Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Cheer!

I was trying to come up with some new ways to decorate for Christmas this year & decided to hang some ornaments from our kitchen light. I went to Dollar General & got some awesome deals on really nice ornaments, pine cones, a spoon rest for the stove & a really cute Santa cookie jar for the counter.

Seriously, check out a dollar-type store if you're looking for holiday items. Many things are priced higher than a dollar but still a heck of a lot more reasonable than you would spend in a "regular" store. There was a huge variety of gift bags, wrapping paper & bows too.

This is the trifle bowl I filled with pumpkins & gourdes to decorate for Halloween... at least it's put to good use since I don't often bake.

Nothing like a cozy, glowy house to come home to at the end of a long, stressful day!

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

So Much To Be Thankful For!

Even though this is Cameron's 2nd Thanksgiving, I kind of, sort of consider this his 1st since he is so much more aware, active & fun. This holiday season means more to me than any other before since I feel so blessed to be Cam's mom. Last year at this time I was far too overwhelmed to truly enjoy being a mom & now I am a whole lot more comfortable playing the role of Mom!

My little man is officially walking! I thank God each day that I have been blessed with a healthy baby & I don't take it for granted for one second. Sure, I have my moments where I'm overworked, overwhelmed, exhausted & just ready for Cam's bedtime so I can take a breather. Then before you know it, I'm missing him once he is actually asleep for the night.

Watching this guy grow & change on a daily basis is rather incredible! Cam is like a sponge right now & I'm amazed at the new tricks he's constantly pulling out from his sleeves. We've been tinkering with teaching Cam sign language since he was six months old & last week he did his first sign! Of course, it's "more" & has to do with his main passion... food/eating!

I'm thankful for my hubby & the amazing dad he is! Watching Mike & Cam together warms my heart!

And so what if my baby enjoys eating wood chips & sand & drools more than any kid on the earth! Who cares that you have to be careful when giving him food as he tries to smash as much in his mouth as he humanly can?!

I am thankful for my wonderful family & friends & all the happiness & love they bring to my life. Yes, my family is absolutely insane, but I wouldn't change a thing! I am thankful to have a warm, cozy home to come to & to never be without food on the table.

So much to be thankful for.

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Food, Food & More Food!

I love absolutely everything about Thanksgiving; the quality time spent with family, the cooking, the smells & the general warm, fuzzy feeling I have. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to host Thanksgiving when I was older & had my own house. Well, now that time is here & that's exactly what I've been doing the past 3 years & I'm loving it! But, there's no way I'm taking all the credit for our meal since I have lots of help from family!

Cheers, Mom! Here's to enjoying a wonderful holiday season with so many things to be thankful for!

Cranberry sauce simmering away the night before Thanksgiving. Thanks again for giving me the recipe, Lauren!

Gotta have some healthy food amongst the not-so-healthy food!

Plenty of apps to choose from! Lots made from Tastefully Simple & also deviled eggs from Melanie as well as my homemade hummus.

The bird is stuffed & ready to go!

And now it's ready to be enjoyed!

Thanks for carving the turkey, Dad! FYI, the turkey is on the left! Ha ha, gosh, I am just so darn funny!

Look, I'm like Fred Flinstone eating my brontosaurus leg!

Here is my Thanksgiving plate; 2 types of stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce & green bean casserole! YUM!

And here's the whole gang, sitting down to enjoy our meal!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Staying On Top Of Things

Last Christmas was a little "off" for me with Cameron being only 3 months old & having had goofy postpartum anxiety issues. So this year I have vowed to stay on top of presents & Christmas cards with no last minute scrambling. We're also heading to Chicago this Christmas, so I need to have things done even earlier than usual.

So, with staying true to my goals, I started working on some presents this weekend. Thanks to my dear friend, Lesli, I ordered some complimentary Christmas cards & a photo book from Shutterfly by using a code she gave me. I spent tons of time on Shutterfly ordering presents for the grandparents; I can't say what yet though just in case my mother-in-law happens to pop in on my blog. I ordered a total of 62 Christmas photo cards which are scheduled to arrive on the 4th of December, so I'll definitely be able to get them sent out in time. When we were at my parent's condo a week ago, my dad was nice enough to take a picture of the three of us with the sun setting over the Gulf. It was beautiful! And since I loathe the crowded stores, I plan on doing most of my shopping online from the comfort of my couch!

I absolutely, positively ADORE this time of year & am so excited for the holiday season, but I honestly cannot believe it's already here!

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New Signature!

Sometimes my personal e-mail account can get a bit flooded since I spend the majority of time during the week at work where that account is blocked. So just last night I saw an unopened e-mail from my wonderful friend, Lauren & saw that she had created a signature for me!!

Thank you so much, Lauren, I absolutely love it! You're the best!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's For Dinner?

If you love the taste of Indian food & want to try something that's easy to make but very different from a typical home meal, give this recipe a try! As soon as I watched this episode of the Rachael Ray Show, I knew I wanted to make the Peanut-Curry Chicken & Rice.

It made plenty for the two of us for dinner yesterday, leftovers tonight & at least one more portion for Mike to take to work. We made it with Basmati rice which is what we have at Indian restaurants. Seriously, this meal is delish!

Peanut-Curry Chicken and Rice

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend Getaway

We spent this entire past weekend at my parent's beach condo & it was just what I needed to mentally regroup! The weather could not have been more beautiful & it was wonderful to have such a relaxing time with Mike & Cameron. Since I'm never able to fully relax at home with seeing each little thing that needs to be done around me, I was able to really kick back this weekend & destress.

Stack of magazines, warm sunshine & the sound of the waves reaching the shore... reminds me that life is good!

Nothing like kicking your toes in the warm sand!

Appreciating every second I have with my little love.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What's For Dinner?

Do you have a slew of random leftovers in your fridge that you're not sure what to do with? Wondering what you're going to make for dinner tonight? Well, I think that a frittata is the perfect meal to feed your family while also clearing up some room in your fridge! I kid you not, you can seriously put whatever you want into this egg creation & it will taste good (well, anything that you would have in your fridge in the first place).

Our frittata tonight consisted of half of a green pepper I had leftover which I chopped & roasted with a potato that was coming close to growing eyes & reaching the end of it's life & some grated garlic, salt & pepper. Then I chopped some leftover samosas from the Indian dinner we enjoyed with our friends on Sunday afternoon & mixed them in with beaten eggs & milk & threw in some cubes of cheese. When the green pepper/potato concoction came out of the oven, I tossed that into the egg mixture, poured it into a pan I had heating on the stove & let the frittata cook through on the bottom until it was time to finish it under the broiler of the oven until it was golden brown.

So, I challenge you to take a look around your kitchen, resist the urge to run to the grocery store for any additional ingredients & get creative while using what you already have on hand!

How do I manage to get dinner on the table with a one-year old in the house? Baby Einstein! It holds Cam's attention for a solid 15 minutes & lets me zip around the kitchen, getting stuff done.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Hubby & Me

My hubby, my hubby, my hubby & me! (Remember that doll/commercial for the My Buddy & Kid Sister dolls??)

My co-worker, Shital, invited us over to her friend's house to watch the game Sunday; they just so happen to be huge Bears fans as well. It was a great time with some good food, folks & fun with some delicious Indian food... yum!

Columbia Restaurant

When I posted this blog about the Columbia Restaurant 1905 Salad, I never would have expected to get a comment from the marketing manager saying that the President of Columbia Restaurant, Richard Gonzmart, had read my blog & wanted to invite us to dinner with their compliments. I was absolutely thrilled & honored & immediately wrote back & said that we would LOVE to finally have a chance to try the restaurant.

Mike & I eagerly headed to Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City on Saturday night sans baby, for a relaxing date night. Thank you, Matt & Kelly for watching Cam!! We had 6pm reservations & were seated front & center for the 7pm Flamenco show. I seriously felt like a celebrity since we were taken such good care of; we were just beyond honored to have been invited & treated so well.

We started with a pitcher of the Sangria de Cava which was a wonderfully refreshing champagne sangria & an appetizer of the Devil Crab croquettes. For our entrees, I had the Snapper "Alicante" which was PHENOMENAL! The dish was a taste explosion & so interesting with the mouth-watering gravy over the tender, flaky fish with sliced almonds & a garnish of fried shrimp & eggplant. Mike had the Paella "A la Valencia" which was also fantastic. We, of course, had to try the 1905 Salad which was as awesome as we imagined. As we watched the Flamenco show, we ended the night with a pitcher of red sangria.

Mike & I were so incredibly grateful to have been given such an amazing evening out with such wonderful food, drinks & ambiance. Thank you so much to Columbia Restaurant & Richard Gonzmart for your generosity; trust me when I say that we will not soon forget it! If you live in Florida & are looking for a unique place to have a date or family celebration, I highly recommend Columbia Restaurant!

Hello, champagne sangria! Come to Mama!

What's For Dinner?

That's the daily dreaded question Mike & I discuss each day via e-mail while we're at work. Don't get me wrong, I adore cooking & it's a complete stress reliever for me. However, at the end of a long day, the last thing I feel like doing is running to the grocery store for odd-ball ingredients, cooking & the dreaded post-dinner clean-up.

I recently started taping the Rachael Ray show again (thanks for reminding me, Lauren!) I used to tape it everyday but was forced to take a hiatus when I got pregnant & the sight of food made me run to the bathroom to vomit! Since I don't exactly have 45 minutes to watch the show each day, I end up fast-forwarding to the cooking segment at the end of the show for dinner ideas. As I watched a couple of weeks ago, Rachael was making risotto, an Italian rice dish, & asked the audience for a show of hands for who has made it before. When very few people raised their hands, Rachael made a point of saying that risotto was one of those foods that people are unnecessarily intimidated by. It also dawned on me that I've never made it for that very reason. Also, if you're a fan of Hell's Kitchen, you'll know that the risotto tends to get the chefs in quite a pickle when Chef Ramsey angrily slams a pan full of poorly cooked/seasoned risotto into the trash.

Well, I'm always up for something new, so I decided to make Rachael's "Tastes-Like-Spaghetti, Mini-Meatball Risotto" & it was absolutely delicious. The one challenging thing about risotto is the fact that you have to gradually add a heated liquid, constantly stir the rice, let it absorb & continue to add more until the rice is cooked through. It basically takes about 18-20 minutes from the moment you start adding the liquid to the rice. I guess there are different rice varieties that can be used, but I use Arborio rice which is readily available in any grocery store. Rice used to make risotto is much starchier than long-grain rice which is what gives the dish such a creamy texture without adding any cream.

So, if you're looking for a tasty dinner idea & have never made risotto before, give it a try! Mike & Cameron absolutely loved this dish & I'm sure you & your family will too!

I didn't get a picture of the Tastes-Like-Spaghetti risotto, but here's a picture of a pumpkin risotto I made the day after Halloween (I used chicken broth in place of the bouillon).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just Playing Around

We had such a ball this evening, hanging out & playing around with Cameron. This boy of mine keeps getting more & more active & adventurous; he's now trying to climb onto the couch & is very close to accomplishing his mission. Not looking forward to that since he has absolutely no fear & will just dive head first onto the ground if we happen to turn our heads. We've got to be on our toes at all times with this little man!

Below he was using my stomach as a trampoline!

Baby Jake is Here!

Our neighbors/friends, Nathan & Lisa had their baby boy, Jake on Saturday morning! That's right, Jake is a Halloween baby! Born 10/31/09 at 10:30a.m. Me & Lauren had to meet Jake so we went to the hospital & visited with the happy, new family today!