Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our Life in Lego: How we met

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Food Day

Well I'm back in fighting form.  I woke up this morning feeling much better and I think my back is almost back to normal.  Here in Fort Wayne I have my choice of places to by food.  I tend to shop at Wal-Mart for one's the cheapest.  But the thing with Wal-Mart is the clientele is not always...what's the nicest word....classy.  Almost every trip there involved some child screaming and some parent just not giving a hoot.  So I started going earlier in the day 9/10 am and there were less people to deal with but I kept running into mobs of Wal-Mart associates who didn't give a fig that they were taking up an entire aisle and I had to wade through them to get a freaking bottle of juice. *deep breath*

So I tried a different Wal-Mart, that's right same store different location.  And the difference is startling.  I googled it these stores are 4.8 miles apart.  But the more northern store is cleaner, more open and friendlier.  It's weird but true.  The first time I did my daily shopping here I also stopped by the butcher nearby Jamieson's.  There the butcher talked to me and asked me about my weekend. It was perfectly civil.  It made me feel like I lived in a small town again.  I told Adam it was the most civilized morning I had ever had.  So that's my routine now.  North Wal-Mart and a trip to the butcher's.  I've now been to the butcher's enough that the cashier knows me and says hi and asks me what I'm doing that day.  Kudos to these people for making my day start off so nicely.

Normally I pick up one pound of bacon for one of our weekend breakfast/brunches.  This week I decided to pick up some chorizo.  I've recently been introduced to chorizo by some of the Fort Wayne food trucks.  It's a Mexican sausage, and it's wonderful.  So when I saw it last week I knew I'd have to make something to go with it.  

Enter the easiest rice and beans recipe ever.  I have no idea where I got this recipe it's on one of my recipe cards.  The best part of this recipe is it's a crock pot recipe.

2 cans of beans (pinto, white, kidney bean)
1 cup of rice
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 TBS olive oil
S & P
put in the the crock pot on low for 6 hours.

Our meals for the week are:

Rice and Beans and Chorizo

Baked Chicken and veggies

Steak or Hot Dog and veggies

Ok let me explain.  The steak is for Adam the Hot Dogs are for me.  Adam hates Hot Dogs and so I never buy them, but I was craving them.  So I got all beef ones for my meat this week.  I know how sophisticated am I? ha ha.

I waited for Adam to get home to do the grilling.  He grilled up the Chorizo, Steak and Hot Dogs.  mmm love the smell of grilling.

This is Pepper saying, "stop with the pictures and throw the ball!"

Here's some of our meals; Adam's steak and my hot dogs.

And here's our rice and beans with chorizo....which turned out to be really good.

A little bit of hard work pays off for the whole week.

Keep Cooking-

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Monday Monday

Even though I'm not working right now Monday still fills me with dread.  It really doesn't help that I threw out my back yesterday.  It used to be I would do something stupid (ie, lifting something too heavy) and then my back would hurt for days.  Now I'm old enough that all I did was sleep wrong.  I woke up yesterday with a pinched nerve in my lower back and today I'm still hobbling around the house living off of Tylenol Equate Pain Reliever (I'm cheap and old, ha!).  And pour Pepper doesn't understand she can't lean against me like she loves to do.  She's currently sulking on the floor because I won't let her on the couch...spoiled dog.

I've said all this to explain why I don't have my Food Day blog ready.  I'm all prepared I have our meals planned and my shopping list ready to go, but I'm afraid if I somehow manage to hobble to Wal-Mart I'll hurt my back so bad I won't be able to get home.  So today is a rest day...and it's frustrating on one of the few days of the week I like to be productive to just sit here.  But I'll live.

Here's hoping one more rest day will help me fully recover.  And hopefully tomorrow I'll be up and getting my food prepared for the week.  I'll post our meals as soon as I can.

God Bless-

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs. Oh my.

So last week I shared about my love of reading.  And I thought I'd tell another story from my youth, before we get to this week's books.   As you can well imagine always having a nose in a book didn't make me very popular.  I was Belle and the world was Gaston (that's a Beauty and the Beast reference for you non Disney fans).  Outcast in a world even before tablets made paper books a thing of yesteryear, but MTV was popular and so was cable, books were not.  After my brief (ie my entire childhood leading up to high school) quest to be accepted by the cool crowd, I finally found welcoming arms with the rest of the geeks and nerds and learned to live a happy existence there, and still do.  Reading wasn't my only roadblock to being popular, the real problem was I wasn't good at...anything.  I didn't excel at school work, I was average maybe even a little above average, but not excellent.  Oh and sports, I absolutely stunk at sports.  Until the summer before high school I was battling one other girl to be the shortest kid in our class.  I was plagued with the thought that I would go through life never excelling at anything.

That all changed when our school started the Accelerated Readers program.  If I remember right we did it from 3rd to 5th grade, but that was some time ago so I'm a bit fuzzy on all the details.  What I do remember was books were grouped into different levels depending on the degree of difficulty.  You'd pick a book in your level, read it, and then take a quiz on the computer and then depending on how many questions you got right and the level of book it was you'd be awarded points.  You could then trade your points in for small prizes: erasers, book marks, small toys that sort of thing.  The more points the better the prize.  And this is how old I am, there were three 5th grade classes in our school and all three classes shared one computer.  We'd have to wait until it got wheeled into our classroom to be able to take our quizzes.  And here's where I learned that I did have at least one talent.  I could read fast, and since we didn't watch much t.v. I read a lot.  I actually had so many points I could get any prize I wanted and ended up winning several trophies for having the most points.  For a brief moment I was the best at something, and it really meant the world to me.  Though looking back I can imagine receiving a trophy for reading in front of the whole school didn't help with my quest for popularity.  But it didn't matter to me.  It just boosted my love of reading.

During those Accelerated Reading days I had read through our school library's section of adventure books and started looking for something else to read.  That's when I happened upon biographies of famous people in history.  Some that still stick out to me are Harriet Tubman, Ben Carson, Florence Nightingale, and Abe Lincoln.  I had always struggled to find History exciting, but reading these stories made history exciting and interesting.  I quickly found a love of people's stories.  It's still so interesting to me to see how people came to be famous, or infamous depending on the person.

So recently when I was looking for something to read I fell back into old but good habits and picked up some biographies/ autobiographies.  Since my true passion in life is theatre and acting I'm drawn to stories about Actors.  And as I've mentioned we didn't watch a lot of t.v. growing up and what we did watch was mostly old stuff that didn't offend my parents strict moral code.  While everyone else watched MTV we were watching Bonanza and Brady Bunch reruns.  One of the shows we had a on tape (that's right VHS) was I Love Lucy.  That show is timeless.  I watched those tapes until they wore out.  I, like so many, fell in love with Lucille Ball.  Her comedic timing is dazzling and I grew up wanting to be her.  So it would make sense that my first Actor Memoir would be:

I love autobiographies because it's like being best friends with your favorite people.  I'm enamored with Lucille Ball and to hear about her life in her own words feels so intimate and special.  Anyone who grew up appreciating her show(s) will enjoy this walk through her life.

And what else were we allowed to watch as kids?  The Dick Van Dyke show!  So I jumped when I saw his autobiography at Half Price Books.

Reading his book I learned something about myself.  I learned that the reason I like reading actor autobiographies is because I want to know how they did it.  I want to know how they achieved their goals, and pushed past all obstacles to achieve what they dreamed.  I want to be inspired.  No disrespect to Mr. Van Dyke but you don't really get that from his life.  He really was very lucky.  I'm in no way downplaying his immense God given talent, but he didn't really plan for any of the success in his life, it was a lot about being in the right place at the right time and luck.  That doesn't make me like him any less or think less of him.  It just wasn't very inspiring for me. And by the end I didn't really even want to finish it, but I did.  If you liked the Dyke Van Dyke show or any of the other things he was in give the book a read.  There are some neat anecdotes about his life.  And if you do read it, let me know what you think.

Ok the last autobiography I'm going to mention today is Carol Burnett's:

I'm as enamored by Carol Burnett as I am with Lucille Ball.  This book is kind of a collection of Carol's favorite stories to tell.  It made me laugh out loud several times.  She has such a way with telling stories that just make you smile.  And on several occasions she gets caught off guard and says or does the most awkward thing possible.  I can totally relate to that as a person who doesn't excel at small talk or ever make a good first impression.  I sped through this book, as I do with any I like.  And I was sad when it ended.  If this book doesn't make you want to sit and have coffee with her nothing will.  

Keep Reading-

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Monday food day.

So I wrote this post up yesterday and just now released I didn't publish it.  Adam's new job allows him to work from home when he wants to and he did on Monday.  I love having him home but it throws my schedule all off.  Anyway here's our Food Day post.

Cooking Day!  It's my faaaavorite day of the week (please note the extreme sarcasm).  I gotta be honest the only time I enjoy cooking is when we're having people over.  Thanksgiving is a good example of this, I like having my family over and making a big meal for everyone.  And maybe I enjoy it so much because it only comes once a year.  But cooking everyday? yuck.  So here we are on another Monday getting my cook on for the entire week.  We have quite a few leftovers from last week so I don't need three whole meals for this week, I'm so not complaining about that.   I decided we just needed one more meal to choose from.  So we are having shredded chicken with bbq sauce.  Everyone knows the secret to shredded chicken...right?  Cook up some chicken breasts in the 'ol oven then throw them in the Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment and after a few seconds bam shredded chicken.  Seriously it's the easiest way to do chicken.

So this week's food:
Leftovers; steak and veggies, chicken and salad, pork verde soup
BBQ chicken and of course veggies!

So I've talked about what we're eating for lunch and dinner, I thought I'd talk about breakfast.  I can't really get Adam to eat breakfast, believe me I've tried.  If he eats anything at work it would be a piece of fruit and/or a tortilla with peanut butter and jelly.  I usually have coffee, fruit, and cereal.  I have tried for years to eat oatmeal for breakfast and I find it really sad and depressing so I've given up on that.  So I eat cereal, I've been eating Post Great Grains lately and I really like it.

It does have more sugar in it than I would normally like in a cereal but I justify it by saying it's probably the raisins :)

I know we're not super exciting today but you can look forward to some new ideas in the future.  I'm already starting on next weeks food.

God Bless

Friday, August 14, 2015

I love reading.

I started this blog back in the day to share with the world things I love.  Trying to add a little joy back into the world, I guess.  Which is why Adam and Pepper are featured so often.

I mean look at these faces how can they not bring you joy? :)
Here Pepper is trying to horn in on one of our Card games.  And Adam is mimicking her infamous chin on the table technique.

So what do I love?...Reading.  With my love of books/reading and Adam's love of computers I don't think we're going to be winning the "World's Coolest Couple" award any time soon :)   Fine by me.

I've always loved reading.  My mom talks about how it was important to her to make reading fun for us.  I actually remember her teaching me to read and how it felt to finally understand a whole sentence.  It was like unlocking the biggest treasure chest.  I got excited realizing I could read every book in the library.  You have to know two things; first this was the '80s and computers weren't household items yet, and second my parents raised us without cable, and weren't real big on us watching a lot of t.v.  So to be able to read opened up hours of entertainment for me.  We grew up in a tiny town where everyone knew either my grandfather (he had been at one time or another, a fireman, a barber, or a mailman) or my dad and aunt who had both worked at the post office. So my sphere of experiences as a child where limited to small town living (which I am in no way knocking, it's a great way to grow up).

Reading opened up the world to me.  It taught me about foreign worlds, and big cities, though at that time any city with 2 stoplights I consider to be big.  I'll never be sorry for the lack of t.v. in my childhood.  It gave me dreams and helped entertain my overactive imagination.  I know I'm waxing nostalgic at this point but some of my favorite memories are of going to the library.  In our town the children's section was downstairs, you took this beautiful old wooden staircase down, and when you pushed the door open to the basement you'd be flooded with that wonderful old book smell.  I know I'm not the only nerd who loves the smell of books (which is why I can't ever see myself owning a nook).  The librarians knew us by name (and some still do), and anytime there was a reading contest I'd enter it.  And I remember they used to hold events, authors reading books, or reading parties and they had a popcorn machine like you'd see at the movie theater, which probably explains my love of popcorn today.  You can see why I love reading.  And today is no different.  My only real problem is I read fast, probably too fast.  I am definitely a speed reader, which means sometimes I skip parts and have to go back because the next part doesn't make sense.  But once I start a book I just can't stop reading, I get almost frantic about reading.  As soon as I start I'm racing to get to the end.  It's like staring down at your favorite plate of food and just eating as fast as you possibly can, only I know I should slow down and savor it.  But with books I can't slow down.  And anymore I don't try to. So know if you give me a book or series and it turns out to be good, I'm going to devour it.  It's just what I do.

So that long and hopefully not too boring story leads us to this.  I thought I'd share what I've read recently to give you other book lovers out there some new ideas.  Ok normally I go for adventure or mystery books.  But honestly I'm not against any genre (except maybe horror, i scare really easily, it's that overactive imagination thing).  So when my best friend suggested a Nora Roberts series I thought why not.  O.k. that's not true, my first thought was, "really romance? Aren't those books poorly written, sappy, overly dramatic soap operas?" (how open minded am I? yeah? ok not so much).  My second thought was, "this is my best friend and she has a good handle on what I like, she totally knows how to pick movies for me, so lets put my judgmental thoughts back in my pocket and give the books a try".  This is how much faith I have in her, i went to the bookstore (Half Price Books, baby!) and bought all of them, well all but the 2nd one which they didn't have and she ended up mailing to me.  The series is the Bride Quartet.

So this is my first dalliance into the romance genre.  And first an apology to Nora Roberts and any other romance writers out there this might apply to but the book was well written and you'll be glad to know I won't balk at the thought of reading another in this genre in the future. :)

This series is about four women who have been friends since they were children running a wedding business.  Parker owns the building/ land where the weddings take place and she makes sure everything runs the smoothly.  Mac does the photography, Laurel the cakes, and desserts, and Emma is the florist.  And each book highlights one of the girls.  It's a neat concept for a series and I think the reason my best friend knew I'd like it is because the relationship the women have is so sweet.  In my life there are four of us girls, (Katie, Emily, Mary, and me) and to think about all of us running a business together (though in our case it would be a theatre) made me smile.  (and don't think we haven't dreamed/ talked about it)

Did I like the books?  You be the judge when the 2nd book came in the mail at 4pm I finished it before falling asleep at 11:30 and read book 3 and 4 (which had been taunting me since I finished book 1 the week before) the next day.  That's right two books in one day...and somehow that day I managed to get cleaning done as well.  I absolutely did like them.  I recommend them to anyone who would dream of someday starting a business with friends.  Or anyone who just needs to read a book where the girl gets the guy of her dreams in the end.  

Coming up next time on Rachel's long drawn out personal history of reading that eventually leads to a book review is biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs, oh my.

Keep Reading-

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I'm still here.

Ok so I can't really explain why I've been away from my blog for more than six months.  It started with some bad feelings over family Christmas drama and led into months of feeling completely directionless. But I'll delve into that on another day.

For my first post back I just wanted to show how Adam and I have been eating healthier lately.  We've been trying to be healthier for forever, and I finally realized I was going to have to suck it up and actually cook.  We were eating out most nights of the week, and as most people know that's not the best way to lose weight.  So one Sunday I woke up and weighed myself and just couldn't stand what I saw on the scale so I decided to actively do something different.  I did some Pinterest research and found that there were several posts about people who cook all their meals for the week in one sitting.  Well for me that sounded good, because I really hate cooking so maybe I could eat healthy if I only had to cook once a week.  So that's what I did.  Now I'm only cooking for two people, so I have no idea how this would work if we had kids, but for right now it works.  I only picked three different meals, luckily Adam and I don't mind eating the same thing all week.

     For the first week the three meals I made were; chicken breast and veggies, chicken and rice, tilapia and veggies.  I just cooked a bunch of chicken breasts and separated them into meals for me and Adam.  In Adams there were white potatoes and either green beans or peas.  In my meals there was cooked spinach and either sweet potatoes or squash.  I froze the fish and chicken meals and then every night I pulled out whichever meal Adam wanted for lunch the next day and let it thaw in the fridge over night.  And we ate on the chicken and rice all week too.

    So for week two I wanted to try something different.  I made meatballs, gravy and potatoes for our frozen meals and made up chicken breasts for salads (that we didn't freeze).  The third meal I made was pico de gallo, shrimp and white beans over rice cooked with taco seasoning.  Something I learned this week, is that I have absolutely no desire to eat salads, Adam ate his up and I have plans on pulling the chicken out of mine and eating them with cooked spinach.

    Week #3.  We had enough leftovers of all the old meals in the freezer that we feasted on those all week.

Now we're to week #4: Here's my meal plan for the week.
1. Chicken and salad: Adam picked up some Nelson's chicken last week so we froze it in prep for this week and for the salad we pick up dressing from one of our favorite restaurants Casa's and use it to duplicate their house salad.
2. Steak and veggies.  We've eaten a lot of chicken so I thought Adam would appreciate some steaks.
3. Pork Verde Soup.  My best friend Katie turned us on to this soup and it's amazing.

Here's some of the tools i use:

 These are the Rubbermaid take-alongs.  Some have dividers some don't, either way they work. They freeze food fine and can be microwaved and put in the dishwasher as well.

The labels: these are probably my favorite part (I'm an organizing nerd).  I bought these on Amazon some time ago and hadn't had a chance to use them yet.  They stay on in the freezer and dishwasher and they are also erasable.  Perfect for our freezer meals.

When shopping this week I bought potatoes for Adam's lunch and so I cooked the whole bag and froze the leftovers for future meals.

The final product all our beautiful meals: mmmm can't wait for lunch and dinner this week.
This is Adam's Chicken and Salads, separated so he can heat the chicken up

These are the steak dinners, mine are the colorful ones on the right side.

And the pork verde soup is fantastic (sorry no pictures) I eat it as soup with a dollup of sour cream and Adam eats his as nachos with cheese and chips.

This is what works for us.  I get up on Monday go shopping and spend the afternoon cooking.  Then all week we have healthy meals, not to mention the amount of money we are saving.  On average I was spending a $100 a week on groceries plus we were going out to eat 4 or 5 nights a week, plus Adam was buying lunch every day at work for $6/ $7, and I was going out to lunch 3 or 4 times a week.  Also since we were going out to eat, the food I was buying was going bad and we were wasting it.  So now we just spend $100 or less at the grocery store and no wasted food.  Any extras that get cooked, or baked get thrown into the freezer for another week.

-healthy meals
-convenience of having meals made up ahead of time
-saving money
-only having to clean up the kitchen once a week

-the long afternoon of cooking (have I mentioned I hate cooking)

For me the Pros out weigh the Cons so for now this is how we're taking small but determined steps to becoming healthier.  Look forward to a new post each week to see what we're eating.