Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Birthday Cake and such

The Birthday Girl!

So, Hannah's actual birthday was on Monday the 22nd... even though I've been posting about it for a few days.

Monday also happen to be Brooke's show and tell day at the Birthday Girl was Brooke's show-and-tell... which was cute. She stayed pretty close to Brooke and played shy, but did NOT want to leave when it was time to go.

Can you find Hannah in this picture?:

I spent all afternoon working on this cake...
This is what my kitchen looked like while I was working with four different colors of fondant and two different colors of buttercream. I'm a messy cook!
It was a new experience for me because it was my first time working with fondant, which I made from scratch. The red house part is made out of cake that I baked in the small pampered chef batter bowl. The yellow shoe is two cupcakes that I carved and pieced together. The leg is 1/2 a hoho. The Mickey Head is a styrofoam ball with fondant ears. I think, all things considered, it went alright. Not perfectly smooth... probably for my first time I should have tried to work fondant onto something simple like a sheetcake, but instead I made this Mickey House. Anyways, I loved how the grass made it all come together and I was pleased.
We had Grandma and Grandpa over for pizza and cake and it was a fun evening. Happy Birthday Hannah!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Birthday Party Pictures

We had Hannah's Birthday party today. It was a small gathering, with our neighbors (Jaci age 5, Leah age 2, and Kristi), my BFF (Ragan and Rylee almost 2-yr-old twins and Debbi), and our church friends (Brenna-almost 2, and Heidi). Grandma and Grandpa stopped in for a bit, and after they left, Matt was the lone man amongst a house FULL of girls!

I wanted to keep it short, simple, and sweet....and I think we did. Here are some pics from the fun morning!

Who is that at the door?

LOOK! Ballooooooons!!!! Grandma Jenn sent them!

Hannah LOVES Elmo....!

We played with Playdough for awhile:

Heidi and Brenna

Then we opened some presents:

Debbi and one of the twins :)

After that, we sang Happy Birthday and ate these yummy cookies! (that I'm quite proud of if I do say so myself!):

The other moms were totally pumped about the black frosting, but I was only concerned about the cookies looking and tasting good. I think most of the clothing made it thru un-scathed.

After cookies, we played downstairs for awhile before everyone went home.

Thanks to our friends for coming to the Birthday party!
***Scroll on down to the previous two posts to see a slideshow of Hannah pics for her Birthday montage, and a yummy recipe for Chicken enchilada soup***

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hannah's 2nd bday montage at

Hannah's 2nd birthday is on Monday, and I thought I'd share a little slideshow of the past 2 years! We love our sweet little monkey!

Chicken Enchilada Soup & Fruit Salad Surprise

After reading a few recipes, and evaluating the ingredients I actually had on hand, I created a new recipe today for Chicken Enchilada Soup. I don't have pics, because it's so simple and because i wasn't sure how well it would turn out.

Matt gave it 2 thumbs up and said "it is 10x's better than that crockpot chicken TACO soup you used to make." That soup was more brothy--this soup is more cream based. Give it a try. It's yum.

In the bottom of your crockpot, dump a can of rotel (original, but if that is still a little too spicy for you, just do a can of diced tomatoes).
Then dump in a small bag of frozen corn.
Dice up 1/2 an onion and throw that in.
Put a few chicken breasts in on top of all of this.
Stir together a can of mild enchilada sauce, a can of cream of chicken soup, and about a cup of milk. Pour over the top.
Let this cook for several hours until the chicken is cooked thru. Pull the chicken out, let it cool, shred it up and put it back in the crockpot.

At this point it was still a little too spicy for the girls, so I chopped up a chunk of Velveeta--probably about an inch-thick slab, and stirred that in. That helped make it a little creamier and a little less spicy. Top it off with some of your favorite cheddar cheese. Would be good served with tortilla chips or fritos as well.

This was yummy soup! I think it will be just as good with some of those Hunt's diced Fire Roasted tomatoes I talked about recently, which I had in the cupboard but wasn't ready to use them this early in the week! Gotta save them in case I want to use them in a recipe in the next few days.

While I'm at it, I'll give you a recipe for our Fruit Salad Surprise we had tonight. I wanted to let Brooke help with dinner, so I put her to work slicing bananas and strawberries. We were going to make a good old fashioned fruit salad and I was on my way to get out the apples and peaches, when she said "can we put chocolate in this?!" Hmmm. Strawberries. Bananas. Chocoloate. "Yes honey we can!". We threw in some strawberry flavored marshmallows, I melted some chocolate, and drizzled it in while she stirred. Then we stuck it in the fridge for a little while - and it came out as a yummy dessert/side dish.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Selfish Sleeper?

I'm going to write this post fast because I've got to finish getting ready for the day... but I have been experiencing somewhat of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situtation in my sleep-life.

Before Christmas, Matt was getting up at 340 every morning to be at work by 5 a.m. Since then, as is typical for the first of the year, they've mostly been going in at their regular start time of 7a.m. I much prefer the husband who is not falling asleep on the couch at 8:15 at night, and he's not quite as crabby, which is a great thing.

But I'm not sleeping as well..... he's throwing off my jive.

When he gets up at 3:40, by 3:41 I've gotten myself snuggled up in the middle of the bed using his pillow (it's better than mine) and i proceed to have the best 3.5 hours of sleep of my night. I sleep better in this spot, by myself in my bed, with his pillow.

When he gets up at 540, I've already been in bed long enough that I'm not quite deeply sleeping anyways, and I proceed to hear his razor, and the shower, and him getting his lunch ready, and a mouse fart. I fall back to sleep maybe around 6, but it is not that wonderful-sigh-into-your-pillow-and-drift-away-to-dreamland sleep that I get when I commandeer my spot at 341a.m!

I miss my 3.5 hours of sleeping like an absolute rock.

Damned if we do, Damned if we don't. Sleep well, or have a conscious, non-crabby husband in the evenings? It's seriously a toss up!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

First Kiss?

In honor of the recent Valentine's Day, I thought I'd write a little post about kissing. Most of us like to do it, we hope our kids don't start doing it too early, we prefer not to do it before teeth are brushed in the morning...

Do you remember your first kiss? The who, when and where? Or would you prefer to forget?

I will confess to you...I was one of the proverbial "sweet sixteen and never been kissed" girls in this world and it was mortifying. Apparently all the guys in my school thought I was a great friend, which was always heartbreaking. To this day I wonder if those idiots knew what they were missing, because dang it, I think I'm a great catch!!

I remember in 2nd grade I had a boyfriend-Charlie Britain. I remember exchanging notes around my birthday on if he was going to give me a kiss for my birthday or not. He didn't. And apparently I didn't date much after

My first kiss was Jesse. At church camp. The summer before my...senior year (?) of high school. Jesse was my camp boyfriend. Tuesday night they took us all up on a big hill for stargazing. You shared a pillow and stargazed with your camp sweetie if you had one. Great environment for a church camp--haha. So I got my first kiss that night. Jesse and I dated again the next summer, and actually into my first semester of college. We exchange emails on occasion to this day, he's in the army and in Iraq. Camp friends are always friends, even when it's a silly camp boyfriend.

I kissed many frogs after that first kiss with Jesse until I finally found my prince....Matt and I didn't share our first kiss until our second date. I wanted a kiss that first date but he says he was being a gentleman and didn't want to rush anything!

So how about you? Do you remember your first kiss? In honor of all things sweet and sappy, post a comment for a chance to win a goodie bag of my favorite chocolate candies...snickers...MM's and who knows what else!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Recipe I can't wait to try

Two posts in 20 minutes?! What is this world coming to?!

I just have to tell you, Pioneer Woman posted this recipe for Butter Chicken on her site yesterday, and I've been salivating ever since. I'm sooo making it tomorrow. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Oh and I'm going to turn it up a notch.. I'm going to use "fire roasted" canned tomatoes in this recipe. I saw this product on Biggest Loser and have been salivating ever since. And Walmart actually carries them. They're by Hunts I think. Fire Roasted Tomatoes has a yummy ring to it doesn't it?

Black Eyed Peas

If you are my friend on Facebook you may have noticed my status on Super Bowl night that I think the Black Eyed Peas should do the half time show next year. I'm tired of these old worn out bands from the last few years, I don't care if they are "classic" or not. I mean, TheWHO!? are you kidding me?!

Anyways, I've only recently discovered how much I like the Black Eyed Peas. Some of their songs I didn't even know were by them. I think my current favorite song is "I gotta feeling"'s a good song to run to. I like to run to that song, and then stop running. (but that's a whole 'nother post! Do I say that a lot?).

So my friend Erin told me the other day that there was a nifty video on You Tube featuring the Peas, and a performance I guess they did for Oprah including so massive crowd choreographing!

Click here to go see it. It's fun to watch. Crank it up babe!

And thanks to Abbe for teaching me how to make words into clickable links. She's such a whiz kid.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Generic versus Name Brand

Are you name-brand loyal? Are you a generic snob? Are you a cheapskate who refuses to buy name brand no matter what?

If you open up our corner cupboard where a lot of the prepared snacks, crackers, cereal bars are kept, you might think we were filming a commercial for Walmarts generic brand Great Value. I'm all for saving some money... I hate it when I have a coupon and think it's going to get me something great for a great price, but when I look it really doesn't even get the price down to the generic price.

However, there are some things that you should just not go generic on. Deoderant... probably you shouldn't be skimpy when it comes to spending money on that. Condoms... not that we've had a condom-surprise baby...but if you're serious about birth control, you really should be serious about getting the good stuff. I'm just being real!

I thought I would share some of my generic versus name brand preferences here... just because I don't have anything more exciting to tell you right now.

Walmart Great Value frozen corn- very good. The last two times we've had corn Brooke and Matt have commented on how good it is. Maybe we just got a better batch than usual?

Great Value cereal bars (the generic version of Nutri Grains). We have decided these are better than Nutri Grain b/c they have more filling. However, the generic version of the Nature Valley Sweet and Salty granola bar is NOT is drier and almost seems stale.

I would steer clear of generic hot dogs. Several years ago I bought the OHSE brand of hot dogs (they were cheap!), and I think it is one of about 3 times that we ended up following through with the "if it sucks we'll order pizza" concept. Seriously- they were like hot dog flavored marshmallows. Yuck Yuck Yuck.

Generic refrigerated crescent roll dough-- not as good as pillsbury. They don't unroll as well, they tear, don't hold their triangle shape.

Generic chocolate chips seem to be just as good as nestle and I'm a little irritated that Walmart doesn't carry generic anymore!

Daisy brand cottage cheese is gross compared to the Hi-land brand.

Generic bread and buns go stale faster.

Kraft Ranch dressing is not nearly as good as Hidden Valley Ranch.

Generic tylenol and ibuprofen and saline work just as well as the regular stuff!

Last summer we discovered an awesome two-part (wet dry) marinade for steak. It is called Daddy Hinkles, and it is about $10. Ridiculously expensive for someone who doesn't even like to splurge on name brand 57 sauce, but it is the best marinade ever. I'm not sure walmart carries it, but if you can find it at Dillons (usually near the bottom shelf) or if your meat market carries it-- it is wonderful wonderful wonderful. You can buy one-time use individual bags of it for about $2 to try it out....a good way to spread out the expense too.

So.... what are you 100% brand loyal to? Do you prefer to buy generic?

I could almost go through our walmart and get our usual staples with my eyes closed. Do you realize if I had to write out a grocery store list for Matt how much more specific I'd have to be? Listing brands, sizes, etc. What would they do without us?!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl menu and a yummy recipe

Usually for the Super Bowl, we do an appetizer schmorgasboard for our meal. That sometimes can get just as expensive (and time consuming) as doing a full dinner! So this year we decided on BBQ Beef Sandwiches, Chips and Dip, fresh fruit or veggies (My mother in law is bringing that so I'm not sure what she's bringing), baked beans, and a chocolate sheet cake with buttercream icing.

I have to say that I've been working on the BBQ Beef since Saturday at noon and my house has smelled heavenly. I've been reading a variety of beef recipes lately (Do you read cookbooks cover to cover like I do?). After reading several, I created this recipe which is a conglameration of the recipes that I read, and some things from my own beef repetoire.

Start with a yellow onion sliced slightly thick, and saute it in some melted butter.

Throw that into a crockpot that has been sprayed with Pam.

Put in a 3-4 lb chuck roast.

Add 1/2 cup soy sauce, 3 cups water, 2 beef boullion cubes, and three peeled cloves of garlic. (Don't need to mince/press the garlic, we want to taste the flavor, not eat the chunks). Top all off with a (15oz) can of diced tomatoes.

Put the lid on the crockpot and walk away for a long time. I did about 5 pounds of meat and it was on low for about 8 hours. When it gets to where it starts to shred when you poke and prod it with a fork, it's done.

I took the meat out of the broth, shredded it into a big container, put a few ladles of broth on top (just to keep it moist, and try to just get broth, not chunks of onion, tomato, or garlic). Then put some of the broth into the container and throw it in the fridge.

Today, I put the meat back in the crockpot, and topped with a bottle of Kraft Original BBQ sauce. I buttered and toasted some buns. And in about 45 minutes I will be eating a fabulously yummy bbq sandwich.

And what did I do with that extra broth I saved? Well... I pulled off the chunks of solidified fat (yuck), and heated the broth up. I melted some butter in a pan, whisked in some flour and let it cook for a few minutes (this is "roux" and you've got to give it a chance to brown a little. The head chef on the Disney Cruise told me so). Then dump in some broth and whisk your little heart out. Keep adding broth and simmering and whisking until it reaches the desired gravy consistency. Then pour over some frozen meatballs in a crockpot and let cook away. This would be what the girls (okay and the adults) will be enjoying with the rest of the meal. Nothing makes gravy like real-homemade-fresh broth. Yummo.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Box of memories

I've been trying to do some organizing and decluttering in our spare bedroom, so I can create a lovely little space where I can force myself back into scrapbooking. (I got really burnt out on it about a year ago, and haven't scrapped since then, but need to get back on track!) Everytime I go through a cleaning spurt like that, I end up tossing a few more memories into the trash. This time, I finally purged the memory box of a stack of graduation cards.

Here are some items that I am still holding onto, some just being sweet nostalgia, and some being a good laugh as I go down memory lane!

Meet Tubby Toes-- (one of) my first teddy bears. TubbyToes was much loved, as is depicted by the Mickey Mouse bandage holding a seam shut. I should sew him up. He actually isn't in the box, he's nestled up in a corner of a cabinet where no one can mess with him!

I took five years of Piano lessons; and came across several of my books. I don't have any of the level ones, and apparently I burned the book of (very difficult) scales that I hated! Notice the lovely selection of sheet music that I've held onto:

My sticker book. I loved this thing. I should get one for Brooke. Do they still make sticker books?
Do they still make scratch-n-sniff stickers? I kid you not, some of the ones in my sticker book still smell!!!! It is crazy!

I'll tell ya what they don't make. These kinds of stickers.... I don't know what they were called but they were filled with a squishy fluidy stuff and you would push on them and they'd ooze colors all around. They were kinda gross though if they popped a leak!

Brooke has been watching "Night at the Museum" and so when she saw this Indian doll she said "Sacajewa!!!" Well, not quite, and I don't have any idea where she came from or who she came from, but she's always been pretty cool. Check out the bead-work on her headband, which carries thru to the necklace, the little skirt thing, etc.

I also have a large box full of pictures. I'm sifting through them and getting rid of a bunch (like pictures of people I don't know on the stage of Amway conventions?!), etc. The spare bedroom currently looks like a bomb went off.

And finally, the creme-de-la-creme. My first pair of glasses. I don't know what my mom and I were thinking.... oh dear God. Apparently I must have thought the little strawberries on the side were cute or something!? I got these in 4th grade, and I'll never ever forget that when I walked into class with them on, Shane Ross said "they make you look smarter" and I started crying. No wonder! Look at these things! I pray that my girls get Matt's vision, but as Brooke was gawking over these things, I informed her that if she does ever have to get glasses, they have much cuter ones now!

As our trip through the memory box comes to an end, I find an email that I rec'd this week to be a fitting addition to this post. Enjoy....
When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard
things were when they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to
school Every Morning...... Uphill... Barefoot... In The Snow... BOTH WAYS

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a
bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today:

You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia!
And I hate to say it, but you kids today don't know how good you've got it! I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalogue!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen! Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take, like, a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!
There were no MP3's or Napster! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished and the tape would come undone. Cause -
that's how we rolled, dig?
We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal-that's it! And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know!!! You
had to pick it up and take your chances, Mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids.' Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!! And, there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen... forever! And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!
You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on TV! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel! NO REMOTES!!!
There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday morning. Do you hear what I'm saying?!! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

And we didn't have microwaves, if we wanted to heat something up we had to use the stove! Imagine that!

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled. You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980 or before!

Monday, February 1, 2010

You Know You're a Mom when...

I've had some of these thoughts cross my mind off and on recently, and decided to compile them into this lovely list for you:

You Know You're a Mom (particularly a stay at home mom) when....

1. You go all day without putting shoes on (because you stayed home all day) and wonder why your feet hurt once you finally sit down that evening.

2. You need new jeans, so you pick up a pair at Walmart since you spend your money buying your kids cute stuff at cooler places.

3. While you clean up the mess from lunch, you start thinking about what to make for dinner.

4. You live vicariously through facebook, email, and blogs.

5. Date night is usually over by 8 p.m.-- when you get one!

6. You have gone from refusing to wear anything but SATIN panties (in college) to loving your comfy new cotton panties from Penny's.

7. You finally have a very clear understanding of the phrase "I can't hear myself think!"

8. Some days, a 2 yr old is your best friend, and you love it.

9. You "micromanage" your husband's time-- because someone has to keep things going around here!

10. You love doing little things for the kiddos, like tossing a few Hershey Kisses in a lunch box to surprise them at lunchtime at school.

11. You chat with a friend while changing a diaper, while your business line is ringing and someone is calling you back about the PTO on your cell.

12. You get to shower and get ready for the day around 2 o'clock in the afternoon (not me, I always take a shower right when I get up so this doesn't happen, but I had to include it because I know that's the way things roll in the home of many friends!)

13. You've had several conversations with your spouse about how going to workout, PTO meetings, or going to get groceries does not count as "girls night out."

14. You look longingly at the little red light on the DVR at 7p.m....wishing you could watch your show "now" instead of "later."

15. You are very important to some very sweet little ones!