Funny stories... tales from the road... life with us.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner!

Tonight I made Rob' favorite - breakfast for dinner! This is one of my fast meals that's an easy fall-back when I'm too tired and too unprepared to fix anything else. We always have the ingredients on-hand, and it's something a little different than normal.

Rob was so happy to see eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast when he came in the kitchen as I was fixing dinner! And that made me happy. :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Interesting Dinner

Rob and I decided go try out American Flatbread tonight. We've heard good things about it and have wanted to try it out, so we made the 25 minute journey to Ashburn for dinner.

The place has a cool set-up — tables are scattered around and almost everyone has a good view of the pizza oven, which is built up in kind of an adobe style. It wasn't too crowded yet when we arrived.

We hit our first bump in the road when the ice tea I'd ordered came with an extra something lovely floating in the glass. Ice tea #2 arrived, but without the straw I'd requested. When our waitress remembered, she compensated by bringing me two!

Rob and I split a nice salad with Boston bibb lettuce, bacon, tomatoes and ranch, topped with a slice of seasoned flatbread. Very good.

Next bump in the road... one of the plates delivered to our table for our pizza (they call it flatbread, but it's a pizza!) was dirty. Sending it back for a clean one...

Here's where it got interesting. We were seated at a table with a great view of the oven and the counter where the pizza-guy placed the pies for cutting and sliding onto trays for serving. Our waitress sliced our pizza and proceeded to nearly fold it in half as she slid it onto the tray. One piece actually fell off onto the counter, and she and a co-worker were man-handling the thing (bare-handed) to try to save it. Nice!

Finally, a manager comes walking over to see what was going on. She immediately sent the mangled pie to the back and came over to our table to explain that they were making a new one for us, which came about 10 minutes later.

I have to say that, despite the bumps, the pizza was good! Rob and I shared a "New Virginia Sausage" pie, which had local homemade sausage, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and caramelized onions. All of the pizza ingredients at American Flatbread are locally grown and organic. We both had our fill and brought home 1/3 of the pizza as leftovers.

Overall verdict: we'd go back, but hope that we have a smoother visit next time!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The 16 Worst Places to Stash Your Stuff

Turns out, how you organize your environment — from where you stand in fitness class to the place you choose to store your meds — has a surprising effect on everything from your weight to your chances of staying well. In other words, when it comes to how you feel, it's not just what you do, it's where you do it. Here, surprisingly bad locales for your health — and the best places to optimize it.

(Note from Kathryn: I just read this online and some of them are grossing me out. Some of them are common sense. You be the judge.)

The worst place for your toothbrush: on the bathroom sink

There's nothing wrong with the sink itself — but it's awfully chummy with the toilet. There are 3.2 million microbes per square inch in the average toilet bowl, and when you flush, aerosolized toilet funk is propelled as far as six feet, settling on the floor, the sink, and your toothbrush. Ewww.

The worst place to set your handbag: the kitchen counter
Your fancy handbag is a major tote for microbes: germ swabs showed up to 10,000 bacteria per square inch on purse bottoms — and a third of the bags tested positive for fecal bacteria! A woman's carryall gets parked in some nasty spots: on the floor of the bus, beneath the restaurant table — even on the floor of a public bathroom. Put your bag in a drawer or on a chair — anywhere except where food is prepared or eaten.

The worst place for your sneakers and flip-flops: in the bedroom closet
Walking through your house in shoes you wear outside is a great way to track in allergens and contaminants.

The worst place to cool leftovers: in the refrigerator
Placing a big pot of hot edibles directly into the fridge is a recipe for uneven cooling and possibly food poisoning. The reason: It can take a long time for the temperature in the middle of a big container to drop, creating a cozy environment for bacteria. You can safely leave food to cool on the counter for up to an hour after cooking, or divvy up hot food into smaller containers and then refrigerate — it'll cool faster.

The worst stall to pick in a public restroom: the one in the middle

The center stall has more bacteria than those on either end.

The worst place for a nighttime reading light: overhead

These fixtures put out relatively bright light — enough to significantly delay the body's secretion of melatonin. That can wreck your night, since rising melatonin levels are a major cue for your body to prepare for sleep. A low-power light clipped to your novel will let you read but leave the room dark enough for your brain to transition into sleep mode.

The worst place to keep medicine: the medicine cabinet
It's not uncommon for the temp in a steamy bathroom to reach 100°F — well above the recommended storage temperatures for many common drugs. To stay out of the red zone, store your meds in a cool, dry place, such as the pantry.

The worst place to set fruit before washing it: the kitchen sink
Of all the household germ depots, the kitchen sink sees the most bacterial traffic — even more than the toilet. If the perfect berry drops while you're washing it, pop it in the trash — not your mouth.

The worst place for your coffee: the refrigerator or freezer
Think that you're preserving freshness by stashing it in the fridge? Think again. Every time you take it out of the fridge or freezer, you expose it to fluctuating temperatures, which produces condensation. The best spot to store beans or grounds: in an opaque, airtight container kept on the counter or in the pantry.

The worst place for your TV: wherever you dine
Studies show that distraction is your waistline's enemy — it can keep you from noticing how much you're eating. In a 2006 study, volunteers ate faster when watching TV than while listening to music — consuming 71 percent more macaroni and cheese when watching a show.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Top Ten

It's Tuesday, and that means it's time for my top 10. If you aren't familiar with this, visit the link under "Friends and Recommended Links" and check it out for yourself.

Here goes..
1. The lovely meal of roasted red potatoes and leftover Easter ham, prepared by Rob since I'm not feeling great.
2. The Easter candy we'll be snacking on for the next few days. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for our fun Easter basket! :)
3. Signing off on a blueline proof today and knowing a needed piece will be printed soon.
4. Tylenol Cold and Flu... I popped two a few minutes ago and will have two more before going to bed.
5. Daylight Savings Time and the longer hours of sunshine. It's a little after 6:30 p.m., and it's still light out!
6. People magazine. I love it and look forward to it every Friday. Since we were gone during the weekend, I'm just reading it now.
7. Chatting quickly with my Mom on the phone tonight. Always a good pick-me-up!
8. Seeing the results of Dancing with the Stars tonight (not one of the shows I'm cutting out!).
9. My crazy kitty who just decided she would hop up on the kitchen counter (she knows full well that she's not allowed!) and looking around sweetly like it's the most natural thing in the world.
10. Hostess 100-calorie mini-coffee cakes!


My throat has been sore all day. I keep thinking it will go away, but not yet.

Ugh. Like many of you, I don't have time to be sick!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Too Much TV

I think I've been watching too much TV. For the past week or so, I've almost felt overwhelmed by the number of shows I think I have to keep up on, and all of the good shows (like The Office, Criminal Minds, etc.) aren't even back from the strike yet!

Confession: Rob and I watch a lot of reality TV. We don't watch the ones that are super-seedy, but we do love Survivor and American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Do you realize how much these shows are on each week? AI and Dancing are on twice and Survivor is once.. and the worst one we watch: Big Brother is on three times a week.

I've felt extra tired lately and don't think I'm getting enough sleep at night. Maybe that's because I'm watching TV until 10 p.m.

So, I'm making a change. I told Rob tonight that I'm going to just stop watching a few of them (primarily reality TV) and try to get to bed earlier or spend more time reading in the evenings. I think I'll sleep better, and that can't hurt!

(P.S. - We do have Tevo and record stuff so we can skip through the commercials. Although it is lots faster, I don't think it technically means I'm watching less TV!)

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pineapple Coconut Bars

I'm a big Paula Deen fan, and this is a recipe of hers that I'm making for dessert at my in-laws on Easter Sunday. Thought some of you may enjoy it too!

Pineapple Coconut Bars
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, divided
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 (20ounce)can crushed pineapple, drained
toasted flaked coconut, garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking pan. In large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, coconut, brown sugar, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. In medium bowl, beat remaining 1/2 cup butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in remaining 1 cup flour. Stir in pineapple. Spread mixture evenly over baked layer. Sprinkle evenly with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Garnish with toasted flaked coconut, if desired.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

M&Ms vs. Football Field

I just read that you have to walk an entire football field to walk off the calories in one M&M. Ack.

Tuesday Top Ten

It's Tuesday, so that means it's time for my Tuesday Top 10. Here goes...

1. Wrapping up a graphics project at work today and moving it down the editing chain. I'll be glad to get it off my desk!
2. A trip to Target at lunch. I love to walk the aisles and check out all of the goodies. I picked up a few things we need around the house -- nothing too special!
3. Signing up for a March Madness pool on Dr. Mark Elrod's Lame-O-Weblog (which I read daily!). Rob picked us a funny team name of the "Fighting Amish."
4. Finally winning against Rob in "Smarty Pants", our new trivia game on the Wii.
5. Fresh sheets on my bed! I love the first night on clean sheets. If I had all the time in the world (and the inclination), I may consider putting on fresh sheets every day. That's crazy, but true!
6. Reading a few friends' blogs today and catching up on what's happening with friends.
7. Rejoicing with my friend Nicole today and her planned trip to Ireland. Have fun!
8. Media interest and hits on a big pitch I worked on last week. Keep 'em coming...
9. Watching "Dancing with the Stars" with the guys dancing last night, and the ladies dancing tonight.
10. 100-calorie Hostess mini-chocolate cupcakes!

Hope you are having a great week!

Monday, March 17, 2008

You Can Live in a Flying Saucer

My grandparents used to live on Signal Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The windy road that went up the mountain was perched close to the edge, and there is one house on it that I always loved -- the flying saucer house.

This morning, I received a link from my brother that the flying saucer house is for sale and up for auction! Awesome. It will be sold to the highest bidder Saturday.

According to the article, the circular house -- ultramodern when it was built in 1970 -- is ringed with small square windows and directional lights and perched on six "landing gear" legs. It has multiple levels, three bedrooms, two baths and an entrance staircase that retracts with the push of a button.

The current owner has it listed on eBay, and bids are already up to $100,000. I'd love to bid and own the flying saucer house that I remember loving to drive by when we were little.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back from Phoenix

Last week, I was in Phoenix from Tuesday through Saturday for my work. We had a conference on sustainable development, which was great. I was able to get to a few of the sessions (which is rare), and I really enjoyed it.

A couple of co-workers and I enjoyed a dinner one evening at Tarbell's, a great restaurant in Scottsdale. The food was excellent (I had a wedge salad and hand-cut pasta with bolognese). No wonder since the chef was a winner on the Food Network's Iron Chef.

Friday morning I headed back east on a cramped flight (the guy in front of me instantly reclined his seat and kept bouncing, trying to push it back more -- annoying). I am glad to be home!

Not much happening... our friends N&J came over last night for a fun time of pizza and Wii. We got a new game (recommended by J!) called "Smarty Pants" -- it's a trivia game and rather fun. Rob and N killed J and me on tennis, and the boys definitely outplayed the girls in Smarty Pants. Regardless, it was a great time!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tuesday Top Ten (one day early)

I'm going to be out of pocket for the next few days, so I'm doing my Tuesday Top Ten one day early. In case you aren't familiar, here's the gist: every Tuesday, write down the top 10 things that you are thankful for that have already happened that day. You'll recognize and be thankful for the small things in life.

Here goes this week's Tuesday Top Ten...

1. Playing the Wii with my husband. We just got it two weeks ago, and we finally picked up a second remote. Tonight we've played baseball and tennis, and now Rob is working up some "Mii" to enter in a contest. We've had a lot of fun with it!
2. Resolving a nagging problem at work today and feeling good about a new plan.
3. Buying a cute red purse on sale during lunch at Kohl's.
4. Fun catalogs full of pretty spring clothes - a good mail day!
5. Sharing a yummy and easy dinner with Rob, thanks to Let's Dish.
6. Watching my crazy kitty AJ try to walk behind me on the treadmill. She's fearless!
7. Chatting with my Mom again on the phone tonight and sharing the woes of each other's days.
8. Hearing from an old friend on blogger today and participating in her new online Bible study, which is great.
9. Remembering seeing Baby Cameron on Saturday - so sweet!
10. A peanut butter bliss bar. :)

What are your top 10?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Good Weekend!

It's Sunday night and Rob and I are wrapping up a nice and relaxing weekend. We just enjoyed a delicious meal of pan-seared scallops (by Rob), roasted sweet potatoes (by me) and baby mixed greens (by Wegmans). I'm full and curled up on the couch, surfing the Web and writing this blog.

Friday night I headed to the mall after work with the goal of getting a few needed things: new pair of black trousers, one pair of jeans, one pair of khakis and some make-up. I should have known better than to go shopping for specific things... I found nothing! Actually, I did get a pair of khakis and a shirt for 50% off of the marked-down price (Lands End corner in Sears), which means I got them both for $18. Excellent. And the make-up was a no brainer... it's the only thing I didn't have to try on!

Rob headed over to the mall later and we used a Chick-Fil-A coupon to get some dinner. My salad dressing took a while for them to hunt down, so we actually got two more coupons for the wait. Nice! More free sandwiches for us.

Saturday we headed up to Maryland to see friends Jeff and Nita and their sweet 8-week-old, Cameron. He is just adorable and it was fun to catch up with friends. We are looking forward to watching Cameron grow! Saturday night we watched the movie Zodiac, about the murderer in California back in the 1960s. Creepy.

Today was church and laundry and a nice nap for me. Plus, I gabbed on the phone to my parents and then to my best girlfriend (who lives in Texas), so I'm all caught up on everything I need to know. :)

Rob's watching the men's Maryland basketball game, and I'm getting ready to go through a magazine of recipes and pull out any I want to try. Hope you had a great weekend, too!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tuesday Top 10

I saw this great idea on another friend's blog - the Tuesday Top 10.

Here's the idea: every Tuesday, write down the top 10 things that you are thankful for that have already happened that day. You'll recognize and be thankful for the small things in life.

So, without further adieu...

My Tuesday Top 10
1. Lunch out with a co-worker (and friend!) who gives me honest feedback and good laughs.
2. Lots of projects and follow-up stuff completed today at work - and checkmarks on my "to do" list!
3. Three loads of clean laundry, washed and folded by my husband (since I was late getting home from work).
4. A sweet and silly kitty cat who is trying to eat my popsicle while I type this blog. :)
5. Completing a good 40-minute workout on the treadmill, and feeling the stress knot in my back slowly unkink itself.
6. A completed graphics project at work that arrived from the printer today - one day early and looking great!
7. My husband's laugh as he's watching American Idol - he has a big, jolly laugh when he finds something really funny. I love it!
8. The last item from my Longaberger order that finally showed up today.
9. Reading blogs and catching up on friends' lives on Facebook.
10. Latte ice cream bars!

I invite you to join me on the Tuesday Top 10 — I'm going to try to do it every week!