Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Have I told you lately that I love you?

I bet you thought this post would be about my family? Oh, no....this one is all about me. One of my favorite posts from last year was when I did my favorite things from 2008. I have put together my favorites for 2009. They are in no particular order, just the order in which I uploaded the pictures into blogspot. Most of them are from 2009, but there may be one or two that have been favorites longer, but I am just now realizing they would be fun to share.

This year I ruined the really nice pastry mat I had been given. As an FYI, when you make stuffed pizza rolls do NOT cut them and stuff them with anything juicy on your pastry mat. The stains wouldn't come out, and that just weirded me out. I'm sure it would still work fine, I will certainly keep it, but I decided to get a silicone one that wouldn't move around when I was rolling away. I really like it, like I said, it's grippy on the bottom so it doesn't move when I use it, which was really my only complaint about my old one. It didn't bother me that much until I was starting to get bigger with this baby and could no longer anchor it with my tummy. I've heard the Roul'pat ones are really nice, but I got a cheaper one. If I use it a ton and end up not loving it I will try the Roul'pat.

Another thing I discovered this year was a new way to store my recipes. I have all these recipes on index cards and my recipe box was getting full and confusing, so I actually stole this idea from an episode of Jon & Kate plus 8. Kate put her recipes in a photo album book that held 4x6 index pictures. I thought that was brilliant! Now when I need them I don't get them all messy and stained, plus in a book it will stand up and make looking at the recipe a little easier. I found a set of cute ones and put my main dishes in one and everything else in another one. I got a binder to put my full page printouts in and another binder for the recipes I want to try. That way it is easier for me to find what I am looking for. I figure anything that helps me cook is worth it. I didn't spend much, I cruised the clearance section of Target until I found the books and binders I liked at a price I considered reasonable.

This is probably one of my top 3 favorites, if not my #1 favorite,
from this past year. Trader Joe's has a shaving cream, it's actually a cream not a foam or gel, and I LOVE IT! Thank you Aunna for introducing me to this. It's really not very expensive, under $4, but it is worth it and it lasts a long time. I got my first tube about 6 months ago and I use it every other day and I still haven't finished it off. I have about a third to go. It leaves me with significantly less razor burn and my legs feel so much softer and less dry than any other cream/foam I have used in the past. If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you find a friend that lives near one and get them to send some to you. It is worth it, you'll be thanking me. It smells yummy too.

This is a website that I discovered this past year (by me, I mean Ryan found it and takes care of all of our ink needs). We have a laser printer and a colored ink jet printer and our toner is about a half or third of the price at any office supply store. It works just as good as the one that came with the printer and I don't feel guilty printing off a ton of stuff (have I mentioned yet that I have become quite obsessed with cooking blogs? Oops, not yet, that is farther down on my list). We have had good success with this site and been very happy with the shipping times and quality. Check it out.

These are my favorite flip flops. My sisters have been trying to get me to try Reef brand flip flops for years and I finally sucked it up and paid the $24 for flip flops, and oh, my am I so glad. This is my favorite style (I know it's not the cutest but on occasion I pick comfort over fashion instead of vice versa) because there is good support and cushion and even an arch, so when I need to walk a ton I tend to pick these and I am comfy all day long. I LOVE these flip flops. Come to think of it, I don't think I have purchased another pair since I got these in May. I may just have to order me a pair in black. Try them, your feet will thank me.

This is my FAVORITE book of this last year (hence, it being on my list of favorites). I know it's been out for a few years but if you haven't read it you are missing out. It was crazy awesome. It only took me a few hours to read and I could NOT put it down. There is a sequel, Catching Fire, and the third book is coming out in August of this year. I can't wait. I liked the sequel, but it wasn't as amazing as the first one, such is the case with most series books. It just wasn't as revolutionary as the first one was. I don't want to write what it's about because the less you know the better. It's a young adult novel, so it's clean (whoo hoo) and simply amazing....seriously, I can't describe how great it is, you just have to read it. Pick it up and enjoy. I've convinced a few people to read it and they have loved it too. I haven't met anyone who read it that didn't love it, I've even convinced Ryan to read it as soon as he finishes his current book.

This was my second favorite book of the year. It was my pick for book club and thankfully I liked it. It was my first pick of the club and I was a little nervous because I hadn't read it yet. I mostly liked it because it showed a group of strong women who made sure that they were there for each other. I don't have a ton of close friends left from growing up and so when I read the book it made me sad to think I had let so many great friendships go to the wayside simply because I am absolutely terrible at keeping in touch with people. Ask my sisters, they constantly harass me because I love talking to them all, but so rarely am I the one to call them. I'll drop everything to chat if you call me, but I am constantly putting off phone calls hoping I'll find a better time to call when my kids aren't screaming in the background (which rarely happens for more than a few minutes at a time). Anyway, I loved the idea of caring about a group of people so much that you really make an effort to stay close. I wish I was better at it, and that is what I gleaned most from reading it, I have sincerely tried to be a better friend because of reading it. It was a good read, some of the stories upset me simply because I don't agree with all of the philosophies of the women, but overall it was good.

Ah, Facebook, how I love you. I have to apologize to several of my sisters for giving them such a hard time about their addiction/love of facebook. They kept telling me to join and I would answer with a rude, "I'm not 14 anymore, thanks." I know, i know, so rude... now I am hooked. I sincerely apologize and recognize that I am officially addicted and am so glad it is on my phone. I was talking to a girl this morning who gave up facebook for Lent, personally I think she is crazy, but hey, I'd pick facebook over soda any day too. I have loved getting back in touch with friends from years past and getting to know everyone all over again. It's fun to see how much people have changed in the years since I have seen them last. I love all the daily posts which allow me to get a little insight into current lives, everyone has such fascinating lives in different ways and I have enjoyed the tidbits that have been passed on to me. I think I love most the opportunity to catch up with those that helped me through hard times, or lent support when I needed it, or simply supplied me with humor and memories that I remember often. It always broke my heart that someone who meant so much to me at one time was not in my life any longer and I no longer had the chance to tell them of the significant impact they had on my at some point in my life. Hello, my name is Amanda and I am a facebook addict and proud to be such.

My camera....oh, how I love my camera. I'm sure there are nicer ones out there, but I can't do more than zoom and push the shutter button so I love, love, love my new camera. I asked for it for Christmas last year and have fallen in love with it. I love the simplicity of it but still get pictures that turn out great. I lucked out with it, thank you Morgan and Aunna for doing such good research and letting me copy you. I did do my own research (with this one as my biased first choice) and it was quickly apparent that it was the best option for me and my neophyte photography skills. I now want a new lens and am terrified to even begin researching lenses. From what I have read it's even tougher to decide on a lens than the actual camera body. Plus Ryan's not going to love the fact that I want to spend who knows how much on a lens. I just need more zoom......to begin with.......If you want a new camera I highly recommend this one. It's bigger than a traditional point and shoot, but it's still small enough to fit in my purse. I carry my little one in my purse all the time and take this one with me any time I plan on taking pictures. Seriously, just read the reviews and you'll see why I couldn't change my mind.

So many of my favorite things are kitchen things, I figure it makes sense since the kitchen is one of the toughest places to enjoy what you are doing. I recently discovered Wilton baking pans and have tossed all of my old ones and replaced them with these. No joking, I am in serious love with them. I randomly picked a few up at Target when they went on sale in Nov 2008, but didn't actually use them until last year. I think I started with a muffin tin and cookie sheet and every time they go on sale I pick up a few more and toss out my old stuff. They cost a few more dollars than any of the other brands but they are worth it. Even Ryan, who hates when I buy new kitchen stuff, took some cookies off one day and proceeded to tell me that I am welcome to replace any and all pans with Wilton. The non stick is actually non stick and the muffin pans don't get all rusty and nasty. They go on sale around Thanksgiving each year and maybe one or two other times during the year. I use the brownie/cake pans for my casseroles and such and they clean so easy! I hate, hate, hate scrubbing pans out and having to let them "soak" for infinite amounts of time.

So, what is my most favorite of all?????? Google Reader. I love blogging and have not always been as diligent with reading others blogs because I would only get through half of my sidebar list before I had to get off the computer, so many of your blog posting would go unread, which made me so sad, I love keeping up with your lives ( I have since caught up with all of your blogs). Each time I would get on the computer I would start at the top again and then get so behind. I tried to convert to the new layout that lets you know when blogs are updated, but it drove me crazy. One of you bloggers mentioned Reader in a post and after a while I decided to take the chance and try to figure it out. Needless to say, I LOVE it. I put your blog addresses in under "Subscriptions" and then when I am sitting at school waiting for Madison to get out I open the Google app on my phone and can read all about your lives (of course, I am able to check them out on my computer too, but I am so rarely on the actual computer. I just use my handheld one I call a phone) and stay caught up. The only complaint I have about it is that I can't get private blogs to stream into Reader, so on occasion I read LONG pages worth of blog postings on the few private ones I follow. It takes a few steps longer to comment, but I was never a great commenter anyway, which sadly, is quite hypocritical since I live for comments from the rest of you.

I mentioned earlier my obsession with cooking blogs that began this year. These are my favorite blogs and a few favorite recipes that I tried this year. There was a period of time where I was great at cooking dinner most of the week. Sadly the last month or two (or longer, but who's counting?) I have fallen back into my bad/lazy habits and am hoping that I will get some energy back after the baby comes. Here are my favorites, in no particular order and the recipes my family loves from them:

Red Berry Risotto Oatmeal - I make this and don't even put in the berries, it's so good by itself. I also, in pure desperation, made it with milk one day and couldn't tell a difference.
Chicken and Wild Rice soup - This is probably my favorite recipe find of the entire year. It is so incredibly wonderful. Ryan even loved it and he is such a pain to cook for.
Pumpkin Bars - These have become my go-to item when I bake for groups. They are so good.
read her story, it is hilariously entertaining
Chicken Spaghetti - This is our other new family favorite recipe. I double it and then put 3/4 of it in freezer friendly packaging and then take it out when I crave it. It is even better the 2nd night and heats up so good from the freezer.
I haven't made much from her site, I was winding down on my cooking when I discovered it, but several friends swear by her recipes...I have many printed out to try.
Stuffed Pizza Rolls - I mentioned these earlier, but we love them. They are fun and EASY.

I haven't tried any of these, but my sister says they are the best Asian recipes she has tried. She tried some of the Asian ones from My Kitchen Cafe and wasn't impressed.

To wind up my favorites of 2009 I have a short list of favorite restaurants we ate at this year. We didn't get to hit up as many this year as we have in years past, I suppose that is normal when families grow, but here it is, my favorite new places to eat in Vegas (when we have $$$$ or get taken out, most of these we were taken to for various reasons, lest you think we can afford this type of dining on a regular basis
Get the Steak....seriously, it was one of the best steaks I have ever had. The entire dinner was amazing, all the dishes ordered were awesome, but the steak kicks some butt.
They have this mayo based dipping sauce that is incredible on the seafood.
The seafood tower appetizer was insane, and so wonderful, as were the sauces for the steaks. I love a great sauce.
Alyssa came to town and she and I went here and I still cannot stop thinking about how wonderful my food was. I got the Tiger Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale and the Pork Tenderloin.....it was divine, and I am not a big Bobby Flay fan. I highly recommend each of those items.
We used to have to go to NYC to satisfy our Serendipity cravings, but now whenever we have company (and I can convince Ryan to go) we take the opportunity to enjoy The Strip on the outdoor patio while dining on amazing desserts. Their food is also incredible, try the Mac & Cheese, yum.

I think that is about it....my favorites from 2009. It is fun to revisit all these things. Welcome 2010....we shall visit you in a year.


Julie said...

Amen to the Reef flip-flops! LOVE THEM! I can't believe Madison's already lost a tooth, Abi's so behind!

Liz said...

I LOVE Hunger Games as well. August is just not coming fast enough to please me. I also loved your favorites post. I'm going to have to try a few of the items you mentioned.