December 23, 2009

Words for Wednesday

Helping the bravest men and women I know

For quite some time now I have wanted to send a care package to someone serving overseas. I finally made it happen this past week - I used It's an awesome site and has tons of addresses and requests from the soldiers for supplies, things to keep them entertained, snacks, etc.

I saw a request from a female soldier asking for make-up, not a necessity obviously, but just for fun. I have so many unused, brand new samples from gifts, that I thought it would be great to send a "girly" care package to the women soldiers. With my sister's help we got quite a collection of eye shadows and lipsticks. I also bought some lip glosses and a few color kits, with all sorts of eye shadows and blushes. We also heard they liked travel kleenex packs and wet ones, so we added those too.

I realize make-up is not a necessity, but thought it might be fun for them to get something out of the ordinary, a pure luxury item in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The other great part, the USPS recently announced a flat rate for any weight priority mail box when shipped to a military address. We had the box packed to capacity and it weighed a ton! But it only cost $10.35 to ship it.
                                                   All packed up!

It felt so good to, in some small way, help out the Military! They are so brave and fighting for our freedom every day, this was the least I could do.

December 20, 2009

In the kitchen: Enchiladas a la Ali

Yum and yum. This recipe was originally created by my sister, but I would have to say that I now make it more often than her and have definitely perfected it. :) Sorry sis! Besides having a HUGE love of Mexican food, this is also a special recipe for me because it is one of the first meals I learned how to make myself.
It’s very simple, but you definitely need to have a love for Mexican and beans!

Here's what you"ll need:
1 can refried beans
1 can enchilada sauce (I always use medium)
4-6 medium size tortillas
1 can sliced black olives (optional)
1/2 package taco seasoning
1/3 cup chopped onions
1/2 package (roughly) shredded mexican blend cheese
Sour cream, to taste
2 guacamoles
1 guacamole seasoning packet
Lemon juice, to taste
First, mix the beans, a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce (again, I use the special medium, very hard to find around here! I import it from Michigan usually :) or make the trek to Meijer in Schaumburg), dallop of sour cream, taco seasoning from packet (to taste), chopped onions and a small amount of the shredded cheese.

Next, spray a 9x9 pan lightly with non-stick spray, then begin spooning the mixture in each tortilla, roll then place in the pan, seam side down. I didn't use the full can of beans and only made four enchis, you can easily use a bigger pan and get 6 out of the recipe.

          Little beauty shot of my Le Cruset pan from, who else, my sister!

Now, bake for around 25 minutes at 350 degrees. If you love like black olives as much as I do, sprinkle them on the enchis around 5 minutes before you're going to take them out of the oven.
While the enchiladas are baking, I like to whip up the guacamole. Easy-peasy, but oh-so-delicious. Smash up two ripe avacados, sprinkle in the seasoning packet and add a dash of lime or lemon juice, then mix up until relatively smooth.

A lot of the time I do mexican rice with the enchiladas, but this time I just thought the carb overload wasn't quite necessary. Cooked up some peppers and onions instead.

Alright, this post has gone on long enough, here's the finished product!

Blooms in December

It’s so nice having flowers in the house, especially on a really dreary day like today! I’ve never planted any paper white bulbs until this year. My Mom and Sister have always done them, so this time I decided to get in on the fun too!

They’re really easy to force inside, you just need a few containers and some small rocks. Paper whites need the rocks around them so the growing roots don’t cause it to uproot itself. The best containers for this have no drainage; you need the water to constantly stay around the bulbs. Fill the bottom of the pots with rocks, then set the bulbs in and also cover them about halfway with the rocks. If you do use a pot with drainage (I used one normal pot with a hole) then start with dirt on the bottom and once you get closer to the top add the pebbles.

Here are some pictures of them growing! One of the containers I used was a glass jar from mandarin oranges, I thought it was really cool. You could see the roots as they grew.

                         Blooming! They make my entire living room smell great.

December 15, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like christmas

A few decorations that I put up for Christmas! Nothing too extravagant -- it's only my second Christmas away from home, so I haven't really built up my collection yet. Planning on making a few purchases at Target the day after to add to the stash. Since I don't have a tree, I opted for fresh Garland!

December 8, 2009

Must have . . . of these.

I don't know where it came from, but a few months back I began this obsession with English Bulldogs! And I won't stop 'till I get one of my own. Seriously. My sister and I are going to visit a breeder over Christmas in Michigan and I hope to have my hands on one come Spring. Just need to save some dough or ahem, get that promotion! I have been devouring bulldog books and frequently stalk for this cute little bully who lives on my street. I literally started taking walks up and down my street just so I could see this little guy. Anyway, wanted to share a few irresistible pictures of them.

         Look at this hunk of love....

           And one more, he fell asleep with his tongue out!! Am I the only one who finds this ridiculously cute and lovable?!

December 3, 2009

Sidewalk Planters: Holiday Edition

I enjoyed the fall planters, but these are even better!! Sorry, a couple are a little blurry from the camera on my phone. Gives me some good ideas for decorating around the house!

     Love this one outside Room & Board...

              One right outside my office

Antipasto for the kids

We had an International potluck at work to raise money for a charity we are sponsoring this year. It's called Off the Street Club and its located in Garfield Park, which is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America. I've had a chance to meet the kids on a few different occasions, they are the sweetest kids. Today is the cumulation of a year of effort, the big luncheon is over at the Hilton today. This is the website we created to help raise money for the kids.

But back to the potluck, here is what I brought in. Yum! I wish that I would have made more caprese, it was all gone pretty quick! It was $10 for anyone at the agency to eat lunch, we ended up making over $1000 dollars for the kids.

December 2, 2009

December 1, 2009

Big game tonight.

Headed to one of the many State bars in Chicago to cheer on my Spartans. In case you forgot, we lost to UNC in the championship game last year. Here's to the rematch...


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