Friday, March 30, 2012

creamy potato grill packets

We gave into the extremely warm temperatures yesterday and grilled out.  It was the first cook out of the season, and it's still March!  Craziness.  We have the air conditioning on.  This is also crazy.  And kind of annoying, for me.  You can keep your 86 degrees.  I like 60 degrees in March.  I'm afraid I will be a melted puddle come July if this is a precursor to summer!

But using the weather as an excuse to grill out almost makes it worth it.  We love to grill, and do it often in warm weather.  I especially love it because it means Brian shares in the cooking.  I'm not sure if you know this, but only men are allowed to grill.  It's a law.  I know, because I tried once, and I got arrested.  Or something equally dramatic.  I know, I just set back the woman's movement 20 years.  But hello, any excuse to get my husband to pitch in for dinner is fine in my book.

Ok, now I will actually talk about the food we made!  Kind of.  First I just want to say that the first time I had these potatoes was right after Rowan was born and our friends Andrew and Emily came bearing a full dinner (that included these potatoes), gifts for Rowan, and toys for Fletcher.  Oh!  And champagne for mama!  I remember the dinner so well, because it was so so unexpected and so so sweet.  If you don't know what to get a new mama, take over an entire dinner and then cook it for her.  She will love you forever.  Anyway, Andrew is a great cook and these potatoes were so insanely delicious, I asked him for the recipe right then and there.
{Emily took this picture of me and Rowan on their visit.  It's one of my favorites.  I still can't stop kissing her!}

Ok!  Now I will actually get to the MAKING of the potatoes!  If you would like to grill your own amazingly creamy and cheesy potatoes, you will need the following:

4-5 waxy potatoes (I used red, but yellow, purple, or fingerlings would work)
1 medium onion
3 T fresh thyme (or rosemary, or basil, or... any favorite herb really)
3/4 c. mayonnaise
3/4 c. greek yogurt
1 1/2 c. Parmesan
cooking spray
pepper to taste

serves 4-6

After you scrub your potatoes, slice them very thinly.
Do the same with your onion.
Throw all of this into a big bowl, and add in the mayo. 
Now add your greek yogurt.  The original recipe doesn't include greek yogurt, but I cut the mayo and add in the yogurt to make it a bit more healthy.  And it is JUST as creamy.
Stir in your cheese.  I have also tried gorgonzola, goat cheese, and cheddar to great success!  It's cheese.  It's all gonna taste GREAT.
Now add in the thyme.  Like I said in the ingredient list, you can use any favorite herb here.  I also really love using fresh rosemary.  So good!  But thyme is a little more quiet and unexpected, so I do go back to it for this dish most often.  Just slide the leaves off the stems straight into your bowl.
Add in some ground pepper to taste.
Stir it all together well.  Tear off a loooong piece of aluminum foil, and spray it thoroughly with cooking spray.  Or you could rub it with olive oil if you prefer.  Plop on some potato mixture.
Bring up the ends of the length of foil together.
And roll it down.
Fold up the ends like you are wrapping a present, and then roll those tightly, too.
And there is your foil packet!  You will need to make about 2 to 3 separate packets with a recipe this big.  We also double wrap them, or they can get a bit leaky.
I didn't even step outside to take a picture of this cooking on the grill!  Ooops.  But you'll want to grill it for about 30 minutes, flipping the packet halfway through.  Be careful!  It will be HOT.  When finished, let cool for a bit, and then pour into a big bowl, using a spatula to lightly scrape the foil.
That's it!  Pretty easy, and super delicious.  I get asked for the recipe every time I make these potatoes.  And I'm always changing up the ingredients, so I never can remember which recipe to give anyone.  So hopefully this covers all my bases.
{special thanks to Andrew for letting me take lots of liberties with his recipe!  not that I actually checked with him first of anything...}

Enjoy all the grilling out weather!  If the weather isn't warm where you are, maybe make some soup instead?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

right now

Right now I'm sitting in bed, cuddled up with an almost 4 year old boy, watching Curious George.  Well, I'm not really watching it, but he is.  I'm drinking a strong cup of coffee, and eating chocolate babka that my brother made.  Have you ever tried babka?  Because my only experience with babka is watching that Seinfeld episode about it.  It is decadently delicious, and I will have to go buy new pants today if I eat one more slice.
My brother is a seriously great cook and baker.  Seriously.

I have the door open from our bedroom to the sunroom, and I can see sunlight spilling in and I can smell just a hint of the wisteria that is in full riotous bloom in our backyard.  I have never seen anything like it!
Our household is more unpacked than not, and I can hear Rowan waking up happy.  So right now, life is good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

just when

Just when I think I can't possibly stand to unpack for one more minute.  Just when I think I will go insane because of sleepless nights and grumpy days from Rowan's teething.  Just when I think I am probably more grumpy than anyone else can bear.  Things get a little better.  I get in the rhythm of a new kitchen.  I notice that we have wisteria blooming in the yard.  A billion iris that will be blooming.  10 rose bushes that I might not kill.  Nieces distract adrift littles.  My sister-in-law takes everyone outside to blow bubbles.  My brother rakes out all the flowerbeds and then cooks and bakes like a mad man!  And I notice that Fletcher is happy.
I notice Rowan's antics trying to wear big brother's old rain boots that are way too small for him, but way too big for her.
And we all unwind and relax watching the littles become happy in their new home.
And a pizza party never hurts.  Especially homemade pizza with freshly homemade crust and homemade breadsticks made by my brother.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

unpacking is yuck

I'm about to tell you all about the most interesting subject right now, so perk up your ears (er, eyes?).  I'm about to tell you about unpacking!  It's not fun.  I remember back in college when it actually was fun.  Putting your clothes in rainbow order (yes, I did) and arranging your posters and cds just so.  Fun!  Not anymore.  When you go from 4 big boxes to 400, then it really loses its charm. 

We thought we were old pros at this packing and unpacking business.  But we've never really done it with the children around, so we were wrong.  We are not old pros.  We are babes stumbling around in the dark, bumping into each other, and tripping of all the crap we own.  And I thought anything would be better than one more day living out of a hotel.  I was wrong. 

But.  We are here, and we are happy to be here regardless of how the unpacking is going.  We are lucky ducks if our biggest problem is having too much stuff to unpack.  And we are double lucky to have lots of family pitching in to keep us from going completely mad.  My mom driving across the country with me and the littles, Brian's mom taking the train down from Chicago on a moment's notice to watch the kids, and now my brother, sister-in-law and nieces staying for a while to visit AND to help.  And all this help is keeping us afloat. 

And I just noticed!  It's Spring outside!  I didn't go outside for about 4 days, but sure enough, Spring happened while I was unpacking.  Here's a little Spring in our new backyard. 
The red bud is beautiful and thick everywhere, the azaleas are in full swing, and honeysuckle is opening up and lending its heady fragrance to the air.  We are in the middle of nowhere.  And it's lovely.

p.s.  Happy Birthday to my mom!  Love you dearly, my mama.  xoxo

Thursday, March 22, 2012

move in day!

Today is the day!  We're moving into our new home!  We are so excited to be living in a house again, we don't know what to do with ourselves.

Rowan is so excited that she took off her shirt and ate Nutella pancakes.
And Fletcher is so excited he took of his pants and started running!
This streaking gene must come from Brian.  Cause you should have seen what Brian did.  Don't worry.  I didn't take pictures.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

home sweet home

Everything is blue skies around here!
Only took us 6 straight days of searching.  That's not actually that bad, considering it is a house we will have to live in for the next 2 years.  A drop in the bucket.  My little family hung in there like champions.  And all the prayers, positive energy, and support really helped us ALL.  So THANK YOU.  You are awesome.

And I know you're dying for a peek of the house that we took such care in choosing, and I won't disappoint you!  These are from my cell phone again, so I'm SORRY.  I keep leaving my camera at the hotel.
living room {the lamps?  I'm in love.}
the family room.  {wood burning stove AND parquet floors?  yes please!}
cute kitchen
Pocket doors are really pretty, no?  And I am so super excited about this next one, people.
This is a massive sun-room off the master bedroom.  Which is cool in itself, but it's going to be my studio!  And it is already a pretty yellow color, so I am double excited.  Now I have no excuses about spreading out and getting some painting, sketching, and embroidery done.  And of course my etsy shop stuff.  Ok, I have 2 excuses.  Fletcher and Rowan.  But I'll squeeze in some time here and there. 

This is a gem of a house, and I'll share more when things settle down.  I have no idea how this one fell into our laps, but we feel so blessed to have it!  Let me tell you, Brian has workshop space galore, so he's a happy camper, too.  Thank you again for all the love and support, your positive energy kept me going.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

four generations

Last week we visited my Grandmama before our quest to the west. 
That is four generations of women right there!  And here are three generations with my Aunt Nell joining in.
My mom and aunt are the only girls in a family of 8 children, so you know.  They're tough stuff.  And Grandmama?  The mother of the 6 boys and 2 girls?  She's pretty amazing.  It was wonderful to see them, and we're planning another visit to the East again soon. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

a day off

We looked at one more house on Saturday.  It was our 6th day of walking into other people's houses, poking around, and wondering at their carpet or paint choices.  Seriously.  I'm no home decorating guru by a stretch, but how does peachy orange walls through an ENTIRE house strike you as a good idea? 

So after seeing that last house we took the rest of the weekend off.  It was glorious.  We wore our green on Saturday, and found a pretty nice parade nearby!
Hey, guess who's living near an Army base!  We are! 
Rowan won the contest for most beads and candy thrown to her.  But then she did the most clapping, smiling, and waving.  I think Fletcher would have won or at least tied, but this was his face for the people in the parade.
At least his socks were awesome.  He was pretty excited about the army tanks, but the rest was just ok, according to him.  We were kind of bummed about no bagpipers.  It just didn't feel right.  But we took what we could get!

After the parade and a quick lunch, Brian indulged me in a little trip to a trading post/antique store right on Rt. 66.  Living near Rt. 66 seems to mean living near a billion antique/thrift/trading posts.  I'm not complaining.  Rowan was not either, since she was further immersed in dead animals.  Which she apparently loves.  Don't look at me, I'm the vegetarian!
Excuse the blurry photo.  She took the hat off before I could adjust the camera.  I found this lovely yarn art, but much to Brian's relief, passed it over.  But he was tempted by the multiple juke boxes, and we both liked the Hoosier cabinet and old stove. 
I'll share what I bought when I get the chance to actually photograph them.  We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, playing, watching Yo Gabba Gabba on Netflix, watching the sun set, and the helicopter take off and land near us.
The neon hotel sign really pulls that sunset together, no?  And don't worry.  I'll update you on the epic quest for a decent house.  Soon.  Hopefully. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

hitting the wall

Hey!  Remember me?  I'm back to talk more about trying to find a house!  I just KNEW you'd be excited!  Ok, honestly, I'm just going to say a couple things on finding a house. 

1.  We haven't found "the one" yet.
2.  We're thisclose to settling for a house that isn't great.  Or good.  But just OK.
3.  We've hit the wall: where all the houses have run together, and we can't even remember which one was which.  Yes, we're hitting the wall.

I guess that was more than a couple of things.  But!  For your viewing pleasure, I have culled the depths of my cell phone for more travel pictures!

Can you believe that house?  It's a historic home that has been converted into a rest stop.  They have kept most of it authentic and give tours.  I don't know and don't remember where it was, but I do remember it was in Kentucky.  It was beautiful.  The littles laid down on the steps.  I guess all that sitting in the car demanding crackers and juice and books and songs really wears a person out.

The littles like their waffles when we're traveling, but they really like Cracker Barrel.  I used to be pretty snobby about Cracker Barrel until I had children.  And now I know better!  Fried stuff with cheese?  They got it!  Breakfast for dinner?  They got it!  Extra biscuits to go with your dumplins?  They got em!  A bunch of junk treasure to look at and keep the kids busy?  They got it!  We love Cracker Barrel now.  And Rowan ADORED the deer head that someone shot, stuffed, and mounted to the wall.  She'd look up from her meal, saying, "Hi DEER!!" oh so cheerfully.  And loudly.  And often.  It would have been even cuter if she hadn't been trying to hold a conversation with a dead animal head up on the wall, but who am I to quibble?  Whatever keeps the girl happy, I say.  Another one knocked outta the park, Cracker Barrel.

The totem pole and the concrete jungle yard are just a little taste of the local flavor in this part of Missouri.  It's an eclectic area, and once we find a home, I'm actually looking forward to checking out all the nooks and crannies.  Plus I have it on good authority that Missouri has some of the best thrifting you'll ever find!  I'm excited to check out some of the places that have been recommended.

Wow, I think I just ended yet another whoa is me post on a high note.  Yes!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

because the army said so

Hey moms.  Do you tell your kids "because I said so"?  It's ok, you can tell me.  I find myself saying it after Fletcher asks, "but whyyyy?" for the 40th time.  It's one of those cop-out phrases that just pops out of my mouth sometimes, and although I feel guilty when I say it, I know I will say it a million more times before Fletcher turns 18. 

And now I know how he feels.  I felt like whining, "but whyyyy???" when the army moved us from our lovely Chicago suburb to South Carolina.  I felt like whining, "but whyyyy???" when we found out the army was moving us from beautiful South Carolina to Missouri.  And now that we are here and going through the process of finding a house that doesn't seem to exist in this part of Missouri, I REALLY want to scream, "but WHYYYY????"  But I already know the answer.  Because the army said so.  And they put the food on our table, the roof over our heads, and the stuff from etsy in my mailbox, so I guess they're in charge.  And you learn quickly not to question the decisions handed down to you from the army, because there is NOTHING you can do about them. 

So we'll be here, living out of a hotel until we find the house that does not exist.  Asking "why?" in my head, but keeping up the happy for the littles.  And luckily?  They are happy just to hang out on a hotel balcony feeding Papa strawberries.
And a bowl of ice cream never hurt.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the part where we traveled

Oh friends.  I like to keep this space a happy place to be, and I am going to really try and not drag you down on the sinking ship that is me right now.  But here are the facts of our current situation. 

1.  My mom and I left South Carolina with the littles one week ago yesterday.  Brian stayed behind to oversee the packing.
2.  We stayed in North Carolina, visiting family for two nights.  Brian was still in S.C.
3.  We traveled maybe 4 to 5 hours last Wednesday.  We stayed somewhere in Tennessee.  Brian was still in S.C.
4.  We traveled maybe 4 to 5 hours last Thursday.  We stayed somewhere in Illinois.  I think?  Brian was still in S.C.
5.  We traveled maybe 4 to 5 hours last Friday.  We stayed near St. Louis.  Brian started his journey that night, stopping somewhere in Tennessee, sleeping outside on the ground in the Smokey Mts.
6.  We did no traveling last Saturday.  We swam in the hotel pool, went to Target, played at a playground, and ate nachos and waffles.  Brian joined us in the afternoon (hooray!!!).
7.  We all traveled maybe 3 hours to our current destination yesterday.  We are here.  Here we are.  That is about as positive as I can keep all these facts. 
I wasn't going to mention it, but oh, what the hell.  There was A LOT of screaming and temper tantrums along the way.  But.  There was a lot of fun and silly moments, and there was a wonderful Grandma (my mom) that helped out more than I can say.  She's still here, helping out, watching the littles while Brian and I comb the area for a suitable house.  It's not going well, my friends.  But we will persevere.  We will settle if we must.  We will get out of a hotel at some point!!
Excuse the pictures.  They were all taken with my cell phone.  I could not be bothered with lugging out the Nikon.  No way. 

If my posts are few and far between, bear with me.  I'll be back at it soon!

Friday, March 9, 2012

what i'm loving lately: this mascara

Ok, we're about to get a bit too close for comfort.  You've probably noticed I don't post many pictures of myself, mostly because I hold the camera, people!  I do!  And maybe just slightly because of girly vain critical stuff.  But.  I have to share this with you, vanity be damned.  You will thank me later. 

I am a bit of a mascara lover.  It has always been my favorite of all the make-up family, and I would forsake all other make-up for it.  If I had to.  We're talking desert island stuff.  No, that would be fresh water and Nutella.  Nevermind.  But I have tried preeetty much every kind out there- from cheapy drug store mascaras to expensive beauty counter brands.  I have ok lashes as far as length is concerned, but they are pretty wimpy in width.   So since I've tried everything, you can believe me when I tell you that this mascara is the BEST I've ever tried!
For the record:  L'Oreal Paris Voluminous False Fiber Lashes.  Nice short and sweet name, eh?  Anyway, I always like my mascara the blackiest black black that you can get since my eyelashes are somewhat blond.  What makes this mascara oh so awesome are the weird little fibers that attach to your lashes, making them look looooong and wiiiide.  When you pull the wand out, it looks a little strange, like you stuck your mascara wand in a pile of lint.  You can kinda see that here.
Do not try and wipe them off, they are your friends!  Ok, here we go, a little before and after action.
Um, sorry about looking up my nose.  Luckily, no boogies!  So are you convinced yet?  Well, then, let me just say that this was ONE coat.  You can really vamp it up if you're invested in doing multiple coats.  But I had one very patient husband taking pictures of my eyeballs while littles clung to our ankles, so time was of the essence here. 
Oh man.  Another up the nose shot.  Sorry!