Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Successful Swap!

One of the things I have most enjoyed about blogging is "meeting" new people. I am a compulsive lurker. I get on a blog & then check out who is commenting & then I go to their blog & so it goes. In this way I have come across quite a few talented ladies. They really have it going on when it comes to crafting & cooking.

One day as I was trolling around blogland I came across this blog, My Girl Thursday. She sews, she casts resin, & she even bakes. And she has a lovely etsy shop.

And the fun thing is, I got to help her out! Which is surprising because I am not truly crafty. I can cross stitch & that is about it. What do you know, she needed a little cross stitching done. We traded some emails about what she needed & what compensation I would want & then I got to work.

She needed two phrases stitched out, "Mama Always Said..." & " Doll Face". I wrote out a pattern & stitched them up. Actually, I started stitching free hand & then realized I was no way near that good so I took all that work out, wrote out the pattern & then stitched up a storm.

This was the final product. She is going to frame them up in some embroidery hoops & use them in her display at the craft shows she sells at.

For my time we decided that one of her aprons would be a good swap. I have to tell you, I just love my apron! She uses vintage fabrics & this wonderful reversible style.

Try not to be distracted by my horrible photography skills & my pink t-shirt that doesn't match the apron at all. Just notice how cute the apron is *grin*

I think it was a tremendously successful swap of craftiness. I'd be willing to do it again in a heartbeat.

Take a moment to check out her blog, My Girl Thursday. There are links to her etsy shop & currently she is hosting a giveaway & holding a sale at her shop. There are tons of fun things to look at & you might even get inspired to do some Christmas shopping!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Lifesaver Recipe!

If you are like me, you try to make a plan for things. Especially things like meals. Since we don't have kids I'm sure you wonder how complicated could our schedules be? Right. I know. This should be the time of our married life where things are simple. I shouldn't feel like I have to get dinner quickly & cheaply. But I do.

I love to cook. I really enjoy trying out new recipes. What I don't enjoy is spending lots of extra money on food. I also do not like spending hours in the kitchen, whether I'm cooking or cleaning up. We don't have a dishwasher & I'm not so fond of soapy water that I want to have my hands in it for hours at a time. Mike & I also both work full time. Recently he's been off work because of his hand injury, but he's back on the time clock now & clocking overtime every day. The hours that we have in the evening to be together are the swiftest hours of the day so I am looking to streamline the whole dinner making process.

I have discovered a new recipe that fills me with glee - it's quick (only about 20 minutes from start to finish), it's fairly healthy (lean protein & veggies!), & it's adaptable (next time I going to try adding mushrooms & peppers & possibly switch in spinach for the broccoli).

Best of all, we actually liked it!

Broccoli Feta Frittata

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 onion, finely diced

2 cups chopped broccoli florets

Salt & Pepper

7 large eggs

3 oz. feta, crumbled

1. In an 8-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion & cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Toss in broccoli, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 6 minutes longer.

*I used a bag of the steam 'n go broccoli & cooked it in the microwave while I was sauteing the onions. It seemed to work really well & cut a few minutes off of the total cooking time.

2. Preheat broiler to high & set an oven rack 4 inches from the heat source. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs; season with additional salt & pepper. Pour eggs over vegetables, stir to combine, then dot surface with feta. Cook, without stirring, until eggs are set on bottom & beginning to set on top, about 5 minutes. Transfer pan to oven & broil until eggs are set & beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes. Cut into wedges & serve warm or at room temperature.

I got this recipe from All You magazine. It was quick, it was easy, it tasted good, & from the whole cooking process I only had one cutting board, one paring knife, one wooden spoon, one bowl, one whisk, & one skillet to wash. I'm thinking that's not too bad!

I'm sure I didn't do anything earth-shattering or Nobel Peace Prize deserving with my extra time, but that doesn't matter, does it?

Have a great weekend!

A Little Exotic Flavor

Every year there is a little exotic spice & flavor enjoyed here in my town for the good of a local charity. The event is called "The Taste of India" & I have had the opportunity to attend twice. Both times I was enthralled at the color, beauty, & the taste of the Indian culture. I'm not sure if it is just my eyes, but everything about their culture seems to have more color. Their clothing just sparkles & pops! The cuisine has almost an overload of flavor & their culture is diverse & intriguing. The event is comprised of a silent auction, a dance exposition, & a dinner. This year their efforts raised $17,000 for a local free health clinic.

These are my friends Rashmi & Sangita. They are a married couple. She was one of the pharmacists that I worked with when I had my second job. Rashmi is also a pharmacist & one of my friends is a technician at his store.

Rashmi is a fabulous dancer. He choreographed several of the dances that were showcased during the exhibition. They had no less than four different outfits that they wore while dancing. Of course they were all coordinating *grin*

Interesting tidbit about them: their marriage was arranged.

And they are a happy couple.

This is Whitney. She was another one of my coworkers at the second job. The last time Sangita went home to India Whitney asked if she could bring her a sari. This is the beautiful sari that Sangita brought back to her. I asked Whitney if she had trouble getting dressed in it. She said no but that when she arrived at the event Sangita said, "oh my, let me fix you," & then she proceeded to straighten out her sari *grin* I would have no idea how to get that thing on! but I think it is beautiful!

Here Sangita & Rashmi are dancing with a whole troupe & in this dance they use sticks. They strike their own sticks & then they strike the sticks of the other dancers.
I wonder, when they were first learning the dance did anyone get popped in the face with one of the sticks?
Or would that just be something that would happen to me?

This was a dance where they all had small scarves attached to their hands. Once again, the color & action was vastly entertaining.

The food was phenomenal. I'm very sad because I forgot to take a picture of it.

The Appetizers
Tandoori Chicken
Assorted Vegetable Pakora
Aloo Chaat Masala
Main Entrees
Lamb Curry
Frontier Chicken
Paneer Tikka Masala
Mixed Vegetable Curry
Dal Makhani
Jeera Rice Pulao
Papadam, Raita, Spicy Chutney
Gulab Jamun
Carrot Halwa
Vanilla Ice Cream
The food was all very, very good. I only had one thing that I didn't like, the mixed vegetable curry. It was good until I got one bite in my mouth that I promise you, tasted JUST LIKE A CHRISTMAS TREE! I have no idea what could have had such a strong taste of pine but it was ICK ICK ICK.
The very best, best, best thing was the dessert - surprise, surprise! The vanilla ice cream was served with this little round thing that looked a bit like a plum. I think it was the 'Gulab Jamun'. It was a biscuit type thing that had been soaked in some sweet kind of syrup. I could have eaten ten of them *grin*
It was a very fun evening - almost like visiting another world.
Thanks Darla for taking me along!

When the Frost Is On the Pumpkin...

According to the dollar store calendar that hangs by my desk (my mom puts one in my Christmas stocking every year), today is the first day of Autumn.

How on earth did that happen? Just yesterday I was rejoicing over the fact that there was daylight on my way to work.

Before I even knew what hit me the early morning daylight was gone. No more bike rides to work. No more turning the porch light off before I leave for the workday. No more wearing sunglasses on the way to work.

And just this week I realized that I can't take a bike ride after dinner because the sun was already setting.

Next thing you know, I'll be scraping the frost from my windshield every morning.

And then the real cold weather grumps will really set in!

Actually, I have been praying about this whole change-of-the-seasons thing. That may sound silly to you, but cold weather is a huge attitude challenge for me. Perhaps it's because I spent four years going to college in northern Wisconsin...perhaps it's because I'm a bit cold natured (massive understatement)...perhaps it's because I use a space heater & wear a sweatshirt every day of my working life...whatever the reason, I really dislike cold weather.

So I've been praying about it. Asking God to help me obey with little things like rejoicing always, trusting Him to know what is best for me & this lovely world He created, & being content. You know, just having a right spirit in my heart.

I've been mentally preparing a list of things about autumn that I can actually anticipate with a smile. Autumn is much easier to like than winter. When winter rolls around I'm going to have to work hard to make a list of things I can enjoy.

But for now, it's officially autumn & here is my list of happy autumn things:

Cooler weather to run in

Chilly evenings when I can stay inside & craft or read or watch tv or just do nothing without feeling like I have wasted time that I should have spent outside enjoying the lovely summer weather

Eating homemade soup


Candy corn

Fall festivals

Cold apple cider, sticky sweet donuts & a roaring campfire ~ an old family tradition that we observe at least once every fall! I actually have clipped an apple cider donut recipe that I want to give a try for our gathering this year.

A quiet house without the roar of the air conditioners

Tights & knee socks!

The beautiful changing colors in the leaves

Raking leaves

Beautiful, crisp, tart, yummy apples - to eat right off the core, to bake with, to make applesauce with...mmmm!

Pumpkins & mums on front porches

Getting ready for the upcoming holiday season: crafting, shopping, list making, dreaming...

Watching The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. No joke, my dad recorded this onto a VHS tape when I was a kid & the cable company gave a free preview of the Disney Channel. He pulls it out every year & we watch it all together. We are a super corny family, but we love our Ichabod Crane!

I feel better about the changing of the season already! I hope that you have your own little traditions & sweet things to anticipate. The Lord makes each season & time beautiful in it's own way, don't you think?*

*You can feel free to remind me that I said that when Old Man Winter is howling at my door! heehee!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Half Marathon #5!

I'm sure that by now you have lost all hope that I will post any details of the half-marathon that Beth & I ran in on September 11th.

Never fear - the whole story is here! In this very post!

The morning of the race dawned dreary & damp. It had rained cats & dogs during the night & was still sprinkling fairly heavily. I ate my pre-race breakfast of cereal, toast with peanut butter, & yogurt with a real feeling of dread. I don't like to run in the rain, let alone run 13 miles in the rain! I was imagining our clothes getting soggy & droopy - ick! I woke Mike up to tell him that if Beth wasn't coming to run with me I would probably crawl back in bed. I was being a total pansy. Beth got there & she was totally excited so that helped me out a bit. We were running a few minutes behind so we snapped this quick pic & headed out. We parked a couple of blocks from the start line so we kind of sprinted to get there. I noticed right away that I might have a problem. And I was irked. You see, I always make a point of never running a race in running clothes that haven't been worn many times during a training run. That way you should never be surprised by a clothing malfunction. More on this topic later.

The race began & I was excited to see that there were quite a few participants (a little over 300). I was a bit worried that there would only be like 50. That meant we could have been very close to last. I always hope for a big crowd because that means there will be lots of walkers. And even if we jog & walk we should always be able to stay in front of the walkers.

There's no shame in finishing last. I just don't want to do it.

Anyway, I have to tell you a little bit about my sister. She is a great running partner, especially on race day. I tend to get anxious & it goes straight to my gut. In order to keep from having some sort of terrible emergency during the race I numb myself out. The only thing bad about that is that I then can't really pump myself up when the going gets tough. Beth is just the opposite. She is pumped, full of adrenaline & ready to go. She is the best cheerleader in the world. I didn't think she was obnoxious at all until the last mile. And let's face it, by mile 13 I would have thought my sweet G-ma was obnoxious.

As we plugged along we gave a big cheer & pumped our fists at every mile marker. I'm sure the other runners thought we were a little nutty, but if it works to keep you going, you gotta do it!

I started noticing my wardrobe malfunction again at about mile 8. I had taken off my long sleeved t-shirt & tied it around my waist. We had run the first 7 miles solid without a walk break. As we neared mile 8 we had been running again for a little while. I could sense a definite movement south from my running capris. At the mile marker there was little crowd of spectators cheering us on. All I could see in my mind's eye was my capris hitting the deck tripping me & me falling pantless right at their feet - just like a scene from America's Funniest Videos. I told Beth we had to slow down & I conducted a major readjustment of my capris & retied my shirt tight like a belt. Thankfully the problem did not reoccur.

The rest of the race was fairly uneventful. It is a wonderful course that runs through town then goes onto a running/biking path that took us out into the country to finish at a family recreation center where they have hosted the college level cross country nationals. The rain had stopped but the sky remained overcast & the temperature was cool. Actually, the weather ended up being ideal for a long distance race.

Beth & I really tried to pour it on for our finish. The last half mile was off the road on the cross country course. Silly as it may seem, I've never run much in the grass. We had to adjust a little, but I think we finished respectably - 2 hours & 28 minutes. Not my fastest time, but not my slowest either. We were both really happy considering we had not trained very consistently.

Here we are after the race with Caleb & Maddie.

And yeah, I had to hold up my hand like that because I have now completed five half-marathons!