I have some sayings that I live by:

There are things in life you can't control. But there are some thing YOU control (like your attitude, your effort and your worth.)

Love is an action verb, NOT a feeling.

You get OUT only the result of what you put IN. (The definition of "function" in mathematics - so someone who doesn't function must not be putting in.)

Never stop playing, being silly and having fun.

Just do it and quit bitching.

Find joy or it will never find you.

Life sucks. Go somewhere else to cry.

Change or you'll be the same all your life (which goes together with "nobody's perfect.")

How you suffer the hard times is what MAKES you. Good or bad.

Tackling challenges is what makes you strong. Doing easy things is the same as doing nothing.

Living is doing, not sitting.


happy happy

I am like a kid at christmas right now.

Oh. I am a kid at christmas right now. Mark is making me wait until the pants he wants to wear come out of the dryer... meanwhile, christmas at the mccowen's awaits us...


Woo hoo.


disneyland on the fly

I have a story that you probably haven’t heard if you aren’t a Hatch, long, but good.

I was lounging around Sunday when I decided to check my email. There was a cryptic message from Katie that only had a flight itinerary in the body. I deduced that since it included a layover in Phoenix that she wanted me to meet her at the airport, so I checked when… the flight came in THAT DAY and landed IN 20 MINUTES! So I threw on some pants, grabbed my keys, and flew out of the house… I made it with plenty of time and we had a nice visit. They told me they were on the way to Disneyland, that Jared would be flying direct the next day. I wished out loud that I could go… and when Mary said Jared would like that… I went.

After they caught their connecting flight, I called Evan. He was good to go, too, if I could wait until he got off work in a few hours. I drove home to wake up Mark to see if he was in. He woke up and groggily said he couldn’t call off work. I packed, took care of some things, and met some prior obligations (holiday baking with Jennifer) and we were driving to Los Angeles by 7:30 pm. Mark called when he woke up. He apparently had not completely woke up when I asked him and would have gone if he had… so he sent his regrets and went to work.

When we arrived extremely late, we took the Best Western Hotel Tour of Southern California (there are MANY on the same block surrounding Disneyland, and we went to three of them…) I feel sorry for whoever was in room 232 at the wrong one that we knocked on at 2:30 am.

We visited a bit with Katie and Mary and caught a few hours of sleep. I rode to the airport to pick up Jared. He didn’t know we came, so in the airport I snuck up behind him and hugged him. The expression I got was priceless. He expressed his disappointment that Evan couldn’t come. Ha. Ha. When we got back to the hotel and he walked in and saw Evan laying on one of the beds, he was so happy that he dog piled him.

We made it to the park about noon, had lunch and did the Disney thing. My favorite was the Tomorrow Land because Jared could go in with us and share the experience. I took the two girls (Kylee and Danielle) for a “girl” ride and we got princess ears. When Justice saw them, I imagine he was a little jealous. Evan then sneakily told me which ones he had his eyes on: a cap with led lights in the metallic ears. So I snuck off and got them, and had his name put on the back. Then I threw it on my head and pretended they were mine. When he saw them, he said, “I like those.” I told him they put my name on the back and asked him if they spelled it right. He read off all the letters one at a time, and then said, “You’re name is spelled like Justice?” all confused… I said, “No, this one must be yours” and popped it on his head. He lit up so bright.

The girls were with me for the parade, too. They had one of those classically magical reactions to the princesses. Their faces went hypnotically mesmerized and they started doing the parade wave and saying “hello princesses, hello princesses” with a whisper.

It was a marathon of adventure and at dark, we were tuckered out and cold. Some got hand stamps to go back for the fireworks and others (including myself) were done. We went back to the hotel, got warmed up, ate, visited, and crashed.

Evan and I took Jared for breakfast the following day and then had to take off to get home for work. The rest flew out at 4 pm.

It was ROCKIN!


notes from yesterday

Six other people got their Bachelors of Arts in Mathematics, and six got Bachelors of Science in mathematics.

The dinner show we went to was AWESOME!!! I just love music and I especially love a talent showcase, and this is it. Plus, they did a couple of yodeling songs, one in harmony, which had me grinning from ear to ear. I bought a couple of yodeling CDs so I can practice. So, if your ever in the area, Barleen's Arizona Opry is neat-0. The one guy was the actual same guy who sang the high part ah-weee-wee-ah-wee-a-ohm-a-way in the Token's tiger sleeps tonight. And he played the same Saxaphone that was used by the Glenn Miller Band to record the favorites such as "In the Mood." Pretty fun stuff.


woo hoo

blip, blip

I was ironing Mark's suit pants so he can wear them today for my graduation and found this in the pocket:

The last time he wore them was for the wedding. It made me smile remembering how hopped up on cold and flu drugs he was that day, swirling his theraflu in a wine goblet while he socialized.

Funny how much today has reminded me of that day... getting ready, getting the gown together...


wait over

grades are in.

we're good.

Tomorrow is the big cap and gown and the closing of a big chapter in my life and the start of a new one. It's sort of like turning 30, though. One more blip.



Finals are over.

Now we wait.

last day of school

This afternoon, I take both of my finals and (assuming I don't fail them) I am done with college until I start my Masters. I'm going to wait a while.

I love how they call you and ask for a gift to the college right when you graduate. Shouldn't I pay my loans off first before I go helping poor students? I still am a poor student.

My ankle is fine by the way. I was off crutches in a couple days and walking gingerly. I'm ready to test it out in the cycle class, but haven't had a chance yet. It is still a little tender.

Last weekend, we went to Superior, AZ - an old practically abandoned mining town that is literally falling apart. While we were there, it was really windy and parts of the roofs of buildings were flying off, a window in an old hotel shattered and fell on the sidewalk, and phone lines looked like they were about to snap. It was an exciting photo shoot. We got some cool pictures of this crazy town.

This weekend I am studying for finals so we didn't go anywhere.

Friday, I walk the stage for graduation. Saturday is our "1 year" anniversary... corresponding with roughly 10 years together.

Some crazy week.


jingle bells


I love having a tree, which we don't always do, since we spend the holiday elsewhere... but this year, I couldn't help myself. The smell and twinkle always does something to speed up my heart.



This is a little embarassing. Yesterday, I fell down some stairs at my apt and reinjured an old ankle sprain. Not a bad one, but I'm on crutches for a while. As a point of reference, I'm not very coordinated and I was kind of groggy from just waking up. I'm not usually someone who falls down just walking. (Well, sometimes.) I guess I won't be cycling for a while.

I took the Exam Thurs and got a lot out of it. I think I missed way too many to even hope for a pass (it stands at an estimated 2% chance,) but I think it was a valuable experience for next time. And I know where I am at and what I need to work on.

I already passed the benchmark of my last day of school. All that remains is finals and I will finally be all growed up and smart.



We had a cool thanksgiving at the McCowen's. It was a beautiful day and we started it out with breakfast on the patio overlooking the golf course. Some hummingbirds were feeding with us. It was beautiful.

I prepared more of the meal than usual. I usually just make one item. This year I made a few. Some lessons learned.... My hand mixer broke so I used my food processor to whip the sweet potatoes. This was a happy accident, because they were so smooth and fluffy. I used fresh green beans in the green bean casserole and learned that they take longer to cook than the canned ones, and that the french fried onions on top are gross. Next time I will use breadcrumbs or corn flakes. The pumpkin cookies (recipe below) were a major hit, especially with Mark, who pestered everyone to have one all day. I also made a ham. They take over two hours to heat up.

After dinner, we talked for a while and then went home to go to bed early so we would be rested for VEGAS, BABY!

We went mainly to take some pictures, which we enjoyed. We also got to walk so much that we probably worked off some of our holiday calories.

However, since Vegas has "Taco Time," we put them back on right away. The picture below shows how pissed I am when I have to leave Taco Time behind to come home.

We just stayed over one night and came home. It was enjoyable.


Weekend Roundup

As usual last weekend, we went on a little excusion. This time, we went to the Lost Dutchman's State Park, First Water Trail... at daybreak. We got there early and took some interesting night shots. (My favorite one is on Mark's flickr.) Here are a few of my shots from the fun:

It was a beautiful place to hike. The trails are free and open to camping and overnighting (no motorized vehicles, though.) I fantacized going on a three day horseback camping trip into these mountains.

Great Pumpkin Cookies

I just made these terrific cookies in my quest to find the perfect choc chip pumpkin cookie. They are very delicious, so I thought I would share the recipe.

Mix and set aside:
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c oatmeal

Cream together:
1 c brown sugar
1/2 egg
1/2 c granuated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c softened butter or margarine

Add to wet mixture:
1 c canned cooked pumpkin

Mix well.

Slowly mix in the flour mixture.
Lastly, stir in

1 c choc chips
1/2 c chopped nuts (walnuts)

For each cookie, drop 1/4 c dough on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until firm and lightly brown. Remove and cool. Makes about 12 cookies.



This day has turned out awesome.
Things that contributed to it's goodness:

I got to talk to Evan until my phone died and we rarely have a chance to connect.
I got a check in the mail from an Actuary Club Scholarship I was not expecting that paid my exam fees for me. (Free money would have been enough to make my day great by itself!)
I got my invite to graduation convocation.
I got a test back with a good grade sustaining my senior-theory that you can go to college without ever actually going to class and still get good grades.
I mailed Eva and Mom's Christmas Packages... nearly done with that busy making stuff.
I went cycling at the gym for the first time in a while due to a crazy schedule and got a great workout.
I realized that the future holds:
Next week - the opening round of what I like to call the eating season: food, lots and lots of food and for once, both Mark and I are OFF for four straight days to eat it.
The next week - try #2 on the Actuary Exam
The next week - no school, prep for finals
The next week - Finals and Graduation
The next week - nothing, absolutely nothing.... nothing. Wow. nothing. Can you even imagine? Well, I will continue to study for the Actuary Exam on the high likelihood that I will need to take it again in February... but really, this particular week... I'm not going to. I'm going to do nothing.

My day just got even better just thinking about it. I'm giddy. I don't know how I'm ever going to get to sleep. But, when I do, I will have sweet, sweet dreams about nothing. Nothing and eating. Maybe I should fit a few extra trips to the gym during the nothing to make up for the season of eating.



According to the article in the Salt Lake City Tribune, titled
"Happy Birthday - times 3 - Generations share the same date - what are the odds?"
by Jennifer W. Sanchez the fact that my sister, her daughter and her granddaughter all have the same birthday, Nov 7 is a coincidence that only happens with a probability of one in 133,225.
I love my family. We defy the odds all the time.


NOTE: I have a new flickr photo sharing account. Take a look at my photography and artwork, if you like. I have two layouts to do and I will be done with my first complete scrapbook, 2005... I am scanning the pages and making them available on that site. When they are all up, i will put them in order so you can select "slideshow" and flip through. I will let you know when that time comes.

I have also altered my scrapbooking blog to be a weekly tutorial - I try something new each week and learn stuff the hard way so you don't have to. (i.e. the embossing heat tool will melt your carpet if you don't put your work on a phone book first.) I also offer step-by-step Photoshop 7 tips to acheive the results on the layout I feature. I will try to post something new every week by Monday, unless something comes up.

I have been trying to figure out how to get all my millions of craft crap items into some storage solution that allows me to use them with ease and then put them out of sight with ease. I came up with this: I bought this rolling cart, which is the right size for the tools and basic items that always have to come out. It is super cute and has canvas pockets down the side. I keep all my tools in my tool tote, and my layouts in progress in special folders. If only my brain were this organized.

Then, I bought little plastic tubs at the dollar store to put the stuff that only has to come out when you are working on a project of a certain type. In my case, I chose to go with type = color. This was a hard choice for me because I like all my similar items together (embroider floss in one container, embossing powder in another...) but I listed over 40 different items that I use with scrapbooking... and chose 8 color bins and 3 neutral tones bins instead of 40 dissimilar sized containers. Me doing my thing. I really should work at a desk or something, but I love sitting on the floor with all my crap spread out around me. Usually, Mark hangs out with me while I scrap, either working on his photos for his flickr on the laptop or putting on a movie for us (which I half-watch... which is perfect for the titles he really wants to see but I only sort of want to see.) Lately, we've been doing old Star Trek: Next Generation episodes. We saw the one that was written by the officiant who married us (Susan Sackett.) It's called "The Game."

I am going to spend my weekend pulling everything out of my "Craft Closet," throwing much of it out, making a spot for my cart, and then moving everything back in beautifully. I have a feeling I will need some motivation, so I am telling myself that once I fit everything in, I can see how easily it comes back out... and make a page for my book.
Here is a business plan to make you rich... offer a photo scanner that has a 12x12 bed... The closest is the Mustek A3, which is 11.6 x 17... while you are at it, you could make a printer that prints on 12x12 with archival ink and you could sell it for $450 and still be backordered...



This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.


State Fair

I think what is happening is that since the weather finally became tolerable and we haven't done anything for such a long time, that we are binging on activities. This weekend we went to the State Fair. We went on a 15 story Ferris Wheel, which was actually pretty scary, and that's coming from an extreme adventure junkie.

We got some fun art pictures and had a fun time people watching and hanging out. Here are some pictures:



We went with Stephanie Trick-Or-Treating. It seems like this is really a dying tradition. There is so much of a push toward "Fall Festivals" or Trunk-Or-Treat parking lot deals that for a while, I thought we had the wrong day. For the first half-hour, I only saw one other T-O-T-er and it was a little 3 year old cow. It picked up a bit later when the teens came out because those kids see an opportunity when one presents itself.

I personally Trick-Or-Treated this year. I got a lot of strange looks, because, well, I'm 30. I guess they expect you not to pander for candy past a certain point, but I still got some loot. I dressed up as a fairy godmother to all those princesses out there. Apparently, I looked like someone named "Ugly Betty."


Some Creek

Sedona and Flagstaff

This week's road trip was another burst of cool weather up north. We drove up Sunday, took some pictures up Oak Creek and then drove up to Flagstaff and got a hotel. We spent some time in downtown Flag, which is a really cool little city designed for walking, shopping, and hanging out. We took some cool urban pictures with Mark's new telephoto lens that he got for his birthday and had finally arrived two days before. We were both very tired, coming out of the work week and up all day, so we just sat in our hotel and watched a "House" marathon for five hours. The following day, we drove back to Oak Creek to get some pictures at a specific spot. Just before we arrived, we pulled over to get some shots at a neat place and the lens fell out of Mark's camera bag and tumbled over a cliff and into the river. We pulled it out of the river, but I don't know why. It's a peice of electronics. You can't save them once they've been dunked in a river. After that, we went to the catholic church on top of the red rock and a few other nice spots and took some nice pictures... but the day was kind of marred by the loss of the new lens. We came home, got pity food, and ordered it again.

This is Mark at a really pretty spot by the road just before we lost the lens. I think he looks like an extra on the movie "Flatliners."


Fossil Creek

Over the weekend, we drove up to Fossil Creek, which is between Payson and Strawberry to go hiking and take pictures. The leaves are just starting to change and this particular area is just so pretty and green compared to other parts of the state, which even at higher elevations can look "brushy."


Counting Weeks

I have 9 weeks until Graduation. I bought my cap and gown and ordered my announcements the other day. This might be more satisfying than preparing the wedding. I could say in contrast, that the only difference between the two is that I didn't have to work 5 years to earn the wedding, but that's just funny.

I have 7 weeks until the next Exam P. I am super excited. I am trying to look at this next attempt as experience for the February testing window, but I am hiding lingering hope that it might do the trick. I just finished my once through on the 123 problem practice test and catagorized the problems I had trouble with and realized that I don't have a lot of weak spots, because they are all falling roughly under three or four umbrella topics. I am very organized about what and how to study. The key will be keeping the rest of the skills fresh while I hammer the difficult topics. However, I am sure that I am on my way to passing... even if it isn't this try.

I have just started a 4 week health kick. I just ate a bowl of cooked oatmeal with flax seed and prunes in it instead of my usual Cracklin' Oat Bran. It was good. My goal is to wean out my extra calories (our schedule makes an occasional extra meal tempting) and add veggies, whole grains, etc. I've gained a pound a week for every week that I've been in school because when time is short, time for health is a tough priority. But, I am going to make it one for the next 4 weeks - and get back to my August weight. At that point, I need to figure out how to keep us from lapsing back into bad habits.

I am dressing up for halloween and going trick-0-treating with Stephanie.



  • I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.
  • Gardening Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
  • The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
  • Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
  • There are two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead.
  • Life is sexually transmitted.
  • Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
  • The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
  • Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
  • Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?
  • Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again
  • All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
  • In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
  • How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
  • Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?
  • If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?
  • If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?
  • Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?


The Weekend

We celebrated the 29th anniversary of Mark's existence this weekend. His bro from CA was here, and his Grandma Oma, who just moved here, was on hand. We had an awesome dinner (which I made) and desert and sat around talking and relaxing. The following day, the siblings drove over to check out Gma's new apartment and visit with her for a bit. Then we sat on the couch for 12 hours. It was awesome. Oh, and we ate another awesome dinner (this time Jennifer made it.)

I am working on a take home exam (financial math-bonds) and taking a testing center exam (discrete structures - algorithms and congruence) tomorrow while studying for the certification exam in the breaks. I really appreciated the two days of turning off the brain to hang out with family. I really want to take a few hours and just scrapbook, but I can't. It is too fun and consuming and if I do it at all, it takes over my brain and then I can't study because I am creating projects in my head all the time.



If you have seen an equation, which you probably have, it was given to you by an educator along with an explicit task... solve for x or get everything on one side of the equals sign. But equations don't give themselves to you in daily life. So where do they come from and what are they?

They are "models" - someone takes raw statistics or measurements and figures out "trends" and then finds a "common form" of an equation that comes as close as possible to explaining the data. A simple example is: width times height equals area. Someone back in ancient times probably measured a couple hundred pastures and looked at the data long enough to figure out a way to generalize it for any pasture as a time saver. The most common equations are so simple that we use them without realizing that we are using them.

I am studying probabilities, which use the same models. By definition, an equation is a probability if the area is 1. The model is usually some scale and solving the equation for a part of the area gives you the corresponding probability of that part of the model. Here is an example. A common form of an equation is a exponential. Most commonly seen as: y equals "e" to the power of negative x. It starts out very small and then gets large very fast. In probabilities is is often used to model the lifetime of a part. The part is more likely (y, the probability, is a progressively bigger number) to die later (as x becomes a larger number) in the timescale as opposed to earlier. This is where math becomes so much easier when the equation is looked at as a picture.

Some key points:

Setting the equation equal to zero and solving for x (using any method such as completing the square, quadratic equation, etc.) just tells you what value of x has a corresponding y=0. In probabilities this means, when there is zero/no chance of x occuring. (Meaning the part can never die under those circumstances.) This is just as important in many other applications. In physics, when y=0 might mean the tank will not explode or the project is finished or earliest point that the shuttle will escape Earth's atmosphere successfully. Anyway, you get the idea. Solving for the x that corresponds to a y=0 is important. They just never tell you why when you are learning the 20 different methods to do it. (Nor do they tell you that the 20 things they are teaching you are different methods to get at the same result, so you never know what the thing you are learning is for... they tell you the good stuff well after everyone else has lost interest.)



Mark and I have been having a great time taking photos during the few free moments that I am carving out of my study schedule. This last weekend we went out to the desert, once during the day, and once at night on the full moon, hiked around a bit and took some nature shots. It is really hard to find something interesting to catch the frame in the desert, so we didn't get anything. The night shoot was more productive because there was so much moonlight. We hiked to the top of South Mountain and got some shots overlooking the town. They turned out really strange because the city sort of looked like daytime, but with everyone's porch lights on and stars out.

Then, later in the weekend, after going to Savers for dressing accessories, we had another photo shoot of me. It was really fun. I got a pink wig and fairy wings that match a dress I got from Grandma Zola. We're going to retake them with different make-up because the pink in the wig clashes with my olive skin.

Mark made this scrapbooking page (he calls it a photo layout to secure his masculinity) of our first photo shoot. As I noted before, you can check out the tons of excellent shots on his blog or better, his flickr account.

In the next few days, Mark will be posting the winning shots of our weekend shoot. There were not as many. I am posting this one that I like of which he isn't a fan.

Now both of our hobbies include photo editing so we got a new 160 gig external hard drive that I am really excited about and put photoshop on the laptop (so we can both work at the same time.) It is awesome.

Some updates on other topics...

I found out that my next sitting for my exam is Nov 3o, not Nov 8, so I have a little more time to study than I thought. I am still trying to average 4-6 hours per day and still keep up my grades in my classes at school as well as I can.

I have been trying to apply for jobs. It is a lot harder to find jobs that I am qualified for without that exam under my belt. I have found and applied for a couple and applied for a few more that would like the exam with the added cover letter line of pleading to consider the expectation that I will have it in the near future. My biggest setback so far is that we are not very flexible about our location. We would like something in the Los Angeles area so that we can be near Scott. There are TONS of jobs in San Fransisco. However, for someone on a starting pay salary, San Fransisco would be harder than Los Angeles in terms of increase to cost-of-living.

There are a lot of unknown factors playing a part in our near future. I'm a planner-type person, so I don't like the uncertainty or having so little control of so many things. Mark is so laid back. He keeps saying, "let's just see what happens." I could take lessons on mellow from him.

I arranged an o.k. carpool situation that costs less than gas and insurance to keep the Escort on the road, so the problem with the engine going out last week is resolved. It's not a perfect arrangement but it will do for the short term need until we move.

I'm also back to cycling regularly since I am no longer trying to attend my college classes. Just by not going, I get to sleep when my body needs it and be productive for the 6 hours of the day that I couldn't function on the other schedule. I get a lot more effective study in as well.


Photo Op

Mark took a ton of great pictures of me today. Check them out on his blog. The second one down is my favorite.


I'm o.k.

I think my pity party is winding down on the whole exam thing. I know I played down the chances of passing to everyone else, but inside, I thought I was better than the average test taker and that the statistics predicting failure did not apply to me. So I didn't prepare myself well enough for that reality. -And I didn't continue to study for the next try while I waited for the results.

Then, the next day when I started studying again, I realized that I forgot A LOT! -- The next test date is November 8. Five weeks away and the clock is ticking.

Then, the next day on the way to work, my engine on our older car went out and I had to hitch to work. This means that for the rest of the semester, I have to ride to work an hour and a half early three days a week when time is already premium.

So, I had a couple of hard days in a row. -- But, I pulled myself up off the ground, wiped myself off, and went cycling the other day. Cycling is so therapeutic for me. I was back to invincible by the end of the class. So, I think I'll survive - and I learned just exactly how imperative it is not to stop doing what you love just because it is hard.

I chose this profession because it is challenging and demanding. Because when I pass that exam, I will belong to a very elite club. So, I think I'm O.K.



Results became available today.

I did not pass.


Roasted Chiptole Chicken

This takes 10 minutes active time and 40 minutes cooking time. It is 7 hot on my scale of 1-10.
Serves 2.

2 chicken breasts (cook time assumes frozen)
1/2 can Cream of Soup
1/2 small can chiptole peppers in adobo sauce chopped (roughly 3)
1/2 cup water
1-2 cups cooked rice (I used my rice cooker - started it 10 minutes after
the chicken starts cooking)
1 cup bell peppers cut into strips
1/8 cup onion cut into strips

Mix the soup, water and chiptole peppers (and some adobo sauce). Place the frozen chicken into a casserole pan and coat with the soup mix. Throw in the oven for 40 minutes at 400F.

(meanwhile, cook the rice)

Five minutes before the chicken time is up, saute the bell pepper and onion strips with some cooking spray (if the peppers are frozen, rinse the ice off and dry them or they will be soggy when they cook)

When the chicken is ready (no longer pink inside) toss the peppers in with the chicken to coat with sauce. Then place the chicken/sauce/pepper over the rice and serve.

You could probaby throw the peppers and onions in the casserole with the chicken to cut out the saute step, but I like mine to brown on the edges and be a little crispy.


Dad's Day


I planted some basil, jalapeno, dill, bell pepper, and thyme. I give them a couple of months. I always plant something every year. It always symbolically dies.


I listened to some Woodie Guthrie Dust Bowl songs.


I had Mark take me out for a Root Beer Freeze and ate a candy bar.


I did some household stuff that I've been procrastinating.



Mom & Dad M.~


Mo's Noodles

I just made up this pasta recipe today. It was very awesome. (Serves 2)

Thin Spagetti (about a cup cooked)
1 Herbed Chicken breast (boneless/skinless - I buy the kind that has herbs on it before it is frozen... un-herbed would probably be just as good)

In a frying pan or on an indoor grill, cook the chicken and chop
meanwhile, cook the spagetti according to directions on box.
meanwhile, in a saute pan mix and heat just until warm:
2 T chopped onion
2 chopped garlic cloves
2 chopped leaves of fresh basil
2 sun dried tomatoes
1 chopped tomato
2 chopped artichoke bottoms
2 T olive oil (I keep olive oil on hand that has been soaking in hot red peppers for a long time - makes it red and gives it some heat)

Toss in the chopped chicken and cooked spagetti to cover and serve. Start to finish, this takes about 20 minutes.


Hair Day

I am scanning all these old photos and got inspired to try to do my hair like Grandma Oma's in the 30's. It was fun, so I took a picture of myself:


Salt Water

I had heard recommendations to gargle salt water for a sore throat but I never tried it until now. WOW. Instant relief.



I usually don't eat rice, because I've always thought... it's hard to cook properly and tastes sort of bland for the effort.

Enter my new cheap-o rice cooker. Yay. My dinner is so yummy.

Also, fresh parsley bunches are only 25-50 cents and you chop a little of that into anything (except cookies) and it will taste good.



I filed for graduation certification today and received my honors cords that I will wear. (Mine are the gold for Magna Cum Laude.) I am excited for it to be over. I can't say I have "senior-itis" because I had that last year. It's a more complex now because I know there are a lot of great things about being in school that I will miss and I can't wait to miss them.



I switched to the newer version of blogger called "Beta." It has a lot of upgrades, but it is still kind of incomplete, so there are moments of technical wonder when something goes how it is supposed to.

I've been getting my tech on in a big way recently. It's kind of exciting to tackle intimidating things.

I've also decided to redirect my scrapbooking enthusiasm to the scrapbooking page I created: Some people might not appreciate that particular art form... while others would love to read about it and see my layouts... so now I'm offering that choice. It's fun, but I realize that it is not for everyone.


Laid Out

I just found an excellent gallery of scrapbooking pages for inspiration. Note that I created a webpage for my scrapbook pages linked from this page.

I am switching from sleeping afternoons to sleeping mornings and my body is roundly rejecting the idea. Which basically means that I am switching from sleeping afternoons to not sleeping. I don't recommend this kind of lifestyle change. There are a couple of things I really love and can't live without: coffee, eating, and sleep.

I haven't posted because this tired version of me is pretty lethargic and uninteresting - not to mention grumpy.

School is going well. I am keeping up with my classes even though my attendance due to the sleep problems has been worse than I usually allow. I am learning the most helpful-to-life formulas on comparing interest and growth rates on investments, loans, and other financial instruments.

The countdown until I get my score from the Actuary exam is down to 3 1/2 weeks left.

Me tired.


Nothing, Really

It's going to sound crazy, but I just haven't had anything to say lately.

I miss writing, though. Because it's sort of relaxing to journal for me.

I got a new, really nice purse (better than anything I've previously owned.) Mark picked it out. He's a great shopper. (I'm so lucky.)

I've been cleaning, organizing, scrapping a little. I think I am going to set up a scrapbook blog to post my latest layouts. I love looking at others to get ideas, so it makes sense to share mine. I share practically every thought I have here, so why not?


Break's Over

Today is the first day of school, last semester for my Bachelor's. (I can't decide if I want to keep going and get my Masters yet or not.)

I'm off to classes in 20 minutes. I just have two back-to-back Math classes in the evenings, Tues/Thur. I'll have a pretty long day those days (1 p.m. to 8 am) but I will be free for the rest of the week and can take an hour nap between school and work.

It's been kind of busy getting ready and trying to close up some of my summer projects before fun's over...

I think I will try to make a better effort to take the time to have some fun during the semester this time.


We had an electrical storm so strong that the thunder was setting off car alarms. It woke me up. (I guess waking me up is actually a stronger statement than setting off car alarms, but you'd only know this if you ever tried waking me up.)

It was pretty loud. Not a lot of rain though. Just enough to make everything smell nice.

We went on a date today. Bowling (we tied), a movie (Pirates), and dinner at Rubio's.

School starts tomorrow. Yippee. (That's half sarcastic and half excited to put the brain back to work.) My parking pass went from $89 which felt like a lot up to $200 and I still have to walk nearly a mile from the parking lot to campus! Crazy. Anyhoo... we're off.


Consumer Advisory Alert

A strict warning is in place for the All-You-Can-Eat Sunday Brunch at Marie Callendar's. Consuming this product, even in moderation, will produce the following adverse reactions:
  • Mixing food on one's plate which should never touch, such as Salmon, Waffles with fresh blueberry, and eggs benedict.
  • Disappointment when beautiful food tastes mediocre at best
  • With no price posted, expect some initial shock when the bill arrives $15/plate.
  • Stomach cramps which last all day and severe vomiting several hours later.



Sigh of relief. I took my test. There were no serious surprises. I studied appropriately. I did pretty well in there. I won't find out until they noodle the numbers and decide an appropriate score to call a "pass." It depends on the sample group. If there were a fair share of idiots in my group then, I passed for sure.

I guess I should wait to celebrate until I get my results though, because if there were too many over acheivers in the group, then perhaps I shant be celebrant at all.

Anyway. I really don't care one way or another because it feels so good to have it behind me for now.


Game Plan

By this time tomorrow I will be sitting down to take my test. AGHH!

So what am I doing with my time today? So far, nothing related. I put my laundry away. I'm trying not to think about it or get too stressed out. I'm going to sit down in a coffee shop and work a few problems, go to the gym to cycle, and then take a hot bath and go to bed early.

At work, before the test, I am going to do flash cards, do concentration exersizes and write scrapbooking journals. (You only get 2 hours of peak brain use per day and my test is 3.5 hours long - so I'm not doing any higher level thinking before the test.) Maybe I'll do some suduku puzzles. That's always good for turning on the logic centers of the brain.

I am going to do a lot of positive thinking, have a confident attitude that my best will be enough. However, I will also try to remember that taking the test, even if my best is not enough, will give me advantage if I need to retake it and will satisfy a lot of potential employers that I am committed to becoming certified... so that I do not become catatonic if it isn't going well in there.

I will (pass or fail) post my results for the world when they come out in six weeks. I will not be embarassed if I fail, because 60 percent of attempts on this test do. I'd be in good company. Sometimes it takes three or four attempts.

I guess I better get on with my day. I'm putting it off because as long as I've been puttering around the house in my PJ's, I've been able to ignore the subtle stress going on. Wish me luck.


Taking Time to Preserve Time

It's really rare considering how much I love to that I actually sit down and scrapbook. However, with Stephanie getting so amped, she keeps wanting some help here or a companion there. Somehow, I've scrapped more the passed few weeks that I have all put together in history.

It's been awesome. On Sunday, I did the hard part of getting started on the Honeymoon. I narrowed down from over 600 photos the selections that might make the pages - that was fun looking at all the pictures - decided on a color theme and decided how I want to story to feel. I reread the blog entries, travel journal entries, and went through boxes of stuff we brought back. (This is one of the things I like about doing this... you get to remember things. - I found a seashell I picked up on Sugar Beach. I wish I had found some chocolate covered cashews but we ate them all and I just found the package.) Afterward, I actually got the first day finished completely. (7 to go.) The pages are probably the best I've done, too. Very colorful and soft. --

And today, I all but finished the Wedding pages. Again, it's neat to look back on the day. Now that the pages are done, I can do that anytime I want.

It's been very relaxing considering that I have only two days left until my test. I'm trying not to stress and study too hard because my brain tends to shut down if I work too many problems in too short of a time. This is a great way to completely take my mind somewhere else.


What's Great!

Blogging is great. I just looked back at old posts and remembered some very good times. I'm so glad I do this.

TC Eggington's in Mesa is an awesome place to eat. We decided to try something new and WOW.

I had an artichoke and klamata olive omelet with zucchini and feta cheese and Me-Lovey had a skillet pan with roasted potatoes covered in two cheeses, chicken, chorizo, and over easy eggs. We were both pretty impressed. Go there.


Something Different

I actually cooked something I've never had before today. I looked at a ton of different recipes and combined them to make my own. It was terrific, so I am passing it on. Take my lead and try this adventure soon.

Mona's Chicken Cacciatore

1 T olive oil
3 large chicken breasts, boneless/skinless
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 t rosemary
1 t dried basil
1 t oregano
1/4 t pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 c onion chopped
1/2 c celery chopped
1/2 c bell pepper chopped into 1 inch strips
1 (26 oz) can chopped tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

Brown the chicken (I use my little indoor grill because it is faster). Chop the (not completely cooked) chicken into 1 inch squares. In a skillet on medium heat (careful or you will burn the garlic), mix the vegetables and seasons for a couple minutes. Add the chicken and tomato stuff. Cover and simmer roughly 20 minutes.
Serve over hot pasta. (Spaghetti is the most traditional for this dish. You can start the pasta when you cover the sauce and just serve it when the noodles are ready. It doesn't have to be exactly 20 minutes. The longer you simmer, the richer the flavor of the sauce. Some recipes call for an hour of simmering.) I melted some italian cheese blend over the top and served with steamed asparagus.
Also, I am really proud of Mark's latest accomplishment. Check out his website link for more details.


Latest Splurge

I just got this cute little scrap booking tool-tote so that when I go to the place with Stephanie, I can easily take all my gear. Mark calls it my dorko-bag.

full. Posted by Picasa


A Little Of Nothing

I haven't written in a while for two reasons:

a) I am very busy

b) doing nothing very interesting.

So, that's the summary for the time-challenged reader.

The more indepth version is:

I made two more scrapbook pages with Stephanie and we are going to have a standing once a month date to scrap at the scrapbooking store on Sunday afternoon. (All friends and family in the area are invited to join us - I'm thinking of you in particular, Jamie.) We're both pretty hooked.

I had my weight-loss challenge massage on Monday. I really cannot overrate the awesomeness of a professional massage. The difference between having a friend rub your back and having a pro do it is like going from riding a tricycle to driving a sprint car.

I was up for 37 hours doing overtime over the weekend. I should have said, "no." (But I can use the overtime to buy another massage!) It wasn't that bad for me, but for everyone who had to deal with me, I'm sorry.

I'm almost all ready to go to school. My first class is on the 22nd. I just need to go in for my books. (I will probably file for graduation at the same time.)

I take my test in 8 days, on the 16th. I'm pretty ready. It could go either way. I'm prepared for the worst. It will be awkward telling people if I fail if I say I think I'll pass. So, prepare for the worst also, just in case. But, still, keep your fingers crossed for me.


I made a collage of smaller pics from our trip to Utah. Stephanie is really getting involved in scrapbooking. I helped her put together her first pages today and they are really awesome. Now she totally has the bug. (Thanks for the kits, Lindsey! I finally have someone in AZ to scrap with!) We also found out that the scrapbooking store by her mom's work lets you crop for free (my usual place is $5 / half-hour) Steph has her eye on a canvas crop tool tote that I am going to get on coupon day. Posted by Picasa


Brittany is so grown up! We had a picnic in Murray park and it was just shocking to see how teenager she seems to be. Posted by Picasa

The rodeo queen rode by on her horse during our barbeque at Eva's on Monday and let Stephanie go for a ride. She walked her down the road and back. I don't think I've ever ridden a horse this tall.  Posted by Picasa

Eva and the kids were at Palisade's Lake all day Thursday, rafting, paddle-boating, jumping off the dock, playing in the playground, and generally having fun. I joined them in the evening for an hour before we went home. Posted by Picasa

I have wanted to ride on a boat for a while. Posted by Picasa

A shot as we were leaving Lindsey's. The baby she is holding is Andon. As far as I know, I think he is the newest addition to the family. (Maybe Candie and Nick's McKayla is newer... I'm not sure.) Posted by Picasa

This is the playground behind Ryan and Lindsey's house where the kids played for hours while the ladies scrapbooked (and Ryan watched - what a sport.) Posted by Picasa

We got cotton candy and watched the parade on Saturday morning. There was a marching band, lambs on leashes, mini ponies pulling mini carts, little jr. rodeo princesses (5 years old) on horses, and all the beauty queens from the different towns. Stephanie got a huge sack of candy. Posted by Picasa