Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cats, Coffee, Computer

I'm not sure there is a better way to spend a Sunday morning than by drinking a cuppa java...

...while snuggling with my cats...

... as I play on the computer...

Hey Look! That is me and my bestie Kelsey when we finished the Helvetia Half Marathon in June! That is the cover pic on my Blurb Column Facebook page...if you haven't already you should jump on over there and like the page! I post things on Blurb Column's Facebook page that don't get posted on my personal Facebook page.

Also, while we are at it you can also find/follow me on:


I'll be back later with a weekend review!

BUT...just a reminder:

Once Upon A Time premiers tonight at 8 on ABC! This is one of the best shows on television right now and I am 100% willing to miss part of the Giants/Eagles game tonight to watch this instead. Now that should tell you something! Seriously, set your DVR and watch this show!

Uhm. Hm.

I just remembered, I am going to miss both the Giants/Eagles game AND the premier of Once Upon A Time (better double check my DVR!) because Chris and I are going to go see George Thorogood and the Destroyers tonight!

Ah well...if I'm going to miss them I might as well miss them for awesome live entertainment, right?

Are you watching the game tonight? Excited for the premier of your favorite show? Or doing something else entirely?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall Term 2012

Well kids, I survived week one of 11 of Fall Term 2012!

I am registered for 24 credits (no that is not a typo) but 8 of them are the credits I get for doing my internship over the summer. I still need to write a 12 page research paper/report about my experience and how it relates to communication, but I don't have any "in-class" time associated with 8 of those credits.

I am taking four other classes, 3 on campus and one online.

First up is Using GIS in Business, which seems like it is going to be a pretty awesome class where we actually use Geographic Information Systems to map all kinds of neat-o things, and actually do a term project utilizing the stuff we learn. I'm already excited about this class!

Next is Negotiation, where I will be learning some of the do's and don'ts of good negotiation skills. Also should be a good class, taught by one of my favorite instructors and has many students in it that I am friendly with. This class will have quite a bit of work associated with it, including a project, but I'm interested to see what I learn.

Then I have Non-Verbal Communication, taught by the same instructor. This class I already love/hate. I love it because it has so much valuable information, but I hate it (not really) because it makes me THINK. My assumptions are questioned (not a bad thing) and I am pushed to evaluate myself and others in a different way. I actually really like this and am really looking forward to what else I can get out of this class. This class is also fairly work intensive, but hopefully the work will provide value and not just be busy work.

Lastly, I have Principles of Human Resource Management. This is a class that I actually hope I get to learn some more specifics about HR than I have in my previous business classes. There is some busy-work to this class, which is annoying, but typical.

After this term I have (as far as I know and have been told by my advisor) ONE class left to take in Winter term. And technically, if I wasn't working on the Human Resource Management Certificate, I would be done the end of this term. I will have enough credits and all the required courses for both my Communication degree and my Conflict Resolution certificate. WOOHOO! I'm almost done! I will  have completed 2 years worth of higher education in 6 consecutive terms.

The other big news of the day is that today Christopher and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary! Yep, 15 years ago today I married my best friend and the greatest guy a gal could ask for. He is still my bestie today, and I'm so glad to have him in my life.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday Tumble

Yesterday was kind of a rough day for me.

I started a "diet" on Monday which means I am detoxing all the crap (sugar, alcohol, etc) from my system. Anytime I do this I get a raging headache for a couple of days as the toxins and crap leave my system. It is super fun.

I get up a while later and take some advil with some water. I know advil is not on my detox but sometimes ya just gotta do what ya just gotta do.

I went back to bed.

The headache did not abate.

I was miserable.

Then I got really hot and sweaty.

And then...

I realized I was going to be sick.

Oh yes. It was lovely.

Around 4:30 in the morning (having been awake the whole time) I am up and sick. Blech.

I feel much better after this and finally get back to sleep.

I get up and get ready for my day at school, feeling totally fine. Although, I am running a smidge late due to sleeping a bit later than normal due to the middle of the night shenanigans.

As I am rushing to class, wearing a dress and sandals, out of no where...

I fall down.

Yes. On the ground.

In front of a bunch of people.

In a dress.

On the pavement.

So embarrassing.

Like a six year old I skinned and bloodied my knee and the palm of my hand.

I head to class (I'm running late remember?) and I rush in and sit down, thinking all the time that my knee is just scraped.


A little while later I look down and see that my knee is covered in a big glob of oozing blood and nasty.

So gross.

PLUS: this class sits in a circle, so almost everyone in the room could see my nasty, bloody, scraped up knee.

This picture was taken after I got home and cleaned it all up. I did go out of class at the break and clean it up a bit, but it was still oozing. The front of my knee is all swollen and there is a big bruise underneath the scrape. My shin and the front of my ankle are also scraped, and my left palm has a gouge in it.

And now it is sore and the skin is all stiff.


How was your Tuesday or Wednesday? Today was a good day...still have a headache, but I'm hanging in there. Plus I "met" another cousin of mine at school today, which was cool.

We are on the downhill side of the week!!

Potato and Green Bean Salad

Happy Wednesday! 

The kittens and school are taking up all my time, so it has taken me a bit to get this post together. It is pretty photo-lite because honestly, I didn't think you needed lots of photos of how to boil potatoes and chop up green beans. 

This recipe is again from the most recent Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication on newsstands now. No, I am not getting anything from BHG by plugging this, I just think they put out some really great recipes!

This potato salad is an Italian style potato salad. It is not heavy at all, and has no mayonnaise. BHG calculated the recipe at six servings with 186 calories per serving, which is not too shabby when talking potato salad.

One reason I was drawn to this potato salad is that I had all the ingredients on hand, and most of it was fresh from my own garden. I was excited to try it out using all that delicious fresh garden produce! I used my own potatoes, green beans, garlic, tomatoes and basil! Nice.

Also, I was glad to have another recipe to use anchovy paste with. I have another dressing I make with anchovy paste (it is not gross, trust me!) but I'm glad to have more ways to use it up. Plus this basic dressing could be used on many different salads, or even as a marinade. 

Although my picture is not near as pretty as the fully styled magazine photo, the salad itself was delicious! Very fresh and different from a typical picnic style potato salad. I would definitely make this again! 

The dressing consists of grated lemon peel, lemon juice, the olive oil, capers, garlic, anchovy paste and pepper. Shake it up or mix it and you have your dressing. The salad itself is potatoes, boiled, hard boiled eggs, green beans cooked, and tomatoes, olives and fresh basil! Mix it all together, let it set for a bit, and enjoy!

The recipe made enough for Chris and I to have dinner, plus about three servings of leftovers later in the week. It kept well in the fridge and didn't get mushy.

Do you like potato salad? Are you a mayo based potato salad fan, or some other style?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Additions

I would like to introduce you to the newest additions here at Casa Beebe: Daisy May & Roscoe.

They are also the reason I didn't get the blog post up yet about the second recipe I made from the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. It was also a good recipe and I will get it posted in the next day or two.
This is Daisy May, laying on her back and showing off her little belly right before she zonked out.

This is Roscoe, my little handsome boy. 

He is a cutie bug, and such a snuggler!

They are a handful!

They play, eat, poop, sleep, play, eat, poop, sleep...repeat.

They are siblings, about three months old, and weigh about 4 lbs each.
Miss Roxie is unimpressed with the new additions, although she is getting used to them a bit more each day.
Are you a cat person, dog person, or some other kind of pet lover?
I'll be back soon with a new recipe.
Go Ravens!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Baked Fennel with Parmesan

Last year I bought a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication about this time of year. It was all about vegetables. As I thumbed through it I came across several recipes I wanted to try. The first one I made was a veggie pasta. It was delicious! It was easy and customizable to any number of combinations. That recipe inspired many other pasta and veggie dishes since. Another recipe from that magazine was Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash, which is delicious and I have made several times.

I was at the store the other day and saw the most recent edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest magazine with a delicious looking pasta and meatballs on the front cover. I bought it. Impulse buying at its best! But SO totally worth it!

I have already made TWO recipes from this magazine, and like the recipes from last years magazine they are complete winners!! I highly suggest you run down to your local bookstore, or where ever you buy magazines and pick up the current Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest magazine before it is gone! And no, I am not getting any thing from BHG, this is completely my opinion.

So, the first recipe I made is Baked Fennel with Parmesan. Like the last recipe I made (Fried Green Tomatoes), you kinda have to already like fennel to make this recipe. But, even if you don't, you should try it because it is delicious!!! Words we used to describe it were: pasta like, meaty, savory, amazing, etc.

I served this with a grilled NY steak, lightly seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper, topped with grilled mushrooms and alongside a tomato, cucumber, feta salad. The entire dinner came together as an amazingly delicious meal.

For the Baked Fennel with Parmesan you will need 3-4 medium fennel bulbs, a small-medium onion. garlic, butter, half n half,nutmeg, Parmesan-reggiano cheese, salt, pepper and if you are so inclined, Italian parsley and toasted walnuts. I am not a fan at ALL of walnuts, so I skipped that. Preheat your oven to 425* and put a pretty good size pot of water on to boil. Also, pull out a casserole or other shallow dish and grease it. The recipe calls for butter, but I just used a quick spray of Pam.

 First, gather all your ingredients together.

It is hard to find Parmesan-reggiano down here so I used a blend of Parmesan and Romano cheeses.

Start with chopping up the fennel into thinish wedges. Whack the bulb end off of the stem. The stems are not normally used, but you can use the fronds (the thin wispy bits) on the stalks like you would any other fresh herb to season the final dish.

To core the fennel make a diagonal cut just to the outside of the root, and then another on the other side.

Then slice into wedges.

Slice a medium (the recipe calls for sweet, I just used regular yellow) onion into wedges and add both fennel and wedges to a pot of boiling water. Boil for five minutes or so until the fennel is soft. Drain well.

Add the cooked fennel and onion to the casserole dish and then pour half n half over the top, sprinkle with nutmeg, and then the cheese. Dot with butter and then bake for about 15 minutes, or until everything is heated through and the cheese is melty.

That's it! Fairly quick and OH SO DELISH!

 As I said, I paired this with a delicious grilled NY steak, which Chris and I split.

I had cooked some bacon earlier in the day and the pan was still on the stove with the leftover bacon drippings in it. I knew I wanted to saute some mushrooms to go with the steak. Epiphany! Add the mushrooms to some of the bacon drippings. Oh em gee. SO tasty!

Along with that I decided the plate would need a bit more color, and that I have a ton of tomatoes and cucumbers just sitting around waiting to be used. I chopped some cukes and tomatoes threw them in a bowl and added a bit of salt, pepper and feta. Stir it up. Voila! A delicious and colorful, salty, cold, crunchy and creamy side dish.

 The finished plate looked something like this....

The entire dinner got rave reviews from both of us, but the Baked Fennel with Parmesan is definitely a keeper! Thanks Better Homes and Gardens for the delicious recipe! I can't wait to make it again.

Oh, it is equally delicious warmed up the next day. Yay leftovers!

Do you like or loathe fennel? I love it! I have another great recipe for a Steak, Fennel & Arugula Sandwich that is amazing! What is your favorite fennel recipe??

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes

Chris and I planted a variety of tomatoes this year. We planted German Green, Mortgage Lifter, Black Krim, Big Rainbow, Roma, Grape, Cherry, and one other variety I can't remember the name of.

I love tomatoes and having my own fresh tomatoes to make salsa with, eat on a sandwich, and add to other foods, plus what I smoke and freeze, makes me a happy happy girl.

One thing Chris and I had never tried was Fried Green Tomatoes. We have talked about it every year we have planted tomatoes, but had never, for one reason or another, actually made it. This year, we decided, was the year.

I went to my favorite recipe site, My Recipes, and searched for fried green tomatoes. I came across several recipes but the one that caught my eye was Fried Green Tomatoes with Bread and Butter Pickle Remoulade.

I wanted to use this one because of all of the bread and butter pickles and sweet relish I had canned from our own cucumbers.

You can click the link above to see the actual recipes.

We started by slicing three large German Green tomatoes in fairly thick slices. Then each side was sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, I had a cast iron skillet with about an inch of vegetable oil heating on the stove. It needs to heat to about 350*, but be careful because if it gets too hot it will start to smoke and burn. This is not good. Also, preheat the oven to 200* and place a rack or pan in there to put your cooked tomatoes on. You will be cooking in batches unless you have the worlds largest iron skillet and you will want to keep the tomatoes warm. I took some foil and put it underneath a wire cooling rack and stuck it in the oven. I didn't want to drip oil in my oven but I didn't want the tomatoes to sit in their own oil and get soggy either. 
The  next step is to get the coating ready. This recipe calls for 2 cups flour, 1 cup corn meal, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and a tablespoon of creole seasoning. I saw that some recipes use an egg instead of buttermilk, and panko instead of cornmeal.

One cup of flour and the cup of cornmeal are mixed in a shallow dish (pick a rather good sized dish) along with the creole seasoning. In another shallow bowl place the buttermilk, and in a third shallow dish place the remaining cup of flour.

Not a great picture, but you get the idea. The largest dish contains the flour/cornmeal mixture. The next step is the messy step, where you dredge the tomatoes first in the flour, then the buttermilk, and then the flour/cornmeal mixture to coat them.

This is messy and you will get gooey, sticky, gross fingers. It is helpful to have a kitchen partner at this point because one person can do the dredging while the other person keeps their fingers clean and does the cooking.

Dredge the tomatoes and then add 3-4 (depending on the size of the tomatoes and the size of your skillet) to the heated oil. You don't want to over crowd them. Your oil should be hot and should  start to sizzle and fry as soon as you add the tomatoes.

Cook the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes per side. You need to monitor the heat of the oil. Every time you add tomatoes the heat will drop. We have a laser tool that Chris has that gives us a digital instant read that we used to monitor the temperature.

BE CAREFUL when you flip the tomatoes!!! This is HOT boiling oil and it will BURN you if you splatter. Use a fork and a spatula to help ease the tomatoes over without splashing. Once the tomatoes are cooked on both sides use a slotted spatula or spoon to remove them carefully from the oil. I tilted the spatula a bit to let the oil drain off. Place the cooked tomatoes in the preheated oven while you go on to the next batch. I flipped the tomatoes over so that the oil on the top would drain off. I wasn't looking for oil-sogged fried tomatoes.

Keep cooking the tomatoes in batches until they are all done.

To make the remoulade, which I know sounds a bit interesting flavor-wise, gather your ingredients and mix them all together. Pretty simple.

The recipe calls for one cup mayo, 1/4 cup creole mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh parsley, fresh chive, hot sauce, salt, pepper and of course, chopped bread and butter pickles. I used a tablespoon of my homemade sweet relish, which is nearly the same as bread and butter pickles, but already chopped. Mix it all together and you have a tasty sauce!

Now that all the tomatoes are cooked and the sauce is ready it is time to eat!

I served them alongside the last of my homemade garden coleslaw.

So how was it?

Very good, if you like tomatoes. :-)  I thought the deep fried texture and taste reminded me of a BLT sandwich. Chris thought it reminded him of a good tomato soup with crunchy crackers; he went back for seconds.

The tomatoes were excellent both with and without the remoulade. The remoulade was slightly sweet and added a very nice creamy component to the crunchy-fried tomatoes. I would take the time to make it again. I have left overs and can see using it as a dip or as a sandwich spread.

One thing I would do differently is to use a finer grind of cornmeal. I think mine is a medium grind and it made the breading a bit...crunchy. A finer grind would have contributed the good flavor but been less intrusive in the mouth feel of the breading.

Overall, this is a very tasty recipe and one I will make again, but probably not regularly. It is a bit time intensive, more so than what I would typically want to spend on a busy weeknight, and it is fried, which is not the healthiest of options. It is delicious, and Chris and I both agree that it will be on our menu in the future as a treat meal.

Do you like or loathe tomatoes? Have you ever had fried green tomatoes? What is your favorite way to eat tomatoes? I don't have a favorite. I love them in everything!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thrifty Shopping

I hate to spend money on clothes. I hate clothes shopping.

I think what retail stores charge for clothing is downright ridiculous.

That is why I LOVE stores like Old Navy, Target, and Ross for clothes shopping.

I also recently found several consignment shops in Medford and have enjoyed shopping there and finding deals!

Here are some pictures of things I have picked up recently. Please forgive the picture quality. I tried. I really did. I used different flash and tried different rooms and I am just a bad photographer. Sorry. I really should take a class.

First up:

I bought this dress at a consignment shop for $15. It was in perfect condition, fits great, and has a pretty dark brown, light brown and teal blue floral pattern on it. I have already worn it several times and am looking forward to dressing it a bit differently for fall. For summer, at work, I wore a tan half cardigan, and dark brown wedge sandals.

For fall, I'm thinking something more like this:

I bought the jacket at the same consignment shop for $8. Yes. $8. It is a GAP brand, fully lined, structured jacket. It is in perfect condition, in fact it looks like it has never even been worn. It might bee "too" structured for this lightweight dress, but I can also see it with jeans and boots. It is a nice fall jacket. Below that I have an awesome pair of brown knee-high boots I picked up at Ross for, I think, $24.99. They are a beautiful chocolate brown, with a gold round buckle and a nice chunky sole. I also, though it is hard to see in the picture, have a pair of brown leggings on the chair. I bought those at Ross for $5.99. They are ankle-length, and more opaque than tights, but are not for wearing alone like pants. Even if I don't wear this exact outfit, you get the idea of how this dress can be made more versatile by adding a little jacket and some leggings.

Here is a closer shot of the jacket:

Here are two dresses that I recently bought at Ross for $15.99 each. I love the stretchy fabric and the draping across the waist which is figure flattering. I think both of these can be dressed for fall as well, with the addition of a black jacket/sweater, tights and the right shoes or ankle boots maybe.

The patterns are both figure flattering as well, giving the eye some diversion and masking the lines of the body somewhat. The color on the floral is a very pretty lime green. Chris really liked this dress.

Next we move more definitively into fall and winter with some dresses that are heavier material and styling. I can imagine these with some great jewelry, long-sleeved shirts underneath, leggings, boots, maybe scarves. The pictures suck, but the dresses are cute! Oh, Ross, $15.99 each. Yup. Can't beat the price tag!

This sweater dress is probably my favorite of the three. I totally wasn't sure about it, but I tried it on and then paired it with the leggings and boots and am almost excited for cooler weather so I can wear it! *almost*.

Here is an idea of the styling:

Sweater dress with grey leggings and black boots. Could add a grey or black long-sleeved shirt underneath. Could also potentially add a big belt, although I'm not much of a belt girl.

The dress has lots of colors in it...grey is kind of the predominant color, but there are also a lot of brown undertones. I think, depending on how it is styled, brown boots, leggings, and a brown long-sleeved shirt could also be worn.

It is hard to see in the pictures, but this dress has a black/white tiny check pattern. It looks more black in person, but more grey in the photo. I think it could be styled with grey or black leggings, boots, a grey, black or white undershirt...or for someone a little more adventurous with their clothing than I or yellow accent pieces. I see black tights with some bright red mary jane style heels, and some great accessories.

Here is a closer shot of my boots. The black pair I bought from Target last year. They are not terribly comfortable (no cushion inside) but they are super cute!

And lastly, a sweater with an original retail price of almost $50 that I purchased at Ross for $14.99. I love bargains!!

It is a big chunky knit with that structure-less look that is so popular right now. The draped neckline is huge, big enough to wrap over my head like a hood if I wanted to. It is very soft and comfortable. I see this paired with some great jeans, boots, any number of undershirts with some awesome necklaces to set it off. It is done with black and white thread giving it this grey/neutral tone. A very colorful undershirt could be worn without being overwhelming, or a neutral tone shirt with bright jewelry, one of those statement necklaces everyone is sporting.

Oh yeah, I bought ALL of this stuff, every piece, including the leggings and  both pairs of boots for less than $250.  If you average it out, that means I paid less than $18 for each item, and actually a bit less than that because I rounded up to $250.

While I hate clothes shopping, I love finding great bargains. I also love finding clothes that are versatile and can create multiple outfits, with just a little bit of accessorizing.

With these items, plus a few more I am looking to purchase over the next few weeks (another pair of jeans, some long sleeved shirts) I will be more than ready for fall and winter.

Do you love or hate shopping? Are you a bargain shopper? I hate garage sales, but discount retail is my idea of shopping heaven!