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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Babies and Boobies and Clowns! Oh My!

Or should I say, Babies and Boobies and Clowns! Nachos! Or maybe I shouldn't talk about clowns, boobies and babies in the same sentence or the same blog. But I'm going to. I'm all about pushing the boundaries of normal social conduct.

So Saturday was Halloween. In case you weren't aware of it, I'm here to remind you. You're welcome. As promised, I have pictures of myself and The Cowboy in our costumes, as well as The Cuteness and Stinky in theirs, AND of The Cuteness in her hat. It's a picture bonanza here.

The Cowboy decided about a month and a half ago that he was going to go as a clown. Now, let me just tell you all something about The Cowboy, if I haven't said it already. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret about him. He is All About Business. When he sets his mind on something, ANYthing, he is going to follow it through to the bitter end and obsess about it until it's perfect.
Guitar building, pickle making, getting a TV signal on the computer in the bedroom, not wearing a belt to work, locksmithing, boycotting Sprint - whatever it is, you can bet that when he decides he's on board - he is On Board.

So, he wanted to be a clown. He searched the Halloween stores and the innernets to find just the perfect costume. He purchased props, including a water squirting flower, a horn and a "BANG" gun. He researched clown makeup and balloon animal craftmanship. I'm not making this up. Here is the final product:

Meet "Robert" the Clown. He thought it was heeeeeeelarious that his clown name was Robert. Sometimes I don't get his humor.

Meanwhile, I couldn't decide what the hell to be for Halloween. I was back and forth between a witch (boring) and one of the girls from the Robert Palmer videos from the 80s (figured I'd have to spend all night explaining it to my friends who, I love, but are from Texas and therefor listened to Randy Travis in the 80s and not Robert Palmer....not that I'm disrespecting Randy Travis). The costumes both involved the same basic black dress that I've had since I was in high school (and still fits! thanks to stretchy material, but still, a victory), and I would accessorize with either a pair of striped tights and a hat, or a bunch of hussy makeup and the guitar from our Wii Rock Band. It was a toss up. As I said, I'd always wanted to do the Robert Palmer thing, but I figured the humor of it would be lost on my countrified friends, so I nixed that. And the witch thing was easy enough, but not original or creative. So at the last minute, I threw together this costume. I figured my countrified friends could appreciate this.

Rodeo Clown! We already had clown makeup. I had the hat, the shorts and the shoes. I bought the striped socks, the bandannas, and the shirt, which is actually kind of cute and I might consider wearing it again. Overall I spent about 2 days putting this costume together, as opposed to the nearly 2 months The Cowboy spent. That's the difference between us. But we looked cute, didn't we?

You know who else looked cute? That's right - The Cuteness herself and her best friend Baby Stinky Pants. They were a chicken and a bunny, respectively.

They also enjoyed Robert's balloon animals, after they changed out of their costumes.

Maddie really liked the hat that I made for her.

She liked it so much that she kept bringing me beers all night.

See? This is why you have kids.
(and actually, I'm only joking about her bringing me beer....she was bringing them to her father......again, just kidding, she was playing with the ice)

My friends and I are not young anymore, so it wasn't a particularly late night, aided by the fact that we got an extra hour. But I still had to get up at the BCOD on Sunday morning to be in Austin for the Race for the Cure. It was not easy to get up and get moving that early - but I am so glad I did. Thanks to my friends and family I raised $225 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and I walked/jogged the 5k with my friend Lesli from work.

It was an amazing experience. Thank you to everyone who supported me!

As you can see I had a very fun and fulfilling weekend. This coming weekend The Cowboy and I are going camping. In the meantime, I've been working on a recipe for you for later this week. And I've been inspired (bullied) to try cro-shit again. Standby for details regarding that train wreck.

Gratuitous Stinky Shot!

Hope you all have a fabulous week, Dahlings.