Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 To Do List

I am not making New Year's resolutions, but I do have some ideas of things I would like to accomplish in 2011.  In no particular order, here goes:
  • Tweak our diet ~~ We need to be even more aware of our protein intake.  Talked this morning about stocking up on chicken and lean beef and making a point of cooking them on Sundays (in different ways), so we have lunches for work.  Also getting back to making tuna and consuming non-animal sources of protein, like quinoa, which have a longer shelf-life than, say, chicken and beef.
  • Switching up my workout ~~ I have been suffering from a shoulder injury and it just really isn't healing, so I need to remove myself from my beloved boxing, but I want to remain active.  I will use our pilates DVD at home and do some (light) strength training both at home and the gym, while interval running and biking at the gym.  I am going to jump in on the 5-minute ab work at the end of the classes, too.
  • Monthly massages ~~ We are fortunate to live near a couple massage schools where we can get 50-minute massages for very reasonable prices.  This is beneficial physically (after our strenuous fitness programs) and mentally.  A WIN-WIN, in my book!
  • Vacation plans ~~ We own a timeshare in Mexico and have numerous locations where we can visit.  We went in 2006 and haven't yet stayed at one of "our" resorts.  I am thinking Mazatlan.  We also have a bonus week thru our timeshare exchange program that must be used by July 2012, so I would like to get working on that vacation ... maybe Savannah, GA, to enjoy the ghost-hunting, the gorgeous old homes and the live oaks covered in Spanish moss (♥) - plus we would like to hop on over to Tybee Island.
  • New recipes ~~ I love trying out new recipes and would just like to make a point of doing this throughout the year, rather than mostly fall & winter.  (Beef Wellington may make an appearance for Chris's birthday ... which also happens to be Valentine's Day!!!)
  • Finding my creative side ~~ I would like to make some jewelry (think steam-punk inspired necklaces and, maybe, bracelets).  I want to do some repurposing of items for home decor.  To that end, we are going to be "junking" at Goodwill, Salvation Army, garage sales, flea markets with the best of them!!!  I check in with several blogs that have given me the inspiration to get out there and try my hand at some new projects!
  • Build up our savings account ~~ We have been very diligent about saving and I want to continue (each time I hit a savings goal, I just move on to the next).  I have decided not to decrease my hours at work, so we will save at the same rate we have been all year.  Our savings will mostly just sit there, but some of it is going to be used toward our vacations (I am thinking of that extra work day as the money that is earmarked for travel).  You only live once and you need to make it a fun go-round!!!
  • Operation: Sell This House ~~ Harvest Moon House will be back on the market (by owner) in the spring.  Flyers will be posted; ads will be placed on Craigslist and, most likely, our local papers; an open house might be in order.  There are a few small things to do around the house (steam-clean the carpets and do some minor paint touchups, while bringing life back to the frontyard grass), but they are minimal in the grand scheme of things.
  • Volunteer ~~ I recently read about a church in our city that operates a soup kitchen on Saturdays and I am going to see about volunteering, maybe once a month.
  • Submit our tees & slogans ~~ We have a book with ideas for tshirts and greeting cards.  Threadless will buy your slogans and may even print your tees ... both of which can make us $$$.  And we would FINALLY have our tshirt ideas a reality!!!  (The real kicker to this business is that the guy who started it graduated from the same high school as us!!!)
So, I think this is a pretty extensive list and should be do-able!  It will be fun to look back at the end of the year to see how many I can cross off! 

Hoping all of you have set a few goals that will bring you joy in 2011 ... maybe waxed nostalgic to see where you have been to align yourself with where you want to be. 

Monday, December 20, 2010


Hard to believe that Christmas Eve is this Friday!  WOW!  Where did 2010 go?  Seriously, I think this is the fastest year ever!!!

Even tho we don't participate in all the gift-giving madness that has surpassed the true spirit of Christmas, Chris & I do have some traditions that help get us in the holiday spirit.  I have been sending out some Christmas cards, just not nearly as many as in years past.  We have an advent calendar where we alternate days (Chris is evens and I am odds) and even try to guess which design will be behind the "window."  We like to watch Christmas programs and are doing a pretty good job of it, thus far.  Our DVDs of White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town have been watched, as well as catching Fred Claus and Prancer on cable.  I also watch many of the made-for-tv Christmas shows that I stumble across while channel surfing.  They are usually quite cheesy, I know, but they are filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas. 

It's a Wonderful Life and Scrooge are still on tap and I hope to squeeze them in before we leave early Christmas Eve morning.  Might even be able to watch Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer if we try hard enough!  (Something new this year: Taking a quick roundtrip visit to family for a Christmas Eve party, spending the nite and heading right back for our traditional family dinner with my aunt and, most likely, a quick visit to Chris's parents' to round out a very long day.)

I have some baking to do for our family Christmas gatherings.  Was planning to try my hand at Angela's Chocolate-covered Cookie Dough Balls for our roadtrip and Ooey Gooey Cashew Bars for my aunt's (Chris is making a pumpkin pie ~from scratch, except for the crust~ with a crumbly pecan topping, too.)  But I might make some Pumpkin Cranberry Scones (using a version of Tina's recipe) for the Christmas Eve party instead and make the Cookie Dough Balls for home.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones


Angela's recipe, Tina's recipe and the pumpkin pie recipe (which is a combo of 2 different recipes) are new ones and, boy, do we love experimenting with recipes!!!  I am off work on Thursday, so I will get my recipes done before Chris gets home from work, and he can work on his after we get home from the gym.  We will drop off our "contributions" to my aunt's Christmas day dinner when we pick up my two cousins Christmas Eve morning who are making the trip with us because it is (over the river and thru the woods ) to their dad's house we go!!!   

Wishing everyone a magical holiday season! 

Celebrate this year with Joy and remember years past with Nostalgia!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Here are a couple easy recipes I want to share.  One has been around with me for some time now and the other is a recent acquisition that I have taken to tweaking.

Cornbread Casserole
2 boxes cornbread mix
2 eggs
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
2 heaping spoonfuls of sour cream
1 8oz bag of shredded sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  In large bowl, mix all ingredients, except for the cheddar.  Once combined, add 3/4 of the bag of cheese and mix again.  Pour into baking pan and cover with remaining shredded cheddar.  Bake for 30 minutes and check for doneness.  This will be a moist version of cornbread, so you shouldn't have a completely clean toothpick when inserted into center of casserole. 

**This casserole works well at Thanksgiving and Christmas and is great to bring to potlucks.  It doesn't have to be served warm and it travels well.  Also, you can use it for a side at breakfast....even cut it up and sear a bit in a skillet after cooking up some bacon &/or sausage.**

Roasted Sweet Potato & Chickpeas
1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 medium bell pepper (red or orange, preferably), diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
2 T cinnamon
1 T coconut oil
1 T sea salt

1 jar Indian masala sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.  Combine all ingredients, except for masala sauce, in a large bowl and mix well.  Spread on parchment and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and set on stovetop to slightly cool.  In a small to medium pot, warm up masala sauce.  Add EVERYTHING to a large bowl and mix well.  Serve with naan or any other bread.

**This recipe is a tweaked version from Angela and can be found here.  I find many recipes from blogs and Angela's got some fantastic ones!  I am making one of her cookie recipes for Christmas Eve ... a brand new one that I have yet to work on.**

Friday, December 10, 2010

Money & Environment Saving Tips

Thought I would share some of my money-saving tips that I have learned over the years from family, friends, magazines, blogs ... bonus: some of them are also good for the environment.

-Cut your kitchen sponges in half before using them.  It's like a 2 for 1 deal; cutting your cost per sponge in half!!!  (And you will be more slowly adding to the garbage in a landfill)
-Add tennis balls to your dryer to help move the laundry around and dry faster.  Money saver b/c you are using less electricity by shortening your drying time.
-Use clips to squeeze out as much toothpaste as possible.
-Cut open moisturizer, hand/body lotion, sunscreen bottles, toothpaste to get every last bit of goodness out of them.
-Use microfiber cloths for most of your dusting.  You won't be spending as much money on furniture polish; plus, you won't be inhaling or putting into the environment so many chemicals.
-Carry reusable bags in your car for your grocery shopping.  (I hear Target subtracts 5¢ from your purchase total for each reusable bag you use.)
-Reuse gift bags (and the tissue paper when you can). 
-Use cotton squares, rather than cotton balls, and cut them in half.  Another 2 for 1!
-Use white vinegar as fabric softener.  Add it to your washing machine's fabric softener container.  (I haven't yet tried this, but I read it works and your clothes should not have a vinegar smell.)  Money saver, better for the environment ... and it would clean the fabric softener gunk from your machine!!
-To keep your knee high boots upright in your closet, insert wine bottles.  (I LOVE THIS ONE!!  Great excuse to drink more vino!!!)
-Shop & donate to Goodwill, Salvation Army, resale & consignment!  We have found some great stuff over the years!!
- Use a reusable water bottle.
-Reuse the bag(s) you carry your bagged lunch to work in.

If you have others, please drop me a comment.  I love saving money and Mother Earth!

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Christmas Gift

Crown mug from

I found the perfect way to spend my Junk Gypsy Junk Bucks!  I could not be happier with my selection!  How fun it will be to drink my coffee, tea, water ~ anything ~ in my new mug!!!   

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

as the wonderful gals of Junk Gypsies would say!!!  I love the JG ladies and their sense of style & substance!  I have been a fan for years, treating myself to necklaces, bangles and a tee!! 

I am a Fan on Facebook and they have been having the most fun & hilarious contests.  The "funniest Christmas gift you ever received" had me almost crying while reading the comments cuz I was laughing so hard!!!  There have been "what is your favorite southern pie" and "tell us about your jalopy". 

This morning's was "what is your favorite Christmas movie?  and what is your fave quote from that movie?"  I have many favorite Christmas movies (White Christmas, Scrooge, Elf, Nightmare Before Christmas, Rudolph and all the Rankin-Bass shows ... just to name a few!!).  Off the top of my head, I answered the contest with Elf and the line "SANTA!!  I know him.  I know him."  Winners are picked at random and throughout the week I have seen "Jennifer" several times ... only to NOT see my last name to follow.  When I came back to FB a bit later, I discovered MY name as the WINNER!!! 

$10 Junk Bucks

What a huge surprise!  What a holiday miracle!  I immediately called my honey to let him know and he was almost as happy for me as I am!  (I love that man!!!)

Now the hard part ~~ deciding what I want to use my $10 toward!!!  They have many items with crowns and I just know that I will be choosing one of those items cuz this girl is a crown fanatic!!

Hoping you have a Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner kind of day!!! 

Please check out the Gypsies ~~ I guarantee you will love their wares and their words!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In vino veritas

Cheers to December 1st!  Winter has arrived in my neck of the woods ~~ woke up to snow flurries and very, very chilly temps with wind chill.  BRRRRR!!!  Hoping to watch "White Christmas" tonite while snuggling with my honey on the loveseat in front of our electric fireplace in our cozy basement den!!

But first things first...

A quick shoutout to an Indiana winery we visited at the end of October when we headed to Indy for a little early anniversary B&B stay and some Halloween fun.  Our most gracious B&B hosts suggested a winery visit.  We are oenophiles, so this recommendation was spot on.

Buck Creek Winery gallery photo

Buck Creek Winery is located in southeast Indianapolis.  The tasting room is, well, tastefully done!  Very roomy, the wines and other wine-related items along the walls available for purchase and several tables for enjoying the fruits of their labors, so to speak!  And I can't forget the gorgeous wood bar for tastings.

Buck Creek Winery gallery photo

Buck Creek Winery gallery photo

Buck Creek has wines to suit every palette!!!  An entire page full of sweet wines kept our attention.  We each got 5 or 6 wines to taste, so we tried to select different ones and then each took a small sip.  So many wines were to our liking.

Here is what we finally decided to purchase:

Alley Cat

One of Buck Creek Winery very favorite wines, Alley Cat has flavors and aromas of cranberries and strawberries, with a slightly spicy finish. Serve Chilled.

Christmas Cherry (got 2 of this one)

Our Christmas Cherry is 100% cherry wine, made from premium tart, sweet cherries. Ask for the wine with the red nose.

Cranberry Apple (and got 2 of this one)

A blend of sweet Indiana heirloom apples, and cranberry give this wine a delightful tart flavor with just the right amount of sweetness.

Razzle Dazzle

A sweet apple wine blended with a sweet red raspberry wine . Serve Chilled.

We will be heading back to Indy at the end of the month and will make a second visit to Buck Creek Winery.  Looking forward to more sampling and getting some new wines.  Well, those, and maybe a few bottles to replace the ones we have already enjoyed!!

Tonite's dinner (spaghetti squash with spinach & fontina chicken sausages & pesto, roasted brussel sprouts and whole wheat rolls) will be paired with the Razzle Dazzle that I opened on Sunday ... and might be joined with the last Cranberry Apple (with our dessert of Pumpkin Glo Bites.)

Alley Cat and one Cranberry Apple are gone ... and they were spectacular!

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