Friday, September 25, 2009

My Lot in Life

When I was in high school, I was in a gym class with a foreign exchange student from Sweden. I still remember her telling me in a thick Swedish accent that I looked like a chicken. When I pressed her, she told me that basically, I have a big body and skinny legs, just like a chicken. I was flattered. No really.

And such has been my lot in life. I tend to put on weight on the top half of my body. My pear-shaped friends think I'm lucky. They don't want to hear me complain about putting on weight in my chest. But believe me--it doesn't look good. Along with it comes a big face, lunch lady arms and no waist. When I get pregnant I look like a linebacker (or free-safety as Sam likes to say.)

So naturally, shopping for shirts is not easy for me. I could buy jeans every day of my life and have no problem. But I have very specific rules for shirts, especially short-sleeved shirts.

First and foremost, the shirt must not be 100% cotton. 100% cotton is of the devil and will completely stretch out and look like a faded tent in a matter of weeks. I went shopping with Ashley last weekend when she was in town and she forbade me to even try on a shirt that was 100% cotton. She believes in this rule even more than I do. As a side note, Ashley suffers from the same "chicken issue" and we laughed our guts out in the dressing room telling each other the rules and talking each other into buying shirts.

I do think Ashley is mad at me for talking her into buying a certain blue and white striped little number that Jennifer Anniston happened to be wearing in Love Happens later that evening (this is not Ashley):

Second, the shirt must not have short cap sleeves that are fitted. I am very specific on this one because I have found that I can wear short sleeves but they must either poof or be flowy. This is to camouflage my fatty upper arms. I do prefer an elbow length sleeve though.

Third, and finally, they must not cling to my jiggly little post-baby belly. This one is imperative.

So, these are the three shirts I picked up (as a side note, I think self-portraits are so awkward--do you smile? Do you not smile? Whatever--I picked the first because I loved Ryan in the background!):

The first two are from Ann Taylor Loft and the third is from Macy's. I paid good money for the ones from the Loft but I know I will wear them a ton and it takes me so long to find a decent shirt that when I find one, I buy it.

So, where do you all find good shirts? Do you agree with my rules? If you have skinny arms and a flat stomach, don't even bother to comment.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gourmet Dinner Night Recipes--Mexican

As I was trolling the internet looking for recipes for my gourmet dinner night, I found a blog called My Kitchen Cafe. This blog was easy to read and everything I made from there was delicious. I got my taquitos, cilantro lime rice and cornbread/honeybutter from this site. I hate websites like because you never know if stuff is really good. I prefer knowing that the author of the blog has tried everything and liked it enough to put it on her blog.

Here is what I made:

7 Layer Mex-Tex Dip
from my mom

1 can refried beans
1 can frito lay bean dip
2 medium very ripe avocados
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 to 1 full package taco seasonin
3 tomatoes cored and chopped
1 can chopped pitted black olives
1 small can green chilis
grated Monterey Jack cheese

First Layer: Mix refried beans and bean dip together and spread over bottom of pan
Second Layer: Peel and pit avocados and mash with fork. Add salt and pepper to taste
Third Layer: Mix together mayo, sour cream and taco seasoning
Fourth Layer: chopped olives
Fifth Layer: chopped tomatoes
Sixth Layer: green chilis
Seventh Layer: cover with cheese

Refridgerate. Serve with tortilla chips.

Kiwi-Lime Slush

2 cans lime-ade concentrate
1 cup sugar
1 (15 oz.) can crushed pineapple
4 kiwi, peeled and smashed
2 Liters 7-up

Reconstitute the 2 cans of limeade concentrate with 1 cup of sugar, then add enough water to make two quarts. In a blender mix the limeade and crushed pineapple. Add kiwi, Put in Ziploc gallon bag and freeze for several days. Just before serving combine frozen mixture with 2 liter bottle of 7-Up until slushy.

I know this didn't go with the Mexican theme but it's always a hit so I had to serve it.

Baked Chicken Taquitos
makes 14-16

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used light cream cheese)
1/4 cup green salsa
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 green onion, sliced finely (white and green parts to equal about 2 tablespoons)--I left this out
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I cook large batches of chicken in my crockpot with a little chicken broth and salt, shred it and freeze it for meals like this.)
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese (use pepperjack for a litte heat)

small yellow or white corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat overn to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix softened cream cheese, green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

You can prepare this step ahead of time and keep the mixture in the fridge.

Working with a few tortillas at a time, place 3-4 between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds, until tortillas are soft and pliable and don't crack when rolling. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture on the lower third of a soft tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Then roll it up tight as you can.

Place filled taquitos seam side down on the baking sheet, making sure they don't touch each other. When ready to bake, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and lightly sprinkle some kosher (coarse) salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. Serve immediately. Taquitos can be dipped in salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Cilantro Lime Rice

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups rice
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice and zest of 1 large lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon cumin

In a skillet, melt butter and add rice. Let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 18-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

from Cafe Rio
Why mess with perfection?


1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup milk

Add dry ingredients, make a well and add oil, butter, eggs and milk into the center. Stir until just mixed (batter will be runny--don't be alarmed!) Bake in an 8" square pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. This doubles perfectly for a 9x13 inch pan.

Honey Butter

2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff

Whip all together with an electric mixer and serve at room temperature (can be refrigerated and softened.)

Brandi's Chocolate Bundt Cake
from my friend Brandi

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup oil
1 small carton sour cream
1 package chocolate chips

Combine ingredients. Pour into bundt cake pan. Bake 350 for 1 hour.
Sprinkle powder sugar on top.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gourmet Dinner Night: Fiesta!

It's over! My gourmet dinner night came and went and I think it was a success. In my last post, many of you suggested we just go out to eat once a month and save ourselves the trouble. While I think that is a brilliant idea, and I eat out often, I do love the idea of learning to cook and entertain in my own home.

Just as the formal dining room is going the way of the dodo, formal dinners are kind of dying off. My mom is a great cook, as were my grandmothers, and I just don't ever cook unless I have to do it for something like this. So I'm glad I got the opportunity but I'm also very glad it's over. Plus, I love going to the other girls' homes and enjoying their food.

Here is what I have learned from my past four years of hosting dinner group:

1. Use the opportunity to buy new serving pieces/kitchen stuff. I got new red plates for Christmas knowing I would use them for dinner group. I also bought these bowl at Taipan imports especially for the occasion:

2. You will be pinched for time. Cook first, clean later. If you run out of time, people won't care that your floor isn't mopped (I hope!) and they'll appreciate that you had decent food. Once again, I had to employ this method of floor cleaning:

3. Try to farm out your kids while you are getting ready to avoid becoming Bobby. Thanks so much Sarah for watching the rugs.

4. If the kids are around, put them to work:

Never mind, just get rid of them.

5. Set the table cute and hope it makes up for where your food is lacking. I copied the centerpieces from another blog.

6. Get outside help when you need it but be sure to hide the evidence.

7. Serve a lot of food so if something bombs, there are still some good items people remember.

8. Sit back and enjoy watching your friends enjoy the meal.

9. Hope that your friend Jaime brings her darling 5 week old baby girl. Get your "baby fix."

10. Put the husband to work taking pictures and doing dishes. After he deals with the aftermath, he won't want you to ever cook again.

I'll post my recipes and favorite food blog tomorrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm No Julia

This Monday I am hosting Gourmet Dinner Night at my house. What's that? you ask. Well, once a month 8 of my high school friends and I get together at someone's house for dinner. The hostess makes a gourmet dinner for everyone and posts the recipes on our website Cookbook Junkies. The website doesn't have all of our recipes because in the past, we used to just print out recipes for everyone.

We've been doing gourmet dinner night for about four years and this is my fourth time hosting. Anyone who knows me knows I love to eat but I hate to cook. I've already made an Easter Chicken Cordon Bleu dinner, a nautical Salmon dinner and a catastrophic Beef Stroganoff dinner (where I forgot to make the noodles!) along with every salad, side dish and vegetable I know how to make. I have been dying over what to make this time since I've pretty much given 'em all I got. I considered dropping out of the group. I seriously don't have another thing in my repertoire that is considered fancy. We don't do a lot of fancy around here. In fact, when the group comes to my house, I insist we call it simply Dinner Night instead of Gourmet Dinner Night.

Amy (Vranes), Jill, Liz, Lisa, me, Natalie (Darla), Jaime, Andrea and Nicole

The worst part is, we have some very very good cooks in the group--people who don't consider grilled cheese sandwiches a major effort. Luckily, they are all my friends and we spend more time laughing and talking than worrying about the food. In fact, husbands have been known to hang around corners or help with dishes just to hear the girl talk.

So in preparation for Monday, I have been searching food blogs and cooking every night this week in order to find something decent to serve. Sam actually hates it when I cook because I make the biggest mess. It is thunder dome in the kitchen when I'm done. Here is a real-life photo from Tuesday night. Scary huh?

Now can you see why I'm terrified to try to cook and entertain at the same time. I'm going with a Mexican theme because who doesn't love Mexican food? I found an awesome food blog that I will share with you after Monday. Wish me luck. The good news is my guests are my friends and we will still have a good time even if the food bombs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The World Has One Less Hottie Today

I was saddened to hear that Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer. He is one of my favorite actors and a certifiable hunk.

When I was about 11, I slept over at my cousin Amy's house. We snuck over to her friend's house and watched "Dirty Dancing." It was amazing and awesome and I fell head over heels in love with Johnnie. I've probably seen the movie 20 times. "I carried a watermelon!" Such a good flick. And let's not forget that Patrick sang "She's like the wind" on the soundtrack. Still one of my favorite songs.

And then there was "Ghost." The relationship between Sam and Molly, the pottery wheel, the music..holy crap that was a good show.

Patrick Swayze was a class act. He had a wonderful 35 year relationship with his wife--unheard of by Hollywood standards. The world will miss his great acting and pecs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Top 10 Signs the Husband is Out of Town

Sam is in beautiful Oklahoma City at a Federal Bar Association Conference. By the time you all read this, he'll be back--so you crazy raper/murderer types--don't get any ideas.

10. I stay up really late. I don't know what the correlation is with Sam being gone, but there definitely is one.

9. My diet coke consumption goes way up. Notice the three fountain diet cokes in the fridge that I nurse on all day:

8. A fire alarm in my home has been beeping every 30 seconds or so. It's enough to drive a woman mad. But it's really high and I can't even reach it on our highest ladder. It started beeping the night he left.

7. I actually sit down and watch tv. On Wednesday evening, I thoroughly enjoyed both of these shows:

I'm not usually a big tv watcher so this was a big deal for me. I want to be Cat Deeley in my next life.

6. My bed looks like this every morning:

I am not a sleep in the middle of the bed, go crazy with the covers type. I sleep in my spot and never move.

5. The house is remarkably clean. I don't know what this says about who the source of the mess really is. I always mistakenly thought it was our children.

4. Purchases are made with no guilt.

3. I have to haul all three of my kids to the mall to do a return at the Gap. Usually I can go after they are in bed but with Sam gone, if I'm gonna go, they have to go too. This picture says it all about the experience:

We ate girl food at Nordstrom Cafe. Oh Crab Bisque--how you speak to me.

2. I feel all warm and fuzzy toward Sam. I took a wander through Victoria Secret but the feeling was short lived. The kids immediately did this:

1. I call him at least 12 times a day out of complete boredom and beg him to entertain me over the phone. That sounded bad. I just beg him to tell me what he is eating, doing, etc. Turns out, at the conference there is a drawing with some pretty big prizes. Sam won airfare for me to join him at his next conference in New Orleans next year. So maybe having him gone was worth it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Criminals are Stupid and Target Owes Me a Solid

A few days ago, as I was leaving Target with my three kids, I saw a girl hustling out of the store pushing a grocery cart with a large Vizio flat screen tv in it. She was in a huge hurry and what caught my eye was that her pants were hanging down as she ran and I could see at least two inches of crack. It wasn't pretty.

As I got outside it dawned on me that she was ripping off the tv. A white truck was parked at the curb with two gnarly looking guys sitting in the cab. One nasty looking 40-something guy was waiting to help her heave it into the back of the truck. I immediately dug through my purse to find a pen and scrap paper to get the license plate. I was able to get it and I even wrote down a description of the truck with the make and model. As they tore out of there, I thought, "I can't believe what people think they are going to get away with."

I went back into the store and told the girl working in electronics what I just saw. She said, "I didn't sell a tv." And I replied, "Well, one just left your store." I gave her my information and the license plate number and left with my kids.

This is where things get embarrassing for me. I was contacted by a Sandy City police officer. I knew he was going to ask for a description of the girl. I told him she was Mexican, with long hair, early 20s, heavy, skanky looking, showing a lot of crack. That was my complete and extremely helpful description.

He next asked for a description of the guys outside. Once again, I tried not to use words like gnarly and "scary Larry" but I admitted to him I was so busy looking at the truck and getting the license plate I just noticed they were all hessian looking (A term of art in our family for trashy) but that I couldn't pick any of them out of a line-up.

A few days later, he did, in fact, come to my home and asked me to pick the female perpetrator out of a photo line-up.

The line-up looked something like this only with women:

I couldn't pick her face with certainty so I decided it would be better for the case to not pick any of them. (However, if he had brought me a photo line-up of each of their behinds instead of their faces, I probably could have picked the correct one.)

The target employee was able to correctly identify the girl so I don't think my inability to pick her out of the line-up was fatal to the case. Turns out she had done this exact same thing a few days earlier at a different store and got arrested for it. This whole experience just reminded me of something I already knew about criminals--they're stupid and most of the time, ugly.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Need a Life Coach

Any takers? My sister Ashley is my usual sounding board but I think I'm wearing her out. She is really good at giving sage advice. And she isn't afraid to tell me the honest truth about things. She lives in California and we talk nearly every day. There have been times when she has said, "If I was there, I would grab you by the shoulders and shake some sense into you" or something like that. Sometimes I need someone to do it.

Sam is good for it too. Sometimes I get so wrapped around the axle about stuff like the cabinets or a family issue, that I just need a calming voice of reason, a life coach. Sam is always reminding me that I'm 32 because sometimes my behavior would lead you to believe I'm 13, or when I'm really bad, 3.

I finally had to back off of the cabinets for a little while. They were consuming me. Guess what? I could do the cabinets but it would bug me that it still didn't look quite right. We don't have the money to do it anyway so that makes the decision really easy. And we don't know if we are moving, or staying or what, so now is not the time to dive into a massive home-improvement project. I realized that I'm restless. I get bored and I pick something like my cabinets to focus all of my energy on. I know I just ended that sentence with a preposition.

But I still need a life coach.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

If I Had the Means...

Thank you for all the kind words about my house. I do love it. But we all have things we would like to change. I have nice oak cabinets. I've always thought they were too new for me to chance ruining with paint. But my friend Sarah just had a lady named Telisa come re-do her cabinets. This is her new kitchen:

Gorgeous right? Telisa painted and distressed her cabinets, added bead board and posts to her island, and new hardware. Wanna know the best part? Sarah's husband had it done for her as a surprise while they were at Disneyland!

Telisa came to my house today to give me a bid on my cabinets. Gulp. It's a lot of money. The good news is, we can do the some of the work ourselves like sanding and priming and save a lot of money. And by ourselves, I mean Sam. Here is my kitchen now:

Just to give you some perspective, here is my family room area.

I really want to paint my cabinets antique white and do the black bead board island. I need your advice. Since I have white appliances and a really sweet white tile floor (don't ever put white on a floor!) Is it going to be too much white with antique white cabinets? Is the black island going to look good with the rest of my colors or should I go with a cool green on the island?

Telisa also suggested painting the mantel black to coordinate with the island. She also thought it would be good if we painted the kitchen a little darker shade of tan. I explained to her that we have no stopping point and I'd have to paint my entire main floor. Which, I can pretty much guarantee that Sam would leave me if I asked him to do that.

She also suggested a back splash to break up the white. So I'd have to probably do that too. Then I have this bad boy to contend with:

Basically there is no end to the painting and oak eliminating process. Do I throw up my hands and do nothing? Do I just do white bead board on the island?

Advice? I would love to do this, but it would be a lot easier if I already had stainless steel and dark floors to break up the white. Is it better to do nothing. Do I just spend the money on plastic surgery instead?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Love My House

I know I said I was going to post about my kitchen today. But I really don't want to and I'm not sure exactly why. If you ask Sam, he will tell you we are doing nothing with the kitchen. I would say we are considering painting the cabinets, new appliances, etc. etc. And therein lies the rub.

But that is not exactly why I'm not posting about it. I could always show you my dream kitchen, or my friend Sarah's new gorgeous kitchen, or even talk about whether or not painting the cabs is going to help resale down the road. But all of those topics would suggest that I don't love my house and I do. Because loving your house is not about having the most beautiful cabinets, or the perfect floor plan or even a sweet yard with shade. We have none of that. But we do have the greatest neighbors and friends and our home is comfortable and happy.

I really believe that choosing a house is a decision to be made with your heart and your gut and not your head. When we bought this house, I knew it was the right one for us. Just like I knew Sam was the man for me. And it wasn't a business decision and I can't give you any reason why other than it felt right.

And just like I have favorite things about Sam, I have favorite areas of my home (and favorite pieces in my home.) I'm keeping it real, so I didn't even clean up before I took the pictures.


I love this wall of pictures. I copied my friend Joy (who also gave me a bunch of these frames.) I love how the kids stare at the pictures and I love that Sam hung them all for me as I stood back and eyeballed it and yelled commands at him.


I love this hutch. Sam surprised me with it for Christmas when Luke was a baby. I love decorating it for different holidays.


I love these pictures of the kids. Luke is about 2 1/2 in his picture and Sammie is 18 months in her picture:


I love this storage room. This is where things get ugly. Yes, it's a huge mess. That's how we roll people. Sam built these shelves with his bare hands. See over there on the bottom left--that tub from Costco is my food storage. Bring on the big one, I'm good to go.


I love this big chair and pillow. The chair is big enough for two adults or me and all three of my kids to snuggle. When we bought our family room furniture. I picked out the material and trim for this pillow. Then the lady told me how much it was going to be and it was some ridiculous amount. So we decided not to get it. When the furniture was delivered--guess what was with the chair? It may be the nicest thing Sam's ever done for me.


Our basement. It has a ton of toys and it's always a mess and I can send my kids and their friends down there (the wii is there too!) and not see them for hours. Sam and his dad finished our basement and it's my favorite area of the house.

Finally: This little girl. (And all three of my kids--they make my house messy and loud and happy and fun.) Sammie is not only her father's namesake--she looks just like him. She adds sparkle to my life and keeps me company all day long.

This may have been my cheesiest post ever. Forgive me. I needed to be grateful today.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Angry Rant

This is why I no longer prosecute--it just makes me too angry. Allegedly, a 61-yr-old man slapped a woman's toddler in a Walmart in Stone Mountain, GA, after he told her "If you don't shut that baby up, I will shut her up for you." He is now being charged with felony cruelty to children.

Roger Stephens--soon to be behind bars. Smooth move, Ex-lax.
If this occurred anywhere else other than Walmart, I wouldn't believe it. I don't mean to rip on my beloved Walmart (the husband is there right now picking up some hangers.) But the fact that a person was trampled to death on Black Friday in a Walmart in upstate New York proves my point. Walmart brings out the worst in people. But they still have the best prices.

All I can say is if this had happened to me and my kid, there is no question in my mind that I would have jumped on this man's back and beaten the living crap out of him or died trying. I'm livid just reading about it. I hope every person in his town is as mad as I am. He'd better watch his six.
ps. I promise a lighter post tomorrow. We'll talk kitchens--But I have to clean mine to take a picture. Rats.