Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Sine

As we say goodbye to 2010, my family looks back on quite a year.
We kicked off the year in a BIG way as we welcomed Hayden Paisley into the world.  She is truly the joy of our lives and every day is bringing us something new and showing us the world through new eyes.  She is an amazing gift and I am not sure what we would do without her.
Also in 2010, we moved into our new home, enjoyed many hours with family and friends, and learned so many things about ourselves and each other.
It has been a good year.
I know that 2011 will be just as good.   I already feel like 2011 will be another year of growth and surprises. 
Happy New Year everyone!  Thanks for making this year great. :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hoot's Christmas Haul

Christmas has come and gone, and Miss Hoot is enjoying the spoils of her first holiday.  Being our only child and the only grand-baby has served her well this year - we are living in a regular Toys R Us over here!  We opened gifts with my parents and my family on Christmas Eve and Hoot had a blast opening a ton of toys and clothes. 

Santa brought a kitchen and all the fixings.

Garrett's mom gave her a PotteryBarn Anywhere Chair.

She has spent the last two days playing babies, opening and closing cupboards, climbing all over her chair and chasing cars and a dump truck that talks all over the house. 

I'd say that Hayden had a great Christmas....  and just think, less than two weeks from now, we will do it all over again for her First Birthday party.

We might have to get a bigger house.  Or our kid might have to get a house of her own.  LOL

Aside from the gifts - and more importantly - was the time we spent as a family.  It is amazing how lucky we are and how much love Hayden has brought into our lives. On Christmas Day, my Granny (Hoot's Great-Granny) told my mom that that Hootie is "the joy of her life."  She seems to have that effect on people.  It is amazing how different the world is with her in it.  Just like every other day of the year, she made Christmas so happy. 

We hope all of you felt the love this weekend, too.  Merry (albiet belated) Christmas to all of you and yours!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow Day

My husband LOVES the snow.  He especially loves building a snowman For as long as we have been together, if there is snow on the ground, my "big kid" is out there, rolling and stacking, shoveling and scraping - he is coming in the house, asking me  for a scarf and a carrot and  asking what I think we should use for eyes.  He just loves to play in the snow.

So imagine his excitment this year, when over the course of Friday and Friday night, we were sprinkled with several inches of snow, and he wasn't the only kid in the house!  We bundled up the HootOwl and we all went out front to get the job done.

We agreed that this was indeed the best Frosty we have ever had! Sadly, our snow was all gone as fast as it came, and by Saturday evening Frosty met the untimely end of all Frosties before him, and melted away.  He will forever be remembered as The World's Finest Snowman EVER!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a trendy and chic (but mostly frugal) wreath

When we moved into this house in April, we nearly tripled our living space.  We also tripled our utilities and our work load, too…    Decorating this place is an ongoing process, as the furniture and belongings we moved over here with looked a little like bachelor furniture in their new surroundings. 
We have bought new dining room furniture, a new couch and a new mattress/box spring set and that has helped, but unfortunately decorating can be a rather expensive project and due to the previously mentioned higher utilizes and whatnot, it is also a slow moving one.  Sometimes i just donothing becasue it feels overwhelming.  I was thinking about this the other day and I realized that that is just silly.
I am the daughter of a farmer.  I am nothing if I am not resourceful.  And I am crafty and creative too.
Enter my guilty pleasure – craft blogs.  I love them.  Craft blogs and the projects I get from them give me a bit of a rush.   Sitting on the couch at night, browsing tutorials and plans is my idea of a good time - and the only thing I like more than that is the crafting itself.   
I call it “glue-gun therapy” – and back in my previous life, I could seriously dwindle away an entire day crafting my heart out.  Now, my time is more limited - to nap time (which is limited because as you know, my child is not the best napper), after bedtime (I like this one because in my craft room, wine is always served after hours), Sunday afternoons when Garrett is home to occupy Hoot and brief moments where Hoot plays with toys next to me in my craft room before she gets into something or loses her patience.  In some ways, it makes the little times when I do get to make something even better.  I am happiest when my hands are busy.
The other day, I ran across some instructions to make a wreath out of the pages of a paperback book.  What a great idea!  I called Garrett over and said, “Look at this.  I have to go to the craft store right now and get some things to make this totally trendy and chic project.”  He made fun of me for saying “trendy and chic” but he totally agreed that the wreath was cool.  I have this little corner in my dining room that is in need of something fab.  And cheap would be nice too.
So, I got to work and a couple  of hours, around $5, 2 ½ Nora Roberts novels, and a zillion hot glue burns later, here is what I came up with:

I am so pleased with it and I am working on two more to give as Christmas gifts next week. 

I like it so much, it actually led me on a chase for other trendy and chic yet frugal projects to complete.   This wreath was actually inspired by some that were once in Pottery Barn.  I love the style of Pottery Barn, but the sticker shock I feel when I see how much they want for things is too much to handle. I guess I am not the only one who feels this way because when you Google “Pottery Barn knock-off crafts” you get enough DIY action to keep you busy forever. 
I already have a few more ideas up my sleeve, and I will share them as I go, but for now, visit Living With Lindsay and make a wreath like mine.
 Or, if you would rather, I will make one for you and you can pay me Pottery Barn’s asking price for it.  ;)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

i am sad today

I am feeling stressed out today, and a little bit sad.
And when I tell you the reason I am stressed you just might travel to my front door by land, sea, or air just to smack me across the face.  Believe me.  I think that it’s crazy too.
I am sad and stressed because it looks like my husband and I are going here:

That’s right, kids – ROME.  As in Italy.  The Coliseum. Gladiators. The Pope.  THAT Rome.
Every year, the top 100 producer’s at my husband’s company are the winners of a rather large incentive trip.  We have been on three of these so far.  Every year he has been eligible to get this award, he has won it.  I am so proud of him – he has been in the top 100 for three (and now four years if we include the reason for my depression) in a row, which is a huge accomplishment.  He is truly gifted at the job he does and for so many reasons even aside from the trips, I am thankful that he is so good at his job. 
I am not gonna lie – the trips are pretty freaking great too. 
We have seen Ireland

And Mexico.

And Hawaii’s Big Island.  (Yes Hayden is in this picture.  And no, kids are not allowed on these trips.  We were unaware it was such a big deal.  She was 3 months old. And yes, we got in trouble.  Long story, don’t ask. LOL)

On these trips you are treated to the most posh experience of your life – fine food, gorgeous rooms, and experiences that you would never have otherwise. 
I just feel like I can’t get excited about this Rome trip, which is coming up in the middle of April 2011.  Leaving Hayden is going to be so hard.  A week is just too long.  She will be at my parents house, being loved and spoiled until she bursts, so it isn’t like I am worried she won’t be okay.  It is a little more complicated than that.
Mostly, what I am sad about is that with Hoot turning one, and the impending doom of this trip to Rome, I have a deadline for weaning my child from the boob.
As I have told you before, when Owl was born, I was hell-bent on nursing her as long as I could.  But truth be told, I was cautious not to get my hopes up that it would last.  My original goal was three months, then six, then nine – and then finally, after that I could say that I was planning on nursing my kid for a year.  I love nursing my baby –it is the hardest thing that I have ever loved doing. And I am so proud of the fact that Hayden will have had breast milk for a year and that I stuck with it, even when it was hard…  Exclusively breastfeeding is a huge commitment for a mom to make. At first, she had a hard time latching so we used a nipple shield, which she weaned herself from at 4.5 months old – and when she weaned herself from the shield, I thought I was going to die because it hurt so bad.  I stressed about supply and calories when she didn’t gain a single pound between 2 and 4 months old.  I have had another human being attached to me for 11 months.  In the middle of the night when she cries, it is me that can solve her issue, not anyone else i haven't slept through the night in who knows how long. I have been exposed in Mexican restaurant, leaked all over myself too many time to count, been given dirty looks, been offered a blanket to cover my kid's head – which I politely but firmly refuse to do - and dealt with so much more.  I have nursed her everywhere you can think of – the car, the grocery store, the beach, a high school football game, a bus, an airplane, restaurants – you name it.  And I stuck with it through thick and thin because the good outweighed the bads.
To me, this is a huge accomplishment.  I am proud to be Hayden's lunch wagon.
I always intended to start weaning at 12 months when she can drink whole milk.  That is fine with me.  But with that looming down on me in less than a month, I am waffling….. And now I feel stressed that it has to be done before we go to Rome.  I thought maybe we could keep  the before bed time feeding until we were both good and ready.  but then Rome happened.
Hell, I don’t even know where to begin weaning her.  I have just secretly hoped she would lose interest and wean herself, but judging by how much she loves the boob, that is not happening.  Admittedly, it is a little bit of selfishness on my part – I love the closeness and I love that time we spend together.  And it doesn’t help that I nurse her to sleep and that she doesn’t exactly sleep through the night.  What am I supposed to do?
So I feel like a total ingrate because I am not very happy about Rome.  I want to cry every time I sit down to nurse Hayden because I know our days are numbered. 
I also understand that going to Rome is too big of an opportunity to turn down. 
So today, I am sad.  You are free to come over and slap me now. I can take it.  But please, get it over with so that I can relish my last months nursing my little one before such a sweet thing must end.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Only one month of babyhood left...

My little Owl is 11 months old today.  It is so hard to believe that it has been almost a whole year since, like a little whirlwind, she was born after only four hours of labor.  She came into this world already an old soul, with wide eyes and a serious little expression on her face.  She was born preferring to be held upright and stay up late like the grown-ups.  She was born holding her head up, ready to take on this big world.  If she could have hit the ground running, she would have.

It is hard to believe how much a baby can change in a mere 11 months.  It is like a lifetime of change and growth.  She went from the little 8 pound bundle we brought home from the hospital in the snow to this kid that I am holding as I type.  She runs, and says words, and has preferences.  She gets into trouble, she never takes a nap, and she loves Piper Penelope more than anything in the world.

When she was born everyone kept telling me, “Take a a ton of pictures.  It goes by so fast.”  Since she was born, I have taken around 25,000 pictures.  Seriously.  And even with 25,000+ pictures taken, time has still flown.
On the 7th of each of these 11 months, we have taken a special picture – Hoot with a sign telling how many months old she was on that day. When I came up with this plan, I figured that as she grew I would end up with 12 of these little gems and I look at all of them together and see how much she has changed. 

Can you believe that she is even the same kid? As you can see, taking these pictures got harder as she got older and busier - you should see some of the out takes. LOL I was taking the latest one this morning and I realized that there would only be one left after this, to be taken in a month, on the morning of my baby’s first birthday.  I felt a little sad.   I am trying not to think about it now.  For today, she is still a baby, 11 months old and thriving. 
I can honestly tell you that this has been the most amazing 11 months of my life.  Somehow the hardest 11 months have managed to also be the best. Hayden has given me a higher purpose, a reason to be the woman I want her to become.  Being a mom has made my life so whole.  On the morning that she was born, I looked at her and saw nothing but promise in my little girl’s big blue eyes.  I gave her life – and, little did I know, she did the same for me. 
Happy 11 months, Hayden Paisley.  Your mama loves you. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meatballs. It's what's for dinner tonight.

I was getting my hair cut tonight and my favorite ever hairdresser, Amy, and I were talking about what we were having for dinner.  I told her that we are having meatballs, and she told me that she has never made meatballs.  I thought this was nothing short of a crying shame because people love meatballs and they are super easy to make, and are a delicious vehicle for countless sauces and whatnots.  So I told her that I would post it on my bliggity for all to see and now her house will also become a meatball loving house.  :)
(Interestingly, Amy  told me that she never makes meatloaf either.  Also a crying shame, as meatloaf = delicious, but her reason cracked me up – Amy doesn’t make meatloaf because she hates the word “meatloaf” and doesn’t want to have to answer with the forbidden word when her family says “What’s for dinner?” LOL)
So here, for Amy and all of you, is a pretty healthy meatball recipe that can be adjusted to the likings of your family….  We add spinach for extra texture, flavor, and nutrition - and because, oddly enough, Hootie loves it - it is one of the few green veggies she will actually eat.  So needless to say, we sneak spinach into a lot of things. :)

Turkey Meatballs with Spinach

·         1lb ground turkey breast
·         3 eggs, beaten
·         ½ lb frozen spinach, thawed and with the moisture squeezed out (thaw it in the microwave and then wrap it in a towel and squeeze the water out.
·         ¾ c. Italian breadcrumbs
·         1 c. shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
·         ½ c. grated parmesan
·         2 cloves of garlic, pressed or grated
·          Salt and pepper to taste
·         Olive oil for frying – I couple of turns of the pan is all, like 3 or four tbsp.

In a big bowl, mix all ingredients (except olive oil of course) until evenly distributed.  You don’t have to mix it a lot, and I usually use my hands for this part. 

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large skillet.  Form meat mixture into little balls about the size of a golf ball.  This is a size that is easy to make, but sometimes I also like to make little bitty marble size ones that Hoot can pick up with her fingers.  It’s up to you.  :)  Place the meatballs in the heated pan.  Now you let them cook, turning them over now and then, until all of the sides are browned and the meat is cooked through. 

Voila! You have meatballs.  They are really good and easy, and you can just heat a jar of red spaghetti sauce and plop them in there for a few minutes to be eaten with spaghetti.  Tonight, I make them with a mushroom stroganoff sauce and whole wheat egg noodles.  It was super tasty, so I will share the sauce with you too:

Mushroom Stroganoff Gravy for Meatballs

·         1 large container of sliced button mushrooms
·         3 tbsp. of olive oil
·         1 small  can of beef broth
·         2 tbsp. of Wondra Flour
·         ¼ cup cold water
·         2 tbsp. grape jelly (sounds weird, but trust me, it’s good.  If you don’t have grape jelly on hand, use whatever jelly you do have.  I used leftover cranberry sauce from thanksgiving tonight.)
·         ½ c. sour cream (or, if you want it lower in fat and calories, Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream will work, too.)
·         Salt and paper to taste

Heat oil in same skillet you cooked your meat balls in (remove the meatballs first of course) and add mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt.  Let them cook, stirring occasionally.  While that is cooking, mix Wondra flour and water together in a little bowl – mix until all the lumps are gone.  When the mushrooms are soft and have a little color on them, pour the beef broth in the pan.   Slowly add the Wondra and water mixture while stirring.   Let the whole thing cook until the gravy is thickened and bubbling.  Stir in jelly and sour cream and stir until the sauce is smooth.  Season to taste.  Add Meatballs back to pan and let them warm back up in the hot sauce.  Serve over egg noodles.


 And EASY.  For real – the whole thing will take a half hour, tops.  Maybe longer if you have “help” from a nearly 11 month old – and by “help” I mean the emptying of cupboards and drawers, spreading toys all over, getting into the Christmas tree, bugging the dog, playing her dad’s guitar, bumping her head, crying “Maamaa!!” and clinging to your pants.   I find that this “help” is not very helpful really, but it is pretty cute and funny.

And look at it.

Looks good, right?

Hootie likes it, too.

I enjoy writing these recipes out on this blog.  I usually make ‘em up as I go when I am cooking.  I hope you like them too.  If you make these, leave me a comment and tell me if you liked it.  Or heck, tell me if you didn’t.  I really do want to know. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sending Thanksgiving out and welcoming Christmas in!

Thanksgiving weekend has been great.  Four days at home, spending time with the family, enjoying the coziness of our house while it has been bitter cold outside.  We have been basically gorging ourselves on left overs, which we have pretty well polished off. 
Our family has a lot to be thankful for in 2010.  New babies, our health, a safe and cozy home.  We have Hoot.  My cousin is pregnant with a baby that they have been wishing and waiting for for more than three years.  My aunt was diagnosed with cancer about this time last year, and after a long battle over the summer, she is doing very well.  My uncle just got a job with the new governor of Nevada, which is a really neat honor and we will be glad to have him closer to home. My parents are loving being grandparents to Little Hoot. This is just the beginning on a long list of reasons we have to be thankful, so we all spent the day together and enjoyed our blessings.
We started out thankful for pajamas and applesauce.

And pug dogs. (Piper herself is thankful for people dropping things on the floor for her to eat.)

We had 15 people to dinner and we had many preparations to make. (My mom showed up and was a little annoyed that i spent the morning "preparing" place cards rather than peeling potatoes...  whoops...  LOL  but it all worked out in the end.)

Hayden decided that watching Elmo and being silly were her jobs.  And she rocked at them!

Didn't this turkey and the table turn out great?  Good thing i spent all that time making those place cards! And I have to toot my own horn because this was the first time that I have been in charge of Thanksgiving dinner - especially the turkey.  Look at my 21 pound Mega-bird!  All brown and tasty!

And so dinner was eaten... and eaten and eaten.  In my family, we love eating. 

Hayden is no exception.  She loved everything on her plate and ate like a champ.

Tonight we are saying good-bye to Thanksgiving with Green Turkey Chili, made of the bones and scraps of the delicious Mega-bird.  This is all that remains of the poor fella:

And with Thanksgiving come and gone, a new season is upon us.  And so begins the trimming of trees, the hanging of stockings, the making of lists (to be checked twice of course), and all of the other traditional "hall decking" - look out Christmas, here we come!

(And all that is left for Hoot to do is wait for Santa to come...)