Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A new me for a good cause (WW)!!

Sorry, this one isn't going to be Wordless.....

A few weeks back I did something and I'm excited to share it here....

Click on it to see it larger--that is over 16 inches. If pulled tight it would be more, plus, as you can see, it measures in at 18 inches, but I did need a trim pretty badly. I've got the hair bagged up and will be sending it to either Locks of Love or Pantene's Beautiful Lengths (does anyone know of a good reason to send to one versus the other??). For some, this might be a drastic change...and it is for me, too. However, the last haircut I had was in May 2004 and I had 10 inches cut off and donated!! This seems to be my pattern. Grow it out, cut it off, donate it!!

So--are you wondering how much hair that left me with??

And, while I know the color of ribbon is pink--I still thought about Heather as my hair was cut off. I've followed her story and am amazed by her faith, courage, and honesty through it all. So, this post is especially for Heather!

For more Wordless Wednesday's (unlike mine), go here or here!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Popcorn Cake...YUM!

My MIL mailed me a picture of a cake she made recently....popcorn cake. It sure did look good. She shared the recipe, but also sent a nice big slice of it to the boys. It arrived today and it is as good as it looks. Logan isn't a big fan of nuts, so I simply *neglected* to tell him that there are peanuts in it. I figured he might not notice....really, it seems he does okay with nuts if you don't tell him they are there. However, he doesn't like salty nuts. This however, didn't seem to phase him. I don't think my MIL will mind me just posting a picture of the cake she made, as I've not made it yet. Logan's review: "Wow, that is a really yummy treat that Grandma sent!". So...thanks Grandma!!

Popcorn Cake:
Mix the following in a large bowl:
4qts. popped popcorn
1lb. of M&Ms
1lb salted peanuts (Virginia)
Heat: 1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
16 oz. large marshmallows
until melted. Pour over popcorn mixture stirring to mix and coat all ingredients. Butter an angel food cake pan and mold mixture into it. Let set.

**She noted that she only let hers set a couple of hours before removing it from the pan and it did kind of slump the next day. Perhaps let it set overnight.

Menu Plan Monday...

Last week we tried several new things. First, we had the caramel apple pork chops. They were pretty good. If you like pork and apples, you'll like this. My husband isn't a big pork fan and I'm finding it isn't my favorite either. However, we have some in the freezer and we will be eating it. I doubled the sauce and did it in two pans (one with the apples and one for the chops) rather than keeping the pork warm in the oven. Also, instead of just sprinkling the finished product with pecans, I added the pecans in with the sauce once I removed the apples.

I also made one of Glutten Free Mommy's crustless quiche to have on hand for breakfast. YUM! The only thing I did differently was I didn't add the onion because I didn't have any.

Next up is basil pasta with chicken, bacon, and spinach. It was sooo good.
1 bag basil pasta
4 Tbsp. Oil from Sundried Tomatoes (I just used olive oil)
1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed (I used breast)
3 strips bacon
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 large bunch escarole (or spinach), washed and chopped (we used spinach)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, slivered
Heat oil in large, non stick skillet over medium heat. Saute chicken and bacon until chicken is cooked, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and boil for 2 minutes. Add escarole grape tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes. Cover and cook until escarole is wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add into cooked noodles. Serve with Parmesan Cheese (we used freshly grated Asiago).

We also tried apricot pecan chicken. Also very good!! I doubled the sauce ingredients, except for the ginger (I'm not a big fan of it). Also, once the chicken was cooked, I removed it and added the pecans into the skillet and let them toast a bit. Then I added the remaining ingredients. I, too, spooned some sauce on the chicken and the rice. YUM!!

I also made the steak fingers, but didn't get a picture. I didn't start them in time to let them marinade, so I'll have to try them again when I can follow the recipe. I also didn't stick them in the freezer. I just fried them up. Still, they were pretty good and a different way to use up some steak that is in the freezer!

On to this week--------
*=new recipe

Monday--continental beef* (from this cookbook), noodles, green beans

Tuesday--tacos, rice, beans, salad

Wednesday--lemon butter chicken, lentil salad*

Thursday--burgers, sweet potato fries, salad

Friday--pretzel crusted chicken with cheddar mustard sauce* (saw it on Donna's menu), salad

Saturday--crock pot beef stew*, rolls, salad (I will be gone all day to an HOA training thing)

I'm also planning on trying a few recipes in this book that I learned about while visiting this blog. I'll let you know how that goes.

For more menu plan Monday fun, head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lazy and Oh My Gracious!!

This week's Flaunt it Friday challenge is to choose a word or phrase that describes your week. I choose lazy.....

I simply have not wanted to do anything this week. I've kept my house straightened up, but I did not really clean it...if you know what I mean. I did laundry on Thursday...5 loads, but I didn't fold anything. I did hang the hanging stuff so at least it won't wrinkle. I also slacked off on my cooking. I did cook on Monday and Tuesday, then we ate out on Wednesday because we were out until late, then I cooked on Thursday and we ate leftovers on Friday.

Yesterday I ventured out just to get out of the house (avoid housework) and we ate lunch at Wendy's and went to the mall. We went to Books a Million and I finally got a book to learn more about my camera. I was browsing the clearance items and turned around to see Logan sitting on the floor reading Dear G Spot. Oh my gracious!!

Edited: After reading this, I better clarify that Logan can't actually read, but he was flipping through the pages. Goodness...I hope there weren't any pictures....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fun in the snow (WW)....

We finally got enough snow to play in last week. I think we got about 2 inches.....better than the 0.5 inches we had before it!! This was Lucas' first time to play in the snow and he loved it!

Notice Logan making a snow angel!!

Lucas is enjoying the snow on his glove!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, go here or here!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday...

Sunday we went to Mt. Vernon for the basement tour. We haven't seen National Treasure: Book of Secrets (and probably won't until it comes out on dvd), but part of the movie was filmed there so they opened up the basement for public tours for one month only--and only on weekends. It was sooo cold out, so we basically only went to do the tour and then headed home. We stopped at Ikea on the way home. I was looking for a certain rug, but they didn't have it. I'll have to keep checking!

Last week I made green chili stew for the first time.  It really isn't a pretty soup, but it was sooo good!  One thing, the recipe calls for 4 large potatoes.  I think mine were large baking potatoes, so I only used two of them.  

Green Chili Stew (from Fix it and Forget it Diabetic cookbook)

2 T. oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 lb. extra lean ground sirloin
⅓ lb. ground pork
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 4-oz. cans diced green chilies
4 large potatoes, diced
10-oz. pkg. frozen corn
1 t. black pepper
1 t. crushed dried oregano
½ t. ground cumin
½ t. salt
1.  Brown garlic, onion, sirloin, and pork in oil in skillet.  Cook until meat is no longer pink; drain.
2.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
3.  Cover.  Cook on low 4-6 hours or until potatoes are soft.

We also tried the round steak sauerbraten.  I cooked it in the crockpot and wasn't home to check on it, so it over cooked slightly.  My crockpot turns to keep warm when the timer goes off.  If I had been home, I'd have checked the meat earlier in the process to see if it was done.  I browned the steak in the skillet and then put it with all other ingredients in the crockpot on low for 5 hours.  Next time I'll check it around 3.5-4 hours.  So, the steak was slightly dry, but the flavor was still nice.  We certainly ate it all up.

We didn't use two meals from last week, so those are carried over to this week.

*=new recipe
Monday--caramel apple pork chops*, brown rice, steamed broccoli

Tuesday--steak fingers*, tater tots, salad

Wednesday--basil pasta with chicken, bacon, and spinach* (I'll post next week if it turns out--the recipe is on the bag of pasta), salad

Thursday--continental beef* (from this cookbook), noodles, green beans

Friday--apricot pecan chicken*, brown rice, steamed veggies

Wow--looks like we will be having lots of new things this week!!

For more menu plan fun, head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Oh my....

Here is something that I thought I'd never have to say as a mother. Heck, I didn't think I'd ever say it at all....LOL!!

"Don't sniff your brother's butt."

Head on over to themommykelly's site and join in!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lucas and Molly (WW)

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, go here or here!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Update on Nate, Tricia, and baby Gwyneth....

In case you still haven't read about this family, I wanted to give an update and share some links that I really like.  Baby Gwyneth was born via c-section one week ago.  Since then, Tricia has been asleep due to the drugs she is on.  They are slowly weaning her off of the drugs and she is beginning to wake up.  Meanwhile, Gwyneth is doing pretty well.  She was born at 24 weeks, 5 days gestation weighing in at 1 pound 6 ounces.  Truly, this story amazes me, inspires me, and makes me hug my babies a little tighter.

Here are a few links to some amazing pictures.....

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday...

Last week we tried the twice baked cauliflower. It was very good!! I did make a few changes...mostly because I didn't have a couple ingredients that I thought I had. I was out of cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. I simply left the cream cheese out and didn't add anything in it's place. Instead of Parmesan, I just added in some shredded cheddar. 

*=new recipe

  • Monday--green chili stew* (from this cookbook), cornbread, salad----->if this turns out, I'll share the recipe next week!

For more menu plan Monday fun, head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fridge Photos....

This week's Flaunt it Friday challenge is to share pictures of the contents of your fridge. Lucky for me, I cleaned it out earlier in the week!! Being that this is our first home, this is also our first fridge to own...LOL! In all of our apartments, we've had the wire shelves in the fridge and a spill on the top shelf meant it would drip all the way to the bottom. I LOVE having the glass shelves. If something spills, it should be contained to that shelf only....especially because there is a slight lip on it. Amazingly enough, we've been here for almost a year and not had a spill to test my theory!! But, what I do find strange is all the crumbs. How does that happen?? It isn't as if I put food in there without it being in a container!! Anyhow...on to the pictures.....

Oh---I think by the looks of it, this picture of the fridge says that we love condiments...LOL!!

Here we have some ingredients for my new favorite salad!! I washed the kale, used my salad spinner (that I just bought on Tuesday...thanks, Tina), and bagged it in serving sizes!! I also wash and chop the celery and have it handy for salads or for just a snack!! I also have a Pink Lady apple. It is by far my favorite apple!! Truly, I typically don't like apples...especially not the skin, but this one I and all!!

Here are some apples that my husband spotted last time we were at the store. They really do taste (and even smell) like a grape!! They weren't in my fridge yet, but I wanted to share them with you all.

Head on over to Themommykelly's blog and join in on the fun!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fresh, Clean Boy!! (WW)

Okay, okay----so it's not wordless today--but close!!

Lucas HATES to wear shoes!!
Here....let Momma help you get that back on!
But Mom, I just got that thing off!!

Oh, Daddy taking pictures?!?
Oh----he IS!!
Wait, how'd this get back on??
I'll take care of that.......

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, go here or here!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Blogging family in need....

I ran across this blog just a few days ago. The wife, Tricia, is just over 24 weeks pregnant and has cystic fibrosis. Her CO2 levels are on the rise, she is having difficulty breathing, and difficulty sleeping. They are taking the baby via c-section either today or tomorrow. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.....

Here is link to a post where her husband, Nate, honors her.

Menu Plan Monday...

Last week was a little off. Monday and Tuesday we were out kind of late and ended up just having faster things at home than what I had planned, so I have two carryover meals from last week.  

Here is a picture of the chili relleno casserole. I've made it lots of times and we really like it. Now, it isn't low in fat, but it is low in carbs!! The recipe says to use a 9x13, but I use an 8x8. Also, I use three 4.25 oz. cans of the chilies.

We also managed to try out a few new recipes.  Here is a picture of the veggies ready to be roasted for my Ratatouille Soup. Now, I do like eggplant, but I think next time I make this soup, I'll omit it. Maybe add some yellow squash to it. Perhaps I didn't roast it long enough, but it had a funny texture to it.  But, overall, I think this a very good soup.  I especially like that I can have almost 2 cups of it and it is only 32 grams of carbs!!

Ratatouille Soup (from this cookbook):

1 small eggplant (3/4 pound), cubed (4 cups)
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 T. olive oil
1 t. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
1 cup dried cavatelli (I used rotini because I already had some)
1 (15 oz.) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1.  In large, shallow roasting pan combine the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  In small bowl combine the olive oil, Italian seasoning, 1/4 t. salt, and 1/4 t. pepper; drizzle over vegetables, tossing to coat.  Bake in a 425° oven about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring once.
2.  Meanwhile in a dutch oven combine the broth and 3 cups water.  Bring to boiling; add pasta.  Return to boiling.  Cook about 12 minutes or until tender.  Reduce heat.  Stir in the beans, tomatoes, and roasted vegetables.  Heat through.  

We also tried the spaghetti carbonara.  It was soooo good!!  Both boys loved it, too, so it will be a repeat in this house.  There is a lot leftover, so we can have it for lunch, too!!  

Spaghetti Carbonara (from this cookbook)

1 lb. dry spaghetti (I used one box of this)
1 lb. cooked bacon, crumbled (I love this---less mess and I get an awesome deal on it at Costco!!)
1 cup frozen petite peas
2.5 cups heavy cream
1 c. fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T. fresh Italian parsley chopped (I just sprinkled in some dried)
freshly ground black pepper

1.  Bring large pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain and set pasta aside.
2.  In large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat bacon pieces until they begin to sizzle.  Add peas and cream.  Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and boil gently for about 8 minutes.  Sprinkle in Parmesan cheese, stirring continuously until blended and sauce is slightly thickened.
3.  Mix pasta and sauce together in large serving bowl.  Garnish with chopped parsley and black pepper to taste.

Now---on to this week's menu:

*=new recipe

Monday--chicken tacos (shredded chicken with green chilies), salad for me, beans and rice for the boys

Tuesday--steak, twice baked cauliflower*, green beans

Wednesday--chicken sandwiches (similar to Marlboro Man's second favorite sandwich), chips (I'll have mine in non-sandwich form with a salad)--I'm using lemon butter chicken that I have in my freezer and microwaveable bacon. I know it won't taste the same, but I'm really trying to use only things I have on hand this week.

Thursday--Beef stroganoff, brown rice, steamed veggies

Friday--Marla's maid-rites (on buns for the boys--whole wheat tortilla for me-->kind of like sloppy joes), tater tots (for the boys), salad


  • cheese toast
  • oatmeal
  • toast and jam for boys
  • toast, eggs, bacon
  • pancakes for boys

For more menu plan Monday fun, head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Own your dream...

This week TheMommyKelly is asking us to own our dream. Here is the challenge:

"Perhaps this Flaunt It Friday each one of us could spend a post reflecting on that one special dream we have for 2008. The one we have been frightened to think of, let alone mention. Certainly it couldn’t hurt that much to hash it out, as identifying the dream is the first step to reaching it. In order to pursue it, we need first to “own” it. So maybe this week’s challenge should be all about owning the dream!"

So--the big one for me this year is finances. We've been a single income family for going on 6 years. I quit work when I was 4 months pregnant with Logan and one month before my husband was to be home from Korea. I had to get things in order for our cross-country move (CA to MD). Once in MD, I was nearing 6 months into my pregnancy and I doubted anyone would want to hire me. Once Logan was born, I truly wanted to stay home with him. As a child, I never thought I would be a stay at home mom. But--becoming a mommy changed me forever!!

When Logan was born, my husband was an E-3 in the Army and we were dirt poor!! All I have to say is good thing for WIC. For months, we only had $60 per month for our food, diapers, gas, and any extra. I got very creative with beans and rice!! My husband even worked a second job for a while as an escort. LOL....he worked at the NSA and when contractors needed to come in and do work, they had to have an escort that had a clearance go along with them. So, the work was easy (hubby just watched them work) and the pay was decent....meaning we could eat more than beans and rice!! Then in 2004, my husband got out of the Army and our income nearly doubled. Well, that made us feel rich, even though we are far from it. We threw another baby into the mix in 2006 and we went all out on him. We simply could not afford all of the fancy things with Logan and with Lucas we got pretty much anything we wanted.

In 2007, we decided to buy a home, and that caused our income to be stretched more. Really, we are only paying $100/month more for our mortgage than we were for our rent, but all the utilities and HOA fees, etc... put us spending a fair amount more than we were in apartment living. On top of that, we did live about 6 miles from hubby's work, but couldn't afford to buy that close to D.C. So, now we live further out and hubby has to spend more on his commute (both time and $$). We are a single car family as well, so hubby takes a combination of the bus and metro to get to work. We are spending close to $200 a month on commuting costs when we were spending maybe $40.

All of this to say, I want to fine tune our budget. It seems we were in two categories. 1. There was no money left to budget after paying bills. 2. There was plenty of money and we just bought what we wanted without a thought about a budget. We don't fall in those categories anymore, so we really need to write out a budget and stick to it!!

Head on over to Taken With a Grain of Salt to join in on the fun!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Years Day at Mt. Vernon (WW)

And now for the BIG news of the week!!!!!...........
My little peanut finally weighs 20 pounds (now that he is 22 months old). No more rear facing!
"Hmmm....I think I kind of like this!!"

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, go here or here!