Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday--Hoosier style

Today is the big day for all you shoppers. I typically don't venture out today because of the crowds...I'm not big on crowds of people shoving their way in front of the lines. But I had to share a couple of ads that were in the paper today.

First, the recliner. Um, camo recliner? Seriously? Where are you going to use it? Instead of a tree stand for hunting deer, just use this recliner. Kick back, put your feet up, and wait for the deer in comfort. They'll never see you, because...hey, your recliner is camo and blends in.

Then there's this lovely picture. Look at all the beautiful Christmas decorations. How wonderful would it be to relax in front of this beautifully decorated setting? But, wait....what's in the fireplace? Is that a guarantee to never have to replenish the fire? Or is it just a way to have one fire for the whole winter?

Gotta love redneck ads.......

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I can cook, I promise!

I know...I know. You're still munching on turkey and dressing. But, I was reminded recently of this exchange I had with my mom.

One year for Thanksgiving, I was discussing the menu with my mom. As she covered every conceivable dish for the day, I finally asked her what I could bring. I was excited to contribute to our feast as I had a new home with a great kitchen in which I could concoct a fantastic dish.

Mom thought for a while and kept pointing out that all the sides were covered. I insisted and finally said, "Mom! I want to bring something besides drinks! What can I bring?" She finally relented and said that I could bring cole slaw. I said, "Great! I can make cole slaw." She then informed me, "Ummm, honey? Your dad and I love Long John Silver's cole slaw. Couldn't you just go there and buy some?"

Did you know that you can't buy LJS cole slaw in any size besides the individual size? Yeah, I found out as I bought 10 of them for our Thanksgiving dinner. The lady behind the counter couldn't stop laughing as I told her the reason behind my request. She kept giggling at my pitiful story of how my mom didn't want me to make anything for dinner.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


That's Bulgarian for thanksgiving. Just a quick list of things for which I'm grateful:

  • A septic system that flushes toilet paper. And that I don't have to use any more Joseph Smith First Vision pamphlets to do my business (it seemed so wrong to use that, but what was a missionary to do when there was no toilet paper anywhere in the country?)

  • Music and the ability to carry a decent tune.

  • Friends who make me laugh and cry with me (sometimes they make me cry from laughter).

  • Modern day conveniences for a fertile woman.

  • Family who drives me batty but loves me unconditionally.

  • Mountain Dew for stressful days.

  • A wood burning fireplace with plenty of wood.

  • A supportive and uplifting bra. (you thought I was going to say friend, weren't you?)

  • The extended version of Lord of the Rings with the cast commentary (if you haven't watched it, you are missing on some mighty humorous commentary).

  • Men with their manly quirks (of course, this is coming from a single woman....).

  • College basketball.

  • Nice smelling candles...lots of them.

  • Sleeping alone which means I can make noises and smells without embarrassment (except when I blog about it)--see previous entry.

  • Healthy and pretty teeth.

  • Being a Daughter of God.

  • The means and ability to travel and experience the grandeur of God's creations.

  • The fact that Dove and Ghiradelli dark chocolate are not against the Word of Wisdom (since I'm a chocolate snob, not just any chocolate gets my motor running).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A little bit country

I love country music. I always tell people that I was raised on country sunshine (for anyone who knows country, that's a reference to a country song from long ago).

I love country music. So many people make fun of country or complain about it. But, come on! What other type of music can have such fantastic songs about fried chicken, a huge International Harvester tractor, an old Chevy Nova, long-haired country boys, or even red high heels.

I love country music. Some of the newcomers are more pop than country, but I still love the essence of country music. They sing about real life, an ideal life (for the most part), or a comfortable life. Some of the best songs are about mothers, dogs, and deep abiding love.

I love country music. In all other genres of music, the artists are known and expected to be arrogant, cocky, egotistical and flamboyant. Country music stars are patriotic, God-fearing, respectful, and grateful. Usually any flamboyance is done with humor--remember the sparkles of Porter Wagner or Dolly Parton's...ahem...assets? These are examples of flamboyant personalities that have become the topic of many jokes.

I love country music. Those songs tug at my heart or memories. Hearing Jim Reeves will always remind me of my grandma. Hearing "I'll Go To My Grave Loving You" from the Statler Brothers will always remind me of my mom. Listening to "Sneaky Snakes" by Tom T. Hall will always put a smile on my face as I think of my childhood. Tricia Yearwood's "Thinking About You" will always remind me of my first love. Her song, "On a Bus to St. Cloud" will always remind me of my first heartbreak. "Can I Have This Dance" will remind me of a love that I continue to seek. "Country Boy Can Survive" from Hank Jr. makes me yearn to be so independent and capable. And of course Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" brings tears to my eyes as I reflect on America and her heroes.

I love country music. Of course there are some songs that are less than appropriate. Generally, those songs don't stay popular for long. The songs that do stay popular that are about the stereotypical topic of cheating often are filled with real feelings regarding the subject. Regardless, just like any other genre of music, there are immoral songs, but that doesn't negate the pure sound and goodness that country embodies.

I love country music. I love a variety of genres of music. But as a recent country hit says, it's like a pair of jeans that fit just right, or the touch of a precious child, or feeling the love of a mother. It's home and everything that it represents.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A funny

I saw this slogan on the back of a septic tank truck:

"We're #1 in the #2 business!"

Why am I single?

I think I've figured out why I'm single. I only attract gay men. Seriously.

When I was in high school, I formed a huge crush on Greg Louganis, the Olympic diver. I became a huge fan from the 1984 Olympics and whenever diving was on TV, I made sure I had a front row seat and a rag to wipe the drool from my face.

When he came to Indy for a dive meet, I was able to see him and meet him afterwards. While he was signing my program, I asked him to my prom. He was very polite and asked me when it was. Unfortunately, he had another meet that weekend and would not be able to attend. About a year or so later, I was reading an interview of him in a magazine. He was asked how he handles all the adoration. He mentioned that he has been asked on dates from young women and their mothers, asked to attend a prom (THAT'S ME!!!), and other invitations.

By the time he announced that he was gay, I had moved on in my celebrity crush cycle.

The first year that I watched American Idol, the two finalists were Reuben Studdard and Clay Aiken. I was a Clay fan from his first audition. He has such a fantastic voice in such an unlikely face. He seems to be a genuinely nice man and I enjoyed his progression throughout that season. I bought a couple of his CDs and have enjoyed them.

By the time he announced that he was gay, I had moved on to another favorite singer.

I recently traveled to Minneapolis and while there visited the Mall of America, the largest mall in the US. That place is huge and since I am so terribly directionally challenged, I got lost while in the mall. As I was contemplating the directory and how to interpret that map, a salesman approached me. He shook my hand and complimented me on the softness of my hand as well as my style of clothing. He said he knew I wasn't from Minnesota as all women from Minnesota have rough skin and wear flannel. I thanked him kindly for the compliments and then he leaned closer. He softly warned me to not hug or kiss him because he was gay.

By the time he announced that he was gay, I had moved on in my search for an escape door.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Walking down memory lane

Recently, my high school celebrated its 80th anniversary. They had a big to-do at the school and a couple of my girlfriends and I attended.

They had done some renovations and it was interesting to see the changes. Isn't it funny how some senses are so prominent? A couple of the places had the exact same smell and once it hit my nose, I was transported back to being a gangly 17 year old. A few places looked almost exactly as it did before and as I gazed upon the sight, I could see it as it looked over 20 years ago filled with students and chaos. As we walked through the gym and my shoes clicked on the floor, I could hear the squeak of shoes and the thud of basketballs as I envisioned how it was when I attended sporting events.

I saw one of my teachers there and was surprised to see how little he had changed. Certainly, he was older and had a few more wrinkles, but overall he didn't look much different. I, obviously, had changed as he did not recognize me. He finally remembered me as I reminded him I had attended BYU (funny how being a Mormon makes me peculiar!).

The reunion committee (there is a reunion committee for the entire school and is responsible for the major school reunions, not class reunions) had prepared tables to represent the classes from each year. As I looked at the pictures and memorabilia from my class, I saw a couple of pictures of me and my name mentioned in some of the programs.

As I contemplated my years at high school, I was struck by a thought. I no longer felt such an overwhelming loyalty to my high school as I do to BYU. I no longer consider myself a purple and white girl, but I bleed blue and white. My girlfriends appeared to have a different viewpoint. They were interested in every detail of the school and reminiscent about so many things. I kept comparing my feelings to the feelings I had upon visiting BYU last year for the first time in over10 years. My thoughts and feelings were more pronounced and passionate. I was interested by the changes and memories of my high school, but I was fascinated and invested in the changes and memories of BYU.

We sang our school fight song and I was surprised at how much I remembered of the words. But singing, "We're loyal to you Washington," seemed disloyal to me as I kept getting the BYU fight song words confused with this song.

I'm glad I went. I would go again. But I am thrilled to be going to BYU to attend Education Week again in 2009. That feels like coming home to me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't you like me?

Have you ever made an instant connection with someone before? I have on a few occasions. I remember one in particular. We just hit if off almost from the moment we met. From that moment on, we communicated several times a day. I enjoyed her company tremendously. She is a funny, spiritual, intelligent, and fantastic woman.

After developing a friendship for so long, one day it seemed to disappear. It happened so subtly that I'm still not sure how it happened. Did I say something? Did I do something? Was I no longer interesting? Did she find a new connection? It just seemed as if our communications that were so frequent and done on a daily basis slowly dissipated. Suddenly, she couldn't talk or spend time with me. Other things had become a priority.

And I understood. I know that relationships do change and that I will not take center stage in anyone's life. But certainly, I deserve at least some time, right?

Unfortunately, I internalized everything and thought that I must have done or said something to cause this and so, not wanting to confront anything unpleasant, didn't communicate my feelings or thoughts with this friend. As a result, we drifted apart until even polite conversations seemed strained and stilted.

On occasion I communicate with this friend. Each time I miss the camaraderie we had before. As I contemplate our past escapades together, a small smile appears (you know, the kind that comes from reminiscing about an intimate friend). And wish I had tried harder to preserve at least a semblance of that friendship.

Sometimes I wish for the school days when I could have another friend pass her a note which says, "If you like beefche, check this box." And then I'd know. Instead, I think about her and our conversations and continually wonder what I coulda, shoulda, woulda done to change things.

Friday, November 7, 2008

For the college students

For those who know college aged kids or just like to eat like one (that would be me!), then these 2 recipes are for you.

The college student staples include mac and cheese and Ramen noodles. Here's a couple of recipes to make these 2 things go further.

Mac and cheese

Make the mac and cheese according to the box. For the last 2 min of boiling the noodles, add any frozen veggies (I like peas, corn, or mixed vegetables). Drain, and make according to the box. Once you mix it altogether, add one can of tuna, mix in some dry dill or savory and add extra cheese (cheddar, mexican, mozzarella, etc.). This will make a complete meal and will increase the servings.

Ramen noodles

Boil 1 1/2 cups of water with soy sauce (I just add some--about 1/2 cup or so). Add flavoring mix. While it is boiling, crack an egg into it and mix with a fork. Turn down the heat or it will boil over. Add frozen veggies (same as above) and once it starts to boil again, put in the noodles and cook about 5 min.

Need a side salad to take to work? Try Ramen salad.

Important: Only use Chicken Ramen (I've tried the others and ewww!)

One package of cole slaw mix (just the salad stuff--you can find it in the produce section--it's cabbage and carrots that have been shredded)
4 green onions
sliced almonds
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a bowl, whisk together the flavoring packet, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of vinegar (I use red wine vinegar), and 1/2 cup of olive oil. You may need to adjust the vinegar. I start with 3 tablespoons, but then taste it and usually add a little more. Set aside.

Mix the cole slaw mix, with the green onions (cut into 1/4 in pieces), and almonds. Break up the noodles from the Ramen (yes, DO NOT cook them--use raw). Mix in the salad stuff.

Pour wet ingredients over the salad and mix thoroughly.

This is great in the summer (no mayo) and always gets rave reviews at potlucks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My momma's pot roast

I had a friend who had never heard of pot roast. Huh? I had to explain that it is also called bottom roast, butt roast, several names.

You can make this in a crock pot, but I think it just tastes better in the oven. So, some day when you're going to be home for over 3 hours straight, try this.

You need:

1 beef pot roast--whatever you want to call it or is on sale
salt and pepper
brown gravy mix (optional)

Do this:

I found the easiest way to do this is to use a gallon size baggie. Put your roast in the baggie and add about a cup of flour with salt and pepper (I use about 1 large pinch of salt and I use fresh ground pepper--about 1 teaspoon). Close the baggie, then manipulate it to cover the roast. If you need, add more flour. You want the roast completely covered in flour.

Line a roasting pan with foil (for easy cleanup) and place the roast in the bottom. You can put some of the flour from the bag over the roast and around the roast (I wouldn't put more than a cup total). Put in about 1/2 cup of water. Cover the roast and bake 1 1/2 hrs at 350 degrees.

After that time, check the roast. I'll use a fork and check the meat. It shouldn't be completely done, but the fork should go in partially. I then placed quartered onion, potatoes, carrots and cabbage around the roast. Keep uncovered and add more water if necessary.

If you want to use the gravy mix, then sprinkle the dry gravy mix over the roast (you can also use it instead of the flour in the baggie) and pour 1/2-1 cup water over it. Then place the veggies around the roast.

Cook another 1-1 1/2 hrs. I will check the roast on occasion to make sure that there is sufficient water in the pan (helps make gravy and keep veggies moist) and I will even baste the veggies with the gravy in the bottom.

If you're afraid that the veggies will dry out, then cover the whole thing for the last bit, but take off the covering for the last 1/2 hr. You want the top of the roast to be roasted a little--add yummy flavor.

You'll need some good rolls to sop up the gravy. Oh, yummy in my tummy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I get some money!

Hey, I choose to be positive about our election and the president-elect.

Now, my government is going to give me, the middle class, money. I probably won't get any raises because they are going to take it away from my company, but hey, money in my pocket.

We will have world peace because president-elect Obama will sit down unconditionally with our enemies.

I'll have free health care that our government will pay for. Again, I won't have to pay for it because it'll come from the evil big corporations (who pay my salary).

I'll have more freedom to hate on America because our president-elect seems to enjoy the company of people like that.

The newspapers will print nothing but glowing, wonderful news from now on....because president-elect Obama is the messiah.

And the best news of all? None of these things will take much time at all because our Congress will be behind the president-elect every step of the way--they come from the same side of the party!


The best marinara sauce

So, I love watching the Food Network. Because I watch it so much, I've gotten a few tips and ideas for cooking. One of the best is kosher salt. For anyone who has no clue that salt does come in something other than a shaker, then read this.

All the fancy cooks use kosher salt. I, honestly, thought it had something to do with Jewish custom. I suppose I thought it had been prayed over or something. Well, I found out that there are various salts. And kosher is fabulous! I found it on the bottom shelf of my local grocery store--you know where all the spices and salt are found. It comes in a box and the grains are too large to put in a salt shaker. I have my baby bowl (the bowl my mom used to feed me as a baby) and put it in there. I just use my fingers to pinch some and put in whatever.

It's not as salty as table salt and adds flavor without it being salty. The only thing that it doesn't taste good with is popcorn--the salt is too large.

Once I began using kosher salt, I made up with marinara sauce after watching a lot of Emeril, Rachel Ray, Paula, Giada, etc.

You need:

Stewed tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes
herbs such as oregano, thyme, savory, basil, rosemary, parsley
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Do this:

Dice onion and garlic (I use 1 whole onion and about 4-5 cloves of garlic--not that jar stuff--eww) and saute about 5 minutes in extra virgin olive oil. I typically will saute the onion first until it is translucent and then add the garlic for about a minute. I tend to burn garlic and if you do burn it--then toss everything and start over. Seriously, burned garlic is just horrible.

After I add the garlic, I add either one can of stewed/diced tomatoes and 1 can of crushed tomatoes or 2 cans of crushed tomatoes. I always use crushed tomatoes because I like the texture better.

I then add the herbs. I use whatever I have that sounds like it would be good in Italian food. They have one called Italian seasoning that contains several different herbs. I use that along with my list above. How much to add is a guess. I would start with 1/2 teaspoon each and then add more as you like. I adore thyme and savory, so I tend to add more of these. I may also sometimes use paprika and cayenne. Chili powder is yummy too--add about 1 teaspoon so it's not too chili tasting. Be careful with the red pepper flakes--these are HOT! I typically use my hand to measure (yeah, I'm a Rachel Ray fan) and I use about 1-2 shakes for the red pepper flakes.

Once you add the herbs (salt and pepper to taste), then let it simmer about 10-15 min. This is great for spaghetti, lasagna, pasta. Cook penne pasta or any large pasta with browned Italian sausage and this sauce--yummy!

I will often make a meat sauce. Once I cook the onion and garlic, I add ground beef or ground turkey (if you use turkey, add one can of beef broth and cook down prior to adding tomatoes--this makes it taste meatier). After it browns, I add the rest of the ingredients.

Try making this meat sauce and making an Italian sandwich. Take Italian bread, slice it lengthwise, scoop out some of the bread, put the prepared meat sauce in the middle, add cheese (mozzarella or provolone) and then toast in the oven, 350 degrees until the cheese melts and starts to turn brown.

You can make this sauce and freeze it for later as well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Doing my civic duty

Took me 2 1/2 hours today to vote. Poorly organized, huge turnout. Someone bought donuts and passed them down the line to help with the grumbling (both the stomach grumbling and the verbal grumbling).

I always get a thrill when I vote...even when I'm making uninformed voting choices (do I really care who the coroner is?!?). I have this image of the signers of the Declaration of Independence standing, nodding and smiling as I cast my vote. Thanks for sacrificing and helping to shape a nation which allows me to vote (of course they didn't allow women to vote, but they helped form a nation that did eventually allow me to vote).

Veggie galore!

I must be hungry. Second recipe this week. Well, let's make this a week of recipes. Today's is sponsored by Weight Watchers. They have a fabulous veggie soup (0-1 points for anyone who does WW) that is simple and very tasty. If you want to add more veggies to your diet or wish to lose weight, then make this soup and eat a bowl before lunch or dinner. It's healthier than a salad--that salad dressing can be a killer.


Basically, whatever veggies you want. I suggest for the minimum you have:

green beans

6 cups of chicken or veggie broth
1 teaspoon of basil leaves
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

Start off using either cooking spray or olive oil (1 tablespoon) and saute minced garlic (I LOVE garlic so I use about 3-4 cloves) and diced onion (I use about 1/2 of an onion) in a big pot. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add diced carrots (I use about 1/2 small bag of baby carrots or 3-4 large carrots) and diced celery (about 3-4 ribs). Cook about 5 min. Now add broth and rest of veggies. I made some this week and used asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, corn, cabbage, green beans. Add the rest of ingredients. Taste and adjust your salt as necessary.

Side story: I bought tons of veggies and while ringing them up, the kid at the register didn't know half of them. "Uh, ma'am, what's this?" It's green cabbage, it's zucchini, it's squash. Finally, his manager came over (he was new and needed some help) and after hearing him ask what the various items were said, "Son, you need to eat more veggies at home."

You only need to cook the soup as long as you wish the veggies to be soft. I like my veggies with some bite to them, so I cook everything about a total of 20-30 min tops. I also add some veggies towards the last 5-10 minutes: squash, zucchini, asparagus. These will get very squishy if you add them too soon.

Healthy eating!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gotta try this

I finally splurged and bought a cast iron casserole pot thingy. I was so excited that I decided to go ahead and make one of my favorite Autumn dishes--clam chowder. I got this recipe from Rachel Ray, but I've doctored it a little. This is just a basis, so change it as you want.


4 small cans of chopped clams with the juice
3 ribs of celery, diced
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 in pieces
1 small onion or 1/2 of regular size (I can never find small onions), diced
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
salt and pepper
3 cups of chicken broth
1 pint of half and half, or 2 cups of whole milk, milk, whatever your cow brings you
potato--I am not a huge potato fan, so I only dice one Idaho potato. Dice as much as you want or you can try adding frozen hash browns.
2-3 tablespoons of butter
2-3 tablespoons of flour
dash or 2 of hot sauce

Do this:

Place bacon and butter in a big pot (my new casserole pot thingy came in handy here!). Once the butter melts and the bacon starts to cook, put in onion and celery. Let cook about 5 min or so. Add thyme and hot sauce. I add about 10 shakes or so of the hot sauce--not enough to make my nose run, but enough to smell it cooking. Add the flour. Let cook about 1 minute.

Add the broth slowly as you use your spoon to scrap up any brown stuff on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring to thoroughly mix flour and broth. Add milk. I do use half and half because the cream helps the chowder get thick and tasty. Add potato. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add the clams (be sure and add the juice too). Salt and pepper as desired. Be careful the clams will be salty...start small, taste, then add if necessary. Cook about 15 min over medium to medium low heat.

This is fabulous with sourdough bread. You can be really cool and serve it in a bread bowl. Or just eat it without bread. I don't care....I love it with bread, on my head, in a bed, wearing red.....

I've added carrots with the celery (didn't like it as well--carrots are sweet). I've tried doing it low fat--skim milk, margarine, turkey bacon. It's ok, but the real stuff is much better. This last time I added about 1/4 cup of slurry of corn starch and cold water--I like thick clam chowder and I cannot put enough flour in it to thicken it. This helped a lot.

Seriously, folks, if you like clam chowder, then you gotta try making this. I cannot stand the canned stuff after making this. It's so easy and very yummy.