Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book Giveaway - Choosing Eden

Now this really isn't a giveaway so much as a swap. Like I had mentioned before, I "won" a book called Choosing Eden from the Oak Hill Homestead blog . (I wish I knew how to make the link come out with the name of blog instead of the whole URL) Anyway, this book is about an Australian couple who left "civilization" to live on a farm and become more green.

Taken from the Random House Australia website, here is a short synopsis of the

Adrienne and Larry are an average middle-aged couple who have left their children and grandchildren, their friends, their jobs and a comfortable home in Sydney and set themselves up on a twelve-acre block in Nana Glen in northern New South Wales. They aren't chasing a whimsical dream or planning an idyllic retirement. Their goal is to establish a fully self-sustaining food farm, as quickly as possible, that will provide for them and their family in the uncertain years ahead.

The book was interesting. These people found out about something called Peak Oil. Peak Oil is the theory that once all the oil in the world is expended we are in a whole lot of trouble. So they sort of freaked out and got paranoid about it and did something about it. Now I am sure at some point this will happen but I wouldn't get so freaked out as they did but I admire their courage to leave it all behind especially since I am starting my tiny veggie garden and see how much work it will be. Also, I think it's important for everyone to plan ahead for any disaster. After living though hurricanes and being without power etc. for days on end and one time 13 days, people need to have some survival skills. As much as I want to get back to basics, I can't live without some comforts, that's for sure.

So if you are interested in reading the book, leave me a comment saying you want in. I will randomly choose someone to send the book to on Sunday, April 5th. Remember if you don't have a blogger profile where I can reach you, please leave and email. I will ship this internationally as well. The only other requirement is that if you win the book you have to have a little giveaway on your blog to keep passing it on. It has been going around for over a year and it would be nice to keep passing it forward.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Check out my new toy!!

Okay, a little background here. I never had a laptop until last year when I inherited Tom's old laptop that is probably a good 7-8 years old. Basically it's obsolete. But we got wireless in our old house and I needed to have something to work on. Tom got a new Mac so I got the old Dell. Now it's usable for what I did. Just surf the net, visit forums and enter giveaways etc. Once in a while I might play a game but mainly it's just used for the internets.

The problem with the laptop is that's it's old. It keeps telling me I need to download upgrades but I never did because there was no point in it. It beeps at me for no apparent reason. I had to delete most of the programs to get more memory. The touch pad no longer works. It's been dropped a few times. It's cracked and demented. The power cord broke so I had to order a new one in summer and then that one broke and I had to get yet another one. I can't open sites with lots of graphics or it takes forever to load a page. I can't open too many windows or it freezes. I have to reboot the computer at least 4-5 times a day because it just crashes and closes my windows. I have to use Tom's computer to load any photos from the camera and then load them onto the blog because this poor baby can't handle it.

Now I have to say that I am thankful I had this baby because it gives me the freedom to use the computer elsewhere in the house. It's a workhorse. But right now I am unemployed because we moved to this little town where there is obviously no need for fundraisers. So I have been online a lot lately. And I even started this blog and I guess Tom was tired of hearing me swear at this poor thing. I think my potty mouth finally got to him.

So the other day Fed Ex shows up with a Dell box and I am wondering what it is. I really am thinking could it finally mean that I actually won a big sweepstakes. As I told you before, I love entering sweepstakes and giveaways but never had won anything really big. So I take the box and look and it has Tom's name on it. We had talked about getting me a new computer but it was just talk. So I immediately email Tom at work and say: A box showed up. It was then he confirmed to me that it was a wireless printer and he also confirmed to me he had gotten me a new laptop.

I love Tom, he's the best. I was so excited! Well a few days later my new baby arrived. It is fantastic. I had to set it up and transfer all my important data from the old laptop. I finally started using it yesterday. It's great! I can open those pesky graphic loaded sites. I can open multiple windows. It never crashed once and it works smoothly. It's so nice to have a computer that actually works. YAY! A few weeks ago, I was fortunate it enough to win a Viveanne Tam HP wireless mouse from a great site called Vivir Latino. I totally lucked out while on Twitter where I saw a tweet by this site who I just started following because I am a Latina. It said be one of the first three and I was. Now I never tried a wireless mouse and now I am thinking how the hell did I survive without one for this long. Holy cow, wireless rocks! And Tom was thoughtful enough to get me a red laptop to match my pretty mouse.

I am loading a picture of the new laptop and my new mouse (because it's so petty) on MY OWN laptop! I have to thank Tom (although he doesn't read my blog) for being so generous and nice and knowing that I love my blog and now I can work on it in style. I also signed up for a blog makeover and I am excited. It's going to take a few months to have a new look but I can't wait. I just noticed the other day I hit 50 posts and missed it. So I will celebrate at 100!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Look at my babies!!!!

I am so excited!!!!!!!! My seedlings are growing and I am like a new mom. I think I will have to go buy bigger pots this weekend. The first seeds that sprouted were the radishes and then the Bush beans. The the tomatoes came out next. The lettuce is also coming out. The others are slower but they seem to be doing well. YAY!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fiber Friend Gift Basket Giveaway - WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Hi everyone. I chose the winners for my first giveaway and they are:

Congrats to all the winners. I have sent emails or messages on blogs and you have 72 hours to get back to me. After 72 hours, I will pick a new winner. So send me your info!! Once I get all the info, I will send it to the sponsor and you will get your prizes sent.

I want to thank everyone for participating. Since this was my first giveaway, I was worried I wasn't going to get any entries and I got over 100 and that's pretty good for my little ol' blog.

I will be having another giveaway soon for the book "Choosing Eden." It's not so much a giveaway as a pass along so if you are interested come back next week. I had fun doing this and I might be doing more giveaways in the future. But for now I will be just blogging more about my adventures. Thanks again!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Random Willy-Nillyness (RWN) and Pie

You know I realized that I should never find pie crusts and frozen fruit in my freezer or I will try to cook it up into a pie. I can't help myself. I open the freezer to get some steaks and there it was. Peeking out from under the Popsicle box. It taunted me so I had to reach for it. It was the pie crust. I look at it and wonder what can I do with this. So I starting digging around the freezer and lo and behold I found fruit. Okay, it was mango chunks but I figured what the heck I can make a mango pie.

So into the oven goes the pie crust and into a pan goes the mango. Since they were frozen I decided to add a little liquid and found some sherry. So I dumped it in there. I decided that I would cook the mango and then reduce it so there wasn't so much liquid. I tasted it and had to add some sugar because the mango wasn't all that sweet. Again, the random wily-nillyness of cooking that I practice. I thought about adding more sherry but I didn't. I thought about it awhile and figured it needed some vanilla. Well, last week I got some real vanilla beans courtesy of Marx Foods.

I am not sure if other bloggers heard but I got an email from Marx Foods where they were offering free samples spices to bloggers. Well I was all over that like white on rice because one I love spices and two the were FREE! Hello! I got to choose the spices and I got some different stuff than usual. Annatto seed, cardamon, nutmeg, vanilla, 2 types of peppercorns and allspice. So I have yet to use any of these except the peppercorns. I took them and put those directly into my peppermill. I am not sure what else to do with the other ones. I think I am taking the annatto seeds and making and oil. Annatto is achiote in Spanish. And in Costa Rica they used achiote to color the rice and give it an extra added flavor. I actually have achiote at the house because that's one of the things I bring over from Costa Rica besides coffee beans and Salsa Lizano. So because the Marx Foods box was on the counter I remembered and pulled out the spices and then I had my brainstorm. I decided that I could use the vanilla, nutmeg and a dash of allspice and see what happens. Well, I took the bean and cut it in half and scraped out some seeds and tossed them into the post. A dash of allspice went in and then I grated a pinch of nutmeg into the mango mixture and voila! I am such a genius. The spices added the much needed flavor. Thanks to Marx Foods for the freebies!

So the pie crust was done and I took the mixture and dumped it into the crust and then I found some Pillsbury pie crust that I had in the frig and topped it all off. I pinched the sides and baked it. Here is a picture of my masterpiece.
Okay, I am no Julia Child but it's passable. I mean this from someone who never baked a pie until a few months ago and who is crazy enough not to use any sort of recipe. So I had to have a slice and it was actually quite tasty. It was even better when I found some of Tom's vanilla ice cream and made sure I had a dollop of that as well.

So I think I will always try to have pie crusts and frozen fruit in the freezer because it's sort of fun getting the RWN urge to just bake something although I have no idea what I am doing.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Shave and a Haircut. . . Two bits

Well today (Monday-although this will be posted on Tuesday) I went to get a haircut. OMG the last haircut I had was over a year ago in Santa Fe. And my hair is ridiculously long. I never got to the hairdresser before we moved here to NC and then once I got here, it was hard to find a hairdresser here. But I was at the credit union one day and I liked the teller's hair and she told me of a salon in town. That was months ago. I am a huge procrastinator. I should have gone last year but didn't. And finally i just couldn't stand my hair any longer and made the appointment.

Now if you look at the pictures from Birmingham you will see I had long hair. It was down to my boobs and trust me that's long because those puppies aren't that high anymore, if you know what I mean. And the problem with my hair is that when it gets too long it hangs on my hair like a bad toupee on William Shatner. But I like long hair but as I get older the worse it looks on me. So I bit the bullet and decided to go try someone new.

Well I get into the salon and my hairdresser isn't there yet. I look around and the place is passable. There are quite a few people so I figure they must do good work. That or there is no one else in town to go to. My hairdresser finally gets there and then we go and sit down and she asks what I want. Well I say I want it to my shoulders and I point to my shoulder, not above the shoulder, slightly below. I ask for layers and then that's it. The she takes me to go wash my hair. Okay, there is NOTHING better than having someone wash your hair. It is one of my favorite things in the world. It takes me back to my days when I was small and my mom would wash or hair and rub our heads. I loved that. So I am lulled into complacency and we start the cut. I have to take off my glasses but I am as blind as a bat in a hailstorm without them. So by the time I squint enough to see myself in the mirror, I realize that she has lopped off more than I wanted. Yikers. It was above the shoulder. But I didn't freak out because one thing I learned in life is that the hair grows back. I just let it go because it's too late to do a thing.

In the meantime, I learn that the hairdresser next to our station is pregnant and the whole town knows it. I didn't know it. But apparently everyone else did. The other hairdresser had a fight with her husband last night. Her client was telling us that someone she works with is cheating on her hubby. My hairdresser just broke up with her boyfriend because his ex called him and she freaked out and they fought. And some annoying man who is there to get his brows waxed is flirting with another hairdresser by telling her she looks like Kate Beckinsale. It was better than daytime TV. Who needs Days of Our Life when you are at the local salon?

So the haircut is finally done and she does what I hate hairdressers do, style it. She made it straight and waved it. Sure it looks good when they do this but I can never recreate it. She is finally done so I reach for my glasses and take a deep breath. I look and it actually looks good. I look again and realize that she gave me a Rachel. Now there is no freaking way I will ever look as good as Jennifer Aniston but this is the haircut I got without even asking for it. It's the same shape and length. It's shorter than I wanted but I actually like it. It looks good. And it's not really that short. Now I have had short hair in my life and hated it. I remember when I was little and me and my sister were at Thrifty Drug Store getting ice cream and some ignoramus told my sister "your brother is really cute." WTH? Well I freaked out and screamed I am not a boy and ran crying out of the store. I think that moment shaped my hair future forever. Although another time my mom took me to get may hair cut in Costa Rica and they cut all my hair off. It was shorter than this picture. I cried for days. I never ever wanted short hair again. But I don't like my hair long anymore either. And I really and liking this cut. Now if only I could look more like Jen. I'd even take looking half as good as she does. LOL The best part about the haircut is that it cost $25. The last time I paid $25 for a haircut was probably in the 80's.

Tom came home and really liked it as well. I was surprised because he likes my hair long. But I do look cute. hee But the bad thing is that I noticed a few gray hairs in the front. So now I have to fight my urge to go color my hair willy-nilly. I vowed never to color my hair again after almost going blonde in the 80's. But I did have highlights in a year ago and they looked good but I am not sure I want to get crazy again and have to color and recolor my hair. So maybe I will suck it up and keep the grey. Random willy-nillyness with hair can be a disaster!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Spot of Tea and more memories

My post about my trip to Ireland got me in the mood for tea with milk. So the yesterday I got myself some Earl Grey and went to town. Oh it was yummy with a little milk. I also had some ginger cookies. I grabbed the tea and cookies and enjoyed them in solitude since Tom was at work.

You know I love afternoon tea and one of my dreams would be to actually own a little tea house where people could come and have some tea and goodies and just have a little time to be totally civil. I would make scones and serve them with cream. And there is nothing better than little bitty sandwiches with their crusts cut off. I have no idea where this love of afternoon tea came from. I think I have just romantizied it from the endless movies I have seen. But I love it.

When I lived in Santa Fe there was a hotel, the St Francis Hotel, that had afternoon tea. The first time I found about it was from my co-worker Brian who told me he had his work review there with our boss. I had to go check it out myself. So the next time I had a review, I asked my boss, Colleen, if we could go there. Okay afternoon tea in Santa Fe,you ask. Yeah, it's not London but it worked. They had some tables in the lobby and basically you came at 3pm and got tea. It was cool. They had a little menu where you could either get savory snacks or sweet snacks. They had several types of tea you could choose from as well. I stuck with what I know and that's Earl Grey. I also choose the savory menu because although I have a huge sweet tooth, I have this weird obsession with small little sandwiches. They served the loose tea in a little thing you put over the top of the teacup and then you pour the water over it. I, being totally uncivilized, dropped my thingy into the cup and got leaves all over. The waiter looked at me like I was some uncouth brute. But I recovered. We got mini sandwiches of cucumber and cream cheese, cream cheese and salmon and chicken salad. Now neither Colleen not I ate the salmon because we don't eat fish. Now I eat shellfish and I will eat tuna in a can but not other fish. Yes, I know that's weird but oh well. We sat in that lobby and I got a kick ass review and basically had a nice afternoon. I miss Colleen.

I liked it so much I talked my friends Kathryn and Suzanne, who I also worked with, to come with me again. This time I didn't do anything that would embarras myself and the waiter didn't give me the hairy eyeball. We ordered the sweet and savory menus and extras because we are all piggy girls. We ended up taking almost 2 hours for "lunch." It was wonderful. Like I said there is something so decadent in sitting around in the afternoon having tea and goodies especially when you have good company like Kathy and SusieQ.

And it doesn't have to be tea. When I go to Costa Rica, I love going to the Hotel Costa Rica in downtown San Jose and sit on their patio and have a little cafe con leche (coffee & milk) with some sweet empanadas. You can sit there and people watch and it's fascinating because you see tourists from all over the world and locals as well. Sometimes there is a marimba band playing. Sometimes people come by and try to sell you stuff. It's especially nice when it's raining and you can just sit there and hear the rain falling. Me and my sister used to do this all the time. When I go with Tom he is not a huge fan of it but I roped him in once or twice.

But I miss the St. Francis Hotel and tea time. I think I went another time and it was just me and Kathryn. I miss Kathryn because she ended up becoming like the little sister I didn't have. She was my coffee, tea and snack buddy. We would roam the streets of downtown Santa Fe in search of goodies. We would go to Starbucks and sometimes we would go get chocolate. We would go to the 5 & Dime and get popcorn. During summer we would go get Gelato at ECCO. One of the best things I loved was a cheese stick from the French Bakery Shop in downtown Santa Fe. OMG, my other friend Kirsten and I went bats**t over these. She was actually evil and sent me this picture of one she was enjoying a few months ago. YUMMO! Even though she taunts me with pictures of cheesesticks, I miss her too.

Well after writing about all this now I want tea again. Tom is at work again. My chores are done. Dinner is in the oven so I am going to take a little break and have a cup of tea and just relax.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Random Willy-Nillyness in the Kitchen & Laundry Room

A few days ago, I got inspired and decided to go to Lowes and walk through the gardening section to see what they have. It was fun. I already mentioned I bought seeds etc. I bought some of those little pots where you can start your seeds and other stuff. Well I was going to research and see what I should be doing but, of course, I decided to open all the packages and just do it without reading the instructions. Yes, more random willy-nillyness on my part.

So I opened everything on the kitchen table. Now we don't EVER use our kitchen table because it's actually not a kitchen table but this antique table we bought while antiquing in Ohio. It's nice but we had no place for it and we had no kitchen table so voila! we shoved it in the eat-in kitchen that we never eat in. Frankly, it's just used to hold my fruit bowl and whatever else we dump there. It has some old demented tablecloth because the cats seem to think this is a good place for them to sleep since it's sunny in the afternoon. Good thing we don't eat there. Anyway, I moved the fruit off and like a mad scientist starting watering peat pills and poking at them after they had risen and plumped. It's messy work.

Then I laid out all my seeds on the table and waited for the peat to be ready. In the meantime, I left the kitchen. Then Shawn realized there was something new to demolish and proceeded to knock all the seed packets to the floor. GRRRR kitty! SO I had to physically remove her from the table while she cried to beat Jesus and squirmed out of my hands. I picked everything up and then started to figure out what I wanted to grow.

Now please note that i have NEVER EVER done this before and I probably should have gone on the internets and learned something and maybe I should have read the package instructions but I didn't. I just opened everything grabbed some seeds and shoved them into the peat and now they are in my laundry room on the dryer doing what seeds do. I hope that means they grow but with my black thumb, they might be dead in a day or two.

Tom asked me if I knew what I was doing and I said yeah I read the package. Okay, I read the front of the package when I bought it but then again he never reads my blog so he won't know I stretched the truth just a little. And I figured how could I possibly screw this up? Well I will have to see in a few days to even know if what I did worked but I think they will.

Today I went to Walmart and got more seeds including corn. I am sure I won't be planting corn but when standing in front of a wall of seeds, I get really really ambitious and start thinking I am freaking Laura from Little House on the Prairie. So I greedily snatched up seeds willy nilly while some man in overalls questioned my choices and gave me suggestions. I wanted to run screaming from the seed wall because I have no idea what he was talking about. But I smiled and smiled and said ah ha a few times and then slowly rolled my cart away while he kept talking. I am not sure how long it took him to notice I was at the pharmacy before he stopped talking. Oy!

So today I will spend more time in the kitchen poking and prodding peat and once again just being random about the whole thing. And maybe I will research planting but I figured that until something comes up from the mysterious balls of peat, why waste my time when I can be doing something else. I always figure as long a they have dirt, water and sun the little seeds will want to grow and get planted so I can scarf them down in a few months.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Story Behind My Avatar

I have had some people ask me if the little girl in my avatar is me. While I think she sort of looks like me when I was little, it's not me. But she has been in my life for over 13 years now and I really really like her. That's why she follows me all over the internets and has been my avatar for a long time. There are people out there who see her and know it's me whether on twitter or other sites I belong too.

She became part of my life when I worked at a museum in Miami. My good friend who I worked with brought in this stationery with this girl on the bottom of it. I immediately fell in love with her because she was so cute. My friend used the paper to make some invitations for an event. I can't remember what it was now but we used to do non-stop events there. My friend, Cuqui (pronounced Cookie), said the little girl also reminded her of her when she was little as well. I think we liked her because she encapsulated how we were feeling most of the time. We wanted to run screaming out of our office, a lot. So one day we were working and I decided to cut out the little girl and mount her on some cardboard and put her on top of my computer. So every time that I felt like screaming, I would grab her and peek out from around my cubicle and wave her at Cuqui. That would crack us up to no end. She sort of became our mascot. That is until I bought this weird stuffed dead cat at the House of Blues in Orlando and he took over the office.

While we loved the little girl, the demented cat became our new mascot because when one of us (there were four of us sharing a space) was a real bitch, we would place the cat on the desk of the offender. If someone was catty, they would find the demented cat on the desk. When I left that job, I left the cat. I wonder what happened to him because that was years ago! But again, I digress.

So the little girl was also our salvation because when things really got frustrating (that was often) or crazy (just as often) she would always be there expressing the feeling we were feeling.

So when I got on the internets (and yes with an s because I like mocking the former president) and I realized I needed an avatar, she came to mind. Luckily, I had the cardboard girl and was able to scan her and get her to represent me. As time went by, someone made her jump and she got the nickname "the jumpy girl." But as time went by the image was getting demented. Luckily, I found this present image on another website and I hijacked it to have a clearer image.

I love her because one never knows if she is excited and jumping for joy or if she is just over it and screaming into the abyss. Most of the time, it's the abyss part. So there you have it. I can't ever get rid of her. She is part of me now. And I have to thank Cuqui for her.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And Memories of Ireland. . .

My little girl avatar has gone green thanks to Jen from Posh Point of View. Jen surprised me with a little green hat. Doesn't she look cute?

I wanted to wish every one a Happy St. Patty's Day. Now I am not Irish but Tom is half Irish so, of course, we have to celebrate. I never celebrated it when I was growing up. But we learned about St. Patrick in school. I went to Catholic school when I was little. But it wasn't until I got older that I realized the best part of St. Patty's day was green beer and corned beef. hee

I love all things Irish, especially Colin Farrell. (Luckily, Tom doesn't read my blog.) But Colin isn't the only Irish thing I love. I love Ireland itself. The best trip we ever had was to Ireland.

What a great country. When we planned the trip we decided to rent a little farmhouse by the river Shannon in this tiny town called Scariff. It was quaint to stay the least. The trip didn't start out great because when we arrived at Miami International Airport for our flight to Atlanta to catch another flight to Ireland, someone in the waiting area noticed that the plane was leaking fluid. So it was delayed. We freaked out because we had to catch the connecting flight because we had arranged to meet Tom's brother and mom at the Shannon airport. There was no way to reach them if we missed the flight. So we got stuck there and luckily Tom decided to see what other flights we could catch.

I always remember Tom coming to me and saying "I have good news and bad news." I said give me the good news first and he said "we have a flight." The bad news: it was on Aeroflot, the Russian airlines. Now I have nothing against Russia or Russians but Aeroflot? Damn it freaked me out but we had no other choice. Aeroflot only flew on Wednesday to Shannon and there were no other flights so in actuality we lucked out. So we said yes. We were not sure what to expect from the Russian airline but things got better when they said we were being upgraded to business class.

I tell you that the flight was fabulous. We had great seats with tons of room and TV's and first class service. There were only like 4 other people in business class with us. The down side was that the movie was in Russian. And the flight attendants didn't speak English. So it was tough when we wanted a drink. Tom wanted bourbon and I wanted rum but she looked at us like "I have no clue what you are saying." So finally Tom said "Vodka"? Well her eyes lit up and she came back with a tray of 10 types of vodkas. We got steak and salmon and tons of other food. Some was good, some was interesting. But we had an uneventful flight and arrived in Ireland in one piece and on time. We met the family and drove off to Scariff. The weirdo part was driving on the wrong side of the road. Scary stuff. Luckily, I wasn't driving.

The town we stayed at was so tiny that our directions to meet the owner were to meet him at the stone church a few miles from the town. Luckily, we found him and he took us to the house.It was a darling stone farmhouse in the hills. His mom had baked us Irish soda bread and left us tea. She was a sweet old lady who would leave us treats in the house. We would come back from a daytrip and there was a new treat in the kitchen. The house was small and cute and just perfect. The first day we drove to the Burrens and then the Cliffs of Mohr. OMG spectacular! The Cliffs are beautiful and just amazing. I got freaked out though because people would go sit on the edge of the cliff. And even as I am writing this I am remembering watching people doing that and I feel dizzy. It's one of those places that you have a spiritual experience. I am not religious but that's when you realize the universe is an incredible place. The rest of the time we were there we visited little towns, ate great good, and just had a wonderful time.

One funny story is we went driving around and saw sheep and we took tons of pictures. We got back to the house and the owner was there and we told him we had seen sheep and he looked at us like: WTF? He wasn't impressed. Now we have 5,000 pictures of sheep. I hadn't realized that sheep were filthy creatures since I had only seen white, clean sheep on TV. The ones we saw were not very cute. Oh well.

Our town was tiny but I swear it had like 15 pubs on the main street. I wanted to cook one night so we went into the butcher and I asked for a whole chicken and he said Monday. This meant the chicken didn't come in until Monday. We went back and it had just been killed. It was the best damn chicken I had ever cooked. The food in Ireland rocked. I loved the lamb and I don't eat lamb. I loved Shepard's pie and I always remember going into a restaurant and ordering steak and it came with potatoes and then another side of potatoes. Luckily I love stinking potatoes!! We had fresh jam and found a place where they made fresh cheese. It was green and reminded me of Costa Rica in a way. I learned how to drink my tea with milk there and every so often I crave that.

After a week we drive into Dublin and really loved it there too. We took a tour of the city, went to the University and did the pub crawl. The pub crawl was fun. The people were fantastic. We shopped and ate and it was so great. I absolutely loved it and would go back in a New York second.

So today I celebrate St. Patrick's day with corned beef but no cabbage. And potatoes. Dinner should be really tasty. Tom and I will eat and probably talk about our trip to Ireland. And hope one day we go back to that wonderful place. Oh I hopefully Tom will remember the Guiness.

Erin Go Bragh!
***Don't forget to enter my giveaway***

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fiber Friend Gift Basket Giveaway

Okay I have to tell you that I love entering giveaways! I enter all the time but never had one. However, I was contacted by My Blog Spark to do one. I mulled it over and then decided why not? I figured it would be fun and my readers get freebies! Now I won't be making this blog a giveaway blog by any means, I like my cyber-journal but if I can give away some stuff, I will.

Firstly, I was asked to go and participate in Fiber One's Fiber Friend Face-Off a fun and interactive online game that will help you better understand and reach daily fiber goals.

When you visit http://www.fiberfriendfaceoff.com/ you create your own Fiber Friend. Then you face off against an opponent. You face off by picking food items that you feel have the most fiber. I did really well on my first try and smacked down my opponent but then on my next try, I was spanked. It was amazing to see what foods actually have more fiber than others. You really need to go try it. I actually learned a lot and the site is fun and informative.

The best part, besides actually getting some good info, is that by signing up you are entered in a sweepstakes for a chance to win great prizes including daily gift cash cards, weekly Flip Video camcorder and a grand prize trip-for-two to a luxury spa in Arizona. You can also download discount coupons for Fiber One products including Fiber One yogurt, chewy snack bars, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, toaster pastries, muffin mix and pancake mix, all great tasting foods that help to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Fiber One yogurt provides 20 percent of the Daily Value of fiber and is a good source of vitamins A &D.

So now to the giveaway!! Thanks to My Blog Spark and Fiber One, I have 3 Fiber Friend Gift Baskets to giveaway!! So that means 3 people who sign up will get one of the baskets pictured. How cool is that? Each gift basket includes coupons for Fiber One yogurt, a nutrition journal, water bottle, pedometer with calorie counter, and a kitchen scale. Holy cow, what more can you want?

Okay now the rules. I am not going to have you do 50,000 things to get in on this giveaway. You can get three easy entries.

1) Go to the Fiber One Friend's Face Off site http://www.fiberfriendfaceoff.com/, sign up and come back and tell me how many grams of fiber a Fiber One product has.

2) Go to the Fiber One http://www.fiberone.com/ website and come back and tell me your favorite Fiber One product.

3) Follow me on twitter (carogonza) and Tweet about this giveaway. Come back and place the tweet URL in the comment. You can tweet once a day and get an entry a day!! Think of all the entries you can rack up! Wow!

You must do 1 or 2 to be entered. But you can do all 3! Easy peasy, right? Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry.

This contest will end on Wednesday, March 25 at 11:59pm est. I will choose the winners with random.org to make it totally fair. The winners will be notified via email and will have 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Remember if you don't have a blogger account leave your email in the post so I can find you!! US entries only. Spread the word!! Good Luck!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Photos from my Birmingham Trip

As promised some photos. I still haven't gotten the hang of photos so they are in no particular order. The first is the B&B we stayed at. The second is me in front of the Civil Rights Institute. The third is the 16th Street Baptist Church (so much history) and the fourth is me again in front of the B&B.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Random thoughts

Yesterday I went to get some gardening supplies so today I took some time to do some research. I had to do research since there is no doubt this adventure into gardening will be more random willy-nillyness on my part. I really am clueless but I will trudge on.

I was remembering our old house in Los Angeles because my dad had a great garden there. The house is now owned by my former brother in law who is still part of the family although he and my sister divorced. And he kept up the garden and that makes my dad happy. But I was remembering how we had two big avocado trees in the front. We had a lemon tree on the side. The backyard had and probably still has other fruit trees. I haven't visited that house for about 6 years. But I know Joji, my former BIL, keeps it up. I remember we had a huge chayote (a sort of squash) bush. My dad also had figs, which I hate! He had veggies and herbs.

I always loved the fact that I could go out and grab lemons and cilantro from the garden. When I was sick my mom would go get fresh mint and herba buena (chamomile) for my tummy. When I had earaches she would go get rosemary an heat it up in some hot oil, wrap it in a cotton ball and stick it in my ear. It worked!

There is nothing better than being able to walk out your door and get your dinner or part of your dinner!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A kid in a candy store

Today I decided to finally mail some packages for my sister, my friend Kelli and my other friend Jessica. They had been sitting there for weeks because I couldn't bring my lazy ass to go to the post office. Aside from that, I had to go to UPS to pick up something I won from Marvel Comics. Nothing big but Tom got his 5,098 tee-shirt this year. It's pretty cool. I am not sure why they didn't send it parcel post though.

So I also decide to go to Lowe's because I am planning my garden. Now normally I loathe Lowe's. But today I was like a kid in a candy store. I was there for hours looking at gardening gloves and seeds and other cool stuff.

Now let me tell you that I am NOT a gardener. In fact, I normally hate being outside but I am very excited to get a veggie/herb garden this year. When I was little, I remember helping my dad in the garden and loved it. He has a green thumb. Anything he plants grows, I, on the other hand, kill everything. Well okay not everything but I don't have my dad's green thumb. But this year I decided to go forward and try to be productive and grow my own stuff.

Oh and on that note, please keep an eye out in the next week or so. I entered a giveaway for a book called "Choosing Eden." I won but on the condition that once I read the book, I would offer it up in a giveaway on my blog. I am halfway through now and hopefully will finish it this weekend. So I will do a mini giveaway on the condition that the winner must pass it on when he/she is done with it.

Well I am starting my garden with seeds instead of plants. So I bought some starter packs to get the seeds to sprout and am very excited to get started. But I need to do some research to see when I should actually start them. I really hope that somehow my dad's talent has rubbed off on me because I would be thrilled to have some fresh veggies and herbs this summer.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Birmingham, AL

I was in Birmingham the last few days. Tom had to attend a theatre conference. Tom found out at the last minute that he was going. Unfortunately, space was limited because not only was the conference in town but the Davis Cup was also being held this past weekend. The Sheraton was all booked up but luckily I found us a B&B on the other side of town to stay at. The B&B was called the Cobb Lane B&B and it was only 5 minutes from the convention center and close by the Five Points District, which has some shops and lots of restaurants. I promise pictures but Tom has the camera at work and I can't download them to this old laptop of mine because the poor thing can't handle it so I have to work on his Mac when I get a chance. Luckily, this laptop allows me to write the blog.

Here is the link if you are interested http://www.cobblanebandb.com/. The B&B was quaint and clean and we ended up in the Country French suite and luckily someone had cancelled because we were going to only be there Wednesday and Thursday and then we would have had to go look for another hotel elsewhere. It would have been a pain. I would recommend the B&B because like I said it was nice and the innkeepers were great and it had parking and a great location. It also had free wireless and a TV. The bad part was that on the alley behind the B&B was a bar and restaurant so on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights it was noisy. Saturday was the worse. There was so much noise I really didn't sleep but then again, I don't really sleep anyway so I guess it didn't matter.

So Tom was pretty busy on all days. On Wednesday we checked in and then had some great BBQ for lunch. I went and helped him set up his booth and then we went to dinner. We found a Japanese Restaurant and gorged ourselves. Now for those who don't know, I live in a teeny tiny town. We have a good number of restaurants but we do not have Japanese. I don't even think there is a Japanese restaurant around unless you go into Asheville. So we took advantage. The food wasn't great but I had California rolls and dumplings. I am a dumpling fiend. I can eat dumplings every day all day for months without getting bored. OMG! Love them.

Thursday I dropped Tom off at the convention center. I went out driving around Birmingham and I really was surprised at how pretty it is. I just drove into the suburbs and found a great little town called Mountain Brook. Now it is obvious this was a more affluent area. But it had some really cute "English" village type areas with shops and restaurants. So that night we went and had some really good pizza. It was some of the best I have ever had.

I tell you that I would live in Birmingham. The neighborhoods (well the ones I saw) were beautiful and the houses were gorgeous. In the B&B area they had old Victorian houses and older cool craftman style houses. In the outer parts, they had stone houses and some really beautiful older homes. The city was clean and there was a good vibe. I really liked it.

Friday, Tom had the morning off so we went off to the Civil Rights Institute. Wow. It was great. It was a really well thought out place with so much info. It started out with a history of Birmingham and then went on to chronicle the struggle for civil rights by blacks not only in Birmingham but all over the country. They had displays, interactive areas, music, video, etc. Right across the street was the 16th Street church where the 4 little girls were killed. After we spent almost 2 hours at the Institute, we walked to the Church. I am all about historical stuff and it was sobering to be in a place where the bombing happened but, on the other hand, it was empowering to know that this was a spot where so much history happened. A place where MLK walked. It's amazing. It also made me sad. It's really amazing to think that in the 60's there was still segregation and so much hatred. It seems so far away now especially since we have a black president. But it really wasn't all that long ago and it's something we shouldn't forget. Anyway, we left there pretty awed.

The rest of the day, Tom went back to work. I went back to the B&B. I also went and walked around the area because they had a Starbucks there. OMG I love Starbucks but our little teeny tiny town does not have a Starbucks. So I went and sucked down a Mocha Frappacino with whipped cream, thank you very much. I did a little shopping and walking. But damn I am so out of shape I almost died walking back. Then I went and picked up Tom and he made me park the car and walk to dinner - UGH! I hate walking! But we had Japanese food again so it was worth it.

Saturday he was gone all day again and I went and sucked down another Frappacino and watched TV because I was tired. I went and picked up Tom but because the Davis Cup was in town, there were tons of people down at the five points district so we ended up at a Bar and Grill and it wasn't very good. But oh well.

Over all it was a great mini trip although Tom was working but it got me out of the house and somewhere I probably never would have gone. The drive is nice except the part where we go through Atlanta. Now I grew up in LA and I know traffic. I lived in Miami and there was traffic there. Santa Fe had very little traffic and here in Sylva there is no traffic. So now when we drive through any traffic it is freaky! I swear I tell Tom that if he ever decides to take another job it better not be in a big city because after living here, I don't think I could bear living in a big city again.

I do promise pictures. I don't have many because I hate taking pictures but we took a few of the church, the Institute and the B&B that I will share. Hopefully, I will have the camera tomorrow and can download them and post them.

I'm back

I am hoping to download a few photos and then blog about my trip to Birmingham, AL.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I'll be out of commission for a few days

Tom is going to Birmingham, AL for a conference and he asked me to tag along. Of course, I said yes. I've never been to Birmingham so I am looking forward to it. I found us a cool B&B in town called the Cobb Lane B&B and we will be there relaxing. Well, I will be relaxing while Tom has to work. We will be leaving tomorrow!

It'll be nice to sightsee. There are a few places I will go like the Civil Rights Institute and the Art museum. Plus, I will be able to gorge myself on Japanese food since there is none here in old Sylva. And I know we will find some good country cooking!

I will have my laptop but I am sure I won't be on too much. Hopefully, I will be able to take some pics and tell you a little about my trip when I get back. Don't miss me too much!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is it Spring yet?

Man it's like 20 degrees this morning. Now it's beautiful and sunny and the air is crisp and I love this weather in November but it's March.

I am not much of a gardener but this year I want to plant some veggies and herbs for the summer. I especially love homegrown tomatoes. But I am clueless and Tom is so busy that he might not be able to help this year. SO I am left to my own devices on the garden. Of course that will mean more random willy-nillyness on my part. I know I will just go out to the garden and willy nilly till a plot of land. I will willy nilly toss some seeds in to the ground and see what happens. Tom on the other hand would plot it all out and research it and have a plan. I have no plan. I never do.

You know I never ever read instructions. I just put stuff together by instinct. It always seems to work out. Yesterday, I made bread and I know that when you bake you HAVE to follow instructions but I willy nilly added 2 tbsp or butter instead of one but it worked out. I figured a little extra butter wouldn't hurt and it didn't.

Anyway, it's March and it's freezing but at least it's sunny. I do miss Florida on these cold winter mornings. But I was never able to wear my flannel jammie pants and Happy Bunny slippers in Florida.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

On today's menu a Costa Rican staple

It is cold and dreary. It is going to snow tonight and frankly I am in no mood to do a thing except veg in front of the TV. But then again, I am always in the mood for that. I am the laziest thing in the world.

But today I have some ribs I will broil up and serve with a cilantro chimichurri sauce. I adore chimichurri. I make my own version using cilantro but you mainly make it with parsley. But I hate parsley. Some people just adore parsley and use it in everything. I don't. I use it sparingly if a recipe tells me to but I avoid it when I can. So instead of parsley, I use cilantro. So I make the chimichurri with cilantro, garlic, lemon and olive oil. I toss it into the food processor and BAM! (channeling Emeril) it's done. It can be served so many ways. Think of it as a pesto. I also make fresh pesto when I can find basil and I adore that as well.

So I am making ribs and then I decided for some unknown reason to make gallo pinto. Gallo Pinto translates into "painted rooster." Gallo pinto is just rice and beans cooked with onions and bell pepper and Salsa Lizano. Salsa Lizano is a sort of Costa Rican Worcestershire sauce. It is fabulous. It's hard to find here but I get my supply from Costa Rica when my parents visit. An interesting tidbit is that one of my great uncles invented this sauce and then sold it to the Lizano company and they made a fortune while he did not. He got some money but the Lizano's are the ones who made a fortune because the sauce is a Costa Rican staple and used in everything.

So I just have the urge to make Gallo Pinto today. I am cheating and using canned black beans because I am lazy and hate making real beans. Yes, yes, I should make my own beans but oh well. So anyway to make gallo pinto you take some onions and garlic and bell pepper (red or green it doesn't matter) fry them up and then add the beans and rice. That's it! Easy peasy but so delishy. Usually you eat this for breakfast with a fried egg on top but today I am making it as a side dish. You can also add cilantro, which I will because I am cilantro fiend! And you should also serve it with natilla (sour cream) on top and eat it with fresh baked pan (bread).

I am lucky that Tom actually loves this dish. My mom always makes it for him when we visit. She loves Tom. And I always get yelled at because I don't serve him. My mom is of that generation that thinks to get and keep a man you have to be a good little wife. And that's okay because way back when that was true. But I always remind her that I am a gringa. So we think differently. But when we go stay at her house Tom takes advantage and allows her to serve him. I get the hairy eyeball when I tell Tom to wash the dishes. He does it at home so why shouldn't he do it there too? But he, like I, try to be sneaky. Anyway, he actually like this Costa Rican dish. Like I said before he won't try the oxtail and he is not a huge tamale fan.

So tonight I eat gallo pinto and think of Costa Rica and the family. You know what's funny is that I crave rice and beans. I think it's because I grew up eating them. I can't go for more than 2 weeks without having them. YUMMO!