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January 29, 2010

Weekend Links!

I started the Weekend Links portion of the blog because I really like highlighting and sharing things that I find interesting, funny, or important. Instead of emailing five hundred links to all my friends during the week I just cumulatively collect them and post them at the end of the week. If you think it looks interesting, you can click on it - or not.  But there is one link this week I want everybody to click on HERE.  The blog For the Love wrote a piece this week on her friend who has been missing for four years and they still do not know what happened to her.  Click on the link, read her story, and remember her face. If you know anything that can help aid in finding Jennifer Kesse call the number provided. I don't know what it is like to have a friend abducted, but I do know what its like to lose a friend suddenly without getting the chance to say goodbye so this post hit very close to my heart. Social networking like blogs and facebook and twitter has a lot of power to stop these type of things so I think it is important to always pass on the message.

Now on to some non-important things.

- I am thinking about getting these puppy tags for Kadira and Toby.  But instead of using their names I am going to inscribe them with their nicknames "Golden Child" and "Mistake (but we still love her)." (Pioneer Women).

- When I get around to doing my gallery wall I want it to look like THIS. (Melissa Jill Photography).

- Over on that other blog I do Maggie posted a great video of Johnny Weir dancing to Lady Ga Ga's Pokerface.  It is fabulous, you must go check it out. (Seven Dames a Week).

- I have you voted yet for the 2010 Bloggies? I have my ballot in! (2010 Webblog Awards).

Alright, so today's Video of the Week was something that I just found and it is so adorable I just couldn't resist posting it. We all know I am a little obsessed with Oprah Winfrey...but put Oprah and puppies together and I'm on cloud nine. Mom, want to go searching for your shelter puppy during my visit this week?


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Book 2: Freakonomics

Don't read this book...

...unless you don't want to have it BLOW YOUR MIND.

Perhaps I am being a tad over dramatic, but seriously, this book was fascinating. Dan got this book for Christmas, but doesn't have a ton of time to read right now so it has been sitting on his nightstand for weeks.  Me on the other hand? I have plenty of time to read.  I have been reading a lot of fluffy chick lit recently and decided that I needed to switch to something a little more substantive and academic.  Get the mind whirling again, ya know?  This was a great choice.  Essentially, this book looks at convenient truths held in today's society and dissects them from an economist viewpoint.  Some of things the authors discuss include:

-Why people cheat, including teachers in inner city Chicago and sumo wrestlers in Japan.
-The demise of the Klu Klux Klan and why real estate agents will cause you to lose $10,000 in the sale of your house.
-Why drugs cost so much, but drug dealers still live with their Mom.
-How the drop in crime in the 1990's was really due to the decision in Roe v. Wade.
-The type of person your child is going to be is determined before they are being even, and it doesn't matter what you name them.

There were certainly some aspects of this book that I disagreed with, but at the same time I enjoyed the knowledge. I enjoyed the argument. It was really interesting and I highly suggest it to anybody. Yet be forewarned, this book will cause you to be annoying.  For the last two weeks that I have been reading it I walk around talking about it constantly, and I have even cited it in some blog comments on your blogs (you know who you are...and I am sorry about that). It was just. so. interesting. 

(Read this review and more on goodreads.com, my username is duolynoted.)

Check back later this afternoon for weekend links! 

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January 28, 2010

The Birds, Pt. II



Its pouring rain here in the great state of Texas (do you like how I lump all of Texas in where I live? Its like no other region of Texas exists except where I am...) and true to form it is being met with some monster thunder. While driving home I literally thought the thunder was dropping on top of my car as it would shake every time the clouds decided to open up.  Apparently the whole thing really freaked the birds out too because while stopped at a stop light hundreds of birds sat on top of the telephone lines frantically spraying up into the air every time the thunder hit.  It was the craziest sight to behold as the crazy birds stretched down the power lines as far as the eye could see. I took this picture with my phone, but it still does not capture the absolutely lunacy of the view. I felt like I was a character cast in this movie:



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January 26, 2010

Spring and Summer Trends I Am Love'in

Before I start buying clothes and accessories I like to do some research on the fashion trends for the upcoming year. It does not mean that I will buy then (here's looking at you rompers), but it is nice to be aware of the signature pieces and styles that I might want to include in my wardrobe.  While I cannot afford half of this stuff (some pieces I didn't even include the price, it was too painful) what I CAN do is look for pieces in stores that I can afford that are similar. Here are some of the following trends I noticed for the upcoming Spring and Summer 2010. I don't love them all...but some are pretty cute.



JCrew - $12.50



  Victoria Secret - $88



Nordstrom - $48



Valentino- you don't want to know how much this costs
(Image via People.com)



Seven for All Mankind - $198



Green Based Eye Shadows
MAC - $19.50

 

Neiman Marcus - $990
(Designer Jason Wu)

 

Bloomingdales - $350



Rihanna in Marchasa with a $ you don't want to know
(Photo via Zimbio.com)



Peyton Coach Shoulder Bag - $498

So what you do you all think? What do you love? What do you hate? Are there any big trends I am missing? 

Useful Links:

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January 24, 2010

Sunday Post



In my Sunday post "My First Bachlorette Pad" over on Seven Dames a Week you will get a rare look into my pathetic existence during my first year of law school, and also explanation on why it was all worth it.

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January 22, 2010

Cowboy Calzones and Weekend Links



So good news. I have completed my second recipe in hopes of completing my New Years Resolution to cook 24 new recipes in 2010, so two recipes a month.  First was the potato skins for the National Championship game.  This week was Cowboy Calzones via...oh you already know.  Dan said he has never bought me a gift that reaped such consistent rewards. This was a more complex recipe then I normally make so I was pretty proud of myself.



Here's my adapted version of the recipe with comment...

INGREDIENTS for the CRUST are as follows:
- 1/2 packet of active dry yeast
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 1/2 cups warm water

DIRECTIONS for the CRUST:
1. Pour water into bowl and sprinkle yeast over water
2. Combine flour and salt in another bowl
3. Drizzle in olive oil to flour mixture while slowly mixing by hand or with mixture
4. Gently stir yeast and water mixture to ensure it is dissolved
5. Drizzle yeast mixture into flour mixture while constantly stirring. Keep mixing until dough forms a ball.
6. In a clean bowl put a little bit of EVOO in the bottom and roll the ball in it until its covered.
7. Set out in the bowl for the next few hours to rise or place in fridge if its going to be more then 2 hours. 

INGREDIENTS for the FILLING:
- 1/2 pound of breakfast sausage, cut up into little bits
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 diced onion
- 1 8 ounce can of tomatoes and chilies
- 8 ounces of whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (next time I would up this to a cup)
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (next time I would up this to a cup)
- 1 beaton egg
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- EVOO for brushing 

DIRECTIONS for FILLING:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Brown onion, hamburger, and onion over medium heat and drain grease.
3. Add tomatoes and chilis and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. In a separate bowl mix ricotta, mozzarella Monterey Jack, egg, and salt and pepper.
5. Add the meat mixture to the cheese and and combine gently.
6. Divide the previously made crust dough into 8 balls and roll into 6 inch circles
7. Place 1/8 of mixture int the middle of each circle (Note that I found that I had WAY more mixture then would fit inside the calzones.)
8. Fold calzone in half and press a fork around the sides to seal.
9. Place on baking sheet and cook for 12-15 minutes



The result? Just okay...we both decided it wasn't our favorite Pioneer Women recipe but it wasn't bad. The filling is TO DIE FOR.  Seriously.  So good.  But the crust was a little hard?  I wondered if I made it wrong but I don't think that I did because it also doubles for her pizza crust recipe and it definitely tastes like homemade pizza crust. I am on the lookout for a softer, chewier crust to use with the same filling. Any suggestions?

Now on to your Weekend Links!

There are not a ton this week...but the ones I do have are quality.

-Who invests in coasters these days? Okay well probably people who have furniture worthy of coasters, BUT WHEN THAT DAY COMES FOR ME I will be prepared with these cute coaster that might be my next project after this damn blanket gets finished. (EAD Living).

-Adorable. (Cute Overload). 

-Rachel over at In No Simple Language is collecting box tops for her school, head on over to her website and check out how yo can donate. Its a worthy cause and as simple as ripping off the top of your cereal box.

-Never Without is doing a really great series on the silhouette wall that she is creating.

-I love to put all the pictures we get from family and friends all over our fridge, but recently we found ourselves in a huge magnet shortage. Thus this tutorial on DIY magnets by The Freckled Citizen couldn't have come at a better time! (EAD).

-I am lov'in the new song by Katy Perry and Timbaland called If We Ever Meet Again.

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND EVERYBODY!

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January 20, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along?

When we first decided to get a German Shepard I was really, really nervous about how Toby and Kadira would get along. My fears weren't entirely unjustified. Kadira has never been mean or aggressive towards Toby, but she certainly plays rough. TOO ROUGH, and Toby does not like it. The last eight months of my life have consisted of Toby manically barking at Kadira and Kadira attempting to break loose so that she can tag the back of Toby's neck. When we do get them to play nice Toby is greeted with a giant WOMP of Kadira's forepaw smacking him in the face. To be honest, if I were Toby I would not like Kadira much either.

But recently there has been a huge dynamic shift in our house that I have to share. I'm going to pause for a moment so that you can now ridicule the fact that I once again videotaped my dogs like they were children....I'm waiting....no seriously go ahead.....are we done? Okay cool. So recently when I get Kadira out of her crate in the morning Toby is anxiously waiting so say hello. While the rest of the day is filled angry barking, the morning consists of the following greeting which, quite frankly, is adorable.

(Please note that these videos were taken with my ipod, which explains their low quality as well as my finger making an appearance throughout.)

First, Kadira approaches Toby and the way Toby reacts is truly unprecedented. Please ignore the unmade bed.



Now watch the manner in which Kadira gets Toby to come say hi. Adorable.



I am not going to lie, if these two can get along it gives me hope for world peace.

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Wednesday To-Do



Today is my day off. I have a lot of important things to do, as you can see by my very intense to-do list. Primarily watch the four hours of "The Bachelor" that I missed. Which, lets be honest, I put that on my to-do list to make myself feel productive when I inevitably crossed it off.

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January 19, 2010

Lust

Lust is never a good thing, and recently I have been lusting after lots of things that I cannot afford thanks to a $650 heating bill. Sigh. So instead I will post the objects of my affection to my blog in order to torment myself more while I freeze in a house with no heat (because we turned it off). Sighsighsighsigh.



"Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert



"Game Change" by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin



Stretch Jersey Short Robe by Gap $39.50



Pave Heart Ring- Coach $58



(Okay probably not the shoes...but I do need new running shoes)



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January 17, 2010

Monster Cookies via Playing House



It has been a sleepy Sunday around these parts. All of Dallas watched the playoff game so Dan insisted that we do the same.  Not really caring, I let Kadira and Dan fall asleep in front of the television and proceeded to attempt a new cookie receipe.  Yesterday I was in the mood to bake, so I looked up Amy's recipe over at Playing House for Monster Cookies and ran to the store to get all the ingredients.  These, ladies and gentlemen, are one hell of a cookie.



I love baking cookies, before this year it is really the only thing I ever enjoyed making.  Dan's not a big cookie eater though, and since I hate having them in the house BECAUSE I EAT THEM my cookie baking has tapered off.  This being said, Dan claims that he LOVES these.  He's already eaten four and they aren't even done cooling. Yet be warned, despite the fact that Amy is very clear in her instructions that they make SIX DOZEN COOKIES, I could not believe how many cookies I ended up making.  Needless to say a box will created for Dan to share at work tomorrow since there is no way that we can eat them all. Amy does mention that you can half the recipe to make less. 



Yum! Since I followed the recipe exactly you can get it over at PLAYING HOUSE.

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Sunday Post

Head on over to Seven Dames a Week to read my Sunday Post "5 Things in a Lifetime."

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January 15, 2010

Electric Bill Woes and Weekend Links

Wow, remember when I did not blog all week?

It has been one of those weeks. The worst of which was a $650 heating bill for December. Is that even possible? For the record, the house was kept between 60-65 degrees the entire month. And all the vents are closed upstairs. Any idea why this happened? Has anybody else had bad experiences with Reliant Electric? Is there anything we can do? Does anybody want to buy a German Shepard for $650? I'm kidding, kind of.

At any right, it is Friday so you know what that means- weekend links! My google reader is severely backed up from this week, but I still have some fabulous links to share.

-I really envy people who are able to use their creativity to produce things of beauty. I've been reading My Life in Transition for awhile now, mostly because this women's creative expression is inspiring.  Can I just say that this mobile is TO DIE FOR? And the family letter montage? Brilliant. If you have a child, are going to have a child, or want to create a gift for a child you must read THIS post.

-Dan's favorite cake is German Chocolate...and I just like cake period.  I  normally make it out of a box...but perhaps I will give this homemade German Chocolate Cake recipe a try? (Playing House).  

-Despite the fact that we ate potatoes all week WE STILL HAVE MORE. Note to self, just because it is the cheapest option DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO BUY 500 POTATOES YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH.  That being said, here's another potato recipe I am considering trying...."Perfect Potatoes au Gratin" (Pioneer Women).

-I have two really great posts I would like to highlight from Amelia Lyons Photography Blog. First, do you ever wish you were a complete and total badass? I do. Which is why THIS wedding was absolutely amazing. And definitely check out her ring! Second, they did a great montage of their favorite ring shots from 2009. Check it out HERE, its really fun.

-Okay, this  one is a little late, but SHUT UP TAMERA'S HUSBAND FROM THE OC HOUSEWIVES FILED FOR DIVORCE. Kind of spoils the season a bit, huh? (Perez Hilton).  PS Who is everybody's favorite OC Housewife? I think mine is Vicki.

-Corporette did a fabulous run down of their top posts for 2009. A must read for all you fashionably fabulous corporate women out there.

-THESE DIY curtains from Rebekah via EAD Living are SO CUTE.

-I can not stop listening to THIS song today. Honestly, its been on repeat for about 100 cycles.



Now for the video of the week, watch Kelly Clarkson fire her guitarist ON STAGE after he goes rogue during her show. Don't mess with Texas I guess.  Its from 2005, but still hilarious. (Via Perez Hilton).

Have a great weekend everybody! (and don't forget to follow me on twitter @duolynoted.)

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January 12, 2010

Holy Jeans and More Potatoes Please!

I am about to embark on an adventure of epic proportions. Where my strength and self esteem will be tested. An adventure where I will be tempted to settle for less then the best, and endure, er, pay more then what I bargained for.

Yes ladies and gentlemen...I am going jean shopping.

A few years ago I hit the proverbial jean jackpot. I was in the right store at the right time when they had a massive Sevens sale and I bought three pair. That mixed with the four pairs of jeans I already owned had me set for awhile. Since I hate jean shopping, I have not bought another pair of jeans since.

Sadly about a week ago I was putting on my favorite pair and I noticed a hole...an unfixable hole.  (I mean I guess for me an unfixable hole means I don't live with my mother anymore thus nobody can fix it, but whatever.)  We all know that feeling, right ladies? When your favorite pair of jeans dies and untimely death?  It was devastating. I cried for days.  Okay I'm totally kidding I did not really cry, but the creation of the hole did have me step back and take a look at my current jean inventory. With the death of my favorite I now own only three pairs, having given some away to charity after determining they made my feel fat.  The left over three are pretty shoddy, lacking shape, color, and most importantly suffering from saggy butt syndrome and frayed bottoms.

So off I went during my lunch yesterday to do some jean shopping. My goal? To find a structured pair of jeans in a dark color that fits me like a glove and does not cost an arm and a leg.  About 8 months ago I found a pair I loved at Express, but made the epic mistake of not buying them. Upon returning to the store yesterday I could not find the same style.

Thus, I am at an impasse.  So I thought I would ask all of you before I embark on what is likely going to make me depressed for a good solid week- what is your FAVORITE pair of jeans? Is there a brand you just LOVE? A wash you can't live without? A style that is perfection? A store that carries the best?

I am really dreading this whole experience so I figured if I could just focus on the right stores I might have better luck.



In other news, upon buying the necessary materials for the potato skins last week I managed to buy way too many potatoes. Not really knowing what I was going to do with them I left them in the upper part of our cabinets where they were sure to die a slow, rotting death. Yet true to form Dan came to the rescue and made the most amazing twice baked potatoes via the Pioneer Women last night.



Dan is a little uneasy with cooking her recipes because, as he says, "they are for the pioneer WOMEN not the pioneer MAN." Thus he likes to cook them "the manly way" which really just means he uses his bare hands to hold the hot potatoes while slicing, causing little manly blisters to form on his fingertips shortly thereafter.

Now I must say, with this recipe in particular, we are lucky we did not die on the spot of clogged arteries to the heart as these bad boys are SO not good for you. But oh they are kind of like eating a little slice of heaven! I am sure the added inch they brought to my waistline is going to be super great while jean shopping.

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January 10, 2010

Book 1: Cocktails For Three by Madeleine Wickham (Sophie Kinsella)


First let me just say- THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! So please don't read my review unless you have read the book or are not planning on reading it. Second, this is the same review I posted on goodreads.com so no need to read it again if we are already friends. Third, if we are not friends come find me! My username is duolynoted.

For me, "Cocktails for Three" was just okay. One of those books where I would say "that was a nice read," but its not compelling, its not a page turner. It is just...nice.

The characters are all very dichotomous, which is nice (this word is going to be used a lot to describe this book...), but the fatal flaw of having a book that has three separate characters is that you inherently run the risk of not being able to develop each in a manner that makes it possible to sympathize with each of their fatal flaws. Which I think happened in this book. While I enjoyed the foils of their friendship, I found each of their stories rather lackluster.

First you have Candice. I didn't like Candice from the start. I don't know if it was because she was so obviously a wambly tambly sham bucket or because I just wanted to scream "seriously?!?" at her five million times. I mean I don't know about you, but who SERIOUSLY gives up their master bedroom to a girl who is paying no rent. I mean father ruining her life aside, bitch can get her own place. Plus the romance with Ed was so predictable but at the same time so unromantic that I just could not get into it.

Then you have Roxanne, whose having an affair with Ralph, who is supposed to be this strong and independent vixon- but can't manage to get away from the man she has been having an affair with for SIX YEARS. Okay, whatever, I get it, and I get her (or least I thought her character was developed enough for me to get her) but I never like the girl who is having an affair. She is always my least favorite (except if you are the heroine in "Something Borrowed"...) thus I kept waiting for her take that amazing job offer in Cyprus. Because who would turn that down? But Ralph dying...I did not see that one coming.

Then there was Maggie, who was my favorite, and I have no idea why. I rarely enjoy the child bearing women in books I read (as I have no children, thus I cannot relate) but there was something about her that I really connected with. Perhaps it was her reaction to having children, which I think would be similar to my own. Wanting to be the best at taking care of your kid but knowing that you needed your own career to be fully satisfied. That being said, when she finally admitted her faults I felt like her life fell into place to easily- which I found unrealistic. Life with a baby is never that easy.

But the part of the book I disliked the most was at the end when they BAPTIZED MAGGIE'S BABY WITH A COCKTAIL. I mean do not get me wrong, I like a cocktail as much as the next person but NEVER, EVER will I baptize my baby in them.

Fun read, wouldn't necessarily recommend, but wouldn't necessarily dissuade anybody from reading either.

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Sunday Post

Head on over to Seven Dames a Week to read my Sunday post "What's In a Name." In this post I will cover the top ten baby names of 2009 and explain why Melissa is the new Gertrude...

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January 8, 2010

Potato Skins



For weeks Dan has been asking me to make Potato Skins from The Pioneer Women Cooks, but I kept putting it off because I don't really love potato skins and, ya know, if I am going to put forth the effort I might as well make sure I want to eat it too, right?  However, last night was the National Championship Game and I thought I'd put on my super cool wife hat and give them a try just to be festive.  Plus I have that pesky New Years Resolution to try 24 new recipes. 1 down! 23 to go!

Good news! They are super easy to make and really yummy! Bad news, mine did not contain the required green onions.  You see, I have never cooked with green onions so I did not know what they looked like.  Upon entering the fruits and vegetable section of my local grocery store I was attacked by a "helpful" employee wanting me to try the cherries. Seriously, the dude would not stop talking about the dumb cherries and getting me free samples even though I don't even like cherries and I told him that. It took me ten minutes to get the guy to stop harassing me and when I realized I could not find the green onions I was not about to ask him for his help and have him get all yappy again. Hence, no green onions on my potato skins, but for future reference they look like this:



Here's my adapted version of Rea's recipe since I could not find it on her website for some linkage.  Not going to lie...my version is going to contain a lot more cheese and bacon then her's... :)

INGREDIENTS: 

1. 8 to 12 slices of thick cut bacon
2. 8 russet potatoes, scrubbed clean, raised in Idaho (obviously)
3. Canola oil or something similar
4. Kosher salt
5. 1 1/2 - 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
6. 1 cup sour cream
7. 4 green onions, sliced. Assuming you can find them.

DIRECTIONS: 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Scrub potatoes clean, rub the skin with canola oil, bake for 45 minutes.

3. In the meantime fry up the bacon and cut into little pieces.

4. Grate cheese.

5. I am sure at this point you would slice up the green onions into little pieces.

6. Take potatoes out, let cool for about five minutes, otherwise you will squish one while trying to cut them and swear really loud.

7. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise with a really sharp knife as to avoid squooshing. Scoop out inner flesh leaving only a little of the potato in the skin.

8. Brush both sides of the potato with canola oil.

9. Place the skins cut side down in the pan, bake for 7 more minutes (to get them crispy). Flip to other side, bake for 7 more minutes.

10. Remove from oven and fill the skins with cheese and bacon bits. Put back in the oven to melt cheese.

11. Remove from oven and put on onions and and sour cream to taste right before serving.

 12. Win Best Wife Ever Award.

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January 6, 2010

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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Remember when you were a child and on your birthday you got to pick what your Mom fixed for dinner? Well, in our house the answer for every single kid was easy, "Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup!" It is a family classic and my mother graciously agreed to let me share it with all of you. Thanks Mom!

I should note that what makes the recipe so great is that the noodles are homemade, but no, not with a fancy pasta maker all you Kitchen-Aid mixer snobs (I say this, my eyes red with jealously, as I am the ONLY GIRL IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE WHO DID NOT GET A KITCHEN AID MIXER FOR HER WEDDING.  Never fear, I have faith that I will win one from Pioneer Women one of these days...) So here is the old school way to make homemade noodles, and it does not disappoint.

INGREDIENTS: 
-3 eggs
-6 tbs. milk
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-3 cups all purpose flour
-1 big can of chicken broth
-1 regular sized can of cream of chicken soup
-3 or 4 chicken breasts 





DIRECTIONS: 

1. In a mixing bowl combine 1 beaton egg, 2 tbs. milk, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Stir in 1 cup of all purpose flour a little at a time until you have made a stiff dough. Set aside for ten minutes.

2. Repeat step 1 two more times so that you have three different sets of dough. Do not triple the receipe.

3. Roll dough and let stand for about 20 minutes. Cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Let dry on rack for two hours.

4. Boil chicken for about 20 minutes in hot water. Remove and shred.

5. Place chicken and noodles in a large pot containing the large can of broth with a can of cream of chicken soup. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15-20 minutes.



YUM! Easy and homemade delight!
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