Thursday, May 7, 2015

Well Hey, There.

Remember me?

I hope so.  If you're seeing this, you used to be one of my readers.  You know, back when I had readers--before my life got crazy and I had time to blog.  But that happens, right?  Things don't go the way you planned, and some things fall by the wayside.

And that's why I'm here. It happened again.  Let me give you the short story.

Two years ago, I was a part time nanny and part time housewife, and also a part time blogger.  I was vaguely interested in going back to school, but it was on the back burner.  We were a little strapped for cash, and fertility treatments were making us even more strapped.

Well, sometimes things line up exactly as they should, and life changes.

I decided to go back to school.  To do this, I sadly had to quit my job as a nanny.  I signed up for EMT school, got a new job at the local hospital, and we got serious about fertility treatments with my new doctor. Things went along that way for a while, and then, happily and miraculously, I got pregnant.  Now, another ten months later, I'm a new mom, and life has changed again.

This is my beautiful new life change, my daughter Evelynne Grace:

Born 04/02/15 at 7:51 AM, weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces, and 19 inches long.

Due to changes at the hospital, I won't be able to return to my job after maternity leave.  So now, here we are, strapped for cash again, and with a newborn in the mix. What's a crafty girl to do?

Craft, of course.

My mom (who, you'll remember, is the original reluctant and crafty housewife) and I have opened an Etsy shop.  We both crochet, and we've whipped up some pretty cool baby crochet items, and also some things for grown ups.  I'll be selling some crafty type things I've made for myself--bow holders, button earrings, etc.

I'll also be getting back to blogging on the regular.  Scouts honor.  Newborns sleep A LOT.  Once again, I find myself with lots of time on my hands.

So, check in once in a while.  Visit the Facebook page.  Have a look around our Etsy Shop.  Most of all, keep your eyes peeled--you'll be seeing a lot of me!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Jumping on the Paul Walker Bandwagon.

But not really.  Why?

Because you know what's more sad than this photo?

The fact that not once, anywhere on Facebook, have I seen this guy's name.  It took me more than six news article to discover that his name is Roger Rodas.  Rodas, of Valencia, CA, co-owned a car shop near the site of the crash, had a finance degree and long-term job at Bank of America, and was a father.

Want to know what's even more sad than all THAT?

 In November 2013, the month of Walker's death, three U.S. soldiers died in the Middle East, and I bet you had no idea.

Staff Sgt. Alex Anthony Viola, of Texas, died at the age of 29 on November 17th, of injuries sustained when his unit was attacked in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Although this was his first deployment, he was the recipient of numerous medals and awards.  But none of them were MTV Movie awards, so no one cares.

Richard L. Vazquez

Staff Sgt. Richard L. Vasquez, also of Texas, died at the age of 28 in Panjwai, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was attacked on patrol, on November 13th.  He was originally from Louisiana, where he will be buried.  He is survived by both of this parents and numerous siblings.  He was a recipient of the Purple Heart, among many, many other medals and commendations.  But I guess that's not as cool as a Teen Choice Award.

View Full Size

Sgt. 1st Class Forrest W. Robertson, of Kansas, died at the age of 35 in Pul-E-Alam, Afghanistan, on November third, when his unit was fired upon. He had been on this tour in Afghanistan since December of 2012.  He's survived by his wife Marcie and three daughters.  He joined the Army before he even finished high school.  But apparently making 30 movies since 1996 is more impressive than spending 54 months deployed in the same time frame.

Yes, a Paul Walker died.  Yes, he was much too young to die.  And yes, he had a family, and friends, and people who loved him, and it's sad.  But loss of life is loss of life.  These three men, and the other 115 American servicemembers who died in 2013, deserve your respect as well.  They are no less deserving of grief and sympathy simply because they were not famous.  And the fact that so many of you didn't even have a thought for these men or their fellow fallen servicemembers paints a sad, sad picture of the priorities of our country.

While you're busy spouting your grief for Paul Walker all over Facebook, maybe you could spare five seconds to think about that.

*If you're interested, it took me roughly twenty minutes and the websites and to find this information.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Time Has Come, the Walrus Said...

I apologize sincerely if you, too, will now have that poem stuck in your head for three days.  In case you're being driven mad by the fact that you can't remember the next four lines, here they are:

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings  --
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

If you're really interested, you can see the entire poem here.  How cool am I that I already Googled it for you?

Anyways, down to business.  Buckle your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because it's a long one. (But please read it through to the end.  It's also an important one.)

If any of you read my most recent post about my depression and anxiety, you might remember that I cryptically referred to some "serious and time-consuming shit going on in my personal life."  I apologize for the cryptic-ness, but I just wasn't ready to talk about it yet.  Roughly five people in my life (other than my husband) knew what was going on at the time, and I just wasn't ready to share. (If you're one of those five people, you can feel free just to skip this entire post, because you've already been hearing me bitch for six months, and I greatly appreciate you all not knocking me unconscious every time I opened my mouth.)

I'm not really ready to share now either, but the time has come.

So the first giant revalation that I'm going to throw at you: Jimmy and I are actively trying to have a baby.  We've been actively trying, and obviously failing, since June of this year. 

Can I tell you something?  Trying to have a baby is stressful as shit.  There are charts, and special thermometers, a lot of new acronyms, and things you have to learn about your body that you will wish you didn't have to know.  Let me lay down some other facts for you.

1. It can take the average, healthy couple up to a year to get pregnant.
2. The average, healthy woman only has a 20% chance of getting pregnant each month, and that's only if she has sex while she's ovulating.
3. This shit is nothing like what they told us about in high school health class.  They lie to us about how easy it is to get pregnant.  I am looking at you, Mr. Koehne.

Six months ago, this was all brand-new to me.  I never really thought about having to try to get pregnant.  Every woman I know in my personal life that has a kid got them by accident.  So this shit should not be difficult, right? 


Now, six months is nothing in the world of fertility.  A reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist) won't even see you to check you out for potential problems until you've been actively trying for a full twelve months.  That is a lot of charting your fertility signs and peeing on sticks, my friends.  So six months is only HALF the time many women try. I now know several women who have tried to conceive for over two years with no success. 

Now, I have another giant revelation: my uterus is broken.  Not, like, permanently, entirely, forever broken.  My friend Alicia says part of it is just "on vacation."  I'll explain.  Get out your notebooks, because it's time for an anatomy lesson.

I've been tentatively diagnosed with something called endometriosis.  Basically, this means that my endometrial tissue (the tissue that lines your uterus to prepare it to house a baby, which is the stuff that you shed during menstruation), grows in places other than inside my uterus where it belongs. (This would be the stuff that's "on vacation.") The ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, spleen, and intestines are all hot vacation spots if you have endo, but my doctor told me it's been known to grow as far away from the pelvic area as the lungs.

This sounds like a fairly simple condition, but unfortunately, it's not.  Endo is very difficult to diagnose for a variety of reasons.  Already, I've had two gynecological exams and two ultrasounds, and the diagnosis is still not confirmed.  Technically, endometriosis can only be diagnosed surgically. A doctor has to cut you open, remove endometrial tissue from somewhere outside the uterus, and have it confirmed in a lab as endometrial tissue before your diagnosis is complete.  Also, endo is often misdiagnosed as a variety of other disorders, including Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but endometriosis is also a very painful disease.  The most common symptoms are as follows:
  • extremely painful periods. Like, WAY above and beyond regular cramps.  Since I am currently personally laid up in bed with a heating pad, I can tell you from personal experience that it kind of feels like someone is stabbing me in the ovaries with a white hot fireplace poker.  This is what it feels like all the time for the first three days of my period.  During those three days, I also have waves of worse pain, which are so painful I cannot walk or talk through them, that last between thirty seconds to a minute, when it feels like my ovaries and uterus may be exploding.  I wish I were exaggerating. I've been told by women who have experienced both that these waves of pain are equal in intensity and pain level to labor contractions.
  • pain with intercourse.  I can't describe this one to you, because fortunately for me, this is one symptom I was not blessed with.
  • pain with bowel movements or urination.  Among women with endo, ending up crying while trying to go to the bathroom is not uncommon.
  • excessive bleeding, during or between periods.  This one explains itself.
  • Infertility or sub-fertility.  The most common statistic I could find is that women with endometriosis only have about a 30% chance of getting pregnant on their own.  Most of the women I've connected with have only had successful pregnancies through invirtro fertilization. In fact, many women are only properly diagnosed with endo when they are seeking help for infertility.
  • a variety of other symptoms, including rectal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or bloating.  Most symptoms occur during menstrual periods, but they can occur at any time of the month.
There aren't a lot of good treatments for endometriosis.  The progress of the disease is usually stopped or slowed by hormonal birth control (and, ironically, pregnancy.)  I had no idea until we started trying to conceive and I went off birth control that anything was wrong.  As a result, birth control is the most common treatment for endo. 

However, if you're trying to have a baby, that's not really an option.  The only other real option besides "here's some Tylenol and a heating pad, good luck," is laprascopic surgery. During the same surgery that will officially diagnose a woman with endometriosis, the surgeon will remove any endometrial tissue, cysts, or other problems that are found.  Basically, five or six slits are made in your stomach, and a surgeon pokes around in there with a camera and a laser and removes all the nasty.  In some cases, this can include removal of organs, including the spleen, appendix, portions of the intestine, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus. The surgery will cause (hopefully) a deep decrease in pain, and an upswing in fertility.  Most women with endometriosis have to have this surgery more than once.  Most of the women I've connected with online have had the surgery at least two or three times.  The thing about endometrial tissue is that it grows back.

"Endometriosis" is a word that I didn't even know three months ago, and since I learned it, it has basically infected my whole world.  Like I said, I never really thought we would have to try overly much to get pregnant.  Reproducing is a biological imperative, right?  So it should be a lot easier than this, one would think.

This, then, has been the main reason for my recent depressive tailspin.  Trying and failing to get pregnant for six months is hard.  Finding out your uterus is broken and you may not be able to have a baby at all is harder.  I love children.  I'm not good at a lot, but I'm great with kids.  I often feel like I was made to be a mom, and it's something I've wanted for a long time.  Since Jimmy and I actively started trying, it's been the thing I've wanted.  

Not to mention, ALL THE PEOPLE are pregnant right now.  It seems like everyone I know is having a baby.  Four friends and family members have announced their pregnancies since we started trying to get pregnant--two of them in the very same week I found out about the endometriosis.  That week was hard. I won't lie to you.  I cried.  A lot.

Please don't misunderstand--I am SO happy for our friends who are pregnant.  They are all such good, sweet, people, and they're going to make amazing parents, and I'll get to snuggle their babies, and I'm weirdly excited about buying their baby shower gifts.  But please also understand that for people having fertility issues, as happy as we are for you, it's hard.  It feels unfair.  And we hate ourselves for feeling like it's unfair, because you're so happy and we're so happy for you.  But at the same time, it's hard, and we struggle, and it hurts.  And not just even when I see pregnant people that I know--every pregnant lady or baby at the supermarket just feels like a kick in the teeth right now.

The reason I'm telling you all this now is because, after many doctors appointments, uncomfortable tests, and a lot of waiting, I finally have a date for my surgery.  I'll be going in for surgery on December 17th.  My wonderful, amazing mother will be coming for a week to take care of me, and then the following week, she and Jimmy and I will be driving back to Illinois for Christmas leave.

Also, I have to add, please don't get offended that I didn't tell you personally.  This is something that is extremely hard for me to talk about.  Before this blog post, five people besides me, my husband, and my doctor knew about this: my mom and dad, my boss, (who was super understanding about me missing work for doctors' appointments), the woman who covered me at work while I was at said appointments, and my friend who is a nurse who let me endlessly pick her brain about medications and symptoms and other medical things. This shit was pretty strictly need-to-know.

In any event, that's the serious and time consuming shit going on in my life.  My surgery will be the morning of December 17th, and if all goes well, I should get to go home that night.  Thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.

Illinois people, I will be spending Christmas at home at my parents' quietly recovering from major abdominal surgery. By all means, please come visit me, and I will make every attempt to come to Christmas dinners and whatnot, but if I can't make it, please understand.

My lovely friends in general, please be gentle with me.  I'm doing my best to cope with all of this and just do my life right now. But if I don't want to talk about it, please try to understand.  If I seem more depressed than usual, please try to understand.  If you catch my crying over a diaper commercial, please try to understand. 

I appreciate all of you so very much.  If you have questions, ask me!  I also have several resources for you if you're interested:

The Endopaedia

The Center for Endometriosis Care
The Endometriosis Research Center
The CEC Atlanta

Whew.  You can unbuckle now.  Thanks for reading all the way to the end.  That's all from me for now--I'm late for a date with my heating pad.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wrastling; A Super Serious Discussion

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't posted anything in almost a month.  To be perfectly honest, I haven't done much of anything in almost a month.  I've been rather a lot more reluctant than usual.  I look at my crocheting and I go "meh."  I try to clean and I manage maybe six dishes before I'm so overwhelmed that I have to give up.  I sit down to blog and I discover that I have literally nothing interesting to say (this post alone took me nearly three hours).  I haven't even managed to bake.  A box of cookie mix has been sitting on my counter, mocking me, for almost three weeks.  A box of cookie mix.  The kind to which you just add water.  And I haven't been able to put forth the effort to add water and turn it into cookies.  To put it plainly, I've not been well.

In my most recent post on October 8th, I mentioned that it was Mental Health Awareness Week, and touched briefly on the fact that I've been struggling with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager.  This is pretty common knowledge among my family and friends, and it is not something I'm ashamed of.  It's a genetic, biological fact, and I'm no more or less ashamed than I would be if I had come down with the flu.  I don't talk about it very often, because the people closest to me have already heard it all, and people who don't know me well get kind of uncomfortable when I mention that I'm something of an emotional whack-job.  But it's time to tell you all a little about my emotional whacky-ness.

I don't know how many of you suffer from some sort of mental illness. The statistics say at least one in four.   For those of you who are lucky enough to have no experience with depression specifically, let me sum it up for you--it fucking blows.  It sucks every ounce of motivation out of you, convinces you that nothing will ever, ever be better, and leaves you uninterested in doing anything other than climbing into a blanket fort and alternating between sleeping and crying, because you're a shitty person and no one could possibly want to spend any time with you anyways.  Including your dog.

For me, my issues come in spurts and waves.  I'll be going along swimmingly for a while, and then BAM--out of nowhere, and typically (although not always) for no reason, I get so depressed that I have a hard time getting out of bed.  That lasts for however long it lasts, and then I'm okay again for a while.  And then, suddenly, I'm having anxiety attacks over stupid, minor things like whether I left a light on for the dogs or not when I left the house.

Lately, my old frenemy depression has been hanging around a lot.  I'll be perfectly honest, I'm nowhere near as bad off now as I've been at times in the past.  I get my shit together in the morning and go to work.  (Tiny human snuggles are actually a great temporary mood lifter.)  I eat, sleep, and bathe.  There has yet to be a single day when I literally don't get out of bed at all.  Things could be worse. 

Also, this time around, I can pretty much pinpoint the reasons behind the tailspin, which doesn't help much, but it's nice to know why.  I always get a little blue after I visit home, which I did two weeks ago.  I love my husband, and my friends and life in Georgia, but as far as I'm concerned, the light at the end of the Army Wife tunnel is the day we get to move home.  On top of that, it's fall, which means Daylight Savings Time ends, and suddenly it's dark at four in the afternoon, which pretty much anyone who suffers from depression will tell you was the worst fucking idea in history, bar none.  And on top of THAT, I'm going through some pretty serious and time-consuming shit in my personal life, which I'm actually not yet prepared to spew all over the internet.

So, to make a short story very, very long, this is why I've been so scarce this last month.  Other than my trip home, which I'll eventually manage to post about, I haven't really done much of anything worth blogging about.  And even if I had, I probably wouldn't have been able to drum up the effort to write about it.  Sooner or later (hopefully sooner), my brain chemistry will level back out and I'll be my old self again.  But until then, you're all just going to have to bear with me.  I'm chugging along as best I can, and as one of my favorite bloggers would say, I'm trying to wrastle some demons.  So some things, like blog posts and delicious from-scratch baked goods, are falling by the wayside.  I apologize for that, but you've got to do what you've got to do, and I promise I'll be back around eventually.  But for now, I'm taking a break.

To my wonderful, supportive family and friends--I really am okay.  I'll bounce back like I always do.  Thanks for loving me in the meantime.

To all my other readers who've never met me and just read this post that was way too deep for their comfort level--feel free to back away from the crazy woman now.  I won't be offended, I promise.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Totally Obsessed Tuesday: Chicken, Taye Diggs, and Mental Health

Well hello again!  Thanks for visiting again today. 

We're back on track for Totally Obsessed Tuesday again.  I know I skipped the last two weeks, but I hope you all enjoyed the burlap rag wreath tutorial and fabulous dinner party recipes I gave you instead.  Still to come is the paper mache pumpkin tutorial, that I promise I'll get around to before Halloween.  There are also some potentially exciting things going on around here that I can't talk about yet.  But keep checking back for an update!

Anyways, on ToT this week, I give you the following: the most delish chicken casserole you've ever put in your mouth, a new hilarious video obsession, and a slightly more serious topic that I think it's important that we talk about.

3rd Generation Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

So right off the bat, let me tell you that this idea was not my own. In addition to writing my own blog, I also read eight or so other blogs religiously every time they post (though there are many more than eight which I check in with every few weeks). One of my favorites is One Good Thing by Jillee.  Jillee is one of the craftiest people on the planet.  She also has a lot of good recipes (many of them gluten free!) and a contagiously positive outlook on life.  She posts something new EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY DAY.  I can't always manage to post every WEEK.  Really, you should just check her out based on that alone.

But if that's not endorsement enough, earlier this week she blogged about one of the most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth.  She calls it "3rd Generation Chicken and Stuffing Casserole.  It was actually a recipe made for her by her daughter-in-law Kaitlyn, whose mother and grandmother made it before her.

It has five ingredients, guys.  How much easier can you get?

Sadly, I didn't get a picture of it from when I made it last night, because DH and I were too busy stuffing our faces for me to think about it.  If you'd like, you can see Jillee's recipe and photos here, but I'll do a quick recap for you.

You need:
1 package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs if you prefer dark meat)
3 chicken bouillon cubes
2 boxes of stove top brand stuffing
2 cans of cream of celery soup
1 stick of butter, melted

Throw a package of chicken breasts in a pot of water with a few chicken bouillon cubes, and bring the whole thing to a boil.  Your kitchen will smell like Grandma's chicken noodle soup.  It's divine. When the chicken is done cooking, remove the chicken from the water and shred it.  (But make sure you reserve 2 cups of the water for later.)  The easiest way to shred chicken is with a good, high quality mixer.  If, like me, you don't have one of those, break out a couple of forks. 

Spread the chicken along the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Cover it with the cream of celery soup.  I won't lie to you--I was a little skeptical about this.  I've had bad experiences with cream of celery soup in the past.  But I trusted Jillee, and you need to trust me--it all works out fine.  Use the cream of celery.

Top the soup with the stuffing mix.  Pour the melted butter over the stuffing as evenly as you can, and then pour the reserved water over that.  Then, throw it in a 350 degree oven for an hour, UNCOVERED.

It's that simple, guys.  The hardest part is shredding the chicken if you don't have a mixer, and that's not even as hard as it is time consuming.  This dish is probably going to be on our menu at least twice a month.  It really is that good.  Seriously.  Stop at Wal-mart on your way home from work today, and make this casserole. You will thank me later.  ANYONE can make this, I promise!

Okay.  Have I praised it enough?  Are you going to make it?  GOOD.  Go do it and let me know what you think!

The Mommy Show

Remember my very first Totally Obsessed Tuesday post, when I talked to you about one of my favorite Mom blogs, Mommy Shorts?  No?  You don't?  Well go read that shit, because it was a good post.   Then go check out Mommy Shorts and like her on Facebook, because Ilana Wiles is amazing.  On top of having adorable children, an awesome blog, and a normal 9-5 job, now she's doing something new--The Mommy Show.

Basically, Ilana invites various celebrities (including Taye Diggs--drool--and SNL's Rachel Dratch) over to her house to interview them--while her kids do their thing in the background.  At one point, Taye Diggs tries to work her baby-proofed toilet, and Rachel Dratch holds her baby Harlow so Ilana can finally run to the bathroom and pee.  So go check out The Mommy show for a good giggle--and also to drool over Taye Diggs crafting with a three-year-old.

Mental Health Awareness Week

I don't know if you know this, but it's Mental Health Awareness Week.  Having been diagnosed with and medicated for both anxiety and depression since I was about eighteen, this shit is pretty important to me, and a whole lot of other people like me.

I originally had a whole lot to say on this topic. But then, I read today's post from Nicole over at Moms Who Drink and Swear, who is devoting all of her posts this week to mental illness. Basically, she says everything I wanted to say, only a whole lot more eloquently than I ever could.  She also manages to make it relatable and amusing at the same time.

If you know or love someone who struggles with a mental illness (and let me clear this up for you; you DO, even if you don't know it), please go check out her posts this week.  Today, she wrote about Three Things You Need to Know and Understand About Mental Illness, which includes a really amazing video of Stephen Frye discussing bipolar disorder.

Stephen said "One in four people, like me, have a mental health problem.  Many more people have a problem with that... Once the understanding is there, we can all stand up and not be ashamed of ourselves, then it makes the rest of the population realize we are just like them but with something extra." 

I think Nicole and Stephen perfectly sum up everything on this topic that people need to hear. So please, go educate yourself a little.  Then, click the share button and educate some other people.

Alright, I'm off my soapbox now.  Don't forget to like and share RHW on Facebook, and keep checking back for those exciting new updates.

Georgia National Fair

First, let me apologize for exploding all over the blog today.  Things have been pretty crazy busy around here the last week or so, and this is the first day I've had entirely to myself to sit down and write.  So settle in with some coffee or something, because I have A LOT to tell you about.  (But I'm going to break it up into several posts. So keep coming back.)

For starters, this past weekend, friendboss Courtney, her boyfriend Chad, Gavin, DH and I took a trip to the Georgia Fair in Perry, GA.  Perry is about two hours away from here, but the copious amounts of fried everything available made the trip totally worth it.

This photo depicts every fried thing you could ever want to eat in life.  There were; fried Oreos, fried Twinkies, fried Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, fried cheesecake, fried Snickers, fried corn dogs, and four variations of funnel cake.  And that's just from this ONE vendor, on this ONE table.  Also available were fried green tomatoes (which I tried for the first time in my life, and they tasted rather a lot like pickles), fried cookie dough, french fries, onion rings, apple dumplings, elephant ears, and deep fried vegetables.

Basically, Courtney and I ate our weight in fried foods.


Then there were the taffy apples.  Gavin chose the one that looked like a pumpkin. 

And then, of course, there were the rides.

Jimmy and Chad went on this ridiculous thing that spun you around and around while simultaneously whipping you upside down.

Chad somehow managed to make sitting in a giant bumble bee look cool.

Jimmy decided to start teaching Gavin about road rage at an early age.

Gavin and I went on a giant pirate ship that he decided he hated about half way through.  Then, about an hour later, he decided that he wanted to go on another ship ride--which was exactly the same, but Egyptian themed.  I guess the Eye of Ra made it less terrifying.

Gavin conned everyone into going into the various funhouses with him at least once.

Courtney and Gavin on the Tilt-a-Whirl.

And of course, various pictures were taken of Gavin being adorable.

Not pictured are the Arctic Blast, which goes a LOT faster than it looks, on which Courtney and I squished our men and nearly laughed until we puked; the giant slide, where the carnie told me Gavin would be fine riding NEXT to me instead of ON MY LAP, and I listened to him, (being a professional, after all), and then had a mini heart attack when Gavin was nearly ejected into outer space; and the mouse themed roller coaster, which was supposedly for children.  I have provided an extra large image for your enjoyment.

Let me answer your obvious questions.  Yes, this is the photo that the roller coaster of death took of Courtney, Gavin, and myself.  Courtney really does have a death grip on my arm.  My eyes really are squeezed shut in terror.  Yes.  This is a photo of two grown-ass adults TERRIFIED of a roller coaster geared towards children.  And yes, Gavin is having the time of his life.  He made Chad and Jimmy take him a second time.

In our defense, the thing (called the "Wild Mouse") went WAY FREAKING FASTER than it looked from the ground.  Also, my ass is literally hanging a solid foot and a half over the side of the track, and there is scaffolding whipping past my face.  This thing was intense, okay? 

So there you have it.  The highlights of the Georgia Fair.  Next time, we will wear stretchy pants, and not go on anything with the word "Wild" in the title.

Stayed tuned today to hear about my DIY face mask and face wash, a delish chicken casserole, and a new hilarious video obsession!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Dinner Party: The Recipes


If you haven't read all about our fabulous Pinterest-inspired dinner party, go read all about that first here.

I'll wait.  Really.  Go on.

Okay.  So, I promised you some recipes. Therefore, I bring you; Easiest Ever Meatballs, Addicting Ranch Crackers, Caprese Pops, Easy Onion Dip, Rosemary Olive Oil Bread, Peach Sangria, and BlueberryPom Sangria. Maybe if you're super-duper sweet to Courtney, go visit her blog and ask real nicely, maybe she'll share the recipe for the hot ham and cheese pinwheels she brought.

Most of the recipes are super simple.  I wasn't going for overly complicated.  I was going for delicious comfort food.  Since we all lingered in my kitchen as though tied to the food by an invisible string, I think I was successful.  

The Recipes

Easiest Ever Meatballs

1 bag of your favorite frozen meatballs
1 jar grape jelly

2 bottles chili sauce (can be Heinz, but I made it with the cheap stuff and it was just as good)

Whisk the jelly and the chili sauce together.  Toss everything in the crockpot.  The meatballs do not need to be thawed first.  Cook on low all day, or on high 4-5 hours if pressed for time.  Knock everyone's socks off when you tell them what the ingredients are.  I sadly did not manage to get a picture of the meatballs because they went that fast.

Addicting Ranch Crackers

2 bags oyster crackers
2 packets dry ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup oil (for once I used canola oil and not coconut)
Dill, sea salt, and garlic to taste

Preheat oven to 250.  Mix all ingredients together in a 9x13 glass baking dish, mixing well to coat all crackers.  Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes.  Let cool before serving.

Caprese Pops

One 24-oz tub Formaggio Mozzarella Cheese (in marinade)
1/2 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Cut the tomatoes and cheese balls in half.  Place one half of a tomato flat side down, so the pops will stand up straight.  Pierce it with a toothpick.  Slide half a mozz ball on to the toothpick, and follow with another tomato half so that the cheese is sandwiched between the tomatoes.  Remove to a platter.  Continue until all cheese is used.  Reserve oil marinade to be used as a dip for the rosemary olive oil bread.

Easy Onion Dip

1 package Lipton French onion soup mix
1 1/2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise

Whip together the yogurt and the mayo.  Add in the soup mix and mix until well combined.  Chill 1-2 hours before serving.  This can be made with 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup mayo, but I find that this version tastes just as good, and is of course much healthier.

 Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

This is easily my favorite bread recipe.  Ever.  In the history of the planet. It's also the most complicated of all the recipes in this post.  And it STILL only took me about 2.5 hours.  I decided around three in the afternoon that I felt like making bread, and BAM. It was ready in time for the party.

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon cane sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried)
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (NOT coconut oil, for once)
1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
½ cup bread flour + extra for kneading
1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
dried rosemary, for sprinkling


  • In a large bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for ten minutes.
  • Stir in the salt, rosemary, seasonings, olive oil, and whole wheat flour. 
  • Add the bread flour until the dough forms a ball.
  • Knead on a lightly floured surface for about five minutes, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking, until smooth.
  • Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp paper towel.  Let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
  • Punch down the dough and form it into a round loaf.  Place on cornmeal-dusted parchment paper.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Once the dough has risen, brush gently with egg wash and sprinkle with dried rosemary, and if you like, a little sea salt.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  • Serve with seasoned olive oil, for dipping.
I got this recipe from A Hint of Honey. I would kind of like to go find her and kiss her.  But I don't know where she lives and that would probably freak her out.  So instead, I'm telling all of you to go give her some virtual love on her blog.

I'm not going to lie, I totally did not go out and buy bread flour or whole wheat flour.  I used plain old Gold Medal All Purpose flour, and this bread is still the best thing I've ever tasted in my life.  Also, I used 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary, because I freaking love rosemary.  Other than that, I did everything according to the recipe above, and the result was pure heaven.  I don't care how scary a bread recipe seems, if I can make this recipe, so can you.  And you should.  Because it's wonderful.

 Peach Sangria

1 large bottle Sutter Home White Moscato
1 bottle Tropicana Peach-Mango Juice
1 package red raspberries
1 lime, sliced into quarters
1--1 1/2 cups Sprite

The night before you plan to serve the sangria, combine the wine, juice, raspberries, and lime quarters in a large pitcher.  Refrigerate overnight.  Just before serving, add the sprite.  A little vodka or Triple Sec can also be added to make the drink a little more boozy, but we had it without and it went down just fine.

Blueberry Pom Sangria

1 large bottle Sutter Home Sweet Red Moscato
1 bottle Tropicana Blueberry Pomegranate Juice
1 package strawberries, halved
1 lime, sliced into quarters
1--1 1/2 cups Sprite

The night before you plan to serve the sangria, combine the wine, juice, strawberries, and lime quarters in a large pitcher.  Refrigerate overnight.  Just before serving, add the sprite.  Again, a little vodka or Triple Sec can also be added to make the drink a little more boozy, but we liked it without.

So there you go!  All the recipes I promised you.  If you liked them, please repin them on Pinterest, share this post on Facebook, and don't forget to like RHW on Facebook to stay in the loop!