Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Just Can't Tell You

Blogger's Block: When one experiences a complete mental freeze and one cannot recall any information, stories, etc to relay through one's blog.

It's been awhile since I've written...and all I can really say to that is I have blogger's block. It's true - I really do. I can't think of a single thing to write about...because I have blogger's block.

I can't tell you that we went to Port Washington, Wisconsin this weekend for a wedding and had the best most wonderful time. I can't tell you we saw old friends, that the bride was blushing and beautiful, and the groom has never looked happier. I can't tell you...because I have blogger's block.

I can't tell you that we saw Jonah this weekend and had laughs and hugs and kisses. I can't tell you that he's as funny as ever and just as sharp as a tack and as cute as a button. I can't tell you because I have blogger's block.

I can't tell you that we went to the beach at Lake Michigan and just walked in awe of God's beautiful creation and I may have some pictures coming...because I have blogger's block.

I can't tell you that McDreamy asked me to make Chicken Club sandwiches, and I made them for the first time and they were so delicious that I may post the recipe tomorrow for Food Friday. I can't tell you because I have blogger's block.

I can't tell you that after weeks and months and months and weeks of researching new cameras, that I have finally picked one (thanks for the help Jess) and ordered it, and it's on its way to me right now. I can't tell you that it's a Canon Rebel XS and I am so excited and thrilled to be getting it. I just can't tell you because, once again...I have blogger's block.

I can't tell you that this weekend we are going to the Apple Orchard (one of my favorite things) and I am just so incredibly thrilled to see Fall approaching us. Stupid blogger's block.

I really wish I could tell you all of these things. But I just can't...because I have blogger's block.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Apple of My Eye

Alternately Titled: Fairly Wordless Wednesday

Everyone - meet Jonah. My nephew, Godson and the sweetest little thing to grace this earth.

Super Jonah

See what I mean? How can someone this adorable not be the apple of my eye?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Food Friday Monday

So I know today is not Friday, and I have been wanting to get this out on Fridays...but whatever. Today is Monday, and today is the day I am posting another recipe. K? Good. So here goes. This is my Chicken Tortilla Soup. I like it because instead of cooking the tortillas into the soup and them getting mushy and weird like noodles, the soup is served with corn tortilla chips on top. YUM! I have always enjoyed getting the chicken tortilla soup out, and decided to recreate it home. This is what I came up with, and I'm very pleased with it. And this recipe is just a starting point - it's very versatile. If you like more heat, add more heat. If you like nasty disgusting overbearing cilantro, go ahead and add it. Different veggies? Go ahead and try what you like. This soup is spicy and warm and comforting, and great for any cool fall night or blistering winter day. I hope you like it.

(Click on picture to view full size)

Friday, September 12, 2008

This or That. Or This, or That.

Alternately Titled: HELP!

As I call out on my sidebar I'm not a photographer, but I wish I was. It's true. Recently, I've been totally ensconced in the world of photography. It's something that seems (to me) actually quite challenging. All the settings. Oh the settings! So many different things to remember, and then to remember to apply. But it seems to be a project that I'm willing and ready to undertake. I want to do this. I want to know how to take great pictures, and I want to take great pictures.

(Click on XSi to read more about it)

So first things first. I need a camera. Well...I have a camera, if you can call it that. I've had it for four years *gasp*, I's time to put that baby to sleep. My old standard point-and-shoot has done it's duty...but can you believe it? It serves up a whopping 3.2 mega pixels. The pictures I take would probably look better if I just hand drew them, instead of attempting to catch the brightness and clarity through my somewhat pitiful camera. Therefore, I've been doing some research on options for my new camera. Let me say this: there are so many options. No...there are too many options. How in the world am I supposed to choose? Out of the mouths of many, I've heard "Canon or Nikon are sure bets." Which is true. They're reputable, well advertised, and widely used. But I decided I needed an experts opinion. So I visited my local National Camera Exchange. I explained to Roger that I was looking to get into photography, that I didn't want a professional's camera, but I didn't want a standard point and shoot. I was immediately expecting Roger to grab the Canon XSi, which I've heard/read so much about. But he didn't. Instead he grabbed the Olympus E520. Heard of it? He went on to tell me why it's a far superior camera to both the Canon XSi and the Nikon D40!

(Click on the Nikon D40 to read more about it)

At that moment, I felt like somewhat of a brand snob. You know...the kind of person that buys product based on brand name? oh come on...don't look away and pretend you don't do the same thing. I have to admit - at first, I was reluctant to hear what he had to say about this "quiet brand" I'd so far heard so little about. Anyway...Roger explained that the E520 was superior in make and image quality. Their lenses are specifically made for the digital SLR cameras, as opposed to Canon and Nikon that still use standard film SLR lenses. Olympus also has the image stabilizer built into the body of the camera, as opposed to each individual lens (which is what canon and nikon do). Therefore, the picture tends to be much sharper, and the lenses themselves aren't quite as pricey. By this point, the E520 is starting to sound pretty good.

(Click the E520 to read more about it)
But on the other hand, am I ready to jump into the digital SLR world? I keep going back and forth and back and forth. They have "transitional cameras" such as the Canon PowerShot G9. These cameras are more advanced than the standard point and shoots, but not quite a digital SLR. Should I go with something like that? Children are in the near future, and I would much prefer to shoot with a dSLR with them. Is it worth it to buy a transitional point and shoot now, and then in 2 years, upgrade to a dSLR? What do I do? What would you do? Every person I spoke with at NCE recommended going with the E520.
(Click the Canon G9 to read more about it)
You would think by this point, I would have made my decision. But if anything...I'm more confused now than I was before my camera search began. Help! I'm sure some most of you know much more about this than I do. So please...tell me what you think/know! I would love feedback. Thank you for taking the time to read this boring delightful post and share your opinion!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not a Comedy After All

Warning: May contain some heavy content. (It's just one of those days.)

Work. A word or topic that I've yet to touch on this blogosphere. Questions such as: Is it taboo? Is it appropriate? Is it bad? Is it good? Well you know what? After NOT writing anything even remotely close to a post on my job, I have decided to say "forget it!" I'm writing about work!
Let me explain: If you work at a job like I do, there are daily happenings that one cannot ignore. Impossible. It's comedic, it's tragic, it's entertaining all in the course of one day.
Comedic? you ask. I work for a company that has a warehouse. In the warehouse we have a gentleman by the name of, well? we'll just call him Gerry. Gerry is 65 and on his way to retirement. Gerry is tired. Gerry is the definition of tired. Ever day at exactly 9:30 am, one can find Gerry at his workbench, on his stool, sitting up, and sound asleep. ASLEEP! Our company also has a company van. At 11:00am everyday, Gerry can be found (are you ready for this?) IN the company van, in the passenger's seat, buckled in, again sound asleep. Now if this occasionally happened, maybe it would be a little more understandable. The hilarity of this situation increases - just wait. The president, boss, head honcho, "knows-all, sees-all" of the company, DOES KNOW about Gerry's daily snoozes. He knows about them because he sees Gerry sleeping. And every day, it continues like the day before. Boss knows, boss doesn't care, Gerry continues to sleep. After awhile, when walking passed the van, one can't help but chuckle, or chortle, or giggle at the sight of little Gerry snoring away in the van. Sleep away Gerry...sleep away.
Entertainment? We have another gentleman that works in the back for us. Let's call him Chuck. Chuck is from Thailand. Chuck knows about 10 words of English. Therefore, Chuck constantly has questions concerning the shipments he's sending out, or the packages he's supposed to be packaging. Here in the office, there are two lovely ladies: Pearl and Rosie. Pearl and Rosie have zero tolerance or patience for Chuck. Sorry Chuck! Daily, I get to hear renditions of "He shipped the wrong part again!" or "It's gone to Canada, instead of England!" Then little Chuck will rush into the office and try and explain for 10 minutes what happened. Exit Chuck: Pearl and Rosie burst into laughter/tears and sing the age old tune of: "I didn't understand a word that poor man just said!"
Tragedy: We have a wet-behind-the-ears sales rep. Let's call him Sam. Sam is a Caucasian who grew up in the suburbs of middle-America. Hi Sam. Sam talks only in what I like to call "fake" Ebonics. Period. Examples: "What up, Homes?" "S'up?" "It'll be a'ight." "Man, that's totally phat." Let me remind you again that Sam grew up in the suburbs of middle-America. So here's our new rep, calling current customers, speaking to them in this "accent" that is really and truly only doing himself a huge disservice. Oh Sam. Every time I hear him on the phone I cringe and try and plug my ears and wince and wish and wish that he would just stop.
So we've got comedy, entertainment, tragedy, and...plain reality. Where does the reality come in? Well, in all honesty, all joking and fake names aside: the company I work for is drowning. In this bad economy, our company is sinking. And I sit here day in and day out, counting the lack of money coming in, counting the lack of incoming calls and wondering how we can survive to make it through another day. (Is it okay to say this here?) I'm worried and concerned. And despite the painful comedy that goes on around here...I'm finding myself thinking: this isn't very funny at all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Girls DO Have Fun

Alternately Titled: Ode to Girls Day

This past weekend Nick was out of town. (For those of you confused, Nick = McDreamy. One and the same.) He was having one of those rugged-manly-backwoodsman kind of weekends. That left me to fend for myself. If you can call it fending. I was able to have a really wonderful Saturday with the girls. To start the day off, a large group of us went to this garage sale that was the talk of the town. Seriously. Laugh all you want. But this is the garage sale of the year and people talk about it for weeks. They even make "lists" of things they are looking to get. I was a first-timer, and had no list. I walked away with a never-before used Starbucks mini-mug. Yeah...exciting. BUT...despite my lack of a list, I heard from most that this year was a disappointment. The garage sale was...okay. My dear friend Jessica quite agrees with her post of Mildly Disappointed. My sentiments exactly Jess.

After leaving the mildly disappointing garage sale affair, the three of us girls headed to one of the best farmers markets I've seen here so far. It was huge, it was full of people, and they had a little bit of everything. Not just food, (and boy was it yummy food) but they had shops of all kinds. The sun was out, and the cool soon-to-be-autumn breeze was blowing. It was lovely. We dinked around there for awhile, and then headed to a place called "Litens"...I think. Litens is the largest party warehouse I've ever been to. They have everything for everything. Any theme, any color, any utensils, party favors, hats, cardboard cut outs, and on and on and on and on and on. You'd think we'd get overwhelmed...but that was not the case. We exclaimed over and over "They have everything." And, "why have we never heard of this place before??" It was a find a I tell you...a find. After exploring all we wanted, we got down and silly...and had a blast!

After we were done exploring Litens, we grabbed some iced coffee and headed to the lake. We walked and sipped coffee and sat and chatted and people watched...and it was lovely. The girl time we get is always fun and spontaneous and somewhat girly...and just plain wonderful. Note to Kellie: Thank You, for wearing those pink earrings. Thank. You. Nobody pulls off 80's jewelry/clothing like Kellie, and I have to thank her for it...because nobody can make 80's fashions look so....good? All in all, I had a rockin' weekend with the girls (yes-I did just say rockin'...) and I can't wait for the next one!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mother Daughter Day

This past weekend, we were able to travel home to Wisconsin...yes, I am a cheese head. And yes, we do like to eat cheese as a snack...get over it already! Anyway... My parent's place, and the home I grew up in, is not too far from Madison, which is a great city, if you've never been. My Mom and I had the opportunity to spend some good quality time together on Saturday. It was the Badger's first game of the season, so McDreamy and my Dad devoted their Saturday to cheering them on. That left me and Mom to head to Madison. We took in a farmer's market where we browsed breads, veggies, and some delicious local cheese. We walked away with a bag of fresh garden veggies, and some yummy 'Tuscan Dream' cheese. I think one of the coolest things about that little trip was that my mom grew up with the cheese maker. They talked small talk, he told stories of my grandfather, and he was able to refer me to some great local cheese makers up where we live. If I remember correctly, his name was Greg. So...thanks Greg!

After the farmer's market, my mom took me to Penzeys Spices. I'm assuming there are those of you that have already heard of it. And surprisingly, there is a store right where I live. Anyway...Penzeys Spices is a cornucopia of incredible spices and herbs from around the world. There are samples of everything in their store. Spicy Indian curries, smokey Hungarian Paprikas, fragrant Saffron from Spain, heavenly Dutch cocoa and on and on and on. And, the best part of it all, is that it's not over-the-top-take-your-breath-away expensive! Thanks Penzeys!

Finally, Mom introduced me to Vom Fass. Never heard of it? There is only one in the United States, and it's in Madison, Wisconsin. It originated in Germany, and they also have a store in England. Vom Fass translates literally as 'from the cask' and this is the core concept of the brand. Often described as an Aladdin's Cave for food and drink lovers or a Sweet Shop for Grown-ups, Vom Fass stores house a fine selection of fruit vinegars, exquisite oils, selected wines, exclusive liqueurs and a wide choice of spirits, all bought from the cask. I walked into the store, and just stopped. The casks are organized by content, and beautifully arranged. You are introduced to the store by one of the many professional chefs they have on staff. They take you from cask to cask to sample any and everything they have to offer. If you decide you'd like to purchase something, you choose from 50ML all the way up to 500 ML. Then you choose from a plethora of uniquely designed bottles. They fill the bottle, and an artist on staff writes the name of the contents on the bottle. It's extravagant and a bit pricey, but well worth it. I walked away with a flask of Avocado Oil (if you've never heard of it...look it up and be amazed at how versatile it is!) and a bottle of 25 year aged Balsamic Vinegar. The whole experience was just so unique, and special since I was able to share it with my mom.
As I get older, I expected that the age difference between myself and Mom would grow more noticeable. However, it's quite the opposite. I feel that gap less and less. Instead, we seem to be growing closer and closer together. She's one of my closest friends, and I'm so blessed to also call her Mom. Mom, if you're reading this...thanks for the girly fun this weekend. I look forward to the next time...and the next time...and the next get the picture...
With that, it's time to say goodnight. So, goodnight.