New Blog

25 07 2011

Just in case anyone still has this in a feed reader somewhere, I’ve got a new blog. I’ve made my way into the world of self-hosting and it is good!

New blog is :

New RSS is:

Happy Independence Day!

4 07 2010

At work on Thursday we took a little quiz, best scores got a gift card to Target. The questions come from the US Citizenship test. I thought I’d share it with you today, see how well you all do! For the record, you have to score at least 80% to become a citizen. There’s 30 questions so that means you need to get 24 correct. The first 20 I found to be easy, but the last 10 were quite difficult. No consulting Father Google!

  1. What is the title of the National Anthem?
    • Oh, Say Can You See
    • God Bless America
    • America the Beautiful
    • The Star Spangled Banner
  2. Which of the following rights is guaranteed by the first amendment?
    • Right to bear arms
    • Right to vote
    • Freedom of religion
    • All of the above
  3. What is the title of the head of a city government?
    • Mayor
    • Governor
    • Chancellor
    • Chairman of the Board
  4. Who has the ability to declare war?
    • The President
    • The Secretary of Defense
    • The Joint Chiefs
    • The Congress
  5. How many full terms may a Senator serve?
    • 1
    • 6
    • 4
    • No term limits for Senators
  6. How many full terms can a President serve?
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    • 6
  7. How many years is a full term for a Representative?
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    • 6
  8. Which amendment sets the minimum voting age to 18?
    • 1st
    • 18th
    • 19th
    • 26th
  9. Who becomes President if both the President and Vice President die?
    • The Speaker of the House
    • The Secretary of Defense
    • The Chief Justice
    • The First Lady
  10. On July 4th, 1776 we declared independence from whom?
    • Germany
    • Great Britain
    • Spain
    • Rome
  11. How amny branches of government do we have?
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • zero
  12. Which is part of the Judicial branch at the federal level?
    • The Supreme Court
    • The Congress
    • The Senate
    • The Presidential Cabinet
  13. Who elects the President of the United States?
    • The House of Representatives
    • The Electoral College
    • The Senate
    • The State Governors
  14. How many states are there?
    • 10
    • 13
    • 50
    • 100
  15. How many stripes are there on the American flag?
    • 10
    • 13
    • 50
    • 100
  16. Who was the President of the United States during the civil war?
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • George Washington
    • Ulysses S Grant
    • Lyndon B Johnson
  17. Who is the current President of the United States?
    • George Bush
    • Barak Obama
    • Hillary Clinton
    • Joe Biden
  18.  Who is the current Vice President of the United States?
    • George Bush
    • Barak Obama
    • Dick Cheney
    • Joe Biden
  19. Why did the Pilgrims come to America?
    • to establish a trade route with India
    • to set up fur trade with the natives
    • to establish a new nation
    • to fin religious freedom
  20. How many total Senators are there?
    • 10
    • 13
    • 50
    • 100
  21. The constitution has how may amendments?
    • 23
    • 27
    • 31
    • 33
  22. How many amendments have been proposed officially by Congress but never ratified?
    • none
    • 1
    • 6
    • 12
  23. Which of these amendments is a ratified and current amendment?
    • Declaring it illegal to desecrate the American Flag
    • Equality of rights reguardless of gender
    • Restricting marriage in all States to be between a man and a woman
    • Prohibiting the importing of liquor into States where it is illegal
  24. In what year was the last amendment ratified?
    • 1868
    • 1920
    • 1961
    • 1992
  25. What is the official language of the United States?
    • none
    • Latin
    • English
    • Esperanto
  26. Who was the first Vice President of the United States?
    • George Washington
    • John Adams
    • Thomas Jefferson
    • Andrew Jackson
  27. Who said “Give me liberty or give me death”?
    • Nathan Hale
    • Patrick Henry
    • John Wilkes Booth
    • Thomas Paine
  28. How many Presidents were assassinated while in office?
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    • 6
  29. Which of these presidents was born in Texas?
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower
    • Richard Nixon
    • Ronald Reagan
    • George W Bush
  30. How many Presidents have been impeached?
    • none
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4

For the record I got 24 out of 30. I’ll come back and post the answers in a day or two!

Good Friday is Moving

28 05 2010

Just a quick note to let you know that I’m going to move my Good Friday posts to Mondays. As Steve found out, there is more readership on weekdays and it’s just plain easier for me to get a post up on Monday than Friday.

See you all next week!

Good Friday 5/21/10

22 05 2010

Every Friday I write a post about the good things from the previous week in an effort to focus on the positive things in my life. You can see all my Good Friday posts here.

So… Yeah… It’s technically Good Saturday, almost Sunday but who’s counting?

Working From Home

With The Hubby’s surgery last week he’s still not up to working full days so we’ve both been working half of the day at the office and the other half at home. I’ve discovered from this that I would have a hard time working from home full time, there’s so many more distractions at home than there are at the office. I’m really thankful that I have a supervisor that will allow me to work from home, he even let me use his laptop at home.

Crafty Thursday

Every Thursday me and two of my girlfriends get together for coffee, but lately we’ve been meeting at one of our houses and having some craft time. One of them just got married so she’s been out for a couple of weeks. This week was her second week back for our Thursday evening. We got to see a bunch of her wedding and honeymoon photos. I got a few blocks done on the two quilts I’m currently working on. I’ve also got a tough decision I need to make here real soon and I got to talk it out with them. It was good to have all three of us back together!

I’m sure there’s other stuff, but since it’s kind of late at night and I have to get up early in the morning I’m going to cut it short here. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Good Friday – 5/14/10

14 05 2010

Every Friday I write a post about the good things from the previous week in an effort to focus on the positive things in my life. You can see all my Good Friday posts here.


The Hubby found out on Monday that he needed to have surgery on Tuesday. It’s been a whirlwind couple of days! The surgery went smoothly, no complications. He is recovering well, albeit slower than he would like. I think I must be insane because I’m letting him go to a men’s retreat today and tomorrow. He promises he won’t lift anything and I’ve called his buddies that are going to be there and asked them to keep an eye on him. Hopefully they’ll keep him in line 🙂


We have a little birdie that has made a nest in a hanging basket on our back porch. The eggs have hatched in the last few days and the baby birdies have brought many squee’s out of me. They are tiny and adorable and amazing. I’ll put up some pictures this weekend, I don’t have my camera with me today. Before I get any angry emails/comments we have been very careful not to disturb the mommy bird and her babies. We haven’t touched any of them and we only go near the nest when she leaves to get food (or whatever a mommy bird does). She’s actually gotten acclimated to our presence over the past few weeks. At first she would fly off any time we opened the back door. Gradually she started staying longer and would only fly away if we got too close. Now she’ll let me get within a 5 or 6 feet of the basket before flying away. Of course now that the babies have hatched we’re very careful to not get so close that she flies away.


Two of my good friends, Katie and her hubby, have birthdays this week. They’re having a party this weekend and if the weather permits we’ll all bring our puppy dogs and go hang out at the lake. We all turn 27 this year… thankfully I’ll be the last to get a year older 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

Book Review: Lily Bard Mysteries

10 05 2010

This is actually a review of 3 books: Shakespeare’s Landlord, Shakespeare’s Champion, and Shakespeare’s Christmas.

Back Cover, Shakespeare’s Landlord: Lily Bard is a loner. Other than the day-to-day workings of her cleaning and errand-running service, she pays little attention to the town around her. But when her landlord is murdered, Lily is singled out as the prime suspect, and proving her innocence will depend on finding the real killer in quiet, secretive Shakespeare.

Back Cover, Shakespeare’s Champion: There’s something rotten in Shakespeare… Lily Bard was running from shattering memories when she moved to Shakespeare, Arkansas.  Now cleaning houses pays her bills.  Working out helps her heal.  Still protecting her scars, she hides a hard body and impressive skill at martial arts under baggy sweats.  And nobody knows how strong she is until racial violence has her looking behind closed doors for a killer–doors to which a housecleaner might have the key.

Back Cover, Shakespeare’s Christmas: Even in a sleepy Arkansas town, the holidays can be murder. Lily Bard is going home for the holidays. More comfortable in baggy sweats than bridesmaid’s frills, Lily isn’t thrilled about attending her estranged sister’s wedding. She has moved to Shakespeare, Arkansas, to start a new life, cleaning houses for a living, trying to forget the violence that once nearly destroyed her. Now she’s heading back to home and hearth–just in time for murder.

I’m a big fan of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books. Big Fan. I had been meaning to read some of her stuff for a while now and while looking for something to entertain myself while waiting in line at the courthouse I bought the first one for my iPhone-Kindle.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed. I bought the next two books hoping the first one was a fluke, but after the same problems with all three books, I can’t make myself buy the fourth (there’s 5 so far in the series if memory serves).

The plot is very well done. Harris is excellent at this aspect of writing. Plotting, pacing, setting… she’s got it down. In this series it’s the characters that fall short. Lily is just… flat. She’s one dimensional. It’s not that I don’t like Lily, I think I do, she just doesn’t jump off the page at me the way Sookie does. I don’t feel like she grows or changes as a person.

All three of the books felt really short. Maybe I just read them fast, but every time I got to the last page and thought “Really? That’s it?” I think I wanted there to be more, that maybe the books would have been better if there was more to them.


Unfortunately, the best I can give these books is a big, fat, “Meh.” I’ll give them 2 *’s. If you decide to read them, don’t buy, get them from the library.

Good Friday 5/7/10

7 05 2010

Every Friday I write a post about the good things from the previous week in an effort to focus on the positive things in my life. You can see all my Good Friday posts here.

Oh. My. Gooses! I can’t believe it’s already May! Where did the spring go? Here in Texas we are officially into summer. The high yesterday was 93, I think.

Field Trip

My department at work is mostly field staff, it’s just me and my department head in the home office. Every now and then we all get together, usually everyone comes into town and we have meetings during the working hours and go out to dinner and sometimes go do something together after work. This time my boss decided that we didn’t need all the meetings, just the get-together! We all met up in Salado; the guys went golfing and the girls went shopping then we all met up for dinner. I had a good time, got a free meal, and got to get paid to go shopping 🙂

Date Night

Date Night this week was kind of an epic adventure. We went out to Cabella’s to get The Hubby some gear for his mens retreat next week. Cabella’s is in Buda, if you’re not familiar with Central Texas, Pflugerville, where I live, is on the far north side of Austin, and Buda is on the far south side. It was about an hour drive down there. We looked around for quite a while, if you’ve never been to a Cabella’s it’s kind of cool just how much stuff they have. We then headed back home and watched The Proposal. I had already seen it and The Hubby was skeptical about watching a chick flick but by the end he admitted that it’s a very funny movie.


I’ve been baking something every Wednesday for Date Night and I’ve now decided to make it a regular thing. This week was Chocolate pomegranate Cake. I don’t have any pictures, but here’s the recipe (from again). The cake is good, but it needs a little… something. It’s a bit dry by itself. The recipe calls for dusting with powdered sugar or cocoa powder, but that just doesn’t cut it. I served it with ice cream last night and that worked well. I think tonight I’ll try a simple glaze and see if I like that better. Maybe I just need to serve it with coffee?

Anywhoo, she’s absolutely correct, once you bake the cake you can’t really taste the pomegranate juice, it’s just got a hint of fruityness. If you didn’t know what was in it, I don’t think you could tell it was pomegranate juice.

Quilting Night

My girlfriend and I had another quilting night. Alas, the project I started last week (week before? not sure) has come to a halt. I got all the blocks finished and was starting to put it all together and realized that I’m missing block 7. DOH! I’m lucky I realized this right now, because Joann’s has just rolled over their Block of the Month projects. I actually can’t get block 7 anymore, but I’ve ordered a duplicate of one of the other blocks to fill the hole.

Since that project is at a standstill, I started the other BOM project that I bought at the same time. It’s up on the Crafts in Progress page now too. These BOM projects go together so very quickly I’m hoping to just knock these two out real soon and then we’ll have some homemade quilts around the house!

Book Review: Changes

4 05 2010

Spoiler Warning: This is book 12 (yes, I said book 12) in a series. It’s a series I HIGHLY recommend for anyone who enjoys urban fantasy and/or paranormal mystery. If you haven’t read the books, go, right now, and buy Storm Front. Read all the way through the series until you get to this book, you won’t be disappointed. There’s no slumpy middle books (at least not yet), they’re all good. All 5*’s IMHO. Anywhoo, I’ll do my best, not to spoil anything for readers new to the series but I can’t make any promises… You know what, please don’t read at all if spoilers bother you, just the synopsis on the back of this book will spoil a few things. I’m inserting a “More” link for your protection. Read on at your own risk!

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Friday 4/30/10

30 04 2010

Every Friday I write a post about the good things from the previous week in an effort to focus on the positive things in my life. You can see all my Good Friday posts here.


Can I say that it being Friday is one of the good things in my Good Friday post? Well, I’m saying that it is. TGIF people!

S’mores Cake

The Hubby and I didn’t get to have date night this week, but I made my self a cake anyway. This cake is a HUGE mess, the marshmallow filling kept squishing out the sides, but it’s very tasty. I got the recipe from, my new favorite blog.

New Quilt Project

I started a new project after I finished the purple quilt last week (don’t tell The Hubby, he knows how many unfinished projects I have!). It’s a block of the month from Joann’s (pictures in the Crafts in Progress page at the bottom). There’s 12 different blocks, so you could do one each month and have a finished quilt at the end of the year with a minimal amount of work each month. I decided to do them all at once, I’ve finished 11 out of the 12 blocks in just a week! They’re so fast because the fabric is all cut already. I just pull the pieces out of the bag and sew. They seem a little on the expensive side, about $125 if you buy all 12 blocks and the setting kit, but when you compare that to the cost of buying all the fabric for a quilt you design it’s about par for the course.

Hope all you guys have a great weekend!

Cooking 101: Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan

28 04 2010

Big post incoming. Go grab yourself some coffee and settle in.

Since this photo blogging cooking thing seems to be going around the interwebs I thought I might share a few of my favorite recipes with you. We will begin with Chicken (or Eggplant) Parmesan. I’m making this for a meeting the next night as this dish works really well for meals you need to prepare ahead of time. You cook it halfway and then refrigerate. When you’re ready to eat just heat in the oven.

It’s a very tasty recipe and easy to make, though it tends to be a mess and tends to use quite a few dishes in the process. Just something to keep in mind 🙂

First off, I’d like to share 2 things I’ve found to be necessary in any cooking endeavor.

An Apron

And a lovely beverage. My beverage happened to be juice, but anything you enjoy will do. Cooking is hard work!


  • Chicken Breasts (Cutlets or Butterflys, we’ll discuss this later) or Eggplant or both as desired. I used one smallish eggplant which made 4 slices and 5 chicken breasts wich made 3 large and 4 small servings.
  • Spaghetti sauce. I used Prego Three Cheese, but anything you like will be fine.
  • Bread Crumbs. I used Progresso Italian Seasoned. Again, any kind you like will work, though if you use Plain you’ll want to season it yourself or else your breading will be very bland (basil, parsley, and some grated parmesan cheese should work well). For this batch I used about 1 1/2 cups
  • Shredded Cheese, not pictured. I like mozzarella, but any white Italian cheese, works great (you can use a blend too).
  • Spaghetti. Any strand-like pasta will work
  • Eggs. For this batch I needed 3 eggs
  • Flour. For this batch I needed about a cup
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Oil (not pictured)

Chicken Prep

First we will prep the dredging mixes

Get yourself 3 bowls, wide and flat works better than tall and skinny. In the first bowl put your flour. No matter how big of a batch you’re making you’ll want at least 3/4 of a cup of flour, just so there’s enough to dredge your chicken/eggplant easily. In the second bowl, put your eggs and give them a good beating. In the last bowl put your bread crumbs. Same as the flour, you’ll want plenty in the bowl to work with.

Next, you want to season each bowl with some salt and pepper, I don’t really measure but if I had to guess I’d say it’s about 2 tsp of each in the eggs and breadcrumbs and maybe 3 in the flour. The trick to making this dish taste really good is to season at each step. You don’t have to overload, it’ll just taste like salt, but if you don’t season everything you can wind up with really good chicken, but bland breading (or the other way around!). Give each bowl a good mix to incorporate the salt and pepper.

At this point, if you have any jewelry on, you might want to take it off. I usually don’t take my bracelets off, but the rings can get really nasty.

Get out a large cutting board and your chicken. Trim off the fat and the little flappy thing that I’m holding out in the picture, they should look like this:

At this point you have 2 options for prepping your chicken breasts. Butterflys or Cutlets. A whole chicken breast is too thick for this dish; the breadcrumbs will burn before the chicken gets cooked all the way through. For both options, place the chicken breast flat on your cutting board. Put your left (or non cutting hand) on top and be sure to keep your fingers up and on top of the chicken breast. I find that tucking my thumb and pinky under the other three fingers prevents a lot of cuts. With your knife parallel to the board slice through the chicken breast about half way up the side, using long strokes. After each stroke you may need to open up the chicken to properly reposition the knife. To make a butterfly, leave a little bit still attached on the side and open it up so that it lays flat. For cutlets, just cut all the way through. Since this takes 2 hands I was unable to take photos of the process, but here’s the finished product:

Next, though I didn’t get a picture, season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Eggplant Prep

This is fairly simple. Trim off the stem and the end and cut into slices about 1 1/2 inches thick. I like to cut on a bias (about 45 degrees) as it will make the slices a little closer to “chicken-breast” size. If you cut on a bias, you’ll have 2 little wedges from the ends leftover, you can use them if you like, but I just threw them out as the breading doesn’t stick very well to the skin of the eggplant.


The trick to easy dredging is to switch hands. You’ll need a “wet” hand and a “dry” hand. If you use the same hand for each stage you wind up breading your fingers over and over and it’s very difficult to work.

Grab your first piece of chicken (or eggplant, it works the same for both) and place it in the flour bowl. Notice I’m using my left hand.

Turn it over, flop it around, just make sure all surfaces get covered in flour.

Next, transfer to the egg bowl. Again, make sure all surfaces are covered. Notice I’m using my right hand.

Lastly, transfer to the breadcrumb bowl. Again, make extra-super-double-sure that all surfaces are covered. Notice I’m back to my left hand.

Eggplant follows the same procedure, though covering ALL sides doesn’t work quite as well since none of it sticks very well to the skin. Just make sure the rest is covered.

Frying and Boiling

Now you’ll want to get a large skillet (the biggest you’ve got) and put enough oil to cover the bottom in about 1/4-1/2 inch of oil. I use vegetable oil. Light olive oil will give a better flavor but it’s kind of expensive. Heat the oil over med-high heat, you’ll know it’s ready when a little pinch of breading sizzles and pops when tossed into the oil. Also, put a large pot of water on to boil. Both of these can be done while you are prepping the chicken and/or eggplant but I always forget.

Place a couple pieces of chicken or eggplant in your skillet once the oil is hot (don’t crowd the pan!). 

When the breading is Golden Brown & Delicious flip the chicken/eggplant over and fry the other side. This will take a minute or three per side.

When the second side is done, remove the chicken/eggplant to some paper towels to drain off the extra grease. Work in batches until all your chicken and/or eggplant is cooked.

When your water comes to a boil, add some salt. If you don’t already know to do this, it will make your pasta taste a lot better!

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and,

drain and set aside when it’s done. You could toss in with a little olive oil to prevent sticking if you so desired.

Put It All Together

If you are going to eat this right away, you’ll want to heat the spaghetti sauce, if you’re cooking ahead of time you can spoon straight from the jar, as I have done. Put some sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, just enough to cover the bottom in a thin layer, and place your chicken/eggplant in the dish. If you need to, you can overlap the pieces a little but you want most of the surface to be exposed for cheese-iffication.

Spoon a little sauce on top of each piece. If you like sauce a lot, go ahead and slather it all over. Me, I like just a little bit.

Top each piece with some cheese. I can’t believe I’m actually going to say this, but you CAN put too much cheese on this dish. If you put too much cheese it doesn’t melt evenly and can get kind of greasy when the fats come out of the cheese. You want a nice, even layer, covering the entire exposed surface of each piece.

The chicken works the same way.

If you’re cooking ahead of time, stop here, cover the baking dish and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat! You’d probably be good preping up to 3 days in advance.


Just for you, Internet, I set aside 2 servings of the chicken so that I could show you how to finish the recipe. Just for you, I made this sacrifice… and so that I could have dinner the night I made this.

Preheat your oven to 350. You can do this whenever, but I never think about it until everything’s ready to go into the oven.

Bake for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is good and melted. If you cooked ahead of time, take the dish out of the fridge about 30 mins before baking and let it come to room temperature, then bake for 15-20 minutes.

You can stop here, and serve just like this, but if you want that awesome, restaurant-like finish, turn on the broiler and move the rack up to the top.

You’ll need to watch closely, it will only take a few minutes to give the cheese a nice browning. Unfortunately Golden Brown & Delicious is remarkably close to Burned and Nasty.

I like to serve this over a bed of pasta and a little sauce. Salad and garlic bread would be a nice addition but as you might have noticed from the shot of my oven on preheat, it was 11:00 at night… salad and garlic bread just weren’t going to happen.