Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bark for Your Park

PetSafe is giving away $100,000 towards a new dog park.  One of the finalists is Plainfield, IN.  It would be so fun to have one here in town!  I just voted and you can vote every day until August 3.  If you get a second and want to vote, just click HERE
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Swinging at the Park

Yesterday morning it was slightly cooler than it has been, so we decided to take Miles to the park.  We did a little swinging, and he loved it!
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Vegetarian

I have been a vegetarian since Monday, July 25, 2011, a full six days.  After the girls weekend in Chicago, I decided it was time to give it a shot.  My stomach has been giving me issues for the past month or two.  It comes and goes, but my stomach was pretty upset while in Chicago.  I definitely needed to change a few things.  I have been running, which does help.  I don't want to have to take pills or something like that if my symptoms can go away with a change in my diet. 


Recently I scored The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone at a garage sale.  I haven't read it front to back, but have skimmed over it, reading highlights.  She makes a lot of interesting points in there that have kind of stuck with me.  Eating meat is so bad for the environment, your body, etc.  After reading it, I started questioning whether I should be eating meat every time I had it.  I just had to take the plunge and decide to try being a vegetarian.

I really don't know if this will stick or not.  If not, then I just hope to significantly cut back on the amount of meat that I eat.  So far I haven't really missed it.  I was eating meat for lunch and dinner every day.  I almost never had a meal without meat.  I do love me some bacon, so I hope I can find a good substitute! 

If you want to find some more information about this topic, you can take a quiz at the Peta site and see what you know.

I definitely recommend watching Food, Inc.  If you are worried about being grossed out, watch it!  Guess what?  It's reality.  It's gross.  It's hidden.  It's sick.  It will make you rethink the way you eat.  If you think, "Ignorance is bliss," it's really not.  It's your life, your body, your decision. 

Eating vegetables has never been my strong suit.  Over the last few years I have been more adventurous with my diet.  I still have a long way to go, but have an open mind (and mouth).  Haha.  Hopefully I can find some good recipes.  If you have any yummy veg meals, pass them on to me! 
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Books

I have really been slacking on reading/listening to books the last few months.  I have been getting back into it, though, and really enjoying it again.  I have been running in the mornings, and I listen to them when I run.  I also listen when I'm driving.  That is, if I'm not talking on the phone.  Listening while running makes them go faster, which helps me stay on track.  If too long goes between the times I listen, I get disinterested in the book.

I finished The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein a couple weeks.  It is told from the dog's perspective and very good!  It had me in tears a couple times. 


Just the other day I finished Under the Banner of Heaven:  A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer.  It tells of the evolution of The Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).  It also goes into the fundamentalist version of Mormonism.  I really knew nothing about Mormonism other than that some are polygamists (I love Sister Wives on TLC) and there are a lot in Utah. I know that this is just Mr. Krakauer's take on the facts, but it was an interesting read nonetheless.


Yesterday I started The Shack by William P. Young.  I'm only about 30 minutes in, but so far it's good!


What have you been reading?  Do you have any books to recommend?

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NKOTBSB

On Tuesday I hit up a NKOTBSB concert with this bunch.
Beth, Keriann, Regina, Me & Jade

Here is the stage all lit up!  It was awesome that they had the runway that they could walk down and then the stage down there.  When they were at that end, they were pretty close to us!

It was a really good concert!  I have a rekindled love for Donnie Wahlberg.  When I was five (give or take a year or two) I LOVED Joey.  I'm pretty sure at some time in my young age I switched to Donnie because I had a Donnie Barbie doll.  Haha! 
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Ooooooooooooooooooo

Miles makes this "O" face, which we love.  Sometimes he whistles on accident when he is doing it.
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Friday, July 29, 2011

Savemore.com

Have you heard of SaveMore.com?  I just saw it on the Shanty 2 Chic blog.  It's like Groupon or Living Social.  If you head over there now, put in your e-mail address and zip code, it will automatically give you a $10 credit.  Today's deal is for nail stickers.  You can get one set for $6, which would be free for you!  Or you can get three sets of nail stickers for $15, so only $5 for you.  Pretty sweet, huh?  I have been wanting to try these but don't want to fork over the cash.  I don't mind three sets for $5, thank you very much!

If you want to get in on this good deal, just click HERE.
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Sleeping Hard

The little man was sleeping hard before we got him up this morning.  He had a major handprint on his forehead!
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Miles and Baxter....Playing?

Miles is getting more and more vocal.  He really likes to get Baxter going, which is pretty easy.  I think the poor dog has pretty sensitive ears.  They will get going back and forth, then usually Baxter just does some long howls, followed by Herky joining in a little, then we try to make Miles stop.  It hurts our ears too!  You might want to turn your volume down a little for this one:)
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Corn fed

I've tried to give Miles corn on the cob before, but he didn't really chomp on it or anything.  Today, though, he went crazy with it.  He LOVES corn.  (An Iowan at heart!)

What happens when you take said corn away?

He had a little watermelon granita after this, though, so all was right in the world again!
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

45 Weeks

I am really late on this one.  We took the pic Monday morning, but I haven't had time to get it up here.  From here on out, we will be featuring toys in the pictures.  It's so hard to get him to sit still.  Even with a toy, it's hard.  Hence the slight blur to the pic.  Here he is holding on to one of his birthday presents we let him have early.  Theses trains were sitting on the counter when a meltdown ensued over being asked to sit nicely so we can take Miles' picture, so we let him have one. 
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Talking and Playing with Bink

After Miles and T.J. picked me up on Sunday, Miles had lots to tell me about his weekend.
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Painting the Town Red - Chicago Style

This past weekend I met some girlfriends in Chicago for a little weekend getaway.  It was so much fun!  What a nice little break from reality.  We chatted non-stop, had some good laughs, shopped, and walked a lot.

Sara, Jill & Jessica took the MegaBus from Des Moines to Chicago.  I wasn't sure until about the week before if I was going to do the bus or just drive.  I decided to do the bus, and I'm so glad I did!  The last time we were in Chicago was on a Saturday last winter, and there wasn't any traffic.  The traffic when we arrived on Friday was pretty bad.

So I finally bought my ticket.  I was scared because I didn't know what to expect with the bus and everything.  So T.J. took me downtown to drop me off, but we got there early.  He stopped near the bus stop.  I was telling him that since we were so early, maybe we should go around the block a time or two.  Mid sentence, he says, "There's Nancy and Regina."  Like it's just every day you see your friends sitting at the bus stop going to Chicago.  It was pretty crazy and a really nice surprise.  We were able to get a seat with a table, so we were facing each other and could talk on the way.

I got to Chicago a little bit earlier than the Iowa girls, so I hung out in a cafe near the stop.  Once they arrived, we checked into our hotel and then headed to Michigan Avenue area.
We went to the Hancock Building's Signature Room.  It's on the 95th and 96th floors, and has some awesome views! 
Drinks and appetizers were pretty pricey, so we just had a drink and a little something to eat and then went to Mike Ditka's for dinner.  Later we had drinks at a pizza place with a patio.  I can't remember the name of that, though.
The next morning we went down to have breakfast at the diner place in our hotel.  We thought we recognized someone at the table next to us.
It was Shawn Johnson!  She is Iowa royalty, and we were like 10-year-old girls asking for a picture.
We shopped a bunch, then went to Gino's East for some Chicago pizza.  We were there forever, but the pizza was so worth the wait.  It was yummy!
We shopped more and made our way over to Sprinkles Cupcakes.  While waiting in line, the people in front of us were freaking out because of who was there.  It was Candace Nelson who started Sprinkles and is a judge on Cupcake Wars on Food Network.  It was pretty neat to see her too!
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at Navy Pier.  We did lots of people watching, had dinner at Harry Caray's, and then watched the fireworks.

We were so lucky and had great weather!  It has been so hot lately, but it was nice and mild.  Sara was such a trooper being pregnant and walking all day and then hanging out for drinks at night.  I loved this weekend so much, and I can't wait to do it again next year!
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Barking Dog, Fans, HP, New Blog, Cards

As you can see from the title of this post, this is going to be a catch-all post.  I have a few things that I wanted to catch up on, so this is hopefully going to do just that.

Barking Dog
When Tom was here, we ventured out to The Barking Dog Cafe.  He saw it on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  If you go to the link, you can watch the clip of it on there.  They featured a BLT sandwich that I was going to get, but I chickened out.  I am picky and didn't want to not like it at all.  So T.J. got that and I got a burger.  The BLT was delicious.  So when we go back, that's what I'm getting!

Fans
Keriann and Derrick watched Miles for us the other night so we could have a little date night.  We got home, checked him out on the monitor, and saw it was over 80 degrees in his room.  His room is definitely the hottest in the house, followed by our room.  Both are above the garage and are on the west side of the house.  The afternoon sun pelts it and makes it HOT in there.  We got some blackout curtains for Miles' room when we had the time change, and that helped quite a bit.  But this week with the temps being so high, it is a little oven in there.

The next day we went to Menards to get some fans.  We got one for our room, the dining room, and an extra big round fan to blow upstairs.  The one at the bottom of the stairs really helps, but it's still pretty warm up there.  If we can't keep it cool, we might have use a window air conditioner.

Here is Miles riding in the car at Menards.
We only have one of the ceiling fans installed so far.  Here is a before.
I have started a picture wall in our bedroom.  It's in the beginning stages, but I like it so far.

I had to paint the ceiling a little where the other light had been.  Keriann was doing something standing on the bed and stepped off right into the paint can.  I was standing right there and caught her.  Don't ask me how, but not a drop of paint spilled.  Thank goodness!
Accident prone much?
Here is the after.

HP
T.J. and I had a date night on Sunday night.  We had dinner at Stone Creek Dining Company that's right by the theater.  We really liked Stone Creek.  It's fancy inside and yummy!  After dinner we went and saw Harry Potter.  It was so good.  I have read all the books.  Some of them multiple times.  For example, when book 5 came out, I reread books 3 and 4.  When 6 came out, I reread 4 and 5.  I read 7 when it came out.  I did a power read because I didn't want the ending to get spoiled.  Everyone was talking about it, so I couldn't watch TV or read anything online.  I really should have reread it before seeing the movie.  I remembered the main points, but not a whole lot else.  I heard the guy who did the audio books, Jim Dale, has won many awards for his work.  I might just have to listen to them this time.  That's a lot of hours!

New Blog
My sister, Keriann, started a new blog called Adventures of Keriann & Derrick.  Pop on over and say hi!

Cards
Keriann and I had a little card sewing extravaganza the other day.  I do love making these.  My scrap fabric bin was getting pretty full, so I wanted to use it all up making cards.  Yeah.  I made all these and it didn't even make a dent.  I might whip some more up soon to see if I can use up more scraps.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fiestaware

We are starting a Fiestaware collection. The dishes that we use now we got for our wedding, which was over 8 years ago. They have lived in 9 different places. CRAZY! We were really on the move. They haven't held up very well and are chipped pretty bad.

Fiestaware is on sale this week at Kohl's, so we got a good start on switching over to these dishes. Do you have these? Are you happy with them?


I think they are beautiful! All the colors are so fun. It will be fun to add to it and get lots of different colors.
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Uncle Tom is Here

Tom drove out yesterday. We ate some El Js for dinner, then hung out at home. Miles and Tom got some snuggle time in before bed.








This morning I was going to take Miles for a tractor ride. He knows what this is now when I say it because he proceeded to freak out until he saw the tractor. His legs have gotten longer in the last week, so his toes kind of drag. I put shoes on, but then they just got stuck by the wheel. We will have to keep putting him on it so he can learn to do it himself.

So we pulled out the motorcycle to go for a spin. The same neighbors we bought the tractor from gave this to Miles. It's a lot bigger, so his feet don't drag. And it's taller, so it's not so hard on my back to bend over. One thing is for sure, Miles loves going for rides!






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Friday, July 15, 2011

Big Helper

Miles wasn't so sure about the safety glasses we wore for sanding the barn boards.
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pizza Mac & Cheese

So before we get to the recipe I'm posting today, let me tell you about a few recipe busts we've had.  Last night we tried a tortilla soup recipe that was in People magazine.  It was okay, but nothing to write home about.  Or blog about either.  Earlier in the week T.J. got the itch to make some molasses cookies.  They were just okay too.  I think they're kind of bitter.  I can't put my finger on what it is, but I don't love them. 

And last but not least, the pulled pork sandwiches.  I have a recipe I want to try, but it's with leftover pulled pork.  So I figured we could have regular pulled pork sandwiches one night, then have this other fun recipe I found out of Food Network Magazine the next night.  So I found a pulled pork recipe in one of my cookbooks.  It called for boneless pork tenderloins, cook, then shred.  Well, it didn't really shred at all.  The flavor of it wasn't that great either.  Such a disappointment!  So if you have a yummy pulled pork recipe, please do share with us!

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On a higher note, this was quick, easy, and good.  How can you go wrong with pizza?

Pizza Mac & Cheese

7 1/4 ox. pkg. macaroni & cheese
2 eggs, beaten
16-oz jar pizza sauce
4-oz. pg. sliced pepperoni
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare macaroni and cheese according to package directions; remove from heat.  Add eggs; mix well.  Pour into a greased 13"x9" baking pan; bake at 370 degrees for 10 minutes.  Spread with pizza sauce; layer pepperoni and mozzarella cheese on top.  Return to oven until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.

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Uncle Tom is coming this weekend, so we made a few things to munch on while he's here.  We didn't do any new recipes, but might try a new sugar cookie recipe if we get a second.  We know it's good since I had them at a baby shower for Lydia.  You should go check out that link.  It was such a cute shower!

And to finish up this catch-all post, I think I will post a little video of Mr. Miles.  It's another long one, but I just loved it.  I have been trying to get this little laugh he does on video, but it's hard because every time I get out my phone, he stops doing it.  So I got him doing it in the middle.  You can see him playing with his bat and his top, two of his favorite toys.  Then he goes and plays baseball.  He is making more and more sounds and noises.  Maybe we will have a first word soon.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Top


One of Miles' favorite toys right now is this top.  A few months ago he loved watching it spin.  T.J. would get it going, and Miles would giggle and just love it.  It has since broke:(  But he still loves it.  He holds on to the handle and drags it around everywhere.
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Crunchy Corn Chip Chicken




Crunchy Corn Chip Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
10-3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1-1/4 oz. pkg. taco seasoning mix
2 c. barbecue corn chips, crushed

Arrange chicken in an ungreased 13"x9" baking pan; set aside.  Combine soup, one cup cheese, and taco seasoning together; spread over chicken.  Bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes; sprinkle with corn chips and remaining cheese.  Return to oven; bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes. 

This is from the Gooseberry Patch 5 Ingredients or Less cookbook.

This has been my favorite new recipe so far!  It is so easy and yummy!  It tastes like a taco in a bag but with chicken.  I used the Frito chili cheese corn chips.  We didn't top it with anything, but you could definitely top it with some lettuce, avocado, hot sauce, and/or sour cream.  Let me know if you give it a go.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nemo

This is kind of a long video.  We just wanted to get a video of him playing with Nemo.  He's Miles' favorite bath toy.  He holds on to him the whole time.  If for some reason he drops Nemo and he floats away, a minor meltdown will ensue until Nemo is safely returned to Miles' hands.

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Green Beans with Bacon & Garlic



Green Beans with Bacon & Garlic

6 slices bacon
1/4 c. butter
2 t. garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. green beans, cut into bite-size pieces and cooked

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; drain and crumble bacon.  Add butter, garlic, salt and pepper to skillet; continue cooking until butter is melted.  Place beans in a serving bowl; toss with bacon mixture and serve immediately.

This is from the Gooseberry Patch Country Quick & Easy 2 cookbook.


I am a fairly new green bean eater.  I like them at weddings with almonds.  If anyone has a recipe like that, could you please pass it along?  :)  This one was really yummy, though!  I love bacon and garlic, so how could I not like them.  I used 3 cloves of garlic.  We had an opened package of bacon with a little over half a package left, so I just used all that was left.  It as scrumptious!
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Barn Boards -- The Wall Art Project

Remember this post the other day introducing you to my barn board project?
Well, it's finally finished.  So here's how it went down.
We secured all the boards together using wood slats behind them.  I used wood glue on the slats, then screwed them down.
We had the hook placement all measured out, so they went in next.  This is how we're hanging this bad boy.
I wanted a little of this teal color to show through, so I did a quick coat of that.
I should also mention that we didn't have to buy any paint for this project.  This teal is an accent color throughout the house.

Then I painted this taupe color over the teal.  It's the same color that Keriann painted the back of the bookcase with.

After that was dry, I ran the sander over it to distress it.  I used 80 grit first, then 120 in a few places too.
Next I printed out some letters for "all you need is."  I drew out the "love" and cut it out.

I traced them with a pencil, then painted them yellow.  I had yellow from the bag games that we painted last year.  I added some brown to the yellow to tone it down a bit.  It's still pretty yellow.  I was hoping it would dry darker than it was, but oh well.

I sanded that, and this is what I came up with.





Drum roll, please!  Here it is all hung up and everything!  Ta-da!!
You can see the color scheme all working together (hopefully).


Here in the background you can see our teal wall.  And our new table and chairs!
Let me give you a proper introduction!  Here is our new dining room in all its glory.
We scored the table at Ikea for $68.  One of the end chairs was what I was using for an office chair, so we only had to buy one of those $80.  The other four chairs were a last chance item, and we got them for $30 a piece.  Not too bad a price at all for a new set that seats six.  The table extends out and is HUGE.  It barely fits in the dining room with both leafs in. 

Here is a shot showing the boards from the side.  They are nice and snug against the wall, leaving plenty of space to walk by without bumping it.


I tried to go outside to take a picture of what it looks like from out there, but my camera fogged over.  It is SO hot here today.  We were under a heat advisory all day and now are having storm warnings.  Hopefully it doesn't get too serious!

I love the boards!  I only wish that you could see the yellow a little better, maybe if it was darker.  I didn't want the letters to be brown, but that would have made it easier to read.  I just can't believe I finished a project.  Wahoo! 

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