Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So sweet!

In my opinion, when a person makes a big, fancy meal, the important food items should be prepared first. With that in mind, I made all my sweets for Thanksgiving ahead of time. :-)

Last night, I baked an apple pie. At least, that's what the recipe said: "Easy Swedish Apple Pie." And yes, I specifically did a search for "easy apple pie" recipe. I found the recipe here, on The recipe actually seemed so easy that I decided to add in the "tweakings" that were posted in the first review (by pavonee). Once I got the apples peeled, cored, and sliced, the recipe really couldn't have been easier. However, once I was finished putting it together, I began to question whether or not this is really a pie. There is no bottom crust. You just put the apples into the pie plate, and then spread the flour/sugar/cinnamon/egg mixture over the top of them. Really, what I put into the oven looked more like an apple crisp than an apple pie.

However...whatever you call it, can you really go wrong with apples, cinnamon, and sugar?? While it was baking, it smelled incredibly good!! And when it came out, it looked really good, too!
I have been good about saving my goodies for Thanksgiving dinner, so I haven't tried this apple "pie" yet, but I'm really excited about it! I'm also excited about what I made tonight - a milk chocolate pecan pie! It's in the oven as I type this (so I'll post a picture and other info later), and the only thing I'm worried about is the amount of filling the recipe made. I should have used a much deeper pie shell...and I'm really glad that I put the pie on a baking sheet in the oven! Quite a bit of the gooey chocolate pecan filling has overflowed already. Oops.

And finally...since I've had a couple requests for it, here's the recipe for the cranberry sauce I made the other night. It was originally in Bon Appetite magazine, but I don't know what issue. My friend Abby sent it to me.
  • 1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Directions: Bring all ingredients to boil in a heavy medium saucepan, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most cranberries burst, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. **The sauce can be made up to a week ahead of time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Few Details

I don't have a lot of time to blog today, but I wanted to post a few things. Shawn and I were able to get quite a bit done yesterday, but I still have some things to do today before going to get my parents at the airport. For some bizarre reason, I bought a graham cracker pie crust yesterday instead of a "regular" one, so I'll need to go back to the store to get a crust for the chocolate pecan pie I plan on making sometime today. And I guess I'll have to make a cheesecake sometime soon! Oh darn. :) There are still a couple things that I'd like to get at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (still using leftover wedding gift cards!) for the kitchen. I realized I'm short a saucepan for the meal I'm planning on making Thursday, and I don't own a meat thermometer. I have a little bit of cleaning left to do, but other than that, the apartment is ready for Mom and Dad! Oh...and we're planning on finally going to get our license plates today. Nothing like waiting until a busy day to do that. :)

But on to the things I wanted to post. First of all, the official Thanksgiving cooking has begun! Shawn and I aren't big cranberry fans, but my dad wanted cranberry sauce. He would've been content with pre-made stuff, but my friend Abby sent me a recipe for it. Since the cranberry sauce can be made up to a week ahead of time, I made it last night! It was super easy, and although I haven't tried it yet, it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself!We also put the finishing touches on our 2nd bedroom last night. I made up the "bed" (futon), we put an extra floor lamp in, and Shawn hung a few pictures on the wall. It is still a bit of a storage area, but now it's just a bookshelf (crammed with all our books...not counting the ones in boxes in storage) and another shelf with all of Shawn's outdoor gear (organized in plastic crates).

So that you can fully understand what we've accomplished, here are some before and after shots. This is what the bedroom looked like the day we moved in:And this is what the bedroom looks like this morning:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Almost Ready

Shawn and I are almost ready for my parents' visit! They'll be arriving tomorrow afternoon, so we've been hurrying to get lots of things done in preparation for their arrival. This weekend, we got up the majority of our Christmas decorations. (We still need to put the outdoor lights on the porch.) I'll put pictures in a separate post later this week. We also have finally finished making our 2nd bedroom a guest room as opposed to a storage area. Once I finish cleaning in there and make the "bed" (aka - the futon), I'll post before and after pics. I think you'll be impressed. :) I've also been working on making some Christmas presents. Some of these will need to be done before I leave for the airport, since I don't want my parents to see them. ;)

Since we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I've been planning my menu for quite awhile now. Although most of the recipes I've found seem pretty easy, I'll admit that I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing. The problem, really, is that I've never made most of these dishes before. I'm really hoping for beginner's luck to kick in, although often when I make something, it takes a time or two before I really do a good job on a recipe. I found the recipes for the turkey, chocolate pecan pie, and apple pie on, and they all received rave reviews, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Like I said, I need to leave for the airport to pick up my parents in approximately 26 hours. In that time, I need to do some dishes, do a couple loads of laundry, vacuum all the floors, clean the bathroom, mop the kitchen, clean off the kitchen counter, make a grocery list and go shopping, make the cranberry sauce, make 2 pies, and finish those Christmas presents I mentioned. Oh, and I need to dust and straighten up the living room and clear off the dining room table. That's all do-able, right?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Phone Books...Why?

When was the last time you actually used a phone book? I mean, actually picked up the big ol' yellow pages or white pages and thumbed through it to find the phone number or other information that you need? Personally, if I need the information that a phone book can provide me, I just look online. And yet most of us probably have multiple phone books delivered to our homes and businesses every year. Do you keep all of your phone books? Recycle them? Throw them away?

I found the following statistics on (Click the link to see the original page.)

Over 500 million of these directories are printed every year. That is nearly two books for every person in the country! These directories produce a staggering amount of waste, not only in terms of misused natural resources but also in filling of valuable landfill space.

To produce 500 million books:
  • 19 million trees need to be harvested
  • 1.6 billion pounds of paper are wasted
  • 7.2 million barrels of oil are misspent in their processing (not including the wasted gas used for their delivery to your doorstep)
  • 268,000 cubic yards of landfill are taken up
  • 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are squandered

The cost associated with the delivery and disposal of these books is exorbitant. Unfortunately, these unsolicited costs fall heavily on consumers. Why are we paying for something that was delivered to our homes and offices that we did not ask for?

In my mind, that seems like a huge waste for something that a lot of us don't bother using and probably never asked to be given. If you're reading this and thinking that something should be done about all these superfluous phone books (and yes, "superfluous" is my all time favorite word), you might want to opt out of receiving yours.

You can read more about the Yellow Pages Goes Green organization and you can opt out of receiving your phone books by clicking on this link: Stop delivering my phone books!

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Coat!

For quite awhile now, I've been thinking about getting a new coat. I've been wearing a black pea coat from Old Navy for about 7 or 8 years now...I'm just normally too cheap to spend the money to get a new one when the old one works just fine! I've had my eye on a certain style of coat for over a year now, but still...the money problem kept me from actually buying one. And now that we live in a climate that doesn't get very cold (compared to Colorado or Ohio), it seemed a little silly to buy a new coat now.

However, all that being said...I was shown a link to a coat at Nordstrom's that's almost exactly the style I've been wanting. And since it's actually a Juniors coat, it wasn't very expensive! I went today to try it on and found that it's not very thick, which means it's ideal for the weather we have here! And finally, the best part? I remembered that I had a gift card to Nordstrom's left over from the my new coat was free!

Here is the coat that I bought. It looks better with the top button unbuttoned.

(And I have no idea what's been going on with posting pictures on blogger doesn't matter that I told it to post a "small" picture...all the pictures come out HUGE and then I have to try to resize them by hand. If anyone knows what I can do to fix this, please feel free to let me know!)

Crochet Frustration

I'm having some issues. After making my first scarf, I decided that I felt confident enough to try following a pattern to make a cute scarf as part of a Christmas gift for a friend. In the first scarf I made, the rows were horizontal...they just ran the width of the scarf, so there were LOTS of short rows. In this second scarf, though, the rows are vertical...the rows run the length of the scarf, so there are only about 7 really long rows. Keep this in mind.

When I first began making the scarf, I got 3 long rows finished before I realized that I had made this scarf too short. There was no way I was going to give a friend a scarf that was too short, so I ripped out what I had done so far and started over, making it much longer. This time, though, I began to second guess my stitches. About half-way through my 2nd row, I decided that I had done the first row incorrectly. So I ripped it out again and started over again. When I finished the scarf, I noticed that it didn't look right. I asked Shawn to look at it, and he agreed. One side (the side I started with) was much tighter than the other, so the entire scarf had a sort of rainbow effect.

After thinking about it...I decided I couldn't give that one to my friend. So I started over. I thought I knew what I had done incorrectly in the other one, so I was more careful with the first real row of stitches. After finishing about 2 and a half rows, I realized that the scarf was beginning to look just like the one I'd finished...and the first row was really tight. guessed it. I ripped it out and started over. Again. After looking up some things online, I decided that the problem was with my foundation chain. I'd made it too tight, which meant my first row of stitches was too tight. To solve this problem, I used a bigger hook to make the foundation chain and then switched to the smaller hook for the stitches. Now I have 2 rows finished, and I'm cautiously optimistic. I think it's looking better than the other ones I've been working on.

But I have to admit...I'm really getting sick of this particular color of yarn. :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


By the time anyone reads this, it will most likely be Thursday, November 20th. Now I realize that it's still a week until Thanksgiving, but go inside any store these days, and you can tell by the merchandise that Christmas is coming soon! Normally, I'm one of the people who adamantly feels that we should not start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving. However...Thanksgiving is rather late this year. So if we stick to the "no getting ready for Christmas until after Thanksgiving" rule, we'll have less than one month before the big day!

I'll admit...I've already made my Christmas card list and purchased the cards. I've also bought a wreath, a fake pine garland for the mantle, and a Christmas tree. Shawn and I have agreed to start decorating this weekend. I've also begun making a "wish list" on Amazon (in case any of you who are reading this would like to get me a present...). :) I've decided that it's okay to start a little early this year for a few reasons. Like I've mentioned, my parents are coming here for Thanksgiving. We'd like to let them see our place decorated for the holidays! Also, we're going to be out of town for the actual Christmas holiday, so decorating early now will make up for the few days that we won't get to enjoy our decor later in the season. And the main reason I'm excited to get ready for Christmas...this is the first year that Shawn and I get to prepare together! Last year, we got married on December 21st. With all the craziness before the wedding, we just never had time to decorate. We spent Christmas in Jamaica last year! And besides, this is the first time that we'll be able to decorate our apartment...we didn't move in together until after the honeymoon last year.

So to leave you feeling a little Christmas-y too, I give you one of my favorite holiday commercials. (I couldn't find the Campbell's soup commercial where the snowman walks in and "melts" into the red-headed kid.)

A Day in the Life

I feel the need to blog, but I don't feel like I have lots to write about. Although I manage to avoid boredom, my days aren't exactly exciting these days. Take today, for example. I slept in later than I should (although in my defense, I have been doing better with this lately). I did some things online, like check my email, update my facebook status, read the blogs I follow, chat with some friends on the nest...things like that. After showering and getting dressed, I cleaned the shower. I also went through a couple more boxes in the 2nd bedroom (which is well on its way to being an actual guest room). Shawn came home for lunch, so I hung out with him and ate lunch while he was here. After he left, I spent some time working on my application to begin substitute teaching for another district near here. Then I made my grocery list and headed out. I stopped at Walmart first, where I bought a fake, pre-lit Christmas tree, some other decorations, and our Christmas cards! I'm excited about those. :) Then I went to the grocery store and bought all our groceries for the week. By the way, I've been proud of myself for normally coming in well below budget on our groceries. :)

After the grocery store, I did a few more things online and waited for Shawn to come home. Once he got here, we each had a Lean Cuisine for dinner (we do this on days he has rugby practice). Then I finished crocheting a scarf and decided that I didn't go a good job on it. Since this scarf is actually supposed to be part of a Christmas gift, I decided to make a new one. Most of the crocheting was done while Shawn was gone at rugby practice and while watching House and Fringe, two shows I've begun watching regularly. And now I'm writing this.

Frankly, that's pretty typical of a day for me these days. I've started trying to get out and walk around the lake at least a few days a week. I also finished reading Jane Eyre last week and went to a book club on Sunday afternoon (where I met some nice girls...hopefully this will become a monthly event). I baked some cookies last night. It was only half the recipe, but Shawn and I already finished all of them. This is why I don't bake more often. :) Oh! Shawn and I did get our new driver's licenses in the mail this afternoon! It seems a bit odd to see a Washington state driver's license with my name and picture on it in my wallet.

I think I've already mentioned that my parents will be coming here for Thanksgiving. I've been busy planning out the menu, which is a little scary for me, since most of what I'll be making will be things I've never made before. We also need to have that 2nd bedroom ready for them before they get here, and we also hope to have decorated for Christmas before they come. Since they'll be here next Tuesday afternoon, we should have a busy week ahead of us!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Success in the Kitchen

Since I'm still not working these days, I've been trying to cook a lot more. Although I've had a couple issues lately, I've mainly had some success! I've tried a couple of recipes from KraftFoods which have been pretty good. I've also made some meals in the crockpot...I'm loving that thing! Who knew it was so easy to make a really good dinner? :) For example, the first dish I tried was pork chops. I just put potatoes and onion in the bottom of the pot, then put the pork chops on top of them. This time, I seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and then I poured a can of cream of mushroom soup over everything. 6 or 7 hours later...the most tender pork chops I've ever had!

One of my favorite meals has always been beef roast, but I'd never tried making it before. So when my friend Kim was raving about making a roast in the crockpot, I was excited to try. The first time I tried it (a couple weeks ago), it didn't work out very well. You know how a roast should just fall apart when you put a fork in it? Well, Shawn and I had to use steak knives to eat the roast that first time. Definitely not tender! I asked a few friends for some suggestions, and the basic consensus was that I needed to cook it longer, and I could probably use less water.

So earlier this week, I got up early (before 8:00am...which is really early for me these days!) to start making dinner. I sliced up 3 smallish potatoes and put those on the bottom of the crockpot. Next came a little yellow onion and a little red onion, followed by some baby carrots. I then seasoned the roast with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash, then plopped it on top of the veggies in the crock pot. Finally, I poured a cup of water over everything and turned the crockpot on low. This time, the roast cooked for about 11 hours...and it was wonderful!! Very moist and tender.

Shawn's enjoyed eating the cold leftovers for lunch the last couple days. I've also had leftovers for lunch this week, but I put a little garlic and pepper marinade on the beef and put it in the microwave. I think my leftovers might have been better than the original roast! So next time I make the roast, I might add a little garlic. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale

I haven't done any kind of a book review on here in awhile, so I thought I'd share a book I recently read, The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield. I originally planned on reading it for a book club, but by the time I got it from the library, the book club had already taken place. I'm so glad, though, that I read it anyway!

There are certain books that remind me of childhood. By that, I don't mean that they remind me of "my" childhood, but rather they bring back some memory of first realizing the magic of books and stories. The Thirteenth Tale did this for me.

Best-selling author, Vida Winter, has never told anyone anything about her life. But as this book opens, she has contacted our narrator, Margaret Lea, and asked her to write a biography. We learn Miss Winter's story through the eyes and mind of the biographer.

The story itself is very good. I found myself quickly drawn and in trying to piece together the mysteries as I waited for "Miss Winter" to tell the rest of the story. I think my favorite part of the book, though, was simply the quality of the writing. If you enjoy reading...definitely check out this book.

Although this is a "modern" novel (published in 2006), it has many characteristics of many of the 19th century classics. The author actually refers many times to Jane Eyre throughout the course of the novel. As a result, the book club that originally read The Thirteenth Tale decided to read Jane Eyre for November, so at the moment, I'm enjoying rereading that novel!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My First Scarf

I did it! I crocheted a scarf, all by myself. :) A month ago, I had never held a crochet hook, and last night, I finished my first scarf. I may have mentioned before that I used a book recommended to me by my friend Melissa. It's Teach Yourself Visually: Crochet. It took a little trial and error at first to figure out what to do, but then I was able to follow the instructions in the book to figure out how to do a number of different stitches. I decided that the only way I'd ever have a sense of accomplishment with crochet would be if I actually made something, and a scarf seemed simple enough. it is!
A few words of explanation, though. I didn't use a pattern. I found a scarf pattern in the book, but the only thing I took from it was the width of the rows and one of the stitches. Obviously, you can see that I used 2 colors. That's mainly because I assumed I would need more than one skein of yarn, and those were the 2 colors I bought to practice with. The "blocks" each have 16 rows simply because I had done 15 rows in one color when I decided I should use both colors. In order to change yarn, I did one more row. Unfortunately, since I wasn't using a pattern, I had no idea how many rows to do, so I just kept crocheting until I ran out of yarn. And that's how I ended up with's a bit long. When I wrap it around my neck once, the ends still go down to about my knees. I'm thinking I should give it as a gift to someone maybe Shaquille O'Neal or Yao Ming.

For my next project, I'll be making another scarf, but this time, I'm planning on following a pattern. My intention is to give it to a friend for Christmas (as part of our "handmade gifts only" gift exchange!), so wish me luck!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekend Update

I'm not sure why I've fallen behind in blogging lately. I think it's just because I don't really have anything exciting going on these days. Still haven't gotten the info I need to start subbing, so I'm still spending my days as a Stay At Home Wife. Except for that little "no income" detail, I don't mind. :)

So here's an update from the last few days. Last week, we took the furniture to Goodwill, and I sadly discovered that the chairs we wanted to buy are no longer available. I took Shawn's car in for an oil change and an emissions test, but I was told that his car didn't need an emissions test this year. Mine did, however, so I got that done last week, too.

On Friday evening, I went out with a friend! She's a girl that I "met" on the Nest. We discovered during our conversation that we both met our husbands online, so maybe that's why neither of us had a problem meeting someone else that we met through the internet. She was very nice, and I had a good time. Shawn was also excited to learn that her husband likes diving (so maybe he'll have someone to go with now) and that they have a sailboat. :)

Saturday was, of course, a rugby day. But before the game, we stopped by the bank and got our joint accounts set up. We thought that it would be raining all day, but it was actually pretty nice weather! There were two games as usual, and Shawn played in the second game (in this league, the better teams play second), so I sat in the car during the first game and read a little more of Jane Eyre. After the games, we went downtown with the teams to The Owl and Thistle, which is a cute little Irish pub.

Sunday was church, followed by brunch at a restaurant Shawn thought I'd like. It was good! And I think it was our first time going out for brunch since we've moved here. We then spent the afternoon moving stuff into our storage closet. It's not completely finished, but we made a good dent in it, and the room is well on its way to becoming an actual guest bedroom instead of a storage room.

Obviously, we still have some things from our to-do list to work on, but we're getting there!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Things To Do

A month ago today, things were relatively calm in the little town of Evergreen. Shawn and I were doing all the tasks that needed to be complete before the movers came. A month ago tomorrow...the storm hit. The packers came and all our things were sucked into boxes. The next day, everything was loaded onto a truck. And the day after that, I started my drive to Washington.

In the time that we've been living in our apartment, we've gotten lots of things accomplished. In most areas of our apartment, it actually looks like adults live here! (Just don't pay attention to the 3 gaming systems set up next to our television.) Oh! I just realized that I never posted pictures of the mostly finished apartment...let me do that.
Anyways, as the calendar is quickly rushing us towards the holidays, I've realized that we still have a number of very important things that we have to take care of ASAP! As of today, I'm still waiting to get the rest of the information that I need in order to begin substitute teaching in the local school district. Therefore, I'm still not working. So I'll get as much of this stuff done by myself as I can, and Shawn and I will just have to find time to get the rest of it done...probably during his lunch breaks.
Here's what we still need to do:
  • Take some furniture to Goodwill
  • Buy 2 new chairs for the living room (ideally...or we can just keep the loveseat)
  • Driver's license: both Shawn and me
  • New license plates: both Shawn's car and mine
  • Emissions test: both Shawn's car and mine
  • Set up joint bank account (since our old bank doesn't have any branches here)
  • Move all our extra stuff into the storage closet that we were finally able to get, and thereby turn the "junk/storage room" officially into the "guest bedroom" that it's intended to be
  • Oil change: Shawn's car
  • Take my car to mechanic (the check engine light keeps turning on and off)
  • Read Jane Eyre (this one is just for me...I'm going to try to participate in a book club on November 16th)

I'm thinking that list should keep us plenty busy for the next week or two! And considering my parents are coming here for Thanksgiving and will be arriving 3 weeks from yesterday, I'm guessing that I'll have plenty more things to put on my to-do list before they come!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Birthday to Shawn!

Yesterday was Shawn's 31st birthday!!! Happy birthday to Shawn! :) This weekend, we started celebrating Shawn's birthday a little bit early...dinner and a movie on Saturday was his choice. We went to a restaurant called Shawn O'Donnell's, which isn't far from here. It's one of the places that Shawn would occasionally go with a guy from work before I moved out here, and they've got good Irish-American food. We also saw Body of Lies, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. It was okay. It seemed to drag on (I checked my watch after an hour, hoping that the movie was almost over), and the storyline seemed unnecessarily complicated. By the end, it also went too far into the "political message" that Shawn and I didn't really agree with.

Since Sunday was actually Shawn's birthday, he chose what we did all day long. I was shocked when he decided not to do anything outdoors and tiring! Instead, what he really wanted to do was just stay home and relax. So after we slept in and then went to church, that's what we did. We got McDonald's for lunch because it was easy (and we both got chocolate dipped cones in honor of his birthday). Then Shawn got his birthday presents.

I bought him two guidebooks. One is Hiking in Snohomish County (which is where we live). Apparently, our county stretches from the Puget Sound in the west to some of the mountains in the east, so there is actually some good hiking not too far from here. The other guidebook is a Falcon guide to Mountainbiking in the Puget Sound Area. One of the things that Shawn misses about where we lived in Colorado is the open space park we lived next to, where he loved to go biking. So hopefully this book will give him some good places to go biking without having to drive an hour or two to get there!
I then also bought him a game for his Xbox 360...Bioshock. He put this in to play for "30 minutes." I think it turned into more like an hour and a half. I think he likes it. :)

The rest of the day, we just hung around the house together. I made a pizza at his request; we played a little MarioKart; we watched a little TV. That's really about it. Shawn, I hope you had a wonderful birthday!! I love you very much! :-)