Tuesday, October 28, 2008

For all of you crockpot nerds out there....

Nice to know I'm in such good company!

A friend of mine, Christie, over at the Frugal Living Forum suggested this crockpot blog. I think I'm addicted. It's absolutely fascinating! I can hardly wait to try some of the recipes. I'd already asked Santa to bring me a new crockpot for Christmas...what a coincidence!

...now I need to ask him for one of the 'Little Dippers' so we can have Fondue Friday at home!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Football Day in America...or at least in TO

Saturday, Kevin and I headed out to TO to take in one of D's football games. What fun! We had a great time sitting on the sidelines cheering on # 2-5.

Well, at least I sat on the sidelines - Kevin was enlisted to be part of the 'chain gang'. It started out that Bill and Kevin were the chain gang.

Then apparently P was enlisted, too, and it was Kevin and P.

In either combination, they make a good looking chain gang - don't you think?
We had a really fun time. GO VIKINGS!! (and yes, they won!)

The First Annual FA Chili Cook-Off

This past Friday night we had a great staff party: the First Annual FA Chili Cook-Off! We had a blast! I can't tell you how lucky I feel to work at such a wonderful place. Everyone there is just like family. It's a wonderfully warm, close knit group and we always have a good time together. New boss, old boss and the usual cast of characters.

Okay, so our chili didn't win the cook-off. There's always next year. And honestly, Doug does make a pretty mean chili! Thanks, Linda and Jerry, for hosting our little get together. Your home and yard were truly meant for entertaining!

The Doors

No, not those Doors...these doors:

Mom and dad had new bi-fold doors made for their bedroom closets. The doors looked great! ...but everything around them - all of the woodwork - looked dull by comparison. Enter: Kevin. Kevin painted all of the woodwork around the doors to make everything look cohesive. Now, if only we could convince mom and dad that the walls need to be painted, too!

(Great job, Kevy!)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ten Pounds Down

Me and the Wii...we're getting along muuuuch better these days. In fact, we're celebrating the fact that I've lost 10 pounds. Yeah, I know - it doesn't sound like much. But it is. Really! To be honest, it's not all because of the Wii. It's also due to the fact that Kevin and I have been much more conscientous about how and what we eat. However, we'll keep that our little secret and make it think that it's done all the work. The things we do for relationships, eh?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reaching our goal! ...by default

Well we did it - we reached the goal for our house savings! And even before the end of the year! I must admit though, we kind of reached the goal by default. I had a small account at a brokerage firm that's been there for a long time and really hasn't done much of anything - one way or the other. It's money that I received from a former employer years ago and I just kind of plopped it in this account. With everything losing so much money over the past months, we decided that it might be a good idea to cash out this account and have some extra cash on hand should we need it.

Since we don't need it, and the plan is to save as much money as we can for the house, we went ahead and put the lump sum into our house account. I must say...I just love looking at the amount in that account! Even before we put this extra cash in there, we both had an enormous sense of accomplishment at how much we were able to save...especially considering circumstances were less than optimal. Since I've been giving percentages of where we're at, here's the latest: 106.16% of our goal. YAHOO!!!

Now...on to set a new savings goal!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bistro Meal

Mmmm...beef bourginon! Nothing says fall like a big crock-pot of bubbling beef stew! That's what we're having for dinner tonight and I just love how wonderfully 'homey' it makes the house smell. We're trying to be good and cut down on a lot of the fat in our diet, so this dish is kind of a new one ... with reduced fat. I reduced the amount of meat in the dish and used 99% fat free beef broth. There is a touch of butter in there, but only one tablespoon to make the roux - much less than has been used in the past. I even found reduced fat bacon! And, as you can see, there are lots and lots of delicious veggies in there! Oh, and I thought I'd add some sun-dried tomatoes, too. They add a wonderful richness. Tonight's menu: crock-pot beef bourginon, red leaf lettuce salad with tomatoes, persian cucumbers and red peppers, and asiago cheese bread. For dessert: fresh sliced strawberries over chocolate angel food cake and a dollop of light whipped cream. YUM! I can hardly wait for dinner!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall Breakfast Spread

This morning we had a small gathering at our home and we provided some goodies for breakfast. By the time we finished setting everything out, it looked - to me at least - like the perfect fall breakfast spread! We had strawberries/blueberries/kiwi, bananas, scones, freshly baked pumpkin bread with a lightly sweetened cream cheese spread, crustless quiche, hard boiled eggs, pomegranate juice and lots of fresh, hot, strong coffee. Mmmmmm. Now that's a spread worth waking up early on a Saturday morning for!

And here's Slippers...just hoping that something might fall on the ground!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Workin' for a Livin'

YAHOOOOO!!! Kevin is now back among the fully employed! We are both so excited!

He'd interviewed earlier in the summer for SGUSD; he did not get that job, but we remained hopeful. About three weeks ago we saw another posting for a position at SGUSD; he applied and they called him in to test for the job. Since he'd already tested there earlier for the other position, he called to say that, if they still needed him to test, he'd be happy to do so, but he reminded them that he'd already tested there in June. They pulled the results and told him he was definitely qualified and they'd call him when interviews were being scheduled. This last Wednesday, he interviewed for the job. Friday morning they called and asked if he could come in for a second interview with the principal - which he did. They hit it off and had a great interview! She asked him to 'sound surprised when they call and offer you the job.' Sure enough, about two hours later they phoned from the district and offered him the job - which he gladly accepted. YAY!

Tomorrow morning he will go in to the district office and get all of the paperwork started. We're guessing he'll be starting the position by the end of the week. It's a middle school position similar to mine, but his position is a ten month position whereas mine is eleven. This is wonderful news! It means that we'll both be off all of the same holidays, 2 weeks for the winter break, a week in the spring, and we'll overlap for our summers off. There will be no worries if we can get this time off for vacation, or that time off for a weekend away -- we'll both be off at the same time!! While the pay is a bit less than what he was making before, it's definitely something we can live with -- especially since he'll have wonderful benefits and retirement.

It's been a long few months, and we're so grateful the dry spell is over!! Go Bulldogs!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Operation: Bucket 'o' Oatmeal

Kevin and I have been on an oatmeal kick recently. We both love it and, while not *terribly* time consuming to make in the morning, it does take a bit of time. The solution came one day when we were talking about making a batch in advance. That went over so well that Kevin decided to do it on an even grander scale; he called it "Operation: Bucket 'o' Oatmeal".

This particular operation yeilded no less than 12 sandwich sized baggies of oatmeal. YUM! Add a little brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans, and some 1% milk. Mmmmm. Now *that's* a good breakfast!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mom and Dad's Kitchen Update

After 6 long weeks...it's finally finished! Mom and dad's kitchen has been completely remodeled. You've seen the 'before' pictures. You've seen the 'during' pictures. And now...the 'after' pictures! Here they are:

Isn't it just beautiful? I absolutely love it! I know mom and dad do, too. Moreover, I know they're glad it's finally finished and they can have their kitchen back - sans work men!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Just a little update...

With all of the hoopla going on in the financial sector, we've not figured out yet where we stand with our own housing situation. The landlord still has our house up for sale and, until recently, it's not bothered me at all. However, within the last month, he's lowered the price three times (!) - which leads me to believe he's having financial difficulties. We're still not sure what will happen yet, but we've been putting little dribs and drabs of money into our house fund. With only 2 1/2 months to go, it seems unlikely that we'll reach our one year goal by December. That said, we're not going to miss it by too far!! We are currently sitting at 70.30% of goal so my guess is that we'll reach probably 85 to 88% of our goal. Not bad at all! Especially considering we doubled the amount we first thought of as a goal. So, in one respect, I guess you could say we met our goal and went far beyond. In the end, though, I'm glad we doubled the original amount; because we set our sights higher, we worked really hard at increasing our house savings every month. If we hadn't, we would have reached the initial goal, but probably wouldn't have made as much progress on furthering the amount we saved.

Sweeeeeeeeeet Caroline!!!

A few months ago for our anniversary, Kevin bought us tickets for the upcoming Neil Diamond concert at Staples Center. Well, last night was the concert. It was SO much FUN!! Kevin teased me about singing every song, but don't let him fool you...he was singing right along with me! Staples was packed to the gills - a fact that didn't escape Neil who asked to have the lights brought up so that he could see how many people were there. With the exception of a few seats that were blocked off because their would be no stage visibility, the arena was completely sold out.

It was great fun singing along to all of my favorite Neil Diamond songs. Well, me and 18,300 of our closest friends! Kevin commented before we left that we'd probably be the youngest people in the crowd. Again, don't be fooled. Every age group was represented in that large crowd - from grandmas all the way down to young children. And while the grandmas certainly recognized more Neil tunes than the younger crowd, there was definitely something for everyone...including 'I'm a Believer' which the younger crowd no doubt recognized from the movie 'Shrek'. (By the way - Joe, if you're reading this...because he thinks you look so much like Neil Diamond, Kevin said we went to see *you* in concert last night!)

Before heading off to the concert, we stopped first at the Original Pantry Cafe for bite to eat. Nothing fancy, just good comfort food...and lots of it. However, I didn't want Wii to have a Fit, so I was good and had coleslaw, bread and soup. Not exactly lo-cal, but certainly much better than other options on the menu. The result this morning: didn't lose anything, but didn't gain anything either. It was exactly the same as the day before. You can call me steady-Eddie. Kevin called me a brat =)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Me and the Wii

I'm happy to report that Wii Fit and I are getting along much better these days. Our relationship is still new - today was our eleventh day together - so we're still learning about each other. But I must say, it looks like our relationship will be a long and happy one. Yes, it still says 'OH!' when I step on the balance board, but, as with any relationship, there are things you just have to learn to overlook; this unfortunate trait is one. No matter. I've discovered many wonderful things about Wii Fit, and I'd prefer to dwell on these.

One thing, though, if you're considering a Wii Fit relationship of your own - don't be too thin skinned. You must remember, when it chastises you for not working out for a day, it only has your best interest at heart. At least that's what I keep telling myself.