Friday, July 29, 2011

30 Day Challenge: A Song to Match My Mood

Day 5...a song to match my mood!

Well, to be honest....I'm sitting at the house waiting for the exterminator.  I could pick the Ghostbuster's themesong or something along those lines...

But once the exterminator gets here and accomplishes the task of bombing our house, I'm headed to Kansas City.  The thought of Kansas City is much more exciting than killing off early-season parasites!

Can anyone say "Beer-Cano" time?!  E.G. is graciously allowing Left Eye and I to invade her house and swimming pool.  Nothing beats a weekend with two awesome girlfriends, summer beers and pooltime.   

In a few short weeks, Left Eye (her name is really Angie, sometimes I forget that) is relocating to Ft. Worth, Texas.  It's been fun to have her back in Kansas for the past 9 months and it's only appropriate that we send her away on a high note!

There are tons of songs that make me think of Erin and Angie, but this song best describes my mood this afternoon!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Winner of "Name the Cat" Contest Is...

The winner of the first-ever (and hopefully the last-ever) "Name the Cat" contest is.......



The drum...










The person who submitted the winning name is my friend, Camelia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had TONS of suggestions!  Twenty, to be accurate.  That's a lot of names to pick from!

Justin and I spent some time trying out ALL the names, multiple times, on the cat.  Some names he sorta reacted to, some he totally ignored.  There were so many names that I personally loved and I was hoping he would make it easy for us to find one that fit.

It wasn't until after a rainshower came through town last night that we were able to settle on a name.

After the skies cleared up, we noticed the cat was using the downspout as a water fountain!  And not for 2 or 3 sips of water...we timed him and we went for over 3 minutes without taking a break from drinking the water as it ran out (cross your fingers that I can figure out how to download the video).  Finally, when he was done, he laid down IN the water and looked at us like "whaaaaaaat?".

Camelia had suggested we name the cat "h2o" because of his love for water.  Over the weekend, we found him walking INTO the sprinkler, laying in the sprinkler, laying in puddles, licking any surface that was wet--anywhere there was water he was there.

We tried calling him "h2o" but he didn't react at all...then we tried "Puddles" as it's related to water.  No response.  Justin suggested "Hydro" and that got us nowhere as well.

Justin and I really liked the connection to water so we got to thinking...what about the name "Moses"???  All ya Bible thumpers out there know what Moses is infamous for and per my Google research, the name means 'Saved by water.' 

So far, the cat is responding to the name "Moses."  Camelia totally knew how to pick a fitting name for this cat!  I'm just hoping that he sticks around now that we went to all the work of finding him a name :-)

And if you're curious, the suggested names were:
Shadow  /  Ralph Macchio  /  Dewey  /  Marmaduke  /  Melky Cabrera  /  Mister Mister  /  Mr. Spot  /  Kevin  /  h2o  /  Grandpa  /  Miles  /  Monroe  /  Mortie  /  Mitch  /  Martin  /  Newsome  /  Nusum  /  Patch  /  Howie  /  Monte  /  Mr. Bigglesworth

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 4

After yesterday's detour, we're back on track with the 30-Day Challenge.  Today makes Day 4 and I get to write about my parents!

My parents...oh, my poor parents.  After 28 years, they still like me :-)

I wasn't always the easiest kid.  I refused to talk until I was almost 5 years old.  Instead, I would just point and scream at things.  I had the full ability to speak and communicate my wants and needs, but I just chose not to.  For me, it was more fun to point and scream.  My poor parents.

Per my memory, my grade school years were fairly easy.  Mom shuttled me to and from piano lessons, gymnastics, 4-H meetings, sleep name it and Mom was running me all over the place.

Then puberty rolled around.  I remember one summer in particular I was a holy terror.  I'm pretty sure my level of communication was not much different from when I was 4 years old.  Mom or Dad would tell me to do something and I would just point and scream at them in response.  Dad was almost always away from the house so it left poor Mom dealing with my hormonal rages all by herself.

Things finally calmed down during high school and college but there were times I probably worried my parents to death.  You mean, coming home at 8am on a Sunday morning is not appropriate?  To a 20-year-old, it was no biggie.  After all, I knew where I was at so why did they care???

My parents put up with a lot over the years.  I'm more than thankful that they put their foot down on things and enforced rules/consequences that I absolutely despised.  They always say that when your kid tells you they hate you, it's a sign you're doing something right.  Thanks to their parenting, I turned out to be a productive member of society!

As an adult, parents are fun.  They're more like a friend and you would never consider sassing them or being defiant.  You look forward to seeing them when you can and cherish all the time together.  They're also a wealth of advice and you find you rely on them to help guide you through a tough decision.  And lucky for my parents, there's now a husband in the picture who gets to deal with all my hormone rages :-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Name the Cat" Contest!

I'm taking a quick break from the 30-Day Challenge.  We need your help with something much more important!

Friday morning, there was a grey kitty laying under my car.  I thought it was a bit odd as I had never seen the wild thing.  However, I wasn't too surprised as it was hot and my car provided some much-welcomed shade.

Later that afternoon, the kitty was back.  It ran across the street to our house and has been a fixture on our porch ever since.

It's a super friendly cat.  You can't take a step anywhere without it following you.  We checked around the neighborhood to see if it belonged to anyone, called the animal shelter and touched base with the newspaper.  Nobody was missing a grey and white cat :-(

I have avoided calling the cat by any names in fear that I would develop an attachment.  However, the cat decided to change the rules by living on our porch for the past 5 days so it's time to name it.  

Problem:  We can't come up with anything that fits him!  We tried "Greyson" but the cat was unresponsive to that name and it just doesn't seem to fit.  I thought about "Ori", being short for Oreo, but that name reminds me of someone I would rather not think of!  I'm not really one to conform to a predictable name so anything like "Boots" is out.  Ultimately, I think it would be neat to name him something that plays off his coloring without being too cheesy...or something that goes with Mitzi and Malcolm.

That said, we are opening up our first-ever "Name the Cat" Contest!  Any and all names are welcome!  If you suggest the name we ultimately decide to go with, you will win...drum-roll...NOTHING!  Just warm fuzzies knowing you named a cat :-)

Speaking of Mitzi and Malcolm, the introduction of a new animal has been interesting.  Malcolm will rub noses with the new cat, take a few steps back, lay down and then hiss--but just once--and then stare off into space.  Sunday morning, the new cat attacked a baby bird in the front yard.  As the cat was "playing" with it, Malcolm pounced in from out of nowhere and stole the bird from him!  Can you say someone is having some major territory issues???

Mitzi...she tries her best to ignore the cat.   This comes as a surprise as she usually LOVES cats and harasses them as long as she can. In all reality, though, I think Mitz senses the cat will be sticking around and is having a hard time sharing the attention.  Maybe some pictures will better describe her interactions with the cat!

"Our" new cat, on the porch, like always!  I have a hard time thinking he's "ours" but he seems to want it that way!

The cat can't seem to get enough water...Sunday night he went and laid in the puddles after the rainstorm!

He always has to be in your face.  If you don't immediately pet him, he'll start headbutting you!

He loves sitting on laps.  We sit down, he sits down on us.  Is there such a thing as a "lap cat"???

While he sits on our laps, Mitz pouts under the chairs.

But once the cat leaves the porch, she runs to the railing to watch where he goes.

Just last night she was willing to lay on the porch with him--she still won't get any closer than this!

And if you're neurotically asking yourself, "How long do we have to submit our winning entry so I can rest knowing I named a cat?!," you're in luck.  We'll keep the contest open until a fitting name is found!  ;-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 3

Today's post requires that I blog about my first love.

But first--you have to promise you won't laugh!

It was this guy...

That's right.  Danny Wood from New Kids on the Block.  If anything, that tells you what generation I belong to!

I was enamoured by this guy...I had NKOTB clothing, dolls, buttons as big as dish plates, bedding, all their cassettes, EVERYTHING.  But my favorite of them all was Danny...and I remember wishing that some day he'd be "my man."

I was such a naive little girl, thinking that every teen heart throb is waiting for his 8-year old fan to come sweep him off his feet...I look back at this and can't help but laugh.  Of all things, Danny had a RAT TAIL!  Yes, one of those things.  But maybe I didn't have the worst taste in the world.  After all, this is what he looks like now:

Kinda looks like he belongs in a hair gel ad.  Not anyone that I'd be attracted to but some people might find him good looking!

If I was a smart 8-year old girl who wanted to be swooned, I should have picked one of the other band members, Donnie Wahlberg:

Donnie's brother is the musician-turned-actor Mark Wahlberg...Mark has been 10x more successful over the years and that's the gravy train I should have tried hopping on!  lol.  Don't you see the resemblance?  Personally, I find Marky Mark to be much cuter!

I realize this post most likely wanted me to write about a "real" first love.  But come one--how many people really want to claim their former boyfriends???  I sure don't!  I'd much rather write about a man that I've never met :-)  If anything, the experience of my first love allows me to better stomach all my tween girls who swoon over Justin Bieber and fight over who's marrying him.  Some day they'll realize the joke is on them!

That said, my parents spent many years putting up with my New Kids On The Block Obsession and thank gawd I outgrew it...Speaking of the two devils, tomorrow's challenge post will feature my parents so stay tuned!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 2

Day 2 requires that I explain my blog's name...

Well, my blog originally started out as "The Adventures of Taddy-Long-Legs" and then morphed into "The Adventures of Taddy-Long-Legs and J-Money."

The original name comes from a nickname I gave myself...Yes, I gave it to myself.  I could lie and make up a great, super appropropriate, grown-up story.  Or I could just tell you the embarassing truth.  I'm always a pretty open person so I'll go with the latter.

It might have something to do with truly enjoying some Vodka-7s at Five Points in Columbia, South Carolina about 5 years ago.  As people tell me, we were leaving a dance club (and no, I did not do any dancing!) and I randombly struck a cheerleader pose in the sidewalk--I hope it was relevant to the conversation--and declared myself "Taddy Long Legs."
Sure enough...there's a picture to prove it!  Haha, I was definately clinging to that wall for dear life :-/

And where did my declaration come from?!  Obviously it was the vodka talking but I do have long legs...And Granddaddy Long Legs have long appendiges...And the abbrevation for my last name, Taddy, kinda rhymes with Granddaddy...Or at least it does at 3am.

Needless to say, my girlfriends won't let me live that moment down.  Or maybe they're ornery enough just to make the story up!  Anyhow.  When chosing my blog name, it was important that the name be something that no one else had...but be easy enough to remember.  Not that I really remember giving myself a nickname, but that's beside the point!

So now you have the history to "The Adventures of Taddy Long Legs."

But wait!  Once we got married, I tagged "and J-Money" to the end of my blog name.

As many of my posts include stories about the hubby, it was only appropriate that he be acknowledged in the title.

When we first met, I never ever imagined I would seriously date the guy...let alone marry him (just ask Angie!).  Rather than call him by his first name as that was too nice of me, I decided to give him a nickname. Apparently, I have a thing for nicknames.  Just ask E.G., Left Eye, Shrek, Poop Thumb, Ursher, Tingly A#$ and they'll all attest to this.

Anyhow, back to the story.  Once upon a time, there was a rap duo named Cadillac Don and J-Money.  When I met Justin, he had no vehicle and always talked about getting a Caddy someday.  The fact that Justin was always listening to gangsta rap, wanted a Caddy and had a name that started with a "J," it was only appropriate that I dub him J-Money...and unfortunately for him, that's what all my friends call him to this day!

So there you have it folks!  The complete history of "The Adventures of Taddy-Long-Legs and J-Money."  Stay tuned for tomorrow's post about my first love.  Oh, wowwwwwww...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

30 Day Challenge: Day 1

I have a friend who is the funniest person EVER.  You never know what she's going to say and half the time, I can't even figure out where she comes up with the stuff!  Erin was the person responsible for my inspiration to start blogging.  She started one herself, over at  Much to my dismay and consequent boredom, she doesn't post quite as much as I think she should...yeah, that's right Erin.  Get on it!

Yesterday, however, she posted about a 30-Day Challenge for blogging.  Granted it may take her 5-6 weeks to conquer it (hey, she admitted so herself!) but I thought it was a great idea and worth taking a shot at.  So here we go...

Day 1: Introduction, Recent Photograph of Myself and 15 Interesting Facts About Me

I'm a twenty-something farm-raised girl who stuck around my Alma Mater after graduation, met a Southern Boy, fell in love and got married!  Last year we purchased a downtown bungalow that we enjoy tinkering with and life is grand :-)

15 Facts About Me...

1. Ever since I was a little girl, I had short hair... short as in it never-went-past-my-ears short, most often in a pixie cut.  As a personal challenge to myself, I decided to let it grow and it's almost shoulder length now.  Having long hair is a whole new world to me...

2. I love sitting in my pjs on our front porch on Saturday mornings, drinking coffee while watching all the people walk down to the Farmer's Market.  To me, it's the most relaxing part of my weekend.

3.  As mentioned above, I grew up on a farm.  I showed all sorts of livestock growing up...many people have a hard time believing I'm a farm girl and that's just fine :-)

4.  I'm not much of a tv or movie person.  I'll have HGTV on for background noise but I have a hard time watching an entire 30-minute episode of anything.  And sitting through an entire movie???  That takes a lot of conscious effort!

5. I rowed my freshman year of college at Creighton University (go Jays!!!)...when I later transferred to K-State, I was approached about joining their Women's Crew program. I wasn't falling for the joke of being a Division-1 Athlete and not getting any scholarship money again!

6.  During my Junior year of high school, I got a bright blue Ford Mustang.  It had chrome dual exhaust and white racing say that I loved that car is an understatement.  When the time came to replace it, I literally bawled my eyes out.  My long-term goal is to someday have another blue 'Stang parked in our garage!
7.  My degree is in Political Science.  With having a background in the child welfare system, this comes as a surprise to many people.  But hey, it was the degree that got me out of college in 5 years!

8. Ever since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed reading the newspaper.  My Grandpa Boob used to read the evening paper at the supper table and I'm the exact same way.  I currently receive 2 different newspapers and I would love to be like my parents who get 20 different papers a week!  (Should I clarify they're not newspaper junkies but rather it's because of my dad's job?!)

9. I'm a huge fan of bubble baths.  I try to take one every night :-)

10.  I actually like working out.  I have had no routine whatsoever this summer so I haven't been to the gym since May and it's driving me BONKERS.  I'm actually looking forward to school starting so I can get back to the gym.

11.  Our cat is bigger than our dog.  If I ever need to break the ice with a little kid, I tell them this and their eyes get HUGE and then they start giggling like crazy!

12.  I have a huge passion for civil rights history.  Anyone see the movie "Bad Teacher" yet?  "I just HATE slavery!!!"  lol. 

13.  I have a 37" inseam.   Needless to say, it's nearly impossible for me to buy pants off the rack.  Oh, and should I mention my 6'10" husband also has a 37" inseam???  Our future kids better hope they make XXLong onesies!

14.  I'm grossed out by milk.  And yes, I will cry over spilled milk.  If possible, I'll leave it until Justin gets home and then I make him clean it up.  I even have nightmares on occassion where people are holding me on the ground, pouring milk over me while I cry my eyes out.  People always ask, how do you eat your cereal?  My solution, I just don't eat cereal.  Just the thought of milky cereal makes me want to hurl!

15.  I just had to save the best for last.  My name is not Monica Lewinsky and his name isn't Bill Sophomore year of college I had an opportunity to meet old man George Bush.  During our photo, he totally dropped his hand from my shoulder to my buttocks and went in for a firm grip.  Well, hello to you, too!!!!!  And everyone wonders why I have an odd look on my face in the picture?!

And thaaaaaaaat's a wrap.  Stay tuned for Day 2:  The Meaning Behind My Blog Name...
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.9

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Indian Friend, Mei

If you read my blog very much, you may already know that I love Indian food...

As I write this, I'm simmering a pot of Chana Masala on the stove.  If anyone were to walk into our house right now, they'd be greeted by the scent of curry, garam masala and coriander.  In my personal opinion, the fragrance is ten times more satisfying than a Glade plug-in!

However, everytime our house smells of Indian food it makes me think of my brother's friend, Devon.  Not long after Devon transferred to K-State, I asked him how he liked his new apartment.  His immediate response was, "It reeks of curry!  We've tried everything and the smell won't go away!"

I couldn't help but laugh.  Not because he hated the smell of his home, but because of the person responsible for the smell.

When I was at K-State, I worked at the Women's Center on campus.  Right away, I was introduced to my only male co-worker, Mei.  His name was pronounced May and he was from India.  He was pretty quiet the first few days but after being stuck with my chatter-box self, we quickly made friends.
Mei was fascinating.  He had a great personality and his life was so different from mine.  His family was still in India--he had came to the States to study.  He also left his fiance from an arranged marriage back home as well.  Upon hearing this, my first thought was, "People still have arranged marriages?!  They must be crazy!"  I guess this concept was as perplexing to me as my beef consumption was to a Hindu Mei.  Whenever I would tease him about his bride-awaiting, he would always chuckle and make it known that it wasn't such a bad deal as she was one of the best looking gals back home!  I guess :-)

One day as we were walking to the Union, I had a craving for Indian food and I asked Mei if he would share some of his recipes with me.  In his cute little accent he said, "Bria...I don't know any recipes.  I just make food because I have to eat.  The best way to learn to make Indian food is just to buy the ingredients and figure it out."  Okay, for a white Kansas-farm-raised girl, that suggestion didn't help any! 

Long story short, Mei moved out of his apartment with three other Indian roommates just to have my friend Devon move in behind them.  And Devon wondered why his apartment smelled like Indian food!

Over the years, I have lost touch with Mei. Last I knew, he had graduated with his Master's from K-State, moved to "the city" and was preparing to get married.  We were able to stay in touch via Facebook and texting for awhile.  Then one day I got a new phone and lost all my numbers...then finally I noticed Mei was no longer on Facebook :-(  Unfortunately, I never could remember how to correctly spell his full first name (Mei was the abbreviated version) OR his last name so I doubt I will ever be able to track him down on Facebook.

Even though I may never hear from Mei again, I'll always have fun memories of him.  There was the time I beat him in a game of Gone Fishin' on the Salty Rim patio...his surprise appearance at my Graduation party...and right before he left Manhattan the two of us went to a sushi making party hosted by a bunch of Japanese students.  We were definately out of place that night! 

I think it's fair to say that we definately learned a lot from each other and enjoyed our friendship.  Everytime I smell a hint of curry, I think of Mei...and who knows, maybe he thinks of me whenever he smells ground beef?!

The day I beat Mei in Gone Fishin'...who knew that too many margaritas would make me so excited about winning?!  Whooops.
This picture from my graduation party cracks me up.  They always say foreign men are attracted to blondes!  But on a serious note, Mei was nice enough that he would have a conversation with anybody.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We Are What We Eat--The DQ Chicken Strip Basket

Last week at Justin's softball game, some gal had a Dairy Queen bag with her...and out she pulled a Chicken Strip basket!

It was like the skies suddenly parted and you could hear a heavenly chorus of angels sing, "AHHHHHHHHH!"  What I wouldn't give to be able to guiltlessly consume some of that fried goodness!

Growing up, many Sunday lunches were enjoyed at Dairy Queen...I almost ALWAYS ordered the 4-piece Chicken Strip basket but during my growth spurts, I would kick it up a knotch and order the 6-piece.

Then one day, I stumbled across the nutrition facts...and was horrified.  HORRIFIED!  (Did I just sound like Oprah by repeating myself and in a much louder voice the second time?!  lol)  Sad to say, but I haven't had another Chicken-Strip basket since my discovery.  I just eat other junk instead :-)  lol

Check it out...

A 4-piece basket:  1360 calories, 63 grams of fat (97% of your Daily Value) and 2910 milligrams of salt (121% DV).

That's disguisting.

It gets better...let's assume you're hungry.

A 6-piece basket:  1640 calories, 74 grams of fat (114%  DV) and 3690 milligrams of salt (154% DV)

With either option, you have maxed out your daily fat AND salt've also nearly maxed out your daily caloric intake.  And what does that mean???  No more food for you...until tomorrow.  Unfortunately, last time I checked, a chicken-strip basket never stuck with me for very long...let alone the rest of the day :-(

One of my very first blog posts was about some relatively unknown legislation that is part of the new Healthcare Reform law.  By the year 2012, fast food restaurants will be required to post the nutrition facts ON the menu.  Good-bye are the days of tracking down a paper copy somewhere in the restaurant or trying to do online research before you hit the drive-thru! 

If the nutritional content (or lack, thereof!) was posted for a DQ Chicken Strip basket, I highly doubt that people would eagerly order the greasy goodness.

If you're anything like me, sometimes chicken strips with fries and gravy DO hit the spot...but if you make them at home, they don't cause quite the same nutritional damage.

Case in point:
4 Tyson-brand chicken strips + 1 slice Wonder-brand Texas Toast + DQ Regular-sized fries and McCormick's white gravy = 885 cal, 36 g fat and 2370 mg sodium.

Obviously, the amount of calories and fat is considerably less when you prepare the meal at home.  Keep in mind, you're still consuming roughly 50% of your fat allowance in one sitting!  This meal still puts you over your daily allowance for sodium, but much of that is due to consuming processed food--particularly the chicken strips and gravy.

As always, there's nothing wrong with a Chicken Strip basket every now and then...but keep in mind, we are what we eat!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Reads...Thus Far

One of the items on my Top Ten Summer To-Do list involved reading for enjoyment.  I am proud to say that I'm actually accomplishing that goal!  For a girl with an attention span of a gnat, that's a big deal.  It probably helps that I've been able to enjoy a few gorgeous afternoons pool-side with my books :-)

Thus far...

I finally finished Push.  It's the book to the movie, "Precious."  There was all this hype over the movie as supposedly, Mariah Carey went without make-up for her role and Oprah was very active in promoting the film.  I bought the book when the movie was released, so obviously I've been "reading" it for a while now.  Some people couldn't handle the book or even the movie--for me, I think I've just become too desensitized to child sexual abuse.  It was boring.  I literally had to make myself finish the book.  But I finally got it done!  Will I watch the movie now?  I have to honestly say, I'm not sure.  The movie would have to be a lot more gripping than the book!

The second book is One Small Boat by Kathy Harrison.  It is the CASA Book Club selection for July.  It's written by a foster mom back East who takes in a little girl that had significant issues...the book tells the story of the child coming out of her shell, making great strides and the emotional journey that follows when the little girl comes up for adoption.  It was a quick read that was actually uplifting!

This next book, The Cider House Rules, took me a while to read.  It is LONG!  Like, 500-some pages of small print LONG. I had a hard time with it in the beginning but everything finally started to click--then I was hooked. It was especially interesting to read about Dr. Larch's perspective on abortion in light of all the legislation taking place right now...but the story also involved soldiers going to war and how their relationships evolve while deployed. Kinda reminded me of some families I've worked with!  Once I finished the book, I rented the DVD.  The movie was very good but I have to admit, some major parts of the story were omitted for the movie and I found it quite frustrating!  But the book is totally worth taking the time to read it :-)

And the last book, The Long Song, I just started.  Based on an online description, "The child of a field slave on the Amity sugar plantation, July lives with her mother until Mrs. Caroline Mortimer, a recently transplanted English widow, decides to move her into the great house and rename her “Marguerite.” Resourceful and mischievous, July soon becomes indispensable to her mistress. Together they live through the bloody Baptist war, followed by the violent and chaotic end of slavery. Taught to read and write so that she can help her mistress run the business, July remains bound to the plantation despite her “freedom.” It is the arrival of a young English overseer, Robert Goodwin, that will dramatically change life in the great house for both July and her mistress. Prompted and provoked by her son’s persistent questioning, July’s resilience and heartbreak are gradually revealed in this extraordinarily powerful story of slavery, revolution, freedom, and love."  I'm not very far into the book but hopefully it's as good as all the reviews say it is!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Vegan Cooking 101

Last night, one of my friends, her sister and I attended "Vegan Cooking 101" at our community eductional center.

Talk about perfect timing--my stomach and GERD has been horrible this summer and I'm pretty sure it's due to consuming more dairy than usual.  Oooops.

For some, the idea of a vegan diet is ludacris.  After all, veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients.  Even honey is excluded as it's produced by bees!

To our surprise, the instructor was a normal person--not your stereotypical whacked out hippy.  For her, the vegan lifestyle is more about clean eating and the simplicity of preparing animal-free foods.  There's a variety of reasons why someone would chose the lifestyle, but I could definately identify with her rationale.

She shared some information on going vegan but the primary purpose of the class was to COOK.  We tried some different recipes and I left with two favorites...amazingly enough, the recipes are "normal" enough that anyone could eat them without being a "vegan."  So don't freak out!

The first recipe was for a chickpea-based Masala...It was uh-mazing and it seemed to be the groups favorite dish of the night!  It's a traditional Indian dish but even if you don't like Indian, you'll like this (just ask my friend--hehe)!  Personally, I would serve it with rice on the side (probably some good old white rice to make the hubby happy) to make it a meal.  If you wanted to go super healthy, quinoa would be a perfect grain to serve this with!

Chana Masala with Spinach
1 can chickpeas
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 T. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. curry
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. garam masala
2 handfuls spinach, rinsed

In a large skillet, saute onions and garlic in oil until soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Add chickpeas straight from the can, including all the water.  Add spices and lemon juice; cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until chickpeas are cooked and soft.  Reduce heat, add spinach and cover; allow spinach to wilt for 2-4 minutes.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

My other favorite recipe from the class was for Chili Soup.  This was a dish I made back in the day when my stomach couldn't handle meat--I'm not kidding, you can't tell the difference between real ground beef and a meat substitute.  Case in point, Justin was leery of any ground-beef dish for the longest time as he never knew if it was real meat or fake meat. 

The dish is extremely high in protein and fiber but much lower in fat and calories than traditional chili.  I'm going to stray from the recipe we used in class but rather offer the recipe I have made in the past. 

Vegan Chili Soup
1 bag meat crumbles (Morningstar is my favorite)
1 onion, diced
1 can tomato juice
6 cans chili beans
1 can Rotel, drained
1 envelope William's Chili seasoning

In dutch oven, saute onions.  Add meat crumbles, chili beans (do not drain), Rotel, chili seasoning and tomato juice.  You may add as much water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.  Simmer on stovetop for 1-hr.

If you decide to use Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) instead of the meat crumbles, add 1 C. TVP.  Generally speaking, TVP is less expensive than the bagged meat crumbles and can be purchased in bulk.

To wrap up, will we be going vegan after taking this class?  As I told Justin, the answer is "NO." Trust me, he was freaking out when he heard that I had signed up for the class.  However, it is very likely that we will incorporate more vegan and vegetarian based dishes in our rotation of recipes.  Heck, so many traditional recipes and snacks are considered "vegan" that he might not even notice!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

From Burnt Copper to Antique Silver

We are finally getting around to painting the last room in our house.

According to the old paint can in the basement, the kitchen is a lovely "Burnt Copper" orange.

I'm not one to shy away from color, so the orange didn't really bother me.

Justin, on the other hand, couldn't STAND it!

We've been living with it and "decorating" around the color...however, Justin must have done enough griping because now I'M tired of the orange!

The master-plan is to eventually have our kitchen resemble something like this...


We already have the white cabinetry and the new oak floor has gone we just have to keep saving up for the black counters and green tilework.  Because of the new lead-based paint practices, the surchage for removing the existing ceramic squares actually costs more than putting up new tile.  That said, everything can wait a while.

But to keep us pacified for the time being, I decided it was time to switch up the wall color.  

I wanted something that would bring out the neutrals in our countertop but would be versatile enough to work with a new surface (whenever that is!). 

I first tried Whisker, on the left...then I tried Antique Silver, on the right...

I hated the Whisker--way too neutral and reminded me of all the home staging shows.  And in my opinion, beige is kinda boring in a kitchen!

Thus, I decided to try the Antique Silver in a larger area...

I love, love, love the contrast of the grey against the white's very graphic!  Oh, and the new color actually makes our new floors look 10x richer.  Orange you glad I chose the Antique Silver?!  ;-)

My one concern remains the will it look with the grey when it's all said and done???  Worst case scenario, if Justin hates it, maybe he will be more likely to move forward with replacing the countertop?!?!?!

I'm hoping to get the rest of the kitchen painted this weekend...after all, it's a great reason for staying in from the heat!  And who knows, the graphic impact of the grey may steer us in a completely different direction for redoing the kitchen...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Going to Great Lengths...the 2-Year Hair Update

I've been trying to grow my hair since July's taking a while but I'm finally starting to see a difference!

So I as I mentioned earlier in my blog about hair products, here are some pictures of my growth!

This is what it looked like when I decided it was time for a change.
Justin HATES this picture--he had a bad haircut, I look weird...but it shows how short my hair was when I decided to start growing it out!  The back of my hair was about 1-2" long

Two years later and this is how far I've gotten (early June 2011)...

Please excuse the back of my hair--it looks all fried and wild in this picture.  Oh, wait--that's because it is fried. 

After months of using a cheap "blonde" shampoo that did nothing but dry it out and a blow dryer that was on its' last leg, my ends are FRIED.  The blow dryer took over 30 minutes to dry my hair...and then I still had to run the flat iron through it.  Burn, baby, burn!

I have to admit--I'm tempted to chop it off...not quite as short as it was 2 years ago...but the length it was when we got married 10 months ago:

The ONLY reason I'm considering it is once school resumes, I'll be back at the gym bright and early.  I'm just not sure if I can get it dried and styled in time to leave for work at looks SUPER cute when I tease it and poof it...but I rearely take the time to do that!  Maybe my stylist will have some suggestions when I see her later this month. 

I finally broke down at the end of May and bought a new blow dryer--now it only takes about 10 minutes to dry my hair...Talk about a huge help! However, if anyone has any ideas on how to keep the length but get out the door quickly (aside from pulling my hair back into a wet ponytail--I'd look like a drowned rat!), I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ways to Save--Hair Products

I go through "hair product" like crazy...especially since my hair is getting longer, it requires more mousse and definately more hair spray. 

I'm a sucker for professional hair products--I've tried different brands from grocery stores, Target, Walmart, etc but I just never find anything I love

The thing is--I hate how much the professional stuff costs. 

I had always heard that JCPenny, of all places, has the best sales on hair products.  Really???  Turns out, it's true!  The other day I got a Redken Liter Set for $30...not too shabby!  In fact, most stores base their sales off of JCPenny's salon sales.  Who wudda thunk it...

It seems JCPenny is ALWAYS sending out those $10-off coupons in the know what I'm talking about!  We received yet another coupon in Sundays's paper that was good for July 3rd and 4th only.  And this girl was out of hair spray...

I headed over to Penny's with my coupon in hand and turns out...they were having a "Buy 1, Get 1 for $1" sale on all their products.  Talk about perfect timing!

I paid $23 for $62 worth of hair product.  That's a savings of $39!  My items went from being $15.50 each to $5.75 courtesy of the sale and my coupon.  

Thanks to JCPenny's, I can still have my professional hair gunk AND have some money left in my wallet!  And if you're lucky, maybe I'll show ya some pics of my growth one of these days!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mothers DO Know Best...The Swimsuit Edition

The other day I was telling my mother about my newest dilemma.

The new pool at City Park is uh-mazing.  Justin has been dying to go but I have a slight problem with going there...or going to any other public pool in town, for that matter.

The problem--my students.  There is NO WAY in h-e-double sticks I would let them see me in a swimming suit...and then stand in front of them come September and expect everything to be cool between us???  Keep in mind half of my students are pre-pubescent boys.  Yeah, right.

My solution was buying a summer pass to one of the local hotel pools where I could get a little sun.  Mom's solution, one of those swimsuits with a skirt on the bottom.

You mean, one of these things???

Jeezzzz-ussssss....those things are gawd awful.  I would drink a big old glass of milk (does it help to mention that I have a serious milk phobia???) before I would get caught dead in something like that.
I stopped by Dillard's the other day as their swimsuits were finally on sale...I haven't purchased one in several years and my swimsuit fabric is making that pretty obvious.

Lo-and-behold, what did I find but this darling little thing:

I must have been in a daring mood because I tried it on...and fell in love with it!  Guess Mom was on to something after all!

Later on, I ran to Target to see if they had any decent suits left.  I was in the dressing room when a pre-teen girl broke down in tears, horrified by the suit her mom wanted her to get.  I'm pretty sure the entire store could hear how traumatized she was...but ya know, the suit her mom wanted her to get was super cute (I just think it wasn't risque enough to attract the boys' attention...)!  Once again, sometimes Moms know what they're talking about.  

I didn't find anything at Target so I called it a day with my lone "swimdress."  I wondered if there were any other cute swimdresses in cyber space and look at what I found:
Isn't this about the cutest thing ever?!  And it comes with a removable spaghetti-width halter.
Oh, wait--the pink is fun, too!  Guess has definately designed a cute suit!
And this one--very, very retro.  I kind of like it, but it would have to be black.
Kinda like this one!  But not with the $250 price tag.  Ouch!

And I LOVE this one as well!  Based on my research, it's a discountinued style and only available on eBay...not sure if I'm daring enough to buy it and not know for sure where it came from.
I just wish I knew where to get this cheery little number! 

I never thought I would actually WANT a one-piece...but now I'm having to practice self-restraint to keep from buying a bunch of the swimdresses!  At least I can blame my own mother for planting the seed in my head ;-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Our Front Porch

Last summer, we "salvaged" these vintage motel chairs from my parents' garage.  I despised them as a child but ended up LOVING them as an adult.  After some serious sanding and a fresh coat of paint, we had blue chairs for our porch!

Long story short, the chair on the right has started rusting out...and in a bad way.  Neither one of us felt safe sitting on it :-(

We knew it would need replaced so we started looking around for a new set...but it would have to be affordable as just one year ago, we thought we had something that would be with us for a long time.

Pier 1 came through over the weekend with their outdoor sale!

2 new resin wicker rockers later and this is what we have:

The chairs are actually more brown in person.  Justin picked out the color and I have to say I love the contrast!  I had left-over fabric so I decided to skirt our old wooden table.  It really helped add a pop of color and also fill out the space between the chairs.

Speaking of left-over fabric, I had another print on hand so I decided to make some pillows for our porch swing.  We still need a dark accent on that end of the porch but I just haven't figured out what...maybe a neat wicker floor vase in the corner, behind the swing???  Does anyone even sell those???  Or a low "coffee table" of sorts in front of the swing???  Eventually, I'll figure something out!

And the final touch--our dog planter!  I found it last year on serious discount at Tuesday Morning and couldn't resist!  We have had many people comment on how it makes them chuckle :-) 

On a related note, our animals love hanging on the porch during cool evenings.

Miss Mitzi sticks her head through the slats whenever she wants to look at people walking by...maybe one day she'll figure out she can have an unobstructed view if she stands on the steps!

And Malcolm...he does nothing but clean himself while on the porch!  Then he hops over the railing and ventures back into the neighborhood!