Monday, November 28, 2011

Meal Plan Monday: Turkey Edition

Ah, the first holiday of the season is over. Hard to believe December is rolling in in only a couple of days. Dan and I hosted our first Thanksgiving, and by "hosted" I mean our moms made all the food and we provided a table. Seriously. We have great moms. Mine came up early in the day to roast our turkey, whom I named Augustus Gloop Hans van Gobbler III. I wanted him to be very regal sounding and German like my mom's side of the family. Mission accomplished, I think.

Anyway, the thing about hosting Thanksgiving is that you get all the leftovers. That can be good and bad. We ate delicious leftovers this weekend, but we're getting burned out and it's time to get creative. I only have three main meals this week, but it should work out just fine with enough variety. Hopefully.

Tonight, I'm making a big pot of tortilla soup from The Pioneer Woman's website. I'll also be doing turkey enchiladas. Lastly, I'm going to make my first ever pot pie. Most everything I need for all of this is in my pantry, so if we do get absolutely sick of turkey, I'm not blowing the weekly budget and I can pick up something - probably beef - later in the week.

So not a typical laid out, day-by-day meal plan, but it'll work. I'm hoping it'll give us both enough choices for both lunch and dinner that it's not too noticeable that it's all turkey.

Do you have any creative uses for leftover turkey?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


As I'm sure y'all are aware, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and this here is the obligatory Thanksgiving post for 2011. I'll be honest. I'm having a hard time this year with the thankfulness. I'm still very much feeling like something is missing in my list of "what I'm thankful for," despite the fact that the list itself is long. It's an emotional Thanksgiving for me, and will likely be an emotional holiday season. But for today, I will set that aside and remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life.

This year, I am thankful for:

Dan. First and foremost. My husband, my very best friend, my rock. Without him, life would be more dull, more quiet, and far less wonderful. I can't say enough great things about the person who is always at my side, ready and willing with a hug. He knows what I need - a hug, a laugh, a smile - often before I even do. As much as 2011 has been trying for me, it's been hard on him too. Only, he doesn't let it out, because he's the stoic one. We're in this together, he and I, and as much as I knew that when I married him, this last six months has shown me without a doubt that he's exactly who I was meant to spend life with. I am thankful for his strength and for his never-ending drive to make our marriage the best it can be.

My parents. I will never say it enough. Who are we without the people who raised and loved us? My parents have given us so much love and support this year. Without my mom, I may not have had the strength to tell myself it's okay to go to counseling. As painful as it is for her to know she may not be a grandmother to my children, my mom's ability to accept and comfort me in our likely childlessness meant more to me than she'll ever know. And my Daddy. The hardest working man I know, and the most kind and gentle soul you could ever meet. So many things that I love about him, I see in my own husband, and I know that my father taught me how to choose a great husband, even though they look drastically different on the outside. I am thankful for my parents and that they taught me to be strong and loving.

My sister. We've been through good and bad in our life together. I carry much guilt for the way things were when we were young. She's an incredibly gracious and uplifting woman. She's selfless and loving, tender and wickedly funny. She's so much of the best parts of my mom and dad, just as I am, but exemplified in different ways. She's got so much in her that I admire and hope to be someday. I love my little sister more than she'll ever know, and I'm thankful for how our adult life has brought us closer than I could have hoped for just 10 years ago.

My friends. Old and new, near and far, real-life and virtual, I can not express enough gratitude for the family I've been blessed with of people who were once strangers. Their love, laughter and support has been immeasurable and I am thankful for the wonderful ways in which they've enriched my life. I can only hope that I can give it back in their times of need.

Our home. I'm so incredibly thankful for our house. I love that it's becoming more and more what we envisioned at first sight every day. It's given us an outlet for creativity and hard work, and has been a source of pride in its transformation. I love that it's become a place of memories, a place where our friends gather. It will be the place of mine and Dan's first Thanksgiving as hosts tomorrow, and I can't wait to watch that unfold.

Our health. I have to set aside the negatives again here and remind myself that generally speaking, we are very fortunate. Things could be far worse. We are able-bodied and living a full life. We are not hindered on a day-to-day basis by chronic illness or pain. We are not in medical debt or suffering. We are, by all intents and purposes, healthy and happy.

Our pups. Last but not least. Without speaking words or sharing in my tears, Clover and Paisley have shown such empathy and comfort. In the last 6 months, Clover has transformed. She went from disinterested to loving and compassionate this year. She gives kisses and cuddles in all hours of the day. Where I once felt frustration, I now feel nothing but love. And my Paisley. She always seems to know when I need some love. She's the first to crash onto the couch and climb up onto my tummy when I lay down. She'll lay with me for hours, wagging her tail and warming me with her devotion. We are so thankful for their love, health, and energy in our home.

We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you're surrounded by people you're thankful for tomorrow and every day.

Monday, November 14, 2011

101 in 1001

I'm sure everyone has seen these lists floating around, but they seem to be extra-abundant among my blog friends lately. I feel inspired by their 101 in 1001 lists because they don't seem super hard to achieve over the course of about 2.75 years. I think I can do this. I admit, some of it is stuff I'm gearing up to do anyway, but now I'll have the extra satisfaction of crossing something off a list. I also admit that I got some inspiration from these ladies: Kallay, Allyson and Shana. My deadline is August 11, 2014.

Some revisions made 1/3/11, Updated 3/7/13

1. Give homemade Christmas gifts to everyone on our list

2. Learn to knit Completed January 2012. I won't be making sweaters any time soon, but I've got the basics

3. Reduce grocery spending by $50 a month through couponing

4. Convert guest room to craft room Completed 6/3/12

5. Build a custom desk (with Dan’s help) for craft room  Completed 6/3/12

6. Buy a DSLR

7. Read 30 books in a year (The Hunger Games, Sweet Grapes, The Help, Catching Fire, Mockingjay, I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home, Silent Sorority, Rules for Virgins, Bossy Pants, Sing You Home, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Then Came You, Are you There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me, Every Drunken Chearleader Why Not Me?, Freakonomics)

8. Answer the "50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind" - I like these a lot better than the 30 truth questions I tried to answer, so this should go over much better than that failed attempt I did answer them, and am working on when, if, and how I will share them. Very enlightening, though

9. Lose 25 pounds

10. Run a 5K Completed 11/17/2012 I can't say I RAN a 5K. I participated in one - after deciding Zumba would be good training - it's not. But I did one.

11. Go on a vacation with just Dan

12. Send my grandmas handwritten letters or cards once a month

13. Pay off current debt In progress! My personal retail cards are gone, and we consolidated debts (Dan had a card with a ridiculous rate that we just weren't getting anywhere with, despite paying way over the minimums each month), and will have it all paid off in about 2 years

14. Take a cooking class

15. Get through my bucket list of cooking

16. Continue therapy twice a month for at least 6 months (Thanks to changes in insurance, I simply can't afford bi-monthly appointmets. I'm going every 4 weeks, instead)  Completed 5/3/12

17. Participate in infertility awareness week in April each year

18. Find a place to volunteer my time once a month

19. Learn a new cupcake recipe per month for 6 months

20. Learn a new frosting recipe per month for 6 months

21. Create one original cookie design per month for 6 months

22. Blog all new cookie, cupcake and frosting recipes/designs

23. Do two Pinterest projects a month for six months, and this can include recipes (tree skirt, flower scarf)

24. Find one new blog to follow each week

25. Read with Dan on Sunday mornings for a month

26. Put away every fresh load of laundry right away for a month

27. Drink 96oz. of water a day for a month (to become a habit)

28. Clean out friends on Facebook once every 6 months. It’s okay to not be friends with everyone

29. Learn how to do fabulous eye makeup

30. Make the dogs homemade biscuits as a once-a-month treat for 6 months

31. Exercise 4 times a week for one month (to become a habit)

32. Paint 3 new pieces

33. Get one new tattoo I did it, I honestly don't remember when, though

34. Attend a blog gathering (TJs at PJs in February 2012 and 2013)

35. Go to two concerts (Poz and InfeKt - 12/2/11)

36. Write our will

37. Go to Europe That really just isn't going to happen. I'm replacing it with: Amass a collection of greeting cards to be on hand for any occasion

38. Go snow skiing with Dan

39. Invest in 4 quality classic clothing pieces

40. Spread infertility awareness publicly I'm well on my way. I've applied to be a a state legislation advocate and am waiting to hear back on how I'll be helping my community. I'm also "out" retty much everywhere, and take any opportunity I can to educate

41. Read three books related to infertility (Sweet Grapes, I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home, Silent Sorority)

42. Find a way to support or be involved in proper sexual health education I'm working on this one too - I've expressed my desire to the RESOLVE people, and hope I can get into this somehow
43. Attend a food festival

44. Treat Dan to a sky diving session

45. Learn to shoot a pistol Completed. My dad gave a pistol he'd given to his father, and Dan taught me how to use it.

46. Write Dan an anniversary love letter every year

47. Celebrate the anniversary of our engagement with dinner and Wild Horse each year (2012, 2013, 2014)

48. Attend a Post Secret event

49. Learn to make headbands Completed 1-4-11, though I will continue to make other kinds

50. Floss daily for a month (to become a habit)

51. Do a 52-week picture challenge

52. Donate my bridesmaid dresses Completed January 2013

53. Go to Zoo Lights with our friends’ kids

54. Spend each Christmas Eve with Dan and find something fun and competitive to do together

55. Make a headboard (once we buy our new king sized bed)

56. Commit 3 random acts of kindness

57. Start a “pay it forward” in a Starbucks drive-thru Completed July 2012

58. Try one new recipe a week for two months

59. Compliment Dan each day for a month

60. Send two “just because” cards to friends each month for 6 months

61. Learn the moves of one Mortal Kombat character and then play and defeat Dan… by a lot. We seriously just don't play games together much, and this is just not really going to happen, since there are more productive things we can do together. I'm replacing it with: Do three big home projects from start to finish with Dan

62. Take my dad to a Rams game

63. Take my mom to a performance of some sort

64. Send a soldier a care package

65. Send 20 Christmas cards to soldiers each year (2011, 2012, 2013)

66. Watch the news daily for a month

67. Visit Seattle Completed February 2013

68. Visit Chicago Completed June 2012

69. Visit NYC in the winter

70. Buy and use a sewing machine My mother-in-law is giving me hers, so I won't be buying one, but I still have to learn to use it and make something. I'm thinking craft room curtains

71. Win the Christmas cubicle decorating contest at work (I may in trouble on this one, it seems as though they've done away with the contest. But let me assure you, my Advent Calendar of 2011 is a ginormous hit) I'm calling it a W

72. Do a staycation weekend in Arizona with Dan

73. Paint the living room

74. Throw an adult-like dinner party

75. Donate old clothes twice a year

76. Buy a motorcycle or have a 2 year plan at the end of 1001 days to buy one

77. Send a secret to Post Secret

78. Meet more blog friends (this one is sure to thrill Dan) Completed 3/29/12 when I met Shana

79. Learn more about wine

80. Do all my cooking for the week on Sundays for one month

81. Visit 3 farmer’s markets in the valley

82. See the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert

83. Volunteer baby-sitting services to our friends once a month so they can have a date night

84. Host Thanksgiving (2011 and 2012)

85. Find a dog park near the house and take the girls on Sunday mornings for a month

86. Get my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving

87. Subscribe to and read a craft magazine for a year

88. Do 100 tweets a month for 3 months

89. Find a show to recap and stick with it for a whole season

90. Get a bigger dining room table

91. Do a major update of the music on my iPod This one might not happen. Now that I have my Kindle, I don't use my iPod. And I only wanted to revamp my music on the iPod so I would use it, but it seems to have been replaced with something I do use, and it has a lot of new music the iPod didn't. That kind of counts, right?

92. Get off blood pressure medication, if possible

93. Max out my HSA for my annual out-of-pocket limit in the event of catastrophic illness

94. Increase retirement savings percentage by at least 2%

95. Surprise Dan with new lingerie for at least one special occasion per year

96. Do my own oil changes for a year (it’s only 4)

97. Organize a cookie exchange

98. Try yoga

99. Take better care of my skin – I’m lucky now, but may not always be

100. Each year, find and buy a planner that functions well for me and use it regularly (2012, 2013, 2014)

101. Write a new list

You may notice there are quite a few that require longevity. I know that I'm not good at starting something and sticking to it when I get bored of it. I'm purposely including tasks I have to keep doing because I want to better myself in that way.

Do you have a 101 in 1001 list?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Take the glue gun away from me

It's not surprising - because I've said it 1,000 times - that I'm a Pinterest fiend. If I'm at home on a Saturday morning while Dan's in bed, I'm pinning away, adding recipes, photos, and decorating ideas to my boards. What IS surprising to everyone including me (or should be) is that I apparently have an obsession with wreaths. Yes, wreaths. The things old people (sorry, wreath lovers) hang on their doors. Not even two years ago, when I told her that Dan and I don't celebrate or decorate for Valentine's Day, my grandmother asked me incredulously, "you don't have a Valentine's Day wreath for your door!?" Psshhh, no. No way in hell. Except that was then, and this is now, and the Brooke of Now has a wreath pinned for just about every season of the year. Trust me, I hang my head in shame almost on the daily.

I present to you, dear readers, my Fall Wreath (picture taken in the dark on my porch):

I found the tutorial here, but I already had a Halloween (she made it for a shower, but it's totally Halloweeny, right?) wreath that I bought with a coupon at Joann Fabrics when I made my candy corn cones. Anyway, I bought a 12" round wreath (you're thinking "duh, wreaths are round," but the one in the tutorial is squared, smarty) and 8 rolls of ribbon, which is only half as many as the tutorial suggested. Because I didn't think to look at the tutorial while I was at the store. Anyway, I picked a variety of solids, patterns, gross grain and satin ribbons in chocolate and ivory. Actually, at first, I was going to go with really traditional fall - almost turkey-ish - and use brown, red, gold and orange. Only I realized I really didn't like the color combo much at all. I was in the ribbon aisle for about 45 minutes trying to decide and Dan even texted to see if I was alive.

So, chocolate and ivory in a variety of sizes, textures, and patterns. I followed the tutorial pretty exactly, except I would do one thing differently. The instructions said to do 5-6" lengths to use for the loops, but I got kind of distracted with wine TV and some of mine are a little long. Of course, the longer loops are the ones I'm not as happy with. So definitely stick to consistency in the loop cutting. I don't know how the Blue Eyed Bride went about placing hers on her wreath, but I started with the thickest grossgrain ribbon that I had the most of, sort of evenly spacing them on my wreath so I wouldn't bunch them all in one area and totally neglect another. Then I moved on to the second kind of ribbon, then the third, and so on and on and on. I did make sure to glue them down in different directions, so that was good. The only other thing I need to figure out the next time I do one is how to keep the the top layers from flattening out loops on bottom layers. I think the wreath looks fine in the picture, but in person, some areas are floofier (technical term). I also think my wreath came out pretty full, so I'm not sure where I would have put another 6-7 rolls of ribbon. Maybe start with 8 but have a couple extra in case you want to add more, but I really don't think you need 14 (at least for a 12" wreath).

So there ya have it, my latest Pinterest project.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Lunch Bag

Last week, on Tuesday, I went to go grab my lunch bag out of the break room refrigerator and found that it was missing. I was piiiiiissed. I usually have ice packs, but I'd forgotten to freeze them so I had to refrigerate it. Then I forgot it because it wasn't at my desk. So I was beyond peeved that someone had decided to steal it just because I'd forgotten it. Being the passive aggressive girl that I am, I left a note asking that it be returned and even left a little line about how the thief could check Target for one of their very own.

On Wednesday, just before I went home, I checked the refrigerator to see if I'd been taken seriously and lo and behold, my lunch bag was there! I couldn't believe it. Only, it had lunch meat and cheese in it. The audacity! I couldn't believe that someone would steeeeal my stuff and then bring it back to the scene of the crime and just go on like they owned it or something. So I took the bag, left the contents behind, and left another note saying that I appreciate the return of my lunch bag but that I was leaving behind the meat and cheese because "I don't take things that aren't mine." Nothing more was said about it, no one protested. The meat and cheese were taken home, and all was good.

And then...

Dan found mine. And I became a supreme a-hole. Ooooooopsies. So today, I returned the "stolen" lunch bag to the break room, along with an apology note and a Starbucks card as a peace offering. I've learned my lesson about jumping to conclusions.... and I'm done with notes. At least we got a good laugh out of it.