Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Dish Best Served Cold

Illinois - 68 ; North Carolina - 64

Okay so maybe it's not a true rematch but this is just plain sweet! Hats off to Bruce Weber and the boys for helping us to forget the agony of football season. Go ILLINI!!

* And in case anyone didn't get the reference the title is from the phrase "Revenge is a dish best served cold." It has nothing to do with my previous blog about stew.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Turkey Stew

So the stew was actually pretty yummy. It's a recipe I modified from a Braised Beef Stew recipe that I found off the internet a while ago. I've made the beef version and liked it a lot but here's what I did for the turkey variety:
Lisa's Turkey Stew
  • Six to ten small red potatoes cut into eighths (halved then quartered)
  • Half pound of baby carrots cut in half
  • One green pepper cut into bite size pieces
  • Turkey (however much you want) cut into bite size pieces
  • Small can of whole kernel corn
  • One large can of crushed tomatoes
  • Dried crushed Basil (1 tsp or so)
  • Dried crushed Oregano (1 tsp or so)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Add ingredients in the above order to a crockpot. Heat on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Stir and Enjoy.
I have a really huge crockpot so this made enough for four-six people (or three people with leftovers) so it could be scaled down too. Let me know if anyone else tries and enjoys it!

Turkey Day(s), Movies, and of course SHOPPING!

Wow, long time no blog! Hope y'all haven't missed me too much. ;)

In short: It's been a good week. (For just details read the bold italics of In Long section)

In long: Had back-to-back Thanksgiving feasts with Tony's family on Wednesday night and my family on Thursday afternoon. Then Tony surprised me with tickets to see Pride and Prejudice (he knows I love the book!) on Thursday night. It was a really fun date night and the movie was pretty great. Although the A&E Colin Firth version still reigns supreme, the new one was a decent feature length version and Kiera Knightly was surprisingly perfect as Elizabeth Bennet. And then of course Friday morning was the annual shopping extravaganza! I didn't go out as early as I have in the past but I was still at the mall by 5:45 (would've been 5:30 but there was a mandatory stop for coffee at a very crowded Dunkin' Donuts). I got some amazing deals - that I unfortunately can't talk about - but I will say that I have about 90% of my Christmas shopping done at this point which rocks my world! Friday afternoon was awesome too, cause I went to see Rent with some friends I haven't hung out with in a long time (and some that I've seen more recently too) but again I thought it was a fantastic movie. A lot of people are complaining that the actors have gotten too old or that they shouldn't have cut/rearranged some of the music, but I think it had the best of both worlds - close enough to the stage version to maintain Jonathan Larson's original vision but different enough to be considered a fresh recreation for the silver screen. Also, something about the film instead of the stage puts you up close and in the faces of the characters, who are already able to break your heart from a distance, made it really moving. I pretty much cried through most of the second half but I still loved it so in my book that's a definite two thumbs up. Saturday and Sunday were marked mostly by running errands and getting ready for a traitorous thing called Monday Morning but Tony and I also managed to get in the holiday spirit and decorate three different trees (both our parents' houses and our own - that's over 22 feet of Christmas tree!). So yeah, that's my update for now. Hopefully more hilarity and randsanity will ensue in further blogs but for now this is just the who's who and what's what of my life at current. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and feel free to share any good recipes for leftover turkey (no joke - my mom cooked a 28 pound turkey this year). I made up some Turkey Stew in the crockpot this morning I'll let you know tonight or tomorrow if it's edible.

Recap: back-to-back feasts, Pride & Prejudice, shopping extravaganza!, 90% of my shopping done, went to see Rent, running errands, decorated three trees, and turkey stew - Yep, I think that about covers it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Daydream Believer

"Everyone dreams, indeed, at night. But there are two types of dreamers, my friend, those who dream at night and those who dream in the day... Nighttime dreams are for release, say some, a purging of the worries or a fanciful flight to no end. Those who dream in the night alone are doomed to mundanity, don't you see? The ordinary. The mediocre. Night dreamers do not concern me because there is nowhere for them to rise. But those who dream by day... those, my friend, are the troublesome ones. Daydreamers alone are truly alive, for daydreamers alone find perspective in existence and seek ways to rise above the course of simple survival. To live and not merely survive - that secret is in your heart, if only you are wise enough to look."

~ R. A. Salvatore

This quote is from a book I finished last week. I started reading (and fell in love with) R.A. Salvatore novels somewhere around 9th or 10th grade, and although they're essentially cheesy fantasy novels that I should have left in high school with flannel shirts and my overuse of the word "whatever!", I'm so hooked to the characters and stories Salvatore creates and so in awe of his literary genius that I can't bear not reading his latest works. The quote above is from a recently released book that probably few have read (The Promise of the Witch King - cover shown at right) and takes place in the novel when an optimistic and opportunistic dark elf mercenary (Jarlaxle Dearthe) is asking his friend, a reformed human assassin (Artemis Entreri), about his lack of motivation for their current adventure. No surprise that one of the things I love most about Salvatore is his ability to write dialog that transcends the characters situations and speaks to reader's hearts. Among his great quotes from other novels are:
"There is no pain greater than losing something - or someone - before truly recognizing it's value"

"It is one thing to know one's heart and another to admit it. It is another thing entirely different to follow it."
And there's lots more too but those are my favorites (and the only ones I can remember right now). Brilliant, eh? With the popularity of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter I'm guessing that more people might be open to reading fantasy novels so for anyone looking to check out Salvatore's books I recommend The Crystal Shard (his first published novel from 1988) or Homeland (a prequel that starts in with back story from his most popular character) as a great place to start. I've read and enjoyed all of his novels published in the TSR/Wizards of the Coast: Forgotten Realms series and I know that makes me an even bigger nerd than when I was calculating how much caffeine there was per milliliter in Mountain Dew but that's me. Crazy, nerdy, caffeinated.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


My husband is a dog.
And no, I'm not bitter or angry. Rather, I'm stating something of a fact. For today, at least, he's a dog. A big, red dog. Answers to the name of Tony, but you can call him Clifford.

I guess you could say at his new job he's working like a dog. Yes, this is one of many things Scholastic pays him for. He's in Wisconsin dressed as a puppy and I'm home for the day. (Couldn't get to work cause I had to spend the morning getting a flat tire repaired on my car - don't even try to comprehend what awful luck causes things like this to happen on the one day when Tony had to leave at 6:30 and the first snowfall of the season as well - UGH!!) And yes that is a Christmas tree in the background of the picture... more on that later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


In an effort to maintain a "something of everything" blog and also as a way to bite my thumb (in a most Shakespearean manner) at any guys who say girls can't do sports commentary, I have to talk for a minute about how awesome Da Bears are this year. I don't know if anyone else watched Sunday's game against the 49ers but this was quite the play.

After psychotic wind gusts caused another missed field goal, defensive back Nathan Vasher caught the ball and ran it for a 108 yard touchdown - now the longest in NFL history! And since all great blogs must be a sensitive mix of news and introspective thinking, there's a couple things to be learned from this record setting play. First off, take a chance. Vasher's name would probably barely have made the news if he had decided to go the safe route and not leave the end zone - and if you saw it he did hesitate. There was that moment of indecision before he took off, but he went for it and the chance paid off remarkably as his name and picture graced the front page of Sports in all the major Chicago papers on Monday. Secondly, it's okay to change your mind. Vasher sprinted to the 15 before seeing all his blockers on the other side of the field and a quick spin gave him a much more desirable running path. Had he been too set in his ways, too stubborn or inflexible, the result would have been a tackle and a much more difficult stepwise drive to the endzone. Just because you've chosen a direction doesn't mean there's not a more optimal route open to you. Keep your head up and don't be afraid to change your course. Lastly, your teammates are there to help you, stay close to them. The only thing the news is more proud of than the run is the excellent blocking provided by the team. Good lesson here, also, is that even if you're not the one with the ball, your job is still important. You can even tell from the picture that Vasher was amazingly covered by his teammates (yes, that is Urlacher #54 right behind him). Maybe you're the runner who needs to stay close to those who can help you succeed, or maybe you're someone who needs to run your hardest to help someone else achieve the goal - either way, neither would win without teamwork.

The touchdown turned the tide of the game and gave the Bears a 7-3 halftime lead that turned into a 17-9 win - Go Bears! (And although it might be a rarer subject for me, I think I'm pretty decent when it comes to talking about sports and I can for sure hold my own with da boys. In fact, some might say it's even something I was named to be good at.)

picture from Yahoo news article linked above
The biting of my thumb at guys who think girls can't talk sports is a Shakespearean insult quoted from Act I of Romeo and Juliet (come on, I couldn't have too much testosterone in this blog!)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Just Call Me Pavlov

I have a little story to share about the nature of conditioning. This might be one that's gonna disqualify me from ever running for an elected office, but it's equal parts funny and embarrassing so I'll share it anyway. As a quick recap for those unfamiliar with biology or psychology Pavlov was the guy who conditioned dogs to drool by ringing a bell every time he fed them. Ring Bell, Give Food, Dog Salivates - Repeat several times. Eventually ringing the bell alone causes the dogs to drool even without the sight or smell of food. Get it? Got it. Good!
Last night I was over at church with my small group setting up our booth for Market of Hope tonight. Basically we were stapling burlap fabric to a wooden frame to create a mock African hut. Problem was, we miscalculated how much burlap we needed and ran out halfway through the project. Tony was going to run to JoAnn Fabric to buy some more, but he's the tallest in our group and needed to help with the roof assembly, so I went instead but I had to take Tony's car since he drove us to church. So I drove to the store, bought the fabric, checked out, got back to the car, and got in the passenger side. As I tossed my bag into the back seat and reached for the seatbelt, I suddenly realized - "Wait a minute: I'm Driving!" I even had the keys in my hand! I burst out laughing at my own stupidity and was laughing even harder when I noticed there was someone sitting in the car across from me giving me very odd looks as I exited the car and got into the driver's seat, laughing at myself the whole time. (Seriously, I must have looked like a total loon.) I don't know if I was just really tired or if I'm just classically conditioned to get into the passenger side of Tony's car - either way it ranks up there as the stupidest thing I've done* in quite a while. I was still laughing about it when I got back to church so I shared the story with my small group who really enjoyed laughing with me about it, and now you can too (I think that's the sign of a good small group - you can be openly stupid and they love you anyway).
And if anyone else has stupid stories to share to make me feel a little better, I'd love to hear them! Happy Friday!!

*This would probably be the stupidest thing I've done in several months, but over Halloween weekend Emily, Tony and I went up to Spring Grove, IL to go through the world's largest corn maze and I had a hilarious incident of trying to drink a whole mouthful of very hot Hot Apple Cider. I ended up spewing the whole thing all over the ground - accompanied by gales of laughter - in a most unladylike spectacle. What can I say? I'm a spazz.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Kind of Town...

Been busy this week so sorry for the lack of updates. Meanwhile, I found this while scouring my Inbox for something good to blog about. It's a fun picture from Navy Pier that my dad took on Columbus Day weekend when we were touring Chicago with my grandparents.

Three thoughts:
(1) Even if you work in a city day after day sometimes it's fun to see it as a tourist.
(2) Aren't we cuuuuuute? (Hee hee... Truthfully I was huddling close more cause I was freezing than cause I thought it looked cute but don't tell Tony that! Oddly enough it's about 20 degrees warmer now, a full month later. Chicago weather: *sigh*)
Gotta love the resolution you get with camera phones these days. Yay Motorola!

Friday, November 04, 2005


I've invented a new word. Dewfeine. It's like caffeine, but better. I figure since caffeine comes from coffee (en francais: cafe), Dewfeine comes from Dew. And that's Dew with a capital D - short for Mountain Dew. Get it? Okay. Say it with me now "Dewfeine. D-E-W-F-E-I-N-E. Dewfeine". Here's what Webster's may someday print:

Dewfeine: noun. (doo-FEEN) The caffeine contained in Mountain Dew, a citrus flavored carbonated soft drink beverage known to cause the jitters, short attention spans, hyperness, and hilarious blogs. (i.e. I'm full of Dewfeine!)

Dewfeinate: verb. (DOO-fin-ate) To consume or to have consumed caffeine from Mountain Dew, approximately 98.6 micrograms per milliliter. See also Dewfeine. (i.e. I am Dewfeinated, You're going to be Dewfeinated, That 32 ouncer from Taco Bell will really Dewfeinate us.)

Except Webster's will print them in alphabetical order. Spread the use of Dewfeine by using this word whenever you consume the Midwest's #1 beverage. (At least that's what this site claims. They also list an official Mountain Dew Addicts Pledge. I should probably learn that one.) And yes I actually calculated the ug/mL of caffeine in Dew. 35 mg of caffeine per 12 ounces, baby!

This page is not sponsored, endorsed or in any way affiliated with Mountain Dew or Pepsi (or Taco Bell for that matter) and I think the names themselves are property of Pepsi (except for Taco Bell which is property of Taco Bell) but hopefully it's cool for me to use them as free advertising of how wonderful their beverage is. Dewfeine, Dewfeinate, and all subsequent dewfeinous conjugations are solely mine (as far as I know) seeing as how they emerged from a very sleep deprived but Dewfeinated mind. Happy Friday and if you can read this you have very good vision or just a really big computer screen.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Squirrel Fishing

Just in case anyone was confused about what Squirrel Fishing is.

Thanks to Lauren for the picture. I opened it in an e-mail this morning and almost fell off my chair laughing.

Shoutout for the Ticos!

Went out to dinner with Tony's family last night then we all watched Amazing Race together. (Side Note: I've given up Reality TV except for this one vice - Tony's family loves it and it's basically the show I married into watching but as far as reality shows go, it's pretty cool.) Anyhoo, they went to Costa Rica last night and it made me think of cool people like Greg and Kate who got to go on a mission trip there last summer!! Three quick thoughts: (1) phenomenally Gorgeous Country - Holy Rainforests Batman! ; (2) You guys (and the rest of your team that may never read this but can get the message from you) rock! (3) I wonder if I can find a picture online of Phil, the Amazing Race host, posing in a Costa Rican Rainforest next to a "Beware Snakes" sign with a goofy look on his face.... (hmmm... guess wishes DO come true!)

Thinking about my traveling friends also got me pondering mission trips in general and the work that my church is currently doing to serve the impoverished around the globe. We're doing an event called Market of Hope next weekend and our whole church will be set up like a third-world market with different booths representing different countries. People can then come and learn facts about these countries, sample their food, and make purchases for people living there (items for "sale" include education for children, occupational training for single mothers, livestock for hungry families, medications, housing, etc. - it's an amazing event, e-mail me if you want more info!). Our small group is sponsoring Rwanda and we're excited about the opportunity but at the same time it's a hard thing to grasp that however much we do, there's always more to be done. I think a lot of people are discouraged by feeling that the little bit they offer doesn't make a difference - but on the individual level, every contribution counts. Instead of feeling like we can't change the world, perhaps we need to just work on shining a light into some little part of it. After all, at the end of the day all we can do is ask - did I do my best to become more like Jesus?

"I wanna be Your hands, I wanna be Your feet:
I'll go where You send me, go where You send me.
And I'll try, yeah I'll try,
To touch the world like You've touched my life,
And I'll find my way to be Your hands."
~Audio Adrenaline, "Hands and Feet"

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My Embarassing Cell Phone Story

I got a new cell phone. It's a totally funky Motorola ROKR model with iTunes capabilities built in. Now from the title of this entry you might expect me to tell you about accidentally blasting music during a meeting or maybe making unintentional calls by forgetting to lock the keypad, but my story is even more embarassing than that. I'm usually the first person in my lab in the mornings and I thought it would be cool to use the iPod-like features of my new phone to play some music for myself since there's noone to talk to pre 9:30 am. Only problem is I haven't had the chance to upload any music into the phone yet. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Let me start with the story of how I came to own this choice piece of cell phone heaven. At over $200 you better believe I didn't buy it on my own. Rather I've been gifted enough to be the daughter of a Motorola employee who was on a focus group to test a prototype of the ROKR earlier this year. As a reward for my dad's feedback he got to exchange the prototype for an actual model. However, he and my mom are very much attached to their slimline RAZR phones which meant the ROKR was up for grabs. My other siblings all have cooler phones than me already and seeing as how I'm a train commuter and would make the most use of an iPod-ish device, I got the phone! So back to where I was...

I wanted to listen to some music this morning but the only songs in the phone were songs my dad uploaded into it. Eleven songs in total (just enough to get me through my freaky quiet alone in the lab phase): five from 10,000 Maniacs, two from The Byrds, and four from ABBA. Here's where the story gets embarassing - it was great music. I'm sure many of you that know me as a Bon Jovi, Kutless, Metallica, fan are laughing yourselves silly right now but I was really jamming. I mean, yeah, I've always been one to join the crowd on the floor at weddings when "Dancing Queen" starts but I was really digging the intro bars to "Fernando" and once that chorus hit it... oh my. I needed every ounce of self control I had not to start belting out "THERE WAS SOMETHING IN THE AIR THAT NIGHT....." (That would have made this My Mortifying Cell Phone Story - heh heh.) What can I say, though? I have to admit it. I'm an ABBA fan.

I think it goes back to when I was a kid and it was the preferred music of my parents. We'd go on car trips (usually Minnesota to Michigan) - sometimes with six people piled into a six seater "Clown Car" Cadillac - and aside from the Find All 50 States' License Plates game, what I remember most about the actual trips is the music we'd listen to. There was The Moody Blues , Roy Orbison, the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing, and of course - ABBA. Dancing Queen has long been a favorite and all four of us kids would always chime in on the chant-like "takeachance takeachance takeachance" background of "Take A Chance on Me". There's fond memories there and even more recently for my dad's and sister's birthdays we took a trip to Chicago as a family and went to see Mama Mia, the musical based around the music of ABBA.

So what can I say? That's my embarassing story. I confess to the entire blogosphere that I am an ABBA fan and here's my questions for you (answer HONESTLY!):

(1) What do you really think of ABBA?

(2) What songs bring back fond friend or family memories for you?

(3) What's one song that you would say is a MUST DOWNLOAD into my new phone?

Happy November and have fun answering!
...And somewhere in the crowd, there's you.