Friday, June 15, 2007


a boy!

Despite my intuition and even me calling the baby "her" during the ultrasound, after 3 tries to get the baby to "reveal" it's identity, I got the surprise news that this little one is, in fact, a boy. Everything looks fine and he looks healthy, all approximately 1 lb. of him.

And hey, what do you know, I've finally made it to 100 posts! Yippy!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Silly me. The last post was so long that I forgot to post recipes that I promised. I'm very much a pinch of this, dash of that kind of cook (except with a lot of baking recipes) so these are approximate amounts that you can adjust to your tastes.

Marinated Chicken Breast-I've used this basic recipe, adapted from someone else's recipe for about 11 years. It really keeps the chicken moist when grilling.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts-how many depends on how many people you're feeding. One set of breasts make 4 to 6 sandwiches depending on how thick the meat is as well as the tenderloin which I chop up and freeze for other meals.
Lemon juice - about 1/2-1 c. (enough when combined with the orange juice to mostly cover the meat)
Orange juice - about 1/4 c.
Garlic powder - 1-2 tsp.
Dried chopped onion- 1-2 Tbsp. (You can use fresh but dried absorb the flavors better and they're easier. )
Ginger - 1 tsp. (Either grated fresh or powdered work. Fresh gives a stronger flavor so keep that in mind.)
Honey - 1-2 Tbsp.

I usually put the cut up chicken in a plastic storage container, add the juice and about half the spices and honey, mix it up then add the rest of the spices and honey. Let this marinate in the fridge for at least a couple of hours but overnight is even better. Then remove from marinade and grill or bake.

My Hamburger mix

1 small onion
1 small potato
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt

Wash and peel the potato then grate it into a bowl using the small holes on the grater. Grate the onion into the bowl with the potato using the larger holes. Squeeze out as much of the water/onion juice as possible. (very important) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well for at least 1-2 minutes. This is easiest if you mix it with your hands, just don't forget to wash them well before and after you mix the meat. Let this sit for about an hour in the fridge. Shape and cook however you like.

My Brownies - This is a recipe that I've been adapting since I was 8 years old. It started out as a recipe on a box of baking chocolate that we had sitting around and I've perfected and simplified it since then. This only takes me about 6-8 min. to mix if I use the microwave to melt the margarine (Doing three cycles-15 sec., 10 sec. and 10 sec. keeps the margarine from popping and splattering all over the place. Don't worry if it's not completely melted. The residual heat from the bowl will help melt it as you mix in the cocoa). If I melt it on the stove top, it maybe takes a minute or two longer. I do all of my mixing by hand so you really don't need a mixer for this.

2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. margarine or butter (1/2 c.=1 stick)
3 heaping Tbsp. cocoa (Do not use Nestle's.-It has almost no flavor.)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl until they are well beaten (Should take less than a minute). Add the sugar 1/4-1/3 c. at a time, mixing between each addition. You can melt the margarine while you are beating in the sugar either in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl (a cereal bowl works just fine) or in a small saucepan over low heat on the stove. Add the vanilla to the egg mixture. Mix the cocoa into the melted margarine making sure to get most of the lumps out. Stir this into the egg mixture. Mix in 1/3 c. flour. Mix in 1/3 c. flour and the baking powder and then the final 1/3 flour. Pour into an 8 or 9-in. square baking pan. (You can also use a circular cake pan if that's what you've got.) Bake on 350 for 25-30 min. The length of baking time depends on how you like your brownies. Fudgy brownies will leave a little bit of moist (not wet) batter on a toothpick when inserted at around 25 min. If you like cakey brownies, let them cook longer until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle usually at around 30 min.

Saturday fun

Ok, I know I said I'd post the rest of my Memorial Day week on Tuesday but I ended up reading "The Circle of Quilters" instead. Quite enjoyable and I finished it in just over a day.

So, I left off heading to bed late on Thursday. Friday was a day to recover and pull things back together a bit. DH's aunt was moving and needed him to come move some things to storage for her and also pick up a sofa and loveseat set that she was giving us. DH had no luck finding a truck in the afternoon to move stuff and had given up until after dinner. Around 7, he finds a truck but the place is only open until 8 so he hurriedly called a friend and they set out for his aunt's house an hour away. When all was said and done, he didn't make it home until 2:30 a.m. Now normally this wouldn't have bothered me too much, after all, I got a free (except for truck rental) sofa, loveseat and even a dresser; however, I had been planning for over a month to spend the day out on Saturday going to a quilt show and just having a relaxing break. I usually try and take a few hours out for myself every month or two but because of different stuff coming up I hadn't been out by myself except for dr's appointments and a random trip or two the grocery store since Jan. I had found out a week or so before that there would be a big homeschoolers' used book sale that day as well which started an hour before the quilt show but was an hour away from home and from the show, but I'm not one to pass up on potential bargains, especially on expensive homeschooling books. To make things more challenging, S. woke up around 1 a.m. (around the time DH and friend dropped off the furniture VERY quietly) and simply won't fall back to sleep for nearly an hour and made sure I wasn't going to go back to sleep either by telling me every few minutes that she couldn't sleep. URGH! I finally gave up around 1:45 and went downstairs to read and wait for dh. After DH got home, he filled me in on what took so long (chatting with aunt, dinner with aunt, moving extra furniture given to our friend and the challenges of getting furniture moved out of a townhouse) we headed to bed around 2:45. Dh fell right to sleep, I wasn't so luck. Back downstairs to read for a little over an hour until I felt sleepy again. Now in order to get to the book sale when they opened, I would need to leave by 8 at the latest. It was 4:30 when I crawled back into bed only to find R. stretched across the top of the bed. I was so tired and frustrated by then because I knew the lack of sleep was going to cut into the enjoyment of my day off (and probably a dose of pregnancy hormones had something to do with it), I just sat there and cried for a bit. After a couple of minutes, I calmed down, moved R. over and promptly fell asleep. Amazingly, woke up at 7. Plenty of time to get ready and go, right? Not quite. While I was eating breakfast, R. woke up. I knew DH needed more sleep and I needed to go to the grocery store AGAIN since the kids had finished all of the milk, so I got the two of us dressed, and headed out. By the time I got back and gave R. some breakfast it was almost 8:30. It took two tries to get DH up and then I was out the door, grouchy and running well behind my schedule.

Fortunately, I found the location of the sale pretty easily and found some great bargains. I ended up getting a whole bunch of books for just over $29, where just one set that I bought would have run about $30 used elsewhere (if I could find them). On the way out, they had two tables of books piled up with free books which I also helped myself to. If I had bought all of the books elsewhere, even used I probably would have spent over $100 for them so it was definitely worth the extra gas and time to get there.

I ended up not getting back on the road until 11:30 and with traffic it was way to close to 1. I considered stopping for lunch before the show but had brought a little leftover pizza which I ate en route. (I know, I know. Shame on me for eating while driving! But, hey, it helped keep me awake.) I was in such a rush to leave that I forgot to grab the camera, but fortunately, Amy at Calico Cat also went and remembered her camera. She has lots of great pictures from the show on her site. I really loved the one she labeled "Lattices" as well as the bargello quilt that looks like twisted ribbon.

I checked out all of the vendors first just in case I got tired before I had a chance to get around to everything. There were over 70 vendors and more than 500 quilts on display so there was plenty to look at. I bought some fat quarters as well as some 1/2 yard cuts and ended up spending just over $50 but I could have done much worse in the spending department. I restrained myself since I don't seem to have much time to use up what I already have so I didn't want to add too much to the stash right now. I still haven't had a chance to take any pictures yet but hopefully this weekend I'll share my goodies.

This is the first time I've ever been to a quilt show and I loved every minute of it. It was also only the second time I've had the chance to see other quilters work up close and I'm so glad I did. Many of the quilts that I really enjoyed looking at were not "perfect" when viewed up close which didn't diminish from their beauty one little bit. It did, however, make me feel much more confident about my abilities. DH asked me how I felt my quilts compared and I can honestly say that I wouldn't feel bad about putting them on display with some of my favorites from the show. It's so helpful to see other people's work "up close and personal".

Now, I had looked for representatives from the two LQS at the show but neither place had a booth so I just had to stop by one of them on Sunday to see what they had to offer. I was also looking for the 4 patch posie pattern that Judy made but I only found it at one vendor at the show and they were changing $2 more than I'd seen it on-line. Now I had R. with me and he has made quite a few trips to fabric stores with me lately and the funny thing is, he just loves the fabric and asks (just like his big sisters) for "favric" of his own. Not only that but the last two times I let him chose, he always goes for polka dot prints. Even at 2, he knows exactly what he wants.

All in all, it was a busy week but an enjoyable one. I took a little time to rest after it and now we are back to homeschooling. This way I'll have plenty of wiggle room time-wise once the baby comes. One of the many benefits of homeschooling-we set the schedule and can work around events in our lives!

I've also decided to go ahead and find out the sex of the baby tomorrow at the ultrasound. My instincts say that it's a girl and they've been right every time before now, but we'll know for sure by tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Getting caught up

Wow! The last week of May into June was incredibly busy around here and I'm just now feeling caught up and more relaxed.

On the Friday night before Labor, DH suggested that we have friends over for a picnic on Mon. I wasn't too thrilled with that idea since my sister and her family were coming on Wed. for a visit. (I had just done the weekly grocery shopping and thought I was done until the next weekend. Silly me!) But Saturday morning I gave in since I knew he really wanted to do it. In his thinking, it's just a bbq so no real work needed, just throw some burgers on the grill. No big deal, right? Saturday he made phone calls (3 families for sure) and went to the butchers. Saturday night, while he took the kids to the mosque, I stayed home and made potato salad, brownies and cookies and sliced half a jar of pickles. Sunday afternoon, I head back out to the stores with a shopping list for a bbq for 20 people. Sunday afternoon I marinated cut-up chicken breasts for sandwiches and prepped the ground beef. Sunday evening, dh invited 2 more families. It was only after the second call (after I pointed it out) that he realized just how many people that meant-30 (not including 2 babies)! I took a few deep breaths and kept going. I thought I might run short on buns but if I was careful with time, I might be able to run to the store Monday before the 2 p.m. start time. Monday morning, shucked the corn and put it on to cook first thing, made a cucumber, onion and tomato salad, cut up the tomatoes and lettuce for the sandwiches, added some chopped tomato to bagged salad (the only short cut) and shaped the burgers.

By 11-11:30, all of the food prep was done. Yippy! I figured I'd do a final clean up , set up the buffet table and have time to sit and relax a bit before everyone showed. How silly of me! Somehow that 2 1/2 hours got sucked away probably to the same place as all the lost socks go. I did manage to get a quick shower and had just started my afternoon prayers when the first two families arrived. The prayers only take about 10 minutes, so my timing wasn't THAT off.

Everyone had a great time. There was plenty of food for all with just enough left-over burgers and buns that I could set them aside for lunch with my sister and her family Wed. DH forgot to tell all the families to bring a change of clothes for the kids so that they could play on the slip-n-slide but no big deal. All of the kids are around the same ages/sizes as mine so we had extras for everyone that didn't get the heads up. (17 kids total-2 to "old" to play, 5 brought clothes) I had also bought a badminton/volleyball set which the kids set up. After lunch, the hubbies played soccer, moms chatted and the kids all played. It was a great day and I can definitely see doing it again, and that's coming from an introvert that usually stresses big time about having company. Although I did warn the moms that next time we do it, the house may not be quite so neat and tidy. I do have 4 kids after all. ;)

Tuesday I had time for a quick clean-up and another trip to the grocery store for my sister's two day visit. Went to bed at 9:30, got up at 3:30 to get last minute stuff ready. They called at 5:45 and arrived at 6, just before dh headed to work. M. and R. were up before they arrived and the girls woke up once everyone was inside. My bil and 2 of the three kids promptly hit the hay while my 16 yo niece and sister stayed up for a chat. Their plan was to have lunch with us then head to DC for late afternoon/evening sight seeing. It was nearly 3 p.m. before everyone was rested, fed and ready to hit the road. They ended up not getting back until midnight. I, of course, had stayed up to make sure they got back ok and then for idiotic reasons stay up for another hour after they were all asleep. Got up bright and early Thur., got everyone fed and fixed sandwiches for them to take with them while checking out the museums. Their plan was to be back before rush hour ~4 but since they didn't leave until after 11 they didn't make it back until after 6. They were planning to go to Williamsburg on Friday so decided that they would leave that night for the 2 hour trip to stay with a friend that lives near there. After dinner and birthday cake (nephew's B-day was the week before, my sister's and my b-days were within the next week and one of my nieces had about 6 weeks before her b-day), they packed up and finally hit the road after 10, only to call about 10 min. latter asking if we had seen nephew's cell phone anywhere. Found it, they came back and picked it up then really got back on the road. Got the kids' rooms back in order and got them to bed finally just after 11 and then I crashed big time!

This is quite long so I'll come back and post tomorrow the fun that was had Friday and Saturday as well has some recipes.