Friday, October 30, 2009

Butternut Squash

How fitting that my 100th post is on Butternut Squash. Before last year, I had never even tried Butternut squash, but it has quickly become one of my favorite things every... My parents and my second parents (Richie's folks) BOTH planted me some in their gardens. I haven't gotten a lot out of them yet--I think they are hoarding it because they, too, know how wonderful the stuff is.

If you haven't tried Butternut Squash, you should. My personal favorite is:
But, here are some others I found recently that are definitely worth a try... if you have any suggestions on which one of these I should try... let me know :-) Thanks Martha Stewart for shedding some light on this veggie... now I'll have to try these and shed some "lite" on them!
So, which one should I try? Will you try any of these?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Arrington Vineyards


A few weekends ago we went to Arrington Vineyards with some friends... Arrington Vineyards is owned in part by Kix Brooks(of Brooks and Dunn) and is only about 10-15 mins from our house.

Having just been in Paso Robles, CA where we tasted some great--no, amazing--wines, we weren't overly impressed with the wine at Arrington, but we enjoyed hanging out with our friends and eating some food...

My friend made some sort of a baked pasta dish with whole wheat pasta and she also had some sausages from their CSA. I brought along some steamed edamame and also some celery and carrots with hummus. All-in-all I think it was a fun afternoon with little damage done on the calorie end (well, except the red wine, but that doesn't count, right?)

This was the wine we decided to buy/drink... It was a Syrah. Yeah, the four of us went through 2 bottles... that's ok, right?

Yes, we drank out of plastic cups. It felt sort of like drinking out of dixie cups, this is also ok, right?

If you're in Nashville, you might try to go to Arrington Vineyards since it is a neat experience being that it's a Vineyard stuck amongst rolling hills. They also have some great music on the weekends... I know, great music in Nashville, SHOCKING. :-)

Simply Gourmet

My friends/neighbors own a store in Nashville, TN called Simply Gourmet. It is an awesome store, and this past weekend they had their Fall Tasting where they showed off TONS of their wonderful products.The store has so many things I barely know where to start... They have cooking gadgets including great knives, decorating items(like for decorating cakes and such), and amazing dips, marinades, and other awesome things to take your dinner parties or get togethers to the next level!!!! Here are some photos I took at their fall tasting. If you live in Nashville and want to stop by, the shop is located in the Target shopping center in Brentwood at I-65 and Old Hickory!

This is Kelly and Pam (the owners) as they get ready for the tasting. You can see there was plenty out for the tasting... so you really missed a good time. (Maybe if you go in and sweet talk them, they'll have a sampling for you too)

This is their pleasingly pumpkin dip with some apples... and it's also my attempt at being a great photographer. I know, I'm the next Ansel Adams, right?

These are some of their dessert dips. There's a s'mores dip, a key lime pie dip and some others. They go GREAT with graham crackers.

One of my favorite Willow&Tree dips... Seriously, you can't go wrong with these things!

These are some really yummy thumbprint cookies that Pam made with their Mimosa Jam. So good.

English Toffee brownies. Stay away from these, they are definitely NOT good for the waist line, but they are REALLY good :-)

Simply Gourmet sells fresh coffee beans and also loose tea. You should try some.

I've forgotten which dip this is, but all of the ones that were showcased in the store's awesome dip chillers were really good... You could even take some of the dip seasoning and mix it with olive oil to use on steak, chicken, pork, or there was a dill seasoning that would be GREAT with Salmon.

This is the really yummy black bean salsa dip that Pam made.
This is just a great shot of all the brownie mixes and some specialty items the store has to offer.

These are some of the marinades, and also a brief shot of the newly installed kitchen. They'll be starting some cooking classes soon, isn't that fun!!!!!

So, there you have it, Simply Gourmet! Stop by and tell Pam and Kelly that Megan sent you... on second thought, I often make strange noises at them from my front porch so that might not be a good idea :-)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Friend Megan...

Yes, my name is Megan, and I have a friend named Megan... ironically, she sits right next to me at work--well practically. So, we have to go by initials--otherwise it gets entirely too confusing when someone screams, I mean gently speaks, our name. She is MK(left) and I am MG(right).

She's a good friend, and I'm so excited because soon she's going to have a baby... We don't know what the baby is. (And while that completely and totally stresses me out, she's totally fine with it so... whatever) :-) But, I can't wait!!! and so, I'm sharing a picture of me and MK... we can't tell you where it was taken, because that, well, it's top secret. You understand, right?

So, MK... I can't wait for you to have BK. You are going to be a wonderful mom, but I'll miss you while you're on maternity leave... do you think you can IM me from your work computer while changing a diaper? Wait, don't do that, that would be weird!!!! At least IM me while you're watching your soap opera -- if that doesn't totally interrupt your nap time...

***And yes, I know this post came out of left field... sort of... but I was getting anxious over the fact that anyone coming to my blog for the first time would see the post about rats/mice... I couldn't have that--they might never come back! Besides, I haven't cooked much lately. Well, I've cooked, just nothing new due to the ankle issues... So, because I love MK, she got a place in the blog. Be on the lookout for Cookie Monster cupcakes that I'm decorating for a friend's son's birthday later this week. There will definitely be a post about that experience!!!***

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

There's a What in My Car????

This situation that I am about to describe is one that makes me cringe... So, if you cringe easily, perhaps you don't want to read on... then again, if you are masochistic (at least in the sense of definition #2 according to dictionary.com) and get pleasure from others pain... by all means - Read On!

Let's start from the very beginning.

This is our car... well, not exactly, but almost...

On Saturday morning, while it was chilly, my hubby and I went to go to Wal-Mart, and to put gas in the above mentioned vehicle. The heater wouldn't work... it made a slight puttering sound, and seemed like it really wanted to work (like the little engine that could), but it wasn't going to work. I suffered through the cold, because secretly, I like to be cold. But, we had to wonder what was going on with said vehicle and the heater... it is only going to get colder so I made an appt at the dealership for regularly scheduled maintenance and to get the heater looked at.

Monday morning... in all the glory of 36 degrees, I drove to the dealership to drop the car off. Not wanting to give the car any reason to not present it's "heater problem" I didn't use the heater until I got to the dealership. I could see my breath as I drove, but oh well, it's all for the good of the cause... the heater must get fixed.

When I got to the dealership, I turned the heater-A/C on... it sounded like a helicopter was about to take off from inside my car. I knew that this was not a good thing. The heater problem had gotten worse... but at least the nice people in the service drive heard the issue and it wasn't just in my head. They told me they'd call later with an update.

About 6 hours later, I got the update... unfortunately, the issue with the heater was not something that was going to be covered under warranty... that is because the problem stems from "Rats getting into my car"... at least this is how the problem is described to me. I stopped listening at that point and just said "Oh My, Fix It, and please don't tell me any more details"... I was already almost standing on my chair in the office and if he continued, I'd be on top of a filing cabinet which would very likely make people in my office stop and stare.

So, there you have it... there are Rats in my car... they got into the heater box to keep warm(my father-in-law has some interesting thoughts as to why)... they ate some wiring and the dashboard has to be removed so they can figure out which wire and fix it. So we don't have the car right now--not that I want the rat infested vehicle in my driveway right about now... needless to say, my husband will most definitely get to drive it from now on (it's his car technically anyway)...

So, this is what I think we had in the car...
In all likelihood, we probably had this in the car...
But, we'll never know because I AM NOT looking...

I do, however, think I will be a cat for Halloween... that should keep the rats/mice away, right?

(This is my cat Harley, she looks ferocious, right?)

Then again... maybe not... UGH!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Baked Butternut Squash with Barley and Sage *Untested*

Saw this on the WW boards... I'm told it originally came from Tcsmommy, but I got it from Simplycomical... it sounds good, and I think I'll try it soon. I LOVE Butternut Squash... seriously... LOVE IT!

The notes on this recipe from the poster were : This is true comfort food. Not only does it warm the kitchen, but it warms the stomach as well. Barley is a high-protein whole grain and the squash is loaded with fiber. Enjoy it guilt-free!


Baked Butternut Squash with Barley and Sage

1 large rib Celery, diced
1 med Yellow Onion, diced
2 t olive oil
3-4 cups raw Butternut Squash, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes (about 1 small or the top of 1 medium)
1 cup barley (not quick-cooking)
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 T minced fresh Sage (or 1 t dried)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°. Heat saute pan, then add oil, celery and onion. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until golden and tender. Put squash cubes, barley and vegetables into a 3-quart baking dish and stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper and sage. Pour stock over all, then cover with foil (or a lid if you have one). Bake for 1 hour, stirring once or twice. Serves many.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where My Journey Began

Those of you who know me know that amongst being crazy, lovable, a wife, a daughter, a mom to a crazy dog and cat, and hopefully a loyal friend, know that I am also a Kappa Kappa Gamma. It would be an understatement to say that I have an interesting Kappa story, but it is definitely interesting. And I owe Kappa, in part, for the changes that I've recently made...

I pledged Kappa at the University of Kansas (Go Jayhawks!). I left there and went back to my home state to attend Arizona State University (Go Sundevils... though I'm not nearly as obsessed with the Sundevils as I am the Jayhawks!). While at ASU I did get involved with the Kappa chapter, but never officially affiliated--just didn't understand the process AT ALL! So, after my sophomore year and some serious soul searching, I left ASU and went to Belmont University--a small school in Nashville, TN without a Kappa chapter.(The Horror!) I finished my last 2 years at Belmont, and managed to stay involved with the Greek system by meeting other Kappas who had transferred or even by serving as a Rho Chi(Recruitment Counselor) when the Panhellenic community needed some help. I love being part of something as special as the Panhellenic Community.

So, after college, I began my moves all around the country... To California, where I was a member of the local alumnae association. Then I moved to Jacksonville--wasn't there very long and didn't have much of an opportunity to get involved with Kappa as I was planning a wedding and was told I'd likely move again in a year. In the summer of 2004 we found ourselves, newly married, and in Atlanta, GA. I got involved with the Alumnae Association and then became an Adviser for the Kappa chapter at Emory University. (Richie was in law school there so it only made sense that I would spend time at Emory as well, right!) I absolutely adored my time with the women of Kappa at Emory. They spoiled me in so many ways, and because friends and sisters through the entire process.

When we moved to Nashville, I wasn't sure how I wanted to get involved with Kappa, but I knew I had to get involved... I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend Kappa's Leadership Academy. I can't tell you enough good things about this program! It truly inspires women to be better women and better leaders. What a great program for college aged women as well as alumna members of our organization!

That program, along with a recent doctor's visit where I found out I had high cholesterol, are what inspired me to go on my weight loss journey!!! The program is based on the following principles:
  • Modeling the way
  • Inspire a Shared Vision
  • Challenging the Process
  • Enable others to Act
  • Encourage the Heart
So... MICEE(start singing the Mickey Mouse song... sort of... M-I-C-E-E... you'd probably have to be there!)

I had a wonderful group of 15 women and one leader... we were/are the blue group. This group helped me - gave me ideas to accomplish my vision, and were so encouraging to me...

So, I started this blog. I hoped in starting the blog that I would be able to "Model the way" for others on what I was doing... though not perfect all the time, I additionally hoped that my blog would "Inspire a Shared Vision". I also hoped that by holding myself accountable to this blog and other healthy options I would be "Challenging my own process" and making better decisions. I hope that my recipes and other ideas "Enable Others to Act", and I think that perhaps in reading my crazy rumblings, somehow it "Encourages the Heart"...

So, that's where it began. Thanks to the Blue Group and to Kappa Kappa Gamma for helping me achieve my goals!!! There's still a long way to go, but I'm getting there!!!

This is our group at the "Graduation Ceremony"
These are the alums in our group :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Cutest Cake Pan

I found this lovely gift on the Pioneer Woman's site. She received one as a gift, and it seems like such a great idea that I had to share it :-)

I'm strongly contemplating getting one of these... or at least purchasing them for gifts... Visit the Cake Pan Lady's website...

And yes, my Krazy Kappa friends, there's a Fleur-De-Lis design!!!! (And it comes in blue... what could be better!)


Take this beauty to potlucks, to a friends house, or just use it at home :-) It sure seems fun!

Salsa

I love me some Salsa! Seriously, the stuff is one of my favorite condiments. That and guacamole... yes, I grew up in Arizona... yes, I like/LOVE mexican food... yes, I realize my obsession may be grounds for counseling.

A dear friend of mine, Laura, has an amazing salsa recipe that she shared with me a while back. Everyone that tries it loves it... and I hope she doesn't mind that I'm sharing it for all to see :-)

In case you want to try it, here's the recipe:

Laura's Salsa
2 28oz cans whole tomatoes
1-2 fresh tomatoes
1/2 lg onion
cilantro, fresh to taste (Laura and I both use a lot, maybe 1/4 of a bunch... or more)
2 jalapenos, optional (Use them - almost all seeded, but some spice from the seeds is good)
1/2 tbs sugar
1/2 tbs salt
3/4 tbs vinegar
1 clove garlic
large bowl

Chop the onions and cilantro together first in the food processor. (if you do the tomatoes first, it's too wet for the cilantro and it'll just stick to the sides--or at least that has happened before). Put this in a separate bowl.

Drain the cans of tomatoes as well as possible, blend them. After you blend them strain them in a colander (it'll can get pretty soupy if not!). Depending on how chunky you like it you can chop the tomatoes by hand or use the processor, i usually chop them by hand for a little extra chunk. add everything else and mix together in a large bowl. enjoy!

This, by the way, is my friend Laura. She rocks... we took this picture while on an impromptu trip to Chattanooga before she and her husband Judd moved to Houston. Why they had to move so far away, I'll never know... :-(

Editing Photos


So... I mentioned my new camera. I'm super excited. I've always wanted a nice camera--because I think, somehow I was meant to be a photographer. It's not that I'm really that good or that creative, but it just seems cool!!! I love looking at photographer blogs like my friend Erin's or this great blog that I came across. People are so creative, and I long to be like that...

So, back to my camera. With some--ok, a LOT--of help from my mom, and a little help from the budget nazi's(that's me and my hubby), we bought a camera. Had to have a good one for the San Fran/Paso Robles trip!!! We got a Canon as the brand came highly recommended to us. This is the camera we got... a Canon Rebel XS. We got a great deal at Best Buy because they price match--who knew!

I found out, in a very round about way, that I have some image editing software at home on my computer. (This was a big A-HA! moment for me) So, I've been editing some of the photos. You'll have to let me know what you think! I'm going to show you the original and then the edited version... Flowers seemed to be a good subject to start with. I'll probably post some of the puppy too :-)

Original Photo:
Edited Photo:
Original Photo:
Edited Photo:
Original Photo: (of my gorgeous hubby)
Edited Photo:


Original Photo:

Edited Photo:

Original Photo (This is Dom and Terri's wedding cake):
Edited Photo:

Original Photo (of my precious puppy)... I forgot how to zoom...
Edited Photo (I was able to zoom with the editing software... YAY!):

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

San Francisco and Paso Robles - Dominic's Wedding!

Last weekend, Richie and I headed out to San Francisco and Paso Robles, CA. San Fran was the first stop... we stayed in a hotel off Fisherman's Wharf and did as much in San Fran as we could before heading south for the wedding. We walked around the Wharf, saw the Sea Lions, went to Ghiradelli Square, took a cable car, saw Lombard Street, and inadvertently saw downtown (oops!)!!! It was a great trip, and I think with the time allotted, we really got a lot in. Then we drove down the scenic route to Paso so that we could see the ocean and not just farm lands :-)


On Saturday morning we got up early and started out at about 10am at a winery. We went to Eberle, J. Lohr, EOS, Donatoni, Poalillo, Jada, and also to Croad. The wedding was at Croad so I don't know that I can really count it, but I will! The wine was incredible. Richie and I have decided we now know how to taste the difference between cheap and not so cheap wine. The budget nazi's that we are, we couldn't bring any home. It helped that the wineries can't ship to Tennessee so we used that as an excuse. Believe you me though, I would LOVE to have some of that wine!!!

It was an amazing time and I thought I would share some of my pictures from the trip... And yes, these pictures were taken with my new camera :-) YAY! They look a little blurry here, but I promise, they are really good :-)
This is the happy couple... congrats Dom and Terri! Thanks for inviting us to be part of your day!

Full Disclosure - a sprained ankle, emotions, and a broken camera

Full disclosure here ya'll... because I figure, if I lay it out there, somehow it will all be better.

It's been a rough couple of months... Emotionally I've been strained, physically I've been strained... and I even managed to break the only working camera I had (which meant no pictures of food).

I'll start at the beginning. I've had some emotions running around my head. Mostly due to me just being a girl(yes, girls get emotional), and also probably a spoiled child(though I try not to act like it). I didn't get my way with some things, and I let it get to me... I got emotional, and I ate my way through it.

To top it off, I went on a great trip through my sorority - Kappa Kappa Gamma. While there, in the wilderness, looking up at some stars while walking (I know- I know! don't try to do 2 things at once... I've learned)... I rolled right off the sidewalk and fell down a small hill and sprained my ankle. I didn't get it looked at (because I'm nuts), and come to find out I've actually got a chipped bone and a really bad sprain... So, needless to say no exercise.

Well, I've put back on a few pounds... I'm mad about it, it ticks me off, but now I'm going to do something about it.

I got lax with my plan and with myself, and I just don't have that luxury...

So, now, I'm putting it out there to "the internets" and the few people that may read this... I'm back on my plan, and I'm going strong... :-)

My plan this week:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Milk Coffee
Snack: Cottage Cheese, Almonds
Lunch: Beef and Vegetable, Olives, and Garlicky Butternut Squash
Snack: Edamame
Dinner: Lentil and Ham Soup

So, I'll be trying to post more...

And about the camera... no worries - I got a new one and will post some pictures soon.

Grace

I am currently in a bible study in my neighborhood. It's great getting to know the women that live near me in such a personal and intimate way. We are going through Beth Moore's study A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place. (Wanted to underline that since I think I'm supposed to, but blogger won't let me)

It's a very good study... challenging to get through, and truth be told, I'm behind, but it's great.

The other night I shared a song with the women in my study. It's a great song that has meant a lot to me over the years. I thought I would share it with you all.

It is by a group called Silers Bald. They aren't really around much, and I'm not sure if you can even find them on Itunes or anything, but if you can find it... listen to it... soooo good.

GRACE

My heart is so proud.
My eyes are so unfocused.
I see the things You've done through me
As great things I have done.
And now You gently break me.
I cry just like a baby.
You hold me as my Father,
And mold me as my Maker.

Chorus:
And I ask You
How many times will You pick me up.
When I keep on letting You down?
And each time I will fall short of Your glory,
How far will forgiveness aboud?
And You answer, "My child, I love you,
And as long as you're seeking My face,
You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient, grace."

At times I may grow weak.
And feel a bit discouraged.
Knowing that someone somewhere
Can do a better job.
For who am I to serve You?
I know, I don't deserve You.
But that's the part, that burns in my heart,
And keeps me hanging on.

(Chorus)

And You are so patient with me, Lord.

As I walk with You, I'm learning
About what Your grace really means.
How all of my transgressions
Were paid at Calvary.
So instead of trying to repay You,
I'm learning to simply obey You.
By giving up my life to You
For all that You've given to me.

(Chorus)