Tuesday, December 29, 2009


After we FINALLY arrived home from Christmas, we were unpacking things, and Andy walked into the kitchen.  He shouted back to me, asking if I had moved one of the mousetraps (we set two glue traps before we left).

Obviously, anyone with half a brain knows that I don’t go near anything that is remotely related to mice with a ten foot pole.

But there was a trap missing.  Like gone.

Andy grabbed the flashlight, and started peering under the stove and under counters.  But there was no mouse.  No trap.

It’s vanished into thin air.

So somewhere around here is a mouse with a glue trap attached to it, just toodling around.

The next time my husband wants a glue trap, I will remind him of this.

We are a kill trap only kind of family, thankyouverymuch.

And our next house WILL NOT have a woods right behind it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The weekend in which we visited three establishments in one strip mall, among other things

Here is last weekend, in brief notation form.

-Friday—last day of classes.  Played Apples to Apples with my students.  They don’t know any of the cards—“Who’s Richard Nixon?” “Who’s Cher?” It was wild.

-Friday—Dinner at Tapatio’s.  Esther Bible study.  Perfect time with sweet girls.

-Friday—Andy gone to IU for a few hours…falling asleep on the sofa watching a movie.  Perfect :)

-Saturday—to Indy.  Sushi at Tomo on Keystone.  Possibly the best sushi I’ve ever eaten.  Ginger dressing less mayonaise-y than in S. Indiana and N. Kentucky—I like it.  Clear broth soup fabulous…spicy tuna roll not too spicy, but super tasty.  All in all—a perfect lunch. 

-Saturday-Andy’s hair cut three buildings down from Tomo.  (It’s about time—he had little curls on the back of his neck) Stylist flirted with him incessantly.  Andy bought his first ever hair product.  I got tickled.

-Saturday—Target.  My straightener broke, and I needed a new one.  Andy found out how much a Chi costs, and nearly swallowed his tongue.

-Saturday—chocolate carmels with sea salt.  YES!

-Saturday—Trader Joe’s for brown rice penne pasta (Mom, I’ll bring it with me) and brown rice crackers.  Also, some Thai red curry sauce, quinoa, and salt and pepper potato chips.  Drooling in Trader Joes.  Almost excited that wheat makes me sick so I have an excuse to go back often—like every time we’re in Indy!

-Saturday—at Penn Station for dinner.  It was so worth the stomach ache to eat that bread.  But nothing else has been since.

-Sunday-left Indy at six to go to a wedding in Detroit.

-Sunday—passed my mom and dad’s at 7 am.  Felt weird not to see them.

-Sunday—arrived at the synagogue an hour early.

-Sunday-restrooms in Jewish synagogue (temple?) do not have toilet paper.  Only a basket of napkins.  Someone says they look like they came from the Dairy Queen.  (It was not Andy who said this)(Or his dad) I dropped the basket trying to grab a napkin and spill them all over the floor.

-Sunday. Andy’s cousin D. (the groom) explains some of the traditions and things of the Jewish wedding.  He reads us part of his wife’s ketuba (marriage contract).  It’s so completely different from anything I’ve ever experienced.

-Sunday- Through the wedding—hearing all the Hebrew, seeing the tradition.  Very unique experience.

-Sunday—Finish lunch, sneak out…on the road again.

-Sunday—Arrive in Indy, back to the same strip mall with Tomo and hair place….this time for Qdoba.  I have Qdoba for the first time since the day after Christmas last year.  Thank Andy 36 times because he doesn’t like Qdoba, so it’s a big sacrifice on his part

-Sunday-finally arrive home at 10:30 pm.  Worn out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Scrooge isn’t always so Scrooge-y

I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t misrepresenting my sweet husband.  As much as he hates Christmas, he’s really quite a sweetheart.  I am an extremely blessed woman, and I wouldn’t trade my husband for anything (just his attitude about Christmas).  Here are a few of my favorite things he’s done the past few weeks

--Waited until we got to Gas City on the way back from my parents at Thanksgiving so we could get a peppermint mocha at Starbucks for the drive

--Given up most bread/wheat products with me (he still has some) since we figured out I’m a bit wheat intolerant and wheat makes me sick to my stomach

--Made sure to surprise me with a salad when he picked up Subway as a surprise last Saturday

--Driven my car all week to fix the little bugs it’s been having

--Taken over the checkbook/budget for a month to give me a break

--Came home the other night and took me on a date with Su….Su-shi that is :)

--Doubled checked to make sure I recorded NCIS Tuesday night….then let me sleep on the sofa from 6:30 to 11…then brought me a glass of water so I wouldn’t be dehydrated and took  me to bed

There are about 500 more….I just can’t think of them right now.  He’s just a sweet thing :)  Even if he’s a grump.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Grinch/Scrooge (AKA My husband) and his gift giving funniness

Andy is a self-proclaimed Christmas hater.  He is basically the opposite of me.  He hates Christmas.  Hates buying presents.  Hates getting presents.  Hates singing Christmas carols.  Won’t look at a cookie or a treat.  Mocks the beautiful “It’s a Wonderful Life” and refuses to watch “Elf” more than once a season.  All of it.  He’s a big ol’ stick in the mud.  And I do believe he’s a bit proud of it which aggravates me to no end.  You had better believe if he acts like this when we have kids I am shipping him away for the month of December.

We had a bit of a fiasco last Valentine’s Day that has turned out to be my FAVORITE story to share with people.  I can tell a dramatic story.  Boy can I.  I am the queen of exaggeration….and when I get a story down right, it’s darn entertaining. This particular story is a real hit when we have guests over for dinner.  I whip out my five pound weights and the Walk Away Your Hips and Thighs tapes as visual aids.  It’s tres klassy, people.  With all that said, I think Mr. Scrooge is hoping for Christmas 2009 to redeem Valentine’s 2009. 

But he’s not very good at it.

First, on Tuesday night he yelled at me to leave his office and not come near.  Then he shouted for me to come back so I could give him my Amazon account username and password.  Then sent me off again.  Then called me back for my email address password.  So I had an idea at that point.  (Funny sidenote—he didn’t pay attention to my Amazon shopping cart and ended up buying two of his own Christmas presents as well).

Then today, I come home, and there it is.  My Christmas present.  Sitting on the middle of the table.  In it’s box and all.  He just opened the package and sat it on the table and left it.  No surprise.  No waiting until Christmas.  No shaking the box to figure out what’s inside. 

Christmas presents are all about the anticipation.  All about shaking the box and waiting until Christmas Day.  And now that’s ruined.

Because I can clearly read the box that says, “amazon.com kindle” and figure out what is inside.

*Deep sigh.*  I guess I should just be glad it’s not an 8 lb. set of hand weights.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I’m stuck right now.  For the past two weeks, I have sat in our living room trying for the life of me to figure out where to put our Christmas tree.  Every night I try to figure it out.  And I can’t.  I look and I look and I try to rearrange things in my head.  And I can’t figure it out.  I feel like our new furniture is just SO much bigger.  Enough that I can’t find a place for a Christmas tree.  And it makes me sad.  And I don’t really even want to get it out of the closet.  We used my office for storage during all of the construction and I still have leftover boxes of wood and things that are in my way so I can’t even easily get to the Christmas decorations.  I tripped over a box of hardwood trying to find my wrapping paper.

I’m thinking about putting the tree up in the kitchen.  The kitchen has a lot of open space this year.  And then maybe I can find a smaller, thinner tree for the living room.  I just don’t know.

I’m married to a self-admitted Scrooge, and he is no help at all in this.  I need a girl with a good eye to come into my house and tell me what to do.  I have never been so stuck on a decorating problem.  And it’s making me crazy.  And more than a little sad.  It’s 15 days before Christmas, and our house has less than a dozen decorations.  And I can’t even make any Christmas cookies or most treats because I think I am wheat intolerant and I’m trying an elimination diet to see.

And I am tired.  I’m not busy and overwhelmed.  I’m just flat out tired.  Like fall asleep on the couch for an hour while Andy and Bobby played the Wii tired.  And Andy and Bobby are not quiet Wii players.  But I slept right through it. 

Because I’m tired and stuck.  And in serious need of an attitude adjustment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

More Changes

Over the last several months, I have been thinking seriously about what we eat.  I read the book Fast Food Nation this summer, which really started to send my mind spinning.  I was thinking seriously about making the switch to organic products, but Andy wasn’t with me.  After we watched Food, Inc., a few weeks ago, he changed his mind.  My meat-loving husband said to his boss, “I can understand now why your daughter is a vegetarian.”  And asked me to change the way we eat.

Since I’ve been given the green light, I’ve started to implement some small changes.  Small is about all you can do in our little town, when Kroger’s organic section is smaller than my very tiny bathroom.  For now, we are buying organic fruits and vegetables when they are available.  That means I can usually get carrots, celery, and apples, but not a whole lot more than that.  We’ve switched to organic milk.  This week I did buy some organic frozen vegetables, and our meats have switched over to what’s available in the organic/all-natural section.  We’ve been eating cage-free eggs for the past 6 months or so, because they have less saturated fat. 

In the coming weeks and months, I’m hoping we can do some stock up trips to Whole Foods or Trader Joes.  If I can do a “stock up” shop, then I can definitely fill in with what’s available here in town.

With our very limited selection (especially in the meats), we’re  changing the way we eat some more.  Andy grew up in a very much meat and something else type of family.  Me, not quite so much.  Right now, we’re doing a whole lot of vegetables with a tiny bit of meat and some whole grains….or something egg based that contains no meat.  This week we have had a psuedo-chicken cacciatore, mushroom and broccoli stir fry, and tonight we’re doing a chicken pot pie fakeout.  These have all been fairly low calorie meals, and all have been made with probably 50-60 percent organic ingredients.  Here’s what we did:

Pseudo Chicken Cacciatore:

1 c. cooked chicken meat

Sliced mushroom

Sliced Green pepper




1 jar Newman’s Own Sockarooni Pasta Sauce (seriously….my new favorite pasta sauce)

Whole Grain Pasta

I cooked the chicken, the vegetables and the sauce until all were ready, then mixed them with the cooked pasta.  It was so good.  And so easy.

Mushroom and Broccoli Stir Fry

Sliced Mushrooms (about a pound)

Green Pepper (1/2)

1 bag frozen broccoli (I used Cascadian Farms)

1 rough chopped onion

Kikkoman Stir Fry Sauce (definitely not organic)

Soy Sauce

1 c. cooked chicken

Jasmine Rice

I cooked all the vegetables together and coated them with the sauces.  Then we served them over the rice.  Andy ate my leftovers.  Before this morning.  We had this for dinner last night.

Chicken Pot Pie

Organic Chicken Thighs, chopped



Organic Chicken Broth

Mixed Vegetables (I used Cascadian Farms frozen mixed vegetables)


1 sheet puff pastry

Cook the chicken thighs and onion.  Coat with 1-2 T flour.  Then add 1-2 c. chicken broth and stir until thickened.  Once the sauce thickens some, add the mixed vegetables and season to taste with salt and pepper.  I also tossed some bay leaf in for a little flavor.  Once that is all cooked together, transfer the filling to a baking dish, cover with the puff pastry and bake at 350 until golden brown (20-30 minutes?)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Boosting Local Economy

I have been thinking a lot lately.  About a lot of different things.  About the way that we eat.  The way that we live.  And the way that we shop.  And I’m thinking about making some changes.  I haven’t fleshed it all out yet, but I know that I want to change things up a bit, and try some new things.

Today I want to talk about the way we shop.  I am a diehard fan of online shopping.  Love.it.  Just today I ordered two sweaters for fifty percent off from gap.com.  But I’d like to get better at shopping locally, too.  The small town I live in has NOTHING in the way of clothing, and very few grocery options.  But there are a lot of little specialty shops, places that are great little businesses that I would like to do a better job of supporting.  I was reading an article yesterday (in Country Living, I think) that recommended that every person try to spend 50 dollars a month in locally owned businesses.  I got to thinking about it, and I realized that with a little effort, I could do that easily.  Here are a few of the ideas I came up with.

Instead of always ordering new books from Amazon, I can check out the Village Lights bookstore downtown.


Instead of ordering gifts, I can search out treasures at shops like Whimsy, The Attic, Something Simple or so many of the other cute little places downtown.


Instead of satisfying chocolate cravings with subpar chocolate from the grocery, I can swing by Cocoa Safari and indulge in the perfection that is a chocolate salted carmel.


Instead of grabbing a bottle of whatever wine looks good at the grocery store, I can send my husband out to grab a bottle (or case) from the winery that’s just outside of town….and ten minutes away.

Do more of our eating out at places like The Downtowner, Cafe Dofi, Franco’s, Chez Danielle, the Pink Place, and some of the other great little cafes and eateries downtown.

As I think about it, fifty dollars a month seems pretty doable, at least for most months.  I look forward to trying out some new places and finding new businesses to support.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A New Trick

This week was sloooowwwww.  Like good grief it’s the week before Thanksgiving and I can’t stop thinking that I only have to go to work three days next week slow.  Like I’m definitely not getting enough sleep and can hardly keep my eyes open to drive home at the end of Friday slow.  That kind of slow.

At about 11 yesterday morning during my prep period, I sent my husband this email:


Then, a little later in the day, during lunch, I sent out this little number (I’m not concerned at ruining any surprises here…LK knows this is part of her gift):


And about 45 minutes later, I received this beauty in my inbox, and the world was good:


And that, my friends, is how to achieve the world’s most perfect Friday night.  Target + Sushi + My husband + a bag of candy cane kisses = One of life’s greatest small joys and an evening to be thankful for :)

And I have a discovered a new trick.  When I want something, I appeal to my husband’s never-ending desire for rolls of raw fish :) (it’s kind of a never ending desire for me too, to be honest.  It’s no sacrifice for either of us)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bargain Hunting

Sometimes I forget how much fun can be had inside of a mall.  There is something about finding that perfect deal in the mall that you just can’t be beat.  We spent the day in Louisville yesterday with Jon and Carrie, and I remembered a bit of that thrill.

My first deal of the day was this bag at Macys:

It is a Fossil bag that lists at 88 dollars.  I paid 32.  And I am in love with it.  It has the perfect pockets and I LOVE the different patterns.  It’s totally funky, but really neutral.  It’s the perfect winter purse :)

(I am also totally in love with these pants from Macys.  I would have never bought them on my own, but Andy’s mom gave me a pair for Christmas last year and I wear them CONSTANTLY.  They are my go-to work pants.  I want them in every color…but I decided not to buy any yesterday.  I feel like there was more selection in store than online, color-wise, though).

Then at Von Maur, I struck gold with these great casual shoes from Merrell.  They were originally 80, and I got them for their second markdown price of 40.  They are still listed full price just about everywhere I looked on the internet.  So I’m way excited.  I put them on, and it felt like a glove wrapped around my foot saying, “Welcome home.  We are dying to be your new brown weekend shoe.  Do you see how cute we look with your jeans?"

And if these go on sale at Dillard’s, they are coming home to me:

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Weekend Ahead

This week was good.  Long.  But good.

It was finals week at school.  I got all new classes yesterday, and I’m still working on adjusting to my new schedule.  Today one of the kids in my class last trimester came into my room and said, “Man, Mrs. Cook, you should have done the assignment Mrs. J is having us do.  We’re like taking a song and explaining how it’s poetry.”  I wrote that assignment.  Two weeks ago.  My classes are doing it right now too.  Cracked.me.up.

I became reacquainted with the gym and what Andy affectionately calls “the birthing machine.”  You may know it as the hip/thigh abductor/adductor.  I call it torture.   And pain in your hips and thighs on Friday.  But we are official card-carrying members of a 24 hour gym.  I love that we can go whenever we want. 

This weekend is jam-packed with fun. 

Tonight I’m doing this with a friend:

Then later tonight, we’re having other friends over to watch this:

And tomorrow we’re going to Louisville to hang with J&C Harris and do this:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What We’ve Been Up To: A Photo Essay

Here is a photo essay of the past week of our lives

We learned to make California rolls


And ginger salad and gyoza



We made up some dessert sushi


We went for a hike in the woods with some friends


We broke down and bought a Neti pot (my new BFF)


We ordered take out sushi and nearly fainted from the joy of eating a spicy tuna roll in our home

The Year 2009 1433

We got Andy’s new glasses

The Year 2009 1442

The Year 2009 1443

We hung out and relaxed late Friday night

The Year 2009 1438

We rode ATVs


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kitchen (about 90 percent finished)

Kitchen Before:


Kitchen During:

kitchen during

Kitchen After (as of 10/24/09 with painter’s tape up, wrong curtain, no decor, old countertop still in):

The Year 2009 1354

The Year 2009 1355

The Year 2009 1356

Living Room

Before (Way before)



Living Room After:

The Year 2009 1348

The Year 2009 1349

The Year 2009 1350

The Year 2009 1352

An array of emotions

Sometimes I definitely feel like my emotions are out of control.  Last night was one of those times.  We went to see “Where the Wild Things Are” (which left me ridiculously depressed and quite ready to slit my wrists—okay, so that’s an exaggeration).  But we did see the preview for the new Sandra Bullock movie, “The Blind Side.”  And I can tell you that I was nearly sobbing during the preview.  I have never cried at a movie preview—but I could not get control of myself.  Andy looked over at me and said, “Are you crying?  Are you crying a lot?  At a preview?”  But seriously…watch the preview.  See if you join me.  I think the trailer starts at about 32 seconds in.  This isn’t the exact one we saw, but only a little bit is different.





Then we came home and watched “The Soup.”  And I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe.  And this commercial came on and I fell off the sofa.  I feel like the one we saw last night kept repeating “25x bigger” a lot and that was really cracking me up.  Because we all need a cupcake that’s 25 times bigger.  It seemed funnier last night, but I’m going to include it, just so we can get the full range of emotional experiences—sad tears to falling off the sofa laughing.  All in a day’s work.

Side Note: I will get pictures of the house posted later.  My camera had been stolen by Andy a person who had left it in his car and not returned it and I just got it back.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Planning for guests…

We are having quite a few guests in the coming week.  Saturday, my mom and dad are coming down for the first time since March!  I am thrilled to have them for the day.  The only thing that could have made it better would have been my sister joining us.  We are going to take Mom and Dad for their first sushi experience—I think Mom is nervous, but I have promised to steer her in the right direction.

Next weekend, Mariah is coming for Saturday.  I am thrilled!  We haven’t had a chance to really hang out since June.  I’ve seen her several times since then, but always in passing, and often at funerals.  I am trying to figure out what to do—but  I think we may just spend the day at the house talking because that’s what we do best.

And some night next week, we are having a new guest over for dinner and hanging out.  Andy has become friends with his boss’s daughter, who is my age.  She had mentioned that she really didn’t have many friends her own age in town, and asked Andy if I had lots of friends.  He told her that I had very few, and that they were all older with kids.  So she asked if he thought the two of us might be friends.  I am THRILLED.  Frankly, I was considering asking Andy to see if she wanted to hang out with me—because she’s my age, and if my husband gets along with her, I know I will.

So she is coming over next week—and we are going to attempt to make sushi.  We were given a sushi set for our wedding from our sweet friend Ike, and have never used it.  I found this recipe for Cucumber and Avocado sushi, and we’re going to give it a try.  We’re also going to have salad with ginger dressing (one of my favorite things at Japanese restaurants), rice candy, vegetarian gyoza (potstickers) (I’m super excited to try this recipe), and I’m seriously considering some dessert sushi—like Rory and Lorelai had on Gilmore Girls when Lorelai recreated Asia to make Rory feel better about not going to Asia with Logan.

I am so excited!  And I’ll let you know how our make-your-own Japanese food experience goes :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ich liebe es

Four years ago, I spent the summer overseas.  Instead of saying, “I love it” about everything that we adored…we Germaned it in our American way and would say to one another, “Ich liebe es”

Since then, I have mostly switched to calling everything under the sun “my favorite” (so much so that my husband and some of my student’s will look at me and ask, “Let me guess…it’s your favorite?”)

But today, I’m falling back on an old Freiburg standard…Ich liebe es.  In no particular order, a few things that I am loving right now.

--NCIS—I can’t get enough of this show

--Andy’s obsession with Cobra Starship and the oh-so-classy “Good Girls Gone Bad.”  He downloaded it and plays it over and over again

--Burt’s Bees herbal blemish stick (seriously…I had major blemishes not seen this side of a 15 year old male…and in two days time they are gone)

--Fall Break (no school until Monday!)

--Coffee, in copious amounts

--My 30 day trial of LanSchool (an awesome program for 1:1 computer classrooms)

--Reliving favorite “The Soup” moments on YouTube

--Singing Britney with my husband

--This conversation: ANC—I want to write a song; AAC—I think I broke the DVR; ANC—Do you even listen to me; AAC—Yes, I was hoping you weren’t listening to me

--New tennis/gym/runningwhatever shoes


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Playing the game

I like to shop.

There.  I said it.  I don’t think it’s any huge surprise.  My parents are laughing—they know.  My sister,Lauren, will have to have her money pried from her cold lifeless hand.  Me, not so much.  Lauren is my dad.  I am I don’t know who.

As I say that, though, I want to temper it a bit.  I like to shop.  But I don’t like to spend.  At least, not a lot.  Having financial peace and stability means a whole lot more to me than having items and things.  And that’s why I play the game—the money saving game.  It’s really quite easy, and the dividends are tremendous.  None of this is rocket science, and most of it is common sense, but I want to write it out so I can see for myself just how I am doing.  So I’m going to try to break it down a little.

1. Saving money on groceries.

This is one of the largest areas in any family budget.  The grocery budget.  I try to keep our weekly food budget between 35-55 dollars.  Sometimes I go over, but it usually evens out.  We eat fairly simple meals: soups, pastas, meat dishes, etc., that utilize similar ingredients.  I might buy a pack of carrots and celery and use them in two or three meals and as snacks.  Or roast a chicken that then becomes 2-3 different meals.  Sometimes we’ll have egg or potato or soup night, where I just concoct something out of what’s in the fridge.  You can make a frittata with just about anything.  Same with soup.  And leftover vegetables, meat, and cheese become a great baked potato topping.

I do coupon shop at the grocery store; but mostly, I sales ad shop.  A lot of food coupons are for processed products, like Pillsbury rolls or frozen vegetables in sauce or fruit snacks.  We don’t eat these things.  My primary food costs each week come from the produce department.  I buy produce that’s in season, and that is versatile.  In the meat department, I never buy anything that isn’t hugely on sale.  I know what a good price for chicken breast and pork loin looks like, and I only buy them on sale.  We rarely use ground beef (unless we’re having hamburgers) and instead use ground turkey in things like tacos, chili and spaghetti, because it’s cheaper and healthier.

I use coupons for things like cereal, granola bars, coffee, creamers, and canned soup (a fallback lunch for Andy and for me on busy days).  Sometimes I can find coupons for pasta and baking items too.  My coupons come from the Sunday paper, from www.coupons.com, www.smartsource.com, and I can link coupons to my Kroger card at www.cellfire.com, www.shortcuts.com, and somewhere on the Procter and Gamble website.

2. Saving money on household items

I buy a lot of our household items at Kroger too.  I can often get my facewash (Loreal Revitalift) on sale B1G1 and use coupons, so I pay just  a little bit.  A lot of times I can get great prices on laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels and shampoo and conditioner.  I watch my sales ads and match up my coupons.  The coupons I clip (and store in a binder) come in the most handy with things like cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products.  I always hold on to my coupons until the item is on sale, so I can match it up.  Just today, Hefty trash bags were on sale for 4.99 (regular 7.59) and I had a coupon, so I ended up paying about 4 dollars for my trash bags.

Sometimes I hit Walgreens and CVS, too.  They often have great sales prices, and combined with the Register Rewards and Extra Care Bucks, you can buy a whole lot for just a very little.  I have a stockpile of a lot of things we go through on a regular basis because I have purchased them at rock bottom prices.  A few weeks ago Andy was teasing me about the excess supply of toothbrushes in our bathroom closet.  I’ll be the first to admit that there were several in there, but I realized that I had not paid more than 1 dollar for any toothbrush in there (most were closer to 25-50 cents).  As it turns out, a service organization at my school is collecting items for soldier care packages, and I was able to donate some of my excess.

Another new favorite of mine is the website www.alice.com.  It is a website where you can order all of the household items you need and have them delivered to your house.  For those weeks when things are really hectic, or for the things you always forget at the store (or just don’t want to lug around) this is a great resource.  There is always free shipping, and the prices are completely comparable to the prices at my local grocery/drugstore.

3. Saving money on clothes

I can’t tell you the last time I paid full price for something.  It’s been a while, that’s for sure. 

I keep lists of the things that Andy and I need or will need in the future.  For instance, Andy switched jobs, and now has a much more casual work environment, but he did not have a casual wardrobe.  Throughout the summer, I picked up pieces when I could that he could wear to work.  Now, as the temperatures are dropping, he needs a new cold weather wardrobe.  I sat down and figured out what he would need.  I get the sales emails from several stores (Old Navy, GAP, Banana Republic, Kohls mostly), and when something that he needs goes on sale, I order it.  Last weekend I was able to get him several warm shirts at Old Navy that were marked down to 15 dollars for their 15th anniversary, and take an additional 15 percent off with a coupon code.  Yesterday, I was able to get his jeans at Kohls B1G1 and with free shipping and an additional 15 percent off.  Not only do I check the emails, but I search for “Store Name coupon code” before I order anything.  By always knowing what we need and anticipating it, I am never stuck needing to find something at the last minute and having to pay full price.  I do this for non-clothing stores too.  Using things like like the 5 dollars off 30 coupons or the 20% off coupons from Bed, Bath, and Beyond or checking the sales/coupons for Bath Body Works can yield good savings too. 

4. Miscellaneous

I like to keep lists for other things as well.  Christmas gifts, house items, etc.  When the things I am looking for go on sale, then I purchase them.  For example, for my sister’s Christmas gift (it’s okay, she knows what she’s getting), I check the Target ad each week to see if the item I am looking for is on sale.  When it is, I will go to Target and buy it.  Another part of her gift will come from Shutterfly, and when I get a coupon code email saying that I can purchase that type of item for a percentage off, I will order her gift.

I also use www.ebates.com for online shopping.  You just sign up for an account for free, and search for the store you are looking for.  Then, you can click on the store from their website and earn back a certain percentage of your purchase.  Then every quarter, they will mail me a check with my rebate.  I was already going to spend the money in the first place, so this is a nice way to get a little bitty piece of it back.

And lastly, www.swagbucks.com.  I signed up for swagbucks and use it primarily as a search engine.  I don’t totally know how it works, but I know enough to know that sometimes I earn a swagbuck, and when I earn so many, I can trade it in for something.  So far, I have enough for three, almost four, 5 dollar Amazon gift cards.  I could hold on and get a Starbucks card or a Target card.  I think I’m going to stick with Amazon, though, because I can use it to order Christmas gift.  A handful of people on our Christmas list will end up getting books or other things from Amazon, and this is an easy way for me to save a little money there.

We also use the website www.restaurant.com to save on our eating out costs.  Let’s be honest, it’s on our sushi eating costs.  Our new favorite sushi bar in Louisville is listed on restaurant.com, and that’s just soooo exciting.  Since Andy and I both feel that a month without sushi is month that isn’t worth living, I can wait and grab a 25 dollar gift card to our sushi restaurant when they go on sale for 2 or 4 dollars.  We have to spend 35 dollars at the restaurant, but that’s not a huge deal.  We usually end up spending 2oish dollars (including a very generous tip—Andy gets excited at sushi restaurants and tips like a madman) for a bill that should have been closer to 45 or 50. 

There you have it.  In a nutshell, some of my favorite ways to save money.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Perfect Saturday

I have no plans, no commitments.  No papers to grade, no lessons to write.  I have absolutely nothing that NEEDS to be done.  There’s a pot of chili on the stove simmering away…and I intend to spend my day reading, going for a walk, and doing some special cleaning that has been waiting for a while.

I’m off to enjoy this perfect fall day :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time for some old friends

In the autumn, it’s time for everything to be cozy.  When the leaves start to change (and they are, here, more every day) and temperatures start to drop (definitely happening), there are a few autumnal traditions that I like to observe.

1. Autumn scented candles.  There is nothing like the fall months to bring out the desire to make it smell like fall.  I have three that I rotate between—pumpkin spice and mulled apple cider from Wal-Mart, and Yankee Candle’s Harvest candle.  We have them burning nearly constantly in the fall months.

2. You’ve Got Mail.  This movie feels like autumn to me.  There is nothing I like more than snuggling on the sofa (especially our new cozy sofa) and curling up with a blanket and some coffee or tea to watch You’ve Got Mail. 

3. Soup.  I told Andy the other day that I’m having a hard time menu planning, because I look down and realize I’ve written out four different types of soup and nothing else for the week.  Again, there’s nothing like a bowl full of yummy hot liquid to make you feel nice and cozy.

4.  Using the oven.  In the summer months, we tend to have to say no to using our oven.  I don’t know what the problem is, but it seems to heat up the house more than any I’ve ever seen.  So unless it’s very early in the day or very late at night, I usually avoid the oven in the summer. 

5.  Gilmore Girls.  Every fall I have a renewed desire to watch Gilmore Girls.  I think it’s the New England setting, but I love nothing more than watching Lorelai and Rory in the colder months.  In fact, I think I’ll do so starting tonight.  Andy is going to a friend’s house, and I don’t particularly care to watch The Biggest Loser when it’s on live.  I’m a bit of a snob, and I don’t think it’s necessary for any show on primetime to be two hours long.  Especially not a reality show (I’m talking to you too The Bachelor).  So I prefer to watch TBL on DVR, so I can fast forward through the boring parts.  Watching Gilmore Girls will be perfect tonight.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grocery love

This + This = An awesome trip to Kroger

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

For the very distant future

Dear Future Children,

Hi there.  I don't know you yet, but I will.  Eventually.  You will one day be my child.  And we'll have a lot of fun.  But I want to go ahead and get this out there--when you go to school, I'm afraid I can't let you eat school lunch.  Your dad might stand up for you and let you pick one day a week, but if it were up to me, you'd probably pack your lunch every day.

I have my reasons.  I work in a school now.  I see the lunch.  I see that it will not be healthy for you, and I want you to make healthy choices.  Just today, I saw a group of boys eating their lunch, and collectively, the most nutritious thing on any of the plates was a scoop of highly processed canned peas that glowed yellow with the margarine on them.  I don't want you ingesting that.  The others were downing Powerade, pizza, corn dogs, french fries, tater tots, and desserts.  They said they tasted good, which I don't doubt, but I want better than that for you.  I want you to taste real food.  I want you to enjoy the flavor of natural ingredients--things that are served the way that God intended them to be served.  I'm not saying we will never eat pizza or dessert.  I'm a big fan of both.  I just don't want them to be your lunch or your normal lunch.  I'm sure we'll have some occasional arguments about this, but I want you to know that I'm sticking to my guns.  You will eat far less processed food than some of the students I am seeing now.  Your diet won't be perfect, but it will be healthy and balanced.

Your Future Mom

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Punctuation Failure

I have discovered something.  My students do not know how to use punctuation.  Setting aside the fact that 90 percent of them have yet to pass their comma test with an 80 percent or above (the requirement for not having to take anymore comma tests…because, seriously (an example of a comma used with a nonessential expression), by ninth grade, you should be able to use a comma.

And,not, like, this. 

It’s not confetti.  Stop spreading it around.  We are not feeling festive all up in here.

Today is not September, 29, 2009.

Nor is your address 134, West, Street, Town Name, IN, 39593.

Also, this sentence is incorrect: We want to go to the mall but, we keep getting lost.

This too: Jill, and Diana talked, and laughed.

I’ve come to terms with comma problems.  I’ll keep teaching them until I’m blue in the face.  I can recite that section of the textbook verbatim.  It’s really quite impressive.  But today.  Today we had a new problem.  It went a little something like this:

“Hey, Mrs. Cook.  If I’m copying this directly, do I put it in these?” He points to a key on his keyboard.

“What are ‘these’, Anonymous Male Student?”

“I think it’s a parentheses.”

“No, you’re pointing at a quotation mark.”

“Oh.  Well, do I need to put the quote in parentheses?”

“No, usually we put quotes in quotation marks.”

“Oh, really?  I didn’t know that.”

Monday, September 28, 2009

A completely pointless post.

I have some very pointless things to share.  Mostly because real life is hard.  And I don’t want to deal with real life via the interwebs.  So if I know you in real life, and you know about the hardness, and are curious about why I’m avoiding it, this is why.  I can’t process it right now.  I need a few days.  Or a week.  Or six months.  I’m a slow processer.  If I was a computer, you’d throw me away.  Mom, Grandma, I’m really okay.

Now on to my pointless-ness.  I was making some connections this weekend (in my head—not physical or personal).  And I realized something kind of funny.  People think and act differently based on their choice of news sources.  And here’s my completely circumstantial evidence to barely back up that claim (why yes, I did just teach my speech class about proper evidence in a persuasive speech…you mean it didn’t look like this?  huh.)

My husband gets his primary news from countless hours of CNN, cnn.com, and The Drudge Report.  He is an angry man (at least when it comes to the news…not really in other things, he’s fairly pleasant).  But he is convinced that the world is going to crap.  And that we are going to have to leave the country or something crazy like that.  Please know I’m totally exaggerating and making things up.  It’s what I do.  This isn’t really what my husband says.  He just gets really excited and then I forget what he says and make up things like this. 

My mother-in-law gets her news from FOX News.  She watches hours of it.  And she is convinced that the swine flu is going to kill us all.  She’s trying to figure out what to do about flu shots and is certain that it is going to kill everyone.  Again, I don’t really remember what she said, I’m totally making her reaction up.  I have met people who have survived the swine flu with no issues (except, you know, for the flu-like symptoms) and we discussed this. 

I get my news from TIME magazine (which my husband does not enjoy, thankyouverymuch) cnn.com, Kiplingers (for finance) and to be honest, people.com and Chelsea Lately.  Clearly, the last two do not cover the hard-hitting news so much.  But I can tell you anything you want to know about the Kardashian sisters.  Also, I can tell you about how the poor girl from the Miss Teen USA pageant in 2007 who horribly flubbed her interview had no idea that Chelsea Handler was making fun of her through her entire interview in 2009.  And I don’t know what issues I have, because I’m not as aware of my own.  Unless it’s possibly the borderline unhealthy knowledge of the Kardashian sisters.  I didn’t really make any of that up.

I would totally fail a persuasive speech in my class.  I’d tear me apart and tell me to do some real work.

That’s all.  I’m curious.  Where do other people get their news?  Evening news?  Different websites?  Newspapers? 

Friday, September 25, 2009

An ill household

Earlier this week, sweet A was sick.  He had some stomach problems in the night, and we both ended up staying up together for a while until he was able to get some rest.

The following afternoon, I started sneezing and getting a sore throat.  It has been getting progressively worse, to the point that I needed to stay home from work today.

And I just really want to share with you how much I appreciate my sweetie husband.  He took my temperature, brought me water and medicine, made sure my pillows were okay, and helped me change into comfy clothes because I couldn’t unbutton my own shirt.

That’s a sweet husband, and I love him dearly.

Now I need to go back to bed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sneak Peek

I have decided not to unveil the living room until the curtains arrive and I finish up a small project.  In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of what is making me super dee duper happy right now :)

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Ideal Week

In an ideal week, I would start Monday with:

-my breakfast for the week portioned and bagged

-groceries purchased

-produce prepped for the week ahead

-papers graded, lesson plans ready to go

-a clean house, organized, dusted and ready to go

-laundry washed, folded, and put away

This week is not going to be an ideal week

I do have the groceries ready, and breakfast and the veggies prepped.

My lesson plans are about 83% ready.

I have less than 30 minutes of grading.

But the rest is not going to happen.  I don’t really know why I didn’t do the laundry.  There’s no real reason.  But the whole clean house thing isn’t going to happen.

In about 15 minutes, we are going to clear out the last few things from our living room.  Then my husband is going to rip out the monstrous red carpet.  Tomorrow at 10:30, our pretty new carpet is going to be installed.  Then later in the afternoon, our new sofas will be delivered.  And when I get home from school, we are going to put our living room back together again.

I will reclaim my office.  The piles will go back to where they belong.  We will no longer have a living room that looks like this (actually…that picture is from 2007 right after we moved in…it hasn’t looked totally like that in awhile)

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The green is gone.  In its place is a color that had better not be pink when the new carpet comes in or there may be weeping and gnashing of teeth tomorrow night.  The burgundy will be gone.  In its place will be pretty carpet. 

And I will be able to put my house back together again.

Until we demolish the kitchen next month and start the whole thing over again.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Numbers: I don’t even remember anymore

I think I up to about 45 books this year.  At least I was the last time I saw my notebook.  The contents of our living room are currently stacked precariously in my office, so I don’t know when the notebook will resurface. 

I can tell you about a few of my favorites, though.

The Boleyn Inheritance—Philippa Gregory

I am pretty sure I am going to end up reading everything she has written.  This was in the same vein as “The Other Boleyn Girl” and talked about the lives of the 4th and 5th wives of Henry VIII.  I very seriously ignored everything else while reading this book.  So good.

Mixed Signals—Liz Curtis Higgs

This book wasn’t particularly good or special, but I just thought it was so sweet.  It felt like autumn to me..cozy, sweet.  Like a blanket and cup of coffee.  I ended up ordering my own copy, because it’s the type of book I can grab when I need a pick me up and reread.

And right now I am reading Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky.  I think if I were able to devote an appropriate amount of time and thought to it, I would enjoy it more than I am.  But it was not the best choice for a “back to school” book.  It’s very good…it’s just taking me a while to get through it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A happy ending to a rough day

Today was not my favorite day.  But the part since I got home 40 minutes ago has been fabulous.  I came home to a sweet husband, a fully cooked dinner (I put it in the crock pot this morning)…and things instantly perked up.  Then I found out that a cd that I have wanted since my freshman year of college is available on iTunes.  And I’m thrilled.

This particular cd is by the David Crowder Band.  Truly, Crowder is probably my hands down favorite musician.  I always turn back to David Crowder.  The cd I found is their very first album, All I Can Say, and I have wanted it for a very long time.  And it was not available anywhere.  ANYWHERE.  So many of the songs on that album were songs we sang during worship my freshman year at Purdue…a time when I was just discovering that a relationship with God was possible.  That Christianity wasn’t being a good person and doing the right thing the way I had been taught up to then.  That the Word of God was living, breathing, and active, not a set of rules and regulations.  And this cd contained a whole lot of songs that meant a whole lot to me during that time.

So I’m sitting here, hearing the very words, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth….the flowers of the field are crying to be heard, the trees of the forest are singing…”  Words that first made the Lord real to me.  And I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t crying.  It’s such a small thing, but having the iTunes version of this cd touches my very soul, and brings me more happiness than you can know.  Best 9.99 I ever spent :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Painters

There are two people in a house somewhere who decided to paint together for the first time.  One has done all of the painting since purchasing said house…the other has conveniently been at work any time painting has gone on.

The one with the paint experience knew how she liked to paint: many, many hours of The Rachel Zoe Project, Project Runway, The Soup, and the occasional Keeping Up with the Kardashians needed to be on in the background. 

The interloper with no experience thought that listening to techno music was the better option.

We’ll just say they didn’t necessarily agree.  But after teaching a Sunday School lesson that dealt with compromise, they reached one.  They listened to one techno cd all the way through, then switched to The Soup on DVR, because it was agreeable to both.  Rachel Zoe and the Kardashians will have to wait for another day.

But their living room is finally all painted. 

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is going to be one of those things we’re going to laugh about later

So…I wholeheartedly suspect that Andy and I have entered into a phase of our marriage that is going to become something that we will look back on and say, “Why did we think that was a good idea?”

Just don’t tell him I said it.

Our carpet has arrived, and should install sometime late next week.  (We think).  Our installer didn’t call yet, but he said he can usually do it about a week after it gets in.

Our furniture is being picked up this weekend, and going to it’s new home.  That should be pretty nice for painting and ripping out the current carpet.  Unfortunately, our new furniture isn’t even guaranteed to be built until the 21st.  They said it usually takes 21 days to build, but I don’t know how much to add on for delivery. 

So we shall be without furniture in the living room for at least a week and probably more.  We will be watching the season premiere of The Biggest Loser and The Office without furniture. 

This weekend, we need to paint the entire living room and hallway.  It’s a pretty big job, especially considering the other things going on.  Andy coaches his first soccer game…we have plans to watch some college football late Saturday afternoon and probably won’t be home terribly early….and then, you know, I’m a teacher…weekends are how I catch up from everything I didn’t do during the week.  I think Andy’s going to tape the walls tonight, and I’m going to prime while he’s at soccer.  Then, hopefully, we can do the first coat of paint Saturday afternoon, and a second after church Sunday.

Then, on the 25th (whether we have furniture or not), our new wood is arriving.  We will need to see if Andy’s parents can come down for a weekend, because we think we need their help with this one.  So we will be demolishing MANY layers of flooring in our kitchen, knocking out a poorly placed closet that cuts into our space, then cleaning out our crawl space, installing a new subfloor, adding the hardwood (it sounds so easy typed…), fixing the trim (because there are MANY layers of floor that may be going away), painting the walls, changing the countertop, and building an open shelving system on the wall where the closet is being knocked out.  And somehow in all of this, we still haven’t figured out where to put a dishwasher in our kitchen.

And then it’s time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An ode to Lowe’s

Oh Lowe’s, how I love thee.

You are a delightful home improvement store.

One of the few places in town with friendly and competent service.

And you have all sorts of things that make me want to spend all of my money.

And sometimes I do.

And Lowe’s, you wanted to further our relationship.

It was sweet, you know, pre-approving us for a credit card like that.

I’m sorry we had to say no.

But we’ll be back.

You know we will.

We’ll run out of paint, or need some mums.

We’ll need nails for the nail gun.

Or something I don’t even know about now.

If we tear down that wall in the kitchen, who knows what we’ll need.

If we build those shelves I am longing for, I know that we’ll be back.

Of course, now that we’ve purchased the carpet and the hardwood, I don’t know what we’ll do on dates.

Not you and me, Lowes.  We can’t date.  I’m married.

And, well, you’re a home improvement superstore.

I meant my husband and I. 

We like to hang out within your huge, gray walls.

I guess we’ll have to find a new project.

Or wait until something to break.  Our house does that, you know.

Or maybe we’ll just take a break after October’s home improvement sprint, and keep some of our money.

Until the spring, of course, because you know we love you in the spring.

To Lowe’s.  My sweet friend….the one we visit the most and spend the most time with.

Monday, September 7, 2009

This Week’s Meals

I have been slacking something miserable in a lot of departments.  Andy ran out of clean shorts this week.  Last week he had no socks.  And dinner has been pretty grab whatever and eat it.  So this week, in honor of an extra day, I am going to try to officially get my act together.  Starting with grocery shopping and laundry today.  And sweeping the kitchen floor (I have determined I will not bother mopping it…since it will be GONE soon).

So here’s my meal plan for this week (all of my links go to Cooking Light recipes—we’re working on cutting calories and being healthier around here….and frankly, I’d like to weight what I weighed when we got married two years ago):

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs or oatmeal, fruit

Lunch Andy: Chicken pot pie, mini sausage pizza, roast beef sandwiches

Lunch Ashley: Whole grain pita with hummus, Laughing Cow Light Cheese wedges, and cucumber; Chicken with Wild Rice Soup and salad

Snacks: popcorn, cut vegetables, apples, grapes, low fat cottage cheese and applesauce


Monday: Border Style Shrimp, Broccoli

Tuesday: Smothered Pork Chops with Thyme, salad

Wednesday: Chicken with Southwestern Salsa, garden salad

Thursday: Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Friday: Bacon and Baked Potato Soup, salad

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Two years later…

Two years ago, this very Labor Day weekend, Andy and I were beginning to move into our first house.  We knew there were some serious issues, some things that made us crazy, but we knew that our little one income family couldn’t afford to do a whole lot at the time…at least without going into debt, which we are completely committed to NOT doing.

So we made do.

For the past two years, we’ve made do.  We had a carpet that we hated.  So we made do by painting the living room a bold color that complemented (though a few who have entered this house have disagreed) the burgundy monstrosity.  And it worked.  We had a kitchen tile that was atrocious.  It is pale pink bathroom tile with grout a mile wide, so it never looks clean.  We had the sofa that Andy’s parents gave us….it came with their house when they moved in 14ish years ago.  We had the loveseat my parents gave us….they bought it when I was in about kindergarten.  It’s worked.  It’s been our sweet little eclectic first house.

We have worked hard.  We paid off all our debt (my student loans).  We built an emergency savings.  And we are paying off our mortgage and saving for retirement. 

So now we’re having some fun.

Our house is going to be changing in the coming weeks.  The burgundy carpet will soon be gone.  It will be replaced with a lovely frieze carpet in a nice neutral color.  The walls are changing too.  I still love the green, but the paint was cheap, and it looks bad.  They will be a light neutral tan color as well.  Andy’s parents gave us a tv stand, so we won’t be using a secondhand coffee table for our television.  And we have replaced our sofas.  They will arrive shortly after the carpet.  And we have a beautiful 90 year old library table that was built by Andy’s great-grandpa—Andy Cook—that my husband has carefully refinished over the past three weeks.

We had intended to stop with the living room now, and wait a few months for the kitchen.  But we were met with an offer that was to good to turn down this afternoon.  Sometime this week we will be heading to pick up the hardwood flooring that will go in our kitchen.  We (Andy) plan to install that ourselves, so the only cost will be in the supplies.  We will paint the kitchen to match the living room, replace the countertop, put in the new faucet we bought on clearance last winter, and paint the table and chairs we were given by friends.  And our two biggest house projects will be complete.  I’m so excited for all of the changes coming in the next few weeks.  It’s such an exciting time. 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A long day that ends with a personal goal

Today made me tired.  The kind of tired that can only be satisfied with comfort food.  So I popped a Schwan’s chicken pot pie in the microwave, and tasted a small bit of comfort.

The pot pie and I have an interesting relationship.  I never really had them as a child, because my family never ate chicken (my dad can’t eat it)(also, as a result, I cook with chicken like 4 times a week….I think I am still just so excited to get to eat it).  I think I may have tried one at the baby-sitter’s once, but I wasn’t a fan.  Then I lived on my own at Purdue.  And I didn’t have very much money.  So I ate the Great Value or Banquet pot pies with some regularity because I could get an entire meal for 54 cents.  (It was fifty, but inflation crept in my senior year).  Then I eventually graduated to the Swanson chicken pot pies (because they tasted so much better).  Now we buy the Schwan’s every so often, because frankly, I forget to go down the freezer aisle and the Schwan’s man comes to my door.

With all that said, I am a firm believer that none of those pot pies comes close to be as good as a homemade chicken pot pie.  And so today, I vow to try to find my favorite pot pie recipe.  I’ll do some research, and choose several recipes.  Then I’ll report back and give my overall findings.  I’ll give it the Ashley Cook Seal of Approval.  So…if you know of a fabulous pot pie recipe that I HAVE to try, let me know :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My new favorite pot roast

I had a pot roast in the freezer that needed to be used.  I got it on sale and with a coupon at Kroger a few weeks ago, and it was just waiting to be cooked.  After reaching a new low last night, and serving canned chicken noodle soup and a reheated sourdough roll from the Wal-Mart bakery, I knew I needed to make something for dinner.  But I knew I would be plum tuckered out when I got home (can you say yucky cold thing at the start of the school year).  So I made dinner this morning in the crock pot.  It went like this:

Dump some water in the crock pot.

Toss in a packet of Mushroom Gravy seasoning stuff

Toss in a packet of dry Italian seasoning

Toss in a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dry dressing

Stir it all up.

Drop in the roast.

Cook on low.

I just tasted a little bite when I got home, and MERCY!  It is danged good!  I want to spoon out the broth and drink it straight.  I’ve never had that sort of feeling about a meat broth.  In fact, six years ago I told my mother I hated the taste of red meat.  And I’m still pretty fussy about my cow meat.  Now, I cannot wait until dinner tonight (or until pot roast is on sale again).  Holy Cow is it good.

A Series of Electronic Mails

Every day at work, my sweet husband and I exchange a set of emails back and forth.  Most are quick (I only have quick seconds in my day), but they bring me great joy.  Here is a series that was sent back and forth today:

From Ashley to Andy:

Dear Magee,
On Saturday, can we please try to locate a Starbucks as we go to Cincinnati?  Pumpkin Spice lattes are out again, and I might not survive if I don't get one soon.  I spend my whole year in anticipation of the months of seasonal flavored coffees and creamers. And I'm so excited the time is here!
I love you,
Your mildly melodramatic wife.



From Andy to Ashley



From Ashley to Andy

This is me sticking my tongue out at you.


And that’s how I stay sane at work :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dear September

Welcome back, September!  I’m so excited to see you.  You know you’re my favorite, right?  Because, September, when you’re here, things start to get beautiful.  August is nice.  What with all the tomatoes and peaches and the excitement of a new school year.  But August is hot.  And dry.  Okay, not as much this year, but still. 

In August, things start to turn a little bit brown.  But you, September, you bring the oranges, the yellows, the purples and the dark reds.  Mums start to come in.  Leaves start to change.  The air gets that nice little crisp feeling.  I get to dig out the sweaters (the light ones) and continue my search for the perfect riding boot (this will be the year!).  I pull out my Harvest candle from Yankee Candle, and the apple cider and pumpkin candles from Wal-Mart.  My whole house smells so delightful. 

Football season truly begins.  The apples arrive at the orchard (the cider too).  The leaves in the park start to change (though I know it’s really October who gets the glory here).  Mr. Magee and I take longs walks in the park, and hopefully down the Heritage Trail.  And it’s all so glorious. 

This September I get to go home for a weekend.  I don’t know that I’ve been home in September since I was at Purdue.  That makes this September so much cooler than the last few.  Andy will spend his Saturday mornings coaching soccer, and I intend to spend mine doing fun things—maybe checking out the farmers market, or going to the library, or starting some meals for the work week, or just catching up on sleep. 

Oh September, welcome back!



Sunday, August 30, 2009

No, Seriously Guys, I haven’t laughed this hard in months

That was my most oft repeated phrase yesterday. 

And it was awesome. 

I finally begged, pleaded and coerced enough

Andy and I decided late in the week that we were going to go see “Julie and Julia.” 

The closest theater to our shmucky yucky little town that was playing this delightful film was in Louisville.  Just mere minutes from our friends Jon and Carrie.  J&C (as they shall henceforth be known) have been friends of ours for many a year.  Well, mostly the J half.  He and Andy were close all through Purdue, and J was one of my top five faves of Andy’s friends (yes, I did have favorites of my husband’s college friends. No, I won’t tell you who they were…or weren’t). 

We met them at their apartment at noon, and headed out to a dismal lunch at O’Charley’s. 

I shall interject now to tell you that my husband was inadvertently called hefty on multiple occasions on Saturday.  Inadvertent Fat Andy Story 1: The waitress went to refill his soda, and asked, “It was diet, right?”  In his head, that translated to, “Hey Fatty, you should be drinking diet with all that extra heft.” 

Then we meandered Target a bit (somehow this becomes a pastime when hanging out with other couples…we’ve done it with at least two others that I can remember).  Eventually, we headed back to their apartment, where the boys played Guitar Hero and the girls chatted it up.  Finally, it was time for our movie.  And we all enjoyed it thoroughly.  I, for one, adored it. 

Lots more time passed…the Wii Fit groaned when Andy hopped on. 

He was humiliated. 

Which makes me giggle. 

Because he is like 2 pounds in the overweight category according to his BMI….but dude has some serious muscle in his upper body, so it’s not shocking that he weighs a bit more.

Eventually, it was time to go get sushi at Sapporo. 

This is where the real insanity began.  

First, as we were driving, we noticed HUGE crowds of people walking on the sidewalks.  Then, we realized a lot of them were dressed up as zombies.  Apparently, it was Zombie Awareness Day in Louisville, and large crowds of zombies gather together to march down the street.  I am so NOT making this up.  My only regret is that I didn’t have my camera.

Once we trekked through the zombies, we made it to restaurant.  It was packed, so we ended up eating at the sushi bar.  At first, I wasn’t too sure about it, but it was really kind of awesome.  We were all packed together, so we could actually hear one another over the persistent techno beat. 

It turns out that we’re not quite trendy enough for Sapporo.  But I don’t mind.  Because frankly I’m still salivating over the spicy tuna roll.  I would give up all other food on earth to eat what I ate for dinner last night.  Seriously, I can’t get it out of my head. 

And I even changed the lyrics to that Kylie Minogue song to, “I can’t get you out my head.  Sushi your taste is all I can think about.”  And sang it all afternoon.  My husband was laughing.  But I was still salivating over the awesome sushi.

Of course, my salivating caused another problem at the dinner table. 

When the sushi chef looked at our order (we had all four on one ticket) he glanced up at Andy, and asked, “Is this ALL for TWO PEOPLE”

Andy’s translation, “You are seriously going to stuff yourself that full you CENSORED BY ME

Andy then remarked that he had been called fat many a time that day.

Something about that tickled me a bit.

An entire platter of sushi containing my meal, Andy’s meal, J’s meal, and C’s meal had just been placed in the small space in front of me.

I was still eating my salad.

And I spit the salad dressing all over everyone’s sushi.

I only wish that was the first time I had spit food across a table.

Thankfully my dinnermates were awfully gracious about the spit.  And once they finished laughing, we enjoyed a lovely meal.

There was much more, but it all became the goofy stuff that’s only funny when you’re with friends.  Things like misreading neon signs (Electric Ladylard, anyone?…or perhaps the Rainbow Bosoms Food Market?") and just laughing hysterically for hours on end. 

We arrived home safely Sunday morning (it was after midnight, it was Sunday morning).

And I so want to hang out the J&C again in the VERY near future.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Fall Wardrobe I Think I Need

As the seasons start to change, so my mind starts to think about new clothes.  It’s a bit obsessive, lately.  I realize that I’ve still been “making do” in the wardrobe area for the past few years, and that I really need to start growing an “adult” wardrobe.  So here are the things I will be (hopefully) adding to my wardrobe this fall. (Maybe later I’ll do one for Andy, too…I love shopping for his clothes—he’s becoming quite fashionable over the past 3 months)

1. Black pants.  I have two pairs, but I don’t love either.  One has a broken button, so I safety pin it shut.  The other sits funny on my hips and makes my sides ache.  So this fall I’m looking to get a “nice” pair of black pants that fits me well.

2. Dresses that can transition from warm to cold.  I bought two already.  I’m in love with the idea of wearing a dress now, and then layering it with a long sleeved tee or cardigan as it gets colder.  It makes things so versatile.  Here is one I am excited about wearing all winter long.

3. T-Shirts—Long, Short and 3/4 length.  I am a firm believer that with the appropriate neckline and jewelery, a t-shirt can be school appropriate.  And the long sleeved shirt can go under anything in my wardrobe to make it cold-weather appropriate.  I may feel this way because I struggle so with button-downs and blouses.  Button-downs and I have a gaping problem.  And my shoulders and upper arms struggle to fit nicely in a lot of blouses.  They feel tight around my upper body. So I stick to t-shirts.  I have a few favorite t-shirt brands.  For short sleeved with cute necklines, I like Daisy Fuentes and ELLE at Kohls, my favorite long sleeved shirts are Sonoma Life and Style at Kohls, GAP, and Banana Republic.  And I am always a fan of the tissue weight tee from Target.  Should you ever feel any of these, you will quickly understand that I am drawn to very soft fabrics. 

4. Way Cute Coat—I have a short green pea coat that I got from Target last year, and I instantly feel adorable when I put it on.  I love that coat.  I’d like to find something cute for all winter this year.  I have always been in love with the pink coat Lorelai wore during the winter of season 4 on Gilmore Girls….or the red one that Rory wore season 5.  Something about fun colors makes winter outwear so much more exciting.

I like this one from Kohls, because it has a hood (and I have outdoor duty at school all winter long…somehow this year I’m indoors during all the mild months, and I’ll be outside from December-March).  There are some cute ones on Overstock.com too.

5. Comfortable shoes.  This is a must considering I spend my days walking back and forth across the school building and my classroom.  And I’m not a slow mover.  I had two pairs of shoes that have served me well for the past two years, but this year, they aren’t as comfortable.  I think I’ve worn down the padding.  They are starting to show their age, too.  So it’s time for them to go part time, and some new shoes to take center stage.

6. Jewelry.  I so spelled that wrong the first time.  But for real, I’m in need of some serious accessories.  I think I focus most of my time on my clothing, and forget about accessories.  And I have seen from watching a co-worker every day the impact that cute jewelry can have on an outfit.  So I need to increase my collection.

7. Boots.  I have long desired a pair of riding boots.  And every year I tell myself that this will be the year.  Well, this time, I mean it.  For real. I also love the look of a stiletto boot, I’m just not sure where I would wear it.  I could do it occasionally at school, but it couldn’t be an everyday thing.  There are several at Macys.com that look cute.  I may order a few and see what works.  Sadly, I can’t link the pictures. 

8. Sweaters.  Cardigans and V-Necks mostly.  They seem to be what I prefer.  I would also like a few casual sweaters, for casual Fridays and weekends.  Here are a few that I like:

9. Jeans.  I have a tormented relationship with jeans.  I can just never find the pair that fit me quite right.  I always feel just a little bit self-conscious in jeans.  So I would like to find my perfect pair.

10. And lastly, a fabulous go-to skirt.  Something I can toss on with a t-shirt and sweater and perhaps a necklace and fly out the door.