Friday, December 30, 2011

My sparkle girls

Earlier this month I took pictures of my nieces for my sister and brother in law to use on their Christmas card. We had such a blast!!
Tessa is so smiley and expressive, taking her picture is a breeze. And Sadie has personality for days; put a camera in front of her and she turns into such a ham. I felt bad because I ended up having quite a few more pictures of Sadie than I did Tessa, but Sadie and the camera were in a groove and I didn't want to interrupt her creative genius.
I strung up Christmas lights behind the girls to add a festive touch. Plus I thought the "sparkles" would be fitting for a girl (Sadie of course) who named her two goldfish Allison and Sparkle-Twix. That's right folks, Sparkle-Twix. Now you have a better idea what kind of fun personality I was working with!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years food revolution

So lately I've had a love/hate relationship with food, well not really food in general, just the process of deciding what to eat and then fixing it. (And don't even get me started on cleaning it up afterwards sans dishwasher.)
I really like to cook, I do, and have been doing so much more of it since getting married. I find myself reading countless food blogs and watching shameless hours of the Food Network and the Cooking channel. But lately I've felt burdened with the task of deciding what to cook. There are so many choices, and with many of the choices requiring extensive ingredient lists, I just give up and have something simple and boring. Like last week I found myself watching back to back episodes of Everyday Italian while eating frozen pizza. FROZEN PIZZA! That is just not acceptable, and really doesn't make any sense.
So I've decided I need a food revolution. I'm tired of the same old food routine rut the husband and I have been stuck in. I need some fresh ideas. I need to spice up my recipe list, restock my pantry, and be prepared to make fun, different, and inexpensive meals in the new year.

To help you see what I'm working with, here is a list of the common things we eat. Now keep in mind that I married into a cattle-farming family so we are blessed with lots of beef. And we are on a grad-school budget.  I'm positive this list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea.

Main dishes:
Hamburger steaks
Steaks-  I don't really want to change this staple, just find better things to pair with it.
Spagetti- with meat sauce of course.
Tacos- ground beef, salsa, chips, cheese, rotel..etc, etc, etc..
Frozen pizza. Honestly we probably eat a frozen pizza once a week. It's so nice to not have to wash dishes.
Chili. I'm actually not tired of my chili yet because we don't eat it very often.
Baked chicken

Side dishes:
Baked potatoes
Boiled potatoes
Potato fries. Or that's just what we call them. Baked potato wedges covered in seasoning salt and Cajun seasoning. Really one of Jamo's favorites. 
Baked beans
Black eyed peas (occasionally)
Cheesy bread or garlic bread
Mac and cheese- sometimes homemade, sometimes from a box (I know, I know. Trust me I'm embarrassed)
Fried okra. (in the summer)

Things I make occasionally:
Stuffed shells with meat sauce. Tasty, just time consuming.
Mushroom and Swiss sliders
Bow tie lasagna
Muffaletta sandwiches. (Just for me, Jamo won't touch these)
Pot roast with carrots and potatoes

Uuugghhhh. Just reading that list makes me so bored. I need new inspiration.
What is a dinner favorite at your house? What is your go-to meal for ease and flavor. What side dishes are usually in your repertoire? What does a week's worth of meals look like for you?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Facial hair

I love facial hair.
Well facial hair on guys of course.
There is just something rugged, hunky, manly, and fastactic about a man with a beard.
But not just any man!!!
So needless to say I get quite excited when "No-shave-November" rolls around. It might be my favorite month of the year. Not kidding.
And for the past couple years, "No-shave-November" has transformed into "Shave-your-beard-to-something-weird-December". And quite frankly, I'm kinda fond of that too. Not so much for the attractiveness factor, but more for the comic relief.

The best part of this little fun "project" was that the next evening, after he opted to keep it just one more day, we went to my hometown's little Christmas on Main event without really thinking of the consequences. So with his 1970's style handle-bar mustache in full force we ran into friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, and church friends. I couldn't help but giggle shamelessly and I believe he was red-faced for most of the evening.
It was great.
I can't wait for next year.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

little baby niece

Being an aunt is one of the funnest things ever- you experience such love and devotion to these little creatures that aren't even your own. I suppose it's the closet I've come to having those "motherly feelings" without actually being a mother.
It has been so fun watching the newest little niece grow; she changes a little more each time I see her. Her expressions are priceless and absolutely melt my heart. I've never seen a three month old smile, I mean full-fledged ear to ear smile, as much as she does.
 And quite frankly, I think she is one of the prettiest babies I've ever seen.
And again with her expressions....soo precious!

Thanks sweet sister for having babies. Keep it up please!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Adventures in Cooking

Since beginning my quest to be a homemaker, I've developed a mental bucket list of things I feel like I should be able to make, and make well. I fear I will not feel as though I have arrived as an accomplished cook until I have a decent number of Southern and traditional dishes under my belt, and hopefully in my repertoire.
One of the items on my list is pot roast. Pot roast is a seemingly simple and possibly old-fashioned dish, but I love it and grew up eating it. I can't imagine living in a household where pot roast isn't on the menu at least occasionally. And thankfully since I've married into a family of cattle farmers, roasts are easily attainable and warmly welcomed on the table.
Throughout grade school and high school my family and I ate Sunday lunch at my Grandmother's house almost every Sunday. It was always wonderful no matter what was on the menu, but one of my favorites was her roast. Ohhhh it was heaven in a pan. The meat was so tender it would fall off your fork, and the carrots were so flavorful and rich they could've been a main course.
But sadly (very sadly) we can't find a written recipe for her roast. My mother remembers the main ingredients and general instructions but we have nothing in writing. One thing we do have though is her pan. She used the same pan every time she made a roast, and there is no telling how many years she used it. If she started using it when she was 30 (just a guesstimate) until the time of her death, it would be over 50 years of pot roast wonderfulness in the same pan. We were certain (and so was she) that a lot of the fabulous flavor was due in part to what she cooked it in. My sister received her pan, and when I thought about tackling the feat of making a roast, I knew I wanted to use it. My gracious sister agreed and with pan in hand, the next step was finding a recipe to follow. (You see, I almost always have to follow a recipe, I'm not seasoned enough to go blindly without one).
My old trusty friend Pioneer Woman has a recipe for pot roast, and I figured that one would be as good as any to try. Her ingredient list didn't seem to far off from what I remember my Grandmommy using. I only used a little rosemary and no thyme. I didn't have any thyme on hand, and I don't really remember my Grandmother cooking with fresh herbs, so I decided to minimize those a little.

I started with a wonderful Mtn.View Farm roast.
Thanks Bouldins!

Here is the pan. The fabulous, wonderful, ancient pan

Carrots, potatoes, onions, rosemary, olive oil, beef broth.

As per my usual, the kitchen was a mess while making it.

It looked so pretty.

I let it cook for four or five hours. It ended up not being quite as easy as I'd hoped. You see, when using a pan that is 50 or 60 years old, it doesn't work the same way I'm sure it once did. The bottom of this dish is bowed, making it rock back and forth, side to side. So as the flavors melded and the liquids cooked and bubbled, everything leaned to one side causing liquid to spill over the edges and all over the bottom of my stove. In attempts to remedy this, I made the biggest mess in my stove and the floor, and absent mindedly grabbed the hot stove rack without an oven mitt. Not smart. Very tramautic.  After a frantic call to the neighbors, my wonderful engineer step-dad non-chalantly suggested putting a piece of rolled up aluminum foil under one side to even it out. Genius. Why I didn't think of that?....who knows.
Despite the theatrics of cooking the roast, the results were out of this world! I didn't expect it to turn out as well as it did. Which further reiterated the assumption that the pan is the source of the wonderful flavor. (I couldn't have made anything that tasty without a little help). It smelled just like the Sunday lunches of my memory, and surprisingly, tasted almost exactly the same as well. While eating it I couldn't help but cry a little. May seem silly to cry over food, but the taste brought back many memories and it was so surreal to be tasting something that I never thought I would taste again. (I know, I'm too sentamental, it's a character flaw that I'm very aware of).
Jameson loved it too, but of course didn't have the point of reference to know whether or not it tasted like Grandmommy's. We were able to get a couple meals out of it including lunches, which was great!
I'm hoping to make it again soon and this time will share it with the whole family so everyone can enjoy the walk down memory lane.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


You know what I love about my husband?
Well actually I love a lot of things about him, but one thing really makes my heart go pitter-pat; how Manly he is
He likes dirt, lawn mowers, tractors, grass, bugs (well maybe he doesn't like bugs, but he isn't afraid of them either, and always comes to my rescue and kills any and all in sight), grease, oil, football, pick-up basketball, spitting, screwdrivers, hammers, work boots, and not wearing a shirt.
He is the manliest man's man that I know.
He is a true guy's guy
He is hunky and hot.
My hunky, hot husband with greasy hands and dirt on his face.
Check out the dirt on his lips.

....pitter-pat, pitter-pat, pitter-pat, pitter-pat.........

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I'm bored.
Not the it's 7:50 on a weeknight and there is nothing on TV bored; but the I have nothing going on right now bored. Work has been slow this week, making me long to be at home, but once I'm at home I'm restless and wish I had work to do.
Dishes are done, floors are clean, and bathroom fixtures are manageable. I could probably do a load of laundry, but Jamo isn't home and there is no way I'm going outside in the dark to our creepy basement. Any time I'm home alone and have to go down there, I always end up sprinting back inside, fearful that someone is chasing me. I know it's an irrational fear, but I guarantee you have had that feeling before and fought off the urge to run. Well not me, I just run as fast as I can to safety. I'm sure I look really cool.
I've tried to stay on top of our cooking for the week; Monday I made a few things to take for my lunches this week, and tonight I attempted my first pot roast to have for dinner the next few nights. So there really isn't much cooking that needs to be done either.
But even if I had some of these chores to do, I'm not sure it would alleviate this boredom. It seems to be a deep-seeded unsettled feeling; something I can't really put my finger on. Maybe it's a lack of challenges, and/or a lack of goals and goal directed behavior. I need something to move me, something to inspire and motivate me. I feel as though I have plenty of passionate and creative energies swirling around inside me that need to manifest themselves in some productive facet. But what is it? What should I be doing with my time? What is my calling in life??? Way am I here? AAaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. Kidding of course. (Mom, I'm just kidding)
Perhaps I'm just feeling a little existential this evening and need to veg out to some World Series baseball and get a good night's sleep.
Perhaps I also need to turn these pointless ponderings into useful brainstorming. I have plenty of hobby aspirations I could pursue, but most are somewhat costly to get started, and thus not a wise allocation of funds. My ovaries and I are continually thinking (day-dreaming) of something that would eliminate my boredom forever, but alas, that too must wait. Sigh.  I've recently looked into some volunteer opportunities, perhaps I should follow up with those. Or better yet, maybe I should quit whining about something so trivial, (especially considering the number of people with larger issues to fret about) and get myself off this couch and go do that load of laundry. The creepiness of the basement can't be any worse than my current over-dramatic and outta control thought processes. Ladies I'm not alone in the occasional emotional train-wreck of analytical thoughts, right???

Eeeesshh. This is going no where. I'm going to go check on my roast and hope my husband gets home any minute so we can talk about the Cardinals pitching, or Dooley's press statements today, or anything besides my current obsession with my boredom.
I've got to find something to do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Give me a C!...Give me an O!!.......

If you can finish that phrase, then you have a special place in my heart.
My big, fat, Cougar-pride filled heart.
What is Cougar Pride you might ask?? Well it's a little hard to explain; maybe to understand it you have to be a graduate of the school "on a hill in Dickson Co.", and know the difference between the 200 and 300 hallways, and remember what year we won the football state championship, and know the correct way to make a tissue paper ball, and still remember every word of the alma mater. Maybe then, you understand Cougar Pride. :)

And even though high school was a long time ago for me, I can't help but still be so proud of my sweet little hometown. And thankfully, I'm not alone....
The girls ready for the DCHS Homecoming game
Now as much as my group of friends still love our high school alma mater, we don't frequent the games often; time, distance, and busy schedules usually interfere. So when the occasion presents itself for everyone to be together and soak up some Cougar Pride, we take it.

Sweet, supportive Jamo...twitter kept him occupied.

Cougar in training!!