Thursday, October 16, 2008


I have made a few decorations for our apartment this Halloween season and I've taken pictures of some of them so I decided to post them for those of you interested.

This is our "Spooky" door sign.

This was a lot of fun to make. I used Halloween paper, some eyeballs from the craft store that I think were meant for a stuffed animal or something, ribbon, buttons, glittery scrapbook letters, and an unfinished wood board (I actually ended up using an unfinished wood picture frame because I couldn't find just a board anywhere that was the size or price I wanted...). Then I put the paper on with a clear drying glue and painted over the top too so it wouldn't rip or anything. It was a lot of fun and super easy and pretty inexpensive. I'm thinking I'll do some for Thanksgiving and Christmas too.

This next little project was way easy and I spent less than 5 dollars on the whole thing.

The spider web I got at Big Lots for four dollars and I tacked it up into the corner of our living room. I made the spider out of some of Kathi's old soccer socks, a few buttons, little paper fangs, and fuzzy pipe cleaners I got at a craft store for seventy cents. For his body I rolled the socks up into themselves until they made a ball. Then I hot-glued some orange and black buttons on for his eyes (I guess technically he should have 8 of them but he just looks so darn cute with only two of them...). I cut two little triangles out of some white paper and tacky glued them below his eyes for his fangs. The legs are the pipe cleaners hot glued onto the bottom of his body and then bent a little. He was so cute when he was finished that we had to give him a name. Everyone, meet Rufus. I wanted to make him crawling off the web on to the wall or soemthing, but I was having a difficult time figuring out a good way to get him up there.

I also bought a ceramic jack-o-lantern off of a clearance table at Michaels for $1.50. He looks nice with a candle lit inside of him on our coffee table. I bought a garland of some really cool looking fall leaves that we hung above our window too so our living room looks nice and halloweeny.

I'm having a lot of fun finding different things to decorate with. I especially like to use things to make something that they wouldn't normally be used for. Like Rufus made from socks (who knew?!).

If anyone has some fun ides, send them my way!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Eat, Drink, and be Merry

This past weekend was conference and so Kimberly and I decided that it would be a perfect opportunity to try out some of our fall recipes. I picked out a few I wanted to try this time, went grocery shopping, and then planned for our feast! I was so excited about kicking off our Autumn excursions and at first I thought I was being a little ambitious, but the recipes ended up not being very difficult, and the end results were pretty darn good.

On the menu was:
Wild Mushroom Dip
Vertical Pear Salads
Curry Pumpkin Soup
Spice Rubbed Chicken
and Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies.

Mmmm.... it even SOUNDS delicious!
Here are the recipes, along with pictures! I'm going off of memory here, but I'm pretty sure I got them right:

Wild Mushroom Dip
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 5 oz package of dried wild mushrooms (I had to use dried shitaki mushrooms that I found in the Asian food aisle. I almost didn't find any anywhere in the entire store but then a clerk that I recruited to hunt some with me found me later in the store with the shitaki ones. So if you want to make this and you can't find dried mushrooms, check the Asian aisle if there is one.)
- 2 cups white cooking wine
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of mushroom soup
- 1 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. dried tarragon

- Heat wine in microwave on High for 4 minutes. Place mushrooms in wine for ten minutes to rehydrate. Then blend mushrooms in blender/food processor with 2/3 cup of the wine (throw away the rest of it). Blend until it becomes a thick paste.
- In a crock pot mix mushroom paste and remaining ingredients together until well blended. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
*I served it with some fresh tarragon on top.

Last minute I remembered some pitas I had in my fridge so I cut them up into little triangles and put them on a cookie sheet, sprinkled some grated parmesean cheese on them, and put them in the broiler for about 5 minutes. They came out slightly crispy with the cheese nicely melted on them.
I had this out to eat during the last session of conference and it tasted great with the pita chips. I loved the kinda smoky taste it had and the tarragon was delicious in it. Even Kimberly, a self admitted mushroom hater, seemed to like it.

Vertical Pear Salad
- 4 smooth skinned pears (whatever that means... aren't they all smooth?)
- 2-3 cups water cress (depending on how much salad you want)
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- vinagrette dressing (your choice. I used raspberry vinagrette and it was really good.)
- honey
- lemon juice (I had lime juice already in my fridge so I just used that instead.)
*I didn't measure any of the ingredients, I just added as much/little as I wanted.
- Cut pears horizontally (short ways) into four slices each. Use a kife to cut out the cores so the peices look like donuts. Leave the stem on the top peice. Brush lemon juice on each cut side of the pear peices.
- Toss the pecans, blue cheese, water cress, and dressing until coated.
- Reassemble the pear, vertically (ahhh... get it now? ;) ), with the watercress salad in between each slice. Once assembled, Drizzle with honey.

I absolutely LOVED this! It was delicious and surprisingly simple. And it looks awesome. The hardest part was remembering which order the pear peices went in the reassembly...
Pumpkin Curry Soup
- 1 30 oz can of canned pumkpin
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (I used a white onion)
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp curry powder (I used some yellow curry powder that Bradford has.)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 cup half and half
- water ? (I can't remember how much water it called for... I'll look at my recipe tonight and adjust it on here.)
- In a large pot melt butter on medium heat. Once melted add the celery, carrots, and onion. cook until somewhat soft. Then add the pumpkin pie spice and curry powder. Cook for 2 minutes.
-Add water and pumpkin. Bring to a boil. Then add salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occaisionally. Remove from heat and let it slightly cool. (I stuck it in the fridge for about 15 minutes.)
- In a blender, blend about a 1/3 of the mixture at a time until welll blended. Once entire mixture is blended through, return to pot and allow to simmer. Once its simmering stir in the half and half.
This soup was really good. Everyone liked it a lot. Bradford gave it a 9 out of 10 even. I served it with some Italian parsley on top and some french bread Kimberly brought with her. I added some more salt and pepper to my serving, just because that's how I liked it, but it was perfectly fine without it. It had such a delicious flavor and it smelled incredible.
Spice Rubbed Chicken
- 1 5-6 lb roasting chicken (my grocery store didn't have roastign chickens so I picked up 3 cornish hens instead. I just adjusted the cooking time)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander (we only had whole coriander, and it was like 7 dollars at the grocery store for the ground stuff, so I just used a spoon and ground it myself. It was a lot cheaper that way. :) )
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- olive oil
- 1 med. red onion thickly sliced/chopped
- 1 med. white and/or yellow onion thickly sliced/chopped
- Set oven to 350 degrees. Lay onions in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt.
- Mix all spices together in a bowl.
- Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub with Olive oil then rub on the spice mixture. Coat entire chicken.
- Place on the onions and loosley cover with foil. Cook for 1/2 an hour. Then remove the foil and cook for another hour and a half to two hours. Or until juices run clear.
* For the cornish hens, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I didn't get them done all they way on the first try and we ended up sticking them back in the oven after we'd cut into them and noticed they weren't done. Whoops. But, all in all, I found that they need to cook at 350 degrees for about two hours. I served the little guys a big ol' chard leaf from Bradford's parents' garden. I was going to braise it and serve it with the chicken but I forgot about it until I was done cooking and we were sitting down to eat, so I just plopped the birds on top of it instead.
We were so full by the time we finished our soup and salads and after all the munchies that we had throughout the day that we ended up not eating the chicken and Bradford and I had it for dinner a few days later. :)
- 1 cups uncooked rice
- 5 cups water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
- Blend the rice and water in a blender until the rice begins to break up. Then let it soak for 3 hours.
- With a mesh strainer, remove the rice from the water. Stir the remaining ingredients into the rice water and then let chill. Serve over ice.
Bradford was in charge of the horchata. We actually doubled this recipe and ended up with a lot of it, but it was so good.
Kimberly made the chocolate pumpkin cookies and I don't have to recipe for it. I'll try and get it from her soon because they were so good. I realize now that I didn't get pictures of them. Sad. But they looked just as good as they tasted!
I got the recipes I used from the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They always have tons of really great recipes each month and I am constantly collecting any recipe I can find from the various magazines we recieve for our waiting room at work.
Here are some more pictures. The two of Bradford I just had to post because they are so very Bradford. :)

Why Not

I could or could not win a handbag by posting this link. I guess we'll find out. Never hurts to try right? Right...

I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, October 6, 2008


My wonderful sister, Kimberly, has just "tagged" me in one of her blogs. Because of that I am to write a similar blog about myself with 7 Quirky things about me that all of you may or may not know already. The last step is to also then tag 7 other people to write about their quirks on their own blog. I'm not going to do that part though... I guess the whole part of my brain that has an aversion to mass/chain emails is likening it as such. But, if any of you that read this need an idea for a new post on your blog, feel free to share your quirkiest quirks with the rest of us.

1- Ok, so I know that anyone who knows about what I am about to tell you would be very disappointed in me if I did not own up to this characteristic in me as my absolute number one quirk... with that said: My number one quirk is my "Sticker" issue (even thinking the word makes me gag). Ever since I can remember, the idea of stickers, face paint, people writing on their hands, peeling labels, etc... have honestly made me ill. Sometimes I have a better handle on it than other times, but there have been actual instances where I have lost my lunch over encountering one of the afore mentioned objects. I prefer to use the word "label" as opposed to "sticker" mostly because it grosses me out less. Stickers are ok if they are in their proper context. Like scrapbooking. But once they become applied to clothes or skin, and even worse, once they start curling up their corners... I'm done for. And stickers on food is even worse. It just seems so wrong. I carefully choose my fruit and vegetables at the store to avoid those with labels on them. I also can't stand when labels on bottles, cans, etc... start to peel off. Anything that's sticky that starts to collect grime and grodies is bad. And face paint, stamps on hands, any writing on the skin... can't handle it. Halloween can be a hard time. Funny though, someone once asked me why make up doesn't bother me... maybe my narcissism ousts the gag reflex. Also, tatoos don't have the same effect. The rub on ones do, but not real ones. Not sure why.

2- Even though my number one quirk is probably quirk enough to account for 7 of them, I'll go ahead and list 6 more, just for Kimberly's sake (though I think she's just determined to expose me for the weirdo I am to the entire blogosphere...). I have to have all the silverware in the drawer stacked up nicely on itself. it can't be askew or haphazardly thrown in. All spoons must be neatly placed on the same sized spoons, all forks must be laid nicely on the same sized forks. I have a friend who years ago, while "helping" me put away dishes, thought it would be funny to mess up the silverware drawer and then stand in front of it so I couldn't fix it...

3- I can't stand it when dresser drawers or cupboards have clothes or something sticking out of them when they're closed. It also bugs me when cupboards and drawers (or even containers of any kind) don't/can't close all the way.

4- I prefer to have two straws in my drinks. Unless the straws are mondo thick straws, I can't drink my drink well unless I have two of them. Bradford, dear heart that he is, has even gotten in the habit of asking the waiter's for an additional straw. Or he just gives me his. I can't remember when this habit started. Its sometimes embarrassing when I ask for another straw and the server looks at me like I'm and idiot for not seeing the one already sticking out of my cup... just humor me man if you want your tip.

5- Whenever I have cash, I like to have all the bills facing the same direction and in order of their amount. Kind of on that same vein, my DVDs have to be alphabetized...

6- If I'm ever popping bubble wrap (because its strangely satisfying), I can't leave any of the bubbles un-popped. It drives me crazy.

7- I love fluffy animals. Anything that is fluffy temporarily incapacitates me and all I can do is obsess for a few minutes over whatever it is that triggered my behavior.

My 7 things turned into more of a "let-me-tell-you-about-my-OCD-issues" synopsis rather than a list of my quirkiness... maybe they're one in the same, I'm not sure. I probably don't notice all my quirks either, so if any of you know of additional quirks in me that I failed to mention, and that you feel are prominent go ahead and let me know what they are.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Day Away

Bradford and I took a litte mid-week break yesterday from Provo, and work, and school, etc... Bradford picked me up from work at one o'clock and we headed up to Salt Lake City for the day.

Our first stop was in Sandy for lunch. We had a two for one coupon to Sweet Tomatoes, a soup/salad/pasta buffet. It was so good! I ate way too much, of course, but because the food was all pretty healthy I didn't feel disgusting afterward. I think my favorite things there were the Ginger soup/broth and the itty bitty teeny tiny ice cream cones. Seriously, these things were adorable and held just enough ice cream to top off the meal. I wish I had taken a picture of it... Here's one of Bradford though, enjoying a tasty leafy salad:

After we finished lunch, we headed further North to downtown Salt Lake City. We parked the car and then walked to one of our favorite spots in all of Salt Lake City. Sam Weller's Bookstore. I love that place. We only make it up there a few times a year but we love it every time we come. Its a three story new and used bookstore and they have a collectibles section that has really really old books, rare books, special edition books, and also just really nice copies of books. Bradford and I have been building a small collection of classics. I think we have 25-30 leatherbound or wanna-be leatherbound gold lettered books. I started buying them years ago and more recently have started to buy higher quality ones. At Sam Weller's we can almost always find really nice copies for under 40 dollars. Its a lot of fun. Yesterday I had a hard time choosing just one... I found about ten that I wanted but we ended up just buying The Three Musketeers as well as Anna Karenina. After we made our selections from the collectibles we wandered around the rest of the store and ended up picking up a Tagolog-English Dictionary for Bradford. We made ou purchases, walked back to the car, and then headed off for Hogle Zoo! We were initially planning to see My Fair Lady at the Pioneer Theater Company but we found out that the show for that night was sold out, which we were kinda bummed about, so we decided a trip to the zoo to see some fluffy animals would help cure some of that disappointment :).

We saw all sorts of animals, lots of monkeys, some big cats, lots of birds, elephants, rhinos, a few bears, snakes, and lots of fun litte furry guys too.

The first animal we saw was a bunch of turkeys. Throughout the park there were turkeys and roosters and peacocks just walking around. Bradford was walking up to one of the turkeys and the turkey started to cluck and get kind of agitated and so we decided it was time to go elsewhere... Turkeys make me nervous anyway... one too many bad run-ins earlier in life. Here's Bradford posing with Ms. Turkey:

I also took a picture of one of the roosters for Bradford. He loves chickens/roosters and he got excited when he saw them.

There was an exhibit of a family of monkies (I can't remember what kind of monkey there are...) and they have a 6 week old baby and he was darling. He was jumping all over the place and playing with his mom and dad, running around, tackling clumps of grass... It was very entertaining and we got to be pretty close to them. This is a picture of the baby in one of his calm moments staring at a family member. I think he wanted whatever the big one was playing with in his hand.

There was also an inside monkey exhibit and in one of them there was a bunch of lemurs and one of them came running up to us when we walked up to the glass and he put his hands on the glass, so I did too (don't worry, I didn't tap on the glass) and I thought he was really liking our interaction until the next thing you know he and his cage-mate started screaming and making a really scary sounding yell... I was very glad for the thick glass in between us. Apprently I made some offensive hand gestures in lemur or something.

After the monkeys we saw a cougar that was swatting and biting at bothersome flies, some black bears who were very shy and hiding from spectators, some elephants, two rhinos, soem warthogs that were surprisingly really cute. and then we saw one of the most amazing animals ever. A Red Panda. I wanted one so badly after that. He was darling! If he wasn't a wild and slightly dangerous animal (though he looked as sweet as anything) I really think I might have climbed into his home and snuggled him. He has one of the cutest, sweetest, faces ever. I wanted to get a picture of him but when I went back to get it he was in his inside area and I couldn't get a good picture because of the glass. Next time...

We then saw some giraffes, which made me miss Kenya, and then we saw a tiger. I wanted him to go swimming in his little pond thing but he was too busy pacing back and forth at the top of his hill that he lived on. across from his exhibit there were some lynxs and they were beautiful. One of them was really preoccupied with the pacing tiger. His stare was locked on Mr. Tiger the entire time we watched him. He was even pacing to match the tiger's pace. I think he secretly wants to be a tiger.

My favorite big cat was a leopard. He was taking a nap on some very cozy looking grass and he looked very, very soft. Another furry friend I would have glady cuddled with minus the potential of death. Again, I wish I'd gotten more pictures but I either didn't think of it in time or there was glass that affected the shots.

We also saw a white alligator. He was lounging out on the bank of his pond and I found him very comical, even though he wasn't doing anything but laying there, sprawled out, and relaxing. I kinda liked him. As we walked into his exhibit there was a cave thing you had to walk through and it had a waterfall coming off of it so Bradford and I took a couple pictures in front of it:

We also saw some penguins that were really cute. I think it must have been nap time though because they all looked so sleepy. This one was my favorite, I think he was sleeping standing up (maybe that's normal for penguins... hmm, I'll have to wikipedia that)! I also took a picture of one of his fellow penguins.

We went inside their reptile/desert animal exhibit. Along one wall was all the snakes and bugs and creepy crawlies. On the other wall was birds and fuzzies (like a REALLY cuddly looking prairie dog that I swear was smiling at me...) and things that were less scary to look at. I stuck closer to that side of the exhibit. At one point Bradford had to prepare me for a sight I could hardly stand. Two bunnies! I don't know what it is about bunnies but they are one animal that can get me to squeal like no other... they were very fun to watch. Next to the bunnies was another cute furry friend. A sand cat. He was sleeping in a hollowed out log and poked his head up at us. Very cute.

We saw some very pretty birds, and on our way out of the park we saw this parrot:

He was chriping and kind of cooing, and he seemed shy but also like he wanted us to see him and admire him. It was so cute (boy I'm using that word a lot... I just can't help myself!). He even made a full turn on one of his perches and posed very nicely for us. I liked him a lot.

After we said goodbye the friendly parrot we heard another bird talking. Earlier we had seen a very quiet Macaw parrot and I thought it sounded like it was coming from his location. Sure enough, we made our way over to him and he was more than willing to give us a show. He was such a crack up. He kept doing funny litte tricks like the one I got him doing in this picture:

Ok, so you can't really see what he's doing very well, but he would hook his beak on his cage and then let go with his feet and just hang from his beak, and he'd wiggle his wings back and forth. The harder we laughed the more he did it. It was so neat. Such a smart animal!

And, of course, what Zoo is complete with a giant lion mouth to drink from? Classic.

We left the zoo, and made our way back south to Provo. Then Bradford remembered that there is a Filipino market up this way and he wanted to find it so we could buy some food so I could experience and he could reminicse (he served his mission in the Philippines). It took us a little while to find it (we stopped at a 7/11 to buy slurpees and get directions...) but it was worth it once we did. Bradford was really excited and it was neat to see some of the things he'd told me about. As we were paying, the clerk asked me if Bradford was my brother, haha. I laughed and said that he most definitely wasn't my brother and Bradford said "I wouldn't kiss my sister like I kiss her." The lady said, "Oh, well you guys look alike." It was kinda funny.

We drove back in to Provo and stopped at Maceys to pick up some groceries for Bradford and then we went back to my apartment made some pancit sandwiches (kinda like top ramen noodles on white bread). Bradford used to eat them in the Philippines and he introduced me to them about a month ago and I found myself craving them. We had some peppermint herbal tea as well and then we watched a movie.

It was such a nice day. Such a needed break, too, from all the surrounding monotony. And its always nice to be with Bradford, no matter what we're doing. I know he needed the break too so it was great to get out and do something enjoyable and different.