Friday, August 27, 2010

Foodie Friday: Sweet & Sour Chicken

*As this is a more complicated meal than the Salsa Turkey Burgers, I feel the need to remind everyone that I do not in fact have any idea how to cook.  I scrap by, making it up as I go along.  I do not know the proper terms for hardly anything, and I am the definition of Learning As You Go.  And I will write this recipe in the exact fashion that I try and do that, and in a way that probably anyone, could follow. Enjoy.*

This is probably the most complex meal I have ever made. And for most people, it's probably really easy.  We have it every week to two weeks.  It's pretty incredible that just by putting some stuff together I can create something that tastes so darn good.  We've made it for friends and family, and I've shared the recipe with co-workers who loved it as well.

So, here's a rough ingredient list:
  • 1 lb. boneless and skinless chicken breast
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup green bell pepper strips
  • 1 cup red bell pepper strips
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/4 cup Kikkoman lite soy sauce
  • 1 8-oz. can chunk pineapple
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Seems like alot right? It's really not bad.  This is what was listed on the original that I found when I discovered how to make this.  Now, a few modifications I make... I buy almost exclusively green peppers.  They're cheaper. I have no idea why and don't really know what the difference is.  It's way more fun to have the red in there too (and maybe go crazy and get a YELLOW pepper!), but, I'm totally cool with a little less flare for a little less $$. 

I also always buy the crushed pineapple.  I did it the first time by accident, but I've loved it that way since.  If you want more...chewing? I'm sure it would taste just as great with the chunk, or any other version you find.  All personal preference.

Also, I've never once used ground ginger. I don't own any, and I tend to not buy spices I don't think I'll use alot, cause those things are expennnnsive.

I start by "cubing" the chicken. And there may be a proper cubing technique out there, but for me, it just means cutting it into bite(ish) size pieces.  I buy, pretty much exclusively, Perdue Chicken Breasts, and since I buy multiple packages of said chicken (as well as our beef and ground turkey) when they have 2 for 1 sales, sometimes, the chicken is frozen when I cut it.  Yes, I know what defrosting is, and I take it out of the freezer the morning of and leave it in the fridge, but it's still pretty solid by the time I get home. (There is no where in the house I would feel safe leaving it out with M running around by herself all day...imagine the massacre!)  Easier to cut frozen, takes a little longer to cook.  Whatevs.

"Brown" those cubes up in pan with some olive oil.  You can measure the oil if you want to be precise. I used to. I've gotten lazy and just drizzle it on. *shrug* (but not too much)  And by "brown" its really "whiten" with some hints of brown, when you don't mix it up to get all the sides cooked fast enough.

While the chicken is "browning", I chop up my veggies, moving the chicken around on occasion.  Once the chicken is "browned" I put it on really low heat, just to keep it warm, and saute the onions and peppers - in a different pan.  Which is, for me, pouring a little oil on them and enjoying that sizzling sound, again mixing them around so they don't get burned or anything.

While the veggies are sizzling, I gather up my ingredients, and mix the cornstarch and soy sauce.  Don't let it sit too long, cause it starts to look funny.  Once you feel like the veggies have sizzled alone long enough, move the chicken into that pan.  Add the cornstarch/soy sauce mixture, the brown sugar, vinegar, garlic powder, pineapple (with juice) and the ginger if you're using it and mix it all up til the chicken and veggies seem like they're pretty well coated.

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to low (or if you have a fancy schmansy cook top like, get some use out of your "simmer" setting) and let stand for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce thickens. You'll be able to tell.

While it's simmering, I typically cook up some Minute Brown Rice as well to serve it over.  And do the dishes.  Favorite part of this meal... makes me feel like I can get the dishes almost all done before we even eat. Awesome.

I promise, it may sound complicated, but if I can do this, on a regular basis, its easy.  OH and the best part, it's pretty darn healthy :)

If you prefer more straight to the point, not quite so rambling directions, you can check out the recipe here: Sweet & Sour Chicken.

Try it, you might like it. :)  And come back and let me know how it went and if it made you feel like a real chef!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Running... a 10K?!

So, I still won't call myself a runner.

But I'm in training for another race.  My neighbor, good friend, and morning running buddy, C, and I decided that we wanted to set a goal, rather than just run for the heck of it.  So here we are, in week 2 of 10K training.

That sounds so far, doesn't it? 10K. It's twice as far as a 5K! A total of 6.2 miles.  Now, if anyone reading this is like, a real runner, yea I know, you probably knock out 6 miles on a random Tuesday in bare feet. With your eyes closed. Whatever. I think it's far, and more importantly, an achievable, yet challenging goal.

We're following the 10K Training: Novice program from Hal Higdon.  My friends who are training for a marathon (yes, they are crazy) are using one of his programs, and it looked simple enough, so here we are.  So far, so good. It's not JUST running, so its nice to mix it up and little and be *forced* into some strength training, since I otherwise always say I'm going  to, but then never do.

My awesome shoes are still... awesome.  And I've added some sweet bling to my work out attire.  Since it's still pretty dark these days at 5:45am (omg so early), and it's been raining this week making it even darker, I'm trying stay safe and have been wearing two of these bad boys:

(No, that's not me. Image taken from the website. I purchased mine at Sports Authority)

I've been putting one on a wrist and one on an ankle.  It was annoying to have one on my wrist with my watch... but this morning the one of my ankle was acting up and being all pinchy, so back to the wrist it was.  As it cools down I plan to get myself a running jacket that is even more reflective, but, these work for now.

Anyway, the 10K is October 10th - the weekend of our town's annual Pumpkin Festival.  Of course its Sunday morning, when they have a beer tasting on Saturday night... figures.

This Friday or Saturday is our first real "long" run - 3.5 miles - which should be interesting.  For the most part I'm enjoying myself so far... even tho the four letter words in my vocabulary have been getting a workout.

I've got a delicious (and healthy!) recipe coming up on Friday, and hopefully will be able to get caught up on all the stuff I've been wanting to share since I turned in my last paper of the term for grad school tonight!! Ooooh I'm going to enjoy this month off before the next term starts...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bathroom Organization

I am the last person in the world that should be giving out organization tips.  Anyone that has ever lived with me would attest to that.  I am a messy, messy person.  In my blog travels I've tried to be inspired, tried to get organized once and for all.  Cause I mean, I want to.  I really do.  But UGH, its so hard, and boring.  And there are so many *other* things I'd like to do with my time.

So maybe, I'm actually the best person to give tips. Because if it works for me, It.Will.Work.For.Anyone.I.Promise.

My new favorite thing? (If you couldn't tell from the dead space post with the new book shelf...) is BASKETS!  Freakin' fantastic creations.  Because they give the illusion of organization, but really, you can just throw everything in there if you have to.  And no one is the wiser.  So far it's worked well for the bookcase, as its helped keep clutter to a minimum on the kitchen counter.  But it's also been a godsend in my bathroom.

For whatever reason, after driving 18 hours straight back from Wisconsin and taking a 4 hour power nap, I decided this mess had to go:

Uh yea. Can't believe I just posted that to the Internet for the whole world to see.  I really hope you appreciate it.  Let's play a game.  It'll be FUN!
  • How many different moisturizers can you find? (Seven.)
  • Contact lens solution bottles? (Three.)
  • Writing utensils? (Cause everyone needs at least TWO of those in their bathroom, for goodness sake)
  • And let's not even try and count the amount of... TRASH.
Nasty.  Seriously, what is wrong with me? How did I let it get like this?!

(Oh, and if you're really observant you may notice the reflection of our bidet. Yes, it was here when we moved in, no we haven't used it, and no I wouldn't even really know how to use it. Please stop talking about it, it makes me uncomfortable.)

Here's what I told myself in order to turn this awful, frankly disgusting, mess into something more pleasant and manageable that I would not be embarrassed about any more in less than a half hour:

Step 1: THROW AWAY THE TRASH - tags from clothes, concert tickets, receipts, empty bottles of whatever.  Seriously, throw it out.  It's trash.

Step 2:  Take everything off the counter. EVERY.LAST.LITTLE.THING.  Stick it on the floor.

Step 3: Wipe everything down with a damp cloth first, to get rid of things like my hair that never stops falling out and those stupid little plastic things that end up everywhere when you snap a tag off clothes. I know you know what I mean.

Step 4: Use Counter Magic! No, really.  That's the name of the cleaner.  It was suggested by the previous owners and works... like magic.  It's available at our local hardware store, and that's about all I know about that.

Step 5: Make sure to get around the faucets and edge of the sink, gross little grimies get in there.

Step 6: Don't forget the sink.  Even though it has water in it everyday, it gets nasty.  Nasty enough that even the strange color and flower designs can't hide it forever.

Step 7: Find sweet basket left over from our wedding that just happens to have some green in it to match the bathroom.  Put basket in the corner on the counter.

Step 8:  Fill basket with only the things I use on a somewhat regular basis.  Put everything else in drawers, under the counter, or the trash.

Step 9: Allow certain items to be free from the basket.  Such as tooth brush and paste, hair brush, glasses, contact lens stuff, etc.  Stuff I use multiple times a day, you get the idea.

Step 10: Be wicked proud of myself and show B, who is not nearly as impressed as I am, but I'll let myself believe it's because he's just tired from all the driving.

Isn't that better?  There's still alot of *stuff*, but not as much, and its so much more organized (and uh, CLEAN).  And over a month later, I'm proud to say, it still looks relatively the same, give or take some stuff moved around a little, and some earrings all over the place (jewelry organization... maybe that should be my next trick...HA)

And here's a close up of the contents of the basket, just for kicks.

Now, I'll say the contents of this has changed.  I don't need 3 perfumes in there. I haven't used hair spray since that weird stint in dance club our rugby team decided to have (story for another time), and I think that headband may have ended up on my desk at work (because lord knows I can't keep one of those things in for a full day).

So, there you have it.  How a really messy person is able to find some organization in her life.  I plan to tackle different areas of the house over the next few months (I mean jeez, don't want to wear myself out doing too much at once or anything...ha!) and I'm sure there will be more baskets and who knows what else. I've got a linen closet to tackle, a hopeless second bedroom, a third bedroom that I don't even know what to use for, a dining room that needs to stop being a storage area, and um, we won't even talk about the basement... 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Make it Fun(?) Monday: Laundry

Uh yea, I think I should change it to "Make it Manageable Monday" cause there's nothing about it that's fun, but anyway...

This is one of my least favorite chores, for a few reasons.

  1. Our washer and dryer are in the basement. On the opposite side of the house from the stairs into the basement. So yea, its far
  2. And I also forget about it, because its so far. So I end up having to rinse stuff over again - cause EW to that mildew smell
  4. The number of t-shirts B has
  5. The number of socks B has, that are usually balled up in each other making me think he never wore them
  7. Spaghetti strap tank tops getting spun and tangled in each and getting wrecked
  8. and oh yea, IT NEVER ENDS
I've done my own laundry since 8th grade. I got grounded, for being out too late at a hotel one night during a soccer tournament... really just a big misunderstanding... I swear...

Anyway, part of my punishment was to come up with a chore I would be responsible for. And I chose laundry. Don't ask.  Although I guess it was a handy life skill come college when my friends couldn't figure out how to not turn their whites pinks.

So, a few tips to make it not so awful, some of which I follow, others which I always say I should follow:
  • Sort. Seriously. Whites, lights, and darks. I promise the extra 30 seconds it takes will be worth it the first time you don't, and something changes color.  (Red towels, will bleed and make green towels look tie-dye. Don't ask.)
  • Break it up. If you don't have time to do it all, just do a load. Little chunks are better than nothing.
  • Set a reminder to switch it from the washer to the dryer. Especially if its far enough away in the house that you don't hear the buzzer, or that it's off.
  • When folding, watch TV, listen to music, talk to your husband (ha). I sit on the couch and watch TV, but I'm thinking stuff would actually get put away if I folded in the bedroom... hmm there's a thought.
  • Always empty the lint trap (stuff won't dry as fast if you don't) and use dryer sheets (or whatever little contraption you might have for static). I can always tell when B did a load of laundry 'cause my clothes stick to me.
Fall is the best time for my relationship with laundry.  Why? Uh, FOOTBALL.  Yes, my typical Sunday in the fall is doing laundry and watching football.  Works out pretty well if you ask me.

Also, a rule I ALWAYS follow, is to never leave the dryer running when we're not home.  It just doesn't feel safe.

Anyone else have ways they make it less painful and chore-like?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Future is Here!!

Tomorrow I will enter the 21st century, when my brand spankin' new, very first, smart phone arrives!

For the past year and a half I've been rockin' the LG Voyager (in titanium), and just recently got myself a data plan - so I'm pretty new to this high tech stuff, what can I say?  But Verizon knows how to tempt me, and when I checked my bill, it was all "YOU CAN GET A WICKED COOL PHONE CHEAP!" or more like "You are eligible to upgrade your phone at a discounted price." But whatever, read that however you wish.

Now of course I couldn't make this easy on myself.  I didn't want a Blackberry, because everyone has a Blackberry (including both of my parents. yes, they have cooler phones than me).  I have Verizon, so I couldn't get the iphone.  Although, after some thought I don't think I would anyway because I'm really fond of an actual keyboard, rather than only having the option of a touch screen keyboard.  So, this desire also ruled out the Driod X (Uh, and the $200 price tag on the puppy - sorry, not going to happen.).

So, if I can find the FedEx facility tomorrow (since they HAVE to have a stupid signature and no one will be home, I'll have to go pick up) I will be the proud owner of a brand new LG Ally (only $50, which I didn't think was too bad).  Which looks an awful lot like my current phone, but its way cooler cause I can get APPS and it runs off the Andriod platform.  Which, I don't think my phone even has a platform? I guess it must, but I don't know.  So hopefully I can figure out how it all works. We'll see. I could be coming back begging for help by tomorrow night.

It sure is pretty tho, huh?

Give me some time to play with it, and I'll let you all know how it is :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dreaded Dead Space

Ever since we had our pellet stove installed, I've wanted something to fill the dead space, and cover the ugly white wire creeping up the wall, on the right side.  I haven't been able to find anything in the two years since.  When the previous breakfast bar was taken out for the kitchen renovations I realized just how much space we have between the kitchen and dining room, with nothing to anchor it.

Then there's the issue of not having anywhere to store pens, paper, and other miscellaneous stuff you like to have around, since the old breakfast bar housed all the stuff in its drawers.  Well folks, the search is over.  We've discovered a solution.  But first, can you understand why I felt like I *needed* something to fill the space?

I mean, I know you're all really jealous of that awesome white wire that jumps right off the dark walls, right?  Oh, and I was generous enough to move the power strip that usually lives on that outlet (due to the pellet stove).  So yea, ugly, cluttered, and not at all useful.

For a few weeks I salvaged a dorm room bookcase/side table from the basement to use, at least so I had a spot to drop my keys after work, and a place to store my running essentials - watch, hat if its raining, elastic headband if its not, little ipod.  It was better than nothing, but not big enough for the space and arguably may have made it uglier, even though it at least created some function for the space.

See? Functional, still not pretty.  Saturday, I had had enough.  We were heading out to the movies and I convinced B we should stop by Target to see what we could find.  I measured the wall - 32 inches.  Not the most convenient width, but I was hopeful.  We strolled through the store to the home furnishings section - and there it was!

30 inches wide, not so tall we can't use the top, and a nice espresso finish, to compliment are dark dining room furniture, and close enough to the walnut(?) colors in the living room furniture.  We had been hoping for something with drawers, since M likes to steal anything she can reach, which would specifically include those pens and note pads we were hoping to store.  But, I assured B we could find some nice baskets to act as drawers.  We scooped up our $59.99 bookcase of pure perfection and headed off to the movies.

Where I handed the ticket window guy a gift card and he informed me that it was for a different theatre.  Last time I take B's word for it, "Yea, it's for an AMC theatre." Uh not so much, it was a Regal gift card.  I then proceeded to embarrass both of us and the ticket guy by announcing loudly to B, "Why the heck did you tell me it was an AMC card? Ugh I can't believe you...etc etc..."  Yea, I was being a little dramatic.

*Sidenote: We saw Inception. Which blew my mind. And I'll need to see again.  And that's all I will say, for fear of ruining it for anyone. Totally worth it tho, so go see it - now!*

We swung by Wally World on the way home and low and behold, those adorable baskets presented themselves to us.  Technically they are storage bins, and they're made from recyclable PET fabric? Whatever that might mean.  They were like $9 a piece, so we grabbed them, thinking we'd return them if they didn't fit or we weren't impressed.  Well, I must say we're pleased.  One is storing note pads, stamps, check books, etc, while the other is housing my running essentials.

On the bottom shelf, I've been throwing my purse, to keep it off the kitchen counter, and currently my laptop bag is living there - which I'll need when I start in-class courses next term again.  Up top, we've got a mug full of pens, pencils, and markers, a tray for keys and other small stuff (that was a wedding present from my mom that happens to be shaped like the leaf of the tree M is named after ;P), our change container (a beer growler from the pub in our college town), and that giant bowl that I haven't figured out what to put in yet but B thought would look nice there. And the big ipod has been living on top this week too.  I know, I know, the white wire is still painfully obvious.  But it's better.  One of these days I'll get it all straightened out somehow. At least the power strip is hidden underneath now.

Here's a side by side before and after, cause those are always fun and get the point across:

See? Isn't that better?  And much more useful.

Now I just need a solution for the opposite wall... and maybe a rug for the dining room? Hmmm, we'll see what B will let me get away with next :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Make It Fun Monday: Running

Some things in life aren't fun.  Bills, homework, laundry.  Mondays.  But I've been trying to get the most out of even the un-fun situations lately, taking pleasure in the simple things.  So, why not take Mondays to come up with ways to make things that aren't usually fun, fun! Ok ok, how about tolerable?

I am admittedly not a huge fan of running.  Or maybe I should say I wasn't a huge fan of running.  It's growing on me, s-l-o-w-l-y.  There are a few things I've tried to do to enjoy myself while getting into this whole running thing.  So, I figure this is a fitting subject to discuss.

*I am by no means an expert. Heck, I've barely been running for more weeks than I have fingers on my hand.  But this is what's worked for me. Take it as you will.*

Yes, I know every "Make Running More Enjoyable" list in the world probably suggests you try this. Whatever.  There are a lot of different ways to go about this one.  Some websites have "podcasts" you can down load specifically for running.  They can be specific to the beats per minute, because apparently that helps you run a certain speed.  With the Couch to 5k program I did, there are "podcasts" that will change the song, or make a beep, when you are supposed to switch your intervals.

Me? Well, that's all way too technical for the-girl-who-isn't-a-runner-but-sometimes-runs.  I've loaded up my ipod with a variety of tunes that just make me want to move.  I suggest songs you really like, but don't necessarily get to listen to all the time.  In my house, we listen to mostly country music, so on my running mix I throw on things I don't hear everyday, that way, it's like a treat getting to listen to them.  And I use new music as a reward for sticking with it.  It's a cheap, easy way to reward yourself, and give yourself motivation to keep going.  With Kevin Rudolf screaming "I Made It" in my ear, or Fort Minor chanting This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill, Fifteen percent concentrated power of will, Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain, And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!, it's pretty hard to let myself stop.

Sneaks, Clothes, and Accessories.
So frankly, there's nothing that makes it more difficult to go run than feeling like I'm missing something, that I'm not properly equipped.  I used to work at a place called Sportshoe Center. And I'm pretty sure you can guess what we sold.  I learned the value of wearing the proper footwear for a variety of activities.  It really is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  The right shoes go a loooong way.  So, after I had several weeks under my belt and knew I would stick with it, (and happened to lose my current running shoes on vacation...) I rewarded myself with a pair of these puppies:
Mizuno Women's Wave Rider 13s. Size 10. (Yes, I have giant feet.)

I've been an Asics girl since my time at Sportshoe, but it felt like it was time for a change.  And maybe someday I'll go back.  But not for a while.  I've been running in these for about two weeks, and so far, I love them and have literally no complaints.  No wait, I have one.  One shoe lace is like, way longer than the other.  I have to double knot it so it doesn't tickle my other leg.  But that's it.

Other fun things for your feet? SOCKS! And yea, I know, there's expensive technical running socks.  And I have them (past employer reference again).  But seriously, I found the FUNNEST socks ever at Olympia Sports.  Fluorescent greens, yellows, blues, purples, oranges - even with argyle! So yea, they make me happy and want to run.

And then of course there's all the cute running clothes.  Like my obsession with running tights - pants and capris.  The Oh-So-Comfy tech shirts.  And even cute little running shorts... that I've bought, but not yet worn.  My go-to company is adidas, I can't help but want to buy every single thing they make.  Champion is a cheaper alternative.  I stay away from Nike for personal (weird) reasons.

Have something you're aiming for.  Especially when you first start.  If I didn't have a 5k in mind that I wanted to run, I doubt I would have stuck with it.  Races are fun, and not nearly as scary as they seem.  Even if you're in the back of the pack.  I won't say everyone is nice and that they all cheer for you at the end - because that doesn't always happen.  But it's incredibly satisfying to be able to say "Oh yea, I ran a race yesterday."  So, with that in mind, I really need to find myself another race soon....

A Buddy.
I know, I know, you're probably like, "SERIOUSLY S?! This is all the same crap everyone feeds me about running."  But I promise, having someone to run with, will get you to do it.  Case in point: I am not a morning person.  For the last three weeks I have met my neighbor at the end of my drive way between 5:30am and 5:45am, 3 days a week.  And we've run.  And walk. And run again.  It's awesome. And there's no way I would be getting up at that hour if she wouldn't be left in my driveway.

So really, find a buddy.  And it's not as hard and daunting as you think.  There's the "grown up" ways of doing it - finding local running clubs, etc.  You can ask friends you know who run.  Even if you think they're way faster than you, a day or two a week of a slower run won't kill them, and they might just enjoy the company.  Or, you can do what I did.  The desperate move.  Post on your Facebook status (or whatever other social network you use) that you are looking for a workout buddy (mine specified morning).  In less than two hours, I had a bright and early date with my neighbor for a morning run the next day.  If you don't have anyone near you that would be up for it, even just text messages or phone calls in the morning to get you up from a friend or family member who's already up at that hour, will help you be accountable.

And Mix It Up.
I don't just run when I run. I walk too. I call them my intervals.  They make time go by faster, and help me go farther.

Rain. Oh my, running in the rain my just be one of my favorite things these days.  Give me a hat and some refreshing ran coming down, and I can go like, twice as far.

Run for time, not distance or speed.  At least at first.  Best advice I read when starting the Couch to 5k program.  Trust me on this one.

And when you need to, take a break. Don't push it so hard that you're miserable. Cause duh, then you won't go back out and do it again.  And that pretty much defeats the entire purpose.


There you have it.  A few of the ways I try to enjoy running.  I know it's good for me, I've seen a difference in my energy and my body in just the few weeks I've been doing it, and it's something I can do almost anywhere.  I've read that it can take a while to truly enjoy it (like a year or two, ugh), but this is a start.

Now if only I could find a way to make grad school half as fun...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Good Stuff: July

I can't believe its August already.  No idea where July went... but I do know there was so really good stuff :)

1.  Fireworks.  I may not be the best at photographing them, but I sure do love them! We spent 4th of July weekend at my in-laws lake house and got to enjoy great fireworks displays TWO nights on the lake, and set off a few of our own.

2. Roadtrips.  B and I are serious road trip fans. In fact, our first vacation together involved driving 24 hours form New Hampshire to Florida, with 6 other people.  We spent much of our Honeymoon driving around, checking out the sites.  Well, we took on a new challenge this year: New Hampshire to Wisconsin, 18 hours, in the truck.

It had it's ups - like late night sing-a-longs to keep each other awake - and it's downs - traffic in Chicago (AWFUL) - but we had a blast.  If you've never done a roadtrip with your significant other, I would highly recommended it.  Nothing quite like belting out a song on a deserted highway at 4am with the person you love.  Or being able to laugh about that time you had a cow stare at you on the highway.

3. Long Distance Family.  Well, this isn't a *good* in itself, as I'd much rather they not be long distance! But, it gives us an excuse to vacation together.  We stayed with my (half) sister and her family, and got to hang out with my (half) brother and his family as well.  It's a somewhat complicated story that maybe I'll talk about someday, but I'm so grateful to have them in my life.  Here's the three of us at B and my's wedding last year:

And, here are the munch-kins.  We've got my sister's (little) B, 4.5 year old rock star and soccer extraordinaire.

Then there' R, the adorable but crazy 2 year old....

And her newest addition, Baby A, who is quite possibly the cutest 4.5 month old baby girl in the planet.  Not that I'm biased or anything.

And of course, my brother's daughter E, who is not only incredibly adorable, but who is also incredibly sweet - and it was her birthday! And every two year old girl needs two things: a castle, and bubbles.

Yup, I love them. And can't WAIT until the next time.

4. Options.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned my disdain for our cable company.  But I'm pretty convinced they were giving me an ulcer, or high blood pressure, or both.  After months of fighting with them and trying to figure out what other choices we have, we finally came to a resolution.  We've switch to satellite, which is awesome so far, and we found another Internet and phone service provider. And I couldn't be happier.

5. Air Conditioning.  We have had one of the hottest July's ever on record here in New England, and I know much of the rest of the country is in the same position.  Something crazy like 19 days over 90 degrees.  Too hot for my liking.  Well, B apparently could have a future as a meteorologist, because he bought us a new window air conditioning unit at the end of June.  Only a week later into July, stores were selling out like crazy. Not sure if we would have even been able to sleep without it this last month.