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Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm baaaaaaaaack!

I sincerely hope you noticed I was absent for a few days. ;)

The husband and I packed up and headed out on Thursday morning to my parents home in North Augusta, South Carolina. This was a super special year for us, as neither of us has been able to spend Thanksgiving with my family since 2003. Many of those years I didn't get to celebrate at all, as Jason was out to sea and it is just no fun to cook for yourself. I was really looking forward to eating my family's delicious food and catching up, and this year did not disappoint!

My mom hosted this year, and we had over 28 people show up. My mom decided a long time ago that she didn't want to have to pick and choose what side of the family we celebrate with, so she usually hosts and invites her family and my dad's family over for dinner. It is wonderful to have both sides of the family under one roof!

My cousin Heather had a little girl two weeks ago, so this was my first introduction to Mari Claire! Besides a brief projectile vomiting incident, we had some wonderful bonding time. I think my whole family was making an attempt to push the baby off on me in hopes that holding her would make me decide that it is time. If so, they really should have taken her away before the spit up incident. **I'm so kidding. Even spit up is adorable when it comes out of a 9 pound body.**

On Friday morning, my mom headed out to Walmart at 5:00 a.m. I just couldn't take getting up that early, so she hit up 4 stores and then picked me up at 8:00 a.m. so we could head to the mall. We met my aunt, Heather, and Mari Claire there and had a blast searching for deals. My job was to carry the baby (yes, we had a stroller but seriously - she is 9 pounds!! and they were still trying to sprinkle me with the baby dust) and I just basked in the glow of people assuming I was a new mommy. (No, I didn't correct them. It was all the benefits of having a baby without any of the work.) Do you know how nice people are to you when you have a itty bitty baby in your arms?

After lunch, the baby and its crew took their leave, and my mom got busy with some serious shopping. We headed back to the mall, where had to elbow people out of our way at Bath & Body Works, and then to Kirklands, Joanns, Michaels, Target, and Old Navy. Whew! By that time, it was 6:45 p.m. and it was time to pick up the men for a little more shopping and dinner. We drove to another mall and to my favorite store, Hobby Lobby, and finally arrived home 10:30 p.m.

That is 14 hours of shopping, by the way. Just in case you are math deficient, as I am. MY MOTHER IS A MACHINE. I swear. She's 56 years old and has more energy than I do. We also went out shopping on Saturday, but I'm still a little traumatized by that day, so I'll save that story for later.

Check out my loot! The best deal of the day was a 6.5 foot prelit Christmas tree for $25, and I also got two 4 foot prelit trees for my porch for $20. Two trees for $20 - you have no idea how excited I was about that deal. I got some cute Christmas decor, but I'm saving that to show you later.

The Old Navy bag is full of clothes for Jason, so I can't show those. I scored at Bath & Body Works - in addition to their sales, my mom and I had a ton of coupons: one item free, two free lotions, $10 off. We really did well there.

And yes, you do see 4 pairs of shoes. All for me. Was I supposed to buy things for other people? Oops.

What did you buy this weekend?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Georgie loves him some turkey. Delish!

Turkey makes JC sleeeeeeeeepy.

Are you shopping on Black Friday? Check out this website for all the sales papers!

I'm going to be taking the next few days off to spend time with some family members, so I will see you all on Monday. This is the first Thanksgiving in over 4 years that I've been in the same state as my family, so I'm super excited that I finally get to partake in the festivities once again.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bloggy Business

You know, I'll readily admit that sometimes I'm a little slow. It's taken me awhile to hit my stride with blogging, because I really just don't get it. I'm not really that tech-savvy. I wish I was... but I'm just not. I see people who have all these neat little gadgets and whatnots on their blogs, and I'll say to myself "self, you gotta get one of those!" And I'll spend hours (ok, minutes) googling "cool little number counter thing on blog" and nothing will come up, so I'll quit.

**Did you know those things are called widgets? Really, who would have thunk it??**

Well, I'm proud to say that I finally figured something out! Did you know I have followers? Yeah, I didn't either. Hello, followers! You are smarter than me because I didn't even know you could do that. I'm not sure where you are following me to, but I think I'm headed to Starbucks later, so jump on board. The peppermint white chocolate mocha is fabu!

So because I'm all smart and cool like that, you, lovely readers, have two options for staying abreast of the latest and greatest at My Chihuahua Bites! If you use some sort of blog reader, you can add my blog directly to your reader by using the handy dandy subscribe button to your right (right under the Miscellaneous tab). If you prefer to follow me through Blogger, that option is also to your right. Check it out!

Tuesdays at the Table

I cannot believe it is already the end of November! Time continues to march on, and I do believe it is marching across my face and my bottom. But that's a post for another day. :)

Today's Tuesday at the Table offering is mozzarella stuffed mini-meatloaves. These are very easy to make and are quite tasty!

1 lb hamburger meat (I used ground turkey)
1 lb sausage
2 eggs
Italian spices (use whatever you have on hand)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup spaghetti sauce
String cheese, about 8 individual servings

  1. Combine the hamburger, sausage, eggs, parmesan cheese, spices, breadcrumbs, and 1/2 cup of the spaghetti sauce.
  2. Press meat mixture into mini loaf pans. The meat mixture should fill the pan a little less than half full.
  3. Press two servings of string cheese into the middle of the pan, and top with the remaining meat mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.
  5. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Funny story: the whole time we were eating, I was racking my brain trying to figure out why the meatloaf was so spicy! It turns out that I used spicy instead of regular sausage. LOL! To complete this meal, I made garlic and herb mashed potatoes with heavy cream, butter, and half of one of the little tubs of garlic & herb Boursin cheese.

For dessert, I made homemade chocolate chip cookies. I haven't made cookies since the first month that the husband and I got married, which was over 5 years ago. That batched turned out so badly that I just never wanted to try again (I used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon of salt, and they were quite salty). These were so good! I don't have a picture of the completed cookie because my husband immediately started scarfing them down.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups assorted chocolate morsels (I used white and milk chocolate)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine softened butter and shortening and mix until creamy. Add white and brown sugar, then eggs and vanilla. Once all the above is well combined, add flour, baking soda, salt. The final step is to add the chocolate morsels. Bake for 8-9 minutes for small cookies, and 12-14 minutes for large cookies.

Are you cooking Thanksgiving dinner? If so, what are you making? I'd love to hear your recipes! My mom is making the meal this year, and the rest of us will fill in with desserts and side dishes. I'll have some good recipes to share with you next week!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas: Week 3

Update: Can anyone see the recipes for the oyster crackers below? It was fine this morning and now the text is all wonky. I'm working on getting this fixed. My apologies!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful, restful weekend and that you are looking forward to the upcoming holidays.

Today's gift idea is homemade kahlua. At the end of the post you'll have learned something new about me - I'm a total procrastinator. I debated whether or not I should even share this recipe, since it is almost too late to make the kahlua for Christmas gifts. I'm sorry, readers! What can I say - why do today what I can put off for tomorrow?

Let's get started! First of all, you'll need some sort of bottle with a seal. I purchased bottles and corks from AC Moore, but you could use glass soda bottles, beer bottles, or liquor bottles. Be creative! My co-worker also makes this every year, and she and her husband hunted down a beer distributor who makes bottles with hinged lids. She gives the kahlua as gifts every Christmas, and asks that the bottles be returned so that they can be reused the next year.

2 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 cups 80 proof vodka (I used the cheap stuff)
1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract (I used tahitian vanilla from TJ's)
Whole vanilla bean

I started off by doubling the recipe, and it filled 5 bottles. I then made one more batch, and it filled two more bottles. If you triple the recipe, it would fill 7 bottles of the size I used.

  1. Clean your bottles thoroughly. I ran mine through the dishwasher to clean and sanitize them.
  2. Cut up the vanilla bean into small portions and drop a bean into each bottle. You can also use whole coffee beans (which I have not personally tried). I had eight bottles, and I purchased McCormick brand whole vanilla bean, which came 2 beans to a bottle. I cut each bean into fourths and had enough for all the bottles.
  3. Combine the water, sugar, and coffee and bring to a boil. Use a very large pan! I used a small pan, and it boiled over and sparked up on my stove. I no longer have eyebrows as a result. *kidding! but it did catch on fire, so beware.*
  4. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the vodka and vanilla and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  7. Use a funnel to pour the kahlua into the bottles.
  8. Seal your bottles. I used corks, so I coated the sides with honey for a little extra grip.
  9. Store in a dark, cool place for 30 days. *Do you see why I said I'm a procrastinator?*

The next recipe is Ranch Oyster Crackers, and it would be a perfect gift for a co-worker, mailman, or neighbor. My husband loves these little crackers - they are a great snack, and are very inexpensive and easy to make.

  • 16 oz package of oyster crackers
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 package of dry ranch dressing mix

Combine all ingredients into a gallon zip lock baggie. Shake to mix. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 in a 250 degree oven. Cool completely before storing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another mish mash post

Happy Saturday, everyone! I normally take the weekends of from posting but I had a few things I wanted to share.

First of all, the husband and I went to see Twilight last night. I don't know why I didn't plan ahead and preorder tickets, but I didn't. I decided to call the theatre around 2:30 p.m. and was told that every showing but 9:50 had already sold out, and there were only 22 tickets left for the that showing. I managed to snag two of those tickets, and we were set.

What did I think? Well, I have mixed feelings. The husband would tell you that movies made from books rarely live up to my high expectations, and Twilight was no exception. Honestly, I thought it was extremely cheesy. They changed a lot, which I did not care for, and they excluded some things I thought were important. You didn't really get a sense of the Bella/Edward dynamic - it just felt like their love story never really developed. The scene where Edward smells Bella for the first time? Wow, that was some bad acting. I thought Jasper stole the show - he barely spoke 10 words and his expressions said volumes. The husband has not read the books, and he really liked it. I thought it was nice eye candy and was good for a few laughs, but it really won't win any awards for acting, that's for sure.

Moving on... as you can see on my sidebar, I participated in Mamarazzi's favorite things swap. My partner was Felicia and I wanted to share my goodies! Thanks so much, girlie! I can't wait to drive in and try everything. I'm thinking those beautiful notecards will make great thank you notes for Christmas gifts! A huge thanks to Mamarazzi for hosting and organizing this swap!

I've also been the lucky recipient of a few blog awards! The first is from Mamarazzi and it went all to all those who participated in her swap. Right back at you, Mamarazzi!

Kjamama at The Phrase Working Mother is Redundant and Christina from Christina's Creative Expressions both gifted me with this next award:

This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.
I'm passing this along to all the wonderful ladies (and one gentleman) who came by and left such wonderful comments for my Makeup, Part 1 & 2 posts. (In particular Sam, who left me such a great complement that I think I'll print it out and keep in my purse for days when I look like the Bride of Chuckie. You know those days.) You guys are awesome! It feels great to know that my fountain of useless knowledge might just help someone out. Now I can justify all the money I spend on makeup and beauty products to my husband... right?

Someone else gifted me with this last award and I'm embarrassed to admit I can't remember who. I've spent the past 30 minutes searching, and I can't find where I wrote the information down! My apologies. I don't even remember what I am supposed to do or who I am supposed to pass it on to, so I'll just list a few of my favorite things:

  1. My Starbucks barista - apparently he saw the husband and I pulling up into the parking lot today and had our drinks ready when we walked inside. How awesome is that?!
  2. Date nights with the husband
  3. The feeling of accomplishment when you deep clean or organize something that is super messy
  4. Knee socks - I don't wear them outside of the house, but they are very warm and cosy inside.
  5. Bling bling - I love anything bright, shiny, and/or glittery.

Since I don't know where this came from or who (how many) I'm supposed to forward it to, I'm going to be lame and not name any blogs. I will say I love all the great blogs I've been reading lately, and if you are leaving comments, that means you! I will always try my upmost best to come to your blog if you visit mine. It might take me a day or two, but I will be by!

I've got some good stuff planned for this week - another Christmas gift idea, some great submissions for Tuesday at the Table, and the eyes & lips portion of the makeup post on Wednesday. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight! It's here!

Did you see it? What did you think? Leave your reviews and thoughts in the comments!
**Sorry for the lack of the promised Makeup, Part 3 post. I've had a vicious headache all day. These posts take several hours to put together because of the searching for links and pictures that I have to do, and I just didn't have the energy. I'll try to get something up by the end of the weekend, so keep checking back. My apologies!**

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Makeup, Part 2: Face Color

Wow, I'm so excited about the great response I got to yesterday's post! I don't consider myself a professional by any means, of course. I just love all things makeup: playing with different looks, reviewing products, reading up on application techniques... I'd love to have a part-time job as a Makeup Artist, but for now I'm enjoying my hobby. Today we're chatting about face color: foundation, bronzer, shimmer, and blush colors. Let's get started!

First of all, you need to decide what kind of foundation you prefer. Do you like mineral makeup? Do you like liquid foundation? Do you want a cream or powder? What kind of finish do you want: matte (meaning you don't want any shine at all) or dewy (a little glow)? Do you need light or heavy coverage? Are you prone to breakouts?

Me in BE Fairly Light mineral makeup

I wear Bare Escentual's mineral makeup. I have a lot of redness in my skin, and I love the finish it gives me: full coverage for the redness yet it doesn't look like a mask. I've tried a lot of different kinds of mineral makeup, and BE works the best for me. The Bare Escentuals Starter Kit is $60 and is worth every penny. It comes with three brushes (I'm in love with the BE concealer brush), two shades of foundation, a setting powder, a bronzer, skin rev-er upper, and a how-to DVD. The foundation lasts me forever - I'm still working on a jar I purchased in April, and I think I can get another month of use out of it.

I also highly recommended Everyday Minerals. The best thing about EDM is their FREE sample kit. You get three foundation samples and two other samples of your choice, either finishing powder, bronzer, concealer, or blush. All you pay is shipping and handling - how cool is that?

Me in EDM

Many, many companies are now offering mineral makeup: Clinique, MAC, Laura Mercier, Ulta, Sephora, and pretty much all the drugstore brands, such as Loreal, Milani, Maybelline, Wet N' Wild, and Jane. Sonia Kashuk also has a line of mineral makeup out now at Target. I haven't tried all these brands, but I've heard good things about Loreal's Bare Naturale line. It is supposedly very similar to BE, but I can't vouch for that personally.

Of course, mineral makeup isn't your only option. Let's talk liquid foundations! Again, it depends on the finish you desire. Check out the picture below, and notice the differences from the two pictures above. This foundation gave me a very opaque, matte coverage. I'm wearing Estee Lauder DoubleWear foundation.

Tinted moisturizer is a great option for those with reasonably clear skin. It adds just a hint of color and coverage. The next step would be a medium coverage foundation, which provides a heavier coverage but is still sheer. If you have acne, redness, or lots of breakouts, you may need a full coverage foundation. If you are interested in a liquid foundation, go to the makeup counter of your choice and tell them what you are looking for. They will get you matched up with the right color and coverage, something I unfortunately cannot do online. Here are a few brands/types of liquid foundation that I recommend:

Whatever liquid foundation you choose, make sure you finish it off with a dusting of powder to set it. Many, many people have told me that MAC's Blot Powder is the bomb diggity. If that many people like it, it must be true, right?

Of course, there are even more foundation options! Don't forget the cream foundations and powder foundations. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Clinique City Base Compact Foundation, SPF 15: I used this throughout college, and man, it is the easiest thing in the world to use! You can build up the coverage you desire, from sheer to full, just by the layers to apply. I highly recommend!
  • MAC Studio Fix: This is a rarity - a full coverage powder foundation. I loved the ease of this foundation. It goes in less than a minute, and you have a perfect face.

After you've applied your foundation, you need to begin applying color to your face. I'm a huge fan of bronzer - it is an easy way to add just a little color to your face. Bronzer doesn't have to be about making yourself tan (or more tan). My favorite bronzer is BE Warmth. I'm also a fan of Wet N' Wild bronzers. Other recommendations: MAC Bronzing Powder, Physicians Formula Multi-Colored Powder, Too Faced Carribean in a Compact, and Sugar Tropic Tan Blush & Bronzer Duo.

The next step is blush. The color blush you choose depends on the look you are going for, and since that is another post, I'm not going to recommend specific colors. EDM has gorgeous blushes, and Pure Luxe allows you to order samples of their products. Less expensive options (drugstore) include Milani, NYX, and Revlon. I've heard great things about Carmindy's new line with Sally Hansen (sold at CVS), and Sonia Kashuk is always a winner. I love MAC's blushes, which are in the picture below.

The final step before moving on to eyes and lips is shimmer. I've had a few people ask me how I get the "glow" on my cheeks that you see in the picture below. It's shimmer powder, and I wear it every day. The shimmer in the picture below is BE's Clear Radiance. In the first picture (at the top of this post) I'm wearing Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick in beige. Wet N' Wild also has some great luminizing powders that are a cheaper option.

Liquid luminizers are great for gals that wear liquid foundation. Benefit High Beam is hands down the best liquid shimmer on the market. Rimmel, which can be found at Walmart, also has a liquid luminizer in their product line. For an all over dewy look, simply pour a little foundation and luminizer on your hand, mix the two together, and apply as you would your regular foundation.

Whew, gals, I'm tired! Check back in tomorrow for eyes and lips, and next week we'll cover how to achieve some specific looks. If you have a celebrity look you want to recreate, let me know and I'll see what I can come up with. As always, if you have any other questions, email me!

Update: Please excuse the gratuitous pictures of me. It is the easiest way to get my point across. I promise I'm not digging for compliments!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Makeup makes my heart beat faster

So my friend Becca at Lovely Yellow Ribbons recently posted about her feelings of frumpiness since becoming a new mom (whatever, she's beautiful!) and her desire to amp up her look. Being that I am obsessed with all things makeup, I thought I could give her a virtual makeover and suggest some products and looks she might enjoy.

I asked Becca what her routine is right now, which she explained is pretty minimal. Minimal is good! I can work with minimal. I also asked her to pick a celebrity whose look she admires, and she came up with Whitney Port from The Hills. Becca said she likes Whitney's dewey (glowy) look, which is easy to achieve.

First up: you need some tools to apply your makeup. Makeup brushes are essential for getting the look you desire. Please do me a favor and toss the brushes that come with your makeup - the five inch blush brushes and the foam eyeshadow applicators. At the very least, lie to me and don't tell me you use these brushes. ;)

The must have makeup brushes are a kabuki brush (needed for mineral makeup), a great sponge (for liquid foundation), a concealer brush, a blush brush, and an eyeshadow brush. Here is a great starter set from Sephora for $44 that contains all the brushes you need, minus the kabuki (and/or foundation sponge.

I have a large collection of makeup brushes that I've been collecting over the past few years, and the majority of my brushes are MAC. MAC brushes are pricey but they are very high quality and will last for many years. This time of the year is a great time to stock up on brushes from MAC because they have out their holiday brush set. Beware if you are buying these: they are not the same quality hair as their regular brush line. They are a great to start if you are just beginning a brush collection, however. Below are the face brush set, but they also have a set with eye brushes.

MAC Adoring Carmine: 4 Face Brushes ($35.00)

Are these brushes out of your price range? No worries! There are less expensive options available at Target and CVS. I highly recommend CVS Essence of Beauty brushes (love the dome eyeshadow brush). Sonia Kashuk brushes at Target are also a great, less expensive option. And how pretty is this pink brush set, which is only $16.99?

For you gals that wear liquid foundation, I've got a little beauty secret for you: the Beauty Blender Sponge. This is the BEST THING EVER for liquid foundation. It is extremely easy to use - simply wet the sponge, squeeze out the excess water, dab the sponge into your foundation, and go to town bouncing the sponge all over your face. The finish is amazing - glowing, perfect, Heidi Klum skin sans makeup. IT IS THAT GOOD. The best part is that Sonia Kashuk (Target) has a less expensive knockoff version available at Target.

Remember, your makeup brushes are an investment and will last for years if you take care of them. (Mom, I'm talking to you!) Please wash your makeup brushes on a regular basis. Don't you wash your washcloths and kitchen sponges? Wash your brushes! I just use whatever Bath & Body Works soap I have in my bathroom. I wet my brush, pour some soap in my palm, swish the brush, and rinse under water until it is clean. Dry overnight on a hand towel and they will be fresh and ready to use in the morning.

I had planned to cover the whole makeover in one post, but whew, this is a long one! Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, where we'll discuss foundation and blush choices. Got a makeup question of your own? Email me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesdays at the Table

I'm almost embarrassed to share these recipes with you, since both main dish recipes are an invitation for cellulite to come to town. In case you haven't caught on, I'm not known for my healthy recipes. You've been warned!

The first recipe is for Tuna Noodle Casserole, and it is super cheap and super easy. You can make this meal, which feeds 4, for less than $5.

1 package of macaroni and cheese
2 cans of tuna fish
Cheddar cheese
1 can cream of whatever soup
1 small package frozen vegetable of your choice

Make the macaroni according to the package directions (adding the butter, milk, and cheddar powder). For the frozen veggies, I recommend a pea/carrot mix, peas, or broccoli. If you go with the broccoli, you'll need to cook it for a few minutes - just plop it in with the macaroni while it is boiling. If you go with the peas and/or carrots, you don't have to precook those. They will warm in the oven.

Once your macaroni and cheese is ready, add the tuna fish, cream of whatever soup, a huge handful of shredded cheese (make it as cheesy as you like), and the veggies. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk and stir to combine. Top with more cheese, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

I was also attempting to organize my picture files, which were a mess, and found a picture of the previously posted spicy shrimp and garlic bread. If you like shrimp and butter, definitely try this one out!

The last recipe is Sugar Plum's Wild Blueberry and Cream Tart. Yum! I used plain old blueberries and it turned out great.

Happy Tuesday! Have a great day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas: Week 2

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? The husband and I did not do much. He's completely immersed in some new version of his computer game, and I was completely immersed (obsessed) with finishing Breaking Dawn for the second time. I've read three books this weekend - that's a record, even for me.

So I promised you some more Christmas gift ideas, and I'm here to deliver! I want to share with you a homemade chai tea mix recipe. My friend Sam from Boat Drinks and Dreams was kind enough to send me some wonderful Southern Living recipes, which is where I got this gem. I love me some Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes, so I figured I couldn't go wrong with a chai tea mix.

I had all the ingredients on hand except for the instant tea, powdered cream, and cardamon. Please take note that the recipe says that they cardamon is optional. I did not notice this and had a heart attack when the spice rang up as $11.00 at Walmart. I actually made the woman price check it because I was sure that was a mistake... nope, it was correct.

What can I say... I'm cheap.

2.5 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon cardamon *optional*
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1.5 cups unsweetened instant tea
2 cups sugar
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup powdered creamer (plain)
1 cup powdered french vanilla creamer

Add all of the spices and the tea to a blender or food processor and blend for one minute, or until the mixture is a fine powder. Pour into your mixing bowl. Add the sugar to the blender and blend for 30 seconds, or until powdery. Add to your mixing bowl. Mix the above with the remaining ingredients until well blended.

To serve, add 2 heaping tablespoons to a mug of hot water or milk. Delicious!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A mish-mash post

Welcome to today's edition of Things That Make Andrea Really Cranky. I'm in a very bad mood and I'm not really sure why. I had a reasonably pleasant day at work. I got some of my beloved Starbucks today, and I even did a little shopping in Target. So why the long face? Well, it is just one of those days - you know the ones, where you are mad and you can't really say why? Yep, one of those days. Here's what is grating on my nerves:
  1. Please explain to me why there are people in this world who pee on the toliet seat and don't clean up after themselves. There is nothing worse than barging into 5 bathroom stalls, and all of them in various stages of EWW, Puke, and My Butt's Not Touching That! Listen, ladies, I respect that you want to pop a squat so that your heinie doesn't touch the seat. But if you sprinkle while you tinkle, be sweet and wipe the seat.
  2. Why do fast food places have to give you your food in ten different bags? Wendy's - listen up: you can put my salad and burger in the same bag. And while we're talking, Dave Thomas, since when does a side salad have 10 pieces of lettuce? Is the economy that bad?
  3. Dear co-worker: please do not spray half the can of lysol in the common areas of work. My lungs cannot take it. It literally makes me sick. Some people have asthma, thankyouverymuch.
  4. Dear husband: when you say you are going to "clean the kitchen" after dinner, please do more than scrape off the plates and place them in the sink. That is not cleaning. You still need to do the dishes.
  5. I really cannot stand Facebook and MySpace applications. I'm there to catch up and look at pictures, not poke people and be a mobster. Please don't be offended if I block the applications you send me. I just don't like them.
  6. Bill Gates will not send you $10 million if you forward an email to all your friends. You won't get a phone call, and your luck won't be bad for 7 years. I HATE FORWARDS.

I also wanted to share with you guys my voting story. Do you remember me telling you that this year would be my first year voting at the polls? Well, Jason and I arrived at our designated elementary school at 6:50 on Tuesday morning. The line was already winding through the school, out the side entrance, and down the covered walkway. We got into line, right behind our neighbor (a big coincidence). After waiting about 20 minutes, we heard someone come out the door and start yelling, but we couldn't make out what they were saying. Shortly after, the line split and a huge group moved up to the front entrance to line up. We followed, foolishly thinking that was what the person had been shouting about.

After about 10 minutes, a woman come out the side entrance, screaming another volunteer's name at the top of her lungs.

"TOM! TOM! Why are those people at the front entrance? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THOSE PEOPLE?! Did I say to line up there? You need to tell them they are going to have to go to the back of the line!!!!"

Needless to say, that did not go over well. Not one single person moved, and we all started to talk amongst ourselves (about 50 people total). The woman comes up to us, screaming so loudly that spit is flying out of her mouth.

"I didn't tell you to move up to this entrance! What is wrong with you? You need to learn to listen! And because you can't listen, you have to go to the end of the line! Hahah! Serves you right!"

I should stop here and tell you all something. There's just something you have to know about me: I don't tolerate people yelling at me. I just don't. It brings out the attitude in me quicker than anything else in this world. This woman just had no idea what bear she was poking with her words.

Me: "Excuse me? Ma'am? You need to lower your voice. You will not yell at me or anyone else here. We all have nothing to say to you until you learn to speak to us in a respectful manner."

Woman: "Why are you even up here? What is wrong with you? I never told you that you could come to this entrance."

Neighbor: "Well, obviously you did because 50 people just don't move for no reason."

Woman, still screaming: "Well, you were wrong and you are just going to have to go to the end of the line!"

Me: "Excuse me?! I'm not going anywhere. You need to go find someone else to talk with us because I refuse to have a conversation with someone who is screaming at me. You aren't getting anywhere with any of us by acting that way. You need to walk away and calm down."

At this point the rest of the crowd begins to chime in with a myriad of responses:

"I'm not going to the back of the line! I'm been here for an hour!"

"If we weren't supposed to come to this entrance, why did you let those 10 other people in the door? Who were they? Were they friends of yours or something?"

"You need to learn some manners! This isn't the way you treat people!"

I shut my trap at that point because I had already made my point and there was no need to continue berating this woman.

At some point we all decided that we would go and get back in line behind the people we had been behind before. Surprisingly, no one was mad about 50 odd people cutting in line. The people I got in front of actually couldn't believe a poll volunteer had acted in that manner. The woman continued to yell and scream for the reminder of the morning, calling the other volunteers idiots and berating them for not doing things her way. I actually heard her call another female volunteer "stupid" and an idiot. Professional much? I do have to say, nothing gets a crowd socializing like a villain. We all bonded together real quickly after that episode.

And my neighbor? Well, she caused the true scene of the day. I didn't notice that she hadn't followed the rest of us when we returned to line. Turns out she refused to leave the front entrance until the woman let her in the door, so she was able to cut a good 100 people in line.

Ahhh, I feel so much better now! How about you? What's getting on your nerves today?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday's Thankfuls

I wanted to say a huge thanks to those of you who entered my 100th post giveaway! The winner is Christina from Christina's Creative Expressions. I also never announced the winner of my boo giveaway, which was Mrs. De Miranda at The Road Less Traveled. Congrats ladies!

For the past week or so, I've been trying to come up with a cute, fun way to practice gratitude in my home and marriage. I was making my daily blog rounds and found the perfect idea at Shell In My Pocket. She purchased a table runner years ago, and she has her family write what they are thankful for after dinner each Thanksgiving. How perfect is that? I found an inexpensive cream linen table runner at Big Lots ($6.00, score!) and Jason and I are going to use fabric markers to write one thing we are thankful for each day. Thanks, Sandy Toes!

Speaking of things I am thankful for:
  1. Both my husband and I have jobs, and that my husband at least has job security. They just announced at work that SC is cutting $21.5 million in funding from the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, which funds my agency. Let's hope my job stays secure as well.
  2. We have a home, when so many others do not.
  3. I will be able to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year, which is something I haven't been able to do in 3 years.
  4. My husband is home every night... this is something I do not take for granted after 5 years of deployments.
  5. I'm very thankful for the new friends I've made in the blogging world. I love reading your comments and visiting your blogs.

God is very good, and I am so grateful for His blessings in my life. I know that many other people are in a very bad financial place right now, and I'm grateful for what I have.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My first blog award!

I received my first blog award! You have no idea how excited this makes me. Deep down I'm still just a pathetic little girl, starving for validation. Said in my best Sally Fields voice --> "You like me; you really like me!"

I received this award from Mrs. De Miranda at The Road Less Traveled, and I have to say, right back at you, girl! I love her blog. She's so upbeat and positive, even through some really hard times in her life. You know how you can just see God in some people? Well, I "read" God through her posts.

So now I'm supposed to list 6 things about myself, and pass this along to six other bloggers.

**Disclaimer: you may be seeing some of these 6 things on my 100 Things About Me blog. Which, by the way, isn't going so well. I think I'm on number 20 and I've been working on this for 4 days now. I continue to maintain that I am not that interesting.**
  1. I love Starbucks. When I lived in WA, I was there literally every day. I had to incorporate Starbucks into our monthly budget. I am suffering serious withdrawals since moving to SC, where the closest Starbucks is 20 minutes away.
  2. My New Kid of choice was Joey McIntyre. I had the t-shirt and everything.
  3. I have own every episode of Sex & the City and Friends, and yes, I've watched all of them. Multiple times. My favorite Friends episode is the one with Ross's couch - "Pivot!"
  4. I am counting down the days until the Twilight movie. Yes, I realize this makes me a teenage girl. If I could find someone to go to the midnight showing with me, I would seriously rearrange my work schedule so that I could go. So far there are no takers, though.
  5. I used to love Rachel Ray, but then she was just everywhere, you know? Now I strongly dislike her. I used to find "EVOO" endearing, and now it kind of grates on my nerves. There is such a thing as too much, Mrs. Yumm-o.
  6. I am still not completely unpacked from my move (I moved in this house at the end of January). Shhhh. Don't tell my mom.

Now, onto the recipients! I'm trying to just pass this on to people that have not yet received it. If I am wrong, lucky you - you get it more than once!

  1. Sam over at Boat Drinks and Dreams is one of the reasons I'm blogging today. She was one of the first blogs I ever read, and her creativity always inspires me.
  2. Hope at The Edge never fails to make me laugh. She's a true southern girl, and she'll tell you like it is.
  3. Becca at Lovely Yellow Ribbons makes me insanely jealous with her phenomenal creative talents. And she has great fashion sense to boot!
  4. The Joys of Home is another wonderful DIY home decorating blog. I've also gotten many project inspirations from this blog!
  5. I just recently stumbled upon Domestic Fashionista, but so far I'm loving everything she's posting. All her decor is very vintage chic. Love it!
  6. Shell in your Pocket has a great, well-rounded blog: pictures, recipes, home decor, crafts, mom stories, and more. I love the name, and the layout is so soothing!

There are quite a few other blogs I visit on a daily basis that deserve this award, but they have already received it. In case you don't already visit these blogs, please check them out - you won't be disappointed!

Buzzings of a Queen Bee

Bless Our Nest

Just a Girl

Thrifty Decor Chick

What's Shakin'?

These are just a very small sample of the blogs I visit and love. Updating my links list has been added to the to-do list, so keep an eye out on the right for other blogs I love and recommend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday at the Table

Happy Tuesday and Happy Veteran's Day!

Today I'm sharing three recipes with you. The first is a recipe for beef stew and it is a Paula Deen recipe that I tweaked a little.

Beef Stew
2 pounds stew beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups water
Worcestershire sauce (several shakes, about 2 tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, peeled (don't chop - the clove should be whole)
2 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon celery salt
A dash of ground allspice

3 large carrots, chopped
4 red potatoes, quartered
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 cans of diced tomatoes

2 cans of water (use the tomato cans)

Add vegetable oil to large pan or dutch oven. Brown the stew beef over high heat. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, celery salt, and allspice. Simmer for 1.5 hours. After 1.5 hours, remove the bay leaves and garlic cloves. Add carrots, potatoes, celery, tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to medium low and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

This results in a soupy beef stew. Paula's recipe does not call for tomatoes, but we love them, so I added them in. If you wanted a thicker stew, omit the two cans of water and add a little cornstarch to thicken.

I paired this with Southwestern Cornbread:
One package Martha White Mexican-style cornbread mix
1 beaten egg
1/3 cup milk
1 (8.5 ounce) can of cream-style corn
1 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 8-inch round pan. Add all ingredients and mix to combine. Bake 20-25 minutes.

The last isn't really a recipe... more of a short-cut. I made brownies using a box mix, and then topped with chopped Andie's mints right when it came out of the oven. The mints melted into a wonderful frosting. Delish!

I wanted to leave you with a few quotes:

"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!" - Maya Angelou

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." - Cynthia Ozick

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

"I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?" - Eve Merriam

Monday, November 10, 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas: Bath Salts and Scrubs

Please forgive my late posting today. I wish I had a good excuse for why I am posting Monday's post at almost 10:00 p.m., but I don't. I spent a relaxing, lovely weekend doing nothing more than reading, watching television, and catching up on some blogs. It was blissful!

Today I'm joining in on Just a Girl's "I Can Make That!" party. Check back here every Monday, when I'll post a new simple, inexpensive Christmas craft or gift. Today I'll be showing you how to make bath salts and scrubs - two of the easiest, cheapest DIY gifts around.

Let's start off with the bath salts! This recipe is for a vanilla milk bath. You'll need a container, Epsom salt, sea salt, powdered milk, baking soda, and fragrance. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to skip the fragrance. Be sure you are using scented essential oil and not home fragrance oil. You can find essential oils at most health food stores, and Michael's and other craft stores also sell fragrance for bath salts and soaps.

Vanilla Milk Bath
1 cup sea salt
1 cup baking soda
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup Epsom salt
Essential oil or fragrance

Mix the above together until combined. Pour into your desired container, and ensure that container is tightly sealed. Use 1/8 to 1/4 cup per bath.

If you prefer a more traditional bath salt, simply omit the powdered milk and baking soda, and add the fragrance of your choice. This really could not be easier!

Isn't the Christmas tree container cute? I figured the lucky recipient can fill it with candy when they use up their bath salts. All I need to do now is tie on a cute bow and add a tag with some directions.

Moving on - let's make some bath scrub! I love using bath scrub in the shower. The combination of oil and scrub leaves you soft and moisturized, and does wonders pre-shaving as well. However, the Bath & Body Works scrubs are so expensive! It is much easier and cheaper to make your own.

All you need is a container, oil, honey, vitamin E, and brown sugar. I used jojoba oil because I had some on hand, but you can really use whatever oil you have handy: grapeseed, sweet almond, jojoba, even olive oil! I would recommended sticking with a cosmetic grade oil, such as jojoba or sweet almond oil. Olive oil is acceptable, but definitely don't try this with vegetable or canola oil. The vitamin E and honey are optional and simply add a little more moisturizing power to your scrub. You can also switch out your scrub ingredient: brown sugar, white sugar, salt, etc.

Bath Scrub
1 1/4 cups oil
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vitamin E
2 tablespoons honey

Mix together oil, vitamin E, and honey until well combined. Add sugar and stir until well moistened. Store in a container with a tight fitting lid.

I apologize for the horrible picture. The scrub is actually much lighter, but my camera was not cooperating.

**Disclaimer: This scrub will make your tub slippery. Please use caution when using this, and be sure to wipe down your tub after you use the scrub to avoid possible injury.

If you wanted a little bit more of a substantial gift, simply combine the salts and scrubs with a bath poof, lotion, shower gel, and a magazine. Then you have an instant bath relaxation basket!

See you next Monday!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

100th post & a giveaway!

Today is my 100th post! Wow, time flies when you are blogging, huh? I want to give a huge thanks to my readers, those who have been around since the beginning and those who are relatively new to my blog. I wouldn't blog if I felt like no one was reading, so I want to give an special thanks to those who leave me comments. Comments are to bloggers what laughter is to a comedian, I think. Comments give us validation, a feeling we are blogging for a reason, and it inspires us to continue posting. So a huge thank to those of you who take 2 seconds to respond to my posts, no matter how brief the response!

In celebration of today, I am hosting a giveaway! I scoured the after-Halloween sales racks for a little goodie to share, and here's what I came up with. You will receive a spiderweb table runner, three miniature witch candles, and two sparkly (Martha-inspired) pumpkins.

To enter, please tell me what you feel is the best Halloween costume that either you or someone else has ever worn. I'll draw a winner on Wednesday, November 12th.

Stay tuned for a post this weekend. I had planned to do a "100 Things About Me" post for my 100th, but this week has been insane at work and I just haven't had time. Plus, I'm not sure if I'm that interesting. :)

My Twilight obsession

Man, I never saw that coming.

Is it possible to have a crush on a fictional character? It is possible to be obsessed with a book series? Because if it is, I am.

Twilight was released in 2006 and I just read the first book three weeks ago. Where have I been?! I remember seeing the books on display at Barnes and Noble, but I never thought to pick one up. Then, about two months ago, I saw the Twilight trailer at the movie theatre, and I suddenly wanted to know what the hype was about. I picked up the book at Walmart one night and it sat on my bookshelf until a few weeks ago, when I literally had nothing else to read.

I read the book in one day. I literally could not put it down. I didn't want to go to sleep, because I had to know what was going to happen. The next day, I ran out to Walmart and bought the other three books. I finished the series by the end of the week, and this was on top of working and preparing for a family visit. I sacrificed a lot of sleep that week, let me tell you. And it was well worth it!

Have you checked out Stephanie Myers' website for the partial draft of Midnight Sun? If you haven't read it, you must. I love Edward even more, having read Twilight from his perspective.

I know there is a lot of hype out there because long-time Twilight fans are not pleased about the casting of the movie. Believe me, I understand. While I didn't object to the casting of Harry Potter, there are many things I cannot stand about the movies, and this is because I had read the books and came up with my own version of the story prior to the movie's release. It is hard to adapt to someone else's view when you have already created your own. And so I get that some are not happy about the actor who plays Edward, but I think he is absolutely swoon worthy (which is due, in part, to the fact that I saw the trailer before I read the books, and also partly because he was a total cutie as Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies).


Perfect casting, in my opinion. Edward looks handsome, tortured, and very vampire-like. Love the brooding, "I'm hungry for your blood" look on his face. Although what is up with Jasper's hair? And what exactly is Alice looking at?

An aside: has anyone noticed that a great many of the actors were on on The OC? James, Rosalie, and Victoria were all on The OC.

I am not so excited about this issue of EW. Edward does not look gorgeous, although Bella does. This is more Interview with a Vampire than Twilight, me thinks.

Another aside: I read an interview in which Robert Pattison (Edward) states that he was supposed to muscle up to play Edward, but he was just too lazy, so they put him in lots of long sleeve shirts and sweaters. That stuck me a hilarious, for some reason.

Here's some other publicity pictures I found. This picture... well, it disturbs me. What is she wearing? And where is her hand?! I feel dirty looking at this picture.

And this picture: looking good, but for pete's sake, cover up the chest hair. No one needs to see that.

That's all I've got for tonight. Hopefully you non-Twilight fans found some amusement in this post, and will return for some non-Twilight blogginess and a giveaway tomorrow. Tomorrow is my 100th post! Stay tuned.

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