Monday, April 30, 2012

Veggies....Year #2

I got the second annual Hyzy Veggie Garden up and planted today.  I enjoyed my garden last  year even though my squash and zucchini were celibate and while they looked beautiful... they were fruitless....
I talked to the "help desk" at the Nursery and they claimed they'd never heard of that problem and it must have been a fluke.  Only me!
I planted my peppers in the shade of the enormous, but fruitless, squash so they didn't get enough sun and I only got one stunted pepper.  I didn't pick my herbs enough and they flowered and quit growing...

But...Lessons learned....  Hope springs eternal; I've replanted with lessons learned and I will anxiously await the "fruits" of my labor!
Squash, Zucchini, cucumbers

Tomatoes, peppers and leeks

Herb pot and lettuce bowl
The other exciting thing... last weekend I discovered that over the winter my tomatoes had reseeded themselves.  I must have left a tomato or 2 to rot in the pot and they started themselves up.  How could I ignore that?  My little determined tomatoes!  I'm also going to try growing Leeks this  year.  I wanted to do green onions, but I couldn't find any and I wasn't sure if green onions were the same as regular onion that  you pick before they get too big and no one at the nursery could really answer the question. So leeks it is!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What not to wear...says who?

For years I thought I wanted to go on What Not to Wear...I mean no brainer right?  $5000 and they help you buy clothes that look awesome on you and everyone claps and cheers and you live happily ever after! Right?  That is until I started watching a little more closely and discovered that apparently...

 - You can only wear Yoga pants when you are doing Yoga?

 - Sporty Spice is not a Fashion Icon!

 - "dressy" flip-flops are not a real thing!

My whole world was turned upside down and there was no way I was going to give up my yoga pants and dressy flops!  No way!  So, I'm a wish taker What Not to Wear for me... I was happy with this decision until....

I came downstairs this morning in a hoodie and jeans (granted it was a new hoodie) and Zack said to me..." Why are you so dressed up? Are you going somewhere?"

Really? How low have I set expectations for?  Jeans and a hoodie and I'm dressed up?  Maybe I should rethink my What Not to Wear aspirations!?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I have a little hope, a small light at the end of the tunnel...

Zack had his BFF Sal over today along with Sal's brothers and this is what I caught them doing....

They were doing CRAFTS!!!  Actually, they were building boats out of paper, toothpicks and tape.  Then they were going to float them in the tub and see whose was better at floating a quarter or something like that. I was a little fuzzy on the details, but  I was just so thrilled they weren't playing Xbox or MineCraft (otherwise known as MineCrap) on the computer.  They were actually using their brains!  Maybe there is hope that their brains haven't rotted in their heads and dribbled out of their ears!

Friday, April 27, 2012

You can go home again...Part pictures.

Been substituting every day since I got home... Momma is saving for braces (for Zack) and Galapagos Islands trip (for Brenna)!  But I finally got my pics uploaded!

Dad's house growing up

Mom's house growing up, built by her Dad

Pouring over old pics trying to identify people

More pics

I love my Bro!

Relaxing at Mimi's

Sunday, April 22, 2012

You can go home again, it's good, but it's not the same.

      Uncle John's memorial service was very nice.  We were not always close with Uncle John - 2 military families always at different ends of the country, but we visited occasionally and for about 2 years we were stationed in Wichita Falls while they lived there and the kids and we got to know him a little bit better.  As they always do the slide show of pictures did me in.  The pictures of him growing up, the pictures of him with my dad and looking so happy with Nina just remind me that any life ended is sad.  And while we weren't close - he was my Dad's brother and that always leads me down the road of imagining how I would feel if it was my brother... and blah, blah, blah hand me a tissue it's all over.  The best part was sharing memories.  Since it was in Alva, where they all grew up, the people who came to the service were people who had known them all their lives.  They knew my Mom and Dad and their parents and the "remember whens" were great.  I think it was very cathartic for everyone.

     Ian and I stayed with Mom and it was lots of fun just to be together like that.  At the same time if I let myself sit down and think it about it - it's very hard for me to reconcile that my sweet baby Ian is (as he puts it) a "grown-ass man" now.  He carries all the luggage out and loads the car, he offers to pay for things, he wore his uniform to the service, he's a First Sergeant for heaven's sake.  He counsels airmen, he gets people out of jail, he mediates domestic abuse cases, he's a "pretty big deal" now.  And for a big sister who still prints all his birthday cards because she's afraid he'll have trouble with the cursive - it's a little hard to take in!  He's so handsome, mature (ish) and grown-up -it sort of makes me teary-eyed.

     It's also fun, but a little disconcerting staying at my Mom's house.  There are so many things there that remind of my childhood, the spice cabinet that has hung in every house we ever lived in, the bread box I gave her when I was 18, the pictures that my Great Uncle Arthur painted and again hung in every house we ever lived in (and there were a lot ~19), the kids books I remember devouring when I was young and much of the same furniture.  It looks like home, but then it doesn't.  Then there are the other things that make me think of her or just make me smile... her camel collection, all the artwork done by Ian or me or the grandkids, photos that span my entire life and my kids life.  As she said, her house is a little like a living scrapbook, everywhere you turn there's something that brings back a fond memory.  It all makes me smile, it makes me nostalgic and it makes me a little sad.  So much fun and so many good and bad memories, but time marches on and we just keep getting older and older. With stupid funerals it can't help but make you realize that someday she's going to be gone (not for a LONG. LONG. TIME.) and how could I bear to get rid of anything.  I'd have to keep it all and then they'd feature me on an episode of Hoarders....

    On the other hand it makes me very happy and even more thankful that I do have both my parents. Everyone is healthy and active and we all get along and like being together and it doesn't get much better than that!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Trying to go home again...

I am sitting in the airport right now, waiting for my flight to be called.  I am on my way to Wichita for Uncle John's memorial service.  He died a few months ago, but this was the first opportunity for something to be put together for him.  As awful and weird as it sounds, I am looking forward to it because Ian is coming as well and this will be the first time Mom, Dad, Ian and I will be together since my wedding.  I guess that's what they say, weddings and funerals.  But before all the memorial service "fun" begins I have to get through this flight.

I never use to mind flying, but something happens as soon as you (or as soon as I ) have children.  Suddenly the sky was full of fiery crashes, terrorist take overs, mad flocks of seagulls or rogue meteorites !  And the worry that my children would be left alone and forget all about me began.  It's the worst when I fly with only the kids, because then I imagine the plane crashing and me dying and them surviving and being hurt and alone.  It's semi-bad when it's just me flying, because then I always worry that I'll die and they'll forget all about me.  More so when they were little, now that they are practically adults I assume I've made enough of an impression that it will take at least a little while for them to forget about me.  And I hardly worry at all when we all fly together - I guess I okay with us all going down together.  I didn't say it was logical.

For this trip I'm not as worried about terrorists, although based on the amount of snacks I've packed you'd never know,  I'm not as worried because I don't think Wichita, Kansas is a hot bed destination for most terrorists cells.  Plus I've had a white chocolate mocha (decaf), a chocolate chip muffin and a bag of gummy bears so I'm pretty much in a sugar coma!

Plus, I'm also distracted by the realization that NOT ONE person in this entire airport is reading a real book.  Everyone is plugged into a Nook, or a Kindle or an I-something.  It's crazy, as I pulled out my REAL in the flesh paperback BOOK... I'm the only one.  I almost feel like I should take my little book and go hide in the corner.  All the other kids are looking at me pityingly - like "look that poor woman has to read a REAL book, she can't afford a mind-numbing electronic device."  Will real book or Nook be the new class line?  NO PEOPLE... I WANT,  I CHOOSE to read a real book!  Plus, when we have to unarm our terrorist attackers and I beat them over the head with  my nice solid book will make much more of an impact than your flimsy mind-numbing electronic screen will make as it shatters into a million pieces.  You. are. welcome.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My very own Hippo Habitat!

If you recall, the most wonderful Christmas decoration ever... Herald the Hippo came to live at our house this winter.  He was wonderful and magical and I love, love, love him.   When it came time to put the Christmas decorations away, I couldn't bear to lock him away up in the attic for the rest of the year.  So, we took off his Christmas outfit and he claimed a spot in our front garden.  I thought originally I would find different outfits and props for him to celebrate the various holidays, you know... the Valentine Hippo, the Easter Hippo, but we both realized he was much too dignified for those kinds of shenanigans so he remained "au natural" in our garden.  This past weekend we began our plan to redo the front flower bed and turn it into a wonderful Hippo Habitat and we finished it today.  It's going to be wonderful, especially once all the plants start to grow and fill in.  I love, love, love my Hippo Habitat!  I'm sure I'll keep adding little bits and pieces here and there... I have my eye on a particularly adorable Buddha Elephant statue... can you say Happy Mother's Day... hint, hint... What would be more perfect in my Hippo Habitat than and elephant Buddha!

Laying it out

Getting it planted



Look how happy Herald is!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Recipe Night - Two-fer

Another success with a little adapting...
Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken
2 tsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp stone ground mustard

Official version
Preheat oven to 400.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over med-high heat.  Add oil, sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to pan.  Saute 2 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove chicken from pan; add broth, syrup, thyme and garlic to pan.  Bring to a boil, scraping sides to loosen brown bits.
Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add vinegar, mustard; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Return chicken to pan and spoon mustard mixture over chicken.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until chicken is done.  Remove from pan and let sit for 5 minutes.  Place pan over med-heat; cook mustard mixture 2 minutes or until liquid is syrupy.  Drizzle over chicken.

My version
This was very tasty and pretty darn easy.  My changes... a little less maple syrup and a little more mustard.  It was a little too sweet for me, but I'm a much more savory girl than I am a sweet girl.  (But we all knew that!)  John really liked it... Zack didn't even come downstairs... :o)

New Recipe Night #2 - 
Herb-topped Stuffed Tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp butter, divided
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese ( I substituted mozzarella)
4 large tomatoes, halved
 1 Tbsp fresh basil
1 Tbsp fresh parsley

In a small skillet, sauté onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp butter until tender.  Melt remaining butter.  In a small bowl, combine the onion mixture, bread crumbs, cheese and melted butter.  Spoon 2 Tbsp onto each tomato half.  
Place on a baking sheet.  Broil 8 in from the heat for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned.  Sprinkle with basil and parsley.

Official version
These were very good.  My only adaptation... broil the tomatoes with out any cheese topping first.  Then add the cheese at the last minute.  Otherwise the cheese gets brown too quickly and the breadcrumbs and tomato stay cold.

I think I might be back on a roll.  The worst part is that our weather has been so beautiful, 86 today, 92 tomorrow.. that all I want to do is sit outside in the sun and read my book or hang out with the neighbors so it's quite a burden to come in and actually cook something....That's my story and I'm sticking with it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter Recap

We had a very nice Easter weekend.  Our girl got to come home and hang out and we did a fabulous Mt. Burnside Easter Cookout and Egg hunt.  Just like they did it on Leave it to Beaver.

Easter Toilet

Mom's Easter Hair

Too much sugar makes you crazy

Egg Hunt game face on!

No more pictures!
Kids got their Easter baskets in the morning and then we relaxed until the BBQ. The kids actually decorated eggs.  We haven't decorated eggs in probably 5 years, but the Easter Bunny found these really cool (and mess free) Q-tips with dye in them and put those in the baskets.  After they finished with the baskets, we boiled eggs and they decorated.  I think it will be a new tradition.  The Easter Bunny will look for cook or unusual egg dyeing methods and put them in the baskets and then we can decorate after baskets.  Fun!   As usual Mt. Burnside can put on a shindig.  Lots of good food, a huge egg hunt for all the kids - big and small. John had worked all weekend on landscaping projects and we woke up Sunday morning to find the Easter Toilet in the front yard.  I must say it added quite a festive atmosphere to the party.   Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with the Easter Toilet. After dinner the kids and I had a Walking Dead marathon.  That is one creepy ass show!  Gave me Zombie dreams for 2 solid days!

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Recipe Night - Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu

It's been a while, got off the cooking bandwagon there for a week or two.  Spring Break did me in with the enthusiasm for doing anything including cooking.  Seems like the less I do, the less I want to do.  Anyway, break is over and we're back in the swing of things and so it was time for another New Recipe Night.
Crock Pot Chicken Cordon Bleu
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
4 oz sliced ham
4oz sliced swiss cheese
1 (8oz) package herbed dry bread stuffing mix
1/4 cup butter

Mix together the cream of chicken soup and milk in a bowl.  Pour enough of the soup into the crock pot to cover the bottom.  Layer chicken breasts over the sauce.  Cover with slices of ham and then swiss cheese.  Pour the remaining soup over the layers, stirring a little to distribute between layers.  Sprinkle the stuffing on top, and drizzle butter over stuffing.  Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or 2-3 hours on high.

I have the worst luck with crock pot recipes.  The crock pot is not my friend.  But this recipe turned out pretty good.  It was tasty, but it doesn't look very pretty.  Surprisingly the bread crumbs stayed relatively crispy, but you can't see the chicken under them, so when I tried to scoop the chicken out all the ham and swiss slipped off and feel into the mixture.  When you put it on the plate it looks like a big sloppy mess.  But it tasted pretty good.  I think it's a keeper.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Make decisions much???

So.... my wonderful husband quit his job today!  I know... right?  All this done and decided in less than 2 days. That man can make some decisions.  First the new car... now a new job.  He got a job offer from an old High school friend 2 days ago, but this time it seemed pretty serious.  He gets job offers on a pretty regular basis, but no one has been able to match Booz Allen in the money arena, so while he'd like to quit because he hates the 2 hour commute, we aren't in a place where we can take a big pay cut.  I mean, we could do it, but it would be a lot more painful.

He did a 2 hour phone interview yesterday, dithered for about 20 minutes and gave his 2 week notice today!  That man can make some decisions, it amazes me.   I guess that's why we make a good team... he's strong where I'm weak, I'm strong where he is lacking.  I'm good with people, John not so much.  He can make a decision, I can't even pick out my dinner entree when we go out.  I remember dates, John remembers nothing.  He can't hear, I can't see.  When you put us together we make a complete person.

So, we're starting on a new adventure as of April 30th.  He's going to be in charge of the Ft. Belvoir Satellite health clinics in Woodbridge and Fairfax.  It's a pretty huge job but I know he's going to be great at it.  The best part his commute is cut in half or more.  It'll be hairy for the first few months, long crazy hours but he's excited about it.  Bad part... the clinics open July 1st... that means no Alaska trip for Johnny and no salmon or halibut for me. :o(  Good part... I better be able to get a God Damn doctor's appointment when I need one now!

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Hunger as been sated and the hair has been cut!

We finally got to see The Hunger Games!  I would give it a good solid 7-8 out of 10.  Definitely good.  The only thing that prevents me from saying it was great is that I totally hated the filming style.  A good half of the movie was in that herby-jerky, running with the camera method.  A good part of it was blurry as well. I HATE that, it makes me movie sick.  I don't want to experience the from the main characters point of view... I want to WATCH and SEE the movie.  Other than that it was good.  I understand where and why they made the changes and I liked all the casting.  All in all I think we all were most pleased with it.

On an even more exciting note, the annual summer "hair cut off" has happened 3 months early.  Every year Zack grows his hair out all year long, much to John's dismay and then ever summer he cuts it all off and we start the process again.  But out of the blue he decided it was go time now!   I'm not sure who was more excited about the haircut, his father or Ashley his hairdresser!   It's always such  a shock when he does this.  It takes me a couple of days to stop being startled every time I catch a glimpse of him.  We went on a field trip the day after his haircut, and I kept thinking he was lost.  I don't know which I like better.  I think I like which ever one he has at the moment.  When he's wearing it long, I think he looks older.  But when he wears it short I love being able to see has adorable face!  Any way you look at it, he's a keeper!