Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hodgepodge - January 2014 is ovahhh!!!!

Joyce has another round of questions for our hodgepodge this week. I think these are rather tricky. But maybe that is just the cold entering my brain and freezing it up?

1. It's been said that one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day. Do you think that's true? Do you find that an easy exercise most mornings? What's something positive you told yourself today? If you missed that boat, what's something positive you could tell yourself tomorrow?

I usually don't think right away in the morning (that sounds funny doesn't it?) But I do know if something positive is said or happens within the first hour of work the day seems good. So that would support this statement. I think I told myself I look good in the new sweater I put on. It had sparkles in it! That's got to brighten anyone's day, right ladies?

2. There will be karaoke at the next party you attend...are you in? Or will you be faking a sore throat?

I so want to karaoke but I've never done it in public. Only at home on the machine we bought Whitney years ago. And now that machine is gone. So no singing for me. Perhaps if I had a couple of drinks I would join in? I'm sure I wouldn't sound any better.

3. January 29th is National Puzzle Day...what's something you've found puzzling recently?

Why all the fuss about cold weather? It is winter people. This is what happens when we have mild winters for a few years and then wham we go back to normal or a little below. They call them averages because there are temps above and below the average. We are just in some below average times.

4. Jigsaw, crossword, acrostic, logic, sudoku, word search...what's your favorite kind of puzzle, and when did you last work one?

I used to do jigsaw puzzles a lot and I keep seeing people talk about them and I'm thinking I need to go buy one. I like the Charles Wysocki ones. I used to buy them on ebay. I also like sudoku. I used to do that all the time in books but now that I have an app for it, I just never think to do it.

5. Recently a writer by the name of Amy Glass ruffled feathers with a post she wrote saying she looks down on young women with husbands and kids and she's not sorry. Among other things, she says women will be equal with men when we stop saying house work and real work are equally important. You can read the whole piece by clicking here.

What say you? Do you think men and women are equal in the 21st century? Why or why not?

Well we've always been equal just nobody every treated each other that way. It does seem that she is a little extreme though. How about we treat each other equally civilized?

6. What's a product you've noticed in the grocery store that you'd like to try, but haven't yet?

Well the last product I wanted to try, I bought. Have you seen the Cheezit Grooves? I bought a box of white cheddar (ok) and cheddar ranch (delicious).

7. The author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was born this week in 1832 (January 27th). Which character from his celebrated novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, would you most like to meet, and why? Here's a link to a character list if you need help on this one.

I don't like Alice in Wonderland at all so I don't want to meet any of them. :)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I see where the A-Z Blog Challenge signups are up and running. I'm contemplating doing this again but I think to do it well you have to have a theme. I'm open to suggestions on a theme.

Monday, January 27, 2014

French Onion Soup

I saw this on The Chew Friday and couldn't stop thinking about it. So I made it. It ended up being super delicious and now I can't wait for the leftovers.

French Onion Soup
Courtesy of The Chew (Clinton Kelly)

2 pounds medium Yellow Onions (sliced)
1/2 bunch fresh Thyme (tied with kitchen twine) (I used 1/2 tsp dried)
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoons Salt
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Full-Bodied Red Wine
4 cups Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup Water
1 teaspoon Black Pepper

6 slices Baguette (1/2-inch slices)
1/2 pound Gruyere or mild Swiss Cheese (grated)
2 tablespoons Parmesan (grated)

In a heavy pot, cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, salt, olive oil and butter over moderate heat, for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are a deep caramel color. Add flour and stir, cook for about 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and black pepper and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When ready to serve, toast baguette slices. Preheat broiler. Remove bay leaves and thyme stems from soup. Ladle soup into oven-safe crocks or bowls. Top with toasted baguette slice, then grated gruyere, then grated parmesan. Broil until cheese bubbles and turns light golden brown.

NOTE: If you don’t have oven-safe crocks, you can make cheesy croutons. Place toasted baguette slices on a baking pan, top with both cheeses. Broil until cheese bubbles and turns light golden brown. Place one cheesy crouton on top of each bowl of soup.

Helpful Tips:
1. This recipe is best taken slow, so make sure to take your time in all the steps of the recipe.
2. In the crocks, make sure to leave enough room for the bread and cheese.
3. If you don’t have oven safe crocks, put the Baguettes with Cheese on a baking sheet and heat them in the oven, then add it to the soup.

I didn't cook the onions as long as the recipe (my pot was starting to get too much brown stuff on the bottom) and I don't have oven safe crocks. But let me tell you this was delicious and worth the crying I did slicing 2 pounds of onions.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Fragments - Who Knows What Edition For Me

I always wonder what to title these things. Seems blah to do the same thing every week. And I have no idea how many times I've participated in it so I can't write the edition. So thus is this week's title.

Thanks Mrs. 4444 for hosting.

Half-Past Kissin' Time

I ordered a space heater online since they are out of stock around here. I couldn't find my old one and picked one with a good rating. People did say it was loud but I thought how loud could it be. Yikes...loud enough I want to return it but would hardly get any money back since I have to pay for shipping. So I have it as far away from me in my office, which defeats some of the purpose of a space heater. Not sure how much heat is getting to me.

Stupid criminal this week is a man who police had been looking for quite awhile. They posted his picture on their facebook page asking for help finding him. He saw his picture and reposted the picture on facebook. The police found out, pretended to be a pretty girl who wanted to meet him and let's just say, the arrest was pretty easy after that.

I've successfully created an empty spot in the freezer over the last two weeks. I probably have one more week of just eating out of the freezer and buying minimally before I have to buy some meat. I like being thrifty.

My fingernails are so brittle this winter. I've never had problems like this. Every time I get them to grow just a little they break off. I think it is just too dry everywhere. I have a lot of static electricity hair looks going on too. Every time I go to the bathroom after I was my hands I put a just a damp hand on the front of my hair to calm it down. Doesn't work all the time but it is a start.

My office computer did not like the new anti-virus software that our university got. Basically it crashed my system. So after multiple tries of various fixes, the IT guy has to wipe the computer clean and start from scratch. These things seem to happen to me a lot.

I finally found a pair of loafers that fit my feet and go with jeans. This has been a quest of mine for years. I always end up wearing a pair of keds because my heel is so thin loafers and flats fall off. But DSW had a sale and I had earned some more money off and I got a pair of LifeStride for $18. Score one for me.
Just picture these in navy.

Our volunteer coordinator at work is so nice. She knows I like scarves and I wear a lot of purple so Sunday she gave me a gift of a scarf. That was just so nice of her. I wore it to work on Tuesday. I've never had an infinity scarf and this one has two sides so it is unusual.

And that's about it around these parts. Cold today but in the 60's over the weekend, then back in the 30's for the beginning of next week. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hodgepodge - Bowling Away

Joyce updated her blog and wrote good questions this week. Come join in with the rest of the gang answering the questions.

1. It was decided on Sunday the Denver Broncos will meet the Seattle Seahawks in this year's Superbowl. So when was the last time you bowled? Not where you thought this question was going is it? Do you like to bowl? Are you any good?

I think the last time I bowled was probably 15 years ago. The church we went to had six lanes in their activity center and we took Whitney there. I stay away from bowling mostly because of my bad shoulder. I'm afraid I'll damage it more. I remember when bowling was on Saturday's Wide World of Sports and it was so exciting to watch. Now I don't think it is on any channel.

2. Should sports stars be role models?

I think it is a given that anyone in the public eye is a role model. Now if they only accept that and decide to personally be a POSITIVE one instead of a negative one. That is up to them. And up to the parents to help a child choose good role models.

3. January is National Oatmeal month...are you a fan? How do you like your oats?

I like oatmeal. I tend to choose the lower sugar pre-made packets for a fast breakfast when I need one. But I keep seeing recipes for overnight oatmeal or slow cooker oatmeal that makes me want to try them.

4. What is one book on your reading list for 2014?

I just got a copy of Alicia Bien's Evolution of a Wine Drinker. I found Alicia during last year's A-Z Blog Challenge when she wrote about wine every single day. I loved her wit and insight. And then she wrote a book. She contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking if I would like a copy to review and I jumped at the chance. Expect to see my review in the next month. And check out her blog. New House Girl

5. What would you like your future self to say to your present self?

Keep having faith in God and his plans. He won't steer you wrong.

6. When scrolling through the TV guide, what is one movie title that makes you want to stop, grab the popcorn, and watch for a while?

There is a couple but I always have to stop at Ocean's Eleven. And really who wouldn't with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon gracing the screen. I'll skip over the cheesy acting by everyone but I still love to watch it.

7. What are two style trends you hope never come back into fashion?

Leg warmers and Daisy Duke shorts. Neither of those should have been invented in the first place.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Well the hunt for a space heater went online. I went to Walmart and Target over the weekend and there was only one and it wasn't what I wanted. They had already put all the ones on clearance because we all know it doesn't get cold in January. What's up with that? So thank goodness for the internet. Bought one with good ratings and having it shipped straight to work. Hopefully it will come before we get the cold blast later this week.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fragments - January is Half Over?

Wow, January is already half over? What's up with that?

Joining another edition of Friday Fragments with Mrs. 4444.

Half-Past Kissin' Time

My space heater has died. This is such sad news in my office because it is freaking cold in here. Sweaters help the upper body but do nothing to warm my feet. I refuse to have a blanket in here...that just looks silly.

I installed a new anti-virus software that the university was switching to and immediately the computer wouldn't work. It took a day for IT to come out and the only solution currently is to remove said new anti-virus software. Isn't that ironic? They hope that it is just my machine or maybe the type of machine instead of affecting the whole campus with this issue. I'm just so happy to be the guinea pig. :(

I'm trying to come up with a vegan meal to make when we have company. I've never cooked vegan. I could do vegetarian but the no eggs/milk/butter thing is killing all my ideas. I was going to make a pasta dish until Dan reminded me that pasta usually is made with eggs. Any suggestions?

I did get all the Christmas stuff put away after Whitney left. However I have not redecorated the house so there are lots of holes where stuff should be. 

Three day I need you. I've got so many plans and probably not enough time to do them all in. Lots of shopping and we are taking Mom to a concert on Sunday. And then she is taking us to dinner. 

This week has been use what we have in the house/freezer for dinner. So far I've done a good job (plus it is just me eating). Tonight is leftover lasagna. And I pulled a cooked turkey breast out of the freezer to make turkey enchiladas which I've been craving for quite awhile.

I stand by my prediction that Nina wins Top Chef. And I'm super happy that Seth Aaron won Project Runways Allstars (if my poor Christopher couldn't). Revenge is heating up and I'm two episodes behind in Person of Interest. I don't know why it takes me so long to watch them on the DVR because I like that show a lot. Anyone ever use nutritional yeast? They seem to like that one.

New cooking show to watch is Cook Your A$$ Off on HLN. Richard Blais (one of my favorite Top Chef contestants) hosts it. They try and show you how to cook healthy and are really cooking to win to help a particular person. You should catch it. I'm learning lots of stuff about nutrition. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


1. Are you a force to be reckoned with? In what way?

At work, heck yeah I am. In fact if people underestimate me, they are in for a mess of trouble.

2. What are two things you love about the wintertime? Or, if love feels like too strong a word, what are two things you 'like' about winter?

Christmas and fireplaces.

3. Pomegranate, kumquat, persimmon, kiwi, and guava are all fruits said to have health benefits, particularly during the winter months. Do you have a favorite on the list? Are there any on the list you haven't tried?

I've only had kiwi of the list and it's ok. Pomegranate only graces a martini...very seldom anymore. Not sure if I want to try any of them.

4. I passed a local church yesterday and noticed they had this on their outdoor sign- 'When all else fails, do the right thing.' Your thoughts?

Shouldn't that be our adage all the the right thing?

5. Do you ski? According to one list I've seen, the top 5 ski destinations for 2014 are-St. Anton Austria, Whistler Canada, Cortina Italy, Tahoe USA, and Zermatt Switzerland. Of the five listed, which would you most like to visit? We can make skiing optional if that helps the non-skiers with their answer.

I cross country skied one time when I lived in Wisconsin. Most of the snow had melted so we could only go around in circles in the school parking lot. I think I'm too old to learn how to ski now although it certainly looks exhilarating.

I've been to Whistler in the summer once. But I'd love to go to Switzerland. We have a researcher who is from there and just came back bringing chocolates!

6. What's the last thing you looked for online? (Besides my blog!)

A replacement fax machine for my boss. We have a few thermal imaging cartridges and he needs a new fax machine but it seems like they don't make the brand anymore. I really hope it will last until we use up these cartridges or else that is wasted money.

7. What saying, slogan, quote, or motto have you seen lately that inspires you for the new year?

I haven't been inspired at all. But I'm not really looking to be inspired so maybe that's it?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I've started cooking recipes from my new cookbooks. First one was from Michael Symon's 5 in 5. It ended up tasting good but wasn't pretty or looking anything like his. It was an egg in avocado that you fry. I never thought to cook an avocado but it turned out really tasty. He also made it on The Chew so you can follow the link to see what it should have looked like.

Have you tried the holiday M&M's? I got the red velvet ones and they are really good. Normally I'm disappointed with the other flavors but this one has me won over.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oak Alley Plantation

Ever since I was a little girl and watched Gone With the Wind, I've wanted to see a plantation. Let's face it, I was a sucker for the romance of it all. (Forgetting of course all the bad stuff). When we were in New Orleans we had the opportunity to visit one and I got to pick from several choices.

The one we went to was Oak Alley Plantation. And it had everything that you imagined the plantations of the 1800's to have.

The house was at the end of these majestic 300 year old oak trees (hence the name).

This is the view from the balcony looking out.

The tour was really nice. The tour guide shakes your hand and welcomes you to the home. They are dressed in period costumes. The house itself was decorated for Christmas.

They used this to fan the room. Someone would have to gently pull the rope to make it fan but not too much so the candles would blow out.

Isn't this how you picture a plantation?

This is how big the trees are.

They had recreated the slave quarters. What we appreciated was that they didn't gloss over the life of a slave but it wasn't a depressing tour. It was informative.

I recommend this tour if you are in the New Orleans area.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Fragments

Weekly installment hosted by Mrs. 4444. Always good way to end the week.

Half-Past Kissin' Time

A full week of work and I'm exhausted. I have so much to still catch up on at home and then work I feel as if I'm never going to come up for air. The house is still decorated for Christmas. I must at least put the tree away this weekend.

Whitney goes back to school on Sunday. She moved some of her stuff back into her dorm room today since she has to go to school to work. It is nice that she was able to work some during the break. Benefit of only living 40 minutes from school.

Stupid criminals this week are a pair of brothers who got into a knife fight over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They are roommates and one of them decided that the other one was eating too many of the PB&J sandwiches (six in one hour). Things escalated to knives and the police arrived to arrest them. Moral...Don't ever tell someone that they ate too many PB&J's.

Just a couple more Top Chefs before the season is over. I said from the beginning that I though Nina would win and I think I'm still right.

Project Runway Allstars ended last night. I must stop watching these shows. But then I saw where Tim Gunn has a new show next week and must watch that. 

Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees were announced this week and we had an excited household. Dan's favorite modern day player (Greg Maddux) was elected. We are thinking of actually going to the ceremony in July. We went the hall several years ago and it is an amazing museum. Even if you aren't a huge baseball fan and you find yourself in upper New York you should go.

I leave you with a photo of the bathroom door at one of the museums we went to in New Orleans. It looks like a Port-a-Potty but it really is a real bathroom behind the door. It was on the floor about Mardi Gras history so it wanted you to have a real feel. LOL.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mardi Gras World

Our first stop in New Orleans was Mardi Gras World. This is the place where they build some of the floats for all the parades. They were pretty busy working since it was 8 weeks until some of the parades.

You start off getting to dress up and take pictures with some of the props.

Then you go out and see where they make the floats. Most of them are actually paper mache over styrofoam and then painted. I was shocked at that. While you have a guide for a short time they let you spend as much time with the floats and props that you want. So we spent at least 45 minutes wandering around taking photos.

Those first three shots are from actual props that will be on this year's floats.

Then they warehouse everything they've ever made so they can reuse it. Talk about recycling! They have 15 warehouses of stuff.

They work with Universal Studios and Disney for some things.

At the ends in the gift shop there are a few of the elaborate costumes.

I highly recommend going to Mardi Gras World if you are in New Orleans. They will even come pick you up at your downtown hotel.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

First Hodgepodge of 2014 - Well For Me At Least

Thanks Joyce for your questions. Sorry I missed last week...they looked like great ones.

1. Every January 1st since 1976 Lake Superior University has published a list of words they'd like to see banished from the Queen's English. Words may be banished due to misuse, overuse or just general uselessness (go here to read more about how the words were chosen). Here are the words/phrases they'd like to see banished in 2014-

selfie, twerk/twerking, hashtag, Twittersphere, Mr. Mom, T-bone, ____on steroids, the suffixes-ageddon, and -pocalypse added to anything and everything, from the world of politics the words-intellectually/morally bankrupt and Obamacare, and from the world of sports the words-adversityand fan base

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add?

Selfie and Twerk are both high on my list of never hearing again. So I vote for both of them.

2. What one unfinished project nags at you begging to be completed in this new year?

I had wanted to get new kitchen counters that missed the cut last year. So this year I'm really going to do it.

3. When did you last have a bowl of soup? What kind? Homemade or from a can? What's your favorite soup?

Whitney made chili Monday night. So delicious and warming. I did buy some soups on sale this week so I bet I have some clam chowder for lunch this week.

My favorite soup would probably be homemade chicken noodle soup that Dan makes. He does such a good job.

4. Snowed in, snowed under, snow job...which one most applies to your life in recent days, figuratively speaking.

Snowed under. It always feels that way when the university is closed for a week and then you get back to work and feel like there are piles waiting to be plowed through.

5. What's the funniest movie you've ever seen, or at least one of the funniest?

This is a tough question. Maybe When Harry Met Sally but not sure others would say it is the funniest. But it has such fond memories that we quote from all the time.

6. In general, would you say you're clumsy?

I've gotten clumsier the older I've gotten. But overall I'm not that clumsy.

7. Elvis Presley was born on Hodgepodge Day (January 8th) back in 1935. Are you an Elvis fan? What's your favorite Elvis tune? If that's too hard, which Elvis tune do you dislike the least? Click here for a list of his songs.

I'm not an Elvis fan but if you are in Memphis you should visit Graceland. That was one well-done tour. My favorite song would have to be Viva Las Vegas only because I have a dance in my head to that song. And I always play it when I go to Vegas.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I spent Monday night helping Whitney write her cover letter for internship applications. 300 word limits are tough. And it is really hard to find a paid internship in marketing. I'm used to the science fields where you get paid for everything.

So if anyone knows of a marketing internship let me know. I've got a hard worker just waiting to get some different types of experience.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Fun Christmas Presents

I must have been a good girl in 2013 because I got some awesome presents.

I got wine and a cute sweater to keep the bottle cozy. Isn't the snowman the best?

My favorite Christmas cartoon duo in bobble head form. I didn't even know these existed but Dan scoured the internet for them.

My new mixer and one of two new cookbooks. She has really nice stories in it and the recipe for meatballs looks super delicious.

I just got it this weekend and haven't had time to go through it carefully but from what I've seen I want to make every single recipe. Yes it looks that good!

And of course more snowmen to add to my collection, this time in the form of flannel sheets. These are super comfy and who couldn't smile when you go to bed and see these guys waiting for you!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Friday Fragments - 2014 Version

Thank you Mrs. 4444 for starting off our year hosting Friday Fragments.

Half-Past Kissin' Time

What a football game last night. I was expecting it to be a blowout so I could go to bed at halftime, but NO it was an exciting down to the end kind of game. And we WON!!!!! We've got quite the happy town here and anytime you can beat Nick Saban is good in my book.

My space heater at work keeps fritzing out. I hope it isn't dying because I need it to survive the cold. I've had to unplug it for it to reset twice now and it sort of smells like burning dust. I must remember to clean it.

More New Orleans posts will go up next week. 

I have no idea when I'll get my Christmas stuff down. After being gone for a week and then going back to work, trying to get Whitney ready for internship applications and other general stuff, I think it will be February before it comes down. Yikes that is way too long...even for me.

My mother-in-law is coming up Saturday for a late Christmas. We are making lasagna because it seems warm, comforting and not complicated. Plus lots of leftovers.

I got a new KitchenAid mixer for Christmas and I need to break that baby out of the box and make something. Any suggestions for its christening?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Orleans Food

We took a short trip to New Orleans after Christmas. We went to a few neat places but I thought I would start with the food.

When you think of New Orleans, you think seafood. Our first stop was Domilisle's for shrimp poboys. Emeril Lagasse named it as his favorite so we figured we should go there. It is a non-descript building with a hand painted sign. We stood in line for 30 minutes and the line really wasn't very long (it was 2pm). They make everything to order and everyone seems to be ordering several sandwiches. There was only five tables there so we got out sandwiches to go.

There was a lot of shrimp on the sandwich. Overall it was fine but I didn't think the shrimp was cleaned very well.

Then the next stop you have to go to is Cafe du Munde for beignets (we don't drink coffee). It was raining that day but this place has a line way down the street. It was shorter because of the rain so we lucked out.

This is our plate before we dug in.

This is the plate after. Just look at all that powder sugar. These were extremely good and cheap. I recommend going here.

Of course you also have to get a daiquiri on Bourbon Street. My opinion of those haven't changed from the last time I was there...I'm not a fan.

We also went to the Gumbo Shop for gumbo...of course. I really liked the chicken and sausage one but ours is just as good.

We went to one other seafood restaurant for another shrimp poboy but it didn't knock my socks off.

We learned that we cook really good Cajun food.