Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Easy Cheesy Shrimp and Corn Chowder

This is a recipe I adapted from 5 ingredient a slow-cooker cookbook my mom got me.  We have been using our crockpot once or twice a week lately.  I just love being able to make a simple dinner on Sundays in it as well as making my lunches for a week.  Apparently we are dragging out all the kitchen appliances we haven't used in a while becuase we also dug our the bread machine and were madly driving to the store to buy the ingredients for spice bread, which I served alongside the chowder.

1 lb frozen cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 22oz bag of frozen o'brien potatoes
1/2 of a 16 ounce container of sour cream
1 bag of frozen corn (as little or as much as you would like)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or cream of whatever you like)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
5-6 grinds of black pepper

1) Set the shrimp aside to thaw.
2) Add all the other ingredients into crock pot and mix together well.
3) Set crock pot for 6 hour setting and let cook, stirring every hour or so.
4) After the six hours of cooking, add the peeled shrimp to the crockpot, stir well, replace cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes (this is just to warm the shrimp through).
5) Season with more salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with crusty bread of oyster crackers.
I hope you try it out!  It works very will with diced chicken as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

10 Things I Am Thankful For

This is such a great 10 on Tuesday. For most of November I kept on seeing people on Facebook and Twitter talking about all the things they are thankful for. While I know I could do at least one status update a day with something or someone I am thankful for, I just didn't seem to find the time to actually do it. So, I guess this week's 10 on Tuesday is my opportunity. There have been so many awesome things for me to be thankful in the past year. Here is just a small list of them:
1) All the wonderful people who are part of my life - I can't even begin to list all of the people who are dear to me, so I'm not going to try.  Some people I see everyday, some less than once a year.  I am so blessed to have such caring friends and family, thank you all for being there for me.

2) Warm, purring cats - To me a house without a cat isn't a home.  I have had a kitty in my life since I can remember and for 4 years we did without, which was very difficult for me. Whether I'm reading in bed with our Molliwog rubbing her face against the pages of my book or having Winks purr like a madman when I stop by to feed him when Brian's folks are away... these cats just mean the world to me. 

3) The smell of a good campfire - I'll admit, I'm a sucker for certain smells and the scent of wood burning is one of them.  Good thing I married and Eagle Scout and I was a Cadet in Girl Scouts.  Between the two of us, if we need one, a good campfire is an easy undertaking.

4) The taste of freshly baked bread - To quote a co-worker of mine, "I never met a carbohydrate I didn't like," and since I'm home on vacation and have some spare time this week, I've been cooking a lot.  Today I made spice bread and it is just so good hot with a little pat of butter.  I love my bread machine; now I just have to remember how it works.

5) My hobbies - They might sound distinctly unimportant in the scheme of things, but knitting, paper crafting, photography, blogging and computer games really make a big difference in my life.  They de-stress me while forcing me to be creative and laugh at myself.  There is also the added bonus that they are all social in some way.  I play World of Warcraft with several of my friends, so that gives me a chance to spend some time with them during the week when I normally couldn't see them.  Almost all of my paper crafting projects happen when I'm in a class of mostly familiar faces and my knitting introduces me to all sorts of small businesses and other knitters as I look around for some beautiful new yarn I have yet to discover.

6) The exquisitely soft feel of Malabrigo - Ok, forgive me, I'm going to step into my yarn geek persona.  If you told me a year ago that I was going to absolutely drool over certain types of yarns... I would have thought you were crazy.  However, a tactile obsession has befallen me sometime since I started knitting in earnest.  I. Love. Soft. Yarn.  All I do when I go to a fiber store is touch things.  I can honestly say I have picked up a gorgeously dyed skein to put it in my basket, only to put it down when I notice it's just not soft enough for me to knit with.  So sad.... but, at this point I know my weakness.  To me the perfect illustration of what is soft (yarnwise) is how Malabrigo Worsted feels.

7) The generosity of others - It always blows me a away how generous people can be.  Just this week one of my friends' parents gave us a beautiful four poster queen sized bed.  They were moving and didn't need it so they generously said we could have it.  Now, my husband and I have been married for over six years now and for those six years have been sleeping in a full sized bed.  Our old bed was great, don't get me wrong, it was just a little tough to establish peace where covers were concerned....  Another example is how quickly Brian and I found ourselves with new queen sized sheet sets and a comforter after mentioning our new bed's imminent arrival.  I mean really, we didn't even have time to go out any buy any for ourselves!   

8) Music - I don't think I can say how much am am thankful for music and do it any kind of justice.  It has played such a large part in my life for so many years that I don't know how to begin.  I have yet to find a musical genre I don't like at least in some way.  From classically written movie scores to musicals and Metallica, I really enjoy a wide range as both a listener and performer.  Music is just the perfect way to express all kinds of emotions that are hard to convey by words alone.

9) All the beauty that surrounds me - Spring flowers, blazing sunsets and birds calling in the early hours of the morning; the sound of children playing on the playground outside our window.  These are just a few of those tiny things that bring a smile to my face everyday that people often overlook.  Even I forget to take time out for them on a busy day, but when I have a change to slow down and relax, they creep back into view.

10) My wonderful husband -  I couldn't leave him out now could I?  Love you honey!

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    New Music Video from Symphony of Science

    The folks from Symphony of Science just released another music video, this time featuring Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Michio Kaku and Robert Jastrow in "Our Place in the Cosmos".  If you haven't heard of this project before, below is a short description taken from their website
    The Symphony of Science is a musical project by John Boswell designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. Here you can watch music videos, download songs, read lyrics and find links relating to the messages conveyed by the music.

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    New Blog Design Completed

    So, apparently the first time is the charm on blog redesigns for me.  Other then following a few suggestions from followers (thank you all some much for your input!) and making appropriate changes to the blog, I've decided to stick with the grapevine theme.  I had looked at a few different background as inspiration for the design and thought about trying them out, but this one really spoke to me, so I went for it.  Once I had chosen the background, I perused my abundance of photos, found a good candidate and started playing around in Photoshop.

    The image I picked was a great shot I took at Ferjulian's, a local seasonal market in my town, (see above).  The owner is very nice and on several occasions has just let me wander around with my eye glued to my camera.  

    Last night, when I layered the text of the blog title over over the image, it all fell into place.  The font, the colors, everything!  I just love it when a plan comes together.  So all I had to do after that was add all my widgets back.  It's too bad that they all disappear when you change templates.  Oh well, it could be worse, there is only one I can't figure out, my current Ravelry projects, but I'll fix that soon enough.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy the change as much as I do.  Please feel free to make comments or suggestions.  As I said, I'm open to change ;-)

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    No you haven't gone crazy....

    I am finally working on changing around my blog template and design, so for a little bit my little 'ol blog will look a bit of a fright, but don't worry, all the fun stuff will be back soon! My 10 on Tuesday from this week inspired me to actually do something about the somewhat lackluster selection of blog templates that blogger offers.

    So, until I get everything figured out and finally decide on something, I'm going to keep you guessing :-)

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    10 Things I Wish I Knew How to Do

    This list ranges from the altogether easy to downright science fiction. I figured I would go whole hog with it:
    1. Crochet - This is well within the realm of attainable. Especially since my self imposed ban on learning it to keep myself knitting for a year will end on December 31st 2009.

    2. Create my Own Blog Template -I am so sick of the templates available in blogger, I just want to make my own, but don't really know how to begin. I'm sure I could do it, it would just take me awhile. For some reason I've always had trouble designing things for myself, yet have no problem doing so for others.

    3. Dance - Now, I'm not saying I would be all that good at it, but I think if my husband and I took some lessons, dancing could really be fun.

    4. Speak another language fluently -I took about 7 years of Spanish while in school and actually could speak rather well in the most recent years of my study. Now since I don't actually have anyone to practice speaking it with consistently, my mastery of the language has returned to it's infant stages and really I'm only good at translating the gist of text now. So sad...

    5. Finish my Medieval Hooded Scarf - This was my first lace project and so far it has only been successful at being ripped out multiple times. It is currently waiting for me to rip it all out and start again. This wouldn't be so painful if the scarf wasn't knitted lengthwise and happened to be 530 stitches long :-/ I so want to make this scarf to wear at King Richard's fair next year, but I don't know if I have the strength or the skill to figure out the pattern and execute it perfectly. This is especially difficult since I think the pattern is wrong at the end of every row. Sigh... maybe after Christmas I'll begin again.

    6. Role Play - Despite my enjoyment of role playing and the fact that my husband is so good at it I thought it might just rub off on me, I am a terrible role player. Anyone that can create a character and manage to act like that character has a skill that seems beyond my grasp.

    7. Hang Glide - I've had a thing for flying ever since I was a kid. The zip line at camp was always the coolest thing ever and I swear I could have ridden that thing all day. Being able to hang glide would be the closest I could get to flying without being in a plane or helicopter and it would be truly glorious!

    8. Sleep less - There always seems to be so much that I want to do and just not enough time to do it all in. Maybe if I didn't have to sleep?

    9. Teleport - My commute stinks and it would be way easier if I could teleport to see all the people I know in Florida, North Carolina and Texas :-)

    10. Spontaneously break into choreographed dance in the middle of a busy train station - the video says it all...

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Planning For The Win!

    Last year, around the beginning of December, I got the knitting bug. Determined, I bought some nice soft yarn (it's amazing how much your yarn preferences can change in a year) and set out to make scarves for the three women in my immediate family. I thought a month was plenty of time. I mean really, I was just making garter stitch scarves... how long could it take? Three weeks, hours upon hours of knitting, vaguely arthritic hands, and three days of being very ill later just days before Christmas, I found myself knitting the last scarf on the car ride to my in-laws on Christmas morning. I wanted to cry. Wait, I did cry... I was never going to finish in time and I had stayed as long as I could keep my eyes open the night before. Knitting on three hours of sleep with a 20 minute deadline was not exactly what I had signed up for.

    So, this year, I decided I would have a plan. Over the year I really dove into knitting headfirst. I tried to learn all sorts of techniques from intarsia to lace, using the the internet as my guide and practicing to increase my speed and quality. It's truly amazing how much help you can get by using YouTube! Whenever I can't remember how to do a stitch or there s one I haven't heard of... SURPRISE! YouTube has a video for it. So, a few weeks ago I decided I better get my butt in gear and start making all those gifts I had ideas for during the year.

    If you can't tell already, I am currently eyeball deep in my Christmas projects... amazingly I have finished a good chunk of them. There are sooo many things I want to share with you that I have made, but until these little projects find their homes on the 25th, I'll have to be patient. By the way, did I happen to mention....? Patience is not one of my virtues. So, to stem the tide of my eventual glee at posting them all, I have included a few pictures of my current work(s) in progress. Also, if you can't tell I've been playing on my computer a lot lately. Knitting really fills in during the down time of waiting for groups and flying. I love how my hobbies are complimentary despite their vast differences.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    10 on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Movie/Song Remakes

    Ooooh, this is going to be so hard. It might turn into 10 movie/song remakes I can THINK of rather than 10 that are my favorites. Also, I'm going to add TV and literary remakes into my list as well to make my life a little easier:
    1. Behind Blue Eyes - The original was recorded by The Who in their 1971 album Who's Next (video of original). The cover was recorded by Limp Bizkit in their 2003 album Results May Vary (video of cover).

    2. Smooth Criminal - The original was recorded by Michael Jackson in his 1987 album Bad (video of original). The cover was recorded by Alien Ant Farm in their 2001 album ANThology (video of cover).

    3. Battlestar Galactica - The original TV series aired on ABC in 1978 (promo of original). The series remake aired on SciFi (not SyFy) in 2004 (promo of remake).

    4. Somewhere over the Rainbow - The original was recorded by Judy Garland in 1939 for The Wizard of Oz (video of the original). The remake was recorded by Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole in his 1993 album Facing Future (video of the cover).

    5. Sabrina - The original movie was released in 1954 starring Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn (trailer from original). The remake was released in 1995 and stars Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond (trailer from remake).

    6. Pride and Prejudice - Originally written by Jane Austen and published in 1813 (view original free eBook). This book was adapted into the bollywood styled Bride and Prejudice starring Aishwarya Rai in 2004 (trailer from remake).

    7. Holding Out for a Hero - Original song recorded by Bonnie Tyler in 1984 for the Footloose soundtrack (video of the original). The remake was recorded by Frou Frou in 2004 for the Shrek 2 soundtrack (video of the remake).

    8. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - The original cast starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou recorded the musical in 1979, although this is not the first rendition of the tale. The true original was a penny dreadful serial that was called The String of Pearls in and published in 1846-1847 (video of original cast recording). The remake of the musical starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter was directed by Tim Burton in 2007 (video of remake).

    9. V - The original TV series aired on NBC in 1984 (video of original intro). The remake started up just last week on ABC and stars Morena Baccarin (trailer of remake).

    10. Nothing Else Matters - The original was recorded by Metallica in their self titled album in 1991 (video of original). The cover is played by Apocalyptica in their album Inquisition Symphony in 1998. This cover is so good I have to embed the video right in the blog post:

    Saturday, November 7, 2009

    WoW: Who's the Tank?

    Abbott and Costello's Who's on First set for a more geeky crowd:

    I just love this classic act: I can't get enough of it. This rendition is especially funny for me being set in world of Warcraft. There hasn't been much time for gaming lately, so I needed to get my fix in somehow. Anyway, off to paint at a couple friends' house for the day. Hilarity shall ensue.

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    New Weekly Blog Post - 10 on Tuesday

    In an effort to make my blogging more consistant I'm going to start a new weekly post called 10 on Tuesday. The post will include 10 answers to whatever the 10 on Tuesday blog question is every week.

    So, without further ado, here is my first 10 on Tuesday List:

    10 Ways to Waste Time on the Internet
    1. Visit Ravelry - this site has tons of free knitting and crochet patterns as well as ones to buy, great and informative forums and groups, and lets you see other raveler's completed projects. All you have to do is sign up (it's free) and wait a few days to get your login info.

    2. Catch up on your backlog of blog reading using Google Reader - I read over 20 different blogs and would never be able to keep up with them unless I used Google Reader to make sure I don't miss a new post.

    3. Surf YouTube for new video wonders - One of the more recent gems of YouTube has to be 'A Glorious Dawn' by Carl Sagan featuring Stephen Hawking which was made by using segments from the show Cosmos. Everyone I have shared this video with has just loved it. You can see the music video below:

    4. Watch movies and TV shows Instantly on Netflix - I just LOVE the new watch instantly feature on Netflix. While you don't have access to everything the services offers, there is quite a bit of selection from tv shows to older movies and even documentaries. Most recently I've watched: Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre (brings me right back to when I was a kid), My Name is Bruce, A Walk in the Clouds, and The Muppets Take Manhattan.

    5. Download and listen to podcasts through iTunes - I have a few podcasts I listen to regularly and have found new ones to check out by just searching in the iTunes store for a certain subject. You can see ratings for each podcast and how often they are posted, so really, it doesn't hurt to just download something that looks interesting and check it out. The worst case scenario is that you hate it and have to press the delete button. Some good podcasts I listen to are: The Instance, AppSlappy, ExtraLife Radio, Film Sack, The Gearheart, Ready Set Knit, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!

    6. Play Farm Town, Island Paradise or any other of a host of Facebook games - Farm Town and I had to have some parting words. I was wasting WAY to much time planting and harvesting crops.... I haven't gotten into Island Paradise that much yet, but that is probably a good thing.

    7. Facebook Quizzes - I swear I could do these all day! I'm not going to link to any, but you too can find out what kind of muppet you are!

    8. Update your Amazon Wish List - the holidays are coming and family and friends want to know what you want. This is one of the best ways to make shopping easy for them.

    9. Edit and Upload all your digital photos onto Picasa for all your friends to see. Another good option for both online editing and storage of pictures is Flickr.

    10. Get cracking on all those Blog Posts you meant to put up from things you did weeks ago. What makes you think I'm talking about me here?