Archive for November, 2010

Nov 29 Monday

Monday Monday

There are a few things I can rely on every Monday morning:

A sizable Get To list for me. I “get to” do things that need to be done, with less people in the house to un-do them as quickly as I do them.

My kids, who were up before the sun all weekend, will need to be pried from their warm sheets and threatened within an inch of losing TV privileges (harder on me than it is on them) to get into their school clothes and eat one bite (at least) of breakfast before scurrying off to school.

My two year old will unsuccessfully try to convince me that my four year old’s toothbrush is HER toothbrush, followed by a not-so-innocent “Oh, I forgot!”

Hot coffee. Sweet nectar of God.

The need to find the source of “The Stink”. The Stink ever changing and usually shows up by Thursday. A couple weeks ago it was a wet washcloth thrown in the bottom of the clothes hamper and then left for three days. Once it was an overnight pull-up left behind the bathroom door. It has also been Chinese leftovers, cauliflower in the fridge and the small area behind a kiddo’s ears.

Today, it was a dirty diaper left in the back of the ol’ family truckster.

For 9 long days.

This is what happens when you do a quick Operation Britches Refresh in the mall parking lot on a Friday evening, then forget to properly dispose of the grenade before leaving on vacation, in the other car.

It’s not even 9 am and I have already showed this Monday morning who is boss. Karate chop!

Life as parent is so glamorous, no?

(She says as she sips her coffee, then sniffs only to discover another stink.)

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Nov 21 Sunday

How to procrastinate (and cook a pumpkin)

The more you do, the more you can do.

Most days.

While recently preparing my family for a 15 hour (each way) road trip South of the Mason Dixon line, I found myself with an entire day home alone. A friend hosted my kids (mwah mwah mwah) and SuperHub scurried off to watch football. It was just me and the dust bunnies that float to the corners when the furnace kicks on.

What I should have done with this time was sort, fold and put away Mount Laundry so we could pack our suitcases. What I chose to do was clean out and organize our hall closet, make a double batch of banana bread and roast pumpkins.

We are pumpkin eaters at our house: Pumpkin pie, bread, lattes, pacos, ravioli. If it has pumpkin in it, we are happy to gobble it up.

So while Pandora played my favorite Christmas carols, I studied Google for the best way to put our post-Halloween decor to good use. We had 4 pie pumpkins adoring our front stairs and I had no arguments to mediate, no sippy cups to fill and no one to ask me anything about anything.

I was surprised at how easy the process was and how excited I was to puree and put the pumpkin to good use.

Because really, who wants to climb Mount Laundry when there is no one around to help spot me in case I fall in?

You will need:

A pie pumpkin (usually 6 to 8 inches in diameter, sold in grocery stores this time of year)
A knife
Ice cream scooper or spoon
Cooking spray
A baking dish or cookie sheet

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash the outside of the pumpkin well, with just water. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the pumpkin in half. I found a serrated bread knife worked best. Using an ice cream scooper, remove the seeds and insides of the pumpkin.

Note to You: You can rinse and toast the seeds for a delicious snack. A friend of mine recently brought me cumin cinnamon pumpkin seeds that her parents toasted. Holy maker of all things delicious, they were tasty.

Back to the pumpkin.

Spray your cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay the pumpkin open sides down. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour (or longer, don’t stress) or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool. Using a spoon, carefully remove all the fruit from the skin, scooping it into a bowl.

Using a masher, mixer or hand blender (my favorite) gently mash the pumpkin until it is smooth and velvety.

My mixture was not watery as I didn’t opt to add water to the baking dish. If your pumpkin is watery, strain or place over coffee filters and drain overnight.

Each one of my pumpkins yielded about 3 cups of puree. Add to any recipe that calls for pumpkin, squash or sweet potatoes.

Our favorite pumpkin bread recipe:

15 oz pumpkin puree
1 Cup canola oil
4 Eggs
2/3 Cup sugar
3 1/2 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger

Mix the first 4 ingredients well, set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture, whisking well. Pour into loaf pans (I use 8 mini pans) that have been sprayed with cooking spray.

Mini loaf pans bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Larger loaf pans will make 2-3 loaves and bake for 50 minutes.

When a butter knife, inserted into the center of a loaf, comes out clean, your bread is done. Remove from the oven and cool well before popping out of the pans. Wrap up to store or place in an airtight container.

This recipe is best on day two, but it rarely lasts that long at our house.

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Nov 19 Friday

Step On Up!

Note to Grandparents: A Step On Up stool would make a magnificent gift for your children and grandchildren this holiday.

We have a new member of our family. I refer to it as “Mommy’s Little Helper” and no, it’s not vodka. Or bubble bath. It’s better.

It’s our Wheatland Wood Step On Up stool. Since arriving at our house last month, this wooden goodie has grown to be more than a way to reach Mom’s secret candy stash on top of the fridge. It’s now used as a Brown Family time-out spot, snack stool, a bed for Little Mermaid dolls, a chair at the dinner table when Grandparents come to dinner, an extra set of legs, top shelf pantry reacher and a place to rest my dogs when they are barking.

We have been eyeing similar products for years. My kiddos are constantly sitting on the counter-tops as we cook, bake and live life. Every Time someone has taken a spill off of a chair, I’ve promised myself I would look into a solution. After grabbing an ice pack, of course.

Then a little bird told me a friend’s parents in Wisconsin MAKE beautiful wooden stools, by hand, and custom stain them to match your decor. I was sold. Where do I sign the dotted line?

For our family, it was love at first site. The smooth contour of the wood, the sturdy craftsmanship and strong presence made us swoon. The kids began crawling all over the stool, marveling at the fold in step.

This is an heirloom quality piece of furniture, and it fulfills its step up destiny every single day. It has even saved me money on the grocery budget. Who knew I had  a year supply of chocolate chips and 4 bottles of ketchup on the top shelf of the pantry?

For only $155, you can have one of your own. Or better yet, give one as a gift!

We got ours engraved. Someday, when my grandkids are climbing on my kitchen counter to make a batch of cookies with Grandma Katy, I will remind them to pull over the Brown stool.

Wheatland Wood Craft has a website and a store on Etsy (free shipping!) to make ordering super easy! Give a gift that keeps on giving. And discover what is on the top of your pantry shelf. HEY OH!

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Nov 17 Wednesday

Shoe Jenga

We live in a little(ish) house. To organize and keep myself sane, I put things in baskets.

Our shoe basket has become a bit of an issue. With a mix of warm weather and cold weather shoes, it’s overstocked.

So SuperHub invented a new game; Shoe Jenga.

You have to remove your shoes, without disrupting the vertical order of the other shoes. You may also not allow any other shoes to hit the floor.

We could all put our shoes back into our closets and start over. But that is positively no fun.

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Nov 14 Sunday

Gobble Gobble It up! (Turkey Stroganoff)

The planets aligned last week because I had a fridge full of ground turkey and mushrooms were on sale. Oh, and I finally remembered that I’ve been craving stroganoff since the fourth month of my pregnancy, with Maddy.

She is almost 5 year old.

The reason I haven’t given in to preparing foods (I love) with mushrooms before? SuperHub detests them. “They are a fungus.” And everyone who knows what a great plate of beef (or turkey) stronganoff is, knows that it can’t be made without mushrooms.

And suddenly, after 13 years together and nearly 8 years of marriage, I decided to make SuperHub pick them out of his food. Because mama wants some properly made stroganoff. Giddy up.

This time of year, when the weather cools and it gets dark before Oprah is over, I slip into comfort food mode.

And this is among the most comforting of foods. Warm, creamy and rich in flavor. And thanks to a few tricks, it’s a little easier on the old ticker.

You will need:

1 lb. Ground turkey
1 Can Cream of mushroom soup
1/3 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Light sour cream
Fresh mushrooms (large enough to be picked out)
Garlic, chopped (I didn’t have enough so I used garlic powder also, which would be fine on it’s own)
1 Small onion, chopped
Ground pepper, to taste
Egg noodles
Beef broth (optional, I used it to boil the egg noodles in to give UMPH to the flavor of the dish. For the record: It UMPH’d it.)

Brown the turkey, when cooked thoroughly, add pepper to taste. Set aside. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and sautee the chopped onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add the meat back to the pan. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the soup, milk and sour cream. Pour over vegetable and meat mixture, stirring well to combine.

Bring the beef broth, mixed with water, to a boil and add your egg noodles. Cook until done. Drain, mix with the sauce and serve!

Note to You: You can add peas, carrots or any veggie that tickles your fancy. I served carrot sticks on the side.

Four out of five of the Browns gobbled up their dinner plate. And there was even enough leftover for me to have it for lunch the next day. And lucky for me, SuperHub gave me all of his mushrooms.

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Nov 12 Friday

Thought Of The Day

Maddy Rae Rae, my 4 year old, told me that she wants to marry a walking hand when she grows up.

“Not a boy, just a hand. That can walk around and do stuff.”

I have yet to come up with a reason why this is a bad idea.

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Nov 05 Friday

You’re Beautiful

I am a firm believer that the most beautiful women in the world, are the ones who have strong, beautiful spirits. If you feel good about yourself, you look good.

Once upon a time, I heard someone say something that stuck with me like gum on the bottom of my shoe.

Please excuse the loose paraphrasing.

“We can literally vaccinate our children against poor self esteem, by showing them a good example of loving ourselves.”

From the moment I processed this thought, I’ve made valiant efforts in not verbalizing negative thoughts about my own body. I have never, and will never, talk negatively about my body or looks within ear shot of my children. Or anyone else for that matter.

I’ve learned to embrace my heritage, my choices and my achievements. You can’t create life within your womb and not be forever changed. My body, post babies, is something I will never be ashamed of.

Note to You: You’re beautiful. Embrace who you are. You are one of a kind.

On a recent outing, I decided to take part in Operation Beautiful and leave a note in the women’s restroom.

Today is a good day for you to do the same thing.

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Nov 04 Thursday

Sweet N’ Tangy Chicken

Yesterday, I made up a new recipe. It wasn’t on purpose, it was out of desperation. A napping kid and a busy afternoon schedule meant that I needed dinner to cook itself in the slow cooker.

I warned SuperHub, it was either going to be gooooood or we were going to feed it to the dog and order pizza.

When we walked back into the kitchen, just before dinner time, I was pleasantly surprised by the aroma that filled the air. I knew, based on the sweet and savory hints, it was going to mimic Brown Sugar Chicken. And it did. But in a cousin, once removed, kind of way.

And it was easier than Brown Sugar Chicken. I know, right?

Note to You: This recipe is for a single batch; of course, I make a double batch. I have a kid (growing boy) with a hollow leg and we like leftovers for easy lunches the rest of the week. Double batches also make it easy to surprise a friend with dinner!

You will need:

1 lb Boneless skinless chicken (I used frozen chicken tenders) Frozen or thawed, mine were frozen
1/3 Cup Soy sauce (low sodium is always a good option but not necessary)
1/2 Cup Brown sugar
1 Can Crushed pineapple
1/4  Cup Apple juice (to add moisture), optional

Put your chicken boobies in the slow cooker. Whisk the soy sauce and brown sugar together then add the can of crushed pineapple, with the juice! Stir to combine and pour over the chicken. Add the apple juice if you need more liquid. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Mine took 5ish but were in there for 6 hours and were fine. If you are using frozen meat, it will take longer. If you are using thawed chicken tenders, it will be done in 4 hours.

If I would have had some on hand, I would have thrown in sliced green peppers. It would have added a green veggie and lessened my guilt level on the inadequate number of healthy items my kids have consumed this post-Halloween week. What, don’t Almond Joys count as a serving of fruit?

Serve over rice.

Hint: I know I say this all the time, but when preparing your rice, use Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth instead of water. It adds OODLES of flavor to the rice! A $2 box of broth will prepare 1 to 2 batches of rice and take your meal to a whole new level.

And the Survey Says…

SuperHub: “Yeah, it’s good. I put some hot sauce on top to add heat, but it’s good.”

Me: “YUM. That pineapple is like CANDY.”

Maddy: “If I eat it, can I have some Halloween candy?”

Cooper: “Can I have more chicken, please?”

Sam: “I WANT A ‘POON.”

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Nov 03 Wednesday

Why you shouldn’t let kids play with your Blackberry…

Apparently I slept right through last night’s appointment. I sure hope I wasn’t supposed to bring snacks!

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Nov 02 Tuesday

Quote From the 3rd Row

Mom, I think I figured out why kids go away to college for 4 WHOLE years. That is how long it takes them to get used to being away from their mom and dad!

Cooper Brown
Age 6

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