Monday, November 28, 2011

How I Stumbled Into a Brilliant Chili Idea...

Several weeks ago my in-laws were coming to visit so I made a big pot of chili to feed them. I used a new recipe (because I have never managed the "perfect" pot of home made chili and am still searching) that I found here. Knowing my MIL can't tolerate spicy, I cut the pepper and chili powder in half, but otherwise I mostly followed along and cooked it most of the afternoon in the crock pot. It was still too spicy for me, which meant my MIL wouldn't be able to walk past it in the kitchen. I decided to start over and made a quick, new, very mild pot of cheater-chili on the stove. It was tasty and we all enjoyed it. But I had this crock pot full of too-spicy chili waiting on my kitchen cabinet. What was I going to do with that???

I'd read a brilliant idea on Pinterest a week or two before regarding freezing soup in small portions using a muffin tin. I knew that a regular sized muffin tin would freeze about 1/4 cup of liquid in each muffin cup (that's how I freeze chicken stock/broth) so I decided to use the too-spicy chili to make chili starter for the winter! I let it cool then scooped it out into lightly oiled muffin tins, covered in plastic wrap then aluminum foil, and popped them in the chest freezer over night. The next day I popped them out, put them in a couple of freezer bags and threw them back in the freezer.

Today I really wanted a bowl of chili for lunch. It's cold and wet and nasty outside and I know we're having Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner, so chili was a no-brainer. But I also had to fix something quick for my toddler to eat and then get her down for a nap and my nap time to-do list is overflowing, so I was in a hurry. I grabbed one round of chili started, a couple of small cans of tomato sauce, half a pound of ground beef (already cooked and frozen in my freezer, I used half a one pound serving) and a small can of red beans. I threw all of that in a saucepan with a dash of beef bouillon and let it go while I fixed Kaycie's lunch, got her to eating, grated some cheese to go on top, and took care of a couple of kitchen cleaning items that needed to be done. After about 20 minutes of simmering I fixed myself a bowl and left the rest to keep simmering away to tasty goodness. Perfect.

I was concerned that one round of starter wouldn't be enough seasoning, but it was pretty spot on. If it hadn't been, I could have easily thrown another one in the pot to defrost or added a dash or two of whatever I felt was lacking. And if I was making more than a medium saucepan full, I'd definitely start with two or three. But since I'm the only one eating it, I figure it's just enough. I've already scarfed two bowls and there's enough for maybe half a bowl left. 

So, for the extra effort of opening three cans instead of one, I had a tasty home made chili instead of a tolerable bowl of canned chili that I probably wouldn't have eaten half of. Now, what else can I freeze in a muffin tin...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Holiday Top Ten List

Ten Things I Was Thankful For During Our Thanksgiving Travels

1. Having two excellent Thanksgiving meals, at two different places, both of which involved my in-laws and my parents because they like each other enough to invite each other over. That's awesome and I couldn't have requested a better family situation. Most people aren't that lucky.

2. Having a "hall pass" from Dr. T to cheat on my low sugar diet for Thanksgiving. I'm pretty sure she didn't realize that I define "Thanksgiving" as Wednesday night to Sunday morning, and if she doesn't ask for details I don't plan on enlightening her.

3. The lemon pie Kaycie (with help from my mom) made for me. Because it was sooooo good and I haven't had one in ages and thanks to #2, I could actually eat it. Unfortunately my mom sent the leftovers home with me and now I have to face it every time I open the fridge, knowing that my hall pass expired and I'm making weekly trips to the doc now so I really do need to be good. But I WANT IT. Maybe Wednesday after my appointment I can sneak another slice...

4. I slept until 9am three of the four mornings we were traveling. Could have easily slept late the fourth morning, but MicroTot was abusing me to the point that I figured getting up was easier than staying in bed.

5. Live-in child care. Grandparents are the best. thing. ever.

6. This:

Because that's just hysterical. My mom took the pic. I can't take credit, I was at Walmart when it happened, courtesy of #5.

7. The extreme discomfort I was in courtesy of MicroTot. No, it's not fun. And no, I don't enjoy being poked and pummeled and squished from the inside, or serious leg cramps or heartburn or waking up 14 times a night to go pee. But I know he's active and every time he pummels me I'm reassured that he's ok. Even though I'm sure it'll just get worse over the next six weeks, I'd rather be uncomfortable than not.

8. I read a book, cover to cover. Granted, it was the shortest of the three books I took with me, but I started it Wednesday night and finished it Saturday. I feel like I've accomplished something (courtesy of #5, again).

9. Having a video player in the van loaded with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Soooo much better than listening to Kaycie whine and fuss and cry and b pitiful for hours.

10. Having safe travels every step of the way.

Honorable Mention - coming home not only with edible leftovers, but with 5 gallon bags of poultry bones to cook up for stock. First batch of chicken bones is in the crock pot as we speak and should be ready to strain up for freezing tomorrow. I'm curious to see how many batches will be required to use up the bags of turkey bones from two big turkeys. AND I got a ham bone to use in ham and potato soup. I'm probably the only person you know who was stoked about bringing home a cooler half full of bones.

And for the record, I could make a list six times this long and still not cover everything. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mama, Kaycie Made Mess!

So Kaycie has started really trying to use sentences. Which is all good until the sentence is, "Mama, Kaycie made mess!" Especially when that sentence comes on the heel of her spending nearly an hour in the kitchen by herself being perfectly quiet...

Ok, a couple of disclaimers. Yes, the being in the kitchen by herself and quiet part is screaming a warning signal. BUT, and this is the second disclaimer, I did know what she was up to and made the decision that the 10 minutes it would take me to clean it up was worth the hour of peace I had while she was doing it. I even left the bowl of flour out on the counter on purpose. Sometimes a girl's just gotta make a mess.

This is the face that came to tell me she'd made a mess. Take a look at that shirt, which by the way isn't actually supposed to be white:

Here's what greeted me when I peeked around to the kitchen floor...

I'd also like to point out that when I left the kitchen, there was no flower on the blue cutting board. I had used it to cut up an onion, that was all. Kaycie was kind enough to demonstrate for the camera exactly how she made her mess:

I should also point out that as I type this she's sitting at the kitchen table with her dinner plate pulling bites off her biscuit and throwing one small piece on the floor to her left, watching the pup run after it, and as soon as he gets to it throwing the next small piece as far as she can to her right, then giggling as he runs back and forth. She has made a huge mess in the chair, although the pup has successfully cleaned up the floor. On the bright side, at least this one will be even easier to clean up.  I can just dump the crumbs in the chair out on the floor and let the pup clean that up too. I've gotten a little lazy on the back side of this pregnancy.

MicroTot's Nursery Pictures! (Updated)

I'm like 7 weeks away from giving birth. Holy smokes people. Where'd the time go???  As I recall, at six months I had Kaycie's nursery cleaned up, decorated, furniture in place, ready for my baby girl. With seven weeks to go, here's MicroTot's nursery:

 Yes, that's an elliptical machine in the front. We're doing the nursery in a gym theme. What's that you say? It's ok, he really only needs a place to sleep at first? Yeah. Here's his crib:

That's how I organized baby stuff from the storage stuff I moved out of Kaycie's room. The baby stuff (and now a lot of Kaycie's Christmas stuff) are stashed in the crib. Until it overflowed. To my credit, I took these pics yesterday right before I started tackling parts of the mess. I managed to clear a path to the closet and haul a van load of stuff to our storage unit. The elliptical is hopefully moving itself to my parents' house this weekend, if it'll fit in the van with all our junk while traveling for the holiday.  A chunk of what's left is clothes Kaycie has outgrown or toys that are currently "out of rotation." The clothes I need to pack up and take to storage, I have no idea what I'm going to do with the toys at this point. Guess I can't have everything planned out in my head to never actually get done...

And I'll give you a little teaser for things to come (hopefully before we go on interweb hiatus for the holiday - neither set of parents have decent access) - I do have birthday party pictures to share (there are a few new things on the photo blog, which also needs a couple of updates this week) and the story of today's exuberant announcement by my child - "Mama, Kaycie made mess!" Yes, I got pictures of the aftermath of that one, too. :) But first, I have to coerce her back into clothes (the previously mentioned "mess" required stripping her down) and let her outside for a few minutes before the crazy early dark arrives.

UPDATE: Ok, I actually went back and checked (thanks to having blogged about it!) and while I did have the nursery cleaned out for Kaycie by the end of July, I didn't finish decorating it until the end of September. That was 34 weeks. I'm 32 weeks today, so if I can get everything cleaned out, decide on some decoration, do some shopping, buy a chest of drawers, and get everything put together and decorated within two weeks, I'll still be on the same track. Right?

Coincidentally, I'm glad I looked that up because I mentioned in that post that I'd been having the BH contractions at night. I started having those with MicroTot last night, but Greg made the comment that it seemed like it was a lot earlier than last time. Not really. At most a week or two, since I didn't say exactly how long I'd been having them in the previous post. That makes me feel better. I met a little old lady in Walmart last week who proclaimed that I would have this one early since I'm carrying so low. While I'd be absolutely fine with December 30, for financial purposes, I'd be happier with waiting long enough to make sure he's a good sized healthy little dude!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I keep thinking I'll sit down and write one of the dozen posts on my mind lately but it just never seems to happen. I'm tired, people. Tired. And sick. Had my OB appointment today and the doc referred to my respiratory infection as "not quite pneumonia... yet." I've been some level of sick, along with everybody else in my household, for six solid weeks. And I'm tired.

On the bright side, I'd gained 4 pounds putting me at +8 after 6 1/2 months. For once I didn't get in trouble for anything at my appointment. Sugar was fine. Iron was fine (it was low last time). Weight was good. She even said she was fine with the total of 8lbs since she already knew I was capable of growing a good sized kid regardless. I was even in and out of the office in record time. They had me in a room checking the heartbeat five minutes before my appointment was scheduled to start. I was out the door 20 minutes later. That never happens.

Did I mention we had a whopping three tick or treaters and now there's a big bowl of chocolate at my house that I'm not allowed to eat and I WANT IT. I also want to drink a big vat of hot chocolate. And drown in the bag of candy corn on my counter. And go buy all the half priced Halloween candy I can fit in the van. And I want ice cream in a waffle cone. And I want to start making fall treats like fudge and truffles and little acorn candy out of Hershey's Kisses... I never crave sweets until the doc says I can't have them. For the record, I have been stellar at laying off the sugar. But it's requiring a large percentage of the small amount of energy I have.

Meanwhile, I have a whole post in my head about the kid that's currently residing outside my womb. She's amazing. Not that she's any more brilliant than anybody else's kid, she's just more brilliant than she was two weeks ago and I love watching her develop her little brain and motor skills. It occurred to me last night that if she'd been born on time her birthday would have been yesterday. Thankfully, I have another week and a half before facing that. Not that I've wasted much stress on it, we're doing a small family-style party at the park in Philly the Saturday after. No big guest list. No big decorations. Getting a Mickey Mouse cake, because my kid has a Mickey Mouse addiction (which is totally genetic). She's getting a swing set that should be put together this weekend and a couple of other toys and that'll be it. I've also got the vast majority of her Christmas taken care of already, because I'm just on top of things like that. And because I one of her bigger Christmas item was on sale last week and I had a coupon that expired at the end of October. And I bought a couple of things for her birthday before we decided to go with the swing set, so I'm pushing those back to Christmas. And poof. Done.

And now I have one hour before I need to leave to go pick up my antibiotics and get my kid from school. I could go clean up the kitchen. I could go sort through all the junk I've stashed in the nursery that needs a new storage home. I could clean the bathrooms. I could do the laundry. I could start the rolls for dinner tonight. I could... I could lay on the couch and read the book I took the doc's office but never had time to get out of my purse.  I'll let you imagine whichever answer you think is best there...