Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Flashback - and Winter Vacation!

Happy Winter to you all! Today starts my week of time off, so you probably won't be seeing posts from me much next week. Though I might post here and there since we're staying home for most of it, but I'll probably be too busy doing projects (aka sitting on my arse and drinking eggnog) to get to the computer.

So, have a happy end of the year, a wonderful winter solstice, have a blast opening gifts, and give all of your loved ones some extra love.

Batch Cooking
Making Baby Food
Nacho-Less No More
Happy Thoughts
The Mommy Uniform

I need to make me some nachos.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Secret Agent Mom and Other Nicknames

My coworkers think they're clever. I have now been dubbed Cliff from Cheers because of all of the random crap that I know. <sigh> It's funny because it's true. I don't do the know it all thing like Hermione, but when it came up at a meeting, "what's the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt," and everyone else was stumped, I provided the answer. And when it came up how lard doesn't get used anymore, I pointed out how it really makes the best pie crust, but that a mixture of butter and shortening will work pretty well too... Well, maybe it's just me (and my relatives) but I thought everyone knew that type of thing.

At the same gathering where I got my new nickname, we also had a discussion about what superhero we'd like to be. I said Wolverine (coming from a 5'1" fluffy homebody) and my coworkers had fits. I amended with that if it didn't have to be a superhero, I'd be the lead from the show Alias because I really want to be a secret agent. Seriously, all my life I've wanted to be a secret agent. (hint, hint to any government officials out there, I'm ripe for recruitment) That topic got everyone going, apparently a lot of people dream of the thrill of being a spy or secret agent, etc.

In case you're wondering, yes we do work, and very hard. We've just had a couple of end-of-year gatherings lately where we've been able to chat about non-work related things.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Breakfast Hash in the Crock Pot (Mostly)

We had our end of the year party at work and I'd volunteered to bring the main dish - aka something that does not include sugar. Rather than ordering a breakfast pizza (like a massive omelet on a pizza crust) or doing the fall-back quiche I decided to do something different. Like - home cooking, nothing fancy, meat and potatoes different. It seems a strange world where that qualifies as something different, but with all the new quasi foodies out there basic cooking is now a lost art. Or a neglected art.

So I made breakfast hash. In the crockpot. Mostly. Kinda. Here's what I did...

I started with this recipe:

Then I -
  • Omitted the onion since I wasn’t sure if everyone would be ok with that much onion
  • Added about a Tbsp of dried minced onion because there should be some onion
  • Added 1tsp of dried minced garlic because everything needs more garlic
  • Used sweet Italian sausage and chopped it up - any sausage would do really, and chopping it up makes it look like more for a potluck
  • Added about 2 Tbsp of maple syrup (if I used a sweet breakfast sausage I’d skip the maple syrup)
  • I cracked the lid right before I went up to bed to let out some of the steam because the potatoes seemed really moist
  • Peppers and/or mushrooms would be a good addition too, and personally I’d like the chopped up onion in there
The next morning the potatoes were a little soggy and not as flavorful as I’d like. So –
  • I moved it all to another bowl and wiped out the excess oil from the crock
  • I heated up a big skillet and worked in three batches to brown it, about 3 minutes per batch (no additional oil needed)
  • I added a generous pinch of salt, a good shake of pepper, and a good shake of garlic powder to each batch
  • I put it back in the crock
  • Then I scrambled 8 eggs with some salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano (and milk, because scrambled eggs have milk) and tossed it all together
The morning part, including waking up hubby when he slept through his alarm, stumbling around when I flicked on the light, grumbling to myself, the egg scrambling, taste testing, chatting while hubby ate his cereal, etc, took all of 20 minutes. Combined with the chopping the night before, the dish took maybe 30 minutes total. In reality, probably 15-20 minutes if you don't include the stumbling, grumbling, eye rubbing...

I brought the crockpot in to work and kept it on the "keep warm" setting for the hour or so before the party with the lid cracked so it wouldn't get soggy. And... it was a huge hit! I got several compliments and yum noises, and there's only a tiny bit left (that I'll probably eat for lunch if no one else does) out of 5+ total pounds. My boss' boss asked for the recipe. :) SO, I highly recommend this one, as do my coworkers. Easy, fast (if you don't include the 8 hours of overnight cooking), and tasty.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Beautiful Food

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I got a thank you note postcard a few days ago and was struck by how beautiful the postcard is. I wish my canned goods looked that good.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Flashback: Chicken Soup and Highchairs

Ohh goody - I love that highchair post. I'm really freakin proud of the job I did on reupholstering it, but since I posted it right at the beginning no one was reading my blog yet so it didn't get seen.

Taking Breaks From the Keyboard
Soup Quest: Chicken Noodle Soup
Project: Highchair
Free Stuff from Vistaprint!

Actually, I did part of my holiday shopping with Vistaprint again this year also... that was a good reminder to me!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All Joking Aside...

I mustache you a question, but I'll shave it for later.



Ok, sorry. I heard that from my cousin the other day and it just strikes me as so freakin funny. I told all of my coworkers (and attempted to keep a straight face), and my husband, and I almost told a guy from the department of defense, but he looked a little too serious.

I can't wait until Max is old enough to like jokes. I have a lighthearted sense of humor (you may have guessed) and it's looking like Max will be the same way. He already has played many jokes on us - one was that he called everything "dada" for over a month. If he was by himself or he was concentrating on something else he'd slip up and use the right words, and if you caught him he'd get this look on his face like "oh, crud!" and start saying "dada!" over and over. Thank goodness he's done with that joke, I like being mama again.

I told the above joke to a coworker (who has a 16 year old daughter) and after he stopped laughing he said how he misses telling jokes to his daughter now that she's too cool to think her dad's jokes are funny. I told him to wait, because eventually she'll find them funny again. My dad's happy that he can finally tell me the 10+ years worth of jokes he's been saving up.

Here's to a sense of humor, and may we never misplace it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Frugal Luxuries: Cleaning Carpets

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Want to know what hubby's and my gift to each other was this holiday? A carpet cleaner. (and a Wii) Sexy, I know. Our house came fully carpeted except for the kitchen and the bathrooms. (the dining room carpet was the first to go, btw - I can't handle carpeted dining rooms) But as much as I dislike having carpet in any room besides a bedroom, our budget just doesn't allow for replacing all (or even most of) of the carpets so I've restrained myself from ripping up carpet in the other rooms. Mostly. You'd think that with such a great old house there'd be great old wood flooring under there, but no such luck. If there ever was great flooring it was torn out years ago.

Most of my reasoning behind having solid surface instead of carpet is that they're easier to clean, and with a toddler and two cats (one with bladder issues) easy to clean is a priority. But as much as I crunched numbers and argued with myself, I just can't justify spending that much money just so I don't have to scrub as much.

So - to be frugal and feel luxurious: Instead of re-flooring the whole house we got a carpet cleaner with scrub brushes. And a scrubby upholstery attachment. I put it together (Max helped) and got it running on Saturday afternoon - and man is that thing awesome! I did the back room (where kitty has had the most incidents and where we have the exit to the deck) with just the basic cleaning solution that came with the cleaner and it made a HUGE difference. The stains are gone, the carpet is so much brighter (I actually like the shade of blue now, go figure) and the room smells much better. Yay! I purchased some pet-stain-specific solution as well, and if the basic solution is any indication then the pet-specific one will be fantastic.

It has some reviews that mention leaking, so I got it straight from Hoover rather than through Amazon like I normally would so if I have issues I can contact them directly but so far so good. The best part - between purchasing it on cyber Monday and coupon codes I got it 33.5% off and free shipping! Woo!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Sniffles and Coughs

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Max had a cough last week that was keeping him up (and of course, me as well). It wasn't nearly bad enough to go to the doctor, just one of those irritation coughs that gets worse when you lay down to sleep. Since he's just barely 18 months old there's not a whole heck of a lot that I can give him. I went to the store to buy some honey and while I was there I thought I'd check the pharmacy. Lo and behold: Maty's makes not just one but two kinds of cough syrup that are totally natural and safe for kids over one! (they contain honey, hence over one) I read the ingredients and was impressed that everything was normal sounding - no chemical crap. I got the banana flavored one since Max is a total banana-holic. I also picked up the baby chest rub which is for 3 months and up. I don't think I've seen anything else that is approved for as young as three months old!

I was impressed in the store, but hesitant that it would help his cough. But you know what? It worked. I gave him a teaspoon of syrup (which is thick, like caramel ice cream topping), slathered his chest, neck, under his nose, and the bottoms of his feet with the chest rub, and within 20 minutes his coughing had subsided and he was sleeping. I didn't have to keep him propped up all night, though I kept him in bed with me (hubby opted for the couch) for most of the night so I could keep a better eye/ear on him. Man that kid kicks like a mule. I had to re-administer in the middle of the night which was interesting, but again it worked. Considering he's so young I highly doubt it was a placebo effect.

So - I definitely recommend these two products. And as a pleasant side effect, my hands are softer this morning from the chest rub. I didn't receive any sort of compensation from Maty's, I just feel that it's good stuff. If they ever want to send me free products I wouldn't mind... I'd certainly appreciate it!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Flashback: It's Been a Year!

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Actually, it's been over a year! Woo! Now that I've officially been blogging for a year, I feel I can start Friday flash-backs. Here's what I was up to this time last year...

Finding Middle Ground

Naptime Filing

Holding it Together With Tears and Laughter

Sprouting Onions

Crock Pot Basics

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cool Recycled Envelope

Check out this envelope that I got from Germany (yeah, I got mail from Germany. I tell ya, opening that envelope made me feel like a kid again even though it was work related. It just seems so exotic...)

It's a map! Yes, a topographical map that this envelope making company used to make the envelope. The outside is white and professional looking, and as you can see from the photo the inside is the printed map side.

I checked out their website (which I've forgotten the address for, sorry), and even though I couldn't read a lot of it my barely remembered high school German was enough to figure out that this company makes a lot of interesting and useful things out of unwanted or overstocked items from other companies. Like map making companies.

I know there are a lot of tutorials on how to make your own envelopes out of scrap paper, and I always mean to do it, but it would be nice to have a company that does it for you. Do you know of one in the US?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a White... Thanksgiving?

When we got up the morning before Thanksgiving, here's what we saw:

Yeah, snow, and lots of it. Freakin A.

Normally not so big a deal. But when you have a 6 hour drive ahead of you, not so cool. After looking at the weather report and tracking the storm which was still blowing all along our route, we decided to drive on Thanksgiving day. It turned out to be the right decision, and though the snow was annoying for the drive, it was pretty cool for Max!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

The air was crisp, Max and I had spent an hour outside playing, and I was having a major hankering for muffins. I considered blueberry, banana, or cranberry, but no. I wanted something simple but rich.

Hel-lo Cinnamon Sugar Muffins. You gorgeous things, you.

I used one of my basic muffin mixes and baked them with no additions. In the meantime I melted a few tablespoons of butter, and in a small dish mixed together 1/4 cup of white sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon. When the muffins had cooled enough to handle I brushed the melted butter on top and dipped them in the cinnamon sugar mix.

Ah, bliss.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Thrift-Mas...

<haha> Man, I crack myself up. Thrift-mas...

Sorry, back to the subject at hand -

We went out on Saturday and did a little shopping. I got a few things at the local Goodwill, mostly for Max and hubby. I did pick up those frames there, .99 cents each new in package, that will be part of a few Christmas gifts. I got Max a new outfit that's super cute - and is in the wash so I can't take a photo of it. The sweater (below) is a size 4T so he has a little while before he can wear it, but I couldn't resist. It is just too sweet, and I love the button details!

As a side note - ladies small fitted t-shirts make good toddler night shirts.

We hit up a few big box stores as well, though I'd almost rather shop online. It's so tempting to buy things we don't need when that stuff is right there, begging to be picked up. I was good and kept to my agenda (mostly) and got Max some new socks and another winter jacket - all on sale. I had gotten him not one but two winter coats this summer at yard sales, and he's pretty darn close to outgrowing both of them. <sigh> Darn kids and their growing. He's not even 18 months old and I had to get him 2T-3T socks which I was sure were going to be too big... nope. They fit just right. He has some pretty massive feet.