Monday, November 22, 2010

Snowflake Soap Giveaway

First Time Fancy is doing a cute snowflake soap giveway. Go here to check it out and try to snag a couple for yourself!

Truth be told, these soaps remind me of my first Christmas as a newlywed. I was a little crazy. I made 30 homemade peppermint candy cane soaps, 30 containers of hot chocolate and like 500 Christmas cookies. Second year, I toned it down. A little. Instead of homemade soaps and hot chocolate, I bought 30 packages of Paperwhite Lilies in September and had all of them planted and forced to bloom by the week of Christmas. And I probably made 350 cookies instead. Our guest room looked like a makeshift greenhouse. The year after I toned it down again. I made homemade Chinese take-out boxes and filled them with baked goods. And then year four happened. Grad school killed all expectations of splendor. I managed to get my Christmas cards out the first week of December, but no one received homemade gifts. Well, this year I am up to my old tricks. There's a small part of me that is itching to make some homemade gifts again. Of course this will be done in addition to 200 Christmas cookies, Christmas cards, and meaningful gift giving. I might be certifiably nuts. And of course I can't tell you what I'm thinking about making - I'd hate to ruin the surprise if you happen to be on the receiving end of all my craziness :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Favorite Places to Eat in Des Moines

I love food. I love eating out. If given the opportunity, I'd eat out every chance I get. But I can't. Because we'd be poor.

Here are my list of favorites (some glamorous, some not):

  • Centro - be still my beating heart, their Chocolate Creme Brulee
  • Flying Mango - Cajun Shrimp & Dirty Rice
  • Ban Thai - Cashew Nut Chicken
  • El Rodeo - Chicken Chimichanga
  • Noodle Zoo - love all their soups
  • Z'Mariks - Pesto bowl and their Teriyaki bowl
  • Hickory Park - sometimes with their mashed potatoes I feel like I've died and gone to heaven (yes, not DM, but still fab)
  • Dublin Bay - best and most wonderful Cottage Pie I've ever had (also not DM, I know)

Where is your favorite place to eat?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Work appropriate

This shouldn't come as a huge surprise, but I've caused two separate emails from our human resources department about clothing. Keep in mind, nothing I wear to work (rather, nothing I wear as a whole) is skanky. On the first occasion, they addressed the issue of wearing shorts to work. This was just after I started. None of the shorts that I wear to work are inappropriate - they are all bermuda short length and in dressier fabrics. No denim cutoffs or daisy dukes. Really, I'm smarter than that. I would never wear that to work.

However, I didn't even consider my latest dress code issue to be a problem at all. As many women know, the leggings+tunic combo is all the rage. 1) Leggings are comfortable 2) Leggings are a nice alternative to tights or jeans or pants 3) Leggings, when paired with a tunic or other longer top that covers your derriere, is a cute combo. Unbeknownst to me, leggings are not workplace appropriate. At least not for my workplace. It makes me chuckle to think that I push the dress code to the extreme that HR has to send out scolding emails every time the season changes. Our dress code is pretty lax and I don't ever think that what I wear is inappropriate, however HR must disagree with me! Alas, if only our HR department had a fashion consultant to clue them into what's cute for the season :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

My parents are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary on Nov 14. They were babies when the got married - my mom was only 18! It was fun to help them celebrate their 40th - I put an ad in their local town paper and also in the bigger city paper. I also sent out postcards to everyone in my mom's address book. I talked to her the other night and she had said that they had been getting lots of cards in the mail. It was a fun surprise for them. Much more fun than a party - which my parents are not party people, so a card shower was a much better idea.
Over the years they've experienced a lot and been many places. My parents are currently on a trip to South Carolina to celebrate their anniversary. The recent picture below is taken in 2009 in Hawaii. Congrats Mom & Dad on 40 years together - how time flies! Here's to many more anniversaries - I love you guys!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

Mmm... nothing says comfort food like baked potato soup. Especially with fresh bread. This baked potato soup was different from my normal baked potato soup. Typically I make a Betty Crocker version that starts off with a chicken broth base - no roux. And it's good, but it's not thick or creamy. If you are looking for a potato soup version that is rich and hearty - this is your recipe. A couple of additional thoughts - you can save yourself time by doing your baked potatoes ahead of time or by using leftover baked potato innards. Also, we did not have any bacon at the time and I do think that potato soup needs bacon. Then again, I'm a firm believer in most things bacon. Therefore, I could be a little biased :)

Baked Potato Soup Ingredients
4 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
4 green onions, chopped
12 slices bacon, crisp-fried and crumbled
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream

Bake potatoes until tender; cool. Scoop out pulp into a small bowl.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; stir in flour. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the milk gradually. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring regularly. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the potato pulp, 2 tablespoons green onions, 1/2 cup of the bacon, and 1 cup of the cheese. Cook till heated through.
Stir in sour cream (do not boil after this point otherwise soup will separate and generally be gross). Sprinkle each serving with reserved green onions, bacon, and cheese.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"If it smells like Funk it must be us"

Ah, the wisdom of Fergie and her Black Eyed Pea friends. So wise, so deep :) Sometimes in life we fall into a rut and need a little pick me up. Generally sleep deprivation or a crappy day at work can attribute to my funk-iness. Here are my personal pick me up suggestions:

1. Christmas music.
2. Non-fat, no whip, White Chocolate Mocha
3. A cookie.
4. 30 minutes of some sort of mindless tv.
5. Throwing piles of accumulated junk into the trash.
6. Fuzzy therapy ala Fire
7. 10 minutes of perusing old Calvin & Hobbes comic strips.
8. Skirt twirling.
9. 15 minute walk combined with Glee soundtrack singing.
10. "Be at rest once more, o my soul, for the Lord has been good to you" Psalm 116:7

What are your mood boosters?

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I like to think that I'm eclectic in my music tastes, but recent amazon downloads would indicate differently. In fact, amazon has been my new BFF recently with the purchase of Lance's Christmas present (which is going to be AWESOME!), a used Lindsey Lohan "Freaky Friday" dvd, a $10 renewal to Real Simple and 3 new country albums. It's just hard when amazon has some really fantastic online deals!

Here are my latest additions to my music collection:

But with Taylor Swift & Sugarland at $3.99 and Little Big Town at $5, it's cheaper than itunes and cheaper than buying the physical cd. Love it! The moral of the story is this: amazon is the place to be.