Monday, February 28, 2011

New season

You may have noticed a pleasant change in blog-scenery. I changed the main picture and a few of the colors because, in these parts, it is quite obviously a new season!

The winter snow storms (thank Goodness we were lucky enough to have two this year -and neither impeded our Christmas travel!!) are long gone. Just as quickly as the cold cloudy skies receded Northward, our usual sunniness resumed. Don't get me wrong. I love sunniness. Nine months of sunniness, however, can -at times- be too much of a good thing.

In addition to the change in blog-scenery, I have also changed my hair!

Um, yikes!

For most people, a new hair cut isn't a big deal. I, however, have sported the same hair for most of my life. In fact, while I was getting my hair cut, I mentioned to my hairdresser that I've only ever had four people cut my hair: my mom for the first 15 years, then three other women, one in each of the places I've lived. Oh, wait, I just had a fourth person come to mind.

Anyway, the first major change came in 7th grade when I grew out my bangs...oh how I "wish" I could share that yearbook photo with you! Then, every few years I would go through a cycle of getting some kind of trendy-ish cut (one that usually did not take into account my features or styling preferences whatsoever!), followed by a long season of growing it out, then trendy-ish cut again.

As such, and never having fully learned my lesson, I present to you the shag:

Well, at least that's what my hairdresser called it. I was going for some kind of Jennifer Garner meets Penelope Cruz with a touch of Reese Witherspoon thing. Nonetheless, I think she's exactly right. I've got a shag.

It's okay for the most part, except this forever-in-my-eye, not-as-long-as-I-thought-it-would-be piece of bang in the front. And then there's the issue of actually styling it...

My frequent get-out-of-bed-comb-and-go technique is not quite as useful with the new cut. So, I think I've decided -maybe actually for good this time- that comfort and ease are way more important to me than style no matter what.

I think I'll be fine once the bangs grow out. (After all, I do really like the extra layers.) But, until then, bobby pins are a girl's best friend.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Best spaghetti sauce ever

UPDATE:  The recipe has been refined!  Click here for the new official recipe for Brooke's Best Spaghetti Sauce.

Ahem, I would like to announce an actual original recipe!

Brooke's Best Spaghetti Sauce

A few weeks ago I was having a throw-what-you-have-together-and-call-it-dinner night. The result was better than I could have hoped for! I will make this sauce again and again for sure. Matt agrees, it is the best.


14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes (Muir Glen makes the fire roasted variety -maybe other brands do as well-...the taste is awesome!)
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 whole tomato cooked with olive oil, garlic and shredded parmesan cheese (um, this was a random item from the refrigerator...probably not essential, but thought I'd include it just in case it is, in fact, essential:)
1/2 onion, chopped
4 tsp minced garlic
12 oz ground beef
3/4-1 tsp each dried basil, oregano, and marjoram
1 Tbsp olive oil
Dash of salt, crushed red pepper, and onion powder


1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Drain, transfer beef to a medium-sized bowl, and return skillet to the stove.

2. In the same pan (you gotta love that, right?), saute olive oil, onion, and garlic until onion and garlic are soft and slightly browned.

3. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Return beef to the skillet and simmer 5-10 additional minutes.

**Just in case you'd like to turn the best spaghetti sauce into the best baked spaghetti, (as shown in the photo) here is my version of doing just that:

Best Baked Spaghetti


1 recipe best spaghetti sauce
1/2 pkg spaghetti noodles
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
Dry grated parmesan, garlic salt, and basil to taste


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Cook spaghetti according to package directions and drain.

3. Place drained spaghetti in 8x8 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese to taste. Top the spaghetti with the sauce, then mozzarella, spreading each evenly over the preceding ingredient. Sprinkle to taste with garlic salt and basil.

4. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit to cool and thicken for 5-10 minutes.


The picture above is also spaghetti, but different sauce and different noodles. I made it last week with spaghetti squash! Many of you probably already know about spaghetti squash, but I had never known what it was before, never! I was following a recipe and kept wondering what it was going to be like to have my spaghetti sauce on top of squash...didn't sound like the world's best idea to me.

Despite my reservations I tried it, and I am still amazed. It looks like squash and cooks like squash, but after you bake it the most amazing thing happens. The smooth flesh instantly transforms into thin noodle-y strands when you scoop it out! I'm serious!

Some of you are thinking I'm an idiot, but imagine if you were a kid (um, like me) wouldn't this be the most amazing thing? It got me thinking, for one thing, that this would be an awesome science activity to do with kids. They would eat it up, hahaha.

Okay, enough already. If you haven't tried it, go for it. Even my husband loved it, so you are safe. Enjoy the recipes and God bless!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Just because

A few weeks ago I made an impromptu road trip to Colorado to visit my best gal pal. She was going to be home alone for MLK weekend, so I decided to leave my hubby home alone instead of her, and set out on the ten hour drive.

The drive to Colorado is pretty dull...until you reach Colorado that is. Once you see those mountain peaks ahead of and around you, how can your heart help but soar? We filled the weekend with lots of good times (mostly inside due to my at that time very new toe injury) eating and talking and hanging out. Since the last time we visited, we have both acquired a dog, so we also had the interesting but enjoyable task of acquainting our dogs to each other.

Hers a 40 lb. pitbull/beagle and mine a whopping 9 lb. toy poodle, can you guess who called the shots? Ironically, it was Charlie, our fluffy white and black shadow! It was pretty fun to watch. Eventually they warmed up to each other more, and it was really sweet to see the lion and the lamb sleeping on the couch together (unfortunately I accidentally deleted those pictures from my phone).

I took all of these pictures with my phone while driving. It's not my best idea ever, but I was pretty bored and confident in my abilities to drive straight and level for hours at a time. The mountain picture was taken south of Pueblo, CO, I believe. The moon picture was taken somewhere between small towns in western Texas. I thought it was neat, and trying to get a clear picture that also didn't have cell phone towers in it gave me something to do around hour seven or eight of the drive.

I also promised pictures of the husband in the tree. Matt and I are self-proclaimed MovNat students, I think. It's a pretty cool philosphy that basically boils down to exercise, but in practice is way cooler:) Give it a try and you may get a few strange looks from passersby, but I also assure two things will happen: you will have FUN playing like a child and your body will feel better for it.

So how did Matt get in the tree? Well, there's a video on the MovNat website that describes how (I'll let you check it out there from the expert Erwan Le Corre so I can't be held liable...try it first in a place that is soft underneath!), but it's actually not that hard! This is coming from a girl who cannot yet do a pull-up, so you know you can trust me. I cannot yet do it on a tree branch this high, but I am able to do it on some monkey bars that are a foot or two lower to the ground.

I'm sure there will be more to come soon regarding our natural movement adventures. Take care!
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