Monday, January 31, 2011

Jar of Hearts

This song is hauntingly beautiful and moves me like not many other mainstreams songs are able.

This video is wonderfully choreographed. The dancing is mind blowing.  What can I say, I am a sucker for an emotional ballet street fight!

I could watch this video and listen to this song all day.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Holy 1986 Batman

As I was leaving my office the other night, a group of four 16 year old girls crossed the sidewalk in front of me.

They caught my eye because they were all decked out for what appeared to be an 80’s costume party.

Complete with low cut sweatshirts, leg warmers, bright colors, and high side ponytails. They are certain to win top prize in the costume contest!

Then I realize something horrifying.

They probably are not on their way to an 80’s costume party. They most likely put a lot of thought into their outfits because that’s the style for 16 year olds right now.

I wiped the tears of dismay from my eyes and drove on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Pet's Only Clubhouse?

We have a trampoline in our back yard.  We bought it in the middle last May and had a lot of fun with it this summer.

This winter, I had expected that we would store it in the garage.  Turns out there is a reason you see trampolines in back yards covered in snow.  They don't breakdown into storable parts very easily so they sit in yard and are forgotten until spring.

I am not okay with that!  Those things are not cheap and the weight of all the snow destroys them after a year or two.

So, we made a compromise.  I am going to nag Shawn to shovel it off every time it snows and he gets to shovel it off every time it snows. 

Sounds fair, right? Yep!

Heidi and Shawn have been able to use it a few times this winter.  After the big fluffy snow falls, they go out back to shovel it off and end up jumping on it and if the snow if fluffy enough, they jump off it into the snow surrounding it. 

But our pets love it the most. 

Three of the five (yes, we have five right now) go outside in the winter for various reasons.  The most common reason is the biological one.  They head out the back door, down the path Shawn has cleared for them, towards the trampoline.  Along the way, they take care of business but then, without fail, they all head to the trampoline.

They spend a couple seconds to a couple minutes walking around under the trampoline before high tailing it back to the house.

We have all wondered what it is under that trampoline that is so attractive to those pets.  Was the cat using it as a litter box?  Did something die under there?  Did they have a secret Pet's Only clubhouse?

Last night after work, I finally decided I needed to know what was out there.  I wanted to be invited to the clubhouse!

I arrived home from work, made the dogs come out of the house, and headed down the snowy path to check it out.

The sight was beautiful.  Grass.  Yellowed grass but grass none the less.  I miss grass!  And so do my pets so they go visit the grass every chance they can get. 

I don't blame them!

Pig, in true Pig fashion, checked out the grass and then bolted back to the house.  Too bad no one was there to let the baby in.

Daisy, in true Daisy fashion, checked out the grass, sniffed, sniffed, sniffed, sniffed... then tried to exit the grassy clubhouse through the snowbank face planting right into the snow.  Since she never has been the brightest bulb in the box, she continued to hop forward into to the snow, instead of turning back.

Hop.  Face plant.  Huff, puff snow off face.  Hop.  Face plant.  Huff, puff snow off face.  Hop.  Face plant.  Huff, puff snow off face. 

I, on the other hand, was doubled over in laughter watching her.  I know.  I am not a very nice mom.  But if you can't find the humor in her situation, all you will do is cry.

Which is what Pig was doing on the steps.  Crying. 

So, I called her to come in and ran up to the house to let Pig back inside.  He had been outside for a total of three minutes so I understand why he was so upset.

Daisy finally came in about five minutes later, covered in snow, and exhausted from all that excitement, I finally know why the pets love the clubhouse, and I am realizing that it's not the end of the world to leave that trampoline out in the back yard all winter.  As long as it's shoveled off, that is.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Amazing Bully

This girl never ceases to amaze me.  Everyday I wake up to her smiling face and every night I fall asleep to her gentle snoring.

Daisy Mae has made the adjustment from four legs to three in her normal, take things as they come, stride.

I do not regret our decision to stop her chemo after three treatments.  Ever since she came out of her bad reaction on that last treatment, she has been doing very well.  I actually think she has been more perky than she was before this all started.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Victory Over Chipotle

I have been really good the last few weeks about brining a lunch, not eating out, and getting to the gym at least 4 days a week.

I know that when I deprive myself of something I want; it makes me want it that much more.

Yesterday, this thought crept into my head. It said, Chipotle sounds good.

Then I saw a bag from Chipotle in the fridge at work. And that thought came again. Chipotle sounds really good.

Thursday, I was in the gym stretching after a very annoying run on the treadmill. I had packed a pair of low cut yoga pants instead of pants with a drawstring. I like these pants but they really are only good for yoga since they slide down with the slightest movement. I spent the entire thirty minutes on the treadmill adjusting my pants.

So, I am stretching, trying to keep my pants from falling off, and that thought gets really loud. It says, After that, you really should get some Chipotle. It would be really yummy and you totally deserve it for sticking out the workout with these annoying pants on.

I try to ignore it. I explain to the thought that my sandwich is going to be really good and I should just eat that.

By the time I made it to the locker room, I had made a deal with that thought. If the scale said a certain number, I would have Chipotle.

Walking to the scale, I changed my mind. The scale had to be 4-tenths lighter than that number or no Chipotle! And if I do have it, then no dinner tonight. I figured this would seal the deal.

I jump on the scale. I do a double take. It’s not the first goal. It’s not even the second goal. It’s 6-tenths lighter yet!

I was very amazed that the first thought through my head was not, Yeah, I get Chipotle. It was, That’s so awesome, I totally don’t want to run it with Chipotle now!

So, I went back to my desk and ate my sandwich, grapefruit, and yogurt.

And guess what? I don’t regret it. The sandwich was good and I knew I would not beat myself up at 3:30 when I was falling asleep at my desk from all those heavy calories.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pete - The Zuzu Hunter

Pete got some new toys for Christmas.  Actually, Heidi did but Pete sure found them interesting.

Zuzu Pets are little hamsters that move around the floor on their own.  The squeak and chatter as they move.  When they run into something, they turn around and head another direction.

We had resisted letting Heidi have these little guys for about a year.  No real reason, mostly that this is a toy that can get out of hand very quickly.

And that is what happened.  This year, without even asking for them, she got 4 Zuzu Hamsters and three play sets that all connect together.

The play sets are fun but so is letting them roam around the hardwood floors.

Pete watched them and protected his box.  He didn't know what to think but he was certain they were not something he wanted in the house.  So he attempted to kill them.

Such a proud cat.  Maybe we should have given in last year when Pete was still a wild little kitten who wanted to play all the time.  We could have set off a few Zuzu pets and he would have been busy all day trying to catch them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What's For Dinner? Italian Breaded Pork Chops

I love pork chops but last year I realized that I only knew two ways to make them - Browned on the stove and baked in the oven, smothered with cream of mushroom soup.

I set out to find a few new ideas so we can enjoy pork chops much more often.  My current favorite are the Caesar Pork Chops but last night I found this Italian Breaded Pork Chop to be pretty good.

The pork chops come out with a nice Italian flavor and they keep moist.  I served them with a rice dish, salad, and steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.  I think it would have been very good with spaghetti as a Pork Chop Parmesan.

Here's what you need:
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp milk
1/2 cup flour
2 cups panko crumbs
1 cup Parmesan Cheese - grated
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp Italian Seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
Pork Chops - this breading will make 4 to 8 chops so make as many as you need.

Take out two pie plates and one gallon sized zip lock bag.

Put 1/2 cup flour, or enough to lightly cover all of your pork chops, in one pie plate.

Mix the eggs and milk in the second pie plate.

Mix the Panko, Parmesan Cheese, parsley, and Italian Seasoning in the zip lock bag.

In a heavy skillet, coat with olive oil and toss in the garlic.  Let the garlic brown a bit over medium heat.

Dredge a pork chop in the flour, then in the egg mix, then place it in the zip lock bag.  Close zip lock bag and shake until well coated.

Remove pork chop from the bag and place in the skillet.  Repeat this process until all of your pork chops are in the skillet or your pan is full. 

Brown pork chop for 2 minutes then flip and brown for 2 more minutes.  Repeat with all pork chops in your pan.

Remove pork chops from pan and place on a cookie sheet. 

Please pork chops on the cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the center of the chop is not pink.

Very yummy!!  Enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

What's For Snack? Carmel Puff Corn

My mom used to make this when we were kids and Margie made it the other day so I thought I would post it here for you all to enjoy!

This is from the Old Dutch website:

Prep Time: 60 min

Servings: 12

Here's what you need:
1 Bag of Old Dutch Puffcorn
1 Cup of Butter (Not Margarine)
1 1/4 Cups of Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup of Light Corn Syrup
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and light corn syrup in a 2 quart sauce pan.

Cook on medium heat until mixture has melted.

Once mixture has melted add the baking soda. (Note: This will cause the mixture to foam)

In a large roaster pan pour Old Dutch Puffcorn and pour caramel mixture over the Old Dutch Puffcorn and stir until mixed.

Place in oven for 45 minutes, stirring at least every 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven, pour on wax paper and break apart.


Friday, January 7, 2011

It's My Favorite Song!!

My Step-Mom used to tease me all the time about every song on the radio being my favorite. We would be riding in the car and I would say “turn it up, this is my favorite song!” or “Oh, it’s my favorite song!” over and over again.

But right now, I really do have a favorite song. It’s the song that cheers me up every time I hear it. It makes me laugh and sing along very loudly.

The other day, when pulling out of the parking lot near my office, I had to cut a guy off to get across three lanes of traffic. He was really mad at me. We were totally safe, I didn’t almost cause an accident, and I didn’t even make him miss his light, he just had to wait 2 seconds for me to get out of his way. He pulled up alongside of me and flicked me off and I just laughed at him. I was singing along to my favorite song, I was off work for the day, heading home to my family, and I was in a good mood.

I love the radio version but I really like the Gwyneth Paltrow version from Glee as well.


Oh, and the best line is "Oh, shhh... She's a Golddigger, just thought you should know!"

**Forget You, By Cee Lo Green (be aware the non-radio edit version of this song is not kid friendly!)**

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What's For Dinner? Chicken Pot Pie

One chilly evening over Winter Break I was flipping through recipes to find something hardy and yummy to make for dinner.  I read a number of chicken pot pie recipes, noted the things I liked about them, and then made it as simple as possible to come up with this very simple, very tasty, chicken potpie recipe.

You can make this with turkey if you have leftovers from the holidays.

Here's what you need:
Pie Crust - I used Pillsbury's Pie Crust in the long red box.
2 cups diced or shredded chicken (about 2 breasts)
2 cans Cream of Mushroom Soup - or any other "Cream Of" soup.  Try one celery or one chicken or whatever you have in your pantry.
2 cups frozen vegetables - I used a mixed bag of corn, green beans, lima beans, peas, and carrots
Pepper to taste

I made two of these but only had three pie crusts.  One had a top and bottom crust and the other only had a top crust.  Both were equally good so try it either way.  I highly suggest the Pillsbury Pie Crust, it keeps this meal in the 10 minute prep time.

For a bottom crust - Line a greased pie pan with a pie crust.
For no bottom crust - grease the edges of the pie pan.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients until coated with the cream of mushroom soup.

Pour into the pie pan and cover with the top crust.  Cut 4 to 5 slits in the top crust for venting.  Cover the edges of the crust with tinfoil.

Bake in a 350 degree oven 35 to 45 minutes or until the top crust light brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.  This will allow the inside to set up.

One pie will serve three to four people dinner sized servings.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ode to Daisy Mae

Last night, while cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and discussing now much Daisy has been wanting to eat lately, I made up this song. 

Honestly, ever since we stopped Daisy's chemo, she has been starving.  If Pig does not eat right away, he runs the risk of her scarfing down his food as soon as we turn our backs.  If someone is in the kitchen, no matter how deep of a sleep she is in, she gets up to see if there will be hand outs. 

She went from 120 pounds to 85 pounds in four weeks.  Some of that was from her amputation but most if it was from her fat butt.

This is to be sung to the tune of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors.

You with the sad eyes

You look so hungry
Though I realize
You’re really just begging
For the food I have in my hand
You can lose sight of it all
But you only have three legs now
And you need to stay small

But I see your true colors
Shinin through
I see your true colors
And you like to eat yummy snacks
But don’t always beg for lots of food
Or you’ll get fat
Get fat, oh so fat
Like you used to be

If you see my begging, three leg dog, please know she is lying to you.  We are not starving her.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What's For Dinner? Corn Bread

A few weeks back I posted the PW's Skillet Corn Bread.  That recipe is for southern corn bread.  This recipe is for northern corn bread which uses sugar and is sweet, the way I like it!

Try both, I am certain you will like one or the other.

Here's what you need:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups cornmeal (I use yellow)
1 cup flour - all purpose, not self rising
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix milk, butter, and egg in a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until moistened.  The batter should be a bit lumpy.

Pour into a greased 8x8 pan.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

If you like to use Jiffy because it is easier then try making your own with this recipe.  Simply mix the dry ingredients together in an air tight container marked Corn Bread Mix and save until you are ready to make corn bread.  I think this recipe is much better than boxed Jiffy!


Monday, January 3, 2011

A Winter Trip To The Zoo

One of our favorite outings is to the Como Zoo in St. Paul.  In Minnesota, the zoo experience is different between summer and winter.

In the summer, the Lions are outside, in the winter it's to cold so they are in their den.

In the summer, the African Hoofed Animals are out in their yard, but in the winter they are in a smelly building we like to avoid.

Since we are a cold weather state, winter is really a great time to visit.  The Tigers are up moving around and the Polar Bears are enjoying their brand new, state of the art, exhibit.  Visitors do have to go outside to pass from building to building but all of the exhibits are viewable from inside the buildings. 

And the best part, no one goes to the zoo in the winter so you have front row viewing at every exhibit! 

We always follow the same path when we enter the zoo.  First we go into the Habitat Trail and then we go clockwise.  I think they switched the turtles out in the pond in the Habitat Trail!  They used to be pond turtles but this time there were Alligator Snappers in there.  They were very cool to see.  Look at the head on that thing!

 The Tamarian's look like little old men.  Heidi remembered the time she was eating Cheetos and the Tamarian's were following her.  Shawn wondered if the zoo keepers gave them mustache wax.

The Orangutans are a funny little family to watch.  The baby was born in the fall of 2007 and weighs about 20 pounds.  She is just like a typical three year old, very curious.  There was a small, flat whole in this log.  She kept putting her hand in there to get something out.  We think she had stuffed some of her cardboard in there and was trying to get it out.  It was a riot to watch!

Before we started going to the zoo in the winter, I had never seen the wolves in the Wolf Forest.  I was starting to think they weren't really there!  In the summer, when it's hot, they sleep in the shade and don't move around to much.  But they are cold weather animals so in the winter they move around a lot and there is no brush for them to hid in.  When we approached the exhibit, one wolf was standing on a pile of rocks calling out.  He ran off before I could snap a picture. 

This beautiful white guy was sleeping in the little shelter and was happy to smile for a picture.

The Lions were in their den, taking a nap.  She is a stunning woman.  It's amazing to be this close to this lady, only a sheet of glass between us.

 When we visit Como in the summer, the Tiger is almost always sleeping in the sun. We might get to see him laying in the little pond, if we are lucky.

But in the winter, he is always moving around.  Pacing back and forth and sometimes playing with his toys.  This time he stayed on the ground but sometimes he will come up the rocks to the window so you are nose to nose with him.  It's truly awesome. 

All of the cats had large bones in their habitats.  This one was still bloody and these guys were tuckered out.  It would have been a sight to see them get those bones!

The new Polar Bear Exhibit is a million times better than their old one.  They are able to go inside and still be seen by the visitors.  Today they were in the training room taking a nap when we arrived.

The bears are twin brothers named Buzz and Neal, which cracks me up.  They have been in their new exhibit since April.  We got to see them for the first time late May, and it opened to the public in June.  There is a learning center with a staff member or volunteer on hand to answer questions and show samples of fir and blubber.  This is one of my favorite exhibits of all of the zoo's I have been at all over the country.  If you haven't seen it, go very soon.

In the learning center, they have a seal den for the kids to check out. 

When we were done with the Polar Bears, we went to see the aquatic animals and the real seals.  This guy was posing for the pictures!  There were two in the training pool.  One was Sparkey but we are not sure which one but my guess he is the one posing for pictures.

As we exited the Aquatic Animals building we heard a presentation coming from the Polar Bear Exhibit so we headed back to see what was going on.  A staff member was taking about Polar Bears in general, how they moved Buzz and Neal to Detroit while their new home was being built, and some specific things about these two bears. 

All the excitement got one of the bears up and moving so we got to see him walking out in the snow.  We didn't get to see him swim but I bet he was in the water after we left.

We had a great time, as always.  If you are in the Twin Cities I suggest you check out Como Zoo this winter!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!

I have to say I am happy to see 2010 go but I am increasingly amazed by how fast a year can just fly by!

2010 was full of the typical ups and downs but I think this was the hardest year, personally, of my adult life. 

Many people close to me lost someone they loved for one reason or another and we had the diagnosis of Daisy Mae's cancer and Heidi's tough transition to her new school.

But there were good things as well.

Daisy Mae is doing very well.

Heidi is adjusting to her new school and it really is the best thing for her.

We have a nice home, good jobs, great family, and fantastic friends.

I have really enjoyed all the cooking I have been doing for my family.  And I am proud to say that, even though I had some ups and downs, I am officially 11.5 pounds lighter than I was on January 1st, 2010.  Most people in their thirty's gain 5 to 10 pounds a year and I lost!

In 2011, I look forward to expanding my recipe book even more (and sharing then with you!), continuing to bring my organizational skills that I totally rock at in the office back home, losing at least another 11.5 pounds (but even more would be fantastic), and continuing the make the most of life with me awesome family but enjoying good food and fun outings and the little things that we come across every day.

With that, I am going to go spend the first day of this new year with my family.  I hope the rest of you are able to do the same.

Best wishes for a Best 2011 Ever to all of you!!