Monday, January 31, 2011

Ground Beef Stroganoff

Ground Beef Stroganoff...otherwise known as making do with whatever I can find in my fridge, freezer, and pantry.  It still tasted good, though, so enjoy yet another moment of me playing with what I have on hand.

Brown about a pound of ground beef with onions and garlic.

Create a sauce with beef stock, cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise.

Pretty, right?

Add sauce, and a can of sliced mushrooms, serve over pasta.  How easy was that?


* 1 pound ground beef

* 1/2 cup chopped onion

* 1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained

* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

* 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

* Salt and pepper to taste

* 1/4 cup sour cream

* 2 Tbl. cream cheese

* 1/2 cup mayonnaise

* 1/2 cup beef broth

* 1 (8 ounce) package egg noodles


1. Break up ground meat into a large skillet, and add onion, mushrooms, garlic powder, and mustard powder. Cook over medium heat until the meat is browned. Drain off excess fat if needed.

2. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and beef broth. Stir into beef mixture, and cook over low heat until melted and starting to bubble.
3. Cook pasta.  Serve sauce over the noodles.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Think My Husband is Nesting

Two quick notes before I dive in: 
1)  I have a stomach virus.  I am cranky. 
2)  Go check out Lizzie's post today.  It is a soup recipe I sent her.  the Mother Runner: Southwest Chicken and White Bean Soup

Chris has always been a bit of a neat freak.  Which I suppose is good because, while I'm not DIRTY, I would not be living to quite his standards if he didn't encourage it.  Right now, though?  There is a lot of stuff that is not where it should be.  He has emptied every closet in our house in an effort to reorganize, gather donations, and clear out the baby's room.  Isn't this supposed to be the pregnant woman's hang-up?

For instance, there is a chair frame that needs a second coat in the middle of our basement.  Ok, I started this.  Both in the sense that I suggested we paint it (because it was lime green in the blue and white room), and because I'm supposed to be putting on the second coat.  So...point not proven.  It's still there, though.

This IS all Chris.  This is his to-do list.  Well, two pages of his to-do list.  It goes on for at least 4.  He may have added to it.  And, alright, it's his in the fact that he wrote it down.  Again, I may be responsible for doing some of it.

Last bit of evidence?  A newly reformatted closet in our guest room.  He built in all the shelving himself (a couple months ago), but what is new is that he moved all of my sewing materials here that formerly resided in the baby's closet.  Which I SUPPOSE makes sense.

I'm not doing a very good job at proving my point, but it boils down to that he keeps leaving me "honey do" lists, and then comes up with millions of more projects whenever he's around.  And, for reference, laundry, dishes, and cooking do not count as chores to him since they are "every day".  Yes, please slap him around a bit for me.  At least we are working through everything, I suppose.  Now I must go start something since I only have done laundry and dishes.  Obviously, I'm a bum.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Difference in Perspective

Here is my weekly snow post.  Really.  It's been a crazy season.  Yesterday we got somewhere around a foot I think?  Not sure.  What I am sure of, is that the dog LOVES it, Chris is starting to dread it, and I'm just glad he's still not making me shovel.  Though today I was in charge of clearing off the cars.  And they didn't look so much like cars.  More like mini-mountains of snow.  I suppose Chris completely has the raw end of the deal, though, as he plans on shovelling off the roof when he gets home.  I'm actually a little nervous about that one!

Here is where you can find Harper.  99% of the time.  Like right now.  She refuses to come in because she loves it so much.  We're actually getting a little concerned about frost-bitten paws, but I've tried every trick I can think of and can't catch her.

Early this morning.  Chris says we're not allowed to get more snow until drifts melt.  Shh...don't tell him we're expecting more this weekend.

And, me trying to prove I did something.  See?  Snowy mittens and wet jeans.  Gotta count for something.  ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

Chris enjoys my part-time status because he can request absolutely irrational foods (time-wise) without guilt.  Not that pumpkin bread really is all that time-consuming, but it is more than I'd usually pull off on a work day.  I do have to say, that due to a lack of cinnamon applesauce, this is not how I'd normally make it, but it still turned out to be delicious.  And apparently Chris's office happily consumed a loaf today. 

Grease and flour 3 loaf pans.  Yes, THREE.  Feel free to cut back the quantity, but I assure you, we are onto the 3rd loaf on day #2.  Granted, the office got one.

2 cups of pumpkin puree.  I roasted a pie pumpkin when it was in season, pureed the flesh, and froze it.  A can will do nicely, too, though.

Add oil and eggs.  If I had cinnamon applesauce, I would replace 1/2 of the oil here.

And entirely too much sugar for this to be considered healthy.   

Beat all of this together.
Your seasonings.  I am a ginger fiend.  I will over-add ginger to everything.  My preference, doesn't have to be yours.

Seasonings mixed in a separte bowl with flour and baking soda.  Now, if you were smart, you would have mixed the wet stuff in the larger bowl so that the dry could go into wet...I failed.  Combine them anyway.

Split the batter between your 3 pans.



* 2 cups of pureed pumpkin (or a can if you must)

* 4 eggs

* 1 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 a cup of oil and 1/2 a cup of applesauce)

* 1/2 cup water (fresh pumpkin puree will be wetter than canned.  Adjust accordingly)

* 3 cups white sugar

* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

* 2 teaspoons baking soda

* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon  (if using cinnamon applesauce, this probably isn't necessary, but Chris would love if you put it in, anyway)

* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger ( may have been more)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three loaf pans.

2. In your BIGGER bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil (or applesauce), water and sugar.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Split between your three pans.

3. Ok, here's the tricky part.  Depending on how evenly you distributed your batter, and the type of pan, cook time will vary.  That pan on the right?  40 minutes.  The other 2?  48.  Undercook if anything, because no one likes burnt edges.  Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Not So Helpful

Well...Harper's being a brat.  That's actually good news.  It means she's feeling good.  Here is a bit of evidence:

She is back to pre-washing all the dishes for us.  Which really isn't so great when you're supposed to be keeping her away from any off-diet food.  You try fighting with a stubborn 70-pound garbage disposal.  But does she eat HER food?  OH no.  Not until you give in and bribe her with something.  Sometimes this is some plain meat (like boiled chicken breasts) which she is allowed to have, a little frozen pumpkin, or her favorite, putting a little of the kibble in an empty cat food can.  Does she care that she doesn't get any cat food?  Not really.  It's the can that does it for her.

Alright, as for the health update, it's still in the wait-and-see mode.  We believe that the intestinal infection has cleared and are off antibiotics right now.  However, the digestive function is perhaps still a little...loose?  Trying not to be gross here.  It's looking up a bit, but it's still not great.  She also seems to be putting on a bit of weight, but that could be my imagination, as we haven't been back to the vet to be weighed.  Hopefully the digestive issues clear up soon so that we can get some vaccines.  She continues to be medically excused from being up to date on her shots, but it would be nice to get, I don't know, rabbies and the like at some point so we could head back out in public. 

What are we doing differently?  We're thoroughly charting EVERYTHING.  Every bit of food, every time she goes to the bathroom (though, I didn't go out into the yard with her at lunch, so I don't know, and Chris is going to be upset with me), and every medication we give her.  We continue to do about 1 tsp of pancreatic enzyme to 3 cups of food, but recent articles we've read seem to suggest a higher ratio of enzyme.  We also are continuing to give her FortaFlora, a pro-biotic for now to try and address that the antibiotics have killed of the good bacteria, but we may stop that after she improves.  As we chart it, we may add more fat into her diet.  The more recent studies on EPI dogs that we've read seem to contradict the long-held belief that these dogs need to be on low fat diets.  Rather, it's important to minimize grain/fiber, and fat can actually help them put weight back on.  We're only going to make one change at a time, though, so we're not starting that yet.  We've also tossed about the idea of going to a more meat-centric diet, but it would be expensive, so we're holding off on that for now. 

Long story short, she seems to be improving, but we're not out of the woods yet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Most Important Nursery Renovation

Now, for those of you who are lucky enough to not live in a "fixer-upper", you may not have ever thought of this as part of preparing for baby.  In our 1950's house, most of the doors will not close and latch.  Or if they do, they are so tight you have to throw your entire body weight against them to open them.  This comes from over-painting frames, settling, former carpeting over hardwoods, and poor renovations done by the previous owners.  Chris has been on a mission to gradually fix doors in our house.  A couple have been complete replacements (like in the basement), some have just involved new doors, but not new frames, and some, like the nursery, have received new knobs, or re-hanging of the current knobs and/or strike plates.

The nursery door would not latch.  With a couple of curious animals, this was a MAJOR problem.  Even now, we are starting to try and keep them out of the room so that it will be less of an issue when the Lion arrives.  Let's see if you can identify the most important tool for the project from looking at Chris's toolbelt.

Don't see it yet?  I'll give you a hint and zoom in...

Still nothing?  Here it is...

Yes, that is an old, busted up tube of lipstick.  Preferably in an obnoxiously bright color.  This is called "Drumbeat Red."  PERFECT for what you're going to use it for.

First, apply the lipstick to your latch, mostly along the pointed area.

Close the door.  This is what the strike plate will look like if the door is properly hung.  The lipstick will track along the plate into the hole.  However, as you can tell from the torn up frame, the plate had previously been hung too low and Chris had to chisel out the wood so it could be hung higher.

 That's just a simple matter of a hammer and a chisel, but the lipstick is really the key.  Without it, we were at a loss as to why the latch wouldn't catch.

Happy renovating!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nursery Part 1

So, we haven't gotten very far on the nursery yet, but we now have the first bit of furniture.  You should know that the room is VERY oddly shaped and what you're looking at is a little alcove section in the back of the room.
Yup, that's a futon!  I know, this is not seeming like much of a nursery post, right?  However, the idea is to have more guest space, a space for me to sleep on the 2nd floor initially, and just make that niche a "reading nook".  We do have a bookshelf for in there, too, but it's in a different location. 

We were so proud of ourselves!  We found this fantastic frame on Craigslist for $50, and it only has a couple scratches on the top.  The mattress was also a steal from  If you've never heard me shout praises of Overstock before?  Then I have been severely remiss in my love declaration.  We have bought innumerable items, and always been more than happy with the quality, price, and $1 shipping.  Where else can you get this crazy heavy futon shipped to you for only $1! 

On that note, I beg my husband in particular to not ream me out for carrying said futon up a flight of stairs by myself.  It may have not been the smartest move, happened.  Deal.  And...since he removed the doorknob from that door last night (in an effort to get the door to latch), the animals have discovered the futon and made themselves at home.  Doh.  In fact, I think I'm hearing the dog upstairs now.  I should check that.  Harper!

Monday, January 17, 2011

21.5 Weeks

I am REALLY bad about following a schedule, but here I am again doing a 1/2 post so that I actually get a picture up.  And it's a really lousy picture.  I need someone to show me how on earth to take a picture in a mirror.  It is way beyond my skill level.

I'm thinking I look huge, but I've had a few people tell me that I don't look pregnant, so...sigh.  Let's compare.  Here I am at 5 weeks pregnant.

Alright.  I feel better.  I am definitely a LOT bigger.  So :P

Here we go with questions.

How do I feel?  Really, pretty darn good!  Heartburn's atrocious, but aside from that?  All is good.  I mean, I BELIEVED people when they said the 2nd trimester got better, but now I don't have doubts. 

Do we know the sex?  Yup!  The Lion's a boy!

Do we know the name?  Well...we had said from day 1 a specific boy's name...and now Chris claims that it's not decided and we're not naming him until he arrives.  So...kinda.

How much weight have you gained?  I think about 8 pounds?  I'll know once I (finally) go to the doctor tonight.  I may or may not have forgotten my appointment last week and had to reschedule.  GRR.

Any good stories?  I'm a terrible blogger...not really.  Oh, wait!  One to do with pregnancy brain!  Ha.

So, I have now gotten into a terrible rut of every time I go to the grocery store, thinking, "Oh, we're out of corn meal, I should grab some."  However...we now have THREE containers of corn meal in our pantry.  I think I need to take the time to write on my forehead "Do not let me buy cornmeal" before entering the store.  Hopefully a conscientious cashier would take pity on me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Good news for you!

The good news for you:  There won't be any more bad pictures for awhile!  Yes, I finally got off my lazy butt and sent the camera away to be repaired.  Well, there MIGHT be pictures, but it involves me finding the point and shoot and using that.  So we shall see. 

Also good?  2011 really seems to be turning around for us.  So maybe I will quit being so mopey and feel like I can write without depressing the rest of the world.  Yes, I'm still part time, but between Chris's test and work successes (oh, did I not tell you?  Aside from just passing the PE, he has been regionally recognized for a green building he helped design.  My husband is a rock star.), the Lion being healthy and generally driving me a little less nuts (thank you 2nd trimester), and just managing to work through a lot of crud in my head, things are looking up.

It just wouldn't be me without bringing you down a little bit, though.  Harper continues to have an intestinal infection, and continues to lose yet more weight.  Oh!  I might have a picture of her I haven't posted so you can see the skinniness.

There's nothing quite like being allowed to chew on an empty wrapping-paper tube if you're a puppy.  It didn't last long.  Maybe 10 minutes before I had to take the shredded remains away.  Anyway, our last bi-weekly visit resulted in a $200-some dollar charge, and she was down another 2 pounds in 2 weeks.  So Chris and I had to have the heartbreaking discussion of when were we going to say "enough is enough".  Don't worry, it's not yet!  We're trying upping the antibiotics yet again, and praying, but it wouldn't be fair to let her starve to death if things don't get under control.  I ended up in tears, and Chris had the nerve to say, "Aren't pregnancy hormones fun?"  Oooh!  I about slugged him.  My response?  "I would've been upset about this anyway, thank you." 

Alright.  Enough of that.  I'm going to go back to remembering that life is looking up.  Which...will be easier after I go grab a couple Tums.  ;)  For all the relief of symptoms the 2nd trimester has brought, it's also brought on some WICKED heartburn.  So, off to raid the medicine cabinet.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blurry Asian-Inspired Coleslaw

You'd think that after one of these horrible posts, I'd finally call Canon and look into getting my camera repaired.  Well, I haven't yet, so here is yet another out-of-focus post.  My dilemma was what to do with 1/2 a cabbage I had left from making Pad Thai earlier this week.  Obviously, you make coleslaw.  I'm very opinionated about coleslaw, though.  It should NOT be creamy.  Blame that on the lactose intolerance.  It also MUST have vinegar.  Now this is walking a fine line towards an item my husband would be unwilling to eat.  To the rescue?  Peanut butter.  Yes, peanut butter.

First, you should clean off your counters before taking pictures.  I failed.  Above you see a pasta scoop, coffee grinder, dog medicine, and Chris's new favorite wine next to the plastic bag I had stored the cabbage 1/2 in.  This picture will not be winning any awards.  However, slice up the cabbage, some carrots, and 1/2 an onion.  I will be putting it in a food processor later today because the strips were still a little big for our taste.  Usually I will run the cabbage through on the shredder, but for some reason, I decided to practice my knife skills.

See?  I actually can get everything quite fine...just not fine enough.  Ah well...easy to fix. 

This blurry number is what it would look like if you looked at the finished product after having your eyes dilated.  I mixed in the sauce here.  Just believe me on that one.  Or try the recipe below.  I do have to give you a heads up that it is NOT overly dressed, so if you like your coleslaw dripping, you might want to up the proportions.

Asian-influenced Coleslaw

1/2 a cabbage shredded
About 10? baby carrots shredded or finely julienned
1/2 an onion finely diced (I hate raw onion, so I get it as small as possible to make my husband happy)

3 Tbl white wine  vinegar
3 Tbl vegetable oil
Drizzle of sesame oil
2.5 Tbl peanut butter
1.5 Tbl soy sauce (I'll always be heavy-handed with soy, though, and add more)
1.5 Tbl brown sugar
1/2 Tsp ground ginger
Tbl of diced garlic (I also like things heavy on the garlic)

1)  Mix together veggies
2)  Mix together sauce
3)  Mix together everything
4)  Enjoy

Some chopped peanuts wouldn't be bad on top either, so feel free to go to town.

Friday, January 7, 2011

King of the Jungle

Yes, our little lion is a KING. Or a BOY. However you want to put it. I have been right all along (thank goodness!). I would have been genuinely happy either way, but if they had told me "girl", it would've taken quite a bit of getting used to, just because of how certain I've been since day one.  Chris, on the other hand, is just relieved.  He even was cursing friends who dared to guess "girl" on facebook.  I think that he might've regretted saying that had the Lion turned out to BE a girl, but apparently he felt strongly. 

I also can finally BREATHE because he is healthy in every way they can determine by ultrasound.  All the limbs and organs are as they should be, and the environment seems to be supporting him just fine.  So, I can quit fretting (at least until I come up with some other reason), and try to keep up on my water-drinking so that the fluid levels STAY where they should be. 

Chris thinks I'm imagining it, but I believe I lucked out and the Lion got his nose.  That is another thing I've been saying all along is that I'd appreciate if that one feature at a minimum could come from him.  See?  Isn't he a cutie?

Now, in two important ways, the Lion seems to be imitating my brother...aside from being due within a couple days of his birthday.  1st up?  He's already weighing in at 12 oz.  That can of soda you're holding may not seem heavy, but at 20 weeks?  I may be getting the chunker that would fit right in the family.  Chris, my brother, and all my cousins all weighed 9.5+ lbs.  I was just under 8, but...was a week early.  I think I'm looking at some fun labor, ya'll. 

2nd?  He's already a thumb sucker.  My brother had his thumb permanently glued to his mouth into elementary school...until my parents bribed him with many packs of baseball cards.  Even at that young age, my financial genius of a brother knew the true value of things.  For thumb-sucking proof...see Exhibit B:

 This week has been wonderful, and I couldn't ask for more.  I am so happy that my little man is doing well, and I've gotten another chance to see him!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What sex is the Lion?

Ok, it's the day everyone has been waiting for.  At 2:30 we go in for the anatomy scan ultrasound.  And while I'm incredibly nervous about potentially finding out something is wrong (not that I have ANY indication that there is), we'll focus on the exciting aspect...BOY or GIRL.  Get in your votes!  I'll let you know tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What did I wear to the wedding?

So, Kristin over at Glamorous Newlywed was kind enough to do a post on what I should wear to a winter wedding while pregnant.  She has some of the BEST fashion advice posts I've seen, and is also a couple months ahead of me in the whole preggo-thing.  You should check out her original post here:

I'm not the best at following instructions, but I tried hard to take the gyst of what she recommended, and roll with it.  From what I gathered, I'd be well advised to use chunky statement jewelry, a flat shoe in a contrasting color, and an empire waist (well, that's a given).  So I tried.

Alright, this is a terrible picture of me, but you can see I went with dark silver jewelry, sweater, and flats.  The sweater was mostly just for the ceremony and any transition time.  I only really am putting up the closed-eye photo because it's the only one Chris took where you can see the shoes.  And husbands will only put up with so many "can you take that again" 's.

Here I am without the sweater.  Yeah, I went with complete hoochiness...otherwise known as a v-neckline, which could never be conservative on me at the moment. 

And finally one of us as a couple.  The lighting and focus aren't quite right, but I'll continue to use the broken camera as the excuse.  I really need to call about that. 

So, once again, a great big thank you to Kristin for her suggestions, and I hope I at least got close!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

I am now 30.  Oof.  Actually, I'm really not all that disturbed by the number, but a little disturbed by having my first kid in my 30's.  Ah, well.  They'd think I was old even if I was a teen mom.  It's a rule.  All of our parents are "old" until we're old enough to feel it ourselves! 

Presents I'd LIKE to receive today, but I'm not going to:

- Kat going into labor (I've been told, sadly, that's not happening, even though I had bet on it)
- A good economy for all
- 80 degree January.  Ha.

Presents I HAVE received today:
- Harper waking us up throwing up a chicken bone...which means she ATE chicken bones.  Hmm.
- A big ole bag of cards and presents which I have promised not to open until Chris gets home.  AHHH.

AND...MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL...CHRIS PASSED HIS P.E. (professional engineering) EXAM!!!!!  It has been a long road, and he has worked his BUTT off studying, but we are finally DONE.  I've passed all the bars I intend to take, he's passed the FE and PE, and more. tests. ever.  Thank you, God!  I am so grateful! 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Where have I been?

Oh the places I've seen...  Not really.  Nowhere particularly new, but MAN have we been on the road a lot!  It all started for Christmas when we went to Ohio to see my parents.  Then we spent a couple of quiet (ha!) days at home recovering, and, obviously cleaning.  You may have picked up on that hospital-style cleanliness is important to my husband.  He even took a 1/2 day off during that time to help me.  On Thursday, we drove up to Chris's parents, somewhere in the nowhere-lands of NE Pennsylvania.  We decided to torture them and leave Harper in their care while we went on to Rochester for my cousin's wedding on New Year's.  We were in Rochester overnight, came back to the in-laws, spent another night there, and finally made it back to our house sometime yesterday.  Yes, you should not feel ashamed if you are breathless just reading that.  Now we are overjoyed to be going NOWHERE for the foreseeable future.  Here are a couple of pictures I stole from my uncle, I'll do some uploading later.

My cousin Todd and his beautiful wife Meghan.  They've finally tied the knot after dating for 14 years!!!

Chris and I hanging out in the hotel lobby.  They had some delicious water "spiked" with orange slices.  Mmm...tasty.

The first picture of all the cousins together in TWELVE years.  Yes, there are spouses and kids in there, too.  I hadn't even MET 3 of Mike's 5 kids.  Been too long!  Going up and around in a horseshoe, my actual cousins are Mike (bottom L), me, my brother, Mariano (next to Jim), Christina (next to Mariano), Brent (in front of her), and Todd (the groom).  Debbie, Chris, Sara, Clay, Lindsey, and Meghan are just welcome additions.  All the kids belong to Mike and are Trevor (L), and from the top down: Alyssa, Ashley, Justin, and Amber.  So cute!

There will be more once I upload, but hope everyone had a fantastic New Years!