Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels: Part Two

Holy Cow, I'm actually posting past the first section of the book club questions! I usually get too far ahead and can't remember the specifics of what that week's discussion is about, or too far behind and don't want any spoilers.

So this week is Part Two of Pioneer Woman's Black Heels to Tractor Wheel. Questions from the book clubbers and my responses below:

From Samantha:

What did you think of Marlboro Man's proposal? How would you feel if you were proposed to like that? I love that it was so casual and how off guard she was caught. We he called to say he was at her house, I knew it was coming. I thought it was perfect for their relationship. With anyone else, she probably would have known it was coming, suspected it, or saw signs. With Marlboro Man, she was always on her toes, she never knew what to expect.

She wrote a lot about never riding in a pickup truck before and how she used to judge girls who rode in the middle. After being with Marlboro Man she felt differently and actually wanted to ride in the middle. How do you feel about that? Have you ever judged somebody and then after learning more, regret that you had judged them? I think there are a lot of things you can judge until you're in the situation. Not knowing where that couple comes from or their background, you don't understand everything they do. Once you're in the situation yourself, you can form your own opinion. I think there are a lot of people who would judge "country folk" for one thing or another, but then try it themselves. Like Nascar? Who could ever watch cars go in a circle for 4 hours? Go to a race, then you understand. It's super exciting and just plain old FUN.

From mcbracey:

After their first fight, did it make you question if Marlboro man was the one to give up everything for, or was Ree willing to do it because it was easy when everything else seemed hard? I think as Ree said, she didn't know what to do, Marlboro Man had always taken the lead. I think she had to work that out herself, how to respond. I love that by the time she figured out what needed to be done, Marlboro Man had already moved past it. That first fight is always awkward and is never as bad the next day as it seems at the moment.

Do you wonder what Ree is doing all day? How is she financially making it? Is she really just waiting around all day to meet up with Marlboro man at night? I just assumed that her parents were taking care of most of her finances, plus she probably had money saved up for her move to Chicago, once that plan was canceled, she could dip into that fund.

Would you let your now husband duck out of your reception to watch a football game?
NO. Never. I also would have planned the wedding around sporting events. My husband is a football and hockey fan. We got married in March where the main sporting event is the NCAA Tournament. I don't even think there were any major games going on the night of our wedding. I still check the Steeler's schedule before I RSVP anytime anyone invites us to an event September - December.

From Erin:

So many embarrassing things have happened to Ree in front of Marlboro Man. What is the most embarrassing story that comes to mind when you think of embarrassing things that have happened to you in front of a significant other? I think my most embarrassing things have happened when inebriated. I have sworn him to never speak of those events again.

How would you have reacted to being around for the prairie fire? I think it would have been exciting, but scary. I would have stayed as far away as possible, while still being able to keep an eye on Marlboro Man. After seeing it, I think I would have reacted the same way she did "You can't go fight fires anymore, they're DANGEROUS!!!!!!" Anyone else read the chapter about the prairie fire the same day there was one in real life on her ranch? She was blogging/tweeting about it and I was thinking "I just read about the first one you saw"

From Rachel:

There have been so many funny little stories along the way in the book. What has been your favorite? Any favorite lines? I just love the way she tells stories altogether. I ate her book up, every single page. I love when she posts more than just recipes on her blog, however, even the way she writes up a recipe post is entertaining as well. I want her to write more!!!! More Pioneer Woman!!!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do dreams have meanings?

I have some CRAZY intense vivid dreams all the time. I have thought several times of keeping a record of them, some of them are so vivid I feel like I could write screenplays from them. I've never really read into my dreams, thinking they mean anything. I had one last night that seemed pretty symbolic, so I started Googling meanings of certain things, and I don't agree with any of them.

I dreamt that I was driving a car full of friends to a friend's wedding out of town. Right before we got to where the wedding would be, there was a HUGE bridge. It was super tall and super steep to go up and over. My little car barely made it to the top and going back down was like a roller coaster where you couldn't see the bottom of the hill. I tried twice to get to the bottom of the bridge and both times the car didn't make it, it was too steep. We would end up safely on the ground, but off course.

I thought for sure the bridge had some meaning, but when I Googled it, every result said that bridges represent a decision that you are having trouble to make*. I can't think of what the decision could possibly be. I am so at peace with our home situation at the moment and am no longer anxious to move. There aren't any huge decisions to be made at work. I can't think of what it could possibly be.

I also looked up the meaning of cars in dreams, again, can't figure out what it could mean. What I've read** is that the car is representative of what your psyche is experiencing of your waking life. What is going on in the car or what happens to the car is representation of what is going on in your life. Who is driving could show who you feel is in control of your life. If there is a crash, how you crash is apparently symbolic. Were you hit by someone else? Water or ice send the car out of control? In my dream, I was driving, and when the car went off the road, it was my fault, but no one was hurt. So apparently I feel in control of my life, but when my life wrecks, it's my fault? Again, hard to agree with these meanings.

Sometimes my dreams are just vivid stories, nothing symbolic like bridges or car crashes. I don't think anything of them. I'll dream about something going on at work or something that hubs and I saw on TV.

Do you look into the meanings or symbolism of your dreams or do you just take them as entertainment the next morning as you remember everything?

*Bridge interpretations found here.

**Car interpretations found here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels

This month we are reading Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman. She is one of my absolute favorite bloggers. I LOVE her sense of humor and her recipes are AMAZING. Every single thing I've made of hers turns out phenomenal. This is her story of how she met and married her husband. I am loving every single page and can't stop myself from reading ahead! I love her voice when she writes and feel like I already know so much about her from her blog. There are several questions submitted from the girls in the book club this week, I'll just pick a couple to respond to.

While reading Part I of Black Heels, did you find yourself comparing your own love life/story to Ree's? I haven't so much been comparing Ree's story to my own, I am just lost in her world and love reading about how her Marlboro Man courted her and how they fell in love. Knowing how happily married she is and how obsessed she is with her husband and kids, it's great getting to see how they got there. It's almost like being able to pull back the curtains of her blog and getting all of the juicy details. Maybe it's just the nosy side of me, but I love reading about the details of their dating.

 Have you ever felt an instant connection with someone? How did it turn out? I had met Hubs a couple times before we actually started dating when I was bartending. The first time we hung out away from the bar, I knew there was more to it. We were with a group of people, but I couldn't tell you who was there. We were in our own little world just concerned about getting to know each other. At the end of the night, he put his arms around me and said "we fit". And here we are today, a week away from our two year wedding anniversary and 5 1/2 years after that night. 

If you were Ree and started to question your life plan (leaving Cali, moving to Chicago, being independent for a while) would you feel when this sudden romance came into your life at the 'wrong' time? I couldn't believe she canceled her move to Chicago for this guy she had been dating for only a couple of weeks. Of course, if she only had an apartment lined up and no job waiting, it wouldn't be as hard to put it off and see where things went with her new flame. However, it was still a HUGE leap of faith for her to cancel her move and see where things went with Marlboro Man. Thank goodness she did or else we wouldn't have The Pioneer Woman!!!!

I love all the details of Ree's cooking for Marlboro Man in the early stages of their relationship. Have you ever made anything for the guy in your life that was just an utter disaster? Did he choke it down anyway? I absolutely love hearing about their early cooking adventures. Just from reading her blog, I knew a couple things, like what the first dish she had made for him. I can't believe she went from vegetarian to eating steak with him. I never in a million years would have guessed she didn't always eat meat from all of her cooking posts. I have definitely had some disasters. Luckily Hubs has been forgiving and I think only one dish I've made went uneaten after the first bites. So far I've taken it pretty easy in the kitchen, trying mainly dishes that would be categorized as easy, but we're moving along and I love making something new that he loves and stashing that recipe away for another day.

 How much of Ree's book do you think is truth or fiction? How much did she embellish? Do you think she omitted or added anything? Obviously she couldn't get EVERYTHING that happened during this period of her life in the book, but I kept wondering what was left out and if some of the stuff she was writing was built up just a teensy tiny bit I really REALLY want to believe that it is pretty true to life. There have to be some embellishments, but I want to believe that they really did have this amazing of a romance. I certainly don't think MY life could be made into a book, but I'm glad hers was, I'm enjoying every minute of it. One day I'll have to meet her and find out how much was true and what was embellished.

If you haven't read this book yet, I can't say enough how much I love it.  If you aren't following Ree's blog already, go do yourself a favor. Give yourself some time to get lost in the recipes and have your printer ready to go, you'll want them all. I am so happy we picked this book and can't wait to keep reading!!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A very Dave Ramsey thing to do

So we spent a riviting night on Friday having a serious talk about our finances, about selling our house, about what we can realistically afford, and our hopes and dreams for the future. I had recorded Suzy Orman's "The Money Class" that aired on PBS last week. This opened up a lot of discussion about what we have, what we owe, and what we want to do with our money. I'm so glad that we watched this together. We were able to pause it and discuss what she was talking about and for once it was both of us learning together. In the past it went: I read, I try to explain, I don't get the point across, and Hubs doesn't want to get on board.

We decided that since we couldn't sell or rent our place out right now, moving in the next year or so just seemed unrealistic. We wanted to be able to put down more than a minimum down payment and wanted to not have to pay cash to get out of our current house. We've made enough updates in the past year that living there for the next couple years no longer seems like a prison sentence. With a Metro station within walking distance to our condo expected to begin operation in 2016, we have toyed with the idea of sticking around to be able to sell for a profit at that time. It is just 5 short years away and will open up so many more options if we don't have to lose money when we sell.

Dave Ramsey would be proud of this next part. Since we don't need a down payment fund right away, I took money from there and paid off our credit cards. Boom. Done. So now our plan is to spend with no credit cards and put all the money we monthly would have put towards those payments back into out down payment fund. We'll build that up and once we get to a more significant amount, we'll be able to start looking for a house again.

Now Dave would tell us to pay off our car next, but I just can't bring myself to pull another chunk of change out of our down payment/emergency fund. I like having a cushion to fall back on in case anything happened. We'll work to pay the car off early, but don't feel like I need to pay it off immediately.

So credit cards have been removed from wallets, budgets have been outlined, Husband is on board, and we are ready to start saving some cash! Another positive is no credit card debt means another item crossed of the 101 in 1001 list!!!

Have you had to sacrifice any dreams to make the more responsible financial decision?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dinner of the Month - Salsa Pork Chops

Lately we've been on a pretty steady rotation of meals. Maybe lack of creativity, or just being lazy, we're stuck on the same 7 or 8 recipes. Our current favorite that is made at least every two weeks is Salsa Pork Chops.

I don't have a link to the recipe, it came from my mom! It was included in a book of recipes put together at my bridal shower of everyone's favorites. She included all of her go to dishes when we were growing up and menus for the holiday dinners that she always followed. (This also gets me points towards my 101 in 1001 goals!!!)

In an effort to move away from eating only chicken and beef, I tried this one with pork chops. It's super easy folks. SUPER easy. It cooks all day in the crockpot, so it's just about 5-10 mins in the morning to throw everything together.

I don't have any pictures because really, it doesn't look super appetizing. It's just a big hot mess, but MAN is it delicious. 

Salsa Pork Chops (4-6 servings)
4 boneless pork chops
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 small can of chopped green chilis
1 jar of red medium heat, vegetable salsa
1 chopped onion

Throw it all together in the crockpot and cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 6 hours. The pork will shred up really easily and will be perfect.

We either eat it with brown rice or pull out some whole wheat tortillas and cheese and make pork tacos.

There are enough leftovers for at least another dinner, often two. It is even better two days later as leftovers.

Just FYI, I entered everything into Weight Watchers and got a PointsPlus value of 10 per serving.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

101 in 1001: Goals Completed So Far

I am 616 days into my 1001 days to get some goals completed. I thought I’d check in with what I’ve accomplished so far. I have completed 26 of the tasks thus far. I think I’ve knocked out most of the easy ones. With just over a year left, it looks like it will be a busy one! It should give me plenty to blog about along the way. I can’t wait to see how this all ends up.

There are 4 more that will be completed by the end of this month. I’ll share those once I’ve finished them. 

Here is what I've accomplished so far:
1. Start a blog
5. Get an iPhone Received on 7/20/09
18. Take a multi vitamin everyday for a month (30/30)
19. Go one week without soda  November 5-11, 2010
27. Read 10 books of my choosing (10/10)  January 2, 2010
29. Attend a comedy show October 2, 2010
34. Donate hair September 21, 2009
37. Visit THON February 2011
53. Go to a fancy Sunday brunch July 11, 2010
54. Create wedding books for parents December 2009
55. Get a new passport February 11, 2010
59. Read 5 Love Languages September 2, 2009
60. Approve Wedding Album  August 4, 2009
62. Write review for Chris Wells, wedding coordinator Wrote and mailed review on 12/29/09
64. Finish painting condo (entry, kitchen, living room) (3/3) Painted 12/12/09 - 12/13/09
66. Research and if feasible, new blinds for condo December 13, 2009, put up curtains to replace horrible blinds
67. Prepare fancy five course meal for Tony and I one weekend June 4, 2010
71. Bake cake or cupcakes for 5 birthdays (5/5) 12/15/2009
73. Hang up framed invite and wedding pictures in bedroom (1/18/2010)
77. Buy a new couch Bought a Pottery Barn couch after too many bloody marys!!! Ooops! 7/11/10
80. Drink red wine from fancy carafe Rad Red Wine, James River Cellars 7/27/09
82. See a Pens game outside of Washington November 14, 2009 Pens won!!!! 
86. Take Tony to a Nascar race September 12, 2009 (MET BRIAN!!!!)
87. Send Christmas cards to friends and family December 2010
91. Pick fruit from an orchard October 10, 2010, Apples at Marker-Miller Orchards
93.  Buy one thing from RueLaLa December 16, 2009, Kate Spade Glassware

Unfortunately I think there are about 6 items that I won’t be able to complete. I should go ahead and put the $10 for each of those into Savings sooner than later. 

Do you have a 101 in 1001 list? How far from being done are you?

Monday, March 7, 2011

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry...

Saturday we had a wedding to go to, we've been looking forward to it for a long time to get to see some friends we haven't seen since our own wedding. Saturday morning we were being lazy around the house, the wedding was all we had scheduled. I decided to take my time getting ready, so I gave myself three hours to get pulled together and out the door. It was supposed to be a relaxing day where we just got to relax and enjoy the big day for our friends.

After a marathon karaoke sing along in the shower I was wandering around starting to pull stuff out of the closet to get ready. I go to get hubs' suit and it's not there. We had cleaned out our closet when we thought our house would be going on the market, so his dress clothes are all being stored at my mom's house. I called her and she had already left for the day, so I'd have to run over myself. No worries, since I started getting ready so early, I'd dash over and only lose about 35 minutes. I jump in my car, hit every single red light on the way over there, and am starting to get anxious. I have her house key on a separate key chain, so I was just going to leave my car on, run in grab the suit and head out.

As soon as I jumped out of the car and slammed the door I realized I had locked it. Keys locked in, engine running, clock ticking. I currently had my spare car keys since we had dropped my regular keys off with friends that morning who would be watching the pups for the night. I called hubs and didn't know whether I would laugh or cry. He talked me off the ledge, gave me our AAA membership information and I got on the phone with them. They told me 45 mins until someone could get out there, so I had nothing to do but wait. Hubs grabbed our stuff for the wedding and came out to my mom's house to get ready there. He showed up the same time the locksmith did.

We got ready in record time, jumped in his car, leaving mine at the house, and were on our way. We were actually one of the first to get to the church, we were relaxed and settled in to see our friends tie the knot. Shortly after the ceremony started I realized I never had him zip my dress all the way up!!! It was a side zipper, so my arm mostly covered it, but the whole time I was super paranoid that I was giving the whole church a show. We got to a point in the ceremony where everyone was standing and got it taken care of.

After that it was back to the house to get our stuff to stay over at the hotel. Once we were checked in and I had a glass of wine in my hand, the drama of the day wore off and we celebrated those nuptials like it was our job!!!

I need another weekend after this weekend. Only have to make it through 5 more days!

How was your weekend? Any surprises throw you for a loop?