Monday, November 29, 2010


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.


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


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 (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.


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.


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


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!!!


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


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


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 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:


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


· 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.


Saturday, November 6, 2010


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
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
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 things to do every day:

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