my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

November 30, 2010

choices choices

i was at walmart yesterday doing some shopping. i know i know, walmart doesn't have the greatest reputation, but it's easy one stop shopping for a person like me that doesn't always have a lot of time to get things done. plus they have a mcdonalds there, and that alone makes me smile at this time of year.

so there i was, dancing around the aisles, singing along to the christmas songs on the in-store music system. yeah, i know i'm not the best singer, and i got some really strange looks from it. one poor lady must have thought there was something very wrong with me because every time she came to an aisle that i was in, she turned around and went in a different direction. that amused me to no end, of course.

eventually i came to the soup aisle, which though not something strictly on my list, was something i wanted to get because my hubby really has a thing for soup. yeah, we have ramen in our cupboards, because it's a favorite of my boys, but my hubby, he likes real soup. chicken noodle used to be number one on his list, but that's slowly been replaced by vegetable beef. i have to admit here that i despise vegetable beef in all its forms. also, there was a small problem when i found the soups, the campbell's chunky soups were on sale, and there are about five million different vegetable beef combinations. some had noodles and some had rice, some had beans and some had barley, some had chunks of beef and some had ground meat.

i was totally at a lost, so i called my hubby to see what kind he wanted. he made the mistake of asking what kinds they had, so i started reading. after a few minutes he told me to stop and just pick out a few that i thought he'd like. i did that, and i'm really hoping he likes my choices, because i'm certainly not going to eat them. honestly though, most of the pictures on the cans looks almost exactly the same, and i'll bet they all taste pretty similar too. hopefully i did an ok job picking out the soup, but i'd feel more comfortable sticking with ramen.

November 29, 2010

my guilty pleasure

it's that time of year again. when things get colder and the snow starts flying. it's the run-up to christmas and all the craziness that entails. the shopping for presents, the decorating, the parties, and of course my most favorite part the food!

now in the coming days i will talk about most of my fav nibbles from this season, and maybe go over a few that i enjoyed over the intense thanksgiving i endured. and i do plan on giving at least a brief account of said thanksgiving very soon. i would have given you all a lovely play-by-play to enjoy, but i was without internet for most of the trip. such was part of the wackiness of it all.

anyway, today, for me, was truly the start of the holiday season, because today i had one of my favorite things. and yes, it's kind of gross to some, and it's really bad for me, but i can't help it, i love it so and always will. i am, of course, talking about an eggnog milkshake from mcdonalds.

i don't know what it is, drinking milkshakes when it's freezing out is kind of nuts, but i really do love eggnog. and ice cream. blend it all together and i'm in heaven. though i suppose mcdonalds doesn't technically use ice cream. i think it's some secret concoction that goes into their magical machine mostly liquid and just partially freezes. kind of like an icee, or a slurpee depending on where you get your partially frozen beverage treat.

still, i always know christmas is approaching when mcdonalds brings back their eggnog shakes. and as soon as i see they have them, i have to get one, as yucky as it might be to others. it's part of my person holiday tradition. like "wham = xmas", but that's a story for another time.

November 22, 2010

think happy thoughts... happy thanksgiving thoughts

three days and counting until thanksgiving. so yes, i am a little nervous and a little apprehensive. there is always such pressure to perform on the big day, and even though i'm only in charge of the pies, i know that there will be plenty of people upset with me if things don't turn out well.

i've prepared everything that i can, made a list and gone through it over and over again. i bought what i need to take up and have a list of what i need to buy while i'm there. i should be ok, it's just making a few (like seven) pies. it's something i've done over and over again.

i think my real problem is that i'm not worried about the cooking part of the holiday going poorly, it's the fact that all of my in-laws are coming together. my hubby has three younger sisters, and some have moved away like we did, so we all don't get together very often. and up until a few days ago, i didn't think they were all going to be there. turns out that plans have changed, and everybody is getting together for thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's house. something always happens, somebody says something stupid, and everybody always ends up fighting. usually it's over as quickly as it started, but that doesn't change the fact that it sours the trip. so right now it feels like i'm facing a storm, i know one is coming, i can see it on the horizon. i don't know how bad it will be or how long it will last, but it's headed straight towards me.

at least i stay home for christams and get to see my side of the family, my dad and mom and step moms and sisters. it's a different cast of characters and a whole different set of crazy. but it's the one i grew up with, so for that i know i'll be ok.

November 21, 2010

"my first christmas"

today i have something i want to rant about for a bit. this post will probably be a little bit of a ramble, but try and keep up, ok? i'll do my best to explain the craziness.

so we are coming up on fishie's very first christmas, and i'm already thinking about all the traditions that i started with my boys and want to continue with her. the one i'm having most trouble continuing is the christmas sleeper. see, each of my boys had a special sleeper that i dressed them in on christmas eve that said "my first christmas" and had santa and snowmen and all manner of cuteness all over it. then i would let them wear that same sleep all day long, as their special christmas day outfit. now, finding bumble one wasn't too hard, because on his first christmas he was wearing 6-9 month size clothes, and there were tons of styles to choose from. lumpy was only a week old for his first christmas, so there were also lots of different sleeper type outfits that fit him. now my lovely fishie is going to be 10 months on her first christmas, so one would think i'd still be able to find a "first christmas" sleep to fit. but no, my fishie isn't like normal 10 month old babies, she's already wearing 18 month size clothes, and they don't make "my first christmas" sleepers in 18-24 month size.

ok, to explain for those that don't understand baby clothing sizes, when most babies are born they wear 0-3 month size, then comes 3-6 then 6-9 then 9-12, and then after that usually comes 18 month and then 24 month. after that comes 2T and 3T and 4T. now i guess the sizes are named for the average size that babies are, that most babies that are 9 or 10 months like my fishie is would actually fit in the 9-12 month size. and there are "my first christmas sleepers in the 9-12 month size.

the problem really is that none of my kids were the normal and average size. most normal and average babies are 6-8 pounds when they are born, which is why the 0-3 month size is supposed to fit 6 to 10 pound babies. my babies, on the other hand, were all around 10 pounds when they were born, so they skipped the 0-3 month size and were wearing 3-6 right out of the gate. and of course they just kept getting bigger from there. so now, with fishie's first christmas approaching, i want to get her a "my first christmas" sleeper, because even though she's wearing 18 month size clothes, she really is only 10 months and it really is her first christmas. but i guess most clothing manufacturers don't feel the need to make first christmas stuff in sizes larger than 12 months.

i do get their logic, i really do. most normal sized babies don't need bigger sizes like that, so most normal babies wearing 18 month size clothes have already had a christmas. and they do make bibs and silly little hats in her size. and they do make christmas themed sleepers with raindeer and santa and such. but no "my first christmas" sleepers, even though it is her first christmas. so either i figure out something else to dress her in and stop the tradition, or i can make something myself, and i'm really not crafty in that sort of way.

i'm not sure what to do about this. i do understand why they don't sell what i'm looking for. still, that doesn't mean i'm any less upset about it all. my poor little fishie isn't so little after all i guess.

November 20, 2010

going to the circus

bumble has started boy scouts. they do a lot of cool activities together as a pack, and it seems that the theme of all the activities so far is "under the big top." when they all marched in the halloween parade, they had to come up with costumes that matched the theme. so what wonderful thing does my bumble come up with, was it to be the ring master or the strong man or a clown? no, not my bumble, he wants to be a dancing bear. so being the loving mother that i am, i had to come up with a dancing bear costume in addition to throwing together his knight costume that he wore for trick or treating. trust me, he looked awesome, and he danced his butt off while parading for 12 blocks.

that was in october. this month all the scouts were supposed to bake a cake that would be auctioned off to help raise money for the troop. and of course the whole circus theme still applied. now how this was really supposed to work was the scout parent, the one that went to all the meetings with the scout and helped him do all his projects for badges and the like, they were the one that was supposed to help make this cake. so technically that was supposed to be my hubby. he helps bumble with scouts, it's like their manly bonding monday night thing. well i was really hoping to be able to sit back and watch my two big men make this cake and make it look like a circus, and maybe take a few pictures because i knew it would be amusing to say the least.

again, being the lovely and wonderful mommy that i am, i said i would help too. or rather i saw the look of panic in my husband's eyes and took pity on him and kind of took over the whole project. i really do believe that bumble has helped me bake more cakes in his seven years than my hubby ever made in his entire life. really i think that would have been part of the fun, but i guess my definition of fun varies from my hubby's.

so anyway, bumble and i made the cake yesterday. and i'll admit i took the lazy way out and used a train car shaped cake pan, so we had all these little train cars that we decorated and stuck on a larger cake that we just iced green. we also used funfetti cake mix so i didn't really feel the need to ice the actual cars, especially since the pan has some nice detail to it which would have been hidden by the icing. so i piped blue icing on the cars in dots and lines and had bumble and lumpy stick m&m's all over them. we made train tracks on the base cake with gummy worms and put the cars on top. i even made an animal cage car with a gram cracker roof and drinking straws for supports, with animal crackers stuck inside.

i'll admit that i thought the cake looked pretty awesome when it was all said and done, but i was a bit worried for bumble. see, they were handing out trophies for the best cakes in different categories, and he's only a little tiger cub, which is the youngest group of kids. there are some kids in the pack that are five years older than him, and i didn't know if they could be more creative than a circus train cake, but it was possible. well, all my fears were for nothing, because not many kids showed, and so almost every kid there ended up getting a trophy. though the bumble did win the "most detailed" cake, and looking at all the rest of them, that's definitely the one he deserved.

the only down side is now we have one more baked good in the house to try and eat up before we go to j-town for thanksgiving for almost a whole week. it'll be a struggle, but i know i'll do my best.

November 18, 2010

just like me

there are two things that happened yesterday that have been swirling around in my head today. both are rather upsetting to me, but one more so because i think i'm just looking at it wrong. it's something that i thought i was past, but just keeps coming up in unexpected ways.

i love my bumble, i really do, but yesterday he made me cry. he is the sweetest kid in the whole wide world, and he was just being that wonderful kid that he is, but somehow he can get in my head and remind me of things that i try to forget. and the worst thing is that i know he has no idea, so i try not to be upset in front of him. his innocence is one of his most beautiful qualities, and i don't want to ruin that in him.

with thanksgiving next week, there have been a lot of turkey projects coming home from school. i knew they'd continue with going over the things they are thankful for, it's a staple, and both boys talked about it way back in preschool. lumpy already brought home a picture he drew of him and his dad, though i secretly believe the only reason he's more thankful for his dad than for me is because i don't have cool video games i let him play. yesterday bumble brought home a paper with a paragraph that he wrote all by himself about the things he's thankful for. he said he was thankful for his dad, because his dad is awesome. he also said he was thankful for me because i am just like him. that was it, that's what got me so upset, that little phrase is what made me cry.

i guess i need to go further back and explain a few things so you too can understand. growing up i never really wondered about my future. i never really planned for things or thought about what i might be when i grew up. i definitely never expected to be in the position i find myself in now, married with three children. the full truth is that i never saw myself getting married, but more than that is that i never wanted kids, never not ever. part of it was that i didn't think i would be a very good mom, which i still have doubts about to this day. more than that was because i've heard people say that kids will grow up to be like their parents, and i never wanted to curse my children with having to grow up and be like me. i really hated myself for a long period of my life, and the thought of bringing another life into this world just to have to go through all that i did, to deal with the delusions and craziness and doubt, it just didn't seem fair. i wouldn't wish this on anybody. so if there was the smallest of chances that my kids would be anything at all like me, i didn't want to take it. it didn't seem worth the risk.

the years have passed since then. i met a wonderful man that helped to introduce me to the concept of self worth. of course i married him so nobody else could get their hands on him. we've never had much as far as worldly possessions go, but he has always promised that he would make me really and truly happy, and really what more could i ask for in him? he's always wanted children, and he convinced me that it wouldn't be such a horrifying and terrible idea, and we gave it a try. three kids later and i'm beginning to believe him. still, i worry and i wonder if our kids will be like me, burdened with all the darkness that i struggled with. i really hope not, but still i sometimes see glimpses of myself in them.

though i suppose it's not all bad that bumble is like me. he definitely got my insatiable curiosity. and some of my caring and empathy. we share the same wacky sense of humor. and i'd like to think that the fact that he tries so hard and is always ready to experience something new is partially due to my influences. as he grows and goes out and explores this great wide world of ours i know he'll change, he'll turn more into the person that he is meant to be, that he'll never be a carbon copy of me. i have a funny feeling, for good or for bad, i'll always see a bit of myself in him, but i'll love him anyway.

November 17, 2010

ready, set, bake!

it happened again. yup, another baked good magically appear in my oven yesterday. maybe those little cookie making elves live under my house, making pies and cakes, using up all my butter and sugar. yeah, it's totally elves, and that's what i'll say next time i make something horrible, i'll just blame the elves. and not the nice christmas ones, those ones that help santa, they rock. and so i would like for them to make me a new throw rug to match my curtains in my living room, and a can opener, and new boots. am i too old for a christmas list to santa? maybe we'll just play quid pro quo with the awesome cookies i plan on leaving out this year.

anyway, yes, i really did make another pie yesterday. but it was an experiment, for science! (i can't help but think of portal every time i say that, probably why i say it so often) i know i'm using that as an excuse for all my baking these days, but this was legitimately to try out a new crust recipe. see, next week, maybe tuesday if i'm lucky, maybe 9pm monday night if i'm not, my hubby and kiddies and i are going to visit our in-laws for thanksgiving. and since the kids don't have school for a whole week (really not sure what that's about, and the fact that they're in elementary school and get the monday after thanksgiving, better known as "first day of deer season" 'round these parts off too) we are planning on visiting my hubby's family for a whole week. i actually don't mind going to visit, though i won't enjoy leaving at 9pm because, since i hit a deer, driving at night through the mountains makes me more than nervous. though since we are planning on leaving so early in the week, and i am the one making desserts for the big day, i'll have to do my baking up town so things stay fresh and yummy for thursday. or knowing my family, so things last and don't get eaten before thursday.

so most of the baking i've been doing has been in preparation for the event next week. thanksgiving is a big deal to me, it really is my favorite holiday. and because i am prone to stress and freaking out, i thought it best that i go into things as set and ready as i possibly can be. which is why i've been testing things, trying to find what i can do ahead, and what are the easiest recipes to use that still taste awesome. all my practice has totally been worth it too, because i have found a crust recipe that remains flaky and crisp, but actually gets prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer.

to test this i made the dough on monday and left it in my freezer over night. i was worried because it seems like a very loose and sticky dough, but freezing it must have done the trick, because though it did take some extra flour to roll it out, and even though it did break and crack in a few places, i was able to patch it up without much trouble and get it in my pie tin pretty easily. it baked up well, didn't really brown too much and i hadn't even remembered to cover it with foil, which was a plus. it remained flaky, even now it's still nice and crisp after being stored in my fridge overnight. so i think i found a winner of a pie crust, something that i can make here and just roll out when i start baking next week. one less thing to worry about is always very good.

of course, in testing out a pie crust, i figured i might as well test out a pie recipe while i'm at it. and i think i have finally found a pecan pie that i can love. it's crunchy and creamy and sweet but not too sweet, and it's oh so easy to put together. it's almost sad, because i have been scouring websites and cook books, and the recipe i settle on using is the one that my mommom has used for ages. her pies at thanksgiving were always the highlight of the day, and i was never quite able to replicate them. finally though, i learned her secret, and it couldn't be more simple. her wonderful and fabulous pecan pie recipe, oh so good that it deserves to be passed down through the generations, is the one off the back of the karo dark corn syrup bottle. i'm still not quite sure what to think about that, but at least the pie is good.

November 14, 2010

my fantasy

it's official, i need new friends. friends that live closer to me and enjoy fancy food. and eating off of a salad plate set on a dinner plate set on a charger. and napkins with napkin rings. and eating by candle light.

ok, basically i need friends that like dinner parties. because with all the holiday recipes floating around, and all the cute little appetizer recipes and quick meal ideas and how to make food look fancy and still be easy to prepare, i really want to host a dinner party. so that's why i need new friends that want to come to dinner parties, and then host one themselves and invite me over too.

also, i need a new kitchen. because my kitchen is too small for a dinner party. invariably, while finishing up last minute touches, my charming friends will wander into the kitchen with their glasses of fine wine, chatting lively to keep me company. they'll ask if i need any help, and i'll wow them with my culinary skills, showing that i have absolutely everything under control.

ok, so i think i need a dining room too, or a house that has a dining room. and then i need a dining room table, something nice that can convert from seating 6 to something that can handle a seating for 12 comfortably.

i suppose then i also need money to buy the food to make in my new kitchen that i plan on serving in my new dining room to all my new friends. and maybe a nice outfit to wear, something chic and comfortable. and an apron to match, so everyone will be amazed at my coordination skills.

alright alright, maybe i just need a new fantasy. and to stop watching all these cooking shows. but still, a girl can dream, right?

November 13, 2010

dear tom turkey, this year please bring me happiness and peace on earth...

it's already mid november. where did the month go? i'm so not ready for the up coming holiday season. not christmas though, i'm totally ready for christmas. really, i'm totally ready for christmas to be over.

it's not that i don't like christmas, i really do. and seeing my kiddies faces light up christmas morning is the best. and spending time with all my family is pretty great too. it's like one of the few times of year that i know everybody will be nice and pleasant and there'll be no real drama from any side. i even have most of my shopping done, thanks to layaway. and what we haven't bought yet we already have planned out, we know what we're getting when. so really, there's not much stress with christmas coming this year. we already know when we're making cookies, when we're digging out all our decorations, and how we're putting everything up so that a little fishie doesn't try to eat the train set.

so yeah, i'm ready for christmas, that's not really a stress to me. no, i'm more worried about thanksgiving. yeah, i know i'm not the one hosting the dinner this year. i haven't been able to host a big holiday meal for many years, which i really miss being able to do. but i know i'm going to have to help make the food, which i enjoy, and i know i'm going to have to help get everything set up, which, with my obsessive need for organization, i'm pretty good at. it's more like, as oppposed to christmas, where everybody tries to get together and be nice and pleasant to each other, thanksgiving is a day of issues.

it's always stress when my family gets together, even under normal circumstances they don't really get along all the time. something comes up, somebody says something that people take offense to, and it starts. the worst part is that people keep things going. sometimes i think that they store up past hurts just to bring up in the heat of an argument, trying to make the other person feel as bad as possible, or guilty, or they want people to side with them. i don't know, i just don't get it.

one of the things i really love about my hubby is that even when we disagree, even when we fight or really get into it, we get everything out and move on. if we do have an argument, it's over whatever is happening at that moment, we don't dredge up past hurts and slights. and then when we've worked it out or just agreed to disagree, we drop it and move on and don't feel the need to bring it up again. i wish the rest of my family could be like that, it would make the holidays so much more pleasant.

i guess that's really it, why i'm really so apprehensive about thanksgiving. every year we always say things will be different, and every year it's always the same. maybe it's blind hope, or maybe it's because that thanksgiving really is my most favorite holiday, but i still think that maybe, possibly, there is a chance for this year to be different, for this year to be better. if nothing else, i know the pies i make will be delicious.

November 10, 2010

10 reasons....

....why my bumble is way more awesome than your bumble:

1. he has the same horrible taste in music that i do. case in point, he told me to turn it up when green day came on in the car.

2. he always sings along to songs he likes, even when he doesn't know the words. even if it's a song he's never heard before. even if he can't understand what they're saying. when he gets older, we're so going to karaoke.

3. he loves to make up and tell a good joke. the latest and greatest is "what do you get when you combine mercury and earth?" the answer? "BAM! i don't know, but it's science!" ok, so maybe it's a sense of humor only a mother could love.

4. he tells me i'm the best mom everyday.

5. he loves to try and make his sister laugh. and he's really good at it too.

6. he is always interested in how things work and why things happen. he has the innate curiosity of a scientist. and i get to learn something new all the time by looking up answers to all his questions.

7. he has used the phrase "can't we all just get along?" it's just so amusing to hear a seven year old say something that originated in the 90's.

8. one of his favorite things to eat is salad. but he's always up for trying new things. even "circle shrimp," which are really calamari.

9. he is very creative when it comes to drawing pictures. he made me a lovely halloween picture that included a witch, some pumpkins, a vampire, and zombie abe lincoln. yeah, it was a pretty sweet drawing.

10. he loves to cuddle. and hug. and make everybody feel better when they're down. and i don't think he'll ever grow out of caring for people.

so yeah, my bumble is the best bumble ever. way better than your's. are you jealous, because you should be.

ok ok, if you're really nice, i'll share him with you. i know i have to share him with the world. he's in school all day, forgive me for wanting him all to myself the rest of the day. maybe one of these days i'll explain why he's called bumble. it's a good story. and it only has a little bit to do with bees.

November 9, 2010

cakes ahoy

i was industrious on sunday. more industrious then i probably should have been, considering that it was day light savings time, a concept that fishie didn't quite grasp. so instead of embracing the fact that we should have gained an extra hour of sleep, she decided to get up when she always does, only instead of the clock saying it was 7am, it said that it was 6am. i try and i try to explain important things like the wonders of sleeping in on a sunday to her, but i think it's beyond her comprehension.

anyway, sunday was also my lovely stepmommy's birthday. and as is my lot, it fell to me to make the cake. or cakes, as i volunteered to make two different kinds. seriously, what is wrong with me and the amount of baked goods i've been producing in my crappy little kitchen? and i keep volunteering for this stuff, nobody's twisting my arm or anything. i think it's a sign that i've lost my mind. or that i really like sugar. either way, i made two cakes and a huge mess of my kitchen.

the first cake i tackled was a tres leches cake. it was from a recipe i found a month or so ago here, and ever since i saw that recipe, it's been in the back of my mind that i just had to make it. maybe it's because i like things with a mexican flair. or maybe it's because i really have a thing for sweetened condensed milk. whatever the case, i had my excuse to try it on sunday, because the birthday dinner theme was mexican fiesta. yeah, i'm realizing that my family likes to plan theme parties a lot, but it's how we roll, so you'll just have to deal with it.

anyway, the cake came out pretty well. or as well as i could make it. it was a basic chiffon or sponge cake, soaking it with all the dairy goodness is what made it truly special and delicious. the fact that i've never actually had tres leches cake might be the reason i can't say if this was a really great version or not. my only real complaint is not so much with the cake as with the fact that if i make it again, i need a better way of transporting it. my lovely hubby held it on his lap for the ride to my mommy's house, and some of the liquid that wasn't absorbed kind of ended up on his pants. but now we've learned our lesson and know we need a platter with a higher lip for just in case of leakage. go science!

the second cake i made was a carrot cake. something i've made tons of times before. it's one i know is a favorite of the birthday girl. still, it didn't end up being a normal cake either. no, because i like to make things as difficult for myself as possible, i decided to try out a cake pan that i've never used as a cake pan before, just to see what would happen. well ok, that's not strickly true.

the pan in question is little individual train cars, and it's made of flexible oven safe material. i have used it as a jello mold before, but i've never tried to bake in it. the reason i needed to try it out is that bumble has to make a cake for a boy scout fundraiser, and the theme is "under the big top." so he wants to make a circus train cake. or maybe i've steered him in that direction because my hubby is the den parent and he is the one that is supposed to help bumble make this cake. at this point bumble has more experience baking than his daddy does, so i figured that if this special cake pan works out, then it'll be a snap to make a train shaped cake. all they'll need is some icing and some animal crackers and instant circus train cake here they come. and huzzah the cake pan did work out just beautifully.

so on sunday we had some lovely little carrot cakes in the shape of train cars. and some yummy tres leches cake, which was the best tres leches cake anybody ever had. mostly because i think it was the only tres leches cake anybody ever had, but still, i'll take my compliments where i can get them. the only down side is that i actually whisked up the whipped cream topping for the tres leches cake by hand, and days later my wrist still hurts. yeah i know, it would have been easier to just wash the beaters for my mixer, all of which i had dirtied in the process of making all these cakes on sunday. but i'd like to blame my lapse in judgement on lack of sleep. and the fact that i like to do things the hard way. and maybe i just wanted to see if i could still whip cream with the best of them. and i can. it's just not something i recommend trying.

November 5, 2010

fusion pie? yes please!

so yesterday i made candy. today i'm making pie. again, as an experiment, and not because i totally love baking and totally love eating pie.

like i've said before, i'm in charge of desserts for thanksgiving dinner. and every year i make the same few types of pie. not that they aren't delicious or anything, but i'm ready for a change. i'm tired of eating the same pie all the time. i want something new. but i'm also afraid of embarrassing myself terribly and tarnishing my reputation as a baker, so i've picked out a few new pie recipes that i really want to try, and i'm going to give them a trial run before the big day.

i've always been interested in mixing the traditional tastes together to create something new and exciting. for instance, the pie i made for my dad's birthday was a combination of an apple pie and a pecan pie. and no, it wasn't just an apple pie with a crumbly pecan topping, it was actually the opposite. the apples nestled down in the delicious pecan filling, infusing everything with apply goodness. it was very yummy, which i was very happy about, and it inspired me to look for more hybrid fusion type recipes.

so today i'm taking a regular pumpkin pie and baking a caramelly pecan topping over it, so it'll be like a piece of pumpkin pie and a piece of pecan pie stacked on top of each other. the whole process has my mouth watering, and once it comes out of the oven i'm going to try and restrain myself enough so that i don't burn off the roof of my mouth.

i'm also going to try a new kentucky derby pie recipe. this is something i've made before, it's like making a regular pecan pie and throwing some chocolate into the mix. and we all know that chocolate makes everything better. this version seems pretty easy, so i want to try making and see how it comes out. being that i have to make six to eight pies for thanksgiving, any recipe that is tasty and easy will definitely make the cut.

so yeah, my house is filling with sugary treats. and we are still getting through our halloween candy. so i've decided for christmas this year i'm asking santa to make me skinny again, because i feel like all this research and experimentation is going to test my will power. thank goodness we have friends stopping by this weekend to help get rid of some of these goodies. and to help taste test everything. for research and science. why else would i do this?

November 4, 2010

it's the most wonderful time of the year

raise your hand if this is your favorite time of year. it is for me, for so many different reasons.

i hate the heat. and even though i was born in the summer, it's my least favorite season. going backwards through the calender, spring is least favorite after that. yes i know, everything is turning pale green and waking up from it's long winter sleep, birds singing, bees buzzing, flowers blooming. well birds nest in my porch eves and poop all over my car, bees just freak me out, and i can't grow flowers, just weeds, which aren't nearly as nice. after that, winter is my third least favorite, or second most favorite, depending on how you like to phrase things. i obviously like to phrase things as awkwardly as possible. i enjoy the cold of winter, the crisp air, the snow. even when it's slushy and yucky, i like when i'm able to stay in doors and enjoy a nice hot drink and cuddly with my loved ones. what i don't like is that i very rarely get to stay inside. no, i'm the one that has to run around in the muck and slush, dodging those on the roads that freak out when things get a little slippery and decide that they need to go 10 miles an hour on the highways.

so by default, autumn is tops on my season list. though i do love this season for all the wonders that it possesses in its own right. it's getting cooler now, so jeans and comfy jackets are totally appropriate apparel. it gets dark earlier now too, and with the crisp air, star gazing is a perfect night time activity. of course, my favorite thing about this time of year has to be the food.

with halloween done with, there are pumpkins and squashes galore, just begging to be cooked and eaten. and soups and roasts are the perfect meal after a long hard day when the temperature drops. though i would be remiss if i didn't tell you about all the desserts that i look forward to making.

every year for thanksgiving, i'm in charge of making the pies for the meal. now, pumpkin pie and pecan pie are always delicious whenever you make them, but to me they just seem to taste better when made in november. and i know the cookie season will soon be upon us with december just around the corner. also, i've always been one to make things for christmas gifts. not that i'm crafty, no i go all out and make candy. and i'll be totally honest here and say that i've already made some, because i have a few new recipes i want to try, just to make sure they'd stand up as good gifts.

yes, i'm making candy purely as research, and for the practice of cooking the sugar and tempering the chocolate. and if it all should go horribly wrong, i guess i'll just have to force myself to eat my mistakes.

i'm sure i'll go on more food tangents in coming posts, but being that it's november already, i figured i might as well get the ball rolling. so prepare yourself, i'm very opinionated when it comes to these topics. maybe i'll find my three page rant on proper mashed potatoes, it was truly riveting.

(sadly enough, i'm really not kidding, i do have a three page rant about mashed potatoes somewhere out there. let's just say i'm "passionate" and leave it at that)

November 3, 2010

wants versus needs

we're all friends here, right? then i feel i can admit a dark little secret of mine to you guys. i have money troubles.

yeah i know, maybe it's not a shock to some. and in this economy (how i hate that phrase), it's probably something very common.

honestly, i've always been very bad with money. weirdly, though, i've always gone to opposite extremes. when i was younger, i would never spend money. i would wear out shoes and run around in holey socks instead of going out and buying things i actually needed. then i met my lovely husband and i totally changed. i started spending money like it was on fire, like there was no tomorrow, like it was burning a hole in my pocket. i started spending money i didn't really have.

not that i'm saying it was my hubby's fault, he's not the one that spent the money. it's just that he showed me that it's ok to spend money, that if you have it, you should enjoy it. and enjoy it we did.

and now we are at a point in our lives where i wish we had been a bit more responsible. i suppose i could use the excuse that we were just a couple of crazy kids that didn't know any better, but really i think it was that we didn't give a thought toward the future, it was all about instant gratification with us. which really is a childish way to live.

we're much better now. he taught me about how to have fun with money. and now i'm teaching him the difference between a want and a need. so it's a learning process for the both of us.

it's tricky sometimes, trying to figure out what is a want and what is a need. there are certain things that are easy. like food is a need, but going out to eat is a want. clothes are needs, but designer jeans and fifty pairs of shoes that mostly look the same are wants. electricity is a need, but... well no, electricity is just kind of a need all around. but that doesn't mean we need to leave all the lights on all the time. or the water running. and hand-me-downs work great as play clothes. we can be smart about how we use what we have to get the most out of things. that is something that we need to do.

i guess this whole train of thought is inspired by the fact that christmas is coming, and now i have a chance to ask for things that i wouldn't normally buy for myself. things that i want, but that i've never been able to rationalize enough as a need, so i never got. it's a strange thing for me, to think of things that i want, things that i wish i could have. usually if i see something i'd really like, but realize it's something that i could pretty well do without, i put it out of my mind so that i don't hope and wonder about how to get it. or rather, so i don't feel bad and curse my luck for not having it. now that i get to think about it, even i wonder what i'll come up with for my christmas list.

November 1, 2010

trying to keep reality in check

i keep telling myself that if i was better at managing time, i would be able to get everything done that i really wanted to. more than just finding the time to do all the regular stuff, like laundry and grocery shopping and homework help, i'd be able to read all those books i have stacked and waiting for me, watch all those movies that my hubby gave up waiting for me and watched without me, and actually keep up with the message boards i used to be able to spend hours on.

and then reality hits me up side of my head and explains that i am a mommy with three kids. and yes, some mommies have it worse than i do, some actually have real and paying jobs on top of taking care of their house and their kids. but that doesn't mean that i'm any less busy. especially since my two boys are like taking care of twins. and my fishie is now on the move. and i only get to see my hubby for two hours a day during the week, what with me sleeping when he comes home from work, and him asleep all day, only getting up to eat dinner and then he's off again.

life is busy. and sometimes it's hard. and sometimes i drop the ball and forget things, and then have to play catch up (like doing homework after breakfast, while waiting for the bus, because i forgot to check a bookbag the night before). but i try, and most people around me know that i try. and so what if their socks don't match. or lumpy gets cereal for lunch, because that's what he really wants and i don't have time to fight with him. or fishie and i go to the bus stop in our pajamas because i didn't have time to get everybody dressed in the morning.

at least we're all happy and healthy. and i remember the important stuff. so bring on the stress and the craziness of life. just give me christmas layaway, so there's one less thing to worry about. and toaster waffles for quick breakfasts. and baby gates to help cage a crawling fish. i think i can manage the rest.