Why I have two refrigerators
Christmas Menu

This week is family mania week. My all-time favorite Christmas movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s just so relateable!

“No one’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no! We’re all in this together! This is a full-blown four-alarm holiday emergency here! We’re going to press on, and we’re going to have the hap, hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f*ckin’’ Kaye! And when Santa squeezes his fat white a** down that chimney tonight, he’s going to find the jolliest bunch of a**holes this side of the nut house.”

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What New Year’s Resolution?
The Classics: Lasagna and Chili

Who’s idea was it to clean up my language and when exactly do I have to start? So yesterday was Little K’s daycare Christmas Show. Little K’s class sang “I’m a little snowman” to the tune of “I’m a little teapot” and I missed the whole friggin’ thing. E caught it on video and there really wasn’t much to see anyhow, but I can’t tell you how irritating it was to leave early, battle traffic, to walk in to the conclusion of the whole deal. Yep, plenty of expletives – LOUD ones too – were launched in my car last night. Honestly people – the roads weren’t that bad. Why were we driving 30 miles under the speed limit two hours before rush hour? Infuriating. Luckily I watched this a half a dozen times now and I’m a lot calmer.

Little K is the one being held for most of the video by the lovely Miss Cassie. The whole thing just cracks me up. The kids have no idea what’s going on, only about two of them even attempt at doing the hand gestures, and Little K spends the whole song transfixed on the crowd. Exactly what I would expect from a group of one-year-olds, and exactly 325x more adorable than expected.

After the week I’ve had, I’m feeling pretty Grinchy today – though I still have bouts of random Christmas Spirit/dementia thrown in for good measure – so I’m especially looking forward to my weekend of Christmas baking, shopping, and parade watching. I have absolutely no concrete plans written in my planner this weekend and it’s the best thing for me. The past week has been booked, busy, and bothersome (oh, alliteration. You are my friend.). Last weekend we had several house guests, here are the reviews on the recipes served.

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I’m a little Snowman
Favorite Christmas Recipes

Happy Christmas, everyone! I love this time of year, especially if there’s snow, and I find myself getting ridiculously giddy at random times throughout the day. I believe the symptoms of being in the Christmas spirit are often confused with early warning signs of dementia. Or vice versa. In conclusion, I either have Christmas spirit or dementia. Lets enjoy it! [*random excited giggling*] Tonight is Little K’s Christmas Concert. (Yeah, I was shocked that one-year-olds have Christmas concerts too.) And he’s singing “I’m a Little Snowman” to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.” I’m sure it will be hilarious to watch the teachers try to wrangle the 10 kids on stage. Can’t wait!! I’ll grab a photo of the chaos for ya.

Part of this season is thinking about year-end resolutions. I generally don’t really participate in that tradition – making promises that I often don’t keep or should have vowed to do regardless of the season – but this year I think I’ll partake. I know it’s a little early to make the New Year’s Resolution Declaration, but who the hell cares?

  1. Resolution One:I really do want to write on this blog more often. I use new recipes from cookbooks or blogs nearly everyday, so content isn’t the issue. The issue is the same as it is for 99% of the other negligent bloggers out there: time and interest. As a mom with a full-time job, a kiddo, and a long-arse commute, I don’t have much free time. As a blog still in its infancy, my readership and comment count are both painfully low.Those two items conspire to keep me from blogging. It’s as simple as that. Taking the two minutes to pull photos off my phone/camera or sit down with a computer after we finally put Little K to bed just doesn’t often seem worth it when it feels as though there are a whopping three readers (and two of them share a surname with me.) So, I’m going to make some changes in an attempt to make it easier on myself. Less ratings and less photos. I’m primarily reviewing recipes that come from blogs with photos galore (and stellar ones at that). I don’t need to add my sh*tty smart phone pics to the mix. If there is something interesting or misrepresented (like their finished product looks straight out of a magazine and despite my best efforts mine looks like spam) I’ll show ya, but otherwise lets just skip it, eh? And the rating system was grueling and at the end I don’t know that it really told you whether it was a recipe  worth trying or not. So now, we’ll do an easy overall review (essentially a pass/fail grading system) so you can see whether I say try it or not. Again, if I want to call your attention to something really interesting (like a wonderful recipe with every dish in the house dirty, or a fancy-pants recipe that cost next to nothing) I’ll call up a rating for that area in particular.
  2. Resolution Two: I need a bar of soap to chew. I think this comes from spending too much time yelling at other commuters and listening to angry radio, but I say a lot of expletives. Not necessarily George Carlin’s Seven Dirty words or anything, but enough that I don’t want Little K picking it up. So, much to my chagrin, I’m going to try to class up my vocab. You won’t notice a difference since I generally only use those words on the fly – not in my marginally thought-out written words here.

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Let Me Show You Around
Meet our new house

I’ve finally taken the 10 minutes it actually takes to get some pictures of the house, and I’m ready to show you. We’ve been busy on home projects, tough work schedules, a bossy baby, and hosting and visiting family.

In the few weeks since my last update we had happy days and sad days – many more happy than sad. However, we did say goodbye to our dog Beaker. As a dachshund, he was born to have back problems, but Beaks had it especially rough. His prior owner was abusive and lead to some major back damage that meant he couldn’t control his back legs well – and sometimes his bladder. Once we moved into this much bigger house, things only got worse. It was clear it was time to put him to sleep. It was a sad day, but the right decision. Here’s to you, Beaks. We miss you.

Fortunately though, we had plenty to celebrate around here too. My sister-in-law got married and the entire family was in the wedding.

Good looking crew, eh?

Little K was a stinky skunk for Halloween.

IMG_6788And Little K finally started walking!

He’s much more stable after a couple of weeks of practice, but he’s not without a few extra tumbles these days!

So anyhow, we’ve been busy. I’m hoping the hibernating phase of winter starts soon! In the meantime, let me show you around our new place:

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Catching Up
I own an island now

In the last several months I turned 30,

Little K turned one,

my sister Rachel moved to Arkansas,

my sister Michelle started sophomore year of college,

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and E and I bought an island. A kitchen one.

I’ve always wanted a kitchen island, but when we first found this house I just wasn’t sure it was all I hoped for in a kitchen. I don’t love the orange wood cabinets with the golden wood floors with the teeny snippet of slate tiles under the cabinets with the really dark maroon walls. Somehow it just didn’t feel “right” when I was standing in it. I knew that it had the makings of a great kitchen and we were sold on all the other parts of the house. So saying yes to purchasing this home was a no-brainer. Still, now that we’re here and unpacked, I’ve gotten a chance to make this kitchen mine. And guess what? I love it. I still don’t love all the orange-ness (though it’s not quite as extreme as this picture), the slate tile with bisque colored outlets every foot, or the heavy maroon walls. But that’s all the styling of the home and I can work on that – very slowly, no races here! – over the next many years we’re in this house.

I’ve not yet had the time to take any pictures myself, so all of this furniture is from the last owner. We’ll do a tour in photos very soon though!

What I do love is the openness of this room adjoining the eat-in kitchen table, the deck, and the upstairs living room. When we have company over it’s so much easier to entertain without forcing everyone to sit at the kitchen table for hours on end.

I love the amount of cabinet space. Yes, I doubted the ample amount of space that this kitchen has. I know, I’m certifiable. Somehow I thought our last kitchen had more cabinet space, probably because it seemed like it had a larger footprint. Reality though is that this kitchen has more counter space and storage, thanks to that beautiful island and the huge pantry storage with slide out drawers.

And lastly, I love how at-hand everything is in this kitchen. I know a lot of that has to do with my mom and all the fabulous organizing and unpacking she did in my kitchen. But even still, the amount of space means I’m not fighting with ten other dishes when I’m trying to get something out of a cabinet, all of the appliances are well spaced so people aren’t on top of each other if they’re working in the kitchen together, and the appliances themselves are really new with awesome functionality.

I’ve had a moment or two where I miss something about our first home. It was the home E and I lived in before we were even married, where we brought both dogs and Little K home to, where we found sanctuary after long days and tough times. We left some of ourselves in the landscaping and decorating, and it was hard to walk away from that. Even so, the time it took for me to feel home here surprised me. We’ll always look back fondly on our first home, but we’re even more excited to look forward at all that comes with our second home.  

PS: I’ll do my best to post a little more often than once a season around here. My next to do: a walking tour of the house in pictures.

 

Fake it ’til you make it
S’mores Brownies

skipaheadYou know what I hate about bonfires? Smoke. I hate that my hair and clothes and coat all reek of smoke until someone hoses me down with a fire hose and some febreeze. And face it, if you’re having a bonfire, you’re probably going to be out there until the wee hours of the night and who wants to take a febreeze shower after that?

Other than that, I love bonfires. I love the community that always happens when a bunch of people hang around a bonfire. I love feeding the fire and watching the flames grow, shrink back, and finally become nothing more than a white-hot ember. And I love the food. Roasted marshmallows, burnt black hot dogs, and of course – S’MORES!

But, heck, who has time to sit around a bonfire on a Tuesday night? Well don’t worry, Bakerella and I have you covered with some fake out s’mores you can make in your oven. And then, watch, the people will flock to the table and that same sense of community will grow. And all without your hair smelling like smoke (well hopefully…).


S’mores Brownies

Overall: four-star

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These brownies were really yummy and fairly easy to make. I didn’t love what happened with the graham crackers after they baked. They kinda just melted away into the brownies and I couldn’t even taste them. However, these brownies seemed to get better and better as they aged. Gooey chocolate and soft marshmallows. (Recipe here, from Bakerella.)

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It’s Na-chyo Birthday
Ginger Rhubarb Compote

skipaheadSo is this post about nachos or ginger rhubarb compote? Well both.

Yesterday was E’s 30th birthday. Old man. (Give me a month, I’ll catch up.) For his birthday he asked for one thing: the best nachos in town. He always does this, folks. Asks for the moon and then expects me to deliver. I mean, who is he to ask for nachos in Minnesota. That’s like asking for cheese in Wisconsin or seafood on the coast. Oh, Wait.

So I found lots of places with the “Best Nachos in Town.” But after a lot of Yelp reviews and some foodie reviews online I found the golden ticket: Salsa A La Salsa. Ooo, yum. The chips were made fresh and they topped them with refried beans, guac, sour cream, taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo. I know, it sounds pretty standard, but I’m confident it was the fresh chips that made them so delectable.

After a lunch of junk food and an afternoon of sweets (courtesy of his many awesome co-workers), E was craving a salad and feeling a bit like Elaine in this episode:

So I scrapped my plans for cake and instead made E something with rhubarb. You really can’t go wrong, in E’s eyes, when you cook with rhubarb. We had this rhubarb compote (I’m calling it Rhubarb Butter at my house though) on bread, but it would be amazing with some creamy cheese or on a cracker. Or even over ice cream!


Ginger Rhubarb Compote

Overall: five-star

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This was so incredibly easy to make, I felt ashamed telling E. Hey, honey, here’s how much effort I put into your birthday dessert: 10 minutes. It tastes pretty good too. If you don’t like rhubarb, obviously this won’t be for you, but the ginger and cinnamon take the edge off the sour rhubarb.  (Recipe here.)

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Echo, echo, echo: The Best of May

May was another speedy month, but an exciting one! We made the decision to sell our house in search of one with a little more space for the someday-brothers/sisters of Little K, plus we want a little more room for entertaining and hosting overnight guests. We spent almost all of May putting furniture in storage, painting, cleaning, peeling wall paper… The house is officially done now though, and officially on the market! We’re getting lots of showings (and so far Little K is handling his displaced after-daycare time well!) and E and I are crossing our fingers that this is a quick process! Well, not too quick. We have to figure out where we’re going to move!

You didn’t hear as much from me during May as you normally do, and if I’m being honest, things probably won’t get loads better for June. Here are the little “projects” on my to do list:

  1. Help get things at work back to normal and fully staffed.
  2. Sell our house.
  3. Find a place to live.

You can count on a couple best of moments though. And, although May was so quiet around here I could hear an echo, I did have fun. Here, let me prove it to you.

Best of the best: This has to be the garlic press giveaway I did for the Garlic Bread post. The recipe was easy and quick and the garlic choppers rock my socks, man. I love ‘em! (Hope the three winners do too!)

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Enjoying the bubble
Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

skipaheadLittle K has hit another milestone in life. I stopped hauling his carseat everywhere. He now sits all by himself in the front of the shopping cart eyeballing all the shoppers around him and straining to reach whatever is close enough for him to yank off the shelf. I have so much fun shopping with him, I barely notice what’s going on around me and I sit and chat with him even though he’s not quite able to chat back. “Where do you think they hide the mayo, kid?” “Do you want turkey and rice or chicken and apples?”

When I went into Target the other day though, I noticed a mom putting a baby seat into the shopping cart. I peered into the carseat and saw a very new, very sweet little girl. Her momma was inspecting and reinspecting the way the carseat latched and then, when all looked well, she pushed the cart off into the produce area, all the while in her own little bubble. She was beaming (both momma and baby) and each only had eyes for the other.

It made me feel very nostalgic for a time that was only a season ago. I can remember the first time E and I took Little K to the store and how many people remarked about how tiny he was. I’m sure we had that bubble around us too. Walking in a daze, bumping into endcaps, grinning like a fool. It’s funny how the everyday, mundane tasks – like grocery shopping – can become such special little moments between momma and baby. In the not-to-far future, Little K will want to walk on his own and I’ll miss the squirming, grabby, handle-sucking baby in the front of my cart. Until then, I’m happy to enjoy the bubble.


Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

Overall: five-star

When I met E he had really tall hair. Like no one ever told him to trim his frizzy hair shorter than 3 inches and use pomade. It wasn’t the best look for him, but luckily I looked past that and looked at what counted. That’s what you need to do here. Look past the uglier than 3-inch tall hair, to the amazing, fresh, yummy flavor. (Recipe here, from Bean By Bean: A Cookbook.)

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