Friday, September 30, 2011

End of September Book Reviews!

In Praise of Stay at Home Moms by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

This book came highly recommended by a friend (in fact she let me borrow it -thanks a million)!  Let me preface this by saying that I am familiar with Dr. Laura as my dad listened to her when I was growing up and also during the years I worked with him.  This book was a great (and quick read) - it is definitely for anyone having trouble with being a stay at home mom.  Whether you are the one staying home and just need a little reminder or if you are the person bashing stay at home moms.  There is so much we do and she is quick to point it all out and have you feeling very much proud of your decision.  My favorite part are her comebacks for people's rude comments about us stay at home moms not being successful or "important" - this book definitely reaffirms most of my feelings about stay at home moms.  Another key factor is her opinion (which I also happen to hold) of:  Let's not get into a debate about which is better let's just agree that each family must make their own decision and whichever decision is made is just as important as the other.  I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested in stay at home moms - whether they are one, want to be one, or don't quite get what we do (no we don't eat bon bons and watch soap operas all day)!

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The second in the Millennium Trilogy this book was AMAZING!  I could not put it down and even stayed up super late three nights in a row to finish it (I am definitely not a night person)!  While this book picks up where the first book left off I do feel that is separate and could be read by itself with only minimal confusion.  The end of this book however lends itself directly to a third story and is such a cliff hanger that my vow to wait three days before reading again quickly went out the window!  This book continues the story of Mikael, Millennium Magazine, Salander and a few other characters however it also delves back into some past histories creating a whirlwind story.  The relationships between the characters intensifies over the course of the novel and it is amazing the transformations the characters take on.  If you are up for "murder mysteries" this is a great read - but be forewarned it is a very twisted and gruesome book during some scenes. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

To Die For Chive Mashed Potatoes

I LOVE potatoes - just so you know where we are starting off from.  The hubby, he loves potatoes too - if they are mashed, fried, twice baked, or in a stew - his words not mine.  Mashed potatoes are heavenly however plain old mashed potatoes must have gravy and well gravy can be a pain to make - especially when you always forget about it until oh I don't know when dinner is already on the table!  So one day I made up these potatoes (and maybe everyone already does this but I hadn't heard of them)!

Take about 5 potatoes
(out of the 10 lb bag - if you buy the BIG individual baking ones you probably need 2-3)

Peel your potatoes - then give them a good wash!

Chop them up (the smaller the pieces the quicker to cook).

Place in a pot and cover with water
(just so they are covered - again less water means faster cooking)

Bring to a boil.

Cover and cook on Medium Low Heat about 10 mins for small chunks
But basically until you can break them apart (easily) with a fork.

You will need a whole stick of butter!

Drain your potatoes.
We love this pot from Analon it has a draining lid - so awesome!

Add said stick of butter.

Add between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of milk - if it seems like a tad bit too much it's probably good!

Gather some chives while the butter melts
Or previously while the potatoes were cooking.

Once potatoes are slightly mashed - chop fresh chives directly into your pot.
Continue mashing until the consistency you prefer - totally mashed and creamy here!

Serve with your favorite food.
Fried Chicken and Corn over here!

Have any of you tried freezing already made mashed potatoes?
How do you re-heat them?
Any tips?

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Welcoming Fall!

Good morning everyone!  So my hubby surprised me this weekend with a wonderfully amazing present:

Yep a Cricut Expression!  (it was over half off and comes with 3 cartridges - amazing deal - way to go Hubs) of course once he told me I had to call around trying to find it since everyone is pretty much sold out.
Alas I found one and drove like a maniac to pick it up (yes those of you who know me know that means I went the speed limit!)  As soon as I got home I had to try it right away and got to work on this project:

Making our hall closet door more festive!

This is the door before I got a hold of it!

I started by cutting out the letters in size 11.5
This much larger cutting size is why I wanted an Expression over the Cricut Create I currently share with my sister.  But oh goodness there are about 90 unique features I love which are new for this version of the Cricut!  Me and this baby we are going to be working up a storm with the holidays coming!

Then I scrounged up a bag of .99 silk leaves from Target (from last year)
And cut some leaves out of leaf and green paper again using my cricut!

Voila!  This is the view from my seat at the kitchen table - so purty!

In honor of fall and halloween - here is our mantle and its decor!

And the centerpiece of our dining room table!

My hubby really probably bought me the cricut so I would get into the fall spirit - this is his favorite time of year and he could not wait for the house to be all decorated.  The girls are really into it as well and just keep hugging me saying "mama we love the decorations it's so fun in here"!

What's your favorite time of year?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tomato Worm Invasion, Pumpkins, & More!

This is a tomato worm.
We were invaded this weekend by a dozen tomato worms.
Thankfully only two tomatoes got eaten - the rest was plants.
He is a mighty looking "worm".

On the other front - our pumpkins are growing - yahoo!
This one is actually twice as big today as yesterday.
We decided to pinch off all flowers and buds on this vine
in hopes of quickening his growth - so far so good! 

.828 lbs!

.703 lbs!

.734 lbs!

.75 lbs.
Too bad he didn't taste good - at all!

.094 lbs!

1.22 lbs!

.422 lbs

.74 lbs!
We let him get a little too big and he wasn't as juicy as he could
 have been but still great for our first ever cucumber!

1.04 lbs!

Weekly Total: 6.53 lbs!

Annual Total: 119.281 lbs of produce!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fallish Foods - Meal Plan Week of Aug 26th

The cake my sister and I made and decorated last week!

Welcome to fall everyone!  My husband's favorite season is now upon us - next week's menus and going forward will probably include some soups and stews with warm baked breads.  We are loving the warm days and cool nights plus we have planted a bunch of new fall crops.  Baking is what we are most excited for around this house especially since we can do it without running the air too much! 

The corn dogs we made this weekend!

Here is our menu for the week:


Breakfast: French Toast, Yogurt, Plums
Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwiches, Peas, Apples
Dinner: Gumbo from California Cookbook (one of my favorites), Garlic Bread sticks


Breakfast: Granola Bars, Yogurt, Blueberries
Lunch: Bologna Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Applesauce
Dinner: Tostadas, Corn, Spanish Rice in our rice cooker


Breakfast: Banana Nut Muffins, Scrambled Egg
Lunch: Baked Potatoes with Toppings, Grapes
Dinner: Justin's Chicken & Pasta Dish, Garlic Bread sticks


Breakfast: Granola Bars, Raisins,
Lunch: Tuna on Crackers, Cheese, Carrot Sticks, Grapes
Dinner: Chorizo and Eggs, Tortillas,  Fruit,


Breakfast: Oatmeal w/raisins, Toast, Oranges
Lunch: Bean & Cheese Burritos, Corn, Grapes
Dinner: Shrimp and Chicken Scampi, Alfredo Pasta, Salad


Breakfast: Pancakes, Fruit, Sausage
Lunch: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Apples
Dinner: Ham, Baked Beans, Potatoes, Salad


Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Fiesta @ Church - Fair Type Food
Dinner: BBQ Chicken, Baked Beans, Salad

Baking this week: (fingers crossed it gets done)!
Garlic Bread sticks (since they didn't get made last week - oops)
Banana Nut Muffins

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Garden Update!

Well hello there again folks - would you look at the beauty above!  We finally have a cucumber growing!  This is our second year trying to grow cucumbers and we have several of these deformed looking things on the plant - we are hoping they still taste fine which we have heard they will.  Any who the garden is thriving and loving these hot days and cool nights - about half of my fall crops sprouted this week and we have pumpkin flowers!  We probably won't have pumpkins ripe by Halloween (bummer) but hopefully shortly thereafter!  So here is our weekly weigh in:

.593 lbs of tomatillos 

 .91 lbs of cherry tomatoes

.297 lbs of cherry tomatoes

.266 lbs of produce

Our larger tomatoes are finally coming in!
1.5 lbs of tomatoes!

1.19 lbs of zucchini

.89 lbs of cherry tomatoes

.94 lbs of tomatoes

.04 lbs of thyme

.34 lbs of chiles
Yes the habeneros are in!

Total for the week: 6.97

Annual Total: 112.75 lbs!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Food Week of September 19th


Breakfast: Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Blueberries, Peanut Butter
Lunch: Egg Salad, Crackers, Grapes
Dinner: Italian Sausage and Zucchini, Pasta, Salad


Breakfast: Granola Bars, Clementine Oranges, Yogurt
Lunch: Black Bean Burritos, Corn
Dinner: Chow Mein, Egg Drop Soup


Breakfast: Cereal, Clementine Oranges
Lunch: Soup & Grilled Cheese, Plums
Dinner: Steak Pasta Salad, Garlic Bread sticks


Breakfast: Granola Bars, Grapes, Yogurt
Lunch: Chicken Nuggets, Carrot Sticks, Blueberries
Dinner: Southwest Salad (from Family Circle magazine Oct. '11 issue)


Breakfast:  French Toast, Eggs, Peaches
Lunch: Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Plums, Carrot Sticks
Dinner: Breaded Tilapia and Breaded Chicken, Salad, Chive Potatoes


Breakfast: Banana Muffins, Yogurt, Eggs
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Chips, Carrot Sticks, Grapes
Dinner: Justin's Chicken, Parmesan Rice, Zucchini Salad


Breakfast: Cereal, Plums
Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwiches, Goldfish Crackers, Fruit (whatever is left)
Dinner: Homemade Corn Dogs, Salad, French Fries

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Reviews

For the first time in ages I have a TON of books lined up to read - and not just books that appeared but books I absolutely positively am dying to read.  Now some of you have been asking: How in the world do you find time to read?  My answer is three fold

1. I read fast.  As in 75+ pages per hour (ok a boring book might be 45 pages per hour but only because I keep falling asleep).  Seriously I can read three books per one my husband reads.  I can tell you what happened in the book - he can tell you what page that happened on the book and recite quotes from it.

2. We *try* to have quiet reading time each day (or at least a couple of times a week) where we all read books together.  I want to be a great role model and showing them how much I love to read is the best method I could think of.  If I only read at night after they are in bed how are they ever going to know I love to read.  (Plus it is adorable that Big C now laughs while "reading" and otherwise mimics my responses to books).

3. The hubs and I read at night together.  My husband loves reading as much as I do so it is easy for us to make time for it.  We don't have cable television so it is not a distraction.

4. Ok there is a fourth - if I like a book I get super involved and feel like I am living with the characters which means I read whenever I can and will actually stay up late to finish a book!

So there you go the top 4 reasons I believe I can get so much reading in.  And yes I realize I am a geek, nerd, dork whatever you want to call me - I am proud of it!

The books I have finished in September (so far):

Discipline That Lasts a Lifetime by Dr. Ray Gaurendi

This book has been on my to read list for quite some time and I finally sat down and got through it.  One thing I must say is I eventually began skipping the sections regarding teenagers - my kids are enough work now I don't want to deal with some of that stuff yet...if I can mold them now hopefully I won't ever have to read those (hahah).  Any ways I really enjoyed the question and answer style of this book as well as the references to stop and make us think about how we were raised and how people we admire were raised.  I sure knew the rules of the home and the consequences to breaking parents tell me parenting isn't easy but that I wasn't as difficult as most.  The real key point to take away from this book is that consistency is a must...without it there will be a constant battle since the kids don't know which answer you are going to give today.  Definitely a great book and one I will be keeping for reference as the years go on.

The Help:

This book has been recommended by everyone I know and everyone I don't know (seriously a lady at the park walked up and told me I had to read it - yes I attract them)!  Thankfully my neighbor had a copy I could borrow (thank you!) and well I finished it in under 3 days - it was absolutely fantastic.  While there was more chick drama than I usually care for, the setting of the book completely validated all drama.  The story of Eugenia sticking up for something she believed in was amazing and I absolutely love that she did it with help (pun intended).  My brain is always wondering things like "how does the person on the street corner view this situation" which is definitely the scope of this book and having a book written in so many personalities is something I have loved since reading The Poisonwood Bible by Kingsolver.  This book is on my top 10 recommendation list for this year that is for certain - and if you aren't the reading type please at least see the movie.

I normally ask for book recommendations at this point however I will put that on hold as I seriously have more than a dozen books lined up and waiting to be read!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Planting For Fall

Howdy folks - are you enjoying this Southern California semblance of Fall?  Warm days, cool evenings, an earthquake or so...yep we had an earthquake this morning...4.2 magnitude pretty close to our home!  We have been enjoying the cool down with nightly walks and the harvest of our squash and zucchini slowing down (seriously we had over 50 of each).  Plus this cooler weather means we are excited to get our fall crops planted (well we actually started planting last weekend)!

Here is a list of what we are growing this fall and how many we planted in 
each square of the square foot garden:

Carrots (16 per square)

Kale (1 per square)

Garlic (9 per square)

onions (9 per square)

Lettuce (4 per square)

Snap Peas (4 per square)

Broccoli (1 per square)

Cauliflower (1 per square)

No pictures available here. 
Spinach (1 per square)    Green Onion (16 per square)    Cilantro (4 per square)

Now we don't particularly eat winter squash or radishes but we may try brussels sprouts.  What are you growing this fall?