Thursday, January 28, 2010

Job Interviews

For this season, the Lord has ordained that I master the art of the job interview. So I shall now tip some of my knowledge and lessons learned on to you, should you ever need them.
  • Brush your teeth before you leave. No one wants to see that poppy seed jammed in there - no matter how good your bagel was!
  • Allow plenty of time for the ironing of the interview clothes. This prevents hasty decisions, scorches on your clothing, and general amounts of panic.
  • While we're talking about ironing, do not let your pre-interview nerves get the best of you. We can clone a sheep and put a man on a moon but crossing two teeny t-legs is the best we can come up with for stabilizing the ironing board.
  • No matter how nervous you may be, do not rush the turning of the garment while still on the ironing board. Those aforementioned t-legs don't provide much support and that iron tips over a LOT easier than you think!
  • If the iron begin to fall from your unstable ironing board, let it fall. Don't attempt to catch it. Promptly jump out of the way and pray it doesn't land on the two dogs wrestling beneath said wobbly board.
  • If the iron lands hot side down on the carpet, pick it up immediately. It seems that iron melts carpet. Melted carpet doesn't smell too good. These events will make you frazzled and late to your interview. This is not a good impression. (It will also cause you to lose the security deposit on your apartment. Not that I speak from experience or anything!)
  • Follow all instructions that came with your iron (and your hair dryer and your curling iron and...). This includes do not use while sleeping, driving, or in the shower. Personally, I'd LOVE to see you use an iron or hair dryer in your sleep but I just don't think it's reccomended - especially right before an interview.
  • Everyone wears black to an interview. Either be a part of "everyone" or choose to stand out. If you choose to stand out - be confident in your standing. Don't feel all kinds of awkward for being the only one in an orange top and brown skirt. People remember you for that. (For being awkward and for wearing orange to a job fair.)
  • No matter how much you love to share, remember that at an interview your life is not an open book. No one wants to see your scars or hear the story of how one time you tried to ride your bike under a car port and you hit that pole instead. Actually, no one wants to hear that story even if you aren't in an interview.
  • Always, always, always remember that your job is to sell yourself. This often makes me feel like a lady of the night. So I try not to think of it too much.
  • Bring a resume. To be safe, bring 3. Just don't include the phrases "I like to take long walks on the beach" or "For a good time, call..." and you should be pretty safe.
I hope my tips bring you one step closer to your dream job. They haven't done much for me yet... I'm running away tomorrow to a girl's weekend of scrapbooking (and junk food)! Time to pack!! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I need help...

My mom and sister would tell you I need a lot of help. I say I just like to be organized. It's an on-going debate. But today I need your help in the kitchen! Last night I made a very simple dinner. Now I need to know how to spice it up without going over the top. What do you suggest?
I cut chicken breasts into bite sized chunks and sauteed them in olive oil with a little salt and pepper. (Is freshly ground pepper that much better? Should we invest in some grinders?) I boiled a bag of egg noodles (or what was left of the bag) and dumped it in a casserole dish. I tossed in the chicken and a can of cream of chicken soup. (I mixed the cream of chicken soup with pureed cauliflower because that's what I always do. It's healthier that way. You know me - always a rebel in the kitchen!) I mixed it all up real good and dumped in some cheddar jack cheese. I stuck it in the oven until the top noodles were crispy because that's what the original recipe called for.

It was delicious but a bit bland. And if I'm the one calling it bland, then you know it really was. It needs something, I just can't figure out what. More salt and pepper? More seasoning on the chicken?

Here are the other details you need to know:
-We both hate snow peas. Don't tell me to throw those in there!
-D.J. doesn't like broccoli. I love it and will eat it on the side, but he's not a fan of it in a dish.
-We think I'm allergic to ginger. It's new. Well, it's not new - it's just finally identified. But we're not sure. We never cook with ginger and so it's hard to tell if I'm allergic to it or not. But that's what our hunch is... (We also have recently learned that they use a protein in kiwis to tenderize meat. I'm allergic to kiwis. Maybe this explains some of the un-explained allergic reactions.)
-We only like garlic in small doses. Small, itty bitty doses.

So what do you think? How could I make this again and spice it up? Make it healthier and tastier? You guys ponder and let me know... I'm off to iron my pants for my 11:00 interview! Woo hoo!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My empathy runneth over...

My dad has always told me I was the most empathetic person he had ever met. (I used to think he meant pathetic and would cry every time he told me that...) My mom has always said that my job in life was to cry with others. It didn't matter why they were crying and I really didn't need to know why - it was my job to sit down and cry with them. I take my responsibility seriously. I've become very adept at crying with/for others - whether they feel the need to cry or not! This empathy is the biggest reason I never watch the evening news or read the headlines in the newspaper. Not long ago, my mom was telling me about the recent outbreak of crime in a certain neighborhood. My heart ached, not for the people who were so lost that they felt violence and crime was their only choice, but for the guy who was pistol whipped in his own home. I literally cried for the couple whose house was broken into. No, I don't know them - I don't even know their names. But I had to cry for their pain. It's who I am.
The first time I can remember this emotion flooding my heart was October 14, 1987. (I was 4.) Baby Jessica fell down a well in her parent's back yard and it swept the news. Every time they dug next to the well to get to her, she would slip a little further away from the precious air above her and a little closer to the chilly water beneath. The entire ordeal lasted 58 hours. For me, it seemed like weeks and weeks. I was glued to the news coverage. (Yes, at the age of 4.) I cried like she was my baby sister and I had pushed her into the well. I would sit, enraptured by what was going on, until I was literally sick to my stomach. I still remember being mad at my mom when she changed the channel and forced me to watch Sesame Street. Seriously, my empathy runneth over...
Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a blog. It was a hilarious story about a mom who's daughter threatened to run away from home. As I read the story I decided I loved this woman and needed to be her new best friend. So I began to read other blogs she had written. Turns out she's the wife of a Christian singer/songwriter and started the blog to chronicle their journey through the pregnancy of their fourth daughter who they knew would not survive outside of the womb. I wept. You can't begin to imagine how hard I wept! By the time DJ got home, I was a mess. I fell into his arms and sobbed for almost an hour. I cried for this mom who never got to raise her daughter. I cried for their other girls who never got to know their sister. And then the flood gates opened. I cried because the dryer was dead. I cried because my car is in desperate need of repair work. I cried because there are mommies in Haiti who will never hold their sweet baby again. I cried because there are babies in Haiti who will never know their mother's tender touch. I cried because I dropped the raw turkey meat on the floor that I was attempting to cook for dinner. I cried because I was crying so hard that D.J. had to clean up the meat and fight the dogs off all by himself. I cried because I could no longer tutor the student I had so quickly fallen in love with. I cried because I wanted a baby of my own. I cried because I feared it would never happen or I would lose a child as the woman in the blog did. I cried because I didn't have a teaching job. I cried because I didn't understand what God was doing and why He'd called us to Forney. I cried because I miss teaching.
Between my overwhelming sense of empathy and the strain of the past few days, I was a puddle on the floor. I made my all time favorite meal for dinner (spaghetti) and screwed it up royally. I cried some more. By the time all was said and done, I was exhausted! My head hurt. My eyes hurt. My stomach was sore from the strength of the sobs. Even this morning my eyes are red and puffy. D.J. told me I wasn't allowed to read sad blogs anymore. He also told me we're never watching the news again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fred, an Obituary

If you were to read your appliance manuel this morning, you would see a picture of Fred the Ghetto-tastic Dryer in the obituaries section. Last night, at about 8:30, Fred began banging and walking across the laundry room floor once again. We instantly knew what had happened. When we took off the front panel, it was all too clear - Fred's motor had shredded the hose clamp we installed less than a week ago. And, in true ghetto-tastic fashion, Fred passed away when he was full of damp clothes and the washer was full of sopping wet towels. (Both loads were carried next door to our sweet neighbor!) I'm not sure what to say about Fred in his obituary. He wasn't ever really a great dryer - at least not when I knew him. He never really seemed to like me much! I suppose he did last a good number of years but couldn't come through when we needed him most! He is already greatly missed - especially by Guinnevere (our washing machine). I think I even heard her crying this morning. In lieu of flowers, please send cash for a new dryer (and a truck to haul Fred to the junk yard).

Friday, January 22, 2010

A quick trip to the store...

Yesterday, I needed three things at the store. Dog food, creamer, and a gallon of milk. Simple trip, paying in cash, in and out in five minutes. No big deal. I picked up my items and even had a second to spare looking at the Valentine's stuff and dreaming about our first Valentine's as husband and wife!
I have really pushed myself this week and my hamstrings were screaming at me from the extra work load. It is unseasonably warm and I was wearing smooth bottom flip flops on a slick concrete floor. The self-check out line at our grocery store is never open but for some reason it was open with no line yesterday. So I slip and slide my way into the self check out line and scan my three items. As I reach to put the gallon of milk in the bag, it slips. I watch it fall to the floor in slow motion and which point it explodes! It soaks the woman in the line behind me, it shatters like it was made of glass, and I turn 18 shades of red. All of the customers were wonderful and apologetic and shared their own stories of dropping things in the line while the employees stand there and look at me!
I felt like a 5 year old that just got her hand stuck in the cookie jar. "Ummm, excuse me? I dropped my milk and need some help." More staring. "Ummm, excuse me? It's running and I soaked some poor lady's pants in milk." Finally someone comes around her station and puts two paper towels on the floor to stop it from spreading. Two paper towels. On a gallon of milk. Seriously?
Someone finally shows up with a handful of those little granuals that are supposed to absorb liquid spills. She looks at me, exasperated, and states that she needs more. I wanted to give her a stupid sign. Of course you need more! I dropped my milk and your genius buddy dropped two paper towels on it in an effort to stop the flood! I stood and watched helplessly, struggling not to cry. I asked what I should do because I needed my milk. The lady with granuals just looked at me. "I really need some milk. Do I need to go get some more or is someone bringing me some?" She said, "You can't have this milk." I think she just earned another sign. After much debate, we finally decide that I will go get the milk. From the back of the store. With my sore legs. And slippery flip flops. She tells me that I needed to hurry because the system would cancel my purchase in a few minutes and I wouldn't be able to continue checking out. I slip and slide as fast as I can and struggle to make it to the dairy case quickly without knocking old ladies and small children out of the way. I choke back tears on my way back to the front of the store where I find a hoard of people attempting to sweep up the milk. Not mop. Sweep. Brilliant.
I apologize for the mess one more time and someone says, "Well, we'll just have to charge you an extra 50 cents." I lost it. Big tears roll down my face. I don't have another fifty cents! I can hardly afford to pay for what I've already picked up! The lady laughs (way harder than she should have) and told me not to cry over spilt milk. I just cried harder. Then the system canceled my order and we had to call a manager to un-lock the system. I cried some more. Once it was all cleared out, the manager left and got involved in another customer. While straddling the lake of milk mush on the floor, I attempted to re-scan my items. The computer kept saying that my items had already been purchased by another customer. And they had been - by me. I just didn't pay for them... So we had to call the manager back over to fix the computer hang up. By that point, there were new people in line who couldn't figure out why I was standing in milk mush with wet pants and shoes and tears running down my face. Then, as if I weren't sick of this whole scenario, the employee gets upset that I only want to purchase three items. "That's it? You don't need anything else? Are you sure?" Nope. Three things. This was supposed to be a quick trip. When it was all rung up, the bill slot wouldn't accept my nice crisp bills. I struggled with it and asked for help, but only got dirty looks from the girl still attempting to sweep up the mess.
All told, my 5 minute trip to the store took 45 minutes. Afterwards, I laughed hard. In the moment, all I could do was cry over spilt milk...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I agree!

My friend Brandi just posted this article on her blog. She has a beautiful little girl and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of baby #2. D.J. and I are not expecting nor are we hoping to be expecting any time soon. However, we've seen the clothes in the baby department at Wal-Mart and frankly, we're disgusted. I'm seriously contemplating re-learning how to sew just so my child will not have to wear the trash that's so popular today. Go check out the article here and you can see what I mean. It's just sad that this is what our society promotes as "normal."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dryer Wars - Round 3

For those of you who are new to the blog, our dryer is named Fred. Fred is a fighter! (He's also ghetto-tastic!) He doesn't like the extra work load a wife brings to the picture so he's in the midst of an active revolt. We win the occassional battle (Fred wins more) and I'm starting to think we are losing the war. We're ever optimistic, however! One day... One day we will be victorious! We will either beat Fred into submission or haul him to the recycling company and earn some cash for all that metal. In the mean time, I think Fred is deteremined to fight every time I attempt to dry clothes! Here's a recap and a running score of our Dryer War...

Battle #1: After a truly bad October day, Fred stops working. He moaned and groaned his way to a screaching hault. D.J. had to finish the laundry at a laundromat that night.
Score: Fred - 1, D.J. - 0

Battle #2: D.J. figures out how to completely disassemble Fred. We clean him, oil him, and speak tender words of love and encouragment. This took about a week. We ran away to Waco for a few days to gather our wits about us and rest up for an attack on the dryer. When Fred is finally re-assembled, he works for 15 minutes at a time before over heating and refuses to tumble large loads or towels of any kind. The laundry process limps along each day, but does get done. A ghetto-tastic dryer is better than no dryer at all!
Score: Fred - 1, D.J. - 1 (Kind of...)

Battle #3: Some time after Christmas, Fred decides he'll dry an entire load without stopping, but then refuses to work without a two day rest. After that, he'll dry another whole load and lock up for two more days. Allison tells D.J. that this is an even more difficult method of doing laundry and he needs to give Fred some more love. D.J. scrounges up a motor from his dad's garage and moves it to our garage.
Score: Fred - 2, D.J. - 1

Battle #4: After a week or two of battle #3, Fred comes to a screaching and ear-splitting hault. Allison cries. (She's good at that.) During the "Biggest Loser" season premier, D.J. takes Fred apart once again and begins to clean and oil. No luck. Fred bites back and snaps the lid down on D.J.'s hand. D.J. screams and Allison runs.
Score: Fred - 3, D.J. - 1

Battle #5: D.J. takes Fred apart even further in an effort to replace the old motor with the one in the garage. Lots of banging ensues. Fred refuses to give up the ghost. D.J. gets very frustrated.
Score: Fred - 4, D.J. - 1

Battle #6: D.J. decides that the small plastic fan in the back of the dryer (the one that cools off the motor and moves the lint out of the dryer) needs to be removed. More banging and a few grunts. Fred bites again - this time drawing a large amount of blood. Allison misses the end of the Biggest Loser premire while doctoring the wound.
Score: Fred - 5, D.J. - 1

Battle #7: Allison gets involved now. Sticks and screwdrivers are shoved in the fan blades in an effort to unscrew it from the motor. Sticks break. The fan breaks. Twice. Screwdrives shoot out of the dryer like Fred is throwing them. Allison gives up and leaves the battle. Both sets of parents are called. Allison's parents agree to bring them the dryer sitting in storage. Fred gets completely ignored for several days.
Score: Fred - 6, D.J. - 1, Allison - 0

Battle #8: D.J.'s dad calls with hope. He stops by and removes the fan in 3.2 seconds. D.J. is flabbergasted. D.J. is able to remove the old motor and put the new one in place, despite the fact that it was every so slightly bigger than the original. However, we have the derndest time getting the front cover back on. D.J. slices his wrist in the process.
Score: Fred - 7, Duke - 1, D.J. - 1

Battle #9: After about an hour of struggle with the door and about 15 mistakes, we get it all put back together. Fred runs again but makes a horrible racket. He rumbles and shakes and makes noises that cause the dogs to bark and run in circles. We decide the back panel didn't get screwed on tightly and choose to ignore the sound to the best of our ability. Fred now dries clothes quickly and lasts for several cycles without overheating. A noisy dryer is better than no dryer at all.
Score: Fred - 7, D.J. - 2 (kind of)

Battle #10: While we were making dinner last night, Fred had the biggest temper tantrum yet. (He puts three year olds to shame!) He began shaking and banging like the drum had come loose and a racoon was loose inside. He actually walked several inches across the laundry room floor. It was bad folks! While Allison went to work, D.J. took Fred apart. There were no words of love and encouragement this time. D.J. was mad at Fred and refused to speak to him. (He's still mad.) The new motor had shredded the clamp that held it down to the bottom of the dryer and the sound we heard was actually the motor bouncing and dancing around inside the dryer. Our only set of sheets sat hopeless in the washer. The blanket for our bed was imprisioned in the dryer. Things were looking grim!
Score: Fred - 8, D.J. - 2 (sort of, but not really)

Battle #11: After a desperate phone call, D.J.'s dad suggested that he drill holes in the bottom of the dryer, thread a hose clamp through it, and tighten it around the motor to hold that sucker in place. So D.J. took our sheets next door to put in our neighbor's dryer and went to Lowe's to purchase the hose clamp. (Praise the Lord we'd sold several items the day before!!!!) After much more banging, a bit of drilling, and more dirt on my freshly vacuumed floor, D.J. decides that the clamp he purchased is a quarter of an inch too small. Fred's not going down without a fight!
Score: Fred - 9, D.J. - 2

Battle #12: On her way home from work, Allison meets D.J. at Lowe's to return the clamp and purchase a new one. Once home, D.J. immediately begins to battle Fred. There was grunting and banging and some frustration as he attempted to tighten the clamp that was now a little too big. (Allison stayed out of the way. This struggle had gone from an annoyance, to amusing, to a flat out war - complete with name calling on both sides.) Once Fred was finally re-assembled and pushed back into the laundry room, D.J. plugged him back in. Fred moaned and groaned and produced a new rattle - louder than the first. You can no longer run the dryer and hear the television in the living room or the bedroom. But, clothes do get dry and we were able to put all the sheets back on our bed in time for us to crash. It's clear that D.J. kind of won this battle, but Fred isn't done yet! When will the next battle take place? Only Fred can tell - and he's too busy shaking and rattling to speak.
Score: Fred - 9, D.J. - 3 (kind of)

Footnote from Allison: D.J. is my hero! No one else would endure the cuts, bruises and frustrations as nobly as he has. He has the patience of a saint and has done a fabulous job fighting Fred every day! I'm so very proud to call him MINE!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three Day Weekend

D.J. had yesterday off work. It was wonderful! We love getting to spend extra days together. :- ) Overall, it was a busy and productive weekend for us.

Friday night, we hung out with friends. We played ping pong. D.J. rocks at ping pong. Allison does not. During singles matches, D.J. whipped everyone's tail and made them cry. (Almost.) During couples matches, the other couple always won because Allison is just that bad! (When D.J. and I play ping pong alone, we've come up with some pretty creative rules. Like - if you can get the ball between the slats of the blinds, you get five points. If you clear the ball through the fan blades while the fan is running, you get fifteen! I always win when we play that way.) While we were over at our friend's house, the wife said that her husband spoiled her. I stated that my husband spoiled me as well. I think both husbands took it as a challenge to prove that they could spoil their wife more than the other. I don't know why they feel the need to compete, but I'm not going to complain!

Saturday, D.J. made me breakfast in bed. See? I'm spoiled! He then had to go to work for a few hours, so I decided that I would occupy my time by completely emptying the office. We'd been attempting to clean it out, but were so overwhelmed by the JUNK that we weren't moving very quickly. So I drug it all into the living room so we would have plenty of space to sort through everything. When D.J. got home, he was shocked. Apparently, that was not how he had planned to spend the afternoon. Oh well! Like a trooper, he got to work. We worked until midnight when I told him I was leaving him and moving in with the bed. I curled up and fell asleep in 3.2 seconds! D.J. attempted to wake me up to tell me good night but I just told him I was a shark and tried to bite him. (I have no memory of this. I was sound asleep the whole time!) I then told him his Christmas present wasn't finished and that we needed to sell the Erector Set next.

On Saturday, while we were working hard, I took a break and made one of the most delicious lunches we've had in a while! I defrosted some frozen chicken breast, and cut it into bite size pieces. I dipped each piece in a slightly beaten egg, and coated it with Panko bread crumbs left over from the broccoli we made the other night. We tossed them in a pan with a teeny bit of olive oil and cooked until they were tender and white all the way through. It was like little, mini, healthy chicken nuggets! We stuck them in a tortilla with lettuce and ranch (D.J. added salsa) and ate like we were in heaven! Oh my goodness! I'm so in love with Panko now! I can't wait to find more ways to use it...

After church on Sunday, we decided to take a break from the office in the living room fiasco and focus on the garage. We drug everything out, cleaned, sorted, organized, and put it all back in. It only took a few hours, and it now looks amazing! While we were working, we assembled the small table I blogged about not long ago and stacked it high with the things we wanted to sell on Craigslist or eBay. When we got back inside, exhausted, D.J. checked his e-mail only to discover that someone from Craigslist had seen the table and was coming by to pick it up. We trudged back to the garage, re-arranged everything, and celebrated at the $10 the guy paid us! We were so exhausted that we decided to go buy a pizza with our money. That was some yummy pizza! We eventually finished the office and got everything re-loaded. There are a pile of frames that need to be hung on the walls and curtains that are sitting on the bed, waiting for a loving husband to hang the curtain rod - but the office is done! We now love that room!

Monday morning, we made home-made doughnuts - as in home-made batter and home fried. (Note to self: do NOT stick your finger in the oil once it is hot. Doing so causes pain and blisters.) Monday afternoon consisted of lots and lots of runninmg around. We took cans to be recycled (and earned $4.75) and took books, CDs, and DVDs to Half Price Books (and earned $47.50). We went to Good Will to drop off all the stuff we knew we couldn't sell on-line, went into my first ever Braum's and had some yummy fries, and attempted (yet again) to get D.J.'s college ring fixed. (10 years after he graduated it's still not right!) We went to several antique stores here in Forney to try and price some of the items we found in the office, but didn't have much luck. Basically, no one buys antiques from you if you just walk in with a box and if you have a very rare antique, it's really hard to find another one in this little town in order to decide what price you should ask for if you do find someone who's interested in buying. I think our final decision was to stick it all in a box in the attic and wait 30 years. It'll be worth more then anyway!

It was a wonderful three days and we now have two more areas of our house cleaned and organized! I'm loving it! Now I get to catch up on the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and dusting I ignored over the weekend... How was your time off?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


When D.J. got his first apartment, he bought a small cheap table from Wal-Mart.

That was quite a while ago and that table has seen better days.

We tried to sell it on Craigslist, but no one wants a table this beat up! Yesterday, I had a stroke of inspiration and decided to rip the top off and paint the table underneath.

Some of it came off without a problem. Some of it refuses to be removed.

So here's what I need:
  • How do I get the rest of the glue off the edges?
  • How do I get the rest of the plastic fake-wood stuff off?
  • My plan is to prime and paint the top, then try to re-sell it on Craigslist. What should I paint on top? A solid color? A design? Flowers? Color blocks? Should I do pencils and notebooks and make it a homework table? Should I do a small checkerboard around the border and make it a cute kitchen table? What would have the most appeal?
  • Once it's painted, how do I seal it to prevent chips in the paint?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Here are the facts:
  • I love broccoli and DJ hates it.
  • We're on a budget so I dug through the pantry to see what was on hand when I planned our weekly menu.
  • I have been getting more and more adventurous in my cooking and in my flavors I'm willing to try.
  • I'm trying to cook healthy foods while staying in budget.
Now that you know the facts, here's the menu:
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Home-made alfredo (from scratch!)
  • Grilled chicken
  • Fettucine
All of it was new for me. I mean, I've made chicken but never put the seasonings on it to make fettucine alfredo. I've boiled fettucine, but I've always used a can of sauce and frozen chicken. This was an entirely new menu for me. I'm very proud of myself for attempting such a feat all in one night! (DJ's quite proud of me too. And, he says it's his new favorite.) So, here you go. Do with this what you will:

Roasted Broccoli - Your best bet is to check out Alton Brown's recipe here. Before today, we'd never had Panko Bread Crumbs. They're basically Japanese bread cumbs. I found them on-line for $12 and felt like that was just a little ridiculous. So I made my own! I crushed the fool out of three sleeves of saltine crackers (about three-four cups). I put them in a Ziploc bag and beat them with a rolling pin. (That was a blast and a half!) I tossed them in the bowl and mixed them up with 2T basil, 2T thyme, 1t chili powder, and 2t ground pepper. Stir them up, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and put them in a 325 degree oven for 6-8 minutes. Shake/stir them around and make sure they're that good and dry but you don't want them browned and toasted. Best of all, the house smelled AMAZING! And, I felt super fancy and cool. It made a ton, so the rest are in the freezer. We'll use them to coat chicken, as a crunchy topping for salads, or on top of veggies and casseroles. I'm excited about the possibilities!
We then used our Panko Bread Crumbs on our broccoli. DJ hates broccoli and was very skeptical and was sure he'd hate it. He had two huge helpings and ranted and raved about how delightful it was! I know it sounds different - but it's so worth it! What a great new way to get veggies on the table. For me, it was just a little spicy so I liked the pieces that were bigger and had more of the sweet stem. DJ liked the kick and picked out the smallest pieces. (I might have to do something to cut the chili powder in the Panko. Or maybe the garlic in the broccoli. We have left overs so I'll figure something out.)

Homemade Alfredo Sauce
I know, alfredo's not too healthy. So I found a healthier option. 1/2 cup cream cheese (we used 1/3 reduced fat), 1 cup milk, 3T shredded Parmesan cheese, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2t salt, 1/2t pepper, 3T parsely. Pour all but the parsley in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Heat in a saucepan and add parsely. I forgot that last step and so the pepper had quite the kick! It was delicious, just a lot of pep when combined with everything else.

The chicken
I took frozen chicken breast and marinated it in lemon pepper marinade for several hours. I cut it in bite sized pieces and tossed it in the skillet with a little olive oil. I sprinkled a mariade of spices in the pan until it smelled good. I think I used lemon pepper spice, garlic powder, and onion powder. I don't remember what all I used - I just know it was GOOD! It was incredible! I could have picked all of that chicken out and eaten it alone. I didn't, but I could have. When the chicken was done I chunked it in the sauce pot with the alfredo so they could share their yummy goodness with each other.

Toss it all on the table with some fruit and a bowl of fettucine (I wish we'd had whole wheat pasta on hand - I'll make sure to buy it in the future) and here was our result:

I think it made for a beautiful table and quite a yummy meal! And, just for fun and just because I love the camera on my iPhone so much, here's a close up of the broccoli yumminess:

Enjoy! Let me know if you need more details on recipes. And don't be afraid to roast some broccoli! It's a quick veggie and because you roast it, you're not at risk of losing all those wonderful nutrients in the bright green trees. :) (Random broccoli facts: Most of the nutrition is in the floret at the top, not in the stem. And, when you microwave broccoli you lose 86-98% of the nutrients. I assume this applies to those handy steamer bags but I'm not sure. I'll have to research it all...)

Please pardon this interuption...

I have two "a-mouse-ments" to make! Lucky for you, both have good stories that go with them.

Announcement Number One:
My best friend since childhood is Natalie. I was eating mashed bananas when my mom got the call that she had been born. We've been best friends ever since. Well, we really became best friends when we were 4 and in the same preschool class. With the exception of third grade, the school system did everything in their power to keep us in separate classes. She was so shy she never spoke. I was so outgoing I never shut up. We were a good balance for one another. We stayed friends despite the year we were in separate schools. We stayed friends through high school. We stayed friends when we moved to different cities for college. We stayed friends when she moved to Virginia and a jerk wad broke her heart. We stayed friends when she moved back to Texas and we went through the growing pains of becoming adults. I was proud to be the maid of honor in her wedding. Just a year later, she was one of my bridesmaids. As Anne of Green Gables says, we are bosom buddies. Our hearts are connected with an iron bond. In elementary school, we were attached at the hip. We told people we were cousins - and they believed us. We did lots of other things that don't belong on this blog (or any other blog!) so I'll just move onto this announcement! Natalie and her husband just started a new blog! Woo hoo! Surf on over there and take a look. She is my bosom buddy and always will be. I love Natalie - and her new blog: A Tale of Two Skivvies.

Announcement Number Two:
Most of you know that my body doesn't respond to life in a typical way. I'm allergic to the planet and DJ and I have to make lots of accommodations to keep me from dying. :) Last school year, my immune system took a tough blow with mono and whopping cough/pneumonia. I couldn't fight off anything anymore. So my OB/GYN thought it best to put me on a very strong birth control to prevent pregnancy no matter how strong my anti-biotic might be. I gained 17 pounds in three weeks and cried non-stop. It was horrible! So we switched pills and the new one seemed much better. However, when DJ and I changed our eating habits in September, I couldn't lose weight no matter what I did. On top of that, I struggled to be motivated to do anything. It was a rough 6 months! In December, I had the opportunity to switch birth controls once again. In the 6 months at home, my immune system has recovered and my health has improved greatly. So the OB/GYN put me on a much lower dose of estrogen. I now feel fantastic! I have energy and pep again! It's wonderful! And, to top it all off - I found out yesterday that I lost 8 pounds and 7 inches over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Woo hoo! This new pill is fantastic! I can't wait to see how much I can lose when I'm actually working at it! So look out skinny jeans - here I come! I'm off to work out now... (After I hang up the laundry and feed the dogs and wash the work out pants that I spilled ketchup on yesterday at lunch.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Crafty Bows

I have a link to share with you. But first, here's what you need to know:
1. My mom sent it to me. I love my mom.
2. I like to be crafty.
3. I'm obsessed with saving bows from all kinds of presents. I've been known to dive across several laps to save the bow from the trash bag. Seriously - you should see me at parties.
4. I like to save stickers too, but that's not the point of this post.
5. I'm hungry.
6. I want to make a difference in this world.
7. I'm still wearing shoes from when I went to work out. This is very weird for me.

Now that you know all of that, please visit this link here. It's fun.

My heart is full...

I've started this blog seven times. I think what it finally boils down to is that my heart is full. Full of thankfulness. And gratitude. And praise. And rejoicing.
It all started several months ago when Fred, our loving dryer, decided that I added too much of a work load as a new wife. (I think he liked the life of a bachelor!) DJ took it apart, we cleaned it thoroughly, gave it lots of oil, and spoke loving words of encouragement. We put Fred back together and he worked for 15 minutes at a time. We re-named him Fred the ghetto-tastic dryer and went about our day. I learned to be thankful for a dryer that allowed us to have clean, dry laundry even if it took me longer than "normal". Not everyone in the world has a dryer. I'm truly blessed! Last week, Fred gave us his last hurrah. DJ went to war. And lost. We were very sad.
My parents volunteered to bring us my old dryer that was sitting in a storage shed waiting for my sister to need it. We were so thankful for the willingness to help. We are so blessed! Then on Friday, DJ's parents called to say that they were close by and would love to come take a look at the dryer to see if they could help at all. DJ's dad had the old, dead motor taken apart in thirty seconds flat. He gave DJ instructions from the internet on how to fix the washer and the dryer. We were so thankful that they came over and helped us out. We are blessed by two sets of parents who love and support us without question!
Friday night was one for the books! After DJ's parents left with the dryer motor successfully removed, we got to work on the smallest room in the house. In no time flat, DJ fixed the washer (it had been filling ridiculously slow) and put the new motor in the dryer. When we pulled both appliances out we discovered the most disgusting floor you can imagine - I'll spare you the details. So I got to work scrubbing and bleaching like you wouldn't believe. (That room sparkles!) DJ got the wires connected and re-assembled the dryer and we pushed it back into the laundry room. (We moved it into the living room while I bleached.) With a special touch of flair, DJ plugged in the dryer and pushed the start button. Nothing. Not even a groan. DJ did a little more work, and got the motor to run. We then attempted to put the drum back in. We ran into one problem after another. After another. After another. There was more blood, but you don't need the details on that! Eventually, DJ won the war. The dryer is now working better than it ever has. I don't think I can call him Fred the ghetto-tastic anymore. (Well, maybe. There is a rattle from a screw that's loose.) But the dryer is fixed. The washer fills faster than I ever could have imagined. The mildew is gone from under the washer and the laundry room is clean. I'm thankful and blessed!
My parents were sad that we no longer needed them to bring the dryer so they decided to come anyway. They came Sunday afternoon and we hung out and played games and then went out to dinner. It was wonderful to see them and to have a very yummy, filling meal. I am so grateful and blessed!
In the past week, we also officially joined our church, became leaders of our small group, and sold two items on Craigslist - thus providing a little extra income to help us make it through the month! There are also three positions posted on-line that I am highly qualified for. I'd love to teach any of those classes and am thrilled about the possibilities.
My heart is full. I'm thankful for all that's going on in our life right now. I'm grateful for two families that love and support us. I'm blessed by all that the Lord is doing. My heart is so very full...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas - a synopsis

Our first Christmas together is best told through pictures. So take a walk with me...

First, DJ and his dad built a bonfire. It was big.
See? Big! While it was burning down to an appropriate cooking fire, we chopped some firewood for our house.

DJ was fantastic. I was not. His niece, Allison, couldn't stop laughing long enough to do any good!
I eventually got bored with the wood chopping and decided to ride a horse. I almost fell off several times and got pretty bruises to prove it. DJ rode Aggie too, but I can't find the pictures.
We started a new tradition! Snowman pancakes! They were so much fun and so very yummy!

Then came Christmas Eve. First we saw this.
Then there was this. (See the snow on Cua?)
Then we saw this.
After a snowy Christmas Eve service, we came home to discover this beautiful scene...

We were shocked! And thrilled! And all together very excited! Then DJ and I did Christmas for our small family of four. First, the puppies got snowmen raw hides.
Then I found a large present under the tree. With my name on it. It was too heavy to lift so I pushed.
Inside? A brand new, virus free, fresh out of the box lap top just for me!
I was so super surprised! And happy! I gave DJ a large canvas full of wedding pictures. And quotes. And stickers. I tried taking pictures but I just doesn't do it justice. He cried. His mom cried when we showed her. My mom cried too. It was beautiful!
Christmas morning we were thrilled to find the snow hadn't melted! Our first Christmas together and our first white Christmas ever! On our way to DJ's sister's house to open presents we couldn't resist the urge to pull over and play for a few minutes.
We enjoyed Christmas Day with DJ's family. This is DJ's nephew, Alex, opening his iTunes gift card. We had a little fun with him!
The day after Christmas, we drove to Waco and spent several days with my family. Megan paper mache'd DJ's Christmas present. I took him almost an hour to get into it! Once he finally opened it it was a Rubix 360. Basically, it's a Rubix cube in a ball inside of a ball inside of a ball. It rotates and spins and makes me get very frustrated. DJ loved it!
It was a wonderful break! We loved every second of it! And, we had snow and my family in Indiana didn't.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How (not) to fix a dryer

Step 1: Get a text from your wife saying that the dryer is laughing at her and refuses to work.
Step 2: Take dryer apart.
Step 3: Stand in bewilderment.
Step 4: Pull dryer out into middle of laundry room.
Step 5: Scream like a banshee when dryer lid closes on your hand.
Step 6: Take the back off of the dryer and leave it in the living room for the dogs to lick clean.
Step 7: Take all the junk out of the back of the dryer and wonder how it got there.
Step 8: Convince wife that her hair clip may have been destroyed by the dryer but her hair clip was not the reason the dryer was destroyed.
Step 9: Make a ton of noise. It helps if you bang on metal.
Step 10: Occasionally yell out, "I'm okay!"
Step 11: Go running through the house screaming "BAND-AIDS! I NEED BAND-AIDS!"
Step 12: Convince your wife that the gash in your hand does not need stitches despite the fact that you feel woozy from blood loss.
Step 13: Continue to bang on the dryer until the fan in the back breaks into little pieces.
Step 14: Call dad.

Sadly, Fred the ghetto-tastic dryer died yesterday. I think it actually laughed at me when I put the load of towels in. DJ heroically came home and planned on replacing the dryer motor. (His dad found an extra one in his garage.) What we didn't plan on was the dead dryer putting up one heck of a fight! I attempted to take pictures. I eventually stopped because it just wasn't funny anymore. Here are the pictures I do have along with my commentary as the evening progressed!

Here we are, just getting started and oh so optimistic!! :) DJ's wondering why in the world I'm taking pictures!

DJ trying to get the drum disconnected from the motor. (I was propping the drum up so it wouldn't fall and crash on his head. I'm a good wife!)

There's good ole' Fred sitting in the garage! Well, at least that's the drum... That's the part of Fred I'm most familiar with.

We got it all taken apart and sat down to watch "Biggest Loser" and eat chocolate. I read on-line once that a regular sized candy bar contains 6 insect legs. (I don't want to think about what happened to the rest of the insect!!) I have no clue if that's true or not, but it's turned me off of candy bars forever! I figure, these aren't regular sized candy bars and are so small they must go zipping down the assembly line at super sonic speed. That's far too fast for any insect I've ever met!

Have you ever seen the inside of a dryer? The first time Fred broke I remember looking at it and thinking, "Wow! It's so simple!" (It was also very dirty. I've done a lot of cleaning to make it look like this...)

The noisest dryer motor ever. Our goal was to remove this tiny thing and put in the new one.

This is the first pile of junk DJ pulled out of the back of the dryer. Very dishearenting after spending the entire day cleaning house until it sparkled!

The dryer is now filling most of the space in the tiny laundry room. DJ's attempting to move everything else out - over the top of the dryer. Not an easy task when you have three square inches to move around in and a very heavy vacuum cleaner to hand to your weenie of a wife! WAY TO GO BABE!

The plastic fan that had to come off in order for us to get the motor out. We eventually figured out how to remove the lint trap (that big gray thing on the right) and proceeded to shove sticks and screwdrivers in the fan blades while DJ banged like a fool on the other side. Sadly, that plastic fan is now in several pieces on the inside of the dryer. The center, however, remains in tact and refuses to release it's hold on the motor!

My very favorite kind of hair clip - eaten by the dryer. You can't really tell just how twisted and gnarled it is. I still think it had something to do with Fred's death. We may never know.

I'll spare you the real pictures of the cut. Just know that he sliced it on the edge of the dryer casing. We should have gone to the Emergency Room for stitches but didn't. DJ will have one heck of a scar to prove that he's the best husband in the world!

On the phone with his dad. Sore from cutting his hand and frustrated that the dryer refuses to be fixed. It was closing in on midnight at this point so he's pretty exhausted as well! (He's still an amazing husband for all the hard work and for refusing to give up on Fred!)

The inside of the dryer now. Lots of tools and a stubborn motor. At this point, all I could think was, "I JUST CLEANED!"

As DJ was carrying the back panel from the living room to the garage, we noticed some burns. Looks like something dripped down the back of the dryer, combined with the heat and the lint and burned up. Maybe this was the reason for Fred's death and not my hair clip! The world may never know...

And that's where we left it last night when we finally fell into bed. I have two loads of clothes that are sopping wet and will travel to a friend's house later today. (Tara to the rescue!) We don't know what our next step will be. This morning, we were too tired to care. Anyone want to give us a couple hundred dollars for a new dryer? :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lessons from a year gone by...

I heard a talk show host talking about a month ago about something she had promised to do in 2010. She joked that it sounded so futuristic and way far off. "Sure I'll do that in 2010! I'll just zip over in my flying car and have my 3-D hologram robot take care of it for me!" 2010 seems very space-agey. Very distant future. When the world will have been obliterated by garbage and pollution and we will all live (and easily travel) in space. In fact, I think I recall a 6th grade school assignment to draw what the classroom would look like in 2010. I drew a room where I was the only student and a computer was my teacher. I got my lunch from a vending machine and a robot made my bed. I was sure we'd all be living solitary lives governed by technology. Good thing my prediction wasn't totally right! (I'm still waiting on the robot to make my bed...)
As 2009 came to a close and 2010 began, I started thinking. (Just like every good American should at this time of year!) So here is the grand result of my weeks of contemplation. OK - not weeks. Maybe several days. And by days I mean hours. And by hours I mean just a few minutes as I was doing the dishes. Regardless, here are the lessons I've learned from a year gone by:

1. I loved being engaged. It was tons of fun! The long distance relationship, mono, funeral, and back injury were not.
2. I love to plan.
3. Planning a wedding was fun. Being engaged was fun. Being married is better. Much better!
4. I like living in the same city with D.J.
5. Given enough time, a dog will find the hole you hope is invisible to them. Holes in the ground, holes in the fence - makes no difference. Find it they will!
6. Star Wars wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
7. I can cook!
8. I love to cook!
9. Reading cookbooks is actually fun - despite the hours of teasing I've dished out for others who had this love before me.
10. Feeling 16 kinds of crafty does NOT mean you can ignore your chores and paint.
11. Feeling crafty doesn't mean you have the money to do said crafts.
12. Moving is no fun. Decorating a house is.
13. New England is beautiful.
14. New England is cold.
15. New England is very different from Texas.
16. DJ turned out to be an amazing fiance'. He's an even more amazing husband!
17. Hormones do wonky things to you. You feel powerless to overcome said wonkiness. (Random side note: The spell checker recognizes "wonky" but not "wonkiness". Why?)
18. Changing the hormones changes the outlook you have on life. (One year, three different birth control pills, three very different reactions to pills.)
19. The Lord doesn't work on our time table.
20. The Lord is more amazing than I ever imagined. He continues to reveal Himself in more and more awesomeness.
21. If you hang a picture frame too high on the wall it looks funny.
22. Having a puppy is like what I imagine having a baby will be like.
23. Wanting a child and being prepared to raise a child for the rest of forever are two very different things.
24. Staying home is a lot tougher than I thought it would be.
25. Navy blue carpet shows grass more than tan carpet.
26. Painting the walls to match the curtains isn't always necessary. You can live with the non-matching if needed.
27. New Years Resolutions are pointless unless they're driven by a passion and a plan to change.

There you go - one lesson for every year of my life. (I'll be 27 in March, so I included it too!) I was going to do 2009 lessons, but that seemed a little extreme. I'll post about Christmas soon - I need time to upload pictures! Enjoy the harsh jolt back into normal life... :)