February 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up


  • 3 out of 5 days. The Banana Republic jeans I bought two years ago after Shane was born but never fit? Totally zipped up! Win!!


  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (It has been a slow couple of weeks for reading. I have two that I'm currently reading, Pearl of China and A Lucky Child)

Memorable TV Watched:

  • Death Becomes Her. What is not to love about this movie? I can't wait until Goldie Hawn's autobiography is available at my library.

Memorable Eats:

  • Tofu Stir-fry,
  • Southwestern Egg Rolls from Chili's: We met people out for dinner (we never meet people out for dinner. Ever. Except my parents.) I think it was so memorable because it was the only decent part of the meal and it's been almost 2 months since we've had anything breading/deep-fried.

Going Into Next Week: Since it's already next week...

  • We had an excellent Valentine's Day. Kids got popcorn buckets with some goodies stuffed in them. Best part? NO GLITTER.

Valentine Goodies

  • Soccer started back up. Brandon is on a team that a little...their still working on not using their hands and he's dribbling through the cones and changing directions via step-overs. Caedon just got picked up and we'll see how that goes considering he's not a strong runner...much less walker. (He just has these baby giraffe legs that he's still figuring out)

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{One of my favorite photos. I took it and when I look at it, I kinda feel like a bad-ass. Just tooting my own horn.}

  • 30 Days of Lists. Basically it's 30 Days...of Lists. I'm excited about it because it seems like a fun, low-pressure project.


  • 365. I was doing well on my 365 project on Flickr...then I left town for a couple of days prior to Valentine's and got out of the habit. I think I'd like to kick-start it again by showing off a few Carlsbad, NM gems.

Video Camera
{last photo taken for my 365. My dad found a really cool vintage video camera.}

February 21, 2011

Home is Where

We moved in November. There was one move, then another, then another. It was a lot of moving, I punctured my knee on the tailgate of the truck, it was gross, I cried, then I remembered I'm married to a paramedic and he fixed me up. And took me out for margaritas.

This last move took it out of me. I've never been so sore and tired after a move.

But we're not done. Not even close.

We dislike our current rental. It, in a word, sucks. MedicDad spent 3 months looking for a decent rental before he found this one. And it was filthy. When I first saw it, I had an overwhelming feeling of desperation. I bleached walls, steam-cleaned floors and threw away so much crap from the previous renter. What kind of real estate agent would even show a home (much less rent it) in the condition we rented it in. Sure she took money off the deposit, but then we got a notice that we owed the money or we were in breach of our rental agreement. For a moment we saw light at the end of the tunnel and joked "Don't tempt us lady." Then we paid it and let her know when we moved out we would submit all the receipts for the repairs and cleaning that we've done. Fist in the air. Fight the good fight.

{The kitchen with its awkward cabinets. Cabinets that open all different directions and 1/3 of which I can't reach. I can deal with dated, I can even find charm in dated. But this is just... All those outlets and only one works. The back splash is faux fake bricks painted baby pink(!) Sometimes the oven hits 375 and no dishwasher.}

The owner is a real DIY kind of guy, and he's oh so very bad at it. I'm pretty handy, if I do say so myself. I also watch a lot of The Vanilla Ice Project. MedicDad's basic rule of thumb on anyone fixing something is "Do a better job than my wife can." I do a pretty kick-ass job. I can't decoupage to save my life, but I can paint and hang kitchen cabinets like nobodies business.

Work Space
{The back living room. It's wood-tastic! It's absolutely lacking log-cabin charm. Behind our behemoth of a television is a wood stove, which our DIY owner put in but didn't put an exhaust out of the house. Medic/Firefighter Dad called foul on that real-quick.}

I actually spent the last weekend re-packing up stuff. I'm so unmotivated to have my nice things out in this house. Coffee mugs, serving bowls, extra cookie sheets and baking pans. Back in boxes. Sometimes it feels like they won't see daylight ever again.
My Working Kitchen
{Back to storage, all of you!}

I'm aware of how petty I sound, complaining about having a roof over my head. Does my shallow pool know no depth? I have curbed the complaints and attempted to grin and bear it. I try to not complain to MedicDad because he looked and looked and this was truly the best he could find. I wasn't much any help at all. Instead I have put all my energy into pinning dream homes. It's hard to not outright drool when we watch The Vanilla Ice Project or It's Complicated (I love Spanish-style homes, white stucco and terracotta tiles. Swoon). We have our eyes on a few prospective homes and I know the process of buying a new home would quicken if I were to return to work (shooting one wedding does not a business make, so um...hire me?) but neither of us want Shane in daycare. So I will bide my time, continue pinning and figure out how to build our dream home for under a few shiny pennies (seriously, with all the things we would want, minus upgrades, it would be a lot. Living room for the kids with access to all three of their rooms and a jack-and-jack-and-jack bathroom would be sooooo worth it but would cost big $$$. One day I'll show off my bad mad architect skillz and show you what I'm talking about)

If money was no object, what would your dream house look like? Spanish-style, southwestern, over sized farm house? Inspire me.

February 15, 2011

How You Like It Stew

I love soup. It's the ultimate on-a-budget, clean-out-the-veggie-drawer meal. Our favorite is a simple recipe that gets a new make-over every time. It's a simple basic recipe that Grandma used; beef, carrots and potato. I love it just like that. But lets see what else we can do with it, yes?

{warning, this post contains photos of raw beef. just a little courtesy notice}

This is where I start. Some stew meat, carrots, salt, pepper and seasonings.
Beginnings of Green Chile Stew

Basic Beef Stew. Beef, Carrots, Potato.
Beef Stew

You can add anything you want and that's why I love this recipe. Yellow squash and zucchini, frozen corn or...

Green Chile. We purchase 2 large sacks of it in August, bag it and freeze it. I've never used canned green chile, but this is where you would add one can. Or...

Cabbage. I feel a little MexIrishcan when we add cabbage.
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Come join Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s BeansHip HostessPillsbury and Westminster Crackers. 
I'm looking forward to perusing them all and add them to my Pin boards for future cold days.

It's blatantly obvious I'm not a recipe writer, not to mention I've never measured a single thing when I make this.

How You Like It Beef Stew

1.5 lbs Stew Meat (you can save money by buying a roast and cutting it into 1-inch cubes)
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1tsp Ground Cumin
1tsp Ground Coriander
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Carrots, Cut (I don't dice them because I like bigger bites)
2 Potatoes Cut
16 oz Chicken Broth
Extra Veggies: Green Chile (fine diced), Frozen Corn, Yellow Squash (small cubes), Zucchini (small cubes), Cabbage (Cut, not shredded)

There are many different ways to go about this. I don't think I've ever made it the same way twice. I usually begin with some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot (my dutch oven) and add the carrots for a minute or two with some salt and pepper. Just to slightly caramelize one side of them. (does that make any sense? lol) 
After one side of the carrots are browned I put in the stew meat, green chile, cumin, coriander and garlic. 
But sometimes, to be a rebel, I do this all backwards and put the meat in first, then add the carrots.
Once the beef and carrots are happy in the pot, no matter how they got there, I add a can of chicken broth. I like chicken broth in my beef because it keeps the broth light but adds a little flavor. Add water to cover the beef/carrots or carrots/beef.
I let it simmer for about 30 minutes before I add the potatoes. Skin on (my husband) or skin off (me), doesn't matter. 
Let simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
At this point I add in any additional veggies: Green Chile, Frozen Corn, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Cabbage
Most of the extras I add in are what I would call 'soft' veggies. They don't require a lot of time to cook and too much time and they would fall apart.
Let simmer an additional 15 minutes.
Serve with garlic bread.

February 11, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up

  • Twice this week. That second day kicked my butt

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo  
  • Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond (you might know her as The Pioneer Woman. Let me know if this rings a bell)

Memorable TV Watched
  • Southland. This weeks plot? I have no idea. Ben McKenzie's sleeves were cut short as to show off his biceps. I didn't pay much attention to anything else.

Memorable Eats
  • I made cinnamon rolls. Then the hubs and I got sick from the gluten and sugar. But they were fantastic for the 20 minutes before we got sick and swore off all things sugar and bread. 
  • Chili was tasty. We've been eating that for lunch for 3 days now. Thankfully it's almost gone and I only make it once a year. (Why I am incapable of cooking smaller batches of stuff?) 
  • Zucchini/Squash saute with jalapeno. Mighty tasty.
  • Baked Chicken Drumsticks. Always a hit with the kids
  • Baked Salmon. Salt, pepper and lemon are a magical combination. 

Going into next week 
  • Continue: no sugar, carbs, rice, pasta, potato, soda or gluten (I've been doing extremely well on all fronts, except for said cinnamon roll)
  • Cut down on: coffee, dairy (I eat way too much cheese. Mindless nibbles. Those Babybel cheeses are nirvana in red wax.)
  • Cut out: meat. Going through a meat aversion stage. This girl right here? Part-Time Vegetarian
  • Participate: Soup-a-palooza. I love soup. I have a good one. It's a versatile recipe and I make some variation of it once a week. (do you have a soup recipe? Visit DineandDish.net for the deets. And kudos to me for letting you know ahead of time)
  • Valentines: Get 32 valentines done for kids. I'm so relieved there will not be a party in their classrooms so I don't have to provide food or drinks. The school will have an all day reading blitz with snacks provided by the  PTA. (except here they add in an "S" so it's the PTSA, but that doesn't have the same ring to it and pronounced it sounds like Pizza. Mmmmm...pizza)
  • Leprechaun Trap: Brandon needs to make a trap by March 11th. I refuse to wait until March 10th at 11:00 pm. Last year I made helped Caedon make a pretty kick-ass leprechaun trap. The bar has been set high.

 {last years trap}

What do you have coming up next week? Any good eats worth sharing from last week?

February 9, 2011

Five Things

It's super cold here. Suuuuper cold. When I woke up at 5 am with my husband it was -13 (with the wind chill). By 7 am, when I get the kids up for school, it had warmed up. Warmed up all the way to -7. So I did what I had to: I got back in bed.

Here are my five cold day survival items:

1. My zebra print oversized throw. It's obnoxious. My husband thinks its cheesy. I love it.

2. Crockpot Chili-I don't have to get out from under my obnoxious, cheesy zebra throw. Hey you veggies! Get outta my chili!

3. Cinnamon Rolls- I'm making a half-batch. I have leftover espresso cream cheese icing. Can't let that go to waste (I may have grabbed a spoon and stood with the refrigerator door open. I'm not proud.)

Cinnamon Roll

4. Despicable Me and Monsters Inc.-I like them just as much as the kids do.

5.  Coffee. Lots and lots of hot coffee

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What are your favorite cold day survival necessities?

Photo Credits: dinodirect.com, allrecipes, me, amazon, me

February 6, 2011

Not Very Authentic

I love Tiramisu. If it's on the dessert menu, I won't pass it up. It's a problem that I've been combating with 90 seconds of mountain climbers three times a week. (Hey, I'm down 15 lbs!)

My mom came to visit this weekend and she brought a clipping from a magazine for a Tiramisu cake. Tiramisu made in a bundt pan. No mascarpone. No espresso soaked lady fingers. Well that's not very authentic, is it?

You know what it is? Tasty. I think it's offensive to call this a Tiramisu, as the magazine writes. If I were Tiramisu (which I might be, considering I eat so much of it and after all, you are what you eat) I would be a bit miffed. A lot miffed. But it's worth telling you about. So lets call this Cake with Coffee and Cream Cheese Frosting. Yes.


Cake with Coffee and Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Family Circle Magazine

1 box (18.25 oz) French Vanilla Cake Mix
1 pint Coffee Ice Cream*, melted
3 Eggs
Ingredient Line-Up
*I could not find coffee ice cream. Actually I did find coffee ice cream...and then someone took it from the case before I could snatch it. The last pint of coffee ice cream. So I settled for 1 pint of vanilla ice cream and added 1 tablespoon of instant espresso powder.

Heat oven to 350*. Coat a standard bundt cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust with flour, shake out excess.

Beat cake mix, ice cream and eggs. I used my KitchenAid on low for 1 minute, scraped the bowl; two minutes on medium. Scrape into prepared pan.

Bake at 350* for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 20 minutes. Invert onto rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua**
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Cream Cheese Frosting
**I didn't have Kahlua. So I put in a teaspoon of instant espresso powder.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, butter and liqueur on medium speed until light and creamy, about two minutes. On low speed, gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. I did a half cup at a time. Refrigerate until cake is cooled.

Refrain from eating with a spoon.

Place cake on a stand, spread top and sides with frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust top with cocoa powder and cinnamon.

February 4, 2011

UFC Fight Night

I love UFC. We frequently order fights, making it an evening of at home food and drinks.

Tomorrow night will be Margaritas (on the rocks. with salt) and Brisket Nachos.
(Please excuse the cell phone photo)

One of our new favorite places in Las Cruces in El Patron Cafe. The family of a friend from high school opened up this little place and EVERYTHING is good. EVERYTHING.

They have Brisket Nachos. I love brisket and I love nachos. Winner Winner Brisket Dinner!!

Cilantro (lots and lots of cilantro)
Sour Cream

Layer, heat and devour.


February 3, 2011

Snow Day

We've spent the last two days watching this:

drinking lots of this:

and observing lots of this:
Snow Day

I love snow days and I'm grateful I live where weather that flirts with subzero temperatures is a novelty and not an everyday thing.