Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
An overwhelming number of readers wish to see me take on a whole chicken for my "cooking with meat" challenge.
Since I started this challenge as a meat-cooking chicken, it's only appropriate (ha-ha).
The chicken dinner (with stuffing and brussels sprouts) is on my menu for this next week. Assuming I don't get a major veto from my husband (i.e. find a loophole that allows me to chicken out once again!), I'll post my experience within seven days!
In the meantime, I'll take recommendations, tips, tricks and favorite recipies! Please comment below and save my family from potential doom!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
One-word description of the workweek: Laborious
Books I've finished: "Look Me in the Eye," John Elder Robinson; "The Pact," Jodi Picoult
News story that stuck with me: Jon & Kate Plus 8 divorcing; Farrah Fawcett--dead!; Michael Jackson--dead! Wow, what a week!
Workouts this week: 4
Nutritional cheats: White-chocolate truffles, lemon bread, Muddy Buddies (although since technically I didn't have lunch those days ...)
What I did for myself: With a house full of noise and boys, I took myself to the movies on Sunday to see the weeper "My Sisters Keeper." Did not disappoint! I'm glad I brought a bag of tissues, because I started crying about five minutes in, and didn't stop until 10 minutes before the credits rolled. Judging by all the sniffles around me, the handful of other women in the theatre felt the same way! Ladies, isn't it great to have an outlet for those unnecessary tears every now and again?
Friday, June 19, 2009
I didn't think anything of it until I was there by myself one afternoon. Sure enough, a darling little deer ambled out of the woods and ever so delicately ate my lawn. Enthralled, I called my husband.
"There's a deer in our yard!," I whispered, running around to various windows to take a look.
A Northern California boy, he wasn't exactly impressed. Finally, the deer left and I went back to work, aglow with my brush with nature.
The next day, it was back.
Three days later, it brought friends.
One day, I came home and opened my bedroom window to see a spotted fawn grazing not two feet away. Across the yard was another fawn, watched by their mother from the underbrush.
I felt like Snow White ... minus those messy dwarves. Beautiful, graceful, wild creatures were choosing my lawn for their morning snack! I thought about how our landlord had suggested Liquid Fence to keep them from eating plants.
"No way," I told my husband that night. "Why would we want to keep them out?"
Not five minutes later, I saw it. One of the adolescent bucks looked casually around the yard, heaved himself up on two legs, and started nibbling at my apple tree.
My jaw dropped. I was horrified. Those are my pie apples! I called Matt over to witness.
"Not so cute anymore, huh?" he chuckled.
I was speechless. I didn't even know deer could DO that! They still come into my yard, but now I'm a little more wary. Are they going to eat ALL the low-hanging fruit? Should I keep them out? Is my rosemary bush safe in the sun?
Will their Bambi-esque sweetness make up for their thievery? We'll see.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
After collecting them, tallying the amount and writing the proper thank-you notes, I sat Matt down.
"The way I see it, we could do three things with this money," I said. "First, we could use it to pay off some credit cards. Second, we could buy something sensible, like the new set of knives we need."
"Or," he said, gently urging me to get to the point.
"Or we could get a Wii."
Two days and $500 later, we were hooking up our new video game system. I'd not only sprung for the Wii, but also the Wii Fit, the latest exercise craze for the generation that doesn't believe in real exercise.
When you get a Wii, you make a Mii, a fun little avatar that represents you in all the games. You can adjust hair, eye color, face shape, accessorize, you name it. You can also choose your own body type.
Having just looked at my own, curvaceous figure with a sigh, I moved the dial on my Mii down in the Kate Moss direction, directly opposite reality. Happy, I put in the disc for Wii Fit to set that game up.
The first thing that Wii Fit does is import your avatar. I brought Matt's over too, and our little video selves were running and skipping blithely across the screen. They moved effortlessly, like I hoped I'd be able to move after a few weeks of Wii Fit.
The second thing Wii Fit does is a body test. It checks your balance, reflexes and takes your height and weight to determine your BMI.
And when it does that, even the most optimistic Mii planning goes right out the window. There's no fooling Wii Fit.
As the slider on my BMI tab rolled upward, my Mii looked down in despair at her expanding waistline. That's right--she got fatter as the BMI crept to the top of the "overweight" section. Then, adding insult to injury, a little voice piped up through my home's surround-sound speakers.
"That's overweight!" it squeeked.
I was getting ready to chuck the whole system out the window--my avatar's feelings were hurt, I was being shouted at, and I hadn't had the game on for more than 15 minutes! Then something happened that delighted me.
My Mii started running and skipping again! But with her newly chubby form, she couldn't be as graceful and light as she once was.
Truth be told, she waddled and hopped across the screen. Her arms, now plump, couldn't swing weightlessly anymore, so the pumped furiously. You could almost hear her gasping for air.
It was the cutest Fat Mii I've ever seen.
Now, a few weeks later, I don't mind as much when the Wii Fit insults me. "Oof," it says when I step on the board. "That's overweight!" it squeeks when I weigh-in.
I don't mind because I know that when I start up, my Mii will waddle adorably across the screen, begging me to play with her.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
- The secret to these cookies is the melted butter, which creates the chewy factor; and the extra egg yolk, which acts as a tenderizer.
- The recipie suggests "1-2 cups of chocolate chips." I only use one cup, as I find that two cups (shockingly!) is too many. Upsets the balance of the cookie. But it's a matter of personal preference.
- Obviously, if you don't dig white chocolate and cranberry, you can switch 'em out. Butterscotch chips, regular chocolate, coconut ... go nuts. Oooh, nuts!
- I don't know what kind of oven Cook's Illustrated uses, but the 15 to 18 minutes thing has never worked out for me. Last night I made the cookies on a new, gas stove, and the cookies took about 20 minutes. So after the first 15 minutes, keep an eye on them. Make sure both layers start to brown before taking them out, or you'll end up with half-cooked centers. Good for cookie dough-lovers, bad for salmonella-fearers.
- If you're as unsure what "rotating cookie dough 90 degrees" refers to as I was, here's a picture. You're making little cookie mountains.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
It's not perfect, but it's a start. This is what I call "Step 1 Organizing."
- Put away in an existing container.
- Put in the "throw away" box. This box helps avoid the distractions that can happen when you're running back and forth to the trash.
- Put in the "keepsake" box. Typically I avoid sorting items into new boxes, but in this particular instance I knew that I'd end up needing this keepsake box to hold wedding/honeymoon stuff until my sister could help me scrapbook it. I know that on a future trip to Ikea, I'll be purchasing a nicer-looking keepsake box, so it's OK.
The time-frame is really important. By 90 minutes, I was starting to feel lazy. When that happens, it's time to stop. When you lose momentum, it's too easy to skip a box, set items aside "for later" or overfill the (in my case) keepsake box.
So that's it! That's Step 1. All those boxes and bags were unpacked, and the items inside were put in their proper place. But since proper doesn't necessarily mean organized, I'll need to prepare for Step 2.
Step 2 requires shopping, so it's important to check the budget before attempting it. And that's why I'm stopping at Step 1 today.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
There's an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where Frank mocks Marie for over-organizing.
"You've got a box of string marked 'Pieces of String Too Small to Use'!" he bellows in frusteration.
But I get it. There's not much more satisfying than sorting items into their correct boxes, bins, bags and files. My dear husband, Matt, once asked me to spend a Saturday organizing his desk at work. It was like being proposed to all over again.
I emptied every drawer out, wiped them down, and started inventory. Papers in one pile, office supplies in another, pens and pencils tested and kept or tossed, files sorted in order of use and necessity.
Then I got to go to Office Depot and use the Big Cart. I picked up notebooks, dividers, drawer-organizing baskets, stand-up filing units and flat ones. I bought cups for desktop pens and pencils, and an extra filing setup for an empty drawer.
When he saw my haul, one eyebrow went up.
"I think we're going to have to add a line-item in our budget for your Office Depot supplies," he said as I excitedly explained my new system to him.
But now he raves about his organized desk. He lets me tackle his closet and dresser drawers when they get too crammed. My own closet is sorted by sleeve length (long, 1/2, 3/4, short, shoulder-covering tank-tops, and tanks). My pantry is divided into supplies (further categorized into baking, breakfast, lunch, dinner and spices) and meals.
Since we moved last weekend, the house is ready for a whole new makeover. Harry Potter has a Sorting Hat. I've got a Sorting Room: The guest bedroom is where all the boxes with miscellania are collecting. They're waiting for me to clear an entire Saturday, hook up a TV and DVD player, pop in Season 1 of "Gilmore Girls" for background noise, and start sorting.
After that, my car will practically drive itself to Office Depot.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I used to think I could just sit on the couch and watch TV endlessly, without a care in the world. Then I realized that the last time I did that, I was working 60-plus hours a week as a newspaper reporter ... and hanging out in the newsroom when I wasn't on the clock.
These days, I need a project. A hobby. First, I blogged about my trials and tribulations during a 40-pound weight loss. Once the weight was off, I learned to knit. I started giving out cookies for Christmas. I got engaged. I bought a sewing machine. After the wedding, we moved.
As you can see, my interests are varied. I may not be a pastry chef, a clothing designer, a quilter, a fitness coach or an organization guru, but I know a little bit about a little bit.
So when I decided it was time to close down my weight-loss blog, I wanted to start something new. But what to write about? My thought process went a little something like this:
Oooh, I can test recipies! Bake cakes and cook something from Paula Deen every day!
I can start a garden! Learn photography! Sew a quilt!
What about organization? I'm a great organizer! Let's do it!
Since I couldn't decide ... and generally project-hop a the mood suits me, I thought, "Why not do it all?"
So check out the to-do list to the right. Those are my goals for the year. That's what I'll be talking about. You'll be hearing about my successes, my failures and my non-starters. I'll post pictures and updates, and comments about the fallout of said successes and failures from my life.
If I steal a recipe or an idea, I'll cop to it. If I discover something on my own, I'll brag about it.
Mostly, I hope I learn from it all, and add a few more talents to my collection!