Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Favorite Game

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home Sweet Home

As a child, I wondered how I could ever leave home. As I got older and had my first apartment, I wondered if I would ever feel like my childhood home wasn't home anymore. As I visited my parents at their house (the same one I grew up in for 19 years), I finally realized over 4 days that I missed my house. I really do love being at my home. I love the same things I see every day. The things I own. The things I put in their place. It's comfortable. For this blog, I thought I'd share a few of the things I love about our home. Things. Sights. Places.

I always feel at home in a kitchen. While my kitchen is small, it is functional. And I appreciate the window that helps to light up the yellow paint on our walls.
My first decoration when we moved in was old spoons from Goodwill. Very kitcheny, I think.
My workstation. My sewing machine. Ahh, creativity in such a small space. It's wonderful.

Meet Edward. I am attached to him. Not quite sure what he is. A mix between a Dodo bird and a muppet, perhaps. He's a hand carved souvenir from a free trade shop in Wisconsin.

Last but not least... I love any place our pugs cuddle up. So cute. It never gets old. When the pugs are curled up, you know it's a peaceful place.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Highlights

What a great Christmas! I hope everyone else can say the same. This Christmas was unlike any other! I got great presents, spent some quality time with family, and ended up buying a car! Here are some highlights in pictures.
While all of my presents were awesome, this little gem was my favorite. Guess what they are. Pugs, yes. Porcelain trinkets, perhaps. But they have a function far greater than sitting on a shelf. Any guesses? SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS! How awesome is that? Oh... I'm so going to be the old lady who collects every little pug thing possible. And these will be among the collection.
Here's another of my Christmas presents. This one is as thoughtful as it is beautiful. It's a beaded clutch purse handmade by women in Hanoi. There is a company called Global Girlfriend that promotes fair trade and helps give women in poverty a way to earn an honest living.

And then we bought this. A 2005 Chevy Equinox. We only just started looking at cars that we were interested in after my little car started having some troubles. Randy and I decided that we needed something bigger... for our family now (two pugs) and whatever may come years down the road (more dogs... or a child???). So, when we went home for Christmas, we agreed that we would just look and perhaps test drive a few things.... you know, just to get a feel of what we would like. Then Randy got obsessive about looking for a good deal. One thing led to another. And we have a great car. It was a deal we couldn't pass up, and I'm absolutely in love with it. So glad it's mine.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Done and Done

It's no lie that a homeowner always has projects to complete around the house (especially when that house was built in the 40's). But with a busy school schedule, I hardly had time to sit down and complete any project after dinner was cooked, lesson plans were made, and pugs were fed and well played with. However, I've been off for a few days now, and so project time has come!

House Problem #1: Our side door is quite drafty. Randy put weather striping around the door, but the bottom is still quite airy.
Project Solution: A door draft stopper. Fun and easy to make.

Sand-filled fabric bag... wrapped in tape to prevent sand explosion disasters in the hallway

Wha la! The finished product.

House Problem #2: I'm not a jewelry person. But I've really been trying harder to accessorize my outfits to look more professional. I've been getting more earrings and long necklaces, but the space in my little jewerly box is limited.

Project Solution #2: My grandmother had old wooden shutters laying around. I figured they would be the perfect tool to keep my jewelry in a place where I'd be inspired to acutally wear them.

Untwisted paperclips help to hand the necklaces.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Card in the Theme of My Mother-in-Law

* Before I begin, anyone who does not know my mother-in-law may not understand my blog. She is a nice, God-fearing woman. She is also an obesely overweight diabetic who eats more sweets in a setting than I would in a week. She's loud and imparts her viewpoints without a hesitation. And her highlighted personality trait is that nothing.... absolutely nothing is a secret. Straight-forward and succinct, she will tell you ALL about her health problems ranging from a kidney stone caught in her urethra (yes, that made this year's Christmas card!) to her arteries like a 20 year-old due to a heart cath (that made last year's Christmas card). So, in honor of my dear mother-in-law... my Christmas card in the theme of my mother-in-law (with similiar grammatical errors, as she would have written them). Without further ado...

Greetings one and all! We hope you are well and looking forward to the holidays! It's been cold and icy here, so Randy and I usually stay home on days like this. Although, I stay home all the time because I don't have a job.
This year, I'm still in school. Seems like I've been in school forever, doesn't it? I know Randy thinks I'm worthless since I can't help our financial situation. Sometimes I don't think this degree will be worth it. I saw what I'd be making in schools down here, and $37,600 a year just doesn't seem like very much for a master's degree. As for my health, I've been doing okay. I don't have any health insurance because it's too expensive to put me on Randy's plan. And because I don't have a job, I can't afford any.
As for Randy, he quit Farmers. He hated it so much. He couldn't stand to be there one more second. So, he's a claims adjuster for an auto body shop in Missouri. He likes it, although he took a $5,000 pay cut. Randy's also been in a band. He is the MC and lead singer. They call themselves the Mississippi Mud Ducks... sounds like a country band doesn't it? It's anything but! They play all sorts of rock music. I was hoping they played Christian songs, but they play ACDC and other rock music like that. I've heard them play and they are good. I don't say that because I'm prejudice. I've heard it from other people too! Randy is thinking about going back to get his Masters in Teaching. I hope he does it, but it would put us more in debt.
Sophie and Henry are still alive and kicking. Although, Sophie's had a lot of health problems lately. She's had two ulcers in her eye which are just like cuts in her eye. We have to hold her down to put eye salve in one or two times a day. She fights us every time. She also had issues with her bowel movements. Sometimes we have to take her into the vet, so the vet can clear her anal juices. Henry is doing fine. He sits at home and lays around most of the day. The only good thing about it is he is quiet. He doesn't snore like Sophie does. And he doesn't have the medical problems like Sophie does.
All of us sincerely hope you and yours have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a Joyous and Prosperous 2009.

Jenna & Randy, Sophie & Henry

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bah humbug

Christmas is creeping up on us. I can't believe it's only a few days away. And while I felt the Christmas spirit early on (more around Thanksgiving), the previous feeling has since died. I want to be in the Christmasy mood. But it's been kinda hard.

First, my car has a brake problem. For some reason, my emergency brake is sticking ever so slightly, and so my car will drive sluggishly and won't move forward or backward when my foot is off the gas or brake pedal. It's not a big deal. I'm sure it won't take much to fix it. It doesn't sound very expensive, but for some reason, it's really bumming me out. I hate having car issues when in three days, I'm driving it 4 hours north to my parents' house. Nothing worse than car troubles around the holidays.

Second, the weather here sucks. When I say this, I don't mean that it's a blizzard outside, and the roads are bad. I mean... it's December, and there's no snow on the ground, no flakes in the air, no hint of Christmas at all. It's grey. It's FREEZING. And it rains. And then freezes to become an icy abyss. But not Christmasy in the least. It's really difficult to get in the spirit when all I see is dead, brown grass. Alton must be in some weather bubble. You know it's bad when Arizona and Las Vegas get snow... and southern Illinois doesn't. So, I'm hoping when we travel up north to the Chicagoland area, I get a dose of Christmasy goodness when I see the 5 inches of snow on the ground that my parents continue to talk about. Ahh.. perhaps I will have a white Christmas... even if I have to travel 4 hours to get it.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! (sorry, I don't mean to be a downer)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Baking Bonanza!

I love baking. I have a toolbox of baking and decorating equiptment. Usually, I have no problem getting motivated to pop out a few dozen cookies for whatever event (or non-event) is coming up. For some reason, I've been putting off baking Christmas cookies. Perhaps because if they were laying around the house, all of them would find my mouth, eventually.

But time is up. Randy's family is having their Christmas tomorrow, so the baking had to be done today. And you know what... now that I'm back to baking, it feels good. I think I might just whip up some fudge for Randy's co-workers. Yep. It's gonna happen. I'm back on top of my game.

Sophie conveniently locates herself in the kitchen and dining area to increase the chances that some Christmas goodies will make it into her mouth. Lately, she's been getting braver about getting up on chairs and inching closer to her yummy targets.

Wha la! The cookies for tomorrow. Fudge is on its way.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Crafting Goodness

Crafting comes in spurts for me. There are times I get so impatient and can't stand how much time it takes to make something cute. But then, other times, like right now, I get into creativity mode and can't stop making things. Usually, it comes in the form of sewing. But today, it came in the form of paper.

May I present: Pooch Greeting Cards. They are cartoons of my pugs, Sophie and Henry. I love them. They are for sale at While I LOVE the pug ones, they are customizable to any pooch and breed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Very Deserving.

It's not news that Randy and I aren't rich. Not even close. With only one income, we have become very creative at penny pinching (which comes more naturally to me than to some.. *ah hem ... Randy). But it's that time of year. The season of giving.

When, in my family, presents are a big thing, I've cut back spending by making people at least one gift. But there's one thing I didn't want to scrimp on. Every year, Randy and I give to a charity that is close to our hearts. For the past couple of years, we've been giving to a pug rescue shelter... the one from which we adopted Henry. We know the people there. They are all volunteers. 100% of the money donated goes straight to vet bills, food, medicine, etc. for the puggers. So, again, they'll be getting our donation.

My point: think about giving to the charity of your choice for Christmas. Check it out... see exactly where your money goes. When you know who exactly is benefitting from the help, it really does help motivate you to pull out the wallet or write that check.

Don't have a charity to support? Check out ours... they'll always take whatever you can give.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Sweet Recipe

In my last post, I wrote about my adventures to the Quad Cities, but I failed to mention one worthwhile discovery: my forever friend's mom's homemade poppy seed salad dressing. It was sweet and delicious, and actually made me want to eat more salad (so you know it's gotta be good!). So, I asked for the recipe and have included it at the bottom.

This is how it turned out. Note the cute dollar-store glass bottle shaped like a bee hive. It makes me smile, since one of the dressing's main ingredients is honey. How sweet.

Poppy Seed Dressing

1/3 cup honey

2 tbl. cider vinegar

1 tbl. yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 c. salad oil (I used canola...)

2 tsp. poppy seeds

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend Roadtrip

I'm back... as promised! With updates on the girls' weekend. Springfield to the Quad Cities to Chicago and back again was definitely a lot of driving, but I had an awesome time with my forever friend. Here are some highlights.

We started early on Saturday by loading onto the charter bus full of church women. Here's a question: What do you get when you combine church ladies and a three-hour bus ride? GAMES! Oh, there were games. Here is how I feel about games, in general.

So the games began. First game... a singing game. Second game, a competitive game. Neither Mandi or I won... Mandi took it pretty badly.

But don't feel badly for her. By the third game, she ended up beating me by one in an all-out battle to see who had the most pennies.

Then, three hours later, we made it. Chicago. Cold. Busy. Fun. Just us girls (Mandi, her mom, and me). Here are a few highlights of the windy city all dressed up for Christmas.

Our long day ended by 10pm. We were all cold and tired. And the whole experience just confirmed my feelings that Chicago is a great place to visit, not to live. All in all... it was a success. Thanks to my forever friend for inviting me along (and thanks to her sister for letting me go in her place). They have a great family, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it for the weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Weekend Getaway

I've never had many girlfriends. Hardly ever have a "girls night out." I've never really minded all that much. Friends are friends, and that's good enough for me. But, I must say, I'm excited for a weekend getaway with my forever friend.

She invited me on a whirlwind road trip. Our schedule includes the Quad Cities, where her parents live. From there, we'll take a charter bus (full of older church ladies... awesome!) to Chicago to do shopping... or window shopping for us poor people. Then, back to the Quad Cities for a short stay. On Sunday, we'll head back home, stopping in Peoria to meet up with my forever friend's sister. In any case, it'll be an adventure. And will probably prompt a fun blog entry upon my return.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guitar, anyone?

Just in case there are musicians/aspiring musicians out there reading my blog, I just wanted to let you know that my husband is selling one of his guitars. Here's a brief description of it:

It's an Alvarez MD80 Masterworks Series Dreadnough Acoustic Guitar. It features solid Engelmann spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, bound rosewood fretboard, multi-ply maple top and back binding, abalone rosette, nickel die-cast tuners, an Indian rosewood bridge, and satin finish.

It's a beautiful guitar and is in excellent condition. My husband loved it but has since upgraded guitars. It comes with a hard case. If anyone's interested, just let me know in the comment section, and I can get in touch with you about price. Thanks!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas Coat

When we got our first pug, Sophie, Randy and I spoiled her like nothing else. Toys, treats, and dog clothes. She got a new collar every few months and new clothes whenever I got a whim. But, now that we have two pugs and money is a little tighter, those whims are few and far between. So, I often feel badly for Henry, our second pug, who didn't ever get the experience of being showered upon. Lately, I realized he really didn't have a nice dog coat. And, my forever friend has been hard at work creating cute & creative dog coats (that can be seen at our etsy shop here). Long story short... I've been inspired by her to try my hand at making a Christmas coat for our boy, Henry. Here is my very first attempt.

Henry's Christmas coat

up close .. gold & silver accents on cream knitted cotton with red belt

a picture of our girl, Sophie... because she hates when Henry gets all the attention

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finished just in time

Here they are. The completed knitted slippers. Just in time for below 30 degree weather that's coming our way. Warm, comfortable, and handmade. They definitely serve their function... but I didn't expect them to be quite as cute as they are. A happy surprise.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

At least one foot will be warm.

My latest endeavor has been knitting. I'm a novice without question, but lately, I've been all about self-taught skills (i.e. my violin... which has been going pretty well). Years ago, I bought a knitting kit that came with all the necessary accessories and a how-to book. This weekend, I finally dusted it off and did some light reading. I skimmed through the projects section and came upon cute knitted slippers. It just so happens I was in need of said slippers. So, I put on my patient hat and got to work.

Two and a half days later... TA DAH!

One cute, warm knitted slipper. Definitely was trial and error, but I must say it exceeded my expectations. Therefore, I have begun one my second knitted slipper. I guess my two feet will just have to learn to share for another two and a half days. It's a lesson in patience for us all :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Well, I'd like to thank....

Hooray! I've been "blinged!" While I must admit, I'm not quite sure what it all means, I'm very excited to be a part of it. However, I'm more excited to know that someone besides my sister is reading my blogs... thanks Vanilla Bean Counter! She sent me these rules that go with the bling by which I must abide.
(1) List six things that make you happy
(2) Pass the award on to 6 more kreativ bloggers
(3) Link back to the person who gave you the award
(4) Link to the people you are passing it on to and leave them a comment to let them know.

Okay, 6 things that make me happy...

1) Getting in bed early and watching an episode of whatever HBO show my husband and I are renting at the time. It's the only time that we both relax and forget about the day's events.

2) Any baking adventure. I love baking anything from cookies to cakes to pies. I think I'm in my element when I have the KitchenAid mixer going full blast and an oven preheating. I should have been a pastry chef.

3) Traveling. Although, I must admit, I don't get to do it often. However, this will change once I get a job and before I have kids. I've been across the United States and to Jamaica, but there are sooo many other cool places I'd like to see.

4) Photography. It's a passion of mine. I love the way things look through a camera lens.

5) MY PUGS! Any of my friends or family know that they are a huge part of my life. They are my children... or my "fur babies." They make me laugh... and only frustrate me a little. But their cuteness and unconditional love is totally worth it.

6) My forever friend. She's been awesome to have around during grad school. I don't think I could have gotten through it without her. I'm glad I could share all the frustration, stress, and hilarity experienced in our pursuit of higher education.... or just a freakin' job.

Lucky bloggers to receive the award next:
Waiting for Cider
Weber's in Action

The End of the Season

For some reason, we had awesome luck with tomatoes this year. So much so that Randy picked the last of the crop just a few days ago. To save them from the growingly cold temperatures of November, we brought them in and placed them in a sunny location in hopes they will turn ripe.
Here's to the end of the season.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Just wondering...

When are holidays ever your own? As a child, you go where your parents take you on holidays. It's easy, because you have no choice. But, being a semi-recent newly wed, my husband and I are trying to figure out the holiday thing. And things are never as easy as it was when I was a kid.

Take Thanksgiving, for example. We usually spend Thanksgiving with my husband's side of the family. This year, however, seems to be a big dilemma. Who's going to host it? Who's going to come... extended family? immediate family? in-laws? Well, Randy's older brother and his wife, Cheryl, decided to host it because they have two young children. But, plans are on a halt because of Cheryl's parents. They've been invited, but no one knows if they're coming. If they do come, there won't be enough room for everyone. BLAH.

So, here we are. Stuck in the middle. Between his side and mine. Trying our best to share time down the middle, but I miss my family. My parents haven't visited our house since early summer. The only other time we'll see them is Christmas. So, while everyone's still waiting on others to decide what's going on, I've made my plans. Thanksgiving at our house. My parents. Us. That's it. It'll be wonderful. Then, we'll decorate for Christmas the day after.

I guess that's how it has to be when you're married. Trying to spread yourselves so thin between families and holidays. I'm just wondering when the holidays will ever just be for Randy and myself. No demands. No promises. No 5 places to be in one day. No hearing through the grapevine that someone was upset that we couldn't be there for this holiday or couldn't stay longer for that holiday. I guess it's just time to put a foot down and make our own plans.

Ahh... just put this one under "Things they don't warn you about before marriage."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A bit early, I know.

I don't know what it is. I've never been like this before. Perhaps it's the retail industry's fault. Perhaps it's because this is my favorite time of year. But for some reason, I'm really into the holiday spirit. I can't wait for Thanksgiving, but even more so, I'm really excited about Christmas.

I know it's early. I usually make fun of people who want to get ready early. I usually cringe when Christmas music comes on right after Halloween. But this year, it doesn't bother me. Huh. Weird.

I think my increased spirit is because the holidays are the only time I really get to spend some good, quality time with my family, who lives so far away. And, now that Randy knows that he gets the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas off, I'm thrilled that we'll definitely get to go up north for our holiday visits. So, I'm spreading a little cheer early. I've even begun to make a few Christmas gifts. Cheer and creativity... such a great mix.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Bash '08

Another successful Halloween party! I can't believe that our little tradition has turned 3 years old. This year, we had a smaller, intimate party with two other couple friends, and it was a great time. And everyone's costumes... better than ever!

Randy, the saloon man

me, the saloon girl

Travis and Kim, the tacky tourists

Josh and Mandi as Fred and Daphne

Monday, October 27, 2008

Things to Know About the Constitutional Convention (Con Con)

On November 4th, Illinois voters will be faced with a decision to vote for or against a convention to write a new state constitution. I want to urge any reader to vote AGAINST "Con Con." Here's why:

- To hold a convention to discuss writing a new Illinois constitution will cost taxpayers between 78 and 100 million dollars. That money could better service schools in Illinois, rather than writing a new constitution that was just rewritten in the 70's.

- A couple years ago, the Illinois governor borrowed money from public teachers' pension fund and allocated that money to the Chicago bus transit system. As of right now, law requires an eventual reimbursment of the teachers' pension fund, no matter if the state has the money to pay it back or not. If a new consitution is written, the reimbursment to the teachers' pension may be dropped, saving the state a lot of money but leaving the poor educators of Illinois without their well-earned retirement money.

Con Con is an unnecessary event that Illinois does not need. A constitution written in the 1970's is considered a "fairly new" constitution that does not need revision at this time. In addition, the educators of this state deserve better than this. They work hard for little pay and little respect, and uneducated voters who randomly choose "yes" to Con Con may be condeming teachers to a scary future with little chance of any retirement whatsoever... not to mention a tax increase for all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Can I just say...

I'm sick of extremely conservative Republicans (like my mother-in-law) who vote straight Republican just because they are Republicans. BLAH.

Now, it's known that I'm one to impart my opinions (and it's my blog, so I can do so here), and it's also known that I'm quite a liberal Democrat on most issues. But, never will I go to the polling place, look at the candidates blindly and vote straight Democrat just because they share my party. I believe in educating yourself about the candidates' views and voting only after you have an idea of what the candidates are all about. This past election, I voted (in early bird voting) on three things: Illinois Constitutional Convention (more to come later about this), the President/Vice-President, and a state senator. That's it. Why? Because those are the issues/people I knew enough about to vote for/against them.

Not my mother-in-law (or father-in-law or brother-in-law, for that matter). When they see "Republican" next to the candidate's name, they know he/she is the right one to vote for... every time! It's as easy and as mindless as that!

And here's another thing that gets me... my mother-in-law recently said, "I'm not voting for Obama because he supports abortion." Really? Abortion? Is that the only issue you're looking to vote on? While the economy is in the dumps, and the middle class is becoming extinct, and unemployment is at an all-time high, and billions of dollars are being wasted overseas, and education in America is becoming a joke... the only thing you'd like to see changed is the laws on abortion? Wow. I guess in my mind, there are so many other horrible things going on in this country that need to be fixed, abortion isn't on the top of my list. Do I think it's disgusting? Yes. Would I personally ever have it done? No. But, I am completely against the government telling a woman what she should and shouldn't do with her body. THAT, I think, is crossing the line.

So, my point in this rant is to PLEASE be educated on the issues before you vote. Take the time to understand each presidential candidates' views and priorities, and see how they fit with yours. That, I believe, is really making your vote count.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


If Randy and I were never planning on having children, and if we didn't have two dogs, and if we didn't have so much stuff, this is where I'd want to live:

This is an eco-friendly house built in Wales. However, I believe my sister would endearingly call it a "hobbit house." While I'm not sure on the square footage, I found it on, so I'm inferring that the house is not grandious in size.

I got interested in tiny houses from a news report on CNN about people who are drastically down-sizing to houses around 100 sq. feet. It's definitely a different way of life, but I can understand the peaceful night's sleep one gets knowing that a mortgage payment and utility bills aren't draining the pocketbook. Alas, I'd have to ditch a lot of belongings... and possibly a husband to be able to survive in a tiny house that's really made for one-person living. Especially since my 1500 sq. foot house at times seems too small already.

For more information about this house, visit

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things I'd Love To Say To Professors*

- Why is it so difficult for people to become teachers between the grades of K and 12, but there are no strict qualifications for people to become professors? How does field experience alone qualify you to be a "good" educator?

- I understand that we may doodle on notebooks, check our facebook pages, and daydream in the middle of class, but we are legal adults. So, please treat us accordingly.

- In a short period of time, we will become your professional peers. So, please treat us accordingly.

- "Mental health days" are real, and graduate students do take advantage of them. If you don't believe in these days, we will subsequently be ill, have a death in the family, or have devastating car troubles... whichever reason you'll deem excusable.

- While you may chuckle in delight with your cunningness and creativity, assigning literature abstract reviews has indeed been done before. In every single class. The same goes for power point presentations.

- Soap boxes never do what you intend them to do. Like a teenager rebelling from strict parents, graduate students just end up loathing the subject of the rant, rather than becoming increasingly passionate about the said subject.

- Please keep in mind that we are paying our hard-earned (or hard-borrowed) money, so if we choose to skip class, it's on our dime.

- Please also keep in mind that because we are paying a pretty penny to gain your worldly knowledge, please avoid outlining the textbook for your lectures. We are capable of reading and comprehending.... amazing, I know.

- THE BIGGEST PET-PEEVE OF ALL GRADUATE STUDENTS is when you read word-for-word off of your power point slides. As stated above, we are capable of reading and comprehending. A three hour story time with the professor and the power point is nothing less than torture.

* Disclaimer: this blog entry comes only from my point-of-view and personal experiences with professors in graduate school.

Just one of the many.

I have a new pet peeve. I know I'm not perfect, and I'm sure I'm guilty of doing some things others loath. But, this is one that's just gotta be said.

There's an epidemic going on in the grammar world. I see it everyday. It's the "I" versus "Me" issue. The truth is, soooo many people have no idea when to use the subject pronoun "I" and when to use the object pronoun "me" in everyday language.

A good example would be the following. Suzy Q is on facebook. She tags a picture of herself and a friend. At the bottom, she titles the photograph "My friend and I."

AHHH. An offense has just been committed. MYTH: Saying "I" in all situations of grammar is appropriate and correct. After all, it's only polite to put yourself last and proper to use "I".
WRONG! Here's an easy way to know when you need to use "I" or "me".

Wrong sentence: "It's important to you and I" If you were to take out "to you" in that sentence, you would be left with, "It's important to I." That doesn't make any sense at all.

Right sentence: "It's important to you and me." Do the same exercise. Take out "to you" and you're left with "It's important to me." Ahhh, much better.

So, you're probably wondering why the heck I care so much? Well, I'm a bit neurotic, but I also care about grammar. And it gets me when I see sooo many people making this mistake. I know they think it makes them sound more educated, but really, to educated people, it just sounds stupid. It also gets me when I see people who are teachers making these mistakes. Call me a jerk, but I feel like if you're going to teach it, you, yourself, need to do it correctly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A few things.

With no specific topic in mind, I decided that I just had a few things to say.

* Early voting in Alton is wonderful. Randy and I went down to city hall at noon and casted our votes. No early-morning lines on November 4th for us!

* I think I have a gift to thrift. Or at least be a penny-pincher. Perhaps it's more a question of nature vs. nurture, but nonetheless, it's a gift. While Randy and I were about to spend $500 for floor tiles for our basement, I realized that our perfectly flat, crackless basement floor would look great painted. So, we have been busy tearing out carpet, accidently getting high on adhesive remover fumes, and painting to our hearts' desire. Yep... we saved $375 in total. It feels great!

* Cable has been cancelled. And we don't miss it. Ha! Take that, Charter!

* I love sleeping under a pile of blankets while the cool, fall air creeps into our open windows.

* I only have to go to work one day this week. My life is good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Official.

Randy accepted the new position as an automotive claims adjuster for a bodyshop in Missouri. With that happy news, we promptly cancelled cable. As much as I'll appreciate my husband's sanity and happiness with a different job, we'll definitely be cutting back. Next on our list: buying a car.... or truck, rather. His father is selling us his truck for dirt cheap and no payment timeline in sight. *sigh* But I hate owing family, so we'll be making the payments sooner than later.

Other news? Randy and I have been successful vegetarians for over one week. Direct quote from Randy: "It's really not as bad as I thought it would be." So, with buffets and a weekend home to my parents' house out of the way, we're still 100% vegetarian. We did not cheat. No meat was eaten. And it feels good. Another reason it felt good to be a "no-meat eater" was Oprah's show today (I got to watch it just before the cable was cut off). Her show was all about being a consciencious eater, knowing where your food comes from, and making ethical, informed decisions. On the show, Lisa Ling (does anyone else remember her from Channel One?) went inside commerical chicken, pig, and cow farms and compared them to free range and cage free farms. At the end of the show, I felt like I was doing my part to increase the humane treatment of animals... now if only we could get more people on board. Hm.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A season of change.

It seems that as Fall has come upon us, more change has been ushered in. Within one day of each other, Randy and I both got job offerings. Both were exciting to think about... for Randy because he hates his current job, and for me because I've never had a real job. However, with the positive aspects, there are definite down sides. For Randy, he'll be taking a pay-cut and will have to work a full year before he earns any vacation. His hours are a bit longer. His benefits will decrease a bit. And (this is the worst part), he'll need to buy a vehicle. For me, the pay is almost insulting, considering I'll have a master's degree. But, that's the only bad part. Everything else (like free health care, 3 months off in the summer, and working with people I really like) is simply awesome.

We've got some decisions to make in a short amount of time. And it's an understatement to say that making such a change is stressful, especially with an economy that is less than stable. We'll be penny-pinching a while before I can take my job in late April or early May. I guess these are the days that we'll look back on and laugh because we were young and poor. At least, I hope I'll be laughing....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vegan Brownie Recipe

Ultra-Fudge Brownies (12-16 brownies)
1 ¼ whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 tbl. Canola oil
1 tbl. Vanilla extract
¾ c. firm silken tofu, crumbled
½ c. water
½ c. pure maple syrup
½ to 1 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Mist an 8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir together until well-blended. Combine tofu, water, maple syrup, cocoa powder, oil and vanilla in blender and process until completely smooth. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Fold in walnuts. Pour batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake on center rack for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes clean. Cool brownies in pan. Cut and serve.

Per brownie: Calories 183, Protein 4g, Carbs 28g, Fat 7g, Fiber 3g.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yep, still vegetarian.

This is day three. And I'm still going strong. My diet really hasn't changed that much. But, I'm much more aware of what I'm putting into my mouth. Here's the run-down of a typical day.

* slice of homemade zuccini bread with a cup of blueberries

*soup or left-overs (today was spaghetti with marinara), applesauce, and carrots

* tonight we did stir fry with rice, whole wheat chips and bean dip
* homemade whole wheat brownie for dessert

Yep. That's a glimpse at "going vegetarian." See, there are still things you can eat. And I'm not starving. And we're already having some success. Randy just weighed himself tonight, and he's down 5 lbs. That's 5 lbs. in two and a half days. Hooray.

Now, the total test: visiting the folks this weekend who have the idea that a meal isn't a meal unless meat is on the plate. Hm. A test for sure.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"Then what are you going to eat?"

I'd say the title of this post could sum up 100% of the reactions of the people I told about my new vegetarian lifestyle. And the whole time, my wonderful, meat-loving husband (who is always up for trying my new whims and will also be trying the vegetarian lifestyle) sat and took it like a man. Well, at least he defended our choice. That's one of the many benefits of having a great husband....someone who will be there in the trenches with you when no one else is.

So, how is our first full day going? Surprisingly well. I knew that being a vegetarian wouldn't be as hard on me as it would be on Randy, but still, he seems to be doing just fine. Our menu for the day includes a breakfast of whole wheat french toast with sauteed apples, a lunch of Boca Chik'n Patties and whole grain chips with bean dip, and dinner will most likely be pasta with marinara and loads of veggies. In all my cooking fury (as I'm getting ready for a week of vegetarian-prepared meals), I did get some baking in. I made fudgey brownies with whole wheat flour. Haven't tried them yet, but they smell and look like the real deal, so we're keeping our fingers crossed. If they're good, perhaps I'll share the recipe with my non-vegetarian/vegan friends. If you're nice. :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

So, I've been thinking...

of becoming a vegetarian.

Unlike my usual pattern of decision making, this one has actually taken me a while. I began considering a vegetarian lifestyle in the early summer when I was reading about the reality of the meat industry and the near-extinction of farms as we imagine them (instead of Old McDonald, think massive structures of over-crowded animals that never know what sun or grass is and are not fed nutritious food but whatever will beef up the muscles to sell better at market). If you're interested in becoming more educated about the true meat industry, I suggest Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds about Animals and Food.

While the political reason for becoming a vegetarian has always been in the back of my mind, I decided to do more research when I heard of Dr. Neal Barnard, who writes about the near-perfect diet. I picked up his book called Breaking the Food Seduction. After reading his book, I was astonished to realize how bad meat and dairy products are for you. I think it's the Western culture that tricks us to think that we need to eat plenty of meat, cheese, and milk to gain protein and important vitamins and minerals. But, in reality, so many horrible diseases and health problems that are plaguing our society can be tied to these products.

Now, I can admit, I've never been a meat lover. I could easily do without red meat. Although chicken and turkey will be mourned for a short period of time, I honestly I think I can do it. I'm willing to give it a try.

So, what will I be eating? Well, according to the new food groups guidelines, I'll be indulging in a lot of fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains. Doesn't sound too bad. And, there are a plethora of great vegetarian options in the supermarkets these days. So, it'll be interesting... especially when I visit family and friends (I can just imagine my parents saying, "You can't eat meat? Then, what can you eat?). The book recommends that you try the "near perfect diet" (aka, the four new food groups) for three weeks, as this is the time it takes your taste buds to learn new, healthy tastes and forget the bad, unhealthy ones. So, don't be surprised if a vegetarian theme begins to occur in my blog within the next few weeks. I'll be letting you know how it goes.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Being an unemployed grad student isn't easy. Just ask one. My friend and fellow grad student, Mandi, and I have been trying to come up with unconventional ways to supplement our lack of incomes. We've both done the food service scene, and we don't like kids enough to be nannies, so we decided to combine our creativity and love of sewing and open an Etsy shop.

What is Etsy? Well, it's an online gathering of sellers who make wares and buyers who are looking for anything unique. It's a great way to support individuals' creativity and talents and a great alternative to buying mass-produced items at commercial stores.

So, what are we selling, you ask? Well, right now, it's a hodgepodge of things, since our interests are so vast. My specialities include stylish wine bags and vintage-inspired aprons. And if you ask me, Mandi's specialties include her awesome placemats and detailed embroidery pieces. However, we're posting items just as fast as we can make them, so there's sure to be more to come.

Have a look for yourself. We're at

Monday, September 22, 2008

And this one, too.

While I've never thought it possible for me to get through a book within 24 hours, I never thought it would be possible to do it twice in 2 days. I was wrong. The sequel to Twilight, while maybe not quite as good as Twilight, still made me worthless for another day. Good thing I went out and bought the third and fourth book. At this rate....