Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Another "This and That" post

This morning it was so cold outside! As we walked from the parking lot to our office building, I held my scarf over my face. Otherwise, it hurt my nose to breathe! I think we're due for some snow sometime soon. It's funny to think that my family in California is getting ready to plant their garden, and we're getting snow!

I can still dream of gardening though! Last year we moved into our new house so late in the season, that I didn't plant anything. This year I am planting double-flowered impatiens in my front flower beds. While I am certain of what I'm planting in the front, I'm still debating what to do on the side. I would like to plant perennials, but I can't make up my mind about them. I sent off for about six gardening catalogs, so I look over those and try to get ideas.

I now understand why so many knitters like to make socks:
1. They are a quick project (usually).
2. They are fun to make.
3. They don't cost an arm and a leg to make.

I have been wanting to make a sweater for myself, so last Saturday I went to a yarn shop and purchased the pattern and yarn for a sweater. I'm pleased with my selection, but it did cost quite a bit! This sweater had better be the best sweater I've ever laid my eyes on!

Susan's Flylady blog inspired me to do some of my own decluttering. Last night while I was making dinner, I had a few minutes, and I got one of my cabinets cleaned out. Everything went back in, but the shelves got wiped down, and things got put back in a more orderly fashion. I don't like cleaning out my cabinets, but it only took me a few minutes! I'm going to try to do a cabinet/drawer a night while dinner is cooking. It's amazing how fast things get out of order! (And equally amazing how little time it takes to put it back in order!!!)

I suppose this has been enough "this's and that's"! Blessings to all! Have a wonderful day!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Ella Minnow Pea

"A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable"

This book was a fun read. I finished it a week or so ago.

This story was so fictional that it wasn't believable as I was reading it. However, it was still fun to read! A very fictional island country pays their respects to the man who invented the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" (which uses all the letters of the alphabet) with a statue and that sentence over it in tiles. The tiles, which have been on the statue for one hundred years, start falling, and in order to respect the founder of their island country, the people are not allowed to use the letters that have fallen. They cannot speak or write with the letters that have fallen.

Eliminating "Z" isn't so hard, but as the letters keep falling, the people have more and more troubles. The tiles eventually dwindle to L, M, N, O, and P. (Say "Ella Minnow Pea".)

Because this book is written in letter format, it is interesting to see how the townspeople adapt to not using the letters that are not allowed.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ribbed Socks!

I finished a pair of socks tonight! This pair is the third pair of socks that I have made. I started them before Christmas, and made great progress on the first one as we travelled, and finished it at my grandparent's house. After we got back, I was busier than normal, and so the second sock took a little longer to finish.

(Click on the picture for a closer look.)

I discovered that guage really is important after all. (As is using the weight of yarn that the pattern calls for!) I guess that was a major "duh" moment. Oh well, live and learn. The best thing is that all my work wasn't wasted! What started out as socks for myself ended up as socks for my youngest sister.

The pattern I used came out of this book:

The yarn is a washable wool blend, and was nice to work with. It was left over from a scarf that I made for Kevin.

Little sis, be looking in the mail for your socks!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Four Cheese Lasagna

Compliments of Rebecca, here is the lasagna recipe:

Lasagna takes time to assemble. To avoid last-minute preparation, make this casserole early in the day or the night before and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (4 oz each) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon fennel seed
1 carton (16 oz) cottage cheese
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 package (12 oz) lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

In a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic until beef is browned and onion is tender; drain. In a blender, cover and process the tomatoes until smooth. Stir into beef mixture along with mushrooms, tomato paste and seasonings; simmer for 15 minutes. In a bowl, combine cottage cheese, Parmesan, cheddar, ½ cup of mozzarella and eggs. Spread 2 cups meat sauce in the bottom of an ungreased 13-in x 9-in x 2-in baking dish. Arrange half the noodles over sauce. Spread cheese mixture over noodles. Top with remaining noodles and meat sauce. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings

I follow the recipe as it is, except I do not put the crushed tomatoes in the blender. I think it makes the sauce a little thicker, which is a good thing! My casserole dish is wide enough for three noodles across, so I end up using six noodles.

Company's Coming!

We are having our pastor and his family over for dinner tonight.

On the menu:
lasagna (a wonderful recipe I got from my sister-in-law, Rebecca)
garlic bread
brownies and ice cream for dessert

Last night as I readied the house for company, I had four-minute breaks scattered throughout the evening. Why four minutes? Because I was watching the ice skating too! :-)

I think the commentators talked about the new scoring system during each skater's performance. ALL RIGHT ALREADY! I know about it now! LOL

When I was younger, I used to dream about ice skating...how "fun" it would be. Having been on ice skates just once as an adult, I realize how unfun that would be. It takes a lot of work. I couldn't/wouldn't want to do off the ice what they do on the ice! Hat's off to them, and all the hard work they put into it to make it seem so effortless!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sock a Month Knit-along!

I just joined Christine's sock knit along. I also added the button to my blog. :-) I have a pair of socks on my needles--all I have to finish is the toe on one. I have six days to get it finished to qualify for the month of February. Since it's just the toe, I shouldn't have any trouble at all.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I got a few sock books from the library. I'm not lacking patterns for socks! I have so many different patterns to choose from. It's hard to make up my mind!

I would also like to branch out in my knitting and try other projects. I would like to make a sweater for myself, but I haven't found a pattern that says, "Make me!" yet. I'm still looking for that perfect pattern.


Horchata is a Mexican cinnamon-rice drink that I enjoy. In fact, I made it for Valentine's Day for my Mexican dinner--but I used a packet from the store.

My mom recently sent me a recipe for horchata, and I made it last night. It was so easy, and it's so good! I used Stevia (a natural sweetener) to sweeten it, instead of the honey or sugar. I added too much Stevia, so it has a little bit of a bitter after-taste, but I still enjoyed it. I haven't used Stevia much, so I'm still experimenting with it.

Here's the recipe:
1 c. cooked brown rice (hot)
4 c. water
Blend in blender for 4 minutes, strain.
Return to blender and add
1/4 c. honey OR 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
Blend til mixed. Refrigerate until cold. Add crushed ice if desired.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Our New Washer and Dryer

Rebecca asked:
Did you get your washer/dryer? how are they?

We got our washer and dryer on Saturday. The cold water valve wouldn't turn off all the way, so the delivery guys didn't want to force it and be liable if it broke. So they just delivered them, they didn't hook up the washer (they can't hook up the dryer any how, since it's gas). Two minutes after they left, Kevin was able to turn off the valve. He got everything hooked up just fine.

I really love the washer and dryer! It's so nice to have something that is "ours". We've never had our own washer and dryer until we bought this house. The washer that came with the house was disgusting. It took me over an hour to get the inside of the washer clean enough to put dirty clothes in! Anyhow, we're glad we got them, and I'm happy we got the front-loader. We'll see if it really does help lower our water bills!

I have a couch FULL of laundry. Gettting that all taken care of is on tonight's agenda!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

It's late...no, it's early...

I visited the library today and got all kinds of knitting books. This evening, we watched a movie and I looked through my books and kept up with the movie at the same time. The end was quite intense, so I did put my books down in order to finish the movie.

Is anyone else frustrated with NBC? I told a friend at church how annoying it is to try to watch the Olympics, because they don't stick with an event for more than one or two commercials. She said it didn't bother her much, because it was like watching tv with her husband. LOL I can relate to that...but still! Figure skating for two couples, then we're watching snowboarding, then we're watching something else. I just remember watching the Olympics when I was younger, and they seemed to have more of each event.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I get my new washer and dryer! I'm so excited!!! I have clothes piled up ready and willing to be washed! :-) (Oh wait--technically, it's today that I get my new washer and dryer!)

Thursday morning I was awakened by a crash and then what sounded like a downpour of rain. Upon rising and looking out the window, I saw that it wasn't raining. I followed the sound...to the bathroom. One of the bathtub's legs (feet?) had fallen off and water was pouring everywhere. It could have been an expensive mishap, but Kevin called someone who fixes clawfeet bathtubs, and he explained to him over the phone how to get the feet back on securely. This was not the foot that Kevin had previously fixed. So, hopefully, this will hold! The pipe connecting the shower to the faucet broke off, and Kevin had to fix that. But thankfully, the pipes bringing the water in didn't break!

Well, I really do need to go to bed. For some reason, I'm wound up tonight. Maybe it's the accomplishment of my blog background! LOL

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our Valentine's Date

Choosing Home had a Valentine's contest, and this was my entry:

This Valentine's Day I asked my husband if I could make dinner. Normally, we go out for dinner on Valentine's Day, but this year I wanted to change things up a bit. This contest gave me the extra "push" to plan a special evening at home--something that I have actually been wanting to do for a few months.

I made myself a traditional Mexican outfit, and will be serving Mexican food (chips and salsa, tacos, and Spanish rice). My outfit is completed with a big sombrero. *Grin* I also got a sombrero for him to wear during dinner.

I am going to decorate the table with a few things I purchased, and hanging from the living room/dining room doorway will be a pinata that I have candies and small gifts. After dinner, he will have to break open the pinata to receive his gifts. Oh, and I won't even blind fold him!

Oh, how could I forget dessert? Not exactly Mexican, but one of his favorites--cheesecake!

We live in Michigan, and I was expecting to have a hard time finding items with a Mexican theme, but I found everything I needed at my first stop--a party store.

When Kevin came in the dining room, he was greeted by Mariachi music. We had a fun evening together!

And, today I found out that I placed in the Honorable Mentions, so to speak! :) Choosing Home said I had the "Best Props".

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"Secret" Cheesecake recipe

At my wedding shower, the ladies went around the room and gave me advice. The first lady felt put on the spot, and all she said was "cook for him". Afterwards, she came up to me and said that she felt bad that that was all she said--and she gave me her family's secret cheescake recipe.

This recipe was a carefully guarded secret. Mainly, I think, because she enjoyed being the only one to appear at church potlucks with her specialty cheesecakes!

I made this cheesecake for dessert last night, and flavored it with raspberry extract. It turned out so good! As you can tell from the picture, we had already enjoyed it!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Best-ever Cheesecake~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

You will need a graham cracker crust.

Preheat oven to 350*.

Mix together:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 egg
3/8 cup sugar
1-3 Tablespoons flavoring (jam, berries, chocolate, extracts (I used 2 teaspoons of raspberry extract--turned out delicious!--and added a little food coloring to make it look like raspberries)

Pour into crust, bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 15-30 minutes.

Then, mix together:
8 oz. sour cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
same amount of flavoring used in the 1st layer
(optional) drizle jam on top for design

Bake for another 8-9 minutes in 350* oven.

Cool, refrigerate, ENJOY!!!

My Valentine Roses

Isn't the color of these roses just gorgeous? I've been enjoying these since Saturday. Kevin went out shopping and came home with them.

Blue Ink or Black?

I don't know why, but when I write, I prefer blue ink over black ink. It seems like a funny preference, but black ink just doesn't seem to write as well! ;-) I don't really like to write with a pencil either. Not even a mechanical pencil. Oh, and I don't like gel ink. The gel ink tends to make my writing sloppy.

Handwriting? If I concentrate and take my time, I have good handwriting. Notice, I said if I take my time. If I don't take my time, my handwriting is still readable, but not very neat. I typically write in cursive, though sometimes I print. It just depends on what I am writing. My legal signature combines both printing and cursive: the first letters of my first and last name are printed, the rest is in cursive.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bye, bye old washer!

Last Thursday while I was finishing up my ironing, I was running the washing machine as well, catching up on laundry. Since we had gotten back from our Christmas vacation, the washer was making a lot of noise each time I used it.

Well, last week it stopped making noise. Instead, it started leaking! Thankfully there is a drain on the floor near the washer, but still, to have our washer leaking did not indicate anything good!

We discussed our options. We got the washer with our house, and as I looked through the manuals, I found out that the washer was already 19 years old. We didn't really want to pay to have someone come out and fix it, not knowing if it was fixable in the first place.

Our second option was to buy. We went to Home Depot to look, and the salesman (when he finally got around to coming by!) was really pushing a certain brand that was out of our price range. We didn't like the fact that he was pushing it so much.

Then we headed out to Lowes. They had some sales going, and in the end we got a Frigidaire washer and dryer. They just put out a new model, so this one had gone down in price, as well as being on sale. Oh--and the salesman told us why they were pushing the other model so much at Home Depot--it is made overseas, so the profit margin is greater for the company.

We get our new washer and dryer on Saturday. I am looking forward to getting them! I don't think I will even mind the trek up and down the basement stairs in order to use them (um, for a while anyhow! Hahaha).

The washer is a front loader. Since we pay for city water, we're hoping it will really cut our bill down, as well as our gas. So...should I do laundry or not this week? It's a good excuse to not do any! =)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Winter is back!

After enjoying 40-something consecutive days of above-average winter weather, winter has come back to us! It's snowing today. We're supposed to get snow every 12 hours or so, into next week. We'll see what happens! The snow is pretty, and it's nice to have winter back. =)

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Tonight I ironed clothes that I haven't even looked at since before Christmas! I got all my ironing caught up! I have literally spent hours ironing since we've gotten back from our Christmas vacation, but I never got to the bottom of the pile before more was added to it. It *was* such a good feeling to be caught up. Alas, I've been doing laundry tonight, so there is more ironing waiting for me!

Speaking of Socks...

When I was little, my mom found a cartoon in the back of a magazine that she cut out and kept. She kept it for a good long time, and got a good laugh whenever she read it. It's still funny even if you can't see it. Just imagine:

A lady in her back yard with a big pile of socks on the ground. She's holding a lit match over the pile. Her neighbor is leaning over the fence.

"What are you doing?"

"Matching my socks!"

My mom joked often about "matching" the socks, but quite honestly, she wasn't too thrilled when she had to go out and buy new socks for everyone after the paper sack episode. And no, she wasn't the one who threw them away. One of us kids did that (unknowingly, of course!).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Old Socks

Last night I pulled out a pair of socks to wear to bed (have to keep my feet warm!), and realized that they were socks I've had forever. OK, not really "forever", but a pretty long time!

I'm 29 years old, and I've had them since I was 16 years old or so. I remember getting them--they were in a package that had three different pairs in them. I liked all three pairs, but alas, the other two pairs were doomed to a sad demise.

My mom had put all the socks to be matched in a paper grocery sack.

Someone called and said they were coming by.

We also put our trash in paper grocery sacks. Get the picture? As we picked up the living room to ready it for our visitors, we put the trash into the sock bag. The sock bag went out with the trash before we realized we were missing socks.

Since the socks hadn't been matched in a while, most of our socks were in that bag. My mom had to then go out and buy socks for the whole family! I don't recall her putting socks into a paper grocery sack anymore! (Hmmmm...I wonder why???)

It's too bad that the other two pairs got thrown out! I might still be wearing them! LOL

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Kevin and I have discovered that hospitality is not a lost art. At least, it isn't in our church. We were quite busy last weekend. We had our youth pastor and his family over for dinner on Friday night, and then Saturday we went to a dinner party, and Sunday after church we were invited to a couple's house to watch the Super Bowl.

We got to talking about who has invited us over for dinner since we've been going to this church (since August):
~the youth pastor
~the pastor
~a couple that was having a bon fire in their back yard
~one of the deacons
~Jessica, a lady my age, who had me over when both Kevin and her husband were gone for the evening
~the dinner party I just mentioned
~and the Super Bowl dinner

This was all in just a few months. On the other hand, we counted how many church member's homes we had been invited to in our previous 5 years of marriage. We counted six homes. We didn't count the youth activities we've had at other people's homes--just the dinners that someone said, "Kevin and Tammy, please come for dinner." We have had quite a bit of company in our house over the years, so it is not as though we're not doing our part.

It takes time and work to have someone over for dinner, and most people don't want to go to that work, I suppose. I know that I greatly appreciate being invited into someone's home. Even if all they've done is order pizza, it still gives you a "warm and fuzzy" feeling to know that they specifically wanted you to come to their home!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Three Cheers for Kevin!

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Hip, Hip, Hooray!


Last night Kevin put up the blinds in the hallway window for me, and fixed the bathtub! We have a clawfoot bathtub, and one of the claws (feet?) came off. Actually, we've been having a problem with it popping off every once in a while, whenever it sees fit to come off. So Kevin fixed it last night. It involved a lot of ingenuity on his part, and some clothesline and duct tape! LOL Last night when he informed me that he fixed it, he had the duct tape in his hands, and said, "That should do it!" I asked if you could see the duct tape, and he said, "It depends on how you look at it." So with much fear and trepidation, I walked into the bathroom to see what he had done. *Phew!* As he said, it depends on how you look at it. Well, you pretty much have to lay on the floor under the tub to see the duct tape. Which, I hardly think any of our visitors will do! =)

The blinds look great as well. They are part of my redecorating project, and hopefully soon I will get that hallway absolutely finished! As I was taking off the painting tape, I was noticing spots that need touching up with the main color. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike painting?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Happy February!

Wow! I can't believe January is gone already! I've been so busy, it just flew by!

Last night I finished painting my hallway! I was so glad to finally get it finished! There is so much trim in such a small space, that it took me quite a while to get it all painted. But it's done now! And who needs a Thigh Master when you can paint? With all that trim, I ended up squatting a good portion of the time I was painting. OUCH! My legs hurt now!

On Saturday, I bought curtains and a few things to decorate the hallway with. Tonight after church I'm going to start working on it and get it all "prettied" up. Then I'll post a picture to show off. *Grin*

This morning is much colder than yesterday morning. We're supposed to get a foot of snow on Saturday. I hope not! We shall see what God brings us...the weatherman might be able to pretend to know what's coming, but only God knows for sure!

We're having company on Friday night. Since I painted on Monday and Tuesday, I have a lot of housework to get done between then and now.

I hope everyone has a blessed day!