Friday, May 27, 2011

My Garden

Last weekend I bought 1 1/2 yards of dirt - well premium bedding mix to be precise - not only did I buy it, but I unloaded it, dumped it, spread it, etc, etc, etc....  This involved a shovel and wheel barrel - yes that is correct I actually wielded these items in my hands.  Oh, did I mention the wheel barrel was broken so I had to wield it with caution?  Yes, it's true.

So what is the big deal?  The big deal is that 'Mama Don't Do Yard Work'.  Since I was a girl I have been squirming my way out of the yard work department.  When my Dad would announce everyone was going to be in the yard working...I would bat my eyes at my Mom and she would get me off the hook...much to the dismay of my siblings - but I felt no remorse.

So what has changed?  Food is involved.  I want a vegetable garden.  I want all the cilantro, tomatoes and jalapeƱos I can get for my Salsa.  I want to go to my back yard for cucumbers and green beans instead of the grocery store.  I want to shuck corn from my backyard rather then pick through it and fight for the best ears at the grocery store.  I want to look outside and see all this beautiful food growing just for me...and my family.

After spending a small fortune on vegetable and herb starts (I'm not sure I spend that much over the coarse of the summer on regular veggies!), I came home and planted my treasures in the new raised beds Lover made for me.

These are my tomatoes and jalapeƱos!!!!!
Lover also wanted some hot banana peppers...not sure about those.
I think there is a green pepper in there too.

This is my lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower & strawberries.
(note to self: work on camera skills)

As I knew we would, we bought too much so we had to start planting in the ground.  This is our corn, green onion, more cauliflower & broccoli and a red bell pepper.

This is my green beans and cucumbers!

My herbs are in another planter - I have cilantro, german thyme, basil, chives & flat leaf parsley...mmmmmm!

So this is my new summer project...which may or may not require a green thumb...I hope it is forgiving as I am going to need it!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crazy Hair Day

Live-In #2 & Live-In #3 were very excited about school was Crazy Hair Day and they had a plan.  Mohawks!  Sometimes after they have a shower they will fashion their hair in a mohawk which makes them laugh and giggle.  Which in turn makes my heart get all warm and sappy and then all I want to do is kiss their little faces and snuggle them up!

But today was serious business, they were calling for gel.  Thankfully their sister had some and we went to work on creating a mohawk that would stay...

I didn't have the heart to tell them they may get an award for the cutest, sweetest, handsomest boys in school instead of the boys with the craziest hair. 

On another note, look how Live-In #2 has his arms protectively around Live-In #3...good thing I didn't notice it when I took their picture...I would have gone all gooey and sappy on them and they never would have made it to school on time!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon

I've been told today is 'National Wine Day'...I like it!  In honor of this momentous occasion, I have a new wine to share.  Well, it's not new to me, but may be new to you...

2008 Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon

From the Bottle:
North Coast crafted Cabernet Sauvignon which shows flavors of blackberry and chocolate along with smooth tannins.

Carol's Thoughts:
This was a tasty wine.  The body was nice, it wasn't fruity.  I thought I detected a coffee flavor and slightly peppery finish which was smooth.  

I bought this wine because Lover had declared it may just be his favorite.  However, when I was at the store I was confused because I had thought the wine was from the Alexander Valley (I am partial to wines from California's Alexander Valley), but the label did not indicate it was from that region.  Then, when I went to the website I noticed most of their labels show Alexander Valley.  So...I am not sure this is the same wine I thought it was...I will have to get back to you on that.

I bought this bottle at my local grocery store for $14.99, however I have purchased it from Costco for $11.99. 

Look for it, Drink it, Enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cake Mix Cookies

I have been craving cookies like you wouldn't believe.  A few days ago it was a toss up between Gingersnaps and took me so long to decide I ended up winning out over my sweet tooth.

But tonight...tonight was a different story...tonight my sweet tooth would not be denied and it had its heart set on peanut butter and chocolate.  The problem was my baking ethic...first of all I am not a huge fan of baking and second of all it was past 8 p.m. and I just wanted to curl up on the couch, watch TV and drink a glass of wine (my fav bottle was already open and calling my name!) - BUT my sweet tooth was insistent.

So I got my recipe box out and began looking for my peanut butter cookie recipe...when I stumbled upon a recipe that I haven't used in quite awhile...Cake Mix Cookies.  The idea of these cookies is to take a boxed cake mix, add a few ingredients and make pretty much whatever kind of cookies your sweet tooth desires (or in my case...demands). Which got me to thinking...

I had chocolate cake mix - I wonder if my sweet tooth would be appeased if I added peanut butter to the batter...lets see what happens...

In a mixer add:
1 box cake mix, 2 tbsp water & 1/2 c. oil

Add 2 eggs

Add a dollop of peanut butter - this was probably about 1/3 cup

Add 1/2 c. white chocolate chips

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes

Serve, Eat, Enjoy!

YEP!  These hit the spot.  They were soft, gooey, chocolate, peanut butter rounds of pure sinful deliciousness.  Sweet Tooth where is that wine...

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box Cake Mix
2 tbsp Water
1/2 cup Oil
2 Eggs
Optional:  add nuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc...

Mix together, drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Martini

After the weekend I had I am declaring today to be "MARTINI MONDAY".

My friend Erin came over last Friday.  The sun was out and my mind was already on the weekend ahead so I decided it was high time to try a new martini recipe out...and Erin was my willing victim.  I call this martini a Strawberry Lemonade Martini....and I tasted it...and it was good!  

Bring to the Party...

Strawberry Lemonade Martini
3 shots Citron Vodka (I prefer Absolut)
3 shots Sweet & Sour
1 shot Strawberry Puree
1/2 shot Cointreau
1 slice lemon, squeezed

Makes: 2

Shake it all up - Shake some more.  Pour.

Serve to a Friend on a Sunny Afternoon!

Friday, May 20, 2011

American Idol Rant

I have been a loyal follower of American Idol.  I watched each season as they crowned a new winner.  Most of the time I agreed and sometimes I had to stretch my mind a little to get around the idea.  But after last nights American Idol cut I may have to make the difficult decision to cut them...

Even with all the changes to the judges this season I gave it a chance.  The judges chemistry was good.  I thought the judges needed to be a little tougher at times, but I was willing to continue watching them as they figured out their groove.  So today the judges are not on my rants short list (they can thank their lucky stars)...

It saddens me to say, that even with all the superior talent they had this season, America or perhaps the producers have manged to make American Idol into a popularity contest.  Don't get me wrong, Scotty and Lauren have talent...

BUT, Lauren doesn't know how to use her talent yet and I don't know if she has it in her to carry us through her kindergarten and elementary school CD's while we wait for her to grow up and put out music we really want to listen to.  I think America or perhaps the producers want another Carrie Underwood, but Lauren isn't there yet.  I think she will be one day, but not today, not tomorrow and not next week.

I definitely think Scotty will be a country music singer and I think he will be successful BUT so is Bucky Covington and he didn't nor should have have won in his season.

So, who do I think should have been in the finale?  Haley vs. James.  I would have been happy with either one.  They are both talented in a non karaoke kind of way.  Or as Simon would say - non wedding singer kind of way, non cabaret kind of way...  I miss Simon! Bring him back!  American needs his dose of reality!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I have been working on a list of things that are said around my household that are random and make me laugh, chuckle or just smile.  However, Live-In #1 said something to me recently that can't just be listed but showcased...

Before you read any farther, for those of you who may not know this about me, I feel I must confess...I can be crass.  I like the shock factor of it.  When I was younger it was fun to shock my mom with's the rebel in me (sorry mom)...

Now, sometimes I will shock my lover with it when I want to get the upper hand...he never knows what will come flying out of my mouth - keeps him on his toes!  I think it is the red pepper flake in our it a little spicy kick!

But, I digress...back to my story...

So the other day Live-In #1 and I were discussing her birth story.  I was reminding her of how she made me wait a week past her due date, how she refused to be born on our first induction attempt, how miserable I was, how my one and only desire was to hold my sweet baby girl in my arms...

Her favorite comeback to each of my woes is:  'Mom, I Couldn't Find the Light'.

But on this day we were going back and forth...she was giving it to me as good as I was giving it to her.  So the next time she said she couldn't find the light I decided to be crass and said: 'So You Decided to Crap in My Belly?'

She didn't miss a beat and quickly responded... 'See, I Told You I Was Claustrophobic!!!'

This was promptly followed by horror on her part...'Ewww, did I really do that?', but I was too busy laughing to answer her.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hippie Chick Half Marathon 2011

A year ago in June I decided to start running with a naive thought in the back of my head that I was going to train for a 1/2 marathon.  It didn't take long to change that challenge to a 5k which was much more realistic for me....a non-running couch potato!

I've written before about how I did conquer this goal.  Right after conquering this goal I was on top of the world and decided I would sign up for that 1/2 marathon.  After all, I had over six months to prepare...mind you it took me three months to prepare for the 5k...but I believed I could do hard could it be right??

Wrong.  It was hard.  Very hard.  But train I did along with my running partner Brooke.  We suffered through the long wet cold winter and spring.  She pushed me, I pushed her and finally May arrived...our 1/2 Marathon was upon us.

The night before the run I was a mess.  I was so nervous.  Not for the course.  Not because there were going to be crowds of people. Not because I didn't think I could finish.  I was nervous because I had a goal and my running partner had a run the entire 13.1 miles - no walking.  Neither of us had run that far before and I am plagued by random side aches...bad side aches...can't breathe side aches.  I didn't want to ruin it for myself but more importantly I didn't want to ruin it for Brooke.  We had worked hard.

The race started out cloudy.  It had rained overnight and there was rain in the forecast.  I wore a long sleeve shirt under the short sleeve Hippie Chick shirt because it was cold.  So did Brooke.  However, around mile 4 we were HOT and not in a good way.  So out there on the country roads of Oregon she and I stripped off both shirts and put the short sleeve only on.  When we were done I looked at the ladies behind me and told them I thought we would give them a show with their run...we all enjoyed a laugh and the few minutes our minds were on something besides what we were doing...running.

A couple minutes later my hair was bothering me because it had come loose.  I took out my rubber band and began fashioning my hair when ponytail holder broke. I get to run the rest of the race with my hair in my face...real nice!

About 5 miles into the race I let my mind wander...not a good thing...I thought of how far we had come, but more importantly how far we still had to go.  Then I asked myself...why in the world did you decide you wanted to do this...and on Mother's Day of all days???

Mile 6 brought with it a side hurt.  For at least the next two miles I was working through my side ache.  It was painful...but I won!  During this same time the muscles in my neck began once again I let my mind wander and began worrying that my muscles would be so tense they just might snap my spine while I was running....

Around mile 8 we were greeted by the cheers of our family.  That was a huge boost in moral.  Our husbands were taking pictures and our kids were cheering and yelling 'Happy Mother's Day'.  I wanted run over to them and hug them...or maybe I was daydreaming about getting into the truck and driving to the finish line!

Around mile 10, Brooke and I began discussing the likelihood of doing another 1/2 marathon...we decided the chances were slim to none.

I don't remember much about the rest of the race...I think my mind went numb along with my feet.  I do, however, remember wishing my legs would go numb...they were sore.

At the finish line our families were waiting for us once again and I wanted to cry but I had no tears....I needed water!  Somewhere, out of nowhere, I found the strength to move my legs faster and we crossed the finish line.

Within 30 minutes of finishing we had decided we would do it again and within 48 hours we began talking about maybe doing a full marathon....Crazy?  Maybe...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spanish Rice

One of my favorite side dish growing up was my Mom's Spanish Rice.  This rice was a staple in the summer alongside BBQ meat (especially my mom's marinated beef) or burgers.

This is very different than the Spanish rice you will get in a Mexican restaurant.  Both have their place, but this one has it's place alongside BBQ (and for Christmas Eve, but that is another story)...

Here's How To Make It...

Spanish Rice

2 c. Long Grain Rice
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes
1 can (4 oz) Tomato Sauce
1/3 lb. Bacon (cut up)
1 c. Onion (chopped)
1/2 c. Green Pepper
1/2-1/3 c. Olives
1 heaping Tbsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Salt (or to taste)

Cook rice, per package instructions.  2 parts water, one part rice, pinch of salt, cook for 20 minutes...

Meanwhile, cut up bacon.  I use kitchen shears rather than a knife.  I have found it gets the job done much faster and without too much frustration!

Chop onion.

Saute bacon until it begins to render its fat and softens.  Add onion and a pinch of salt.  Continue to saute until onions are soft and translucent and bacon is cooked but not too crunchy.

Chop green pepper, slice olives.

When rice is finished, pour into a prepared baking dish. (prepared: sprayed with kitchen spray).  I used a 9x9 dish, but you could use whatever dish you prefer that is approximately this size. 
Add bacon & onion (with the bacon fat baby!!!!).

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, green pepper and olives.  Stir all together. 
Take note of the color, it is sort of a very light red or pink.  Your final product you want pretty red and the way we get there is with chili powder.  I have always done this by sight but for this recipe I tried to get exact measurements - add or subtract to your taste. 

Sprinkle a healthly tablespoon of chili powder over rice.  Stir.  Sprinke in 1/2 tsp cumin & garlic powder over rice.  Stir.  Add 1 tsp salt.  Stir, Stir, Stir.  How is the color?  How is the taste?   If both are good then we move onto the cheese.

Here in Oregon we are lucky to have the best chedder cheese readily available to us.  Tillamook Chedder.  If you are not should be.  It is orange gold!
Ok, so I have to stop for a moment and give a 'Tip' from my mother regarding shredded cheese and how to make it go farther.  When shredding cheese use the really small/fine grate.  You will use about the 1/2 the cheese but feel like you are getting the same amount on your food.  Try works!

Anyways, you will need approximately 2 cups of grated cheese to sprinkle all over the top of the rice.  
Bake rice at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  

Serve and enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Letter to Live-In #1

Dear Live-In #1:

You turned 13 years old this week.  Wow!  As I sit here to write this letter there is so much I want to say to you, yet I know only a fraction will be said.  First, I want you to know I am continually in awe of you and the young woman you are becoming.  You are strong and grounded which are two qualities I admire in you.  You know who you are and aren't afraid to just be you. My prayer for you is that you will not falter from your path, you will continue to be who you are and enjoy your life.

Second, you are a funny little thing. You make me laugh even when I don't feel like it.  You are a breath of fresh air when my world gets stale!  Never stop smiling - your smile and laughter is infectious!  It is a necessary part of my life.

Third, I just think you are awesome.  Just Sayin...Enough said.

This was you and me 13 years ago on Mother's Day - you were two days old.

I am so in love with you.  You stole my heart away the day you were born and I don't ever want it back.  I am so very blessed to be your mother.

With all my love,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Anatomy of a 13th Birthday Party

Live-In #1 turned 13 this week.  For her 13th birthday she wanted to have a big birthday party with friends from different areas of her life in attendance.  She invited 24 girls and 18 came - for a total of 19 girls, two brothers and a toddling niece!!

I had been planning this party in the back of my head for months.  I wanted to have games to keep the girls busy, but they couldn't be the games we played when she was younger.  I needed to up the here's what I did...

Since her invite list was large and some of my game ideas were messy, I decided to have her party at a local school gym with a nearby outdoor covered area.  - Check!

I usually make and decorate a cake for my live-ins birthdays, however when I suggested a chocolate fountain to Live-In #1 she became hysterical...  Chocolate Fountain it is! - Check!!
Goodies for the chocolate fountain included: pretzels, strawberries, potato chips, large marshmallows, chocolate chips cookies and rice krispy treats.  Let me tell you, this was a HIT!

I went back and forth on whether or not to have food.  Finally I decided to have pizzas delivered during the party.  Pizza Hut has $5 mediums - not bad.  Live-In #1 wanted sodas so we had Orange, Dr Pepper & Root Beer. - Check!

This is where I had a lot of fun in the planning.  We played six games, but I had seven ready to go - we just ran out of time.

Balloon Popping - the first game I used as kind of an ice breaker.  When each girl arrived I gave them two balloons.  I instructed them to blow up the balloons and tie them around each ankle.  The object of the game is to try to step on other peoples balloons to pop them...the last girl with at least one inflated balloon wins.  We did this to music...Ozzy Osbourn (Lovers choice) and Nickelback!

Shower Cap, Shaving Cream & Cheese Puffs - yes you read that correctly.  I purchased cheap shower caps, shaving cream and cheese puffs at the $ store.  I had each girl put on a shower cap, then each girl got a liberal dose of shaving cream added to their shower cap.  Finally they were paired up in groups of two with a bowl of cheese puffs.  They stood about six feet apart and threw cheese puffs at each other, trying to catch the cheese puff in the shaving cream.  There was a lot of laughter and silliness with this game.
Shower Caps Ready

Shaving Cream Ready

Cheese Puffs Flying!

Frozen T-Shirts - The night before the party I washed several t-shirts, folded them up while they were wet and put them in my freezer to freeze.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the circumstances) my washer spins so fast it gets most of the water out of the t-shirts so they did not freeze as well as I would have liked.  BUT I did not let this stop me from enjoying the 'oh it's so cold' comments I got from many of the girls.  The object of this game is to see who can get the t-shirt to thaw out enough to get it on... (no pictures...Lover was cleaning up the cheese puffs!)

Water Balloon Toss - straight up classic game...lots of laughter and fun here too

Get Wet!

Prop/Skit - I split the girls into three groups and gave them a prop (mop, hair spray & joint pill bottle).  I gave them five minutes to come up with a skit they would preform using the prop, then gave each group 2 minutes to perform their skit.  At the end everyone voted on which group was best...and everyone got a prize.

Auction - I had purchased several items for an auction.  Most items were from the $ store so most everything was $1, however I had a few $2-$4 items.  Each girl was given $20 in play money and we started the auction.  I think just about everyone walked away with a prize or two.  We had some items that were 'gags'  and we had some 'mystery' items.  The girls seemed to have a lot of fun with this.
These girls were fierce auctioneers!

I normally plan 1 1/2 hours for a party, however for this party I planned 2 hours and ended up needing 2 1/2 hours. The girls were kept busy and seemed to have a great time.  Live-In #1 could not pick a favorite game, she said she loved them all.  The Chocolate Fountain was a HUGE hit and I SURVIVED to tell the story.  So all in all, it would rate it a success!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Girl

Yesterday I got to share Mother's Day with my Daughter, it was her 13th birthday.  A big one to be sure.  Today, I wanted to take a look back at the year in the life of this wonderful girl.

She was in her first play - Miss Nelson Is Missing

She grew her hair out so she could cut it off and donate to Locks of Love.  She is an inspiration!

She learned how to Wake Surf

And how to fall! 

She tried her hand at fishing...but she was 'biteless'


Silver Creek Falls Adventure!

Off to 7th Grade she goes...

Hannah's 2nd Play - she is The Raven in Edgar Allen Poe poem

Carving Pumpkins!

Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday.

Decorating Christmas Cookies

Having fun with her cousin on Christmas Eve

Wipeout on Mt Hood!

Another Play - this time she was Bagheera in The Jungle Book

I Love You My Sweet Girl!
I am so blessed to be your mother!
Happy 13th Birthday!