Thursday, January 28, 2010
The house is quiet now and I'm enjoying listening to the wind while I stay cozy and bundled with my hot chocolate and Snuggie and trusty dog at my feet by the crackling fireplace. (or in reality, wrapped tightly in my blanket in the freezing basement sniffling and trying to fight off nausea--close enough)
When I was a kid on these days, I remember feeling kinda scared but at the same time like the weather was neat-o. Maybe it was just the possibility of a snow day that got me excited. (please let it not be a snow day tomorrow) But extreme winter weather always seemed a bit larger than life and so kind of thrilling.
I remember walking with my two neighbor friends from home to some activity at the rec. center about a mile away in what (at the time) felt like this kind of weather. (though I'm sure mom would never have let us go if it was this bad. right mom?) (plus we were like 6 years old)
It didn't start out too bad, but the further we walked, the nippier the wind seemed to feel and snow was blowing harder and our situation (to our young scared minds) seemed to become bleaker.
We all huddled together to brave the "winter storm" and ultimately decided to go back home even though we were almost there.
Life is so dramatic when you are a kid. I remember picturing what we must have looked like and thinking the nasty storm would force us to take shelter in some nearby woods or maybe we'd pound on some poor stranger's door claiming to be starving orphans in need of cookies.
And I wonder why my kids are so dramatic.
I don't mind this cold and wind too much, (said from someone who did not have to leave the house today) but this picture looks nicer.
It was taken just a week or two ago when we all got a wee taste of spring.
This was today. The kids are playing some sort of photo shoot game. Dan is the photographer and Shannon is the model. He kept saying "next, next next..." prompting her to pose until the timer on the little microwave went off and then he would abruptly say "You're done. Next!"
I made Perfect Pot Roast and Chocolate Sheet Cake yesterday.
I cooked the roast in the crockpot because I now know that my large pot with a plastic knob on the lid IS NOT oven safe. (a smelly mistake I discovered a few years ago)
It still tasted fantastic. Very tender. We ate it all.
The cake is good too, though I think I prefer brownies to cake. Cake just doesn't pack as much of a chocolaty punch. But it was delicious. Like chocolate flavored butter.
I took today off from cooking because Tim had to work and because I had Huevos Hyacinth on the menu. And though I recently made fried eggs over-easy for myself on a daily basis, now the idea of even smelling eggs makes me sick so I may put that one off for a while.
Homemade pizza tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Really, how important is a name in the grand scheme of things? I mean it's not like something as simple as your name will shape your personality or anything.
Or will it? Maybe a person who's known as Millicent will forever be fearfully dodging the public and taking the spooky dark alleyways to avoid human contact while an Angelina may stop traffic.
(by the way, we don't know what the baby is yet, I'm just throwing out girl's names more because that's what's popping in my head.)
Please save us from naming our child something that just popped in our head.
It's early yet but I wanna have some fun so help me out here.
What monikers strike your fancy? Please don't just shout out your name for heaven's sake! I get it. Everyone would like to have someone named after them. But I know all you people (or many of you...who's really out there?) I'm looking for what we haven't thought of yet.
We have a couple ideas but plan on having a backup boy and girl name picked out, in case they just don't look like a Mildred. Or a Fannie. Or a Jehoshaphat.
Oooh, Rose is nice, maybe overused.
How about Trigger? (kidding)
We know what we like but I think some fresh ideas would be helpful and fun.
Fire away! We certainly don't care about hurting anyone's feelings if we don't pick their name...
I made Comfort Meatballs and Ranch with iceberg wedges today.
PW shows the meatballs served with mashed potatoes, (I know, she's just crazy!) but I wanted to go the traditional route and have them with spaghetti.
Very yummy, though more sauce is needed if you plan on dousing the rest of your meal with the stuff. Tim liked it (the sauce) while I thought not bad, but nothing to shout about either. (again, wacky tastebuds working overtime or perhaps not at all) He said he liked that it was tangy.
The dressing was very smooth. I added a bit more cayenne because I like more flavor. And I went easy on the garlic, (for my stomach's sake) but if I'm ever so inclined to not use the bottled stuff, I will go to this recipe.
Overall, very nice meal, nothing to scream about, but really pretty good.
Tomorrow is Perfect Pot Roast and Chocolate Sheet Cake.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Either way, I don't know why I do the things I do sometimes.
I've taken Katie to the library for story time for about a year now and though she never admits she wants to go, she always does. And though she refuses to join in the silly songs and won't sit upright, (she likes to lay upside-down on my lap) I know she is listening and having a good time.
Today was the first of a new round of story times and I was looking forward to going with her. But then Tim found out he had to work at the baby store this morning and with one car, that meant no library today.
Did that stop me?
I foolishly decided to put Katie in a raincoat, carry my biggest umbrella proudly and push the stroller happily to the half hour song and dance spiel while singing in the rain.
I mean it wasn't raining that hard. And the library is what, a mile away? We can do that.
I was naively optimistic when we stepped out the door. Just a drizzle, and it's pretty warm. No problem.
About halfway there, I was ready to sacrifice the umbrella up to the wind gods and crawl into a nice hollow tree for shelter. Between dodging the lake-sized puddles and navigating the possessed stroller on a straight course while keeping a death grip on the humongous oh-so-effective umbrella over my head without tangling my hair in the nasty sharp metal parts and watching for stupid speeding drivers, I was a mess.
"Katie, how are ya hon?"
"Wha mom? I fine."
"Great. Do you think you could push me for awhile?"
"Ummm, no, dat's ok."
On we press and I'm getting optimistic we'll make it till we reach the main road and I see that it's a nice gradual long walk uphill.
When did that steep long incline get here? I've never noticed it driving. Ugghhh.
The violent gusts whipped my hair painfully into my face and demanded I release my only protection but I was a steady soldier and marched on. (melodrama anyone? I guess it wasn't that bad...)
The way back was not nearly as awful except I was exhausted. I really need to work out or at least get out more.
I did make that Chicken Pot Pie last week and it is one of the best things I have ever eaten.
The homemade crust is so savory and flaky, I ate an entire half of extra crust I had baked and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. (that's what mom used to do with the extra dough--it's yummy)
Today I made the Sherried Tomato Soup.
Only without the sherry.
Or the onion.
Or the heavy cream. (I was out of it since this was last week's recipe. But I substituted sour cream and milk.)
It's the tastiest tomato soup I've ever had. And I don't really love tomato soup either. I have to be in the mood and really doctor it up with cheese and crackers.
Figures I would like this, I think the heavy cream/sour cream completely negates any nutritional value it once may have held.
I don't care, I'm pregnant.
Tomorrow is Meatballs and Ranch (as in dressing) with iceberg lettuce wedge.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Kids are sick. (two are, one just has a cold)
Like made-it-to-the-bathroom-but-forgot-to-lift-the-seat sick.
And throw up every hour till it's just water sick.
Now I feel sick. But I think I'm supposed to anyway...
Chicken pot pie is coming in the (hopefully) near future.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Anyway, seeing this movie recently came in handy twice already this week.
Last night, I woke up in a fit of brain overload. I'm not sure what exactly I was thinking about, it seemed like tons of thoughts all at once. Usually when I can't sleep because my brain won't shut down, it's because of one issue. Like how to pay the bills, or, well...how to pay the bills. I recover by getting up, distracting myself, then putting some real thought into my problem, then watching some cheesy late night movie till 3 am. But last night, I didn't even know what to try to stop pondering over.
I got up, walked around, went back to bed... still couldn't seem to think straight.
Then I remembered the words of the wise Mr. Miyagi: "Fust focus."
So I focused.
So I breathed.
"In tru da nose, out tru da mout." (or maybe it was the other way around, either way it doesn't matter right?)
I was out again.
Katie was helping me grate the cheese for the Mac and Cheese lunch today (which was spectacular) and she was having difficulty remembering which way to pass the hunk of cheese over the grater. So one more time, I remembered the brilliance of The Karate Kid.
Not the "wax-on, wax-off'" part, but the up/down strokes when he was painting the fence.
Worked like a charm. (It's especially effective if you say it in the right accent too.)
(Sorry mom, I know you're really gonna think I'm nuts now since you probably don't have any idea what I'm talking about.)
I used jack and cheddar cheeses for the mac & cheese with some butter-soaked bread chunks on top. (I wanted more texture and butter also sounded good to me) Added some hunks of ham on the side. "It's very important to serve things on the side." It was a tasty meal.
So thank you Karate Kid, for your restful nights, your assistance with training in the kitchen, and most of all, for the nickname "Daniel-son". I'll use it well.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
It's the strangest feeling to be hungry and to have nothing look appealing, yet when I eat something with lots of flavor, it tastes twice as good as I thought it would. Till I feel sick again five minutes later. My body is so confused. I never had any cravings with my other pregnancies, just food I could tolerate. But last night, in a fit of curiosity, I ate a pickle. And boy did it taste pretty good. It also made the "sickness" go away, at least temporarily. So much for dispelling that wive's tale.
Unfortunately, my relief was short-lived because today I did not enjoy my hard-earned painstakingly tedious to prepare meal. (ok, it wasn't that hard to make)
The little brat.
I cooked the beef tenderloin to a higher temperature than PW recommended because I don't like my meat still moving and I figured this can't be good for the baby. As you can see, it was still bloody. (even just typing that makes me want to be sick right now. I've always been squeamish. In high school, I couldn't take notes in science class about blood or eyeballs because my hand would go limp)
Monday, January 18, 2010
So, let me 'splain my reasons for not completing my PW menu items last week... no it's too long. Let me sum up. No mac & cheese Thurs. b/c plenty of leftovers from Wed. (and no Tim to feed) And no meatloaf Fri. b/c I was out all morning and Katie and I indulged on Mc Donald's. (big pregnancy mistake--paid for that one later)
Last night I made the Meatloaf and Creamy Mashed Potatoes. (halved) It calls for bread (not just breadcrumbs) and I noticed this flavor seemed to dominate the meal. But that could just be my wacky pregnant taste buds talking. Everything tastes funny lately.
I also discovered that parsley, which used to be fine with me, is now on my can't-even-look-at-it-or-I-will-spew list. It smelled like rancid dirt to me. So I guess from here on out, anything I have to say about how these dishes taste can be considered just the ramblings of a neurotic pregnant hormonal pregnant lady. Kay?
And I was warned to pre-bake the bacon (which I did) but it still came out underdone.
I wasn't wowed by this, I think I like the recipe I have been using for meatloaf. But the recipes are so similar, I just don't know whether to trust PW or my useless taste buds right now.
(but the mashed potatoes were fantastic)
Back on track today. Marmalade Muffins. PW says to use a mini muffin pan to make 24 of these. I halved the recipe and made 32 so unless she's a mutant Okie giant, something's wonky here. But they tasted great.
Breakfast Bowls for lunch. Lots of prep work, but worth it. Though my brain unexpectedly went on strike and I accidentally turned off the oven when trying to manage the time these were done to coincide with when Tim was coming home from the store. So we ate lunch an hour late. And so it starts...
(p.s.--I substituted cilantro for the basil and I'm so glad I did. Totally made up for the dirty parsley in the meatloaf)
Menu for the rest of the week:
Tuesday: Roasted Beef Tenderloin and Creamy Rosemary Potatoes.
Wed. Mac & Cheese
Thurs: Chicken Pot Pie
Fri. Sherried Tomato Soup
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
(disclaimer: above picture referred to as "here" is not actually "here" but a remote setting in Germany used to make the idea of "here" more appealing. And to subliminally suggest to the reader that the sky here in upstate NY is in fact blue thus enriching a general nice feeling as you read this substandard post and leave it thinking 'Wow, that Mary, what a nice gal." Or not so much if you prefer Florida)
It's cold "here" anyway and so I did not feel like bundling everybody up for 45 minutes only to play outside for five before it got too frigid to feel our faces.
But the kids really wanted to try out the snowman kit from grandma so they improvised.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Great image? Great band at least.
That's us. We're having kids so fast they're on fire.
Since many of you know already and Tim, (even though he was in denial till today) has managed to go way more public than I have yet, (thanks to facebook) I might as well make it official.
Baby #4 is due Sept 9.
I should have seen this coming, the signs were there. Tim got a second job at a baby store, I just posted about feeling detached in a good way from the baby crowd (there's some funny life irony) and whenever anyone asked if we were done having kids, my response was always "never say never". (though secretly I was not keen with being pregnant and delivering and feeding a newborn again.)
You see, I like kids. I love my kids. But I really don't do well with the extreme sleep deprivation a newborn causes so that personal demon is waiting patiently for me. My youngest child syndrome causes me to fly into fits of selfishness here and there. My first reaction when I saw the positive test was, "crap, now I can't go horseback riding for a while". Then it was "oh #$@&, I remember the nonstop crying". Then I wanted to crawl into bed under my horsie blanket and suck my thumb. (rather my two fingers-I guess that's what I did when I was little)
So after a little shell-shock and time, Tim and I are slowly accepting the fact that we are no longer in control of our home anymore. The part of head-of-the-house will now be played alternately by 4 evil children.
But what a blessing. Some folks endure so much pain and emotional suffering just to have one child.
Now we'll have 4 kids who can argue about which nursing home to send us to when we're old.
Marlboro Man's favorite sandwich today. Yummy. Great for the baby. They love butter. From now on I'll just say everything that calls for more than 1 stick of butter from PW's book is "good for the baby" and I'll eat two helpings.
Does anyone know of a good prego-exercise routine? I might need it.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I made French Breakfast Puffs last night and they tasted every bit like the butter soaked sugary niceness that they embody. A wonderful cross between a doughnut and a slab of that carnival fried dough.
Basic Breakfast Potatoes are just another way of saying home fries. This gives the very basic foundation recipe with a few ideas to kick it up a bit. I made mine with some Jack cheese and a little extra seasoning salt. This is a dish you need to keep tasting till you get it right. (sounds good to me)
I served it with eggs, (for me and Katie) bacon, and pancakes. My heart is thanking me right now I'm sure.
And the final recipe was the Angel Sugar Cookies. These I made a wee bit too large. (hers in the picture looked bigger to me) But they are delicious. (even if they don't have any chocolate in them) Flaky and delicate, they taste a bit like a cross between a shortbread cookie and a basic sugar cookie. I think I will have to add some chocolate to them, just to see what that's like. I have a candybar I could melt and drizzle over them. We'll see how motivated I am in the morning.
I overheard this earlier:
Katie: "You can't say raccoon!"
Shannon: "I can too! Raccoon! Duh!"
(my 3 year old baby) Katie: "My name is not DUH!"
I was impressed.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Every year I say "let's get a real tree this year" and we never do.
This year we did.
Usually the site below saddens me. The festive decorations are put away, the colorful lights are no longer twinkling and sparkling off all the glass and mirrors, the cheerful holiday melodies have faded back into the usual tired stuff on the radio.
And seeing the tree on the curb always makes me feel bad for putting it out there. Didn't it waft it's delicate pine scent and display our precious ornaments so well?
Didn't it provide happiness for the children as they raced down the stairs Christmas morning to check under it's noble branches to see if Santa came?
And now, does it deserve to be dragged out to the roadside in this bitter weather only to be slushed upon repeatedly by uncaring SUVs and snowplows?
Yes. Yes it does.
Because by the time I got this tree down, I was ready to put it in the shredder myself Fargo-style.
Not only did EVERY needle come off while undecorating it, there appears to have been a spider living in it as evidenced by the lovely web it wove around the star.
Then, as I unscrewed the pegs, and it fell to the floor, all the water from the base completely missed the bucket I had strategically placed, soaking the hardwoods and turning all those fallen needles to an oh-so-fun-to-clean-up-mushy pile.
So, yes, it was a good tree, but now it's time to let go.
The last day this week of my PW's recipe challenge was cheese grits and mocha brownies.
I halved the grits and it still was plenty. (she cooks for many more people)
They were just as promised: cheesy and delicious. The cayenne pepper gave it a nice kick and the cheddar and jack cheese were smooth and flavorful.
The brownies need some work though.
It says to use an 8x8 pan. I don't think so. I don't know how high her pans are but this filled mine to the top. And bake time was not 40-45 minutes as the recipe said, but more like over an hour. Next time, a 9x13 for decreased baking time should do it.
Now I can't be too critical of the frosting because I didn't make it mocha. Tim and I both don't care for coffee and I don't even like just it's flavor, (but I do enjoy the scent--what's up with that?) so I substituted with whole milk. It was very yummy but waaay too much. (5 cups of powdered sugar and 2 sticks of butter) Especially for the teeny 8x8 pan. The picture shows a slathering of frosting on hers, but I think that's overkill. Plus there wasn't enough room to lay it on so thick because the brownies were already brimming the edge of the dish.
And both the brownies and the frosting called for 3 tsp. of vanilla each. Since I don't buy vanilla by the gallon, I cut that back a bit.
Now after all this critiquing, I can still say that the food was very yummy. The grits were warm and comforting and the brownies really were delicious. The process just needs to be tweaked a bit to fit my kitchen and it's capabilities.
Next week's menu:
Monday: Basic Breakfast Potatoes and Angel Sugar Cookies
Tuesday: Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich
Wednesday: Chicken Spaghetti
Thursday: Comfort Meatballs, Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Homemade Ranch with iceberg wedge. (meatballs may change to meatloaf)
Friday: Macaroni and Cheese
And maybe another dessert thrown in there, just because I want to.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I'm not putting up pictures today because frankly, I don't feel like it.
Also the meal was just plain ugly.
You really want to see it?
Ok, but don't say I didn't warn you.
I burned 'em good. The recipe said bake them for 11-14 minutes. So, because I live dangerously (lazily) and figured I'd save the hassle of resetting the timer for one more minute five times, I set them for 14 minutes.
They were nice and crispy.
Doesn't this look appealing? Kind of like some leftover special effects from the movie Alien?
And how is the special breaded coating supposed to stay on the meat?
Because every time I make this, (ok, the 2 times I made it) it falls apart and looks a mess.
It tasted ok but look at the gravy! Somewhere somebody from the set of Jaws is looking for the missing props of blown up shark meat.
I decided to have veggies too so I added canned mixed ones from Aldi's. Another mistake. I didn't even save the leftovers.
I'm not going to rate this one because had I done it properly, I may have been able to give it a fair chance. Instead I'll let the poor memory of a crappy cuisine be layed to rest.
Dinner was fun too.
I served leftover spaghetti and meatballs. But the spaghetti was a hodge-podge of different shaped pastas so I took the time to weed out the spaghetti strings for Daniel in anticipation of his defiance to eat such a meal. (he has eaten it before, but not enough to qualify it as familiar food)
"I want more sauce! Where's the sauce?"
"We don't have any more, but look! I gave you all strings."
*louder* "I want sauce! I'm checking the cuvords for sauce!"
*me impatiently* "We don't have any! Sit down and eat."
"I'm making chicken!"
"NO YOU ARE NOT. THIS IS DINNER. EAT IT OR DON'T EAT!"
Now he's making velociraptor noises and raging around the living room and yelling at me.
I told him to go to time out for his behavior and he buried himself under all the couch cushions.
Then Shannon says "Can I have Dan's spaghetti?"
Then everything was back to normal like a violent tornado had blown through and now we could safely come out of the storm cellar, slowly.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
He looked girly with his lovely curly locks and I looked boyish with my wicked cowlick and chubby cheeks.
Today's menu: Simple Perfect Chili and Skillet Cornbread (except due to lack of a skillet, it was more like glass 8x8 square pan cornbread)
Good 'ol comfort food today. I'm not in love with chili but since I didn't add any optional ingredients like pinto beans or kidney beans (really? yuck) and I was out of jalapenos and I forgot to add the diced tomatoes due to a last minute rush to the store to get a brownie mix because dessert is a must, I really liked it. So it really was "Simple" and almost "Perfect".
Even without the cheese. I can't remember it all. Though I was really kicking myself for that one. I forgot the cheese? Horrors.
The cornbread was delicious. I usually only like the box kind, homemade has always ended up dry and bland but this recipe was flavorful and moist.
Tim gave the meal a 3. (out of 5, 5 being the best)
And Monday's enchiladas he gave a 4.75. He said he needed to leave room for improvement.
Yesterday's migas and guacamole would not have been a fair assessment from him due to his hatred for all of the ingredients in those dishes so bullet dodged there.
But I gave them a 4.8.
Ok, enough words for now. It is only Wednesday.
*Leslie Sansone 3-mile workout today to make up for the lack of veggies consumed.*
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
It turned out for the best that Tim got called in to work at his second job today because he would have been pretty hungry seeing as how he just plain doesn't do guacamole and he doesn't like eggs in the slightest. (main ingredient in migas)
Once when we were first married I decided to make him eggs for breakfast because that's what people who love each other do. They prepare meals the other despises on purpose just to make them prove to you how much they love you by eating every bite.
I had no idea he was not fond of eggs.
And he ate every bite.
Then when I discovered the truth I cursed him out for not coming clean with me at the time.
I never claimed to be a nice bride.
My baby girl on the other hand is the one other being in this house I can share my passion for what I once referred to as frog brains. (was that it? it's some reference to The Muppet Movie I can't quite remember) Then I tried it again without looking at it. (still talking about guacamole here, in case I'm losing you) Then I decided it was delicious. I know it's not pretty stuff but it's so yummy.
Together we mopped up that guac. like a five year old gorging on a precious twinkie at a playground full of hungry bullies.
The migas were not her favorite, though she nibbled on all my pepperjack cheese before I even put it in the dish.
Then we watched some of Coraline in 3-D. (it came with the glasses)
Monday, January 4, 2010
The party was fun, complete with a hot tub, great food, a pinata, and plenty of other kids. Except we didn't go in the tub, (forgot our suits) our supershy offspring did not interact with any other kids, and the pinata... well long story short, a meltdown (Daniel) kept us from staying till midnight.
So home we went. (it really was a great party though)
Kids are in bed by 10:30 and Tim and I stayed up to watch the ball drop like the party animals we are known to be.
It's 11:53 says Ryan Seacrest.
Then it's 12:13. Whoops. We both slept through it. Always next year right?
Also on this challenging vacation, (meaning how do we keep the kids occupied enough so they don't maim each other Aadams Family style out of boredom) Daniel got to see the Monster Jam show and his favorite truck up close.
See how excited he is?
I understand he at least perked up later, when no one was looking.
Anyone remember this era?
Today was day one of my PW's fat and tasty cookbook recipe marathon.