Monday, February 28, 2011

What Do You Have Cooking?

I love reading cook books. I love getting a new cook book and a stack of post it notes and going through the book and placing a post it note on each new recipe that I want to try out.

Many times the recipes that we collect come from a variety of sources including cook books, blogs and Food Network shows.

If a recipe is found online many times we print it out and place it in our big notebook of recipes.

The idea of organizing our recipes in a notebook probably made you think we had this whole organization thing down pretty well right?

Not necessarily.

There are folders to help organize aka "just hold it" for us, and that still works too. Lots of notes and recipes that were scribbled down find there place here.

We do use traditional cookbooks too.

This one is pretty classic. You can't go wrong with Paula Deen. You can end up with an increase in your waist line because of Paula Deen though :) Moderation, all in moderation.

Favorite Recipe from this book: Mac n Cheese.

My mom got my this cook book for my birthday one year knowing how much my husband loves Italian food. Happy birthday to me!

Favorite Recipe from this book: Chicken Saltimbocca

This is one of the first cook books that I got, back before I had any interest in cooking. I never cracked it open until many years later and to my surprise it had a number of good recipes in it that we keep in rotation now.

Favorite Recipe from this book: Chinese Peanut Chicken

This cook book is pretty amazing. It's huge and chock full of great Southern classic recipes. It also includes information on where the recipe originated from, a little Southern history, some top Southern restaurant profiles and tons and tons of great recipes.

Tons of great recipes. Got a little crazy with the post it notes.

Favorite Recipe from this book: Southwest Egg Rolls

We made these on Valentine's Day and they turned out amazing. They are similar to the egg rolls that you get at Chili's but much better. My husband really blew this recipe out of the water.

This book has more party and event type recipes.

Favorite Recipe from this book: Shrimp and Grits

This book is like a huge encyclopedia of cooking knowledge. If you want to know how to skewer shrimp, cook an egg, tie a roast this book will have your answer.

Favorite Recipe from this book: none. It has recipes in it but we've used it more as a resource so far.

Do you have a favorite cook book?


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tea for Two

The weather gave us a major tease this past weekend. High of 70 wonderful degrees. And then last night we had an ice storm. So it's back to regular winter weather here.

One thing that I enjoy during the winter months is a good hot cup of tea. Tea is a good drink choice since it can be load with lots of antioxidants and other "good for you" ingredients. "Good for you" is a scientific term you know :) Right. Leave the science talk to the husband.

And speaking of my chemistry loving husband, they say that the best way to encourage others to pick up a habit or behavior is to be an example and I think that just might be happening in my house. My husband, John, started getting a little curious about tea. I was thrilled for him to try it out and see what he liked. So here is what we've been drinking at our house lately:

This is the John really likes. I'm not a huge fan of apple flavor but this is pretty good and very strong flavor for a tea.

This one tasts a lot like Starbucks Passion Tea which is one of my favorite teas. Really love it.

This is another one of my favorite teas, it also has a very strong flavor. I love the vanilla in it.

As you can see we are keeping Celestial Seasonings in business right now :) From a graphic designers standpoint I really dig their design of the boxes too. Very clean design with some great colors. And boy can I use some good color and some good tea in these cloudy gray months!

Got a favorite tea?


Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Manifesto

A couple of weeks ago one of my favorite blogs, The Fitnessista, posted a blog post about her personal manifesto based on the manifesto that you can find on Lululemon Athletica's bags.

I love manifestos or declarations like this where you break down who you are what you really feel like matters to you and your life. What you stand for and what you live by. I was inspired by this and decided to make my own manifesto. So here are a couple of rules that I try to remember to live by:

1. Water, water and still more water.

I think we all have heard how great water is for us. I know that for me I can tell a difference when I haven't been keeping up on my water intake. I try to drink a lot of water, often times putting some lime juice into my water to give it a little flavor. I also have to have the water really cold.

2. Take time to love.

My loves

Relationships with our loved ones, friends, family and pets is one of the most important parts of life. I cherish my support team and never take it for granted. The Beatles said it best, all we need is love.

3. Practice yoga regularly.

I love doing yoga. It just feels so good to get a good stretch. Whenever I end a yoga session the first thing that always crosses my mind is "I need to do that more often". I never regret practicing yoga, just NOT doing it. I think yoga is good for people of all ages and sizes. Teaching a class of kids how to do sun salutations (switched to "animal poses" for them to better understand) was one of the most fun times I've ever had doing yoga.

4. Money is just a tool.

So much of life is spent on trying to get more, be more and earn more. Remembering that the point of money is to use it as a tool and not a measuring stick or indicator of happiness is something I try to remind myself.

5. Exercise the imagination often.

When I was in elementary school my teacher asked us all to draw a picture of ourselves. I was the only kid in the class that drew myself older and totally dressed up like a gypsy. I also won the award that year for being the best at show and tell. I've obviously never had trouble with getting in touch with my imagination. I think life is better lived this way.

6. No food guilt, just balance.

I refuse to feel bad about enjoying food that tastes good. Life it too short. Sometimes that food is a nice piece of crunchy bread or a warm cookie. I won't beat myself up for enjoying food, I will keep things in balance though. Everything in moderation.

7. Make time for silliness.

Always make time to be silly, to laugh and to not take yourself or anything else too seriously. I love watching reality tv shows because they are so ridiculous and sometimes say the funniest things ( Who gonna check me boo??!). My husband and I have a zillion silly inside jokes. Being silly is good for the soul.

8. Focus on the positive.

I think that finding a way to be positive in all situations in life to be a crucial life skill. I know that I am drawn to positive people and try hard to find a positive spin on all the obstacles that I face in life. Sometimes that happens to be pretty easy. Sometimes not so much. There is so much in life that we can't control, but we can always control how we react to something.

9. Date your husband (spouse).

At Wrigley Field

It's so easy to get caught up with all the regular business in day to day life with bills and work and life issues. My husband and I always take time to spend quality time together every day and make sure that we plan fun dates and adventures. He is such an important part of my life and I don't want to ever take that for granted.

10. Count your blessings.

I try to count my blessings and focus on all the talents, skills and good fortune that I have had in life. It only takes a Google search to find plenty of people who have things much, much worse then I do. I am thankful.

So what things do you live by? What is on your life manifesto?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

South of Broad - Book Review

I just finished one of the books that was on my "to read" list. The book was South of Broad by Pat Conroy.

The book takes place in Charleston South Carolina. I had heard a lot of praise for this book. Plus it takes place in the South which I was ALL about.

Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities in the US in my opinion.

Did you know they filmed the major chick flick "The Notebook" in Charleston?

Needless to say I had some pretty high expectations.

And wouldn't you know it but I just didn't love this book. Isn't that the worst? When you really want to love something and it just doesn't pan out? Don't get me wrong this book was beautifully written. In a lot of ways its like a love letter written to the city of Charleston. I just can't say that I really love the story. It was darker and surprised me in ways that I wasn't expecting.

My sister and I share books and I plan on sending her a book package with books that I've read and am giving to her to read and I just don't know that I would want to pass this one along.


Since I never posted anything for Valentine's Day I will post one thing that I really am loving right now. And for the record I don't hate Valentine's Day or anything, being married to my best friend and sous chef for life makes every day feel like Valentine's Day so Monday wasn't too different in my little world.

I am really LOVING this:

This stuff is REALLY good. I'm loving it on plain yogurt right now and I just can't get enough of it.

So what are you loving right now? Any books you love? Ones that you hoped to love but didn't?


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Green Stuff

A lot of posts lately about GREEN. How obvious is it that I've gotten really tired of dealing with all this WHITE stuff:

So the other type of green would be money. A lot of how we feel about money comes from our families and the way that we were raised. As you grow as an adult I believe that is the basis of your foundation and then you make decisions to build on that either in same direction or a different one.

When I was in college I took a personal finance class that was really interesting. I'm pretty sure that my book from that class was one of the only college text books that I bothered to keep because it had such great information in it. And for some reason it was all really kinda cool to me to learn about the power of money and how to use it efficiently.

I subscribe to many personal finance and money related blogs. I also have read Dave Ramsey's book, The Total Money Make over, and I really liked it. I think Dave Ramsey has a great perspective on how to accumulate wealth and certain financial goals that you should strive for.

Some of Dave Ramsey's rules that we follow:

Baby Step # 1: $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
Baby Step # 2: Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
Baby Step # 3: 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings (full emergency fund)
Baby Step # 4: Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
Baby Step # 5: College funding for children
Baby Step # 6: Pay off your home early
Baby Step # 7: Build wealth and give

We are working on the Debt Snowball elimination method to pay off our debts (credit cards), once the balance on the credit card is paid off to not carry a balance on the card from month to month, focusing on living like no one else now so you can live like no one else later.

The last point is a really big part of Ramsey's plan. That you should save for the things that you want, not just plop them on a credit card, and that you should deny yourself some of the little bonuses and extras now so that one day you can benefit from this thriftiness. Save save save.

Sometimes I get so caught up in saving for the future that my husband has to remind me to live in the now a little bit. I think its great how we have a balance like this to keep us both sane :)

Some of the best tips I think I've ever gotten from Dave Ramsey is to remember that money is just a tool, it helps you, and shouldn't be the focus of your life. Another great point is to aim to BE rich and not just LOOK rich (basing your wealth on material things, big name brands, expensive items) when you can't truly afford them.

So what is your money philosophy? Do you find personal finance to be interesting or am I out alone on a limb on this one? :)


Monday, February 7, 2011

Green and Yellow

Sooooo guess who won the Super Bowl?

The Green Bay Packers did!

I've never watched a Super Bowl before where "my" team was in it. Wow does it change things. So intense! But so happy too!

That's Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers MVP QB

He has a little championship belt victory dance that he likes to do. This is me trying to do my best interpretation of it.

We got the swagger, we got the cheese. And cheese heads :)

What a crazy season. Now that football is over my attention is 100% on hockey (which is my favorite sport). It also means that we're headed towards spring. Which really just can't get here fast enough.

I'm trying to add a different type of green into my life now. Less football green and more healthy green. I'm debating on trying this kind of green out:


Anyone try this before and have a review or opinion?

I really really want a juicer but I'm really reluctant to buy any more kitchen appliances especially when so many of them don't get used all that often. Plus I know how lazy I can be about cleaning the blender out so I know that being diligent in cleaning out a juicer might be a bit of a stretch for me also.

Does football season ending signify a change in schedule or seasons for you?