Monday, September 29, 2008

Talk To Me Tuesday--My Current Blog Crush

This week, Tip Junkie's Talk to me Tuesday asks the question, "Who is your current blogcrush?" I love all the blogs I read, but I must say, my newest *blogcrush* is on Kendra!

Kendra stopped by my blog and left a comment last time I was featured on Tip Junkie and I popped over to see hers and fell in bloggy love...

Why do I have a total momcrush on her? Take one look at her amazing blog, My Insanity, and you'll see! Not only does the woman look like a model, she makes amazing cakes, decorates her home like a pro, and has a gourmet group she belongs to! Waaaah, I want a gourmet group!

p.s. Kendra, if you are creeped out--blame it on Laurie (Tip Junkie)! She's the reason I am now your blogstalker!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Number Four

Two of my bloggy buddies, Wep and Heather, tagged me with this meme. I'm very slow with memes and awards, so don't be surprised if you tag me and it's been days and no response from me. I am just not a "deadline" sort of girl, m'kay?? I thought about adding some pictures to this post to make it lovely, but that would take me another few days.

4 things I did today:
1. Went to church--late--very, very late. But hey, I went! I love our church! If you are looking for a church that is not too formal, yet still very scripture-based, I urge you to visit Vineyard USA and see if there is a Vineyard Church in your community.
2. Booked a room for a resort in Wisconsin Dells next week! What could be more fun than an indoor waterpark in the fall? Although, I'm not looking forward to people's screams when my pasty-white thunder thighs enter the building...
3. Told my husband I thought he was the greatest for going over to mow the neighbor's lawn. The neighbor broke his leg two weeks ago and is still hopping around in a cast. Hubby had to mow our lawn today and decided to mow the neighbor's as well. What a sweet guy, huh?
4. Made an amazing cucumber salad for dinner. I can't take full credit--hubby suggested adding a few more ingredients other than just the cukes and onions. I cut large chunks of 2 cucumbers, 1 large tomato, 1 med onion, and 1/2 green pepper, poured a TON of pickling salt over it (1/3 cup), covered it with water and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. This crisps the cucumbers and takes the bite out of the onions (my Grammie Ella taught me this trick).
Dump out the salted water and lightly rinse the cucumbers and drain again. Then dump in 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup half & half, a 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar (I use splenda) and 4 ounces of feta cheese crumbles. Oh, how I loves me some feta cheese!!! Then add pepper to taste and mix. If it is too sharp from the vinegar, try adding a little more sugar, 1/4 teaspoon at a time. If it's too sweet, add more vinegar in tablespoon increments.

4 things on my to do list:
1. Make Tomato Preserves. The tomatoes in my CSA box were not very good, so I needed to do something with them. In fact, not much from my CSA was good this year. I will be finding a new farm next year. Preferably one that gives you vegetables instead of greens all year long. blech. By the way, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You pay up front to buy a share of a local farm and each week you get a box of vegetables (or greens and corn in my case). To find a CSA near you for next year, check Local Harvest
2. Puree and freeze the pumpkin I roasted last night and roast the pumpkin seeds. Yummmm!!
3. Begin packing for our trip! The midget and I get to travel with her Daddy this week! Hubby has a work trip in Southern IL, so that gets us half-way to Oklahoma City, where my brother and his family live. His midget is six months older than mine, so we're taking them to get their pictures done together! I'm so excited! Then after we spend Sat-Mon there, we are headed to the Wisconsin Dells area! WA-HOOO!
4. Start and finish a sewing project for my niece. Hopefully, I'll finish before we leave on Thursday so I can bring it with instead of mailing it later. I don't have high hopes for this...

4 of my guiltiest pleasures
1. True Blood on HBO. This is a terrible show filled with vampires and lots of s-e-x. I can't believe I like watching such garbage! Maybe the vampires have mesmerized me and that's why I like it. Yeah, that's the ticket! I'm pretty sure I might go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks for watching it.
2. Swedish Fish. These are, hands down, my favorite candy of all time! If I could only pick one kind of candy to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Swedish Fish!
3. Dancing at clubs. I love to shake my non-existent booty like a mad-woman! The year before I got pregnant, I spent a lot of time in clubs with work friends. Who cares if my belly jiggles and I look like a dork?? It's so fun, I could care less!! If only my husband loved to dance, he'd be the perfect man. But then everyone would want him and I'd have to spend all my time fighting off the adoring women instead of only half the time now.
4. Facebook. Let's just say I spend way too much time on there for my own good. But how fun is it reconnecting with old friends?

4 random facts about me
1. I was voted class clown in high school. Surprising, eh?
2. I drank coffee only occasionally until I got pregnant. Then it was a requirement every day. I had a hard time staying within my 8 oz of caffeine a day because I was SOOOO tired. Now I drink two cups a day. Two very,very large cups.
3. I still have the same email address I had when I first hopped on the internet twelve years ago. I don't plan on ever changing it. EVAH! In fact, I hate it when people switch emails frequently. It drives me bonkers trying to keep up with that!
4. I rarely get involved in anything that I'm not running in a few months. I guess I'm bossy, I'm the bi**h you all love to hate (bonus points for anyone that can name that artist).

4 bloggers I'm tagging
I'm tagging some new bloggy friends I've met recently!
Theresa R

Chicken Stock--The Lazy Way

Attention all Kmart shoppers!!

One of my favorite things in the world to cook is soup! I don't know quite why, but there's just something about giant pots of hot bubbly goodness that make my heart do little jumping jacks of joy!

Any of you who've made soup know that nearly every soup calls for a stock of some sort--mostly chicken, right? I used to buy big cans of Swanson Chicken Broth when I would make soup. Back in our poor days, I'd just throw in a few buillion to flavor the water in our cabbage soup (okay, we didn't eat cabbage soup like Charlie Bucket's family, but we were hurting for a while during my husband's radio days--p.s. never let your kids become radio disc jockeys--I'll explain why sometime). Then while I was working, I just bought boxed quarts of chicken stock.

I started making my own chicken stock once I quit my job. Three dollars a quart for the store-bought stuff when you need two quarts? Well, let's just say that's six times more than I make in a year now, m'kay??

These days, I make it regularly and freeze it in quart sized portions. A big pot usually makes three or more quarts, so it saves me quite a bit of money!

Here's my secret to making chicken stock the lazy way--rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. It's already cooked, so it saves you quite a bit of time and you can make a quick and easy meal with the meat. I usually make chicken salad, barbecue shredded chicken, or I cut the chicken off the bones and we eat it as is.

Now that I'm done blabbing, here's how it's done. Amounts aren't important in this recipe, with the exception of salt. I suggest you start with 1/2 teaspoon for 8 cups of water and then taste at the end and add more to taste. My pot makes approximately 12 cups (3 quarts) of stock and I use at least a teaspoon. Have I ever mentioned my love affair with salt?? I eat it on just about everything, including apples and melons!

In a large stockpot, place the chicken carcass, carrots (peelings work just the same), a quartered onion (you don't need to remove the paper, just cut off the ends), celery (the leafy part works well, so I usually just save those), a garlic clove (smash it a little before you throw it in), salt and pepper, and a bay leaf.

Fill the pot up with water, leaving a few inches at the top. Place your pot on the stove and turn it up to high. When the water comes to a boil, turn the stove down to low and leave it alone for a few hours. You can check on it and if needed, skim the top a few times if scum accumulates.

After two hours, taste it and and add salt and pepper if necessary. Let the stock cool for an hour and then strain through a fine strainer into a large bowl, discarding the solids left in the strainer. I freeze my stock in one quart containers so I can use one for small pots of soup and two for large pots.

It does take some time, but 95% of it is inactive cooking time. Trust me, the flavor is rich, the cost is low, and it tastes so much less salty than buillion. Your soups will thank you. Well, if soup spoke, it would thank you!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm Honored...

One of my favorite SITSa's, Wep of Wep's Ruminations, gave me a sweet award last week.

To translate the award from Portuguese to English, it means, "This blog invests and believes in proximity." Meaning, that blogging makes us 'close' by proxy.

I have really enjoyed making friends through blogging the last few months. I may even get to meet a few of my new bloggy friends in a few months!!

Remember I said I was stingy giving awards? I'm just picking one for this award also, even though it says to give it to eight bloggers. Well, that just ain't how I roll.

My award goes to, brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrb (that was a drumroll in case you couldn't tell) to Dr. Wifey! Wifey is funny, witty, honest, and a major Guitar Hero addict! I love reading your (ever-changing) blog!

Tip Junkie's Talk to me Tuesday

Today's TTMT topic on Tip Junkie is "Who or what inspired you to start blogging?" This is an easy one for me!

My sister-in-law was an occasional blogger, but really ramped up her blogging when she found out she was pregnant. She started a pregnancy blog and I was instantly hooked! I loved hearing about her experiences and when I found out I was pregnant six months later, I JUMPED to start my own.

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to dedicate a blog to things I love, other than my midget. Thus, Oikology 101 was born! I don't exactly remember what started my obsession with the blogs of people I've never met, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of it had to to with Tip Junkie!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Tough Decisions...


Seriously, I'm glad my husband made this decision for me. I asked him which he wanted me to wait to watch and he asked that I wait to watch Heroes (bastard haha).

Which one are you watching? If you're watching Dancing with the Stars, who do you think should be kicked off? My ESP tells me it will be Rocco DiSpirito. He wasn't good and was not memorable in the slightest.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pretty New Couch

We needed a new couch. The fabric on our old couch was splitting something terrible and it was beginning to slump in the middle. The loveseat was in okay condition, so we decided just to purchase a couch, as even that purchase was going to put a large strain on our budget.

Enter hubby's company and how much they appreciated hubby's ten years of employment--enough to give him a nice sized bonus!! So we decided to purchase what we really wanted in the first place--a sectional.

We found this gorgeous two piece sofa/chaise and wedge-shaped ottoman and we were smitten. Isn't it LOVELY!?!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

I made Ina Garten's Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars a few weeks ago for the Fisher-Price HouseParty. They are always a hit with both Adults and Kids. I've made them with Raspberry Jam and Strawberry Jam, but this time, I decided to go with the classic PBJ flavor--Grape Jelly. It was by far, my favorite jam/jelly out of all three. Be sure to cut these into small portions, as they are unbelievably rich!

Make Your Own Button for Your Blogger Blog!

A few weeks ago, I posted about my new button and promised I would give easy directions on how to make your own button, so here ya go!

1. Create your button picture: Begin with a picture or your logo, no larger than 150 pixels wide. Why 150 pixels? Most sidebars are only 200 pixels wide, so any larger and your button will be cut off on one or both sides. You'll probably want to include the title of your blog, as the point is to help increase your blog traffic, right? Most of the buttons I've seen have been squares--150 x 150--but my button didn't look right as a square, so a vertical rectangle it was! Tip Junkie's buttons are all horizontal rectangles. I created my button picture in Photoshop 7.0 (which I'm still plodding my way through).

2. Host your picture:Find a place to host your picture. I use Picasa for all my normal blog pictures, but I couldn't find direct links to my pictures on Picasa, so I used Photobucket. I made a new account for this blog and it was quick and simple. I uploaded my button to Photobucket and copied the direct link to the photobutton. Here is a screen shot of my photobucket album showing the direct link you'll need to copy.

3. Create HTML for your button: Copy the following code and replace yourblogURL with your blog's URL and yourimagedirectlinkURL with the direct link URL in Photobucket (the quotation marks are necessary).

4. Place the button in your sidebar: In your blog, choose Layout or Customize and in your sidebar, click Add a gadget and choose HTML/Javascript. In the title area, you can write whatever you'd like--Take a Button, Grab my Button, or don't use a title at all--whatever suits your fancy. Then in the HTML box, post your HTML from the previous step. Save it and preview your blog to make sure your button shows up on the sidebar and that the button takes you to your blog. Here is a screen shot of my button HTML

5. Create your text area for your button: Again, choose Layout or Customize and in your sidebar, click Add a gadget and choose HTML/Javascript. If you leave out the title, the text box will appear directly under your button. In the HTML box, paste the following code:

<textarea rows="4" cols="20">

Then paste in your HTML from step # 3 and close with


Click save. and now, drag this HTML box under your button HTML in page layout. View your blog and make sure the two appear together. Here is a screen shot of what my text area looked like in Blogger.

VOILA! You now have a button for others to post on their blog! Please let me know if you have any questions and also if you use the instructions to make a button!! Enjoy!!

p.s. It isn't 100% necessary, but I'd really, really appreciate your link back to me if you make your own button! THANKS!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Baby Jesus Cheeto

I'm sitting with the midget eating lunch and enjoying some Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos straight out of the bag. I was licking spicy cheesey goodness off my fingers when I spotted an odd shape inside the bag that looked like two little arms. I grabbed it out and couldn't believe it! I had found...

WOW! I am going to make a million bucks off this Cheetoh that looks like a tiny 8 lb. 6 oz. Baby Jesus! How much did that piece of toast with the Virgin Mary in it go for? Wasn't there a cornflake that looked like something? I need to research it tonight before I go to bed! People will flock to my house like Fatimah to see the BJC and pray for it's healing cheese-ness.


Ooops...Have I told you how much I love Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos? Oh well, at least I won't have to worry about being in trouble for exploiting the Baby Jesus!

Friday, September 5, 2008

My New Button!!

Okay, so you all know that I should be getting ready for not only the midget's first birthday party, but my Fisher-Price House Party is this weekend as well. So instead of cleaning and cooking, I was busy trying to figure out how to create a button. I've been working on it for about three hours, and I FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT! Holy CROW, I am so proud of myself!

Here's my gorgeous new button for you to put on your sidebar!!

I'd love to know if you put it on your blog, so leave me a comment if you do! After I get my house cleaned, I will put up a tutorial on how to make your own button!

Have you seen my post on how to create a favicon for blogger?

Low Sugar Pumpkin Butter

This is what I did with Ginormous Pumpkin Number One, or GPN1 for short. GPN2 and GPN3 will be dealt with early next week. Thank goodness they don't spoil quickly!

I found a recipe here that looked easy because it was all done in the crockpot. It worked out great, but here's some advice: start this early in the morning or right before you go to bed, like the recipe says. I couldn't get my proverbial "stuff" together to get it done in the morning and I knew I was going to be tired at night, so I started it at about 4 p.m. I had to turn off the crockpot, let it cool a bit, and complete the final steps the following day. I'm sure my refrigerator didn't like cranking out all the extra juice to cool down the crockpot! I'll notice it on my bill next month, I'm sure.

The directions for cooking the pumpkin before beginning the pumpkin butter appear here at my Day 6 guest post on After I scooped out the flesh, I pureed it with a hand blender.

This turned out AMAZING! My hubby said, and I quote, "It's like pumpkin pie FOR BREAKFAST." Trust me, you will want to use a spoon to put this on your toast, biscuit, or crumpet (I've never actually eaten a crumpet, but I imagine the pumpkin butter would be bloody smashing on it, and yes, I was British in a former life, so I'm sure I ate a lot of crumpets then).

I froze the remainder of my pumpkin butter because I do not have a pressure cooker. Canning pumpkin is not recommended unless you have a pressure cooker because pumpkin is a low-acid fruit.

Low Sugar Pumpkin Butter
modified from

6-7 quarts of pumpkin puree
2 T ground cinnamon
1 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground allspice
3 c sugar, divided
3 c Splenda, divided

With towels, cover the areas your crockpot will be near to avoid spatter. Fill the crockpot up with pumpkin puree, leaving two inches of room at the top. Add 2 c sugar, 2 c Splenda, and stir to combine. Set crockpot on Low heat and cover loosely with lid to vent and leave to cook for 6-9 hours or until puree has reduced volume by half. I'd suggest you leave it overnight. It is not necessary to stir.

Add remaining pumpkin, sugar, and Splenda. Stir to combine. Cook until it reaches desired consistency. If it is too thin, remove lid and leave to cook until desired thickness is reached.

Puree with hand blender until pumpkin butter is smooth. I froze my pumpkin butter in disposable plastic containers, like Gladware (because I don't expect it to be around for long), but any freezer-safe container will work. Enjoy!!

Guest Post at Little Window Shoppe

So for some odd reason, Emily from Little Window Shoppe, a tasteful and beautiful blog, asked me to do a guest post about my blueberry jam. I think maybe the marathon she just just ran dried out her brain and affected her judgment, but I'll take advantage of her just this once...

Little Window Shoppe
For those of you who haven't visited yet, you need to go see this site. It's like looking through a Pottery Barn catalogue! She has a blog, an area for DIY submissions, a "shoppetique," which sells adorable handmade items, an area where you can promote your sweet shoppes, and a place dedicated to window art.

I gave her full editing rights and she managed to de-trash my post and made me sound a little less crass! For those of you who are visiting me from LWS, I am occasionally (always) sarcastic and a bit odd, but you'll get used to it. Thanks for visiting!

Go see my post HERE!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

It's a Great Day for Detroit....

Detroit Mayor Kwame "thug" Kilpatrick has taken a plea deal, agreeing to 120 days of jail time. More here.

So, when are y'all coming to visit me?? I know you are dying to visit sunny Detroit, the murder capital, for your next family vacation (pun intended).

Good Riddance...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

Can you believe it? *gasp* I have gotten two awards! Actually three, because I just remembered Bar-b gave me one too. Okay, peeps, I swear I'm really thankful, just very forgetful!

First, this award bestowed upon me by Mommaof4wife2r:

I humbly accept this award and would like to dedicate it to the suffering carpet in my living room, without whom, I would never have time to sit on my fat a*% and put my thoughts on paper, er, the screen.

And Bar-b and Momma both gave me this award!!

Thank you, thank you and if you could see me right now, I am blowing kisses to the adoring crowds!

And these are the official blog award rules:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate up to 6 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you’ve nominated.

Here's my own rule--if you aren't into these awards, don't feel bad if you don't want to put it up! I will understand (after ten years of hating you for snubbing my bloggy love-haha--and of course, I'm kidding) and not be offended. And, I am going to be stingy handing these suckers out because I have high standards. " )

So, for the Brillante award, I would like to bestow this award upon my favorite conservative southern belle--Conservative Belle. This woman is the belle in my happy republican ball! I love that she isn't afraid to tell me off and challenge my thoughts, as all good conservatives should. Viv, you are brilliant!!

Now for the I *heart* your blog award...I have to say, hands down, that Deanna's Corner is one of my very mostest favoritest blogs out there! She was my very first bloggy friend and the one who introduced me to comment crack. I guess she's my blog "pusher!" I truly *heart* Deanna's blog and Deanna too!!

Crispy Kale

I think I've received a bunch of kale every week in my CSA box and I must say, it gets difficult to find ways to cook it after the eleventy-millionth time! Mommaof4wife2r, who blogs at A Thorn Among Roses agreed when she read my Asian Sauteed Kale recipe (oh noes, I forgot she gave me awards and I never posted about it), that it is hard to find ways to cook Kale.

My CSA newsletter had a recipe called Crispy Kale that looked intriguing. Kale getting crispy? It sounded a bit odd, so I thought I'd try it. But when I went to cook it, I realized I had thrown the newsletter away! Thankfully, I found this recipe when I googled crispy baked kale.

I promised Momma that I'd post the recipe if it was good, and you can probably guess that since there is a post, it was good! It was crispy and crumbly and the taste was unique. The midget had a little bit of trouble chewing this at first, but by the end of the meal, she was gobbling it down. I'd highly recommend you try this, as kale is PACKED with nutrition!

By the way, it is very easy to de-stem kale. I spent a bunch of time cutting out the stems before it dawned on me to just hold the stem in one hand and strip off the leaves with the other! Ziiiiip!

Crispy Baked Kale
measurements really aren't necessary for this recipe, but I will post them for you type A's who won't consider making a recipe without measurements

6-8 cups chopped fresh kale leaves
2 T olive oil
1 t apple cider vinegar
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack on the lowest setting in your oven. Spread kale out on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat and spread out on cookie sheet.

Bake in oven for 10 minutes and check. Mine was done in 10 minutes, but you may need to stir and return to the oven until Kale is crispy, another 5-10 minutes, based on the original recipe.

Getting Ready...

Have you missed me? Shoot, I didn't think so...

I've been getting ready for the midget's first birthday! I've invited quite a few people, and to save money, I'm doing a lot of the work myself. I'm making most of the food, I'm baking and decorating the cakes, and I'm doing all the cleaning. drats...I've decided to do it open house style because my house isn't big enough to accomodate even 1/4 of the guest list. So hopefully, not everyone will show up at once.

I found the perfect theme: Diva's First Birthday. To save money, the only thing I've purchased in the theme is a mylar baloon and cake plates. The remainder of the supplies will be hot pink and royal purple. I also ordered a yard of pink leopard print fabric to make a few things like a table runner and maybe a little high chair decoration.

I'll be doing the large cake as a large round, instead of a sheet. I'm still trying to decide whether to use marshmallow fondant or buttercream. I'll be sure to post a photo when I complete the cake. What are your opinions on a smash cake? I'm not sure I want to do one, considering it is an open house. On the other hand, at the last first bday party, everyone gathered in a huge semi-circle and ogled the wee one smashing at the cake. So tell me what your opinion is, because I could use some perspective!!

This weekend is the Fisher-Price Party, so I have lots of cleaning and snack-making to do before Sunday. My posts will probably be a bit spotty for the next two weeks, but I'm sure you'll live (dripping with sarcasm).