Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Queen

I finished another book.  This one is called The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner.  It was a very good book.  The beginning is a little uninteresting because in such a short span of time the book covers several years and you're sort of waiting for the real story to begin.  However, the second half of the book was wonderful.  It is very well written and you can tell that the author did his research. 

The book tells the story of Juana Trastamara, a Spanish queen who lived during the late 1400s and early 1500s.  While it is based on true events, as with more historical fiction the author has taken some liberties.  However, he does admit to what they are in the afterword.  She is not a well-known historical figure so it was interesting to learn about her, her life, and the connections she had to familiar figures (her sister was Catherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII). 

I think I might be looking to see if the author has other books as I enjoyed this one much more than some of the last couple books I've read. 

10 in 10

Since 2010 ends tomorrow, I thought I'd list 10 things that happened in 2010 that made me happy.

1.  We got married!  Back in April my husband and I finally got married after being together for over 4 years.  It was amazing and definitely the happiest day of my life. 

2.  We moved.  After 5 years of hoping and a year of actively trying we finally moved out of the crappy town we were living in and finally get to live in a beautiful area that we love.

3.  DH got a new job.  That job not only allowed us to move, but allowed us to pay our bills.  We were struggling to find a job that could do both.  It's also a thousand times better than his last job. 

4.  Maui.  We went there on our honeymoon.  It was so much fun and it is beautiful. 

5.  I got an interview.  After graduating a year and half ago and very little luck in the job department I finally got an interview for a job.  I still don't know if I got it, and it's not really what I wanted, but it's still an interview.

6.  Crafts.  I learned how to do a lot of new crafts this year.  I improved my cake skills and even came up with my own recipes.  I also learned to sew some basic things (and I plan to continue working on that). 

7.  This blog.  After a lot of thought I started this blog.  It doesn't have any regular readers yet, but I'm hoping to change that in the next year.

8.  We started looking at houses.  DH and I are starting to really plan and think about buying our own home and just starting made me happy.  Hopefully next year I can say we bought one. 

9.  A new car.  DH's old car was falling apart and was just generally horrible so we were finally able to get rid of it and get him something newer and safer.  I no longer have to worry about getting a call to tell me he's stranded on the freeway.

10.  Family and friends.  I am really lucky to have some wonderful people in my life and not being in school allowed me to spend a bit more time with some of them.  I didn't get to do as much as I'd like, but I still count myself lucky. 

What made you happy in 2010? 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Catching up

Now that I finally have the ability to post pictures I thought I'd catch up on the things I wanted to share, but couldn't.

First, we have the snow that we woke up to back in November.

This is actually looking out to the main road near our house.  It never did get plowed.

Some of the snow covered trees down the street.

 There's a chance of snow again later today, which I'm not too excited about because I have to actually go somewhere tomorrow.  If it doesn't snow, all of the rain we've had today should still turn to ice.  Oh boy. 

Secondly, I have pictures of some of the Christmas cards I made and sent out this year.  I used my Cricut to cut a lot of the shapes that I used.  The first one is embossed.  I used a really pretty stamp that I got in a set from Michaels.  Unfortunately, I can't remember who makes it and my packaging is gone.  Some also have other embellishments that I bought.

This cut comes from the Lyrical Letters cartridge.
These were cut from Joys of the Season

Now that I can share pictures I'll be trying to post a lot more crafts to share along with photos of completed items on my 101 in 1001 list. 


After finally figuring out how to make the sewing machine work I decided to make some pillows.  I had picked out some fabric that worked well with our couch and the rest of our living room and after practicing a bit I started cutting. 

First, I cut 4 18.5" squares to fit over the pillow forms I bought.  Then I matched the pieces together and sewed on three sides.  You have to leave the fourth side open to fit in the pillow form.  Unfortunately for me, that meant hand stitching them closed.  I won't share those pictures (because it's not pretty at all), but it's safe to say that I need a lot more practice. 

Anyway, here are the pillows I made:

They are both brown on one side and a turquoise color on the other.  I'm so excited that I can actually share a photo.  My card reader arrived today while I was out buying more fabric. 

If you have any questions on how to make these just let me know.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My First Attempt

DH and I spent yesterday at home just enjoying our Christmas weekend.  While he played a new video game, I decided to set up my sewing machine because I don't do well not having something to do and it was sitting so nicely in its box just calling my name.  The directions are definitely not written for someone who has no experience sewing.  I tried to use the DVD to thread my sewing machine.  It still wasn't working like I wanted it to.  I finally got it threaded and it wasn't working properly.  I used the trouble shooting guide and it wanted me to change the tension so I tried that and it still wasn't working.  That made the problem worse actually.  The thread kept breaking and I made some horrendous knots in my scrap fabric that I was practicing with.  It wasn't pretty. 

The sewing machine won the first battle.  I gave up.

I walked away and spent some time with DH.  We played the Xbox version of Monopoly (which was a lot of fun) and had dinner.  Then I asked him for some help.  I thought that maybe I hadn't threaded the machine properly and since his mind is much more mechanical than mine (and I struggled with the directions) I thought I'd have him take a look and see if he could find a place that I hadn't threaded it correctly.  He did.  It wasn't between the tension disks.  That still didn't fix it.  I was still struggling.  I couldn't get the lower thread to come up and then it got massively tangled a few times.  I started over.  Then he watched me attempt to sew and saw how wonky it went.  He also noticed how much the machine bounced.  So he held it down while I sewed another straight line of fabric.  It worked perfectly. 

It turns out that other than a minor threading issue (which we aren't even completely sure about), it seems to just be an issue with my cheap plastic table that I wanted to sew on.  So it will have to be moved to the desk that doesn't bounce all over when I want to sew.  That means less space (unless I move downstairs), but I'm willing to put up with that if it means finally being able to use the sewing machine that has been teasing me since Black Friday. 

Today, I'm going to attempt to sew some pillows with some really pretty fabric I got yesterday.  I'll post pictures in a couple days (we're finally getting a new card reader so I'll be able to post pictures!). 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Christmas

My Christmas was fantastic.  On Christmas Eve my mom and her boyfriend came up to celebrate with DH and I.  Despite feeling sick all day (I think I might have a garlic allergy), I still had a pretty good day.  We watched Horton Hears a Who and sat around talking.  DH made an amazing herb crusted pork loin.  I didn't eat any at dinner because I still wasn't feeling well, but I had some later and it was really good.  It's been added to our regular dinner list.

DH and I spent Christmas morning together and opened our gifts to each other and then relaxed and played with our new stuff for the morning.  It was wonderful to not feel rushed to get somewhere.  We've never had that before but this year we made sure to set aside some time to ourselves. 

Then in the afternoon we went to my in-laws' house and opened presents with them and had a nice turkey dinner and played a couple games.  We got to hear from DH's cousin, who is now living back east so we haven't seen him in a long time.  We watched Christmas movies and spent the afternoon hiding inside because it was pouring rain. 

Even though it wasn't exactly the Christmas we had been hoping for (our plans changed about 30 times in the month leading up to Christmas), we still had a wonderful holiday.  I hope everyone else did too. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

I will be taking a break until after Christmas.  I hope anyone reading this has a wonderful Christmas full of joy and love.  I will return with a summary of our Christmas and hopefully some fun crafty stuff to share. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I have no self-control

As it turns out, finishing my Christmas shopping so early is dangerous for me.  I saw so many gifts that I wanted to get for people, but kept telling myself that I was done and had hit my budget so I couldn't and shouldn't buy anymore gifts.  Until today.  I was on Amazon and found a great gift for DH so I had to order it.  Fortunately I'm out of time to do that with anything else. 

3 Days!

We are completely ready for Christmas now.  All of the gifts are wrapped (I wrapped my own after DH put them in boxes) and under the tree.  The house is clean and ready for guests.  I have done my final grocery shopping trip until after Christmas.  Now I just need a nap. 

I can't wait to celebrate Christmas with my husband.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas treats

I spent my day baking and dipping marshmallows into chocolate.  I originally was going to make enough to send snacks to work with DH and still have some leftover for me to bring to work.  That didn't happen.  I was trying to avoid going to the store today and I thought I only had enough butter for one batch of each thing.  As it turns out, I cut out the lemon bars I'd been planning to make so I could have doubled up on the snickerdoodles and had more to bring in.  The snickerdoodles are packaged to go to work with DH tomorrow.  I'd rather share with the people he works with than where I work.  I've snacked on a few and they are delicious. 

I also tried to make brownies, but the recipe I used refused to bake properly.  The edges are really hard and when I cut into it the center is still undercooked.  The recipe (I used the Hershey one) said to bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes.  I had the right temperature and probably ended up baking for 40-45 minutes and they still aren't done correctly so I ate one of the edge pieces, but I'll probably throw the rest out.  I also dipped an entire bag of large marshmallows into chocolate.  Those will also go into the packages for DH's coworkers. 

This will probably be the first year that I haven't made Christmas cookies.  Growing up my mom and I would always make cutout sugar cookies and frost them together.  I loved doing that.  The recipes have changed now that I'm older (I don't use shortening so I don't use the one I grew up with), but I still love the tradition of it.  I just don't have the time this year.

What sort of goodies are you making this year? 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Recipe books

Today has been a very rainy, stormy day.  We had some flooding behind our house and there are a ton of storm warnings in our area so we decided to stay home today.  I took advantage of the opportunity to organize all of the recipes I've collected over the years.  I've got some from Everyday Food and Rachael Ray Magazine and tons of others as well.  That means I have a ton. 

I have two photo albums that are almost completely full of recipes.  One has about 100 openings and it is full of recipes for regular meals that one might make for dinner.  It's divided into sections like "chicken" or "pasta."  The other is twice the size and is full of desserts.  Going through that one gave me some inspiration to try some things tomorrow so that I can take them to work.  I'll be making some stuff to send to work with DH too. 

I like having it all organized now so that I actually have a chance at finding a recipe that I'm looking for.  It did make me hungry though. 

Wedding Album

I got an email from our wedding photographer on Friday that our wedding album is finally completed.  It wasn't his fault that it took so long to come in (it's been 8 months since we got married).  We were dealing with moving and adjusting to a new city and it just took us a while to get around to picking the pictures we wanted.  Hopefully within the next couple days we'll have it and we can share it with our families for Christmas. 

This also means that I should have large photos from our wedding to finally put in frames.  DH and I have lived together for several years (and 3 different places) and we've never decorated a single one of them.  I'm hoping that now that we're a bit more settled and not dealing with school or wedding planning we'll finally start putting up pictures and making this place look more lived in. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Telex From Cuba

Telex From Cuba by Rachel Kushner takes place during the revolution in Cuba that brought Fidel Castro into power.  I thought that getting to see that time in history was interesting.  The book wasn't really good or bad.  The writing style was decent.  Some parts were really slow and other parts moved quickly.  Not something that sucked me in really quickly, but I didn't really struggle to stay with it. 

It was yet another book that jumps from story to story, but this one didn't have as obvious connections as the other one.  One of the stories mostly seemed to be there to allow us to see what was going on with the rebels, but it didn't really add much to the story.  I think it would have been better to just stick with telling it from the point of view of the Americans that were working in Cuba.  That one piece tended to seem like a separate story. 

Overall, the book was fine, but not memorable.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

International Mail

I got my Christmas cards out in the mail on Monday (most of them anyway).  One of those Christmas cards is traveling all the way to Switzerland to see my wonderful cousin.  She's been living over there for a couple months now and is supposed to be there for about a year.  While I'm bummed that she's not around I can still talk to her through email and text messages (she will also hopefully be coming for a visit this summer).  Plus, I know this is a good experience for her. 

Sending that card to her was the first time I've sent mail to another country.  I really thought it would be more expensive, especially after looking up the price to send her a package of cookies.  It was 98 cents to send the letter.  The cookies would have cost me about 40 so she'll have to wait until she comes home.  I couldn't believe it.  Less than a dollar to send a letter thousands of miles.  If I'd known that I would have already sent her a couple letters. 

She's like me and loves to get mail that isn't junk or a bill.  When I was in college she would occasionally send me letters.  Once she tried to send me some Andes mints along with the letter and it got completely chewed up by the mail sorter machine.  My letter came to me in a ziploc bag.  My Christmas card to her did not include chocolate (she's in Switzerland --she has much better options there), and should be greeting her sometime early next week. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Feeling Crafty

With Christmas here I'm feeling extra crafty right now.  Plus, DH and I just did a couple house walk-throughs at some model homes here in town so I want to decorate my house.  Unfortunately, in our house we don't buy anything for ourselves right before Christmas (to avoid getting something that someone else already intended to give as a gift, which has happened).  I'm also waiting for a lot of stuff to go on sale right after Christmas.  So, until then I probably won't have a ton of stuff to blog, but I definitely plan on posting some of my projects after the holidays.  When I share those I'll also share some of my new favorite blogs that I got the ideas from.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show

I made another trip to the library and picked up a bunch of books.  My most recent one was The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore. 

I have to say I'm not very impressed.  The storyline was fairly interesting, but would have fit better as a short story.  It is short, but it would have been more fitting to have cut out most of the first half and just had a little bit of the explanation.  How the other characters met doesn't really play into the rest of the story.  The first part is a ton of unnecessary explanation while the ending and main plot of the story comes quickly.  There isn't even a real ending for the characters.  Some characters' stories are wrapped up well enough, but others are left hanging. 

The writing left a lot to be desired as well.  Some parts flow really well and sucked me in.  Others felt really repetitive as every single sentenced started with "I" and were hard to read through.

The best part to me was that it's set mostly in Northern California so I at least somewhat recognized the locations in the story.  

I don't think I'll be picking up another one of her books again.   

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Arms Maker of Berlin

My most recent book was The Arms Maker of Berlin by Dan Fesperman.  It took a little bit of time to get into (it's another one that jumps between stories), but once I was in I read through it really fast.  It's the story of a historian named Nat Turnbull and his adventures trying to find some missing files that have something to do with his late friend and mentor who was a spy during World War II.  The book also jumps back to the story of Kurt Bauer, a famous arms maker, and his story during World War II from informing on others and losing the love of his life. 

I've found that I really enjoy books that have something to do with the resistance movements during World War II.  I'm not sure if the names of these groups are accurate as I've never done the research myself, but I like reading about their underground work trying to bring down Hitler and the Nazi regime. 

I think anyone who enjoys World War II historical fiction would like this.  It's got a bit of the same feel as Angels and Demons by Dan Brown with the main character following clues and racing against others to get to the information in time.  If you like that style you'd probably enjoy this book as well. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

cake recipes

I decided to type up my finalized cake recipes so I can put them in a binder.  I only have vanilla, chocolate, and mocha cakes completely finalized, but they are now typed up and will be in a binder.  As I experiment with more of the cakes and finalize those recipes I'll add them to the binder.  It's nice to have one recipe that shows the ingredients for many different sizes.  That way I don't have to redo the math each time I want to make a half batch or something like that.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm ready!

I have spent a little bit of time each day wrapping Christmas presents and I'm finally done.  All of my online orders are in and everything is wrapped, including one gift to me from DH.  I told him what I wanted and was even with him to pick it up so I went ahead and wrapped it for him.  Now we just need to decorate the tree so they have a place to go. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Decorations

DH and I spent our day getting ready for Christmas.  For the first time since we've lived together (this is the fourth Christmas) we decorated our house with Christmas lights.  We've never lived in a place where it would actually work and/or we weren't afraid they would be stolen.  We put up a ton of lights and our house looks awesome.  Even our neighbor mentioned how much he liked it.  Unfortunately, I still don't have a way to get photos to my computer, so I'm unable to share the awesomeness. 

After we finished that we decided to go get our Christmas tree.  I have to say that my house smells amazing.  I love the smell of a Christmas tree.  We haven't decorated yet, but we plan to tomorrow and after that I can put all of the Christmas presents under it.  I haven't finished yet, but my craft room is full of wrapped presents just waiting to hide under the tree until Christmas.  I thought I was done, but I thought of another gift that I'd like to get for DH so I think I might head out tomorrow and pick it up at the store.  He has more than enough this year, but I know it's something he would love and it's small enough for me to count it as a stocking stuffer. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Name Change

Today we went to the bank to change my name.  I've decided that our bank needs to retrain some people because I have now gotten three different answers on what I need to bring to change my name.  Fortunately we had everything we needed.  The process took a little longer than I expected, but it wasn't too bad.  The hardest part is that she had to take my bank cards because they will no longer work since the name doesn't match the account.  I think I'll survive though, especially since I'm already done Christmas shopping and I have no real reason to go out shopping this week.  I'm excited to finally have all the big stuff with my new name.  It makes it feel more official. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Easy Homemade Lasagna

I've never made lasagna before and it sounded really good so I bought everything at the store today and it's in the oven right now.  I didn't use a recipe; I decided to wing it.  I know the basics of what goes into lasagna so it didn't seem very hard.  Here's my version:

2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
about 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 small tub of ricotta cheese
a little less than a full bag (the small one) of shredded provolone/mozzarella
1 pound of shredded beef
garlic powder
onions (I used dried)
italian seasoning
9 lasagna noodles

Brown the meat with the garlic powder, onions, and italian seasoning.  In a separate pot boil the lasagna noodles.  Once done, rinse the noodles in cold water.  Put a thin layer of pasta sauce at the bottom of your 9x13 pan then put your first layer of 3 noodles.  Put down about half of the ricotta and tomatoes and 1/3 of the parmesan, leftover pasta sauce, and shredded provolone/mozzarella.  Repeat.  For the last layer, put down the final layer of noodles then cover with the rest of the pasta sauce.  Add the parmesan and a layer of provolone/mozzarella.  Put into an oven that is preheated to 375* with a foil tent on it for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes.  The cheese on top should be bubbly and a little brown. 

My house now smells like garlic and tomatoes and I can't wait for my husband to get home so we can have dinner. 

I did it!

I finished my Christmas shopping by December 1st!  I really didn't think I'd make it, but everything is either hiding in the closet or on it's way from Amazon.  Now I'm ready to decorate and enjoy the Christmas season.  I also need to start planning our Christmas celebration because it looks like we are going to be able to host it this year. 

How far has your shopping got?  Did you set any goals for this year? 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas update

I'm almost done shopping.  I figured out a gift to get for my brother-in-law and we ordered gifts for just about everyone this morning.  Just one little thing for my in-laws and then I have to finish my mom and my husband (who I've got quite a few ideas for) and I'm done.  Probably won't be done by Wednesday (though it's possible), but at least I'll be done early.  I'm really excited about some of the gifts we got this year. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Thanksgiving was a lot of fun.  We actually had two dinners.  On Thanksgiving we went to my mom's.  Her boyfriend BBQed a turkey and it was delicious.  I'm not usually a big fan of turkey, but I really liked his.  Then, because my brother-in-law had to work on Thanksgiving, we had a second dinner on Friday with DH's parents and brother.  It was also fun.  We played Monopoly (which I won) and Trivial Pursuit (which my father-in-law won). 

Unfortunately, the sugar free pumpkin pie that I posted about never actually got eaten.  On Wednesday night we left for my mom's house and after we'd been there for an hour or so I suddenly realized that I'd forgotten the pie.  I thought about it when we were getting ready, but I didn't want to leave it unrefrigerated for too long and I forgot to grab it before we left.  So she had to make another one on Thanksgiving morning.  It was a similar recipe and her boyfriend's dad sure seemed to like it so I guess it's a good recipe.  I planned to take it over to my in-laws for Thanksgiving because my father-in-law would eat it, but I forgot it on that trip too because I was so excited about Black Friday and going out to lunch with my husband that it slipped my mind.  So there's still a mini sugar free pumpkin pie in my fridge that I don't think will ever get eaten. 

Today, we got a new dishwasher (the last one stopped cleaning dishes) so while my husband worked on that with the maintenance guy I spent my morning ordering Christmas presents.  I got a pretty good amount for DH and I've got a pretty good shopping cart going for the rest of our families.  I even managed to find a real gift for my dad for the first time in 10 years.  Every other year I can't come up with anything for him that he will actually care about so he gets food.  This year I have something good. 

All I need now is for DH to double check it and let me know which gift he wants to get for his brother and I'm good to go.  There are a few things I will need to go into town to get so I don't know if those will be done by my goal, but I'll at least be done early this year and that makes me very happy.  I hate dealing with Christmas crowds and I plan to spend my Christmas season sitting inside my nice warm house enjoying my tree instead of stressed out and running around town. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sugar free pumpkin pie

I made a new recipe today.  We're celebrating Thanksgiving with my mom, her boyfriend, and his dad and brother.  His dad is diabetic so finding a pie that he can have is a little difficult.  My mom called me last week and asked me to make him a sugar-free pumpkin pie so that's what I made today.  I made a half recipe because it just needs to be a little one for him.  I guess other people might have some, but my mom doesn't eat fake sugars and I'm allergic to them.  Here's the full recipe.  It's pretty much the recipe on the back of the Libby's pumpkin puree can, but with a couple changes.

1 15-ounce can of Libby's pumpkin puree
1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk
2 eggs
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup splenda
1/2 tsp salt

Beat the eggs with your mixer, then add splenda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.  Once mixed, add your pumpkin puree.  Then slowly add the evaporated milk.  Bake at 425* for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 350* and bake another 40-50 minutes (it actually took me a little more than 50).  It's done when a knife comes out cleanly.  Let it cool for 2 hours and then either eat or refrigerate.

Since this one will pretty much be like the Libby's recipe, I imagine it tastes pretty good. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Yes, I know it's early, but tomorrow I'll be stuffing myself on a barbecued turkey and I won't be thinking about updating my blog. 

This year, I'm thankful for my husband (this is the first year I can say that) and for the job he got a few months ago that got us out of the awful town we were living in and allowed us to move to a place we love.  What are you thankful for this year?

Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to have my Christmas shopping done by the 1st.  I could order a lot of it this weekend.  I could even go out on Black Friday and get a couple things (which I plan on doing anyway), but there are a couple people that I haven't finalized my gift list for yet so I don't want to just buy something neither of us will be happy with just to hit my goal.  It also doesn't help that this next week is very busy.  So I'll just stick with trying to be done early in December and aim for my goal next year.  I'm so close this year that I think I'll have it easily by next year. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I spent the better part of this afternoon going through our filing cabinet and getting rid of old paperwork and organizing it a bit to make it more user friendly.  While I like the end product, I'm exhausted.  There are a lot more things I wish I could get rid of because I don't think we'll ever need them, but I'm afraid something will come up a year or two down the road and I'll regret throwing some of that stuff out. 

If I had more energy I'd keep going.  I love the feeling that comes with a clean space. 

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

I just finished reading Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.  I can now say that I've read all of her novels.  I love her work.  They always manage to suck me in so quickly and I'm disappointed when it's over because I've grown attached to the characters. 

I really enjoyed this book.  As usual, the writing is excellent.  Each chapter jumps between the stories of three of the characters who don't seem to have any connection at first, but eventually their relationships are revealed.  Getting used to the jumps took me a couple chapters, but I did get used to it. 

The plot is difficult to describe because of the three characters, but it is essentially about three characters and their lives in a small town in the Appalachians and their connections to farming. 

I really enjoyed this book.  Too bad Kingsolver doesn't have any more novels for me to read. 

Monday, November 22, 2010


It snowed here on Saturday night/Sunday morning.  We woke up to 2-3 inches on the ground and a little more fell.  DH grew up not too far from where we are and never got snow.  It didn't snow the entire 16 years he lived there and the first year he moved away it snowed and it has snowed a little bit every year since.  I've never lived anywhere with snow.  This was a huge deal for us.  The only downside was the all-day power outage that we got to deal with.  It wasn't bad until it got dark though.  No heat or light sucks. 

Tonight we're under a storm watch because it's supposed to come back.  I keep looking outside to see if it has started.  This is an entirely new experience for us, but we're loving it.  It is absolutely beautiful outside right now.  Unfortunately, I can't even post the pictures I took.  The card reader on DH's computer doesn't work and the laptop is dead.  We just got a new computer for me, but it doesn't have a card reader and we don't have a cord to hook up the camera.  So we'll be going out to get a multi-card reader sometime soon so that I can put pictures on here.  It really is amazing how pretty a couple inches of snow can make everything.  Unfortunately, this storm and the excitement of a new computer have kept me from completing anything on the list.  I'm sure I'll get something done soon though. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I donated to Toys for Tots last night.  Borders has a program going on right now so that at check out they ask if you'd like to donate a kids' book to Toys for Tots.  They have a ton of options and it looked like they were all under $5.  I donated one and so did my mother-in-law.  I love that they're including books.  Reading is so good for children and the younger they start the more likely they are to continue reading throughout their life.  I hope that I can incorporate a Toys for Tots gift into my Christmas shopping from now on.  We never really had enough money before.  I'd love it to be a tradition that we have with our own children to donate to other kids who might not have anything else on Christmas. 

First Gifts

I officially have my first Christmas gifts purchased and it's not even Thanksgiving!  I only bought a couple things last night because I can get better deals for most of it online, but I'm halfway done with my brother-in-law and my father-in-law.  I know what I'm getting for everyone else except for my husband.  I'm feeling good about this year.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Making Progress

I'm going to try to get my Christmas shopping done before December 1st this year.  I'm not sure if I'll make it.  Some people on our list are difficult to buy for, but I have a significant portion ready to go.  My mother-in-law and I are going shopping tomorrow.  By the end of tomorrow I'll have her and my father-in-law done (she won't be in the store when I buy her gift).  I should also have something for my brother-in-law and I might even have a couple ideas for my mom (which never happens). 

I've spent the last few hours looking for ideas online and it looks like I'll be purchasing a lot from Amazon too.  I love Amazon, especially the free shipping they offer on a lot of items.  If I had all of my ideas finalized I'd be purchasing a huge order from them tonight.  But I'm going to wait so that I can get free shipping (or as least as low as I can get it).  I'm also curious to see what deals I can get on Black Friday (not that there are a ton of options here) and Cyber Monday. 

So tomorrow I'm hoping that the storm holds off and I'm able to get a ton of shopping done.  Wish me luck.  Where do you stand on your Christmas shopping?  Trying to hit any goals this year?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Asia map

I can label the countries on a map of Asia too.  I used a bunch of different maps because it's hard to find just one that includes all of Asia. 

All this geography stuff reminds me of my World History teacher in high school.  He passed away a couple months ago and I feel like students lost someone great.  The man got me interested in geography and got many years worth of students to at least know the basics.  For at least our sophomore year we knew the countries of Europe and Asia along with major cities, rivers and mountain ranges.  He believed that knowing geography was very important.  It helped make us competitive with other countries (since most Americans don't know much geography) and it also allowed us to really understand what was going on in the world. 

He was an amazing teacher in many ways and he even had a Facebook fan page for quite a while before he died.  He was inspirational and brilliant.  I hope that whoever replaces him recognizes what a huge space they have to fill and can teach that class with half the enthusiasm he had.  So, here's to you Mr. Hallen.  RIP.  And thank you for everything.

Monday, November 15, 2010

European Map

I've been working on it for a few days now, but I can consistently get a perfect score on this Europe map quiz.  It makes me want to travel.  Now I just need to work on Asia.

So, how do you do on the quiz? 

Two things from the list

I attempted to post last night, but thanks to a cut cable, our internet wasn't working.  It wasn't on our end.  Apparently someone wherever our internet connects to found it.  So thanks to whoever cut that.  I just love spending most of the day without internet. 

Anyway, I completed two things from my list yesterday.  The first is going a week without eating out.  I hadn't planned on doing that one.  I honestly thought I'd have to make an effort to not go out, but I just realized it on Sunday afternoon that we hadn't gone out to eat since the Friday over a week before.  I suppose actually doing some grocery shopping in advance makes it pretty easy to stay home.  We had really good food in the house this week.

The second thing I did was to attempt at least one puzzle on each page of an activity book.  That doesn't mean I actually finished it or that I actually completed each of those puzzles.  It just means that I tried.  This wasn't the best thing to put on the list because it makes you feel dumb.  I thought that I had a pretty good vocabulary, but I'm awful at coming up with words from some random description.  I still enjoy the puzzle books though.

So, it's a new week and I'm hoping to find something else to do on the list.  It looks like I actually have a shot at having my Christmas shopping done early this year.  We'll see if I actually finish it by the 1st though.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Business License

I spent the day researching my cities website and figuring out what I need to do to get my business license.  As it turns out, I don't really need one.  Yay for living outside the city limits.  Our county doesn't require a business license and as long as I don't work within the city limits (which I never realized were so incredibly small) I won't need one.  I'm trying to start my own event planning business, so if the location was within the limits, I would have to get one, but I can wait until it comes up before I need to do it.  The odds are in my favor that I'll never need one. 

I do, however, need to file a fictitious business name and put it in the paper so I will cross off number 95 when I get that done.  I'm so excited to be getting close and really feeling like this is going to happen. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Banned books

Since I've updated the list to show that I've read 13 books from the banned books list, I thought I'd point out which ones I've read.  I'm using this list.  These are the 13 that I've read before.  My goal is to be able to say that I've read 20 by the end of my 1001 days.  Here's the list of ones I've read:

1. The Scary Story Series by Alvin Schwartz.  I used to read these in elementary school and I loved them.  I wasn't the only one either because those books were always checked out. 

2. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey.  Another one I used to read in elementary school. 

3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  I read this my junior year of high school.  Hard to get used to the writing style, but I really liked it.  After I complained to that teacher that all the books had crappy endings he told me to get used to it because they were all like that.  This was the only book out of 6 that didn't end horribly.

4. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.  Another junior year book.  I hated this one.  Holden Caulfield is a whiny little bitch.

5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I read this in 8th and 9th grade English.  I love this one.  The movie is actually good too.

6. Gossip Girl Series by Cecily von Ziegesar.  An early high school series.  I enjoyed the series.  I never watched the show though.  I'm not really sure what is so bad about it that it made it on the list.
7. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler.  I know I read it, but I really don't remember much about it.  Really tells you how great it is, right?

8. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison.  It's the first in a series, but the others aren't on the list.  I thought these books were hilarious. 

9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  Read my senior year of high school.  Or rather, read to me since my teacher would read half of our homework to us each day. 

10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  Read it my freshman year of high school.  I love the irony of this book being banned.

11. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle.  I read it in 5th grade at the urging of my dad.  I loved it.  I was so upset when I finished it because I wanted the book to be longer.

12. Goosebumps the series by R.L. Stine.  I read every one of these books I could get my hands on in 4th grade.  I also watched the TV show (which really sucked). 

13. Are you There God?  It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume.  One of many books on the list about growing up.  Apparently we aren't supposed to prepare children for the things that will change. 

So this is my list as it currently stands.  I have a few ideas for which books I'd like to add to it, but not all 7.  I find it interesting that most of the ones I read for school came in high school.  I didn't add a single book to this list while I was in college and I got my degree in English.  And some of those books definitely fit the criteria.  Maybe they'll be added to the next decade's list. 

For the couple people that have seen this blog, which books from the list have you read?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Like Water for Chocolate

My first book of my 101 in 1001 list is Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.  I'd heard a lot about this book and kept seeing it at Borders, but never picked it up before.

I liked this book.  I don't really have much to say about it.  It wasn't one I hated or one that I loved.  It's a little strange and has some sci-fi elements to it, but it's pretty good.  It's definitely a quick read.  I just picked it up at the library today and finished it a few moments ago.  I liked that it wasn't predictable like some books are. 

Each chapter starts with a recipe and the descriptions will make you hungry so I definitely recommend having easy access to good Mexican food while reading it.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I completed number 94 on my list today.  I created a brochure for the event/wedding planning business I'm trying to start using MS Publisher.  I still can't decide on a name for the business so I will have to wait to print them, but I'm at least happy to have them.  I also have a contract ready to go for when I get my first customer.  Hopefully that won't be too far off.  I'm also hoping to figure out what I need to do to get my business license soon so I can take care of another item on my list and get started with this venture.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The First Post

Today I've started my 101 in 1001 list of goals.  You can see the full list above.  This is my place to keep track of the goals as I complete them.  My 1001 days ends on August 5th, 2013.