Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good Eats

We very rarely eat out and I cook almost every night (it's my passion and my hobby.) I don't always post our dinners (probably because I'm too hungry to snap a picture before devouring them) but if they are any good, I save the recipes. I have stack of recipes next to my computer in my "do something with these please" pile. Today I pass the pile onto you.

Blackened Chicken and Beans from Taste of Home, Dec/Jan 2010/11
serve with or over green salad

Soft Fish Tacos from Taste of Home, Dec/Jan 2010/11
Yum (feel free to omit the avocados...I'm not a fan)

Creamy Vegetable Chowder from Taste of Home, Dec/Jan 2011
It was a bit spicy for the family but I loved it.
I served it with Italian bread made from frozen Publix dough.

Larry's Favorite Prune Cake
I made this with our New Years Day meal. The round cake represents coming a full circle which (from what I've heard) brings good luck to the new year. I'll take it!

Lemony chicken Saltimbocca
from Cooking Light Jan/Feb 2011
everyone ate this!
I served it with the Wilted Spinach variation of Spinach with Garlic Vinaigrette. Follow the third paragraph under "Preparation." Lauren loved this side dish.

Cajun Shrimp and Rice
from Taste of Home, Dec/Jan 2010/11

Cheesy Meat Loaf Minis from Cooking Light Jan/Feb 2011
I loved the chunks of cheese. These were served with:
Two Tone Potato Wedges from Taste of Home Dec/Jan 2010/11

Spinach Tortellini en Brodo
from Skinnytaste.com
love her!

Cuban Sandwich Quesadillas from Skinnytaste.com
I made these for dinner the other day. We all devoured them and then Matt made himself another one to take to work with him the next day. These were that good. They were so good that I e-mailed a friend who is opening a Cuban Restaurant in the coming months and requested a similar recipe to be included on the menu.

I hope you click on and enjoy these recipes. Good Eats to You All.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Party Barn of a Weekend

(such a stretch for a title but I'm feeling unimaginative right now...sOrRy)

This was the weekend for birthday parties.

We went to two adult parties and one kid party. (Mr. Mike turned 40 by the way. Wow! my friends are getting old.) Many thanks to our two awesome baby-sitters. Unfortunately (or fortunately,) there are no pictures of the adult parties.

We do, however, have a couple pictures of Ian's Scooby Doo themed 5th birthday party. It was a big turnout and a lot of fun. I'm thinking we need to hire out Ian's parents to host our birthday parties.

Tyler and Daddy giggle over something

Lauren (on the right) is about to win the hands-free-fruit-roll-up-eating-contest.
That's my girl!
(birthday boy on the left with the not-so-hands-free approach...(busted))
Today I received something I purchased from Pottery Barn.com. Check the label for yourself...it definitely says Pottery Barn.
I opened it up to find this packaging on the inside. Doesn't that say Williams-Sonoma?
I immediately tracked down Matt and interrupted whatever important thing he was doing. (preparing to take the recycling in)

Me: "Hey Matt, look at the packing inside the Pottery Barn box. I didn't know they were the same company?!
Matt: "Well, that makes perfect sense."
Me: "The excellent quality right?"
Matt: "No, they're both ridiculously expensive."

Bah Humbug!
I'm still waiting on one more box to arrive before I can complete my latest home improvement project. Until then you'll just have to admire these Pottery Barn/Williams Sonoma boxes.

And that's all ya get tonight. Happy Monday y'all.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

David Bowie sang about them before Matt and I were born and now they are finally making their way to our house. I'm not sure these were the Changes he sang about...but ch-ch-Changes are coming our way.

First off, a package of THIS arrived at my door step today.

I thought we were doing just fine with our money. We don't have any debt except for our house and an interest free loan on our vehicle. (Props to our interest free loaner!!!) We pay our credit card off every month (no matter what.) Yet, Matt insists we will both learn from this. I'm game, I guess. If I think we are doing well right now then what's wrong with doing even better? right??

The other change coming our way deals with the kiddos. This Christmas, said kiddos received many...way too many electronic devices and games. If given the choice they would play these day in and day out. (Wii, iPad, Leapsters, computers, DS, TV)

Matt and I have both noticed a change in their almost always pleasant attitudes. And let it be said, a change for the worse. I asked Matt (the Excel expert) to come up with a spreadsheet to help us keep track of the children's "screen time." ("Screen time" includes any and all time in front of an electronic device...gaming devices and TV all included.)

They are both (very liberally) allowed 120 minutes of "screen time" per day. This spreadsheet will help them be accountable.

Let's hope it works!

"Time may change me but I can't trace time."
(I'm not sure how these Bowie lyrics fit in with my blog post but I needed a closing.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday Fun

Matt (my favorite husband) took the kids to Tera and Tyler's Grandma's house for some Sunday fun while I stayed home ALONE. It was nice to relax and have some "ME" time but after seeing The Pictures Matt Took I really wish I had been there.

Without further ADO,
The Pictures Matt Took:

Tyler on the Rock

Lauren and Tera
(my daughter happens to be the one without the helmet)
(please remember, her Momma was not there)

Lauren rocking her big girl bike.

Good Friends!
(l-r: Lauren, Tyler, Tera, Cole, big Tyler, and lil Aaron)

Big Tyler and my Tyler pondering the deeper meaning of life....or something like that.

Uh-Oh who has the camera?
(Hi Mr. Matt!)

Oh...It's Tera.
Self portrait by Tera.

Playing in the "Daddy Long Legs"
(a.k.a. the Weeping Willow Tree)

And now back to the Rock.

My little Hercules and the Rock.
Sunday Fun!

Squash and Potato Soup

A few of you have e-mailed or commented for this recipe...including one guy. If a man requests a recipe for a vegetable soup then I better put it out there. So Enjoy!

Squash and Potato Soup
(from Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, February, 2011)

2 T. butter
1 leek (white and green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
Half of a large acorn squash (peeled (a pain in the rear but worth it,) seeded and cut into 1/2 in. cubes)
1 lg baking potato (peeled and cut into 1/2 in. cubes)
3 1/2 c. chicken broth
2 T. heavy cream
1 1/2 t. prepared horseradish

1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leek and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the leek is softened, 7-9 minutes. Stir in the squash and potato; cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the flour, then the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is thickened, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the cream and horseradish.

3. Eat and enjoy. This soup is DE-lish!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Iced In 2011...continued

School has just been canceled for our County tomorrow (Friday.) This is Snow-Day Number-Five-in-a-Row. Gossip on Facebook tells me we aren't having school because the county won't pay for anyone to come de-ice the school parking lots. Shouldn't our children's education be a little higher up on the priority list? Go sprinkle some salt already.

I hope this doesn't affect our winter break in February. We are Savannah and St. Augustine bound so I'm not sure what I'll do if they decide to make up the snow days that week. Q: Do I feel a nasty (perhaps pretend) family sickness coming on in the near future? A: No way! There is a possibility that Lauren and/or Tyler's teacher may read this. A#2: You never know. =)

After being iced in the past few days we were excited to be invited to a friends house for an impromptu play-date. 5 Moms plus 9 kids equals a whole lot of fun. I wish I had my camera because the kiddos had a blast.

Soon after play-date #1 ended we came home to host play-date #2. Jake and Dylan came over to play. (This time I had my camera out.)

Dylan and Tyler played Kung Zhu together:
Tyler refused to smile but Dylan looked adorable as always:

Jake played Superman vs. Woody:
And then all of them actually played together. What a great group of kids:
Dinner tonight was a delicious Squash-and-Potato Soup from my latest "Every Day with Rachael Ray" magazine. You need to try this because even Matt asked me to make it again. His exact words, "You need to make this again when we have people over." If a guy EVER says this about SOUP than you really should make it again and often. I can't find the recipe on-line so if you don't get the Rachael Ray magazine and you want the recipe please e-mail me and I'll type it out for you.

Tonight's bedtime stories were from the kiddos' latest Highlights magazines. The Post Office is finally back in service and L and T were very excited to get some mail. We love us some Highlights.
I hope all you locals enjoy your Snow-Day Number-Five-in-a-Row and to everyone else: Happy Friday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 and Iced In

2011 and Iced In. Get it? It sort of rhymes? (or maybe it doesn't, I may just be delirious from too much time indoors.)

They just canceled school for tomorrow, Thursday. This will be the 4th snow day in a row for Lauren and Tyler. Even though I haven't been very productive these past three days (honestly, I've been down right LAZY) I still get excited over snow days. I think this comes from my childhood in Oregon. It never snowed much but when it did everything shut down...kind of like Atlanta. I don't remember getting FOUR snow days off in a row though. And I don't remember all the preparation and clean up it took to go play in the snow. ugh! (Am I just forgetful?)

The Ice-In, 2011 (does that sound better?) started like this:

Before any snow hit the ground school was canceled for Monday due to snow and ice in the forecast. Tera was over playing at the time so Lauren asked if she could spend the night.
While the kids all played together?...

the snow/ice started to accumulate.

The next morning the kids all played together some more:

Tyler played Angry Birds
((more about Angry Birds))

while Tera and Lauren played together? on their separate computers.

Finally we went outside to play with the neighbors.
It wasn't really snowman snow since it was mostly ice
but it was great for sledding behind a 4-wheeler.

They're ready to go.

Tera and Emma even took a spin.
(Lauren absolutely (wisely?) refused.)

There may have even been some golf cart sledding as well.

The boys are ready to go again.

That night we watched the BCS National Championship Game between the Oregon Ducks and some team from the SEC...Auburn maybe.
Even though my Ducks lost, there was not any love lost on my Ducks. It was a close game that kept me on the edge of my seat.
We'll be back next year I'm sure.
I was really happy for snow day #2 on Tuesday since the game went very late into Monday evening (darn Eastern time zone.)

The last two days have not been above freezing so we've just played inside and enjoyed family time together. Even Matt has been iced in with us because the entire city of Atlanta is ill-equipped to deal with snow and ice.

Even though the roads in my neck of the woods are completely clear and safe (we ventured out to gymnastics and Walmart today) tomorrow we'll make the most of our 4th and this-has-got-to-be the last snow day.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2011 Week One

After Two and a Half weeks off the kiddos went back to school. It's no fun to get up early again but I'm happy for the schedule. I seem to be more productive with a schedule.

Tyler was wiped out after his first day back.
It must have been a tough 3 hours!
Bless his little heart.

Lauren decompressed after her first day back with a little DS time.

This week Tyler learned about the letter "U." Every Friday they are supposed to bring in an item for Show and Tell which starts with the letter of the week. He chose not to bring in one of Lauren's Unicorns so all I could think of was the University of Georgia mascot "UGA."
This should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the Georgia Bulldogs.
OREGON DUCKS all the way!

It's been chilly here lately and this is Tyler's favorite way to get warm.
Hogging the Heater.
We may not get him to move from the heater in the next few days.
From what I hear all over the news and what is obvious from my trip to Walmart today:
A Snow Storm is Coming Our Way.

They (the people on TV) are talking 3-7 inches of snow and then a 1/2 inch of ice on top of it starting Sunday evening.
The empty milk and bread aisles at Walmart prove this is the real deal.
I have to admit I'm excited. I think it would be just perfect if we didn't have school on Tuesday next week. That way I could watch Oregon play in the National Championship Game and not worry about only getting a few hours of sleep.

On a somber note...
This week we lost a member of our family. After 91 years, Grammy (Matt's grandmother and L and T's great grandmother) moved on to a better place. She was an amazing, spunky, driving a Prius in her 80s, full of life woman.
We miss you Grammy.

(Here she is holding a 3 month old Lauren in 2004)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Is it twenty-eleven or two-thousand eleven? Regardless, hooray for both of them.
Aside from the fact that I will turn a year older and my husband will turn 'yet another' year older I'm all for bringing in the new.

We welcomed the new year with a very kid-fun New Year's Eve (NYE) party with good friends.
The Dads (lots of Dad's at this party) were on swing duty for part of the night.
After looking at the above picture I just thought of two ideas for my next Valentines/Easter/Birthday/10th!Anniversary OR Christmas list. Grab a pencil and write these down!
#1 a new fancy schmancy camera so I can take better pictures. (I promise not to drop it in a toilet at Six Flags...pinky swear.
#2 a slab of concrete out the basement door. I just now decided to drop the requirement that it be stamped and stained and aesthetically pleasing. It's been five years now and I will be happy with just a plain gray chunk of concrete out there. (love you, babe!)

And now let's return to the kid-fun NYE party.
Even though it snowed just 7 days ago, this NYE we enjoyed mid-60 temps...all night long!
Warm winter weather calls for short sleeved shirts and some after dark lawn sledding.

For you Northerners cringing at our dead yellow grass please know it is just dormant. Come Spring it will turn green and stay green all Summer long whether we water it or not.

Tera has a bit of sledding swagger, I think.

After annoying the neighbors with the lawn sledding we brought out the big guns....
Sparklers left over from who knows when.
Sparklers were a HUGE hit at our kid-fun NYE party!!

(Tyler is in this photo but Lauren is not...can you spot my Mr. T?)

After the sparklers, we brought the gang back inside to wait for the NYE ball to drop.
I'm not sure what Tera was doing but Lauren looks quite tiredly alert.
After the ball dropped on Times Square, we kissed (cheek kissed because germs are gross) everyone a Happy New Year and at 12:01 we sent the kids to bed. Since Matt and I are total rockstars we made it until 12:31 before we said good-bye to /politely kicked out our guests. At 12:45 us rockstars were in bed dreaming of all good things to come in the New Year.

Happy New Year Y'all