Monday, June 22, 2009

Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese

Tonight I soooo didn't want to cook! (okay, so really, I never want to cook!) I thought of macaroni & cheese and immediately felt sorry for Steve! SO! I spiced up my macaroni and cheese and made what I will call: Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese (do you think I'm pathetic? I probably am, but I really think you'll like this recipe!)

Okay this is so easy! Basically you are going to prepare macaroni & cheese according to the box directions except you're going to omit the milk and substitute a 14.5 oz can of Italian Style Stewed Tomatoes (including the juice - it will be the liquid for the recipe). Add some browned, crumbled, and drained hamburger and Voilà! Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese.

Here is the detailed recipe:

2 boxes of macaroni & cheese (I ♥ Kraft)
1 stick of butter
Cheese packets from the mac & cheese mixes
1 - 14.5 oz. can of Italian Style Stewed Tomatoes
1/2 pound of hamburger, browned, crumbled, and drained.

In a largish pot bring water to a boil and add macaroni. Boil uncovered for 7-10 minutes until softened (do not overcook). Drain noodles and add 1 stick of butter that's been cut into pieces (it will melt quicker); stir to melt butter in noodles. Add can of tomatoes, including the juice (the juice will take the place of the milk.) Stir in the cheese packets.

While macaroni is cooking, brown and crumble 1/2 pound of hamburger in a skillet. Drain grease off of the hamburger and add to the prepared macaroni, cheese, & tomato mixture. Generously serves 6.

Martha Stewart look out! Or not.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kitty Kandids for a Rainy Day

The kitties are ready to make an appearance:

We call this one TL. He is a boy, so being called Tiger Lily after his mom and grandma might be embarrassing for him, (Johnny Cashe sang about the effects of such a thing in "A Boy Named Sue") so we'll just use the initials.

This little girl is the tiniest and looks like a little kitty fairy, so Thumbelina fits her perfectly. We'll shorten it to Lina, though.

This little guy is named Blackjack. We could shorten it to Jack, but since that is my dad's name and he doesn't really like cats I think we'll stick to BJ as a nickname.

They are fat and happy, and that's all that matters in a kitty's life.

I took Matt to Cub Olympics this morning. It was rainy and cold off and on, which made the water games pretty miserable for complainers like me. Matt was fine with it, though. They had a great balloon launcher there made with some rubber tubing and a pocket to contain the water balloon before flinging it. The boys had a great time watching the balloon travel about 50 yards and then splatting on the ground. A couple of mishaps happened though when the rubber tubing came untied and smacked the little boy's leg who was launching the balloon. Another mishap happened when Matt was at another station directly across from the balloon launcher and he got smacked in the leg with a launched balloon that didn't break. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt!

I got my ring back from the jewelers on Friday after having them replace Emily's missing birthstone, sizing it, and cleaning it. It is wonderful to have it back!

On Steve's and my tenth wedding anniversary I asked for a mother's ring. After really thinking about it and knowing that I don't wear much jewelry other than my wedding ring we opted to have a custom ring be added to my wedding ring. I designed it and the jeweler created it. I absolutely love it!

It has been chilly and just pouring buckets of rain down for about the last hour or two. In Kentucky our creek would have flooded us in if it'd rained this long and this hard. On a day like that, I would have started a fire in my soapstone woodstove and rocked in my rocking chair while watching the fire and listening to the rain. As it is, I have spent time on facebook and blogs. While I love all y'all, I would rather have my old woodstove. Steve is going to have to make sure our flue can contain the flames, because I *need* a woodstove. And I'd love another soapstone stove like I used to have.

I have also been listening to my playlist and it has really lifted my spirit. While I love the sound of the falling rain, and I love the green that happens because of it, the greyness of a rainy has a way of making me feel a little down. I love, love, love my playlist! Brad Paisley's song, "I'm Still a Guy" puts a smile on my face every time. How I love that guy's songs! He makes me laugh just about every time! And Alan Jackson's "That'd be Alright" (and most of his songs, really), Travis Tritt's "It's a Great Day to Be Alive", and Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine" song always brighten my day. Michael Buble's "Everything" and the Dixie Chick's "Cowboy Take Me Away" make me glad I have Steve in my life. My music can definitely soothe me, even when I'm feeling pretty beasty.

I've started reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz again. Odd Thomas is my favorite of all of his characters. Have you ever read his books? They are not for the faint of heart! Amber can't go outside in the dark anymore because of reading his stuff. I love him! He takes his readers on a roller coaster ride through hell but always ends with happily ever after. I tease Steve that if he dies I'll look up Dean Koontz to see if his wife Gerda is still around; if not, I'll hook up with him. Maybe my threat, and his jealousy, will keep that husband of mine around for a long, long time! And that would suit me just fine!! Koontz's heroines always remind me of me, and I'm a sucker for a man who thinks that my personality makes up the perfect woman, lol! Lucky for me, Steve thinks Koontz' heroines are pretty perfect and finds my quirks endearing. :-)

I'll take a pic of those bridesmaid's dresses like I told you I would just as soon as there is some good lighting.

The sun came out for a minute, so the lighting is pretty ok for taking pics. Here are the bridesmaid dresses. Remember that they will have a little shrug/jacket over the spaghetti straps:



Here is Emily's flower girl dress. You can't see the flowers on the waist in the pics, but trust me when I say they are adorable:

I hope that the rest of your weekend is wonderful!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Three Little Kittens

These are my new babies. Their mommy, Lily, is missing. The same thing happened last year with two of my favorite cats, Jewel and Socks. So I am bottle feeding them, washing their bottoms, (did you know that mommy cats do that to stimulate the babies to "go"? The vet, years ago, told me that I'd have to replicate even that part of being a kitty mommy. Fun stuff!) filling up a 2 liter bottle full of hot water and covering it over with a towel so that they can keep cozy and warm, and putting a stuffed animal in with them to snuggle up to. So far, so good.

The girls and I went shopping on Saturday. We found the bridesmaid dresses and flower girl dress and bought them. I'll have to post pics for them soon.

This week I need to order the invitations. Karen's mom and dad have told me how many they'll be needing, so now it is up to me.

Oh, I'd love suggestions for the food. We are keeping it simple, so I need refreshment type food ideas. Karen wants to have a fancy type of chicken salad sandwiches on croissants. I am thinking of lemonade with floating lemon slices and ice in a beautiful dispenser like this one found at Dillards

Karen's mom will be making pumpkin bread. I'm thinking of having some lemon squares too. Food is the next portion of the wedding that will consume my thoughts until it is organized, so throw in your suggestions, okay?

Today I am going with Josh to the dentist to see what work he needs to have done so that nothing comes along to bite him after he is off of our insurance. He'll also get all cleaned and polished up, so that he can look wonderful for his big day.

I hope that you are having a wonderful summer! We are really rainy here, like every-day-for-a-little-while rainy. What is the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fun Finds for Friday

Have you ever seen flip flop socks before? I hadn't until last Saturday when I was shopping with April. They are like mittens for your feet! The store we were at had their socks 1/2 off, so I picked up a pair for each of my girls at home + myself. I bought four pairs and let Amber, Karen, and Emily choose first, so I got these. I love them! This week has been rainy and chilly, but I've still wanted to wear my sandals, so they have been just perfect!

On Wednesday I went shopping with Amber for a mother's dress for Karen and Josh's wedding. With it being an outdoor wedding in the middle of July, I wanted it to be light and flowing, rather than too formal (and hot!)with a jacket and such.

Their colors are black and white with red, so I was decided to look for a black or red dress. We went to Dillards and JCPenny. I didn't find anything at Dillards that I liked, but I found several at JCPenny. After trying them on, this was the one I liked best:

It hid my flaws the best and was cute and flowing like I wanted. It is still a pretty heavy material, not as bad as some lined suit, but it's not cotton or rayon either. There was only one in my size, so I decided to go ahead and buy it and return it if I find something that I like better. When I checked out I found that it was 50% off! Wahoo! I love a good sale! Maybe I'll keep it anyway, even if I find something I like better for the wedding.

Hopefully Amber will be up to another shopping trip on Saturday to try to find something just a little cooler (temperature wise). She is a great one to take with me because she has a good eye for what looks good and she will be honest about whether it looks good or not.

I also need to go shopping for a body shaper thingy. See, the only problem with that black dress is that you can see panty lines and my fat on the sides where my bra is. :-( I'm hoping that a body shaper will get rid of all of the problem spots. And maybe it will be more uplifting than my bra tends to be. (I am really missing my youthful body right about now! Getting older is tricky!)

I hope that you have a great weekend! If I find a dress I like better I'll be sure and show it to you!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

First Garden Pics of the Season

Last year I posted pics of my garden every few weeks, and it was fun to go back and see its progress through pictures. So here they are: the just-starting-out garden pics.

My strawberries are bearing a ton of fruit per plant this year! I'm so excited! Bring on the cream!



my little herb garden

This is our experimental cabbage or brocolli that is going to seed. Jared wants to save the seed and plant it next year to see what comes up. If it is a pure plant it will come back just like the mama plant, if it is a hybrid it will come up different from them mama plant. With the wedding taking my time, this will be what we do for the "seed to seed" challenge. It'll be fun to see what we get.

We're off to a great start!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Madness

It is 3:12 in the afternoon and I just barely took a shower. What a crazy morning!

Over the weekend I found out all of the details for the wedding invitations. soandso is no longer listed as Karen's step-mom. You know, soandso. (read: so and so) Finding out about the in-laws and spelling their names right and getting people squared away: that is my life right now. So this morning I created the invitations, uploaded the .jpg file, and they are now being printed out at the printer's. I have chosen to print 2 copies for now: one for me, one for Josh and Karen. They can show it to her folks and Josh's bio-dad to make sure that we haven't over-look any mistakes I might have made.

Next up: buying a mother's dress, color co-ordinating the girls' dresses to the guys' ties and cumberbuns (how *do* you spell that?!). Oh yeah, AND making up a guest list and getting the rest of the parents' guest lists too. One step at a time, I suppose.

On a less stressful note: I'd love to whip out pics of my garden right now! I took some pics on Sunday (or was it Saturday?). My sage is blooming. So is my second year broccoli. The broccoli is an experiment. Jared my 15 yos says that some vegies go to seed on the second year. I don't know if he's right, but I'll be a good sport and we'll see. When we harvested the carrots last year we missed a couple, and they are up for seeds this year also, if he is right. Which he usually is.

I also planted 8 tomato plants: 4 roma, 3 cherry, 1 early girl. Four pepper plants, and some basil also got planted on Friday or Saturday. There is still 8 pumpkin plants waiting for a bed. I'm a sucker for pumpkin plants. Oh, and I planted 2 zucchini plants. Every garden should have at least 1 zucchini plant just for moral support. Those suckers grow without any help at all and make me feel like I have one heck of a green thumb!

I have pics of the whole thing. I'll put them up soon.

Josh and Karen spent the weekend with us. Poor Karen can barely keep anything down. I remember how it is. When I was pregnant with Josh I got so sick I had to go to the hospital for an I.V. She put in her requests while we were at the grocery store, so she is stocked up on cool blue gaterade, macaroni & cheese, captain crunch, and instant potatoes. I, too, was a captain crunch fan when I was pregnant. It was the only food that I knew of that tasted the same coming up as it did going down. Anyone else remember how awful it is to be sick with pizza? Sorry, I'll say no more.

Saturday we booked the gazebo for the wedding. The date is locked in. Time is flying by! After everything is said and done and we've sent Josh and Karen on their honeymoon I think Steve & I should go away for the weekend too. I think I'll need a vacation by then! I'll have to put a bug in his ear about that.

I'll leave you with one pic. My prettiest one: the sage plant that is flowering. It is delightful!

Have a great day!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What's new

I know I haven't been around much lately. Have you missed me? There are lot of exciting things going on around here lately.

Josh and Karen have moved up their wedding date, so I am trying to learn how to put together a beautiful wedding and reception. The date is set for July 18th. Yesterday we reserved a beautiful location for an outdoor wedding. So next the focus will be on the invitations. We will use the pic that I showed you earlier, and the area with the tan will be where the info goes. I'm planning on trying my hand at creating them, but I'll go to a professional if I find that I can't pull it off. They will be 5" x 7" cards. I'm trying to decide if regular photo paper will suffice, or if I should have it printed out by hubby's work ( It will all work out, I just need to decide quickly and get them out in a week. Whew!

In the meantime, Karen and Josh (but we all know how this works, right? I say "and Josh", but poor Karen will be choosing everything. Josh just wants to know when and where to show up looking good in his tux!) will need to choose colors and then we'll tailor the wedding around those.

The wedding will be at a large gazebo in a park-like atmosphere with lovely flower gardens and a fish pond nearby. My job will be to decorate it beautifully. Next week I'll post a pic of the location and you all can help me with decorating ideas, okay?

So those are all of the things on my "soon to do" list.

But do you want to know the source of my most excitement? I'm going to be a grandma! I've looked forward to being a grandma since Josh was born! I hear ladies talk about their grandbabies and how they are even more fun than their own children. And people, living in Utah I am SURROUNDED with babies! I think Utah is the baby capitol of the world. I remember living in Kentucky and seeing a pregnant woman or a new baby was a treat that didn't happen very often. Here in Utah you just have to make one trip to the grocery store to see at least one expecting mama and many sweet little babes. So with every grocery store trip, I get more and more excited! With every Walmart trip I see all of the cute little baby clothes, and can't wait until fall when the warmer stuff comes out so that I can start picking up a few things for MY GRANDBABY!

Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know that Josh is my oldest. So yes, he isn't married yet. And yes, that has strained some relationships that I have with people who've given unsolicited advice or made poor comment choices. The worst being a close friend who told me that they should give it up for adoption. Are you kidding me?! These two have been living together for months. They have been engaged since Valentine's Day. They made their commitment to each other long ago. In my eyes, the marriage has already started and we just need the ceremony.

Enough of that nonsense. That is all I will say about that. In fact, maybe I shouldn't have even brought up the negative and spoiled the moment, but I've been stewing in those feelings and needed to just put them down on "paper" and then be done with it.

I've realized these past couple of weeks how therapeutic this blog is for me. In addition to being a place to connect with you all, it is also a place where I can put down my feelings and think about things a bit deeper. Writing in itself is therapy for me. But I was trying to weigh the pros and cons of revealing Josh and Karen's newest adventure before the actual wedding pics have been uploaded.

Traditionally, I wouldn't tell and we'd just pray that no one noticed any little bulges at the wedding. Oh man! That is just so not me! If you haven't noticed, I'm a person who likes to just be out with things. I hate secrets. I like being myself and hoping that I'll be accepted, but if not I'd rather have that than have to be something I'm not.

So for the past couple of weeks since I first received the scared phone call from Josh at midnight, I have been keeping a secret. And so I haven't written at all because that is the information has consumed my life for the past few weeks. And now that all of the relatives know and won't come to my blog and be blind-sided I can tell you all my exciting, yet scary as hell, news.

For my family, we are moving into brand new, uncharted territory. Never before have my children been aunts and uncles. Never before have Steve and I been grandparents. And never before have Josh and Karen been parents. And the weight of the responsibility brings tears to my eyes as much as the joy of having a new, dear, sweet little baby come into our family.

Up until now, Karen has been Josh's fiance, and we have loved her dearly. But now, Karen will be a permanent part of our family no matter what. She is our grandbaby's mama. She is now part of our bloodline. How crazy is that?! A stranger to us before last September, and yet now she holds a permanent place in our family line. No matter what happens, she is my daughter. Crazy! Wonderful crazy, but crazy just the same.

So yes, big things are happening. Huge, wonderfully exciting and yet still scary things that will change our lives and rock our world. Kind of like a really great roller coaster ride. So we'd better be buckled in and holding on: this ride-of-life just keeps getting better and better!