From Our Kitchen Recipe 2

My mom's sloppy joes remind me so much of childhood, that it's hard not to regress a little while eating them. She brought me a big Crockpot full of them when she came to help out after Gabbie arrived, and it was the perfect food to make it through those early days. No, they're not as easy as Manwich, but they're really not that much more difficult and the flavor is so much better.

Mom's Sloppy Joes

In a pan combine ground beef, chopped onion, and chopped green peppers. Add ketchup until the mixture is wet, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (about a tsp or more), a glug of cider vinegar (about a tablespoon), a handful of brown sugar (about a tablespoon), ground pepper, and salt to taste. Heat through. Serve on hamburger buns with a slice of American cheese if you so prefer.

Tomorrow you get two recipes, since I'm behind. I'm still in denial about how busy my life is these days, so I can make promises like that.

I'd title this "Give Me Your Wood", but it just seems too inappropriate

I keep trying to post some different posts, but Internet Explorer keeps crashing. Gotta love it! A couple of posts will come later tonight when I'm home and using the far superior Firefox instead.

Hopefully those posts will include pictures from the Extreme Makeover Home they're building in town, but we'll see. Apparently they rely on donated goods, and no one has donated any lumber yet. I'm no homebuilder, but I'm guessing lumber is a pretty important supply when building a house.

Monday Meal Planning - From Our Kitchen Edition

No, I'm not dead. Just dealing with the end of the project year for many of my projects at work, which means 15-hour work days and writing final reports. That is so much writing that I just couldn't bring myself to sit at the computer and write more for this site. But! The end of the project year is on Tuesday, and so almost everything is done and life can get back to normal. It has been a long couple of weeks, that's for sure.

Anyway, this week I'm in the mood for comfort food, which means several of my mom's recipes, one of Aaron's, and a couple of mine. I'm going to add one a day, so that the post isn't too overwhelmingly long. I hope you enjoy these dishes as much as we do!

Chicken Tortellini Soup

This recipe is mine, and is sort of just my fancier version of chicken noodle; fancier only because I use tortellini instead of egg noodles, and float a parmesan toast on the top. As written, this is a very chunky soup, just the way Aaron likes it. If you're watching your grocery budget, using one chicken breast half is plenty. If you want lots of leftovers, add another quart of chicken broth. It's also good if you add a can of diced tomatoes, juice and all, and substitute oregano for the thyme.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. sliced carrots
1 c. sliced celery
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1-2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 package fresh tortellini
1 loaf French bread (baguette)
shredded parmesan

1. In a soup pot, add olive oil and heat to shimmering over medium-high heat. Add in vegetables and herbs; salt and pepper to taste. Sautee until the onions are translucent and nothing has browned too much; about 5 minutes.

2. Add in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Gently add in chicken, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through and vegetables are tender.

3. In the meantime, cook tortellini according to package instructions.

4. Remove chicken to a plate and allow to cool until you can easily handle it. Remove bay leaves and thyme now (it's easier to find them now than when there are a lot of chicken chunks in there). Tear the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Return the chicken to the pot and heat through.

5. For parmesan toasts: Heat broiler. Cut several 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices of bread (about 2 per person) and place on a cookie sheet. Toast the bread under the broiler until it starts to brown; about 1 or two minutes. Butter the opposite side of the bread slices, and put onto the cookie sheet butter side up. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and broil for a minute or two until the bread is turning golden brown and the cheese has melted.

6. To serve, place several tortellini in a soup bowl. Ladle soup over top, and float a toast or two on top of the soup. Enjoy!


So far this week has sucked. It has, in fact, sucked a lot, and next week isn't looking much better. I know I've been absent here, but I really haven't had a chance to get online until right now. This is both because of a hectic work life this week and a baby at home that isn't happy if I'm not holding her, and is especially not happy if I leave the room or even turn my back to her. While this is adorable and it melts my heart, it really doesn't lend itself to me having time to do anything.

Anyway, this morning has capped off the sucktitude that has filled my life this week. I present to you my morning, through verbatim emails between Aaron and I.
Hey Baby,

 Can I just tell you how completely awesome my day has been so far?

First, you were sick and then you still went in to work (yes I’m still harping on you about this; I figure you’ll learn someday, right?)

Then, I almost hit about 4 fifth and sixth graders who jumped out in front of my car, but who I couldn’t see because of the giant glare the sun was causing on the windshield. Is there something we can buy for that?

Next, I DID actually hit something. I hit and killed a chipmunk. That has to be a good omen, right?

Finally, what I think will be your favorite awesome thing that happened this morning, the seatbelt alarm/annoying beeping noise in the car started going off because my passenger wasn’t buckled in. What passenger, you ask? I would like to know that as well, as the only thing sitting in that seat was my breast pump, and I know that’s way lighter than the weight that is supposed to indicate a passenger.

Any bets on what else awesome can happen this morning?
And then my wonderful husband wrote back and made me feel much better, because he actually is awesome, minus the sarcasm.

I'm so sorry. I will wash the windshield tonight.

It's also a tragic story about the chipmunk, but he had it coming. From what I've heard, he was a murderous villain. So you did a favor to the rest of the chipmunk community.

As far as the car goes, I'll really have to ramp my search for a replacement vehicle as the electrical gremlins in this car are really starting to turn their vicious heads.

I don't want to bet what else may happen because I love you and don't want anything bad to happen to you or my little girl.
I hope your day goes better.
He deserves a cookie, at the very least.


We just got back from the specialist, and the verdict is that Gabbie is done with her harness. She's free for good! We honestly didn't expect the news to be that good, so it was an incredibly wonderful surprise.

However, now that she's out our money is on her being able to roll around the house by the end of the weekend. Baby proofing starts tonight!

I'm blaming sleep deprivation

This morning is going just swimmingly, thanks!

First, I forgot to rinse the conditioner out of my hair and didn't realize it until I was nearly dressed, so then I had to undress, get back in the shower, rinse it out, and then start getting ready all over again.

Then I forgot Gabbie's bottles for day care until I was all situated in the car. So, I had to get Gabbie back out of the car, trudge up the stairs, get the bottles, lock back up, and get situated in the car all over again.

While thinking of my plan to hire someone to help Aaron write his resume (long story short: if he doesn't get it done, I'm going to kill him), I was halfway to work before I realized that I had to drop Gabbie off at daycare, just like I have to do everyday. Daycare is the opposite direction from where I work, and all of the quick ways to daycare from where I was when I realized I had to go back were foiled because of a road being closed. And I forgot to sign her in.

So, of course, I was late to work and when I got here there's a gas leak! (I guess that sleep deprivation isn't to blame for this, though.) So much for me catching up on all of the tasks I'm behind on this morning.

Someone needs to tell Gabbie that sleeping is fun and she should totally do it, because she has decided that sleep is for losers and she is definitely not a loser. What happened to my baby that slept through the night from nearly day one?

(Also, as an aside to blogger users - did your spell check option disappear too? I want it back!)

UPDATED: I also forgot to write that I forgot to attach my recipe to the recipe exchange I replied to today. Sorry Sizzle - it will go out tonight when I get home. If I don't forget. Gah!

My Little Charmer

I am in a great mood today, despite the fact that Gabbie was up half the night. She started the day out right, however, by waking up in my arms and greating me with the biggest sleepy, gummy grin that you've ever seen. This kid already knows how to charm me; I am in so much trouble. I think the sleep issue was actually a gas issue, and so no more chili for me as that has been the common thread through the past few sleepless nights.

The second (hilarious to me, not so much to Aaron) thing that Gabbie did today was to pee on her quilt. You see, while I was getting ready in the bathroom Aaron wanted to give her a bath, but she was also in desperate need of her first thing in the morning diaper change. So he took her out of her wet diaper, put a clean diaper underneath her without fastening it, and left the room to go fill up her bath. This may have worked a few weeks ago before she started being able to roll onto her side and move around a bit more, but not so much since then. She rolled off her diaper into a position about 90 degrees from where he left her, and peed all over her quilt. That will teach him, I guess. She looked pretty proud of herself, and that made me laugh even harder.

Speaking of her moving around, on Sunday night Gabbie rolled over for the first time! We had her out of her harness for a little pre-bath play time, and she rolled from her stomach to her back twice. She looked very surprised the first time it happened, and the second time it was about to happen she grabbed on to her blanket for dear life, as if that would stop her from turning over. We were actually videotaping a different trick of hers at the time so we got it all on tape! She's also been very close to getting from her back to her front with her harness on. Once that harness comes off for good we're in trouble, because I get the feeling she'll be rolling all over the place.

Here's hoping she sleeps better tonight. Or that I could at least get a nap in sometime after work today (or maybe during my lunch break). Ah, who am I kidding. I'll be reading Twilight instead of napping any time in the near future.

Monday Meal Planning - The Meaty Edition

I know, I know. I missed last week’s Monday Meal Planning, but I have a good excuse. Gabbie. In fact, babies are the best excuse for anything. Wedding I don’t want to go to? Baby. At a party and I want to leave? Baby. Grocery shopping during the after-work rush? Why don’t you go honey, so I don’t have to drag along the baby in that crowded store. It’s just one of the millions of things I love about my baby. There’s no one else I’d rather have as an excuse for everything.

So, yes, with the holiday weekend and all that extra time, I still didn’t have time to meal plan last week because I was too busy playing and snuggling with the baby. This weekend, however, she was being a pill and so I handed her off to her dad and took an hour-long break in the bedroom, with thirty minutes of meal planning and then thirty minutes starting Twilight. Then, I held Gabbie while she napped, and read some more. That book is addictive!

Anyway, here is a mixture of what we tried last week and some tried and true recipes were eating this week:

Monday: Stuffed Zucchini (see recipe at the bottom of this post) and Garlic Bread

Aaron has only a few recipes from his youth that he loves. Chili is one of them. His mom’s meatballs are another. He loves potato sausage, but I forbid that grossness from entering my house. Finally, he loves stuffed zucchini and every year around this time he requests that I make it. However, he doesn’t give me any direction as to what his mom put into her stuffed zucchini so I’m flying blind as I try to recreate this childhood favorite. Every year I make it, and every year I fail to “make it as good as Mom’s”.

This year, though, I finally succeeded! It wasn’t exactly like his mom’s recipe, but it was so good that he didn’t mind. Plus, the older he gets the less he likes processed foods; the basis of much of his mom’s cooking back then. This one is full of fresh veggies, sausage, and cheese, and I have to agree that it’s delicious! The garlic bread was a perfect accompaniment and even though I stuffed one large zucchini there didn’t seem to be nearly enough for the two of us.

Tuesday: Chicken Cobb Salad, French Bread

I absolutely love (LOVE!) this salad. I just grill an extra chicken breast or two whenever we have chicken and use that (I don’t bother with the marinade unless I’m using one on the rest of the chicken, otherwise I just salt and pepper it or use a poultry grill seasoning). I also sometimes add chopped hard boiled eggs or whatever veggies I have that I need to use up. It’s really hard to mess up this salad, and I could eat it every day. I think it’s the warm, crumbled bacon that really makes it as wonderful as it is, and I’m okay with that.

Wednesday: Skirt Steak with Crispy Garlic Potatoes and Steamed Green Beans

This meal is perfect for when you’re craving a meat and potatoes kind of night. It makes it feel a little lighter than steak with a baked potato, and is super fast and easy to pull together. The steamed green beans really round out the meal.

Thursday: Chicken Fajitas and Mexican Rice

We follow the recipe from this post, and lately I’ve been adding corn to my Mexican rice, just to give it a little something extra. (And because we have a boatload of corn from my parents’ garden.)

Friday: Mozzarella and Ham Panini with Cherry Tomato Salad

I just remembered! I can eat fresh mozzarella again! It’s one of those things I avoided while pregnant (the whole soft cheese thing) that I also love to eat whenever possible. I cut so many things like that out of my diet, that I keep rediscovering things like this that I can eat again. Like medium rare steak. And bleu cheese! Man, do I love bleu cheese! I also love tomatoes, so this salad is one of my absolute favorite. I pry apart the sandwich when it gets the table and pile on some of the salad. It totally makes the meal. I’m drooling already, and I have until Friday to wait before I get to eat this. I can’t wait!

Also, I just noticed that it's a rather meat-filled week! Usually we try for at least one or two vegetarian meals, but this week is meat, meat, and more meat. I guess the weekend will have to be meat-free.

Recipes from this post:

Stuffed Zucchini


One large zucchini
2 T. olive oil, divided
1 T. butter
½ a green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
½ lb. bulk sausage
1 small tomato, diced
1 c. cheddar cheese


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut the ends of the zucchini and cut it in half length-wise. Hollow out the middle of each half with a spoon or melon-baller, making sure to leave about a quarter to a half inch of zucchini on the bottoms and sides, reserving about a quarter of what you remove from the inside of the zucchini. Carefully drop the hollowed out zucchini halves into the boiling water and cook for five to seven minutes, or until zucchini is crisp-tender. Drizzle 1 T. olive oil on a cookie sheet or baking pan, and place zucchini on the pan, cut side up. Chop up the reserved zucchini.

2. In a large sauté pan add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the tablespoon of butter. Place the pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and the pan is hot, add the green pepper, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Add in the chopped zucchini. Cook until green peppers are tender and onion is nearly translucent. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with a spoon. When sausage is completely cooked through, remove the pan from the heat, and add the tomato and ¾ of the cheddar cheese.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill the prepared zucchini with the sausage mixture. Top off with the remaining cheddar cheese. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Reasons to like Fall

Or, at the very least, reasons I like fall:
  • Cooler weather, less humidity. I can wear jeans and not sweat all day long! I can cover up more and be comfortable. My hair doesn't fuzz up the moment I step outside. Daily highs are around my favorite temperature: 68 degrees.
  • Football Saturdays, tailgating, homemade chili, crispix mix, and apple pie. Tomorrow is the first football Saturday we're spending at home (missed it last weekend because of a wedding reception, but that's okay, because both of our teams lost big time), and so we're doing it up right. Chili, beer (for Aaron, not me because I'm allergic - true story), crudite, and pie (lemon mereingue instead of apple, but still! Pie!). We're also inviting friends over to watch the game on our huge (ha!) 19 inch television. For some reason, even though we have the smallest TV out of all of our friends, we always host the gatherings where things are watched on TV.
  • The leaves changing colors. This is not here yet, but not far off either. However, I do miss my brother living way up north because it was like a fall color tour every time we went to see him.
  • Soup season is back again! Soup has to be my favorite food ever, and I have a list about a million recipes long that I want to try. Like artichoke soup, Philly cheesesteak soup, a new recipe for tomato soup (my absolute favorite), and many, many more.
  • Cuddling on the couch is no longer limited to about five minutes because it's just too hot and humid to cuddle. Now it's perfect cuddling weather. And there's nothing I like more than cuddling. Except maybe cuddling, with a bowl of soup, a sleeping baby, and a good movie on DVD.

I really, really love the fall. Until about February, when I start singing the praises of Spring.


So, you want to know what I did on my first night of implementing Project Getting It Together? I went to bed at 7:30! No, really. I did. I had a headache and a sore throat (thank you allergies!) and so Aaron sent me to bed for a "nap". I woke up to feed Gabbie twice before my normal bedtime, but kept going back to sleep because I was exhausted. You would think I'd feel well rested today, but of course Gabbie also woke up at 4 and 6 this morning, so I'm still feeling tired.

Tonight, however, while we're still not back on the healthy meal planning bandwagon (the plan is for frozen pizza - not only are we eating food that's bad for us, it's gross too!), Gabbie and I are having a girls' night. We're going shopping and grabbing some ice cream (for me, who is really, really not sticking to the healthy eating thing), and then heading home to watch the two-hour season premier of America's Next Top Model. I can't wait! I may even cut out of here early so that we can get a head start on our evening.

Yesterday I kind of hinted about other big things happening right now. Well, they're not exactly happening yet, but we're working toward making them happen. Aaron and I want to move away from the town where we currently live back to my hometown. That town is also the place where Aaron went to college, where we started our relationship, and where we moved in together 2 years later. In order to do this, though, we first need to find jobs. This is the hard part, as it's a sort-of small town with only two main employers. Fortunately, both employers are looking for people our age (it's hard to keep young people in this small, northern Michigan town), so we may be in luck.

The whole thing is so scary, but exciting at the same time. A lot of our friends still live up there, my parents are there, my sister might end up there, and it just feels like home to both of us. I don't know how long it will take us to get up there, but we're aiming for October. Which means we have to get our butts in gear and start applying for jobs. We both like our routines and have a hard time making changes, so this is a big challenge for us. In the end, though, I think it will be completely and totally worth it. This, applying for jobs and making the move, is the biggest part of Getting It Together. We'll finally feel truly settled, ready to get on with the rest of our lives.

Project Getting it Together

Lately I feel like I am behind on everything. Behind in life. I am about 90% less prodcutive now that Gabbie's here, and I would like to gain some of that back. I don't plan out our meals very often, which means less healthy food because we just make what is fast and easy. I had pictures taken of Gabbie six weeks ago, and I've only distributed them to handful of the people to which I had intended. My house is a mess. I have about 6 outfits that fit. I stopped losing the baby weight about four weeks after she got here.

I just feel so completely out of it.

How do I gain more of myself back and still balance that with all that I want to give to Gabbie? Not to mention, my relationship with Aaron. Making time for us has definitely fallen way back on the list of things that get attention.

So here's the plan: More meal planning. Evening walks with Aaron and Gabbie. Shopping on lunch breaks to find a few more clothing options that fit. Fifteen to thirty minutes a night doing household chores. Establish an earlier nightly routine with Gabbie so that Aaron and I can have just a few minutes together before bedtime. An hour or two of Aaron taking care of Gabbie on weekends so that I can get some things done that I really, desperately need to do (send out pictures, catch up on emails, clean out closet to see if there are clothes packed away that might actually fit, etc.). And, most importantly so that I don't forget these moments that keep passing by so quickly: blog. Blog about Gabbie, about my life right now, about all the wonderful, exciting things that are happening. I don't want to forget this time, and this blog is the only journal I've ever consistently kept.

Plus, I'm sure that you all out there reading this wouldn't mind some more reading material on a regular basis.
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