Thursday, September 25, 2014

I've Come to Terms With the Fact That I'm Annoying

     Over the years, I've had to come to terms with the fact that some people find me annoying.  It's cool.  Not everyone can handle my brand of cheeriness.  I'm no stranger to being told that my happy-go-lucky morning-person attitude is revolting.  Probably because I heard it every morning from my mom as I tried to serenade her out of bed.  Friends at school would groan when I would be bouncing around at 6 am.  Coworkers would roll their eyes and keep walking when I would exclaim "Good Morning!" at 6:30 am.  My own daughter tells me to "go away" when she hears her door squeak open on a typical weekday morning.  I get it, but these days I have managed to find a whole new crowd of people to piss off with my happy.  I now have patients!

     This past week while working at the nursing home for school, I was asked to help feed one of the dementia patients who was not feeling too well that day.  I walked over to this sweet-looking elderly woman, who was holding her head in her hands and not even acknowledging that her food had been getting cold for the past 15 minutes.  I pulled up a chair next to her, sat down, and introduced myself.  The introduction was met with a groan, which was expected.  The woman clearly wasn't feeling well, so I gently asked her if she wanted to eat.  She shook her head no.  I prodded a little more, gently of course, and said that she needed to eat to feel better.  To that she snapped, "I'll eat when I'm darn good and ready to eat."

     Now, this was the first time my happy smile had been met with a grumpy retort, but I shrugged it off and walked over to the worker at the facility and told her that the woman clearly didn't want to eat.  She told me to go see if I could get her to at least pick her head up.  I steeled myself for more combat and return to my chair by the lady's side.  I asked again if she would like to try a little bit of her food.  She merely groaned at me.  That's when I was struck by a stroke of brilliance!  I would get her chatting with me, gain her trust, and then get her to eat!  Yeah, that would work.  So I began enthusiastically asking about her BINGO game I had seen her partaking in earlier in the evening.  That was met with more groans.  I asked about her family: more groaning.  I asked about her roommate, how long she'd been there, what she liked to do, anything to get the woman to acknowledge me and stop groaning.  Well, it sort of worked.  She stopped groaning.  In fact she stopped acknowledging me at all.  She just sat there with her head in her hands, ignoring her food.

     At this point I started to feel really bad for her.  I knew she needed to eat, but I knew she was probably getting sick of me flitting around her like an annoying fly, so I decided to quit beating around the bush and tackle the problem head-on.  That's when I asked if she wasn't feeling well, to which she replied that she wasn't.  I asked if she wanted to go lay down, and she said she did. That's when I offered a proposition: if she would eat a little bit I would help her to her room to rest.  I thought I had finally convinced her because she finally picked her head up and looked me in the eyes!  Then she said, "Would you just shut up?"  My classmate, who was sitting nearby feeding another patient, busted out laughing, as did the worker.  Not missing a beat I replied with a grin on my face, "I'll shut up if you eat for me."  (Yes, I was desperate at this point.)  To which, the patient simply put her head back in her hands and sighed.

     After my dismal failure with that particular patient, the worker rescued me, laughing that I would probably get hit if I kept trying to make her eat, and asked me to go feed another patient.  Something about the twinkle in her eye when she told me which patient I should feed next made me think I was being set up to fail again.  Then I saw my next patient.  She looked like she had led a rather rough life, and her wild eyes suggested she was a scrapper, so I knew I was in for it when I sat down next to her.  I introduced myself to her, and she looked at me like I was crazy when I offered to help feed her.  The guy across from us confirmed my fears about her when he said, "Now, don't go fighting this one, she's here to help you."  Great!  Well she couldn't communicate verbally, but I could tell right away by her body language the last thing she wanted to do was patronize me by eating that nasty-looking, foul-smelling, glorified baby food, but then I had another stroke of brilliance.  Eyeing the ice cream on her tray, I made her a deal:  eat your baby food, and I'll give you some ice cream.  Expecting the same reaction I had gotten from the previous patient, I was so relieved to see this patient break out into a huge grin and nod her head in agreement to my deal.  From then on out we were the best of friends, cracking up and laughing at each other, even when she threw her water across the table just for giggles.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

     Well now that you've sat through another silly story of mine, I'll share some lunch ideas :-)

Monday: Ballerina Bento Box

      This idea is straight out of Everyday Bento, which I love!  It has such cute ideas for be not boxes for your kids, and even a section about adult bentos.  The ballerina slippers come with a side of carrot sticks, cheese cubes, raisins, grape tomatoes, and cucumber "wands".

Tuesday: Sandwich on a Stick
(or if you're Jose Jalapeño, "Sandwich on a steek!")

     I don't know why, but every time I try to pack my daughter a simple ham sandwich, she won't eat it.  She complains that by the time she gets it at lunch the bread is soggy.  So, I decided to send her to school with these little "sandwich on a stick" kabobs, and she loved them!  She told me the bread wasn't soggy at all, which makes no sense to me, but whatever, she ate it.   Simply thread some bread cut into cubes, some ham rolled up, and some cubed cheese onto a skewer, and there you go.  I added some pickles (her favorite), some tomatoes and broccoli, half of a banana, and a bit of Ranch to dip her veggies in.  Typically I'm not big on Ranch for her veggies; I feel like it defeats the purpose of eating healthy veggies if you douse them in preservative-filled, saturated-fatty, creamy sauce, but she asked for it specifically, and I knew it would gather to eat more of her veggies than usual, so what the heck!

Wednesday: Princess Quesadillas

      This was a super simple lunch.  I made ham and cheese quesadillas for her that morning, and use cookie cutters to make the different shapes.  I cut some cucumbers into cute little hearts, added some grape tomatoes, and gave her half of an apple to go with it.  She ate all of this one too.

Thursday: Breakfast for Lunch

      I love breakfast for dinner.  We have that at least twice a month.  I like it because I typically have more time in the evening to make all the things I really wanted to eat for breakfast.  Plus, J's more awake, and more likely to help.  Well, this is the same basic concept.  I took a waffle, and cut it into strips for Monkey to dip in the syrup I provided (I only gave her a little bit, so her teacher wouldn't kill me for giving her a sugar rush at school).  I added some turkey bacon, a boiled egg, half of a banana, and some edamame.  Yes, the edamame has nothing to do with breakfast, but you know I like to throw a little green into her lunches.

Friday: Asian Chicken Salad
      This one is actually used some leftovers from the previous night's dinner of Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps from SkinnyTaste (recipe to follow).  I chopped up some lettuce, added the leftover chicken, and supplied the homemade Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce in these adorable little sauce holders to use as a dressing.  I then packed Monkey some crackers, tomatoes, and half of a banana as sides.  This was another one caused her to clean out her box, which makes Mommy happy :-)

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
1 TBS soy sauce, plus 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce (or more of the regular soy sauce)
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
pepper to taste
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, ground
1/4 cup water chestnuts, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 TBS diced scallions
6 iceberg lettuce leaves, rinsed

Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce
4 TBS Hoisin Sauce
1/2 tsp chili sauce (I use Sriracha)
1 TBS warm water

Place dried mushrooms in a bowl filled with hot water to soften a few minutes.  Remove stems and chop fine.  Set aside.

Combine soy sauce(s), oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, rice wine, sugar, and pepper in a separate bowl.

Combine ground chicken, mushrooms, and water chestnuts in a new bowl.  Add soy sauce mixture.  Mix and let marinate for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix ingredients for Spicy Hoisin Dipping sauce, and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat.  Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds.  Add chicken mixture, stir fry until brown, breaking chicken mixture up as it cooks, about 4-5 minutes.

Serve by spooning 1/4 cup of chicken into each leaf.  Top with scallions and hoisin sauce.

Enjoy :-)

Friday, September 12, 2014

And That, Kids, is Why You Don't Let Your License Expire

     My birthday is July 4.  It came and went, and I celebrated it, and I had a good day, and I completely forgot that it had been 4 years since I got my license.  It expired, but I was in the middle of Adult Health I, and I didn't notice until it had been expired for about two weeks.  Being the responsible adult that I am, I procrastinated another week before making time to go to the DMV to get a new one.  I sat there for about 30 minutes before realizing that I had left my old license in my book sack at home.  I went home and decided to come back another day, as it was already afternoon at that point.  The next time I had time to go was about a week later, and I had been much more on the dot about calling ahead to make sure I had all the paperwork I needed.  Unfortunately, it must have not been the right papers, because the crabby lady behind the desk threw my papers back at me (literally) and told me to bring different papers.  After that, of course I wasn't too thrilled about going back, so I think it was about the second week of August that I finally dragged myself back in there.  J came with me at this point because his license was about to expire.  This time it seemed like smooth sailing.  I had not forgotten anything this time.  I had the correct paperwork, and we were only had to wait about 20 minutes for our turn.  The guy behind the desk was nice, and didn't throw things, but then he told me that there was a flag on my license and that I'd have to call the Louisiana DMV to get it removed.

     At this point I just decided that I was done with this, and I started venting my frustration to J about the injustice of ever having to need a license to drive in the first place, and then having to have said license to drive, even though I obviously knew how to drive, since I've been doing it since I was 17.  Unfortunately, venting to J doesn't get much accomplished, but I felt better.  Then I called the Louisiance DMV only to find out that the flag was on my license because the car I had sold 2 years ago didn't have insurance.  You know, because I had sold it!  Well that took another week to get removed, because not only did I sell it, but the guy I sold it to had totaled it, so none of us had kept the paperwork for it.  Because it had been totaled!!!  Anyway I finally got the flag off my license, and I went back the next week to get my license.  Because it was September by this point, I had to take the test.  And I frickin' failed it!!!!! 

     Leaving the DMV for the fourth time without a license, I just couldn't help but laugh.  (As I drove home, btw, license be damned!)  I'm 25 years old, and I failed the driver's exam.  In my defense, one of the questions asked, "If you are driving 55mph on the interstate, how much space should be between you and the car in front of you? a)200 ft b)300ft c)400 ft d)500ft"   My thought process was, Why the hell would I be driving 55mph on the interstate???  At any rate, I tucked my tail between my legs, and I asked the women behind the desk for a driver's manual.  I spent that night highlighting the fact that it's 400ft if you're going 55mph on the interstate (not that I ever drive that speed in order to put it into practice).  I can also tell you that your horn should be heard up to 200ft away.  And all that useless knowledge added nothing to my life, but I finally got my license.  Fifth time's the charm!

     Now that I've gotten that off of my chest, how about some fun kids lunches to lighten the mood?

Rose Bento Box

This box is very similar to the DIY Lunchables I posted about a while back, but instead of ham, I used turkey pepperoni to make the rose shape.  Basically if you fold several slices of pepperoni in half, and layer them around the outside of a cupcake liner, working your way in, you form a rose-like shape.  The final pepperoni in the middle is folded in half and rolled before placed in the center of the "rose".    I served it with crackers, cheese, pickles, pretzels, grapes and broccoli.

DIY Wraps

This one was quick and easy.  I simply put ham, cheese, sliced tomatoes, and tortillas in one part of the box for Monkey to make her own wraps.  I served them with cherry tomatoes, grapes, and carrots.  To make it a little more fun, I drew faces on the tortillas using food markers.

Elephant Sandwiches

      This was another simple one.  All I did was make a ham sandwich and cut it out into elephant shapes using my sandwich cutters.  I added the eyes and mouths using food markers.  Next I threw in some pretzels, a boiled egg, some grapes, and some grape tomatoes.

Breakfast Bento Box

     This one took a little more planning.  I baked these breakfast muffins using the same recipe I posted for Bacon Jalapeño Cheesy Bread.  Simply put the batter a muffin tin and adjust the baking time to about 35 minutes.  This recipe makes 12 muffins.  I threw one in Monkey's box with a banana, watermelon, broccoli (okay, not breakfast, but still healthy), and a boiled egg decorated to look like a happy sunshine.

Chicken Salad Bento

     This box was very easy too.  I shipped Monkey off to school with this yummy lunch of chicken salad (for the recipe, click here), crackers, cubed cheese, celery sticks, and half of an apple.

Pretzel Kabob Bento

     This one was a bit more fun than those simple kabobs I posted before because Monkey can eat the stick too.  I just threw in some pretzel sticks, ham, cheese cubes (in the fun princess box), grape tomatoes, and cucumbers (in cute little star shapes).  

     Now I have to go.  I have clinical.  And yes, I'm legally able to drive there now :-P

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mary had a Little Lamb, Whose Meat was Tender and Delicious

     It never fails.  Every time I get the wild hair to take both my husband and my daughter to the commissary for groceries, I wonder if I'm a glutton for punishment or if I simply block out the memories of how horrible the last time was.  Thankfully, this time the car didn't magically disappear on me, but I do think my daughter is permanently scarred from the experience.  Let me fill you in on the conversation that took place in the meat section.

Monkey:  Daddy, what's that?
J: That's veal.  It's a type of meat.
Monkey: What's veal?
J: Well, it's baby lamb that was killed when it was really young.
Me (only hearing the tail end of that statement):  What on earth are you telling her?  Don't tell her stuff like that.
At this point I noticed a random onlooker stifling giggles.
J: Well it's true!
Monkey:  Mommy!  Do they really make veal out of baby lambs?
Me: No, of course not!
J: Yes they do! Don't lie to her.
Me (whispering):  It's not a lie; veal is actually baby cows.  They use the babies, because the meat is more tender.
J (to Monkey):  I'm sorry, kiddo.  Mommy's right.  It's not baby lamb.  It's baby cows that they kill for their soft meat.
Monkey: crying over sweet baby cows being killed for their meat
Me: Oh my goodness!  Are you freakin' kidding me?  Why would you tell her that?
Random passerby is now outright laughing.
J:  What?  She'll figure it out eventually.
Me: You're going to turn her into a vegetarian!

     At this point Monkey was crying/whining over the fate of baby cows; I was flustered and worried about my child's sanity, and the random passerby walked by and commented, "that's awesome", which of course, encouraged J to do it again with the remaining products in the meat section.  Someone, please remind me next pay day to leave one or both of them at home!

     On a less disturbing note, couple of weeks ago I posted a week's worth of lunch ideas for little ones.  Well I think it's time I share another.  Here's a week of yummy, healthy lunches for your kiddo.

Monday: Hawaiian Kabob Bento

     For a bit of a tropical twist on the Ham and Cheese Kabobs I shared last time, try these by threading diced ham, cubed mozzarella cheese, and pineapple chunks on a wooden skewer.  I added some pretzels, chopped cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and black grapes as sides.

Tuesday: Under the Sea Sandwich Box

     This is my favorite so far.  No, it's not as flawless as the original that was my inspiration, but I was proud of it.  (I know; I need a life.) It's a ham sandwich that I cut into the shape of an octopus using a pair of meat scissors.  The head and two front arms are all one piece, but the remaining limbs were cut out separately and arranged so that they resembled an 8-legged octopus.  I added the spots using bits of grape tomatoes.  I cut the eyes and mouth from a cucumber, using the peel for the green pupils and the mouth.  Next I used a cookie cutter to cut out 4 dolphins from watermelon.  Then I drew a swirly design on a boiled egg using food markers to resemble a conch shell.  Lastly, I threw in some goldfish, and voila! Under the sea fun!

Wednesday: Tuna Fish Sandwich

     As cheesy as this one was, it made me giggle when I thought of it.  To make the fish I used one whole English muffin, and another English muffing cut to look like a tail using a heart-shaped cookie cutter.  I filled the sandwich with some tuna salad.  I sent Monkey to school with the sandwich and a few sides that aren't pictured.

Thursday: Not-so-sushi Tuna Rolls

     I like this one because it's something I would fix for myself, but Monkey liked it too.  I made two rolls, using one tortilla each.  I layered some julienned cucumbers on the tortilla, and then spread the tuna salad on top.  I rolled the tortilla and sliced it like a sushi roll.  I added some cheese cubes, grapes, grape tomatoes, snow peas, and broccoli as sides.

Friday: Rainbow Bento

     I thought that this bright, colorful box was just the thing to help Monkey end her week at school on a high note.  The bottom of the box held grape tomatoes, a bit of corn, sliced carrots, broccoli, and black grapes.  The top layer held colorful goldfish, an eggs dotted with food markers, and ham and cheese on an English muffin with a fun rainbow drawn on top by yours truly.

     When I'm not packing lunches or attempting to repair the damage to my child's psyche caused by her father's frankness, I'm usually trying to come up with meals for my family.  I like to do one meal each week without meat to cut down on the grocery bill, but since J is such a carnivore, it's not always easy to find things that he'll truly enjoy.  Tonight, I think I succeeded, since he ate 3 servings, and then fussed at me for putting the rest in the refrigerator for later.

Penne with Roasted Marsala Mushrooms
From "Quick from Scratch Pasta"
Serves 4-6

1 lb mushrooms, cut in halves or quarters depending on size (I used baby bella mushrooms) 
2 TBS cooking oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry Marsala
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 TBS tomato paste
1 TBS butter
3/4 lb penne pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a roasting pan or dutch oven, toss the mushrooms with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes; some liquid will remain in the pan.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add penne, and cook until just done, about 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the mushrooms from the oven, and transfer them to a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir in garlic and Marsala.  Simmer until liquid is almost evaporated, about 4 minutes.  Add the broth and tomato paste and simmer until about 1/4 cup of liquid remains, about 2 minutes longer.  Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the butter and remove from heat.

Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce and parsley.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Why I Took The Challenge

     By now most everyone has heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  If not, it basically started as a challenge for people to either donate money to the ALS Association or dump a bucket of ice cold water on their heads.  It has since evolved into more of donate money to ALS and dump a bucket of ice cold water over your head to raise awareness for the cause.  Now, usually I don't participate in what's trending or even pay attention to it, but then I happened to click on the video of George W. Bush's Ice Bucket Challenge, and I decided to google ALS.  I had never heard of ALS, but I have heard of Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is the same thing.  This is a horrible disease in which the patient slowly and progressively loses motor neurons and with it, the ability to move parts of their bodies.  There is no cure right now, and according to the ALS website,, there is only one drug  that has been approved by the FDA to slow the progression of this disease.  The whole reason behind raising awareness and donating to this foundation is to raise the funds for further research so that maybe one day there will be a drug that slows the progression enough to extend these individuals' life by years instead of months.  Or maybe one day we will even be able to find a cure for this degenerative, debilitating disease.

     Since this challenge's main way of spreading has been social media, it's almost expected that there would be negativity.  There's always someone out there who doesn't get it, or doesn't know all the facts, and wants to make a mockery of a cause.  This is just a sad fact of our society today.  And yeah, there are those out there who have taken the Ice Bucket Challenge without a clue as to what it's about or why they're throwing a bucket of ice over each other's heads, but I truly believe those types of people are in the minority.  The more videos of these challenges that get posted, the more likely someone is going to think, "What is this all about?" and head over to Google to find out what ALS is, and why they should donate.  I did, and maybe others will too.  And to those who say that you don't have to pour a bucket of ice water over your head to donate to charity, that's not the point.  You also don't have to dress all in pink and run a 5K.  There's no need to walk/run 5 km along a path marked with names of family, friends, and strangers who can no longer remember who you are or who they are.  You also don't have to wear wristbands with the emblem of a soldier carrying his wounded buddy to safety.  But if you do, if you dress in pink to run, or make note of all those names that line that 5K, or show off your Wounded Warrior Project bracelet, or even dump a bucket of cold ice water over your head, someone is going to want to know why.  They're going to ask, "What's that all about?", and that's the point.  That's what this is all about: bringing awareness to a plight that had once been in the shadows, and that is now in the limelight, getting the recognition and the funds they need to do something about it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

And for Dessert: Diabetes!

     It's no secret that my husband drives me insane.  I mean, I've given y'all several examples on this blog alone of how much he makes me question the reason I agreed to let him annoy me for the rest of my life.  But I think it's also fair to say that I would do anything for that crazy, slightly annoying husband of mine.  And apparently that's a fact he's not only discovered but has decided to exploit.  For example, today is his birthday.  A few weeks ago while I was writing up my grocery list, I asked him and Monkey to flip through my "Taste of Home: Fun Food" magazine to come up with ideas for her school lunches.  While flipping through the pages, she and J came across a rather elaborate picture of a cake decorated to look like the classic game, CandyLand.  J excitedly pointed the picture out to me and requested that I make it for him for his birthday.  I laughed, thinking he was joking, and said something witty that amounted to "no".  But then something happened.  He kept bringing up the cool CandyLand cake, and mentioning how much he liked it, and he'd throw in the fact that his birthday was coming up after all.  So what did I do?

     I made the darn cake for him!  I'll get to how to make your own in a minute, but in the mean time let me tell you what my sweet, but oh-so-chokable husband tells me as I'm buying the last bit of candy to make his dearest birthday wish complete.

Me:  "Hey baby, do you see any rock candy?"
J:  "No; you don't need that"
Me: "It's for your cake.  I wanted to include the Ice Palace, so I was going to use blue rock candy"
J:  "I don't know why you're even doing this"
Me:  "What do you mean?  This is the cake you've been asking for."
J:  "Yeah, I was just messing with you.  Then you ran with it, so I figured I'd let you."
Me: .......................................You can't strangle him in Walmart.  You can't strangle him in Walmart.  You can't strangle him in Walmart!

    Well, regardless of how he finagled me into making the cake, it's made now, so I might as well share a quick how-to with y'all.  Here's what you'll need:

Cake mix (can be any flavor; I used a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens for a White cake)
White icing
Green food coloring
Mini marshmallows
Rock candy (or Jolly Ranchers, crushed)
Chocolate cupcake, iced
2 mini snickers
4 ice cream cones (cut the tops off of 2 of them)
Blue cookie icing
Purple cookie icing
Black cookie icing
Multicolored sprinkles
Chocolate sprinkles
Cinnamon sprinkles
Sour Patch Kids (I used 4, one in each color as the "players")

    Bake your cake mix according to directions on back of the box for a 9x13 cake.  Let cool completely before icing.  Mix white icing and green food coloring in a medium sized bowl, use this to ice the cake.  Top cake with Starbursts, making sure to keep a pattern so no two colors are next to each other.  For "Mr. Mint"'s corner, arrange peppermints (or peppermint candy canes, if they're in season) in a cute pattern, and sprinkle cinnamon sprinkles around them.  Add an area for "Princess Lolly" by using a few crushed Jolly Ranchers to mark the spot.  Next add the lollipops or various sizes (I used 2 Dumdums, and 1 Blow Pop).  Next I added the chocolate cupcake (complete with chocolate fudge frosting and chocolate sprinkles) for "Chocolate Mountain".  I set a pair of mini Snickers next to the cupcake, one on each side, and sprinkled a few extra chocolate sprinkles around the base of the "Mountain".  Next I added a mini-marshmallow "bridge" between two of the rows of Starbursts.  Finally I erected the "CandyLand Castle" by inverting the 2 whole ice cream cones side-by-side, and then I placed one of the halved ones in front and one in the back, upside-down.  Next I added the windows and doors by using purple cookie icing.  Then I topped the castle off with blue cookie icing roofs.  I spread a rainbow of various-colored crushed Jolly Ranchers around the base of the "castle". Next I piped out the "Happy Birthday" on the Starbursts using black cookie icing.  Finally I sprinkled the entire cake with multi-colored sprinkles for good measure.

    There were two big bonuses for this cake: 1)  There really isn't a "right way" to decorate it.  If you look at the way CandyLand has changed over the years, you can really throw any type of candy on a cake and call it good.  2) Monkey was able to help, and we both enjoyed that. :-)

     To top it all off, J really enjoyed his Diabetes-inducing CandyLand Cake.  And I discovered that my husband turns into a Disney Princess when he makes his birthday wish before blowing out the candles.

     Anyone else see it?  Anyone?  No?  It's just me?  Fine!  Keep wishing, Babe.  Maybe one day your prince will come (but he probably won't make you awesome cakes).

Monday, August 18, 2014

What's for Lunch?

      One of my new favorite things is packing Monkey's school lunches.  I know, I need a life, but I just get a kick out of all the cute ideas I see floating around on Pinterest.  I also love when Monkey comes home and tells me things like, "Mommy, there were snails in my lunchbox".  It makes me feel good to know she's not only eating healthy, but that she's enjoying it too.  I will try to post each week's lunches on here to give other moms ideas.  So here is one week of fun lunches:

Monday: Ham and Cheese Kabobs

I actually already mention this one, but you're seeing it again.  Monkey's only been in school for a week or so, so I'm working with limited material here.  Anyway, pictured above are her Ham and Cheese kabobs, made up of cubed ham I had leftover from making Green Eggs and Ham, cubed Mozzarella, and grape tomatoes.  I added Veggie Chips, sugar snap peas, half a banana, and cucumbers cut into stars for her sides.  Plus a small container of Ranch for dipping, and she was all set. 

Tuesday: DIY Lunchables

This one is actually something I make for her rather often, even on the weekends (hence the lack of lunch box).  Instead of wasting money on those pre-packaged, preservative-filled boxes in the store, I make my own for Monkey.  She doesn't seem to mind.  This one used bologna, but you can use any deli meat, any type of cheese, any type of cracker, and you can even cut out fun little shapes if you're feeling creative.  Diversity!  That's the name of this game.  And of course I threw in a fruit and a veggie to go along with it.  

Wednesday: DIY Pizzas

I brought out the big guns early last week.  This one was by far Monkey's favorite!  I used one of those homemade English Muffins sliced in half for the two "pizza crusts".  I added a bit of pizza sauce to one of her containers.  Then I shredded some mozzarella for Monkey to put on top.  I used Turkey pepperoni to cut out little hearts for her to add to her mini pizzas.  Then I filled in the remaining containers with cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and cucumbers cut into hearts.  When she came home with this one, there was nothing left in the box!  

Thursday: Hello Kitty Sandwiches

This one was another hit.  Using these awesome sandwich cutter/stamps, I cut kitty faces from bologna and cheese to make these two open-faced sandwiches.  Again, I used an English muffin halved for the base of the sandwich.  I threw in some sugar snap peas, half of a banana, and cucumbers and halved cherry tomatoes tossed with Italian dressing.  

Friday: Ham Sandwiches

Okay, I got a little cheesy with this one.  I don't know if you can see it very well, but these ham sandwiches have little piggy faces (curtesy of those cute stamps I mentioned earlier).  I thought it was too funny not to resist, but J told me I was corny.  I think it's cute.  Anywho, these little piggy sandwiches are made up of two English muffins topped with tomato, lettuce, ham, and cheese.  For sides, Monkey enjoyed sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and grapes.  

     As you can see, I'm having a lot of fun with these things.  My sister asked me the other day what I was going to do when I go back to school, but I'm in denial.  I'm sure I'll come up with something.  Y'all just may not hear about it until my next break ;-)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Six Years Down, How Many More to Go?!

   Marriage is a crazy concept if you think  about it.  You're taking two people, who each have different life experiences, different perspectives, and different opinions, and basically telling them to put up with each other for the next 50-70 years.  The craziest part is that these two different people enter into this crazy pact by choice!  Although I wanted to be with J for the rest of my life, at 19 I don't think I really knew what I was getting into.  Then again, I don't think anyone does, regardless of their age on their wedding day.  It's just one of those things you don't know until you do it.  Well, six years ago today, I entered into the crazy commitment with J, and it's been a wild ride.  Ups and downs, forward and backward, we've moved all over the spectrum together.  And although there were days I wanted to just throw my hands up and call it quits, I'm so thankful to be married to this man.  He drives me nuts (on purpose).  He pushes my buttons (on purpose).  He causes me to rethink my beliefs, my standards, and my goals.  He challenges me to be a better me.  He supports me in my ventures.  He's my biggest fan, and my worst critic.  He loves me in his way that is totally different from my own, and he causes me to questions what the Hell I was thinking the day I said, "I do", but more than anything, he shares my life.  He's the first person I want to call when I have a great day at clinical.  When I failed my first test in Nursing school, he was the one I wanted to talk to.  When Monkey is having one of her days where I just can't win, I know he's there to pick up my slack.  As cliche as it may sound, there's no one else I'd rather travel through this world with.  So here's to you, Love!  Happy Anniversary :-)
     Now for the rest of you, I guess I owe you something for being such a good sport and sitting through my cheesiness. How about a recipe?  Here's one I made for J the other night that he loved!  

Paula Deen's Quick Italian Meatballs with Spaghetti
Makes 4-6 servings

1 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 lbs ground beef
36 pepperoni slices, finely chopped
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Quick Spaghetti and Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place a wire rack over baking sheet, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and bell pepper, and cook for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Set aside to cool. IN a large bowl, combine cooked vegetables, ground beef, pepperoni, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, Italian seasoning, and garlic salt.  Shape mixture into 2 inch balls.  Place on prepared rack, and bake for 15 minutes or until no longer pink.  

Paula Deen's Quick Spaghetti and Sauce

1 (25 oz) jar pasta sauce
6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 (16 oz) package spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

To thinly slice the basil, stack several fresh basil leaves, and roll them up tightly.  Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the bundle, and watch it cascade into tiny ribbons.  

In a large saucepan, combine pasta sauce, basil, oregano, and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat until safe is warmed through.  Add cooked pasta and meatballs.  Toss gently to coat.