Monday, January 23, 2012

Crunchy Lemon Dill Salmon

Towards the end of last year I started developing a love for cooking.  I wanted to make something with French's fried onions and after searching found this recipe ... let me just say I absolutely L O V E love this recipe ... it's SUPER easy to make, for the most part healthy and full of yummy flavors.   You should add this to your recipe book:

  • 1 1/3 cups (2.8 oz.) FRENCH'S® Original French Fried Onions
  • 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 3-6 portions of salmon filets
  • 2 tbsp. FRENCH'S® Spicy Brown Mustard  (I didn't measure it!)

  • MIX French Fried Onions, dill and lemon pepper in plastic bag. Crush with hands or rolling pin.
  • BRUSH salmon with mustard. Coat top of salmon pieces with seasoned onion crumbs; press firmly to adhere.
  • BAKE salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet at 350°F for 20 min. or until opaque in center.

My 2011

This evening as I was reading my google reader I noticed that Maleesha (a co-worker) had posted a blog about her 2011 in review so I thought I would take her lead and post my own 2011 in review.  It's a great way to reminisce and thanks to Facebook Timeline, my recap will (hopefully!) not be too difficult!!!

Let's start in January.  David and I brought in the New Year 2011 with friends.  As you can see from the picture below I was not feeling much pain!!!

After bringing in the New Year with my David and friends it was time to head back to San Antonio where I was working on the Air Force project that made San Antonio my second home.  The weekend after New Years I was a little sad because there was cold weather coming our way with ice/snow and I wasn't going to be able to make it home for the weekend.  Luckily I am married to the most wonderful man ever and he drove down to San Antonio to spend the weekend with me :)  I can't remember exactly everything we did over that weekend in San Antonio, but I do remember we went to dinner at the Old San Francisco Steakhouse and we also went to a movie (NO CLUE what movie we saw!!!).  It did snow in Dallas that Sunday and unfortunately (or fortunately - however you want to look at it!) I missed it.  From the pictures I saw it looks as if it was very pretty (and a MESS for us Dallas drivers!).

February proved to be an extremely busy month for me with work!  I spent most of my time in San Antonio (again!), but I was able to spend Valentine's Day with my honey!!!  We went to eat our Valentine's Day dinner at Al Biernat's.  It was a great experience!  I love visiting 5 star restaurants and I would definitely visit this restaurant again!  Al, himself, sat us at our table!  We moved from an apartment in Plano to a house in McKinney towards the end of February - since I was out of town so much for work David had to handle the move (along with my job!).

March was a great month!  My work in San Antonio was FINALLY finished :)  I even wrote a blog about it!  I also saw Ronnie Milsap and Mark Chesnutt in concert at the Choctaw Casino .... oh yeah, I also celebrated my 39th birthday :(  My last birthday in the 30's :(

April is always a tough month for me... April 13th was the 8th anniversary of Devon passing away ... thanks, once again, to my wonderful husband I did find some happy days in April ... we went to see the Rangers play in their Opening Series and David got us seats right behind home plate!!!  He really is too good for me!

In May we went to Las Vegas!  I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Las Vegas.  We stayed at the Cosmopolitan which was FABULOUS - BEST hotel room I have EVER stayed in!  In-n-Out burger came to Texas for the first time ever ... I made David sit in a super long line for me to get a double double animal style ... have I mentioned how great my husband is?  especially since he HATES HATES HATES waiting in lines .... it only took 45 minutes LOL

June was my absolute FAVORITE month of the year!  David and I went to Boston for Vacation to see Demi and her Rick.  I am so lucky to have such great friends that I have met through my job!  There were so many highlights of this trip:
1.  Demi's friend Rick took us in his boat to Plymouth where we had the BEST clam chowda ever at the Cabby Shack!!
2.  We visited Rexhame Beach
3.  We visited many bars in the Marshfield area (we had our own little pub crawl!)
4.  We ate breakfast at Arthur & Pat's ... by far the absolute best breakfast I have ever had ... if you are ever in the area you should definitely try it!!! 
5.  We visited the downtown area, went to the Aquarium, attempted to go on a Whale Watching tour
6.  We visited Fenway Park and saw the New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys in concert
7.  I saved the best for last:  we had the absolute BEST HOSTESS in the whole wide world  (Thank you, Demi!!!!!!)

All in all it was a great vacation!

July - celebrated my BFF Melanie's 40th birthday and ended the month with a bang by having gastric sleeve surgery ... read about it here.

August - bought my new car :)  Yay me!!!!

September - I can't remember anything extraordinary happening in September...

October - In October I learned a very important life lesson and that is to cherish your friends, but also to know who your true friends are ... October was a tough month for me personally, but I did have a highlight during October ... I had to travel for work to New Jersey so I was able to make a weekend of it and visit Demi again ... we visited Salem, Massachusetts and we went to the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and it was a blast!!!  Have I mentioned what a great friend Demi is?

November - enjoyed a girl's night out at Painting with a Twist in Garland and had a great time drinking wine and pretending to be Picasso.  

David went Black Friday shopping with me (for the first time ever!) ... we went shopping and fought the crowds and were able to pick up at 7 1/2 foot christmas tree at home depot ... this year's tree may be my most favorite tree ever ...

December ... ahhh, Christmas time ... my most favorite time of the year ... so many great memories were made ... let's start:

1. Went to the Gaylord ICE! exhibit for the first time ever.  I am so lucky I was able to go with my BFF Melanie and her family.  It's so great seeing things through a child's eyes ... her son was so excited about seeing Shrek!  It reminded me of my sweet Devon and how much he absolutely loved Shrek ... 

2.  Went to see Aaron Neville in concert at Choctaw Casino ... It was really a great concert... 
3.  Enjoyed wrapping presents and trying to figure out what my David had bought for me!
4.  Reached the 60 pounds lost milestone!!!!   YAY ME!!!!!

5.  Spent time with the family ...
my sister Karen, me, my mom and my sis-in-law Kathy

I learned a lot in 2011 and made a lot of life changes .. I am looking forward to an even better 2012!!!! If you made it all the way through this long a** post, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!  It only took me FOREVER to write it :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Creamy Italian Chicken

Lately I have become a little obsessed with cooking in my crock pot.  Last week I cooked one of David's favorites!  As you know David doesn't eat beef or pork or much seafood; therefore, I am pretty much limited to cooking chicken!!  This recipe was very flavorful and I would definitely make again.  Here's the ingredients you need:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package dry zesty italian dressing
  • Seasoning for chicken (I use Melting Pot Garlic & Wine seasoning)
  • 1 small can (4 oz?) mushrooms
  • 1 8 oz. package low fat cream cheese
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (low cal/reduced sodium)

Take the 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts and season them (again, I seasoned them with the Garlic & Wine seasoning, salt and pepper).  Place the chicken breasts in the crock pot.

Mix the 1 package dry zesty Italian dressing with 1/3 cup of water - mix the dressing and water until it has a smooth consistency and no lumps.  Then pour in the crock pot with the chicken.

Cook the chicken in the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours.

Mix the cream cheese and chicken soup until it has a smooth even consistency and then add the drained mushrooms.  Pour this mixture over the chicken in the crock pot.  Cook for another 2-3 hours on low (until the chicken is done).

Once the creamy Italian chicken is done cooking I poured it over pasta.  Since I had my surgery I don't eat a lot of pasta, but when I do eat pasta I always eat high fiber, high protein pasta.  In this case I used the Barilla Farfalle Pasta.  I also added some brussel sprouts to the plate because they are David's favorite!

Dinner turned out super duper yummy!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

My New Life!!!

I haven't blogged in quite awhile, so I decided that today was the day that I would get back to blogging.  The last time I blogged was back in June so it's been almost 6 months and it's time to get back on the bandwagon!  My favorite blogger dianthe has been blogging diligently lately so I am just following her lead (although I am not as eloquent as her!)  I actually started a blog a couple of months ago and I decided to not post it, but now I am going to tell you the story about my new life.

In June, David and I went to Vegas for a couple of days!  We had a fabulous time!  I mean, who doesn't love Vegas?  We stayed at The Cosmopolitan hotel which was absolutely FABULOUS!  Since I had to travel for work for almost 15 months straight I was lucky enough to earn a bunch of Marriott points so our stay at the Cosmopolitan was complete FREE!!!  Marriott Rewards FTW!!!!   Looking back at the pictures I see now how completely unhealthy I was! Take a look at this picture of me with Buzz and Woody!

I am fortunate enough to have a FABULOUS husband that loves me for ME and not what I look like.  I am not sure how I got so lucky but I am more than extremely blessed!!!!  

I have been overweight for pretty much my entire life.  In fact at one point in High School I was wearing a size 16.  Being in high school and shopping at Lane Bryant is not fun!  Back in 2002/2003 (?) my sister had gastric bypass surgery and because of complications almost died (she got down to like 89 pounds!)  Needless to say her complications scared the crap out of my family.  Gastric bypass was never really an option for me after this because I was too scared of having the same complications.  In 2009/2010 I started looking into other weight loss surgery options.  The most popular and less evasive surgery I found was Lap Band.  David and I discussed Lap Band and he was not a fan of this procedure because they put a foreign object in your body.   Regardless I was still hell bent on having some type of surgery and since my company has very limited insurance I switched to David's health insurance.  Unfortunately at David's last company they did not cover lap band, but luckily for me he got a new job and they DID/DO cover weight loss surgery!!!!  YAY for me!

Now I needed to figure out what surgery I wanted to have and who my surgeon was going to be.  I went to visit a few different surgeons and we discussed all of the different options.  In the end I decided that the Vertical Gastric Sleeve surgery was the best option for me and I found a FABULOUS doctor at the Medical Center of Plano (thanks to a recommendation from a friend!)  

The VSG procedure basically removes 85% of your stomach.  I know there are plenty of people who have very vocal opinions about how this is the "easy way out", but trust me - there was nothing about this surgery that was easy!  I went through a 3 month program through the Aetna insurance prior to having my surgery.  The 3 month program included seeing the doctor, seeing a nutritionist, a psychological evaluation, seeing my regular doctor, getting my blood pressure under control, etc...  At the end of the 3 months my request for surgery was submitted to Aetna and it was APPROVED!!!!!  Two weeks prior to my surgery I was to start a liquid only diet - water, protein shakes, sugar free jello, sugar free popsicles, but absolutely NO real food.  This was definitely the hardest 2 weeks of my life.  

On July 27, 2011, I went into the hospital and had the gastric sleeve surgery.  This is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life!  I was in the hospital for 2 days and when I came home I was on another 2 week liquid diet - but this liquid diet was so much easier because my stomach is now so much smaller.

Today my diet is very different than my pre-surgery diet (or lack of diet).  I no longer drink sodas!  Believe it or not giving up sodas was very easy for me!  I eat a lot less bread/carbohydrates that pre-surgery.  Typically I "eat" 3 meals a day - protein shake (EAS AdvantEdge) for breakfast, some type of protein for lunch (eggs with ham and cheese or left-over dinner from the night before) and then dinner is normally chicken or fish - I'll have a little bit of veggies, but my primary focus is always on protein.

As of today I have lost 56 pounds.  I still have "fat person" vision - meaning when I eat I normally put too much on my plate.  My stomach only holds about 3-5 ounces of food so I have to be careful to not make myself sick when I eat!  I also still see the "fat person" when I look in the mirror - I mean I KNOW I still have a lot of weight to lose, but it is still hard for me to see the progress!

Below are a couple of pics from September!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Travel Pet Peeves

David and I just returned from our FABULOUS vacation to Boston and I was once again faced with some of my travel pet peeves ... I don't have a lot, but I am passionate about them :)


Excuse me, sir, but you are not the only person waiting for your luggage.  Please do not crowd around the baggage claim carousel blocking every other person from seeing when their luggage arrives ... I mean seriously!  I hate baggage claim at DFW - as soon as people get off the plane they swarm around the baggage claim carousel - why?  To wait!  It's going to take at least 10 minutes to get your luggage, so relax and stand back and be courteous to other travelers!!!!  There is nothing worse than have to push and shove to get your way through to get your luggage IF you are lucky enough to SEE it!  I think they should have some type of perimeter around baggage claim preventing people from swarming - but that's just my opinion :-)  Luckily David was traveling with me this time so I let him fight the people!!!!

Number 2 Pet Peeve:  Human Stampede
It never ceases to amaze me how excited people are to cram into an airplane.  You get to the airport, get your boarding pass with a boarding zone and then wait for your zone to be called.  Inevitably as soon as they begin calling First Class everyone gets up and stands right in the middle of the boarding area.  Why are people so excited to stand up and block everyone else's way?  When your zone is called you have to figure out where the line is - if there is a line ... just so frustrating!!!

What about when you arrive at your destination and the plane parks at the gate?  The instant the plan stops people jump up and start getting their bags and personal belongings together without any thought to the people that area sitting around them.  Normally I am a little more understanding because I have flown with short layovers where you have to hurry to your next gate so you don't miss your flight, but when you arrive after midnight I am pretty sure that you aren't going to miss your connection because I am pretty sure your flight isn't leaving after midnight.  My favorite was when we arrived home after midnight on Monday night the lady from plenty of rows back shoved her way up to get off the plane a whole 6 people sooner.  I mean seriously?  Wait your turn, proper etiquette is to way for each row in front of you to deplane - I know you didn't have a connection!!!!

I'm just saying those are a couple of my pet peeves... do you have any traveling pet peeves?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SUCCESS at the End of a Long Journey

15 months ago I accepted the challenge of managing the AFPC (Air Force Personnel Center) project to move their on-premise RightNow solution to the DISA DECC (Defense Information Systems Agency Defense Enterprise Computer Center).  The original IMS (to this day I am embarrassed to say - I have no clue that IMS stands for - it's basically a government project plan) had a go-live date of May 2010.  Some of the work had already been completed, but there was plenty of work for us to still accomplish ... how much work?  at the time I would have never guessed the amount of work that RightNow Professional Services, Hosting, Customer Care, Sales, Helix and SecureForce would put into this project to achieve success.  Somewhere around 55 people have billed time to this project - that's an incredible number considering the biggest project that I had worked on before this was somewhere probably between 10 and 12 people!

January 2010 when I initially engaged on this project, myself and Brian arrived in San Antonio at AFPC.  We were escorted on-site by Amy, who had a CAC (Common Access Card) ... this meant we didn't have to wait in the line at the Visitor Center to get a pass to come on base - in the weeks ahead we would make many stops at the Visitor Center.  I believe Brian and John hold the record for the longest wait on a Monday morning - 3 hours to get a pass to be allowed on-site at AFPC.

The first two weeks Brian and I spent on-site we "drank from the fire hose" ... learning everything we could about the project allowing the previous project manager and program manager to roll off the project.  There were many briefings and, at that time, I never thought I would learn everything that I needed to know and be able to speak fluent AFPC and DISA.  With Brian's great leadership and support I was able to quickly begin speaking AFPC and DISA!!

Our first success came in March 2010 when we released a new website look and feel for the AFPC website. This accomplishment would allow us to begin focusing on the bigger task - migrating to DISA!  Once the AFPC website was live we began focusing on the bigger prize ahead:  DISA!!!!  Obviously we would not make the May date due to the fact we were just able to begin truly focusing on this goal until March.  Our new go-live goal was September 2010 and our final go-live goal was February 2011.

This week we finally achieve our success - AFPC is the first RightNow customer live on DISA!  We have officially broken glass!  The people (RightNow, Helix, AFPC) that I have worked with over the past 15 months have become family - we have made many personal sacrifices, worked many late nights and weekends.  There have been many highs and lows, but at the end of the day TOGETHER as a TEAM we have achieved SUCCESS.  The journey has been long but today I am immensely proud of what we have delivered.  One person alone could not have completed this journey successfully, but all of us together did achieve success.  I will miss working with everyone because each of you have been part of my family for the past year!

Tonight as we left our last team dinner I was thinking about memorable stories from our long journey together.  Unfortunately these stories were not documented, but I will jot down a couple that I do remember:

  • If you are having chest pains, please do not hesitate to go straight to the hospital!  Brian survived having  2 heart attacks on-site at AFPC, had successful surgery and was still able to participate in the AFPC go-live success
  • Never stick a thumb drive into an Air Force computer - if you do 3 big goons from security will arrive at your desk.
  • If you are ever in the area, visit Gruene Hall in Gruene, Texas.  It's Texas' oldest dance hall. 
  • The chicken fried steak at Lulu's in San Antonio is tons better than the 3 lb. cinnamon roll.  
  • The City of San Antonio will shut down completely after a dusting of 1/2 of snow/ice
  • Parking in 2 hour visitor parking will result in the issuance of a ticket 

This week my team was awarded with a Military Coin from the AFPC department we were working with.  I was more than honored to receive this gift.  This is not a gift to be taken lightly and this treasure will remind me of the journey my team ended this week.

Thank you to EVERYONE who contributed to this project!!!  It's been a long, tired journey, but we made it!!!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What happened to The Cosby Show?

A lot of people don't watch television, but growing up my parents were career parents so after eating dinner in the evening we would watch TV.  What shows do I remember watching?  Little House on the Prairie (oh, how I loved Laura Ingalls and hated Nellie Olsen!), The Cosby Show, re-runs of I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver ... I could go on and on!   These are the shows that my family watched - these shows were on TV pre-Parental Guidelines.  Parental Guidelines weren't needed in the 80's ... why?  Because we were watching shows like Little House on the Prairie and The Cosby Show!

Tonight as I sat in my hotel room I flipped channels until the TV landed on MTV, Teen Mom had just started.  I have never watched this show before, but since I was really only using the television as noise while I worked I left Teen Mom on the background.  I have seen many facebook and twitter posts about this show; however, I have never watched.  As I was working and "listening" I was appalled by the way this one teen mom spoke to her mother.  She said that she put her son (or was it a daughter?) to be every night before she went out so she didn't understand why her mom had an issue that she went out after her baby was in bed.  WTF?!  Later her and her mom got into an argument where she proceeded to scream, cuss, threaten to punch her mom in the face, spit in her mom's face and push her mom.  Seriously!?!  Then she had an issue when her mom served her with papers to get custody of her child.

I am not dense - I have been a teenager.  I know that teenagers will engage in pre-marital sex, drink, etc...  I was a teenager once (many moons ago!)  There are responsible actions a pregnant teenager can take ... when raising a child a teenager can get assistance and be responsible with the help of parents/family, etc...  There is adoption - there are PLENTY of families out there that can't have kids that would love to have a baby...  We should not glamorize these teenage moms to other young children!

My point?  why, Why, WHY? are we putting these shows on TV?  Why aren't we putting good wholesome shows on TV? What happened to The Cosby Show?  What happened to the Huxtables, what happened to the Ingalls, the Ricardos ... oh how I love vintage (if it's on Nick at Nite it's vintage, right?)