Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Week 24

Once again, it's time to check in and see how my list of 101 things is going.

Honestly, I haven't done a ton in the past couple of weeks. It hasn't really been on my mind as much. Maybe because I'm starting to get a little worn out with it and maybe because this is getting to be harder than I thought. For the most part, I'm still enjoying it but it's frustrating to see some of the big things on there that I can't really do anything about right now.

15 - still no real progress, but there is a new development! I found out that there's a yoga class at a church not far from our house. The down side is that it meets on Tuesdays, so perhaps once CPE is over I can actually give it a shot!

34 - I wouldn't say I've actually attended a cooking class yet, but I have attended one demo (and I'm going to another this weekend) and found out about some classes that are available that aren't too crazy expensive, so that's exciting on that front!

36 - Halfway there! I went one total week and I've been splurging a bit. Starting Sunday I'm going to try to knock out the second week so I can cross that one off the list. It really wasn't that hard until about day 4, then it got to be almost too much!

41 - I'm crossing my fingers I can get this one done this week! I have all the CDs pulled out, now I just have to actually take them and get the pictures printed!

78 - COMPLETED! Yes, I did actually accomplish something! I had a lovely girl's night out with my friend Tyler last night. It really was great to get to catch up and I'm thrilled that she and her husband are living here now so we can hang out more often!

So there you have it. The last two weeks of my slacking and still managing to cross something off the list. I just wish it were all that easy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Making a Splash

Today I decided to go for a little adventure and check out the Helena Market Days! It was very small, maybe 10 or 12 vendors, but everything was really nice. I was surprised that, in addition to the fresh produce, there was other stuff like soap, herbed vinegars, goat cheese, and quilted wine carriers! Next week I'll be getting several things. The cooking demo was fun, although I was less than impressed today because all they did was bruschetta! Oh well, I'll be back next week!

While I was there, I ran into a friend with his two boys. The boys had been asking to play in the creek, so they came prepared today with swimsuits and towels. Well, after a little while, one of the boys wanted his daddy to get in with him, but he couldn't because he had a bandage on his foot that he didn't want to get wet so I said I would go with him. The water only came to my knees and I had shorts on, so it wasn't that big a deal until he wanted to get a little closer to the waterfall.

Just in case you're wondering, the rocks get quite slippery and some of them are pretty steep. Needless to say I landed rather un-gracefully on my rear end in the creek. Fortunately I had a wonderful time splashing and playing so it was totally worth having a wet rear end! Note to self- next time wear the workout shorts!

Seriously though, if you are in the area and looking for something to do on a Saturday morning, I highly recommend it! It'll keep going all summer!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taco Pancakes

I first discovered this recipe in the Birmingham News on May 18th. It's by Stephanie Parker, and I've just got to say that her blog Plain Chicken might be my new favorite food blog! It also helps that she's local so when she talks about great places she likes to go, I have usually at least heard of them and can actually try them! That is so cool to me!

Back to the taco pancakes...

Of course you know me and I can't leave well enough alone, so I wasn't satisfied with simply trying and then sharing Stephanie's recipe. No, I had to go and mess with it! And honestly, I'm so glad that I did! I didn't mess much, but I did make it mine and to me that just makes it better! So without further ado, here is my version of taco pancakes!

1 lb ground beef, cooked with 1/2 small onion, 1 clove garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne to taste (this translates to my "secret formula" for taco meat!) If you want to cheat a little you can use a packet of taco seasoning. If you want to cheat a lot, you can use a tub of pre-made taco meat. No judgements whatever you decide!

Now for the "pancake batter" which is kind of a cornbread base. Actually, this was inspired by Paula Deen's Hoecakes and my cornbread.
1 1/4 c. Self-Rising Flour
3/4 c. Cornmeal
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Once you have your batter, mix in about half of your meat, about 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese (I used pepperjack because it's what we had) and some chopped jalapeno or a little extra onion if that's your thing (it isn't mine!) You can add more meat if you want it or save it for other stuff (or double the batter recipe!)

I cooked these two different ways. Jeff preferred them just like a regular pancake. I liked them fried in a little extra vegetable oil so they were crispier, more hush puppy-ish. If you have a big griddle, this would be a super easy meal for a crowd. I just had a pan and two people, and it was still pretty darn easy.

I would recommend leaving off the maple syrup in favor of salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and any other taco toppings you like. We used my homemade salsa I had left and sour cream. I think deep in his heart Jeff would have loved some cheese dip over the top, but he seemed quite satisfied with what we had.

Give it a try, let me know what you think, and if you made any tweaks of your own I want to hear about them!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Geocaching Q&A

What is geocaching? According to the official website, geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers called geocaches, using GPS enabled devices and then share their experiences online.

Why are you blogging about it? This is my newest hobby, and I've got to say I'm loving it. I'm all about a good treasure hunt, and this really is exciting! It's a fun thing for Jeff and I to do together, but I think I would also enjoy it by myself.

How did you find out about this? I was introduced to this by RevDrKate from RevGalBlogPals. She mentioned it several weeks ago and it got my curiosity up. I did a little digging online, and even found a free app for my iPhone. I downloaded it just to see if there was anything nearby so I could check it out before I went to the trouble of signing up online.

Have you tried it yet? As a matter of fact I have! I have found out there are lots of geocaches around in lots of different places.

Have you found one yet? Yup, sure did! I signed up online and my name is Boouge (which is actually Jeff's nickname but since we're kind of doing this together I figured that's ok!)

What is inside? Well, there are different things inside of the caches based on the size. Some are very large and have all kinds of "goodies" to trade and pass along, and some are very small and only have a small piece of paper that is the log for when you find it! All caches have to have a log. Everything else is optional. For the ones with "stuff" the general rule is that if you take something, leave something in its place.

Have you hidden one? No, I'm not ready to start hiding yet. I have a few ideas for hiding places, but that will come later.

Can I try? You bet! Get out there and let me know what you find!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Week 22

It's time for another look at my list of 101 things I want to do!

32 - This one is a lot harder than I thought. I'm thinking of modifying it to only going out once per week because we try to have a "date night" once a week, especially on the weekends. Perhaps I should change it to not going out on weeknights (or Sun-Thurs) for two weeks. Thoughts?

36 - This is also a lot harder than I thought it would be. So far I've been able to go three days (today will make four if I'm successful). My problem isn't that I can't resist the temptation, the problem is that I just don't think about it. I just don't even think about grabbing some M&Ms for a snack or a bottle of chocolate milk for lunch! I'm going to try to be more deliberate, but it's usually AFTER the fact that I realize it! I'm thinking I may give myself a little bit of grace on this one and go a week, take a couple of days to indulge and then do my second week. Hey, I never specified they have to be two consecutive weeks!

45 - Continued - We technically had some of the neighbors over, but it wasn't what we intended or what I wanted, so it's staying on the list until we can do it again!

80 - COMPLETED - We went to see Kung Fu Panda II yesterday because I had the day off (I was on-call overnight) and Tuesday is discount day at our movie theater. It was very cute and I enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to Cars II in a few weeks! Plus, they have $3 kids movies on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings early and there are a couple they are playing that I still haven't seen, so I may try to check those out, too.

That's pretty much all that has happened this week. Still, one more thing crossed off the list so that's good!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Meal Plan #2

For the most part, we were able to stick to the meal plan all week. Some stuff happened out of order and we went out twice, but for the most part we kept to it. It's nice to have a plan!

Monday (6th) - Leftovers. I'm working late and we have lots.
Tuesday (7th) - I'm on call, so we're kind of fending for ourselves. I'm thinking a leftover burger for me!
Wednesday (8th) - Taco Pancakes (a recipe from the newspaper. Stay tuned for results!)
Thursday (9th) - Barbeque Sandwiches
Friday (10th) - Homemade Pizza
Saturday (11th) - Spicy Chicken Pasta (it didn't happen last week and I really want to try this!)
Sunday (12th) - leftovers. There probably won't be many, but I'll work with what we have!

What are you having this week?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sew Much Fun!

I bought a sewing machine my senior year in high school wanting to learn how to use it. I started making pillows and even went so far as to make some pajama pants for myself, and later for a friend in college. Unfortunately, a dorm is not generally a good place to set up craft space, especially with something like a sewing machine so my machine ended up in storage. It stayed there until last year when we cleaned everything out. I finally got all my stuff together and said I was going to pull it out and dust it off, but it just hadn't happened until recently.

During CPE, I was introduced to something called "feely hearts" that were basically small stuffed hearts given to help someone going through a hard time. We were each given a feely heart by our spiritual director and it was very sweet and meaningful. As our time with her came to an end, our group said we wanted to do something special for her, and after talking we came up with the idea of making her a pillow with a pocket on it in which we could all place some sort of note or picture. Seeing as how I am the resident craft person, the task of making it came to me. I can't say I mind, and it was my idea.

In spite of how long it had been since I made something with my machine, it really wasn't that difficult. If you've never made a pillow, I think it's the easiest first project you can make with a sewing machine because it's three and a half straight lines (you finish the fourth seam by hand after you flip it inside out and stuff it!) The hardest part of this was sewing the pocket onto the pillow because I did that by hand, but I did that on purpose because I liked the way it looked!

I'm really excited about getting back into sewing and learning to make some new stuff. One thing I really want to get is a ruffler foot to try making rosettes for various things. I also saw a simple scarf at a recent craft fair that I think I could make pretty easily so I'm excited about trying that. (so if it goes well, guess what folks may be getting for Christmas this year?!?)

On a slightly unrelated note, I think I want to try making some of the cute flower hair clips I have seen (both from silk flower petals and from fabric). A friend suggested using the cricut to cut flowers out, so I may have to give that a shot! If you have any requests, let me know!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jeff's Smoked Chicken

There are not words for how excited I am to finally be able to post this! I have been anticipating this for, no kidding, six months! I've been waiting until we could have the neighbors over and JEff could make this for us. Well, we are having the neighbors over but in the interest of picky kids we're just doing burgers and dogs. However, we couldn't let the lovely weather go to waste, so Jeff did the chicken for the two of us on Memorial Day. It's actually very simple and exceedingly tasty!

I apologize for the giant photo, but couldn't figure out an easy way to shrink it, and was too lazy to try anything that wasn't easy!

Now, back to the good stuff! Make sure your chicken is completely defrosted. If they've been shoved in the freezer for a while, this may take a day or two in the fridge. Rinse your chicken well and pat it dry.

It's better if you brine your chicken, but if you don't it'll still be ok, it just won't be as juicy.

Fire up your grill with any sort of wood you'd like over the coals. Only have a gas grill? No problem, just get a smoker box! I've even seen smoking chips in a little tin that you can throw out when you're done. The grill needs to get to (and maintain) a temp of about 300 degrees

Now, just put your bird on the grill and let it cook for about 30 minutes per pound. The key here is low and slow.

Check on it periodically to make sure it doesn't catch fire and that the grill is maintaining the right temperature but doesn't go out. You may want to turn the bird about halfway through just to make sure the skin gets evenly crispy if you like that sort of thing! (I know I do!) If you're looking closely at that photo, the "stuff" you see on the skin is a bit of rosemary and thyme that Jeff added. It was a nice touch. The skin got extra brown because of just a tiny bit of oil

Once it's done, let it rest for at least five minutes. We like it just pulled off and served with your favorite sauce. My personal recommendation is white sauce. I had planned to make potato salad but ended up just having mac and cheese and Jeff also wanted a salad. Great, easy hang-out food!