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Archive for May, 2011

1. In school, I studied french for two years. Hence, the title of this post.

2. Right now, I’m craving Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies so bad I can barely stand it.

3. I’m obsessed with Jersey Shore.  Sick and pathetic, I know.

4.Today I went to the zoo with my toddler and my husband.  It was super fun.

5. I could eat hot dogs everyday for the rest of my life.  They’re that good.

6. My husband and I have known each other since the fourth grade.

7. I have nightmares about gorillas and lions.  I’m kind of worried about tonight. (see number 4)

8. My favorite coffee drink is a skinny vanilla latte.

9. I’m a little OCD.  Actually, this blog was born out of a need for distraction from some of my obsessions.

10. I’ve eaten almost an entire jar of almond butter since Friday.

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My birthday is coming up in a few weeks and that means my husband will soon be asking me about gift ideas.  I’m not even sure why he bothers to ask because he doesn’t go out and get my gift on his own.  I’m not exactly sure what goes one between other couples when it comes to birthday gifts but I think that we are unconventional.  Usually, I just tell him what I want and then we end up going to the mall and buying it together.  Sometimes I will just go ahead and buy myself something and then tell people it was a birthday gift from him.   I think the main reason is that we are both really picky people.  Also, we might be a little lazy.

On Mother’s day, we were at the mall and I spotted a pair of Steve Madden sunglasses that I liked.  I bought them and then told him that it could be his gift to me.  He was totally fine with that.  Father’s day is coming up and I guarantee you that we will do something similar for his gift from us.  Would this make other people mad?  Is it hurtful to have a spouse that doesn’t put much thought into birthdays or gift giving?

I know that it does feel special to have a surprise gift because we have both unexpectedly given great gifts to each other in the past and we both loved it.  It makes me think we should really think about doing that some more.  One year, he gave me an iPod right after they came out. I was shocked because it was one of the good ones, with video and everything.  I had mentioned that I wanted one but totally didn’t expect it.  For his birthday last year, I got him a nice North Face jacket.  He was so happy because he like them but thought they were too expensive.

Now I feel really bad about this.  Maybe we need to care more.  Maybe we need to be more into accepting any gift rather than getting what we want.  Oh well. Until then, I know what I want for my upcoming birthday  – a Nook.

Reading has always been something that I loved to do. In fact, when I was an adolescent, my parents used to ground me from books! Crazy, Huh?   That just doesn’t seem right.  Honestly, it was the only thing that would work as a punishment for me.  Reading was basically all I did! I was a nerd, okay?

In grade school I was super into The Babysitter’s Club.  In high school, I started reading a lot of the classics.  In college, I read a lot of biographies and history books.   Now that I am an adult, I read a lot of  crime, mystery, memoirs, and non-fiction.  Anything good and interesting, I will read.

I only have a few concerns about this ereader.  One is that I am kind of a tight wad and buying books has always bugged me.  I’ve always been a library gal.  The problem is that my toddler is way too active to take to the library.  When I do take her, I am only there for her.   Borrowing ebooks is an option at libraries now so I’m hopeful that will offset the cost of buying books.  My other concern is just wondering if I will like it, although everyone I know has told me that I will love it and use it.

Stay tuned to see if the husband is listening to my requests.  If I have anything to do with it, he will be.

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I’ve told you before that I love to cook but I’m kind of lazy when it comes to making weeknight meals.   The last thing I want to do is make a huge dinner and then clean all of that up before having to bathe my toddler and get her ready for bed.  That’s why I really like recipes that require just a few ingredients and don’t mess up a lot of dishes.

The husband and I are trying to eat more protein and less carbs which means a lot of chicken.   About a week ago,  I wanted to make chicken strips for dinner but didn’t have any bread crumbs, which is what I would usually use to bread chicken tenders.  I dug through my cabinets to see what I had and the only thing I could find was plain Cheerio’s.  Target brand to be specific.  I decided that those would have to work.  What I came up with was the tastiest, crunchiest chicken tenders that I have ever made at home and it only takes about three ingredients to make – chicken, Cheerio’s and Cajun seasoning.  I’m not counting the oil, salt or pepper.

When it comes to making chicken, I prefer frying it. I know that it’s not the healthiest option, but I just can’t seem to make good chicken in the oven.  My baked chicken always ends up being super tough or not cooked all the way.   This fried chicken always turns out juicy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside.  My husband says that these are the best homemade chicken tenders he has ever tasted.  The cereal seems to add a lot of subtle flavor and texture that you don’t get when using bread crumbs or flour.

The first thing I did was put about 2 cups of the cereal in a large plastic freezer bag and then got my toddler to work smashing them.  I’ve since found, that a rolling-pin is the best way to do this, but you can pretty much use anything heavy.

Crush the cereal up pretty fine, until it is unrecognizable as Cheerio’s.   Then, add about 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning.  If you like things spicy, you can add more to taste.  Also, a pinch of salt and pepper wouldn’t hurt anything right about now.  Once you have your spices in there just shake the bag up a little bit to combine everything.  After that, pour the crumbs onto a plate or shallow dish.

Now it’s time for the chicken. I used frozen chicken breast tenders.  The first time I made this, I tried to take the chicken right out of the freezer and dip it into the crumbs.  The crumbs wouldn’t stick.  I ended up de-frosting them for a bit in the microwave.  They don’t have to be defrosted all the way through, just enough so that the outside of the tenders are wet looking.  That will make the crumbs stick.  Here’s what my tenders looked like before I de-frosted them.

See how they look frosty?  That’s not good.  They need to glisten in order for the crumbs to stick.

The next step is getting the crumbs on the chicken.  The first time I made this, I just dumped the chicken into the bag with the crumbs and shook it around.  That worked, but it was hard to get the tenders out without making a mess.  I’ve since found that it’s better to dip them one by one into the crumbs on the pie plate.

Pour your oil (I used olive oil) into a skillet and place on medium heat.  I usually put a little crumb of cereal in the oil and when it sizzles, I add the chicken to the pan.  Do this carefully so that oil doesn’t splash you. That hurts!  Fry the chicken until it’s cook through, turning once to get both sides browned nicely.

When the chicken is done, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate to cool it off.  Serve with dipping sauce or ketchup.

Tips

If you want to make it even crunchier, you can add another step.  Whisk one egg white up until frothy and then dip the chicken into the egg white before the cereal crumbs.  The chicken will have a thicker, crunchier coating. 

Adding a teaspoon or so of seasoned salt to the cereal crumbs will make it even spicier and more flavorful.

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Roach Killers by Thelonious Gonzo

This year we have decided to travel to Austin for our summer getaway.  My husband has never been there, and I have been telling him what an awesome city it is.  Since we had our daughter, the only trips we have taken have been to the big city of Dallas.  My husband loves going to Dallas and thinks it has great places to eat and shop.  He doesn’t think we can do anything in Austin that we couldn’t do in Dallas.  To me, Dallas is more of a concrete jungle.  When we go there, I feel like we spend a lot of time driving and getting in and out of our car.  I’m really excited for him to experience Austin’s cool and laid back vibe.

My sister lived in Austin when I was a teenager and during the summer I would go stay with her for weeks at a time.  I loved it.   She took me to Hamilton Pool and Mount Bonnel.   One of the best memories that I have of Austin is going to Horde Fest back in the 90’s.    Lenny Kravitz, Dave Matthew’s Band and Rusted Root.  My best friend and I had never been to an outdoor concert before and we had no idea what to expect.  We were sheltered, okay?  It was a super hot Texas day and we just about died of thirst but it was a blast.  We were so young and dumb.

I even enrolled at the community college there for my sophomore year but punked out and went back home for a stupid boy.  Not the one I married.   Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed in Austin. Probably would’ve married a Longhorn fan. Yuck.

To be honest, I am not a big traveler.  I’ve been to NYC, Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles and lots of other places, but I’ve become the biggest homebody ever!  My husband it getting really sick of it, but I love to stay in my little comfort zone and sleep in my own bed at night.   Plus, I’ve developed quite the fear of flying.  I’m sure that some of my travel phobia is really laziness.  It’s so much tougher to get motivated to go anywhere with a baby or small child.  I’m amazed at the families who take a bunch of kids to Disney World.   The thought of that totally overwhelms me at this point.

One of the things that I don’t enjoy about traveling with a small child is staying in a hotel room.  It’s such a hassle to park your car, check in,  and get your luggage to your room, all with a toddler.  I find it exhausting.  If we can find what we are looking for, we are going to use  homeaway to find a place to stay during our trip.  I think it will be so much better to be able to pull up into a driveway and go right into our rented guest house or cottage.  No elevators, no parking lots.  Oh, and how convenient would it be to rent something with a fenced in back yard for my girl to play in?

Something that I do enjoy about traveling is the food!  We would rather eat at a cheap, fun, and unique greasy spoon than a fancy shmancy restaurant.   When I was younger, my favorite place to eat in Austin was Chuy’s but now that Dallas has a few, it’s not as big of a priority to get there.  Some of our favorites types of food are tacos, burgers, and barbecue. Oh, and anything sweet!    I need to check Urbanspoon to see what is popular.  It’s always fun to find those hidden gems.  I saw a spot on cooking channel about G’Raj Mahal Cafe that really intrigued me.  Indian food is something that I am not super familiar with but the little bit that I have had was yummy.  I’m not sure if it would be a good place for a toddler, though.

I also need to make a list of things to do with a two-year old in Austin.  She is very active so any place where she can run her little legs and explore will be great.  We are thinking Zilker Park and Barton Springs.  Lots of the rentals we have looked at have been near that area.  Hopefully, we can find lots of kid friendly places to take her so she can burn off some of her energy.

The husband and I both love to shop so I”m sure we will be looking for lots of fun stores to visit.  I remember loving a used book store near downtown. That might be a good place to take my daughter. She loves to look at books.  We may even take a side trip to some outlet malls.  I don’t care for outlet malls but my husband thinks he gets good deals shopping them.   We definitely have to go to Ikea and get a cinnamon roll.  I’m obsessed with those suckers.  When we go to Dallas, I make my husband go there several times just so I can eat them more than once on my trip.

I’m really excited to see how Austin has grown and changed since I last visited. It’s been about ten years now and I know that there must be tons of new stuff to see, eat and buy.  If you have any tips please share!

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There’s a nightmare in my closet.  Really.

An organizer’s nightmare.

It’s actually scarier than a nightmare because it’s real.  It’s dark and damp.  It smells strange.

I’m sure that it has spiders.  And spider webs.

Once upon a time, it was not a nightmare.  It was a nicely organized space.  Clothes were hanging neatly, categorized by color.  Shoes were lined up.  There were no overflowing plastic bins.

A couple of things happened in my life, though.  And my closet has been neglected.

First, I quit my job so I had no reason to go in there to find something to wear everyday.  Nope,  now  I can I find my outfit du jour on the floor, next to the pile of dirty laundry.

Then, had a baby that has grown into a toddler.  Toys that she once played with have been dumped into this wasteland.

Two years ago I lost my mom to the dreaded c-word. Belongings of hers that I can’t bear to part with but have no useful purpose in the rest of my home have ended up in here.  Her yearbooks from high school.  Her diploma.  Papers and things that she kept for some reason.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away because obviously they meant something to her.

Whenever I am forced to go in here it makes me sad.   I need to find a home for this stuff.

This space is draining my energy.

I’m hoping that airing this out will get me motivated to do something about it.  Any ideas or tips on how to tackle it?

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Growing up in the 1980’s, it was pretty much a given that you were friends with the kids in your neighborhood.  During the summer, we went to each others houses and swam in each others pools.  It was a blast.  And I don’t remember my parents being concerned about where I was and who I was with.  There was a time or two when I wanted to spend the night with a friend and I wasn’t allowed.  Probably because my parents didn’t know the other kid’s parents at all.  Or maybe because they knew too much.  It was a small town.

This is something I have been wondering about a lot lately.  Even though we have lived in our house for over seven years, we have never formed a bond with any of our neighbors.  We do wave and say hello but we don’t  have cookouts or block parties or anything like that.

My little girl is two and a half years old now and I am terrified that any day now, my neighbor’s kids are going to knock on my door and ask her to come over and play.  My  main concern is with one particular family.  They have little kids that are very outgoing and will just come up to my front door and talk to me.  One even asked me one time “When are you going to have us over to play?”  Not shy at all.  What’s wrong with this?  Why wouldn’t I want my kid to have more friends?

First of all, I don’t really know these neighbors.   I have only talked to them a few times, but it’s more what I have seen that concerns me.  During the day, one parent watches the kids.   This parent lets them play in the street. Literally, play in the street.  Ride their tricycles in the street.  Leaves them outside and goes inside.  These kids are 5 and under.  And although we live in a relatively quiet neighborhood, the streets are pretty busy with lots of teens and younger, careless drivers.  I don’t ever let my child go in the street unless she is holding my hand and we are crossing it to get to another sidewalk.  I want that drilled into her head.  And I wouldn’t dream of letting her play in the front yard alone.

There are a few other families with kids similar in age to mine and I wonder what they think about the issue of neighborhood friendships.   I even ran into another neighbor with a toddler at a garage sale and mentioned that they should come play with us one day.  She seemed happy to get the invite.   Then, I started wondering about the rules of parent supervision on playdates.  When we get together with our play group from the play gym, it’s understood that both parents will be there supervising.  I would hope that the other moms in the neighborhood would feel that way, but from what I have seen, I can’t assume anything.

Does anyone else have this concern on their mind? How do you handle an awkward situation without letting someone know that you question their parenting decisions?

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Library Misadventures

Taking a two year old to the library is not for wimps.  I guess that makes me a huge wimp because every time that I attempt to take her, I leave there almost in tears, on the verge of a tantrum myself.  I had pretty high hopes for today’s library visit because the last time we went, she was well behaved. We went in, looked for board books for her, played with the puzzles and did the computer games for a little bit.  I was even able to pick out a few books for myself. I should have known it was a freak incident.

Today did not go nearly as well.  She bounced around the kids area like she was in a pinball machine.  As soon as I got her situated on the computer games, she was taking off for the puzzles. From the puzzles she fled for the big chairs in the adult area.  After about 20 minutes, I started to go into self-perservation mode.  My stomach was growling and my sugar was starting to crash.  Recipe for disaster.  As I guided her to the check out station to get our books, she figured out that we were leaving.  She went into full meltdown.   Screaming, crying, collapsing onto the floor.  My kid is loud, too.  Ear drum-busting loud.

I picked her up and tried to hold her.  She squirmed and did the limp body thing.  I was getting the look.  The “lady, do something about your kid” look.   I somehow managed to check out the books with one hand while holding all 33 pounds of her on my other hip.  We made it back to the car.  She was still screaming.

It’s my fault, I know.  I shouldn’t expect so much out of her.  Of course, she is going to be excited and want to explore the environment.  There are so many things for her to look at there.  It’s so fun.  Why would she want to leave after only 20 minutes?   I see other little kids who listen to their parents.  How do they make that happen? Someone tell me!

My kid is so advanced in many, many, ways but when it comes to paying attention to me and following directions, she has a lot to learn.  I think I have a lot to learn, too.

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