Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I am a Terrible Person...

And a horrible mother.

Confession: I hate Halloween. At least this year I do. 

I don't recall quite the loathing of Halloween that I'm experiencing this year, compared to years past. I'm not sure that I've ever really enjoyed Halloween...maybe when I had one wee little child to spend all day dressing up and getting all cute and excited to reach sugar highs of epic proportions, but I think, as I've added more children to my "need to get ready" list and more costumes to dream up/buy/plan, that Halloween has become, well, a burden.

Somewhere along the way, it lost it's luster. It went from being a sparkly, glittery party day to a cobwebby, dark, musty smelling event that I trudge through and put up with for my kids.

Know how many Halloween decorations I have out?

0

Yes, big, fat Z-E-R-O.

Sure, life has been a special kind of crazy these last few months, so I s'pose I could blame it on that, too.

In any event, I just settled 4 tired, sugar-high-crashing kids into bed with far less patience than they deserved.

I need a serious attitude adjustment.

Someone, shape me up...fast!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In the Kitchen with Gram...Beef Stew!

This? It's one of my favorites! It's also a recipe that I've been able to replicate with success for my family...which leaves me feeling totally accomplished and a little bit hopeful that someday I might be half as good a cook as my Gram!

Beef Stew...the very definition of "comfort food".


First off...as with anything delicious, start with a hearty glob of Crisco...add in a glob of butter, which I didn't take a picture of but TRUST ME, we did it.


When your oil/butter is nice and hot, toss in a single layer of beef and brown. Make sure not to crowd the pot, as Gram says, "You want to BROWN your beef, not cook it."...listen to her. She knows what she's doin'.


With each "batch" of meat you put in the pot to brown, put a good layer of salt...


And pepper onto  the raw meat. Just sprinkle on enough salt and pepper so that each piece of meat is covered...nothing precise about it! We'll teach you to be a "dump and pour" cook yet!


Look at the gorgeous (and by "gorgeous" I mean "delicious") color! Meat browning, getting lots of tasty bits on the bottom of the pot for flavor later!


When all of the meat is browned, add in just enough water to barely cover the meat, making sure to scrape all those tasty bits from the bottom of the pot!



Now, get some carrots. Giant "carrots on steroids"...those suckers were LONG!


Peel and chop 'em up!


Next up, potatoes, peeled and cubed...(be aware, we put the carrots and potatoes in water because we did them a bit ahead of time and wanted to keep them fresh...this is not a required step if you're not prepping in advance!)


After simmering the beef for a couple of hours, add in carrots and then potatoes. Allowing broth to return to a boil and carrots to cook for a bit before adding potatoes.


Bring broth back to a boil after adding potatoes, allow to cook until potatoes are fork (or knife) tender.



This is when you get to rely on your senses. Taste the broth...if it needs to be "beefier", mix up some bouillon granules (this is what Gram swears by, nothin' but Wyler's granules) with water and add it to the broth.


This also adds a bit of saltiness, so make sure to taste it again and see if it needs more salt AFTER adding the bouillon.

 When your broth tastes like heaven in big ol' Dutch Oven, make yourself a flour and water slurry. Start with 1/4 cup flour, whisk while slowly adding water until you've got a consistency of...hmmm...heavy cream? Maybe a smidge thicker? And make sure to whisk out all the lumps!


Then, try to find a little "hole" in the stew and slowly drizzle in your slurry, stirring the whole time, until desired thickness. Keep in mind your little "hole" will be thicker than the rest of the pot until you mix it all together.

If, after mixing, you discover you want it thicker, just drizzle in more of the slurry until you are happy with your gravy thickness!


And, voila...beef stew. Like a hug in a bowl.



Gram's Beef Stew
Printable Recipe


3 lbs beef stew meat
2 lbs carrots-peeled and cut into 1" pieces
3 med-lg onions-coarse chopped
4 lbs potatoes-peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1/4 c Crisco
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c flour and enough water to make "slurry" (consistency of thick cream)
Wyler's Beef Bouillon granules to taste

Heat Crisco and butter until hot, add single layer of beef in bottom of pot, season well with salt and pepper, brown, remove from pot to make room for the next batch of meat. Repeat until all meat is browned, being careful not to crowd bottom of pot...and make sure to season each "batch" of meat! Add a bit of the onion in with the last batch of beef. Return all meat and juices to pot, cover with water until beef is just barely covered, simmer for 2-3 hours. After 1 hour of cooking, add in rest of onion. After 2 hours, add in carrots, return to boil and simmer for 15 minutes, then add in potatoes and bring back to boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Taste broth and decide if bouillon granules are needed and/or more salt and pepper. Mix together slurry ingredients (flour and water) and slowly drizzle into broth until desired thickness.

Serve immediately with some tasty bread and enjoy!


Monday, October 29, 2012

:)

Big fat smiley face.

What a week it's been! The Mr.'s brother and his family arrived on Wednesday, I worked Thursday and Friday and welcomed a new nephew, Saturday we tested sound, met for final 50th Anniversary plans and had a huge family get together and then yesterday was the big day.

Up at 7:30, everyone primped and prettied, to church for photos, mass, straight to ballroom to get set up for guest photos and then we could play!

We did this:




For every guest that came in, then had them sign the guest book which was a photo album with space for writing next to each photo! So the guests photo will go next to their signature!

Then, my talented sister-in-law taught the grandchildren a cute little hula...my in-laws were married in Hawaii while my father-in-law was stationed there for the Navy.

Check it out...at the 0:27 mark, it's rather cute!



You're smiling now, too, aren't you? :)



Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Nephew...

This, is my sweet newborn nephew who has been terribly and inappropriately nicknamed "Frankenstein" by my baby brother because he was due on Halloween.

We're a nickname-y family...hopefully this one won't stick!

Baby C.



There's something that I love so much about baby frowns. 

He is the sweetest little guy and I am already planning on when I can snuggle him again...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Five Question Friday! 10/26/12

Oh my friends...I get to snuggle my sweet little nephew again today. I'm sorry, you might be bombarded with nephew photos, forgive me. I'm pretty sure that I've discovered a new profession...Birth Story Photography.



Combining my two loves into one career? Ohmydearheavens...where do I sign?

Okay...so, I'm currently enjoying a tiny slice of piece and quiet while I write this...hubs has 4 younger kids visiting with cousins, big boy at my parents watching various sporting events...so for a couple of hours, I'm going to listen to...nothing.

Except for the clackity clack of my keyboard as I type. And edit photos. *swoon*

To the linky!

Welcome to Five Question Friday!! You've come to the right place if you want a fun, easy post or if you've suddenly discovered your muses are totally captivated by their new nephew and can't be disturbed from snuggling.

Rules for 5QF: Copy and paste the following questions to your blog post, answer them, then watch for the linky post to appear Friday morning and LINK UP!

Oh, and remember (pay close attention...this is the important one)...HAVE FUN!

Questions for Friday, October 19th: (Special thanks to 
Pam (@trooppetrie) from Troop Petrie, Tina (@PeazyT),  Brooke (@HallBro) from Brooke and Michael, Tonya (@tonyamaries) from The Heart Desires and Cate (@RndmCrftyGAgrl) from Random Crafty GA Girl for these 5QF question suggestions! I would love to link you in a future 5QF, so come on over to my community or watch for my Thursday afternoon shout out for questions on Twitter and offer up your best question suggestions! Remember to @5crookedhalos me and use hashtag #5QF if you go the Twitter route!)


1. Who wakes up in the morning with the kids, you or hubby?

2. Do you watch the World Series even if your team isn't in it?

3. What is the best compliment you have received?

4. Do/did you dress up to take your kids trick or treating?

5. Do you have a favorite bible verse? What is it and why?


--------------------------------------------

1. Who wakes up in the morning with the kids, you or hubby?
Well, we both do. Hubs wakes to alarm, showers then wakes kids, then me.


He's a kind, kind, kind man and knows I need sleep so he wakes me last! As much as I hate waking up in the mornings, it's so important for me to see my kids off to school.

So, I pack lunches, break up fights, wipe Nutella off faces and kiss them goodbye as they head out for the day...then, I promptly head back to my warm bed and snuggle in with my sleeping baby, until she wakes me for the rest of the day!

I love our little routine.2. Do you watch the World Series even if your team isn't in it?

No. I love baseball but, you know, there's this thing called "no cable" that we have, that's not conducive to watching anything.


If my team were in the World Series, I'd probably wait until it was do or die time before I watched. like Game 3. Or something.

Aw, hell, I don't know what I'm talking about. Is there 5 games in the World Series? Or 7? First to win 3 or 5? I don't know.

Can we talk about something else now?

3. What is the best compliment you have received?

Ahhhh, that's better. Compliments.


Honestly, I get uncomfortable with compliments but the ones I love? Are the ones that pertain to my family. There's nothing I love more than wrestling with 5 kids through Sunday mass, then having an older couple or person come up to us and tell us what a beautiful family we have. 

Or how well behaved our kids were (as I'm wiping sweat and blood from my face after round 4 with the kids in the pew).

Or how our family reminds them of their family when they were young.

Or how much they enjoy watching our family in church (which only tells me that we provide some sort of entertainment to those behind us...not sure that's a good thing, but whatev).

I love that. It makes my heart swell with pride and I beam. I just positively beam when I'm complimented on my family...'cuz I think they're pretty awesome too.

4. Do/did you dress up to take your kids trick or treating?

The closest I ever got to dressing up for Halloween was the year I bought a black and purple witches hat.


And my noggin' is so big it wouldn't stay on. It's unfortunate that I have so much gray matter that normal sized/one size fits all headwear doesn't fit me. Ever.

Ever, ever, ever.

Did I mention ever?

Hence, you will never see me sporting a baseball cap on bad hair days. I'd rather sport the bad hair than a hat that looks goofy on my oversized melon.


5. Do you have a favorite bible verse? What is it and why?

I don't think it was too terribly long ago that we did this question...but I love it, so why not again?

It's Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I love that verse. I love that is so simply says that God has a plan set in place for each of us. 

I wish I were better versed in the bible...being Catholic, we aren't taught to memorize bible verses, but this is one that has really resonated with me and stuck with me. Ever since Verd died, I just have this feeling, this...peace...that everything happens for a reason.

It makes it much easier to swallow the bad things and rejoice in the good, knowing that God has my back!

That God...He's really something, isn't he?

------------------------------------------

And now, I'm off! Stay tuned for lot's of baby pics!





Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Night 5QF Sneak Peek!

Guys, I'm a new aunt!! Squeee!!!!!! My brother and sister-in-law had the MOST adorable little boy today (more on that later) and while I have oodles of nieces and nephews on the Mr.'s side, there's just...something about him being a blood relative that's different!

I love him.

And, he's super cute.

Not that I'm biased or anything.

Anyway, I s'pose you're all waiting for the sneak peek so I should quit gushing about the baby, right?!



Okay, here we go!

Welcome to Five Question Friday!! You've come to the right place if you want a fun, easy post or if you've suddenly discovered your muses are completely captivated by their new nephew and prefer that you don't interrupt their snuggling time.

Rules for 5QF: Copy and paste the following questions to your blog post, answer them, then watch for the linky post to appear Friday morning and LINK UP!

Oh, and remember (pay close attention...this is the important one)...HAVE FUN!

Questions for Friday, October 26th: (Special thanks to 
Pam (@trooppetrie) from Troop Petrie, Tina (@PeazyT),  Brooke (@HallBro) from Brooke and Michael, Tonya (@tonyamaries) from The Heart Desires and Cate (@RndmCrftyGAgrl) from Random Crafty GA Girl for these 5QF question suggestions! I would love to link you in a future 5QF, so come on over to my community or watch for my Thursday afternoon shout out for questions on Twitter and offer up your best question suggestions! Remember to @5crookedhalos me and use hashtag #5QF if you go the Twitter route!)


1. Who wakes up in the morning with the kids, you or hubby?

2. Do you watch the World Series even if your team isn't in it?

3. What is the best compliment you have received?

4. Do/did you dress up to take your kids trick or treating?

5. Do you have a favorite bible verse? What is it and why?

----------------------------------------

Now, I'm off to edit birth photos!



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

For the First Time in, like, Ever...

I was looking forward to morning. Morning could not get here soon enough. That's saying a lot for this Night Owl. I HATE mornings...but last night? I couldn't WAIT for morning to come.

Wanna know why?

Lemme show you...


Oh, sweet Mother of Jesus...DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS?!


Last Christmas, this was a new creamer flavor that I FELL IN LOVE with. Like, to the point that when it was nearing the end of the season and stores were running out, I'd buy out a stores supply and freeze it. It lasted me until...well...I don't remember but it wasn't long enough.

And then this year's seasonal flavors started arriving and I'd look...but no Warm Cinnamon Sugar Cookie...and I'd keep looking and looking and looking everytime I went to a store and then...AND THEN?!

Last night Pal and I ran to WalMart on a late night shopping trip and VOILA! There it was! Calling my name. Sitting so nicely on the shelf, just waiting for me.

I restrained myself. I only bought 3 instead of the whole row, like I wanted to. I guess I was feeling charitable or something and didn't want to deprive someone else of their Warm Cinnamon Sugar Cookie experience.

Excuse me now...I need another cup of coffee.

Oh, and PS...this ain't no paid advertisement. I just love the stuff. Amen.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In the Kitchen with Gram...Cheese Strada!

Raise your hand if you love breakfast food!! *Raises hand*



One of the reasons I think I love breakfast food is because my husband is the "breakfast dude" around our house...I can NOT make eggs like his. No matter how hard I try, I just can't. But what that translates to, is that he cooks! Yay!

Gram and I decided to do a "make ahead" breakfast dish...perfect for baptism day, holiday mornings, or when you're having overnight guests! Who doesn't love make ahead meals?!

First up, cube some bread and place in a 9x13 baking dish:



Now, dice up your peppers! We did all 4 colors for a little pizazz, but truth be told, you couldn't even see the yellow and orange...although they taste great! Sprinkle them over the bread.



And, dice up some onion...then sprinkle that over the peppers/bread.


Breakfast meat next...we used Johnsonville Brown Sugar and Honey sausage, but I think this would be PHENOMENAL with some Jimmy Dean HOT ground breakfast sausage.

Any breakfast meat will do, though! Bacon! Ham! Sausage links, patties, ground, anything goes! Or even a combo! And...sprinkle. Place. Plop. Whatever...just evenly distribute them over the bread/peppers/onions.



Grated cheese on top of the whole lot! Feel free to add more or less depending on your cheese preference (more for Gram, less for me).



Now, if you're feeling frustrated, here's where you can take our your aggressions...beat those eggs until they're all scrambled up!



Measure out your milk and pour it into your beaten eggs.



Add in salt...



And ground mustard.



And now pour the whole dang thing over the bread/meat/veggie/cheese layers. And pop 'er in the fridge to sit overnight.



In the morning, place that bad boy in the oven...bake as directed and...voila!



Breakfast is served!

Gram's Cheese Strata
Printable Recipe

6 slices white bread, cubed
1# grated Velveeta (or any cheese)
1# breakfast meat of your choice, cooked (bacon, ham, sausage, etc)
1 onion, diced
1 c. diced peppers (green, red, yellow, etc.)
8 eggs
4 c. milk
1tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard

Butter 9x13 baking dish, place bread cubes evenly in dish. Layer on veggies, meat and cheese. Mix together remaining ingredients, making sure eggs are well beaten, and pour over layers in baking dish. Place in refrigerator overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350* and bake for one hour.

Enjoy!



Monday, October 22, 2012

I swear to you...

Viruses are virtually contagious. I'm quite convinced that when you sneeze on your computer, your germs are wireless transmitted through the air to far reaching areas of the world.

Just pay attention, you'll see...someone tweets about a fever and WHAMMO, now your kiddo has it. Someone blogs about being run down with a cold and SHAZAM, you're laid up in bed with a box of Kleenex and a bag of Luden's.

Oops, sorry about that sneeze I just sent to you over the Interwebs. You, um, might wanna wash your hands now.

Or take some Vitamin C.

Stock up on Kleenex.

And Luden's.

Maybe even get some ingredients for chicken noodle soup.

You're gonna need it.

Being that you just read this post and all.

Consider yourself officially inoculated.

Yours truly,

Friday, October 19, 2012

Five Question Friday! 10/19/12

Seems like it's been forever since I've written a 5QF post and I haven't had to work Friday...it's kinda nice!



We're currently enjoying "fall break", aka "MEA Weekend" 'round these parts. I think once upon a time "MEA" stood for "Minnesota Educators Assembly" or something like that. It was a conference weekend for Minnesota Educators and now is just a nice long "let's all stay up late and watch movies and sleep in until 10" weekend. And it is blissful.

Anyway, a friend and I are taking our kids to a waterpark today...can I see a show of hands of who thinks the water park is going to be crazy busy on a long weekend when EVERY KID in Minnesota has off?

Oh, all of you? That's what I thought. Wish us luck...

Then tonight, I think I'm taking my 14 year old cousin to the drive-in for "Fright Night"...she's a scary movie lover and we've been planning this for a while. Wish us luck...

After that I work Saturday and Sunday and it has been so crazy busy that I'm wondering if we're seeing the beginnings of the 50 Shades baby boom. Wish me luck...

Okay, enough luck wishing, let's get to the questions!

Welcome to Five Question Friday!! You've come to the right place if you want a fun, easy post or if you've suddenly discovered your muses are totally wonky with their days and can't be bothered for inspiration.

Rules for 5QF: Copy and paste the following questions to your blog post, answer them, then watch for the linky post to appear Friday morning and LINK UP!

Oh, and remember (pay close attention...this is the important one)...HAVE FUN!

Questions for Friday, October 19th: (Special thanks to 
Pam (@trooppetrie) from Troop Petrie, Tonya (@tonyamaries) from The Heart Desires, Erin (@Midnite592) from Dreaming with Midnite, Scott (@thisdaddys_blog) from This Daddy's Blog, and Claire (@clairedonison) for these 5QF question suggestions! I would love to link you in a future 5QF, so come on over to my community or watch for my Thursday afternoon shout out for questions on Twitter and offer up your best question suggestions! Remember to @5crookedhalos me and use hashtag #5QF if you go the Twitter route!)


1. Where do you hide junk when people come over?

2. Do political ads help you decide who you are going to vote for?

3. What's your favorite holiday party to host?

4. You go to an island with your husband and can only take one personal item. What is it?

5. If you found out your spouse was a Dexter style serial killer (only kills people to save others) would you rat?


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1. Where do you hide junk when people come over?
Well, if you're a close friend? No where. All of my junk is displayed for you to see when you come to visit. Aren't you lucky?!


For birthday parties or holiday gatherings? Our bedroom. It becomes a catchall for EVERYTHING that we can't find a good place for before all the company starts arriving.

Which is embarrassing, because we usually put coats on our bed.

So much for hiding the junk.

2. Do political ads help you decide who you are going to vote for?

Ugh. No.


I'm so distrusting of EVERYTHING political that I don't believe anything.

CNN? Total liberal skew.

FOX? As much as they call it "Fair and Balanced" it's totally conservative. Although, someone once said, "Well, at least you'll see a democrat on FOX! You won't see a Republican on CNN!"

I wouldn't know since I black out and get amnesia everytime one of those channels comes on.

I do know that I'm ready for this political season to be over. I think they pair the Olympics with election year to get us all happy before they annoy us all with the smashing and bashing and mudslinging of election season.

3. What's your favorite holiday party to host?

Well, since it's the only once we host, I'll go with "Christmas for 1000, Alex".


But really? I love it.

We started hosting several years ago...maybe 5 years?...and it has been the best thing ever! I always thought it would be stressful hosting, and it's not necessarily a breeze, but wow. I love waking up, having a leisurely Christmas morning and then having people come to us.

Not having to pack up and haul all sorts of stuff anywhere. I love it. And I love that our house is a total family friendly home that fits and welcomes 56 people into it!

And this Christmas? We'll have a new bathroom to "ooh" and "ahh" over! Yay! (Maybe new carpet too?)

4. You go to an island with your husband and can only take one personal item. What is it?

Soap. I'd wanna at least be clean.


No...wait...toothbrush. I mean, gah, can you imagine how fuzzy your teeth would get? I mean, you'd totally have to brush them with sand, unless your spouse chose toothpaste (which, of course, any good spouse would, right? Teamwork at its best!) then you'd be golden.

Wait...Scott...how long am I on this island with my husband? A day? A week? A year? Forever? 'Cuz that could totally change my "one thing".

5. If you found out your spouse was a Dexter style serial killer (only kills people to save others) would you rat?

Wow. That's a hard one. I mean...gosh. I dunno?

For the record, I've never seen Dexter. Not that that's really here nor there, but still.

I would probably say yes. I would rat.

Afterall...who's to say you wouldn't be next?

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And now, I'm off to enjoy my day with my hoodlums! Ciao!




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