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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

They say it's your BIRTHDAY!

Happy 60th Birthday
to my parents!!!


My mom's big day was earlier this month,
and my dad's is in a couple of days.

WE LOVE YOU!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Got Gas?

With the current price of a barrel of oil over $100, it's no wonder we can't afford to cruise down State Street on Saturday nights (thanks, Baird!). The cheapest we've seen gas around here is $3.22, but it was a lot higher a week ago. Visit Gas Buddy to find the lowest price gas near you.

I found this gem online today... "Price of Gas from Around the World". (As seen on Fabulously 40.)

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Oslo , Norway

$6.82

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Hong Kong

$6.25

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Brussels, Belgium

$6.16

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London, UK

$5.96

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Rome, Italy

$5.80

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Tokyo, Japan

$5.25

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Sao Paulo, Brazil

$4.42

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New Delhi, India

$3.71

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Sidney , Australia

$3.42

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Johannesburg, South Africa

$3.39

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Mexico City

$2.22

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Buenos Aires , Argentina

$2.09

You are going to love this…

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Riyadh , Saudi Arabia

$0.91

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Kuwait

$0.78

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Caracas , Venezuela

$0.12

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Sheridan, Arkansas

Who Cares? Not going anywhere.

What's for Easter Dinner?

Since Brian's leaving tomorrow for his trip 'o the week to Detroit, we're postponing our traditional Easter dinner of ham and funeral potatoes until he'll be here to help eat the leftovers.

On the menu tonight is one of our favorite standbys - Lemon-Honey Chicken, Smashed Potatoes (aka Aimee's mashed potatoes), and a veggie side, with a YUMMY dessert (at least it better be!). Recipes posted below...

CITRUS - HONEY CHICKEN

1 whole chicken (make sure it's not bigger than your crockpot!)

1 lemon

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
Dried rosemary

Remove giblet packets, and other gross parts from your chicken, rinsing it thoroughly inside and out. Pierce lemon with fork several time, and place inside chicken. Place chicken inside crockpot Combine honey and orange juice, stir until smooth. Stir in rosemary. Pour over chicken. Cover crockpot. Cook on LOW for 8 hours, basting chicken w/ juices towards the end of cooking time.
Chicken is done when limbs fall off body. Carve up and serve! Delicious!!

CHOCOLATE PASSION BOWL

Prep Time:
20 min
Total Time:
1 hr 20 min
Makes:
16 servings, about 2/3 cup each

3 cups cold milk
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) JELL-O Chocolate Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP French Vanilla Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
1 baked 9-inch square brownie layer, cooled, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5-1/2 cups)
1 pt. (2 cups) raspberries

Beat milk and dry pudding mixes in large bowl with wire whisk 2 min. or until blended. Gently stir in 1 cup of the whipped topping. Place half of the brownies in 2-qt. serving bowl; top with layers of half each of the pudding mixture, remaining whipped topping and raspberries. Repeat all layers. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

UPDATE: I'm happy to report... dessert was DIVINE!

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Scotch Tape Flower Frog

I saw this today at AT:Chicago and thought it was ingenious!

With this Scotch Tape Flower Frog, you can make any type of vessel (mug, bowl, pitcher, glass, etc.) into a vase.
The Scotch Tape flower-arranging technique:
1) Fill the vase 3/4 full with water.
2) Tape a grid across the top of the vase.
3) Cut the stems of the flowers on a diagonal.
4) Cut them at varying heights that measure 4-6 inches above the top of the vase.
5) Pull off any leaves towards the bottoms of the stems (these will rot and pollute your water).
6) Start arranging the middle of the vase, working outward.
7) The flowers will "stand" in their spot, making the arrangement look fuller.
8) Fill out the vase, cutting stems and rearranging as you go.
Now if Brian would just buy me some flowers so I could try it out...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

He's gettin' hitched!!

CONGRATULATIONS to my "little" brother, Erik, and his fiance, Emily!

They work in the same office, and several months ago, Emily decided to ask Erik out. He was on a call at the time, so she asked him on a sticky note if he had plans that night. Erik decided to return the favor the day of his proposal by plastering his apartment with 16,000 pre-printed "Will you marry me?" sticky notes. When she walked in the door, Erik got down on one knee and proposed!

(And yes, he really is that tall!)

Brian and I had the chance to meet Emily on our trip to Arizona a month ago, and we couldn't be happier to welcome her to the family!

Winter Break in Arizona

About a month ago, we made the trek out west to visit my family for a few days. It was gloriously warm, and we couldn't believe how liberating it felt to be in 60 degree weather and NOT WEARING OUR COATS! (Meanwhile, it was well below zero back home.)

We spent Friday with my parents and drove the Apache Trail, visited Goldfield Ghost Town, and had lunch at Tia Rosa's. On Saturday, Brian and Dad headed out to a movie and lunch at Brian's favorite spot, In-N-Out Burger. That evening, I helped to throw a baby shower for my sister with her sister-in-law, Katina. Sunday, we went to visit my old roommate, Kristen, and got to meet her husband and adorable newborn son. Later, we had dinner with the whole family and enjoyed a rousing political debate led by Scott. Brian and I walked the Desert Botanical Gardens on Monday, met up with Erik and his girlfriend, Emily, for lunch, and then dropped Brian off at the airport. Lucky me got to spend the rest of the week hanging out with the family and doing a little shopping.

We had a wonderful time!! Enjoy a few photos (including some rare shots of the elusive creature, Margene)...

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Yeah, yeah, I know I'm several days late in posting this...

Saturday, Brian and I ventured downtown to run a few errands and do some window shopping. While down there, we walked over the river to snap this photo. I had always heard that for St. Patrick's Day, the Chicago River was dyed green... but it was something else in person!

Check out this video from CNN to see how it was done.

Recent Reads

I highly recommend these 4 books!

Austenland: A Novel
by Shannon Hale

From Publishers Weekly
In 32-year-old singleton Jane Hayes's mind, no man in the world can measure up to Fitzwilliam Darcy—specifically the Fitzwilliam played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Jane is forced to confront her Austen obsession when her wealthy great-aunt Carolyn dies and leaves her an all-expenses-paid vacation to Pembrook Park, a British resort where guests live like the characters in Jane's beloved Austen novels. Jane sees the trip as an opportunity for one last indulgence of her obsession before she puts it "all behind her—Austen, men, fantasies, period," but the lines between reality and fiction become pleasantly blurred as Jane acclimates to the world of Spencer jackets and stringent etiquette rules, and finds herself torn between the Darcyesque Mr. Nobley and a forbidden tryst with Pembrook Park's gardener.


Nineteen Minutes
by Jodi Picoult

From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Picoult (My Sister's Keeper) takes on another contemporary hot-button issue in her brilliantly told new thriller, about a high school shooting. Peter Houghton, an alienated teen who has been bullied for years by the popular crowd, brings weapons to his high school in Sterling, N.H., one day and opens fire, killing 10 people. Flashbacks reveal how bullying caused Peter to retreat into a world of violent computer games. Alex Cormier, the judge assigned to Peter's case, tries to maintain her objectivity as she struggles to understand her daughter, Josie, one of the surviving witnesses of the shooting.


Can You Keep A Secret?
by Sophie Kinsella

From Publishers Weekly It would be hard to imagine anyone other than Gray giving voice to Emma Corrigan, the heroine of Kinsella's hilarious new confection (after Shopaholic Ties the Knot). With her flirty British accent, Gray perfectly delivers the hysterical monologues that Emma, a marketing assistant, directs towards the handsome man sitting next to her on a turbulent flight between Glasgow and London. Emma spills intimate details about her G-string, G-spot, the fact that she's never been in love and much more. But to Emma's chagrin, the handsome man on the plane turns out to be Jack Harper, CEO of her company. Emma hopes Jack will forget all about her, but he seems bent on getting to know her, first forcing her to admit she deserves better than her boring boyfriend Conor, then convincing her that he is a better choice. Although he never seems to share his own secrets, Emma can't help falling in love with Jack and his glamorous lifestyle. But then the unthinkable happens—Jack reveals Emma's secrets on national television in front of her family, friends and co-workers. What happens next? That's a secret.


And I'm currently reading and loving:
The Friday Night Knitting Club
by Kate Jacobs

From Publishers Weekly
Between running her Manhattan yarn shop, Walker & Daughter, and raising her 12-year-old biracial daughter, Dakota, Georgia Walker has plenty on her plate in Jacobs's debut novel. But when Dakota's father reappears and a former friend contacts Georgia, Georgia's orderly existence begins to unravel. Her support system is her staff and the knitting club that meets at her store every Friday night, though each person has dramas of her own brewing. Jacobs surveys the knitters' histories, and the novel's pace crawls as the novel lurches between past and present, the latter largely occupied by munching on baked goods, sipping coffee and watching the knitters size each other up. Club members' troubles don't intersect so much as build on common themes of domestic woes and betrayal.


Check them out!

Porn for new moms

Another post for my sister...

These funny images are from the book, Porn for New Moms.

When good condiments go bad

Check out this handy "periodic table" of kitchen condiments and their expiration dates. (As seen on The Kitchn.)

Being green is free...

A pilot program was launched this week by the USPS to allow customers to "recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free of charge.

The “Mail Back” program helps consumers make more environmentally friendly choices, making it easier for customers to discard used or obsolete small electronics in an environmentally responsible way. Customers use free envelopes found in 1,500 Post Offices to mail back inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players – without having to pay for postage.

The pilot is set for 10 areas across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego, but could become a national program this fall if the pilot program proves successful."

Instructions for New Parents

My sister and her husband are expecting their first child in a couple of weeks. I thought it might be good to post a few pointers for them...

I want my money back, money back, money back...

IRS Announces Economic Stimulus Payment Schedules, Provides Online Payment Calculator

Based on the last 2 digits of your Social Security number, payments will arrive according to the following schedule (in the same form as your 2007 tax return):

    • DIRECT DEPOSIT
    • 00 to 20 - May 2
      21 to 75 - May 9
      76 to 99 - May 16
    • PAPER CHECK
    • 00 to 09 - May 16
      10 to 18 - May 23
      19 to 25 - May 30
      26 to 38 - June 6
      39 to 51 - June 13
      52 to 63 - June 20
      64 to 75 - June 27
      76 to 87 - July 4
      88 to 99 - July 11

For an idea of how much to expect, check out this calculator.

Fresh bread color code

I found this at Frugal for Life:
Want to know how fresh your bread is?
Each day has a different color twist tie - they go alphabetically by color. They are:
Monday = Blue
Tuesday = Green
Thursday = Red
Friday = White
Saturday = Yellow
Based on this, if you went shopping on Friday, you would want look for a twisty- tie color that is green or red as they are the freshest. If you grab one that is yellow, that bread would be a week old since it was produced on Saturday.

She's crafty!

I've been feeling super-crafty lately... not sure why. I'm thinking I need a special room that looks like one of these so I can get my craft on. So inspiring!

(As seen on Pedaling Fast & Trying to Keep Up.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Craigslist = AWESOME


Have stuff lying around that you can definitely part with, but you know it's got to be worth something to somebody?


From
Wikipedia:
"Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free classified advertisements (with jobs, internships, housing, personals, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories) and forums on various topics."


Quite simply, we heart
Craigslist! Sure, we've all heard of and probably used eBay. But Craigslist is so much cooler than that. Craigslist is a much more casual and cost-effective way to buy or sell items. If you're selling, you simply create a FREE posting within your city site and wait for the buyers to contact you. If you're in the mood to purchase, just make sure you browse in areas geographically close to you, and only plan on contacting those with the most recent postings (items can move quickly).

In 2005, we were able to sell my car in about
3 hours, to the first person who came looking, for much, much more than the dealership was willing to offer us. In 2007, we were able to sell Brian's snow tires and his behemoth TV within a weekend. Yes, Craigslist has treated us very well!

So, have some items laying around your house that you'd like to get rid of?
AT:Chicago had a great post with some pointers on how to write a Craigslist ad. Their ideas included the following:
Say Cheese! A photograph of the item for sale is paramount! Many potential customers won't even look at an ad that doesn't include a photo. The picture doesn't have to be award-winning but it should be focused. No one wants to buy a couch covered in laundry and cats.

Describe, describe, describe. The title of the ad should include the type of furniture, brand name (if applicable), and price. The body of your ad should always include dimensions, material, color, and mention of any flaws. Other than that, try to be witty (but not long-winded). Most importantly, be honest.

Be negotiable. Understand that the good folks on Craigslist are going to try to talk you down on price. If your main goal is to get the furniture out of your house, price it fairly and tag OBO (or best offer) onto the description.

Clear your calendar. There is nothing more frustrating than finding the perfect Craigslist item and then not being able to meet up with the seller. Don't post your ad right before a weekend trip to Vegas and don't make an email address your sole method of contact if you don't have a computer. Post your ad a day or two before you have plenty of free time. You want to stay open to meet with all the customers that will, since you followed these guidelines, come beating down your door.

For ideas on how to style those photos, check out this post. Finally, don't worry about complete strangers having your contact information. Use the anonymous e-mail feature on Craigslist to weed out anyone you might deem "crazy", or use a junk e-mail address from Hotmail or Yahoo, etc. Numbr.com allows you to assign yourself a temporary phone number that expires when you need it to, and forwards all incoming calls to the home, work, or mobile number you specify. Have fun!

"Do you like guacamole?"

If this doesn't make you laugh, then you need a sense of humor transplant, STAT! Mark your calendars: July 25th!

No onions for you!

Either he has to slice them himself, or be content with dried onion flakes... because I don't do onions. If I'm even in the room when onions are being sliced, my eyes tear up, film over, and I can't see right for several hours.

I found these tips (some of which I'd never heard before) over at AT:The Kitchen:
1. Use a sharp knife. A sharp knife will cause less damage to cell walls, and fewer irritants will be released.

2. Keep the exposed cuts away from you. As soon as you cut an onion in half, turn both halves down on your cutting board. Leave the side you aren't currently chopping unpeeled. Once you've finished with one half, move the diced onion into a prep bowl, and set it on the opposite side of the kitchen, before proceeding with the rest of the onion.

3. Cut the onion properly. Chefs have an efficient way of dicing onions which conveniently keeps the most of the exposed cuts against the board. This Chow video
will walk you through the process.

4. Chill the onions. With a cold onion, less propanethial S-oxide will evaporate. You'll still get some irritants, but this will help. Remember – refrigerate, don't freeze. Frozen raw onions are often mushy when they thaw.

5. Run the vent hood. Position your cutting board next to the stove and turn on the exhaust fan. Irritants will be pulled away from you and your eyes.
Hmmm... I don't know about those. Maybe these tips will help someone else out there. Or maybe I'll just have to get myself some of these sexy goggles for onion slicing.

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Although I grew up in Houston, TX, I was not allowed by my father to develop a Texas Twang. However, I do enjoy saying "y'all" on occasion, just to get a rise out of him! He will be pleased to learn that according to the following quiz, I have a "West" American accent.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West
 

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
 
Boston
 
North Central
 
The Inland North
 
Philadelphia
 
The South
 
The Northeast
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I wonder where my mom would fall on the accent spectrum, since according to her, MAIL is pronounced "mell", and ROOF is "ruff". ;)

Courtesy of Cousin Laura

Brian's cousin, Laura, sent us this very clever list...

36 Rules of Life
  1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
  2. Don't worry about what people think, they don't do it very often.
  3. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  4. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
  5. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.
  6. My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
  7. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
  8. A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.
  9. For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.
  10. If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.
  11. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
  12. A conscience is what hurts when all of your other parts feel so good.
  13. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
  14. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
  15. No man has ever been shot while doing the dishes.
  16. A balanced diet is a muffin in each hand.
  17. Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
  18. Opportunities always look bigger 'going' than 'coming'.
  19. Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
  20. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
  21. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
  22. By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.
  23. Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator .
  24. Someone who thinks logically provides nice contrast to the real world.
  25. It ain't the jeans that make your butt look fat.
  26. If you had to identify in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved its full potential, that word would be "meetings".
  27. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness".
  28. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
  29. You should not confuse your career with your life.
  30. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance!
  31. Never lick a steak knife.
  32. The most destructive force in the universe is 'gossip'.
  33. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.
  34. You should never say anthing to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.
  35. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that deep down inside, we ALL believe we are good drivers.
  36. ;">Your friends love you anyway.
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