Monday, December 16, 2013

The "Dumb Husband" and the Cookies: A Life Lesson Learned

There are a lot of family dynamics and stereotypes on television today. My husband generally doesn't give much thought to things like that, as he generally avoids any "family dramas/comedies" that were made after The Fresh Prince of Bel Air went off the air. But, there is one particular family related stereotype that sends my husband on a rant whenever he happens to see it: the stereotype of the "dumb husband". The "dumb husband" can be seen in commercials turning on the blender sans the lid and looking horrifyingly bewildered while the contents of the blender come rocketing out. Generally it would be at this moment where the condescending (if not slightly smug) wife comes in, smiles, and shakes her head at her dumb husband. Inevitably the wife ends up cleaning the mess while we can only assume the husband goes to put on a helmet.
Well, last night I wanted to watch something on T.V. that my husband doesn't like, in fact he T.V. shames me for watching (it's Lifetime's "Witches of East End". Don't judge me). While heading back to our bedroom to watch my show I just so happened to mention, once or twice, that I was craving my favorite Christmas cookies but was in no mood to bake. Around the holidays all I seem to do is bake, and I almost never get to eat the fruits of my labor. There is nothing as frustrating as being surrounded by the sweet, sweet baked goods that only come out at Christmas time and not getting to eat them.
 Anywho, during a commercial break I went into the kitchen to get some water only to find my husband in the very early stages of making cookie dough. Of course I mouthed the "oh, you don't have to do that!" and "I could have waited, you shouldn't go through all that trouble" while I was secretly super pleased. "You're such a sweetheart" said the spider to the fly before I went back into the bedroom to finish my show. When I came back out of our bedroom I heard furtive whispering "...crap! Hurry, we need to clean this up or Mommy is going to make fun of us." A sense of morbid curiosity compelled me to enter the kitchen to find my toddler on a step-stool, my husband desperately trying to stir the very crumbly cookie dough, and my stove top covered in flour and bits of Andes mints.
 Liam's making his "CHEESE!!!!" face


"I AM NOT THE DUMB HUSBAND!" was the first thing out of my husband's mouth. "I refuse to perpetrate that stereotype. REFUSE!" After I got done laughing, and reassuring him that the cookie dough was supposed to look like that, I helped him clean up his "little helper" who had so kindly helped to stir the dough and in the process give everything in a 3 foot radius a fine dusting of flour. As amused as I was, I had to reassure him. "You're not the dumb husband. You're the husband who now understands how hard it is to get any cooking or baking done when you have a 'little helper'". I mean,  you try making 6-8 dozen more cookies while Liam the Flour-Fiend maniacally laughs while he "helps" you "stir" the dough, batter, or whatever it is you're mixing.
Later that night as I munched on some very delicious cookies that I didn't have to bake, I chuckled to myself and had to wonder...why didn't he just use our Kitchen Aid stand mixer? It's not like it's a blender, which we all know husbands can't operate without loss of life or limb. But, it is something that can mix dough without making a mess and still entertain a "helper" who likes to flip the switch. Either way, a life lesson was learned and I got delicious baked goods that I did not have to produce. Win/win.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Economy Meals: Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce

It's time for economy meals post #2. I got this recipe from a friend, and changed it a little to my family's tastes (which you are welcome to do as well). It's very easy to make, it's super healthy, and it freezes really well if you want to make it in a large batch and save some for later. I love this economy recipe not only because of how healthy it is, but also because of how cheap it is to make. I usually have some, if not all, of the ingredients in my fridge or fruit basket at any given time. Plus, pasta is a mainstay in most pantries, which is generally what I serve this sauce with.

Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
Ingredients
  • 3-5 tomatoes, whichever variety you prefer. The first time I made this recipe I used a carton of cherry tomatoes and 3 roma tomatoes, but this time I used 3 vine ripe tomatoes and 3 roma tomatoes. Use which ever variety you prefer, or what looks best at the market that day.
  • carrots (about a handful of baby carrots or 1 regular sized carrot)
  • 1 bell pepper, the color of your choice
  • 1 onion
  • various vegetables of your choice: the first time I made this sauce I used zucchini and summer squash, this time I used a little cauliflower and broccoli that I had leftover from a previous meal
  • garlic: fresh or jarred, your choice. I usually use fresh, and if you choose this option use whole cloves (as many as you like, I usually use 3-5). If you choose the jarred, minced garlic option (which I did this time b/c I forgot garlic at the store) use about 2 tsp during the last 10 mins of roasting.
  • extra virgin olive oil, salt, fresh ground pepper, dried basil, dried oregano: all to taste
  • a blender, food processor, or immersion blender
Directions

1. Wash and dry all of your veggies. 

2. Cut up your veggies and place them in a large baking dish or roasting pan.
3. Drizzle them liberally with extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle your salt, pepper, and herbs to taste. Toss your veggies so that they are all well coated.
I always have a hard time keeping my husband from sneaking veggies while my back is turned.....

4. Roast your veggies in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 mins. Take your pan out of the oven and toss them again. *if you chose to use jarred garlic, now would be the time to add it*
5. Put your pan back in the oven for about another 10 mins, or until they are done.
Your house is going to smell soooooo good

6. Remove your pan from the oven and allow the veggies to cool for a bit. Once they have cooled blend them well, adding oil as needed, until the sauce is as chunky or silky as you prefer. I always leave mine a little chunky, but it's up to you. *It is important that if you are using a traditional blender that you make sure to cool your veggies for a bit.*
7. Transfer your sauce into a sauce pan for reheating, and add any additional salt, pepper, or herbs that you desire. Serve immediately and freeze or refrigerate leftovers.
My finished product. Yum!

I served my sauce over some penne rigate pasta with cheesy garlic bread on the side. My husband loves this recipe, and it's a great way to sneak some fresh produce into your kids. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Two Things I Learned this Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Thanksgiving. My little family drove to Alabama to spend the holiday with my Dads side of the family. We enjoyed visiting with everyone and needless to say, Liam loved getting all that extra attention. Now we're back at home, and I've had some time to reflect on two things that I learned this Thanksgiving which had nothing to do with family, friends, or Hallmark moments. Here they are, in no order of importance:

Thing 1: Head injuries swell remarkably quickly. My 2 1/2 year old son, Liam, tripped and fell. Fortunately he was fine; unfortunately he used his head to break his fall. Less than a minute after the initial impact Liam had a goose egg the size of a golf ball on his forehead. After making sure that he was okay, and thanking the Lord that we had already taken pictures with Santa, we rushed to put ice on his giant, swelling bruise. In order to completely heal Liam's injury, my husband had to make a trip out to Walmart to get our son some ice cream. I'd like to commend that brave, brave man for walking into Walmart just as the Black Friday madness was beginning.

Thing 2: Turducken is a real thing. If you're a "Supernatual" fan like I am, you've heard of Turducken. I had no idea whatsoever that it actually existed, and that people actually ate it. Turducken is a de-boned chicken which is stuffed into a de-boned duck, which is then stuffed into a de-boned turkey. That way, when you carve off a slice, you get three different kinds of meat. In my opinion, this sounds disgusting. However, to heap-big carnivores like my husband, this sounds like Thanksgiving taken to a whole new level.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season has officially kicked off in our house. We are of the belief that holidays need to take their turns, so we don't do any Christmas decorating, play any Christmas music/movies or set up the tree until the day after Thanksgiving at the earliest. My husband has officially given me the green light to geek out and rock the holiday spirit to my hearts content. Ready, set, go!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Economy Meals: Cheesy Potato and Sausage Casserole

     This time of year most people find that their budgets have to stretch a bit further than they usually do. There's holiday shopping to consider, the cost of gas or plane tickets if you're traveling for the holidays, and of course we also generally spend more money on food this time of year. Big dinners, desserts, holiday gift baskets, etc. can cost a pretty penny. But, though the use of coupons and economy meals I can generally save enough money for all the little extras we like to enjoy for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Occasionally I'll post some quick and easy recipe ideas that are very inexpensive to make. *Note: not all of my recipes are necessarily diet recipes. While I generally try to prepare healthy, balanced meals sometimes one or two ingredients may have a higher fat content (like the smoked sausage in the recipe below). Feel free to substitute ingredients to fit your personal dietary needs and preferences.*

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Casserole
Serves 4-5 as written, easily doubled for larger families

Ingredients
  • 1 large baking potato, diced or cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 to 1/2 onion, diced (I use more onion, but use as much or as little as you like)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or about 2 handfuls)
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 package Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausage, diced (I used beef, but use whichever kind you prefer)
  • 3 pats butter
Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, sautee onions in 1 pat of butter until done or slightly caramelized. 

2. Place cooked onions into a small baking dish. In the same pan, add remaining 2 pats of butter. Once melted, add potatoes. Sautee the potatoes until golden brown and cooked through, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

3. Place cooked potatoes into baking dish with onions. Add in diced smoked sausage, cheese, and sour cream. Mix well. Place in oven for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly. 

Your finished product will look something like this:

I served this casserole with steamed green beans w/almond slivers. You really don't need any bread or rolls because you already have a starch in your potato. My husband and I really enjoyed this dish (my son a.k.a "Mr. Picky" wouldn't even try it). The only ingredient that I don't always keep on hand and had to buy for this recipe was the smoked sausage, so it was very cheap to make. 



Monday, November 11, 2013

Halloween, Mr. Clean, and Katniss Everdeen

     It's been a while, and so much has happened since I last posted! First,  we found out that the baby we're expecting in March is a boy! Liam is working up to being excited about becoming a big brother (if something doesn't have anything to do with playing outside, fire trucks, Mickey Mouse, or Lilo & Stitch he has a hard time caring about it). My husband and I decided to name our newest little man Owen. We're so excited!
Then, we had Halloween (Liam was Darth Vader because I refused to pay 50$ for a Minion costume and wasn't feeling up to creating one on my own). Liam did really well trick-or-treating, and we even met a full sized Darth Vader who was nice enough to take a picture with our mini-Vader.
My mini-Sith Lord is Darth Vader approved!

    Then, the day after Halloween we moved. We're still on the same military installation, we just moved into a bigger house. With another little guy on the way we wanted a little more square footage and an extra bathroom. For those of you who have never gone through a move out of military housing, all I can say is that you're lucky. While we didn't go through the "white glove inspection" my parents had to go through when my Dad was in the Army, we did have a weekend full of intense cleaning. I mean....intense. Let's just say that in our new house I will be cleaning the window tracks a lot more often than I did at our old place (yeah, I totally never thought to clean those things before. Gross). Now we're trying to get settled in before the holiday season is upon us. I plan to blog more often, and I'm excited to get into it and have some fun.
     Now that I've gotten through why I haven't been blogging lately, I have to boast about an accomplishment of mine. My husband and I often recommend books to one another, but because we both have such long reading lists it is normally a struggle to get each other to sample the book crack we're trying to peddle. Even if the book is fantastic, sometimes it will take us a while to read it because the queue is so long (we both love to read). Well, I have been trying to get my husband to read "The Hunger Games" trilogy for a really long time. It's right up his alley: he likes a strong female lead, he likes dystopian fiction, and he likes oppressive governments (while everyone else was rooting for the Rebel Alliance in "Star Wars" and were happy when Emperor Palpatine got tossed over that railing like a rag doll, my husband was the only person who hoped the Galactic Empire would win and screamed "Judas!!!" when Darth Vader betrayed Palpatine). But, my husband is wary of "teen fiction" ever since he was forced to read "Twilight" when he worked at a book store, and he also is disinclined to read any book he sees me crying over because he doesn't want to catch "the feels" (It's sad when Rue dies, OKAY? Don't judge me!)
     Anywho, after whining and pushing this book series like a used car salesman, my husband finally read the books. And he LOVED them (he even suggested that we hold a Congressional Hunger Games during the recent government shut down). Now he's happy because he got to enjoy a great story and doesn't have to hear me whining at him anymore, and I'm happy because now I have someone to take me to see "Catching Fire" later this month. Win, win. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let me see those FuzziBunz!!

     I'm a WAHM, but my primary job is taking care of my son. It's a high stress job with demanding hours, no monetary compensation, and the boss is a real pain in the butt if he doesn't get a nap. But who isn't, right? Well, Nathan and I were sitting around and talking about what we could possibly do to make our lives easier when Baby Gray #2 arrives in March. And do you know what we decided? We decided that we should cloth diaper our second bundle of joy. We thought, you know what sounds super fun? More laundry! And who could pass up the opportunity to spray poop off of a diaper and into the toilet? Certainly not I!
     Seriously though, we thought we'd give it a try to see if we can save some money. Because, lets face it the USAF doesn't exactly have us rolling in the dough at the moment. I have two great friends who cloth diaper their girls, and they've told me all about cloth diapering and how it works. When Nathan first suggested we cloth diaper my first thought was "Sure! You can say that because you won't be the one changing a majority of the diapers or doing the diaper laundry!", which immediately caused me to flashback to my Mother cleaning my little brothers cloth diapers. The memory was tainted with the smell of cleaning solution, and the image of my mom scrubbing diapers out (we lived on an Army post and the housing did not come with a washer and dryer.....so you can imagine how fun cleaning those diapers had to have been) made me immediately say "Uhm....no. No cloth diapers".
     After talking to my friends, seeing their diapers and how they worked, and watching a few YouTube tutorials, I realized that cloth diapering is not what it used to be. There is a huge selection available now, and you can even get designer diapers for your baby's little toosh. There's FuzziBunz, Bumgenius, Bummis, Flip, Happy Hienys, GroVia, etc. Some of the patterns are so cute, it's a shame that someone is going to poop on them. So, now I get to start building a stash of diapers. We've decided to wait to get most of them until we find out of Baby Gray #2 is a girl or a boy so that we can get some of the really cute patterned diapers. Because if I am going to be cleaning these things all of the time, I at least want something cute to look at.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Nope, This Time It's Not a Foodbaby

     <DISCLAIMER: This blog is about my life, my craziness, my everything. I try to use humor to convey stories, but I in no way wish to offend anyone. Please take what you find here in the spirit in which it's given, and don't get your panties in a twist. Sincerely, M>

     Hello, my name is Meridith. I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home Mom. My son Liam is two years old, and I love him more than is probably reasonable. If anyone else kept me up all night, threw up on me, ate my ice cream WHILE the spoon was on its way to my mouth, or found it hilarious that he peed on my arm while I was giving him a bath, well.....lets just say that relationship would have lasted about as long as my appreciation for Fall Out Boy (<2.7 seconds). Despite my all consuming love for my son, my husband and I have been discussing having a second child, because apparently the foodbaby I had last month courtesy of New China Buffet was not enough to satisfy my need for more offspring.
     Nathan (my husband) and I decided that we'd start "trying" for baby #2, and by "trying" I mean that we just stopped using BC. I didn't map out my cycle or figure out when I was supposed to ovulate because I did all of that with my first pregnancy, and it honestly didn't help us at all (most likely because of my incredible inability to do math). We figured... it would happen when it happened. Well, folks....it happened pretty frickin fast. Like.....Irish Catholic fast. So, Baby Gray #2 is due some time in early/mid March! Now I have like 8 months to figure out where all the "reserved for expectant mothers" parking spaces are so I can park in all of them, whether I need to go into the store or not. Because I can.