Friday, March 29, 2013

Where Did March Go?

I didn't keep up with my blog during March, so I'll do a quick recap of everything that happened and promise to do better in April.

  • I made really cute St. Patrick's Day shirts for the big girls.  You can't really see them in this picture, but they came out really cute.  And for a whopping $8 for two shirts, they served their purpose.
  • Emma had her nine month photo shoot at Picture This! Studios.  As always, it was fabulous.

  • Spring break was a bore.  
  • Sickness.  Abby started it and then it rolled to Grace.  Grace definitely got the worst of it.  I've never been so happy to disinfect my toilets.  
  • I think I should rename my blog "A girl, a glass of wine, and a piping bag." By the way, doesn't everyone cook in their panties?  (Disclaimer, she did not have any wine.  Only me.  Yes I drank half the bottle while preparing dinner, but don't judge.  It was a horrible week.)

  • Emma is starting to wean herself.  This is hard for me.  I nursed the big girls until they were at least one year old.  MM is 10 months.  Part of me is so ready to be done.  I have spent three years of my life nourishing my children.  The other part of me is very sad.  This is the end of this chapter in my life.  
  • Speaking of Emma we are coming up on the one year birthday, and yes the party planning has began.
  • The girls had fun checking out the colored chicks at Feldman's.  Only Grace was brave enough to hold one.

  • We finally got to enjoy some time outside.  The entire family needed a little outdoor time.

  • I am preparing for the mother of all garage sales.  If you need clothing for girls sizes newborn through six, you should stop by.  It's going to be epic.
  • Easter is upon us.  My brave face is on, but I'm not ready to deal with Easter.  The wound is still fresh, and I still continue to think I'm going to wake up from a bad dream.  
  • The girls did color up some Easter eggs tonight.  That was a colorful mess.

Check this out, this is the start of something beautiful.  The final beauty will be photographed as well.  Who knows where it will show up.  Could be my blog, my Facebook page, or my Instagram account.  I like to keep everyone guessing.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Snow Days

In case you haven't heard, here in the Midwest we've had A LOT of snow.  I've always loved the snow, but most people are cursing it.  Our little girls have really enjoyed it.  And yes, I was the crazy mom running back and forth on the patio in my sweats and house shoes trying to snap some decent pictures of the little ones.

It's a little hard to walk through the snow when it's taller than your knees.

Baby girl had about three minutes of sledding fame. 

Sometimes it was a little hard to get a great picture from my location on the patio, but I misplaced my snow boots and was not venturing out into the yard in my house shoes. 

She's all cheeks. 

Daddy stopped to say hello as she watched from the inside. 

Not an easy sled to pull in such deep snow. 

Watching out the back door. 

Abby enjoying herself. 

Grace enjoying herself. 

The crazy mom is reflected in the glass. 

Snow angels. 

It's a little hard to swing when the snow is so deep but she managed. 

Our "sledding hill" 

Grace was a big fan of snacking on the snow. 


Abby's version of a snow blower. 

Daddy's version of a snow blower. 

Whew, it was a lot of work clearing this driveway with my Fisher Price lawn mower!

If you've had snow, hope you've dug out.  Stay warm!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Saying Good Bye

A week ago yesterday, my Dad took my Grandma to the hospital because she was in a tremendous amount of pain.  As a result of the leukemia she was fighting, her spleen had doubled in size and part of the vessels had died.  The spleen could not be removed because she was not strong enough to survive the surgery.  Two days later she passed away.

When my parents first told me her funeral was going to be on Valentine's Day I could not believe it.  The longer I thought about this, the more I realized my family had made the perfect decision.  The love between my Grandparents was so strong it radiates through our entire family.  Our love is the foundation my family is built on, and Valentine's Day was the perfect day to lay Grandma to rest.

My contribution to the services was a slide show.  I had no idea what I was getting into, but I put one together and was very proud of the result.  On the day of the visitation I called my Dad for about the tenth time that day (it wasn't noon yet) and he told me he was trying to write a speech for the funeral.  I asked who was speaking, and her replied "probably one of your cousins."  Why them Dad?  Why didn't you ask me?  I know why they didn't ask me.  Because I'm a bawl baby.  At that point I was determined to speak at Grandma's funeral.

The morning of the funeral I still didn't have my speech written.  Everyone kept telling me I needed to write it down so that if I began having trouble the minister could take over for me.  My thoughts:  Whatever, I don't need him.

So, I ate my lunch and proceeded to the sanctuary to sit alone with my Grandma and wrote my speech.  It was so hard.  There were so many memories and things that I wanted to share with everyone who came to say good bye to my Grandma.  But I knew they wouldn't let me talk all day, so I had to narrow it down.  I shared highlights of my memories with her from my childhood, as well as the three "rules" in life I knew she would always want me to follow.

1.  Be the bigger person
2.  Always wear lipstick
3.  Remain loyal to the family

But that didn't feel like enough.  So I decided to share with everyone how/why I had been able to cope since Grandma's passing.  It all leads back to Grace.  My Grace.  My precious five year old, who has pulled me through the last week. 

Since the day she was born Grace had a special bond with my daughter.  Maybe it's because she was the first Great Granddaughter, maybe it's because she was my daughter, but my Grandma always said Grace is an angel.  Not because she's well behaved and adorable, I mean because my Grandma thought she was an angel living among us.  After the last couple of days, I believe she may have been right.

Grandma passed at 10:30 on Saturday night.  On Sunday morning I went to Grace's room and she asked me why I was so sad.  I told her I was sad because Grandma Linda went to heaven and I was going to miss her a lot.  Here's what my daughter told me:

Momma, Grandma Linda wants everyone to stop crying.  She's an angel now, and she's wearing a gold dress.

Immediate call to my Dad and text to my Aunt. 

On the day of the funeral I was in the bathroom putting curlers in my hair when Grace came in.  She asked where I was going.  I told her I had to go to a meeting, but afterwards I would come get her and her sisters to go to a dinner party at MiMi's house.  Grace, "what's the party for?"  Me, "to celebrate how much we loved Grandma Linda."  Next is what Grace had to say,

"That's why she's wearing her dress with hearts on it, it's blue with purple hearts.  Don't you see her Mommy?"  The question was asked to me like I was silly for not knowing what dress she had on and why I didn't know that for myself. 

Grace continued, "Grandma Linda said to put your Valentine's under your pillow and she will get them there.  It was so pretty Momma, she went through a tunnel of light."  At this point I believe I quit breathing for at least a minute. 

I shared that story with everyone at the funeral because I know my Grandma is at peace.  Her suffering is over, and she is now our family's guardian angel.  Today I went to the cemetery and took her a cinnamon roll (her FAVORITE) for breakfast and begged her to stay with Grace.  I don't know if she will, or if Grace will continue to see her, but I hope she does.  It brings me great peace knowing she is still with the family.  My love for my Grandma has no boundaries.  Without her, I would not be the woman I am today.  And by the way, the bawl baby made it through her entire eulogy.  I teared up a lot, but I made it. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Valentine Shirts

For us, part of celebrating holidays means being appropriately attired.

Appropriately attired = festively dressed

I have discovered that the older the girls get, the harder it is to find them cute the holiday shirts. I took matters into my own hands and started my search via Pinterest. Immediately I found a shirt I thought was adorable, and headed out to JoAnn for my fabric. I bought way more than I neede. I have a plan in mind for the extra. I'll see if I can factor the time in for it.

After finding the fabric, the stars really aligned for me. I got an email from the Children's Place. There was a 20% off clearance items sale plus free shipping. My kind of sale. I found these "layering tees" for $2.70 each, plus 20% off, plus free shipping. I bought several. They come in handy for projects such as these.

My pattern came first pattern came from Fancy Frugal Life. This little elephant shirt is so cute. Perfect for my middle lady who loves elephants.

It was at this point in assembling the elephant that I got the idea for Grace's shirt, a butterfly. I tried to free hand a butterfly out of hearts. It didn't work so well. So I grabbed one of my quilt books and located a butterfly. I went with the pattern in my Little Blessings quilt book.

Total, both shirts took me less than an hour. The girls love them. I would have loved to give you a modeling photo, but they are both too busy for nonsense like that. For now, you'll have to settle for modeless photos........

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chicken Fried Steak Debate

Cube steaks are an inexpensive meat, which is why they are always on sale.  I only know how to prepare this cut of meat two ways:
  1. chicken fried steak
  2. in the crockpot
Lucky for me Darren's favorite meal is chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.  For at least five years now, I've used the same chicken fried steak recipe.  It's from my Southern Living Top Rated Recipes cookbook and it's good.  We've always enjoyed it.  


This weekend I whipped up some chicken fried steak using the Pioneer Woman's recipe.  


I will never use another chicken fried steak recipe AGAIN.  It was scrumptious.  I couldn't believe how much better/different the chicken fried steak tasted.  After my first bite I looked over at Darren and asked the infamous question, Well????

I took the full mouth head nodding as a YES.  Once he finished chewing he confirmed that Pioneer Woman's recipe was ten times better than Southern Living.

So, if you've stocked up on cube steak because it was recently on sale you too can have a chicken fried steak cook off.  

Pioneer Woman's Recipe

Combine 2 large eggs plus 1 1/2 cups of milk in a bowl

Combine 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of Lowry's, 3/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 11/2 teaspoons of black pepper

Season your meat with salt and pepper, and dip in the egg mixture.  Dredge in the flour mixture, dip back into the egg, and dredge again in flour. 

Fry it up & keep it warm.  (I do this by putting it on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven)

Onto the gravy.

Using 1/4 cup of the grease you used to fry your meat in, sprinkle in 1/3 cup of flour.  Whisk it up until you have golden roux.  Whisking constantly pour in 2 cups of milk.  The gravy should come to a slow boil, and it thickens while it boils.  Add a little milk here and there to keep it from becoming too thick.  Generously season with salt and pepper.

Side note:  I only made two cube steaks.  I would have had a lot of flour mixture left over, but I had some breasts that I cut into nuggets and used the same egg/flour steps above to cook some chicken for the girls.  They devoured it.  I still have some left over which I plan to add to salads today from lunch.  

Southern Living

Combine 3/4 cup milk and 2 eggs.

Combine 1 sleeve Saltine crackers, 1 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper

Season your meat with salt and pepper, and dip in the egg mixture.  Dredge in the saltine mixture, dip back into the egg, and dredge again in saltine mixture. 

Fry it up & keep it warm.  (I do this by putting it on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven)

Onto the gravy.

For this gravy you will use the cooked bits and 1 tablespoon of the oil you fried your meat in.

Whisk together 4 cups of milk, 1/4 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper.  Add to reserved drippings in skilled, cook while whisking constantly until thickened.  

There you have it, you too can make both for yourself and decide which you like better.  Hope you enjoy!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Back To Blogging

Clearly I have not blogged for awhile.  For the last couple of weeks I've missed it.  I kept telling myself to take some time and go write.  But, between the holidays, cleaning, baking, wrapping, visiting, working, errand running, I just haven't made time.  This evening, I decided I was making time.  So, here's the low down:

We had a fabulous Christmas.  It feels like forever ago.  The decorations are all down and tucked away back in the basement.  The newness of the toys have worn off.  We used up the last of the Christmas candy today, made cookies with it.  All was good.

The new year started the same as the last several have for us, everyone tucked away snoring in their beds.  It was great.

And here we are, a couple weeks into 2013.  I don't make resolutions, because I can't sick to them.  But, I have goals.  Here's what I hope to accomplish in 2013:

  1. Blog more, at least once a week.
  2. Eat less.  It pains me to say this.  I love to cook.  I love to eat what I cook.  I love to bake.  Baking is my stress relief.  When I say eat less, I'm going to feel I've accomplished my goal if I bake two days a week rather than four.  
  3. Exercise.  But this has to wait until spring so I can get outside and walk with my pal Susie.  
  4. Redecorate my living room.  I have my inspiration piece, and an idea for paint colors.  Since I want to repaint most of the first floor I will probably wait until I can crack some windows.
  5. Reduce the amount of money I spend on "retail therapy".  
  6. Take a trip.  With the birth of our third daughter last year we did not take any trips.  We are all ready to go somewhere.
  7. Enjoy just being.  I'm one of those people that always has to be going/doing.  I want to learn to just sit and enjoy what's going on around me.
  8. Finish my daughter's Christmas stockings before Christmas.  They didn't make the mantle last year.
  9. Declutter.  I have a MAJOR garage sale in the works.  Everything goes people!
There you have it.  That's how I'm starting off my new year.  Let's see if I can achieve my goals this year!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Title 9

At first Abby was pretty unsure of Sprinkle, but now that she is not so bothered by her we didn't have to put her up so high.  I did much better this week and remembered to move her every night.  There were even a couple nights I moved her twice because I had thought of a better hiding spot for her.

The girls lived having her in a bowl of m&ms.  It was fun to try and watch them get the candy out without touching the elf.

The fishing from the potty chair got the best reaction from both girls.  It was a real hit.

Then Sprinkle drew on the pictures. Grace thought it was hysterical, Abby thought she was bad.

Santa made Sprinkle a tutu so she sat front and center next to the gingerbread house to show it off all day.

Going for a drive in the Barbie car.  Got little to no reaction for this stunt.

Hanging out on the dining room table got the girls going because they know no one is supposed to touch the balls because one little finger sends them everywhere.  The elf even managed to move my tablecloth.

Last night I was too tired to think about it so I threw her in a bucket of poinsettias on my way upstairs.

Now I'm off to ponder up another week worth of elf ideas......