Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Very Stinky Christmas

Yesterday Baby Stinky Pants came to spend the afternoon with me while mommy had her hair did and daddy was golfing. She's 18 months now, and at a really cute and fun age. It's been awhile since I've posted any pictures of her, so I will let these speak for themselves.

Chillin' on the couch, laughing at The Cowboy.
(Note: please disregard all the dog hair on the couch and don't judge. Our husky, Aggie, sheds her coat twice a year and she's in full on shed mode right now. And yes, we let our dogs sit on the couch and lay in the bed. More like they let us sit on the couch and lay in the bed with them.)


Help! She's fallen and she can't get up.

Posing by the tree. (Her mom said they couldn't get a good picture of her for a Christmas card. They obviously didn't call me.)

She wouldn't let go of the Wii remote, in case you were wondering.

Looking like her daddy.

She's very curious about everything.

And now she has two Wii remotes.

Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season and that all your plans, preparations and parties are in full swing!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Crafts and Creeps

The goose is getting fat, my friends. Only 15 days left, but more importantly, only 6 more days of school until I'm off for 2 weeks!! My shopping was minimal and, therefor, easy this year. I'm pretty much finished with it. The interior of the house is decorated and the exterior is half done. Hopefully the other half will be completed this evening. All that's left to do is send out my cards, make cookies, and finish up a few knitting projects and holiday crafts I'm working on as gifts for friends and co-workers.

Which brings me to my post today. I have a really quick, easy, cheap and cute craft idea that just about anyone can do for Christmas gifts. Here's a picture of the sample(s) I made for myself.

You can use any letters you want, to spell out anything you like. Obviously. I chose Noel. But you can do Joy, or Peace. You could do names. You could do dirty words. Hey, it's your craft. Do what you want.

Materials you will need:

Wooden letters. I got these bad boys at Hobby Lobby. They came in packs of 2 (so I got 1 package which had 2 "n"s in it, etc.). The CD is there to give you a size reference. You can do bigger letters if you want. I wouldn't recommend smaller, because the cutting will get tricky. You'll see.
Cost of letters: 99 cents per package, so about $4 for all 4 letters, which will make 2 NOELs.

Scrapbook Paper. I used a different print for each letter, but you could do all 4 the same, or 2 and 2, or whatever you want. Again. I'm just showing you the method. You can mix it up as you like.
Cost of scrapbook paper: between 59 and 99 cents a page. So your price will vary depending on how much you buy and how many patterns you buy. For a big piece of paper, you can probably
get all 4 letters on it. But I bought 8 pieces of paper (I'm making 4 sets of these), and I spent about $5.

Mod Podge. Have you tried this stuff yet? I love it. It's like glue, but better. You can use it to save puzzles after you've put them together. You can make magnets and all sorts of other stuff with it that I'm sure I have no idea about, as this was my first experience using Mod Podge. But it won't be my last, nossir.
Cost of Mod Podge: $5 - $8, depending on where you buy it. It's a big bottle, and I only used a little for this project, though. So it will last you for awhile. Also, you can choose between matte and glossy Mod Podge. I went with glossy.

Tools. Scissors, an Exacto knife, and a sponge brush.
Cost of tools: You should have scissors, the exacto knife cost me $2.99 (if you don't already have one) and the brushes came in a set of 6 for $2. If you're a crafter, you probably already have most of this stuff laying around your house anyway.

For finishing, you will need a hot glue gun and some ribbon. I happened to have both of these things already, so I don't know how much they cost. You can pick up a thing of ribbon for like 50 cents, and if you don't have a hot glue gun, then I don't know how to talk to you.

The How-To

Trace the letters onto the backside of the scrapbook paper. Please don't make the same mistake I did and trace them the wrong way (I only did this on one letter thank you very much). You obviously want to be looking at the right side of the paper when all is said and done, so when you trace, make sure you turn the wooden letter over as well, so that it's backwards when you're tracing it.

Additionally, every time I've tried to type "wooden" in this post, I've typed "wodden" instead. Wodden is not a word. But maybe it should be.

Cut the letter out, but leave a little room around the tracing. You will go back and trim this in a minute with the exacto.

Place the paper on the letter and make sure it fits so that you can't see any wood.

Now comes the Mod Podge!!!

Using the sponge, dab a light layer of MP onto the wooden letter. Place paper on top, and smooth with your hand, making sure there are no air bumps. It doesn't have to be aligned perfectly with the trace lines on the backside, but if you're anal like me, you can turn it over and make sure it is right.

Using the exacto knife, trim the excess paper from the sides. I find this works best if you have the letter scrapbook paper side down, and resting on a bed of newspaper. It does NOT work best just on a wooden table. Your exacto knife will not hesitate to slice right through that table. A little heads up, from me to you. It also helps to let the MP dry a bit first, but if you've used too much and it's slopped over the sides, then you might have clumps of MP to slice through also. Just do your thang.

Once all your letters are trimmed, apply another layer of MP to the top of your letters
(scrapbook paper side). Don't freak out that it comes out white. It will dry clear. It's magical. But don't use too much either. Just a nice glossy coat. Allow your letters to dry for about an hour or so before finishing.

I didn't get any pictures of the finishing process, but you will want to cut 1 piece of ribbon per letter. Make them all about the same length initially, and you can go back and trim them after you've glued them. Using your hot glue gun, glue the 2 ends of the ribbon on the back of the letters. Make sure you test each letter and ribbon length to make sure they're going to hang about the same length.

That's it! Total cost of project was around $15, and I am going to get 4 NOELs out of it, so 3 gifts! You're done and you have a simple, homemade Christmas gift for anyone on your list.

Also makes a good gift for people named Leon.

Speaking of creepers named Leon, I bet a few of these guys are named Leon. This is my new favorite website. Please take a moment and check it out. 'Tis the season, and I promise you will laugh. And if you don't laugh, then I don't know how to talk to you.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Something Old, Something New

No, I'm not getting married. Sorry mom.

Tomorrow here in Central Texas we are supposed to be getting some "winter weather". Oh boy. The high temps are going to be in the mid 30s, and it's supposed to precipitate, so the forecasters are calling for the-possibility-of-a-chance-of-we-could-see-some-snow-flurries-with-some-light accumulation-on-the-grassy-areas-perhaps-between-2-to-3-inches.

You would think WWIII was about to roll through town, the way people are freaking out. I went to the grocery store after work today to pick up some batteries and everyone and their brother was there. I ran into no fewer than 7 kids from my school, and the lines were outrageous. I find it highly amusing, and yet very annoying (especially in the store situations) that the people down here hear the word "snow" and they think they better stock up because "who knows when we'll be able to get out to the store again". Oh for crying out loud. It's snow, people! It's supposed to melt by Saturday morning, and it won't even make the roads slick. Geesh.

Also, the school was all a-buzz today with talk of cancellations and snow days and inclement weather and buses and what would we do if? like questions. Bunch of ninnies. I'm not saying it's not been chilly down here - for Texas this weather is unusual, especially this time of year, and it
hasn't taken long for my blood to thin out and for me to become acclimated to the weather. However, snow isn't anything to freak out about. Do you hear me people of Central Texas? I declare,

Moving on...

That wasn't what I wanted to blog about today. I realized that I haven't posted since my trip up to Michigan for Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd better remedy that. I'm not going to post a bunch of boring pictures of my family and I on Thanksgiving (that doesn't mean I didn't take a bunch, just that I'm not going to post them you see) or bore you to death with the details of my trip. I'll just say that it was fabulous and everything I'd hoped it would be. The food was great, I got to see some friends and hang out with my cousins and aunts and mom. In fact, my mom and I went yarn shopping and I picked up some new sock yarn and some Noro. But those are boring details that I promised to spare you.

Christmas came a little early for me this year while I was up north. My grandmother gave me a wonderful gift!

My Gram and I on Thanksgiving (Ok, so I posted one boring picture of me and my family)

Here's the back story. When I was a little girl, I loved my Grandmother's house at Christmas time. It was filled with familiar faces, food, smells and decorations. My favorite decoration of all was this ceramic music box that I believe on of my aunts had painted and given to my Gram. It
depicted Santa snoozing in his chair, near the fire, and had a Christmas tree with 2 elves on either side that rotated around, which was how you wound up the music box. It played The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire....), and it amused me for hours. I would wind those elves up and happily watch it turn. I don't know why I loved it so, but I always have.
My Grandmother gave it to me this year.

It's probably my favorite Christmas decoration that I have now. And I have a lot. It looks like Christmas threw up in our house. But I love it that way.

The Cowboy and I are scaling back our Christmas gifts to each other this year, for various reasons. One of the things I had asked for, before we decided to keep it simple, was brand new bedding. The whole shebang. Bed skirt, comforter, pillows, sheets, etc. Our dogs, I love them, but they tear shit up. And to be fair, I'd had my old quilt on the bed for a few years now, and it was time for something nicer and newer. Grown up bedding. Well, The Cowboy surprised me yesterday with an early Christmas present!

This isn't the best picture, and it's still a little wrinkly from being in the package, but here's our new bedding! We set it all up, I took a quick picture, and then we had to cover it all up with the "dog blanket", which is our old quilt, which we are keeping on top of the new stuff, so the dogs don't tear it up. I wish we could see the bedding all the time, but it makes me happy just knowing it's there, and I love sleeping in new sheets.

Well, I'm off to watch the weather report and laugh at some fools. I hope it does snow, though. That would be pretty neat to see. But I'm not gonna lose my cool over it or anything.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Holiday Hairies

When I was little, on the day of a big holiday (Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas), you stayed the hell out of my Grandmother's way. My Grandma is the nicest lady ever, but if you got in her path and she was trying to cook a turkey or set a table or smoke a cigarette, WATCH OUT. She had, what we in my family affectionately (but quite seriously) referred to as: The Holiday Hairies. She got "hairy" right around the holidays - stressing out and fussing over everything and everybody. She would bark orders at anyone who dared enter a room with her, and you were required to carry out those instructions to the T, or risk being further yelled at. We all learned early on to just stay outside/down the hall/in the bathroom and out of her way.

I myself have had a touch of the Holiday Hairies the past 2 or 3 days trying to get all my clothes washed, presents wrapped, songs uploaded into my iPod, and stuff in general ready to go to Michigan. Ang and I leave tomorrow morning (from Dallas), so I either have to drive up there tonight or at the butt crack of dawn tomorrow so we can be on the road around 9. It should be about 2 full days worth of driving, since I'm certain neither Ang nor myself intends on driving straight through - a la Cowboy.

I'm taking a break to write this blog, and I think I've got most stuff packed and ready to go anyway. I got to thinking about the Holiday Hairies, and my Gram, and I am getting excited to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I am thankful this year to have a job that lets me have a week off at Thanksgiving, 2 at Christmas, and 10 in the summer. It really helps when you've got family (and friends!) long distance.

The following 2 things are from 2 other blogs that I read and love and are hilarious. I just thought they were great, so I am sharing them.

This picture is from Fail Blog and I literally EL OH ELLED when I saw it.

And from another favorite website of mine, Awkward Family Photos, comes this Thanksgiving Letter. (Click on the link to read it). I saw it last year around this time, and I love it! I thought my aunt was All About Business when it came to Thanksgiving dinner, but clearly, I've never met Marney.

I'll be off for a week, and I'm sure not blogging. I hope everyone out there has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Things

Here is a list (I love lists!) of the latest and greatest in my life. Because I know you've all been waiting with baited breath on tenterhooks on the edge of your seat for this.

My cousin Ang called me last weekend and asked if I wanted to drive up to Michigan for Thanksgiving with her. Um, does a bear shit in the woods? The answer is yes. I haven't been back to Michigan for Thanksgiving since I moved down here, so it will be my first "My Family Meal" since 2005. I am EXCITED. I mean no disrespect to The Cowboy or his people, but you know how Thanksgiving with anyone else's family just isn't quite the same. The food is always different. Not necessarily bad different, but different, and I look forward to eating familiar, wonderful, comforting food this year.

Because we're leaving in one week, I've been scrambling to get my Christmas shopping (for those in Michigan) done so I can bring it with me and save me an ass ton on shipping. Well, I haven't really been "scrambling", so much, as I've been loving every minute of it. It gave me an official excuse to get into the Christmas spirit. I try to show a normal amount of restraint when it comes to music, decorations and shopping, but my pending trip north allowed me to throw caution to the wind and dive nose first into Christmas Time. I'm a happy clam. Y'all know how I feel about Christmas.

It's Back!
Hey speaking of Christmas, look what's back on the store shelves!!

I love this stuff. I bought 3 2-liters today, only to get home and discover that one of them is diet. DAMMIT. Oh well, that will be the stuff I use to mix with the vodker. That way I won't taste it as much. Speaking of drinks....

I was leery of the wine in a box concept. Perhaps because my only experience with it was Franzia White Zinfandel. And that shit is nasty. But recently, I was at my friend Christy's house (mom of BSP) and she offered me a glass of wine, which of course I accepted, and it was a glass from a box-o-wine. And it was good. And I was shocked. And then I was happy. And I was all, "Mmm this is good." And she was all "Yeah it's from a box." And I was all "Shut up!" And she was all "No, it's true". And then she showed me, and it was true. The end.

Target has their Wine Cubes on sale this week - $15.99. And there is the equivalent of 4 bottles in one box. For SIXTEEN DOLLARS. That is $4 a bottle. I did the maths, you can trust me. And it stays good in your fridge for up to 4 weeks (if it lasts that long, which it won't at my house and if you need any help polishing your box off, please let me know). Now, it's not the best quality wine I've ever had. But it sure as shit ain't the worst either. It falls somewhere right in the middle. For $16, I will take it. I am enjoying a glass right now as I type this.

There's my box-o-wine, nestled happily on the shelf in the fridge. What's that? You say that you see a six pack of beer, a bottle of champagne AND a bottle of vodka in the fridge? No, we do not have a problem. No, that orange juice was not purchased for the sole purpose of making mimosas. No, I do not need 12 steps. Let's move on.

The Cowboy bought some fruit trees this year. Apple, lemon, lime and orange. So far, we haven't produced any real quality fruit, but he tells me that it sometimes takes a full year for the trees to produce. However, when I took the dogs outside the other morning, I noticed this:

!!!!!! It looks almost ready to eat. Perhaps I'll cut it up and float it on top of my mimosas. I'm KIDDING. Geesh, lighten up.

Baby Hats
A girl I work with and her husband are adopting a little girl. The pick her up tomorrow, and we are having a baby shower for them at work on Monday. The little girl is 19 months old, and has Chromosome 18, which is a disorder I'm told is similar to Down Syndrome. She is the sweetest, cutest little thing (they've had her on weekends now for several months), and her name is Alyssa. I don't have any pictures, but if I get some I will post them. Natch, I made a hat for her.

And another for my friend Sarah's daughter, Elbow Macaroni.

I am loving these hats - they knit up in several hours and are so cute. Hats for everyone!

And the last Good Thing in my life right now is

This dog.
She is so sweet. To put it simply, I love her.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Scenes from the weekend






Wake up!







(you knew I had to get at least one in there)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Recipe: Mexican Chicken Dump

There are certain words I try to avoid using when I'm talking about food I'm cooking or eating. Among them are the aforementioned scum, the worst word in the world - moist, and the word I just used in the title of this blog - dump. Juicy is also on the list - unless you're talking about a peach, plum or other stone fruit, but even then it's not my favorite descriptor.

The reason this recipe is called Mexican Chicken Dump, however, is because you literally just dump all the ingredients in the Crock Pot, walk away, do something, come back 6-8 hours later, and Voila*! Dinner is ready. Another suitable name or it would be Mexican A Monkey Could Make This Chicken. So you can call it whatever you like.

Have you become one with your Crock Pot yet? My Crock and I had a love-hate relationship for a long time. I tried to make things, it would burn them, I would cry and hate it. Ok it was more of a hate-hate relationship. I wanted to love it, but it wouldn't let me. I think I had a faulty Pot, though, because once I burned something so bad the Pot couldn't be recovered (that was a very dark day in my life), so I bought a new one and since that day I haven' t burned one thing.

So if you are like me, and struggling with your CP, this recipe is for you. You can't screw it up. I
have made this countless times, and it always comes out perfect. It's simple, it's delicious, and you can use the product for lots of different things. I know a lot of people out there
already make this, but just in case you haven't heard of this before - here you go.

In your CP, dump the following items:

4-6 chicken breasts, FROZEN (don't be scared, it's ok, they will cook up nicely and not dry out)
1 large jar salsa (I use Pace Picante Sauce)
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (even if you think you don't dig on black beans, add them - you can't really taste them and along with the corn it gives the dish a nice color)

I have a CP with time settings - 4, 6, 8 or 10 hours. I've cooked it on every setting except 4 hours, and it's always come out good. If you only have high or low settings, I'd go with low.

Once it's done cooking, pull the chicken breasts out of the crock pot and shred them with 2 forks. Add the shredded meat back into the CP and allow it a few minutes to soak up some of the liquid (if your sauce is a little watery, it's ok, the meat will soak it up). About 5 minutes should do it.

Now, you have a choice. The chicken in the pot is ready to eat, and is great as a taco, or as a taco salad. But I like to be really obscene, so at this stage, I add some cream cheese. Oh yes. Cream cheese.

Just a little - less than a half a block, and I used the light stuff this time (not always the case). Cut it up into little bits and allow it another 5 minutes to melt. Give it all a good stir. The cream cheese adds just a touch of richness and creaminess, and it's heaven. Oh, there's another word I don't like when talking about food: creamy. Ick. But this stuff is good.

I serve it with warm tortillas and Spanish rice.

And yes, I use the rice out of the paper package. Go ahead and do it - it tastes good
and this meal is supposed to be easy for you.

Mmmm Mmmmm Good! Mexican Chicken Monkey Dump! Hope you make it and enjoy it!

*I used to work with a woman who would frequently say "Voila" about pretty much anything. However, she actually said it phonetically, so she was saying "Voy-lah" instead of "Wah-lah", which of course is how it's pronounced. It really got on my last good nerve and I never did tell her how it drove me up the wall. Every time she said it, I cringed.