Monday, December 20, 2010

My Santa Baby....

My husband is awesome.  I tentatively asked him to play Santa for the kids at my JLSA Volunteer activity and he said yes.  Four months ago.

Time comes to actually play Santa and he delivers.  With gusto.  His "ho, ho, ho"s were superb and when asked where his reindeer were, "Magic!" was his go-to answer. 
My awesome hubby and me.
Also, this is a 21st century Santa who gave fist bumps and read The Night Before Christmas off an iPad.

He helped us volunteers rock it out and helped make this holiday extra special for some very special families at Family Endeavors Fairweather Family Lodge.
Some of the awesome ladies who make it happen every week!

Monday, November 15, 2010

No Green Thumb...

I wanted windowsill basil.  That was the only thing I wanted to grow. Just some basil in a pot on the windowsill.  Justin indulged me.  We went to Lowe's. I bought a Thai basil plant and a Sweet basil plant and two planters that awesomely enough were named Ariana.

I had read that they didn't need a bunch of water. I thought they would have enough sun. I thought I would never have to buy overpriced basil again.

I was wrong.

Both plants started to die, wilting before my very eyes. The soil was moist, and the bamboo next to the pots kept growing, but the plants said "pblt" and keeled over.

I tried again.

I bought one more basil plant, this time at my local HEB. It smelled lovely- like hope and promise of yummy basil for years to come.

Hope lasted about a week, before it petered out in the same fashion as the previous two plants. I mourned the whole thing for a few days before I finally threw the plants out.  I would look at them while doing dishes, wondering where did I go so horribly wrong as to not be able to grown a potted plant.

I don't know that I'll try again.  I went through the same thing with pet goldfish when I was younger. I don't think I been the same since.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Midterm Elections...

They're never as exciting as those where we choose the leader of our country. But, you could be voting for someone who might choose to be the leader of our country later down the line.

In Texas we're voting for our Governor. The last Texas Governor went on to become president.

I voted early.  Well on the last day of early voting, I was able to vote where ever.  If you weren't a last-minute-procrastinating-early-voter like me and don't know where you're registered to vote, just ask Google "Where to Vote" and it'll help you out with a handy dandy little box for your address.

Course you gotta know you're registered.  I'm sure Google can lead you to the right place to figure that out too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Carving…

This is a Halloween tradition that is not for the weak or timid.  It takes precision, patience, and persistence. The use of opposable thumbs. It takes a basic understanding of shapes and an awareness that the end product might look like it was art directed by a youngster learning shapes.

Behold Cyclops Vampire
We'll call him Cy.

Cy is what I did for my office’s pumpkin carving contest.  This is a contest in which you vote for the pumpkin you think is best. I entered my pumpkin because I figured I would help fill out the field.  There had been a rumor going around that not a lot of people were going to enter pumpkins because they were too busy at work.  Needless to say given the field of entries mine wasn’t the best.

So, my “cannot-tell-a-lie-with-a-single-bone-in-my-body” self did not vote for Cy. Poor Cy.

Here were the winners:

PacMan going for the Ghost.

Tiffany Lamp
This wasn’t the only round of carving this year.  We went over to a friend’s place Saturday night and everyone brought pizza and pumpkins.  We all carved a pumpkin and ate the toasted seeds (which reminds me I have seeds that still need toasting).

Here’s the family photo:
Top row left to right: Dan's Life and Times of Time Character, My Scaredy Goofball, Lisa's Traditional
Bottom row left to right: Carrie's Owl, My Justin's Silly Guy, Sara's Voldemort, Carrie's Justin's Angry Baby Pumpkin, Jamie's Snarky Guy

Fun was had by all, though it was decided that pumpkin carving is some ridiculously hard work and it’s a good thing people are only expected to do it once a year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You don't have to be a butter artist...

To have turkey shaped butter on your Thanksgiving table. You just have to head to the Alon HEB to stock up. Cause it is for sale right now.

It was so amazing I snapped this picture with my cell phone. I wish I made this stuff up. They make lamb and Christmas tree shaped butter too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Austin City Limits 2010...

This was our first time to go to Austin City Limits (ACL). We lived in Austin for 3 years and it never happened. 

We bought our tickets almost a year in advance, months before the line-up was announced, and booked our hotel obsessively early too.

We brought the sunscreen, the backpack chairs and the CamelBak

We enjoyed 21 hours of music over 2.5 days:

My poor attempt of taking a pic of Holly and myself.
Friday 10.08.10
  • The Black Keys
  • Beach House
  • Spoon
  • Vampire Weekend
  • The Strokes
  • Phish
The stage where LCD Soundsystem, Muse, REK & more played.
Saturday 10.09.10
  • The Very Best
  • Bear in Heaven
  • The Gaslight Anthem
  • Black Lips
  • Silversun Pickups
  • The xx
  • LCD Sunsystem
  • Deadmau5
  • Muse
The stage where the Strokes & Phish played.
Sunday 10.10.10
  • Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
  • Blind Pilot
  • Portugal. The Man
  • Lance Herbstrong
  • Robert Earl Keen
  • Rebelution
  • The Flaming Lips
  • The National
  • The Eagles

We saw sunrise.

We drank beer. 

We hung out with friends.

We had a blast.

 We're doing it again next year.  

Tickets purchased.  Room booked.  CamelBak readied.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tempus Fugit...

Or as I typed it into google to get the Latin Translation that I should have known- Time Flies.

I cannot believe how quickly this month has flown by.

10/03/2010 We saw Daniel Tosh when he came through town on his "World Tour"
10/07-09/2010 We spent approximately 21 hours, not including travel time, watching awesome bands perform at ACL (Austin City Limits- not the body part)
10/13-17/10 Spent some time in San Francisco and Napa celebrating my best friend's 30th (it's creeping up on me) birthday

I have pics from everything but Tosh- for fear of lashings from a volunteer usher- those people are serious at the Majestic Theatre when they say no pictures.  And the smarties who defy them with their phones and cameras flashing deserve what's coming to them.

Tonight is JLSA Ole Preview Party!  My mom and a bunch of friends are going and I am super psyched that so many people are willing to buy a ticket to support JLSA so that they can do a little bit of shopping.

Wookie! is still a horse.  That is the one thing that didn't change.  Actually, he is bigger.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Naked Kitties...

Well, more accurately collarless.  Timmy removed his collar about 1 month ago and I know where it is, but really he'll just get out of it again.  Timmy and the collar is a constant tug-of-war.  So this is no surprise.

Turtle on the other hand is the "good" kitty and usually has her collar on.  Last night however, I noticed it was missing. And I have NO idea where it is.

Then this morning, they are running around after each other like wild kitties making crazy kitty noises.  This happens on occasion, but while they are collarless they seem especially crazy.

Crazy, naked kitties.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Walking Wookie!...

This dog loves a walk.  He will even sit when told to do so cause he knows we have to put that leash on him.  Of course the moment you go near he freaks out and puts his paw up, cause we smartly taught him how to high-five and give hand shakes, and the paw pushing on your arm can make things difficult.  But he's cute. So he's forgiven.

Upon exiting the house Wookie! jumps and grabs for the leash with his chompers.  He then pulls and tugs. He jumps some more. Once Wookie! settles in to the walk he likes to stay ahead.  If you move faster, he moves faster and this is usually the view.
Look at how high that tail is!

He does stop though.  Attempting to pick up bits of who-knows-what. Or to stop and smell the flowers.

Those are pretty flowers, but those people need to trim their trees, it's hard to see around them. Wait. When did I get old?

I'm not that old though, at the end of the walk, I'm still standing.

And Wookie! is pooped out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Turkey Broccoli Bake...

What I ate last week is a Turkey Broccoli Bake.  It's from  I was in a rush when figuring out what to make and this looked like a great option.  I know, the vegetarian in me is disappointed.  The girl who wants this shirt from Woot! is ecstatic.
Men's XL please.
What I did differently from the recipe:
-Per their suggestion- no butter- I used my Olive Oil mister instead of butter for sauteing the mushrooms and onions. 
-I added garlic. I <3 garlic.
-I used Pam Olive Oil spray for the pan that went into the oven. 
-I wasn't going to buy dry sherry for one recipe so I used some of the Marsala cooking wine I have.
-I used chopped almonds, not sliced almonds, but the crunch is still there and really, they taste the same.  Chopped nuts are expensive!
Thanks to my lovely HEB, I was able to buy an already warm oven roasted turkey breast, and I put some of the skin in for flavoring.  I know buy the breast to be healthy and then still use the skin.  You gotta do, what you gotta do. 

I didn't take pics of everything sitting pretty on the counter.  The reason is I got home last Monday, started cutting the broccoli so that it could boil (made me want an induction oven, but I love my non-stick calphalon contemporary).  Getting that water to boil was a bear.  Fortunately Justin was my sous-chef and he took care it for me while I shredded the turkey by hand. A piece fell by Wookie! and he didn't even take notice at first.  It's the sweet tooth in him. Then with the knowledge that most of the hard work was done we went the gym and when I got home I worked on the topping.  I did some things out of order on this, but I think it still turned out yummy.
 The base of broccoli topped with the shredded turkey.

 The onions, mushrooms, garlic, chicken broth, cream, Parmesan cheese forming deliciousness.

 The deliciousness topped with more Parmesan and the chopped almonds.

Everything all baked and yummy smelling.

To add some carby goodness to go with the whole thing I finally cooked up the remainder of the pasta that I salvaged from my pasta bake lesson on measuring.  Best dollar spent ever.

Making Substitutions...

In baking, usually from a box, I've tried the ol' applesauce for oil switcheroo. I've always been pleased with the results. Today's muffin treat is no exception.  I made my Fiber One Banana Nut Muffins (and Wookie! didn't get any) with 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce instead of the multiple tablespoons of vegetable oil the recipe calls for.  Also, subbed in two egg whites for the one egg.  These directions were on the box. I didn't make anything up. It saved 3 grams of fat and I don't know how many calories. No really, I don't know.  I recycled the box last night.

After all that, I really think the muffin tasted better than the muffins last week.  The one I ate today was more moist and I think just tastier as a whole than any from the previous batch.

I looked up the substitution online to see if there are any rules of thumb about the whole thing and the only consensus I seemed to find was that it's a one for one substitution. So according to the calculations of Ask Dr. Math the original recipe used 4 tablespoons.  I don't recall putting that many in the mix.  I just followed the directions.  I leave the higher mathematical conversions to people like Dr. Math (whose website I had never seen before today's Google search).

Since I don't bake that often and I otherwise dislike applesauce (seriously, it ranks pretty low on my list) I was smart this time and bought the individual serving cups so that I won't waste a whole jar of the appley goodness that is safely on the shelves in stores for those who appreciate it on its own. Proof that I learn from my past.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Busy. Busy. Busy.

It's been a busy week.  But I ate well. I'll post picks and the recipe later.  They're just sitting on the memory card in my camera.  My JLSA placement kept me busy organizing stuff for crafting. We're starting from scratch so it seemed like a lot.  Now that it's all organized- it just seems like a good amount of organized stuff.  Thank you Dollar Store. 

Seriously, without the Dollar Store I don't even want to think about how much I would have spent on stuff.  That and the $5 fabric I scored for the french-style memory boards we are making with the moms.

That's $5 for 5 yards, not per yard. Now I just need to figure out what to do with all of it.

I got to channel my inner child when putting together a popsicle stick frame and seeing which glues worked.  Turns out all of them did. 

I was focused on getting this stuff done so I don't have any pics right now. Maybe I'll snap some tomorrow.  Really though, we all know what a popsicle stick frame looks like.

Gooooo Gators!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cupcakes not from scratch...

I baked 2 dozen cupcakes last night. Justin and I split one. Well he had a bite, I had the rest. I brought 23 into work.  There were 2 left at lunchtime. 

The lonely two.
It's been crazy busy at work.  Someone was sweet enough to bring treats on Monday and it lifted everyone's spirits.  I'd bought the goods for the cupcakes on Sunday and figured that a mid-week pick-me-up would do everyone some good too. We are a group that enjoys food.

This morning people asked me what I used to make them and I told them it was H-E-B's brand.  One of my co-workers said that her box mix cupcakes don't turn out so well.  I was proud of my little 1984 oven at that moment.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wookie! likes my baking...

He showed me this last night when he ate 3 1/2 of my Fiber One Banana Nut muffins . I bought the mix at the grocery store yesterday and baked them in the evening, leaving them on the counter to cool per the box instructions "cool completely before storing."  Little did I know that Wookie! (our cute teen puppy), who has never eaten anything off of a counter, would get the first crack at them.

We'd been hanging out in the living room all night and he beat me into the kitchen.  I don't know if time stood still. If he moved lightening fast (this is possible). If I moved very slowly (also possible).  I really don't know what happened, but by the time I got into the kitchen he was eating something off the floor. 

I saw crumbs. He looked happy. Not the tiniest bit guilty.

I counted my muffins, one of which was missing a chunk. There were only 8 that were untouched. Apparently, the little (55 lb.) cutie had a nighttime treat that did not consist of lamb flavoring.

We'd heard a story from a friend about his dog and Grape Nuts.  It wasn't pretty. We aren't the kind to take chances.  Poor Wooks! had to sleep outside.

Now I know he has a baked goods tooth. I will have be more careful in the future if I want to enjoy more of these in mine. 
It's a yummy afternoon treat!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's not vegan if there's cheese...

Fact.  But I'm not vegan.  Fact.  I am not however I die-hard meat eater.  So I look for alternatives and found this awesome recipe site: Fat Free Vegan The tagline says the recipes are "Sinlessly Delicious."  They are in fact sinlessly delicious.  I think this remains true even with skim milk cheese. Fact.

I've now made two recipes from this site, with some minor (major if you're vegan) modifications.  I added cheese. I love cheese. Potato heart cheese.  (Mmm cheese and potatoes.) I need cheese to heal my cooking wounds.

I may have mentioned the fact that my husband is eating his thing and I am eating mine so I cook one awesome thing and eat it all week.  I obviously don't mind leftovers.

From this site I've made: Enchilada Casserole (I don't care for the Mexican Lasagna name) and the Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna (I think lasagna fits here).

Here's some pics from all the cooking fun:
I made the Enchilada Casserole last week (9/6-9/10).  I basically followed the recipe but added some shredded cheese when doing the layers and put some sour cream (not vegan) on top when I served it. To myself.

All the ingredients, minus the cheese, I realized later that enchiladas just aren't without cheese.
The red and green peppers and a chopped up Serrano.  Yeah, I grabbed that cause there were no jalapenos.  Milk please.

All the peppers, onions and yummy garlic cooking up.

Enchilada sauce simmering.

This time I was smarter about cutting the tomatoes.

The finished product... see the cheese!

This fed me for like a week at least 3 lunches and a couple of dinners and even a snack.

I made the Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna on 9/12/10. For this I reduced the amount of firm tofu and put in about 8 oz of fat free Ricotta and added some shredded Mozzarella.  Remember I heart cheese, but I also need protein.
I can boil water!

The mushrooms were pre-sliced, I ended up chopping them up a bit too.  I did the garlic myself.

The mushroom and garlic sauteing in water.  I love the smell of garlic cooking.

I love HEB's pasta sauces.  Another fave is the Pomodoro with black olives. 

The sauce and garlicky mushrooms melding their tasty flavors

The stuff that makes the spinach creamy.

Yay Cuisinart.  The spinach and 8 oz. of tofu.

Yummy cheese.

What more garlic!?. Yes. More garlic. There was salt too.

Everything blended until smooth.

Sauce, noodles, filling and more cheese. 

                You caught me.  I didn't separate my noodles properly.  They were a mess. Didn't change the taste though. 

Yummy in my tummy.
This is currently feeding me and is delicious.  Dinner. Lunch. Dinner. Dinner. And so on. Yesterday this was part of my first Meatless Monday. Justin currently looks at my food with envy.

I plan to try more and will post those when they happen.

So what are you in the mood for?  Mexican or Italian.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gettin' burned...

So the other night making my modified vegan lasagna (which I'll blog about another time) I burned my arm getting the pan out of the oven.  I screamed some expletive and a beat or two later Justin was in the kitchen making sure I was ok.  I ran my arm under cool water while he went to get supplies and then proceeding to tend to my arm.  He managed to grab what must have been the last waterproof bandage that seals all sides. 

That sucker was on my arm until this afternoon.

And when I took it off, I was grateful I'd had the bandage on. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Curried Chicken Salad...

A few weeks ago, from all of this...

I made this...

It was OK. Just OK. I got it from the Weight Watchers recipe book I blogged about pretty early on. It looks pretty and smelled good. But it just didn't have the wow factor when I tasted it. It did do the trick for Justin when he came home after his NFL Fantasy Team draft. So I guess it was good for something.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Get involved...

This is a little more serious. It's about getting involved. Getting involved in your community and giving back.  It can be as easy as walking some cute dogs at a local animal shelter or as real as reality gets and becoming a volunteer at a nonprofit organization that deals with sexual assault.  This weekend I officially begin my Junior League of San Antonio volunteer placement with a San Antonio organization, Family Endeavors Fairweather Family Lodge, that helps women and their children.  These are families with histories of homelessness and the organization works with them to make sure they don't end up in that position again.
From their website: "The program opened in 2004 as a way to assist homeless women with mental illness and their children.  The Fairweather Family Lodge was developed as a place that nurtures development and provides a safe environment for these families to stabilize, grow and remain together."

We will be working with the women on basically anything with which they want help. I am a co-chair for the placement and this is the first year, so there may be some challenges in figuring out exactly where our road map is taking us, but we plan to help the families create positive experiences that they can take with them wherever they go.

This topic came to mind because we attended the 35th Anniversary Partners in Change Gala for the Rape Crisis Center of San Antonio.  The statistic for sexual assault are mind boggling and scary and really need to be combated. 

My dear friend, and one of my husband's colleagues, is on the board and it is always a prideful moment when they acknowledge here and the support she helps to provide them. This is her passion and how she gives back to the community.  Because the reality is that every statistic is not just a number. It's a person.

How will you help to change tomorrow?