Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo... or NaBloPoMo

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  It happens every year.  While I've never actually participated in this self imposed writing sentence, I find the idea of a self imposed deadline to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words) interesting.  Working under that type of pressure to just force yourself to basically vomit words onto paper to create a novel, with all the flawed chunks, a story with all the raw edges/details.  The people who can do this, in my mind, are pretty amazing. 

I am not a writer.  I enjoy telling stories, and sometimes, they even may be slightly entertaining, but I can't imagine writing a cohesive story that is more than a blog post or two long, but then I stumbled across, thanks to Untypically Jia, NaBloPoMo.  What is NaBloPoMo you say?

NaBloPoMo is basically NaNoWriMo but for blog posts.  It is a self challenge to write a blog post every day of the month.  To just get something out there, whether its a personal story, a post of pictures, or just anything.  To just expel onto paper (or in this case a web page) something.  It may not be great, it may have some raw edges, but something to get the creative ideas flowing.

I think I may try this thing out.  The whole writing everyday thing is a challenge to me.  I don't always know what to write about or even feel like I have anything interesting to say.  Sometimes life gets in the way (like recently) of being able to get anything down, even if it is swirling around in my head.  Whatever I come up with,  I probably/certainly will be using writing prompts from Mama Kat's Writing Workshop.

I may not post something everyday, but I think I'm going to attempt to at least write everyday, even if it's a partial post or jotting down ideas... 

Hopefully some interesting fodder will come from this endeavor.

So what about you?  Is anyone else going to be joining in the NaNoWriMo or the NaBloPoMo?  Or are there any other self imposed deadlines you put on yourself that are similar to NaNoWriMo?  Or do you have any writing prompt/blog post ideas?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Loaded Potato Soup

One of my favorite things about the fall is the warm comfort food that is now weather appropriate to make (I would make it in the summer if anyone in my family would eat it then). 

A week or so ago (yes, it has taken me that long to get this post written), I made a loaded potato soup.  It was so yummy, and fits perfectly into the comfort food category.  While normally my family is not big soup eaters, everyone that the soup was pretty good except Ashton.  He insisted that he didn't want to try it because he said he doesn't like soup.  He is so stubborn ☺.

The first thing to this soup is to cook up some bacon.  I used probably about 1/2 a pound of bacon in our soup, but you could use more or less depending on your families preference.  I diced the bacon and then fried it until crisp in a stockpot.  Then I sat it aside for later.  Then put the diced onion into the bacon grease and fry it up until the onions are nice and tender.

Once the onions are ready, put the peeled and cubed potatoes into the stockpot along with the chicken stock.  Bring the chicken stock to a boil and cook until the potatoes are nice and tender.

While the potatoes are being cooked, dice up the green onions, shred the cheese, and get the heavy cream measured out.  It helps to have everything on hand and ready to go.

Once the potatoes are tender, scoop out a few and mush them up.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux.  Once it is ready, add the heavy cream and mix until it has thickened.  Then add the heavy cream mixture and the mashed potatoes back into the stockpot with the stock and potatoes.

Add the cheese, bacon (leave a little out for garnish), green onions, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper to the soup.  Stir until combined and cook a few more minutes.

Then scoop into bowls, garnish with cheese, green onions, sour cream, bacon, or any other toppings of your choice and then ENJOY!

Loaded Potato Soup
1/2 lb. bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
5 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken stock
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cup heavy cream (use milk if you want to cut calories)
3 green onions, sliced
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
sour cream for garnish, optional
In a large stock pot, cook diced bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon from pot and set aside.  Cook the diced onion in the bacon grease for about 5 minutes.
Add potatoes and chicken stock to the pot.  Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Once they are tender, remove a few scoops of potatoes and place them in a small bowl.  Mash and set aside for later.
In a small sauce pan, melt butter.  Stir in the flour and cook until the butter starts to get bubbly looking.  Whisk in the heavy cream (or milk), bring to a boil, and then simmer until it is thickened.  Slowly stir in to the stockpot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer.  Add the mashed potatoes back into the pot.
Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 3/4 of the bacon, and about half the green onions to the pot.  Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to the pot.  Stir to combine and then cook for about 5 more minutes.
Serve soup in bowls garnished with cheese, onions, sour cream, bacon, or any other fixings you enjoy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 10/15 to 10/21

Hello, Happy Friday!  I know I am yet again a day late and a dollar short (well if you get technical, four days), but I think late is better than not at all, when it comes to menu planning at least.  Not a ton of stuff has been going on lately with my family and I.  Things have been going pretty steady, so I thought I'd share some pictures of things I have found interesting or just liked from this past week.

Cute Little Bunny Keychain thing, a friend brought it back for me from her weekend adventures. 

Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Need I say more?)

Mustache Band-aids

Flower's from the hubby

Hopefully this week is as calm and uneventful as last week, although it is not starting out that way yet.  The hubby has been feeling under the weather and he has been very generous in sharing the feeling.  Ashton ended up staying home from school today with a bad stomach ache, Sydney has started coughing, and I seriously feel like a frog has crawled into my throat.  Here's hoping it's all short lived! 

Here's what we have planned for my household this week:


(I know again, but my brother in law fed them for me, I wasn't going to complain)
Thai Peanut Stir-fry
Dad's Casserole**

Garlic Bread


BBQ Chicken
Baked Beans

With feeling under the weather this week, things just didn't go as planned, in both the menu planning department (getting it posted at least) as well as just the general status quo at my house.  Things were left undone since I didn't have the energy to do them.

Hopefully next week goes better!

So what's your family having for dinner?

Not sure?  Check out some of the ladies over at Laura's Menu Plan Monday for some great inspiration!

The Walkers

Have you ever seen the show "The Walking Dead?"  If not. I suggest you check it out, it is an awesome show.  I love zombie shows, not sure why, especially since in reality, I am a jumpy person.  I can't even play shooter games because I get spooked out and anxious someone is going to shoot the video game me.  Anyways, I digress, on with the story.

The other day, I was watching a few episodes of The Walking Dead on Netflix.  I haven't yet finished the second season, so I am working on catching up.  So there I was, watching The Walking Dead, munching on some candy while my kids are peacefully sleeping and no other adults are home.  After a few episodes, I started to fall asleep on the couch so I decided it was time to head to bed.  

So I headed to my bathroom to brush my teeth, wash my face, you know, the normal bedtime type routine when suddenly I heard a shuffling dragging your foot as you walk sound.

I immediately froze.

And wouldn't you believe it, the first thought that popped into my head...

"Omg, It's a walker"

Bravely (or stupidly, take your pick) I walked out to my bedroom and looked out the window to see if my husband was home yet.  He wasn't, so I crept out my room (with no weapon in hand mind you) and halfway down the hallway , all stealthy like, to confront this Walker that dared enter my home.

By the time I reached the end of the hallway, I straigtened up and realized, there is no such thing as walkers.

I really need to get more sleep.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Emotionally Involved: Venting about Glee

Tuesdays are my normal movie night with my dear friend April.  Every Tuesday, she comes over, we have dinner with my family, and then we watch either a movie, or various television shows that we both have to catch up on.

Tonight we watched the latest episode of Glee on Hulu. 

While some of you may be scoffing that I even watch Glee, phhff. I love that show.  It has been one that I have watched since the beginning, and will probably watch till they take if off the air.  I completely am into that show.

If you haven't watched this latest episode... read no further... this will ruin it for you.

Seriously, shut the front door.  What is up with Rachel and Finn?  Am I the only one who is not okay with their whole situation?  First off, who the hell does Finn think he is to just go off the grid for 4 months without any communication at all with his fiance.  And Rachel?  Seriously, if you are so in love with Finn, why would you kiss Broady? 

And then Blaine and Kurt? And Santana and Brittney?  And Emma and Mr. Schuester?

This episode was filled with emotionally painfully songs, all of which are great songs, but are kind of downers.  This episode makes me want to go get a pint of Ben and Jerry's and cry like I just got dumped.

Ugh.  Sorry about the vent, but I always get so emotionally involved in my tv shows.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lumberjacking 101

Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder, "Man, I wonder what it would be like to be a lumberjack?"  I mean, seriously, they have those great mustache/beard combo's and they make plaid look good.

No?  Oh, okay, well I guess I'm in the minority there.  This weekend, I decided to trim/prune the trees in our front yard.  The larger of the two trees had a few dead branches on it that didn't produce leaves this year and the smaller tree just looked a little crazy.

Although normally I delegate the yard work to my hubby, but I couldn't shake the idea of getting the trees trimmed, so after my daughter had been laid down for her nap, outside I went. 

Because the larger tree is well over 10 feet tall, I used a ladder to climb onto the first branch and then climbed to the branches that needed removing.

Notice the arrow, indicating the location of said branches that needed removing.

 This in itself is a feat, as I had to manage climbing the tree while carrying a hand saw (Yes, I have heard there are special tree cutting saws, but we don't have one, and again, I had cutting those branches on the brain).  By this point, I was feeling pretty much like a monkey, climbing around nimbly in the trees.  Once I got the the point where I didn't feel comfortable climbing any higher, I reached with my arm about a foot above my head and started sawing away. 

No one ever told me how much work it is to cut a branch off a tree.  I suppose that isn't a normal conversation topic that is discussed either, but WOW!  My arm was starting to get tired.  My little boy, of course, was sitting safely by the sidewalk telling me I better keep sawing because if my arm got too tired, I'd fall out of the tree.  Normally, I'd simply switch arms, but unfortunately the other arm was holding on for dear life to the trunk of the tree. 

After probably a good 45 minutes, I managed to remove the troublesome branch (my arm kept getting tired, don't judge me).

After that, I deftly clambered my way down like a tree ninja.


And by tree ninja, I mean I almost fell out of the tree off the ladder trying to avoid a bee that decided to try and land on my face.

After that, I went and trimmed the smaller of the two trees in our yard.  This process was fairly uneventful, although time consuming. 

4 Hours and 5 humongous garbage bags full of branches and leaves later, our trees have been trimmed.

Not bad for an amateur with just a handsaw.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 10/06 to 10/14

Okay, okay, today is not Monday.  In fact today is only Saturday, which means this is either 5 days late or 2 days early.  I choose to believe I am  not an overachiever who is getting her menu on two days early!

So the weather here in town has been starting to turn cooler.  Mornings have been in the 40s and the afternoons in the 70s.  I ♥ this sort of weather.  The leaves on our trees in the yard are even already starting to turn gold and drift to the ground.

The past week and a half has been a pretty busy one.  Both of my kids have been under the weather.  My first grader, Ashton, was the initial sicko.  He came down with a horrible cold (in his case, every cold is horrible.  He always cough so hard he vomits, which is super nice for mom aka me).  Poor kid missed two days of school and was really down and out of commission for about 4 days.  In kid time, that is practically a year.

Then of course Sydney caught what Ashton has.  I am not sure why, but us girls (me and Sydney) have always been pretty resilient when it comes to being sick.  She was down for a day and then back in the action the next.  This morning she's been coughing a little, but truly, she is still in pretty good shape.

Things are looking up this next week though as for the kiddos being healthy.  They both have regained most of their abundant energy, so things should be pretty normal this week, I hope.

Due to the sickness we've had the past week or so, menu planning has been one of the last things on my mind.  Trying to decide what to make for the next week is hard to concentrate on when little ones need your attention. 

So here is the menu plan for the next week and 2 days for my family.

Grilled Bacon and Cheese Sandwiches
Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Chicken Fajitas

French Fries
(This really is just a back-up plan.  Hubby has been talking about doing steaks, but he hasn't really made up his mind yet, so just in case he changes his mind, we have a plan)

Chili Mac Casserole
Cornbread Muffins

Ham Steaks
Mashed Potatoes


Homemade Pizza

Rosemary Honey Glazed Whole Roasted Chicken

Thai Peanut Stirfry

Still looking for some ideas for dinner?  Check out my pinterest boards here for some good dinner ideas or check out Laura's Menu Plan Monday for some menu plans with lots of inspiration on them.

So what's your family having for dinner?