Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing


I made this for a group of 20 people and there was still fruit left over. It's one of my favorite healthier snacks for get togethers now. 
Add to that the fact that this was put together last minute in about 15 minutes. Hallelujah.

Recipe and picture originally from Oh! You Cook!

Fruit Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing 


1 pt. container strawberries
1 pt. container blueberries
(I actually used about 1 1/2 bags of frozen blueberries because I'm cheap.)
1  bunch (about 1 1/2 lbs.) seedless grapes (green, red or a mixture of both)
1/4 cup honey
juice from 2 limes (about 2-3 tablespoons)


Rinse strawberries, blueberries and grapes.  
Gently pat dry the fruit.  Hull strawberries, then cut each in half; if large, cut into quarters.
Remove stems from blueberries, if any.
Remove grapes from stems.
Gently combine all three in a large bowl or aluminum tray.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together honey and lime juice.  Pour over fruit.  

Ta da. Ea - sy.

Tequila Lime Chicken

This is one I will definitely attempt again because I know the potential for this is amazing but I am the worst at cooking anything that's not beef on a stovetop. My chicken always ends up raw or dry. And if I'm cooking a breaded chicken, forget it.
That being said, this chicken came out dry and tasting like half of the flavor had cooked out. What flavor was there was wonderful though! The sweetness of the tequila and the sour smell and tang of the lime was refreshing - and perfect for the warm evening we ate it with.
If you try this, I hope it turns out perfect for you!

Tequila Lime Chicken

Recipe originally from Plain Chicken

3 whole Limes, Juiced
5 cloves Garlic, Peeled
1 whole Jalapeno, Sliced 
(I ommitted the Jalapenos because I don't like them...)
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ cups Cilantro
½ cups Tequila
5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated

Combine lime juice, garlic cloves, sliced jalapeno, salt, cilantro, and tequila in a food processor or blender. Pulse until combined. Turn on the blender/food processor and drizzle in the olive oil until it’s all combined. 

Slightly flatten chicken breasts with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Place in a plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag and marinate for several hours or (preferably) overnight.

When ready to cook, remove chicken from bag and place on the grill. Cook until completely done. Toward the end of cooking, top chicken breasts with grated Monterey Jack and allow to melt. (You can also top chicken with cheese and melt under the broiler.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fakebook


This is a post I have lost 3 times now. The completed draft mysteriously vanished. Another attempt was lost when the computer restarted for an update and 3 minutes ago I lost it when I tried to copy and paste something, which I guess was absolutely too much for this computer to handle, and it shut the program down. 


The idea for this post came to me about two months ago where I thought chronicling my day to the minute would be an entertaining and terrifying look into the busy, joyful, mind numbing, strengthening, chaotic, beautiful and sometimes isolating look into motherhood. 

I had planned to do that for a week until I remembered that just trying to feed two children in the morning was really hard, let alone taking the time to take note of when and what was happening in the moment. I'll just call that idea a moment of temporary insanity and laugh it off.


So, the next day I tried it. I noted everything notable from wakeup through dinnertime. And it was the perfect day to do so because the mood swings and tantrums of that day were those that birth control companies would pay ME for capturing for their customers. 


At the end of this day I placed the last period and embarrassingly stuffed my face with spaghetti so I could run out the door to a meeting I was having with a few other girls. 



In the meeting that evening, conversation consisted of toddlers, tantrums, Facebook and it's detrimental role in the trap of comparisons. 

Lately, mothering has been kicking my arse. I've spent more time than I would like to admit yelling, crying or literally slamming my fists into my thighs in total exasperation and surrender. I mentioned this feeling of losing more often than I'm winning and in response a friend said something like, "What do you mean you feel like you're failing? You always share the sweetest pictures and take your girls to all of these fun places. You have it all together!" 


Oh $*&%.


What she said didn't hurt my feelings at all, but made me realize



In my effort to refrain from posting anything negative on Facebook, I unintentionally have become a perpetrator of "Fakebook". 

My pictures of us at the park, of a picnic in the backyard, a visit to the "train restaurant, a craft we did, a playdate, a sunset walk, all of it has compiled into a neat little scene of picket fenced American perfection. 


If you read more than 2 things I post here or read my "about me", you'll find out that is something I am working hard against because



 I'm sick of the bullshit competitive sport that parenthood has become and I'm ashamed that I've found myself fitting into that snug little facade on Facebook. 


Not on purpose, not at all. 

So the drive for this post has changed. It will still be a candid capture of a piece of my day, like most of this blog and social media is, but it will be revisited more often.



Now knowing the nature of this post, when I lost almost the entire thing I was furious. And when it happened 2 more times I was in tears. Instead of deleting the whole thing and crying in my pillow until naptime is over, I'll just share the events of one morning, because that's all I got. And it was a good one.


7:22: Bella opens and closes our bedroom door to wake us up. When I say, "open and close", I mean "opens the door so far that it hits the wall, then slams it shut". We're too tired to tell her to stop. So when that didn't get us to engage her in conversation, she stood in the doorway and flapped what sounded like a shirt up and down. I then wearily raised my arm and waved at her. She approaches my side of the bed and I greet her. 


7:30-8:00: I changed Bella's diaper because she's refusing to use the restroom as of late. Since having Isla, Bella has reverted to pooping in her underwear whenever it was naptime or bedtime. It's been a source of disgust, defeat and tears for weeks. (Tears for me, she could care less). I almost posted a desperate plea for help from other moms because I was at such a loss. I tried everything to get her to use the potty like she does during the day. (It's been going better lately. I hope it continues.)


7:45ish: We started a show on the iPad while I pumped.


8:00: I told Bella we could go downstairs and get breakfast as soon as I put my contacts in. I heard her start Dora next on the iPad, which I decided was fine because it was better than trying to fight it.

3 minutes later- contacts are in.
I asked her if she was ready to go downstairs.
"No, not yet."
Ok, cool.
I got dressed ( in REAL clothes.) did my hair, put on some makeup which was an unexpected treat-especially because we have to actually leave the house today. 

8:30: I start to head downstairs when I find what Bella was flapping earlier was a dress she picked out to wear. I knew if I didn't put that on her she would refuse to wear anything else later so I went over to where she was laying on the bed and asked her to stand up so I could get her dressed. She was unhappy about my interrupting Dora but was mostly compliant. 


8:37: I get downstairs and start the Keurig for a cup of coffee and start to pour milk and yogurt for Bella (a safe bet for any morning). I start to hear Bella call for me so I head to the bottom of the stairs to talk to her. 

She turned 3 about 2 months ago and still doesn't speak very clearly so sometimes I have to ask her to repeat herself - sometimes many times. 
She was especially whiny so my asking her to repeat herself resulted immediately in anger. She stomped and yelled, "UGH!! Me no talk to you!!" 
Ok, lady, I'm not the one asking questions in a foreign language. 


8:43: She's laying on the ground yelling at me. I approach her and in my stern, fed up voice say, "What".

She proceeds to ask me to go downstairs. 
"Bella, yes, I'm already downstairs. You can come downstairs too."
That apparently is not the right answer. 

She flails on the floor and begins to cry. My talking to her makes it worse. My not talking to her makes it worse. I explain to her that I had asked her to come downstairs and she wanted to finish Dora, so I let her. Now she can come downstairs and have breakfast. That prompts the scream crying. Scream crying, "DOOOOOOWWWWN STAAAAAAAAAIIIIRRRRRRSSSS!!!!"
I tell her I'm done and she can come talk to me when she's done screaming. I should also mention she's doing this right in front of Isla's door, where she's still sleeping.

8:50: Bella is now slamming her feet into the wall as she cries and yells for me.

I stomp up the stairs and tell her to cut this %&* out, in a loving and censored way, and tell her to calm down or go to her room. It's then I hear Isla crying which is okay because it's about time for her to normally wake up but I'm angry about it because Bella's feet probably played a major role in her waking up. 
I get Isla changed and dressed as I try to both console Bella and discipline her behavior. I give her one last option to straighten up or go to her room pronto. Somehow, Bella recovered and happily came to greet Isla. It's then I wonder if I hallucinated the whole thing because of the abrupt change in behavior but I'm not questioning fortune. 

9:10: We head down the stairs and I give Bella her breakfast while I feed Isla a bottle. 


Then ensues the chaos of getting yourself, an infant and a toddler out the door. In this instance, we were making a simple trip to the dollar store for Easter goodies. Today, that meant a lot of fighting, a lot of prompting and reminding her of what she was supposed to be doing and a lot of attitude. 


10:11: In the car on the way to the store, she is incessantly whining and demanding a book, even though there's a bag of books next to her that she always can easily reach. 

"BOOOOOK! BOOOOOOOOOK!" 
I lose my cool and yell at her. I immediately feel terrible and another weight of "mommy guilt" is placed on my shoulders and in my chest. I'm glaring at the road in front of me, feeling ashamed and also somehow validated in my eruption as Bella is still demanding that I give her a book. Now

By the time we get into the store she's somehow back to normal, pleasant Bella. We talk and laugh during our stroll through the store. I take a video of her reading the word, "Skittles" unprompted. I take a picture of the two of my girls together looking really goofy. (Bella looked totally high and Isla had a triple chin). About 10 minutes into the store, Bella tells me her skin is hurting. She has terrible eczema that has been a constant, horrible battle this winter. If we manage to get it under control it's normally only for a couple of days before it's back, bright red and bleeding from incessant and unconscious scratching during the night. I apologize to her and tell her we'll lotion up when we get home. She does well for about another 10 minutes before she's really complaining and trying very hard to reach a spot on her upper back. I look and notice the dress she had wanted to wear that morning had a tag that was irritating a spot on her back. There was nothing I could really do about it except check out and get her home. Bella's patience was all used up and the idea of going home to put lotion on made her burst into tears. I hugged her and apologized over and over for her skin. I reminded her it was the cow lotion that she liked. I'd give her some fruit snacks with lunch for being so good in the store. I begged her not to scratch it. Firmly reminded her that the way she continued to lose it was really not appropriate for the store. 

We finished checking out and I managed to calm her down by pointing out that it was starting to snow. "Let's hurry outside so we don't miss it!"

10:46:  We walked outside into the clean air smelling of smoke and snow lightly falling around us, leaving little nips of cold with every touch of every flake. A small reminder that things aren't so bad. Everything is temporary, beautiful and manageable and not only can I make it but I need to remember to enjoy the good parts and brush away the bad.


10:55: On the highway home, Such Great Heights by Postal Service is playing and snow is falling rapidly around us. It's a beautiful little moment until Bella asks me for her CD. I tell her after this song because mama loves this song. She says, "No! Now!" I tell her absolutely not and for talking to me like that I'm not going to put her CD on at all.

So then this happened:



video

We pulled into the drive and the snow is surreal and immaculate. Bella had mostly calmed down. 
I asked Bella if she saw all of the snow. 
She responded yes.
I asked her if she wanted to stand in it with me. 
She said yes. 
I unbuckled her from her carseat and we stood in the snow together. It was cold but not so cold that it was bitter. It was cold enough that it numbed the cold bites of the flakes. The snow was doing what I love most about it - muting the world around it. The world becomes so much quieter. So peaceful.


 It sounds like what it may feel like to stand in a painting. The canvas muffling sound but the paint keeping everything alive. Its silence was interrupted by the constant little ruffled sounds it made as the flakes hit the world around us. A small, busy sound. 


This picture would have been posted to Facebook without the entire backstory of the day. 


I took Isla out of the carseat and stood in the garage with her, waiting for a moment when Bella may be done in that time out the weather gave us. Watching her experience that peace I love so much was enough. It reminded me that really all of this crap balances out. I was disrespected and treated like crap for most of the day, but in the end we're the same. 


We need the same things. And I understand it. Because she's my little one. 



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cleaning Your Microfiber Couch/Now I Don't Have To Buy A New Couch

Whenever we have people over I normally apologize for one of three different things (sometimes all three).
"Sorry the house is so messy."
"Sorry the carpets are gross." and
"Sorry the couch looks disgusting. I promise those stains are just milk, water or yogurt thanks to my toddler." They don't look like milk stains. They look like the stains you see on motel furniture right before you bolt out asking for a new room or peeling out of the parking lot screaming. (I've never actually done that part but I have reacted that way in my heart.) 

So when I stumbled upon a Pin that claimed to clean my couch to display furniture quality, I immediately pinned it, without reading it, and wrote the ingredients I needed onto my grocery list. 

I really wish I had thought to take ONE before picture but I didn't think about it. I honestly was expecting it not to work. And at one point I very angrily ranted to Palmer about how I wasted my time with this stupid attempt. But once the couch dried it actually did look better than it had in quite a while. 

So, if you have a microfiber couch, I would recommend you try it and see what you think. I haven't had to apologize for my couch in a few months so that says something!

What you need:

Note: not my pictures. Who am I kidding, I don't plan ahead that well.

*Update* Lo and behold, I found a bottle of rubbing alcohol at Dillon's that had a spray bottle attachment. Glory be, they must have seen this post and concluded brilliance. 
Here's a picture, just for fun.


Make sure you get a WHITE sponge and WHITE bristle brush so that there is no accidental color transfer onto the couch when you are scrubbing.
(I used a light brown sponge because that's what we had on hand and it matched to color of our sofa; so you could go that route as well. )

Pour the rubbing alcohol in the spray bottle and SATURATE the stained area.

I know this seems counter intuitive  but rubbing alcohol evaporates much faster than water so it won't leave a water mark.   

Take your sponge and start scrubbing the area. Don't be afraid to use all your muscles and scrub hard. 

You'll start to see the dirt coming off onto your sponge.

If your sponge get's really dirty before you are finished, switch it out for a new one to avoid rubbing old dirt onto clean areas.

Let the areas you sprayed dry. They will look darker than the rest of your couch and will feel kind of hard to the touch, but don't worry about it. 

That's what the bristle brush is for.

Once the couch is COMPLETELY dry, take your bristle brush and with swirling motions, refluff the areas you cleaned.


The result.
This mom of the year was supposed to be making dinner when I did this so I didn't think to smooth out the lines in the microfiber.

Something I didn't do that I would definitely recommend doing was using the white bristle brush to "fluff" or soften the microfiber again. I didn't do it and the cushions had the texture of cardboard for several days. 

I got the tutorial from 551 East and she has a helpful FAQ at the end of her page. 


Blueberry Cake Mix Muffins

All I have to say is Pinterest Win.

Recipe originally from Six Sisters' Stuff


Cake Mix Blueberry Muffins Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1-2 cups fresh blueberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix dry cake mix (don't follow directions on the box), baking powder, flour, milk, oil, and eggs together thoroughly.  Fold in the blueberries (reserving a few to sprinkle on top) very gently, only stirring a couple of times so that your batter doesn't turn blue/purple.  Pour into lined muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full, and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Makes 16-18 muffins.

Crock-Pot Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Over Rice

Soooo this was a Pinterest attempt with mixed reviews.

I expected for me to like this, my toddler to eat a little of it (if she was in a good mood) and my husband to not like it (sorry, Palms).
Plot twist:
I didn't care for it...at all. My husband really liked it and my daughter ate everything but the rice.
So, instead of slapping the "Pinterest fail" label on it and deleting it from my "Food" board, I'll post it here and move on.


Recipe originally from Clipping Money

Creamy Crock-pot Chicken and Broccoli Over Rice
3-4 boneless chicken breasts

1 10oz can cream of chicken soup
1 10 oz can cheddar soup
1 14 oz can chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic salt seasoning
1 cup sour cream

6 cups broccoli florets, just fork tender 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1. Place soups, chicken broth, salt, and garlic seasoning into a crock-pot over low heat. Whisk until smooth. Place chicken in, pressing to the bottom. Cover lid and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.

2. When chicken is cooked, use 2 forks to shred into bite size pieces. Stir in sour cream and broccoli.

3. Serve over steamed rice and sprinkle with cheese.  4-6 servings