Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's hard to find the words

It's hard to know what to say as I sit and cry, hope, and pray with other blogging friends for this little girl who is in the fight for her life. Her name is Cora

And now the family of this little girl named Tuesday whose family sad goodbye to their sweet 2 1/2 year old yesterday.

I do not have children of my very own, but I know that NO parent should experience this.

Perhaps today you hug your babies tighter, you appreciate your spouse more, and you look to those around you and be grateful and thankful for every moment you are privileged to share with them. It kind of makes you stop and think doesn't it?

And now I say this

Cancer -
I hate you.
I know hate is a strong word, but it is actually a kind way to describe what I feel for you. I hate you with everything inside me.
I am united with Kathy in my hatred for you and agree with Meg and want to punch you in the face.
I won't even get into what you have done to me, and my family. But now, to these sweet innocent little babies. You are just evil.
You truly suck!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Miss Independent

Mama Kats Writers Workshop
Other than the birth of a child or your wedding, write about a joyous moment.

This is our old house. Isn't it adorable. It is 100 years old. I loved that house. It was charming, it had character, and the turret going up the side just screamed "Buy me, I'm cute You need me". It also laughed in my face and heckled "You now have to cut about 10 more corners in order to paint the rooms I am part of. BA-HA-HA-HA!!!"
Jim and I walked into this house and just knew it was ours. Being that it was 100 years old, it came with some "quirks", but that was ok. We took care of our baby and enjoyed the time we had with it. When it was time sell her, we were embarking on a new adventure and we were ok leaving the house behind. It was during this time I had an amazingly joyous moment.

Jim and I have a fairly traditional marriage in my opinion. We both work full time, so household duties are pretty much a 50/50 split. The split is traditional in the sense that he thinks little elves put away his laundry and I have no clue when the oil in my car needs changed unless he tells me.
When the time came to sell our house, we both struggled with our "roles". Jim began spending the majority of his time in Florida in Jan 2007, and made the permanent move in March. I didn't move til May. Things needed to get done to sell our house during that time and he couldn't be in Ohio to take care of it all. We had plenty of people that would help, but once the ball started rolling we were under a huge time crunch. I had to step up. Jim felt bad, I was less than thrilled, but it didn't matter, things had to get done. Our normally traditional roles had to shift.
Nothing major needed done, but little things add up quick. One of the first things our realtor told us when he came in March (um still snowing in Ohio), was that we needed to paint the porch. Curb appeal is big he said, and even though its winter, you can still make a statement. We kind of panicked. The porch need painted, closets needed emptied, the worlds tiniest, weirdest shaped, impossible to get a ladder in bathroom need painted, etc. etc. It was winter so we had weather among other things stacked against us. The only weekend Jim could have done it before we listed it rained/sleeted/snowed. Finding a painter was ridiculous, and we were both freaking out over getting it all done.
One day after work I did what I do best. I made lists. Lots of lists. Then, I yelled at myself and reminded myself that I could do this. "You are a strong, smart woman. You are independent. Jim is always there for you and now it is time for you to step up and take care of things. He is living alone in a condo in Florida, starting a new position, and has a lot going on. Get it together, make a plan and make it happen." And I did.
I watched the weather for a nice day, took a vacation day, enlisted our friend Joe and painted the porch (and didn't tell Jim - I wanted to surprise him). Joe arrived at about 1 and I had been painting for hours. He stayed til dark and we finished up what would have been a two day project with the porch light on to help us that same day. I felt awesome, I felt strong, and it was truly a joyous moment.

I should note that the joyous event left me on high. Joe left, and I proceeded upstairs to paint the bathroom. I still curse that teeny tiny awkward bathroom. I was on a roll and stayed up all night cleaning closets, scrubbing floors and making chandeliers sparkle. So as joyous as it was, I didn't sleep at all that night and when I arrived at work at 7 the next morning one of just two guys in our pretty girly department, Nick said "Hey Carrie, how is everything going". I then proceeded to start crying because I still needed to paint the trim in one of the crazy turret rooms and I just wanted it all to be done with. I think I may have scared him. Poor Nick.

It was worth it though. Jim looked so happy when he came home you would have thought the Browns won the Super Bowl, The Indians won the World Series, and the Cavs won the NBA Finals all on the same day. We sold our house in less than one month and when I arrived in Florida in May, we didn't have the house to worry about and could concentrate the adventure ahead.

ps - did birth of A child, mean any child, or one of your own children? Cuz I was there when my niece Kara was born and it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. She is eight and I still tear up thinking about it. I am also still mad at her for saying Jim first. I witnessed your entrance into the world kara! That ought to count for something.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my aunt and friend! I love you!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Getting real about cooking and baking

If you have read from the beginning you know that this blog started out with recipes and cooking tips. That was it. It has since expanded, but my love of all things culinary is still quite evident. I started recipe of the week for 2009 and hope you enjoy it. Some weeks are quick and easy, some will be a little more complicated. Either way, it will be fun and I will keep it real.
In that same light, I want to tell you this. Its quite a confession, so I hope you are ready:

I use boil in the bag rice.
There I said it.

OK, I am saying this because as much as I love cooking and baking, often its about necessity over desire to do it. We have to eat. We don't do fast food, and I am not a fan of prepared boxed meals. This leaves going out to dinner or actually cooking as the only two options (I guess there is always not eating as an option). Cooking and baking for fun happens on the weekend.

To be fair, my reason for being against boxed meals is first, I don't like the flavor, second, I don't like the preservatives and sodium. We are by no means health nuts, but every person/family has their views on what they eat and that's ours. I still by some boxed side dishes, and will always have a deep love and devotion for Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box.

I am not a cooking expert, but over time I have come up with a few tricks that can take the pain out of the necessity that is cooking. Feel free to follow along.

1. Make a list and check it twice. I work until between 5 and 6 every day and trying to figure out what to make after that is a drag.
I meal plan a week at a time. I found two weeks to be too overwhelming and would get frustrated. Frustration translates to being discouraged, and that will have you hating cooking.
Scan the cupboards and refrigerator and make sure you have it all. Put it on the list and head to the grocery.

2 Post the list. Anywhere you will see it helps. You may need to rearrange if your schedule changes and its good to know what meat needs pulled from the freezer.

3 Plan a leftovers meal. I don't do this every week, but it is a regular on the meal plan.You don't have to have Mondays meal on Tuesday as leftovers. Wait til Wednesday or Thursday. It gives you a night off!
It may seem like this is not a possibility for larger families. I can't speak to this from experience since there are just two of us. However, if you have a recipe/meal that easily doubles (spaghetti and meatballs, cheeseburger or chicken pot pie) give it a try. Double the recipe, make two, etc. Save the extra portion and pull it out for dinner
I don't have children, so I don't want to be one of those people. However, I do have a husband who was anti-leftovers. I played along at first, but then I stopped. Is it a little boring? Of course. Is it easier for the person doing the cooking? Um, yeah, and sometimes that just wins out. It's leftovers or whatever you can find on your own to eat. Tough love baby!

4 Have ingredients for standby/backup meals on hand all the time.
You would be surprised what you can make with baking mix (like bisqu!ck).
I keep bacon and baking mix on hand. Bacon thaws quickly and there is nothing like an occasional breakfast for dinner.
We always have two boxes of pasta and spaghetti sauce in the pantry, and garlic bread in the freezer. Quick, filling meal that doesn't take long. If you want to jazz that up, try this:
Cook 1 pound ground beef. In large pan or bowl add the cooked ground beef to two jars of spaghetti sauce. Divide between two freezer containers and place in freezer. You now have hearty sauce for two spaghetti dinners. You don't even need to worry about thawing. Just can toss the frozen sauce in a saucepan and slowly heat through. (If it won't come out of the container right away, place the sealed container in hot water to start the thawing and then remove)

5 Try new things. Pork chops every Monday, Chicken every Tuesday, and Lasagna every Wednesday gets boring. Not just for the people eating the food, but for the person cooking it as well. Try to change it up and be confident about what you are cooking.
Allrecipes and Betty Crocker are two great sources for recipes with reviews by recipe users and tips to help you cook.

6 Slow Cooker love.
If you are gone for long days, you can get a slow cooker with several temperature settings, a removable cooking container, and a timer that turns the heat to warm for less than $50 if you watch sales. Or you can buy a basic slow cooker and an appliance timer (keeping in mind that the appliance timer will turn the slow cooker off completely and since I have never done this I can't attest to its quality)
Its great to literally plop some food in the slow cooker, turn it on and have a tasty meal 6-8 hours later.
The slow cooker gets its feelings hurt when people think it can only be used for roasts and stews.
Try Stephanies site (one of the first blogs I ever visited) for great ideas, google search crockpot and any word (chicken, pork, etc), search slow cooker in All recipes. Also, the Fix it and Forget series of cookbooks is great.
Not everyone is cool with leaving the slow cooker on all day unattended, and I understand. However, Saturdays and Sundays require dinner too. This could be an option for weekends so you can spend more time relaxing, enjoying family, nurturing your hobbies, etc. You're still home, and dinner is magically cooking away. If this is how you will use the slow cooker, you won't need any fancy bells and whistles and a simple, inexpensive slow cooker will serve you well.

7 Treat yourself. Going out to dinner may not be an option every week, but try to plan a meal out, take out, or pizza night every once in a while.

I hope this helps some of you. If you have questions, email me or ask in the comment section. I would love to answer.

Friday, January 16, 2009

If I were a Simpson

Try it yourself. Just upload a picture and see what happens.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Balancing Act

This week one of ideas we were given for Writers Workshop was:
Describe your significant other's most attractive quality (on the inside).

I could truly go on about the amazing man I get to spend life with, but I will say that one of his most amazing qualities is that he truly keeps me balanced.
Jim is as laid back as the come, but:
When I am sad, he reminds of all I have to be happy about
When I am angry, he does just the right thing to make me laugh.
When I am hurt, he tries to ease the pain.
When I feel really bad for the little old man eating by himself at a restaurant, he gets it and rather than tease me he says "No worries, his wife is probably out shopping" or "His wife was probably watching reality TV and he wanted to get out of the house."
When I am really excited about something he shares the excitement (even if he doesn't find excitement in taking a quilting class)
When I laugh at my own jokes, he says "Hon, you're a riot"
When I struggled with the uncertainty of moving to Florida, he spent hours making lists with me while sipping coffee even though he just knew everything would fall into place.
When I am really missing my friends back in Ohio, he goes shopping and to girl movies with me.
When I don't want to make dinner (yes it happens), he just knows and says "Hey, how about we have cereal for dinner tonight, or order a pizza."

I am a worrier. I am emotional. I wear my heart on my sleeve and in the past I thought I needed to change it.
I took me years to accept and even embrace that part of me (and its still a work in progress), but Jim just did. I love him for that and so many other reasons

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I don't want to brag but...

I got an award
I found Heathers blog last week through the Writers Workshop, and with this post ,I knew we would be buds. I too laugh at myself sometimes because I am 32 and sit around sewing. She recomend a magazine for sewing and quilting and I actually just signed up for a quilting class in the area that I am quite excited about.
When she gave me this I was happy. It was neat to get, so Thanks Heather.

This is a 'meme' award, so it gets passed on. And just for reference I checked out Wikipedia and found this The term Internet meme is a used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet

The rules for passing it on are:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded the blog to you. check

3. Award up to ten other blogs. check
4. Add links to the blogs you award onto your blog. check

5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs. check

I have a lot of blogs I love and visit everyday, but I am just going to pick one, because well, if I put them all up then it wouldn't be too much of an award, and a I feel like this blog really deserves it.

Amanda at The Bishop Family is one of my new faves. She had a lot of exciting news to share last week and her family is so cute. Its fun to see what they are up to and I love how close they are, including her extended family. It is also worth saying that she has a playlist I just LOVE!

Recipe of the Week - Week 2

Chicken Pot Pie

This is an old stand by for us. As I type that though, I realize its been a while since I made it. Credit is to my stepmom.

This is comfort food for me. It's great reheated, making it an easy meal to drop off to a friend who is under the weather, just had a baby, etc.

Preheat oven to 350, grab a skillet and a pie plate.

One package Pillsbury pie crust (you need two crusts)
1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 can mixed vegetables, drained (I always use veg-all)
1 can cream of potato soup (I use healthy request to reduce sodium)

Place one pie crust in pie plate, lining the pie plate
Cook cubed chicken until done in skillet. Added mixed vegetables (drained) and cream of potato soup. Mix together.
Spoon into pie crust
Place remaining crust on top and seal edges. Cut slits in top crust

Bake 30 - 45 minutes, until crust is golden brown.***
Serve with salad for an easy yummy meal. Its great in the winter!

When I am taking to someone for dinner, I cook til the crust is done, but light in color. When the reheat, the crust will brown.

By the way, this is veg-all.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What not to say, installment #3

Dear Rudy McRuderson Pharmacist at Super/Department Store with a pharmacy -

I would first like to note that I am fully aware of the fact that I am responsible for ensuring that my prescription refills don't run out. I however, like all of us have had a lot going on and simply didn't realize that I had no refills. Moving on.....

I am well aware that keeping up to date on my refills is my responsibility. I understood it both the first, second, and yep even the third time you said it. I also understood when you reworded it and instead stated "I mean, we can't keep track of 100's of customers refills, that is up to the customer." The funny thing is, you in fact CAN keep track. After all, if you couldn't keep track then how would you be standing there telling me I had none? Hmmmmmmmm? Ok, ok, I am nit-picking here, I get your point.

Now that we have established it's my fault not yours lets examine further.

What really bothered me is this: When I asked you for two pills to get me through the weekend, your response was as follows: (And, you have to picture this as you read. Head shaking, tilted to the side with her lips pursed)
"Mmmmm, Sorry maam, but we actually don't give out drugs to people when they don't have a prescription."

Let's dissect
1 Is there a mouse in your pocket? Cuz I am looking behind the counter and I don't see anyone else there with you, which makes me question the "we".
2 If by we, you mean the company you work for, then really all you need to say is "It's against our policy to do that." I wouldn't put my job on the line by breaking a rule for some flake that forgot to get her prescription refill updated either. I have a job, I get rules ok! Instead you make it seem like I am trying to get you to give some crazy drug to get me through to my next fix.
3 Am I exhibiting drug seeking behaviors? Is it the brown loafers and 3/4 length Old Navy Shirt that gave me away?
4 Give out drugs? I am asking for two synthroid tablets. Um, in case you forgot that is synthetic thyroid. Since my thyroid is lazy and doesn't work on it's own, that little pill get's it moving. Yeah, seriously! I am not looking for vicodin or codeine. I am not even asking for a case of the Claritin they keep behind the counter. And last I checked the young crazy kids aren't selling it on the street and Ren McCormack isn't passing it around right before he and his crazy cohorts convince Reverend Moore to let them have a prom.

I get it, I totally get it. I was an idiot for not paying attention, but shame on you for making me feel like and idiot and a pill seeker. Honestly, I felt dirty and a little ashamed of myself when I left. Now I have to go groveling back to CVS and hope he will take me back. I only left CVS becuase it was easy to grab my prescription while I was there at your mega store buying other things. I should have know better than to leave CVS, I should've known!

And in honor of the mention above, here you go...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Some amazing friends I have never met

This is Mamas Losing It's Writers Workshop
Write about your first blogging friend
This is the story of some of my blog pals. It covers only a few of them, but here goes:

My first blog friend was Jennifer at the The Petersons Go Public.
And here is our story (HA!)
I first found blogs when I did a search for crockpot recipes (for realsies). In my search on google I got this blog as a result. Stephanie completed her mission and posted a crockpot recipe (that she made) every single day in 2008. Anyhow, one day I had a question about an ingredient from an older post/recipe and went to ask in the comment section. I starting reading through the comments and thought Jennifer was funny because she asked if she could skip the sauteing of the chicken before placing it in the crockpot. After all she said, she wanted to Crock, not Cook. I clicked on her profile and started reading.

At this point, I didn't have my own blog and no interest in getting one. AT ALL. I am boring, I don't have kids, and dinner at The Cheesecake Factory followed by a lap around Williams Sonoma while drinking a St@rbucks is exciting for me, which doesn't translate to exciting to the rest of the world. I kept checking Jennifers blog, and a few sites she was linked to. My interest started to peak, but again, I have nothing to offer.

Then one day, Jim suggested I post about my cooking and baking and the things I created at cake decorating class. So it began.

And it kind of sucked (sorry for using that word Grandma)

My aunt commented on the first two posts, I am sure totally out of guilt and family responsibility, but other than that, for a while NO.ONE.CAME. And if they did, I didn't know it. I was ready to throw in the towel. I counted on certain people reading and commenting and it was disappointing to feel like I was really just typing to type.

Then I went back and started reading some of Jennifers older posts. It turns out we share the same heartache of losing our mothers. Losing a parent is, while an unwelcome one, a bond that ties people together. I emailed her suggesting a book that I had read (and reread) about dealing with the pain and ongoing struggles losing a mother presents a woman. She responded right away and I felt a bond with her. She was a friend. Not a blogger buddy or someone whose blog I read, but a friend.

Jennifer, in my opinion has had more heartaches than seems fair, but the thing of it was - she was writing about them, pouring her heart and soul out to a world of people.
I started thinking maybe I could do more than just recipes and spice facts. I had a story too, and maybe someone out there wanted to read about it. The thing is, it's kind of risky out there. People can still judge you, and even more harshly because they don't have to do it "to your face" or even tie a name to who they are when they do. Still, I thought I could do it, I thought I wanted to do it, I just didn't know how.

So, while I was ready to branch out I was never sure where to start with making my blog a personal thing, and Kathy helped with that a ton! When she started writers workshop, it gave me an excuse, and a push to open up and start writing.

One of the first ones I did was tough for me. I was truly terrified to post it and I think I cried writing and reading it more than once. It was the first time I was "laying it all out there" Still, I posted, nervous and scared, and once again Jennifer swooped in and had this to say:

kind of alluded to a comment on this, but it really deserves one of its own. You should really be writing! I love when someone can reach down into themselves and pull something like this out!
I cried because of your mom going. I cried because of your dad trying so hard to fill both roles. Those are so close to home right now---and it feels so good to know that someone else has endured what I have. You are a special lady Carrie! And I wish you only good things!
Thank you for this.

It was an unexpected compliment from someone I had never even met. Someone who didn't have to say it because I expected it. It truly pushed me to keep opening up. Thank you Jennifer!
And btw, my aunt may have a bone to pick with because she says I have made her cry too many times reading the blog recently!

Blogging has been great for me and in the last year I have:
Cried, laughed, been inspired, and found a new way to express myself here
Laughed til I nearly peed and found direction and inspiration to write here
Saw the true meaning of Faith in God here (tissues required)
Cried for a woman who traveled, met, and cared for a baby she was due to adopt before having the birth mother change her mind here
Learned that Jim forgetting to take out the trash (five minutes after I ask him to do it) isn't worth nagging over and that I should remember how lucky I am to have him here (I would seriously grab a tissue before going to that one) and here
Laughed out loud (and recently got great hair advice) here
Admired the strength and bonds of family here
Wondered if I could do the same if I were in her shoes here

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Recipe of the week - Week 1

The first in a weekly segment, this weeks Recipe of the Week (ROTW) is

Easy Peasy (but no one has to know) Sticky Buns

Here is what you need

A Muffin Pan (12 compartments)
1 Can Refrigerator Biscuits (no need to get all fancy, the regular ol 10 in a tube ones are perfect)
1 Banana
1/4 C Dark Brown Sugar (Lt works also, but dark makes them ooey gooeyier)
1/4 C Chopped Pecans (optional)
1/2 stick (1/4 C) margarine or butter

There is no precise measuring here. I use about a teaspoon of brown sugar and pecans per muffin and there are 16 t in a 1/4 C. So, you really don't even need to get out those measuring cups.
Moving on

Preheat the oven to 350
Slice the banana thin (not paper thin, just thin) You will need twenty slices
Place about a teaspoon of brown sugar in 10 muffin compartments
Now place two slices of banana in each of those muffin compartments
Now place a pat of butter in each compartment. Again with the measuring, just get some butter in there. You can easily get 10 pats of butter from that 1/2 stick.
Add on about a teaspoon of pecans. People, I am scooping from the containers here. No method to this madness.
On top of the ingredients place one biscuit dough disc. Press lightly just to get it "set". You don't need to fill the compartment or worry about the dough touching the sides. Heck, if you are feeling crazy just plop the dough in there and go about your business.

Place in preheated oven and bake 8-10 until biscuits are a light golden brown
Invert muffin pan onto a cookie sheet. The buns will fall right out and the goo will ooze down the sides a little. Serve em up!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Christmas Finale

Christmas Eve Jim and I made gingerbread houses, ate Reuben's and fries and then watched Its a Wonderful Life. It was quiet and we had fun, but hearing the hustle and bustle going on at my Dads as I was "passed" from person to person made me a bit sad. It lasted only a moment though and then it was back to a nice evening with my love. Take a look at our master pieces:

Christmas Day brunch was lots of fun. We were joined by Chris and Johanna and Kev and Judy. I decorated the table with reds and silver and we of course had Holiday Crackers
We definitely missed our friends and family in Ohio, but made fun memories and enjoyed our quiet first Florida Christmas

Holiday CrackersHats from the Crackers. They also contained a toy. I got a plastic harmonica that went well with Chris' maraca.

Chris, Johanna, Me and Jim
Kev and Judy

I know, I know

Its way past Christmas, but I have to show off how my the last 9 days of my 12 days of Christmas went.
Day 4-6 Came with this package and I did take a picture of all the items unwrapped together, but it got flipped and I can not get it to turn to post. So, you will have to picture it:
A book with three short novels in it - all holiday themed
Hand sanitizer - I am a bit of a germ freak
Nivea lip balm - it's like heaven for your lips and brings my chapstick/lip gloss total to 1472

Days 7-9 packages, which included a treat for Jim (so sweet)

Day 7 "Socks for staying home in" AKA - soft fluffy socks that make your feet feel delightful. And, just what every LADY needs: A little holder for that item that you need to have, but don't care for the world to see. Too funny! : )

Day 8
Fun, cute pj's in this pattern

Day 9 - A GAP fleece pullover in pink (cute) and Jims present "The Super Dooper Reindeer Pooper." You can imagine where the brown jelly beans dispense from.
Day 10-12 along with a special Christmas gift

Day 10Day 11

Day 12
Thanks girls!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Diet Schmiet, and an introduction

Would you be starting any New Years diet if this were a breakfast option?

Homemade, still warm, yummy doughnuts! Jim and I made these this morning as a New Years treat. They are time consuming (rising time is a total of 90 minutes), they are not good for you (um, they are fried in oil), but they are so darn yummy.

I followed Altons recipe.
I will warn you that
1 They are time consuming
2 Alton is a big proponent of measuring certain ingredients by weight and I follow this method in my baking, so I don't know how the ounces of flour would convert

Knowing this, I tell you...GO GO GO make these.

I made my own coffee flavored glaze for the doughnuts, and must say it was delightful. If you want to give it a whirl, combine:
3-4 T brewed coffee (thank you Giovanni)
1 C confectioners sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract

Then add sprinkles if you are feeling crazy.

I went with sprinkles and a hazelnut latte (again, I shout out to Giovanni)

Who you ask is Giovanni? my pals Giovanni

Santa brought Giovanni to the Andersons and there was an immediate connection. He makes espresso, coffee, lattes, cappuccino and more with the press of a button. We have trained (read programmed) Gi-Gi (only I can call him that, he and Jim are still working out nicknames) so that we hit one button and get a pre-measured coffee at our desired strength. I like a mild 8 ounce coffee first thing in the morning, Jim goes for our own version of the Americano - two three ounce shots of extra strong coffee topped off with hot water. Gi-Gi does it all.

Here he is in action making my very first cappuccino from the machine:

And there is the finished product. Nice froth and foam, perfect strength. True love. I would say I love it a latte, but I am just not that dorky. Well, I am actually and I kind of said it.

I need to recap the 12 days of Christmas from my friends, give a year end recap, get back to Writers Workshop, talk about being anti-resolution and much more. I have been a bit of a slacker, but I'll be back on track now that everything is winding down.