Thursday, February 26, 2009

Snow!

We got sacked with snow today. In a matters of hours we received 4-6 inches of snow.

Sometimes snow can be a good thing. Example: You get told the office is closing and you get to leave 1 1/2 hours early. School is canceled and you don't have to worry about finding the extra half-hour in your day to finish the reading. You get to let the dogs off their leashes and let them run free.

Not sure what it is about snow. But it makes my dogs so excited. They literally run around in circles. The faces get covered in snowflakes. It's so fun to watch them have so much fun. But not for too long, because, hey, it gets cold quick!

Today, Cooper's girlfriend, Lily, came outside and the two get to play a little game of tag.

video

Here's some photos I took of the boys. They haven't changed much since I last posted pics. They're dogs. They're not supposed to change. But something did happen to Otis' lip. It almost looks like he got my cold sore. Can dogs get cold sores?

Mua! Catching Cooper kissing his girlfriend.


He's so pretty!

A close-up of Cooper.

Otis looks like he doesn't want his picture taken. I know he's saying, "Mom, don't take a photo of me with a cold sore. It's so embarrassing."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dave's training for Grandma's again...

....That means he's blogging again too! If you want to follow along with Dave as he trains for Grandma's Marathon in June, read his blog.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Recipe, Week 5

This last week, I only made one new recipe. Cabbage Roll Casserole.

A friend at work was talking about making cabbage rolls. That's something my Grandma makes, but I haven't had in years. So I thought I'd try making them. But when I was searching for a recipe, I came across this casserole recipe, which sounded so much easier. Being lazy, I opted for the easy recipe.

And it tasted just like cabbage rolls. The leftovers were even better that the original night.

As far as the recipe goes, I followed some of the other users comments. I added some spices like paprika and garlic. I also just cooked it all in a pot in the stove, since that was faster.

I forgot to ask Dave how many jalapenos he gives this....so I'll have to update this later.

I gave it 3 jalapenos.

Here's the links for my weekly new recipe post: New recipe, week 4 New recipe, week 3, New recipe, week 2, New recipe, week 1

I can cross this to-do in my 101 in 1,001 list now!!!! I've made at least one new recipe every week for the last month. woo woo.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Networking...

If there is one thing that I hate doing....it's networking with people I don't know. To me networking reminds me of junior high dances -- especially during slow songs -- when I would awkwardly wait on the sidelines praying someone would come around and ask me to dance, and I would slowly become disappointed as the first verse would slip into the chorus and my chances of getting asked to dance would dwindle to nothing, and then I would find myself wishing I could be anywhere but standing alone surrounded by happily dancing couples. And even though I knew no one was going to ask me to dance, I would still get disappointed every time. Every. Time. (Perhaps I need a therapist?)

Back to this post's topic....

Luckily for me, I had the challenge opportunity to do some networking at this morning's MIMA event.

But when you're in a room filled with people you don't know...what are you going to do?

Option a) Stand in the corner all by yourself picking at a plate of fruit

or

Option b) Put your pride on the line and go introduce yourself to someone who *could be* waiting for you on the sidelines and hope that this person is 1) not a vendor and 2) able to carry on a decent conversation for a couple of minutes.

Despite my shyness and distaste for talking to people I don't know, I figureed Option B is the better way to go.

My first attempt was a foul ball. The two ladies I spoke with were not vendors, but not really interested in carrying on a decent conversation.

My second attempt was a triple. I met a nice lady who was not a vendor and was able to converse. And she even introduced me to a couple of other people. And she even invited me to join her for another networking session for a different professional group.

So I got through my morning and did a decent job. Networking doesn't have to be hard -- if you don't get too caught up on the fact that you're in a room and don't know a single soul. Thinking about this whole notion of networking, got me recalling that somewhere I made a goal to get more comfortable with meeting people. And wouldn't you know? It's right there on my list of 101 in 1,001. I seriously don't think I'll ever be fully comfortable with meeting new people and be able to cross it off my list, but hey, I'm making an effort.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Who's the big loser?

Tonight I'd rather sit on the couch eating a bowl of ice cream and watch The Biggest Loser than go to the gym.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Recipe, Week 4

This week I made a couple of new recipes. Good ones!!! I'm almost done with the challenge of making at least one new recipe every week for a month from my 101 in 1,001 list.

Sunday night, I used a recipe that I got at a wedding shower. At one of my showers, each guest gave me a favorite recipe and this is the first time I tried any of them!!! This one turned out good, so I might have to try the others. Since I can't link to the recipe card, here it is for you (my source is my former next-door neighbor Sheila). I modified it some, so here's my version.

Chicken Wings Pacifica.
2 lbs chicken wings
1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp dry mustard
1 cup water

1. Combine all the ingredients (except the chicken) in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter melts and sugar dissolves.
2. Put chicken into a crockpot. Pour sauce mixture over the chicken.
3. Cook on low for 4 hours, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

I made this with a fried rice recipe I modified. I got the recipe off of allrecipes.com, but there are a bunch and I didn't save the particular one I used. And it wasn't the best fried rice I ever made, so I don't even want to bother finding the recipe. :)

The chicken, on the other hand, was awesome. Dave gave it 5 jalapenos. I gave it 4.5 jalapenos. The rice: Dave gave it 2 jalapenos (b/c I put peas in it. Minus the peas, he says it was 4). I gave it 3 jalapenos.

Later in the week, I made chicken stroganoff. (I used chicken. The recipe says turkey.) I really liked this recipe. It was a lighter version of beef stroganoff. I loved having the carrots in addition to the mushrooms. My only complaint was that the sauce didn't get very thick. Next time, I'll have to use a little more corn starch.

Dave and I both gave the recipe 4 jalapenos.

To see the other recipes I've been making, please visit these posts: New recipe, week 3, New recipe, week 2, New recipe, week 1

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

This year, I have a new-found appreciation for Valentine's Day. No, not for the candy and the cards. But for the meaning behind it. Love.

Today I found myself comparing Thanksgiving Day to Valentine's Day. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, because the whole day is about being thankful for all that you've been blessed with in your life. It's a day of appreciation.

To me, Valentine's Day is a day of appreciation too. But instead of just sitting there and soaking in all the gratitude, you actively make it known to the one(s) that you're most thankful for....you make it known how much you love them and how much your life is complete with them in your life.

Granted you shouldn't just share the love just one day a year, you should do it every day. But it's just taking that extra effort to make it extra known that you care that makes the day special.

Just like Thanksgiving. Each day you should count your blessings. But there's something special about taking a day just to really express your gratitude and celebrate your blessings.

Here's the love of my life with his wedding present.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nothing

"So what's new with you?" my grandpa asks me on the phone last night.

"Nothing," I reply. "Work's been busy. But nothing new."

--

Last night, I was trying to think of something to write and post on my blog.

I couldn't come up with anything. I ended up closing the window and going back downstairs to watch TV.

--

What is this? Am I really living a life where nothing goes on? Nothing more than waking up, going to work, coming home and making dinner, take the dogs outside, watch TV, and then going to bed. Night after night. Of course not!!!! There is much more to my life than that. There may not be life-shattering new things going on. Right now, I just want to take a step back and look at what's going on in my life. Time to take note of the small stuff. And I'm right it down here, so next time I talk to my grandpa, I can tell him what's really new with me.
  • My class is in full swing. I just had the second class last night. Although it's a huge challenge to get motivated to do the homework.
  • Tomorrow, I think I'm going to make a fancy dinner for Dave and I to celebrate Valentine's Day. The menu is TBD.
  • This last week the weather was unusually warm for this time of year...above freezing. The snow almost all melted.
  • Since the snow was melting, I took over an hour to pick up dog do-do in my back yard, filling up two plastic bags. The job is not done yet!!! Hopefully, Dave will help with the rest of it.
  • Tomorrow is the baby shower for my good friend, Beth. I got her gift weeks ago, since I was excited to go shopping for baby stuff. I'm excited to see how big she is now and also to see what presents the baby receives. Not too excited to play baby shower games, but I am looking forward to winning some prizes. lol.
  • Couple of birthdays for my friends this week. Andee's was yesterday and Krissy's is today. Last night I had class, so I couldn't see Andee. Krissy is vacationing in Arizona, so I won't see her either. Bummer!!
  • Work is really, really busy. In a couple of weeks, I can show you what we've done.
  • Otis has started a really bad habit. He's tripping out in the middle of the night barking like someone's trying to break in the house. It's loud and annoying and destroying my sleep pattern.
  • Yesterday, Dave had a promotion for work and had to wear a tux. I'm waiting to see pictures, since I didn't see him dressed up.
  • Wow. Can't believe I forgot this one. I bought a new light fixture for our master bathroom off of Craigslist and Dave installed it. I tried to help, but it was really hard to hold up the fixture while he connected the chords. But we did it! Stay tuned for photos (I've been lazy about posting them).
  • I bought a curtain rod and curtains at World Market (they're going out of business). They'll hopefully be put up this weekend in the loft.
  • Gracie is assimilating herself with the dogs. We've had Otis for almost three years now, but recently she's been picking up a lot of their behaviors. A couple months ago, she started licking Dave and I -- just like the dogs lick us. Now she's herding Cooper around. She likes biting his ankles. It's really cute to watch. And she's losing some of her more cat-like traits -- like hissing.
  • Our garage door motor decided to work again! Thank goodness!! And now we can park in the garage again!

I'm impressed at the size of this list that I just put together really quickly. Sometimes I just need to take a step back to realize what's really going on, take note of it, and just be thankful for it all.

Gold price per ounce

This morning as I was applying my Abreva, Dave says to me, "I wonder if that really does cost more than gold?"

(Yea! He reads my blog!)

I thought I'd look it up....since really what would I rather have....an ounce of gold or an ounce of Abreva?

Cost of gold per ounce: $945.66

Guess there isn't gold in that Abreva bottle after all. But it still works like magic.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Must be gold in here...

Today I had to buy Abreva to help heal a cold sore growth that just appeared on my lower lip.

Cost of the tiny .07 ounce bottle: $19.99 (luckily Walgreen's had a $5 off coupon, but still).

Price per ounce: $273.84

The price per ounce is useful when I'm buying cans of beans at the grocery store, and I want to know what brand is the cheapest. It's not useful when there is only one cold sore medication that I know works, and I NEED that medication.

--

Same story different topic. My hopes for any possibility of a romantic Valentine's Day just crashed and burned.

Just as well, since Dave declares he doesn't celebrate V-day ever since "Sorry for 02-14-03." Guess what goes around comes around. That's a different story for a different day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Recipe, Week 3

This was a busy week for me. Actually only made dinner twice this week. I was rather unmotivated to do any cooking, but managed to make a new recipe one night.

Last Monday, I made Velveeta Broccoli Chicken and Potatoes. I had to make a couple of modifications. First, I had the Southwestern or Mexican Velveeta, not regular in my fridge. It's basically queso dip, but in your standard Velveeta form (a block). Second I used regular potatoes (red ones). They needed to be used and I didn't have hash browns in my freezer. My modifications worked well! I had to modify the cooking instructions too, since fresh potatoes take longer to cook than hash browns. It all turned out well. Imagine a baked potato with cheese sauce, broccoli and chicken chunks. That's basically what this was...with just a little kick from my spiced-up Velveeta. This recipe was easy to make and it was all done in one pan! I like easy clean up!

Dave gave it 4 jalapenos. I gave it 4 jalapenos too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pet Peeve

Putting on my "fat pants" only to find them feeling snug.

Grrr.

I'm hoping that this is the first time I've worn them since coming out of the dryer. Sadly, I don't think that's the case.

And yes, I think it's acceptable to wear jeans more than once between washings.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Vote for Cooper!

In case you didn't notice that big button ad on the right side of my blog, I need your help! Vote for Cooper as the MVP pet.

Vacuums are to be won!

And yes, vacuums (particularly, working ones) are a source of contentness in my lame life. Proof I'm an adult, I guess.

Case #1:
With my very limited personal spending money, I choose to buy new vacuum parts (the spinning thing on the bottom and belts) instead of spending it on....well. anything.

Voting is easy. Just click on the button and you'll be taken directly to the voting form. Just fill out and submit. Thanks for your help!

Monday, February 2, 2009

February

"The day is ending,
The night is descending;
The marsh is frozen,
The river dead.
Through clouds like ashes
The red sun flashes
On village windows
That glimmer red."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Afternoon in February

Here's a sneak preview of what the Balows are up to this month. Although with the holidays done and over, we've gotten back into the same old routine. There aren't a lot of big exciting things going on...lots of work and school...and staying hunkered down until spring arrives (hopefully soon).
  • Office visits -- This month I'll be going to both Winona and Hutchinson to visit some offices and show them all the cool interactive marketing tools we offer.
  • Valentine's Day -- We don't really celebrate this holiday (it's a sore spot in our relationship, actually, since I told Dave I couldn't be his girlfriend right before he deployed to Iraq many years ago. Obviously, I changed my mind and Dave was still willing to have me. Despite my efforts to make this up to him, he still teases me about it).
  • Baby shower -- A baby shower for my friend Beth who is having a baby in May! Beth is my "battle buddy" -- her boyfriend was deployed to Iraq at the same time as Dave. Coincidentally, her boyfriend (now husband) is also named Dave.
  • Spring semester starts -- I was pleasantly surprised when I found out the semester didn't start until Feb. 5. I'm taking Communication Technology. Hopefully, I can figure it out. ;)
  • Super Bowl Party -- Yesterday we went to a friend from my work's house to watch the Super Bowl and the commercials, and eat lots of yummy food. Hooray for making friends at work!

New recipe, Week 2

This week I made three new recipes. All different. All yummy.

Going back to last Sunday when I made a meal in my crock-pot. Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Stew. Being able to utilize some vegetables I've never used on my own -- like parsnips and leaks -- made this recipe intriguing to me. Dave and I thought this was a good stew recipe. I thought that it lacked some flavor (next time I'll add minced garlic and paprika), although it tasted better when I brought it for lunch the following day. Since I knew a vegetable stew wouldn't be enough of a meal for my husband, I just bought one of those Lloyd's BBQ pork tubs and heated that in the microwave to have in addition.

Dave rated this 4 jalapenos. I rated it 3.5 jalapenos (see, I don't always rate things higher :))

Wednesday night I made Emeril's Beef and Broccoli. My friend Nicki recommended this one to me. There were some differences with what I made than the recipe -- I substituted 2 Tbsp of rice vinegar and 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar for the 4 Tbsp of Chinese black vinegar. I also used regular honey. I also only made "one batch"....meaning used 1/2 the beef and 1/2 the broccoli (but I still used the same amount of sauce). Also just used frozen broccoli, since I had it stocked in my freezer. I like Asian food, so I keep things like rice vinegar and hoison sauce in my cupboard. lol. This was my favorite meal of the week. The sauce was so authentic tasting. It was really fast and easy to make too. Dave said it was the best stir fry I've made.

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

Thursday night I found a recipe that allowed me to use the winter vegetables that were still in my fridge after making the stew Sunday night. Oven-roasted Roots. It's similar to a recipe that my sister, Becky, makes, so I hoped it'd be as good. I made it with parsnips, carrots, leeks and potatoes. I served this as a side-dish -- with hamburgers being the main course. Although, I was way more excited about the vegetables (I usually am). I think this time, Dave may have been more excited about the vegetables too. He took all the leftovers with him to have as his lunch. I love the flavor of balsamic vinegar, and it gives the vegetables great flavor. Call us weird, but Dave and I love parsnips now. But I must say, that Becky's oven-roasted root vegetable recipe is better.

Dave rated this 4 jalapenos. I rated it 4 jalapenos.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Everyone and their dog...plus a muskrat

Yesterday, everyone and their dog was at the dog park. Well, except Dave...he had to work. Otis, Cooper and I went with our friends Melissa, Mike and his dog, Hudson. The dogs had a lot of fun running around, since they hadn't been to the dog park in about two months. The park we visited had a big pond, but it was frozen...which was nice b/c it made the park a lot bigger as there was more space to run around.

Cooper was over on the side of the pond playing with another dog and what looked like a little puppy from a distance. I even said, "Hey, guys look at the little puppy Cooper's playing with."

But as I looked closer, it looked like it might be a gray football.

By now, Otis was checking this thing out. And some other dogs too.

Then, "Ew! That's not a dog or a football. That looks like a mole or a rat. Ew, it's a muskrat."

The dogs were chasing it...the muskrat was trying to run...then it froze in its tracks...the dogs were pawing at it...the muskrat was snapping back.

The muskrat was freaking out. I was freaking out too. The dogs were intrigued. "Otis, Cooper, COME!" Thank goodness they came when I called, while two crazy men picked it up and threw it onto the other side of the fence and saved all the dog park patrons from the muskrat.

Apparently, we weren't the only ones trying to enjoy the wonderfully warm weather!

And I'm thankful for dog vaccinations!