I am a loud talker, always have been. My sister's tried to get me to talk quieter my whole life, mostly by shaming me. It didn't work. My daughter is loud, very loud just like me and my ex-husband. I sometimes cringe at how loud she can be and I try to instill an "Inside Voice" into her repertoire. It's not working.

But today, her voice was used to her benefit.

She was picked to do morning announcements. Normally, the 5th graders have this responsibility, but for some reason the first grade classes were asked to do the Weekly School Kickoff.

She did great! It was in the gym with the whole school there much like a pep assembly. There was a microphone set up in front of the gym and she grabbed a hold of the mike and brought it up to her mouth and with a loud but clear voice welcomed her elementary school to Monday, March 31, 2008.

Maybe if I had known it was going to be in the gym in front of the whole school instead of in the library over the PA system I might have insisted she not wear her favorite tennis shoes. The front of the toes are completely worn thin with gray fibrous string and netting barely covering her toes. Wonder if that look will prompt a lice check today?

Have I mentioned my car? The inside door panel on the driver's side has pulled away from the actual door. One of these days I will go to shut it and I will be holding, by the handle, the inside door panel but my drivers side door will remain wide open. When that day happens everyone will hear my mind snap because I will NOT be using my inside voice, not at all.
My twenty year high school reunion is quickly approaching, too quickly if I want to look ten years younger by July. I didn’t attend my ten year reunion because the weekend before I had moved from Chicago to Redondo Beach and I just couldn’t fit the reunion into my anxiety ridden schedule.

I was looking forward to the twenty year reunion. Seeing Ree’s pictures of her class which graduated before me was pretty cool. Some of those people in her pictures looked exactly the same as they did when they harassed and intimidated us because we were lowly juniors. There are some girls that went way beyond the scope of a small town inflicted “Rush Week”. They had a few issues with juniors dating their the guys in their senior class.

"Hands off sister or we will kick your a** at McDonalds Friday night!" (Izod, Add-a-bead, harachi wearing puny self)

Our own class of ’88 had its share of problems. Those stupid, beer chugging, womanizing boys and the girls that thought that going out once to a movie or Seekers teen club meant they would be a couple forever. They would settle down, buy a trailer on some land, build a house, and coach their kid’s softball team.

"Back off sister, he’s mine we talked to each other at the Youth Canteen!" Oh yes! The days of Cherry Vodka and the Silver Bullet, good times good times.

Everyone has memories of high school. Some people wish they had never left and I swear some might actually have had their wish granted when you see them on a visit back home. Others are proud or ambivalent of their high school class and either keep in touch with classmates or sporadically play catch up when they run into a each other.

Then there are the classmates that wish the Silver Wand Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith used in Men in Black was real.

I am not one of them. Sure there are many things I am ashamed of and would hate to have anyone re-tell or to re-live especially in front of my husband or my daughter. But there are some pretty funny things that happened too. Like riding to school with LouAnn the day she drove her car into the parking lot and hit five cars at once. We didn’t have to go to class that day! Some days I felt like I owned the world other days if I made it to the end of the year I thought I would be lucky.

But what about the classmates that can’t think about high school without thinking they played a starring role in a SAW movie? What if they can’t forget being threatened everyday when they walked down the hall? What if their family was even threatened? And what if they carried that burden by themselves and couldn’t explain the crazy to their parents when asked why they are getting hate mail at home or terrorizing phone calls? (The ‘80s equivalent to cyber bullying)

Do you shame that person into going to the reunion? Because My Gosh! it has been twenty years, everyone had hard times and you should be over it by now. Personally, I don’t think so.

Each person out there knows when they graduated. If they did in fact graduate from high school and hadn’t been hit in the head in the twenty years since graduation day then they know there will be a twenty year reunion. There are many ways to get information about an upcoming high school reunion i.e.: Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, School Administrative office, press releases, classmates, newspaper announcements/classifieds, etc. Unless you actually live under a rock, and I bet I have old classmates that do, if you equate Meth and Prison to living under a rock, you know when it has been twenty years since you have graduated.

Apparently my high school reunion is being headed up by the very dedicated volunteers. They are hiring a private investigator to find lost classmates. Not just for the reunion, they stress, but for a directory. I had already received a call from a volunteer looking for me and I had given her the info for people I was still in contact with. It seemed like it was going to be a blast to see everyone after so long.

Let the drama begin! Initially I thought Wow! How cool for our graduating class to have a MySpace page to help locate lost classmates and disseminate information. I feel like I am in high school all over again. The MySpace page has now been set to private so those of us that are not "friends" of BHS 1988 can no longer keep up to date and peek in every once in a while to see who has been added. Too many people were just looking and not joining and coming public. How dare we they?!

Sure, I could join MySpace but I have reasons not to. I have been interested but thought it was a little risky, riskier than a blog among gazillion-trillion other blogs. I have an ex husband who has never seen or spoken to his daughter and I really do not want to open that potential can of worms. My step kid’s mom has a MySpace page and she would love to know all the ins and outs of my life. However, since she tried to have my husband's kids taken away and potentially mine for filing a false abuse charge with DHS I just do not want to make it easy for her to know anything about me. Yes, I can set my profile to private but if I comment then I would want my comments to be private and what is the fun of that?

There have been some ugly emails between the BHS class of 88 reunion organizers and a couple of my friends. The organizers are committed, I give them that, and they did have about 500 people to locate. But to have to “out” yourself, even to just a select few withint the organizing committee, and possibly expose your family to potential problems does not seem the correct way to handle this. Sure it might not be physical harm but possible hassles and headaches that you have avoided by keeping and paying for your information to be private.

Apparently, the Reunion Gestapo has a mandate that if you do not give them all the information they require they will have no choice but to publish what the private investigator finds out even if you have notified them you want no contact. Hope we don't have any battered wives, or abused children in our class of 1988.

I am thinking of posting the emails on my blog to capture the Gestapo-esque handling of gathering information for the absolute, directive of God, commanded by reunion organizers everywhere, complete, without error, class of 1988 directory. However, it is a little embarrassing and it has made my husband say repeatedly, “Now, who are these people? Do you really want to go to this reunion? You grew up in such a small, dinky, one horse town.”

This posting is already way too long and should be edited so I will post more some other time.

(And I just wanted to see what we all looked like without Aqua Net. Waaaaa!)
I had planned on making Beef Stroganoff but I didn't want to stand over a stove tonight so I put the Round Steak into my Crock Pot and made up this recipe. It was so good and the meat was so tender and full of flavor.
  • 2-4 lbs of Eye of Round Steak
  • 1 Onion Sliced
  • 2 tbls of Beef Base
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • Garlic Powder
  • Lawry's Season Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Worcestershire Sauce
Place thick sliced onion on the bottom of the Crock Pot. In the water mix the beef base (can use beef broth) and pour into the Crock Pot. Season one side of meat with Garlic Powder, use a lot, Lawry's Salt, Pepper, and Steak Seasoning and then place the meat season side down. Season the other side while in the Crock Pot. Sprinkle the Worcestershire Sauce over all and cook for 6 hours.

I used small Russet Potatoes washed and coated with Kosher Salt that I cooked for 1 hour at 425.
This was a delicious meal and Anna just loved it and wanted more. The meat really shrinks so if you have a big family please adjust. We have enough for one leftover meal.
When I went home for lunch I threw together this meal in the Crock Pot. It turned out delicious and very tasty.
  • 3 frozen boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
  • large handful of roasted red peppers
  • 1 onion sliced
  • Garlic Salt
  • Dry Ranch Dressing Mix
  • Wide egg noodles
I dumped the can of soup into the crock pot. Placed the chicken breasts on top and generously sprinkled with garlic salt. I had a jar of roasted red peppers so I placed them on top and took just a bit of the juice and poured it in. I sliced up the onion into chunks and placed on the chicken breasts and then I covered it all with a sprinkling of Dry Ranch Mix.

Placed Crock Pot on Low for 6 hours (12:30 and we needed to eat at 5:30).

When I got home I cooked the Egg Noodles per the instructions. I carefully took the chicken breasts out of the crock pot (they tend to fall apart because they are so moist) and placed them on a plate.

I used my immersion blender and blended the soup, roasted red peppers, and onion. Plated it up with noodles, then chicken breasts, and spooned the soup mixture on top.

Delicious!! Everyone loved it and it was so incredibly easy. I completely made this one up.
I love Muesli. I am particularly fond of Bircher Muesli because it is so creamy and delicious with a touch of apple. My first experience with this wonderful breakfast was on the breakfast buffet at the Maritim Hotel in Frankfurt, Germany. I didn’t try it that time because I was so intrigued with having baked beans and a green salad for breakfast instead.

Monday night I went to Wild Oats to kill time waiting for Anna's dance class to be over. I bought breakfast muesli and live bacteria filled yogurt made from milk from a cow fed from the family dinner table on a farm in Vermont of all places. I added Mott’s Lite Apple Juice filled with juice from apples that were probably grown in a factory with artificial light and caged trees. Sprinkled some ground flax seed into the muesli to ensure I get that perfect ‘S’ Dr. Oz loves to talk about and put it in the fridge overnight. Delicious! This particular type of Muesli already has dried apple bits, golden raisins, and dates so I didn’t need to add anything but sliced bananas. So good! Hopefully I can also make Dr. Oz proud with my ‘S’ shape this afternoon.

I wonder why my mom didn't make us this when we were little. It is so much better than regular oatmeal. The more I traveled the more I saw this creamy white yogurt dish with chunks of granola and various fruit offered at the hotels for breakfast. It seemed to be the breakfast of champions by people brave enough to wear orange pants with a lime green shirt and an equally colorful pashima shawl knotted around their neck. I had to try it and I just prayed it was not cold porridge because I had unfortunately tried that traditional dish. Remember art class in elementary school where you cut up scrap pieces of paper and swished it around in nasty water to make handmade paper pulp? It was like that. Muesli shares the same aesthetic as paper pulp but tastes so much better.

I have tried different types of Muesli but my favorite is the Bircher because of the apple bits and the light sweetness. My husband has oatmeal everyday for breakfast. He boils it for 10 minutes (I think), drains it, and puts honey on it. It is good and ever since we watched Dr. Oz on Oprah say that you should eat the same thing everyday for breakfast and that rolled oatmeal is one of the best ways to start your day TD has been making me a bowl when he makes his. But it is spring now and I am craving change. Who knew that switching up your breakfast dish can actually shake up your routine and usher in spring.
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My husband and I drove down to San Antonio this weekend to spend Easter with my dad and his wife. When we passed through Ft. Worth I spotted a large billboard with a white background and bold black lettering, "I am so over you Sarah Marshall". I had a little chuckle thinking hmmm, this guy is totally getting back at his girlfriend.

After about 20 minutes and traveling less than 2 miles (horrible, horrendous, excruciating traffic) I see another big white billboard, "My mom always hated you Sarah Marshall". I thought Wow! this guy is serious. So funny and what perfect revenge albeit he obviously is not really that over her. I tell TD to look and we see a website listed on the bottom of the billboard.

Apparently, we are not as hip to the entertainment scene as we previously thought. We even get Entertainment Weekly! Check out this website.

(I watched The Hills tonight for the first time and I am embarrassed to ask is it a real reality show or a pseudo reality show? please tell me because I must feed my craving to be always be current)
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I just bought all the summer clothes I will need for under $150. Seriously! It amazes me that I was so label conscious when I was younger. Since being a buyer and going to the shows in China, Vietnam, Phillipines, India, etc., where most of our clothing comes from, I realized that exactly the same factory was making exactly the same clothes for designers and for mass chain stores. It was a huge eye opener for Ezgi and me when we saw a pair of shoes at the Canton Fair for $2.90 US sell for $109 US at Dillards under the Cole Haan label. (They were light tan with orange accents with the bungee laces)

Yes, some things do change, the weight of the cotton, the double over stitching specs, but essentially the same. Everyone that works in purchasing knows this. We all get a chuckle when people say how much they paid for something because it had a designer tag sewn in, yet the same article of clothing will head to JCPenney with a different label.

All this does not mean I live for cheap clothes. Uh no. Not quite. But now days I refuse to pay certain prices because the markup is 1600%. Even harder for me for home decor.

This is what I bought and I think they are pretty cute and will last through the summer.

I got these at Target for $22.99

I got this skirt at Wal-Mart for $14.84. Mine is Black with White embroidery

I got these at Walmart for $14.92 and a Blue and Green on too!

I didn't get this exact shirt but I bought two very similar at Wal-Mart for $11.92 a piece. One is black and white, the other is green with a dark blue and white floral design. So cute!

I bought these shorts in green for $10 and the sweater in the same green for $7, both from Wal-Mart.

The shoes are from Target for $22.99

What do you think? I think I did great!
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I talked to Anna last night. She is having a good time in San Antonio with my sister and her cousins.

She was in the middle of brushing her teeth when I called and she needed to go because as she stated, "They are letting me watch TV tonight so I need to hurry."

This is a big deal for her because we do not have too many restrictions on TV watching time just not on the weekends when they can be playing instead. Her cousins are only allowed one half hour of "screen time" everyday and they left yesterday to visit relatives. Anna will miss them but if the trade off is more TV then I think she will survive.

But she does want to talk to me. I am to call her at 2:00 this afternoon and I am not to forget. I have some leeway in the time schedule though because she said I needed to call her at 2 but if it was 2:30 that would be okay too. I am sure this is to give her some room in case I call during a particularly intense time of Spongebob.
In the early 90's I watched a horrible movie called The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover. It was a bizarre movie with a pretty sick plot. Lou had rented it, probably from Pop-in-go, because it was suppose to be avant-garde and we wanted to be "in the know" with the pop culture scene. However, the only redeeming quality-and that is so not the word for it-of having watched such a pitiful movie is being able to say that yes, I have seen that particular movie. This only comes up when the conversation has turned into "Why I was still cool after college" and people are discussing what random books, bands, and movies they were into. It was during one of those conversations that I found out my husband had also watched this gem of a film.

Last night I met my friend Sonja for dinner at The Brook. It was a great night and we spent part of the time reminiscing. Or maybe it would be lamenting. Poor Sonja. She sat through so many of my tedious stories of who I was emailing on and who emailed but I never heard from again or who had seemed normal but ended up being a total freak. She listened to my ups and downs there in her dark office lit with lamps and a string of Christmas lights in a glass urn she took from the sample room.

At The Brook we talked about how lucky we both were that we have our husbands. How both of us never thought we would be with so nice of men since our dating history did not lend itself to the type of men we both ended up marrying. She stopped being a fixer and I accepted someone that didn't need to be changed or rescued.

I grew up in the last five years. In that time my heart was broken, my parents divorced, I bought my own house, I took my daughter to kindergarten, and I found someone that I will spend my life with. I have many close friends and co workers that encouraged me along the way. After listening to another episode where I sabotage my own life, those friends had to either walk away or hang up the phone and think, when will she take my advice? Eventually I did and things are pretty great.

I did many things in my life just because they were cool at the time or seemed fun and fabulous. Everyone has. Sometimes I want to completely forget about some of those things. But other times when the conversation turns into a trip down memory lane and what a fool, freak, or how cool I was it is pretty funny to have someone that shared those times with you. Now don't go rush out to rent The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover that is one movie we don't need to have in common.
I am old and boring. I still picture myself as a 26 year old and get a little jolt when I walk past a mirror and see my mother. I am not sure when this happened to me and I want to place the blame somewhere because God knows it can’t be my fault. Not me, just because certain popular music sounds exactly like nails on a chalkboard doesn’t mean I have gotten old. How about that cute sundress at Wal-Mart? That just makes me thrifty, like shopping in a vintage store, right?

My infamous statement at eight months pregnant, “Nothing is going to change. I will still have my same life and I will eventually move back to Chicago, maybe not Lincoln Park but for sure Wrigleyville or Wicker Park.” The ladies I worked with did a good job of holding back their laughter as I waddled away.

(I try as hard as I can to remember if I ever saw a car seat on the El or someone putting one into a cab. I don’t think I ever saw one. I know I saw little kids, didn’t I? Breeders had to live amongst the hip, partying, professionals, but where? Surely there were couples with more than just a yellow lab in there possession going to brunch at Stanley’s or McGees. They don’t all move to the burbs once with child do they?)

I went out Friday night with Ezgi, the other buyer from my last job. When we made plans she asked me if I wanted to eat dinner or just get drinks after dinner. I elected for drinks after dinner, how about 7? OH MY GOSH!! When did going out later change from 10:30 p.m. to 7? Ezgi asked me if I would have to force down my dinner at 3 p.m. in order to be ready at 7. Her singledom ignorance showed. She didn’t even know it would be at 4 o’clock. Everyone knows that is when the blue plate specials are served. Geez.
The alarm went off very early this morning, 5:20 a.m. to be exact. I crawled out of bed and went to Anna's room and promptly crawled into bed with her. She snuggled up to me and said, "Hi mommy, we used to do this all the time but you haven't done this since we moved to this house." 5:25 a.m. and she touches my heart and I now miss her before she has even left.

She is going to Texas for Spring Break. Her Pops picked her up at 5:45 a.m. to drive nine hours to San Antonio.

Anna has been anxious for two days, ever since I told her that she was going to spend time with her cousins and grandparents for a week. Her stomach has hurt both nights. She woke up early Thursday morning with a bad dream. She thought she had overslept and her pops had left her behind. Oh my! the stress of change and the anxiety of getting off her routine.

Poor baby, she can't help herself even when she was little if I moved anything in the house she would have a small meltdown. I used to say she will be the youngest kid on Paxil. But it did give some insight on her father, he couldn't handle change at all, not at all.

I was so completely not understanding of that particular trait he possessed. He would come home, from a quick run up to Trader Joes, and the living room would be rearranged. My psychosis was thinking restyling the living room would make our marriage better. Hmmmm, who had the bigger problem?

Anna is gone. She was and is so excited. Pops is just as excited to be with her as she is to be with him. She was in his truck before I could even kiss her goodbye.

And her mom and stepdad? I feel free, so free. No arguing why it is bath time, now? right now? but my show? why can't I? but that is not fair... TD has already counted down to his days of freedom, not until Wednesday night. But hey, that is just 3-4 hours tonight, 12 hours Saturday, 12 hours Sunday, 2-3 hours Jerry it really isn't a full 5 days......

We love our kids but having the freedom to, well to have freedom, we love it!

I will be checking my phone every half hour for a week anxious to hear from Anna and I will wish in about 36 hours that she was with me, preferably attached to my hip. Mabye I will call and tell her it is bath time. I would hate to lose my debating skills.
This is a delicious creamy tart, very quiche like and would be wonderful if bacon was added, either crumbled on top or inside. Would the addition of bacon make it a quiche then? I have no idea but I do know this is delicious and was a favorite when I made it for a girl's weekend one afternoon without kids.

The smell of the onions and butter cooking is awesome! And the great thing is the filling can be made the night before and poured into a pie-crust right before cooking.

Don't the onions look beautiful? Man, I am hungry. I knew I should have snuck a leftover piece of this tart after I had my required bowl of oatmeal. I say "snuck" because this is definitely not Weight Watchers approved, no way, well maybe half a bite.

Without further adieu, the ingredients:

  • 1 Vidalia onion, sliced into thin strips (Sweet onions were not available so I add more sugar)
  • 2 Shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 Leek, thinly sliced (I wash really good by soaking and then I just slice across and separate the rings)
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 2/3 cup Whipping Cream
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 4 oz softened Cream Cheese, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup grated Swiss Cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Cheddar Jack cheese with Jalapeno peppers
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp ground Nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Pie-Crust for a 9" glass pie pan (if it is glass is it really still a pan?) Bring to room temperature while preparing filling.

Preheat oven to 375. In a 12" saute pan, melt the butter and add all the onions, nutmeg, sugar, and salt. Cook until slightly translucent but not browned/burned. Turn the heat down and slowly add the cheese, starting with the cream cheese. Stir until all the cheeses and the onions are combined.

In a large bowl gently beat eggs and then add the whipping cream. Stir until combined. Slowly add in the cheese and onion mixture a little bit at a time, stirring to incorporate and make smooth.

Prepare pie-crust according to instructions. Using a fork, poke some holes along the sides and the bottom. Pour in filling. Cook at 375 for 40 minutes or until top and crust is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack. Serve warm.

Remember when you were a kid and you had the Coolest older cousin? or the neighbor kid you thought was so great?

Anna has someone. She thinks the world of this girl and considers her one of her 'bestest' friends. This champion horse rider allowed Anna to hang out with her for almost a full week last summer. Anna talks about her all the time. Jess is fourteen and her mother and I have been friends since Jr. High.

Picture 045

They were in town this weekend at a horse show so we stopped by to visit and let Anna get her Jess fix. One of the best weeks in Anna's life was the time she spent at my friend's home with Jess and her family. Almost a year later Anna will still mention things about that weekend. Well they did let her stay up until 5 a.m.!! It was so great to share my daughter with someone I have been friends with for over twenty years. To me it symbolized what friendship was all about and what I have always wanted, to have my kid(s) grow up with my friend's children.

But probably the coolest thing is one of their family pets.

Picture 040
Game over! I cannot compete with a horse.
I think I was able to do it, I took an authentic curry recipe from India and adjusted just a few things to be a successful crock pot dish. The recipe comes from a local Indian resturant, Indian Palace. They published their recipe about year or two ago and I saved it and I made just a few adjustments. I served this with Basmati Rice and homemade Naan. We loved it and the flavors were even more pronounced after marinating in the crock pot for a few hours. When we came home from church the wonderful smell coming from the Crock Pot was a really cool thing to come home to.

I had reserved six balls of dough from my first attempt at Naan and I was able to take the dough straight from the fridge and roll out without a second rise. Perfect. You can find the Naan recipe here. I did not add garlic and I lightly sprayed each side with buttery cooking spray instead of melted butter. Turned out perfect once I realized I needed to roll out the dough very thin.

For the Chicken Curry:
3 Black Cardamon seeds
4 Green Cardamon seeds
4 whole cloves
2 large pinches of Cumin seed
2-3 large pinches of Coriander seeds
1 tbls of Chili powder
Picture 234
**Grind the above ingredients in a coffee grinder and set aside. You will also need Turmeric Powder and Garam Masala after dish has cooked and before serving.

4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4-5 slices of raw ginger, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 green chiles, chopped
2-3 tbls of Canola Oil
Picture 239
** Heat the oil in a saute pan and add the above raw ingredients and half the ground seed mixture. Saute until onions are translucent. Pour into bottom of Crock Pot and leave saute pan on the stove, do not rinse.

1 can of diced tomatoes
4 boneless skinless Chicken Breasts
Garlic Salt and Chili Powder
***lightly brown, until white, the chicken breasts in the saute pan, add more oil if needed. Once browned place chicken in Crock pot. Pour entire can of tomatoes into saute pan, scraping the bottom to get all the pieces, heat through until warm. Pour tomatoes into crock pot on top of chicken. Sprinkle with Garlic Salt and Chili powder.

Cook on high 4 hours or low for six. 15-30 minutes before serving add 1.5 tbls of ground Turmeric and stir then sprinkle with Garam Masala. The turmeric will give the curry a nice yellow coloring that is common in traditional Indian dishes. Add some cilantro for garnish. The chicken just falls apart. Next time I am not going to cut/shred the chicken just let it fall apart on the plate (it will look more appealing I think).

YUM!!! We loved this and I doubled my recipe so we would have leftovers for lunch. Anna wanted more and talked about how good it was today when I took her to school.
My sister is coming up from Waco to visit. She will bring her totally adorable offspring and we are excited!

Anna does not get to watch TV Friday night, at all. (I think I probably grounded myself with that punishment) She was suppose to write her spelling words 10 times each. I compromised with her and let her write them five times while watching Disney but she had to write them another five times when she went to bed. I am putting her in bed last night and remembered the spelling words.

Me: Oh, I forgot! let me go get the spelling words from downstairs. You get into bed.
Anna: Okay, but let me get them out okay?

As I am walking down the stairs I realize that I am about to be disappointed in my daughter. I was really hoping I was going to be wrong. Uh no, sadly I was right. She wrote three of her ten spelling words a couple of times. Great! Already avoiding homework at seven. When they say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree they might mean the apple is still attached to the tree in my case since she is doing everything earlier.

I spent more time avoiding homework and making excuses and covering up then it would have taken me to actually do my homework.

We will also go see J and Mac at the horse show here in town. Anna absolutely worships J and has an 'abstract' painting to give her. I am just excited to see inside of a customized horse trailer.

And our biggest attraction for the mom has a 'gig', or what TD and I have been calling a gig, at her church. She is in the talent show they are having on Sunday. She will be playing the oboe. She has never even touched an oboe until three weeks ago. This should be awesome!
I work in a predominently male environment. There are 85 people that work in my particular building and only four of us are women. Guess what that means? I get to clean out the refrigerators!!! Yes, that is right because I have breasts I have been designated to clean all four refrigerators, and two of them are located in the machine shop break room.

I am a salaried employee not hourly or temp (not that an hourly or temp should have to either just saying). I don't even eat here at work! But here is the secret. I post the "Clean Out Fridge" sign that is emailed to me before a holiday, but....ssssshhhh....please don't tell, I have never once cleaned out the refrigerators. A little passive aggressive I know but I don't have any cleaning supplies and frankly at this point they need a good power washing.

Here is the email I always get two weeks before a shop closing holiday:

Refrigerator Clean Out

The Company provides the refrigerators for our use and for Company related events. At this time the support and cleaning related to them is assigned to us, rather than the janitorial service.

All help in this regard is appreciated, and if someone else in your area would like to volunteer to do this "other duty as assigned", that's okay (let me know before the next holiday), but in the meantime Donna has asked that we be sure the following is taken care of:

· Food: If anything in the refrigerator is black, green or fuzzy (yuck), throw it away
· Condiments: As long as nothing foreign is growing on or in it, it can stay, otherwise throw it away
· Wipe Down: Using whatever cleaner is available in your area (glass cleaner, 409, etc.) and some paper towels, wipe out the major spills and junk

Remove the clean-out sign and we're good until the next Holiday!

All these years of wearing Miracle Bras and I finally get noticed for it.
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Isn't it beautiful? I love Naan. I have existed on Naan alone at times in my life. Like the time we drove five hours from New Delhi to Jaipur and stopped on the 'highway' to get something to eat, I waited until I knew I could get Naan. The time when the lunch menu in the tent city convention hall was suspect, I would look for the Naan vendor. Naan, I love it. However, I need practice, much practice. The lady at Spices of India, an ethnic grocery store in Tulsa-yes, I said Tulsa, said that cooking Indian food Easy. Baking Indian bread Not Easy.

I am currently working on a traditional Indian dish that will be perfect to cook in my Crock Pot. I made the dish, on the stove, last night and my family loved it. However, it is a little time consuming and I think it would be even better if the chicken could cook all day in the spices. Wow!! If you could have smelled my kitchen last night, Amazing, and in a good way. Just a hint I used these ingredients and ground them up in my coffee grinder.

The smell, the fragrance, it was perfect. It reminded me of all the good things about India. I loved the food, I liked the Le Meridian in New Delhi, I loved the Turkish Steam Baths that are available in the hotels. I also liked many of the vendors I dealt with and I liked Indian design.

However, the smell of India, the country, is something I am not too fond of, which is too bad because it is impossible to get the smell off of anything you take to India for a very.long.time. even a book. The only way I have to describe it is to imagine burning trash or a smoldering landfill with cooking smells and fuel exhaust mixed in. Lovely huh?

The best was checking into my hotel room in Jaipur around Midnight, opening the door and immediately thinking the toilet had backed up. I set my bags down and looked out the window. I found the source of the smell. My room was a corner room that overlooked the tash lot. Cows, dogs, and people were rummaging about, YUM! I remember that night because I actually broke down and cried because I still had SEVENTEEN more days to go before I flew back to the states. I called my friend LouAnn and cried to her, telling her I could not go on, I was not going to make it. Oh, the dramatics of jet lag!

I never did go to tourist areas since I was there to visit factories and potential vendors. Maybe that is why the smells were so strong, I was where the people of India actually lived and worked.

I got to go to a leather tanning factory where they made high end design leather products for Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Stetson, etc. The offices were nice but touring the factory? I would give anything to have taken pictures but I think I was a little freaked out. We had gotten stuck on a small street just before arriving to this leather tanning factory due to a festival float going down the same street. We were unable to turn around because we were boxed in by large container trucks. It was my Black Hawk Down moment. Let's just say they were not happy we were there.

My trips to India were wonderful experiences for me. It broadened my outlook on cultures, food, customs, and product design. I always looked forward to the Indian food and at the same time was anxious to get to China for the more structured environment. But how many people can say they fed a monkey that was sitting on the Ancient Red Wall in New Delhi, India?

He spit at me by the way....but it could have been worse.

My dad's wife has a daughter, Sarah, who is a singer in NYC. She entered First Tracks recording contest and could win a record deal. A furreal record deal!!

She needs lots of votes in order to win. You can vote for her entry here and you can vote every 24 hours. You have to enter your email address but it is guaranteed not to spam. Please help her.

I have never met my stepsister Sarah but I know from her mother that this is a huge dream of hers. So maybe all my friends could help. I would think that might make a great ice breaker when I finally do get to meet her don't you?

You can listen to her recorded track here.

Last Saturday each of our girls had a friend spend the night. This was the first time TD's daughter had invited any of her friends over to our house and both of our girls were excited. They all played great together! It is amazing how different girls act with each other when there is more than three. Just from past experience three is a very bad number for girls. Someone will always end up with hurt feelings. I wonder if there has been a study done on this topic, "The Devasting Dynamic of Three Little Girls"?

Two weekends ago both girls had been very successful with making their own loaves of bread. They did everything: activate the yeast, stir in the flour, knead the dough, watch the dough rise, and their favorite part-the punch down. The only help they got from me was helping them stir the flour in and transporting the loaves to the baking sheet for the final bake.

I cannot sing the praises of Suzanne McMinn and her homemade bread technique enough. I have made some form of her bread every week. So simple and I have yet to have a problem.

After their friends were invited and confirmed, I told the girls that we could make homemade pizza dough and each person could make their own pizzas. They thought it was a great idea so when their friends came over at 4:30 we got started. I used the French Bread Recipe and adjusted it per the pizza dough instructions.

The girls made three batches of pizza dough. They also helped cook the sausage and shred the mozzarella cheese. TD bought pepperoni slices and Boboli Pizza Sauce.

Anna and her friend rolling out their dough. Anna's friend really liked making hers into a smooth ball.

TD's daughter made "bones" for her crust by rolling up the edges.

This is what it looked like before all the toppings were put on. It smelled so good!!

I made two more batches and this time I didn't let it rise for the full hour. We wanted a thinner crust and it worked perfectly. Our friends came over later and we made adult pizzas. We used fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, sauted red onion and red peppers (soooo good), roma tomatoes, sausage, and pepperoni. My pizza was so good and delicious I didn't take the time to get a picture of my masterpiece. So here is Anna and her friend chowing down.

Wouldn't it be great, if getting ready for work, we could smear some glitter blush on our eyelids, use tinted glue as finger nail polish, apply bubblegum flavored lipgloss and think, "I look FANTASTIC." ?

When you look this great who cares if you used a hairbrush.
The BEST game ever. Though I will probably no longer be getting flowers for Valentines. I have proof that working on my house has gone to my head. I ranked "window seat" in my top three right after Big Cities and High Heels. I thought "window seat" was referring to a w-i-n-d-o-w seat, the one that you build in front of a bay window. I didn't even get that it was window or aisle? and I lived in an airplane 5 months a year......

What a great night! Our friends came over and she brought the game. She and I had worked together but our husbands had just met once before. It was fun. I would highly recommend this game.
And check out my new header. I guess I really was the only one that knew it was condensation on the lid of a crock pot. Because my friend is a super talented Graphic Designer, she gave me a great idea to use a vintage crock pot. I got my old one out and took some pictures and then played in Paint Shop Pro. I was feeling all creative today. It is just before 9 and TD and I are going to bed. Kids went to bed at 7. Saturday night was too much fun for everyone.
This is a family favorite. Some of us could eat this soup every single day. The chicken stays moist and the flavors blend together nicely, making leftovers almost better than the first serving. It can be made spicy and hot or it can be toned down to satisfy even a delicate palate. (I actually used palate, I think that is the first time I have written that word outside of a spelling test)

I should just call this Multiple Can soup due to the simplicity of this recipe, just open cans and dump. It really is that simple.

I use the following ingredients:
  • 3-4 frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cans Cheddar Cheese soup
  • 1 can Mexican Corn
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can spicy beans, I used Ranch Style with jalepano peppers
  • 1 can Rotel, I used the Lime and Cilantro flavored and we loved it!
  • 1/2 can Chicken broth
  • Generous dashes of Taco Season, if using a packet the whole packet
  • Several dashes of Cumin
  • Several dashes of Garlic Salt

Dump all the canned ingredients into the Crock Pot. Stir and add the Taco Seasoning and Cumin. Before I put the white beans into the mix I rinse them over and over.

See all those bubbles? Yea, if you don't want those bubbles inside your intestinal tract, I found that it really helps to rinse canned beans. Otherwise, enjoy this soup on a night when you are alone or wanting to be alone.

Lay the chiken breasts on top of the soup mixture. Generously sprinkle the Garlic Salt and again sprinkle the Taco Seasoning.

Cook on high 4-6 hours or low for 8. After cooking take the chicken out and cut up into small bite size pieces or shred. Put chicken back into the crock pot and mix with the soup.

Serve with Fritos and cheddar cheese. I love to add a spoonful of sour cream too. TD sometimes adds more salsa but the Lime and Cilantro Rotel was perfect.
So we took the girls bowling instead and they had so much fun.

Mercy Me was going to be at the Mabee Center which seats 11,000. The tickets were only $10 and there were 5 bands performing. Tickets went on sale at 6 p.m. and the concert started at 7. We had a babysitter for the 4 year old and it was just going to be the four of us.

When we got to the Mabee Center the parking lot was closed. TD found a way in and that is when we found out it was sold out. The girls were so disappointed, and so was I and TD was in disbelief that a Christian concert would sell out that fast.

We decided to go bowling instead. This is the first time just the four of us have done anything together and it was great! The girls really like hanging out with each other, and without having to entertain a 4 year old TD and I were able to relax and enjoy watching the girls have fun.

You can't even tell that Anna has Tylenol and Motrin coursing through her body to bring down a low grade fever can you?

There were times when Anna threw dropped the bowling ball I thought she would create a hole in the floor.

TD's daughter kept getting better each time she threw? rolled? her ball.

Anna has enough excitement for the both of them to make up for the 9 year old's quiet enthusiasm of a shot well done.

The area of my life that is the hardest for me, being a stepmom, was actually pretty great last night. I am so thankful for our family and what a great match God brought together with our girls.