Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New Year, New Foods

I think the start of a new year incites people to try new things, make changes, and figure out how this year can be different than the last. It seems as if I have been inspired to try new things in the kitchen and so I have. Here are the recipes that I have tried since the beginning of 2007:

1. Prime Rib. I made this on New Year's day and was amazed that it could taste better than in a restaurant. I expected it to be complicated or fussy, instead of ridiculously simple. This wasn't the precise recipe I used, but it was very similar. I only left mine in the turned-0ff oven for 2 hours I believe. The crust was awesome too. Next time I will cut the prime rib in half so that there is more crust!

2. Penne with Vodka Sauce. This recipe also appears in one of Giada's cookbooks, which is where I got it from. It just sounded so yummy! This is the first time I've made homemade marinara {which also was a lot easier than I thought.} After making the marinara, I realized how much SUGAR most commercial pasta sauces have & sure enough, light corn syrup was listed 3rd on a jar I had in the pantry. This marinara tastes so fresh and tomato-y. I wasn't too stoked about the vodka sauce itself. Rick really like it though & the flavor seems to mellow out after a day or two.

3. Spanish Rice Mix. I have really been into making my own mixes for two reasons: frugality & health. You can be sure of what goes in them. If you find your spices at the dollar store & buy your rice in bulk, they can be pretty inexpensive. You can also control the sodium level {which unfortunately is very high in most commercial mixes}. I usually halve the recipes since my family is smaller & put the mix in a little snack size ziploc baggie. I keep the recipe card on the shelf under the corresponding baggies. Here is a link to a cookbook full of "Make Your Own Mixes".

4. Corn Bread Mix.

5. Antipasto Squares. Ok, so saying that these were a big hit is a serious understatement. At the party we just had, it seems like just about every person asked me for the recipe or what exactly was in them. They are a little finnicky to cut nicely and get out of the pan, but a big spatula works wonders.

I can't wait to try Beth's recipe for baked Amish Oatmeal. I am thinking it will be perfect for a Saturday morning breakfast. Another thing on my "to try" list is homemade onion rings. I have a recipe in one of Ina Garten's cookbooks for a buttermilk battered version. I think I might make them this Saturday for my birthday dinner along with a nice rib-eye steak. And for all you Olive Garden fans, I found this copycat recipe for their salad dressing which I thought might be interesting to try.

What's on your "to try" list for 2007 or what new things have you tried already?

P.S. I just had to mention that on Sunday night, Tatiana tried TWO new things for dinner. She actually ate several bits of fish {and liked it, although I just told her that it was "like chicken" so she really didn't know it was fish} and she tried asparagus. She didn't really like that, but this is HUGE progress.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Down in the dumps

Q: Where does the Lone Ranger take his garbage?
A: To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump!

I don't really feel like I have anything noteworthy or witty or interesting to say. I'm just being honest. Do you appreciate honesty? This week I just have been feeling "down in the dumps". Probably because Sienna was sick, then I was horribly sick, then Sienna was a bit sick again. Through all that, I still managed to homeschool three days out of our normal four, but for whatever reason, I still felt like I was failing at homeschooling well. I have sensed that emotionally I've been feeling down, but I don't really have any good reason why. {S.A.D? If you have it, you know what I mean.} Yesterday was a bright spot, being Sienna's second birthday. I even watched the clock as it ticked to the exact minute she was born & said a prayer thanking God for the blessing that she is & asking her to be with us for many more birthdays to come. That was a good moment. I was feeling slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of having a party today & tried as best that I could to release myself from making it perfect. I am feeling a little disappointed too that nearly none of our friends came to her party {along with several family members}. I realize that everyone has their own lives to attend to and that this occasion was about celebrating Sienna, but still a little bummed nonetheless. {Maybe my love language being quality time has something particular to do with it.} Another bright spot though is that I've got a lot of knitting done & have been bit by the knitting bug in a BIG way. I even read an entire book in 2 days {easily done since it was a hilarious compilation of a real-life knitter}. It's called Yarn Harlot. She also has a blog here which I've been enjoying reading. I found this super cute knitting pattern {really, it's genius} for a baby that I am definitely making {you pregnant readers might get some for your wee ones, so I'm not spilling the beans}, but unfortunately all the yarn need will cost $30. Maybe that will be my birthday present. I know. How lame that must seem to some people. I want YARN for my birthday. Just kick me.

The other item weighing heavily on my mental platter has been, without giving many details, the question of whether a sin is the same as a SIN. Does God view all sins the same way? I am having a hard time reconciling the fact that a little white lie {maybe slightly deceiving your child perhaps} could be put on the same level with, oh...say, adultery. Dear husband says, "A sin is a sin." I told him I was going to just fall back on my Catholic roots and sort sins in the venial and mortal categories. {Insert laugh from husband here.} He says one way to explain it would be to say that all sins are equally against God, but that different sins have different consequences.....I also say that it is worse when a person, who appears to be living a very holy life and is walking the walk, falls into a serious sin issue than for a person who does not give that same impression. Dear husband says, "Aren't we all walking around, to some degree, hiding sin in our lives, pretending to be one way on the outside and another on the inside?" Sometimes I could just wring his neck for the swift and appropriate responses he comes up with.

{Insert friendly-but-thought-provoking comments from blog readers here.}

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Letter for Laughs

If a conversation I had yesterday were a letter instead, it would've read something like this:

Dear {mostly} Wonderful Husband,

Please excuse the fact that I haven't brushed my teeth since vomiting sixteen times on Tuesday and I hope you can overlook that I haven't showered in nearly two days either. Despite my various odors, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you. Thank you for being willing to take me to the ER when I thought I was dying from the stomach flu. I know you weren't too happy about it. When we got in the car at 8 pm and I asked if you were mad at me, you answered, "It is what it is." Your willingness is a big improvement. At least I wasn't reduced to calling a distant relative to come and pick me up to take me to the hospital like I have almost had to do in the past. Perhaps after another eight years of marriage, you will be able to treat my serious illnesses with a little more sympathy.
I asked you why you have never gotten the stomach flu and you just chuckled. Although it is not something I would wish on my worst enemy {ok, or just someone I don't like}, I almost wish that you could have just a small case of it so you could finally empathize. Believe me, alternating sitting hunched over the toilet with lying in bed with a nauseous tight twisted stomach is last on my "Things I Love to Do List". But I digress. Thank you also for your concern over continuing to eat at my favorite little pasta restaurant, which you accuse of giving me food poisoning when I went out with my girlfriends on Monday night. {I know you're convinced it was those danged shrimp they put in my pasta even though I didn't order them.}

Your nursing skills and bedside manner are improving with each bout of sickness and I look forward to the day when you'll arrive at my bedside with a bowl of chicken soup and the latest scrapbooking magazine.

Your Still Recovering Wife

P.S. You did earn a lot of Husband Points last night when I woke you up at midnight because our 2 year old had left a PILE of vomit in her crib. Thank you for changing her sheets and even *gasp* starting the washing machine with all the dirty items. I appreciated all the air freshener you sprayed and sprinkled on the carpet as well. See, improving all the time!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I'm a FIRST-born

Do you find any truth in birth order affecting your personality? I seem like the description of a first-born: mostly compliant, rule follower, low risk taker, perfectionistic. Dear hubby is a first-born also. I recently attended a scrapbooking workshop with my sister-in-law. She is the youngest. I should've known I was in for an evening of antics when after the instructor demonstrates the first item & we begin assembling our own, she whispers in my ear, "You know, you don't have to make yours EXACTLY like the instructor did?" {Typical youngest-type thing to say.} WHAT? She might as well have tried to get me to run a red light on purpose. I laughed out loud. I told her she was a rebel. After awhile though, I starting "breaking the rules" as well. Placing things not exactly like the example, adding a little glitter here, a little doodle there. And it was very....freeing. After being a captive audience of our bantering for two plus hours, the mother/daughter team at our table said they would want to sit across from us at every scrapbooking workshop. Naturally I replied, "Of course that would cost extra."

Fast forward to today. I had to take 2 year old to the ER. She had a fever and has been vomiting since yesterday morning. {My sincerest apologies to the guests at the Wilderness who witnessed my daughter puke in the hot tub.} She gets her vitals taken, she eats a popsicle, the doctor comes and talks to us & says we can go. So, we pack up daughter and our things and head to the car. As I'm getting in, I asked hubby if we should've gotten some paperwork. DUH. This wasn't my first or even fifth trip to the hospital. I go back inside and ask for the paperwork. I wait. I wait for 10 minutes. I ask again. Our nurse comes out to say that she was busy but needed to take 2 year old's vitals again. She really needs to have that done before they can discharge her. She will have another not-so-busy-nurse do it. Ok. I retrieve 2 year old from the car. I come back in. I wait. I wait. After 35 minutes of waiting {with a semi-sick toddler I remind you}, I ask if I can just leave without the paperwork. I tell the receptionist that the ER seems really busy, my daughter is not critical & can I just leave without the AWOL paperwork/nurse-needed-for-vitals. She makes a call and {apparently annoyed} is discussing my behaviour with the person on the other end. Right in front of me. I finally ask what they are going to do if I just leave. What is going to happen to me? She says, "WELL...we can't keep you here." Ok. So I leave. Not a typical first-born-compliant-non-rule-breaker move. And again, I felt....free.

Does your birth order match what a typical birth order personality would be? Seems like mine does.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Do you have any mealtime traditions? I like the one I read about here, regarding the rose & the thistle. So COOL! How often do you eat together as a family? Do you have any special meal traditions for birthdays? {I am asking lots of questions as of late so that I can just collect other people’s opinions instead of sharing my own occasionally controversial opinion~LOL!} Our mealtimes look something like this:

We eat together almost every night of the week, unless one of us has to be out for a meeting or whatnot. We almost always eat at the kitchen table with the TV OFF. We do enjoy music with our meals. Every now & then we all eat in the living room, with the kids at a little picnic table. We don’t have any special mealtime traditions, which I’d like to start. I’ve heard of having a “Special” plate that a family member gets to use if they are having some sort of special day. Maybe when the kids get older I will make their favorite meal w/dessert for their birthdays. In the summer, things are a little more difficult as hubby doesn’t get home sometimes until after 6:30 pm. Sometimes we wait for him, sometimes we don’t. We are just accustomed to eating around 5:30-6:00 pm. The kids do miss him if we don’t end up eating together. I think the concept of eating at the dinner table together is extremely important. I heard some statistic on the radio recently {can’t remember the specifics} that showed a positive benefit for children whose families frequently eat together. I kind of look at it as a chance to reconnect after a long day. Even Tatiana is in the habit of daily asking hubby, “How was your day at work today, Dad?”

So, what does your family do that works or doesn’t or what do you want to change about your mealtime habits?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My inquiring mind wants to know.....

...how involved your husband is in your daily life. Does he know what your daily "routine" is like with the kids? Does he know where you are going at times, even if he is not home? If you homeschool, could he do a day of homeschooling without you? Does he know what brand of laundry detergent you use? Do you wish he were more involved? LESS involved {LOL}?

Who runs the "routine" when both of you are home? I struggle with trying to submit to what my hubby wants to do & still try and keep the household running smoothly at the same time!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Christmas in July

Here are the other little cross-stitching projects that I promised to post for Chloe. The first one still needs to be framed and the second one is actually a gift tag I attached to my mother-in-law's Christmas gift since I know she really appreciates crafty things, cross-stitching in particular. The little light bulb design is so quick & easy. I made a bunch of them as gift tags. If you have never cross-stitched before, a pattern like that could be cranked out in about an hour or two:

Oh, I can't forget the paper bag album I made for my dear sweet cousin, Ky-Ky {as I used to call her when I was a kid}:

Now for my Christmas in July idea. It seems like I *never* have enough time around the holidays to do all the crafty holiday things I want to do, including making great homemade gifts which are thoughtful and won't break the bank, so here is what I am planning to do. I am setting aside one smallish rubbermaid container which will be my Christmas in July box. Any craft items I collect or items needed for making gifts will be going in this box. That way when I am looking at garage sales for mason jars or small trinkets for my pirate jars, I will have a place to store them. I bought a cool wooden Christmas tree shadow box at Hobby Lobby which is going in the box to be decorated in July. I also have a computer document started titled "Christmas in July" with all the ideas for homemade gifts & decorations, which I can add to when I find a cool idea. I also hope to make my own Christmas cards, which is another thing that gets filed in the always-want-to-do-but-run-out-of-time holiday box. As I collect the cards or paper or envelopes for those, I can put them in my Christmas in July box. I've come across instructions for making chocolate lip gloss {for my girlfriends} and some scented rice heating packs for those gift recipients with aching muscles. I think I will just pick one weekend & make that my Christmas in July weekend where I work on all these projects & maybe send hubby and the kids away to his parents or something. Maybe some of my other real life friends will join me to make their own Christmas goodies. Maybe I can have a Christmas in July party. What fun! Oh yeah, another thing I've always wanted to make is my own Christmas advent calendar. I'm still looking for ideas for that! This will be my last Christmas post until July.....