Friday, January 29, 2010

Chicken 2.1

I finally roasted chicken breasts again and feel like I have nearly perfected my technique.

I was a bit distressed that the chicken breasts weren't fully defrosted, even after 24 hours in the fridge. But I think it worked out for the best! I loaded up the pan with the same old stuff - lemon, carrot, onion, celery, and this time added a few garlic cloves and whole sprigs of rosemary and thyme. But to help the flavors get in there and to help with the slightly longer cooking time I anticipated, I added just a little bit of olive oil and covered the whole thing with foil for the first 20 minutes.

I took the foil off and it smelled AMAZING. Can I bottle that scent? Eau de Poulet sounds pretty good to me! I reluctantly left the foil off, added a bit more olive oil to the skin, and stuck it back in. I checked it after another 45 minutes to add just a bit more olive oil in the places that weren't browning quite evenly, and put it back in for another 15 minutes.

At this point I checked on it and used my handy probe thermometer to check the internal temp (rather than cutting it open to see if it was done). When I googled it, something said the internal temp for a chicken was supposed to be 165. Well, my chicken was reading at 157. The juices were clear, but I wanted to be safe so I put on a little more oil, cranked up the heat, and stuck it back in so it could cook and the skin could get a little crisper.

The whole thing was very much worth it. And this time we actually tried eating the stuff in the pan. The onions were AWESOME. I wish I could figure out what it was. The sweet onions caramelized a bit, took on just a little of the flavor of the lemon and herbs, and were spectacular. I'll have to see if I can figure out how to do something similar in a pan to go with steaks!

One of these days I'll do a step-by-step with pictures. If I remember. Maybe.

Final Wishes

I have been thinking about death a lot lately. Too much. And it has made me think about my own death and what I would want. So I figured I would throw out a few thoughts. What can I say, I'm a planner and a control freak!

1) I want to be an organ donor if at all possible. If they can't be used for transplant, use them for research. Take whatever you want, I don't need it anymore. Use what you can to help others.

2) With donation usually comes cremation, but that is ultimately Jeff's call. If he wants my remains to be buried and that is possible, then bury me. And please keep the casket simple. I don't need embroidery and gilding.

3) If there is a casket, just put a small spray of flowers on it. Something happy with pink and yellow. And please try to avoid the lilies.

4) Instead of sending flowers, make a donation to a charity.

5) Remember me with laughter. And food. And perhaps a "restorative cocktail". (If you need an explanation of this read "Being Dead is No Excuse")

6) I know that I am somewhat obligated to have a "church" funeral/memorial, which is fine. I don't care which church. But please make the burial a family thing only. Even if I'm cremated, bury the ashes and put a small marker. I don't have a particular place picked out yet. If we haven't gotten plots yet, let Jeff pick a spot.

7) I don't have many strong feelings about music. Whatever floats your boat. BUT - if someone allows "How Great Thou Art" I will have to haunt you forever.

8) Somebody please make Jeff some fried chicken for lunch after the funeral

Thank you for your cooperation in these matters.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Calling All Artists

I have decided we need some new artwork for the new house. Don't get me wrong, we have some nice stuff now. But I would like something a little different for our living room. Although it's not exactly "early american dorm room" it doesn't look as put together as I would like. Sure the artwork sort of goes with each other, but it doesn't really go with the new sofa. We'll leave the cheap area rug out of the discussion for now...

The sofa is a brown with some sort of rusty undertones. The walls are painted beige. There just isn't a lot of color going on. The art we currently have displays lots of dark green. I'm not opposed to dark green, but I don't just love these particular flower pictures.

I like flowers and nature prints. I would probably choose them over something a little more abstract and modern. But these just don't do anything for me.

Because of the texture of the sofa, I feel like the throw pillows need to be a print rather than a solid. I haven't found anything I love yet but I'm leaning away from stripes and I don't think polka dots would be quite what we are looking for. That pretty much leaves floral patterns, which I think will do fine. I haven't got anything in particular in mind yet. I feel like I can pick the art and then use it to choose the color/pattern for the pillows.

Now, because I am Anal Annie about matching, I'm not sure how I'll feel about floral prints and floral patterned pillows. It might be a bit much, even for me. Especially if they're very different. I think it would bother me.

I'm not opposed to something neat and abstract, just so long as it's not TOO out there. So if you have something you want to sell or know of a place where I can get something good, let me know!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.3

These are some of my favorite things for the kitchen, which is probably my favorite room of the house.

Spoonulas - I would get rid of almost every other cooking tool I own as long as I got to keep my spoonulas. Most of mine come from Williams-Sonoma. They are sturdy and some are in fun colors and can be used for just about anything on any pan. They stir, they scrape, they fold, they don't scratch non-stick, and they usually serve well, too. If you don't have one, let me know. You will receive one for the next appropriate gift-giving holiday!

Titanium Chef's knife - I have generally always been nervous about large knives. I was afraid of cutting myself or not controlling them, or something. Because of this, I never had a good chef's knife until we got our titanium knife set as a wedding gift. Again, this is my perfect all-purpose knife because I am now very comfortable using it and it will do any job! I never understood the importance of GOOD knives until I got some. Now you will have to kill me to get them out of my kitchen.

All-Clad Stainless Steel - All my pots and pans are All-Clad stainless. It's what most restaurants use. Yes, it is very heavy. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, I love it to bits. Yes, stuff is more likely to stick, but it cooks beautifully. And all those "stuck" bits are YUMMY. I have learned lots of great new techniques to take advantage of the way it cooks. My chef's pan (large, high sides, helper handle on the end) is my favorite at the moment, but I also REALLY want a dutch oven.

Land O Lakes Butter - It's just one of those things you need to ALWAYS have in your kitchen. Right along with good spices, swanson low sodium chicken stock, onions, and garlic.

Large liquid measuring cup - When I say large I'm talking 4 or more cups each. You know the ones I'm talking about, they look like a small pitcher! I have at least two right now. One is metal and I generally use it just for measuring. One is plastic and often serves as a small mixing bowl. I can measure stuff as I add it without having to dirty other stuff. The one I have now cost me $1 at target. It was recently warped in the dishwasher, but still works pretty well. It's the perfect thing for mixing batter (especially pancakes!) because it's so easy to pour and there's very little scraping involved at the end.

Mini Tools - Yes, I have always had a special affection for things that are miniature sized. But these are fantastic because they serve a purpose. Mini spatulas are perfect for scraping out small containers like mayo or peanut butter where a big spatula won't fit. Mini whisks are perfect for making sauces and gravies because they get out even the tiny lumps. Mini spatulas are perfect for cookies or tiny pancakes because you can pick up one without disturbing the whole pan. It may take a little longer to use them, but the results are usually worth it!

I have decided that I'm slightly desperate for attention, so I want everyone who reads this to comment with at least one of their favorite things for each category. If you don't do much cooking your favorite thing in the kitchen may be the microwave or the phone, but I still want to hear about it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Animal Antics

I love my furry children because they are so darn entertaining! Little Bit here has decided that, despite the fact that she could probably get her head stuck inside the Kong, it was her duty in life to get out every last crumb of treat that is shoved in there.
She had absolutely no interest in this or any other dog treat until Patches started playing with it. Then of course she wanted to take it away from him. The same is true of the bed on which all of this is taking place. Patches was a good sport and let her go with it, mostly because he had already spent some time on it and had moved onto his rope toy

Don't let him fool you though! He may look sweet and innocent and well behaved right now, but he is really a bit on the nutty side. Right now he's probably dreaming about what beloved possession of mine he can eat next.
There are no pictures of Cocoa just sitting there being precious because, well, she's a diva. She doesn't like to have her picture made. I can't quite figure it out, but if she sees me looking at her with the camera she will get up and move. As soon as I put the camera down, she comes back. It gets old fast. She usually wins.

Puppies are good for the soul. So is laughter, which my puppies frequently cause!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Boat Show

Jeff loves boats and water and hanging out on the lake and fishing. For the most part, this "lifestyle" is foreign to me. Yes, my dad had a boat when I was a kid. I went fishing once or twice. I went to the lake with friends occasionally. But this wasn't a consistent part of my life. Since I started dating Jeff, I have learned all kinds of things about boats, fishing tackle, and vacationing at the lake.

Since we got married, we have started having "the family conversations". This included planning for the house and possible future vehicles, but has also included discussion about boats and what sort of boat would be best for us as a family. He wants something he can fish on. I want something I can stretch out on, read a book, and drink a coke. We agree that we would like something the future munchkins can swim from. And it seems that the best solution for us is a pontoon boat.

We have looked at a few when we want to kill time at the Bass Pro Shop. And recently we've started to seriously keep an eye out for what we like and about how much something like that would run us. We certainly won't be buying one anytime soon, but it's a major purchase so it requires a little forethought and planning!

Jeff makes three annual pilgrimages to the BJCC - the RV show, the car show, and the boat show. Last year we went to the RV show together. His friend Joey got to go to the car show with him this year. But I was determined to go to the boat show! I was actually looking forward to the whole thing, even though I know Jeff was dreading it just a little because apparently the salespeople would be swarming like vultures on a couple. (I don't see what the big deal is, but he can't stand it!)

I am not sure what I was expecting, but the show was really nice. There were a lot of dealers, a lot of boats, and a surprising number of people for mid-afternoon on Friday. I can't imagine how crazy it was tonight after work and what kind of a circus it will be tomorrow! The sales people weren't really over-the-top pushy. I'm guessing most of them saw us as young and therefore broke and not serious customers. Only one was really trying to sell us pretty hard. And ironically, his boat came away being our favorite!

Even though we knew we want a pontoon boat (and there were a slew of them!) we specifically want a pontoon boat that isn't too big (probably 21 feet or less) but is comfortable, with fishing chairs and either a textured floor or snap-in carpet. This is harder to find than you might think. For every boat we saw with the fishing package on it, we saw half a dozen that didn't. And there were plenty of nice boats that we liked, but that was one feature that is essential to us.

We did find a few that met our criteria. Some were clearly less expensive than others and lacked a few of the nicer features to get that way. Our favorite was from a company named Avalon, which neither of us was familiar with. It had a lot of great features and we could both be comfortable on it. The price was not bad either. We walked away with quite a few books from the various dealers with all the different options available. It will take us a while to sort through them!

We did not buy a boat, but there were certainly some very good deals to be had for those that were interested in making a purchase! We are probably still several years from buying a boat, but when we decide we are ready to make that purchase we will be very well informed! Although we certainly don't want a used boat, we are thinking that a model that is a year or two old would definitely be a worthwhile purchase. We may lose the option of customizing quite as much as we might want, but the price difference would probably make it worthwhile!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wish List Dos and Don'ts

From an etiquette standpoint, wish lists, registries, and other similar set-ups are a no-no. They are ASKING for gifts, which is rude. However, rules and expectations about this sort of thing have relaxed over the years. When giving a gift, most people want to give something meaningful, useful, and most of all something that will be appreciated and enjoyed by the recipient(s). This is where these things come in very handy.

Not every person getting married now needs everything to start a new house. Many have been on their own for a while and already started setting up their own housekeeping so it's helpful for people to know what they need and what will go with what they already have, and also know if they just aren't the type to need a crystal punch bowl or an egg plate!

The same is true with babies. Most people find out what the gender of their child will be, and the registry is a helpful way of relaying that as well as lifestyle choices such as only using organic cotton clothes, whether the mom is nursing, or if they will use disposable diapers. It's also helpful to indicate (by omission) what you DON'T need if you are borrowing from someone else, getting hand me downs, or have already purchased something yourself.

Now you can even set up more "specialized" registries. I sort of had one at a small local shop when I graduated high school. It basically consisted of writing what my luggage pattern was, what colors I was doing in my dorm room and where I was going to school on an index card. Whenever I got a gift they would keep track of it so if someone came in they could find that info out and know if I already had the makeup bag but still needed the jewelry case to avoid duplicates. Not everyone used it, but it was a nice option for people to have.

That being said, there are still WRONG ways of doing registries from both a practical and social standpoint. Here are some of my handy guidelines

1) If you register at multiple places, DO NOT put all the same items on both registries! Your average shopper isn't going to compare all your lists before setting out to purchase. They will pull the list for the store they are patronizing. And if you aren't cross-checking your lists, you are going to get duplicates. Avoiding this is the biggest benefit of registering in the first place. Big ticket items are usually my only exception because one place may have it on sale or someone may have a coupon that would encourage them to make that purchase from one store over another.

2) Not every occasion requires a registry. Just because a store has the option of setting up a "birthday" registry or some other random occasion, that doesn't make it a good idea.

3) Shower invitations are the ONLY invites it's ok to put registry info on (and even that is sometimes debated). The whole point is to "shower" the person with gifts. And you don't host these things yourself. Would you ever put a wish list in with the invitations to your birthday party? I certainly hope not! And would you ever look someone in the eye and say "Please come to my party but only if you get me something off this list of things I want"? If you would, I'm not sure I want to be your friend.

4) Just because you want something, that doesn't mean it has to make the list. Yes, you should put stuff from every price point on your list. But do you really need to put the sink stopper or the extra light bulbs or the trash bags on your list? A good rule of thumb - if it can be picked up during your regular grocery trip, don't register for it! The only exception MIGHT be diapers, and I'm still somewhat torn about this one.

5) Check your list once you get it set up. When you are doing in-store registries, it's almost impossible to delete something once you have scanned it. And it's certainly possible to change your mind in the process or discover something later you like better than an earlier selection. But once everything is said and done, use any on-line editing feature available to you to delete the duplicates, check your quantities, and make sure only your final selections are on the list. If you have 3 high chairs and 4 bouncy seats or 2 different sets of pots and pans and 6 sets of sheets, that's really going to lessen the chances of your getting the one you actually want!

6) Ongoing lists are nice, as long as you remember to maintain them! If you throw stuff on your list, don't get it, and a year or two later your tastes change, take it off. Also make sure you keep up with your own purchases to avoid duplication. If you're going to keep something like this and make it available to others, try to update it at least once every 6 months. If you have more time and energy, before and after major holidays or getting a bunch of gifts is best!

7) Just because it's on the list, that doesn't mean you'll get it! And just because you have a list doesn't mean people will use it.

8) No matter what you get, say thank you and mean it! Appreciate the thought that went into any gift, card, or presence of the individual.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.2

This episode of Sandy's favorite things is brought to you by the letter C. (These are some of my favorites from childhood)

Peter Rabbit - I got my stuffed Peter for my first easter when I was about 6 months old. According to my mom, he went into my collection of stuffed animals. Then when I was about three or four I got sick one time and wanted my Peter Rabbit. And life was never the same after that. I dragged him everywhere by his pitiful little arm and it had to be re-attached at least twice. It still isn't completely attached, but I like it that way. I slept with him every single night. He even went into the OR with me when I had my tonsils taken out! His stuffing has now settled out of his middle so he doesn't sit up straight anymore and his mid-section has most of the fur loved off of it. But no matter what, I will always have Peter!

Schwan's Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream - I don't know if that was the exact name of it, but that's what it was. I guess some things never change!

Craft Kits - These were the greatest thing ever to me. I was never particularly artistic, but I was crafty. I couldn't really draw or paint (although I certainly enjoyed trying) but I could make the mess out of some jewelry! I made note cards, hair clips, sand art, needlepoint pictures, woven purses, potholders, you name it. If there was a craft kit for it, I probably made it! And now, well, I still love the crafty stuff. I kind of miss sand art and woven change purses!

American Girl - I was that kid who always had her nose in a book. I would much rather sit inside and make something or read than go outside and play. And I really loved reading the American Girl books. I loved the history of it and the stories of the girls that were so relatable. The fact that they had dolls just made it that much better! I really want to read all the new books they have out. Does anyone want to let me borrow their 8 year old daughter/niece/cousin so I can have a reading buddy?

Under the Umbrella Tree - I had a lot of shows I really enjoyed watching, but this was probably one of my favorites. I know there were others like The Elephant Show and a live action version of Alice in Wonderland, but I think the adventures of Gloria, Iggy, and JJ were my favorites!

Chicken Nuggets with Ketchup - After John was born, mom made sure she and I had special time together every night. Most nights that meant I got to help cook supper. But on Friday night we got to go out and have a date, just the two of us. And I always wanted to go to McDonalds for Chicken Nuggets with Ketchup (and orange drink!) When mom was in the hospital, I would occasionally go get us dinner from McDonalds and she teased me because half the time I would get a chicken nugget kids meal. I very rarely eat ketchup now, but it's a nice memory.

Cinderella - I loved the movie Cinderella. I remember watching it over and over again, and I would act out the scene where she's waking up along with the movie. Mom swore there were others I liked better, but I really remember that one.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Best of the Best

I have been contemplating what the word "best" really means. It's hard to understand how it can be any sort of objective measure, because it is all a matter of perspective. I always think about "best friends" and the great elementary school debate about whether you could only have one "best friend" or if you could have several. I have always guarded the term "best". I don't like to use it. I will usually say "one of my favorites" if it comes to things or simply say "a friend" when it comes to people. I just don't throw around the term "best"

Thanks to the wonder of the internet, I found out that somebody special to Lauren had died on Saturday. I knew it was a friend named Matt. Since we shared so much of our life with the same people, I started wracking my brain for mutual friends named Matt. But we were at the in-laws and I just didn't have the time to search and figure it out. Yesterday was full of work and my brain was just fried. I thought about it and wondered about it, but just couldn't figure it out. And then this morning it hit me.

Matt Miller

And everywhere I looked it was there.

I didn't know Matt that well. I only remember meeting him once or twice. And I can't tell you when I actually met him in person for the first time. I know it was at camp. And because of our camp connection we both knew of each other. And the first thing he did after the awkward introduction "you're Matt right? yeah, you're Sandy?" he gave me a big hug. That's just the person he was.

I have a lot of roundabout memories of him through others, livejournal debates, and other indirect interaction. But the only memory I have of personal interaction with him is that hug. And somehow that fits. It didn't matter that we were just sort of "friends-in-law" and that we knew of each other. He hugged me. And not just the polite side hug, but a full on embrace. He embraced me, literally and figuratively. That's how he approached everything and everyone he encountered - he embraced them!

I always meant to e-mail him. I wanted to talk to him about church stuff. I wanted to get to know him better. But I just never did it. And now I am trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I won't get the chance now. It is making my head hurt. I feel somewhat guilty for being sad and grieving his loss. Because I didn't know him the way so many others did. His death didn't leave that gaping hole in my life. In many ways, I am grieving for my friends and I am grieving for myself. I am grieving for my own lost opportunities. And to me that is just not the right reason to grieve. It is selfish. And if I'm trying to take a tip from Matt, it's not what I should be doing.

If you didn't get the chance to know him, I'm sorry. Because even though there were times I disagreed with him and there were times he irritated me, he was one of the best people I ever got to know.

He was (and is and always will be) the best of the best

Sunday, January 17, 2010

This week's list

Last week was not nearly as productive as I had hoped it would be. Because Sunday is a work day for me, I count it as the start of my week. So let's see what the coming week has in store for me, shall we?

Sunday - Church. I really won't have time for much else. I'll be doing good if we make it home between morning and evening services. We may just go visit with Jeff's grandparents for a little while, I'm not sure.
Monday - Wash towels, go to the bank, pay bills. Maybe clean the bathrooms. Almost certainly do some cooking.
Tuesday - I have a meeting in the afternoon. In theory the morning will be slightly productive, but I doubt it!
Wednesday - Church in the morning. I may try to make up my hospital time that I will probably miss because of my meeting. I need to dust, too.
Thursday - Grocery Shopping. I don't know why, but I like grocery shopping so much better on Thursday than on Monday. I'm a strange creature like that. I think Jeff and I are going to try to have a date night of pizza and a movie, but we'll see.
Friday - Probably little things around the house like vacuuming. The boat show is in town and I promised Jeff I'd go with him at some point. I'd also like to sit and work on my crocheting for a bit. I screwed up the last one but I'm going to try again.
Saturday - Hopefully I can finish up some stuff for the church. If we haven't already made it to the boat show, we will.

As for meal plans, it'll really depend on what is on sale and what I get at the store. I really don't know what I'll do between Monday and Thursday. We still have some leftovers in the fridge (although we're very close to having them all eaten up) and I can always do the old standby of chicken and rice. I REALLY want to roast chicken breasts and try making a baked lemon pasta I found a recipe for, so we'll have to see where that works itself in.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Favorite Things - p.1

I have decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon and start doing a semi-regular "guided" post with a consistent, recurring theme. I'll start with my favorite things I never knew I wanted

Powder Box - I have a Wedgewood China powder box I got from Jeff's grandmother for my first Christmas with them. It was totally unexpected but it is absolutely perfect. It sits on my nightstand and I put my watch and ring in it every night before bed. And there's something almost musical about the clink of the lid onto the box.

Patches - I never considered myself to be a "big dog" person. We never had really big dogs when I was growing up, and most of the larger, "sporting" breeds that I had come across just weren't the cuddly kind of dog I thought I wanted as a four-legged part of my family. Jeff's labs began to change my mind, and we got Patches about a week before we were engaged. He's sometimes a little more playful than I like to be (I still won't get in the floor and wrestle with him!) but he is also so sweet I can't imagine life without him.

Risotto - I have no idea when or where I was first introduced to this amazingness, but I am so glad I was! My favorite is roasted garlic and parmesan.

Beechwood Sheets - I had never even heard of these until I went shopping with Jeff's grandmother one day. She had gotten some and wanted to get Jeff a set (this was before we were engaged and taking care of him was officially my job). They kind of remind me of the Bamboo sheets except not nearly as expensive! They are soft and silky and very warm when they need to be! As cold as it has been outside, these ensure that the bed is my favorite place to be!

UT Socks - I got these when I attended my friend Lillian's bridesmaids lunch. I have never been a "sleep sock" person because I always kick my socks off in the middle of the night. Plus, I never really saw the reasoning behind spending twice as much on "special" socks just for bed when I have a whole drawer full of socks that will also keep my toes toasty. But these little orange wonders are fantastic! They are soft and fluffy and will usually actually stay on my feet for several hours while I sleep, compared to the 10 or so minutes of most other socks. I have since gotten others, but these are still my favorites!

Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel Macadamia Clusters - Do I really need to explain this one?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Back in the summer I promised a a post on crocheting. I didn't forget, I'm just finally getting to it!

I got a great Hobby Lobby gift card as a wedding gift and when I went on my little shopping spree I found a "teach yourself to crochet" kit that I decided I couldn't live without. Crocheting isn't something I know how to do (or know anyone who knows how to do it!) but I really wanted to learn.

I got my kit, got some yarn, and got home and sat down with my little illustrated book and started. I was doing a little test patch and got the first row done, but couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get turned around and working on the next row! I did something, but I did it very wrong because it just kept getting thicker rather than wider. I just couldn't figure it out! I needed someone to show me what I was doing. But since I didn't know anyone who knew how to crochet, who was going to teach me? So I did what any logical person would do. I packed everything up when we moved and just tucked the whole box away! I didn't even open it.

Last night I was just surfing around online and saw where someone had mentioned learning to crochet by watching videos online. I don't know why that never entered my mind as an option! I guess I just don't spend enough time on youtube. I did a quick google search and came up with a great instructional video that shows you how to start, do the basic stitch, and then how to turn around and do another row! I don't know who was in this fabulous 3 minute video because it only showed her hands as she worked, but I am very grateful to them!

I got started. I intended to make a potholder but got a little excited and turned around too soon. So I am now well on my way to being the proud owner of a crocheted coaster! It's a little lop-sided because, well, it's my first project and I'm still learning! But I am really enjoying it and looking forward to doing more.

Next project will be a potholder!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Battle of the Brands

For most of my life I have been a brand shopper. I don't think it's intentional. I think that I, like most people, just did it without thinking. I knew what I liked and I bought it. I still do to some extent. But it's only recently that I've bothered to sit down and ask myself what it is that I like about one brand or another. And I honestly don't know for a lot of things.

Coke - I grew up in the south. Every carbonated soft drink under the sun is a coke to us! Yes, I do like Coca-Cola Classic. And occasionally, I will crave it (usually it must be accompanied by a Quarter Pounder with Cheese!). But for the most part, I will drink just about anything. I used to steer away from store brands, but now I know which ones are better than others.

Cheese - As a general rule, the little processed American cheese slices in my fridge have always been Kraft. That's just the way it was. And I know their commercials tell you that they're made with milk, rather than oil like a lot of other brands. And honestly, I don't really taste it. Then again, I'm far from a processed cheese connoisseur. And I've never really tried to compare them. It's just not that big a deal to me. The "real" cheeses are another story...

Cleaning Products - As long as it works, I will buy it. I'm not sold on any one brand of product, but I do tend toward a particular brand for a particular job. For instance, I like the lysol toilet cleaner. But I don't really like lysol for anything else. Instead, I will tend toward Scrubbing Bubbles. But for dishes, it's Dawn and Cascade. For laundry I really prefer Gain and Bounce. I have recently been able to branch out, but only slightly.

Frozen Foods - for the most part, I won't buy store brand frozen foods. With that lower price usually comes lower quality. Now canned foods or dry goods I could usually care less. But the frozen stuff I do notice a difference. In fact, I normally won't buy the "discount" brands either. There are always a few exceptions - frozen veggies are usually ok. Pizza depends on the store. But for dinners and most snack foods, I prefer the "good stuff" or to not have it at all.

Chicken Fingers - This is the food I have been the pickiest with. I the past few years I've stuck with Tyson. I really prefer the Tyson FINGERS (not nuggets or popcorn or whatever else) although I will concede to do the Chicken Fries if nothing else is available. But that was until recently. Growing up we shopped at Food World (which in case you didn't know basically doesn't exist anymore. It makes me sad). And we always got these chicken fingers called Top-Chik. They were torture as a kid because they weren't pre-cooked. You couldn't just toss them in the microwave for a minute and a half and be ready to eat. They had to bake in the oven (because we weren't allowed to use the fryer by ourselves) for something like 12-15 minutes. In case you've forgotten, when you're a hungry 8 year old, that is an eternity!) But they were very tasty. Even tastier than Tyson. And last week I found them at one of the few remaining Food Worlds. And my soul did a little happy dance. Jeff thought I was nuts until he tasted them. And they really are that good. And the best part? They're cheaper than Tyson! I may still get Tyson from time to time because I do most of my shopping at Publix and I'm lazy like that. But I'm telling you, these are worth a special trip!

Ice Cream - I am not particularly choosy about my ice cream. If given an unlimited budget I'd probably only buy Blue Bell with a sprinkling of Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's for good measure. But since that isn't my life, I'll buy whatever. But my loving husband is a little strange to me. He actually PREFERS the store brand, especially in his favorite - Cookies and Cream. I don't know why, but he does. Like I said, I'll eat anything so I often indulge him, but that is one thing I'll never understand.

Clothes - I am not as bad as I used to be, but I'm still pretty much a brand shopper when it comes to clothing. It's not that I'm trying to be snooty, and it's not like I only buy designer brands. There was one thing that my mother always told me when we bought clothes, especially as I got older. And that was that I should always be willing to pay for quality. For the most part I have been. I generally avoid buying my clothes at Wal-Mart or the like. Now I will admit a lot of their stuff has gotten better. And if given a choice, I would rather go to Target. But I just don't even think of those as actual wardrobe-buying options. A random t-shirt? sure. Socks? Why not! PJ's? Bring them on. But my "regular" clothes, and especially my "good" clothes are going to come from Belk or better!

Shoes - Shoes are one thing I have learned the hard way to always buy a name brand I love. Tennis Shoes are New Balance. Flip Flops are yellowbox. Heels are usually Nine West. Everything else - chances are I won't be wearing them very long or very often. I have yet to find a brand I love for my flat shoes, but the irony is that the cheaper ones usually do better for me. I haven't figured it out yet, but when I do I'll let you know.

Electronics - I'm not too picky here. Yes, I love my Mac. And my iPod. and my Blackberry. and my HP printer. But I'm not so sold that I would only ever buy these products again (ok, maybe on the iPod). TVs, DVD players, Stereos, Clocks, etc are all open for debate. Again, as long as they work and are in my budget, I'll take them!

Personal products - this is the one area where I generally refuse to compromise. Once I find something I love I stick with it. The only exceptions are things where I have a few different products I love and will alternate between those on the "approved" list. Deodorant is always Secret. Razors are always Venus. Shampoo is either Herbal Essences or Garnier. Shower Gel and Bubble Bath are Bath and Body Works. It all just makes my world a happier place!

Have I told you lately that I'm a little crazy?


Football season is FINALLY over. I have to say it, I'm very glad. The last month or so I was sick and tired of hearing about football and the national championships and all of that.

I am an Auburn fan. I can't help it, it's the way I was raised. Both my parents went to Auburn. But we were not hard-core, "love everyone who plays Alabama" Auburn fans. We had friends and family members who were Alabama fans. That's just the way it was. We didn't bust a gut to watch the games each week. We'd put them on for background noise, but we certainly didn't plan our Saturdays around them. In fact, the only game we ever really bothered to plan and watch was the Iron Bowl. We would go to games about once a year, but it was just something fun to do.

My apathy toward college football was so great that in high school, the Iron Bowl meant one thing and one thing only to me - MONEY! It was the greatest babysitting day of the year. I would sometimes get twice my normal rate or even more for whatever reason. And let me tell you, making $80 to sit on the couch and watch tv while the kids are in bed is pretty darn fantastic! I was not at all heartbroken that I didn't get to go to a party. I still usually saw the game and I didn't have to deal with the yelling and obnoxiousness that came with watching with a large group! Yup, fabulous!

I was always taught that, even being an Auburn fan, you still cheer for Alabama as long as they aren't playing against Auburn. And for the most part that's how I feel about the whole thing. I want both teams to do well. I have had friends go to both schools. It's just a game.

I did indeed watch the game last night. And I cheered for Alabama. And I was glad they won. I'm glad I can get a hat and t-shirt for Jeff for his birthday and not have to try and come up with something else to get him! But I'm also glad the season is over and we get a break for about 7 months!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things domestically. The house and the move and the holidays have had my life and my routine turned upside down for far too long, but thankfully that is changing. I'm so glad I finally have a groove I can settle into.

Here is a peek into the new schedule at Casa de la Herren for the rest of this week and next week

Thursday - laundry and possibly some dusting. Dinner will probably be honey mustard pork loin, broccoli, and baked rice (if we don't get snowed in!)

Friday - clean the bathrooms and possibly wash a load of towels. I think I'm going to make risotto, although I don't know what we'll have to go with it. Maybe turkey.

Saturday - probably heading down to Montgomery if the weather isn't too bad. Dinner is to be decided based on the day's activities. If we get home in time, I'm thinking pancakes and bacon for dinner!

Sunday - church. Housework just isn't happening! Dinner will be leftovers.

Monday - vacuum and sweep. Dinner will probably be chili.

Tuesday - volunteer at the hospital. Housework may or may not happen. Dinner may be jambalaya and green beans

Wednesday - dust and change the sheets. Dinner will be roasted chicken breasts with mashed potatoes and english peas

Thursday - laundry day again. Dinner will be teriyaki beef and I may try my hand at fried rice.

Friday - bathrooms. I may also try to do some baking. Dinner may be mexican (we have a gift certificate)

Saturday - no house cleaning (here at least). We're going to celebrate his mom's birthday a couple of weeks late with a fondue party.

Sunday - church. Dinner will just be whatever is quick and easy.

So there you have it. We'll see how well I do at following this (especially when it's so flipping cold outside I don't want to leave my bed!) but I feel good about it because I have some direction and won't spend the day wandering aimlessly through the house. One day is going to become my craft day, where I can work on all the little projects that I really enjoy but haven't been making time for. I'm thinking maybe Thursday, but we'll have to wait and see. That is still a few weeks in the making.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cutting Up

I got a haircut today. A rather dramatic one. Some of you may remember the "incident" with my hair in June 2007. Well, that was only slightly more dramatic than this!

I grew my hair out for the wedding. But I said the whole time that I wanted to cut it as soon as the wedding was over. Well, life got in the way of that. But I have been getting REALLY fed up with my hair lately. And I finally couldn't take it any more and got it cut off.

There are no pictures at the moment because, well, it's not a particularly attractive. It makes my little fat face look even fatter. But I am thrilled with it because it's short and easy to manage. I'm all about function over fashion!