Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pardon the Interruption...Again

Hi folks. I'm in the process of migrating this little blog to a new host. I'll be back up and running on Monday. You won't need to do anything differently to get there - you'll be redirected automatically when you type in:

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Slide

What do you do when you have too much time and too much snow on your hands? Well, if you're my husband, you build a snow slide for your 4-year-old to fly down on his own so that you can shovel the road in peace. Here is the view from the top of the slide looking down.


Yes, the slide ends a mere 5 feet from the edge of our yard before plunging into a deep ravine that ends in a frozen creek. You can tell that this slide was constructing without the presence of one paranoid, over-protective mother to veto the design. In the Irishman's defense, he was the first one to go down it to make sure that the wall he constructed at the end of the slide would stop his weight. Here is Parker's descent down the slide.





Did I mention that they built in a ramp to launch off of?





And finally, the side view of the ramp.


I may be going out of my mind at the utter lack of anything resembling a regular schedule, but I'm certain that the boys will think back on the winter of snow and mayhem fondly.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Wonderland: Edition #1,286


When I insisted that we head out for the day yesterday to stock up on provisions and preempt our cabin fever, my husband thought that I was overreacting. He thought we might get a couple of inches, but he went to sleep last night with every intention of heading into work this morning as regularly scheduled. In fact, he even showered and dressed this morning before he even bothered to look outside.




I heard his exclamation of shock and dismay while I was still tucked warmly beneath my down comforter. I smiled smugly to myself and suggested he make use of his already dressed and showered state and start shoveling.


Then, I laid in bed quietly for another 23 seconds before Parker came in for his daily snuggle.


After internally gloating for another 10 minutes (snuggled warmly with Parker), I headed to the kitchen to make coffee and breakfast. I decided on Denver omelets accompanied by biscuits and gravy. It was the least I could do for my beleaguered husband who is probably going to spend the better part of the day digging us out from under the 12+ inches of snow while I take pictures from the coziness of central heat. Sometimes, being pregnant has some serious perks.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Feta Leek Quiche


My mother brought this recipe back from Greece with her and we tried it for the first time during her last visit. The feta and leeks were a delicious combination and it was much lighter in consistency than a traditional quiche, which I really enjoyed. This was very easy to make and you don't even need to bother with a crust, which reduces both the hassle and the calories. Bonus, right?

Here what you need:

3-4 leeks (discard hard outer leaves and slice thinly)
1/2 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat your olive oil over a large saucepan and add in your sliced leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Saute them until they're transparent, about 8-10 minutes or so.

While the leeks are cooking, beat your eggs with your milk. Once combined, add in the flour, 1/2 tsp. of salt and another Tbs. of olive oil.

Once your leeks are done cooking and your egg/milk mixture is thoroughly combined, oil a pie plate so that your quiche doesn't stick. First, add your leeks into the pie plate. Then, spread the crumbled feta on top. Finally, pour your egg/milk mixture over the top.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the quiche comes out clean. Cut and serve when it's done. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our Nintendo Wii: A Second Life


We've had a Nintendo Wii for over 3 years now, but strangely enough, it hadn't gotten any serious use until last month when we were snowed in for about 10 days total. Aside from sledding and causing a general ruckus, we were desperate for Parker to burn some energy.

*Enter the Wii*

With Wii Sports and the Wii Fit (game and balance board), there were a ton of games that we could now play with Parker. One of my favorites for Parker is the running exercise where he has to run in place for a whopping 10 minutes (which is an eternity for a 4 year old). It's easy to do and it's pretty much the equivalent of doing 10 minutes of jumping jacks. It seriously wore him out!

When he got bored with the Sports and Fit games, he and the Irishman would play a Star Wars lightsaber game where they would try to "put to sleep" the bad guys. I'm not comfortable with killing games, so in Parker's world, the saber's were set to "stun" not "kill." Or something like that.

Lest you think that the Wii is only for kids, I have actually been using it for a couple of weeks now to supplement my gym workouts. My tactic is adding a pair of 10-lb. dumbbells to all of the strength and aerobic exercises available for the Wii Fit game. It's a nice morning workout and I can squeeze it in before classes in less time than it would take me to drive to the gym and back.

This weekend, I'm going to check out what other "games" are available for the Wii to see how we can maximize it's use. After lying dormant for 3 years, I'm happy to say that our Wii was a smart purchase after all.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fried Pickles


All I can say is Lord help me for knowing how to make these. My fried pickle eating days go back to my time at Florida State when I would frequent a restaurant there that made absolutely the best fried pickles. They came with a homemade honey mustard dipping sauce that was heavenly and I would often polish off the entire basket (with help of course) and leave there craving more.

Since we've moved away from Tallahassee, fried pickles have found their place onto my "I miss..." list. Naturally, I realized that I'll just simply need to learn to make them myself. Luckily for me, one of my sorority sisters used to work at the restaurant and passed along the honey mustard recipe (yippee!) and I got a recipe for the batter from The final verdict? Total success. Here's how you make these little bites of fried heaven.

Homemade honey mustard:
2 parts mayo
1 part dijon mustard (recommended Zatarans creole mustard)
honey to taste (we added just under a tablespoon)

Egg wash:
1 cup milk
1 egg
dash of dill
dash of lemon pepper
pickle juice to taste (about 1 Tbs.)

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbs. dill
1 Tbs. lemon pepper
1-2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic salt

First, buy a jar of refrigerated pickles. We used Claussen kosher dill. I think that the refrigerated pickles have a better crunch and a much better flavor. Go ahead and make your honey mustard so that the flavors have a chance to meld.

Next, make an assembly line of pickles, egg wash (ingredients whisked together) and breading (ingredients mixed well).


Grab a deep skillet and heat vegetable or canola oil on high. To find out if the oil is hot enough, I usually drop in a small piece of bread to see if it sizzles right away.

Once the oil is ready, dip the pickle into egg wash and then into the breading. Gently shake loose any excess breading and slowly drop the pickle into the oil. Cook your pickles in batches and fry until they are a nice golden brown.

Have a paper towel lined plate ready nearby to soak up the excess oil and serve immediately after their done. Then take a bite and mentally thank the good people of the South for coming up with the idea of frying everything in sight.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Be More Self-Reliant


I'm generally not a fan of vague New Year's resolutions like lose weight, be more patient, love thy neighbors... I generally favor something more concrete, like training for a new race or making it to a new travel destination by summer. I like goals that I can write down on my calendar and put a big, fat check mark next to when they're done.

This year, I'm trying something a little bit different. A bit more functional. My goal for 2011 is to be more self-reliant in general. My default setting for my entire life has been that if something is not perfect, either replace it or pay someone else to fix it. Well, now that we live one county over from the middle of nowhere, that isn't always an option, so I've had to learn to adapt without every store in creation being a stone's throw from my house. In adapting, I've learned that I'm way too reliant on services and modern technologies. I mean, heck, I couldn't even build a proper fire until last year! For all intents and purposes, we need to live like we're in the wilderness because when we're snowed in, we're often stuck at our house a week at a time and if we lose power, there isn't a utility truck around that can make it up to us before the snow clears.

I'm sure that most of you think that we're probably crazy for picking a house this inaccessible, but for us, it's an adventure. I feel like I'm living in an 1800s historical novel at times (with a dishwasher and central heat, of course). Perhaps, that's what has brought this on. The need to feel like I could survive with only my own manpower and the knowledge that I have. So, here are some concrete goals for 2011:

1. Make as many clothes for the baby girl as I can. It's fun and it makes me feel useful. Plus, once I figure out making clothes on a smaller-scale, perhaps I can start designing stuff for myself. Who needs a mall when you can make whatever it is that you want? I'll leave the big stuff like trousers and jeans to the pros, but I'm sure that I can handle dresses and tops with a bit of practice.

2. Take survival classes. Just up the road from us, a couple runs a business that teaches you about backpacking through the mountains and learning about the different plants and herbs in the region. This seems eminently practical when we live on 6 acres of steep mountain country.

3. Become more in tune with nature. We live in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful areas of the country and I have YET to break out my hiking boots. What gives? We need to hike, kayak and mountain bike our way through the mountains. The first purchase towards this goal will be a backpack for baby girl to ride in.

4. Get camping. This goes along with #3, but my husband used to go camping all the time as a kid and has wonderful, fond memories of roasting marshmallows and cooking breakfast over an open fire. Of course, we'll pick campsites with hot showers to help me ease into the process of wilderness woman, but part of the reason that we moved here is so Parker didn't have to grow up in an urban jungle like we did.

5. Plant a spring garden. We have perfect soil here for gardening and 1 acre of terraced land that was build with the sole purpose of harboring a vegetable garden. If I get with the program, we should be able grow all of the produce that we need for the summer months.

Well, I think that's about it for concrete goals. Hopefully, I haven't totally lost my mind, but if I have, that would be par for the course.