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

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My grandfather

My grandfather died last night. He was 93 and has been living with Alzheimer's for quite a few years now. He lived a good life, worked hard and was as honest and decent a person as I've ever met. He was a good soul.

I have lots of memories of my Pop-pop, and none of them bad. I remember visiting his office and turning round and round in his office chair. I remember riding on the golf cart around the course. I remember going to see the Cass railroad. I remember him coming with my Mom to pick me up from Girl Scout camp the summer he retired. I remember his Santa Claus pants -- red and black plaid slacks he's wear every Christmas. I remember holidays and birthdays and picnics and time together as a family.

When someone close to you dies, it's natural to be sad. And I am, but not for him. I know he's in a better place, and that brings a lot of peace. But I'm sad for us and the presence of the man we'll miss.

I'll think of him every family dinner, when he would offer the grace I can literally hear him saying in my head. I'll miss him telling me that "the sheriff hadn't caught him yet" when I'd ask him how he was doing. I'll try to honor him by living the kind of honest, hard-working life that he did.

I'll miss you, Pop-pop.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I read these words in Elizabeth's Edwards book Resilience, and they've been stirring around in my head since. They are beautiful, descriptive words -- a reminder that through the troubles come the light.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Anthem, by Leonard Cohen

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recipe Sharing: Pepperoni Roll

I hadn't made a pepperoni roll in ages, but I saw one in the market last week and it really got me thinking about them. We had the ingredients on-hand, so I whipped up one for dinner Tuesday evening. It turned out pretty good, so I'm sharing the simple recipe here:


  • 1/2 ball of refrigerated pizza dough (we buy this at the market, but you could also use frozen bread dough if you can't find the pizza dough)
  • pizza sauce
  • pepperoni (and any other fillings of your choice)
  • mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees -- recommend you use a pizza stone, but a cookie sheet would do too. Roll out the pizza crust to the same thickness you'd use for a pizza. Spread just a little bit of sauce on the dough. Cover the dough with pepperoni and cheese. Roll the dough from one side, tucking in the ends when the roll is finished. Putting the seam side down, slice a few vents in the top of the dough. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle a little cheese on top. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until browned on top and cooked through (depends on the thickness of your dough). Slice and serve with extra pizza sauce for dipping.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Next Food Network Star

This has to be my favorite show. I would love, love, love to be on here, although I would totally have my tail kicked. If you are looking for a fun reality show, clean competition and no bikinis or tribal councils or alliances, then this is the show for you.

Of course there's the drama of any show, but it's based more around flopped recipes, tricky challenges and the nerves that come from being on TV. What I like is seeing the Food TV stars (Bobby Flay, Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis, etc.) off of their shows and judging the competition. Plus, I pick up new recipe dos and don'ts. :)

It's on Sunday evenings, but Food TV repeats it a couple of times during the week (we are three episodes in, but they repeat those too and you can read selection committee member Bob Tuschman's blog to catch up). I already have my favorites for the season narrowed down ... we'll see who it comes down to in the end!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Workout Wagon

March 31 was the last day I got up at my usual 5:30 a.m. to spend 30 minutes on the treadmill. That evening, a little something happened to change my routine.

So 85 days later I'm hopping back on the workout wagon. Yes, we've been strolling in the evenings and we did a few walks and a mini-hike during our last weekend at the lake, but nothing really exerting.

Tomorrow starts my 5:30 a.m. wake-up call again, and I'll do a 30-minute treadmill pre-set routine on a medium speed -- no jogging quite yet. :)

I feel like in the last few weeks, I've become flabby. I know I haven't gained much weight (I weigh weekly and am still going up and down the same 5 lbs. I've been shifting around since January), but I definitely feel untoned and just blah.

Plus, I think the daily exercise will help me build up some tolerance for walking and help snap my ankle back into shape. I plan to wear an ankle brace and good tennis shoes, so that should help.

Wish me luck tomorrow. I'll keep you posted on how it all goes, and hopefully I'll continue it every morning from here on out.... or at least until Saturday. :)

Sad Reality

Oh, Jon and Kate, you make me sad.

I enjoyed watching the antics of your crazy family, and although Kate's always been a little harsh (she even made me cringe, which takes a lot!), I thought they were in it for the long haul. They have eight kids! They have a family and a home and a life. Who can just walk away?

I'm a big People magazine reader, so naturally I've read and re-read every J&K interview and story. I'd always thought Jon was just easy-going and fairly nice, but now I see a different side. I see a guy who can't choose to be happy despite all that his life has to offer. I see someone who has given up. I see a guy who just doesn't care anymore. Obviously Kate isn't blameless, but Jon seems to have changed more.

Easy for me to say this since I'm not in their shoes, but if I were, I'd turn off the cameras, kick out the sound crew and try to make it right.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday again....

I've got to get in a better habit of updating this blog! I think the summer-time makes it too easy for me to come up with an idea of doing something else, but I promise I'll try. :)

We had a fun weekend -- so fun, in fact, that I didn't shake my sinus headache/sore throat. Ugh. But, I suppose the fun outweighs the discomfort of my aching head.

Saturday, we celebrated with a dinner in honor of my parents fortieth anniversary (I know you are reading this, Mom!). We went to the B&B where Rob and I had celebrated our first anniversary, but we just did dinner and didn't stay the night this time. The chef/owner was a chef in France, and the food is sooooo good. The dinner is five courses -- here's what I had: risotto with spring vegetables; seared Hawaiian tombo (fish); sorbet; Waguy ribeye; and a dark cherry tart.

And I'm pretty sure this is what Rob had: mussels; seared scallops with caviar; sorbet; Bluenose (butter fish); and a peach/chocolate tart with lavender honey ice cream.

Needless to say, we were stuffed when we left. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for celebrating with us! We had a great time.

Sunday was the market, church and laundry laundry laundry.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hello? Is Anyone Out There?

It's been a few days since I've updated.... we headed out of town last Friday for a long weekend at the lake, so I'm just catching up now. We had a great time just hanging out and relaxing with Rob's family. A few of the highlights: the Saturday farmers' market where we bought fresh greens and banana blueberry bread.... grilling pizzas for dinner.... watching Benjamin Button (loved it!).... lots of walks in search of wifi.... fun boat ride Sunday and boating to breakfast Monday.... hike at Swallow Falls.... sleeping in everyday. :)

Tomorrow I'm playing Capitol Barbie and heading to a briefing my association is hosting on Capitol Hill. Wish me luck as I head downtown in the nutty traffic in the morning. I'm too used to my short eight-mile commute!

I don't think I've mentioned this, but we had our living room ceiling replaced/patched/painted last week, and they also fixed our toilet in the master bath. With luck, our water issues have ended. And we have a freshly painted ceiling to enjoy. I don't think I've ever looked at a ceiling so much!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I should open a bakery

Bon-bon cookies, baked and iced - check!
Cheese biscuits, baked - check!
White chocolate pretzel cookies, dipped - check!

I think I am ready for tomorrow's baby shower. I've been taking in dishes and platters a few each day, so tomorrow all I need to do is take in the cookies, pick up the cake and decorate. Oh... and keep it all surprise from one of my employees. :)

We are doing a "name that baby" game with other co-workers baby photos, and if I say so myself, those two picture collage boards came out really cute. I didn't want to damage anyone's photo, so I cut some fun scrapbook paper just a smidge larger than each photo, then mounted their photo on the scrapbook paper with those old-fashioned black corner frames. Then, I mounted the completed photo on the posterboard and added a "Who am I" with a number.

Our second game is a match of the celebrity baby/parent. Have I mentioned that I love pop culture? :)

My other team member and I wrapped the group gifts today -- we ended up with a ton of stuff, plus enough for a $75 gift card. Generous co-workers!

I'll let you know how it all tuns out... wish us luck!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Good Weekend

We are wrapping up a fun and easy weekend. We didn't do much, but that was a-okay. Rob went into work both Saturday and Sunday, so that gave me some time to hit the Talbots Outlet (everything an extra 40% off!) and run some other errands. We headed to Reston Saturday night for dinner at Jackson's, which is always yummy.

We watched the movie Milk last night, and I was really moved by the story. I didn't know much going in, and the subject matter is a little outside my wheelhouse, but the acting and the story of this activist/peacemaker's life were both really good.

So excited that the Next Food Network Star starts tonight! I would love to be a contestant on this show. :)

Friday, June 05, 2009


Today marks the start of "early Fridays" in my office. We close two hours early on Fridays in June, July and August. Add on my lunch hour and I can head out at 1:30 p.m. Whoo hoo! This afternoon I plan to run some errands and try to get ahead for the weekend.

Rob's been working like a madman on a big project, so I anticipate him putting in some office hours this weekend. Another co-worker and I are hosting a baby shower mid-week next week, so I plan to do some baking and make a "Name that Co-worker" board of baby photos for a game. Hope it turns out okay.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Recipe Sharing: Zesty Chicken Enchiladas

I found this recipe on another friend's blog and picked up the ingredients to make it this week (it's from Real Simple). I ended up making the sauce the night before and cooking/dicing the chicken breasts (my substitution of shredding a cooked rotisserie chicken) in advance.

Also, I made a few substitutions, which I'll note below. The verdict is that we loved this dish and would make it again. Very good!

Zesty Chicken Enchiladas
Yield: 4 servings (definitely could be more, depending on the size of your enchiladas)


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (I used olive)
  • 1 pound tomatillos (papery skins removed), chopped
  • 1 onion (preferably white), chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I used 5 - we love garlic!)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used ¾ c. 1% milk, a couple tablespoons of melted light butter and a tablespoon of flour, mixed together)
  • 2- to 2 1/2-pound rotisserie chicken, meat shredded (I used 1 lb. of boneless chicken breast, cooked and diced)
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained (I used a can of Rotel)
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Monterey Jack (5 ounces)
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • Pico de Gallo or salsa

1. Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatillos, onion, poblano, garlic, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Transfer to a food processor, add the cream, and puree.
3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, tomatoes, 1 cup of the cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomatillo sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
4. Warm the tortillas according to the package directions (I didn’t warm them in advance).
5. Spread 1 cup of the remaining sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Roll the chicken mixture in the tortillas and place them in the dish, seam-side down.
6. Top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Bake until beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with Pico de Gallo.

Real Simple Tip: Tomatillos resemble small green tomatoes with papery outer skins and a delicious tart flavor. Can’t find them? Try a shortcut version of the sauce by mixing a 16-ounce jar of mild green salsa with 1 cup of cream.

Getting things back to normal

A contractor came to our house this morning to look at our living room ceiling and the toilet in the master bath. We've used him for quite a few projects, and he estimates he'll just have to replace part of the ceiling and then paint that whole level so it all looks consistent. We expect an estimate this afternoon - fingers crossed that it's not too crazy.

Not much has been happening this week.... Rob's been working hard on a project due on Friday, and I've been keeping busy too. We've been getting out for walks most every evening, and I feel like I'm moving a little better every day. It's so nice today that I plan to walk up to the grocery market during lunch to pick up a few items. Hope I don't regret it halfway there - it's about a half-mile each way, so I should be okay.

We tried a new enchilada recipe for dinner last night that I'll share in a bit - very good!

Oh - I'm embarrassed to say that we've been watching that very stupid "Celebrity Survivor" show. It's so annoying, and at least it's primarily just on as background noise as we are on the computers or doing other things around the house. Spencer is the most obnoxious person I've ever seen in my life. Please tell me you aren't watching it too. :)