Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bender Ball Warning

I posted several months ago about my Bender Ball find. I now have a warning for you. If you set your Bender Ball on your night stand, it does not work (meaning...if you don't use it, it doesn't work). I am trying to get back into using it regularly. I have it out of the way so Max doesn't destroy it. I have been successful as he has not had a chance to touch it, but I forget about it and end up not using it like I should. My goal is to use it 3 times each week. I've used it once this week so far. I hope to get it back into my schedule.

Stamp Storage

I found this shoe organizer at Costco (for only $24) and thought it would be perfect for my stamp and craft supplies. I just finished putting it together tonight so I haven't organized anything in it yet.

Creator of my own demise

Do you have any character trait or personality trait that is a thorn in your side? I have at least one…probably more. I can be extremely shy and uncomfortable around people. I am terrified of speaking in front of a group of people…even people I know well if it is a large group. I will avoid this at just about any cost. As a kid, I can't tell you how many times I embarrassed myself in front of a group of people because I could not recite what I had rehearsed perfectly only moments before to myself. I was a Brownie and then Girl Scout in elementary school. I would BEG my parents to take anything I was selling to school with them (as they were both teachers) so that I would not have to approach anyone trying to sell something. I couldn't even sell Girl Scout cookies which pretty much sell themselves. When I was in high school, my mother saw my shyness in light of her own and wanted to see if I could move beyond that. So for a summer (I’m not really sure how long this went on) I met with a Christian counselor or psychologist who officed at a local hospital. I don’t remember much about the whole ordeal, but he would give me “exercises” to work on. I remember one week the exercise was simply to start a conversation with a stranger. That’s about all I remember – and I have no idea if I did the exercises he gave me or not. It would be entirely believable for me to have lied to him rather than actually do what he suggested I do (but I don't remember what I actually did). I’m not sure what results came about because of my sessions with him. I was comfortable around my small group of friends I hung out with in high school and had fun with them, but I didn’t branch out much. Then I went off to college. I guess I knew that I had to relax a bit because I only knew a handful of people when I got to school. After college, I moved to Dallas. I really didn’t know anyone there so I tried to quickly get involved in a singles group at church. Thankfully, I met several nice people – one of which is still a very good friend today. I would have to admit that I chose the church I joined based on the friendliness of the people in the singles group. I visited a couple of churches where no one in the singles group even talked to me. I have realized recently that I have always found a friend or two and then held on for dear life to them rather than continuing to build relationships with other people. It is weird to have a realization such as this now that I am 30. Maybe I just didn’t consider it earlier in my life. So what’s a shy person to do? M says that I need to challenge myself to invite girls to do things one-on-one and just get myself out of my comfort zone. I will tell you right now that while I think he is right, that thought really scares me sometimes. I am truly a weirdo and have created this sometimes lonely world I live in.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2/26 New Recipes

I made the following for dinner last night. They were both pretty good, but I would add a little more flavor to the steak next time. I also might serve it with some rice. You can find the recipes online by clicking the names below.

Roasted Flank Steak with Olive Oil-Herb Rub
Cooking Light April 2007 p. 236

Green Bean and Radish Salad
Adapted from Saveur

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2/25 New Recipe

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
Cooking Light March 2007

This was pretty tasty. We had this with roasted garlic potatoes and okra with Rotel.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Guess who is six months old today!

Max is 6 months old today. We weighed him after church and he is now a little over 68 pounds. I almost couldn't hold him long enough to get his weight. He's a heavy boy. M found yesterday that Max is ticklish. If you tickle the pads of his feet gently, he pulls them away. It was pretty funny. This is a picture of the football we bought him this weekend. It took him a while to figure out how to pick it up because of the shape and how large it is. He has already taken the laces off and part of the "pig skin". He is into destroying his toys apparently.

We had a low-key weekend. Friday night our neighbors came over for pizza and a movie. We watched the first Indiana Jones movie. Saturday we went to breakfast at the Cracker Barrel and then ventured over to the Costco that opened last Wednesday. It was a mad house! Thankfully, M had gotten our memberships at his office a week or so ago. So we just walked right up and picked up our cards. We walked around and only bought a few things. We'll have to go back for more later. The rest of the day we hung around the house and took Max for a long walk where we saw two coyotes. I had never seen any in our neighborhood before. Last night, I made three pans of bubble bread to take to Sunday school this morning since we signed up for snacks. I opened a total of 6 cans of biscuits. If I ever have a heart attack, I think it will be while I'm opening a can of biscuits. Even though I expect the loud pop, it startles me every time. After church, I took a nap while M took Max for a long walk. I can't remember the last time I took a nap, and I used to take naps all the time. It was a nice weekend, but I'm not ready for it to be over so soon.

Friday, February 22, 2008

2/20 New Recipe

Asian Steak Salad with Cucumber and Napa Cabbage
Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2008 p. 97

If I made this again, I would definitely change the marinade and dressing. There was too much vinegar taste and not enough of the other flavors. M really enjoyed the meat though.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2/19 New Recipe

Moo Shu Pork
Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2008 p. 64

1 tsp plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil, such as safflower
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 tbsp cornstarch
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 lb shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), caps thinly sliced
2 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 head nappa cabbage, shredded
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
flour tortillas and hoisin sauce, for serving

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Add eggs; cook, without stirring, until set, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, roll up, and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips; set aside. Wipe skillet clean; reserve.
2. Place pork in a medium bowl, and sprinkle with cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. In reserved skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add pork, and cook until browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes (pork will cook more later); transfer to a plate (reserve skillet).
3. Add mushrooms and ginger to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cabbage, scallions, soy sauce, vinegar, egg strips, and pork; cook, tossing occasionally, until cabbage has wilted and pork is opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Stack tortillas between damp paper towels; microwave on high for 2 minutes. To assemble, spread center of a tortilla with hoisin sauce; top with moo shu filling, and roll up.

4 servings
prep time 45 minutes, total time 45 minutes

This was another yummy meal I found in the same Everyday Food magazine. I have been really impressed with this issue. There are still several recipes that I want to try. I hope to do more cooking than last week so I may have more recipes to share.

More about Max

I try to keep a list of new things each week so I can give you the Max update; however, I always forget my list somewhere else. Here are a few more facts.
  • He has his own version of the wave. He will shake his head and then it travels down the rest of his body. It's an amusing sight.
  • The fields we've been walking in have weeds that are about as tall as Max. Rather than running through them, he tries to jump over them.
  • Because of the work being done on our house last week, we had to stay downstairs when we got home from work. So we moved his water bowl down there. I was washing my hands while he was drinking his water. For the first time, I saw him stick his nose under the water in his bowl. He kept doing it. M thinks he made a bubble or bubbles when he did that and then was chasing the bubbles around the bowl. I'm not sure what he was doing. But I haven't seen him do it since.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Home at last!

Some very nice friends that M works with let us stay at their house Thursday and Friday nights. So rather than the dinner we planned for Valentine's Day, we took their family to Red Robin because we thought the wait would be shorter than at a romantic restaurant.

We went to two birthday party events on at the house we stayed at the two nights before (where there was an AMAZING balloon guy - he could make just about anything...I have never seen anything like it) and one at a pizza restaurant that night. All three kids celebrating birthdays were in the same family (cousins) so we saw the same people at the house and at the pizza place. It was a fun time!

Max's week and weekend

  • We tried to stay away from the house where we were staying on Saturday since they were going to have so much family in town for the birthday party. So while we were running errands, we stopped by the movie theater to find out what was playing. We took Max up to the ticket window with us. He hardly ever barks, but he barked at this lady as we passed her on our way to the ticket window and then again on our way back to the car. It was odd.
  • We took Max for a walk at a park this weekend where we saw several dogs. He really enjoys seeing (and smelling) other dogs. We met two other puppies and saw several other labs. We walked up a hill, and Max almost fell off the other side which was a cliff. He just walked right over it. M had to grab his collar and pull him up. It was surprising that he would just walk over it like that. I thought animals had a sense about those things.
  • Max has discovered that he can drink out of the toilet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hardwood Floor

We recently had some work done on our hardwood floor while it was still under warranty. After talking to the company that installed our floor, M decided we should go ahead and have some more work done on it to get rid of lines that have formed since we have a couple of rugs on the floor. It didn't cost anything near what we thought it would so it seemed like a good idea. They came yesterday for the first of three days to work on it. They told us we wouldn't be able to walk on it, but they didn't have any other warnings for us. When we got home last night, we couldn't believe how powerful the polyurethane smell was. We went to bed but got up around midnight to go to bed downstairs because we felt like our noses were burning. This can't be good for us. M says that he can still smell it even though he left home 2 1/2 hours ago. He also hasn't been able to taste anything today which is connected to his sense of smell. I hope we aren't permanently damaged. We would have loved to leave some windows open overnight or during the day yesterday, but as I mentioned in my post below it is really cold today and supposed to snow. M is going to rescue Max from there and we hope to stay somewhere else for the next few days so we don't have to subject ourselves to the chemicals.

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope your day is full of love and thankfulness...and I hope it's much warmer than it is here. With the wind chill it is 4 degrees right now. We are supposed to get some snow today, but I'm hoping they're wrong and the snow just hits the mountains.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2/12 New Recipe

Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu with Snow Peas, Peanut Butter, and Mushrooms
Cooking Light Jan/Feb 2008 p. 122

I served this with brown rice. I should have fixed a vegetable, but at least there were several different veggies in the dish itself.

I made the following changes to the recipe. I used olive oil because I did not have any canola oil in the pantry. I left out the ginger because I don't really care for it. I think I'll put it back in next time because it probably enhances the flavor of the dish. I used white mushrooms (I think) because the shiitake mushrooms where I was shopping were $12.99 per pound. I wasn't willing to spend that on this dish (I am trying to spend less money for groceries each month). That could have changed the flavor of the dish as well. I used more Sriracha than the recipe called for because M likes a lot of flavor in his meals.

Both M and I thought it was pretty good. He gave me suggestions as to what I should do next time I make it because we both thought it was a tad bland. I am not sure what you can do to make the tofu absorb the flavor of the sauce. In every recipe I have ever tried with tofu (there haven't been many), we have had the same complaint about the lack of flavor. He suggested that I add more Sriracha and pieces of actual peanuts. So we'll give that a try next time.

2/11 New Recipes

Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2008 p. 24

Cucumber-Carrot Bites
Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2008 p. 60

1/2 English cucumber, cut crosswise into 8 rounds
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 med carrot, coarsely grated
3 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1/2 tsp white vinegar

1. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, scoop out a small portion from the center of each cucumber round (without going all the way through); season cucumber cups with salt and pepper.
2. In a small bowl, mix together carrot, sour cream, scallion whites, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture evenly among cucumber cups; garnish with scallion greens.

I served this with brown rice.

M really liked this. I made it before I made the chicken dish so it was our appetizer. He thought it even tasted like it had some kind of meat on it. It was a very quick and yummy appetizer.

It seems like I picked up an Everyday Food magazine several years ago but was not impressed with it at all. I got the most recent magazine and have found several recipes that I want to try. The only wish I have is that it listed the nutritional information. I could figure it out by adding up the information for all the ingredients, but right now that seems like a lot of work.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Health Update

I keep forgetting to give an update on my mother-in-law's health. She is feeling much better - and has hope. She has a new doctor and is currently receiving treatment in St Louis. Her doctor is optimistic about the new treatment. She is receiving blood transfusions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and has a chemo treatment on Thursday. So she is at the hospital 4 days each week. Recently, her antibodies have started attacking the new blood. The doctor has started her on a treatment and if all goes as hoped, her bones will begin to make new blood and to hold it longer than a couple of days. After a couple more weeks, they will know more about how her body is responding to the treatment. I think everyone is cautiously optimistic right now, but this is definitely better than her previous doctor's prognosis. We are all thrilled! Please continue to pray for her and the rest of M's family.

Where I live…

This life of following Jesus is an interesting one. I find that I can get so caught up in my job, housework, cooking, cleaning up the house, doing laundry and playing with the dog. Just about anything can be a distraction for me – distracting me from doing what really matters. I think that keeping the house clean and cooking meals is being a good steward of what God has entrusted to me. However, there are far more important things than that…steeping myself in the Word, spending intimate time in prayer, sharing real life with my husband. Yet I spend most of my time doing those things that are not eternally significant. As I sit at my desk each day listening to my iPod, I hear song after song that reminds me of Kingdom things. I know the best is yet to come…on that day when I see Jesus face to face. That should be what I look most forward to. And I do look forward to that…but then I’m distracted again and think about the things I still want to experience on this earth. I am a living dichotomy.

What is even worse about all this is I have recently come to know all kinds of people who are really struggling with situations I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy…death, infertility, miscarriages, illness. If nothing else, my thankfulness should drive me to my knees to know my Creator as well as to intercede for those who are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. My faithfulness should not be dependent on my circumstances or feelings…I should just be faithful. God chose me as His child. My life should daily be laid down for His purposes and glory.

I am in the midst of these thoughts and how I can change my daily life around these thoughts.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Forest Adventure

M and I live about 4 miles south of a forest. It is seriously the strangest thing because where we live there are absolutely no trees. Yet if you drive 4 miles up the road, you are in a forest. I don't understand. I guess it's the same thing with the mountains. We live on the plains, but if we drive 25 miles west, there are mountains.

M mentioned recently that we should drive up to this forest and let Max run around. It sounded like a great idea. Today we went to the forest. We got snow Thursday night, but at our house it was just a dusting. In the forest, there were places where the snow was a couple of feet deep. Before we even got out of the car, we got stuck...even in our new all wheel drive car in the post below. M got the car un-stuck while Max and I got out of the car to run around. It was nuts! So we walked around in the forest for a while. It was a bit of a workout because our feet would sink so far into the snow. It would have been a great place to use snow shoes. We'll have to try that again sometime. Here are pictures I took during our forest adventure. We had a great time, and Max has been passed out the last hour and a half since we've been home.

Max's week in review
  • Max really likes his beds. He has one in 3 different rooms - one is in his crate, one is downstairs, and one is upstairs. If we give him a treat or he is tired, he will go to his bed and lay down. It's kind of fun that he knows that place is just for him.
  • He likes to eat ice! It is a messy treat because he starts slobbering all over the place. I think it's funny that this is such a treat because it's just frozen water.
  • If one of us is in the bathroom with the door closed, Max will either sit outside the door or he will start putting his nose against the door or his paw under the door. It reminds me of a comedic routine I have heard from Bill Engvall.
  • He does a similar thing when one of us is in the shower. He will lay outside the door of the shower and wait.
  • When Max gets really excited, he runs around and bucks. He runs around so fast that he runs into the wall or the couch or the end of the bed.
  • We have a morning routine...when we first get out of bed, one of us lets Max outside. Then he is SO excited to have his breakfast. When he's done eating, he comes in our bedroom and generally lets out a huge belch. Then he jumps on the bed. He has no idea that he weighs as much as he does and that it is painful when he walks on us or sits on our heads. When we are ready to leave for work, Max runs in his crate (probably because we still give him treats then). He is a very sweet puppy dog!

2007 in Review

2007 turned out to be a pretty big and eventful year for us.
  • We moved into our first house in January. It is hard to believe we have been here over a year now. I am embarrassed to say we still don't have anything hanging on the walls yet. I just haven't wanted to put holes in our hole-free walls yet. That must happen soon.

  • In October, we got our first pet (other than the fish we had when we lived in Austin). I can't believe I lived most of my life without a dog. Max has been a lot of work at times, but he is so sweet and fun.

  • The last day of the year, we bought a car. This is my very first brand new car. It had only 16 miles when M drove it off the lot. We figured we needed some sort of 4 wheel drive vehicle so that we can drive into the mountains with less trouble than before. Our cars have lasted longer than anyone probably thought possible. We have been so blessed to have been without a car payment for most of our marriage. M has been driving a 1998 Honda Accord he bought while in college. It has around 195,000 miles on it and is still going pretty strong. I drive a 1996 Saturn SL2 (the green planet) that I got my last year of college. It has a little over 185,000 miles on it. It gets the best gas mileage. When I was driving 45 miles to work each day on the highway, I could get between 36 and 40 miles per gallon. The dealership did not want either of our cars so we are going to try to fix M's car up just a bit and sell it. We expect that we could get something out of his and almost nothing out of mine. I hope that works out. Isn't the new car pretty?

Friday, February 8, 2008

The week of doctor visits

I also went to the dentist this week for my 6 month cleaning. Thankfully, this time the dental hygenist did not ask me how often I have been flossing. M and I always talk about what a silly question that is. I don't want to lie about it, but I also don't want to admit to not flossing when I know I should be. I had a really nice dental hygenist this time around that did not give me too hard of a time. I am thankful for that!

I went to the eye doctor for my annual exam today. I have been going to the eye doctor since I was 8 or 9 years old. And I have been wearing contacts for 17 years. It is really weird to be aware of something I have been doing for 17 years. That kind of makes me feel a bit old. Anyway, I went to a new eye doctor today. I am used to having the glaucoma test and then another test where you stick your face into this box-type machine and click a button when you see a dot. However, today I think I had an additional 4 or 5 tests. It was very interesting and weird. I always get a kick out of the eye doctor asking, "Which is better...1...or 2...1...or 2." I always have a small nervous feeling that I am picking the wrong number. Does anyone else feel this way?

When I was a kid, I looked up to my brother and always wanted to do what he did. Probably when I was in first grade he got contacts. So of course, I wanted to get contacts. At that time, I didn't even wear glasses. I had a scarf that had belonged to my grandmother. This was a satiny scarf with clear sequins on it. I decided I could pretend to be wearing a contact if I took one of the sequins and put it in my eye. I must not have been a smart kid because who would think this was a good idea? I did put it in my eye, and my mom spent I don't know how long trying to get it out of my eye. I guess my eye was not scratched, but that must have been a miracle because sequins are not designed to be put on the eyeball.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Max on TV

Did you see the commercial with Max on it during the Super Bowl? That dog was HUGE, but he looked a lot like Max...even had a red collar. You can watch the commercial at the following site.
This picture was taken of Max yesterday (please ignore my horrible posture).
  • He now weighs in at 59.8 pounds.
  • This week during a walk, Max found a dead bird that he carried around for a little bit. It was disgusting.
  • He must find every piece of trash during our walks. He also found a pair of socks and underwear this week.
  • When M rubs behind his ears, Max gives a gutteral groan. It's his signature "purr."
  • Max has an alien living in him that we are seeing way too often these days. I'm hoping we'll see less of that thing once he's neutered, but I'm not sure how all that works.
  • He has definitely been back to his normal self. I think he just got used to different surroundings, other dogs, and being away from home.

M and I had a good weekend. We started out Saturday morning with a breakfast buffet. M loves buffets. After we got home, we filed our tax return. Last year, we paid a large amount. Thankfully, this year we're getting some back. I know the best thing to do is to get as close to $0 as possible, but I really enjoy getting a sum of money back. It is nice to have that out of the way. It seems like the last couple of years we have put it off a ridiculous amount of time. Our neighbors came over last night to eat dinner and watch a movie. We had a nice time talking about our city and how M and our neighbor should run for city council. It was an entertaining conversation. Then tonight we went to a Super Bowl party. Neither of us were really that into the game until the end of the 4th quarter. I'm glad we stayed to the end. Congratulations Giants!