Friday, February 26, 2010

Menu 2/27 - 3/12

Okay, hot off the press - here's the menu for the next two weeks:

2/27/09 thru 3/12/09

Saturday 2/27 – ground beef taco salad, guacamole
Sunday 2/28 – pork chops, baby squash, potato pancakes with sour cream and chunky apple sauce
Monday 3/1 – Asian beef with baby bok choy, spring rolls
Tuesday 3/2 Рgrilled chicken breasts, baby new potatoes with butter and fresh parsley, saut̩ed fresh spinach
Wednesday 3/3 – antipasto platter: cheese, salami, olive tapenade, sundried tomato tapenade, thinly sliced garlic-rubbed baguette
Thursday 3/4 – hamburger patties, orzo with fresh parsley and lemon, green beans
Friday 3/5 – tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
Saturday 3/6 – Kevin has a college game at Mt. SAC; I’ll go watch and we’ll get a bite to eat afterwards
Sunday 3/7 – meatloaf, mashed potatoes, spinach/peas
Monday 3/8 – Napa cabbage salad with chicken & mandarin oranges, Il Fornaio rustic rolls
Tuesday 3/9 – stuffed shells with Italian sausage marinara, garlic bread
Wednesday 3/10 – flank steak, grilled veggies, baked potatoes, tossed green salad
Thursday 3/11 – BBQ chicken wings, coleslaw, BBQ beans
Friday 3/12 – Costco for a pizza run

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Birds of Prey

Each year, our seventh grade students are treated to a wonderful assembly: we have a falconer who comes to school, with several of his birds of prey (a great horned owl, a ferruginous hawk, and a falcon), and puts on a demonstration. I've always heard that it was a really amazing assembly, but in the thirteen years I've worked here, I've never attended. Well today, I decided to go to the assembly.

All I can say is: WOW!!

Talon (no kidding!), the man who performs this assembly, has a whole routine for the assembly. He dresses as a Scotsman - accent and all - and talks to the kids about what exactly 'Birds of Prey' means - what types of birds they are, what they prey on, how their trained - it's really quite interesting.

...then, he does a demonstration.

He asks for 10 volunteers from the audience - all students, of course. Then he asks for two staff volunteers. Well of course, one of our teachers volunteered me since I was a 'newbie'. All volunteers assemble on the stage forming two lines facing each other. A hawk's wingspan is three feet, so we're asked to stand 4 feet apart. Once in position, he has the hawk fly down the center! It was AMAZING! Then ... one side takes a step closer. Once again, the hawk flies down the center. We were actually brushed by the hawk's wings as it flew through! Now I ask you, how cool is THAT? Once again, one side takes a step closer. Of course everyone thinks that the hawk can't possibly fly through now, but it certainly looks as if they're going to direct him to do so. We were all a bit breathless waiting to see what would happen. He lets the hawk go and ... it walks right down the center - kind of like the Virgina Reel =)

It was quite an experience. The birds were all magnificent! Absolutely amazing creatures. I can hardly wait until next year's assembly. I work in such an amazing place!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

I'm going to leave it up to you to decide if I'm 10 months early, or two months late ;o)

Here are the Christmas canisters I've been working on:

The (mostly) Golds
The (mostly) Reds
The (mostly) Blues
The (mostly) Greens
I'm having a difficult time deciding. Which one is your fave?

Some things I've been working on ...

Among other things, here are some photos of a few craft projects I've been working on.

The first project began on Peanut Brittle Making Day (it's not a national holiday, just a family holiday ;o), but was put on the back burner until recently. I'll take photos today of the Christmas canisters I made, but these spring cuties were finished first, so they get posted first:
These guys are just different types of containers (coffee, oatmeal, cocoa, etc.) that are covered in pretty papers and embellished with stickers and such. They're super easy, fun to make and make great gift containers for food (cookies, candies, snacks, etc.) or small gift items (scarves, notecards, etc.). They're frugal, too, as long as you find your craft supplies inexpensively. Oh yes, and collect your containers from friends and co-workers =)

Next is cupcake picks. These are so fun to make! Having found those tins of die-cuts, I wanted to find something to do with them beyond scrapbooking and card making. I think this fits the bill. I just love how they turned out - each one is different - and I love all of the colors!! Today I'll start using the cute heart die-cuts that I found and begin making those into cupcake picks, too. I can hardly wait to see how they turn out! Stay tuned...

Mr. Handsome in his new Dodger tie...

Kevin received this tie as a gift for his birthday. What do you think, Deb, doesn't he look handsome?He says 'thanks again for the tie!'

Friday, February 19, 2010

Roasted Banana Gelato

Oh.My.Goodness. If thou hast one, get thee to a Fresh & Easy -- NOW. Once there, meander over to the frozen section. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Yes, right there. That's right.

Now, cruise down the aisle looking at alllll of the delightful goodies. Why yes, that is a bag of 8 Il Fornaio rustic rolls for just $1.59 -- why do you ask? Grab a bag and keep going. Wait. Now slowwww down. Riiiiight THERE! Stop!! At this very moment, you should be standing in front of the Heaven on Earth section that contains ice creams, sorbets and gelatos. Mmmmmm ... gelato!! Do you see all of those wonderful choices? Tough decision, right? I hear ya. However, may I make a small suggestion? Pick up that container -- the one just to the left. YES, that's it! Now read the label ... see that? You read it right. ROASTED BANANA. That's right - roasted banana gelato. Do yourself a favor (okay, realistically it's more of a favor for your taste buds than it is your hips, but still ...) and put that little pint of Heaven in your basket. Good.

Now, go to the scanner and check out the rolls, the gelato - and any other goodies you may have found along the way. Pay the nice machine and scoot out the door. That's it ... good. Now, unless you have a spoon right there in the glove box, get thee home as fast as you can (if, however, you have said spoon, by all means, feel free to indulge right there in the car).

Are you home yet? Good. Now, head over to the utensil drawer and select your favorite ice cream spoon. You know - the one you use every night for that delicious, ice cold scoopy. Yes, that's the one. Leave the rest of the goodies in the Fresh & Easy bag (they'll understand - they've done this before) and tear the lid off that little pint of Roasted Banana gelato. (You hear it, don't you? It's calling your name...) There, that should do it. Now take your spoon and dance it across the top - that's right ... get a nice little spoonful. Good. Now ... open your mouth, insert the spoon and .... SAVOR THAT DELICIOUSNESS!!

Is that one of THE best things you've ever tasted in your life? YES?!

Mmmhmm ... we thought so, too!


That's what I am with K&Company craft products! Each one is cuter than the next. Case in point: I found these today at the 99 Cents Only store: I'm dreaming of all kinds of fun things I can do with these adorable die-cuts. Ahhhh, the possibilities are endless!

If one package is good, six are better - right? Hey, they're 99 cents each - it's a splurge I think I can afford ;o)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When out from the kitchen there came such a clatter...

While sitting here at the computer, I heard what I thought was Daisy outside eating her dinner.

'Boy,' I thought to myself, 'she sure is a noisy eater tonight.'

The sounds continued and were so loud that I just had to go and see what the heck she was doing out there. Guess what? It wasn't Daisy... What I saw when I looked out the window were two full-sized raccoons. I banged on the window and they glanced at me over their shoulder as if to say 'Yeah, so what?'.

Kevin heard me and came running to find out what was going on. He saw them out there, opened the back door (protected by a heavy screen, of course!) and began yelling at them and banging on the screen. They finally sauntered away into the ivy. Kevin got a pan and one of his drum sticks and went outside to make a racket and scare them off for the night. He said he could see their eyes staring at him; he began making a lot of noise and they finally moved into the shadows a bit more. Little nuisances! You can still hear them chattering away up there.

They may be cute, but they are mean critters that I wouldn't want to have a showdown with. They're much cuter when kept at a nice, safe distance.

... not to mention far away from Daisy's food!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Four Best Words in the English Language

Pitchers and catchers report.

... at least they are for some ... right Kevy? ;o)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Meal Planning

For about the last four years, I've been creating two-week meal plans for us. Really it's just for dinner as breakfasts and lunches are really easy and don't require much of a plan. I've really discovered first hand that creating the plan - and sticking with it (at least for the most part!) - is both a huge time and money saver.

I do a two week menu because it seems to be easier for me; if I do it for only one week, having to create a new menu seems to come around too fast. Two weeks seems to be about the right amount of time. Having the two week plan allows me to look ahead a bit and stock up on any sale items that we may be using in the next two weeks. Also, I plan from Friday to Saturday because Saturday is generally when I do our grocery shopping.

To keep it fresh in my mind - and to keep me accountable - I'm going to try and remember to post my menus here every two weeks. It's a bit late for this two week round, but here it is anyway:

2/13 - 2/26

Saturday 2/13 - hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad
Sunday 2/14 - roasted prime rib, twice baked potatoes, sauteed fresh spinach (HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!)
Monday 2/15 - roasted garlic chicken, roasted veggies (baby carrots, cauliflower, onions and Brussels sprouts), mashed potatoes
Tuesday 2/16 - French dip sandwiches (using leftover prime rib) with caramelized onions on crusty rolls, cut-up veggies
Wednesday 2/17 - spaghetti with Italian sausage marinara, garlic bread
Thursday 2/18 - scrambled eggs, bacon or sausages, bagels with cream cheese
Friday 2/19 - chicken tortilla soup (using leftover chicken), corn bread
Saturday 2/20 - both Kevin and I will be out for the day so we'll grab a bite out somewhere
Sunday 2/21 - pork roast, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce
Monday 2/22 - Kevin has a meeting and will have dinner there; I'll most likely have peanut butter toast
Tuesday 2/23 - pork stirfry (using leftover pork roast) with lots of veggies over a bed of rice
Wednesday 2/24 - chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn
Thursday 2/25 - Monte Cristo sandwiches (using leftover French toast from Sunday morning), cut-up fresh fruit
Friday 2/26 - frozen pizza (doctored up with lots of fresh veggies) (we normally don't eat frozen pizza, but it was free so ... )

Well, there you have it. Hopefully I'll remember to post the next two weeks when it's time. If not, feel free to remind me!

All Ready for Next Year

Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, the Maxwell women make peanut brittle. We've done it for years - it's a time honored tradition.

Different years we've had problems finding the type of peanuts we use (raw Spanish peanuts) and, if you could locate them, often times they were priced so outrageously, we didn't make as much peanut brittle as we may have if the ingredients hadn't been so expensive.

This past year, however, luck was with us: the peanuts were both plentiful, easy to find and quite reasonably priced.

Flash forward to today. Among our other errands for today's holiday day-off, Kevin and I went to the grocery store and, right at the front of the produce department (always my first stop ... what can I say? I'm a creature of habit!) was a display of assorted nuts. The very same raw Spanish peanuts we bought for peanut brittle at Thanksgiving - that we'd paid $3.99 per pound for - were on sale for just (drum roll, please ...) 99 cents per pound!

Now THAT's a deal!

Because they freeze so well, I went ahead and stocked up; we bought 10 pounds for a grand total of $9.99 versus $39.99 for the same amount when they were full price. YAHOO!

... I just love finding a great deal =)

More Great Crafting Deals!!

You may remember a few weeks ago when I was at the 99 Cents Only store I came across a great deal on tins of K&Company die cuts. They normally run about $15.00 at Michael's!! They had five tins and I bought all five (I've been making some fun things with them too! ... more on that another time.)

Well last week while I was at Tuesday Morning picking up the non-slip hangers, I thought I'd just take a quick peak in their craft section to see if they had anything fun. I'm so glad I did!! I found several great pads of scrapbooking/crafting paper - also from K& Company. I was almost afraid to look at the price. Not because I thought it would be outrageous (like it is when you pay full-price for it), but because I thought I'd fall in love with the patterns and still not want to pay the discounted price. But I risked it and looked: $1.99 per pad!! Are you kidding me?? I snapped up my three faves and left the store before I could do any more damage.

When I brought it home, I checked out the K&Company website just to see what they had it listed for. I was shocked ... one of the very same pads that I'd just paid $1.99 for was selling for $19.99!! It's this one - which I absolutely love! It's Christmas paper, but not in your typical reds and greens - it's so sweet! The other two were not listed on the site, so they may have been discontinued. However, similar items at the site sell for between $9.99 and $12.99. One of the items is called 'Party in a Pack'. It's great! It's a Thanksgiving themed pad that has die-cuts for napkin rings, favor boxes, wine glass charms, tons of fall leaves, children's placemats with word searches and other activities and even a darling pumpkin centerpiece that you can embellish with either fresh or silk fall flowers and ribbon.

I just can't believe all of the wonderful deals I'm finding out there. I've got so many craft projects running through my head, I'm wondering when I'm going to have time to make them all! I'm hoping for a few more rainy weekends so that I can at least make a dent in them.

Hmm ... of course, there's always spring break ...

Sweet Georgia Brown

In early January, mom and dad asked if we'd be interested in seeing the Harlem Globetrotters. Absolutely!! Kevin had seen them one time, I'd never seen them and neither had Debbie, Bill or the boys. Mom and dad thought, since they were coming to town, that it would be fun if we all went together to see them play. They were reminiscing about attending a Harlem Globetrotters game ... it was mom and dad's second date =)

As luck would have it, we had tickets for this past Saturday - which also happened to coincide with a long 4-day weekend (well at least for Kevin and I and the boys -- Deb and Bill still had to work. Sorry guys!), so Kevin and I thought it would be fun to pick up the boys on Friday, go out and have some fun for the day, have them spend the night, then we'd all meet up at the game. We thought it might a lot more fun for the boys than going to school with Deb since it was a holiday for them. Somehow sitting at school when you're off doesn't sound like an ideal holiday. Go figure!

Sooo ... we picked the boys up around 10:30 on Friday. On the way back, we stopped at Grandma and Papa's for a short visit, then we headed off to Panera for a bite of lunch. Afterwards, we headed to AMC where we watched 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief'. What a fun adventure!! Kevin, Drew and I loved it! Pat liked it, but decided that he still liked the book better. We came home to relax for a bit and then, for dinner, we decided to check out our new Sonic. It was a hit! The boys were thrilled! It was fun to go to the drive-in and have the rollerskate-clad waitresses bring dinner to the window on a tray. The food was yummy, too! We all had a blast. After that it was home for a bit of Wii action, then, reading and bedtime.

Saturday morning we got up and met Grandma and Papa at iHop for breakfast. That was fun, too! The boys were excited about the game in the afternoon and we all had fun chatting. We headed to Anaheim about 11:30 and met Deb and Bill at our seats. It was so much fun to watch the Globetrotters play! They really did a great job of playing to the crowd and involving all of the kids. Everyone laughed and enjoyed watching the stunts throughout the game. Afterwards, the Lala's went on their way and Kevin and I headed home.

What a fun start to a wonderful 4-day weekend! Thanks, mom and dad, for treating us to a Harlem Globetrotters game! We had a wonderful time ... and I couldn't help but think of you guys out on your second date all those years ago =)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Go Saints!

Woo Hoo!! We were thrilled with the outcome of the Superbowl! Saints win - YAHOO!!

We got together with some friends to watch the game on Sunday and we were responsible for bringing dessert. Kevin suggested that we find someplace that sold pralines. Better yet, I suggested, let's make them! Oh MAN were they delicious! And oh, so easy to make. Here's a little peak to tempt you: Here's the recipe:

New Orleans Pralines

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light cream
1 ½ cups pecans, halved
2 tablespoons butter
Combine sugars and cream in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until mixture forms a thick syrup.

Add pecans and butter and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Remove sauce pan to a heatproof surface (such as a wire rack) and let cool for 10 minutes.

Use a tablespoon to drop rounded balls of the mixture onto sheet wax paper or foil, leaving about 3 inches between each ball for pralines to spread. Allow to cool.

Makes about 12 candies. (We doubled the recipe to have extras to share!)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Dog Days

Poor Miss Slippers. She's had a bit of a harrowing week I'm afraid.

Sunday night we noticed that she was starting to limp. Nothing major - just 'a little hitch in her giddyup' as Kevin says. By Monday morning, however, she really couldn't walk on her leg at all. Normally, she's right next to me when the alarm goes off and she's more than rarin' to go for her walk. But on Monday? She didn't even want to move, let alone go for a walk. She didn't even have the strength or energy to lay down on her favorite spot: the couch. Kevin pulled her bed into the living room and she rested there.

I called the vet and made an appointment to take her in that morning. By the time we got home to pick her up for the appointment (Kevin and I both wanted to go), she was walking a bit better, but still not great. Without so much as examining her, the vet suggested that she 'may need knee surgery'. Huh? Ummm....doc, if you look in her records you'll see that she has a history of arthritis. We've done this before. I suggest to the vet that, because this isn't new for her, perhaps we could try the medication she's gotten in the past. If that doesn't work, then we can look at something else. The doctor thinks that, at the very least, she needs blood work. Sure, fine. No problem. Then, if we can have her prescription for Zubrin, we'll be on our way. Doc thinks that another medication will be better. I remind her that Slippers has a very sensitive tummy and can't handle certain medications. Oh this will be great for her, swears Doc. Hmmmm. We'll see. So ... 90 minutes and $300.00 later, we're walking our baby back home.

By Monday night, Slippers is much better! She's walking better and seems to be back to her old self. For a day or so anyway. Then ... she throws up. Poor thing! Hmmm ... wonder if it could be that medication ... Let's try stopping it and see if she recovers. Well what do you know? No medication. No throwing up. No limping. Just a normal, albeit somewhat overweight and arthritic dog. Huh. Who would have thunk it? Oh wait a minute ... I thunk it!

While I admit I don't have a veterinary degree, I do know my dog. I wish that vets would realize that when you take your pet in for an appointment. You might not know everything, but you do know somethings. Grrrrr.

The bottom line, though, is that she's feeling MUCH better and we're very happy to have Slippers healthy and back to normal. She even celebrated today by getting a bath, nail trim and haircut! ... though, honestly ... she'd much rather have been laying on the couch =)

The Big Changeover

Tis the season - it's been raining cats and dogs again since last night. At the moment, all is quiet, but they say we're in for another 2 inches this afternoon and throughout the night. As much as we do need rain, it's beginning to be a bit destructive for those who live in the burn areas. Overnight there were many mud slides and things in the foothills are not going so well today. A prayer goes out to those who are effected.

Because it's a really rainy day, it's definitely an indoor day. I'm happy to have one of those because I'm catching up on something I've been wanting to do for quite a while and just haven't made the time for. I'm sorry to disappoint you - it's nothing all that exciting ... but it's definitely one of those little simple pleasures that make your life easier and you don't even really think about it.

What is it? Today, I'm changing over all of the hangers in my closet!! Well, at least quite a few of them. Actually, I'm about two thirds of the way through, and I ran out of hangers. I'll need to stop in this week and buy a few dozen more (I'm only two thirds of the way through and I need a few DOZEN more? Yep - I'm something of a clothes horse. Don't even ask...!) I actually thought that I'd start this project when we first moved in, but honestly, between painting the house, packing up the old house, unpacking the new house, moving into a new office at work and, thus, unpacking there, preparing to start a new school year, and everything else I had on my agenda, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. As such, this project took a back seat and has been waiting in the wings for just such a day as today.

As luck would have it, the Tuesday Morning flyer last Sunday advertised the BEST hangers for the changeover! I had some of them and decided that they really are wonderful, but I haven't been able to find any more. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I saw them in the flyer! Why are these particular hangers so wonderful? I'm glad you asked! They are non-slip hangers. YAY! If you're anything like me and you have lots of tops whose shoulders just LOVE to slide off any other plastic or metal hanger, these little babies are definitely for you. Here they are: I admit it: I have a new love. (Kevin isn't one bit jealous, though. He thinks they're a great idea!) I went this morning and picked up four dozen, brought them home, and began the process.

In conjunction with changing over all of the hangers, I'm also catching up on another project I've been wanting to do: ironing. Today seemed to be the perfect day to do that as well, so I've been quite a busy bee today!

Okay, so maybe in the scheme of things this isn't really that big of a deal. I concede. However, each evening when I look into my closet to choose the following day's outfit and all of the cute little tops stay on their cute little hangers without sliding off or looking sloppy, I'm going to have to beg to differ about whether it's a big deal or not!!