Monday, January 31, 2011

Baby Abby

So last week I introduced Abby and her love/hate of squirrels. This week I wanted to share how Abby became a part of my family.

Abby is currently 8 years old, and will be 9 in May. I believe her birthday is May 6, 2002. I got her when she was only 7 weeks old, and she was the length of my foot. I believe she was only about 7 or 8 pounds at that time, and now she is 35 pounds. I remember I used to drive around with her sleeping in my lap and whenever we would go to the Dairy Queen she would try and stand up on my lap to look out the window. The people working the drive-through thought she was so cute and would give her a pup-cup, which was a small cup of vanilla soft serve.

Here is Abby the day I brought her home. She looks like a little doll. I still have that little red collar and can't believe how small her neck was.

So the story about how Abby became a part of my family actually starts a year before I got her. When my ex and I moved in together he had a basset hound named Woody. About 3 months later we ended up with a chocolate lab named Groundhog. Groundhog was one of my ex's friends's dog, and this friend could no longer take care of him, so he ended up at our house. Woody and Groundhog became the best of friends, and about a year later, something happened to Groundhog and he passed away. We are not sure exactly what happened to him, but we think maybe he ate something that caused his stomach to twist.

Woody got so depressed and really missed his buddy. He even got to the point where he wouldn't eat very much any more, and we really started to worry about him. After about a month, we decided we needed to get him a new friend. I had a beagle growing up, and my Grandfather raised beagles, so I researched them online, and found Abby through an ad in the local paper. I did get her through a breeder, but she is not a registered beagle, and I'll be honest, I think this breeder was actually just trying to sell these pups, so I am not sure if she is 100% beagle or not. Some people tell me she has basset hound in her, and at times I do see that. She has longer ears than a beagle, and her hind-end is somewhat like a basset hound (or so I have been told).

When I went to go pick her up there were 3 female beagles left. They brought all 3 of them out into a small pen in the yard for us to watch them play. They all looked the same, and I had no idea which one I wanted. Abby was the first one to pee, so I said, "look, she peed, so she is good to go!" The breeder was about an hour from our house, so I was a little concerned she would go to the bathroom in the car.

When Abby was little her head and ears were almost black. Within the first year her head and ears turned brown, and besides a little gray around her eyes now, she looks about the same as she did from when she was a year old (well, she did put on a few more pounds also, but we don't tell her that!). I did this scrapbook page a while back to show how much she changed over the first year. It's amazing because she looks almost like a different dog!

Abby has always been the baby in the family, even though most of the dogs in my family are younger than her, but it is funny because she has always been the more dominant dog in any situation. I think she loved my ex more than me, and Woody took to me more than my ex, but when we split up, I ended up taking Abby and my ex ended up taking Woody because it was his dog to begin with.

Here is Abby a few months ago, begging for a treat. She is really good at sitting or standing on her hind-legs if you have a treat or some type of food to give her. She loves food, but that is a whole different post!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Butterscotch Apple Crisp

I have a few fun dessert recipes to share today, and hopefully it will cause you to want to make something sweet this weekend!

I was watching Down Home with the Neely's a few weeks ago (love this show!), and have been dreaming about trying this dessert ever since. It was nothing short of amazing! If you try it, be sure to use tart apples such as Granny Smith (which are my fav anyway), because the butterscotch chips are pretty sweet.

Butterscotch Apple Crisp


-- 5 Granny Smith apples (about 2 pounds), peeled and roughly chopped
-- 1 (11-ounce) bag butterscotch chips
-- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
-- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I used nutmeg because that is what I had on hand)
-- 1 lemon, juiced
-- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for greasing (I didn't use this, I had already used too much butter as it was, and just used Pam to spray the baking dish)

-- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
-- 1/2 cup quick oats
-- Pinch kosher salt
-- 1/2 cup butter
-- 3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish (or just spray with Pam).

For the filling: Toss the apples, butterscotch chips, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and lemon juice together in a large bowl. Add to the buttered baking dish and dot with butter (I didn't do this, but it turned out ok).

For the topping: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, oats, and salt. Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea size lumps. Stir in the pecans and sprinkle over the filling.

Bake until the apples are tender and butterscotch is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. This would be wonderful with ice cream on top! Unfortunatly I only had Peppermint and Pumpkin ice cream, and I wasn't sure how that would work out. The Neely's suggest Butter Pecan ice cream. Yum!

Mocha Chip Angel Food Cake

Another new recipe I tried a few weekends ago was from the January 2011 issue of Everyday Food. This issue was called "The Light Issue" and there were a ton of fun low calorie/low fat foods in this issue that I totally want to try. I especially liked the dessert recipes!!

I immediatly wanted to try this recipe, and it was pretty good. The only thing that shocked me was that it took 12 egg whites. Talk about using up a whole dozen eggs! I didn't have anything to do with the egg yolks, so I felt pretty wasteful. Otherwise this was a very tastey recipe, although it wasn't as low fat as I would have expected Angel Food Cake to be. I assumed it would be fat free, but the recipe had 183 calories and 5 grams of fat per slice (of the Angel Food Cake only, not including the chocolate ganache).

Mocha Chip Angel Food Cake

-- 2 tbs instant expresso powder
-- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
-- 12 large egg whites (at room temperature)
-- 1 tsp cream of tarter
-- 1 1/4 cups of sugar
-- 1 cup of cake flour (**See note at bottom)
-- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
-- 1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
-- 1 recipe for Mocha Ganache (see below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the espresso powder, vanilla and 1 tbs of water until powder dissolves.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 12 egg whites on med-high until foamy, about 1 min. Add cream of tarter and beat until soft peaks form, about 4 mins. Continue to beat, gradually adding sugar, until stiff glossy peaks form, about 2 mins.

Place cake flour** and salt into a fine-mesh sieve and sift over egg-white mixture in three additions, gently folding with a rubber spatula after each addition. Gently fold in espresso mixture and chocolate chips. Gently spoon batter into an ungreased angel-food cake pan with a removable bottom (mine didn't have a removeable bottom, I used a bunt pan, and I did have some trouble removing it). With a knife, cut through batter to release air bubbles, then smooth top. Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed, about 30 - 35 mins (I think I baked this for 30 mins and stopped because it was starting to burn in some areas, don't have it too close to the heating element, that might have been my problem).

Invert pan on a baking sheet and let cake cool in pan, about 1 hour. Run a thin knife around pan and tube, then unmold cake. As I mentioned above, mine didn't come out very clean, I had to work the knife a bit to get it out. Served drizzled with ganache (see recipe below).

Mocha Ganache:
Place 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz), 1/2 cup skim milk and 2 tsp instant espresso powder in a medium heat-proof bowl and set over (not in) a pot of simmering water. Stirl until chocolate metls and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and serve with cake. Refrigerate for up to 1 week. Makes 1 cup.

**Cake Four note: If you cannot find cake flour, which I could not, you can take a 1 cup measuring cup, and add 2 tbs of corn startch, and then fill up the remainder of the cup with all purpose flour. Luckily my mom found this quick fix on the internet (while I was at the grocery store searching for cake flour!!). I tend to call her all the time when I can't find something at the store, and she quickly googles substitutions for me. I guess I could do that on my phone, but I am always in a tizzy at that point...ha!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Review: Water For Elephants

So my second book of the year/month was Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants. The book club "Book Beginnings and Bookends" is getting ready to read her next book, Ape House, but I wanted to read this book first since I heard amazing things about it (although her next book is not a sequel, I still wanted to read it).

This book was amazing, and I think I read it in a couple of days because I could not put it down (it helped I traveled all day Fri, so I had plenty of reading time).

The book is a story about a man's (Jacob) time working for a circus. It starts out with the man currently (about 90 years old in a nursing home), and he starts remembering his time working at the circus because the circus is coming to town and is starting to set up across from the nursing home.

You feel so bad for the man because he is still kicking at his old age (or at least trying despite his legs not working in partnership with him), and he gets treated like he is almost dead (or a child a least) at the nursing home. Oh what he would give for a good decent meal with butter and cream and all the things they think are too bad for him. Instead he gets pureed food and jello all day long. There is one nurse who is very kind to him, and sneaks him real fruit!

The book goes back and forth between his time in the present (nursing home), and his time working for the circus. I believe he is probably dreaming during the chapters of his time at the circus. Jacob ends up getting a job at the circus, after jumping board the circus train one night when running away because both of his parents have just died and he has no where to go.

Jacob ends up getting a job as the circus vet (since he had just almost finished college to become a vet -- he ended up missing his final exam because he was too torn up about his parents' death). Because he is a vet, the story really focuses on the animals, which can be amazing but heartbreaking at times when you hear how they are treated.

His time at the circus is amazing, and raw and sometimes brutal at times in how they treat the employees. It's interesting to hear the politics of the circus and how the "performers" vs the "workers" are treated so differently. You totally get swept away when reading this book, and totally feel like you are right there, working for the circus.

I loved this book, and am looking forward to reading Ape House next. I am nervous because the reviews say it is not as good, but I am going to try and keep an open mind. Right now though I am trying to finish Firefly Lane (which I started a few months ago and am halfway through), and will then start Ape House. The book club is picking back up in February, so if you are interested, check out "Book Beginnings and Bookends."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Story

I thought it would be fun to share a little about myself every once in a while on here. So I am going to start some “My Story” posts so you can get to know me, and I can document some fun things about my journey in life.


I was born and raised in Zanesville, OH, which is about an hour east from Central Ohio. I practically lived in the same house all my life. My parents built our house and we moved in shortly after my first birthday. I have lived in Ohio all my life, and moved to the Columbus area about 12 years ago for college. I currently live in Westerville, OH, which is a NE suburb of Columbus. I love it here!

My family:

My parents still live in our home in Zanesville, and I have one younger brother, who is married with 3 kids. I totally love my 2 nieces and my 1 nephew. My Grandparents on my Mom’s side live in West Virginia and I get to see them a couple of times a year. I write letters to my Grandma and connect with my Grandpa on Facebook (he is one computer savvy Grandpa!!). I only have my Grandma on my Father’s side, and she lives in Zanesville also, although she spends her winters with my Aunt and Uncle in FL. She calls me on her cell phone every once in a while, and we love to just chat!

Growing up:

Growing up I was totally into dancing. I did it all from clog dancing, to tap, to ballet, to jazz. I was a competitive dancer for clogging and tap for about 5 years, and even made it to the Showstopper National Championships where we placed 2nd overall in our category! My parents totally wanted me to grow up and become a dancer in NYC, or start my own dance studio, but like most kids, I just wanted to move away and go to college. Kids never do what their parents want anyway, but I’ve got a good job, and the majority of my school paid for, so I think they are pretty happy with me.

My college experience:

The first two years of college I lived at home and went to the local tech school. I then transferred and finished up my bachelor’s in Marketing at a school in Columbus. While in undergrad I got a job working at the same college, which helped pay my tuition, and then worked there while I also got my MBA. The college I went to was a non-traditional college, and the average age was like 32. I took evening classes since I worked during the day, so I didn’t get to have that fun living in the dorms, hanging out at the coffee shop, going to crazy frat parties that most people had. I kind of wish I had, but then again, I probably would have a ton of student loans, so it probably worked out for the best. Don’t worry, I did get to have fun and go out with my friends, so it wasn’t a total loss.

What I do to pay the bills:

I have had 4 jobs in my life. In high school I worked as a cashier at Big Bear (a grocery store that eventually went under, luckily after I had left), as a PR Intern at the local tech college I attended (this was for school credit, but I got paid also, so that was a bonus), in the marketing department at a 4-year college in Columbus, and now at an advertising agency, specializing in pharmaceutical marketing. Some days I love my job, and some days I just want to stay in bed, but of course that’s just life. If I could do anything in the world, I think I would either be an interior decorator or maybe a party planner.

Hope you enjoyed learning a little about me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Movie Review: No Strings Attached

One of my good friends and I went to see the movie No Strings Attached on Sunday. I'll be honest, I was expecting this movie to be funny, and it totally was worth it!

Basically the story is about a girl and a guy who meet 10 years ago in summer camp. They keep running into each other over the years, and although you can tell the guy is totally into the girl, they just never seem to do more than run into each other.

At one point the guy gets the girl's phone number, but he is dating someone at the time, and he never ends up calling her. One year later, after he finds out his ex-girlfriend is dating/sleeping with his father (who is a washed up movie star), and he ends up sending her a text message (after texting/calling all the girls in his phone, looking for someone to have pity sex with him), and they end up getting together (although they don't have sex at first like you figured they would, but they do shortly after that).

Source -- this was I think one of my favorite parts of the movie,
but I don't want to ruin it for you, so you will just have to go see it!

They decide to become friends with, with no strings attached. Of course we all know this never works, and without ruining the movie, I am sure you can figure out how this is going to end.

Source -- this part, the "period scene," was a little dorky,
but the scene after that was really cute, so it made up for it.

Despite his relationship with Demi Moore, I totally fell in love with Ashton Kutcher in this movie. He looked so young, and was very cute and romantic. Of course I love Natalie Portman (although sometimes I hate her because she is so beautiful!), so it was a great combination. I totally could see the two of them together.

If you get a chance, totally check out this movie. I would love to see it again, and will probably buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mutt Monday: Abby's Love (or Hate) of Squirrels

So through another blog I read, I found some postings (a few years back) about Mutt Mondays. I thought it was a cute idea, and have decided to go with it. I have all kinds of stories about my beagle pup Abby, and am always told I should write a book about her. I thought it would be fun to document some crazy/funny things from the past, as well as new things that she does in the present. Hope you enjoy.

Here is my girl, Abby, right before Christmas time.
She is wearing her holiday bandana I made for her.

When I first came across this idea, I knew I had to totally post about Abby's love (or maybe hate) relationship with squirrels, especially since we just had another incident last week.

I have been living in my apartment for a little over 6 years now. I live on a golf course, so there is a ton of great greenery and wildlife, especially squirrels. I have never seen so many squirrels in my life!

When I first moved it, although Abby does like to howl at EVERYTHING (people, dogs, bugs, whatever), she never really took to the squirrels. She never really took to rabbits either (which she should since she is a beagle dog).

Well about 2 years after I moved in, something happened, and Abby was able to catch a squirrel. One of my good friends was visiting, and I hear her say "Jen, come here quick, it's Abby!" At first I thought she was hurt or something, but I look out, and there she is with a squirrel on it's back, in her mouth. I freaked out, yelled at her, and she dropped it and backed away. I then tried to get the squirrel to run away (I think it was shocked at first), because I was afraid it might then try to attack her, or even me. It finally ran off and we went on with our day.

After that, Abby could not stop looking for, and howling at squirrels. She would sit under this tree in the backyard, and just look up at it and watch for the squirrels. We would take walks around the complex, and the min she would see one, she would go crazy (like super crazy to the point where I was having trouble controlling her, and she is only 35 pounds!). It got so bad I had to start taking her to other parks for walks because I could not take her around my complex...too many squirrels.

Only one other time had she caught a squirrel, which I was once again able to get her to drop it, until the other night. She was being very quite, and had been outside for a while. It was very cold out, so I was getting nervous, so I decided to check on her. My boyfriend was over that night, and luckily because she comes running up to the door with something that looks like one of her toys. I was confused because I didn't remember her taking a toy outside, but sometimes she does manage to sneak one out on me.

She comes up to the door, and I quickly realize this is not a toy, but a dead animal. Luckily it appeared to be frozen to death, so I don't believe that Abby had actually killed it, but still it caused me to freak out. I got her to drop it, and then let her in. My boyfriend, who at this time is telling me to calm down and that I am over-reacting, finally scoops up the squirrel in an empty cereal box, and takes it out to the woods to dispose of it. I am sure my neighbors were wondering what the fuss was, but let me tell you, it totally freaked me out.

Although I didn't get a pic of her that night,
here she is begging to come in a the back door (taken today).

So my little rabbit dog, is a squirrel dog, but as the vet says, that is her nature, and nothing I can do about it. I love her anyway!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grilled Rosemary Chicken with Chunky Tomato Salsa

So I tried a couple of new recipes this weekend, so I will have lots to share this week. For the most part, they turned out awesome. One of my favorites was the Grilled Rosemary Chicken with Chunky Tomato Salsa from the Cooking Light Fres Food Fast: Weeknight Meals cookbook. It is actually supposed to be Chunky Tomato-Avacado Salsa, but I left the avacado out of the recipe because I knew I would have leftovers, and although I LOVE avacado, I hate how it browns within a couple of hours (and believe me, I have tried all the tricks, and still no luck!).

The chicken smelled heavenly while is was cooking, and I have decided that rosemary and chicken should always go together. I totally want to now try and grow a rosemary plant just to put on my chicken all the time!

I think the Chunky Tomato Salsa would go great on a salad, especially if you cut this chicken up into pieces, they would both be wonderful on a bed of salad greens. I would definitly recommend this recipe!

Grilled Rosemary Chicken:

-- 2 tbs olive oil
-- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
-- 1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
-- 1 tbs minced garlic
-- 4 (4 oz) chicken cutlets (I only cooked, 2, but wished I would have cooked 4!)
-- 1/4 tsp salt
-- 1/4 tsp black pepper
-- Cooking spray
-- Chunky Tomato Salsa (see recipe below)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat mallet (or small heavy skillet like I did); sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, and add to the bag; seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 mins.

The recipe then called to grill the chicken, but I baked it in a dish at 350 degrees for 25 mins because it was too cold out to grill. Add the Chunky Tomato Salsa before serving.

Chunky Tomato Salsa:

-- 1 tbs chopped fresh oregano (I didn't have this, so I just used dried italian seasoning, and it was good)
-- 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
-- 2 tbs red wine vinegar
-- 1 garlic clove minced
-- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
-- 1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
-- 1 ripe peeled avacado, chopped (if you prefer)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; add tomato halves and cheese and avacado (if desired) and toss gently; spoon over chicken. Makes enough for 4 servings.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spicy Chipotle Turkey Chili

As I mentioned before, my goal is to try 50 new recipes this year. This is my second new recipe of the year, that worked! Ha! I tried a new receipe last week, but for some reason I cannot make pesto to save my life. It was the second time trying to make it, and I think maybe my food processor just wasn't meant to make pesto, or maybe it's me. Who knows, but we live and move on.

This recipe came from the Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: Weeknight Meals. It wasn't too bad, but I think I have had much better chili. A couple of things I liked was that it was fast (took like 15 mins to make, although you could probably put it in a crock pot if you preferred), it was pretty healthy, and it didn't take a ton of ingredients.

It was a little bland for me, and not as hot and spicy as I was expecting. This could be due to the fact that I didn't have chipotle chili seasoning (I just used regular), and I only used half of the poblano pepper (I wasn't sure how hot it was going to be), and I used mild salsa. I did end up adding some extra chili seasoning to it, and it was much better. Next time I will probably use the whole poblano pepper, more chili seasoning, or maybe a medium salsa.

I also tried the corn muffins that was suggested on the same page, and I was not impressed. They were kind of dry, and not very flavorful.

Spicy Chipotle Turkey Chili


-- 1 tbsp olive oil
-- 1 pound ground turkey
-- 1 large poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
-- 2 cups water
-- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
-- 2 (16-ounce) cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
-- 1 (16-ounce) jar mild chipotle salsa
-- Chedder cheese, sour cream and other toppings

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; add turkey and pobalo pepper; cook for 5-10 minutes or until turkey is brown; stir to crumble.

Stir in water and next three ingredients; cover and bring to a boil; mash the beans lightly with a potato masher until the soup is slightly thickened; 6 servings. Garnish with favorite toppings (I used chedder cheese and fat free sour cream) and serve.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review: Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush

I finally finished my first book of the new year! I have been interested in reading Laura Bush’s Spoken from the Heart, and began it shortly after the new year.

This book was amazing. I had heard mixed reviews, but was engaged from start to finish. This book is a memoir of Laura’s life both before and during her time in the White House. The beginning of the book starts when she is very little, and her biggest dream in life was to have a brother or sister. She would wish on the stars in the sky that she could have a sibling. Her mother had many miscarriages, but Laura would always remain an only child.

The book moves through her life growing up in Midland, TX, then through her college days at Southern Methodist University in Dallas Texas, where she earned her bachelor’s in education, and through graduate school at University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her master’s in Library Science. Laura first took a job teaching 2nd grade, but then after getting her master’s, worked in a school library.

Laura married George when she was 33 years old, and had her own struggles getting pregnant, but then was fortunate to have twin girls Jenna and Barbara. The story then goes on through George running and winning the position as governor of TX, her times visiting the White House when George senior was Vice President and then President, to finally her husband’s time running for and winning the presidency.

I think what fascinated me most was hearing through her eyes the story of September 11, 2001. It was amazing to hear about all of the threats and things that were never announced to the general public. It was also interesting to hear about her travels to amazing places, meeting amazing leaders of the world, and hearing about all of the great things that she did while in office. Laura focused a lot of her time on education and reading, and it was interesting because during her second term, she wanted to focus on the youth, especially boys because she felt that girls have gotten so much attention in the last decade, and that the boys were starting to lack in education.

There were lots more interesting things about this book, and I highly recommend that no matter your political position, it’s a great book to read. Laura really doesn’t get into politics, but focuses more on the events that have happened during her life.

Up next I am reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I am only on the 3rd chapter, but so far I am loving it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Man with The Golden Voice

So last week our local radio station WNCI interviewed this homeless guy who back in the 90's did radio and voiceover work in the Columbus metro area. In 1996 he really got into drinking, and bacially lost his job, family, integrity, and whatnot.

Finally about 2 years ago, he sobered up, but was still homeless and unable to get his life back on track. One of his good friends, who is a producer, took a video of him and put it on the Columbus Dispatch website, and the WNCI Morning Zoo caught wind of it, and decided to bring him in.

They shared his story and then basically gave him a job for the day helping them DJ. His story spun around the world, and now he is getting gigs. He was even on Entertainment Tonight last night as getting to meet and possibly work with some of the big time voiceovers in the business.

One of the things that I liked the best about his interview is he admitted that when he was at his best, getting gigs, getting to go to premiers and what not, he never thanked God for what God had given him. He said that God finally let the devil take him, but wouldn't let the devil take his life. He has finally realized what he had back then, and is totally ready to turn his life around.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Football, Flowers, the Flu and Lots of Snow!

Lots of craziness has happened in the last week. It all started a week ago when my boyfriend came over last Tues to watch the Ohio State vs Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

What a crazy game it was, although I'll admit I did fall asleep around 11:30 pm when the best part of the game was taking place (opps!!). Anyway, we were very proud of our Bucks!!

Then the next day my boyfriend came down with the flu. He ended up taking off work both Wed and Thurs, and I was so afraid I was going to come down with it also, and tried to do everything I could not to get it, including being in denial about getting sick, although I'll get to that in a min.

On Fri we were supposed to hear back from the FDA on a product we are working on, so Fri and even Sat were going to be big days at work for us. We were already planning on working on Sat and possibly Sun, and we had shifts lined up to work those two days.

So Thurs comes around, and I am feeling this cough come on. I just kept drinking tea, and water, and just tried to not think about it. I ended up working about 12 hours on Thurs trying to get caught up for the big day on Fri. Of course when I wake up on Fri I am burning up, with a sore throat, and yet I still get up take a shower and start getting ready for work. I kept wondering why I was still so hot, until I took my temperature and had a 101 degree temperature!

I don't know about you, but I never get a fever. Every time I am sick I always take my temperature, and it's always steady at around 97.4 degrees. I think I took my temperature about 5 times that morning, totally in denial that I was getting sick.

My boyfriend felt so bad that he got me sick that after work on Fri he dropped off some flowers on my doorstep. Of course I was asleep when he dropped them off, so they sat there outside for about 2 hours, but fortunatly they were wrapped up pretty well and didn't freeze.

Five days later I am still battling this flu, which I think has turned into bronchitis, but I am at least on the mend now. I finally made it back to work, although at one point today I think my fever came back because I got really hot and achy and started to cough really bad.

Luckily for me, but unlucky for our client, we did not get the big FDA approval we are looking for, so the weekend-work got pushed back. Things have been a little more slow at work, which will eventually pick up, but is good for now since everyone seems to be getting sick!

In addition to all the sickness going around, it has gotten  much colder and we have had so far 2 snow storms of the new year. It was 61 degrees on NYE, and I believe it got to 0 over night over the weekend. Luckily Columbus is pretty good with clearning the roads, so if you just give them enough time by either going into work a little late, or even staying a little past rush hour, they don't seem to be too bad. You can tell when big snow storm is coming because they put this salt water stuff down on the interstates. You can see these 6 or 7 lines along each lane where they have put this salty mixture down, and I think it really helps. They have only been doing this for the last couple of years, but it does seem to help keep the interstates somewhat clear during these storms.

Hope everyone else is keeping clear of the flu and other sicknesses. I think everyone I know has had something within the last couple of weeks! It's definitly going around.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Southwest Chicken Pizza

This year, one of my goals is to try out 50 new recipes. I have so many cookbooks, and I am always trying new recipes, so I figure this should be a lot of fun! It will equal out to about 1 per week (and sometimes I might try 2 per week, so that will make up for week's I take off, or make a repeat item).

I actually tried 2 recipes this week, but I am still trying to perfect one of them, so I'll share that one later. This week I wanted to share Southwest Chicken Pizza from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book (the pink edition). This recipe actually came from Sandra Lee (in the new pink section). I love trying out new pizza recipes, and will probably try out even more this year. I also love Mexican food, so this was a great combination.

A couple of things to note, I used a premade pizza crust. In the recipe it states to use a pizza crust mix and mix in 1/4 cup of mashed black beans. I love the Mama Mary pizza crusts, and I was looking for something easy, so that is what I did, but maybe sometime I will try the mix with the mashed black beans.

Also, I would suggest using canned corn instead of frozen corn like I did. I don't think the corn really cooked long enough, and wasn't very warm. I had to heat it up a little more in the microwave to get it warm enough to eat.

Also, I would drain your corn really well, and your salsa a little. My pizza had a little too much juice, and my toppings kept falling off. It was good, but next time I will drain my ingredients a little more.

Southwest Chicken Pizza (my version):

-- Premade pizza crust
-- Olive oil
-- 1/2 cup (or more if you like) of salsa (I used my own homade version, see below)
-- 1/3 cup of Mexicorn, drained (suggest using from can)
-- 1/2 cup (or more if desired) fiesta blend shredded cheese
-- 1 cup cooked diced chicken

Preheat oven per directions on the pizza crust (mine was at 450 degrees I believe).

Brush olive oil over your premade crust. Then spread on salsa evenly over dough, leaving about a 1" border. Top with the corn, chicken and cheese and other ingredients as desired.

Bake according to the directions on your premade crust (I believe I cooked mine for 12 - 14 mins) until golden brown.

Homemade Salsa:
For my homemade salsa, add to a food precessor, 4-5 small Roma tomates (cut in half), 1/2 of a red onion (also cut up into smaller chunks), 1 tbs lime juice, 1 tsp salt (or more to taste), and a handful of cilantro. Mix together in your food processor and then take a taste to see if it needs more salt or lime juice. I don't like to mix too much or else it gets runny. It's even better after it sits in the fridge for a day or so. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year = New Calendars

I am totally an office/school supply junkie! I swear I probably should have been a teacher, and then I could get new school supplies every year. I sometimes do pick up school/office supplies in the Fall, but one of my favorite things about a new year is new calendars.

This year I have three new calendars. Of course I can't just have one!!

I love Mary Phillip Designs, and have been bummed she hasn't had a new calendar for a while (or at least I haven't been able to find them). When I found out about this calendar a few months ago, I put it on my wish list, and my mother got it for me for Christmas. I am keeping this one up at work. It's a fun girly calendar with lots of fun sayings such as:

"I'm not into working out. My philosophy is: No pain, no pain." -- January 2011

"All we need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." -- February 2011

I also got this cute Lilly Pulizter agenda and matching pen to keep in my purse. This is to keep track of important dates such as birthdays, lunches, parties, hair appointments, etc.

I ordered it from the Preppy Princess, and this is how it arrived. I loved the presentation!

I also ordered this calendar from Snapfish and gave one away to both my Mom and my Sister-in-law. It is of fun pictures of my nieces and nephew over the last year. This one I am keeping in the kitchen at home.

Do you have any fun calendars you purchased this year?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Books for 2011

There are a ton of books on my "To Read" list on My goal for 2011 is to read 20 books. Below are just a few that I am looking to read this year:

American Wife -- by Curtis Sittenfeld

Spoken from the Heart -- by Laura Bush (just started this and so far loving it!)

Nanny Returns -- Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus (loved The Nanny Diaries)

Uncharted Territori -- Tori Spelling (have loved all of her books so far!)

Fly Away Home -- Jennifer Weiner (one of my fav writers!)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- Stieg Larsson

Savannah Breeze -- Mary Kay Andrews

Friday Night Knitting Club -- Kate Jacobs

If You Were Here -- Jen Lancaster (looking forward to this coming out in May! Love her books!)

Also, I am joining Life Meg's Mingle Monday today, so check it out!

Mingle 240

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goals for 2011

I have been thinking about goals for the last week and I very eager to get started on my goals for 2011.

The last couple of months has been very stressful for me. Things have been extremly crazy at work, and I feel that I have been letting that stress really get to me and my health. My big overall goal for 2011 is to make sure to have a good work/life balance. This might require some changes on my part, both at work and in my personal life, but I am dedicating myself to making sure that I am able to obtain and then maintain that balance.

Below are some of my personal goals. I will probably go into deeper description in other postes later on this week, but as a quick hit list, here they are:

1. Take better care of myself -- eating right, exercising, taking my vitamins, getting enough sleep.

2. Yoga -- I would like to try and do yoga at least once a week, if not twice a week.

3. Read the bible -- I have a plan to read the bible in 365 days; I have never done this before, and am very excited in trying it. In addition to this, I am going to participate in the 2011 Siesta Scripture Memory Team and learn 24 scriptures over the next year.

4. Try 50 new recipes -- I have a ton of cookbooks, so I would like to try at least one new recipe per week; I will be sure to share my results (both successes and failures).

5. Read 20 books -- I have a ton of books on my Goodreads "To read" list. I would love to be able to make a nice dent in this list. This equates to almost 2 books per month, which is probably doable for myself. It's a big goal, so we will see!

6. Craft/Sewing Projects -- I have a couple of craft/sewing projects that I would like to complete. One of them is a quilt, and the others I will share in another post.

7. Write letters/send cards -- I am going to try and send birthday cards to all of my immediate family members, and send letters to my Grandparents on a monthly basis. Currently looking for some cute stationary if anyone has an ideas/links you would like to share!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

I have been really looking forward to ringing in 2011. Although 2010 was a good year for me, I went on a few great trips, got a promotion at work, and had another great year with my manfriend, I have some great plans and goals for 2011 that I have been looking forward to getting a jump start on.

I am still working on my goals for 2011, and am hoping to share with eveyone soon. Until then, I hope everyone has had a great start to the new year, and is enjoying the weekend with their family and friends!