Friday, January 29, 2010

Posties

Sorry for not blogging yesterday - sometimes a girl's gotta work!

So my dad told me last night that I need to start blogging about him again or he's going to stop reading:

Dad: "Your articles aren't really geared toward guys."
Me: "First of all, they are not called articles, they're called posts. And second, untrue. I know at least 10 of my guy friends read my blog and like it... and I'm sure there are others. I mean, I know I talk about girlie stuff sometimes... but not all the time."
Dad: "Okay. Well I guess I only like the blogs about me, Chad or Baby Foxy."
Me: "Ah hah. The truth comes out."
Dad: "Those are your best posties."
Me: "Posts, dad. Not posties."

This is the stuff I deal with. You know how Chad says I have a constant need for attention? Are you still wondering where I get it from?

With this crazy predictions of anywhere from 4-10 inches of snow in North Carolina (yes, you heard me, in NC!), my dad decided he wants to have a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning for Baby Foxy. He comes home last night with two huge jugs of the ready to pour pancake mix. My mom did her best not to roll her eyes in disdain because she obvi makes pancakes from scratch... and why in the world would you buy two gallons of the stuff when they're easy enough - and better - to just make yourself? But she's used to his antics now, and picks her fights.

So Baby Foxy will trample over in the snow on Saturday morning - braving the elements - to walk next door for pancakes at my parents' house. My dad also bought scrapple - which I've refused to ever try and am not really sure what it is but it looks gross... and really, why do
you need another breakfast meat when sausage and bacon are your other options - that he is planning on trying to get Baby Foxy to eat so he can "be a man."

Sigh.

So maybe I'll take some pancake breakfast pics on Saturday morning.

And on a selfish note - ugh, I know I'm the queen of "I Love Snow!" - but I've got a house to be built! I've been living with in-laws and parents for 3 months now. Snow just slows down the process! So hopefully we'll get a little bit and then it'll go back to being 60 degrees again!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lean Cuisine Review: Thai-Style Noodles with Chicken

So Lean Cuisine has come out with three new frozen entrees:

Thai-Style Noodles with Chicken
Roasted Honey Chicken

Apple Cranberry Chicken

Because I love you, dear reader, I will attempt to review these new offerings to prevent you from wasting the $3-4 yourself if they are no good. Selfless, I know. You can thank me with kisses, rainbows and Nordstrom gift cards.

So today I'm kicking if off with the Thai-Style Noodles with Chicke
n...

Hereeeeee goes:

The chicken- There is not a lot of chicken in this dish - which is fine with me since I usually pick out all the chicken anyway because it is normally grisly and nasty. However, the chicken in this dish was actually good cuts of white meat chicken, and I only had to toss out one little piece that looked a bi
t sketchy to me. So all in all, good chicken! But if you want a lot of meat in your LC meal, you might be a little let down.

The sauce- This thai-peanut sauce was actually really good. I know - me saying something in a Lean Cuisine is good... crazy right? But it was. Peppery but with a good peanut taste. Wasn't as spicy as I would have liked, but hey, can't complain too much. And there was plenty of sauce to coat all the noodles.

The noodles- I mean they are not homemade - but th
ey were good! Not soggy, not too firm. Plus the fact that they are whole wheat (aka: more fiber) is nice since it will hopefully keep me full longer than most LC meals do.

The veggies- They are actually bright and plentiful. Usually the box covers make it look like there are tons of veggies - when they are only two or three. This guy actually had a pretty decent vegetable showing with carrots, red pepper and green beans... that were still crispy! Holla. I love me a vegetable.

Overall- I can't believe I'm saying this, but this might have been one of the best Lean Cuisine meals I've ever had. I would give it a four out of five stars. (note: The only thing that could make a LC five stars is for it to no longer be a LC.)

So buy Thai-Style Noodles with Chicken with confidence. It has MPLT's stamp of approval.


Sweet dreams

I've always had regular, pain-Jane down pillows. Nothing fancy. They worked well for me.

Well a few years ago, I started having a hard time falling asleep. I could never get comfortable. I'd squirm around trying to make sure my pillow case was completely smooth, my hair was out of my face, etc. - which would last for two seconds, and then I'd have to start all over.

I attributed this to me being a squirmy sleeper - not me having a bad pillow.

Last year, my parents got Chad a Tempurpedic pillow. He loves it and talked about how awesome it was. One night I was able to convince him to let me try it when I was having a hard time falling asleep. Man, the moment I put my head on that thing I was hooked.

So for the past year - on occasions when Chad feels particularly generous - he would let me sleep with his pillow. My sleep was so much better on the nights I slept with his pillow.

For Christmas, Chad's parents got me my own Tempurpedic. It is heavenly. It's amazing how much quicker I fall asleep now, and I don't wake up in the middle of the night half as much as I used to.

So if you are having sleeping problems, try out a Tempurpedic pillow. This is my public service announcement.

... you're welcome.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Make asparagus

Just do it.

Because it is delicious. And healthy. And delicious. And delicious.

Here's how I make mine:

Grab yourself a bundle of asparagus. You'll want to break off the bottom of the asparagus because it is tough and fibrous... and not easy/pleasant to eat. Luckily mother nature understands this and has an easy tip for us. The asparagus will easily snap at the place where it's ready to eat (usually about half an inch to an inch from the bottom of the stalk). It's easy to snap by hand.

So now that you have your clean, snapped, asparagus - boil a large pot of salted water. Once the boil gets going, dump your asparagus in. Now - I think the reason a lot of people don't think they like asparagus is because it's not prepared well. If you cook the asparagus too long it loses its great flavor and becomes a bit to bitter for my taste. So I only boil mine for MAYBE 3 minutes (I don't look at a clock). I can tell when it's done when it turns bright green (don't wait too long or it gets more army green/i.e. = not as good) and is bendable when you scoop out a test stalk.

After you drain it, put it back in the pot and add a few good tablespoons of butter (because butter is awesome), kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Then put it on a serving dish and top with fresh lemon zest (necessity) and pecorino-romano cheese (optional).

It is delicious. One of Chad's favorite veggies that I make.

So go make it. With pasta. Or rice. Or chicken. Or steak. Or by itself (no judgments here... I guarantee you I could eat an entire bunch of asparagus by myself in one sitting as my meal).

Monday, January 25, 2010

House...again

Are y'all sick of this yet? I keep thinking you must be - but then again, house blogs always get good views... so some of you out there must be interested!

So it has been almost 3 months since they started construction on the house. At the beginning there was a lot of changes from week to week. During the middle (during inspections and such), things slowed down a bit... at least visually. Well now that we're in the final stretch, there are literally new things happening every day.

For instance - this week, they laid the hardwoods, started the stonework on the exterior, stained the beadboard on the porches....and (the biggest part)... installed our cabinets! We were told that the cabinets tend to be the hold-up... so the fact those are complete is very encouraging!

So here you go!

First the exterior...

Front of the house:
... the only picture I didn't take because a guy was working on the house. I don't like taking pictures of people without their knowledge so I made Chad take it instead.

Back of the house:


...sad muddy backyard. It will be pretty soon enough.

Front porch:


Stone work:

Back porch:

Now the inside...

Kitchen cabinets... woo hoo:



Master bath cabinets:

Laundry room cabinets:
Remember Chad telling me to "not go crazy" with the hardware... I'm glad I did it my way! They all are so different and fun.

Guest bathroom cabinets:

Dusty hardwoods (they sanded to finish this week, I hope):So that's the latest!

What's next, say you? I don't really know either! They obviously need to finish the hardwoods, put up the interior doors, put up the crown molding and wainscoating, do the interior painting, install the countertops, add the exposed beams to the master bedroom, finish painting the front and back porch posts, pour the stamped concrete entryway and patio, put up the garage door, install our lighting fixtures... and for goodness sake... landscape the yard! So I guess they will have a lot to keep them busy...

but the move in countdown is on!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Maybe it's just me...

I'm not really the type of girl that has crushes on Hollywood celebrities or anything. But there is one guy that I think is ridiculously good looking.

Former USC Quarterback (current Arizona back-up to Kurt Warner) Matt Leinart:


And I swear the only reason I think he's so hot is because I swear he looks like Chad... who I find to be the MOST smoking hot. The have the same curly hair, the dark eyes, same lips, etc.


And then I saw the dimples...I've told you the only reason I married Chad was because of his dimples...

I need to get Chad growing out his scruff again. He had it going on around Thanksgiving. One word: H.O.T. I wish I had pictures of it because it made them look even more alike - but alas, I don't.

PS: Chad is going to hate me forever and a day for writing a post about this. But it was time to come clean.

Cotton

Chad and I have a second anniversary not-so-slowly approaching... man time really does fly!

So last year we did the traditional paper gift for each other. We kind of liked the idea of doing traditional anniversary gifts.

So 2nd anniversary, the traditional gift is cotton.

I thought it'd be a sweet idea if we picked out a new bedding set as our gift to each other. Chad was less than enthused about that idea, but I'm working on him.

Here are a couple sets that I love:


I checked Horchow...

and then pictured Chad burning my credit cards, so I closed the site immediately. Because really, who needs to spend $1,000 on bedding... even if it is the prettiest bedding in the world.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Holy Heidi

Wow - I can't believe I'm even blogging about this... but I am.

Heidi Montag.

Have you SEEN her lately... post surgery(ies)?!

Before:

After:

Wow. That's about all I can say.

She's 23... and she looks like a 50 year old after bad plastic surgery. And not a beautiful 50 year old... because there are plenty of them... and older! It makes me sad. She was such a beautiful girl naturally. What is wrong with this world that at TWENTY-THREE she felt the need to completely overhaul her looks... when she was pretty to begin with! Just goes to show you with all the money, all the fame and all the beauty in the world --- it doesn't make you happy... even with yourself.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Caitlins & Leeks

Do you know how there are certain people you meet that you just instantly bond with? I do... and it's with girls named Caitlin.

Caitlin #1 - I met her at the bridal shop where I bought my dress. She was 18 at the time - working at the store and actually helped me try on all the different dresses. By the time I left the store, we had hugged and I invited her to my wedding. I think she probably thought I was joking - but I wasn't. She actually came early and helped me get ready on the big day. We now talk on the phone regularly, tell each other "I love you!" and grab lunches together when she's home for college. She's like my kid sister. Just an awesome girl.

Caitlin #2 - Molly's best friend. Speaking of which - MWMM will hopefully return soon. Miss Molly has been tracked out so we decided to give her a complete break from thinking about schools. ;) I met Caitlin for the first time - I believe - at Mike's college graduation party. Loved her the second I talked to her - and her boyfriend Brock. Just awesome people. So now I have another Caitlin to know and love. Also feels like a younger sister to me - might be something with the name. If you know any other Caitlins keep them away from me - 2 friends with the same name is my limit!

So Caitlin #2 emailed me yesterday asking about some good recipes with lee
ks in them (since I mentioned my love of leeks in a former blog post). There are leeks in this broccoli and cheese soup recipe, but not leek-y enough.

So here are a couple yummy leek recipes:


Chicken & Leek Pie

Ingredients
* 4 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1 small leek, washed and sliced small
* 1 tablespoon plain flour
* 2-3 pints chicken stock
* 100 ml double cream
* 1 pinch fresh thyme (dried will do if it's all you have)
* 1 packet premade puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm comes with two in a box. That's what I use.)
* 3-4 small potatoes (optional)

* 1-2 bay leaves (optional) ... the recipe says optional... I say non-optional. I need to add bay leaves to favorite ingredients.
* salt and pepper

Directions

1. Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces – I like mine about 1 to 2
inches square.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan until very hot. Brown the chicken pieces a few at a time, depending on the size of your pan. When they’re all done, put them to one side.
3. Add the rest of the oil to the pan. Add the onion and leek, cover and turn the heat down low. Cook like this for about 10 minutes until the onion and leek are nicely softened. Then add the flour, stir in well and cook until completely incorporated, which will take a couple of minutes or so.
4. Add a cupful of the stock and stir. The sauce should immediately start to thicken. Add the rest of the stock, bit-by-bit, until you have about a third left.
5. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan. If the sauce seems a bit too thick, add a bit more stock. Add the thyme.
6. Cook on a medium heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, and then
pour in the cream. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
7. If you are adding the potatoes, boil them separately and then chop into smallish pieces. Add to the sauce.
8. Cook until the sauce has reduced to your preferred consistency. If it’s too thick, add a bit more stock to thin it out. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Pour the sauce into a shallow ovenproof dish and top with the puff pastry. Cook at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Note: Heavy cream + puff pastry = save your weight watchers points for this bad boy. But it's delicious - especially during the winter!
Extra note: You could easily make these individually by putting them in smaller ramekins (not the real tiny ones, but an individual portion size.) You might have to modify the baking time
though - so just check it and pull out when the crust is golden brown. The chicken will have cooked earlier, so you don't have to worry about it being pink in the middle.

Rustic Potato & Leek Soup

Ingredients:

*3 tablespoons butter
* 4 leeks, thinly sliced (just use the white or light green part)
* 1 small or medium onion, chopped
* 6 to 8 russet potatoes, thinly sliced using a food processor (you don't have to remove the peel... just clean it well. the peel is where all the nutrients are!)
* 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (or enough to barely cover potatoes)
* 1 cup heavy cream
* salt to taste
* white pepper to taste (again, unless your husband hates you and denys you white pepper. then use black pepper like the common folk)

Directions:

1) Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and leeks. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until onions are wilted and lightly browned.

2) Add sliced potatoes to saucepan then pour in enough chicken broth to just barely cover the potatoes. Continue cooking over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Using a potato masher, mash and stir potatoes until desired consistency is reached. I like mine a bit chunky, but you can make it smoother if you'd like. As you mash the potatoes and the soup thickens, turn down heat and stir frequently with a large spoon to prevent the bottom from burning and causing you a heartache over cleaning the pot.

3) Add one cup of heavy cream, salt and white pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more over low heat, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and serve... preferably with some hearty bread and a bright green salad.


So there are a few leek recipes - but you can add them to about any vegetable soup - creamed or not - and it will probably make it even more delicious. Asparagus and leek soup would probably rock. Chad and I have an unhealthy/healthy obsession with asparagus as well. I'll try to find a recipe for that and share.

Also (I'm a day late... and I have no excuses):

Happy Birthday Miss Molly... I love you big time!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Soapbox: Housing Market

I miss my soapbox.

Luckily, there has been a hot button issue for me that I feel like I can vent about in this blog while also putting out some helpful tips.

So here we go...

Let me start by saying that I am officially hooked on HGTV. I never used to watch it before - but after being sick as a dog on New Year's Eve, I got drawn into an all-day marathon of "House Hunters." I swear I watched at least 20 episodes. Sick, I know.

So now I've moved beyond "House Hunters" and started watching other HGTV shows... including a few on first-time home buyers - like "Property Virgins." While watching these shows, I'm overcome with the amount of stupidity with some of these people.

For instance, this one couple the other week had ZERO money in savings, wanted 100% financing (which pretty much doesn't exist anymore... and for good reason, as far as I'm concerned), and were looking at $350k homes. When they found a loan that only required they put $9k down, they said they couldn't afford that. What?! You don't have $9,000 to put down on a home, but you think you're good with the mortgage payments (and taxes and escrow and electricity bills, etc.) on a $350,000 home? Their thought was that the wife was about to start a new job, and they'd be able to afford a house that expensive once she started the job... but in the meantime they had no money.

Ridiculous. The thing about our world is that nothing is certain - that job could fall through, her husband could get laid off, etc. - and they're stuck in a $350k home with no savings. Bad move.

Lesson #1: Don't buy a house without savings that could get you through at least a few months without employment.

Another episode I watched last night included a woman that didn't want to pay more than $1,000 a month in mortgage (because she had an $800/month lease on her Mercedes, duh!) - but still wanted a house that was brand new, granite countertops, hardwoods, new everything, etc. That poor Realtor on the show looked like she wanted to backslap this woman. I know if I were in her shoes, I'd want to do the same.

Lesson #2: Have realistic expectations. Your first house will probably not be your dream house (ours certainely wasn't) - and that's okay! Buy what you can afford. Most of the time your first home is your starter home... so try to get something that you can live with but will also allow to save $$ for the next home.

Lesson #3: Please don't spend $800/mo. on a car lease unless you hate money and want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

I remember at the beginning of the housing crisis reading a story on MSNBC about people who had to default on their loans. I literally was spitting fire at the end of the article.

One woman - a hairdresser - was living (by herself) in a $500k home. Her salary was about $35,000 a year. And SHE felt WRONGED ---- that she got taken for a loop on how much house she can afford.

I wish she had some tips from me like...

Lesson #4: If your monthly paycheck is less than your monthly mortgage - YOU CANNOT AFFORD THE HOUSE... even if some idiot lender tells you that you can.

During the whole housing market crash, many people blamed the lenders for offering people these outrageous loans that they could not possibly afford. I understand that to some extent - and we definitely need safeguards in place for "stupid" - but I'm sorry, why is there no such thing as personal responsibility any more?!?! If people cannot put two and two together... such as "Uhhh... my paycheck is only $1,500 a month... so maybe I can't afford a mortgage payment of $3,500 a month!" - than that is their own problem that they need to solve on their own.

I'm sorry but it is infuriating to be a responsible home buyer - to actually sit down and think "Okay - this is how much savings we have. Here are our monthly expenses. Hm, lets take into account that something could happen to one of our cars. Let's consider how it would be impacted if one... or horror... both of us lose a job. How much do we want to continue putting in savings/retirement? How much house can we afford with all that said and done - and still feel financially comfortable?"

Now, I know there were some people during the housing crisis that were unfortunately victims of bad luck. Couples - who despite having savings and sensible house payments - that lost their jobs, came into medical expenses, were unable to get back on their feet - and thus, lost their home. That is understandable. You cannot predict everything that may happen. But you can try to be as prepared for that as possible.

My frustration is how it seems that we're overlooking the personal responsibility in this equation - and going straight to "Bad lenders! How could you!" I'm sorry but there are enough FREE resources out there for people who need guidance when it comes to something as complicated as buying a house. I just think excusing or rewarding "stupid" - creates a group of people that are not only crippling the economy, but sadly, crippling themselves.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Great for a Game

Welcome back guest blogger - MPLT's husband, Chad:

"Did you see us against Boston College yesterday? Man we looked GREAT!!!"

Yes, these were the first words out of my fanatical father-in-law's mouth regarding his beloved Maryland Terrapins.

My father-in-law goes up to Maryland ("the Holy Land") every couple of months to visit family. Now you need to understand this family and their allegiance to their team. I am someone who can relate because I continue to avidly support a football team who never ceases to disappoint me year after year (NC State). A dog always goes back to his own stink. But this is the life we choose and relish in our own misery.

My father-in-law's brother at one point during any given season wants to make Gary Williams the Governor of Maryland and then the next game when they lose to a directional school (e.g...SW college, NW college, SE college) he wants Gary to be banished from the state entirely. The two of them will spend hours during the season talking about how this is "the year." It actually brings me a great amount of amusement.

I start to get excited a couple of months before the season starts because I know my father-in-law's brother will start sending out emails regarding Maryland's star prospects for the following year. He has a friend whose buddy washes Gary's car when he is playing in Greensboro or something like that. These emails start circulating throughout the family and everyone starts getting the FEVA! At some point before the season some bluechip recruit will supposedly "verbally commit" to Maryland according to one of our family sources. This same recruit will back out within one month. This happens EVERY year. We then talk about at least one in-state recruit from the past 15 seasons that Maryland didn't make an attempt to go after. RECRUITING in state talent is the issue...RECRUITING!!!We will watch games this season where Maryland will go up early and then the other team will go on a 20 point run. At this point my in-laws will insist on everyone going back to the seat they were in when Maryland was winning, start eating what you were eating when Maryland was winning and return to the same breathing pattern you had when Maryland was winning. You may even find someone come in with some chicken bones and incense.

Then after the game we will call my father-in-law's brother and put him on speaker phone like a post game recap. I actually find myself enjoying the atmosphere more each year.



This is fun for me because it actually mortifies all of my friends who are also ALL NC State graduates. These guys get so offended when I act like I am showing Maryland any support. They are more offended about the idea that I would support this school in any capacity than if I spit on their grandparents' graves. They look at me in disgust when I tell them that I am going over to my in-law's house to watch the Maryland game. "AFTER THE WAY THEY DISRESPECT EVERY OTHER ACC TEAM!" That is the type of comment my friends feed me. They actually questioned my marriage to a Maryland fan. "How can you marry a woman who supports that team?! I mean what will your children think!" So this is another kind of enjoyment and drama that I get to experience from Maryland basketball.

So when my father-in-law came in today saying "WE LOOKED GREAT!" I knew that it had begun. There has not yet been a defining moment this season where he has shown excitement just to be let down by his team. But now that moment has arrived. And we will experience these emotions several more times during the season. I will watch my family laugh and cry. Curse Gary and love Gary. I will hear about the next big Venezuelan recruit who Keith Booth scouted from a tip he received from a day laborer.

So at least for the win against Boston College, the Maryland Terrapins are GREAT FOR A GAME in the eyes of their loyal fans!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Porches and Lighting

So we drove by the house today - they are currently putting up drywall. Yay!

But since all those guys were working I didn't want to harrass them by taking interio
r pictures, so I stuck with pictures of the front porch and screened in porch - which they've added railings to... and which will later be stained.


I'm ready for them to put the shutters up on the house... but that probably won't be done until a bit later.
Can't you just see me sitting her drinking my morning coffee and reading the paper on the weekends? Sigh. It will be much prettier once the landscape comes in (as opposed to the pile of mud that is our current yard)!

We've also done our last interior selection appointment - and picked out our lighting. I'm super excited about the lighting... but most excited that Chad let me get the chandelier that I ADORED in the first house we almost bought (it was our interior designer's former home so she was able to point out the same one for me).

Here it is.... isn't it beautiful?

I just love it. I think it will look great with our dining furniture - which is Chad's grandmother's.

They also had the same chandelier in a giant version...
If we had a massive dining room I would have begged for it, but it probably would have looked a little oversized for that room.

So there you have it. That's the latest. We've heard end of March for move-in... I'm counting the days!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meet Vasquez

I meant to write about this yesterday, but I couldn't bring myself to do it after the Maryland Terrapins loss to Wake Forest Tuesday night. You'll see why in a second.

So my dad is a "pretty" man. He's in sales - so he's got the nice clothes,
gets his hair cut weekly at a place called Primp while he sips Grey Goose martinis, has been known to get a manicure before to keep his nails looking nice - - which his excuse is "I'm in sales! I shake a lot of hands. I can't have nasty fingernails." So you get the point. Suffice it to say that my dad has more clothes in their closet than my mom does.

So anyway, my dad is best buds with this guy Lee that we used to go to church with. Lee is nothing like my dad. Lee lives on a farm. Every time I've seen Lee, he's worn overalls... other than at my wedding (thank goodness). So needless to say, they are an odd couple. But hey - they love hanging out.

So a few years ago, Lee and his wife Lisa got word that a petting zoo was going to be shutting down, and they didn't have any place to bring their animals. So Lee decided that they'd take them in... and they did. They got several llamas, goats, sheep, and a variety of other animals...

...including a few pygmy goats.

Now, despite my pretty dad - the man loves his nature. Not necessarily going OUT in it... but admiring it from afar - i.e. the Discovery or Nature Channels. He loves animals... just not dogs (allergies) - but the story of him forcing my mom to give away our sweet golden retriever pup, Gracie, is for another blog, another day.

So when dad learned Lee was going to be getting all these animals, my dad was quick to say "I want to adopt one." And by adopt, he meant naming rights and being able to visit it.

So he did - he picked out a itty, bitty pygmy goat and named it Vasquez - af
ter the "Vivacious Venezuelan" senior guard Greivis Vasquez who plays at the University of Maryland - my dad's alma mater.

If you're a Maryland fan like we are, you love Vasquez... he's a passionate player - loud, and probably obnoxious to any team playing him...
...you get the idea.

So yeah, a likely jump from hot-headed basketball player to... pygmy goat.

(Note: not an actual picture of Vasquez... but close enough. I'll try to go out there and get a real one of him sometime soon.)

Dad loves Vasquez and talks about him frequently. My dad describes him as "short and scrappy" - presumably just like his namesake... though the latter is probably more scrappy than short.

My biggest Vasquez (the goat, not the player) memory was shortly after Chad and I moved into our new - at the time - townhome. Everyone had stopped by to visit... except my dad. So I gave him a call...

Me: "Hey dad, I wanted to see if you wanted to come over to our new place for lunch!"
Dad: "Ah Dee (remember, he calls me this for no reason), I'm sorry but I've got to go visit with Vasquez today! I bought him an apple!"

So you wonder why I have a constant need for attention... my dad passed me up for a goat.

In conclusion - if any of you know my dad personally - none of this post should come as a surprise to you. The fact that he's best friends with a guy who wears overalls... or that he adopted a pygmy goat... or that he named it after a Maryland player... or that he prefers bringing said goat an apple instead of having lunch with his daughter.

You win some, you lose some!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti

Just unbelievably sad hearing all the stories, watching the videos and seeing the horrific images about the massive earthquake that hit Haiti.

But saw this one picture that made me stop.

The one thing standing in the midst of destruction. Poignant isn't it?

I encourage you - if you have the resources to do so - consider providing support to the people of Haiti through organizations such as the Red Cross, Samaritan's Purse, Wine to Water, or the many, many other nonprofits and churches who are quickly assembling to help provide some relief to the Haitian people.

Today's funnies

My younger brother Mike is always good for sending me a laugh of the day.

These are his most recent...

Where to eat fast food.

and

Hilarious e-mail correspondence.

Hope they make you laugh! If not - you have no sense of humor.

Ingredients I can't get enough of

So last week I shared with you my three favorite food groups - bread, cheese and veggies.

Well today I thought I'd share some of my favorite ingredients. These are things, when I read them in a description for a recipe or menu item, immediately pique my interest. They're not usually featured solo - their job is to enhance the flavor of other items.

Leeks.

What can I say - I'm a leek freak. Similar to an onion but with its own unique flavor.

Scallions.


Earthy and delicious in so many things. Like a baby leek.

Cilantro.

Mmmm. Fresh and bright. Can look an awful lot like Italian Parsley so make sure to smell before you buy!

Capers.
Nice and briny.

Garlic.

No description needed. I'm Italian.

Wine.

I love using it in cooking as much as I love drinking it.

Soy sauce.

Sweet and salty. Gives food such depth.

Lemon.

Either a few drops of the juice or a few zests of its peel... citrus does amazing things for cooking!

So there you have it - some of my favorite ingredients. I'm sure there are others that are escaping me at the minute... but those are a good start. Someone find me a recipe with all these things in them, we might become BFF.