Dec 23, 2009

Toffee shmoffee

I am seriously struggling here! Remember how I said I was going to kick that procrastination habit? Well, I'm still working on that and I have a long way to go.

I had meant to finish up my baking on Monday and for some reason that never happened. I guess I did bake, I ended up making monster cookies for Jeff to bring to work. I finished the caramel pecan treasure cookies last night. Or this morning rather, I can't believe I was up that late. And today I'm still making toffee. This is the first time I even attempted to make it and I was planning on sending that in with Jeff as well. What was I thinking? The first batch was too well done, it tastes okay but not good enough to give to someone. I made another batch after talking to my mom for a few tips. She said to turn the heat down at the very end so it wouldn't burn and I turned it too low so now it's too soft. Not SOFT but not as brittle as it should be. *sigh* Guess I'll try again.

I should also be packing and cleaning our apartment before we head downstate but the computer was calling my name. Plus, I'm waiting to see if Adrian is going to fall asleep before I bother starting something. Which is a pretty lame excuse because he pretty much lets me do what I need to do and is perfectly content to play on the floor so long as I'm not out of his sight for too long.

And he's still babbling, guess I'll get him out and get moving!

Dec 20, 2009

pictureless baking day results

I'm fighting to keep my eyes focused as I type this, it was a long day. In a good way.

As it turns out, Jeff did actually work today. He was trying to explain his schedule to me the other night but I wasn't getting it for some reason. When he takes time off from his regular workweek, he is required to go in on his scheduled days off to make up for it. This works out really well for us because he still gets a full paycheck. He does this stuff all the time so you'd think I would get it by now but there was something about his supervisor wanting him to work this day rather than that day to make up for our time downstate. In the end I just said, I don't get it, what days are you off? Apparently I forgot to listen. So here I am thinking we have all day to shop, I wasn't worried about lunch, I'd figure it out later. I was taking my time looking over my grocery list one more time and then Jeff informs me that he has to work today. Well, that threw off my day! I had been planning on buying a few gifts but I suppose that will have to wait until Tuesday which is the day he really has off.

I did some of my baking done. I made the dough for the oatmeal chocolate chips cookies in the morning and stuck it in the fridge so they would be ready to go when we returned home. I had wanted to have dough rising for bread or cardamom rolls while we were out but I wasn't sure how long we'd be gone. I didn't plan very well for how much I was making. I always knead my dough in my Kitchenaid mixer but the bowl was full of cookie dough so I couldn't do anything else while I was making cookies. Once those were done, I made the dough for bread and the cardamom rolls so they could raise while I made the other cookies. While the dough was rising I started on the caramel pecan treasures but I never finished them. I ended up using the last of the oil for banana bread so I didn't have enough for the chocolate that goes on the outside of the cookies. It got too late to make toffee and I completely forgot about making caramel corn until I was cleaning up. That worked out fine considering I still need to finish the cookies. I'll just do another (not too demanding) baking day on Monday!

I'd show you pictures but I didn't actually take any. You probably wouldn't see picture of the banana bread anyways because I kind of mutilated it trying to get it out of the pan. I do that sometimes.

Dec 18, 2009

Baking myself silly (or fat, or maybe both)

I'm planning on doing a baking day tomorrow, here is my list:

Cardamom rolls
Banana bread
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Butter toffee
Caramel corn
Caramel pecan treasures

I was planning on doing this today but I never made it to the grocery store so tomorrow we are going to do some last minute Christmas gift shopping and I'll do my grocery run as well. Jeff has the day off so I decided it would be easier to do a baking day when he is home! I'm still revising my grocery list so I'm not sure I'll be doing all of this but we'll see! I'll let you know what I make!

Oh yeah, I've never made toffee before so wish me luck! Any and all tips are welcome! I don't have a candy thermometer and I'm debating whether or not I really need one.

Dec 17, 2009

Unsleepless nights and a yellow coat

So, it's only been a week since I posted. It's been on my mind for, oh, about a week, to do so. It's been keeping me up at night. For about five minutes. But seriously, when I lay my head on my pillow my brain seems to go into overdrive. I keep thinking about everything and anything. Not bad things, or anything that's bothering me (not much is bothering me at this time). I just think of, well, everything. And for some reason I keep thinking about my blog. Probably due to the fact that I've seriously been neglecting it. I keep thinking that I need to tell the world (er, all 16 people that read this) what I do to try to fall asleep at night. It doesn't usually take much, I'm generally pretty exhausted by the time my head hits the pillow. I think I've had one truly sleepless night in my life. That I can remember anyway. I was in high school, it was so brutal. Luckily, I haven't experienced that since. But lately, I've had so much on my mind (again, nothing bad). The biggest one is that we're going downstate for Christmas! I'm not sure if I've mentioned that. We were supposed to stay here but Jeff was able to get the time off, I can't even explain in words how exciting that is!! Anyway, back to the subject at hand; I put myself to sleep by focusing on my breathing. It's funny how such a simple thing is SO HARD. My mind is so busy that to think of nothing but my breathing seems nearly impossible. It's goes a little something like this: inhale, exha--blogsREADgroceriesMONEYcouponsINKjeffSNOWroadsADRIANsweetCHILD--inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale--CHRISTMASfamilyPRESENTSshoppingFRIENDSvisitJEFFadrianFAMILY--inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, in--christmasFAMILYexcitementTALKINGfoodPARTYshoppingBLOGcookingRECIPEcoupons--inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, ex...zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
(I never realized how difficult it is to type out your thoughts. Now just think of lots of colors and swirls and people's faces and houses while you read that and that's about how it is.)
In reality, in only takes me about five minutes to fall asleep but when my mind is going a mile a minute, it starts to feel like a long time. Somehow, through all those thoughts, I do fall asleep.

I wonder if I'll fall asleep that much faster tonight now that I've blogged...

On a completely unrelated note, I bought a coat the other day and now I don't know what to do with it. I realized I've had the same dress coat for five years and it is so thin it can't really be considered a winter coat but that's when I use it. The one I bought was described as a "wool coat" and further explained as a wool and polyester blend. I was so excited to get it delivered only to find that it is only 50% wool. Now I don't know what to do! I love it but it's even lighter than my current coat. Such a disappointment. Is there such thing as a fashionable AND functional coat?? Because if there is, I have yet to find it. I'm planning on looking around online some more but I'm feeling defeated before I even start. I looked at every online store I could think of before buying this particular coat and didn't find one that I liked. Any suggestions? I'm stumped here. I mean, the obvious thing is to return it because it isn't warm but, well that's just too obvious isn't it?! I'm just wondering if I'm going to regret keeping it when I was specifically looking for a warmer coat. Guess I'll keep looking!

Dec 9, 2009

As Promised

Here is that garland!

And a little closer:

I love this garland, it's so fun and it's so easy to make! It just takes a little time. And it takes me even longer. I don't have a circle punch. Don't worry, I don't cut them all with scissors! I do have a circle cutter but my blade is getting a little dull so I have to push really hard and I just about get blister on my fingers by the time I'm done! There are around 1,000 circles on this garland.

I can't take all the credit for the idea though. My sister Jennifer pointed me in the direction of another blog that had a garland like this. Thanks Jen! I love it!

Dec 8, 2009

And here it is...almost

I'm a little late getting my garland posted, these past few days have been a little busier than I had planned! I'm not sure why I decided to do something like this during the busiest time of the year. Adrian is clearly stealing my brain cells. Speaking of Adrian, he has discovered his thumb. And his fingers. To be honest, he's not really picky but he's been doing this quite often:

He was laughing away today, it was so fun to hear! I was throwing him in the air and doing "oopsy daisy." He just loved it!

Anyways, my excuse for the garland. I had been behind on it by the end of the week but I figured I'd be able to get most of it sewn on Saturday. I went to a craft show in the morning with a few of the girls. I left around 1:00 maybe, I can't really remember, and went to do my grocery shopping like I had planned. Then of course, I was lured in by all the Christmas cheer so I decided to look around. I needed a gift for a party on Monday night either way. I also had gift cards for Adrian so I figured I'd spend some of that too. 4 hours later I finally headed home. I have discovered that I am NOT a shopper. Shopping is for the birds if you ask me! I cut out the last few circles for the garland when I got home and started sewing on it that night. Then Sunday came and I observed that day of rest. Now, if you recall, I said I had a Christmas party to go to on Monday night. So all of Monday was spent baking (for the party), making supper (homemade pizza and breadsticks), doing laundry, wrapping my one whole present, taking care of Adrian while I tried to do everything because Jeff ran out for a few hours...well the point is, I didn't get around to working on my garland.

I finally finished it today (Tuesday)! I didn't get a picture of the completed project yet, I'll be sure to show you tomorrow. For now, here's a little peek:

I'm not much for traditional Christmas colors. In fact, this really doesn't look Christmas-y all on it's own. I hung it between the kitchen and living room because we decided not to get a tree this year (mostly due to the fact that we don't have a vehicle to haul it away with after the holiday). I don't really love where it is though, I think it would look a lot better on a tree. Guess I'll just have to wait until next year!

On another note, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...just like the ones I didn'tusedtoknow. We have a blizzard warning in affect until Wednesday night. Or technically Thursday morning. It's been snowing on and off for the last 6 hours or so. We have a couple inches already. Jeff went to get snow tires put on just in time! We didn't have them last year and it was pretty brutal. I sort of feared for my life every time we went up or down a hill. Now we may actually be able to make it to our friend's house on the first try rather than the 21st. (I'm hardly exaggerating.)

Dec 2, 2009

Circle Boutique Etc.

I have had so many projects and ideas floating around in my little head lately so I have decided to do a challenge of sorts. For myself. I am going to make one "fun" project a week until I run out of a ideas. And I don't think that will happen anytime soon! I'll be sure to show you each one along the way! This week I'm working on a paper circle garland, check back in a few days to see the completed project!

I think I may be crazy for doing this considering I should also be working on items for Circle Boutique. I guess I'm hoping I'll give myself some more ideas. As if I need any more, I already have a ton of ideas for that as well!

Speaking of Circle Boutique, a few new items have been added since the last time I mentioned it. If you've got a minute, be sure to check it out!

Nov 29, 2009

A weekend of Thanksgiving

I just loaded the weekend's pictures onto the computer and I seem to be missing a few.

...Due to the fact that I never took them. There's an idea for a new year's resolution (not that I really do those). I really do need to get pictures of everyone.

I do apologize for the red-eye in the picture of Adrian with Grandpa L. I tried to correct it but it ended up looking even worse.

I think the picture of Jenny and Adrian was taken by Jeffery. (Or maybe it was me, I can't remember.) Adrian was so funny laying there; he had been fighting sleep and he kept popping his eyes open and looking at everyone and smiling. Then his eyes would close. Then all of a sudden he'd pop 'em open and be grinning, looking around again. And then they'd close again...I could almost swear he was teasing us.

Those are the only two pictures I have of Jeff's family. Ridiculous, I know.

It was an interesting Thanksgiving. We all crammed into my little kitchen and somehow managed to find our plates among the dishes of food that pretty much covered the entire table. It was around 80 degrees most of the day, or most of the weekend really. We ended up throwing the windows wide open to get it back to a reasonable temperature. Ironically, our landlord had called a day or two before to say "I just wanted to remind you to keep your windows closed for the winter." (Our heat is included with rent so windows are supposed to be closed if it's below 55.) I told him that we keep our heat set at 65 and I don't remember the last time it clicked on and that it often reaches 80 in our apartment. I suspect the lady downstairs keeps her place pretty warm. Luckily, he's a pretty nice guy so he just said that it's fine if we "crack it open to get fresh air" but to make sure everything is closed up if we go out of town. The windows actually stayed open all Wednesday night and it never dropped below 75. And it was SNOWING outside!

The entire group (a whopping 6 people) played card games every night (Phase 10 and Skip-Bo). Of all the games we played, I won only one single time. It was fun anyway! Jeff and I used to play games fairly often but we haven't in a while, it was nice to get some use out of those cards again.

There was a Rangers hockey game on Saturday night. Adrian loved all the sights and was perfectly content even though it was so LOUD! He only got upset when he started to sweat...and Jeff was the one to figure it out. He is definitely his dad's boy. I had him all bundled up worrying that he'd be cold and he ended up being too hot!

This week's goal: to get Adrian to go to sleep on his own. These past two weeks have been a little crazy for him. We were up north twice and then had company so he's gotten used to falling asleep in my arms and going to sleep at all hours of the night. Hopefully it won't take too long to get him back to normal! And hopefully he'll really be sleeping through the night after this. He usually only wakes up twice to eat and goes right back to sleep but the past few nights he hasn't slept well at all...I'm crossing my fingers!

Nov 28, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

Jeff's crew managed to get the plane done in time so he did NOT have to work on Thanksgiving. And for that, I am thankful.

We had a delicious dinner and of course, ate way too much. I had pie for supper and was completely stuffed again after eating just one piece. We all played Phase 10 in the evening and for some reason never finished the game. It happens. I was losing anyways.

Oh yeah, don't worry, the turkey didn't catch fire. That's just the light in the oven. ;)

Nov 25, 2009

A Picture from the ever fabulous Emily

The sweater and hat were made by my godmother, Laura. I'm so disappointed that the hat is too small already, I love it!

Jeff's family arrived safe and sound.
I promise pictures by the end of the weekend.
It's going to be 85 degrees tomorrow.
In my apartment that is.
I'm crossing my fingers that Jeff doesn't get called in to work tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 2009

It's Officially Official!

Adrian can roll over!

He's rolled over a few times now when he gets really mad. He gets his little butt way up in the air and sort of tips over. I just wasn't sure if he actually knew how to do it.

Then, today, I had him laying on his belly on the floor while I was baking and he looked like he was trying to roll over. I kept watching and sure enough, he rolled over! And he wasn't even mad! The best part is, when he finally rolled over he just started chewing on his hands like "oh look, now I'm on my back, what's the big deal?" All the while, I'm practically jumping up and down yelling "You big boy! You rolled over! I'm so proud of you! Oh, you're so big!" and clapping my hands.

And then I made him do it 17 more times.

Nov 23, 2009

You know somethin? I feel better when I have an excuse for not blogging. I feel like I've been so busy lately. And yet, somehow, I still feel as though I have nothing to show for it. Instead of boring you with the mundane things, I'll just tell you that I've been working on Etsy stuff (and not enough) and trying to get ready for my in-laws to arrive in a few days. (Yes! We have family coming for Thanksgiving!)

I've been working on my ornaments for Circle Boutique in our spare bedroom and it is absolutely turned upside-down. I'm hoping to get it turned right-side-up before Wednesday evening. Or just WednesDAY, I need to find out when they will be here!

If you haven't checked out our shop on Etsy, take a look! My Mom, my sisters Sara, Emily and Amanda, and myself opened up Circle Boutique a few weeks ago. We are filling it with handmade baby items, mittens, pre-made scrapbooked albums, ornaments, and so much more to come! I know I have a whole list of items I plan to make in the future so check it often to see the latest items!

Nov 14, 2009

One Year

I neglected to blog Thursday about the fact that we moved one year ago. Close your mouth, I know, I couldn't believe it either. In a way, it feels like we moved last month. This year positively flew by! On the other hand, it's almost as though we've lived here forever. We were welcomed into the small congregation here so quickly and openly. I honestly don't think I could be as happy as I am today if we didn't have a church here, I just don't know what I would do.

We moved here after Jeff graduated from "airplane school" so he could start his job as a mechanic at the airport. He had opportunities to work in Idaho or Texas but we chose here. We get free flights through American and American Eagle airlines, anywhere they fly. I remember dreaming about all the trips we could take and even the "we'll just fly to Maine for a lobster dinner and come back" trips we would take. Guess how many times we've flown in this past year? Once. That's right. Just once. We went to visit Jeff's aunt and uncle in Texas. Now, I have to go off topic for a minute (oh wait, that's nothing new). I had NEVER met his aunt and uncle before going on that trip. Talk about stepping outside my comfort zone! The trip went really well, his aunt is EXACTLY like his mom and his uncle is incredibly inquisitive so there was never a silent, awkward moment. I'm really glad we went and we're still trying to figure out when we'll be able to go again. Anyways, back to flight benefits. As good as that sounds, American has no direct flights downstate so it's actually a lot easier to drive when we visit our families. Bummer dude.

Jeff graduated at the end of October (if I remember correctly, and I usually don't) and was scheduled to start training on the 17th of November. I think we both worked up until the 7th so we would have a full week to finish packing, get everything up north, and settle in somewhat. We moved on the 12th because my sister Jeanie's birthday is on the 11th and she wanted us to be there. We left that Wednesday morning with our cars loaded down and nothing but the raaaadiooo. Actually, I had CD's, Jeff was gracious enough to let me drive the car with the CD player...the only car we have these days. I think it snowed that day. And stayed until May, and that's no lie. I don't know if I mentioned it before but, we had never seen our apartment before we moved in that day. Jeff went up north one weekend in October and I told him not to come back until we had a place to live. He came back. I wish I had a picture of the outside of the building so you would understand why my brother Danny thought it was haunted. We think it was an old school. There are a lot of apartments like that up here; my sister's apartment used to be a gas station. I can't remember the actual number of stairs to get to our apartment but I can tell you this, there were quite a few! It was the classic looking schoolhouse building with the stairs in front and then we were on the second floor and there were two floors to our apartment. It was a pretty neat setup, the biggest downfall was that it was the only unit that hadn't been renovated. We had faux wood paneling with nail holes all over the place, and a previous tenant's decorations. Let me put it this way, when I asked our landlord about nail/screw holes in the wall, he didn't respond with words, he laughed. Besides the paneling, there were three different styles of carpet in orange (shag), beige (berber), and green (that flat looped style). The bathroom had yellow toilet/sink/shower and SPONGE-PAINTED walls. In a really ugly sea green I might add. Not to mention two different styles of linoleum. On our first morning there, I was making eggs and the second the aroma started wafting through the air, a mouse came out from UNDER THE CABINETS. We bought mouse traps that very same day and caught it that night. I never saw a sign of mice again after that, although I thought for the longest time that we had one living in the gas furnace (we used the electric heat) until I realized it was the birds landing on the vent outside. It was an interesting place to say the least but I'm glad we were only there for three months. I got pregnant and what had already been cold was now freezing. It was very poorly insulated. The heat bill was the reason we moved, our heat is included in rent now!

(Don't mind the drool, it was coming out faster than I could wipe it off!)

I feel like this move was the beginning of a whole slew of changes in our lives. I have never been one to approach a group of people I don't know or try to meet new people. I wished that I was, I just never did anything about it. That has certainly changed! Neither of us knew anyone in this area before moving here. The first time we stayed overnight was when we were looking for a place to live (and we spent one of those nights in the car). Actually, I take that back, we both knew a few people that were going to school here and a family that used to live downstate. As far as married couples go, we didn't know anyone. Wait, I take that back again, my cousin lives here. The point is, we felt like we were moving to an area of complete strangers compared to how many people we know downstate. The thing is, I don't think we went to this church for the entire first month we were living here. We may have gone that first weekend but then we went downstate for Thanksgiving and up north after that. After what felt like forever, but was actually really quick, I finally met some of the married girls in the area. Before moving, someone had given me the number of one of the ladies up here who had wanted me to call when we moved. She ended up calling me in the beginning of December to go to a craft show. It was the most awkward thing (for the first three minutes) when I walked in by myself (I can't remember why I didn't ride with them) and tried to find a group of people that I had NEVER SEEN BEFORE! We managed to find each other somehow and I've been meeting up with them ever since.

Another thing that has changed a lot over the past year is my mode of transportation. I have always been the one to drive EVERYWHERE no matter how far or near. Now, if it's within a mile, I walk. Of course, the biggest reason for that is the fact that we are a one vehicle household, so oftentimes, I don't have a choice. However, I've noticed lately that even when Jeff is home, I'll still walk if I can. I never thought I'd see the day. It works out pretty well though; three of my friends live in the same town. I've walked a few times with one of them...and I really need to call her more often to go for walks.

Coincidentally, I've also become more interested in healthy eating. And I don't necessarily mean no sweets. I'm talking about organic and natural foods. It wasn't that long ago when I'd be the one saying "oh well, you're going to die somehow, you might as well eat it and enjoy it." Not anymore! I've started learning about food, the good and the bad, and it's been an eye-opening experience. While we can't afford to eat completely organic, we're taking baby steps to get there. For one, I don't buy any processed foods. Or none that I can think of at the moment. I make as much as I can from scratch, right down to bread and rolls. It's a lot of work but I love to cook and bake so it's been fun, and I'm learning all sorts of things along the way! Who would have thought of making crackers or pretzels? Yum! The thing is, homemade goods taste ten times better than the store-bought stuff. The fact that it's way better for you is an added bonus.

About a month after we moved I borrowed Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover from the local library. (Which was a Carnegie by the way, but nowhere near as nice as the one in my hometown.) We are now, slowly but surely, on our way to getting out of debt. It feels great knowing that, although this is taking longer than I would have liked, we are not accumulating any more debt in the process. As much as I would love a house right now, I am perfectly content to live in this apartment and pay rent for as long as we need to to get closer to our goal. I'm sure we'll have a mortgage when we get a house, although I would LOVE to be able to pay cash for our own home, I just don't think that is possible for us considering we don't know what the future holds.

And imagine that, we now have a three-month-old! This has been quite a year! It's not slowing down anytime soon either. My sisters and my mom and I just started a shop on Etsy. So come check out Circle Boutique! My sister Sara is the only one who is on the ball and listed her (baby) items so far. Emily and Amanda are doing a craft show today as is my mom. I am hoping to have some ornaments listed on Etsy by the end of the weekend. After all, Christmas is just around the corner!

Nov 8, 2009

A Hiking we will go

Don't mind the girls in pajamas behind me.

Jeff's brother and sister stayed with us this weekend. We had the most gorgeous day yesterday, 59 and clear blue skies, so we hiked up Sugarloaf Mountain. There are several sets of stairs along the trail to help you up the steeper there were a lot of steps! We were all pretty glad to see the top. ...And yet I was the only one with an extra 14 lbs strapped to me. ;) (I have to admit, I was pretty glad, it's a good way to work just a little bit harder. You can't give up halfway through!)

Nov 5, 2009

What Happy Memories

I almost forgot about these pictures until I saw them again on that other camera I'm using. As you may recall, our weddings were a mere three weeks apart. It was so fun to be planning a wedding at the same time as my big sister; we got to call each other up and ask the other clueless person how or what you were supposed to do for this and that. I never realized that no one really knows what they are doing until after they plan their wedding. Funny how that works.

BTW: Amanda Kay, if you're pictures turned out better than this could you email them to me sometime?! And one more thing, were you wearing heels? Because there is no way that you are this much taller than me!!

Nov 4, 2009


After spending a few hours with some old friends all I can think is: time with the girls is good for the soul. :)

Remind me to do that more often! And we say this every time we're saying our good-byes...

And then remember something else we had wanted to say...

And then say good-bye again..."for real this time!"

And then we talk some more...

You get the picture.

Nov 2, 2009

I found a camera, just not the the one I normally use

I'm loving long-johns on this chubby little dude!
...And I'm noticing now that the buttons are ready to pop. Ha!

Oct 31, 2009

Happy Halloween and a Recipe for Chili, sort of

I almost forgot that today was Halloween! You would have thought the older gentleman throwing Reese's candy at me at the grocery store would have given it away. I didn't realize until I got home and Jeffery said "Oh yeah, Happy Halloween!" And then I threw the candy at him. I don't care for Reese's all that much and I know he loves them. Darn it too, I could make some peanut butter chocolate balls at home but noooo...

Keeks and Gretch and Gretch's boyfriend Paul stopped over today. To use my shower. How lovely, I thought they actually wanted to see me. ;) I'm somehow not surprised that I didn't get to see much of them this weekend. It is a big "kyds" weekend after all. (For those of you unfamiliar with that term, "kyds" refers to the high school and older singles in our church. They get together on the weekends and have several "big" weekends throughout the year in different locations. There are always festivities in the Marquette area for Halloween.) They had a Halloween party tonight, and as of 3 o'clock this afternoon, they still didn't know what their costume would be. I'm pretty sure they figured something out so I'm curious to see what they did.

I happened to have chili on the stove when they arrived. I made pork tacos the other day and had leftover meat to use. I had made it in the slow cooker and it was flavored with, get this, cocoa powder! Among other things of course. For some reason it reminded me of chili. I'm realizing lately that I am actually learning to cook and not just how to follow a recipe. I've made up quite a few recipes, or meals I should say. Mostly soups, but it's a start.

Anyways, back to the chili. I started off by sauteing onions and garlic in oil. I added one chopped green pepper. To this I add a few things from the fridge that otherwise might not have been eaten; some chopped green chilies (leftovers from enchiladas), a few chipotle peppers (from those paninis), a couple caramelized onions (also from paninis, I really don't think they made a difference, I just hate to throw food away), and of course, the leftover pork. To this, I added two cans of diced tomatoes and one can of sauce; we like our chili chunky and not too thick. I let it all simmer for a couple of minutes to check on the flavor before adding two cans of (rinsed and drained) kidney beans. The only thing I added after that was a little bit of oregano. It was already so flavorful from the pork! It was definitely a different flavor than I am used to in chili but it sure was tasty! I served it with cornbread, which I love. I'm wondering why I don't make it more often.

Don't forget to turn your clocks back tonight!

Oct 28, 2009

Chicken Panini with Chipotle Mayo

I wish I had my camera so I could show you a picture of my lunch.

I love the Frontega Chicken Panini from Panera Bread. I've been meaning to make a similar sandwich at home and today I finally did. It wasn't exactly the same but Jeff and I both thought it was pretty good, and definitely one to make again!

I used Sandy's Focaccia Bread from the Magnolia Lane cookbook, p. 217. It is a bread machine recipe, but I don't have a bread machine so here's how I make it:

1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/8 c. warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
3 1/3 c. flour

Dissolve yeast in water. (I run my water as hot as it goes.) Add salt, sugar, oil, and about one cup of flour. Use a whisk (I use my Kitchenaid mixer) to mix until well blended. Add the rest of the flour and knead for 8 minutes. Raise for about an hour or until doubled. Now at this point, the recipe says to pat onto a jelly roll size pan (like flat bread). Poke holes into dough using a fork. Brush with additional oil, sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Instead, I made several smaller balls and pressed them down. (I didn't add the garlic salt or parmesan this time but I did when I used this same recipe for hamburgers the other day. It was awesome!)

Now, for the panini itself you'll need:

  • Chicken, pulled or very thinly sliced (preferably smoked. I used leftover chicken that I had boiled for a soup)
  • Onion, sliced thin (you can use raw red onion but since I don't care for raw onions, I just caramelized sweet onions instead)
  • Tomato, sliced thin
  • Provolone cheese (or whatever cheese you like!)
  • Fresh basil (I forgot to buy this!! I sprinkled a small amount of dried basil on top of the cheese instead)
  • Chipotle mayonnaise (combine about one cup of mayo with two to three chopped chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce))

Slather both pieces of fococcia bread with the chipotle mayo and layer everything on. Brush both sides of the panini with oil. I have a panini press for the stove so I used that but if you don't have that (does anyone else have one of those...?) :) you can use a heavy pan and put another heavy pan, or plate or whatever, on top of the sandwich and weigh it down with a can of soup....or any other heavy object.

I also made homemade potato "chips." I poured just enough (safflower) oil on a cookie sheet to cover the entire bottom and laid thinly sliced potatoes in a single layer. I sprinkled them with sea salt and baked them at 400 degrees for...a long time. I never really keep track of cooking time. I just flipped them about every 10 minutes to make sure they weren't sticking to the pan, and to make sure both sides were getting crispy.

Aaaah...that was an easy lunch. Not. To tell you the truth, I don't really mind. I love to cook and bake and it's been kind of a challenge lately (in a good way) to make as many things from scratch as possible.

A few things I would change to make this panini even better:

  • Use smoked chicken! I have no idea how I would be able to smoke chicken in this apartment, short of buying it, I didn't really have that option.
  • Use rosemary and onion focaccia bread (recipe to follow) I don't have any rosemary...I really need to get that considering I've seen a few recipes lately that I've wanted to try
  • Chop the chipotle peppers smaller. I thought the size I had chopped them in would be fine but now I wish I had pulled out my food chopper. You might like them bigger though, I'm not a huge fan of spicy food, although I should mention that Jeff said they were not spicy at all.
  • Make the chipotle mayo ahead of time. I had made it this morning, but it may have been better to make it the night before to let the flavors blend a little more. Maybe.
Rosemary Foccacia Bread (My sister Sara's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook, p. 217)

1 tsp. yeast
3/4 warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/4 c. flour
crushed rosemary
parmesan cheese

Mix together all ingredients in bread machine on dough cycle or in mixer until well blended. Pat dough onto a baking sheet dusted with flour, cornmeal, or lightly oiled. Dimple dough with the end of a wooden spoon. Brush top with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper, rosemary and parmesan cheese. Let dough rise about 15-20 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees til golden brown about 10-15 minutes.

If you use Sara's recipe, you can omit the parmesan and instead press a few rings of yellow onion into the top of the dough.

I'm realizing as I type this that Sara's recipe only calls for 15-20 minutes of rising time. Is this typical of focaccia? Maybe you shouldn't rise it for an hour as I stated for Sandy's recipe. Feel free to let me know if you have some expertise in the matter! ;)

Wow, this is one long post considering it's all for a sandwich! Try it though, before you call me crazy. It is quite tasty!

Oct 27, 2009

My Facebook Status

Looking for some super-cute boots, maybe just a little bit on the wild side. No chains or grommets. Not black. Probably not brown. A simple bow would be cute. And slouchy. Definitely slouchy. Preferably suede. 3" heel, mid calf. Less than $50. Is that so hard? Yes. Yes it is.

I would have bought these boots but they didn't have my size. Apparently my feet grew half a size because all my shoes are a bit small. (I guess that can happen with pregnancy...?)

ETA: These boots are from Kohls.

Oct 21, 2009

Looking for me?

I have been terrible about posting, I know. I do apologize. I'll tell you the truth here, I haven't been on the computer much at all lately. I seem to go in spurts. Sometimes I can't get enough of it, and other times, like now, I have too many other things that I would rather be doing. Like what you ask?

I have no idea.

Okay, well I guess I like to snuggle my baby.

And I have this huge stack of magazines piling up that I still need to read so I can get them off my side table.

And I have these...projects that I'm working on for Etsy. :) I never mentioned that before did I?

And I keep baking. Cardamom rolls with caramel (my sister's Jen's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook.) Banana Oat bars from the latest Co-op ad. Focaccia bread, or buns rather, for hamburgers today. (My Auntie Sara's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook.) And whole wheat bread. (My Grandma Lorraine's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook. It calls for Rye flour, but you can also use whole wheat.)

And I'm trying to get in shape...? I bet you think I'm joking with what I just mentioned above.

Actually, it's not a joke because I now fit into a pair of jeans that I haven't been able to button since Adrian was born. So, I must be doing something right!

Anyways, I'll try to be better about blogging, but I won't promise anything because I usually don't follow through. And I wouldn't want to lie.

P.S. I found my camera. Or, rather, I figured out where it was. I left it at my in-laws, I should have it by Halloween weekend. (Meaning, Keeks or Gretch can you get it from my in-laws and bring it up when you come?)

Oct 14, 2009

Our trip south

If chocolate chips cookies are "healthified" you can eat as many as you want, right? (My sister Emily's recipe from the Magnolia Lane cookbook.)

I hadn't intended to take a week-long break from blogging but when we went downstate for five days it just sort of happened! And you know I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs the entire time...

Actually, I wasn't. I wish I was. Well, sort of. The thing is, every time we go downstate to "visit our families" we end up running around like headless chickens. This past weekend was no different. In those five days, we attended several church services (it was fall services for that area), went to a wedding (outside), played the guest of honor at a baby shower (I did, not Jeff), and did some shopping (nothing too serious). Did I forget anything?

Friday was probably the most relaxing day. We had arrived late the night before, leaving once Jeff got out of work. I went garage saleing with my Mom and sister-in-law. Or tried to anyway. We went to one of the three we had planned and didn't get anything (one had a sign posted reading "rain delay"). So we went to Salvation Army instead. This particular one is fairly new and it is HUGE! I found a few things for Adrian. I wish I would have had the time (and money) to look for things for myself. I mean, there is seriously so much there. My shopping experience was cut short by a, we'll just say, a little stinky situation. (Why does that always happen when I'm out and about?)

Saturday was the wedding. Jeff's cousin got married in a cornfield behind his grandpa's house. Well, not literally. The cornfield was more of a backdrop. It was really pretty with the fall leaves scattered everywhere. I'm realizing, as I type this, that I never got a picture of the bride and groom. We, however, got yet another family picture!

We went to church on Sunday and managed to see both sides of the family. It was fun to see my brother Brad's baby. She's grown so much! Besides that, she is tall for her age (7 months) so when she was rolling around on the floor, I was ready for her to jump up and start walking!

I did some running with my mom on Monday and then headed over to see Jeff's family before the baby shower that my mother-in-law hosted that evening. (Thanks again!) I enjoyed seeing everyone at the shower, Adrian is not lacking in the clothing department anymore! Besides what I got Monday night, I also received a ton of hand-me-downs from Jeff's cousin who has two boys. I'm still working on sorting through everything to see what he still needs as far as pants and shirts. I have stacks of clothes piled up on my couch. A friend of mine stopped by this evening and was telling me about a clothing sale of sorts at a local elementary school this weekend. So that's my deadline to get all this stuff figured out!

We left Tuesday evening to head back home. Jeff and I both agreed that we should leave earlier in the day next time. He's working afternoon shift so it's not really a big deal for him to be up so late (it's a 7 hour trip). But, it would be nice to have some time to unpack and unwind before going to bed. As it was, when we got in last night (or this morning?) we only brought in what we absolutely needed. And our car was stuffed! We ended up hauling the rest of our stuff in this morning before running out grocery shopping and I still haven't unpacked.

We pulled in around 2:00 a.m. and surprise, surprise, Adrian was still up at 8:30 this morning! I didn't sleep much in the car, I get too nervous that late at night. Needless to say, I'm pretty exhausted by now. I had this list about a mile long of things I had wanted to get accomplished today. I'm trying to think of one thing that I did get done...oh yeah, I went grocery shopping. Yet another reason to come home earlier in the day. Every time we get back from a trip I have to go shopping the next morning. It'd be nice to get it done that day rather than waking up hungry and knowing there is nothing to eat for breakfast!

Well, I'm off to bed! This momma is tired!
Good night!

P.S. I had wanted to post pictures but I can't find my camera and I have this sinking feeling that I forgot it at my Mom and Dad's...and it's too late to call. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers that it's around here somewhere!

ETA: Brad's daughter is 8 1/2 months, not 7. Whoops! I can't keep track anymore!

Oct 6, 2009


I knew my baby was growing, but I guess I still thought he was kind of small. Then I held Kendall. And then I realized that maybe he's bigger than I thought!

(Please note, Kendall and Adrian are almost 4 months apart in age!)

Oct 3, 2009

Latest Cookbook Corrections

This is the complete list of corrections for the Magnolia Lane cookbook, please pass this on to anyone who has the cookbook!

Page 17- Nacho Dip - Should say to brown and drain the sausage & hamburger.

Page 21 - Puppy Chow - add 1/4 cup butter to ingredients

Page 42 - Turkey Wild Rice Soup - should be 1/4 cup slivered almonds (rather than 4 cups)

Page 61- Turkey Pasta Salad - Should be 1/2 can crushed pineapple (rather than 1/2 cup)

Page 67 - Susan's Vinaigrette Potato Salad - should be 3 pts per cup, not 8

Page 69 – Mom’s Christmas Eve Fruit Salad - Directions should say – Combine sugar and flour and mix with remaining ingredients up to cream. (Rather than except)

Page 79 – Red Skin Potatoes - Should say 1 T. Johnny’s Garlic Spread (or minced garlic) (not onion)

Page 85 - Asparagus and Parmesan Pasta Toss - should say chicken Italian sausage in the notes with no comma between chicken and Italian sausage

Page 87 - Uncle Niilos Corn on the Cob - should be, bring water to a boil before adding cobs, boil for 7 minutes

Page 88 - Green Bean Deluxe - beans should be drained

Page 119 - Mexican Curry - add 1 can (tomato sauce can) water to ingredients

Page 129 – Anne’s Spaghetti Sauce - Ingredient list should be – 1 lb. ground beef, 1 lg. onion, 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano or ¾ tsp. dried oregano

Page 135 - Corned Beef Casserole - Should also have 1 c. American cheese

Page 144- Chicken Stuffing Hot Dish - should be 9x9 or 8x8 square pan (not 9x13).

Page 201
– Blueberry French Toast - To ingredient list, add 12 eggs and 2 cups milk

Page 255 – Peaches and Cream Dessert - Crust ingredients were left out: 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 38 wafers). Combine melted butter and wafer crumbs, reserving 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top, and press in 9 x 9 pan.

Page 268 - Good Everyday Cake - add 3 eggs to ingredients

Page 300 - Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies - add to ingredients; 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1 (6 oz.) package chocolate chips, 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk and 4 tsp. cherry juice

Page 316 - Mint Brownies - should be 3 eggs and add 2 cups brown sugar to ingredients.

Page 317 - Caramel Bars - should say, save 3/4 cup for topping (rather than 3 cups), first baking time should be 10 minutes (rather than 40).

Page 332 - Mom’s Fudge - add to ingredients, 1 teaspoon vanilla

Page 338 - Country Style Hot Dog Relish - total celery seed should be 1 T. (it's listed twice). FYI: 12 green pepper = 13 cups & 10 tomatoes = 10 cups

Page 324 - Pineapple Bars - add 1 cup (2 cups total for recipe) sugar and 2 T. of corn starch to filling ingredients

Oct 1, 2009

Go borrow it, buy it, or check it out!

(If you do buy, make sure it's on sale!) :)
However you get your hands on it, go read this book! Especially you young folks. Read it before you give yourself a chance to get in trouble with money!

On a separate but related note, Heather asked where I find my coupons. So, for Heather and anyone else interested, and are two of the blogs that I regularly check. They match up the coupons with the weekly sales. There are links to the sites where coupons are found. Keep in mind that you will sometimes need to sign up to receive coupons, but not always. You'll also need to download a coupon printer application.
These blogs often link to other blogs about saving money. There are a ton! I also check to see what coupons are in the upcoming paper before I buy to see if I should get more than one or any at all. (The blogs I listed link to the list of coupons a few days before they come out.)
Also, stores like Target, Walgreen's, and CVS will let you combine their store coupons with manufacturer's coupons on the same item. We just got a Walgreen's here and I am super pumped about that!
It might take a while to get the hang of it all and really start saving money, particularly with the drugstore rewards programs, but it's all so worth it!!

Well, I hadn't meant to make a big ol' post on that, but there you are! If you have any questions or just want to know something, leave a comment or send me an email, I'm getting pretty good at this stuff! ;)

Sep 29, 2009

A Blustery Day and Saving some Cash!

Yesterday was a great day for ducks. And surfers for that matter. Jeff, Adrian, and I went down to Presque Isle to check out the waves. They were around 5-6 feet high and crashing over the break-wall. Not surprisingly, their were plenty of surfers to be seen. I was thinking they were so crazy to be out there in 48 degree weather, in the rain and wind no less...

Until today, when I walked to the library when it was 41, sprinkling, and windy...hmmm....maybe they weren't so crazy after all. I wanted to pick up a book I had requested so I packed Adrian into the stroller and off we went. I was a few hundred yards from our apartment when I called Jeff to tell him that if it started raining, we would need him to come pick us up, it couldn't be any warmer than 40. A couple hundred yards later had me calling him again to bring me a hat and another blanket for Adrian. Brrr! I wonder how many people shook their heads when they saw me with a stroller in this weather! Oh well, Adrian was warm and snug as can be; he was awake for about 5 minutes while I was in the library and slept the rest of the time!

It could have been a balmy 80 degrees for all he knew! (I think his hat was like this most of the time but as you can see, he doesn't seem to mind!) :)

I got to see Emily and Amanda yesterday (and Cale, Brady, and Kendall). I am so bad about taking pictures!! I was thinking I should have had Jeff take one of the three of us sisters. Maybe next time...if I remember. We all packed into Em's minivan (Jeff went fishing) and went out to find some coupons deals and freebies! In the POURING and BLOWING rain might I add, yikes! I just got such a chuckle out of all of us hunting around Walgreen's to see just how much we could get for a few cents change. We were there for an hour! (Shoot, maybe I shouldn't have said that. An HOUR in Walgreen's? Did you even know that was possible?)
I spent $2.46 out of pocket (I had register rewards from a previous trip) and got $8 Register Rewards back in the end. This is what I got:

Oral B toothbrush
Herbal Essences shampoo
Herbal Essences conditioner
2 bags of caramels
Halls cough drops
2 snickers candy bars (needed something so I would have more items than coupons)

I know I could have done much better than that but I hadn't realized that you need more items than coupons. (You can combine manufacturer's coupons with Walgreen's coupons on the same item.) I'm planning to go again tomorrow morning because there is a really good deal on men's razors and they were all out when we were there.

Sep 24, 2009

My baby (are you sick of hearing about him yet?)


I see Adrian all day (and night) every day but I still smile when I look at those pictures...I just can't get enough of those smiles!!

Ugh. Speaking of Adrian, he has the sniffles. He is way too little for that. I'm afraid he might have caught something when we brought him to church on Sunday, you just never know where those germs are lurking! The trouble is, now I'm not so sure if I want to bring him to church this weekend (if he still has it). Bummer too, because it's fall services here, which is even more reason NOT to bring him since there will be more people attending. We'll see...

Sep 22, 2009

Good Morning to Me!

He makes it very hard to be crabby in the morning!

Sep 21, 2009

I would post but...

...I don't have a picture of my little baby who is currently kicking the blanket off his chubby little legs and making all kinds of noise, possibly farting, and is about to cry because he wants his mom!

(Jeff is fishing with the camera again. Not fishing WITH the camera, that wouldn't work at all. He's fishing with Tom. Actually, he's fishing with a pole. And he is with Tom and he has the camera. Got it?)

Sep 18, 2009


Poor guy, he falls asleep everywhere...

Sep 16, 2009

My heart has melted...

(Stolen from my facebook status.)

Adrian smiled his first "real" smile on Sunday! It's still a big deal to get him to do it but oh so worth it. He has also started cooing at me every once in a while, that's even more rare than a smile but it is just too darn sweet. I took him for a walk in the front pack the other day and he kept trying to look up at me the entire time. Quite a nice surprise considering I thought he'd sleep the entire time! I'm nervous because he's been sleeping A LOT this afternoon/evening so I'm guessing I'll be up all night. So I should probably be sleeping, but go figure, I'm not very tired right now. I'm sure tomorrow night with be a completely different story!

Wish me luck!

Sep 14, 2009

Have you had your daily 3 or 6 or 8 or whatever it is these days?

Me neither.

Oh yeah, I meant fruit not coffee. (What were you thinking?)

Sep 13, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Oh dear. I was up around 8:30 this morning with Adrian and I was telling myself "just 20 more minutes of sleep then I'll get up and get ready for church." I woke up on the couch at 10:20, I'm thinking that's a little too late to get myself and my baby ready for 10:30! Let's not even talk about waking Jeff up when he went to bed at 4! We'll try again next week.

So I guess it's going to be a lazy day around here. I'm about to run up to the gas station (about 50 yards away) to get the paper (we were gone last week and the week before, they ran out before I got there!) so I can clip coupons and plan my grocery trip for tomorrow.

Enjoy your Sunday!

(I had his head in the middle of the burp cloth--he's been spitting up lately--and he somehow wiggled down that far. Thought I'd show you his hair!)

Sep 11, 2009


My baby boy is 1 month old today! The time has just flown and it probably isn't going to slow down anytime soon. But that's just a hunch!

I feel like he's already grown so much. A little of what he's been doing:

He holds his head up on his own but he's been doing that since he was about a week old. He "smiles" all the time but we haven't seen a real one yet. Newborn sizes are getting too small and he's not quite drowning in 0-3 anymore. He "pinches" very hard with his little hands when he's upset. He rolls onto his side all the time, although I don't think he really knows how to do it. He'll be ready for a johnny jump-up any day now (with some support), he "stands" if you hold him up on your lap. He *sometimes* follows objects with his eyes. He gets cuter every day. Hahahaha!

Oh yeah, and this is for you Amanda: His farts have started to smell really bad!

It's exhausting to grow this fast!

Sep 10, 2009

My little guy (is growing) and Photography (is not my forte)

Adrian at 3 1/2 weeks. (Pictures taken one week ago)

I need some help. I'm really struggling with blurry pictures here. Okay, I'll be honest, I'm struggling with all aspects of photography. But really, I can't seem to get a good no-flash picture without it being blurred and/or grainy. I'd love to hear some tips from those of you who actually know what you're doing! I have a Canon Powershot Elph series point-and-shoot. I know it is capable of taking better photos! Please help me!