Friday, October 31, 2008

Ham and Lima Bean Soup


This is one of those recipes that is vague in directions, but is easy enough that you should be able to get it. My mother-in-law gave us a left-over ham from last Sunday's family reunion, which was perfect, because my husband has been craving Ham and Lima Bean Soup. Campbell's used to make this soup, but for several years we have not been able to find it, so that means we're left to make it on our own. He's actually been the one to make it, and yesterday was my first time making it by myself. There's a lot of chopping and dicing involved, but other than that, it was easy. And, my MIL and FIL came over unexpectedly right at dinner time, so guess what...they got to eat it to, and there was plenty for everyone. (Man, if they had dropped by the night before, they would have seen Donivan too full from lunch to eat any dinner, and me eating rice noodles - I really lucked out yesterday. I was even contemplating not taking a shower yesterday, but decided against it. Someone was looking out for me!)

Ham and Lima Bean Soup
2 pounds Lima beans, soaked overnight
Ham diced up
1 onion diced up
2 garlic cloves diced up
2 celery stalks diced up
2 carrots diced up
4 TBLS dried parsley
10 cups water
2 big scoops of chicken bullion base
Cornstarch
Combine everything in the biggest pot you own and let it simmer for as long as possible. I added the cornstarch (mixed with cold water) toward the end to thicken it up a little. This is a soup that is even better the next day or after you freeze it because it becomes really thick.
Enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Emeril's Key Lime Pie


This is one of my husband's favorite pies. Emeril's recipe is so easy (and I purchase the pre-made graham cracker crust pie, so it's even easier). I know it's not really Key Lime Pie season, but we're attending a family reunion tomorrow, and I assumed everyone else would bring pumpkin and apple pie, so I'm bringing Key Lime Pie for something different. Hubby even thinks this recipe tastes better than Costco's Key Lime Pie. The recipe calls for lime zest as a garnish on top, but we really don't like zest, so I skip it. Also, the recipe makes a little more than can fit in the pie plate, so I just pour the rest into a greased, small custard dish and bake it along with the pie and enjoy it as my quality taste test sample.
Since I'm taking the pie to a reunion tomorrow, this is the only picture I could get of it. I would rather have taken a picture of a single piece, but I just didn't think taking a pie to the reunion with a piece cut out of it was cooth.
After wrestling that plastic lid on, I couldn't even bear to take it off for the picture.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Biggest Loser

I faithfully watch the Biggest Loser, but this season has been the most disappointing. I'm only rooting for one person, Colleen. Normally there are several people I like on the show, but this season, it seems Colleen is the only one worth rooting for. Last night so much ugliness was revealed by several of the players. We've already known for some weeks that Heba is a vindictive liar and can't let go of things, but last night I was shocked at Vicky (the wife of the former brown team). First, she had no team spirit to win the challenge and declared the prize of videos from her family as not worth it. Her poor family! I know she got a video package last week, but what mother wouldn't want to see her kids again after a week? Then she revealed that the only reason her and her husband are doing the Biggest Loser is to win the money. She plans for one of them to win at the finale, and one of them to win the at-home contest. I was shocked at how shallow she is. There's something else about her that bugged me from her attitude last night, but I've yet to put a name to it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Annie's Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese


It's so hard to see hubby and my Little Guy get to eat delicious macaroni and cheese (they eat Kraft's Deluxe version) and not have any myself. So I bought Annie's Gluten-Free Rice Pasta and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. Since I also try to stay away from a lot of dairy, I added rice milk to the cheese mixture instead of cow's milk. Oh, okay... I also added some freshly shredded cheddar cheese. I wanted it to be really good, what can I say? The consistency was very satisfying, but I can't really comment about the taste, seeing as how I can't smell, and therefore can't taste very well. But, when I do sneak bites of hubby's mac and cheese (don't tell), I think his is better.

And yes, I ate it all. I'm pregnant; I can do that.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Book Review - Sunset by Karen Kingsbury

Sunset is Kingsbury’s last book of her 14-book Baxter Family series. It was decent. John Baxter gets remarried and sells the house where he and his now deceased wife raised their five children. Ashley and Katie get pregnant and give birth. on the same day - cute. There was not too much re-hashing of what had happened in the previous 13 books – good job editing team – rather John Baxter reflects on what’s happened in the lives of his children. Kingsbury finds a way to make it not boring, but it’s not earth shattering reading either. I was really intrigued by Bailey Flanigan and Cody’s story, but we do not really get to see anything settled between them. Their story is definitely worthy of its own book, so I was disappointed not to see more of Cody and Bailey in Sunset. I am not sure if Kingsbury is going to start a new series based on the Flanigans or not. The rest of the story is just an ending to the whole Baxter series; nothing special. Definitely don’t read Sunset if you haven’t read the previous 13 books.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Montage-a-google

Check out this cool project, Montage-a-google at the link below. It's basically like a visual search engine. You type in whatever you want to make a montage of and then it finds 20 images and makes a montage for you. So far, there's no great way to save it, otherwise, I'd show you the one I did. I typed in "Purple Kitchenaid" because I know that is really unique, and two of my images from my blog showed up in the montage! However, even though I have actual pictures of my purple Kitchenaid mixer on that particular post, the two images Montage-a-google picked up were of my Tiddleywinks banner (the old one) and a picture of my Clustr map. How funny. Check it out!
http://grant.robinson.name/projects/montage-a-google/

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Kitchen Tip #1

(Well, this is probably the only kitchen tip I'll ever have, but we can still call it #1). Ready? This is it: remember to clean your can opener. I never knew I had to clean my can opener, and then one day, I looked at the surface that was cutting into my cans, and it was black from the various foods that stuck on there! Gross. I threw it out and got a new can opener and I clean it after every use. Glad I got that off my chest.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hungry For More

I got a book entitled Hungry for More from the library. I had never heard of the author, but since I'm running out of books to read, I picked it up. I started it last night and was bummed to realize it's about a Gypsie. How did I get on this weird selection of books featuring Gypsies, shape-shifters, and lovers from the underworld? This is too weird for me. Even historical romances set in England are too ridiculous for me. Needless to say, I'm not going to finish Hungry for More. I didn't even realize this was the title of the book when after dinner, my husband came up to me, and whispered in my ear, "Are you hungry for more?" I said, "Yes, actually I am...are you?" He realized that I was taking him seriously and that I didn't realize he was making fun of the name of the book. We had a good laugh over that one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Listen to Sarah McLachlan New Album "Closer" for Free

I don't know how long this page will be active, but Arista Records has put Sarah McLachlan's Closer album online. "Closer the best of Sarah McLachlan" features 14 of Sarah's best songs and two new songs. Sarah fans don't really need to purchase the album because you probably already have all the songs (minus the two new ones, which you can listen to online). This web page also features the music videos that goes along with each song.

Confession: I've started listening to Christmas music, and Sarah McLachlan has a great Christmas CD called Wintersong from a couple of years ago. I love it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pumpkin Bread


I made Cooking Light's recipe for Spicy Pumpkin Bread. I made my version wheat-free so that I could eat it. To the 3 1/2 cups of flour, I added 2 1/2 teaspoons of Xantham gum, which helps the wheat-free flour rise. I use Bob's Red Mill Wheat and Gluten Free Flour. It is the best! (I also made mine without the walnuts on the top. I'm just not into nuts in my breads.)


The recipe makes two loaves, which is great! More for me. I didn't split the batter too evenly between the loaves, so these pieces are a little short. But that's okay. Variety is good. Also, I don't know what I was expecting, but the bread is not sweet. I guess I really do need to have everything be as sweet as possible, so I eat my pumpkin bread with honey on it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My New Blog Background

Nicole introduced me to the website (see the ad in the upper left-hand corner) that has these pretty and free blog backgrounds. I chose this one for now because the black and white design on the sides matches my new apron. I've been meaning to do a post with a picture of my new apron, but when I'm wearing it, I'm too busy cooking or baking to take a picture. But I'll try to do it soon! Today I made wheat-free pumpkin bread. It's good (but I have to eat it with honey on it - it's not too sweet, and I need sweetness in my life.) I'll try to get a picture of the pumpkin bread too.

Post Script - I got tired of the blog background that matched my apron. It was too crazy. So, I've changed it to this autumn background, and now I really owe you a picture of my apron!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bye Bye Misty

I know this is a week belated, but I have to officially say goodbye to my favorite star in Dancing with the Stars - Misty May Treanor. Now, she wasn't my favorite because of her dancing capabilities, but because she's an Olympic gold medal beach volleyball player. Now, I didn't say anything earlier, but Misty really looked scary all dressed up and with tons of make-up on. Why do they do that to her? Honestly, she looked like a man dressed up in drag, and I'm not talking about her buff body. She just looked like she was a man in drag from the neck up. I'm sorry she got hurt, but I'm glad I don't have to see her in all that makeup. (Sorry, I can't a picture of her dressed up that I can steal and put on my site.) I also wanted to see how far she would go in the contest. I must say that Maksim really grew on me. He used to be my least favorite dancer, but he's moving up now. I think he was the perfect partner for Misty.

On another note, does anyone know, are Brooke Burke's boobs real? I need to know. And I must say, Toni Braxton's body is amazing! And, oh...Rocco. Rocco, Rocco, Rocco. I want you to be a good dancer, but you're just not - I'm so bummed! He looks so awkward on stage; I have to laugh through at least half of it because it is so awkward to watch. At least I get a good laugh out of it. My favorite now is Lance. I really like his dancing and his attitude and I really like his partner, Lacey. I think they are a great couple.

Book Reviews

8 Sandpiper Way by Debbie Macomber - This is the eighth book in Macomber's Cedar Cove series. It doesn't stand out - nothing special, but nothing bad either. Definetly don't read it if you haven't read the previous seven books in the Cedar Cove series. Macomber likes to focus a lot on the secondary characters and there are too many in this book for a first-time Cedar Cove reader. One character in 8 Sandpiper Way even takes a trek into another one of Macomber's series - Buffalo Valley, which I had fortunately just read. Macomber's Cedar Cove Christmas comes out this month, and a ninth book in the series is in the plans. So there's more to come.

Sweet Talk by Susan Mallery - This is my favorite type of romance book. There's romance (duh, I know, but this one had the right amount), good character development, and relatable characters, plus there was a bakery involved, so any story with a food setting gets extra points from me. This is the second Mallery book I have read, and I eagerly look forward to reading anything else the library has about her. My favorite aspect of this book is the main character. She truly wants to change and improve herself, and once she realizes what her heart wants, she goes for it. She doesn't hide behind self-doubt and uncertainty. She doesn't deceive or play games with the hero of the book. That's my kind of character.

Fantasy by four different authors. Each short story in Fantasy is of a different romance genre. I didn't read one of them because it involved demons or some such weird thing. We'll call this the fantasy romance genre. I don't go for it. Another story was based in London in the 1800s; this one was delightful. Another was a modern romance about a woman dressing up as a man in order to get a newspaper story; it was cute. The last story is completely wacky, and I would never normally read it. It is in the science fiction/romance genre and the main characters are shape-shifting leopard/humans!!! I didn't even know stuff like this existed in the romance genre, and I can't believe I finished it, but I'll tell you why. The main character was completely intriguing. He is genuinely loves his "mate" whom he's searched the world over to find. He truly loves and treasures her. I can't believe it, but I was able to get past the fact that they can shape shift into leopards. I'll have to thank my sci-fi loving husband who must be wearing off on me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

She Answered Me!

I asked a question in the comments section on Pioneer Woman's Home and Garden page where her friend, OMSH, outlined what her day is like teaching homeschool to her three kids. Pioneer Woman homeschools her kids, and I've always wondered what something like that would cost (not that I'm considering homeschooling). So I asked OMSH and here's her answer:

"My curriculum and supplies THIS YEAR was about $1500.00 for all three. But remember, if you can get a good copy machine, you can keep from mucking up your curriculum and either re-use it with younger siblings OR sell it to pay for new curriculum; which I do/will do.
I admit it is a chunk for me to have to save up for, but then again, I don’t have to save up for uniforms or other school clothes, fees for this and that, etc…so it probably washes out along the way. We also do our own field trips, and I haven’t added that in. THAT IS ME THOUGH. I have a friend who gets a lot of her stuff free online, borrows from the library, and is involved in a co-op where they trade-out curriculum. I pay to have it all sent to me in one blessed shipment of boxes upon boxes - and then we have a party while we unpack it all!"

So there you go!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Book "Reviews" - Debbie Macomber

I'm not going to actually review these books, I'll just give you my one or two sentence opinion.

Dakota Born - pretty good. The first of four in Macomber's Buffalo Valley series.

Dakota Home - really good. It was a tear-jerker for me, and I don't cry easily.

Always Dakota - ok. The heroine and hero were not typical, which was a nice change, but since this is the third in a series of books, as Macomber tends to do, there were too many other characters fighting for the main character position. The end was written off way too quickly, and there especially wasn't enough of an ending for the main characters.

Buffalo Valley - she's going downhill here in the fourth of the Buffalo Valley books. Buffalo Valley is by far the shortest of the four books and it seems as if it was written as an after thought. Way too simplistic, and it has the same problem as Always Dakota - too much time spent on the secondary characters.

The Manning Brides (This is the second set of the Manning series, and it is two books in one.) The first book, Marriage of Inconvenience is good/average. The hero and heroine's problems stem from the fact that they are stubborn and prideful, my least favorite character flaws. The second book, Stand in Wife is very enjoyable. Macomber tells a story of Paul Manning, whose wife, Diane, has just died after the birth of their third child. Diane's sister, Leah comes to live with him for a couple of years to help Paul raise the kids until they're in school. Paul and Leah fall in love and they explore what this means since they both share a love for Diane. I thought this book was different and it takes a good look at the emotions involved in falling in love.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cake Craziness


I wanted to make a special cake for my son's second birthday. He loves the movie Finding Nemo, so I thought, hey, why not a Nemo cake? I found some simplistic instructions online, and went from there. Those instructions suggested just drawing the icing for the fins directly onto the cake board. I thought that was silly, so I cut out pieces of another cake in the shape of Nemo's fins. So, this Nemo cake is almost one and a half cakes, but that didn't stop me...I still thought that wouldn't be enough cake for about 20 people. So, I made a Dory cake.

It took one a a half days to make and ice these cakes. I don't know what I was thinking. I was only able to do it because my mom was here to help watch Ethan. I sure paid for it though two days later. My whole lower body was sore from bending over for hours to frost these cakes. It felt as if I had the flu. And...we didn't even need the Dory cake. Hubby took it to work, though and they ate it there.

This is the sort of thing that only the first child gets. Sorry baby #2!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Art by Jackielyn

While visiting my aunt and uncle, I got see my cousin Jackielyn's artwork. She makes these amazing pictures by using the tiniest of dots and/or lines. This kind of artwork is called stippling. Take a look, I think they are amazing, and my apologies for not being able to take centered pictures of her artwork...I cropped as best as I could, but I didn't want to cut out too much of the artwork. So, please just ignore my photography skills.
"Tree of Life"

"Jellyfish" - can you find them all? I can't remember, but I think Jackielyn said there's something like 7 or 9 or 11 jellyfish in this picture.

"Surreptitious" - okay, I didn't know what this word meant, here's the definition.

"What Would Jesus Do?"

"Starfish"
This one doesn't have a name yet (if I'm not mistaken)...any suggestions?

Who Are You?

I have been using Google Analytics since August 30th. This tool tells me more than I ever wanted to know about my blog. In the last month, 51% of visitors came to my site directly, 44% of visitors came from a referring site (in leaving comments on Pioneer Woman's site, I often leave my blog address), and 5% of visitors came from search engines. So what are people tying in to search engines that directed them to my blog? There are searches for French toenails, my name, Matthew McConnaughey, and radio beef commercial. That’s all I have to say about that. Thanks for visiting!