Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are You Feeling It?

I've been kind of stressed and absent this past week. Our big summer trip is quickly approaching and I'm starting to have pre-trip jitters and anxiety. I'm excited to go and I know it is the right decision but this trip is a HUGE undertaking. Part of my decision to go for so long is to make all of the work that goes into coming and going worth it.

I'm leaving on Thursday or Friday of this coming week. The girls and I, packed up with my sewing machine, swim noodles, beach umbrella, bikes, cooler, books, movies, art supplies & MY COMPUTER (fear not!) will head north for 6 hours, up through TN, KY, and VA where we will spend the night (IN A DIFFERENT MOTEL) and then continue on up another 7 hours through WV and PA until we reach a small mountain getaway town of Eaglesmere. My grandmother & grandfather (along with my father and some of my siblings and cousins) will be waiting for us. We'll be there for 2 days and then we'll drive 8 hours west through PA, OH, and finally up to Ann Arbor. I'm hoping we can get a whirlwind tour of friends in (along with my Whole Foods & Trader Joe's shopping) before we head up the remaining 4.5 hours to the family cottage. (Pray for me people... that is over 25 hours of driving in less than a week!!!!!)

THEN I can unpack, settle in, and RELAX.

For 30 days.

Before I load back up and head the girls 15 hours south to Asheville.

As you can see it's a LOT. I'm getting to the point where I realize how much is really involved. Thankfully I really can load the car up with whatever I think we might need... but still... that's a lot of packing and loading and organizing (and it's hotter than hell out there!).

On top of all this we're heading out to the hardware store to pick out paint colors for the kitchen & office (Mr F claims he's actually going to get projects done this time... HA!). And we have begun rearranging our furniture. Not that I'm biting off more than I can chew or anything ;)

Even writing all this out is giving me anxiety! Plus there is all the laundry to do! And I really should clean the bathrooms!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Please Excuse Me

But there were some huge storms that blew through here yesterday afternoon. And apparently they knocked down some big trees which knocked down some power lines. Ours were among them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

Remember my mini stratas I made a couple weeks ago? They were a huge success for Mr F and Kid in the mornings. I was thinking I'd like to have another "heat and go" option and figured there was no reason I couldn't approach french toast in the same kind of muffin format as the stratas. It worked perfectly and was MUCH less work!

French Toast Muffins

preheat oven 350 degrees

10 slices of bread, cubed (I used whole wheat... about a half a loaf)
5 eggs
1.5 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T maple syrup
1 t vanilla
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 c dried currants

This recipe is infinitely flexible. Use white bread, use almond extract, use fresh berries... WHATEVER you have on hand will work just fine. I went for a cinnamon raisin vibe with this. To make the "muffins" you are essentially making mini bread puddings... or sweet stuffings... however you want to look at it. Any kind of bread/milk will work in this so if you are using gluten free bread and soy milk give it a go. I used up some OLD bread I had stashed in the freezer once it had gotten too stale for Mr F to eat anymore. You could use fresh bread for this your mixture will just be more bread pudding-esque than if you use stale bread, and it won't need to soak as long.

In a large mixing bowl beat together your eggs and milk. Mix in your sugar and flavorings. Cut your bread into cubes. I actually used frozen bread cut it up and threw it in the mix FROZEN. Seriously this is not rocket science ANYTHING will work here.

Take your bread cubes and toss them in the egg mixture.
Stir to coat the bread completely; leave it to sit a few minutes letting it soak up the mixture.

While you wait get out your muffin pan. This will make a dozen muffins. I used my parchment paper liners (they are the bomb). If you don't have liners grease your tins. If your liners aren't silicone or parchment you should spray them.

Your mixture should look like this...

See how it looks soggy and some of the bread has broken down? That's perfect.

Mix in your fruit.

Scoop it into your muffin tins. Your mixture will probably come to the top of your liner. They puff up a little while baking but they won't overflow.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until set. (I took mine out at 16)

Cool 5 minutes and take out of the tins to cool completely on a rack.

Put your rack in the freezer just until the muffins are frozen (an hour or so) and pop them in a freezer bag.

Reheat in your microwave (30-60 seconds).

Makes 12 muffins at approx 145 calories a piece.

I am so excited to try these with some almond extract, dried cherries, & almonds!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mission Impossible

Let's just say yesterday was one of those "you had to be there" kind of days. I'm not sure any written transcript will ever be able to fully express how trying of a day it was.

A whole lot of small things went terribly awry... but...let's just fast forward and start (and end) with the (time consuming, stress inducing) lens debacle.

See that crack.

That crack is between the front seat and the permanent folding console table between the driver seat and passenger seat. At the top it is about 3/4" deep by 12" wide. It quickly tapers down to about 1 cm deep by 7 " wide. After that it becomes a mostly enclosed plastic casing that surrounds some bolts that has about a 1/2 cm wide by 6" opening at the top and a 1/2" cm hole at each end of the base. What you mostly need to know is that human hands CANNOT reach into this crack.

I've never investigated this part of my car before and it's kind of surprising how much stuff gets lodged in there.

To access this crevice you have to get yourself on the floor of the car. I have a minivan and that means I can either lodge myself in the 12" space between the seats with the console table folded up (next to impossible)...
or in the 15 or so inches between the back of the front seats and the second row seats. Keep in mind that Baby stashes all sorts of stuff in that space. To fit myself in that space I have to kneel and keep the side door open and kind of stick my legs and butt out of the car.

In order to actually see in the crevice you have to line your eye up with the tiny hole on the side of the base of the casing... this means your face has to rest on the floor of the car. I don't know about your car... but I've had mine for awhile... and I have kids... so... um... this is NOT a place you would intentionally put your face.

To move anything in that crevice you need to use a skinny but long tool, while keeping your face on the floor, and inserting it in a 1/2 cm opening.

Guess where Kid's missing lens ended up?

Don't ask how... I'm still disgruntled over it. It's safe to say that while I did not actually put it in there... I did put it somewhere that I, in retrospect, shouldn't have and it slide into the crack while I was driving.

Not having anything that fit in that space while still being long enough to manipulate (a shocker considering the amount of random crap I do have in my car) I headed into the Mc Donald's for two straws. Straws were good... they were long enough... and because they are collapsable I could squeeze them in the slot. The bad part was that they were collapsable and were prone to bending and couldn't provide enough leverage to shoot the lens out... even though I tried OVER & OVER again to do just that. People, I tried (in vain) to get that damned lens out, while parked in the Mc Donald's parking lot, with the kids buckled in their seats... for AN HOUR.

See my knees...
They still look like that 6 hours later. Hey, no one can ever say that I am a quitter.

This process is frustrating even without your children kicking you (inadvertently, intentionally, and absentmindedly) from their carseats. It's probably even frustrating without your two year old throwing board books at your head (with surprising velocity and accuracy). But it is especially frustrating when you know it is your own damn fault that you are in this situation to begin with.

And I can assure you that having Kid chime in every few minutes with "We can just go buy a new pair of glasses" didn't help the situation. Um... like Hell we will Sister! Those glasses are two hundred buckeroos!

If I hadn't had any success it would have been easier to walk away. But because, surprisingly, I was able to reach the lens (and lots of other weird random shit) I would keep getting encouraged, however briefly, only to become completely crestfallen every time I lost my hold on it... watching the lens fall back even further into this casing. Of course I was able to successfully remove everything else lodged in the casing... sheet of stickers, chopstick connectors, and a yoplait lid. I could reach the lens and slowly drag it up the side countless times... but... I could not slide it out far enough to reach it with my fingertips.

It didn't help matters that I knew with every failed attempt that I was probably scratching the lens beyond usability.

I wanted to scream and throw up my hands. It was all I could do not to be swearing in front of the kids (I didn't). There were more than a few moments when I just wanted to cry... it was so frustrating... and stressful. It was taking more sustained concentration that anything I can ever remember doing.

And I was doing it in a trapped, hot, location... with my kids!!

I mean, seriously, what was the goddamn point?!!... I was just going to have to suck it up and accept defeat and pony up the $200 for a new pair!!

Why did I have to put them on the console table?!! I'm such an idiot!!! Why couldn't it have been Mr F who did this so I could just hate him for it?!!!

While on the floor it came to me that what I needed was something sticky so that I wouldn't keep losing my grip on the lens. And that I needed something sticky so that once I started sliding it out of the crevice I could grasp it between two sticky ends and slowly maneuver it out. I needed something long and thin and sticky. I decided I needed to get home and try one last thing before I gave up... chopsticks with their ends covered in rubber cement.

As soon as I got them in there I knew immediately that I was on to something. I could get the lens and drag it up out of the crevise! But... I dropped it MANY times. Then, after 20 more minutes, I DID IT.


$200 not spent... It only cost me about 20 years off my life expectancy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This Has Been One Of The Worst Days Of My Life And It's Not Over Yet

I'm currently tracking down rubber cement and chopsticks.

If it works I am a goddamn genius!

Details (and pictures!) to come.

P.S. Mr F... I am not making dinner tonight.

P.P.S. Pick up some liquor. (Seriously. I am not joking.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Operation Little Woman

Nope, I'm not talking about weight loss.

I'm talking about my on going mission to fill my freezer with food for Mr F to eat while we're gone. I don't know why I'm doing it... it's not like he expects it... I guess I don't want him to waste too much money on take out or groceries he'll never end up cooking.

Plus, I don't know, I guess I do care that he'll have to come home and eat something totally random by himself every night.

So I have settled on things that Mr F can just put in the fridge to thaw at the beginning of the week and can cook up on the George Foreman. I've been buying the big family packs of meat and chicken when it goes on sale and dividing them into individual bags for easy thawing.

As of now I have 4 marinated chicken breasts, 5 hamburger patties & 9 pork chops in various marinades. I've got rolls in there too. I told him I'm not worrying about sides... he's happy to have his "sides" be potato chips so why waste my time and effort figuring anything else out?

I also made a dozen mini baked french toast "muffins". All he's got to do it microwave them for 30 seconds and he's good to go.

Next week I'm going to make up another batch of the BBQ pulled chicken and some burritos. The beauty of doing all this is that he can eat them when he wants with little effort and nearly no cost... or not. If he ends up eating pizza and Mc Donald's every night... whatever... everything is frozen and nothing is wasted.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Money Well Spent

Every year for my birthday I get a few birthday checks. I don't know if I can say what I usually spend it on... but it's a safe bet that it just goes into the bank and toward some bills. This year, for the first time ever, I have actually taken that money and spent it on myself.

This year I was fortunate enough to receive $250.00

I went to Sear's with the intention of returning all the whacky bathing suits and I did that... but I also got these wedge sandals for $19.99...

I kept the blue skirted suit... forgive me... but Mr F basically said I looked fat in the retro one (in a nice way). The blue suit (which he also said looked better in person and the blue goes more than it seemed in the pictures in case you were wondering) was $68.00

Then I went to Old Navy because they are having a 1/2 off on all men's clothing and Mr F needed some underwear (hop to my peeps... for real... 1/2 off of EVERYTHING). That's when I discovered that mini skirts are back in style. People, I was made for mini skirts. It's my perfect look. Believe it.
So I got these two outfits (skirts $19.50, camp shirt $19.50... which fits like it was sewn for me, 70s style tank $15)..

Now, I know, that the 70s shirt is kind of maternity looking...

but I don't care because I love this detail....

and I can wear it with a mini skirt and that makes me feel like I am about 12 years younger than I am.

Then I had to make a return at Target and buy some diapers. I got this outfit (which looks WAY better in person... it is all tissue weight and kind of hard to see whats what on the bed)...

shirt $9.99 (plus the same one in pale ochre) skirt $9.99 (it's a faux wrap)

I also got this tank for $8 (and one in brown)...

The skirt is from Dillard's $29.00 it hits below the knee and looks really good with the new shoes.

Grand total $237
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