Friday, March 18, 2011

Rockstar, Kite, Picture Day

Well, today is a very busy day full of fun for AJ. This week at school has been Reading Week, with the theme Reading Rocks. So she has had a specific task to complete every day this week, kind of like the Diva Days, and has loved every minute of it.

Today however was a day that seemed to be a little bit of bad planning on the schools part. Not at first, but as I started writing things on the calender I noticed that today was getting a little too full. The theme for today was Rockstar Day, where the kids get to dress as their favorite Rockstar (within dress code) including hair and makeup. Ahhhhh to any 5 year old girls getting to wear makeup to school is comparable to getting to take the car when you are a teen. Then we got another notice, today is Kite Day! For the last 30-45 minutes of school the kids will be going outside to fly kites. Parents are encouraged to come and play. How fun! A little much on one day when they are already going to be hyped up from the Rockstar clothes but doable. And then the final notice came. Spring picture day will be held on March 18th. No biggie. But as I walked to the calender to put the entry on I noticed that March 18th was already a little full. Oops. Big Oops. So now we will have a school picture of my beautiful AJ in her Hannah Montana outfit with sparkly makeup on, she'll love it. And I'll deal. Gotta love thoughtful scheduling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TAT - April is coming fast

April is fast approaching and I am super excited. I have so many fun things planned, it's going to be great. I have plans to go to my hometown and spend a girls weekend with my Mom and sisters (sis-in-law, step-sister, and sister-of-the-heart) and going to a tea party, it should be great. Then later in the month we all pile into a "slow airplane" as my kids call them and head to the South to my husbands hometown for a visit to see his family and see my soon to be born niece. So today I have been thinking about those visits and what I want to do when I am there.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Write it out Wednesday

I am so excited to do this day of the week! I love pretty stationary, stamps and real mail. I am hoping that some of the people that I send things to feel the same way. There is something really exciting about opening your mail box and seeing an envelope with your name hand written on it. I have already planned out how I will be choosing who I send a note/letter to each week, at least to start out. I also have decided that I will not limit myself to one letter a week. If I get replies to my notes I'll write back as soon as possible.

This week I started without any cool stuff, no beautiful paper that is a design that will make people think of me when they see it, but give me a while and I will have this down. Now all I need is a beautiful antique writing desk to go with my new venture. :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Husband Sort of a Meal

Tonight I made Country Fried Steak and Smashed Baked Potatoes with Gravy. It isn't the kind of meal that I made very often for a couple of reasons. First of all it isn't very healthy and second, well it isn't very healthy. I guess that's just one reason, but it's so important that it feels like it should be two.

I took a ton of pictures, mostly because this recipe isn't terribly exact when it comes to amounts. So here we go with the ingredients.

Smashed Baked Potatoes

3-4 Medium sized baked potatoes, these were baked 3 days ago.
1/3 c. Milk
1/3 c. Sour Cream
1/4 c. Butter
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Country Fried Steak

4 cube steaks, roughly 1-1.25 lbs.
1.5 c + 4 T All-Purpose Flour
1/2 c Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2 Large Eggs
3 T water
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
1/2 c Oil for cooking
6 T Bacon Grease, if you don't save this you can do it without, but it tastes so much better with.
2 c Milk

Preheat the oven to 350*. Cut the potatoes in half.

Scoop out or peel the potatoes and place them into an oven safe pan.

Use a fork to mash to potatoes, you aren't going for really smooth just mostly smashed up.

Add the milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mix well. Taste it while you are doing this, you will probably need more salt and pepper than you think.

Cut the butter into 1/4 in cubes and mix in.

Cover and bake for 15 min. Take out and stir in the melted butter bake uncovered for another 15 min. Shockingly enough this is the amount of time it takes to cook the Country Fried Steak. Isn't it cool how that works out.

In three separate container mix the following coating mixtures.

1) 1c. flour with 1t sea salt and a good amount of black pepper, don't under season there is nothing worse than a flavorless coating.

2) 2 large eggs and 3T water, whip up well it should be uniform in color and thickness.

3) 1/2 c flour and 1/2 c Italian bread crumbs

In a large skillet start heating the oil. Use about 2 T of bacon grease and enough oil to have about 1/8 - 1/4 inch in the bottom of the pan. Heat this over medium heat, not too hot or you will burn your steaks instead of having the gorgeous golden coating.

I cut the cube steaks in half so that I have 8 pieces that are 2-3 oz a piece. Then coat them in this order. Flour, egg, then breadcrumb mixture. Personally I like to only coat what will fit into the pan at one time, so I usually coat them 2 or 3 at a time.

Carefully place your coated steaks in the pan one at a time, if the oil is the correct temperature it should bubble gently around the edges as it goes in. If there is no bubbling your heat is too low, if it is snapping and popping then it is too hot.

Cook on one side until you can see the juices coming out the top and the bottom is a golden brown, 3-5 minutes.

Flip over and cook for 3-5 min or until done on both sides.

Remove pieces to a cooling rack with paper towel underneath to catch any excess grease, this will keep them crispy and avoid having them sit and re-absorb and grease that should drain off.
Cook all the pieces that you have.
Once all of the pieces are done you can either remove all of the grease from the pan, I pour mine into a can from the recycling box, then wipe out the pan with a paper towel. If you don't want to do that you can just get a clean pan.
Put 4 T of bacon grease into the pan, if you don't have the bacon grease you can use butter.

Once the grease is melted add 4 T of flour and stir together.

It should look roughly like this, but a little more uniform than mine does. Add a good amount of salt and pepper, again there is nothing worse than under seasoned gravy. Cook for 1 minute to help get rid of the taste of raw flour.

Slowly add milk with one hand while whisking quickly and thoroughly with the other. Gravy reaches it's thickest point when it comes to a boil so make sure that it is boiling before you stop cooking it. You won't have a good idea of how think it will be until it is heated through. Remember to add the milk slowly, you can always thin gravy but it is a huge ordeal to thicken it. I did not get a picture of this part of a process because I don't have three hands.
Plate your dish. I served mine with sweet peas and strawberry iced tea.
Note 1: This gravy recipe is pretty much a general one that you can use for everything. The bacon grease gravy is what I like on biscuits, although DH like sausage gravy which is a little different. It's a tough process to learn but once you do it opens a ton of doors in the kitchen.

Note 2: I know a lot of people think that I am crazy for keeping bacon grease in my fridge, but it is amazingly flavorful and infinitely useful. I don't use it often or in large quantities because it is so high in fat, but I really do think that you should try it. I keep mine in the sugar bowl that came with my dishes.
Note 3: This meal fed 2 very hungry men, me, a tween, and 3 kids.

Take a Picture Tuesday - part 2

Drum Roll Please.....

The first rose this season started to unfurl today.

Take a Picture Tuesday. part 1

Ok, I am going to start this post with a warning. I am not a professional photographer, I am not a skilled amateur, heck I think that my 5 year will pass me in skill in the next year or so. I know that composition and light are important however no matter how hard I try I can't seem to actually improve on them in my pictures. So I will take a picture of something that makes me feel something, but I don't promise it will be a good one.

Take a picture Tuesday. I have actually been thinking about this one all week. What should my very first picture be of? Should I take a new one or just share an old one that I already have. Do I share something or someone? If I do share someone there is the whole internet safety thing to think about, do I really want pictures of my kids on a public blog. AAHHHH this wasn't supposed to be the hardest day of the challenge.

So my decision. I am not quite ready to share pictures of my kiddo's I don't know if I ever will be. So sorry if you were wanting to see what my princesses but it won't be today. Then I thought about going through all of my old photos and picking one of them, but that felt like cheating. So I got out my trusty PHD (push-here-dummy) camera and tromped outside to find something that inspired me. I turned the camera on, it flashed a battery dead icon at me, and turned it self off. Well, that was productive.

So now the battery is charging and I am still totally unsure of what's going to show up as the picture here in a few hours.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Make-Up Monday

Oh where to start, there were so many things that I let get away from me this weekend but it was all with good reason. I didn't do laundry at all this weekend instead I weeded for HOURS and washed my car, so it wasn't that I was being lazy I just thought that my time would be better spent outside in the beautiful weather.

So today I did laundry, scrubbed the kitchen table and chairs and the stove. So all is going well in my little world. I also plan to get on a few new recipes for you guys, I've been slacking in that area. The next one I will do is a quinoa stuffed bell pepper. Yum!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Because I'm Brilliant like that....

Sometimes I feel like I am my own worst enemy. I get these brilliant plans and act on them and then when I am past the point of no return I realize I have messed something up. I did that tonight. It isn't the hugest problem that I created, it is just going to be something that bothers my CDO (OCD alphabetized) brain. So the story.

I have a home-based business. I do home parties for a well known company. Tonight I decided that it would be a wonderful idea to get my whole year mapped out. I would look up all of the monthly specials for hosts and guests for the rest of the year. I would write them in my calender in the appropriate month so that when I am booking shows I would be able to tell people what the specials were in the coming months. I would cross check the specials with the wish lists from my former hosts and set up an e-mail schedule so that I can tell them how to earn what they wanted. I worked diligently for over 2 hours, wrote everything in my most beautiful handwriting so that it was attractive to look into my calender, it was amazing. Then in the last moment I noticed something, something important, something I should have looked at hours ago, something it should have occurred to me to check when I started. What was that you ask? The year. I did all of this work and I used the specials calender from 2010 not 2011.

So now what do I have? A calender full of writing that is useless and 2 hours of wasted time, well now probably closer to 3 since I have been beating myself up over it for almost an hour. Yippie! Happy Sunday night to this Diva. I think it's bedtime, yup, definitely bedtime.


Spiritual Sunday

Today we went to church but the story is oh so much more complicated than that. So of course I'll share, I do so love sharing. :-)

It all starts last night when AJ was WIDE AWAKE at 11pm, thank you afternoon nap. There is a reason why I have banned my 5 year old from taking afternoon naps, when she sleeps in the afternoon she wakes up way grumpy and then never goes to bed.

DH was up half the night getting sick with what the girls have had for the last three weeks. So when we woke up this morning there was a lot of doubt that we were going to church at all. DH went to the ER because he was having a really hard time breathing.

Well AJ woke up on time, and the ER was super fast (just a virus, wait it out, etc) so DH texted as he was leaving and said be ready to go in 10 min. When he sent this message we were all still in jammies, the girls had eaten but I hadn't. He wanted to go to the early service that we usually don't get to. So Super Mom kicked into high gear. I got both girls dressed, myself dressed and foundation done before he walking in the door. I got the girls hair done in 2 min flat (for both of them) And ran out the door. I finished my make-up in the car and we made it to church with exactly 30 seconds to spare!

As I was walking into the sanctuary the Pastor stopped me and asked if DH and I would like to officially join the church during the service. They had a group of people joining and he knew that we were interested so asked us to join them. I was SO glad that I had taken my make-up bag in the car with me, nothing like standing in front of 200 people half ready for the day.

The sermon was very good, and incredibly informative, Pastor D is going through the 7 days between Palm Sunday and Easter one day per Sunday for the season of Lent, it has been great so far.

So that's my story about Spiritual Sunday, we went to church, but let me tell you that was a huge accomplishment.