Thursday, October 30, 2008

Welcome Back Suns!!!

Matt can finally breathe easy the Suns are back and with a vengeance I might add. They came out looking really good! We were a little unsure how they were going to look with our new (and improved) bench, a new coach, and Amare's new goggles and all. Turns out we didn't need to worry because the Suns rule! We won our first game by 5 points...to the Spur's of all teams (anyone who follows Suns basketball knows that this team has caused some problems for us in the past). The Spurs even used their classic play, the hack-a-Shaq, a bazillion times and we still beat them! Take that Popovich you slimy little man :)

Matt truly believes that every little thing we do effects the playing ability of the Suns. For instance, if I say, "Wow, Nash has made his last 5 shots" Matt will get really mad at me because apparently I have "jinxed it." One new thing we have added this year is this:
Matt seems to think this is the thing we have been missing all these years. So, look out everyone thanks to Katie and her Suns jersey we are going to get a title this year. Go Suns! We look forward to another exciting season!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some more Recipes

This thing has kind of turned into a little cook book. What can I say? Cooking is becoming a little bit of a hobby. I have some more recipes that I would like to add. One is a pretty healthy recipe and one is not at all. Let me start with the shredded chicken since it is in both recipes that I will be sharing with all my 1 reader :)

Shredded Chicken: I simply put chicken breasts in the crock pot, fill it about halfway up (the height of chicken, if that makes sense). Sprinkle cumin, salsa and chili peppers. Sometimes I will put in green chiles if I have them. This recipe is very flexible. Just put in whatever spices you like. Turn heat on high and let cook for about 5 hours. Shred with 2 forks.

Ok so I will start with the recipe I got from a friend at work. I made it for Meghan's shower and it was a hit! Unfortunately I do not have a picture, but I will add one when I make it next.

Pollo Con Queso

1 pound Velveta cheese
1 jar (medium) salsa-LaVictoria with cilantro (Sherry suggests anything without vinegar)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Cream Of Mushroom Soup
1 can diced green chilies
1 can sliced olives (optional)
2 shredded chicken breasts (see above recipe)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in sauce pan or crock pot and heat and stir until cheese is melted and everything is combined. Serve with chips. Leave in the crock pot on warm setting to keep warm. Stir often to avoid the "Velveeta skin."


Chicken Chilaquiles: This one is from the Cooking Light magazine. I made it Sunday and it was really good. Even Matt liked it and he is generally not a fan of "light" food.


2 C Shredded chicken breast (see above recipe)
1/2 C chopped green onions
1/2 C pepper jack cheese
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 t chili powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
3/4 C 1% milk
1/4 C fresh cilantro
1 (11 oz ) can tomatillos, drained
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles, drained
12 (6 in) corn tortillas

Yield: it says 4 servings, but we got a little more
Preheat oven 375 degrees
Combine chicken, green onions, 1/4 C pepper jack and Parmesan cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper. (You can add some chili peppers if you like it really spicy).
Mix milk and next three ingredients (through chiles) in a food processor or blender; process until smooth
Pour 1/3 C tomatillo mixture into bottom of 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Arrange 4 tortillas in dish and top with chicken mixture. Repeat. Finish with a layer of tortillas on top.
Pour remaining tomatillo mixture over tortillas (I did not use it all); sprinkle with remaining 1/4 C pepper jack cheese. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
Nutrition Information:
Calories: 347
Fat: 10.9g
Protein: 30.9g
Carb: 33.3g
Fiber: 5.9g
...not too bad for how good it tastes. The fat and carbs are a little high, but the calories are low and the protein is high which are the 2 main things I look for.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Megside's Wedding

Ok. So I got the pictures from Meghan and James' wedding. She is not too keen on this whole blog thing so I wont post too many pictures (She is convinced creepy predators are going to see pictures of her). I will say that it was a beautiful wedding with a beautiful bride.

Here is a picture of the engagement. Matt and I drove up to Vegas where James took Meghan for Valentine's Day, her birthday and their anniversary (all are within a couple days of each other). While they were out at a Cirque de Soleil show Matt and I went up to their room and did this. When they got back he popped the question. I must say we did a pretty good job. I was glad to be a part of it.

And here is the wedding...




















Here is how many kids Meghan wants...just kidding. These are their nieces and nephew on James' side. I thought it was a cute picture.

Here's me giving my speech. I was so stinkin' nervous!

For journaling purposes. My speech was:
I met Meghan in Dance class. I was the annoying freshman who was in the row next to her doing crunches. She thought she was so cool because she was a sophomore, but as you can see I wore her down. For those of you who know Meghan I am sure you can see why we became such good friends. She is a free spirit who is loyal to those she loves. I truly couldn't ask for a better friend. In the time that I have known Meghan I can honestly say that I have never seen her as happy as she is when she is with James. James you are a great person and there is no one who is better suited for my best friend. It was in helping James plan their engagement that I got to really see how much James loves and adores Meghan. I am so happy for the two of you and I am sure that I speak for everyone when I say that we love you guys and congratulations.
We had a fun night. Congratulations Meghan and James. I wish you endless happiness in your marriage together.

Monday, October 20, 2008

YAY for me!!!

So I have been taking classes through Rio Salado for almost 2 years now for my special education certification (my degree is in psychology). Well I am at the end of the road with Rio and am currently taking my last class!! I can not tell you how excited I am to be done (at least for a little while). Anyways, without getting in to the boring details, I needed to take and pass 2 AEPA tests in addition to getting 48 credit hours. (Giant waste of time; let me tell you). The first of the 2 tests I took and passed back when I started the TIR (teacher in residence) program. The second I was not able to take until year two. I took what I thought was the correct test this summer (secondary professional knowledge since I teach secondary special education) only to find out from the horrible woman at Rio that I was supposed to take the elementary and that there was no point in taking the secondary...I think it goes without saying that I was livid! Especially since I called both the people at AEPA (who knew NOTHING) and AZ Department of Education (who I sat on hold with for half an hour before hanging up). Then I called a friend who just took the professional knowledge test and she told me she took secondary which just made sense. Then again, that's not how ADE likes to do things!!! Oh, and just another tid bit that I forgot to mention...these tests cost $115 a pop and take about 3-4 hours of your Saturday. So, here I am thinking I am ahead of that game. I have taken and passed both tests and BAM I have to sign up for one for a grade level that I NEVER plan on teaching! Angry as I have ever been, I log on and sign up for the next available test which as luck would have it was on the weekend of my birthday! Just lovely! Another side note: this is the last possible test that I can take to get my results in time for my certification. I was pretty much in the position where I had to pass. Well, I took the stupid test and today (a month later) I found out I passed!!! **SIGH** It was no necessarily that the test was hard. Rather, it was that I had not idea what I was going to do if I didn't pass since I need to be done with everything by November. Well, worry no more! I am on my way to full certification!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Home Sweet Home (Part 3)

Tuesday was our last full day in Maryland. Since everyone was working we took care of our souvenir shopping and some other things. The morning started with Buster waking Matt up. Buster is Charlie and Fran's dog/child. This is quite possibly one of the most spoiled dogs I have ever seen in my life (and I thought Katie was bad). He is cute though isn't he?

Jay (a native from AZ) loved the trees. He said that he wanted to go walking through them so we went to this path that I used walk on with my sister. Its a beautiful scenic path through the woods in Damascus. It was so serene. I am really glad Jay suggested it.



Next, we headed out to Mt. Airy to see my old neighborhood. I never realized it growing up, but Mt. Airy is a very small town (the population is somewhere around 6500 to 7000). It is nice to go back because so little has changed. I know its a little Mayberryesque, but I love the simplicity of this little town. We drove to my old house and got out and walked around the back so I could show Jay the hill that we used to sled down. As we were doing this the man who lived there came out. I told him that this was my childhood home. He proceeded to invite us in. After a little protest I decided that I would love to go in and see my old house. I mean, how often do you get that opportunity? I couldn't believe how small it seemed. Its weird how that happens. I loved that house down at the end of the road and I am so grateful that the man who lives there now let 3 total strangers come in to see it...even if he is a Cowboy's fan (I don't have the heart to tell my dad; a die hard Redskins fan). We lived in that house over 12 years ago and this is still the view from the backyard...gives you an idea of how little has changed in Mt Airy. I didn't take a picture of the house because it looks so different now.

We putzed around Mt. Airy for a while then we got lunch at J&P pizza where my friend Kelli was working. J&P is a popular pizza joint in town. I have gotten it almost every time I go back. After lunch where did we go...you guessed it...Jimmie Cone (trip #4). The first time Matt came with me to MD I made the mistake of taking him to Jimmie Cone. He got a chocolate malt and it was love at first sip. All the way up until the day we left Matt has talked about going again. Of course after night 1 Jay was hooked too and it was all down hill from there. They even talked about getting the Jimmie Cone logo tattooed. I intervened! I am pretty sure that everything else we did while in MD took a distant second to Jimmie Cone (at least with Matt and Jay). This time we visited the one in Mt. Airy so now Matt and Jay can say they have visited every Jimmie Cone location in the world (there are only 2).

After Jimmie Cone we went to New Market to do some antique shopping. Old town New Market is lined with buildings from the late 1700's to early 1800's. They are incredible. We got some presents for our moms and Jay got some for his friends. I was also able to get a necklace and earring set from this little shop! Later on, we met up with some of my old friends (Lindsay, Jason and Kelli) at Jason and Kelli's new house. I have known these guys since 2nd grade. Even though we don't get to talk that often we always pick right up where we left off. I actually had not seen them since they were out here for our wedding so it was nice to see them again. Jason and Kelli gave us the grand tour of their new house and then we went for dinner at The Green Turtle. Matt was happy because he could watch the game! Dinner was so much fun and I really liked Jason and Kelli's house. They have done some nice work with it. Here we are at dinner.


I had such a nice time seeing all my friends and family. I told Matt that we may have to make that a yearly trip because 3 years is just too long. Thanks Danielle for staying with Katie and Jack! That is such a huge help and thanks mom for making all the reservations. We had such a blast! I cant wait to go back next year :)

Home Sweet Home (Part 2)

I am sure there are easier ways, but it is easiest for me to break this post into 3 parts so the pictures wont continue to get all messed up...

Anyways. The next day (Monday) we set aside to go sightseeing in D.C. with Charlie and Fran. I had not gone and walked the city since 5th grade, Matt had only driven through it and Jay had never been so we figured it would be a good opportunity. We signed up for the Old Town Trolley because they gave you a narrated tour of the city, but you could also get off and go in the buildings. We were really lucky because it was such a beautiful day. I got a ton of pictures. Here are some of the highlights:

Here are some pictures from the Botanical Gardens. None of us had ever been to this display before. It was absolutely beautiful and FREE (well kind of. Our tax dollars pay for it)!


We also saw the Korean War Memorial for the first time. It was so surreal! In a bustling city, everything just seems to get quiet.















Just a short walk away was the WWII memorial which we had not seen either. This was really cool.
In the center of all of these memorials is the Washington Monument. I went to the top of the monument in 5th grade and loved it. I remembered hearing that people were not allowed to go up in it anymore, but I guess that isn't true (at least any more). We got tickets to ride the elevator to the top (again free!) and it was still as amazing as I had remembered. You could see for 20 miles. The other picture is of the Capital. We actually walked up to this one, but the picture from the monument was neater. My pictures were not as cool as Jay's but they will have to suffice.

After the monument we went to the White house. This picture is actually the back of it. The front had a big white tarp outside so spectators could not see people coming in and out. Since the whole bailout/economy fiasco I guess there has been a safety issue for government officials. The other picture is the doorbell? Just kidding, I went to push it to see what would happen, but then I got scared because there was a guy on the top of the house with a very large gun. I guess I didn't feel like getting shot...














Because of time we just drove by the Jefferson Memorial, but we made sure to walk up to the Lincoln Memorial. Matt has always wanted to see this in person. Pict
ures do not do it justice. The man in the picture with the white shirt with the orange fish on it is Charlie. This is my only picture of him:(















While we were waiting for the trolley we heard a whole bunch of sirens. It turns out it was the president and his motorcade. I didn't get a very good picture because they were driving so fast. This is just one of the cars. He had about 4 other cars/motorcycle police surrounding him too. My guess is that he was going to Camp David...

We spent the entire day with Charlie and Fran and didn't get one picture with them :( I guess we have to go back!! After wearing ourselves out from walking all day Matt and Jay decided that we needed some Jimmie Cone (trip #3).

Home Sweet Home! (Part 1)

It has been about 3 years since I have been home (to Maryland) for something other than a funeral. I needed a fix...big time. And I got it! Matt and I planned to go about a month or so ago so we saved up all of our birthday money so we could pay for a rental car and plane tickets (my mom works for the airlines so they were pretty cheap). Matt's little brother who had never been back east came along as well. We had a great time! Meghan had gotten married the night before (more on that later...still waiting for pictures) so we were pretty sleep deprived when we got to Charlie and Fran's (Scott's parents) Saturday evening. They took us to a nice dinner at Mama Lucias. This is one of their favorite restaurants and I will say it was pretty yummy. Even though we were stuffed to the gills we decided to get dessert at Jimmie Cone (trip #1). I don't have any pictures from this night because like I said, I was pretty much delirious from sleep deprivation at this point.
The next day was set aside for visiting family. We got up and went to visit my mom's best friend Terri. We were only able to stay for about an hour and a half, but we had a nice visit. Terri is so funny. She is just like me so I can relate to her neuroticisms (i.e. her "plucky"). I really had a fun time seeing her; its too bad that I don't have a picture to document the occasion. After Terri's we headed to my aunt Tina's house. Tina invited a bunch of family over so we could get to visit with them all. Tina and Amy made a baked ziti and macaroni and cheese lunch for everyone. Carbs and cheese...yum! Of all the days this was one of my favorites because we got to see so many people. I miss my family so much and it was so nice to get together with them all. Here are some pictures.
Here is a group picture of the whole family

My grandma. This lady is one firecracker. She just doesn't slow down. The picture below was right after taking pictures. It was too funny not to post. That's right...she is picking up dog poop with her handy little contraption. The Crooke/Gonchar Family. This is my aunt and all of her kids. I adore these kids and I was so glad to get to spend some time with the younger ones because I want them to know who I am!


The other Crooke family. This is my uncle Doug and my cousin Chelsea. The rest of the family was not able to come because they live in VA. I haven't seen Chelsea in some time. I cannot believe how old she is!


The Smith brothers and me...I am not really that short, they are just really tall!
The McChesney Family (minus Tyler...he left before we took pictures). They are like a second family to me. They are just a fun group of people!

Matt with me and the girls. I love these girls. The two older ones were the flower girls in our wedding. They are helping me in my effort to convince Matt that he wants girls when we start having kids :) I think its working because these girls are so sweet!


Later that night we took a special trip to Jimmie Cone (trip #2) with all the kids. It really made me want to live there so I could do that all the time. I am so sad because I forgot to take pictures. This was just such a fun day. Thanks Amy and Tina for getting this together. I cant wait to see everyone again!


SYTYCD Concert 2008

It finally came! My sisters (Courtney and Danielle) and my friend Meghan are all big fans of the show so we bought tickets to go see the top 20 dancers (well it was supposed to be 20, but there were actually 22) from season 4 in concert October 7th at Jobing.com arena (Can I just take minute to say how far this arena is from Queen Creek!!!). I bought the tickets back when they went on sale. We had great seats (2nd row on the left side of the stage)! When we first arrived we were a little concerned because this was our view...Not exactly ideal, but as we figured they moved the sign. As you can see we were very close to the stage. Here we are before the concert. Let's just say this concert was much anticipated and we were every bit a giddy as the 30,000 other 12 year olds there (I would be embarrassed, but I have no shame).













This is a really terrible picture of me, but because I was the driver I didn't have any time to clean up after work. Oh well.

We had a really good time at the concert. They did most of my favorite dances:

Mark and Chelsie...loved it every bit as much as the first time I saw it.

Joshua and Katie...this one is a classic. I think I liked this one even better the second time around.
Katie and Will...absolutely beautiful (and she didn't stumble so it was perfection this time Adam Shankman;)

They also did some fun group performances. Though this one was not my favorite, it was still really fun. This was the money one...They "made it rain"

There were also solo performances. Josh and Twitch were my favorite because they are stinkin' awesome!! Twitch came out in a cape! I loved it!


I also loved the bit with Gev and Courtney. I wish I had picture of when he came out in the dress because he played it off so well. Anyway, here they are hosting...so cute!

All in all it was a good show. I wish there were some new dances though I did love seeing the old once again. As always the dancers did awesome. I can't wait for season 5!