Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here's Where You Realize What a Big Dork I Am

If you know me in person, you already know this. It will come as no surprise to you.

If you know me any other way, it might be a surprise. But I doubt it.

I'm purging and reorganizing dresser drawers today. I always like to look around online and see if there are any good ideas that I haven't yet discovered, and today I ran across this site.

One Minute Folding Videos by Linda Koopersmith, the Beverly Hills Organizer

I pretty much agree with all of her folding techniques, except I could teach Ms. Koopersmith a thing or two about folding pajamas. Linda, you fold sets together as one unit, not separately. That way, you have the pajama top and the pajama bottom all in one neat little package.

Hi, my name is Carla, and I'm known for my folding techniques.

And yes. I actually WAS googling "how to fold panties."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Which One of You Pissed Off Mother Nature?

Because I have a real bone to pick with you.

The weather around here has been terrible. It was only last week that we had a bad ice storm, fallen trees, and lost power. Then it turned cold. So cold that you couldn't catch a breath. Today, it is 60 degrees, but we have flooding, flash flood warnings, and tornado warnings.

Mother Nature's cycle is definitely screwed up. She may need some hormone therapy soon if it doesn't straighten out.

Speaking of therapy, I've been knitting. I know, big surprise there. But it's knitting for ME now. Me, me, me. After a couple of months of doing gift knitting, I'm back to having something on the needles that is just for me.

I picked up this yarn (Lion Brand Sock Ease) a month or so ago at Hobby Lobby when they opened. I love the cheery pink color. It's not super expensive sock yarn, but it has aloe in it and so far it is knitting up nicely, so it might be a good alternative to the gut wrenching feeling I get whenever I think about spending $40 on handpainted sock yarn. There are some nice colors and best of all, it only takes one skein for a pair of socks and it runs under $10.00 for a skein.

I'm making the Lacy Mock Cable Socks by ScarlettKnits and so far, I love the pattern. It's easy to memorize and is a nice break away from plain stockinette socks yet not too complicated.

And the best part? They are for me! Sorry, but it's the selfish, only child coming out. Sometimes I can't control her.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holy Hole

Remember how last year I said "you can never have too many stud walls for the holidays."

When I said it, I never imagined that one full year later, I'd be saying the same thing. Why yes, that IS another hole in our wall. No, we don't park the Jeep in the house - that actually IS our garage.

We had to move the door to the garage over by a few feet to accommodate our new bathroom, so the first step was to remove the old door.

NOW it feels like the holdays around here.

Ice Ice Baby

Last week Illinois got a nasty pre-Christmas present in the form of a lot of snow and a ton of ice.

We mainly got ice - and lots of it - where we live. Unfortunately, there was a massive amount of damage to the trees in our yard. There has been even more damage since the pictures were taken because the ice has remained and the wind has picked up. Limbs are snapping like crazy. We are going to have a months worth of work when the weather clears just trying to clean it all up.

We actually fared better than some of our neighbors whose yards look like a tornado went through. We saw a lot of fence damage and some car damage, but no roof damage.

We also lost our power for a day which was pretty scary in the freezing cold temperatures. My dad lost his power for almost three days but refused to get a hotel or let me pick him up and bring him to our house.

I love a good storm, but I'm not so fond of the ones that overstay their welcome. And this one definitely has.

The Stockings Were Hung By the Chimney With Care

At someone else's house. Because they sure aren't at ours.

I don't know what happened. Christmas snuck up on me this year. Came right up behind me and literally blindsided me.

Not only do I not have any Christmas cards done (last year they were done in October), but I don't even have our tree up. And it's not looking good for either one.

I would love to show you some of the presents that I have finished and wrapped. Except they aren't wrapped. Or finished.

If you are expecting a card or a present from me, I wouldn't suggest that you look for it before Christmas. June maybe. But not Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thai One On

You can lead a man to water, but you can't make him cook? Not true in this case. Vern has been getting into the swing of things in the kitchen. Or at least making an effort at it when I ask him to help.

We wanted to try something different. Vern has had Thai food before, but I never have. We found an easy recipe that seemed relatively healthy and easy, so we gave it a try.

Thai Chicken Salad Wrap - serves 4


  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
  • 2 green onions, cut into slivers
  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped peanuts
  • 4 large (10-inch) flour tortillas

Peanut dressing:

  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • Dash hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Cooking Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer the chicken breasts in the chicken broth over low heat for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from broth and let cool completely. (If you're using leftover grilled or roasted chicken, skip this step.)
  2. When the chicken is cool, shred it, by hand, into long shreds — just pull the chicken apart along the grain of the meat. Place in a bowl. Add the cabbage, green onions, carrot and cilantro and toss to mix.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend together all the ingredients for the peanut dressing until smooth and creamy. Pour this mixture into the chicken salad and toss to coat.
  4. Lay a tortilla on a plate and spoon 1/4 of the chicken mixture onto the middle of the tortilla. Sprinkle with some of the chopped peanuts, fold in the bottom and top, and then fold over the sides as tightly as possible. If you're eating immediately, cut the wrap diagonally in half and serve. If you're planning to eat it later, wrap securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

The only change I would make to this recipe as it was originally written would be to warm the tortillas in the microwave or oven before filling.

This recipe was a definite keeper.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Laundry Room Blues

Hang on to your hats because the excitement just never ends here. To be honest, I have piles and piles of laundry on my laundry room floor to be washed and piles and piles to be folded or put away. And I'm willing to do anything to avoid it.

Enough about my desperation. Have you ever had a problem with your washer and dryer and couldn't find the manuals? Or couldn't remember the special washing and drying instructions for that delicate piece of clothing or those curtains in the bedroom? How about stain removal? Wondering what will take out blood or wine? Or blood AND wine if you really had a bad night.

That's where having a laundry room notebook comes in handy.

I have one that I keep in my laundry room. I even made a fancy pants cover for it. Like I said, I'll go to great lengths to actually avoid doing real work.

Inside my notebook, I keep my washer and dryer instructions. I have an electronic washer that thinks it is smarter than me (it may well be, who knows.) Occasionally, it will start flashing numbers and letters at me for some shortcoming that it thinks I have and I have to use my manual to figure out the specific transgression that I am guilty of this time.

I also keep stain removal guides in my notebook. I never really use them since there is nothing on this earth that is going to take out the stains from Vern's work clothes and I gave up trying years ago, but just in case I ever actually care about a stain, that information is waiting and ready. You know, in case the Internet doesn't work or something.

I also keep other laundry tidbits in there. Like folding instructions for fitted sheets. Yes, there really is a better method than wadding them up in a ball and shoving them in the drawer. I said "better," not faster.

I have a section for each room and put the washing instructions for rugs, curtains, bedspreads, etc. in that area. I usually never get around to washing those things, but if I need to, I'll know how. (Frankly, it's easier to replace them.) There's also a section like this for clothing. I don't really have that much stuff that has special washing instructions but I might get invited to an inauguration or something someday and have a special outfit that I refuse to get dry cleaned anyway even though the instructions tell me to.

Last but not least is the section for all those buttons and pieces of yarn that come with every piece of clothing that I buy. They come in their own little bags, so they must be important. Once again, sewing buttons on and making repairs isn't really high on my list of things to do, but it at least has a shot of getting done if I can find a button to sew on. I use business card protector pages for these to keep them all neat and tidy. That's important because you don't want messy buttons. You've already balled up your sheets without folding them, don't let the buttons get the best of you.

No reason to actually do laundry when you can organize it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Apologies

My apologies to my husband's coworkers. As part of his new diet, I sent him to work with pinto beans, hard boiled eggs, lots of vegetables, and bean soup. I didn't do this with malice or forethought, but in the end, it's better you than me.

Be warned, next week he wants broccoli too.

If it's good enough for our President, it's good enough for him.

This is Not a Cooking Blog

I feel compelled to remind you, and myself, that this is not a cooking blog. I have some good recipes that I share from time to time and I may or may not include a picture, but I don't do the fancy stuff that Pioneer Woman does or even some of my online buddies like Tanya, Kami, and Suzanne. (By all means, check out their blogs if you want great cooking blogs!)

That said, you may wonder why all of a sudden there are several recipes showing up here. Long story short, it's because I've been trying several new recipes lately and I'm going to be trying several more in the near future.

This is all a result of Vern's recent issues with his vision. We've spent the past week going from one doctor to another and having one test followed by more tests. It turns out that he has a blood clot blocking an artery in his retina. It's similar to a stroke, but in his eye. There is no real treatment for it. It may or may not resolve. He may or may not lose vision in that eye.

What is for sure is that it is most likely caused by the continuing problem with his blood pressure. I'll spare you the details, but it's been a recent discovery in the past year and one that we have been working on, although half heartedly.

However, that's all in the past. We have been instructed to bring his blood pressure down and to bring it down now. As a result, we are working on a huge change in diet around here - including more healthy foods, less meat, and more vegetables, beans, and fruit.

Which is the long way of saying, here are a couple new recipes I tried tonight that were definite winners.

The first recipe is for crunchy baked chicken. Trust me - you'll want to try this one. So easy and so incredibly good. I could have eaten a whole flock of crunchy baked chickens.

Crunchy Baked Chicken

Makes 3 servings

2 oz Cornflakes, crushed
3 tsp sesame seeds
1.5 tsp Paprika
Salt & pepper
3 - 3 ounce thin chicken breasts
3 Tbsp skim milk
3 tsp margarine or butter

Combine first four ingredients and set aside. Dip chicken in skim milk; coat with cereal mixture. Place on nonstick pan and dot each with 1 tsp butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until done.

(Note - I was actually out of Corn Flakes today and I used Special K cereal instead. It was wonderful!)

These potato wedges are so simple, it is almost embarrassing, but whatever.

Oven Fries

Makes 3 servings

3 - 5 ounce potatoes
4 tsp olive oil
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper

Cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise. Brush with olive oil; sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 450 degrees or until done.

(when I cooked these two together, I baked the potato wedges for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees and then turned the oven down to 400 degrees and added the chicken and cooked for the remaining 15 minutes.)

Hot Tamales and Tofu

Remember my Hot Tamale socks? I finished them a few weeks ago (finally) and didn't get around to posting a picture of them (not unlike how we haven't gotten around to grouting the kitchen floor either, so please try to ignore that.)

They are nothing special, but at least they are done.

Which brings me to the tofu. (wasn't that a smooth transition to a new subject??!!)

I found a really good recipe for a Peanut Butter spread made with tofu. WAIT! Don't run away. Stay with me here - I promise, it's worth it.

Peanut butter is so yummy but it is so high in calories that it's a diet wrecker. But it's so yummy. It also has a ton of fat. Did I mention that it's yummy?

This recipe is a perfect one if you've never tried tofu before or think you don't like tofu. It's great to spread on apples and celery.

Peanut Butter Dip

1/2 cup silken tofu (1/3 container)
1/2 cup peanut butter

Puree peanut butter with a blender or in food processor until smooth. Blend in the peanut butter until mixed well.

Use for apple dip, celery, etc.

Servings: 8
Serving size: 2 Tbsp.
Keeps 5-7 days in refrigerator

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brown is My Favorite Color

Do you know what is even better than Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
Yes, it's UPS Tuesday!

Oh, how I love getting mail, especially the kind that comes in a brown cardboard box and is delivered by an elf all dressed in brown arriving in a brown sleigh.