Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good-bye 08

Ups of 2008

~Getting my Bachelor's degree
~Going on a 9 day cruise with Mike to the Western Caribbean to celebrate our graduation
~Vessel using the toilet (however, only to go "pee-pee", not "poops" yet)
~Buying a house we can call our own
~People here that I can truly call my friends
~Our trip to Canada
~Having family come visit us
~Mike having a job he enjoys and the financial security that comes with it
~Mike and I hitting 5 years of marriage and still going strong
~Experiences that were both spiritually and emotionally strengthening

Downs of 2008

~Lost friendships
~Depression
~Our first apartment in MT
~Personal disappointments
~Wasted time and unfinished projects
~The car accident (this deserves it's own post at a later time)
~Weight gain (tsk tsk)
~Not taking better care of myself physically and mentally
~Doubts (in several areas of my personal life)
~Periods of lonliness

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Psh, they're probably all sold out by now...

I saw some very outrageous toy commercials this morning and I now have a super great toy in mind for Christmas. Are you ready? An infinite bubble popping toy based on bubble wrap. No, I'm not kidding you. I personally like popping bubble wrap, who doesn't? So here it is in all it's glory. Click here or here. Wow, the world is such a better place with this toy in it. This guy's review is what sold me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He needs a cushion

Vessel has been demonstrating "pretend play" a lot the past couple of months. He has some little "guys" as he likes to call them, which are basically a bunch of random toy men and action figures. Today he was in his room playing with them and then he came into my room to show me what he did for his little Dracula toy. Apparently Dracula's coffin was a bit uncomfortable as it was, because Vessel put one of his little socks in there to serve as a cushion. He told me he "made a pillow." It was really cute.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Depression hurts...

This was the only thing that made me laugh all day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Randomosity

~As I was driving to Mike's office the other day I saw a big "McCain-Palin" sign in somebody's front yard. Do they not realize that the election is over? Let it go, man, just let it go.

~I love the dollar store. I can always find the coolest stuff there. I don't care if it's all made in China.

~You know something that bugs me? When people purposely put thoughts in my head about other people so as to distort my opinion of them. I should be able to make up my own opinion of that person without knowing all the horrible things they did to person #1.

~I bought some new plates and bowls recently because the first dinnerware set we ever owned (probably a wedding gift) has seen it's last days. Most of the plates have chips and cracks in them. But I don't want to throw them away. Does anyone know how I can recycle my plates? Does anyone have any good ideas on what I could make out of them?

~A few weeks ago we went in for TS with our bishop. When he gave us our records I saw that Mike and I have the same baptismal date! Just one more reason we're meant to be together I guess. :)

~I now have a freakin' sweet Christmas music collection thanks to my friend Rachel who hooked me up with the Beatles Christmas records, Dr. Demento, Mannheim Steamroller, A very German Techno Christmas, A very Japanese Trance Christmas, Celtic Christmas, and They Might Be Giants Holiday Land!

~I've said it before and I'll say it again: I HATE my thyroid. I really do. It costs about $200 smackers every time I need to get a vile of blood drawn. And our insurance won't cover it. How am I supposed to afford that every 4 weeks? $#%*! I hate that this seemingly little thing can wreak so much havoc in my body.

~One downfall to living here is that we don't find out about church related things until days or weeks after the fact. Take Elder Wirthlin's death for instance. Yeah, didn't know about it until this past Sunday. Back when we lived in "the Bubble" that kind of stuff would be all over the local news. And we used to be able to watch the Christmas devotional and Conference on regular television stations, but not here. :( Thank goodness for the internet.

~We decided to put our Christmas tree up the first of December. It's the earliest I think we've put our tree up. But I want to enjoy the Christmas season for as long as possible.

(this is our regular tree and our mini tree with the nativity scene and other decorative items.)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mike's Work Party

Well, now that Mike has a "real" job we got to go to his annual company Christmas party. Nothing like dressing up and going to a fancy dinner, in my opinion! I even got to wear a name tag that read "Jamie Bates - Guest." Sweet, right? Anyway, I thought it might've been a little bit awkward, not only because I didn't know a soul there, but because there was unlimited alcohol and well, we don't drink. Luckily we got to sit with some of our friends in our ward. Marky-Mark works at the company with Mike and Jenny serves with me in the Primary. It was actually a pretty enjoyable time and we got away with drinking soda and cranberry juice without feeling too left out. We even danced a few songs. I also got sweet video footage of some of the dancers who, in Mark's words, were "tanked." I decided to leave the videos out, but you can use your imagination. Hilarious stuff. :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Stroll

Friday night a dear friend of ours offered to watch the boy child so that Mike and I could go out and enjoy the GF Christmas Stroll and parade. Basically the town blocks off the main street going through downtown and vendors set up shops and there is a big parade of lights and Santa lights the big tree at the Civic Center. So anyway, it was colder than I would've liked, but it was still pretty fun. Okay, it was kind of lame, but at least we ran into some good friends of ours who made it fun!

Here I shake the hand of this random wooden statue that the store dressed in a Santa suit. And Mike cops a feel.

Yet another sexy pose from us with this Santa wanna-be.

Rachel and I sit on "Nibbles" the dinosaur, a monumental statue in GF. Sorry it looks like I'm pulling a Michael Jackson in this picture. Didn't intend for it to look that way...

More pictures with "Nibbles" only this time Giordano gets involved and Rachel gives the little gal a drink. (p.s. I never get "red-eye" in pictures, so that's neat-o)

These broads were singing carols on the street corner. Eh, good times were had by all.

Here we witnessed a group of senior citizens practicing their ho-down skills in this vacant building.

video

Later we went to Mike's place of business for some free cookies and hot cocoa, only we were deceived as there was no hot cocoa. So then we went to Hardee's, which is the Carl's Jr. of Montana. The best part was the comment cards Rachel and Giordano filled out. And as always, our conversations were fun and entertaining. I learned what "teabagging" meant, so not only was it an entertaining conversation, but an educational one at that. Then we went into a toy store that was packed full of people and G and R (not the band) played with puppets and then we went browsing for a Christmas present for the boy child. Rachel fell in love with the little animals dressed in clothes. :) After nearly 3 hours of strolling down the street in the cold we finally went home. The only regret of the night is that I wasn't able to partake of the famous deep-fried Anaheim pepper. The fire department had a little shop set up where they took peppers and stuffed them with a sausage-y, cheesy, spicy concoction and then battered them and deep fried them. I was the only one who thought it sounded delicious. So nobody wanted to wait in line with me. Psh, I should've just stood in line by myself, am I right?

Homemade Grub

Okay, I know that most of you make all your food at home and from scratch everyday, so why should I be so pleased with myself? Well, I am proud of myself because cooking is so hard for me and something I don't necessarily enjoy. Ever since our move we have been committed to eating at home and only out at restaurants on occassion. This is a true accomplishment for us considering we used to eat out about 4-5 times a week when we lived in SLC. Granted we were both busy with school and work and a child, so somehow we justified it. But now I've got so much more time on my hands and I cook dinner every night unless it's a special occassion or the weekend. Oh, and Mike helps out a lot too, so I can't take all the credit. Anyway, this week we were craving some Greek and Indian food so we whipped up our own version of gyros and made a side of hummus for the extra pitas.

Mike seasoned the chicken and cooked it on the outside grill then cut it up into small peices.

Real gyros are typically made with lamb or beef, but chicken can work too. Add onions, tomatos and tzatziki sauce and you're done! That poo looking substance to the left is the hummus.

The pitas only take a few minutes to bake. It might be hard to tell from my picture, but they puff up like a balloon when they're done.

The great thing about them ballooning up like they do is that they make a little pocket perfect for stuffing food in!

Pita Bread

Ingredients:
3 cups bread flour*
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 1/4 cups room-temperature water

*You can substitute any amount of whole wheat flour for white flour, although the dough may require additional water to be soft and malleable.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in large mixing bowl or heavy duty mixer. Add butter and water and mix by hand on low speed with mixer for about 1 minute. Knead or use dough hook on mixer (med. speed) for 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic (this is why I love my KitchenAid.) Add flour or water as needed. The dough should be slightly tacky but not sticky. Transfer dough to a glass bowl brushed with olive oil. Turn the dough over once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume (1 to 1 1/2 hours.) Punch dough down and divide it into 8 equal balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a lightly floured surface roll out each ball to a thin 8 inch round. You can bake these on a pizza stone or an upside-down baking sheet. Spray the stone or baking sheet with a mist of water, wait 30 seconds, then place as many rounds on the hearth as possible. Bake until dough puffs up like a balloon, which is about 3 minutes. Remove each bread to cool on a rack. Note: If you leave the breads in the oven too long, they will not deflate to flat disks.

Tzatziki-- (cucumber sauce for gyros)

Ingredients:
2 cups plain yogurt
2 teaspoons pureed garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, grated (use large holes on grater)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt

For best results drain yogurt for 1 hour in a cheesecloth lined strainer. (We didn't do it because we were short on time) In a bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, pepper and salt. Sprinkle a little salt on grated cucumbers, drain for 10-15 minutes. Add drained cucumbers to the yogurt mixture then mix in olive oil and you're done!

Hummus

Ingredients:
2 cups canned chickpeas rinsed (or 3/4 cup dried chickpeas)*
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons tahini
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Sprinkling of hot or sweet paprika
Salt to taste

* If you use dry chickpeas, it takes a lot longer. You must pick over, rinse and soak. Then boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Too much work for me, but if you're into that sort of thing, don't let me stop ya.

Place chickpeas in a food processor and add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and salt. Puree until smooth adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of warm water as needed to obtain a creamy consistency. Remove to a shallow serving bowl and garnish with olive oil, parsley and paprika.