Thursday, March 31, 2011

365 Project - Day 90 - Boddington's Beer

I've never been much of a beer drinker. I never liked the bitter taste of it. I never liked the aftertaste. I never liked the way the flavor seemed to grow even more bitter the warmer the beer got. I never liked the way beer made me feel all swollen and bloated.

The only time I remember actually enjoying a beer was when I went on a study tour to Turkey when I was in college. A few classmates and I ordered a round of the local Efes Pilsen, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Back home in the U.S., I looked for Efes a few times when I was in liquor stores that had a large selection of imports, but I never had any luck finding it. Other than that, I just never really liked beer, period.

Then, I discovered Boddington's.

Our first year in Arizona, Steven and I were curious to see if there were any Husker bars near us where we could grab a bite to eat and watch a football game. We found one in downtown Gilbert called the Grainbelt Grillhouse and decided to give it a go.

Upon arriving, we discovered that it was more of a nice sit-down restaurant than your typical sports bar, but we couldn't resist getting a table and trying the place out. After all, the owners were originally from Nebraska, and we Nebraskans are forever loyal to our neighbors.

The menu was filled with dishes inspired by all the great Midwestern states, and the bar was stocked with a slew of both local and imported wines and beers. Steve has a habit of trying out new beers wherever we go. When we first started dating, I would take a sip here and there, and was pleasantly surprised to find a few I actually liked. That evening, he spied a Boddington's on the menu and decided to give it a try.

The waitress brought a frosty glass and a tall 16-ounce black and yellow can to the table. She explained that, much like a Guinness, a Boddington's is best served cold, but not ice cold, and that the pressurized can contains a nitro widget that releases upon opening, filling the liquid inside the can with tiny oxygen bubbles and creating a thick foamy head on the beer when poured. She told Steven to let it stand for a minute before giving it a taste, and then left to put in our food orders.

As we watched the tiny bubbles burst and disappear in Steven's glass, the beer took on a deeper golden amber color beneath the thick cream-colored head. Steven has always been a fan of Guinness, so he was immediately intrigued with what seemed to be it's lighter-colored cousin. He took a swig of the Boddington's, nodded in approval, and then passed it over to me.

That first sip = heaven.

When the waitress returned with our dinner, I ordered a Boddington's for myself and enjoyed every drop. Where most beers have a slightly bitter taste, Boddington's is slightly sweet with a hint of honey and deliciously creamy. Some people even describe it as a "vanilla Guinness". It is smooth with every sip, from the first to the last, and the best part is, I can drink the entire 16-ounces and not feel the slightest bit belchy or bloated. Instead, I just want more.

When we got home, our first task was to find out where we could buy Boddington's ourselves, since it wasn't really financially feasible for us to head to the Grainbelt Grillhouse every time we wanted one. (On a side note, the restaurant closed later that year, so it was good that we did our homework instead of relying on them to be our primary supplier). We found a couple different places where we could pick up the 4-pack cans, and all was right with the world.

When we moved to Lincoln, we were afraid that we might not be able to find Boddington's again. But, lo and behold, we discovered our favorite brew chilling in the beer fridges at the local Hyvee. Sometimes, it really is the little things, you know?

Tonight, Steven and I threw a thick Nebraska Rib Eye on the grill for dinner, and decided to crack open a couple Boddington's to go with it. Somehow, sharing a beer and a nice juicy steak seemed a fitting accompaniment to watch a little opening day baseball. Let me tell you my friends, it just doesn't get any better than this.

This 365 Project entry is dedicated to the brilliant people who brought us Boddington's Pub Ale. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

365 Project - Day 89 - Misspelling of the Day

I spent most of the day going back and forth between playing with my daughter and trying to finish up an article to meet a deadline. When I finally got Cadence down for a nap this afternoon, I turned on the TV for a little background noise while I wrote. At one point, I glanced up and had to grab my camera when I saw this:

For today's 365 Project Entry, the Misspelling of the Day Award goes to the DIY Network. Thank you for playing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

365 Project - Day 88 - I Heart Netflix

I love movies. I always have. I love movies and good, entertaining television shows. I'm talking shows like Twin Peaks, X-Files, Rescue Me, and Gilmore Girls. Not crap like Jersey Shore which I am repulsed by, but just can't seem to stop watching. I've loved movies since I was young. Growing up in Bird City, we rented VHS tapes from the Video Kingdom in the town of St. Francis, 15 miles away. For awhile, we didn't have a VCR, so we had to rent one of those too.

When your nearest video store is 15 miles away and your Mom and Dad refuse to make more than one trip in a week, you learn to choose wisely, and to stock up. In the nearly eight years that we lived in Bird City, I'd say we watched over 75% of the movies in that store. The remaining 25% were most likely rated R and deemed inappropriate by my parents. We did, however, manage to sneak a few past their radar--films like The Exorcist made for a rather sleepless sleepover with some of my friends from school.

Long before Steven and I began dating, we began going to movies together. He is as big of a movie and TV fan as I am, and we both love to watch things and then talk about and analyze them afterward. Both of us also tend to watch things we enjoy over and over again. Between the two of us, we have amassed a rather impressive DVD collection, and both have movies that we went to see multiple times in the theater.

You would think that people like us would have jumped on the Netflix bandwagon a lot sooner, but Steven and I both enjoy the whole movie experience. We like the big screen, the big sound system, sitting in theater seats and munching on popcorn in the darkness. We also like buying the movies that we love so we can watch them whenever we feel like it at home. These days though, with a busy toddler and a bit of a tighter budget, our movie-going days have dwindled to near extinction.

After moving in December, we decided to try a free trial of Netflix on Steven's PlayStation3, since it allowed us to instantly download movies and TV shows. After browsing the selections, we decided to give the show Rescue Me a go. At one time or another, both of us had seen bits and peices of at least one episode and thought it looked like a great show. Plus, we're both Denis Leary fans, so how could we really go wrong?

We were immediately hooked, and between Christmas and New Year's Day, we managed to watch the first 5 seasons of the show. We were also hooked on Netflix and decided to go ahead and subscribe. We've begun filling both our instant streaming queue and our mail order queue with every movie and TV show we have ever wanted to see and several that we have never even heard of. From old classics like Gone With the Wind and The Sound of Music to the latest releases like Grown Ups and Knight and Day, we are watching them all.

The best thing about Netflix is that even when you end up watching a really terrible movie (like After.Life starring Liam Neeson and Christina Ricci or American Psycho 2 starring Mila Kunis and Willam Shatner), you don't feel like you've been robbed. Sure, you want those two hours of your life back, but at least it's not like you just shelled out $40 to go see a crappy movie in the theater.

Plus, with Netflix, I finally get the chance to make Steven watch some of the movies that I absolutely rave about but that we can never find when we go to Best Buy to buy a DVD, movies that make Steven roll his eyes at me, movies like Darby O'Gill and the Little People. You haven't lived until you've seen a young Sean Connery singing in Darby O'Gill and the Little People! And just guess what's up next on our mail order queue?

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to the movies and TV shows that we love, and to the lovely people who brought us Netflix. Tomorrow night, we have a date watching Valkyrie, and then, my friends, Steven will be introduced to Darby O'Gill. After that, we'll see where our queue takes us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

365 Project - Day 87 - The Salmonella Jungle

I've always been a little leary of those children's play areas in shopping malls. They are always packed with boisterous children who are only being half-watched by distracted adults, and every time I see one, I find myself wondering how well and how often they are actually sanitized and disinfected. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a germophobe. In fact, my philosophy is that a few germs are good to help built up a healthy immune system. Even so, I think I'd like to do a play area blacklight test, just once, to satisfy my curiousity.

While Dad took Steven's folks to the Ameristar Riverboat Casino to try their luck at the slots today, Mom, Cadence and I headed to the mall to see about getting me a haircut and to kill some time. After passing a play area, we couldn't resist taking Cadence in for some play time. It's been a long winter of being cooped up in the house, and Cadence is at that age where she is fascinated by other children. It just didn't seem fair to deny her the chance to run and play and have some fun with the other kids. Plus, I figured after being sick for an entire month with this crazy coughing, sneezing, sniffling, congestion we've all had, we were probably immune to pretty much anything we were going to be exposed to in the mall.

It was fascinating to watch Cadence trying to figure it all out. For a moment, she stood and watched the other kids as they ran and jumped and climbed, laughing and screaming at the top of their lungs. Quietly, Cadence joined in the mayhem, testing her newfound freedom on a few of the smaller obstacles. Every so often, she would stop and her eyes would scan the crowd, and she would smile when she spied me watching her and snapping pictures.

It didn't take my little daredevil long to get the hang of it all, and she played hard for nearly an hour--running, crawling, jumping, dancing, and climbing over everything she could. At one point, she spied something off in the distance that must have looked like it would be fun to try and conquer, and she stood for a moment as if trying to decide if she wanted to make a break for it.

Luckily, she turned back around so I didn't have to drop the camera and chase her through the mall.

For tonight's 365 Project, I give you scenes from Cadence's first visit to the Salmonella Jungle. So far, we have survived with no ill effects, but we will certainly keep you posted.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Project 365 - Day 86 - Gamma and Pop Pop

There are no two ways about it--we love Gamma and Pop Pop. They live far away in New York, but at least we're a little closer now that we're living here in Nebraska. This weekend was the first time we've gotten to see them since our big move from Arizona, and we have enjoyed every minute of the visit so far. As you can see, Pop Pop is the Master Snuggler.

Even Electra has had a few turns with her favorite Pop Pop.

Gamma is sweet and so much fun! She gives great horsey rides on her knees and helps Cadence practice her sign language.

Miss Cadence felt like a queen on her throne when she got to sit for a photo with Gamma and Pop Pop!

Tomorrow, we're looking forward to a road trip to Omaha with Gamma, Pop Pop, Grandma Jayne and Papa Duane! Be sure to stay tuned for photos from that adventure. It's always a wild time when these crazy grandparents get together!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

365 Project - Day 85 - March Madness

Steven's parents arrived from New York last night to visit Nebraska for the first time. We'd been hoping for nice weather so we could really show them the town. We thought we might be able to take a stroll on the bike path, and show them Cadence's new favorite swing at the park. We thought they might enjoy a walk through the historic Haymarket to window shop and try out a few restaurants. Or maybe we would take them to see the campuses and for a visit to the Dairy Store for some ice cream. After enjoying a couple weeks with temperatures in the 60's and 70's, we were hoping that the Nebraska weather might make a good first impression.

No such luck.

Just when the first green blades of grass began to show and tightly curled buds began to appear on all the trees, winter reared its ugly head once again. Temperatures dipped to just above freezing and we spent most of the day watching fat white flakes of snow drift to the ground. At least none of it stuck.

March can be just as cold and cruel in New York, so at least Rich and Diane weren't completely shocked by the weather. In spite of the gray skies and snow today, we did venture down to the Haymarket to have lunch at Lazlo's and then head over to Misty's downtown for a good steak dinner. And even if the forecast calls for freezing temperatures for the remainder of their visit, there is not a chance that we would pass up a visit to the Dairy Store for some of the best ice cream around.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to that crazy March weather that keeps us on our toes. Good thing we didn't pack away our winter clothes just yet!

Friday, March 25, 2011

365 Project - Day 84 - Hell Hath Frozen Over

I don't know if you paid attention to the news today, but it's official...hell has frozen over. No, I am not an end-of-the-world conspiracy theorist. And I am not talking about the fact that it's the end of March and it actually snowed today because, let's face it, I live in Nebraska. Around these parts, it's possible to get a taste of all four seasons complete with rain, snow, hail, thunder, lightning, fog, a heat wave, and a tornado all within a 24-hour period.

No, it's not that at all.

Today, hell froze over, the earth shifted on its axis, a wormhole opened, and I'm pretty sure we all might have been sucked into an alternate reality because, today, my child actually fell asleep in her high chair while eating a snack.

You might think I'm crazy or that I'm overreacting, but if you do, you have obviously never met my daughter. Steven and I named her Cadence for a reason, my friends, partly because we are both drummers and we both thought the name was pretty darn cool, and partly because from the moment I felt the first fluttering movements in my womb, it became immediately clear that this was one little girl that goes steady and just doesn't stop.

From the moment Cadence wakes up in the morning, she's on the go, always moving. She took her first steps just before she turned 9-months-old and she's been going non-stop ever since. Some days it's even a struggle to get her to be still long enough to take a nap. At both nap time and bed time, we have our routine. Turn on the white noise and sit down in the rocking chair with Cadence's favorite blanket and a bottle of milk. I can rock and rock and rock her and just when I think it's safe to put her down in her crib, her eyes pop open and she snaps to attention and we have to start the whole process over again.

Steven and I used to laugh when we saw photos of other people's children passed out in their high chairs or exersaucers, because we never thought there was a real chance that Cadence would join the ranks with those kids. Strapped in her high chair she's either devouring the food on her tray, sneaking pieces of it to the dog, talking and waving her hands wildly, bopping her head to any music that happens to be playing, and always, always tapping her feet (a habit she gets from her compulsive-tapper Daddy).

Today, as I saw her movements become more lax and her head begin to slowly drop toward her shoulder, I thought I must be dreaming. But lo and behold my sweet little Energizer Bunny must have still been a little worn out from the cough and cold she's been battling this past week, because she never even noticed as I moved in with the camera and began to snap away.

Our dog Electra, on the other hand, is one of the laziest animals God ever put on this green earth, so I wasn't surprised to catch her snoozing in the background.

And just because I never have the chance to get a good close-up of Cadence's beautiful eyelashes, I moved in for a shot. All those expensive mascaras ain't got nothin' on these babies.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Project 365 - Day 83 - There Is No Such Thing As Babyproof

I don't care what all the baby experts say, how many checklists you complete, or how many "proven" products you purchase--there is no such thing as babyproof.

Like all first-time parents, Steven and I made a genuine and deliberate effort to make our house a safe haven for our daughter well before she had even grown out of her newborn diapers. Hell, Steven made the rounds covering every electrical outlet in the house months before Cadence was even born. I got a lot of exercise, squatting down to pry those damn plastic covers off every time I needed to plug something into the wall, then hefting my very pregnant body back into a standing position again.

Yet, it doesn't matter how carefully you plan, or how many fool-proof products you buy, once your child is mobile, all bets are off.

So far, we've been pretty lucky. Cadence actually listens pretty well for a 13-month-old, but of course, we have to be mindful. Doors must remain closed. Cabinets that house dangerous items must be locked. Cell phones and remote controls left unattended are like homing beacons. A toddler will find them every time, and getting the devices back is a delicate operation best performed by seasoned professionals--Navy Seals, trained hostage negotiators, or Indiana Jones himself.

We know we have only begun to scratch the surface with Cadence's explorations. She has already figured out how to climb, and has been attempting to figure out how to reach the summit of the couch, using different toys, pillows, blankets and books to get her there. Any boxes left lying around--empty diaper boxes, flat-rate USPS boxes, etc.--are instantly transformed into stepstools or dance floors, depending on what kind of mood she's in.

Tonight, Steven coralled her in the kitchen so I could vaccum the house, and she was ever so helpful cleaning out a couple of drawers while her Daddy did the dishes. Nothing says fun like Ziploc bags, ice cube trays and dish towels.

Digging a little further, Cadence happened upon a half-used roll of Saran Wrap and spent the next twenty minutes looking through it, picking at the edge of the plastic, pretending to drink out of it, and then yelling into it and laughing at the loud voice that came out.

We let Cadence play, and I snapped a few photos of the mayhem. There was nothing in the drawers that could hurt her, and what would be the point of putting an end to her fun? Kids explore and get into things. That's their job. We as parents must walk the line between letting them learn and keeping them safe. By all means, bolt those heavy shelves to the wall, keep those knives and poisonous liquids locked up tight, and put a cover on every electrical outlet you can find. But while you're busy keeping your children safe, make sure you're letting them have a little fun too.

Cadence had a blast, right up until she started to figure out that she might be able to use the drawers to climb up on the counter. Then, it was time for Momma to put the camera down and pull the old bait-and-switch with a bottle of milk and bedtime.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to our little explorers and to the silly "experts" who still think it's actually possible to babyproof a house.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

365 Project - Day 82 - I'll Never Be Hungry Again

If you had asked me two, ten, even twenty years ago what my career would be when I was thirty, I probably would have told you that, in a perfect world, I would be a writer. Being a photographer as well would just be icing on the cake. These are the things I always dreamed of doing, and yet, even in my wildest dreams, I would never have fancied myself writing about or photographing food. I would have imagined that was something best left to the hardcore food critics or chefs, people who had been extensively trained, people who could brag about their discerning palates and who could, by taste alone, correctly identify each and every ingredient in the food prepared for them, right down to the smallest pinch of pepper.

I fell into writing feature articles about restaurants in West Valley Health & Living magazine when they needed someone to cover a story on a local restaurant. The restaurant had just opened, and didn't have any photos to run with the article, so I packed my camera bag, loaded my daughter and husband into the van, and we headed out for a lunch date/photo shoot. The magazine liked the article and photos well enough to ask if I would continue to cover the two restaurant features per month thereafter, and I enjoyed it enough that I eagerly took them up on the offer.

Since that first assignment, I've had the pleasure of meeting with dozens of delightful owners and talented chefs, and have had the opportunity to try some seriously amazing food. Tonight, as I sent the last of the photos and submitted my final story from my February trip to Arizona, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share a few of my favorite photos from the trip. If you live in Arizona, or ever head there for a visit, be sure to look these places up. You won't be disappointed.

Kiss the Cook Restaurant & Antiques - Glendale

Bravi Tuscan Kitchen - Glendale

Haus Murphy's - Glendale

Litchfield's at The Wigwam Resort - Litchfield Park

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Project 365 - Day 81 - In Springtime, the Only Pretty Ring Time...

Somehow, during my house arrest with my sick daughter, spring arrived. We've all been waiting patiently for the signs that we've left winter behind for good, and today we finally saw them. Not only were we in a Thunderstorm Warning and Tornado Watch for the better part of the day, we took a look outside and saw the very first green blades of grass peeking through the old dead brown.

It has been nice experiencing real seasons again, and now that spring has arrived in Nebraska, I'm beginning to realize just how important seasons are--not just for the farmers and ranchers whose very existence depends on them, but for the rest of us as well. The continual cycle of hibernation and awakening, of death and rebirth, gives us humans the opportunity to recharge our emotional batteries, to heal our wounds, and to reawaken with a fresh perspective and the promise of new beginnings. The continual change in our environment forces us to change as well, and makes it harder to stay in whatever rut we may find ourselves in.

Since Cadence seemed to be feeling well enough for me to actually put her down and step outside for a few photos, I grabbed my camera and headed out into the yard.

While I was taking photos, all I could hear behind me was my daughter's persistent tapping on the glass patio door. After spending half the day sleeping, sweating, and snotting all over herself, I had already changed Cadence's shirt three times and was no longer worried about anything matching. I turned to grab a few shots of her as she pressed herself against the glass.

I laughed when I caught her making her new angry monster face, though I think she actually looks a bit more like the freaky kid from the movie The Omen. All of you that are always saying she is so cute, how about that photo, huh? Scary! 

Steven even took a break from cleaning up the kitchen to come over for a quick shot with his girl. Love this one of my baby and her Daddy.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to the new season and all the new experiences it may bring. I'm ready to hang on and enjoy the ride.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Project 365 - Day 80 - Nebraska Beef...It's What's For Dinner

There are at least a thousand great things about the state of Nebraska, and perhaps one day, when I am feeling particularly ambitious, I will write about them all. For today though, I will limit myself to one of the best things, one that would almost certainly make the top ten, and that is Nebraska beef.

It's no mistake that Nebraska has come to be known as The Beef State, because cows outnumber people here 4 to 1. Should the bovine population ever stage an uprising and plan a revolt, we would be in serious trouble. Until then, Nebraska will continue to produce nearly 20% of the nation's beef supply, and the people will continue to enjoy every bite.

I hate to think of myself as a beef snob, but I do have a particularly strong belief that Nebraskan farmers and ranchers produce some of the best beef outside of Japan's famous Kobe Beef. The difference though, is that farmers here simply don't have the time to give the cows deep tissue massages, and we Nebraskans prefer to drink our beer rather than feed it to our cattle. I've ordered steaks and hamburgers and roast beef in restaurants all over the United States, places that advertise the best beef from Iowa, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, and I can honestly say, none of them even come close.

While I was living in New York and working at the college, I even had my parents sending me beef by mail. Dad would put in an order at Main Street Market (the little three-aisle grocery store in Bertrand that mystified Steven the first time I brought him home to Nebraska to visit when we were dating) and a sweet woman named Willa would cut my favorite thick Rib Eye steaks, package all the meat, freeze it, and then pack it tightly into a cooler, which my dad would wrap in several layers of duct tape and ship to me.

I got a few odd looks from the the student workers to signed for and sorted all the mail to distribute on campus. Once word got around about the packages, and I hosted a few barbecues, people began to understand my obsession and even began asking if it might be possible to have some Nebraska beef shipped to them as well. I think that if my dad had wanted to go into business for himself as a distributor, he might have been able to make quite a bit of money in the deal.

I've been away from home for a long time, and it's nice to back where I can order a steak in a restaurant or pick one up at a local grocery store and know for certain that it's going to be ridiculously good, the only way beef should be.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to some of the best beef in the world. Thank you, Nebraska farmers and ranchers for tonight's delicious dinner. And for those of you who have never tried Nebraska beef, you certainly don't know what you are missing. Mmmm...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

365 Project - Day 79 - Our Little Energizer Bunny

It was a rough night last night, between Steven and I rotating getting up every hour with our sick daughter, and then me getting thrown up on twice around 4:00 a.m. There is nothing in the world quite like toddler vomit. The word "projectile" just doesn't even quite cover it. There is a split second warning in the form of a gagging belch and then you're hit with a torrent of hot, sour-smelling, gelatinous liquid of Exorcist proportions.

We managed to get a couple hours sleep between 6:30 and 8:30, and then we were up for the day. Well...not exactly up. Steven and I pretty much spent the day passing our sick daughter back and forth, taking turns showering, eating, and using the bathroom while she coughed and sneezed and slept restlessly. It takes a lot to stop our little Energizer Bunny, and today her batteries seemed nearly run out.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to our little worn out bunny.We're hoping that the fact she actually took a break from her business today means that tomorrow she will wake feeling a littler closer to herself again. If not, it will be off to the doctor for our first sick visit. Keep those fingers crossed for us!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

365 Project - Day 78 - Down With the Sickness

Just when all of us seemed to be getting over this cold, flu, whatever the heck it was that we were sick with, Cadence wakes up with a fever. The next day, the fever was gone, but the dreaded mucus had returned with a vengeance. Her poor little nose is dripping like a broken faucet and yesterday she even coughed so hard that she threw up. Let me tell you how fun it was trying to comfort a crying, vomit-covered toddler while dragging a 40-lb nosy hound dog away from the pile of puke on the floor before she could step in it or, God forbid, try to eat it.

Today was a lazy day of lounging around the house and trying to teach Cadence how to blow her nose. She now knows how to wipe it herself, and doesn't cry and run away from Steven and I when we try to wipe it, but we're still working on the blowing part. I grabbed the camera when I saw an enormous bubble beginning to form in her nostril as she ate some spaghetti, but it popped just as I was about to snap the photo.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to my sweet sick baby. While I do enjoy all the extra cuddling we've been doing these past few days, I sure hope you get to feeling better soon!

Friday, March 18, 2011

365 Project - Day 77 - Garfield's Favorite Meal

There is nothing better than homemade Italian food. And if you're going to do it right, there is no doing it halfway. There are no shortcuts allowed. I have to admit, since I started dating Steven, I've become quite a bit pickier about my Italian food. Let's face it, after having his Mom's homemade manicotti and sauce, places like the Olive Garden just don't cut it anymore.

Fortunately, Diane was kind enough to not only share the recipe, but to actually show me how to make it when she and Rich came to Arizona to visit after Cadence was born. Unfortunately, since the move to Nebraska, I have been unable to locate the box I packed the recipes in. So, when Steven and I got to craving some Italian food, I had to find another recipe for lasagna that would suffice. It didn't quite live up to Diane's sauce, but it was pretty darn tasty.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to all the delectable Italian food we just can't seem to get enough of, and to women like my Mother-in-law who take the time to make it right. Bon apetit!

For those of you who would like to try the recipe for yourselves. Here it is:


  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


  1. In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

365 Project - Day 76 - Bubble Wrap

If you have never popped even one bubble on a sheet of bubble wrap, I might question whether or not you are even human. Bubble wrap is either hours or minutes of fun--depending on whether you are a slow popper or a fast popper.

Slow poppers pop one bubble at a time with ruthless determination, as if they were trying out the bubble wrap equivalent of Chinese Water Torture. Fast poppers are looking for the big payoff, the instant thrill. They are like the Micro Machine Man of bubble popping, setting Guinness Records for their speed and efficiency.

Whatever your personal bubble popping style, Bubble Wrap is just great stuff. Besides the sheer entertainment value, the stuff really does its job. Steven and I made our moves from New York to Arizona, and from Arizona to Nebraska without suffering a single casualty of anything we had wrapped in Bubble Wrap. Plus, if you can exercise some self-control and keep yourself from popping it all, Bubble Wrap is durable, reusable, and one of the quickest and most efficient ways to divert the attention of a fit-throwing child.

But the best part is, when we went to do our taxes this year, we found out that if you make a long distance job-related move, Bubble Wrap can be deducted as a moving expense. Score!

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to everyone's favorite Bubble Wrap. Pop away, my friends.