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Stuttering Shell: December 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

blue moon.

No, not this kind {which happens to be my favorite beer}:

or this kind {which happens to be my favorite place to stay at while in playa del carmen...check out their website & their blog}:

but this kind:


a blue moon.

the 2nd full moon in a month.

we'll have one tonight as we all ring in the new year. it won't be blue. i'm not even sure if i'll see it {it's pretty damn cloudy here}, but it will be out - in full effect - just the same.

enjoy it.

enjoy your new year's eve.

be careful. there's a full {blue} moon out.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

yeah, what she said!

so, i was reading lula's latest post {get thou arse over to lulaville a.s.a.p. if you are slightly confused at this very moment} and she was discussing how time magazine said that the 2000-2009 timespan has been the worst decade ever.


i know nothing about that time magazine article. i don't even read time magazine {but plop a southern living magazine in my lap and i'll read it cover to cover...three times}.

but, really? worst ever??

it's amazing to think that the first ten years of the y2k years have already flown by, but was it really that bad??

lula & i don't think so.

let's put all of the decade's political bullshit, socio-economic woes & wacko celebrity news to the side. i want to talk about my decade & why i consider it to be one of the best ever.

2000 - i graduated from college. on mother's day. i braved that wicked virginia humidity in a blacker than black polyester cap & gown and glided across that stage to gladly accept my diploma. {also, all within months after graduating, i started a wonderful job & found out that i was pregnant. yeah, 2000 was a pretty eventful year.}
2001 - i gave birth to the most beautiful & sassiest girl i know - my sweet, malia. and, by sassy, i mean sassy in the sweet way us girls are. really.
2002 - adam & i decided that it was probably time for us to get married considering we had been together for eight years & already started a family. i also moved & started a new job...all just a month before our wedding.
2003 - i gave birth to the most handsome & goofiest boy i know - my sweet, aidan. aidan truly is goofy...he is, afterall, his father's son.
2004 - i quit working full-time...and then quickly decided that being a stay-at-home mom wasn't "my thing." moms, if you've always worked {like i have} then you know the transition isn't an easy one.
2005 - i decided to go back to school to earn a masters degree in elementary education. i never finished, but it is still something i think about completing all of the time.
2006 - my mother announced to the family that she had breast cancer. thank, no...praise God that she is absolutely healthy today.
2007 - i made the big decision to go to work with my husband {and FIL}. in other words, he became my boss in the office. working for/with family is not easy. trust me. i also turned 30.
2008 - my sister got married to a wonderful man whom i'm proud to call my brother-in-law.
2009 - i made the even bigger decision to leave my comfy, cozy job working with my husband {and FIL}. it's a decision that has affected us financially because going from two incomes to one is never any fun. but, it was the best decision i've made in a very long while. no risk, no gain.

i think it's very safe to say that my decade wasn't so bad. there were good times. there were plenty of bad times. ups, downs. highs, lows. but it definitely was not the worst decade ever. not my worst decade ever, at least. everything that happened - both positive & negative - has helped to strengthen me & continually mold me into the person i am today. things happened for a reason. there are no regrets...only rejoices {even, i might add, for the crappy stuff}.

2010. the prospect of it is exciting.

and i'm hoping that these next ten years will be even more exciting than the last.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

post-holiday jeer & hopes for the new year.

christmas has come & gone and it's amazing to think that in a few short days we're going to kiss 2009 good-bye and ring in a new year.


a new beginning. the start of a new decade. eek. i don't know about you, but when i start talking about time in terms of decades i feel really old {when i'm really least i like to think i'm not}.


this is my 'the funk that always comes after the holidays' post. this is also my 600th blog post.

i'll admit it...i'm a bit down in the dumps, y'all. not really sad. not really super happy. just blah. don't get me wrong, i had a very lovely, very enjoyable christmas with my family. i couldn't be happier with the gifts i received & my heart swooned with joy as i watched my children giggle, gasp & get giddy with excitement as they opened their presents.

i wish i had pictures to share with you all, but i killed my not even one month old camera on christmas effin' eve. as i hastily cleaned my kitchen on christmas eve, i accidentally knocked my camera off the counter and the lcd screen shattered. the good news is, the camera is repairable. the bad news is, it's going to cost me nearly half of the camera's original purchase price to fix.

additionally, being unemployed has me stressed, but i know things will be okay. something will come along {i have an interview on wednesday & i aced my census exam}. the hubs' salary will sustain us. it's just the uncertainty of not knowing how long the hubs' job can or will sustain him that worries me...and that's all i am going to say about that.

and, we received some disappointing news the day after christmas. very disappointing. all i want to know is - when will people learn?!

but that's all besides the point.

i know in my heart of hearts that things will be okay. i know that He will provide for us & show us the way. adam & i have love & support from most of our families {i only say most because there is one individual who seems to be pushing family away rather than keeping them close...adam said things were quite weird when he & the kids were over at this person's house on christmas day...i didn't go so i'm sure you all can figure out who i'm referring to}. i know that my parents & my sister are rooting for follow my dreams & listen to my heart. i've got good friends standing next to me. i am healthy. i have a cozy, albeit small home. my needs are fulfilled.
you know, it's funny how once before i used to thrive off of the negativity, but now it pains me to even get all "debbie downer" on y'all. i guess there really IS a big part of me that isn't so pessimistic anymore. hip, hop hooray.


let's end this post by talking about some of my hopes, dreams & goals for 2010, shall we?
  1. to find a job. not just any job, but my dream job. a career. the opportunity i've been waiting so long for.
  2. to open an etsy shop & become successful at doing what i love...which isn't much, but why should i deny the world of my crafting abilities {yea, just needed to pump up my ego a's okay}.
  3. to return to school. i'm not sure if i want to finish my graduate degree in elementary education or go for something completely different. i'm also not 100% certain if this is something that will happen in 2010 or 2011. we'll see.
  4. to end any & all toxic relationships in my life. i've pretty much accomplished this goal already.
  5. to let any & all negativity roll off my back. for the most part, people talk smack only to make themselves feel better about some short-coming...yep, that's right.
  6. to excercise more often. so cliche for a new year's resolution, but what the hell.
  7. to move. i haven't talked about this ever before, but we've been talking about possibly moving. where? we don't know for sure just yet. all i know is that we want a bigger home {because we really need a 4th bedroom} and i want more bang for our buck.
  8. to say adios to our credit card debt. it's going to take a bit of time to zero out those student loan bills, but it's my wish to be 100% credit card debt free by the end of 2010.
  9. to celebrate the 2010 holidays somewhere warm & tropical...perferrably playa del carmen, mexico
  10. to love, honor & cherish the man that i love, the family we've created & the family we both come from 1000 times more than i do now.

what are your hopes, dreams & goals for the new year?

psst...stay tuned. in celebration of my 600th post, i have a small giveaway for you all to enter. it's nothing big. trust me. but it's still fun & cute & perfect for anyone who wants to be a bit more organized in the new year. i'll post the deets later this week.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

happy holidays!

i hope that you all have the most wonderful & magcial holiday ever...enjoy your time with family, loved ones & friends.

cherish. love. honor. respect.

make new memories. relive old ones.

and, i hope that the new year brings you all nothing but good health, success & prosperity.

it's easy to get caught up in the muss & fuss that christmas seems to have turned into. i know that for me, it's easy to get overwhelmed this time of year and forget the true reason for christmas.


He is the reason for the season!

don't forget to send Him a little birthday shoutout today. ;)

ho ho ho.
merry christmas.
joyeux noel.
feliz navidad.

yeah, all of that.


feliz navidad

i need a little comic relief this morning. it's already been one of those days. it's christmas friggin' eve. things should be calm, organized & generally good to go.

um, nope.

adam's working today & then headed out with some guys from work {much to my dismay}. really? headed a bar, no less, on christmas eve when he should be heading straight home to assist his {really super bitchy} wife get things ready for the christmas dinner taking place at home this evening. grrr...ok, i digress.

i am here at home cleaning, baking, cleaning, blogging, cleaning, cleaning, baking...pretty much going insane because everything has been left for me to take care of. i still have a couple presents to wrap! {adam has not wrapped the first gift...thankyouverymuch. and, in fact, the only holiday shopping he's done thus far has been for me - good boy - but he's told me that he's not even finished with that, this is what happens when you start shopping the sunday night before christmas. geez.}


fortunately, it's not all "piss & moan" over here. i am very thankful that my parents are here. they are helping me keep the kids entertained while i get things done. i've got poor frisco in his house so i don't have to watch his every puppy move while i scrub a toilet or vacuum the carpet. the house is quiet and i get many things accomplished when nobody is home. hell, i clean better when i'm pissed off.

grinchiness is settling in, y'all. i don't like it, but it is.

and, when christmas times start getting a little emotionally tough, i turn to this song because it always puts a smile on my face {you may recall that i blogged about it once before}:

i will listen to this song about 30475539467 times today because i need to. i need to laugh. i really do.

thanks for letting me bitch. this is the micromanager in me showing it's ugly face. it's horrible, i tell ya. you know, being a micromanager. *shivers*

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

forget gumdrops & sugarplums...

i've got cookies, cake balls & marshmallows!

i went on a little baking binge last weekend. it was nuts.

i baked a batch of coconut macaroons:

{the photo is crackberry-licious}

the macaroon recipe is courtesy of ina garten {you know, the barefoot contessa} from the food network & you can easily follow along to the recipe by clicking here. it is, by far, the easiest cookie {?} recipe ever...the hardest part is whipping the egg whites & even that's not too difficult! try them because if you cuckoo about coconut {like we are} then you'll love these!

i also made snowballs, er, mexican wedding cookies again. this time, i added an almond hershey's kiss to the center of each cookie for some added oomph. you can find the recipe for the mexican wedding cookies here.

and, i made chocolate chip cookies done the nestle toll house way. yes, i took the recipe straight from the back of the bag of chocolate chips. they were crispy & perfect. i omitted the nuts because i was out. i plan on making more tonight...this time adding pecans and using both semi-sweet & white chocolate chips. mmm! click here for the nestle toll house chocolate chip cookie recipe.

yeah, that first picture is sideways. just tilt your head to the right. i'm too lazy to edit the photo so you'll just have to make do with my crackberry pics.

okay, so onto the next portion of my baking binge...homemade marshmallows. i have been wanting to try making marshmallows for a while & i finally did last friday. they were so easy to make & they taste so. much. better. than the store-bought kind. trust me. we loved them so much i made a second batch last night. i have yet to attempt to flavor them {i'd like peppermint flavored marshmallows} but i will try that soon. promise.

i used alton brown's {♥ ♥ ♥} marshmallow recipe & you can get it by clicking here. like i said, it was super easy. i didn't use a candy thermometer {because something bad happened to it on thanksgiving...i mean, really, why are you going to use a candy thermometer to gauge the oil temperature in a turkey fryer. silly boys.}. i timed things by the recipe & it was perfect. some advice, though...don't smell the marshmallows while they are in the mixer 'fluffing.' it is stinky. like "i can't believe i'm actually going to eat that" stinky. once you add the vanilla and spread it in the pan, it will smell fine. trust. it's still...good eats.

remember, don't sniff while fluffing!

it's going to be hard, but it's best to let them sit overnight

hmm...somebody was up past his bedtime, but i suppose it was alright because it was a friday and momma was making homemade marshmallows. how could you pass up licking the mixer's whisk?

all you need to add is cocoa! be sure to use some's way too easy to pop one {or five} of these bad boys into your mouth. i took a few of them & dipped them into melted chocolate almond bark & holiday colored nonpariels. delicious.

cake balls. oh, yes...cake balls. earlier this week i made two batches. i'll be making cake balls again today. i am a sucker. i know.

cake balls are super easy, but really time consuming {and, kind of frustrating sometimes}. for some really great cake ball & cake pop ideas, please visit bakerella. she's fabulous. also, my friend, lis, is just plain awesome at making these and she's got a great tutorial on her

here is the rundown on making cake balls:

  • bake boxed cake as directed. let cool.
  • crumble cooled cake in a large bowl & add up to one jar of frosting.
  • mix well until you get a 'doughy' consistency.
  • form into balls & place on parchment or waxed paper lined cookie sheet.
  • freeze cake balls for up to an hour.
  • melt whichever candies you prefer {i prefer using almond bark} using whichever melting method you prefer {i use the double boiler method}.
  • dip cake balls.
  • decorate.
  • gobble them up.
below are the cake balls i made for malia's third grade class holiday party:

we gave out ten teacher gifts this year & each teacher recieved an ornament, four cake balls & four marshmallows:

and this...this, my friends, is the platter of misfit cake balls. i had every intention of making santa hat cake balls like i saw on bakerella's site. yeah, that didn't turn out so well. i resorted to making much. easier.

whatever holiday treats you make for santa, i hope you have fun in the kitchen! be sure to share the recipe, too...i'm always on the lookout for a yummy new treat to make!

happy holidays, y'all...and remember to brush & floss your teeth really good after eating all of these sweets!

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merry & bright.

momma's got her holiday groove back, i think. ask me later on this afternoon when i'm pulling my hair out & i might say otherwise. perhaps a trip to trader joe's for some el cheapo {but absolutely divine} vino is in order. why not, right?

anyways, and i'm ashamed to admit this, but i haven't made any more topiaries since this one. cranking out topiaries is on my list of things to do today...along with painting four wine glasses. should be easy enough. the kids are home & they can help me with the pup while i get crafty {they had BETTER's still not too late for me to cancel christmas}.

even though i haven't accomplished my entire list, i am very proud of the few things i have completed - ornaments & shirts.

not all of my ornaments turned out absolutely fabulous. this always happens. but, even my "bad" ornaments turned out semi-decent. i think a little glitter on the outside will make it all better & soon they will have a permanent home as they will be added to our ornament collection.

however, let me share with you the successful ones. they turned out even better than the ornaments i painted last year. they are all decked out in red, green & white christmassy fabulousness. all but two of them were handed out to teachers yesterday...i hope they all liked them:

the last two photos are a bit on the dark side...whoops. the lighting in my kitchen isn't the greatest at o'dark thirty. i'm quite please with these lil' guys. i didn't adorn them with any additional ribbon & i think they turned out quite perfectly!

in addition to ornaments, i made three monogrammed shirts done in a reverse-applique style. the shirts were purchased from wal-mart & target and the fabric i used came from a contest i won over at lauren nicole gifts. all of the stitching was done by my own two hands with embroidery thread. i am making one more to give as a gift {another 'm' monogram because their daughter is named malia...just like mine!} and then i'll create two more for my malia. she already has one {made with scrap fabric from gussy}.

here are the three i made - one for my sister's niece & two for my little cousins - they turned out soooooo cute {if i do say so myself!}:

i'm actually thinking about opening an etsy store and possibly selling these shirts as well as my topiary items. i'm not 100% certain just yet, but it's one of my goals for 2010. i'm doing what i love, i love what i'm why not try to make a buck or two, right?

anyways, if anyone IS interested in a shirt, just let me know what size you want, whether you want long or short sleeves and what the initial is. the price is $15. pretty reasonable, i think.

so this is the crafty side of me...the baker in me will appear in the next post. promise.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ho ho ho hum.

i'm taking a break from wrapping presents. i don't care for wrapping presents. at all. i'm weird like that. of course, had i not purchased so many strangely shaped items then, perhaps, i wouldn't feel this way. nah. that has nothing to do with it. i just hate wrapping presents. at least i am on the ball and actually wrapping them before christmas...and not on christmas eve when i'm usually trying to wrap 43904630576457 things all the while mumbling every variation of a certain {filthy} word that rhymes with cluck.

i finally managed to get all of my christmas cards out in the mail {even the ones promised to those of you who emailed me}. i also braved the post office to mail the two surprise packages, one swap package & a small package for my sister. i have one more package to mail for mrs. potts' cookbook swap, but that lovely thing will be picked up from my front porch because I lurves the USPS's package pickup request thingie on their website. {you can also print out your postage for packages from home which i love.}

i hit ignore on my phone a lot. random, i know. but i've done it twice today. i'll do it again. i just don't feel like talking.

i'm taking a test this afternoon. i haven't taken a test since before i dropped out of grad school. yeah, i dropped out. one day i'll go back & ask if i can re-enroll. for now, i'm hoping to land a temporary gig working for the 2010 census. if that doesn't work out, i'll just hope & pray that the interview i have next week does. i'm still hoping for a phone call from a certain company and that phone call is supposed to happen after the first of the year. my fingers are crossed.

today is the last day of school for my kidlets. i really thought they had a half day of school tomorrow. adam did, too. we must be the only parents in our city who thought that. fortunately for us, and this is gonna sound bad, at least their holiday break is only for a week and NOT almost a month {like it was in previous years when their school operated on a year-round schedule}. a month-long holiday break when it's cold & dreary outside is tough, people...especially when you're trying to entertain kids from the elementary school set. of course, this year is different 'cause momma's unemployed so i'm sure we'll have fun. at least the stress of "who in the hell is gonna watch my kids while i try to go to work because there's no way i'm schlepping them to the office with me" is {temporarily} gone.

i really, really, really tried to avoid cooking a christmas dinner, but it looks like we're going to after all. damn. this means i'll be headed to wally world tomorrow {along with every other last minute shopper} to stock up on food & drink. for those curious, we decided to eat a local chinese buffet on christmas eve. i was looking forward to crab legs & general tso's chicken. but, twist my arm, prime rib & yorkshire pudding *have* to do. {yorkshire pudding is my favorite!}

my baking & crafting streak has hit a brick wall. i'm not in the mood. i have a headache. {and every other excuse for getting out of doing it could also apply.}

you know, for a while i was actually all merry & jolly and crap. all of a sudden, i'm not. i'm sure i'll snap out of whatever this funk is. it's just weird.

and, on that weird note, i need to get back to wrapping these funky shaped presents before i get busted by the hubs & kidlets!


Monday, December 21, 2009


i'm flying high right now folks. seriously, i am. my sinuses are screaming & i ran straight for the medicine cabinet. oh, that detached feeling...yeah, medicine head...i've got it thanks to sudafed. no wonder they keep this crap behind the counter. two of those little red pills and i'm a hot mess. with that said, i'll warn you now...if anything seems vile, vulgar or remotely like gibberish long-winded in this post, well, it was the meds talking.

i had a busy weekend. a busy, family-filled weekend.

my parents came down thursday night. my momma had surgery on friday morning & was back in my home by friday afternoon. things are a-okay. really, they are. nothing serious or life threatening. {the life threatening surgery was almost three years ago this month when my brave momma decided to kiss a breast good-bye. that was the only part of her body she let cancer take. go, mom!} friday's surgery gave my momma her groove back...if you know what i mean.

the hours from friday afternoon into friday evening were busy ones for me. i baked. and baked. and baked. i will post pics & share recipes later. i made coconut macaroons, mexican wedding cookies, chocolate chip cookies & homemade marshmallow. i also got crafty and completed another monogrammed shirt done reverse-applique style. again, pictures will happen later.

the hubs left in the wee morning hours on saturday morning to go hunting with his buddies. it was another unsuccessful trip. well, depending on who you ask. to him, there were no deer to shoot. {duh, you were hunting in two friggin' feet of snow...did you really think the deer would be prancing through the woods?? i rest my case.} if you ask me, it was a successful trip because it got him out of my hair for a day and now i don't have to worry about a deep freezer full of venison because, quite frankly, i don't care much for it.

sunday was the day all hell broke loose. i had another breakdown. this one was of the mental kind. i am easily stressed. being unemployed & with the holidays looming, well, i got a little stressed out. i yelled. i bitched. i cried. boy, did i need to cry. "just go bake something, will help make you feel better" is what adam said to me. and, bake i did. two batches of cakeballs. i had every intention of making little santa hats out of the red velvet batch, but i'm no bakerella so i resigned to making regular, ole balls. red velvet covered in white chocolate. vanilla covered in chocolate. again, pictures & recipes will happen later. promise. i decorated those little suckers & made them all purdy. i also managed to get all of the glass ornaments i painted boxed up & ready for teacher gift giving. adam redeemed himself later that afternoon by taking himself & the kids to the mall to do a little christmas shopping for moi. he left with a list & i know i got one thing on the list because i had to guide him {over the phone} through kohl's. oh, and my parents drove home on find 14" of snow waiting to be shoveled in their driveway. better them than me {love you, mom & dad!}.

today. oh, monday. we all woke up late. it was horrible. after shuffling the kids off to school, i made my rounds through target, wal-mart, michael's and a local grocery store. only to come home and find that i had a screw in my tire and i still needed to get to the post office. grrr. i made it to the post office without incident. i nearly had to deck the old man in line behind me because he kept making comments about how i was hogging the automated postage machine. really? i guess he couldn't see the four packages & stack of christmas cards i was trying to mail.

and, now i'm here. sitting at his god-foresaken computer. staring at it's bright screen while my eyes are saying, "holy shit." what i thought was going to be a sissy sinus infection has turned into an ugly monster & i'm miserable. the only reason i'm up now is because the house is quiet...and dark. but this sudafed has got me feeling like 'your highness' so i really shouldn't be operating heavy machinery using the computer. i'm liable to go into some curse word-laden tirade about - what i believe to be - an inappropriate christmas gift for my six year old son {i mean, who gives a six year old a paint ball gun?!}.

anyways, i'll stop here before this blog gets me into trouble again. oh, so scandalous. besides, i need to get some beauty sleep & get my pep back so i can post all of those pictures & yummy recipes i promised.



Friday, December 18, 2009

of course.

{map image courtesy of The Weather Channel...I added the circle, arrow & chicken scratch}

of course.

what was i expecting?

did i REALLY think we were going to get any of the white stuff?

well, i suppose there IS a slight possibility that we could, but the chance isn't nearly as good as it is where my parents live {about 50 miles south of washington, d.c.}.

adam is going hunting tomorrow about 40 minutes from our state capital, richmond. i told him to take our 'old' camera & snap some pics. i'm actually kind of jealous that he'll get to see the snow. but, then again, i think i'm really just more concerned about him getting home at a decent hour so the w{h}ine festivities with my friend, katie, can still take place.

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lofty goals.

Christmas is in a week.

one week.

i can't believe it. well, yes, i can. the years go by faster & faster as we get older...and they seem to pick up even more speed once children are involved. trust me, i know this.


i've got a very busy weekend ahead of me. perhaps it IS a blessing in disguise that adam is going hunting tomorrow with his brother from another mother, matt.

forget santa's workshop. it's going to be craft & cookie central in this house!

last night i started these {excuse the fabulous crackberry photo quality...and my sloppy counters}:

they are still drying as there is still a bit of paint coming out of them. once they are dry, i will put the ornament tops back on them, put a hanger on them & adorn them with a pretty piece of ribbon and they will be ready for gifting.

in addition to those glass ornaments, i have to make four more of these {well, using different colored shirts & different designs}:

{another fine crackberry photo}

oh, and i also need to make more topiary ornaments & regular topiaries, cookies, cake balls and...for the first time ever...homemade marshmallow.

lofty goals. yep. i know it.

and, somewhere in all of that, i have to do a wee bit of grocery shopping, finish up some Christmas shopping, wrap presents, do laundry, clean the house, keep the kids happy & fed, watch the pup like a hawk, appease my three cats and steam clean our carpet.

i'm not sure if i need peppermint mocha creamer in my coffee or peppermint schnapps.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

chicken & dumplings...soup.

as i opened up the cookbook to type out this recipe i came to the realization that this was a soup recipe. somehow, yesterday as i made this, i neglected to read the word 'soup.' if you ask me, it's more of a stoup {if you have ever watched rachael ray you know that a stoup is a stew/soup combo}. anyways, it's delicious and i want you to get out your crockpot and make this, please.

i'm really sorry about the sloppiness of this photo. i didn't think to take a picture until my SECOND helping. whoops.

chicken & dumpling soup
{from stephanie o'dea's book, "make it fast, cook it slow"}

3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken - i used just over 2 lbs. of good sized chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped - i used 1 package of already sliced white button 'shrooms
16 oz. frozen veggies - i used a carrot, corn & green bean mix
2 (10.5 oz.) cans of cream-of-something soup - the actual recipe lists an alternative soup recipe if you're so inclined to make your own but i used two cans of cream of chicken & mushroom from that "mmm, mmm good!" brand.
1 (10 oz.) can refrigerated biscuits

use a 4-quart slow cooker {mine is about 6-quarts and it worked just fine for this recipe}. put the chicken & the veggies into the bottom of the stoneware insert. add the cream-of soups. cover & cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

an hour before serving, shred the chicken with two large forks and drop in the biscuit dough. cover & cook on high for another hour. the dumplings are done when a knife is easily inserted and comes out clean. the dumplings will be spongy and will brown a bit on the sides & top. serve in bowls with a dumpling or two per person.

this was a HIT! this couldn't have been any easier to prep. the house smelled yummy while it cooked. and, the end result was - by far - the best slow cooker chicken & dumplings recipe i've ever tried. mine did not have a soupy consistency, but it was still delicious nonetheless. i do recommend seasoning before serving as it did have a bland taste, but it was nothing a little salt & white pepper couldn't fix. like i said earlier, i had TWO servings. aidan did, too. we're a family of four and we got six servings for dinner and one very generous serving for lunch out of the whole dish.

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red & white swirls.

i participated in an ornament swap hosted by katherine at just lovely and i was paired up with a really fun gal, pammycakes.

she is a doll! if you're not already following her blog, please do so. she's gorgeous, she's sweet, she's a fashion inspiration {trust me, i'm a mom of two...i need all of the fashion inspiration i can get!}. just go visit her blog, you'll see.

anyways, pammycakes gifted me with a lovely glass ornament from pottery barn. swirls of red {my favorite color!} & white. it fits right in with our {very fake} tree. i love it...thank you, pammycakes!!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

spread some holiday cheer... voting for logan.

remember logan? my sister & brother-in-law said good-bye to their beautiful golden retriever back in september after logan lost his brave battle against lymphoma.

monica & james have entered logan's photo in a pet holiday contest and he's currently in the #1 spot! there are six more days of voting left...please show logan some love & give him a 5 paw rating {and, to be fair to others in the contest, please vote for them, too}. you do have to register to vote, but it's free & if you uncheck the two boxes then you'll never receive any spam or emails.

click HERE to register & vote for logan.

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Where in the World Wednesday

It's Wednesday & you know the drill...

To participate, post a photo of you anywhere in the world...whatever you consider travelling to be...and write a little blurb about it. Be sure to post your link on Classy in Philadelphia's blog and, while you're there, check out other WITWW links, too!

Adam & I went to Mexico for the first time in 2000. We spent an afternoon on the island of Cozumel during a cruise stop. Since then, we've been to Mexico numerous times...mostly to Cancun & the Riviera Maya {and we always make a day trip to Cozumel}. Playa del Carmen is our favorite vacation spot and Adam & I love to go there whenever we can. This is a picture of us from our 2008 trip to Mexico. We were on a deserted beach at an ecological reserve near Tulum {and, no, we were not naked}.

This isn't normal 'par for the course' when it comes to WITWW, but I wanted to show you our view...

And, for some added fun, videos of part of our ride {the poor rental car!} through the eco-reserve...

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caught in the crossfire backfire.

brittany blogged about her stinky boy...let me tell you about mine.

i have three. three stinky boys living under my roof. sometimes there is a stinky girl thrown into the mix {uh, that would be my mini-me...i'm a lady & ladies poot behind closed bathroom doors thankyouverymuch}. but, usually, the source of the stank can be pinpointed to one of three boys in our home: aidan, adam or frisco, le pup.

the flatulence fest ebbs & flows in our home. some nights are calm & the air smells so fresh and clean. other nights you need a gas mask & you often wonder why the rumbles and shakes haven't measured on the richter scale.

it's bad.

and the stink isn't always from the booty area. nor is it always audible {you know, silent, but deadly}. and, fortunately, the stink isn't always stinky {if that makes sense}.

boys are loud to begin with. even the dog is loud, but that's usually 'cause he's snoring. anyways, they talk loud, they laugh loud, they eat loud, they burp loud, they fart loud...loud, loud, loud.

where am i going with this {besides the fact that it's usually quite loud in our home and, more often than not, kinda stinky in here}?

i have three loud, stinky boys. loud because they can be & stinky because they think it's perfectly okay to 'let 'er rip!' thankfully, there is an occasional 'excuse me' following certain gas passing episodes. well, sometimes.

bottom line is, my boys honestly believe it is perfectly normal to sound like a machine gun firing off round after round sometimes. boys wouldn't be boys if they couldn't be stinky {and loud}. and, besides, aidan has a perfectly good explanation for why he is so loud & stinky sometimes:

"when i get a little nervous or excited, i backfire."

yes, son, you, your dad & the pup certainly do.

better out than in, i suppose.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

do what?!

while waiting for the school holiday program to start last night, i sat next to the hubs and watched him fiddle with his new work phone. he was trying to show me a couple features of the phone when...

the lady sitting to my left elbowed me in the ribs {really, she did}.

"is he texting his mistress?"

um, i'm sorry...come again?

"sorry, it was a joke."

oh, {through a fake smile} ha ha ha ha ha ha. so you DID crack some stupid tiger w*ods joke. i'm very sorry if i forgot to laugh.

{i found the picture here and i cropped it and added the 'x.'}

"you know, because he's messing with his phone. looked like he was texting & i noticed you watching him."

um, no, nosey lady, my husband was not texting his mistress. he has neither time nor money for a mistress. besides, this is a man who can barely type on a computer keyboard {sorry, honey}...could you imagine how long it would take for him to text? yikes. he was just messing around on his phone...he's a little technologically inept sometimes {again, sorry, honey} when it comes to new cell phones. and, for the record, he doesn't golf. not very well, at least.

besides, i'm fairly certain NO woman out there wants a broke man who has no time...has kids...and has a bitchy wife {even if he does cook well}.

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you're a mean one, mr. grinch.

tensions ran high in our household this past saturday.

basically, i woke up in a foul mood & the hubs' mood wasn't any better.

one cranky michelle + one cranky adam = yikes!

we had errands to run. adam wanted to take the kids shopping for my christmas present, but didn't want me around. he didn't like that i told him what i wanted {seriously, it's just a $20 sweater from kohl's}. we needed to go to the bank. we go to the bank & the drive-thru was crazy backed-up and the lobby doors were already closed {even though it was 12:55pm and the bank closed at 1pm}. the kids were thirsty. aidan was whiney. malia was attitude-y. traffic was heavy. the mall was absolutely ridiculous. it was wall-to-wall people and my 'i'm too grown for my own good' children did not want to do anything that remotely resembled holding hands. old navy had absolutely zero $5 zip-up fleece jackets that they were advertising. aidan dropped his milkshake & blamed it on me for shoving him {really?}. adam was hungry but i refused to go back into the mall's food court. chuck e. cheese {need i say more?!} - thank goodness it was packed & we turned the car around.

after a late lunch/early dinner at a chinese buffet and a quick trip to petsmart we were finally homebound.

i was still reeling in my anger. why, i don't know. i woke up in a bad mood. due to the holidays? maybe. due to not having a job? maybe. stressing about money? maybe. just because? yes.

because - in all honesty - there was really nothing to be angry or upset about. everything that happened or took place during the day was trivial. typical holiday issues. typical kid issues. typical issues. nothing to sweat. nothing to really piss you off. but, i. just. was.

i was the freakin' grinch.


thank goodness when i woke up on sunday morning all was 'normal' again. and, thank goodness, when i woke up on sunday morning i didn't actually look like that either {because that's exactly how i felt deep down inside on saturday}.

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i watched 'confessions of a shopaholic' on sunday afternoon for the first time and it struck something within me. i was actually in tears towards the end of the movie when rebecca's father {played by john him!} offers up the motor home that he & his wife saved so long for in order for rebecca to pay off her debts.

it's what parents do for their children.

without regard.

in some ways, i'm much like rebecca. i love to shop. not nearly as extravagantly as rebecca, but i do - nonetheless - like to shop. brand names don't hurt. although, i've never shopped at barney's nor have i ever spoken prada.

multiple cards. living a lie. hiding simple truths from those we love. no money. more problems.

i, too, have very genuine & very loving parents who - with the help of some tough love - would do anything in the world for me if i needed them to.

i've been in rebecca's shoes before. running from a problem. solving that problem by creating more problems.

i've shopped and paid for my purchases with multiple cards. i've had to scramble from month to month. i've avoided phone calls and i've had to deal with creditors calling. i've lied about my spending. about my finances.

i'm not ashamed to admit any of this.

i honestly think that this is the brutal reality for a lot of people - men & women alike - whether we choose to admit it or not. we've all got some inner demon that we're fighting against and usually that demon's name is debt.

mine is.

debt racked up from shopping.

debt racked up from careless spending.

debt racked up from being ignorant.

my turning point came three years ago. it honestly almost cost me my marriage. really, it almost did. fortunately, we worked through things - together. we're still working. i'm not debt-free. not hardly. even though i still carry a balance on my cards my total debt balance has been reduced by about two-thirds from when i started this journey.

there are no more phone calls. i try to pay more than i have to. i'm working on a debt snowball. granted, my situation has changed ever so slightly because i am no longer working. had i not left my job i would have been absolutely debt-free by the end of 2010. now, it may take a little longer, but the bottom line is, i am absolutely, 100% conscious of my situation. i think things through. i am more frugal. i no longer rely on my friend, plastic.

i'm not sharing this with you all for sympathy. rather, i think it's important to put stuff like this out there from time to time. not for words of encouragement or for stories of how so-n-so did it. no, instead this is about being brave. it's about accountability. it's about coming to terms with a problem. to look at that problem head on and tackle it. and, more importantly, it's for those of you out there who have similar problems, to not feel so alone.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

snowballs of fun.

it doesn't snow here. not much, at least. when it does, an inch will shut the city down. seriously. sometimes, it doesn't even take an inch.

since it doesn't snow {much} here & considering that i now have all the time in the world to bake, i made these little gems last week. they're called mexican wedding cookies, but i call them snowballs of fun.

i paired my cookies with some coffee flavored with coffeemate's peppermint mocha creamer & you, too, can serve your holiday cookies on a personalized polka dot plate by ordering one from molly lou gifts.

mexican wedding cookies
{from martha stewart's baking handbook}

1 cup {3-3/4 ounces} pecan halves
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks {1 cup} unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

the method:
preheat the oven to 350* f, with racks in the upper & lower thirds. line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. in a food processor, combine pecans with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar; pulse until nuts are finely ground. in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar-nut mixture, flour, and salt; set aside.

in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter & 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar on medium speed until light & fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed until the dough just comes together.

roll dough into 3/4-inch balls; place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are pale on top & lightly browned on the bottom (lift with a spatula to check), 10 to 12 minutes. transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

place remaining 1 cup confectioners' sugar in a shallow bowl, and roll cookies in it to coat completely. cookies can be kept in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed or parchment paper, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

the cookies were a hit. the kids loved them. adam loved them. of course, i loved them. next time i make them {which will more than likely be this weekend} i am going to put a hershey's kiss in the center for some added oomph.

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not your typical ornament.

it started as a 4" styrofoam ball. now it's between 5" to 6" in diameter and it's been covered in pink & green preppy goodness {with a bit of light blue thrown in for good measure}. and, it's currently en route to this fun gal.

this is only the second topiary-like item i've made. i have more that i need to create. my mother insists that i sell them. i'm skeptical because my creations are not nearly as fab as some of the others i've seen online. tell me what you think...please...

i just don't know.

i do know that i like making them. i do know that i like giving them {well, you know, when i make more of them}. next on my list is a couple small topiary trees for the holidays & a breast cancer awarness topiary that has been specially requested by my mother.

i'll post pics when i'm finished. promise.

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pup montage.

frisky whiskey.
sir muttley.
the puplet.
sir poops-a-lot.
that dog!
stinky butt.
frisco whisko.
sir licks-a-lot.
don juan.


it's been a while since sweet frisco's presence graced my blog. he will be six months old on saturday.

as a wee pup, he was part of the 'disney litter' and the breeder gave him the name, goofy. he sure is goofy. and, how fitting that he was in the 'disney litter' because he's got mickey on his paw {just tilt your head to the left}:

a little up close & personal...and slightly out of focus as i figure out my new camera:

looking very handsome in his {needs to be washed} katie & olive collar from puppy love collars {i got the i.d. tag that slides onto his collar from boomerang tags}:

please don't mind the mess...we were blogging cleaning...

that profile...those ears! oh, how i love frisco's ears {they were not surgically enhanced in any way...they just stand on their own!}.

frisco decided that cleaning off the desk was too much of a chore...

"come on, ma...let's forget about this cleaning and go play...or take a nap."

our lives have changed since getting a dog. changed in more ways than one. but, little frisco has brought so much joy to our lives...we couldn't imagine living a day without him.

oh, and as for his eye {you can kind of see the scar in the photo's on the right eye (his left eye)}...he's doing quite well. his eye has healed nicely. it's been months since we last saw the veterinary ophthalmologist & we will return in january for a follow-up visit. so far, so good...

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Friday, December 11, 2009

i don't know if it's the slightly detached feeling i've got going on right now thanks to the sudafed i took about an hour ago or if it's because the hubs just called me 'babydoll' on the telephone, but i'm about to burst at the seams because i'm feeling oh, so loved at the moment. seriously.


so much to say.

{don't is the LAST day to get on my 'ho ho ho' snail mail list. i'll give y'all until midnight my time - that's EST, folks - to email me your address. click here for the deets. remember, i am picking two lucky friends from the snail mail list to receive a lil' extra surprise. it is my goal to get the cards & packages in the mail either tomorrow or monday at the latest.}

so yesterday's interview was a bust. a big bust. very unprofessional. a little too personal. overall, a big disappointment. i left the interview - all twenty minutes of it - feeling let down. not a bad kind of 'let down' was almost a good one. i wasn't discouraged - okay, maybe i was a little - but as i drove off, i had a feeling in my gut that this was not the job for me. i am glad i was not chosen for the job - yes, they made a decision yesterday afternoon - because i would have declined the position anyways. *note to self: any interview that starts off by saying that i was overpaid at my last job is a sign. a sign that they cannot see the value in their employees. yes, i made good money. i worked hard for every damned cent of that money & i am worth every damned cent of that money. while i realize we are in a recession, i do feel that it is slightly ridiculous to think that a college educated woman would take on a position that involves the work of three people for a less than meager salary. the job yesterday was offering what i was making out of college...and i graduated with my bachelor's degree {nearly} ten. years. ago.

while some may think that i should have jumped at the chance to earn any kind of money right now {and i do agree to a certain extent} i do have my morals & my own standards. i have never in my life been interviewed by a company who was more concerned about my family life & my finances than my skills or my talents. openly telling me that the other two women i am competing against are single & childless and then making the "well, you'll be okay because your husband works" statement were absolutely unnecessary. they are lucky i didn't cry 'discrimination!' and call the BBB. and this was all said by the owner/president of the company. who was, i might add, a woman.

anyways...when one door closes, another one opens...and i'm hoping, wishing & praying for some good news next week. we are taking things as they come & the arrangement has been lovely thus far.

so it's finally friday. it's just me & the pup. malia was home sick for a couple days earlier this week. i'm hoping to get my 'routine' together again. laundry, housekeeping, crafts, baking, being driven insane by the pup. you know, the usual.

oh, i do have a new camera. it came last week. i finally took it out of the box. i am smitten. absolutely in love. it's not the d-slr that i wanted to get...maybe that can be on my wish list for next Christmas, but i love my new kodak p&s just the same. it's 14 megapixels of hd goodness. i'll upload some pics later & share them with you. i owe you some anyways.

it's cold. weather in virginia is wonky. it was in the 70s just a couple days ago. kid. you. not. no wonder kleenex has become me BFF here lately. it's supposed to be fuh-reezing tonight {i know, i know...temps in the 30s is like a heat wave for some of y'all} and it's supposed to be back in the 60s by the beginning of the week. i realize that it's not quite winter, but i'd like a little consistency, please.

well, the pup is snoring. that's a sign to get off the computer & get motivated. things get accomplished while he's snoozing. it's silly, but it's true!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

guess where i am?

i'm in two places at once today.

one being that interview.

the second being this interview.

go check me out over at Marlie and Me...i was featured for today's installment of "Thursdays with Teresha."

Marlie and Me

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009


tonight, i will be restless.

i'm painting my fingernails.
i'm plucking stray eyebrows.
i'm mentally preparing myself.

sleep will not be my friend tonight.
i know myself - my anxious self - very well.
i'll be tossing & turning.
i'll be super dependent on a cup of coffee come daybreak.

anticipation is already running through my veins.

i feel like tomorrow is the first day of school.
i have an outfit already laid out.
i have run through my morning routine a bazillion times in my head.
i am hoping we'll all get out the door on time & with no glitches or hangups.

i have a job interview tomorrow.
my first real one in nearly five years.

i am excited.
i am hopeful.
i am nervous.
i am grateful.

wish me luck.

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Where in the World Wednesday

It's that time of the week...

You know the drill - post a pic of you anywhere in the world, write a lil' blurb about it, leave the link in a comment at Classy in Philadelphia & go check out all of the other WITWW submissions. Fun, fun, fun!

So, for this gloomy Wednesday's installment, I give you this photo:

This is us. On the kiddie log flume ride. At Hershey Park. Summer 2008.

Clearly, our daughter was less than thrilled to be on the ride.

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