Monday, March 24, 2008

Road Trip!

Since the boys were gone last week and Billy had Good Friday off work, we decided to take a quick trip to Hot Springs, AR. We left Thursday afternoon and made it there about 4 1/2 hours later.

The Hotel
I highly recommend staying at a Holiday Inn Express. Our room was clean, spacious, and came with a mini-fridge and free wireless internet. The free hot breakfast is pretty good, too! The first morning I ate a biscuit with sausage and gravy - a little heavier than normal since we were going to be hiking on Hot Springs Mountain. The second morning I went lighter - a toasted English muffin with butter and seedless blackberry jam. Yum! Other offerings included fried eggs (Friday morning), scrambled eggs (Saturday morning), cinnamon rolls, bagels, toast, yogurt, cereal, bananas, boiled eggs, and applesauce. Drink choices included water, milk, coffee, and apple, orange, and cranberry juices.

We had planned to pick up a burger or something from a nearby fast food restaurant when we got into town because we wanted to be sure we were in our room to watch LOST. But as we pulled in to the hotel parking lot, we saw a Bennigan's located right in front of the hotel. After checking in, we walked over to place our order. We figured it would be ready to pick up by the time we had unloaded our luggage. The lady who took our order said they deliver to our hotel and the one on the other side of the restaurant, so we took her up on it. We ordered our burgers and fries, went back to our room, and enjoyed watching some of Miss Guided while we waited for our addiction to begin. After half an hour, Billy called the restaurant to see why our order was taking so long. Whoever he talked with said, "She's going out the door right now." A few minutes later, our food arrived.

The Hike
We left the hotel before 8:00 a.m., headed to Wal-Mart to buy a few gallons of drinking water so we could fill up our hydration bladders in our backpacks. We wandered around the store a while since it was still a little early, then finally headed to the checkout. Not long after that, we were pulling into the parking garage in downtown Hot Springs. Thinking parking was still free, we didn't carry any quarters with us, but as we pulled into the building, we saw a notice that it was now paid parking. We rummaged around and found a few quarters to feed the meter while we walked around downtown trying to find somewhere that was open and would give us change. We ended up in the lobby of the Arlington Hotel, where we bought a roll of quarters. We walked back to the garage, gathered all our gear for our hike, and fed our meter enough quarters to last until 5:00 p.m.

We stopped off at the visitor's center to get trail maps, then headed toward Arlington Lawn and the trailhead. I thought I was going to do okay starting off. I mean I walked a mile in 17 minutes just a few days before. I wasn't taking into consideration the incline, whereas the track I walk on every week is f.l.a.t. I was huffing and puffing halfway up the incline, and this was just the first five minutes! Thankfully the whole hike wasn't that steep! From Peak Trail (our starting point), we connected with Hot Springs Mountain Trail. After a while, we found a bench and sat down to have a snack. I had noticed that my jeans felt a little heavy, like they were sliding down, but I couldn't imagine why. When I stood up from the bench and started to put my backpack back on, I realized my hydration bladder was leaking. This was the first time it had been used, so I was disappointed, thinking it had a leak. Billy took it out of the pack and found that the hose on the bottom wasn't screwed on tight. He fixed it quickly, and I walked around with a wet rear the rest of the hike.

We had intended to hike all the way around Hot Springs Mountain Trail, then come back down Peak and back into downtown. Instead we found Gulpha Gorge Trail, which was pretty strenuous and led in a different direction. Then we veered off onto Dead Chief Trail, which was even more strenuous. The last bit was a steep downhill trail that wreaked havoc on my knees. After 3 hours and 3 miles of trails, we rejoined the civilization of the downtown area.

Most of the trees along the trail were just beginning to bud, and a few had some white flowers on them, but I wasn't sure what they were. I saw one tree that bent at an awkward angle and had ferns growing along the bend. We saw one tree that had split, then peeled in half all the way to the ground. Along Dead Chief Trail, we started seeing small magnolia trees growing here and there among among hickory, pine, and other sorts. The shiny, bright green leaves were a stark contrast the the browns of dead leaves and the deep shades of the evergreens. We also came upon several small streams that crossed the trails. It was nice to stop at them and listen to the trickle of the water.

Bath House Row
After we finished our hike, we strolled back to the van to unload our gear. By that time, my jeans were almost dry. We first headed over to tour one of the old bath houses that also serves as a visitor center. I can't imagine what it would've been like to be a patron there. Some of the showers (I guess for the "needle showers") looked like gas chambers from WWII. The massage therapy rooms and equipment looked like torture devices. It was very interesting to see.

Buckstaff Bath House is still in operation there, and has been continuously since 1912, Quapaw Bath House is currently undergoing renovations. I don't know if that's to make it ready for tours or as another working bath house. The other bath houses are closed to the public. I really can't see myself using a public bath house like that. I'm sure there are all sorts of regulations on cleanliness, but I still don't think I could bring myself to use one.

The Shops
We went in several shops, but the only thing we bought was ice cream... We wandered into a candy store that had all sorts of chocolate treasures. Along the back half of the counter, was a freezer with several flavors of ice cream. Of course I got chocolate peanut butter! It was sooooo good; I wished I had gotten two scoops instead of one, but I didn't need that much...

PoMonkey had mentioned an art shop that sold paintings of monkeys in Victorian clothing (a story she needs to share) and wondered if it was still there. It is! It's called Tara's Affordable Art (or something similar). We saw several Victorian monkeys on all sizes of canvas. I thought about taking a picture of one, but I figured the store owner wouldn't appreciate it at all... Don't worry, there were other paintings, too.

One store we went into sold strands of natural stone beads. The only type different from what I can get around here was dinosaur bone beads. I'm not sure how authentic they are... I spent quite a while looking at all the different beads, but nothing really caught my eye.

The last store we went into had something I'd never heard of before: Crystal Singing Bowls. While Billy and I were standing there looking at them and wondering what they were, one of the store clerks came up and started playing them and telling us about them. Each bowl is a different size, and when struck with a suede-covered stick, plays a different musical note. When you rub the stick around the outside edge of the bowl, the tone gets louder and more haunting. It was beautiful. Very New Age. And very expensive. The smallest one was $120, I believe. Billy and I took turns playing with them for a few minutes, then finally worked up the strength to walk on our sore feet back to the parking garage.

The Disappointment
We were really looking forward to going out to eat at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Hot Springs: Facci's. I had first been there nearly 30 years ago (yes, 30!) when my grandparents took my cousin Eric and me on a trip there. We went again on another trip, then Memaw, Aunt Sue, and Leigh Ann and I went another time. Every year it was good. When Billy and I honeymooned in Hot Springs, we ate there, and again on a return trip a few years later. The last time we were in Hot Springs together, we saw the restaurant had burned down. You can't imagine my disappointment. Facci's was tradition! I thought to check before this trip and found they had opened again, right next door to their old location. I was thrilled!

After we sat down and ordered our lasagna, salad (for me), soup (for Billy), and drinks, they brought out some wonderfully delicious - and piping hot - focaccia bread with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. It was heavenly. Our salad and soup came, and they were really good. Shortly our main dish was brought to the table. The dinner plates were completely covered with lasagna and sauce, with two huge meatballs perched on top. I eagerly took my first bite. Ehhh. Not so good. It was edible, but it wasn't anything like I had remembered. Still, I ate. I was starving. When I was finally getting full, I tasted each thing on my plate separately. The lasagna was full of too much ricotta cheese and the noodles were overcooked. It was all the same taste and texture. The sauce had the slightest hint of garlic, and I could see a little seasoning in it, but it tasted mostly like tomato sauce. The meatballs, when eaten in the same bite with lasagna and sauce, weren't bad. But when eaten alone, there was not much taste other than salt. Should we ever make it to Hot Springs again, I don't think we'll be going back to Facci's.

The Return
After another free hot breakfast at the hotel, we headed toward Shreveport to meet Billy's parents and pick up the boys. We met for lunch at Country Tavern, hoping it would be as good as we remembered. (I don't think we'd been there in about 5 1/2 years.) It was. And when our waitress brought out our hot washcloths for our hands, Jacob decided he needs one every night...

We made it home by 4:00 p.m. and were all feeling pretty worn from our time away from home. I got the boys into bed later than I wanted to, then Billy and I stayed up a little longer to watch an episode or two of The Office and wind down. Then I crashed. Hard.

It was a really fast trip, but it was good. It was physically tiring for Billy, which he needed. He gets mentally tired after working and going to class during the day and studying for a few hours each night. He thinks he hasn't been sleeping well because he hasn't been physically active. Maybe now that he and Caleb have new bikes, they can start riding a few times a week to get some fresh air and exercise together. (Once Jacob learns to ride, I'll get a bike and we can all ride as a family. I'm looking forward to that!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

White Musk Frangipani Rain

I am in love with Bath Junkie!

As I wandered around town today after a getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist's office and getting my hair trimmed (not since July!), I strolled into Bath Junkie with a slight idea of what kind of place it was. I knew you could mix scents to create your own special fragrance, but that was all I knew.

There were so many different products to choose from, but after looking them over three or four times, I finally decided on "Shea Buttah Lotion" and "Shower Gel-lo".

On to the scents. There were so many to choose from! My first thought was How on earth will I ever come up with something I like? I may as well find one scent and go with it... When I saw "Dirt", my curiosity got the best of me and I had to take a whiff. Ugh! Smells just like dirt. Why? Who?

I moved on to lovelier smells: Colombian Coffee, Chocolate, Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Caramel, Cool Water, Cinnamon, Clove, Buttercream, Linen, Ocean, Rain Forest, Cucumber, Fig, Strawberry Wine, Cherry Almond, Blueberry, Gardenia, Sweet Magnolia, Jasmine,...

I spent about 15 minutes sniffing and mentally noting what I liked and what I didn't. My favorites were subtle, fresh, relaxing scents. I would take a combination of 2 or 3 fragrances and put them on a slip of paper. After it dried, I waved it under my nose to see if it was just right. My third time I got it.

First, White Musk. I remember loving the smell of musk when I was little. Do you ever get a deja vu moment? I do, and when I do, there's always the smell of musk. I still love it, and I don't really know where to find it. (Not that I've really looked...)

Next, I chose Rain. It's always a fresh scent and it really goes well with a lot of other fragrances. It mixed well with the musk.

Finally, I chose Frangipani. (It's also known as Plumeria, which I didn't know until I got home and looked it up. Frangipani is more fun.)

Once I got that combination, I knew I had found my bliss. I carried that slip of paper around and kept waving it under my nose. When it was finally my turn (there were several people in the store and only one person working), I handed the paper to the clerk and told her to smell it. She loved how relaxing it was. She told me to choose the color I wanted added in, so I picked light blue for the gel and left the lotion white. She got everything blended, then wrapped up my purchases in matching blue and white paper and put it in the cute, clear bag. I left my slip of scented paper in my van so it'll smell good every time I get in.

If you ever wonder what I would like (Mama, Melissa, Lindsay, Ginny, etc.), White Musk Frangipani Rain (in a lotion or a shower product) from Bath Junkie is perfect. Three squirts of each scent. Color doesn't matter.

I think I need to put some lotion on my hands...

One of these things is not like the others...

One of these things just doesn't belong: Carly Smithson, Kristy Lee Cook, Amanda Overmyer. (If you don't want to know the outcome, don't read any further...

No way Carly belonged in the bottom 3! I'm so glad she was safe after all.

Kristy Lee Cook has been in the bottom 2 or 3 every single week, with good reason. She was better this week than last, but she's still close to being on her way out.

Finally! Amanda Overmyer is gone! Maybe next week will be Kristy's finale.

I didn't feel like an Idolplay-by-play last night. I was kind of bored with the Beatles again, and overall the performances were just ho-hum. I do have a few comments, though.

1. David Archuleta has a really good voice, but he's getting predictable and boring. I'd like to see him do something else.

2. Jason Castro is also getting predictable and boring. I want to see him sing something in another style. He's not the best singer, but he's got the popular vote because of his looks and his humble, very likable, down-to-earth personality.

3. Ramiele Malubay has a really good voice, but she's playing the "little girl" act a bit too much. She needs to get back to performing music instead of performing everything else.

4. Chikezie is taking chances and pulling them off. It's fun wondering each week what he'll do next.

5. Brooke White, Carly Smithson, and David Cook are consistently good, regardless of what the judges have been saying. Brooke's got a great Carly Simon/Stevie Nicks sound going on and she's just so darn likeable! Carly has a powerful voice and just nails it week after week. David's got a great voice and he takes chances and makes changes to make the songs his own. No karaoke or cruise ship performances from him! (Yes, I know he's done rock every week, but he's varied things a lot. And I prefer rock to pop and country.)

6. The second Beatles week was boring. One week was good; two lacks creativity. Even Simon wasn't thrilled with a second week of it.

7. I think the contestants don't understand the term "song choice". That doesn't mean choosing a song because it has a special meaning for you or because it's one you've always liked. It means choosing a song that you can sing well, one that shows your range as well as your emotions. One that challenges you in a good way. There are plenty of songs I like or that have special meaning to me, but I can't sing them worth a flip. Well, I can't really sing anything worth a flip, but you know what I mean.

I hope next week gives us - and them - something more to choose from.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Serendipity: the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.

My fortune cookie from Mai's today read, "Now is the best time for you to be spontaneous. Serendipity!"

I had considered being spontaneous today, but with all the heavy rains, I decided to come home after lunch instead. Maybe I'll be spontaneous tomorrow in between my dentist and hair appointments, or Thursday after I work out again.

I went out in the rain this morning to work out, then met Billy for lunch. By the time we got to Mai's, it was really pouring down and the thunder and lightning had started. Luckily we got there before the lunch crowd and were able to get a parking spot right in front of the door.

After studying the lunch specials, I finally decided on Garlic Sauteed Shrimp with fried rice, a Vietnamese roll, and chicken soup on the side. The shrimp was good, but not something I'd want often. It was mostly sauce with onion and scallion slices and 6 shrimp. It wasn't as spicy as I thought it would be. The fried rice was really good, different from what you get at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant. It was sweeter and had more seasoning. The soup was also sweet. It was mostly broth with a few pieces of chicken, some rice noodles, and some cilantro. I think next time I'll try something other than the soup; I'm not a fan of cilantro. Of course, I loved the Vietnamese roll.

Billy chose Lemon Grass Beef. He had told me that it didn't have a strong lemon flavor, as the name "lemon grass" indicates, but I was still a little leery of ordering it. He gave me a few bites of it and I loved it! I think I'm going to try that or the lemon grass chicken next time so I can get a better idea of the flavor. Still, the coconut curry chicken dish is hard to beat!

I guess discovering I liked the lemon grass beef was serendipitous after all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Weigh-In Wednesday #8

I guess I'm past the first few easy pounds of weight loss. I'm down some from last week, but it seems I'm stuck where I am. I know I would do better if I'd be more diligent about my eating. But sometimes I just want it! At least with spring and summer (read: heat) around the corner, I'll be less likely to eat so much - and more likely to eat more salads.

The whole time change thing is really taking a toll on me this time. I'm so tired when I finally drag out of bed in the mornings that I don't really feel like exercising. Monday morning, after I got up, showered, dressed, and read in my Bible, I curled up on the couch for a 30-minute nap. I never got around to doing any exercising. Tuesday and this morning I did my ab exercises. Yesterday I walked my mile on the outdoor track, but wasn't able to time myself very well. (It's hard to do that on a wristwatch.) I went through my upper body routine pretty quickly, walked my half-mile (8:20), then went through the upper body routine again. I realized the outdoor track is a better workout than the indoor track since it has a few small hills. The indoor track is flat.

After my workout, I weighed in at 159.1. I'm still see-sawing. Maybe next week I can see more of a difference since I'll be going to the gym twice. Of course, we'll be eating out a little more since the boys will be out of town, so maybe the extra exercising will just keep me even... It's all about choices.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Idol 12 Performances

Yes! McCartney-Lennon songs! This should be interesting...

1. Syesha Mercado - "Got to Get You into My Life"
I wasn't impressed with her this week. The song didn't seem to fit her. Randy and Paula said she started off weak but got better; Simon liked it all. I disagree all around. I don't think she ever found her place. Still, I like her and don't want to see her go home just yet.

2. Chikezie - "She's a Woman"
Wow! I loved the way he started out. It kind of reminded me of O Brother, Where Art Thou?. (I did not steal that reference from Paula, either. I typed that before she said it.) Then he rocked! Great job! This proves right here why he beat Danny Noriega last week. If he keeps up with performances like this, he's solid on my list.

3. Ramiele Malubay - "In My Life"
Slow, but good. She's got a really good voice no matter what she sings. After Chikezie's performance, it's a little bit of a let down. I hope the remaining contestants liven things up a bit. I disagree with Simon and Randy that she might be gone next week.

4. Jason Castro - "If I Fell"
More acoustic guitar. It was okay. I didn't like the way his voice would go high, then back down for the next note. It was almost like he was going to change keys, and then decided against it. I still like him, though. He's got a great personality, kind of the boy-next-door type. I hope he doesn't use the guitar every week.

5. Carly Smithson - "Come Together"
She knocked it out! (She usually does.) She's a powerhouse! She hit all the notes and added a little extra in just the right places. Great job! Can you tell she's one of my favorites?

6. David Cook - "Eleanor Rigby"
Impressive, once again. He really does a good job of taking a song and bringing a little (or a lot of) rock to it. I liked the intensity of his voice. Simon said it was "brilliant" and called it when he said "if it remains a talent competition instead of a popularity contest". He's definitely got the talent.

7. Brooke White - "Let It Be"
Another great song from her. She made it her own while staying true to the original. I liked how she played the piano along with singing. She's done guitar, too. She's very musically gifted. I really like her performances, and the fact that she reminds me a little of Carly Simon works in her favor. She's solid near the top of my list.

8. David Hernandez - "I Saw Her Standing There"
To borrow Randy's sometime critique, "It was just okay for me." Billy said it looked like another cruise ship performance. Randy and Paula both described it as overdone. Simon called it "corny, verging on desperate". Yes, yes, and yes. His performance didn't seem to mesh well with everyone else's. Not in the same class.

9. Amanda Overmyer - "You Can't Do That"
First impression: don't like the hair (still) and don't like the striped pants. Did she add more blond streaks? Okay, on to her singing. I just don't like her voice. Yes, she sounds a little like Janis Joplin, but there are so many other better voices in this competition. And it's often hard to understand what she's saying. I want her to go home.

10. Michael Johns - "Across the Universe"
He did pretty good. For the most part, there wasn't really anything to set him apart from several others tonight. He's done better. I think he'll stay, but I hope he starts doing things to stand out or he won't be around much longer.

11. Kristy Lee Cook - "Eight Days a Week"
Oh, boy. She's taking it country... Didn't like it. At all. Especially the horrible ending. Her country is old style. Simon said it sounded like "Dolly Parton on helium". None of the judges liked it, and no one in my house did either.

12. David Archuleta - "We Can Work It Out"
Oops! He forgot the words! Not good! This was not a good song for him. Still, he's sticking around. He's got a great voice, just made a bad choice of song and had a bad night.

Best performances of the night: Chikezie
Runners up: Carly Smithson and David Cook

Worst: Kristy Lee Cook

My pick to go home: Kristy Lee Cook

Update: Sooooo close! She was in the bottom 2, but David Hernandez was a little less popular with the voting public. Could've been his cheesy performance, or it could've been the scandal... He's got a good voice, but he needs to work on his style and delivery.

Next week will bring us more McCartney-Lennon songs. Wonder how that will go... There are so many other options, I'm ready for something different now, myself.

10 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Spring

Today's Ten on Tuesday:

1. SWIM Wives' Retreat
2. getaway to Hot Springs, AR
3. completing the self-study program I've been enrolled in for the last 4 1/2 years
4. warmer weather
5. trips to the park and the zoo
6. Easter (Resurrection Sunday)
7. longer daylight hours
8. getting back to wearing capris, t-shirts, and flip-flops
9. lighter meals
10. Billy's graduation
Bonus: 11. Our friend PoMonkey will be stopping by to sleep on our couch as she passes through town!

Technically, some of the things on my list will happen before spring officially arrives, but it's basically already here in Texas. (Other than the two snowfalls we had last week...)

What are you looking forward to?

Menu Plan Monday #21

Last week's biscuit cups were really good, but there are a few changes I'll make next time. I hope to get it posted on my recipe blog this week, along with a few other recipes.

Yesterday was busy with Pampered Chef stuff, but now that I've finally finished my monthly newsletter, I can get back to regular blogging - and menu planning.

Monday: Pizza

Tuesday: Tuscan Chicken over Angel Hair Pasta, salad, garlic bread

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Caleb decided he wanted to go out to eat for his birthday this year. His choice: Panda Express. I know what he wants, too - Mandarin Chicken and Chinese Noodles. (I think we'll all be getting some Mandarin Chicken!) He also decided he'd like me to make some brownies for his "cake" that night.

Friday: sandwiches, hot dogs, corn dogs, whatever
I have a show scheduled, but not sure what the turnout will be. I'll know more tomorrow night or Thursday.

Saturday: OUT!
Billy's parents will be in town to celebrate Caleb's birthday, so we'll let Caleb pick where he wants to eat. (With some guidance, of course. No McDonald's or Chuck E. Cheese!)

Sunday: ???!
The boys will be going back with Billy's parents for a week, so we'll probably go out to eat that evening.

Next week is spring break and the boys will be out of town, so we'll probably do more going out to eat than eating in. When we do eat in, it'll most likely be sandwiches or something quick.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Feast 182

It's been a while since I've participated in Friday's Feast...

If you could be any current celebrity for one whole week, who would you want to be?
I'm choosing next week for celebrity week. And I choose Evangeline Lilly. LOST has resumed filming again, so it would be fun to hang out with all the cast.

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you enjoy talking on the phone?
I'd say a 2. It's easier for me to communicate by email because as soon as I'm on the phone, Jacob is right at my side. "Who's that? Can I talk? I want to talk. Who is it?" I've been known to take my phone and hide in the bathroom or the laundry room just for some peace and quiet. Thankfully Caleb has learned to put his hand on my shoulder if he needs me for something while I'm on the phone.

With my business, I have to make calls almost daily. Most of that gets done after 8:30 p.m. and the boys are in bed, but since I don't like to call anyone past 9:00 p.m., I have a relatively short block of time to get my calls done. I have started making a few calls during the day, though, when I know the boys are busy with something and won't be interrupting me.

Name a charitable organization to which you have donated (or would like to).
Samaritan's Purse (Operation Christmas Child), Salvation Army, Goodwill, Luke's Closet (DTS clothing ministry for its seminary students), American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, St. Jude's

Of course, I don't donate to all of them all the time. Some I donate to periodically, some I've donated to once or twice in the distant past.

Main Course
What is a food you like so much you could eat it every single day for a month?

Have you or anyone in your family had the flu this year?
Thankfully, no! Ever since missing getting our shots in 2003 - and all having the flu at the same time - we all get our flu shots every year.

What are your answers?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Idol 12

I'm so glad Danny Noriega is gone! Of all my picks this week, I'm glad I was right on that one! I also picked Luke Menard and Kady Malloy to leave. Asia'h Epperson's exit surprised me, but she was low on my list and I probably would've picked her within the next 2 weeks if Kristy Lee Cook had gone home tonight instead.

Top 6 guys: David Cook, David Archuleta, Jason Castro, Michael Johns, David Hernandez, and Chikezie.

Top 6 girls: Brooke White, Syesha Mercado, Ramiele Malubay, Carly Smithson, Amanda Overmyer, and Kristy Lee Cook.

I think the guys have the best talent this season, but there are some real stand-out girls, too. It'll be interesting to see how things play out.

Idol 16: Girls' Round 3

Let's hear it for the girls...

1. Asia'h Epperson - "I Wanna Dance with Somebody"
I was late tuning in so I missed her performance, but I did catch it on the American Idol website. She was lively enough, but she sounded off here and there. I think she's good enough to stay, but not to win.

2. Kady Malloy - "Who Wants to Live Forever"
Not only did I not recognize this song, but her performance was boring and her singing wasn't that great. I hope she's going home this week.

3. Amanda Overmyer - "I Hate Myself for Loving You"
Once again, I'm not impressed with her. She looked better this week, but she didn't sound any better. Her screech toward the end of the song didn't help matters any.

4. Carly Smithson - "I Drove All Night"
She did a great job covering a Celine Dion song, hitting all the notes with not a sour one in the bunch. I've liked her from the start, and that performance shows why.

5. Kristy Lee Cook - "Faithfully"
I love Journey, but I didn't love this. I know I said I wanted her to give country a try, but not on a classic rock song that I love. I wasn't impressed with her twang, and she often couldn't hit or hold the notes. As Bad. Maybe she should go this week instead of next.

6. Ramiele Malubay - "Against All Odds"
She did really well, but I'm not sure she was my favorite of the night. Still, she's got staying power and I bet she'll be in the top 3 or 4.

7. Brooke White - "Love Is a Battlefield"
She's got a great voice! I wasn't sure I would like the toned-down version of this song, but it was really good. She truly made this song her own. She keeps getting better every week.

8. Syesha Mercado - "Saving All My Love for You"
She's back! She did a great job with this song, hitting every note perfectly. She's staying.

My picks: Amanda Overmyer and Kady Malloy. Kristy Lee Cook would be okay to go, too.

Weigh-In Wednesday #7

I had my good moments and my bad moments with eating last week. I ate a little more junk food than I should have, but when I was being conscientious about my food choices, I did really well. I think one thing that helped me blow it was all the delicious starches from Baker's Ribs. Billy picked up BBQ Saturday evening, so we feasted on smoked chicken and brisket, creamy macaroni & cheese, and dill potato salad. There was also some mediocre cole slaw, dinner rolls, and "condiments" (sliced jalapenos, onions, and dill pickles), but I didn't have any of those.

I also skipped a few days of morning exercises for various reasons, but I've picked them back up this week. I started doing a trouble-spot program, breaking it into upper and lower body for M/F and core for T/T.

Today's mile was 16:30; my later half-mile was 8:20. Sometime during my walk, one of my toenails ripped and bled into my sock. I remember feeling a quick pain, but it didn't last. Maybe that was because the muscles along my shins and in my calves were crying out.

My upper body workout went really well. I kept to my lighter weights/more repetitions routine, and I like it better than straining my muscles to complete one set of heavier weights. I still feel the burn, but it's different. I skipped the lateral raises this week. It's not one of my favorite exercises, and since my longer sets cut a little more into my time (and I'm paying for the boys' childcare), I needed to drop one of the machines.

When I stood on the scales this time, my weight was back up a little: 159.0. I need to work more on eating healthier (and less) this week. My inches have stayed the same.

I'm planning to up the ante over Spring Break. The boys will be gone for the week, so I'll be able to get to the gym twice that week. I'll be interested to see how that impacts things.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Idol 16: Guys' Round 3

I love 80s music! Of course, those were high school days...

1. Luke Menard - "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
Okay, I was a Wham fan back in the 80s. I loved this song then. I wasn't so impressed with this performance, though. While Luke has the high-pitched voice for the song, he just couldn't pull it off. Maybe he should've done some Prince (back when he was only known as Prince).

2. David Archuleta - "Another Day in Paradise"
Wow! He did a great job with the piano tonight. I was never a big fan of this song, but he made it enjoyable. Still, I wish he'd sing something in a different style.

3. Danny Noriega - "Tainted Love"
Love the song, couldn't stand the performance. His voice wasn't right for this. Enough said.

4. David Hernandez - "It's All Coming Back to Me Now"
He did a good job, but he's really not making himself stand out. He's got a good voice, but he needs to take a risk.

5. Michael Johns - "Don't You (Forget about Me)"
I love The Breakfast Club, and I love this song! He did a really good job of it.

6. David Cook - "Hello"
Ooohh. Bad start! But - much better as he got past the first few notes. I love the way he put a totally new twist on a Lionel Richie song! I can definitely overlook the beginning for rest of his great performance!

7. Jason Castro - "Hallelujah"
I just like this guy. I didn't recognize the song at all, but I liked it. He cracked at the end, and I loved the way he grinned when it happened. Overall, it was good. I'm glad he didn't play guitar this time around. He seemed comfortable without it.

8. Chikezie - "(S)he Fills Me Up"
He did a pretty good job, even though his voice cracked. I wasn't sure how he'd do with a Whitney Houston song, but I was pleasantly surprised.

My picks for the top 6 guys: David, David, David, Michael, Jason, and Chikezie.

My picks to go home: Danny Noriega and Luke Menard.

I wonder what the girls will sing...

Menu Plan Monday #20

I'm late this week, but yesterday was busy with all sorts of things: more than the usual mountain of laundry, preparing for last night's SWIM Board meeting, completing a jewelry project to submit to the retreat committee,... Today should be easier.

On with the menu!

Monday: potluck
(I had a SWIM Board meeting.)

Tuesday: Blackened Tilapia, Herb & Butter Rice (Lipton/Knorr package mix), Steamed Broccoli, and Mini Glazed Pineapple Cakes
The cakes are a variation of a new Pampered Chef recipe that I'd like to make at my shows this spring and summer. The original recipe is lemon, but I don't like lemon very much. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday: Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
I really want to have gumbo one more time before it gets too warm for it.

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Biscuit Cups
I had forgotten about this recipe until my friend Stefanie mentioned it a few weeks ago. Someone in our Bible study group a few years ago brought this for our brunch/snack one morning and it was really good. She emailed me the recipe, but I never got around to making it. I'm really looking forward to this!

Saturday: Stuffed Baked Potatoes, salad, and dessert
Our small group from church will be coming over. I'll bake the potatoes and provide the toppings. Everyone else will sign up to bring drinks and the rest.

Sunday: sandwiches

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