Monday, June 30, 2008


Passports are in and I'm officially on my way to Costa Rica again come August. It's the third trip but this time it will be special b/c Monkeyface will be with us. I'm a little freaked out about all the reports of people being thrown off planes b/c their children were too loud. *fingers crossed* we make is safely.

I'll be here

and here

While there I'm going to dabble in a little bit of this

Friday, June 27, 2008

Spanking banned in Costa Rica

I am not a spanker but if I was I would not want someone telling me that I couldn't discipline my child the way I saw fit. Legislation in Costa Rica has just been passed barring parents from spanking their children. The bill outlaws all forms of physical or emotional punishment or mistreatment of children. Progressive? I'm not sure. I do think that there are different ways to teach children about respect and independence. I choose not to spank because the worst part of a spanking for me was never the actual spanking, it was having to go get the paddle. It was those few seconds before being punished that I remember most. It was the liberties that were taken away, not the physical pain that I remember.

Recycling at Sam's Club

Who knew that Sam's Club recycled items? Check it out. If you'are a member then it appears that they'll even pay you in the form of a gift card for your old camera, video camera, monitor, laptop, mp3 player, printer, etc. I know that sometimes they are worth nothing but recycling, in my opinion, is always better than throwing it in the garbage.

Food Friday-Crockpot Cream of Tomato Soup

Crockpot Cream of Tomato Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large chopped onion
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 minced carrots
2 pounds peeled and diced tomatoes (reserve and add all juices)*
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I add more)
2-4 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, savory, Italian parsley, mint, lavender) or 1-2 teaspoons dried herbs or spices (Italian spices, basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, cumin, curry powder, nutmeg)**
1 cup heavy cream (I use light cream...I've even used soy milk)

In a skillet, add the oil and sautee the onion until soft. Add it to the crockpot with the carrots and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients except for the herbs and spices and cream. Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours. Add the herbs and adjust seasoning. Cool slightly and puree in small batches. Return to the crockpot and add the cream. Reheat until piping hot, or else cool and chill before serving.

* You can used canned tomatoes but they just aren't as good.

**I add the curry powder for the entire cooking time and I also add Italian seasoning. Then when it's done I take a hand held blender and blend in the cream.

***This freezes well even with the cream. Just be sure to reheat it slowly.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Equal Parenting

Apparently I'm part of a new movment called Equal Parenting. I had no idea that this was a radical concept. The hubby and I just do what works naturally for us. We've always considered ourselves equals and parenting is no different. I don't understand how people don't share the responsibilities of a marriage and family. If I didn't work and was able to stay home with Monkeyface then I would do as much as I could to keep the house running. That would be my job but I know that the hubby would still be there helping me out. If it was the opposite and he stayed home then I would be there to help him.
Now there is no way that I'm going to divide the responsibilities equally and create a list and stick to it. I like the flexibility of saying "If you clean the bathroom upstairs then I'll do the 2 downstairs." I just like being able to see what needs to be done and getting it done. I do most of the grocery shopping b/c I look for deals while he goes in as quickly as possible and grabs what he sees first. I solved this by doing most of the grocery shopping myself and asking him to stop on the way home from work to pick up any fillers we may need from time to time. Same goes for yard work. I hate to mow the grass but I don't mind pulling weeds and picking up limbs. He takes care of Monkeyface every Friday night so that I can have a girl's night out and I spend the weekends hanging out with Monkeyface so that he can work and relax a little when he gets home.
Is this radical? I don't think so. I just think it works for us and keeps our house peaceful. I couldn't imagine not sharing the responsibility of teaching our son.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Now I lay me down to sleep

Before I die, can I please go here?

Bedarra Island in the great barrier reef of Australia.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tiptoe through the tulips with me

Words cannot describe how much I love this

Giving-Day 2.5, 2.6

2.5 Wednesday night I gave my husband about 100 smiles as he ran around the house cleaning. My kitchen looks great now by the way. Smiles of reassureance, smiles of amusement, and smiles of understanding. As of today, he hasn't smoked in 9 days. Completely cold turkey. I am so proud of him.

2.6 Yesterday I extended an invitation to another old friend of mine. He and his family are coming over on Sunday for some grilling goodness. Hopefully the rain will be kind to us and the kids will get to play outside. If not, the house is large enough that the kids can still run around and play while the adults do the same. I'm so excited to have another family to hang out with. Just hung up the phone with said friend only to find out that his wife loves to make cakes. SCORE!

I am so amazed by when you get back when you give. Now don't get me wrong, I am not giving to get back, but by giving I have opened myself up to receive. It has been a blessing to learn this.

Food Friday: 5 Minute Lasagna

This is one of my favorite, easy go to meals. All you have to do is put this together, toss together a leafy green salad with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper, and you are good to go. A lot of times the frozen ravioli is on sale for buy one/get one free so this meal is also really cheap.

Five Minute Lasagna
Serves 6

No kidding—this takes just five minutes to put together!

1 (26 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (your favorite)
1 (30 ounce) bag frozen large cheese ravioli, unthawed
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (optional)
1 (8 ounce) package mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 13-x-9-inch baking dish and spoon in about 1/3 of the
sauce. Arrange 12 of the raviolis on top; then evenly lay all the
spinach over the top of the raviolis. Top that with half of each
cheese. Now cover with another layer of raviolis, the remaining sauce
and the remaining cheese. Tent with foil (don't let cheese touch the
foil or it will stick) and bake 25 minutes; then uncover it and bake
for 5 to 10 minutes more until bubbly.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Giving Day 2.4

Last night I hung out with a friend that I haven't seen since before Monkeyface was born. I sat and I listened. I think it was the best gift I could have ever given him.

Organic Weed Killer

I really hate spraying weed killer or any other pesticide on my lawn. I hate to think about going barefoot in the yard, tracking that in my house and bed. I will be trying Nature's Avengeras soon as I can find it.

Also, you can sign up for a giveaway so maybe you can try it and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why I love this man...

My husband is a sexy, sexy man. The proof is in the puddin'

I really wanted to post something lovely about how my husband is a great father on Father's Day. However, he's not used to me being nice to him and always thinks I have ulterior motives. I do not. He is an awesome guy and I am a better person for knowing him.

Giving Day 2.2-2.3

Yesterday was Father's Day so I had an impromptu get together at my house in order to give my dad his present. I went to the farmer's market early in the morning and scored corn that was picked that morning, cucumbers, peaches, and basil. I cut up the peaches as soon as we got home and Monkeyface ate them as fast as I could peel them. I'm thinking that I'm going to grill some chicken later this week and mix up a peach salsa to go with it. The dozen ears of corn were devoured between the 6 of us and even Monkeyface ate his fair share. I was starting to believe that he wasn't mine b/c I couldn't get him to eat corn. What kid doesn't eat corn? We remedied that though with corn on the cob. It was sweet and delicious and grilled perfectly. Today I had the cucumbers mixed with tomatoes in a salad and they were also perfect. Much better that the waxy withered cukes I get at the grocery store. Tomorrow the hubby is going to whip up something amazing with the fresh basil. I'm thinking that if there are any tomatoes left then I'm going to be taking my lunch to work on Wednesday. Tomato sandwich with basil mayo...mmmm. I love summer. The prices were so ridiculously cheap on all the locally grown food. I think I'm going back every weekend prior to planning my menu and then planning around what is available. It's amazing how much better everything tastes.

Today it was back to work. Monkeyface also moved up to the next class in daycare. It was great picking him up this afternoon and hearing that he knew a few of his colors, numbers, and animals. We've been working on them at home but I never know if he's paying attention. I guess I'm a better teacher than I thought. When we got home I immediately started cooking dinner while the hubby cleaned our bedroom. He quit smoking last Wednesday and so far he's cleaned out his car, his office, and now our bedroom. It's fantastic. These are things that I've been wanting to do for months and talk about doing them, but have poor follow through.
Giving today...lots of "thank yous".
OH and the stimulus check finally came today! WOO HOO!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Giving Day 2.1

Yes, I'm really going to do this again. I really enjoyed the process and creativity and I'm hoping that it becomes a habit.

Saturday was spent out at Pullen Park in the 97 degree weather. Normally I would not have done this but I wanted to give Monkeyface a chance to ride the carousel. When we arrived he immediately ran to the largest thing he could find to climb. This slide was huge and there were plenty of older kids afraid to slide down. He just climbed over them and showed them how it was done.

After the slide I took him over to the carousel where we rode it again and again and again. He didn't understand that we had to get off the carousel in order to ride again so I basically had to peel him off of the horse each time, get back in line, and give the lady my ticket again while keeping Monkeyface from writhing out of my arms. It was worth it though. I just hate being the one that everyone stares at but I got over it really fast. I'd never experienced public temper tantrums before and I think I did well. Besides, how do you make a 2 year old understand that he has to get off a ride to get back on a ride? When he was done, he was done and we moved on to the next part of the park.

It was an extremely hot day so the carousel helped to cool us down a bit and I was able to tear him away at one point to take a snack break.

Yes that's Sheriff Taylor and Opie.

After going down the slide a few more times, I was finally able to convince him to take a boat ride.

Then it was off to Locopops for the best popsicles ever. Really...this face says it all.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Raleigh's up and coming

I'm so thrilled that a place such as Rosie's Plate has finally come to Raleigh. It must be exhausting to have to cook every meal every day b/c you can't be sure of what is hidden in your food. This place looks fantastic and I hope she does well. I often feel very blessed b/c Monkeyface has no allergies so far. I couldn't imagine having to alter the way I do things just so that he could eat.

We've been having tons of fun this weekend so I'll be sure to write about that soon...just as soon as I can catch up. I'm off to make this Cookies and Creme Freeze for Father's Day dessert.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Giving Day-29

So I suppose today is the last day of giving and it is actually bittersweet. I don't want to be done and I think I may do another 29 day cycle because I really enjoyed being conscious of the good I can do. It made a difference in the amount of donations I was willing to give just by realizing that the small amounts I could contribute added up to so much. I didn't think I had the money to donate but I was able to rework the budget to fit these things in. I feel that by giving of myself, I was able to realize how much people gave to me. It was a beautiful cycle and just by typing this I know that I am going to do it again. Even the smallest actions I took made a big change. I felt like I was helping to make my little corner of the world a little brighter.

Today's giving was that I drove K around for her errands today and I loaned out my suitcase for her upcoming trip.

Giving Day 26, 27, & 28

Day 26-Tuesday
This was my last day of vacation and I let Monkeyface sleep in before taking him to daycare for the day. My parents had to come into town to run some errands. On the way they stopped by a "pick your own" strawberry farm and pick 2 giant buckets. They stopped by the house to clean up the strawberries so I asked them to stay for dinner. I came home and whipped something up from the freezer and it was delicious.

Day 27-Wednesday
First day back at work :( I was able to give my brother lunch today for his birthday. I missed out on it Monday since I wasn't working but I made sure to take care of him today.

Day 28-Thursday
On this day I made sure to smile at everyone that made eye contact with me. It was just a simple gesture but I learned rather quickly that people spend a lot of time avoiding eye contact. I also made muffins Wednesday night to bring into work Thursday morning so that I could provide breakfast for my co-workers. This challenge has taught me that I am obsessed with making sure people are fed.

Food Friday as inspired by my lovely sister-in-law

Pepita Crusted Cheddar Jack Southwest Chicken Mac

Recipe courtesy Jenny Flake, Gilbert, AZ

Borrowed recipe from Food TV Episode: Ultimate Recipe Showdown: Comfort Foods

1 pound dry elbow pasta noodles

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno, seeds and membrane removed
2 cups cooked shredded rotisserie chicken
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes with green chiles, mild version

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups shredded medium Cheddar
2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack
1/2 cup shredded smoked Cheddar
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
1 cup coarsely ground roasted salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add dry elbow pasta to boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes or until al dente, drain and reserve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add chicken, cilantro, salt, cumin, pepper and tomatoes; saute for 3 to 4 more minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Remove from heat and whisk in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Place back on medium-high heat, slowly whisk in milk and bring to a boil while continuously whisking. Reduce heat and stir in Cheddar, Monterey Jack, smoked Cheddar and cream cheese until melted and smooth.

Stir in cooked elbow noodles and chicken mixture. Pour mac and cheese mixture into a greased 3 quart casserole dish. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and bread crumbs. Toss to coat and sprinkle crumbs and pepitas over top of mac and cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crumbs browned. Enjoy!

***I definitely recommend halving this recipe if you are a family of 4 or less. It was delicious but we ate it for 4 days straight. This would be great for a family get together as the main course if you did not want to half it. I know that we are serving this when I host the next get together at my house. All you need is some bread and maybe a light salad to make a complete meal because this was excessively rich.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Giving Day 25

Sometimes I dog sit to make extra "fun" money that I spend on treats such as new clothes and massages. Today I hired a long lost friend to install a ceiling fan into the hubby's computer room. It has been so hot up there that his computer has shut off b/c the computer's fan can't compete with the heat. I personally think that is the best gift I could have given him.
I then purchased myself some much needed new work clothes b/c the clothes I had from last summer no longer fit (too big!!) and the ones I bought after Monkeyface was born are just tired. Old, faded, and stained. Now I am broke again and have no fun money left. But it was totally worth it.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Giving Day 24

I just made a donation to the Foyer de Soin orphanage in Haiti after reading several articles about the rising food prices in Haiti causing people to eat dirt cakes. One of the links is here.
I'm amazed how much need is out there once I started paying attention and how little it takes to make a difference.

Giving Day 21, 22, & 23

Thursday was spent getting the house ready for the birthday party. I'm racking my brain to remember what I gave that day. I can't think of anything but I know I did at least one good deed. I'm sure that I opened the door for someone or smiled or gave someone a compliment. I have to trust that I did.

Friday I made another trip to Goodwill and gave away the rest of the Goodwill items I had taking up space in my bedroom. My room looks bare now.
I then had a friend come into town so I gave him & his daughter a place to sleep. K and her man came over and gave me some help decorating for the party. G strung up streamers everywhere and did a fantastic job. It looked really festive in here and when Monkeyface woke up Saturday morning he exclaimed "WOW! WHOA!" He was totally excited.

Saturday I gave my son a great birthday party. One of my friends showed up that has lost over 50 lbs and I gave her about 1,000,000 compliments. Totally worth it too b/c she looks fantastic.

Birthday sum up

I am filling up the kiddie pool right now as I type this. It's 100 degrees and I don't like it one bit. I'm liable to jump into the pool with monkeyface. At least I have a fabulously shaded back deck and a giant umbrella so that I can pretend I am made in the shade.
The gardenia bush finally bloomed this week and the nights smell so sweet. They perfumed the air yesterday at Monkeyface's birthday party. I feel like the party went off really well. I worked the whole time but it was a lot easier this year compared to last thanks to my crockpots. I made creamed corn which was devoured, barbecued beans and weinies, and spinach artichoke dip. It was so easy to serve those along with a Mexican pasta salad that the hubby had whipped up the night before. If I haven't said this before, let me say it now...I love my crockpot. I hate cooking in the heat and this lady has made it easier than any cookbook ever could. I was able to serve 22 adults and 10 kids with minimum effort except for making sure that I spoke to everyone and that the food was being eaten. The hubby has a huge family but I secretly love it. Everyone is very family oriented and I'm glad that I married into such a great family. There is no such thing as a small get together though.
We had a friend videotape when Monkeyface opened his presents and he loved watching it on TV last night. He kept pointing to everyone and naming them and then looking around the room for them. The presents were of course fantastic and he has been running around like a maniac playing non-stop. I actually had to get him out of bed at 10am this morning because he was still sleeping. This is the same kid that is up at 630am every day. Forget a nap! I'd call yesterday a success.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bye Bye Birdie!

I just walked out the front door right as Mama Robin was kicking the babies out of the nest. Now I have 3 baby birds in the front yard at a loss as to what comes next and I still have one bird in the tree. None in the nest though. Monkeyface is going to be so sad. He has talked about those birds every morning. I do hope mama comes back next year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Giving-Day 20

Today is so bittersweet to me. It's the day I lost 2 years ago after the birth of my son. It's the day they hooked me up to tubes and drained 39 lbs of fluid out of my body. It's the day that my life changed forever. I love it and I hate it. Half of me says "Fuck you June 4th!" while the other half says "Woo Hoo! June 4th!" I'm not exactly sure how I'm supposed to feel. I look forward to it b/c I've made it another year and I hate it too b/c I'm reminded of what happened. I do know that I will never allow another doctor to ignore me again. I do know that I will listen to my body and trust what it is saying. I do know that there are some things that I just don't care about anymore. I do know that sometimes it just doesn't matter.

Today I made a donation to the American Heart Association b/c I figure that w/o their research, I wouldn't be here today. They've helped to create miracle drugs that I hate being dependent upon but that I need to survive.

So here's to another year and hopefully the memory gets easier to handle. I look at my son and know that I would do it all again if it meant that I got to be his mom.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Giving-Day 19

Today I gave a meal to a needy family just by sharing ways that we eat healthier. Country Crock has partnered up with America's Second Harvest to give away meals. All you ahve to do is click link below and write a little snippit. It took me less than one minute.

America's Second Harvest is an amazing organization that works with most of the food pantries in the nation. Just click here

Monday, June 2, 2008

Giving day 17 &18

Day 17
I was supposed to sleep in but I was up by 9am. Something told me to wake up and when I checked my email I found that my Canadian cohort was not coming into town :( So I put off the cleaning I had planned and took the day off to catch up on the DVR and to make pasta salad for dinner at the in law's last night. I did a pretty good job with my bacon, green pea, sunflower seed, ranch pasta salad. I didn't give in to my dark side last night when my brother in law said something that really made me want to bite his head off. That right there was a HUGE day of giving. Trust me.

Day 18
I finally gave the clothes to Goodwill. They've been in my car for about 2 weeks now and I just made the time to get them over there. I am giving my dad a place to sleep tonight. He's supposed to be camping out but he didn't make it in time.

I was the top sales person in my office this month. No congratulations though because I was the only person that actually worked the full month. Everyone else was off a week traveling on business. My accomplishment was just shrugged off even though I only booked my own agents, booked other people's agents for them and gave them credit, and did a mighty fine job of it to. No thanks, nothing. I am so glad I'm taking a vacation.