Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A New Show to Check Out


If you happen to have HBO, I've got a new show for you to check out. It's called The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. Based on the series of books by Alexander McCall Smith, this program premiered last Sunday evening and we were lucky enough to catch it. It is kind of a Miss Marple style mystery , only with the unusual setting of Gaborone, Botswana. The lead actress Jill Scott, is completely engaging and she's surrounded with a cast of quirky regulars. Although there's not a lot of suspense here and there are moments of predictability, this program is completely charming and entertaining. If you get a chance, tune in on Sunday's at 8:00pmET. I'm sure you can watch them on On-Demand as well.

Monday, March 30, 2009

One of Our Favorite Green Bean Recipes

I mentioned in a post last week about our efforts to add more vegetables into our diet. Being of limited imagination and wanting to expand beyond adding a can of mushroom soup to green beans, we found the following recipe. I'd love to be one of those people that can make this stuff up as they go along...but that's not me. I love and rely upon great cookbooks So here's a veggie recipe we love.


Green Beans with Orange Essence and Toasted Maple Pecans
Source: The New Best Recipes Cookbook from the Editors of Cooks Illustrated
(Italicized comments are my modifications)
Ingredients:
· ¾ cup pecans, chopped
· 3 tablespoons butter
· 2 tablespoons maple syrup
· 1/8 teaspoon salt
· 2 medium shallots, minced (I use 1 shallot)
· ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
· 1/3 cup juice from 1 large orange (I use one orange, it may not be 1/3 cup, but that’s OK)
· Pinch of cayenne pepper
· 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
· 1 ½ pounds green beans, ends trimmed
· 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
· 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves (I’ll use ½ teaspoons dried, if that’s all I have)
· Ground black pepper

1. Toast the pecans in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. (Careful not to burn them.) Reduce stove to medium and off heat, stir in 1 tablespoon butter, maple syrup and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Return skillet to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until nuts are dry and glossy, about 45 seconds; transfer to plate.
2. Wipe out the skillet. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet over medium heat; until foaming subsides, add the shallots, orange zest, cayenne pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour until combined, and then toss in the green beans. Add the chicken broth, orange juice and sage. Stir well. Increase heat to medium-high, cover and cook until the beans are partly tender but still crisp at the center, about 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes. Off heat, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with pecans
(I don’t use all the pecans in this recipe. That’s a lot of pecans, but I do make the full ¾ cup because I love having extras around. I put the extra in a small storage dish, seal and store in the refrigerator. I then sprinkle them on the next salad I make. Delish!)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday Night Fun


What fun that was last night! Went up to B-dubs (Buffalo Wild Wings) with Caity and her husband "Doc Holiday" last night to watch the Michigan State vs Kansas basketball game. Of the four games on last night, it was the only exciting one as the other three were blow-outs. MSU was just a little behind most of the game and they really turned it on at the end to win. All my MSU grads are so happy!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

American Idol Update #3

Well, we weren't terribly surprised that Michael went home last night. Seems like a very nice guy and his back story about working as an oil rigger was intriguing, but his voice just never made the leap to anything other then "good".
We were shocked to have Matt in the bottom 3 though. Arghh! How did that happen?
You may wonder why I care so much, well we participate in an American Idol Fantasy League at http://www.fafarazzi.com/. It's kind of like fantasy football or baseball. You pick your teams and get points based on how they perform. For American Idol, you pick 3 of the cast members and then you get points when they do good and negative points when they don't. Ending up in the bottom 3 is not good and since I had Matt on my team, I lost 2 points. I'm now in 20th place overall. I was in 14th. It may seem silly, but it makes watching the show all that more fun.
We also do this during So You Think You Can Dance. Wait until that fun starts. Suddenly we are all 12 year old girls again!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Love My Massages!


I had my regular monthly massage last night and I loved it. It is probably one of the best gifts I've ever given myself. This got me thinking about some of the changes I've made in my life in recent years. You see, something happens around the time that you turn 50. Your body starts sending little signals that make you unequivocally aware that your body is a machine built around planned obsolescence. At first you are in complete denial, but eventually you come around to the idea that you've got to make some lifestyle changes to keep the wolves at bay. So here is a list of my lifestyle changes:
  1. Gave up Coke during the week - This is perhaps, my biggest challenge. You see, I love me some Coka-Cola, but at this time in my life all it adds is extra pounds. I don't always make it all the way through the week, but I keep trying. I do get to have it on week-ends, especially if we go to the movies.
  2. Monthly Massage - This actually started several years ago when I kept having stiff necks and pain between my shoulder blades. I carry all my stress...right there, right at the base of my neck. Every month Kathryn kneeds away the knots and sets me off on my cheerful way. Best part of this is that I got my mom started on these as well. She now comes up monthly for her little bit of heaven and then we get to have lunch together. How cool is that!
  3. An Apple or Orange a day - I'm not a big fruit eater. Never have been, but I know how important it is for my body. So, I bring an apple or orange to work with me every day. Around 3ish, when the mid-day doldrums hit, I slice up my fruit and munch away.
  4. Eat more vegetables - To do this, I am trying to make two vegetables for dinner and if I'm still hungry I have seconds of vegetables. It's not a big change...but at least it's something. To help keep it interesting, the girls and I have started to explore more vegetable recipes. We've got some great green bean and broccoli recipes and grilled asparagus is delicious. (I'll post my current favorite green bean recipe next week.)
  5. Exercise more - OK...this is really the most challenging change in my life, especially during the long months of winter. To help, I've found that I enjoy exercise more if it is actually sport based. The girls and I took tennis lessons last summer and had a great time pretending to play after that. I'm also a golf nut and play weekly on a walking course. Add in one day at the gym and one long walk on Sunday....and I've just exercised four days during the week. See how much easier that is then 4 days at the gym.
  6. Water..water..water - I drink more water then every before. I carry a bottle around with me at work and keep a bottle next to my bed. The more water I drink, the more I want. All around a good thing.
  7. Weigh myself every day - I went out and bought myself a scale and I weigh myself every morning. Long gone are the days when my mom made me an after school milkshake in order to try and put weight on my skinny little body. So, now I monitor my weight. It helps me to keep my food proportions managed. I'm not obsessed, just aware.
That's it. Those are the little things I've done to help me stay healthy, but I have to admit, I sure miss those milkshakes!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Magazines We Love To Read

We have a few magazines that we love to read...or at least look at the pictures. Here they are and why:


1. The Week - Subtitled "All you need to know about everything that matters" is the best possible description for this magazine. Mom turned us on to this magazine. It does a remarkable job of digesting all the news in the US and the world and then feeds it back in short capsules. A must for anyone who wants to turn over a new leaf and start becoming more informed about current events. It also does a great job giving both sides to the big stories to help you make up your own mind.

2. People - The antithesis of The Week. I don't need to explain this one. I'm not sure anyone reads the articles, it's all about the pictures.

3. Cooks Illustrated - This isn't like any other magazine. There are no glitzy advertisements here. This is just all about cooking presented in a whole new way. It's published 6 times a year and it's full recipes, how tos and information you won't find anywhere else. Many of the Cook's recipes have become family mainstays.

4. Real Simple - This is a very thick magazine filled with so much information, it's almost overwhelming. The goal is to pick up at least one simplifying technique out of each issue to help make life just a little easier. It might be finding a new use for empty paper towel roll or how to re-organize your closet. There is also a section where readers submit answers to a monthly question that is always enlightening.

5. Smithsonian - If you are a history or nature junkie, this magazine is perfect. Keep up to date on happenings at the Smithsonian as well as beautiful photography and an article or two on our founding fathers. Just love it.

6. Oprah - I always learn something when I read an issue of Oprah. I think I found my next hair style in the last issue I read.

7. Reader's Digest - Got a gift subscription one year and found it perfect little read. Stinky (my youngest) likes it for the bathroom reading. (Ironic, eh!) Just being honest.

We'd love to hear about your favorite magazines if they aren't on our list.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Love Making Cards

by Linda:

One of my side activities is making my own greeting cards. I started rather casually back in February 2005 when I made Valentine's Day cards for the kids. This evolved into Caity and I making all the invitations for Krissy's shower and wedding and then again for her wedding. All along, I was still making cards for birthdays, anniversaries etc. It has become kind of an obsession for me. I go into Joann's for one thing and $60 later I leave with all this new cool stuff.

Poking around the Internet one day I came across a website called www.cardpositioningsystems.blogspot.com This websites posts card ideas for weekly competitions. You would be amazed how many card makers there are out there and some of their designs are wonderful. From this website, I get some new ideas for my cards. It really helps when the creative juices aren't flowing and you have 8 cards to make. Above is their design for this week.


I've yet to submit one of my card designs, but I might give it try this week. This is an Anniversary card I made for friends of my mom.

I've got to work a bit on my photography. Maybe I need to get Caity over here as she is the photographer in the family. (As noted by her beautiful bird photo from Friday's post.)


(Just updated the image by scanning it in versus using a photo. I think that works a little better.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Springs the Thing


In honor of the first day of Spring we wanted to list the 10 things we love about this time of year. The first signs of Spring are a really big deal up here in the great freezing north (Michigan). After months of cold, gray, depressing weather, Spring brings so much hope into our lives. The economy isn't even as depressing. If you happen to get laid-off now, your mind says "well, at least I'll have the summer off." (BTW - Having the summer off, is a secret dream of all workers everywhere.)

Here's our list of the top 10 things we love about this time of year:


  1. Hope renewed

  2. The robins are back

  3. March Madness - (Warning Krissy is a huge sports fan and she has gotten all of us into Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Football and Tournament pick'em...so don't be surprised by the sports references from us 3 chicks.)

  4. Grilling - At the first break in the weather, we are out grilling! I love the smell of lighter fuel and charcoal burning. Mmmmm.

  5. Spring Training - Just the words trigger thoughts of Summer

  6. Tulips

  7. Flip Flops (No Boots!!!)

  8. Pale Northerns in shorts - Here's another thing we do. At the first break in temperature, we put on our shorts despite our shockingly pale legs. It only needs to be in the 50's and we'll have shorts on. My, my, we are hardy stock.

  9. Walking the dog - The ice is gone from the sidewalks and it's finally safe to take our dogs for a long walk.

  10. Planning the garden - I'm into herbs and vegetables. What about you?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

American Idol Review #2

Well, Caity and I are both surprised that Alexis got voted off. We thought it would be Michael. We also realized that the guys out number the girls 7 to 3 right now. Odds that this year's winner will be a guy are pretty high.

Bye bye Alexis!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

American Idol Review #1

If you aren't an Idol fan, skip this post.

So glad Anoop brought it this week. I like him a lot, but the last two weeks he just hasn't sang up to his potential, but last night was great. Still like Danny (despite the Polar jacket) and Allison. Matt did real well too. So that basically leaves us with Adam....what's up with that???

Can't wait to get Cait's input once she gets a chance to watch it on tape. (Tap class keeps her from watching live.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 10 Classic Movies I Love

Let's be honest, Krissy and Cait aren't all that into "classic" movies. They're more into movies from the 80's and on, hence the reference to Super Troupers on the left. Therefore, this list, is just my list of the Classic Movies that I love. My criteria doesn't necessary follow traditional film historian guidelines. My test has more to do with my desire to watch these movies over and over again. If I see them listed in the cable guide, do I automatically turn them on to watch.

I do need to point out that I am excluding musicals from this list. That genre deserves it's own list and this time the girls opinions will be included, as we love us some musicals.

So, here's my classic favs:

  1. Casablanca - Do I even need to explain this? Bogie and Bergman in a love story the defies comparison. Also amazing, as the script was being written day by day during filming. Which only helped create the "will she stay or will she go" tension in the final scenes.
  2. Now, Voyager - Bette Davis in an ugly duckling to swan story (once she escapes the claws of her tyrannical mother). The cigarette scene with Paul Henried was sizzling hot for the time.
  3. The Searchers - John Ford, John Wayne and the West as it should be shot.
  4. Gone with the Wind - A saga for the ages.
  5. Laura - My introduction to "film noir". Darkly shot, sinister and the stunningly beautiful Gene Tierney.
  6. The Maltese Falcon - Bogie in his greatest detective role.
  7. Roman Holiday - Gregory Peck at his most gorgeous.
  8. The Adventures of Robin Hood - Errol ain't that bad either.
  9. In Harms Way - Great war movie with a heart. Plus it's the Duke again.
  10. To Have and Have Not - Bogie and Bacall falling in love...for real. Just the best.
If you haven't seen these, check them out for an afternoon of fun. Feel free to let me know if I missed one of your favs. We'd love to hear from you.

Linda

Day One

Welcome to our brand new blog. Our purpose is to share all of our favorite things. Books, movies, TV, recipes, wines, make-up, cleaning products and anything else we can think of to share. I'm also sure there will be a picture or two of some very cute little boys.