Thursday, October 01, 2009

New Blog

Hey guys, I started a food blog. Go check it out for me, see what you think. I'm pretty excited about it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

A blogger friend of mine asked for a good recipe for Broccoli Cheese soup today, and I thought, why just give it to her when I can share with all of you?

Broccoli Cheese Soup

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced fine
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
Pinch nutmeg (sounds strange but it works!)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/8 dried thyme (or 1/2 tsp fresh if you can find it)
3 Tbsp flour
3 cups chicken broth
2-3 cups of fresh broccoli
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups of shredded Sharp Cheddar (original recipe called for medium, but its too mild for me)
2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces

In soup pot, melt butter over med. high heat. Add onions, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook until soft (about 3 minutes). Add garlic and thyme. Stir constantly for about 20 seconds. Slowly add chicken broth while whisking constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened for about 5 minutes. Add broccoli and cook for 10 minutes until tender.

Add cream and just bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Add one handful cheese and stir until completely melted, repeat until all cheese is added. Add remaining 2 Tbsp cold butter. Stir until it is mixed thoroughly.

This recipe was adapted from Carrie's Sweet Life.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


J left for his annual 3 week field training for the military. For some reason, his unit opts for 3 weeks, instead of the traditional 2. Yeah, it's great for the unit but it sucks a big one for the wives!

It's only been a few days but already I'm having a rough time of it. "But Haley, you guys survived a year and a half deployment! 3 weeks should be easy!!!" I've been hearing that a lot lately, as we've prepared for this. It should be easy. But it's not. Actually, it's a lot harder than I thought it would be. I went home this weekend to escape the fact that it was harder than I thought it was going to be.

Our relationship has changed so much in the past two years. When J deployed, we had only been dating 9 months. We weren't living together--I lived at school and he lived with his mom. We spent as much time as possible together, but it was usually once or twice a week, definitely not every day. We knew we would probably be together long term, but our relationship still had a lot of growing to do, and the deployment had a lot to do with that. He was gone, but my life wasn't centered around him. I missed him terribly, more than I ever thought I could, but my day to day life didn't really involve him.

Now, however, J is the most important person in my life. He's here, every single day, at the beginning, at the end, sometimes in the middle. Our marriage is still new and we're still working out the kinks, but he is an integral part of my day to day life. It's hard enough on drill weekends, where he's gone overnight. I hate drill weekends. But take him out of the picture for 3 whole weeks? I'm not really sure what to do with myself. Luckily, my family is close enough that I can go home on the weekends, so I'm not stuck in this tiny studio apartment by myself on the weekends. But nights are hard, like tonight. The apartment is quiet, even Keira has settled down for the time being. I've been trying to read but I can't stay focused. Normally, J'd be sitting next to me watching YouTube videos, driving me crazy because the volume is too loud and if I have to listen to one more screaming skateboarder I might throw the laptop out the window!

I don't know where I'm going with this. I miss my husband. That's about it. 4 days down, 18 to go :(.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We bought a House! OMG!

*Deep Breath In*

We bought a house in Yorktown today! Look at this beauty:

Photo by Coldwell Lundsford

First, let me just say, yes, this happened very, very fast. No, we didn't mean to jump into this. We thought it would take several months to find a house. But, you know me. I never do anything the way MOST people do things. I've always been the type of person who knows immediately when I find "The One." J., however, just kind of goes along with whatever. He doesn't usually get emotionally attached to things. We went to the open house Sunday and as soon as we pulled up we both went "ohhhhhhhh." The picture doesn't do it justice. The brick is BRAND NEW, as are the windows. You walk in to a very grand entrance for this price level. It's a bi-level home, so the foyer splits into two stair cases.

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms, a living room, dining room, bathroom, and kitchen. Downstairs, there is a fantastic open space that will be perfect for a media room, but also for an entertaining space. We want to put a bar cabinet in the corner for when we have people over. It will be great to finally have somewhere to hang out with friends. There is also another large bedroom downstairs, which will probably be our guest bedroom (aka B's room, when J's best friend comes to stay).

We also have a 1.5 car garage. It has plenty of room for not only MY car, but also lots of storage! Luckily for J. we have a long driveway and a street to park in :). The other huge plus the yard. Wait till you see it! We have a HUGE deck AND a big yard with a privacy fence.

Really, it's the perfect starter home. J. loves it, I definitely love it. It's move in ready for us, with a few projects to make the house our own. The hardwood floors need to be refinished and sealed. That's something we are planning to do shortly after we move in. The bathroom floor also needs replaced, as the laminate has cracked. We have an allowance upon closing to purchase the flooring of our choice for that room. My kitchen needs the most work. The cabinets, while real wood, are mauve and are outdated. To start, I'll repaint and change the handles. Probably change the color of the walls too. But, I have high hopes for that kitchen and would love to add more cabinets and maybe add a breakfast bar. That will come later though, probably in a few years. We want to add another bathroom eventually, to increase the resale value later. I'm really looking forward to these projects. I've been dying to get my hands dirty for a year now, I even helped a friend of mine paint her house because I was so restless to decorate my own home! Some of you are rolling your eyes right now but I really am looking forward to have a chance to make my own home.

Unfortunately, we still have a long road ahead. We don't close until August 31st. J's gone for most of August and I'm going to be staying in a teeny tiny little studio apartment behind my office. I have to do some marathon packing next week and get everything into a storage locker. I'm taking the bare minimum with me to the apartment, basically my mattress and my computer and some paper plates. Maybe some clothes haha.

*Deep breath out*

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Our House, in the Middle of the Street

You know, I've never understood those lyrics. Why would you want a house in the middle of the street? Could cause some traffic issues.

Any-way. Some news. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you've probably already inferred this but, after long deliberation, J. and I have decided to buy our first house! We decided earlier in the week but I finally ripped the bandaid off and told my Mom tonight. Not an easy conversation, but that's to be expected. She is just worried, that's what moms do.

Why now? A couple of reasons:

1. The big one, The $8,000 stimulus package. Why WOULDN'T we buy when we can get a huge chunk of cash back into our pockets? We can ammend 2008's taxes and use the money to make any repairs needed or buy furnishings, and of course, put most of it into savings for later use.

2. We are ready. We are sick of renting. I hate paying to live in someone else's house. I want to be able to have a yard, to plant a garden, to have a puppy, to be able to hang a shelf and put some pictures out. Yes, this also means that if my kitchen sink backs up, I have to pay the plumber to come run hydroscrub it. I have to mow that lawn (well, J. does anyway). But those are tradeoffs that we are willing to make. Responsibilities we are willing to take on. It's not going to be easy. But I think that's part of it. I'm ready for a new challenge.

3. Our jobs are as stable as they are gonna be in the next few years. Sure, there are no guarantees. Sure, I could lose my job tomorrow. I think everyone is in that boat right now. But I have to take that leap of faith sometime. I just have to know that God is gonna be there to catch me if that happens. If I didn't feel he was leading me in this direction, we wouldn't be at this point. But after so much talk and prayer, I really think He's telling us to take this next step, that it's ok to jump.

WHOOOOOHOOOO!!!! I am so excited! J. and I met with our real estate agent Wednesday and we got home and we both sat down and felt completely at peace. Well, maybe not at peace, we were both pretty pumped up about the whole thing. But we just feel really positive about it. Our agent is the type of person to be very upfront and honest, she's not going to let us shop out of our price range. She and I are going to get along very well, I think. She was very open to my questions, no matter how off the wall they were (or at least seemed to me).

I'm going to go to some open houses tomorrow. J's at drill and I could use a partner, let me know if you would like to go with me!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Tomorrow is going to be bittersweet. For the last 9 months, I've been working with an operations manager who has really taught me a lot. He and I communicate on a very similar level, so it's been great to shadow him during my last year of college. However, he is moving on and tomorrow is his last day. What this means for me is that I'm moving into dispatch, the position I've been striving for since I started at Mr. Rooter 2 years ago. I'm pumped up to start doing this full time, albeit a little nervous because its more responsiblity than I've ever been given before. I can handle it though! *Flexing my biceps*

Anyway, to celebrate Mr. C's last day, I thought I'd make a special treat, and if there is one thing he likes, it's white chocolate Reese's. Well, I can't recreate those, at least not without more than a few hours, so instead I'm making peanut butter cookies with white chocolate chips, using Reese's peanut butter. I just took the first batch out of the oven and while I'm not normally a white chocolate chip fan, the cookie base for these are fantastic.

A quick review, and then the recipe. I used Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips for this. Now, I love Ghiradelli. The grocery on my way home only carries that or Baker's, so I almost always use it for my recipes. However, this is the first time I've used the white ones. While I don't claim to be a white chocolate connoiseur, I do like it on occaision (it's just a little sweet for me), so it's just not just a complete aversion. These taste very chemically to me. They are almost not sweet at all, it's very strange. Luckily, when in the cookies it's not so evident because of the peanut butter. My favorite white chocolate is Lindt, use that if you have it available.

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

(I printed this recipe off a loooong time ago, back for I started recording where I got them. I apologize if this is yours, you can have all the credit, these are wonderful! My guess is it came from or something similar.)

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened (If you like big rounded PB cookies, you might use 1/2 shortening, these flattened out quite a bit.)
3 eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I melted it in the microwave for 30 seconds to make it easier to work with.)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine flour, soda, and salt. Mix and set aside.

Cream butter and sugars for 5 minutes. Add eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla. Mix and medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add flour mixture and mix at low speed until just mixed.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. With a wet fork, gently press cookies in a criss crossed pattern. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until slightly brown along edges.

This made about 4 dozen hand-sized cookies for me.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Cupcake Trifle and Health update

First of all, an update on all things health related. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am a long time sufferer of migraines, and they have been seriously plaguing me the past few weeks. I finally made a chiropractor appointment, and then the same day I called the chiropractor, a migraine specialist in Carmel found me on Twitter! I made an appointment with him as well. Tuesday I had my first chiropractic appointment. She checked my spine, took Xrays, and hooked me up to some electrodes for a decompression treatment. Wednesday I went back in and she showed me my Xrays. Basically, where my neck should be curved, it is almost completely straight, thus putting a lot of extra pressure on my spine, from the extra perceived weight of my head. So she took me out and did my first adjustment. OH MY GOD. It hurt sooooooo bad! We both knew it was going to, and she tried to make it as quick as possible, but I was in tears when I left the table. My bones have been locked in that position for awhile! I did another treatment and back to work I went.

Thursday was my appointment with the specialist. It was so quick and easy. I was lead into a dim meeting room, instead of a bright patient room. I had a discussion with the doctor--how my migraines appear, how long they are present, how they hurt, where they hurt, etc. He concluded that I have Occipital Myalgia, which basically means that the nerve in the back of my head is being pinched by my muscles. He put me on preventative meds and I'm going to have a nerve block done to stop the pain. We meet again in 6 weeks to see what's working and what's not. Overall I feel pretty positive about the appointment, and I really think I'm going to start feeling better soon.

Yesterday, I was invited to a coworkers family Fourth of July dinner. J. had to work until 10 and my parents were at the lake with friends, so I was going to be by myself. I decided I was going to bring my favorite chocolate cake recipe, in cupcake form. Unfortunately, the cake is an old fashioned layer cake and the batter was just too thin to translate into cupcakes. The frosting was also too thin, and couldn't cover up the flat cupcake tops. They were soooooo ugly! Just before I was getting ready to leave, a Twitter friend suggested I put it all in a bowl and put Cool Whip on it! What a fantastic idea! I had some heavy cream I needed to use up, and I'm always looking for another reason to use my trifle bowl. Look at how pretty this dessert is! (Please excuse the cell phone picture.)

By the end of the night, all of it was gone except for one scoopfull, which Jordan promptly ate when he got home from work. It was sooooooo yummy! I will be making this again, on purpose! Next time though, I'll skip the cupcake part, and just make the cake in sheet pans, then crumble it up in the trifle bowl. Here are the recipes I use:

Beatty's Chocolate Cake


  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder I use Ghiradelli, it's the best my grocery store carries.
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature I only had large, which may have been the problem, caused the cakes to fall.
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. You could also use a large sheet pan for this, since we are just going to crumble the cake up into the bowl.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (it is supposed to be really thin) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting: Just so you are warned, this frosting is to die for. You will be addicted. I cannot be held responsible.

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate Again, I use Ghiradelli, it's that or Bakers, which wouldn't work at all for this.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature Large works fine for the frosting.

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip!

Cupcake Trifle

1 batch Chocolate Cake

1 batch Chocolate frosting

16 oz Cool Whip, thawed (or even better, REAL homemade whipped cream)

In a Trifle bowl, or any big serving bowl, layer cake, frosting, whipped cream. Do this three times, ending with whipped cream, smoothing out the top. I shaved some chocolate on top. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lemon-Mulberry Muffins

This weekend, while at my parents' house for Father's Day, we were sitting out on the patio and Mom made a comment about the ugly purple stains that were everywhere all of the sudden. "I just can't figure out where they are coming from or what they are! They weren't here a few days ago!"

Dad just rolled his eyes. "It's bird poop, S. They eat the mulberries from that tree over there and it turns the poop purple!"

I was automatically at attention! Mulberries?! Where????? I usually buy my produce at the store, but I've really been into freshly picked produce lately. I've started an herb garden on our tiny apartment patio, and I'm really looking forward to the farmer's markets this summer. I looked to the tree line on Dad's property and da-da! A beautiful mulberry tree just overflowing with berries! I picked about 2 cups or so, all of the ones I could reach anyway. J. came out and helped me for all of 2 minutes before he got bored, I was mad because I needed his tallness!

It's really too hot in my apartment to bake, our A/C is NOT working (they are supposed to come fix it tomorrow), and it's about 85 degrees in here. But, I'm PMSing and needed to bake. Look at these beauties!

Lemon-Mulberry Muffins
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Orange Berry Muffins, from Baking: From My Home to Yours

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
3 TBSP Honey
1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 cups mulberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin pans.

Pour lemon juice into measuring cup and pour in enough milk to make 1 cup liquid. Whisk in eggs, honey, and melted butter (be careful not to scramble the eggs).

In large bowl, rub the sugar and zest through your fingertips until sugar is moist and you can smell the lemons. Mix in flour, bakign powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix gently, until no dry flour remains (will still be lumpy). Fold in berries. Divide into muffin cups.

Bake for 22-25 minutes. Tops of muffins will be golden brown and springy to the touch. Cool for 5 minutes before stuffing still way too hot muffins in your face.

Note: Once muffins are all the way cool, I like to wrap them individually in saran wrap and store in my freezer. Then, on a busy morning all I have to do is grab one and stick it in my purse, then nuke it in the microwave at the office for about 45 seconds. Makes a really quick and easy breakfast on a shaky morning, when I need more than coffee (or lately, tea, trying to give up caffeine for my migraines).

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I have this new addiction. Storm Chasing. Now, if you know me at all, you're thinking, "Haley, you HATE storms!" But actually no, that's not true. I've always loved storms, Twister was one of my favorite movies when I was younger. But because I've always been interested in them, I've developed a very healthy respect for them. I know what damage they can cause and so when there's tornados predicted in my area, I try to seek shelter.

Recently though, because of Twitter, I've started watching streaming video from the storm chasers in the Plains States. I especially enjoy Michael Phelps, his audio commentary is always interesting and educational (he's a science teacher in real life, or so I'm told), and there's a chat feature so I can interact with other "home chasers."

It amuses me though, that I am able to stream video like this for hours at a time. I remember when videos and music first became available on line, my dad (the internet provider) would get so frustrated with us when we watched just a short clip online. I still hear his voice in my head every time I watch something. It's so unreal that technology now allows us to follow along live with chasers in Kansas, or watch a movie from Netflix, or have a "face to face" conversation with a soldier in Iraq. We can even do it on our phones now, which is just crazy. I'm in the generation that grew up with this stuff. I don't mean the teens now who grew up ALWAYS having a cell phone with text messaging. I mean we grew up right along side technology. I've really watched technology expand and grow. I remember playing Centipede (or snakes or something like that) on my dad's DOS. It was so awesome that he was able to get weather updates sent to his computer from who knows wear. now I have a live radar on my computer all the time and I can stream video and can SEE the weather! So incredible.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Random Articles

There is an article in Real Simple Magazine this month about empty nesters sending random newspaper articles to their children. The consensus was that it's annoying, they'd rather just have their parents call or write a letter, instead of sending a random article about, say, the cat flu in Antarctica. My parents don't do this, but my grandmother does. It used to be just clippings from the local paper with a picture of me with the swim team, or if I made the honor roll, or something like that. Now, she's moved on to email forwards and things like that. As I was reading the article, I was chuckling to myself thinking about the last letter I got from her. Slightly annoying, but endearing at the same time.

Then I realized, I DO THIS TOO! If you don't believe me, look into the archives of this blog and look at all fo the random things I've posted here. When I started this blog, it was just a place for me to post the miscellaneous things I found interesting--cool products, weird news articles, etc. Then Facebook invented it's share function. I didn't use it much at first, until they provided us with a handy little button to put in our favorites bar. Now, when I see come across a handle to carry grocery sacks, I can post it to my facebook. Or say I see a comic that reminds me of my best friend. I can share directly with him! Now that I have Google Reader, I can share with my Reader too! My cousin made a comment to me a few weeks ago that she had blocked me in her Reader feed because I'm constantly sharing funny (to me anyway) lolcats. Unfortunately, I was also sharing vegetarian and vegan recipes I came across, for her specifically. Oops! Because it is just a click of a button, I don't realize how often I share the random things I come across.

But for me, they are conversation starters. I love seeing that little red box in the right hand corner of my facebook that tells me someone has commented on something I've posted. It's the same reason I tweet so much. I like the conversations that evolve from posting such things.

The moral of this story? I have very eclectic interests. I try to keep the shares focused on things that I think other people might be interested, and don't be surprised if I send you an article about your chosen occupation, or your favorite band. It means I was thinking about you, and most people like to know that they matter to someone. At least I do.

Just finished: Watership Down by Richard Adams--This book definitely took me by surprise, when I found out it was about rabbits, I almost put it down as a children's book. However, it's a fantastic adventure story from the meek creatures none of us pay much attention to.

Up next: Home by Julie Andrews

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Better Half

My ex's father once told me that the phrase "other half" was stupid and made no sense. You can't fall in love with someone else until you yourself are whole. Looking back, I know what he was getting at. He was telling an insecure teenager that she needed to love herself before she could expect anyone to love her.

However, I tend to disagree with him that the phrase is silly. Any Army wife knows EXACTLY what that phrase means. Maybe not so much when he is home. But his absence, whether it is one night, a week, a year, is felt so much more than his presence. I can't explain the feeling, other than to say it feels like a piece of you is missing. Something is off. I feel restless, uncomfortable, insecure. It's different from when he just works late. I know he's not coming home tonight, and because of that, I am so, so lonely.

I will not miss this chapter in our lives. I hate going somewhere and being asked by every single person, "Where's J.?" He was supposed to come with me to the wedding today but of course, it was drill weekend. There's nothing worse than attending a wedding alone. It's sort of fitting, because he was absent the entire time I lived with N. and was active in the Campus House. Still, I wanted him to be there.

Ok, I'm going to go to bed now and stop whining. Sorry for this little rant. He'll be home tomorrow night and I will feel so much more at ease.

3 more years...

Reading: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Friday, May 15, 2009

Book Lists

1. That look people get right before they start backing away from the crazy lady.
2. They laugh and roll their eyes and say "Oh, that is SO you." Then they back away slowly from the crazy lady.

The lists started out innocently enough as an Excel spreadsheet I used to keep track of which Nora Roberts books I had read and which I wanted to read. Nana always br
ought me NRs when she visited--the findings of trips to her favorite used book store or flea markets she stopped at with Grandaddy. I probably got my book addiction from her--she too is a big fan of paperbacks.

Eventually, I stopped limiting myself to just tracking NRs and adding books that were recommended to me by friends, family etc. It was basically titles and authors, not very organized.

Then I discovered Microsoft Access. This program was invented for obsessive list keepers like me. I now have one database that houses not only book lists but also movies and music. At last count, I had 948 books on my "Books to Read" list. This list is not only titles and authors. With Access, I can also track where I can find them:

1. Kennedy Library
2. M-H Library
3. Bookins (kind of an online used bookstore/trading club)
4. My own shelves

Once I read a book, it then gets transferred to the "Books Read" list. It gets rated:

1. Good
2. Ok
3. Bad
4. Didn't finish

Aside from satisfying my one OCD compulsion, this list does create an unintentional benefit. While many of these books come from reviews and summaries I've read, once they get put on the list, I rarely remember what each is about, with the few exceptions that stand out to me. What this does is allow me to pick a book off the library shelf and dive into it. I know it came off of my list (If I'm going to Kennedy that day, I can print off a query of ONLY Kennedy books, then walk around that horribly arranged library trying to find the books on the list), so it is one I wanted to read. I don't read the jacket summary, I just start reading. I don't always know if it is a love story or a mystery or a memoir. Because I have no expectations about the characters or the plot, I can get far more involved in the story.

For example, while I love NRs for easy reading between more difficult novels, every plot line is basically the same. The entire time I'm reading, I'm putting the characters into their expected scenes:  The Meet, The Rivalry, The Big Fight, The Sex, The Second Big Fight That Causes a Separation, The Engagement, The Big Happy Family With Pregnant Main Character. It's the same in every book.

In contrast, when I picked up The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allandre, I had no idea what it was about (a memoir of the days, weeks, years after her daughter's death). I was not anticipating the lesbian affair, the "chapel" in the woods, the Chilean conflicts. I felt real emotions that could only be felt by completely immersing myself in the lives of the characters. That connection is the reason I read, and unfortunately, it is what many poeple lack. They read the same things ove rand over and never experiment with literature.

Now, I'm not saying that you should stop reading your favorite genre. Nana still brings me NRs every time I see her. I love them. But, I alternate with one of the other 943 (I deleted a few while writing this, I discovered last week that I do NOT like John Barth's style) books on my list. Make your own list. Don't read the jacket, just dive in. Try it!

Reading currently:  Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

(And yes, I know there is a weird thing going on with my font. No idea why the top is black and bold and the bottom is normal. Does not show up like that in editing, not sure how to get rid of it.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Short post tonight, just let you know that I'm going to be away from my computer next week. I may think up a post in the next few days if you're lucky, but Sunday J. and I are outta here! Headed to North Carolina to visit my cousin and her husband and new baby daughter (last year when we visited K. was VERY pregnant). Then staying a couple of nights in a cabin near Gatlinburg. I'm so excited about that.

This trip was actually supposed to be to New Orleans, my favorite city (that I've ever visted), for our honeymoon. We were going to stay at the Place D'Armes and eat at fancy restaurants. Sigh. We probably could have still gone but it would have meant sacrificing a big portion of the money we are saving for a house. Double sigh.

J. happened to get 2 extra days off of work than we were expecting, so we decided to splurge a little (not nearly as much as NOLA though) on a fancy cabin in the woods, as a second half to our minimoon in October (had a cabin in Brown County).

Anybody have any suggestions on where to eat in Gatlinburg? We've never been, so I'm not sure what is good and what is too touristy. Also, has anyone been to the winery just outside of town? 

PS...I just noticed how often I use parentheses for little side comments. I guess I blog the way I talk, I'm always interjecting explainations and such into my spoken thoughts. Hm.

Just finished:  Richard Murphy, Confessions of a Contractor--funny, easy read. Very entertaining, especially if you are in anyway connected to some sort of home trade (plumbing, electrical, carpentry)

Next up:  Anita Shreve, Body Surfing

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chirp, Chirp!

Guess what guys! I'm so done with school! That's right, I made it to graduation! Ok, enough with the exclamation points. Geez.

Still, I'm super excited that school is finally over. Everyone tells me that I'll miss college. Nope. I am hanging up my bookbag for good. I hated school, and I'm thrilled its over.

Some of you know that there has been a lot of turmoil going on at work. Long story short, it was not sure if I was going to get the promotion that I had counted on. But, I got it! I officially started my new position today (which really, isn't that different from what I was already doing, but should be less night time work), although my real schedule change won't happen until after my vacation next week.

So what am I going to do now that I don't have a full time school schedule? I'm going to bury myself into my books! Wait, that doesn't make much sense does it? If you know me at all, you know that there is nothing I love more in this world than fiction. Usually I read a book every day or two. Lately, though, it has taken me at least a month to finish one book!  That's ridiculous! I will never get through my reading list at that pace (although, even at a book a day it would still take forever. I have upwards of 900 books on an Access database). I'll try to keep you guys up to date on what I'm reading, not so sure if I'll do reviews or not.

I just finished The Shunning by Beverly Lewis, it was fantastic. Easy read but a lot of controversial issues, and it definitely made me grateful for the life I live.

Next up, Chimera by John Barth. To be honest, I have no idea what it's about. 

Thursday, May 07, 2009

An Open Letter to IM Spammers


Please stop instant messaging me every 5 minutes. While I am impressed at your ability to create a new screen name for every message you send, it makes it impossible to block your annoying messages. No,, I do not want to cum see your sexy naked pictures. I am trying to read my food blogs on Google Reader, and I'm Tweeting with my Bluffton friends. Every time I start to type, your IM box pops onto my screen and I end up Twittering half a message. Then, when I wake up in the morning to check my email, I find that you have sent me so many porn messages that my Digsby won't let me close it out.

So please xc,, please stop sending me these messages. I will never click that link. You are wasting your time, and mine.

Thank you,


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Thrifty Thursday

I have a slight obsession with food blogs. My Google Reader is always overflowing with new posts from the 100+ blogs I subscribe to (I was going to count them but I got to 50 and stopped). And those are just food blogs, it doesn't count personal blogs (like MckMama, who is the wonderful mom of Stellan who I've been tweeting about a lot lately) or news feeds and all sorts of other things I like to look at.

Anyway, I was reading a post from Amanda's Cookin' today and she has a weekly blog event called Thrifty Thursday. It got me thinking. We are all trying to save a little money here and there, and for me, grocery shopping is one of the biggest money suckers. I am addicted to fresh and natural ingredients and I have a hard time curbing my obsession with food (hm, sounds familiar?). One thing I never seem to have on hand is chicken stock, and it's in everything! But, I'll buy a can or carton and it will get lost in the back of my fridge. Something else that gets lost in my fridge are herbs. I am always buying parsley or cilantro for some new recipe, but I can never seem to use the whole bunch before it starts to turn. One of the other blogs I read (or maybe a few of them) suggested to put those herbs, along with scraps from other veggies, into a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer. Then, when you have a chicken carcass leftover for dinner, take an afternoon and make your own stock. Freeze it in ice cube trays then put in another baggie. That way, you always have stock on hand.

I keep meaning to do this but just never think about it. Well I was looking for an ingredient for dinner tonight, and saw that my parsley was starting to get a little brown. Aha! Time to freeze it! I also found 3 bags of green onions (apparently I keep buying them when I go to the store without realizing I have them) who's tops were kind of soggy. No problem, I cut off the bad parts and tossed those in the bag too. For dinner tonight we are having green beans, so the ends of those went into the bag as well.

A few other suggestions that I've seen were the tough ends from asparagus, carrot tops, the root end from an onion, etc etc etc. Really any veggie or herb that would otherwise end up in the trash. Just make sure you rescue them from the fridge before they mold or get slimy. But really use whatever leftover produce you have. You're going to strain everything out anyway, so the possibilities are endless! 

Now, I just need to get a rotisserie chicken one of these nights so that I can make the stock!

Sunday, May 03, 2009


The nice thing about having a blog is that I can write about the major things going on in my life. it gives people a window into my life, and it gives me a place to get my thoughts out. The downside is that it is very public. Anyone can read it, which is cool, but when you want to vent, it may not be the best option. I've started and deleted about 50 posts this weekend. I cannot tell you all what is going on, and it drives me crazy. But, I must remain professional and not run screaming around the internets like I would like to. Instead, I'm going to ask for your prayers and thoughts. I expected change when I graduated. But things are not moving in the direction I planned for and I am trying desperately to find the path I'm supposed to take. Hopefully I will be able to relax soon and get back to myself. But until then, the posts may be scarce so that I don't get myself into trouble.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Definition of Irony

I've had this song in my head all night and J. had never witnessed this video before. I had to show him. It's too obnoxious not to. I mean, she's singing a song about not having sex until marriage, but the whole video is her thrusting her girly parts in our faces. And can someone please explain the robot arm? I really don't get it.

It's about tiiiiiiiiiime (clap clap clapclapclap)

Wow, I graduate next weekend. That's crazy. And the Monday after, I start my official full-time job. All this change has me thinking about the past few years.

When you tell someone you're a student, they have one image--short skirts, lots of beer, sleeping until noon. They picture the hostess at Cheeseburger in Paradise, driving around in Daddy's shiny new car. They see such an easy life, full of dates and parties. I know several stereotypical college girls, and while it's definitely not all fun and games, they definitely live in a completely different world.

(Now, before I get a bunch of angry comments, let me just say, I have nothing against the stereotypical college girl. My sister happens to be one of them, and she works REALLY hard. All I'm saying is that there are a lot of things about college life that I do not understand, mostly Greek traditions. Have a conversation with K. and she'll tell you I would NEVER fit into her sorority!)

Sorry about that tangent, I'll get to my point. My college career has been anything but easy. I have never been the traditional college student. I'm far to introverted. The first two years I spent curled up on my bed with a book. Then, my sophomore year I got a job as an after hours customer service rep and dispatcher for a local plumbing company. That same year, I met J. Those two took over. I loved my job, I felt like I was actually doing something productive. And you all know what happen with J. :). Anyway, about the same time, I started taking my business courses, and that's when the real disdain for college started. I LOVED my core classes (well, except astrology and math). But I never saw a point in the business courses. I made the mistake of being a Business Administration major, instead of something more specific. The major has no plan. I had to take a few classes in each department, but there was no real direction. I have had a very hard time connecting what I'm learning in accounting to what I'm learning in human resources. And throw in finance and it's all over (literally. I failed my last finance class. Upper level theoretical analysis of investments just could NOT take root in my brain, no matter how much I studied).

My junior year, I really started to feel awful about school. While I've never been the smartest person in my class, I've always felt somewhat intellegent. But that year I really started to feel stupid. Add to that the fact that J. was in Iraq and my main source of support was now limited to 1 line emails and 4 minute phone calls on tapped lines. It was a rough year, but I made it though. But I wanted to quit. Ask anyone. I just wanted to drop out, I would NEVER make it though my senior year. I was beaten up. But, I'm too stubborn to quit with only one year left.

Then I took that finance class I mentioned above. I also got married the same semester. It was awful. The decreasing confidence I had was completely dashed. I was exhausted. But I had one semester left. And luckily, I only had 3 electives and 1 business course (and 1 10 week internet course to replace the finance class, but that wasn't a big deal). Which really shouldn't have been bad except I've been sick more this semester than I've ever been. I even ended up in the ER a few weeks ago.

But now, I'm almost there. I'm going to make it. I'm going to walk across that damn stage (and then wait a month for my diploma to arrive). Then, I'm probably going to burn my books and notebooks and Ball State sweatshirts and anything else related to college. Ok, not really. But I will clean out all of my notebooks. And then I'm headed out of town, with or without my husband, depending on if he can get off work. But either way, I'm out of here. Going down to visit my cousin in North Carolina for a few days. And I'm taking AN ENTIRE WEEK OFF. 7 whole days! I didn't even take that much off when I got married. I'm really really excited! Can you tell?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


My fellow business students can attest to this: Today's world is all about networking. Almost every professor I've had tells us to start expanding our networks, and every time I get online, there is yet another social networking site to join. And I do, because I'm an addict and I can't help it. From Facebook to Twitter, from LinkedIn to, everyone is meeting new people online. How many times a day do I get on and change my Twitter status? Some say way too many, but by using sites like Twitter, I am able to converse with people outside my small town Indiana network about cooking, housekeeping, beekilling, etc. I get questions answered from people all over the world. I have friends in Florida who cook, in Arizona who plumb. I have a friend in Ireland who worries about my health, and my "Twitter Mom" in Bluffton who looks after me too. I've met people with different experiences than I have had (for some reason I really like to follow moms on Twitter, as well as their blogs). For the most part, it's all in fun, and most of the conversations aren't serious. But sometimes, somebody's real life is touched by their online life. Who starts a blog about their family expecting it to be a door to crucial funding to save babies' lives? Or who would imagine that a celebrity would notice a regular joe's status update and help them get the psychological help they need? Just a few examples.

So whether you like to post your recipes on Blogger, or just use facebook to post pictures of your latest drunken excursion, take a moment to notice the people around you in your social networks. You may be touching their lives more than you know.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lunch at Concannon's

I FINALLY got to try out Concannon's new deli cafe here in Muncie. I've been a Concannon's addict since I first discovered them my sophomore year at Ball State, and when I found out they were building a new shop, I was super excited. Gimme more Concannon's! However, the new cafe is on the opposite side of town from where I live, work, and go to school, so three months after the Grand Opening I still had not tried it.

This week, I've had THREE different people reference the new cafe, so I knew it was time. A quick post on Facebook and I had a date with my Aunt Susan and her daughter Maycee! Unfortunately, I ordered the wrong thing. I have this problem where I order something with Jordan in mind, which doesn't always work out. I had the Flaming Roast Beef, which he would love. It's got lots of jalepenos and some sort of red chilis (which I mistook for a grape tomato, until I popped one in my mouth!), pepperjack cheese, and a spicy horseradish sauce all wrapped up in a tortilla. It definitely had potential, but I think the sauce took it over the edge for me. The wrap just did not have enough substance to counteract the spice. It would have been better with some sort of thick spongy white bread.

Don't take this as a bad review though. Judging from the delicious looking meals around me, I will definitely be back. On one side of me, two women had amazing smelling cheddar soup; on the other there was a beautiful cranberry walnut salad. And there were sooooooo many sandwich choices. Add to that the 50 feet of candy and pastry displays and you have a great restaurant. It's definitely a success, don't go at lunch time if you can help it. We went at 1:45 and it was PACKED. Apparently, an hour before the line had been to the door (overheard from one of the other tables). I'm also looking forward to trying their new homemade ice creams.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


You know, when I was a little girl, I wanted nothing to do with anything feminine. I loathed dresses, bows, the color pink, even JEANS were too girly! I LIVED in those colorful windsuit pants that we all wore in the 90s (come on, you know you had some). I wanted to be able to run around and race the boys. I was SUCH a tomboy! I mean really, I didn't even know how to pull my hair back in a ponytail until I was in middle school. My mom always did it for me, to make me look presentable in public. I just plain didn't care. While my sisters played with Barbies, I played with Tonka trucks and Breyer Horses. I bragged that I could run across our gravel driveway without shoes on and it didn't even hurt!

I hated dolls. I never saw the point in them, I thought they were silly (never mind that I had a huge collection of stuffed animals. THAT was different!). I hated babies in any form, flesh or plastic, it made no difference. I had a birthday party when I was in second or third grade and one of the girls gave me a cabbage patch doll. I threw a fit because anybody who knew me at all knew that I hated dolls. Poor girl, she left the party crying! I feel bad now, Cabbage Patch dolls are worth a fortune! (ok so that's not the only reason I feel bad.)

Along with my hatred of babies, I also swore I would never get married. I had no sense of romance back then, I wasn't one to giggle over the cute boy in the class. I was best friends with the cute boy in class! And I could run faster than him too! I was going to be a successful jockey (or something horse related), and I would have no need for a husband.

Flash forward a decade. I became reacquainted from one of those boys I used to race around the school yard, and we fell in love. Six months ago today, I married that boy. He drives me absolutely crazy, but I'm crazy about him! I'm still trying to figure out this whole domestic wife thing. It doesn't help that I'm a full-time student and have an all but full-time job. Most of the time laundry sits on my floor until I have time to fold it, and I don't always get my dishes washed at night. My mom will be disgusted when she reads that, but for me, those aren't the most important things in my life. Dishes and laundry come second to quality time with my husband, and trying to keep myself from getting burnt out. Sometimes, I just have to unwind in the evening, instead of working even more. I'll figure out the routine eventually.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


We watched The Story of Stuff in my Life Management class today. If you haven't watched it yet, I encourage you to click the link and check it out. It's about 20 minutes long, but very fast paced and really interesting. It discusses how our materialistic world got started and how it's affecting our Earth.

This got me thinking. I have geek lust for the new Kindle 2. It's an electronic device that's about the size of a piece of paper, and the thickness of a pencil. It's a method of reading ebooks, newspapers, newsfeeds, etc. But my question is, which is worse for our environment, paper books, or electronic devices like the Kindle? On one hand, trees have to be chopped down to make the paper for old school, printed books. On the other, how many resources are used to make disposable plastic and silicone-based electronic devices?

Something that really stressed me out about this video is that 99% of the things we buy are thrown away within 6 months, because of planned and perceived obsolescence.

Just something to think about today.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Calling all healthy people

Here's the deal. I am sick of being sick all the time. I am so unhealthy right now and I need help figuring out how to get my body back where it needs to be. The way Jordan and I are living right now is obviously not working, so I'm coming to you guys for help.

I'm in my last semester of college, taking 12 regular hours and 3 online independent study hours. I have a very demanding job that takes soooooooooo much of my time and energy. On top of all that, I'm struggling to figure out the housewife thing. I'm not a natually domestic person. I hate to clean and with my busy schedule it is hard for me to get into the routine of keeping the apartment tidy, and cleaning really stresses me out.

The kitchen is the one place I don't get stressed (well most of the time anyway). I'm getting better at creating menus two weeks at a time, so I can buy all the ingredients I need, to minimize our grocery bills and the junk food we eat during the week. I try to cook with fresh, healthy ingredients. 

So you see the general picture. The stress from going to school full time and working so much has just beaten down my immune system. I have been sick more days in the past month than I can count. My job isn't one where I can call in sick very often, especially when I'm sick on the weekends, like today. Migraines rule lately, along with colds and digestive issues that really hinder my ability to go about my day. As much as I would love to go to the gym every day, it's just not an option, and by the time I get home at night, I'm exhausted. I do ride horses once a week, but it's not enough. I've gained 15-20 pounds in the past year, and I just feel disgusting.

Help me please! Any suggestions on ways to motivate myself to exercise, vitamins you take that make you feel great, tips on how to keep my apartment less of a mess, anything would be amazing. I've gotta figure something out or I'm never going to make it until graduation. I'm losing the battle with stress, and I know I have much less crises than a lot of other families do right now. Thanks guys!