Monday, October 31, 2011

Craft Room redo

My craft room is always in some state of mess.  Remember way back in 2008 when I blogged about trying to clean the room up a bit?  That was about a year after I condensed much of my pre-wedding apartment into this 120 (or so) square feet.  About a year later, I turned a partly broken laptop into a desktop on my desk, moved a small printer cart in next to the file cabinet and added a four drawer chest to that wall as well (to hold gift bags and tissue paper).  My mom came up and helped me sort through all of those copy paper boxes, and those boxes left over were moved into the closet. Over the last couple of years, I've continued to periodically clean and organize the room, but it is much more frequently a catch-all for anything craft/hobby/work-related.  I think (hope) that is about to change.

Also a couple years ago (in October 2008), I first spied a daybed at Duncan Tavern, the Kentucky DAR headquarters.  You can see part of it in this post about Miss Molly (on the far right of the picture).  Earlier that year, when I'd been working on my craft room (see post referenced above), I decided that I needed a daybed in the room.  The ideal space I identified, though, was too narrow for a traditional twin sized daybed.  On the day we delivered Miss Molly to her new home, I thought to myself that this particular daybed might work--if only it wasn't locked away in a museum!

Fast forward to last month.  An email went out about an auction at Duncan Tavern.  Several items that did not fit the period represented had been deaccessioned and would be auctioned.  "My" daybed was on the list.  Squee!  On Friday, mom and I attended the auction.  I'd ignored the cardinal rule of auctions (discuss how much you can spend with spouse), and I was worried.  I've been discussing our tight budget, and despite my immense love for the daybed, I wasn't willing to spend too much on the dream.  I set my limit in my mind and prepped myself for disappointment.  Which happened about an hour later when the daybed sold for $50 over my limit (and $25 over my highest bid...yeah, you did that math right!).  Then, in desperation, I decided that maybe I could spend more.  I quickly texted J and asked for approval on the higher number.  Then, I went in search of the winner.  I guess I got lucky, as she was having a moment of buyers remorse (she ignored the cardinal rule of auctions, too) and feeling sympathetic toward me.  In fact, we were able to swap out the paperwork, tear up her check, and submit a new one from me for just $5 more than her winning bid.  Success!!

The only problems?  One, getting it home (I've still not settled that question yet), and Two, where to put it.  Now, I knew where I wanted to put the daybed, but I also knew that the space in mind was full of craft-room junk.  Mom and I spent a couple hours Sunday afternoon working on the craft room.  We made considerably progress, and I expect we'll wrap it up today.  Once the daybed arrives, I'll take pictures so you can see it!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Smells Like . . . Salvaged Black Bean and Corn Soup

Hello all. J here. Your normal author is off DARing (that's a technical term used by HODARs for getting together with other DAR ladies to . . . do whatever they do when they get together), so I thought I'd pick up an oar and give JE a break. It being a Saturday Smells Like with JE gone, it's pretty easy for me. Step one, wait to get hungry. Fortunately for the specifically-motivated among us, this occurs naturally. Step two, turn off the PS3/TV/Magic online (When JE's gone, it's a frightening view into how much narrower my life would be without her. If I were a superhero, my superhero name would be "Inertia." So, step 2.5, thank god yet again for my wife.). Step 3 figure out what to stuff in my piehole, preferably after subjecting it to some method that makes it: (a) edible; and (b) tasty. Step 4, take pictures. Step 5, blather on in a smarmy, sarcastic tone so that when someone reads it, if he or she has met me, she or he will hear my voice in his or her head (Admit it, it's happening right now!). Step 6, hit the post button.

Today, we apply these time tested steps to this morning's hunger in the form of Salvaged Black Bean and Corn Soup (And for those that know my recent culinary exploits, yes, this is another take on tortilla soup that I've cunningly named "Black Bean and Corn Soup" to disguise the fact that it's another take on tortilla soup. Yes, it's a rut. I like tortilla soup. After I get it right a few times, I might get out of it. Or not.)

The interesting part of the recipe is the "Salvaged" part. You see, last night, I performed the same steps as today, but without all the interwebz parts (a process I call "feeding myself"). I recently had some sweet chili shrimp at one of the best sushi places in Lexington (Seki), and last night, I decided to try my hand at a version of it. This idea came from having shrimp, chili sauce and stupidity on hand.

Yeah. It didn't work out so well. You see, while I stand by the "Melton corollary" (for those unaware, "Rule 1. If at first you don't succeed, apply more force. Rule 2. If you still don't succeed, see Rule 1.") both in direct and analogous applications, there are instances in which more subtlety is required. And this can be most evident in my cooking with spicy flavors.

You see, my problem with the Seki version was that the chili sauce was too sweet, without any heat. I was jonesing for a sweet/hot fusion that tantalized my taste buds by confusing them against a backdrop of buttery shrimp. I bet you can see where this is going.


Yeah. Zeppelin wouldn't eat it. My culinary failure bridged species.

So, I had a good deal of the "sauce" (I use quotes to indicate that a mixture of the devil's tears with a touch of the sun's essence can only loosely be considered a sauce rather than the next level weapon of choice for the Oakland police against protesters) left over. And some black beans. And some corn soup base. And some cream . . . . make that a lot of cream.

So I put it all together, did some other magic, and created this actually edible food:

My verdict: GOOD. With that, here's hoping that you take the remnants of your failures, and, to paraphrase Henry Ford, begin again, more intelligently, with success.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Totally Flaky Friday

So I mentioned yesterday that I was embarking on a weekend in DARworld, and I fully expect to forget a post at some point this weekend.  Quite frankly, I'm sort of surprised I remembered this one... :)

Anyhow, physical fitness check for the week:  J continues to lose weight and look great.  He is now a lower weight than I was at two years ago.  And about twenty pounds heavier than I am now.  I've never been a small person.  Even when I am at a healthy (or, unhealthy as J might argue I was when we met) weight, I've still got a medium bone structure and broad shoulders.  I'm just not little.  And I don't care for little men.  Which means I have some work to do to be sure my husband doesn't overtake me in weight loss.  So.

Moving on to fiscal fitness, our grocery budget was rather annihilated this week.  Remember last week when I mentioned that grocery shopping with J kind of hurt the grocery budget?  Apparently, sending him grocery shopping on his own is even worse.  I'm not entirely sure how we did in terms of eating out (that's always a bad sign), but I know we ate out together a couple times, so I know that means we went over budget there, too.  On a positive note, we're still coming in at just over half our average food budget for the month, so I think we earned a 'free' week.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday--October 27

So for starters, I realized earlier that I wrote the title for yesterday's post with a specific story in mind, and then I completely forgot to share it (A little more of the flakiness I promised!).  Luckily for me, I can pretty easily work that into a thankful moment today!

So, to kick off this week's Thankful Thursday, I'm thankful for living in Kentucky, especially in the fall.  I mentioned that C is from Houston, and while she's been in Kentucky and other places with hills and mountains before, it just isn't a landscape she sees every day.  I am so glad that I was able to show her the hills of eastern Kentucky on a beautiful fall day, and there were definitely moments when she was struck silent just taking it all in (hence, the "Wordless Wonder" post title...yeah, it's still a stretch, isn't it?).

I'm thankful, too, for DAR mentors and advice-givers and friends.  Now, I'm getting ready to spend two-and-a-half days in DARworld, so I may not be thinking this particular thankful thought come Saturday morning (much less Saturday afternoon), but today at least, I am mindful of what a gift they are to me.

Finally, I'm so thankful for our health (or for being, as my dad says, on the right side of the dirt).  We've had a couple deaths in our parish this week, together with recent deaths in our extended family.  It's just a good reminder that life could be a lot tougher than it is, and that maybe I should be thankful for 'just' being busy.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless wonder

I mentioned last week that my friend C was visiting from Texas.  She'd planned to come in just for the weekend, but as it happened, the Hindman Settlement School Day at the Races was planned for Thursday at Keeneland.  As a long-time Hindman supporter, C re-worked her schedule so she could attend this fundraiser.  While we probably would have visited Keeneland while she was in town anyway (you can't visit Lexington in October or April and not visit), we most likely would not have visited in such style.  One of the perks of attending Hindman Day at Keeneland is the dining room with a view of the track.  This was a particularly nice perk on Thursday as it was cold (in the 50's) and rainy most of the day.  Anyhow, here is a picture of the two of us at Keeneland:

P.S.  My apologies for the lack of posting this week--between the company and the busy days at work catching up from a couple days off, I'm just behind all around.  With a DAR weekend coming up, I'm just going to warn you in advance to expect this flaky-ness to continue...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fiscal Friday Fitness Check

Right, so you can tell from the post title that there was no physical fitness involved in my week this week.  Since the last month so busy with regard to everything but our house, my response to a calmer work week and the impending arrival of company was to run around like crazy trying to clean the house.  (For what it's worth, I was only marginally successfull at that.) 

Fiscally, all was well until the company arrived.  The grocery budget was tight, but under control, and I'd only spent a third of my restaurant allowance.  But, a meal out when C. arrived, followed by bread pudding at Keeneland yesterday, followed by an expected meal out while we go to Hindman, Ky, today, means I've definitely gone over my $12 limit.   I think that company is a worthy exception, though.  Right?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday--October 20

I've had several moments of thankfulness this week that I thought I should jot down  Of course, being me, I didn't.  I so wish I had, as there were deifnitely some good ones!  Here's what I do remember:

I'm so thankful for DAR, and the sisterhood that it has opened up for me.  As I write this, I'm sitting next to my friend C, who flew in from Houston for the weekend.  If it weren't for DAR, I wouldn't know C, much less be friends with her.  Later, we're going out to Keeneland to support Hindman Settlement School, a program I've come to love as a result of the DAR.

I'm thankful, too, for a peaceful week at work.  The last few weeks were just so chaotic that I can truly appreciate the quiet calm of this week.

Finally, I am so thankful for the new class that J and I have signed up to take together.  EfM, or Education for Ministry, is a course offered by Suwanee through a mentor who comes to our church once a week for an evening class.  While I partly signed up for the class to strengthen my Bible background, I also signed up for it to have something to share with J.  Since we met after he'd finished with school, this is my first experience with being his classmate.  This is a great opportunity for growth for us as a couple, too.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flower Photos--October, Arrangement 2

Edit:  Finally, I put today's arrangement today, and finally I took a picture!

So first of all, it's been a busy week, and I completely forgot to write my post for yesterday.  It's one of those rare occasions I know exactly what I want to write about, so I'm actually surprised I forgot. 

Anyhow, I actually knew exactly what picture I wanted for today's post, as well, but I'm not actually picking up the flowers until this afternoon.  So, if you come back later today, you should see a lovely arrangement.  Or come by tomorrow and see it then.  Have a great day!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I've seen fire, and I've seen rain

So I mentioned in yesterday's post that J and I went out to the Athens Schoolhouse Antique Show on Saturday.  This is the same place where we found our "dining table" and our fireplace surround (which I mentioned buying in February 2009, but don't appear to have written a blog post about).  So anyhow, we went out to Athens without planning to buy anything in particular, but open to whatever might pop up.  What popped up, it turned out, were lots of umbrella stands!

Let me back up.  In the long-term MP plans (the ones that come after finishing our current projects and saving up to redo our kitchen, so clearly five or ten years down the road), J and I plan to annex our current coat closet for our kitchen.  I know what you're thinking--why would anyone take out a closet in an already closet-starved house?  Because the kitchen is also starving for storage space, and I'd love to have a built-in pantry.  And because, really, we don't wear ninety percent of the coats that we store in the closet, so it's obviously wasted space. Well then, you're thinking, what about the other ten percent of our coats?  To answer that question, you need to know a little about how our house is laid out.  To help, I've created a very rough sketch in MS Paint.  Now, this isn't to scale, and it is obviously missing a lot of information, but this will give you a pretty good idea what I'm talking about:

I've no idea if you can read the little writing in the middle, so basically the top drawing is "now" and the bottom drawing is "future".  The stairs to the second floor are in the center (left to right) of the house going up from the front of the house (bottom).  The closet in question faces the hallway between the kitchen and the living room.  We do not have a real entry because you walk in the front door right into the living room.  To get upstairs, you have to close the front door, step up once to a landing, then turn right and proceed up the stairs.  The landing is a pretty decent size and I have one of those decorator tables sitting in the corner with a lamp and a couple other things on it.  Way long term (probably before the kitchen but after all of the currently in-progress projects are done) I'm going to tear down the wall that separates the living room from the stairs. 

So my plan is to turn the landing into an entry area.  The decorator table will come out, and I'll put a coat rack on the wall to the left of the door (as you look at the picture above).  I've seen cool pictures where people screw antique doorknobs directly into the wall, but of course I can't find that now. Beneath the coats will be a tray for shoes/boots and an umbrella stand.  (Yay!, you're thinking, She finally worked this around to the antique show!

Yes, I decided to look for an umbrella stand.  We saw several copper or wood/copper stands that looked cool, but that weren't quite right.  The MP is pretty transitional in style, but our living room is very traditional and the overwhelmingly mission style stands just weren't clicking for me.  Besides that, these things are expensive!  (Who knew??)  Then, when we'd been through almost every booth at the show, J spotted it.

Here is what is so awesome about this stand:  first and foremost, the shape is perfect.  The lines of it completely mimic the lines of the mantel in the living room (see below).  The stand is 21 inches tall and about 7 inches across the main portion (the rim is about 9 inches across).

Second, this stand, unlike any of the others we saw Saturday, is brass.  We have a lots of brass/gold finishes in this room already, so this fits right in.  Finally, the price was right.  (Quite frankly, the price was right to start with, but I managed to negotiate it down a bit more.)  So we've got one piece of the entry finished.  I'll probably go ahead and work on that part of the project while we're saving up for the kitchen reno.  No sense in keeping the stand out of service!

Title:  In a throwback to our music lyrics titles, J suggested this one.  Can you guess why?  Anyhow, the song is Fire and Rain by James Taylor.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Peace and relaxation

Back in the old days, Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest.  When I worked a "normal" job (i.e., back in my GS days), it almost always was a restful day for us, too.  Unfortunately, my new job requires me to be "on" on Sundays, and my seasonal work at Williams-Sonoma requires that I be available one day on the weekend, so I've chosen Sundays since that day (during the holidays/football season) is the day of the weekend that J is less likely to notice I'm missing.  Today may be my last Sunday "off" (other than Sunday School/church this morning) until after Christmas, and since I managed to finagle a mostly empty Saturday, too, this weekend has turned into a wonderfully peaceful and relaxing time with J.  I am so thankful for that!  We actually had a brief dance party in the kitchen last night (to Ke$ probably don't want to ask...).  I'm not really the kind of person to just dance and have fun unless I'm pretty much at peace with my world.

Aside from visiting the Athens Schoolhouse Antique Show (by the way, I think I said something yeseterday about talking about that today; I meant Monday's blogpost, so come back--or scroll up--for that story!) and shopping and cooking, J and I also managed to watch a movie (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1) and I decorated the front porch area for fall.  (Funny side story:  I was driving through our neighborhood the other day thinking to myself how nice everyone's scarecrows looked.  Only then did it hit me that we have a scarecrow, too!  But where was he?  Oh yeah, in the shed out back...  Ooops.)  I rescued Julius from the shed and added a Halloween flag to the flagpole and fall wreath to the door.  Together with the pumpkins we got at Devine's last month, I think it makes a pretty nice arrangement.  I might sneak a mum home this week to put in the planter, but other than that, I think it is good until Halloween night, when I'll add the scary tree to the storm door.

Today, we've been hanging out on the couch watching football and doing laundry/generally just catching up on some things.  It has been pretty nice.  While I'm looking forward to the company coming in the next couple weeks, as well as the many long Sunday afternoons at the giftwrap desk ahead of me, I am also finding appreciation for the quiet moments on the couch.  It's nice to be able to be present in those moments.

Saturday smells like...Bacon...and Chili...and Pancakes...and Bread Pudding

Today was a fabulously relaxing day--just what I've been needing.  After sleeping in a bit, then running to church for a quick errand, J and I settled into creating a grocery list and planning the rest of our day.  We spent the early afternoon at the Athens Schoolhouse Antique Show (you'll read more about that tomorrow), then we ran to Lowe's, and then we headed to Aldi for some grocery shopping.  (Side story:  For the last three to four weeks, I've been the primary grocery shopper, and I think I can finally relate to women who don't take their husbands shopping.  I've been incredibly successful at shopping within budget without J, but found myself using up our entire budget of $50 for the week, plus $8 that was left over from last week!  To be fair, much of what we purchased was meat, and much of what we purchased will last us into next week, too.)

After we got home from Aldi, the cooking commenced.  I cannot even describe to you how yummy our house smells today!  October is J's month to prepare breakfast at church, and it isn't enough for him to pick up bagels and fruit.  Each week this month he has prepared an egg casserole or two, and today was no different (the egg casserole has to be prepped the day before cooking).  In addition to the egg casserole, though, he decided to make pancakes and bread pudding.  Here's a shot of him with the filled pancake pens after making his batter:

It helps if you say "Go!" with the first picture and "Pancake!" with second to get the full appreciation of what was happening here.  I'm not sure what led to the pancake cheer, but it looked pretty cute.  Oh, and that is dried thinset on his shirt from last year's bathroom reno, not flour or pancake batter.  The bread pudding was made using raisin bread that was left over from last week's breakfast, and I think it is going to be pretty delicious!

After he finished preparing everything for Sunday's church breakfast, J moved on to making chili for the week and later, supper for me.  The chili was tasty, but the sandwich was simply amazing!  I'm mentioned before that J is pretty awesome at taking a basic idea and making it gourmet, and this is one of those cases.  I asked for "grilled cheese".  I got a pan grilled sandwich with a little sea salt on the outside, filled with melted provolone, finely diced red onion, and (best part of all) lightly peppered bacon.  The entire thing was so incredibly savory and delicious!  Together with a bowl of chili, this was just an awesome fall supper.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Super finicky second friday

I'm all over the place today, so I hope you'll allow me to indulge in a little flakiness! 

First, I took Zep into the office with me yesterday.  I've been saying since I started that I was going to do this, but I've been a bit nervous about it.  You see, he can be a little grumpy sometimes.  And a little territorial.  And a little unkind to strangers (particularly the really young and really, um... past middle-age).  I finally picked yesterday as the day because we didn't have any meetings scheduled and I thought it was my best shot at letting him get acclimated in an unthreatening way.  Zep did great!  What was even cooler, though, is that I did great!  I was calmer and more productive than I've been in weeks.  Our priest (and our recently departed Bishop, who I suspect influenced our priest's thinking) really thinks that having an office dog increasea job satisfaction and productivity and encouraged me to bring him in again.  Zep certainly earned his return trip!

I'm calling today to 'order' my flowers for next week's arrangement.  I'll keep them a secret, in case I can't get them, but I'm thinking about an arrangement that you've seen here before.  I'm so excited about the prospect of fresh flowers all year, and thrilled at the idea of ordering ahead instead of just taking what I can find in the cooler.

After two weeks of sunshine it started raining again yesterday.  I have to confess, it just feels more like fall when there is a gentle rain falling outside.  I'm totally in the mood to nest and get crafty.  We'll see how that turns out!

Quick fitness check--between meeting friends for dinner and hitting the Food Show last weekend, we dealt some serious damage to our grocery/restaurant budget this week.  Luckily, we got back on the wagon and I think the damage won't go past this week.  That's a pretty impressive thing for us.  One more week before we hit four weeks, and I think one month of a new activity is the key to establishing a habit.  Here's to new habits!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday--October 13

Thanks for letting me take my break from thankfulness last week; I really needed it, and the reminders and encouragement I received gave me plenty to be thankful for!  This week, I've had many opportunities for thankfulness, too.

I'm thankful for nights out with good friends, like last night.  Back in the summer, one of the girls (Element) I went ziplining with mentioned she would be in town for a soccer game.  Eight of us met up for dinner with another former Girl Scout (though actually, she's a life member, so not really 'former'...), then went on to the game where we sat with Element's parents.  It was just such an awesome reminder of the really cool sisterhood that Girl Scouts creates. Oh, and Element's team won, so that was cool, too!

I'm thankful, too, for Williams-Sonoma, who welcomed me back today with open arms and a fresh roll of ribbon (okay, so not really on the ribbon part, but I did noticed that the gift wrap station is fully stocked!).  I so enjoyed the time I spent there during the holidays last year, and while the schedule will kind of mess with our holiday plans, I'm excited that we can maintain our budget and still have a nice Christmas.  (And again, they pay me to wrap presents.  How awesome is that?!?)

Finally, I'm thankful for J. I've been 'green' for a couple of weeks now, and I know that isn't the easiest thing for him to live with.  Luckily, I've also not been at home all that much, and I've been exhausted in the mornings and mostly still asleep, so the time he's had to spend with 'green JE' is pretty limited.  But I think he'd still prefer regular me, and I appreciate his patience and tolerance.

So what are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Flower Photos--October, Arrangement 1

So we generally try to stick to the 'recommended' anniversary gifts, usuallychoosing the traditional gift suggestions.  Sometimes we stretch it a bit (like the year J gave me a flags for the flagpole out front because nylon is fabric and cotton is fabric, so really he did cotton, right?  Or the year I gave him a brick at the new (then) Indianapolis Colts football stadium and then gave him a certificate telling him about it so I could count that I gave him paper), but this year we actually stuck to the recommendations.  I gave J a new tie (silk) and he gave me a gift card at my favorite wholesale florist good for fresh flowers (that I get to choose and arrange myself) every month, all year (flowers are also on the suggested list for four years).

For my first arrangement, I didn't even spend half my allotment for the month, and I'm really pleased with it.  Prepare to see an arragement or two popping up for Wordless Wednesday this year!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Good at being Green

I think I've talked before about the personality indicator that we took when I was at Girl Scouts.  Basically, it places you in one of four color groups for both your primary personality and your secondary personality behaviors--how you act when threatened or under stress.  I'm a yellow (a standard cheery, people pleaser) and, when stressed, a green (super detail-oriented, among other things). 

I've mentioned several times over the last couple of weeks that I've been kind of stressed (a lot of things going on at work, and most of them seem to flow through my office in one way or another.  I'm sort of ready to have a break from the busy-ness!).  Well, J commented last week that I was definitely in green mode, and he was totally right.  Something I noticed about myself a couple years ago is that I can pop in and out of green, but that when I'm in stress mode for several weeks (and thus, in green mode for a while) it takes a while for me to bounce of it. In fact, even when I'm not at work, I'm still green.  Take yesterday, for example.

It'd been probably two weeks since I'd had a day completely free of work in some way or another, and I was very excited about a day off.  I slept in until I woke up on my own, curled up in bed and watch Martha Stewart, generally just enjoyed a day to myself.  And I organized.  I sorted piles, I rearranged a kitchen cabinet, I cleaned out my nightstand.  I can assure you, those are not yellow traits.  I secretly love days like yesterday.  I'm generally not the most organized person, but I really love it when I am.  I love the whole idea of having a place for everything and having everything in its place, and on those rare occasions when a green JE happens upon a free day, I love the result.  And I kind of wish that happened more often.

Oh, and I ended up at chuch for a meeting Monday night, so the streak continues.  I have DAR at the end of the month, though, so this can't last forever. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Manic (lead in to) Monday

This weekend was almost as crazy as last weekend, but I'm still hoping that it's leading into a calmer week (not calm, mind you; I'm not crazy enough to think that!).  Friday night I helped set up for the ECW purse sale at church (if you're in Central KY, I urge you to bookmark this link and mark your calendar for next year!).  There were hundreds of purses there to be placed on tables that filled the parish hall.  I even found a gorgeous vintage wicker purse for $8.50!! 

Saturday, I got up and headed out for my monthly DAR meeting, where we had a wonderful speaker from the Dry Stone Conservancy.  These folks promote the preservation of Kentucky's trademark stone fences, and the speaker was just amazing! While I was at my meeting, J was busy around the MP, ensuring that I came home to a clean kitchen and (my favorite) a flag flying out front!  Our flagpole blew down during a storm last fall and it is so nice to have it back up!

After my meeting, I met J and a friend of his from high school for the third annual Incredible Food Show.  We've been every year, first to see Bobby Flay in 2009, then to see Giada DeLaurentis last year.  This year, the Voltaggio brothers were the featured chefs, and while they aren't "television chefs" and so had a very different demonstration, they gave a ton of useful cooking tips.  We really enjoyed them, but were a bit worried that the show seemed smaller this year.  We really hope it isn't going downhill already.  After the show, we met up with a couple J went to college with (the husband also knew the high school friend).

Sunday involved an early morning at work, followed by church, followed by an afternoon visit to to a pumpkin patch with half a dozen on our St. R children and their parents.  By the time I got home, I was exhausted, and I am definitely looking forward to a quiet Monday!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fitness Check: October 7

The whole TGIF (Thank God it's Friday) thing takes on less meaning when you don't work a Monday through Friday schedule, but I'm thankful it's Friday just the same.  It's been a long two weeks, and while next week will be a little harried, it won't be as bad as these last two.  I'm definitely on the downhill slide into Advent when (according to the church ladies) things will ramp up again!

This week's First Friday Fitness Check is mostly fiscal, but our fiscal fitness efforts are leading to a nice physical fitness bonus--keep reading for that!  Week two of of the $50 grocery budget and $25 combined restaurant budget went really well.  In fact, we only spent $35 on groceries this week, including "big ticket" items like milk and juice.  Of course, we're still working our way through all of the meat I bought last week, so we saved on that!  J made an awesome chicken tortilla soup on Saturday that has lasted us both really well. 

The only catch (for me, at least) is the McDonald's Monopoly Game.  I have a bit of an addiction to those little paper game pieces that come on (among other things) their medium Diet Coke.  I've easily spent half my restaurant budget at McDonald's this week, two thirds of that on Diet Cokes.  I've never won anything from those little pieces of paper, and likely won't this year either (but I'm half way to a million dollars!).  Last year, when I took the bus tour of the DAR Schools, I stood outside our bus after every McDonald's stop collecting pieces off the ladies' drink cups.  If a collection of game pieces culled from every McDonalds in the southeast United States can't win me anything, a collection of game pieces culled from every McDonalds in southeast Lexington isn't likely to win anything either.  I get that.  I also get that I've got a touch of OCD for making things neat and orderly and complete (you should see me with a fresh bag of M&M's) and that for one month out of the year, I can at least try to complete the McDonald's Monopoly Board. 

Now to reward you for that frightening foray into my head, I'll move on!  I mentioned an unintended physical fitness consequence of our fiscal fitness efforts--by reducing the amount of food I'm eating out, I've lost a few pounds in the last two weeks!  My portion sizes at home are always smaller than out (aren't everyone's?), and odds are I'm eating better stuff, too!  Even without exercise this week, I'm thrilled to see a little downward movement on the scale!

So how was your week?  Any luck eating less and moving more?  Are you as crazy about the Monopoly Game as I am?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday--October 6

I'm having a bit of a rough week, and it's a bit tougher than usual to be thankful.  I'll leave it to you (because I know you're out there, even if you don't comment!)--What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Single Barrel Goodness

Remember the other day when I told you about our weekend?  I held back on sharing pictures so I could use one for today's post.  This one, while easily the worst quality picture, is my favorite.  On our tour, we went through the bottling facility for Buffalo Trace's small batch and single barrel bourbons.  Here, they actually opened a barrel and emptied it in front of us.  So cool!  I think these barrels were filled in 1993. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chocolate Chip Chiffon, redux

Remember a couple weeks ago when I showed you a picture of a cake I made last year for a fellow parishoner at St. R?  In a funny turn, the parishoner's husband called me last Wednesday morning and asked if there was any possibility I could make a cake for her birthday this year (it was last Monday this year, and he thought she'd be extra suprised to receive a cake two days later).  If you did the math in my parenthetical there, it means I committed mid-morning to delivering a cake early-evening.  In the midst of my busiest week yet at this new job.  Crazy may come to mind...

Anyhow, this parishoner's mother made chiffon cakes for birthdays in her family.  She always had chocolate chip chiffon, and last year I tried my hand at one.  Well, I ended up with chocolate, chocolate chip, which was well-received but not quite right.  Of course, this year I tried to correct that, but my chocolate chips all settled to the bottom (which became the top and was covered with a chocolate glaze).  I guess we'll have to try again next year to try to get it right! 

Here is a picture of this year's attempt.  Luckily, it was still well-received!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekend Woundup

Sorry, I couldn't resist the Elmer Fudd reference.  I was considering "weekend wipeout" since that's how I feel after this weekend, but decided to go with Roundup (or rather, Woundup) instead.

J and I had an awfully busy week last week and that just rolled right into an even busier weekend.  After being at church Thursday night, we headed to Frankfort Friday night for a fundraiser at Buffalo Trace.  Buffalo Trace, if you don't know (how could you not know??) is a bourbon distillery.  They make a variety of Bourbons, like large batch Buffalo Trace to small batch or single barrel varieties like Blanton's or Eagle Rare.  We took a 'hard hat' tour of the distillery followed by a guided tasting and lesson.  It was tons of fun, and J and I had a great time!

Saturday I ran into work for a few hours to try and catch up.  Turns out more people drop by the church on Saturdays than during the week, so it wasn't quite as productive as I'd have liked.  That afternoon, J and I watched a movie and took a nap before heading out again for this month's game night.  The boys were victorious in our game of Cranium Turbo, but we girls put up a good fight and kept the game close!

We were back up early on Sunday morning as October is J's month to coordinate breakfast/coffee hour at church and I had more work to do before church.  I didn't actually make it to a service today, but did manage to catch communion 'on the fly' before heading out again to set up for our church Gala.  We held it at Equus Run Winery this evening, and I have to recommend them for their beauty and yummy wines!  I, of course, picked out cute shoes to wear.  That was a huge mistake as I spent most of the evening on my feet.   I'll be paying for that decision for a few days, at least!

So there you have it--our super busy weekend.  See why we're wiped out?  I'm hoping it will be a quiet day around the MP (or at least a quiet morning!).