Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We Are

I am well aware my blogging has fallen away the past couple weeks, and I am sorry for it.  However, it's hard to come up with interesting content when there isn't much interesting going on life-wise; or it's repetitive - how many times can you say, "Another doctor appointment with hubby?" (speaking of, what is up with one test spawning two more?  Especially when all we seem to be doing is crossing off things that AREN'T.  Which I suppose has its merits, but I'm pretty over those,) or "Nope, not crafting yet."

I could list off the things I haven't done and desperately need to do - but that would be about as interesting as watching needles fall off the Christmas tree.  Suffice it to say, when I finally grasp the enormity of my list, I expect my head will explode.

I think maybe doing December Daily this year - formally that is - might have helped.  But we had a few fun things this past week.

  • We are beyond excited.  Seriously, way beyond.  Not only was the 17 y.o. (and her "Fam") going to the game, but there was much laughing, huge grins, dancing and hand-sweating when she found out that her little group was invited to sit on the player's bench during the pre-game warm-ups.  She texted us with pride and great enthusiasm, and a lot of exclamation points, that she was "iced" and then almost sweated on by some of her fave players.  She was over the moon.  All you had to do was say "Saturday's game" to be greeted with a smile of pure joy.
  • We are delighted, though we try to cover it with dismay, that our elf continues to make mischief, found loudly by the 6 y.o. each morning.  Upon coming downstairs each morning, he's heard to exclaim, "Alright, where is he and what has he done now?"
  • We are recalling fond memories of my grandparents when this photo was posted by my sister on Facebook.
  • We are on a date.  Downtown.  Dressed up.  And you can't color on the table cloths.  
Happy Wednesday,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We Are

  • We are three for three in college acceptances - this one being her second top choice.
  • We are enjoying number four in the Outlander series as my constant companion for the next 800+ pages (though as of today, it's about 500-ish pages remaining.)
  • We are not sure Abbott is such a great helper to St. Nick, as much as he's a nuisance.
  • We are the Take Charge Crew. . .all their idea.  
  • We are two on the roof
  • We are not sure we wanted to see the 6 y.o. peeking in through a second floor window!
  • We are finally able to open St. Nick presents, who seems to be quite the RV fan.  Ironic that on a non-school-day celebration, it's still dark when gifts are opened.  This time in the evening, instead of before the crack of dawn.
  • We are taking a moment during the hanging of lights at the grandparent's house
  • We are done with the tree - 6 days, 3 boxes and 100's of ornaments later. Some day I'll count them.
  • We are playing Kings in the Corners for our "Family Game Night" decree from our advent calendar
  • We are thinking the player on the left might be checking out your cards or looking for cookies.  Hard to say.
  • We are raising money for World Vision with a Mismatch Out of Uniform day.

Happy Wednesday,

Friday, December 5, 2014

Get Going and Get Eating

I'm off to a start, a slow one, but a start nonetheless.  You know what's a good wake up. . .a blood draw.  Nothing like being stuck with a needle first thing in the morning, before coffee, to get you moving.  Fun stuff.  Stupid insurance.

I came home to survey the list of things to-do.  I should actually make a list, but all that needs doing is pretty much in front of me.  I did a little with the tree last night and have determined to do 15-30 minutes at a time today in the hopes that it's finished before St. Nick arrives tonight.  I've got linens rolling around in the washer.  I've sort of wrangled the Christmas things I don't want up here into a heap to take back downstairs later.  Before the first freeze a couple months ago, I hung up a bunch of herbs to dry and took those down and stored them away. 

Left to do:  wrap the Giving Tree stuff, clear the kitchen desk, deal with the jumble of shoes that seem to multiply in the hallway.  Find a good place to store the hall rug for the holidays.  Fold a basket of miscellaneous laundry.  In prep for the Christmas Eve gathering, I need to take down the toy basket and dog kennel from the dining room.  I've got dinner to deal with and I'm looking to make a Kuchen for dessert.  Maybe.

Speaking of food, I was oddly unmotivated to cook this week, but I managed to make this really good Cheesy Ham Chicken and Rice Casserole.  Gooey.  Cheesy.  That crunch of wild rice.  Yum.  I should have used fresh grated Parmesan, it would have melted much better.  I didn't use Cream of Whatever soup, opting to go with my usual substitute.  I also opted not to buy the Uncle Ben's or Rice A Roni Wild Rice, but instead found this Boxed Wild Rice Substitute.  A couple notes on the Wild Rice sub:  1) I didn't add any parboiled white rice - it was strictly wild rice.  It took longer to cook; for me it was almost double.  2) Because of the cook time, I might add the seasoning halfway through, instead of at the beginning.  It was pretty cooked out.  The recipe makes a bulk amount of the seasoning - I quartered it for this time around.

I made these Mexican Stuff Peppers on In-Law Dinner night.  They were okay.  The recipe had the option of pre-cooking the rice or adding it in the filling dry.  I debated, and went with the dry choice, but I knew once the filling was together there was no way the rice was going to cook.  And it didn't; there wasn't any liquid in the filling.  They had decent flavor, but the filling was a bit too dry for me.  I decided to delete the Pin.  If you want to give them a shot, I'd recommend using salsa (maybe a 1/2 to 1 cup) instead of just diced tomatoes in the filling, and definitely pre-cook the rice.  I'd also put the salsa in the pan instead of marinara sauce.

I have made these Sausage Sliders with Cran-Apple Slaw before.  The kids like them, which is always a plus. I used Colby Jack cheese and left off the lettuce since it has the slaw.  Instea of store-bought, I made these  40-minute Hamburger Buns to go with them.  It's a quick recipe, that for me, takes about a cup or more of flour than the recipe states.

The High School Hockey season kicked off earlier this week.  They are the two-time defending State Champs and won their first game.  Their second is tonight, so I guess we know where the 17 y.o. will be.  I've got one more for dinner tonight - hubby's brother.  The weekend, however, is fairly empty so there's the hope that I can conquer . . . well something.  Conquer something.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Prolific, Thou Isn't My Name

To say I'm accomplishing much would be a gross understatement; to say I'm accomplishing anything would be an outright lie.  My home is in shambles.  The clutter of everyday strewn around, filling corners and oozing across any horizontal surface it can find.  The mess of decorating, which isn't even 50% complete, lies on top of the everyday clutter, all glittery and sparkly, but those two adjectives don't make the clutter any prettier to look at.  Boxes are stacked next to the tree.  There's odd Christmas decorating paraphernalia laying about here and there that probably just needs to go back in storage because I'm not sure I want it up this year.

I have a cookie bake to plan.  I'm apparently hosting Christmas Eve again this year; it should be "we" are hosting, but let's be real.  St. Nick comes tomorrow night.  My brother-in-law is coming into town today for a job fair and I need to see if he'll be here for dinner tomorrow.  The same brother-in-law and his family will be moving back to Colorado next week - I don't expect that I'll have a part in that, but I suppose hubby will be helping them at some point.  It was my intent to wrangle the kids last night to deal with the tree, but I, instead, had to waste a couple hours doing totally inane surveys for our stupid insurance.  However, some take-charge child (I believe it was my 14 y.o.) started decorating the tree on their own - God love 'em, but now there's a drifting pile of ornament wrappers around the tree.  There's a stack of Giving Tree presents that need to be wrapped by Saturday - I still need to pick up two items.  And, oh, yeah. . .Christmas!  Do I have lists?  No.  Do I have ideas?  No.  Do I have a flippin' clue?  Ah, that would be a big fat NO!

Now you add where I find my peace, where I recharge - in the creative arts - and that hasn't happened in well over two months, which probably explains, at least in part, my general malaise.  But it's hard, isn't it, when you know the one thing that will help you regroup, recharge and regain control of yourself, you don't feel you can do because of all the other crap that has piled up (literally) around you.  Yes, I remember my ranting earlier this year about not making excuses, not making it a reward . . . something about it being a priority.  But priorities get shuffled no matter how hard you try to keep some things at the top of your list.  

I am participating in the December Daily project - though not quite with the same amount of vigor as in the past, but it is something.  I remembered yesterday my perpetual enrollment in Journal Your Christmas and realized I wasn't getting my emails, so I followed up with that.  And the December kits do bring a little tingle to my fingers.  Have you seen them?  Are you getting one?

I need a plan.  I need lists.  I need to find my groove (and quickly.)  I need a drink. 

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We Are

I am participating in December Daily again this year.  I post a few images to Instagram and will, eventually, put everything into a book.  Shhh...I still have last year's pics to deal with, and I even picked up album stuff when Archiver's closed their brick and mortars!  Hmmm . . .I see a quick project that might get the totally flat inspiration ball rolling again.  Oh, but hey, they are here on the blog, so that's something.

  • We are Thankful. . .so very thankful.
  • We are bowling with the "Fam."  School family, that is.
  • We are always up for a spectacular sunset.  This one colored everything pink.
  • We are girding up for Family Game Night.
  • We are having a bowl of "chicken flakes" for breakfast?  Then, as much as a 6 y.o. can, cursing the designer who thought using a rooster would be a good word-clue for a beginning reader.
  • We are laughing at the daughter who is still on an Av's game high from the night before, where she watched all her boys win, as she pours herself a "bowl" of cereal, and then realizes what she's done.
  • We are back!
  • We are past Thanksgiving, crank on the 24 Christmas Music channel.
  • We are excited to be asked to light the first week's Advent candle at school.
  • We are hardly able to contain ourselves. . .the Av's, the Canadian's, Corey Price, $20 tickets 10 rows off the ice.  That and four hockey games in the span of a week.  Could heaven be any better?
  • We are listening to this go on in the back seat and are seriously questioning what the high school boys might be teaching the 6 y.o.
  • We are concerned that Abbott has horked down all the cookies and there are none left for school lunches.
Happy Wednesday,

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Week and The Food

Another week, another couple appointments.  A couple more answers for hubby. . .some good, some not so good.  We are still awaiting approval for a drug and he gets the joy of adding more pills to his current repertoire, with that hope that they are but a temporary bump in this journey.  But we still had much to be grateful for as we woke up yesterday:  we have each other, our kids, extended family (and all their support), our faith and friends (who have also been a source of support.) 
I didn't host Thanksgiving but I was in charge of the pies.  I made two.  Rather than my traditional pumpkin, I opted to use up more of the sweet potatoes we have on hand and made this Caramel Sweet Potato Pie.  It was lighter than pumpkin. . .a little less custard-y.  Apple Butter gave it its seasoning and sweetness.  If I'd felt more like it, I'd have made Pioneer Woman's Easy Caramel Sauce, but used some jarred stuff I had on hand.  I did whip up my own whipped cream though.  The second pie was this German Apple Pie, which is so amazing - creamy filling around tart apples. I've made it before it won raves. 

I've hosted Thanksgiving before, but it's nice not to have to clean and cook and clean some more.  But, we realized, upon returning home, that there was something good about hosting - leftovers!  About 6:30 we were all craving leftovers, whether it was turkey or the amazing mashed potatoes, we were hungry.  I'll be thawing a bird this week and with luck we'll have leftovers next week.

The odd week of two kids off school and two kids in school, combined with the holiday and the doctor visits, it was another "make it good, make it fast" menu.

It'll take a bit to remember to work a meatless and a fish recipe into the week, but this Classic Cheese Lasagna not only used up some ricotta I already had on hand, but met the meatless goal for the week.  I made this Quick Marinara, which is my go-to.  I've used this recipe before and it's creamy and gooey - everything lasagna should be.  I sometimes have fresh basil on hand to sprinkle on top, not so much this time around, though.  You could up the nutrition a bit with the addition of finely shopped spinach in the chesse filling.

This was apparently "Pasta Week," something I'll have to rethink/watch moving forward.  Luckily, I'll have some other options to keep these quick meals in my rotation.  This Monterrey Chicken Skillet used up my stash of chopped rotisserie chicken (I doubled the recipe) but was worth it.  It was a really easy one-pan meal.  I loved the heat and the BBQ sweetness.  Keep an eye on the liquid level.  I should have checked my noodles about 5 or 6 minutes into the cooking - they were a little past al dente because I had to simmer off the excess liquid after hitting the recommended cooking time.  The blogger notes this in the directions, but I just wasn't thinking.

If comfort is the name of the game this Creamy Parmesan Tomato and Spinach Tortellini Soup could be your ticket.  It's almost all pantry staples, and, look at me, I didn't even realize until now it was another meatless meal.  It was warm and smooth, even without the optional blending of the tomatoes (I used petite diced., plus I like the chunkier texture.)  It was creamy and rich.  I would be good with browned Italian sausage or chicken, but was totally filling without the addition of a protein.

Believe it or not, I still have a couple sweet potatoes to use up, but these Sweet Potato Scones got me closer to the bottom of the bag.  I love scones and these didn't disappoint.  Hubby thought they didn't have enough flavor, but if you eat scones, you know they are not the "sweet" treat that we westerners are used to.  Their flavors are more subtle, which is what I like.  They were moist, lightly sweet with a touch of All Spice.  I didn't have marshmallow cream, so I made my own by using about 1/2 cup mini marshmallows, about a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of light corn syrup.  I zapped it for about 30 seconds and stirred it until the marshmallows were melted and smooth.  Then added to cream to make the glaze and dribbled away.  I think it was better than the pre-made fluff - not as sweet, but with that marshmallow-y flavor.

I also made these Pumpkin Scotchies, to use up some pumpkin I had left over.  I've made them before and they are always a hit.  Store them flat, between layers of parchment paper and a loose lid, to keep them from getting too moist.  The same for the scones above.

Hubby and the 16 y.o. are out shooting clays this afternoon.  The 17 y.o. took the dog out to the park.  I've done a few things around the house, and just came up from the basement where I discovered my studio has been overtaken. . .and I am not happy.  The rest of the crew are doing their best imitations of slugs.  If the weather holds, I'd like hubby and the boys to get the lights on the house, while I concentrate on decorating the main floors.  We'll see where we get to.

Happy Friday,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We Are

  • We are grateful for first grade Thanksgiving programs and all that that entails.  He had a speaking part and did awesome!
  • We are super happy for big sisters whose schedule allowed her to come watch.
  • We are a 14 y.o. boy, so unusual sights like these merit capturing them to prove to your friends you saw what you saw
  • We are pumped for the state championship semi-final football game.
  • We are crushed by the loss. . .27-15.  There's still so much to be proud of.  Go RV!
  • We are knitting.  We are going to ignore the age of the project and just keep knitting on.
  • We are grateful to a hubby who somehow read my craving.
Happy Wednesday,