Sunday, April 26, 2009

Long walk with Xander

Chris and I walked Xander this morning, and we found a fenced in area at the school where we decided to let him off his leash so he could run. He did a lot of sniffing (that's the hound in him!), but then he also ran for a few short bursts. It was really funny to watch him go tearing across the lawn. Now he's completely knackered and is resting on the wood floor where I imagine it's nice and cool. Hopefully this will help keep with his behavior problems a little bit.

I don't think I mentioned that the other day we finally put him on anti-anxiety medication. Chris got home on Monday and found that he had gotten into the garbage and spread it throughout the house. (My fault for not tying the garbage bin shut.) If the meds don't work, I really don't know what we'll do with him. I'm *this close* to finding a new home for him, and I NEVER thought I'd say that about any animal.

I have to admit, the walk felt pretty good for me, too! The weather is gorgeous and I need to keep exercising. I'm starting to get fat... ;)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Giveaway!

In honor of Earth Day, check out the My Sentiments ExactLee blog and enter her giveaway!

Simplest Loaf Cake

I got this recipe out of the Parade magazine that comes in the Sunday paper. I haven't tried it, but I'd like to, so I'm going to post it here and then throw away the paper copy (since it will get lost in my "drawer-'o-recipes" anyway! (And of course I'll substitute some of the ingredients with healthier choices).

Serve this easy cake plain, with ice cream and berries, or toast it and spread it with jam.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 flavorless oil, such as canola

1) Preheat oven to 350 and generously butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pan (6 cup capacity). In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

2) Whisk the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla together until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Finally, pour in the oil and use the whisk to gently but thoroughly fold it into the batter.

3) Put the batter in the loaf pan and bake 50-55 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 min, then unmold and cool to room temp right side up.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Back when I was in high school, I used to make Cinnamon Rolls from scratch on Christmas morning. I had an extra packet of yeast from when I made King Cake for Mardi Gras, so I decided to mix up a batch of Cinnamon Rolls for Chris.

I made the dough, rolled it up, sliced it into individual rolls, then froze the dough. Last night I took a few out and put them in a baking dish in the oven (oven wasn't on, but I wanted to put them in an enclosed space) to thaw and rise. This morning we had a pan full of puffy rolls, which I then put in the toaster oven to bake. They turned out well...probably could have used a bit more cinnamon and sugar, but I think next time I'll just try to roll the dough out thinner and that way I should be able to fit more "stuffing" in them.

I got this recipe from, and it was very good!,174,150187-253196,00.html

4 1/4 to 4 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Step 1: In a large mixer bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour and yeast. Heat the milk, granulated sugar, the 1/4 cup butter and salt just until mixture is warm (120 to 130 degrees) and the butter is almost melted, stirring constantly.

Step 2: Add milk mixture to flour mixture; add eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds; scrape sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can. (Dough will be soft.) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape dough into a ball.

Step 3: Place dough in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). (The dough is ready for shaping when you can lightly and quickly press two fingers 1/2 inch into dough and indentation remains.)

Step 4: Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half; shape each half into a smooth ball. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.

Step 5: On lightly floured surface roll half the dough to 12x8 inches. Spread with 3 tablespoons softened butter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over rectangle. Roll up from a short side. Seal edges. Make a second roll with remaining dough, butter and sugar mixture.

Step 6: Slice each dough roll into 8 pieces. Arrange slices, cut side down, in a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Cover; let rise until nearly double (about 30 minutes).

Step 7: Bake rolls in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until light brown. Invert at once onto a wire rack. Cool slightly. Drizzle rolls with Maple Nut Glaze or Powdered Sugar Glaze. Serve warm.

Makes 16 rolls.

Combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and enough milk (about 3 to 4 teaspoons) for drizzling consistency.
Bake and cool rolls as directed, do not glaze. Wrap in moisture and vapor proof wrap. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.

To reheat in a conventional oven, wrap frozen rolls in foil. Place in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until warm. Drizzle with your choice of glaze.

To reheat in a microwave oven, wrap 2 of the frozen rolls in microwave-safe paper towels. Micro-cook on 100% power (high) for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until warm. Drizzle with glaze.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Top Fives"

The new trend on Facebook is to pick your "Top Five" in a variety of categories. For a lot of them, it's hard to pick just 5, and for some of them, it's hard to say which ones I'd rank as my favorites.

I did one on Broadway shows, and I picked:
Avenue Q
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

But I forgot about Les Miserables and some other really great shows.

Then I was invited to do one on five concerts I've seen, so I decided to pick the five BEST shows I've seen, but even that is hard! I picked:
Collective Soul
Nickel Creek
Goo Goo Dolls
Toby Keith

But left out Sara Bareilles, Blue Man Group, Maroon 5, etc...

The hardest for me, though, is movies. I haven't done that yet, and will have to work on building my list. I'm going to use my blog to tweak my list before I post it:
Love Actually (no brainer--best movie ever made)
10 Things I Hate About You
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Austin Powers International Man of Mystery

More that I like but a little more on the serious side:
Save the Last Dance
Ever After

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tzatziki Sauce

I actually went looking for this recipe for Tzatziki on the Stonyfield Farms web site. Stonyfield Farms makes ORGANIC yogurt and it's the only kind of yogurt I buy.

If I may get up on my soapbox for a moment--Yes, organic products, including yogurt, are more expensive than non-organic products, but if we continue to spend a little more money for a better-quality product, the prices WILL come down! So think about it, and consider choosing organic next time you make a food purchase. Even if it's ONE ITEM, it still adds up. We're all in this together!

Tzatziki Sauce

A classic, creamy dip often served with traditional Greek dishes.
Try it with cut vegetables and pita wedges.


1 cup Plain Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt
2 cucumbers
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. white vinegar
2 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Peel, seed, and coarsely grate cucumbers. Drain and combine with garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Blend in the yogurt. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then serve.

From our Oikos Organic kitchen.

Noodles and Spinach with Tofu

I got this recipe from the newspaper (written by Dawn Lewandowski) a long time ago and still haven't made it.

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
1 lb frozen or fresh steamed spinach
1 to 1 1/2 lb firm tofu, in 3/4 inch cubes
2 to 4 T sesame oil
2 to 4 T tamari or soy sauce
2 to 4 t minced garlic
2 T peanut butter
2 T tahini (ground sesame)
2 t sesame seeds

For the sauce:
Pour a Tablespoon or two of sesame oil into a large frying pan or work over medium heat. Add a Tablespoon or two of tamari, a teaspoon or two of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon tahini. Stir until mixed to a thick consistency, about 30 sec.

Immediately add tofu and stir to coat. Stir intermittently, allowing tofu to brown before stirring. When tofu is browned sufficiently, remove tofu from pan and set aside, covering to keep warm.

Repeat the sauce process above, being perhaps a bit more liberal with oil and tamari. Add cooked spaghetti and mix through. Add spinach and mix again. Heat and taste test for flavor. Add tofu when spaghetti is hot. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sesame seeds. Toss and serve.

(You may use peanut butter rather than sesame oil, omit tahini, add more peanut butter and peanuts, or use only the sesame products. Works well with broccoli and other vegetables as well.)

I think this is a good place to post recipes

I have tons of recipes that are clipped from newspapers, written on index cards, or printed from web sites. I keep them all in the same place, so I know where they are, but since they're on paper of all different shapes and sizes, I always have to sift through them to find what I want.

I also have some recipes that I'd like to try, but not right away, so I have newspaper clippings with recipes I've never tried before just sitting around, always in my way.

So I decided to take a page from my friend Gina's book and post some recipes online. I don't have enough recipes, nor am I a good enough cook, to devote an entire blog to cooking and recipes, but I thought I'd just tag the posts as "recipe" posts, then I'll always know where to find them when I need them. If you find the recipes helpful, that's cool, too!

Warning--not all of my recipes are healthy, but I usually substitute some of the not-so-healthy ingredients for healthier options.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My stupid shopping trip

Oye, what a day I had yesterday. I had planned on running out to get some groceries, since we did a "lite" shopping trip on Sunday after we got home. There are some good sales at Tops that I want to take advantage of, and since I'm off this week, I thought I'd just do the more extensive shopping Monday or Tuesday. However, I didn't really have my coupons or my list together; (YES, I use coupons, and lots of them!); but I realized that if I didn't get dog food, our pooch wouldn't be able to eat brekkie today.

So I ran to Wal-Mart (icky store, but affordable) to get dog food, spaghetti, and something else (can't remember at the moment, but it doesn't really matter). When I had just about finished shopping, it hit me that I wasn't sure if I had my wallet in my purse. In fact, I didn't know where my wallet was! Having just been on holiday, I had my usual "purse stuff" in different bags and hadn't gotten everything back where it belonged. I did, however, have our checkbook in my purse, something that rarely happens, but it was in there because I had picked up Xander from the kennel.

But then I didn't know if I could write a check without my license. Thank goodness for Jarod, the cashier at the self-checkout lanes. He was incredibly helpful and kind. I think that may be the only time someone at WalMart was helpful, especially someone at the self-checkout lane. (Normally they're too busy daydreaming or talking to their friends to bother doing their jobs!) Anyway, Jarod said that I could use my social security number if I didn't have my license. Cool. Then I took out my checkbook and realized that, despite being married for six years and living in Dunkirk for 6 1/2 years, our checks still bear my maiden name and Olean address. It was all ok, though. I gave him my phone number, too, and it all worked out. I felt pretty darn stupid, though.

When I got home I found my wallet under the passenger seat of the Pilot. It probably fell out of my purse and got kicked under there when we switched drivers.

In closing, I have to say thank goodness for nice people being there when you need them. I was wishing that I had gotten one of those surveys on my receipt, because I would give a glowing review of my experience. Jarod deserves to be commended.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Help solve a dispute

Chris and I disagree about what these are called, so I'm taking a poll--what do YOU think these are? This is not a trick question. Please comment!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

NYC 4.11.09

We went to New York City today. The past couple of times we've gone to the city, we've stayed in Rockland County because we have friends here, and it's very easy to hop on a train to get there. Parking costs between $25 and $50 in the city, and then there's gas, tolls on the bridges, and the time and aggravation of getting down there. A round trip train ticket costs $12 and once we get to the city, we can take the subway almost anywhere we want to go.

Today the weather was absolutely miserable. It was cold and raining and that put a bit of a damper on my mood. The car show was incredible, though. (I should mention that while I'm a huge tree hugger, I also really love cars. It's tough when two things I love are mutually exclusive, but I will say that if I had to choose one of the two, it would be the environment.)

We saw so many exotic cars and some really neat concept cars. I was happy to see that so many car companies are putting a lot of effort into "greening" their production process and their engines. I still think we have a long way to go, but they're on the right track.

Here's a picture of Chris checking out a BMW motorcycle.

This BMW Z4 did a "painting".
I know I can't have a Mini anymore, but can Blueberry? Here's the wall where the Mini racer was...

...and here's the Mini racer
Bumblebee! (He's in Transformers)
Our lunch from Angelo's Coal Fired Pizza. We go out of our way to eat at this restaurant when we're in the city. Can you blame us? Look at that slice!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Travel Day--4.8.09

We spent the day traveling from Virginia Beach to Nanuet, so I didn't take a ton of pictures, and those I did take, I haven't offloaded yet.

We crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel this morning and headed for NY. Along the way we passed through Maryland (where I found Liz Blizz SoBe--my FAVORITE, which I can't get back home), Delaware, and New Jersey (making 11 states we've visited in 2009). We got into Nanuet between 5:30 and 6:00, then met Rob and Emily for dinner around 8 or 8:30.

One last sunrise picture...
We took another bike ride on the boardwalk, but this was a short one because it was cold and windy...
Chris, trying to stay warm on our bike ride...
A diagram of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It cost $12 to go across!
Here's one of the tunnels, which, obviously, you can't see...
Stopped at a scenic overlook on the way through the Chesapeake Bay area...

Tomorrow Chris and Rob are going to Great Adventure and I'm hanging out with Emily and Connor.

It's just after midnight and I'm not the least bit tired, but I'm going to see if I can force myself to sleep. If not, I'll get up and read some blogs I've been neglecting, and that I miss very much!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Virginia Beach--4.7.09

When I have so much going on, it's hard for me to sit down and write out what happened each day, but it's something that I hope to complete, not only so that my friends, family, and my "cyber friends"--(who are more likely than anyone to read my blog!), but so that I can have something to look back on. I told Chris that this is kind of like my online scrapbook! Anyway, the point is that I plan on posting these halfway done blog entries, but they will be updated, probably multiple times until I can get them "just right."

Tuesday morning's sunrise from our hotel window. Much better than Monday's weather, albeit much colder! (Still, we heard that there's snow in Western NY, so we're not complaining!)

We were on the road by about 8:45 so we could be at Busch Gardens when the park opened at 10:00. We needed to stop for gas along the way, too.

As we approached the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, we saw that there was an aircraft carrier in the water and it was about to go over the tunnel that we were on our way through. We were literally going through a tunnel with the George HW Bush Aircraft carrier in the water above us! When we got out the other side of the tunnel, I snapped some pictures, and here's one of them.
I took a lot of pictures of the rides at the park with our other camera, but I snapped a few with my little pocket camera. I especially loved looking at the wolves. I got video of one of them howling. It was so cute!
They also have an area filled with bald eagles who have been injured and who are unable to fly.
Here's a picture from our balcony on Tuesday evening. Nothing special, I just thought it would be nice to have a picture of our view in the evening, too!
We went to dinner at a restaurant called Doughboys, and when we got back, we saw that someone had written "Virginia 2009" in the sand right below our window, so of course, I had to get a picture of that!

Monday, April 6, 2009


We woke up to a cloudy but warm morning. We had breakfast and decided to get on the road before the rain hit. Today we went to the Outer Banks.

When we got to North Carolina, we realized that since Blueberry has been with us he/she has been to 9 different states (NY, PA, NH, VT, MA, MD, WV, VA, NC) and by the time we're done with this vacation, will have been to 11 when we add in DE and NJ. Here's when we crossed into NC.

First we came to Kitty Hawk...
Then to Kill Devil Hills....
Here's the monument to the Wright Brothers...
And the plaque about the first successful flight in an airplane...
We continued to drive's when we entered Nags Head... (I love taking pictures of signs)

And our final stop before we turned around and went back to Virginia...the Bodie Island Lighthouse.


We started the day with a beautiful view of the sunrise over the ocean...
We ate at the "deluxe continental breakfast" at the hotel (cereal, toast, and muffins--not exactly what I would call "deluxe".

We took our bikes downstairs and biked the boardwalk--about 6 beautiful miles on a nice little bike trail:
After that we changed our minds about what we would do next, but we settled on: Harbour Tour, Linda and Ray's, First Landing, then dinner with Mike.

More pictures to follow...we're getting ready to leave for another day on the road...

Ok, I'm back. Now I have to catch up on yesterday's events AND do a post with pictures from today.

Next stop on Sunday: The Harbour Tour. We drove to Norfolk and bought tickets for the Victory Rover. We had a buy one get one free coupon from the Entertainment Book! We boarded the boat at Nauticus (right next to the USS Wisconsin) a little after 10:30 and waited for the 11:00 tour. Here's a picture of Chris on the boat. You can see the Wisconsin in the background.

First we went to the left and checked out a little bit of the shipyard and some of the buildings, then we went to the right, heading past some more buildings and toward the Naval Base. We saw tons of Navy ships. It's unbelievable how much of our money is being spent on ships. Here's a picture of the newest ship--an aircraft carrier, the George HW Bush.
The tour took 2 hours. We got back to the port at 1:00 and called Linda (Dad's cousin) to let her know that we'd be on our way to her house. She said not to eat lunch because she had cooked lunch for everyone. We got to their house and were greeted by their two beautiful yellow labs, Bruce and Abbey. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and some catching up, and then we hit the road for our next adventure (below)...
First Landing State Park is one of my favorite places in the world. It's a bike trail through the woods, and it's just about the most beautiful place we've ever ridden our bikes. I love being in the woods, and I love biking, so it's the perfect combination. Chris took a picture of me when we stopped at a bog to check out the Spanish moss.
We only did about 6 miles on the First Landing trail because we had to meet my high school friend Mike at Macaroni Grill at 5. We got the bikes loaded back up and headed to the restaurant. I had mushroom ravioli that was very good. Not the best I've ever had, and it was a little on the expensive side (plus, our waitress had practically no personality), but it was nice to see Mike and to catch up a bit.

Next stop, go-kart racing. I opted out since I thought it would be stupid to partake in risky activities while pregnant, so we used more buy one get one free coupons so Chris could race twice. I'm glad I decided not to race, because it looked bumpy, and Chris said that it was.

We got back to the hotel around 8 or 8:30 and could barely keep our eyes open. By 9:00 we had given up on trying to force ourselves to stay awake. We had propped the balcony door open, so the sound of the waves even got me to sleep quickly, which rarely happens!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Traveling to Virginia

This is the first day of my spring break, and we spent it in the car on the way to Virginia Beach. We left Dunkirk around 9 after taking Xander to the kennel. (I was tempted to tell the owner of the kennel that if he runs away, we won't be mad!)

We took some back roads through Warren and Ridgway, PA, then we got on some highways once we reached Breezewood, PA. We used my Dad's directions to avoid having to drive through DC, and they worked very well. After a while the GPS picked up on the fact that we were avoiding the city and sent us the same way Dad said to go. There was one portion of the trip, however, that appeared to be a brand new road, and it wasn't even in the GPS. See the picture below--it thought we weren't even on a road!

Finally we reached our hotel--the Sandcastle Oceanfront. It's not super nice, but it's clean and the people are friendly, and it's right on the water. We checked in and then went for a walk up Atlantic Avenue, window shopping in front of the kitchy little shops and dealing with crowds of people. After we walked up a few blocks, we crossed the street and walked back along the boardwalk. My normally comfortable shoes must not have been compatible with the socks I was wearing, because I ended up with a blister on my heel. That's going to hurt for a while! When we got back toward the hotel, we walked on the sand and put our toes in the icy water. Here's Chris on the beach, although with it being so dark, you probably can't tell where he is.

Now we're back in our room with the balcony door propped open, listening to the sound of the waves and eating pizza that's left over from lunch. We plan on enjoying the continental breakfast at the hotel tomorrow morning and then heading out for some activities, including, possibly, a harbor tour and a visit with dad's cousins, who live in Virginia Beach.

Oh, and the Sabres lost tonight, so I'm really ticked off.