Saturday, October 24, 2009

101 Update - part 2

51.  Get my car windows tinted - Yay another check!  Darren did this for me for my birthday.  It looks so good and I can definitely tell a difference inside!  We've started calling my car the mafia car since it is black and now has dark windows.

60.  Hike on a glacier - this almost feels like cheating hehe.  Yes we did this while we were in Alaska.  It was one of the things I was most looking forward to and one of the things I enjoyed the least.  I was sick that day, and our tour guide was going way too fast for me.  So I spent all my time trying to keep up and not slip on the ice and fall to my death - there was no time left to enjoy it.  I'm still glad I did it.  And I think it had potential.  Just due to scheduling on our part we had to "hurry" and that was a bad idea.

65.  Visit 2 friends out of state - I did go visit my friend Laura in Baltimore.  That was a fun trip!

69.  Get money back for Portugal tiles - Here's another one with an exciting outcome!  While on our honeymoon we ordered handpainted tiles that said "Casa Gibson".  They said it would take about 2 months to arrive.  So we waited, and waited.  We emailed and called and all to no response.  We had basically given up on ever seeing these and just wanted our money back (it was a decent enough chunk of change to pursue it.)  Then, out of nowhere, they showed up on our doorstep in early September.  Seriously, 7 months later.  Seven Months.  Who would've thought?!?  But we have them now and all is well with the world again.

73.  Learn 5 ways to cook fish - Well considering we shipped home 50 pounds of fish after our fishing adventure in Alaska, you'd think I'd have this one done in no time!  I have learned on new excellent method of baking fish that I've tried twice.  I should post the recipe here soon.  we still have a freezer full of fish, so hopefully I will be trying more new things here in the future.

85.  Make cute baby gift for friend's new baby - I knitted a multicolored blanket for Laura.  I'm so excited for her and her pregnancy, and I can't wait for her baby to (hopefully) enjoy the first blanket I ever made.  yay!

86.  Go to a UF football game - We bought tickets on ebay for the UF-Tennessee game and it was awesome.  We also have tickets for the Vanderbilt game coming up and I can't wait!  Two games in one year, this is great!  Go Gators!

88.  Get 6 new stamps in my passport - I ended up with 3 stamps after this tri p to Alaska.  Ironic huh?  Getting that many stamps on a US trip. While in Haines, we rented a car and drove into Canada for the day, thus getting a British Columbia stamp on the way in and an Alaska stamp on the way out.  Then, our cruise docked in Vancouver where I only got one new stamp.  I'm very pleased since this is a brand new passport (due to name change) and it was looking quite lonely and empty before.

89.  Get 2 more astronaut signatures - Recently, I was able to get Tom Stafford's autograph, who flew on Apollo 10.  There is an autograph show coming up here at KSC soon where I hope to get Fred Haise's autograph.  He was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 13.  That will leave only 4 Apollo astronaut signatures I don't have who are still alive - Frank Borman, Neil Armstrong, Ken Mattingly, and Bill Anders.  Anybody happen to be related to one of them?

94.  Develop a mail filing system - Well we've started on this, although I wouldn't say it is without its kinks.  This definitely needs some more work.

99.  Hike 100 miles - I didn't mean all at once when I wrote this.  I meant cumulative.  I would guess that in Alaska our total was somewhere around 20 miles of hiking, but I will have to give this some more thought.

Friday, October 23, 2009

101 Update - part 1

It's been a while since we've looked at the list, so let's do a quick check-up.

1.  Create a website for spachulas - well the domain name has been bought  (not by us, but by a friend who was "helping" us out.  that makes me a little :-/).  Work has not actually begun on the site yet though.  The blog is showing slightly more progress, with at least a design and an introductory post.  This all needs a lot more work and we just need to make it a priority.

3.  Create a wedding album - I did!  I finally finished it after soooo much work.  And it's so beautiful.  I'm very proud.  EXCEPT (and there's always and except isn't there?)  Two of the pages were printed incorrectly.  And the company graciously offered to reprint it for me if I would remake the two pages how they are supposed to be (I guess they only have the corrupted files.)  I unfortunately have been dragging my heels on doing this and the changes have not been made yet.

4.  Renovate the bathrooms - Well you all know this is in progress.  We have hit a little snafu lately, but that is another topic for another day.

10.  Tell my grandparents I love them - A few months ago we went to North Carolina for my grandmother's funeral.  It was sad amd a relief all at the same time.  I was able to spend some good time with my grandfather which I am grateful for.  I'd like a chance to visit my grandparents in Virginia sometime soon, but am having trouble finding a good time to go.

14. Knit gifts for everyone for Christmas - I've been knitting a bunch lately.  I doubt there will be gifts for "everyone" this year, maybe next.  It's so relaxing though, I really enjoy it.

16.  Learn how to shoot in manual mode on my camera - I did a lot of learning before our trip to Alaska, and I am now able to put it in manual mode and take decent pictures.  I know what aperture, shutter speed, ISO, metering, and white balance mean, and I am learning how to adjust all those knobs to get the look I want.  I still have a long way to go, but it's encouraging to even be able to take these first steps.  My favorite setting is still aperture priority, especially taking advantage of my 50mm f1.8 lens!

23. Go on a backpacking trip - Our time in Denali was a pseudo-backpacking trip.  I don't think it quite counts for the spirit of this goal.  I'm sure we'll have other trips in the future though!

24.  Move the piano to our house - Check and check!  I hired movers a few weeks ago to do this.  Now I just need to get it tuned (it sounds awful) and maybe try to carve out a little time to play.  I know when I was younger playing the piano was a big stress relief outlet for me.

26.  Plant a garden - Wellll... we now have basil and cilantro in pots on our front porch.  That must count for something??  j/k.  Our current plan has us using this winter to get the "garden" plot ready, and planting our first go round in the late winter/early spring - basically whenever the season starts down here in FL.

32.  Finish the FAS model project - this is a project I have at work and I swear it is going to be the death of me.  That is all.

34. Buy a suit - This might actually happen this weekend.  I am presenting in a pretty important review on monday that I need a suit for.   I'm going shopping tomorrow, but might just borrow one from a friend if I don't find anything. 

35.  Learn 5 new crockpot recipes - Just this past week I made apricot chicken from this recipe.  I was kind of middle of the road in my opinion of this.  Maybe next time I will try it with chicken breasts instead, I think I might enjoy that more.

39.  Go on a US vacation each year - Well Alaska definitely counts for this year.  We're also going to DC next weekend for a quick trip.

42.  Sneak into a movie - I did this with My Sister's Keeper and The Hangover.  Went to the first movie with some girlfriends, and the guys joined us for the second.  As much as I hate to say it, I think I enjoyed The Hangover more.  I love My Sister's Keeper as a book, so of course the movie just wasn't quite as good.

43.  Read 50 books - I am keeping track of that here.

44.  Blog more regularly - 50 new posts - Well this post makes 12.

50.  Give away something that I could've sold - We gave our kitchen table and chairs to Darren's brothers when we got a new one.  I don't think I'll count this one as done yet, because there's something of a generous attitude in this that is really the point.  I have a tendency to be a tiny bit stingy when it comes to money, that is something I am still working on.

This is getting long so I think I will save the second half of the list for tomorrow!  That is a good sign though, it must mean I am getting things done.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


So I really meant to post a little more about our Alaska trip, but I keep getting distracted by all the craziness going on next door to my bedroom.  ie. the bathroom.  Or in it's current state I guess it would be correct to call it the empty room with the hole in the floor, or something like that.

Let me back up a bit.  Before the hole in the floor, there was the hole in the wall.  When we took down the medicine cabinet, we discovered this gem hiding behind it.  Nice, huh?  Like whoever did this last just didn't feel like fixing anything else and thought, eh, it'll be covered up, no biggie.

Now we're getting somewhere.  Here's the shower in the middle of the demo process.  Filled with debris.  Doesn't a picture like this just warm your heart a little?  Right..?

It's so hard to take good photos in such a little space.  Below, everything is out (tile, walls, floor, shower, toilet, etc) and we're about to sledgehammer our way through to the guest bedroom.

This is looking a little scary.  (Do those walls looks pink to you?  This is the "beige" Darren picked out before I was ever in the picture.  I like to tease him that he painted the bedroom pink.)

Yesterday, we had a plumber come to redo the piping in the floor.  Since we're rearranging the layout of the room, the pipes needed to be moved.  We're basically looking at the dirt underneath our house.  This stuff hasn't seen the light of day in 45 years.  It was a noisy, messy day, but they got everything done.  Today they came back and repoured concrete in the hole.  We'll give it a few days, and then we plan to start rebuilding the wall this coming weekend.  Progress!  Yes!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What we have planned

As a followup to my last post, I thought I'd say a little about our plans for the bathroom. Currently, it's the master bathroom, but our grand plan involves turning it into the guest bathroom, and vice versa.

These drawings are NOT to scale (please remember that!), but they convey the general idea of what we want to do. First, is the current configuration. Tiny master bath, long skinny guest bath, TINY master closet, etc. By switching the bathrooms, we hope to solve a lot of the "problems", as well as making them extra nice in the process. :)

Next, you can see what our final plan is. The small bathroom will make a nice guest bath, and that is the one we are working on first. The larger bathroom will be combined with the extra closet space (linen and AC) to make a mini master bath "suite". The closet should increase in size, which will be amazing, and the rest of the bathroom should be laid out a little better as well. It looks a little squished in the drawing, but I think that's just due to my hastily drawn not to scale model. We've handdrawn the layout to scale and it looks really good.

As for what is going in the bathroom, we've picked out a few things. Here's the sink we want. I think it's a really classy alternative when you have a small space that will only fit a pedestal style sink. This is from the "Archer" series by Kohler. I also like the idea of the blue walls, I'm thinking about doing something like that, but there's more time for those decisions later.

Here's a picture of the bathtub we're getting (minus the whirlpool jets). It's a soaking tub, so it's a little deeper than your standard tub. We also want to get the drop-in style, and do a tile deck around it like in the picture. Our tile will be different, of course, although we haven't picked it out yet.
So that's basically where we are so far. This weekend is demo weekend, so we'll have some pictures of that soon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bathroom - Before

When Darren and I were engaged and trying to decide where to live after getting married, there was only one request I made. If we were to move into his house, please, for the love of everything holy, could we redo the master bath. Seriously. Not only is terribly outdated and ugly, but it is just, well, nasty. In the almost 9 months that I have been living here, I have been avoiding the master and using the guest bath.

After much debate and research, we have finally begun! We've made some decisions, drawn up some plans, and started the demolition earlier this week. We'll be doing 90% of the work ourselves, so this might take awhile, but I can't wait!

So, to kick this all off, I thought I'd share a few of our "before" pictures. Goodbye bathroom!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Denali National Park

The first big adventure of our trip was Denali National Park. We were so excited about this part of our trip that we gave it almost 5 full days and did not disappoint in the least. It seems like most people who travel to Alaska just take a cruise, but I can't tell you enough how amazing the rest of the state is. Denali is only a few hours from Anchorage and truly a must-see to get a real sense of the Alaskan wilderness.
Denali National Park is named for Mt McKinley, which is called 'Denali', meaning 'the great one' in the native language. The park covers over 6 million acres, but there is only ONE road to the interior. Did you hear that, just one 90-mile road. In 6 million acres. Can you imagine that? Literally, as far as the eye can see, there is no one, save the chance backpacker. The road is like this tiny slit cut into the vast land to give us a peak, but just a peak, at the secrets it holds. (OK, this is getting a little too deep for even me. But I loved it, ok? Moving on...)

The system they have for park visitors is really ingenious. Generally speaking, you can't drive your own car into the park. Instead, they have a system of shuttle buses. Picture below - pretty sweet, eh? Well, they'll do. But it's so nice not having the roads clogged up with everyone's cars. The buses will stop for any wildlife you spot, so there's plenty of picture taking opportunities. You can also get off anywhere you want, and then just hop on any other bus that comes by later. Really, any random spot along the road you'd like to get off is fair game. There are almost no hiking trails in the park, they encourage people to spread out and hike whereever you'd like with the goal of not creating trails. Amazing.

We camped the first night at the park entrance, and then the next 3 nights at Wonder Lake, which is around mile 85 of the 90 mile road. During those days we'd catch the bus early in the morning and ride towards the entrance. Then at some random awesome looking spot we'd get off, get ourselves lost, and hopefully find our way back to the road before the last bus heading into the park drove past. It was a little annoying making sure we were at the road at the right time, since the later buses were a little sparser (since the majority of the people are headed the opposite direction by that time of day), but other than that it was a really great system.

The picture below is Wonder Lake. On a clear day, you'd be able to see Denali (Mt. McKinley) in the distance, reflected in the lake. I do have some "clear day" pictures of the mountain, but I'll save that for another post. Don't want to spoil the surprise!

The next picture is the view from our campsite. I think we were making dinner when we spotted this rainbow off in the distance. It was a little weird how it stayed light for some many hours of the day. There were only something like 4 hours of darkness every night, and I know I slept through them every night we were camping! I was so exhausted after the days' activities.

Just so gorgeous.... You don't get this kind of view from a cruise ship.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I wanted to blog a little more in depth about our trip to Alaska, so it seems like the best place to start would be our physical starting place - Anchorage. Granted, we were only there for about 18 hours total. And I have almost no pictures. But I'll give you what I got, practical, fun, or otherwise.

First, renting a car in Alaska. This was a huge expense. Not only did we want a minivan for 10 days, but we also wanted it to be a oneway rental. You can imagine how not cheap that was. The oneway rental was because our cruise was leaving from Seward, so we wanted to drop the car off there. There are several train or bus options between Anchorage and Seward, but in the end that wasn't practical for us.

There are 2 main things we did to save money on the car. One, I joined AAA for their 15% discount at Hertz. Yes this rental was expensive enough that the money saved more than covered the cost of membership. Two, we didn't rent from the airport in Anchorage (see you knew I had to tie this in to Anchorage eventually). Here's the secret - Hertz has another rental office a mere 10 minutes away from the airport. They close at 5pm, but as long as your plane arrives before then, just hop in a quick cab and go pick up your car there. We saved over $600 from this alone. Not bad for a $20 cab ride.

Here's where we stayed - the Arctic Adventure Hostel. At less then $50 a night for a room for two, this was a great deal compared to other options in Anchorage. True, the bathroom was shared, but I'll tell you I've stayed at a lot of hostels and I had absolutely no complaints about this one. The people who ran it were super friendly, and even offered us some bear spray and fuel for our camp stove that other guests had left behind.

Meet Dave. Dave is a buddy who travelled with us on this trip. (There were 5 total, plus my family joined us later for the cruise.) You see that shirt Dave is wearing? Can you make out what it says? Let me tell you - Snow City Cafe. Seriously, best. breakfast. ever. If you are ever in Anchorage, please please go there for breakfast. Then take pictures so I can drool all over my keyboard in envy. Or maybe not.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Alaska has always held a special appeal for me. When I was younger it seemed to be a land of mystery, a land of adventure. Anything could happen there; it was so far away, you could be anyone you wanted. My best friend and I even made up secret identities who were always getting into mischief together in Alaska. Maybe it something about the fact that it's not connected to the rest of the United States. Or maybe it's all that snow that fascinated a Florida girl, born and raised.
To say that it was breathtaking, is in a word, cliche. But also so true. It was just so... vast. Denali National Park was incredible. Wildlife (bears, eek!) spotting was fun, though the numbers certainly didn't compare to Yellowstone. But the expanse, the emptiness... the land was untouched, the way you imagine this world was supposed to be.

We had the chance to go flightseeing, to see areas of this earth that no man has walked on. to see paths carved out by glaciers that were so perfect, so pristine. Glaciers that may not even exist 30 years from now.
And the other adventures - hiking, kayaking, fishing, glacier trekking... There was so much to do. We were completely exhausted by the end of the trip but it was worth it!
Then of course, we took a cruise. It was nice to have a little bit of relaxing at the end. To be a little pampered with the fancy dinners and room stewards who cleaned your room not once but twice a day!
We loved it all. We already have a list of things we want to see and do the next time we get a chance to go. I do believe our next trip won't include a cruise though. There is just too much to see in Alaska to spend so much time sitting around a pool on a boat. Alaska is about being outdoors. It's about pushing yourself to try things you couldn't at home, about enjoying the undending beauty. It's a land of mystery and adventure.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles


whew. I have been a travelling fool for the past month. First, we took a trip to Alaska for a glorious 18 days, which was awesome by the way, and I will hopefully be blogging quite a bit about it soon. Next, I went to Denver for work 2 weeks in a row. This is the first week that I will actually be at home all week in over a month. Man, I'm exhausted just thinking about it again. I mean, I love Denver and all, but 2 quick work trips with barely any breathing time in between? It's not all that.

But, a few good things did come out of these couple work trips. First, for the first time in my life, I am now actually a Premier flyer on United. What does that mean, exactly? Well for one, I can sit in the "Economy Plus" section of the plane - basically in the front, with a few more inches of leg room. So for someone short like me, it doesn't really make a big difference, except that I feel so much more special sitting there hehe. I can also check a bag for free, although when travelling for work that fee would get reimbursed anyway. So really, there's not much change, but somehow I feel like my life is more complete now. Or something like that. Maybe I have a problem...

Second, this last trip earned me enough miles to get a free ticket. That is a pretty self explanatory yay! Our goal is to use that to fly Darren out to CA in December when I am out there for (you guessed it) work. Unfortunately it is so hard to plan ahead because the launch could get delayed by a few days, or even months, you just never know. But still, free flights always make me happy :)


Yeah I don't really have anything to say about trains. My husband has an unhealthy obsession with them. That's about it.


My car was acting up recently. I don't know how to say it other than while driving, I would randomly loose the power to accelerate. The engine would still be on, but it was like the car was in idle, and would just coast along, no matter how hard I pushed on the gas pedal. So I'd pull over, turn the car off, turn it back on, and everything was fine in the world again, until of course it decided to do a repeat performance every few miles down the road.

But this was my 2006 Toyota! not my cringe-inducing Saturn (*worst car ever*). I was distraught, to say the least. But what I discovered is that having car problems is not nearly as bad when you are married. Especially when your husband works at the same place as you. There's no more worrying about getting rides everywhere. No more worrying about how long it will be in the shop. I was fully prepared to drop it off for a week or more, cause you know, I kinda like having Darren drive me around everywhere. :)

So I dropped it off at the dealership Sunday afternoon, a little nervous about the cost. I got a call about an hour later saying they had found the problem, and I could come pick it up. errm, what? What about fixing it, how much is this going to cost me? Do I need to put back all these nice plants I have in my cart because I'm now broke due to car repairs? No! apparently it was just a computer problem that is covered under my warranty! What, I have a warranty? Um, I mean of course I do. (I had no idea, really. I bought the car used, after all.)

So now my car is fixed and my bank account is completely unaffected! Except, of course, for all the lovely plants we bought for the front yard. once we get the mulch in i'll take some pictures!

Friday, July 31, 2009


I've never been a sporty girl. I was in the marching band, not on the soccer team. I was in the girl scouts, not playing softball. And so on. So I feel a little behind when it comes to playing even casual games with friends. I usually suck, which is where everyone starts out, right? But most other people have gotten past the sucking stage by this point in life. It's very discouraging.

Darren and some of his coworkers having started playing tennis after work once a week. He's been telling me every week that I should give it a try, so I finally decided why not? First, I needed a tennis racket. We went to Walmart, and he was trying to tell me all about how to pick one that was the right size for me and everything else. But I saw this and I decided based purely on the fact that it was pink and "cute" that this was my new tennis racket. What can I say, sometimes cuteness is more important than random facts that I don't understand. :)

Playing was actually pretty fun. I did suck. Definitely sucked. But that was ok. I had the most fun when we were just hitting it around, practicing, with no real rules. But playing an actual game was ok too, although it seems like 90% of the time that I hit the ball it went out of bounds. But I had some good moments, too, and that might be enough to get me back again next time. It was definitely a good workout - lots of quick sprints back and forth on the court, but time to relax in between too, especially since we were playing doubles. I think I'll take this over going to the gym, even if I am terrible at it. I can only get better, right?

Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm not the only reader in the house

I caught it on film (can you really say that if it's digital?) My husband, reading. Isn't he cute? Really he's just reading the guide book for Alaska, trying to make some plans for our trip, but he's still cute. (We really need to change the color on the walls, stat.)

Below: I'm learning what "aperture" means. Definitely having fun with it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dinner a la francaise

I am a recipe googler. I have a cabinet full of cookbooks, but 95% of the time I pull out the laptop to find my next menu. I think it has to do with finding multiple versions of the same thing and tweaking them to what sounds good to me. Or maybe I'm just the byproduct of a generation that doesn't know what the printed word actually looks likes and can only function with a mouse and keyboard. (Naw, can't be that... right?) Anyway, what's a girl to do when she has to cook dinner for a large group of peolpe and the internet has been down for several days??

Pull out the cookbook, I suppose. *gasp* I decided to find my meal in the pages of one of the first cookbooks I ever owned - Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten. Really, I shoud do this more often, because the food was sooo good. But who am I kidding, with so many excellent recipe sites and food blogs at my fingertips, I could never give that up completely.

Dinner was Croque Monsieur sandwiches - a true french staple, basically a fancy grilled cheese. (put an egg on top and it's called a Croque Madame.) Sides were a potato gratin (the recipe was for zuchinni, but I had to make some changes, right?) and haricots verts (green beans). The real star of this meal was the Gruyere cheese. It has a real rich yummy flavor and really takes me back to my summer in Provence. The family I lived with used this cheese all the time. It's kind of expensive; I've found (at Publix at least) that getting it from the deli counter is cheaper than buying it from the fancy cheese case. I just had them cut of a half pound chunk rather than slicing it, and then I grated it at home. I also only used about half the gruyere the recipe called for, 1. because that's all I could afford, and 2. because it does have such a powerful flavor. I substitued mozzarella for the other half of the cheese only because I happened to already have some at home.

Croque Monsieur


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups) (I substituted mozzarella for half the gruyere)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread
Dijon mustard 8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Zucchini (Potato) Gratin
(I made mine with potatoes, but I'm including Ina's original recipe with my changes.)


6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for topping
1 pound yellow onions, cut in 1/2 and sliced (3 large)
2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (4 zucchini) (substitute 2 pounds potatoes)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Gruyere (again, I substituted mozzarella for half the cheese)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

(First, I boiled the whole potatoes for approzimately 20 minutes, then sliced them.)

Melt the butter in a very large (12-inch) saute pan and cook the onions over low heat for 20 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Add the zucchini (potatoes) and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the hot milk and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until it makes a sauce. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 10-inch baking dish.

Combine the bread crumbs and Gruyere and sprinkle on top of the zucchini mixture. Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter cut into small bits and bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned.

Haricots Verts (French String Beans)


1 pound French string beans, both ends removed
Kosher salt
1 red onion, large-diced
1/2 red pepper, large-diced
1/2 yellow pepper, large-diced
Good olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for just 4 minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When they are cool, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl toss the onion and bell peppers together with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, tossing with a spatula from time to time to be sure the vegetables roast evenly.

Just before serving, reheat the string beans in a large saute pan drizzled with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange on a platter. Spoon the roasted vegetables over the string beans and serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

50 Books

I love to read. Loooooove it. When I was a kid I read all the time, sometimes I'd even get into trouble for reading too much. As I got older, I got busier, and the reading slowed down. By the time I got to college, I pretty much had to eliminate reading for fun. Mostly because when I get hooked on a book, I won't do anything else until I'm done. This proved to be not very compatible with my classload. Now, I'm not in school anymore, I have a little more free time on my hands, and I'm rediscovering my love for books.

One of my 101 in 1001 goals is to read 50 books in that time. I have no idea if this is a reasonable goal, if it will be really easy, or unattainable. But it sounded like a good fun number, so there ya go! I will keep track of everything I have read since June 11, 09 here.

1. Taking Lottie Home by Terry Kay
2. High Five by Janet Evanovich
3. Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
4. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
5. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
6. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
7. The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
8. Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Friday, July 10, 2009

101 in 1001

I've seen this idea floating around for a while now: 101 Things to do in 1001 Days. About a month ago, during a boring day-long meeting with no internet access, I decided to make my own list. And put in a decent effort at completing it. Some of the goals are a little silly, some quite serious. There are 1 or 2 that you might even say I have no control over. A few have random durations assigned to them, not because that's all I want to accomplish, but rather to define a measurable goal that can lead to habit changes.

The list was started on June 11, 2009, so I'm going to count that as my starting point. A few items have been tweaked since then, and I reserve the right to do a little more tweaking in the future. It's my list so I can do whatever I want :) Anyway, my 1001 days end March 8, 2012.

First, some basic info about the idea, then my list.

The Mission:Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days? Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Finished (2 of 101)
In Progress
Not started

1. Create a website for spachulas
2. Be hired for an event by someone we don’t know
3. Create a wedding album
4. Renovate the bathrooms
5. ‘finish’ unpacking
6. Go to Africa
7. Start volunteering somewhere
8. Read a nonfiction historical book
9. Eat dinner at home every day for 2 weeks
10. Tell my grandparents I love them
11. Write a letter and mail it each month. (0 of 33)
12. Weigh less than my husband
13. Finish crocheting my blanket
14. Knit gifts for everyone at Christmas
15. Learn to knit in the round
16. Learn how to shoot in manual mode on my camera
17. Take a romantic weekend trip with my husband
18. Repaint the living room
19. Make a lease for our renters
20. Run in another 5k
21. Sign up for a class at a community college
22. Take a bubble bath with wine
23. Go on a backpacking trip
24. Move the piano to our house
25. Go to church every weekend in a month
26. Plant a garden
27. Make salsa solely from the garden
28. Start TTC, or at least have a plan
29. Relearn Rachmaninoff
30. Get a business license
31. Get employee of the month
32. Finish the FAS model project
33. Lead an ERB
34. Buy a suit
35. Learn 5 new crock pot recipes
36. Go on a 20 mile bike ride
37. Track food in sparkpeople for 1 month
38. Finish a new cross stitch
39. Go on a US vacation each year
40. Go swimming in the ocean
41. Buy disability insurance
42. Sneak into a movie
43. Read 50 books (8 of 50)
44. Blog more regularly – 50 new posts (4 of 50)
45. Write a comment to every friend on facebook
46. Apply for something
47. Have a board game night
48. Host a mystery dinner
49. Help someone else move
50. Give away something that I could’ve sold
51. Get my car windows tinted
52. Learn to make a roux
53. Use coupons every week for a month
54. Pick 5 charities to donate to each year
55. Sing in the shower
56. Make my own cheese fries
57. Go to the gym twice a week for 2 months
58. Take a walk in the rain
59. Build a snowman
60. Hike on a glacier
61. Pray in 15 different churches
62. Read 5 books of the bible
63. Reassess the market and selling my house
64. Whiten my teeth
65. Visit 2 friends out of state
66. Go to the everglades
67. Go to lakeridge winery
68. Sing Christmas carols
69. Get money back for Portugal tiles
70. Take new pictures in my wedding dress
71. Learn to sew
72. Make a scrapbook from old pictures
73. Learn 5 ways to cook fish
74. Try 5 new restaurants around our house
75. Blow up and frame wedding photos
76. Watch my husband’s top 5 favorite movies
77. Take my brother to the movies
78. Go on vacation with in-laws
79. Make cookies from scratch
80. Take a road trip
81. Get up early to go garage sale-ing
82. Have matching aprons made
83. Assemble 24 cookbook
84. Teach Penny to use litter box in garage
85. Make cute baby gift for friend’s new baby
86. Go to a UF football game
87. Renovate the florida room
88. Get 6 new stamps in my passport
89. Get 2 more astronaut signatures (1 of 2)
90. Try 5 foods I’ve never tried before
91. Listen to a book on tape
92. Go 2 weeks without tv
93. Spend a whole day in pj’s watching tv
94. Develop a mail filing system
95. Treat our parents to dinner
96. Go one month without fried food
97. Go one month without alcohol
98. Create a will
99. Hike 100 miles
100. Create a family budget
101. Write a new 101 in 1001 list

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I bought a plane ticket today

And then I cancelled it. And then I bought another one. Super exciting story huh? I've been trying to get up to Baltimore one weekend this month and the flights keep changing on me. One minute there will be nothing available, then the next everything is on sale, then by the time I go to buy it it's not there anymore. sooooo frustrating!

So this morning I stupidly just bought the first thing that looked decent, without checking the other airlines first. Luckily, it was with southwest so it was easy to cancel. Props to Southwest for having a friendly cancellation policy.

I bought my new ticket on airtran. In addition to the better price and better flight times, I had recently seen this promotion which gives you $25 off any flight to or from Florida. Check it out if you're looking for something like that.

Why am I going to Baltimore you ask? To visit my friend Laura of course, who currently has a little peanut growing in her belly. I am so super excited for her!!! woohoo for new babies :) Here's a picture of her helping me set up for the wedding.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Coca Cola, oh how I love thee...
There is nothing I love more about my mornings than the soft pop of a new can being opened, and that beautiful cool refreshing first sip. mmm......

not pepsi, not diet coke, none of those imposters.

But, I think I'm going to give it up, at least for a little while. I know, this is like the terror of terrors. But I have plans, big plans, like this:

We will be camping and hiking in the beautiful Alaksa wilderness for several days. And I won't have access to any of my precious cokes. I'm terrified of withdrawal, of the headaches that I know will come. But as much as it sucks to go through that, I don't want to go through that while I'm here:

I have no idea how I'm going to do this. I have no idea if I even can do this. But I'm going to try. Wish me luck.

Friday, May 1, 2009

i had an ultrasound

just my doctor checking on things, no i'm not pregnant.

yeah they told me to drink 32oz of fluid before i got there. yeeeeahhhh... they ended up making me drink about 90 oz of water in about 40 minutes. it was seriously the most uncomfortable thing i've ever been through. and then throughout the ultrasound they are pressing on your bladder. argh. i was seriously in tears by the end of this. acording to the tech, who really didn't want to tell me anything, there's nothing wrong. i'll find out the rest next week.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

i just don't get it...

marriage takes a lot of work. marriage is tough. marriage requires compromise. all things i heard and knew before actually entering into it. but really, i dont think i had any clue what those meant. and i'm sure i'm only just hitting the tip of the iceberg. we've been married for 3 months. and we are learning and adjusting everyday.

but i swear there is one thing about darren that i just dont understand and i dont know if i'll ever get it. he is the kind of guy who if he's said it once, it doesn't need to be said again. ever. like, for example, "you're beautiful". or even "i love you". seriously, you think since you've told me you love me once you never have to tell me again? ever? really? i cannot for the life of me wrap my head around that one. are we really supposed to go for the rest of our lives without telling each other, without hearing from the other, that we love them?

obviously there's more to loving someone than just saying the words. but if i'm going to live with you for the rest of my life, you'd darn well better plan on saying those words.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

No it is not it is a space shuttle

I remember back when I first started working, I couldn't get over how cool it was to travel for work. I mean, they pay for my airfare, they put me up in a fancy hotel, they give me a rental car, and then they even give me money for food. what could be better, right? Well I think I am finally reaching the point where I am getting tired of it like everyone else in my office. In the past month I have been to Denver twice, Atlanta, and El Paso. And I just found out I'm going to CA next week. I am so sick of planes. My body aches a little even thinking about sitting on that flight. I miss homecooked food. I miss spending time with my husband and friends.

The one bright side is the reason I am going. Most work trips are for incredibly boring meetings. This one will also involve some snooze-inducing meetings, but the primary purpose is to work our next launch. Which is cool. It's one of the few things I actually like about this job.

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