Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday's Meal

My sister emailed me this recipe years ago. It's the legendary department store cookie recipe. There are many versions of it. I have another one that has oatmeal and candy bars in it. This one is a good basic chocolate chip cookie recipe with the espresso thrown in for good measure. If you want your cookies to stay soft and chewy use melted butter that has been allowed to cool. Oh, and don't over bake them. Enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee powder
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder; stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Cookies should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Bake for 16 to 22 minutes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

They're bringing sexy back

WooHoo! I just caught the first episode of season three of The Tudors on Showtime on Demand. The new season doesn't actually begin until April 5th, but since we have cable I got a sneak peek and it's going to be GOOD! I'm so glad it's back. I love all the cable series, but it's so long in between each season that sometime I forget or lose interest in them. For example I loved Big Love on HBO, but I've missed the last two season because I couldn't keep up with when it would start again. I'll go back later and watch them though, it's a good show. I love the On Demand service that cable offers, I never get to watch anything when it's actually on. In fact I don't really get to watch television on a regular basis. I mostly dvr stuff (another way cool gadget) and then watch stuff in spurts.
But, anyways I just wanted to give you fair warning...The Tudors is back and it is GOOD!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

I'm under the weather so I'm working on feeling better.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The illusion of the supermom

I was recently reading a thread on an online parenting forum I frequent and the original poster had asked a question along the lines of wanting to know if Mom's who had it all together would share their secret. I had to laugh...WTF! Nobody, has it all together. I don't care who you are. You might think that you do...and you might be coming pretty darn close, but it's all an illusion. I don't say this to be cruel or disillusion those of you who are laboring under a misapprehension, but whenever there's someone besides yourself that you're responsible for you will constantly be playing a game of catch up. Don't get me wrong, I'm a good mom...maybe even a great one, and I know that you are too, but let's face it, isn't every day a new adventure into the unknown? I mean no amount of planning or scheduling will prepare me for dd's midnight asthma attack or ds #3 deciding not to get out of the car in the carpool line. I mean I was prepared. I give that girl her meds every day, I got him to school on time...what's this,You can't breath, you don't want to go to school?. Leave it to them to throw a wrench in my whole plan. You've probably never met a more organized or scheduled person than me. I live for lists. I mean I have got it together...and yet, I don't. Sometimes I fantasize about those golden days when it was just me, the single girl...footloose and fancy free and then I wake up.
My point is that it's really okay. I don't think the goal of motherhood is to be a supermom. I mean even superman spent his fair share living as Clark Kent. The goal should be to do the best you can. To help the little ones in your charge become incredible people. That's doesn't mean you have to be perfect or should even expect to be. I think we as mothers set ourselves up with these unattainable standards. I'm just saying relax, you're doing great...even if you're no supermom.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday's Meal

Still working through that 40 odd pounds of chicken I purchased, but hey it was a good deal so I'm not complaining. Anyways, a little something for the crockpot. I have another Chicken and Dumpling recipe on here, but this one is super fast and especially for the crockpot. It's so good you'll think your grandma made it! Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumplings Crockpot Style

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons butter
1 can of chicken broth
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables (I use the frozen soup mix or you can use canned)
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
2 tsp of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp of paprika
1/2 tsp of poulty seasoning
2 packages refrigerated biscuit dough, shaped into small balls about 1 1/2 inch

Place everything into the slow cooker (except for the biscuit dough) and use enough water to just cover the chicken. Cover, and cook for 6 hours on high. About an hour before cooking is complete, place the shaped biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I heart this

This week I've had to bake a bunch of cupcakes for O's birthday. Well, I just wanted to share with you this nifty little tool I picked up. It's called the mechanical pastry bag and I got mine from Williams-Sonoma. Wilton makes one too and as far as I can tell the big difference is there tips are plastic instead of metal, in fact I bet they probably make it for Williams-Sonoma since I read somewhere that Wilton tips work with it and the Wilton one is less expensive, but I digress, we were talking about the WS one. I love it. It made frosting cupcakes a cinch and they looked so professional. I just made up a double batch of butter cream frosting and was decorating away. The kids were so impressed. So I thought I'd tell you all about it. I also bought the Wilton know, 4 kids, everyone wants to get the picture. I'll have to tell you later how that one works out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

It's a dirty job, but somebody has got to do it and that somebody is me. Those pesky baseboards. Mine are looking a little tired lately so I think today I will mix up some all purpose cleaner and get to scrubbing. Luckily my house isn't huge so it should just take a few hours. Not fun or glamorous to say the least, but I'm sure I'll be happy when they are all done. If I have some extra time I might start cleaning the wall too so I can do the touch up painting in the next few weeks. There are several places that are going to need some spackle and sanding. Anyway, that's what I'm working on today.

Oh and here's a recipe for a cheap cleaner. It cleans as well as any commercial cleaner I've ever purchased.

1 gallon of water
1/2 cup of ammonia
1/3 white vinegar
2 tbsp baking soda

And I'm sure I don't have to remind you never to mix ammonia and bleach.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Birthday Girl

Four years ago on this date I went in for my twice weekly ( I sucked!) checkup with my OB. I was as swollen as a tick and my blood pressure was no longer being controlled with the 3 medications they had me on and we were pretty much at the maximum dosages allowed. Today would be the day. I would get to meet my longed for girl. She would come at 36 weeks, ready or not. Thankfully she was ready. She came out of me with a cry that said "Hey, I'm no wallflower, I'm here world!" She was perfect...she was healthy...she was a peanut. When I look at my sassy girl today, with her wild riotous curls and long legs, I can't believe she's the same 4lb 12oz. creature I brought home. As much as she amuses and mystifies me daily (I mean really, why does she change clothes 3 or 4 times a day and what's with those overalls she loves?), she also makes my heart sing. I've never seen a more beautiful smile or eyes that sparkle quite as much. Whether she's dive bombing the couch with her brothers, sitting on my lap to "help" me sew or just cuddling in the bed with me, she leaves me in awe of what an amazing gift she is to our family. So, Happy Birthday baby girl, we love you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday's Meal

In honor of my sweet girl. I thought I'd post a recipe for cupcakes. Tomorrow she will be four. How time flies. Who could believe this is the same little preemie I brought home from the hospital, all arms and legs. She's still all arms and legs...and sass. But, she's my girl and I wouldn't trade her for all the money in the world.

O's birthday cupcakes

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, mix until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Mix in the vanilla. In a small bowl combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture a portion at a time and mix well. Finally mix in the milk until batter is smooth. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Frost when cool.

Birthday Cupcake Frosting

1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring of your choice

Whisk milk into flour in small saucepan until smooth. Heat and stir until it boils and thickens. Cool thoroughly. Using a mixer cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add thickened milk. Beat until mixture resembles whipped cream.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some birthday threads

I made my girly a couple of things to wear for her birthday which is later this week. She also wants me to make her a backpack so we'll see if I have time to do that too.
Anywho, the skirt, is from two fat quarters picked up on sale at JA's. Serged, elastic waist band and a bit of rickrack along the bottom and you're in business. No pattern necessary. The other outfit is from the two Portabello Pixie patterns. The top is the Claire pattern, and while it's easy enough to sew, I despised the shirring. Next time I think I'll use lastin and zigzag it down to give me my gather. I don't know how long that shirring is going to hold up to my little birthday girl. The pants however are a keeper! Love how she designed them and the sizing is dead on...although I might add an inch or two next time so that they will last longer. O. loves them. The fabric is one of my favorite prints, Alexander Henry's birch blossom. So pretty and the other fabric from Chez Ami is a perfect coordinate.
I'll try and add some modeling shots later in the week when she gets to wear her new threads.

A simple skirt

Just a bit of rickrack to liven things up.

Shirred sleeve

The neck and shoulders shirred.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I must be feeling sentimental this morning. The kids are playing quietly in the next room and I have a moment to myself to reflect on a few things. I was just sitting here thinking how thankful I am for my life and my family. It's not a perfect life by any stretch. It's doesn't resemble the life I thought I'd have, but it seems to be the right life for me and perhaps the life I needed to make me the person I want to be. So much has happened this past year. Some bad, some good...some great. I look around at my life and I feel incredibly blessed. I have four beautiful, funny, intelligent, charming children. Each of them is a gift that I treasure, each one makes me proud of having the honor of being their mother and getting to be a steward of their lives. When I close my eyes I can easily recall each one's smile. I think about the fact that it's cold out and that I sit here warm in my home, surrounded by so many comforts, in my fuzzy slippers typing away on my nice laptop. I'm thankful that I have an education and a profession that allows me to have the things that I need and many of the things that I want. I'm thankful that I have a spouse that loves and supports matter what. I'm thankful that I have true friends that are quick to offer an ear or share a laugh. I'm thankful for my health, for my body that lets me do things I never thought I could do and that allows me to get up each day and try and be the best mother and wife...human I can be. I'm thankful that I have interest that allow me to express my creativity and that challenge me. I'm thankful that I live in this world at this time. Each and every day, I'm thankful.

Friday, March 13, 2009

No Spend April?

The local ABC affiliate is doing a story on a frugal family and their challenge not to spend extra money for one month. Obviously they'll still buy gas and pay their bills, but you know they won't buy nonessential. Hmmm...could I? Should I give this a try? I'm a thrift and budget shopper already, but the operative word is that I do shop. I'm going to give it a go. I mean, we really already have what we need, most of what I buy is really things I want and don't really need. Yep, sign me up, no spend April here I come. I think I'll issue the challenge to some of my friends so we can all support each other. Isn't that funny, the idea that you might need support "not" to spend?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I heart the thrift store!

Love, love, love thrift stores in case you don't know that about me. Today I had a few minutes and happened to be in the neighborhood of one of my favs. I pop in and I feel like I hit the vintage craft book mother load. I love books and vintage craft books are so cool because many times the explanations they provide for a technique is so much more complete. Anyway I was super excited when I spotted a bunch of books by Barbara G. Walker. If you don't know knitting, you wouldn't know this, but she is one of the Goddesses of the knitting world and wrote many books that are still very much in demand today and fetch a nice little sum on ebay (if you were to go that route). Anyways, take a peek at my haul! Woohoo, super score...all for $7. Can't beat that with a stick!

Oh and excuse the sideways pix. I couldn't get photobucket to load to edit it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

Well...what to do? What to do? Ever have one of those days where you have so much to do that you're spinning because you don't even know where to start? No home improvement projects this week except perhaps testing a few more paint colors for the half bath. I like the yellow, Mister likes the blue. I was thinking blue would be ok...but wouldn't a navy be really cool? I don't know though, it's a pretty small bathroom.
O.'s birthday is coming up and I want to make her a special outfit for it, so I think today I will cut and sew. I really should make a couple pairs of pants for E. too since his legs seem to keep growing even if he's still my little peanut. I also want to work on my couponing, I'm really trying to embrace coupons to determine if it really saves us money. I'm pretty frugal already when it comes to groceries so I don't know if the amount of work this all entails will make up for the savings...we shall see.
Well...what am I waiting for, I have a lot to do.

Monday's Meal

I've been cooking a lot of chicken lately, so I actually thought I'd change it up and share one of my favorite one pot meals that is not a chicken dish. This is a hearty pork chop dish that features potatoes & onions as a built in side dish. Oh delish!

Pork Chops,Potato & Onion Skillet

2 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 pork chops
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 Yukon Gold potatoes or red potatoes, thinly sliced
1medium onions, diced
3 cubes beef bouillon
3/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Coat the pork chops with flour, and place in the skillet. Brown on each side, but do not overcook,
In a small bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.Sprinkle a portion of the Parmesan cheese mixture over the pork chops. Then add potatoes and onions. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese mixture.
In a measuring cup or small bowl dissolve the beef bouillon cubes in hot water. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour over the layered pork chops.Cover skillet, and reduce heat. Simmer 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender and pork chops are no longer pink.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Travels with kids

This past weekend we took the kids to visit one of my sisters. She's only about four hours away, but the amount of preparation to just leave the house with the kids for even a short jaunt is daunting. But, even that doesn't compare with the torture that is actually going somewhere with a bunch of kids. I believe we were adequately prepared. We had snacks, drinks, movies, pillows, blankets and toys a plenty. Yet...somehow there was still the need to stop five times before we ever got out of the state (umm..we were only 90 mins from the state line). And E. (bless his pesky little heart) asked no less than 600 times if "we were there yet". At one point I think I actually saw steam coming from Misters head. I haven't even mentioned the fights. M. declared that he wished he was the only person on the planet so that E. would quit talking and he could get some sleep. O. began to cough uncontrollably and when I tried to give her an inhaler she tried to scratch my eyes out..all this while I'm contorted trying to reach her in the back seat (she gets a bit testy when she can't breath). S. (who really should know better) kept torturing E. by kicking his seat...or touching him. To make matters worst there was a freak snowstorm threatened and Mister got nervous that we would be trapped at my sisters house so we left less than 24 hours after arriving. So, you see all the drama was just so we could leave the house for a day. My mom wants us to drive to visit her this summer. I've already told her that no amount of money, alcohol or drugs can entice me to venture down that road. I mean seriously I have four sister, has she forgotten already what it's like to travel with kids?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

Today I decided to do something that's not essential, but has been nagging me a bit. I organized my cook books.I have quite a few and they were a haphazard mess. I also have 2 recipe books that I've been putting together which contain recipes I've collected from newspapers and magazines for the last twenty plus years. I'm almost done putting them together, but I won't include them in today's effort, that's a task for another Wednesday.
I can usually find the recipe I need, but it often entails some digging so I wanted to get them straightened. Plus, visually it looks so much better when things are organized. With the exception of a couple of cookbooks that are too big for the shelves, they are pretty much confined to 2 shelves of a basic ikea unit in the kitchen. I'd love if they were tucked away in a beautiful built in a center island...but that doesn't exist in my house, so I'm working with what I have, lol.

Anyways, here is the before

And here is the after. Much better I think.

Next week, the plan is to paint the 1/2 bath. I picked up some sample chips today and I'll probably prime the walls sometimes this week since I'll be painting over a dark blue on the bottom half of the wall. While I have the primer out, I may prime the second piece of furniture I have to paint. Now that the first piece is completely dry (it looks awesome by the way, and that high spot seems to have disappeared) I will probably slap some poly on it in the next few weeks. If I had really thought about it, I could have used floor paint and saved the step of using poly...but oh well it's done now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

New addiction

I have discovered the cool site Hulu and am discovering shows I've never seen before. Hulu is a free site that lets you watch shows and movies for free. Sure you have to watch a few commercials, but they are super brief and a small price to pay for the service. I'm currently watching the first season of "Damages". It's really good. That Glenn Close can act! I also watched the first three episodes of "Dollhouse". I really think I'm going to love this show. I read that Fox has committed to 13 episodes, so I hope it last. It's really a unique concept. Anyways, I thought I would share my joy. I rarely get to watch any tv in real time, so being able to catch shows I've missed whenever I want is a wonderful treat.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday's Meal

Growing up in Texas this perrienal favorite can be enjoyed at many a potlucks and church functions. It's delicous, chocolatey and super easy.

Texas sheet cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup butter
1 cup water
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


6 tablespoons milk
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10x15 inch pan. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix in the sour cream, then beat in the eggs. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter, then stir in the water and 5 tablespoons cocoa. Bring mixture to a boil then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, then stir cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing until blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
For the frosting; combine the milk, 5 tablespoons cocoa and 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan.. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla, then fold in the nuts, mixing until blended. Spread frosting over warm cake.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Home at last

Every since rediscovered my sewing hobby shortly after having my first child almost fourteen years ago, I have wanted an Elna. You see when I began to want to sew again, I shortly realized that it might be fun and beneficial to take a class. It would get me out of the house for a few hours every week and teach me some forgotten skills. It did both. I used a school owned Elna. It wasn't fancy to say the least, but it was a great little machine and I wished I had asked about purchasing it when the shop closed. Every since sewing on that machine...oh let me add here that sewing is so much more pleasurable on a machine that performs well, even if it's as basic as my school Elna was, I've wanted to own an Elna. They are Swiss made, and the old sewers who own them hang onto them because they are great stitchers. So, from time to time I would do a search on ebay and Craigslist trying to find one to make my very own. Finally a few months ago I located one outside of Richmond, Va. I don't live in Richmond. But, it seemed close enough in my estimation. I contacted the seller, we negotiated what I thought was a bargain price, one final question...does it stitch. Come to find out she couldn't get it to stitch...she didn't know why. Not to be daunted and somewhat of a machine hobbyist, I said I would still get the machine. She said she couldn't imagine selling it since she couldn't get it to work, but that I could have it for free...I was ecstatic. to get it picked up. Mister said he would go get it for me, but I was able to get my friend, D. to go get it since she was just 45 mins or so away. It resided at her home for the next 3 months until we were able to get together for the Mid Atlantic Quilt Show and she could pass it off to me. Lucky for me she doesn't have the jones for vintage machines that I do because it's a beauty. Anyway...finally last night I was able to get it home and take a look at it. At first I too was daunted that I couldn't get the light to come on, let alone get the machine to power up. Could it be a loose connection. I took apart the foot pedal. Everything looked great there. I took apart the machines power inlet...looking good. Now to take the top off the machine. Except wait, maybe if I actually plug the machine into the wall it just might work...eureka! We have power, and guess what it works. It works great, it's perfect. I cleaned out some linties and oiled her up and she purrs like a kitten. Best of all, the owner had all the manuals, attachments and tons of extra bobbins. I can't believe my good fortune. She told me the original owner had been the postal matron in Lukenbach, Texas...I grew up in Texas. It's as if this machine found it's way back to a Texan at last! I'm on cloud nine!