Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

I know I'm a little late to the party on that one, but today was pretty busy.

After a short visit to the National Infantry Museum (it was closed), The Lunch at Denny's That Wouldn't End (we were there for over an hour before we got our food), and another trip to Wal-Mart, I basically cooked all afternoon.

I'll admit I was feeling a little blue--mostly homesick.  I always feel that way around holidays we don't get to go home for, but for some reason, this Easter it felt a bit worse than normal.  It seems like Jimmy and I were the only people on post who didn't go home and spend Easter with family, or have anyone come here to visit.  Most Easters, I'd be spending Thursday, Friday, and Sunday morning with my church family, doing church related things, and then Sunday there would be a big to-do with my family at my Aunt Carole's house that would include a Honey Baked Ham.  This year was different.  Good, but different, and it left me feeling a little sad.

So, naturally, I cooked. We had ham with the neighbors while watching Duck Dynasty, so I made scalloped potatoes, sauteed zucchini, and a favorite tradition from home--lamb rolls. 

They're a favorite of my Mom and I, and the rolls are so easy to make--mostly because they start out frozen!  Mom found them in a magazine one year, and they've been my favorite bread to bring to Easter ever since.  Here's what you'll need:

15 Rhodes frozen dinner rolls, thawed but still cold.
1 egg, beaten
1 dried cranberry
Sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On greased or papered baking sheet, cut 12 rolls into fourths.  Leave one roll whole, and cut the remaining two in half.


Arrange the quartered rolls in the shape of lamb’s body and top of head.   Shape the whole roll into an oval for the face.  Place on one side of the upper body.  Take a half roll and shape it for the ear (set on top of the rolls that make the head) and another half for the tail.  Take the last two halves and place them below the lamb in the shape of a “U” for the legs.

Brush the lamb with egg, and place the dried cranberry on the face for an eye.  Sprinkle all but the face, tail, ear and legs with sesame seeds.   

Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise 30-45 minutes. DO NOT MAKE THE NIGHT BEFORE.  The dough should only rise for an hour maximum—otherwise you will be left with a supersized lamb that is mushy and doesn’t bake right.  Yes, I am speaking from experience...

I let this lamb rise for half an hour on top of the preheating oven, and it turned out perfectly.  After it is done rising, remove wrap and bake for 20 minute at 350 degrees.  You will be left with a lovely, seasonal pull-apart bread that didn't take all that much work!

If y'all have any more Easter events this season, try it and let me know what you think!  Even if you don't, this is good to make just for a fun spring-y substitute to a plain dinner roll.

Pizza Fondue


Yesterday, I made the horrific mistake of going grocery shopping the day after payday and the day before a major holiday... Never again.  It took me until now to recover enough to post anything.  (This is my excuse for not posting yesterday, and I'll stick to it through all the tortures of hell.)

In other news, Pizza Fondue is what was for dinner.  Jimmy had a 24 hour duty yesterday, and his dinner break was quite short.  So I needed something quick and easy, and something that would keep for a while if he didn't get home exactly when he was supposed to.  Pizza Fondue to the rescue!  It's one of the easiest recipes EVER.  Literally.  You brown up some ground beef and onion, then throw it in a crock pot with cheese, pizza sauce, and some spices.  Once the cheese melts, you serve it fondue-style with pieces of french bread, and BAM.  You have dinner.

I threw it together in a hurry so I could babysit for Mike and Caitlyn while they went out to dinner, so I didn't get any pictures of the process.  But it's so simple! 

Here's what you'll need:

1 medium onion, chopped
Two 10 ½ oz cans pizza sauce
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ green pepper, chopped fine
10 oz cubed cheddar cheese
1 lb ground beef
1 ½ tsp fennel
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1 ½ tsp oregano
1 loaf French bread


1.       Brown meat, with onion and green pepper.
2.       Put all ingredients except mozzarella cheese into crock pot on low.
3.       Once the cheddar cheese melts, put in the mozzarella cheese.  Serve with slices of French bread when all cheese is melted.

I     I actually don't use the green pepper, simply because I don't like it.  And I'm a salt addict, so I tend to throw in some seasoned salt just for good measure. And I'm not super fond of mozzarella cheese, so I don't always use the full 8 ounces. Clearly, this recipe is something that easily adjusts to your personal tastes. Since this is supposed to be a "fondue," I serve it in bowls with torn off bits of french bread on the side.  Sliced bread is so overrated.

      Here's what the finished product should look like:  


Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Name is Wesley, and I Have a Problem...

I'm maybe kind of sort of almost a little tiny bit addicted to

First off, I want to say I blame our neighbors, Mike and Caitlyn, for this development.  Jimmy and I don't have cable.  We have Netflix, so we never watch TV or see commercials.  Lately, when we're over at their house watching new episodes of Duck Dynasty (which I can't believe I just admitted to watching, in writing,   on the internet), the f#%$*@^ commercials come on ALL the time.

So of course, I was curious what all the fuss was about.  And what do you know, they have a fourteen day free trial going on.  And now I can't stay off my laptop.  I need to know.

I don't know why I need to know.  I'm not especially interested in history in general. Most of my relatives that I'd find out anything new about are long dead. Actually, I didn't even meet most of them.  But suddenly, I'm nothing short of obsessed with finding out everything I can about them.

I have actually found some pretty cool stuff.  I found a photo of the actual passenger manifest from the ship that brought my paternal grandmother to the states.  I also discovered that my paternal great-grandfather (whose name was Clifford--no, not joking), was a doctor.  (And just what the hell happened to all those braniac genes between him and me, I might ask???)

I'm actually freaking myself out a little with how interested I am in all of this.  Is this weird?  Have I totally gone off the deep end, or is this just what happens when you're a night person and have loads of technology at your fingertips?

Friday, March 29, 2013

More Elbow Grease

Oh my gosh, guys.

I'm so freaking tired.

Yesterday, I scrubbed every bit of upholstered furniture I own.  I vacuumed.  I mopped. I shoved furniture around. Most of this was done while dancing around my living room singing along with Luke Bryan.

Holy crap.  Cleaning is hard work.

I suppose I should clear up a misconception before it has the chance to get started.  I respect the hell out of stay-at-home moms. I think what they do is awesome.  All the cooking and cleaning and organizing and caretaking and whatnot.  They're like the backbone of their entire family, and I think that it's super cool that some women are able to devote themselves to their families like that.

I mean, think about it.  There are women out there who make everyone's lunch, get the kids dressed and off to school (a battle all by itself), and then clean the house, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, pick the kids up, deal with homework and dinner and bathtime and bedtime.  Then they still somehow find the time to embroider curtains, and sew pillows, and make all sorts of kid friendly crafts, and THEN they blog about it.

Just thinking about it makes me tired.

So when I say I hate doing all these housewife-y things, I'm really not dissing the housewives.  I couldn't do what they do, and I think it's awesome that they can.  I just don't enjoy doing any of the tasks that make up their work.  Likewise, I think working moms are awesome.  Because doing any of the above, and then having to deal with working 40 hours a week and dealing with the public might make me want to stab someone.  In the face.  With a hot cooking fork.

Anyways, today I'm just taking it easy.  James is at a paintball tournament, and I'm reveling in the cool, quiet of my (mostly) clean living room.  Tomorrow it'll be back to the housework grind, but for today, this housewife is taking the day off.

Oh, I should also add that I have the coolest Mom EVER.  She MAILED me an Easter basket:

So I shall relax in the quiet while reading a Stephanie Plum novel and nomming on Easter chocolate.

This, my friends, is what an awesome Friday looks like.

The List Lover In Me

For starters, I should apologize for my apparent ADD.  For real, someone needs to put some adderall in my coffee or something.  I wrote this post at like ten in the morning on Thursday.  And then it was oooh! I should clean! And then ooh, dinner.  Oh, Lost Girl!  Bonfire!!  Shiny!!! 

And now it's 2 in the morning on Friday and I'm just finishing/posting this.  So if the timeline is a bit off... That's why.

I should mention something else I did yesterday.  It's something I do twice a month, and it's a pretty time consuming event when it happens.  However, it makes my life a lot easier than it would be without it:  I menu plan like a boss.

Let me explain my relationship with food.  I come from a family of bad-ass female cooks.  My mom and my Aunt Carole are amazing in the kitchen, and I can only hope to someday be as awesome as they are.  My grandmother, not so much.  She cooked with marshmallow fluff.  But my mom and her sister learned from her mom, who was also a bad-ass cook. (We're really not sure what happened with Grandma.)  We still have recipes of hers that we use, and that my children will probably use, and their children too, because my kids will damn well know how to cook.

But anyways, I started learning to cook with my mom when I was pretty young.  It's an integral part of who I am. Some people, when they're sad, or upset, or just plain bored, like to clean (a trait I will never understand). My mom's best friend Kathi is one of these people.  It takes all kinds, right?  But some people watch trashy TV, or stuff themselves with chocolates.  Some people who are clearly much healthier than I will go for a run or a swim or work it off at the gym.  (Honest to God that wasn't supposed to rhyme.)  But me?  I cook.

When my Grandmother died, I made six batches of muffins.  When my cat died, I made three cakes, some muffins, a pan of lemon bars and a pot of chili.  When my husband was in Iraq, I took baked goods to work with me just about every week.  Cooking is just how I deal with things.  But it's also something I enjoy doing on a regular basis, because I really love to eat good food.

However, my husband and I are on a budget. So I can't always cook like I want to.  Thus, my menu planning scheme was born. These are the tools I use to do it:

It looks a lot scarier than it is, I promise.

The pink notebook is my Kitchen Bible.  In it, I have written down every dinner meal I know how to make.  This includes a main entree, and usually one or two sides.  I write down meals like this, and not just individual foods, so that I never have to screw around with "Okay, so we're having chicken piccata... what should I make with it?"  because it's right there.  Rice and spinach go with chicken piccata.  Duh. 

The black and swirly colors binder is where all my typed recipes are.  Not going to lie, most of them come straight from my mother's recipe box.  The calendar is out because I write the dinner menu on it for every day, and also so I can keep track of how many meals I need to make before the next payday.  The computer is open for Pinterest (again, duh).  The paper on the left is all the meals Jimmy and I have chosen for these next two weeks, and the paper on the right is the start of a grocery list.  The only thing not pictured there is this app:

This app is amazing.  If you have a iPhone and love to make lists, stop reading and go download it right now.  I'll wait.

This is another view of the same app.  In the free version, you can have up to four lists (including your pantry inventory), and you have access to all the coupons you could ever possibly want, and then a few hundred more.

Anyways, here's how it goes.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are "box meal" days (what Jimmy calls Hamburger Helper), in order to stay on budget.  Saturdays are Crock Pot days, for two reasons. One, because I have an almost unhealthy obsession with my crock pot, and two, because I like Saturdays to be lazy, and how much lazier can you get than a crock pot?  Then, the Friday after payday is our Takeout Day, and then one random day in the pay period is a Jimmy Cooks day, which usually includes something on the George Foreman. 

So, of the fifteen or so days between paydays, eight of them are already accounted for. Then a few days before payday, Jimmy and I sit down and go through the Kitchen Bible.  We pick out what meals we want for those eight days, we choose the two crock pot meals, and Jimmy decides what he wants to cook.

Here ends Jimmy's involvement with the whole process.

After this, I sit down and figure out what meals go on what days.  After some arranging and rearranging, I put them on the calendar.  I also write a list that includes sides and where the recipe can be found (Pinterest, saved to my e-mail, in my recipe book, or in a cookbook), and keep that in the front of the Kitchen Bible.

Then I go through every recipe and make a grocery list of what we'll need for each meal that we don't already have.  I do this by hand on a sheet of paper.  Totally the dark ages, I know, but it helps me consolidate if I need to. Otherwise I end up with "chicken breasts, 2 pounds" on the list in List Ease twice, and I don't know whether I need two pounds and entered it twice, or I really need four pounds.

Anyways, once I have all that written out, I add it to the grocery list in my phone that has been accumulating since about five minutes after we got home from the commissary the last time.  (In case anyone doesn't know, the commissary is the grocery store on any Army post.  I don't know why they can't just call it the grocery store.  Probably because it's the Army and they have to have a super-special name for EVERYTHING. But whatever.)

After that's done, my life is fairly simple.  Every morning, I look at the calendar and see what's on the menu, and I can be confident that I won't have to send Jimmy for beef broth right in the middle of making dinner because I just discovered we don't have any.  I don't ever have to think about "God, what do I make for dinner?" because I thought about it two weeks ago.  So while it seems like a LOT of hassle while I'm doing it, it actually makes things way easier.

And later today, when it's not two in the morning, I'll post about what I actually did on Thursday.  For now, I'm overdue for a date with my pillow.

I promise I'll be more coherent tomorrow.  Maybe.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Elbow Grease and Laundry Day

You know what I hate about laundry?

It's never, ever over.

Never.  Unless you decide to go naked for a week, there will always be more.  You recall that Tuesday, when I came home, more laundry had materialized.  I did that all of that, (at the neighbor's house, because our dryer is broken, and screw laundromats) and then thought to myself whew! Done with THAT noise!

Except not.  Because MORE laundry was hiding in the living room that I cleaned yesterday.  It just never, ever ends. Ugh.

I should mention that my best friend, her daughter (my goddaughter and the prettiest little girl this side of the Mississippi), and her parents are coming to visit next weekend (insert high-pitched girlish squeal here), and our house kind of looks like a disaster zone. Don't get me wrong, we aren't living in our own filth or anything, but there's random crap everywhere; the knickknacks and doodads that never got put in their real homes when we moved in, the shelves we still haven't hung, that sort of thing.  Then there's this lovely layer of Simon hair over all of it.

Anyways, there will be people here in less than two weeks, and the house is in no shape for it.  So this is why I've been cleaning everything in sight all week, and avoiding the horror story that is our living room.  But Caitlyn was cleaning hers yesterday, and I was inspired, so I cleaned ours.

It's now mostly clutter free, (although I still get to sweep, vacuum, and mop) and I did something I've never done before. I scrubbed the upholstery.  Caitlyn had been cleaning her couch with a mixture of laundry detergent, fabric softener and hot water, and I thought Huh. Why didn't I think of that?

Because I wasn't mentally or emotionally prepared for the filth I would discover, that's why.

We have this micro-suede armchair that I got for $12 at a Goodwill back home.  It's big and cozy, and it was twelve dollars. I mean, come on.  In retrospect, I really should have done this cleaning thing when I bought it. But I didn't, and it sat (and was sat on) in my Raleigh apartment for nine months, and then came with us to Fort Benning, where it became a drop zone for anything that we didn't feel like putting away just then.

I consider myself to be a fairly clean person.  So, alright, I'm not so good with the clutter, but I consider that to be "relaxed with my personal space," not dirty.  I sweep and mop regularly, out of necessity because our entire house has linoleum floors.  I clean the kitchen obsessively, to the point you would think I don't want people to know that I actually cook there.  The dogs get a bath every time they dig in the yard.  Lysol and multi-surface Pledge are on the list of top 100 things that make me happy. I don't do dirt, okay?

But this chair.  It took three buckets of the hot-water-fabric-softener-laundry-detergent mixture to clean the whole thing, because the water turned colors I didn't know existed, and I simply couldn't justify using it to clean anymore.  I mean, it didn't look dirty.  It wasn't stained, it didn't have globs of food or spilled juice or anything on it.  But once I started cleaning it, I realized how thoroughly disgusting it was.

In fact, I'm so disgusted by the whole ordeal, I now feel compelled to repeat entire performance on every piece of upholstered furniture I own before I sit on it again.  So I guess now I've revealed my agenda for today...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Random dog picture

Because I'm in bed with my laptop at 10:45 at night with nothing better to do.  This is River, our 10 month old Border Collie/Jack Russell/maybe-other-stuff shelter mix, chilling on the couch in a very un-dog-like position.

Pre-Payday Dinner Blues

Well, it's three days before payday, and that means the same thing to roughly 90% of the working class that it does to me; there's not a damn thing left in the house to cook for dinner.  My husband (reading over my shoulder) would like me to point out that we still have "box dinners" (Hamburger Helper), which is true.

Except we have no hamburger.  Or chicken.  I think we *might* have two cans of tuna in the pantry, but I'm too afraid of canned fish to try those.  So really, we have lots of helper, but nothing in the fridge to help.

Oh, and there's frozen tilapia.  But Frozen Tilapia Alfredo doesn't sound super appealing to me.

Anyways.  My lovely neighbor Caitlyn turned me on to these Hamburger Helper Complete Meal things, which apparently have everything you need right there in the box, except for the water and in some cases, the milk.

 Not going to lie, I was a little skeptical.  Anything in the non-refrigerated section of the grocery store that claims to have chicken right there in the box makes me a little nervous.  But hey, pre-payday, and this box costs $2.65 at the commissary, so there you go.

This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven.  Still skeptical.  It was supposed to be nine one-inch biscuits, not one nine-inch biscuit...

Anyways, once you get it on a plate it kind of looks like chicken pot pie.  And it turns out it pretty much tastes like chicken pot pie too. Jimmy and I both went back for seconds, which turned out to be basically the whole pan.  And this whole rant about a boxed meal is to tell you one thing;  these things are awesome.

See, I love to cook.  I'm actually a pretty damn good cook, and it's one of the few domestic housewife-y things I enjoy.  So these things are never going to be the bread and butter of my cookbook, but for three days before payday and cupboards like Old Mother Hubbard's, these things are kind of a lifesaver.

On another note, I suppose I have to admit that being home all day day sometimes has its perks.  Like the fact that today I went to get a massage and manicure in the middle of the day, courtesy of the--how often do I have to ask you not to read over my shoulder?!  Yes, you, James.  Watch the show.

Excuse my husband's interruption.  And just as I was about to say how wonderful he was for the gift certificate to Caravail's Day Spa so I could get all these lovely things done that he got me for Valentine's Day.  Now I've lost my train of thought.  In any event, there are perks to being home all day.  But then I came home, and more laundry had materialized since I had been gone... So you'll excuse me if I hold off on getting too excited.  In the meantime, I have to go change over the laundry.

I know.  My life is so exciting.  It's okay to be jealous.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Welcome to the Reluctant Housewife...

My name is Wesley.  I'm a military wife, part-time nanny, and full-time Pinterest addict.  I work full time every other week caring for an adorable four year old named Gavin.  The opposite weeks, I alternate between playing with our dogs, Simon and River, cleaning my house, procrastinating cleaning my house, and wanting to gouge my eyes out with a soup spoon.

Let me explain something.  I love my husband, very much.  I've gotten accustomed to living on-post in Fort Benning, Georgia.  We've become friends with the neighbors, and I truly enjoy my job on the weeks that I work. But I was not built to be a housewife, even part time.  I'm not a "stay at home" kind of person.  I like to work, and I LOVE to be busy.  On my weeks off, that's exactly what I end up doing.  I stay at home doing housewife-y things, like cooking and cleaning and laundry and dishes.

Gag me with a spoon.

Not a good attitude, I know.  So, in an effort to not rip my hair out or stab my husband in the face the next time he leaves dirty laundry THREE FEET FROM THE BASKET... I've decided to blog about it.  I'll post recipes, cleaning tricks I find, random pictures of my dogs, nanny crafts and activities, more random pictures of my dogs, and really whatever else strikes my fancy.

Really, I'm just as curious to see what's going to come out of my mouth as you are... So stay tuned.