Friday, September 28, 2012

BOO!


I think I saw this project last fall when I first signed up for Pinterest. I bought the letters last year and just never getting around to doing this project.

While I was off work, I was going through all my scrapbook paper and found this halloweenish paper I never really cared for in a scrapbook setting and I thought it was perfect Halloween paper. Then I remembered the letters and I thought, PERFECT! I'll do it.

So I did.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Wood letters - any size, really
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Exacto Knife
  • Sponge paint brush
  • Embellishments (If you wish)
  • Paint (maybe)
Here's what you'll do:
  1. Trace the letters onto the scrapbook paper and cut them out. Don't worry if they don't fit perfectly, you'll have a chance to clean that up later.
  2. If you want, this is where the paint could come in. Paint the letters whatever color you want. I chose not to because I didn't want to have to wait for it to dry before I started Mod Podging. 
  3. Put a layer of Mod Podge on the letter and adhere the paper to the letter. Do your best to line up the borders of the paper with the letter, but not to worry if there's a lot of over hang. 
  4. Put 2-4 more layers of Mod Podge over the paper to help seal it. 
  5. Let that dry completely.
  6. Take an exacto knife and clean up the edges. I suppose sand paper might work too, but I was worried about damaging the letter itself so I just cut around the letters. 
  7. Once that's done, embellish as you wish. 
  8. Oh! And don't forget the help from the family pet.
For some reason, Edward really liked this one. :o)
Fall is my most favorite time of year. Halloween is one of K's favorite Holidays. I did this project more for here than I did me. Hopefully, this project will inspire you to do something fall/Halloween related. 'Tis the season to start getting in the spirit!!!

Project inspired by Then She Made.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Three Week Journal

I flew up to Sacramento to start my three week training on Sunday. The flight up here was beautiful! When you take off you see beautiful coasts below. I put my head down to read my book and a few minutes later glanced out the window again to see endless ocean beneath me. I returned to my book and read a few more pages and the next time I looked out the window we were flying over incredible mountains. (If I wasn't geographically challenged, I could probably tell you which mountains they were, but we'll just call them the beautiful ones. Haha) After taking in the mountains for a few minutes, I went back to my book yet again. The next time I looked up we were over endless farmland. It was at that very moment that I thought to myself, "What an absolutely beautiful State I live in!" As we started our descent into Sacramento, I watched out the window and realized just how incredibly flat this part of the State is. I am not sure why I didn't realize this when I lived here. Perhaps because where I live now is so hilly I can really tell a difference. Either way, I was filled with gratitude and pride for getting to live in the beautiful State of California.

When I got off the plane in Sacramento, apparently I was let out at the "new" terminal at the airport. I felt lost... almost as if I wasn't really in Sacramento at all. It was a bizarre feeling.

My first night at training was awkward and lonely. The Cadets that are also training here are required to Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening ma'am you. It's pretty crazy and gets old and awkward quick. The first night I was walking around with my head in my phone and I was "Good evening ma'am'd" and it scared the bajeezus out of me! The Cadet felt terrible, but really it wasn't even his fault. I was so uncomfortable in my room all by myself I had to adjust the blinds just so there was a little light coming into the room. Apparently I need a  nightlight. Haha... I am perfectly safe here, but it's just uncomfortable to be somewhere you're not familiar with. I am sure it doesn't help that I am reading a ghost story either.

Day one of training was brutal. A lot of policy stuff that doesn't really pertain to the job, but I s'pose you need to know. I am on day two of training now and it's much more interesting. A lot more info pertaining to the job, which is good and fun. I am learning a lot... not just about the job, but about myself too - even if it is random stuff I am learning.

I am taking notes like I am back in school. As I take notes, I change styles of writing and none of it is neat like it used to be. I used to get compliments on my hand writing all the time. I guess the more dependent we become on electronics, the less I write and therefore my handwriting isn't really a part of me anymore. It's sort of odd when I used to take such pride in it.

Another thing I learned is that I am brutal and often times cruel in my judgement of others. Granted, I may judge people out the gate, but I always give them a chance to prove me wrong. Sometimes my judgements are spot on and others they are off. I recently judged someone that, come to find out, I was pretty off. When I miss the mark like that, I realize how wrong I am to judge anyone and I should really learn to not be so judgmental. Perhaps if I was less judgmental, I would not feel so insecure about myself at times.

I got to see the Doran's last night. It was a short visit, but they were kind enough to let me borrow their truck for the next three weeks so I have a sense of freedom and don't feel so trapped here.

I have lots of prospective plans for the next weeks, but nothing really confirmed. It will be interesting to see who comes through and who doesn't. Tonight I am laying low and having some me time. I will probably hang out with my roomie a little later but will be running out to grab dinner first. The food here is not the best. BUT the endless free fountain soda is pretty freaking rad! LOL

I miss my wife like crazy. I wish she could just be here with me! I hate not being able to talk to her throughout the day and share parts of our days. Instead we have to send each other texts and wait hours for a response. Granted, we can chit chat in the evenings, but it's just not the same. I would prefer I stuffed her my luggage and then stuffed her in my locker when I got here so we could hang out after class. I just keep thinking I still have 2.5 weeks to go! I can't wait till we at least get to the halfway mark and feel like we're on the home stretch of these long three weeks!

In other news, I am bummed an annoyed that the S'mores Brownies and the Not So Skinny Poolside Dip posted on the same day. It was supposed to post one this week and the other one next week so there was a post every week, the goal being to avoid a lull in posts while I was in training. But if I keep up this "Three Week Journal" they will fill the gap.

I feel pretty out of touch because the cell signals around campus are hit or miss and we don't have much access to TV and internet, but with that being said, I will just say I have it MUCH easier than the Cadets do. I have compassion for those folks... I don't know how they do it! I think I have a new found respect for Officers because of what they have to go through.

On that note, I need to go get some more endless free fountain soda and head out to grab a bite to eat. I will be back soon.



Monday, September 24, 2012

S'Mores Brownies

Where's the Graham Cracker part of the S'More?
We'll get to that.
 More like S'mores Brownies disaster. SMH

Recipe swiped from Prevention RD. I just read that she is a Registered Dietitian. I am not really sure what Dietitian in their right mind would recommend this recipe, but at the same time - right on to her for not being a stiff Dietitian that says you can't enjoy life's little pleasures. :o)

Ingredients:
  • 1 pack brownie mix (Betty Crocker,  Duncan Hines, etc. – my selection had 18 servings, 140 calories each)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 4 graham crackers, cut into chunks
  • 2 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, cut into each segments
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray 9×9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Prepare the brownie mix according to the directions on the box (or use your favorite homemade recipe) using the oil, egg, and water.

After baking, remove the pan from the oven and set the oven to broil at 500-550 F.

Cool brownies for about a minute then sprinkle the marshmallows over the warm brownies. Make sure to cover most of the area. Sprinkle the graham crackers on top of the marshmallows. Broil about 4-5 inches from the heat for 30 seconds to a minute until the marshmallows are golden brown. Watch carefully so that they don’t burn. Sprinkle with Hershey’s milk chocolate bars.

Sounds simple enough, right? Sure... if you're not me. LOL

If you look back at the picture on the top, perhaps you wonder where the Graham Crackers are, huh? Well, here they are ----

Burnt to a crisp and in a separate bowl.
OK, first of all, we have an electric stove/oven and electric sucks. I did exactly what the recipe said, set it to broil, had the rack where I thought it was meant to be, put the dish back in the oven and set the timer for 2 minutes and before the two minutes were even up, I smelled burning and took out the dish to find my Graham Crackers burnt to a crisp.

If (and that is a giant IF) I were to ever make these again, I would probably throw the brownies back in the oven without the Graham Crackers and I would probably crumble/crush the crackers, instead of cutting them. It was unnecessary to have such neatly cute Grahams.

Anyway, I immediately pulled all the Graham Crackers off the brownies but still put the chocolate chunks on it. The end result left something to be desired. They were very rich, the marshmallows were gooey (duh) and I just didn't care for them. But then again, I don't really care for real S'Mores either. So there ya have it.


Not So Skinny Poolside Dip


This recipe is effing YUM-MY!

I originally found the recipe on Pinterest, of course. The pin said it was called "Skinny Poolside Dip" because they used fat free cream cheese. Ummmm... NO WAY! I love cream cheese waaayyyy too much to do it fat free if I don't have to.

Here's my version of the recipe:
  • 18 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 can diced chiles, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper (I didn't use the entire bell pepper)
  • Diced black olives, drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 packet Ranch Dip Dressing
Mix all the ingredients together. The end.

As if. This is me we're talking about. It wouldn't be me if I didn't have some cheffing disaster.

OK, so I got home from the store about 7:30pm with the cream cheese. Since I needed it soft, I didn't put the cream cheese in the fridge. It was about 10:30pm when I finally got around to making the dip. 3 hours should be long enough to "soften", in fact, I was kind of wondering if the cream cheese would still be OK to eat. I was wrong... at least about the cream cheese being soft.

I put the cream cheese in the bowl, added the Ranch packet and attempted to stir. It wasn't going well... Hmmm... what can I do?A potato masher? I don't think so. A fork? No, that wont work either. I know! The mixer! Well, loyal readers... let me just tell you, the mixer was NOT the way to go. As you can see from the picture, all it really did was cake all the cream cheese in the mixing sticks. :o|

Once I scraped the cream cheese from the mixers and decided to add the rest of the ingredients... maybe they will somehow make it easier to mix... and it did. :o) (Either that or the mixers actually softened it up.)

I refrigerated it over night and served it up poolside the next afternoon with some Wheat Thins. It was quite a hit. We kept having to put the lid back on it so we could control ourselves and not gobble it up in 5 minutes. It was delicious and I absolutely recommend this recipe!!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Photo Canvas

Disclosure: I took a week off before starting my new job on the 17th of this month. It was fabulous. I think I could really get used to being a housewife. I got stuff done and didn't mind doing the chores I hate to do when I am working.

The good news is, during that week, I got several projects done and a few new recipes cheffed. The bad news is I am getting ready to go to training out of town, so the likelihood of me keeping up momentum and blogging in the next three weeks is slim to none. Therefore, I will space out the blogs I do have and will hopefully have some fun stuff to blog when I get home.

Ok, on to the Photo Canvas... 

My good friend Teenah over at Teenah's Projects inspired this project. She did her's with fabric, I did mine with scrapbook paper.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Canvas (I used 8x8)
  • Scrapbook paper (I used 12x12 and trimmed)
  • Photo (I used 4x6)
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge brush
  • Exacto Knife
  • Embellishment (Optional - I thought it was a little plain without it.)
Don't forget to incoporate the help
of the family pet!
Here's what to do:
  1. I did a layer of Mod Podge on the front of the canvas and carefully adhered the paper to the canvas. 
  2. After letting that dry for a couple minutes, I cut two sides of the corners vertically and folded the paper over the sides and adhered it with Mod Podge.
  3. Allow that to dry and trim the edges of the paper around the canvas with the Exacto knife. 
  4. Put a layer of Mod Podge all over the paper and glue your picture down.
  5. After that dries, put a couple more coats of Mod Podge all over the canvas and photo. Don't forget to do a couple more coats on the sides too - just to be sure to seal the deal. 
  6. My embellishment had it's own sticky on the back of it so I used that to adhere it to the canvas. In hindsight, I should have put it down when the last coat of Mod Podge had just been applied to help hold the stick.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Peach Treat


This was a tasty, refreshing little treat but waaaay too much for my family of two. Next time I will definitely half the recipe.

Of course I screwed up the recipe. SMH, I really don't know how I manage sometimes! LOL Check out A Little Tipsy for the original recipe. Below is how mine turned out. It went a little something like this:

Photo borrowed from A Little Tipsy
Ingredients
  •  2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 pkg graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/3 cups oats
  • 7-8 large peaches 
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice 
  •  Cool Whip 
Directions
  • Mix graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, oats, and butter together. Put a layer in the bottom of your pan, saving some to sprinkle on top. 
  • Mix the lemon juice with the can of sweetened condensed milk. Pour over the peaches and mix until peaches are coated. 
  • Pour peach mixture into pan over crust. 
  • Top with Cool Whip
  • Sprinkle with left over crust mixture. 
Mine looked more like this one.
Photo borrowed from A Little Tipsy
So the original recipe called for whipping cream, I am assuming to make your own whipped topping. My oversight of that ingredient and getting Cool Whip instead is sort of comical. It was probably a Freudian slip. See, I love Cool Whip. I have ever since I was a kid. If we have it, I will sneak a spoon full from time to time and have even been known to have a bowl of it like ice cream. I LOVE it.

Anyway, it turned out fine. I assume not much different than the original recipe. The lemon was a little overbearing on the first day, but seemed to have not been as bad the second day. It doesn't have a very long shelf life so either eat it fast or prepare it for when you are planning to have company.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

I WAS FEATURED!

And just in the nick of time.
In Designer Jeans

See, I have a love hate relationship with blogging. It's A LOT of work and I feel like I don't blog consistently enough and (by no one's fault but my own) my following is lacking. Not that I blog just to get followers, but (no discredit to the few followers I have) if I don't have readers, what's the point? I guess to catalog for my own reference, but I think it would be a lot easier to just keep a journal if that was the case.

I have had this week off work and while I have been able to do a lot more things for blog material, I seem to have even less time to blog so I was actually contemplating deleting the blog. And then, I got the email that I had been featured and it kept me going... at least for a little while longer. LOL

Stop, Look, & Link Feature

Anniversary Card Project

I'm curious, do any of you have the same love hate relationship with blogging that I do?

Friday, September 14, 2012

CrockPot Pot Roast Success!



I originally saw this recipe over at my good friend's blog, Teenah's Projects.

I have not had the most success with these CrockPot recipes. Most of the time they're too salty or the chicken has a weird texture - it's always something. I had kind of sworn off the Crock unless it was a soup recipe. Not really sure what made me try this recipe, especially since it wasn't really a hit at Teenah's house, but I am glad I tried it.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • Pot Roast (2-5 lbs)
  • 1 Envelope Brown Gravy
  • 1 Envelope Ranch Dressing (I used about half a packet)
  • 1 Envelope Italian Dressing (I used about half a packet)
  • Potatoes (I used red potatoes)
  • Baby Carrots
  • 1.5 cups water
I have never cooked a roast before and don't really do much with red meat so as I stood in the meat aisle of the store, I realized I had no clue what to buy, so I phoned a friend - or rather, my mom. We decided on a chuck roast. While talking to my mom, she said it would be better to coat the meat in flour and brown it. The original recipe doesn't say to do that, so I suppose that step is optional. 

Directions
  • Heat EVOO on medium heat.
  • Mix the flour and pepper and coat meat.
  • Brown meat on both sides. 
  • While browning the meat, put enough baby carrots to cover the bottom of the Crock. Cut up potatoes and throw them on top of the carrots. I just eyeballed the amount.
  • Mix together the enveloped seasonings and sprinkle a small layer over the carrots and potatoes. 
  • Place the meat on top of the carrots and potatoes and sprinkle the rest of the seasonings over the meat. 
  • Pour water over meat.
  • Cook on high for the 1st two hours, turning the meat over after an hour. 
  • Cook on low for another 5 hours. (The original recipe says to cook on low for 6-10 hours, but I had a think chunk of meat so I turned it up a bit to ensure we weren't eating dinner at 10pm.)
I  immediately doubted that this was going to turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a little bland, so perhaps I withheld too much of the Ranch and Italian seasonings, but I have had this combo before and it ended up super salty so I was hesitant to use the full amounts as suggested.

Overall it was delish and the only thing it was missing was warm French bread slathered with butter to sop up the extra sauce. I will definitely make this again when the weather gets colder. :o)


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lemon Buttercream Frosting


We recently had another good friend celebrate a six year anniversary so, of course, I wanted to bake her a cake! We asked her wife what her favorite cake was and she said lemon cake with lemon frosting. Easy enough, right? Perhaps... but this is me we're talking about. Nothing is ever easy and it's always an adventure.

I was doing this last minute so I just bought a boxed lemon cake mix and was going to make the frosting myself. My intent was to make this one, but somehow missed the frosting that was an ingredient so I didn't get any at the store. Before I even started making it, I was wondering how 2 cups of powdered sugar and a quarter cup butter was going to turn into frosting, but I have taught myself to trust the process... so I started blending the two and immediately knew my first instinct was right. So I looked at the recipe again and that was when I realized I needed frosting. It was already 11:30 at night and I didn't want to go back to the store so I improvised.

I had also pinned this recipe which I knew didn't call for frosting because it needed 3.5 cups of powdered sugar.

Ingredients

How to make it

  • mix the butter, lemon zest and vanilla together, making sure all the lumps are gone.
  • add the milk, and quickly cream it into the butter mixture.
  • by the 1/2 cup, mix in the sugar.
  • once the sugar is all in the bowl, cream on "high" for two minutes. (I use this time to clean up)
  • mix in lemon juice.
  • spread heartily and enjoy!
Photo courtesy of Group Recipes
The other recipe only called for 1/4 cup of butter so I had to get creative in softening the other 1/4 cup of butter.

Then I got to the part with milk and ours was a little expired. I happened to have a can of  Sweetened Condensed Milk so I threw in a quarter cup of that, but it was too thick. I don't think I have ever worked with Sweetened Condensed Milk before - it was not what I was expecting. I didn't want to keep adding that so I said screw it and added a quarter cup of the couple day old milk, crossing my fingers that it wasn't bad. None of us got sick and it got rave reviews! Whew!



Monday, September 10, 2012

Belated Anniversary Getaway

K and I took a spur of the moment getaway to Carlsbad Friday night. We literally decided to go at about 3pm on Friday, booked the hotel, came home, packed a bag and off we went. We justified the trip as a belated anniversary getaway since we didn't do much of anything on our anniversary other than spend the day together. It was much needed and we had a blast. 

Friday

We arrived at the hotel and I must admit it was no Hilton, but that's the chance you take when you travel on a budget. K and I made the best of it... We took the sheet off the second bed and laid it over the couch so we could comfortably sit on it and watched a little TV. Then we put towels down on the chairs at the table and played cards till the wee hours of the morning. Periodically I would get an itch or I would let my thoughts run and I would announce to K, "I don't like it here." She'd laugh at me and shake her head but she agreed that it didn't have a very warm feeling. After the initial night, I was settled in and fine with it the rest of our stay.

Saturday 

We started off the day having breakfast at a local spot called "A Little Moore". It was a quaint little joint with good food and good service. I got a chuckle out of the syrup. I don't think I have ever asked for syrup from a restaurant and they brought me a bottle that people usually have in their cupboard. 

After breakfast, we looked for a local Target to pick up a couple things and then headed out to find a beach. 


We found a little local beach right on PCH and set up camp. The sand was so fine and soft it was like powder. I loved it! The waves were rolling in pretty steady, but they weren't huge. I am a chicken when it comes to swimming in the ocean tho so I only went in waste deep. K went in all the way. On the hike back to the car K looked over and saw that awesome view of the marsh with the life guard tower on the other side. I wouldn't mind going back to that beach. Would be good for boogey boarding.

Next up was dinner. I don't have any pictures from dinner, but here's a few shots that we took on our walk to dinner. Beautiful sunset!

Sunday
 
I happened to see that there were some factory outlets in Carlsbad and I wanted to check them out. Outlets, IMO, are hit or miss. They claim better prices, but they're not really. If you have the patience, you might be able to find a deal or two. I'm not sure we found those deals, but we did find some goods to take home with us. 
 
 K found herself an awesome Giants hat. As if we need another Giants hat. LOL 
I found that cute bag that I think screams me. 
I also got a pair of jeans on clearance at The Gap for $15 and a cute top for $6. Those will be my "first day of school" outfit for next week when I start my new job. :o) Maybe I will do an OOTD in the spirit of Ms. Rink.

We both had a great time and came home feeling relaxed and happy. I would say it was much needed by both of us and I am glad we decided to go.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

From Caltrans to California Highway Patrol

It's really starting to sink in that my days at my current job with Caltrans are limited. I am filled with gratitude and nostalgia, have a little sadness, and am bubbling with excitement.

I moved down to Southern California in November of 2009 and started working for Caltrans in January of 2010. It's really the only job I have known since moving down here and the people here are definitely the only work family I have had since leaving Sacramento.

Me and my boss at a 1960's themed meeting.
My first boss was and is amazing! He's like a big brother to me. It only took a few days for us to both realize we were going to work well together. We both fall under the Aquarius sign, our birthdays just days from each other. We love to eat... you want something from that guy? Give him food (preferably something chocolate) and you'll get what you need. We have a similar sense of humor and our minds work eerily the same - several thoughts going on at once, the mind rarely quiet. And we get each others sensitivity. He's a very sweet and sensitive guy, oblivious to most things, but pays attention when it's important (particularly when you'd prefer he not pay attention because you don't want to have to explain why it looks like you've been crying because that will just make you cry more.) He made my job joyful... When I worked for him, I didn't wake up every day dreading going to work and battling with myself to get up and go - I just got up and went without thinking about it because he was that great.

I'm not sure he knows what a gift he truly was to me. When I first started working for him, I had just spent the last three years in an extremely unhealthy relationship and had just left a supervisor that despised me and my work. My self confidence was nearly non-existent. He immediately saw my potential, entrusted me with important tasks, allowed me to make decisions, and slowly rebuilt my confidence. I am forever grateful to him for that and will definitely miss his charisma and his ability to smile no matter how high the shit is piled.

The Core Family
Don't worry, I wont bore you with mushy stories about each of those people, but Caltrans has been good to me. Sure, it wasn't rainbows and sunshine every day, but I enjoyed working here and the people were incredibly kind. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work for Caltrans and the be a part of the Caltrans Family. I mean, how many people get to say they got to be Cone Kid for their job?

Now, it's time for me to leave the nest. I am sooooo excited for my next adventure. I am moving on to the California Highway Patrol and will be working as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. I have been wanting to get this position for several years and it's finally happened! I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for this new adventure. I really hope that I will love it as much as I think I will. And who knows, maybe I will get to be Chipper one day!


UPDATE: I came into work today and this is why I will miss my Caltrans family so much.

Congratulations!
The whole view.
The best part!