Archive for November, 2009

Not The Update You Were Expecting

I hope everyone had a calorie filled Thanksgiving and that you ate and shopped to your heart’s content. I apologize for the lack of post on Friday. I had one started and planned to complete it but we didn’t have internet as expected. We spent Wednesday through Saturday in deep south Texas at a hunting camp. I have all sorts of stories to tell you about our few days 11 miles south of border patrol, but I’ll get to that tomorrow Wednesday Thursday. I don’t have pictures yet and it’s just not the same without pictures.

So today I’ll update you on my 101 in 1001 progress. I imagine I have a lot to check off the list but I have no idea. We’ll see!

6. Do something new with my hair.
I cut some side bang things. They aren’t much different but they add a little bit of interest to my hair. I haven’t colored my hair in months and months. I’m not sure why but my husband likes looking at my grays. I’ll keep it as is for now, but I’ll color it eventually… these grays are really getting out of control.

26. Host a Pampered Chef Party
Done! It was great. I got tons of great items. I’m specifically thrilled about my pizza stone. I’ve only made biscuits on it so far but I plan to make a pizza from scratch. It’ll come in handy.

37. Try a new shampoo.
Every now and then there is something that goes on in my life that I choose not to share with you. It’s part of that real life/ blog life balance. Starting a few months ago I started getting really itchy. Like out-of-control, stay-up-at-night, make-you-want-to-die itchy. It’s a long story but we think we narrowed it down and found out I was allergic to Gain laundry detergent. That eventually turned into dermagraphia and the itching got worse. However, in the process of figuring it out, I changed everything. New soap, deodorant, detergent, lotion, etc. etc. So with that, I tried a new shampoo and conditioner. I got Head and Shoulders because it’s for sensitive skin and helps itching, not just dandruff. Turns out, I really like it. I’m almost done with my first bottle of each. I’ve already clipped a coupon for my next set.

40. Host a dinner party for my in-laws.
I guess our trip to Galveston could count for this. I made some delicious food for dinner one night while we were there. Although I think I’ll do this again. Next time I’ll host it at our house. It may have to wait a while though because we need chairs first. Dinner parties aren’t very fun without dining room chairs. Unless we do a picnic theme.

47. Make 3 Pioneer Woman recipes.
I’ve gone above and beyond. I’ve now made the following (each item is a link):

Potato Bundles
Yellow Cupcakes with Sticky Chocolate Icing
Roasted Garlic and New Potatoes
Grilled Ribeye with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce
Cinnamon Rolls
Simple, Perfect Chili – I don’t think this one is online. I can’t find it. Here’s a picture. P Dub, feel free to use this for your blog, it’s top quality.

54. Sponsor a child during Christmas.
I have three Christmases during this 1001 challenge so I suppose this could be a task for any of the Christmases. This Christmas we are donating to an organization instead of adopting a family. Mostly because we missed the adopt a family deadline, but that’s okay because this organization is a great cause.

62. Finish the bathroom.
This is as done as it’s going to get. There is still no vent cover or hand towel hook. But who needs those anyways?? Right??

64. Buy a black belt.
I bought a cheap belt a month or so ago when Oprah did that 50% off Payless deal. I don’t love it but I like it enough for the price I paid.

87. Go to a Christian concert.
A few months ago we went to see The David Crowder Band. In a couple weeks we are going to see Chris Tomlin. I love them both!

88. Read 3 classic novels.
I’m in the process of reading Wuthering Heights. So far, I love it. I’m only halfway through though. I’m having a hard time finding time to read since I keep choosing to cook or read cookbooks or blog. I’ll get it done eventually!

99. Renew and add money to our CD when it matures.
It matured about a month ago so we added a bit more to it and renewed. That is such a great feeling! I love untouchable money.

I have now completed 19 items. I have quite a ways to go!

Ten on Tuesday questions are posted! Click the button on the right to see the list. Feel free to email me anytime with your 10 questions to be added to the queue. chelsea.hurst (at) hotmail (dot) com.

November 30, 2009 at 9:37 am 10 comments

Thanks Y’all!

On Monday when I was reading my Google Reader, I stumbled upon a post that was titled something like 100 Things I Am Thankful For. My friend Sarah had written it. I clicked on it to read it and comment but it wasn’t there. Which we all know probably means she accidentally pushed “Publish” instead of “Save.” Oops. But it gave me an idea. I thought about making a list of things I sincerely am thankful for. But there are a few problems with that. There are a lot, I’d be sure to miss some and then feel guilty about it, and I don’t have an attention span long enough to put my mind to it. But I think it’s a great exercise and look forward to reading Sarah’s full list.

Instead, I’m going to reflect on a few things I’m thankful for that I don’t normally thank God for when we’re standing around the kitchen table holding hands during the “What are you thankful for?” exercise.

I am thankful:

-for my high metabolism.
-that Stephen is entertaining.
-that I have a job that doesn’t involve panty hose.
-for cheese.
-for cheesecake.
-that Jim, Sarah, and Lauren convinced me to use Google Reader. What did I ever do without it?
-that I don’t have expensive taste. I love Old Navy just as much as Ann Taylor.
-for excellent Mexican food.
-for my healthy finger nails.
-for my blog and all my readers. You guys are the best!
-for all things pumpkin.
-that I live in Texas.
-for sarcasm.
-for spell check.
-for wine.
-that my family loves to laugh together.
-that I love to read.
-for my LG Dare so I can read email anytime I want.
-for quality television like The Office and The Biggest Loser.
-for Chapstick.
-for good, strong, hot coffee.
-the Old Navy makes cheap, long jeans.
-for cotton dresses so I don’t have to wear shorts in the summer.
-for text messaging so I don’t have to talk on the phone much.
-for The University of Texas.

Is that enough? I’m thankful for so much more. You know… like margaritas, free things, Julia Child, office supplies, and comfy underwear. I could really go on and on but we’ve all got about 5000 calories that aren’t going to ingest themselves.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2009 at 10:00 am 9 comments

Loser 8.11: No Jennie-O Plugs The Day Before Thanksgiving?

What have you done today to make you feel proud? …. We need a change…. Do it today… I can feel my spirit rising…

I just thought we should start off the way they do. I’m blogging as I watch so the tenses will probably be wacky again. Deal with it.

Amanda was shocked with the realization that she is now alone in the house. She has no more allies. What a terribly lonely and daunting feeling.

UM HELLO. What the HECK happened to Liz’s hair?? Is it just me or did it get even blonder?? There are some camera shots where she looks platinum. Other times, she looks good. I don’t get it.

This was the episode where they do they same workouts that they did on the first day. I LOVE that. It’s so cool to see how far they’ve come. They all look so much younger. How does Jillian not herniate a disc a when she’s getting pulled around the floor by these guys?

Suze Orman showed up to teach the contestants how to be financially fit. Suze Orman is brought to you by Total. This is new. Although I think this is a very true and clear message: “Obesity is a very expensive disease.” Yes. Also “We usually spend MORE THAN when we feel LESS THAN.” Agree. They participated in a quiz, on a treadmill. For each correct question, they got $1000 deposited into their new Ameritrade account. If they answered wrong, they had to up their speed and incline by 1. I like new challenges. I especially like challenges when they can’t screw each other over. By the way, if you want to see more of the segment, you can watch The Suze Orman Show on Saturday. Plugged.

Multigrain Cheerios. TOO MANY COMMERCIALS.

I really don’t mean to be mean or bitter or tacky… I just really don’t like Liz. She really bothers me. Her attitude is not pleasant.

Bob talked to everyone about going home. About the reality of what’s going to happen when they get home. I think he got them thinking. Also, I kind of hope Bob isn’t gay and he and Amanda fall in love and get married. I think they are cute and they give me little butterflies.

Liz and Danny don’t give me butterflies. I’m pretty sure she hearts him more than she hearts her husband. Not good. Not good at all.

On to the football challenge… seems to be one every season. (ALISON IS SO CUTE!) The winner received two tickets to the 2010 Pro Bowl, which really seems to be lost on this bunch. Then Rod Woodson showed up and I don’t know who that is. Sorry, not an NFL fan. There was a football for each week on campus. The ball weighed the amount that the contestant lost that week. They were strapped to an elastic cord and loaded up with the amount of weight they had lost. (That’s the easiest way to explain it. It was more complicated than that but I think it would confuse us all if I tried. And then I’d be forced to just quit. Trust me, it’s easier this way.) They had to run to the other side of the field carrying the football with for the first week, run back to get the next week’s ball, and so on. Make sense? All that matters is that Allen won. And they tackled giant versions of themselves.

Allen’s daughter goes to a Lutheran school. As a former Lutheran school girl, I like that.

Danny wrote a song and sang it to the group. I always think it’s awkward to sit and listen people to sing in a small group… one reason I don’t like when people sing Happy Birthday. But I think Liz was looking at dreamy Danny and falling more in love with him.

I have a hard time believing that Rudy and Amanda ate Subway right before last chance workout. That just doesn’t add up. Last chance workout was really sweaty this week! Allen is looking pretty ripped. And again, how in the world is Liz only 49? She has attitude wrinkles, not smile wrinkles. Those aren’t the good kind of wrinkles.

On to the weigh-in. Amanda has to stay above or else she’ll go home, for sure. The color of Alison’s hair is a bit off, don’t you think? Here we go:

Liz – 5 – 2.46% – She’s under 200, which is a great note to leave the ranch on.
Rudy – 12 – 3.9% – He gave some redeeming speeches that may make some of you hate him less.
Allen – 8 – 3.36% – He lost 95 pounds on the ranch. He looks great, he’s a nice guy. I think he’s a winner.
Danny – 16 – 5.26% – WHOA! Huge number. He set a record – lost double digits 7 weeks in a row. He cried. Of course. (But remember, I’m okay with that.)
Amanda – 7 – (I missed the percentage… oops) – Whooo hooo! Atta girl!!

Allen and Liz are below the yellow line. Danny is the biggest loser this week so Curtis Stone will go to his house and teach him how to cook. Pretty cool. Hopefully he won’t make fungus burgers.

It’s assumed that Danny will keep Liz and Rudy will keep Allen. So now its up to Amanda to decide who goes home. You all know my choice. Unfortunately she sent Allen home and kept Liz. Ugh. Come on Amanda.

Allen went from 325 to 230 in the ranch. Now he weights 220. And it looks like he and his wife have reconnected, which is fantastic! His daughter’s school got the $5000 from the football challenge. Awesome!

Remember to tune in tomorrow night for the Where Are They Now special. I don’t think I’ll be able to be home for it so don’t spoil the surprise! AND NEXT WEEK IS THE FINALE!!! What in the world will we do without this show??

November 25, 2009 at 9:19 am 8 comments

Ten on Tuesday (7)

Today’s batch of questions comes from Molly from Considering the Campbells. Molly is mostly responsible for my decision to have y’all come up with the ToT questions. Her sister didn’t like it when she participated in Ten on Tuesday, she said that Molly wasn’t funny enough. I disagree. I always think Molly is funny. But I decided that I didn’t want to be held responsible for crappy questions. Plus, you guys are creative. I know, I read y’all’s blogs.
So anyways, go visit Molly and then go down to Mr. Linky and visit the other ToTers. It would be okay if you read my answers first. 
1. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
A teacher. Don’t most little girls want to be teachers at some point? I used to teach my sister. I don’t think she enjoyed it as much as I did. But I really did teach her real things. My favorite part was making her “take home folders” where I could write grades and letters to her parents. I’d make folders for my imaginary kids too. For some reason, paperwork is fun and exciting when you’re little. It makes you feel old and responsible. I wish I could show the little Chelsea how much “paperwork” big Chelsea has sitting on her kitchen counter.
2. Name 3 of your irrational fears.
-When other people use knives. Unless you are Iron Chef Morimoto, you probably don’t know how to use a knife properly. If I see any unsafe usage, I get nervous. If you jokingly “play” with a knife, I begin to sweat and turn red and cry. True story.
-Infertility. This is an irrational fear not because it’s not serious, but because it isn’t the end of the world. Remember, we’ve been through this. God’s plan is better than my plan.
-Never having enough money. I can’t imagine taking on anything else on right now. Kids, cars, and house drama are in our future and I have no idea how we’ll handle it. It’s irrational because we are doing okay. And because, once again, God has this covered.
3. If you had a $200 gift card to any store, what would you want it to be? (Nothing responsible allowed. Can’t be used for groceries or anything)
I would say Central Market. I know, I know. Molly said it couldn’t be for groceries. But what if I spend it on completely irrational groceries so I could cook fancy meals that I would never normally make? Steaks, tenderloins, fancy oils. No? Still doesn’t count? Okay fine, Old Navy, Kohls, or Target. Can’t go wrong with any of those!
4. What is your most (blog-friendly) embarrassing moment?
This is hard. I really don’t know. I get semi-embarrassed fairly easily but never anything major. I remember one time when I was in third grade, I was at softball practice and I split my shorts open. I don’t know if anyone noticed but it was terribly embarrassing to me. In college I split my jeans open when I was out to dinner. Same thing though. I have no idea if anyone saw but I was pretty embarrassed.
5. If you were only allowed to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Pizza. Because there are a bagillion kids of pizza.
6. What was your favorite toy growing up?
I loved art supplies. Boxes, scissors, markers, glitter, glue guns, pipe cleaners. I loved it all. I used to make gadgets from boxes. I knew how to make cardboard buttons. I was pretty cool. I had my very own time machine and computer.
7. Do you have a “go to” outfit? What is it?
I wear jeans every day. I almost always wear Old Navy tank tops or camisoles under my shirts because almost everything I own is too short. So this makes sure that I don’t show the men at work my tummy or back skin.
8. Who was the best teacher you ever had?
(Y’all something weird is going on my blog today and it’s not letting me put spaces between some of the lines. I’m aware that this is almost impossible to read because there aren’t spaces. Forgive me. It’s driving me CRAZY.)
I have had a lot of great teachers so this is a really hard question. In 8th grade my English and Literature teacher was fantastic. It was hard to appreciate her at the time because she was tough. But she was brilliant and genuinely cared about the progress of all of her students. I learned a lot from her. I can think of three exceptional teachers in high school.
-Mrs. Ward: I had her for multiple classes but the one that made a real impact was a class called Novel. We read 9 novels in one semester. Each day we gathered in class and talked about the book. I had never seen someone so passionate about reading, someone who got so excited and attached to stories. She literally danced around the room when she got excited about a story. It was contagious. Not the dancing part, but the excitement part.
-Mr. Baacke: He was my biology and biology 2 teacher. He quite possibly one of the smartest men I’ve ever met. I’m not sure how his head isn’t bigger. Anyone who has had him would agree – whether you like biology or not. He had a giant iguana named Morty. Sir Morticus really, but I think he found out at some point that he was a she. So now it’s Morty. I’m not a fan of Morty. But I’m a fan of Mr. Baacke. Oh and also whenever the chalk dust ran down the chalkboard, he’d stop class to for chalk racer contests. Ahhh high school… good times.
-Mrs. Hergenrader… Who I now call Tina. She was my journalism teacher. She’s extremely special to me for so many reasons and it would take a long time to explain it. I learned a lot from her. She was my teacher for a few years and then she left to pursue a writing career and have babies. She has three really cute babies and several awesome young adult, Christian books. (Christina Hergenrader – look her up on Amazon and buy her books. For real.)
9. If you could buy any car right now (something at least SORT OF within the realm of reality…so, you know, a Rolls Royce may not qualify), what would it be?
A very large truck. Four doors. Either a Ford or a Ram, whatever Stephen wants, it’ll be his.
10. How do you reckon that Chelsea comes up with 10 of these questions every week? It was hard! What’s your theory on how she’s so creative? Are you going to help her?
Seriously, it is hard. Are you going to help? Shoot me an email with your ten questions if you want to participate!
You’re Turn

November 24, 2009 at 9:09 am 19 comments

The Calm After The Storm

I am currently settled into our big leather chair. It’s Sunday night and I have a large glass of Dr. Pepper next to me and The Next Iron Chef finale on the television. My feet are cozy in slippers and I’ve got a pillow and a laptop on my lap. I am happy. I am relaxed. I am accomplished.

This weekend was one of my rare weekends when I look back and wonder, “Who the heck is this chick? Is she on drugs?” I didn’t stop moving. I have the pains in my back and stains on my tile floor to prove it. For real.

After work on Friday I headed home to hang out with Rookie and Molly for an hour or so before going to a dinner. Molly was staying with us for the weekend while my parents were out of town. It’s always fun to have Molly around. I specifically enjoy watching her and Rookie chase each other around the house while barking. There’s really nothing more entertaining than a 6 pound fluff ball and 45 pound wolf dog play. Try it sometime. And when said wolf dog needs to go outside to potty, this is what said fluff does:

Saturday morning I slept. And slept. It was glorious. When I finally dragged myself out of bed, I took inventory on my kitchen and made my grocery list. Incase anyone ever thinks it’s a good idea to go to the grocery store around noon on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I beg you to rethink. Unless you’re the type that gets a high from maneuvering around hoards of grocery carts and fighting for the dwindling supply of canned pumpkin. I am not. I get a high from stocking my freezer or from finding something on sale. Although I did buy two cans of pumpkin even though I already had two in my pantry and only needed 1 for my recipe. You want pumpkin? You need pumpkin? I suppose I need more pumpkin. You know, just incase.

I came home and unloaded the car. I put the ingredients for chicken chili in the Crock and asked God to make this the best soup in the world so my husband would decide that soup doesn’t suck. Without looking back or thinking about what was in my near future, I started making the dough for Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve been wanting to taste these for a long time now and I don’t think I know many people bold enough to take these on… and then share them with me. To be honest with you, I didn’t completely read the recipe before I started it. I didn’t really want to know what I was getting into.  So I started the dough. I put it in the laundry room to rise for an hour and decided to make some mini-meatloafs (meatloaves?) to restock my freezer. An hour later I checked on my dough. I told Stephen that if it didn’t rise I would cry. I didn’t rise much. I didn’t cry. I recovered it and turned on the dryer to heat up the room.

Once the dough was “good enough” I started rolling them out. According to PW’s cookbook, you should roll the dough into a 30 x 10 inch rectangles in two batches. Thirty by ten. Thirty inches by ten inches. Imagine your kitchen. Do you have a space that can accomodate a 30 x 10 inch rectangle of dough, plus some space around it for oozing mess, work space, and butter, sugar and cinnamon? That’s a lot of space. Thankfully I had the space but I was cutting it close.

So lets just say that these were a lot of work. Not difficult, just time-consuming. I learned after the first half of dough that there is such thing as a Wrong Way to Roll Cinnamon Rolls. I did better on my second go. By the end of the rolling, cutting, icing whisking, packing, etc. I was exhausted. I nursed my wounds by eating 3 delicious cinnamon rolls and a bowl of mediocre chicken chili.

But I pressed on. I made some King Ranch Chicken with some turkey I had in the freezer from many moons ago when I made my first turkey. So King Ranch Turkey, really. I have no idea if it’ll be good, it’s in 4 9×9 pans in my freezer now. This is what I ended up with.

Ignore my dated kitchen. Dated kitchens work the same as fancy new ones. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I should have taken a photo of the counter after I rolled the cinnamon rolls. It was bad.  Bad in an ooey gooey cinnamony delicious way. But it’s all okay because I ended up with 8 trays of Heaven.

Then I went to sleep. And slept like a freaking bear in hibernation. Sunday after church we went to a surprise party for my uncle. We got home around 4:30 and I got back in the kitchen. Why? Because I’m a crazy lady. I threw some stuff in the Crock to make tortilla soup and accidentally turned it to warm instead of high. Warm doesn’t cook chicken. In case you were wondering.

Then I whipped this baby up.

That’s a chocolate pumpkin cheesecake, thank you very much. And since my Crock Pot was on warm instead of high for an hour, we were without dinner. So I hopped back up and fried up some bacon, chopped some potatoes and made some hashbrowns, and scrambles some eggs. And that Lord said, “it was good.”

And now I’m relaxing. I’m about 14 seconds away from going to bed where I will pass out and sleep like a baby. Or like a shih-tzu.

(Ten on Tuesday questions have been posted on in the archives – click the button in the right sidebar. Tomorrow marks the first day that YOU come up with questions.)

November 23, 2009 at 9:52 am 25 comments

Seven Quick Takes (vol.16)

Has this week flown by or what??? Here’s another 7 bits of information that you can probably live without. For more, visit Conversion Diary.

Do you want to know the only thing that sucked about my birthday? I spilled BBQ sauce on my Sperry’s.

Oh, and it was freaking freezing. But other than those two things, it was glorious.

Lauren is out of the hospital. She’ll probably have details on her blog in the next few days. Something about a ginormous appendix or something. She had surgery so she’ll be recovering for a while. But yay!!! I’m glad the doctors finally figured it out.

Whenever you get a spare 2 minutes, watch this video. It is so cool. It appeals to the inner-geek in me.

Quick Take #4 is not suitable for younger audiences… or family members. Skip this one if you are my family. Please. Or don’t… but I warned you.

S- I want this CD for Christmas.
C- Okay.
S- But you have to give it to me while you’re naked.
C- Santa doesn’t bring naked wives.
S- I don’t believe in Santa. I believe in Jesus. Jesus brings naked wives.

(Stephen really wanted me to tell y’all about that.)

So this Ten on Tuesday thing… Let’s talk about it. I had originally planned to do it just one week when I couldn’t come up with something to write about. But then y’all started participating in the comments and on your blogs and I LOVE reading your answers. But here’s my problem: Sometimes I have a hard time coming up with questions… especially because I know I’ll be answering them too. So here’s my idea: You come up with the questions.

You can email me a list of ten questions at any time and I’ll post them on the next available Tuesday. I’ll link to your site and you link to mine- insta traffic! How does that sound?

This may be my last Quick Takes for a while. December and January are going to be exciting times around R&R. We’ll be celebrating Christmas and my Blogiversary (Jan. 5) so each Friday I will announce a new giveaway. It’ll be open for a few days and I’ll announce the winner the following Friday. There are so ridiculously cool things coming your way and I’m sure they’ll help you with Christmas gift ideas. Be excited. Be very excited!

Houstonians going to PW’s book signing… the details have changed. It’s no longer at the Blue Willow Bookshop, it has been moved to Georgia’s Market (<– that’s a link). BUT here is the thing. You have to have a ticket to get in the signing line. Boo hiss, I know. Tickets are available at Blue Willow now and they’ll be available starting at 11:00 at Georgia’s on the day of the signing. I asked if there was a chance they’d run out of tickets. She said, ” I don’t think so.” I don’t know if that means that there are an infinite number of tickets, or if they are severely underestimating the fame of Pioneer Woman. She told me that tickets will be in color groups, so the later colors just have to wait in line longer. If you don’t have the book yet, you can call and reserve it with Blue Willow and they’ll also hold a ticket for you (281-497-8675). Both will be available at will-call at Georgia’s. You cannot call to reserve your ticket, those must be picked up in person.

I think Georgia’s is a restaurant. We should all meet up and eat afterward. Or before. Or during. Or whatever. Who is going?

If you have any questions, ask. If I haven’t already asked I will send you to the correct person.

I hope you all have fantastic weekends ahead of you. We have a few things on our plate this weekend but I’m hoping it’ll still allow time for some reading, writing, and maybe putting up the Christmas tree! I know, I know. I’m a post-Thanksgiving decorator too, but next weekend will be CRAZY so I’m thinking we may try to get a head start. Don’t judge us.

November 20, 2009 at 9:59 am 21 comments

Like a Book

If you’ve read my blog for longer than 17 seconds, you’ve probably got me figured out. I don’t think anyone has ever drawn my name in a gift exchange and said, “Well crap! What the heck do you get someone like Chelsea? She is impossible to shop for.” Because I am not impossible to shop for. I’m quite easy to shop for. I’m quite easy to entertain and quite easy to please. Basically, I am easy to read… Like a book.

Tuesday was my 25th birthday. I’m not going to lie, 25 sounds *older* to me than 24. I know it is older, precisely one year older. But it just sounds like an adult age. I’m not an adult. But then someone posted a happy birthday message on their Ten on Tuesday that mentioned I am halfway to 50. Oh geez. (By the way, have y’all been reading and commenting on these ToT’s? Who knew that the whole world loves post it tab flag things?? I never use them. Apparently I’m missing out.)

Tuesday night Stephen and I went to my parents’ house. I originally thought that Stephen would make me dinner while I watched Biggest Loser and blogged. But schedules were a bit crazy for my family so we got together that night instead of our regular after-church lunch. My mom made TWO Pioneer Woman recipes! She made the Chicken Parmigiana and boy oh boy was it delicious! She made PW’s Tiramisu for dessert. I don’t think I’ve ever had a true tiramisu so I have nothing to compare it to, but it was delicious!!

Last night we went to Olive Garden with my in-laws because my stomach has been wanting salad and breadsticks for a long time now and since I am the birthday girl, they had to take me there. It was great. My mother-in-law ordered me this delicious strawberry cake with cream cheese icing from the bakery that her and my FIL’s wedding cake came from. So stinkin’ good. Of course I had to take a bathroom break two seconds after we sat down because my bladder is the size of a thimble. When I came back, this was sitting on my chair.

A scrapbook full of letters. From family, from friends, from many of you. What a gift! I was overwhelmed. See, I’m good at GIVING those types of gifts. I’m not great at getting them. So many wonderful things are on the pages of that book and I definitely don’t feel like a worthy recipient. As a “Words of Affirmation” and “Acts of Service” chick, my love cup is overflowing!

I’d like to show you a few pictures of the various gifts I received the past few days. If you’re anything like me, be prepared to be jealous.

That’s the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. I have never used this cookbook but my aunt loves it, and my aunt is a reliable source. And (WHOO HOO) Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Yes ma’am. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volumes 1 and 2. Even if I never make anything from this book, it’s a must have. My collection wouldn’t be complete without it. I may attempt a few recipes but, most likely, I’ll just read it like a book. I’m weird like that. There is also a smaller cookbook called Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom. I hardly think a publisher was able to capture Julia Child’s wisdom in that tiny book, but I’ll take what I can get!

I’ve read Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and Baby Proof by Emily Griffin. All were easy and entertaining reads. I’ve had Love The One You’re With on my “books to read” list for probably almost two years now! And lookie there, My Life In France. I’m going to be a Julia Child trivia beast!

Ignore the larger than life bridal portrait of me in the background, and my brother crossing his legs like a lady. Focus on the beautiful books in my hands. Swoon. Have y’all seen these? The clothbound Penguin Classics? They are beautiful!! I think they have 20 clothbound books released, I got 5! You can’t help but pet them when you hold them in your hand. I was reading a used copy of Wuthering Heights but I switched over to this one. I feel pretty classy when I hold this book!

Aahhhhh (angels singing), my very own Dutch oven! Stephen is celebrating the possibilities of what’s to come in that pot. I’m breaking a sweat just holding it up.

Stephen gave me some clothes from Old Navy (click here) (the other items aren’t online, I don’t know what’s up with that). He also sent flowers to my office. That really makes a girl feel special! My SILs both gave me Old Navy gift cards. I literally did a happy dance when I opened one of them. I just did a classy “whoo hoo” when I opened the other since I wasn’t alone. I don’t do dances in front of people. Happy or otherwise.

Also not picture is some Dove chocolate (delicious!), wine (also delicious!), shirts, and money to go toward my dining room chairs. Y’all, I’m one blessed chick! I think it’s funny how similar most of my gifts are. If you include the scrapbook as a book everything totals as follows: 8 books, 5 cookbooks, Old Navy gear, and food related items. So if you ever draw my name in a gift exchange or wake up just dying to buy me presents, you shouldn’t have any trouble coming up with something to get me. Although, after skimming some of the cookbooks, I’m thinking about editing my Christmas wish list to things like: a roast, wine, fine baking chocolate, and beef tenderloin. But I would be okay if you got me something you already know I love… like a book.

(That’s not a book. It’s cake. But it seemed like a good closing picture.)

November 19, 2009 at 9:33 am 34 comments

Loser 8.10: That’s Like a Whole Jillian

Forgive me if this isn’t my best recap. It’s late. My parents had my family over for a birthday dinner and it is now very very late! But since it is my birthday, I can start watching a television show at 10:00pm if I feel like it. I’ll be writing in the present and past tense because I’m typing as I watch and my old brain can’t convert tenses properly.


I love makeover week. Here are some highlights:

-Tim Gunn said, “The best way to dress up jeans and a t-shirt is to add a blazer.” Rudy asked, “Well where would I wear that?” He said, “If you’re going to take your wife to dinner…” And Rudy said, “Well…. I guess… I could do that.”

-Apparently they are going to have to give speeches. Not sure who they’ll be speaking to.

-Rebecca looks AMAZING. Her hair is so cute. She reminds me of Kyla Roma. (<– click her name, fellow blogger) Even though I don’t actually KNOW Kyla, I think her hair is just precious.

-Danny colored his hair and shaved. I like the salt and pepper look so I’m not a fan of the new hair. But wow, he looks young. His daughter said, “I was so excited to see my dad. I’ve only had a fat dad for my WHOLE life.”

-Allen is looking pretty spiffy. Sheesh. He really looks fantastic. Umm, did y’all see his wedding photo? If I were him, I don’t think I’d allow that on national television.

-Amanda cut her hair and it’s super cute. She sort of reminds me of LeAnn Rimes. Is it just me?

-Rudy shaved. They convinced him. He looks classy and young. You can actually see his true smile.

-I don’t like Liz but I like her new look. Her hair looks great. It really makes her look put-together.

The contestants spoke to an arena of people. Their speeches were awesome. Danny’s daughter is precious. He spoke about how his turning point was when his daughter said “I want to have a big belly like you.” Rudy spoke about his sister who died of leukemia when he was a little kid. (And seriously, he looks great.) I really liked Liz’s message. I think it’s specifically great for women to hear– you cannot help everyone else if you don’t help yourself. Women are SO good at neglecting their own needs.

NBC  is really pushing this Bob/Amanda thing. Every time they show her, they show him immediately after. Hmmm…

On to the challenge. We’ve seen this challenge before. They have to cross a 700 feet zipline. The winner wins a two week vacation to the Biggest Loser resort in Utah. Two comments on that: 1) Whoa, BL is totally taking over the world. They have a resort now?? 2) Whatever happened to vacations to Mexico? A health camp? Really?

Liz was FREAKING out. FREAKING out. I have never seen someone freak out that much. I was cracking up.  She did the entire thing with her eyes closed. Ha.

Rudy won. Shocker.

Back to the house. Bob and Allen had a quick chat about taking apples to the gym in a fancy bag that is green. Awesome.

Jillian challenges Rudy about his story. I can’t believe it is taking this long to get emotions out of Rudy. I really thought he was just a old football player who kept eating and gained weight. Wrong-o. He’s got some work to do still, but I think he’s off to a good start.

Weigh in time. The girls are finally in their cute, form fitting tops. And Jillian is actually wearing a shirt that has no form at all. Alison’s dress is cute, but nothing to write home about. I don’t think anyone will be googling this dress. 

Danny (12) – How? He’s lost 126 pounds in ten weeks. He’s lost more than Jillian weighs.
Rudy (16) – WOWZA. How does he do this?!? He’s lost 134 pounds to date, more than anyone has lost in ten weeks in BL history.
Allen (5) – Jillian compliments the weight loss. For his size and shape, this is good. They don’t want him losing too much weight just to win. (Ahem, Helen.)
Rebecca (3) – Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Three is not good.
Liz (3) – Her eyes just look mean. I have no other comment.
Amanda (9) – Awesome. That’s almost unbelievable. She’s under 200! This is the most weight she’s lost since she got to the ranch. (They didn’t show her hug Bob. Come on!)

That leaves Rebecca and Liz below the yellow line. Rebecca wanted to talk to Rudy and Allen about their decision. On his way out, Allen said, “You need to get some fight. If you want to stay here, you need to fight for it.” Rebecca asked for her second chance. She said that Liz has been under the yellow line 3 times, she has had her second chances.

Liz is 49?? Only 49? She, uh, does not look 49. And apparently she only thinks she’s going to live 20 more years. Interesting.

Amanda and Danny obviously voted for the Liz and Rebecca. Rudy voted for Rebecca because she played both sides of the fence. DRAMA. I’m not sure why he said he didn’t trust her. That’s pretty hurtful. He could have just said something positive about Liz. Come on Rudy. I like you, but every now and then I think you go too far.

WHOA, Rebecca looks great. She’s running a half marathon. She’s looking very Ali-like. She cried when she was running the tenth mile. She looks incredible. Listen y’all, I love Daniel… but they just don’t look like a match. She looks super trendy and he looks 12.

NEXT WEEK! We’ll have a normal episode on Tuesday and then a Where Are They Now episode on Wednesday. That’ll be awesome.

Rebecca was on Leno and my parents DVRed it because we just can’t get enough Loser. She looks smokin’ hot. She’s lost 122 pounds. She addressed the Daniel rumors… not just rumors. They are true. It sounds like it happened towards the end of everything, not throughout the whole season. But maybe she’s saying that to cover her butt. So there you go. We are detectives. Now if we could only figure out what the heck is going on with Bob and Amanda.

(Tomorrow I’m going to have some details about the Houston PW signing. The location has changed. I know people who know people. We’ll talk tomorrow.)

(Say some prayers for my girl, Lauren. She’s been in the hospital since Sunday. Read her blog for some details.)

November 18, 2009 at 9:44 am 11 comments

Ten on Tuesday (6)

Welcome back to the next installment of Ten on Tuesday. For future reference, the next set of ten questions will be posted by Monday morning each week. You can click on the Ten on Tuesday button on your right to get there.

Here we go!

1. What are some of your family traditions?
I don’t really think we have that many. Well maybe we have a lot, they just aren’t huge things. They are smaller things that matter to us. Also, it depends on where we are that year. If we are in Houston on Christmas Eve we go to church and then go to my grandma’s house for family present time. Christmas morning we do “Santa” then get together with the family to eat and hang out all day. My mom, sister, SIL, and I usually have matching PJ’s. But not that we’re grown, things have changed. We now split our time with my mom’s family, my dad’s family, and Stephen’s family.

Oh also, my mom’s family marches. I’ll let my mom or one of my aunts explain that one.

2. Do you know how to change a flat tire?
No. (Gasp, shock, horror.) Lay off! Even if I did, I never would. I’m too scared to do something like that. I would call Stephen or AAA or something. I’ve only had one flat tire in my life. I was in college. I just called my boyfriend at the time and he took care of it for me.

3. Do you subscribe to any magazines? What are your favorites?
LOTS. Real Simple, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, Redbook, Good Housekeeping. My faves are Family Circle and Better Homes & Gardens.

4. What are your top three favorite office supply items? (If you don’t share the love of office supplies with me or if you are male, you may skip this question.)
The Pilot V5 Rolling Ball Pen – They write so smooth and perfect! They last a long time to. It’s the only pen I use at work.

A box of brand new Crayola crayons – We didn’t get Crayola brand when we were little. My dad thought the other brands were exactly the same. Come on dad! They aren’t even close. But I love the smell of a new box of crayons and how pretty the tips look.

I’m going to assume that a planner is not in the office supply category. It’s more in the “Essentials for Life” category. So my third will have to be Post Its. I have a Post It dispenser in my office and it’s awesome. I love when I get to the end of a pad and get to use a new color!

5. Are you a good public speaker?
Absolutely not. The mere thought of it makes me get dry mouthed, develop a stress headache, and want to hurl.

6. How do you feel about acronyms?
I’m not a fan. I think they are forced and cheesy and they make people “on the outside” feel dumb.

7. What’s the most creative things you’ve ever done? (Bloggers, feel free to include pictures!)
My sister came up with this question… She’s a graphic design major. I think it’s probably the 10 Reasons We Know You’re Meant To Be scrapbook I made for my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary. Or maybe my blog, I think it’s creative. On a much different level than people who repurpose clothing or make cookies so beautiful that you don’t want to eat them, but still creative.

In 7th grade we read The Hatchet and had to do a book report. There were no guidelines. I made a backpack out of construction paper and filled it with the items he had available to him- all made from construction paper. My favorite was the pocket knife. I put a brad on it so you could pull out the “knife.” For a 7th grader, this was huge. My teacher liked it so much that she wouldn’t give it back to me. She wanted to keep it as an example for the following years. I wanted to keep it for myself. I have yet to forgive her.

8. I’d rather jam a pen in my eye than…
-go an hour without Chapstick.
-listen to any Shania Twain CD.
-eat a boiled hot dog.
-watch Glee or High School Musical or any other super cheesy teen show.
-eat any of that weird Fear Factor stuff.

9. What company has the best advertising?
I’ve always loved Target and Sonic. Lately I’ve really loved the Intel commercials. They usually end with “Our _____ isn’t like your _____.”

10. When is your birthday?
You have to know I asked this for a reason. Mine is TODAY! I’m officially a quarter of a century old! Last night Stephen surprised me with Dr. Pepper and Reese’s cookies. YUMMO.

Your turn. Add the button to your blog and link it back here. Put your link here on Mr. Linky and visit around.

November 17, 2009 at 8:30 am 29 comments

Did You Hear That?

I’m not totally sure where this post is going… so be patient with me. We’ll go somewhere and I think I have a point, just not sure if I’ll find the point along the way.

You know the game Telephone? Where there is a line of people and the first person comes up with a message and whispers it to the person next to them. They whisper it to the person next to them. And so on, until you get to the end and the last person announces the message. Somehow the sentence “Look at those beautiful blue skies by the sea” turns into “The cat throws beautiful poop pies on Chelsea.” If you are like me and grew up going to church camps, you probably played that game and then got a message about how gossip is similar. You may tell someone something but then they could pass it on and somehow it ends up being something totally different that could hurt someone. (Let’s not have the discussion about the true reason gossip is wrong- it really has nothing to do with the fact that your message might be misheard and told improperly. But that’s not my point today.)

I think telephone is a funny game. It’s always entertaining to hear how it’ll turn out. But what’s even more fascinating is when multiple people can listen to the exact same thing, but hear something completely different.

I was at a meeting last week at church. Someone asked me how Stephen was doing so I started giving my update. One of the men in the room hadn’t heard the story so I gave a quick recap. “Well Stephen was in an ATV accident and beat up his face pretty good.” Another man in the room said, “OHHHHHH!! An ATV accident!” I looked at him and said, “Yeah, an ATV accident.” And he laughed a bit and said, “I thought he was in an HEB accident!! I wasn’t sure what happened and I was scared to ask. An unruly cart or something like that? I just couldn’t figure it out.” (For those of you who don’t live in Texas, HEB is a grocery store.) Hilarious.

This weekend I went to the Women of Faith conference at the Toyota Center. I have been to my fair share of conferences throughout my life but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this one. I was excited nevertheless. I was going with a big group of women from my church. A friend of my mom’s came in town for the weekend so I was going to get to spend time with her. Another bonus – Lauren and her mom met us there. So after work on Friday, I headed downtown to find the hotel. I wasn’t nervous about my drive into “the city” but soon realized that I was arriving a few minutes after 5:00. Not fun. Not fun at all. I only had to do one U-Turn and cut off one person to get to my location though. I think that’s a win.

We walked to a nearby restaurant to grab a quick dinner before the 7:00 session started. It seemed to be a neat place except for the man at the table next to us that didn’t understand that he wasn’t actually part of our conversation. I almost turned into a 3rd grader and said, “This conversation is between A and B, so C your way out of it.” Yes, I know. We should have been Christ to him and loved him. We tried. But when he kept staring at me (like super creepy stare) and smiled and said, “Cat got your tongue?” all of my friendliness vanished.

We headed to the Toyota Center and this is actually the point of my post. I know the quickest route from Point A to Point B is a straight line, but I like to take you on the scenic route. I make no apologies.

Like the ATV/HEB confusion, I think every woman heard something different this weekend. We were all sitting in the same arena listening to the same speakers but we all heard different things. If we are going to be completely honest, this conference wasn’t my cup of tea. I came with my Bible and a journal for note-taking. I didn’t use either. My cup of tea includes the Bible and large quantities of notes. These speakers were funny and had great stories to tell about some rough lessons they’ve learned. I know they reached many women and I definitely see their passion for the Lord in what they are doing. There just weren’t many things that were said that really left a mark on my heart. But there was one thing.

On Friday night, Steven Curtis Chapman took the stage. I love him. LOVE him. His music is beautiful and his heart for God is just amazing. He told a story about when he and his wife were about to go meet their first adopted child, Shaohannah. His wife Mary Beth struggled with a few fears before they met her. What if she didn’t love her the same as she loved her biological children? What if she just couldn’t love this child enough?? But when she took Shaohannah in her arms, she was overcome with love. She instantly loved this child more than she could ever imagine.

They grew to have a new understanding of Christ’s love. He says He’s our Father. What does that mean? How could love us all the time, no matter what? Could he really love me more than my own dad? More than my own mom? There are so many of us, how does he even have enough love to love us all?? I can understand that He loved Jesus, Jesus was His own son. But me? I am half Kurt, half Alice. How could he love me as I’m His own?

Because I am His own. Just as Shaohannah belongs to the Chapmans. Just as my friend Lyndsey belongs to her parents. Wholly and completely. Without condition or exception or an asterisk. Adoption is a beautiful portrait of unconditional parental love.

As a childless married woman, this hit me. I don’t know if that’s God’s plan for my life. I would love to have a half Stephen, half Chelsea child. But it’s possible that God has other plans. And, my gosh, God’s plans are fabulous. So if He chooses adoption for us, we will gladly accept that calling on our life. Maybe He’ll want me to learn a lesson about what love is really all about. I don’t know. I’m sure there are many women who didn’t hear that message. They heard something else, something that God wanted them to hear. All I know is that SCC’s message was something I was supposed to hear.

On Sunday morning, we watched a NOOMA video called Lump. Can you guess what it was about? Love. Specifically a parent’s love for their child. Hi God, I hear you. So I’m going to chew on these things for a while and see what I’m supposed to learn. If you have any morsels of truth, share away.

For now I’m going to focus on the sentence Rob Bell spoke to his son: “There is nothing you could do to make me love you less.”

November 16, 2009 at 9:45 am 18 comments

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