Soup's On!

On a day like today when it is freakishly cold outside, I'm always looking for quickish soup recipes to warm the tummy.

Here are a couple that we love and that take the chill off:

Country Cheddar Soup

2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 C. chopped carrot

1/2 C. chopped onion

1/2 C. chopped celery

5 Tbsp. flour

4 C. chicken broth

3 C. shredded cheddar cheese

12 oz. can of evaporated milk

Freshly ground pepper

In large saucepan melt butter. Add carrot, onion and celery. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until the veggies are tender. Sprinkle the veggies with flour, adding it 1 Tbsp. at a time, stirring until the flour is blended in. Add chicken broth to the saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat, add the shredded cheese, stirring with a large whisk until the cheeses is melted. Slowly add evaporated milk, stirring until the mixture is well blended and heated through. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. I also garnish with crumbled bacon--cause I can! :) Makes 6-8 servings.

Creamy Potato Soup

This is a soup recipe that I grew up with. One of my favorites...

Peeled, sliced potatoes (I usually figure 1 large potato per person that I am serving)

1/2 C. diced onion

1/2 C. diced carrot

1/2 C. diced celery

1/2 tsp. salt

Cook potatoes in just enough water to cover. Once potatoes have cooked, do not drain--add 1 can of cream of chicken soup. Stir to combine and cook on medium-heat until heated through. Serve. I garnish with crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese and fresh ground black pepper. You could also garnish with sour cream and chive or green onions. (I have on occasion frozen the left overs and then reheated them in the crock pot later and it worked very well.)

For more great ideas, tips and recipes head on over to Rocks in My Dryer.

B-b-b-baby It's C-c-cold Outside

This morning we woke up to a balmy -18 degrees with a warm northeastern breeze that brings our windchill to -36 degrees. Yes, below zero.

And to quote one of Princess Pigtail's favorite children's books, Madeline, "And that is all there is. There isn't any more."


I'll Be Loving You (Forever)

Will the madness never end? I'm so excited for this big announcement! Excuse me while I go dig for back issues of Bop and Tiger Beat...Oh, and I think I've still got some posters in a box somewhere...

Further proving that we now are in the full blown process of resuscitating the 80's. Tomorrow I will be working on "dubbing" a mix tape of all my favorites and practicing my Aquanet/Mall bang technique.

The Complete Mommy Meltdown

It has been one of those days. Princess Pigtails has been a bit of a hand full for me today. My parents were here over the weekend and we had a great time. But it's Monday now and I'm tired. Princess Pigtails is adjusting to having just me to entertain her and in comparison to the whole complement of adults around this weekend--I'm boring. And I feel boring, so I can't really blame her.

Then at the end of lunch, I went to the kitchen (from the dining room where our table is) to get a cloth to wipe the peanut buttery hands of the precious Princess. I came back to the dining room to her "drawing circles" with her fork on the table. I can't say that I handled it very well. At all. I completely lost it. There were lots of tears and angry words and more tears. Did I mention circles in the finish on the table? With a fork?

Now that I have had time to reflect and calm down, I'm reminded of the characteristics of our Heavenly Father especially His patience with us--

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. " Psalm 86:15 (emphasis mine)

The sinner in me is suddenly reminded of my sinful nature. My precious princess did not intentionally mar the table. She is only 2 years old. Yet my frustration and anger consumed me immediately. And unlike my gracious Savior, I was not quick to forgive.

Yet, despite my behavior this afternoon I am forgiven. My sins are cast away. Praise God. I have so much to learn as I seek to be more like Him. Thankfully He is patient and slow to anger.

And if you have any suggestions on how to treat the scratches on my table, please let me know.


Side Order of Random

A few of the random thoughts that are running on a loop in my head:

1. Okay, so for the last week it has been a range of balmy temps--today it was 6 degrees, Saturday it was -2 and I would really like to know how much longer is winter going to last? Because the window on how much longer I can even somewhat get my coat fastened is quickly closing. And then what? I also could do without the full-on preggers waddle on more snow and ice.

2. How many meals do I need in the freezer for when the baby comes?

3. Why is it that you can go to the grocery store and drop $150 on Friday and by Monday have a list of 5 or 6 items (or more) you need before the weekend? I mean seriously. Am I just a bad list maker or do other people have this problem?

On a side note, I also must say that I had a conversation with my chiropractor on Monday regarding the neccessity of belt loops on maternity pants (what purpose do they really serve? Otherwise to use as a means to "hike" up the pants. Are you really likely to wear a belt?) ....he has now been educated. I feel so proud--as if I have done a public service on behalf of pregnant women everywhere.

Y'all can thank me later.


For the Love of Shopping

Let me just say that I love Land's End. My obsession began when I purchased a diaper bag similar to this prior to the arrival of Princess. I have not been disappointed with my purchase and the quality is superior at a reasonable price.

Well, in the short 2 1/2 years since that original purchase, I have bought all sorts of items such as these or this or that or the other thing. I have unofficially begun to refer to this as the Winter of Land's End. Seriously, in the month of November and the first part of December, the UPS man delivered no less than 1 box/week from my favorite e-tailer.

I had a new experience during my shopping frenzy this fall. For a couple of different reasons I had to contact their customer service center. In this day and age of minutes/hours/days of automated prompts and loops of cheesy music while you wait to actually speak to a live person, on the occasions that I had to call Land's End, imagine my surprise when a REAL LIVE person answered within one or two rings. No automated greetings, no "press 5, then 2, then 3888993383" and best of all no waiting to talk to a honest to goodness live person who was able to assist me without argument or in depth pleading on my part to have my request met.

Oh, Land's End how I love thee!

And then today, in the mail, I received a gift card from my favorite e-tailer, simply because when I originally ordered these toasty mittens for Princess they were not available in her size. (I was later able to snatch up a pair in her size, and they honored my original free shipping code that I had used...) How's that for making sure I stay a customer for life? And publicly declare my love!

So, please go on over to here and check out their Winter's End Savings Event. Pick up something adorable for yourself like this or this...


Keeping up the Caloric Intake

Since it had been at least two days since I tossed the final remnants of holiday treats friends had brought over, yesterday post-afternoon snooze, Princess and I made cookies. Have I mentioned before her love for cooking (both in real and imaginary terms)? She's crazy about it. Anyhow, I pulled out the goods for the household favorite around here and we whipped up a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies. I thought that I would share the recipe and you let me know what you think--I truly believe they live up to their name! I would love to say that it's a old family recipe handed down through the generations, but I can't.

Here we go--recipe courtesy of The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.

Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened (I use butter)
1/4 cup shortening (yes, Crisco--and save the comments, I don't want to hear about it!)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.
Combine four, soda, and salt; add to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes. cool slightly on cookie sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


The One in Which There was Sputtering and Clanking

I can hardly believe that it has been nearly a month since I bored you to tears with random details of my life, but, alas, it has and I feel the need to get back to the blogging world.
Happy New Year to each of you! I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season. We certainly had a great festive one ourselves. On the great tour of the Midwest we were able to see lots of family on both sides, some dear old friends and partake in lots of very yummy food. Most importantly we were able to participate in worship and the celebration of the Reason for the Season as a family.

In general we had good traveling weather--which I know there are safety concerns, etc. but good weather (translation--conditions that allow to at least adhere to the speed limit) is crucial when traveling with a potty training two year old. On a side note, I am absolutely uncertain how anyone traveled with kids any distance greater than two hours before the invention of the portable DVD player. (Sshh! Is it just me, or do you hear the angels singing the Hallelujah chorus?)

Princess was so good, considering all the commotion of traveling, gift exchanges, random schedules. And while she did not make the duration of the trip without a "potty accident"--of the couple that she had none were in the confines of the truck, thankfully! Did I mention the last leg of the tour was an eight hour drive?

Anywhoo, it's always good to be home and begin the migration back to some routine and order. Even if it means laundry, cooking and dishes. It's good. And the transition back to normalcy was going so well until yesterday.

Yesterday, while Princess Pigtails was devouring (and I mean DEVOURING) her breakfast an absolutely scarily horrendous noise started coming out the heat vents. The noise which resembled a lawn mower in a blender was soon followed by a smell which I can only describe as remarkably similiar to the stench of the black cloud that surrounded the last 1983 Dodge Omni I saw. Any way, after several phone calls to Hubs--which involved holding the phone to the vents and running up and down the stairs to the furnace--we determined that someone should be called to come and look at it--because it was obvious that my fix of just shutting the furnace off by flipping the breaker was not going to be the long term solution. It was 18 degrees here and wicked winds--balmy compared to the high of 4 degrees on Wednesday. So, at 4:45 yesterday the repair man left and we were back on our way to the tropical (relative) 68 degrees that we normally keep it...

And I must say that Hubs was a darling to come home from work and be here with us. I really don't enjoy having to deal with the contractors. Especially when something is broken--because I spend most of the time on the phone relaying what the contractor is saying or asking Hubs questions that the service person is asking me. Apparently, the meaning of the highly specific terms of "thingy wahs" and "doodads" are not a part of their skilled training.

Hopefully, that is the last service call of 2008. And may yours be incident free as well! Happy New Year!