Friday, February 27, 2009

Snap, Crackle, Pop - YUCK!

I finally did it - I bought a whole chicken (on sale) and cooked it. I've been out of my parents' house for nine years now...I figured it was time.

Why the wait, you ask? Because I can't STAND to eat chicken off a bone. Even as I type this entry I have goosebumps and am dry-heaving. Excuse me...

Hu-WAH!

Okay, I'm back, and I'm getting to the point.

A few months ago Matt and I bought part of a cow (fabulous!). And over the summer, Meijer has GREAT deals on frozen fish. But chicken...that fine piece of white meat stays just out of my price range. Sure, it goes on sale, but we eat it so quickly because we haven't had it in such a long time. That's because I would only buy the boneless, skinless variety. That has changed.

The local grocery chain had whole chickens on sale (not a HUGE markdown, but on sale). I decided to pick some up. As I generally don't like to hover in the kitchen, I found a nice crock pot recipe. I got all of the veggies and spices ready to go. Then I picked up the chicken. The slimy, slippery, wiggles-like-a-cold-dead-baby chicken. EH! I put it in the pot.

Several hours later - viola! A chicken. I decided to make some risotto to go with it, so I enlisted the hubby to slice the bird. Since neither of us knows how to cut a chicken, and since we don't care about presentation, I told him to just pull the thing apart and grab what he wanted.

Snap (ick), pop (ooph), crack (Ahhh!!)

He ripped the thing apart - it was great! Matt got his dark meat, I got my white meat, and the rest of the chicken was ready for sandwiches/soup/etc.

Now you know that I cooked the bird...but how did it turn out?

I served the chicken with the veggies from the pot (carrots, celery, onion) and with an alfredo risotto. I also decided to make gravy (my 2nd attempt) by pouring the chicken water into a pan and adding flour. Woo hoo!! It WORKED! (Disclaimer: I suffer from a genetic disorder that doesn't make good gravy...after the first attempt I thought it had me, but I have overcome!)

I served up the meal and am happy to report that Matt loved it SO much that he got a spoon to make sure he got all of the sauces off of the plate :)

Now that I know Matt will draw and quarter the carcass, I'm going to look for more recipes!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Bad Is It?

[Sorry, don't know where this came from. Just wanted to put it out there.]

Our economy is in a sorry state. People can't afford to heat their homes. Children go with out medicine because it's too expensive. Families skip meals to make the foot last.

I roll my eyes.

Am I heartless? Cruel? Ignorant?

No, I'm observant.

While many struggle to pay their heating bills, they're still partying in New Orleans. They say the Mardi Gras celebration this year is as good as it's been in the past. And that kid who's parents can't afford the meds for his ADHD? Yeah...he got a Wii for Christmas. Oh, don't forget the hungry family who has to visit the food bank. They can't afford the food because they just bought a brand new flat screen TV for their bedroom.

I'm NOT making this up. I KNOW these people. This isn't some story I read on-line. I can take you through my city and show you who these people are because they've admitted it to me.

And that's why I have a problem with the blanket excuses. I understand that there are people out there who have done things right and are getting the short end of the stick. But I also saw a woman in line at Meijer the other day who was using WIC to get her groceries while she talked on her Bluetooth and looked at pictures on a cell phone that's way more expensive than mine.

I'm not about giving my money/food to an organization that will just give it to anyone who comes in with a sob story. There are people who NEED help in America...but until people disconnect their cable, take the cell phones away from the kids, and cut back the unnecessary expenses, don't come crying to me.

Do you realize that my husband had to take almost 10 months off of work? On top of that, we had his medical bills (most of which were covered by insurance, thankfully). But that left us tight. How did we do it?

I cut coupons and use them on sale merchandise (my average payment, not counting produce, is 45% off the regular price...EVERY TIME I grocery shop!). I moved out of my parents' house eight years ago...I had cable for about six months when my roommate ordered it. I've never paid for it, and I don't miss it. I used the internet at the library (we just got our own a few months ago). I collect popcans. If I DO go the movies, I go to matinees on Tuesday, when the popcorn is $0.50 a bucket. I only eat out if I have a BOGO coupon...and I fill up on the salad, bring everything else home, and give the leftovers to my husband for lunches for a week. I've never paid more than $0.99 for my phone (whenever I renew my contract).

With that said, if things got worse for us, I can still cut costs. We can get rid of the cell phones and put in a land line; get rid of the internet (the library still works); we can get sell our cars for older ones, or drop the coverage to the basic. We STILL have options to make it work.

And that's why I don't donate my groceries or my food to generic organizations anymore. There are too many entitled people out there. Too many uneducated, untrained, unwilling to sacrifice people who think they deserve the same life-style as those people who gave up the time and money to earn a degree or get the training needed to make a career and provide for themselves.

So what about those people who DO need the help? The ones who lost their jobs, got sick without insurance, and are scraping by with barely anything? I'm happy to help...I'm happy to give what I can to help how I can.

Some people really are doing everything right and it's just not working. It's time to stop assuming that everyone who says they "need" falls into that category. There's a difference between 'need' and 'want'. If we can figure that out, we'll do alright.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

House Sitting - Good for the House Hunt

For two weeks I'll be house sitting for friends of mine. I've been here for a few days, and it's nice. Sort of. It's been an eye opener, that's for sure. I also think it'll help me when Matt and I start looking for a house. Here's why...

I used to want to live in town. I mean, now nice to live within walking distance of the library and grocery story, plus the gym, animal feed, and gun supplies! Okay, so I wouldn't need ALL of it, but the thought was nice. But then you have neighbors...close neighbors. And traffic. And noise.

I like where I live now - I'm about 15 minutes from TC, so I'm not by all of the shopping (and the people) but I can still walk to the grocery store and Kmart. Between the two, I can usually find whatever I need. There are a few other houses around and I know my neighbors, but there's not the traffic and flow of strangers zooming by. I really like it. That made me think that I wanted to live in the country. I'd like to have a few acres (my goal is to have a veggie garden!) and some space, but still be a close enough drive to TC for my needs.

I am currently house sitting in the country. I'm about 20 min. from TC (which seemed okay for a while). It's a big, warm house with lots of comfy couches and very few distractions to keep me from my writing [to check up on that, visit here]. It was fun...for about four hours. After the honeymoon phase I started to understand what it REALLY is that I want.

A small town.

I'm not looking for a nice country setting (trust me - the place that I'm at is about as nice as it gets) because it's too isolated for me. I'm sure its nice for the people who live here - it's a family of five and the kids are home schooled, so no one is home alone all day. But for me? When I focus more on my writing, I'm going to be home a LOT...by myself...all day. It's only taken me one day to figure out that I'll go stir-crazy!

But not in a small town. Even though I currently live in a small subdivision, it really is its own little community. I can be home by myself all day, but I don't feel alone. I watch people walk/run/bike by my house. I can skip up to the store and grab a few things, just to get out of the house and breathe for a minute. I can be "alone" without being COMPLETELY alone.

Does that make sense? Maybe not, but it does to me. I need people! Not a lot (too many and I get jittery), but I need someone.

And so now I have a better idea of what to look for, what I personally need in a house. Now I just hope Matt feels the same way :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

32 Things About Us

This is kind of like the 25 things-except there are pre-decided questions and it's about you and your spouse, not just you. Come on, play along - inquiring minds want to know! :-)

1. What are your middle names?
Verner and Victoria

2. How long have you been together?
We met March 2005 - almost 4 years!

3. How long did you know each other before you started dating?
Matt wouldn't call it "dating" for about a month (but we dated from March 2005)

4. Who asked who out?
Matt pursued me actively

5. How old are each of you?
I'm 31...he's 30.

6. Who's the funny one?
Publicly - I am. Privately - he cracks me up!

7. Do you have any children together?
Ah, no

8. What about pets?
Our first baby was Roo (gone since Oct. 2006). Now we have Bucket and Midgie, our black and white cats.

9. Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
Dealing with stuff (actual, physical stuff - books, tools, toys - we have a lot of it)

10. Did you go to the same school?
Nope

11. Are you from the same home town?
Nope

12. Who is the smartest?
I can be taught anything; Matt can teach himself anything (that makes me jealous)

13. Who is the most sensitive?
He is

14. Where do you eat out most as a couple?
I like to keep things different, but we eat at North Peak a lot.

15. Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Las Vegas

16. What do you do on favorite date nights?
Let someone else cook, hang out at Borders, then cuddle up at home

17. Who has the worst temper?
Um, me

18. Who does the cooking?
Um, me - but it's Matt's new passion! Hopefully he'll have the time to cook!

19. Who is the more social?
Me!!

20. Who is the neat-freak?
I am by NO means a neat-freak, but compared to Matt I am.

21. Who is the more stubborn?
I am

22. Who hogs the bed?
The cats. How can something so little require SO much space!

23. Who wakes up earlier?
Naturally - me. For work - Matt (4:30 in the summer!! Shoot me!)

24. Where was your first date?
Officially?? I don't know. Our first time hanging out was at Tim & Nancy's house watching MSU in the Final 4 with our friend Jess.

25.Who usually drives when you are out together?
I hate to drive. When Matt was too sick to go to my high school reunion, I gave Shaina gas money to drive me. I only drive Matt to the hospital (and those days are over!)

26. Do you get flowers often?
Nah. I'd rather have the money for something else.

27. How do you spend the holidays?
In Scottville or Traverse City: crazy-busy in Scottville, and laid-back in TC

28. Who is more jealous?
Don't know.

29. How long did it take to get serious?
We had the RDT (relationship defining talk) five days after our first "date" (with Jess)

30. Who eats more?
We can both pack it away...but I'm going with Matt

31. Who does/did the laundry?
Me (it's part of our arrangement - I work part-time outside of the house and do the chores)

32. Who's better with the computer?
We're both pretty good, but he tries to fix things himself. I call professionals.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby

Well folks - the baby is finally 30...my parents are OLD!!

Anyway, she had a 30th birthday party...here are some shots.

M and her cake (made with love by C)



M's friend Yates enjoying her FIRST s'more!!! (Yes, we made them in the fireplace in the background)


Fun with games!! We played LRC, Spoons, Charades (with Play-do), and this was us playing Apples to Apples - Speed Version.



The morning after... (she's gonna kill me for this picture)


Close-ups of that cake...wait'll ya see it!!!


Wow!

My Super Bowl

Welcome to my 2009 Super Bowl Experience!!! You'll see my lovely party-attendees here, as well as my Super Bowl dancer/singer, and some footage of "Bo" watching his first game (yes, I know his video is crooked...if you know how to rotate footage, please let me know).

Enjoy!

Sis and Bro


Mommy and Daughter


Daddy and Little Man


The Gabel kids in action...

video video

Monday, February 02, 2009

Phil

It's been snowing at my house since November 14th. Six more weeks of winter?!?!

Someone shoot the groundhog.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl Commercials? Hardly.

I actually watch the Super Bowl for the game - I enjoy football. This year's game was great (even though I wanted the Cards to win). I do realize, however, that many people watch the game for the commercials. I usually enjoy them. This year was different.

Sadly there have been games in the past when I would rate the commercials as better than the game. There might be a few games I rated better than the commercials. This year we had a surprise entry - movie trailers.

I LIKE movies based on video games and toys from my childhood. I ENJOY movies that have high energy, lots of action, and good looking guys never hurt. This year's Super Bowl did NOT disappoint me!!

Since I don't have TV reception at home I don't get to see trailers. I was THRILLED to see some much-anticipated trailers!!

1. GI Joe (cuz knowing is half the battle)
2. Fast and Furious (fast cars and cute men? sign me up)
3. Star Trek (fast space ships and cute men? need I say more?)
4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (I've seen Transformers 50 times...)
5. Up (this doesn't actually fall into any of my previous categories...but it's Pixar)

I'm pretty sure there were more, but it doesn't matter right now. Those five movies have me stoked!! I'm so excited for the coming movie season!

And thank you advertising executives for putting these trailers in there for me to see. You have my gratitude :)

[I'm MUCH more excited than this post lets on - I just can't put into words the jumping, pointing, and squealing that happened when I saw the GI Joe trailer]