Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reading Challange Update

Last spring I gave myself a challenge. I will not buy any new books until I have read all the books in our house. I went through and catalogued all of our books and made a master list of those I haven't read. I excluded poetry books and my husbands philosophy/theology books that I didn't want to read, such as Wittgenstein and Kant.* Out of 600* some books in our house there are 204 I haven't read. I organized my master list into categories*, classic novels, modern novels, contemporary novels, beach novels, non-fiction and philosophy. When I finish a book on my list I cross it out and add the date I finished it. I like to see how I'm doing each category so I can make a point to read books from different genres.

So in 8 months I have read 12 of those 204 books. In short I need to step it up a notch. Part of the problem is I decide to go to the library and get Jen Lancaster or Emily Griffin instead of reading from my list. But a lot of my problem is since I started my new job I have been so tired in the evenings I've been watching more TV and reading less. Now that I'm more settled into my job I hope I can reverse that trend.

To better challenge/inspire myself i made a reading list for the year ahead. It's an ambitious list that I may or may not get through in one year but I might as well try. Here are the books I look forward to reading this year:

*As a philosophy major I read enough Kant to last me a lifetime during undergrad and Wittgenstein is just too hard.
*Yes we have 600 books not including poetry. yes we are dorks.
*can you say type A anyone...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

One of the things I really look forward to at Christmas, now that I am an adult, is helping to plan and cook Christmas eve dinner. Generally we spend Christmas eve with my mom and step father and the evening festivities center around an elaborate and over the top menu. My mom, sister and I research, plan and discuss to our hearts content. Then we cook, cook and cook, which is of course followed by much eating. Two years ago we did a pasta course, last year we made a prime rib, which was amazing, and this year...this year we are doing a southern dinner. On the menu:

Country Ham
Mashed Yams
Field peas and rice
corn pudding
green beans with bacon
homemade fudge bars
After eating we will open up presents and probably watch a Christmas movie. Mr. P and I will go to our 11pm candlelight service at Church. then at midnight we will drive an hour up river to my father and step mother's cabin to spend Christmas Day!
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Have you all heard of Probably, since I tent to be behind the times. This site is a great find. It is a catalog of all TV shows/movies floating around on the inter webs for free. Want to watch a few episodes of Gilmore Girls*? Feeling the need to relive the Buffy glory days? Need a Joey and Dawson fix? Looking for an obscure Disney Channel Original Movie or a Hallmark special from yesteryear's? Never fear all can be found on Granted the quality is sometimes bad, and on occasion it requires watching in Chinese with English subtitles, but its free, legal and only a click away.

* we all remember Tristan
*you know you are missing the classics, like Johny Tsunami, Picture Perfect and Smart House

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's that time of year...

for organizing. I know I know you are still thinking about gingerbread cookies, last minute Christmas gifts and what to wear on Christmas eve. And to some extent I am too. But I'm also thinking about post Christmas organizing. I'm sure you've already started receiving those January magazines in the mail with their picture perfect offices and linen closets that manage to both inspire and infuriate* you at the same time. I both love and hate this time of year. On the one hand I love the idea of organization. I love the idea of everything in it's place, of colorful file folders with whimsical labels and coordinating office supplies. But in reality my life is organized chaos at best. This year, however, is different. We, Chris and I, are determined to organize our lives. Which as of late have been less than organized. And this past month the lack of organization has lead to multiple fights. As Chris starts up a law practice, we are suddenly dealing with many complicated student loans, he's dealing with VA paperwork, I'm trying to deal with household paperwork and I'm working many more hours the old system (fragile at best) has collapsed. Last weekend when I was looking for articles on organizing household paper work I found this blog post. It has already helped me. It's simple, clear and effective.

I also found this, which overall sounds a little much but has, I think, a really brilliant component, a book for lists, ideas, and whatever. As I was reading this and thinking about it I remembered that in college I had a similar book it was for all of my philosophy notes and ideas. All class notes, reading notes, ideas for papers, outlines, questions, books to read, thinkers to look up, and other random notes lived in one black book that went everywhere with me. I think I need to re-introduce my this into my system. Right now what I have is a very fragmented system for keeping track of things, a lot is on my computer, a lot is in loose leaf papers floating around my desk and purse, and a lot is just living in my brain waiting to be forgoten. But how great is one book, half can be work related and half can be personal. There will be a section for to do lists, goals, notes, lists of books to read, things to look up, presents I want*, even my budget and financial planning could be pasted it. While these two ideas won't fix the chaos that is my life by themselves they are big steps in the right direction. What about you? What are your "organizing your life" tips?

*I mean really! no body's linen closet is that perfect and it is just plain rude to suggest to an overburdened overworked stressed out woman that hers should be
*I don't know about you but everyday of the year until the month of my birthday/Christmas I can think of 30 things i want, but the day a parent/sibling/husband asks what i want i become clueless. so I've started keeping a list.
*image found here

Monday, December 20, 2010


Lately, I have been watching a lot of TV. We don't have cable so we check out TV shows from the library. Usually we have a few shows lying around that we both like, things like Frasier, Cheers, Myth busters, and the Office, and some things I like that Mr. P won't watch. Mr. P works a lot of evenings and when he's working in the evening I usually curl up in bed (the only warm place in our house) and watch some TV. I mostly attribute this to how tired I am from work. My job is extremely stressful and it's both mentally and emotionally draining. By the time I finish working, get home, deal with home stuff (cooking, cleaning, laundry) I just don't have a lot of energy for much else and all I want to do is watch TV. I had been working my way through Gilmore Girls. Last night I watched the series finally and I mentioned I needed to select another show to watch when Mr. P said, "or maybe you could read a book, like you used to do." I have to say this comment really gave me pause. It wasn't mean or hurtful, in fact he was mostly joking, but it really made me think. Growing up we really didn't watch TV. I remember Full House and the Cosby show and TGIF and strategically going to friends houses on Tuesday/Wednesday nights to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's creek. In college I didn't have a TV at all. I went through 4 years of college with zero television. Then after college when Mr. P and I were engaged I had no TV.

In recent years though my TV habits have been growing. But my reading has continued, in 2009 despite having cable for most of the year I still read 25 books. So what happened now? I have finished a sum total of 3 book since I started my new job 10 weeks ago and all three have been chick lit. How do I find the right balance where I can still put so much energy into work but not turn into mush at home? I have to say that the more I think about this trend the more concerned I am. What happens when we want to have children? when we buy our own house and have to take care of it? I guess in the short term I need to make more of an effort to sit down and read a book.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

what's on my mind

Lately, I have neglected my blog. I have all of these aspirations of what I want my blog to be and needless to say my follow through is lacking. I want my blog to be a daily refection of my thoughts. What is going on in my mind and how it is responding to my life.

So here are some Thursday thoughts:

I love Chinese food. As much as I love all food I'm pretty sure I could live on Chinese food and tacos and be a happy camper.

I am looking forward to going to my Mom's house tonight to eat tacos and watch Love Actually.

I used to hate The Office, I didn't think it was funny and Michael just stressed me out, but it has wormed it's way into my heart and now I love it.

We once again have no Internet or cable. We temporarily had Internet but once again decided against it. There is something really refreshing about coming home to no Internet or TV. It forces you to interact, read, walk, clean house, visit with friends and so on.

Don't get me wrong we still watch TV. We check out TV shows from the library. Right now we are watching Myth Busters, The Office, Cheers, and Gilmore Girls (I am, Mr. P refuses).

I am adjusting to my job. I still love it and find it stressful, but I feel like I am returning bit by bit to my normal home life. I'm reading more, picking up more, walking. This is good. For the first couple of months it was just work work work collapse.

I found my dream couch at crate and barrel this weekend then almost started crying when the sales girl told me it was being discontinued. So sad.

I am having a really hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. I honestly feel like it is just one more thing I have to do. And I am having a hard time focusing on the true holiday. This is really sad, I know. I'm not even sending out Christmas cards this year. I am however looking forward Christmas Eve service and getting out of town for a few days.

Tomorrow is the third day in a row I have to be at work by 7am. Needless to say, I am super excited for Saturday and some extra sleep!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm dreaming of a white...Thanksgiving?

As a native Oregonian here in the Willamette Valley I grew up dreaming, in vain, of a White Christmas. In reality I never experienced this phenomena until I was 22, engaged to Mr. P, and spending Christmas in his home town in Eastern Oregon where the snow is abundant. Those of you familiar with the valley know that Christmas is rainy rather than white.

Therefore it was to my awe and surprise last week as we drove east on I-84 into a white winter wonderland. I wish I could have taken pictures from the car. We were driving from Portland, Oregon where we had met up with Mr. P's parents and their snow tires, to Walla Walla, WA. What should have been a 4 hour drive turned into a 6 hour drive over solid ice. However, it was perhaps the most beautiful drive I have every been on. While we've driven east many times in the winter usually the snow doesn't start until you hit the Blue Mountains or maybe Pendelton. Due last weeks storm across the Pacific Northwest the entire Colombia Gorge was blanked in snow and delicate ice cycles had formed along the various rock formations. It was simply breathtaking.
We arrived in Walla Walla to a frigid 0 degrees and 6 inches of snow and woke up to this:
Our Thanksgiving started with a snow walk. Then we watched the parade, cooked, ate, watched football. We ended the day with a classic, The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Friday we watched our #1 Oregon Ducks beat Arizona. Assuming a win against our instate rival, the Beavers, Saturday we are headed to the National Championship for the first time!!!! I have to say that while I remember a lot of exciting football seasons here in Eugene, with two Rose Bowl trips and the Joey Harrington years, there has never been a better year to be a Duck!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Monday

Ugh... it's Monday. However it is only a 2.5 day work week for me so I suppose it's okay. I had a busy but good weekend. I went to see the new Harry Potter movie which was fabulous! I had really low expectations because the 6th one was so bad. But this one was amazing and scary. I jumped, I screamed, and I was generally very stressed out. I can't wait for part 2 now.

I can't believe it's already Thanksgiving. Time has flown by. I am looking forward to a long weekend and some quality time with my husband. We are going to spend the holiday with his family in Walla Walla, Washington.

The weather has turned really cold here. The low tonight is 27 and it's supposed to start snowing around midnight. Tomorrow's high is 31 with a low of 18 degrees. I'm not happy. Our house, while delightful in the summer, is an icebox come winter. It was built in the 1940's and has little to no insulation. It also has it's original single pane windows and no central heat. We do have a wood stove which helps. We also bought some ceramic heaters at Costco which work really well to heat up one room. Saturday afternoon we got home from doing something and the house was so cold we just turned the heater on in our room and got into bed. We spent the entire afternoon in bed reading, napping and watching TV.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Behind the Times

I am sooo behind the times. Unfortunately this is a trend. I discovered the Gap at least 6 months after the other 6th graders. I didn't "fall in love" with Leonardo DiCaprio until months after other girls because I didn't see Romeo and Juliet until it was on video. And, I just discovered Gossip Girl! Obviously I have heard of Gossip Girl. I don't live underneath a rock. But finally, a few weeks ago, I watched the first season. I'm so sad I have missed out for so long, yet so excited to have finally caught up. I love the clothes. I love Blake Lively's hair. I love Serena's character. I love the make up. I kinda love Chuck. I do not love Dan. I do however love Nate and his preppy good looks. And again, I love the clothes! This is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing show I have ever watched. I am looking forward to watching the second season.

I also just discovered Jen Lancaster. I am reading Bitter is the New Black and laughing out loud. "Drunken PR monkeys", "Those who don't believe in capitalism haven't experienced shoe shopping at Nordstroms". It is hilarious!

I also recently discovered Diorshow mascara. As promised it is wonderful. I will never buy Cover Girl again. Yes its a little spendy but it's worth every penny.

What have you discovered lately?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Wait a Little Bit Longer

I love changing seasons. It is one of the perks of living in the Pacific Northwest, we have beautiful seasons without the horrid snow! I also love holidays. But what I do NOT love is when people decide Christmas starts after Halloween! This is a horrible trend that seems to get worse every year. Fall is a beautiful time and time that should be enjoyed it its fullest until Thanksgiving. Playing Christmas songs in October/November, decorating the mall before Halloween and watching Christmas movies outside of Christmas time ruins the actual Christmas time. Christmas is a wonderful time and its worth waiting for. One of my favorite childhood memories was on Thanksgiving. As soon as everyone was done eating dinner my Mom and Aunts would put on Christmas albums and sing along while doing the dishes. This was always the official start to the season. The following day we could once again re-enter the mall to enjoy Christmas decorations, drink peppermint hot chocolate, and most exciting of all the special box full of Christmas books and movies came out for the season. Here's to waiting another week for a joyous holiday season to begin!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sometimes we need Junk Food

Generally speaking I am a healthy eater. I eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, natural meat, raw milk, and very small amounts of sugar. I don't drink coffee, soda, and generally avoid processed food. However, there are some distinctly unhealthy foods that I love! And from time to time I happily indulge in foods like, chili fries, cheese fries, nachos, deviled ham, fried chicken, potato chips, tortilla chips, corn dogs, cheese cake and sweet tea. In fact, I seriously considered ordering chili cheese fries for lunch last week at a business lunch but decided it was too unprofessional and opted for something else. Last night however we indulged in.....epic nachos!

If you are in need of a good junk food night I highly recommend a foray into epic nacho making. This is my sister's invention. She would want me to tell you that to do epic nachos the right way you must use Doritos. I however opt for regular tortilla chips. Line a baking sheet with tortilla chips, top with cheese, add a layer of re-fried beans and cooked ground beef, another layer of cheese and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Top with lettuce, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce and guacamole and enjoy.

For really gourmet nachos you can make your own re-fried beans:

Bring 2 cups dried pinto beans, one onion chopped and water to cover to boil. Boil 2 minutes. cover and let soak at least 1.5 hours but up to 8 hours. Add more water if necessary to recover. Add one bay leaf, ham hock or salt pork (optional) and bring to boil. Simmer 2 hours until tender. In another pan melt 1/4-1/2 cup of lard. With slotted spoon remove beans and add to hot pan of lard reserving cooking liquid. Let fry a minute or so then begin mashing. As you mash add cooking liquid and salt. Mash until you have right consistency. Salt to taste.

*I understand you may think lard is disgusting. However, lard is a very misunderstood food. Don't knock it till you try it. Also, every decent authentic Mexican restaurant makes re-fried beans with lard. That is why they are so yummy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rosy Red Lips

This past month has been a time for discovery so to speak. In one month I have found the perfect lip color, the perfect mascara, my new favorite television show, the most amazing pair of black pumps, and one hilarious author. Quite a productive month wouldn't you say???!!!

I adore makeup especially lip color and eye shadow. I have long been a fan of red lipstick but it definitely has it's challenges. While generally red looks great with my skin tone I have be very careful that the shade is just right. And since I work in a very traditional professional setting I have to be careful that my red lipstick isn't too much for day to day meetings and such. Lately I have had a really hard time striking the right balance with my lip color and so in an exasperated mood one day at target I grabbed a bunch of different reddish lip color to try. I now have three amazing products to report!

1. For a classic red matte I highly recommend Sonia Kashuk Sheer Rosebud luxury lip color. It's a great shade. For a long lasting color I recommend applying, dusting your lips with face powder, applying a second time and then blotting. The blotting tones it down just enough to give that classic matte look. it's very 1950's and classic. Yet, it isn't to dark for everyday.

2. Jemma Kidd High Shine silk lip gloss is the perfect red lip gloss. It's a vibrant fun color perfect for Friday night. It lasts a long time and it isn't sticky or too thick. I chose the color rose and have been very pleased.

3. By far the greatest find of the month and perhaps the year is this product, Maybelline New York color sensation lip stain in cherry pop. This stuff is amazing. It looks like a marker. The pointy tip is ideal for outlining your lips. It's a nice light red distinct yet subtle. Once on it stays for a very long time. I have worn this everyday since I got it. Sometimes by itself but more often underneath one aforementioned. Last night I went out wearing the lip stain under the lip gloss, had dinner and dessert, came home late, didn't wash off my makeup and woke up with cherry red lips. It's perfect for work because I can go all day without touching up my lipstick. It even lasts through meals and kissing!

How about you? Any sensation make up finds lately?

Monday, November 8, 2010

1950's housewife and martinis

Yes I am alive. I have been at my new job for a month now. It is very difficult and busy but I am really enjoying it. I haven't had time for a lot besides work lately. I haven't picked up a book in a month which is a first for me.

We had a Halloween party which was fabulous. I was a 1950's housewife.

Mr. P was a Clint Eastwood character from an old Western.
We had our bar set up just in time for the party...
And as any good 1950's housewife I made classic gin martini's for all!

Hope you had a wonderful festive Halloween. I can hardly believe we are two weeks from thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Spagetti Tacos

My husband emailed me this article today from the New York Times featuring a new food phenomenon among kids today, Spaghetti Tacos.
Yet here is the thing. My family was eating spaghetti tacos for as long as can remember! I have even blogged about it before here. I'm not exactly sure where or how the tradition began. It may have started with my grandmother. However, whenever we had spaghetti my Mom would make extra sauce and the next day we would have spaghetti sauce tacos. So yummy! In face I think I may need some spaghetti tacos soon.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gallery Wall

I love gallery walls. In our apartment I had a great one in the living room over the couch. We moved into our house in May and I have been planning to get one up for months now. A few weeks ago we finally got around to it. Because we live with another couple I wanted this gallery wall, which is in our living room, to be a mixture of pictures from all of us. I also wanted a mix of old and new, art, photography and family pictures. I think it turned out really well.

My favorite picture is the oval frame in the center. It is a photograph taken in 1945 of my grandmother and her sister. My grandmother, on the right, is 9 years old. Growing up this photo, still in its original frame, was in my grandmother's house and everyone always said that it looked like me. My Mom gave this to me after she died a couple of years ago. My other grandmother is on the far right. This is her graduation picture. And this particular copy, given to me by my grandfather, is signed be her to him. It is such a classic beautiful picture I just love it.

What are your thoughts on gallery walls? Do you have one?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Views of our Kitchen on a Sunday Afternoon

Fall is definitely here. Temperatures are starting to fall at night and the slugs and snails have returned to wreak havoc upon our garden. It was for this reason that I decided to make chow chow yesterday afternoon. I had some of this wonderful green tomato relish in Tennessee a couple of years ago and have been wanted to make it ever since. By far the best chow chow I had was at Martha's at the Plantation, at Belle Meade. Sadly Martha's has since closed but lucky for me I have the cookbook which has her amazing chow chow recipe. Because one kitchen project is just not enough for a Sunday afternoon I also embarked upon a huge pot of warm comfy fall soup for lunches this week, and while I was at it dinner also simmered on the stove.

Tomatoes from our garden turning red

Successfully canned chow chow

My favorite easy pasta, roasted red pepper and sausage pasta.

This is a great pasta recipe that I came up with a few years ago when my Mom bought me a huge package of Italian sausage at Costco.

Roasted Red Pepper and Sausage Pasta

3 links of Italian sausage, casing removed

1 onion chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup roasted red peppers chopped up

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 cans tomatoes, or 4 cups fresh tomatoes chopped or combination

1/2 cup broth, red wine, or water

pasta of your choice

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in pan, when hot add sausage and onion. Break up sausage while it cooks, when sausage is mostly brown add garlic, cook a few more minutes breaking up sausage. Add broth or wine, scrape all bits of bottom of pan, season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, roasted peppers, herbs and pepper flakes. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, simmer 30-40 minutes. Add more broth or water if sauce gets too thick. Cook pasta according to directions, top with sauce and serve with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One of the Perks

One of the many exciting things about my new job is the need to buy clothes. At my old job I only wore business attire when I had meetings or hearings. If I was just in the office working I was able to wear jeans. This allowed me to have a much smaller work wardrobe and rely on my favorite jeans a lot of days. This will not be the case at my new job. I must wear business attire every day including Fridays. This means I truly need to buy some clothes. The other day Ann Taylor Loft was having a sale, 25% of your entire purchase, so I popped over on my lunch hour and got a few things. Ann Taylor is my favorite place to shop for work clothes because they have cute yet professional options and they always carry them in petite. One of the things I picked up was this skirt.

Wool Pencil Skirt with Ribbon Waistband

I wore it for the first time today and it is fabulous! It fits wonderfully, looks amazing and is comfortable. The tucked waist and ribbon waistband gives it a really great edge without detracting from it's professionalism. And the grey tweed fabric is versatile enough for a lot of wear. Ann Taylor Loft is continuing their fall sale in store and online making this a great deal if you are in need of some new work clothes this fall.