Friday, February 29, 2008


I couldn't decide between two pictures that are good for "Fuzzy".

goat in the children's area of Dallas Zoo, April 2006

dandelion in the park

To see more "Fuzzy" images, check out Photo Friday.

Thursday Night Results: Round 2

First a review of my picks for this week: Jason Yeager, Luke Menard, Amanda Overmyer, and Kady Malloy.

I don't think I've ever been so close and so wrong!

First lineup: Jason Yeager and Danny Noriega. I would've been thrilled if Danny had gone home, but it was Jason. Now I'll be subjected to Danny for yet another week. I so wish I had been wrong on this one, but it was my only right call.

Second lineup: Amanda Overmyer and Alexandrea Lushington. Please be Amanda. Please be Amanda. Nope. Who's voting for her? Are they deaf? I'm subjected to her for another week...

Third lineup: Alaina Whitaker and Kady Malloy. Either one of them are fine to go, but Kady doesn't sing as "well" as Alaina, who goes home.

Fourth lineup: Luke Menard and Robbie Carrico. In spite of Orlando Bloom's Luke's less appealing voice, Robbie goes home. I guess too many people saw his Boyz N Girlz United video from 2000 that's been circulating lately. He says he's not pop, he doesn't want to be pop. Let him be rock. People can change. My tastes have changed. I used to love country music. Now, not so much.

So now I guess I have to pick a new 6 for both groups.

Guys: David Archuleta (1), David Cook (2), Michael Johns (3), David Hernandez (4), Jason Castro (5), and Chikezie (6).

Girls: Ramiele Malubay (1), Carly Smithson (2), Syesha Mercado (3), Brooke White (4), Kristy Lee Cook (5), and Asia'h Epperson (6).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Idol 20: Girls' Round 2

While the guys' performances were mostly mediocre, with a couple of true stand-outs, most of the girls' performances really fell flat.

1. Carly Smithson - "Crazy on You"
What a way to start! Regardless of all the hoopla surrounding Carly's previous record deal, where she flopped immensely, I think she's got a great voice. She chose a big song (anything by Heart is big!) and did a great job with it. I'd say she had the second best performance of the night.

2. Syesha Mercado - "Me and Mrs. (Mr.) Jones"
I wasn't so impressed with her this time around. She's got a good voice, but that was not a good song for her. (That's besides the fact that I don't like that song.) She really needs to pick it up next week. I'm sure she'll be around.

3. Brooke White - "You're So Vain"
I liked the start of her song, with her playing acoustic guitar. At times she even resembled Carly Simon. Then she stopped playing during the middle. You could still hear the guitar from someone in the band, but what happened with her? Then she started back up and I really couldn't tell the difference. Was she actually playing? Her singing was good, but the whole guitar thing was distracting. I'm surprised the judges didn't say something about that. I would rank her higher this week, but the guitar bothers me. I hope she doesn't use it any more, or at least plays the whole song if she does.

4. Ramiele Malubay - "Don't Leave Me this Way"
I think she had the best performance of the night. I wasn't so sure when she started out, though her voice sounded good. She really powered through to the end. She kept sounding better and better, and she hit all the notes. She's my top pick of the girls, I think. Her hair bothered me last night, but that's minor... :o)

5. Kristy Lee Cook - "You're No Good"
I'm not wild about this song, but she did a good job with it. She was good last week, but this week was better. Like Simon said, I'd like to see her give country music a try.

6. Amanda Overmyer - "Carry On Wayward Son"
This is such a great song - and she butchered it. She never did hit the right note and sang the whole song in too low a key. It was painful to watch. She can dance, but she can't sing and last night proved it. She needs to either go totally blond or totally black because this "Bride of Frankenstein" look isn't cutting it. She looked much better in her video clip with the bandanna tied around her hair. I really think she's going home this week.

7. Alaina Whitaker - "Hopelessly Devoted to You"
I love Grease, but I can't stand this song. There were too many off notes, especially during the chorus. I don't think she has what it takes to make it to the Final 12.

8. Alexandrea Lushington - "If You Leave Me Now"
I really liked her last week, but this week, not so much. This song did nothing to show her voice. The judges keep calling these types of songs "safe" songs. Maybe it's safe as far as the singing of them goes, but as for the hearing, they're dangerous. I hope she sticks around another week so she can remind me why I liked her so much last week.

9. Kady Malloy - "Magic Man"
Another Heart song, but not another great performance. She was off-key too much, which made me cringe since I love this song. I wasn't impressed with her last week, either. She needs to stick with opera.

10. Asia'h Epperson - "All By Myself"
Here's another song I don't like so much. I didn't like her start, but the middle of her performance was better, even though leading into it either her voice or her mic cut out. The end was really good. I was glad she could hit the right notes and hold them.

I know I'm waffling on the girls, but only a few really stand out for me. Here are my current top 6: Ramiele Malubay, Carly Smithson, Kristy Lee Cook (newly added), Brooke White (newly added), Syesha Mercado, and I'm torn between Alexandrea Lushington and Asia'h Epperson. (I mistakenly put Alaina Whitaker in my list last week instead of Asia'h. Too many A's, I guess.)

My pick to go home this week: Amanda Overmyer and Kady Malloy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Weigh-In Wednesday #6

I took my friend Rachel's advice and dug out my tape measure so I could track my progress another way. I measured Monday morning, but didn't write anything down, so now I've forgotten. I'll do it again tomorrow morning, write it in a place I'll remember, and check it weekly. I'll post how many inches I lose each week.

Eating was better last week. I still had my moments of wanting to eat things (and sometimes actually eating them!) that I knew weren't good for me, but overall I did really well. I'm expecting another good week.

We haven't been able to get out to the park to exercise the way I'd like, but maybe we'll get some opportunities later this week and next week. I think the temperatures are supposed to be in the 70s, so that'd be perfect!

As for today's exercise routine, it went really well. My friend Kim met me at the gym and we walked a mile on the outdoor track. I need to take a stopwatch with me when I walk outside. The only clock on that track is past the building where the dressing rooms are located, so I can only estimate the total time based on my first 1/2 mile. Using that as my guide, I'd say today's mile was a little under 17 minutes. Kim's about my height, but she has a longer stride. I really had to work to keep up with her at the start, but once I found a good pace with hers, we did well. I went in to lift weights after our mile, but she walked another mile.

I changed the way I'm lifting my weights. I just realized in the book I'm reading (Strength Training for Women) that shaping and toning are best done by less weight and more reps; more weights and fewer reps are better for bone-building. So today, I decreased the weight I had been using and did anywhere from 15-25 reps. I went through that routine twice, and walked a quick 1/2 mile (8:14) in between.

When I got ready to stand on the scales today, I was mentally preparing myself to see another gain. Much to my surprise and delight, I weighed in at 157.3! Down a little more than 3 lbs. from last week! Yessss! I know part of that was from retaining water, but I also think doing some exercises each morning has been helping.

Oh, I switched from general upper, lower, and core body toning each morning to focusing on a "Trouble-Spot" workout. I do the upper and lower body exercises Monday and Friday; the core exercises are for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays if I have time. That's quite a workout, too! Monday was the first day I did some of the exercises for glutes and thighs - and did I ever feel it! I was already feeling tight and sore that evening. Yesterday I could hardly lower myself into a chair without using my upper body to lessen the strain! Thankfully I could do everything today without any pain.

I'm glad to see some progress again. It was beginning to get easier to binge on something bad for me since it seemed like nothing was changing anyway. Today's weigh-in gave me renewed inspiration! I'm down a total of 7 1/2 lbs. since I began 8 weeks ago!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Idol 20: Guys' Round 2

1. Michael Johns - "Go Your Own Way"
He sounded pretty good tonight. There were a few notes that sounded a little off, but he really pulled it off when he got to the chorus. He's still on my list of 6.

2. Jason Castro - "Want to Be Your Everything"
I loved his video clip. He's so down-to-earth and humble. Very endearing. I was a little concerned when I saw him with his guitar again this week. I figured the judges would have something to say about that, and I was right. I hope he'll take their advice and leave it behind next week. It's almost like a safety net. I hope he's not awkward without it.

On to his performance. It was okay. Not the best, but not the worst, either. I still like him; I just hope he does something different, something memorable next week.

3. Luke Menard - "Killer Queen"
His voice is higher than what I like, but it was good for this song. Much better than last week. I don't think he's got the staying power, though.

4. Robbie Carrico - "Hot Blooded"
I enjoyed seeing the video clip of him drag racing. (Billy and I used to go to drag races before Caleb was born and it was always a lot of fun. We'd like to take the boys one of these days.)

At first, his performance seemed good, but as he went on, he seemed to be lacking. It was okay. Last week was better for him.

5. Danny Noriega - "Superstar"
I really like the Carpenters, and Danny's voice is pretty good, but I just don't like his personality. I find him very annoying. I'm ready for him to go, but that's doubtful. He was better this week than last.

6. David Hernandez - "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone"
I like his voice and he sounded great again tonight, but I'm not a fan of the song he picked. At this point, when Simon said it was the best vocal of the night, he was right. Then came the other Davids...

7. Jason Yeager - "Long Train Runnin'"
He was much improved over last week's snooze fest, but he's still got a lot to prove. Billy pegged it right when he said it was a very "cruise ship" performance.

8. Chikezie - "I Believe"
I was more impressed with him this week. For one thing, his clothes weren't screaming louder than his singing, though he was dressed a little too casual. Almost sloppy. But his voice was really good, and he played around with the song some instead of imitating the original. I wasn't familiar with the song, though. He needs to pick something more in the mainstream.

9. David Cook - "Alright Now"
Yea! Another word nerd! Simon might have been bored by his video, but I thought it was really interesting. I never would have pegged David as someone who liked language and wordplay so much. I love how they pieced together his interview clips with all his big words. I never would have realized that otherwise.

On to his performance... The best of the night - to this point! He did a great job playing lead guitar while he sang. And every note sounded on key. He really rocked. Robbie Carrico can take some lessons from this guy.

10. David Archuleta - "Imagine"
He's another really likable, down-to-earth guy. I love how he just smiles so big when he gets complimented. He's not full of himself and cocky; he's humble and truly happy. And he has the voice to beat this season. If he doesn't win the whole thing, I'll be surprised. He's got an amazing voice, amazing control. This one really was the best performance of the night!

My six are still the same, though they're starting to find some order now. Well, maybe one has dropped out for someone else. Not sure yet. What I am sure of is this: David Archuleta is my top pick, followed by David Cook. The order of the others is still in question.

My picks to go home this week: Luke Menard and Jason Yeager. (Same as last week.)

It's a lot easier to judge the contestants' voices by listening to the samples on iTunes. We can all admit that we're influenced somewhat by appearances, personality, and mannerisms, but those perceptions aren't so strong when you're just listening. Try it and think about whether or not you'd actually buy an album based solely on voice.

10 Movies I've Intended to Watch but Haven't

This week's Ten on Tuesday looks interesting... I can just look in our DVD cabinet and find several.

1. Gladiator
2. The Rookie
3. Open Range
4. Radio
5. Citizen Kane (I know, I know...)
6. Miss Congeniality 2
7. Walk the Line
8. In Love and War
9. The Missing
10. Vertigo

Some of these I have; some I've checked out from the library but never got around to watching before having to return them. Maybe this spring and summer, when things have slowed down some (?!), I can catch up on these and more.

Do you have any recommendations? (I like everything except horror. Psychological thrillers, yes; blood and guts, a resounding NO.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Not So Good...

I made the Easy Omelets for a Group tonight, but we weren't impressed with them. Maybe it was the combination of cheese, mushrooms, and fresh onions and peppers that did it, or maybe it was the fact that I used 3 eggs in them instead of 2, or maybe it was the fact that they were basically steamed and the moisture had no way out. It doesn't matter, though. They were runny. Ugh! I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't like my eggs the least bit moist (or wet, as I call it!).

If I'm having a fried egg, it had better be hard fried. I don't want any runny yolk. If I'm having scrambled eggs, I want them dry. Not choke-them-down kind of dry, but I don't want them shiny, either.

Anyway, I ended up putting my omelet in the skillet to cook a little longer. Billy doesn't like his eggs nearly as dry as I do, but he had to cook his omelet longer, too. We agreed that we won't use that recipe again, that we'll just cook our omelets individually and eat them as they're ready from now on.

Cook and learn!

Menu Plan Monday #19

I've got some carry-overs from last week to work into this week's menu, which means some of the things I had planned for this week will be shifted to my March menu. I just have to decide what to keep and what to move...

I made my first homemade lasagna last week! I know that probably sounds crazy coming from me, but it's true. I love a good lasagna, but I always thought it was complicated to make. Besides, frozen lasagnas are pretty good. They aren't as good as homemade, though, so I finally tried it. We all loved it! Good thing, too, because we ate it with a couple from church on Wednesday night and again on Thursday night. Billy ate the last of it Friday night. I have a little more tweaking to do with the recipe before it's ready for Ashley's Cafe, though...

Here's this week's menu:

Monday: Easy Omelets for a Group
Jacob will get all his ingredients separately...

Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup
One of those things I didn't get to last week...

Wednesday: Deluxe Cheeseburger Salad, cherry limeade
This is a new Pampered Chef recipe that I'm wanting to try. Well, I've tried it already and I love it; I want my family to try it.

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: potluck
I have a cooking show: Baked Potato Soup and Easy Apple Crisp.

Saturday: Blackened Tilapia, rice, steamed broccoli
Another one of those things I didn't get to last week...

Sunday: sandwiches

For more great menu ideas, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Jacob's Version

I filled in for my friend Tricia last night as the story teller for Cubbies. Jacob was so excited that I was doing that (and so was Caleb, even though he is in Sparks).

On the way home from AWANA, Caleb asked me about the story, so I told it to him. (It's from Matthew 8, when Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee.) When I finished telling Caleb, Jacob said, "When I grow up, I'm going to work in Cubbies and tell the stories!"

I asked him if he was going to do that like I did, but he said, "No. My story will be different."

"How?" I asked.

"People will drown." Then he added, "And there will be sharks and they'll eat people, too!"

Caleb scolded him and said that was a true story and he can't just change it any way he wants.

Too funny! I guess the fact that Jesus instantly calmed a storm isn't dramatic enough for a 5-year-old.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Caleb's pizza

I bought the boys each a small pizza stone so they can put the toppings of their choice on their very own pizzas. I was surprised that neither of them covered their pizzas with black olives!

For more photos of "Art", check out Photo Friday.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What Am I?

I shouldn't have been checking my friends' blogs this late at night. PoMonkey posted some quizzes she took, so of course I had to go take some, too.

First off, I am a colon. (The punctuation mark, not the body part!)

You Are a Colon

You are very orderly and fact driven.

You aren't concerned much with theories or dreams... only what's true or untrue.

You are brilliant and incredibly learned. Anything you know is well researched.

You like to make lists and sort through things step by step. You aren't subject to whim or emotions.

Your friends see you as a constant source of knowledge and advice.

(But they are a little sick of you being right all of the time!)

You excel in: Leadership positions

You get along best with: The Semi-Colon

Pretty close.

I am a red crayon.

You Are a Red Crayon

Your world is colored with bright, vivid, wild colors.

You have a deep, complex personality - and you are always expressing something about yourself.

Bold and dominant, you are a natural leader. You have an energy that is intense... and sometimes overwhelming.

Your reaction to everything tends to be strong. You are the master of love-hate relationships.

Your color wheel opposite is green. Green people are way too mellow to understand what drives your energy.

Not so much... Besides, green is my favorite color.

I am a glazed donut.

You Are a Glazed Donut

Okay, you know that you're plain - and you're cool with that.

You prefer not to let anything distract from your sweetness.

Your appeal is understated yet universal. Everyone dig you.

And in a pinch, you'll probably get eaten.

Pretty much.

Finally, I am not a cool parent.

You Will Not Be a Cool Parent

And that's pretty okay. While your kids may not think of you as a friend, they will respect you.

You know that kids need discipline and structure, and you're not afraid to give it to them.

Just be careful that your strictness doesn't lead to rebellion.

It's good to have standards and rules, but you don't need to have an iron fist when enforcing them.

I guess that means mine weren't cool, either. ;o)

February Field Trips

This is our second year to be involved with our local homeschool association. Last school year, we only participated in soccer, t-ball, and the spelling bee. When I renewed our membership for this school year, I decided I wanted to be more involved. Boy, have we!

The boys were involved in soccer again last fall, and Caleb participated in the spelling bee again this year. There were other opportunities for field trips, but we didn't participate for various reasons. Then came February!

One of the first events we signed up for back in August was for the association's World's Fair. Each family would choose a country and work on a project to share with everyone at the main event on February 5. Since Billy has been to Greece a few times and has several pictures and other things he's brought back with him, we chose that country. (Countries could only be represented once.) I thought about the project off and on, but never really did much with it. Then it came down to the wire. (I've always been quite the procrastinator...) The week before the fair, I purchased the project board. That Saturday, I put the title on it. Monday, the day before the fair, I got busy deciding what to put on it and getting started. The day of the fair, I spent all morning and a good part of the afternoon finishing up. After Billy got home, we loaded up everything we were going to put on the table and headed out.

This was our display.

The fair was really interesting. Twelve families ended up participating, representing a total of 13 countries. They were chosen for various reasons. Some had served as missionaries in another country. Others had ancestral roots they wanted to share. One family chose Iraq because the husband/father is there right now. All the tables were decorated nicely, and there was all sorts of food to sample. (I thought about taking some, too, but in all my procrastinating, I forgot that detail...) The students were given "passports" to carry with them as they visited the different countries. At each table, they would get a sticker or stamp representing that country. The girl at the table for Japan drew a Japanese symbol in each passport; Billy wrote "Greece" in English and Greek. Several families who didn't make a project for the fair came out to tour it all. I think close to 150 people showed up in all.

Two days later, we went on a field trip to Cici's Pizza. About 40 of us attended. Everyone got to choose which kind of pizza they wanted to make from cheese, Alfredo cheese, pepperoni, ham, or sausage. They took the kids back in groups of five, plus whatever adults needed to supervise them. Caleb, Jacob, and I wanted different kinds of pizza, so I went with their groups, then went back and made my own later.

Caleb made an Alfredo cheese pizza. I didn't realize how simple they are: just Alfredo sauce and cheese. I'm not a fan of Alfredo sauce, but I might break down and buy a jar of it next time we make pizzas so Caleb can help make his own small pizza. (The boys each have a small pizza stone now for making their own pizzas.) Jacob made a pepperoni pizza, and I made a ham one.

As the pizzas finished baking, they were cut and put on the buffet. Everyone got to eat some of their own pizza and sample some of the others. By the time the regular lunch crowd came in, the buffet was nearly overflowing with all the pizzas we had made (and were still making).

It was a great experience for all the kids to see all the processes to get to the point of making the actual pizzas, to take part in making their own, and to see other customers eating the pizzas they had made. It was pretty fun for all the adults, too!

This morning we went on our third and final field trip of the month. I had signed us up back in September to attend Slim Goodbody's "Bodyology" show. (I remember watching Slim Goodbody on TV way back when I was a kid! For some reason, I want to associate him with being on Captain Kangaroo, but I think it was the other way around - Bob Keeshan made special guest appearances in Slim Goodbody's show. Either way...) We all loved the show! The music was catchy, and he taught the audience a few of the songs. There was a lot of audience participation, both verbal and physical. He also had some of the children come on stage to help him with a few things. One of the girls from our group got to go up when he called for a few children who could do "something amazing" using their bones and muscles. A few kids did cartwheels and bridges (cheater back bends). One boy did a little breakdancing; another one did the worm. But 8-year-old Jade got the biggest applause for her double front handspring. Very impressive!

Apparently the "Bodyology" show comes through here every year or so. We'll have to be sure we go again next year. It'll be pretty much the same thing, but the boys loved it so much, I know they'd love to go back. If you ever get a chance to go with your kids or grandkids, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday Night Results: Round 1

I apologize in advance for the disjointedness of this post. I'm flipping channels between American Idol, Survivor, and Lost. :o)

Well, I called it close with (Leif) Garrett Haley. I thought for sure he'd have the teeny/tweeny vote. Then again, it's probably split several ways right now. Think David Archuleta, Jason Castro, Luke Menard (Orlando Bloom), and Michael Johns (Aussie accent).

I called it right with Amy Davis.

What was up with the "half-time show"? I wasn't impressed. Paula's voice was so distorted by synthesizers and whatnot, there's no way to tell what she really sounds like. I'd like to hear Simon's thoughts...

So close! Amanda Overmyer was in the spotlight with Joanne Borgella, but she was the safe one. I hate to see Joanne go...

It came down between Chikezie and Colton Berry, who left. I'm surprised that he went this soon. (They should have put Kyle through...) At least all my favorite guys are still in.

I won't spill the beans about Survivor, but I will say I was disappointed in tonight's outcome.

Time to run. A new episode of Lost is coming on.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Idol 24: Girls' Round 1

Well, I had issues setting my TV to record Wednesday night's American Idol. I was trying to figure it out, then I got distracted and totally forgot about it until we were eating dinner with our guests. I tried to peer around one of them to see if the lights on the bottom of the TV were on, but I couldn't lean too far without being obvious. Later I noticed the lights weren't on. No AI.

I had an idea that I might be able to find the episode online, so I checked the American Idol website and found the video portion. Of course, the girls' performances weren't uploaded yet, but at least I'd be able to see how they did. The only part of the actual show that I was able to catch was the very end where Simon talked about how the girls did a little better than the guys had done.

Here are my thoughts on the girls' performances, ordered according to the list on the AI website:

1. Syesha Mercado - "Tobacco Road"
She was featured a lot during the auditions. She's got a good voice, but I wasn't impressed with her singing this time around. Her end note sounded way off, and she seemed to be lagging behind the music a bit. I think it was her song choice that caused problems this time around.

2. Ramiele Malubay - "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"
Here's another contestant who was featured heavily during the auditions. She's got a good voice, but overall I didn't like this performance. I guess I just don't like the slower songs. I was bored with the beginning of her performance, but I liked how she picked things up a bit during and after the chorus, and she ended really well. She's good. She's staying.

3. Kristy Lee Cook - "Rescue Me"
Was she the one who kept singing "Amazing Grace" at all her auditions? I can't remember... She did pretty good. At least it was upbeat and she didn't hit any off notes that I could tell. I'm just not a fan of that song.

4. Kady Malloy - "Groovy Kind of Love"
I'm sorry, but all the blondes run together for me. I can't remember who is who. She's got a good voice, but I heard some off notes here and there. Boring song, boring performance.

5. Joanne Borgella - "Say a Little Prayer for You"
I was glad she made it to the finals. She reminds me a little of Mandisa, who I really like. (I love this song; it always reminds me of the dinner table scene from My Best Friend's Wedding.) She started out off-key, but seemed to find her place during the chorus. I think she'll stay around.

6. Carly Smithson - "The Shadow of Your Smile"
I definitely remember her from the auditions. She was one of my favorites and I had a strong feeling she would make it through to the finals. However, I was not impressed with this performance. I hope she sticks around because I know she's got what it takes. She just needs to choose the right song.

7. Brooke White - "Happy Together"
I remember her from the Hollywood auditions - the nanny who was giving up music if she didn't make it through. She's okay. I couldn't help but compare her performance to David Cook's the night before. He did a much better job with this song. At least she picked up the pace a little at the end and finished well. It wasn't an extremely memorable performance, though.

8. Asiah Epperson - "Piece of My Heart"
I really liked her through the auditions. She started out off-key, but found her place pretty quickly. I just like the fact that she picked something upbeat! She doesn't have the best voice, but she's fun, and you've got to be fun to stick around.

9. Amy Davis - "Where the Boys Are"
I don't remember her, and I don't think I'll have to. She was way off at the beginning and continued to hit sour notes all through her song. I think she'll be going home this week.

10. Amanda Overmyer - "Baby Please Don't Go"
As much as I like the rock sound, I don't like her. I never liked her from her first audition. I don't think she has a good voice, and you can't understand half of what she's saying. Please go.

11. Alexandrea Lushington - "Spinning Wheel"
I don't remember her much from the auditions, but I really like her voice. I think she did a great job with this song. I'm glad she danced around instead of standing there like she didn't know what to do with herself. That added a lot to the performance. She's staying.

12. Alaina Whitaker - "More Today than Yesterday"
I don't remember her from the auditions, either. I was a little disappointed that she was repeating another song. (Chikezie sang this Tuesday night.) She did a better job, though. She started off a little rough, but she turned it around pretty quickly and made it fun. I think she'll stay a little longer.

I disagree with Simon. I think the guys did much better. Some of the girls did really well, but only one or two really stand out. I had a harder time picking my top 6 girls. The top 6 guys really leaped out at me.

My favorites (in no particular order - and not solely based on tonight's performances!): Syesha Mercado, Ramiele Malubay, Joanne Borgella, Carly Smithson, Alexandrea Lushington, and Alaina Whitaker. (Of course, this is subject to change.)

My picks to go home: Amy Davis and Kady Malloy. I think Amanda Overmyer has a fan base because she's the "rocker chick" and they won't let her go just yet.

As for previewing Thursday night's winners (or losers) based on the popularity of iTunes downloads, that's not happening. The performances won't be available for download until Friday. I guess I'll just have to wait until then to see who everyone thinks is hot or not.

Weigh-In Wednesday #5

Last week's eating was better than the previous week's, but I still ate more "bad" stuff than I should have. This week should be easier since we're back to a regular schedule and won't be eating out so much. That's such a huge temptation for me, all that delicious food with untold calories and fat. It's so hard to choose a salad when there are so many other great things on the menu. I love salads, but sometimes you just need want something more...

I got more exercise over the last week than I normally do. I was more committed to my morning exercise routine than I had been. I think I only missed one morning. Monday afternoon, the boys and I went out to the greenbelt by our neighborhood so they could ride their scooters and I could walk. I didn't get to do much fast walking, but it was still good to get out of the house. Yesterday afternoon, the boys and I met some of our friends at a local park. After they left, the boys rode their scooters around the pond and I got to get in a fairly brisk walk. I'm looking forward to nice spring weather so we can get out more.

I got confused today when I was walking my laps around the track. I think I was so focused on listening to my music and keeping the pace that I walked an extra lap. My "mile" ended up being 18:43, but I know I walked as fast as I usually do. I'll be glad when I can walk the outside track again. I know it's just two laps to get my mile done there and I don't have to worry about if I walked 8 or 9 laps and just how many more I have left to go. Between sets of weights I walked an extra half-mile. At least I think I did. My time was 9:15, which would equate to an 18:30 mile. I know I was doing better than that, though. I'll just have to be more conscientious of my laps next week. Now I'm wondering if I was ever doing as well as I thought or if I was just leaving off a lap because it's too hard to count 10 of them.

My workout was good. I tried increasing the weight on some of the machines, but my muscles gave out before I completed my 15 repetitions. I was halfway into my second set on the circuit when I noticed the additional 5-lb. weights you can add to the load. Aaaahhhh. I'll have to try that next time instead of increasing by 10 pounds.

When I stepped on the scales after my workout, I just knew my weight would be down again after last week's jump. I was wrong. It was up another half-pound: 160.5. I know muscle weighs more than fat, and I'm trying to convince myself that that's what's going on right now. But I want to see those numbers going down each week, not going back up. I've decided I need to find my tape measure and take some measurements so I'll have another way of checking my progress since the numbers on the scales are deceiving me right now. At least I hope that's what's going on. My clothes are fitting a little looser and a few people have commented that I look like I've lost some weight, so at least those positives are going for me right now.

This week I'm going to be more conscientious about what and how much I eat, as well as getting in more exercise. Hopefully we can make a few more trips to the greenbelt or the park. That's easier - and more fun - than crunches and lunges and squats. Oh, my!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Idol 24: Guys' Round 1

Tonight the top 12 guys sang. Here's what I thought about their 60's-themed performances.

1. David Hernandez - "In the Midnight Hour"
I don't remember him from the auditions, but he has a really nice voice. I was really impressed, as were the judges. What a great way to start things off!

2. Chikezie - "More Today Than Yesterday"
Here's another one I don't remember from the auditions. I wasn't so impressed with him. He sounded off a few times at the beginning of his song, but he got better. However, it seems he can't take Simon's criticism. I don't think he'll last long that way.

3. David Cook - "Happy Together"
Now here's someone I remember from the auditions. I really liked his voice then, especially since he's got a rock sound. (I can do without the pop and R&B; country is okay.) I liked his rendition of "Happy Together", the way he got a little edgier each time he sang the chorus. He definitely made that song his - and the crowd seemed to realize it, too. So did the judges.

4. Jason Yeager - "Moon River"
He's a local guy (from Grand Prairie), but I only remember him from the final of the Hollywood auditions. I don't know if it was his song or his voice, but I wasn't impressed with his performance tonight. He sounded a little off-key a few times. Simon called it a very "cruise ship" performance; I agree.

5. Robbie Carrico - "One Is the Loneliest Number"
Here's another I don't remember except for Hollywood. I'm glad there's another rocker in the group. He's got a good voice, and he really showed it tonight. I was wondering how he was going to do hitting that high note, and he had it covered. I wonder what Simon is seeing/hearing, though, when he questions whether this guy is a rocker or a pop singer. Huh?

6. David Archuleta - "Shop Around"
I definitely remember him. He had a great story about having a paralyzed vocal cord. His speaking voice is a little quiet and almost weak-sounding, but he's got an amazing singing voice. And he's only 17! He did great tonight! Simon said his was the best performance of the night (so far). He's very likeable (and giddy). He'll stay around a while.

7. Danny Noriega - "Jailhouse Rock"
I remember him from the auditions. His "swagger and attitude" annoy me, but he's got a good voice and he did a good job on tonight's song. Simon was far from impressed.

8. Luke Menard - "Everybody's Talkin'"
I don't remember him. He kind of looks like Orlando Bloom, doesn't he? This guy was okay, definitely not one of my favorites. The judges weren't so impressed with him tonight, either.

9. Colton Berry - "Suspicious Minds"
I remember him from the Hollywood round of auditions, especially the end when he and Kyle went to the "Judgment Room" to see which of them made it through to the finals. (I preferred Kyle. He was an ubergeek, but he had a great voice and was very likeable. I would've liked to see his transformation.) I thought it was funny when Colton chatted with Ryan about looking like Ellen Degeneres. I can see him on her show now... As for tonight's performance, I wasn't impressed. I thought this was another "cruise ship" performance. Simon called it "very karaoke".

10. Garrett Haley - "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"
I vaguely remember him from auditions. I mostly remember thinking he looked a lot like Leif Garrett used to look. (He's bald now.) Then Ryan said the same thing. I wasn't impressed with his voice or the song. It was too slow. He picked it up slightly toward the end, but it was too little, too late. Boooooorrrrrrrinnnnggggg. (Randy agreed.) One thing I did like was the fact that he took the criticism well and said he wanted to learn from what the judges had to say.

11. Jason Castro - "Daydream"
Here's another local boy (from Rockwall, only about 20 minutes away). I don't remember him from the regional auditions and only vaguely from Hollywood, even though he stands out with his dreadlocks. For a drummer, he's a great guitar player. And he sings really well while he does it! Well, he was a little off toward the end, but overall, I thought it was really good. I like his personality, too.

12. Michael Johns - "Light My Fire"
I missed most of his Hollywood audition where he sang Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (I love that song!), but I heard the judges talking about how well he had done. I wish I had seen it; I love that song. This Aussie's got it, and he showed it! (His version of this was much better than Amanda Overmyer's when she auditioned.)

My favorites (in no particular order): Robbie Carrico, Jason Castro, Michael Johns, and the 3 Davids (Archuleta, Cook, and Hernandez).

My picks to go home: Luke Menard and Jason Yeager. I would throw Garrett Haley in there, but I think the little girls with cell phones will help keep him in.

On a side note, it'll be interesting to see how well (or poorly) the contestants do on the iTunes downloads. You can see the popularity of the different songs. I wonder if that will be a clue as to who's staying and who's going.

Tomorrow night, the girls sing. I'll have to record it and watch it later since we'll have guests, but I'll hopefully get a chance to watch it and post about it before the results show Thursday night.

My New Recipe Blog

I've recently started a new blog, Ashley's Cafe, where I'll post some of my favorite recipes. I really like seeing what food looks like, so I'm going to try to include pictures when I can. If I don't have a picture to post with a recipe, I'll add it as soon as I can take one and get it uploaded. Bon appetit!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday #18

I made a few changes to last week's menu, so the pizza has carried over to this week. Otherwise things went as planned and everything was good.

Monday: homemade pizza with mushrooms, black olives, and onions
The small baking stones I ordered for the boys came in, so they get to make their own pizzas tonight!

Tuesday: lasagna, garlic bread, salad
We weren't able to go out to lunch Sunday with the couple from our Sunday school class, so I invited them over for dinner one night. We told them Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday would be better, but I haven't heard anything back. We'll go with the lasagna whichever night they come.

Wednesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: blackened tilapia, rice, broccoli

Sunday: sandwiches

For more menu ideas, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Jacob in the ball pit. I can't believe this was nearly two years ago!

See more photos of "Infinity" at Photo Friday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Weigh-In Wednesday #4

Last weekend was a bad one, food-wise. Too much cake, ice cream, French fries, fried chicken, corn nuggets, candy, etc. And the ice cream and cake have continued into this week. Tomorrow the leftover cake goes into the garbage disposal, and the ice cream gets pushed toward the back of the freezer. The candy will go into the cabinet where I can't see it unless I'm looking for it.

I'm going to try harder this weekend, though it will probably be difficult again. My parents and sisters are coming to celebrate birthdays and we'll be going out to eat again. Then Sunday we'll be going out to lunch with a couple from our Sunday school class. (They write the class' monthly newsletter and Billy and I are the featured couple for March.)

I have noticed that I'm not drinking as much water as I should. I tend to get busy with homeschooling and housework in the mornings and "forget" to drink. I usually have my first big glass of water with my lunch, then try to make up the difference in the evenings. That's another area where I need to work harder.

My exercise routine was better this time around. I started exercising in the mornings at home. Tuesdays and Thursdays are core and abs; Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are upper and lower body. I just need to be consistent with it.

Today I walked a mile in 16:47. Between sets of weights, I walked a half mile in 8:15. (My pace was quicker, thanks to Third Day's Saved!) I walked an additional untimed cool-down lap after my last set of weights. And I added the Row to my upper body workout regimen. I'm not sure how many machines I use now. I just start at one end and work my down to the other. I liked my routine better today: 1 mile, 1 round of weights, half a mile, 1 round of weights, cool-down lap. I think I'm going to keep going with that routine. Once the weather warms up a little, I'll go back to walking my mile on the outdoor track.

Today's weigh-in: 160.0 lbs. That's up 0.8 from last week, so all the eating really did me in. My goal for next week is to lose that 0.8 lbs.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Eat at Atheneo's

Last week we found out about a new Greek restaurant that opened near us! It's called Atheneo's Greek Village Cafe. We went Saturday night with Billy's parents to celebrate his and Jacob's birthdays (and are hoping to go there again this Saturday night with my parents and sisters. Yes, it's that good!).

For starters, we ordered tiropita (feta wrapped in phyllo and either baked or fried) and dolmadakia (rice-stuffed grape leaves). I liked the tiropita better than that I had tried at the Greek Food Festival. I wasn't impressed with the dolmadakia. The leaves were tough and the thick sauce on them was too tart for my tastes. The rice inside was good, but not enough to have to deal with the leaves. A friend of mine said we need to try the saganaki (which sounds Japanese to me). It's flaming cheese. She said it tasted great and her daughter loved the presentation of it.

For the main course, Billy's mom and I chose the Chicken Souvlaki "sandwich" - large chunks of marinated, grilled chicken in a fresh pita with tomatoes, red onion, and tzatziki sauce (cucumber yogurt sauce) on top. It tasted just as good as those from the Greek Food Festival, but what made it even better is the knowledge that I can now get one whenever I want! I don't have to wait until late September to get one anymore. Billy and his dad got souvlaki plates, which came with two skewers of meat (Billy got chicken; his dad got pork), the vegetable of the day (corn), pita wedges, peppercinis, choice of a soup or salad, and rice or potatoes. They both got Greek potatoes, potato wedges seasoned and fried. They were great! I found where you can get an order of them as an appetizer, so I'll be getting those to go with my souvlaki next time.

Something else I saw on the menu that looked really good was the Gyro Pizza. I think you can get one for a lunch special, so when the boys are gone over Spring Break, I'm planning to try one of those for lunch one day...

The desserts on the menu looked good, but we were too full for dessert there. Besides we had Jacob's birthday cake waiting at home - Mint Chocolate Fudge. It turned out better this time, though not quite as minty as I'd hoped. (I only used 1/3 of the bag of mint chips instead of the whole thing.)

We chatted with the owner's wife a bit. She's from Wisconsin, but her husband is Greek. His dream has been to own a Greek restaurant. They're both still working day jobs in addition to running the restaurant each night. I hope they are successful with it. We told her we would definitely be repeat customers! I told her I'd pass along recommendations. I think one of my friends may be going there tomorrow night with her husband on their "date night".

I can't wait to go back!

Menu Plan Monday #17

I'm a little late tonight with getting my menu up, but here it finally is.

Monday: potluck
It's haircut night, so I don't want to be standing around in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, then cutting everyone's hair...

Tuesday: pick-up
I have a Pampered Chef team meeting, so I'll pick something up for the boys on the way. I'll get to eat whatever people bring to the meeting. Hopefully it's not all desserts!

Wednesday: Broccoli Cheese Soup and Tomato Basil bread from Panera

Thursday: leftovers, maybe some baked potatoes to put the soup over...

Friday: homemade pizza
It'll be our standard - mushrooms, olives, and onions.

Saturday: out!
We'll be going out with my parents and sisters to celebrate Jacob's and Billy's birthdays.

Sunday: sandwiches

For more menu ideas, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Update: It just dawned on me that Thursday is Valentine's Day! Maybe I'll make a special dessert... I'm really wanting to make some Stuffed Strawberries, and the fact that they're healthy makes it even more appealing!

Friday, February 8, 2008

What Is It?

What is it? Leave your answer in my comments section.

To see other "What is it?" pics, or to participate, check out Photo Friday.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

13 Possibilities for the "Oceanic Six"

The mention of the "Oceanic Six" in last week's episode of Lost got me wondering: Who are they? And why are there only six?

1. Hurley is one of the six. He said so when the police captured him after the car chase. "Don't you know who I am? I'm one of the Oceanic Six! I'm one of the Oceanic Six."

2. Jack is, too. He talked about still signing autographs every now and then.

3. Kate? I don't think so because she was a fugitive. Wouldn't she have been arrested? She might have been given amnesty, but she killed her stepfather and was an accomplice in a bank robbery.

4. Sawyer? He's a con, so he probably wouldn't want the publicity.

5 & 6. Sun and Jin? They're expecting a baby and, knowing the likelihood of Sun's death if she stays on the island, they probably want desperately to get off. But they wouldn't want the fame of being survivors since they were trying to escaper Sun's Korean mobster father. Since Oceanic 815 was an international flight and had people of all nationalities on board, the news of survivors would have been world-wide.

7. Claire? She has every reason to want to get off the island with baby Aaron. I'd say she's a definite possibility. I wouldn't consider Aaron one of the six because he's an infant and was born on the island. Technically he was aboard the plane, but he wasn't listed on the manifest.

8. Sayid? He was on a mission to find someone when the plane crashed. I don't think he's got anything to lose by staying on the island and everything to gain by getting off it.

9. Locke? Definitely not. He's got some connection to the island, and he's not paralyzed there. Leaving would probably mean he would lose his mobility again.

10 & 11. Rose and Bernard? Like Locke (even though she doesn't like Locke), she feels the island has healed her. She's stated, quite emphatically, that she's not leaving the island. And Bernard isn't going to leave his wife behind.

12 & 13. Michael and Walt? They supposedly left the island in a boat, but who's to trust Ben and the Others? I don't think they'll show up again, though. The time elapsed on the island has only been a few months, while the episodes have been filmed over the last few years. The actor who played Walt would've grown too much for his character to stay consistent. (Thus the "taller ghost Walt" that Locke saw when he was in the pit of death.)

Bonus: 14. Vincent? He's lovable and has nothing to hide, except maybe an occasional bone. :o)

Desmond, Juliet, Danielle, Alex, Carl, and Ben don't qualify since they weren't on the Oceanic flight.

My picks for the "Oceanic Six": Hurley, Jack, Claire, Sayid, and, I guess, Sun, and Jin.

Weigh-In Wednesday #3

It's been a crazy week, and a difficult one food-wise.

Saturday evening we met some friends at Cheddar's, a favorite restaurant that we often forget about. (There's not one along our nearby "Restaurant Rows".) As I perused the menu, I couldn't decide between the Grilled Chicken Salad or their delicious Dijon Chicken and Mushrooms. I chose the latter; you can get a salad anywhere! I haven't found nutrition info on that, but I'm sure the calories are through the roof, even though I ate only half. (I had the other half for lunch Monday.) I also snacked on a few greasy tortilla chips and some really good salsa. And I had queso with ground beef on two chips. And I ate a few of the boys' fries, which were really good. (Remember, I can't turn down a good French fry!) After that, we went next door to Chick-Fil-A for ice cream. I got a kiddie cone, which I really didn't need or want. Still, a plus was that I wasn't miserably full when all was said and done. I've been known to eat way beyond my comfort level just because the food tastes so good.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was another high-calorie day, but I justified that because I had worked out really well. I took the boys to McDonald's for lunch for Jacob's birthday so they could play in the play area. I had a grilled Snack Wrap with honey mustard dressing, which is about 260 calories. Not bad. Then I ate about 450 calories in fries. (The boys complain when I get them one order of small fries to share, so I ordered them each their own. Caleb decided he didn't want many since he was saving room for a hot fugde sundae. Jacob didn't eat the first one. I couldn't stand to throw them away, so I ate them...) I should've stopped there, but when I ordered the boys' ice cream, I got some for myself, too. Jacob and I ordered chocolate dipped cones. The chocolate wasn't ready, so while we were waiting, our ice cream started melting. The cashier put those on our tray for free and made us fresh new cones when the chocolate was ready. I hated to throw them away, and I definitely didn't want to eat them! There was a lady in line next to me with her young grandson, so I asked her if she would like to have them. She looked at me in surprise, then gratefully accepted them.

For Jacob's birthday supper, I made spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and brownies. (I should have made the salad on my menu, but I was tired from the day and wanted to get out of the kitchen and relax while everything was finishing up cooking.) I only had one serving of spaghetti, but I ate more garlic bread and brownies than I should have.

Today we're going to Cici's Pizza for a homeschool association field trip. (Pizza is another weakness of mine!) Then supper tonight is leftover spaghetti and bread - and brownies. It's going to be another tough day!

At least my workout was good! I walked a mile in 16:49. Between sets of upper body weights, I walked another .4 miles in 6:40. I forgot the time on my last .3 miles after my last set of weights, but it felt consistent with my other times. (Had my walking tunes playing...)

I didn't get around to starting any other exercises at home until this morning. I did some core exercises this morning and will do a few more later today. Once I've gotten the instructions for the different exercises down, it won't take me so long to get through them and I'll be able to go through the whole routine at one time in the mornings. (I find too many other things to do to exercise at home in the afternoons or evenings.)

Yesterday's weigh-in: 159.2 pounds. (This was my second weigh-in. After the first one, I took my shoes off and it really made a difference! But I was also wearing a heavy sweatshirt, so I don't know how accurate it was. Next week I'll weigh before I change into my street clothes, even though the scales are on my way out of the dressing room.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Menu Plan Monday #16

We ended up making a few changes to last week's menu. I didn't have enough tilapia in the freezer, and I didn't go to the grocery store Friday because I didn't want to take the boys with me, so it ended up being a fend-for-yourself night. The boys had PB&J, I had canned soup, and Billy had hot dogs (I think).

Saturday afternoon, our good friends from up in McKinney called and wanted to get together. We met them in Garland for dinner at Cheddar's, then went next door to Chick-Fil-A for dessert. It was much quieter there, so we were able to visit more easily. The kids had fun eating their ice cream (although Grant and Jacob dropped their cones and had to get new ones) and playing in the play area.

Oh, and I added BBQ meatballs to go along with our baked potatoes (which ended up not being super-stuffed) for Super Bowl Sunday. (Congrats to the NY Giants! I'm a fan of the Mannings, and it's great that the brothers won back-to-back Super Bowl championships.) I decided to hold off on the brownies until Wednesday, Jacob's birthday.

This week is going to be pretty crazy, so we'll probably end up eating a lot of sandwiches.

Monday: sandwiches or hot dogs/corn dogs
I'll be at a SWIM Board meeting.

Tuesday: sandwiches
We'll be hosting a table about Greece at our homeschool association's "World's Fair".

Wednesday: spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad, brownies
It is Jacob's 5th birthday! He couldn't decide what he wanted to eat, so I chose this. It's one of his favorite meals, and I've made it for him on his last 2 birthdays.

Thursday: leftovers
Not only will Lost be on, but the new season of Survivor comes on right before it. I'm not going to want to do much cooking or cleaning up!

Friday: ???
Billy's parents will be coming sometime that afternoon/evening. I don't know if we'll have sandwiches or take-out.

Saturday: OUT!
We'll go out to celebrate Jacob's and Billy's birthdays.

Sunday: sandwiches
AWANA nights are not good for cooking anything since we don't get home until 7:00.

I'm going to have to come up with some different ideas for quick-fix suppers for when we've got things going on. Sandwiches get old really fast - especially when you have them for lunch quite frequently!

For more menu ideas, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.