Monday, March 31, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 48: Still here, and Spring made an appearance too!

Good morning, Crushers!

If this were a virtual running date, er walking for me, I would tell you, "Yes, I'm still here. Yes, I'm still pregnant. Yes, we feel as ready as possible. No, I'm not sleeping for more than a few hours at a time. Yes, we're excited." I think that covers most of the questions... Oh! "How am I feeling? Round. I'm feeling round."

Just in case you ever need to know what NOT to say to a pregnant person, here is a fairly comprehensive list.

Anyway, I'm happy to say that although the baby has not arrived yet, spring has started to show itself. We had a gorgeous weekend filled with family time. Here is a photo recap of the weekend:

The Wisconsin Badgers have made it to the Final Four!
Here's a picture of the bump in team colors. Future fan!

All of the snow is finally gone from our backyard!
There is a bit yet on the north side of the house, but that's OK.

I found these two awesomely ridiculous ceramic snails with pots on their heads
hidden among the brush. Steve raked the whole yard!

We tried out our Ergo Baby Carrier with our nephew Dylan.
He fell asleep in two minutes in the carrier. Look at that little nose!
On Sunday night Steve grilled outside in shorts and a t-shirt.
The first burgers of spring taste so good!
 I hope spring is springing around you, and that you're able to enjoy some nice weather. We are predicted to have a "wintry mix" later this week, but I'm pretending that it's not going to happen. Let's hope the weather stays nice for everyone!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Faith-filled Friday: Speak Life

Good morning, Crushers!

I have the song "Speak Life" by Toby Mac stuck in my head. Unfortunately, I don't know any of the words beyond the refrain, so I'm sitting here humming the same few lines over and over and over. Does that ever happen to you?

Anyway, I was talking to my sister and somehow we got on the topic of high school mean girls. You know the ones - not as bad as Regina in the movie - but the ones that you remember with the perfect hair? The ability to make any boy stutter? The fear they put in the hearts of all? The unwritten rules of where you could sit in the cafeteria?

Now, I was pretty fortunate that my grade didn't have A mean girl. I mean, there was definitely different crowds of people, but there isn't anyone in my mind that I could point to and think, "She was awful." My sister was not so lucky. They had a group of girls who were "plastic" from their fake tans to their dyed hair to their parents' credit cards. These girls? They are why I get really annoyed by teens when I go to the mall, which I only go to if I really need something.

These teens are not just found in a suburban, middle class public school. They can be found in private schools (just ask my mom about "the clique" back in her day at a religious private school), public schools, inner city schools and rural schools. I have friends from college who went to rural schools where you fed cows before class. Somehow the mean girls still had time to get all gussied up before class. Steve could tell you about the mean girls he sees in his inner city classes that exude an aura of "I'm cooler than you".

Where do these girls come from? No idea. I'm kind of guessing that their moms were the mean girls before them and somehow it's genetic. Or maybe it's just that they are in that group? No clue.

However, I really, really, really hope that my daughter (who is due in 2 weeks!!!) never ever acts like that. I hope she always speaks life to others. That never a mean word passes from her mouth to another's ear. I also don't want her to be a push-over, but to stand up for herself when the time is right with the appropriate words. Mostly, I hope that she'll be a more eloquent speaker as a teen than her mother was, who regularly stuck her foot in her mouth (and still does on occasion). Words should be used for encouragement, not cutting another person down.

Raise your thoughts a little higher,
Use your words to inspire,
Joy will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the things you say. - Toby Mac Lyrics from KLOVE

Let's all try and speak a little more life today and every day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Butternut Squash Soup kind of day

Good morning, Crushers!

Steve and I have been working on getting through some of the veggies we still had stored in our freezer from last fall's harvest. We recently ate roasted beets from his family's garden. Remember when they turned my hands purple? Fortunately, that didn't happen when we roasted them this time! HA!

I had some left over butternut squash from fall when I made risotto with my grandpa. Freezing the leftovers really paid off because I was able to turn the squash into a really nice soup last weekend. Perfect for a Tuesday night dinner with some fancy grilled cheese (provolone with spinach and mushrooms - yum!). This recipe made enough for the both of us for dinner plus three 2-cup containers for the freezer!

I took a the Butternut Squash and Carrot soup recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and tweaked it. I didn't have enough carrots on hand, so I substituted potatoes. Also, I couldn't find nutmeg anywhere in the house, so I used cinnamon instead. The soup was a bit sweet, but it was a nice compliment to the salty grilled cheese.

Butternut Squash Soup:
3-4 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into one inch pieces
2 cups potatoes (I used red potatoes), peeled and chopped into small pieces
1/2 a large onion, diced
1 Tbsp butter
1 32 oz box container of low-sodium chicken broth (veggie broth would work too)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup half-and-half or heavy whipping cream

Gear you'll need: A large sauce pan or pot, measuring cups and spoons, a blender or food processor, a sharp knife, cutting board and veggie peeler.

I was fortunate enough to already have peeled my squash, so I didn't have to do that again. What a challenge! Anyway, peel your potatoes and dice them and the onions if you haven't already done so. Put the potatoes, squash, diced onion and butter in the pan/pot and cook for about 7-8 minutes stirring occasionally. They should be tender when you poke them with a knife.
Simmerin' away...

Once the veggies are tender, add the broth and bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for a good 25 minutes. You can stir it occasionally. Your squash and potatoes might start to break down a bit. That's perfectly OK since you're going to puree it in a minute.

While that's simmering away, assemble your blender or food processor. I know that I'm one of the biggest food processor fans in the whole world, but I chose to use a blender for this one. I KNOW. Here's why:
  1. I knew I would be pouring hot liquids and the blender has a spout.
  2. It is easy to measure with the lines on the side of the blender, although you don't REALLY need to measure too much.
  3. It is easy to clean up!
  4. It has a puree button.
  5. I couldn't find the right attachment that I wanted to use on my food processor.
Really, numbers 1 and 4 were my biggest reasons, but I figured I'd share them all just in case it sways you one way or the other.
Make sure the lid is on tight!
Once you're all done simmering, add about 1/3 of the mixture to the blender, make sure you have the lid on securely, and puree the heck out of it! Make sure it's nice and creamy. Although the original recipe said to return it to your sauce pan, I just put it in a big bowl that has a lid because I knew I'd be storing it before we'd eat it. As you repeat the steps to puree the mixture, be careful that you don't spill and burn your fingers or arm.


Anyway, once you've got that all done and in a large bowl or back in your sauce pan, add the cream and spices. You could have added the spices already, so if you did, that's fine. I don't think it matters too terribly much. All the real chefs out there can prove me wrong in the comments if you'd like!

Now you can divide the soup into "now and later" portions or you can just stand there with a spoon and eat it. There's no judging here.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 47: That's where he gets it from...

Good morning, Crushers!

If this was a running date, please allow me to say I'm really sorry if I gave anyone high hopes for the weather over the weekend. It was all lies. You would have needed at least 2-3 layers to run. It never really got warmer than 40 degrees. Tonight's forecast calls for an inch of snow and a high of 22 tomorrow. Ick!

If this was a running date, I would tell you that no less than 5 strangers and 3-4 non-strangers have asked me, "When are you due?" Either I look really pregnant or I've started to walk funny. I hope it's the former and not the latter. I am refusing to waddle. I'm still wearing (low) heels for goodness' sake! Anyway, I think the kiddo should wait to make her arrival until we get some solid 40-50 degree weather. No need to rush into the cold!

If this was a running date, I would have to tell you about one of my new favorite shows. If you live in Wisconsin, you know that we take our cheese seriously. In fact, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association sponsors the World Championship Cheese Contest. Although no American cheese maker has one the top prize since the 80's, Wisconsin earned the most gold medals of any American cheese maker - a whopping 33 gold medals! Anyway, I found this new show called Wisconsin Foodie and they were featuring a grilled cheese cook-off. Doesn't this sound like something fun to do with friends on a weekend? 

If this was a running date, I would tell you that I'm not sure if this kiddo will take after me or her dad in the kitchen. Only time will tell. So far, she match us in active nature, but we are two very different cooks. As you know, nothing Steve ever makes turns out the same. It usually always tastes good, but he never finds a reason to use a recipe. I like recipes and will veer off course to add an ingredient or try something new, but using recipes is like doing good research. Research is something that I preach to my students every week!

If this was a running date, I would tell you how Steve's parents dropped off about 10 jars of "hot beans" which are now taking over our fridge. Fortunately, these things are delicious. It's like pickled green bean with dill, vinegar, garlic, and a few other things I can't quite determine. You know why? NO TWO JARS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME! I even saw part of a cinnamon stick in one of them! Now I know, that's where he gets it from. Steve made chili over the weekend, and despite some identifiable items like beans, beef, and tomatoes, it's as random as the hot beans. In fact, some hot beans made it into the chili.

There's two reasons I needed to take a few antacids on Saturday night - the chili and the Badgers' exciting win.  Seriously, I do not even have to watch the game. I could just sit upstairs and listen to Steve and the guys yelling at the TV in the basement man cave. "WHERE'S THE FOUL?" "DID YOU SEE THAT?!" "OHHHHHHH!" Nothing boring around our house!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Faith-filled Friday: Get excited!

Happy Friday, Crushers!

While we've been studying Jeremiah at Bible class lately, I just can't post some of his confessions this morning. It is too nice of a day to think about snotty Israelite people from 2,500 years ago who got captured by the Babylonians and the prophet they refused to listen to. Just can't.

Instead, I typed the word "rejoice" in the search engine of You know how many results came back? 154. That's a lot of rejoicing. Sometimes people rejoiced with tambourines and dancing. Sometimes people rejoiced after a long hardship. Sometimes people rejoiced just because they could. All of them are good reasons to be happy and share the happy.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:4-7
We have hit week 37 of baby-watch. That's right. We are so close! See? Good think the passage for today also speaks about being patient and not anxious. Because, seriously? I'm pretty excited to meet our little person!

I must admit that I'm also really excited by all the cute spring and summery clothes in stores. It's a beautiful day here in Wisconsin!

Hello, Sunshine!

Granted, it will be back down in the 30's (today's high is 50) tomorrow, but one day in the 50's is better than a foot of snow!

Also, last night, I was at the Wauwatosa Woman's Club and I met this fantastic photographer, Kevin Miyasaki, who is from Tosa (as we natives like to say). He has done a number of travel, fashion and food assignments. Go check out his website, especially the Perimeter project. Go ahead, I'll wait.

He brought two cookbooks for a drawing and I WON ONE! I am stupid excited about this book because it's a memoir about one of my local kitchen crushes, Sanford D'Amato, or Sandy to his friends. I've eaten at Sanford (the author's restaurant), he's cooked with Julia Child (YEE!), and he is opening a cooking school in Massachusetts (road trip?!). I repeat, "YEE!"

Also, it's signed by the author and the photographer. I cannot wait to read it cover to cover and try out some of the recipes. I'm not sure I can try all of them because he has surgeon-like precision with his dishes, and well, you've seen my food photography. But I can try!

So let's all try and find something to rejoice about today whether you've had a good day, you're coming out of a hardship, or maybe you need to save rejoicing for another day. You can do it!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Smart idea! Use that freezer!

Hello Crushers!

Happy first day of spring! Although it is only 39 degrees outside, I am wearing a dress, boots, jean jacket and I am resisting wearing a normal coat. At least for quick walks outside between buildings!

I'm hoping that the weather will pick up on the humans' leads and take note. Also, I hope that all the Wisconsin teams in the NCAA tournament do a good job today! Go Badgers and Panthers!

I just wanted to share a great freezer meal prep idea that I read about from Betty Crocker today. Instead of always prepping a full meal for the freezer, you can just prep a few of the meats to use later. For instance, the link shows that you can shred chicken, brown ground beef (and season it), or make meatballs to use later. Just save those and then thaw them when you need them. It would take up a lot less space in your freezer if you don't have the room, and you can still make lots of recipes from them with pantry staples.

That Betty... she's always thinking!

Jumping over to another kitchen crush, Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats is having a promotion today where you can win a $100 Visa gift card from KitchenAid and Blogher. Not only does her Steak Crostini with Bleu Cheese Marshmallow S’more D’eourves look amazing, but if you comment on her blog, you could be entered to win! Now, I'm not sure that I could handle making savory marshmallows, but I can direct you over there to learn how to do it!

Disclosure: I am receiving an entry into the contest by blogging about the contest. But seriously, you should go read about it and enter too!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 46: Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Dear Crushers,

If this were a virtual running date, I'd tell you to stay bundled up! It's still cold here. Only 20 degrees F! Geesh! Run in layers - green layers!

Finding things to wear while 36 weeks pregnant is getting to be a bit of a challenge. I pretty much stick to my 5-6 favorite outfits now and just rotate them. It's easier than trying to get too creative! Ha! Anyway, I've got a green sweater on and green and orange earrings, so I'm all set for today. Granted, I will have to skip the Guinness and whiskey and a lot of potatoes that normally go with traditional Irish foods that Americans like to enjoy.

I know "throwback Monday" isn't a thing, but I found some photos of my work trip to Ireland that you might enjoy:
"Slainte!" is a traditional toast meaning "Health!" or "To your health!"

The most interesting convention centre I've worked in.

The River Liffey

Inside the chapel at Dublin Castle

The Round Tower at Dublin Castle - they held lots of criminals there.

Some of the grounds at Dublin Castle

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral - makes you want to say a prayer!

On the grounds of Trinity College
Yes, we took the tour and saw the Book of Kells - amazing!

A busy street on one of the few sunny days in June

St. Stephen's Green - the pigeons were not afraid of anything

Me in St. Stephen's Green - about one month before our wedding!

"An Taoiseach" is the Prime Minister

Sweny "druggist" aka pharmacy was mentioned in James Joyce's "Ulysses"

Deliciousness inside!

If they ask for volunteers for a "special tasting" RAISE YOUR HAND!
You get to try a few extras!

If this were a virtual running date, I'd tell you about all the new Irish recipes I discovered! Over the weekend, the PBS Create channel was featuring travel and cooking shows from Ireland or about Ireland. One show that I got addicted to (while I was supposed to be napping/relaxing) was Kevin Dundon's Modern Irish Food. He featured everything from scallop tarts to "Kinky Eton Mess" to a new spin on Cottage Pie. My favorite thing that I ate while in Ireland was either the delicious steak or fish. You can't go wrong!

Despite all these new delicious recipes he showed, Steve and I will enjoy some corned beef sandwiches at some point this week. I might even make my own bread to go with it! I don't have time to start sour dough bread if we're going to eat it before Saturday, but I could do a nice loaf of wheat bread. Also, doesn't this recipe for Asian chicken thighs sound amazing?

Darn, now I'm all hungry. However, if I hear "you're eating for two" one more time, I might lose my cool. People say the weirdest things to you while you're pregnant. Seriously.

Anyway, if we were on a virtual running tour, I'd also tell you the funny thing that happened this weekend. We have been trying to knock out a few projects here and there while keeping most of March low-key in case the kiddo decides to arrive early. We both agreed that the second car seat base needed to be installed. However, the next project we had a bit of a disagreement on. Steve was sure that installing a new digital converter box in the basement "Man Cave" and rearranging all the cords and electronic devices was necessary baby-prep. I thought that assembling the new stroller we got as a gift was more important baby-prep.

They both got done, but it just goes to show that every one's priorities are a bit different. The baby will eventually watch something on TV. We're realistic about that. The baby will eventually need to use the stroller (or mom will need the baby to use it). Granted, the kid won't need either item for a while, but at least it's all done!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Meatball Subs - Steve Cooks

Alright Crushers,

Today I'm going to do my best to write out how to make meatball subs the Steve way. This is a little difficult for me because he doesn't really measure anything. Instead, I will try to give you approximate amounts. 
Chef Steve
Isn't he handsome?

Note: Steve has full ability to edit this, so you might want to come back later and see what he's changed. In the meantime, he's got long days ahead of him this week with parent-teacher conferences!

OK, so here is what he did:

Meatball Subs
Ingredients (approximate):
1 ground pound mild Italian sausage
1 ground beef (at least 85% lean)
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs (maybe? I have no idea - he just sprinkled them in there)
1 cup-ish spinach, cut into small bits (two handfuls?)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 jar marinara sauce
1/2 sliced peppers
about 8-9 hot beans (his dad's recipe, which also is never quite the same)
4 deli brat buns

In case you're wondering what hot beans look like, that's them.
Some people call them dilly beans.
In a large bowl, you combine one pound each of the sausage and ground beef. Add the diced spinach, garlic, and onion until it looks about right. You can add more or less of these items, but be careful that you don't add too much or they could get soggy and break apart.

Oh, you should probably preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (You may want to enlist your wife or someone else to turn on the oven for you if your hands are covered in meat mix - see next paragraph). Take a large baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil (I'm adding the foil part now since we forgot to do it on Sunday - easier clean up!). Then take a baking rack and place it on top of the foil-lined pan. Spray it with some cooking spray so the meatballs don't get stuck. This way they bake nicely and a lot of the grease drips off.

See? We forgot the foil. Oh well, they still turned out great!
Add in the egg and bread crumbs. Then, use your hands to mix everything up and make sure it's all well incorporated. (Steve made a point to note that while his hands were washed, he did this all without taking off his wedding ring). Mold the meat mix into balls that are a little big bigger than golf balls and try to make them a consistent size.

Place them on the cooking rack with about 2-inches between them. Put the whole pan in the oven for 20 minutes or until they're fully cooked. They will shrink a bit, but not that much!

All ready for sauce!
While those are baking, go wash your hands and start on the sauce. Heat the contents of a jar of marinara sauce in a sauce pan along with some ground pepper, a little salt, your sliced peppers and hot beans. Heat it until it bubbles and then turn down the heat or it will splash all over the place.

When the meatballs are done, place about 3 of them on a bun and cover in the marinara sauce. Make sure you get a few peppers and hot beans on there, too. Sprinkle your favorite cheese on top. Then try and eat it without splashing marinara sauce all over the place!

Feel free to add as much or as little sauce as you like.

Monday, March 10, 2014

VIrtual Running Date No. 45: Steve Cooks

Good morning, Crushers!

If this were a virtual running date, I would be telling you all about the delicious meatball subs that Steve made this weekend. However, he wants to tell you about it in his own words. Seriously, all I did was tell him how long to bake the meatballs for and I chopped up a few veggies. He did all the hard work including, "forming the meatballs with my hands - wedding ring and all!"

Please check back later for Chef Steve's meatball subs!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Faith-filled Friday: Oh give thanks!

Hi Crushers,
Lately, I feel like I'm doing nothing with my spare time except writing thank you notes. While I initially wanted to complain that my hand hurts and my handwriting is getting seriously wonky, I know that that would be completely stupid of me.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. - 1 Chronicles 16:34
See that? Give thanks... for he is good. Love.

I cannot complain about writing thank you notes. That means we had that many people to thank for sharing in our joy and excitement as we wait for Baby Girl to arrive (5 more weeks!). Here is a picture of the card we got at work today along with some wonderful gifts:

 If you can read around the cupcake, you can see that everyone is really excited for us! People are so dang happy. I would write out thank you notes every day just for all this love.

If you think about all the loving that God does for us, we would be forever thankful. As we should be. So when we're upset that things aren't going our way, we need to take a break from feeling down and be thankful. Thankful for what you do have. Thankful for things we don't even realize we have!

P.S. This is my 200th post. If you're new here or your a regular reader, thanks for stopping in! I hope you come back for more faith, food, and fitness. And soon, baby pictures!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sometimes things work and sometimes they come out of the oven like rocks.

Good morning, Crushers!

On Monday night, I had this delicious menu planned out with broiled steaks, guacamole, a nice salad and brown rice. We're doing doing steak Tex-Mex style. Makes me want some more of the guacamole as I type this...

Anyway, I have only used the broiler setting on my oven(s) to make fish. How hard could it be to make broiled steaks? Steve said his mom did it all the time, and there has yet to be a recipe from Carol that didn't work.

Turns out that these gorgeous looking pieces of steak (on sale!) could become hard as rocks.

Perhaps I should have marinated them?

Turns out that my trusted Better Homes and Gardens cookbook was full of it when it told me to broil the seasoned steaks 4-5 inches from the heat source for 30 minutes, flipping half way through, based on the thickness of the steak (about one inch). Um, no. Just no. I think they could have been nicely done with 10 minutes on each side.

Bless him, Steve ate two helpings. Why? I have no idea. They were flavorful, but so, so well-done.

Last night was better. We had chicken with spinach and feta on the weekly menu. Originally, I was thinking of making Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts, but then I realized that some of my chicken breasts were not thick enough. I guess I got a little overzealous while slicing up the chicken for freezer prep last week!

What to do? Hot spinach and feta side dish? How about adding some red potatoes? No, that's weird. But wait that could work...

That's how dinner made it's way to the table last night:
From the top going clock-wise, Greek Parmesan oven potatoes, spinach with feta sauce
and skillet chicken with feta sauce.

My mom posted a recipe for Garlic and Parmesan oven potatoes on Facebook last night, but with my Greek food theme, I wanted to use some of the Opa! Greek seasoning from Wildtree. Some of that same seasoning made it's way into the sauce too.

Here are the recipes from last night:
Greek Parmesan Oven Potatoes
2lbs of red potatoes, sliced in thick slices (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick)
1/3 cup oil (I used veggie oil, but olive oil would have been nice)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 Tbsp Opa! Greek Seasoning from Wildtree
4-5 good shakes from your pepper shaker

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil (or you could probably use a 13x9 inch pan). Put all the ingredients in a zip-top bag and shake it up! Once everything is coated nicely, spread it out on the pan and bake for 30 minutes.
Oven potatoes in the oven!

While that is baking, heat some oil (about a Tbsp) in a skillet and cook your chicken breasts for about 7 minutes on each side. They should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. I sprinkled some pepper and salt on each side. Delicious!
Can you hear the sizzle?

Now, if you can manage it, start the feta sauce while you're letting the chicken and potatoes do their thing.

Feta Cream Sauce
(I modified the recipe a bit since I didn't have evaporated milk. Here is what I did)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/2 Tbsp Opa! Greek seasoning from Wildtree
nearly 1 cup feta cheese crumbles

Directions: Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and keep stirring so it doesn't get clumpy or burn. Gradually pour in the milk and just keep stirring. (you may need to go back and flip your chicken over now) Once the flour and milk are all friendly and bubbly, turn down the heat a bit and stir in the seasoning and cheese. Now just keep stirring until the cheese is melted. This will take the rest of the time that the chicken is cooking and your potatoes are cooking. Just keep stirring!

Goes great on chicken and even spinach as a hot dressing! Yum!
So, while one recipe is a total flop, or in this case a total brick, it's nice to know that there's always another recipe to try to redeem a sad, sad steak.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Virtual Running Date No. 44: Ready for Spring and a tip for dredging chicken


If we were on a virtual running date, I would tell you that I'm ready for spring. This past weekend, we decided that we are done with winter. Just done. And this is coming from two people who get REALLY excited about snow. You know how cold it was when I woke up this morning? NEGATIVE 3 degrees F. That's cold people.

Currently, it's a whopping 16 degrees F, but the windchill makes it feel like about 5 degrees F. Can we get a 30 please?! It's too cold to run comfortably. Or at least without a lot of layers. Brrr...

Anyway, I decided to "shop my house" a la Kari Anne at Thistlewood Farms for some springy decorations. Remember how I made that St. Patrick's Day wreath last year? Well, I could not find the grape vine wreath that I used last year for anything. I know it made it to the new house, but I'm not sure where. Since it's been so cold, our Christmas wreath still looks pretty green. So I decided to dress that up. I just tore off the pine cones and big red bow and added a few shamrocks. See?

Ridiculous? Yes.
Do I feel like I'm extending the life of my wreath? Yes.
I also decided to take down all the red and white and gold on our mantle from Christmas/winter decorations and lighten things up with some of my grandma's milk glass and tea cups that I inherited.

It's amazing what some fresh white, pink and blue glassware will do for your psyche and mantle!

If this were a virtual running date, I'd tell you that we also figured that we need to put together more baby stuff since our kiddo is due to arrive sometime in the next 5-6 weeks. YES, I said weeks. Yes, that's slightly alarming, but mostly awesome. We're ready to meet our new person, but we're also totally content to wait a few more weeks.

From left: car seat to be installed, pack-n-play, seat/rocker and
hand-me-down stroller that needs to be cleaned up in the background.
We're ready. Heh. Or at least we look ready!

One last thing I'd tell you if we were on a running date? I have been watching a lot of America's Test Kitchen lately. Good old Christopher Kimball and Julia Collin Davison were talking about how to make a really great Chicken Parmesan without it getting soggy or rubbery. They also skipped a step of the flour-egg-flour (bread crumbs/whatever) dredging that you normally do when breading chicken. Instead they whisked egg and flour together for the first step, and then dipped it in the bread crumbs. Um, hello! This is way easier! Plus, it cooked nice and even.

I would show you a photo of that, but mommy-to-be got hungry before she could take a photo. Oops! If you want, head over to America's Test Kitchen and read the recipe. It's so good.

Note: Only the current season's recipes are available online. If you are reading this a few years from now, you'll have to pay to see it. Or you could just trust me and know that it works!