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I grew up in a household where food was plentiful and tasty.  Chicken was almost always fried, potatoes were served with gravy and I had to beg my mom to buy me rice-a-roni.  She couldn’t figure out why in the world I would want to eat that packaged junk.  When I became an adult and started cooking for myself I had a lot of food related realizations.  I’ll share some with you today.

Chicken doesn’t have to be tough as leather in order for it to be safe to eat.   My mother had a fear of salmonella or something.  I remember her putting chicken in the frying pan and leaving it there for a REALLY long time.  When we sat down to eat it, we would wear our jaws out chewing it up.  I don’t remember it tasting bad at all, it was good.  It was just so TOUGH.  You can be sure it was cooked thru, though.   The first few times I made chicken for myself I was shocked at how little time the recipes would say to cook it.  Shockingly, it was always done and even moist and tender!

Baking is not that difficult of an undertaking.  In our house, almost everything was home-made.  The exceptions were most baked goods and bread. (especially cakes, some cookies and pie crusts)  The closest to home-made bread my mom got was using the refrigerated bread dough rolls.  For some reason, my mom just did not have the patience or desire to try whipping up a yeast dough.  Honestly, I don’t even know if she ever attempted it.  In the past year I have made several yeast dough projects and they have always turned out at least decent.   As far as baked goods go, she always bought the mixes for cakes and cookies, too.  I’ve come to really not like boxed cake mixes.  I don’t like the chemically taste.  As far as cookies go, I LOVE to make home-made chocolate chip cookies and find that even the cookie logs you can buy are gross to me now.

There is such a thing as “too sweet.”  My mom’s claim to fame was her sweet tooth.  This woman would start the day with a Diet Coke and Hostess Snow Balls.  No joke.  I don’t think she put salt in anything.  She would double the amount of sugar in recipes!  I found this out by helping her make a pie one time.  That explained why her pies never set up properly.   I’m not saying that I don’t have an affinity for sweets because I will be the first to stuff a Twinkie in my face but I have learned that good flavors are all about balance.  I don’t like cheesecake unless it’s served with a side of tart cherry topping.  Sweet is good, but sweet and salty or sweet and tart is tens times better.

Not everyone is raised in a household where the food is delicious and home-made.  I vividly remember my mom saying “most people don’t know what good food is.”  I found that to be a cryptic statement.  Good food is good food, right?  I get it now.  Now, that I have been around different families, co-workers and friends. It’s all relative.   It seems that some folks are totally happy with the orange mac and cheese and cookies made from a log.  I know a lot of it is how we are raised.  If orange mac and cheese is what your mom made you when you were sick, then that will be your comfort food when you are in your twenties and thirties.  I feel so very lucky that I know the taste of home-made sausage gravy and pudding made the old-fashioned way with eggs and flour.

What food epiphanies have you had in your life?

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1.  Snow Cones –  This summer we have totally rediscovered snow cones.  They are cheap, light and refreshing.  My favorite flavor so far this summer is orange creamsicle.  Orange and vanilla heaven. Yum.

2. The sound of locusts – Nothing says summer to me like the hum of locusts on a hot afternoon.  It makes me think of laying out in the backyard and swimming in friends pools.  That sound is so calming to me.  LOVE IT

3.  Horrible, guilty pleasure shows like Big Brother and Jersey Shore – a terrible, awesome time waster.

4.  Summer rain storms – We are having one of these as I type this.  The hot air has been replaced by not so hot air and moisture.  The smell of rain is delicious.

5.  Flip Flops – I have to admit that I am guilty of wearing flip-flops nearly year round.  When the temps start to go under the sixties I do put them away but I can be spotted wearing flops well into fall.

6.  Berries, watermelon, and summer squash – I am craving some fried summer squash.  Also, fried okra! Is there anything better? I still haven’t bought a watermelon this year but really need to.  There is nothing like a cold watermelon to cool you down and quench your thirst.

7.  Sleeping with my little, tiny plastic fan on –  The sound of it kind of lulls me to sleep at night.

8.  Early summer mornings – The temps are still bearable and the sun is not as blinding.

9.  Cute summer dresses – Perfect for wearing with flip-flops and so cool!  Great for when the thought of getting into heavy denim jeans makes you break out into a sweat!

10.  Homemade ice cream – My family hasn’t quite perfected the recipe and although the texture is off, the banana variety that I have grown up eating is still as yummy to me as it was when I was a kid.

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Last night, we were on our way to a dinner obligation when we got into a little fender bender. I don’t even think fender bender is the correct term.  It was more like a fender chipper/door smasher.  I’m not going to go into details, but I feel pretty strongly that it wasn’t our fault.  Unfortunately, the other party may disagree with me.  We’ll see what happens.

The first time I was ever in a car accident it definitely was not my fault.  I was idling in a long line of cars at a stop light.  All of a sudden there was a huge impact and my car slammed into the rear of the car in front of me.  That car crashed into the car in front of it and so on and so forth.  It ended up being a five car pile up caused by a teenager who didn’t stop and hit the car behind me.  Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.  I remember making it to work later in the day and being so upset.  It was so unfair! I was just sitting there minding my own business and then suddenly my car was damaged beyond repair. I was out time at work, my car was gone and I was totally innocent.

A few hours later I was thinking about the accident and something occurred to me.  What about all of the people whose loved ones are taken away from them in senseless, unfair crashes.  How must they feel?  Immediately, I had perspective.  Losing a car was nothing.  Yes, it was a hassle and a nuisance but I could deal with that.  A car could easily be replaced.

That first crash was about seven years ago.  Since then I have had some major life changes, and I try to always remind myself that life isn’t fair and doesn’t always go the way we think it should but sometimes I forget and have to be reminded.

Last night, the accident was all I could think about.  I felt wronged, damaged and unjustly punished.  We JUST bought the car a few months ago.  How could that happen? I blamed it on about twenty different people.   I went to sleep still feeling angry.

This morning the first thing I saw when I turned on the news was the story about the man who lost his life going for a baseball at a game.   How must his family feel? My heart broke for them and is still breaking for them.

I then thought about another friend of mine whose father is going thru and very serious cancer battle right at this moment.

The truth is, I should know better than to be upset about a stupid car.

Just three years ago, it was my family who was watching as my late mother battled the disease.  Talk about perspective.  I can remember at the time being so mad at co-workers and friends who would complain about things that seemed so pointless to me.  Work problems, money problems,minor  health issues and of course, PETTY LITTLE CAR CRASHES.

It’s amazing how soon after having seen actual tragedy and loss, we become immune and callous to others who are going thru the same thing.  I know it’s happened to me.

My prayer is that I will always have perspective and that I will never forget what it feels like to have your heart truly broken by actual loss.  I don’t ever want to be unaffected by someone else’s suffering and I never want to be so self-absorbed that I think that losing something without eternal value matters.

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I told you that my birthday is coming up soon so sunday afternoon my husband and I went and picked up my early birthday present – a Barnes and Noble Nook Color.  I’ve only had it for two days now and so far I love it.  At first, the only problem I found was that I couldn’t decide what to download and read first.  Actually the first thing I downloaded was a magazine.  Barnes and Noble let you try out magazines and newspapers for free for fourteen days.  You have to go online and cancel them or you will get charged.  I tried out a cooking magazine.  It’s pretty cool, it’s just like reading a paper magazine, ads and all.

The next thing I bought was a mystery novel, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.  The price was right (under five bucks) and after reading the sample I went for it.  I’m not finished reading it yet, but so far so good.  Yesterday afternoon I decided to figure out how to borrow ebooks from my local library and put them on my Nook.  I went to the library website and read through the instructions.  I downloaded free Adobe software and had it on my computer within minutes. Then, I looked through the downloadable library.  Most of the hot titles had a waiting list so I put titles on hold that I want to read and then found a couple of titles that were available right away.  I downloaded them and had them on my Nook within a minute or two.  The only thing that confused me at first was that the books didn’t show up on my library. I looked online and saw that they would be in my documents folder on my Nook.  I looked and that was where I found them.

Another cool thing about the Nook is the Read to Me feature.   I showed my little girl the book The Elephant’s Child on the Nook and she loved it.  I’m trying not to let her look at it too much because I don’t want her to think it’s hers, plus I like reading to her myself. I think it’s going to be really good for special treats and for distractions when we need it.

Last night, I read about half of the The Accidental Billionaires for free from the library.  I have 14 days to finish it before it gets returned to the library.  All of this from the comfort of my couch.   I’m sure there is more to the Nook that I haven’t even seen, but so far I think it’s been one of the best gifts I’ve received.  Thank you, sweet husband!

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We just got back from our Austin getaway.  We had a blast, but boy, are we tired.   We did a lot of driving and walking which combined with the Texas heat, really drained us.  Also,  I’m pretty sure I gained at least ten pounds in about 4 days!  We ate and ate. And then ate some more.

We started the trip with a short drive to Dallas and spent an afternoon and evening shopping and eating.  First, we went to Northpark Mall to stretch our legs and do some window shopping.  I love that mall but most of the stores are a bit too fancy for my tastes.  Our little girl had fun at the Disney store.  She had never been in  one before and when we left, she had a total meltdown.  A Wetzel’s pretzel cheered her up again.  That was my first taste of their pretzels and they are really good.  I think I like them better than Auntie Anne’s.

For dinner that night we chose Chip’s Old Fashioned Hamburger.  It was awesome.  The burgers were juicy and very flavorful.  It was my favorite of the two burgers I had on the trip.   The place was pretty tiny and we got there just in time.  As we were finishing up, the place filled up and they started playing the Mav’s/Heat game on TV.  We got out of their fast as I am still mad at the Mav’s for beating my team.

The next day we headed down I-35 towards Austin.  Back in the early spring by husband had driven to Houston for work and stopped at Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana for lunch.  He was so carried away with it that he bought a bunch of bread and cookies back home to me.  Their cherry ice box cookies are his favorite. He LOVES them. Personally, I would rather have a chocolate chip cookie.  Anyway, when we saw a billboard advertising a Collin Street Bakery in Waco we knew we had to stop there for lunch.

I was really impressed with the place.  It was sparkling clean and the employees were super friendly.  They serve sandwiches, soups and salads and also sell pies, cakes, coffee and nuts.  We got sandwiches for lunch and while we ate them we took turns going to the counter to look at the baked goods so we could figure out what we wanted.

My husband wanted some cherry cookies and I ordered a white cupcake.  I wasn’t sure if it would be good but it was delicious.  The cake was super moist and tender and the icing was perfect.  Not too sweet and it didn’t have that shortening taste at all.  I saw people carrying them out by the dozen.  I wish I had one right now!

After our lunch it was only a few hours to Austin.  When we got there, we decided to drive all the way downtown and then work our way up towards where our hotel was located.  My husband loved the eclectic look of sixth street and Guadalupe.  He had no idea what to expect so I was pleased that he was digging Austin.  We checked into our hotel and then decided to head back down to Mount Bonnel for a good view of the city.

We parked our car and hiked up the stairs to the lookout.  The view from Mount Bonnel is very neat.  You can see lots of super nice houses and a pretty good view of downtown.  The only bad part was the heat! It was scorching hot and I had forgotten to put sunscreen on my little girl so we didn’t stay long at all.  We took a few photos and then headed down the mountain in search of a nice cold drink.  I can’t wait to tell you about the rest of our trip.  We packed a lot of fun into just a few days.

 

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1. In school, I studied french for two years. Hence, the title of this post.

2. Right now, I’m craving Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies so bad I can barely stand it.

3. I’m obsessed with Jersey Shore.  Sick and pathetic, I know.

4.Today I went to the zoo with my toddler and my husband.  It was super fun.

5. I could eat hot dogs everyday for the rest of my life.  They’re that good.

6. My husband and I have known each other since the fourth grade.

7. I have nightmares about gorillas and lions.  I’m kind of worried about tonight. (see number 4)

8. My favorite coffee drink is a skinny vanilla latte.

9. I’m a little OCD.  Actually, this blog was born out of a need for distraction from some of my obsessions.

10. I’ve eaten almost an entire jar of almond butter since Friday.

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My birthday is coming up in a few weeks and that means my husband will soon be asking me about gift ideas.  I’m not even sure why he bothers to ask because he doesn’t go out and get my gift on his own.  I’m not exactly sure what goes one between other couples when it comes to birthday gifts but I think that we are unconventional.  Usually, I just tell him what I want and then we end up going to the mall and buying it together.  Sometimes I will just go ahead and buy myself something and then tell people it was a birthday gift from him.   I think the main reason is that we are both really picky people.  Also, we might be a little lazy.

On Mother’s day, we were at the mall and I spotted a pair of Steve Madden sunglasses that I liked.  I bought them and then told him that it could be his gift to me.  He was totally fine with that.  Father’s day is coming up and I guarantee you that we will do something similar for his gift from us.  Would this make other people mad?  Is it hurtful to have a spouse that doesn’t put much thought into birthdays or gift giving?

I know that it does feel special to have a surprise gift because we have both unexpectedly given great gifts to each other in the past and we both loved it.  It makes me think we should really think about doing that some more.  One year, he gave me an iPod right after they came out. I was shocked because it was one of the good ones, with video and everything.  I had mentioned that I wanted one but totally didn’t expect it.  For his birthday last year, I got him a nice North Face jacket.  He was so happy because he like them but thought they were too expensive.

Now I feel really bad about this.  Maybe we need to care more.  Maybe we need to be more into accepting any gift rather than getting what we want.  Oh well. Until then, I know what I want for my upcoming birthday  – a Nook.

Reading has always been something that I loved to do. In fact, when I was an adolescent, my parents used to ground me from books! Crazy, Huh?   That just doesn’t seem right.  Honestly, it was the only thing that would work as a punishment for me.  Reading was basically all I did! I was a nerd, okay?

In grade school I was super into The Babysitter’s Club.  In high school, I started reading a lot of the classics.  In college, I read a lot of biographies and history books.   Now that I am an adult, I read a lot of  crime, mystery, memoirs, and non-fiction.  Anything good and interesting, I will read.

I only have a few concerns about this ereader.  One is that I am kind of a tight wad and buying books has always bugged me.  I’ve always been a library gal.  The problem is that my toddler is way too active to take to the library.  When I do take her, I am only there for her.   Borrowing ebooks is an option at libraries now so I’m hopeful that will offset the cost of buying books.  My other concern is just wondering if I will like it, although everyone I know has told me that I will love it and use it.

Stay tuned to see if the husband is listening to my requests.  If I have anything to do with it, he will be.

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