Clean Eating: Balsamic-Glazed Cracked Pepper Salmon and Sweet & Sour Chard w/ Pineapple

While I'm not entirely thrilled that my 3-day weekend is coming to a close, I accomplished so much I can't help but feel satisfied and happy. I got my taxes done and mailed (and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, thank GOD!), finally baked up that last tub of cookie dough I bought through a Christmastime fund-raiser a couple years ago (Chocolate Chunk and they are delicious!), bought groceries (most hated chore EVER!), and got a mani-pedi (and boy did that feel good!).

So what better way to celebrate my sucessful weekend than with a delicious clean and healthy meal? So I whipped up the Balsamic-Glazed Cracked Pepper Salmon and Sweet & Sour Chard w/ Pineapple from the Fall 2008 issue of Clean Eating magazine.

Salmon and chard 

Both recipies were super quick and easy to make and tasted fantastic! I baked the salmon instead of frying, and while it still tasted good, I think it affected the appearance of the salmon and the consistency of the glaze. Still, so long as it tastes good, I'm not too concerned about how it looks! (Frankly, I'm just thrilled my cooking skills have improved to the point that I'm not burning dinner and setting off the smoke detector all the time!)

Blooming Roses

This week has been SO insane with end-of-the-month stuff at work, intense workouts at the Club, mostly sleepless nights, and a feeling of general malaise and grumpiness and blah, that I hadn't even noticed my Midas Touch rose bush is blooming!


Like, in a massive way, blooming! I really think this is the most roses that have been out at one time since I planted it a couple years ago. Sadly many of the blossoms are already faded and will need to be dead-headed this weekend, but there are many new ones coming up to replace them:


And, really the week hasn't been ALL bad. I'm reading an awesome book right now, So You Think You Can Dance was AWESOME this week - I mean seriously, did you SEE Alex and Twitch's hip hop routine?!? -  tomorrow is Friday/payday/the start of the 3-day-weekend, and on Saturday I'm going to see Eclipse with a friend (maybe two) from work, so yay! I just feel icky and tired and generally just ... blah, but then I heard a Ken Davis spot on the radio on the way home reminding me that “ is a day that God made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”, and that just put everything into perspective and made me feel a lot better!

Backyard Update Part 1

I never did get around to writing about our adventures last weekend, and there's really no point in going on about it now, so here's a quick summary:

After six straight days of rain, mom and I ventured out to dig up the backyard to find the end of the drain which was installed shortly after I moved in, what? 11, 12 years ago? Something like that. Anyway, we hadn't had any significant rain fall since then so we were totally unprepared for it and the backyard flooded something fierce! le sigh!


After doing some digging, we discovered the drain didn't end in the middle of the yard as we originally expected, but makes a sharp curve and just ... ends. The rest of the "drain" is comprised of gravel that runs along the side of the planing area by the house. Which is exactly where the flooding problem is. Brilliant. Just brilliant.


Our best guess is they simply ran out of pipe, and rather than going out to buy more, just stopped and filled in with the gravel. We suspected this after seeing two sections of pipe put together with duct tape.


Anyway, we went ahead and dug a trench all along the planter area in the hopes that the water will run down to the mouth of the drain and LEAVE OUR BACKYARD!!





Lastly, we filled in the space by our patio with some pea gravel to soak up some of the water we discovered standing there after the downpour. We sloped it so it would also run down to the drain.


It's a good thing we're planning to redo the backyard anyway, since it's pretty much destroyed now. Also, luckily (I guess) the new cars that were on my short list for purchase this summer (Toyota Corolla and Honda Fit) are now having troubles, being recalled, etc., so we're not too disappointed that we can't buy a new car this year and instead have to spend our "car money" on the backyard. Okay, maybe we're a little disappointed.


Oh, and speaking of cars, after all the work we did in the back yard, we were SO ready to head inside, clean up and have a nice, relaxing lunch and rest of the day only to discover one of the tires on my car was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FLAT!


So, we drove around looking for a tire store that was open on Saturday (and I'm totally cutting this whole horrible experience in halfbecause it was long and horrible and took HOURS) and luckily found Tire Pros. They were SO nice and set me up with a brand new set of four tires for under $500.00! SCORE!


So, yeah, last weekend was pretty horrible, but both mom and I survived, I got new tires, we figured we were ready for the next storm coming and I got a fun new pair of boots:


Gotta look on the bright side, right?

Furlough Wednesday


Last week we had our second furlough Wednesday at SupCo (furlough days are the third Wednesday of every month and run through next June, I believe), and I worked a half day with the other half being used to visit a couple doctors. The morning was awesome: Shauna and I shifted files at our off-site storage space and did some loose filing out there while we were at it. It was (in my opinion) a good enough workout that I cancelled my trainer for the evening without an ounce of guilt!

When I finished my shift, I headed to the Rheumotologist's office to see what other options/tests/ideas he had regarding my nearly two-year-old battle with iritis and whatever underlying inflammatory issue is causing it to persist. He didn't have any other tests he wanted me to take and he still doesn't have any idea what could be causing my problem, but he said it was time to try a more aggressive approach: a prescription for methotrexate. Taking a medication in and of itself doesn't bother me - I'm quite despirate to get my broken eyeballs back to normal and not have to put drops in them every day or wonder if I'm going to wake up to a violent flare that renders me legally blind thankyouverymuch - but the list of possible side effects the doctor recited to me was a bit unnerving: nausea/vomiting, mouth sores, temporary hair loss, persistant cough or shortness of breath, liver damage (therefore absolutely NO alchohol for the six months to one year I'm taking this stuff), skin rashes ... gah! 

Would it sound at all pathetic if I said the one thing that bugged me the most was not being able to drink wine/martinis/Scotch/beer/other alcoholic beverages for six months to a year? Probably, yeah, but that's the one restriction that really bummed me out. Seriously, how am I supposed to eat a plate of nachos without a Top Shelf Margarita? Or watch a Packers game without a beer? Or celebrate the end of another workweek without a glass of wine on Friday night? So, I went to Novo to drown my sorrows in a plate of Caesar salad with grilled chicken and a glass of Talley Estate Chardonnay. It was delicious - the salad and the wine. Oh, vino! I will miss you!

Anyway, my other doctor appointment with the Opthamologist was okay. Nothing new really: eyeballs are pretty much the same; no better, but no worse, either. I told him about the new medication, how the side effects were kinda scary, and he told me he didn't know of anyone taking methotrexate who had too much trouble with it. That made me feel a little better and I left the office less upset about that. However, I was still disappointed that my eyes weren't any better than the last time I was in there, and I must admit I felt a little down about the whole situation.

And so I decided it was time for some Retail Therapy! I stopped at Old Navy first in search of two pair of cords - dark green, which I found, and dark brown, which I did not. I ended up with a couple blouses, a Packers T-shirt for me and a Huskies T-shirt for my mom, and two pair of jeans as well. Next I went to the new Forever 21 that just opened in the space once occupied by Gottschalks. I went in knowing I could only purchase accessories, but I still grew more depressed after I saw all the adorable, fun, cute, funky, totally awesome clothes they carry. None of which I fit into. But, then I got to thinking, hey, maybe some of the side effects of my new meds won't be so bad after all! Nausea and vomiting?* No alcohol? Sounds like a perfect weight-loss combination to me! I'll be fitting into these darling skirts and skinny jeans and bedazzled t-shirts in no time!

Then, just when I had decided to embrace the nausea and vomiting I might suffer with my methotrexate in order to fit into cute clothes, I saw it: Faith21! Plus sizes! Granted that section is less than 1/4 of the entire store, but still ... Forever21 has PLUS SIZEd CLOTHES! And they're not all hideous - there were some really cute things. I ended up buying a pair of plaid pants, a dark purple tank top and a cropped, grey cardigan sweater (totally cute outfit, btw), and a faux leather biker jacket. I was surprised and thrilled and started to feel much better!

And now, today (Friday) I actually feel a lot better. I'm starting the methotrexate on Sunday and am confident that it will clear up my problem and by next spring all will be right with my world! The power of positive thinking, right?

*Great Big Fat Ginormous Disclaimer: okay, so I'm really kidding here and DO NOT AT ALL think that bulimia is an intelligen way to lose weight, just in case you didn't get the sarcasm there. kthxbai.

Five Words

So, recently I asked my blogging friend Mary for 5 Words to help inspire me to write an entry. She'd gotten some of her own from a fellow blogger, and I thought it was a great idea. Now that I have them, however, I find myself lacking other words to go with the five she gave me. This should be a piece of cake since they are relatively easy words. I mean, she gives me tomato, and lo and behold, here I am blogging about our massive tomato plant and all the delicious fruit bursting forth from it.

She also gave me family, has always been a very important part of my life, and has been particularly foremost in my mind the past couple of weeks. First off, about a week ago I recieved a letter in the mail from my father's brother informing me of an upcoming family get-together for my Aunt Alice's 95th birthday (which was actually in January, but they're just throwing the party now, probably because the weather's better in South Dakota now than it was in January). I used to hear from her at least once a year - usually at Christmas - but hadn't for a couple years. I knew she'd had a couple strokes and was living in a home, and I figured she was just too incapacitated to write, or had passed away. I honestly don't expect this side of my family to inform me of such things, so I was surprised to get this letter. And very happy to learn my favourite Aunt is still alive and well!

Next, last Friday would have been my daddy's 74th birthday, which is really hard for me to imagine since he died when he was 45 (technically 46, but we don't really count those last couple of weeks between his birthday and his death-day since he was heavily medicated and really out of it). I find it hard to imagine him as an old man! I also find myself still missing him a great deal even after all this time.

Finally, this past Sunday was my grandmother's 94th birthday. (Yes, you are reading that right: my father's eldest sister IS older than my mother's mother! She's older than my mother's father, too, who is still 93.) To celebrate, mom and I bought Subway sandwiches, a pasta salad, watermelon and angelfood cake with whipped topping, and had a nice quiet lunch up my grandparent's house. Later I stepped outside to see how their tomato plants were doing:


They're doing great, btw. They have three ginormous plants all of which are loaded with tomatoes! Soon my grandparents will have more tomatoes than they know what to do with!

Another word Mary gave me was fantasy, which is the genre of novel I prefer. In fact, I've been reading a lot of really good fantasy novels lately: 

  1. Darkangel  by Meredeth Ann Pierce

  2. The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint

  3. Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin

  4. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

  5. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Mary also gave me the word ocean, possibly knowing how very much I love the ocean, how I could stare for hours (and have, actually) at the waves coming in and going out, how I enjoy getting my feet wet despite how cold the water is, and how I love to photograph it:


The last word Mary gave me was composition, which I thought would be difficult to incorporate into this post, but actually I’ve managed to compose a pretty good entry. Ha! j/k.  Anyway, the kind of composition I normally do is in my photography. My mom says I have a gift when it comes to taking  pictures. I guess I do … but, sometimes I just get a lucky shot …


… other times I agonize over the arrangement and spend several minutes rearranging stuff and several shots from different angles to get it just right.


Whichever it is, I’m usually quite pleased with the final result. And, I'm actually quite pleased with the end result of this entry, too. It may not be as creative as a stort story or a poem, but at least it's more interesting than a meme or quiz!

Thanks for the five words, Mary! See you in Wisconsin in October???



So, how was YOUR 4th of July weekend? Good? Great! Mine? Oh, it was LOVELY, thanks for asking! Since the 4th fell on a Saturday, we had Friday off as a holiday, and I took yesterday off as a vacation day - that's FOUR DAYS OFF IN A ROW for those of you playing at home. OMG, it felt SO nice to be away from the office and all the damn childish DRAMA that's been going on lately! I've been SO sick of all the petty games and passive-aggressive behaviour coming from one person in particular. Gah!


It wasn't all fun and games this weekend, though: Friday we had to get mom's car smogged (Lexie (yeah, my mom's car is named Lexie; mine is Misty Storm for those of you wondering) passed with flying colours!!) and later I had a visit with my eye doctor (and while I didn't pass with "flying colours" my cronically broken eyeballs are getting better. again.); Saturday we visited the g'rents and went grocery shopping; Sunday we mowed the lawn; and yesterday I reslisted my stuff for sale on eBay and was scheduled to meet with my trainer at 4. By 3:30 I was really regretting that decision because I would much rather have just stayed in my jammies, but I got dressed and headed off to Kennedy Club anyway.

He wasn't there when I arrived. I figured I'd gotten the time wrong and that we were really meeting at 4:30, so I just hopped on a treadmill while I was waiting. After a (really awesome, sweat-inducing) half hour of that and still no trainer, I started thinking maybe he cancelled on me. I didn't recieve any calls at home and there were no messages on my cell.  Maybe he left a message at my work number, I thought. I wouldn't get that since I was on vacation, but it would make sense because I knew he'd penciled me in for 4 today instead of the usual 6, and he is not a flake. So, I hung out till nearly five, just in case, then I left ... and headed straight to Le Nails for a pedicure!


The colour is called Sunshine and is a new offering from Avon. I wasn't sure at first if I really wanted yellow toenails, but in the end, the bright, sunny, colour won me over. It's perfect for summertime and for my new cheerful, carefree, and somewhat weightless attitude. I'm not 100% sure when things changed and went from being same-old-same-old to, well, shiny and new. 

Maybe it's because I'm finally through that nasty plateau and have been losing weight again.

Maybe it's because my endurance during workouts is increasing and I'm feeling better after working out rather than just achy and wiped out.

Maybe because after dealing with of all the bullsh*t that's been going on with a now-former friend, after a lot of crap and slanderous statements and hurt feelings and getting the cold shoulder and dealing with juvenille-style temper tantrums, I finally decided to just let it all go, and let this now-former friend act like a spoilt five-year-old brat if that's what she wants to do, and not let her passive-agressive antics affect me in any way, shape or form.

God, I feel 10 pounds lighter just writing that down, so yeah, I think that might be it.

Happy Summer!

Home and Garden

Well, our house is all painted and it looks wonderful! It's a kind of greyish blue and the scalloped trim is just slightly darker; the trim is a bright true white. It's such a relief to have that done!


Our new outdoor lights were installed, too:


They look SO much nicer than the old ones. Ew. Shudder!


This morning, mom and I trimmed and mowed the front and back lawns (such as they are), then put our garden back in order.



I'm thrilled at how well these flowers are doing! Check out these Cosmos:


 And the pansies just exploded!!









 Yay, the day lilies are finally blooming!


In the past month I've been on an outdoor decor spending spree, and it was really fun to put out all our fun new stuff! Here's our new handmade copper hose pot:



And here's our adorable new garden gnome:



This new outdoor thermometer looks SO much better on our new fence than the old one:



Oh, and I don't think it was actually 90 degrees out. The thermometer had been sitting in the sun a bit long. Yeah, it's still too early for that kind of heat!

And finally, here's my new recycled metal lanterns. Mom and I put some small pots inside them, filled the pots with old aquarium gravel and put in a couple citronella candles. I think they looks really nice on the table with the pot of marigolds and my little froggie statuette:




We're both very happy with our backyard, even though the grass is dry and dead and overrun with crabgrass, but that's a project for another day. Or maybe next year. Yeah. Next year!



It has been one hell of a week. I'm SO glad it's over AND that it's a three-day weekend!  I can't say much, but I might have lost a friend. I'm not sure. Maybe I never had this friend to begin with; maybe it was all just a ruse. Who knows? All I know is I can't wait to get home and have a BIG glass of Chardonnay!

Tax Day


Tax Day. Those two seemingly innocent words have inspired fear and anger in the hearts of the American public for eons. Or maybe it's just me. Actually, April 15th isn't as terrifying or horrifying to me as it used to me. I remember procrasinating on my taxes until the very last day (even though I'd recieved all my tax paperwork by the end of February!), then having to take the day off work so I could spend the entire day doing my them, then zipping down to the post office just before twelve midnight to get the envelopes post marked in time. My stress level was through the roof, and I made it worse by procrastinating all day - sleeping in, having breakfast, taking a coffee break, a lunch break, a break to watch my soaps and then my favrourite talk shows, an afternoon break with more coffee, a dinner break while watching the news, a break for a couple drinks, maybe watch a little more television, then suddenly I'm  scrambling to get the dang thing done on time and pretty close to, if not totally in, tears.

But, in the old days - pre-computer, that is - it was hard! You had to do it by hand and you had to do math and you just prayed the battery would last in your calculator! You had ot thumb through the book and read the teeny tiny print of the instrucitons for whatever part you're working on . You had to run down to the library or drug store to make copies of things that had to be sent to both the state and federal, but they only gave you one copy, and you had to check and double check your calculations, then copy it all neatly in pen on the final copy.

It was horrible. Horrible. I shudder to remember.

Now it's easy as pie! Pick up a copy of Tax Break as soon as all the paperwork, W-2s, etc., are recieved, pop it in the computer and off you go. I had our taxes done in just a couple hours this past February, so while a lot of people were freaking out today, I was relaxed and calm and oh so happy! Tax day can't hurt me now!

Day Off in the Middle of the Week

So, yesterday was Cesar Chavez Day - a court holiday. Since I had the day off, I made my chiroprator appointment in the late morning so mom and I could go over to Paso Robles and have a nice lunch and browse the beautiful downtown.

It was a gorgeous day! Sunshine! Blue skies! Light breeze! After getting my back cracked (GOD that felt good!), mom and I had lunch at Berryhill Bistro where we once again messed up and didn't share a plate! We both ordered two different paninis thinking they'd be small sandwiches, but they turned out to be HUGE! We could've easily shared one sandwich! We always do this,a nd every time we say next time we'll share someting, and then next time comes and we never do. le sigh.


After lunch we browsed some quaint little shops (wondering how they could possibly make enough money to survive!) and popped our heads into a few of the wine tasting rooms, but were too full from the GIANT glasses of wine we had at the Bistro to try anything else. Next time, we decided, we would have a LIGHT lunch (or share a plate), NO wine then do some wine tasting downtown, and finish up with a fancy coffee and dessert. Next time. For sure.

One of the shops we went through was the antique store on the main drag. It was fun, but kinda depressing, to go through and look at all the old junk sitting there collecting dust. Kinda fun to see some of the really old stuff from the early 1900s; kinda depressing to find record albums I still have in my collection, and Barbie stuff and other toys I had as a child. It made me feel pretty darn old. Of course I AM pretty darn old, but still I don't like to FEEL it! 



After browsing the antique store (and not buying anything, although if they'd had the boxed set of the Sunshine Family I would've bought it, but they only had the grandparents), we checked out a couple other artsy fartsy shops, then headed home. Paso has done a great job with their downtown. It's really a beautiful, fun and pleasant place to visit.