Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Over-achiever, for the first time in my life!

Hello readers!  I haven’t been writing as frequently as I’ve been wanting to; life has just had other plans for me.  I hope all seven of you who are still with me haven’t missed me too much :).

Last week I was an overachiever: I made TWO crock pot meals on back to back nights.  Both were happily scarfed by O and Tots, and I’m pretty sure they made it to the “please-make-it-again” list.

Wednesday, I made barbeque beef for barbeque beef sandwiches.  Along with being nearly effortless to put together, I already had all of the ingredients in my kitchen (which rarely happens!):

2lbs beef roast
¼ C apple cider vinegar
2 C ketchup
1 medium onion (I actually had an onion on hand, but didn’t want to take the time to cut it before work, so I used several good shakes of minced onion)
¼ C honey (it called for molasses, but my molasses was low and I didn’t want to wait for it to drain into my measuring cup)
Soy sauce (it called for Worcestershire sauce, but turns out I didn’t have at in my fridge.  Oops.  I substituted)
1/8 C brown sugar
Dry mustard
Mix all of your wet ingredients together in a bowl, and then dump it over your roast in your crock pot.  I cooked it on low for about 8 hours.  When it was done, I took it out and let it sit for a few minutes.  I shredded it with two forks and then put it back in the crock pot.  I could’ve left it at that, but I like my barbeque beef really barbeque-ey, so I added a little bit of my favorite sauce.  It was perfect.

The next night I made meatball subs, and it was SO much easier than I thought it would be.  I actually threw it together over my lunch hour.
2lb ground beef
½ C Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs
20 oz of your favorite spaghetti sauce
Again, super simple.  Mix the ground beef with the eggs and bread crumbs, and put a little salt and pepper in as well.  Mold your beef into meatballs (this recipe makes about 24) and then arrange in your crock pot (I had to use both of mine).  I made sure my meatballs weren’t touching, and then I poured the sauce over them.  I cooked them on high for about 5 hours, and then put them on hoagie buns.  Three to a bun was just about perfect!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Seven bizarre things about my life right now.

I stopped to think about it this morning, and I realized I’m sort of at a weird place in my life right now.  Here are seven bizarre things going on with me:

               1. I’ve had terrible writer’s block since the end of December.

                          2. My dog is balding at a ridiculous rate.  He’s always struggled with allergies and itching, but   the last two years have brought patchy hair-loss with them.  The poor guy is miserable.  He should only be about 21 in dog years (at the top of his game!), but I think maybe he’s aging at an accelerated rate.  He might actually be in his late forties; he’s also started gaining weight.  I feel a mid-life crisis coming on, but I’m not sure what that looks like for a dog.  Is he going to start hitting on younger bitches (boom—dog pun!)?  Trying to run with the young pups?  Staying out late and howling at the moon (the dog puns just keep coming!)?

              3. My son has started to expand his vocabulary, but “no” is still the clearest (and usually, most emphatic) word he says.  As a result, it has nearly disappeared completely from my vocabulary, because by the time he goes to bed, I feel like if I hear it one more time (even if it’s out of my own mouth), I will lose it.

                       4. O also has become obsessed with watching basketball on tv.  I don’t know how this happened; it’s not like he put together a bracket or has any money on these games (that we know of), but every time he walks past the tv, he demands that we turn on “ball.”
                       5.I eat healthier when I eat out for lunch rather than going home.  Does this ever happen to you?  I’m not kidding; one day last week, I came home and ate a plain tortilla, steamed stir-fry veggies, a spoon-full of peanut butter, a couple of saltine crackers, a bite of cold barbequed beef, and another plain tortilla.

                   6. I’m jealous of every bride-to-be who gets to use Pinterest to plan her wedding (seriously, why couldn’t it have come along 5 years ago?)
                    7. I bought Justin Timberlake’s new cd.  If you told this to the 21-year-old me (or hell, even the 24-year-old me), she would’ve laughed in your face.  The 13-year-old me, however, is grinning in her braces and giving me a nerdy two thumbs up as she tapes up her N*Sync posters to her ugly green bedroom walls.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crock Pot Cheesey Rice

Although I didn't get this post up last week, I did manage to fit a crock pot recipe in.

I've always thought of my crock pot as my go-to appliance for making convenient meals (meat, veggies, liquid and voila! A healthy meal all in one) or delicious main courses (like beef stew, and roast, and... well, this is why I'm forcing myself to use the crock pot once a week.  To start thinking outside of the stew-meat category).  I never really thought of using it for a side dish or dessert, until this week.

For two years now, Thursdays are our designated night for dinner with friends. There are 3 families and we rotate houses and responsibilities.  Typically, the host makes the main dish and the guests bring a dessert or a side-dish; not only does this give us something to look forward to when we're hating our lives on Monday, it's also nice to have just one night a week that we don't have to come up with the whole meal.  In the two years we've been doing this, two babies have been born (O included), new jobs have been celebrated, and many other major (and minor) changes have been embraced; it's just a great way for us to keep up with our friends.

This week, the main course was fajitas (and yes, I'm pretty sure at least one person pronounced it "fuh-jee-tus" at least once), so I decided to make some rice.  Like most crock pot recipes, this was as easy as measuring ingredients and dumping them into the pot:

2 cans cheddar cheese soup (although I think the fiesta cheese or nacho cheese would have been good too)
1 cup water
2 cups chunky salsa or picante sauce
1 1/4 cups uncooked regular long-grain white rice

I literally dumped these things together, stirred, and cooked it on high for 4 hours.  If you have a longer time that you'll need to be out of the house, you can cook it on low for 7-8 hours.

I thought it was pretty good, but a little sticky.  I don't know if I would use both cans of cheese soup next time, I think I might stick to one can and add more salsa or picante. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Crazy night in the Hurricane home

It’s only Wednesday and it’s been a rough week already.  Like, a bottle of wine for supper and a Jack on the rocks for dessert rough.  It’s nights like these that I’m grateful for the low-key life parenthood has bestowed upon us; O goes to bed and Tots watches some tv show while I lose myself in a world of Pinterest and décor blogs.  For an hour or so I can leave my worries and stresses behind and let my mind wander wherever it wants to.

Five years ago, a night like this would’ve looked totally different.  21-year-old Jessie would’ve come home, called Tots, and told him to meet her at the bar ‘cause she’s drinking her supper tonight.  Today’s Jessie is old enough (dare I say, mature enough?) to know that tomorrow won’t be pretty if she doesn’t at least eat something with her booze-dinner.  In fact, I’m wise enough to know that if I have more than five drinks, I might not even see tomorrow-- at least not until well after early afternoon.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Picture frame redo

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything crafty, and since I’ve been so focused on getting my bedroom put together, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for any crafts not geared toward my bedroom.  I kind of wanted to save this one to share with you in June, but I’m just too excited about it.

I won’t go into too many details right now about my bedroom re-do, but I will tell you that a main focal point involves four picture frames.  Because I’m on a budget, I didn’t want to shell out a lot of money for these.  I set out to Gordmans; if you’re looking for some great, affordable décor, you should check it out.

I was looking for something a little different.  Everything in my room is so dark, and I decided it was time to get something to lighten up the walls and break up the drabness.  No more black picture frames, no more dark wood.  When I got there, I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted for less than $15.  Like I mentioned before, I needed four of these suckers, and like hell was I going to pay $60.  I kept looking and found 4 frames for $5 each; the only problem was the color—an easy fix.

I brought them home and got to work.  All I needed was some white paint and an old sock.

I turned the sock inside-out and dipped it in the white paint.  Then I smeared the excess paint off of the sock so it was barely wet.  I streaked it across the frame in the direction wood grain would go. 
This was after one coat; not too bad.

I really liked the way this looked, but when I held it up to my walls, it sort of blended in.  I did a couple more coats of white, but it was a little to gray.  I rummaged downstairs in the land of leftover paint (I always save my left over paint for such occasions) and found a really great cream color.  A little bit of a yellow tone was just what these frames needed.

I did one coat of cream, and was finally satisfied.

I’m pretty happy with the results—I actually like these better than the $15 frames I was eyeing.  A year ago, if I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I probably would’ve held off on buying and gone online or shelled out a lot of money… But when you’re on a budget, if you can’t find what you want, sometimes you have to settle for close enough and then put a little work into it.