Monday, January 31, 2011

January Meals

Sometime during the first part of the month, I decided to start photographing the meals I made. I try to cook about 5 nights a week and photographing my meals has been great motivation.

I  have been debating if I wanted to include lots of recipes on my blog... for now I have decided to just post a weekly recap with links to recipes. To kick it off, here are the meals I made {and photographed} during the month of January. They are all pretty healthy with lots of veggies. 

Bon apetit.

Turkey, Vegetable & Orzo Soup
Recipe via

Tomato & Orzo Soup
Recipe via

Chipotle Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

Pan-Seared Steak, Mushrooms, Baked Potato and Sauteed Asparagus

Southwestern Omelet with Chipotle Salsa

Maple Mustard Pork Chops with Maple Glazed Butternut Squash and Steamed Green Beans

Salmon with Red Peppers and Sugar Snap Peas
Recipe via

Barbecue Chicken Breast with Asparagus and a Salad

Chipotle Angus Burger with Homemade Fries

Roasted Vegetable Minestrone
Recipe via The Pioneer Woman

Beef Burrito

Spicy Lime Tilapia with Spinach and Asparagus

Steak Salad with Onion Straws
Variation of Pioneer Woman's Recipe

Chicken Parmesan with Sundried Tomato Sauce, Spaghetti and Sauteed Spinach
Recipe via Good Life Eats

Baked Grill Cheese Sandwich with Turkey and Tomato
Recipe via

 Hamburger, Bell Pepper, Mushroom and Red Onion Pizza

McDonald's Bottled Water

It seems that more and more fast food places are either charging a small amount {$0.25 or less} for water in a paper cup or they are doing away with tap water altogether, leaving you to purchase a $1+ bottle of water OR one of their less healthy offerings.

This morning, I went to McDonald's and was surprised to find that a bottle of water was my only option if I wanted water. In this particular case I was actually going to get a cup of water for my dog {we were going on a walk and I wanted to have water available for her after the walk}.

When I discovered they no longer offered water in a cup, I declined to pay for a bottle, but proceeded with my breakfast purchase. I am slightly appalled at this for a couple of reasons: water is a fairly cheap resource and up until recent years it has been a free alternative to buying a sugar-loaded, caffeine-enhanced soft drink. Now you have to pay for the privilege of a bottle of water. In addition, bottled water is not really sustainable and in our area, where recycling is not a priority, it is even more of a waste {think plastic bottle verses paper cup}.

I do not visit McD's very often, but in light of having to pay for water, I do not intend to visit them again. What are your thoughts about having to pay for water???

Sunday, January 30, 2011

You Know You Live in a Rural Area When...

you think it is completely reasonable to drive 3-hours {one way} to Atlanta on a Sunday.

Visit to IKEA, check. Chipotle for lunch {one of my faves}, check. Walk at Kennesaw National Battlefield, check.

We now own enough shelving to {hopefully} get the rest of our boxes unpacked. I am looking forward to being completely settled into our house.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Greeting Cards: I Love You More

Back when Daniel and I were living in two different states, I started a series of 5x7 cards that I would sneak into his luggage when he left for the week.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to keep it up the entire time {read: I got lazy, or busy, or both}. Anyways, the cards I did make, Daniel kept and they are now a sweet reminder that we made it through a difficult time together.

I have been thinking about these cards lately and decided to finish the series. This will help me to mark #58 off of my life list and it will be a great creative outlet for me while I have extra time on my hands {read: only occasional freelance projects and the unlikely chance of a full-time design job in rural Alabama}.

So, I have decided to share one design each month throughout this year. To kick of the series is the very first card I made for Daniel.

For us, the pun "I Love You More" has special meaning since our last name is Moore. In addition, I am addicted to blogs and coffee, but Daniel will always be more important to me than either of those things.

*Note the original idea for the first card, came from, the rest of the concepts are completely my own. 

© Cheree Moore  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Imprint Comfort Mat: A Review

I cook at least five meals every week. This has me in the kitchen for a minimum of 30 minutes per meal {sometimes closer to an hour or more}. I have been doing this for 8+years.

Anyways, several years ago, I noticed that I started getting pretty bad pain in my feet and my back while cooking. I tried wearing different shoes. I tried standing on a cheap, kind-of-thick mat {from Walmart}. I blamed my pain on the fact that we had tile floors and lamented that I really couldn't cook sans shoes. And the pain continued for years.

A few months ago, Daniel suggested that we look into getting a mat that would be more supportive for me. I think that his original idea was an anti-fatigue mat that he had seen for garages. Let me tell you, I did NOT want an ugly garage mat in my kitchen, so I wrote the idea off. 

Then he showed me some mats from IMPRINT that were kitchen worthy, but I still wasn't sold on the idea. But on Cyber Monday of last year, an old colleague who works for IMPRINT, facebooked that he was sharing a friend's and family coupon code for a discount on the mats.

I told Daniel about it and we realized that IMPRINT was having a sale in addition to the friend's and family discount, so it would be worth the investment.

We ordered two mats for the kitchen: a short one for the sink and a longer one that would span the area that I work the most {the counter and adjoining stove as seen in the photo above}.

We didn't receive the mats until right after Christmas. Unfortunately the smaller mat they sent to us was the right color, but wrong pattern. The mats themselves are AMAZING. Daniel called to straighten out the mix up with our order and they said they would send us a new mat and a shipping label to return the other one.

It is now the end of January and we still haven't received the correct mat, though Daniel's correspondent did tell us that we can keep the wrong mat {I plan to put it in the laundry room}.

The mats themselves are incredibly comfortable and I have experienced NO pain in my feet or back since I have been using it. I am disappointed in the service, but as long as we receive our correct mat, I will be a happy camper.

I would definitely recommend the product, the verdict is out on the service at this point.

*Update: my correct mat FINALLY showed up. Daniel had to call customer service to bug them about it, but about 2 months after ordering the silly thing, we finally have it. The product itself is AMAZING. Still not crazy about how long it took to receive the correct purchase {though we did end up with 3 mats for the price of 2, since they goofed}.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bed Inspiration

Daniel and I have been thinking about getting a new {king-size} bed for our master bedroom. Our bedroom is large and a king-size bed would fit the space better. We love our current bed, but the occasional time we let Sophie get in bed with us, it is waaaaayyyyy too crowded. In addition we currently have a futon in one of our guest bedrooms, so it won't hurt to move our queen-size bed upstairs.

We are in the window-shopping phase, but hopefully we can find something we can both agree on. I really want an upholstered bed – it is perfect for reading in bed. This is a feature that I love in our current bed. I also want to have a foot board because when we lived in the camper we didn't have a foot board and all of our blankets always ended up in the floor.

So here are a few options I like... 

This is very similar to our current queen-size bed.

I really like the shape and color of this one, but it doesn't have a foot board.

Again, no foot board.

Why don't they make more beds with foot boards?

I like the extra storage with this one... but no foot board. arrgggghhhh!!!!

It's for the dogs...

A couple of days ago, Daniel noticed several of the dogs on our street congregating around something in the back of our neighbor's yard. He got out his spotting scope and saw what he thought to be half of the carcass of a deer.... not sure where the top half was. Let's just say that the dogs {and cats} have been having a little party over this deer. Thankfully Sophie has been too intimidated by the other dogs to venture near said carcass.

Today she must have mustered up some courage because I looked out the window to see her over where the thing was {luckily most of it is gone at this point}. Then she came back to the porch with a 4-inch bone in her mouth, wanting to be let in.

Of course, I had no desire for a bloody bone to be in the house so I wouldn't let her come inside. She pouted and decided to go lay in the yard to gnaw on it for a little while. I eventually let her back in, but it took some coaxing to get her to drop the thing.

I have heard that Beagles are known to wallow in dead carcasses {like get completed covered in the stuff}. THANK GOODNESS that Sophie didn't have that particular instinct because there is no way I would have let her in the house without a bath and it is 35F outside {which would make for a pretty frigid bath}!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

52 Books: Book 6

Infidel is the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It tells her story of growing up in Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya in a very strict Muslim household, the daughter of a Somali revolutionary. She survives female mutilation, regular abuse and civil war before finally escaping an arranged marriage and taking refuge in Holland. 

Ali struggles with her feelings of honor for her family and the conflicting desire to be her own person. In Holland she is exposed to new ideas and a modern society. She is able to gain her citizenship which leads her to study at a University, eventually becoming a member of Parliament fighting for women's rights.

Ali has many threats on her life as she openly speaks out against Islam. In a political move, the Dutch government takes away her citizenship based on a lie she made about her name. In the end, the name is proven to be a variation of her real name and she is reinstated as a citizen. She ends up in the United States where she currently works.

I found this to be a very eye-opening look into Islam and one woman's journey to find freedom of self. She turns her back on Islam and religion in general, though she does make some interesting insights into the differences between Islam and Christianity. 

There are people that say that Islam is a peaceful religion, Ali argues strongly against this viewpoint throughout her book. Some will find this controversial but I found her story to be very inspiring.

Excerpts from the book:
We had learned the Quran by heart in Mogadishu, although of curse we had never understood more than a word or two of it, because it was in Arabic. But the teacher in Mecca said we recited it disrespectfully: we raced it, to show off. So now we had to learn it all by heart again, but this time with reverent pauses. We still didn't know more than the bare gist of it. Apparently, understanding wasn't the point.

A few months after our move, my grandmother arrived to help my mother with the household. She didn't like the way my mother talked about Abeh either. "When you're born a woman, you must live like a woman," she used to say, quoting a proverb. "The quicker you understand that, the easier it will be to accept."

We told our father that we didn't want to be girls. It wasn't fair that we weren't allowed to go out with him and do all the things that Mahad could. Abeh would always protest and quote the Quran: "Paradise is at the feet of your mother!" But when we looked down at them, our mother's bare feet were cracked from washing the floor every day, and Abeh's were clad in expensive Italian leather shoes. We burst out laughing every time, because in every sense of the word, Paradise was not at her feet but at his.

Even as a child I could never comprehend the downright unfairness of the rules, especially for women. How could a just God – a God so just that almost every page of the Quran praises his fairness – desire a woman to be treated unfairly?

Another way these kids {Ali's roommates} fascinated me: everything was about the self – what they liked, expressing their style, treating themselves to something they felt the deserved. There was a whole culture of self that I had never known in Africa. In my childhood, the self was ignored. You pretended to be obedient, good, and pious for the approval of others; you never sought to express yourself. Here people sought to express their own pleasure just because they felt like it.

{After 9/11} People theorized beautifully about poverty pushing people to terrorism; about colonialism and consumerism, pop culture and Western decadence eating away at people's culture and therefore causing the carnage. But Africa is the poorest continent, I knew, and poverty doesn't cause terrorism; truly poor people can't look further than their next meal, and more intellectual people are usually angry at their own governments; they flock to the West.

For a Muslim, to be an apostate is the worst thing possible. Christians can cease to believe in God; that is a personal matter that only affects their eternal soul. But for a Muslim to cease believe in Allah is a lethal offense. Apostates merit death: on that, Quran and hadith are clear.

I was a one-issue politician, I decided. I still am. I am also convinced that this is the largest, most important issue that our society and planet will face in this century. Every society that is still in the grip of Islam oppresses women and also lags behind in social development. Most of these societies are poor; many are full of conflict and war. Societies that respect the rights of women and their freedom are wealthy and peaceful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Date Night: Geno's and a 3D Movie

Friday night was date night for us. Daniel and I had dinner at Geno's Pizza and Grill and then went to see The Green Hornet at our local movie theater. Normally we don't like to pay full price at the movies, but since there is so little to do in our town, we decided that going to the movies occasionally is a cheaper alternative than always driving to the city to do something.

This was my first time at Geno's and I was pleasantly surprised. Their drinks are served in 32 oz styrofoam cups {much more than I needed, but I didn't have to worry about running out of Dr. Pepper}. We had the equivalent of their supreme pizza. It was thin crust and tasted great. We will definitely add this to our list of regular places to eat in Scottsboro {there are like 4 places on our list}.

The movie was pretty good. At first we were surprised to be the only people watching The Green Hornet, but right before it started a bunch of teenage boys walked in. They were a bit obnoxious but soon they settled down and watched the movie.

This was my first 3D movie to see and it was a bit difficult getting used to wearing glasses that altered my vision. There were a couple of times that the 3D effects made me jump. Overall I liked the movie. Action movies always make me feel like it is worth paying so much.

Geno's Pizza & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Weekend Getaway: Knight's On Main

On the final day of our trip, we opted to sleep in. We briefly considered trying to go tubing, but in the end we decided that we could do it another time and that relaxing is just as important as having fun.

So is breakfast.

Daniel and I really enjoy going out for breakfast {maybe I like it more than him, but he appeases me}. Going out for breakfast was actually his idea.

We went to Knight's on Main. I thoroughly enjoyed a steaming cup of hot coffee {actually I drank an entire pot} and I had eggs over-easy with country ham and potatoes. Yum. Daniel had pancakes and country ham {we should have just split the ham}. It was all delicious – though a bit expensive for breakfast food... maybe that is because we were in the mountains and everything is a luxury?

I would definitely recommend Knight's on Main. If it is cold outside, try to get a table that is not right by the door.

Knight's on Main on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Weekend Getaway: Bistro Roca

After two days of activities, Daniel and I were pretty tired. We decided to search for the best place to eat locally. It turned out that we had actually eaten at several of the tops picks for the area, but we finally settled on Bistro Roca in Blowing Rock.

I quickly jotted down the address and stuck it in our GPS. We had a 6:30 reservation and 30 minutes to drive. We should have had plenty of time.

Our first problem was that we took a back route from our cabin that included a jaunt on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was fine until the BRP closed 1.5 miles before we needed to get off of it. So we took the exit at hand and the GPS recalculated.

We made our way to Blowing Rock, but soon we were in a neighborhood with no restaurant in sight. Daniel had me call the restaurant to get specific directions to their location. I called and they told me that we should turn onto Laurel {which intersected with Main}. The only problem was I thought the guy said "Wallow" and I asked him twice to repeat the name {with me repeating back to him}.
Guy: "We are located off of Laurel."
Me: "Wallow?"
Guy: "Yes, Laurel."
Me: "Okay, Wallow."
Of course we couldn't find a street named Wallow.

So, we found ourselves wandering up and down Main Street in Blowing Rock {which is like 4 blocks long} and we couldn't find the correct street. We are both tired and hungry and cranky.

Daniel decided to stop and ask someone where "Wallow Street" was. Of course, that was a useless question. Then we ran into another problem. I had hurriedly written down the address, but not the name of the restaurant. Neither of us could remember the name. We thought it was something like Boca and when Daniel asked the person on the street if there was a restaurant named Boca, he got a blank stare {they must have thought we were complete idiots}.

At this point, I was ready to give up and go eat somewhere else. Daniel however, was determined to find this restaurant. So he called and was finally able to get specific directions {he had to ask multiple times to figure it out – including having them spell out street names so that we could find the place}.

After an hour of searching, we finally arrived at Bistro Roca {which was indeed located in more of a neighborhood-like area}. The place was packed, but they let us use our reservation anyway.

The food was great, though a little pricey. We like to split our dishes so that we can try new things. Daniel tried the North Carolina Trout with Grits and a Side Salad and I tried the BR Burger with Mashed Potatoes. We really liked the atmosphere, but we had a bit of trouble enjoying ourselves since we were both cranky. 

Bistro Roca on Urbanspoon

52 Books: Book 5

I just finished Away by Jane Urquhart. It is a novel that is set in Ireland and Canada. It was a type of story that I wanted to like, but could never get into it. I found myself having to reread entire sections because I couldn't stay focused. The history and politics throughout the book could have been made into a more interesting story, but unfortunately it never captivated me.

Excerpts from the book: 
Winter became a season of waiting, almost a hibernation, the odd neighbor breaking into the trance of the cabin...

We collected folklore. He thought he loved legends – but you can't love something you don't believe in and he never believed a word of it.

"I think the English took the land from the Indians same as they took it from the Irish. Then they just starve everybody out, or they evict them, or both."

"All stories.. have sorrows." She sensed her own story unfolding without her as she cooked or slept or built fires, trapped by winter in a house from which all action had fled. Powerless, she had not even the ownership of her sorrows...

Years later Eileen would tell her granddaughter, "This is what love is like, one is asleep and the other is awake but you never know which one is dreaming."

Weekend Getaway: Grandfather Mountain

Daniel and I lived in North Carolina for 6 years and never made it to Grandfather Mountain. We did try to go one time, but because we are frugal, we opted to pay a $5 parking fee to park at the base of the mountain and hike up. It was 4 miles of switchbacks in the woods with no view. After an hour of hiking, we threw in the towel. Sometimes it is OK to quit when you recognize that you aren't having fun.

Anyways, that was years ago. This past weekend we went up to stay in Blowing Rock for the weekend. We learned how to snowboard and then we looked into the possibility of cross country skiing for day #2. We really thought it would be fun to go ski at the Moses Cone Memorial Park where there are 25 miles of carriage trails to play on.

We found an outfitter that rented skis, but when we called it was too late in the day and they were out of rental equipment. Cue disappointment.

Instead of cross country skiing, we decided to do the next best thing: go to Grandfather Mountain and take Sophie with us. This actually turned out to be a better option because Sophie got to spend the day running in the woods in the snow instead of being cooped up in the cabin for another day.

The views from Grandfather were amazing. The upper trails were all closed due to ice and snow, but we were able to go out on the mile-high bridge and do a hike {walk} in the woods. We probably hiked between 1-2 miles in snow that ranged from 8 to 12+ inches.

We had a lot of fun. Next time we go to the mountains, we definitely plan to get up early and take advantage of cross country ski rentals.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekend Getaway: Snowboarding at Sugar

My husband is an engineer. And as you might guess, this makes him very practical and a bit of a planner. As in, there are not many things that he can do without sitting down and making an excel spreadsheet first. However, he does have a spontaneous side. When it comes to planning trips, he will do his research ahead of time and figure out basically what we will do, but the actual committing to a trip can come at the drop of a hat.

Case-in-point: We were considering taking a winter trip to the mountains. MLK weekend seemed like a good time. And with the recent snow precipitation, it seemed perfect. So last Thursday afternoon, Daniel started calling cabins to see if we could get a rental for the long weekend. We were both a bit doubtful that anything would come up as it was a holiday weekend, it had just snowed 8+inches AND we were looking for a rental for the next day.

Surprisingly enough Daniel found a place. And as a bonus, he managed to get us one night for free. This is how we roll. For vacations, we have found if you call last minute, you can usually get a sweet deal. Especially if you are using {vacation rental by owner}.

The cabin we rented was actually 3 BRs {more than we needed}, so we invited several of our friends. Evidently, most people plan ahead of time and were not available for a last-minute retreat. But our friend Chris had the weekend open, so he met us with his six-year-old son, Andrew.

Our original plans had consisted of trying to snowshoe, maybe ski and possibly get in some tubing. When Chris arrived with plans to snowboard, we decided that snowboarding could be a lot of fun {and it would put me and Daniel on equal footing}. 

Andrew put me and Daniel to shame with his utter lack of fear and natural ability {probably inherited from Chris}. Daniel and I had a good time learning how to control the board. Unfortunately the crowds at Sugar Mountain were ridiculous – it was a waste to buy a lift ticket. We just stayed down low and practiced with the snowboard. Also, after 3 hours on the slopes, my feet were starting to feel numb, so I called it a day. Daniel stayed an extra couple of hours to use the lifts.

We decided to forgo snowshoeing because it involved a guide leading you straight up the ski slope. If we are going to snowshoe, we would rather go out to a trail and not do it with a group of strangers. I think that I like snowboarding more than skiing. I felt more in control and I like that my legs couldn't shoot out in opposite directions.


We ended the night with dinner from Cookout {which we REALLY MISS}. Overall snowboarding was a success. We both came home sore and I am still feeling stiff in my knees from all of my falls. In the future, we would rather go on a week day when there are no crowds, but I guess you can't be too picky about when the snow will fall...

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...