Friday, September 16, 2011

A New Discovery

I discovered something today that has changed my life.  It's a discovery that literally made me fall to my knees, look toward heaven, and thank God for dropping this amazing idea into someone's brain who was smart enough and had the drive to turn it into a reality.  I also thanked him that it wasn't my head he dropped it into.  I'm not smart enough and I definitely don't have the drive to have turned it into reality.  It would have squished around in my brain for an hour and then been pushed to the side as soon as some really cute flats came into my visual.  Just being realistic here. 

This discovery is a website called Pinterest.  It's the one website I need most in my life.  It allows you to save and organize all of your favorite Internet "finds", "inspirations", or "ideas" in one very easy to navigate place. You "PIN" your "INTERESTS." Get it?  You create boards and label them to your specifications and then whenever you find something you like or want to save from another website, you pin it a board. When you want to find it again, it's right there on that board with a picture icon. I've already confused you?  See, that's why it wasn't me who had this idea.

 For example, I love to search different cooking blogs for new recipes.  Pre-Pinterest, I was saving them in very unorganized email drafts that would get buried under pages of half written emails, but now I simply make different boards like "Desserts" or "Dinner" or "Cookies" or "Soup" and pin each of my awesome recipe finds into whichever board it fits under.  Is that not so awesome? 

Another cool thing is that people can look at your boards and "re-pin" stuff you've saved onto THEIR boards as well as comment on your pins.

I really wish this was around when I was planning my wedding, I wouldn't have had to lug around this 100 pound wedding binder with tabs like "Dresses" and "Flowers" and "Decor", magazine clippings fluttering from each page. I lost and found that thing as often as I showered...and that's daily.  How do you lose something that weights 100 pounds?  Leave it to me and it can be done.

The thing about Pinterest is it's semi-exclusive.  And when I say semi-exclusive I mean you have to be invited.  You can request to be invited and then...they invite you.  They want you to politely ask to join before they'll let you.  After I requested an invite I got so nervous, like I'd just applied for college again and if I wasn't accepted I wasn't sure what course my life would take.  Good thing I got my acceptance email a day later...I'd gotten IN!  I'm sure everybody gets in but it still felt like I'd made the team ya know? 

My recipes are now brilliantly organized. I even cleaned my house because the organization got so infectious.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sugar Lumps Need Homes Too

Remember these sugar lumps of fur?  The ones who terrorized my toes and various other body parts.  The ones with the little razors hiding in their mouths that latch and lock on to whatever they can.  The ones that are so stinking cute that you can't resist letting them walk, run, bite and poop all over you.  Actually I draw the line at poop but they never respect my bounderies. 

So the little rug rats have grown up a bit and are now out of their foster home and currently ready to find their new permanent homes.  They've been spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, de-wormed, and given their first round of puppy shots.  They have also had their first photo-shoot and I will say they were very impressive for being so young and new to the 'way (model slang for runway).  I might have made that up. 

Left to right: Napa, Ninja, Nakita and Napoleon

Is that just the closest thing to rediculously cute?  Those, it's hard to function properly with that many pairs looking at you.  This is the view from my desk everyday and I love every minute of it.  Except when they poop...and then dance in it.  But I'm used to poop, my horse produces material as big as each one of these puppies about seven times a day.  I think I blog entirely too much about poop.  Moving on...

Look at those professional poses.  All I had to do was squeek 4,000 toys at once, rattle a bag of treats, meow like a cat and knock on the desk.  Whatever works right? Napolean looks a little worried about my actions. 

Momma-dog, Nola, looks alot better.  She recieved her Oprah make-over just like I promised her.  I absolutely LOVE this dog.  She's my homegirl.  Such a sweet, affectionate and happy girl as well as a wonderful mother.  Like I've said before, mothers like her could be the key to world peace. 

I told her that she looked like a hot mamma and that I would look into some spanx for the unfortunate way that babies made her undercarriage look. 

Thank you Portia Shao of Positive Vista Photography for taking these amazing photos and for selflessly volunteering your precious time while I squeek toys in your ears and spill dog biscuits in your hair. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Deal of the Day

This is real.  A real product that will be packaged and shipped to you for $3.99 if you decide that for some reason you are in desperate need of underpants instantly.  I did not go looking for this particular product, just to set the record straight.  I don't have the luxury of wearing underpants at all most of the time due to my Chihuahua who has an insatiable taste for it.  Actually, maybe that puts me in the market for this? 

Who still calls them underpants? I guess I just did.  It's better than the word "panties"  though, gross.

I came across it when I was browsing one of those "Deal of the Day" type websites.  You know, the ones that list a bunch of items at a marked down price for a short amount of time?  You know, the ones that cause you to buy things like "Instant Underpants" because you feel like maybe you're the only one without a pair in their glove compartment, purse or first aid kit and that in case of an emergency you should be totally equipped and not be caught without underpants on and then the ticker says the sale only last 5 minutes longer and your anxiety level brinks causing you to click that "buy it" button.  Yeah those. 

In order to activate your instant underpants, you have to drop the alka seltzer-esque disc into a cup of water.  Like this...

In seconds you have a pair of soggy wet underpants!  How awesome is that?  I would just like to quote the product description and say "remember, it’s better to have damp underpants than no underpants at all!" I might beg to differ on that one but to each his own I guess. 

Do I have a picture of the actual underpants after they have received their life water?  Nope.  Do I so totally wish I did so I could point and giggle and say "ew, look at those!" Heck yes.  Have I figured out a reason why anyone would need an emergency pair of wet underwear?  Still working on it.  If you have got an idea feel free to share.  No one will judge. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Flats Complete Me

I made a purchase the other day.  It satisfied my being.  I spotted them glistening on the shoe wall, I squeezed the size 5 1/2 display shoe on my not-so-5 1/2 size foot, I produced the asking price and walked out the door clutching the bag to my chest.  Clutching like at any minute the cute 16-year-old that sold them to me was going to come running out demanding that I give them back.  That's not what store clerks do when you actually pay for the products they're selling. It was an irrational fear of mine based on an irrational obsession I have with...flats.  

These are what were packaged up nicely inside the bag that I held with a vice grip...

I love the muted gray/moss coloring.  I love the soft faux suede.  I love the perfect shape of the toe and the slight slope of the sides.  I love the pinched design of the fabric across the front and I especially love the little studs that sparkle and glisten ever so subtly as the light hits their facets.  Nothing about them is anything but Made In China, but I have not a care in the world about quality or craftsmanship when it comes to flats. 

I love flats for the summer.  Picture these beauties with white shorts and a flowy silk top.  Tan legs are required.

I love flats for the winter.  These would go awesome with a dark pair of Hudson's and a white button up with  some red earrings and a black blazer.  The possibilities are those buttons are calling my name.

 I like flashy flats. The more sequins the better!  These are so cute with jeans or a black skirt.  The perfect shoe to dress something up without whipping out the heals.  Since my broken ankle I have had an especially close bond with flats.  They have helped me through my hurt and have swaddled me in their flatness. 

 I love plain flats.  Simple can make a statement too...especially if they are yellow.  Yellow is awesome.  My feet are calling out their name!  J.Crew, you'll be seeing my credit card number in just a few. 

 I love flats with embellishments.  Sometimes it's fun to add a little excitement down there.  Ya know, throw people off.  Heals...pashawwww...I bet you you'll get more compliments on these babies.  Case in point, the other night I went out on the town and wore white punched flats with a skirt.  I felt like I looked like a nurse but heals are out of my life for at least another month or two.  Three...I'll say that again...T-H-R-E-E guys at three different periods in the night said "Hey, I like your shoes."  When do guys ever say that?  Even when you are wearing sexy shoes.  Never.  That is a testament to the power of the Flat.  Without further ado, please feast your eyes on what causes me slight nausea at the thought of not owning them.

Good lord, this is not healthy! 

Then you get into the whole realm of prints and it's all downhill from there.

I need someone, even just one person, to tell me that they share these things I feel so that I can in turn, tell myself and my husband that it's normal for my credit card statement to look this way. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Spinach and Ricotta Shell-asagna

It's time for me to show you something I did right the other night.  Oh so right...yum.  I've been playing around with various versions of the "stuffed shell" and feel as though I've found the one I could eat every day of my life.  After the sizable batch I recently made, it will probably come to that. 

The thing about this recipe is you can play around with it, making it as basic or as fancy as you want.  My tastes are rudimentary and so basic is what you'll get here.  I'm a drooling freak over Kraft mac'n'cheese so don't expect a ton of gourmet coming from me.  I'm providing you with a solid foundation on which to build the shells of your dreams.

This recipe is also easy and makes for wonderful left-overs.  You can feed a crowd or you can feed two.  I'm planning on making it for my cousin after she pops her baby out in two weeks.  Her tastes are rudimentary too.  She likes bean burritos. Beans. Tortillas. That's it, she's happy.  This should be a definite hit.

Okay, here's what you'll need:

1 Tbsp Olive oil
3 Cloves of garlic, minced (I used the frozen cubes of minced garlic because I'm lazy)
6 oz. Bag of fresh baby spinach
1 Medium yellow onion
1 lb. Ground beef
15-20 Jumbo pasta shells (depending on how many people you want to feed and the size of your dish)
1 Jar of your favorite pasta sauce
16 oz. Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups Mozzarella, shredded

Now here is how you put together this cheesy, meaty, spinachy, goodness. You'll need about 1 hour to do it.  Will you accept this challenge?  Just kidding, if I can do it, the three year old down the street can.

1)  Heat your olive oil on Medium/Low in a deep skillet. While it's heating, mince your garlic and when done, toss it in and listen to it sizzle.  In my case I got to skip the mincing because Trader Joe's sells amazing minced garlic ice cubes. Stir the garlic around as it cooks for a minute or so.

2) Add the whole bag of fresh spinach.  That's right, all of it.  Does it make you uncomfortable?  It made me feel slightly uneasy at first but I got through it.  It looks so unnatural. Fluff it, stir it and coat it in the garlic.  In just a few minutes...

it will look like this...

It shrinks!  Didn't expect that did you?  You did? Oh. 

3) Scoop the limp and life-less spinach out of the skillet and put it into a medium size mixing bowl.  Add the ricotta cheese and stir it on up.  Then add the Parmesan cheese and stir it on down.  That's your shell stuffing, set it aside and move on.

4) Chop your onion and add it to the skillet that just worked the miracle on the all that spinach.  You want to cook it until it starts to look translucent.  While you're waiting for the onion to cook, fill a pot with water and start the boiling process.

5)  Once the onions are done, add your ground beef and cook until brown.

6)  Now it's time to drain the fat/grease.  Unless you want a myocardial infarction.  I don't know what a myocardial infarction is but it doesn't sound fun. I always save my pickle jars for this purpose and they work great.  Just don't ever use your turkey baster to suck the grease up.  It won't survive.  Just sayin'.

6) Add your pasta sauce to the freshly drained meat and stir it all in.  Cover and leave it to simmer for a few minutes.

7) Your water is hopefully boiling by now, if not, go make a salad for the meal like I did and then it better be boiling or else.  Just don't sit and watch it.  You know it will never boil if you do that.  Add your pasta shells to the water and make them all sink to the bottom.

You won't have to wait too long for the pasta shells to be done because you want them al dente. It took me about 7 minutes to get them perfect. They will cook the rest of the way in the oven. 

8) Preheat your oven to 425.  You are going to prepare to stuff!  If you're messy like me then you should probably get out some newspaper or wax paper and cover the surface over which you'll be stuffing.  Get your casserole dish out and gather your filling and mozzarella cheese.  Take a little bit of the sauce and lightly coat the bottom of your dish.

9) Now drain your noodles and begin filling each shell with the ricotta/spinach mix.  Fill it as much or as little as you like.  No one is judging.  I like to stuff them full because I like cheese, and let's face it, most of that is cheese.   

10)  Line them face up in your dish.  You can make them neat and cute or you can arrange them as if you were in a 7.0 earthquake like I did.  Again, no one will judge you.  Unless you guys are judging me?  Shoot next time I'm making them neat and cute.

11) Take your whole deep skillet of sauce and blanket those babies in a meaty quilt.  Now sprinkle or douse the sauce with your mozzarella.  See?  No one will end up seeing my disorganized mess of shells.  Sort of like covering up the clothes on your bed with your comforter.  I was always good at that. 

12) Cover your creation with foil and pop it in the oven.  Wave goodbye and say "see ya in 30 minutes!"

13) After 30 minutes in the oven, remove the foil, switch your oven settings to BROIL and give that cheese and nice baked crust for 5 minutes.  

There you are!  A meal for 8 for the next 31 days.  I like this "lasagna" style version and I really have no explanation as to why except there is more cheese...I like cheese.  Did I mention that?  Enjoy! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Night of Cute

One of the many benefits of working at an animal shelter is the abundance of cuteness you get to experience every single day.  Sometimes I think I'm immune but a few nights ago I had the chance to take home a mom and her four puppies...I found out I'm not. 

Mom and puppies took a road-trip all the way from Madera and when they arrived they were filthy, tired and not sure where they were.  Momma...we're not in Madera anymore.  Most would find that comforting.  I apologize if you live in Madera.  Anyway, the foster home that was to be taking this sweet little family of pups was not ready and I offered my pad for a night.  My husband loves it when I do these kinds of things.  Just likes he loves sand in the bed and dinner at 10 pm. 

But really?  How can you get mad at this? You really can't, and if you do then I don't even want to know you let alone be married to you.  Good thing it melted him too and right away he started to get their little nest ready and even helped me bathe everyone. 

These little precious lumps of furry sugar are six-week-old Dachshund mixes who, after only one night together, have stolen my heart, chewed my toes, and made me want to hide them under my bed and tell work they had packed up and gone back to Madera. 

Seriously?  I need to bite something.

Shut the front door.  They made the cutest little grunts and whines.  I wanted to tape them and then fall asleep to it like white know, instead of the ocean or city sounds?  Puppy Sounds.  Best idea ever.  Every single one of their stinky hineys got a nice warm bath, courtesy of my bath-tub and removable nozzle.  I love removable nozzles.  I developed a very good relationship with mine during the broken ankle fiasco. 

So after their bath, I set up the crate and got it all cozy.  Momma was so sweet but you could tell she was used to keeping these little whippersnappers in line and didn't hesitate to wrap some knuckles when the cuties turned into tyrants.  She would have no misbehavin'.  If all kids had a mother like her, this world would be a better place I'm sure of it. 

Don't let these innocent eyes fool you...

Because in the blink of an eye and a flash of razor sharp puppy teeth you could be in some serious pain. One had my toe, one had my sweatshirt, one had my fingers, and one had my pony-tail. I tried to pry them off my various parts but puppies have the lock-jaw...forget pit bulls. One got tired of my toe, ran over to mom and tried to get fresh with her.

She didn't scream like me.  She didn't give them all a chance to take over her whole body like I did.  No, she just lay down the law.  Don't you sass me boy...

Did he sass her again?  No, he sure didn't.  He just ran back to me and relieved me of a toe.  I don't get no respect.

She wasn't always tough as nails.  She was very sweet and motherly, tending to them like a nurturing goddess. 

But like any mother, I'm sure, she took better care of the pups than herself.  The poor dear was in dire need of a massage, facial, mani/pedi and probably a whole Oprah Make-Over.  Kids will age you ten years, I've heard. 

After everyone ate their dinner, took their night-time dooky, and settled in for bed.  Mom led us in a night-time prayer and off to bed we went.

Close them eyes for prayin' youngin'!