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[Comments] (1) Sneaky Paws: I went up to Bakersfield to visit Rachel this weekend. When I got up to go to the bathroom this morning, Jellybean decided to come in with me. Then fat kitty paws appeared under the door and Jellybean sneakily hopped onto the counter and stood ready to pounce when I opened the door. Sneaky kitty.

I made a ton of scrapbook kits, cleaned up the yard a bit, and we went to see Flushed Away. It was a pretty good movie. I liked the little serenading slugs, but I always like the sidekick characters.

: Today has been a good day.

[Comments] (1) Party!: Our work holiday party this year is at the Disneyland Hotel, with free tickets to the park after. This makes my employer very cool, although not quite as cool as John's because spouses aren't invited. I didn't think Noelle would want to hang out with me, because I won't be able to go on any of the rides and I'll want to go home early. Then I found out she wasn't going to go to the park because she thought I wouldn't want to go. So we're going together. I love having a best friend.

bump: Somebody tiny has the hiccups.

Error 23302: Sometimes I feel like I make a lot of mistakes. I probably don't make more than the average person, but I don't notice every mistake the average person makes. *sigh*

[Comments] (3) How many mes?: According to this there is only one of me in the United States. I was doubtful at first, but a quick google search made me think that it may possibly be the case, assuming that one of the criteria is life.

: I get to go home early today, and Victoria brought donuts. Last time she brought donuts I ate three... and I'm heading that way again. I have to go to the post office after work, but I should have time to clean the apartment. In the meantime, I'm going to post a bunch of recipes that I've tried lately. I haven't exactly been cooking a whole lot lately, but inspiration from new recipes has given me the occasional motivation.

Lemon-Basil Pork Chops:

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 boneless pork loin chops

Combine the egg and lemon juice. Combine the bread crumbs, butter, lemon peel and basil in a separate dish. Dip pork chops in egg mixture, then coat with crumb mixture.

Place in a 9x13 baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

These didn't turn out as crunchy as I would have liked, but John thought they were pretty good, and he doesn't like pork. I'll definitely make them again.

Spicy Orange Beef:

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound boneless sirloin steak, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
3/4 cup green onions, 1-inch slices
1 cup snap peas

Combine garlic, pepper, and beef, tossing well. Combine rind, juice, cornstarch, and soy sauce, stirring with a whisk.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture, peas, and onions; sauté 2 minutes. Add juice mixture; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Serve beef mixture over rice.

This was very delicious, even as leftovers, but I must warn you that the leftovers sure looked yucky.

Pasta Fagioli Soup:

12 ounces sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 
3 cups chicken broth 
1/2 cup uncooked small seashell pasta 
2 small coarsely chopped zucchini 
1 can stewed tomatoes 
1 teaspoon dried basil 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 can kidney beans, drained 
1/3 cup shredded Asiago cheese 

Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add sausage; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and pasta; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Add zucchini and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in basil, oregano, and beans; cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until pasta and zucchini are tender. Sprinkle with cheese.

This soup was very easy to make. No hard-to-chop vegetables involved, unlike most of the soups I've made. Definitely worth the time involved.

Pumpkin Pancakes:

2 cups flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons vinegar

Mix together milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until just combined.

Heat griddle over medium high heat. Pour batter onto griddle using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides.

The batter for these pancakes was so thick that the outside was getting crispy before the inside was cooked, so they were a bit doughy. These weren't as delicious as I'd have liked, but Mrs. Butterworth made a fine companion.

Crockpot Chicken with Vegetables and Creamy Mustard-Herb Sauce:

1 can cream of chicken soup with herbs
2 1/2 lb. chicken
1 1/2 c. sliced leeks
4 medium potatoes
8 oz. baby carrots
1 T. dijon mustard
2 T. chopped green onions
2 T. chopped dill

Pour soup into the bottom of crockpot. Add chicken and vegetables and mix well. Cook on low 7-9 hours. Remove chicken and vegetables. Stir mustard into the sauce with a whisk. Pour over chicken and vegetables. Garnish with chopped herbs.

It was nice to come home to a hot meal, but there are two things I don't like about crockpot cooking. First, the food is always overcooked. John turned it on when he left for work, and I turned it off when I got home, but it was still too long. Second, I think everything cooked in the crockpot tastes the same. This recipe did make a valiant effort to be different.

: John and I spent a fun and productive Saturday together. We signed a new lease (we are moving 10 yards into a 2 bedroom apartment), went changing-table shopping at IKEA, practiced the organ, searched for a Sumana Christmas gift, bought groceries, and went to see Dead Man's Chest at the dollar theatre in Irvine. We also decorated the apartment for Christmas. We figure we'll be gone for a week visiting Leonard in New York, and we probably won't want to redecorate after we move (on December 15). Might as well enjoy it now.

Last night Jon, Sharon, Brynn, Kristan and Sarah came by. We had pizza, pumpkin ice cream and a fun time chatting for a few hours. It was good to see them! I love having family. Brynn has a very cute haircut.

: Here is a cute story I've been meaning to post since we announced the coming Beet.

It was about a week after we had told the family about the baby and we had explained that we were calling her Beet. It was the day Jamie was moving so John, Jodi and I took Tyler and Justin back to our place to get them out of the way. We went to the pool where the boys hopped in, and the adults lazily put our feet in. Justin was trying to get us to come in with him and said, "I want you to come in! Aunt Jodi and Aunt Pete!"

[Comments] (1) NYC Here I Come!: Tomorrow morning John and I are leaving to visit Leonard and Sumana in New York. I'm so excited! We get to see and do lots of cool things, plus make a yummy (and starch-containing) meal for Thanksgiving.

John has been going into work later the past few days so he doesn't get taken advantage of. In fact, I got home after him the past two days (but I get paid for working overtime). He still gets up and goes to work out when I am up in the morning, and today he even took the laundry for me! I'm so lucky to have such a good husband.

Not only are we moving on the same day as our work holiday party, but our year-end closing must be done that week, which means even busierness for me. But again, I get paid overtime now. I love that!

[Comments] (1) : We are having an awesome time in New York. So far we have seen Central Park, the Met, Times Square, Union Square, Washington Square, NYU, The Statue of Liberty (yay!), Chinatown, Little Italy, took a cruise around all of Manhattan Island, and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. This morning we got up quite early and went to the Farmer's Market with Leonard to get fresh vegetables, chicken, eggs, bread and etc. for the massive amounts of food we are making for tomorrow.

This afternoon John and I are going to the top of the Rockefellar Center, walking around Central Park some more, and going to see the Manhattan Temple. Tomorrow is devoted to cooking, eating delicious food and relaxing. Friday Leonard is taking us to Flushing Park in Queens. It's been a very fun trip and we're lucky to have a nice place to stay with Leonard and Sumana and be able to see everything we've wanted. Love the public transit.

: Today Leonard, John and I went to Flushing Meadows to see the World's Fair leftovers. The Unisphere was very cool, but all the fountains were turned off or drained and the Pavillion was closed (although the mosaic map on the floor appeared to be completely gone anyway). Still, it was neat to see and a nice walk. We burned some of the calories from our Thanksgiving feast yesterday.

The tarts Leonard made (pear and chocolate-pecan) were excellent. I also really loved his Parkerhouse rolls and the gravy. I mostly did prep work with the vegetables, but it was fun to help. We made a big batch of truffles today, chocolate, almond and mint flavored. And of course we had yummy mashed potatoes.

Early tomorrow morning we are heading back to the West Coast to rest up for the busy month ahead. We are moving soon, and the next 3 or 4 weeks will be the busiest for me at work. It was nice to get such a great vacation in before all that. Beet has hardly been any trouble, other than my poor hurty feet. Yesterday was the only day we've had rain. It's really turned out to be good timing for our vacation.

: Tonight I got a wonderful baby shower gift from "Aunt Sumana": a 90-minute pre-natal massage at a local spa. Sumana couldn't come with because she had to work today, but the boys walked me down there and I had a relaxing 90 minutes snuggled with pillows and blankets and getting spoiled. ahhh... I was on my side, like Kristen - I think my neck and shoulders would have been better if I was on my tummy, but he did his best, and he did get my face and head in addition. My feet have hurt a lot this trip, and this is the first time my lower back has been sore (maybe the bed?) So it was awfully nice to have such a treat today. Thanks Sumana!

Home Run: We made it home after a very long day of traveling. John let me take an awesome nap, since we got up at 1:30 AM California time. Beet really enjoyed the flight. She was wiggling around like a crazy baby. Or maybe I was just sitting around doing nothing long enough that I felt her more.

During my nap I had a dream I was sorting the presents and stocking stuffers I've got for John, Rachel and myself, and there were tons of big presents, mostly for Rachel. You know, when you're old the presents get smaller and more expensive it seems.

I am wearing my ducky PJs.

: Last night John and I went on a little shopping spree at Target. I got a couple items of maternity clothes, John got a poinsettia, and we bought some stocking stuffers and little gifts for ourselves, Rachel, our Primary children and our nieces and nephews. It was a lot of fun; I love Target. Today I'm wearing my cute new clothes (it's a Professional Dress day).

I bought John an early Christmas present in New York - a Sudoku book. I promptly got addicted. John is sooo much better at it than I am though.

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