Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Wow! This year has really gotten away from me the past month! We all went to the Phoenix zoo the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and Tommy and my nephew had such a great time seeing the animals. Tommy still talks about seeing the orange tiger at the zoo and how it was LOUD. That kid really enjoys animals, but I'm glad to see he has a healthy respect and isn't tempted to try to get close. He's really a look but don't touch kid when it comes to new experiences. Right now it's nice, because he's a bit afraid of dogs, and I don't have to worry about him approaching strange ones, but I'm hoping he'll start to grow out of this fear and be more comfortable around our relative's pets. Someday we'd like a dog in addition to our kitties! (He loves the kitties btw - he hugs Pica and tells her he loves her, and also tells me she's "his kitty")

We're gearing up for the end of December and Christmas. I've been sewing and painting when I get a bit of time, but I'm still not quite ready with presents. Mentally I'm not quite in gear yet either. The one thing about living in the Valley of the Sun is that it's hard to convince yourself that yes, it is indeed winter, and the holidays are approaching fast. It's been colder and rainy here the past few days, and that has helped, but I really do prefer the sunny, non-gloomy days. We've been watching the snowstorms in other areas of the country and hope that all of our friends there are keeping warm and staying safe.

My best friends will be visiting soon from Wisconsin, and I'm trying to plan a few things to do while they're here while still having time to relax and spend time together. We had talked about visiting the Desert Botanical Gardens to see the luminarias, but it seems a bit expensive - we may wait for next year to see it. There are so many things going on here for the season that it's hard to choose! I'm sure it will be a fun visit regardless of what we do.

How are you preparing for the holidays? I'd love to hear about your traditions, and how you celebrate. We're trying to instill some old traditions and make some new ones just for our family. How do you make the season special for your loved ones?

Have a blessed season and enjoy the times with friends and family!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow! What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been! I'm actually looking forward to the next month because it is shaping up to be a slowdown from November. :-)

We thoroughly enjoyed the Beatallica shows, we even were able to take Tommy along on Sunday because it was early enough in the day. He looked so cute in his ear-protection headphones, and the band had a blast seeing him again after several months. Wishing them the best in December as they travel in Europe.

The weekend following Beatallica's visit, my mom and I attended the Attic Needlework Sampler Symposium. I haven't had much time to stitch lately, and it was a pleasure to have some time to do just that. I had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful people and starting a few exciting new projects. We got to hand dye our own linen fabric on Friday, and worked on a Christmas themed project that covers a wooden book-shaped box, small projects to go inside the bow (such as a tree-shaped holder for a little mother-of-pearl ruler and a scissor case) on Saturday. On Sunday were invited to view a collection of samplers including several Mexican samplers. We then had a class on specialty stitches. Wonderful people, wonderful time. I already can't wait until next year!

I've been working a few days a week at Attic Needlework, it's felt great to be out and feeling productive again. I'm still working on building up some web-design skills, and am currently building a site for a friend who has recently started designing. I am really excited about all of the possibilities in my life right now, but have some decisions to make about pursuing further training. I'm trying to find a balance between time I can dedicate to Tommy, private time, work time, and maybe school time. It's a tough decision. I enjoy working at the Attic though, and the people there are great. It's fun to see all of the new patterns and I love seeing all of the projects that people bring in (if I can't find time to stitch, at least I can see what everyone else is working on!)

Last weekend was the Attic's annual silent auction to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Fund. This year was a great success, as of early this week, the total was at $15,300, with some donations still coming in, and one item still up for silent bids. We can't wait to see what the grand total will be!

My sister and her family are here visiting for the weekend. Two little boys in the same house are challenging, but proving to be a lot of fun! Last night they even both fell asleep in their own beds in the same room, without a lot of complaining and crying (or playing). Tommy's up and doing his daily whining now, but hopefully he'll get caught up in the day and we'll all have a good time.

To everyone - have a safe and blessed holiday -

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Several years ago, a couple of our friends in Milwaukee recorded a CD of Beatles songs sung as they thought Metallica would perform them. What started out as a 'Spoof Fest' joke grew into something much larger when another friend created a website promoting the band he named 'Beatallica'. A full band was put together to create a second CD, and over time began touring the world.

We are excited that Beatallica will be playing both days of the Southwest Brew Fest - we can finally see them here in Arizona! They will be playing at 5pm on both nights of the festival which takes place on November 7th and 8th. We hope that if you're in the Phoenix area that you'll come out and support them!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quilt pattern

I found the information on the pattern I'm using - it's "Homeward Bound" from Bloom Creek. I'm going to be using various neutrals instead of one background color, and blues instead of greens, but here is a link to the pattern so you can get an idea of what I'm working toward: Homeward Bound Quilt.

I'm still working on a collage of the fabrics but will have it ready soon! Let me know what you think!


Busy Busy Busy!

It's been a hectic week here at home - I had an interview(!) on Tuesday that I think went very well - it would be a position that allows me to make a huge difference in people's lives and I hope to hear back from them soon. Not only would it be great to be working again, I would really enjoy meeting new challenges and setting out in a new direction!

Wednesday we had a bit of a scare about the pending sale of our old house, but as of right now it looks like things are going to work out and we're still on target for the 30th - if it all falls apart we'll have to go from there, but I'm hopeful that it will all go well.

Tommy's home today (he's only at daycare three days a week), and he's been such a pleasant boy today for the most part ( I think that 'for the most part' is the very best you can get with a toddler, and I'm thankful for some relative peace!) this morning we listened to his Kindermusic CD's, he sang and danced while I worked on a sewing project I've been trying to finish. He's now napping and I'm getting caught up on some research for a history post I'm working on for the October Priscilla's Pocket release. I'm writing an essay on The Battle of Saratoga and how that ties into the website is a surprise for next month!

I have my quilt cut out and hope to start sewing soon - but Mom's been fighting off a sore throat and I've had some other projects to work on, so I'll probably start this weekend. I have a ton of photos of all my different fabrics (the quilt is a pretty simple pattern, but I'm doing it in a patchwork style using Civil War era fabric patterns) that I hope to put in a collage and post soon. I'm not sure how it's going to look and I'm just trusting in the fact that all of the patterns tie together. It's going to be in varied neutrals with red as the main color, and blues and golds as accents. I'll try to get a link hooked up to the pattern if I can find it when I post the fabric shots, and you can all tell me what you think. I'm nervous but excited, because even I can't visualize how it all will come together!

Slowly working on my cross-stitch too - I'm going to take advantage of a little of Tommy's nap-time to get a bit more done. One of the patterns is a 4th Anniversary gift to John (and myself) that I need to have done by December if I'm to have it framed by the 30th. It may just be stitched by then and I'll get it framed afterwards!

The other pattern is the Christmas Cat and I hope to start it soon (but the other is taking precedence!) It's for myself so as much as I'd like to finish by this Christmas, I may have to settle for next.

I have my practice piece done for one type of Christmas gift I'm working on, and I have to say that it turned out great! I have some prep work to do for the real things, and then I expect that they'll come together quickly. I hope everyone on my list likes them! It's nice to feel like I'm making something useful but attractive, and I'm able to customize them a bit for each person. I can't wait until the holidays are over so I can share what they are and some photos, as you can tell I'm pretty excited!

We're going to be baking this weekend, and taking photos of our goods for the Priscilla's Pocket website, recipe to be posted along with my history essay, and some new items. I'll have to let the rest remain a surprise until then -

Best wishes!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Today was a banner day - Tommy had a much better day with drop off at school, not melting down at arriving home, not screaming at dinner, and going to bed without a peep! We're hoping that this is a glimpse of things to come ( even in occasional doses it is a much welcome change from the way the past few weeks have gone! )

He didn't eat much at dinner, but didn't scream from hunger and crabbiness either - I think he genuinely wasn't hungry. We've started to just give him the food choices and if he eats fine, if he doesn't eat, we try to ignore it. He's not losing weight or anything, and he has a lot of energy, so he must be getting nutrition somewhere - right? It's been a bit better the past few days, and much better today. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed!

My cross-stitching is going well but slowly. It's taking a bit of a backseat to learning to quilt - mom is teaching me! I also picked up some materials to make holiday gifts - I have some cute ideas and look forward to diving in, but since holidays and birthdays are approaching quickly, I'm devoting some of my stitching time to those projects. I can't post what I'm making here or I'll give away some surprises, but I'll take photos and will post after they're given - ok?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New website!

I am excited to announce that my mom's new website is up and running! It has been my design project for a few months now, and we have officially launched it today. I'd love for you to stop over for a visit at I'm pretty proud of how it turned out, for my first site. Here's a sneak peek at one of our frames and cross-stitch designs:

We're hoping that the pattern will be ready in the near future - it's the first in a series.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Favorite Baby Photo Blog Hop

This is the photo we used on our announcement when Tommy arrived - so cute in his Pooh hat:

He spent his first week at home in a bili-blanket - you can see the blue glow. We called him our glow-worm baby. We thought it was interesting that at just a week old he was holding his pacifier in his mouth - and he'd put it back in if it fell out!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Was busy taking some photos of frames for my mom's upcoming website, and Tommy desperately wanted me to take his picture. "Cheese, Mommy!" he kept saying over and over while tugging on the camera strap. "Do you want me to take your picture?" "Yeah."

While he posed and played I snapped a few shots - capturing a mischievous grin...

A budding driver...

A wistful 'cheese?'

I am constantly amazed at how he grows - not just in size but in personality and ability. I perpetually have to remind myself that 'he's only two'. (well, 27 months last Sunday, but who's counting?) I've lost count of his vocabulary, he strings sentences together like a pro. It's like having a conversation with a short adult who's apt to burst into tears of frustration at any given moment. Then I again have my little boy, needful of hugs and kisses and bedtime stories.

We've definitely entered the 'I do it myself' stage of toddlerhood. Getting dressed, brushing teeth, carrying his bag of water clothes for daycare - everything is a challenge to be surmounted. At least he hasn't fought me for the steering wheel yet! Up and down the stairs - refusing to crawl or scoot - walking up AND down just like a big kid (scaring the daylights out of the rest of us) he just has to do it himself. It's nice to know that he has a good, strong independent streak, but I feel twinges of sadness that it's just a hint of the day when he can do everything himself, and won't need Mommy or Daddy to do it for him. Long way in the future I hope!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sleep Deprived

I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately. Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with my toddler. Well, mostly.

I FALL asleep with no problems most nights. I just can't seem to STAY asleep. Sometimes I'm too warm, but mostly I just can't quiet my brain.

I'm sure it's primarily because I have so many things going on, and I always seem to get ideas in the middle of the night. I've tried writing these ideas down and going back to sleep, but sleep still doesn't come. So I get up and work out the ideas. Or play on the computer in the hopes that the glowing screen will tire me out and I'll be able to get some sleep before sunrise. Or blog at 2:30 am. I'm hoping this means I'm in a very creative phase of my life right now, I just wish I could be creative during daylight hours.

Tonight started badly for sleeping because Tommy wasn't feeling well when he went to bed. In the interests of trying to keep him comfortable and quiet, we brought him into our bed. It seemed like it would work, but every time he almost drifted off, he would start to talk or sing or toss around - trying to wind down I'm sure, but getting himself uncomfortable and waking up. The ibuprofen seemed to have kicked in by then, but he really wanted to "sleep in Mommy's bed." We actually gave him three warnings and chances to settle down, but at 11 p.m. he HAD to go back to his own bed. Thank goodness he gave up after 15 minutes of trying to convince us he needed to sleep in our bed. So you'd think I'd be tired enough right now to be sleeping. Nope.

I have been trying to get our budget in order. I know we're just starting out with actually writing down things, and that it takes some time to get it all straightened out, but I wake up thinking of things I missed, or ways to cut corners, and I can't let them rest until morning for fear I'll forget.

I have been working on designing the website for my mom's business. I get ideas for design and layout, as well as having flashes of understanding (I'm learning the process as I go) at crazy hours and MUST try them out.

I have finally been cross-stitching again, and want to stitch in the middle of the night!?! Getting ideas for designs too.

Not that these episodes of sleeplessness have never happened to me before, but not with such intensity and certainly not for an extended amount of time. I'm going on most nights out of the past two weeks, with a little break yesterday because I was sick. Ok, I was still up early, but it was because I couldn't breathe and wanted to take a steamy shower. It was still nice to not be driven awake by dreams of things I wanted to try or design or write.

I try to refrain from taking medicines to help with sleep, but I'm about ready to give in and take a Unisom for a couple of days just so I can sleep through the night. How is it that we finally got the baby sleeping through the night and now I can't take advantage of it?!

I'm finally feeling tired, maybe because I've gotten some of what's on my mind out and acted upon, maybe because I'm actually nearing the point of total collapse. I think I'll go to bed again and see how it goes.

Good (night?)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's Up?

Wow. What a crazy past few days - it's all gone past in a blur and I can't believe it's Wednesday already!

Tommy was on a 'two-year-old hunger strike' for a good part of last week, refusing just about everything we'd put in front of him to eat. Forget 'he'll eat when he's hungry' - he was so hungry he wouldn't stop whining and crying, but if it wasn't what he wanted to eat, it wasn't going in! It's really frustrating to know he's hungry, but have him refuse everything including things he usually begs for. He went so far on Sunday as to tell us "I don't like pizza." He LOVES pizza, it's the food he mentions first whenever we ask what he wants. So we didn't eat much for several days there. I've been watching for his upper molars, thinking this might be part of the problem, but can't feel or see anything. He's notorious for feeling his teeth a long time before they actually cut through, so we've been using the homeopathic teething remedy when he's crabby hoping it'll help. Seems to, but still no eating.

The fallout from all of this wanting to live on bread, milk, and cheese (basically) was a good case (his first ever!) of constipation on Monday. Talk about crabby and miserable! I finally called my brother-in-law for advice - their son had some issues like this for a while and they had pretty much gotten it solved. "Pear juice", he tells me. Apparently pear juice is even better than good old prune juice. So I took a trip over to our local Sprouts to pick up some pear juice. As soon as Tommy got up from his nap we started giving him a cupful. He actually ate pretty well at dinner - we grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, and he ate a hotdog and bun, and had a couple whole-grain cookies. All I can say is that fortunately my husband happened to be getting Tommy ready for bed when the pear juice finally took effect. Thankfully, it happened before bed!

So the constipation is solved, but he still has been cranky and whiny. It's actually very frustrating. He goes to daycare Tuesday through Thursday, and has a fantastic time there, then comes home and as soon as he walks through the door the whining starts. We figure he's hungry, since it's close to supper time, but even a snack doesn't help. He just whines and whines, and of course, we're in the middle of getting supper so we don't have time to pay 100% attention to him (and when we do, it has to be the whole time, not just for 15 minutes and then he's ok, like some of what I've read says). Basically, tempers wear thin, nerves fray, and everyone is exhausted by the time we eat. No matter how hard you try to tune out a whiny toddler, there is only so much you can handle before your brain implodes :-) Eating while we prepare food seems to help sometimes, but not lately. Last night was a minor victory with several fishsticks being ingested, but it seems completely random.

Then bedtime battles ensue. The books are right on this one - he has a horrible time sleeping on the days he doesn't nap at daycare. We're trying earlier bedtimes and a change to bedtime routine that seems to help keep him from getting re-wound up after teeth brushing. Basically, we were brushing teeth, reading stories, saying goodnight to Nana and Papa, and then bed. He always seems to get worked up during the goodnights, so we switched them to before reading stories, and that really seems to have helped. Now we read and then are whisked off to bed. Last night was only a couple of minutes of crying (complaining really) before he was out. Some nights he'll scream for 15 before settling down - and this is still an improvement over the first 16 months of not sleeping - at least now once he's out he sleeps through the night! So anyone out there who is struggling with sleep issues - I feel your pain. We've tried the methods and have just come to the conclusion that he is one of those kids who needs to yell for a few minutes to settle down. Makes you feel terrible, but it's worse if we sit longer with him. He'll just keep pushing for more until you're in there all night.

So much for my toddler rearing troubles. I've also had so many other balls in the air I'm not sure how I'm tracking them all! I've been on unemployment for about a month now, and last week I got a letter to appear at an orientation workshop at the local job service office. It ended up being more helpful than I thought it might be, and gave me some ideas to pursue. I'm considering looking into grants for returning to school, but can't decide whether I would like to use this opportunity to change careers, or just get some advanced training and certifications in what I'm currently trained for. I like lab work, but have found that maybe I'd like to be more involved with people - directly interacting and the like. I'm also interested in web design and e-commerce, so that might be an option. Lastly, I had put some serious thought into Dental Hygiene a few years back but lacked the funds so I'd like to consider that too. I need to take some assessments and get a good idea what my skill set is, and then go from there, I guess.

My sister-in-law was kind enough to lend us her copy of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Revisited and I'm about halfway through reading it. I'm hoping to get our financial house in order, and I think his methods will be ones we can work with and stick to. I'm happy to say that we had been taking some of the right steps on our own, but have been shying away from budgeting because it's sure to dig up some discomfort. I think we're at that stage now, but we realize how important it is to take this step before we can completely reach our goals. Big plans for the weekend - budgeting!

We also have started attending church. My sister-in-law and her husband introduced us to their church a couple of weekends ago because they are starting the Fireproof (Love Dare) series about improving and strengthening your marriage. We met with our small group last Sunday night and were pleasantly surprised. If you had told me last year that I'd be doing this, I'd have laughed, but I think I'm just at that point in my life now where I'm looking to make some changes. I've always had faith that there was more out there than just chance - too many times I've been faced with a choice or a challenge, and I've found that when I open myself to these changes, it's always worked out for the best. I have a lot of questions, and a lot of doubts, but I feel that I'm in a place where I'm more open to exploring these questions and finding some answers.

I'm hoping that I can keep juggling everything until things begin to settle, but I know that once I get one thing taken care of something else will come up! I'm hoping that we can help Tommy through some of his frustration at being unable to do the things he wants, and thereby alleviate some of his crabbiness. Hopefully.

John and Tommy

Just wanted to share a couple of photos of my two favorite guys!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Comment Form

I've started using Disqus as a comment system - I like that it allows me to reply to your comments in a better fashion than with the Blogger system. We'll see how it works!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Stitching again

It's been a long time since I've had any time to do needlework, but now that Mom's web site is close to launch, I'm allowing myself to set aside time to stitch. I might do a few temari here and there (especially if the class I want to teach actually happens) but my main focus right now is cross-stitching a couple of samplers.

The first project I've chosen is Be My Love from Carriage House Samplings. My mom stitched it a few years ago and a photo appears at Priscilla's Pocket. I'm changing the colors a bit - the reds on hers will be blues on mine. I'll be stitching it in Needlepoint Inc. silks on 40 ct. Vintage Pear from Lakeside Linens. I'm pondering which of our frames I'd like make for it, but will decide when I have it finished. I think it will be neat to see the two together when it's done.

The other design I've picked (I know - it's weird to have so many projects at the same time, but I find that I like to work one pattern until I get a bit bored with it, then put it down while I work on the other. Keeps me interested in the work.) is a Christmas pattern from Notforgotten Farm called Christmas Cat! I'm playing with colors for this as well - using Belle Soie silks and making the cat black instead of tawny - I lost my black cat Bermuda right after Christmas last year and this pattern reminds me of him. I haven't chosen a fabric for this but will probably be using something from Lakeside Linens - their fabrics are so lovely. (Update: I've chosen to do this piece on 40 ct. Pearled Barley from Lakeside Linens.)

I'll be posting work-in-progress photos as I go - this will also keep me working on them! Maybe I'll actually finish the Christmas sampler by Christmas !?!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Blog Hop - Encouragement

This week's theme is ENCOURAGEMENT - I chose the lyrics to a song by Rush from the Test for Echo album


I can learn to resist
Anything but temptation
I can learn to coexist
With anything but pain

I can learn to compromise
Anything but my desires
I can learn to get along
With all the things I can't explain

I can learn to resist
Anything but frustration
I can learn to persist
With anything but aiming low

I can learn to close my eyes
To anything but injustice
I can learn to get along
With all the things I don't know

You can surrender
Without a prayer
But never really pray
Pray without surrender

You can fight
Fight without ever winning
But never ever win
Win without a fight

I can learn to resist
Anything but temptation
I can learn to coexist
With anything but pain

I can learn to compromise
Anything but my desires
I can learn to get along
With all the things I can't explain

Words by Neil Peart, music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson

I find this song encouraging (and inspiring) because it reminds me that I can learn to survive anything but can never compromise those things that are central to my being - I can never sacrifice what makes me... me. I am always moved when I listen to this song, I listen to it when I am feeling down and frustrated and it never fails to lift my mood. The bridge - you can surrender without prayer but never pray without surrender... this encourages me to keep trying and to keep doing my best. Something in this song has always spoken to me on a deeper level.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Attic Needlework

The new newsletter has been posted at the Attic Needlework site! You can find my temari featured about halfway through!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Favorite kid photo blog hop

My absolute favorite photo - Tommy holding Daddy's hand just a few minutes after he was born. The nurse took this while I was in recovery.

Tommy at about 6 weeks - sleepy baby!

This is one of my favorite photos of Tommy, taken when he was just 8 weeks old wearing the outfit our friend Julie had crocheted for him.

Halloween 2008, 17 months old and very serious!

This is one of my favorites - a true glimpse of his personality.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Sad weekend

My husband and I are big fans of racing in all forms, and this weekend we heard the sad news that F1 driver Felipe Massa suffered a serious head injury during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday. The latest news reports indicate that he is expected to recover, but suffered injuries to his left eye and his future racing career is uncertain. He and his wife are expecting their first child, and we are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I've just found out that my temari have been featured in the latest Attic Needlework newsletter! As soon as the link is up on their site I'll add a link to it here. I'll upload some photos tomorrow!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I've been spending some time browsing other blogs, and have found that I'm really drawn to those that involve handcrafts, baking, cooking, gardening and simple living. When Tommy was born I found myself with a lot of free time at home, and I was looking for simple things to do while he napped. I had baked bread with my mother and grandmother as a child, but hadn't really had the time to practice since getting out into the 'real world'.

I started looking for instruction on the internet, and came across The Fresh Loaf, a website dedicated to the baking of artisan breads. If you've never visited their site, and you are at all interested in baking, take a look - it will inspire you! I worked through some of their beginner lessons and really enjoyed it! I found that Tommy's naps were the perfect length to bake in. I would start a batch of poolish (starter) the evening before, and during naps I'd knead, let rise, shape, and bake. We were eating pretty well!

I recently found a few photos of my very first breads, and wanted to share them here. The first is a loaf of cinnamon swirl I made, but I didn't want to dig out a loaf pan. I made the dough into a long, narrow rectangle, sprinkled on my cinnamon, sugar, and butter, and rolled it into a very long, narrow snake, I then coiled the snake into a swirl. Here's a photo as it came out of the oven.

Looks pretty yummy! Next is a photo after it was sliced - I had no idea what to expect, and was excited at how it turned out! It tasted as good as it looked. This was the most fun loaf I've ever made, and I think I'll always make my cinnamon bread this way from now on.

The next photo is of my third attempt at baking a boule. I was so thrilled at the texture - it finally had the nice, airy holes I was striving for! I learned that very wet dough may be difficult to work with, but makes this wonderful texture you associate with the best artisan breads. If you look at the right side of the photo you'll see the area where the texture was nicest. Even though the other loaves I baked weren't this pretty, they still tasted great!

Finally, I tried making pita breads. They puffed up nice and round and I had perfect pockets on the first try! We filled some with falafel and tahini sauce. The rest were saved to fill with chicken stir fry and they were delicious!

I'm hoping that when it cools off some here in Arizona I won't be so averse to heating up the oven, and will be able to bake again. I've been wanting to try a ciabatta, and I'd like to keep working to perfect my loaves.

Finally, I wanted to share the inspiration for all of this baking. If Tommy hadn't been born, I wouldn't have had an entire summer off of work and the free time to take on a new hobby. He's a real character, and I think this picture is so funny - he kept saying 'upside-down' and then standing like this:

We think he's a born performer. Don't we all wish for that kind of flexibility?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I'm relatively new at blogging, but I had a simple blog on Facebook, and it never really got looked at. I moved a couple of those posts here - since they're two recipes I really enjoy and wanted to share. Hope you'll try them both! I'm always looking for quick recipe ideas to allow me to feed family while still getting everything else done. I'm a novice web designer for my mom's company, and am learning the ropes as I go along. I hope to share some stories, recipes, and other ideas and tips with you. I hope you'll visit often and share your thoughts!

Since I've been unemployed

...I've been doing a lot of cooking. Found a half pork roast in the freezer that needed to be used up, so I decided to make slow-cooker taco (or burrito, enchilada - you get the picture) filling. This is the easiest recipe yet, and I tried it the next week with chicken breasts and it was great like that too. Next is to try beef - might try a chuck roast if it goes on sale soon. Otherwise any good roasting type of meat would work.

Approx. 2 lb. meat ( I cut the loin into 1 inch slices so I could brown it a bit for the extra flavor. Chicken just gets thrown in as is. I think I'll brown the beef in slices, makes it easier to break apart later)

2 cans petite diced tomatoes with green chiles - I use the original Ro-Tel, but I know there are other brands out there too.

1/2 - 1 tsp chili powder (amount depends on how spicy you like it - my folks are good with 1/2 tsp - I could go a bit hotter. I used Chili 3000 from Penzeys)

1 medium onion, chopped.

That's it! Just mix it all together in the slow-cooker, and leave it alone. I start my cooker on High to get it going, and then turn it down to Low for the rest of the day. Follow the instructions for your cooker .
When the meat has cooked for several hours - usually 5 or more, break it up into shreds with a wooden spoon. If it seems a bit too watery, you can leave the lid open a crack to dry it out.

This is really easy and yummy in anything - I think I'm going to try beef soon and try to make an enchil-lasagna with it...


Perfect Guacamole

I have tried a bunch of guacamole recipes since I moved here to AZ - it amazes me that some of them call for things like mayo (which I can't eat anyway - but why would you add something that's just fat and eggs to an already creamy, healthy fat?) I played around with one recipe that I found and tweaked it to not be too garlicky (for Mom and Dad) with a touch of heat (for me) I had some Penzey's ground chipotle in the fridge and no fresh peppers, and actually, I like the slightly smoky heat better!

Hope you try it and also that you enjoy!

3 ripe avocados, peeled
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 medium garlic clove - minced or crushed
1/2 cup diced onion (I used yellow, but red is really pretty)
scant 1/8 tsp ground chipotle (depending on how much heat you like)
1 roma tomato - 1/4 inch dice

Using a pastry blender (this works REALLY well!) or a fork, mash two on the avocados with the lime juice, salt, and chipotle powder until mostly smooth. Stir in the onion and garlic. Cut the other avocado into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces and add, along with the tomato. Fold in until mixed together, but preserving the chunkiness.
this is good right away, but the flavors blend if you make a bit ahead an store in the fridge - to keep it from darkening, I place in a small plastic storage container, smooth the top, and press a piece of plastic wrap right onto the top, sealing out the air. Each time you spoon some out, smooth it and recover with the plastic. It actually will stay green for a couple of days this way!

I love this with black bean tortilla chips!