[ Shrimp Pasta and more ]

I told Alison at work that I'd post the recipe for the Shrimp Pasta I made on Valentine's Day. Can't find the recipe - it was online, but there are a thousand pasta recipes with shrimp online, and I can't seem to duplicate my Google search to have it come up.

Can I just say that I love Google. I read an article about Google in the latest Wired Magazine (March 2010) that just boggled my mind. Google is just a bunch of people in an office building (now huge complex) in Mountain View, California. A bunch of very brilliant people with super computers. Basically they spend their time tweaking an algorithm (what the heck is that?). It's a work in progress. They sit and do searches all day long and then figure out how to make their search engine do better searching.

For example, they figured out how to make the searches allow for context. So, when you enter the word hot dog, you don't get information about boiling a puppy. And if you type "Lincoln bio," Google know it means biography, but if you type 'bio warfare,' it means biological. And on and on.

Ya know, you really need to read the article. Go to Borders and get the magazine - or just sit in the cafe area and read the five pages starting on page 96. There's other interesting stuff in the magazine too so you may want to take that 30% coupon and buy it.

Now, the Shrimp Pasta:

You will need some pasta - I prefer THIN SPAGHETTI. It's perfect. Angel Hair Pasta is too wimpy and regular spaghetti is too fat. I only ever buy thin spaghetti - even though it costs more. I just measure carefully so I don't waste any. And nowadays, I only ever buy Barilla Plus Multigrain Pasta brand. Note - it has to be Barilla Plus. See photo below. Cook's Illustrated magazine rated the whole grain pastas - which tasted like cardboard to me - and this brand came out near the top. I'm so glad I found Barilla Plus.

Also cook some broccoli and cut up some small tomatoes. I prefer the Campari tomatoes that come on their stems. Or those little grape tomatoes are good.

Buy a bag of frozen cooked shrimp. Use about a handful per person. Thaw the shrimp in a colander under cold running water.

Put a half a stick of butter and some oil (evoo or veg. oil) in a skillet and fry up some garlic and onion - to taste. Add the shrimp and cook for about five minutes - not too long because it's already cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Seasoned pepper looks good.

I learned this in my Google search. When the shrimp just start to curl up, they're done! I never knew that. If they get too curled up, they're TOO DONE and will be chewy.

Remember how I love the magazine Cooks Illustrated? Well, in the latest issue, which I bought for the chewy brownie recipe, they rate cooking oils. I'm not a fan of the taste of olive oil (I know, that brands me as NOT GOURMET, along with the fact that garlic gives me a stomach ache, but I can handle being not gourmet.) And there are times when a good vegetable oil is the only thing you can use - like when frying at a high temperature. The top recommended vegetable oil is Crisco Natural Blend - 'which has a subtle, pleasing blend of canola, sunflower and soy oils.' Next is Mazola Canola. That's easier to find and the oil I'll be using for my next batch of chewy brownies. NEVER EVER use corn oil. It has a nasty flavor and it's more bad for you.

Back to the shrimp pasta. Take the shrimp off the heat and add a little cream or fat free half and half and a handful of good shredded parmesan cheese. Or (this is what I did) remove the shrimp to a bowl, mix 4 T. flour into the butter mixture and stir until it bubbles a bit - but don't let it start to burn. Add a cup of chicken broth and some milk to make a thin white sauce. Stir shrimp back in and add cheese. Keep on low while you get everything on the table. This is the hardest part keeping things hot but not too hot.

To serve, dish pasta on a big platter, surrounded with broccoli and tomatoes, and at the last minute, so it will be hot, pour the shrimp and sauce over the pasta. Garnish with some big shreds of parmesan cheese (shake the little plastic container and the big shreds will stay on top) and sprinkle with pepper. If you're a gourmet cook, you will know how to make it look fabulous - with parsley or basil or whatever. Be sure to have some good bread to serve too - I loveCrumb Brothers (a local bakery) baguettes.

OK, I spent way too long on this post. I have a billion things to do today because tomorrow we are, I hardly dare admit this, going to Cancun for a week. So there's a lot of getting ready to do and I have to go do it.

I'm not even going to proofread this post. That's killing me.


thanks for the reminder

It's still cold outside, and dreary, but thanks to a friend's very timely post on Facebook, I was reminded to adjust my attitude and be grateful for all that's good around me. I also spent a few days over the weekend watching my cute grandkids - that changed my perspective big time. Why complain about the weather when there are pictures to paint, play-doh to mold, trucks to push, "Yo Gabba Gabba" to watch, and dances to dance?

Here is Nancy Jensen's essay - she's a wonderful writer, thinker, and example!
She calls her gratitude journal her "time enough" journal and starts her entries with: "Today I had the time to... ."

A Busy
Mom's Plan to Regain Serenity by Nancy Jensen

Things grow in proportion to the attention we give them. I’ve been using this law to my disadvantage.

I’ve been staring at all the items scheduled on my calendar, and all the items on my task list and thinking, “I am overscheduled, and I have too much to do.” I have been going to bed at night thinking, “I am overscheduled, and I have too much to do.” I have been waking up in the morning thinking, “I am overscheduled, and I have too much to do.” I have been looking and looking at my calendar and task list and wondering what I could take off. But everything has to stay, because my three at-home children need to go to the dentist and the doctor and Cub Scouts and I’m not willing to give up Children’s Choir; I have to exercise each day or I’ll get fibromyalgia again; I have a church calling that requires a fair amount of time; I need to study the gospel regularly, of course; I want to stay in touch with friends and family; I’m blessed with a beautiful home to care for; I love teaching piano lessons; I want to learn to know my ancestors and find any that need temple work. In other words, there isn’t anything on my calendar or my to-do list that I don’t want there. Therefore, nothing needs to be changed except for the attitude that “I am overscheduled, and I have too much to do.”

Here’s how I can use the Law of Attraction to solve this problem:

I can look at my to-do list as my friend Cleo does: It’s a box of delicious chocolates and I get to choose one now, and another one after that. I can focus on what is written on the calendar for today only, and “let the morrow take thought for the things of itself.” I can choose two or three “chocolates” from the task list to “eat” today, and enjoy them, knowing I will never run out. Most of all, I can go to bed at night thinking, “I have enjoyable and meaningful things to do, and I have all the time I need to do them.” I can wake up in the morning thinking, “I have enjoyable and meaningful things to do, and I have all the time I need to do them.” I can look at my calendar and task list while thinking, “I have enjoyable and meaningful things to do, and I have all the time I need to do them.” I can trust in the Lord and be confident that each item will get done when it needs to get done, because the Lord gives me exactly the right amount of time to do everything He calls or inspires me to do.

What we think about and thank about we bring about. I intend to think about and bring about peaceful enjoyment of this season of life.


sick of thirty four degrees

Open letter to Mother Nature on the 30th day of temperatures in the 30's:

Dear Mother Nature, You can leave the thirties now. It's time. They're dull and unattractive and no one likes you in them. The color gray is very boring. What's more, the dingy white you're wearing looks like it needs a good soaking in Biz. It's dull and unappealing and I, for one, am sick of looking out my window at it. Yesterday you allowed a hint of sunshine to appear - didn't you notice how happy it made everyone? Why are you back to the gray - with a forecast for more? And as long as I have your attention, forget the forties and fifties and head straight for the sixties. It's the right thing to do. I assure you, there are lots of new car washes in Logan that will thank you for it. Sincerely, depressed Debbie

Here are my symptoms in case you don't believe I have a problem with you:
  • Afternoon slumps with decreased energy and concentration
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Decreased interest in work or other activities
  • Increased chocolate intake
  • Increased appetite with weight gain
  • Increased sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
  • Social withdrawal


~ ScEnes from VaLenTine's Day ~

It's a Valentine's Day tradition for my son-in-law Pitt to give TULIPS to Becky for Valentine's Day. Since Pitt is on a once-in-a-lifetime ski trip, Becky came to stay with us and brought two spots of delight - the tulips and baby Emmett.

We had fun with Emmett - his smiles and cuddles bring so much love. Becky and Emmett left this morning so now the house is quiet...until Mike gets his guitar out. (Thankful for Mike's music. ) I had a nap after church, and when I got up Scott had decorated the dining room table. I'm still laughing because he walked all over the house and got every Valentine decoration I had and put them all together on the table. Then he made the heart mobile that 's hanging from the light - he cut the hearts from a decorated sack and strung them together with thread with a little center heart that twirls around. Scott has always liked mobiles - interesting - I just realized that. I fixed a pretty decent Valentine's Day dinner - a shrimp pasta that was easy and looks good on my red and white plates. I'm going to put the recipe here this week because it had two ingredients that I want to share. Hope your Valentine's day was love-ly too!


{ our love story }

I've been scrapping - for a work project that will be on the Adornit blog next week. Yesterday I finished a double layout - just in time for Valentine's Day. As usual, Adornit products made my scrapping quick and easy. (I have to be honest, it took a bit of time to write our Love Story - time well spent.)

This was kind of a pre-Valentine gift for Scott. When he read the journaling, he had the same feelings I had when I wrote it - we both feel lucky that it all turned out so well! Thirty six and a half years, I might add. I think he might get all mushy now and buy me something special like a Sponge Bob DVD for Valentine's Day. I'm very serious about the Sponge Bob part. That's why I drop very blunt hints to Scott about what I like, expect, want, and need. After 36 years, I've learned how to have a successful Valentine's Day.


it's cold out - warm up with a Valentine's project

Just in time for sharing LOVE notes among your family for Valentine's Day. Or...what a fun gift filled with candy and cards for someone special.

Check out this darling project that's on the Adornit blog today. You really need to see this Valentine's Day Mailbox in person - it's adorable - and that's to be expected since it was made by my friend (and co-worker) Janet Parker. As I told her yesterday, "You have a knack for making things extra cute - and just nicely done."

Janet Parker

BE SURE TO CLICK on the TEMPLATE LINK below - it's an instruction sheet with pictures, step by step directions, and a template for making the cute paper flower.

1. Cut a large heart shape out of chipboard or cardboard.

2. Cut a chipboard/cardboard piece for the pocket, using the lower half of the heart shape.

3. Adhere patterned paper to each piece, using white glue or decoupage medium (Mod Podge).

4. Cut a large scallop out of coordinating paper to go across the top of the pocket piece and glue in place.

5. Attach pocket piece to heart (we stapled ours).

6. Download the flower shape template, trace onto patterned paper and cut out. Glue together and embellish as desired. Adhere to front of pocket.

Download Adornit_ValentineMailbox Flower Template

7. With a craft knife, cut slits in the tops of the heart, one on each side. Slide ribbon through each slit and use to tie to the back of a chair – or tie the ribbon together at the top to hang on the wall.






Did you know that yesterday's Super Bowl was the most-watched program in American television history? According to Nielson, 106.5 million people watched the Saints beat the Colts. That surpasses the previous record of 105.97 million viewers by the finale of M*A*S*H.

I watched the game for about one quarter and bits here and there - but got distracted with dinner - making chili and bread sticks and cleaning up the mess.

The halftime is always entertaining, but watching The Who gave me a weird high-school-memory moment. Took me back to standing against the wall in the gym wondering if I was going to get asked to dance. Not a pleasant memory. What's with all these oldie bands playing the Super Bowl halftimes anyway? I don't get it. They're old - like, way older than me, and it kind of creeps me out to see people who were young when I was young looking like total geezers.

I was watching when the Saints did that goofy onside kick. I absolutely couldn't figure out what was going on, and I learned long ago not to quiz or bug Scott during a game. Now I'm hearing that it was the "most gutsy decision in Super Bowl history." I don't get it. What was gutsy about it? All I know is that football is an interesting media phenomenon fed by superlatives (the most the best the worst) and, probably, money.

The other confusing thing to me was all the Peytons and Mannings. There was Peyton Manning, Sean Peyton, and Archie Manning. To add to the confusion, Archie Manning loves the Saints and yet wants the Colts to win. Took a bit of Googling to figure all of that out.

Speaking of Google, I must mention the ads. Of course the ads are the other reason to watch the Super Bowl. If you want a full "advertisement" run down of each quarter of the game that lists the ads that aired, go to the article here by Seth Stevenson (no relation) on Slate.com. He includes his personal faves, but you also get a taste of his sarcasm. I don't necessarily agree with his opinions, but it's the best (written-word) summary on the web.

If you're more inclined to watch than read, there's an "adblitz" channel here on YouTube right now where you can go watch and vote.

My faves were the Google ad - a sweet story about Paris and (hating to admit) the e-trade baby ads. There were some others told a story that I laughed at, but have forgotten the product. I DID NOT LIKE the ads with men in their ugly underwear. What's up with two ads in a row showing such hideousness. And then all those other ads about the drudgery of men's lives. One guy on TV said, "It was the year of the dumb male in underwear. It was a men-stupidity convention - not a good way to sell product. It was the year of 'Let's smack men around and make them look like idiots.'"


[ snowmaggedon ]

Hey, where's our snow??

So, here we are in Utah, ski country, the greatest snow on earth etc. etc., wishing for snowfall, wanting that much-needed winter storm, worrying that our moisture levels are at around 66%-ish so far this year - the statistics that summer droughts are made of, and seeing in the news that someone else got our snow. (Everyone else got our snow!)

In Washington D.C. and surrounding areas, the snow is shutting down the city. There are lots of sad stories, but some fun stories too. The one I like is the Facebook-generated gathering of thousands of people to DuPont Circle for a giant SNOWBALL FIGHT.

I Googled "DuPont snowball fight" to read all about it. This is from the ChristianScience Moniter website:

"In a city famous for fighting on Capitol Hill, residents are out in -- reportedly by the thousands -- to partake in organized snowball fights across the area.

What else are you going to do? After all, it's the Snowmageddon. That's what President Obama called the winter weather today. Others are calling it the Snopocalypse.

Whatever. With two feet of snow hitting a town that is well-practiced in using social media to rally supporters at political events, why not use Facebook and Twitter to host a few snowball fights?

DuPont Circle showdown

Take the snowball fight at DuPont Circle this afternoon. With over 5,600 fans of the event and reports that more than 2,000 people showed up, it uniquely demonstrates once again the power of the new media.

So newsworthy was it that the mainstream media was there to cover the event. One local reporter was pelted by snowballs throughout his broadcast. But, he remained standing.

That's something you can't say about this participant. Armed with her iPhone, she successfully forged her way through the battle zone before getting clobbered and knocked to the ground.

"Came SO close to losing my iPhone. Phew," she tweets."


in the news

The company I work for, Adorn It Scrapbooking, had a booth at the Craft and Hobby Assn. tradeshow last week. Here are a couple of places they were mentioned in the post-CHA reports.

From the Paper Crafts Magazine blog, called Moxie Fab World, the editor, Cath Edvalson showed this photos and said, "I've still got some moxie fabs to share with you on this last day of CHA Week, beginning with a really fun collection from Adorn It." Check it out:

And in the photo below is my boss, Georgana (in pink). with the Adorn It booth in the background...from the BIG PICTURE SCRAPBOOKING blog, written by their marketing director, Dawn: "I had the pleasure of attending CHA for the first time last week with BPS founders Stacy and Kayce. CHA is the Craft and Hobby Association's big trade show and education event. I must say I was overwhelmed by the amount of cool stuff just for scrapbooking; tools, paper, embellishments. If you can imagine it, it was there! If you want to see some photos of this cool stuff, please check out Stacy Julian’s blog or the blogs of our BPS teachers like Tami Morrison, May Flaum, Karen Grunberg, Georgana Hall, Claudine Hellmuth or Wendy Smedley who were frantically taking pictures throughout the show.


In that world, this is cool!!


77 mph and thinking

Yesterday I was toodling down the freeway at 77 mph and my mind was going a hundred. I like to drive; it puts me in control of the radio and makes the time go faster. (We were driving home from St. George.) But I wish there were a way to write while I drive. Here are seven (out of a thousand) thoughts I had at 77.

1. Why, oh why did I leave my iPod in my sock drawer. The music on Scott's iPod is, well, OK, but I've heard the same songs over and over. I never have my iPod when I want it. I don't have the iPod habit yet. Thank goodness I picked up that Glee CD at Target.

2. My new CD is Glee Season One and the last song is Defying Gravity. It is now confirmed to me that I really really don't like the show Wicked or the music from Wicked. Yes, I know, I'm the only one in the United States or maybe the world with that bad (wicked) attitude. And yes, I have seen the show - I saw it on Broadway in NYC - sixth row seats. I just didn't catch the magic. And listening to Defying Gravity with the Glee cast didn't change my mind. I'm just glad I didn't have to listen to Popular too.

3. I have fabric waiting at home. Oooh, cute fabric that I really really like and a quilt pattern that will be perfect for it. Before I dive into the little bit of funness (not a real word), I have to finish the UFO Valentine's Day table runner that's been in my sewing closet for a long time. Have to...this week or it won't be worth it - like every other year for the past ten. Oh man, has that unfinished project really been hanging in my closet for ten years? If I don't finish it this week, it's going in the "OUT" box.

4. You know, that movie The Proposal? We watched it over the weekend. And I just have a little question that I would like to ask the director or the stars. Does anyone ever watch the final version before the movie is released??? Do they have focus groups??? How about some kind of expert critic looking at the movie??? It could have been a sort of a decent movie, but, man, they cheezed it up so badly and filled it with so many cliches that it was nearly unwatchable. I cringe just thinking about Betty White doing that Indian dance. Do they think we're a bunch of idiots?

5. Six o'clock on the Nephi exit. The sky is the most beautiful shade of blue I have ever seen. I love blue - it's my favorite - and I wish I could have captured that color in a photo. I took a photo, but the color's not right. I will always remember it though.

6. I am going to go home and clean my house. I mean rip into it.

7. I never decided on my word for 2010. I like reading all the words that women pick as their "guiding word" for the year. I read about this idea on scrapper-idol Ali Edwards' blog last year when she asked the question, "Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2009?" Her word for 2009 was NURTURE, and this year it's STORY. Somewhere she mentioned VITALITY which is a favorite word. I love words and have thought about a lot of different words in the past month. On my shortlist:










SIMPLIFY (not really)


As I drove I thought about life and the constant path to either self-improvement, or at least maintaining what I've already improved lol, and I'm still thinking........................


The Happiness Project

I've followed Gretchen Rubin for the past couple of years. She actually started her "Happiness Project" blog about four years ago, but I found out about it in 2008. I checked on her blog occasionally to see what she was writing about and enjoyed her approach. Her project was to study everything she could find about happiness and then apply it to her own life. After awhile she branched out and began to write about marriage, parenting, clutter, time management, goal setting. She always pointed out that success in those topics would eventually lead back to the achievement of happiness.

It was fun to learn that her blog had led her to a book deal...but, honestly, her blog lost some of its appeal to me when she began promoting her book. Now its all about the book. I'm happy for her that her book went to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list, but I wish for the old blog back - with lots of interesting suggestions, lists and tips. I haven't read it, and won't personally recommend it yet, but here's a little bit about the book:

The Happiness Project

Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Book Description:

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her—and what didn't.

Her conclusions are sometimes surprising—she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference—and they range from the practical to the profound.

Written with charm and wit, The Happiness Project is illuminating yet entertaining, thought-provoking yet compulsively readable. Gretchen Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire you to start your own happiness project.