Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Recipe, Week 1

This week I made a lot of new recipes, so I figure it'd be as good as any time to do #34 on my 101 in 1,001 list -- Try 1 new recipe every week for a month. Here's my re-cap from week 1.

Last night Dave and I (yes, we cook together) made Tilapia with Cucumber Salad. This dish was phenomenal! It tasted like something you'd eat on a tropical island vacation, which was quite enjoyable knowing that it was below zero outside. The dressing for the cucumber salad had a sweet and spicy bite thanks to the honey, ginger and rice vinegar. We served the salad on top of the fish (as it was pictured online), and the dressing drizzled down into the fish, complementing it perfectly. On the side, we served couscous to give us a well-balanced meal. And probably the best part was that this meal was super easy to make!

Dave rated this 4.5 jalapenos. I gave it 5 jalapenos.

Last Wednesday I made Sassy Sloppy Joes. Usually I just make Sloppy Joes by adding a can of sloppy joe mix to ground beef, but since I didn't have it in my cupboard I opted for this new recipe. I loved the addition of the chili sauce to give this meal some bite (probably added a little more than was necessary though. :) I didn't have any green pepper, so I just added onion and celery, and it still turned out fine. I consider Sloppy Joes one of those regular ole' home cooked meals, and that's exactly what this recipe was. It wasn't anything necessarily extravagant or special, but it fit the bill just right for a quick and yummy Wednesday night dinner.

Dave rated this 3.5 jalapenos. I gave it 4.

Last Sunday I made Turkey Chili. This chili recipe called for beer. I'd never put beer in my chili and I thought it sounded good, so I gave it a try. Yes, yes, it is good! I didn't have a can of tomato puree, so I just left it out....so my chili was a little runnier and it had a more broth-like consistency. On Sundays, I like to make meals that simmer for a while since I'm usually home most of the day after church. This is a great recipe to add to my Sunday recipe list. And there was plenty of leftovers so we could both bring some to work for lunch (that never happens!)

Dave rated this 3.5 jalapenos. I gave it 4.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama


Today, President Barack Obama was sworn in as our country's 44th President. There's only a handful of times when I've known I'm witnessing something major in our country's history -- and this probably tops the list. For having stayed so on top of the election process -- from the primaries and debates to the election -- I feel like I haven't been able to witness today's events to the fullest (thinking inauguration should be a national holiday), but at least I was able to stream in the swearing in and inaugural address onto my computer at work.

The other day on the radio, people were calling in to share what this means to them. I've been thinking about that lately. What does it mean to me that Barack Obama is President of the United States?

Probably the most important thing for me is a new hope for peace and justice. Also, hope that our there will be new-found accountability for our government. I feel like we have a President who actually will protect and defend the Constitution, rather then bend and distort its definitions to strengthen his power. A President who is willing to create dialogue and driven to find common ground -- rather than an "your either with us or against us" attitude. I'm excited to have a President who is intelligent and will hopefully make smart decisions to bring prosperity back to our country. And I feel like we have regained some respect around the world.

The changes the the President is being called on to make won't be easy. But I believe he can...especially with the support he's getting from our people and around the world. In his inaugural address, President Obama didn't exactly paint a pretty picture of the current state of our affairs -- but despite the challenges we face, I am filled with an extraordinary amount of hope. We will get over these challenging times -- it's what we've done in the past and it's what we'll do today and tomorrow. I believe that today the dawn is breaking on a new, brighter day for our country...and it's so exciting to be part of this!

"America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

~President Barack Obama, Inauguration Address, January 20, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

North Carolina Christmas pics

Katie posted photos of our Christmas in North Carolina on her blog earlier this week. If you're interested to see pics of all the fun stuff we did, check them out.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Love/Hate

There it was. It was standing in the back row so proud -- sparkling under the warm November sun like a diamond in the rough. Its metallic body was calling my name. Love at first sight.

Or so I thought.

That Audi A6 was the car I had been dreaming of for so long. Running my hands along its smooth leather seats, the touch proved the dream was real. The car was going to be ours -- its navigation system, integrated phone, heated seats, Bose sound system and all.

Long story short. The dream soon turned into a nightmare.

Electrical problems. Engine problems. Leaky problems. Headlight problems. Battery problems.

All in a matter of weeks. As fast as I fell in love with the Audi A6, I fell out of love. Distrust and dislike -- okay -- hatred soon became my feelings toward the beast.

From the outside, Dave and I looked great driving around in that automobile. But on the inside, we were frightfully worried about what drama the car was going to cause next.

So Dave and I went back to the car lot. And there under a mass of snow stood a car. As we scraped off the snow, a healthy red complexion revealed itself (happens to be our car color of choice). Put the keys in the ignition and its engine immediately purred to live (when it's -5 degrees that's a good sign). The most realistic car on the lot. "Sold," exclaimed Dave.

Goodbye, Audi A6. Hello, Chevy Impala.

Brr...It's Cold Out Here

Let it be known that today, January 15, 2009, is the coldest day so far in the lives of Otis and Cooper Joe Balow. The low temperature at the airport this morning was -21 degrees with a windchill around -40 degrees.

Brrr!

Monday, January 12, 2009

He's a Maverick!

Today is Dave's first official day of class at Minnesota State University. And that makes him a Maverick. A Maverick! Ya Betchya!

lol. And I think that may be my new nickname for him.

He's actually been accepted there for sometime now, but since the school is an hour from our house he's been going to a community college closer to home. But he's closing in on finishing the degree, so he's at a point where he has to be on campus for the rest of the time he's in the program.

I am so proud of Dave for continuing his education. I know it wasn't easy for him to become a student after getting out of the army. And I know it isn't easy that he has to work full-time and take classes full-time simultaneously. During each semester, he goes months without having a single day off. And it's never easy to transfer schools.

He works hard, and he'll finish school soon enough (and I'm looking forward to a big graduation party!). Although I'm sure there are many days when he'd rather take the 'easy' way out. To just work full-time and not have to worry about homework, tests, commuting, buying books and a special school computer (stupid school requirements). But we have a couple of goals in our life. The biggest goal we have is to be parents (to human kids in addtion to Otis, Cooper and Gracie). As part of being parents, we want to be able to provide a financially stable environment for our children. And by working hard and Dave working on completing his degree, we'll hopefully be able to provide that (although I guess it's never guaranteed!). And we want to be good role models too. It's challenging at the moment -- but long-term, we know our family will be better off. The hard work and perseverance will pay off.

As Dave drives to school today, I hope he knows how grateful I am to have a husband that works so hard for his family. I know I never say it enough! I am so thankful for his priorities and his work ethic and the love that he has for us.

And it's snowing lots today -- so pray that he has safe travels!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

My Grandparents and Stevie and I a long time ago
(I think I was 12...Stevie, 10; Grandpa, 76; and grandma, 79)


Yesterday was my Grandpa's 91st birthday! Wow! I am so lucky that both he and my grandma (both on my dad's side) are still alive and healthy. Since Grandpa lives in New Jersey, I couldn't help him celebrate by eating some cheesecake. A phone call had to suffice. 91 years is a quite a lifetime to have lived...and hopefully he has several more left! Anyway last year (2007), I posted a list of stuff the happened the year my Grandma was born. I thought I'd do the same for my Grandpa....so let's take a look at what happened in 1918.
  • Woodrow Wilson was President
  • Russia switches from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar; the date skips from February 1 to February 14.
  • World War I: Germany, Austria and Bolshevist Russia sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, ending Russia's involvement in the war.
  • Czechoslovakia declares its independence from Austria-Hungary.
  • A new Polish government is declared in Western Galicia (Central Europe). Poland declares its independence from Russia.
  • The Hungarian government terminates the personal union with Austria, officially dissolving the Austro-Hungarian empire.
  • World War I: Austria-Hungary surrenders to Italy.
  • Austria becomes a republic. Hungary becomes a republic.
  • The German Revolution
  • World War I ends: Germany signs an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside of Compi├Ęgne in France.
  • Czechoslovakia becomes a republic.
  • Iceland becomes a self-governing kingdom, yet remains in personal union with the King of Denmark who also becomes King of Iceland.
  • U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sails for the Paris Peace Conference, becoming the first U.S. president to travel to Europe while in office.
  • The British occupy Palestine.
  • By order of the Bolshevik Party and carried out by the Cheka, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, his immediate family, and retainers are murdered at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, Russia....and the Russian Revolution
  • The U.S. Congress establishes time zones and approves daylight saving time
  • General Motors acquires the Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware.
  • The United States Post Office Department (later renamed the United States Postal Service) begins the first regular airmail service in the world (between New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC).
  • The Spanish Flu (influenza) becomes pandemic; over 25 million people die in the following 6 months (almost twice as many as died during the war).
  • The Boston Red Sox defeat the Chicago Cubs for the 1918 World Series championship, their last World Series win until 2004.
  • The Association Against the Prohibition Amendment is founded to promote repeal of prohibition in the U.S.
It appears that there was a lot of political unrest and chaos in 1918? While reading Wikipedia (my source..lol), almost every entry had to do with a war and countries declaring independence over one another. For the first time in a while, it made me feel like our world's state of affairs is somewhat calm and orderly...even though I know there are too many places in our world where wars are currently occurring. Coincidentally, I keep hearing people talk about the show that was on the History Channel this week about the world ending in 2012? They point to the anarchy and financial recession as evidence that it could really happen. Hmmm...I wonder what people thought in 1918 during The Great War or later during The Great Depression or during World War II...if those events were Armageddon? Life and hope has always prevailed!

That's a little off topic...so back to the point of this post.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa! Hope you have a fantastic 91st year!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January

It's the beginning of the month (well, close enough, I guess). It's that time to share all the exciting things we have going on in January. The problem is....we don't really have anything exciting this month. January is the month to recover from the holidays and hunker down and try to stay out of the cold month. lol.

Most noteworthy and least exciting: Dave and I start new semesters at school.

Most exciting: Hair cut (eh...trim, technically)....and I did that yesterday, so it's already done and done.

I'm hoping that my sister and I can reschedule our double dates for later this month and hopefully we'll see some friends we haven't seen for a while.

That's pretty much it. Oh, and some b-days and anniversaries for grandparents. Got to make some b-day cards quick!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Holidays -- Balow Style

Here's a bunch of pictures showing what the Balows did for the holidays in Minnesota. Sometimes it's easier just posting pictures than writing. Katie just posted some pics of the holidays in North Carolina on her Facebook. I'm sure she'll be posting some on her blog too, so that's where you'll find the rest of our holiday pics (I didn't take one picture in North Carolina!)

Cooper's so handsome.

Cooper by the Christmas tree (he must be licking his lips.)

Otis knows how to pose for the camera.


Cuddling on the couch (how I spend the majority of my time at home).


My nieces at the Holidazzle Parade.


Santa!

The three of us at the parade.


So snowy I had to get out my boots.


Amanda opening her b-day present from her Uncle Dave and Aunt Jenny.


Cutting out cookies.

The family volunteering at Feed My Starving Children looking cute with our hair nets. In the two hours we volunteered, our shift packaged over 11,000 meals!


Rachel and Becky packaging meals.


Krissy and Emily scooped the food.


Amanda sweeping and cleaning at the end of our shift.


Family Christmas was at my house, which was right after volunteering. We enjoyed lots of food....molasses marinated pork tenderloin, green beans, cesar salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, root vegetables and rolls. Later in the evening (after opening presents), we got out the Nintendo 64 and played a lot of Mario Kart. I think it's funny to see the whole family piled in front of the TV.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a great and safe New Year's Eve. Dave and I had to wake up at 4 a.m. EST time yesterday to fly home, so we were exhausted. My mom managed to lure us over to her house with an offer of appetizers and a movie, but Dave and I both fell asleep during the movie and decided to go home and to bed....so we were sleeping while others brought in the New Year. Exciting, huh?

My favorite part of today is that it's a new beginning. A time to reflect on everything we did last year, what we want to do in the next year, and what resolutions we want to try, and how we succeeded and/or failed on resolutions last year.

2008 was a great year for me. Lots to be thankful for. Dave and I talked about our "highlights" last night. Probably the best one was seeing Barack Obama become the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee last spring in person! It was such a milestone for our country and it was absolutely amazing to be there in person and feel the energy and witness history unfolding before our eyes. That said, the whole campaign season was pretty exciting, as well as election night. A personal highlight for me was getting a new job, which I feel so blessed to have.

Last year, I didn't really have one resolution. I created my list of 101 in 1,001 things to do, which included many resolutions and other things to do. It's fun to look at all I was able to do this last year. Crossing the finish line at Grandma's half-marathon, and watching Dave cross the line for the full marathon. We visited my grandparents in New Jersey and Dave's family in North Carolina (and they visited us too). We visited Erin and John in Chicago. Katie did a couple of photo sessions for us. I co-hosted a baby shower and had a summer pool/bbq party. I caught my first fish and managed to water ski (20 seconds or so, but I did it!) We did quite a bit of home improvement projects...including getting a new TV, dishwasher, desk and couch....and blinds for our loft. We went to a Minnesota Wild game and our seats were on the glass. Got golf clubs -- although I wouldn't say I've "learned" how to play yet. I joined a Bible study group and read lots of books.

There's more on the list that I look forward to doing this year. I want to work on my scrapbooks. I want to do more art stuff -- drawing, painting, sculpture, photography. I'd like to visit Stevie. I want to work on being a better wife and sibling and friend and aunt -- doing simple, yet meaningful things...like picking up the phone to call or sending cards or spending a day together. I want to teach my nieces how to ice skate. I want to work on saving money. I want to go to a bed and breakfast and go on a family camping trip. I want to finish renovating the master bathroom and re-organize the artwork that hangs on our walls.

Today we're going to my sister Becky's house to celebrate my mom's b-day. Her b-day was in the beginning of December, but since it's a milestone b-day (65), my dad wanted all the girls to be able to celebrate it together. Aunts and uncles will be there too. Starting the new year by celebrating my mom is a great beginning!