Monday, January 19, 2009

Yet another food rec

Obviously I'm obsessed with food. Actually, I'm trying to lose some weight (here we go again!) so I'm trying new things in order to change my old bad habits.

My most recent find is Quaker's Simple Harvest Oatmeal in vanilla, honey & almond. A mixture of whole oats, whole wheat and barley blended with vanilla, honey and sliced almonds. Wonderful. Absolutely delicious - and there's nothing artificial about it. No HFCS, no Red #42, none of that. It tastes wonderful, is filling, and is actually good for you! I can't wait to try the maple, brown sugar and pecan variety!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Meal plan - 1/18-24

Sunday - Peanut Noodles and Shrimp
Monday - Sloppy Toms, coleslaw, green beans
Tuesday - Chicken Mirabella (DD), couscous, roasted potatoes
Wednesday - Pizza Soup
Thursday - Sweet and Sour Chicken (DD), jasmine rice, pears
Friday - Herbed Chicken (DD), white beans, applesauce, corn?
Saturday - Lasagna, salad

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Food Rec - Trader Joe's products

I recently picked up two new-to-me products at Trader Joe's and I've fallen in love. The first are Pretzel Slims in the "everything" flavor. And everything really does mean everything - onion, garlic, caraway seed, sesame seeds, and many, many more. So incredibly good, yet 1 oz is only 110 calories. It's like eating chips only much, much better.

My second product rec is Rice Chips in the "sea salt and pepper" flavor. In the words of Rachel Ray, Yumm-o. If you want a low cal tortilla alternative, here you go. These are a. maze. ing. Seriously, I'm not sure I've ever had a better light, crunchy, flavorful snack. Only 120 calories per ounce - and an ounce gets you about 38 chips! So, so good.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Recipes are online!

I am attempting to make 52 new recipes this year - one a week. Since I have a tendency to lose recipes, I created a recipe blog here. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Is dog hair good for anything?

I have got to find and ingenius use for dog hair. I pick up so much dog hair every night it's unbelievable. Sometimes we have to sweep 2 or even 3 times a day! And even then, we can't get it all. There has to be something dog hair is good for. If I could sell it, I'd be a very rich woman.

Would a dog hair sweater be too much?

(Yes, these people really did make sweaters from the hair of their dogs. I shudder to think of it.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book #1 - Merle's Door

In my effort to read 52 books this year, I began Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog after Christmas. Mom and Dad picked it up for me; Mom said the excerpts she read reminded her of Jacko-pea. Boy was she rightIt is difficult for me to put into words how amazing this book was. Ted Kerasote is an incredible writer and really captured the relationship between a dog and a human like no one else ever has. As I read the book, I nodded my head in agreement, laughed at Merle's antics, learned interesting tidbits about the history and sociology of dogs, and wept at Merle's passing.

Kerasote has an uncanny ability to weave textbook knowledge into the story of Merle's and his life together, making it an interesting and informative read. I learned so much about my dog, coming to understand why he might act in certain ways, while at the same time enjoying the story of a man and his companion. I definitely would recommend this book to anyone - but beware, you'll need tissues for the last 50 pages or so.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My dog is an old man

Not everyone will approve of this, but we've begun to let Jacko sleep in our room. He is an extremely hyper dog, and we've found that allowing him to sleep in our room actually calms him down. I'm now wondering if some of his "energy" is really separation anxiety. With his background, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

Anyway, he has a bed in our room, one of those foam mattress things with a cover that you can get for dogs. It's on my side of the bed, and that's where he sleeps. As he's gotten used to sleeping in our room, he's started to become very independent in when he goes to bed. All of a sudden, he's deciding to go to bed around 11, and doesn't get up until 9:30 or 10!

The other night I was on the computer and Ricky was watching tv. I hadn't heard the dog in a while so I went looking for him. There he was, curled up on his bed, fast asleep. Another time I found him in there chewing on his bone.

In the morning when I get up, he usually opens his eyes, stares at me as if to say "what, already??" then shuts his eyes and goes back to sleep until I leave, at which point he decides to go outside for a while. It's amazing how much our dog has been transformed by this simple little change in his sleeping situation. Don't get me wrong, he's still full of energy, but he is calmer than ever before.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Product Rec: Great Point Light

Yet another Christmas gift from my parents. After hearing me complain about needing a book light - and hearing Ricky complain about me keeping him because I have the overhead light on when reading in bed - they were kind enough to find this great book light for me. I've had other book lights over the years, but they always clip to the pages and I hated that. I love this one because it slips over the spine, as shown in the picture, and makes reading easy. Plus, the flexible neck makes it easy to adjust the light so it shines right where you want it. Using only one AAA battery keeps it small and compact, and the LED lights are plenty bright enough for my reading needs while allowing Ricky to be able to sleep through my midnight reading rendezvous. The light gets mixed reviews on Amazon, but I give it two thumbs up!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

All hail the Whirley-Pop

Mom and Dad got me this fantastic, yet incredibly simple, popcorn maker for Christmas. It is amazing! The Whirley-Pop is a stovetop popcorn maker. You put some oil in and then your popcorn kernels, set it on your hot stove burner, and twirl the whirleygig attached to the handle. Through the magic of gears, twirling the whirleygig moves little arms inside the popper to keep the kernels moving. In about 4 minutes, every kernel has popped and you have fantastic, hot, delicious popcorn. If you are looking for an old fashioned popper, this is it!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Paint chips abound!

Mom and I went to the paint store today with one of the pillows from the couch and started looking at paint chips. I came home with about one million little pieces of color. Ok, maybe not a million, but I'm pretty sure I have somewhere around 15 or 20. In my defense, they are for both the kitchen AND the living room, and I plan on having two colors in each room.

At this point I am 99% sure that the kitchen is going to be one of 3 different shades of green. The question is, which green?! One wall in the kitchen will likely be chocolate brown, to tie in the brown cabinets we have.

The living room, on the other hand, is giving me fits. Green or blue? Grey? Maybe something else completely? Of the chips I brought home I think I've got it down to 3 colors. Sadly, the chips just aren't big enough for me to make a decision, so it looks like another trip to the store will be in order. Then I can pick up some samples and look at larger swatches of color in various parts of the room.

It is nice to be on the way to making a decision, not so nice to be in that indecisive state!

Friday, January 9, 2009


I cannot tell you how happy I am to have made it to Friday. Although, and I know other teachers will agree with me, after nearly 3 weeks off it takes until Wednesday or Thursday to get back into the swing of things...just in time for the weekend! So while on Tuesday I was ready for the weekend to be here NOW!, today was a really good day of writing monologues and listening to the silly and creative things my kids came up with. Because, really, who besides an 8th grade boy would think to write a monologue in which he plays a tree who lost its leaves?

But it is Friday and I have the weekend ahead of me. My plans for Saturday include a trip to the paint store and putting away the Christmas decor, as well as some light cleaning around the house and lots and lots of vegging. Sunday I'm attending my very first ever Weight Watcher's meeting (scary!) and then I'm headed to school to move all my junk from the stage into my new office! WAHOO!! While I am less than thrilled to be spending part of my Sunday at school, I am completely stoked about having my stuff safe.

So there you have it. Ricky and I are both fairly tired tonight so we may curl up on the couch and watch a movie or something. Tis a good night for being in a vegetative state, methinks.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A good day

It's always nice when the crappy days are followed up by good ones.

Today I got a new office/storage room! It means that I finally get to lock my stuff up, so maybe the outside groups using the theatre won't steal my food/stapler/hole punch. True story. It also means we can move the costumes and props from our current storage space, which is totally unsafe, down to a spot about 15 feet from the theatre. The new space is also not in the band room, so we won't be interrupting the band when we need to go to our storage space, and I'll also be able to supervise the students getting things from the storage space and the students in the theatre at the same time. It's a fantastic situation and I am SO excited about this.

I also was able to pick up my new glasses today. They are taking some getting used to, since I've had the full, thickish rimmed type for several years, and while my new glasses have thick, red ear pieces, they are only half frames so they look very different. I like them though. It was time for a change.

To finish off the evening, I spent an hour at Dream Dinners. It's so nice to go in, assemble the ingredients someone else has already chopped, dirty dishes and counter space that I don't have to clean, and then go home with several meals to put in the freezer. Tonight I came home with 10 meals total. Now I'm relaxing with my freezer list, working on a meal plan for the month. All of that and it's only 7:30 pm!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just when you think you've got it all under control...

It's been one of those days. First I got a phone call from Ricky that layoffs are happening. They only laid off two people, and they were bottom of the totem pole people. He shouldn't be in any jeopardy for a while, but nobody knows how many more cuts they'll have to make, if any. Obviously, that's a little scary.

We've also been searching for a chair for the living room. I found one I loved (this will be "my" chair) but it's the only one left because it's been discontinued and it has a scratch in it. The company is not willing to come down on their price anymore than they already have, and we're not willing to pay their price for a damaged piece of furniture, so we're at an impasse. Since we couldn't come to an agreement, we walked. Now, I'm all for looking around and being patient, but the problem is I've already found the chair I want. Finding it a second time at a price we're comfortable with could be difficult!

And to top it all off, the garbage disposal quit working tonight when I was making dinner. Awesome!

The good news is Ricky has Thursday and Friday off, so he can take a look at the disposal and maybe fix it. And, if I really want to do the glass half full thing, at least a garbage disposal isn't a necessity. A wonderful luxury, and something I've only had to do without for a year in college, but not a necessity none the less.

Here's to a good night's sleep and a better tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

16 Things About Me

Alex tagged me in a meme on facebook, so I'm going to answer here as well as there. I'm just supposed to share 16 "random things, facts, habits, or goals about you."

1 - I am 28 years old as of Sunday.

2 - I still sleep with my baby blanket.

3 - I have never had to wear a true cast. The only things that have come close were my bootie after toe surgery and my brace after knee surgery.

4 - I did not go to my Junior prom.

5 - I do not like oranges.

6 - My senior year of high school I spent most of my time in band doing homework. My band teacher didn't care; he just told me to use his desk so it wasn't so obvious to everyone else that I was slacking.

7 - I prefer Diet Pepsi over Diet Coke, but Coke over Pepsi.

8 - Every time I ride a plane I'm sure we're going to crash and I'm going to die.

9 - I abhor being called "Laurie."

10 - I have not read any of the Harry Potter books.

11 - I have a major girl crush on Judi Dench. I don't care how bad a movie is supposed to be; if she's in it, I will watch it.

12 - I'm pretty sure I love my dog more than most people love their children.

13 - I would happily be a professional student if we could afford it.

14 - I should have majored in napping. Mmmm, naps. They do a body good!

15 - A while back I saw a picture of me before I started coloring my hair. I had no idea my hair was that dark! It's been so long that I honestly had completely forgotten what color it used to be. While I was looking at the picture Ricky walked by and said, "who's that?" My own husband didn't recognize me with my hair in its natural state.

16 - I love all things retro. I'm pretty sure I was born in the wrong decade.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Soliciting book recs

If I'm going to read 52 books this year, I need some recommendations!

I'm in the middle of a book right now, and I've got two more lined up, but that's not going to get me far. Any suggestions? I enjoy historical fiction, autobiographies (especially of sports figures), plays...well, pretty much anything, to be honest! I especially liked the Dan Brown books and devoured the Twilight series.

So if you've got some ideas, toss them my way! I need to start building my list - and my reservation queue at the library!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Whatever happened to survival of the fittest?

I don't even want to get into the evolution debate, because the stance Ricky and I choose to take is very different from what most Christians choose. In fact, I will never forget when we had the great Evolution vs Creationism debate in Mr Vassen's junior year Biology class and Matt Gruhler and I stood in the middle, saying we believed God used evolution to create the world. Remember that, Matty?!

But really, as my husband says, why do we have to legislate stupid out of the world? Shouldn't we be allowed to eliminate those people from the gene pool?

The latest is the government's decision that no second-hand kids' clothing or toys can be sold without "proof" that it is lead paint or pthalate free. What? Do you know how many people rely on secondhand places, garage sales, and Craigslist to clothe and entertain their children? And really, when a kid only wears something for a month before outgrowing it, it makes sense. Buy it used, use it for a month, then pass it on to someone else who can use it. And if you're stupid enough to allow your child to play with something that has been recalled due to lead paint, well...survival of the fittest, my friends.

I'm definitely not an anarchist, but really, this is going too far.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Two recipes to share today - Meatloaf and Spaghetti Squash Supreme. The meatloaf came from a relative of Ricky's (whom I've actually never met) and the the SSS is from Taste of Home magazine.


1-1.5 lbs ground meat (I use turkey, you could certainly use beef)
4 slices bread
12 oz can evaporated milk*
1 packet onion soup mix
1/2c ketchup
1/4c worcestershire sauce

Mix meat, bread and half of the milk together until the mixture forms a batter. If it seems to dry, add more milk. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well. Pat into pan, spread top with more ketchup if desired. Bake at 350F for 60-90 minutes.

*I generally just use a 5 oz can so I don't waste 6 oz of evap. milk

Spaghetti Squash Supreme

3-6 pounds spaghetti squash
4-6 pieces bacon (I use turkey bacon), torn into bite size pieces
1-4 T brown sugar
3-4 T butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Swiss cheese to taste, grated

Cut the squash in half and scoop out seeds. Heat one side at a time until fork-tender. Scoop squash into bowl; it will string into spaghetti like pieces as you remove it from the rind. Set aside.

Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan*. Add butter, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to bacon grease; stir well. Add squash and bacon to pan, stir well and heat through. Add swiss cheese; mix thoroughly and serve.

*I never remove the bacon, just scootch it to the side and then stir it back in. Turns out fine.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bah Humbug

Why am I feeling down today? Could it be because all the excitement is over? Because my break is almost over? Because Grandma's visit is almost over? It's probably a mixture of all of the above, with the realization that I got next to nothing done on this break that I wanted to do (normal Laura behavior). Not to mention, I'm hungry - that could be part of my problem! I also need to get in the shower and get ready to take off for the afternoon/evening and I just don't want to. It's too much work!

Just feeling kind of Bah Humbug-ish, if that's possible to do once the holiday season is over.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I'm not big on resolutions. I'm really really really good at making them, but I suck at sticking to them, so usually I just say screw it. And of course, I tend to do the same ones every year:

  • Exercise more
  • Lose weight
  • Keep a cleaner house

But you know what? Those are no fun. I'm actually really happy with where I am in life. Are things perfect? No. Could I stand to excercise more, lose weight, and keep a cleaner house? Of course - couldn't we all? But I'm tired of those being my resolutions. Putting those on the list feels like an obligation, rather than a goal I'd really like to reach. Instead, I've come up with a couple more fun ones:

  1. Read 52 books this year
  2. Try 52 new recipes
  3. Write 52 letters/cards and send through USPS

Yup, that means every week I'll be reading a book, trying a recipe and sending someone I love - or not - a card or letter to tell them how much they do - or don't - mean to me. Ambitious? Certainly, but also attainable, I think.