Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring tiptoes in

Last night we had a terrific storm. The kind that keeps you up with lightning, thunder, wind, hail, and prayers that the tornadoes will stay away. But what a glorious morning followed today.

The sun is bright and I was amazed at how many trees are in bloom...the Bradford Pears, Oklahoma Redbuds, and Tulip Magnolias are just beautiful. I'll have to take some pictures soon. And there are daffodils and tulips bursting with color. No matter how much I love the winter, spring never fails to amaze me. And now I'm missing the dogwoods and azaleas which will be blooming in Asheville soon...

So today is a laundry day...which I guess is good since I can't really do any productive "spring cleaning". I think I'll share my laundry journey while we've been "in transition".

I discovered the best thing about doing laundry in the TLF (temporary living facility on base) while we were there. If you have a laundry room with four full-size washers and dryers, you can do all your family's clothes at once. And then it's done. So I asked Brent if we could increase the size of our laundry room to add at least another washer and dryer. He laughed at me. But I think it's a great idea. ;)

When we moved into this apartment, I was so happy to have a washer & dryer in the unit, because as much as I love getting it all done at once, it was a little difficult to transport laundry and three children to the laundry area down the breezeway of the TLF during the day. So I saved laundry for an evening or weekend when Brent was around. (But who likes spending evening/weekend time on laundry? Not me.)

So now my challenge is the opposite. I can spend all day Monday (our laundry day) doing laundry. And I mean all day long. (And I'm not even letting time lapse between loads due to being preoccupied with other stuff.) The machines here are the stacked kind and they are teensy tiny. (I think they are probably similar to the kind my college roomies and I had in our first apartment sophomore year. But I don't remember having to do tons of loads then.) I have to split Brent's clothes and my clothes into two or three loads each...and then each child's separately. Normally, I do the children's clothes together. But the dryer takes forever. Forever. Which is the reason it takes all day long.

If I had a clothesline in the back yard, I might just hang some sheets on it right now...because between the wind here and the gorgeous sunshine today, I think the outdoors might just beat this dryer.

It's a day for taking a nap outside under a flowering tree. Is spring arriving where you are yet?

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Perfect Mascara

Over a year ago, I posted this post about my search for the perfect mascara. In the last year, I have tried three different mascaras and I have found the perfect one for me!

The following mascaras were recommended in that post from last year:
  • Great Lash by Maybelline (the famous pink tube!)
  • Dior Show
  • Lancome Defincils
  • Trish McEvoy BLACK lash curling mascara
I did not try the Trish McEvoy mascara...but only because I just now saw the comment! Silly me.

The Great Lash mascara I have tried several times ever since high school...and it just doesn't work for me.

I really liked how Lancome's Defincils lengthened my lashes...but I like a mascara that lengthens and gives more I was a bit dissapointed. But if you have thick lashes that need more length, I would give this one a try!

When I bought the Lancome mascara, I shopped during their promotion, so I also got a trial size mascara (great for an on-the-go makeup bag by the way!) of Lancome's Hypnose Custom Volume Mascara along with Cils Booster XL Super Enhancing Mascara Base. I really liked the results of using both products together. The booster is a white base that goes on first, followed by the Hypnose. The only drawback for me was the extra step. Not a huge deal...but I would rather just have one mascara that thickens and lengthens. (For the record, I did try the Hypnose by itself, but I didn't like the results as much.)

And then, well, there's DiorShow. It thickens and lengthens beautifully but it's still "soft" lashes don't feel so stiff that they could break. It rinses off easily in warm water. If I get it on my eyelids while applying, it comes off easily without smearing. The applicator rarely if ever gets clumpy so your lashes don't get clumpy. And the best thing? It smells good. I don't know what it smells like, but all other mascaras I've ever used have that same "mascara smell" and DiorShow doesn't smell like that. Funny, I know. But I like the smell. The only drawback for me is that they don't sell it where I I either pay shipping or buy it when I'm in a "bigger city". But that's okay.

So thankful for the tip, Marianne! Maybe I'll try the Trish McEvoy for fun sometime...but for now, I'm using DiorShow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Just a quick recipe

since, after all, it is Wednesday.

This one is easy-peasy and perfect for when you need to make an easy dessert but want it to seem more special than "just a pan of brownies".

I think my college roommates and I came up with this one. At least, college is the first time I remember making these. But they are great to have in your pantry (just two main things to keep on hand) for last minute baking. Or for at 8:30 pm when you're just craving something sweet to eat.

Andes Mint Brownies

1 box of brownie mix, including ingredients listed on the box
1 package of individually wrapped Andes Mints

1. Prepare and cook brownies according to the instructions on the box. While brownies are baking, unwrap Andes mints (amount will depend on size of baking pan) and set aside.
2. Remove brownies from oven and immediately place mints on top of the brownies. Allow mints to melt and then lightly smooth the surface. (Otherwise you will see the Andes motif on top!) Place brownies in refrigerator until melted chocolate hardens. Cut brownies and serve.

You could also serve these while they are gooey and melty and warm. Wouldn't that be terrific with vanilla ice cream!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A New Feature!

You may notice that I now have a list of recipes I have shared here with links to connect you to them quickly. I have been wanting to do this for awhile...not only to make them easy to find for you...but also so I can see which recipes I've shared because, well, as you can see, I've shared a lot.

Go through the list and find an old (or new!) one for tonight! And I'd love to know if you enjoy it!

P.S. Please let me know if a link to a certain recipe isn't working...thanks!

Friday, March 21, 2008

In Progress

Tomorrow we move out of the TLF (temporary living facility) on base to an apartment while we wait for the house to be finished. This is a bit unexpected (at least from our initial planning back in December) since we really thought we would be in the house by now. I guess that's what happens in the coldest winter in 15 years here. I think the apartment will be a little bit larger than what we've been in for the past few months...but completely that will be interesting. (I'm thinking about the sheets, towels, toaster, microwave, furniture, cookware, utensils, etc. that are packed away somewhere that I don't have access to right now.) Thankfully, some friends are willing to share some of their extras with us...

Ultimately, I know that this time is short...and that when we move in, it will all be worth it! (I tell myself that every day!) I'm just thankful that the kiddos don't seem phased by this "in between time". Wish I could say the same for myself!

This picture is about a week old...the brick is almost done now...currently, the front of the house is almost all bricked (only the far left was unfinished yesterday) and the right side of the house is about half-way done. They have begun painting inside...but it still looks like it will be the very end of April...but more likely May before we move in.

I really thought we would be moved in before this cutie turned six months old...oh well. Doesn't she look cute in this outfit? It was a gift to Hadleigh from Aunt Katy...and well, by the time Hadleigh could fit in it, it was we've been enjoying Madeleine in it! She goes after that little ducky too...all overalls should come with attached toys!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cafe Cappuccino

This is one of my favorite breakfast places in the world. It has the best pancakes ever. They are the size of your plate. You only need one. And it is almost too much to eat. (Their omelettes are good too, but I can't go without a pancake.)

Cafe Cappuccino is in Waco, TX where I went to college. I have fond memories of going here with a group of dear friends after a morning final exam...of waking up to a rainy Saturday morning, discovering Steppin' Up was cancelled (it's a huge Baylor service project within the community) and getting pancakes with my best memories of taking Brent there for the first time!

I have gotten to go a few times in the last few years when I visit my sister, because she always remembers how much I love it and we work it in to our visit! Those have been some of my favorite times there...just spending time with Katy and enjoying breakfast together. We love to order two different of pancakes and then split them in half to share! My favorites include the banana pecan, mixed berry and nut, chocolate chip...but by far, my favorite is their gingerbread pancakes!

This recipe doesn't quite meet my Cafe Cappuccino expectations, but it's still yummy!

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 1/3 cup flour

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup dark amber beer (stout)

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 egg

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 Tbsp. molasses

1. Whisk together dry ingredients. Combine liquid ingredients in a separate bowl; whisk until slightly frothy. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just blended.

2. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. batter onto lightly greased griddle. Cook over low, even heat to avoid browning too quickly. Cook until covered with bubbles and edges turn brown. Turn and cook the other side until golden brown, about two minutes.

Yields 1 dozen four-inch pancakes

Monday, March 17, 2008

Just so you know...

The next time that you wake up to a thunderstorm (oh how I miss the days when that meant I could stay in bed and be cozy and linger over a book)
and you get the kids all dressed and ready to go and one by one take them to the car
and you set off to run some errands and then go to the children's museum/playspace in town

make sure that you also call a friend to ask for a recommendation for a dry cleaner since you're new in town; and mention what you're planning to do.
That way, she can let you know that the children's museum/playspace is usually closed on Mondays.

And when you're driving in the pouring rain and you hear a funny noise
and then think it's probably just the rain.
and then the noise goes away so you forget about it.
And then you go to Sonic to buy cinnasnacks for a fun rainy drive to distract your four and two year olds from their disappointment that they can't play at the museum/playspace.
Make sure to ask for plenty of napkins because the cinnamon part of the cinnasnacks is really messy (that's why you ignored the frosting in the bottom of the bag in the first place.)

And then when you drive by the mail box at the Post Office, be careful to not run over the curb like you do EVERY time.
But make sure that if you do, there is a nice older gentleman nearby to tell you that you have a flat tire. But not the tire you ran over the curb with, so who knows how long you have been driving on a flat.

Then be very thankful that due to the thunderstorms, your husband's flights have been cancelled so he can come and change your tire.
And that someone could fix the tire very quickly for $10 since your baby is 45 minutes past her scheduled feeding and it's also lunchtime now.

Then, go home (forget about the dry cleaning this time) and stay warm and dry.

And enjoy the peace of having three (I know THREE!) sleeping children who are sleeping at the same time. (That's two days in a row for your oldest!!!)

Hope your Monday has been wonderful but less "eventful" than mine!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An appetizer to share

I was trying to think of a fun recipe to share...but since Jan. 1, we've been in the TLF (temporary living facility) on base while we wait for our house to be completed. (We're still waiting, by the way!) There is a full kitchen which is nice, but without a stocked pantry, it is hard to cook much. It's amazing how many recipes call for flour or chicken stock or dried parsley or balsamic vinegar. And there is just not much pantry room.

It was great to discover "The Speedy Gourmet" when we arrived. It's similar to Super Suppers or any of the other chains that feature assemble-your-own meals. Since everything is prepared, I can just thaw and cook. It has been a lifesaver while we're between homes.

Needless to say, I haven't done any fun cooking since Christmas. But I'll share a favorite appetizer that I grew up having on New Year's Eve. (I've recently begun to make it more often!) It's really easy and so yummy. You really have to resist eating it all by yourself. At least, I do.

Gouda Croissants

1 package refrigerated croissant dough (Pillsbury)
1 round Gouda Cheese

1. Separate croissants into triangles. Arrange four triangles to form a four-pointed star, sealing edges together. Repeat with remaining four triangles.

2. Cut gouda in half, so that you have two circles. Place each circle in the center of dough. Fold and stretch dough to cover cheese, sealing all edges tightly.

3. Bake at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes, until golden. (Usually this cooking time will leave the croissants a little doughy. Cook for a few more minutes until the crust reaches desired crispness.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Snacks and other random stuff...

It's almost 3 pm and that is when the afternoon munchies hit me. I love an afternoon snack. My all time favorite is hot tea and scones. I love nutella on graham crackers. And if there is any kind of leftover cake/muffin/cookie/pie/cobbler, well, the more leftovers, the better.

As you can see from the picture above, my children LOVE ice cream. I'm guilty there too. Very guilty. Especially at night. Moose Tracks. Yum. Mocha Mudslide. That was last night.

But, I am trying to be better at being healthy. Trying. I've been eating dried fruits...I really love dried apricots. (They're so good dipped in white chocolate...but I digress.) And if I just drink a big glass of water, my appetite is curbed...but not my tastebuds.

And I am so much more laid-back with Nathanael than I was with Hadleigh. Seriously, she just recently started playing at the park without me hovering near all the "open" areas. But if you look at my buddy in the picture above, he is climbing a ladder in a climbing wall that is at least six feet tall. He did great all by himself until he was almost at the top and declared he was "stuck". And I just sat to the side and watched him. Of course, Grampa was close at hand...and able to get him unstuck. But I must say I am becoming braver.

(These are pictures from our time at the beach while visiting Mimi and Grampa. More to come in the days ahead!)

Don't forget to share your snacks!

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