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October 2010
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December 2010

Getting back to reality...

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend!  Mine was pretty good... quiet, but I was able to get plenty of rest and get a lot done around the house as well as getting in some good workouts, a few movies (Tangled was highly enjoyable, I must say) and of course cooking and decorating!

This one is for my family who must have asked what I made for Thanksgiving dinner at least 5 times.

Thanksgiving Dinner '10

Roast turkey breast (naturally), roasted sweet potatoes candied in a light orange sauce with toasted pecans (yum), homemade stuffing made from multi-grain bread, fresh herbs, celery, parsnips and fennel (yum), steamed green beans and a cranberry-orange-pomegranate relish that was fantastic in place of gravy on the turkey.  And I made frosted pumpkin cookies for dessert instead of pie (thanks for the recipe Erin!)  It was fabulous and I've really been enjoying all the leftovers :)  And the entire dinner was only 6 points on Weight Watchers (plus 2 points each for cookies).  Of course, that was the old program.  I've been switching over to the new one today and despite the fact that almost all produce is now 0 points (big bonus for fruit lovers), I'm not sure I'm a fan.  We'll see, I guess.

Of course, one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is that it marks the beginning of the Christmas season.  I got so wrapped up in bringing in my tree and pulling out my ornament boxes that I didn't put the turkey in until late afternoon.  It all worked out :)  I got most everything done on Thursday and finished up Friday afternoon.  And naturally, there are pictures.  Granted, it looks pretty much exactly like last year, but whatever. 

The tree... I love to turn off the main lights and hang out on the couch watching movies and enjoying the atmosphere.  Especially when the Hallmark channel has a good, sappy and romantic Christmas movie (I'm a sucker for them.  It's a weakness).

Christmas '10 Living Room

And a close-up of some of the ornaments... this year it's my new glittery ray that I got in Monterey.

Christmas '10 Tree close-up

My table centerpiece along with my set of Turkish tea glasses.  I'm kind of liking them there, especially since a hot cup of apple tea is fabulous sitting by the tree when it's snowing outside (and boy did it snow this weekend!  I think I got almost a foot.  No kidding.  And I totally counted activity points for shoveling snow.  lol.)

Christmas '10 Table

And my flying Christmas fairies with their gold snowflakes...

Christmas '10 Flying Fairies

And finally, the entry-way landing and the bannister going upstairs.

Christmas '10 Landing

The trees in my entry are all covered with birds and butterflies this year and I added in some gorgeous brown and gold poinsettias.

Christmas '10 Bannister

Now I can kick back with my Christmas playlist and just enjoy.

I've been trying to do some scrapbooking here and there, but each time I sit down it's just not coming.  I've had one project on my desk for almost two weeks now and it's getting nowhere.  No mojo, I guess.  I suppose that means I should just take it easy and not force it, right?  I've got plenty of other stuff going on, including getting back to class this week.  I didn't have class at all last week since they ended up closing BYU campus on Tuesday afternoon because of the blizzard warning so I'm actually really excited to get back in the classroom.  It should be a fun week!

Oh.  And for Stacy (hi Stacy!) and everyone else who's asked about the mouse, Mortileficent is no longer with us.  I'll keep the story short so as to minimize the gory details.  First off, the traps I got are total crap.  She walked right inside one of them while I was standing there and it did NOTHING!  Of course then she made the mistake of diving down the drain to get away from me.  I'll leave it at that.  I'm still sick over what I had to do because it was totally inhumane, but I just can't have mice in my house, no matter how cute they might be when trapped in my bathtub.  So there you go... it's nice to not worry that I hear her scurrying around at night, at least.

Um... what next?

This morning, as I'm groggily attempting to shake off my total lack of sleep after a (probably less than wise) midnight viewing of Harry Potter 7, I heard this scratchy rustling.  It sounded like when people hang stuff on your doornob and it blows in the wind and scratches the door.  Only as I walked toward the front door, the sound got quieter.  I backtracked and realized it was coming from the guest bathroom!  It was the scratching of the shower curtain!  That could mean only one thing.  I went in and shook it and yes indeed... the scramble of little mouse feet.  I pulled the curtain free leaving Maleficent in the tub...

Maleficent the Mouse

Looking at her, she's actually kind of cute!  Maybe more of a Morticia after all.  She's had a habit of turning up in unlikely places since she moved in, but this tops them.  The bathtub.  Really?  She eludes all my traps and ends up in the bathtub?

So what do I do now?  I can't leave her there, but I don't want to put a trap in with her or try and take her out somehow, because then what do I do?  Argh.  I'm such a softie.  I can't stand the thought of deliberately killing it, even if it's technically vermin, but I know I'm going to have to suck it up.

A little reward

So I decided a long time ago what reward I wanted to give myself if I reached a certain milestone in my continuing quest for healthy living.  Zebra striped platorm heels.  I know.  I'm weird.  What can I say?  When I started getting close to my goal, I checked online to see if they were still available and what do you know?  Just one pair left in my size.  I bought them and they've been sitting in my closet for a few weeks.  I refused to cheat and wear them early but this weekend I earned them.  So today they came out.

Zebra Shoes

I've had tons of comments today... emails in meetings that say "nice shoes!"  people taking pictures of the shoes and emailing them to friends who will be jealous (apparently)... even the guys have been commenting.  So, I figured at this point they're probably blog-worthy, right? (And also Mom wants to see.  Lol.)  I'm loving them (and yes, I definitely got the gel inserts!)

P.S.  The black stripes are fuzzy!  Like cool fuzzy, not early '80s velvet painting fuzzy.

Mouse in my house.

And I wish I was talking about a Dr. Seuss book... lol.  Ever since I started working on a project for my Creativity & Innovation class about Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, this little mouse has shown up.  It's totally freaking me out.  I've got traps, but he's wiley.  One of my friends suggested that in the meantime, naming him might help.  lol.  Why not?  I decided to call him Arturo (Morticia and Maleficent were suggested... I really like Maleficent - more fitting, yes?)  Since it seems to have taken up residence in my attic and I needed to avert the image of him nibbling and nesting with my scrapbook paper, I decided that in the spirit of Ratatouille, it's a frustrated creative spirit who prefers making layouts to nibbling and nesting.  It's also possible that I'm more freaked out by the traps than the mouse itself... I swear if itcomes out right now and gets caught in that thing, I'll be scarred for life (and I can totally hear it.  Freaked, I tell you.)

But that's beside the point... I've been up here emailing while we work on our presentation for tomorrow's class and between emails I decided to actually do a layout.  In reality, I was supposed to be working on birthday cards for all the birthdays this month but since cards aren't my strong suit, I was easily distracted.  Here's my first layout of Adorable-Niece-Aubrey.


And a close-up...

Snuggle Close-up

Also, another fun little culinary concoction.  Yet another experiment with figs... this was based on my last recipe with the flatbread, gorgonzola, apples and honey.  I decided to change it up so it would work as a meal.  I used Orowheat Sandwich thins to make little pizzas. 

Fig and Apple Sausage Pizza

I toasted the bread and then spread some Laughing Cow blue cheese over top.  I added turkey apple maple sausage, asian pear, black mission figs, parmigiano reggiano and a little light maple syrup.  Put it all under the broiler just long enough to get a little caramelization on the figs and melt the cheese... both halves were 7 points and it was too much for one serving!  Yummy, though.

Okay, since I'm actually having to ask Arturo to please stop making noise and NOT come out where I can see him, I think the wise thing to do here is shut everything down, move the trap closer to where I can hear him, and skedaddle.


(Too late!  I just saw him.  I'm so gone.  Please trap, do your work!)

Catching Up.

I feel like I've been running non-stop for weeks now, but today I finally got a bit of a break... got to bed early last night and slept in which I most definitely needed considering how little sleep I've been getting lately.

So this morning, I finally sat down and finished a layout of Adorable-Niece-Eraleigh that I started before I went home last weekend.  I'm not sure I'm happy with it... tweaks might appear in the near future.  These are pictures from when Eraleigh rode the rides all by herself at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz this summer.

Little Miss Independent

Tomorrow I'm going to try and get started on a project for Nicole featuring Adorable-Niece-Aubrey (sorry Erin!  I've gotta do it...)  I just haven't had the time or the motivation to do half the scrapbooking I've wanted to lately, but there are some awfully cute pictures from last weekend that will probably help with that :)

After I finished the layout, it was workout time.  I put in a killer workout today since I knew I was eating out tonight.  A group of us got together at Mazza - a Middle Eastern place at 9th and 9th in Salt Lake.  I'd heard great things about the food there and it really was fabulous.  We had a blast... and unlike our last dinner, this time I took a few pictures.  Crappy phone camera pictures, but pictures nonetheless.

Mindy and Laura...

Mazza - Mindy and Laura

Todd and his wife and Darren...

Mazza - Todd, his wife and Darren

Darren, Mindy and Laura...

Mazza - Darren, Mindy and Laura

Brent, Sherilyn and Chad...

Mazza - Brent, Sherilyn, Chad

And finally, me and Chad:

Mazza - Chad and I

It might be time for me to break down and bring my big camera.  I'm still peeved that the screen on my little Olympus cracked.  I need another purse camera!

I ordered some muhamara to share with the table (never had it before and it was delicious! Definitely need to make some.) and Mindy and Darren ordered baba ghanouj to share which was also fantastic.  I had red lentil soup and then chicken and eggplant for dinner and it was seriously yum.  We all tasted each others' food and everything was wonderful.  I have lots of leftovers too, which is always happy.  We also ordered dessert and I had some kanafeh.  I was going to get a ma'mool since I have the molds to make them but have never done it, but then I thought... duh, I can make them.  Order something else!  It was all fabulous.

And speaking of food (because really, aren't I always?)  A few more recent recipes... I started with something I'd wanted to do for quite a while:  stuffed dates.  I took an ounce of reduced fat feta and mixed it with a tablespoon of honey and some chopped pistachios.  I pitted the dates and stuffed them - you can have two stuffed dates for 2 points on WW... and trust me, you can't eat more than that!  They're also outstanding with brie or goatcheese, but I was really pleased with the flavor using the feta.

Stuffed Dates

I've also found a great food blog with yummy, healthy recipes.  I love that she gives all the Weight Watchers points for everything.  I saw this recipe come up on Tastespotting and had to try it; the roasted acorn squash reminded me of when I was little and my mom used to make them.  It turned out great!  I bought another acorn squash at the store this week so I can do it again.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Finally, a Turkish recipe that I'd been dying to try.  It's from my Arabesque book, but I lightened it up a bit.  Toasted lavash flatbread broken in pieces and sprinkled with sumac with a homemade tomato sauce (1.5 pounds of peeled tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper and a serrano chili... chop the tomato and add it to sauteed garlic and chili.  Let it all simmer so the sauce reduces down and thickens.  You can throw in 1/2 diced white onion or more garlic too which I've also done).  Then about 1/3C fat free plain greek yogurt topped with pinenuts toasted with sumac.  The kebab are ground beef (I used the lowest fat I could find) with fresh parsley and S/P.

Kofte Style Kebab

You broil the kebab for 4 minutes on each side and they're done!  You can also grill them.  I made this again for my family last Monday night and they loved it.  I made some modifications based on my new cookbook I got for my birthday; I added 1 tbsp each of cumin and paprika to the meat before mixing.  I also subbed whole wheat pita for the lavash bread.  It was really delicious.  The whole thing is 7 points and quite filling!

That's it for now... off to watch my recording of the Avs game.  Looks like they stomped Dallas!  Always enjoyable :)

Creativity and Innovation

Last night I hauled myself down to Provo after an early flight back from Virginia and I'm so glad I made it back; class was awfully fun.  We (a subset of the class) started a new elective called Creativity and Innovation.  First, we had a guest speaker, Mike Lee, who was quite interesting.  He's done some really cool stuff and had some great insights into working creatively.  After our break, we had a discussion of a case study about the Vasa - a Swedish ship in the 1600s that sank on its maiden voyage.  They actually had us do a reinactment of the inquiry with people playing the rolls of key participants.  Darren was the prosecutor (complete with wig) and Mindy and I agreed that he might have missed his calling;  he was a superb lawyer.  Laura was the master shipwright... she was awesome too.  We all swear she must have memorized the case and she got off some pretty sweet one liners.

I got a few pictures with my phone and stole a bunch more from Laura's blog.  (she has even more pictures...)


One of Laura's (taken by Todd while she was on the stand) - looking down the row at the rest of the crew... Chad, Me, Brent, Mindy and the empty chair where Darren was sitting (I didn't notice Todd taking pictures of us.  Sneaky.)


Brent, doing last minute case review (probably in case he got called on... lol).


Dr. Hatch making Tom the admiral.


Did I mention that it was funny?  Highly amusing.


Darren really got into his role.  It was a trip.


Tomorrow night is another new elective... much smaller class, and sadly, probably no re-enactments either.  It's on the Service - Profit connection.  It should still be good; the readings have been pretty interesting so far.  School isn't over for another 8 months or so and I'm already sad about it.  I have to say that I really love class - it might make me a nerd, but I always look forward to going :)

A few more photos

Just had to pop in to share a few of the cute Halloween pictures that I got yesterday of my adorable nieces. We went back to the hospital to visit Nicole, Brian and Aubrey and they put her in her little costume.


And another one where you can get the entire pea pod effect:

And then last night, Little Red Riding Hood came to grandma's house to trick-or-treat.

She was thrilled they people would just give her candy.  When Rick and Erin tried to take her bag so they could put her coat on under her cape, she did NOT want to let go.  She quite vocally expressed her displeasure at the thought of having her candy bag taken away.  They managed, though, and headed out to do a few houses nearby.  She came back totally thrilled with her haul (she was more interested in the collection of candy than eating any of it) and proceeded to run between the kitchen and family room to bring me her candy one piece at a time.  It was really cute :)

Today Mom and I went to the hospital to pick up Nicole and Aubrey and take them home after they were released.  Then we got to sit with the baby while Nicole took a much needed nap.  She's a supreme little cuddler... I loved that I got to just hold her for hours.


And one last picture... tonight for Family Night we had a lesson followed by a game of Scrabble.  All of us except for Erin are terrible at it and collapsed into helpless laughter at the different words we were trying to make up.  Thankfully, Erin shares her skills with all of us so our scores aren't as terrible as they would otherwise be.


When I get a chance, I'll upload the best pictures into an album.  For now, time to pack my bag and get some sleep... my flight back to Utah leaves at the crack of dawn tomorrow so I can be home in time to run a few errands and get down to class.