January 29, 2011

Man meal

I made biscuits and gravy for the first time in my life today.

Todd's friend Mike is in town for the weekend to help him teach hunter's safety.  I thought I'd make a nice, hearty man meal for them before they spent the day talking guns, shooting, and all the other things covered in a hunter's safety class.

I read over a couple recipes (mostly The Pioneer Woman's which I modified slightly) to get the general idea then went to work.

The Pioneer Woman doesn't put the sausage in her gravy, something I wanted to do.  So, I changed that.  I also used mostly skim milk and smaller biscuits to help cut back on the bad-for-you-ness of the meal.  That is the predominate reason I have never made biscuits and gravy: the amount of fat and salt in this meal makes it good for a special occasion breakfast only.

And, I know this is a weird reason, but I also never made it because it just seemed difficult in my mind.  I couldn't make the gravy part work in my head for some reason.  I remember seeing Linds H. make it at her house once and I was super impressed.  For some reason, this was a meal only my grandmas and aunts made...

It came out pretty good for my first time, but it was WAY too salty!  I thought I had accommodated for the added salt the sausage would add to the gravy, but I miscalculated.  I had to go back and dilute it with more milk.  After that it wasn't bad...

I also made this egg and green chile casserole which came out very, very good.  It was its inaugural run as well.  We all really liked it.  This will be a keeper.

The guys ate then headed out, bellies full and ready to face the day!

Here's the egg recipe.  Give it a try...  If you like eggs you'll really like this!

Egg and Green Chile Egg Casserole
Cooking spray
2 tbsp. butter, melted
5 large eggs, beaten (You could probably use egg beaters here with no problem. I may experiment with that in the future.)
1 cup fat-free cottage cheese (I wondered how this would work in the casserole, but it turns out just dandy!)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
One 4-oz can diced green chiles
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a small casserole dish with the cooking spray. (Isn't my new casserole cute?  I got it last weekend in Boulder, Colo., at World Market!  I was very excited to make the eggs in it this morning!)

In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, cheddar, chiles, flour, baking powder, salt, and butter.

Pour into the prepared casserole and bake until set in the middle - about 35 to 40 minutes.

Todd's comment: "Wow! These eggs are good! Very light and fluffy!"

Just a little testimonial on how good the casserole is.

January 26, 2011


Once upon a time, I had my ears pierced.

I didn't get this done in elementary, junior high, or high school like most girls.  I got my ears pierced when I was well into my 20s.  There was no real reason for waiting so long...  I just simply never got it done.  After a while I'd already gone so long I didn't really feel the pressure or need to have my ears done.

Then, one day, I decided I did.

My friend Carrie got me a gift certificate for the typical Claire's mall piercing and I delighted in all the funky, fad-dy, fun earrings I could wear.  And then everything went terribly wrong.  My ears flared up.  They were hot and red and, um, draining - delicately put.  I also think the angle of the hole in my right ear was off.  I had the most difficult time getting an earring in!  I almost couldn't.

Finally, I gave up.  My ears were rejecting earrings.  I must be allergic to something I heard a few times over.  So, I stopped trying, got rid of my trendy collection of ear jewelry and let my ears close.

The problem was, I liked the look of earrings on me.  I think it suits my face somehow.  And a few years later I started wanting them pierced again, but was afraid to take the leap.  Then last year, in Oklahoma City for a work trip, I saw a pair of delicate silver and turquoise earrings and I couldn't help myself.  I bought them after holding them up to my ear.  I loved how they dangled so gently next to my neck.

That was it.  I had earrings...I was going to get the job done.

For Christmas, Todd got me a gift certificate to get my ears pierced at a tattoo and body piercing shop downtown.  I'd previously mentioned that if I ever got them done again I would never have a 15 year old girl get a hold of my lobes.  I wanted someone experienced.  

Over the weekend, I found a pair of pretty crystal studs and a couple nights ago Todd and I walked down and I got them clicked.  There I was, sitting in the chair talking to a tatted guy with an eyebrow piercing while raging death metal screamed in the background.  I was pretty out of place.

But in minutes it was done and I love their look!  I hope they take this time and I can't wait to mix it up!  Only problem this time: my ears will be a little more pricey.  No more cheap Claire's for me.  At least not for a while.

I'm so classy with my workout fleece and sparkly studs, aren't I...?

January 19, 2011


Todd and I are convinced drug dealers have a new way to mule cocaine: In the form of these Country Time Lemonade candies.

Seriously folks, one hit and your hooked.

We first discovered them at the auto shop Todd takes his work truck to.  There was a bowl of assorted candies on the counter and we each chose one of these lemonade candies.

Holy cow!

They aren't like your every day, run of the mill lemon drop - which, don't get me wrong, I love.  Instead, they are like little disks of concentrated Country Time.  You can actually taste the sunshine that made those lemons ripe (if they were made with real lemons, that is).

Of course, we grabbed our candies as we were headed out the door and didn't realize the goodness until we were eating them in the truck - too late to go back and grab the rest.

The thing is: these candies can NOT be found at the store!  At least not at the stores I shop.  They've been on my grocery list for a month.  I check every time I go to the store.

No luck.

Todd and I have each craved them after that first experience and agree they must be laced with some illicit drug.

I was in Cheyenne last week for a conference and when I came home there was a Country Time candy on the dining room table.

"Where did this come from??!!" I yelled.

Todd had gone to the shop and brought one back for me.  Isn't he the best??  Or maybe he's just helping to support my habit.

Either way, I was strong.  I resisted temptation. I wanted to save it to satisfy a really strong craving for them.

Which, after writing this, is right about...now.

January 18, 2011

Cold fish

Yesterday, I went ice fishing for the first time in my life.

There is a reason I've never gone: It sounds totally miserable!  Sitting in the bitter cold and wind...waiting...waiting... ... ... ... waiting...  Nope. That's just not for me.

But Todd, as you may guess, is a big-time ice fisherman.  He's from Wisconsin - it's in his blood!

When Todd and I were first dating he asked if I ice fished.  I gave an emphatic, "No way, Jose!" Then he told me he does it differently.  No sitting on buckets staring at a hole - another part of the miserable image I had in my head.  He has a shanty and uses heaters.

The idea dropped a notch on the misery meter.

Todd spends a lot of time working the lakes outside town and has gotten to know some folks, like, the family that owns basically the only gas station/convenience store in the area.  And it was this family we went with.

The other reason I've been hesitant to ice fish?  The ice.  I kind of freak out about going through it and dying in the icy depths below.  Todd again tries to assure me that it's at least 8 inches if not 12 inches thick and nothing's going to happen...but still...you never know.  And since we also didn't know exactly how far we were going out we loaded the 4-wheeler to head out on the ice.  I did it.  But I had to do some breathing exercises...

Fortunately, we didn't have to go too far.  We got off the 4-wheeler and Todd started drilling holes...

I got down to business pulling out the important stuff...

Nothing compliments ice fishing better than champagne!

So Rigby would have a place to warm his paws we brought his old mat and put it on the lid of the storage bin...

A quick view of where we were...

Ok, back to the real business at hand...clearing the holes of slush and ice...

A bite!  Doesn't Todd just look quintessential Wisconsin?

The big guy fought hard for a while.  Todd plunged his hand into the icy waters a couple times to try to bring him in...

The first fish of the night!  Yes, I said night.  We didn't get going until about 4 p.m. and we stayed out there until about 10 p.m.!  This Rainbow Trout was 20 1/2 inches!

Rigby was very intrigued by the fish's flopping...

Chase and Marty and their daughter Dawn joined us.  Todd asked them to bring a grill and they brought a full one!  We were thinking Coleman...they brought a grill master!  haha...

Here's my fish.  I hardly had to do anything to bring it in.  It fought a lot less than Todd's.  I only had to wind the reel a couple of times and bloop!  There he was!

Todd set up his shanty - which is huge and can easily fit six people - and the heaters and we warmed up while we sat listening to the weird growling/thumping sound of the ice growing.  I didn't know what it was and Todd told me it was the mermaids bowling.

I liked that idea better.

Would I go again?  Yep!  But I think I'd prefer the daytime!

January 10, 2011

Pampered puppy

For Christmas Rigby got a couple doggie beds.

Before that he had been sleeping on what had to be the most uncomfortable mats.  We'd looked and looked for beds but didn't like anything we'd seen.  Some were just out of the question, like the beds with the faux wool.  His hair would get in that and never, ever, ever get out.

Some we just couldn't justify the price for what we were getting.  Some were too small, some too large.  Most couldn't be easily cleaned...

Then, last year we saw a bed a friend of a friend had made.  It was perfect.

The outside was made of a canvass-like material on one side and a fleece on the other...

It velcroed at one end and the inside bag pulled out so you could easily wash the outside.  The inside bag was filled with real wool that was cleaned and processed at a Wyoming company, Mountain Meadow Wool.  They're a premier provider of locally sourced, naturally processed, mountain merino and mountain merino blend yarns and products located in the small town of Buffalo.

Done.  After looking and looking we decided we'd much rather give our money to two Wyoming businesses than some large manufacturer and not even like the product. 

Rigby immediately took to the beds like a duck to water.

He. Loves. Them.

And we do too!

Heather makes them in various sizes, gives you complete choice over what fabric colors used, and is very reasonably priced.

If you're looking for a dog bed, may I suggest Heather Harlan with Comfortwool Pet Beds, 307.738.2667 or lonebearwy@gmail.com. 

Some action shots of the bed in use...

January 7, 2011

Court t.v.

I went to court today.

Not because I did anything really wrong - like the girl who took one look at the judge and was upset because he's the one, "she gets every time!"  Or the guy who didn't show up for his drug tests, missed probation, and a host of other things that landed him in cuffs and a nice police escort.  These are just examples of the packed courtroom.  Apparently, Friday is a big day at the ol' Municipal.

Nope.  I am clearly not like those folks.  I was the nicest dressed, most innocent looking person in the courtroom - and I stuck out like a sore thumb.  

So, what did I do?

I slid on a patch of ice a few weeks ago and rear ended a pickup.  This landed me a "following too closely" ticket, which I was hoping to dispute. I have a great - I mean GREAT - driving record compared to most.  I've never received a speeding ticket in the 17 years I've had a license!  I do NOT want this ticket on my record.

So, I stressed last night about what I was going to say to the judge.  I looked up the Wyoming statute I apparently violated.  Todd and I looked up the historical weather data for the day of the accident and the day before.  We did this because I disagree with the officer's accident report which stated the roads were dry and there were no environmental circumstances that could have contributed to the accident.

Bull-hooey!  Casper got over seven inches of snow the day before! That was only one of the things I was trying to figure out how to say last night without using the word bull-hooey.

I was so caught up in laying out my argument I couldn't sleep.  At about 12:30 a.m. I finally gave in and marched upstairs to pop a Nyquil gel cap.  Then I got up early this morning and worked diligently on my talking points, going over them with Todd who, as a law enforcement guy himself who goes to court time to time, coached me on better ways to word things.

I got dressed in my best black slacks, a nice shirt and black belt and heels and took myself to court ready to plead my case.

I panicked when I discovered this wasn't the type of court hearing I was so ready for.  It was an arraignment. I wasn't going to get a chance to tell my story.  The judge, who I genuinely believe is a nice guy (he treated everyone nicely - even the guy that got cuffed), made it clear this wasn't the time to launch into an elaborate defense.

I didn't know what to do.  When I was called to the podium and asked how I wanted to plead - I had no idea.  So, I admitted it.  I told the judge I didn't know what I should do.  I tried not to babble about my wonderful driving record and how I had been hoping to present my side so it wouldn't show up and affect my insurance.  I sounded pathetic.  And stupid.  Both of which I normally hate seeming, but in this case I was at his mercy.

As a judge he can't advise me, but I kind of got the sense he wanted to.  He gave me a look that was so sorry for me.

He explained my options: Plead guilty or guilty no contest and I pay a fee and my infraction goes on my driving record.  Plead not guilty and it goes to trial.  I didn't want to bother with this.  It just doesn't seem worthy of a trial.   Particularly when I have no witnesses or anything.  He told me the fee for the ticket was about $120 and that he typically stays close to that.

I literally stood there debating for a long, quiet-in-the-courtroom minute as all the horrible offenders who seem to know all the ins and outs of the court and the legal jargon stared at my back.

Finally, the judge said, "Miss Sears. If you really don't know what to do, you could buy yourself some time by pleading not-guilty, we'll set a trial date, and if you decide before the date you don't want to go to trial you can simply pay the fine."

"Ok.  I plead not guilty, your honor."

So...now I have a trial Feb. 14.

How romantic!

January 2, 2011

Out with the old

Good bye 2010, hello '11.

I'd share some photos of our New Year's Eve except...Todd and I didn't take any!  I can't believe it.

We had delicious Thai food downtown at Lai Thai with our friends Jeff and Linda.  Then we went to their place and had drinks, snacks and played games.

In keeping with my family's tradition, we turned on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve and watched the ball fall in Times Square.

It was pretty low key, but a lot of fun!

The rest of the weekend was also low key, but there were a couple highlights:

First, I got this - a salad spinner!

I used to make fun of Linds H. for having one, but I have since eaten my words.  I use heads of lettuce instead of the pre-washed and bagged stuff and it is a pain to wash the lettuce and get it dry.  I've been wishing for this for a long while and we finally got one!  2011 is going to be a great salad year!

Secondly, we made my favorite sandwich in all the world - and one of my most favorite meals ever - today for lunch.  Salmon with cream cheese, tomatoes, onions and capers.  Only we didn't put it on a bagel.  We used some brown bread I'd made for our New Year's Day lunch.

There is no place in Casper to get this sandwich, so my only resort is to make it.

I savored every...last...bite.


One of my resolutions?  To beg Bagel Makers from Cheyenne and Laramie to put a location in Casper.

Happy new year!  

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