Monday, April 30, 2012

Side Vegetable


Ina Garten - Food Network

We're having these tonight but for a special occasion, I like to add bacon.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Strategic Grocery Shopping Update



Moonlight Punch recipe from Martha Stewart!

2 ounces White Dog or Moonshine
1/2 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce Fresh Orange Juice
1/2 ounce Real Grenadine
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
3 blackberries muddled

Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice. Tope with club soda.

After Spring Break, I felt we had enough groceries to make it a week without doing my weekly shopping trip.  So, I decided to take a week off.  And let me remind you that a week equals 7 days, not the 5 days that MY brain assigns.  When am I going to realize and accept that CouponMom is right?!?

Before I knew it, I found myself making 3 "quick trips" that week to the store.  And when I added up the receipts, they equaled $150!  I wish I had pictures to show you.  I wish I had taken pictures of the three trips of a couple of items that ended up totaling about $50 shy of my normal trip... the normal trip that I wish I had a picture to show the cart which runneth over!

All in all, that week was a good lesson... I am reassured that strategic grocery shopping is working for our family: organization-wise, time-wise, and money-savings-wise.  Additionally, the week off taught me that, for us, it is best for me to continue shopping once a week even if it appears that there is plenty of food in the house because that might be the part of the cycle where we buy toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, conditioner, etc.

So, this week I found myself back on the horse, all organized and prepared and ready to get back on schedule.  I even had a few more coupons than I normally do- probably 10 or so?

When I checked out, the cashier said, "You saved $87 and that's the most I've ever seen!"  And then the cute, young mom behind me said, "You saved $87??!!  I'm surprised some bells didn't go off!"

I felt my face flush a little bit and I told her that my ever-so-thoughtful husband (wink) had ordered CouponMom's book for me on his ipad as a great New Year's resolution idea.  And she said, "Well, that's great!   If I were you, I'd be heading to Nordstom for a new pair of shoes today!"

Then another mom walked in and we realized all our children attend the same school.  I had this urge to tell them everything I do because it is not hard and I want everyone to save money where they can!  ...Become more efficient...  Save where you can... So you can spend where you want to.

One of my dreams is to work with Adam and make a one-size-fits-all easy budget system for couples because I think it is bigger than just money.  I truly believe it is a large part of our successful-thus-far marriage.  I believe it keeps communication lines open, evenly distributes the "power," and keeps a family's goals aligned.

And yet I also completely understand why a couple would not want to look at the numbers.  Numbers are factual, they don't lie, they can be depressing, and there is no room for denial or avoidance.

So last night when we attended a fundraiser benefiting homeless women and children, Adam heard they may have a need teaching the women who have found employment how to successfully budget and I hope that we are able to help with that.  ...Although, this is the same man who was serving a hopefully legal moonshine cocktail last night...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Books


Aren't books the best gifts!?!?!

When I got home from a book group evening, I found this book and note on my pillow.

"Hope you enjoy the book!!!  It personally is the best book I have ever read." ~Mary Fowler

She received it as a birthday party gift and loved it!  Although, she is a little like me and enjoys almost every book... so we aren't the best reviewers...



Nightly, we've been reading Peter Pan to Davis.  My sister gave it to him for his birthday and we are all enjoying it!  I never really got into Peter Pan (although it is my favorite ride at Disney World) but I am liking the story more as a book.


Our book group read this although I didn't get a copy of it in time so I'll have to read it later.  The story and area intrigues me as it takes place where the author grew up in Southwestern Virginia- a little further west than Roanoke!  I think all of the girls enjoyed it.

And here are just a few of the many books on my TO READ Goodreads list.

Rules of Civility
the Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness

For Women Only

Anything




Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baby Dinner Drop

Chicken Enchiladas from Cooking Light
(recipe below)
Yesterday I took dinner to a friend who recently had a baby- her third precious baby girl.  I signed up probably two months ago, had my phone alert me two prior, then one day prior... and still, when I left my house to make the delivery, you would have thought a bomb went off in my kitchen.

It's just dinner.  I make dinner almost every night.  So what makes this dinner so different?

A scary window inside my head:

- keep it simple, nothing too crazy, too spicy, nothing too "fishy", no red meat
(I think that leaves chicken and pork)

- make it comforting but not too bland, they may have received lots of "typical" already
(no lasagna, no mac and cheese)

- be sure it's colorful
(add a salad)

- roast the chicken breasts the day before so it has time to cool before you shred it

- better make the cookies the day before, too, so they're ready to go

- be sure it packs well, travels well, stays well, and looks somewhat appetizing when they open it

- and don't forget to buy disposable containers at the store so she doesn't have to worry with returning dishes

- and don't forget a little baby gift

- and get a little something for the older siblings so they don't feel overlooked

- oh, and make sure everything is wrapped up really cute
(better just go by the baby store that wraps things for you)

No wonder the kitchen is a wreck!  My thoughts are a wreck!  Why am I so concerned with all of these details?  I think I want to appear like everything is organized and under control.  So why am I writing about it???  Because I want to be honest that it usually is not.  (In my defense, I think I want to appear this way to bring some sense of calm to a probably overwhelmed new mom of 3... but still...)

After I had Davis, my wonderful friends brought us dinners and I was flabbergasted at how beautiful everything was!   Gourmet, interesting meals, packaged up all tidy,... and my favorite (because I refer to it all the time) homemade salad dressings!  I know it isn't hard to make salad dressings at home but for some reason that just stuck in my mind as the ultimate glimpse inside their family homes.  Some of my favorite recipes have come from these wonderful girls.  And I think of them each and every time I make their dishes.

These girls must have had their homes so well-organized that they were able not only to make a gorgeous, unique salad, but also make their own salad dressings!  This meant they had to know what they were going to make before they went to the store, buy the ingredients, prepare the food, and put everything together- packaged well... all before 5pm!  They all had young children... how did they do it???  Oh, and they also arrived at my house showered, dressed, and with their sparkling children buckled in their carseats.

I cringe to think about what they saw when they arrived at my house.  Probably a sleep-deprived, oily-haired, disheveled new mom with nothing to wear post-baby except big ol' maxi pad-holding bottoms and tops with hints of newborn spit up and  yellow poop.  The house probably looked like a disaster zone because I'm sure every toy we owned was pulled out for my three year old.

It became a passion of mine.  How do they do it?  How do they do it all and make it look effortless.  One of my friends said that if her kids nap, they have a nice dinner.  If they don't nap, it's PB&J that night.
Good advice.
Another said that she makes double of whatever her family is having that night.
Okay.
Still another said that she always makes the same thing for every new mom.
Like it.

I found that when I asked, and when we all got honest, we were all thinking and wondering the same thing.

So, when I dropped off dinner last night with my showered, dressed self and my sparkling Mary Fowler (eager to hold a newborn) I made sure I told her that by the looks of my kitchen she'd think I'd never made dinner in my life!  When is it actually going to be effortless??  I'll keep trying, but for now (as my friend Boyd says) we are all just doing the best we can.


Chicken Enchiladas

from Cooking Light



  • Preparation

    2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast 
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 2/3 cups plain low-fat yogurt 
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup (such as Healthy Request), undiluted
  • (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. 2. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Remove 1 cup chicken mixture; set mixture aside.
  3. 3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, brush oil over both sides of tortilla. Add tortilla to pan; cook 5 seconds on each side or until toasted and soft. Remove from pan; arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Roll jelly-roll style; place filled tortilla, seam side down, in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 tortillas, remaining oil, and remaining chicken mixture. Spread reserved 1 cup chicken mixture evenly over enchiladas. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese and green onions; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.




Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Not Look Cute on the Courts


Today I wore new shoes to my tennis lesson.  My family has always played tennis, and my childhood home was two doors down from the courts, so we would frequently hit the ball back and forth.  My dad, who at age 60 still plays 5 times a week, tried to “instruct” us a couple of times but those experiences remind me much of the recent commercial where the dad hits the ball to his 3 year old daughter, knocking the racquet out of her hand.   My two sisters and I grew up feeling totally inadequate but when we learned he was practicing his 115 mph serves (at us), it all made sense.

Now I have this wonderful gentleman instructor.  He speaks slowly, repeats himself, and he has a lot of patience.  He’s about 80 years old, and today I noticed that we also seem to have the same “tennis” shoes.  I’m a little sad because I think we might even wear the same size?!?  Don’t know about him, but for me it’s a 9W L 

Yesterday after my normal walk with a girlfriend around the neighborhood, I noticed the ball of my foot hurting so I decided it was time to get a new pair of tennies.

I walked into the same store we recently bought the kids’ shoes at New Balance and some nice, modern looking, sleek tennies caught my eye.  Not so fast...  The resident podiatrist (aka New Balance Manager) starting asking all kinds of questions because apparently a person needs different athletic shoes for each different athletic activity?!?  Who knew? I’ve had my current ones since college, I think? 

Currently, I told him, I mainly walk, play tennis 1-2 times weekly, and occasionally do a workout DVD at home.  Well, he latched onto that “tennis once or twice a week” and ushered me away from the small, sleek shoes and, instead, over to the ginormous, white, orthodic, cement block-like shoes.  These ARE your grandpa’s shoes.

I was so disheartened!  Why can’t I be a runner?!?  Actually, I think my plan is to convince the wonderful girls I play with to do what my mom and her "tennis girlfriends" do... they gave up playing and for the past 20 years have met for lunch, monthly.  That's more my speed, actually.

Luckily my foot hasn’t grown -in length- much since having 2 kids, although I’ve never bought a WIDE before!  Defeated, I tried to choose two of the least bright, WHITE options and my 9 year old, appearing from nowhere, glided by, rolled her eyes, and muttered under her breath, “a bit of fashion advice… get the purple ones.”

I had him throw in the honest-to-God orthodic inserts for my high arches (I’m only 35 years old!) and we were ready to check out.  Almost $200 for shoes I don’t even like!  But they do feel good… even if they are the size of my head…

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Davis' "Angry Bird"-day


Cake Pops from Etsy
For Davis' 6th Birthday, he had his little heart set on a party with his friends at Chuck E Cheese.  At least in these early years, my children usually choose the "cheesy" (literally?) birthday places.  And I know why... the kids have a GREAT time!  I am not the most silly, funny mom so I sometimes forget that kids just want to be  kids!  ... able to run free and wild and play games.  So better at Chuck E Cheese than my house where I have to coordinate everything!
Google images
Of late, Davis is obsessed with Angry Birds.  He very quickly passes every level and uses his money to buy the latest one on Adam's ipad.  We have had to be vigilant to keep game-playing to a minimum and buying this game (a birthday gift) has helped.


Angry Birds (which Davis tells me is so named because the birds are angry that the pigs have stolen their eggs) seems to me to almost be a little engineering/building fascination?  But maybe that's just a worried mom's justification?   Mary Fowler and Davis have spent many days outside building diorama-like nests in their fort.  So I also appreciate whatever they play t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r.

I do love seeing what activities, games, and hobbies the kids are drawn to.  I often wonder if these interests will carry over into adulthood (hopefully engineering, not Angry birds game-playing!)?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book



A new friend invited me to her book club and we read this.  It was a good, quick read.

From Amazon: What would happen if you were visited by your younger self, and got a chance for a do-over? 

Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she's actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.

A knock on the head has misplaced ten years of her life, and Alice isn't sure she likes who she's become. It turns out, though, that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that has ever happened to Alice.

I liked it!  I wanted to know what happened so I even stayed up until 2am one night reading.  Without spoiling anything, I *get* what happened... One of my *fears* is going along (without daily reflection of my big-life picture) and then one day waking up and not liking who I am or the life I've created.  Really through no one's fault... just not paying attention or just getting caught up in the day-to-day?

Maybe that's why I try SO hard to be so *intentional*?  I struggle with over-thinking things... I guess it all comes down to regrets- and I don't want to have any... or at least not many!

Stress About Stress


Still loving the streaming Netflix.  I might not have "paid money" to rent this video but since it was there, I watched it, and I enjoyed it!

It made so much sense when the researcher said that humans actually *create* psychological anxiety and stress responses that should only be utilized when we are fighting for our lives.

Alleviate the stress, people!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Put Your Hair in a Ponytail Before Vacuuming Under the Sofa

This is what I get for attempting to clean my own house!  But, I'm here to help!  Learn from my mistakes, please.


 
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