Archive for January, 2011

Jan 31 Monday

Cheeseburger Soup!

Grief, for me, is a funny little process. Complicated, painful and quirky.

I have only cooked one meal since my Dad left us. Hot tea and string cheese can sustain me for longer than you may realize, but the rest of my poor family needs to eat.

Thankfully, our (amazing) support system of friends set up a Care Calendar and we have delicious meals delivered to our doorstep every couple of days.

It has been a surprise, each day, how much these gestures have meant to us. I’ve always appreciated the kindness and thought of a meal, but this go round it has meant a little more.

There are days when it is tough to just be. Knowing that your family is going to eat a delicious, nutritious meal, that you don’t have to prepare, is among the best gifts. It makes the day more bearable. It frees up little pockets of energy to smile and play with your kids. It eases a burden.

We are utterly grateful.

But at some point, I need to start to cook again too.

So, last night, in a explosion(ish) of energy and an effort to regain some semblance of normalcy, I made dinner. It was a recipe that had been in the back of my head for awhile: Cheeseburger Soup. It sounded delicious, easy and my kids would love it.

Well, in theory they would love it.

This is a weeknight recipe. It was done, start to finish, in 25 minutes and I thought it was positively the bee’s knees. Comforting, warm and a smidgen silly. We all need a little silly in our lives. Even if it’s your choice of serving spoon.

SuperHub thought that chopped up pickles would add a little something to the soup. Of course, I think that is a splendid idea, pickles make everything better.

My kids, well they hated it. They ate 5 and 3 bites, respectively, but only because there was homemade pineapple upside down cake with their names on it.

Then they asked if someone else could bring us dinner tomorrow night.

I smiled as I said, YES.

You will need:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 Onion, chopped
Potatoes, peeled and chopped (amount to your liking)
Carrots, chopped (amount to your liking)
Celery, chopped (amount to your liking)
4 T butter, divided
3 Cups Chicken or beef stock (I prefer to use low sodium)
1 Cup Milk (2% adds a little more creamy finish)
1/2 Cup flour
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Sour cream
3-4 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Dried parsley

Brown your beef, drain. Melt 2 T of butter in your pan and add carrots, celery and onion. Cook over medium high heat until tender. Add the browned ground beef and pour in your beef or chicken stock. Add the chopped potatoes. Bring to a boil and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes. Once potatoes are fork tender, heat the milk with the remaining 2 T of butter. Whisk in the flour and then slowly whisk the milk mixture into your soup. At this point, I used a potato masher to gently smash down the potatoes, giving the soup a hearty consistency. Reduce heat to low and stir in sour cream and cheddar cheese until well combined. Add dried parsley to your liking. Grab a happy little spoon and divide into bowls. Serve with a crusty piece of bread and a smile.

One of my lucky readers needs a Zak happy spoon of their own, don’t you think? Leave a comment below to enter. I will draw a winner at random (at noon CST on Wednesday February 2, 2011) and you too can have “Happy Meals” every night of the week.

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Jan 27 Thursday

Jars of love…And buttons

My sister and I recently hosted a baby shower for a good friend, who is expecting her very first baby. It was all sorts of magic.

Because we were celebrating in a beautiful wood, cozy room at our favorite local watering hole, we had to figure out a way to add color in non-conventional ways.

Semi-related: I am obsessed with recycled glass jars.

While perusing a local store, I happened upon over-sized buttons in Baby B’s theme colors: Pale yellow, smokey gray and white.

Using white raffia, I attached the buttons to the jars and filled them with gorgeous yellow roses.

The result was a delightful splash of color, in a subtle yet noticeable presentation. And wicked affordable.

So, now I am obsessed with buttons. Glass jars filled with buttons!

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Jan 20 Thursday


Sometimes, when I am walking through Target, with or without kids, and my cell phone rings, I ignore the call.

But I always look around, and over my shoulder, to make sure the person I am ignoring isn’t standing there watching me do it.

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Jan 19 Wednesday

Chapter 11: Facebook’s Untold Rules of Engagement

I got into a political smackdown last evening on Facebook. OhyesIdid. As of 8 am this morning, as I sip my Poor Man’s Mocha, I am unapologetic, albeit mildly annoyed with myself for my inability to walk away.

And I will be honest with you, it wasn’t so much that I disagreed with the person who wrote the highly inflammatory status update regarding Health Care Reform as it was their use of profanities to get their point across.

Words are powerful. You throw such a strong willed comment into the pot, you bet I am going to be first in line to flush you.

A very minuscule population of my wonderfully amazing “friends” on the social network are energy sucking fun sponges. Less than 2%. But it’s somehow this same 2% who populate 40% of my newsfeed.

Doood. I know, it’s just Facebook. But it’s my main source of communication with many friends who live all over the country. It’s how I keep tabs on their exciting lives, remind them how much I love them and peep into their worlds via picture uploads.

So when I laid eyes on this rude status update, I decided to go against the little voice in my head (named Dave) and not put down my laptop. I replied, engaged in (from my side) an intelligent discussion about the facts.

Then I hit unfriend.

And it felt so good.

Because I have a loud mouth, and can, I am now going to make a bold list of things I think to be true. If you don’t agree with me, WONDERFUL! That is the beauty of our country. You can disagree…And guess what? I am still going to love you! But please, the moment you insult people of lower socioeconomic standing, or me, I am going to…Well, I am going to put down my laptop.

After I unfriend you.

Unless you are posting an article, or link, or showing your support in a positive manner; AVOID POSTING ABOUT POLITICS. If you do, refrain from use of profanity. Seriously.

For the record: Your health care premium increases have LESS to do with Health Care Reform and MORE to do with the fact that people go the to ER when they should go to the doctor. Or stay home and sleep. We have become a society obsessed with diagnosis and treating our ailments immediately. Antibiotics don’t work on the flu. Stay home and sleep.

Be kind to others. Please. And even if you have a mean little voice in your head, remember that your words are powerful and avoid saying them aloud. Or plastering them on Facebook.

Poor Man’s Mochas are awesome. Especially when you wake to find a coffee creamer shortage in your kitchen.

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Jan 11 Tuesday

You know…

You know you’re getting older(ish), when you walk by a group of teenagers and know who they belong too. You recognize family traits. They look and sound exactly like their parents. And again, you know this. JUST BY WALKING BY THEM.

You know it’s imperative to stick to your New Year’s resolution of  “No more mountains of unfolded laundry” when your kids can’t find their clean laundry. Because it is put away.

You know it’s time to go to the library (or the book store) when you respond to the question “What’s the last book you read?” with “A Harry Potter book when I was pregnant with Sam, who is now 2.5 years old. Whoa.”

You know how to re-caulk a tub, patch dry wall and remove scuffs from a wall. Yes, you do. Or you will in 5 minutes. Provided you have internet access. I heart Google.

You know you love your happy little home (Status: For Sale) when you seriously consider a rigorous screening process to find a magnificent family to help it fulfill it’s happy little house destiny.

You know you’re getting old the first time you say “Wow, I haven’t see you in over 25 years!” And remember them 25 years ago.

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Jan 03 Monday

Little Goody 2-Shoes

I have a major soft spot for kiddos selling things. But kiddos doing good, while selling something, gets me hook line and sinker every time.

While enjoying a bottle of wine with some friends recently, they told me about Sami of Little Goody 2-Shoes. “You have to see what this little girl is doing!”

So I did.

In her own words: “My name is Samantha. I am eleven years old and live in St. Louis, Missouri. I love gymnastics, reading, art, BBQ, and roller coasters. I have a Lego-loving nine-year-old brother. We are adopting a four-year-old boy from Ethiopia.”

After spending time with her new brother, and the other children of Kind Hearts Orphanage in Ethiopia, Sami started selling necklaces ($6), designed by Becky Lee Burk of Adopt Africa. Sami donates 100% of every sale to purchase shoes for the children.

Here is why.

File this under: Things we take for granted

It doesn’t hurt that the necklaces are like eye candy. Rae Rae, my 5 year old, is going to rock her new
decollete decor. I got her the M initial and a super cute striped Africa pendant.

$12 including shipping, now that is the right way to start a Monday morning.

Note to You: Adopt Africa isn’t about literally adopting children in Africa. It’s about taking the initiative to make a difference in the lives of others. And thanks to Sami of Little Goody 2-Shoes, you can do that too.

Because I am feeling the love, who wants a necklace of their own? Comment now to enter. Drawing at 12 pm CST on Tuesday 12/4/11. Winner will receive a pendant of their choice.

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