Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sleepless Nights

Little Miss has been a very restless sleeper. Since the beginning, Husband has gotten up with her in the evening. Only when I can sense that he's becoming frustrated do I step in. I think it stems from the fact that if I don't get a good night's sleep, everybody is miserable. Either way, the other night, Little Miss admitted while she was having issues sleeping. Her leg sleeves keep rising up her legs.


It does make sense that if her arms are called sleeves so would her pant legs. She's so imaginative. In the meanwhile, we've switched her to leggings to sleep in and I think it helped - hard to tell when I sleep through calling out at night.

Books Read in January 2012

  1. The Next Always by Nora Roberts (NOTE: This is the first book in the Inn Boonsboro trilogy.)
  2. Barely a Lady by Eileen Dreyer (NOTE: This is the first book in the Drake’s Rakes series. Because I read the rest of the released book, the order is actually in the post.)
  3. Never a Gentleman by Eileen Dreyer (NOTE: This is the second book in the Drake’s Rakes series. Because I read the rest of the released book, the order is actually in the post.)
  4. Always a Temptress by Eileen Dreyer (NOTE: This is the third, most recent, book in the Drake’s Rakes series. Because I read the rest of the released book, the order is actually in the post though the series is ongoing so if you’re interested, keep checking Eileen Dreyer’s website for updates.)
  5. Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy (NOTE: This is the latest in the Fast Track series. The order can be found here.)
No book club book because I read it last month. Go, me! This never happens. Good, enjoyable month though. Eileen Dreyer is a new-to-me author that has come highly recommended, and I enjoyed her books and definitely enjoyed the unique voice, location and plot. With historical romances, I sometimes feel like everything is recycled. I adored the Nora Roberts book, but she’s always fairly reliable when it comes to a good way to pass an afternoon. Hopefully, February has some good ones coming. I picked up some clearance books as well as Kristin Hannah’s newest so high expectations for all.

Movies Watched in January 2012

  1. Doctor Who
  2. Beastly
  3. Beauty and the Beast 3-D
  4. Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall
  5. Last Play at Shea
Let’s see. I’ve been watching Doctor Who on Netflix Instant Play obsessively. I’m just shy of finishing 2 seasons in a little over 2 weeks. I rented Beastly and Last Play at Shea. I saw Beauty and the Beast in the theater. I got Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall for Christmas and popped in the DVD. I also snuck in an episode of Mad Men, but I’m not counting a random rewatch of an episode. When we do the full rewatch of last season, I’ll mention it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Update - AHHHHH

This is the first weekend in awhile (and for awhile) that we had absolutely nothing planned and, therefore, did absolutely nothing.  Little Miss wasn't feeling that well on Friday so she came home and cuddled with a bit of lethargy and maybe a low-grade fever. 


On Saturday, she was back to normal.  She was, and I quote, "excellent"!  We did take a little walk to the CVS and Chick-Fil-A, but mostly we stuck close to home.


On Sunday, we did less than nothing.  We woke up, had brunch, and then Little Miss and I took separate naps for the rest of the afternoon.  Little Miss did a great job of cleaning the majority of the living room and her bedroom.  She was really funny and loving (though mostly to Husband).


So, it was a fun weekend and it was nice to enjoy it before the busiest February ever.

Weekend Update - Bowling

Last weekend, we met friends at the bowling alley. It was a lot of fun. We did dinner at our place while the kids played. It was great and so surreal to be with Husband's childhood friend and watch our own children.


I can't remember Sunday, but if I do, I'll come back and edit. Below, there is a picture of what happens when you tell Little Miss that it's time to make pancakes. She got her own mixer, mixing bowl and ingredients (the play flour and sugar are slightly out of view).

UPDATE:  Last Sunday, I met a friend for a mani/pedi.  Then, I had to rush home because Husband has been meeting friends for all the football playoffs so Little Miss and I had a nice afternoon/evening at home.  I tried the recipes I previously posted and settled in to watch some tv.  I've been dangerously obsessed with Doctor Who lately.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Can't Handle the Cuteness

I missed the origin of the conversation, but I walked in to hear Little Miss tell Husband that she was nervous to read.  She's been showing a lot of interest in reading and can pick out some simple words like "no" and "cat" and the like.  So, we assured her that there was no reason to be nervous.  The more she practices, the less nervous she'll be.  

So, later, I asked her why she was nervous and she looked at me and said, "I'm nervous because when I read, you won't read to me anymore."

I mean, come on, it doesn't get cuter than that.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Octonauts

The Octonauts is Little Miss's newest obsession. Let me tell you "Octonauts" is impossible to understand out of a toddler mouth, too. She kept asking me to record it, and I had no idea what she was saying to look it up in the guide.

It's essentially an adorable show with bright colors with a cast of characters in an underwater habitat. Through stories, they teach kids about different aquatic animals. The show is based on a series of books and aired a year ago in England but finally made it stateside. This means that all of the merchandise is very expensive due to the long trek across the pond. I assume eventually the toys will make it, but I'm not sure it'll be before Little Miss outgrows the show. Still, she still likes Chuggington and those toys finally made it here so there's hope.

Weekend Recipes

Husband went out yesterday to watch football with friends so I was on my own for dinner. So, I actually cooked a full meal. I made Crunchy Parmesan Chicken Tenders first so Little Miss could have dinner. She ate them with carrots and grapes and I let her have a 100 Calorie chocolate covered pretzel pack for dessert. I did not make the dipping sauce.

Crunchy Parmesan Chicken Tenders

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (about 18)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Brush 1 tablespoon of oil over each of 2 heavy large lined baking sheets. Place the buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and stir to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the garlic with the salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vinegar and then the remaining 1/2 cup of oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with pepper. Transfer the vinaigrette to a small serving bowl.

Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a pie dish. Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk and dredge them in the bread crumb mixture to coat completely, pressing to adhere. Arrange the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the chicken tenders and bake until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Transfer the chicken tenders to a platter and serve the vinaigrette alongside for dipping.

For a side, I made scalloped potatoes. This was a recipe I've had in my box forever and never made. I'm not sure of its origin. It's 3 lbs of potatoes sliced 1/4" (and gave me a nice excuse to use my mandolin). You put the potatoes in a pot with 2c water and 2c milk along with 3 cloves of garlic smashed and peeled. Bring the pot to a boil, stirring so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom. Once it is to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Then, using a slotted spoon, scoop out half the potatoes and put on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. On top, put a layer of Gruyere cheese and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The recipe calls for 3oz total, but I put a little less than 8oz and it still wasn't that cheesy. Repeat with layer of potatoes and cheese with a pinch of cayenne pepper. After, pour a cup of heavy cream evenly on top. Cook in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.

I was a little heavy with the cayenne pepper, but it was tasty, maybe needed a bit of salt, but I'm bad and never salt my foods.

I also roasted cherry tomatoes - a pint of cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano and a couple of cloves of garlic. I put them on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven until they popped so like 10 minutes or so.

Super yummy dinner! Little Miss and Husband both loved the chicken. I can't remember the last time Little Miss asked for seconds.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekend Update - Girls' Weekend

Every year, during MLK weekend, Husband goes to Vegas with the boys. So, for the last few years, I've gotten together with my friends for fun and the Golden Globe awards. On Saturday, we all congregated at a friend's house and had a nice lunch. Little Miss made herself at home - as she always does.

Then, because we hadn't time before Christmas, we exchanged presents. Little Miss (and I) were spoiled with kindness. Then, Little Miss helped my friend's husband work on a little project. She loved helping. I don't know how much help she actually was, but she talked about it all weekend long.
On Sunday, Little Miss got picked up by the in-laws for a sleepover. So, I went out to see a movie and then had a friend over for dinner (see here to see what I made for dinner). Then, we watched 95% of the awards. I'm a dunce and missed about 30 minutes of them. Afterwards, she went home and I watched a bit of post-show before bed. I had to work on MLK Day so no staying up late for me.
On Monday, Husband and Little Miss came home and all was right in the world again.

Weekend Update - End of Christmas

The weekend after New Year's, we took down all the decorations. It was a sad day. Little Miss was very upset to see her little bedroom tree be put away, but she was a good sport. I took the time to reorganize the apartment and clean out a few closets.


When we disposed of the tree, we forced the birth of many, many insects. It is unclear what kind, but Husband killed many, and I squealed for days every time I saw one. It was an ugly, ugly scene - a virtual massacre. I don't think I'll ever be the same. On the plus side, the apartment is pretty tidy and we've kept it up for 2 weeks now. This is a shocking development. In addition, I cleaned the closet that's never been cleaned. It's beautiful.

Weekend Update - Happy New Year!

For New Year's, we head out to the parents' mountain house. Uncle, Aunt, Cousins, Sister, Sister's Boyfriend, Nephew, and the parents were all there already. Sister and her boyfriend left the first full day we were there so we celebrated Christmas that day. It was a big orgy of presents as Christmas should be. Then, we had a big dinner and played Scattergories. Later, we all rang in the new year (well, the kids had gone to bed).

The next day, we all got up to go skiing. It was raining, but we pushed on. Little Miss was great. We took her up a couple of times, but Mom and I were poor teachers and she's a giant lead weight. So, then, Dad had a moment and took some time with her and she progressed much better. When she had enough, she and Nephew went home with Uncle while the rest of us skied.

The day after we head home.  A big storm was heading in so we all got up and got going.  Then, it was school and work the next day.  It was a good time even though time goes by quickly!  Video below of Little Miss showing the slope who's boss.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Recipes!

I tried a few new recipes this past weekend with the boy out of town and brought back some favorites he won't eat. On Friday, I tried Ina Garten's Meatloaf.

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup canned chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (81 percent lean)
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs (recommended: Progresso)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (recommended: Heinz)
Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don't mash or the meat loaf will be dense. Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F and the meat loaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven, under the meat loaf, will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot.

I prefer mine a little more on the tomato side, but it was still tasty and easy to make.  I heated up some leftover corn to go with it.

On Saturday, I made Tyler Florence's French Onion Soup. It was pretty tasty.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 1/2 pound grated Gruyere
Directions

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.

Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

On Sunday, I roasted a chicken with a little butter, lemon slices, thyme and rosemary.  It was good, but I'll still have to play around with it.  For my first try, it wasn't bad.  It was good enough to eat at least.  I also made roasted cauliflower with it. That was delicious. I've made it before, and it always gets better and better.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower, Onions, and Garlic
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, cut in half if large
  • 1-2 small onions, cut into large cubes
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
Optional Garnish - chopped parsley or chives, crushed red pepper flakes, or parmesan

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place veggies in a large casserole dish; toss with dressing. Bake at 400F for about an hour, stirring every 10 minutes. Garnish.

Last night, we had various leftovers - the soup for an appetizer and meatloaf as a main course.  I sauteed up some shallots in butter, added snow peas and then squeezed a slice of lemon.  It's such an easy and tasty veggie and just something different than our usual stand by veggies.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Haircut!

I got my haircut on the way home yesterday. I liked it more yesterday when I had someone fuss over it for more than 30 seconds. Still, I do prefer it short as does Husband.

Weekend Update - Merry Christmas!

I worked a full day the Thursday before Christmas, but after work, I met friends and went to a movie.  It was nice to get together before the holidays hit and it was going to be weeks before we could get together again.  I did have Friday off. It was a nice relaxing day. On Saturday, we lounged around the house and then got ready to host Christmas Eve dinner. We went to church and then had the In-Laws over for dinner.


On Christmas morning, Little Miss woke up and came into our room to whisper, "There are presents under our tree!"
So, of course, we had to get up and open presents. It was nice. We had time to open presents and play with all her new toys. Santa didn't give her too much because she was going to be spoiled by the family, but she was happy. Then, she and I took a nice nap before we went to the Inlaws' apartment for dinner. She was thoroughly spoiled as expected.
The day after Christmas, we were off from work. We took Little Miss to the park to blow bubbles and play at the playground. She had a blast. Then, we went grocery shopping which is one of her favorite things to do. After, there was naptime and dinner.
All in all, it was a nice holiday and relaxing. I think Little Miss had a good Christmas, and that's all that counts.

Oh, in regards to that second picture, she's obsessed with Pinkalicious.  So, she wore her new Pinkalicious t-shirt and dressed in pink from head to toe.  This was the only way to convince her to wear clothes on Christmas.  As a bonus, Brother-in-Law, Sister-in-Law and Nephew bought her the book and stuffed doll as a Christmas present.  She's been sleeping with the doll every night since.