Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Great Fridge Fiasco

For the past month I have been dragging my feet about buying a new refrigerator. Ours was still working, but just barely. The ice machine had broke, again, for the umpteenth time. I was getting tired of storing bagged ice in our already too small freezer and we go through too much to just keep up with ice trays. Plus, we could not keep the temperature regulated which resulted in me losing produce on a regular basis. It was 15 years old, so I couldn't see repairing it once again when there was nothing I liked about it anyway. 
I finally gave in and decided to pick one out. We had been looking for a month, but it was still hard to narrow it down. I narrowed it down to three, but what I really wanted was parts from each of them. After making the final decision, we were quite happy with our choice. That is, until the Great Fridge Fiasco really got under way. 
Arrangements were made for delivery of the new refrigerator and removal of the old (yay!) and I took the day off from work to prepare and receive. All those magnets had to be removed and this was the perfect opportunity to clean out the old stuff inside.
I filled the entire recycle bin with jars and plastic bottles. It felt better already.
All ready for delivery! However, when they did arrive, they asked me to come out to the truck. Odd. They needed to show me the damage (eek!) and did I want to refuse delivery? Uh, duh. It looked like someone took a box knife and cut it all up before finishing it off with a baseball bat. The customer service rep had the nerve to offer me $50 to keep it. If it would have been one little scratch or dent..maybe. This was so awful that I wouldn't have paid $50 total for it. Luckily, they had not taken my old refrigerator yet which left me to put everything back in again.
Next step, set up delivery of new refrigerator for the weekend. I had missed enough work. I thought this would be the end of the whole ordeal. Nope. This one wasn't damaged, but the delivery guys were just awful and were not happy having to speak to a (gasp!) woman. The main guy got mad at me for asking him to tighten up the handles. They were pulling loose from the door! After they left, I noticed that the doors weren't even. I figured I could fix that myself. Instead, I discovered that water was leaking everywhere. I was so angry by this time that I made the hubby call. What I didn't know was that the delivery guys called him back, not a repairman. Imagine my surprise when they showed up on my doorstep. I asked again for them to fix the doors, which they ignored. The gave me the choice of them calling in for service or delivery of a new refrigerator. I did not want these guys back in my house EVER again, so I chose repair. Of course, this meant another day from work. Groan....
This story does have a happy ending. The repairman was really nice. He fixed the leak and determined that the delivery guys damaged the water line during the installation. Plus, he fixed my doors. They are nice and even now. Guess who gets to pay for this? The delivery guys...I couldn't be happier.
Guess now I get to put the magnets back on...well, maybe only a few of them.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Lemon Grass Thai Kitchen

I was talking to someone about Thai food the other day when the Lemon Grass Thai Kitchen was mentioned. K1 and I had a mother/daughter day planned, so this was the perfect time to check it out.
We opted for their lunchtime buffet so that we could try everything out. I'm sure glad we did. There was lots to choose from and everything was so fresh! Plus, the whole place was really clean. Even the windowsills were free of any dirt or dust. A+! 
I don't typically eat fried food, but they had fried sweet potatoes that were just amazing. Notice the lack of sauce dripping around the plate? I was take that as a good sign on a buffet - I hate food cooked in bulk. However, this was not. They made it in portions and just kept bringing it out. This made it hot, fresh, and perfected cooked. 
For dessert we mainly stuck to the fresh cut fruit, but we did try these little sweet cookies. They were pretty good, but my favorite part of the meal was the Thai tea. I'm so addicted!
Heavenly!
We really enjoyed our lunch and plan on coming back again. If you are ever in the Brandon, Florida area, I highly recommend you check them out, too!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quilting - Day One


I like learning new crafts, but as a perfectionist, the initial process is very nerve wrecking for me. I have to constantly remind myself that it's ok for it to not be perfect - at least for the first time, ha! Onto getting this project started. You can check out my initial post about this project here.

Since I work full-time, I can only do a little at a time. Quilting actually is pretty perfect for this. It's all just piece work. I started by laying out my 2 inch wide strips and then pinning two together at a time, matching up the long edges and the right sides facing each other. 
Time to sew together after pairing all the strips up. This went rather quickly since it's just a straight stitch.
See how easy that is? If only sewing clothes were this easy.
Then I repeated with the rest of the paired strips.
After sewing all the pairs, it was time to pin together the strips again making it into one large strip of the four 2 inch strips.
Another easy straight sew down the long side.
Here they all are nice and ironed flat. My least favorite part. I really don't like to iron. Too bad polyester isn't still fashionable. Oh well, onto cutting these strips into squares.
I purchased a rotary cutter and self-healing mat because I thought it would make this project easier. Think again. It's a little tricky to figure out, but it does cut nicer than scissors once you get the hang of it. I finally did figure it out right about the same time as I finished cutting all my squares.
That's about as far as I can get in one night. It’s time to push it aside until the next time; hopefully tomorrow. I would like to have this whole thing finished by the time the weekend ends. The instructions ask for the quilts to be returned in 6 weeks or less, but I have lots of other projects I want to get to as well. Hope you all have a happy crafting weekend!
 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cheesy Tortellini

Ready for some cheesy goodness? This is it. I found it on the Eating Well website. I like trying different cheeses. They all have their own unique little flavor. This recipe calls for nutmeg and I keep finding recipes which pair this spice with non-sweet foods. It never sounds like it would work, but every time I'm surprised at how that spice brings out the other flavors. Ready to try this yourself?


Cheesy Tortellini
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk, heated
  • 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
  • 1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Put a large pot of water on to boil for cooking pasta.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add hot milk and bring to a simmer, whisking, until smooth and slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup fontina and nutmeg, stirring to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook tortellini until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse well.
  4. Combine the tortellini with the cheese sauce and toss. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup fontina. Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the tortellini.
  1. Bake the tortellini until golden and bubbly, 15 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Children's Quilt

Back in June (I know that was a long time ago) I found out about Quilts for Kids on the Make it and Love it blog. I really fell in love with the idea of making one of these quilts and Ashley makes it look so easy that I sent off for my free kit right away. I've never made a quilt before, so this will be a new adventure. Well, this weekend my kit arrived! It was all packaged up in a clear Ziploc bag.
All the material is pre-cut and it includes instructions for sewing together. The only thing that isn't included is the thread and batting. Lucky for me that it was coupon commotion time at my local Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store
Now I have all my materials and I plan on referring to Ashley's post to help me though this. I'll keep you updated as I make this little journey and maybe you'll want to make one of your own.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

TOT Training Week 16

Tower of Terror 10 Miler
Down to 10 more weeks until the runDisney Tower of Terror 10 milerI know last week I said I was contemplating joining a gym so that I could use the treadmill indoors, but I'm thinking that won't happen. The rain is supposed to be letting up, so it will just be the heat that I have to contend with. Not fun, but it's not going to be that much cooler in September, so I might as well learn to deal with it...for now.
 
I did run on the treadmill last weekend when I was visiting my parents. I had forgotten how different it is. I still prefer to be outside. It's easier to push myself further. When you have no choice but to finish, you do.
 
After the one day on the treadmill, K1 and I decided to get up early and hit the road. I needed to get a long run in after the week off for our beach trip. Hubby decided to sleep in, but after our run later in the week, I think he regretted that decision. It's so much harder to get back into the running grove when you take time off.

Georgia gets warm early and can be quite muggy, but we got out as early as we could drag ourselves out of bed. Luckily, the roads were empty and the route we ran was completely flat (whew). The roads are also lined with trees, so it gave us plenty of shade. Oh, I forgot to mention that they live on a swamp. Really. The bugs were in full force and attacking at every step. K1 was miserable from the bugs and the lack of running outside or for any distance in quite awhile. She was quite surprised when we completed 4 miles.
 
I let K1 end her run at that point while I refilled my water bottle and grabbed a quick bite of banana to refuel. 2 more miles would keep me on track with my training and I wasn't going to let a little heat or exhaustion keep me from hitting it, so I headed back out. I don't mind running solo, but I prefer to run with someone. What I didn't count on what that someone being a pack of wild dogs. There hadn't been any cars out all morning, but one did pass me. When I saw the three shadows up ahead, I just assumed that car hit an animal and the turkey buzzards were having a feast. As I got closer I realized they were wild dogs. I stopped dead in my tracks. Maybe that isn't the best saying for the moment - ha! I wasn't sure what I should do. I was afraid if I turned around an ran that they would chase after me. There were some rocks on the side of the road, so I picked some up and yelled at the dogs to go. I was hoping to not need the rocks, but I wanted to be prepared. After shouting at them a few times, they finally jumped a fence and ran over a hill. Whew!
 
I don't know how I convinced myself to keep running, because I really just wanted to turn around and go home to safety. Somehow, I just did. Not only that, I got another DR (distance record)! 7.11 miles under my belt. Less than three miles to my goal. I'm more confident than ever that I'll be able to finish the TOT race and with a decent time (for me). Little victories, it's what keeps me going. Who knows? Maybe I'll even consider a half marathon some day. And yes, dad, I'll take the pepper spray next time I decide to go by myself.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spinach, Ricotta, and Tomato Calzones

There are so many really good food blogs out there today that sometimes it is hard to choose which ones to follow. However, one in particular has caught my eye. Good Life Eats has some really good dinner ideas which are usually simple enough for me to make. I had my eye on this particular recipe for awhile, but thought it might be too difficult for me to just whip up for dinner. What was actually the most difficult was finding all the ingredients. It must be popular, because the yeast was sold out. I think even with my substitutions, this turned out pretty good and I would even make it again. Even though I couldn't find the pizza crust yeast, I found that Chef Boyardee has a pizza mix which worked out perfectly in a pinch.
This particular recipe is also perfect for freezing. There really wasn't enough with the shortcut mix to freeze, so I just halved the recipe. This was also my first time working with sun dried tomatoes, so I really had a lot of experimenting to do with this dinner. I found that I really liked working with pizza dough. It doesn't stick as much as cookie dough or pie crusts, so my planning for was unnecessary. I used a plastic bowl lid that was about the size that I needed to roll out and I just spread my portioned dough out onto. Easy peasy! 
You can really add whatever fillings you would like. My hubby wasn't too thrilled that I was putting in spinach, but he didn't complain while eating it. Maybe we will try a mushroom filling next time. I love the creamy ricotta cheese and it's easy to keep this fairly healthy. Serve it up with some tomato sauce (Italian style!) and you're done! I think I need some fancy bowls for dipping sauces, don't you? See below for my quick version or head over to Good Life Eats for the full recipe.



Spinach Calzones with Ricotta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
makes 4 calzones - serves 4
Ingredients:
Chef Boyardee Pizza Crust mix

Spinach Calzones
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 tablespoons fresh basil, optional
1/4 - 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
24 slices pepperoni (6 per calzone), cut into quarters

Directions:
For the Calzone Crust:
Follow directions on box. Let stand for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, whisk in the olive oil. Dough should be soft and moist, but not sticky. Dough does not need to rise, but keep it covered while you mix up the filling.

For the Calzones:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and beaten egg. Stir well. Fold in the spinach, basil (optional), and sun-dried tomatoes.
Divide dough into 4 equal portions and roll them into balls. It helps if you have a kitchen scale.
Roll each ball into an 8 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Top each circle with approximately 1/2 cup of ricotta mixture. Then add 6 slices pepperoni (cut into quarters) to each calzone. Pull edge of lower crust over top to form a half circle. Press the layers together to seal.

Transfer calzones to a greased baking sheet or a parchment lined pizza stone. If desired, brush with olive oil or an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, beaten). Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-20 minutes, until browned and puffy. Transfer to cooling rack to keep bottom crust crisp to sit until cool enough to handle. Serve with marinara sauce or other sauce for dipping.

Note: To freeze - cool completely, then store in a freezer safe ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven or toaster oven at 300 degrees F.


Monday, July 16, 2012

New sites

There are so many really cool web sites out there. A little something for everyone. Every once in awhile, one or two of these niffy little places fall into my lap. I like finding stuff that I didn't know I was looking for.
www.sewset.com
The first one was for SewSet. It's like it's own Pinterest board for sewers. You can free and near free patterns for lots of different projects. It's still new, so it will be growing quickly. 
www.pinalerts.com
Speaking of Pinterest, the other site that came to me today was about that. PinAlerts notifies you when someone pins from your website or blog. Cool, huh? It's not particularly useful for me, but it is neat to see that people are pinning my stuff. I guess it does help me see what my readers are interested in.

What the best part about these sites? Go check them out! They are both FREE. My favorite word. What cool sites have you found?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mug cozy


Here's a cute, simple pattern that works up quickly and makes a great gift! You can get as creative as you want and this is a good way to use up that leftover yarn. Plus, this cozy give you a built-in coaster.
Materials:
- Cotton yarn
- Size H8 - 5 mm crochet hook
- Button that is 1" in diameter
- Needle

Rnd 1: 6 sc into an adjustable ring and pull the ring closed (6).
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each sc around (12).
Rnd 3: [Sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc] 6 times (18).
Rnd 4: [Sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc] 6 times (24).
Rnd 5: [Sc in next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc] 6 times (30).
Rnd 6: [Sc in next 4 sc, 2 sc in next sc] 6 times (36).
Rnd 7: working in back loops only, sc in each sc around (36).
Rnd 8: sc in each sc around (36).
Row 9: ch 1, turn, sc in next 32 sc, ch 1, turn (32).
Rows 10-19: sc in each sc across, ch 1, turn (32).
Continue to sc evenly along the opening for the handle until to reach the top of Row 19 on the other side of the opening. Ch 18 (this forms the loop that goes around the button).
Row 20: Continue to sc in first sc on Row 19 and sc in each sc across (32).
Finish off and weave in ends.
Sew on button.
If your mug is a different diameter, you can easily make it smaller or larger by added or deleting rounds when making the bottom. If your mug is shorter or taller just adjust the number of rows that you make, fitting the cozy around the mug every so often as you work.
Alternatively, you can also change the location of the button to the middle and you would then just do a complete joining round instead of turning your work when you get to the top.
Have a happy crafty weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

TOT Training Week 15

I can't believe there are only 11 more weeks to go until the runDisney Tower of Terror 10 mile run. I'm feeling more confident in finishing now, but how strong of a finish is still up in the air. The weather in Florida has been hot, humid, and WET. Running in the rain isn't a big deal, but our rain is usually accompanied by lightening. Luckily, this has only meant me missing a few runs or just going out later. 

Briefly I have even contemplated joining the gym to use the treadmill, but it hasn't come to that yet. I don't mind the treadmill, but it's not my favorite. It's too easy to quit or get bored. If I force myself away from the house, then I'm forced to find my way back again. I fall for that trick every time.

During week 13, I completed a new DR (distance record) of 6.26 miles. Not only did I complete it, but I did it alone. My running partner bailed on me half way through and even though I wanted to quit, I'm proud of myself for finishing.

I missed my long run this past weekend because of our trip out of town, but I think a break was a good idea. We (the whole family plus 1 good friend) also signed up for the Color Run in December, so I'm excited for that. I'm really looking forward to fall and all the races that will be popping up.

Another trip is planned for this weekend, so we will see if I can get some running in. Just need to dodge those rain drops!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas

If you are on Pinterest, you have probably seen this one many times. I know I have. "According to many pinners-THE BEST white chicken enchilada recipe ever!! And no creamed soups" is what the comments read. Ok, it caught my attention. So I decided to give it a whirl.

If anything, this was super easy to make. I already like to put sour cream on my enchiladas, so this recipe puts it in the dish which helps me not overdo it on top. I was expecting this dish to be spicier than it actually turned out to be. I may even try kicking it up a notch next time. As for the taste, if you have ever has the white queso dip at a Mexican restaurant, this is a very similar taste. It’s very creamy. If you don’t like a cheesy taste, then steer clear of this dish. This is NOT a problem in my house.
You can find the recipe on Pinterest here, or you can head over to Joyful Mommas Kitchen blog. I’ve made it even easier on you and posted it below.

Chicken enchiladas with green chili sour cream sauce
10 soft taco shells
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan
2. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Roll up in tortillas and place in pan.
3. In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly. 
4. Stir in sour cream and chilies. Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream.
5. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Captiva Day Two

And now (In my best Paul Harvey voice) for the rest of the story. Low tide is the best time for shelling, so we were determined to get out early to meet the tide and beat the other shell gatherers. After a quick breakfast and some strong coffee, we walked through the marina to see the boats.
There were boats of every size docked here and each one looked like so much fun. A few were already out and ready to hit the open sea.
Who can resist when you have beautiful waters like this?
This is why I prefer the Gulf waters to the East coast. I like to see what I'm stepping on before it gets me. I'm only partially joking. I did happen to step on what I think was a stingray on a previous trip. Scared the living daylights out of me.
Aren't we cute? My hubby is always humoring me with my photos for this blog. He's good sport.
I thought I would surprise him with this sand art while he was out gathering shells since this was supposed to be a romantic getaway. He didn't even see it until I showed him the pictures later.
Now for my two favorite parts of the trip. Sanibel and Captiva always have something new for us. A few years ago, it was finding live starfish for the girls to hold. 
This time, it was the manatees. I had never seen a live manatee outside of captivity, so this was a real treat for me. We had seen a few in the marina earlier and were just thrilled. Later, while picking up shells on a sand bar, my hubby called my name and pointed out what came up in front of me. Not more than five feet away were a mama manatee and her calf. 
If you look just to the right of the manatee here, you can see her baby swimming right beside her. It was just amazing. We just stood there watching them for about twenty minutes and they rolled through the waters. 
They didn't seem to mind us being there, but as more people came out to the beach and into the waters, they made their way out of the area. We stayed a few hours gathering shells and enjoying the peaceful setting before heading back to our room to pack up.
This little guy came to say goodbye to us. Wasn't that sweet? Now it was time to hit up our favorite place on the way out of town.
Island Pizza is our all time favorite place to go on the island. We always order the "Islander" pizza. I'm not sure what makes it taste so much better than any other pizza we have had, but it is. 
It's impossible for us to not go when we visit. I'm sure we will be back again soon. Even though it was only for one night, I felt much more relaxed than when we arrived. The islands have that kind of effect on you. If you ever get the chance to go, you should. We are already trying to plan our next getaway there.