Friday, December 31, 2010

What I didn't do this year

This was a tough year for us. There was a lot that I didn't do.
  • I didn't visit my parents enough, but they were understanding about it (and can any child ever visit their parent enough?).
  • I didn't scrap much, but I hope to do more next year.
  • I didn't lose any weight, but I didn't really gain weight either. I'm considering this two pound difference a temporary increase.
  • I didn't buy a new car, but I hope to next year.
  • I didn't lose it at work, even though we lost three people and will soon lose another.
  • I didn't lose it at home, even with the passing of my FIL and my accident.
  • I didn't buy a smart phone so I still have an incredibly cheap cell phone plan.
  • I didn't sign up for cable, FIOS, or Dish so that's still hundreds of dollars I'm not spending. I'm pretty sure we'll be the last people in the US to sign up for cable.
  • I didn't run up any credit card debt. Despite an increase in expenses and a decrease in income, we still managed to get by.
It wasn't an easy year, yet I am happy with how we dealt with it and how we got through the rough spots. I found strength (and vulnerability) I didn't know I had. I'm thankful for a loving and understanding husband and thoughtful and supportive friends and family. Thank you!

Wishing you a wonderful 2011! I hope that the new year brings permanent jobs, good health, happy families, and lots of love for you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marinated olives

I needed to take something to the department potluck and I wanted something easy. I signed up for an appetizer and decided to bring marinated artichoke hearts and marinated olives. The artichoke hearts came from a jar; the hard part of the prep was opening the jar. No, seriously, the lid was on so tight, it took us several tries to open the jar. As for the olives, I searched online and found several recipes, but either didn't have the right ingredients or thought the recipes were too complicated. Either my coworkers really like olives or I came up with a great recipe because I got lots of compliments from the cooks in the group. But really, how can you go wrong with garlic and olive oil? Here's my recipe (sorry, I don't have a photo).

1 can black olives
1 can green olives
Zest and juice from 1/2 of a medium lemon. The zest should be in strips.
2-3 short sprigs of thyme (the sprigs I had were about 4 inches long)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together. The olive oil/lemon juice should coat, but will not cover the olives. You may need to add a bit more olive oil.

Marinate overnight.

Serve cold or at room temperature. Add a few more sprigs of thyme for garnish.

Several recipes called for grated zest, but I thought that the peel was more attractive in strips. Also, I wanted the lemon flavor to be more subtle since I wasn't sure how the marinade would turn out.

Feel free to experiment with different herbs, vinegars, and olive oil.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Crafty enabler alert!

Thanks to my friend Holly (there's a link to her blog on the right), I found out some awesome sales via Check it out!

And here a code (SANTA25) for 25% off at your​scrapbookst​ That includes sale items.

We haven't hit the post holiday sales yet. I'm pretty sure by the time we get to the stores, we'll only find XSs and XLs left, neither of which fit us.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The best Christmas present

(Sorry, I don't have a picture, but maybe I'll get one later. Besides, a photo will spoil the surprise.)

We spent Christmas eve at BIL's and had a delicious dinner (I need to get the soup recipe from my SIL). Afterward, we opened presents or rather, we tried to hold back the kids from opening presents until everyone got in the room. Little G got awesome presents from Nana and Papa. A little birdie must have told them about his love of Star Wars Legos since he received both the Wii game and pajamas. After that, he was glued to the Wii for the rest of the night. As for the girls, Nana and Papa gave them strollers for their Bitty Babies and matching PJs. The girls were so cute with their matching jammies and matching Bitty Babies.

But the best present? The one that actually made the girls gasp? I'll take credit for that gift thankyouverymuch! We gave them Hello Kitty and Ni Hao Kai Lan band aids. Yes, band aids. And even funnier was at dinner, Miss C was complaining about an owie and SIL said they were out of band aids. So after opening her present, Miss C had Nana help her put a band aid on the bruise her leg. Later, Miss E bumped her head, but managed to put a band aid on her forehead all by herself, which made it all better. They both proudly showed off their owies the rest of the night.

Friday, December 10, 2010

My new drinking buddies

Several months ago, we were at a local museum and as usual, we ended the visit with a trip to museum store. I liked this coffee mug and when I saw the price, half off, I liked it even more! It was from a previous exhibit so I guess it was out with the old.

As soon as I started using my new mug, I fell in love with it. First of all, it is china, not ceramic, so it is lighter. Plus, since the material is thinner, the mug actually holds more than a ceramic mug that's the same diameter. More tea for me!

I wanted to go back and get some more mugs, but the museum is a little out of the way, plus there weren't any new exhibits we wanted to see. Finally, months later, we went back. But of course, there weren't any more mugs on the clearance shelf. Bummer! But wait! Mr. Fix-it spotted one lone mug on display with other mugs and also found one for himself. I think he's taken the title to heart.
But I don't think there's much of a likeness.

Friday, December 03, 2010


If you're tired of turkey and aren't quite ready for Christmas feasting, here are some links to interesting noodle dishes from some of my favorite food blogs:

I love handmade noodles; this blogger even included a video; I'm going to have to try this some day.

Here's another video on handmade noodles. I also like the shaved noodles.

I always order pad see ew when we go out for Thai food at lunch. Hey, I know it is a funny name, but it is tasty.

This post about sweet potato noodles was interesting, except for the pig intestines part.

La Fuji Mama (love the name) shows us how to make handmade undon noodles. I don't think I'm up to it.

Lest you think I only read Asian food blogs, here's a homey dish I want to try some day.

Hope you enjoyed this little recipe/blog round up.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

All shopped out

Maybe the reason we didn't shop this weekend is because I was tired of hunting for bargains after all the grocery shopping I did. In case you didn't know, the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas are great for stocking up on groceries. There are usually more coupons in the paper and there are also lots of sales. Combine the two and you can save lots of money on staples. I didn't do as well as I did during the great pasta stockpile of 2010 when I got everything for free or 50 cents/lb or less. But I did get salsa for free and chicken broth for 25 to 50 cents a can, and some canned soup for emergency meals (free). About half of that savings was coupons and the other half was store club member savings. I really dislike having to join store clubs just to save $, but if I don't join, I feel like I'm getting ripped off. I'm pretty sure I'm skewing their statistics because I buy my fruits and vegetables at other stores where the selection is better and cheaper.

My second trip to the store I didn't save quite as much, but on the other hand, I was running out of room in the pantry.
I'm sure there will be more great sales before Christmas so keep an eye out for the ads.

How we spent Black Friday

We slept in and avoided the crowds, although there were a few things I was interested in. Guess that means I saved some money, although there is always cybermonday to tempt me. Instead, we trimmed the trees at Mom's. Well, actually, Mr. Fix-it did the tree trimming. I did the raking and hauling. Guess we have to do what we're best at. We ended up with a pile about 3 feet high and 9 feet long.
Mom really appreciated it and I was so happy Mr. Fix-it didn't mind helping because I'd much rather he do the tree trimming than Mom (and yes, she would attempt to do it herself). And I think the neighborhood hummingbirds liked the pile since they kept flying around and perching on the pile.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


As most of you know, it has been a tough year for us. My beloved FIL left us and we're still reeling from that. And there was my car accident. And three people in my department left so we've been short-handed most of the year (and we were short-handed before that). With all that, I'd rank this as one of my worse years. But in other ways, it has been one of my best years. While I knew that family and friends cared and I don't think I took it for granted, I was still overwhelmed by all of the love and support we received this year. Your support and the support of our friends, family, and coworkers have given me the strength to face each day of this difficult year. I read comments, cards, and e-mails when they arrived and reread them numerous times since. Thank you.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving full of love and hope.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My idea of snow

The photo was more effective before the rain and wind blew away most of the petals.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My scrapbook haul

I was asked about my scrapbook haul from a recent warehouse sale and although I'm a bit embarrassed to share, I will. Why embarrassed? Because when you see it all, you'll see that I have no will power, sigh. First, I'll blame
Jennifer McGuire for these Tim Holtz dies. I'm not a huge altered art fan, but I love Jennifer's cards. And she loves Tim Holtz so there you have it. I thought I was doing pretty good to just get three dies. They were $8-10 each.
Then I'll blame my nieces for these. I just learned they like Hello Kitty so I thought I'd make them a Hello Kitty memory game for Christmas. I don't know what I'm going to do with the large dies, but they were only $5 each (how's that for justification?).
And then there's all this...

and this...

Did you know that Sizzix makes stamps? And those small dies? Some were $1.50, but others were only 25 cents each! Despite these great prices, I've pretty much blown my scrapping budget for the rest of the year. I don't think I'll be taking advantage of any black Friday scrapbook sales.

But wait, there's more! Opps, I just realized I left an embossing folder set out of the photos. Really, just one more, lol.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy belated birthday FIL

Sorry I missed your birthday last month. Well, I really didn't miss it, but I couldn't join Mr. Fix-it when he brought flowers to the cemetery since I was still at work. We discussed bringing flowers from the garden, but Mr. Fix-it ended up getting flowers from Trader Joes, just like you did for Mom. It was fitting somehow.

I just wanted to let you know how much we miss you. We miss talking about family and playing cards. I miss the old groceries you'd bring over and the weird things you picked up from the trash and the coupons. I miss hearing about how much you got from the recyclers and how it paid for your groceries for the week. I miss seeing you with your grandkids. And with the upcoming holidays, I know we'll miss you even more.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The hills are alive...

with the sound of music. Yesterday, I attended the Sound of Music singalong at a local theater. I convinced a friend to join me (Mr. Fix-it was thrilled he didn't have to join me, lol), convinced since she usually doesn't go out on a "school" night. It was quite a bit of fun, but I think not as much fun as attending a live orchestral performance. I'm hoping this becomes an annual event and becomes more interactive in addition to the singing (hissing at the baroness, flashlights when the Nazis use theirs).

By the way, if you're a fan, Oprah is having a Sound of Music reunion. Depending on where you are, that episode is playing on Thursday or Friday. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I reorganized our spices. I bought shelves at the Container Store and wondered if I would fill the shelves. Looks like there wasn't a problem with that. In fact, I had to transfer some spices to smaller jars so I could fit everything in and stack some of the smaller jars. I'm thrilled that everything is alphabetized and even better, stays alphabetized. Now Mr. Fix-it puts the spices back in order rather than wherever there is an empty space.Scrapbookers, I've seen a few photos where scrapbookers used the shelves to organize their stamps or Stickles.

Friday, October 22, 2010


This is what Google told me a couple months ago:
Now they'll telling my they don't support my brower. Think I need to upgrade?

(Unfortunately, I can't upgrade the browser on that particular computer for various reasons.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Panic in the pantry

A few months ago, I checked our cupboards and we were down to two jars of pasta sauce (my go-to meal when I don't feel like cooking) and (gasp!) no pasta. How could an Italian run out of pasta? No, I'm not Italian, but I happen to be married to one.

Here's how an Italian runs out of pasta: when I ask Mr. Fix-it to choose a pasta for dinner, but he doesn't tell me he opened the last box, that's how. Plus it hasn't been on sale for a while. You know I can't pay full price for pasta (for anything really).

But now the pasta crisis is over. Sales + coupons = awesome savings. I'm not such a good couponer that I got all this for free, but anytime I can get pasta for 50 cents (or less) a pound, I'm happy.
That's the shaped pasta. That shelf is now full. The spaghetti-type pasta is stored in a different cupboard:
I think we're set for a while, especially since I bought a few more boxes since I took those photos. Now I'm panicking about where I can store all of this, especially since I've also stocked up on pasta sauce.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October garden

I was thrilled to see my Frequent Flyer iris blooming again. And I'm still getting roses, although they don't seem to last as long as they did this summer.
Lest you think I've got a green thumb or am some sort of gardening wizard, I've got a lot of these too:

Friday, October 15, 2010


Mr. Fix-it has been under the weather this week and I think he shared it with me. Must be love, eh? So I made some soup tonight with some homemade broth and mirepoix, plus some frozen veggies and pastina. Good thing I have a well stocked freezer and pantry.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More evidence that I'm a Luddite

We had a little celebration at work in honor of a coworker's upcoming nuptial. I was one of the organizers and got the last-minute suggestion of having some wedding music in the background, probably prompted by my email subject line of "going to the chapel." Hmmm, great idea, but we're all swamped with work (the day of the celebration was carefully selected to avoid clashing with any deadlines) and there was no way I was going to ask anyone to compile a collection.

But wait! I just happened to have a CD compilation of love songs. Yes, a CD, not a collection on an iPod. And no time to ask anyone to convert the CD to MP3s. No time to ask anyone if they had an MP3 collection or an iPod w/speakers. So I brought in my boombox, put the CD on continuous, enjoyed the party. Sometimes being a Luddite works.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Table for one

I finally understand when singles say that they hate to cook for themselves. When I was single, I didn't mind. But maybe it was because I knew I didn't have a choice since I couldn't afford to go out to eat.

Mr. Fix-it was (is) gone for a week and I really struggled with what to eat. The fridge was pretty empty and I didn't feel like grocery shopping and I didn't feel like cooking either (long days at the office will do that to you). I ended up buying a two-item combination Chinese take out because I knew I could stretch that into a couple of dinners and lunches with the addition of more rice and vegetables. We got lunch at work two days this week; otherwise the Chinese food wouldn't have lasted so long and I would have had to think more about food. Here's what I ended up eating.

Day 1: Bunco, so no need to think about food (thank goodness!).
Day 2: Made an omelet and took half for lunch the next day.
Day 3: Bought Chinese takeout.
Day 4: Leftover Chinese takeout.
Day 5: Made potato broccoli chowder and had a friend over (having company was so motivating).
Day 6: Turkey sandwich.
Day 7: The last of the Chinese takeout. I actually bought lunch at work intending to eat it for dinner, but I decided I should finish the older food in the fridge first.

Thank goodness Mr. Fix-it is coming home tonight. I think we'll have homemade spaghetti sauce.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Happy World Card Making Day!

Yes, there is a day for everything, lol. I don't think I'll be crafting today, but I do have some cards to share with you. I made these in August to send to some friends who were doing the Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk for a Cure.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Broccoli Potato Chowder

This isn't an exact recipe; rather, it is something I threw together to use up some veggies. The soup ended up being extremely thick. We liked it, but I think it would be too thick for more people. Feel free to adjust to suit your tastes (including adding more bacon, cream, or cheese).

2 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
olive oil, optional
6-8 small potatoes, diced (I used russets)
2 broccoli crowns, chopped
3 cups of water (or broth for more flavor)
1 cup half and half
4 oz shredded cheese (feel free to add more)
garlic power, salt, pepper to taste

1. Brown bacon and onion. Add a bit of olive oil for flavor or if the bacon isn't rendering enough fat.
2. Add the potatoes and water. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked.
3. Add the broccoli. Continue simmering until the broccoli is cooked.
4. Add the half and half and seasonings to taste.
5. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
6. Add the cheese; stir until it is melted. Adjust the seasonings if needed.

Makes about 3 quarts.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My new favorite

I recently was gifted a new cooking pot, something I had been coveting for years, but was too cheap to buy myself. This is the 3 1/2 quart version, and now I'm lusting after the 7 1/4 quart version. Or maybe I should dream big and get the 13 1/4 version like my friend S has. Not that I'd be able to lift it, lol.

I've been keeping the pot on the stove because 1) I'm using the pot a couple times a weeks so why put it away, 2) It looks pretty on the stove, and 3) I don't have room in the cupboard to keep store it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

No more brown bagging it

Got myself a new lunch bag. I've been coveting these Built bags for quite a while and when I saw this one for sale, along with a turquoise version, I couldn't resist.

I had been using a Lean Cuisine/Susan G. Komen lunch bag (it looks like they aren't selling them this year), a gift from my friend V for a few years and was ready for a change.

I like how the bag squishes down when it's empty. My coworker throws hers in the washing machine every once in a while so I know they're easy to clean.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Free Museum Day

Check it out! You still have time to get tickets for tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fancy fingers

My SIL talked me into my first mani/pedi. I thought it was an interesting experience...I think I'll have to repeat it some day. My nails never looked so good. I thought it interesting that the guys in the office noticed my nails first and made more comments than the women (note that there are 3X more women than men in my group).

But I was disappointed that the manicure only lasted 10 days. After a week, there were tiny chips. This is they looked like after a few hours of scrubbing in the kitchen. I did wear gloves and I was trying to be careful. Oh well. The pedi is still going strong though.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My fashion statement

I was going to title this post, "I am not a terr----t," but I thought in today's political climate, that would be asking for trouble. So how are the titles related? Well, I'll taken to wearing a scarf to cover the lower half of my face on my drive home. The sun shines in at just the wrong angle and I want to protect my skin while it is healing. The heat irritates my skin, plus I want to prevent hyperpigmentation. I'm surprised I haven't gotten any stares. My carpooler said I should pretend I was holding a gun on her. Maybe that would get someone's attention. Yeah, bad idea. But it was kinda funny when she said it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm turning into a vampire

Good thing vampires are popular nowadays, lol. The ER doctor emphasized that I needed to keep out of the sun to prevent hyperpigmentation on my facial scars so I've been very careful about avoiding the sun. I've been out of the house three times since the accident five days ago. My "travels" have been to accompany Mr. Fix-it to his dad's. That was at dusk, but I still wore a hat and carried an umbrella. Then once to the doctor's and then this morning to the store because I needed some more bacitracin. It was overcast this morning so we rushed to the store before the sun came out. I look like one of those immigrant Asian ladies with my hat and umbrella. Guess they knew something about protecting their skin, eh?

And I wonder what the neighbors are thinking. On a couple windows, we only have valences, no shades or curtains. So I threw on towels over the valences to block the sun. Really classy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Not Mrs. Kravitz

I've been home all week recovering from the auto accident (I'm okay, the car isn't, don't wanna talk about it) and I'm obviously not spending enough time peeking out the front window. I haven't noticed anything funny going on. Didn't even notice which neighbors went to work and which didn't. Haven't seen the new neighbor kitty-corner to us. I assume he bought the house, but he's never there. Haven't noticed kids walking to school; maybe they're all grown up and I haven't noticed?

But yesterday, I noticed some trucks pull up to the house kitty-corner to us in the opposite direction. Hmmm, what was going on? I wasn't brave enough to walk across the street to ask what was going on. The house is for sale, but I thought it had been emptied earlier. Unfortunately, there was only so much dishwashing I could do so I went to the living room to rest. By the time I went back to the kitchen, the trucks were gone so I have no idea what they took out of the house.

Then this morning, a little more excitement! It was street cleaning day and another neighbor parked their car in the for-sale house's driveway. Surprise! The trucks came back. Hmmmm. I wasn't 100% positive which neighbor's car it was, but I had an idea so I went to their house. Unfortunately, they did not open their door dispite their dogs barking and waking up everyone in the house. Yes, it was early, but not that early. The people w/the trucks saw me, but I did not talk to them (I was feeling a bit ugly/shy since I hadn't showered yet and the accident and all). A little later, I heard the neighbor's dogs going crazy again and it turns out the driver had gone to the neighbor's to ask about the car. Darn, another opportunity lost! Now I'll never find out what's going on with that house.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Leftover cornbread, warmed in the microwave and covered in half and half. I would have used milk but we didn't have any. And I resisted pouring maple syrup on top. So this was the semi-healthy version, lol. On the other hand, since when is dessert supposed to be healthy?

Are your kids driving you crazy this summer?

If you're looking for activities for early elementary or younger kids, check out Angie's Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places. She's got the e-book on sale for 50% off right now. And if you want to see what I thought of her book, check out my review.


The usual summer spike in prices hasn't been too bad this year.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vegetable tart

We made a veggie tart (aka crustless quiche) to take over to Uncle J and Aunt T's last weekend. I wanted to bring something that could be eaten at room temperature and was inspired by the yellow squash and zucchini from the garden. As usual, we didn't use a recipe, but here's my best recollection as to what was included.

4 medium yellow squash or zucchini
1/2 onion, finely chopped
olive oil
5 eggs
3.5-4 oz shredded cheese (about 1/2 package of pre-shredded cheese, we used cheddar-jack because that's what we had on hand)
powdered garlic
1/2 cup bread crumbs
optional: asparagus

Topping: mix together 1/4 cup bread crumbs and 1/4 cup finely shredded cheese

1. Grease a 9x13 pan.
2. Partially cook the asparagus for the top (we used the microwave).
3. Thinly slice the squash (we used a mandolin) and the asparagus.
4. Saute the onion and squash in the olive oil until the squash is partly cooked. If there is a lot of liquid in the pan, cook a little longer to cook off the liquid. Add the sliced asparagus and cook for another minute.
5. Add the eggs. You could scramble them first, but I just scrambled them in the pan w/the squash.
6. Add the cheese, bread crumbs, and spices, then pour the mixture into the greased 9x13 pan.
7. Top w/the asparagus, then top w/the cheese and bread crumbs.
8. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes or until egg is set. You could broil this for a minute or so if the top needs more color.

Can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

My mom used to make this all the time, but included sausage. I bet it would be good with bacon and/or Italian spices.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wedding card

I made a wedding card for a coworker last week. I was hoping to get by with the supplies I had on hand (because you know I've got enough to open a small store), but ended up buying a couple of things anyway. Thank goodness I had a 25% off coupon. I ended up buying the bling since I couldn't find the black Prima bling that I know I have (but I was planning on using it on a layout anyway).
I was so proud of myself for stamping the sentiment (even if it did smear a bit). I suppose that blue and black aren't traditional wedding colors, but her invitations were blue and white and I didn't have any white transparencies so I went with blue and black. Oh, and since she's Catholic, I figured she would be okay with the bible verse.

supplies: Mulberry cardstock, Creative Imagination transparency, Zva and Kaisercraft rhinestones, satin ribbon, Boxer stamps, Catseye ink, Fiskars border punch

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Crockpot before and after

I know you're not supposed to fill the crockpot all the way to the top, but why make soup unless you're making a lot? The before picture doesn't show it all; I carefully added some turkey broth/meat too. The after picture also doesn't show the whole truth. I had taken out a bowl of soup before taking the photo (hey, I was hungry). I also added some orzo, but that was cooked on the stove and added separately to the individual bowls of soup. The leftovers are also stored separately in the frig. I don't want the pasta to absorb all the broth overnight.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Christmas in July

(most of) our haul from our annual trek to the Hallmark store. I am a bit amused that Mr. Fix-it collects more ornaments than I do. Although I am considering starting a new collection. Unfortunately, I won't be able to see that ornament in person until October. Yet another opportunity for Hallmark to get more of my money. Although some might think they have enough of my money since I've been collecting the Nostalgic Houses and Shops series for 27 years.

Friday, July 09, 2010

She said what, when??

For those of you who subscribe to this blog via a reader, I will be back-dating several posts since I like to keep posts in the order they occurred. Just wanted to give you a heads up so you're not confused.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I've been in a scrapbooking rut, no mojo, no motivation. But a recent trip to JoAnn's helped. This kraft cardstock was 50% off, plus I had a 10% off coupon, which would cover the tax. I've been wanting to work with kraft cardstock (and I have some on order w/SU, oh well) and thought this would be a cheap way to try it. I was pleasantly surprised by the weight of the paper. It will be interesting to compare it to the SU paper, which is three times the cost.

Here's the card I made from the cardstock and scraps (and I already sent it to a friend).Bazzill, CM, and no name cardstock, KI and Current (remember them?) patterned paper, Kaisercraft pearls, Catseye ink, Technique Tuesday stamp, CM punch, Cuttlebug embossing folders

Monday, July 05, 2010

Today's harvest

It might not look like much, but this is the second squash I harvested and I'm so excited about that! Usually, my squash plants die or the squash rots before I can harvest anything. And I've three more squash (squashes?) that should be ready to pick in a few days.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th!

This is one of my favorite tee shirts. I wasn't thinking this morning and put on something else, but then I remembered the day and pulled out this shirt. I figured I should at least dress in the right colors for the day. This is a long-lived shirt with lots of memories. If you wear something only once a year, it is bound to last a little longer than usual.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Summer sandwich

A quick dinner made with ingredients we had on hand: toasted submarine sandwich bread, ricotta cheese, roma tomatoes, basil, marinated artichoke hearts, red onion, fresh ground pepper. No dressing/mayo was needed. So fresh and yummy...and fast!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Double whammy

The guys have been working on cleaning out FIL’s house for the past few weeks. It has been slow going and painful. I think if you’ve never had to clean out someone’s house, especially a packrat who liked to dumpster dive, you can’t understand how difficult it is. And if you have packrat tendencies yourself, it is even more difficult. And if you can't figure out the value of something, either monetary or sentimental, and your siblings can't either, well, back to the slow and painful.

At the same time, I've been "forced" to clean things up at home since we're getting a couple pieces of furniture. First, I gotta clear out a spot for them. Then I have to clear out a path to that spot. Or maybe I need to do that in the reverse order. No, I'm not as bad as that hoarders show, which I've never seen since we don't have cable because it is too expensive and we watch too much TV anyways and yes I'm going off on a tangent or two. Yes, I have lots of stuff, all valuable I'm sure. I did manage to part with some of my precious Tupperware collection, only because I've recently become convinced that glass containers are better (now I've started a jar collection). I found letters from J, Uncle T, and even, unfortunately, cards that I addressed and stamped, but never sent.

It has been difficult for me to see FIL's house being emptied and stressful trying to straighten up my own house at the same time. Somehow, I don't have a problem getting rid of his phone bills from ten years ago or appointment cards or junk mail that was made to look like it is from the government. But my own stuff? I finally got rid of checks from the 80s and the 46 cover letters from 1992 (even though the recession was officially over in 1991, no one was hiring in 1992. Anyone who is job hunting now has my sympathies). And the letter disputing a credit issue that was about 25 years old is gone. You should have seen the cute stationery I typed it on (yes, typed).

Add all that to stressful week at work and I've been in tears all week. I guess it really has been a triple whammy. Thank goodness Monday is a holiday. Hopefully an extra day off will bring some much needed rest.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Garden update

Over the past few years, I've decreased my garden efforts and it shows with the abundance of weeds and the lack of produce. I used to run out of room for planting. I had so much produce, even with sharing with family and freezing some, I'd still bring in basketfuls of tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans to the office. Now? I'm lucky if I have enough for us.

This year hasn't been any better. I have two tomato plants, both from the nursery, not from seed. Only two, not six or eight. No cucumbers yet. Finally got some basil...from plants, not seeds. I don't have good luck growing basil from seed.
I also don't have much luck with squash. I was thrilled to see some flowers on my yellow squash. You know how people warn you not to plant too many zucchini plants? I have to plant lots because mine usually die. Of course, this year I've got four going strong. Hope I didn't just jinx myself.
And this thrills me most of all. It took forever for my string beans to sprout and then it took another forever for them to grow. They're looking rather sickly, but hopefully will still produce.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's for lunch today?

As many of you know, my favorite lunch is leftovers. I'm not big on taking sandwiches to work (although I don't mind eating them freshly made) and prefer a hot lunch to a cold lunch. So last night, I packed up some leftover chicken and rice and topped it off with some cabbage that I had stir-fried. The rest of the cabbage went into another Tupperware container.

As usual, my coworkers went out to lunch and of course they invited me and of course I declined since I had my lunch. I decided to spend my lunch time surfing the net so after I heated up my lunch, I came back to my desk and started some mindless browsing. I'm eating, not really thinking, eating some more, wondering where the chicken and rice are...and you know where this is going, right? Yep, brought the wrong container to work. So I had to go downstairs to get something else for lunch since I didn't think a lunch of just cabbage was very appetizing or filling. Sigh. On a brighter note, at least I know I have lunch prepped for tomorrow.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I joined Swagbucks

Hopefully, I'll earn a few giftcards from this. If you'd like to join in on the fun, click on the link in the upper right. Theoretically, I should get a bonus if you join via the link. I hope so, lol. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

It was a profitable weekend

First, a trip to Target, where I bought two items for $2.99, used two $1 coupons, and got a $5 gift card in return. Even with tax, this was a small moneymaker. And then I won big at bunco. Even if I didn't win big, I still would have enjoyed seeing everyone. And then dinner with family on Sunday. Any meal I don't have to cook is a winner in my book. And time w/family? Priceless!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places

Sometime being an aunt is hard. I don't have the patience of a mom and I'm just not used to kids since I'm not around them that often. That's one reason I enjoy reading the blog Many Little Blessings. Angie writes about everything from crafts to going green to family/kids and sometimes all these at once! I'm always interested in posts about her kids and their activities since her kids are a bit older than my youngest nieces/nephew. While I don't get to babysit as often as I would like, I'm always on the lookout for activities we can do together.

That's why when Angie announced her book, Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places, I was so excited for her and for me. Angie has a Master's degree in Special Education and does in-home therapy for young children. According to Angie, this book
was written as a reaction to comments that many of the families that I see doing in-home therapy have said. I often bring toys for the children to play with while we’re working, and many families have said things like, “I need to get something like (that toy)” or “You have all the cool toys.” I wanted to show those families that there are so many activities that can be done with just objects in and around their own houses. So, I wrote this book with them in mind. (I am giving the books, one section at a time, to those families at no charge.)
This 58-page e-book has over 200 activities to keep any child busy using common (and inexpensive) household items. The book is organized by props including such items as lids, poker chips, and blankets. While I don't have any poker chips, I do have other things I can use for the activities. See, she's already got me thinking! Given Angie's background, I'm confident the activities she's given will be fun and educational.

What I liked:
* In addition to the fun ideas, Angie noted the benefits such as hand-eye coordination or if the activity might not be appropriate for a child (for example, child with sensory defensiveness).
* Well organized.
* A list of her favorite books for toddlers and preschoolers. While I am familiar with most of them, there are a few that are new to me.
* The PDF format, which is low cost and easy to browse, but allows me to print out pages if I want hard copy.

What I would have liked:
* More details on which activities would be appropriate for what ages or age range (as a non-mom, I'm not sure what activities would be best/appropriate for a two year old or a four year old or a six year old).
* An index (but I'm old school that way).

You can purchase a copy of Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places at Many Little Blessings for $7.50 US. Through the end of this month (May 2010), you can get a 20% discount by using this code: Scrapbook20.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. I was not paid for this review nor received any other compensation.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Almost empty

Somehow, our fridge got emptied. Must have something to do with not having any time to grocery shop. Or being on vacation for a couple of days. I'm in charge of grocery shopping/cooking and made sure Mr. Fix-it had lots of leftovers to consume before I left. Although he did manage to buy some gelato for dessert. Other than than what you see, we've been eating from the freezer. I even resorted to going out to lunch TWICE this week. The good news is I was inspired to clean all the shelves and drawers since they were almost empty. It's something I do once every other year.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Those young whipper snappers don't know everything

At a recent garage sale, we overheard some teenagers trying to figure out some technology. The technology wasn't that old, after all, I used one growing up and mom still has one in her house. What was it that had those kids befuddled? A telephone. A rotary phone to be exact. One kid was pressing the numbers and the other kid had to show him how the turn the dial. How quaint! (my words, not theirs)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The good fat

I made chicken stock a couple weeks ago and now the freezer is full. I'm well stocked (ha! ha!) for soup this summer. Since FIL's freezer was almost empty, I took some over there to store. Since a full freezer works more efficiently than an empty freezer, it is a win-win, right? (Although I didn't make that much stock.) I also added a bunch of ice blocks so now the freezer is about half full.

Before I froze the stock, I skimmed the fat off and instead of throwing it away, I stored it in a little bowl in the fridge (just like mom, although I remember mom leaving it on the stove). The next few times I sauted vegetables, I added a bit of the fat for flavor. Yummo! I think Mr. Fix-it appreciated the extra flavor, but I wonder what's worse for you, chicken fat or butter?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Unfortunately, I'm not spending it w/my mom, but I did send her a card (I think I'm required to send handmade cards, no more Hallmark for Mom, lol) and called her this morning. I think she knows how much I miss being w/her, even if we get on each other's nerves if we spend too much time together.

We also took flowers to MIL at the cemetery (and also wanted to make sure the year was added to FIL's tombstone since it turns out that wasn't paid for even though we thought it was). Even at 9:30 in the morning, the cemetery was crowded and they had three security guys directing traffic. I would have taken a picture of the flowers and posted it, but I didn't want to weird Mr. Fix-it out, nor any of my readers. Suffice to say they are pretty and MIL/FIL would be happy we got them from Trader Joe's since they seem to have the best price on cut flowers bouquets.

I'm not sure if we will be taking flowers to FIL/MIL on a regular basis. We stopped taking flowers to MIL because FIL took flowers every week and it a little frustrating to bring flowers and then not have any place for them. Mr. Fix-it really isn't a flower kind of guy (since I don't get flowers even once a year), but I was brought up to regularly bring flowers to the cemetery. I suspect we won't be taking flowers very often, though I will feel guilty about that. (As I always say, guilt, the gift that keeps on giving.)

Give your mom a hug or call or thought today. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Tales from the trash heap

I can't believe it has been a month since FIL left us. Some days, it feels like it just happened and sometimes it feels like it has been months. (Lest you think I'm being disrespectful with the title of this post, please keep reading.) This past Sunday, a neighbor left a note at FIL's house. It turns out, FIL would stop by his house regularly to pick up recyclables, even after the city changed to the giant automated pickup cans, and they missed him. I made the slightly uncomfortable call and spoke with the wife. She was very sweet and talked about how FIL regularly stopped by their house for years; they would leave recyclables by the side of the house just for him. She asked when FIL passed away. That was when it hit me that it had been about three weeks since the funeral and exactly four weeks since his passing. So I wanted to jot down some memories before they faded away.

I mentioned in FIL's eulogy how much he enjoyed getting something for nothing, picking though the garbage for recyclables or "valuables" he could sell at garage sales. At one garage sale, some teens found some stuff their dad threw out and bought it to take home as a joke.

On garbage day, he'd troll the neighborhood looking for fans or lamps he could repair. Unfortunately, he collected more than he had time to fix and the backyard was full of rusted, broken fans, lamps, and exercise equipment. We rented a giant bin to get rid of this stuff and should have rented two. It only took an hour to fill it to the top and there was still the side yards and garage to go. We went out for a few hours and when we got back, we had a pleasant surprise. My nephew discovered that someone had cleared out half the bin. Half! This sounds like something FIL would have done (though he wouldn't have been able to haul off quite that much himself). Too bad we weren't home because we would have invited them to take more, lol. We took advantage of the empty space and emptied out the side yard, whew! I suspect some of that stuff was gone before garbage pickup the next day. And FIL would have been right there making sure he didn't miss any of the good stuff.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

We have a winner!

Actually three winners! Holly, send me your snail mail address. Susan and Miwa, I have your addresses.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

National Scrapbook Day

Coming soon! This weekend in fact. Unfortunately, I don't have any plans. We've got a full day of errands planned, which doesn't leave much time for scrapbooking. Not good since I'm going to a crop in a few weeks and at minimum, I should be prepping for that.

What are your NSD plans (or what were your plans)? Let me know in the comments by Monday and I'll use my crystal ball (or to pick a lucky commenter to receive some scrappy goodness. I'm not sure what yet, but maybe some stamps, ribbon...I'm sure I can find some yummy stuff.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy birthday car!

I was pretty excited when my car hit this milestone.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Italian Rice Balls

Arancini = Italian rice balls = deep fried rice/cheese/butter/beef yumminess! When I first joined the family, Mr. Fix-it's mom fixed these for a holiday and they quickly became a favorite of mine. They also led to a slightly uncomfortable discussion about rice, lol. She wanted to know where to buy "cheap broken rice" to make rice balls because it was stickier than regular rice. Hmmmm, I don't buy cheap broken rice and had no idea there was such a thing, which she didn't quite understand because she figured that I'm Chinese and should know about these things. She was not interested in my suggestion to use short grain rice, which is stickier than long grain rice. No matter, her rice balls were still delicious, no matter what rice she used.

We went to visit the Aunties this weekend so we thought we'd surprise them by making rice balls. We hadn't made them in two? three? years so were a bit out of practice, but they turned out well and the Aunties were so surprised. Uncle J wasn't there so they planned to freeze some of the leftovers for him. Isn't that sweet? Not that we couldn't make them again for the next visit.

Plus, I learned a bit of family trivia on the drive home. It turns out Mr. Fix-it's mom introduced rice balls to his dad's side of the family. For some reason, I thought it was the other way around. Now everybody love 'em! So enough babbling; here's the recipe (with lots of notes).

Rice "shell" ingredients
1 pound (3 cups) short grain rice
1 quart water
Pinch of saffron for color (optional)
2 egg yolks (save the whites for later)
1/4 pound of butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Filling ingredients
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 cup pine nuts
Salt, pepper
Olive oil

Bread crumb coating ingredients
3 cups fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (the stuff in the green can, not the good stuff, lol)
salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, optional

Oil for frying

1. Cook rice with the saffron in the water. I've cooked the rice over the stove and in a rice cooker and it turns out well either way. Just be sure the rice is quite dry when it is cooked.
2. Prepare filling: Saute onion in a bit of olive oil until softened. Add ground beef and brown. Remove any excess grease (I didn't have any since I used ground sirloin). Add tomato paste, pine nuts, and seasonings. Cook for 10 minutes.
3. Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings.

4. Lightly beat the egg whites (you'll need them in step 7). Note that I needed three additional egg whites. I suppose you could use whole eggs too.

5. Add the egg yolks, butter, and Parmesan cheese to the rice. Let cool just enough so that you can handle the rice mixture.

6. Form the balls: Coat your hands (just the palms and fingers) with a little oil. Spread a heaping tablespoon or so in the palm of your hand. Make a depression in the middle and place about a teaspoon of the filling in the center. Add another teaspoon of rice on top to form a ball.
7. Roll the ball in the bread crumbs, then into the egg white, then back in the bread crumbs. Place on waxed paper until you're ready to deep fry them. We ended up with 24 rice balls.
8. Deep fry in vegetable oil until light golden brown. I fried them at 335°F for about 3-4 minutes. Place on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Cook's notes:
We ended up with over a cup of bread crumbs leftover so if you wanted to start with less, you could. But bread crumbs aren't expensive and I think having the extra made it easier to coat the rice balls.

We also ended up with almost two cups of filling leftover. Next time, we'll either use less meat, try to add more filling, or double the rice shell mixture and make more rice balls.