Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dinner And Some Baby Snugglin'

With my fave sis in town I managed to pull off getting my hair done, making dinner & dessert for a friend, and delivering dinner in time to snuggle love the most adorable baby girl ever!  Check out this baby's hair!  She is beautiful and perfect for some snuggling!  On the dinner menu celebrating a this perfect princess was:

Ring of Taco Deliciousness 

1 pound lean ground beef
1 package (1-1.25 ounces) taco seasoning mix
1 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons water
2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
Optional toppings: salsa, shredded lettuce, chopped onion and tomato, slice black olives, and sour cream

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook ground beef over medium heat 10-12 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles; drain.  Stir in taco seasoning mix, cheese and water.  
2. Unroll refrigerated crescent rolls; separate into 16 triangles.  Arrange triangles, slightly overlapping in a circle on round baking sheet with wide ends 4 inches from edge of baking sheet.
3.  Scoop beef filling evenly over crescent roll ring.  Bring points of triangles up over filling and tuck under dough at center to form a ring.  (filling will show)
4.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  
5.  Enjoy with toppings!  
Yield: 8 servings

Turtle Fudge Skillet Cake
1 package (18.25 ounces) devil's food cake mix (plus ingredients to make cake)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
4 squares (1 ounce each) semi-sweet chocolate for baking, coarsely chopped
1 jar (12 ounces) caramel ice cream topping, divided
1/2 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
Optional: Vanilla ice cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake mix according to package directions, mixing batter by hand until smooth.  Melt butter in 12 inch skillet over medium heat, tilting skillet to coat bottom.  Gently pour batter over bottom of skillet, spreading evenly.
2.  Bake, uncovered 30-35 minutes in oven safe skillet or until tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Carefully remove from oven.  Loosen edges of cake; carefully invert cake onto large, heat-safe serving plate.
3.  Coarsely chop chocolate squares into small pieces.  Place chocolate and half of ice cream topping in microwave safe bowl.  Microwave, uncovered on HIGH 30-60 seconds or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  Carefully spread caramel and chocolate mixture over cake.
4.  Coarsely chop pecans; sprinkle evenly over cake.  Drizzle with remaining ice cream topping, if desired.  Let stand until topping is set.  Cut into wedges.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.  
5.  Enjoy!  
Yield: 12 servings

Baby Bambino Belly

Here is the baby bambino belly after 18 weeks and 14 pounds...all decked out to attend a summer wedding.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Childhood Memory Becomes A New Family Tradition

I remember standing on chairs pulled up the to the kitchen counter with dad smearing the red pizza sauce over the Chef Boyardee pizza crust and sprinkling on our favorite toppings.  It is a vague, but treasured memory and today we decided it should live on as a new family tradition.   

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes

Although my first batch of fried green tomatoes were not as good as my dad's, I would say they were a success and worthy of a new summer Hastings family tradition.  

3 medium, firm green tomatoes (we got our from the Farmer's Market)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup fin dry bread crumbs or cornmeal (I used bread crumbs)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.  Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices.  Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper.  Let tomato slices stand for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, place flour, milk, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes.

2.   Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in skillet on medium heat.  Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs.  In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 4-6 minutes on each side or until brown.  As you cook the rest of the tomato slices, add olive oil as needed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

3.  Enjoy!  

AJ...My Juvenile Delinquent

This morning when I greeted AJ for breakfast I noticed he had suddenly taken an interest in the interior design elements of his room...he decorated his bed and his pillow with some crayons he had apparently stashed away in his room from the weekend.  It took me a little while to locate the items of interest in this AJ was clever enough to hide them under all of his covers...(maybe waiting to finish his redecorating project later?)  It was very sneaky.  Vandalism at the young age of 2...what is a mother to do?  Check out the photo evidence I logged from this crime.  I titled the last one "Begging For Forgiveness" after he realized I was not going to believe the Douglas did it story.  

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Romantic Weekend in the Mountains

Andy and I dropped AJ off at Nana's work Friday afternoon and headed up the mountains to Vail for a weekend together...a kidless...dogless...weekend!    It was much I can't remember the last time we went on a date.  

Every time we venture up the mountains I put my "ram eyes" on and stay focused, eyes glued the the window scanning the side of the mountain for any exciting form of wildlife...always disappointed with my lack of national geographic experience...UNTIL this time!  As I was hanging up the phone from a chat with my sis, a fluffy white butt caught my eye...a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram!!!  Right there, only a few feet from the highway looking back with a "what are you looking at?' kind-a look on its face.  That was it!  My faith restored in the wilderness of Colorado!  They really do exist!  The trip was already worth it!

We enjoyed the fresh mountain air as we walked along the cobblestone streets of  Vail Village, window shopping and eating the amazing expensive food!  I think we spent our entertainment part of the budget for the entire year in two days, but it tasted fabulous!  The baby appreciated every bite of it!  The shops, cafes, diners, and restaurants had a charming European feel perfect for a weekend away with the hubby.   

We had breakfast at a small French Cafe on the patio one morning watching the cyclists and dogs go by, lunch at a German tavern under bright orange polk-dot umbrellas as shoppers strolled by one afternoon, dinner at a steakhouse one night.  We enjoyed strawberry, banana, and chocolate crepes made fresh right in front of us one evening.  We sat in on a food demonstration as a local chef prepared three different tomato salads perfect for summer.  We learned a lot and got to sample each delicious salad!  Sunday, we wrapped the weekend up by going to the Vail Farmer's Market where we took home fresh Colorado grown sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peaches!  Yum!  It was a perfect kidless, dogless refreshing weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Just Can't Resist Those 23 Flavors...

Everyday after I tuck AJ in for his nap, I run down stairs for a Dr. Pepper.  I feel like by nap time I have earned the right to indulge in a little adult beverage.  We avoid drinking soda around AJ as he always wants a sip of mommy or daddy's "juice".  Then his sip turns into an extremely long gulp, then he wanders away with our cup, then we chase him down...and it just never ends well.  So soda is a kid-free drink around our house...which means we are limited to nap time or after 8:00p.m.   

I avoided caffeine for the first 14 weeks of my pregnancy being the overly paranoid mother that I can be, but then I researched it.  A pregnant woman should not exceed 300 mg of caffeine a day and one 12 oz. Dr. Pepper only has 38 mg.  It's the little things in life...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Few Break-throughs

AJ now rubs my belly softly and says, "baby, baby" with a smile on his face instead of screaming "no!" at the top of his lungs and running off at the slight mention of having a baby... and then he rubs his belly...we are still working on understanding that only mommy has a baby in her belly.   

He also independently said, "tuse me" twice today after he burped.  He is now signing thank you accompanied with a, "t-you" after you give him something he has requested.  T-you still requires prompting most of the time, but we are making progress from the just grabbing and running off that he had fallen custom to.

Although his manners seem to slowly be picking up his new favorite words are: "what?!" "why?!" & "not!" in-no, I will, he is not...or not nap time...  How does he pick up on these things?  Today when I was just talking away to him, not even sure if he was listening, I asked him how he was doing and he replied, "I'm good...happy, happy."  Really?  He must understand a lot more than I give him credit for.   

And the biggest event of the day was peeing in the big boy potty!  That's right, he peed in the toilet...not once...not twice...not three times...but four times tonight!  He loves that thing!  We just thought we would set him on there before bath time to see what would happen and he was addicted!  He demanded, "Potty, I want to potty"  throughout his bath.  Well, we couldn't squash a toddler's desire to use the big boy potty.  In and and and out...and he went pee every time!  We are not sure what this it just a fluke...or am I going to be running with him to the potty all day tomorrow...

We ended the night with reading potty books and curling up in our "choo-choo" blanket.  He is really fascinated with the entire process.  We have been practicing pulling our pants up and down, flushing the toilet, and washing our hands for a couple months now just to spread out some of the new steps in case the day came when he was ready to potty train.  He can pee on demand(he will not get out of the bath until he as peed in the empty tub...yuck...this is why we thought we would try the big boy toilet), wakes up dry from a nap, comes to us with a diaper when he is poopey...we are starting to wonder if he is ready for the plunge.  We don't want to attempt training pre-maturely and stress us all out.  He seems like he might be ready, but I'm not scares the crap out of me!  

A Bag and A Blanket For AJ

AJ and I ventured to Joann's Fabric World early this morning which inspired two crafty projects for a little dude.  We both fell in love with the "choo choo" fleece...thus his "choo choo" blanket was born.  And we were a little distracted by the construction tracker and truck fabric...thus his tracker/truck tote was born.  Now I just need to figure out how to use that adorable Thomas the Train Christmas fabric...I'm thinking PJ's...  

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Victory! At Least For One Day...

I would like to say that my kitchen looks like this all the time, but if you have ever A. worked full time B. lived with a toddler C. been pregnant or D. simultaneously done all three you would know I would be lying.  So I figure I'm not really exposing myself by sharing my feeling of victory.  My kitchen hasn't looked or felt like this in weeks!  It will last...until AJ gets up from his I have about one more hour to bask in the crisp, clean, clutterless room.  (We won't talk about the rest of the rooms in the house...I still have two and a half weeks off track to conquer those.)  I'm thinking carry out pizza, paper plates, and juice boxes on the deck tonight...we are not about to cook or use dishes at least for one night.  

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Just Couldn't Wait...

Fall is my absolute favorite season...and with our recent cool weather it just felt like fall!  I couldn't I feathered my nest for fall!  I love pumpkins and orange and spice candles!  Inspired by Ashley  I even made a fun fall craft for my mantle!  Thanks Ashley!  I love this project!  After AJ tried to eat the faux apples in the hall, we ventured to Krispy Kreme for an afternoon treat!  I love that place!  We watched our doughnuts being made right in front of us and enjoyed their warm sweetness with chocolate milk.  It was like being right there on Unwrapped from the Food Network!  AJ danced his special doughnut dance, waved and said, "bye nuts" as we left the building.  I guess doughnuts is kind-a hard for a 2 year old to say.  He excitedly proclaimed, "happy, happy, happy" all the way home!  I agree, I was happy, happy, happy also!  And the best part is we brought home a whole box of doughnuts for later!  

Great Resource for Parents

After a couple rainy days I starting searching out quality activities to do with Addison.  Check out the great website I found for fun and educational activities to do when you are stuck inside with a toddler.  It is under favorite links to the right.  Enjoy!  

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm Back In The Game...

and the game has a lot of laundry to get caught up on.  Today was my first FULL day of feeling normal again and I actually realized how gross my house has been.  I have been doing laundry since 9:00 this morning.  I guess I just walked around the mess on my way to take naps over the last few weeks, too sick/tired to take notice.  Although Andy had done a few emergency (as in we need something to wear the next day) loads of laundry, he never fully completed any one load.  His loads never made it safely folded in the dresser or on hangers in the closet.  Thus today I spent hours going through the field of extremely wrinkled yet clean clothes in my bedroom floor and sorting dirty clothes I hadn't seen in weeks.  And since my closet ranges in sizes from 0 to 16 and maternity...we ran out of hangers.  That's right 0 to 16 and's like my own department store in there...and yet I can never find something to wear...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An Anniversary Silently Slipped By

The anniversary of my mother's death slipped past me.  Usually a day doesn't go by that I do not think of my mom...what she would think of she would laugh at AJ...what advice she would she would cherish a moment...but I do not think about the day she passed away, August 2, 2005.  I prefer to think about her birthday or holiday memories or how she would react to something.  

Without realizing it, the anniversary of her death quietly came and went.  Jess' blog stirred my memory of that phone call and following week where all time seemed to stop and my world was suspended as I slowly tried to grasp that she was really gone...someone I always thought would be eternally there.  I am sad that it has just become part of my life not to have a mother.  It breaks my heart that my children will never know their Grandma Vickie, and I would definitely love to hear her perspective on pregnancy!   

I have tried to preserve her memory in poetry, but it is hard to capture the true essence of someone as memories fade and become less clear.  Here are four poems I have worked on over the last year ranging from her mounting tissues as she became more and more how she loved a rain how she expressed her how she was a keeper...

It is funny things that remain dear in our hearts over the years that we took for granted in the moments that we lived them.  

Mom's Tissues

Disintegrating in her pockets, white, broken, holey fragments
Wrinkled up in her clenched hands, poised and ready
Tucked under her pillow, safely waiting
Waded up on her side tables, abandoned and mounting
Multiplying in her purse, huddled, lost in the trenches
Perched, fluttering on the edges of the coffee table

Passed to tearful red nosed children: nurturing
Wiping cold runny noses: caring
Absorbing hot sultry tears: comforting
Cleaning dark smudges: essential 

The Joy of a Rain Storm

The smell of the dense earth penetrates the air
Thick humidity travels through her mouth into her damaged lungs
Teasing, taunting...
A vague familiarity begins to stir deep inside her

Drops slowly begin to fall, gaining momentum...
Ripples of childhood memories begin to resonate inside her
A sense of power and adventure thrive

Water falls, thunder and lightening fill the sky
She sits on the porch swing, soaking the sensation in 
Memories cascading forth, energizing her frail body
Refreshing, revitalizing, healing her

Sailboats and Fat Quarters

As I fumbled and rushed out the green faded door with paint chips falling behind me and
curtains left swaying, mom would yell, "I love you more nights curled up on the couch in flannel pj's with ice cold Pepsi, salty popcorn and Reese's peanut butter cups!"

I knew what it meant to be truly loved.

As I settled down, brushing my teeth and washing my face, preparing to nestle into my
cozy bed of tattered quilts and cools sheets, mom's warm tender check would brush mine, and 
she would whisper, "I love you more than...a Marigold's grilled, cheesy club sandwich with garlic mayo...and chocolate."

I fell asleep knowing the depth of my mother's love.

Found scrolled leisurely at the end of a note card with delicate penmanship, mom would write, I love you more than...all the vibrant fat quarters in the world and my computer.  

Far from home, I felt my mother's love well up inside me.

While signing off of AOL Instant Messenger or at the bottom of an email, a clever
thoughtful closing, mom would type, I love you more than...a good book on a snowy day, sailboats, and lighthouses.

I will always know my mother's love.

The Scrapbook Box(es)

Some people have themed and embellished scrapbooks, 
My mom had cluttered, ragged "scrapbook boxes", falling apart at the seams 
and papers spilling out

Some people go through things, filter out, and simplify,
My mom cherished every pen stroke
Every project, every unique picture

8 children, 104 years of grade school
Massive quantities of finger paint, chalk art, and crayon 
Countless childhood stories, letters, and worn note books with kid spelling

Yellowed pages of creations, torn at the folds,
Dusty treasures waiting, anticipating attention and hours of reminiscing,

Sneezing from the residue of time, rusty schema waiting to be rediscovered

(and yes, I kept my portion of the scrapbook boxes...they are in my closet...maybe one day I will show AJ my childhood stories and finger paint master pieces.)

Suddenly Susceptible to Suggestions

Although I am still blind-sided by narcoleptic episodes where I want to just fall asleep mid sentence or mid sporadic pockets of energy are becoming more frequent as week 14 goes on.  Praise the Lord!  Glory, Hallelujah!!!  Maybe one day I will even do laundry again...

AND...the best part:

I no longer feel like I am going to puke every second of the day!  I have slowly been able to wean myself from my daily B6 and flat coke...and I have gained back my initial 9 and a half pounds!...I have mixed feelings on the 9.5 pounds...necessary evil I guess, but I am determined not to reach 60 pounds this time around.  This may be hard for me...really I guess if I am ever going to be fat in my least now I have an excuse. 

With this new found ability to eat comes yet more suffering for poor Andy though.  Because although I would not call them cravings, I have become extremely susceptible to suggestions...thus resulting in being banned from watching the Food Network...and the Taco Bell/Long John Silvers drive thru by our house. (Who says you can't order a meal from both menus at once just for your dinner...I am eating for 2.)

Everything just looks so good!  The other night we watched Unwrapped where they reveal all of the factory secrets behind our favorite foods.  It was an episode on berries which landed Andy out on a quest to two grocery stores and two gas stations at 8:40p.m. for some baby momma snacks.  Needless to say I fell asleep waiting, but quickly woke up at 9:30 to enjoy my cranberry juice, Captain Crunch Crunch Berry cereal, and my amazing Cherry Mash.

It's a good thing I kept those big brown pants from round one...