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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Have You Seen Balloon Dogs?

The girls and I saw The. Funniest. Thing. Ever. at Kroger today.
Yeah, Kroger.
Of all places. Go figure.

There was a big bin of balloon dogs. Check it out:

Someone is a GENIUS!
These are those Mylar balloons with little tissue paper accordion legs and paper paws. The ribbon "leash" lets you "walk" your dog. They had everything from a wiener dog to a St. Bernard (which was bigger, but not full-sized). They have just enough air in them to stay upright on the floor.
Aren't they funny??
If they weren't $15, we'd have two at our house.
Maybe for a special occasion, I'd spring for one.

My kids would always play with balloons until they were completely flat and no longer floating. So, that makes me think:  Why didn't I think of this?
Someone was brilliant.

The girls were completely fine making a scene in the card aisle with the dogs. But, when I whipped out my red pen and decided to correct the improper use of an apostrophe on a point-of-purchase display for "Cube's". Seriously?
I couldn't take it any more. I lost it, and I started marking out punctuation.
Can I get an "amen" here?
When are people going to learn:  You don't need an apostrophe to make a word plural!!!
I was going to share a photo, but my Darling and Now-Embarrassed Daughters pushed me into the meat department and away from the scene of my crime.
They also confiscated my red pen.
We're going to have words if I don't get it back...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lazy Mom Shout Out and a Few Observations of Late

No, I didn't fall off the end of the earth... or did I?
Sure feels like it.

First, for all you I'm a Lazy Mom fans, Stacey is airing my dirty laundry in another edition of Lazy Mom Confessions.

So, what have I been up to lately?
Well , I feel like I've been living in a whirlwind since Thanksgiving.

For an early Christmas gift, I took the daughters to Cincinnati to see Wicked on Thanksgiving evening. (The Husband opted to stay home at the last minute. Which, as it turned out, was a good thing, since he was barfing before we got an hour down the road.)

We had a great time. We stayed in a downtown hotel. And, since the show let out about 11 pm, the girls asked to go to Macy's, across the street for Black Friday at Midnight. So we did. (Three wild gals out on the town in the middle of the night. WooHoo! Look at us!)

Anyway, the most entertaining part was Occupy Cincinnati showing up to shout at all of us consumers out stimulating the economy in the wee hours of the morning. BabyD is proud to report she witnessed her first cuffing and arrest in the shoe department.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, my life is rather focused on my office moving.
Yes, for those who are keeping track, for the second time in two years. Call us gluttons for punishment.
My role in the whole thing has been working with the architects and contractors to get the construction details done, then our staff to make sure every one's new spaces work, and the moving company so stuff gets boxed and labeled. And the furniture will fit. Hopefully.
We'll find out next week!

Anyway, some of my activities during the last couple of weeks have left me with a few observations and frustrations about life (yeah, my inner curmudgeon is showing):

Frustration:  Why does the out-of-state MIL decide to tell me she's recently lost a bunch of weight only after I've ordered and shipped her birthday gift (and have her Christmas gift sitting in the closet)? You're welcome, US Postal Service, for my continued financial support in my vain efforts to please my relatives.

Observation:  Ever notice when accomplishing a really big task there's always one person in the group who just CAN NOT follow directions? The weird part? This is always the smartest person in the pack at least in his own mind.

Frustration:  Unseasonably warm, rainy falls mean we still have worms in DECEMBER!!!!

Observation: Dirty old men give me the creeps.

Frustration:  Being pinned against the wall in a conversation with a nice old guy who is spewing donut crumbs all over you as he talks. And how do I tell him he has powdered sugar all over his chin and belly? It's very distracting. (No, he's not a relative. And, no, he's not the afore-mentioned dirty old man.)

Observation:  I'm sure it did not snow today, because I actually turned around and fetched my window scraper before got too far from home.

Frustration: Ever have to go on a business trip and, literally, spend more hours in airports and on planes than at the actual business meeting at your destination? Why? Because of the idiots geniuses running the official travel agency. Tell me some one's not getting a kick-back.

Observation:  Did anyone know that Muhammad Ali is still alive? And, on a related note, I lost a bet with The Husband, because I could have sworn Liz Taylor died about 5 years ago. Oops.

Frustration:  Dirty laundry is capable of reproducing in the basket. So does junk mail on the kitchen counter.

Observation:  Why do people who wouldn't give me the time of day in person friend me on Facebook?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

GP Cookbook Winner

Belated Happy Thanksgiving!
The winner of a copy of Gooseberry Patch's Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets is: Mommyblogger at My Own Little Corner.
And, happy cooking!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thinking of Loaning My Kid to the NBA to Move Their Negotiations Along

I did something really, really stupid this week.
(Yeah, yeah. I can hear you muttering "so what else is new?" all the way from here.)
I managed to lose my diamond anniversary ring.

I made it a little more than 10 years without misplacing it even once.
Don't I get credit for that???
The Husband bought it for me in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary.  Anyway, that was a while ago.

Fast-forward 10 years and a couple months, and you find me losing my ring---who knows where!?!
I discovered it was gone when I went to put on my watch and other daily bling on Tuesday morning. I knew I had it on when I came home Monday. I was so sure I remembered doing my daily routine, which includes taking off all jewelry as soon as I get home... before I make dinner or do anything else. (This habit dates back to my mother-in-law giving me a lecture on how to care for nice jewelry back when I received my engagement ring.)

That evening, the search-and-find mission began. Only, we turned up nothing. The Husband even got out a medal detector (because Real Men always deploy as much technology as possible to complete any task), which he ran under our bed, through my closet and under the dressers. I even pulled out every piece of garbage, one by one, in the trash can just in case I dropped it there.

To motivate the girls' participation in this quest, The Husband offered $20 to whomever finds it.
Well, long story short:  I found it Thursday morning. (Relief!) In the laundry room. On the floor. In plain sight.
Of course, I called The Husband and told him right away.

The girls found out that evening when we got home.
LittleD's first response was, "Does Dad know? Because you can tell him I found it, so he'll give me the 20 bucks--and I'll split it with you."
What? How's that work?
"Yeah," considering her lack of a good case, "You can keep $15 and I'll keep $5."
Excuse me?
Then BabyD walks in. And hears the whole deal.

Recognizing her entire scheme is now seriously threatened now, LittleD has a new offer.
"Tell Dad I found it, and I'll keep $5, you can keep $10 and she can have $5, too."
Nothing like hush money to shut up you baby sister.

Not that I'm missing any major league basketball games, don't you think those mediators could benefit from the services of a cash-starved teen? I think she can find a middle ground where everyone profits--even when they don't necessarily deserve it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Give Away

It's give-away time...

The folks at Gooseberry Patch gave me two copies of Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets. One from which to cook and one to give away.

 But, before I get to some of this cookbook's highlights, I thought I'd share with you my cooking tip o' the day:  Did you know your pasta water won't get hot if you forget to turn on the burner?
Yeah. It's been that kind of day, thank you.
Now, I'm recovering...

Back to my real topic of interest:
Here's a look at some of the recipes I've made over the last couple of months...
(For your cooking convenience, I put a * by some new family favorites)

I'll pick a winner on Sunday, Nov. 27 from entries up to that point.
Here's how to enter (be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry): 
  1. Leave a comment about which GP recipe you want to try.
  2. Become a fan of Real Farmwives of American & Friends on Facebook and write a comment on the wall.
  3. Follow Real Farmwives of America & Friends on Google Friend Connect.
  4. Follow Gooseberry Patch on Google Friend Connect.
I'll randomly pick a winner from comment entries left by next Saturday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pasta Recipe from Gooseberry Patch

I really should have taken more pictures this evening.
I was actually off of work today, so I had the luxury of doing quite a bit of cooking for dinner.
I made some baked herbed chicken breasts, salad and snicker doodle cookies.
(Cookies during the week?!? My family is livin' large, huh?)
I added this Penne Rosa recipe to the mix, which was the perfect side with chicken.
And, it was super simple!

Denise's Penne Rosa

Basic ingredients:  butter, heavy cream, can of tomatoes, basil and garlic.
Plus the penne pasta, which you should start cooking first, as this goes together quickly.

When draining the canned tomatoes, be sure to reserve a quarter of a cup of the juice.

After melting the butter, and sauteing the garlic for just a minute or two, 
add the tomatoes, reserved juice and basil.
Cook on high until boiling. Cook long enough to reduce the liquid.

Add the 2/3 cup of heavy cream, stirring.

Lower the heat and cook long enough to warm through.

Toss in the pasta and garnish with some grated Parmesan cheese.

Stay tuned. In a few days I'll be giving away a copy of Gooseberry Patch's "Slow Cookers, Skillets & Casseroles".

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gooseberry Patch Recipe: Salmon

Another Gooseberry Patch recipe from "Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets".

Speedy Salmon Sauce
This was an easy recipe.

Just a few ingredients.
NOTE:  The recipe called for cream of asparagus soup.
I looked everywhere and could not find it--not even an empty spot on the shelf.
So, I am convinced it doesn't exist anymore. So, I subbed cream of mushroom.
I also subbed in Miracle Whip for the mayo in the recipe. (We're a MW family.)

I bought a box of these pastry shells. 
These have to be pre-baked.

Then you basically combine all the sauce ingredients and stir, heating through. 

This meal wasn't my all-time favorite. But it was pretty good.
It was different, so that was a good thing... mix it up a little.

Hunk of Meat Mondays

2 Comfort Food Recipes from Gooseberry Patch

I'm getting caught up on my Gooseberry Patch recipe posts.
I've made all 10, which was part of the challenge, which means I'm very, very close to a give-away of the book, "Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets".

But first, check out a couple comfort food dishes my family enjoyed:

Creamy Mushroom Chicken
This one has a short ingredients list and is super simple!

Onion soup mix, a can of mushrooms, chicken stock, and a can
each of cream soup:  chicken and mushroom.

Put the chicken in the slow cooker.
Then mix up all the other ingredients.
Yeah, not very attractive. But the flavor makes up for it!
Then cook 5-6 hours on low.
I served it with mashed potatoes and peas.
This was fabulous comfort food.

Country-Style Scalloped Potatoes
(Includes Ham)
I think the title of this recipe is a little misleading. 
It sounds like a side dish, but it includes ham, which, in my book, 
makes this a one-pot meal.

Start by spraying the crock with non-stick cooking spray.

The ingredients are really, really simple:
water, cream of mushroom soup, cubed ham, 
sliced potatoes and a cup of cheddar cheese shreds.

Layer the potatoes and ham in the slow cooker.

Mix up all the other ingredients.

Pour over the potatoes and ham.
Then cover and 3.5 hours on high, then turn it down to low.
Cook for another hour.

I served this with a Greek-style spinach salad.
It was really good comfort food.

Hunk of Meat Mondays

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gooseberry Patch Two-Fer: Honey Chicken and Cranberry Pork

As you may recall, I've been slacking on posting Gooseberry Patch recipes from Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets. Don't interpret the lack of posting as a lack of cookin'.
After tennis season ended (and drama club hasn't quick gotten into full swing yet), I reopened the kitchen for some real family meals. Yet, I haven't had the time to get online much.

So! To make up for that, I'm posting not one, but two Gooseberry Patch recipes--both of which received "thumbs up" from the family--especially the Cranberry Pork Chops.

Honey Chicken & Carrots

The great thing about this recipe is requires all the basic stuff you probably have in your kitchen already.

Peel and slice 1 1/2 cups of carrots.

Heat some oil in a skillet, then cook the chicken over medium heat.
The recipe says "until juices run clear," but we all know that really means:
cook until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.

Remove the chicken (keep warm), then add the carrots.
Cook for 3-5 minutes, until tender.

Stir in the honey, lemon juice and garlic salt (I opted for straight garlic, since we're low-sodium
as much as possible at our house). Return the chicken to the skillet and heat until the 
sauce is bubbling.
Serve with cooked rice.

This was really good. And went together very fast.

My next new favorite:

Cranberry Pork Chops
In the Slow Cooker!!!

This recipe is super-easy and fabulous because you use every working mom's
favorite appliance:  the slow cooker.

Basic ingredients are simple, and fairly staple for my pantry:

Place the pork chops in the slow cooker.
I typically stock up on boneless pork loin when it's on sale, 
then I cut my own chops to the thickness I prefer. I went fairly thick on these.

Mix up all the sauce ingredients:
a can of cranberry sauce, 1/2 c of apple juice, 1/4 c sugar and 2 T spicy mustard

Pour over the chops, then cover and cook 6-8 hours on high.
How easy is that??? 

When you're ready to eat, just heat 1/4 c cold water and 2 T corn starch on the stove.
Then add the sauce from the slow cooker to the sauce and cook, whisking, until thickened.

Then serve the pork chops with the sauce over the top.
I served it with green beans (good ol' out-o'-the-can type that my kids love) 
and a spinach salad.
This is going on the recipe rotation for sure! 

Check out more Gooseberry Patch recipes on the Real Farmwives of America.
I have a couple more recipes to post, then I'll be giving away a copy of this GP cookbook.