a bowl
3. Mix in other ingredients
4. Pour into a circular casserole dish (square pan would work too)
5. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until done in the center

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cell Phone Pic Documented Weekend

Our weekend in cell phone pics...
cell phone pics taken with the Android App Retro Camera.

Date night with J to see The King's Speech (excellent movie, by the way)
at our favorite theater in town, The Naro

Followed by a dinner date to our favorite Mediterranean Restaurant

Saturday we went shoe shopping for J

Thrifting and Antiquing where I found two candlesticks and another milk glass bowl

And the weather was nutso!
It was sunny. It hailed. It was sunny. It was crazy, windy snow. It was sunny again.
What a day.

And I made another new recipe from my new Cooking Light cookbook!
Recipe will be on Menu Monday tomorrow.

Today I grocery shopped

I graded math tests. Lots and lots of math tests. All while drinking hot tea.

And then we watched the Eagles vs. Packers game with some friends.
I couldn't care less about the NFL and J feels the same way,
but his Wisconsin family has given him a Cheesehead,
and tonight seemed like a good time to put it to use.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I am eating tons of leftovers from the NYE party that still remain in our fridge. Will they ever go away? Probably not.

I have watched celery turn from green to red and blue thanks to food coloring and the tubing inside that vascular plant. The perks of teaching 5th grade science.

I ate a spicy chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A thanks to their free promo. Consesus: I like the regular biscuit better.

We've watched so many movies. Some on my own, some with J. Our list includes: The Hurricane, The Kids are All Right, Easy A, Babies, Jerry was a first time viewing of each movie and I was a fan of them all. Especially The Hurricane. I love Denzel.

Erin and I have been talking to get our book club back up and running. We're pretty excited for the first book of 2011. Visit the blog for more info...and please join in!

I'm having a love hate relationship with my hair. I love how long it is, but I wake up everyday and it is so knotty! Any suggestions? I made a hair appointment for next week, and I'm hoping my stylist can take some of the weight off without losing too much length? We shall see.

I've been listening to the beautiful music from True Grit on YouTube. I love that they took an old hymn and tied it into the score. I can't get enough.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Pretty paper freebie find of the week!
This was too good of a find not to share!

The very talented Paige is offering up her adorable 2011 calendar templates for free over at her blog. All you have to do is download the image for each month and print 'em out. Easy peasy! This would be a great desk accessory or a fun gift.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Menu Monday: NYE Style

Back in October J and I decided we wanted to have a little NYE bash at our home. I was excited to order real invitations (no evites for me!), make a lot of delicious food, use some of our serving dishes that rarely get used, have some drinks, and celebrate with a handful of friends.

invites from

And celebrate we did! We had four other couples come over, played some catch phrase, scared Layla with the noise makers, and ate more food than we probably should have.

I spent most of last week prepping food for the party, which made the day of very stress free. I had most the dishes prepped and really just had to put most things in the oven on the day of. I am not normally a planner, but in this case I was sure glad that I planned ahead. It made it much easier.

I did a lot of appetizers and a few sweets. I didn't think it was possible to do dinner, mainly because we don't have the space for 10 people to sit down to eat a full meal. But lots of appetizers ended up being perfect. Here's what I served...

Baked Brie and Crackers

Sausage Queso Dip with Frito Scoops (in the mini crock pot painted by my niece!)

Hungry Girl Buffalo Chicken Dip

Scallop and Jalapeno Bites, courtesy of Trader Joe's

Fruit Plate

Veggies, Pita Chips, and Hummus

Sausage Balls

Cookies and Cream Fudge & Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

I had also planned to make PW's Holiay Bacon Appetizers, but I kind of forgot to put them on a drying rack to bake, and the crackers just got soaked in bacon grease. Oops! You live and learn!

Fun times were had by's me and my main squeeze, ready to start the new year:

And just for laughs, I have to tell you about these hats...

Clearly it was a New Year's Eve Party, not a birthday party. But when this busy girl went to the Dollar Store to buy noise makers, she saw these party tiaras right beside them. In a rush, I picked them up, thinking they said "Happy New Year" and they'd be perfect for the party, When I got home, J opened the bag and asked why I bought "Happy Birthday" hats. We made the best of it and wore them provided for a few laughs for everyone!