Archive | April, 2011

What’s for dinner? Baked Ziti Edition

29 Apr

Last night we had company. I love having people over for dinner. I think it is a great way to get to know someone better, and hey, it is usually more cost effective and less caloric than eating out. That would be a win-win-win, folks. But every time I have someone over, I have to sift through my recipes to find company-approved dishes. Dishes that will definitely feed everyone and dishes that will make people think you are a good cook even if it was really easy to whip up. I found my solution in the form of a Baked Ziti recipe from my Taste of Home casserole booklet. To complete the meal, I also prepared a salad, garlic toast and one of my favorite desserts, Mexican Chocolate Cake. Please read on, I’m willing to share my secrets on this easy, yet delicious meal.

Mexican Chocolate Cake. It's good, trust me.

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The ‘Perfect’ Thursday*

28 Apr

*The events below are based on my daily routine. Please take note that they may have been slightly modified. Enjoy your Thursday and remember to revel in your dreams every once in a while.

6:45 am: Ike and I wake up to a beautiful sunny morning, birds are chirping and everything. The forecast reports that there will be no more tornadoes ever.

7:30 am: We push back from the table after just finishing our piping hot pancakes, infused with cinnamon and sugar and drizzled with natural maple syrup. We also take our final sip of the French Press freshly ground Sumatra blend Starbucks coffee. Yum.

8:00 am: Ike heads off to work, as Buster and I wave ‘Good Bye’. Buster and I go on a walk with all the other dogs in the apartment complex and not a growl is heard.

10:00 am: I publish the perfect blog post and at 10:05 receive a book deal to write about Buster, the movies I’ve seen, TV shows I love and recipes I make. I accept.

11:00 am: Just as I pop in “Ripped in 30,” Jillian stops by to give me a personal training session. It is a tough, but exhilarating experience.

Please click, ‘continue reading’ to find out what happens after lunch! It gets better, if you can believe it!

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Buster’s 101

27 Apr

Well, Buster’s first official personal behavior modification session is quickly approaching. This Sunday afternoon, we’ll be hitting the modification train hard and fast. And of course I’ll give you an update (and maybe even videos) of his official progress next week. But today I wanted to let you know what we’ve been doing to prepare Buster’s cunning little mind for his session. I think our preparations could help you with your own (slightly, I hope) unruly dog.

To get Buster ready, our trainers told us to get him in a training mindset. So in addition to working on “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “shake,” “watch me,” “door manner” and “rollover,” we’ve been going over two new commands that I’ve found especially helpful and effective. Ready for the low down? Then by all means, read on.

Bonus Picture! Buster helping with the laundry.

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Jillian Michaels DVD Glory

26 Apr

I am a Jillian Michaels fan. I feel like I know her. Week after week I’ve heard her voice bossing (and encouraging) me through intimidating weight moves, heart bursting cardio, and painful abs toning. Up to this weekend, I had 4 of her DVDs. Although I liked all of them, my favorite by far was “The 30 Day Shred.” I loved the challenge, the do-able length, 20 minutes, and the results. I had never in my life toned a muscle until I ‘met’ Jillian. Yes we are on a first name basis; she’s my trainer after all.

But after almost a year of rotating through her DVDs and running, I needed change. When I found “Ripped in 30,” her newest release, waiting for me on my local Target shelves, I was ecstatic. “Ripped in 30” is another workout that utilizes her 20 minute intense workout formula. I’ve decided to review each of the four levels as I progress, lucky you. Here’s level one in a painful nutshell.

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Weekend Project

25 Apr

This last Saturday, Ike and I finally tackled one of my long-plotted décor projects. About five months ago, my mom and I recovered my chairs in three coordinating fabrics. See below.

I just can’t get away from the green and blue family. I guess they are my family now.

So Ike and I thought it would be a good idea to cover an extra canvas we had with the excess fabric. You know; create a wall hanging that ties all the patterns and colors together. This weekend, armed with a heavy-duty staple gun, scissors, fabric and a  canvas we mis-painted nearly three years ago, we embarked on an easy weekend project adventure.

This canvas was just asking to be convered.

I hope that our idea and creative process will inspire you to use what you have around your house to make something new and b-e-a-utiful! Read on to see how we created our custom wall hanging.

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Cookie Cake Tips

22 Apr

Hey there. I hope you know I want the best for you. I want you to be happy, to have lots of friends and to enjoy a healthy serving of sweet stuff in life. That’s why I’m sharing my cookie cake tips. Why? Cookie cakes are an easy way to impress friends and earn baking glory among new acquaintances. They are the quintessential complement to birthday parties or cook outs. You need this skill. You never know when it might come in handy. So, for your own good, you better continue reading!

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Sushi Night

21 Apr

Well folks, I feel it is my duty to share a great way to spend quality time with friends, indulge in interesting food and only spend 10 bucks.

Just one Buster and Ike picture and I’ll hand over the answer.

Ok, fine.

Host a sushi night! That’s right. I’m here to give you a brief rundown of the ‘weird’ ingredients you’ll need and a (rudimentary) outline of how to create a delicious sushi roll. Armed with this information you’ll be able to host your own spectacular night.

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20 Apr

Some days we all need a little perspective check. Maybe you’re stressed at work. Maybe plans are crumbling. Maybe you are behind on sleep and it is only Wednesday. Or maybe the dog really did eat your homework. Well, I’m here to help. As adults (don’t worry, I use that word loosely), we get overly serious sometimes. Somber. Too busy to take a moment and appreciate the admittedly cliché, but therapeutic little things in life. I’m ready for a mid-week pick-me-up. If you are too, or if you just need a few moments of pause before the go-go-go of your day, then read on. I think you will smile if you do! That is the idea.

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19 Apr

Ok, I guess I can’t claim that Ike and I don’t ever go to the movies anymore – see this recent post as Exhibit A. But I will maintain that we only go to the movies (or go out in general) when we have ‘fun money’ available. In the words of Lucky Day (Steve Martin’s Amigo), “No dough, no show.” And yes, I’m wagging my finger as I say that.  But we are making friends and putting down roots in Little Rock, so sometimes we have to fertilize young relationships with the manure of spending. Wait, that didn’t come out quite right. Oh well.

As you can see from my clever and mysterious title, I’m going to offer you a (hopefully) spoiler free review of Hanna. You ready for my take on this entertaining thriller? Then click ‘continue reading’ ASAP. Thanks.

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See Spot Sit* Dog Training

18 Apr

*In Buster’s case, we want to see him stop trying to hurt/attack/gnash his teeth at other dogs/things he doesn’t understand like garbage trucks. Tall order.

It happened. Ike and I finally called in professional dog trainers. To refresh your memory, we own a Cairn terrier named Buster. Buster is a wonderful companion and loyal friend to all the human people in his life, but he does not know how to deal with the existence of other dogs. Or at least he can’t deal with it constructively. We didn’t know how to stop these negative and escalating reactions; we needed help. Help has come in the form of See Spot Sit Dog Training. Good news! They feel like they can ‘fix’ him! I think they are right. I saw and learned a lot of good things, and that was just during our free consultation. For details, read on. And if you do anything (Little Rock dog owners), visit See Spot Sit’s site. They offer a lot of great services!

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