Wednesday, February 29, 2012

leap day.

happy Leap Day!

i feel compelled to post something here today. you know, since Leap Day only comes around once every four years i should probably take a minute to at least recognize its existence this year, yes?

i was planning on telling you all a little about the myriad of projects that i have gotten myself into lately and a bit about what all sorts of things are happening around our house, but i forgot to take pictures of most of them, and just telling you about how amazing my new entryway bench looks or trying to describe my newest crafty art-type thing just wouldn't do them justice. maybe i'll get it together by tomorrow.

so instead of telling you all anything NEW, i'm just going to link back to what i was thinking last leap day. surprisingly, for as much as has changed over the past four years, where i was then is a lot the same as where i am on this leap day: looking forward to spring and birthdays and easter, and getting ready to leave the country in the near future. kind of cool, kind of freaky. life is funny like that i guess.

Monday, February 27, 2012

meal plan monday: feb 27.

this week is going to be an experiment. a fun one. a kind of crazy one. a hopefully very good one.

in an effort to get ourselves more motivated to be more active and more healthy, Mark and I are getting serious about eating better. he wants to get back into weight lifting and bulk up. i want to focus on toning and lose a few of the sneaky pounds i managed to gain over the winter that i just discovered this weekend. (seriously, i thought i was 10 pounds lighter than i am!)

Mark is the brains behind this operation, since he is the one that has actually done all sorts of research into health and nutrition and fitness, and because he can bench-press me when he's OUT of shape and he once went an entire year without eating a single piece of candy. this is serious bid-ness you guys. i might be way out of my league. my part in all of this is to ensure that what we're eating still tastes good.

the plan (as i understand it) will be to eat bigger breakfasts, healthy snacks, and smaller dinners. more fish and eggs, and TONS more veggies. desserts and sweets on special occasions. less carbs in the evening, which means no more pasta for dinner all the time. add on a more-regular exercise plan and there you have it: my best understanding of what it takes to be uber-healthy.

this week is going to act as kind of a trial run to see if we can logistically pull this off and still function as normal human beings who have painting and other projects to finish around the house, a garden to start and maintain, and friendships and family and our own relationship to keep up with. we're in this together. it should be fun.

Monday: tilapia filets with rice and salad.
Tuesday: grilled chicken salad.
Wednesday: vietnam chicken fried rice.
Thursday: chicken-pesto boboli, salad.
Friday: quesadillas with salsa, rice, and avocado.
Saturday: it is useless to try and plan this.
Sunday: we just make it up on the weekends.

are you eating anything interesting this week? trying anything new? do you know of any way to eat more veggies than just eating a lot of salad? cuz apparently i don't.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

how to grow stuff.

if you are looking for actual helpful information about growing things, you might as well just leave now.

anyone still here?

i guess i should preface this by saying that i am amazingly underqualified to write this post. and yet, that fact is not stopping me. nor is the fact that i am not the one who is in charge of our garden. the fact is, i know pretty close to nothing about what all is going on in the realm of things that may or may not be growing at my house. (except maybe for the mildew in the bathrooms. that one's all on me. why oh why didnt i marry a bathroom-cleaner?)

what i DO know about garden-related growing things that are growing in our house is that they are doing it in my kitchen. because apparently we have a lovely greenhouse-like window right above the sink that is better suited for growing things that it was for being home to my lovely assortment of decorative vases and bottles.

why yes, we did in fact have things planted for our garden while there was still snow on the ground. it was a rare thing around these parts this year, to have snow on the ground. but i guess it kind of helps to explain the lamp. that window is exposed to the elements on five of its six sides, and its not extremely well insulated, which means that when Mother Nature wanted it to, it could get rather chilly up in there. also: winter is cloudy.

so Mark bought the seedlings a special lamp (on a timer!) to keep them warm, well-lit, and happy for the cold, cloudy portion of winter that they were forced to endure. i tried to convince him that I could use a special lamp to keep ME happy in the winter, but those are a lot more pricey.

the eggplant seeds were the first ones to go into the dirt. they were followed a few weeks later by the tomatoes and peppers. (at which point Mark informed me that he had been using my good spoons for digging in the dirt. i gave him a plastic one to use instead and promised to thrift him his very own dirt-digging spoon as long as he stayed far away from my silverware drawer.) the tomatoes and peppers are still just looking like little pots full of dirt at this point, but as of this week we are the proud parents of some cute baby eggplants!!!

i was kind of embarrasingly overexcited when i found these little green shoots, i almost fell off of my precarious perch atop the sink (which is why the picture is slightly blurry) i am kind of in awe at the whole real-live-plants-growing-from-tiny-seeds thing, and also excited at the prospect of actually being able to grow edible things in our own backyard. Mark is excited that i am excited about the garden at all.

i'm starting to feel almost ready for the real-live springtime that i'm hoping is right around the corner. how about you? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

lent list.

so since i'm completely and sometimes overly honest up in here, i have to tell you that for the past few years i have really stunk at lent. in the past, i have tried to take on something new, rather than give something up, usually something along the lines of 'read a chapter of the Bible every day.' but the past couple years, i have failed pretty spectacularly at my goal. i would stay on track for the first week or so, and then just lose steam. either that, or i just pretty much just missed it.

lent is a sneaky little bugger: it starts on a different day every year, and it is especially difficult to keep track of since my denomination doesn't technically observe it. but its a good concept, and so this year we are ready for it. (if you are ok with defining 'ready' as 'we talked about it for like 5 minutes last night)

so here's our plan: for lent this year, we are giving up watching tv.

i know, we didnt do so hot during tv-turn-off-week, but we're willing to give it another shot. lately, we have both been realizing that we spend far too many evenings parked in front of the TV, and at the end of the night we don't really feel very good about that.

of course, we have built ourselves in a few exceptions to our rule:
1. we are each allowed to watch one show per week of our choosing. the show can be no longer than 1 hr long. we are not required to watch an hr each week, but we are allowed.
2. this doesn't really apply at other people's houses. we can't and dont want to force anyone else to join us in our tv-fast.
3. movies are a little different. basically, we're not going to watch them by ourselves at our house as a mindless way to pass an evening. but going out with friends or inviting people over to watch a movie are still fair game.

we're hoping that we will be able to use our used-to-be-tv-time for other things like projects, and reading, and exercising, and coming up with some extra-healthy* meal options to mix into our weekly plan.

what's your lent-plan?

*as a part of this attempt to eat healthier, i am also giving up goldfish for lent. i eat way too many of those cheesy little fishes... cuz they're SO delicious!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

spraypaint runs in my blood.

on saturday morning, i woke up with a desire... no, a NEED to spraypaint something. lucky for me, and thanks to a combination of it being a beautiful sunny day and a spur-of-the-moment decision from a few weeks ago, i knew exactly what to paint and i already had the supplies i needed.

the what: our 90's gold hallway light fixture.

the what color: Rustoleum's Oil Rubbed Bronze.

i started by taking off the globe, taking out the lightbulb, and unscrewing the fixture from the ceiling. it wasn't until i had it dangling by its wires that i realized "oh crap! electricity and whatnot! abort! abort! abort!" and i headed to the basement to play with the breaker box. (note: always turn off your breaker BEFORE starting any kind of electrical work)

this blurry picture was my reference as to how to put the light back up later

after i flipped a breaker labeled "lights," i had to try and figure out a way to make sure that it was the correct breaker. i thought about using Mark's live-wire-voltage-tester-thingamajig, but i wasnt exactly sure how it worked, and i didnt want to break it, and he wasnt home at the time. (note: NEVER do electrical work if  you are the only one home) so i called him, and he suggested the genius idea of just putting the lightbulb back in the fixture and flipping the switch. duh.

once that was all taken care of and the fixture was down and i was NOT electrocuted, i prepped the fixture by stuffing part of a paper towel into the socket and taping over all the important stuff with blue painters tape. then after a few coats of paint, (i made sure all the screws still turned between each coat) a slight wind-related mishap, and one last coat of paint for touchups, our crappy fixture was looking brand-new and wonderful!

i taped over the important technical info sticker so we could read it later

once i had almost let the paint dry long enough (read: it was still tacky but i was too excited to wait any longer) i enlisted the hubs' help to reattach the wires to each other and the light to the ceiling. i tried to do it myself, but i required either more hands or more skills than i possessed. and while mark has the same number of hands as me, his skills are definitely more impressive than mine.

i'm in love. its such a little thing, but sometimes the little things can bring a big amount of joy, right? or is that just me that gets giddy-excited over stuff like this? either way, this light fixture is awesome and i am officially a fan of the ORB spraypaint.

so now the only thing that our hallway needs to be "finished" is something for the big blank wall. what do you suggest?

big art? stencil? frame gallery? should the frames be black or white? should the pictures in the frames be in color or black and white? how do you feel about colored mats? too much for a little hallway? i am open to suggestions, so hit me with 'em!

Monday, February 20, 2012

meal plan monday: feb 20.

i have so many things i want to share with you. but since none of them would give me a clear segue into my meals that i have planned for this week, i guess i'll just wait until tomorrow to start my  share-fest of all the things i did over the weekend. (which is NOT a long weekend for me, because my job hates the presidents. i stayed in bed an extra 45 minutes this morning in protest. and then i got up and rushed around like crazy so i could still make it to work on time.)

so here you have it: our segue-less plan for the week:

To Eat:
Monday: shrimp scampi with rice and a veggie. (we didnt eat it last week)
Tuesday: pasta with jar sauce and a side salad. (also  from last week)
Wednesday: chicken. with rice and a veggie?
Thursday: quesadillas and salsa.
Friday: fish. more rice and veggies?
Saturday: probably soup from a can. we're lazy on the weekends.
Sunday: eh, we'll figure something out.

To Do:
- finish my valentine's bench.
- work on quilt stuffs.
- prep kitchen for paint.

do these posts bore you? does anyone actually care what we're eating? sorry they're not more entertaining, but i mostly write these for my own sanity, to keep from losing my mind over dinnertime, and to have something to post on mondays. it works for me. i'll try and post something slightly more interesting tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2012

'explosive' chicken casserole.

for the first time in a few weeks, i tried a new recipe for dinner wednesday night. it was sent to me by a friend who i hadn't heard from in a while. she was a high school student in the youth group i volunteered with for a few years in college. (and if i can be totally honest she was one of my absolute favorites) thanks to facebook, we have kept in touch in the stalker-ish kind of way that only facebook allows, she read my blog and sent me a new, easy, and interesting recipe to try out.

i was intrigued by the concept of the adjective 'exploding' being used to describe any sort of edible meal, so this recipe gets double bonus points for coming with a great back-story that had me doubled-over in my cubicle at work laughing for a solid 5 minutes. and then i couldnt stop laughing. every time i almost calmed myself down, i just lost it and cracked up again. so of course i knew i had to share it.

'Explosive' Chicken Casserole

- 2 sleeves of Ritz crackers
- 1 can cream of chicken soup (or cream of mushroom)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 4 to 6 boneless chicken breasts, cooked
- 4 oz melted butter

*Preheat oven to 300 degrees

1. Crumble one sleeve of Ritz crackers in bottom of a casserole dish. Drizzle with half of the melted butter.
2. Mix soup, sour cream, broth, & chicken.
3. Pour over crackers.
4. Crumble remaining sleeve of crackers over chicken mixture. Drizzle with remaining butter.
5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot & bubbly.

*serves 6 (great reheated!)
*crumble crackers inside of sleeve
*chicken is cooked when metal fork comes out clean, but may be placed into casserole before so, as long as it is NOT pink.

"Here's why I've called it the 'explosive' chicken casserole. My BFF was teaching me how to cook and so I wanted to make a recipe that we didn't make together that would be amazing. So, I got this one off of a friend and got down to business. I made it completely without her help and put it in the oven. Meanwhile, we were getting ready for a business holiday party. Well, it was smelling fantastic and so i snuck a peek inside about ten minutes before it was to come out. Not even two minutes later we hear this odd crushing sound. I looked at my roommate and I looked at my bestie, and we all then looked at the oven. Here, I used a faulty glass dish that had been recalled that I did not know about and my wonderful dinner had exploded inside the oven. I cried, we ate cocoa puffs and I spent five hours cleaning broken glass and chicken casserole remains from the oven (after the party of course). Ha, I went out and bought a nonglass bakeware dish, just to be safe... "

this stuff was delicious. after his first bite, Mark declared that he was definitely getting seconds. the only deviations i made from the recipe were that i cut my chicken into cubes, and i dont think i baked it long enough. it was hot, but it was not bubbly when i took it out. (but at least it didnt explode... whew!)  if and when i try this recipe again, i will probably add more chicken, make sure i have more time to let it get good and bubbly, and maybe throw in some broccoli instead of serving it on the side.

oh, and this recipe even came with an extra bonus of a good idea of something to do with the leftover chicken stock:
Also, if you have extra chicken broth, you can make a really scrumptious tortellini & spinach soup for later that week. (Boil the broth, add the tortellini until cooked, take off of stove and throw in a handful of raw spinach; stir and enjoy!)
so i tried it for dinner last night. and it was good too! Mark was impressed that i made soup by doing more actual cooking than just opening a can of Progresso.

we have leftovers from both meals, which should make for some easy and tasty meals this weekend, which should hopefully mean we can make some progress on our numerous projects!

TGIF, ammirite? hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

heads up.

an email exchange that happened this morning around 10:15am:

Me: I have already eaten my breakfast bar. And my apple. And my last 4 almonds. It is too early in the day to start on my actual lunch. I didn’t bring any chocolate with me today. I am going to die of hunger today. just thought you should know, I figured it might be nice to have a heads up on big news like that.
Just know I have always loved you and now without me to hold you back you can go ahead and take that dream job out west.
But seriously, is it too early for lunch?

Hubs: I love you :-* just a heads up. I think I'm going to work late tonight. is that ok?

Me: Its cool. I'll be dead by then. either that or jazzercising.

Hubs: Hopefully jazzercising :-*

around 11:00 i broke down and ate the strawberries out of my lunch. i'm not dead yet. i really hope i make it to the end of the day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

our low-key valentines day.

im pretty certain that i have mentioned here before that i have not always been a huge valentine's day fan. as in i have been known to wear all black and be an outspoken advocate for singles-awareness-day. but for some reason, my attitude has been shifting over the past few years. it may or may not have something to do with having the kind of friends that helped me to understand that Valentine's day is about celebrating ALL the love in our lives, even if its not of the romantic variety. oh, and finding the love of my life, too. that was pretty cool.

so i kind of went a little overboard this year. well, overboard for ME that is, which means that our celebration would probably be considered low-key by anyone who considers the kind of romantic overkill found only in rom-coms to be normal or the standard by which all romantic gestures must be measured. but for us, it was pretty close to perfect.

we exchanged our gifts over the weekend. we didn't really plan to, but it just kind of happened. you see, i went a little crazy and decided that in addition to the meaningful little crafty things i was working on that i really loved and i knew would look really cute hung on the walls of our front room, i needed to also get the hubs something that he would actually really like. so i bought him a miter saw. i was really sneaky about buying it and i was going to make him wait until tuesday... aand then i just gave it to him. i didn't wrap it. i didnt sneak it into the house and set it up for him. i didnt send him on an elaborate scavenger hunt. i didnt even put a bow on it. it was just like "hey, i have this thing in the trunk of my car that you said you wanted and i cant come up with any sort of believable lie to keep you from buying one for yourself in the next 3 days. its really heavy so you're going to have to heft it into the house yourself. happy valentines day."

he does really like it. and he proved that by immediately building me this giant awesome bench.

and then he even put a coat of stain on it over the weekend. isn't it fantastic?!? it still needs another coat of stain and a few coats of polyurethane, and a cushion for the top, and some baskets for underneath, but i'm really excited about it and i cant wait until it can move upstairs for good.

so with all the big gift-giving all out of the way we were all set up for a relaxing tuesday evening. we made an uber-romantic grilled chicken salad for dinner, which was made uber-romantic by working on it together while chatting about our days at work and not getting in a fight over having to share our teeny-tiny kitchen.

i gave mark one of the two crafty gifts i had been working on, the one that was mostly finished. the only thing missing is the dry erase marker so we would actually be able to write our love notes. (this morning i just yelled down the hall, 'because you take out the trash! that's why i love you today!' so at least its not a complete waste without the marker) i'm still waiting on my free map of Maine to come in the mail so that i can finish my other project, but i'll be sure to share it when i get it done.

and do you see that rose? that right there is the first flower that mark has ever bought me that has not come wrapped in dirt. its simple and perfect and i hope i can keep it alive for at least a few days.

we spent the rest of our evening snuggled on the couch for a rom-com double feature of Friends with Benefits and Crazy Stupid Love, courtesy of our local redbox because we dont actually own any good rom-coms.

it was a perfectly low-key-but-still-super-special valentine's day, and a great way to celebrate our three-year dating anniversary. (a day early) hope you all had a wonderful day, too!

Monday, February 13, 2012

meal plan monday: feb 13.

this past week was kind of a break from this whole 'meal-planning' thing that i've been doing. i just could not wrap my head around planning anything ahead of time, or motivate myself to make anything that required real cooking. i didnt even make a real shopping list. the hubs finally decided on Tuesday that we no longer had enough real food in the house, so he made his own mental list and just shopped for the basics to get us through the week. he's great.

PS have i mentioned that Mark has been doing ALL of our grocery shopping this year? as in i have not done any grocery shopping since december? it's awesome. usually i make him a list, and he stops at the store on his way home on Monday night. but he has other things planned for tonight, so i'll probably have to be the one doing tonight's grocery run.

so i'm back this week, with a list of (admittedly simple) meals, one of which is new, all of which should be tasty, and some of which might (hopefully) be (not the exact opposite of) healthy(ish).

Monday: soup from a can.
Tuesday: uber romantic grilled chicken salad with fries.
Wednesday: 'Explosive' Chicken Casserole with a veggie.
Thursday: pasta with jar sauce and a side salad.
Friday: shrimp scampi with rice and a veggie.
Saturday: burgers and fries.
Sunday: breakfast for lunch.

i hope you all have a wonderful week!

Friday, February 10, 2012

project preview.

just a sneak peek of what i'm going to be keeping busy with this weekend:

hopefully i'll be ready when my sister brings her sewing machine to visit in a few weeks!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

cooking with men.

this post is brought to you by the man with whom i am blessed to share a kitchen.

Episode 2: Manly, Efficient Chocolate Milk 
(can making chocolate milk technically be called cooking?)

Prepwork: the key to this recipe is having a mostly-empty bottle of chocolate syrup. Mark prefers Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate variety. tips for emptying a bottle include but are not limited to: eating lots of ice cream sundaes, making chocolate milk the lame way (in a glass with a spoon), and just eating the syrup straight out of the container.

Step 1: remove cap from chocolate syrup container.

Step 2: add milk. amount may vary based on amount of syrup left in container.

Step 3: replace cap onto chocolate syrup container (this step is key)

Step 4: shake shake shake.

Step 5: (optional) get annoyed that wife makes you do everything twice in order to try and get a good picture. consider getting wife a new, nicer camera.

Step 6: allow container to 'rest' upside down for a minute or two ensure maximum syrup inclusion.

Step 7: enjoy!

Note: this method is manly because it is efficient. it is efficient because 1) it requires no extra dishes and B) it makes good use of every.last.drop. of chocolate syrup. and real men are efficient. obviously.

see the pilot episode here

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

because actually rear-ending him would not have ended well.

to the old man in the ugly green-gray volvo:

thank you so much for making yesterday's morning commute extra memorable.

you see, i have driven behind you on several mornings. we take allll the same back roads in the morning. in fact, i know your license plate number, and that you work right across the street from my office building. i know this all sounds kind of stalker-ish, but i promise you, i just have nothing better to do with my half-awake mind in the morning than take note of the few cars around me.

i know you in particular because i seem to get stuck behind you quite often. because you tend to drive a bit slower than i would prefer. when i have the absolute pleasure of meeting you on the roads, you tend to add several minutes onto my commute, which means that i have to endure several extra minutes before i can get to the office, with its deliciously free coffee. you see, i love my cup of free caffiene in the morning, and i don't always function well until i have it.

i guess you have noticed me too. my orange car isnt exactly inconspicuous. and i would just like to take a moment and thank you for acknowledging me yesterday morning. it really made my day.

because when you hit your brakes as i drove up behind you, just because you thought i was following you a little too closely because there wasn't a full three car lengths between us? that was super-cool. i can't think of anything i was hoping for more on my morning commute than almost getting into a car accident. and then when you raised a hand in frustration to your rearview mirror? that just poured on the awesomesauce. there's nothing i like more than getting blamed and punished for something i didn't do. you really know how to make a girl feel special.

and i really do hope that 'make a stranger cry on their way to work' was on your bucket list, because if so, i want you to know that you can just go ahead and cross that one off. unless it doesn't count because i had just heard a sad song on the radio. so if that is the case and you still need to make someone cry based solely on your actions without the aid of any outside circumstances, then i am so sorry that i was not able to help you this time. but please let me know if  you need any help with other things on your list like 'trip someone into traffic' or 'punch a woman in the ovaries' and especially ' administer cruel and unusual forms of torture.' that would be super-fun.

if in the future we are fortunate enough to commute to work together, i hope that i can make your day just as wonderful as you made mine yesterday. perhaps i might decide to drive 20 mph all the way to work, or cause you to veer off the road, or even manage to make you feel the need to call your mommy in tears. just to let you know that i do see you there, and i would really cherish having the opportunity to make your day.

with much sarcasm,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

not airing my dirty laundry.

i thought about taking a picture of my stacked-sky-high-and-overflowing laundry hamper this weekend to share with you all, to really emphasize just how eggregious was my neglect of any and all household chores over the past few days. but then i carried it all downstairs on Sunday afternoon, sorted it, and started a load of towels instead. because its one thing to tell you all that i had a monster pile of laundry on my hands here, and quite another to take an actual picture of my dirty underwear and voluntarily post it on the interwebs for anyone and everyone to see. my oversharing does have its limits apparently. you're welcome.

but surprisingly, there is an actual reason for me to even be telling you about my dirty laundry, and it has to do with my new-ish personal determination to not take my life too seriously. i am trying really really hard to not let the little stuff, combined with the wierd funk that generally comes around this time of year, get to me and bring me down. so instead of stressing about unwashed dishes, our current standstill on house-related projects, and yes even dirty laundry this weekend, i decided to embrace (and kind of ignore) some of the crazyness that is my life right now.

we made spur-of-the-moment plans with some friends of ours for friday evening. the plans included stuffing ourselves silly with italian food and cake. and spending a couple hours proving what awesome bowlers we are...

...and then playing board games and just hanging out until the wee hours of the morning.

this was shortly before we doomed the game by making a complete loop

because we had stayed up so late the night before (seriously we are old fogeys who normally have a 10pm bedtime) we slept in until 11:30 on saturday. the only reason i got out of bed at all was that i had plans to meet a few of my neighbors and spend an afternoon with them being all crafty at a rubber-stamping card-making party. it was a lot of fun and i realized that there are some really neat people who live in my neighborhood and i should probably make more of an effort to meet them.

i got home just in time to turn around again to go back out to dinner to spend time stuffing our faces with more good food and cake with a new couple. well, Mark already knew half of the couple through work, but they were a new couple to me! and if i can just go ahead and speak for everyone, i would have to say that a great time was had by all! i hope we will be seeing more of M and B in the future.

on sunday afternoon all i wanted was a nap. but since Mark declared that there would be no naps because then we wouldn't be able to sleep at night, i spent my time gettin my craft on. i'm working on two projects for Mark for Valentine's day, and even though i'm not entirely sure that he'll really like them, i know i will! i finished one of them, and i would share it with you, but since i dubbed it a "secret project" i'll have to wait til after V-day to show it to you since he has been known to keep tabs on the blog.

and then there was that whole Super Bowl thing. after that first quarter safety, (ha! still makes me giggle) the rest was kind of meh in my opinion. i actually fell asleep for pretty much all of the 4th quarter. maybe if i would have had an afternoon nap, i could have stayed up for the whole game... but i did manage to open my eyes right at the end for the sweet sweet sight of Tom Brady's defeat at the hands of Eli Manning. again. it was kind of beautiful.

so all that to say "hey, i had a good weekend!"

how was yours?

Monday, February 6, 2012

meal plan monday: epic fail.

i'm starting to think that maybe i should switch up this whole meal-planning thing a little bit. because here it is, Monday afternoon, almost dinner time really, and all i have planned for this week is the leftover meals that we didnt make last week because we ate out all weekend. i'm thinking i have a few options as to where to go from here. 1. i give up on this whole meal planning thing. it requires way too much foresight and thinking and planning. 2. meal plan monday moves to tuesday (or any other day) so that i can use monday evenings to plan meals. 3. just buck up and stop being so lazy on the weekends and actually make a meal plan for the week before Monday morning rolls along.

i've got nothin this week. wait, is there anything less than nothing?

To Eat:
Monday: quesadillas. corn?
Tuesday: lasagna. salad.
Wednesday - Sunday: open to suggestions. really easy suggestions.

To Do:
use my new scissors to start cutting up tshirts for quilting.

it could be worse. right?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

meal plan monday: wednesday edition.

or: flash-boiling is not quite what it sounds like.
or: i peeled an acorn squash and lived to tell about it.

since i have been doing this weekly meal-planning thing, not only have mealtimes and grocery shopping gotten less stressful, (because since i have a plan i can just make a list and send the hubs shopping!) but several people have sent me recipes for new things to try. i love this. keep 'em coming.

my friend Dana sent me this recipe for squash stew, and it seemed like a winner. the ingredient list wasn't three miles long, i had heard of almost everything on the ingredient list, and it seemed like it would be a do-able crockpot meal. score! well, except for that i didn't read the part of the recipe that said that my tomatoes should be peeled, seeded, and diced, and i kind of forgot the part where she mentioned that she used canned tomatoes for hers, so yeah. easy cooking fail.

although, now i get to share with you the nifty little trick that my sister taught me: how to peel tomatoes.

1. gather your supplies. you will need some tomatoes, a knife, a pot of water, a long handled spoon, and a bowl of ice. and possibly an extra bowl to put your peels in, in case your garbage can has been commandeered for squash-peeling purposes.

2. score an X into each of your tomatoes. just deep enough to break the skin, but not so deep that you actually cut into the tomato.

3. boil your pot of water.

4. put your tomatoes into the water. i did mine one at a time so they could be completely submerged in my little pot. also, so that i could watch them more closely.

5. leave them in the water until you see the edges of your X begin to get loose. this will not take very long at all. a few seconds should do it.

6. scoop your tomato out of the water and into the bowl of ice. roll it around a little if  you want, to make sure the whole tomato gets cooled down. this keeps it from becoming a boiled tomato.

7. peel your tomato. this part is kind of fun and awesome. sorry i have no pictures of it - both my hands were busy being covered in tomato-y awesomesauce.

congratulations! you now know how to flash-boil and peel a tomato! now all thats left to do is to smoosh all the seeds out and cut your tomatoes into little bits. or, you know, just skip all that mess and use canned tomatoes like a sane person.

the other fun part of this recipe involved peeling and cutting up an acorn squash. the hubs got this started for me while i was busy flash-boiling. according to the commentors on the recipe, a helpful hint is to cut the squash in half and then microwave it for a few minutes to soften the squash and make it easier to cut and peel. this seemed reasonable, but we only nuked ours for one minute, because i knew it was going to be cooking for a long time in the crock pot and i didnt want to risk over-cooking it in the microwave first.

you'll want to nuke yours for more than one minute, if you value your fingers and/or sanity.

the hubs managed to peel a few sections of it, but quickly got frustrated so we traded jobs and he took over tomato-seed-smooshing and dicing while i took a stab a the squash. it smelled just like a pumpkin and was kind of reminiscent of my adventures in rutabaga-peeling in that when i finished i was mostly just happy to have retained all of my fingers.

other than those two time-consuming tasks, every other part of this recipe was super simple, and we were able to just throw all the parts into the crock-pot, which worked great for us since it could stay in the fridge overnight and then cook while we were at work the next day.

it looked delicious. it smelled delicious. it tasted... alright. we're not the biggest fans. but we ate it. for dinner Friday, and dinner Monday, and lunch Tuesday. i probably won't make it again any time soon, but i'm glad it tried it. if nothing else, it was a great adventure.

ok, ok. i know this is already pushing limits on being the longest post about boring things like stew that people are actually willing to read, but just a quick note about spices: USE LESS CINNAMON. the flavor was absolutely overpowering and the scent combination of pumpkin and cinnamon made it hard for my brain and tongue to register that this was not nearly as sweet as my nose would have it believe. also, the hubs is not a cinnamon fan in general. wierd, i know. (also, i used about half of the suggested chili powder. 2Tbsp is a lot!)(also also, this recipe makes A LOT and doesnt re-heat particularly well. i mean it still tastes the same, but it takes quite a dive in the looks department.)

so there you have it folks, another successfully meal-planned week. thats an entire month that i have stuck with this. amazing. so here's what we've got planned for this week:

Monday: leftover squash stew.
Tuesday: boboli. and maybe french fries. (cuz potatoes are totes vegetables)
Wednesday: crock-pot chicken parmesan.
Thursday: soup from a can.
Friday: shrimp/pasta alfredo with broccoli
Saturday: quesadillas and/or lasagna.
Sunday: superbowl gluttony goodness.