Thursday, April 30
So yeah... not sure when I start just yet... I would guess 1 - 2 weeks, but at least I will finally have a reason to get out of the house!!!
Wednesday, April 29
What else happened today you ask... well I received a contract extension on my current job until June 11th. It would probably only be to work about 5-10 hours a week on a lawsuit that is going on, but it would give me a little bit more funding which would be nice. I haven't said yes just yet as I am not 100% sure I want to work on a lawsuit and take that risk of being called in about it, but as it is a legal matter I have to legally help in anyway I can and at least this way I can get paid for it.
So that has been my day... along with laundry and thinking about how I need to do some cleaning around here!
The interview is at 10, so hopefully I will at least know if I am going to get a 2nd interview shortly after talking with the representative!
Other than that, things are very boring around here. Keith comes back today from being out on a job for 2 days and I am very happy about that. It gets really lonely around here when I am stuck by myself. I think it has finally stopped raining for a little while, so I might actually have the energy to go to the gym today since I have been nothing but lazy the past 2 days! Other than that, I have nothing.
Monday, April 27
So a topic I have always been amazed by and have read so much about through blogging in the past few months is couponing and circular shopping. With the end of my job coming, we have really decided that we need to start doing some cutbacks and saving as much money as possible, and I have found that at the grocery store is the best way. I never thought I would be able to save as much as those hard-core couponers out there, but I am really starting to get amazed at how much I have been able to save. In the past two weeks by reviewing the circulars, shopping the deals (which sometimes means going to multiple stores), using my reward card and using coupons I saved $92.31. I have to say that is pretty impressive! If you also add in my 198 bucks I saved at JCPenney's this past weekend, that is almost 300 dollars that I have saved us in just a few weeks time! I am still working on stockpiling my coupons and also working on where to get the best deals on things, but it is getting easier for me to do and really doesn't take up much time at all!
If you want to read more about couponing you can go to www.couponmom.com, that is where I learned a lot about how to start. You can also go to this blog to find grocery deals in your area! I really recommend it to anyone out there that is trying to save money and has 15-20 minutes to spare in their week!
Now most people would say that would be because I am too qualified for the job and they don't want to put someone in the position that will probably just leave in a few months, I don't care! Someone give me an interview so that I can feel that my 4 years at LSU were not a complete waste... well except for the fact that I had a great time and met Keith there (but that's another post that probably will never get written)... Someone read my resume that actually makes a decision... someone freaking HIRE ME!
I have now officially been looking for a job here in the Tyler area for almost 10 months as even once I was told that I could stay on the program working from home, I continued to look. I have probably applied for well over 50 jobs, many of which I personally feel that I am 100% qualified for, but yet, not 1 interview in those 10 months, just a whole bunch of "thanks but no thanks emails." I am almost to the point where I don't even want to submit another resume! It is a good thing that Texas pays pretty decent unemployment cause it looks like I am going to be taking full advantage of those 18 months that Obama has approved.
Friday, April 24
I guess this weekend I will try to do some shopping for Mother's Day. I already got half of my mom's present, but need to get the rest and I have no clue what to get Keith's mom. What are you all getting your mother's for the big day? I need suggestions!!!!
Wednesday, April 22
White Chocolate Cake
From Paula Deen's Holiday Baking (2007)
· 1 cup butter, softened
· 2 cups sugar
· 5 egg whites
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 3 cups cake flour
· 3 teaspoons baking powder
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1 cup whole buttermilk
· 6 (1 ounce) white chocolate baking squares, melted and cooled
-Preheat oven to 350°F; grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.
-In a large bowl, beat butter at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy.
-Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
-In a small bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt; sift twice. Add flour mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in melted chocolate.
-Pour batter evenly into prepared pans; bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and allow to cool completely on wire racks. Ice to your liking!
I decided to mix some strawberries into the icing for my filling and it turned out pretty good. I used Wilton's Buttercream icing for the outside of my cake and I flavored it with their Clear Vanilla Extract. Just a note... this recipe makes A LOT of cake. It is actually for a 3 layer 9 inch cake so if you do not want to make a cake that large, you are going to have left over batter.
Reviews: We both loved it! Very moist with just the right amount of white chocolate.
Here is a picture of my finished product. Of course I had to use some of my cake decorating techniques to finish it off.
I promise that icing is actually purple and not the strange color it is appearing thanks to the camera! That is also supposed to be a fleur de lis, but it appears my cookie cutter was a little messed up. I am sure Keith will be made fun of for his purple fleur de lis cake (a little to LSU/Louisiana for the guys in the office). I could have done a better job on the icing but I figure the guys are just going to destroy it anyway.
Unfortunately after all the baking and icing and decorating, it was pizza night around here. There was no cooking after that afternoon and I was definitely not in the mood to wash anymore dishes! I will have to make sure to make a healthy meal tonight!
Monday, April 20
Friday, April 17
Well it is official! My first cake decorating experience is over and it was so much fun... and I have to say I am pretty decent at it too! But man your arm gets very tired! I don't know how cake decorators don't have one arm like 5 times the size of the other one!
First I am going to share with you the recipe I used for my cake... which tasted REALLY good... I only got to taste a little bit from when I had to take the top off to layer it, the rest went to Keith's office this morning.
Silver White Cake
From Betty Crocker Cookbook
2 ¼ cups cake flour or 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites (1/2 cup)
Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour baking pan, 13x9x2 inches, or 2 round layer pans, 8 or 9 ½ inches. Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, shortening, milk and vanilla into large mixer bowl. Blend ½ minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 2 minutes high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg whites; beat 2 minutes high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).
Bake oblong 35 to 40 minutes, layers 30 to 35 minutes (my oven it was 28 min) or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.
Now a little bit about the actual decorating...Here is a picture of my cake after baking and frosting.
As you can see, I am not the best froster... but I am working on it. Last night in class the instructor shared a secret to flattening it out. You use a peice of parchment paper and rub it on the cake in small circles. The lady that was sitting next to me already knew that and her cake looked AMAZING!
In class we learned how to make Stars, ZigZags, the Curved Line, and dots. For our cake we only used the Stars and the ZigZags but it was really fun to learn different techniques.
And here is the final product...
I can't wait for next week when we get to start learning the rose and also we get to learn how to make clowns!!!
Thursday, April 16
So first came an almost page long email on what I feel are the best brands of pots... personally I am partial to Calphalon, as that is what I have and adore. Then I had to go on about Emeril's set as that is what we picked out for my mom last year as she wanted a reasonably priced set of stainless steel. Then of course you always have the Rachael Ray pots, if you want something very bright and not your typical looking pots and I mean she cooks with them on her show so they have to be pretty good.
Next came an email with links to a few different boxed sets. As Kohl's carries basically all of the good brands that is where I told my SIL to go and look. Plus you all know that Kohl's will have a pretty good sale between now and Mother's Day and at least one coupon that will probably allow my brother to buy them at 20-30% off.
Well this review of pots, then caused me to do this... spend the next hour basically looking at everything possible that Kohl's has to offer in regards to dinnerware, serving ware, flatware, you name it I looked at it. Like I need anything else in my kitchen...
I really should be practicing my stars and borders for my cake class tonight... not wasting my time looking at things that are just so pretty but there is no possible room in my house for anything else in regards to the kitchen... Now don't get me wrong, I have also done 3 loads of laundry, ironed shirts for Keith, made him lunch to take to work, and made sure I had everything ready for class tonight, so I guess the past 4 hours hasn't been a complete waste!
Wednesday, April 15
Tuesday, April 14
Monday, April 13
The roller coaster Keith and I rode on... it was a great old time wooden roller coaster!
Keith and I on the Boardwalk
Keith and my dad racing the monster trucks... ok well actually Keith racing the truck, my dad yelling at his cause it was broken!
Yesterday we went to church with my parents and had a great Easter lunch with them, then it was time to head home. It was a gorgeous spring day, and this was the sight along the side of the road...
Yes, it is bluebonnet season here in Texas... and oh how I love it. I really think it is the prettiest sight ever. More than once I contemplated asking Keith to pull over so I could take some pictures (I had to get this one off of Yahoo! Images), but I decided against it, maybe on the next trip!
Well lot's of things to do around here today, along with work. Laundry, grocery shopping, and other errands to run. It is going to be a LONG day!
Friday, April 10
Pants Gap and Shirt Ann Taylor Loft
I love shopping with my mom... we always find the best deals and the best things! I got a few more things along with those 3 peices but I couldn't find them online. My favorite thing I got was a long short sleeved cardigan that looks soo cute over jeans... but they didn't have it online for some reason!
Tonight is going to be a low key night, but tomorrow we have plans to go to Kima and to the comedy club. We love going to the comedy club when we come, they have some of the greatest comedians!
Wednesday, April 8
That is definitely one thing that I have loved since we moved here... I never knew what 4 seasons were until we moved here. My previous residences of South Texas and South Louisiana are 1 1/2 seasons... Summer and maybe a week or 2 of winter! Add in the 100% humidity about 360 days of the year and it's not the nicest weather. Though living there for 24 of my years I never thought I would say that... but back then I didn't know what I was missing!
Tomorrow night is the first night of my cake decorating class and I CAN'T WAIT! I am so excited about learning how to correctly ice a cake and how to make the little flowers. Next I will have to learn how to bake a really good cake from scratch. Any recipe suggestions? I have made cupcakes from scratch once now, but I am yet to attempt a cake... guess that will probably be coming early next week. Oh and we get to learn how to make butter cream icing! MMMMM! More to come about the class, and hopefully some pictures of my creations!
We are off to my parents right after class tomorrow (hopefully barring no work emergencies for Keith) to enjoy the Easter weekend! I can't wait to go shopping with my mom and Keith and my dad are going to try and get in 2 rounds of golf. We always have a great time when we go to my parents, and we both get to do what we want this way! Plus there is always good food to be had in Houston! I mean there are like 4,000 restaurants there! I wonder where I should convince them to take me :)
Tuesday, April 7
1. No matter if you don't think you will ever need them, register for more towels that you could ever possibly need in life. This includes both kitchen towels and regular bath towels. You seriously would think that we ate them by how quickly we go through them.
2. Even if you are not an avid drinker always keep beer and wine in your house. One day, one of you or even both is going to need them after a long day of work. This is even more true now that we live in a dry county and can't exactly run out to the gas station to buy beer.
3. Men can wear more clothes in one day than some people wear in a week. I never thought I would see someone change as much as Keith does. In one day I have seen him in shorts and a t-shirt, cover-alls for work, in jeans and a t-shirt, and then back in a different pair of shorts and a t-shirt.
4. Once you are married, men really do forget how to do much for themselves. When I was gone for a week with my parents, I came home to more laundry than I have ever seen (see number 3) and none of it was mine.
5. It will make your life much better if you just do the laundry for both of you. As much as you wish that he would notice that his clothes are piling up, he is not going to, and it will help you to keep your sanity if you just do it.
6. Let him be honest if he doesn't like what you cook. That is all I have to say about that.
7. Men are in charge of the remote... end of story. You will never get control of it unless he is not at home. I still see this in my parents 35+ years of marriage.
8. The house will never be 100% clean... oh god I can't imagine what it will be like when we bring kids into this world.
9. You must have only one person in charge of the finances. It is too complicated for both of you to be dealing with that. He knows I'm in charge of the bills and we must be in agreeance for money spent over 100 dollars. This just really makes life so much better.
10. If we are going somewhere in one car... I'm just going to let him drive. It is just the smart thing to do.
So I hope you have enjoyed what I have learned during marriage. But really the number one thing I have learned is that I love my husband and we have a great relationship and I really don't know what I would do without him!
Now back to the laundry :)
Monday, April 6
We had a really great weekend here with the in-laws. I did lots of shopping with my MIL and got lots of bargains.
I got this shirt at Ann Taylor Loft... and thanks to a coupon and a gift card from my mom... only had to spend 13 bucks!
I was so excited to see all the cute spring clothes in the Loft... unfortunately can't spend the money right now, but let me share with you some of the pieces that if I could I would buy!
I tried on both and wanted to buy them so bad... but I let my head win instead of my shopping self. But I do have to say the best thing about my trip to the Loft, was the fact that I would have needed a size 8 in those shorts. Now this might not seem like a big thing to most people, but I have been a size 12 for as long as I can remember. I go into my closet, and I only own 1 pair of size 10 pants, and to need an 8 just makes me ridiculously happy! It feels so good to know that the past 10 months in the gym have really done something for me.
I also bought a new pair of workout capris and Nike zip-up at JCPenney's and had a 15% off plus they were already 20% off, so I got a great deal on those too! I just LOVE getting a good deal!
Sunday my in-laws left, and I had the opportunity to be a greeter for the Tyler Historic Home Tour. Here is a link to the house I was at. I had such a good time and the house was AMAZING! Unfortunately, I was at the front door and decided to wear a dress, and almost froze to death thanks to the wind, but I toughed out my 2 hours and really had a good time. Makes me really excited for when I am in charge of the AAUW Holiday in the Pines home tour in December!
Friday, April 3
If you are ever in the East Texas area the weekend before the First Monday of the month, you HAVE to go to Canton. It is probably the largest open air market in the country and it is just awesome. Here is a link to the website so you can get an idea of what it is. When we first moved here we went and we got all kinds of decorations for the house. The in-laws want to go to get some new things for their house since what they had was not enough for the house! I am hoping to find something for the wall in our extra bedroom and maybe something else fun!
Tonight we are going to our favorite Latin restaurant and I can't wait. We have not been there since before Christmas and I am so ready for it!
Alright since this is the 4th post of the day, I am done...
3 Garlic Cloves (chopped fine)
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
Cajun Seasoning (we use Tony's)
3 Salmon fillets
In Ziploc bag, combine marinade ingredients and place salmon in bag for 1 hour. Once fully marinaded grill about 4-5 minutes per side.
Spinach with Tomatoes
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 tomato (chopped)
1 large garlic clove (chopped fine)
1/4 red onion (diced)
2 tablespoons chicken broth
Warm olive oil in pan. Add garlic and onion and saute until soft. Add spinach and cover until starting to wilt. Add chicken broth and cook until all spinach has wilted down until about 1/3 amount. Add tomato and continue to cook until tomato has softened. Grate cheese over spinach and tomatoes and serve.
We really enjoyed this even though it was just thrown together with what I had on hand!
Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
adapted from Good Things Catered... adapted from America's Test Kitchen
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled until warm
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
-Adjust oven racks to upper & lower -middle positions & heat oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
-Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside.
-With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter & sugars until thoroughly combined.
-Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.
-Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips and pecans.
-Roll scant 1/2 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.
-Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy (about 11 minutes in my oven).
-Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool.
Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of fine salt
Granulated sugar, as needed
-In an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar on low speed until just incorporated. Raise the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.)
-Add the egg and peanut butter and continue mixing until fully incorporated.
-Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
-Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the flour mixture. Raise the speed to medium and mix briefly until smooth dough is formed. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm.
-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheet pans with parchment paper. Using a 2-teaspoon-sized ice cream scoop, melon ballers, or your hands, form the dough into about 50 small balls. Put sugar on a pie plate or dish. Roll the dough balls in the sugar to coat lightly.
-Arrange the dough about an inch apart on the prepared pans. Using the tines of a fork, flatten the dough balls slightly, while making cross-hatch marks on their tops. Bake the cookies in batches, turning the pans once, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes per batch. (My oven cooks ridiculously fast so I cooked them 5 minutes then turned the pan and cooked an additional 4) Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheets, and then transfer to racks to cool completely. Store in a sealed container.