Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Completely Selfish 2010 Top 10.

We have had an amazing year with lots of ups and only a few downs that I can think of. If I were writing my family's top 10, it would look much different...things like buying our first home, Travis' running for office and winning, coaching and playing on numerous sports teams this year, Triston's good grades in school, Bryce learning how to ride his bike over the summer, Jackson starting to read, finding out another boy is on his way,  ect. but this is my top 10. The things that I loved and relished in by. my. self. (and that is important, here), things that kept me sane, things that made my day a little brighter (besides my kids and husband). And they're in no particular order...

1. Girls weekend in Indy sans kids.
2. Living 5 minutes from Target for 5 months.
3. Bath and Body Works Lemon Vanilla Lotion.
4. Belly Band by Bella Maternity.
5. Zesta Saltines, Subway, and Coke (my prego must-haves).
6. Date Weekend in Terre Haute sans kids (also when our niece was born, so double whammy).
7. Cooking Light Magazine.
8. Getting back into Grey's Anatomy and catching up on past seasons.
9. Mid-night showing of Eclipse, and then seeing it 2 more times in the theater and then buying the DVD. And Edward Cullen's face. (By the way, where is the calendar I asked for for Christmas?!)
10. Zumba, and pretending I am a Brazilian hottie.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Black Bean Soup

I have been waiting weeks to make this. I don't know why it hasn't materialized other than the fact Travis thinks it sounds gross, so the one day I had time to make it he whisked us all out the door for Mexican. And I had a Chicken Fajita Taco Salad, which is just about the best food invention ever to come out of Mexico, and it trumps this soup any day of the week, so I wasn't sad.

I can assure you, though, the soup is not gross. Travis knows that, he has eaten it countless times. And it doesn't take a long time to make, either, I just have had some busy-ness going on lately and our dinners have maybe consisted of such novelties as frozen chicken pot pies and the like.

I know. But there is something about the winter that makes me buy those little .50 cent pies. And I confirmed with a friend--she buys them in the winter, too, so it is not just me.

I wanted to make the soup and post a picture, but since I haven't made it yet, and you should, here is the recipe that I received indirectly from Christy Astorga through a church compiled cookbook, so these are her directions, which I think suit the soup just fine:

1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium stalk celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
1/4 t. pepper
3 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
4 15 oz. cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can of corn, drained
1 16 oz. jar of mild salsa

Saute onion, carrots, and garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, and pepper -  cook 1 minute more. Stir in broth, 2 cans of black beans, and the corn. Heat to boil. Put other 2 cans of black beans and salsa in a food processor or blender until smooth and then add rest of ingredients. Simmer 15 minutes. Serves 6.

Back to me. I like a chunkier soup so I don't process my salsa and black beans completely smooth and I always add a little kick - cayenne or crushed red pepper to the veggies as they are saute-ing. As for garnish, we top our soup with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream. Oh, and you can sub the chicken broth for vegetable broth if vegetarianism is your thing. It's good either way.


I will be gone for an undisclosed amount of time. My Christmas present came a little early and I will be moving all my earthly belongings into our new house starting tonight. Let's see...this makes move number 13 in 8 years. But, this move is permanent since it seems we are signing pretty much everything but the kitchen sink (and maybe that, too) in the bazillion forms that are necessary, so I am calling move number 13 the *lucky move number 13. I was born on the 13th after all, on a Friday no less. (That last one might not be true).

And if you want to know something that is even WEIRDer, we moved from Brown County back to Evansville exactly one year to the day: Decemeber 18. It's a pretty rad story full of modern-day miracles and amazing blessings if you ask me. I will write it for you sometime because stories like that should be shared, right?

So the next time I write on this little pet blog of mine, I will be sitting next to a roaring fire in OUR fireplace looking out OUR window into OUR backyard contemplating the Spring and what we are going to plant in OUR already dedicated raised beds, among other some such things that go along with owning a home.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monster Cake

1 chocolate cake mix (and whatever you need to make that)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 jar of chocolate ice cream topping
1 small (or large!) container of cool-whip
Your favorite candy

This cake is unbelievable. Unbelievable. Make your cake according to package directions. I usually use Devil's Food Cake because, Hello! It's delicious.

When your cake comes out of the oven, take the handle of a wooden spoon or something similar in size and poke about 9-12 holes in the top of the cake. Pour your sweetened condensed milk over the top and let it seep through the holes and down the sides. You don't  have to wait for it to cool, just poke the holes and pour the condensed milk already! Next, using a small spatula, gently scoop out the contents of the jar of chocolate ice cream topping. Spread evenly over top of cake.

Now for the best part, the cool-whip! I know I've mentioned how much I love cool-whip, but seriously, I freaking LOVE cool whip. So I  bought an extra-large container because you better believe I am spooning it directly in my mouth. But before I do that, I will be spooning a nice thick layer on top of the cake.

Now for the namesake. I don't really know why it is called monster cake, that is just what my dear friend told me the name of the cake was when she gave me the recipe (and made one for me after a baby was born!) years ago.

Choose any kind of candy or candy bar that sets your heart afire. The first time I made it, I chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups and sprinkled them on top. It was rich and delicious. I've used M & M's and Kit-Kat, which are equally awesome. You could probably even use Nerds or something ridiculous like that. But, for tomorrow, I am using broken up pieces of Starlite Peppermint. You know, a little holiday flair for the Republican Party Christmas dinner. And, the peppermint gives a little minty kick, which situates perfectly on your taste buds after a yummy meal, especially when it's cold outside.

Now I know you want to see a picture of this cake in all her Christmas glory and I will attach a picture of it as soon as it is made in the morning.

Oh, and the cake should be refrigerated. I am gathering you got that, but just in case, you don't want to leave your cool-whip topped cake sitting out on the counter over night. :)

Also, you'll want to check out this blog post. All I have to say is, "Yum" and "Can't wait to make those!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Epic Fail

 a warmer day than today

Today is one of those days. An Epic Fail kind of day, as I like to call it. Let's start from the beginning.

I woke up this morning with high hopes of cleaning the bathrooms and getting all the laundry done, but I toiled around the house and really I am not sure where the time went. At exactly 11:17 a.m. I finally got around to putting the first load of laundry in, but when you live with 4 (almost 5!) dirty guys the laundry ends up being a massive pile the size of a small mountain. So the two loads I actually got done today didn't even dent the pile. Oh, and the bathrooms are still dirty.

Then, I intended to march in to CVS and demand a refund on these DVD+R's that I was told by an employee that I had to use when downloading from my camcorder. Turns out he was wrong and I was left with an $18.00 opened package of CDs that I will never use from a store that I am pretty sure doesn't do refunds. But, after taking Triston to school and I felt how cold it was outside, I came up with every excuse not to go.

Also, you should know that I forgot to feed my kids lunch today! In my defense, I wasn't paying attention to the time, so I gave them a late snack and they forgot about lunch time, too. But, still...this counts as an Epic Fail, too, right?

I realized that I hadn't done much around nap time, but Jackson was being incessant that he wasn't going to take a nap. I laid down with him for just a couple of seconds, but when I got back up, it was magically 1 hour and 15 minutes later. Almost time to pick up Triston, so no time to do anything I would have done while they were sleeping.

I let the kids talk me in to getting them McDonald's for dinner. But I really wanted to make Black Bean Soup, which is really good and healthy, and I could use a new recipe to post on here too, right?

Finally, I planned on wrapping all my Christmas presents tonight after the kids went to bed, but instead I zoned out on facebook and now I am too tired.

Here is what I did do...2 loads of laundry, I cleaned the kitchen (because I did make breakfast!), read books and played with the kids and let them watch way to much tv, took a shower and even shaved my legs, gave myself a mani/pedi, did some on-line browsing, day-dreamed about living in Florida again and made some tenative vacation plans, helped Triston with homework and got him to his Christmas play on time, watched his Christmas play while entertaining two jitterbugs and then even stood in line with those jitterbugs at the over- crowded book fair, now..I am blogging and next, finishing up Season 6 of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix Instant Play.

It is safe to say that this day was a total failure, even though re-living it just wiped me out. Tomorrow is the day. A brand new day and  I will get the laundry done, the bathrooms cleaned, the floors mopped thanks to a cup of spilled apple juice before bed, the DVD+R's taken back and those Christmas presents wrapped.

We hope, anyway.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Results Are In.

30 % of you voted boy.

70 % voted girl. 

Majority vote lost, and I am happy to report for the first time for four pregnancies, I was right!

My Mom and I did a little shopping to celebrate and we discussed important matters, like baby names and the proper way to pronounce our new Speaker of the House: John Boehner. I bet it was rough growing up with a name like that.

And if you're wondering: A girl would have been great, but I secretly wanted another boy. It's just a hard sort of way. Mommies of little boys will know what I mean. :)

PS: We are positive it's a boy...there was no mistaking it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The First of December

I wrote in a previous post that we are only putting up a table-top tree with mini decorations this year because of another move in December.

And there it is. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to holiday colors. I have to have red on my Christmas tree and in my home, and this year I paired it with green and white instead of gold as I have done in the past. Next year maybe I'll get crazy and do red and aqua.

It isn't much to look at, but it is better than nothing at all and I figured I will be able to use it somewhere in our new home next year. Maybe on an actual table-top though instead of our filing cabinet with a table cloth draped over the top, which just cracks me up. But I am trying to improvise since on Christmas Day we will be surrounded by moving boxes instead of a cozy Christmas-y space. If the Savior of the world was humble enough to arrive in a lowly stable, I can certainly be humble enough to celebrate His birth in a empty home surrounded by my darling family and to celebrate the season with family and friends. For that, I am overjoyed.

I have so many cute things planned that I will never get done. But, I am planning on making a few treats for friends and neighbors. I'm starting with my annual popcorn recipe I ripped off the boy scouts. It is an awesome foodie gift to give to guests or just to have on hand if you find yourself needing an extra gift or two. In past years, I have packaged it in goodie bags with embellished labels made from card stock and scrapbooking supplies or in Christmas containers. One year, I saved all my cylinder oatmeal containers and wrapped them with paper and embellished.  This year, I am putting it in a goodie bag tied with  pretty Christmas ribbon. Simplicity is my new motto.(and my New Year's res.)

Here's the recipe. (And some of you readers might be a recipient, anyway.)

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