Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Putting Christmas Gifts to Work

So sorry Bama, I apologize.
Christmas was a month ago and I haven't done a single recap about my favourite holiday or the glorious two weeks I had off work!
Unfortunately M and I weren't able to visit his family this year so they mailed us some gifts. We gathered round the tree to open the pretty packages.
Underoath CD for the boy!
Oven mitts for me! Silicone on the outside but comfy padding on the inside. Love them.
M with his most favourite movie in the whole world :)
Operation Beautiful book. Good read.
And even a bone for the Bamster. He finished that sucker off in 5 minutes flat.
Our main gift from M's parents was a KitchenAid ice cream attachment! Wahoo!

M is a lover of ice cream and a few weekends ago we finally had a chance to put the ice cream maker to use. We followed the french vanilla recipe that came with the mixer, but used skim milk instead of half and half and added cherries for nutrition :)
It turned out.. hrrmm.. okay. The cherries weren't as delicious as I imagined and because we used real rather than artificial vanilla, the taste was a bit strong. That's okay though, we'll still polish it off eventually. I think the next batch will involve oreos. How can you go wrong with oreos?
Open wide...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baking Woes

I like baking in the winter because it makes my house warm. That's true fact #1. True fact #2 is that M and I keep the temperature set at 63 degrees and every night when I get home I put on three sweaters and if I watch tv I hide under two blankets. Yay for drafty windows in old homes and sky high heating bills!

Anyway, one night I had a hankering for homemade raisin bread. I pulled out the bread machine, loaded it up with all the ingredients, and after 3 1/2 hours of smelling it bake, I opened up the machine to find this...

I ate it and I loved every tiny morsel. That's true fact #3.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mom's Famous Muffins

This is my mom's famous banana chocolate chip muffin, aka the best muffin in the world. I brought a batch over to my friend after she had her baby and I was horrified when she asked for the recipe. There is a reason they are so tasty!

This recipe is too good not to share with the world and I dare you to make them and stop yourself after just one :)

Into a bowl goes 3 super ripe mashed up bananas, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 cup mayo. Into another bowl goes 2 cups of flour, 2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt.
Gently mix everything together then fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Pour into muffins tins and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees C.
Eat to your heart's content!
Of course, I have problems and can't ever follow a recipe properly so I reduce the amount of sugar, cut back on the mayo and add a bit of apple sauce instead, and use a mixture of whole wheat and white flour. If you want the real deal though, just follow the darn recipe and make Marn-dog happy.

Whatever you do, if nothing else, eat one of these straight out of the oven. The ooey gooey melty chocolate is worth every calorie!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sick of Winter?

Now is about the time when everyone comments on how sick they are of winter. It's hard to believe, but we're only half way through!

One thing that makes winter more bearable for me is this...
Bama the dog lives for snow.
As soon as he sees the snow, his ears perk up and he gallops around like a puppy. He catches snowballs and eats them, licks snow up like it's water, and loves jumping into big piles.

How can I not enjoy the snow when this dog drags me around in it, like he's just won the milk bone lottery?

He looks very serious in this picture, but I assure you, he's loving every minute of it.
I feel like one of those crazy dog lovers I used to make fun of :)
Are you dreaming of summer yet?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nashville Continued

Oh my, it's been a whole month since my trip to Nashville! I thought I should buck up and finish off telling you about it. Read my first entry about Music City here.

One of the most recommended breakfast restaurants in Nashville is Pancake Pantry. It's a Nashville tradition supposedly, or at least that's what the sign says. Jake and Taylor love it. This place usually has a huge line but luckily we only had to wait 20 minutes.
As soon as I saw the Cherry Supreme pancakes, I knew they had to be mine. Excellent choice.
I could only eat one of those suckers plus all of the cherry goo, and it was sooooo yummy and I'm not even a pancake lover. M order the Pigs in a Blanket, which was also delicious. I'm pretty sure the hash browns were cooked in a vat of butter, making them sinfully good.

We definitely needed to burn off that meal so M and I walked through the Vanderbilt campus. I couldn't believe all of the fraternity and sorority houses in a row. American colleges are so different than any Canadian university I've seen.
I think my very favourite meal was Sunday dinner at Monell's because it was everything you'd imagine in a traditional southern meal, and more. This place is a must go if you ever visit Nashville! Collard greens, beef brisket, pot roast, cinnamon buns, fried chicken... and that's just to name a few of the dishes served. This restaurant is family style, so about 12 people sit around a huge table and pass all of the dishes to the person on their left. A real family dinner, except with strangers :)
I bought tickets for the Grand Ole Opry for the Saturday night, BOGO, so it ended up being $25/person. I really enjoyed this experience, M on the other hand was bored to death.
The Opry was playing at the Ryman Auditorium, which is a historic building with butt numbing church pews as the seats!
Here's M, before the Opry started, so he still looks happy!
Yay for being the only people under 30 in the entire place!
We got there quite early and I spent a while looking at the posters from previous performers.
Here's Emmylou Harris, the headliner for the night!
That's pretty much our trip to Nashville in a nutshell! We ended up staying an extra two days because of a snowstorm. I wouldn't willingly choose Nashville as a place to be stuck in and I feel a weekend is enough time to explore this city, unless you are country music crazed and want to see and do everything country related. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun place to visit even if you're not into country music, but a weekend trip is just the right amount of time!

Monday, January 3, 2011

36 in 356: 2011 Edition

Here's what I want to accomplish this year! As a new twist and to help motivate me, I've decided to donate $5 for each of my uncompleted goals at the end of the year. Wish me luck!

36 in 365 Goals (Round 3):

Get Busy:
1. Leave a comment on someone's blog everyday for two months (2/2).
2. Compile and edit all of my Kilimanjaro videos into one.
3. Blog a total of 200 times throughout the year.
4. Make Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon.
5. Go to a couple of concerts (2/2): City and Colour, Coheed and Cambria
8. Bake a rainbow cake.

Get Places:
10. Go to Kingston Mines to listen to a blues band.
11. Bring Bama to the dog park more often (11/20).
12. Try two Man Vs. Food restaurants (2/2): Vortex, Lucky's Sandwich Company
13. Go to an outdoor concert in Millenium Park.
14. Explore two different American states (2/2): Atlanta, GA and Cassopolis, MI
15. Attend Chicago summer festivals (2/2): Sheffield Garden Walk, Jazz Fest
17. Ride the ferris wheel at Navy Pier.
18. Visit the Art Institute of Chicago.

Get Giving:
19. Send a birthday card to each of my siblings and parents (9/9).
20. Volunteer in a soup kitchen once a month (12/12).
21. Leave Operation Beautiful notes (2/10).

Get Crafty:
22. Complete a list of 101 things that make me happy (28/101): #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,
23. Create a wedding anniversary scrapbook with highlights from each year.
24. Make a piece of artwork using old passport stamps.
25. Create a wedding album for both sets of parents.
26. Buy and decorate a real Christmas tree!
27. Make a special someone a Blurb book.
28. Learn something about photography.

Get Healthy:
30. Floss or use the Oral B cleaner everyday for a month (and try to continue).
31. Skate on the Rideau Canal in February.
32. Complete a 30 day Wii Fit challenge.
33. Take a long bike ride (2/2).
34. Walk to work or anywhere else that's 35-40 minutes each way (10/10).
35. Go rock climbing.
36. Go hiking (2/2): Bloomingdale Trail, Lake Matheson

Did you make any resolutions this year or have any goals you'd like to meet?

2010 Goals.. How'd I Do?

How'd I do on my list of 36 in 365 goals from last year? I fully completed 20 of the 36 goals (the bolded ones), and half completed an additional 5. Not bad, not bad.

Let's review...

Get Busy
1. Blog everyday for two months (1/2).
2. Leave a comment on someone's blog each day for a month.
3. Read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Anna Karenina (3/3).
4. Make a five course meal to enjoy over candlelight with my husband.
5. Cook a new type of soup each month (6/12).
6. Watch five movies from my "Film Club" list (6/5): Breakfast at Tiffany's, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Bicycle Thief, Murmur of the Heart, The Searchers, Casablanca
7. Learn something about photography.
8. Be an audience member for a tv show: "The Hour" and "Steven and Chris"
9. Try a new fruit or veggie each month (6/12): passion fruit, tamarillo, okra, fresh fig, persimmon, kabocha squash
10. Practice my ice skating skills (0/2).

Get Crafty
11. Finish my wedding scrapbook.
12. Create a wedding album for both sets of parents.
13. Make a special someone a Blurb book.
14. Write a list of 101 things that make me happy (20/101). #1, #2, #3, #4

Get Giving
15. Send Christmas Cards to family and friends.
16. Write a long email to a friend twice per month (12/24).
17. Call my BFF at least once a month (12/12).
18. Pay for someone in the drive thru behind me.
19. Send flowers to someone anonymously.
20. Volunteer somewhere for something: I mentored an international teacher through the "Skills for Change" program.

Get Healthy
21. Complete the couch to 5k program.
22. Run a 5k race and do not get lost.
23. Learn how to skate.
24. Complete the 100 pushup challenge.
25. Go rock climbing.
26. Try a hot yoga class.

Get Places
27. Attend a blues or jazz fest.
28. Take the architectural boat tour in Chicago.
29. Explore at least two different states in the US (3/2): New Orleans, Philadelphia, Nashville
30. Go to a drive-in movie.
31. Go to the Toronto Islands.
32. Hike the Pinery.
33. Explore one new place every month (12/12): Distillery District, Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, Wrigleyville, Lakeview, etc. etc.
34. Go geocaching (1/3).
35. See musicals (2/3): Cats, Billy Elliot
36. Watch the sun rise: On the Kilimanjaro summit!

I think some of my goals were a bit lofty... like who really needs a new batch of soup each month and keeping track of how many times I email my friends was way too difficult so I just stopped. I am disappointed in my lack of craftiness this year and I MUST finish all things wedding related asap.

I'm working on a new list of 36 in 365 goals for this year because I thrive having some type of focus and crossing things off my list is super fun :)