Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Egg Caterpillar


I mean, it's Easter time! And I have so many left over plastic eggs from last year's egg hunts and this year's community egg hunt and the eggs I foolishly bought thinking I may not have enough, I just may go crazy.

There are really cute and creative ways to reuse these eggs (like making popcicles in them, hiding games in them and serving surprise snacks/meals inside)  but I haven't found any that actually get rid of them, I mean...permanently re-purpose them. 

Enter Google, the Easter Caterpillar:

The idea originally came from Child Central Station but I had to make a few tweaks to make it work for the eggs we have. 

First you need:
  • pipe cleaners
  • plastic eggs with at least one hole on each end
  • googly eyes
First you want to string the pipe cleaner through one whole egg, top and bottom shell, to create the tail. 
No, that is not Easter sperm, that is the demonstrated tail of the caterpillar. 
What worked best for me was to use an egg with two holes in the bottom shell to create the tail. I thread the pipe cleaner through the inside of the egg, through the bottom, back in through the second hole and then twisted it on the inside of the egg until it was mostly secure.
(I should have taken pictures...the website did a much better job explaining all of this. I'm just adding the adjustments I had to make.)

Then you only use one half of each egg shell to create the rest of the caterpillar. 
I found, however, that not all of the eggs had a hole in them and the ones that did were too small for the pipe cleaner. So I used a knife to round out the holes to make them large enough for the pipe cleaner to string through. The website directed you to use two pipe cleaners for the entire caterpillar but most of my eggs only had one hole and I'm too lazy to go all cavewoman and carve holes into all of these eggs. 

So, then it was Bella's turn. 

She strung on the egg shells, practicing her fine motor skills, and actually really enjoyed herself. We named the colors and discussed our favorites; hers being pink and purple but she also likes white.

When we got to the last egg shell we strung it through and because I only used one pipe cleaner I was stumped as to how to give the caterpillar 2 antennae like the website did. I tried to convince her it was a tongue but that wasn't going to work for her. 

So I found another egg shell that had two holes, cut another piece of pipe cleaner to string through and create a second antennae. 
Like that.
We glued googly eyes, hence her name, and Ta Da! Bella's new "pet" was created. (Google is friends with a snake also and likes to hang out in the bathroom).

I would recommend gluing the head onto the body to fasten it more securely in place. This morning Google had one eye and a half severed head (rough night in the bathroom). 

If you try this, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. :) It took more improvising than I anticipated but it was worth it. Like I said, she was quickly given a gender, a name, declared a new pet, resides in the bathroom (odd...) and even has a specific noise it makes. She's a great new toy and I'm down several plastic eggs - totally worth it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Make Ahead/Freezable Breakfast Burritos

I'm in desperate need of really quick and on the go breakfasts that aren't over processed, sugary dyed food products. I tried out these breakfast burritos 2 weeks ago which yielded almost 20 burritos that I'm still reheating today. I'm a big fan.

Recipe and picture originally from Are We There Yet?
Breakfast Burritos


1 lb. Pork Sausage 
1 Pkg. Hash browns 
8 to 12 Large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 pkg. shredded cheese 
salt and pepper 
1 to 2 pkg. flour tortillas 

Brown sausage - drain on a paper towel.

Cook hash browns in the same pan. (Definitely use a non-stick pan...)

While the hash browns are cooking whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Add browned sausage back to the pan with the cooked hash browns.

 Add the eggs to the sausage mixture and cook until the eggs are done, stirring gently.

After eggs are done lay a tortilla on counter.  Place egg mixture on tortilla.  Top with cheese.  Roll into a burrito.

Depending on how many eggs you use and how large you make each burrito,  will determine how many burritos you will end up with. 

To freeze:
Wrap the burritos in plastic wrap.

Then place the wrapped burritos in freezer zip-lock bags.

Place in freezer.

The blogger who originally posted this recipe gave specific heating instructions that don't work well for me or my microwave (I'm not sure where to place blame, haha) I end up warming the burrito up for a minute, cutting it in half and warming it up for another minute. 

Here are the instructions the originally post gave:
"When you are ready to eat - take the number of burritos you want out of the freezer (we usually only do two at a time) - unwrap  (yes, I am making a big deal about this - if you have wrapped the burritos in plastic wrap you MUST unwrap them!) - place in a paper towel and warm ONE of the burritos for 45 seconds - take out - warm the second ONE for 45 seconds.  Then put the first one back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. Repeat for second burrito. 

I know this method of warming sounds strange, but we have found to be able to heat the burrito all the way through, this is the best way."

Serve with salsa, sour cream, or plain.  Your choice.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's revived is obvious.

It doesn't always have to be something obvious. 

I'm snapping- speaking before I think. I normally have a problem with the opposite. With not being able to think clearly enough to speak my thoughts. Or I decide against saying anything and later regret it. Later longing to have said the words I stand in the mirror proudly, boldly and confidently stating.

But I'm saying things before they've even been given a chance to process into thoughts.

I'm angry. Why am I so angry? Finding fault at every chance.
What is going on?

Then I'm reclusive. Quietly reflective. Seeking solitude in a loud and angry silence.

In the silence where my mind is busy and I swear must be audibly whirring, I remember.

And it's not always something obvious. 

I remember yesterday. A string a thoughts. A string of thoughts that began normally enough but ended miles away at something hurtful.

The affair. 
The gross details. The untold nefarious memories. It slithered into my day.

And it's not always obvious.

They're small recollections that time has aided me in easily brushing away. But there are times when these small pieces build up and stick like plaque.

A name which can only remind me of lies exchanged, words that wounded, a location that brings with it more questions, confessions dissected. These reside in passages of time that seem hollow except for everything surrounding the affair. And normally these small recollections are things that enter my thoughts and flee as quickly as it came. But sometimes these small pieces don't leave. These stupid pieces. Sometimes they are shaken enough to shift and stick together just right to create the picture.
And it's left sitting there waiting for me to see it. To acknowledge it. To step through some degree of pain all over again.
I can dispose of it quickly or wait for the pieces to fall away on their own, which usually takes much longer.

It's not always obvious until it's enough. 

It's enough to bring me back. It's enough to bring the hot, burning tears. It's enough to bring the vengeful anger. It's enough to bring the self disgust. It's enough to bring the blame. It's enough to bring the tethered and pulling sensations of my heart. To stop it from beating and watch it compensate with deflated movements. It's enough to force me to seek out some form of healing...again.

The picture the pieces created this time brought anger with it - which I prefer because anger doesn't stay long. When it brings the sadness and the bright red wounds is when I grow more troubled. It burrows in, unlike the anger. In those times it's easier to stare into the carved out memories and accept the blame and helplessness than it is to find the energy to fight it.
It's a long and patient wait or a fiercely fought battle to chase away what I thought was done. What I thought was healed.

I can never know how long it will take.

That part is never obvious.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

Recipe originally from Pearls, Handcuffs & Happy Hour

Mexican pasta. That's weird, right? It's the best of both worlds, though. Pasta AND Mexican food?
Obviously, there were conflicting emotions about the recipe when first going into it but I loved it. And my toddler ate everything I gave her. That alone makes this recipe post worthy.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded {or shredded rotisserie chicken, which is what I used}
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 {4 oz.} can diced green chiles
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
2 {10 oz.} cans green chili enchilada sauce
2/3 cups red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cheese 
1 cup sour cream
Penne pasta

Optional toppings
Green Onions
Black Olives
Sour Cream

Cook chicken, drain, and shred {or shred your rotisserie}.  Meanwhile boil pasta according to package and chop the veggies.  

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet and cook onions for about 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic & red pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes. 

Add cooked chicken, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, salt, & enchilada sauces.  Let sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes.

Add cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and heated through.  Now toss in the sour cream, but whatever you do, DO NOT bring to a boil!  Cook on low heat or the sour cream will curdle.  Gross.  Stir until sour cream is well mixed and heated through.

Drain pasta & return to pot.  Pour sauce over pasta and mix well.  Serve and garnish with avocado, tomato, green onion, and a dollop of sour cream.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mommy, the Hypocrite

Bella has turned 3 and immediately following became very interested in makeup. She loves going through the top drawer in our bathroom that hold all of my every day necessities - being my contacts, chapstick, lotion and of course, my makeup.

Watching her put makeup on is adorable, entertaining and a little precarious. 

She dips her finger into one slot of the eye shadow color wheel and lightly dabs it onto one eye. She'll get a touch more onto the same finger and this time press and smear the color across her eyelid and down almost to her temple.
Then she'll use a brush I had given her (that belongs to some powdered eyeliner) to squish into some lip gloss that she'll then smear over the other eye. She studies herself in the mirror and I'll usually see little sparks of a smile flash onto her face for a split moment. Just like a little spark. I take that to mean she's pleased with her work.

She turns to me and says, "Me pwetty, Mama." She turns more shoulder towards me and bats her eyes. It's heartbreaking to see the depth of this little lady unveil itself even more and to think about the baby she was just yesterday. But it's also so hard not to laugh at the mess of makeup on that sweet girl's face.

"Me pwetty, Mama."
"You are so beautiful, baby." 

We're very intentional about communicating that she is much more than her looks. I know I'm her mom but you have to take my word when I say this. She really is a beautiful little girl with big, expressive blue eyes, platinum hair, pink lips and a love of all things girly. Her intelligence, though, surpasses even her beauty. And I hope she lets that take her far in life.

So we take all of these moments with the makeup and dress up and nail polish to level out the compliments on her appearance with compliments on her intelligence, kindness and good nature.

That being said, every time she plays with my makeup I make sure to explain to her that the makeup isn't what makes her pretty; that she's beautiful first without the makeup but it's fun to put on and play with.

Well. I say that. 

The other day we were getting ready for who knows what and I was anxiously jetting around getting everyone ready, lastly myself. I was mentally making a long and deflating list of everything I needed to tend to for myself to be ready to go.

I stood in front of the mirror as a way to double check this list. My hair was in a frizzy bun that hadn't been washed in 2 days and was hardly doing it's job because I had slept in it the night before. All the makeup I had on the 2 days before had worn off. I was in pajamas that were too big. And not in a cute, 'I'm wearing my lover's clothes' kind of way or a 'carelessly comfortable but could still pose in the 'lounge' portion of a catalog' too big. It was a 'I haven't actually observed what I'm passing as attire' sort of way. The options of things I could change into made me even more exasperated because, 2 months postnatal, I'm in between a range of weird sizes. Beyond that I saw all of the typical flaws I loathe about myself and I met what I saw with a furrowed brow and a stare full of disgust and hate.

Palmer yelled from the next room, possibly asking what I was doing, I don't remember but I was mad that he said anything to my frumpy and unkempt self. I snatched up my mascara and fired back with, "I'M TRYING TO MAKE MYSELF NOT LOOK SO HORRIBLE!" 
(Real nice, Amanda.)

It's then my gaze immediately fell onto Bella, who was standing next to me at the second adjoining sink putting on my makeup. The makeup I told her was 'just for fun' because she's beautiful even without it.

Well, well, well. So I say that. 

I helplessly watched my expression of fuming disgust melt into a face void of emotion. I pursed my lips and it almost felt like I had literally punched myself as my heart sank and disappointment rose.

In my more helpless moments in the recurring darkness that visits me, I tell Palmer that I have no business raising these two precious, amazing little girls.
How is a broken, self doubting, loathing and deprecating woman of completely average intelligence supposed to raise little women that are everything that I am not? 

And in the mirror I felt like I had just blown it.

Those little toddlers are so sneaky. They listen to and remember so many things that will surprise you. I'm so afraid this is one of those things.

Luckily, I left that moment with a sound determination to never let what I think of myself reveal itself to my daughters. I'm working on me. And I can't let the parts of me that are getting severely worked over grab a foothold into the hearts of my little girls.

So I say that. We'll see.