Sunday, January 31, 2010

Celebrating Baby Elon

This past weekend we celebrated the miracle of soon-to-be-born Elon W Maddox, IV. Our good friends Wes & Jackie Maddox have been blessed to make it to 34 weeks with their little man and hopefully he will bake a little longer before he decides to make his appearance. Either way, we're just thankful he's made it this far! (Jackie was/is in preterm labor; contractions started at 18 weeks and she has been on bedrest for probably 10 weeks now, and in and out of the hospital too many times to count in the last 2 months.) They are such a testament to the Lord's faithfulness and His sovereignty, and even after being told that a pregnancy just wouldn't happen, they never lost faith, and here they are about to meet their son! We had a great time celebrating and showering them with gifts and hugs and a DESSERT bar on Saturday night! Here are just a few pics. If you get a chance, please lift them up to the Father over these next few weeks!











To see all the pictures, just click one of the photos above and it will take you to the Flickr page.




Friday, January 29, 2010

Guess what?

The circus is in town!



After hearing such wonderful things about the new show, we decided to take Mary Ella last night, and I'm so glad we did. She loved every minute! We sat on the second row which made everything even more magical. She loved the clowns, the acrobats, and the dancers, but her favorite act by far was the elephants. They had a pack of elephants that had somehow learned an entire choreography routine to an Indian-sounding song. I'm serious! Who knew you could teach elephants to dance?! It was awesome. I loved all the acrobatic tricks, although most of them made me extremely nervous. I'll have to post some video footage later of some of these stunts. They were unbelievable!
On the way downtown we realized that the show was at 7:30pm instead of 7pm like we thought, but we decided we'd go ahead and get there an hour early. I would highly recommend doing this, because they have a pre-circus show where you can get out on the floor and walk around and basically get up close and personal with every clown, elephant, llama and 'little person' that you'd like to meet. The men on stilts were hilarious. They were moonwalking and hip-hop dancing and stepping over us like it was nothing! They drew doorprizes and had dress-up circus costumes for anyone and everyone to try on, and they gave each of us a plastic red nose to wear.
There were tons of goodies up for purchase but we decided on nachos instead of a $25 glowing twirly stick that would probably be thrown into the potty as soon as we got home. Mary Ella seemed satisfied with our snack of choice, although she kept begging for a jalapeno because she thought they were green beans! Ha! I kept myself far away from the funnel cakes and caramel apples and S'more Puffs (YES, S'more Puffs; see picture below. They looked heavenly.). Overall we had the best time and Mary Ella has been asking to look at these pictures all morning, over and over again.

You can click on any of the photos below to see all of my pictures from the night; they are on my Flickr page.






















Monday, January 25, 2010

If you're not a fat cow by now...

You WILL BE once you eat THIS!

First of all, I'm truly sorry - I know all I've been talking about lately is food. So forgive me while I post yet another recipe. Oops, I meant two recipes. But one is actually somewhat HEALTHY! YAY for me!

Ok first of all, this Orange Chicken Salad. It's an Asian inspired salad so now you can have your Chinese and not feel so guilty. (Unless you do what I did and serve it with egg rolls. Which I highly recommend, by the way.)


Use the lettuce of your choice. Top it with Tyson's breaded chicken tenders (from the frozen section), cut into bite-sized pieces. Add mandarin oranges, chopped green onions, and chow mein noodles. For dressing, use Catalina. It's sweet and tangy and compliments the Asian flavors.
*To give the chicken some added flavor, you can soak it in the juice from the mandarin orange container for a few minutes before adding it to the salad!


Next, let's move on to Mexico. Chile Relleno, anyone?
My Dad is a huge fan of the chile relleno. He calls it the "chile reLLAHNO." Hahaha...
He drove all the way to our house yesterday to deliver a sweet little girl, and so I cooked he and Chad some Mexican dinner.
I didn't have a recipe for these so you can kind of just do what you want.



Ingredients:
Poblano peppers (one for each person)
Ground beef, cooked
Taco seasoning
Shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
1 can enchilada sauce

A poblano looks kind of like a bell pepper but it's longer and a little darker in color...


First, put your poblano peppers on a cookie sheet and put them on broil in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until they are sizzling. Then take them out. They'll be pretty soft at this point. Cut them in half length wise (from the stem to the bottom of the pepper.) Cut off the stemmy part at the top, the part under the stem that has a bunch of seeds on it. I would also recommend using a spoon to scoop out the rest of the seeds, although a few won't bother you.
Lay the halves, skin side down, in a casserole dish, or if you have little individual dishes like these, they are great. Each person gets 1 whole pepper, or 2 halves.
Top with your browned ground beef (that you seasoned with the taco packet), shredded cheese, and pour on a little of the enchilada sauce. Put them in a 400 degree oven and just cook until the cheese is all gooey and melty. At this point I added a little more enchilada sauce, as well as some cheese dip (think: Velveeta + a can of rotel.)

They were GOOD. Serve with your favorite salsa and chips. You can also add sour cream and any of your other favorite Mexican toppings.




Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pure Heaven. With strawberries on top.

Oh wow. I'm thankful I didn't know about this recipe until now, because I'm sure I'd be well over 300 pounds. I woke up at 6:30 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep, so I decided to make breakfast. I found this recipe earlier this week so I had all the ingredients in the pantry. It is seriously the BEST BREAKFAST DISH EVER. EVER. It would be so perfect at a brunch with something savory to go with it!

Baked French Toast with Strawberries

Ingredients:
1/2 loaf French bread
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 T. vanilla
4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Cinnamon Sugar
4 T. butter, melted
Fresh strawberries, sliced
Maple syrup




Cut your french bread into 1-2 inch cubes and place them in a casserole dish. I would suggest going smaller than a 13x9. They need to kind of be smushed together in there.


Combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt in a bowl to make the batter.


Pour the batter over the bread cubes.


Put the bread/batter combo in the fridge and let it sit for a while. The recipe says you can let it sit anywhere from 6-36 hours. But I left it in there for one hour and it was great!

Take it out of the fridge and put into a 350 degree oven. Bake for 45 minutes. It will look like this:


When it comes out, pour the melted butter all over it, and sprinkle it rather generously with cinnamon sugar.
Then, put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

You're all done! Now top it with fresh sliced strawberries and drizzle with maple syrup. You can add some powdered sugar too.


YUM! Now take a BITE! And you can thank me later!




Friday, January 22, 2010

Randomness

This post will be totally random because I don't really have anything much to say... or maybe have a lot I could say but don't know how to link them all together... maybe because they don't link together, in any way, shape or form. Anyhow...

Have you ever used Craigslist? I might be an addict. I can't remember who told me about this but apparently it's really popular and I didn't even know about it until waaaay after the Craigslist killer dude was on the news (remember him? that was creepy.) Anyway, I have been checking it every day. For no purpose, really; I just like to type in random things and see what comes up. You can browse by category, by city, or just type in what you want. And I've also been selling a bunch of stuff too and it's super easy. It's so much easier than eBay because a) it's FREE, b) it's linked to your own area so the people buying are usually close to you and not in OREGON which would require shipping items far away... and c) it doesn't require making a membership or contacting each other through a crazy messaging system; its all through your e-mail. Just this week I sold a lot of Chad's nice shirts, an old cell phone, an old DVR receiver and some of my old shoes. I didn't ship anything - I just met the people in random places like the Publix parking lot and they've all been super nice and super normal and you get your money right then and there, no paypal or anything required! Anyway, you can get some great deals on that site so check it out if you haven't already! (I think my link is to the Bham site so make sure you click on your city on the main page!)

Mary Ella is doing so great at school. I definitely appreciate everyone's encouragement in that area as well. This week she hasn't cried at all and even reached for Miss Wendy on Thursday when I dropped her off! Such a relief! I think she does much better in the smaller class. And of course it helps that I can text her teacher during the day and see what's going on and how she's doing! Eases my mind a little. I took a friend Jennifer's advice and before I put Mary Ella down for bed at night, I tell her what we are going to do the next day; I know she probably can't understand but at the same time I really do think it has helped. I'll tell her "Tomorrow, when we wake up, we're gonna eat a waffle, and some blueberries, and an egg, and some milk, and then we're gonna get in my car and go to... SCHOOL!" [insert excited voice]. I'll tell her she's gonna see Miss Wendy and Maci and ride in the buggy and eat her lunch and read books, etc, I really think this has helped. On Thursday morning when I went to get her up, the first thing she said was "Buggy!" So see? I think she remembered our conversation.

My aunt and uncle and cousin Charlie came into town yesterday. Charlie had a doctor's appointment and I met them for lunch at Jason's Deli after picking Mary Ella up from MDO. They decided to take Mary Ella to Florence with them, and I said YES, of course. (Not that I'm anxious to get rid of her, but I am working this weekend and I knew Chad wanted to go to a boat show at the BJCC on Saturday. Plus she loves to go to the Compound) So today I had the day to myself! I went thrifting to see what I could find. I picked up an unfinished wooden rocking horse at America's Thrift Store for $3 and am going to paint it for the nursery. There are some new consignment stores out in Alabaster and I ended up finding a crib mattress (a Sealy mattress!) for $10! So I was pumped about that. As soon as I clorox it and test it for malaria and diphtheria and scurvy, I'll be a happy camper. I also found some cute bins at WalMart for my changing table but I think they are going to be too tall. I'll have to see. I do love the changing table; it needed a fresh coat of white paint so I took care of that this afternoon.

Curtains. I think I might attempt to make the nursery curtains myself. Has anyone ever done this? The way I see it... it can't be that difficult. I just want tall panels, like the ones you'd buy at Target. And from looking at the other ones, it's just a RECTANGLE, right? With lining. And then I should just be able to fold over and sew the top under to make a hole for the rod. Someone please correct and/or stop me if I shouldn't even think about taking on such a task. I found some fabric today at Hobby Lobby that I love so I might use my 40% off coupon and go get it.

Names. Can you name a baby a shortened version of a long name even if the long version is the "proper way" to name him but you know you'll never call him the long version? (Is that sentence hard to understand or what?) Here is what I mean: Say I liked the name "Ben" but didn't so much care for "Benjamin" and knew I would never call my son Benjamin even if that was his official name... I would just call him Ben. Do you STILL use Benjamin since that is the proper/popular/socially acceptable name? (BTW, I love the name Benjamin and Ben and Benji and Benny and none of these are even on our name list; I'm just using it as an example.) Or do you just go with what you love and with what you will call him all the time and name him BEN? Just wondering everyone's opinion on that topic.

And finally, here's a recipe for ya... courtesy of my E-Mealz membership. This recipe is for 2 people so just double/triple it however you please.

Barbecue Chicken Dinner Packets


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 ears fresh corn
1 can pinto or baked beans
BBQ sauce
Salt & Pepper
Aluminum Foil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 2 pieces of aluminum foil into large rectangles/squares. Place one chicken breast on each piece of foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the can of beans evenly over the 2 chicken breasts. Cover all with BBQ sauce, however much you'd like. Break the ears of corn in half and lay each of the halves beside the breast of chicken. Fold up the sides of your foil and seal them to make "packets." Place the packets on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. YUMMY DELICIOUSNESS! The chicken is so juicy and smoky. Serve with coleslaw or a salad and your favorite crunchy bread. And sweet tea, of course. And pie.




Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nursery Update...

Wow, I can't thank all of you enough for your input and advice (and encouragement!) on my nursery post! So I'll say it 3 times in real big letters:

THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!!

I loved reading your comments and suggestions and your Facebook messages that some of you sent with your experience in this same situation. (I feel like I am dealing with an earth-shattering dilemma here... not so much... it's nursery furniture... but still, I feel so relieved to know so many of you have been at the same place.)

One of my major concerns, which I mentioned in the post, was budget. I wanted to go with the cheapest, safest, but at the same time the most reasonable option; and there wasn't just one solution, there were many (and I realized that thanks to all of you!) I knew it would work out for the best either way. And guess what? In a matter of 48 hours after I posted on my blog, the Lord provided. A good friend of mine read my post and basically offered to let me use her LIKE NEW Jenny Lind white crib - for free - for as long as I need it! The crazy thing is that I have always loved this particular crib; I think because I love the spindles and it reminds me so much of the one I had when I was a little baby. And I knew I wanted something white. So of course I was like "YES! YES! ARE YOU SERIOUS?! YES! THANK YOU JESUS! YES!" Crib dilemma = solved!

Then, 24 hours after that, the changing table dilemma was solved as well. I actually had my mind set on finding a small dresser with drawers to use as the changing table; I was going to look for it at thrift/consignment stores and then be prepared to do a paint job or change out hardware, etc. I love a project. But I also love not having to do projects if something is in good-enough condition. I was browsing Craigs List and a sweet mommy in Pinson had a changing table with a contour changing pad listed for $30 (for both). And guess what? It happened to be the white Jenny Lind changing table that matches the crib. What?!?! How insanely crazy is that? And the changing table is pretty much brand new too. I called the lady and she is going to meet me tomorrow with it. Now, it's the type that has the shelves - the type I didn't know if I wanted or not - but for $30 including the pad, you won't hear me complaining!

I'm just in awe of how it all worked out. And thankful, of course. So, so thankful.



Monday, January 18, 2010

Monkey Trouble

The trouble with little monkeys is that they are always getting into mischief. A few nights ago Mary Ella was strangely silent (which we all know is bad news) and Chad looked over the countertop and saw this:



I'm certainly glad the oven door decided to bear her weight and I'm even more glad that there was nothing cooking in the oven.

Mary Ella has decided that she loves to "help" Momma do this or that... whether its wiping the countertops, loading the dishwasher (meaning I load it, she unloads it, I load it again) and as of late, feeding Lucy. We keep the dog food in a tall plastic rubbermaid container in the laundry room. It's about her height and she's seen us scoop out Lucy's food so many times that now she has decided she wants to help. So this morning I let her scoop out the food and pour it into Lucy's bowl. We set it on the floor for Lucy to eat. I go back to the sink to finish loading the dishwasher. A few moments later I look behind me to see that Mary Ella has taken each morsel of dog food and placed it in Lucy's water bowl. Lucy's just sitting there helpless; if she could roll her eyes I'm sure she would have. I wasn't quick enough to grab my camera right then but I did notice that Mary Ella was sporting some new bling - bling that she apparently dug out of my jewelry box. This necklace belonged to Chad's Granny. She has moved to an assisted living facility and Chad's family was cleaning out some of her stuff yesterday and they sent this home with him to give to Mary Ella. I put it in my jewelry box. She found it.




This afternoon I decided to start dinner. I am making French Dip sandwiches but cooking the steak in the crockpot. I had just purchased a can of beef broth earlier this morning and I swore I had put it in the pantry where I put all my canned goods. Nope. Silly me; I must've put it in the tent that we made out on the deck this morning... along with a sippy cup, a baby doll, and a can of mandarin oranges. Ha... the monkey strikes again. I came back inside to find this:



Now it's naptime. Ahhhhh.



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