Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Number 3 is 3.



Little Brycers is 3. Wowza. For his birthday, I told him the story of when he was born.
It was on November 30, 2007. I was scheduled for an induction at the ghetto hospital in Jacksonville that I can't even remember the name of now, but it was off Beach Blvd. and we lived off of San Jose Ave. and I remember thinking that it was a tad too far for my comfort if #3 decided to come by himself in mid-day traffic.

Luckily, that didn't happen. But he did throw me into labor on the scheduled day before I got to the hospital, which forced me to throw all my plans to the wind. I, being the seasoned laborer, remembered the horrific pictures of myself after my babies had been born. This time, I allotted a little time for me to take a shower, curl my hair (even though it was going to be up, at least my ponytail would be bouncy and cute), and maybe even dab on a little concealer and blush. But when I got in the shower, the contractions had me doubled over and were coming quick. I needed to get to the hospital before the window of epidural time closed. Know what I mean?

So I roused Travis by yelling at him and we flew out the door. There were more stop lights than I remembered and I demanded Travis start driving through the red ones. There was very little traffic at 5 in the morning, but he argued with me anyway. I wasn't amused.

We got to the hospital and I started throwing up. The poor nurse who was trying to get me to sign the papers looked kind of stunned when I looked at her blankly and said, "Where's the epidural release form? That's the only one I want to sign right now."

But I got it and everything was smooth sailing from there. 45 minutes later I started pushing and just after the 4th one, out popped a little black haired gem.


But all that black hair fell out and just a few months later he was a blondie, which should have been my first clue he would become a stinker just like his little blonde brothers. The kids do not have my genes.



And now he is 3 years old and is in love with Scooby-Doo. He thinks he is Spider-Man most of the time. He is picky and sneaky and completely adorable. He sometimes pees in his pants just a little and then tells me it is "Okay because it will dry," like it's no big deal. He loves riding his bike and being outside and will usually take a nap and eat his green beans without a fight because he says "it's good for me". He will run away from me if given the opportunity every. single. time. so he has to wear a monkey leash to town and it is the funniest thing you'll ever see...or he'll sit on the floor and refuse to move, then it's the worst thing you'll ever see. You never know which one is coming at any given time.


Happy Birthday little Brycers.  



Monday, November 29, 2010

To Card or Not to Card...

Everyone loves Christmas cards and I am no exception.

But, this year? Wasn't into it.

Again, we find ourselves moving (permanently!) during December; a reason in itself to not decorate and get all stressed out with...everything that goes along with it.

But, since I did that last year and it was no fun for anyone, I've decided to have some kind of serenity in my home this year. So, I bought a table top tree and mini decorations to stand in place of our 6 footer and I am making an awesome advent calendar for the kiddos (and the grown-ups) as a reminder of what the season is all about.

The rest of it? Staying in storage. (okay, I got a few things out) And even though I have little pin-pricks of jealousy when I drive past my neighbor's beautifully lit home with their ginormous picture window that allows me to see the decorations inside, too. I am okay with it.

And the cards? It was the one thing I could let go of this year without thinking about it over and over and over. Plus, it was one more thing I didn't have to do.

But, one night, I was bored and found myself blog hopping on stranger blogs I had no business looking at. One of the blogs talked about Shutterfly Holiday Cards and they had me hook, line, and sinker.

I followed the link and found myself ahh-ing and oooh-ing over all of Shutterfly's amazing holiday card collection. And then I knew. I am okay giving up my big tree, Christmas lights, and little decorations here and there, but after seeing all those cards, there was no way I was letting the card thing go this year.

Some of my favs?



 

There are just so many to choose from and my boys' sweet little faces would look perfect on one of these cards.You can find your favorites, here.

And, they have fun gift ideas, like calendars that you can design yourself using all your favorite photos. A perfect gift for Grandma and Grandpa, no?

The best part? Shutterfly is giving away 50 free photo cards just for blogging about how awesome they are. You can get the all the deets for yourself, here.

Happy Carding...

PS...Find anything odd in the above Christmas cards? Something most parents wouldn't do?!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A 4.5 Month Bump.



My sweet husband says to me today, "Babe, have you thought about your diet any?" But underneath that cute Southern accent, I actually heard, "Hey Fatty, why don't you scarf down another burger?!"

It's true. I have eaten terrible throughout this pregnancy so far. In fact, currently I weigh about the same as when I gave birth to Bryce, and I wish I were lying! I kind of fell off the face of the earth back in August when I first found out and since then I have exercised twice. Two times, that is it. And at first, it wasn't so bad because I wasn't really eating much either. I have since made up for it, eating everything in my path. I am constantly hungry and go back for seconds. Thanksgiving was a massacre. And as I'm typing I am scooping Captain Crunch into my mouth.

And if you can tell in the picture, where my hand is resting on my gigantic hip, I've got all kinds of cushion in places I've never had before. Here's a story...

During the course of three pregnancies, I have been able to wear my regular jeans up until about 5 or 6 months and then I put a rubber band around the button and go on like normal. This time, I can barely pull my jeans over my derriere at all. forcing me into sweat pants or maternity pants. It's quite terrible.

But, a little tiny sliver of myself is saying, "Who the hell cares?!" Because the world tells you it's only cool to tip the scales when you're expecting and even that is drifting away in today's society. No longer can women have months to get back to normal weight, it is mere weeks. Thank you, Hollywood celebrities, it's so great what you give back.

 I have got to focus on eating healthier, for the health of bebe and myself, but I'm giving in more than I would otherwise and maybe I'll pick up working out again. Just a little. This is my last baby, so when else am I going to have the opportunity to relish?


Next up...Black Friday.

It's addicting. I can't help it, I have to go. Most years, I don't even know what I am going after, and maybe I won't get anything at all, but the adrenaline rush is worth the ridiculousness of it all.

Being at home for Thanksgiving, my only option was Wal-Mart, which I believe is actually what hell might be like in real life. Not even on Black Friday, just on normal days. My bestie Amber and I met up and went in an hour early to scope out the deets. We ended up in different corners of the store waiting for employees to start opening the huge crates lining the aisles at precisely 12:01. She going after a Mario Snuggie and myself going after Hot Wheels, Remote Control Monster Trucks, and Play-Doh. After wading through the sea of shoppers, getting the backs of my heels ran into, and shopping carts into my bump we made it back to our meeting place, re-convened and then went back out to different areas. It was crazy. But a blast...until we were standing in line and I could feel myself start to black out.

All of a sudden I was sweating and thirsty and my eyes were getting cloudy. I ripped off my sweatshirt and pulled my hair up. I grabbed a Sprite and starting chugging. I was left weak in the knees, but it was Black Friday and what kind of shopper would I be if I freaking passed out? I pulled through it and by the time I saw the receipt and all the money I saved, the shopper's high kicked in and everything was back to normal.

Last but not least, check out this breakfast:


Steak and Eggs with Toast. A couple of week-ends ago, Travis whipped this up for breakfast and it just looked so perfect, that I just had to take a picture. And it was delicious. Things always taste better when you don't have to cook them, no?! Speaking of...I could use a plate of that right about now...

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Special Thanks to the Bebe.

Oh. My. Goodness.

What a wonderful Thanksgiving we had yesterday. The food was grand, the company even better. We have much to be thankful for this year (and every year) including:

All the kicking that is going on in my mid-section.

We find out next week what we're having. You can vote over there.

<--------------------------

(I vote boy.)



Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides: Mashed Potatoes & the Gravy

Everyone, I hope, knows how to make mashed potatoes. Here is my secret ingredient:

Fresh Garlic.


Thrown in the pot of boiling water, with the potatoes, garlic gives a great subtle flavor. Of course, once you add your butter, milk, and sour cream; your taste buds actually say, "Wow".  I just add a few whole cloves to my pot.

I was going to save the gravy for another post, but potatoes and gravy go so well together they deserve the same treatment here.

For the gravy, which could be one of the main components of Thanksgiving Dinner, I use this:

picture from mccormick.com

I know, right? But, you've got to cut corners somewhere and you really just can't go wrong with this gravy.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Christmas List.

This. Have you seen the infomericals? Intoxicating.

And I would love this to replace my standard bowl, but have you checked that price tag? Yikes. Throw this in, too. But if we want to get fancy, I'll take this one instead.

A print from my favorite artist? It would look great in my new kitchen!

I've been eyeing this for quite some time.

Oh! And definitely this. But, this would totally be even better! It's actually what I always want and would remedy the first link in this sentence quite nicely, don't you think?

Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thnaksgiving Sides: Green Bean Casserole

original picture from tasteofhome.com

I wasn't raised eating this casserole on Thanksgiving Day, which begs the question,
"Who else wasn't?!"

Now that we've had a few on our own, it was just within the last few years that green bean casserole became a staple at Thanksgiving dinner. I am assuming Travis' side of the family always had it and I must have picked it up there, because seriously? 

It is so good. And Thanksgiving just wouldn't be the same without it.

I've seen some fancy recipes for this dish. Some add soy sauce, some add Parmesan cheese, among other things. But, I like to keep it simple and the best recipe I've had (and maybe the only one I've had) is from the back of a can.

Del Monte's Green Bean Casserole. You can find that here.  I almost always use just a little more french fried onions, although typing those very words brought on the heartburn, so maybe not so much this year.

Enjoy!

Oh, and do go with the french-cut green beans. It's not a traditional dish without them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides: Sweet Potato Casserole

original photo from copykat.com

There are a few things I am famous for. This is one of them. I found this recipe in a magazine years ago and made it one year for Thanksgiving and it just kind of became a tradition all of its own. I can't remember where the original recipe came from, but I've added to it over the years, so now I claim it as mine.

Here's the thing with sweet potatoes: Most people either love them or hate them and if you have people of the latter variety it is hard to convince them they will actually like this. But, they will! Like I said in a previous post, everyone like sweet potatoes if there is enough added butter and sugar, which leads me to my next point.

Although this is an awesome side, it's not something you can eat all the time. Just because it is made primarily from a vegetable, it is not healthy and should be consumed sparingly.

Right.

Maybe that is true for the rest of the year but Thanksgiving is a "free pass" in my book. So get yourself some yams, or if you want to be difficult 3 lbs. of raw sweet potatoes and let's get to work.

Here's the other thing. This could be a dessert. I always serve it with the regular food, though, and it is a sweet little teaser for the actual desserts. But, like I said, it could be placed on the dessert table if you wanted it to. (But, you shouldn't. Take my word).

You'll need:

3 lbs. of raw sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked, or like I said just some canned yams and if I can remember right I think the 3 lbs. yields about 3 cups. I buy I of the large cans and 1 small.

1/2 c. sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
2 eggs
1/3 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

And for the best part, the topping:

1 c. brown sugar (or more, definitely more)
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. melted butter

Go ahead and combine the topping ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, mash the cooked (or canned) sweet potatoes. Add the stick of butter, eggs, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Pour into a 9 x 13 and crumble mixture on top. I almost always use more than the original recipe called for; maybe I double it. You can also add pecans if that is your thing. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Seriously, you will not regret this one.

Next up, Green Bean Casserole.

In other news, I finally caved and bought the most ridiculous pair of shoes ever.
orignal photo from strappy-sandals.com

I have hated "ugg" style boots since I first saw them, but I couldn't resist the sheep-lined wool insides any longer. Bonus: after a little research, I realized that the brand Bear Paw, sold at Macy's, at half the price of Ugg Brand is made of exactly the same materials. So score for me and everyone on my Christmas list. I have more left over for you. And now I am warm and happy and all is right in the world when that is taken care of.  But, that doesn't take away the feeling of ridiculousness I feel while wearing them. Just so you know, I don't stuff my jeans into the tops, even though it is cute on most people, it's not for me. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Auntie Anne's At-Home Baking Kit



The people at Auntie Anne's sent me their At-Home Baking Kit for review. I will admit, I have only bought a pretzel from Auntie Anne's a handful of times, but seriously, it rocks, no?

The kids were probably more excited than I was because I decided to make this into a family affair. And it proved to be a fine one. The baking kit came with very easy-to-follow instructions and was very kid-friendly.

The kit contains ingredients to make 10 large salted or cinnamon/sugar pretzels. Once we decided what kind each of us wanted, we went to work making the dough, which we were able to put in our stand mixer and let it do all the work for us.

After just 30 minutes for rise time, we were ready to roll out our pretzels. Step-by-step instructions on how to do just that were also included. The kids decided to make pretzel faces, but were able to make the classic pretzel shape as well based on the pictures from the instructions.

A few minutes in the oven and the pretzels were done. They turned out great. The kids had a blast making them and I think this is a really fun family opportunity. This would be a perfect activity to do with your kids around the Holidays or for family night. It would also be a neat gift for a kid on your Christmas gift list, especially an older child who could make the pretzels by them self, or I guess anyone who loves Auntie Anne's pretzels! I've got a few people I know would love this that might be getting a kit, too!

As for cons, the only thing I could come up with is that instead of enjoying a pretzel at the mall, we were at home. And, I'll take the mall, yes? But, for some, this is a huge pro, which is probably why Auntie Anne's came up with this product. Either way, you get an awesome tasting pretzel so it's a win-win all around.

The kit retails for $7.99 and are available at some Auntie Anne's locations across the U.S. You can find the nearest participating retailer to you here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides: Cranberry Jello Salad

This has nothing to do with the post, but isn't this photo lovely?

 Cranberry Jello Salad. AKA: The best holiday side ever....EVER.

So here's the scoop on the salad. By the way, does anyone else have a problem with calling a non-lettuce dish a salad? Whateves.

You'll need:

1 bag of whole cranberries
1 orange with the peel
1 orange without the peel
1 cup of chopped pecans
1 cup of crushed pineapple with juice
2 cups sugar
1 lg. package of strawberry jello
1 lg. package of lemon jello

Place cranberries and oranges into food processor and finely chop. You can also put in the pecans, if you like a finer consistency, but you don't want pecan powder, you know.

On your stove top, bring 4 cups of water to a  boil. Add Jello and sugar and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved, remove from heat. Add your just processed fruit, pecans, and crushed pineapple; mix well. Pour into a 9 x 13 glass dish and refrigerate until set; 3-4 hours.

Serve with whipped cream...but we like the cool whip around here. Or, at least I do and so that is all I buy.  Ohmygosh, I cannot WAIT to eat some pumpkin pie with cool whip! Ever tried the french vanilla on pumpkin pie? How about Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake? Do try.

As for the recipe, if it doesn't knock your socks off, I don't know what will.

Should we get the sweet stuff out of the way? I think yes. Next up, my special sweet potato casserole, that everyone loves (even if they claim to hate sweet potatoes!). Everyone likes sweet potatoes if you add enough sugar and butter, you know.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Make It on the Weekend. Or....Right Now.

On July 13, 2009 I posted about Simple Biscuits and Gravy, found here. I probably haven't made them since.

But, on Saturday morning, I was feeling saucier than usual, and by that I mean I was willing to serve something other than cold cereal or pre-packaged oatmeal, so I shocked indulged my family by making it again.
And, it was so good. And I could tell that they maybe felt more loved than usual, especially Travis. The old saying that a way to a man's heart is through food is so true.

So I am declaring that anyone who reads this blog and loves their family, or just yourself, should make this very recipe this weekend whenever the whole family (or just yourself) is home. Or, get all crazy and make it for dinner.

I think I am going to make it for lunch today.


The Cranberry Jello Salad is coming your way...just waiting for my mom to send it to me via e-mail. C'mon Mom!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just a Food Blog?


When Travis decided to run for office, I decided to let my blog go. Mostly because sometimes I ramble and sometimes I don't, but between politics and religion, which I totally think people should be able to discuss openly with no apologies expected, sometimes my mouth (or my type) gets me in trouble. And we're talking mostly politics here or how I may have sort of kind-of let my kids watch the same movie for, like, the whole day one time. Just one time! But still...

So I started just posting recipes with a little of our life thrown in from time to time. But now I'm free again to do what I want...and apparently I'm married to the chief law enforcement agent around these parts, so what is anyone going to do about it anyway??! :)

But, recipes are just fun, right? And it seems as if I am over the sick-all-day stuff that comes along with being prego. So I think the recipes should stay. But, I'm dying to tell someone about the craziness of being a first-time home buyer with four kids. You don't exactly qualify for "starter home" you know? To tell the story of how deranged our then-mechanic is and how our lonely little Durango is still at his residence after 8 months and how we've paid him 1,000 buckaroos and I'm pretty sure pieces of it might be strewn through-out Southern Indiana and what Travis has vowed to do to this man if only we could get ahold of him. It's a perfectly good drama, still unfolding I might add. Oh, and the ginormous on-going fight Travis and I are in over a Nintendo Wii.

Tell me, who is not interested in that?

And for the food. Tonight we had pancakes and bacon. It was awesome and easy and now if someone would only un-load the dishwasher and feed me Christmas Tree Cakes at this very moment, I would be happy for the rest of my life. Because you know, Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes are now available on the shelves of your local grocery and I already bought two boxes.

Oh! The picture above. It's almost Thanksgiving. I'm going to be talking about the marvelous sides. The real stars of Thanksgiving, in my opinion anyway. Stuffing. Mashed Potatoes with a secret ingredient. Green-Bean Casserole. Sweet Potato Casserole. The list goes on, but I am going to start with that blurry little red rectangular box you see above the words you are reading. It's the only exsisting photo we have of it because as soon as it is ready, it is devoured. By me. I ate almost a whole 9 x 13 of it last year. I can't wait to see what happens this year since I'm eating for two.

Cranberry Jello Salad is all I have to say. It's the most delicious divine thing I have ever eaten in my entire life, it's a family recipe that my Grandmother has passed down, AND it beats the socks off plain old cranberry sauce.

Stay Tuned.

Friday, November 5, 2010

POTATO SOUP!

My bestie down in Florida sent me this recipe after I sent out a call for good potato soup recipes. Besides burning it on the bottom and thinking I had bacon in the refrigerator and really didn't, this one turned out really really good.

I'll give you what she gave me, but I would make some slight changes. We'll discuss after...

4  baking potatoes
2/3 c all-purpose flour
6 cups 2% milk
1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled


1. Preheat to 400 degrees

2. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400 for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes; coarsely mash. Discard skins.

3. Place flour in stock pot; gradually add milk; stirring with a whisk (or fork) until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Add potatoes, cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir well until cheese melts; then remove from heat.
4. Stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup onions. Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Sprinkle each serving with cheese, onions, and bacon.

8 servings

Okay, so that is the original, but here's what I did/will do differently next time. By the way, the sour cream in this soup is amazing. Sour cream is currently on my favorites list, I even use it as a dip tortilla chips. So anyway, you need more potatoes. I used 5, I think next time I will use 7 or 8 and I will not mash them. I like chunky potato soup and this just wasn't chunky enough for me, so I will cube them after the skins come off, you know, after baking.

Next, I added 2 Tablespoons of butter and it was just delish. Every soup needs just a little butter, don't you think? I just plopped it in the soup after it was done, but you could whisk it in with your flour and milk at the beginning. Yum.

I found that I needed more milk. It became a little to thick for my liking (re-visiting gravy-like potato soup), so I just added more milk and stirred it in to my desired consistency.

Of course, bacon makes everything better and I will make sure I have some next time. Enjoy, and let me know what you think of it if you try it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

All The Hardwork Paid Off.


...and we pulled out the win!

Travis assumes his new role of elected prosecuting attorney on January 1. Not only did Travis win, but we have a new Assessor, a new Auditor, a new Clerk, a new County Councilman, a new township trustee, a new advisory board member, a new state senator for district 49 and hopefully a new state rep for 76. It was an amazing night for the Pubs in Posey County.


Thank you for all the support and help we received from our family, friends, and supporters. We could not have done it without you!

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