Thursday, January 27, 2011


Work has been extra-stressful lately. Pure miserable.

Today we finished a marathon conference call with a client, and I needed to just get out for a while and relax. I decided to take a quick walk up and down my street.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous - low 60's, bright and sunny - perfect for January (hey - don't hate. I'm not a cold weather/winter sort of girl!)

Low and behold a neighbor popped out of her house to say hello. No, not a new neighbor. She bought her house a year before I bought mine. We've just never met. Our neighborhood pretty much stays inside you see - and we keep to ourselves.

That got me to thinking about what "neighborhood" used to mean. When everyone knew everyone else, trick or treating on Halloween was perfectly safe (no concerns about bad food, or razor blades in the chocolate - y'all remember that scare, right??). When the elderly lady down the street would invite you in for a cookie, or lemonaide. When we had free reign to ride our bikes 2.5 miles through the subdivision, and noone worried. If someone passed, or had a baby, or was sick, everyone brought food. And there were always holiday goodies at Christmas.

You remember those days, don't you??

Yeah, our neighborhood isn't really like that. I sort of wish it was. So it was really nice that my neighbor popped out to say hello.

Turns out she's close to my age, works from home, likes dogs, and she and her husband are doing a bunch of home improvement projects. Yeah, that's what I said - sounds familiar!!!!

Huh. Lookee there. I have a new neighbor.

What are your neighborhoods like? Close and friendly? Distant, but polite? Somewhere in between?

Enjoy your new day!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This Thing is Legendary!!

It's that time of the year here in North Texas - the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo runs from January 14th - February 5th.

My favorite event of the Rodeo's run is the Ranch Rodeo, which is always held opening weekend.

What is a "Ranch Rodeo" you ask? And how does it differ from any other "rodeo"?
Here's how the Rodeo's website describes it:
"Authentic ranch cowboys will compete in events that have aspects of traditional ranch work. Ranch Vet, Double Mugging, Stock Sorting, Bronc Riding and Wild Cow Milking are all in a days work for these cowboys."

Several ranches from the Southwest (Texas, NM and OK) are invited to "put up or shut up". Their cowboys (and cowgirls) compete in the events above, which are slightly different from regular rodeo where professional cowboys compete for money. The ranch rodeo cowboys are competing for the fun of it.

And boy howdy, is it FUN!

The events are held at Will Rogers Coliseum here in town.

The rodeo kicks off with a grand entry parade and then the presentation of the 6 flags that have flown over the state of Texas (Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederacy and the USA) by cowgirls on Palomino horses:

Cowboys waiting for their instructions to sort cattle (called "cutting" - cutting a certain heifer out of the herd below).

and the cowboy rides in (the white on the cows are numbers - the cowboy has to cut the numbered cow that they are assigned, without the others getting away too).

Mr Tom Saunders is the stock contractor (isn't his mustache handsome?!).

I love this paint pony!

Rope 'er cowboy!!

Mutton bustin' is another favorite event: kids ages 4-6 try to hang on to a sheep as she goes galloping towards her herd mates.

And then there's this:
saddle bronc riding

yeah. ouch. I love all the guys on the chutes in the background.

this one ended up being my favorite picture of the night. 

look at the strength of that bronc! 

last, but certainly not least is the Wild Cow Milking.


the formula goes something like this:
4 cowboys on horseback
+ 1 big unhappy momma cow
+ 1 beer bottle (to hold the milk)
= hilarity

1 cowboy ropes her, and he stays on his horse to try to hold her steady.
2 cowboys try to hold her steady - one at the head and one at the tail (doncha feel sorry for the guy who pulled the short straw and has to grab her tail?!?)
the 4th cowboy (whom you can barely see in this photo) tries to squeeze a couple of drops of milk out of her udders into the beer bottle.

I'll tell you that I have no intentions of milking ANY cows anytime soon, much less a wild one. Kudos to these cowboys for their can-do attitude!

a couple of cowboys from the winning ranch:

I just like these guys. Well, these two, plus all the other cowboys and cowgirls who participated. When it was all over, they all congratulated each other on horseback, and probably headed out to have a cold one on the town. It was Saturday night after all!

If you have the chance to attend a rodeo - ranch, professional, exhibition, amateur or otherwise - take it. Unless you're allergic to animals, you won't regret it!

Enjoy your new day!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tried & True: My (Mother's) Lasagna Recipe

Back in December I guest posted at The Scrap Shoppe for Michele's Homemade Holiday event. I shared my lasagna recipe as my favorite non-traditional holiday meal.

I made lasagna again last night, and realized that I had failed - FAILED! - to share it with my own readers.

One disclaimer - if you're Italian, and like the traditional lasagna with lots of noodles, then you may not like my recipe. The noodles are just a delivery system for the meat sauce & cheese. And the smoked sausage gives it a smokey flavor that's just a little different (but oh so good!). 

Cast of characters (Ingredients):

1 lb ground beef
1 lb smoked sausage
2 jars spaghetti sauce (right - I do NOT make my own sauce)
1 16 oz tub of ricotta cheese
1 huge block (16+ oz) of mozzarella or monterey jack cheese
1 box no-boil (oven ready) lasagna noodles (time saver!)
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning
Parmesan cheese

Check your no-boil noodles for the oven temp recommendation. It's typically 350 to 375 degrees. Go ahead and get it pre-heated. 

Step 1: Get that ground beef browning in a pot. I start layering in my flavor here. I add some minced garlic (2 tsps or so = 4 cloves of garlic), plenty of salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning (oregano, basil, marjoram, rosemary & thyme).

Steps 2 & 3: While that cooks, slice up the smoked sausage and the mozzarella/monterey jack cheese:

Step 4: When the beef is browned, drain off excess grease. Then add a jar and  half of spaghetti sauce, the smoked sausage, and a generous palm full of Italian seasoning.

Step 5: stir it all together and let it get happy for a few minutes at a simmer. (5ish minutes works. At this point all of the ingredients are cooked, plus it's going in the oven so it'll all heat through).

Step 6: Spoon off some sauce and put a thin layer in your pan. (note - I use a stone pan, so I coat it in a thin layer of canola oil in the pan first to make clean up easy).

Step 7: Cover the noodles with ricotta cheese and fill the pan. (I spread the ricotta on the noodles just like buttering bread, then lay the noodles in the pan. Sometimes I use my fingertips to smooth it in there).

Step 8: Pour in half of the meat sauce, spread evenly. Then sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese (yes, I use the powdered stuff.)

Step 9: cover with cheese

Step 10: repeat layers (noodles, ricotta, sauce, Parmesan, and cheese).

If you are making this a day ahead, go ahead and cover it with foil, and put it in the fridge.

If you're ready to bake, throw this baby in the oven, uncovered for about 45 minutes. I prefer uncovered b/c I like the brown bubbly cheese.

See what I mean??

A full pan will feed a crowd, or make plenty of leftovers.

Let me know if you try this recipe, and how you like it!

Enjoy your new day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


It's been a busy couple of weeks, and I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel just yet.

My house is in complete disorder as we have the bedrooms pretty much packed up into boxes and stored in the dining room. It's such an unsettling feeling to have so much stuff shoved in there. I can't help it - I'm a nester. I like my house to feel comfortable, and right now, it just isn't. I'm hoping we can get the floors scheduled for installation in the next two weeks.

Next week the landscape team is supposed to come put in the retaining wall and add fill dirt to my backyard. It's been washing downhill into the neighbor's yard, and we need to fix that. As soon as that's in, we've got to put down some grass seed to try to get it rooted before the spring rain starts (and the dirt washes away again).

Work is miserable, as usual. I'm bringing every coping technique I know into play right now just to survive it. There is some comfort in knowing most of the team isn't happy either. You know what they say - misery loves company.

In other news...just 118 days until I leave for Barcelona and my Med cruise. Italy here I come!

Enjoy your new day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I've got plans y'all!

It's a mere 11 days into the new year, and boy do I have plans.

This is really more of an inventory for myself, but I figured y'all might get half a kick out of how crazy delirious dumb ambitious I am.

House stuff: I've lived in this house for nearly 6 years, and it's time to put a little more TLC into it.
1. Back yard - I live on a hill, and my back yard is sliding down into the neighbors. There's soil erosion going on. Thus, we need a retaining wall. And fill dirt. Got the cost for that today, and freakin OUCH. I had no idea dirt was so freakin expensive. Ah well. Better dirt than foundation repairs, right?

2. Flooring - I had the carpet replaced with laminate in my dining room & living room a while back. Now it's FINALLY time to get rid of the carpet in the three bedrooms. That's the good news. The downside of course is that I have to have everything packed up except for the furniture in order for them to do the install. The Master bedroom & closet are pretty much done. My office is 90% done. That leaves the guest bedroom. All of these goodies are being boxed up into the dining room, which means that particular room is a disaster area. So I'll have lots of work to do AFTER the install too. Gah!

3. New Bedroom furniture - I bought an iron canopy bed a few years ago, but the rest of my furniture in our master bedroom is - get this - from my great-grandmother. And no, it isn't anything special, not antique. It's just plain old and falling apart. I got it when I went away to college. That's right. in 1992. And it's probably 15 years older than that. So I am coveting new bedroom furniture. Clearly it's further down the priority list than the above two major items.

4. If I survive the above tasks, I want to get our garage cleaned out and reorganized. Yeah, I agree. Someday.

Travel/Company/Family - 2011 is shaping up to be a busy travel year, and plenty of house guests coming into town.
1. My friend Amber is hoping to come into town in February. If not Feb, then May. I can't wait to spend some time with her!
2. My parents are coming out for a visit in late February. They are staying at a hotel, which will probably save our sanity.
3. My brother is coming out for a visit in April, to go to the NASCAR race with us. Zooooooom!
4. I'm going on a major trip with my mother in May. YIPPEEE!
5. My honey & I are going to NYC in June - I love, LOVE going to NYC with him.
6. I'm hoping to get back to Best Friends in September. This one is pretty tentative, but I really want to make it happen!  
7. I'm hoping my Canuck friend Erin will come for a visit this fall. And bring some All Dressed Ruffles Potato Chips. Those darn Canucks have all the good flavors!!! (seriously, these chips are so freaking good)

My honey & I also have tickets to 4 big Rangers games (BoSox, Skankees, Astros and Rays) over the season.

And I need to craft. I mean, really, really need to be a busy crafter this year. 

Whew. I mean - WHEW!

No, I didn't win the lottery. I'm still hopeful though.

What are your plans for 2011?

It's a new year!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holy Macaroni! I'm Stylish!

Well, according to my creative and stylish friend Tricia I am.

I know - I know! I've never won any sort of award before.
I don't even have an acceptance speech prepared.

Thanks Tricia!!!! I so enjoy our friendship - you make me laugh, and that sweet little girl of yours is so precious.

This is a pay-it-forward style award. Here are the rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this.
2. Share 8 things about yourself
3. Pay it forward to 8 bloggers that you have recently discovered (or not so recently)
4. Contact those bloggers and tell them about their awards.

Soooo here we go:

1. I get tongue tied. I know that's hard to believe, but I do! I'm a dork.
2. I'm a dork. It bears repeating.
3. I'm an avid rescue and shelter-adoption supporter. Don't shop, adopt!!
4. I love the color purple. It's a holdover from my pre-teen days. Thankfully, purple is almost cool again.
5. I hate NYC. Unless I'm with my honey, and then I love NYC. It's completely different when seeing it with a "local".
6. I'm telling you this because my honey & I are planning a trip to NYC this summer.
7. I'm also traveling to Europe this summer, and probably (hopefully!) a return trip to Best Friends in Utah this fall.
8. While I love traveling for fun, I hate traveling for work.

And now to pay it forward! This was a tough one. I am a blog whore lover!
1. Karen at Industrial Strength - she's taking some really cool photos!!
2. Martha at Mugsyboo - I drool over her creativity!
3. Katie & Stella at Sister Stella - another fantastic photographer (and hilarious story teller).
4. Michele at the Scrap Shoppe - she inspires me, she encourages me, and she's a fantastic friend!
5. Nissa at Pugs Are Cool - she's one of the youngest pug lovers I've met, and she's also a volunteer for DFW Pug Rescue. We are lucky to have her!
6. Roo at Nice Girl Notes - I pretty much am a stalker. (sorry Roo!)
7. Amber at Roots of a Blossom - my all time favorite photographer.
8. Kayla Aimee at Only Slightly Neurotic - I am following her journey with her daughter in NICU. I think about baby Scarlette daily, and I know she wouldn't mind if you added your thoughts too. It's the power..