Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goals.

Year end review of previously set goals before I get around to posting my goals for 2011. Some of these that I didn't do so well on may not make on to my goals for 2011 - if I couldn't accomplish them at all in the time I posted them, clearly they aren't important enough to me.

Goal #1: Get my house clean, organized and to stay tidy every day.

Progress:

Original Status: So far, so good. I started this the middle of last week. I assigned myself specific areas to clean every day and so far I've stuck to it. I also made a mini-goal of keeping the rooms I've already clean tidy for the rest of the week so when I get back to that room next week, there isn't as much to do.

October Update: Failure and success at the same time. I've since abandoned my prior method of keeping the house up and recently have started this Operation Purge & Simplify. So far the master bath and bedroom look pretty amazing and I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff. Ben's room always stays clean, as I help him pick up his toys in there several times a day. Our kitchen/dining room usually look like a war zone, as our island tends to be a dumping ground for just whatever. I'm working on it! :-) Less stuff = less to clean up!

December Update: Meh. It's hit and miss. I'll clean like crazy and keep up with it for a while and then slowly but surely it all is awful. I have some ideas on how to better keep up with it for next year. We'll see!

Goal #2: Try something new every month.

Original Update: This month is full of new things. We already took Ben on his first camping trip which was an overall success. Next up for this month are going to a concert with some girlfriends.

October Update: Awesomely! Our summer has been pretty busy and we're doing lots of fun stuff! I had forgotten this was a goal but I'm glad to know I've been keeping up with it! Ha!

December Update: Poo. Money blows. I'm not creative enough to come up with free stuff to do, so we haven't been doing much.

Goal #3: Make baby food myself.

Original Update: Awesome! I've made applesauce and carrots so far. As soon as he runs out of the boxed rice cereal I already bought, I'm going to make my own brown rice cereal.

October Update: Well. Again on this one is both success and failure. I made all that food listed above and he wouldn't eat it. He gagged on the applesauce (I think it was too chunky for him then) and refused to eat the carrots, so I went back to using the jarred stuff. Recently, as he's been eating more table food and less jarred stuff, I've been whipping up some things of my own. I made my own peach applesauce (I used some store bought, sugar free applesauce and then defrosted a few frozen peaches and blended it together) that he seems to like, along with some other things. I'm hoping that by the end of the month I've used up all the jarred stuff I have and don't need to buy any more.

December Update: Great! Ben doesn't eat anything from a jar any more - yahoo! Feeding is an adventure. Some times I have to offer him 3 different things before I feel he gets enough to eat for a meal, but we're getting there :)

Goal #4: Clean out the clutter & live more simply.

Original Update: Just started. I've gone through some of my stuff and boxed up the nicer stuff to share with Susan. The rest I'll donate

October Update: AWESOMELY!!! I have gotten rid of SO much stuff just this week and I feel SO good about it! Usually I have regrets about throwing something about like the instant it hits the trash can but not this time! I'm being ruthless and 100% honest with myself. There is no point in holding on to clothes that I simply do not wear for one reason or the other. It's not all stuff that doesn't quite fit, it's just stuff I don't wear and have to dig through to find the things I DO wear. Our bedroom is all clean and on my way to a goal I posted outside of this and that was to redo our bedroom. It's getting there!

December Update: Still pretty awesome. I even held back at Christmas (that was more "I have to" than "I want to") and several family members were treated to hand made gifties from me this year (and I really think they went over well). I'm still working to declutter my physical things (the Youth Ranch has GOT to be loving me) and made some moolah off Craigslist.

Goal #5: Spend less, save more.

Original Update: Haven't started. July is the month. We're going to try going Monday - Thursday of each week without spending any money. I've made a list of our most commonly bought grocery items to stock up on at Costco and see if I can't reduce our shopping from every week to twice a month. The last week of the month we're going to eat strictly out of our pantry to use up any straggling items so they don't carry over to the next month for infinity and beyond.

October Update: Oh super major fail. This is a constant work in progress that I'm not sure we'll ever achieve. Nick and I have no self control and we suck for each other in this department. He gets paid, we spend money stupidly, then we're broke until next payday. That payday rolls around and we spend stupidly again, excited to have money again to spend....and repeat. It's a vicious cycle. I'm trying to break it (because one of us needs to step up and be the money Nazi) so we'll see......

December Update: Well, I'm spending less that's for dang sure. How come it works on paper but very rarely IRL? I have plans for the saving for 2011, though!

Goal #6: Tackle some of those "I'd love to do ______" projects.

Original Update: Haven't started. We need to plan exactly what it is we want to do (travel to Ireland, travel to Florida, remodel our bathroom, plant a edible garden, etc) and do an honest cost approach for each and start SAVING. Then our dreams can become realities.

October Update: FAIL. See above. And honestly, I'd forgotten about this one too. Something to work towards until my next goal update!!

December Update: Still hasn't happened....maybe next year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas.

Well I realized that I didn't blog about our Christmas 2 day extravaganza. Friday afternoon we loaded up and headed over to my mom's for our family gift exchange. There was an incredible amount of presents to be opened:

the insane amount of gifts - we do this every year (and by "we" I mean my mom ha ha)

It was chaotic and a bit frenzied and a little overwhelming for Ben & I. He again, didn't really seem interested in ripping the paper off his presents. I wonder if he might have been, had the setting been a bit more calm. As it was, he did have fun playing in the shreds of paper left in his cousins' wake and crawling off to play with their new toys.
Hannah, Emma, Ben & Connor
A good time was had by all and we took home a nice haul. Nick got the best present of all, which was completely wacky and weird but so totally appreciated and needed. My parents got him a pillow (at my suggestion). I had warned him ahead of time that he'd be getting a present that would make him scratch his head and make a "what the heck" face but that he'd really love. And I was right. I buy the cheapo pillows from Walmart and he is forever complaining that they suck. Nick bunches his pillows up and before too long, the batting is all lumpy and uncomfortable. So I told my mom he'd love a nice quality pillow. And he does. ;)

Christmas morning, Ben crawled off to the Christmas tree to see what Santa left him. He found a caterpillar tunnel, an airplane, a house and a teddy bear waiting under the tree.
Off to see Santa presents
The house pretty much stole the show, but he does love his tunnel. He played with the airplane for a bit and didn't even look at the teddy bear (whatevs, Ben).
He loves this toy from his Florida aunt & uncle
Christmas Day afternoon we headed back over to my mom's house for dinner and the gift exchange with my grandma, who didn't want to come out Christmas Eve. Ben spent lots of time playing with his cousins and being carted around by Emma. It's a good thing he likes her!
Cousin snugs on Christmas day
Nick's been out of school this week and last and it's been so nice having him home. Sunday we watched the Packers beat the Jets quite nicely (look at me, becoming a freaking football fan in spite of myself... sigh) and helped my parents eat some of their leftovers. Monday morning my mom went in to the hospital because she was feeling pretty badly. She's still there and might get to come home today. She had some internal bleeding, which she had scoped and it looks like the cause might be one of her arthritis pills, so they're taking her off that and hopefully the situation clears up. She was low on blood and fluids, so she got several units of each Monday night. Fingers crossed that she starts feeling better and gets to come home soon!!!!

We're taking all 3 of the kids on Friday to celebrate New Years Eve at our house and give their parents an opportunity to go out and have fun or just hang out at home, sans kids. I have some fun ideas planned for the festivities and I'm excited for them to get here!

I made the thank you cards for Ben's birthday and got (most of them - I ran out of stamps, so mom & Carin, I'll hand deliver yours next time I see you) in the mail yesterday and a thank you made for my neighbor (she brought over a big bag full of hand made treats like fudge, home made peppermint patties, home made peanut butter cups, etc) and now I just need to give that to her.

Hope every one had a great Christmas and wishing you a happy & safe NYE!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mom.

Mom,

I'm not so good at sharing my feelings. It's easier for me to make a joke or change the subject. That being said, I don't generally have the best poker face, so what I'm feeling is usually broadcast pretty loud and clear across my face. I know things are going a lot faster than we all anticipated and I thought why save these thoughts for after you're gone? I think it's better to tell people how you feel about them in the here and now, and not have (as many) regrets later. I know you've been so delighted and thrilled with your daily thank-you's from the kids that you wanted to share them with every one, so I thought why not post it on my blog for you (and anyone else you care to share this with) to see.

First and foremost, thank you. Thank you for giving me such a wonderful example of what it means to be a woman, a wife, and a mother. Thank you for teaching me that it's okay to have my own opinions, thoughts and ideas about things. Thank you for encouraging me to speak my mind (though some times I'm sure you wished I'd just shut up for a few minutes - I didn't earn the nickname motormouth for no reason!!). Thank you for always taking the time to explain the "why" of your decisions to me, and being willing to change those decisions if I could give a valid argument.

Thank you for the opportunities you gave me to visit the world. Growing up overseas was an awesome experience and it's truly shaped who I am today. It can't have been an easy choice to take your family and move away from everything familiar, and then watch your husband go off to war - having no familial support system around you. So thank you again, for showing me courage, and that doing the right thing isn't always the easiest thing.

Thank you for enduring ballet practice, Brownie meetings, late night video recordings for Spanish class, last minute projects, voice lessons, endless choir performances, and my one attempt at drama.

When I see yellow mums, I will always think of you. When I see a red sweater, I will always think of you.

I won't lie and say any of this is easy. None of it is easy. All of it is incredibly hard and heartbreaking. I don't know how to not have a mom. I'll learn and I have your lessons to guide me through it. I'm so glad you got to meet Ben and share in our joy of him. He lights up my world, and I'll be forever grateful that I got to share that light with you. I hope that by a miracle you'll get to meet any of my future children, but I know I'll have wonderful memories to share with them if that miracle doesn't happen.

And I will never, never, never let you forget Anne Frank's house. HA!

I love you, mama. :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Months.



milestones, first birthday and Susan's visit!


Well holy cow kids we made it a year. His 1 year check up isn't until Monday so I don't have any "stats" for you as far as height & weight.

He's accomplished many milestones this year. The big ones we haven't seen yet are standing unassisted and walking. His vocabulary will continue to grow and I'm delighted at the words (and signs) he can already use to communicate. He says: mama, dada and cat (but it comes out more "cack") and some times dog (gog). He points, claps, waves, and raises his hands up as if to say "what?", he can sign "milk" (which doesn't always mean milk, sometimes he's just thirsty for water and sometimes he's hungry) and we're working on "please" (he'll do it on me instead of himself). He clucks his tongue and is practicing lots of new sounds. He's discovering his own personality and experimenting with what gets attention (tantrums have been big at our house lately...yay...).

He's cutting several teeth (which is what I feared would happen when he teethed so late). One bottom tooth is poking through and the other is right behind it. I'm pretty sure his top two are coming in and he gums a lot on the sides of his mouth. I wish I could say mine was one of those babies that breezed through teething but he's been quite the crab monster through it. Poor boy.

He's transitioned to whole milk very well. I wasn't sure how he'd do so I started out small. The first time I gave him some, I replaced a few ounces of formula with milk and he didn't even show that he's noticed. He's had several bottles now of just straight milk with no problems. Yay!

Susan rocks!

Susan came out to visit for his birthday. I always feel bad when she comes, that I don't show her enough things to do. As a result, we spent a lot of quiet time at the house - crafting, party planning, some shopping and just general relaxing. I hope she had a nice time - while we may not have done a whole lot, I know these last few weeks have been stressful for her at home and I hope she enjoyed the opportunity to relax and sit back worry and care free. We went and saw Burlesque at the theatre, which we both really enjoyed (we went to see Love & Other Drugs but when we got there, the showing that was listed online wasn't showing at the theatre - rude) so we picked Burlesque instead. Cheesy, predictable and completely unrealistic but absolutely a lot of fun (and honestly, fairly clean, considering the subject matter).



Today was Ben's 1st birthday party. I've been working the last few days getting all his party stuff printed out, cut out and assembled and I think it came together nicely. I supplemented some of the party package I bought with things I made, as I blew through 2 ink cartridges. It was a nice gathering of family (one of his guests wasn't able to come due to a family emergency) that was relaxed and not too stimulating. He got an impressive array of toys from our modest group and he seemed to enjoy every one (the most impressive was the ride on excavator toy from his cousins, but I think he most enjoyed the light up snowman ornament from the Paquette's and the steering wheel toy from his Nana B). He made us all laugh with his cake - he pretty much dove in face first. I found a nice sugar free cake recipe on Weelicious that I made into cupcakes and a small cake for him and frosted with store bought frosting (I so wanted to make the frosting myself but I ran out of time and energy - but Candi, I'm absolutely going to try the recipes you passed on to me!!) which seemed to be a hit with him and every one else.

And so goes another year that I'm sure will be over in a blink of the eye. Hope you all enjoy your Christmas with your families!! :)


12/18/10 at 6:05 pm: exactly 365 days old

update with Ben's stats: 20 lbs (12th percentile), 31 inches (85th percentile)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Clothes Pin Wreath.

Back in September, I was perusing Martha's site and I came across this wreath. At first I thought I could make this for free - I had clothespins and I knew my mom had some embroidery hoops that she wasn't using any more. After a first dismal attempt {Martha's guide says to use mini clothespins and I thought I could use regular ones - turns out there isn't room for very many that way and they were too heavy to stay on the hoop with wood glue and hot glue wasn't a long lasting solution}, I splurged on $2.24 worth of mini clothes pins and set out to remake it.

The result:

All in all, this project probably took me 20 minutes (and half of that was struggling with the bows - I suck at tying pretty bows) and it was practically free.

I'm planning to leave this up all year and just switch out the ribbon for the appropriate season to display birthday cards and other mailed pretties.

What sorts of methods do you use to display your holiday cards?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Positives.

My friend Susan has a blog where she had made a commitment to post at least one positive thing every day. I harassed her tonight because she's fallen off the wagon a bit (hey, it's easy to do, but your friends are supposed to hold you accountable, right? that's my story and I'm sticking to it). I said if she could do it, I would do it.

So here you go. My positive things for today, Thursday, December 9th:

  1. I've made good progress on getting things done for Ben's party & have knocked quite a bit of things off my "to-do" list
  2. I made a really fantastic chili today that my family enjoyed (my corn mini muffins stuck to the pan and were visually unappealing but still tasted good)
  3. I had lunch with my mama
  4. I got to chat with Susan for a bit this evening (bonsu!)
  5. My son was extra cuddly today

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hometown.

And so Facebook has spurred a completely random blog.

You know, FB has rolled out it's new layout thingiemabobber and most of my FB friends have made the switch and are busily updating their info, which hits my newsfeed. One of the things that I see a lot is "hometown" - this is something that always stumps me. What do you consider a "hometown"? To me, it's a place you primarily grew up and consider your home. By that definition, I don't have a hometown, and thus I never know what to put - so I usually leave it blank.

You see, I was actually born very close to where I live now. My parents had a little house over on Cribbens Street in Boise and I was born at the same hospital that I had Ben (St. Luke's down town). Shortly after that, my dad enlisted in the Army and we moved down to Georgia while he went through basic training. From there we traveled a bit north to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina (that's where all my earliest memories stem - would that be considered my "home town"?). We lived in North Carolina for I think 3 years before we went overseas and lived for 3 years in Italy and then 3 more years in Germany. It was during our stay in Germany that my dad decided not to reinlist and we headed back states side.

I believe the original intent was to settle back in the Boise area, but during the 10 or so years we were gone from the area, Boise boomed. It wasn't the same town my parents remembered and some how we ended up further north, in Moscow, Idaho. My dad went to the University of Idaho there and we lived there for about 3 or so years before we moved down to Clarkston, Washington. We lived in Clarkston for again, the magical 3 years, before my dad's job was transferred to Salt Lake City, UT. That was not a good fit for us and the shortest I think we've lived anywhere. We lived there about 6 months before we again followed my dad's job to the Seattle, Washington area. We lived in Black Diamond, WA for several years before I graduated high school, went off to play at college at the U of I before becoming a dismal collegiate failure and dropping out to come back home (a decision I do not regret to this day).

After that, my moving journey fell on my own shoulders. Nick & I lived in sin in an apartment in Auburn, WA and then bought our first house in teeny Enumclaw where we lived til my family all abandoned us. First it was my brother - he moved to Boise. Then my parents went. Then my granny went. Then it was just us. So we up and sold our house - most amazing story: we talked to a realtor about what we would need to do it get it sellable and planned to work on those items and then list. Not even 2 or 3 weeks later, she called saying she knew it was an odd offer, but she had a buyer in from California that was looking for homes similar to ours and asked if we'd mine showing it. Seriously, she looked at it that weekend and made an offer that night. I quit my job in a whirlwind and we moved to Boise.

So what is my hometown? Is it Boise - because that's where I was born and that's where I've settled again (for now)? Is it the Seattle area, because that's where I've spent the most time in my life? I never know what to put, so I generally leave it blank if I can.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life.


for the record: This blog serves mostly as a journal for me to look back on later and see how things were going at this point in our lives. Since it's online and public, and I choose to import my blog to Facebook, you're free to read along. No hurt feelings if you don't ;)

I was reading through me old bloggeroo here and realized I haven't really blogged about Ben much, nothing too much on him since I posted he turned 11 months. To be honest, there isn't much new to report on him. I was going to try this week and wean him off the last feeding of the night (I go in to his room every night and do a "phantom" feed before I go to bed - I just get him out of his crib, give him a bottle and put him back down for the night; he never fully wakes up from that) but last night was not so fun (he woke up crying hysterically at about 4:00 and that's no fun for anyone). I don't believe I'll try it again tonight.

I am trying to get him down to 20 ounces of formula a day by the time he hits the year mark. At his 9 month check up, the doc said that's where he should be, so that's what we're aiming for. At 9 months he was eating a solid 30 ounces a day and now he's down to 24. She also told us that a few days before his 1st birthday that we can start adding milk into his formula so that when he turns 12 months, he's solely on milk. I figure I'll start that next week - I'll start adding milk to one of his bottles and see how he likes the change. If he's okay with it, the next day I'll change it to two bottles and keep diluting the formula til he's completely on milk and off formula.

He's starting to get a bit more picky on what he chooses to eat and some meal times are a bit of a battle. I have a love/hate relationship with him dropping food on the floor. When he's tired of eating, he'll pick up a handful and deliberately drop it on the ground - which on one level completely cracks me up and totally annoys me on another. He didn't care for turkey at Thanksgiving, but I honestly didn't think he would. He doesn't care much for chicken either. He does love ground beef and pretty much every veggie we've given him (minus peas - he's never liked peas and still doesn't and potatoes...he just isn't a fan, I think it might be the texture). I had a goal a while back of being completely off jarred stuff and I'm 99.9% there. I do buy baby prunes for him but that's it!

I'm busy planning away on his party. I decided to do a little circus theme. I know it's not entirely original or awe-inspiring but I thought it was fun. A found a seller on Etsy that does customized party printables for a pretty affordable price. I know I could have done all the things she created for me, but I'm not sure I ever would have gotten around to doing it, so it was worth the investment. I have so much to do between now and then - time is really getting away from me. I have plenty of time to do things, I just find myself NOT doing them. But no worries cuz Susan will be here a week from today and she'll help kick my rear in gear if I haven't accomplished much between now and then!!

I've been in a terrible funk slash borderline depressed recently. Lots of things happening in my life, both in and out of my control and it's all adding up. So many things aren't turning out the way I'd hoped and I feel often that I'm just on the sidelines looking in at every one having a good time. I try to find the rainbow in every day but some days it's quite a struggle. Like anything, this too shall pass. I do have a good life. Though we may not be in the financial position I wish we were in, I get to stay home with my baby; and it's a nice home. It's big enough, we've made a good investment in it and it's comfortable for our little family. It can even accommodate another lil one if we're still in this house by the time we're ready to expand again (which, depending on the day you ask, may or may not ever happen HA!).

Oh wow I'm jumping all over the place on topics. Back to Ben. :) He's safe to talk about. I'm positive that he's finally cutting a tooth. I wasn't going to say anything til it broke through because I feel like I've been saying he's been teething since he was 4 months old. But there is a definite white spot and a definite bump on his gums. I'm not making it up or imagining it - but you just watch. Now that I've put it out there, his elusive teeth won't make an appearance for months longer.

We took him to see Santa today. I wasn't sure if it would be a good day, he's been kind of a Senor Crabby Pants recently and today was no exception (he isn't sleeping so wonderfully recently and I'm wondering now if the aforementioned white bumpy on his gums has anything to do with it and the resulting clinginess during the day). I figured the worse that would happen is that we'd get there and come home empty handed (which is essentially what we'd be getting if we just stayed home). It went pretty much the way I expected. He bawled. It is the mostly classically priceless picture ever and it's probably one of my favorites. Santa looks absolutely delighted and Ben looks devastated. As my mom pointed out, it's quite similar to all of my childhood pictures with Santa - in some state of distress or another. Poor kid (she says as she giggles).

Speaking of my mom - thanks to all of you for your kind words over our latest news. Her doctor isn't finished fighting the fight and my mom hasn't given up yet either. If any good can come out of all the bad, it's that it's forcing us to remember to embrace the happy joys of every day. To truly enjoy every moment.

School started back up today. Nick got the same schedule he had last quarter: class on Tuesdays & Wednesday's with one online class as well. Not too shabby! I'm glad we're seemingly done with the Friday and Saturday classes (for now... we'll see what happens next quarter). He's almost done! He has this quarter and the spring quarter to go and FINISHED!!!!! We. Cannot. WAIT. It's been a long 3 years, but I'm incredibly proud of him for plunging in and sticking with it (and sticking with it with fabulous grades).

So that's it. I think. That's the news from the Idaho Beesley Household Chapter. Aren't you just so thrilled (ahhh I know some of you are ha ha)??

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Memories.

By special request... :)

  • Watching dad & Jamie wave to us from every. single. landing on the Tower of Pisa, while we waited down in the rain because I was too little to go up.
  • Our walks through the forest in Kaltenbrun
  • First time camping once we came back to the States, and my major freak out session over not being able to see in the dark.
  • Anne Frank's house
  • Stanga
  • Mrs. Budd's house
  • ALL the round towers
  • Watching Unsolved Mysteries and being too scared to sleep (darn that Richard Stack)
  • The bee in the car
  • Our mixed tapes - they served as a soundtrack for our lives overseas, and I can't hear one of those songs on the radio without a memory attached
  • a la one of those songs: heave of construction
  • Loading up our belongings on the truck when we left Germany - my bike was the last thing in
  • The Great Beer Spilling Debacle
  • Driving you on the dreaded 405 to go meet baby Connor
  • Planning my wedding with you, choosing the music, making the invitations, finding THE dress, deciding on a place, hating our photographer, loving our DJ - cases and cases of left over personalized wine glasses....and who can forget Jackie's show.
  • the birthday banner you made and had strung up on the front lawn for my 7th birthday
  • the jewelry box and red dress Christmas
  • Christmas before dad shipped out to the Gulf War
  • Jamie coming home for Christmas
  • Sending Jamie off to the states after he finished high school
  • Muffin in my Ewok costume
  • home made Halloween costumes (the cat! the pilgrim! the witch!)
  • those play clothes you made for me that were so hard to get on and off
  • our house in Germany
  • Reginald and his mama (AND his daddy)
  • playing in the rocks in front of one of our houses in the south
  • the Easter picnic on the hills where the eggs kept rolling away
  • loads of people over for every holiday
  • Wendy's in Venice
  • First Frosty when we came back to the States, and dad smirking at me when I got a straw
  • cinnamon rolls in the hospital to meet Ben :)
  • watching you and Anne boogie woogie in the living room after far too many glasses of wine (and the time granny fell into the tree)
  • our trip to San Diego
  • our trip to Reno and the search for penny slots
  • our entire Boston trip - we had such a great time on the trip, the whale watching and the Salem witch trials, "seeing" like 12 states all at once
  • going to Green Bay - one of our most perfect trips ever
  • dolphin watching in Florida
  • "look at me, look at me"
  • getting our hair done for Jamie & Carin's wedding
  • the year of the giant sweat pants
  • the pen Christmas
  • the Berlin zoo
  • our first night in the Villagio - lawn furniture, fudge cookies and lime koolaid
  • riding the train to anywhere
  • doll shopping
  • buying the house in Enumclaw
  • going to see the Nutcracker in Seattle
  • Law & Order ;)
  • introducing you to HGTV
  • and the Deadliest Catch
  • Muffin & The Hot Dog Job
  • the cranberry toss
  • driving to Salt Lake
  • going to Hollywood
  • seeing Arches National Park (so very cool and I'd like to go again)
  • chanting WE'LL TAKE THAT as you pouted that the Packers weren't doing so well
  • the night I thought some one was breaking into our house...turned out to just be an elk looking for a snack outside my window
  • the bag of puke down the side of the car
  • when dad asked (oh-so-politely) if you wanted to drive
  • being serenaded by a drunk Irishman (twice) (in a row) (while he clutched my hand)
  • the Keukenhof
  • the crazy lady's house
  • field trip to Christkindlmarkt
  • spaghetti bolognese....
  • living in the hotel while we waited on housing
  • getting stuck in the bathroom on the bus to Holland
  • breakfast every morning in Germany
  • the 10 year scarf project
  • bike riding into the bush
  • family pictures in Italy
  • the Joey doll
  • the time I butterflied my knee
  • Sunday = dinner at mom's
  • did I mention Anne Frank's house?!?
  • ballet
  • when all our clothes where dyed blue by an errant shoe in the wash
  • MENTOS!
  • European plumbing and toilets in the ground
  • discovering a love of toast & tea in England
  • seeing the giant Santa and nearly having a heart attack to get it in the craft store in Maple Valley
  • the giant peaches from Natches
  • "Better or worse?"
  • Butt Rice Butt Rice & the founder of Job's Daughters ;)
  • making Christmas cookies with you and the kids
There are so many more....

12/06 more added:
  • the free Christmas tree from the you-pick lot
  • blue berry picking in Germany
  • meet you at the next bridge!
  • the Susie doll (though I don't remember that one)
  • Zulu warrior dance
  • filming the Spanish movie
  • waiting for dad to come home from the Gulf War
  • the time the Tooth Fairy forgot to take my tooth
  • playing double solitaire
  • endless games of Yahtzee
  • the white & blue striped overalls I wanted soooooo badly
  • moving into Jim's house - what a 3-ring circus THAT was!
  • Greensleeves on a never ending loop
  • the birthday cake that part had been eaten...Grafi was an easy scapegoat
  • why I don't play Monopoly anymore
  • trying to learn how to drive that awful white pick up
  • meeting Nick & his mom for the first time - why were they the very last people off the plane??
  • somersaults in the living room
  • counting out 100 pennies for the ice cream truck in Ft. Bragg
  • why I'm still scared of tape measures
  • the first time I tried to make spaghetti for dinner, only to discover we didn't have any sauce (after I'd browned the meat and boiled the noodles). you ate it, insisting you liked it without sauce.
  • Friday night dinners out in Clarkston

Friday, December 3, 2010

Personalized.


I adore personalized anything. Put my name on it, and tiny hearts light up in my eyes. Every year I tell my husband that this is the last time I'm going to buy new stockings and every year I see a new one to fall in love with and promise yet again that this is the last time. Last year I hearted the classic red & white stockings with silver initial pins. This year I'm back to loving my favorite motif - country clutter. I found some pretty great stockings {polka dots! swoon!} from Ballard Designs that you could have embroidered with your name {double swoon!} but the price tag was pretty panic-attack inducing. Since I suck at embroidery but I really wanted to do something that put our names on our stockings and I wasn't about to shell out $30 a piece for stockings, I had to get crafty.

Enter Target. Oh Target, how I love thee and thy awesome dollar bins. In a recent stroll through my Mecca, I found these super cute wooden star ornaments with a simple hook to hang. Picture a light bulb going off over my head. I grabbed up three {one for me, the hubs and the bubs} and then went off to the scrapbooking aisle for some glittery funness by way of lettering. Side note: I could have used my Cricut to cut out the letters and embellished with glitter myself - however, I'm still in my infancy of collecting cartridges and I only have one font cart and it's not my favorite. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. $4 later and I have my personalized plaques for our stockings {and the BEST part is that if I change my mind in the future, these tags go with!}

Here's your incredibly easy how-to:
  1. Gather blank ornaments
  2. Gather embellishments {as fancy or as plain as ya wanna get - I kept mine to just the name as the surface I was working on is quite small}
  3. Adhere your letters and embellishments to the ornaments {in the picture below I show ModPodge as part of the items used - I didn't end up using it at all}
  4. Hang on stockings.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Devastation.

I haven't yet decided if this is a post I'll choose to share or one I'll simply type out for myself.

6 months to live. Those are words you hear all the time. About some one ELSE. About some one ELSE'S family. You don't hear them yourself. You don't hear them about your mother. You hear stories of "I never thought that some one would be me" and agree - you never expect that kind of news to hit your family.

And then it does. What do you do? I mean, seriously. 6 months to live. How do you even begin to wrap your brain around that? What does that even mean? We all know that it's not a guarantee. Could mean 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years. People defy the odds (in a both positive and negative way) all the time.

You know what I do? I've come to find out that I immediately regret. The first things that pop into my head are all the bad times, and the regret that comes with knowing that time is indeed finite. It makes me feel awful that I didn't spend less time being annoyed at my mom for some reason or other (because, admit it, mothers get on their children's nerves {and vice versa} on a regular basis). Here I sit...wishing I didn't waste that precious time with my mom being annoyed or saying the mean and hateful things I said as a overly hormonal teenager.

Instead I should rejoice. I got to spend an amazing nearly 30 years with my mom. Years that we spent traveling to wonderful places, living lives that not many else get to live. Who else has the story of almost getting to see Anne Frank's house, but didn't because some one had a broken toe? Who else can giggle over the time their mom knocked a tall (TALL) glass of beer across the table and into my lap and then had the mortifying experience of having a strange German woman practically strip my pants off to clean it up? Who else gets to tell their first born son the story of how his nana was so excited to meet him, she bribed her way into the delivery room with freshly baked cinnamon rolls?

I don't sit around and think "shit. my mom is dying of cancer." I really don't. It is a daily reminder; people ask how she's doing, I wonder if today is a good day or a bad day, but the death part isn't sole focus of my day. I take the attitude (often) of dealing with it when it happens.

So I hear the news of tumors found in the brain, immediate radiation and approximately 6 months to live and freak out. I cry, I'm upset, I tell my husband and my best friend and I hug my son. I'll wallow in this a bit (and who knows how long this "bit" will last - I nearly burst into tears in the middle of Hobby Lobby tonight {that's right, I took myself therapy shopping}) and then put it aside. We'll deal with that when we get to it. Until then, I am forced to be thankful to live in Idaho (even though it's no secret I mostly hate it here and really can't wait to leave - much to my mom's dismay; she loves Idaho) so that I'm a 10 minute drive from my mom.

So, I guess, don't worry about me. I'll be okay. My mom will be okay. She might have this awful death sentence and be dealing with her own regrets and "I wish I had" 's and things she's frightened of (far more than I, I'm quite sure), but she'll be okay. She has strong faith and I know she'll be well looked after when she's gone. Those I'm most worried about are being kept very close to my heart and I'll do everything I can to make things easier for them.

On that note - hug your mama's. Tell them you love them. Try to forgive them for whatever hurts they caused you. Don't wait til it's too late.

Advent.

So you all know I'm a wee bit obsessed with blogs. I mainly follow crafting blogs and recently in blogland there has been an abundance of advent calendar projects (gee...I wonder why...). I really wanted to make one for Ben - I remember as a kid we often had them at our house during Christmas, that were filled with chocolates and I loved opening the little doors and getting my daily piece of candy.

For Ben, I really just wanted something simple. First, I'm not feeding my 11 month old chocolate. Call me crazy, but I'm just not doing it. Second, he doesn't really "need" 24 days worth of tinker toys, nor would he get the concept. This project is mostly for me. ha. So, I set out to craft something that I thought would be age appropriate and still fun to look at. This is what I came up with:


After I agonized and debated and thought about it for what felt like forever (really it was just like a few hours), I decided I wanted to do circles. I picked out two coordinating Christmas papers and cut out 24 three & a half in circles with my Cricut (using George & Basic Shapes). Then I cut out numbers one through 24 again with the Cricut (this is a completely Cricut project, but it doesn't have to be - I just used what I had) in both red & green cardstock. Then I glued 'em on. Then I debated and agonized and thought about it for what felt like forever (really it was just like a few hours...sound familiar?) and decided to just do simple shapes on the back. So there I went, back to the Cricut, cutting out shapes and animals and what not and gluing them to the back of each circle.

Then i needed a way to display it. I re-purposed a frame I had hanging in the hallway by removing the glass and pictures and just using the back & frame. I stuck a piece of cardboard in the back and pinned up my circles. I did it in a random pattern, so the numbers are all over the board and it'll be a small adventure (for me... ha ha) to turn them over every day.




So there ya go. My first home made advent calendar. Nothing too snazzy and I'm sure I could have done a nicer job, but those efforts will be saved for when he's older and he really does get a gift every day.

(Cartridges used for this project: George & Basic Shapes (for the numbers on the front, circles & some images on the back; New Arrival & Doodlecharms)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Grahams.


I found another new blog.

I'll wait.

While you all gasp in shock.

I know. I know. I find like 10 new blogs a week. My google reader is seriously getting out of control...but it's nice to sit down every morning with a cup of coffee and read my "paper" to see what's creative in blogland.

In any case, I digress.

I baked again, too. Back to the blog I found, it's Weelicious.com (fast, easy & fresh baby food, toddler food and recipes for the whole family!) and I heart it. I've already made her banana bites which were a big hit with Ben and her avocado & cheese quesadilla, which was also a big hit.

What I'm blogging about today, though, are the graham crackers I made. That's right. Home made graham crackers. It was actually the first recipe of hers that I tried and I'm glad I did! Ben really enjoys them (so do Nick & I), they have a nice, mild flavor, they aren't too sweet and they work great as double duty as teething biscuits (who am I kidding - Ben is never getting teeth).

Here is the recipe I followed:

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Butter, chilled & cubed
1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a food processor or mixer combine the first 6 ingredients.
3. Add cubed and chilled butter to the mix and pulse/mix until it resembles coarse meal.
4. Add honey and water and continue to mix until it all combines.
5. Remove and shape the dough into a flat disk and place between two pieces of parchment paper.
6. Roll dough out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into crackers or shapes.
7. Place cookies on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
8. Cool and serve.

My changes - I omitted the honey since I'm giving these to Ben and honey is a no-no. I also way increased the cinnamon, because we like it. Rolling out the dough was WORK. It's hard to roll out to the thickness she describes - and I don't think I did. I just got it as thin as I could. I used a star cookie cutter on mine so they came out a big larger than hers did, I think, but they're a great size for Ben to hold on to and if he bites off one of the points of the stars, he isn't going to choke (like he does on some other teething biscuits I've bought and quit giving to him).

As you can see, he rather enjoys them:


Friday, November 19, 2010

Potato Soup.

Tried a new recipe again for dinner tonight. This time it was a potato soup recipe. I found it at $5 Dinners and it was really good!

Here's the recipe and then some tips after:

You will need:

1 lb. spicy breakfast sausage ($2.50)
10 medium Russet potatoes ($1.30)
1 onion, diced ($.30)
1 can cream of chicken soup ($.89)
1 can cream corn ($.59)
1 cup shredded cheddar ($.50)
Total = $6.08 (Remember this is for a family of 10!)

Peel and cube potatoes. Cover with water in large stock pot and put on to boil.
Brown sausage and onions. Set aside
After the potatoes become soft (15-20 minutes), whisk in soup and corn.
Add sausage and onions.
Stir in cheese.

Enjoy!

Tips: her instructions don't tell you to drain the water from the potatoes prior to adding the other ingredients, because she doesn't want you to (I had to hunt on her page through the comments to confirm - I wasn't the only one that wasn't sure). This is a bit runny, so I added about a tablespoon of corn starch to mine to thicken it up. It's a bit on the bland side, so if I make this again, I might season the sausage with garlic, salt, and what ever other spices I have on hand that might sound good. It makes a LOT. I used smaller sized potatoes and I still have a huge amount of it. Thankfully, we like potato soup and it's a granny grocery weekend, so I'll take her some left overs on Sunday.

6.

There are 6 days til Thanksgiving. I had meant to start this yesterday and do 7 days of thankfulness but yesterday I blogged about Ben.

Today I am thankful for:
  1. Living in America, where I am free to think for myself and expressing my own opinions
  2. My mother, for giving me a wonderful example of what a mom should be
  3. The Internet, for giving me unlimited access to so many things that spark my imagination
  4. My dad, for being an awesome example of what marriage vows mean
  5. Being able to read, reading is one of the only things I get to do just for me
  6. My husband, for making me laugh like no other
Tomorrow I shall regale you with 5 thankful things - catching a theme here? :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

11 Months.


OH wow. OH WOW. He's 11 months old. This time last year, I was anxiously awaiting his arrival. I really didn't think I'd make it til December - I was convinced that I was going to go into labor on Thanksgiving day and my doc wouldn't be able to be there. As it was, I still had a month to go (and even then, I had to kick the little brat out - he didn't want to come out and play!).

At this point in his life, it seems like he's picking up on something new every day. He's a champion cruiser, surfs the couch, the coffee table, the walls, the window sills, the dog, anything he can use to pull himself up. Earlier this week he started copying my "what?" hand sign. I don't know if this is the actual sign for it, but when I ask him "what is that?" or something along those lines, I always put my hands up and make a questioning face. He just randomly started doing it, too!

At 11 months he is:
  • pulling himself up to stand on just about everything
  • letting go and having a few moments of free standing with no support before he sits down
  • beginning to feed himself with a fork (I'd been giving him a spoon but a light bulb went off that he might be able to spear the food better than trying to scoop it up and I was right)
  • mimicking lots
  • crawling more on all fours than his army crawl
  • eager to walk - he'll go over to his walking toy and walk by himself with the toy and recently he's been pushing around the barstools and dining room chairs as well
  • eating less milk and more food (he's down from 30 ounces a day to just about 24/25)
  • some of his favorite foods: anything with pasta, bread, applesauce, avocado, banana.
  • some of his least favorite foods: peas and chicken
  • said his first word: ock (meaning "cat" or "dog") - last night he began saying "bap" for "ball"!!!!! Pretty excited mama!!
  • still as toothless as the day he was born
  • getting harder to take smiling pictures of - he'd rather look around, go off and explore, whatever, than look at me and smile
  • pretty solidly down to 2 naps a day (on Little Gym days, some times he does 3)
  • he's wearing all different sizes of clothes. Anywhere from 9 months to 24 months - it really depends on the maker. For shirts it's mostly 12 to 18 months but he has some 9 month size shirts that fit still. Pants is the weirdest - the size that would fit him the best would be like a 9-12 month but they don't make that size. Most 12 month pants are way too big and are too long - those that fit around the waist are generally high waters on him.
We're very much looking forward to his first Thanksgiving and Christmas! It feels like his first Christmas (even though it isn't) since he slept through it last year. I'm busily planning his party! I can't believe he'll be a year old in a month! We're keeping the party small, to family and one "friend" (because can you really have a "friend" at 1? ha ha) because my house is small and I don't want to overwhelm him. I think I'm pretty solidly locked into a theme and I'm kind of excited for it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Risotto.

Tonight I made the most delicious risotto I've ever had. Perhaps I should clarify and say that I've never had risotto before. HA! I don't know how authentic this is, but I know it's dang tasty. I got the recipe from Once A Month Mom. I made only a few modifications, based on what I had. I didn't use link sausage, I used ground sausage. I didn't use both Parmesan and Romano cheeses - just the canned Parmesan cheese. She has further instructions on her blog if you wanted to make this ahead and freeze it.

Super good!!!

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
16 ounces Italian Sausage links (like Johnsohnville), sliced
1 cup apple juice
1 cup onion, diced
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1.25 cups rice
1 cup Chardonnay or dry white wine (can also sub apple juice)
3.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup peas, frozen
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/2 cup Romano Cheese, grated

Directions:

In a large saucepan, cook the sausage in apple juice. When finished cooking, remove from pan and slice. Heat oil in a large stockpot, add sliced sausage and onion, cooking until browned and softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, cook for one minute longer. Add wine and rice and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in 3 cups of the chicken broth. Lower the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until broth is absorbed. Add the rest of the chicken broth slowly, stirring until rice is cooked and creamy. Stir in peas and cheeses; cook until heated through. Serve.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thankful.

Recently I've been feeling like nothing in my life is going right. Even the little stuff feels like it's piling up on me. It's easy to get down and in a dark cloud of Murky Dismal and focus on all the crud instead of the good.

So, in light of Thanksgiving coming up in just 9 days (holy. cow.), here is my list of things I'm thankful for:
  1. Instead of being annoyed that all 4 of the florescent bulbs in my kitchen are burned out at the same time, I'll be thankful that I have a home to have burnt out lights in.
  2. Instead of being frustrated that the light in my fridge burnt out, I'll be thankful that I have a fridge (with FOOD in it) to have a light bulb be burnt out in. There are many people that would be thrilled to have a fridge full of food and a burnt out bulb.
  3. Instead of being upset that my thermostat won't allow us to reprogram it, I will instead be thankful that it still works and keeps my house warm (if not precisely at the times I'd like).
  4. Instead of being down that it's been almost 2 years since I've been on vacation, I'll be thankful that I've been allowed the opportunity to stay at home with my son (which has been my dream long before I was planning to have kids).
  5. Instead of being depressed that my mom is dying, instead I'll be extremely thankful of the time we have left and cherish every moment.
  6. Instead of resenting having to be creative to make my budget stretch to cover all our bills, I'll be thankful for those bills - as those bills mean I have wonderful things to enjoy every day.
  7. Instead of wishing I was able to eat out more often, I'll be thankful that I'm a pretty good cook and enjoy making meals for my family.
  8. Instead of being disappointed that I can't run out and buy every little decorating item I decide I have to have, I'll be thankful that I'm creative enough to make nice things to make my house home.
  9. Instead of wishing my best friend lived here instead of in Ohio, I'll be thankful of the loads of time we get to spend talking every day via email and chat (and that she's willing to spend her hard earned money and use her hard earned vacation time to come visit me for Ben's birthday!!!!).
  10. Instead of being frustrated that Ben isn't the best sleeper (he's so inconsistent), I'm so thankful I was blessed with a happy and healthy child.
I have a sign in my kitchen that says "a house is built with walls and beams. a home is built with love and dreams" - and it's very true. Our days are what we choose to make of them.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes.

Friday night my menu called for ham with scalloped potatoes. I've home made them in the past but mostly we just box it for dinners. Since I'm trying to make my food budget stretch further, making them myself was more of a savings, so I set off in search of a good recipe. We ran out of cheese a few days prior (and I'm trying my best to do without if I mismanage and run short of something prior to grocery day - all those little side trips to the store really add up) so I needed something without cheese. Now, traditionally, scalloped potatoes don't have cheese - if they have cheese, it's potatoes au gratin (because I know you really wanted a lesson in cooking). It seems, though, that about 90% of the scalloped potato recipes I looked through contained some cheese or another. I went back to my old reliable allrecipes.com and picked this one. It received really good reviews and best of all - I had all the stuff on hand. These were so good we didn't even have any leftovers (and Ben enjoyed them as well, and he's iffy on potatoes).

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients

5 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Paprika

Directions

· In a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish, layer potatoes and onion.

· In a saucepan, melt the butter; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add broth, mayonnaise, salt and pepper; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika.

· Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours or until tender.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Give Thanks Banner.

Here's a quick little tutorial on my spiffy new mantle pennant banner that I whipped up today. It's not the grandest one out there, but it's my version and I heart it. It's pretty simple to do - here's what I used to complete the project:
  • 5 pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 scrapbook paper {I decided to use a burlap print}
  • Coordinating paper {can be patterned, plain, whatever your heart desires - how you choose to cut your letters will depend on how much you need. I made 4" letters on my Cricut and used 1 and 1/2 pieces of 12x12 paper}
  • Paper cutter {or scissors}
  • Letters {I used my Cricut to cut them out because I have one, but you could easily use stencils, your printer or sticker embellishments, etc}
  • Adhesive {I used several kinds - scrapbook e-z runner adhesive, a glue pen and tape}
  • Twine {or other sort of stringing material like ribbon - I considered cutting some grapevine to use but by the time I got to that part it was dark so I stuck with the twine}
  • Xacto blade
First, I measured out my pennants on the 8 1/2 x 11 scrapbook paper - I used two pennants per page. I used my handy dandy husband with his super precise measuring and cutting skills for this part {a less lazy person could easily do this themselves}
While the pennants were being cut, I chose my letter paper and cut to cutting the letters out on my Cricut. Once I finally had everything ready, it was time to get to gluin'. I chose where I wanted the first letter oriented and glued it down. I then used the previous letter as a template for placement of my next letter:
After all the letters were glued to the pennants, I cut vertical slits in the top corners on each side of the pennant {I found cutting on the reverse side gave the front a cleaner look}
Once all the slits were made, I strung with twine:
And hung! Please ignore my awful mantel - I have a mini gallery ode to my son going on that I haven't quite made myself tidy up and make more presentable. I chose to do each word on it's own swag and left some extra twine on either end of the word dangle freely.



Now that I see it hung, I wish I had chosen a more bold color for the backdrop, rather than the burlap print. I love that print, but compared with the muted browns and tans of the fireplace, it almost blends right in. I still think it's incredibly festive!

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Falling Leaves.


So I spotted a cute little gem over on Less Than Perfect Life Of Bliss not that long ago and I've been quietly lusting over it.

I finally got around to making my version of it this afternoon.

I didn't take any pictures of the creative process, as I didn't do anything that spectacular. In Julie's tutorial, she used burlap for the background, a hand drawn & cut tree and a leaf punch. I used card stock and my Cricut.

I whipped out a 50 cent frame I got from the dollar store (it was a two pack of your basic pine frame), cut a piece of sort of tannish brownish card stock to fit for the backing (no awesome burlap at my house - and that's not sarcastic, I fluffy heart burlap and it seems to be all the rage in crafting materials right now). Then using my Stretch Your Imagination cartridge, I cut the tree (it's actually in the same color card stock as the backing but I colored it with brown Sharpie - I don't have any dark brown card stock) and then the leaves out of some fallish colors. Glued on, popped in the frame, stuck on my kitchen window sill and winner winner, chicken dinner.

Heart.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Menu.

I actually created and shopped for this menu last week. Hopefully this week all we buy are things we run out of like fruit, creamer and coffee. I think we're good to go on everything else! :-)

Red Beans & Rice
Chicken Enchiladas
Spaghetti
Ham & Scalloped Potatoes
Beef Burritos
BBQ Chicken

Wooo wee I just realized I planned us a whole bunch of Mexican-ish dinners for next week!

Do any of you menu plan? Tried any new recipes?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tamale Casserole.

This is one that's been in our family forever. I want to say it came from my great grandma on my dad's side. It's delish, easy to make and feeds a lot.

2 cans chili with beans (I use Nally's Original but I have used the spicy Nally's for more zing)
2 cans beef tamales (these are generally found with the Hispanic food - I used to buy Nally's kind but WinCo only sells Hormel - they taste the same to me)
1 can tomato sauce
Corn chips (like Doritos, but any kind will really work)
Sliced olives
Onion
Cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • In a casserole dish, layer the chips, tamales (remember to take the paper wrapper off - you can leave whole or break into pieces), chili, olives, onions and tomato sauce. Top with cheese. Depending on the size of your casserole, you can make multiple layers. It really makes zero change in the taste.
  • Bake about 30 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted.
Easy, peasy and fairly tasty. I don't always put olives or onion in mine (I rarely buy olives and I don't really care for onions). Some times I add in a layer of Mexi Corn. Yum!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Four.

Four things to do every day:

  1. Make my bed
  2. Clean my kitchen
  3. Spend quality time with my son
  4. Hug my husband

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Menu.

Happy Halloween!
With out further ado, here is my menu for 10/31-11/06:
Beef & Veggie Stew
Primavera
Tamale Casserole
Tequila Lime Chicken
Meatloaf
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Kung Pao Chicken
Eat at mom's (hey mom...did you know? I assume you did...the Packer's have the night game)

So there you go. A wonderful week of meals. I've actually already made my menu for next week too and shopped for it. So that's a mini update on my goals post of how we're doing on our budget. Still not so great, but definitely getting better. I'm actually balancing my check book. I know some of you just died in shock, and I'll miss knowing that you read my blog. HA!! But seriously, I created a register in Excel and I update it, check it with the bank and I balance to the penny. It's really nice. My bills are all paid, groceries bought so all I have to do is try to not spend the "extra" that we have in the account until the 15th. And it sure would be nice if Nick's job would give him the money from the expense report he turned in over a month ago... just sayin...

And in relation to the picture above - Happy Halloween! Even though it's Ben's first, it's really not all that different yet. We attended Boo At the Zoo yesterday afternoon....meh. Did you know I hate crowds? I do. I hate large groups of people, ambling about in no particular direction (except the one that happens to be in my way) and stopping randomly, blocking the entire pathway and blocking it for those behind them that want to continue walking. Remind me why I went again? ha ha no, it was fun to see all the kiddos dressed up. We saw a lot of dragons, Transformers, Darth Vaders, doctors....I didn't see any pumpkins which surprised me. I figured every other baby would be in a pumpkin costume (Nick said he saw one but I must have gone to my happy place and blocked it out), so that was a nice treat.

Today we're going over to my parents for the Packer game and that's about it. I'm going to set out my bowl of candy with a sign that says something about a sleeping baby so please don't ring the bell. I'll have Nick keep an eye on things and hopefully our trick or treaters are honest and only take a few pieces each.

Hope your Halloween is a good one!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Skillet Lemon Chicken With Rosemary

So here is another new recipe that we tried last night. I'll post how it was written in the book and then I'll show what I did different and my plans for this in the future.

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, pressed
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon olive oil
  • In a blender or food processor, blend lemon juice, wine, mustard, garlic and rosemary until well combined. In a large zipper-topped plastic bag, throw the chicken in and add the lemon juice mixture. Keep in the fridge for at least an hour (or do this in the morning and have it well marinated that night).
  • In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth and cornstarch until dissolved; set aside.
  • In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken (reserving marinade) on each side, about 4 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove chicken from skillet and cover to keep warm.
  • Now add reserved marinade to the skillet and, using a wire whisk, stir in the cornstarch mixture and the remaining broth. Bring to a bowl, sirring constantly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Return chicken to skillet, heat through and serve with sauce.

What I did different:
  • I didn't use fresh lemon juice - just the kind from the little plastic squeezie bottle you buy at the grocery store.
  • I didn't have dry white wine, but I did use a sweet dessert wine.
  • I used the Gluden's spicy brown mustard for the dijon.
  • I reduced the garlic from 3 cloves to 1 (I followed another recipe of hers where she called for 4 cloves of garlic and it was simply too much).
  • I also didn't have rosemary so I subbed in thyme.
  • I found that 4 minutes was not NEARLY enough time to cook the chicken and I only used 2 breasts.

Over all, this was good. It was tangy and had a good flavor. Here are my plans for next time:

  • Follow all of the steps up through the marinade.
  • At that point, I plan to add the cornstarch to the entire cup of chicken broth, combine with the chicken and marinade and bake in a 350 or 375 oven, covered with foil, about 30 or so minutes until the chicken is done.
  • Then serve over egg or fettuccine noodles.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Baked Macaroni and Three Cheese*.

I've been trying out some new recipes this week and thought I'd pass on last nights dinner. Super yummy and way easy to make. I'll post the original recipe and then my alterations:

*disclaimer: The only ways this is a "macaroni and cheese" recipe is that there are noodles and cheese.

1/4 pound ziti pasta, cooked
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup low-fat sour cream
6 ounces provolone cheese, thinly sliced
6 ounces low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, toss together the pasta, spaghetti sauce and sour cream. Mix together the provolone, the mozzarella and the Romano cheese and set aside. Now layer half the pasta mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle half the cheese mixture on the pasta. Layer remaining pasta on top and then the rest of the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Don't let the cheese brown.

Here's how I changed it:
  • I did not use sour cream. I didn't have any.
  • I used my can of Parmesan cheese instead of the Romano (saved me moolah at the grocery store and I'm pretty sure there is zero taste difference - as far as the fakey stuff goes).
  • I bought the provolone at the deli counter, pre-wrapped and pre-sliced.
  • I didn't "mix" the cheese, it didn't make sense to me to do that, since the provolone is sliced.
  • I cooked the noodles, drained the water and returned them to the pot and added the spaghetti sauce.
  • Then I sprayed Pam on the baking dish and spread out half of the pasta with sauce.
  • Then I shook the can of Parmesan over the top til it looked good, spread about half a bag of mozzarella cheese on top and laid out about 6 slices of the provolone.
  • Repeat and bake.
This makes a LOT. The book says 6 servings.... I know Nick & I had seconds last night (and they were good sized portions, since I didn't make a side dish) and we have 4 containers of it left over plus I gave it to Ben for dinner and lunch (and he LOVES it).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu.

I saw on another blog I followed that this lady posts her weekly menu for the week every Sunday. So because I'm a copy cat and I adore lists (per my previous post), I thought I'd start doing that as well. Not so much because I think any of you that read my lil ol blog care about what I choose to feed my family for the week, but mostly to make sure I actually make my menu. I find that when I take the time to think of meals, look in my cupboards for what I have on hand and plan accordingly, we spend so much less money at the grocery store. Last week, I don't know what I did but I went to the store with the stupidest list ever and we've made 3 or 4 runs up to the Fred's on the corner to fill in what I didn't plan for.

So without further ado - my menu for the week. These aren't in any particular order, I'll make them as they sound good (although they are in beef, chicken & meatless order so I don't have 3 nights in a row of beef dishes, etc, so maybe I will make them in this order):

Beef & Bean Burritos
Chicken & Rice Chowder
Baked Macaroni & Three Cheese
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Skillet Lemon Chicken with Rosemary
Beef & Veggie Stew
Primavera

I'm also currently reading: Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table by Leanne Ely, which is chock full of recipes and all sorts of tips. She breaks her book out into seasons and gives you about 8 weeks of menus per season, she also creates a shopping list based on the ingredients needed for each week of meals and tips to save you time when planning ahead for tomorrow's dinner. Right now I'm just mostly using her book for dinner ideas but this could really be a time saver for some one that doesn't want to sit down and plan a menu.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Check.

I heart to-do lists. Even more, I heart checking things off my to-do list. On Saturday, we're having the awesome Carissa from ckg photography do some pictures for us. We had her do Ben's 6 months pictures, after we saw what a fantastic job she did on some friends pictures. At first I wanted to do them at a pumpkin patch but I guess Idaho does things a little different than what I'm used to from Washington as far as pumpkin patches go. I've never had to pay admission to a patch before and to be honest, after shelling out money for our outfits and props and the photos themselves, I'm not looking to spend any more money - just to gain entrance to the place where we're taking pictures. So we're going a slightly different route but I think the overall effect will still be super cute. Only two things left to do on my to-do list and we're done with that list!

Projects, however....well, finishing projects is something I apparently have a hard time with. If I can pretty much work a project start to finish non stop, I'll get it done - no problem. But if it's something I do that takes a few days or weeks (or months, in the case of a certain VERY overdue gift to my sister in law and her new baby), it seems like I never finish it. I'm working on that vaguely mentioned gift, refinishing a free desk, converting our front room into a crafting space and some other things. I feel like I'll never finish. I think this is why I can't really seem to get into scrapbooking. I love the idea of scrapbooking and I do like to sit down and create pages but it always feels like a work in progress. And going back as far as I want to go seems like an enormous task. Blah.

Making decisions is another thing that I both love and hate. Some times I'm really focused and can just plow through what to do, where to do, if I should do it, etc. Other times I agonize and worry and wonder what others will think....then I have to almost yell at myself and make myself do what's right for me, and try not to worry so much what others think. Let me tell ya, as soon as the decision is made and put into action, I almost always feel instantly better. I've been in a deep funk the last few months (getting steadily worse - feeling things about myself that I haven't felt in a very long time) and I finally decided that it just wasn't worth it any more.

I'm still working on my Operation Purge & Simplify. I haven't really made any changes since my last post but the guest room is next. I've sort of been shoving things in there that I don't want to throw away, in hopes that I have some sort of meager and sad garage sale next spring. I'm thinking that that'll probably be way too much work and I'm just gonna donate the whole shebang to the Youth Ranch.

I do have a new goal, though, that I need to update to my goals blog. I want to make sure I make at least one new dish a month. I feel like we eat the same ol' things, over and over again (spaghetti and burritos, spaghetti and burritos) and I need to change it up. Plus, Ben is eating more and more "people" food (as opposed to "baby" food) and I want to offer him a variety of tastes. My mom kind of pokes fun at me because I was hesitant to let her feed him ice cream. It's not that I don't ever want him to have sweets - I just want to make sure he gets an appreciation for all things that are good for him before I start adding in the bad stuff.

So there's my random blog post du jour. I might regale you all with some "before" and "after" pictures of a few projects I've done around the house recently. If you're lucky. ;)