Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Really? 20 Years?!

Donald Raymond Burch
March 13, 1929 - December 26, 1992

December 26, 1992.

That was the saddest day of my life, so far. It was the day I had to say my final good bye to my dad.

It's hard to believe it's been 20 years.

People always say when you lose a loved one, there will be good days and there will be bad days. And that you never really get over it. And that the grief will come out of no where. That was true in the beginning, for sure. Over the years, those bad days have been less, but I had no idea that 20 years later, grief would still sneak up on me.

This year, it has definitely snuck up on me. I don't know if it's because it's the 20 year mark or if it's because - now don't laugh - K and I watched the movie The Last Song around Thanksgiving. It was my second attempt trying to get through that movie because Miley Cyrus ruins it for me. (I don't think there is a worse actress out there that gets on my nerves quite like she does.)

If you haven't seen the movie, in a nutshell, she's a teenage girl that despises her parents and she finds out her dad has cancer. She gets the chance to spend time with him, get to know him and care for him as he's fighting his losing battle against cancer.

February 12, 1971
This made me sad as I reflected back on me losing my dad. When my dad was dying, it was just me and my mom at home. My siblings were adults and on their own or going to college so my mom and I were the ones there 24/7. I was just 14 years old. I say my mom and I were his primary care givers, but it was mostly my mom. (The strength she had during that time amazes me. She was strong for him, strong for us, and strong for herself. She deserves a medal of honor!)

Like I said, I was 14. I don't think I fully understood that my dad was dying and what that really meant. It meant that this was my last chance with him - and I wasted it. I mostly hid and ran from what was happening once he started going downhill. I remember trying to always be somewhere else - friends houses, neighbors houses, anywhere but home - and when I was home, I remember being locked in my room as much as possible.

Watching The Last Song, I realized how I cheated myself out of the last moments I would ever have with my dad. This broke me. All that time I spent in my room, I should have been at his side. Even if it was to just watch TV... to sit in silence. At least I was with him. Those times I escaped to friends and neighbors, I should have been hanging out with him.

Less than thrilled with my teenage shenanigans.
Possibly April of 1992
Should have, could have, would have... but didn't. I don't beat myself up for not handling it differently. I was just 14. I didn't know better. Sure, I knew about death - I had lost grandparents, but nothing can prepare you for the loss of a parent. Especially not at 14. So I am forgiving with myself that I didn't handle it then the way I would now, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still make me sad that it wasn't different.

Sometimes when people lose loved ones they have a hard time letting go of their grief because they believe that by letting go of their grief, they will somehow forget the one they're grieving. For me, that wasn't really an issue. I always thought - how could I ever forget my dad?! And then there was the day I realized that I had forgotten what my dad's voice sounded like. I just sobbed. It felt terrible. I had forgotten. My dad was a traveling salesman and every other week when he was out of town, we'd talk on the phone... and now I wouldn't even know his voice if he called me. It was a gut wrenching realization. I was sad for me. I was devastated for him - did he know I had forgotten and was he hurt that I could forget?! I felt almost like I had abandoned him somehow.

I wasn't just cheated out of his death, I was cheated out of his life, too. There were moments growing up that I wished he could have been there for - learning to drive, buying my first car, wrecking my first car, graduating high school, my wedding. You know, those big moments in life that parents are supposed to be a part of. (Thankfully, my mom was still a part of all those moments - I couldn't even fathom not having her to always depend on!)

1986
He got the opportunity to watch one out of three of his daughters graduate high school, graduate college, and walk her down the aisle. She got everything I didn't and I think how lucky she is to have had all that with him. However, she thinks I am the lucky one because she says I got more of him than any of the rest of the kids because he had a home office that he worked from when he was home so he was around more when I was growing up. Believe me, I cherish the memories I do have of that time... I just feel like I didn't value those moments back then like I would have later in my life. At the same time, I watched my other sister go through some very tough times with my dad in her teenage years - times I would not have wanted to go through with him.

I feel like I missed out on so much. He missed out on so much. We all missed out on so much! My dad died seven months before his first grandson was born. Oh, how I think he would have loved his grandkids and how they would have loved him!

It's hard to believe it's been 20 years. In my own mind, I guess I thought that after 20 years, his death wouldn't still haunt me. I was wrong. For whatever reason, the loss of my dad is weighing heavy in my heart this year. The grief doesn't cripple me like it did in the beginning, but it still lingers.

1979
Yesterday, on my way to work I was thinking about that last Christmas as I fought back the tears. That Christmas was a tough one, to say the least. He was too incoherent to partake in and Christmas activities - not that there were many that year - but it was the last time his whole family was all together under the same roof. (At least I think we were - for some reason, I think my one sister might not have been there on Christmas, but I cant imagine her not being there with how sick my dad was.) Although he wasn't coherent, I do believe that he somehow knew that it was Christmas and that his family was all there because he held on and made it through the day.

I know that my dad is still watching over us... I feel him the most when I am playing cards and people get pissed because I am relentless and kicking their butts (unless I am playing my mom - he's on her side then.) LOL But, what I wouldn't do for more time with him. A year, a month, a day, an hour, a moment... whatever it is, I would do just about anything for a direct connection to him again.

What advice would he give me? What life lessons would he want to teach me? What might he say to me? What would I say to him? Would he be proud? Is he proud?

So today, I will remember my dad. I will take the time to light a candle in his honor and think about the man he was - not perfect by any means, but at minimum, a good man, a good Dad. Some people don't ever get a chance to even meet their dad's. Some know them, but wish they didn't. While I feel the loss, I recognize the treasure I had in getting to have my dad for the time I did and knowing he was the best Dad he knew how to be!

November 1992

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas - 2012

Merry Christmas everyone!!

This is the first year in many - no - this is the first year ever that I have not gotten to spend Christmas with family. Sure, K and I are together (sort of) and we have our boys, but by family, I mean our extended family. I say sort of to K and I being together because she went to work last night at 8pm and I was gone to work before she got home and now she has to go to work again tonight... so although we are in the same area, we aren't really going to be together but for a couple of hours. 

That's why we actually had our Christmas on Friday! Well, that and because we suck at giving gifts. LOL We are both really bad at it because we get really excited about what we got for each other and then don't want to wait to exchange. This usually happens on birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Either way, we shared a great Christmas together... here are a few of the things we got for each other! 


I asked for A Walk to Remember and I got three bonus movies - that was a good find right there! I will have a tear jerker marathon!
Bridesmaids is just a classic and should be in the reserves.
Little Miss Sunshine I actually bought for myself when I was getting one of K's presents, but I wrapped it and put it under the tree - "To: Me / From: K" :o) (It was only $5 ... I couldn't resist.)


Because I love a book, sisters, and all things weird! 


Because every house should have a cribbage board and a deck of cards for those rainy days when you just want to spend quality time with your family. I don't think K is all that excited about this one because she swears I have a way with cards and she is doomed for ass whoopings! Hahah


I like to have an occasional glass of wine. (Who am I fooling? A glass always becomes a bottle!) Anyway, we don't have any wine glasses so I usually drink it out of a glass. Like an every day glass tumbler. You know, the kinds that average people drink soda and juice and milk from. I don't want to be average. I mean, I'm drinking wine because that's what above average people do, right? (At least they seem to think so. LOL) I never felt classy and elegant drinking it from the normal glass so now I can feel elegant and classy when I want a glass (bottle) of wine! This just might lead to me drinking more wine so I'm not really sure how much of a good thing it is, but I will be testing it out tonight!! :o) 

The coffee cup is because with these lame hours I have been working (5:45am - 4pm) I need caffeine. As much of it as I can get. So I am trying to learn to love coffee. It's a daily battle. I don't like the metallic cups. I am certain it makes the coffee taste different... it makes my mouth feel metallicy. LOL So, I asked for a plastic cup to try out. I must say, I DO like it better. 


I love regular Reece's Peanut Butter cups, but I especially love the holiday ones!!


Of course there had to be a pair of funky socks in the mix. It's just who I am! K said they were the very last ones in the entire store... otherwise there would have been more. 

A new transient sweater!! Now I can retire my old one (that I have had for a mere 7 years) that was really starting to look like I might have stolen it from a transient! (For those of you that know - you know, the grey one, with the wood buttons? It was really getting bad!) The best part of this sweater? Well, two things - the hood... and it's Converse brand! I love me anything Converse! 


And last, but certainly not least.. I got my People magazine subscription. Here's my theory on People magazine: First... If it's not in People, it's not true. In other words, if it's in Us or any other trashy tabloid magazine, but it's not in People... then it's not true! It doesn't become true until People publishes it. Secondly, I believe People magazine will keep me young. I refuse to be one of those 30-somethings that has to ask a kid - who's that celebrity? I will be in the celebrity know and therefore, will always be young! Right? Right!
 (This present was supposedly from Edward and Willy... see the paw prints on the card? :o)

K did good. Really good. I am sure she will agree that it helped that I gave her a very detailed list with lots of options. It really does make a difference when shopping for others. I remember one year my sister gave me a really detailed list and I ended up buying her the most gifts because she made it so easy. Take this as a lesson - PROVIDE DETAILED WISH LISTS!! 

Here's what K made out with:


A waffle iron - she's wanted one since we started dating 3.5 years ago! 
A pair of jeans - not that much fun, but practical.
Bruno Mars CD - it seemed like an odd request, but I went with it. :o) 
SF Giants World Series Champions shirt. Helloooo - she HAD to have this. (Not to mention she might have divorced me if she didn't get something Giants related!) This was also the most challenging gift. Finding Giants stuff down in So Cal's Dodger/Angel country is TOUGH! 
HiChew candies - They're just yummy. If you haven't had them, try them. My favorite is the Melon flavor, but that's everyone else's favorite too so it's hard to find! 
Wearable slippers - and by wearable, I mean they look enough like real shoes that she can wear them out of the house and to work without people knowing she's wearing slippers. It's how we roll. 
Also not pictured here - A word search book for her to do at work and a Toblerone candy bar that seemed to have mysteriously disappeared! 

Like I said, it was a good Christmas for us together. I look forward to many many more, but preferably with our very much missed extended family!

I would love to hear about the highlights of your Christmas. What did you get? Did you start any new traditions? What are some of your favorite old traditions? 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reindeer Noses

Every year for the past few years, my mom has asked me to craft something for her Church's Holiday fundraising sale. The last three years she has asked me to do Scrubbies, which were not my favorite. You can learn how to make them and read about my disdain for them here

Well, my mom let me off the hook this year and asked me to make these cute tags instead of Scrubbies. (If I am honest with myself, she probably got tired of me bitching about doing them.) She found this idea on Pinterest, of course!

It started out rough:
I did not like how they were turning out. The lettering looked sloppy, they holly wasn't stamping right and the colored pencils weren't popping like I wanted them to. I think it was at this point I texted my mom this picture and told her that she really should have had my sister Melissa do them because she was much better at stuff like this. I even texted Melissa and asked her to take over the project. - They both assured me that it was cute, even at that point.  
 
 And then I was determined. I will make the letter stamps I have fit. I will find pens that I can color Rudolph with. I will make it happen. And it did. It finally came together and I was satisfied with it's cuteness. 

Overall, it was a fairly inexpensive project. I had to purchase the Reindeer stamp (hard to believe I didn't have one in my thousands of dollars worth of scrapbooking stuff!) I think I paid $1.50 for the stamp. I bought 2 packs of the tags - they came in packages of 10 for $1.99. Oh, and I had to buy the sparkle glue for Rudolph's nose. It was the most expensive at $3.99, but it came in a three pack of three different colors. I also used a 40% off coupon on each thing (yes, I made four separate trips to Michaels) so it really wasn't even that expensive. I had all the rest of the supplies in my reserve - holly and letter stamps, ink, pens. 

It turned out pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself! 


 Here's to wishing you all a very ....

Monday, November 26, 2012

Better than Pumpkin Pie

And believe me when I tell you I LOVE pumpkin pie! But, I am the only one in my house who does so usually half of the pie gets thrown out and then I overindulge in the left over cool whip. So this year, I decided to try something different... and they were a HIT!

Of course there are hundreds of pumpkin something or other recipes on pinterest, but I picked this one.  The pin led me to Mama B's Blog with the simplest, most delicious cupcake I have ever made.

Ingredients:
  • Cake mix of choice (I used a spice cake mix but I imagine any flavor would work. - I wonder if a white cake would pull out the pumpkin flavor more. Hmmm...)
  • 1-15 oz can of Pumpkin Puree
Frosting:
  • 1 package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
Mix the cake mix and the pumpkin puree in a stand mixer. Fill your muffin tin holders 3/4 of the way full with the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool completely while making your frosting.

For the frosting: mix all of the ingredients together until fluffy and frost your cooled cupcakes!

 The frosting is key. After baking the first batch (I made two so K could take some to work for her pot luck), of course I needed to taste test the cupcake to make sure it wasn't poisoned. I was actually a little concerned because it wasn't that spectacular. In fact, it seemed kind of bland and left a weird after taste. But I continued on.

Before I even frosted the cupcakes, I "accidentally" got some on my finger so, of course I had to check that for poison too and OH EM GEE! It was so good I about dropped to my knees. (Ok, that's probably a little dramatic, but I have to get the point across that it was good.) My SIL thought it was so good, she wanted just a bowl of frosting, skip the cupcake. I'm telling you - it was good. Did I mention how good it was? ;o)

I scooped the frosting into a piping kit (which my piping skills leave something to be desired as you see in the picture above), and started frosting these little pieces of heaven. I was able to exercise some self control and wait until after we ate our Thanksgiving dinner to test it out and seriously, I don't think I will ever buy another pumpkin pie again in my life! It was ah-mazing!

A few tips -- The cupcake batter comes out unusually thick. I questioned it, but it just made the cupcake a little more dense than the average cupcake, which I think made it better. Some people on Mama B's Blog said they added a little water. I s'pose you could do that, but I don't recommend it - they were perfect without the water.

Like the professional cupcake bakers I watch on TV, I used an ice cream scooper to scoop the batter into the cups. The first batch I made, I did a whole scoop... it was fine, but they came out a little bumpy and more like muffins because they expanded so much when they cooked. After that I did about 3/4 of a scoop and they turned out perfect... I got 28 cupcakes total and probably could have gotten 32 if I would have done smaller scoops for the first batch.

Last, but not least, we stored our cupcakes in the fridge. Partly because I feel weird about leaving cream cheese based food out. I'm not sure what the rule is, but I would hate to cause all my taste testers food poisoning because I left a dairy product out too long. Also, that's typically how we store our cakes. I don't know why, but I think cake tastes better cold. 

I really hope you will partake in this awesome, super simple, delicious treat! I promise, you wont regret it. If your a little skeptical of the pumpkin... or the fact that there's only two ingredients in the cupcakes, fine... don't make the cupcakes that way, but do yourself a favor and make the frosting... slather it on anything.
P.S. I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving and found yourselves realizing you had more than enough to be thankful for.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Apple Cheesecake Bars

I got the original recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything. She called hers Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars. I decided to leave the Carmel off my title because the first night K and I ate this, I forgot the caramel. The second night, I remembered the caramel but as I grabbed the jar of caramel off the counter, I realized that it wasn't caramel at all, but it was butterscotch sauce. So, technically my version didn't have any caramel at all.

Ingredients: 

Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
 
Apples:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
 
Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup caramel topping
 
Directions:
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
 
For the crust:
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9×13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. 
 
For the cheesecake filling:
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust. 
 
For the apples:
In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. 
 For the streusel topping: 
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.

Sprinkle Streusel topping over apples. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy! Make 16 servings.


It's a lot of steps, but I think they're worth it. Next time I might use more apples, but it was delish just the way it was. I would make it again, for sure but it was waaaay too much for just me an K. It would have to be a dish I share in the future, or take to a gathering.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Crock Pot Taco Chili

Well, hello strangers! Have you missed me? I have missed you. 

I am still adjusting to my new job. I am used to having a lax work environment where I could just blog from work (on my breaks, of course. Psh.) and my new job is literally no internet, no email, no phones, etc while on the floor. I mean, I get it... we need our attention to be on saving lives, not surfing the net, but it's tough to find time to blog from home. And really, by "finding time" I mean finding the desire to want to take the time to turn on the computer, format pictures, down load pics and all the other fun stuff it takes to post a blog. Not to mention that I work from 9:45am to 8:00pm. I feel like my entire day is at work. I wake up, come home, eat dinner, unwind a bit by watching bad TV (since baseball is over GO GIANTS!!!!!!), and go to bed. Where is the time for blogging in there? ;o) 

Whatever, I am here now and that's what really matters. Just because I haven't been blogging, doesn't mean the projects have been lacking. One of the things I have been up to is making some chili. Taco Chili to be exact. It's a recipe I used to make all the time, but I haven't made it for a few years. 

Ingredients
  • 1lb ground beef (or turkey or fake meat/crumble) - browned and drained
  • 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can corn - undrained
  • 1 can black beans - undrained
  • 1 can kidney beans - undrained
  • 1 packet Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (I used the less sodium)
  • 1 small onion - chopped
  • Fritos (or any tortilla chip)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
Directions
  • Combine all ingredients except shredded cheese, sour cream, and Fritos in slow cooker and give it a stir.
  • Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 
  • Garnish individual servings with chips, cheese, and sour cream.
This is yummolicious! :o) Now if we could just convince the beautiful So Cal weather to take some time off so we can enjoy some cooler fall temps, we'll be perfect! :o)



That's all I have for you this round. I have other recipes and projects to share, but not today... probably not tomorrow... maybe this weekend. We'll see. Just be patient with me. Hopefully, I will get my groove back soon.






Friday, September 28, 2012

BOO!


I think I saw this project last fall when I first signed up for Pinterest. I bought the letters last year and just never getting around to doing this project.

While I was off work, I was going through all my scrapbook paper and found this halloweenish paper I never really cared for in a scrapbook setting and I thought it was perfect Halloween paper. Then I remembered the letters and I thought, PERFECT! I'll do it.

So I did.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Wood letters - any size, really
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Mod Podge
  • Exacto Knife
  • Sponge paint brush
  • Embellishments (If you wish)
  • Paint (maybe)
Here's what you'll do:
  1. Trace the letters onto the scrapbook paper and cut them out. Don't worry if they don't fit perfectly, you'll have a chance to clean that up later.
  2. If you want, this is where the paint could come in. Paint the letters whatever color you want. I chose not to because I didn't want to have to wait for it to dry before I started Mod Podging. 
  3. Put a layer of Mod Podge on the letter and adhere the paper to the letter. Do your best to line up the borders of the paper with the letter, but not to worry if there's a lot of over hang. 
  4. Put 2-4 more layers of Mod Podge over the paper to help seal it. 
  5. Let that dry completely.
  6. Take an exacto knife and clean up the edges. I suppose sand paper might work too, but I was worried about damaging the letter itself so I just cut around the letters. 
  7. Once that's done, embellish as you wish. 
  8. Oh! And don't forget the help from the family pet.
For some reason, Edward really liked this one. :o)
Fall is my most favorite time of year. Halloween is one of K's favorite Holidays. I did this project more for here than I did me. Hopefully, this project will inspire you to do something fall/Halloween related. 'Tis the season to start getting in the spirit!!!

Project inspired by Then She Made.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Three Week Journal

I flew up to Sacramento to start my three week training on Sunday. The flight up here was beautiful! When you take off you see beautiful coasts below. I put my head down to read my book and a few minutes later glanced out the window again to see endless ocean beneath me. I returned to my book and read a few more pages and the next time I looked out the window we were flying over incredible mountains. (If I wasn't geographically challenged, I could probably tell you which mountains they were, but we'll just call them the beautiful ones. Haha) After taking in the mountains for a few minutes, I went back to my book yet again. The next time I looked up we were over endless farmland. It was at that very moment that I thought to myself, "What an absolutely beautiful State I live in!" As we started our descent into Sacramento, I watched out the window and realized just how incredibly flat this part of the State is. I am not sure why I didn't realize this when I lived here. Perhaps because where I live now is so hilly I can really tell a difference. Either way, I was filled with gratitude and pride for getting to live in the beautiful State of California.

When I got off the plane in Sacramento, apparently I was let out at the "new" terminal at the airport. I felt lost... almost as if I wasn't really in Sacramento at all. It was a bizarre feeling.

My first night at training was awkward and lonely. The Cadets that are also training here are required to Good morning, Good afternoon, Good evening ma'am you. It's pretty crazy and gets old and awkward quick. The first night I was walking around with my head in my phone and I was "Good evening ma'am'd" and it scared the bajeezus out of me! The Cadet felt terrible, but really it wasn't even his fault. I was so uncomfortable in my room all by myself I had to adjust the blinds just so there was a little light coming into the room. Apparently I need a  nightlight. Haha... I am perfectly safe here, but it's just uncomfortable to be somewhere you're not familiar with. I am sure it doesn't help that I am reading a ghost story either.

Day one of training was brutal. A lot of policy stuff that doesn't really pertain to the job, but I s'pose you need to know. I am on day two of training now and it's much more interesting. A lot more info pertaining to the job, which is good and fun. I am learning a lot... not just about the job, but about myself too - even if it is random stuff I am learning.

I am taking notes like I am back in school. As I take notes, I change styles of writing and none of it is neat like it used to be. I used to get compliments on my hand writing all the time. I guess the more dependent we become on electronics, the less I write and therefore my handwriting isn't really a part of me anymore. It's sort of odd when I used to take such pride in it.

Another thing I learned is that I am brutal and often times cruel in my judgement of others. Granted, I may judge people out the gate, but I always give them a chance to prove me wrong. Sometimes my judgements are spot on and others they are off. I recently judged someone that, come to find out, I was pretty off. When I miss the mark like that, I realize how wrong I am to judge anyone and I should really learn to not be so judgmental. Perhaps if I was less judgmental, I would not feel so insecure about myself at times.

I got to see the Doran's last night. It was a short visit, but they were kind enough to let me borrow their truck for the next three weeks so I have a sense of freedom and don't feel so trapped here.

I have lots of prospective plans for the next weeks, but nothing really confirmed. It will be interesting to see who comes through and who doesn't. Tonight I am laying low and having some me time. I will probably hang out with my roomie a little later but will be running out to grab dinner first. The food here is not the best. BUT the endless free fountain soda is pretty freaking rad! LOL

I miss my wife like crazy. I wish she could just be here with me! I hate not being able to talk to her throughout the day and share parts of our days. Instead we have to send each other texts and wait hours for a response. Granted, we can chit chat in the evenings, but it's just not the same. I would prefer I stuffed her my luggage and then stuffed her in my locker when I got here so we could hang out after class. I just keep thinking I still have 2.5 weeks to go! I can't wait till we at least get to the halfway mark and feel like we're on the home stretch of these long three weeks!

In other news, I am bummed an annoyed that the S'mores Brownies and the Not So Skinny Poolside Dip posted on the same day. It was supposed to post one this week and the other one next week so there was a post every week, the goal being to avoid a lull in posts while I was in training. But if I keep up this "Three Week Journal" they will fill the gap.

I feel pretty out of touch because the cell signals around campus are hit or miss and we don't have much access to TV and internet, but with that being said, I will just say I have it MUCH easier than the Cadets do. I have compassion for those folks... I don't know how they do it! I think I have a new found respect for Officers because of what they have to go through.

On that note, I need to go get some more endless free fountain soda and head out to grab a bite to eat. I will be back soon.



Monday, September 24, 2012

S'Mores Brownies

Where's the Graham Cracker part of the S'More?
We'll get to that.
 More like S'mores Brownies disaster. SMH

Recipe swiped from Prevention RD. I just read that she is a Registered Dietitian. I am not really sure what Dietitian in their right mind would recommend this recipe, but at the same time - right on to her for not being a stiff Dietitian that says you can't enjoy life's little pleasures. :o)

Ingredients:
  • 1 pack brownie mix (Betty Crocker,  Duncan Hines, etc. – my selection had 18 servings, 140 calories each)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 4 graham crackers, cut into chunks
  • 2 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, cut into each segments
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray 9×9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Prepare the brownie mix according to the directions on the box (or use your favorite homemade recipe) using the oil, egg, and water.

After baking, remove the pan from the oven and set the oven to broil at 500-550 F.

Cool brownies for about a minute then sprinkle the marshmallows over the warm brownies. Make sure to cover most of the area. Sprinkle the graham crackers on top of the marshmallows. Broil about 4-5 inches from the heat for 30 seconds to a minute until the marshmallows are golden brown. Watch carefully so that they don’t burn. Sprinkle with Hershey’s milk chocolate bars.

Sounds simple enough, right? Sure... if you're not me. LOL

If you look back at the picture on the top, perhaps you wonder where the Graham Crackers are, huh? Well, here they are ----

Burnt to a crisp and in a separate bowl.
OK, first of all, we have an electric stove/oven and electric sucks. I did exactly what the recipe said, set it to broil, had the rack where I thought it was meant to be, put the dish back in the oven and set the timer for 2 minutes and before the two minutes were even up, I smelled burning and took out the dish to find my Graham Crackers burnt to a crisp.

If (and that is a giant IF) I were to ever make these again, I would probably throw the brownies back in the oven without the Graham Crackers and I would probably crumble/crush the crackers, instead of cutting them. It was unnecessary to have such neatly cute Grahams.

Anyway, I immediately pulled all the Graham Crackers off the brownies but still put the chocolate chunks on it. The end result left something to be desired. They were very rich, the marshmallows were gooey (duh) and I just didn't care for them. But then again, I don't really care for real S'Mores either. So there ya have it.


Not So Skinny Poolside Dip


This recipe is effing YUM-MY!

I originally found the recipe on Pinterest, of course. The pin said it was called "Skinny Poolside Dip" because they used fat free cream cheese. Ummmm... NO WAY! I love cream cheese waaayyyy too much to do it fat free if I don't have to.

Here's my version of the recipe:
  • 18 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 can diced chiles, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper (I didn't use the entire bell pepper)
  • Diced black olives, drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 packet Ranch Dip Dressing
Mix all the ingredients together. The end.

As if. This is me we're talking about. It wouldn't be me if I didn't have some cheffing disaster.

OK, so I got home from the store about 7:30pm with the cream cheese. Since I needed it soft, I didn't put the cream cheese in the fridge. It was about 10:30pm when I finally got around to making the dip. 3 hours should be long enough to "soften", in fact, I was kind of wondering if the cream cheese would still be OK to eat. I was wrong... at least about the cream cheese being soft.

I put the cream cheese in the bowl, added the Ranch packet and attempted to stir. It wasn't going well... Hmmm... what can I do?A potato masher? I don't think so. A fork? No, that wont work either. I know! The mixer! Well, loyal readers... let me just tell you, the mixer was NOT the way to go. As you can see from the picture, all it really did was cake all the cream cheese in the mixing sticks. :o|

Once I scraped the cream cheese from the mixers and decided to add the rest of the ingredients... maybe they will somehow make it easier to mix... and it did. :o) (Either that or the mixers actually softened it up.)

I refrigerated it over night and served it up poolside the next afternoon with some Wheat Thins. It was quite a hit. We kept having to put the lid back on it so we could control ourselves and not gobble it up in 5 minutes. It was delicious and I absolutely recommend this recipe!!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Photo Canvas

Disclosure: I took a week off before starting my new job on the 17th of this month. It was fabulous. I think I could really get used to being a housewife. I got stuff done and didn't mind doing the chores I hate to do when I am working.

The good news is, during that week, I got several projects done and a few new recipes cheffed. The bad news is I am getting ready to go to training out of town, so the likelihood of me keeping up momentum and blogging in the next three weeks is slim to none. Therefore, I will space out the blogs I do have and will hopefully have some fun stuff to blog when I get home.

Ok, on to the Photo Canvas... 

My good friend Teenah over at Teenah's Projects inspired this project. She did her's with fabric, I did mine with scrapbook paper.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Canvas (I used 8x8)
  • Scrapbook paper (I used 12x12 and trimmed)
  • Photo (I used 4x6)
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge brush
  • Exacto Knife
  • Embellishment (Optional - I thought it was a little plain without it.)
Don't forget to incoporate the help
of the family pet!
Here's what to do:
  1. I did a layer of Mod Podge on the front of the canvas and carefully adhered the paper to the canvas. 
  2. After letting that dry for a couple minutes, I cut two sides of the corners vertically and folded the paper over the sides and adhered it with Mod Podge.
  3. Allow that to dry and trim the edges of the paper around the canvas with the Exacto knife. 
  4. Put a layer of Mod Podge all over the paper and glue your picture down.
  5. After that dries, put a couple more coats of Mod Podge all over the canvas and photo. Don't forget to do a couple more coats on the sides too - just to be sure to seal the deal. 
  6. My embellishment had it's own sticky on the back of it so I used that to adhere it to the canvas. In hindsight, I should have put it down when the last coat of Mod Podge had just been applied to help hold the stick.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Peach Treat


This was a tasty, refreshing little treat but waaaay too much for my family of two. Next time I will definitely half the recipe.

Of course I screwed up the recipe. SMH, I really don't know how I manage sometimes! LOL Check out A Little Tipsy for the original recipe. Below is how mine turned out. It went a little something like this:

Photo borrowed from A Little Tipsy
Ingredients
  •  2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 pkg graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/3 cups oats
  • 7-8 large peaches 
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice 
  •  Cool Whip 
Directions
  • Mix graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, oats, and butter together. Put a layer in the bottom of your pan, saving some to sprinkle on top. 
  • Mix the lemon juice with the can of sweetened condensed milk. Pour over the peaches and mix until peaches are coated. 
  • Pour peach mixture into pan over crust. 
  • Top with Cool Whip
  • Sprinkle with left over crust mixture. 
Mine looked more like this one.
Photo borrowed from A Little Tipsy
So the original recipe called for whipping cream, I am assuming to make your own whipped topping. My oversight of that ingredient and getting Cool Whip instead is sort of comical. It was probably a Freudian slip. See, I love Cool Whip. I have ever since I was a kid. If we have it, I will sneak a spoon full from time to time and have even been known to have a bowl of it like ice cream. I LOVE it.

Anyway, it turned out fine. I assume not much different than the original recipe. The lemon was a little overbearing on the first day, but seemed to have not been as bad the second day. It doesn't have a very long shelf life so either eat it fast or prepare it for when you are planning to have company.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

I WAS FEATURED!

And just in the nick of time.
In Designer Jeans

See, I have a love hate relationship with blogging. It's A LOT of work and I feel like I don't blog consistently enough and (by no one's fault but my own) my following is lacking. Not that I blog just to get followers, but (no discredit to the few followers I have) if I don't have readers, what's the point? I guess to catalog for my own reference, but I think it would be a lot easier to just keep a journal if that was the case.

I have had this week off work and while I have been able to do a lot more things for blog material, I seem to have even less time to blog so I was actually contemplating deleting the blog. And then, I got the email that I had been featured and it kept me going... at least for a little while longer. LOL

Stop, Look, & Link Feature

Anniversary Card Project

I'm curious, do any of you have the same love hate relationship with blogging that I do?

Friday, September 14, 2012

CrockPot Pot Roast Success!



I originally saw this recipe over at my good friend's blog, Teenah's Projects.

I have not had the most success with these CrockPot recipes. Most of the time they're too salty or the chicken has a weird texture - it's always something. I had kind of sworn off the Crock unless it was a soup recipe. Not really sure what made me try this recipe, especially since it wasn't really a hit at Teenah's house, but I am glad I tried it.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp EVOO
  • Pot Roast (2-5 lbs)
  • 1 Envelope Brown Gravy
  • 1 Envelope Ranch Dressing (I used about half a packet)
  • 1 Envelope Italian Dressing (I used about half a packet)
  • Potatoes (I used red potatoes)
  • Baby Carrots
  • 1.5 cups water
I have never cooked a roast before and don't really do much with red meat so as I stood in the meat aisle of the store, I realized I had no clue what to buy, so I phoned a friend - or rather, my mom. We decided on a chuck roast. While talking to my mom, she said it would be better to coat the meat in flour and brown it. The original recipe doesn't say to do that, so I suppose that step is optional. 

Directions
  • Heat EVOO on medium heat.
  • Mix the flour and pepper and coat meat.
  • Brown meat on both sides. 
  • While browning the meat, put enough baby carrots to cover the bottom of the Crock. Cut up potatoes and throw them on top of the carrots. I just eyeballed the amount.
  • Mix together the enveloped seasonings and sprinkle a small layer over the carrots and potatoes. 
  • Place the meat on top of the carrots and potatoes and sprinkle the rest of the seasonings over the meat. 
  • Pour water over meat.
  • Cook on high for the 1st two hours, turning the meat over after an hour. 
  • Cook on low for another 5 hours. (The original recipe says to cook on low for 6-10 hours, but I had a think chunk of meat so I turned it up a bit to ensure we weren't eating dinner at 10pm.)
I  immediately doubted that this was going to turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a little bland, so perhaps I withheld too much of the Ranch and Italian seasonings, but I have had this combo before and it ended up super salty so I was hesitant to use the full amounts as suggested.

Overall it was delish and the only thing it was missing was warm French bread slathered with butter to sop up the extra sauce. I will definitely make this again when the weather gets colder. :o)


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lemon Buttercream Frosting


We recently had another good friend celebrate a six year anniversary so, of course, I wanted to bake her a cake! We asked her wife what her favorite cake was and she said lemon cake with lemon frosting. Easy enough, right? Perhaps... but this is me we're talking about. Nothing is ever easy and it's always an adventure.

I was doing this last minute so I just bought a boxed lemon cake mix and was going to make the frosting myself. My intent was to make this one, but somehow missed the frosting that was an ingredient so I didn't get any at the store. Before I even started making it, I was wondering how 2 cups of powdered sugar and a quarter cup butter was going to turn into frosting, but I have taught myself to trust the process... so I started blending the two and immediately knew my first instinct was right. So I looked at the recipe again and that was when I realized I needed frosting. It was already 11:30 at night and I didn't want to go back to the store so I improvised.

I had also pinned this recipe which I knew didn't call for frosting because it needed 3.5 cups of powdered sugar.

Ingredients

How to make it

  • mix the butter, lemon zest and vanilla together, making sure all the lumps are gone.
  • add the milk, and quickly cream it into the butter mixture.
  • by the 1/2 cup, mix in the sugar.
  • once the sugar is all in the bowl, cream on "high" for two minutes. (I use this time to clean up)
  • mix in lemon juice.
  • spread heartily and enjoy!
Photo courtesy of Group Recipes
The other recipe only called for 1/4 cup of butter so I had to get creative in softening the other 1/4 cup of butter.

Then I got to the part with milk and ours was a little expired. I happened to have a can of  Sweetened Condensed Milk so I threw in a quarter cup of that, but it was too thick. I don't think I have ever worked with Sweetened Condensed Milk before - it was not what I was expecting. I didn't want to keep adding that so I said screw it and added a quarter cup of the couple day old milk, crossing my fingers that it wasn't bad. None of us got sick and it got rave reviews! Whew!