surprise party.

My friend Melissa, who is a crazy talented photographer, posted some pictures from Heather's surprise party on her blog.

By the way, those photos of hands, with the cards and the cupcakes? Those are mine. :-)

feta and spinach dip.

Saturday night I hosted a surprise party for Heather's 30th birthday, even though her birthday was nearly a month ago. I think 30 is a big deal and should be celebrated - and, since her birthday is the day after Christmas, I don't see ever being able to celebrate it with her on the actual day.

So I made this Weight Watchers recipe for Feta and Spinach Dip, though to be honest, mine looks nothing like the picture. It actually kind of looked like a weird pistachio fluff thing. Next time, I think I would mix everything else together, pureeing it in the blender as directed, then stir in the spinach.

It was still good, though.

(This is #5 of 50 new recipes in 2009 - goal #13. I made Creamy Chicken Rice Soup for #4 - also very good.)

martin luther king, jr. day.

I had grand plans for my day off. I slept in, then spent most of the morning and afternoon reading. Tonight I'll call my mom and discuss the first chapter of the book we're reading together.

And sometime in the next few hours, I'm going to spend some time with a pen and paper and just write down all the random stuff that's floating around in my head. I'm feeling a little like a hamster on a wheel that needs to jump off, take shock, and find a new path.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., since he is the reason I have a day off, after all, I thought I'd share one of my favorite quotes.

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

mexican chicken tortilla soup.

I'm continuing to work through the many recipes I have bookmarked online or dog-eared in recipe books and magazines, making progress goal #13 for this coming year (29 things in 2009).

I made this soup in the crockpot yesterday, and it was so easy, and so good. I originally got the recipe from Life at the Circus, but modified it a bit to suit what I had on hand, so I'm posting my version here.

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

frozen chicken breasts (I used 3)
1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
1 can black beans, drained
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I used 98% fat free)
1 cup water

Add the chicken breasts to the crockpot and top with the remaining ingredients. Cook on high for 6 hours, or low for 8 hours or more (I cooked mine overnight, so it was probably closer to 10 hours, maybe longer).

After cooking, remove the chicken breasts from the soup to chop, then return to the crockpot and stir all ingredients together.


One of my professors in college used to say that the root of procrastination was fear. I always thought that was interesting because if I could just figure out what I was afraid of - the unknown, failing, something I didn't understand - then I could move past it. Sometimes naming a thing, acknowledging it by saying it loud means that it loses its power.

I've learned a lot about working from home over the past year or so. I love it, but sometimes its really hard. I know one of the best ways to get myself going is to actually get out of the house - its figuring how to do that inexpensively and healthily that's the trick.


A few days ago, I had pretty minor, outpatient surgery. I'm okay, a little sore, and the biggest restriction I have is that I can't lift over 15 pounds for the next four weeks.

My parents are here, helping me, and my mom is totally pampering me. She's making dinner, taking care of the dogs, doing my laundry - I even wake up from an afternoon nap on the couch (painkillers are making me sleepy) to find she made my bed. After three days I'm totally spoiled, and she leaves tomorrow.

I'm thinking of offering her money to stay.

russia update.

I booked my tickets to Russia just a couple weeks ago. It still seems a bit surreal to me.

I've got a 10-hour layover in Vienna and want to see some of the city, but I'm nervous about doing it on my own. So I put feelers out, hoping someone I know, knows someone who lives there.

soft vegetable tacos.

Tonight I made the first of my 50 new recipes (goal #13) for the year - Soft Vegetable Tacos from Taste of Home.

I made a few changes - I left out the onion, and I mixed in some white rice. Which made it not so different from the Salsa Chicken Tacos I make all the time - subtract the chicken, add zucchini.

The thing is, the zucchini makes it weird. Not bad, just weird. And I normally love zucchini. Though I think if I make this again, I'd just leave the zucchini out alltogether.