Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cooking In Real Life

I worked at a pretty decent restaurant during my early twenties.  For five years I was a slave to the food and beverage consumers of Southern New Hampshire.  The good news is, from that torture I emerged a pretty decent cook.  I was lucky enough to work in an establishment that made homemade food, and the menu was pretty nice.  Throughout the years since, I have adapted my own recipes from items that were part of the menu I knew and loved so much.  I was a bartender for the last few years so I also learned that I Hate people.  Just kidding, but at the time I was a bit of a sourpuss so it probably wasn't the right fit in a job for me.

Anyway, I have come to enjoy cooking quite a bit.  I'm no Iron Chef so I don't attempt to cook food that I would have a hard time eating without gagging or that I can't pronounce.  I like to make wholesome and tasty food for myself and my loved ones.  If I had the time I would shop each day for fresh beautiful ingredients.  If I had time I would also get a pedicure every week.  But I live on planet Earth and time is super precious to me, especially since it seems to be in such short supply these days.

I have shared a few recipes so far and will continue to do so as regularly as possible.  Bear with me on the recipe writing as I am a complete amateur and have very little experience in cooking instruction, but I do have the desire to share a great passion of mine, hopefully paired with some helpful tips along the way.  Happy Cooking.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fancy Weekender

I walked out of Target today pushing my carriage around 10am.  I heard some heels tapping behind me so I glanced to see the woman coming up beside me.  For some reason, anytime I am walking around in a store I am surprised to hear the sound of high heels, probably just because I have hardly any interest in wearing them anymore so even though I wore them on a daily basis for years, I have a hard time fathoming how anyone could do it now.  In the past if I knew I would have to be shopping after work I would bring a pair of flats to change into for comfort.

Anyway, as I strolled out of Target wearing a sweatshirt and Capri pants with calf high imitation Ugg boots.  Not yet showered mind you, with not a single swipe of makeup.  I glanced at this woman who was wearing a mini skirt with tights, Pretty Woman style and thigh high boots, and a tailored coat with a waist tie.  Then I couldn't take my eyes off of her as she walked to her car.

I created a whole life for this fancy lady.  Starting with she was dressed up like this so early in the day for her trip to Target.   Clearly she had somewhere fancy to be and was merely picking up supplies.  My mind wandered to what it was like to wake up as a fancy lady. Wearing pajamas that match, lifting your silk eye shades off as you stretch to greet chirping birds outside of your immaculate home.

I felt myself trying to stand up a little straighter, and smoothing my sweatshirt, which I'm pretty sure had at least one stain on it.  But as I drove out of the parking lot and towards home, I came back to reality.  I decided that there was a possibility that this fancy lady had nowhere important to go at all and was one of those people that wears makeup to the gym.  If I was headed somewhere in which I had the opportunity to look nice I would certainly take it, however, I resolve to continue wearing sweats to Target!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Apple Crisp Pie

This recipe was inspired by my husband.  By his suggestion I combined my famous Apple Crisp with Apple Pie.  It's quite tasty and really pretty easy to make.  You can definitely make the pie crust from scratch if you wish, in my house it's just a bit more work than it's worth.  This was my contribution to the dessert table at my in-laws this Thanksgiving.

Apple Crisp Pie
1 frozen pie crust in tin pie plate
10 Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1c butter melted
1c brown sugar
1c flour
1/2c old fashioned oats
2T white sugar
1t cinnamon

Set your oven at 375 degrees.  In a large bowl toss the apples with cinnamon and white sugar

and place them into the pie crust.

In a separate bowl combine butter, brown sugar, and flour.  Mix until smooth and then add the oats.   Spread this mixture over your apples.

Put the pie onto a cookie sheet, lined with foil.  Trust me, it's going to leak!  Bake for 35 minutes or until topping has browned slightly.  

Hand, Foot and Mouth - Not Just for Kids

I've got a little man who is just getting over being sick for quite a stretch.  Last Wednesday night it started with a fever of 102.7 at 2 am.  I completely panicked.  My husband thinks I am a crazy person sometimes, which I am when it comes to certain things. I'll admit it.
"Call the doctor" I hollered at him as I re-diapered my son, fighting tears.
He said "It's 2 a.m! What are they gonna do? They are gonna tell you to wait anyway!!"
"Shut up and do it!"
He complied.
I began reading one of my many reference books which referred me to calm down.
"You don't have to call if you don't want to"
"I can't get through anyway"
We gave the boy some water and went back to bed for a few hours and he seemed great when we woke up.  Silly me tried to bring him to daycare, where they said he couldn't stay, as children need to be fever-free for 24 hours before coming in.  I brought him home and he took a nap.  When he awoke he was burning up.  103.7.  OK, doctor time.  They saw him at noon.  Herpangina.  Gross.
Doc said they can't do anything about it.  Just give him Tylenol and wait it out 3-10 days. He said to keep the baby home from daycare Friday also and he's good to go back Monday if he's feeling better.  It was a rough few days since this was his first time being really sick.  He was glued to me for the duration.
When Monday rolled around I figured I would call the daycare before wasting more time trying to bring him in and being shot down.    I spoke honestly of the symptoms he continued to exhibit, and the director said I should keep him home and call the doctor back, acting as if he had leprosy.  Okey Dokey.
I questioned the nurse at the doctors office as to when I would know he was cleared to go back and she stated that he should be fine to go anytime, and what he had was a strain of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease,  very common in children under five and is no more contagious than the common cold.
Tuesday we returned to daycare and work.  I had class at night and while sitting and listening to my professors lecture I could not stop staring at my hands which were tingling with some slight pain.  I had announced to my mother-in-law earlier that I believed this to be from sewing pins pricking my hands.  Logical right?
This morning I woke up to this

Not just for the under five years olds I guess.. Ouch!  Mind you this did not happen to my sons hands, but it is fairly painful and as you can see doesn't look very nice.  Some of these nice little blisters are in between my toes too.. Do you know where your hand sanitizer is?  Have you run to get it yet?


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lalaloopsy and the Crazy Gift Lady

Last week I was browsing online for some Christmas gifts when I came across something I thought would be really cute for my nieces fifth birthday which just happens to be in the beginning of December.  "Add to cart".  I continued shopping, on and off throughout an afternoon not paying too much attention to it.  After a while I received a message that my shopping cart had been updated.  Hmm?  Two items had been removed due to availability.  Interesting.  The gift I had chosen for my niece was one of the ones taken out.  At first I didn't think too much of it, but it was really neat so I looked elsewhere, and found it quickly.  Ok, not a big deal, that was easy so I did not purchase it at that time.

The next day I was ready to actually make some purchases so I first went for my nieces gift.  Nowhere had it available to ship.  Alright, I'll pick it up.  Nowhere had it in stock.  Uh oh.  Now this had become a big problem. At first it seemed like a nice gift, I had even seen a commercial for it on tv.  Now it was something altogether different.  I HAD to have it for her. It was becoming clear that this will be one of those hot toys that people get into fist fights over in the store when there is only one left, or sell online for at least twice the price to the schmucks who didn't have the foresight to shop earlier.

Devastated, I began rethinking the gift.  A few days later I thought I'd check again and there she was....


Available to ship.  Wasn't she a sight for sore eyes? A few mildly stressful computer malfunctions later, and she was mine.. well until I have to give her up to my niece anyway.  So I was pretty pleased to get the gift that I really wanted from all of this, but I think I may have learned a valuable lesson at the same time.

It has come as quite a shock to me that I am one of the crazy parents, and this gift wasn't even for my own kid.  I have seen a glimpse into my future.  When my son is old enough to care what his gifts are, it is likely that I will be one of the parents trampling over the others at midnight on Thanksgiving to ensure he has all the best stuff.  Sounds pretty materialistic huh?  I know!  Isn't it terrible?  I'm glad I've caught onto it early so as to avoid this future shame.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Part-Time Mom?

I often hear people use the term "Full-time Mom".  In general I believe this refers to a mother who is with her children all day and does not work outside the home.  So, does that mean that since I have the misfortune of needing to assist in the financial support of my family and thus lack the ability to stay with my child at home, I am a part-time mom?

 I present this question as food for thought, not as a judgement of any family's decision or ability to take part in either lifestyle.  I question myself sometimes.  Would I be a complete wreck if I was a stay at home mom? (the term I much prefer, by the way).  Would my son be better off?  I try and offer myself justification that he is better off as things are, with him going to daycare for about eight hours a day from Monday through Friday as a way to cope with it being something I just can't change.  I try.  I ask my husband probably on a weekly basis if I can quit my job yet.  To be clear, I have no problem working, and consider myself to be a fantastic employee.  I do see benefit in growing my career, I have a pension that I don't even have to contribute to, which is virtually unheard of these days.  I provide my family with health insurance, which I used today, actually.  None of this makes me miss my son any less.

Am I a good mom?  I think so.  It's hard to say that, with all the doubt you are filled with as a parent.  But I know I would literally walk barefoot to the end of the earth for my child if there was some absurd need for me to do so.  I am often brought to tears just by the thought of how intense the love I have for him is.  I will make every effort to do the absolute best for him in any way that I can.

So an answer to this question that sometimes clouds my head in the shower, or at a stoplight in the car.  Am I a part-time mom?  I think not.  Being a mom is inside me every minute of every day.  It is a part of every decision I make and everything that I do.  I may not be with my son as much as I wish I could be but he is always with me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

White Harvest Sangria

Sangria has become my go-to cocktail.  I love wine and I love fruit so it's a perfect fit!  I think the rule of thumb when making any sangria is to use wine that you like to drink as is, and go from there.  I like to keep it simple and not too strong so I don't add any extra liquor to mine.

White Harvest Sangria
1 bottle of your favorite white wine.  I used Barefoot Pinot Grigio
1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped
2 Forelle or other sweet Pears, cored and chopped
Cranberry Gingerale

Place the apples and pears in a bottle that is large enough to fit your entire bottle of wine, and then pour the wine over the fruit.  Let this chill out in your fridge for a few hours at least.  I love nice glassware, so I take every opportunity I can to use it.  If I had a little more presence of mind when I was coming up with this recipe last night I would have bought some fresh cranberries to float in the glass, but I didn't so I just poured some of the wine and fruit chunks over ice, added a few splashes of the gingerale and it was pretty awesome!  This is one of those things that you can really put your own spin on, and I will be sure to add more yummy concoctions that I come up with.  Cheers!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Beef and Bean Chili

Tonight is the last night of my husband being away on a fishing trip so I considered eating ice cream for dinner, but I decided on this instead.

Beef and Bean Chili
1lb ground beef
1 can (15.5 oz) light red kidney beans
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (not drained)
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 green pepper diced
1 yellow onion diced
1/2T white sugar
1t chili powder
1/4t cumin
1t garlic powder
1/8t cayenne pepper (this will keep your chili mild, so add more if you like it spicier!)

In a large pot brown the ground beef with the onion and pepper in the pot as well.  Place a colander in your sink.  Dump the can of beans into the colander and rise with water to get the slime off.  I know some people use the slime but I'm not one of them.  Once the beef mixture is done browning you can pour it into the same colander on top of the beans and drain out the fat.  Then add the contents of the colander back to your large pot.  Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot.  Simmer on low heat for at least 15-20 minutes until you are ready to serve.
Sometimes I will eat chili with tortilla chips and a little sour cream.  Tonight I went with corn bread and some Mexican cheese.  Yum!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Organization Challenge

Recently I opened up the cabinet in my bathroom above where I keep the towels.  This is what I saw.

Since I was going to be having visitors in the house I thought, perhaps it is about time to do something about that.  Have you ever gone to someone else's house and opened up a drawer or cabinet and seen something like this?  All I could think of was someone doing just that and seeing this lovely mess.  
I doubt anyone would be looking for tampons or sunscreen when they came over, but I know people can get curious... 
So I decided I would give myself a little challenge to try and organize my life or more specifically my house.  There are more little hiding places just like this one where things just get tossed.  Thankfully there is usually a door that I can close so I don't have to look at it!  I am going to tackle one project each week and share the results in hopes that I might inspire some other slightly sloppy people to do the same.  

I don't think I'm going to be featured in Good Housekeeping any time soon, but it's a vast improvement.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Since I have become so crafty recently, I spend an awful lot of time in craft stores getting supplies.  There are a two that I frequent one in particular because it is fairly close to my work and I can run in sometimes on my lunch break.

I was sad to find the first time I went in there on a mission in a short period of time that it took FOREVER to get through the checkout line.  I was late getting back to work and of course it was one of the very few times I had a meeting scheduled. Not the type of thing I like to have happen.

Yesterday afternoon my son and I went to this store and after I finished shopping as I approached the check out counters I tried to remain calm.  You see, the thing is this particular store uses manual cash registers.  It is completely baffling to me that this sort of thing could still be going on.  I am the first to admit that I really am not very technologically savvy, but I know that this is just ridiculous.  Imagine the horror of someone in front of you in line with a carriage full of small items, beads perhaps. It could take all afternoon.  It felt like that happened to me yesterday.

The line I pulled up to seemed to be the only one open out of the 10 or so others.  There was a couple people at the next register over who seemed to be doing something super important and so I pulled up behind the open line.  The fella doing something super important at his register beckoned me over.  I was happy to not have to wait, as most people would be.  So this guy was clearly newly hired at this establishment, and that's fine by me, I don't really get frustrated by things like that, he's learning, I get it.

Not only does this store have the manual cash registers, they apparently have no idea what the signs in their advertise as being currently on sale.  They have a sheet of paper like the one they mail out with the weekly ad.  And they have to inspect your items to determine if they quality.  Are you kidding me??  I had a five minute conversation about the batting I was buying with the lady who was supposedly training my fella, she even called over to the department to check.  Yup 30 percent off.  Like I said.   So this guy was super friendly and my kid was behaving so it was all good.  I didn't even sweat like I normally would when it takes me half hour to get checked out.  I probably had fifteen items.

When I got home I glanced at my receipt.  Batting... full price.. Awesome.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Momma's Meatloaf

My version of meatloaf comes from my momma.  I'm not sure if it's exactly the same as she does it but it's pretty close.  I think meatloaf is one of those things that just about every ones mom has a recipe for, and they are all a little different.  It reminds me of being a little kid and my big old family sitting at the dinner table.  I am the youngest of four, with three older brothers.  I don't wonder why my mom often cooked things that didn't take up too much time.  This isn't a fancy dish at all, but it tastes awesome and it makes your house smell like home cookin.. enjoy!

Momma's Meatloaf

1-2lbs ground beef.  (depending of the size of your family, I can still get away with just 1, but 2 will fill your whole loaf pan, and you will want to double the rest of the ingredients also)
1 egg
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 white onion finely chopped
2T ketchup, plus a few squirts on top

Preheat oven to 375. Place the beef into a mixing bow, add egg, oats, onion and ketchup.  Mix ingredients.  Don't be afraid to get a little messy, because it works best if you do it with your hands.  Once well combined place into a loaf pan and pat down so it's pretty even.  Squirt a bit of ketchup on top and spread around with the back of a spoon.  Bake in your preheated oven for 30-45 minutes until it is browned.

I pretty much always make baked potatoes with meatloaf.  Just wash your whole russets and toss em in the oven about 20 minutes before your meatloaf.  Last night I opted for some frozen steam-in-bag broccoli, and it made for a super easy dinner. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mouse in the house

We have a little intruder in our house.  Actually he's not really that little at all.  For the third timein about a week, this morning I watched a mouse scurry from the kitchen into the bathroom.. Eeeek.  We live in a pretty wooded town in a pretty old house so we come across some pretty horrifying things (actually sometimes I think I might be the only one).  My husband seems to think I am a huge baby about it sometimes, and I just might be.  but when you peel back the curtain and go to climb into the shower and find is a spider with a body the size of a quarter in there...yeah I don't think so!!  I don't want to gross you out but the though of even squishing it makes me gag, have you heard the noise those big ones make when you squish em?  gag, gag, gag....
My husband was on the computer in our family room this morning and I was giving the baby a snack in his high chair in the kictchen and I saw our little rodent friend go into the bathroom, I pointed this out to my husband who came to inspect.  I thought it was a riot that he seemed a little scared.  He said "Well I don't want it running up my leg or anything, I've heard about that happening".  He didn't search too hard for the thing.  We joked about the ways in which we would try exterminating it.  He said "if it comes out just step on it", I said "oh yeah, why don't I just stab it?" 

I think I will go down the tried and true method of purchasing traps but it gave me a good chuckle even if it is mildly disturbing. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Poppity Pop Musical Dino

I got pretty vigilant about reading reviews for products when I was pregnant, and this was because I had no idea about baby products....at all.  I remember going to Babies R Us to register for our gifts.  I was psyched about it.  And then about half an hour deep my husband and I had enough and just wanted out of there.  Anyhow, I spent the next few weeks altering our requests as I read through what others had said about the things I thought I wanted.  The world of children's products is quite foreign for a beginner.  But you learn quickly.  When we have our second child I think I have it figured out for a least the first few months, although I'm still a little foggy on the end of the first year since that's where we are at now.  With that being said, I am now buying toys.  Real toys, not just rattles and blocks, the good stuff.  And I believe I have made my first purchase I could regret.  Yesterday I purchased Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Poppity Pop Muscial Dino for Evan.


I though "Obviously, he's got to have that!"  We are in a bit of a funny place since his birthday is in two months and then Christmas follows just four days after.  I expect to be inundated with plastic and noise, but I've learned to accept it.  But for these next two months I am sad to think of him playing with boring toys.  So I purchased his first real interactive toy, and of course he was more interested in putting the little balls into his mouth as he does with most things.  Fine.  But, you would think I might have realized that the function of this toy is that the balls pop out and around.  Somehow that did not properly occur to me, and I spent the better part of my evening chasing 6 tiny plastic balls around my living room.  Lots of fun if you if you don't mind a little bit of running around!


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