Saturday, February 27, 2010

Change in Plans

When we woke up Saturday morning and looked out the balcony window, this is what greeted us. Well, really, I knew at 6:30 when I ran Sadie out to the bathroom but still. The picture helps, no? Even if it was taken through a screen.

The day before, no snow. Today, snow. Now, we were up for running in the cold. Some of us a bit more enthusiastic than others. But, snow? Nuts to that. Sorry, heart health. We'll have to support you in some other way. I would have fallen down so many times on that course. It would not have been pretty and I would have messed up my over-priced shoes. Pffft. Instead, I decided to bake scones. Mmmmm.

Earlier in the week I found a recipe for Buttermilk Whole Wheat Scones here at Stephanie Cooks. Because I am all about the whole wheat, I was super interested in these. I love scones. The problem with scones is that when they taste so delicious and buttery, that means they're chock full of butter. This recipe had butter but not nearly the amount I was afraid of. They were delicious! Here they are before they went in the oven.

I didn't think it was necessary to show you the empty plate after shot. But, John and I had to restrain ourselves not to eat all of them. We showed some restraint at two apiece. YUM! Also, I only had to buy one ingredient; the rest I had on hand. I love when that happens. And really, I did have raisins, which she says you can substitute but I'll take any excuse to sub in Craisins. And since we're all about counting calories at Chez John & Ashley, I estimated each slice has about 125 calories. Not bad!

Now, off to the mall!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

TGIF -- Almost

OK, no joke, I opened up this post to start typing, and Sadie stepped on the Enter key and posted a blank box. She must have lots to share with her doggie readers.


Y'all, I am in need of some retail therapy. I feel like I haven't been shopping in FOREVER! I take that back. I haven't had a successful shopping trip in forever. I did go to the outlets a couple weeks ago but only spent $6. Lame. So, we're headed to the mall this weekend and I'm super excited. Buying things always cheers me up and I've got the winter blues, big time. The problem with building up a shopping trip this much is I'm almost always disappointed by the outcome. I guess I'll never know if I don't try. Right? I'm not even in search of anything specific so I have better odds of coming out loading with packages.

I promised John two dinners out this weekend. TWO! Unheard of. This is in order to prepare for our month-long restaurant hiatus. Also, we're moving our grocery shopping to Friday night for the second week in a row. Watch out now. This is because we are losers and never have plans on Friday night. This means we can sleep in on Sunday now because we don't have to beat the rush to Meijer. Anyway, Friday we're going to Noodles & Co. which is a restaurant we have just discovered. It is a chain so maybe there's one near you and boy howdy is it GOOD! And inexpensive. Thumbs up! Saturday night is our actual Last Hurrah at Bonefish Grill. Yum. And we have a gift card. Thumbs up again. Thumbs up for everyone!

I guess my point is, this week and February in general have been long and hellacious. I won't be sad to see them go.

Brrrrracing for a Race

Even though it's crazy, I successfully convinced John to run a 2 Mile race this weekend. Yes, it's still February in Ohio and the high for that day is only in the 20's. No, we don't ever run in cold weather. Yes, we have only run inside since our lovely Thanksgiving trip to Austin. But, it's only 2 miles. That's nothing! We'll be running for 20 minutes (less for John) and then we can go inside to a health fair where I'm expecting to pick up as much free stuff as possible. And it's a for a good cause....heart health! We like healthy hearts so why not support it?

This kicks off my goal of running 5 races in 2010. Last year on the 4th of July we ran our first and only race and had a lot of fun. So, I want to do more this year. Even though it's not a 5K, I'm still counting it. I've never run a 2 mile competitive race so I'll chalk it up as a learning experience.

Can my pace give me a finishing time below 20:00? Is my foot pain going to hold off until I'm done? Will snot freeze to my face? (Sorry that was gross). Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Food Rules

Food Rules is the latest in Michael Pollan's what to/what not to eat writings. It is comprised of 64 relatively common sense rules for eating. Well, common sense for most people although we are an obese country so maybe I'm putting too much faith in America's sense. Anyway, Pollan swiftly describes little credences and adages that are easy to remember. My favorite, "No sweets, seconds or snacks on days that don't start with S."

Here's the thing about Food Rules. Each of these rules is less than a page. So, this book took me approximately 20 minutes to read. I almost feel like I shouldn't count it towards my 2010 total reading list but, I'm going to anyway because I am the keeper of my reading rules. So, while Food Rules is very easy to swallow (pun intended - ha!), you're not going to get a whole lot of background behind these rules. If you want a more in depth look at Pollan's theories, try reading his last book, In Defense of Food. In that one, you'll basically get these 64 rules followed by much more detailed descriptions. However, if you just want it in small bites (I'm on a roll!) stick with Food Rules.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Because my weight loss has not been going so well, I decided I needed to step up my game a bit. John and I do really well with our eating during the week and just kind of blow it on the weekends. We justify this by saying you need a day to cheat a little on the calories. This is true, but we take the cheating a bit too far. Remember that bag of bunny corn? We finished it in a day and a half. I mostly blame myself on that one. Anyway. We're also trying to cut down our sodium intake. We don't add extra salt to our food but that stuff everywhere, yo! The main culprit for sodium: restaurants. When you go out to eat, you just have no idea what's going on in the kitchen and what extra bad things they're putting in your meal.

Thus, the Challenge.

Parameters: For the month of March, John and I will not eat a single meal in a restaurant. All meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, will be made with food in our very own kitchen.

Reason: To help move past our plateau, to cut back on sodium/fat/calories/etc, and an added bonus -- it saves money!

Caveat: We are each allowed to have one Shamrock shake from McDonald's in March at some point because this is the only time of year you can get them so we are allowing this one indulgence.

Because John and I don't always have a lot of excitement going on in our lives, we often count going out for dinner as our sole source of Saturday night entertainment. We really don't eat out all that often. I'd say 3-5 times a month including lunches and dinners. However, when I posed this challenge to John, he very begrudgingly excepted (read: was cajoled). Oh sure, there were complaints. "But what will we do for fun?" As if eating is the only thing we can think of. Pfft. I already have lots of fun plans lined up for March to take the place of the excitement that is dining out. What does it really say about us when we plan our meals out weeks in advance and often find them the only things to look forward to? If you're placing that much excitement on food, isn't that wrong? "Do we really have to do this?" Yes, honey, we do. It's more about proving that we can, in my mind, than anything else. I'll count my sister ("But you don't eat out that much anyway") and my mom ("That seems a bit harsh") in the nay-sayers camp aswell. Full disclosure, John doesn't think we can do it. So, I've got a little something extra to prove there.

You may or may not know that your weight is 80% determined by diet and only 20% affected by exercise. Since we've got the exercise portion down, our weight loss failures must be diet based.

Stay tuned to see if we can meet our challenge, and if we can finally curb our weekend pig outs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Help

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, has been on the Best seller list for weeks and months on end. I don't think it's still #1 but this book was published last year and I think it's been on ever since. It was one of those books that I waited forever for on the hold list and, along with all the other ones, came in for me a couple weeks ago. I did a bad thing with this book. Because I didn't want to wait for it again and I couldn't renew it, I kept it over its due date by 5 days. (hangs head in shame) Anyway, onto The Help.

The Help follows three women, two African-American maids and a society gal, in 1950's Jackson, Missisippi. Tensions are thick in the south regarding civil rights and this story plays right along with it. Aibileen has been a maid her whole life, waiting on the white folk, raising their babies. She works for Elizabeth Leefolt, a twenty-something mother who knows nothing about caring for her daughter and everything about planning luncheons. Minny, Aibileen's best friend and also a maid, is outspoken and often gets canned for her sass-mouth. And then there's Skeeter Phelan, a white society gal, who is friends with all of the maids' bosses. Skeeter (real name Eugenia) has just graduated from college and gets a job writing a housekeeping column for the newspaper with Aibileen's guidance. The story moves between the points of view of these strong women and works hard to show what they all have in common.

I really enjoyed all of the characters, even the villianous ones, in The Help. Stockett weaves the lives of these women together seamlessly. She gives the story twists and an unpredictable (to a certain extent) path. It reads relatively quickly for being a larger book but that can mostly be attributed to my insatiable curiosity of the outcome.

Thumbs up for The Help!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Les fetes des weekend

This weekend, we're headed up north for a wedding (dry) and a birthday (no cake). Nevertheless, we're looking forward to seeing family and celebrating these two occasions. We have not been home since Christmas. It always feels strange to call it home considering we live in Dayton full time and have for nearly 5 years. So, that's not really our home anymore and hasn't been for some time. Anyway, this wedding has no booze. I have never been to a dry wedding before. I'll be sure to fill you in on all the not-so-sordid details.

In a wonderful turn of events, we struck it rich at Meijer tonight! John and I have been on the hunt for Valentine's candy corn/mellowcremes. Sadly, we found none. I was going to order some online for John as a surprise but you could only purchase it by the pound and it was pricey. I didn't really think we needed a whole pound of sugar. Since the stores starting putting out their Easter candy, we scour the aisles for Bunny corn. If you're not familiar with Bunny Corn, it's candy corn in pastel shades for Easter. See?

Oh, glorious day! Brach's calls it Pastel Candy Corn but I prefer to call it Bunny Corn. It's cuter and Pastel Candy Corn is a mouthful. I guarantee my sister is jealous of this find. She loves candy corn as much as we do. B, have you found it in Texas? You will have to let me know.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tales from the Office Bathroom

It's been awhile since something crazy happened in the bathroom at work. Well, at least something crazy that I reported to you. There's always something going on in there! At the end of the day today, I went to the bathroom to rinse out the coffee pot. There was a woman from another office at the second sink washing her hands. We'll call her Jill. Jill is a whack-a-doo. No joke. She's often in the bathroom crying or holding her head in her hands. She can also often be found pacing the halls shouting at someone on her cell phone. The language on this one! She honestly wanted to check herself into the psych ward the other day. She's nuts. I try my darnedest not to make eye contact with her when I see her. I don't like to invite crazy in. One of my employees is, apparently, more caring than I, because sometimes she'll get sucked into Jill's nuttiness and ask, "What's wrong?" Oh the stories she tells.

Anyway, I dump out the coffee and start rinsing.

Anne: That's all the good stuff. (she's smiling, which is rare)
Ashley: Oh, I'm sorry I would have saved it for you. (I say in a joking tone. I have to tread lightly here.)
Anne: That part has the most get up and go.
Ashley: Well, there'll be more tomorrow.

Then she leaves and I breathe a sigh of relief. I go into the stall because I go to the bathroom after I wash the coffee pot before my long drive home. No one else was in the bathroom but when I was in the stall, someone did come in. Mystery person says:

MP: There's my girl with the pretty long blonde hair.


Having heard the voice, I know that it's this annoying woman in yet another office, my bathroom BFF --in her eyes, and I can only assume she's speaking to me. Though she did not see me. Because I am not a stall talker, I flat out refuse to get sucked into a conversation mid-pee and I ignore her. I'm also slightly confused about whether she's speaking to me. My hair is only nearly shoulder length.

BBFF: Always cleaning out that coffee pot.

I still ignore her. I think when I didn't respond to her first comment, she was trying to make me realize it was her because when she sees me in the bathroom at the end of the day, she always, always comments on my cleaning of the coffee pot. Because this is fascinating?

At this point, she goes into her own stall and I get the heck out of dodge. I flush and then wash my hands as quickly as possible. She probably thinks I'm rude for not responding but I don't care. I don't talk in the stall, and neither should you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

I was drawn to this book by Rhoda Janzen by its title, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home. That's gotta be good, right? Throw in the fact that I'm oddly intrigued by extremely religious sects and I'm sold. Janzen was raised in the Mennonite community and moved away for school. She became an English professor and when her husband leaves her and she is injured in a debilitating car accident, she moves back in with her parents and all the other Mennonites of her childhood. As she reintegrates into this world, Janzen learns how to deal with the recent hardships in her life gracefully and humorously.

This book was downright funny! I even had some laugh out loud moments. I love when that happens. Laughing out loud at a book, that is. Janzen is a wonderful story teller which clearly comes through with every page turn. There were some parts that were a little slow going but I think that's because I was really trying to read this quickly. It's overdue and so is my next book. I'm being a bad library patron and keeping it until I'm finished. Oops!

Anyway, read this one if you're looking for a laugh and a peek into a different world the likes of which you've never seen.

In other news, I'm not exactly on track with my 'Wedding Weight by Anniversary Date' endeavor. I really need to get back at it. This past weekend was a total calorie fest and while I'm doing everything right this week, it didn't erase all of those gluttonous wrongs. Gotta buckle down.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Redux

Before I get into my Valentine's Day, I have something else to address. Snow, enough is enough. I think we can all agree that your day is done. You've had your fun and even though it's only halfway through February, it's really time for you to go. I am tired of brushing you off my windshield and driving in you. I am also tired of being a nervous passenger in a car while driving in you. You make it un-fun outside. There is so much of you here in Dayton that when Sadie jumps in you, you cover her back. Only her poor little head pokes out. She hates this. Get thee to Vancouver, where they really need you, post haste!

On Sunday, my parents got on the road after breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Mmmmm, fried apples. Just because it was Valentine's Day did not mean we could lounge around feeding each other grapes. No sir. We bundled up for our normal errands and even got ourselves to the gym after a weekend of gluttony. I am pleased to report that while my foot did start hurting something fierce towards the end, my pace on my first 2 miles is back where it used to be. Super fantastic!

John sent me flowers at work earlier in the week because he's awesome. This is one of the lilies that opened up over the weekend. A whole week later and they still look great!

We decided we didn't feel like going out to eat so we picked up some stuffed chicken breasts at Meijer (not so great) and I tried a new side dish. The recipe for Toasted Orzo with Peas and Pasta is here. It was delicious! I love orzo. Let me tell you, this makes a TON of food. I even cut it in half and it fed John and me as a side dish for three nights, because we practice portion control when possible. Anyway, you should try it out. I also bought some tiramisu, which was quite tasty.

With dinner, we cracked a bottle of wine we purchased on our travels in Niagara on the Lake. I am so reluctant to open these because they are special and you can't get them around here. I have to remind myself of that line in Sideways about not waiting for a special occasion to open special wine. The day you open the wine, that's what makes it special. So, I gave in to John's pleas and uncorked a bottle of Pinot Noir Rose from Inniskillin (our favorite winery!)

Here is the bottle, and Sadie with a haircut. She's so cute. Anyway, the label on the bottle suggests this wine "displays aromas of strawberry and rhubarb. On the palate, cranberry and raspberry notes combine with a touch of spice and lead to a refreshing finish." Couldn't have said it better myself!

A lovely Valentine's Day indeed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

For Your Drinking Pleasure

I bought a bottle of Shoo Fly’s Buzzcut last week but didn’t get to tell you about it yet. I am a big fan of Australian wines. You can get them on the cheap (Little Penguin, Yellowtail) and they’re still pretty tasty in that lower price point. I can’t remember how much the bottle was but since I don’t tend to splurge on random bottles, it was probably around $10. It may have even been on sale. Buzzcut is a blend of 4 grape varieties: Riesling, Viognier, Verdelho and Chardonnay. I wasn’t pairing it with a specific meal and the bottle doesn't give any suggestions. This was just so so. It had a very crisp taste to start but ended kind of buttery (not a great combination on the palate). I’ve had other Shoo Fly’s before but not the Buzzcut. I probably wouldn’t buy it again. Sorry, Buzz.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Catching Fire

WARNING: If you haven’t yet read Hunger Games and are planning to do so (which you should because it’s awesome!) you should not read my review/slight summary of Catching Fire. Just know that Catching Fire is equally as awesome as HG if not more so. Come back after you’ve read both of them!

Catching Fire is Suzanne Collins’ second book in this series. At the end of Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta are crowned victorious and head back to District 12 as victors. However, the win does not come without its consequences from the Capitol. President Snow is angry that Katniss has found a way to trick them into letting both her and Peeta live. She is still grappling with pretending to be in love with Peeta and facing her feelings for Gale. Peeta and Katniss must also embark on their Victory Tour to all of the Districts where they start to learn of unrest among the citizens. Everyone is disgusted with the Capitol it seems and an uprising is imminent. The Hunger Games roll around again and this year is dubbed the Quarter Quell, which happens every 25 years following the Capitol’s victory over the Districts and what started the Hunger Games in the first place (as a reminder of the Capitol’s power). The Quarter Quell typically dishes up a more difficult game than in other years of the Games.

That was only a partial summary but I can’t go further because I don’t want to ruin the part of the book where I gasped out loud (actually that happened a few times). Anyway, if you liked Hunger Games, you’ve got to read Catching Fire. The Mockingjay (the third installment) is set to come out in August. How will I ever wait that long?! I use my trusty library for everything but that is one book I just might have to buy. I don’t think I can bare waiting on the hold list. OK, go read Catching Fire!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Parental Invasion

Blogging this weekend may be intermittent as my parents are in town for a visit. They live most of the year in Florida so I made sure to order up a good foot of snow to remember what it’s like living in Ohio. Speaking of snow… the bathroom at work there is a little sign that says ‘Let it Snow’ and there’s a snowman on it. Every day I want to punch that snowman in the face. Spring can’t come fast enough. I digress. I really enjoy when my parents visit, however, in the winter it’s difficult to come up with activities for them. When the weather is warmer, the men golf and the ladies shop. Well, the ladies can still shop but what are the men to do? This Saturday we’ll be having a romantic Valentine’s Day observed dinner in so that we don’t have to mess with restaurant crowds. Romantic, no? We’re having salmon, as yet undetermined side dishes, and hot fudge sundae cake in the crockpot! I was going to do Martha’s lava cakes but don’t really feel like putting in the effort. I think I’m using a Martha recipe on the salmon though. I trust Martha.

John and I are not huge celebrators of V Day. We haven’t done gifts for it since college but he did send me flowers to work earlier this week. Wasn’t that nice? What did I get him? Nothing. I’ll have to come up with something, even though he told me not to worry about it. I still feel like a schmuck giving him the V-Day shaft. I’m also trying to come up with a different meal for Sunday night that I would cook for just the two of us after my parents leave. It was going to be steak but we ended up at Outback last night (which was pretty rough after you’ve had Fleming’s). So, I’m left scouring my cookbooks for a suitable romantic menu replacement. Suggestions welcome……

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Push, a novel by Sapphire

I have not yet seen the Oscar nominated, Golden Globe winning movie Precious. You know how I like to read books before seeing the movie. So, I waited quite awhile on the hold list for Push, by Sapphire -- which Precious is based on. Push is the story of Clareece 'Precious' Jones, an illiterate teen in New York City in the 1980's. Physically and sexually abused by her mother and birthing two children after being raped by her father, one at age 12, the other at 17, Precious finds herself kicked out of school because of her pregnancy. Her first child, born with Down's Syndrome, is taken away to be raised by her grandmother. By the time she's pregnant by her father again, Precious thinks there's likely no hope for her son and the rest of her life.

Eventually, she goes to an alternative school for illiterate teens where Miss Rain takes her under her wing and guides her through life. Precious works hard to learn how to read in a quest to better her life and be rid of her mother. Push is utterly heartbreaking. It's a depressing story but, well, I won't tell you about the ending. Can't wait to see the movie now!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I am not a baker.

I never should have let my baking successes at Christmas fool me. I am not a baker. I am a decent cook. I cannot bake. My sister likes to bake and I like to cook. She is the yin to my yang in the kitchen. Stupidly, I thought I would attempt to make homemade fortune cookies for my staff for Valentine's Day. I had grandiose visions of dipping the ends in white chocolate and sprinkling them with red sugar. How foolish of me. This recipe seemed easy enough. It had very few ingredients, always a plus. Things even seemed like they were going so well. See?

You fold them over a glass to get the classic shape. See my fortunes to the right there? They say Happy Valentine's Day. That's not really a fortune. More of a well wishing. Anyway, check out my first two. Not bad, eh?

After that it all went down hill. The next few cracked and I was forced to eat them. I even ate one cracked one while John took Sadie outside to get rid of the evidence of my defeat. Then I burned my fingers multiple times because you have to work quickly or they don't fold right. I only finished five. I needed 12.

I know I'm not a good baker. It's ok. It's just frustrating when things don't work correctly the first time. But I suppose, if at first I don't succeed....maybe move onto cut-outs?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Productive Weekend

For a weekend that we didn't have much going on, we sure did a lot. First, on Friday night, we found ourselves quickly buried under what would become 8 inches of snow. That led to a lazy Saturday morning when we told ourselves that surely the rec center was closed and there was no possible way we could work out. Might as well brew a pot of coffee and watch TV under a blanket.....until 2:00 pm. Oops. By that point, we decided we ought to venture out bravely and accomplish something worthwhile.

So, we went to AT&T. Yes, we FINALLY made the decision to switch carriers. John is over the moon for his new iPhone. I got an iPhone too, begrudgingly, although I do like it. I just feel like it's an added monthly expense that I don't really need. I'm sure it won't be long before I feel that my iPhone is like an extra appendage and I can't live without it. I would trade my iPhone for a new right foot though. Oh well. At least the never-ending debate over which carrier to go with has now ended. Praise be!

After more than an hour at AT&T, (why does that always take so long?) we got ready to go to dinner with some friends down south. We met at BJ's Brewhouse which is a chain but they brew their own beer. We had a tasting sampler trying their Hefeweizen (really good and citrusy), a Red (also delightful), a Porter (dark and creamy), and a Stout (not our fave -- a bit too intense). Good conversation with good company and then back home to free the beast (Sadie). Oh, and prior to dinner, I bought three pairs of shoes at Dillard's! They were all 70% off so even though I'm not supposed to be spending money and even though they're all brown, each serves a very specific purpose and replaces a worn and sometimes painful to my feet counterpart. 3 pairs for $60, you can't beat that with a stick!

Sunday was busycleaning, running errands and doing our taxes. Hello, refund! And also getting Sadie's hair cut. I feel badly because it's very cold and her hair is now very short but she couldn't see and it was long overdue. Then, running at the rec and home to prepare for the Super Bowl!

I like the Super Bowl for a few reasons. First and foremost, the food. Because this type of fare is not something I eat often (wings, potato skins, etc.) I feel like the Super Bowl gives you a free pass on calories, even though that's not really true. John and I made meatball subs. They were ah-mazing. I used a meatball recipe from Martha. She never lets me down. I also made a knock-off version of my very favorite dip in the world, Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno. Chuy's is my favorite Mexican restaurant, found only in Texas. My sister rolls her eyes at me because Chuy's is a chain and not 'authentic Mexican.' I guess it only takes 4 years of living in Texas to become a Mexican food snob. Anyway, this dip is outta sight! It's not spicy, despite the jalapeno. Well, my first attempt at this recipe-a-like was just so so. I cut it in half because otherwise, it called for a quart of mayo. A quart! Even halving it made a ton. We'll be eating this for weeks. Anyway, I used chiles, which was a mistake, because they don't pack hardly any kick. I got nervous when the can of jalapenos said "HOT" on it. And also, do not use Miracle Whip as your mayo. It has a very distinct flavor that I don't mind on sandwiches, but does not suit this dip. So, next time I will follow the recipe a bit more closely, and use Hellman's. But, it's not bad.....if you've never eaten Chuy's, that is. You wouldn't know what you're missing anyway.

Another reason I really like the Super Bowl is that it ends football season. WHEEE!!!! I like to try to be a supportive football wife (this sounds like I'm married to a player -- let's be clear that I'm not). I watch the games with John and try to feign interest (sorry, honey) but it wears on me. Week after week, month after month. Much like our cell phone debate, football seems never-ending. But, also much like our cell phone debate which ended this weekend, so does football! I'm free until pre-season, well, until the draft really but that's only one weekend in April. OH! I just found out we'll be in Florida for the draft which means John will just be glued to his iPhone instead of comandeering the TV. I used to also like the Super Bowl for the halftime show but they only ever have boring people on now. Also, the commercials aren't as good as they used to be. So to sum up, the Super Bowl is good for: 1) eating sporty foods, 2) celebrating the end of the season.

Hope you all had a great weekend like I did!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pet Silhouette

I wasn't going to post this until I found a suitable frame for this project. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time soon. I keep forgetting I need this frame when I'm out and about. Plus, I've got some busy weekends coming up which will make it difficult to shop. Anyway, here it is!

I forget where I first saw this project but since there was no accompanying tutorial with the picture I found, I went it alone.

For this project you will need: animal (one), scissors, two constrasting pieces of printed or plain scrapbook paper (I used 12x12), a pencil, and glue or some sort of adhesive to stick the silhouette on the background.

1) Have a photo shoot with your pet. Sometimes they are uncooperative with this task. Persevere. If you don't get a good profile picture, this project will be crappy. Try to get a standing and sitting shot so you have some choices.

2) Print out your favorite photos. Oops, I guess I forgot to tell you that you'll also need a computer and printer. My bad.

3) Now you begin the arduous task of cutting out the pet part of the photo only. This will not be difficult if your pet has short hair. If your pet is of a poodle breed, like Sadie, this will take some fancy ninja cutting skills. You want to be sure you get all those curls, right? This is the cut out Sadie (I chose the seated version because her head was turned in the other one.) And also the peacock blue and paisley paper that I'm using.

4) Once you've cut out your Sadie photo (or your pet of course), you will still need to cut out the silhouette from the pretty paper. I suggest tracing the outline of the pet onto the back of your printed paper but flip it first, so she's facing the right way on the other side. You won't have to worry about pencil lines on the front and if you have a dark or busy print, the pencil traces will be hard to see when cutting.

5) Here is paisley Sadie. I love paisley.

6) Then, you can adhere paisley Sadie to the background. I used one of those wheels with little adhesive strips that you use in scrapbooking. A gluestick would probably work just as well. Elmer's glue probably is not what you'd want to use. TA-DA!

See? She needs a frame but you get the idea. I'll probably crop it closer to the silhouette depending on the size frame I find. Don't you want to silhouette your pet?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol is the third Robert Langdon novel by Dan Brown. I'm sure you've read or know of the other two, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. I have been on the hold list for The Lost Symbol since it came out in October. So, I've been waiting quite awhile to read this. Anyway, in The Lost Symbol, Robert Langdon is summoned to Washington D.C. to crack a code (Surprise!) Along the way, Robert consorts with an old friend (sound familiar?), a female scientist (no kidding!), a demonic protagonist (creepy, bald guy!) and a cast of characters that could be good or evil (For reals?!) My point is, if you've read the other two, this one follows the exact same formula. The Lost Symbol delves into the society of Freemasonry and the secrets it holds....enter Robert and his code-cracking ways. It also pits religion against science and weaves a web between the two.

Although it may not seem like it from the above paragraph, I did enjoy The Lost Symbol. It was suspenseful and I like Brown's writing style which is jumpy but keeps you interested. The story moves. I also liked that it was set in D.C. The other two were European based and it was nice to be able to picture the places Langdon went that I've also been to. If you've never read anything by Brown, start with Da Vinci Code, but this is a close second.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nocturnal Admissions

I think I've told you John often talks in his sleep. Usually when this happens I try to keep him talking and have a nonsensical conversation. Because it's hilarious. Last night:

John (raising his hands up in the air): Why is there blue everywhere?
Ashley: What?
John: Blue. It's just blue everywhere.
Ashley: What's blue?
John (shaking hands in the air): There blue everywhere!!
Ashley: I think you're asleep.
John: No, it's blue.
Ashley: Go to sleep.

Apparently, he was talking about blue highlighter. The highlighter had leaked all over his hands. He couldn't tell me that this morning when we woke up and I asked him, but he remembered that fact just now as I relayed the events again. He was quite adamant during this particular sleep talking and the hand gestures were just icing on the cake.

Do you have a sleep talker in your life? This woman at Sleep Talkin' Man does. If you want to laugh for hours, check out her blog. Her husband is way more loquacious than John. Something for him to aspire to.

SOOOOOO EXCITED for the season premiere of LOST beginning in less than an hour. WHEEEE!!!!