Friday, January 30, 2009

A Little Creative Help

Creatively, I have been in a funk for quite some time now. Part of it has to do with being busy, but more than anything, I have just been uninspired. It has been almost a year since I've really been focused on it, the last time being when I returned from my trip to Africa last spring. I spent a couple of months, painting, drawing, journaling, writing after that amazing trip, but since then I've had kind of an "eh!" attitude towards it.

It's not that I haven't tried because I have. Many, many times I have gone up to my art room and tried to get inspired, even when I was on break this past month and I had all the time in the world. However I seem to sit for awhile, over thinking what I am there to do, and end up just making a few cards since that part of my brain doesn't seem to be as blocked as the other part. The last couple of weeks this has started to bother me and I'm feeling frustrated.

I happened upon a fellow blogger, Michelle Ward, who is an incredible artist. She has started the GPP Street Team and has monthly creative crusades for art journaling that everyone is allowed to participate in. Each month a new challenge is posed and fellow artists/bloggers take on the challenge and share it on their blog. The crusades are currently at #27, but you can start anywhere you'd like. If you participate by the monthly deadline, you are entered into a drawing!

After reading through the challenges, I felt some ideas and inspiration stirring inside me. This is my contribution to Crusade #2 - journal your playlist. I incorporated one of the best concerts I have ever been to (The Police at the Hollywood Bowl) with my Police playlist on my ipod. So, here it is...

I want you all to know that this is a big step for me. I love to do all things creative, but I don't usually like to share it with others. I felt like I needed to take serious measures to get my creative brain working again, so I've broken down and posted this.

Thanks Michelle for the great ideas. I am looking forward to working on more crusades!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

Tasty Tuesday is pleased to announce that all your favorite Tasty Tuesday recipes now have links on the side bar, right below my blog roll. Thanks JLo for kick in the butt to do it.

This week's recipe is really just a sandwich, but it is one of my favorite, super quick meals,
I keep the ingredients in my kitchen so if I am feeling less creative with my cooking I can throw this together and still have a nutritious, satisfying meal. Slàinte!
Greek (because I think some of the ingredients are Greek) Chicken Pita
Ingredients (enough for one pita)
1/2 grilled chicken breast, shredded (best served warm)
1 tbsp feta cheese
1 tbsp chopped kalamata olives
1 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 pita bread, cut in half (I used Western Bagel's Alternative Pita)
1 tbsp Greek salad dressing (optional)
Note: There are so many good flavors that I don't usually add the dressing. Since I also pack this sandwich for my work lunches, the dressing would make it too soggy.
1. Mix feta, olives, tomatoes and lettuce together in small bowl. Add the warm chicken. Combine. If using the dressing, mix that in as well.
2. Open the pita halves and then lightly toast to the pita is a bit crispy.
3. Spoon half the mixture into each pita half.
Here is the pita sandwich served with apples and the best potato chips ever, Salt and Cracked Pepper Kettle Chips. I had it Sunday night for dinner, but made extra to bring for lunches this week.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Bachelor, Episode 3

Well, it was another uneventful "The Bachelor" this past week. I don't know if it's the 2 hour episode or if Jason, the bachelor, is just not that exciting anymore, but this season has been a bit ho-hum to me. But, there are a few things that need to be mentioned...

First, Stephanie got the first one-on-one date with Jason this week. She is the widowed mother of a little girl who she was missing a lot on her daughter's birthday the day of the date. Jason surprised her with her little girl joining them on their date to Lego Land. They seemed to hit it off; at least it was edited that way. She did get a rose at the end of the date so she gets to stay another week.

Later, Jason took a group of the ladies to make casts of their breasts for breast cancer awareness. After the casts were decorated they joined Jason for drinks. Opinion Alert: The group dates are always super catty and just annoy me. On the group date, Jillian (the hot dog girl) received a rose so she is also safe another week.

Jason's next one-on-one date was with Natalie who the rest of the bachelorettes didn't care for at all. It was a "dream" date as Jason arrived to pick her up with millions of dollars in jewelery. Of course the other girls were so jealous. Then he put her on a private jet and a helicopter to Vegas. They had a night on the town and Jason tried to get to know her better. When asking her to tell him about herself she said, "I'm a sporty girl who likes clothes." Surprisingly, Jason did not give her a rose and she was sent packing, that is after she had to return the jewelery. The rest of the house was thrilled. The cocktail party was next up. As the girls vied for Jason's attention, Jason was looking for some answers. Natalie left the show ranting and raving about the others and Jason wanted to get to the bottom of it. Right before the rose ceremony Chris Harrison, the host, confronted the girls for Jason. During the confrontation, Shannon ran off and threw up in the bathroom. Opinion Alert: After she got sick, Jason found Shannon and she hugged and kissed him...Ewwww!
At the rose ceremony, Jason chose to eliminate Erica, the arguer from last week, and Kari, who I don't even remember being on the show. Opinion Alert: I am so glad Erica is gone. She was a b-otch on the show.
There are 9 remaining bachelorettes. Molly, Lauren, Melissa, Naomi, Shannon, Nikki, Megan, Stephanie, and Jillian. Opinion Alert: At this point in the show, I think I like Jillian best. Yes, she is the hot dog girl, and that was a little kooky during the first episode, but she seems the most normal of the bunch. We shall see what happens during tonight's episode. I'm still waiting for Deanna to come back and cause more drama.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

Today's TT is in honor of Barack Obama who, in a couple of hours, will be our nation's new President. My students and I will be watching the inauguration ceremony this morning and this is the first time I think that I am looking forward to it. He's got a tough road ahead of him, but I am hoping for the best.
I first tried this week's Tasty Tuesday at a friends house a couple of years ago. Book club was at her house that evening and she ordered pizzas, pastas, and salads from an Italian restaurant in town. All of the food was very good, but this pizza was outstanding. I made a mental note of all the flavors I tasted and tried to recreate it at home. This is what I came up with. Slàinte!

Pear Gorgonzola Pizza
1 round pizza dough (I use Trader Joes)
1 splash extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1-2 bartlett pears, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
red pepper flakes (to taste)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (or according to pizza dough directions)
1. Prepare dough onto sprayed pizza pan according to dough directions.
2. Rub olive oil and spread crushed garlic onto dough.
3. Place pears onto dough in a single layer.
4. Sprinkle gorgonzola cheese over the pears.
5. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top.
6. Add red pepper flakes to taste, to add a bit of spice.
7. Bake pizza at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until crust and cheese has browned a bit.
8. Let set up for about 5 minutes before cutting into slices.

Simple AND delicious!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Bachelor Recap

This past week's The Bachelor was kind of a "take it or leave it" episode. It was pretty mild; not a lot of drama. It was far from a train wreck like many of the episodes are, however there were a few moments that need to be pointed out and/or ridiculed.

First, Jason sent his son back to Seattle to spend time with his mom. Opinion Alert! There were mixed reviews about his child being in the midst of this crazy show, but I was glad that he was sent back. The show is funny and trashy, for adults, but it's not appropriate for kids.

The 15 ladies chosen by Jason during the season premiere moved into their mansion and were told that there would be some group dates and some one-on-one dates, and even more shocking was that not everyone would be chosen to go on a date. "Gasp!" That is a Bachelor first.

After they got settled in the mansion, Jason showed up unexpectedly for a pool party. The party must have been uneventful as I don't remember much except for Jason taking off his shirt.

Jason surprisingly had to give out a rose at the pool party and chose Jillian (the hot dog lady). He whisked her away on a one-on-date, much to the chagrin of the others. He took her to the Disney Concert Hall where they had champagne and goodies and then Robin Thicke put on a private concert for them. Opinion Alert! I would be so uncomfortable at a private concert, both as the audience and as the performer. Wouldn't that be awkward?

Later Jason took Melissa (the Cowboys cheerleader) on a one-on-one date, and then a group date with all but two (Raquel and Megan) of the remaining girls. After dropping the ladies off at home, Raquel snuck into Jason's car to get some time with him. Jason is visibly shocked by this overt display.

At the cocktail party, the women fell all over themselves vying for Jason's attention. Before the night really got going, Lisa bowed out of the running because her grandmother was very ill and she decided she needed to be home. After he says goodbye, Jason went back to mingling with the women. Opinion Alert! Jason has the worst "I'm pretending to be interested but you're freaking the heck out of me," look on his face. It's a strange smile, but kind of fake and creepy. Watch for it next time.

Megan (the girl who got the most votes to leave and was given a rose instead) was part of a conflict again this week. This time it was with Erica. However, this time I felt bad for Megan, as it didn't seem to be entirely her fault. After Molly, who already received a rose on one of the dates, "stole" Jason away from Megan, Megan told a group of girls, including Erica, what had happened. There was a discussion about if a girl who already has a rose should monopolize Jason and the consensus of the group was that they shouldn't. Erica told the group that she wouldn't do that. Later, Erica was in the kitchen with Molly and Megan overheard her tell Molly about the conversation and completely changing her story, making the other girls look bad. Megan privately confronted Erica and Erica freaked out. Opinion Alert! I think Erica was embarrassed for being called out and turned it around on Megan. I wonder if she will look back after watching the episode and say, "Hmm, I guess I am two-faced."

Anyhow, after the rose ceremony, two were sent home without a rose - Sharon, who quit her teaching job to be on the show and Raquel, the Brazilian who got in Jason's limo at the end of the night. I told you, that creeped him out!

I'm not really sure if I have a favorite yet. There are so many of them at this point, that I can't keep them all straight. Maybe next week one or two will stand out. Do you have an opinion of who you like best?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas
I made these last week after making the tortillas. It's cheesy and spicy. Slàinte!
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup chili powder
12 oz canned tomato sauce
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
salt to taste
corn tortillas (12 or 13)
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (I use extra sharp)
2 cups shredded chicken (I grill mine using garlic pepper)
1 8oz can sliced black olives
For sauce...
1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Stir in flour and chili powder, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly.
3. Stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, and onion salt into the flour and chili powder until smooth.
4. Continue cooking over medium heat approximately 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt.
For enchiladas...
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. To make the tortillas more pliable they need to warmed. Heat them on both sides over a gas stove for about 30 seconds each side or cover them with paper towels and put them in the microwave for about 45 seconds.
2. Pour enough sauce in a 9x12 baking dish to just cover the bottom. Pour 1/2 of the remaining sauce into a shallow dish or plate (about the size of your tortillas).
3. One at a time, dip a tortilla into the shallow dish to cover with sauce, turn over and cover the other side.
4. Place tortilla on a clean surface (I use another plate). Add about a tablespoon of chicken, a teaspoon of cheese, and a few olives to one end of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla tightly and place in the bottom of the baking dish, rolled end down so it doesn't unroll.
5. Repeat process until the baking dish is full. (I usually get 9 tortillas lengthwise and then I add 4 more to the sides for a total of 13)
6. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the rolled tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese and olives over the sauce.
7. Place in oven and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Since all the ingredients are cooked, you're just looking to get the insides hot and the cheese melted.
They are best out of the oven, but heat up for left overs pretty well too.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Bachelor

I thought this past week's The Bachelor episode was not meant to be. I record EVERYTHING that I watch these days because I hate watching commercials. That often means however that I don't watch the shows on the days they were originally recorded; usually a day or so later. So Tuesday morning (that's right, still on vacation) I got snuggled into bed to watch my Bachelor and low and behold it was not on my list of recorded TV shows. "What?!?!" I gasped. I checked a couple of times and it had been set to record on the DVR, but somehow my DVR failed me! I panicked for a minute and then quickly checked to see if I could find the episode online. Phew, it was there and I was able to get my Bachelor fix for the week.

The first 20 minutes or so was spent reminding us how Jason, the bachelor, had been "rejected" by Deanna last year and how glad he was to have been on that show because now he knows he can love again, blah, blah, blah. We were also subjected to watching the 25 girls share why they are perfect for Jason. Another good reason to record these shows - fast forward through the dumb parts.
Something I found odd, but then again maybe not so odd was that Jason brought his son Ty with him to Los Angeles. I'm not a parent so I'm not sure if it is better to be with your child and subject them to the craziness that is The Bachelor, or not have them be part of the show, but have to leave them for a several weeks. I can see why he wanted to bring his son, but it's still a little odd.
Finally, Jason was introduced to the 25 women one at a time. One at a time the women stepped out of the screaming limos to meet "the man of their dreams". Some were nervous, some were cool, and some were just silly. As it turns out four of the women are single moms.
Then the cattiness, I mean cocktail party began. This is the 2nd most "train wrecky" part. The girls fought for time with Jason and when they weren't with him, they were bad mouthing whoever he was with. One girl had memorized his MySpace page but promised she wasn't a stalker, one girl said she quit her job to be on the show to meet him, and one read him a poem she had written. Another had Jason make a hot dog in front of her so she could size him up, another share that she created vision boards and those visions usually came true, while two others danced salsa with him.
The host, Chris Harrison, joined in the fun by announcing there would be a vote. Each girl would choose the person who they most wanted to see leave. That sent everyone into a tailspin. While the women debated who they would vote for, Jason gave out his first-impression rose to 29 year old Nikki.
After the vote, Chris announced that single mom Megan had the most votes. She was shocked and the others were all smiles. However, Chris shared with the group that Megan wasn't leaving empty handed, she was leaving with a rose. That pissed a lot of girls off and even though Megan was saved, she called the girls "f---ing b--ches"(Happy Wife had to fill me in on what she said cuz I couldn't understand over the bleeping.) I wonder if that rubbed Jason the wrong way.
Jason handed out 13 more roses to the women he wanted to remain in the house which sent 10 women home.
After the rose ceremony is the most "train wrecky" part on the show. Most of the women were fine with it, mostly just embarrassed to be chosen to go right off the bat, but there are always a couple who fall completely apart...over the guy they met like an hour before. This time it was Jackie, the wedding planner, who told us that she had already planned her wedding to Jason ten times. Wow, I bet he regrets that decision!
My favorite part of the show is the previews for the following episode. It seems things get very heated this season and the claws come out with bitch slapping and everything! Plus, it appears that Deanna will return and wants Jason to give her another chance. I know, are you just dying? Tune in Monday night to see episode 2 of The Bachelor.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

About a year and a half ago while on a school break I got a bug up my butt and decided I wanted to make tortillas from scratch. I bought myself a tortilla press and then put it in the cupboard and forgot about it as I had to go back to work and didn't have time to experiment. Since I am again on vacation with some time to play in the kitchen, I decided to give it whirl. Slàinte!

The ingredients are simple - a bag of corn masa flour and some water. I used 2 cups of masa, and 1 1/4 cups of water. Depending on how many tortillas you want to make you would adjust the amounts accordingly.
Mix the masa and water together in a bowl. The mixture needs to be a dough like consistency. If it's too dry, add some water, about a tablespoon at a time.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces (or however many tortillas you will be making). Roll each piece into balls. Cover with a wet cloth to keep moist.
The dough can be rolled out into a circle using a rolling pin, but the tortilla press is much easier. The tortilla press needs to be lined with plastic wrap or a freezer bag can be cut into 2 circles and used instead (that's what I used so I could just wash and store it with the press). Place one piece of plastic on the bottom of the press. Place the dough in the middle of the bottom plastic and cover with the top plastic.
Flatten the dough in the tortilla press. I recommend that you don't just flatten it in one push. I pressed a little, opened and turned the dough a little, pressed again, and so on until I got the right thickness. All in one push made mine a little uneven.
Remove top plastic and turn tortilla over onto your hand. Gently peel off the bottom piece of plastic and lay the tortilla into a heated (med-high heat)m ungreased cast iron pan. Cook for about a minute on each side.
Remove from the pan and cover with a towel to keep warm.
The corn tortillas were very good and quite easy once I got the hang of the press. I will definitely make them again. I made chicken enchiladas with 13 of them and will share that with you for next week's Tasty Tuesday.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hmm, Facebook?

So, I was on the phone with my friend Jill (who used to live just a couple of miles away, but moved to Rochester, NY a few years ago, yes still bitter, but that's another post)this afternoon. She has been hounding me to sign up for Facebook for the last couple of months. A couple of other long distance friends have told me to do the same, but I just haven't been into it. During our call she reminded me again. "OK, OK, I'm doing it right now," I told her as I found the website and signed up. She's thrilled, as I've had three messages from her since I signed up about 3 hours ago.

However, I am still skeptical. I've received emails from people who I didn't even know were on it and that's stressing me out a little - how did they know?. There are tons of people from high school who I've lost touch with over the years who are on it and that's stressing me out too. Why is that? Do any of my 5 faithful readers do Facebook? Why do you do it? Does it stress you out too?

The Bachelor

The new season of The Bachelor begins tomorrow evening. Yay! I know, I know, it's reality trash, but I am a reality TV fiend, and this is one of my favorites. I do prefer The Bachelorette since I'd rather watch a house full of men do manly things rather than a house full of women do catty, bitchy things, but that's neither here nor there, The Bachelor is better than nothing.

This season's bachelor is Jason. Maybe he looks familiar to you. That is because he isn't a newcomer on The Bachelor/Bachelorette series.

You may recall that on the last Bachelorette, Jason made it to the final two. The previously rejected Deanna had been chosen to be the new bachelorette and she promised not to lead anyone on or break anyone's heart. She narrowed it down to the free-spirited Jesse and the straight-laced, single dad Jason.Well, she broke Jason's heart. As he knelt to propose to her, she pulled him back up and said she couldn't marry him. You could hear a gasp around the country.

Instead she wanted to be with Jesse. He proposed and she said yes.

From what I've heard, they aren't even together anymore...anyone surprised? It made for good reality TV though.
Is anyone going to watch? Don't worry if not, I will keep you up to date.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Week With My Own Marley

So, I'm living my very own "Marley and Me" this week. I am dog sitting my friends' dog for the week while they are camping. These are the same friends that watch my dog when I am out-of-town.
This is Haley. Haley is a yellow lab who is about 9 years old. Haley is a sweet dog, but she is also a 100 pound beast! During the times that I have "watched" her she has dug up my yard, eaten a sprinkler, chewed up my slippers, and numerous times I have found myself standing on top of my couch or bed with a rolled up magazine trying to get her to stop (fill in the blank). She is the messiest eater and drinker (more water is on the ground than in her mouth), she jumps straight up in the air when I bring her food and water, often knocking the bowls out of my hand in the midst of her jumping bean-like behavior. She also walks around when she poops so cleaning up the mess is time consuming since there aren't any piles, but rather little pieces sprinkled all over the grass.

Now that Haley is getting older, she has settled down some and this winter my friends have decided to try her in the house during the day. Up until now, Haley has been an outside dog. This new privilege began a day or so before I left for Hawaii. I was told when I dropped Koho off that Haley had been pretty good inside and there was hope that she would be able to be part of the family inside the house during the day. Koho of course was thrilled with that since usually when she stays, the dogs remain outside and Koho doesn't really understand what she is doing outside with "that dog".

Apparently, the inside thing was a success and I was told when I picked up Koho and Haley to take them back to my house that she had been very good inside. That was great for me since my dog likes to be inside and I have always felt bad to leave Haley outside when we were inside. There were just a few exceptions. The one that concerned me the most was that if she drank too much water she would throw up. Hmm, OK - no water inside, that's for sure. "No worries," I thought, "Everything will be fine." This is how it has gone so far.

  • The first afternoon (the day of my extreme jet lag) I let her in after making sure she had done her business. I blocked her from going upstairs, but she was allowed to wander around downstairs where there are only tile and wood floors. She spent a little bit of time sniffing around, and then found Koho's water and proceeded to drink it all up, leaving a lot of it on the tile floor. Remembering the exception, I took her by the collar to make her go outside. As I pulled her, she planted her bottom on the ground, her collar came off over her head, my socks slipped on the wood floor, and I fell on my bottom.
    • Later that night, I let her back in to see how it would go. She found a chewy bone in Koho's toys, squeezed her way onto Koho's bed next to Koho, and went to town on it. The next half hour was pretty pleasant and calm with Haley chewing on the bone and staying in one place. Not really paying attention, I suddenly heard the lapping of water. I had picked up the water dish before letting Haley in and then I realized it was coming from the bathroom. Haley was drinking out of the toilet. Before I could get a treat and get her outside, she threw up in my bathroom. She spent the rest of the evening outside.
    • The next day, I tried it again. I was in the process of making chicken enchiladas that evening. I grilled the chicken outside while the dogs milled around inside and out. I brought the chicken in, sat it on the counter (you already know what's coming, don't you), and quickly went back outside to clean and cover the grill. When I came back in, Haley's two giant paws were up on the counter and she was eating one of the chicken breasts. Back outside she went.
    • Koho has a dog house outside that she never uses but Haley loves it. However, my dog is about 45 pounds and Haley is a beast. She goes in the dog house, but has a little trouble getting out. This week I have often walked outside to see her and when she tries to get out of the doghouse it is stuck to her backside and she walks around with the house on her back - like a turtle.
    • With the water put up, the toilet seats down, and no food in sight, I let Haley back in the next afternoon. She found the chewy bone and a spot on Koho's bed again. She finished the bone and started to walk around again. I firmly told her to go back to the bed. She did, and then got up. I snapped my fingers and said, "Go, Haley." She walked back to the bed and then I heard this rustling noise. I looked over and she was humping the bed. That's right! Outside again, and that is where she is staying put until she is picked up on Saturday.

    I know, pathetic isn't it?