Thursday, January 31, 2013

I love you like fat kids love cake {14 Days of Valentines}

I am kind of a lazy mom.  I like to do fun things for my small humans, but I sometimes mostly lack the follow-through to get it done.  I managed to pull off 24 days of Elf on the Shelf this past Christmas, thanks in part to the calendar I made when I was feeling really "Super-Mom-This-Is-Going-To-Be-SO-AWESOME-How-My-Kids-Will-Adore-Me" about it.  I lost steam half-way through but totally pulled it off for the big win at the end.  I'm classy like that.  And also, Uriah helped.

Last year I wanted to do 14 Days of Valentines, something small each morning when the kids woke up to let them know they are special and we love them.  They are special and we love them 365 days a year, but those days they get things like, dinner and, you know, electricity as tokens of our undying love for them.  Finn didn't get it last year (much like the our elf, Reginald VanWinkle this past Christmas) but it was fun for me and I've come to the realization lately that as long as whatever scheme I've cooked up for them is fun for me, I don't really care if they get the full meaning behind what I'm doing.  They will someday.  And then they will shout from the rooftops how great a childhood they had (now they're just annoyed that I make them shovel snow and pee in the potty, so I think that revelation of my awesomeness is a long way off.  I can wait.).

This year our 14 Days of Valentines theme (yes, there is a theme.  Martha Stweart is my Godmother.) is We Go Together like [fill in the blank here 14 times]...  and I must say, I think it's a genius move on my part.

Finn and I are headed to Duluth tomorrow because let's face it, it's already noon, so today is shot as far as heading into the big city goes, and I'm pretty sure most of what I want can't be procured at the ShopKo-Formerly-Pamida.  While I had this great idea a few weeks ago, I failed on the follow-through (big surprise) and now we are going to have scramble tomorrow to get our Valentine's printed and buy some stuff (like socks and underwear).

So even if our Valentine tomorrow shows up at dinner instead of breakfast, I'm happy and that's all that matters.  And 351 days of showing them love with running water will resume sooner than they think, anyway!

**EDIT:  My Dad emailed me earlier; I think he thought all those college dollars he spent were wasted money.  There are only 13 Valentines here because on Valentine's Day we go all Hallmark on our small humans and get them real, fancy cards.  I also get them a new shirt to wear on Valentine's Day - cheesy pink with hearts and sparkles and kitties and unicorns.  Finn's usually says "I love my Mommy," for obvious reasons.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Let's play catch up via Instagram, shall we?

This is what it looks like here:

Lots of snow.  Lots of cold.  Very, very cold.  Lots of grey.
Lots of clouds.  Lots of wind. Lots of shoveling. Lots of cold.
I love Minnesota.

Because of the lots of cold and lots of snow, 
we've been able to do this a few times:

Uriah got me a hiking back pack for Christmas to lug Finn around in.
I love it.  We only slipped once.  No one was injured.
As soon as it get's a little warmer - you know, 15 degrees sounds reasonable these days,
I told him we'd hike at Gooseberry and look at the frozen waterfalls.

We had our first successful outing yesterday in big boy undies,
and a semi-successful outing this morning.
We're getting there.  My confidence is growing.
My purse is growing, too.
It feels like a small suitcase with the change of pants, undies, and socks added to it.

I made a mini-cake over the weekend - two little 6-inch rounds.
Chocolate Chip Cake with Butterscotch Filling.
It satisfied my need to be creative and the small human's my sweet tooth.
Plus, such a tiny cake means very little in the way of leftovers.

To balance the cake, we eat lots of fruit.
It's keeping us all regular.

Finn has been requesting the yellow cup for his milk.
He looks like a little British tea drinker.
If only I could teach him to hold out his little finger.

I used to have this pink blanket on my couch so that I could snuggle up at night 
when it really gets cold in this old, radiator-heated house.  
Now it's in the back seat of my car so that Finn can snuggle up 
whenever we are forced to leave our old, radiator-heated house.
I don't mess around with frostbite and hypothermia warnings.

Evidently, when the temperature hits -24 degrees without the wind chill, pipes freeze.
Found that out this week.  Good times.  Good lessons.
A brief interlude of wishing we were back in Kansas City 
while I was sloshing around in cold, water-soggy socks
and trouble shooting with Uriah on the phone.
Finn took that moment to relieve himself.  In his pants.  In the worst way.
It was nothing a nap (for Finn) and a bath (for me) couldn't fix.

Except that we have a porcelain bath tub that never really stays warm. 
And an unheated bathroom.
Imagine that.

Monday, January 21, 2013

On my mind today...the weight of things.

  • I feel like my days have been loaded with thoughts of food and weight and body-analysis.
  • What can I eat? What shouldn't I eat?  What do I want to eat?
  • Is it warm enough to go outside?
  • Should I do yoga on the Wii? Obviously, but I don't really want to.
  • My yoga pants are obviously not for yoga.
  • Is this how I want to spend the rest of my life? Constantly thinking about food?
  • Is the alternative somehow better? Not thinking about food, but then, not really being comfortable in my own skin?
  • Who has time for this over-analyzing?  Obviously, I do.
  • One step forward, 9 steps back.
  • Get out and hike a bit with 30 extra pounds of wiggling, giggling Finn strapped to my back.
  • Slip and fall (but don't get hurt).  Enjoy the view.  And then stuck in the house because sub-zero temperatures and wind make going outside a suicide mission.
  • When do I get to feel comfortable?  10 pounds?  25?  When I hit my 40 lb goal?
  • And when I get there, then what?  It's probably best not to worry about that right now.
  • Let's just focus on getting there.
  • Focus on getting off of this plateau that I'm perched on and can't seem to jump down from.
  • One step forward, 9 steps back.
  • Should I dare to cut back on the carbs again?  
  • I hate cutting things out - denying myself.  I lack will-power. 
  • Maybe I'll focus on telling myself I don't want something rather than I can't have it. 
  • Mind games.  Weight loss is a mind game if ever I saw one.
  • Baby steps to the elevator.  
  • Maybe those 9 steps back will be baby steps and the one step forward can be a giant step.
  • Thank you for listening, I'm going back to my menu planning now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting my crap together.

Today is day 3 of making a valiant effort to feel better on the outside and day 410 of trying to feel better on the inside.

I showered this morning - after I worked out (Uriah really had to kick my butt into gear this morning because it was damn cold outside, but as usual, I am so glad he did).  I curled my hair and I applied some make-up.  I am wearing jeans today, but I dressed it up with a shirt and a sweater that cannot be classified as a cardigan.  I did not put on any perfume, but I did apply deodorant, so I think that counts.

Yesterday I wore a skirt.  I don't know if it was the purply-flowyness every time I moved or the apron I put on to make play dough and never took off, but sometime after lunch I was possessed to clean Abby's room (13 year olds are such slovenly humans.). I kept expecting the cast and crew of hoarders to show up at my house at any moment. The girl throws nothing away.  Old magazines that she's torn pictures out of? Found them. Ripped up pieces of construction paper? Found those, too. I found socks and hair bands and a zillion bobby pins.  Don't get me started on what was underneath her bed.  And also, clothes that no longer fit (although her dad has the same penchant for hanging onto things he wore in high school, so at least I know where she gets it from.).  I cleaned and de-cluttered and set a standard of cleanliness that will, hopefully, slowly leach into other corners of our house (hello, closet by the door that has random junk shoved in it from when we moved.  You are next.).

All in all, this getting dressed in real clothes and putting on make-up and doing my hair is making me a domestic goddess.  Who would have thought?

As for feeling good on the insides, that is a slow damn process.  I wish weight came off as quickly and as easily as it goes on, but I am fueling that process with more fruits and veggies.  It started when I was visiting my sister after my prince of a nephew was born.  They had a huge bowl of cut-up oranges and grapefruits in their refrigerator (quick fuel for a new mom, why didn't I think of that?) and they pulled it out with just about every meal.  Last week I was visiting with one of my MomFriends during a much-needed play-date and she was talking about how they were visiting family over the holidays and her girls snacked on a huge veggie tray that was out - they'd just grab a piece as they ran by.  It finally clicked in my head: what an awesome way to get more fruits and veggies into the small humans with little effort!

So last week I got a cantaloupe and a watermelon from the store.  I cut them up and put the chunks in a huge bowl.  Between Finn, Abby and I we polished that fruit off in 2 days!  I couldn't believe it.  Finn and I made a trip to the grocery store earlier this week and he helped me pick out a bunch of fruit - we picked out oranges and apples and pears, Finn requested cantaloupe again, and we got grapes, blackberries and bananas   We cut it all up (I let Finn use a butter knife to "help" me), tossed it with some honey, lemon and lime juice and I pull it out for every meal and let them take as much fruit as they want.  They take a lot.

It has been a huge success, plus it's a quick go-to snack for me or when my sweet tooth is singing loud and clear.  I'm going to need to get more fruit tomorrow.  Abby has requested strawberries this time, and I really don't even care about the price of fruit in this off-season (Strawberries?  Watermelon?  In January?!) because I know it's not going to waste and it's healthy.

Next week I'm going to give some cut-up veggies and fat-free dill dip a try and see if we have similar snacking success.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why isn't every day a special occasion?

{ source }
I got up this morning with my regular sloth-like energy (I really am not a morning person).  Finn managed to sleep in his own bed until 6:30 (praise the Lord) and then he snuggled into "our" bed and proceeded to sleep for another 45 minutes or so.  By 7:15 he  was wiggly, by 7:30 he was all: "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Let's go downstairs and have some breakfast together!"  

I need to change the delay time on my coffee maker.  To earlier.  I tried to convince Finn that we couldn't go downstairs until we smelled the coffee (it's set for 7:50).  He insisted he could smell the coffee (it was 7:32).  The day had begun.

We ate breakfast, two bowls of cereal for him, an egg supplemented mostly by coffee for me, and then we headed back upstairs to get dressed and face the day.  I've started to let Finn pick out his own outfit in the morning (pants and shirt, socks and underwear) in an effort to make getting dressed go a little quicker and smoother. The boy would lounge around in just his undies all day long if I let him (some days I do). But it's cold here, so I try to get him dressed quickly. Today I let him lounge a bit. He read stories and played cars and by the time his feet felt like little toe-sickles, I decided it was time to get dressed. Which meant me, too.

As I was standing in my closet, debating between another day of leggings and a sweatshirt, or yoga pants and a sweatshirt, it occurred to me that I really haven't dressed in anything but the above two options for weeks. Maybe (probably) longer.  When I do leave the house it either to a) pick up Abby from school- no one sees me. b) run to the grocery store - hat, mittens, big puffy jacket. c) walk to the library - hat, mittens, big puffy jacket.  If my hair is in a pony 12 days in a row, I'm not really bothered because, well - nobody sees it.

But this morning, as I debated my wardrobe options, it dawned on me that people do see me - important people. Those 3 people see me every single day and I wondered, aren't they worth getting dressed up for? Isn't it just as important to look put together and alive, ready to tackle whatever the day may throw at us, even if the only thing the day is going to throw at us is trains and playdough? Besides that, I'm pretty sure my husband would like to see me in something other than black yogas or black leggings or sweatshirts. Loungey and lazy is ok once in awhile, but I do have hair that doesn't require a 24/7 pony, I do own mascara and I have clothes that are not completely made of stretchy cotton.

So this morning I showered, I shaved my legs, I put on a dress and I curled my hair. I am wearing make-up. I put on my fancy perfume and some jewelry. It is Tuesday and we are going nowhere. My husband is working late and my dinner dates are 13 and 2. We are going to eat off of the wedding china tonight and I will warm up a plate for Uriah when he gets home. Today is special, it doesn't need a grand occasion to give it reason, purpose, or substance. Today. Is. Special.

This year I plan to make more of our ordinary days a special occasion.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Becoming a "yes" mom.

Cabin fever has been setting in - it's been cold and rainy and a little snowy - which means time outside is limited.  I can only take so much soulful guitar playing/singing from Abby's room and "Let's play trains together, Mama." from Finn before I want to scream.  So yesterday after lunch, as the snow was swirling like a snow globe outside, I pulled out the red and pink and purple paper, the glue sticks and markers, crayons and paints.  I spread everything over the kitchen table and challenged my children to make some creative Valentine's for their cousins (and the hound/kitty cousins, too.).  It was a painty, markery, gluey mess.  I hyperventilation 12 times.

They loved it.

It occurred to me as I was wiping Finn's fingers that they were just going to get paint on them again, so why bother.  It occurred to me that I don't need to micro-manage Abby's Valentine making - I don't need to offer suggestions, she's creative enough on her own.  I realized that I need to be more of a "Let's make a mess" mom.  I need to say yes more and no less.  Abby's constantly asking for artsy projects to do and all I ever see is the huge mess it's going to make and how to keep Finn occupied while she does whatever it is she wants to do or how to amend a project so that Finn can do it, too.  And so I usually end up just saying no.  But I need to remind myself -  even if it's every single day - that it's okay to have paint on shirts and markers on cheeks and scraps of paper all over the floor.  It's okay to let Finn practice with the scissors and to let him taste the crayons.  It's okay to give Abby some creative freedom to express herself, even if that expression includes playing with the sewing machine or Picasso-ing her way to some artwork for her wall.

It's okay to make a mess.
Being the yes mom?  That makes for really happy kids.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dream a little dream.

If it's true that what you do in your free time, when you're not being paid, is what your true calling, then I guess I'd better open a bakery and start getting my cookbook together.

Hope you're having as productive a Saturday as I am!  Next week...Orange Pull-Apart Bread (rising in my kitchen right now!).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quite possibly the most random post.

It's raining here.

The snow is almost gone and the roads are sure to be somewhat slippery soon, although at 36 degrees, I'm not sure how soon that will be.  Luckily Finn and I went to the grocery store this morning for things like sweet potatoes and shrimp (my choices) and watermelon and cantaloupe (his choices.  True story - almost had a meltdown in the produce aisle).   Watermelon is 77-cents a pound and I couldn't decide if that was good or bad, but Finn ate it for lunch and Abby and I have been snacking on it this afternoon, so I think a panel of judges would say good.

We went to the library where I picked up a John Grisham novel.  I'm working my way through his collection this winter and pretending that I can go back to school to be a kick-ass lawyer.  Who needs more kids or quality time with their spouse when John makes litigation it look so easy that even I want to do it, too?  I know I should dive into Les Miserables or The Life of Pi, both movies that I want to see but can't bring myself to do until I've read the book.  Afterwards, I can lament the fact that the movie was sub-par to the book and why, oh why did I waste my $1 on the Redbox to see it (because we all know the movies will be out for rent before I get around to seeing them).  In other movie news, our library has the best movie collection.  I rented Far and Away - Tom and Nicole, circa 1992, before there was a TomKat or Nicole and Kieth Urban.  Before Hollywood mashed the names of couples into one name.  Would Tom and Nicole have been Ticole (sounds like tickle in my head).  And does that make Nicole and Kieth, Nieth?  And would then, by all mashing logic, Heather and Uriah then be Urither?  That just sounds like something itchy you contract from a public restroom and not cool at all.  In retrospect, I should have married someone named Ray, then we could have been HeatRay.  That would have been awesome.

And because I've bounced you all over in this post already anyway (really? I went from rain to Urither.)  Finn has learned to he can pick his nose.  It's his favorite past time these days, second only to playing trains.  I spend more time telling him to get his fingers out of there and running for the kleenex box (so, so gross!).  We're also about two weeks into big-boy undies (with a small hiccup last weekend when he was sick).  He looks so much older without that little puff of a diaper or pull-up under his pants.  I am knocking on wood right now, but softly because Finn's still napping and this is my time.  I'd like to let him sleep a little longer so I can surf Pinterest a little bit...and, all right, I admit it, I'm probably going to mash my name up for more awesome results.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A meal doesn't always have to have meat. {Butternut Bisque}

Do not give up on soup (side eye to Sarah, who claims to not like soup, but whom I saw eat two bowls of this at our sister Emily's baby shower.  And I left the remaining soup at her house!).

What I like the most about soup is that stretches to become a couple of meals in this house.  I always make a big pot of it and then I eat on it for my lunches for the rest of the week.  They heat up quickly and for the most part help me stay well within my points allotment for the day.  In addition to one meal of soup a week (usually Sunday or Monday as per my new menu-planning), I'm also trying to get in one meatless meal a week.  I think it's good for us to venture into some different - even fish-less  - meals.  I hesitate to use vegetarian  because we all know how my husband reacts to a meal that includes no meat (not well...not well at all.).  This soup kills two birds with one stone - it is meatless and a soup.

And my husband ate it happily and requested that I make it again.  I think that's all the endorsement something that has no pig, cow, or bird in it needs.

Also - do you do a meatless night at your house?  What are some of your favorite recipes?

Butternut Bisque
(Serves 12)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 117 calories | 5.4 g fat | 2.6 g protein | 17.1 carbs | 2.8 g fiber | 3 WWP

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • scant ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt
  • 1 large butternut squash (about 4 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cups chicken broth*
  • 1 cup half-and-half**
  • Sour cream for garnish

In a large stock pot, heat butter over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and cayenne to taste.  Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add squash and broth.  Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until quash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in batches, puree in a blender until smooth (or use an immersion blender or if you don't want to pull out any gadgets, mash it with a potato masher in your soup pot).  Return to pot, stir in half-and-half and heat through until warm (do not boil).  Season with salt.  To serve, divide among bowls and top each with 1 tablespoon sour cream; garnish with additional cayenne if desired.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food Light Cookbook, 2011

*Original recipe called for 1 can chicken stock and 3 cups water.  I usually have chicken stock on hand in my freezer, so I just used 4 cups of stock.
**Use fat free half-and-half for even healthier results.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

{ 52 Photos Project | Right Now }

I sat in the car this afternoon, waiting for Uriah to run into a store, Finn softly snoring in the back.  I had my eyes closed, thinking about a lesson plan for my religion kids, thinking about what I want to do for 14 days of Valentines this year, thinking about all the things I still wanted to get done today.  Just sitting there, thinking busy thoughts.

And then I opened my eyes and slowly blinked into focus what was right in front of me.  The most beautiful building, stunning architecture.  A blue sky peeking around the building.  And it occurred to me that sometimes I get so caught of in the doldrums of the daily grind that I forget to open my eyes and see at what is right in front of me.

Sweet Tomato Soup

Okay.  So this is totally a very involved tomato soup.  (Read: you're going to need a full morning to get this done).  But, I promise, the rewards are so much bigger than the time you will put into this soup.

Let me tell you a story about little Heather: she hated all things tomato.  Every single tomato piece that I could see was picked out of everything that I ate.  I could eat pureed tomatoes (ketchup, spaghetti sauce) but if there were chunks of tomato, I had to pick them out.  I wouldn't eat them in BLT's and don't get me started on tomato soup.  I was always the last one sitting at the table on tomato soup night, crying and trying to choke down the soup so that I could be excused from the table.  It was not a pretty sight and chock full of all of the drama I could muster.  I'm sure my mom wondered where this picky, annoying child came from.

And then, suddenly, my tastes started to change.  Well, really only the tomato soup thing changed (I picked tomatoes out of things I ate until I got pregnant and then I suddenly loved tomatoes.  Go figure.).  When I was in college I tried my mom's tomato soup again and I fell in love with it.  It doesn't really taste like tomatoes, more like a somewhat sweet pink-colored vegetable soup.  I still don't buy tomato soup in a can; if I want tomato soup I either pull some of this goodness out of my freezer, or I get to work making it because, for me, there is no alternative to homemade tomato soup.

This recipe makes 4 tomato soup bases.  Freeze them in 2 cup increments (I use old cottage cheese containers or ziplock freezer bags), then when you're ready, pull the base out and slow thaw it over low heat until the base is melted, add 2 cups of milk and a bit of thickener and you have easily the most delicious tomato soup ever slurped.  The taste changes when I make the base in the winter, because the tomatoes aren't as sweet, but throughout the summer when you have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden (or your mom's garden, which is where mine came from this fall) or at the farmer's market, take a morning to stock your freezer up for a rainy, or in my case, a snowy day.

Tomato Soup Base
(makes about 4 bases; 2 cups each)
Nutrition facts (Each base, made with 2 cups of 2% milk, is about 4 servings), Per serving: 170 calories | 5.9 g. fat | 22.8 carbs | 6.4 g. protein | 3.1 g. fiber | about 5 WWP
  • 6 lbs ripe tomatoes
  • 1 ½ lbs assorted multi-colored peppers
  • ½ bunch celery, chopped (about 6 stalks)
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped*
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup salt 

Seed the tomatoes and the peppers.  Tear them into large chunks and add to a stock pot along with the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic. Simmer all the vegetables until soft and a liquid forms.  Once the vegetables are all soft, blend them until they are smooth.  You can use a blender, food processor, or an immersion blender.

Once the vegetables are blended together, strain to separate the juice.  You can do this one of two ways:
  1. The easiest way is to just bypass the blending step above and use a juicer instead.  It will blend your veggies and extract the juice, which is what you want, all in one simple step.  
  2. I do not have a juicer, so I do it the somewhat more time-consuming way – I get some cheese cloth from the fabric store (really cheap; I have a lot on hand), cut 2 nice big squares and layer them together, then I ladle about 2 cups of the vegetables into the cheese cloth.  Working over a fine mesh sieve, I squeeze out all of the juice and discard the leftover vegetable pulp.  Repeat this process until all the juice is out of all of the pulp. The vegetables will be hot, so let them cool to room temperature before you start straining or you will burn your hands as you squeeze out the juice.

After you have all of the juice squeezed out, you should have about 8 cups or so of really pretty red liquid.  At this point, wash your stock pot and put that liquid back into it and bring it up to a very low simmer.  Blend together the melted butter, flour, sugar and salt.  Add it to the strained tomatoes and whisk to blend.

Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.  Ladle 2 cups of vegetable liquid into freezer bags (you should get about 4 bags or 2 cups each) and lay them flat to freeze completely.

When you’re ready to make the soup, simply pull one of your frozen bases out of the freezer and melt it down in a saucepan slowly over very low heat.  Once the base is completely liquid, add 2 cups of milk and cook until heated.  Do not boil.  If you’d like a little bit thicker soup, which I do, bring the soup to a low simmer after you've added the milk, and then add another mixture of the melted butter, flour, and sugar to the simmering soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

*You can use yellow, red or half of each – I use whatever I happen to have on hand.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The healing power of chicken noodle soup.

Here I am...two days in a row!  Amazing.

Today Finn and I both slept in until 9 am.  We needed it.  Yesterday evening tried everyone's patience as a result of no afternoon nap combined with some sort of mutant head cold running rampant through our house (so far only Finn and I have had it; fingers crossed Uriah and Abby stay healthy.).  I feel as though his bad behavior on those evenings is partially my fault; by not ensuring that he gets his nap, I know I'm just setting him up for failure later on when the exhaustion sets in.

And boy does he fail in spectacular fashion when he is tired!

By the time bath/bed/stories came around my nerves were frazzled so Uriah stepped in and took care of the entire routine - with the patience that can sometimes only come when you've been away from the tired/cranky/sickly baby all day long.  And this morning, when he got up for work, I don't think Finn or I even moved.  Usually when Uriah gets up in the morning, if Finn is in bed with us (12 days out of 11 - I know, I me, we're working on this co-sleeping debacle.) he's just awake and ready to start his day, trying to peel my eyelids up and listing all of the things he'd like for breakfast.  This morning he stretched his baby body over the open space in the bed and continued to snore.  Thank God.

When we finally got out of bed, I felt rested and as though I finally had some energy to accomplish some of my to-do list today.  In an effort to rid our house of the yucky germs, I stripped beds and washed sheets and blankets.  I sorted all of the laundry from the weekend (how in the heck do we get so much?  We were only gone for 3 days and I even did laundry before we left!).  The biggest accomplishment of the day, though, was the big big pot of chicken and noodles that I put on the stove for dinner tonight.  I wish this blog had a smell ap; my house smells like it is about to be healed in the most amazing way.

This week I'm going to share a few of my favorite soup recipes because, well, it's winter and everyone is cold and sick (what do you mean it's just my house?).  I wrote about making home made stock here and then freezing it to use later, but today I simmered fresh chicken stock with the bones of a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.   Yesterday was a super exhausting/sick day, and all I could muster was some already cooked chicken and cottage cheese for lunch for Finn and me; the rest of that chicken inspired tonight's dinner, though!  I took the meat off of the bones, added a couple of garlic cloves, a couple stalks of celery and an onion (no carrots to be had in my house today, but you could add that if you had it) covered the whole thing with water and left it to simmer on low.  I strained the bones and vegetables from the broth and then added all the goodies from the list below.  The great thing about chicken noodle soup is that you can tailor it so easily to what your family will eat.  I've started adding kale to my soups, and sometimes fresh spinach.  If I have a squash or a zucchini on hand, I'll add that and if I want a little bit of extra texture, I might add a potato.  Today I'm going for the basics - just chicken, veggies and noodles - and I'm going to make some biscuits and a side salad to go along with it.

Let the healing begin!

{ Simmering stock }
Chicken Noodle Soup

6 cups home made chicken stock
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, beans - or if you have them fresh, use that)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup egg noodles, uncooked
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

Bring the stock to a low simmer.  Add the vegetables and simmer until cooked through and softened.  Bring soup to a boil and add the noodles.  Cook until noodles are desired texture (7-9 minutes).  Turn soup down to a low simmer and add the chicken.  Simmer just until chicken is warmed through.

Other soups to try: Karen's Crock Pot Soup | Ham & Pot Liquor Soup or Vegetable Barley Soup (add some kale to the vegetable barely - makes a healthy world of difference!)

Monday, January 7, 2013

I am trying.

I had great plans for the new know, now that we're all of 7 days into it and I've done nothing on my list of resolutions. I wanted to start this year off with a new direction, to get up earlier and enjoy some quiet me-time before the rest of the world wakes up. That always sounds so nice to me, but I struggle with the actual getting up part. I want to write more, oh, to write more. But I feel more exhausted than ever, and I feel like I'm having to cheer-lead myself through the day with a set of soggy pom-poms (although I noticed this evening that finally, finally the sun seemed to be out a little bit longer before sinking into the earth in a blaze of pink and orange).

What is it about winter that leaves me feeling like I'm neglecting me? And in turn, I feel like I'm neglecting everyone around me (no need to call social services, Finn is fine; I feed him three times a day and he's well on his way to being potty-trained, in fact. Abby's very self-involved these days, so since there haven't been any major or minor melt-downs recently, I'm going to assume she's good). I just want to wear warm mittens and stay under my covers and read very long, very involved novels while drinking tea and eating tons of cookies. The mittens seem counter-productive to staying under the covers and turning pages in a book, but they're cozy, so I'll go with it.

Anyway, all this to say that I will try to be better at visiting this little blog of mine.  And doing some writing while I'm here.