Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sufferin' Succotash

We were up very early for a Saturday morning and out the door by 8am. We headed to Syracuse to CBA for the Post Standard written spelling test portion of the Spelling Bee. Registration began at 8:45, where we were then led into a cafeteria. The room was full of 200 greasy-haired, pimply-faced 12 and 13 year olds... along with their family members. We sat for 45 minutes until the children were called down to take the hour-long test. They returned and we waited another hour for the tests to be corrected. Alex told me a few of the words that were on the test and we looked them up in the book. ('cause I sure didn't know how to spell them right!) He realized he had spelled "succotash" incorrectly... and then he also figured out he spelled "homogeneous" wrong as well. So his hopes were fading as he was going over the words in his head...

During the long wait, I had wished I had brought my laptop. I could have accomplished many things during that long 3 hour wait in that chilly cafeteria! But I was thankful I did at least bring a book. And the Post Standard had free newspapers for the taking as well.

At 11:30am, the top 35 were announced, and unfortunately, Alex was not among them. But that's ok, he'll get 'em next year. This was his first year, so it was a very good learning experience.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Puppy Power

Could there be anything cuter than this? I'm a little sad that a Corgi didn't make the starting lineup, but it's still quite adorable and worth a look. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Games R Us

Everybody in the house has a game system but me. Not that I'm upset by that, it's just a fact. I've never been a big "gamer"... the Wii looks fun, but it takes effort to get it set up. The only time I've ever played is if Alex asks me to play. I've never used it by myself. Eric has an X-Box 360, and I've never used it. I keep meaning to give it a try... not one of the shoot-em-up games though. I'm not really a shoot-em-up kind of girl. I like fun games, games that make me think, games that teach me things or make me feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. (Yes, I'm sure those shoot-em-up games have all of those criteria... sort of.)

Tonight we went to the mall and stopped at GameStop. I got it in my head that I wanted a game. I realized, I DO have a game system of my own. It's called a computer. (Duh!) I've played a few Tycoon games and enjoyed those, so I was looking for something along those lines. Then I found this:

Cooking Academy. Yes, I know how to cook. But I've never been a "Master Chef"! I'm going to master chopping, kneading, mashing, flipping and frying... I'm going to make Creme Brulee and Egg Rolls... and it's going to be fun! Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Move over Hannah... it's Amanda Montana!

Tonight we went to Gary & Paula's house for a send-off to Sheila & Rich who are headed to Florida for the next 2 months. (Lucky!) We had pizza and played Uno... and I discovered Laura's Hannah Montana costume! She helped me get into it here...

There was a sparkly belt, a faux fur vest, a pretty blonde wig and a hat.... there was more, but that's all that would fit me...

I knew I should've been a fake rock-star! The kids were very amused with my silliness.

There was also a very heated game of Uno... and everybody played...

Eric was very serious about the hand he was dealt... and Paula got lots of help from Kelly.

Laura was VERY excited at one point during the game while Gary studied his cards and Sheila looked on.

The older kids however, were not quite as excited about our fun game... but Kelsey managed to win the Uno game anyway. Not sure how she did with the video game she was playing...

The Interview

I've seen variations of this on other blogs. I'm going to interview myself. It looked like fun, so I'm going to try it too. Feel free to do the same if you have a blog. And if you don't have a blog yet... what are you waiting for!? Get one!! You know you want to.

1. Why did you start a blog?
Because it looked like fun. RB and Miftik inspired me. I'd read blogs, wanted to start one, but wasn't sure how or where I should start. Then I just did it. Now it's a part of me and sometimes consumes my thoughts trying to decide what to write about. But it's fun going back to read through it sometimes, it's kind of a like a diary, except my mom can read it too.

2. What was your dream job when you were 13 and why did or didn’t you pursue it?
I think my dream job might have been to be a Princess... more specifically Princess Diana. For the obvious reasons, I couldn't pursue this as a career, but I could dream... Diana's wedding to Prince Charles was beautiful, her life was a fairy tale. Well, until the end anyway. And now I'm rather pleased that being Princess Diana never came to be. I also wanted to be a teacher and sometimes still wish I had gone that route, especially in the summers when teachers are on vacation...

3. What is your first memory?
I'm not sure I have an actual "first memory" but more a block of images and memories from a specific period in my life. I sort of view my life in "blocks". We moved every 2-3 years, so each place that we lived were my "blocks" of memories. I think my earliest, clearest memories are from our second house in Virginia. I remember the layout of the house. I remember playing outside and stepping on a bee once, I remember my dad teaching me to ride a bike in the cul-de-sac. I also remember meeting Heisman trophy winner Joe Bellino in that house. (Well, maybe I don't remember that very well... but I have seen the photos of me sitting on the couch with him!)

4. In the movie of your life, what would the soundtrack be (it can be one album or a compilation of songs)?
Oh, this is too easy. Barry Manilow's "Mandy" to start, Boston's "Amanda" to finish. It's all about me, right?

5. What would you tell your 10 year old self if you saw her sitting in front of you right now?
Don't stop running. You have a natural talent to run, don't ever stop. Work hard, train hard, don't ever stop.

And who doesn't like a cute Panda photo?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spring Fever

It got above freezing today and it was wonderful! It even climbed into the 40s and I went out during my lunch hour and washed my car. I even went to the one where you do it yourself. It was so nice being outside without my face freezing the moment I stepped out...

I also went to Old Navy after I washed the car and noticed they have all their Spring clothes out. I didn't buy anything (well, except for a pair of $4 pants for Alex... I love finding deals!)... but it was great seeing the colorful spring clothes on display. It gives me hope.

The unfortunate side to the nice weather today is that it's not going to last very long. Temperatures are already falling as I write this and tomorrow it's going to go down to zero again. Brrr!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Bad Little Corgi

Isn't she a sad little dog? She's hiding in the corner here, not looking at me because she knows she was bad. It's hard not to laugh when she acts like this. It really cracks me up. You don't really even have to punish her because she knows what she did was wrong. All you have to do is point a finger at her and say her name in that "tone" and she knows. That's all it takes. Unfortunately, she keeps doing it, so as much as she knows it's wrong, it's not stopping her from doing it...

Here's the corner of the curtain that she chewed up. There are several corners just like this. I refuse to replace them because I know she's just going to destroy whatever I put there.

In more positive news, LOST is back tonight. I've forgotten how it ended last season. Which was quite a long time ago. I think I was still living in the townhouse the last time I watched it. I really wish they'd stop messing with the schedule. Because now I'm having to sit through an hour long re-cap just so I can remember where it left off. But it's so good... and confusing... and interesting... and strange... but I'm hooked!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things I Learned Today...

I pretty much watched TV all day today. We had no newscasts or other daily shows, so aside from working on some long-term projects and some graphics for tomorrow, I mostly just watched the Inauguration Festivities.

Here's a few of the things I learned today.

1. Obama is the 8th left-handed president.

2. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton don't like each other.

3. Harry Truman had the first televised Inauguration.

4. Ronald Reagan's Inaugurations were the coldest and the warmest in history. The first was the warmest (55 degrees), the second was the coldest (7 degrees).

5. I watch far too much TV.

In Honor of the Day...

This idea is totally stolen from my friend Robin (thanks!)... but I thought it would be fun to post this poll today. Vote for your favorite political/presidential movie and tell me why in the comments. Don't be shy! I know there are lots of you who read this blog who don't normally like to leave comments... so jump right in! 


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
All the President's Men
The American President
Citizen Kane
Wag the Dog
Primary Colors
The Manchurian Candidate (either version)
Air Force One

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Summer Vacation

V-a-c-a-t-i-o-n... we're gonna have a ball! With much discussion, debating, etc, we have decided to go to the Cape once again this summer for our vacation. Last summer we didn't take a "real" vacation... we got married and bought a house. This year, we're going to go back to the beach for some much needed rest and relaxation. Here is a photo of our pending vacation home. (We're reserved in pencil.) It's in Sandwich again and right across the street from the beach. Anyone who is living in the area and would like to stop by, you are more welcome to visit us... we'd love to see you!! I can't wait to feel the warm sand between my toes and the sun on my face...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pink Things and the Power of Blogging

I discovered the Valentine's Candy at Wal-Mart yesterday. I couldn't resist getting a bag of fun pink M&Ms and making cookies with them. Sooo good!

I also picked up some pink candy corn... also known as Cupid Corn. Very fun! We couldn't decide if it tasted like regular candy corn or strawberries. Or if it was just the color that was making us think they tasted like strawberries. Either way, it's pure sugary goodness.

I follow a lot of blogs. There is one in particular that in the last couple of days has really fascinated me and just really made me feel good about the power of blogging. I've never met the author of the blog, nor have I ever left comments or let her even know I read her blog. I read tons of blogs where this is the case. I just enjoy seeing what others blog about and eventually I look forward to reading about their daily lives. Sometimes I leave comments and eventually even befriend some of the bloggers.

Anyway, this woman's name is Kelly. I have followed her blog for the last 2 months or so. She's been pregnant with her first child and was induced yesterday after being a few days past her due date. She's an adorable, sweet, Christian Southern girl and you just can't help but become interested in her life and her story. I'm not sure if any of my other friends who read blogs have come across this one, but it's really worth checking out. She had a heck of a day yesterday, her little baby girl ended up having some problems after the birth and had to be flown to Tulsa, OK for emergency treatment. The posts were so intriguing, I kept checking all day and evening for updates on this poor girl and her family. Me and 30,000 other people! She really has quite a following and has a lot of people praying for her and her new little girl. Anyway, it's quite an uplifting story and I just wanted to share. You can read her blog here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Not Easy Bein' Green

The "Big" mall in Syracuse has gone green. Or at least that's what they're claiming. I will admit I like the special parking spaces. And since I do have a fuel-efficient vehicle, I parked my little red car right in this spot today during my break.

And the reason I had to go the mall? I went to pick up a shirt for Alex. Alex has apparently turned into a teenager and requires brand-name clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch or American Eagle now. At least he's fine with getting items that are on sale or items from the clearance rack. I don't like paying full-price for anything, especially not the over-priced crap from stores like those. (Do I sound old??) $37 for a flimsy t-shirt? $75 for a pair of jeans with holes all over them? No way. He's welcome to buy that stuff with his own money, or when he gets older and gets a job... but while I'm paying, that's simply not going to happen. If I'm not paying that much for clothes for myself, I'm certainly not going to buy them for a child who will outgrow them in a few months. That's crazy!

Tomorrow is Friday, and it's been a long week. Unfortunately for Eric, it's going to be a long Friday too. They've got a Travel-Auction thing at his station tomorrow, so he'll be there until well into the night... probably midnight or later. I'm not sure what the rest of the weekend will bring, but I'm sure it'll be lots of rest and relaxation. Just the way we like it. We've also got 2 movies to watch... "Eagle Eye" and "The Dark Knight".

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dobie the Cat

Meet Dobie. He is 16 1/2 years old. Some of you may already know Dobie. We got him in October of 1992. He was about 4 or 5 weeks old at the time. Dobie got a new home after Alex's father and I separated, neither one of us could take him to our new rental places, so Dobie went to live in a big old farmhouse with a very nice lady. Well, that lady could no longer take Dobie, so Dobie is now back living with Alex's dad. His dad has since bought a house and can have pets again. So that's very good news for Dobie! I really don't think we would have been able to take him, since Jenny would probably have tried to have Dobie for lunch. Jenny doesn't get along well with others... not even a little. Which is too bad, I think they could have had fun together!

Alex has also decided to become highly allergic to cats since Dobie left, so it's probably just as well that Dobie is not going to be staying here. Alex's room at his dad's house has been designated a "cat-free zone", so hopefully the allergies will be kept at bay. Incidentally, does anyone know the life expectancy of a very lazy indoor cat??

Monday, January 12, 2009

Amanda's Day Off

I won't be watching a baseball game at Wrigley Field nor will I get to pretend I'm the Sausage King of Chicago. And I'm pretty sure I won't be driving a red Ferrari around the streets of Chicago, but I promise this will be a wonderful day off. I have nothing official planned. Nothing at all. At the moment I am sitting at the kitchen counter, having coffee, watching TV and looking out the window watching it snow.

Later I'm thinking about gathering the hundreds of returnable cans and bottles that are taking up a lot of space in the garage and taking them to Wegmans. Then I might even go to Target to do some shopping. Upon my return, I'm thinking I might bake some cookies and possibly some banana bread. Then I'll start thinking about doing some laundry... and getting dinner ready. I'm planning on making a nice BBQ pork with mashed potatoes.

And that's about it! I might try to sneak in another movie... or start another book. But mostly I'm going to just enjoy the fact that I don't have to do anything if I don't want to.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Addiction

I have a new addiction... or is it an obsession? Or is that one in the same? I like scarves. Yep, I admit it. I like scarves. The photo above is my official collection. My parents (the antique collectors/dealers) say that once you have 3 of something, you are an official collector. I'd say I'm definitely a collector!

Speaking of obsessions, we watched another movie! "Hancock"... it was fun, nothing too heavy. I wasn't really sure how I felt about it when it was over, I didn't love it, didn't hate it. I could see what they were trying to do, but I felt like I wanted more from the movie and didn't get it. Will Smith was great, as usual. I enjoyed seeing Jason Bateman in a movie, and neither Eric or I recognized Charlize Theron. They all did a fine job with their roles, I think the storyline was the weak spot. I wanted more, but didn't get it. I would give it 3 stars out of 5. Safe, right in the middle kind of rating.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bees and Wings

There's been an change in the Spelling Bee results at Alex's school. (In case you don't recall, he came in 4th and they only take the Top 3 to the next level.) Well, Number 3 dropped out. So now Alex is in. The next step is a written exam on January 31st. Which is only 3 weeks away, so he's got to cram a lot of studying in the next 3 weeks. Only the top 35 kids go on from the written test to appear on the local Post Standard Bee on WCNY in February. Alex has already calculated his odds and apparently has a 17% chance of moving on to the next step... Good Luck Alex!

Today we've been watching the Man vs. Food show on the Travel Channel and we're all very hungry. In one of the episodes, Adam the host visited a Quaker Steak & Lube... and now we want to go. Maybe not to eat the Atomic Wings, but the food looked soo good. And there's a new one in the area and now we want to go. We love wings...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Week In Review

Jeesh, it's Friday tomorrow. How did that happen?? I've been neglecting the blog again. That work thing gets in the way of all the fun. Aside from getting a million more inches of snow we got this week and having lengthy commutes to work, I've been busy with work... and watching movies... and reading books... and cooking new recipes.

This week we watched "Ghost Town". Very cute movie. "He sees dead people... and they annoy him." I loved it. Kind of a chick-flicky, but Eric was sweet and watched it with me. I saw him laugh a few times. Seriously, I did. I think.

I also read the book "Multiple Blessings" by Jon & Kate Gosselin. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the Gosselins... they have a show on TLC called "Jon & Kate plus Eight". They are the couple that had twins and then sextuplets. 8 kids in 4 years. I don't know why, but I am fascinated by them. I watch their show and can only wonder how they have that many kids without going totally insane! "Multiple Blessings" is their story... It was really from Kate's of view, I will say I enjoyed the book. I couldn't put it down. The details of her pregnancy with 6 babies was unreal. She was the size of a regular 7-month pregnant woman when she was only 14 weeks along. She was on best rest shortly after that. It was crazy. But also quite a miracle that she was able to carry them as long as she did and have 6 perfectly healthy babies.

Not sure what's up for the weekend. Mostly quiet and relaxation. I have a long weekend ahead. I took Monday off, just because I wanted to have a random day off for no reason. I can't wait! I hope it snows all day because I won't have to go anywhere. I'm sure it will be sunny and warm just for that reason.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Woodpeckers Don't Migrate

At least the one that was pecking on our house this morning didn't. He was very loud. I thought for a minute that Eric was doing some sort of construction (but honestly, I knew he wasn't...) The woodpecker didn't stay long, he must not have found anything to eat.

In more movie-watching news, I have almost exceeded my entire annual goal. It's been free HBO/Starz weekend. We've now seen... "Jumper", "Santa Claus 3", "Revenge of the Nerds", "27 Dresses", "Catch & Release", "Ghost Rider" and right now we're watching "Dawn of the Dead"... And if you're wondering if we've left the house in the last 3 days, well, only for brief periods of time to stock up on food. I'm going to stop at the library later today to pick up some books. I should start working on that goal now.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Smelly Dog

Jenny was in dire need of a bath today. She doesn't really care for them. Although she sits there nicely and doesn't move during the ordeal, she really doesn't like them much. She runs away when I tell her it's bath time and when I corner her in the bathroom, she gets quite annoyed. But once she's in the water, she calms down.

Once she gets out of the tub, it takes her quite awhile to dry off. Here she is mid-shake. The walls, the floor, the toilet, the tub, and especially me... are covered with that ever pleasant wet dog smell. So after the bath, the bathroom gets a good cleaning too.

Tasty Pot Pie

Last night we had a very yummy chicken pot pie for dinner. I used a recipe from my Betty Crocker Cookbook. It was pretty easy and everybody loved it. So this counts for one of my cookbook recipes for the month. It doesn't however count for trying to be healthy... but that wasn't one of my goals. So the 685 calories/47 gr. fat per serving... doesn't matter!

The Ingredients
1 pkg frozen peas and carrots (I used fresh baby carrots only, cut up)
1/3 cup butter or stick margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups cut-up cooked chicken or turkey
Pastry for 9-inch Two-Crust Pie


Rinse veggies in cold water to separate; drain. Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken and peas and carrots; remove from heat.
Heat oven to 425°. Make pastry. Roll two-thirds of the pastry into 13-inch square. Ease into ungreased square pan, 9 x 9 x2 inches. Pour chicken mixture into pastry-lined pan. Roll remaining pastry into 11-inch square. Cut out designs with 1-inch cookie cutter. Place square over chicken mixture. Arrange cutouts on pastry. Turn edges of pastry under and flute. Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

I cut out fun little hearts from cookie cutters with the remainder of the pie crust and set them on top of the pot pie. Alex really liked that.

So very good! The pot pie was a huge hit. Everybody devoured their helping... and Eric went back for seconds. Good thing he didn't see that calorie count!

Also, in other "goal" news... I watched another movie. (That's 3!) "Burn After Reading". I LOVED it. It was very funny. I really wasn't sure what to expect, didn't know the storyline, but it was a very nice surprise. Not normally a Brat Pitt fan at all, I actually kind of enjoyed his stupid-guy role. It was a quirky, fun little movie.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Movies, movies, movies

I seem to be going gung-ho on the '09 Movie Goal. I have already watched my 2-movie minimum for the month, and that was just on the 1st day. The Netflix "view instantly" feature makes it very easy. It also helps that I haven't been watching a lot of movies in the last few years, so I have so much to catch up on.

My first movie yesterday was "Gone Baby Gone". That was a great movie and I really enjoyed Casey Affleck as the lead role. Personally, I think he's a better actor than his brother Ben. However, Ben directed the movie and I thought it was terrific. Lots of twists and turns. It really leaves you thinking when it's over about what's right and what's wrong. I highly recommend this movie, unless of course you've already seen it, which I'm guessing most people already have!

The other movie I watched yesterday was "Then She Found Me". This movie had a big cast, with Helen Hunt (she also directed it), Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler and Colin Firth. Helen Hunt's character was almost 40 and desperate to have a child, her marriage to Matthew Broderick's immature character was short and ended abruptly. The movie was ok. I'm not sure if I would highly recommend it, but if you're bored and are looking for something to watch, then this might be for you.

As far as my "'09 Cookbook Goal"... I've been scouring my cookbooks looking for something to jump out at me. I have lots of ideas and can't wait to dig in and get started with this goal.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

'09 Goals

After much thought and consideration, I have decided what my resolutions... or "goals" for 2009 will be. And they all involve the blog. (Lucky you!)

1. Use my cookbooks. My first goal will be adopted from Amy. Last year (Or was that 2 years ago?) she decided to try one recipe from each of her cookbooks. Well, mine will be similar, but not as overwhelming. I am going to try 2 new recipes a month from my cookbooks. I have so many of them, they get forgotten on the bookshelf in the dining room. (See photo above.) So this will force me to bring them out and start using them. These recipes can be anything from cookies, to main courses, to a crockpot recipe, to a snack. Anything that will get me using the cookbooks more. And I will post the recipes and results here. Maybe I'll get crazy and do more than 2 per month!

2. Read more books. I go in spurts with books. Usually the winter months will find me reading more. But this year, my goal will be to read (at least) 2 new books a month. And again, I will post my choices and perhaps a quick review here on the blog. My interests vary, so it could be anything from a mystery, to a biography, to a nice trashy romance novel.

3. Watch more movies. DVDs or at the theatre. I will watch more movies. At least 2 per month. I just started up another NetFlix account and tomorrow "Burn After Reading" will arrive. A membership also includes many "Watch instantly" movies, so I am sure to exceed my 2 per month minimum.

That's it! There will be no exercising more, no eating healthier, no being nicer, etc. for me. Not because I don't think I shouldn't do all those things, I most definitely should. But that's too much pressure! And besides, none of that would help me to keep fresh content on my blog. And that is really what is most important! Happy New Year!