Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas catch up

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with there loved ones enjoying there time together... and great food! Christmas Eve was a lazy lazy day in the Longley household. We lounged around in our PJ's all day playing with the dogs. My mom sent the dogs this tennis ball toy that they are in love with. Well Molly is obsessed with it and doesn't want to share it with anyone, including Ellie.

 I took about 134 pictures and 2 videos of the dogs playing with our neighbors dog Ally. I decided I wanted to turn some of the pictures into a movie. This was my first time doing something like this, so it took me about 3 1/2 hours to figure it out. Frank saved the day at the end since I couldn't figure out how to get it loaded up to youtube. I was in such a hurry because I wanted to email this to my mom so my family that was there could enjoy a little of Molly and Ellie on Christmas Eve :].

Our Christmas Eve dinner wasn't a traditional one, but it was homemade and delicious. I made my grandma Margarets spaghetti sauce and was planning to pair it with homemade bread sticks from FOR THE LOVE OF COOKING but I was in such a rush that I messed it up from the start. So instead I went the easy route and put some crescent rolls in the oven. Frank didn't mind the spaghetti sauce, but I know he prefers the plain kind we normally make. I'd love to make this one again for a special occasion.

Grandma Margaret's Spaghetti Sauce
1 Pkg Onion Soup Mix
1 Pound Hamburger, browned (any kind would work, I used soy meat.)
1 Can (8 oz) Tomato Sauce
1 Can (7 oz) Tomato Paste
1 Can Stewed Tomatoes
1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes
1 Tsp Basil
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tsp Oregano (I did a Tbsp of Basil and Oregano)
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 Cup Onion, chopped
Green & Red Peppers
Mushrooms, Fresh

Brown burger; remove from grease onto paper towel. Dispose of grease in pot. Return burger to pot. Add all other ingredients together with burger. Simmer until done. Serve over Spaghetti noodles.

Christmas Day we headed up North of LA to visit with Erik, Haysel and the kids. We haven't seen Erik since before he left for school way back in March I believe? Not quite sure exactly, its been a long time. It was really good to hang out with them, we've missed the Santacruz bunch! Even though we spent 6 hours total driving, it was worth it. I just wish I would have remembered to bake something yummy for them. Next time for sure.

Some time last week I made a BLACK BEAN TORTILLA PIE from Tasteofhome.com. I didn't take a picture since the pie pretty much fell apart when I took it out of the pan. I told Nick I would post the recipe since it's a healthy one, and it is amazingly good! I've been slacking with the recipes this last week... I've made lost of new and tasty stuff, maybe one day I'll play catch up with recipes!?

Ever since we got Ellie Frank and I have been wanting to get an SUV (well Frank wants to get a truck, but the dogs would have a heart attack being in the bed of a truck). We already know it will be at least another year or so before we can actually look into purchasing a new vehicle. However, that doesn't stop us from looking! Frank had already gone and looked at a few cars but yesterday I decided to tag along and get a feel for what's out there. The first dealer ship we headed too was Chevrolet to check out the Equinox. The amount of miles that car gets to the gallon was are draw in, but I was a little disappointed with how small the trunk area was. I figured what the heck I'll check out the Traverse while we're here. OH MY GOD I FELL IN LOVE!!! It's everything I'm looking for in an SUV. We took it for a test drive and I loved it even more (it would have been nice if there wasn't a huge sticker covering the passenger side). Things got a little tense when Frank decided he wanted a truck rather than an SUV after looking at the new Silverado. We did come to an agreement that whenever we get an SUV we wont be trading in the car, we'll sell it ourselves and Frank can get a cheap project car. I've been making him wait on a project car since we don't have the money and I'd rather we had a garage for him to store it and work on it. The dealer at Chevy said Frank should sell his bike so we could afford the Traverse. Frank looked at him like he was crazy. :]

I did want to keep my options open so we headed over to Toyota to look at the Highlander since that was another option we both really liked. Sadly I was really upset to see it in person. We spent all of about 5 minutes at the most looking at it. To make Frank happy I went and looked at the FJ Cruiser since he's been pushing it, but we were both surprised to see the trunk area was much smaller than it looked in pictures. So onto another dealership we went...
This time our next stop was GMC. They didn't seem to have many options so we only really looked at the Terrain and the Acadia. The Terrain was too small for me, but the Acadia was nice. Just a little to pricey for us poor foke! Then it was off to Jeep. This is where I knew it would get interesting since I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Grand Cherokee. In the end it came down to the Traverse and the Grand Cherokee, but after driving the jeep and comparing the two I decided on the Traverse. I still am in love with jeeps though ha.
 awww... I'm in love♥

We also decided that since the dogs will have the truck space just for them, we don't mind buying used. And since we aren't planning on buying a new car till the end of 2010 at the earliest we can probably get a good deal on a 2009 Traverse. I'm excited! hehe

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Bring My Soldier Home

What would I do without the Today Show? This morning a girl group whom i've never heard of was on with there song "Santa Bring My Soldier Home". I've heard many song's about the military and they've put video and pictures along with traditional holiday songs like "I'll Be Home For Christmas", but this one stood out for me.

I went searching for this group.. which I didn't even have there name right so it took a little while ha. Anyways you can download this song for free at SANTA BRING MY SOLDIER HOME, and if you have some free time?? You can take the song with your pictures and thoughts and make a video with it, then post it to there youtube account for all of us to cry over. The winning video will have there's shown on EXTRA TV!

You can also text a donation to the USO if desired.

I have two of the entries below because I couldn't decide which one I liked best... they all are amazing! Make sure to pass this link along, if you are affilated with the Military in anyway this song and the pictures really do hit home {and you may or may not cry watching all the videos submitted :]}.

What I love about this second video {and why I chose to put two up} is that they make sure to show the fine women of our country who stand along with the men serving for us. We can't forget about you ladies!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peppermint Meltaways

These are the last of my holiday treats I plan to make for Christmas {i'm secretly happy cause if I make anymore i'm going to balloon up!}, and I sure did leave some good ones for last. This was another recipe I found in the smart source coupons, so i'm sure there are other's similar floating around somewhere. I really can't describe how delicious these little suckers are. Thankfully they'll be gone to work with Frank tomorrow morning...

Peppermint Meltaways
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup Corn Starch

Glaze Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
2 to 3 drops red food coloring, if desired {I opted not to use some}
candy canes or hard peppermint candy, crushed

Combine butter, powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and cornstarch. Beat untli well mixed. Cover; refrigerate until firm (30 to 60 minutes).
Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let stand 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.
Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies. To make glaze, combine powdered sugar, butter, peppermint extract and enough milk for desired glazing consistency in small bowl. Stir in food color, if desired. Immediately sprinkle with crushed candy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Busy Bees

Sorry for being blogger MIA this past week, but as the title says... we've been busy! Before I get into everything you've missed out on I have to start with AVATAR.

If you have not seen this movie, or do not plan to see... change your mind and go buy a ticket! It was amazing. I had no desire to see it, in fact the first preview I saw for it I said "wow that looks stupid". The more previews I saw the more it looked interesting, but still not something I wanted to see. Then the other day while watching the 4th hour of the Today Show Kathy Lee and Hoda were talking about how they had seen the movie the night before. Neither of them thought they would like it.. however, they said it was unbelievable! You couldn't take your eyes off the screen the whole time in fear you'd miss something. There was a love story along with the script that isn't shown on previews. One of the big turn offs is the 2 hours and 45 minutes of sitting... you never even realize it's been that long by the time the movie is done. After hearing all that I knew I had to see the movie! ha If they liked it then I knew I would. The movie is showing in regualar 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D. I highly recommand you see it in IMAX 3D.. but not in the front row {we tried getting there early, we even preordered our tickets but we still got there just before it started and had to sit in the front row. Big bummer.} Frank and I enjoyed it just a tad..we plan to see it again around next pay day :]!!

Okay now to everything else... Last week I started volunteering at the food bank distrubution center. I've been wanting to work there, the animal shelter {still waiting to hear from them} and the USO. The food bank was the easiest to volunteer with since I just pick a date online and sign up for it. I worked 3 hours sorting foods to make sure they were good to be given out, and I learned some things about the things you can and can not donate. If a can or pop is dented they don't except it, any pills or vitamins are a no... and they take cleaning products. Did not know about that one. I signed up to volunteer again Monday i'm hoping to make it a weekly thing until I can find a job. I also went downtown and found the USO to fill out a volunteer application with them. They aren't filling any positions till after the new year.. so it's another wait and see.

All last week was beautiful and warm and I was dieing to take the dogs outside for a walk. Specificly Mission trails and Cowles Mt, but I bruised my leg up pretty bad and walking for long periods of time was out of the question :[ boo. The next few days are suppose to cool down a little and be cloudy, but I believe Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are going to be sunny and warm so i'm hoping we can take the dogs somewhere those days.

Speaking of dogs.. for Christmas I decided to make our friends dogs {and ours} some homemade dog treats. It really wasn't hard at all, but i've learned my lesson and will never make dog treats with peanut butter again! It was a horrible horrible mess. I thought it would be a good idea since Molly and Ellie love peanut butter so much...

this was the highlight of there day ha. I found the recipes at DOGTREATKITCHEN.COM, they are all easy recipes with few ingredients which is super nice. I made peanut butter with oatmeal...

and peanut butter with pumkin...
the dogs loved them, so i'm hoping all the rest of them like them as well.

BREAKFAST SKILLET from allrecipes.com.. who doesn't love breakfast for dinner? It's one of our favorites that's for sure. I did leave out the peppers and mushrooms.. and the bacon was just for Frank. I could go for some more of this right about now!
THAI SHRIMP LINGUINE from tasteofhome.com, the recipe called for thai peanut sauce but since I wasn't able to find any I used a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and housin sauce. It was very yummy :] and was just as good cold the next day.
Last night before rushing out to the movies we made GRILLED BLACKENED SALMON WITH PINEAPPLE MANGO SALSA from Fortheloveofcooking.net. There is no picture since we were in such a hurry, so make sure to check out Pam's picture and recipe. We really liked this salmon! I didn't however make a salsa since my mango had gone bad, so I just paired it with some canned pineapple (I was too lazy to buy a pineapple and cut it up) and a salad. If you make just the salmon with no salsa it's super easy, all your doing is mixing up some dry ingredients and sprinkling it over the salmon.

While cutting out coupons I found this Ginger Cookie recipe. I'm sure it's just like any random ginger cookie recipe, but since I got it with a coupon they use the product they are selling... I just used what I had :]
 You can easily gain about 5 pounds eating these things.. they are too good.
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar in the raw
1 egg
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar in the raw

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat butter and 1 cup of sugar in the raw (I ended up only having 1/2 cup of sugar in the raw, so I used cane sugar for the rest) until well mixed. Beat in egg and corn syrup until smooth. Stir in flour mixture. Chill dough 1-2 hours, or until easy to handle. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar in the raw. Place balls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes or just until golden around edges. Cool on wire racks.

Last thing since this post is full of random fun stuff. I FINALLY made my own all purpose cleaning product! I am so happy I finally got around to doing this, i'm in love :] hehe. I just used a recipe from Gorgeously Green...
32-ounce plastic spray bottle
2 cups water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure castile soap{I used citrus.. I was going for a certain smell}
3/4 cups hydrogen peroxide
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops of your choice essential oil. I went with lemon, in the book she recommands lemongrass but they were all out.

If you lasted until the end of this post... THANK YOU! Sorry that it's all over the place, I wasted about 2 hours with this now it's time to tackle the mess of dishes and finish up the ginger cookies.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Vegas baby!!

I am so excited January 19-21 we're taking a mini vacation to Vegas! Best part is the price... $23 a night to stay on the strip :] I always get emails from yahoo travel about the deals going on but I just look at them wishing and hoping.. well yesterday morning we were watching The Today Show and they had this lady on talking about all the good travel deals. And of course Las Vegas was one of them! We just thought "wow those are good deals", then I go check my email and there was an email from yahoo travel for.. VEGAS! We knew it was ment to be.

We had been planning a trip up to Oakland/San Francisco in February to see Jeff Dunham but after much talking and thinking... we decided Vegas would be MUCH cheaper. And its only 4 hours away instead of 7, I really liked that. I'm super excited for this trip!! One because it's actually in our budget ha, since we don't gamble or really drink it's going to be filled with lots of sightseeing. This is the first time Frank is going to vegas old enough to do anything, so i'm sure a few drinks are in order. It also will be nice being able to walk the strip without feeling like i'm going to die from the heat :] I would love to go back there in the summer though.. what can I say I LOVE hot weather!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mexican Rice

If you've been waiting on the edge of your seat from the last blog.. {humor me} then you're just dieing to know how dinner turned out. I made MEXICAN RICE CASSEROLE from For The Love of Cooking and it was delicious! I substituted the meat with a soy meat which got me a little worried since I hadn't used this type before. I did burn it a tad bit while trying to break it up, but you couldn't even tell in the casserole.

We ate this with tortilla strips and a little sour cream. If you needed a large dip for a get together, this would be a good one.

The other night I made SWEET 'N' TANGY SHRIMP from taste of home. It was really good, but I over cooked the shrimp so it threw off the whole meal. Next time I make it i'll be sure to have fresh shrimp instead of frozen. One thing I loved about this dish is that it was super easy to make and an easy clean up!

I uploaded some pictures of Molly, Ellie and Frank early and realized I had a picture of one of my favorite meals...

Yummy scalloped potatoes :] I use the recipe from the Costco cookbook and love love love it!! Just thought i'd share something good.

I give the dogs sticks of carrots every few days, they act like they are some amazing treat ha. If you notice in the backround Ellie is walking out of the room....

We found her half way hiding under the futon with her carrot ha You can't help but love these two dogs :]

Rain rain go away...

Today I was planning on going to that protest outside of Pet Works, however.... it was raining :[ So we decided to go back to bed with the dogs for a few hours. We really didn't have anything to do today so we just lounged around the house. It was quite boring!

Tonight was something I was pretty excited about, Christmas in the Village up at the La Mesa village. But it's still been raining on and off, and Frank is out looking at SUV's right now. We can't afford one but he still wants to look ha.

So far the excitment of my day was making a GERMAN APPLE PANCAKE from my Costco cookbook. I went through the cookbook looking for things I haven't made yet.. most of them are either meat or pastries. Since i've gotten better at baking i'm excited to try some of the goods :]!!

Tonight for dinner is a Mexican Rice Casserole from fortheloveofcooking.net, come back later to check out the casserole....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday night blues

Sorry i've been slacking on the blogging but i've been in a lazy funk all week. I'm pretty sure it's because of this nasty weather. The one day it was somewhat warm and not raining I should have taken advantage of it and taken the dogs for a walk. I did however get to do alot of cleaning in the middle of the afternoon that I normally don't get to do, since Frank is usually sleeping. His schedule is going to be back and forth for the next few weeks and he was back on days Thursday.

Today since Frank had the day off I got him to go to the gym with me :] it always is amazing the few chances I get to work out.. I love them! I'm hoping that once the weather gets better and Frank can start taking his bike to work, then I can drive in to 32nd street in the morning and he can meet me to work out. We shall see!!!

While I was working out I practically wrote the whole blog in my head. Now, I can't remember a thing. Hey at least it's something for y'all to read.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pet Works Protest

For those of you in the San Diego area.. or to anyone who may stumble upon this in the area, head over to Pet Works at the Grossmont Shopping Center in La Mesa every Saturday from 11-12:30. They hold a protest {a peaceful and legal} protest outside of Pet Works. They are trying to stop them from buying there dogs from puppy mills. I found this out a few months back from Ashley {that they get there dogs from puppy mills}, and then a few weeks ago Mikey told me there was a protest outside of the pet store. I thought it was a one time thing, but I just saw online that it's a weekly thing. I am hoping to take Molly and Ellie there this Saturday.

To learn more about it go to HERE to check it out!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Balboa Park December Nights

Saturday was a busy busy day for Frank and I! We were planning on going to Torrey Pines for a walk, but decided to check out one of the three outlet malls near us. I really wasn't wanting to drive up to Carlsbad so it was between the Viegas Outlet Mall in Alpine or Las Americas Premium Outlet at the border. LAS AMERICAS OUTLET MALL is the largest and looked to be the nicest, so we headed south of the border! {If you've driven through the Carolina's you know what i'm talking about}. We should have been smart when we decided to go to Las Americas, we were not. The exit you take to get to the mall is the last US exit so right there makes it a busy one, and being the holiday's does not make it any better. We've already decided that next time we go down there we'll be going back roads.
Once we FINALLY got off the freeway we started getting a little worried that the picture of the mall was just a trick to get you there. The area wasn't horrible or anything, it just didn't match up with the website. After driving about a mile at the most from the off ramp we made it to the outlet mall. If you plan a trip to San Diego you MUST go to the outlet mall in San Ysidro! It was so nice, and HUGE. We were there a few hours and didn't even see the whole mall. Chelsea Premium Outlet's sure know where to put there malls to make good money. Las Americas Outlet is right on the border so alot of people coming from Mexico just park on there side of the border then walk over into the US and go to the mall.. shoot i'd do the same! ha I can't wait to go back there with money :] But we want to check out the other two outlets first.

When we got home we had planned to just sit back and relax with the dogs for the night.. well that didn't happen ha. I had heard about BALBOA PARK DECEMBER NIGHTS during the week, but didn't think much of it since I thought it was yet another thing we couldn't afford to do. To my suprise MIKEY had posted something about it on her myspace that I saw when we got home. She told me it was a free event they had thought about going to do. We heard about it at 4:00PM and it closed at 10:00pm, so at 5:00 we headed out to Balboa. We left the dogs at home since we wanted to check out the museums {they were all free for the two nights!}. We drove around the park for about 30 minutes trying to find a parking spot and gave up. Frank said we could take the bike out there since we could hook the helmets to the back seat so nobody could take them. So back home we went to change into our riding gear. This time we got a spot right by the entrance as soon as we got there.. it's nice to be able to fit into tiny little spaces!

We had a good time, and we were glad we made it. We both were happy we never paid to go to the museums because they weren't that great.. maybe it's because i've been to ones in New York and DC so my standards are higher?? Who knows, either way we were glad it was all free.

Some of my pictures didn't turn out that great, but here are a few from the night....

This was one of my favorite parts of the whole event, they had trees decorated for each state. Not only did that room small sooo good! ha All the trees looked so cool.

No state, I just liked it.


Hawaii {my favorite!}


California {Of course the biggest ha}


Washington {Yes covered in coffee ha}

And the best for last.. Wyoming

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cowles Mountain

Today Frank and I took the pups over to Cowles Mountain for a good hike. This was Frank's first time going since he was working when I took my mom and Mikey. He really liked it, but would have loved it more if he was able to run up it. I made him stop about a dozen times so I could take pictures.. and BREATH! ha I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to make it to the top because I really wasn't sure how far up it was. Before we knew it we made it to the top!! Once we got up there it was unbelievably beautiful. You get a 360 degree view of San Diego County, and Mexico.. if you can tell. We did run a little here and there on the way down, but it was a little hard at times since I was trying not to fall and break a limb.

Friday, December 4, 2009

4 day weekend

Last night Frank should have had off, and to make it even better he was at work late this morning. However.... he gets a 4 day weekend! YAY. I'm not sure who's more excited about, me or him ha.

Yesterday I made some chocolate chip cookies :] I used my Grandma Margarets recipe that i've been told was fantastic.. but I wasn't so sold on them. I'm going to make them again probably in January, I want to do 2 more holiday desserts first. I wasn't able to sift the flour since my sifter was being washed at the time and I used whole wheat flour rather than white flour. So I believe those two things are what made the cookies just.. okay. This was my first time cooking with shortening and because of that I knew nothing about it. I like my cookies soft and later found out that the shortening makes them crunchy. So i'll be making them with butter next time.

I made the large batch since I was having Frank take them to work. I could have made the medium batch and still would have had plenty for Frank to take. He took a large ziploc bag full of cookies to work last night and I still have another large ziploc bag full.. time to start giving them away!

Small   Medium   Large
   1       1 1/2        2         Cups Shortening
  3/4     1 1/4      1 1/2     Cups Sugar
  3/4     1 1/4      1 1/2     Cups Brown Sugar
   1       1 1/2        2        Tsp Vanilla
  1/2       3/4         1        Tsp Water
   2          3          4         Eggs
  2 1/2   3 3/4       5        Cups Flour-Sifted
   1        1 1/2      2        Tsp Baking Soda
   1        1 1/2      2        Tsp Salt
   1        1 1/2      2        Pkg Chocolate Chips
   1/2       3/4       1        Cup Nuts (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

The last two pans that went into the oven were Frank's.. creations. Anytime he helps me cook, or when he's making pancakes he likes to make everything BIG for himself ha. So he made the last few cookies jumbo size. One of which was a heart he made for me :] He's so sweet.