Saturday, August 31, 2013

Don't miss it, don't even be late

Today I went to the state fair with my friends Pami and Nancy. I purposely drove separately, knowing I'd be all faired out long before they were. They go together each year and have a long list of exhibits and booths to visit. I like to check out just a few things and then be done with it.

Sometimes I associate fairs with headaches, because I remember going as a kid and probably getting dehydrated after being in the heat all day, spinning on rides. Fairs aren't my favorite place to be, but in small doses they can be pretty fun. I no longer want to go on the rides, but I like seeing the different animals and checking out some contests (and, okay, maybe wondering aloud what the judges were thinking when they picked certain winners).

I did have a fun time, but I have to admit that one of the highlights of my afternoon was coming home. My feet were sore (this morning I was like, "Oh these sandals will be fine!"), my outfit was uncomfortable, and I had put in over 10,000 steps in the heat. (Oregon heat, which is wimpy compared to many states--my tolerance has lowered since moving here.) Walking through my door with the knowledge that I could change into soft clothes, drink iced tea and hang out on my new couch was an awesome feeling. Relaxation is so much better when it's earned, like eating a delicious meal when you're really hungry.

Speaking of hungry, I am! I'll post more fair photos another time.

Did you go to your local fair this year? What's your favorite exhibit?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I haven't intentionally taken a blogging break, but after my 7-day posting spree, I guess I got a little burnt out. (Burned out?) I'm still not in much of a blogging mood, but I might as well ease back in with a little update on the shallower parts of life.

Lately, I've become a TV addict. I don't actually have any traditional TV service, but Netflix is serving me well. Watching something during meals has stretched into watching several somethings in the evening and on weekends. When I first started watching Drop Dead Diva, I was only semi-into it and felt like it could be improved. Now, more than 4 seasons in, I'm wishing I could be roommates with the characters. I will definitely miss it when it's over. The show is a little like Ally McBeal and Legally Blonde combined. It has its flaws, but I've grown attached to it. You might want to check it out (as long as you aren't a lawyer or work in that field--the inaccuracies would probably drive you crazy).

I've also just started watching Revenge. It's not my usual style, but I'm intrigued, and it's set in the Hamptons with lovely scenery.

What are you watching? As always, I welcome Netflix recommendations.

[My old couch - farewell!]

[Greetings, new couch!]

As 99% of you already know, I bought a new couch! I've never had a new one, and mine has needed replacing for quite awhile now. I kept putting it off, but came across a good deal with free delivery and went for it (after visiting it three times before deciding :P). My old one has served me well, and has been in my family for more than twenty years. I was getting tired of adjusting the cushions and falling through gaps, though. Plus, the look of it is outdated (though it was the coolest back when my parents bought it). My new couch is a more neutral shade of chocolate brown, and the best part? Recliners on each end! Being a couch potato is sooo much easier now!

I should note that the whole couch process went very smoothly and I'm so thankful. Part of the reason I never replaced mine was because I didn't want to deal with the logistics. But between free delivery from the store and free pickup (for my old one) from Union Gospel Mission, it all worked out. Both sets of couch movers were very nice and cheerful despite having to maneuver a couch around tight corners and on stairs.

Recently, I tried a couple of new recipes. One was my own version of Chicken Piccata. I combined some different ideas and ingredients to create a delicious and untraditional version of the dish. The chicken was AWESOME. I brined it first, which I hadn't done before, and I think that worked with other factors to get a very tender and flavorful end result. I prepared a lemon cream caper sauce and the chicken was served over mashed potatoes. Whenever I've ordered Chicken Piccata at The Cheesecake Factory I've had them sub the pasta for potatoes, and I think it works very well with the dish.

I was also able to make use of some of the large, sweet blackberries around my neighborhood. I still have some in the freezer from last year, so this time I decided to make something with the freshly-picked berries right away instead of putting it off. After a little looking, I decided on this cobbler recipe that had good reviews and basic ingredients. It was very easy, and the end result was delicious--not only when fresh out of the oven with ice cream, but room temperature by itself.

My reading life has been a little rocky. I have started several books that I didn't enjoy enough to finish, and finished a couple that were just okay. However, I just picked up five new audiobooks from the library yesterday, so I'm excited to dive into them after I finish my current one. I'll never finish all five before they're due, but hopefully I can renew some, and I'm betting one or two aren't worth listening to anyway. Still, I feel like road tripping just to have lots of book time!

This was the sunrise the other day. Kind of nice.

Happy anniversary to my parents on Thursday! :) 43 years. They won't see this since they're camping, but maybe when they get back.

This weekend I'm headed to the state fair, so I may have some photos to post later. Bye!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Spaghetti Casserole

Happy 7th day of posting for 7 days! I win! And now for a recipe post, since I haven't done one in quite awhile.

I'm going to do something that often annoys me about some recipe blogs: I'm going to talk fondly about the dish before I post the recipe.

I'm sure I'd had this casserole at church potlucks before, but the earliest time I remember eating it was during one of the most memorable weekends I experienced as a teenager. My dad used to organize a weekend retreat in Tahoe for interested adults at our church. I don't remember how this all happened, but one of the years many of our family friends were planning to go, leaving lots of kids (mostly teens) parentless for the weekend. We had a large swimming pool at the time, and it was decided that the kids were welcome to come stay at our house. It sounds funny now that I think about it: imagine 10 (give or take) teenagers spending a summer weekend together unsupervised. Parents sent their kids over with food, money and overnight bags, and we had an awesome time swimming, talking, ordering pizza and basically having a big coed slumber party. Don't worry, it was all fairly innocent--I wasn't a party girl, and I was kind of in charge much of the time. I think my older sister was working, or maybe it was after she moved out. (Do you like how I said this was a memorable weekend, but now I can't recall the details?) I remember swimming in the middle of the night, and one kid, Mark, thought it was a good idea to cannonball into the pool at 3am.

Anyway, my friend Dania brought over a 9x13 of this spaghetti casserole that her mom made. It was so good! I remember heating up squares of it for various meals during the weekend. If lasagna and spaghetti had a child together, it would look something like this, except smaller at birth. At some point I got the recipe and half-memorized it before losing it. Dania just re-sent it to me, and I see it's a little different from how I made it in the pictures, but it's pretty much the same idea. Alter as you wish. I'll put my added comments in non-bold.

Here are the ingredients. This picture is helpful, otherwise you wouldn't know what the ingredients looked like!


1 lb hamburger (I used 1.25 lb of ground turkey)
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can condensed cream of tomato soup (Campbell's doesn't make this anymore
--interesting!--and I used 2 cups of pasta sauce instead)
1 soup can of water (I didn't do this, but I did add about half a cup of leftover chicken broth I wanted to use up.)
1 mashed clove garlic
1 cup cheddar cheese grated (Oh please--I used at least two cups!)
1/2 lb spaghetti cooked according to package directions (I used the full 1-pound box, and I didn't use the package directions ;))
I also added a small can of sliced olives (drain the juice, obviously)


Brown hamburger, onions and bell pepper. Add soups, can of water and garlic. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and the cooked spaghetti. Place all in a 3-quart casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

I was SUPER HUNGRY by the time this came out of the oven, so it's kind of amazing I even took this picture.

Cut that bad boy into squares and enjoy. It's great reheated, and I imagine it freezes well, too.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

No Subject

Just two more posts (including this one) until I've fulfilled my goal of seven posts in seven days. It hasn't been overly challenging, but I can't imagine doing it beyond seven days, or attempting this several times throughout the year. I've actually had to make my blog a priority this week and take time for it each evening after work, when normally I would just post when I felt like it. I knew it would be over in a week, though, so it wasn't overwhelming. I think there's a 30-day blog challenge going around right now, and my initial response to seeing a friend was doing it was something along the lines of NO, THANK YOU.

This morning started off pretty rough. I had a bad dream involving my little niece N witnessing something horrific, and I woke up feeling very angry and upset about the fact that people of all ages have traumatic events in their real lives, not just in my dream. These are the times when I feel anxious and over-protective, and I wonder how parents manage. Don't those fears (and the actual events) freak you out?

I was also frustrated to wake up too early after what my Fitbit tells me is 6 hours and 9 minutes of sleep. On a Friday night, that's ridiculous. All week I look forward to getting a proper night's sleep and waking up naturally on Saturday morning, so when I am unable to take advantage of the open schedule, it gets on my nerves.

So you don't think this entire entry will be whiny ranting, I do feel a little better now that the dream has faded and I've read about 50 pages of a light-hearted book. I was convinced that my first waking moments would set the tone for the entire day, but now at least I'm not entirely convinced. ;)

In other news, I was surprised at how much you guys liked the cat post! I got more comments and emailed responses to that than usual.

Also, thanks again to those of you who comment on my posts (whether in actual comments or in emails), cats or no. I really appreciate it. I tried to catch up on some responses recently, so check back on those posts if you want to read them. Sometimes I will see old entries and realize I never responded to some comments and I feel badly. I know how it bothers me when some of my comments go unacknowledged, so I hate making others feel like that. Apparently I don't hate it enough to change, though--many of you are probably remembering the emails I've yet to answer.

Okay, I have no idea what my point was here, but have a great Saturday and I'll see you tomorrow!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Throwback Friday

[My mom next to her new Jeep (that she doesn't have anymore) in August of 2006. This was the oldest August photo I could find without too much effort. Hi, Mom!]

On Instagram there's a trend called Throwback Thursday where people post an old photo. It's Thursday when I'm writing this, but I know you won't see it until Friday, so that explains the title. Aren't you glad to know?

I was struggling to come up with something to post, so I decided I was going to look back in my journal and tell you what August 2nd has been like in years of Jessica past. I don't know what I'll find yet, so I'll comment as I go. Ready?

August 2, 2012: I was pretty sick last year at this time. I forgot about that! But on the 2nd I had improved, though I went to the doctor on the 3rd.

August 2, 2011: This year I was still getting over my ear infection and talked to the NP over the phone. What is it about this time of year that makes me sick? But on the bright side, I went to Padington's with Tina that day. :D

August 2, 2010: According to my journal, I felt "Mondayish" this day. And guess what? I had a doctor's appointment! August is a very doctory time for me. No wonder I don't consider it a great month. I am now reminded that I felt all paranoid about my health, and that helps me feel grateful that I am less paranoid lately. Even though I still struggle with knowing when to see a doctor, I am not experiencing the same anxiety about it that I had back then. Yay!

August 2, 2009: This day I went to Bush Park and took pictures, including the above. No doctor's appointments, thank goodness.

August 2, 2008: I went to the Portland zoo with my friend Dan and took this picture, which Dan and I still joke about because of the little kid-finger in the corner. Now we hold our finger out anytime we want to offer it up as a perch to an animal of any kind--bird, butterfly, deer, etc.

August 2, 2007: My niece J was adopted this day! I don't even know if it's okay to post this photo--R? I can take it down if not. R took it and it's SO ADORABLE how she's signing the paperwork to be officially adopted. She was almost 3.

I also got a misdialed text message that said, "God is going 2 shift things around 4 u tonight & let things work in ur favor. just believe in him." It was meant for someone's brother who had a similar cell number to mine. I went ahead and let myself believe maybe it was no accident. :)

August 2, 2006: For some reason my friend Serena and I declared this day Blue Sky Holiday, per the song Bad Day by Daniel Powter. I also was feeling "good, spiritually," apparently.

August 2, 2005: Wow, I was not having a good day. All of my journal entries are full of frustration and discouragement. That wasn't my happiest year. I was also housesitting this day.

August 2, 2004: I was living in New Hampshire with my sister's family at this time, and apparently we went on a hike this day. I do remember the hike, but of course I didn't remember it was August 2nd. Thanks again, R, for letting me come live with you for a couple of months! You're a nice sister.

August 2, 2003: My sister D was supposed to have a garage sale, but it was raining and it didn't happen. She had a Partylite candle party later that evening, and afterwards my then-boyfriend and I watched Phonebooth with my sister and brother-in-law. It was a pretty good day.

August 2, 2002: This day I was talking about my fascinating coworker, Kim, who was an Olympic gold medalist with a brother who played for the Seattle Seahawks. I was obviously being very fangirlish about it all. I had much cooler coworkers back then. ;) (I'm seriously j/k--I have some really great coworkers now.)

August 2, 2001: Uh oh, more doctorness on August 2nd. I had to go pick up someone at the hospital. All was fine, though!

And that's it! I started my journal in 2001, so the years before that are completely blank to me. ;)

Do you remember any of your past August 2nds?

Enjoy Blue Sky Holiday and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Books and Netflix

Happy August! This is the first day where I'm not really sure what to post. I had thought about posting my book list from July, but it's a little embarrassing. For instance, I reread Twilight. So how about my in-progress books, instead?

What I'm reading:
Currently I have audio of The Winter Sea (Susanna Kearsley) going in my car, Must Love Dogs (Claire Cook) on my phone (for walks), and an actual paperback* of The Sleeping Beauty Proposal (Sarah Strohmeyer) sitting near my bed. I've only just started the last two and don't have much to say. As for The Winter Sea, I have slightly mixed feelings so far. The writing is good, but some of the content is not really my thing (Scottish history and politics). I suppose I am enjoying it overall, though. I'd be interested in reading something else by her.

And while we're on the subject of leisurely entertainment:

What I'm watching:
I can't remember if I mentioned watching Arrested Development (a TV show, if you don't know). I really enjoyed the first three seasons--I literally LOLed at various points--but the bonus fourth season on Netflix was NOT great. In fact, I still haven't finished it, and I've only trudged through the episodes I have because I was just looking for something to turn on briefly during meals, and didn't know what else to watch.

Then I decided to give New Girl a try, and enjoyed the first season that's on Netflix. I wish Netflix would get all of the seasons of shows, but what do I expect for $8/month?

As for movies, last night I finished watching the Katy Perry movie/documentary, Part of Me. It was good. I am not crazy about Katy Perry for various reasons, but I definitely gained more understanding and appreciation for her after watching.

I'd love to hear any Netflix recommendations you have, or even non-Netflix. What are you watching?

August is a little bland for me. I haven't had a lot of wondrous things happen in this month, and it's at the point where I'm mourning the end of summer and not wanting to rush fall. I'd be happy for this August to prove me wrong this year and be awesome. Here's to a new trend: Awegust! ;) *clink*

*I know! Not audio or Kindle? There was no audio and the Kindle version was more than I wanted to spend.


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