Monday, February 27, 2012

Catching up on reading

I've been catching up on reading. I actually got all of my fiction catalogued and so I pulled all the books piled on the bedside table that I was half through...definitely short attention span! I blame it on constant kid interruptions! Anyway, so I'm trying to get all those half finished books actually finished - have to tackle the Nook next! There my problem is I forget they are there! Anyway, I just finished Murder Be Mocha, which is part of a serious I've read all of....this one focused on chocolate...and the back was full of delicious sounding chocolate recipes....that I can't touch right now......so hard! I will definitely be trying something come Easter!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blue-Skinned?

This is pretty cool - really is is just a genetic condition, but obviously before they knew that it would be looked upon poorly, but now - just cool to me (then again, I don't have it, I can enjoy it...).

Feeding a toddler

This is so true! I just love this blog! Seriously, I put stuff in bowls, they take it out and eat if off the food? Really? That's appetizing? Yet, they seem to think so....it is like they are saving it for later!

Man and the Motor Car

So this is a good one from Awful Library Books. This is a 1954 copy of a driving manual. SO helpful! But the pictures are a riot! And this is why we weed, people! This book would not help a new driver of 2012! Yes, an archives should keep a copy, but not a public library!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lauren Resek

Our friends new daughter - look that all that hair! Isn't she a cutie?

Memes

Okay, these amuse me greatly so I did some searching for ones that are on my professions!





Friday, February 17, 2012

Pasta Fagioli Soup

I made this tonight - yummy and very filling! We had it with rolls and really enjoyed it. This is a knock-off of an Olive Garden recipe that then I changed as I hate, abhor, detest beans (I love green beans, everything else, just gross!) so I left those out. I was scared to try this the first time I saw it as it said to include the juices from the beans and I figured it was needed for the broth, so didn't do it, but then I talked to my aunt (who sent it originally to me) and she doesn't use the juices, she drains her beans, so I went for it! The broth here is just DELICIOUS!! Now this is my version, if anyone wants the one with beans, let me know and I'll post it.

Pasta Fagioli Soup
Modified from Auntie Sue

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, sliced into coins
2 medium potatoes, cut into small chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (I didn't drain, just dumped it all in)
1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 (11.5 oz) can V-8 (okay, they said 12 oz, which I couldn't find...I saw this or what I used, which was 2 small (5.5 oz) cans)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp celery flakes (they actually put in celery, but I never have it, so this is what I use)
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 lb ditali pasta (you can use whatever you want, although you probably want something small)
8 cups chicken broth (I used 6, which I didn't think was enough, I'll use 8 next time and I use bouillion with hot water)

Brown beef, drain fat. Add veggies and saute for 10 minutes. Add rest of ingredients, except for pasta and simmer for about an hour. Cook pasta separately then add. (Okay, to do this or not...I actually just cooked my pasta in the soup this time, but it got overcooked when I had to hold it low for awhile (we were waiting on a friend) plus this makes a TON and I would want to freeze some next time and I wouldn't want to freeze the pasta (it gets soggy), so I probably actually will do it separately next time.)

Makes enough for an army......

Disappointed

I support breast cancer research - heck all research into curing diseases is a great thing! Obviously, breast cancer is a specifically important topic to our family. So we give money to this research area, but I will NOT be giving anymore money to Susan Komen. I have to say I'm extremely disappointed they fell into line with Planned Parenthood in the first place and then to cave into demands to continue support is just ridiculous. Totally weak and pointless. Planned Parenthood doesn't even DO anything for breast cancer. They've just proved to me their leadership doesn't have their priorities straight and I'd rather my money go to actually supporting a cure.

Respect for Rights of Conscience Act

Okay, my views on abortion (that it is murder, plain and simple) are well known, but I think we can also agree our government is trying to get WAY TOO FAR into our healthcare! Please support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR 1179, S. 1467), so government can't mandate what is in our healtcare. I think the overaching theme here is way too much governmental interference and we can all see the problems inherent here (once it starts where will it end?)! The Senate is going to vote on this as part of another bill, so mention Senate Amendment 1520 as well if you email your Senator.

If you'd like, you can read this letter from my bishop.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Baked Spaghetti




Modified from Simple & Delicious

1 pkg (16 oz) spaghetti
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
6 mushrooms, diced (they just used one medium onion I added the peppers and mushrooms)
1 jar (24 oz) spaghetti sauce (I just used my store brand, I think onion and garlic)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Italian seasonings (they just used 1/2 tsp seasoned salt, I used S/P and the Italian seasonings)
2 eggs
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
5 tbsp butter, melted
2 cups (16 oz) cottage cheese (4%, small curd)
4 cups (16 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook beef and veggies in a large skillet over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and seasonings. Set aside.

Whisk eggs, parmesan cheese and butter in a large bowl. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture and toss to coat.

Place half the spaghetti mixture in a greased 13 by 9 baking dish. Top with half of the cottage cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. This will be FULL! It barely fits.

Cover and make at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Makes 10 servings.


I saw this recipe and wasn't sure about it, but then I needed a casserole for a friend and it looked very comforting and something everyone would like. I mean, I like spaghetti and lasagna, so it seemed like a good match as it is mishmash.


This makes a ton (10 servings), so I decided to freeze half of the one I made for us (it was really yummy by the way, or I wouldn't be posting it). I found this site that shows the mold method so you can freeze casseroles without using disposal pans (expensive) or tying up your good dishes.



So this is my molded, frozen casserole....now the videos makes this look really easy to pull out....mine stuck, but then I used a knife to start it and it worked fine. The wax paper and plastic wrap came off easily.

In a gallon bag for the freezer. I'll let you know how it is when I bake it later!

Tarragon Chicken

This was really good! To make the point, Ray, who doesn't like cream sauces, loved this! We did it over buttered egg noodles and peas. Just delicious!

Tarragon Chicken

Modified from Everyday with Rachael Ray

***Needs a crockpot!

1 cup chicken broth (I used bouillon)
4 tbsp dijon mustard (I actually used honey dijon)
salt and pepper
4 lbs chicken (they used bone-in chicken parts (skin removed), so a mix of light and dark...I used all boneless skinless chicken breasts as that is what I keep on hand)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp tarragon (they used 2 tbsp fresh)
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp parsley (they used 1 tbsp fresh)
1 tsp tarragon (they used 1 tbsp fresh)
1 lb egg noodles
butter
1 bag of frozen peas

Pour the broth into a large crock pot. In a small bowl, combine the mustard, salt and pepper. Rub the chicken with mustard. Place the chicken in a slow cooker and top with the garlic and tarragon. Cover and cook on low heat until the chicken is tender, about 5 hours. Check to make sure chicken is at 165 if you use bone-in.

Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and cover to keep warm. Start cooking egg noodles and peas (separately). Put pan juices into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. In small bowl, combine the cream and cornstarch. Whisk the mixture into the saucepan and cook until the sauce is thickened; stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley and rest of tarragon.

Mix butter and peas into the noodles. Top with chicken and sauce.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So cute!

I walked in and saw this and thought it was so cute! Adam, by the way, can't ever seem to sit right on a chair.....

Cherry, Chocolate, Marshmallow Cookies

Okay, so it sounds weird, but seriously....these are SOOOO good! As in, can't stop eating them! You have to try them....oh, so yummy!
Cherry, Chocolate, Marshmallow Cookies
Modified from Picky Palate

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (they used 3/4 tsp but used kosher AND unsalted butter...I always use plain old butter...I actually did this both ways and either was fine, so I say LESS is better when talking salt!)
6 oz bag (approx 1 cup) of dried cherries, chopped (they used cherry sticks...which I couldn't find and I'd much rather have dried fruit anyways as theirs was some sort of jelly stuff (they have pics) and covered in chocolate, so I say mine in better and the dried cherries (while a little expensive, I will admit) tasted so good in here!)
1/2 bag (12 oz) chocolate chips (they used 2 cups chunks....me I used chips...I actually used an entire bag, but I think that was a little too much as then it loses the other stuff more, so I think I'll reduce next time, but go with what you want!)
1 cup mini marshmallows (you can cut up regular ones) (they counted theirs...so crazy....this worked right for me)

Preheat oven to 350. Line your cookies sheets with parchment paper! (I never do this...do it, do it, do it....if I did it, everyone should! Marshmallows and no paper make BAD combination....).

Place butter and sugars in mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Slow add in dry ingredients. Then mix in cherries, chocolate chips and marshmallows. This is a STIFF dough, so make sure to do this right away...once firms up, this is REALLY REALLY hard!

Bake for 9-12 minutes (I think mine took a little longer....I have issues about large cookies, though....). Use a plastic knife to push back in oozy marshmallow stuff when it comes out (seriously, plastic...I tried metal...not good!). Let cool slightly before moving (yes, do it...the marshmallows need to firm a bit before you can move them...again I tried....not good!).

Makes 3-4 dozen.

NOTE: These will freeze fine, even with the marshmallows in it....I tried and they worked fine. I freeze a LOT because of my overseas shipping so I tend to check this stuff, but if you just make a batch, don't plan on freezing any....you'll be eating them all.....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

New Cards

I didn't make last month's card making class, but got a "take home" kit and I think these came out pretty well!








Snow!

We actually did get a some snow - the boys even got some time being pulled on the sled!

Andrew

Andrew helping me vaccuum
Building a tower - notice the bowl of chips, though...just couldn't put that down!

Snow fishing

Break the Ice - Andrew's first real game!

Andrew managed to snag both his and his brother's snacks!
Comfortable?
Or this?
Sheriff Andrew
He had to ride the airplane IN his crib...



Adam

Helping me vaccuum!
Reading Bob the Builder! We are trying a new tactic to get him to hopefully nap - quiet time. He can only have a book and Alex and has to stay on the couch. That boys needs SOME rest...

Tower building

Fairy House (with Mom's help) - Adam loves fairies (Tinkerbell especially) right now due to Peter Pan (he also loves Captain Hook...not really into Peter himself that much, pirates are much cooler!)

Getting out candy...

Scrapbooks

I actually got a little scrapooking done! I actually have finished one (ran out of room) and started a second one for Adam!

Chai-Spiced Tea Loaves

Chai-Spiced Tea Loaves
Modified from Good Housekeeping

1/2 cup water
1 tea bag (black....I ended up using Prince of Wales, which wasn't strong enough, so I used English Afternoon the second time around and that was better)
3 cups flour
2 tbsp chai spice blend (heaping...they used 2 tsp....so not enough! I upped this and liked it much better....now it will depend on your blend. Remember I make my own.]
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
5 large eggs



Preheat to 350. Grease bread pans (I use Pam for Baking). I got 7 mini loaves or 2 regular loaves. You could also mix and match. I did 4 mini and 1 regular last time. They got 6 mini...it will depend on pan size and whatnot.

Boil 1/2 cup water (I did this in my teapot, then just measured it in a metal cup...they used the microwave in a safe cup) and add tea bag. Set aside to steep and cool.

In medium bowl, combine flour, chai, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, mix yogurt with 1/3 cup cooled tea. Discard remaining tea (not sure why...to weaken it? I might just do 1/3 next time....).

In large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugars or fluffy. Reduce to low and beat in eggs. Beat in flour alternatively with yogurt mixture.

Put into prepared pans. Bake mini loaves about 30-35 minutes (mine took 30), regular pans 45-50 minutes (mine took about 50). Cool slightly, then depan and cool completely.

They made some topping. I did not.



This was good, not stellar, but good, a nice basic bread. I think this would be a good base for a really cool topping, like lemon curd or something.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

History Article

This is a neat article on the current research into where Native Americans first came from. I've heard about the land bridge of course (from Alaska after all), but this is interesting as it pinpoints where in Russia they originates.

Stay at Home Parents

This is a nicely written article on the benefits of one parent staying home. I think for many women we think we "have" to work or we aren't "contributing" which is SO wrong, on so many levels. You'd pay someone to watch your kids...what's wrong with you doing it? Just saying...as you can imagine, I often get remarks on "not working." First, I DO work. I have THREE jobs. First, my kids. They ARE a full time job! Second, I have two "part time" online jobs. I get the best of both worlds, which makes me really lucky. I also realize that all the time (and money) I put into my education paid off in giving me that choice as well. I didn't "waste" as it (that one really burns me...). And even if I didn't work from home, I wouldn't be "wasting" anything, FYI, nay-sayers!

I like that this article includes stay at home dads, which are on the rise. Hey, if the woman can make more (or have better benefits...a key deciding factor!), why not do a role reversal?

Like this article, I realize that not everyone has the choice for a parent to stay home, but I also think we don't always think through things like the costs of working which go beyond just things like child care costs.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Some Old Pictures

So from my sorting, some old pictures!

Mary and I, St. Benedict's College, Fall of 1998
Ray and I went we strated dating, Fall of 1998

Snowman

I found this project online and it is really easy and I think turned out pretty good. Adam and I did it and are sending to Auntie Mo overseas.




I got out my scrapbook punches so Adam could make the buttons and decorations which he loved.

Decorating the snowman

Some cards





Some recent projects!

Some pictures

Adam knows this book, so he "reads" it to me! He counts each page to see how many is supposed to be on it and since the book is repeative, he can "read" it just like me. He's so proud!
Connect the dots - Adam saw this on TV and had to do some! So we printed some off and went for it!
Making ants on a log - Adam also saw this on TV (thanks Oso) and had to make these. As expected, he wouldn't eat them, but he and Andrew ate a TON of "ants" (aka raisins).

Adam's birthday crown - his classmates at school made this!


Some old videos as well:


Part I...Again....

Seriously....so had the root canal today (so MUCH fun....), now have to wait two weeks, go back and do more, at the end they do an impression for a crown, which the lab has to make and then once that comes back they put that on and I will FINALLY be done....UGH!! And I also had a filling fall out last week so they filled that today as well. My teeth life sucks.....

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Ugh...is it over yet?

So I wanted to get going on a good schedule this week, but I spent the week (I know it isn't over yet...I'm hoping....) sick. I had a drippy nose all of Mon/Tues then finally felt better on Wed to be exhausted all morning and finally kicked that....to get a horrible sinus headache! I woke up in tears this morning over it! UGH!! Finally (knock on wood) doing better, but now my house is a disaster, I'm behind....ick!

On a good note, we had really warm weather (like 60) this week so took the kids out a bunch (rather than cleaning that's what I spent my feeling okay time on...thought that was a better use of my time) and then today was "free" day at the Natural History Museum so I took the kids there to see dinosaurs. I love museum hopping with the kids, but they wear out quickly so it hard to justify the cost when honestly an hour is enough for them at most places. But FREE makes it all good! So what if I had to drive an hour each way as the boys slept the way home which Adam SO needed! Again I should have probably cleaned, but oh well, they had fun!

So tomorrow, dentist appointment (please Lord, let it be the only one...I want this DONE!) then cleaning as we have a playdate here on Saturday. My weekends for February are full already....not sure how that happened...most of it with good things (except for something for Ray's work I find annoying....).