Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dream On...It'sTime to Jam!

Well, it's the start of a new year soon!  For some, it’s time to make those resolutions and another year to accomplish some dreams, right?  

I found some of those dreams are doable and some are just plain crazy!  Quite often, the crazy ones just stay tucked in the back of your mind hoping that, maybe, they'll come true. Like winning the million dollar lottery, getting a shiny brand new, paid-in-full, red Corvette, or Jon Bon Jovi bringing you up on stage to jam with his band at a concert.  Ummm...it could happen!!

The truth, the last one, would be awesome!!  I've always had dreams of being a musician, a singer or an actress. To my credit, I have given some of these a try. A toe dipping, I call it.  Not exactly accomplished dreams, just a toe dipping and not the full plunge!  

For starters, besides my short 4 years playing the violin in my younger school years, I have no musical knowledge or skill. I secretly would have loved to have played the drums. I actually think this started when I had a crush on a guy that played in the percussion section of our high school band. Back in my school days, which happens to be eons ago, there wasn't a drum line and girls usually didn't play the drums. So, this dream went untapped and to this day, I still have a fascination for the beat of the drums.  My family knows this about me, so it's funny that my son got me a miniature drum set for Christmas this year!  My son got a guitar (full size), so we’ll be jammin’ later!  Haha!


I had a short stint, about 10 years ago, when I sang in a choir and got bored with that, because what I really wanted was to sing in a band!  I don't have a horrible singing voice, but fall short of true talent or training. So, again, the dream was untapped. 

My first acting gig was in my late 40's when I actually got the nerve up to audition for a part in an interactive dinner theater play. I still don't know where I found the guts to walk into that audition with literally no theater training or experience!! I guess it was the pure determination to follow through on a dream, for once!  I got the part and since then, I have participated in several plays and even took an Improv class to learn more. Not sure where this dream is going, but I'm keeping my options open. 

So, what do I do?   Well, I'm not a musician, singer or actor!  For me, every day is just a routine day as a Billing Coordinator in the Accounts Receivable Dept. for a mid-size company.  Exciting stuff, right?  Don't get me wrong, I like my job and I'm pretty good at it too.  I’m pretty kick ass with my attention to details, invoicing, sales reports and spreadsheets.  You haven't lived until you've done a Pivot Table. Ha! 

Now, here I am blogging and, honestly, I didn't dream up that one. I didn't even know what it was up until a few years ago. Different things happened to evolve to this point and I'm keeping my options open on this one too. In the meantime, I'll continue to dream on and stay with my accounting job where I'll fashion-up some kick ass spreadsheets!!  



Sit a bit with your dreams and "a square of chocolate" then listen to a great orchestrated rendition of Aerosmith's "Dream On."  I'll be listening along and playing my drums. 




Put your smile on,
Laurie O

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Edamame and Craisin Salad

Well, I don't know about you, but this Christmas season has done me in for overload of treats and eats. It's time to get back to healthy routines and healthy choices.  How about starting with a salad!

Salad doesn't always have to include lettuce or pasta. Here is a simple combo of edamame, craisins and feta.  

Single Serving

Ingredients:

3/4 cup frozen edamame
1/4 cup craisins
1 to 2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp feta cheese
Salt, pepper and little cayenne pepper

Note:  If you prefer, you can use a different dressing, rather than olive oil. Some suggestions are Italian or a balsamic vinaigrette. 

Preparation:

Cook frozen edamame as directed on package. I made mine in the microwave and steam cooked for about 2 minutes, run under cold water, drain and then put in a bowl with the craisins.  Drizzle with olive oil and stir in feta cheese. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne or use your favorite seasonings. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes, but if you're like me and can't wait, I dished it and gobbled it up right away!!!  Throw in some terra chips and a sliced apple with cinnamon on the side and you've got a healthy lunch.


Friday, December 26, 2014

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Caesar Chicken Veggie Pizza

Caesar Chicken and Veggie Pizza is a great appetizer to bring to a Christmas party. I made mine in a round pizza pan and brought to my office party. 

I love when you can use a can of pillsbury crescent rolls for the crust. This is a twist on the usual veggie pizza, as this one uses Caesar dressing mixed in with the cream cheese. 

Also, cooked chicken is used along with a variety of other veggies for the toppings. For full recipe and directions follow link.  Caeser Chicken Veggie Pizza 




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Timehop With a Christmas Stooge!

Have you heard of the Timehop app

I recently downloaded it to my iPhone and it gathers info from your Facebook posts from when you started and sends notifications of what you posted on that day a year ago, 2 years ago, or as far back as you've been on Facebook. It's really kind of fun to get a Timehop  notification and then see what you've posted years past. 

I received one today that made be giggle.  It hopped me back in time to remember a cute moment that happened this same day 2 years ago, which I had posted on Facebook back then and now Timehop has refreshed the memory.   

On December 23rd 2 years ago, my daughter, then 17 years old, was helping me clean the house to get ready for Christmas Eve guests. She asked if we could put on some Christmas music to get us in the holiday spirit. "Well of course," I said, "why wouldn't I?" She responded, "just making sure you're not a Christmas Stooge!"  While laughing, I had to correct her, "ummm, I think you mean Scrooge!" 

If it weren't for my kids, I think I'd laugh half as much!!!!

Merry Christmas and don't be a Scrooge or a Stooge this year!



Monday, December 22, 2014

There's Something About a Martini and a Tambourine

Yep, here I am still celebrating the Christmas season.  Starting from December 1st and going through New Year’s, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  So, why not celebrate the holiday season with a fancy martini!!! Not to mention, I'm also remembering that 19 years ago, I was welcoming my new baby daughter into the world.  Good reason to have a martini, I thought!  I mean, really, 19 years!!!  Where have the years gone?  I'm not exactly a youngster anymore, fifty- something, if you must know!!  However, if any twenty or thirty-something’s happen to be reading this right now, fifty-something isn't so bad and I'm still young at heart with definitely more years of fun ahead.  Which, brings me back to this martini and how this evening has just begun, not knowing, a tambourine would be the highlight!


After enjoying my martini, my husband and I had a walk through the park to see the beautiful Christmas lights and then on to a Christmas gathering with long-time friends.  I'm getting to the tambourine part...so stick with me!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Candy Bar Bouquet in a Mason Jar

When out grocery shopping with my daughter last week, we happened to see a cute arrangement of a Candy Bar Bouquet in the floral gift shop area.  Great idea, we thought! However, they were $20 for just one.  Not so bad, if you're a non crafty person, like me! But, my creative daughter took one look at it and, of course, said "I can make a bunch of these for 20 bucks and give as gifts."  That's exactly what she did.  

Not to mention, SCORE for us, I already had the mason jars at home, which I had leftover from her grad party this past summer.  If you don't have a stash of mason jars, you can buy a case of 12 jars for under $10 at Target.  In addition, we purchased mini candy bars, candy canes, peppermint candies, shish-kabob sticks, tissue paper and ribbon.  You'll also need a hot glue gun.


She placed the peppermint candies in the bottom of the jar and then cut the shish-kabob sticks down to size, cutting different lengths to create varying heights for the bouquet affect.  Use the hot glue gun to secure the stick onto the candy bar.  Place each candy bar stick in the jar, pushing down among the peppermint candies. Then, use a sheet of Christmas tissue paper to stuff behind to dress up the bouquet and camouflage the sticks.  As seen in below picture.


Hot glue the candy canes to the front of the jar to create a heart shape and tie ribbon around the jar to jazz it up and look festive!!  I suppose the candy cane heart is optional, but I really thought this added a great touch to the whole thing and screams Christmas!!


Supplies needed are pictured and listed below.  Sorry, I didn't get a picture of all the candy, as it was all used for our gift jars, but I'm sure you get the idea.  I'm imagining this idea is all over Pinterest already, but this is our version and hope you can use this as a holiday gift giving idea!  Merry Christmas and have a wonderful New Year!

  • Mason Jars
  • Variety bags of mini candy bars
  • Peppermint candies
  • Candy canes
  • Decorative tissue paper
  • Curling Ribbon
  • Shish-kabob sticks or plastic straws
  • Hot glue gun with glue

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Deck the Walls of Cubicles

Um, we have a problem here.  Yeah.  Apparently, you didn’t put your name on the Christmas party sign-up sheet.  Um, we need to know what you’re bringing.  MmmKay?  Did you see the memo on this?

If you’ve seen the movie “Office Space” you probably can hear Bill, the office boss, saying this right now – funny stuff!   Most likely, if you’ve ever worked in an office, you can relate to some of this office humor.   Christmas time at my office is always a fun time and entails some decorating traditions, pigging out on party food, office amusement and co-worker mingling.  The food is potluck style, with everyone bringing something to share, which per the memo and office protocol, should have been indicated on the party sign-up sheet.  If you didn’t sign-up and you have an “Office Space” boss like Bill, then you don’t eat!  Kidding!  In my office, no one goes hungry on this day.



 Then there’s my work space area, yep..where all importance rolls out each day, wherein at holiday time we fashion-up some cheer to those once bare cubicles!  We pizzazz up the walls and bring out the holiday ornaments that each of us pin up to our own cubicle section.

An office-mate usually creates a handmade ornament to add to our collection each year and as the collection of trinkets grows, it has created an adornment of “deck the walls” look.   So, as you round the corner to our cubicle hallway, you’re slapped in the face with holiday spirit!

It’s fantastic having some great office holiday traditions to go along with your family ones.  If not for some simple office fun once in a while, we could all easily become corporate drones in a soul-killing environment.  

Thankfully, for a moment, at least once a year, we can avoid lost staplers, copy machine jams, mysterious memos and guys named Bob.  Um, yeah. Watch the movie "Office Space" and enjoy “a square of chocolate.”

Put your smile on,
Laurie O

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eggs in Pepper Rings with Southwestern Hash Browns

Fun idea! It’s a pepper ring vessel for your eggs.  A high five and a fist bump for this yummy breakfast!  Served with a side of a hash brown mix of black beans, roasted corn, chopped spinach and a little salsa/hot sauce.




Serves Two

Ingredients:
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced horizontally to form 4 - ¼” thick rings
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen hash browns
  • ½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  •  ½ cup frozen corn
  • ¼ - ½ cup chopped spinach
  • Spoonful of salsa and a shake of hot sauce (Optional)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil and cooking spray

Preparation:

In a skillet add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and heat on stove at medium/high heat.  Add the hash browns and corn, begin to cook until hash browns are lightly browned (stirring occasionally).  Then add in the black beans and season with your favorite spices.  Once, the beans are heated through and hash browns are browned up, add in chopped spinach and stir in until spinach wilts and is heated through. At this point, add in a spoonful of salsa to mix in and/or a shake of some hot sauce.

Meanwhile, in different large skillet, spray with cooking spray and heat up on medium/high heat.  Place pepper rings in skillet lying flat to cook until brown.  Once one side is brown then flip ring to cook other side. 

Carefully, crack an egg in the pepper ring.  You may have to use a spatula or knife to hold pepper in place until the egg sets up and the white of egg adheres to the pepper ring.  Do this with all four eggs in each ring.  Salt and pepper and now cover pan and cook eggs to desired doneness.  Some like ‘em runny and some like hard eggs.

Gently, use your spatula to get under each pepper egg ring and plate along with the Southwestern hash brown mix.

Makes for a great weekend breakfast – give it a try!


Beaverdance (The Play)

If you’ve ever wondered if you can make a holiday musical show about the beaver fur trade during the late 1700’s, then wonder no more!!  You can and someone did!!

Last weekend a group of my gal pals got together to celebrate the holiday, swill some wine and, what the hell, why not Beaver too!!  Sounds like a perfect night of girl power – don’t you think?!?  I mean, the name alone “Beaverdance” sounds way too entertaining too pass up!

 The show was a comical, adult version, history lesson about unionization of beavers in northern Minnesota at a time of some harsh fur trade practices.  We were introduced to a cast of characters and, yes, grownups in beaver costumes performing some clever song and dance numbers, whom also delivered some amusingly naughty beaver jokes, which by the way, were riddled throughout the play.

By the end, my female chums and I were cheering for the beavers and their beaver union!  I mean, c’mon, why not? Who doesn’t like a story of hard-working beavers coming together to command their rights in working class America!!  Silly, maybe, but the show had some light-hearted fun along with an attitude that even in the kingdom of beaver, dam happiness can be built if we all work together.

The show takes place in Minnesota, which was performed at Bedlam Theatre, also located in St. Paul, MN.  I’m a born and raised Minnesotan, so it was terrific to have learned this most interesting time in history!  I mean, who knew there was a “Beaver Union!” Did you know that?   (*wink, wink*).  


Most importantly, after a fun history lesson, why not enjoy "a square of chocolate."

Put your smile on,
Laurie O

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Yogurt Parfait and English Muffin with PB & Apples

Great breakfast choices, make for a great morning start!


  • Your favorite Greek plain yogurt topped with fresh or frozen raspberries, low-fat granola and a drizzle of honey
  • Toasted English muffin with natural peanut butter, sliced apples and a shake of cinnamon
Easy breakfast idea, so don't skip it!! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tortilla Pizza

If you like thin and crispy crust for your pizza, then a tortilla pizza is the way to go!  It also helps for portion size and it's less calories than regular pizza.


Single Serving:

Ingredients
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla, pita or flat bread
  • 2 Tbsp of your fave pizza or marinara sauce
Your choice of toppings.  For mine I used:
  • 1/4 cup sliced cooked chicken
  • 6 black olives sliced
  • Store purchased, in the jar, Roasted Red Peppers chopped
  • Sprinkling of parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese
  • A few spinach leaves for garnish (optional)
Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, place tortilla on a cookie sheet.  Spread pizza sauce on the tortilla, layer on the chicken, olives, roasted red peppers and cheese.  If using spinach leaves, lay those on top.  Put in the oven and bake for 9-10 minutes until cheese is slightly browned.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

I had to giggle when I saw this cartoon and, I must say, I’ve never gotten this response before. Pretty sure my husband knows better!  However, who hasn’t felt this way at one time or another? 



Heck, I’ve learned to not even ask the question in the first place!!  Ya know, that question “does this make me look fat?” question.  Unless, you really want to hear the frank truth or possibly a sugar-coated one, because the hubby really wants to avoid any and all further anguish, then I find it’s best to just not ask anymore.  My bet would be, most women want to hear the sugar-coated version.

Rather than taking a crap shoot risk on what the answer will be, how about turning that self-deprecation into some good positive self-talk!  I know it’s not easy to do, especially when there are days you look in the mirror and wonder what lagoon is this creature from?  We’ve all been there…I’m sure of it!

Honestly, my husband is pretty nice about giving me compliments.  On the other hand, if your significant other doesn’t dole out the nicety’s well, then I’d just make a point of telling your mate that they’re damn lucky to be with someone who is so smokin’ hot!!  I’m sure they’ll agree!!

After that, enjoy “a square of chocolate” and tell yourself too!

Put your smile on,
Laurie O

Monday, December 8, 2014

Grilled Chicken on Ciabatta Roll

I had some leftover grilled chicken in the fridge, which is perfect to make a quick toasted open face sandwich for lunch.  I just split a mini ciabatta roll in half, or you could use French bread or an English muffin.  Lightly spread on some butter or coconut oil on the bread and a little shake of garlic powder.

Place the bread on a baking sheet and put in the toaster oven or regular oven at 400 degrees. Bake until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven and put on a dollop of marinara sauce on each half, place 2-3 chicken slices on sauce and then sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top.  Put back in oven and bake until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Lunch is ready.  Quick, easy and tasty!



Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Shopping Weekend and a Little Harmless Fun

Like Andy Williams sang, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!”  There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and a limo of women plowing through the snow.  Wait…what?  I don’t think Andy sang that part!  Well, even though it’s not mentioned in this classic song, this is the most wonderful time of year for me when my gal pals get together for our annual Christmas shopping weekend! 

It’s a ritual that started around 30 years ago with a small group and has now grown to a tribe of mothers, daughters and close friends that have laughed, danced, cried, rang bells, maybe peed their pants a little (not me) and, of course, shopped ‘til we dropped.  It’s a weekend I look forward to every year, because this is women bonding at its best!  It starts with catch-up chat, a night on the town, two days of power shopping, sharing our finds and finally wrapping up another memory making weekend.  Believe me, when twelve women gather together, memories are made!

Unfortunately, so many stories I cannot share, because even though it’s really harmless fun, we all took an “Oath of Shopping Weekend Silence.”  You know, the usual tribal chant, signing our initials in blood and the true test to our promise is slurping a Jello shot.  If you happen to get chin dribble, then that’s a real sign of commitment.  It really seals the deal!!

When I look back over the years, I’m really very lucky to have a group of ladies I can share these cherished moments.  It’s a great feeling to be one of those women who crammed into a limo and plowed through back country roads in the middle of snowstorm.  These moments are truly priceless!



Do you have an annual memory making event? Feel free to share, unless you have taken the “Oath,” of course!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Egg on a Raft

Come sail away on a raft of asparagus and peppers!  Love this breakfast, it's one of my top faves!


Directions for single serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Egg
  • About 6-8 stalks of asparagus with bottom ends trimmed off
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of a red or yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp of shredded cheddar cheese
Preparation:
  1. Spray a small skillet with cooking spray and additional tsp of olive oil (optional).
  2. Heat skillet on medium heat, then place vegetables in skillet and saute until asparagus and peppers are lightly browned.
  3. Push together the veggies in a row to make the raft.
  4. Gently crack the egg on top of vegetables.  May need to hold egg in place with edge of spatula, so it doesn't slip off.
  5. Once the white of the egg starts to cook and firm up, place a cover on pan to continue cooking.
  6. Cook egg to your desired firmness.  Then sprinkle the cheese on top and remove from heat and re-cover until cheese melts.
Gently slide onto a plate and serve.  I like to have my egg a bit runny, so the goodness oozes over the veggies!  Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

No Plastic Surgery for This Dog!

Anyone who has taken a selfie knows, of course, you want the best angle and look for your selfie shot.  You certainly, don't want the up the nose shot, double chin or the massive head shot.  Even Lucy wanted her best side for her selfie.



Hard to believe, but I guess the selfie craze has actually shown an increase in plastic surgery.  What the what?  I read this article (check it out) and couldn't believe the measures people are taking for a good selfie!!  Nose jobs, eyelid lifts and hair transplants...oh my!

My goodness, forget the surgery!  Just live healthy, have fun, love yourself and put on your best smile or your goofy face.  Yep, that's it!  If nothing else...think good thoughts and have "a square of chocolate."  


By the way, no animals were harmed taking this selfie!!  Lucy actually got a treat after. Ha!
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