20 Things

My fabulous blogger friend Deva invited me to do this survey of 20 Things About Me, so here it is. If you haven't yet, go visit her blog, it's chock full of fashion, love, music, and dreamy photos.

Now, on to me....(oh, a little warning, this is kind of a long post)

1. What is your favorite item of clothing?
Here's a hint: look to the right, in the sidebar, and scroll down a bit....do you see it? The rainbow colored toe socks? Yup, that's me summed up in an article of clothing! I just love how comfortable they are, how they hug my toes and keep them warm, especially during the cold winter. Toe socks are the only type of socks I wear, besides the white ankle socks I wear when I work out. And I own several pairs with many different designs on them. They just instantly brighten a dreary winter day, and it adds that extra spring in my step!

2. What are your biggest obsessions/passions?
Like my girl Deva I've changed obsessions to 'passions'. I do have several, but my biggest one is probably reading. I LOVE to read! Every time I walk into a bookstore I can't help myself, I have to buy a new book, even though my stack of 'to be reads' is on the verge of toppling over there's so many! I also have a passion for taking photos, chocolate (of course!), blogging, scrapbooking, and writing. Oh, and I will admit that I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Facebook...it's becoming a problem, I may to need to find a Facebook Anonymous support group people!

3. Who inspires you?

My son, hands down. He has been the inspiration for so many of the positive changes I made in my life. He was the ultimate inspiration when I decided to leave his physically abusive biological father; he inspired me to look for the right qualities in a husband and father, which is why I'm now married to a man who treats me like a queen, and is the best father any kid could hope for; he inspires me to look at the world and at life with such positivity; he inspires me to be the best mom, wife, friend, and human being I can be; and most importantly, he inspires me to nurture my relationship with God.

4. Who is your favorite designer and why?
*photo courtesy of jimmychoo.com

I would have to say Jimmy Choo. Although I've never been able to to afford anything made by him, I adore the classy elegance mixed with edginess in his shoes. Burberry is a close second, though again I've never owned anything by them. I just love how classic their designs are.

5. What is your favorite song ever?
Hmmm, that's a tough one.... I think it would have to be "When You Say Nothing At All" by Ronan Keating.

6. What is your favorite song right now?
"Pocketful of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield

7. If you were a sweetie what would you be?

Peanut M&Ms....odd-shaped, a bit nutty, but very sweet!

8. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet - what words would you use to describe your rainbow?
It's a small world after all!

9. What are your favorite films?
Harry Potter movies, Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Immortal Beloved, Lord of The Rings, Braveheart, Sabrina, and Star Trek (the new one)

10. Who is your favorite actor?
It's a toss-up between Johnny Depp and Robert Redford. Johnny because I love his range and depth of characters, and Robert because..... well, just watch his movies, you'll understand!

11. If you could be anywhere in the world right now where would you be?
Traveling through Italy. It's always been a dream of mine to do that, and someday I'll make there!

12. What are your 3 favourite smells?
The top of my son's head, chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, and how it smells after a fresh rain.

13. What are your 3 favourite tastes?
Hazelnut chocolate, coffee, and seafood (not all at once of course).

14. What is your most treasured possession?
My family, no question about it. Without the people I love and who love me, life would just be empty.

15. What did you always want to be/do when you grew up?
This kept changing as I grew up, but the first thing I remember wanting to be when I grew up was a dentist.

16. If you were an ice-cream what flavour would you be?
Rocky road: just a hodge-podge of a little bit of everything, but it all comes together somehow!

17. If someone made a short film about your life, who would play you?
Wow! I have no idea..um, probably Sandra Oh...she's Asian, she does quirky and tough really well, but she also has a softer and vulnerable side as well.

18. What would your perfect afternoon consist of?
Lunch with my guys at our favorite restaurant, go for a hike in the woods, then sit down to a hearty home-cooked meal, then off to see a movie.

19. If you were a flower what would you be?

Ok, my hubby would probably jokingly say a Venus fly trap (gee, wonder why that is?), but I would have to say Calla Lilly.

20. Tell me one random thing... be it your favourite line from a song, scene from a movie or quote from a book.....or tell me about something that you love.

"One day, rainbow colored toe socks will rule the world. Just you wait!"
- found that quote on a button somewhere.

Chicken Fra Diavolo

Tasty Thursday presents:

Chicken Fra Diavolo with Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Fennel, and Roasted Garlic Tomato Salsa

I found the original recipe for this in Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book, and I tweeked it just a little bit to my liking. It's such a yummy and flavorful chicken dish, having a mixture of sweet smokyness and heat. This was also the first time I had ever used fennel. I was a little frightened at first and wasn't sure what to make of the huge white-with-green-fronds thingy staring at me on my kitchen counter. After figuring out how to trim and cut the darn thing, we were good to go. Another thing I love about this dish is that's its kind of a one-pot meal (I'll explain kind of in the recipe), which is always nice when you're the designated dish washer in the bunch (do y'all think it's possible my hubby loads the dishwasher all wrong on purpose so I won't let him near it anymore? hmmm ). And although it's not one of her signature 30-minute meals, it was still pretty easy to prepare. Hungry? Is your mouth watering? Well then go get the ingredients and give it whirl!


3 T. sweet smoked paprika
3 T. grill seasonings (I used Montreal Steak Seasoning)
1 T. chili powder (feel free to add more if you like)
1 T. poultry seasoning
About 3 pounds of meaty chicken pcs. (I used chicken thighs)
2 medium onions, root end intact, quartered lengthwise
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, halved (quartered if they are a bit large)
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed of green fronds, then quartered (make sure to cut out the core sections)
1 head of garlic
1 pint of grape tomatoes (or you can use cherry tomatoes like I did)
Handful each of chopped fresh basil leaves and chopped parsley
Extra virgin olive oil (just have the bottle on hand)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together the paprika, grill seasoning, chili powder, and poultry seasoning. Then coat the chicken pieces with this spice mixture (the chicken will be a nice deep red color). Next, put the potatoes, onions, and fennel into your roasting pan. Sprinkle with enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the pieces, and season with a little bit of salt and pepper; toss well and spread evenly throughout the pan. Take the coated chicken pieces and lay it directly on top of the vegetables, positioning it towards the middle. Slice the top of the head of garlic off, sprinkle with some olive oil, and wrap it up in a piece of foil. Roast both the wrapped garlic and chicken for 45 to 50 minutes.

About 30 minutes into the cooking time, take a rimmed sheet pan (this is why it's not quite a one-pot meal) and place the tomatoes on it. Sprinkle with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast that too for about 15 to 20 minutes, just until the tomatoes burst. When the garlic and chicken are done take them out. While the chicken and veggies are resting, carefully unwrap the garlic. Trying very hard not to burn your fingers, squeeze out the garlic 'meat' and put into a bowl, then mash it up. Then mix in the roasted tomatoes, chopped basil and parsley. Serve the chicken on a bed of the roasted vegetables, and top with some of the garlic tomato 'salsa'.

Nothing else left to do but enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday: Debut Edition

This is my first posting for Wordless Wednesday, and I want to add something fun to it. The pictures I post here all have a story (usually a hiliarous one) to it, but instead of telling you that story, I'd love for you to tell me what you think would be a great caption for the photo(s). I know, it sounds like I'm asking you to do work. But hey, it'll be fun! So c'mon, join in!

In this photo Jeromy is about ten months old...

What do you think this photo 'says'? Please, do tell!

Cell Phone Case by Moda Bake Shop

I haven't had much luck finding a proper case for my new cell phone (see previous post). I wanted one that enclosed the entire phone, not just those gel skins that hugged the outer shell but didn't cover the face. And I'm not a fan of those plain black 'pleather' ones...not enough color on them. So my solution? Make my own! Thanks to the fabulous ladies at Moda Bake Shop I was able to find a great step-by-step guide on how to make one. I changed a few minor things: I decided to exclude the handle, I resized it a bit to fit my cell phone, and I used Velcro instead of a snap. I love that it's 'quilted', which provides some 'cushiness' and extra protection. It was relatively easy to make, I got all the fabric I needed from my scrap pile and used leftover batting. The only thing I really needed to buy was the Velcro. Simple and economical! Interested? Check out the instructions at MODA'S website. Have fun!

The panels cut and ready to be sewn...

The finished product.

No, it's not an accident that this color scheme matches my blog!

Phones, Laptops, and Drama..oh my!

This past weekend is what I would kindly describe as technologically challenging. Or, to put it in simpler terms, I caught a glimpse of Dante's seventh circle of H-E-double hockey sticks when both my Blackberry AND my laptop decided to act up all at once. Yea, a bit dramatic, right? It wouldn't have been had it not been compounded with the fact that this weekend was super-busy, plus hubby and I were trying to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary (though our actual anniversary is not until the 6th of August). This was supposed to be a fun-filled weekend darn it!

Our drama starts with my Blackberry Pearl, who had been my trusty assistant for the past almost-two years. She was a great tool, helping me stay connected to my cyber friends wherever I went. I discovered on Friday that she was starting to have problems charging, and by the next morning, she was done for. This initiated an impromptu trip to the T-Mobile store, where I found a replacement phone, all the while still mourning the loss of my Pearl. *TEAR* But, life must go on, right?

Saturday evening I find myself getting acquainted with my new Samsung touch-screen phone, while still sad about Pearl, of course. I have my laptop open and running in front of me as well, as I decide to test my phone's Bluetooth capability, when I noticed that the trackpad (the 'mouse' thingy on the laptop) is not functioning properly, and I can't click on anything on the screen. And yes my friends, call me melodramatic, but tears really did start forming in the corners of my eyes. This was NOT how I planned my weekend! A call to tech support Sunday morning revealed the obvious: it was a hardware issue. However, the tech support agent couldn't book me an appointment at the Apple Store's Genius Bar to get my MacBook fixed, as they were fully booked for the next three days. But, she said there would be no harm in just driving up there because they always have people who don't show up for their appointments. I wrangle the guys together and we head out, driving the 20 miles to the Mall. Now hang in there folks, it does get more interesting....

We get to the mall, run up to the top floor, and guess what we found? Can you guess? No? Ok, I'll tell you: a huge black wall where the store's doors are suppose to be, with a big painted sign indicating the store was closed for renovations and would reopen on August 8th! Wow, seriously?! Seriously! My next step, to call Apple tech support on my new phone to give them a serious piece of my mind, and ask WTH they couldn't tell me the store was freakin' closed BEFORE we drove up there. I sit on a bench right in front of the store and open up my laptop to look for the number, and guess what happened? Can you guess?! The darn trackpad now worked!! Apparently all I had to do was drive all the way up to the mall and sit in front of the magical Apple store so it could impart it's magical tech powers to cure my ill MacBook. I then decided it would be best to just pack it up, and just walk away quietly so as not to provoke another strike from the tech spirits. I figured hey, the darn thing is fixed, just be happy about it, and walk away. Karma right?

So that was my weekend... difficult, lots of drama, with a little mourning and crying mixed in, and through the whole thing hubby was incredibly supportive and patient, all while I endured my monthly nervous breakdown. Five years of marriage, and he has definitely developed a patience for my eccentricities...God bless that man!

How was your weekend?

Mad Skills

This is my first time posting for Small Talk Six Saturdays, so I hope you all like it! If you want to join in the fun, click on the button to the right and you'll be on your way...oh, but read mine here first!

"6 Talents I Wish I Possessed"

I always wished that I had my mother's beautiful singing voice.

For the life of me, I just can't seem to get the hang of
'driving with two feet' thing to drive a stick shift!

I've never had a knack for running, but I do wish I could run a mile
without having to stop and beg for oxygen!

I've always wanted to learn how to play the piano,
ever since I heard Beethoven's 5th.

I've always had a passion for writing, but I'm convinced the poetry muse is determined to ignore me forever. I would love to be able to add poet to my repertoire of talents.

I wish I had my mother-in-law's mad cake baking and decorating skills. I can bake a basic cake using boxed mix, and slap on some ready-made icing, but decorating a cake with panache and skill? Not quite yet!

What are your mad skills, or mad skills you wish you had?

We all have a Superhero in us...or 2...or 3...maybe 4?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you one of the most daring and brave superheroes of our time:
Mr. Incredible-Bat-Mighty Mouse-Jedi!

He possesses Mr. Incredible strength and the stealth of a Bat-Man....

along with the speed of a Mighty Mouse, and his trusty Jedi Light-Saber!

So watch out villains! A new Superhero is in town!

What's your inner Superhero?

Tasty Thursday: BLT Wrap

Last month I posted about a great foodie-find of mine, the whole-wheat 'Roll-Ups' made by the folks at Damascus Bakery. I am normally not a sandwich girl, and have only recently converted to becoming a wraps-lover. These wraps from Dasmascus have been absolutely wonderful as I embark on my 'lifestyle change' of getting in shape and eating healthier meals. Now, that being said, I will confess this: I LOVE BACON! I'm such a worshipper of delicious, crispy, fatty porcine meat! So what's a girl who's trying to lose weight do when the cravings for scrumptious bacon hits her? Here it is my friends: low-fat BLTs!

I took a whole-wheat Damascus Bakery wrap, and spread a super-thin layer of low-fat mayo on it. For those of you who aren't mayo fans, don't fear! These fabulous wraps are unlike anything else out on the market because they are SO moist, that you don't even need any type of dressing or mayo on the filling (unless of course the dressing/mayo is for flavor). I piled on a good amount of Boston lettuce (organic and hydroponic grown), crisp low-fat turkey bacon (again, lifestyle change my friends!), and some cherry tomatoes. I rolled it all up, and voila! A delicious, light, and best of all, low-fat and healthy lunch for a hot summer day in July!

Best Friends Forever

Ok, so I'm cheating a little bit today, because I'm basically "re-posting" this. I had originally posted this back in May as an installation in my 'Before & After' series, but something went wrong when I switched blog templates, and the formatting was irreparably damaged, and I lost all the comments. *tear* So here it is again, I hope you all enjoy it:

Jeromy was a big little toddler in diapers.
Daddy would watch Blue's Clues and Little Bear with Jeromy.
Daddy had longer, blonde hair.
They both loved to play together in the park.
Jeromy's favorite foods: chicken nuggets and french fries...oh, and rice!
They both loved to play wrestle.
Jeromy loved to crawl into Daddy's lap for a cuddle.
They were the best of friends!

Jeromy is an 8-year-old little big kid.
He and Daddy watch WWE wrestling, Phineas and Ferb, and Spongebob.
Daddy's blonde hair is shaved down very short.
They still both love to play together in the park.
They are both blue belts in mixed martial arts.
Jeromy's favorite foods: sinigang, noodles, pizza...oh, and rice!
He can't quite crawl into Daddy's lap anymore, but he still finds a way to cuddle.
Best of all, they will always be best friends!

"Caniculares Dies"

Latin for: "Dog Days of Summer"

I first introduced Shiloh in a post about a month ago, but for those new to my blog, she is the youngest and furriest member of our family. She is a 30-pound beagle, although she has been described by others as looking like an overgrown Dachsund because of her coloring. One of her favorite things to do is roll around in the grass in the backyard...especially after I've just given her a bath! Go figure... here are more photos of her, doing what she does best: acting like a lazy princess, sunbathing in the grass, and cuddling with her human Daddy!

Shiloh and her best friend, Jeromy

"Why do they bother with doggie beds and blankets when
all I need is this wonderful grass?"

"Don't you judge me human! You know you wish
you could frolic in the grass naked too!"

Nothing sounds as sweet as a Beagle baying...
you gotta own one to understand, trust me!

After a day of playing outside in the sun, she loves nothing more than
cuddling with my manly, Harley-riding biker hubby on the couch.

Dignity and Worth

"Christians recognize your dignity...
Christians recognize your worth."
- St. Augusta

This quote is one that Father Paul, a priest at our parish, has used in his sermons in the past few months. Yesterday's sermon at Mass was no different, except this time, I was actually paying attention...now come on, don't judge me! I know I can't possibly be the only one who spaces out at Church every once in a while....um, right? Anyway, this time around I really listened to Fr. Paul whilst he explained what St. Augusta meant, and it triggered a sort of 'self-examination' on my part. To put it simply, the quote means that we should all be living a life worthy of the sacrifices that Christ had made for us all, worthy of the indignities He suffered so that we may be saved. Of course, Fr. Paul explained it with a lot more eloquence and depth than I ever could, but that's the gist of it. I left Mass yesterday with such a feeling of inspiration, that I knew I needed to share it will all my friends here in the blogosphere. I think I may have just figured out what it means to lead a purpose-driven life, and I actually FELT what it means to be made in God's image. And y'all, it was such a powerful realization that it practically took my breath away! I mean, talk about feeling blessed and humbled, not to mention inspired to live a life of grace, humility, service, and gratitude. I want to be a wife, mother, sister, friend, and woman that is worthy of God's unconditional love, and Christ's immense sacrifices. Yea, I know, seems like a tall order, right? But it really isn't! Because for me, wanting it is half the battle, and with God's ever-present guiding hand, I know it's possible.

I don't have an exact plan formed just yet, but I do know that changes, however big and small, will be happening in my life, all because I actually paid attention at Mass yesterday. So boys and girls, pay attention... you never know when God is talking to you!

How have you been blessed lately? I'd LOVE for you to share with me!

Sandy Point

Being that it was Friday and it was hubby's day off, the guys and I decided to make an impromptu trip to the beach at Sandy Point State Park. It's not quite Ocean City, but for a last minute trip, it was perfect! We headed down right before lunch time in order to avoid the predicted storm system that would be moving in that afternoon, and after stopping at Mickey D's for a quick bite, we got to the beach to find that it was pleasantly not too crowded. We settled on a spot, spread out our blanket and beach chairs, and spent the next few hours swimming and playing in the sand. Jer and Daddy took turns burying each other in between swimming sessions, and Jer collected some cool rocks, shells, and a seagull feather to take home for 'science class'. When the clouds got darker and small raindrops started to fall, we figured we'd better get home before the rainstorm started. So for a totally impromptu outing, the guys and I had an awesome time!

"This looks like a good place to dig."

"The sand feels good on my belly!"

A very happy beach bum!

"Ahhh, this is nice and comfy."

*If you're wondering why these photos look the way they do, I had to do some creative photo editing using PICNIK since they were taken with my cell phone (yea, guess who forgot her camera?!), and the quality of the originals weren't that great.