Friday, July 29, 2011

The Last One


Yeah, we were those middle schoolers whose parents dropped us off for the midnight release of the Harry Potter books at Barnes and Noble. And the only way that we made it through Geometry in the ninth grade was because we put those expensive graphing calculators to good use by using them to "text" (I'm not sure what else to call it) about what we were reading in Harry Potter.

In an extremely-corny-but-extremely-candid way, Harry Potter was what brought us together as inseparable besties.

And last night, after what feels like a bajillion years later of collecting our HP movie ticket stubs, we went to go see the last one together. I teared up in the movie, I'm not gunna' lie. I teared up because I forgot how darn good those books are. To be honest, I haven't picked one up in years. Between college, marriage, and motherhood, that piece of my childhood fell by the wayside.

It was nostalgic to be sitting there with one of my best friends. We had seen the first one together, and we were seeing the last one together. And in between those movies and years, we have been through just about everything together. The last scene in the movie has the best friends grown up, dropping their own children off at school. It was quite fitting that we are both mothers now.

If I can say anything about the Harry Potter books that I love most (other than, duh, everything) is that the books teach us that the most important things in life are love and people. Two things we were never designed to live without. Two things that force us to live outside of ourselves.

I can't wait to read these books to my children. Also (Are you paying attention, hon?), I can't wait for my hubbs to buy me the last movie on DVD so I can watch it like a bajillion times. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Photoshop


Among my dreams of being the editor of Southern Living, opening my own Cajun restaurant, starting my own catering business with my momma, writing the next great American novel, and becoming Poet Laureate of the United States of America, I have been getting very interested in photography and wanting to start up my own photography business. My husband bought me a Nikon D5000 for my 23rd birthday, and now the one missing link between me and my photography dreams (other than, of course, getting really good at taking pictures...lol) was the purchase of Photoshop. And the other day, the hubbs surprised me and bought Photoshop CS5 for me! We got it $1,500 off the original price because we are both students. Yippee!

Now to figure out this darn thing.....Have you ever used Photoshop before? Because I'm pretty sure it's the most complicated thing ever in the history of the universe. Seriously. I've made a promise to watch a video covering a different aspect of Photoshop every day until I am brave enough to actually open the darn thing with a real photograph and mess with it. Here's to hoping! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

So-Gal's Recipe: Peppermint Fudge Brownies

I know. It's the wrong time of year. I'll be making these again in December, because they were scrumptious! Fair warning: this is quite possibly the richest dessert I've ever made. If you're not crazy about rich desserts, then this one is probably not for you.


You will need:
  • 1/2 cup, plus 6 tablespoons, of butter
  • 4 squares of unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of peppermint extract
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. of whipping cream
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Melt 1/2 cup of butter and 2 chocolate squares over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
3. Add granulated sugar and next 3 ingredients to chocolate mixture. Stir until blended. Add 1/4 tsp. of peppermint extract.
4. Pour batter into a greased 9x9 pan. Bake at 350 for 22 minutes. Cool completely.
5. Melt 4 tbsp. of butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 1/4 tsp. of peppermint extract, powdered sugar, and whipping cream. Spread over brownies.
6. Melt 2 tbsp. of butter and 2 baking squares in a saucepan. Drizzle mixture over brownies. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

So-Gal's Recipe: Blueberry Cobbler


Don't you love cobblers when it's a million degrees outside? I do. They seem lighter than your average dessert, and they complement summer here in the South.

You will need:
  • 4 1/3 cups of blueberries
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of orange juice (no pulp)
  • 1 cup of salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. of baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • cinnamon
  • Vanilla Bean ice cream
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring gently. Pour into a greased 9x13 dish.
3. Beat butter in a mixer until creamy. Add sugar. Beat well.
4. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well.
5. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to mixture, and beat well.
6. Drop the batter by spoonfulls on top of the blueberry mixture.
7. Sprinkle with cinnamon. The more the merrier!
8. Bake for 35 minutes. Serve with ice cream!


Hilarious Mom Moment

I've mentioned before that whenever the big dude and I go grocery shopping, I always hand him something to keep him entertained while I push him around and get the groceries.

So I picked up a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese--you know, the kind in the blue and yellow cardboard box? He was loving it. He was shaking it, and it totally did its job of keeping him entertained.

I noticed that a few people were looking at me funny toward the end of our shopping expedition. But I didn't think anything of it. I'm a professional I-could-care-less-how-my-child-is-ticking-you-off-in-some-way mom. I really am. If we're being loud in a restaurant, deal with it people.

When we got to the checkout, I started pulling everything out of the cart. The last thing to be taken out was the box in my son's hands.

Gasp.

I went bug-eyed, turned red, and busted out laughing simultaneously.

My son had chewed a hole in the bottom of the macaroni box! We had been spilling macaroni all over Walmart! And his mouth was full of cardboard!

Ten points for the Mom of the Year! Not.

I could have died. I was so embarrassed--but equally cracked up. So there I was in line, scooping out cardboard from my son's mouth and wiping it on my jeans. Note to self: the next time you're grocery shopping, do not hand the little guy anything that comes in a cardboard box. :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summery Peach Sorbet


Although I wish I had come up with this recipe, I must credit Southern Living for this one. Oh my goodness, this is the lightest, sweetest, most refreshing sorbet! I sat out on the back deck last night, propped my feet up, and indulged. :)

You will need:
  • 5 peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. of lemon juice
1. Process all ingredients until smooth.
2. Freeze for 3 hours and serve!




Friday, July 15, 2011

New Ring

Since I lost my engagement ring in the sand (water?) at Gulf Shores, we have gone about looking for new wedding rings. I am pleased to announce that the search is over. TA-DA!


Scaredy Cat

I have never lived by myself. In college, I always had roommates, and then I got married right after college. Now that the hubbs has started his third year of medical school (did you just hear an angel chorus singing Hallelujah?), he has to take call some weekends and nights.

Last night was the first night that he was gone until late in the night. For starters, I really looked like this all day yesterday...
...because the little one is sick and is miserable, miserable, miserable. We're talking fussing 24/7. It doesn't matter if I'm holding him or if he's down on the floor. He is an upset mess. So, by the time that I got off the phone with the nurse at the after-hours clinic to find out that I didn't need to bring the toddler in immediately but rather in the morning, I put him to bed (that sounds so easy--it actually took three attempts and lots of screaming/wailing/gnashing of teeth).

After I cleaned up dinner and the house, I sat down to do some work. The house was so quiet. It was dark outside. The blinds were closed. And I was totally freaked out--like the kind of freaked out that you get when you're a twelve year old babysitting for the first time.

I finally made it to bed way earlier than usual. Just as I was drifting off, WHAP!

What was that?!

I sat up in bed and strained every nerve to listen. WHAP!

Oh. The dishwasher.

I realized, as I was drifting off to sleep (only to be oh so lovingly woken up an hour later to two awful kidney stones), that I needed to become less of a chicken. For goodness sake, my husband has to be gone for two months straight next year!!! It's time to be a big girl. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One More Reason to Cook

My sweet momma's birthday was a few days ago, so all the family got together. And, I had the privilege of cooking a big meal for everyone. As you know, cooking is one of my favorite things to do. So, I made garden bruschetta, hearts of palm salad, spicy salmon fillets with avocado mayonnaise, and a six-layer carrot cake.





And while I was cooking, the toddler made messes and my boys goofed off...



My mom had a wonderful birthday. She opened her presents, blew all fourteen (long story) candles out, and (what I was most nervous about) loooved her carrot cake! I was trying a new recipe, and I added a few extra ingredients that I thought would really add flavor, and I have to say....this is the newest secret family recipe! I mean knock-your-grandma-upside-the-head good. Oh. My. Gosh. I have loved carrot cake for my entire life. (At my second birthday, I screamed bloody murder at a girl for trying to get the first piece of my carrot cake.) So, it's a big deal that I can say that this is the best carrot cake recipe ever!

My gift to my mom was a bunch of stuff for pampering--pink slippers, bubble bath, bath salts, nail polish, etc. But, she's pampering herself by jetting off to the Italian Alps this weekend with my daddy to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. So, happy birthday and happy anniversary! :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cool


"Cool." It was one of my son's first words, and he used to use it in the context of, say, when his uncles showed him a frog or when a motorcycle would go speeding by. Now, it is reserved for one thing, and one thing only: The digger.

The digger is no longer the digger; it now goes only by "cool."

We got the big dude this digger for his first birthday, and he had been a little bit intimidated by its size up until a week ago. Now, he's obsessed with it, and I'm worried he's going to break his neck every second. Yes, I did walk into the playroom today and find him standing on the cool. Nearly had a heart attack.

He wants to ride it all the time, and push all the buttons, and move the digger claw up and down. He's in little boy heaven, and it is just about the cutest thing in the world (that, and the fact that now he makes car noises when he plays with his toy cars--be still my heart!).

Right when we walk in the door, he starts in with, "Cool! Cool! Cool! Cool!" When we are in the playroom, "Cool! Cool! Cool! Cool!" Over. And over. And over. You would think it was the only word the boy knew! :)

But you have to admit, he does look pretty cool on it. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

So-Gal's Recipe: Orange-Raspberry Sunrise


You will need:
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 2 cups of frozen raspberries
  • 5 cups of pulp-free orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. of sugar
1. Process honey, raspberries, lemon juice, sugar, and three cups of orange juice until well blended.
2. Pour mixture into a 9X13 dish.
3. Add two cups of orange juice.
4. Freeze for 3 hours, and enjoy!

Video: First Step!

Yesterday, my son took his first step! (And yes, I was in the office/playroom working when it happened, but the hubbs got it on video!) Soo exciting!

Video: The First Step

Saturday, July 9, 2011

So-Gal's Recipe: Easy Cheeseburger Pizza


You will need:
  • 1 lb. of lean ground beef
  • 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 tsp. of minced garlic
  • 12" pizza crust
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp. of chopped green onions
  • Salt
1. Brown beef in skillet. Drain.
2. Preheat oven to 450.
3. Grease a pizza pan, and place pre-baked crust inside.
4. Stir together diced tomatoes and minced garlic. Spread over crust.
5. Sprinkle ground beef, then green onions, then salt over the pizza. It should look something like this...


6. Sprinkle as much cheese as you want on there! I put about 6 oz. on the top.
7. Bake for 13 minutes.
8. Enjoy...


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Disappointed Gardener

(I would call myself the Grumpy Gardener, but if you read Southern Living, you know that name has already been claimed.)

I'm disappointed for two reasons. Actually, three. Scratch that, four.

First of all, something has been eating my zinnias. I don't know what the heck it is, and I don't know what the heck to do about it. So, while I was outside today with my son watching him play in this sweltering heat, I just started ripping them right out of the ground. That's right. More like the Ballistic Gardener. I flat-out gave up. To be honest, I don't know why I planted zinnias again this year. I really don't like them at all. Outside of planting them in flower boxes, I've never gotten them to look like this, for sure.


So now my flower beds have big pockets in them where my dying zinnias used to be, and the few that are left look awful. I just didn't have the heart to rip them all out.

Second, my perennials have not come up yet. Now, y'all, I'm taking that as a sign that they're not going to be coming up. I planted these back in February, and left    wide    open     spaces    for them to come up. And, nope. Nothing. So, wonderful, I have more empty places in my flower beds.

Third, my crepe myrtle in the backyard, which we planted last spring, has not bloomed. It doesn't look dead, but it does not have a single bloom. And it was so pretty last year! I mean, am I the only idiot that could kill a crepe myrtle? There's a reason that they're planted along roads--they're practically immortal! But, alas, I might be nicknaming this one D-E-A-D.

And finally, my hydrangea bush was starting to grow out of the shade and into the sun, which as all southerns know, zapped my beautiful hydrangea blooms until they were a pale, sickly yellow. I had to cut them off, and now I only have tiny blooms that are located in the shade. I guess that's what I get for not have one single tree on my property.

Thanks for putting up with the Disappointed Gardener. In happy gardening news, the rest of my flowers look beautiful and my other crepe myrtle (which I have nicknamed Leo the Late Bloomer--have you read the book?) is just now starting to bloom. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Video: What Sound Does the Monkey Make?

video

An Eye for An I

When I was in Minneapolis, Aunt Coco watched my son for a few hours while my husband went shooting.

At the airport, my sister said, "Hey, guess what I taught Tiny?"

"What?" I was busy and distracted and looking for my luggage.

"I taught him 'eye.'"

Oh did she ever. My son's latest obsession is poking my eyeballs out and shouting "EYE! EYE! EYE!"

It's gotten to the point that when my husband and I are talking, and one of us is holding the little man and says something like, "I am going to the grocery store later today," all of a sudden we're fending off a little finger that is jabbing us in the EYE! EYE! EYE!

Oh, the joys of parenting. I'm thinking of wearing an eye patch out of a deep-seated desire for self-preservation. What do you think, fashionable? ;) I'll post a video as soon as eye have time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Birthday Trip to the Twin Cities

I just got back yesterday from my surprise birthday trip to Minneapolis and St. Paul. I had a total blast with my precious mom, who had been keeping the destination a secret for what seemed like forever!

We left the morning after the toddler's first birthday. So, the night before we had some friends over and did the whole cake-messy house-craziness thing. (Speaking of cake, I burned his birthday cake and sobbed like a five year old--seriously like a five year old, I tell you! So much for acting like a grown up. Pathetic.) I didn't get to bed until 10:30 (which actually is early for me), and my alarm clock went off at 4 am! (What a way to celebrate my son's first birthday, with a 4 am wake-up call....yet another reminder of why I'm glad that we're waiting for bambino numero due.)

My first thought was: I'm about to find out where we're going! When my mom showed up at 5 to get me, she looked so fancy-schmancy-adorable that the first words out of my mouth were: "Are we going to the Hamptons!?"

She busted out laughing. "No!" We both were jumping up and down in the driveway in the pitch-black dark we were so excited. (We're kind of obsessed with taking trips together. We notoriously have way too much fun. Seriously. We should have an adult chaperone or something.)

Then, she handed me this book...


"Ahhhhh!" I screamed. "We're going to the Mall of America!!" The Mall of America had been one of my original guesses as to where this shopping spree birthday extravaganza might take place.

So, as soon as our second plane landed in Minneapolis, we hopped in the rental car and drove straight to the Mall of America...


I was jumping up and down in the seat like a little kid! And then, when we got inside, I pretty much just dragged my jaw along on the floor...





We ate lunch at Rainforest Cafe...


Then, after we shopped until we could shop no more, we drove to our hotel in downtown Minneapolis...



That evening, we walked to Masa for dinner. It was delish, delish, delish! So healthy and so filling! The restaurant is small enough to have an intimate feel, but not so small that you feel like you have to get all dressed up and talk in whispers. Our waiter was nice, and there were windows around the restaurant so that we could watch the people walking by. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone!


After dinner, my mom and I walked around downtown for a bit. I have to say that I am super-critical of cities outside of the South. You know me....next to the Bible, I've got my copy of Southern Living. I live and breathe the South. Hello, what's the url for my blog? Yeah. You get it. But still, in all honesty, these were the nicest and friendliest people I have ever encountered above the Mason-Dixon Line, truly. The city was also the cleanest city I've ever been in. It was so clean that it felt surreal. I cannot say enough positive things about Minneapolis. I would go back there in a heartbeat! Here are some pictures that I took that evening...




The next day, after even more shopping, we drove to St. Paul to see the Cathedral of St. Paul. We were both totally in awe. I've been in some incredible cathedrals and churches in England, Italy, and France, but this truly looked like it did not belong in a city in America. It was gorgeous. (And just so that you can understand the scale of this cathedral, the little dots on the bottom of the pictures are people!)








That evening, we walked to another nearby restaurant, Zelo. While the food was excellent, the service was not. (I'm no sommelier, but looking for wine tearing while testing a bottle of wine doesn't warrant the comment, "What? Is there something on your glass?") Anyway. I probably wouldn't go back there, but here is a picture of our food...


And us...


And then we went into this enormous Target that was close to the restaurant...




The next morning, we went to Hell's Kitchen for breakfast, because our tour book said it was "hands down" the best place to get breakfast. Well, we ordered yogurt and granola for breakfast, so I don't know about that, but I do know that it was really cool in a creepy-ish sort of way. The chandeliers had knives hanging down from them by threads! It was a unique restaurant, for sure!


We ended our trip with an attempt to blend in with the locals (yeah right--our southern accents stood out like Yankees at a crawfish boil) by visiting the Mill City Farmers Market. Okay, it was precious to the extreme. Like, I wanted to just sit around and eat local food and talk with those sweet people all day!








What a fabulous trip! The twin, crazy blondes had a great time in the Twin Cities! :)