Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year in Review

I had every intention of sending out Christmas cards and a letter this year...when I didn't get it done in time, I figured I would send out a New Year's card instead.  And that didn't happen either!  However, here is a bit of our year in review...and to all of those out there, may 2011 be a blessed and successful year.

2010 in Review
* January--we put an offer on a house and it was accepted!  We were on our way to being homeowners :-)

* March--We...or shall I say, I...closed on our house!  Let the fun begin :-)  Only Justin wouldn't be back until the end of the month when all the painting and moving was done!

*April--I started my new job with USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden teaching the Life Skills curriculum.  I had just recently quit the Crisis Center so I went part-time with CASA b/c I couldn't imagine leaving them.

* June--getaway weekend with my girlfriends to Jacksonville Beach, Florida...and another appt with a specialist at Creighton Med who figured out why I had been so sick.  And all it took was Prilosec!

* July--courtesy of our First Time Homeowner's rebate, I paid off my car 7 months early :-)

* August--Justin was promoted to "Foreman" at Asplundh.  After all his hard work and dedication to the company, he was happy with the promotion!

* September--our new fence FINALLY went up after a 6-month wait.  Oh, and we got married too!!!!!!  We had about 70 of our closest family and old roommies as our guests to celebrate with us...and we had the best day of our lives!

* October--our first year for trick-or-treaters...some may not consider this a milestone, but we sure do :-)

* November--roadtrip to Lousiana to spend Thanksgiving with Justin's family

* December--Christmas with my family at the farm.  And Lil Debbie hasn't posted any pics for me to steal yet...sorry!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Mid-Century Love Affair

Yesterday afternoon I roadtripped with Mom and my sister-in-law, Nikki, to go help Mom pick out new eyeglasses...I had every intention of just riding along but I stumbled upon a great buy at the end of the day.

As I have  mentioned before, we're trying to do our house in a vintage-modern feel.  Being an older home, I want to acknowledge it's age and character with bringing in older looking pieces...but I don't want it to appear as if two 90-year olds live here and never once updated the house!  However, so many of today's modern furnishings are too matchy-matchy and boring...I may have said it before and I'll say it again, I just can't handle the cookie cutter effect.

With that said, I found a great deal on a chair that I've been eyeing for quite some was the store's floor model and being the end of December, it was on a mega sale.  I was beyond surprised to find out that it's final price was exactly on target with what I wanted to spend!  If you haven't ever checked out World Market you definately should.

Our new chair!  Only ours is in leather b/c I was worried the velvet would attract too much animal hair :-/
I completely understand that some people would go "Uckkkkkkkk!" at the sight of this chair but it makes me a little giddy!  If you have ever watched David Bromstead go wild about something on HGTV's "ColorSplash," then you'll know how I react to certain things :-) 

There are days that I honestly believe that I was meant to live in a different era.  When househunting, I really did not like anything built after the 1960s...I love our modern fashions, but I have always been in love with the clothing of the 1920s...I'm not going to complain one bit about the ammenities of today's automobiles, but I have always been fascinated with older cars.  There is definately a lot of nostalgia hiding deep down inside me!

With furniture in particular, I'm a sucker for Mid-Century Modern--nothing gets my creative juices going more than Danish furnishings or items from the Eames era. Considering our house was built in 1935, I can't go all-out Mid Century with things, though...a little blend of the 1940s, 1960s and 2010 and our house shouldn't look like it got stuck in a time warp! 

Because I have to satisfy my cravings for Mid-Century modern without taking our decor into the wrong decade, I look at all the fabulous pieces online ;-)  Some of you may have a sudden urge to vomit when looking at the pictures below...and that's okay.  I realize that everyone's tastes are different!  But to be frankly honest, these pieces make me want to jump up and down and giggle with excitement!!!

I would die to have a coffee table like this!  The one we have now is a modern spin-off but I just love the combination of glass and wood

Hello, simplicity!  I happen to think the backrests are simply stunning :-)

Gotta love all the clean lines on this credenza

If I walked into a room like this, I would just melt...tons of texture, shapes and color!  Definately reminds me of lay-outs from the Crate & Barrel catalogs

This room fits the Mid-Century bill...without the updated photography, you'd almost think you went back in time!  And I have to admit, we have the exact same shaggy rug in our living room :-)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sleeping Beauties

Justin and I have made a major decision.

Drumrolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll, please...

We WILL be getting a new mattress!

After window-shopping last week, we are starting a "New Mattress Envelope" and hopefully it will fill up quickly :-)  When we started househunting in August 2009, we were absolutely smitten with the idea of upgrading to a bigger size but we have continued to put it off.

There are many other things I would like to spend that kind of money on but the fact that the two of us sleep in a queen-size bed is ludacris...I'm not pleased with the cost difference for Queen v. Cali King bedding.  However, to be fair to the both of us and since people spend at least 1/3 of their life on a mattress it's time to make a change...And as Grandma Marcene always figured out, if you have to change something, it means you have to redecorate!  Oh, darn!

Mom made us an awesome quilt for our wedding and I love the "look" of it...however, we have found that in the winter months we need more than just the quilt to keep us warm. With the inspiration of the quilt and wanting to use it in the warmer months, I think I have found the perfect bedding for the Master bedroom...

First, let me say that I do not plan on including the deer head or random human arms in our future bedroom decor...BUT I do love how the bedding has a vintage but yet modern feel.  With our house, I'm trying to go for that type of feel but it's hard when everything is either super modern or very traditional...

I figure with this bedding, I can start pulling in some more modern, already existing elements (ie our new ceiling fan that I love and our curtain hardware!) while bringing in some more eclectic pieces like a new headboard, a night stand I've had in my old office, etc.  There are also a few stores back home that have started to sell some super neat--but not too primitive--pieces at great prices...which makes it ten times easier to redecorate when you don't have to break the bank to do so.   Also, I'm crossing my fingers that by going for an eclectic look, we can avoid painting our bedroom...I love the existing color and since our Benjamin Moore store closed, I'm boycotting all our local options :-)  Or it just allows me to really boycott the work of painting in general!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22

December 22: Play Time

Today was my first day of Winter Break...last night I celebrated by staying up until 11pm and NOT freakin out about being up past my bedtime :-)  Then this morning I slept until 9am--nothing like a good, solid 10 hours of sleep to get your day started!

I had several things on my agenda, but first I needed to find a dress for the Gubernatorial Ball on January 8...I needed to take care of this ASAP since I don't always have the best luck for dresses!  I ran to the mall and after a couple hours and running into tons of people I knew (go figure, didn't do my hair or makeup this morning!!!) I found the perfect dress.  But it was too big!

I came home as Justin and I had made plans to go window shopping for a new mattress.  We are currently sleeping on a queen-size bed that he got second-hand back in college and saying we wake up in pain is an understatement...and with me clinging to the edge!  Needless to say, it's definately worn out, too small AND I think a lot of my back/hip pain has to do with the fact that he sinks while I rise on the mattress.

After we found a mattress we liked (let's just say, it will be a while before we can afford to buy it!), my car accidentally headed towards the mall in Topeka...ooops!  Hey, he's off work until January 3rd and since the correct size of dress was in Topeka, he was going with me :-)

We picked up my dress and I also found a super cute pair of shoes to go with it.  They will be perfect with dress pants and jeans as well...and did I mention they happened to be on sale?!  Definately the makings for a good day!

Since no Topeka-run can be complete without eating at Paisano's, we went there for a late lunch.  If you've never had their Artichoke & Spinach Ravioli, you're missing out!  Sounds a little iffy but the cream sauce is divine...and fat-free, right?!  Ha!

Finally, we made it back to Manhattan and have been in bed ever since watching movies.  Lame, yes.  A waste of time, yes.  Well deserved?  YES!

Granted, I didn't get half of the things done today that I planned on doing but having a little bit of play time is definately needed and my batteries already feel recharged.  I'm hoping to make up for some lost time tomorrow and get some things done...while still enjoying some more play time here and there!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21

December 21:  Old People.

I am not good at this whole daily blogging thing.  I give up!  Obviously, the only ones who can successfully do it are the ones who get paid for their time...and that's something I haven't had much of lately!

Anyhow, I'm thankful for old people.  Always have been.  In fact, my first two jobs out of college dealt with old people and I LOVED it!  They say what they want and do what they want--which as long as the negativity isn't directed at you, it's pretty entertaining :-)  But they can also teach you invaluable life lessons that other people just can't teach as effectively...when I worked at the HUD Senior apartments, that's pretty much when all my partying and spending went from high gear to a dead zero.  Talk about a wake up call!

I took Mitzi to Petco this afternoon to get we were waiting at the counter, this old lady who was easily pushing 80 shuffled over to me and asked what kind of dog she was.  I kindly replied that she was a little Maltese and the lady said, "Ohhhhhh, I have a Peek-a-Poo at home and she looks almost exactly like your dog!"  I proceeded to make some comment about how I'm sure her dog was cute and then the groomer came out to talk with me and the lady went about her business.

A few minutes later, the old lady was back and had a 5x7" professional portrait of her dog to show me!  I'm used to old people carrying around pics of their grandbabies...but of their dogs?!  She was right, her little dog looked almost like Mitzi but it's hair was a bit curlier.  She was so PROUD of her dog!

I came home and told Justin what happened and he looked at me like the old lady was crazy.  But I still think it's awesome!  Apparently, she loves her dog quite a bit to have professional pics done...and it wouldn't have been the same if it was a 40-yr-old who had the pics taken of their animal.  In fact, I'd start wondering about some possible co-dependency.  But you know what? I'd have no problem being the 80-yr-old lady going around showing random strangers pictures of my dog :-)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December 15 & 16

December 15:  Humor.

During Life Skills, we were discussing how to make new friends and one suggestion from the curriculum was to give somebody a compliment.  I had the students give different examples of compliments that they would feel comfortable giving a person...things were going great and one of my more interesting 6th Graders had his hand up.  I called on him and he said in an EXTREMELY serious tone, "Ummmmmm...all of these compliments...they sound just like something you would say to someone if you wanted to make them your boyfriend or girlfriend...and help with furthering the world population."  And then he just started laughing like crazy.  Of course the entire class then became hysterical as well!  I even had to giggle myself because really, who puts it that way?!  If it weren't for humor, life would just suck at times!

December 16:  Techie people.

I am technologically challenged, to say the least.  Last week we ended up bundling our internet service with our existing Direct TV (hello, $55+/mo savings!!!) package and the modem arrived this week.  It would have helped if I remembered that DSL runs through a phone line and not your cable outlet because this meant our wireless router would not automatically work with the new modem.  Several attempts, a call to AT&T and two days later and we have our wireless router switched over...all to the thanks of my sister-in-law's brother!  I'm not kidding--it literally took him 2 seconds to do everything.  His techie abilities definately saved us some time, tons of frustration and the very likely stupid argument about how our other half doesn't know jack about internet stuff...when we have no clue what we're doing ourself!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14

December 14:  Secret Santa.

I received an email from one of my CASA coworkers today saying our office has adopted a family for Christmas and they were wanting to know if I was interested in helping.  Ever since I have been with CASA, it has been a tradition to do this so it was an easy YES!  I will admit that I'm always hesitant about spending the money, though.  By the time Christmas rolls around, we're tapped out.  Our major annual expenses are due in November and then we have our own gifts to take care of.  And I just feel plain broke by the time I need to pick something up for Secret Santa.

But you know what?  I would rather spend money on someone who is really going to appreciate their won't be "just another _______" that gets shoved in the back of the shelf collecting dust for who knows how many years.  I still remember the time I was doing my internship at CASA and we delivered gifts to the family who we were responsible for.  It was so heartwarming to see the kiddos smile and holler with excitement as they received their presents.  Don't get me wrong--I appreciate any gift that I am ever given...but I couldn't imagine being a child and wondering if I would get a birthday or Christmas gift this year.  And if not, what do you tell people when they casually ask, "What did you get for your birthday/Christmas?"  Do you just make something up and hope nobody knows the difference???

In the end, I always feel good about buying my Secret Santa items and feel super guilty for originally thinking "but I can't afford it this year...."  For many kids, this is the only time of year when they get something new.  Heck, my own Grandma once told us that when they were kids, they were so broke that they received only 1 doll for Christmas...and that was ALL they got throughout the entire year.  And here I am, in the course of 12 months, spending money on food we don't eat, unworn clothes that get thrown to the back of the closet and God knows what else kind of wasteful spending I do.  But having the financial ability to spend a few extra dollars at the end of the year and knowing it will bring a smile to a child's face is priceless :-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

December 11, 12 & 13th

So much for blogging a thanks each and every day!  Good thing there aren't too many weekends left before Christmas Eve to distract me :-)

December 11:  Naps.

I took my first nap in MONTHS on Saturday!  I "slept in" about 30 minutes later than I get up during the work week, made some coffee and started in on a grant report...Justin got home later that morning from a side job and I helped him make a lunch of Fried Chicken, jalapeno potatoes and fried eggs.  After cleaning up the kitchen, we started in on other parts of the house & then it was time for the K-State/Loyola game.  Within minutes, Justin was asleep in his "thrown" and I curled up on the couch under a blanket...a few minutes after the second half started I could feel my eyes getting heavy!  I really didn't do anything that would wear me out but I still dozed off for about 20 minutes :-)  Nothing like the 2-3 hour naps I prefer but a nap is a nap...I will never complain!

December 12:  Patience.

This is something that I don't have much of...just ask Justin ;-)  There are days when I can roll with the punches...but then there are days when everyone is wasting time and moving like snails.  This latter scenario is what usually tests my patience and I'm glad I have learned to realize that.  But I am thankful for what little patience I do have because there's nothing worse than losing your cool over absolutely nothing :-)

December 13: Caffeine

Yes, I realize that may seem inappropriate to some...but caffeine has become my best friend!  On a side note, I learned NEVER to say that in front of my 6th Graders because they LOVE pointing out that caffeine can be bad for a person ;-)  Anyhow, back to the subject at hand--there's times I can't get through the day without it and today was one of those days.  Last night, I was still wide awake at 11:30pm for no reason at all.  I must say, the morning wasn't as bad as I thought it would be but it wasn't easy either.  Things went pretty well until my coffee wore off around 12pm and I hit rock bottom...but guess I'll just have to go to bed early tonight to make up for everything!

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 10

December 10:  Energy.

If I could be like any "bunny" in the world, it would be this guy ------>

He just keeps going...and going...and going.

In my personal opinion, energy is nothing more than a state of mind.  Just when you think you're done in and can't go any further, you manage to push on through and keep going.

I will admit, there's days I don't want to push on through.  I keep telling myself how tired I am and I can't do anymore.

But usually, I'm not really "tired."  Instead, I'm tired of doing stuff.  I just want to sit on my happy rump and veg out.  It would be nice if the world would just stop while I decided to chill out but unfortunately things don't work that way.

We have a cousin who is fighting what the doctors believe to be an extremely aggressive form of MS...She is now in her early 40s but has been unable to ambulate on her own for a very long time now.  It has been a very emotionally taxing and scary journey for our family...but it's even scarier to think that you can go from doing everything you ever wanted to do to being incapable of accomplishing the most basic daily living skills. 

Many of the things that I am thankful for are the things I take for granted.  We are not promised tomorrow and we never know what the next day may bring.  Illnesses develop, accidents occur and the idea of energy may still exist but you may lack the ability to act on it.  Don't get me wrong, I still don't want to deal with tonight's supper that needs put away.  It's easy to tell myself, "I'm too tired to deal with it right now" but what if I didn't even have the option of doing it myself??  I'm not sure how my initial thanks for energy has turned into a thanksgiving for ability, but it has!  I guess it's just another way of realizing that I need to count every blessing that I am given :-)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 9

December 9:  My Senses.

First, I would never claim to be thankful for my common sense because somedays I'm convinced I missed the Common Sense Boat.  But....I am thankful for all of my 5 senses.

This may sounds lame and cliche to some.  However, one of the district Occupational Therapists and I were talking a few months ago about would we rather lose our hearing or our vision--assuming we could only have one and not the other...and I would definately give up my hearing first!

In college, I babysat a school-aged boy who was blind and essentially had no vision since birth.  He never knew what the world around him looked like.  Intellectually, that made sense.  But one day, he forgot his cane at school so we went back to pick it up.  Once we got out of the building, he started running and skipping with excitement...but suddenly he stopped and said, "Woah--babysitter. How far have we gone?!" with obvious panic in his voice.

Because of the running and skipping, he was unable to gauge how far he had gone...therefore, he had no idea where the sidewalk would end, how quickly the driveway was approaching or where the curbing was.  When walking, he knew exactly where everything was.  For me, that was an eye opening experience (and really, no pun intended!!!).  I take so much of my surroundings for granted and to think that running a few feet would throw you into a world of the unknown...

Back to the question posed by the OT.  Really, I don't want to lose any of my senses.  I've never had glasses--last time my eyesight was checked, it was 20/13.  My hearing is pretty good except for those days when I'm really congested :-)  My sense of taste is superb, my touch is tactile and my sense of smell is pretty good...except for, once agan, I'm congested!

I'm a VERY visual person.  I could spend hours at a time studying an inanimate object and love every minute of it...earlier this week, K-Mart received their shipment of "unique" Poinsettas and I had been waiting all season long for them.  The pink ones were absolutely stunning but I couldn't resist a blue one!

This is not the best picture of the plant, but it does show the flecks of glitter.  I know they doctored the plant up, but it's still gorgeous...and something so simple makes me thankful for my senses allowing me to enjoy the world around me :-)  And as pretty as they are, I may be tempted to fill our hearth with them next Christmas season!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 8

December 8:  House Pets.

I'm pretty sure you all know that our world revolves around our dog, Mitzi, and our cat, Malcolm...My brother always says, "You need to find a hobby" whenever I tell him stories about our animals.  I like to think that he just doesn't care because he doesn't realize how cute/funny they are!  And plus, Shawn spends all day around cows and when do they do anything cute?!  He's just missing out on the fun of house pets!

But really, I am thankful for our animals.  I could have had the absolute worst day on earth and when I walk through the door to meet Mitzi bouncing off the couch with excitement to see me, it just warms my heart...or when Malcolm decides to stop ignoring us and hang out for a bit, it brings a smile to our faces.

It's common knowledge that people with pets tend to live longer and happier lives...and I can understand why.  Granted, there are days when the animals just drive me nuts, cost us bunches of money or just turn into a major inconvenience...but they're still worth it!

One afternoon I found Malcolm trying to attack the miniature marshmallows...apparently they are super fun for him to bat around!

And when one marshmallow wasn't fun enough, he tried to dump the bag off the counter so they'd of him, but annoying!

I took a bathroom break while folding laundry one day and came back to this!  She's always one for making herself comfy

And how can you NOT laugh when a dog comes to a screeching halt and this is what they look like?!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Giving Thanks

During the month of November, I kept seeing these really neat posts on Facebook where someone would state what they were thankful for each and every day.  I thought it was a neat idea but since I was behind on getting started, I figured I would do it later on.

I originally intended to do it at the start of Advent...but we were travelling during the First Sunday so that didn't happen.  Hanukkah started 5 days ago and I'm not Jewish, so that would be kinda weird.  If I don't start soon, the month will soon be over! 

As is the story of my life, sometimes I just have to play "catch-up" and that's what I'm going to do!  Rather than find a significant date, I'll just start with December 1st and hopefully I will blog a "thanks" every day until Christmas Eve!

December 1:  Good health.  I was in bed this day with a horrible sinus infection.  I couldn't pick my head up without it throbbing out of control, if I would stand up the vertigo would kick in, my left ear hurt deep inside and my jawbone just ached.  I was miserable.  But I also knew that it would go away with enough rest, medication and fluids.  It's easy to pity yourself when you're sick, but it's also important to realize that not all illnesses in this world go away with rest and meds.  And then I realize my sinus infection isn't that bad, after all!

December 2: A roof over our head.  We finally received a new piece of furniture on this day!  I was so excited but frustrated by the process we endured before the table finally arrived.  A sense of relief came over me once the table was placed in the living room and I started to put my holiday knick-knacks on it.  But I was also overcome with thoughts about people and families who have no place to call home...and here I am stressing about a stupid table!  I can't remember the exact numbers but Manhattan has an alarming rate of "homelessness."  In fact, we have a new shelter that is much larger than the previous one because they consistently had a waitlist and were turning people away.  There's a significant population of USD 383 students who have no home and I had an 8th Grader tell me just the other day that's he scared to wind up homeless again--in front of the entire class.  I have had many clients over the years who have been displaced throughout their lives.  I should just be thankful that we have a warm place to call home!

December 3: Food to eat.  I tried a new pork roast recipe and it turned out horrible.  We couldn't even eat it.  I tried salvaging it with the advice of a friend's husband but it wound up in the trash.  It was too late in the evening to make a new meal, but we found stuff in the fridge and freezer to fill us up.  I was frustrated by the situation but obviously we didn't go to bed hungry.  Food is one part of our monthly budget that we don't skimp on...we don't eat Ramen Noodles every day but we don't eat high on the hog either.  We are always satisfied and have extra food on hand.  And then I think about one kiddo in particular who never knows when their next meal will be.  I have no idea what it would be like to go hungry...or to be a parent who can't keep food on the table. 

December 4: Having a job.  I spent a few hours at the office preparing for our upcoming move...I despise moving but it's part of life!  And anymore, having a job is NOT a guaranteed part of life.  The unemployment rate remains steady and here I am with 2 jobs.  I have always had two jobs and this arrangement has allowed me to have a roof over my head, a vehicle to get me places, money to pay my bills and *sometimes* a little left over at the end of the month.  My field does not pay a lucrative salary by any means and we have to budget accordingly.  But I still have not one, but two, jobs during a time when others would be thrilled to find steady employment.

December 5: A church to call home.  I hated going to church as a kid...and there's days I still hate going.  I hate getting out of my pajamas, doing my hair and putting on decent clothes when I could have otherwise had a "day-off."  But once I drag myself to the church, my attitude totally changes.  Justin and I spent quite a while finding a church to call home and we finally found it...The priest is great, the worshippers are great and the Holy Eucharist is great.  But more importantly, our church provides us with a very strong spiritual foundation.  Because of this we are able to recharge our batteries on a weekly basis and also reposition our moral compass so we can continue to do right in His way.

December 6: Justin.  I happen to think the world of him :-)  By the time school was over with yesterday, I started to feel ill and weak again.  I had several appointments to attend to and then I headed home to load up on Nyquill, cough drops and rest on the couch while I did some computer-based stuff for work.  Once everything that had to be done was complete, I called it a night.  I woke up around 11:15pm as Justin was coming to bed--I asked why he was up so late and he had spent the past couple of hours taking care of everything around the house that I didn't get to!  Ahhhhhhhhh :-)

December 7:  My dentist.  In addition to church, I always hated going to the dentist as a kid.  It hurt when they cleaned my teeth!  Nothing was wrong with my gums so I still don't understand the pain factor...but I have a great dentist now.  Today was the last of many started with a root canal, subsequent crown and a mouthful of cavities this past Spring but we're finally wrapping things up.  Luckily, I like my dentist so it's okay that I'm at her office all the time!  Dr. Ellen always makes sure I am super comfortable, the staff is more than accomodating of appointment changes and the best part--her procedures never hurt!

Friday, December 3, 2010

An Epic Fail

While making my grocery list earlier this week, I came across a recipe for slow cooked Asian Shredded Beef.  Per the reviews, it pretty much sounded like bulgogi--since making bulgogi can be time consuming I was excited to find a recipe that did all the work and guaranteed a tender piece of meat.

I threw all the ingredients in the crockpot this morning and when I came home from work, the house smelled delicious.  As I was walking in the Mayor's Holiday Parade, Justin started the rice and supper was ready when I got home.  I was so excited to try the bulgogi!

The recipe was an epic failure.  Salty doesn't even begin to describe the sodium content.  Don't get me wrong--I love salt and generally think things are on the bland side...after all, I would be thrilled if someone gave me a salt block!  But holy cow--I couldn't even eat the meat because it was so salty.  The flavor was good, but something tells me the soy sauce/ketchup/hoison sauce combination was a bit much!  In the future--if I'm ever brave enough--I may try it with reduced sodium soy sauce and a tomato paste v. ketchup.

And I think part of the problem was an Asian rib recipe we tried over Halloween weekend...I keep thinking about it and comparing other meat dishes to it!  I had just seen it on and as it turned out, Hy-Vee had the short ribs deeply discounted that particular I just had to try it!

I skipped the whole marinating part and the meat still soaked up tons of flavor....only suggestion: cut back on the amount of sesame oil and olive oil.  I realize oil plays a huge role in marinating meat but the ribs produced enough grease on their own...and the additional 6 Tablesppons of oil was ridiculous.  I would guess that adding a bit of sesame oil at the end would give you enough flavor to satisfy the taste buds!


1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot pepper sauce (I must say, I love anything that calls for the rooster sauce!)
12 boneless country-style pork ribs


1.Stir together the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and Sriracha in the crock of a slow cooker. Add the ribs; cover and refrigerate. Allow ribs to marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

2.Before cooking, drain marinade and discard. Cook on Low for 9 hours. Drain cooked meat and shred, using 2 forks.  Serve with hot rice or shredded cabbage for a crunch (yes, this sounds crazy but I like serving it with Asian meat dishes--it doesn't add any flavor but rather texture).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Getting Closer...

The interior of our house is one step closer to "being done."  Our second-to-last piece of furniture arrived today! 

We have been adding the furniture and knick knacks bit-by-bit...Of the things we had at Shirley Lane, we kept only the contents of the spare bedroom and our bedroom.  We started all over in the dining room, living room, kitchen and bathroom.  Okay, so the bathroom is pretty simple to do as it doesn't require furniture or appliances, but it still costs money!

Each time my brother would come by our house, he would tell us what piece of furniture to get and where to put it.  Since when was he the Interior Designer?!  But as I would tell him each and every time, we're buying our pieces slowly to keep from going broke!  Does he know how much furniture costs?!  But thankfully we've found some of our new pieces at great prices and the other stuff was purchased off Craigslist :-)

With that said, the cherry console table was one of the last pieces to buy...we still need another armchair but those are super expensive and can wait :-)  Well, I say that but of course I would LOVE to have an area rug and new headboard--and maybe a matching dresser--for the master bedroom...but we already have a headboard and dresser which nobody ever sees!

Once we finally add the armchair, I will feel confident enough to start hanging things on the walls.  As a childhood friend who also has plaster walls put it, "You only have one chance to hang it in the right place!"

The new table--and I promise it's not crooked in real life!  I sold enough stuff on Craigslist to pay for it without digging into my own wallet :-)  I'm hoping to find some fabric for the bottom rung--the wood-on-wood look is driving me nuts and it needs something to break it up!
Starting to get it decorated for Christmas...then I'll need to figure out some accessories, a table lamp, mirror/picture, etc once the holidays are over

Within minutes, I turned around to find Malcolm licking the nutcracker's hair!  He must have thought it belonged to another animal or something...always the  oddball!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back from the Bayous

5 days and 1600 miles later...and we're back from spending Thanksgiving in Louisiana!

We left bright and early on Wednesday morning because we had no idea how long the drive may take--according to other people and MapQuest, we were expecting about 10.5 hours.  The drive through Kansas and Missouri seemed to go pretty quickly...but once we hit Arkansas time seemed to stop.  Until we hit our first bayou outside of Pine Bluff and I knew we were in the South!!!

Two restroom breaks, one fuel stop and one McDonald's drive thru later and we landed in Justin's hometown of Hamburg, Arkansas--the home of basketball great, Scottie Pippen--after just 9.5 hours.  We stopped by to see three of Justin's brothers and their families...and I was able to finally meet my nieces!  I didn't realize it until earlier this week but I'm an AUNT!  I always knew Justin was an "uncle," but I obviously had a blonde moment about the whole situation...but I was pumped to meet the girls and I must say they're pretty sweet.  We've linked up on Facebook so I look forward to staying in touch with them!

Hamburg is a bit smaller than Clay Center...and like Clay Center, there's not much there.  So we headed into Crosset for supper at Popeye's.  I know, I know...not very gourmet but I'm a huge Red Beans & Rice fan and since we don't have the chain anywhere close to us, I was beyond excited!

The next morning, we--Justin, myself, his mom and youngest brother--headed to Monroe, Louisiana for Turkey Day...I have no idea how many people were there but his Aunt Rosemary cooked up a feast for us, Justin's brothers' families, all the uncles, cousins and their families. The food was never ending and delicious--nothing like a Midwestern menu but it was refreshing and I'm glad I already like southern food!

Justin and 3 of of the 7 Williams brothers--Marques, Jeff, Justin and 6'4", Marques is the smallest of this group!
After we were all done tearing into the food, our niece fell off the swingset and broke her arm...she was definately in pain but after a trip to the ER, a brace and sling she was back enjoying herself!  And we talked FOREVER about water parks and roller coasters...sounds like there might be a trip to Worlds of Fun in the future ;-)

Come Friday morning, Justin and I got up to eat breakfast and then do a little Black Friday shopping...little did I know that a traditional "Aunt Rosemary Breakfast" was centered around Fried Chicken (yes, Fried Chicken for breakfast--awesome!), biscuits, gravy, rice, scrambled eggs, sausage, smothered potatoes and I can't even remember what else!  I could get used to eating like that in the mornings..but I'm not sure if my waistline could handle that! 

Justin spent Saturday morning shooting hoops with Skyler and after lunch we had a birthday party for his baby cousin, Journey.  She turns 1-year-old on Tuesday so they had TONS of people over to celebrate--way more than was at Thanksgiving but it was fun!  After the party we headed back to Arkansas for the night and Justin showed me more of Hamburg, plus the park + after-school center that Scottie Pippen built for the community...And now I know where Scottie's mother lives as well!  Word has it that Scottie's living in Hamburg but we never saw him :-(

This morning started bright and early so that we could get back to Kansas at a decent time...Skyler is a Freshman at the University of Arkansas-Monticello and his dorm was about 1/2 a mile off the road so we dropped him off on his way was neat seeing part of the campus! 

After several more stops, we landed in KC around 2pm and ate some Gates BBQ for lunch.  Justin had never been there and it would be an understatement to say that he loved it!  He at almost an entire meat platter by himself!     

We made it back to Manhattan around 4:30 pm and have since been unpacking the car, grocery shopping, and turning on all the outdoor Christmas lights (so exciting!)...but now all I can think about is a hot shower and going to bed EARLY!!!

And for your musical enjoyment...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Warriors

We accomplished everything on our To-Do list this weekend! 

Friday night, Justin came home and said they didn't have to work on Saturday after all--yippee! So we stayed up late and watched Adam Sandler's Grown Ups to celebrate (yes, we're lame!)...and since I can't sit still for long, I put up the Christmas tree.  Personally, I love all the colors of the lights and decorations but that doesn't stop me from dreaming of eventually owning a department store tree!  We still have more indoor decorating to do, but having the tree up will bring so much cheer to the house :-)

Saturday morning came and I got up to run errands...and once that was over, I started some food for our staff meeting potluck and put up the garland on our fence. The garland is pretty wimpy and I wish the fence was already painted white, but it will have to do for this year.  However, the best part--everything cost just $15!  Thank you, Hobby Lobby for your awesome sales :-)

While I was at our staff meeting, Justin raked up the yard, bagged up all the leaves and cleaned out the gutters.  For having a day-off, he ended up working pretty hard...but that's Justin for ya.  I did have a quick break between some  meetings, so I put up the icicle lights along the porch railing...I just can't wait to finally turn them on!

Then today--Santa came!  That's right!  He noticed the TV we'd been wanting since March was on sale at Best Buy--and it was a pretty good sale, too.  It's perched on the bedroom dresser for the time being and seems HUGE compared to our old one!  Granted, it's only a 32" inch but it's much better than my old one from college.

After lunch, I started pulling out my garden. I'd been putting it off for as long as possible--just this past Monday, our pepper plants were still blooming and we picked a few big bowls full this afternoon. It was a successful year for our tomatoes as well...after pulling out the first plant, I found a bunch of fruit that had been concealed by the overgrown foliage!

And after removing all three plants, this is what we found!  Unfortunately, the picture doesn't do the quantity of hidden tomatoes justice.

Finally, we got around to hanging the rest of the Christmas lights...I must say, they cost more than I thought they would! Let me take that back--the lights weren't too expensive, but the darn extension cords were! Our outdoor outlet is on the back of the house, so we have to run a cord to the multi-outlet stake (it came with a built-in timer and being on sale, was cheaper than a normal outlet!), run a cord to the lights around the roof, run a cord to the lights on the south end of the porch and run a cord to the lights on the north end of the porch...we went from having 0 cords to 4 in a matter of minutes!

We maxed out our budget for the outdoor decorations but I still have tons of ideas for the dormer, front windows and garage.  Guess those ideas will have to wait until next year, unless I would happen to randomly stumble upon a bunch of money in the coming weeks!

After hanging the lights and doing some maintenance on my car, the outdoor work was finally done!  We were able to come in and defrost some--today's high was forecasted at 62-65* but it never got above 44* and with the windchill, it felt like 41*.  It was a bit cold!  But after some bubbly Tater Tot Casserole, leftover creamed corn and Jell-O cheesecake, we're ready to start packing for Louisiana...we're not usually fanatic about decorating for Christmas and I'm sure the neighbors think we're overzealous, but I wanted all the outdoor decorations to be done so we could return from Thanksgiving and enjoy them!  Now we'll just have to see if I can refrain from turning the lights on between now and when we leave...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pure Innocence

This has been quite a "unique" week with my 6th Graders...we're on the home-stretch of Life Skills and boy, are they disappointed!

It only took a few weeks for them to warm up to me, but it's obvious that the bond is growing.  They're starting to say that they don't want to see me go--and I gently remind them that I'll see them again when they get to 8th Grade...and some even tell me they like me more than their classroom teacher--and I quickly tell them that if they had to put up with me ALL day, they wouldn't think that way!  Especially on those days where I'm constantly splitting up students because my stern "Hey, guys!!!" with the evil eye has ceased to work...

Last Friday, as I was leaving a classroom, one of the more withdrawn boys ran up to me and gave me a HUGE hug before I could get out the door...and then he ran back to his seat.  It was kinda random but soooo sweet at the same time :-)  And I have another student who is constantly trying to establish a power struggle with me come up and give me a big hug in the middle of class yesterday!  I never would have guessed this student had a soft side to them ;-)

Then this past Wednesday, I had a student with a very serious question...I asked what his question was and he wanted to know if I had grown any since the previous week.  Umm, this took me off guard because after a certain age, you stop growing!  Turns out, this week was the first time I had worn a heel around them and since I had on long pants, the students couldn't tell!  Oh, the innocence of thinking a 28-year-old had a sudden growth spurt.

And yesterday--we were doing a writing activity when a student motioned me over to her desk.  I went over, asked what it was and she said she had something for me...oh, really???  She opened her hand and revealed a small, black rock...and she said she made it for me.  Last time I checked, you can't "make" a rock so I asked how she made it.  She quickly directed me to smell the rock--and of course all these horrible things start going through my head.  But the rock smelled like Sprite!!!  Turns out she smeared her Sprite-scented chapstick all over the rock before she gave it to me, thus "making it" for me.  Definately a unique gift, but it was so sweet of her!

At my last class of the day, I had another student ask if I wanted to see something creepy.  One, I don't like creepy stuff and two, what would a 6th Grader consider creepy?!  I said sure and turns out she could do a trick with her eyes...she explained it as, "You know how some people can run really fast?  Well, I can make my eyes move really fast!"  And how is that creepy?!  She showed me her eye trick and honestly, it was freaky!  She had some way of making her eyeballs literally start shaking...I've never seen anything like it before...I just want to know what made her realize she had that kind of ability!

My 6th Graders will be done with Life Skills in late January and then I'll be with mostly 8th Graders during the rest of the school year.  Something tells me the older kids won't be giving me hugs, rocks and showing me their tricks...but they have their own way of bonding.  I have one 8th Grader who knows how "spikey" my hair is from day to day, some of them have "favorite" outfits that I wear and then the boys--they're boys.  I've learned that with their age group, you can't call baseballs, 'balls.'  They go CRAZY!  Especially when I started talking about HITTING the (base)balls...but at least they're comfortable enough around me to laugh hysterically and it reminds me, that they're still a bit innocent themselves!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The 4-Letter "S" Word

Call me a grinch...but I don't like the weather today!  It started out as cold rain and has now turned into big, wet flurries of snow. 

It would maybe improve my attitude if I were able to stay home all day today, slip into some warm sweatpants, wrap up in a blanket and eat chili all evening long.  But instead I had Mitzi at the vet for her annual exam/shots before work this morning and the rest of the day is spent driving all over the county and running in-and-out of buildings for Life Skills...followed by a few hours at the CASA office once I get done at the school.  And to further destroy my wishes, we have no ground beef defrosted for chili!

Thus, the snow has become today's 4-letter "s" word!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Supposed-To-Be Dress

The past few weeks have just been I told my students on Thursday, if my head weren't attached to my body, I would forget where it was!  I prefer to stay busy because I can't handle being bored...but at the same time, I hate being so busy that my head starts spinning--and that's how life has been lately!

I finally had time this morning to get our Halloween decorations down to the basement...yes, I realize Halloween was two weeks ago...but the "decoration shelf" needed some attention and I would have to accomplish that task before adding our Halloween stuff to it.

In the process of sorting through the shelving, I found a picture of my "original" wedding dress.  I knew I had it tucked away somewhere but why in the world was it with the holiday stuff?!

The first dress was a cute little raw silk Ralph Lauren Green Label dress that I bought off of...yes, eBay.  It was exactly what I was looking for and it still had the tags on it!  Perfect :-)  But you all know the story!

And this is what it was supposed to look like...and because I am super self-conscious about some things, I will never, ever show you what it looked like AFTER it was butchered.  Let me just say, it didn't look a thing like this dress!

When Mom and I went dress shopping the week before the wedding, I knew I wanted something that would go with my birdcage, headpiece and peep-toe least that way I'd still have a "part" of my old dress with me :-) 

Ironically enough, I think the second dress has some resemblance to the orginal!  Nice and fitted but flared at the bottom...guess I always liked the mermaid silhouette but just never realized it!