Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oh, how I heart Publix

It's Things I Love Thursday (how did that happen???), and the thing I'm sharing this week is more of a place - Publix, my personal favorite grocery store. I know lots of people think Publix is more expensive, but it's not, if you shop the sales. Plus, everyone there is SO nice, and they know me and Baby, so it makes shopping much more enjoyable.

I did my usual grocery shopping at Publix this morning with Baby, after a trip to the park, and though I got some awesome deals, I got a pretty cool surprise on my receipt - an invitation to a survey! I've never seen a Publix survey! Only the first 125 customers from each store are eligible, but they're giving away $1000 gift cards, but I can't remember how many (if it said). Make sure to go visit your Publix soon, to make sure you can enter the giveaway. It would be so awesome if I won a Publix gift card! That would be so amazing. Good luck to anyone who enters!

PS - Sorry I've been MIA this week, I've been recovering from all the birthday festivities. More on that to come.

Friday, February 20, 2009

He's officially one (in thirty minutes)

So, a year ago today, I was getting prepped for a C-section. Baby had decided he didn't really want to come out, so try as I might, I couldn't push him out, and my OB had strongly recommended a C-section. There I was, frightened about a surgery, but so excited to meet this little guy who had been kicking the crap out of my insides for months. I still don't think I can describe that moment with words - seeing him for the first time was one of the most amazing moments in my life. No, the most amazing. Definitely.

And now, a year later, Baby is toddling around, and he's so different from that little boy I first met. The little boy I first met was sleepy and cuddly, and this little boy is always on the move, but still a little cuddly when he gets tuckered out. It's amazing how much he has grown in this first year of his life, how many things he has learned how to do, and it's incredible to think of how much growing remains.

There have been some truly awesome moments in this last year - between the first steps and hearing "mama" for the first time...the very first time he rolled over and totally surprised me...the first time he seemed to really know who I was...the first time he smiled...what an amazing year. I'll never forget it, thanks to the thousands of pictures I took, this blog, and my handy-dandy journal. I don't want to forget a single moment of it, and I can't wait to see what's yet to come.

OK, enough sap for now. :)

The smash cake

Well, I've officially decorated Baby's first smash cake, which he will have this evening with his mommy and daddy and honorary uncle (Daddy's best friend, who's in town for Baby's birthday). Along with some presents of course, it's the extent of the celebrating we've done today, really. We went to My Gym, as usual, and, and Baby's aunt and cousin called to sing happy birthday. And I decorated the smash cake. Ta da!

I know, the writing looks pink. It wasn't supposed to be. It was supposed to be red. That's not a good sign for Elmo, who I'll decorate tonight, so stay tuned! I've made the frosting, and refrigerated it, like Wilton recommended (and I didn't do with the test Elmo cake I made a month ago). So we'll see if that makes frosting Elmo any easier.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The slightly early Friday Five

And now it's time for the Friday Five - five moments from the week that were pretty memorable or awesome:

1. Baby walking...and walking...and walking...
2. Baby falling...and falling...and having an awfully close encounter with a wooden slide at My Gym, but he was spared by a quick-reacting fellow mom.
3. My Publix cashier handing me this week's flyer one day early, on Wednesday, when I made a quick run in for a few loose ends.
4. Removing Elmo #2 from the cake pan today and seeing the cake all in one piece.
5. Valentine's Day dinner with Husband.

Happy Friday!

Birthday cake madness: Elmo took two tries

Well, Elmo cake #1 wound up out of the pan minus two eyes and a nose. Not very pretty. So, perfectionist that I am, I had to make another, and I wasn't willing to wait until Husband came home and did the dishes for me. I was a big girl and washed the dishes myself. I baked Elmo cake #2, and it came out infinitely better. Take a look for yourself:

Obviously, Elmo #2 came out better. The difference? The way I greased the pan. I used Wilton's expensive Cake Release spray for Elmo #1. Didn't do so well. For Elmo #2, I went back to Crisco, old faithful, and greased the heck out of it, followed by some nice flour to fully coat the pan. It worked MUCH better. So much for listening to Wilton when they say to use their own products. Stay tuned for how the decorating turns out!

Birthday cake madness continues!

So, after the difficulties yesterday with baking Baby's two smash cakes (one for tomorrow, one for his party on Saturday), I went out and bought an oven thermometer and darn it - the oven was wrong! It claimed to be pre-heated to 350. Um, no. Try just barely 300. It eventually made it up to 350, but it took a good while. Clearly, today, when I bake the Elmo cake for Saturday, I will be making sure the oven thermometer says that it's 350 before I put the darn thing in there. Yesterday was so stressful because of all that mess. Here's hoping today's baking session this afternoon will go better!!

Seriously, he'll be one tomorrow? No way...

I'm in denial that Baby will be one tomorrow. For whatever reason, I find it hard to believe that it was one year ago that I was suffering from contractions and multiple insertions of an epidural...and then holding that squirming, screaming baby of mine. Maybe I don't want him to grow up. Maybe that's it. Or maybe I'm just stressing about his party (likely, but probably has nothing to do with this). I think that when he's one, I feel like he won't be a baby anymore. He'll be a little boy. A toddler. Not a baby who likes to cuddle with his mommy, and fall asleep on her chest (oh, how I loved when he would do that when he was itty-bitty). Part of me wishes he could stay a baby forever, but part of me is very excited for this next year, to see what kind of a little boy he will become. Will he be fearless? Will he be shy? Will he be an adventure-seeker? Will he be creative? At the same time, I know it will be a tough year, as he tries to assert his independence, and I try to teach him boundaries and rules. I think I'm just being a mommy, who wants to protect her baby as long as possible. It's pretty hard to protect Baby these days, between the scaling of anything he can climb, toddling around whenever he feels like it, and crawling faster than I've seen some people jog. I guess maybe I'll have to come up with a new nickname for Baby...maybe Toddler...or Little Boy..those are pathetic, I have to do better than that. So, off I go, to brainstorm on a new name, and to try to enjoy Baby's last real day of babyhood.

Things I Love Thursday, Part Deux

Yep, I know, I already blogged about something I love. Shouldn't I wait save this other thing I love for next week? Well, inevitably, I'll totally forget about it by then, so I better jot it down before I do indeed forget.

I adore Baby Cheapskate, one of the best baby-related money saving blogs out there. Not only does Angie share the best deals with you, but she also has some great resources, like spreadsheets on how many diapers come in each different sized pack, the Cheep Peeps network which can help you find a deal when you're in need of something in particular. Cheep Peeps also can help you figure out what other people think of certain baby gear, diapers, really anything baby related. It's a pretty awesome site. I highly recommend it!

Things I Love Thursday

This has been a week full of cleaning, so it's time to sing the praises of one of the absolute BEST purchases my husband and I made off of our wedding registry (seeing as though no one bought it for us): the Dyson DC07 Cyclone Animal Upright Vacuum, Purple

This vacuum is one of the most powerful appliances in our house. We used to have two dogs and two cats pre-Baby along with tile floors everywhere except the bedrooms. We had balls of fur rolling around like tumbleweeds. Not after we bought this vacuum, though. It was the only thing I'd ever seen really attack the floors and find all the pet hair, and in an amazingly short period of time. If only it ran itself! Now, with Baby so intent on finding things in the carpet to put his mouth, I vacuum much more often, which I'm sure helps, but it's just an amazing vacuum. It's got a million attachments, including a pretty cool one for vacuuming upholstery. It's also incredibly easy to empty. It has no bag, which is nice, so you just detach the canister, put it over a garbage can, and hit the magic button. Occasionally, if I've waited too long to empty it, I have to put on a glove and help some of the pet hair come out of the canister, but that's my own darn fault for filling it past the line.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Birthday cake madness begins!

For whatever reason, I decided this morning that I needed to get started with the baking festivities for this weekend's first birthday for Baby. I proceeded to bake a simple yellow cake, from my all-time favorite cooking source, America's Test Kitchen. Well, I baked it in a small round, like the size of a top tier of a wedding cake, for Baby's smash cake. Sounds good so far, right? Wrong. Wilton and America's Test Kitchen clearly do not agree on how long the cake takes to bake. Wilton said 25-30 minutes. In reality, it took almost 45. A bit of a disparity, huh? It sure does look pretty though - look:
I used the leftover batter to make some cupcakes, for us grownups to eat, and plan to make a second smash cake with the rest of the batter after this one cools off and is out of the pan. If that ever happens.

Woo! Now, all I'll have to bake tomorrow is Elmo - and let's hope that he doesn't lose an eye again!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

T minus three days until Baby's birthday

It's only three days until Baby's very first birthday. Yikes. I've got a million things to do, but for whatever reason, I'm so tired that I can barely imaging getting off of the couch. We went to My Gym today, and had a great time, save for a scary almost-tumble-moment that spooked Baby pretty good. Baby's exhausted too, and napping peacefully at the moment. I'm just trying to think about what's left to be done for Baby's birthday.

Part of the challenge is that he will have his birthday on Friday, with a small Mommy/Daddy party, and then the big party on Saturday. So, I have to bake a cake for Friday, plus his smash cake for Saturday and the big cake. And I need to figure out the appetizers to put out at the big party. Do I want to make something? I'd love to show off and make something, but I don't think so, I think I'll just buy some cheese and crackers and maybe some veggies and dip or something. Or nuts. I don't know. I guess I'm going to have to start putting stuff together tomorrow, really, between the shopping and the baking. I did look at the party supplies, and see that we're short on birthday hats, so I picked up more of those yesterday.

So, let's see, I ought to make a list. Otherwise nothing will get done.

1. Bake Friday birthday cake or cupcakes. I'm thinking cupcakes will make more sense here.
2. Bake smash cake for Saturday.
3. Bake Saturday Elmo cake.
4. Decorate Elmo cake.
5. Decorate dining room.
6. Clean up kitchen after baking bonanza is over.
7. Grocery shop and pick up other loose ends for party.

I think that's all, outside of the massive cleaning going on...that better be all - time's running out already!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

It's Monday, therefore, it's time to make sure the menu is in order. I really enjoy menu planning. Not only does it help me make sure that I use up the food I have in the house, but it also saves time - we put Baby to bed at 7 o'clock every night, and I try to get dinner on the table very shortly thereafter. There's usually very little time for me to figure out what to have for dinner, so menu planning really makes my life easier...and cheaper - I don't buy random things at the store anymore. I buy what I need!

Monday - Bubba Burgers on the grill and crinkle fries
Tuesday - Crispy fish fillets and oven fries
Wednesday - My famous pancakes
Thursday - Homemade deep dish pizza (yum!) and salad
Friday - Glazed pork chops and mashed potatoes
Saturday - Spaghetti and homemade pasta sauce
Sunday - Beef teriyaki and rice

I get hungry just looking at that! This week is Baby's first birthday, so it's going to be a crazy week, but hopefully we'll be able to stick to the menu plan for the week.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Time for a change

I haven't had my hair cut in a little more than six months now. I don't have time for that kind of thing anymore, the way I used to. I don't make time, really, for myself much at all. Five minutes to brush on some foundation in the morning to cover up my blemishes and under eye circles, and throw on some clothes and deodorant and brush my hair. And of course throw it in the requisite ponytail. I decided today that I'm sick of the ponytail. Baby pulls on it, and I'm just sick of it. I needed a change.

So, I hunted on the Internet to find a salon that was worthwhile that was open today, on a Sunday, which is apparently rare (I never realized). Finally, I found the Shear Art Salon and Spa, which isn't too far from my house, and I'd heard mixed reviews about over the years. Well, I had an awesome experience. Ashley, my stylist, was great - totally easy and fun to talk to, a straight shooter who was honest with me about the style I was interested in, and a very good stylist to boot. I watched "Grey's Anatomy" with Husband last night, and Addison was on, as part of the big "Grey's Anatomy"/"Private Practice" crossover thing going on, and she had a cute new haircut I hadn't seen before. I decided this morning that I needed to chop nearly seven inches off my hair and get that cut, the shortest haircut I've ever gotten in my life. I was totally frightened while I chatted with Ashley and watched chunks of my hair land in front of me on my smock, but when I looked in the mirror, I was totally pleased. It will definitely take some getting used to, and I'm pretty sure it's not going to fit in a ponytail very well, but I like it. It's cute, it's different, and it's a change. Now if only it had changed my nasty attitude from this weekend. I've been terribly PMS'y and grumpy most of the weekend. Hopefully Monday will bring a new attitude!

What's for dinner, the belated edition

Yikes, I'm not too proud of tonight's dinner.

Today is the Daytona 500, and in honor of our dinner last year during the Daytona 500, when I was nine months pregnant and craving buffalo wings, was buffalo wings in a local family bar/pub type place. The Daytona 500 happened to be on, and we actually enjoyed watching it. Just a week later, we were welcoming Baby into the world, and we had officially become NASCAR fans. So, to celebrate, I decided to make boneless buffalo wings today for dinner.

I found the recipe in Cook's Country magazine, which has been a very reliable source of recipes in the past. I'm guessing I did something wrong, because I doubt the recipe was bad. But dinner sure was. Our chicken was soggy, not crunchy at all. I think maybe my oil wasn't quite hot enough. Regardless, dinner was kind of a major disappointment. Boo :(

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What's for dinner, the yum edition

Well, our Valentine's Day dinner is over, and it was quite a hit! The crab cakes were quite awesome, except for the fact that it made a bit too much (oh well). The surprising part was how easy it was to put the crab cakes together. Frying them was a bit of a pain - I've never been a pro at flipping the darn things. But boy, did they taste good. Oh! But I forgot to take a picture of them! Darn!! I guess I'll just have to make them again, huh? Darn!

Happy Valentine's Day

Woo, it's Valentine's Day! I'm a total sucker for the cute cards and candy and all of Valentine's Day, always have been. I was the kid in class who always brought cupcakes and cookies in on Valentine's Day, even into middle school. I think I stopped in high school (it certainly wasn't cool). This was our first Valentine's Day with Baby, one of his very last big day-related firsts (his birthday being the last, other than his first day of school). Baby wasn't too thrilled about the cute Valentine's Day cards he got, but he was excited to see Mommy and Daddy open their little tokens of his affection. Last week, when Baby and I were out at the mall to walk around, he told me he wanted to get his Mommy and Daddy a little something to thank them for being so awesome, and that Valentine's Day was a good occasion for that - so he picked out some nice cologne for Daddy and a new purse for Mommy. We were very happy to open our presents this morning, needless to say. We also had some nice pancakes (from the freezer, from when I made pancakes last Monday) for breakfast. I ought to get up and get started on the crab cakes for dinner. Yes, that's a pretty good idea, actually.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Evil neighbors

I have evil neighbors who live across the street. They come and go at all hours, and my walls are like paper - I hear every door slam, every noisy car that drives's infuriating. Well, they have reached a new level of infuriation this week...

My previously safe-feeling neighborhood has become the scene of graffiti, not once, not twice, but THREE times this week. Seriously? I live in the nice part of town, not the hood. What's up with this?

Why am I pointing the finger at the evil neighbors? Well, if it wasn't them, it was some of their friends, I'd almost lay money on it. Not because the graffiti had a big red arrow pointing at their house or anything, it's just the kind of people they are and that they hang out with. Plus, we never had this problem before they came to the neighborhood. Argh.

Off to call the police about today's latest graffiti. Lovely.

My blender is no food processor

OK, so the honest truth: I made my breadcrumbs in a blender (gasp!). Oh, the horror!! It wasn't exactly horror, it was just difficult. You definitely couldn't do more than one piece of bread at a time, and even then, it was like I needed to tear up the bread for the blender to really chop up the bread well. I bought the bread that America's Test Kitchen (my kitchen gods) said to - Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Soft White bread. It sure does smell good. The morale of the story? Don't send a blender to do a food processor's job. I guess I must start saving for a food processor, if I want to continue cooking the way I have been. Or maybe I'll get one with our tax return, who knows.

The Friday Five

Here's a new tradition for you: the Friday Five. Five moments that were really good this week.

Here are my five for this week, in no particular order:

1. Baby taking several steps to me at My Gym today.
2. Watching NASCAR with Husband.
3. Going to the park with Baby and Husband.
4. Baby trying to drink out of the cow sippy cup I bought him at Target today
5. Dog kissing Baby on the head after getting beaten (or patted) by Baby today

So there, my very first Friday Five. Feel free to do your own and leave them below!

Happy Friday!

What's for dinner?

On tonight's menu, we've got chicken fingers and honey mustard dipping sauce. Yum! I'm just debating as to what I will do with the breadcrumb situation. See, I don't have a food processor, which is what's required to make things like breadcrumbs from scratch. And that's the tastiest way to have things like chicken fingers, crab cakes, and the like. I used to have a Mini Prep food processor, which worked fine for the most part, before I really got into cooking, but it's died. :( So, I either need to experiment and see if my blender will do the trick (I'm thinking it will more puree the bread than chop it), buy a food processor (which my husband would kill me for), or just use Panko (which is a distant last choice). Hmmm...we'll see, I guess.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Things I Love Thursdays

The Diaper Diaries, another great mom blog, has a great Thursday meme - Things I Love Thursdays. I thought I'd join in, because there are a lot of things that I love that I'd love to share.

For this Thursday, let's start with something that I could not live without. My iPod.

Don't get me wrong, I kind of think that the whole Apple/Mac thing is practically cult-like. But...the iPod is my lifeline. When I have chores to do, I listen to music to push me through it, and with my iPod, I can listen to a totally random mix of the tens of thousands of songs that I have on it. When I take a relaxing shower, I plug my iPod into some speakers, and jam out. When I exercise (you know, those rare occassions), I put in my earbuds and crank up my iPod. My iPod makes my day better. I love music. Love, love, love it. I know more lyrics to songs than I remember about history class in high school. There is nothing like music to change your mood, or to take your mind off of your difficult baby whom you don't understand (or maybe that's just me). My iPod makes it easy for me to listen to music and enjoy it, no matter where I am. I don't want to ever have to buy one again, because they are so ridiculously expensive, but I love the darn thing!

What's for dinner tonight?

Well, last night we wound up not having beef teriyaki...unless we had wanted frozen beef - the stupid sirloin didn't thaw, hardly at all, after being in the fridge overnight and all day. Bummer. Oh well. So we'll be having beef teriyaki tonight! We wound up just having some takeout pizza, nothing special at all.

I did, however, finally decide on what we'll be having for Valentine's Day dinner - I've been thinking about it all week, and changing my mind every five minutes. One minute it's surf and turf, another minute it's homemade pizza, another minute it's meatloaf... But it won't be any of those things - it'll be crab cakes! Homemade crab cakes! Yum! I know the crabmeat won't be cheap, but we didn't spend all of our grocery money this last paycheck, so I will use the leftovers to create a really nice dinner. Hopefully, my husband won't turn his nose up at my crab cakes - he's a bit of a crab cake connoisseur. This will be my first time making them, so it should be interesting!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Little boys and their toys

So, today, Baby and I went to Once Upon a Child to turn in his portable swing that he really only used one time. We were able to get $15 for it, which was nice, and we found Baby's new favorite toy - a Playskool yellow school bus, which happens to be soft and squishy. He loves the darn thing, and sobbed his head off when I had to take it out of his hand for a moment to buckle him in his car seat. We went to TJ Maxx to tool around a little after that, and I let him play with the bus while we walked around there, but in the childrens' section, I heard the bus fall. But I couldn't find it! I looked under the stroller - nope. Under Baby - nope. I tried to backtrack - nope. Then I finally thought about looking under the racks where we were standing when I heard the "thunk", and sure enough, there it was. Phew! That was a close one. Baby was awfully mad during the mad searching, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What's for dinner tonight?

Mmmm, yummy beef teriyaki for dinner tonight! This is totally my new favorite dinner. I absolutely love it - not only is it incredibly easy to put together, but it tastes absolutely delicious. I will try to take a picture of it tonight so you can see just how yummy it looks. And if I can manage to take a picture, I'll also put the recipe up here, so you can enjoy it too. Yum! :)

Cleaning induced time warp

It's funny, when you go through things you haven't seen in a long time. Today's cleaning project is cleaning my desk. At first, I just kind of intended to clean up the top of my desk - you know, the part everyone sees - but then I decided to go gung-ho, and really clean it out. I haven't been through it in...well, a long, long time apparently. I found paperwork from my initial student loans back in 1999. I found poems I wrote in middle school and high school. I found a copy of my high school transcript. Lots of random things. But it feels good to go through it and get rid of the things that don't really hold any sentimental value and just take up space. Like my old Palm Pilot that hasn't worked in over eight years. I need to tackle the desk again during Baby's second nap, to go through the filing cabinet drawer I have, but I feel like I really made some good progress. It feels so productive to do this, I almost wish I'd tackled it sooner.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What I'm reading

So I'm at a loss of what to say at the moment, but I actually have a few minutes to post, so I thought I'd share what I'm reading right now - "The Time of My Life" by Allison Winn-Scotch. When I rediscovered the public library (a GREAT way to save money, if you like to read) last year, I happened upon her first book, "The Department of Lost & Found." It was an amazing read, and has become one of my favorite books. I tore through it in just a few days, even with baby duty. When I heard about her second book coming out, I couldn't wait for the library to get it into stock, so I went to Barnes and Noble and picked it up. I'm about halfway through it, and I am absolutely loving it.

The premise is that a slightly-dissatisfied-with-life mom happens to somehow go back in time, knowing what she knows now, to try again with her ex, pre-baby, pre-husband and all. It's a thought I'm sure every mother has had at some point in time, that life would be different if they'd wound up with another man. Basically, the main character gets a chance to have a "do-over," and re-make some of the biggest decisions in her life. So far, it's been very fun to read, and I've really enjoyed it. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books that I'm going to be sad to finish off.

What's for dinner?

It's Monday, which is usually Brinner night in our household (breakfast for dinner). Tonight, we'll be having buttermilk pancakes for dinner. Nothing special, but hopefully they'll turn out yummy. That's the important part, after all.

Table food for Baby

We spent the weekend working on feeding Baby more table food rather than baby food. With his first birthday fast approaching, I feel like we're a little behind on the whole finger food/table food thing. He's had those little Gerber puffs as like an appetizer or snack pretty much every day for the last four or five months, but not much beyond that for table food. So this weekend, I made him some whole wheat pancakes, and froze the extras (which will probably last all week), and have been tearing those up for breakfast. He finishes about 1/3 to 1/2 of a pancake. Then for lunch yesterday, I attempted softening an apple via the microwave and a bowl of water (effectively steaming the thing). Baby didn't care for it too much, and wound up having some plain yogurt for lunch. I finally came across a list of suggested finger or table foods for baby in "What to Expect During the First Year," so I need to work on getting some of those things in the house. I think tomorrow we might try really overdone pasta, cut up into nicely sized pieces. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Yawn, it's Sunday already

Why are weekends so short? I can't believe it's Sunday already. Husband is busy trying to put up the new blinds we got at Lowe's for the living room (after Bad Dog ate the faux wood plantation blinds we had in an attempt to see out the window when left home alone), and I'm trying to wake up. Baby's napping (I'm jealous). So let's see, what's new...

We brushed Baby's teeth with his very first real toothbrush last night. We've been using a plastic brush that Husband or I put on our index finger, but Baby bites pretty hard down on it, so it's not very comfortable. So we bought him a real toothbrush yesterday at Target. He likes it a lot, too much even maybe - he cried when we put it away last night, after wrenching it out of his hot little hand. He did a little better with it this morning.

I'm baking some simple cookies this morning/afternoon for Husband to take to work to celebrate Valentine's Day this week (and of course some to leave at home with me, too) - Cake Mix cookies. You take a chocolate cake mix, add some oil and and egg and some surprise like chocolate chips or M&M's, and you're good to go. They're cute, yummy, and very easy to make. I'll post the recipe with some pictures later on today.

So what's for dinner tonight? Simple Fried Rice. I made my rice last night, and have chilled it overnight, just like the recipe says to, and I'm very much looking forward to it. I need to cook up some chicken to go with it, but that shouldn't take very long at all. I may just bake some in the oven and cut it up. Actually, that's not a bad idea at all...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Just kidding...what's really for dinner?

Remember my waffling? Now I've totally waffled out of making dinner. We're ordering pizza - the first NASCAR race in several months is on tonight, and for whatever reason that calls for junk food in my head. Next week, for the Daytona 500, we'll have boneless buffalo wings with a new recipe I've found. See what I mean about NASCAR equaling junk food?

What's for dinner?

To be honest, I'm waffling on dinner. I made whole wheat pancakes for breakfast this morning and then baked cookies this afternoon, so I'm feeling a smidgen kitchen'd out...but what's on the menu is fried chicken. Last weekend, we postponed panko chicken cutlets in favor of going to see "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" at the movies, so I may make the fried chicken that type of fried chicken. Normally, I would make real fried chicken, fried in margarine on the stovetop, and make gravy to put on biscuits. Yes, I know I'm weird. But chicken gravy (or turkey gravy, for that matter) is totally tasty over biscuits. It's scrumptious. I've even got Husband eating them that way now. Darn it, now I'm making myself want chicken that way. I guess we're having real fried chicken then. I guess I'll throw those chicken cutlets back in the freezer. So fried chicken it is. It's super easy, too...

2 c buttermilk
1 whole chicken, cut up (or your favorite bone-in pieces, around 3 lb)
1 tsp Accent
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 c flour
4 Tbsp margarine

1. Marinate chicken pieces in buttermilk for at least 30 minutes before frying. It keeps the chicken juicy.
2. Mix flour, Accent, and salt in a small bowl, and add about 2 Tbsp of buttermilk to the mixture. Mix as best you can. Mixture will be bumpy and lumpy - makes for good chicken crust.
3. After marinating chicken, pick each piece out and all to drip excess buttermilk off before dipping and rolling in flour mixture. It's okay if drips get into the flour mixture.
4. Heat up a 12 inch skillet to medium-high heat and add margarine, until just about smoking. Heat up oven to 350. Fry chicken until a deep golden brown, then flip over (about 4-5 minutes). Fry about 3-4 minutes on the second side, then transfer chicken to an oven safe plate, into a 350 degree oven, while you assemble any other parts of dinner (like gravy).



So those peanut butter cookies I'd intended to bake for Husband last night? Well, they fell by the wayside, because my butter wouldn't soften (it was too cold!), so I'm making them now, and darn, are they good. They're quite peanutty, and melt in your mouth. And aren't they pretty? I love a good peanut butter cookie. The only thing that could make these cookies better would be...some chocolate chips! Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies? Heaven. Have I made you hungry yet?

Friday, February 6, 2009

What's for dinner? I'm hungry already...

Well, Husband is working late tonight, so I'm on my own for dinner. I'm going to be multitasking this evening, between making some kind of treat for Husband (peanut butter cookies, I'm thinking) and making rice to refridgerate for fried rice this weekend. Never make fried rice with fresh rice - it just won't work.

So, tonight, I'm making chicken teriyaki for dinner, using a beef teriyaki recipe that I have loved over the last few weeks. Stay tuned to see how it turns out. I'm already hungry for it. I absolutely love Chinese/Japanese/Asian food. This is one of my favorite recipes. I really hope it translates to chicken nicely. I'll serve it with some hot white rice, or maybe brown, depending on how much white rice I have left in the house (I need the white rice for fried rice).

Last night, Husband ate dinner on his own, while I went out to a Mothers and More event, my very first. Husband had leftover french onion soup for dinner, and I had a banana muffin on my way out. Yum. Fortunately, it was very filling, and I abstained from the treats they had at the Mothers and More event.

Mmm, only five more hours to dinner. Can't wait!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What's for dinner? (Belated edition)

I've been remiss with posting what's for dinner lately...I suppose I ought to start a menu blog weekly, like some of the other blogs I read. Well, here's what you missed last night at our house...

French Onion soup. Yum. It is frightfully cold right now in Florida, and last night was absolutely frigid. We were supposed to have pasta for dinner, but all I could think of was soup, so at 6 o'clock, I ran out to Publix to buy some onions, and dinner was on the table around 7:45. Yikes. It was a late dinner, but it was totally worth it. Definitely a good soup for a cold night.

Speaking of cold, I'm off to make some hot chocolate. Yum.

Spring...or Winter Cleaning

At our house, we have one room that has become where things go to die a lonely death - the guest room closet. And by things, I mean stupid, oddball things that we own for no apparent reason. Like a sock puppet, from back in the day when there was a, with a cute sock puppet in their commercials. The best part is that everything is covered in several inches of cat fur, because our cats pretty much reside in the guest room, which is attached to the guest bathroom, which is attached to the guest closet. Confused yet? I know.

In any case, with Baby's birthday coming up, I'm in cleaning mode, and this morning I started to tackle the guest room closet. Yikes. I found some serious relics. Over 30 VHS tapes of various movies. Some of my very own baby clothes and other baby relics that my mother gave me a few years ago, that I totally forgot I had. Some of my favorite childhood books, that maybe I can try to share with Baby, assuming he doesn't rip them to shreds. This cute little red sweater dress I bought from Newport News like seven years ago, that I didn't fit into when I bought it and I still don't fit into it (yet I hung it on a hanger and smiled at it, and didn't throw it immediately in the trash). It's funny the random things you hold on to. I guess random is kind of the wrong word, because you hang on to things for some reason, whether or not it's one you recognize. Like I hang on to my some of my old stuffed animals from childhood, because when I see them, I kind of feel like a kid again, like there's someone else taking care of me, responsible for me, and I'm not an adult anymore. Sometimes that's a nice feeling. And I think that the tiny eternal optimist in me says that someday I will lose weight and fit into that cute little red dress. Just food for thought.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mrs. Clean, Mrs. Clean...

Why is it that whenever my in-laws are coming over, I feel compelled to spit-polish every inch of my house? It's not as though their house is spic-and-span or anything. So what is it? Am I concerned they won't think I'm taking good enough care of their son and grandson if every surface isn't freshly dusted? Or do I worry they'll turn up their noses and leave if the kitchen counter isn't free of clutter? It's so silly, I really wish I could tell myself to stop, but instead, I've spent the last hour and half listening to my iPod (while Baby naps) and cleaning. The one place I draw the line is the guest room, known as the Cat Room.

Our two cats live the Cat Room, pretty much in fear of our dog and Baby, during all of our waking hours. They roam the house at night, but they pretty much stay to themselves, with the exception of when they're hungry or pathetically in need of attention. It is the one room in the house that I am always embarrassed of. I plan to fix that, though, before Baby's birthday comes, because Husband's best friend will be staying with us to help celebrate Baby's first birthday, and I don't want him to sleep on the couch. I hate when people sleep on the couch, they're in my way when Baby gets up wicked early, and I feel bad waking them. Guess how far I've gotten on cleaning the cat room: nowhere. I've made a list, and I have grandiose plans for overhauling the room and getting it all cleaned up, so far, I haven't really made the time to get in there and get started. Stay tuned!

He bit me...and it didn't feel like a kiss

So Baby has reached the biting phase. This is totally a phase I am hating. Especially given that I'm the one who gets bitten 95% of the time. He bit me this morning when he was trying to climb up me to get to the telephone on the counter above my head. I pulled him back, said to him firmly (probably too firmly given his reaction) "NO biting. Biting hurts. Biting bad." Baby immediately started sobbing. Like I said, too firm, I guess. It really hurt. His teeth are like little piranha teeth. They are so sharp! No joke!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Baking Day

Today has been awfully productive thus far - I have baked a double-batch of brownies and a double-batch of banana crumb muffins are in the oven right now. The best part is that the muffins are actually quite healthful. The brownies, not so much, but they taste darn good! It's the brownie recipe I grew up with, which I listed in an earlier entry. They totally rock.

Baby and I went to Story Time this morning at Barnes and Noble, which was fun. Baby got a chance to play with some other kids at the Thomas the Train set up in the kids' section, also, which he always enjoys. After Story Time, we drove by Denny's, since they were offering a free Grand Slam until 2 pm today, but the line was huge and out the door, so we didn't stop. Instead, we went to a nearby produce stand that advertises that they sell 4 lb of bananas for $1. We got bananas, for our muffins, and some "fresh" corn on the cob - we'll see how that turns out, because I'm a bit of a corn on the cob connoisseur. We stopped by Publix for eggs and a super deal on Earth's Best baby food (BOGO plus a $1 off coupon for every 10 jars purchased), and I peeked in the produce section - bananas were 69 cents a pound. I saved a bundle!

PS - Baby is peacefully taking his afternoon nap today, despite yesterday's nap drama. Phew!

Monday, February 2, 2009

No, no, no, you can't give up another nap!

I am afraid Baby is trying to tell me that he only wants one nap a day. Oh my goodness! Whatever will I do with just one nap of free time to do chores and blog???? Right now, he's supposed to be napping, and instead, he's chattering and sucking his thumb quite loudly. I don't believe he's going to be napping this afternoon, since he's been lying down for over 45 minutes already. He's too young for just one nap, I don't understand. The book I've used as my sleep bible for him pretty much since he was born says if he plays instead of sleep then I know he's ready for just one nap, but he's definitely not playing. He's threatening to cry. I don't know what to make of this. He's been taking both naps really without fail for many, many weeks now, after a little blip or two here and there.

It's an awfully gross rainy day outside, which makes me feel awfully sleepy. Doesn't it make Baby sleepy too? I hate these kinds of days, when it's rainy and Baby is cranky. We're stuck in the house, and both of us seem to get a bit tense about it. I hate taking him out in the rain - not that I believe that old-fashioned notion that you can catch a cold by being out in the rain, but because it's rather chilly out, and I'd rather Baby not be freezing because he's wet and it's cold.

Cross your fingers for me that Baby will fall asleep. I'm still hoping. He's got another 45 minutes or so before he would normally wake up from his nap.

Apron Giveaway!

Woo hoo! Mama Kat over at Mama's Losin' It is hosting a giveaway for a super nifty retro apron from Carolyn's Kitchen to one lucky reader. To find out more, visit Mama Kat at I totally recommend her blog - she's snarky and fun - totally the kind of blog I love to read! She tells stories about her family and her life with such zest and humor.

Here's a link to the giveaway: Apron Giveaway

Good luck!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Just got back from the movies with Husband. It was nice to get out the house with just him and have some fun. I enjoyed the movie, though it was a bit cheesy and predictable, but it was fun. On the other hand, the concessions were wicked overpriced. Since when does a pizza, large soda and popcorn equal $22??????? Ridiculous. The popcorn tasted darn good though.

I can't even remember the last time Husband and I went to the movies. I was racking my brain on the way to the movie theater to remember, and I just can't. I know I was pregnant with Baby, so obviously, it was quite some time ago. When Baby was little - maybe 2 or 3 months old, I remember Husband forced me out of the house with him. Mother-in-law stayed home with Baby, but it was the first time I'd been away from Baby, and I was totally uncomfortable and nervous the whole time. We wound up just going out to dinner, and skipping the movie. The whole time, I was nervous Mother-in-law would do something "wrong" with Baby - what, I have no idea. Just the irrational thoughts of a new mom, I suppose. It's hard to remember when I was that uptight about being away from Baby. I suppose in a way, I still am - I don't like to be away from him when he's awake. I don't mind running an errand while he's napping, or heading out to a movie after he goes to bed. I guess maybe I still am a bit uptight. Or a lot uptight.

Reality TV is so ridiculous...and fun

Oxygen is running an "America's Next Top Model" marathon today, in light of all the Super Bowl coverage. I absolutely LOVE "America's Next Top Model." It is the most retarded show, and some of the contestants are so ridiculous, but for whatever reason, it's so enjoyable to watch. I'm not into fashion, I'm plus size so I'm not really into models or anything, so I'm not sure what's so attractive.

In fact, I'm not really sure why I like reality TV so much. I'm intelligent enough to recognize that it's not actual reality - yet, most of the programs on our DVR are reality. "Sober House" from VH-1 (the sequel to "Celebrity Rehab"), "Rock of Love Bus" from VH-1 (the sequel to "Rock of Love"), "Amazing Race" from CBS (one of my personal favorites), "The Real World" from MTV, and many, many more it seems. Yet another new one starts on Monday, actually - "I Love Money 2," which has a bunch of alums from the VH-1 reality shows "I Love New York," "Flavor of Love," and "Rock of Love." That might be trashiest one of all - the first season was a mess of cat fights, love triangles, and general silliness, while the contestants competed for $100K.

I'm excited that "Amazing Race" is coming back soon - it's my guilty pleasure that allows me to travel without the jet lag. I love getting to see all the different countries they go to. And inevitably, there's some drama along the way. Last season, in the next to last episode, one of the contestants left his passport in one of the cabs in Russia. I wonder how long it took him to get out of the country after that mess. Yikes.

Oh, Baby's up now, must go fetch a bottle and find some kind of entertaining activity to pass the rest of the day. Husband and I are going to buck the whole Super Bowl craziness and head out to the movies tonight while our friendly neighbor hangs out at our house while Baby sleeps. We're going to be the last people to see "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" - and I'm hoping it will be entertaining. I really am. We haven't been to the movies together, I think, since Baby was born almost a year ago, so this should be a nice treat. Stay tuned for my thoughts on the movie experience. Mmmm, movie theater popcorn...I can't wait!

My photo dilemma

So, I've officially downloaded Picasa and created a Shutterfly account. Picasa was actually kind of irritating - their web albums might be okay, but I didn't really like the whole program. It sorted my pictures by folder and by year, which was kind of confusing. I liked Shuttefly, especially their new share site, so I think that's what I'll be moving my photos to. Especially now that every time I try to use the upload function on Snapfish, Firefox crashes, which is infuriating. I think that's the end of my dilemma on photo software. Phew!


I'm trying to make Husband's lunches more homemade, and sort of healthful, so I made some brownies today, both for me to have and for Husband to have in his lunch. I haven't had these brownies in a long time - they're so yummy. It's my mom's recipe, that she says dates back to her mom's Betty Crocker cookbook. They're so simple and yummy, just as simple, really - the ingredients are the kinds of things I generally have around the house, because I like to bake, and you really can't screw them up. Here's the recipe:

Type A Mommy's Favorite Brownies
Printer-friendly recipe

1/3 cup butter
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In small bowl, put chocolate squares and butter, and stick in the microwave. Nuke for at least 1 minute, then take out and stir. You will probably need to nuke again, for around 30 seconds to 1 minute before the chocolate and butter truly melt together. Stir until smooth, set aside.
3. Grab another bowl, and mix flour, salt, and baking powder with a fork.
4. Once slightly cooled (no longer hot), add sugar and eggs to chocolate/butter mixture and mix. Add chocolate mixture to flour mixture and blend well.
5. Pour batter into pan and smooth around to fill pan evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Mmm, enjoy!
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