Stella Marie Juarez


Friday, January 30, 2009

Egg Mcmess

I was running late this morning - again - but I wanted to make a quick breakfast before I left. I made an egg and cheese on an English muffin. I have made these before and when you leave the yoke a little runny its delicious! That combined with an ice cold Diet Mountain Dew and I'm off to a good start.

I wrapped my hot breakfast in a paper towel and headed out the door. I had my purse on my shoulder, breakfast in left hand, diet dew tucked under my arm and I was trying to lock the door with my right hand. Then I dropped the keys. As I bent down to pick them up I forgot that my diet dew was open so as I leaned forward the potent green liquid poured out - and all over me, my breakfast and into my purse. CURSES! So I went back inside and dried everything off, including the arms up to the elbow because it had traveled down my sleeves, and then headed back out the door. This time I got the door locked and got into the car. I put the keys in the ignition and took a bite of my breakfast. Remember that runny yoke? It EXPLODED. It went everywhere. On my jeans, down my sleeves, all over my hands and face. LOTS OF CURSES!! Back into the house I went. Yellow goo everywhere and getting it off was made even harder because our sink was full of dishes (ahem, Martin...) so I could barely even get to the water. I cleaned up the best I could and headed out . Again. I pulled out of the drive way at 8:28 and I have to be at work at 8:30. Nice.

I tried to get to work as quickly as possible and as I pulled into my parking lot I touched my hair. Hmm what in the heck could have made a big section of my hair so stiff?

Yes my friends, right before I got out of the car I realized I had a huge mass of dry and crusty egg yoke in my hair.

What's with today, today?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let's Wrap It Up

Ever need a simple recipe for lunch or dinner? Well, I always do! This a very simple suggestion that kids and adults will enjoy.

Chicken Caesar Wraps.

I made these the other night for a sick man and a vegetarian. The man was pleased but omitting the chicken for the vegetarian made this a very light dinner so you would need something more substantial for a side.

First, cut up some chicken and cook it in a skillet over medium heat. I seasoned mine with lemon pepper and Spike and cooked it in olive oil pam.

Make sure you cook it until there is no pink on the side (insert dirty joke here).

While the chicken is cooking chop up a tomato and some romaine lettuce. Take your cooked chicken (you may want to cut the chicken into smaller pieces) and place it on a burrito size flour tortilla.

Notice how yellow it is? That is from my crappy camera - the chicken and the tortilla are actually very normal in color.

Next layer on your lettuce.

Then add some crumbled feta cheese. I used reduced-fat tomato basil flavored.

Come on, I said layer on it on - don't be bashful!

And top it with tomato.

Just disregard that wine opener in the back of that picture. I have NO idea where that came from.

I usually like to add some black olives to this but I didn't have any in the house.
Finish it off with your favorite Caesar dressing.

If you are making this for kids or a picky adult who doesn't like Caesar (crazy person) you can always substitute ranch dressing.

Now just rap it up - My name is Laura, and I'm here to say - oh wait, wrap it up.

Looks pretty boring from the outside but after your first bite you will be hooked!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Chicken Parmeasyn

After reading Sjon's blog this week I started craving Chicken Parmesan. It's great comfort food and it's super EASY! I thought everyone made it the same but after reading how Sjon makes hers, I think everyone probably has their own recipe.

I got a special treat on Wednesday night because Martin's last client cancelled so he actually went with me to the grocery store - that never happens. We bought the groceries and then went home and he helped me cook.

He enjoyed pounding the chicken! I think that was his favorite part. While Martin was pounding the chicken to an even thickness, I mixed Italian breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together in one bowl and an egg with a little bit of water in another. Then Martin dipped each piece of chicken in the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Instead of frying them in oil I used olive oil Pam and browned each piece of chicken in the skillet until the outside was nice and crispy.

Then I popped them into the oven to cook through. 20 minutes later I pulled them out and topped them with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese.

And put them back in the oven for another ten minutes for the cheese to melt.

I served it with whole wheat linguine and it was delicious! The chicken was so tender and juicy but still crispy on the outside.

The cheese was crispy and a lovely shade of brown but the flash makes it look white in this picture - yes, I need a new phone.

The best thing about making this is that it makes great leftovers - I ate it the next day, cold right out of the fridge. Don't judge me.

After dinner Martin helped me do the dishes and then we curled up on the sofa in front of the fire.

It was quite a lovely evening!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

We Are One

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."

I am so proud.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Allow Me To Introduce

Our new (to us) car:

She finally got all of her little bumps and bruises fixed and came home with us today. She's a 2005 but only has 29,000 miles on it - not too shabby. She has a full tank of gas and since she gets great gas mileage hopefully that will last us all weekend - which will involve 3 separate trips to Clay and back. Gross. Poor little girl, as soon as she comes home we put her to work.

Martin and I are so excited about not having to carpool anymore! And if you would like to send donations, make checks payable to Laura Juarez :)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2009 - The Year of the Budget

Well, ok, probably not an actual budget because Martin and I are terrible with money. And because its haaaaaarrrrrdddd. But one thing is for sure - this year we will be FORCED to budget our money better. This year my paychecks will be smaller due to an increase in health insurance premiums, a (small) contribution to 401k and the medical expense flex card. That combined with an additional car payment, car insurance premium and another new one - life insurance premiums. Yes, we are geniuses and decided to do this all one time - brilliant! And within the next couple of months or so we should also have Martin's 401k set up. Not that we will have much of anything left to contribute but every dollar counts, right?

Oh and we are also going to pay off our credit card debt.


A girl can dream.

We have downsized our cable (goodbye movie channels!), gotten rid of caller id (we pretty much just don't answer our home phone at all now), cancelled our internet (Martin is UNhappy about that one), and haven't paid our water bill in two months. Yes, I know I have to actually pay the water bill it's just so annoying that I can't do that online!

We are really going to have to watch what we spend on eating out and going out. I will have to miss the circus this year (first time in 5 years). I know that pleases Martin! I know we can do it but we are really going to have to change our ways.

So far we have done well this week. I guess we don't get much credit since it's only Tuesday. But I planned the menu for the week and bought groceries Sunday evening and it is really amazing how much money you save if you actually plan your menus. I didn't buy anything that wasn't on my grocery list and spent a lot less money then I normally do.

Tonight's dinner is questionable. As I have said before, I love my crockpot. But I am trying a new recipe and when I left it this morning I didn't have much confidence in it. Steak cut in cubes, cream of mushroom soup, dry onion soup mix, etc. But no water or other liquid other than the soup which is very thick and it's supposed to cook 8-10 hours. I am imagining getting home tonight to a black ball of burned beef. If that happens we'll HAVE to go out to eat - oh no! See! Slipping already. I guess I need to keep a jar of spaghetti sauce in the pantry in case of recipe failures. Need to add that to next week's grocery list.

Feel free to pass on any money saving or budget suggestions or tips. We will need them.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Totally Lost and Unfocused

I'm back! This has been a crazy couple of weeks.

Christmas was great! We spent Christmas morning at my mom's house and then went and picked up the kids and spent Christmas evening at my dad's house. Everyone was spoiled rotten, including the adults!

The day after Christmas was spent getting ready for our trip with Tavi to New York. We had such a great time and Tavi absolutely loved the city. We saw Hairspray (with the original cast! Thanks Dad and JB!), we went to the Top of the Rock, ate at some amazing restaurants (Thanks Jeannie!), shopped and shopped and shopped some more, went and saw the NYU campus, went to Time Square, Central Park and everywhere in between. We crammed as much into the three days as humanly possible!

The weather was pretty warm but we decided that was probably best since Martin does not like the cold!
The city was so beautiful decorated for Christmas.
By the end of the trip we were all exhausted.

That picture was taken in the back of a cab during a ten minute drive. Those two can fall asleep anywhere!

We got back from New York and spent one night at home before repacking and heading to the lake for New Years. We had a great time taking the dogs on a hike through the woods down to the water and letting them do some rock climbing! Jake and the girls loved it!

New Year's Eve we cooked steaks and twice baked potatoes and Martin set off fireworks. We were all very excited about 2008 being over and looking forward to a fabulous 2009!

Everyone stayed awake to bring in the new year (well I don't know if you can really count Jeannie).

If you watched the ball drop in New York those glasses should look familiar. We bought them for Marisa and Anna while we were there.

New Year's Day we wanted to start the year off right so we made a big breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns (well, tater tots, close enough) and then packed up to head back home.

It was a great way to spend New Years. 2009 was going to be our year!

Well at least we thought. On January 3rd while Martin was out running errands a woman ran a red light and ran right into the Focus. The Focus that we had for only 3 weeks and hadn't even made a payment on yet!

Yes, my friends that is what you call a total loss. Thankfully no one was hurt. Anyone looking for a safe car? Try a Focus. We are amazed that with that amount of damage, Martin was able to walk away unhurt. The damage on the other car was not nearly as severe.

She'll need a new door and some body work but I think her car will probably be ok.

As you can imagine Martin and I were very upset. We had waited a long time before getting a second car and after getting it we really realized what we were missing! Now we are back to one. Not to mention we were so worried about how much money the insurance company would give us versus what we owed on it.

The night of the accident Dad and JB cooked us a cheer up dinner. We tried to find humor in the situation and just be thankful that no one was hurt. We had a nice evening and then headed home to try to get some sleep.

That didn't really work out for us. We got home to find that Layla was missing. This is not her first time to get out so I tried not to freak too much. She has a collar with a tag and she is also chipped. But then a few minutes later Katie called to tell me Jake was also missing. Jake has never, ever gotten out of her fence and unlike Layla, is not familiar with being off leash and alone on the streets. Panic set in.

We loaded up the girls and headed to Katie's house yelling for the dogs and asking neighbors if anyone had seen them. We got to Katie's house to find her even more in a panic than we were. She was, to put it mildly, hysterical. Layla would go home with pretty much anyone, but Jake is not the kind of dog that walks up to strangers and Katie really believed that he was gone and would never be able to find his way home.

As we were screaming up and down the streets, Katie heard a bark that she was sure was Jake's. (We didn't really believe she could pick out his bark in the dead of night, remember she was pretty hysterical!) But then out of the dark we heard the jingle of a collar and Jake came running home - two steps behind him was Layla.

We were both furious and unbelievably happy. We have no idea how they found each other. Katie and I live pretty close to each other but it is still a long way for short beagle legs to walk. We aren't sure how Jake got out and how they found each other but we were just glad to have them home safe and sound.

I guess these two really are inseparable!

This week has been spent worrying about the car situation and trying to adjust to "real life". A five day work week, paying bills and dealing with the insurance company has been exhausting but luckily the week is almost over.

I heard from the insurance adjuster yesterday and it appears that 2009 is looking up. They are going to give us enough money for the car to pay off what we owe. Now we are back to square one - we have to find another car (within our very low budget!).

We are hoping this is not the way 2009 is going to be - if so, it's going to be a very long year!

But we aren't giving up! We are so thankful to have such wonderful family and friends who are there for us when we need them. Even if 2009 doesn't go our way, we know we have a lot of people who love us and who needs more than that? Well, ok, we do technically have to have money so we don't lose our house. I don't think our loved ones necessarily love us enough for us to live with them ;)

Please 2009, take it easy on us!