Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
One thing I didn't realize about this particular book is that the word "Express" in the title means just that - recipes you can put together relatively quickly without a lot of effort. Or as I'm coming to realize, without a lot of actual cooking. And while this has been very convenient to being able to keep up with the challenge, it's not exactly what I had in mind.
On the other hand, after making only a few of the recipes, we have been introduced to many new ingredients and I'm discovering new and curious things in our grocery store. I've not been able to find all of the ingredients but surprisingly more than I anticipate every time I head out with grocery list in hand. I've had to improvise a few times but nothing that alters the recipe beyond recognition. I have modified the ingredients when I can to make them more healthy by using fat free, skim, low-salt versions when available.
So all of that being said, here are the reviews of the recipes we tried this week.
Quick chili. I was very skeptical about this recipe. Very. My regular chili recipe rocks. The ingredients for this one were strange, including a jar of prepared tomato sauce, chunky style. To our surprise, this turned out pretty good. It was very meaty, not too spicy (a requirement if the kids are going to eat it) and it had a nice mix of flavors. However, this is not a recipe that is going to make it into our regular meal rotation simply because it's not as good as my own recipe.
My analysis after the first three weeks is that the recipes are solid but not very exciting and involve very little actual cooking. I'm going to stick with it because my Type A personality would go into convulsions if I tried to abandon it but next year, I will investigate the cookbook a little more thoroughly. I've made up for it so far by picking some different recipes from various places on the web and throwing them into the mix during the week thereby at least pretending I know how to cook. Stay tuned for next week's installment.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
So let's talk about the incredible human eating machine that is my daughter. She's a tiny thing that one. At least she always has been until we discovered last week that she's grown over six inches in the last six months. And this morning she ate her weight in pancakes and scrambled eggs. After she went through the line, I'll bet the Lions were sad that they offer "All you care to eat" at the annual pancake breakfast. And then she asked me for a snack in the car on the way home. Apparently we'll be using our tax rebate to feed Grace.
And we're spending the rest of the day at the mall for Charlie's District Pinewood Derby races. The only thing that is better than spending the day at the mall is the realization that we'll probably have to eat dinner at the Chuck E Cheese that is inside of the mall. Come on, admit it. You know you're jealous.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I've used the photomerge/panorama program with my HP scanner for several years. It works beautifully. What it does not do is work with Microsoft Vista and as "Raymond" from HP so kindly informed me, I am SOL with that program. That leaves photoshop as the only option for stitching layouts and while I understand the basics (open the files, hit the photomerge button) I am completely lost after that. Why is there that weird shadow effect in the middle that looks like it is folded in half?
Another issue is that the new screen distorts everything and makes it look wide and squished. It makes it very hard to evaluate photos/layouts/pretty much anything and have any idea how it really looks. The best option would be to switch screens between the 2 computers but the new screen doesn't seem to work on the old computer.
Other minor (ha!) issues are that Microsoft "Easy Transfer" created to transfer files and programs between computers doesn't work on this system at all and Microsoft, Dell and the USB cable people all say it's someone else's fault. And for some reason, Vista isn't recognizing some of my jpeg files and they changed Windows Explorer so much that I can't even begin to figure out why it can't read the files that are on my photo cd's.
So, as you can imagine, I have been having fits this week (and yes, there has been some crying and some cursing) as I try to figure out ways to get around all of these issues and get a system that works nominally as well as the old system. Here is another PSA: Stay far, far away from Microsoft Vista.
Is that enough whining for the day? It feels like it! I'll be back with a normal update soon!
Monday, January 14, 2008
Grace is watching Ratatouille and it's making me hungry. Weight Watchers is fantastic as long as I don't think about how much of a food snob I am and how much I love to eat really good food. But I'm going to have shed a bag of sugar at the end of this first week and that's better than gorgonzola. Sure it is.
We had a fun weekend. Justin and I went to see Second City courtesy of my friend Jen who works for the theater and got us half-price tickets. And then he picked a pan-Asian fusion restaurant for his birthday dinner. Yesterday he and Charlie cut out and sanded Charlie's pinewood derby car - it looks incredible! For awhile, Charlie thought he'd end up with a triangle car but darned if those boys didn't create a recognizable Firebird.
It's snowing steadily and Justin is going to the hockey game tonight so after the computer arrives, I think our game plan will be to build a fire and play board games on the floor. Grace only has a week and a half of winter vacation left so we need to take advantage of it!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Tonight was the first night of the cook through Nigella Express challenge. We have to cook about 4 recipes per week and I made two tonight... Mirin glazed salmon and moonblush tomatoes. I put a picture on the photoblog. Having already confessed that I don't eat seafood, it probably is no surprise that the salmon was not my favorite meal ever. The sauce was delicious. It just would have been more delicious over a chicken breast. And I failed to read the tomato recipe ahead of time that indicated the tomatoes had to sit in the oven overnight. They were okay and I will definitely make that recipe again the proper way as it was fast and has only 2 Weight Watchers points.
So through a combination of factors, I only got about 2 hours of sleep last night. Justin took pity on me and took the kids to a basketball game at the highschool tonight. He suggested I might have a party but it's an early bed-time kind of a night. Just as soon as I finish this very strange glass of chocolate wine that my brother sent me for Christmas. Public Service Announcement: Chocolate wine tastes as weird as it sounds.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Did you know Barack Obama doesn't put his hand over his heart when he sings the National Anthem? Yeah. So apparently, we shouldn't vote for him. Except that having heard and seen the National Anthem about 372,459 times, I don't remember ever seeing anyone around here put their hands over their heart either. Not that I've decided that I will vote for Barack. Just that I don't think anyone should decide NOT to vote for him because of some silly, misleading e-mail that's being forwarded by the right.
Day 4 of Weight Watchers and going strong. My scale wasn't working for the first two days (it regularly gets soaked when the kids take a splashy bath and then has to dry out) so I don't know what I started at. It's probably better that way. When I finally weighed in yesterday, I only weighed 3 pounds more than when I started Weight Watchers in the first place 3 years ago. It could have been a lot worse.
I have to be in court all day tomorrow. I don't really know what else to say about that. The lighting in the courthouse gives me a migraine (every.single.time.) so that's something to look forward to. Resolution. That's also something. I've been mulling over lots of things about my job and the legal system lately. My dad says if I quit, I can't complain about the system not working anymore. I do love to complain. I wonder how many people really have a job they love. Probably not that many. So maybe I should stop whining about my job.
So far, so good on the other resolutions too. I've caught myself a few times with the "not right now" or saying no to a book but I always amend to explain specifically when I will follow through and I've done it. And the no computer in the morning got drastically easier after the second day. It must be like giving up cigarettes.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
And I maintain that John McCain is going to walk away with the Republican nomination.
By the way. My name is Sarah and I'm a political junkie. I've hidden that side very well ere now, eh?
Monday, January 7, 2008
So today was day 1 of no computer in the morning. Pretty painless. Probably going to be the most difficult resolution to keep because I do love to catch up on everything that happened overnight. But instead of computer time, I read a book to the kids, did a load of laundry, took out the garbage and the getting ready for school routine was much smoother than usual. So I know this is an important one to keep.
And then it was time to hit the grocery store. Since we are cooking through Nigella's cookbook AND I am starting Weight Watchers again, this was bound to be an expensive trip. It was painful. Even more painful when we got home because I discovered...
as I suspected when switching loads the first time this morning, our washing machine is not working. It does not seem to spin. Which is just what I want to hear 3 days after buying both a new computer and last minute plane tickets for a last minute girls' getaway. (More on that later.) Hopefully my handy husband will be able to figure it out. Why oh why do appliances not seem to last more than 5 years anymore?
I have lots of scrapbook stuff to upload and I'm impatient for the new computer to get here so I can do that. Until then, we'll have to pretend that the all black and white visual from the text is very appealing to the eye.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Thursday, January 3, 2008
So you just might see the Christmas journal next week. Or February. We procrastinate a lot around here.
Are you paying attention to the Iowa caucuses tonight? We are pulling for Edwards. Actually, Justin wants a candidate that pulls together characteristics of Biden, Edwards, Kucinich and Ron Paul. That would be one weird looking man. But mostly, we are pulling for Edwards and I think if he does well tonight, he has a good chance of getting the nod. And for the Republicans, selfishly, I hope Huckabee runs away with it. Because that would make for a really fun fall election - Huckabee and Ed Rollins arguing with each other and insulting people all the way to November. But I think it will be McCain - not tonight, but as the nominee.
Do you think I could have a career as a prognosticator?
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
- Read to them every time they ask.
- Deduct $1 from the scrapbook budget everytime I say "not right now." (And no Justin, that doesn't apply to you nor do you receive the money!)
- Maintain a 3 day/week running schedule
- Write something every day. Write something every day. Write something every day.
- Re-start Weight Watchers tomorrow. Stick with it.
- No computer in the morning before school. Period.
I also started a new photo blog and you can check it out here:
http://livefromthemonkeyhousephotos.blogspot.com/. If I don't keep up with it, nag me, okay?
This first day of the new year was a little bit off balance. No one (read dogs, kids) slept in after staying up until midnight. So the kids were very cranky/whiny/cranky/whiny. Which means mommy was a little cranky/whiny. But I finished re-organizing my scrap space and I have to say I'm thrilled with it. Thrilled to finally have everything sorted and a place for everything and well, just to have such a happy, colorful place to call my own.
Justin also got on a roll with the organizing and cleaning and got all of the outdoor Christmas decorations down and put away. Then, because he donated his large shelf to my scrap space, he cleaned his wine-making room while the kids and I went to the New Year's pork and saurkraut dinner.
The kids are already in bed and Justin is going to sit in his car and watch a movie on ipod while smoking a cigar (another thing that makes mommy cranky and whiny) while I scrapbook a little bit and then we are going to snuggle up together and watch Zodiac as we say goodbye to the holiday vacation. All in all, a pretty pleasant, typical day to begin the new year. Tomorrow, it's back to the real world!