Monday, February 28, 2011

And Then, I Totally Met Pioneer Woman.

On Friday, my MIL and I skipped town to head to St. Louis for a girl's weekend with my SIL, Danielle, who just moved there with her family. (Our other SIL Macy was also supposed to come, but ended up having to move to a new apartment in Lexington. Booo.)

Our agenda was simple: Lots of shopping, lots of good food, life-altering cupcakes, no kids, and meeting the Pioneer Woman. The freaking Pioneer Woman!

We kicked off the Weekend of Awesomeness Saturday morning at the LDS Cannery. Canneries aren't really awesome, per se, but being prepared is awesome, no? (And if you don't know what a cannery is or why we Mormons go there, go here.) We were kind of in the way of a big group trying to can over 200 cans of food, so we got a few things and got out of there pretty fast.

Next up, shopping at Chesterfield Mall. All I have to say about that is, OMG. And...we did well.

On to the cupcakes. I found a link to this cupcake bar on-line several weeks ago. I've been craving good cupcakes for months, so this was a must-stop-shop.
It. Was. Amazing.

That's a picture of the actual cupcake we ate, Chocolate Thunder, taken by Cheryl. The outside is beautiful, but the inside is filled with chocolate ganache. Yeah. We even picked up a couple of cupcakes for the Pioneer Woman herself. (sealed from Jilly's of course)

Then, on to the main event. The book signing started at 6 and as we drove by at 4:30 we were shocked to find a line wrapped around the building. And we were a little scared, too, because it was freezing outside and we're not cold weather girls. Or wait-in-line-for-hours kind of girls, for that matter, so we almost threw out the whole thing. But, our cookbooks we're calling to be signed so we toughed it out.

It turned out to not be so bad. They let us inside after only 30 minutes and then we got to wait in chairs, which is awesome to a huge pregnant lady who'd been shopping for hours.

Ree spoke for just a few minutes and took some questions. She was sort of shaky and said that these events never get easier and that she was extremely nervous, which I thought was sort of sweet. Someone asked her how she comes up with her recipes, which I'd been wondering myself for quite some time, and turns out most of them are old family recipes from both her and her husband's family. Awwwww.

Speaking of husband, he was there, too. Marlboro Man himself was there and I felt kind of bad for him because lots of middle-aged desperates kind of stalked him out, after Ree went to a separate room to sign books, and then started taking pictures of him and with him and asking him to turn around so they could take pictures of his butt, which he did, and the whole thing was just weird. But, as I observed from afar, he seemed to oblige each fan and seemed really very sweet. But really, you would be too if your wife was bringing in over a million dollars a year from a blog. Yeah. Over a million bucks a year. Wowza. (And that estimate is from my own research. PW is far to classy to divulge such information. But, still. A million bucks.)

After waiting for an hour and a half, we finally got to meet Ree. She is very sweet and a lot tinier than you'd think from seeing her pictures on the Internet and considering how much butter she uses in her recipes. We should have asked her how she stays so thin...
She also has a sweet, demure sounding voice, which surprised me because the voice I had always imagined her with while reading her blog posts is much throatier and sarcastic.
She asked if I was going to have a baby, since it is quite obvious and the shirt I had on made it much more so, and I told her it was my fourth and asked if she had any tips for me (since she is also a mom of four) and she said that I wouldn't even notice this one. Ha, that is kind of what I thought. After awhile things just start to meld together. She was excited about our cupcake gifts and we talked about her Chicken Fried Steak, which I made last week and burned the gravy and coincidentally she just posted the recipe on her blog, today. I guess she felt bad that a fan burned the gravy and thought she should clarify exactly how to make it, just for me. :)

We were really glad we stayed after we met her. And then we realized that we were famished, so we headed to P.F. Chang's and waited an hour and didn't get to even sit down until 9:30. And then the rest of the night is sort of a blur. I pretty much died when we got back to Danielle's apartment.

The next day I felt like total crap. But, T-bone took good care of me when I got home and I'll post about that tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hour by Hour

My days fly by. Especially days like today.

6:30 am - wake up to my husband banging around in the bathroom.
6:40 - Brycer snuggles up in bed with me.
6:55-7:38 - wake up Triston, see Travis off to work, help Triston get ready for school, breakfast, off to the bus.
7:38-8:30 - read the newspaper, yell at the kids to stop jumping on the furniture, put on cartoons, call the plumber and wonder if they are going to send the Ben Affleck look alike, pick up all the stuff that magically appeared overnight.
8:30- take a hot bath and just sit there. It was a long night full of peeing a lot and baby kicking. Blah. Completely ignore the little hands sticking under the door and banging in to it over and over and over. Ignore the laughing, too.
9:10 - have a mini crisis because nothing. fits. me.
9:30 - chase Bryce down to get him dressed. Wrestle with him and Jackson while they kick and giggle and carry on. I just want to put a sweatshirt on them. Sheesh.
9:45 - get the kids in the car. Run back into the house and trudge up the stairs to grab the checkbook. Go to the car and realize I forgot something else and have run back up the stairs again. Ugh.
10:00 - finally we get to leave.
10:10 - I totally forgot to feed Bryce and Jackson breakfast! (O.J. doesn't count, right? Even if it is the high pulp kind.) Oops. I forgot to eat, too...pull in to McDonald's. At least there is no complaining. Oh wait. Too early for happy meals. Complaining.
11:00 - make it to grocery store # 1.
11:10 - Jackson announces to the whole store that he has to poop. Run to the bathroom.
11:17 - Jackson announces that he has to poop again and pee this time, too. Back to the bathroom.
11:45 - make it out of the store in one piece.
11:55 - make it to grocery store # 2, which happens to be my nemisis -- Wal-Mart.
12:05 - Jackson takes off with the cart and runs it into an old lady. A seriously old lady. Thank goodness she just laughed and told me how cute the boys were. Crisis diverted.
12:10 - Bryce has to to the bathroom.
12:30 - make it out of the store and I finally decide to call my doctor about all the weird pains I had all morning when the baby kicks. Not cool. But he says he thinks it is fine and I'm good with that (not really, it freaking hurts.) and we're on the way home.
12:45 - pick up our girl scout cookies. Get really excited about this.
1:00 - unload all the groceries. Not to my surprise, my head gets smashed by the hatch that is hit or miss on staying up. For some reason, it is kind of funny now, but I was pretty pissed when it happened and I may have said a curse word. And I definitely cursed at Travis.
1:30 - too exhausted to make the boys take a nap. I just lay in the floor and let them do whatever they want, which involves jumping off the ottoman onto....Me. Snatch them up and tickle them until they promise to leave me alone. Yeah right.
2:00 - laundry. laundry. and more laundry. And snacks.
2:30 - check e-mail, read a couple blogs, peruse Pottery Barn. Daydream.
2:45 - break up a fight in the playroom. Get roped into playing "battle".
3:05 - Triston comes home. Homework for him, drawing pictures and cutting/gluing shapes for the other two hooligans.
3:30 - start dinner. Chicken Fried Steak from Pioneer Woman's cookbook so I have something to tell her when I meet her this weekend!
3:45 - yell at Bryce to stop pouring glue on the table.
3:50 - ruin the mashed potatoes.
3:55 - salvage the mashed potatoes.
3:58 - ruin the gravy.
4:10 - help boys pick up, they help me set the table and get plates together.
4:15 - eat dinner. Travis comes home in the middle, earlier than expected and says he can take the boys to practice. Score!
4:38 - read a couple of books with the boys. Stop an argument...over a book. Seriously?
4:45 - tell the boys to get ready for practice. Look straight into the eyes of the ginormous mess in the kitchen and suddenly get in a reallllly bad mood.
4:58 - boys are rough-housing upstairs and banging around everywhere and not getting ready. Bryce gets hurt. I get madder.
5:20 - encourage Travis to get out the door a little early. He is happy to do that. I instantly love him.
5:29 - tell the boys good-bye and start on the kitchen.
5:49 - all finished, now on to the living room.
6:00 - realize I am going to spend all my time cleaning and putting stuff away. I may or may not have sat down and cried. I definitely thought about it.
7:00 - finish up everything just as the boys are walking in the door. But I am in a much better mood and happy to see everyone. Bryce says he missed me. awwww.
7:10 - make milk shakes that I promised earlier. Listen to the boys tell me about practice.
7:30 - baths, teethbrushing, no bedtime story, and threats that Jackson better not try to scare anyone tonight, watch the end of America's Next Top Model.
8:00 - more. freaking. laundry.
8:20 - quick pedi.
8:35 - come downstairs to spend time with Travis and discuss important matters like me getting hit in the head with the hatch. Not cool. I have suspicions that he will not be concerned. And now I'm going to eat my favorite ice cream. Is American Idol coming on late?! Yeesssss!

Sheesh. Did that exhaust anyone else? I'm beat. (And I was right about the hatch. He just laughed.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A 7 1/2 Month Belly Shot: I Am Huge.

But first, I have to share a recipe with you that I made over the weekend. I made it for a potluck and didn't get pictures before. And after....well, there were only crumbs left in the bottom of the pan with requests from nearly everyone for the recipe.

One of my friends in Florida, Shara, who now lives in Idaho, brought this over to my house like 4 years ago. I begged her for the recipe and she gave it to me (a year later)...and I never made it. I have thought about it alot over the last 4 years and more recently because I have this weird obsession right now with jello...and you already know about my love of cool whip. It made total sense that NOW was the time to make it. So, I did and it was awesome. I should never have waited so long!

Peach Jello Dessert

3 oz. box of peach jello
1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 3/4 c. water

Bring all ingredients to a boil in saucepan until thick. And just a tip about cornstarch, it will not mix well into the liquid if it is warm. Add the cornstarch at the beginning and whisk until blended. Once thickened, pour into a bowl or dish and refrigerate until it just starts to gel up. And FYI, mine didn't get very thick.

While it is gelling, make a graham cracker crust bottom. I just bought already-crushed-up graham crackers crumbs, which are fabulous, but you have to add a little sugar. Store bought grahams are good too, though. Either way, add a little melted butter (and sugar if you need too) and press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish. Set aside.

Next, you'll need...

12 oz. tub of cool whip (YEAH!)
11oz. cream cheese
4 T. Powdered Sugar

You'll want the cream cheese to be room temp for easy mixing. Mix all ingredients with a high-powered mixer and let it go. I left my mixer running for a good 10 minutes just to make sure it was all blended nicely. But, a hand mixer will work,'ll just have to sit there for awhile.

Once your cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cool whip is all mixed together, you can add a layer of it on top the graham cracker crust bottom. Careful! It can be tricky because the crumbs want to come off the bottom. Just make sure you use a good spatula or an icing spreader. Keep the extra mixture on the counter for the top layer of the dessert...and leave it at room temp for easiest spreading. And no, cream cheese and cool whip won't go bad in just one hour sitting on the counter, contrary to what my argumentative lawyer husband thinks.

Finally, you'll need....

4 c. of peaches

The original recipe called for fresh peaches, but I used canned. 3 cans to be exact. But fresh peaches would rock. Dice them up very fine and add them to your almost set peach jello cooling in the fridge. Once mixed together, you can spread that mixture on top of the cream cheese layer. Now, put your almost-finished-dessert in the fridge to set completely, about an hour. Once the jello is firm, pull it out and carefully add the second cream cheese layer. Sprinkle the top with a few graham cracker crumbles just for looks.

Wow. I just made that dessert seem waaaaaay hard. It wasn't, though, I promise. And you can even use different flavors of jello and fruit. Next time, I am going to use strawberry jello with sliced strawberries. Yum. But, there is potential in every flavor and holy moly there are a lot of flavors of jello. I know, because in the last few weeks I have spent waaaaayyy to much time in the jello aisle trying to decide what flavors to buy. Ooooh. How about pineapple with pineapple? A little pina colada flavored dessert? I feel an experiment coming on!

And now...a story about my bump.

There is a woman at church who is due in 2 weeks. The difference between her and I? At LEAST 10 cm of circumference. She looks like she is about 6 months pregnant. I, however, am starting to look like a beached whale. Oh, and let's not forget that I have 2 months to go. It is not fair. I get compliments, though, from friends and strangers alike that I make a very beautiful pregnant woman. I am hoping that they wouldn't just say that, right? And I don't get compliments like that when I am not pregnant, so I'm running with it.

For your (and posterity's) viewing pleasure:

(Oops! After eliminating my red eyes, I also eliminated some of my skin color around my glasses! I had to go B & W to camouflage my mistake.)

Wrestling Superstars

It doesn't get much cuter than this. Seriously. And it doesn't get more intense than this, either. We've been doing sports now for 3 years. Soccer, t-ball, basketball, football and now wrestling. The boys are natural athetes and do really well in each sport, but wrestling is unlike anything I've ever seen. It almost makes me cry when I see my little babies using every ounce of strength and every fiber in their little bodies to battle for their position and try to "pin" their opponet. Of course, they (and Dad) love it and I have become a huge fan. Critics of wrestling and mixed martial arts say that it is too violent and brutal, especially for children, but when you watch your child, who was just in the fight of his life for however long that round lasts, get up and then help his opponet up and shake hands or laugh together afterwards, there is really nothing to base that idea on. (Even though there has been some tears and disappointment because of lost matches).

Also, just because I like to brag on my is an article about him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Valentine's Day Post.

The kids told me that I was the "best mom ever", but if they knew of the gifts that some children get for Valentine's Day, like iPod's and DSi's and tons of their favorite candies, they would surely retract their sentiments.

I was going to originally go the simple route and just place a heart shaped box full of chocolates at each of their place settings before dinner, but Triston came home on Friday from his Valentine's Day party at school with tons of candy and sweet little valentines from his friends. Then the grandparents got to the kids over the weekend (and again on Monday) and filled their little hands and hearts with more chocolates and more sugary candy. So the whole notion of bringing even more candy into our home left me feeling kind of pukey. You know, because for some reason morning sickness has come back into my life. It was my V-Day present from Mother Nature I suppose.

Late on Sunday evening, I sat down with a few blank index cards and a couple of almost-dried-out-markers and made little coupons for each of the boys and Travis to redeem at their choosing. I mean, really it was kind of lame, but the boys thought it was awesome, and I am happy about that. I guess I still have a few more years left to get away with drawing little hearts on paper and presenting it as a gift. Travis is happy with anything as long as I don't go out and spend a ton of money. The coupons said things like, 30 free minutes to stay up late, a choice of book, or dessert, or board game, dinner at McDonald's, and a "get out of jail free card" for Travis. Plus, Travis got an entire jar full of his favorite candy bar to keep in his office. I'm sweet like that.

I presented the coupons over breakfast on Monday morning with blueberry muffins in little valentine baking cups and scrambled eggs. This was the real treat because during the week I make everyone eat cereal or instant oatmeal. The saying, "A way to a man's heart is with food" or something like that is true. Even for the little ones.

As for me, I got cookies in my front door from a secret admirer, a huge bouquet of flowers delivered by a woman who stuck her face right up in the little windows beside my front door and even shielded her eyes to see inside a little better. Whhhhattt? Oh, a candle that smells like Maple Hot Toddy (??? it is delicious smelling), a lunch date with my valentine (even though I didn't feel good enough to eat), and tons of heart cut-outs from 3 sweet little boys.

St. Valentine was generous, but I am totally excited to take down all the Valentine decorations. I had to restrain myself several times last week from doing it. Now on to sorting baby clothes and kid clothes and doing tons of laundry. I guess Travis missed the memo of what I really wanted for Valentine's Day: Someone to handle that part of my life, for like....permanently.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Have No Title For This. No Pictures, Either.

My taste buds are doing a simple little dance tonight. BE-cause I treated them to....

wait for it....

orange jello with crushed pineapple and cool whip. 2 bowls of it to be exact, and I am not stingy with my portions. Plus, Cool Whip!

So simple. So good. So happy.

I just learned how to make it today. I know, right? I thought it would be self-explanatory but when it came time to make it I just couldn't figure it out. Do you put the pineapple in the dish first? Do you drain it or un-drain it? Do you mix the juice with the water? (yes.) Anyway, thanks Mom.

I'm having sort of a writer's block crisis. Actually, it is more of a life block crisis which just affects what I have to write. Not that I am some prolific writer or anything, but it sucks just the same. And since I've been doing the same things over and over and over thanks to our little friend Mother Nature (weather and pregnancy..translation: I'm too cold and tired to do anything) and T-bone's lllllloooonnnnggg hours at work (translation: I am a single mom), I'm pretty much in the loser category right now.

So here is a little tidbit of all the random-ness that goes on in my head. Warning: it is really boring.

I really miss Summer (but you already knew that) and I decided that if this baby were going to be a girl that I would maybe name her Summer, as a tribute. But the baby is a boy and we still don't have a name. Or really any stand-out prospects, either. Back to Summer...I am un-decided at the moment as if I am really excited about the coming one. For two reasons, the first because I am going to have an infant and my boys are going to want to go swimming. I haven't figured out a plan for this yet because my last two were born in October and November, respectively, and it wasn't an issue. And the second reason is because I am going to be fat and the summertime is not the best time have extra baby weight. Am I right or am I right?

I found out Jackson is scared of clowns. Not just any clown, but Bozo the Clown. I kind of found out by accident as the public broadcast channel showed a history of children's television and the tv was just left on. Jackson came in the kitchen and said that he thought that clown kind of looked weird and I said (without missing a beat), "What clown? The one behind you?!" That was all it took. He had tears and everything and said I was the worst mom, ever. I am still cracking up but he got me back when he wouldn't go to bed and I had to stay in his room until he fell asleep. I guess I sort-of deserved that. But he is justified, Bozo would never fly with kids today and let's be honest: he kind of looks like a modern day molester-type. Not that he was or looked like a molester then, but in modern times, it would be the first thing I thought of if he was around my kids. Anyway, talking about clowns is now off-limits in the house because Triston would have a field-day with this one if I let him. And probably Bryce, too. I caught him telling his same-age of 3 cousin that monsters were under the bed while they were visiting over the weekend. He was telling him this at bedtime and I think he kind of thought it was funny when Logan started crying. Do you think he got that from me? Crap.

I. Have. To. Pee. All. The. Time. I just wanted to throw that out there for extra sympathy since my husband has none for me. I guess the novelty of being pregnant and helpless wore off after baby number 1 , possibly baby number 2. Or, maybe he realized I was milking it for all it was worth? Yeah, pretty sure he figured it out.  :) (The happy face means I am kidding, honey.)

Did anyone see the new Groupon commericals?  Funny or inappropriate? HereHere.  And here. 

I quite possibly made the healthiest dinner ever, tonight. Green beans with new potatoes, steamed and seasoned baby carrots, homemade whole wheat bread, cherry tomatoes, topped off with a glass of milk (chocolate for me, but I was sneaky about it so the boys wouldn't know). The boys didn't even complain. I thought they would surely complain about cooked carrots, but they ate every bite. Then dessert, but I already told you about that. The orange jello?

And since this blog post just came full circle, I'm going to leave it at that. And maybe just have one more bowl before bedtime.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Super Bowl Snack or The Night I Saved Dinner

One day, towards the beginning of the new year, I was sick. And my kids were sick. The only one who dodged was T-bone, and he was working up a storm. At some point, I knew my children would be hungry and since I hadn't left my house (or the same pajamas) in a week, I literally only had 12 potatoes; 4 of which had gone bad,  2 frozen chicken breasts, some leftover green onions, 3 pieces of bacon and half a block of cheese in my fridge/cupboard. (also some various condiments and canned vegetables, which happen to help this story quite a bit at the end)

I put my thinking cap on and came up with potato skins. Not just any potato skins, BBQ Chicken Potato Skins. Here's how I made them:

First, I rubbed the raw potatoes with a little canola oil and baked them at 400 for about 45 minutes. When they were done I cut them lengthwise and let 'em cool just a sec all the while putting my measly three pieces of bacon in a skillet AND simultaneously putting my chicken on to boil.

Then, I scraped just a little of the potato out to make room for all the yummies that were going to go inside it. Kind of like a potato boat. I rubbed them down with a little more canola, sprinkled generously with salt, and popped them back in the oven, boat side up, for a few more minutes until they got just a little crispy.

Once my bacon was done, I crumbled it and set it aside. When the chicken was done and cooled, I shredded it and mixed it up with BBQ sauce, Sweet Baby Ray's to be exact, and then set it aside also. You really can't go wrong with Sweet Baby Ray's, right?

When the potatoes arrived at my desired crispiness, I pulled them out of the oven and filled each one with BBQ chicken, bacon crumbles, and cheese. I put them back into the oven for about 7 minutes more just to melt the cheese and then topped them off with sour cream (that I just so happened to find in the fride, remember? Luckily it didn't have mold growing in it yet) and chopped green onions. Sided it with my last two cans of green beans and suddenly, I had saved dinner.

I mean, it was pretty awesome. And these would be an awesome addition to any Super Bowl Party that might be happening this weekend. Except for the one that Travis thinks he is going to go to without me. I don't think so.

**Rubbing the potatoes with canola oil is a trick I learned from PW. She is awesome, too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kids are funny.

Our family, as drawn by 5-year-old Jackson. Guess which one is me.

And of course, Triston makes my day (because I made his by letting him stay home from school without a fever) by saying, "Mom, even though your belly is getting pretty fat you are still really cute. A cute fat lady," he says. And little Brycer, with O.J. dripping off his chin and eyes opened w i d e nods in agreement, with such excitement I might add, and suddenly I can't wait for another one of these guys to be around. Not because of the compliments, and certainly not that I wasn't excited before, but because they are really truly hilarious. And bonus! they will rub my back when I ask them to.

Case-in-point: Triston tells me about how he isn't friends with so-and-so anymore at school because he picks up eggs with his hands and shovels them into his mouth while exclaiming, "I just can't resist!" AND he farts all the time. Even though I gave him the spiel about being nice anyway, I was really thinking, "Man, if this kid was an adult, I wouldn't be friends with him either". You just can't make this stuff up.

Plus, the boys said I make the best pasta in the world tonight after dinner. Redemption. They catch on quick. For it was just a mere 24 hours since they told their Nana that she was a much better cook than me.

Whhhaaaat?! But, I'm pretty sure their dad thinks that, too though, so at least they get it honest, right?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The 1st of What Will Be a Great Month.

keeping ourselves entertained.
 Because it has to be, right? I am going insane with cabin fever; we've watched as many movies, played with as much play-doh, have drawn as many pictures, played as many games and toys, held as many talent shows, played as much Wii, read as many books, and have made as many forts, that we could ever possibly want to in a lifetime.

The weekend weather gave us just a teeny tiny bit of reprieve and we played basketball and took a few walks and now I am sick. Again. I am ready for my pity party or even better; a full-time job in South Beach that allows for four children to be in tow. 

But, in spite of all the blahs that are lingering outside, I have been having fun cooking in the kitchen, inside.  

You and everyone you know just has to make this: Chicken and Black Bean-Stuffed Burritos, courtesy of Cooking Light. I had been eyeing this recipe for a few weeks, wondering if it really fit the bill. You know what I mean? It sounded good, but you just never know, and I've got a ridiculously stupid talent of picking out new recipes that just....suck. But, I took a chance and It. Is. Fabulous. Like, I am obsessed, fabulous.

Here is the recipe.

Now. Just to make myself feel better, here is a list of things that are happening this month that, if I can just keep focused on, I might not give in to the cold and S.A.D. that is taking over.

  • a Pampered Chef party. Have you seen their basting brushes? Amazing.
  • seeing two of my little sweeties wrestle is a singlet. Ha ha ha...I can't wait. It will be the cutest most hilarious thing EVER.
  • my bro-in-law's birthday party, where I am hoping some kind of cake will make an appearance.
  • Valentine's Day, even though my husband thinks this is a stupid holiday (and I do, too) it is still fun to act like a love-struck doofus. (Balloons and a HUGE card for his office? Riot!)(I want fresh bright pink flowers, by the way.)
  • my mom's birthday party....more cake.
  • meeting the Pioneer Woman (and shopping in a 3-story mall!)(a weekend without the kids!)
  • The last good month for homemade hot chocolate.
  • ...and perhaps the best part of all to happen this month, the Girl Scout cookies I ordered will finally be in! Bring on the Samoas, because I am totally not sharing.
Wow. I feel better, already. Now, if someone would just paste beach scenes over all the windows and rub me down with coconut tanning oil every day...we might just make it this month.

Happy February!

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