Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frightmare Mansion

My sister and her husband have outdone themselves yet again this year. For those that are not familiar, every year for Halloween they spend endless hours getting a haunted house together for the kids in the neighborhood. This year they have built 13 different rooms to visit that will scare the living poop out of you. Here is a link to their website:

They have also been featured in their local papers for the last few years. Last year that had well over a thousand people visit the haunted house, this year they are expecting quite a few more people. Really, I have never seen anything so spectacular done at a 'home' level where there is no charge. If you want to check out the article in the newspaper, here it is:

Melanie (my sister) said that it a pretty big ad with a big picture...the picture is featured in the online version. Kudos to Mel and Justin for putting in so many freaking hours making a wonderful haunted house for the community!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sesame Black Olive Hummus

I just made Black Olive Hummus with Sesame Oil last night, and it was so good that I had to share the recipe. Usually traditional Hummus calls for Tahini, which is a sesame paste almost like peanut butter. But since I don't usually use Tahini, I saw no need to buy it. Here is my recipe without it. I hope you like it. (I cannot take credit for the picture. I failed to take a picture of my hummus, so I pulled this off of the internet)

2 15 oz. cans of garbanzo beans drained
1 15 oz. can of black olives, reserve 3 Tb. of liquid
1 garlic clove minced
2 lemons juiced, remove seeds
1 Tb. of Sesame Oil

Directions: If you have a food processor, this will make your life TONS easier. I will assume you have one. Throw in 1 garlic clove and mince the crap out of it. Add in 1/2 can beans and blend really really well. This insures the garlic is minced really small. Add in the rest of the beans, the juice of both lemons, reserved olive brine, the tablespoon of sesame oil and grind grind grind until almost pureed. Add more olive brine if needed. Pour into a bowl. Then, add the olives, the whole can to the food processor and coarsely chop (don't worry about cleaning out your food processor). Chop until desired consistency and stir into hummus. Sprinkle with a few reserved olives if you'd like, and sprinkle with paprika if needed for presentation value.

Tips and Variations: Use Greek Olives, Green Olives or Roasted Red Peppers. Also, taste as you go. I ended up adding about a teaspoon of sea salt, but only because I like my hummus a bit salty. This is certainly NOT needed because the olives are fairly salty, but will be needed if you make the Roasted Red Pepper variety.

Serve with Club crackers, Ritz crackers, carrots, cut red pepper and other veggies for dipping. Of course you can serve it with pita bread, pita chips or my favorite, Gorgonzola Crackers from Trader Joe's (a fairly new item). I personally like cut veggies because you can't have too many veggies in your diet right? Enjoy!

The Wonders of WOW

I will be the first to admit that I'm NOT addicted to WOW. :) I do like it though. I have a level 70 character, and once the expansion is released in a couple of weeks I will soon have a level 80 character. And, I will be starting a NEW character soon. I also do 'daily quests' almost everyday to increase the amount of gold that I have in case I need to make a big purchase in the game. I just recently procured my fast flying mount which is exciting because now I can get from place to place fairly quickly. WOW is somewhat engaging, but also a time to simply checkout from reality and enter a different world, kind of like a mini-vacation whenever you log on.

Here's the point of this post, it's more of a rant really, so bear with me. In the game you gain reputation for experience with certain things. In my case, and for the purpose of this post, I have gained the maximum amount of reputation in a certain area where I complete quests on a daily basis in order to earn gold in the game. A while ago I reached 999 out of 1,000 reputation and noticed that it wouldn't go up anymore. I asked my husband, the WOW guru, why that was. His simple explanation was "999 is the highest you can get". In other words, I CAN NEVER GET TO 1,000. Let me break this down for you......I can NEVER EVER get to 1,000 and 999 is the highest I will ever be able to achieve in this area. Uh, yeah - this bugs me can you tell? Why would Blizzard decide to make the maximum 1,000 if no one will ever be able to achieve that? My husband thinks this is funny. He looked at me during my, "You mean I can NEVER EVER get to 1,000" rant and says, "This is really tweakin' you isn't it?" while sitting back relaxed and smirking. There is so much in THAT statement. In short, YES Shawn, this really bothers me.

Imagine what would happen if I told my students that they could only ever achieve a 99% on their midterms and finals, or 99% in the class because "No one is perfect". I can see their heads exploding even as I type this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Attack of the Killer Tomato Plants

These tomato plants are right outside our front door. Actually, this year, they are blocking our front door. Because they are doing so well, we have decided to just deal with it rather than cut them back. Crazy, I know! But if you knew my deep rooted love for tomatoes, you would understand! I eat tomatoes with everything. In fact, I will eat a bowl of tomatoes for breakfast, or during a movie, or for lunch, as a replacement for grapes, with sandwiches, as my 'veggie' for dinner. The other night I had roasted chicken, asparagus, mixed vegetables, a salad with tomatoes, and that's right, more tomatoes with a pinch of salt for good measure. So yeah, my love for GOOD tomatoes runs pretty deep. Most store bought tomatoes have very little flavor, but the home grown variety burst with flavor!

Shawn and I started off with 11 tomato plants this year, and have yet to give any away. And yeah, I haven't canned anything or made anything but salad with the tomatoes and eaten them raw. If they are on the counter from picking, I will pass by the kitchen and grab one and eat it (mostly the small ones, the larger ones deserve to be cut up and sprinkled with a tiny bit of salt, but of course eaten raw). I said we 'started off' with 11, we now have 13-15 I think. This is because a few tomatoes from our crop last season made it into the soil and decided to pop up halfway through this growing season. So now we have a few more than planned. In fact, one tomato plant decided it wanted to cross pollinate so now we have a different variety than what we have ever had before, but I must admit, they are AWESOME!!!

In the picture, the first one on the left is our standard round tomato. I think they are called early girl tomatoes. The second is a small variety of Roma tomatoes. The middle is our crosspollinated tomato, let's call that one "Yummy in my Tummy" tomato (well, let's work on that name). The third is your standard cherry or grape tomato, and the last one, Mr. Yellow, is from our last years crop (they popped up again too).

Our plan for next year includes all of these varieties, plus about 10 more plants of a hearty variety so we can grow more than I can eat and use the leftovers for canning during the season. Next year we should have tomatoes everywhere we look at our house, not that we already don't.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Double Dipping

A couple of weeks ago Shawn and I were watching Food Detectives on the Food Network. While the host of the show, Ted Allen, is a horrendous host, some of the stuff they cover is pretty interesting. Double dipping, is it really that big of a deal? In short, YES! As most of us have probably known for a while, double dipping causes bacteria to be spread from one person to the next. This essentially means that if people are double dipping, dipping a chip or cracker into something, taking a bite, and dipping it again, they are spreading their saliva throughout the bowl of dip or salsa. Uh, YUCK!!!!!

Here is an article from the New York Times to confirm what I'm talking about. Click Here!

Now time for a confession: I have long hated eating out of communal bowls at parties. I can obviously handle eating out of the same bowl as my husband, and certain married couples that I know and hang out with quite a bit. But I try to avoid eating out of the same bowl as anyone else, or sharing drinks for that matter. People are sometimes offended, yes, but as my close friends can probably tell you, I avoid doing this because I don't like other people's germs. It's a psychological thing really. Why can some of us choke down chocolate covered grasshoppers and others not? It's a psychological issue.

Heck, my friends and family can probably reveal to you, for that matter, that I sanitize my bathroom all the time even though it's just my husband and I living in our house, and I sanitize especially after someone else uses my bathroom. At motels/hotels I bring bleach and my own sanitizing wipes, as I revealed to my friend Jaymie a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully she understood where I was coming from, because she does the same thing. :) But here's the issue - I like my stuff clean! It's as simple as that. Yes my house is cluttered. Yes I can stand to vacuum up the dog hair on a more consistent basis. Yes I can stand to dust more. Even though my house may be all those things, the places that 'matter' are sterilized, not only for my protection but for the protection of my guests. Double dipping falls into this category, I want my food 'clean'. I don't mind, at all, people dipping a chip or cracker into a communal bowl, but for heaven's sake, PLEASE DON'T DOUBLE DIP!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chicken Stuffed with Dried Apricots and Gorgonzola

I just came up with a recipe. Chicken stuffed with chopped pieces of dried apricots and slices of gorgonzola cheese. It's still in the oven, but when it comes out I will let y'all know how it is. But in the meantime, here's the recipe:

2 chicken breasts
6 dried apricots chopped
gorgonzola cheese, about 3 ounces
10 buttery crackers (like Club, or Ritz)
1 Tb. flour
1 egg beaten

Cut a pocket into the chicken breasts and fill it with the apricots and gorgonzola cheese. Crumble the crackers, then add the flour, salt and pepper to taste and place onto a dish. Once the chicken is filled, dip the chicken breasts in the egg, then into the cracker mixture. If need be, stick a toothpick through the opening in the chicken. Throw it into the oven at 350-375 for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through. (I would give you a time frame on cooking the chicken, but I simply don't know. I always cook chicken until the tempertaure reads about 180 degrees.)

The verdict: The husband really liked it. I however, thought that a milder cheese would have worked a bit better so the sweetness of the apricots could have come through a little more. But, all in all it's a keeper. If the husband likes it, heck, it's a keeper. Nothin' more to say!

Update: You know what would go really good in the stuffing of this recipe? Some chopped pecans. Not too many, but enough to taste. Hmmm, I will have to try that next time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Birth Order and Personalilty Traits

In my quest for understanding, I have begun to read a bit about birth order and personality traits. I have read very little about this personally, but I have had extensive conversations with friends who have completed their MA degrees in Counseling/Psychology and who are working on their Marriage and Family Therapy Licenses (and let me tell you, they are none too shy to talk about subject such as this). This is NO WAY makes be an expert, or even a credible resource for that matter. But, when I observe people's communication behaviors, I search for meaning - a deeper meaning than writing off one's personality as, "Oh, that's just so and so's personality". I truly believe that we act as we are trained. Or, in short, our behaviors are directly linked to our past experiences.

For example, my extreme fear of loss is a direct result of my father's suicide. I have just recently figured out, within the last week or so, that I am terrified of loss. This is not just death, but any kind of loss (loss of friendship, loss of a loved one, and even people close to me moving away). About a year before my dad's suicide my grandmother passed away and went to be with Jesus. I wasn't bothered by that too much, which know sounds terrible. I miss her terribly, and wish everyday that we can have one last conversation. But, it was only after my dad's death that I become fearful of loss because of the extreme emotions I felt immediately following his death. But let's not delve too deeply into my psyche at this point.

Getting back to my point.....I have been observing conversational patterns in people, or the semantics of conversations if you will, for a couple of years, especially with my students. Why do some people have a tendency to talk about certain subjects repetitively (namely themselves or thier experiences or how much they have accomplished...nor not for that matter)? It seems that some people are chameleons and can converse about anything. And then there are other people who repetitively talk about things, perhaps about themselves, and who are seemingly uncomfortable talking about other things. But, the nature of conversations is interesting. For those that can converse about seemingly anything, they almost never steer the conversation back to them. But those that feel a bit uncomfortable talking about extraneous things, the conversation comes back to a conversation about them, their lives, and only what they are familiar with in their world. But my question is why? Why do some have a tendency to take on pattern A, while others take on pattern B? (I'm know that there are more patterns of conversations, but these are the two I am focusing on right now).

My idea, and that's simply what it is, an idea at this point, is that there are patterns set up from past experiences. And, these experiences have to do with how someone was raised. Therefore, birth order may have something to do with it. Adler's theories can explain some of this, in a parallel way almost to conversational patterns. But Thurstone came up with the idea of the Big Five personality traits which seem a bit more comprehensive. I know, I know, there are many more ideas and explinations for how people behave, which can contain a deeper explination of 'conversational styles' - or behavoirs for that matter. My friends are constantly talking about personality types, enneagrams, and many other theories for that matter than can explain behviors and patterns of conversation for that matter. After all, when a person talks, what spills out is who they are esentially. (Of course this is my limited connection between communication and psychology). For those of you that are out there, who have MUCH more knowledge about this than I, what do you think?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cheesecake Cookie Cups

Alright ladies and gentlemen, here's an awesome recipe I found on It is cookie at the bottom and cheesecake at the top. As is my nature, I can't follow a recipe exactly, but I did change it to suit my needs. I bought Nestle Brownie Bites and put those at the bottom. Other users have said to use sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies and other stuff if you'd like. But, at least here's the original recipe so you can see it, and of course, change it as you see fit! :) Oh yeah, I also did not use the pie filling.

  • 12 pieces NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar Dough
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup NESTLE CARNATION Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
  1. PREHEAT oven to 325 degrees F. Paper-line 12 muffin cups.
  2. PLACE one piece of cookie dough in each muffin cup.
  3. BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookie has spread to edge of cup.
  4. BEAT cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla extract in medium bowl until smooth. Pour about 3 tablespoons cream cheese mixture over each cookie in cup.
  5. BAKE for additional 15 to 18 minutes or until set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Top with pie filling. Refrigerate for 1 hour.


After a couple of years on Xanga I have finally decided to leave. I am now using the following blog:

Please drop by and let me know what you think. :)

Any post prior to this one was taken from my Xanga blog.

What's it about?

I have conceded. I used to blog on Xanga, but I have made the switch. Blogspot is much more user friendly, and almost everyone I know blogs on blogspot.....even me for my online classes. Why did it take so much time to transfer? Well, I'm glad you asked. Laziness, pure laziness. So, while I get everything transfered over, please be patient.

To answer the burning question...what's this blog gonna be about? IDK my bff Jill (ugghhh, I hated that commercial). Back to the point, it's gonna be about whatever I want it to be about. Cooking, crafts, remodeling, God, funny musings about life, the stupid things people do or say etc.... Is this blog gonna make a million dollars? No! But it may be entertaining at times. So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy!