Monday, March 12, 2012

Pinteresting Experiments

So a couple of times this week I have worked on projects or recipes that I have seen on Pinterest. Here are the results:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
These cookies were purported to be the fluffiest, chewiest, BEST ever. I have had them pinned for a while now but it wasn't until Sunday that we actually made them. A friend brought them over as a thank you to Chance for helping them move. When we fell in love and asked for their secret family recipe, she replied, "Pinterest." I've been sick all weekend so Chance did the work on these.

They truly are the best cookies I have ever had. EVER! I can't wait until Chance makes them again!

Stain Remover

This was supposed to be the magic cure for yellow pit stains and it is supposed to be the "only stain remover you'll ever need." FAIL!!! 
Since it didn't work I'll spare you the pictures of our pit-stained shirts. I did everything it said. I tried it on three different shirts.

You guys saw that I already blogged about these but they were, technically, part of the Pinterest experiment.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This Recipe is Dynamite.

Napoleon. Dynamite.

I found this recipe for Napoleons on Pinterest and decided I had to try it right away.

Easy Strawberry Napoleon Recipe:
(Recipe from All Things Delicious)

1 sheet (half of a 17 oz. pkg) frozen puff pastry*
1 (3.4 oz) pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
1 c. milk
1 tsp. almond extract 1 c. whipped topping
2 c. stemmed and sliced strawberries
1/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw folded pastry sheet for 20 minutes. Open sheet and cut along folds to make three equal strips; halve each strip to make six rectangles. Space apart on baking sheet. Bake in center of oven about 15 minutes until well browned and baked through. Remove to rack to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk pudding mix, milk, and extract for 2 minutes; fold in whipped topping and blend thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate.

Carefully split each piece of pastry in half horizontally. Cover bottom halves with almonds, then pudding mixture and sliced strawberries, dividing equally. Cover with pastry tops. Dust with powdered sugar.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Question and Answer Session

Andi from Jane of All Crafts tagged me to answer some questions about myself. I can't possibly think of 11 questions to forward on to someone else so I won't ask anyone else to contribute. I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to answer questions from a blogger I so admire. 

**You must post the rules
**Answer the 11 questions that the tagger posted for you & then create 11 questions to ask the people you've tagged
**Tag 11 people and link them in your post
**Let them know you have tagged them

And now for my questions:

1. If you had to eat the same thing everyday for the rest of your life what would it be?
I truly do not believe that I can answer this question. I get bored of the same thing every day. In fact, I made lasagna last week and we had it for dinner 3 days in a row. By the 4th day I begged Chance to take me out to eat!
Even during the course of one meal I have to eat around the whole plate to cleanse my pallet. 
I'm an Idaho girl at heart though and I can do a lot with a potato!

2. If you woke up one day and were an animal, what type would you be?
When I initially read this question I assumed I would be something cuddly. I am a sucker for pictures of baby animals. Then I remembered when Jack Hanna came to Capitol Hill last year and I got to meet him and play with some cool animals, like this baby cheetah. I've decided to call him Charlie because he bit me and it was awesome. :) How cool would it be to be a baby cheetah who tours around with Jack Hanna?

Then I thought, I could be a Phoenix and hang out with Dumbledore!! I would definitely help out wizards and witches who were fighting against the Dark Lord!! Then of course, that made me think about being a Griffin! 
I can't leave out the Liger (or a movie quote just for you Andi!)
"It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lion and a tiger mixed ... bred for its skills in magic."

3. If you could pick any profession other then your current one, what would it be?
I would work in advertising. I constantly point out to Chance what tactics are being used in commercials. I notice who they are aimed at; I mull over the implications of time slots and such. For example, during Price is Right the commercials are all aimed at senior citizens. HoverRound, Medicare, Wilford Brimley telling you to check your blood sugar. It is all fascinating to me and I think I could have been really good at it. 

4. How many states have you visited?
First things first, I don't count a state if I have only had an airport layover there. So although I may have spent a couple hours in Chicago O'Hare airport I have never actually been to Illinois. (Something I hope to rectify this summer.) That being said:
I've lived in six. 
I've stayed over night in 18.
I have driven through 30. 
Below: On my honeymoon in Yellowstone. 2003. 

5. Ever been overseas? If not where do you dream of going?
I got my first passport last August and during our trip to St. Thomas USVI Chance and I hopped a ferry to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. I was as giddy as a school girl to get my first stamp. (A la Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping). Just looking at this picture makes me smile like an idiot.

I also took pictures of everything that said H.M. (Her Majesty's...)

I dream of going to the UK. I love all things British and can't wait to visit there one day. I have actually tried multiple times to convince my husband that we should move there. Just for a year or two. It would be SO much cheaper to travel around the rest of the world if we didn't have to cross the Atlantic every time! And all of our local friends would have British accents!!

6. If you had to choose, would you rather be an awesome dancer or an amazing singer?
Hmm. Dancer would mean I'd have a great body but singers are singers for life. Except poor Julie Andrews. Okay, yeah, singer it is. I sing all the time anyway! Chance would want me to sound like Jewel I think. I'd be okay with that. 

7. What is your favorite beverage? (alcoholic or non)
Oh man. I should tell you that I LOVE empty calories. Drinking water is a chore for me, so narrowing it down to just one is difficult. For the purpose of this question I will say Dr. Pepper. I love that perfect combination of 23 flavors. 
For those who are curious, other contenders are: YooHoo, Cherry Coke, Sparkling Cider, Grape Juice, Chance's Hot Chocolate, and all the Virgin Daquiris we had in St. Thomas. (There is just something about sipping a delicious smoothie type thing while sitting on the beach.)
8. What would your dream home look like?

9. What trait about yourself do you value most?
My sense of humor. I'm frickin' hilarious. Seriously though, a sense of humor can help you get through some of life's biggest challenges, especially if you can develop the ability to laugh at yourself. 

10. Have you ever tasted the rainbow? ;)
Heck yes I have. I have even chased a rainbow. Really. My sister-in-law, Charity, and I once drove through Rexburg, Idaho and we truly found the end of a rainbow. It landed in a potato field. Probably Yukon Golds. Hardy har har.  

11. Mac or PC?
PC. I'm not anti-Mac though. My husband has an iPhone which we both adore. I would love an iPad. I was truly saddened when Jobs died. I believe that he was a real revolutionary genius. In this same vein of thought: In looking at my blog stats I am always surprised at how many people use Internet Explorer and Firefox. I converted to Google Chrome years ago. I had it in my head that everyone else did too! Are all the Firefox users Mac owners? 

So class, what have we learned? Apparently I have commitment issues since I could only definitively answer like half of these questions. Thanks Andi for getting me to do a little introspection! If any of you have any other questions you'd like to ask go ahead and leave me a comment or send me an email. Also, I would LOVE to hear your answers to these questions. Just because I didn't tag anyone doesn't mean I'm not interested! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Shake and Bake Ranch Chicken

So I bought this box of Shake and Bake and on the back it gives a recipe idea. They suggest dipping your chicken breast in BBQ sauce before coating with S&B. I thought that sounded okay but what sounded even better was dipping it in Ranch! So, for the second time ever, I went off book and did my own thing. 

Step 1: Coat chicken in Ranch. I am loyal to Hidden Valley. I have tried others and they just don't measure up.

Step 2: Coat chicken in Shake and Bake. I have used brand name and generic. No big difference. At our local Target brand name is just as inexpensive.

Step 3: Line a cookie sheet with foil before placing chicken. I use Non-Stick foil first. It makes clean up SO easy.

Step 4: Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.
Step 5: Serve! I made mashed potatoes and green beans for the side dishes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's Cookin'?

 So, I recently discovered something amazing. Maybe I should start with a confession. I'm not a very good cook. I don't like cooking and so I am not very adventurous or willing to experiment. I cling to recipes like Linus does to his blankie. That being said, when I try something new in the kitchen it is a big deal to me. When I try something from my own imagination is an even bigger deal. So, this may seem like a "duh" moment for some of you, but if there is even one person who will benefit from this post then I will be happy.

I like to make pot roast in the crock pot at least once a month. It is a very traditional Sunday dinner that Chance and I both love. However, since it is just the two of us, we never eat it all in one meal.

I needed to find a way to efficiently use the leftovers, but by the next day the roast was SO dry. Just, ugh.
So, I threw a bunch of leftover roast in a pan and dumped in a can of beef broth. I let it simmer for a few minutes to absorb some of the moisture. Then, I moved all the beef to one side of the pan and sprinkled Wondra (ultra-fine flour for gravy and sauce) into the broth and stirred it continuously with my whisk. In about five minutes I had delicious roast with gravy. I was SO proud of myself. Chance was pretty darned impressed too. He even came into the kitchen a took a picture of my attempt at throwing caution to the wind!!

From now on I will also be contributing to a recipe blog with some of my friends. Check us out at The Kitchen Diaries. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Decor Rewind

Well, friends. I didn't craft any new Valentine's Day decor this year. I live in an apartment and we have run out of space to a) decorate and b) store stuff. So here is a reminder of what I have gracing the walls and flat surfaces in my home.

My Valentine's Day Blocks.

Even though I didn't craft anything new my amazing SIL, Chelsea, made us a great little sign. We intended to put it on our door but we like it so much we decided to keep in inside and hang it on the wall. Thanks Chels!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Emergency Preparedness: Make A Car Kit

A couple of years ago Costco sold some 72 hour kits. I bought 2, along with a first aid kit, that we always keep in the trunk. The first aid kit has come in handy more than once. We weren't on the road per se: the first time we were at the beach and the second time was at one of Chance's softball games.

Here is a picture of the contents of the survival kit.

I also assembled a kit for emergency car repairs.  We have jumper cables, a ratchet set, fuses, a couple of tools, a tire repair kit, and a flash light. (Not pictured: a delightful fleece blanket.)

Here is the little, out of the way, pocket where the kits normally reside.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Emergency Preparedness: Making an Office Kit

    Having an emergency supply kit is essential to making it through a disaster safely. You can either buy pre-assembled kits or create them for yourself.

    According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management you should have these essential items in your kit.

    Today I spent over an hour at Wal-Mart assembling the items for Chance's office bag. I also took a couple of minutes and got some pictures of the kits in our car (that will be in the next post).

    I used the contents of this kitplus this list, and a conversation with my man to help me decide what should go in the bag.

    I took pictures of the items in groups.
    Here we have a first aid kit $4.97
    Rain poncho $2.88
    Hand warmer $1.97
    Ice pack. The ice pack was purchased as a two pack to replace the one from our car ice pack.  I estimate that it cost me about $1 each.
    So these four items total: $10.82.  

    I went crazy in the camping department and found:
    a four pack of waterproof matches $1.88
    a two pack of luminescent sticks $2.26
    reflective stickers $2.88
    Water purification tablets $5.88
    and a sweet wind-up flashlight that is also an AM/FM radio and it has a siren! It came in at $19.88.
    These five items total: $32.78. The matches were a four pack so the rest are going into our home kit.

    Next, Chance wanted his to be in a small backpack, but it also needed to be small enough to fin unobtrusively under his desk.
    The backpack in an easy to spot red color was $7.00,
    a small sewing kit $1.47,
    a five pack of dust masks (the other four are going in the home kit) $1.00,
    Powder, in case his feet get drenched or something, $.97
    an emergency whistle that is also, get this: a compass, magnifier, and thermometer $3.88
    Last but not least, I found a Hobo Tool. It has a fork, knife, spoon, cork screw, an awl, a bottle opener, and can opener for $3.88!!
    Total cost: $18.20

    Food! All of the food and drink except the jerky and trail mix had left overs.
    Boxed juice: $2.78
    Water: $2.00
    Trail mix: $1.94
    Cheese and Crackers: $2.68
    Beef Jerky: $2.98
    Sweet and Salty Granola Bars: $2.98
    Total: $15.36
     In this photo you'll see Chance's spare glasses, hand sanitizer, lip balm, lotion, and sunglasses. We already owned all of this. Free!

    Finally, Chance wanted a change of clothes and a spare pair of tennis shoes. We discussed retiring his current pair of shoes but they're still too new. Yada yada yada, I bought him an inexpensive new outfit and tennis shoes specifically for the pack.

    The Braves beanie was already ours.
    The gloves are $7.00
    The shoes were $14.97
    I bought him a red t shirt for $3.25
    Jeans for $9.96
    I bought a six pack of socks and put one into the pack. At $5.50 for a six pack it means we spent $.91.
    Total: $36.09

    Grand total: $113.25

    You may not have noticed but I deliberately bought a red shirt, red rain poncho, and red backpack. I want my man to be easy to spot. :)

    So here's the thing. The pre-made kit I wanted to buy was only $45. However, it didn't have any of the clothing items, the food cannot have possible been as delicious, and there was no Hobo Tool set!! It's a HOBO TOOL set. Sounds awesome.

    Anyway, I realize that this is a lot of money to spend on something you hope you'll never use. I hope my little kit making journey helps you figure out if you should compile your own kit or buy one. Either way, having a kit will give you peace of mind and may end up  making all the difference some day.

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Emergency Preparedness: Getting Started

    Step 1: Find out what disaster risks are in your area
    Go here for a list of state/local FEMA offices.

    • Learn what types of disasters are likely to happen and how to prepare for each.
    • Identify what your community’s warning signals sound like and what to do if you hear them.
    Step 2: Create a Family Emergency Plan
    I found a great plan generator here.
    Virginia also has an online form to help you generate a plan. Check it out here.
    Basically, you need to consider what you would do in the event of an emergency. 

    • Discuss with your family the types of hazards and threats in your area and what to do in each case.
    • Make a list of important contact information and keep it with you at all times.
    • Decide on a meeting place in case you cannot return to your home, and know where you would go if you had to evacuate your area.
    • Collect information about the locations where your family members spend the most time (work, school, etc).
    • Record any medications your family members take on a daily basis.
    • Collect information for others you might need to contact in an emergency. ( For example, doctor, pharmacist, insurance.)

    Step 3: Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit
    Chance and I are creating one for the car, one for our home, and one for him to take to the office.
    Virginia has a list of recommended items for such a kit here.
    The third post in this series will focus on creating your kits. Stay tuned.

    *I started my research using my local church's website
    *This pdf helped me get the ball rolling. I also used a lot of the information from it in this post.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Emergency Preparedness: Why?

    Since living in Virginia Chance and I have had some serious adventures.

    1. Snowmageddon (aka Snowpocalypse)

    My honey trudging through the snow

    We were blissfully trapped in our apartment for a week. Thankfully, we had plenty of food and water. We have multiple friends in our apartment complex so we were all able to get out of the house for a while and share supplies if necessary. 

    2. The Earthquake of 2011
    I don't have any pictures because our apartment was unharmed by the quake. I was driving to Wal-Mart and didn't even feel it, but in the District it was a pretty big pain. Allow me to soap box for a moment.

    Westerners (especially Californians) have given us some flack about our reaction to the quake. After having lived in California, Washington, Idaho, Kansas, Georgia, and Virginia I have had occasion to experience most of the types of extreme weather. I lived through earthquakes and flash floods in California. I survived a tornado in Kansas that destroyed most of the town I lived in. In Idaho we know how to drive in the snow; in Georgia they don't, and they shouldn't be expected to. Roads in Idaho are straight and flat. Makes snow removal a ton easier. In Georgia roads are hilly and windy. That makes driving in it way more dangerous and snow removal heinous. Earthquakes are so common in California that they build roads and buildings to handle it. After experiencing extreme weather, however minor, people learn how to prepare and behave. If we were to have a tornado drill right now I would know exactly what to do. Would you?

    I guess my point is, let's be nice to each other. The earthquake was a big deal here. The National Cathedral, LDS Temple, and Washington Monument all sustained damage. The Monument is still closed. Buildings, roads, and people out here just aren't built to weather earthquakes the way they are out west.

    End soap box. Thank you.

    3. Hurricane Irene
    Again, we didn't personally have any problems due to Irene (except our flight to St. Thomas getting delayed.)
    We did, however, have friends who were without power. Also, people went nuts at the grocery store in preparation for the weather. You couldn't find anything, bread, milk, water. It was crazy.

    So, during two of these instances Chance and I had time to prepare. We were at home during the worst of the weather and we didn't have any real problems. During the earthquake I was in the car and Chance was at work. We had no warning. When it initially hit one of Chance's colleagues pondered aloud, "I wonder which building was bombed." That possibility is frighteningly real for us. Because of all these experiences I have decided to start researching Emergency Preparedness.


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