Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Personal Training: Day One

Many of you know that I have been attempting to get into a regular exercise routine. Today I went a step further and started personal training sessions with three good friends of mine, in an attempt to really push myself to get into better shape (and therefore lose weight). I was totally freaked out about today's first session - I had visions of running laps or doing 100 crunches, none of which came to fruition (at least today).

It's been a long time since I've been in shape. Probably high school, really. After I stopped doing gymnastics in middle school, my shape got increasingly lost over the years. I've never really enjoyed exercise, but as I get older, I realize it's kind of necessary, unless I want to just eat salads for the rest of my life (which I don't). Exercise is just a necessary evil. I'm kind of embarrassed at how out of shape I am, and I was certain that today I would feel a whole new level of embarrassment over my lack of physical prowess, but in front of my friends. Fortunately, that was not the case.

Today's session was basically a circuit workout, consisting of 3 minutes of cardio, followed by weights, then lunges, then cardio, then weights, and so on. We did four full revolutions in our hour-long session today, and though I sweated like some kind of fraternity brother, I feel good about today's session. I really liked our trainer, she seemed to pick up on our individual strengths and weaknesses pretty quickly, though she was having a tough time with our names. I'm not feeling too terribly sore today, but admittedly our trainer was going easy on us today on purpose. She plans to really get things going on Thursday. I think I should be scared.

So I'll be officially training twice a week, and trying to do a good cardio workout at least one, if not two more days a week. If this doesn't kick my butt into shape, I don't know what will. OK, yes, I do, but a life without chocolate isn't worth living! Stay tuned to see how hard things get, and to hear how it's going!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for June 29th

How did it get to be Monday already? I feel like the weekend was squandered away on chores and endless errands, and not too much fun was had, I think by any of us. Fortunately, with the holiday weekend coming up, we should be able to fit in some fun, especially since Husband hopefully will come home for good Thursday night. Well, not for good, like permanently, but hopefully for a good while, at least. Needless to say, while cooking for just Baby and me again this week, things will be a bit on the boring side again. Oh well.

Monday - Chicken and stuffing (from a Campbell's box mix, that's pretty edible)
Tuesday - Spaghetti and garlic bread
Wednesday - Barbecue chicken
Thursday - Mac and cheese and cheddar-garlic biscuits (I use the frozen Pillsbury variety)
Friday - PW Chicken Strips (a Pioneer Woman recipe, stay tuned and I will post Friday)
Saturday - Burgers on the grill
Sunday - Maryland fried chicken with cream gravy (a new recipe!! stay tuned for the recipe)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Really? Another award? Gee, thanks!!

It's been a hairy week in my household, between my A/C troubles and Husband being away, so it was really touching when I read in my comments this morning that I got an award! It comes from Gena at Serene Moments, who was also honored with this award, so make sure to visit her blog as well.
Gena honored me with the Kreativ Blogger award - which is so awesome, because I often doubt my creative abilities. So, thank you Gena! Now, down to the nitty gritty about this award. Must make sure to follow the rules and share the bloggy love!

The Rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

Let's see if I can think of seven things about me that might be considered interesting...
1. I can't seem to stop watching the old Michael Jackson videos on VH-1 Classic.
2. I used to have two dogs, but now only have one - the other dog was a little too overexcited once Baby came, and we were too nervous about her around Baby. We found her a wonderful home, where she is an only pet and is doted on ridiculously.
3. I am a spelling freak. I was in spelling bees when I was little (though never the big one), and am a total stickler for spelling.
4. I was a gymnast when I was a kid. I absolutely loved it and dreamed of going to the Olympics one day. (Obviously that didn't happen.)
5. My dad is the one who fostered my love of the public library. We would go together every Saturday afternoon, and he would hang out in the periodicals section and read the business and trade magazines while I scoured the library for a big pile of books to read.
6. I majored in television production in college. I've never really used my degree - I never realized how low entry-level TV job paid, and I ultimately couldn't afford to start out with such a low salary, with all the debts I had upon graduation.
7. I'm a planning kind of girl. I have to make to do lists every day so that I make sure to get all the stuff I want to accomplish done each day. If I don't write it down, inevitably I forget about it.

Phew, I wasn't sure I could come up with seven! Now, there are tons of bloggers who are totally deserving of this award. Here are seven of them, in no particular order:
1. A Book a Day
2. I've Changed My Name to Mommy
3. Infectious Chatter
4. Eat at Home
5. The Brownie Project
6. Love, Actually
7. Slow Like Honey

Happy Saturday to you all! :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Virtual Girls' Night Out: The Reality Show Edition

Woo hoo! TGIF! Time for a Virtual Girls' Night Out! Things have been hairy the last few weeks, so I've been a little M.I.A., but I fully plan to get my blog hopping on tonight!

Those of you who read my blog faithfully surely are aware of my addiction to reality programming. You name it, I've probably watched it at least once. And while some reality TV fails to impress me, a good bit of it is darn entertaining.

I especially love reality programming that's talent-related, like "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance." Ann, our lovely host of the original Virtual Girls' Night Out, reminded me of a reality show that's now defunct that was one of my absolute favorites - "Rock Star: Supernova."

The whole "Rock Star" thing started with "Rock Star: INXS," where a bunch of rock star wannabes auditioned to become the new Michael Hutchence (who was pretty darn irreplaceable, if you ask me). Then the next year, they had "Rock Star: Supernova," casting a lead singer for a brand new band called Supernova, made up of numerous band castoffs, including Dave Navarro, one of the guys from Guns n Roses, Tommy Lee, and one of the guys from Metallica. On "Rock Star: Supernova" there were two people who truly captivated me, that I rooted for wholeheartedly (neither of whom won, of course): Storm Large and Ryan Star.

After seeing the last few seasons of "American Idol" wind up with a few decent rockers, I've been mildly surprised not to see the whole "Rock Star" franchise not come back, but who knows, time will tell. It was definitely a good show, while it lasted, even if the bands it created or completed didn't exactly succeed.

And lucky Miss Ann actually went to see Storm Large live in concert!! I'm so jealous. She was celebrating her anniversary, and she's curious this week if you've met the love of your life, and if so, how did you meet?

While the story of how I met and fell in love with my husband is kind of complicated, the short answer as to how we met is that we went to the same college, and on the first day of my first spring semester of school, I was taking a class called Writing for Electronic Communication, and he was in my class.

So this week, I have two questions - what is your favorite reality TV program, current or retired? And have you been lucky enough to meet the love of your life, and if so, how did you meet? Can't wait to read your answers!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's on my nightstand: June

It's been a busy reading month for me, which was a welcome change. Some things I've read have been light and easy, and some not so much. Some books that I'd picked out to read were a bit disappointing, so I wound up finding others. I'm almost done with the book I'm reading right now, so I'm going to count it in the Read pile - I anticipate finishing that one off tonight.

Here's what's on my nightstand for next month:
1. Gilding Lily by Tatiana Boncampagni
2. Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein (my next book club book)
3. Sunday Money by Jeff Macgregor - Husband's still working on trudging through this one for our informal book club, so I haven't picked it up yet
4. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
5. Mercury in Retrograde by Paula Froelich
6. Party Girl by Anna David

Here's what left my nightstand this month:
1. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
2. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
3. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
4. Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center
5. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
6. Bought by Anna David

So that's this month's wrap-up. I'm relieved to finally have read the entire Twilight quadrology (did I just make that word up?), and I was pretty satisfied with the end of the last book. The last one got a bit left-field-y for me, but I still enjoyed it. My favorite book from last month easily was Everyone is Beautiful, though. It was such a beautifully written book.

So what did you read last month? What are you planning to read this month?

Menu Plan Monday...er...Wednesday for June 24th

This has got to be the most behind I've felt in a long time. After the A/C ordeal that we just survived, I'm still working on recovery. Between cleaning up the mess we left behind when we threw things together and then of course trying to unpack what we took with us, I haven't been very bloggy, I know. So here I am, catching up. Here's my menu plan for this week...

Monday - Steak and Shake (yum!)
Tuesday - Beef Lo Mein (Birds Eye Voila frozen meal - wasn't too impressed with this, but it was fast)
Wednesday - Spaghetti and garlic bread
Thursday - Beef teriyaki and white rice
Friday - Famous pan pizza
Saturday - Awesome chicken cutlets
Sunday - Glazed pork chops

I know, no new recipes this week - I had planned to try something new this weekend, but I decided to take the week of from kitchen experimentation in light of the craziness that has shaped my week thus far. Hopefully things will die down very soon!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chapter Two of "As the A/C Freezes"...

Phew. I'm back home. It's just now gotten to 80 degrees in the house, but the A/C is functioning and cooling, which is a super-big relief. Baby's still a bit out of sorts, but he's almost asleep now. That's a huge relief. He was so frustrated and mad before I put him to bed, I think he was just kind of freaked out because he didn't know what to expect for once in his short life. Poor kiddo. I hope tomorrow will be a little easier for him - I'm going to go out of my way for the next couple days to do things as according to plan as much as possible to help him get back into his routine.

The A/C man found NOTHING wrong with the A/C. Seriously. He said it must be an intermittent problem, and he just didn't catch it in the act. Kind of like how when your car is making a hideous noise and you take it to the mechanic, and it totally doesn't make the noise. Ridiculous. So it's totally possible that this lovely episode will happen all over again some day in the future. I am so NOT looking forward to that possibility.

Now I'm parked on the couch, in front of a fan, trying to stay awake (sort of), baking a sheet of Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies, and watching yesterday's episode of "Daisy of Love" and trying to relax. I sure hope I will be less stressed tomorrow after a good night's sleep in my own bed.

Greetings from the land of "As the A/C Freezes..."

Hi all, I'm sure you're wondering why I haven't posted my menu plan (and/or read your blogs) today, and well, it's because I am at the mercy of the hot Florida sun today. My A/C decided to take a vacation yesterday, so we wound up staying at a friend's house for the night (who quite possibly is one of the better friends I've had in my lifetime) and now I'm back at my house, awaiting the million-dollar answer as to why my A/C froze up for the second time in a month. Yikes. Hopefully everything will be back up and running soon (or at least by tonight!!!), but in the meantime, I have to stand in front of a fan on high, because sitting is just too warm, in my 96 (and climbing) degree house. Mr. Baby is at said-friend's house, with my mother, safe in the air-conditioning. Phew. Wish me luck! Now off to down another bottle of water and get my hands off of my hot laptop.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Huffy Puffy

Ever heard of Huffy Puffy? The infamous breakfast pastry? It's apparently quite popular. It's also known as the Puffy Oven Pancake. I decided (around 6 am) this morning to make it for my Father's Day breakfast for Husband (and family), which was both good and bad. I think I might have mis-measured something, because the center didn't rise as much as the edges did, but it still tasted pretty awesome. I forgot to take a picture, because we were too busy eating it.

Huffy Puffy
serves 1-4 people (depending on how many you want to serve)
Printer-friendly recipe

Preheat oven to 475. For each person you're feeding, add 1 egg, 1/4 cup milk, and 1/4 cup flour in a large bowl. Mix well.

Get a large cast iron skillet or gratin pan, and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the oven's all hotted up, put skillet/pan in oven to melt butter. Once butter's melted, pour batter into skillet/pan immediately and bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on how well your Huffy Puffy rises).

Serve hot, and garnish with cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, or maple syrup. Super yum!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies

I feel guilty for having baked chocolate chip cookies again. Husband can't (or shouldn't) eat them, because of his ridiculous instructions from his GI doc, but on the plus side that does mean that the cookies last for a long time because I don't have to share. Plus, I'm not so great at sharing, at least when it comes to yummy baked goods. But, I must say, these cookies are so huge and decadent that I kind of want to share! This might just be my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

If you are a fan of big buttery, sugary taste in your chocolate chip cookies, with crisp edges and soft and melty centers, this is definitely the recipe for you!

Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from bettycrocker.com

1 1/2 cups of butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag (24 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (4 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed or with spoon until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be VERY stiff). Stir in chocolate chips.
3. On ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by tablespoonfuls or #40 cookie/ice cream scoop 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly.
4. Bake 11-13 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool 2-4 minutes on cookie sheet, then remove cookies and place on cooling rack.

Click here for printable recipe

UPDATE: I made these today (10/30/09) and made them with a much smaller scoop for Baby, which worked out really nicely. If you use a smaller scoop, bake them for approximately 9-10 minutes. I also added a new picture for this recipe, now that I'm slowly becoming a better photographer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Husband Rocks Friday: The Father's Day Edition

It's Father's Day this Sunday, and being a father is one of the biggest roles Husband has, outside of being my husband, so I thought today for MHR Friday, I would ask Baby why he thinks his daddy rocks. Here's are the top 10 reasons Baby's Daddy rocks, in no particular order:

1. My daddy rocks because he carries me around on his shoulders and pretends he can't see me, and asks "Where's Baby?" until I lean down and make my presence known. Silly Daddy.
2. My daddy rocks because he's the one who started to let me use silverware - Mommy was too nervous.
3. My daddy rocks because he chases me all the time.
4. My daddy rocks because he gives the best baths ever.
5. My daddy rocks because he works so hard to take care of Mommy and me.
6. My daddy rocks because he's always laid back, even when Mommy's all high strung.
7. My daddy rocks because he gives the best bear hugs.
8. My daddy rocks because he sometimes lets me bang on his computer. Mostly when he's not looking.
9. My daddy rocks because lets me chew on his kntited coaster.
10. My daddy rocks because he's my daddy. He's awesome!

So there you have it, another edition of My Husband Rocks Friday. BTW, did Friday sneak up on anyone else other than me??? If you want to participate in My Husband Rocks Friday, make sure to visit The Great Adventure.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sometimes being a mom is scary

This morning it sure has been at least. Baby woke up ridiculously early (again) this morning, and started crying pretty much from the moment I laid him down on the changing table to get him out of his PJ's, and didn't stop until he finally fell asleep for a short nap (before we head to the pediatrician's in a little bit). But that's not all.

He's been on a bit of a food strike the last few days. Suddenly, favorite foods like jelly sandwiches are tossed aside and rejected, and even pasta was rejected yesterday. As a result, he's not eaten much, so I thought for sure that he was just hungry. We sat down to a breakfast of oatmeal (because waffles and pancakes are very passe to Baby at the moment), which he tolerated about half a bowl of. That was pretty good. As soon as we sat down in the living room, though, he was a mess again. He was crying so hard that I think he was a bit hysterical. He didn't stop until I offered him his sippy cup with some water in it, but as soon as he decided he was done with the water, he went right back to crying. And it wasn't like "darn it I'm mad" crying, it was pathetic crying where he wanted me to hold him nonstop.

I thought maybe he was still hungry, so I offered him some Cheerios, which he dove into hungrily, and shoved a ton in his mouth. I should have tried to dig them out, but I didn't, he started to chew them, and then started choking. I totally froze. I didn't know what to do. At some point, I started patting his back hard, and screamed for Husband, who hadn't yet left for work, and ultimately Baby vomited all over me, but stopped choking. I handed him to Husband so I could clean up the mess, and just tried to keep it together. I failed in that respect, and totally freaked out about what could've just happened. Baby continued crying, and after I cleaned up the mess, I called the pediatrician and set up a sick baby appointment for later this morning. I laid him down for a nap, and it took him a little while to settle down, but he's quietly asleep now.

Crap, I spoke too soon. He's up from his nap and crying again already. I almost hope he's sick, just so the pediatrician can tell me something other than "it's just a phase." If this is going to be just a phase, I'm sorry, but I might need to do some bawling too. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

I've forgotten about seventeen times this week that tonight is my book club meeting (we're discussing "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls). I hate showing up to a get-together empty handed, so I had to scrounge around the cabinets today to come up with something to bake with what I had on hand. Good thing I had a box of red velvet cake mix - that made this whole recipe possible.

I've seen this recipe in a number of places, though I can't remember where I originally found it. I know Paula Deen has a homemade version, but I must say, mine's a little easier to put together. Not only are they easy to put together, but boy do they taste good! Especially with a nice, frosty glass of milk.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pie
Printer-friendly recipe

1 box red velvet cake mix (you really could use any kind of cake mix, really)
2 eggs
1/2 cup of softened butter (but NOT melted)

Cream Cheese Filling

1 pkg cream cheese
1 cup (one stick) of softened butter (but NOT melted)
2 cups of confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all of the "cookie" ingredients in a big bowl and start mixing. This will take a while. Try to smush all of the cake mix globs that appear. This will take some elbow grease. Be patient. And be careful - red velvet cake doesn't wash off easily.
3. Either roll dough into small balls, or use small cookie scoop to scoop evenly sized balls onto parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake for 11 minutes and cool completely before removing from cookie sheet. This is very important - it's a delicate cookie, so you don't want to remove them too quickly.
4. While the cookies are baking and cooling, beat together the filling ingredients with an electric mixer (or paddle attachment of a stand mixer) until creamy. Feel free to add more powdered sugar as desired.
5. Once all cookies are fully baked and cooled, you can "frost" them. If you're as hardcore as I am, feel free to sort your cookies first to make your sandwich pairs (you know, match like sized/shaped cookies to each other). And feel free to eat one if you wound up with an odd number. Just make sure to dip it in the filling first.
6. Drop a dollop of your filling onto a cookie. Spread it around a little bit, and place your paired cookie on top. Smush the cookies together a little bit to make the filling spread around nicely.
7. Once you've "frosted" them all, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate them. This will help the filling "set" so that it doesn't just smush out of the cookie when you take a bite. Make sure to keep them refrigerated.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dude, what's with the hiccups?

Anyone who knows me knows that when I get hiccups, they are the loudest hiccups you've ever heard. You can hear them down the block. They could probably wake Baby up if I ever wound up with them during a nap or after bedtime. I mean, they are freaking loud. Not only that, but they're kind of painful. They rock my whole body, and that doesn't exactly feel nice, you know? It gets better - I get them pretty often. Not every day, but usually at least once a week.

I've asked every doctor I've ever had in my life why this happens to me (and so often), and no one seems to know. I seem to have passed the lovely habit/medical issue/unattractive behavior to Baby, which is awful. Other pregnant women I knew told me that their babies had hiccups in utero. I thought for sure mine would, too, given my lengthy history with chronic hiccups. And because Husband seems to be pretty unlucky with them too - he doesn't get them often, but when he gets them, wow, stand back. He once had hiccups for four straight days. But that's another story for another post.

Not a single hiccup from Baby in utero. He was rocked by mine several times, but he didn't (as far as I could feel) experience them once. I thought he was going to be lucky and hiccup-free. No such luck. He started getting them when he was about a month old, and still does to this day, but nowhere near as often as I get them.

Want to know how often I've had them this weekend (meaning since yesterday)? FOUR TIMES. No joke. Four freaking times. Twice today and twice yesterday. The ones yesterday after dinner took me a half hour to get rid of.

So...since I seem to be on a hiccup bender at the moment, I thought it'd be a good idea to gather any successful hiccup-removing techniques you guys have to offer. The one that works most often for me at the moment is ten quick sips of cold, cold water. It's not failproof, but it works pretty reliably. So tell me, how do you get rid of the hiccups?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein

Dinner wound up not being a family affair tonight, thanks to a plumbing mishap, but Baby and I enjoyed it. I think with a few tweaks, it would be a very tasty dish. It was just a little on the salty side for my taste - I think next time I try this dish, I'll use the reduced sodium soy sauce. It was ridiculously easy to put together, so I definitely recommend it as a quick and easy dish.

Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein
serves 4
Printer-friendly recipe

3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger (I only used 2 tsp, because I think ginger is a very strong flavor)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 1/2 cups water
4 (3-ounce) pkgs instant ramen noodles (broken into large pieces, seasoning packets discarded)
1 (16-ounce) pkg coleslaw mix
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Simmer soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sugar and cornstarch in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often, until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Transfer half of the soy sauce mixture to large bowl and reserve. Add water to saucepan with remaining soy sauce mixture and return to boil. Add ramen and cook, stirring occassionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in coleslaw mix. Cover and keep warm.

2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to bowl with reserved soy sauce mixture and toss to coat. Transfer noodles to platter and top with chicken. Serve immediately.

Menu Plan Monday for June 15th

Wow, it's already the middle of June. How did that happen? How did it get to be 90 outside? Man, summers in Florida are tough. The other thing that's tough about summertime is sticking to your meal plan, at least it is in our house.

We did horribly last week, between last minute things coming up and such, so much so that I didn't make anything new last week, so I've rescheduled the rest of the month to fit in the two new dishes i planned for last week - you'll see one of them this week. I'm really excited about it too - it's Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein. The recipe sounds ridiculously easy to put to together, so I'm hoping it will be a total smash. I'll be making that tonight and posting the recipe.

I'll be trying two other new recipes this week: skillet steak fajitas and drunken steak. We don't normally eat so much beef in one week, but this weekend will be Father's Day, and I know how Husband loves steak, so I'm trying to treat him a bit. I'll also be baking at least once if not twice this week. So far, I plan to bake some brown sugar cookies in the next day or so, and may bake a cake for Father's Day, too, so stay tuned!!

Here's the official menu for the week:
Monday - Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein
Tuesday - Pancakes
Wednesday - Skillet Steak Fajitas (stay tuned for the recipe!)
Thursday - Spaghetti
Friday - Burgers
Saturday - Glazed Pork Chops
Sunday - Drunken Steak (stay tuned for the recipe!)

So what's on your menu this week? What are you cooking for Father's Day? Make sure to share it with the Org Junkie, the world's best source for tons and tons of menus and recipes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Virtual Girls Night Out: The Pink Lady Edition

Wow, this week really flew by fast. Fortunately, it's another Virtual Girls' Night Out, hosted by the hostess with the most-ess, Ann of Ann Again...and again! This week, we're celebrating the start of summer vacation (at least for those of us with school-aged kids).

So, if you're anything like me, you've seen "Grease" more times than you can count. I even own it, though I haven't watched it since I owned it (thank you, TBS and VH-1 for airing it so many times that I got a little sick of it). This week's party game from Ann is Grease-centric, and it's called If I Were A Pink Lady...

Let's get our Pink Lady jackets and sew on our new names. Follow the chart to find your Pink Lady name.

A - D = Sassy Sue
E - H = Blogger Babe
I - L = Smokin' Molly
M - P = Naughty Nancy
Q - T = Hot Rod Helen
U - Z = Greased Lightning Gertie

I'm Blogger Babe! Woo hoo! So, what's your Pink Lady name?

If you want to get in on all the VGNO fun, make sure to go visit Ann to sign the Mr. Linky!

Martha's Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

Have I mentioned that Husband can't have chocolate right now? I know, it's a total bummer. But his GI doctor said so, so I've been trying to bake things that are less chocolate-y, which is sad for me, because half of the yum of desserts and sweets is the chocolate factor. These cookies were a good compromise - they were mostly peanut butter with very little chocolate. They come from Everyday Food, which is an awesome show on public television as well as a magazine that is published by Martha Stewart. The recipes tend to be simple yet elegant, and the desserts are often really, really awesome.

Martha's Peanut Butter Surprises
courtesy of Everyday Food

1/2 cup peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cups sugar, for rolling dough
36 Reese's peanut butter cups

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
2. I
n a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture in two batches.
Scoop off dough by the tablespoon; roll into balls. Place granulated sugar on a plate; roll balls in sugar, coating completely. Place 2 inches apart on a nonstick insulated baking sheet.
Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven. Press one peanut butter cup in center of each cookie. Return to oven; continue baking until cookies are golden brown and chocolate has begun to melt, about 6 minutes more. Let cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to rack to cool completely.

My Husband Rocks Friday: The Messy Baby Patrol Edition

Dude, how did it get to be Friday already? Where the heck did this week go? I had planned to post a recipe for peanut butter cookies this week. Oh well, I'll do it today, so stay tuned for a yummy peanut butter cookie recipe.

So it's time to talk about Husband again. Already. He's finally home from his last business trip, which is nice, although he was working late for most of this week and getting up at the ungodly hour of 5 am (which is earlier than even I get up, and I get up early). That was not so fun. But, this week, we've finally established the habit of having family dinners every night with Baby, which has been really nice (and not at the same time).

My husband rocks because he is more than happy to take over with Baby when I get to my breaking point. My breaking point often involves food. Baby is going on 16 months old, and is not very good with utensils yet. He tends to dive into food with his hands, which leads me to respond "Eww, gross!" and freak out. That's when Husband steps in (if he hasn't already), and continues the feeding process.

Take last night for example - we sat down to dinner mere moments after he got home from work, and he sat right down with Baby and started cutting up his food and placing it on his tray. We don't bother with plates yet, because Baby just upends them and makes an even bigger mess. Baby had a pile of mashed potatoes that he grabbed and they totally took over his fist. He thought this was pretty cool. He then shoved said fist into his mouth, and wads of mashed potatoes fell all over the place. Same with the meatloaf, which kept falling apart on its own, so he'd grab a piece, bring it to his mouth and it would disintegrate. I totally had to get out the Dirt Devil after this meal. But while I was cringing, Husband was taking it all in stride and was totally at ease with the royal mess Baby was making.

I've always envied that - Husband's ability to be totally calm in most, if not all, stressful situations. At the very least, he appears calm at those moments. Me, on the other hand, not so much. I tend to overreact. That's just me. I'm also the one who flips out when Baby isn't sleeping when he should be and when he isn't doing something the parenting books say he should be, so I guess those are just the parenting roles that we've taken on. Either way, I think he totally rocks as a dad. He's so awesome with Baby. Sometimes I'm jealous of the fun he has with him.

How does your husband rock this week? Make sure to visit The Great Adventure to participate!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tantrums, tears and screaming...oh my!

It's clear that we've entered the toddler years here in the Type A Mommy household. Baby is going on sixteen months old, so apparently the "terrible twos" are starting a little early over here (or things are going to get infinitely worse, which is just a frightening thought). Baby is pushing the envelope daily, whether it's pushing buttons on the TV (which Husband decided was a no-no) and smiling at me as I tell him "no," or having a complete and total meltdown because I won't let him go run around in the kitchen while the oven's on (another no-no around here, because the oven door will only lock when the oven isn't on). A lot of Baby's frustration, I think, is in his lack of ability to communicate what it is that he wants - when he wants something and we get it wrong because we can't figure out what he wants, he gets awfully mad. Yesterday, we visited our local mall's play area, which is normally an area that he loves to run around in. It has some safe things to climb on, which he normally loves as well. Yesterday, though, he was quite difficult. When we got to the play area, he was awfully mad that I picked him up to take his shoes off. Shortly thereafter, he had a total meltdown when the older kids who were there blocked the little log tunnel to where Baby couldn't crawl through it all the way. Poor little guy. He just wanted them to move.

Then yesterday, when we visited a friend of mine for some swim time, Baby got positively furious with me for lying him down to put him in a swim diaper. He got so very worked up, and did again when I laid him down to take the swim diaper off.

Hopefully, his language skills will soon catch up with his physical skills, but until then, I think I'm totally in store for more screaming and more tantrums. I'm trying valiantly to teach him more sign language, which he's picking up quite readily, to help him communicate more easily. If any of you moms have any tips on how to handle these super fun tantrums, please do let me know. Some days are easier than others, but there are definitely days where I just feel helpless, and I don't know what to do to help him chill out. Yikes. And I'm sure it's only going to get harder.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tell All Tuesday: The Lottery Edition

I've Changed My Name to Mommy is hosting a weekly meme called Tell All Tuesday, which has been pretty fun to participate in so far. This week's question pertains to winning the lottery, especially now that money seems to be tight for most people. What would you do if you won $45 million?

Well, this is pretty much a no-brainer for me. I'm one of those people who constantly thinks of things to do with extra money, not that there's much of that around our house these days. But there are definitely things I would love to do with extra money. Lots of things...

1. Buy a house, without any kind of mortgage whatsoever. Ditch the old house - sell it for $1 even. Just get rid of it. (Can you tell how much I don't particularly like the house we're currently stuck in, thanks to the crappy real estate market?)

2. Buy new cars. My car isn't exactly old, but Husband's is, so we'd trade in our old cars and get some nice new ones. I think Husband would probably want a nice truck with an extended cab, and I would want probably a minivan, if I'm being realistic.

3. Set aside college money for Baby and two future kids (I don't think I want any more than 3 kids). Put it in a CD or money market or something so it earns interest as the cost of college continues to increase.
4. Set aside retirement money for Husband and me to retire some place nice and live comfortably. I love the city I live in, I do, but the Florida summers really get to me, and I would love to live in a nice place in Connecticut someday. I would probably totally change my tune come wintertime, but here's what I think Connecticut would be a nice place to retire.

5. Get a new laptop for me and for Husband. Also get me a new cell phone and get him a new all-the-bells-and-whistles BlackBerry.
6. Buy my mom a house and a car she doesn't have to worry about. Give her some retirement money so she can stop working and stop worrying about losing her job.

7. Get a regular cleaning person to help me keep the house clean.

8. Hire an interior decorator - I'm horrible at that kind of stuff.

9. Give some money to a few charities near and dear to my heart - the American Cancer Society, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and March of Dimes.

10. Get a really, really big gift card to Borders or Barnes and Noble and buy beautiful hardback copies of the classics. Also buy some nice trashy books for light reading.

11. Set the rest of the money aside for a rainy day.

So what would you do if you won this week's PowerBall with $42 million dollars? What would you spend money on first?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for June 8th

How did it get to be Monday already? The first weekend with Husband back home went by way too fast. And I'm sure this week will go by much more slowly, because he'll be working late most nights this week. Boo. Oh well, at least there will be yummy dinners for him when he gets home late.

Monday - Waffles (I use the Jiffy biscuit mix for this, they're awesome and super fast)
Tuesday - Gorton's fish fillets and garlic roasted potatoes
Wednesday - Penne pasta and marinara sauce
Thursday - Meatloaf and onion roasted potatoes
Friday - Pan Pizza
Saturday - Shrimp scampi (a new recipe!)
Sunday - Apple maple glazed chicken breasts (a new recipe!)

To those of you who were anxiously awaiting my pork lo mein recipe, never fear - it will be back on the menu next week. The meat that I had purchased wound up going bad, as I had left it out on the counter to thaw, and proceeded to forget about it, and it was at room temp for just too long for me to be comfortable cooking it.

I will be posting the shrimp scampi and apple chicken recipes after the fact, and hopefully they will be two new yummy dishes to add to my repertoire.

Don't forget to visit Org Junkie to find even more menu plans to get some menu inspiration!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Woo hoo!

Oh my goodness, I officially have over 50 followers now! Oh, happy day!!! I feel like a speech is in order...
This is so exciting! I never thought when I started blogging that anyone would actually want to read the ramblings of my mind, but I'm so pleased that there are people who do. My followers and commenters make me smile, so I'm so happy to have each and every one of you here.

Woo hoo!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Virtual Girls' Night Out: The Flower and Fortune Cookie Edition

Super TGIF!! I didn't get to participate in VGNO last week, so I'm extra excited to do some blog hopping today/tonight. This week, Ann's thinking about flowers, because there's a rose parade in her town this weekend. Must be nice - I wish we had more parades here, I bet Baby would really get a kick out of that kind of thing. Plus, it would make finding plans for the weekend tons easier. As it is, we might take Baby to the big Touch-A-Truck shindig this weekend that's in a nearby city. That's as close as we get at the moment to a parade.

In light of the rose festival, Ann's curious what your favorite flower is this week. What's yours? Mine is tulips. I just LOVE tulips.
Ann is also hosting a neat giveaway, for a $50 gift certificate to spend at either Fancy Fortune Cookies.com or Giant Fortune Cookies.com. You can create custom fortune cookie messages and they come in tons and tons of flavors! So make sure to go visit Ann's website to enter in the giveaway.

So tell me, what's your favorite flower? Happy VGNO to one and all!

My Husband Rocks Friday: The PMS Edition

Sometimes I can be...well...a little bit moody. OK, maybe a lot moody. Especially when it comes to that time of the month. I've tried lots of different remedies over the years, so it seems I am somewhat doomed to suffer PMS in some way shape or form. These days, it's the mood swings usually that really get me. Or the cramps. Or both. OK, OK, enough TMI...you get the picture...moving on...

Poor Husband, he's just come home from being out of town for almost three weeks. And I am so not fun to be around right now. I'm sure he's wishing he could head out on another business trip ASAP. I'm totally in the throes of some pretty severe PMS mood swings. Not to mention that I didn't even cook him a nice, homecooked meal because I was too busy pouting that I didn't have enough time to put together a nice meal by the time he came home. I then proceeded to pout through our dinner out and about, which I'm sure made him have such a super time. Baby was not exactly the most fun dinner companion either, so I'm sure Husband had to be wondering what on Earth he came home to.

But does this man complain? Does he ask me that awful question - "Is it that time of the month?" Nope, he just grins and bears it. He grabs my shoulders and squeezes them, trying to relax me (if only it were that easy). He hugs me and gives me sweet kisses. Have I mentioned that this man is sometimes a saint for putting up with me (most of the time)?

You know, part of me wonders what this My Husband Rocks business is doing to his ego, given that he reads on my blog every Friday about one thing that I adore about him. I suppose it's good, in a way, because in general, we certainly don't tell people enough that we love them - life gets in the way. This way, at least once a week, I get to focus on my marriage and give thanks to the guy that's put up with me for almost nine years now. (Longer than that, really, since we were friends first, but still.) So for now, I think I will keep singing his praises...unless some Friday catches me in a nasty mood or something. :) Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center

Wow. I can't remember the last time a book totally took hold of me like Katherine Center's "Everyone is Beautiful." I got it at the library on Tuesday, and finished it last night in between watching So You Think You Can Dance. I'd had the book on hold ever since I heard that 5 Minutes for Books was doing a book club on it, and they couldn't say enough nice things about the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I could totally relate to the main character, Lanie, who wakes up much like the Talking Heads song "Once in a Lifetime" - not really recognizing who she's become through four years of motherhood and three very crazy little boys, who happen to be obsessed with their penises (yikes, is that what's in store for me??). I think most of us moms can relate to that - motherhood changes you so profoundly that you can't possibly be the same person who were before you were a mother. It's just not possible.

Anyway, the story is Lanie's journey to find herself again, and it's a beautiful one at that. I couldn't read it fast enough - I just wanted to know what was going to happen to her, and I cared so deeply about some of the characters in the story. Part of me didn't want the story to end.

This is a book I definitely, definitely recommend, and I will probably pick it up for my bookshelf when it comes out in paperback so I can re-read it. Two thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My first comment contest winner: Modern Mom

After counting up all of the comments from the month of May (thank you everyone!!), I have found my comment winner!! It's Modern Mom!!! She writes one of my favorite blogs, How to Survive Life in the Suburbs, so I was very excited to get the chance to get to know her better.

Tell me a little about yourself. Who is Modern Mom?
I am a Mom to two gorgeous girls, and a wife to the true love of my life. I gave up a career I absolutely adored working with children with special needs and their families, to stay home with my family and embark on this crazy adventure of parenting in the Suburbs of Ontario Canada. This is the toughest and most rewarding job I have ever had and I would not change a thing.

What is your favorite thing to do and why?
My favorite thing in the world to do is to plan and go on little adventures with my family. Researching a trip to Disney World, a family vacation to Mexico, or even a week away at a cottage. Nothing better then making memories that I hope will last a life time.
Other favorites would have to be baking with the kids, movies with the hubby, oh Okay and let's throw in a really good manicure for me!

What is your all-time favorite book and why?
This is a tough one. I love love to read. I just finished the Book of Negros and could not put it down. Also loved The Secret Life of Bees, Eat Pray Love, but of course I also love those beach books. Have you read Sex, Murder and a Double Latte? You should!

Do you blog? If so, tell me about your blog.
I'm fairly new to the bloggy world and have to say I am an addict! I love all the wonderful writers out there and the glimpses into the real lives of other women. It's reassuring to know there are so many other women out there who are going through the same trials and tribulations that I am every single day. What a great place to come and relax, connect and have a laugh. Here's a link: How to Survive Life in the Suburbs

What is your favorite kind of sweet? Cookies? Cake? Fudge?
I have to pick just one? Cookies...cram as much chocolate into them as you can..maybe some bits of toffee...those are my faves!

I will be conducting the contest again this month, and I've added a new widget on the sidebar of my blog that is keeping track of the commenters, too. Thank you to everyone who comments here - every time I get an email that someone has put a comment up here, it makes me smile. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

The Gym: A Quick Update

So, it's been almost a month now since I joined the Y, and I'm pretty proud of myself. Not only have I moved up to working out on the elliptical trainers, rather than the treadmill, but I've also managed to make it up to 30 minutes on the elliptical, followed by some weight training every time I go. I've gone a minimum of two times a week since I joined - yay!!! I've even done two exercise videos since my exercise kick started. And I have seen some results, which is nice. Unfortunately, I didn't start keeping track until a few weeks into my workout adventures, but I have officially lost at least 5 pounds. Woo! Only another 85 to go! Yes, my goal really is to lose 90 pounds. Given that I was overweight before I got pregnant, and am still carrying at least 20 pounds of pregnancy weight, 90 sounded like a nice round number. It would put me in the appropriate weight range for a woman of my age and height, so that's what I'm working towards, slowly but surely.
I don't love working out, I'll be honest. It's not fun. I don't like to sweat. And if you're not sweating, you're not working hard enough, I think. The TVs on the cardio machines help - especially when there's marathons of Real Housewives on or good episodes of What Not to Wear. And having a workout buddy makes a world of difference - she keeps me motivated, and makes me accountable (as far as showing up is concerned, at least) to someone other than me, which is helpful.

I like how I feel when I get on the scale and see the numbers shrinking, though. That's definitely a nice feeling. And I know I'm taking care of myself by doing this, which I'm proud of.

BTW, this is so not me in the picture!!! Fortunately, there are pictures of me while exercising. They would so not be pretty. But this is the kind of machine I use, so it gives you sort of the right idea. :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I know it's June 2nd

I'm doing the tally today on my comment contest from last month, and will be getting in touch with the winner today to congratulate them, so stay tuned in the next few days for a special feature on my most active commenter! I have a feeling you know who you are!!

P.S. - So sorry that time got away from me this month and I didn't do this yesterday as I'd promised!

Tell All Tuesday: 20 Random Tracks from My iPod

When I saw I've Changed My Name to Mommy's new weekly meme, Tell All Tuesday, I knew I had to join in. I was always a big fan of Truth or Dare and those kinds of games as a kid, and I'm one of those people who enjoys those long email questionnaires about who you are and your experiences in life.

Anyway, this week's subject is music. 20 random songs from your CD collection or iPod or other music listening device. I love music and my taste is very eclectic. I love Broadway shows, kids' music, indie rock, even some country music. Heck, I've even got some Britney Spears on my iPod (great for workouts). I've got over 70 GB of music on my 80 GB iPod (hint, hint Husband, a new iPod is going to have be in my future!).

So, without any further adieu, here are 20 random songs from my collection - special thanks to iTunes DJ for doing the hard work for me and compiling 20 totally random tracks.

1. My Own Prison by Creed
2. Title and Registration by Death Cab for Cutie
3. Grew Up Fast by Tom Petty
4. Unfaithful by Rihanna
5. Violet Hill by Coldplay
6. All at Once by The Fray
7. Full of Grace by Sarah McLachlan
8. Wonderwall by Ryan Adams (great cover of Oasis's seminal Wonderwall)
9. Torn by Natalie Imbruglia
10. Friend to a Stranger by Emerson Hart (the lead singer of Tonic, the band who sang You Wanted More and If You Could Only See)
11. Leave by Matchbox 20
12. Hosanna by Andrew Lloyd Webber, from Jesus Christ Superstar (the musical)
13. Istanbul (not Constantinople) by They Might Be Giants
14. You Could Be Happy by Snow Patrol
15. You Will Know by Tevin Campbell (and others) from the soundtrack to Jason's Lyric
16. Too Far From Texas by Stevie Nicks, featuring Natalie Maines (of Dixie Chicks)
17. Cell Block Tango by the cast of Chicago (the musical)
18. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
19. Numb/Encore by Linkin Park and Jay-Z
20. Crush by Dave Matthews Band

How's that for random? Make sure to swing by I've Changed My Name to Mommy to join in on the fun!

Summer TV Guilty Pleasures

I've actively been trying to cut down on the amount of TV I watch in the last several months, between the fact that I try to avoid Baby watching TV and because I hate feeling like a slave to my DVR. But...it's now summertime, and that means there are lots and lots of trashy reality shows (my personal favorite guilty pleasure!), so my DVR is quickly getting full, but in a good, I-ate-too-many-cookies kind of way... Want to know what I'm watching?

The Real Housewives of New JerseyMy workout buddy suggested this one - and boy was she right. It's right up my alley. It's like if "The Sopranos" was about the women behind the men. It is so much fun to watch. They air new ones on Tuesdays at 10 on Bravo. The season just started - there's only been three episodes so far, and it seems like Bravo airs them a lot, so you can probably still catch up if you want to watch. One of the women is rumored to have had some kind of Columbian drug cartel connections, and that's going to be addressed on the next episode, it seems, so if you're going to start watching, tonight is the night!

Charm SchoolThis is the second or third iteration of Charm School - it's what VH-1 does with its leftover reality chicks from their various dating shows, like Rock of Love and Real Chance of Love. Ricki Lake is hosting this latest incarnation (Sharon Osborne hosted the last one, which was awesome), and basically the girls go through "lessons" on how to become normal human beings, and the one who does the best wins some money, and gets to "graduate." Cheesy, I know, but it's fun to watch. It airs on VH-1 on Mondays at 9pm.

Daisy of LoveSpeaking of VH-1's various dating shows, Daisy was the runner up on Rock of Love a year or so ago, and so this is her second attempt to find love on TV. So far, it doesn't seem to be going well - she's had guys deny having girlfriends only to leave to go back to the girlfriend they didn't have in the first place, a cage fighter who almost caused some serious violence in the house, and an overly sensitive rocker who got mad when Daisy didn't listen to him, so he took off. Daisy herself is a total trainwreck - she looks like forty miles of bad road and then some. Not only that, but she's a few fries short of a Happy Meal, so it makes for some entertaining TV. Daisy of Love airs on VH-1 on Sundays at 9pm.

So You Think You Can DanceThis is the one reality show I watch that I don't think is trashy, guilty pleasure TV - there are some really, really talented dancers on this show. I love seeing the beautiful dance routines and the joy they all seem to express when dancing. It's fun stuff. I used to take dance classes as a kid, so I know just enough about dance to be dangerous. That way I can throw around the proper terminology when it comes to judging time after the performances, which is half the fun of watching. It airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox at 8pm.

So what are your guilty pleasures on TV? What trashy reality shows am I missing? Happy viewing!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for June 1st

Husband says he's going to be home this week, so that will be good, but it looks like it'll be the end of the week before he winds up here, so the menu this week will again be kind of blah.

Monday - Pancakes
Tuesday - Spaghetti
Wednesday - Easy BBQ Chicken Fajitas
Thursday - Bacon Wrapped Shrimp (a new recipe!)
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Glazed Pork Chops
Sunday - Burgers

I'm excited to try the bacon-wrapped shrimp recipe - it's one of my favorite things to have at restaurants, so if I can duplicate it at home, that would be totally awesome. The recipe looks very simple, so I'll be sure to share it and let you all know how it goes.

I wish that it were cold out - I've been craving French Onion soup lately. The recipe I have makes enough for 2 nights of dinner, so maybe after Husband gets home, I'll bite the bullet and make it anyway...so stay tuned!

Don't forget to visit the Org Junkie to find tons and tons of menu plans from bloggers all over!
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