Time to Give Thanks

It's a bit early to be thinking of Thanksgiving being September and all, but I'm getting a jump start by giving thanks for the things that are making me happy today:

1. My Starbucks cold beverage cup from last Christmas:

I seriously use this every day (thanks, mom!). It's perfect for Pilates and Bar Class because I can take a quick sip of water without having to worry about twisting or untwisting a cap, and equally perfect for a protein smoothie on the go - or in the backyard : )

2. English chocolates from my hubby:

I love of course that he was thinking of me on his business trip, but I love, love, love the chocolates you can't find here in the U.S. like butter biscuit and cornflake.

3. Speaking of my hubby, I'm thankful to have him home for the next three nights in a row, and just plain thankful for him in general.

*Picture taken on our honeymoon, but he looks so cute it in I just had to post it.

4. The surprise Stargate Universe that was recorded on our DVR last night! I just saw it on the "recorded" list today! Yes, Max and I watch Stargate Universe. Yes, it's on the Syfy channel. Don't judge. We're not "with it" enough to be following the popular shows like this Glee. Anyway, it looks like the season has started back up again so we can resume our once weekly dinner upstairs in the theatre room while being nerds ; )


My Latest Obsession

A while back, I came across a reference to a 1989 NASA supported study on houseplants and their ability to filter air. NASA had conducted the study to determine ways of purifying air for extended stay on say, an International Space Station ; ) The results showed that houseplants are indeed a way to filter air (and that the results hold for offices and houses which all experience "indoor pollution") with certain plants being more effective than others.

I decided to look up the report on my own and found it posted here. An interesting fact I picked up: the amount of soil exposed to the air actually makes a difference in the chemicals filtered from the air. I just assumed that since the leaves are where the actual photosynthesis and oxygen release occur, those would be the only thing to consider. In the study, however, soil that was covered with leaves was less effective in filtering. The report suggests clipping leaves that are close to the soil to maximize exposure.

Also suggested is a number for a typical 2,000 square foot house: fifteen. Yes, fifteen houseplants. Which might be doable except that our house is 4,000 square feet which would require 30 houseplants to make the cut. Enter my newest obsession. Every time we're out and about, I just can't help picking up a new little addition to the house. Especially if they're on the "most effective" list like these Peace Lilies:

Or this Corn Plant:

And my little ZZ plants weren't on the list, but they're so green and shiny they won me over (plus they're advertised as being foolproof with little care needed - they can even go for months without being watered thanks to their below-soil tubers that store water):

So including our coconut palm we're up to six, which is nowhere close to the 30 we need. And the obsession continues.


Happy 30th Mom and Dad!

Today my sweet parents celebrate their 30th Wedding Anniversary!
Oh, happy day!


Table Time

Someone recently asked me how my painting was going and I was so excited to say: I'm on to furniture! I recently finished a piece for my fun room upstairs (with 5 bedrooms and no kids yet, I get a fun room for my easel and desk). It ended up being quite Barbie-esque, which is perfect for my Mande room!

Of course, my Barbie table will be patiently waiting downstairs in our (empty) formal living room until Max returns from England and can Hercules it up the stairs for me : )


Bi-Continental Indeed

You've heard of being bi-coastal? Those crazy people who split their lives between say, New York City and L.A.? Well, I just realized that my husband, who is now averaging one 1-2 week European business trip per month, can be described as bi-continental. Some months (like this one) he is actually on the other side of the Atlantic more days than he is here on this side. I honestly don't know how he does it. It took me the full suggested 8 days (one per every hour time difference) to recover when we got back from London (and that wasn't work - it was vacation!). By that time, my hubby was already on a plane back to England! He's completely amazing to me, and while of course I'd rather have him here (and am hoping that this bi-continental thing ends sooner rather than later), it makes me incredibly happy to see him doing so well at work. Yay, Dr. International!

French Polynesia Love

Neither Max nor I think that we'll ever visit a place that we love as much as we loved Bora Bora. For us, it was the perfect paradise - from the amazing turquoise water, to the breathtaking sea life to the beautiful tropical plants, we never wanted our honeymoon to end. So when we can get just a little bit of Bora Bora here in Scottsdale, we eat it right up. First were the bougainvilleas that we (well, mostly me) adored on the island:

...that we later found in the backyard of our rental house! They're actually all over the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and we have several bushes at the new house, too! They are the perfect color of pink:

Most recently, Max and I found this little cutie on a random trip to Lowes:

It's a coconut palm! Similar to this one that Max spotted growing in the Bora Bora sand:

We're hoping that we can keep it alive as it's not a typical house plant. I read that potted palms won't ever produce coconuts, but as they're my favorite treat, I'm doing some wishful thinking : )

It's Fall, Y'all!

I love this time of year when all of the "seasonal" items come out: butternut squash ravioli at Costco, Thanksgiving blend coffee beans at Starbucks, Pumpkin Ale at the grocery store and most of all I'm counting the days until I get my first bite of Greenberg Smoked Turkey made into heavenly turkey pâté. I've been dreaming about it since last holiday season. Happy autumn, all!

A Sad Weekend for the Elis Manning

If you watched the "Manning Bowl" on Sunday night (Colts v. Giants, Game 2), you'll know that at halftime, poor Eli had only passed successfully for 17 yards while big brother Peyton had already passed for well over 100. At one point the score was 38-7 with Eli's Giants just being crushed by Peyton's Colts, and the game ended 38-14 (enough of a difference to make Peyton feel so badly that he declined his usual post-game interview).

It was a sad weekend in the Klein household as well. We had known for some time that the life expectancy of a blowfish was 5-10 years, and our own little Eli Manning the puffer was around seven (I say "around" as Max purchased him back in 2004 when Eli was at least one year old, making Eli at least seven and probably older). Eli's health had been on the decline for the last few months, and he had recently lost his vision. This meant we had to hand-feed him his krill, which just broke my heart because in his glory days, Eli just loved chasing after live fish for a yummy meal. I knew that it was only a matter of time, but that didn't make it any less painful when Max found me on Saturday evening and said that Eli had died : ( To most people, a fish hardly counts as a pet, and I actually agree for most types of fish. Our clownfish doesn't even have a name. We refer to him as "the clown." And as stated above, we fed other fish to Eli. Not to mention the fact that Max and I also eat fish, although I always felt guilty while cooking fish with Eli and Princess so close to the stove. Our little puffers, though, had little personalities! They would get super happy when they saw their food cup and start swimming excitedly, and Princess even squirts water at us to get our attention. When we moved Max from Palo Alto to Phoenix, Eli and Princess made the nine hour move in their little orange saltwater filled bucket (that Max had rigged with some water conditioner and a filter) because we couldn't bear the thought of giving them up. Then they of course made the 15 minute drive to our new house, so for as long as Max and I have been living together, we've had our "kids" in the house, too. To lose Eli was so very sad. Luckily I have a husband who is always so supportive and even agreed to hold a little burial in the backyard for Eli (this is when the .84 acre comes in handy).

Breakfast for Dinner!

There are few things more cozy and wonderful than eating breakfast for dinner. It's right up there with staying inside and wearing pajamas while it's raining during the day. I found the perfect recipe for a "breakfast for dinner" - not too sweet and substantial enough to feed my 6 foot tall of a man. The best part is that it's super fun to make - as in I'm already looking for another excuse to make one!

Breakfast Braid

Refrigerated pizza crust dough
*(I either make this from scratch or pick it up from the pizza counter at Whole Foods)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 - 1/2 lb. sausage (I like to get the sweet applewood pork sausage but anything will do)
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
(I accidently used a serrano pepper the first time I made this and it was almost too hot to eat - oops!)
1 large egg white lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 425°

2. Unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Pat into a 15x10 inch rectangle.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sausage; cook 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in eggs and cook 1 1/2 minutes or until set. Remove from heat.

4. Sprinkle Monterey Jack lengthwise down center of dough, leaving a 2 1/2 inch border on each side. Spoon egg mixture evenly over cheese. Sprinkle cheddar over egg mixture and top with jalapeño pepper.

5. Make 2-inch-long diagonal cuts about an inch apart on both sides of the dough to within a 1/2 inch of the filling (I like to use kitchen shears for this).

6. (The best part! So much fun!) Arrange strips over filling, alternating strips diagonally. Press ends under to seal and brush with egg white.

7. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Let stand for 5 minutes and then cut crosswise into slices. I like to serve the braid with fruit- the sweet and savory combination is just perfect. Bon appétit!

Cheerio, Mate!

Last week I was able to fly out to meet Max who was in England on his fourth business trip to the country since May. I was super excited to travel to Europe for the first time and of course to be seeing my husband who had already been away for a week. My excitement was even evident to the ticket agent who helped me check in for my flight in Phoenix who commented "excited, eh?" in his very British accent. British Airways flies directly from Phoenix to London, which was fantastic, and after one ten hour flight, one 15 minute train ride, and a trip on the "tube" (subway) I popped up in the Westminster area of the city and right outside our hotel. Max was supposed to be meeting me that night so imagine my surprise when I started riding the escalator up to check-in and turned to see my husband right next to me taking the stairs up! I was so surprised I almost fell down the escalator and so happy that I started squealing and clapping and being an all-around silly American.

Max took some time off from work so we could have a proper "holiday" and enjoy the city. Of course spending time together was the best gift, but we had a fantastic time exploring the sights, the people, the restaurants and the history of London...

What a hot bloke I'm married to! Enjoying a Nutella crepe from a street vendor on the South Bank of the River Thames:


Parliament and Big Ben:

Traditional fish and chips and English cider for me:

Buckingham Palace:

Double decker buses:

Enjoying a little street cafe:

A bit frightened to be so close to the Cavalry guard:

On the steps of the National Gallery:

Apollo Victoria Theatre in the West End:

Shopping at Harrods (the £10 Christmas ornaments are in the bag since we couldn't afford the £80,000 chandeliers):

South Kensington underground:

Loved our hotel room - we could see Big Ben from the window:

Our dear friends Tim and Marie-Amelie who live in London and took us to a lovely dinner in Westminster:

Tube stop at Tower Hill meeting Marie-Amelie for afternoon tea (notice the blue sky - we were lucky and had a couple days of nice warm weather) :

Cappuccino yumminess:

St. James Park with Buckingham Palace in the background:

St. James park:

Westminster Abbey:

Tower of London where we saw the Crown Jewels:

Tower Bridge:

Hyde Park:

Kensington Palace:

What fun memories of a special trip!
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