Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Need a Quick Present Idea??

These Hot/Cold Therapy Packs are quick and inexpensive!! I made three in less than 30 minutes for less than $2.00 each!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gingerbread Midge

Have I mentioned that Midget started preschool? She goes two days a week for two and a half hours and let me just tell you--we BOTH love it! She is really enjoying the constant stimulation and I am reeeeeeeeeeeeally enjoying not having to be the one stimulating her little brain for a few hours!! She is such a vivacious and curious little girl, but if she doesn't have something that is keeping her attention, she sure can be a naughty little terd.

In November, we purchased a new book from Scholastic through school--"The Gingerbread Man." In the middle of the month, she did a wishbone with her Daddy and her wish was for Gingerbread (so sweet). Midget's Auntie bought her a HUGE gingerbread man pan for Christmas last year, so after she won, I pulled out the pan and made the gingerbread recipe on the back of the book. She thought it was pretty neat that we decorated it like the gingerbread man in the book!

Her preschool had a Gingerbread House float in our town's Holiday Parade this year and all the kids were encouraged to dress as an elf or a gingerbread man. I knew right away that I could make a Gingerbread Girl costume pretty easily, but wasn't quite sure how to do it. I just made her lay down on a piece of 72" brown felt and traced around her with chalk. Then I put a GIANT bowl over where her head was and traced... that (so it would be cartoon-ish) and free handed the rest. I sewed the bow first all by itself, then sewed the details on the front piece of the costume, attached the bow to the front piece, and then sewed the front and back piece together--leaving the armpit area unsewn. If I'd had more time, I would have just measured out two 3-4 inch strips to sew under the arms and along the skirt area so there would be room for movement. I also ended up sewing a little dart under the chin so I could make sure the head stood up on its own.

It's a bit rough, but I learned some good lessons, like you need to leave room for the arms to move (imagine that) and don't cut the giant rick-rack because it frays like crazy.

It took about three hours from start to finish and the materials were less than ten dollars. I used one yard of 72" brown felt, two yards of white giant rick-rack, one sheet of hot pink felt, one sheet of yellow felt, and one sheet of light pink felt.

People at the parade loved it, but more importantly, Midget adored it! Can't you just see the excitement in her eyes??

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Here's a quick pic of Peanut rockin' a wifebeater. Isn't he just adorable?? I fall more and more in love with him everyday. He'll be THREE months old this weekend. Wow... I'm speechless. Okay, not really. Like that would EVER happen.

I'm normally a pretty adventurous cook, but when it comes to Turkey Day, I don't experiment much. I made that mistake once and the results were so disasterous I have blocked the details out completely. All I remember was the horrified look on my husband's face when he tasted the gravy and the silence that continued for the remainder of the meal. After the shock wore off and he was able to speak again, he asked if I could just do traditional Thanksgiving every year.

A large part of my husband's job is talking to farmers all over the country. A great perk is that he often comes home with large amounts of free fruits and vegetables. When he showed up with TEN pounds of cranberries a few weeks ago, I knew right away what I would use part of the cranberries for--Cranberry Sauce! And no, not the kind that goes sssllluuuurrrrrp when it comes out of the can and keeps the can shape, although I totally dig that stuff too.

When I posted to my blog a few years ago about fresh cranberries, I was surprised to see how many people hadn't made anything with fresh cranberries or even eaten anything made with fresh cranberries! We always had fresh cranberry sauce with our Thanksgiving dinners. But I grew up in Montana and everyone knows Montanans are weird...except me. I am blissfully normal. Yeah, that was a lie.

Once you see how fast and easy it is, you'll wonder why you've never made it before. But the real payoff will come when you taste it! Homemade Cranberry Sauce has a fresher and tangier taste and a MUCH better texture than that gelatinous cranberry goop from the can! Plus, when you make your own, you control the sugar. You can make it as sweet or as tart as you want!

Lots of people like to fancy up their cranberry sauce with oranges or pecans or crazy spices, but I am a purist. Well, not really, I just like cranberry sauce to taste like cranberries. I've made Cranberry Chutney before and that was AMAZING, but it just didn't have the zing and bite of plain old cranberry sauce.

There are three ingredients to make this folks! THREE!! How much easier can a recipe get? I'll tell you--not much!! Take a look at this stuff and tell me it doesn't look 100 times better than the canned stuff!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
12 oz (3 cups) fresh cranberries (most bags sold in the store are 12 oz--look for them in the produce section)
1/2 - 3/4 c sugar or sugar substitute (I used Splenda, but you could also use frozen grape juice concentrate)

Rinse and pick through your cranberries. Most bags are fairly clean, with just the occasional leaf or stem. Be sure to look for soft or mushy berries. Your cranberries should be firm and smooth, just like my abs. *snort* Set them aside.

In a pot with tall sides, bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Dump in the cranberries. Be sure to take a cool picture.

You'll begin to hear popping, but don't worry, your kids aren't stepping on the bubble wrap from their Christmas presents you ordered online and stashed in the closet. It's just the cranberries exploding as they cook. Stir occasionally and cook for 10 minutes or until the berries get to the point where a spoon pulled through leaves a line that doesn't fill itself in.

Turn off the heat and immediately add 1/2 cup of your sweetener.

Stir to combine and add more sweetener if you desire. Be careful tasting the sauce--it is HOT! Although, if you need me to tell you that, maybe you shouldn't be using a stove...

VOILA! You are done! Now you can chortle at all your city friends when they say they've never had fresh cranberries! If your friends tell you you've suddenly become snobby, you can blame it on me. Go ahead! I can take it!

This recipe will make approximately 1 pint. I doubled it and canned the remainder. Well, I actually quadrupled it because I did two double batches. Remember--I had ten pounds of those little suckers! I also made Cranberry Breakfast Bread, which is deeee-licious and you MUST make it! Unless you want to weigh less than 689,114,285 pounds like me. You could also try my Cranberry Salsa.

To can the sauce, process pint jars for 15 minutes and quarts for 20. For altitudes above 3,000 feet, process 20 for pints and 30 for quarts. Above 6,000 feet (Hello Rocky Mountain-ers--I was TOTALLY kidding about that Montana thing--sort of), 25 for pints and 35 for quarts.

Hubby, Midget, Peanut, the Wieners, my sexy pants with the extra elastic, and I will be heading to my Sister-in-law's house for Thanksgiving and several pints of cranberry sauce will be making the trip also. I don't expect any of it to return with us, except maybe on a shirt of mine...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Turkey Day Fun!

I'm finally starting to feel human again! Now that Peanut is on a schedule, I have a little bit of time every now and then. Midget is at such a fun age. She loves reading and doing crafts and is very into imaginative play. I've had fun the last few days looking for fun ideas for Thanksgiving.

When I saw this in Family Fun Magazine, I knew I had to do it. Theirs looks a little bit cuter, but it calls for stuffing and hand-stitching. I took the easy way out and didn't stuff it and machine-sewed it. I still think my finished set below is pretty cute and will be a fun way to teach about a few less common vegetables in play sets like turnips and acorn squash. It was super easy to do! I made it in about two hours.
Want to make your own? Templates for the cornucopia and veggies are available on Family Fun's website at the link above.

We took a quick food craft over to a friend's house this weekend. Midget was much more interested in eating the cookies and candy than making anything with it, but she finally took a few seconds off of her own gobbling to make a cute little gobbler. You'll need golden oreos, rolo candies, chocolate chips, and candy corn to make these. You may want to swap out a little bit of white frosting tinted red for the red decorator's gel that I used to avoid looking like your turkey's head was already cut off and reattached...

Thankfully, her little buddy let me take a picture of his turkey cookie when it was done, because Midge tossed hers in her mouth the second it was completed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Princess and the Peapod

I've been less than energetic lately, so when Halloween started getting closer and the creative juices weren't flowing, I decided to take the easy way out. Midget's Auntie sent her a gorgeous princess dress-up outfit for her birthday, so TA-DAAA--Princess! On a whim, I had purchased an infant Peapod costume for a dollar last year, so TA-DAAAAA--Peapod!

Someday, my energy and creativity shall return to me. I hope...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Midget!

Since Mister Peanut arrived only two weeks prior to Midget's birthday (and was actually due only a week before), we decided to have a very low-key celebration for her birthday. No guests, one present, and just a boxed cake mix. But you know me, I can't control my insanity, so I had to do at least one crazy thing!

Midget has been very into Yo Gabba Gabba lately, and since she had asked for a blue cake, I decided to make her a Toodee Cake. I figured I could freehand it simply on a round cake. It wasn't my finest piece of work, but it still turned out pretty cute. As you can see from her reaction, Midget thought it was pretty cool!

Here's a little eye candy of Mister Peanut. I can't believe how fast he's growing! I swear his little fingers fattened up during the day yesterday. He woke up with skinny fingers and went to bed with little chubby nubs!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welcome Peanut

Isn't he the cutest little Peanut you've ever seen??

I have to admit--boys are harder. Not just in the "peeing on Mommy is fun every time she opens my diaper" way, but also in the non-froofy non-flowery newborn picture ideas that aren't sports-related sort of way. I had the photo session all planned out for our second little girl that I was convinced we were having, but when little "Mister" Peanut entered the world, I was stumped! I decided to hop on to Etsy to try to get some inspiration. After lots of searching, I ran across what are called baby cocoons. PERFECT!! If I could find one I liked in a tan sort of color, it would look like Peanut was a little peanut!

I finally found the perfect one at Becky's Baby Crochet and decided to email her on Labor Day to see if it was going to be possible to get the cocoon in time for the appointment I'd already set up for Friday. She was quick to respond, was SUPER nice, and told me it would be no problem to get it to me on time, even with the holiday! To my photographer friends, you MUST go look at her adorable photography props!! I was more than pleased with my purchase and stunned at the amazing service she delivered!

Now, on to the birth story! I had a follow-up appointment with my OB on Friday morning, August 27th, to once again check my blood pressure and to see if I had progressed at all. I had been checking it at home and I knew they weren't going to like it, but I wasn't sure what my Doc would want to do. My OB practice is made up of seven doctors and you choose a primary, but you see all the other docs throughout your pregnancy because whoever is on call at the hospital when you deliver is who delivers your baby. I love all the doctors in the practice and the way it works is really nice, but you do get differing opinions from different doctors sometimes.

My bp was pretty high when the nurse took it and I went in to change and wait for my primary OB. When he checked, I hadn't made much progress from when I was discharged on Tuesday, but I asked him to strip my membranes and he agreed it would be good to try to move things along. He decided to set up my induction for a week later, my due date, just in case I didn't deliver before then. He left the room and I could hear him on the phone, calling the hospital to schedule the induction. He stopped right in the middle of his sentence and said, "Is this her blood pressure TODAY???" The nurse said yes and I heard him say, "Never mind," to the person he was speaking to on the phone. The door opened and he told me to go to the hospital because I needed to have the baby soon. It wasn't an emergency, but there was no sense it waiting until it became an emergency.

We took our time getting to the hospital, as I already know that induction is not usually a zip-a-dee-doo-dah super-fast process. Around 1 p.m., I asked the hubby to drop me off at the hospital and spend the day with Midget and take her to our neighbor's house around 7 p.m. and then I'd let him know what he needed to do once I had a better handle on what was going on.

They decided to use a Foley Bulb Catheter to help me dilate. I'd never heard of it, but they insert the catheter behind the cervix wall and then use saline to inflate it. When it has done its job, it simply comes out. They inflated it and hoped that it would get me to 4 cm in about nine hours. At the three hour mark, they checked and I was at my goal mark, all with relatively little pain. At one point, I even began to have regular contractions at about 5-6 minutes apart. I told my husband to stay at home, but to remain on standby.

Unfortunately, they didn't establish well, so the docs went back to the drawing board and decided that I needed to start pitocin. I'd heard such awful things about pitocin, so I was hoping to avoid it, but that wasn't going to be the case. At 11:30 p.m., they started the pitocin and I expected things to just happen instantly, but they didn't. I told hubby to catch some sleep and that I'd call him again when things looked like they were going to start moving along.

I was still sleeping quite well and they were increasing up the pitocin about every 30 minutes, but I wasn't really getting much further along. At 3 a.m., they decided to break my bag of waters and continue increasing the pitocin. About two hours later, things really started moving along. I called my husband and asked him to head down.

At about 5:30 a.m., I was at 6 cm and was finally beginning to have some fairly painful contractions, but they were manageable. An hour later, that all changed, when I began to have some weird kind of nerve pain that felt like FIRE shooting down the front of my right leg. I could handle the contractions, but the nerve pain was unbearable!! I tried every position and birthing prop in the known universe, but wasn't getting any relief. The doctor said most likely, the baby was somehow pushing on a nerve. Around 7:30, I asked for an epidural.

Thankfully, the anesthesiologist was in the next room and came over within a few minutes. They decided on an Intrathecal epidural (sort of a combination spinal tap/epidural), since I was already at 8 cm. It was unbelievable how fast it worked and how WELL it worked! Within seconds, the nerve pain was starting to fade. At this point, all I wanted to do was sleep, but the baby had other plans.

The doctor checked me right after the epidural and said, "WOW! You are fully dilated and ready to push!" I barely heard this between my snores, but I was glad the last two cm went in just a few minutes.

Less than thirty minutes later, they were all yelling out, "It's a boy!!" and my first response was, "Are you sure??" When they turned him around, sure enough, there were his little baby bits!!

Speaking of baby bits, Peanut was getting his first bath at the hospital when Midget walked in to meet him for the first time. She asked Daddy to pick her up and right away said, "LOOK!! He has a BIG pee-pee and I have a LITTLE pee-pee!" Silly girl!

Midget is completely enamored with her baby brother! She can't quit smooching on him and even three weeks later, asks to hold him at least 9 million times a day! She's relatively gentle and has only attempted to throw him once. She was holding him when her favorite tv show (Phineas and Ferb--yes, she's a strange 3 year old girl) ended and she was displeased so she literally started to "throw" a tantrum. Thankfully, we were sitting on the bed and I was right next to her, so Peanut was fine.

Peanut is doing really well. He is nursing like a champ and is the NOISIEST eater I've ever heard. The little porkpie has already gained over a pound from his birthweight and he's only three weeks old. He's a pretty good sleeper, usually going from 11:30-ish to 5:00-ish at night, so I don't feel like a total zombie. This kid is also a champion pooper! I can't believe how many diapers he goes through in a day. Every time I change him, he poops again thirty seconds later... *le sigh*

Thursday, September 9, 2010

IT'S A.....


8:06 a.m.
7 lbs. 9 oz.
19 3/4 in.

To say I was surprised was a HUGE understatement. I would have bet a million dollars I was having another girl! More pictures and birth story to come next week. I'm just a little slow at everything right now... Everyone's adjusting well and doing great!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait...

First, here's the belly at 38 weeks. It took a very patient photographer to capture this shot, as I was SO nervous to do a nekkid belly picture for the world to see. I'm super happy with this though!!

After 38 weeks of a blissfully normal pregnancy, last Friday at my regular OB check up, my blood pressure was a little on the high side, but low enough that they asked me to come back in a few days. Monday, it was high enough that they sent me straight to the hospital for monitoring. After it stayed high, they decided they wanted to admit me later that evening and start the induction process. AAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKKK!!! I was almost two full weeks overdue with Midget, so why on earth would I have everything ready to go two weeks BEFORE my due date???

They let me go home at about 2 p.m. and asked that I be back between 6 and 7 p.m. I scrambled to get everything together, as the only thing I had done previously was to set up the bassinette. No labor bag, no overnight bag, no bag packed for Midget, no plans for the Wieners, and worst of all--UNPAINTED TOENAILS!! " )

I rushed around and got everything together (minus the painted toenails, but I packed polish in my labor bag--hey a girl's gotta have priorities, right) and reported to the hospital at 7:05 p.m. because I can't ever be on time for anything. They checked me in and put in a prostaglandin tape to thin my cervix and I was to settle in overnight for some rest so they could start the pitocin at 9 a.m.

I had a pretty restful evening in the hospital and managed to sleep most of the night, except when they had to come in to readjust the fetal monitors each time I moved. In the morning, my blood pressure had normalized to the point that the doctor decided to send me home on modified bedrest. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT???

It is a good thing, as I was hoping to not be induced, but it's funny how I was happily enjoying these last few weeks of one Midget until I got it in my head that I had no choice but to be ready for two. Now, this baby can't come fast enough! I've served Peanut several eviction notices, but he or she is partying it up in my belly while I have to sit around and do almost nothing!!

On the plus side, the hubby is getting a crash course in being my domestic b*tch...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Garden Bounty

Wowee, have we been reaping a BIG harvest from our garden!! It just amazes me that we are getting SO much more food than we did last year! Three of our four zucchini and squash plants died this year, but we've had so many cucumbers that it hasn't bothered us much. Plus, I bought four HUGENORMOUS zucchinis at the farmers market for $2.00, which ended up providing us with TWELVE cups of shredded zucchini for the freezer.

Two items of note that I need to highlight--an entire basket of cherry tomatoes and a foot-long cucumber!!! AWESOME!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In the Home Stretch

It is simply amazing how FAST time has flown this pregnancy! I am now in the home stretch, getting bigger every day, and ready to meet the newest member of the family in a few weeks. I have the hugest list of things to do, but can't seem to get one thing done without another being added on... Just five weeks left to go!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Little "Helper"

Midget loves to help in the kitchen.  I can't say that she's always truly helpful, but she sure does have fun when she's there!  Here's a picture taken after making some cupcakes.  Her major contribution to the cupcakes was licking the batter off the beater.  Love those big blue eyes!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garden Update

Here's our garden one month apart. The first picture is missing a few plants, but it definitely illustrates what a month can do as far as growth is concerned. We did lose the first cucumber plants we planted to heavy rain, but the new plants have grown faster than anything else in the garden! We have two itty bitty bell peppers, two teensy little jalapenos, and two decent sized cherry tomatoes already!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Baby Shower Candy Buffet

Last month, I was asked to help with a baby shower and ended up being assigned the favors. I had a very strict $40 budget for 25 invitees but wanted to do something fun and fabulous! Candy Buffets are all the rage right now at weddings and I thought I could pull off a small one for less than the $40 I had allocated.

The first place I looked for jars was on Craigslist and found a TON (28 to be exact) of glass jars listed by one person for $15. They looked pretty good in the pictures and I knew I'd be able to use at least 4-5 of them and hopefully only buy one or two more at thrift stores if I needed to. When I picked them up, I quickly realized I wouldn't need any additional jars.

The Mother-to-be knew she was having a girl, so we decided to go with a pink and purple theme, but I also threw white in the mix for the buffet. I visited a few different candy stores to get ideas of the different kinds of candies that would coordinate, but be inexpensive, and provide visual interest.

Once I got the final count of guests, I set about determining how much candy I would need and chose the jars accordingly. I decided on purple wrapped dark chocolate kisses (on sale with a coupon--YAY), Good-N-Plenty candies, some make your own candy bracelets, and some white chocolate dipped pretzel rods sprinkled with pink and purple sugar (homemade by me). The candy total was just over $12, including little treat bags to wrap each pretzel individually!

I ran across the most darling Baby banner on Tricia Rennea's site, which I printed out on card stock. Then, I found a coordinating thank you card on her site, which I shrunk down and printed out on full sheet label paper I already had to attach to the clear treat bags ($2).

So for just shy of $30, this is what the guests were treated to at the shower!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chop Chop!!

Since everything seems to be getting bigger around here, I decided to make one thing smaller--my hair! My hair was pretty damamged from the initial bleaching process and had been breaking off for nearly a year, so I finally decided it was time to chop it off!

I think it's funny that people always assume that if you cut your hair when you're pregnant, it's because you think you won't have any time to fix it once the baby is born. Um, HELLO! This hair takes WAY longer to fix than pulling my all one length hair into a ponytail!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Let it GROW!!

We worked furiously last week to get things growing at our house. It's a little bit early to be planting in Michigan, as the last frost date has yet to come, but we wanted an early start this year. We got a late start on our garden last year, thanks to Burpee and their not-so-phenominal customer service. We placed our order in mid-January and it was supposed to be sent mid-May and after several phone calls where I was told not to worry, our plants didn't arrive until almost mid-June. Needless to say, we did not order from them again this year.

The garden looks so sparse right now, but it is full to the brim! We planted TWELVE tomato plants to keep up with Midget's tomato addiction, four bell peppers, four banana peppers, four jalapeno peppers, two four feet rows of bush style green beans, four cucumber plants, two zucchini squashes, and two straightneck squashes. I'll post pics of the garden next week, as I missed my opportunity to take pictures and now it's super crummy rainy outside.

Here's the non-vegetable portion of our planting.

I have a container on my deck for the herbs I utilize the most for cooking. The Sage from last year survived, so I added Rosemary, Thyme, and Oregano.

I planted seeds in a deck railing planter of half Flat-leaf Parsley and half Cilantro.

Here's what I'm most excited about!! My Mother's Day present of a Perennial Herb Garden! We started with Lemon Balm, Bee Balm (a.k.a. Bergamot), Lavendar, Tarragon, Chives, Peppermint, Spearmint, and Chocolate Mint. We also added in a few Pansies for color and because the flowers are edible and look beautiful sugared on cakes and cupcakes.

Midget loves being outside and had a ton of fun with her little garden tools moving soil from one place to another. I love it when something so simple can keep her occupied for HOURS! " )

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Baby Bump, er, Mountain

It's funny how I didn't feel big last pregnancy until I was less than a few weeks from the due date. This time, I feel HEEE-UGE already and I'm just past halfway there! I suppose the fact that I'm almost 60 pounds lighter has something to do with it.

Despite my feeling of general fat-arsedness, we've actually been gardening up a storm the last two days. We should be finished with our garden completely on Sunday, so look for pictures next week!

Also cultivating heartily is our little Peanut! We had our big ultrasound last week and here's a pic of Peanut's sweet little profile. We decided, once again, to not find out the gender. We didn't find out with Midget and it was so much fun! I honestly can't imagine knowing what to expect before the delivery!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Buggy for You Quiet Book

My friend's son turned two at the end of March. When I was showing his Mom the progress I'd made on the quiet book for my niece sometime in January, she remarked that she would LOVE having a book like that for Church. I knew that making a quiet book like the one for my niece was much too involved and difficult for me to pull off in a few months (especially considering my niece's took almost SIX months to finish). I started looking for patterns and found one that was perfect for a boy on It is made by CopyCrafts, was $7.95, and is called Buggy For You!

Here's the finished pages of the actual book I gave to my friend's son. I didn't take a picture of the back cover because there isn't anything on it and the firefly page is actually two little squares on the collage--the purple flap with stars and the firefly itself, which hides under the flap.

I'd highly recommend this and the other quiet book patterns available from CopyCrafts at the website above. It took me less than a week to get the entire book done and the instructions were clear and pretty easy. I think you could be a relatively inexperienced sewer and still be okay making this book. The most difficult part was doing the sewing required for all the letters on the cover. It took the longest, by far, of any page.

Midget was happy to help open the book and show her little buggy buddy his present. He really enjoyed the last page, which featured his picture! I got a call from my friend the very next day (Sunday) and she was THRILLED that he sat all through church without making a peep!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Finished Quiet Book

I FINALLY DID IT! I finished the quiet book I started back in October!! My brother called the same day I started my last post and confirmed that he and his family would be heading our way to visit. I finished the book the very last night they were here. How's that for procrastination??

I used two fat quarters and quilted the cover. I used extra wide double fold bias tape to bind the edges. All in all, I was pretty pleased with the book. I think the hardest part of all was just deciding what to do on each page inside of the book!

Here are the two previous updates I've posted on the quiet book.
Quiet Book
Quiet Book Update

Monday, March 29, 2010

HALLELUJAH! Cheddar Ale Soup!

I'm finally feeling better! I'm sure that one of these days, I'll get myself back into a regular schedule with blogging. I've been cooking again and doing a GREAT BIG craft project that I just finished this weekend and will post later this week.

If you've been hanging around here longer than a few months, you know I've been on a pretty successful weight loss journey (thanks to Weight Watchers) since November of 2008. Before I found out I was pregnant, I had lost 46 pounds. By the end of my first trimester, I lost another ten pounds--that's how gross I felt!! In some ways, it was quite exciting to see that number keep dropping, but also a bit horrifying. My doctor wasn't worried (and I still have at least another 20 pounds to lose in addition to whatever I gain once I deliver baby number two), so I tried not to be worried either.

I'm still trying to make good food choices a majority of the time, since I am determined not to wind up where I started. But I am allowing myself to indulge every once in a while and that's where this recipe comes in. It is UBER delicious, but not even close to a recipe I'd normally eat anything more than an itty bitty cup once a month! But for now, I shall eat a cup for lunch and a cup for dinner and maybe even a cup for breakfast. Uh, bleh, garp, urg. Nope. Still a little sensitive at times.

Now, without further ado...

Cheddar Ale Soup

1 tsp vegetable or extra light olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
4 carrots, chopped finely
4 celery ribs, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
16 oz pale ale, such as Bass or Sierra Nevada
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 quart (4 cups) half & half
6 cups sharp cheddar cheese (block cheese that you buy and shred yourself melts MUCH better than pre-shredded cheese—it’s totally worth the work)
1/4 cup flour
optional toppings: sliced green onions, crumbled bacon, popped popcorn, crackers, croutons, whatever!

Heat oil in skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add carrots, onions, celery, and a pinch of salt. Sweat the vegetables for 8 –10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove veggies and puree in a blender or food processor, if desired. I like a little bit of texture, so I just used an immersion blender once the veggies were added back into the soup.

Melt butter over medium-high heat in the same pan. Add flour and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the roux is a golden color. Slowly add the chicken stock and beer, wisking to combine. Add salt, cooked vegetables, and stir.

Shred cheese and toss with 1/4 cup flour. This helps the cheese melt properly.

Add half and half to pan, stirring constantly and heat until the mixture is hot, but DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, one handful at a time, stirring after each handful to incorporate.

Ta-daaaaa! Your delicious soup is ready to eat, but tastes even better reheated! Top with whatever your heart desires and enjoy!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quiet Book Update

I can't believe I'm still working on the Quiet Book for my niece, but I'm getting close to being finished. I finished the last three pages and have started quilting the cover. I really hope to be done within the next week or so. For the final pages, I made a hairstyling face and a Mr. Potato Head.