Friday, October 31, 2008

Mommy Magic

Today being Halloween, much time was spent in preparation for the evening's festivities. My son is dressing up as an Astronaut, and I purchased a bright orange jumpsuit for him to wear. He was not impressed with the costume, said it "didn't have all the parts." He was right. The outfit, while cute, needed some pizazz. I didn't think I could talk him in to wearing any sort of helmet for more than 5 minutes, so I decided to try for something else.

Armed with tin foil, duct tape, an empty water bottle and crepe paper, I whipped out some pretty cool gravity boots and a jet pack. When I showed them to my son, his eyes got so big and a huge smile covered his face. "Wow! How did you make those? Did you use your Mommy Magic?" Of course I replied, "Yes, I did!"

It's a pretty awesome feeling when your child looks at you like you're the greatest thing out there, and that's hard to come by anywhere else. As Moms, we do lots of things every day that go unnoticed, so it's nice when our efforts are appreciated. As our children grow up the Mommy Magic moments will be few and far between, but if we try hard enough, they will still occur. I plan on trying to wow my son well into adulthood. Our kids are worth the effort, and we Moms deserve the praise.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Carving

Carving the same old jack-o-lantern face every year can get boring, at least according to my child. We now use templates (you can find a ton of them on the web) that are fun and super easy to do. The pumpkins in these photos were done a couple of years ago. They looked great illuminated at night.
This year, in honor of Marley Lily the Lab, who apparently loves to eat pumpkins although they don't agree with her, we are using the dog template found at this site.
If you plan to do any pumpkin carving, be creative, have fun, and don't forget to roast those yummy seeds for snacking!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Comfort Food

Comfort. It's like a warm glow inside, the feeling you get from a hug from Mom or curling up next to a fire with a good book. Sometimes it's just what we need at the end of a not-so-great day. When you can't get that hug or curl up by the fire, make this instead. It's the ultimate comfort food.


4-6 pieces chicken (bone-in and skin on)
Chicken Broth (enough to cover)
1 Onion, chopped
3 ribs Celery, chopped
3 large Carrots, peeled and chopped
3 Parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
Whole button mushrooms (optional)
Poultry seasoning (1/2 tsp. for chicken and 1/4 tsp for dumplings)
1 1/2 c. baking mix (I use Pioneer low fat)
fresh thyme and parsley, minced
1 cup low fat milk
Heat 2 tbs. canola oil in a heavy pot. Season chicken pieces with S&P, then add to pot and brown well on both sides. Remove chicken from pan. Add veggies (except mushrooms) and bay leaf and cook until tender. Remove skin from chicken and return to pot. Add about 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning, mushrooms and enough chicken broth to cover. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and veggies are done, about 20 minutes. To make dumplings, put all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Drop by large spoonfuls into simmering broth and cover - do not peek - and cook for about 15 minutes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The technology BOOM

This week, our computer's hard drive decided to crash and go down in flames. One minute we are working happily away on our computer and the next--crash, boom, bang. GONE. EVERYTHING. I know we are talking about a computer here and not something much more precious, but I still can't shake this feeling of loss. Files, pictures, so much important information gone forever.

I'm sure many of you are saying, "I hope they have back ups of everything" and I wish I could say we do, but it's been a while since we practiced that VITAL STEP. We had allowed our computer to become a crutch, relying on it for everything and trusting it with so much not thinking it would ever let us down. In a sense, computers can become truly life-like and teach us an important lesson: do not put all your eggs in one basket or rely so heavily on others.

Thankfully, our new computer arrived last night and we're spending countless hours reloading software getting things set up. Being without a computer was not fun, and I hope to be back on track soon. Right after I make a trip to computer city to stock up on cds for our weekly back-ups. This time around, we will rely a little bit less on our computer and a little bit more on ourselves. As for you, Murphey? It's about time you packed up and left.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sweet Dumpling Squash

I found these tiny squashes today called Sweet Dumplings at my local market, so I decided to give them a try. They're quick and easy to prepare:
  • cut the tops off and scoop out any seeds
  • rub them with EVOO and S&P (for a little spice, sprinkle with a bit of fresh grated nutmeg)
  • place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet
  • roast at 350 for 35-40 minutes
  • sprinkle tops with brown sugar and roast an additional 5-10 minutes or until tops are golden
These gems are super yummy, especially with the sprinkling of brown sugar on top. If you happen to find some, give them a try. Even my son gobbled them up! And check out this website for all kinds of squash recipes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beach your children well

have a ball
build sandcastles (or a sand dog)
don't get crabby
always take time out for fun

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The fabric of friendship

Today I would have liked nothing more than to have a few a minutes to visit my blog and post about some yummy recipe that I've had the chance to try, or write about a fun project I've been working on. Things that take my mind off of the daily stresses of life and the reasons I started a blog in the first place. Lately, though, it seems as if my days are swallowed up so quickly I can't even recall a small taste of them. There is no time for much of anything other than the daily grind, and to be honest, things are GETTING TO BE A BIT MUCH kinda stressful right now. Seriously, Murphy has taken up residence at The Moon.

Great White Hunter is a good husband, father, and provider. He keeps us all together over here and works dang hard at doing so. When I really need to vent, though, I usually turn to my girlfriends (and GWH loves this because it saves his ears from my ramblings). Girlfriends ears know when to listen and not talk. They can make us laugh at the most difficult times, cry with us when it seems like the right thing to do, and tell it to us straight when it's what we need to hear.

Today was getting the best of me until a phone conversation with a very sweet friend. By the end of our talk I was laughing so hard I could hardly remember why I was stressed out to begin with, and she also helped me see the forest through the trees (or snapped me back into reality, however you choose to look at it). Now I won't need to dump everything on the hard working hubby as soon as his foot enters the door.

If you are surrounded by good girlfriends, take a minute to thank them for always being there for you and being what you need when you need it. Then, take a minute to make sure you are returning the favor. To quote Douglas Pagels, "A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Easy Fall Decor

I planned on putting my Fall decorations out today, however, I must have forgotten Lily the Lab ate most of them last year. Once I was done crying because all my adorable scare crows and hand-made decorations are gone, I set out to decorate with the simplest items I could find. If you're looking to add some easy Fall touches to your house, try some of these:

Let Fall greet your guests at the front door by setting out some unique pumpkins and gourds. I love the handle on this Wolf pumpkin. For a simple door decoration, I purchased a cinnamon broom from the grocery store, cut some fall grasses and cat tails (my son thinks they're corn dogs) from my yard and added a few sunflowers.

Create a harvest swag by tying ornamental corn together with raffia. I have this hanging on a pub mirror in my entry hall.

Decorate indoor trees with fall leaves, mini pumpkins, gourds and ornamental corn. Fill a wicker cornucopia with the same items to add a touch of Fall to your kitchen. Bowls or platters filled with fall squashes, like acorn and butternut, are also a nice touch.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pecan Chicken Salad with a Fall twist

I had lunch this afternoon with several girlfriends, and the topic of chicken salad recipes came up (probably because that's what half of us were eating!) I have been making my Pecan Chicken Salad for about 10 years now, and it's always a hit. Although this salad is good as is anytime of year, put a fall twist on it by adding red apple chunks and dried cranberries, and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Yummy!

Pecan Chicken Salad
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (well rinsed and patted dry)
chicken broth (enough to cover chicken)
1 1/2 c. toasted pecan halves
1 lb. red seedless grapes
1 c. diced celery
1/2 c. diced scallions
1 c. chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 1/2 c. sour cream
S & P to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange chicken, single layer, in a shallow glass baking dish. Cover with chicken broth, lay a sheet of foil over the pan and roast until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 30-40 minutes. Allow chicken to cool in the liquid, then discard liquid and chop chicken into bite-sized chunks. (If you're in a time crunch, you can cheat by purchasing a rotisserie chicken, removing the skin and chopping up the meat.)

Place chicken in a large bowl and add grapes, pecans, celery, scallions and dill; toss well. In a separate bowl, stir together mayonnaise and sour cream (using low fat or fat free will drastically alter the taste of this dish and is not recommended). Add this mixture to the chicken mixture and toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve on a bed of watercress or butter lettuce, garnish with fresh dill sprigs.