Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 59 - Winter Jam

Tonight I went to the Winter Jam concert with my friend Lindsey, her husband Casey and her mom who was in town visiting. (Quinn stayed home to finish working on our upstairs railing, whahoo).

It is a larger Christian music tour that has stops all across the US. It was only $10 and there was no pre-show ticket sales, so we got there around 5 for the show to start at 6. Once we got in and found some seats we only had to wait a few more minutes before the different groups took the stage.

During one of the performances they brought out these huge, fun balloons that bounced around

We ended up staying until the intermission, the vibe was a little odd and it was already 8:00 so the rest of the show probably would of kept us there until after 10:00. Even though we left early and missed seeing Third Day & Tenth Avenue North we did get to see some great bands in the first half including Sidewalk Prophets & the Newsboys - both were awesome.

I am glad I decided to get off the couch and get out to listen to some good music with great friends.

Other Firsts: Tonight was the first time I met Lindsey's mom, she was such a nice lady and made me miss my momma :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 58 - A Home Show & La Cucina di Mamma

I had never been to a home show until today. Our good friend Scott works at Pella windows and was able to get us a couple of free tickets to the Johnson County Home Show. Quinn's parents were in town so they came with us and we met up with Quinn's brother and his family too (and they actually were handed a pair of tickets on their way in plus the kids all got in free so no one had to pay, which made it even better)

The show turned out to be pretty interesting. We have a huge list of projects we would like to accomplish and were able to talk with a handful of people. I think the most surprising was we discovered for a reasonable price we can get a new garage door (installation and everything included) - they are coming out to give us an estimate on Friday :)

Also, while walking around the different exhibits we noticed this funny 2-person jacket. So we decided to try it out (picture to follow). $120 was the asking price for one of these so as much as I liked being zipped up with Quinn we decided to pass ;)

Other Firsts: After the show we all headed strait to dinner. We went to this great little Italian restaurant, La Cucina di Mammma and it is also an Italian market during the day, Bella Napoli. Our table actually was right in the middle of the grocery area in front of the meat and cheese cases - yummy! I ordered one of the specials, fettuccine with a porcini mushroom cream sauce and it was delicious.

It was such a lovely day!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 57 - Patatas Bravas

Tonight was a 'Wine Night' and the selection was sangria. We split up in teams of 2 and ended up with 4 very different, very tasty sangria's. To go with the Spanish drinks Anne made spinach & cheese enchiladas and had some other festive, delicious foods. Since I am doing something new each day and have made sangria before I offered to make a side dish. Two of my favorite restaurants (one in Omaha and one in KC) are places that serve Spanish tapas and at both places I usually get Patatas Bravas so tonight I decided to make this on my own. I had almost all the ingredients on hand and only had to pick up some potato's (1.99 for a whole bag - we always buy them individually because we only need a few, but this was such a great deal and another first)


4 tablespoons of olive oil
6 Russet potatoes, peeled, and cut to cubes
2 tablespoons minced onion (I used about 1/2 onion)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
1 teaspoon ground thyme
3/4 cup (4 fl. oz) Ketchup
3/4 cup (4 fl. oz) Miracle Whip
Additional olive oil , to cook the potato's

To begin, I scrubbed, peeled & cubed the potato's

Next I put a good amount of olive oil into the pan at med-high heat. After adding some salt & pepper to the potato's I added them so they could begin to cook while I worked on the sauce

For the sauce I first added about 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a new pan and let the onions cook down for about 3 minutes ,I then added the garlic and cooked another couple of minutes. I then turned off the heat and added the thyme, paprika, parsley & Tabasco and mixed well

I transferred the mixture into a larger bowl and added the ketchup & Miracle Whip

As the potato's cooked I stirred occasionally and after about 20 minutes they were ready (fork tender) and the potato's went into the bowl with the 'Bravas' sauce

This was a very simple dish and it turned out great. Next time I will use a different pan to cook the potato's in - something that won't stick so I can get a better crisp on them.

Other Firsts: I bought a whole bag of potato's for the first time . . . look out for more potato-based meals soon :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 56 - Chayote

Tonight I tried a chayote (chay-O-tay)

It is a vegetable that is part of the squash family. Quinn picked it up about a week ago (I asked him to get something interesting at the store so I would have something new on-hand if I needed it). Because it is a type of squash it keeps well for several weeks when lightly wrapped in plastic and refrigerated

I pulled out my Fresh Produce Guide to learn a bit more about the chayote. When selecting one, you want to make sure it doesn't have any blemishes and is firm. Also, smaller chayotes tend to be more tender. The first step to prepare the chayote is to simmer it in lightly salted water until it just becomes tender.

Once it is slightly tender you remove it from the pan and slice it down the middle to remove the edible 'pit' and then bake it in the oven until just brown. The 'pit' or seed in the center looked like a giant bean and was actually very tasty, it had a nutty flavor and a texture similar to edamame.

Once you bake it the skin should either be removed or you should just avoid eating it.

The chayote was interesting and reminded me of a zucchini.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 55 - pop, Pop, POP . . . tic toc - tic toc

Tonight our second Netflix movie arrived - Cinderella Man (no, we have never seen it - I am telling you, we never watch movies . . . well not before we had Netflix) It was such a great movie - amazing that it is a true story.

In addition to watching a new movie tonight I decided to make homemade popcorn, right on the stove top. I think I remember my mom making it this way when I was a kid (mom can you confirm this for me). Anyway, I had never made popcorn from scratch and was excited for fresh popped corn :)

I used canola oil and good old Orville Redenbacher kernel's.

Quinn was getting hungry and it was taking so much longer than the microwave stuff

Well . . . I think I needed to crank the heat up (it said medium heat) but it was taking forever so by the time I finally did turn the heat up the kernel's had gotten a little toasty and once it popped it had a bit more of a crunch than we were hopping for

so . . .

Yes we ended up getting out a trusty bag of microwave popcorn.

If I wouldn't of waited so long on the first batch I may of given it a second attempt, but that will have to wait until the next movie arrives :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 54 - Calzones at Home

Tonight we were about to make a pizza for dinner and were discussing what I should do new for the day when Quinn suggested instead of pizza we make a calzone - works for me!

We got the dough from our favorite pizza place, Minsky's and cooked up some ground turkey that I seasoned with fresh onion & garlic. I added about 1/2 cup of marinara sauce and 1/2 cup of Alfredo sauce.

I also added in some fresh spinach

and once that cooked down the calzone mixture was all ready

I put a bit of olive oil on the dough

and then added the turkey & spinach mixture

Just before folding the dough over I sprinkled a bit of shredded Parmesan and mozzarella on top

I used some corn meal to slide the calzone onto our pizza stone and cooked it at 420F for about 30 minutes. It split open slightly, but still looked pretty good to me

I served it with a side of marinara sauce and some freshly diced tomatoes

It was yummy, although next time I think I may make us each a mini-one instead of one giant one - might be a little easier to eat :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53 - A Mission Mass

Our church is offering a Lenten Parish Mission that began on Sunday and runs through Wednesday night. Although Quinn and I are not able to make all of the masses and discussions we thought it would good to at least go the one night we could make it - tonight.

The Mission was put on by the Redemptorists priest, they are a society of missionary priests that work through out the world. For our mission there was an older priest who has been with the Redemptorist for many many years and a young priest who gave his first every mission talk tonight. They both did a great job and it was interesting to have the perspective of both priests. They were both entertaining and as we were leaving Quinn made the comment that it was like going to story time :)

The theme tonight was Love Thy Neighbor and the symbol of tonights theme was the cross. There was also a discussion on Mary and the virtues. It was all very applicable to our lives and an hour and a half well spent.

Here is the prayer we concluded with tonight

Prayer of Discernment

My God and me ALL,
Increase my courage
To say YES to you;
Broaden my knowledge
To know more about others;
Expand my wisdom
To connect all the dots of life;
Deepen my humility
To constantly need you

Lift up my dreams,
So my dreams become yours;
That is my purpose.
That is the aspiration of my life.
And that is all I strive for.


This was the first time I have participated in any part of a Parish Mission. I was really happy to have been there and felt like I took away a good lesson. I am sure being at every session is even more moving and hope that next time we will be able to make the entire mission.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 52 - Clover Craft

I know it is still February, but March will be here before we know it (and March is looking to be a very busy month - my sisters baby is due to arrive on the 18th, it's getting so close & I cannot wait!). I recently took down all my Valentine's decor and my front door was looking naked, so tonight I made a St. Patrick's day inspired door decoration.

Before the weekend started we had big plans to be super productive, but as this morning rolled around we weren't nearly as far along on our list of 'to-do's as we had hopped. So after church, a quick run to the grocery story and a new frittata (told you I would be hooked - this time I put in turkey, spinach, tomato, mushroom, onion & cheddar cheese) for brunch, we got to work.

Quinn was in the basement. Organizing, rearranging and prepping the floor for a fresh coat of paint and then painting. I was in our room. Cleaning up (& relocating) my craft area, organizing and getting ready to start our next home-project - a master bathroom. As usually time flew by and around 8 o'clock I stopped to make dinner and once we finished eating I took inventory of what supplies I already had to make something creative . . .

My wonderful friend Stacy gave me some fabulous scrap booking supplies for Christmas, including a stack of fun glittery paper that I have been itching to use. I also had a dark green ribbon (left over from our wedding gifts) so I decided to make a 4-leafed clover door decoration.

Here are the supplies I used:
3 Sheets of glitter paper (I went with 2 green & 1 ivory)
7 Sheets of card stock (I used 2 ivory & 1 green for the clovers, 1 to make a template & 3 pieces for support to the back of the clovers)
Ribbon (about 3 or 4 feet long)
Craft glue
Craft knife
* I also used my circle template (another gift, this one from my good friend Katie), paper cutter and craft cutting board

To begin I made a clover template. I first made a 8&1/2" x 8&1/2" square out of a piece of black card stock. Then I made lines from corner to corner and center to center - this gave me 8 sections, 1 for each 1/2 clover. Next I traced a 2" diameter circle in center (to be sure I would have enough room for my ribbon). The last step was to fold and cut the clover shape (similar to how you would fold a piece of paper in half to make a heart).

Now that I had a basic 4-leafed clover I traced it onto the back of my 3 glitter sheets. And cut them out. My clovers didn't turn out perfectly symmetrical, but I decided in nature they probably wouldn't be either and that mine were just fine.

Next I glued the green clovers onto a sheet of ivory card stock and the ivory clover onto a sheet of green card stock and followed the clover around to make an outline.

Once I had my clovers all laid out I used a hole punch to make a template for stringing the ribbon through (because of the odd shapes I wasn't able to simply punch these out) and made 2 slices into each clover using my craft knife.

Finally I strung the clovers from my ribbon and added a round of black card stock to the back of each for extra strength and support to the ribbon. I hung it on my from door by pushing a flat push pin through the ribbon into the top of my door.
This project was very simple and fun - I estimate that it took me 1.5 hours to complete and if I would of had a clover template probably would of taken half that time.

Other Firsts: When I cook . . . I usually don't follow a recipe and certainly don't keep track of how much of this or that I add in, so I don't typically include my made up recipes as a first, but dinner tonight was just so delicious I wanted to fill you in.

Earlier today, at the grocery store the EZ peel shrimp were on sale and looked good so I bought 3/4lbs of that, then as we were getting in line to check out there was a loaf of that yummy grocery store made garlic bread (I honestly cannot tell you the last time I had this stuff . . . maybe the first time Quinn made me dinner for the first time and burnt the bread - 9 years ago) so that calling my name and I threw it in the cart. When Quinn gave me a funny look I informed him we were having pasta for dinner (I made this decision just about 4 seconds earlier).

Back to dinner - lets call it Shrimp Pasta with a Kick.

You will need:
Angel hair pasta (think I used half a bag)
3/4 lbs of shrimp
1 can of quartered artichoke hearts
olive oil
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
1 green onion (chopped)
1/2 white onion (diced)
1 garlic clove (diced)
red pepper flakes (about 2 teaspoons)
dried oregano (about 1 tablespoon)
dried parsley (about 1 tablespoon)
cayenne pepper (about 2 teaspoons)
cracked pepper
Shredded mozzarella (about 1.5 cups)
*optional: 1 loaf of grocery store garlic bread

1. In a your largest skillet add about 2 tbl. spoons olive oil & a shake of red pepper flakes - warm to medium heat.
2. Peel shrimp, toss them with some salt & pepper and add to oil in skillet
3. Boil water to cook pasta
4. In a second skillet add some butter (maybe a table spoon) and at medium heat cook onion, garlic & green pepper
5. Flip shrimp
6. Add pasta to water
7. Preheat oven to 350F
8. Once shrimp are pink throughout (probably 5 minutes total) remove from skillet and set aside.
9. Add marinara sauce to skillet (same one you used for the shrimp - don't clean it). to the sauce add a few more shakes of red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, oregano and parsley and cook at medium heat (I also added a couple pinches of sugar).
10. Remove pasta from water and set aside. (I spooned some of the pasta water into my marinara, about 1/2 of a cup)
11. Add the onion, garlic & green pepper mixture to the marinara sauce
12. Put garlic bread in oven
13. Open & drain artichokes, add them to the marinara
14. Add the cooked shrimp back to the marinara mixture, reduce heat to medium-low
15. Toss the pasta with the marinara mixture
16. Put pasta in a casserole dish & top with shredded mozzarella - bake in oven until cheese melts - I ended up broiling it.
17. Take garlic bread out of oven (if you broil the pasta dish take the bread out first)
18. ENJOY!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 51 - ARTichokes

On Thursday our niece Mia turned 6.

She loves to be creative and had her 'friend' birthday party (I believe this was celebration #4) at this charming little art gallery called ARTichokes. Quinn and I went to help out (we basically just took turns holding our niece Talia - tough job, but somebody's gotta do it).

I was so impressed with how the party went. First they had all the kids draw a picture of Mia using markers. For the next project each kid got a canvas to paint on. The final project was a large canvas that every kid took turns painting and Mia got to keep. For this project, Mia let them know she wanted a garden and they (the 2 ladies fromt he gallery who were running the party) took care of making sure it turned out great!

Since only 2 kids could paint at a time for the final project, they also got out some clay to keep everyone else occupied. Here's Quinn & our niece Remi with the snakes they made.

Once the party wrapped up Quinn and I took a few minutes to walk around the rest of the studio and see the art. There was a large variety of oils, acrylics and other unique art on display and it was nice to spend some time admiring it all.

Don't be surprised if I end up taking an art class or going for a girls night out at ARTichokes for another first somewhere down the road.

Other Firsts: Our friends Katie & Scott introduced us to a new restaurant tonight, Ponak's Mexican Kitchen. The Lief's came too. Quinn, Casey and I had never been and Lindsey had only been once, Katie & Scott are regulars (mainly thanks to Scott and his appreciation of their good margarita's).

On the way there, by the way Katie & Lindsey were talking, I was getting a little nervous (they had mixed reviews) but once we got there and saw it was packed I was feeling more optimistic and by the time we left I decided I actually liked the place. The food was nothing amazing, but it was good and of course we had great company. My favorite part of the evening was getting to celebrate with the Lief's - THEY ARE HAVING A BABY!! They went through quit the roller coaster over the last week and finally got to see their baby's heartbeat on Friday morning.

Such a wonderful, fun-filled day. Now off to bed so we can be productive tomorrow!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 50 - Surprise (Quinn bought concert tickets)

I had been in Omaha for work part of this week and was really looking forward to getting home this afternoon and to having a nice, relaxing & productive weekend. . . Mother Nature had other plans - most of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri & Iowa had no weather issues - but, as luck would have it, the route I had to take from Omaha to Kansas City was pretty bad. I decided to take my time, be extra careful and at least attempt to get home - if it felt like a bad idea I was going to turn back and stay in Omaha an extra day.

It was tense at times and I was going around 10 mph, but just over 4 hours later I made it home - safe, sound and very thankful.

While all this was going on, Quinn was up to something. He had mentioned Rascal Flatts concert tickets earlier in the week, but with the weather he didn't want to buy them with the chance of me not getting home.

The long ride home wore me out, and once I got settled in and had a late lunch - I took a nap. Quinn called and woke me up just before 5 and asked what I was planning on doing for the night. I told him I had no idea, but wouldn't mind taking it easy. That's when he told me we had tickets for concert - wha hoo!! (Once I had checked in with him on my way back and was at the half way point he went to ticket master, found great seats and made the purchase :)

Show time starts at 8

We made it to the Sprint Center by 7:30 and found our seats. Here's a quick shot I took before the show

They were AWESOME! I still have no idea how we got so lucky the day of the show.

The Opening act was Darius Rucker (formerly 'Hootie' as in the Blowfish). This was the first time I had ever seen him perform and I was blown away.

He played his country hits first and by the end of his set was rocking old Hootie & the Blowfish songs. It was great!

Then the Rascal Flatts took the stage and their high-energy performance was so much fun!

Quinn tried to get a picture of me with them in the background, but with the lighting - all you can pretty much see here is that it is a concert and a dark figure to the left (that's me)

There were fireworks . . .

And fog . . .

They brought this little girl onto the stage and she was loving every minute of it - high fiving the crowd and everything. (On our way out we saw her and her mom leaving and I gave her a high five too, what a fun memory for her)

During the encore Darius joined Gary, Jay & Joe (The Rascal Flatts) for a couple of songs.

I don't remember why we are making these funny faces. . . must of been our reaction to one of the songs

Thanks Quinn for a wonderful night out on the town!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 49 - A New Prayer

It is Lent, a time to remember all that Jesus did for us and continues to do every day. Most importantly we reflect on the Passion of Christ. We may give something up or do something extra (I know I have my list of Lenten promises I am working on) but most importantly it is a time to grow in our faith.

With that, I decided that today I would find a new prayer to guide me through the next 40 days, until Easter. I googled and found some websites and there were, of course, plenty of prayers out there - but nothing that really fit what I was looking for. Rather than simply copying a prayer, I am going to add some brief thoughts that I will use through out Lent (and beyond).

Lately, when I pray I have been trying to keep things simple. For a while now I have been praying to find Peace, Hope and Love (and thanks to my dad) I have recently added Grace to this list. I have a pretty good image in my mind for Peace and Love (I mean, we even know symbols created to represent these things) and Hope is something we do probably every day, but Grace is a bit trickier - when I hear the word Grace, I can't help but wonder - what exactly is Grace? After some quick research, this is what I have come up with

Grace is the kindness of God, no matter what - it is there. Grace is beautiful

Also, I wanted to share a simple verse I saw on another great blog, this is worth passing along:

Love never gives up,
never loses faith,
is always hopeful and
endures through every circumstance
(1 Corinthians 13:7)

And lastly, I though I would end with this prayer, that I stumbled across while searching for a new Lenten prayer. I know it's not specific to Lent, but the message really works for me.

Prayer to know the Way of Peace
Father of Heaven and earth,
hear my prayer and show me the way to peace.
Guide each effort of my life
so that my faults and my sins
may not keep me from the peace You promised.
May the new life of grace You give me
through the Eucharist and prayer
make my love for You grow
and keep me in the joy of Your Kingdom.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 48 - Netflix

Quinn LOVES movies and although I rarely take the time to watch a movie, once I am watching one I usually enjoy it - so for Valentines Day I got Quinn a subscription to Netflix. I figured as long as we got through 2 movies a month (this seems reasonable) it would be worth it, plus with all the knitting and other projects I have been working on lately it might be nice to have a movie on in the background once in a while.

Tonight our first movie arrived with the mail (I also love how convenient Netflix is). The movie was Couples Retreat, so this evening we watched our first Netflix rented movie. It's a funny and enjoyable movie - we will drop it back in the mail tomorrow and wait to see what shows up next ;)

Other Firsts: Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, so could do not eat meat. We had a little crab meat left over from Valentines Day so I made crab frittata's for dinner that were delicious (if I do say so myself). Isn't the word frittata great! (I can't believe this is the first time I ever made a frittata - this was a first that won't be a last)

First I tossed in some red onion, after that cooked for a minute or 2 I added some mushrooms and the crab meat (this looked and smelled so good I was tempted to just serve this for dinner).

Then I added the eggs, cooked those on medium heat for a few minutes and finished by topping with some shredded white cheddar cheese and baking it in the oven at 340F until it all set up and the cheese was nice and melty.

We cooked up some brussel sprouts & potatoes and dinner was served