Back at it!

Life gets busy sometimes!

You may have noticed an intense absence from this blog.  There’s a good reason, I promise!

This summer I got a job. My first REAL job since becoming a mom that wasn’t watching other children. And boy, did I hit the jackpot with it!

I decided on a whim one day to apply for a job in social media for a local summer beer venue. The process involved writing samples and creativity, and to my unending surprise they liked me! What followed next was a crazy busy, whirlwind summer that I loved every minute of!

The job gave me the flexibility to still work from home most of the time, and a big creative outlet. It was a struggle at times to find a balance between work projects and the house full of children (YES, I stayed open for childcare through it all!), but I forgot how much I love a challenge.

We’ll get to a post that talks more about it, and my thoughts on how being a work-from-home mom is not as glorious as it sounds. But for now, I’m happy to be back and building this blog back up!

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Grilled Buffalo Chicken Burger- Vote for me!

I’ve had a ROUGH week you guys.

Packing up my grandmother in law to move to assisted living, garage broken into and stuff stolen, papa in the hospital…it’s been tough.

So then this morning, I got this email. My recipe for grilled buffalo chicken burgers is a finalist in a contest.

I need a win, you guys.

So, here is the link. Take a look at the recipe and vote for the grilled buffalo chicken burgers. They’re amazing. I promise.

buffalo chicken burger

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Burgers

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To conceive or not to conceive

It’s happening again.

I’ve got baby fever, y’all. HARD CORE, relentless gimme-that-newborn-so-I-can-sniff-it baby fever.

Here I am 20 days out from my 29th birthday, two kids in and DYING for a third.

There’s just one problem.

My little sister’s getting married. Next June. And I’m her matron of honor.

If it wasn’t for this wedding, that IUD would be out and we’d be baby making right now. RIGHT NOW. But now, I’m struggling.

Is there some kind of etiquette with this?

I feel like no option is really all of that great. Say I get pregnant now. Then I’ve got a teeny tiny newborn that’s either crying in the pews or hubby misses the ceremony. I get to pray I don’t go off like a squirt gun and nail the bride in the head with milk at the alter the second I hear them peep (how’s that picture? You’re welcome). Likely be tired and have to leave the ceremony early…that’s clearly no bueno.

Say it takes me a few months to get pregnant. Then I’m a house at her wedding. The big giant house wrapped in tulle behind the teeny tiny bride. Waddling down the aisle with my swollen ankles and sciatic nerve pain. Praying I can make it through the toast without needing to pee. And forget having a drink with that toast… So this option isn’t looking pretty either.

If I wait until it’s ALMOST wedding time? Then at least my dress will fit, and I’ll be slightly less house-like. But early pregnancy symptoms with all of the month before wedding rush doesn’t exactly thrill me either. Hello, nausea.

So that leaves waiting. SO HARD. Because I REALLY want that baby. I love my family SO much. We just don’t feel “complete” yet, you know? Everyone we know is expecting or just had new babies. (Seriously, it feels like everyone except me is pregnant. It’s crazy). And I see hubby’s eyes light up when the little baby at our son’s taekwondo classes chews on her little perfect baby feet. I feel so overwhelmingly pulled to have a third that it hurts. My uterus is crying, people. It feels painful to have to wait. Plus, that puts us at next June. Which will put me at 30. Not the end of the world, I know. And lots of people wait, yadda yadda. It’s just that I thought I’d be done with pregnancies by 30. That was our plan. 3 babies by 30. Then done. I know how lucky I am to be able to have that decision to make, so it feels silly to even be whining. But what if I wait and things get complicated and we can’t conceive? Is that a silly fear?

Waiting seems like the practical option, but does it need to be practical? Would being pregnant at the wedding really be the end of the world? Should I be consulting her? Why is this so big in my head?

Ugh.

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What Married Sexting Looks Like (totally suitable for work)

I’m in cleaning mode today. I figured if I didn’t send Hubby proof, he’d never believe me when I told him I actually worked upstairs. Kids, you know? Here’s how that played out:

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Oh hey! The carpet in the kids room is green!

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No pretending I can’t see the litterbox today.

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Oh yeah…that’s a pretty carpet.

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You like that?

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Things are gettin craaaazy.

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Phew! I’m spent. And my work here is done. Time to kick back and read!

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Procrastination

I’ve been procrastinating lately.

With my posts.

My garden.

My projects.

I can’t help it. The weather is gorgeous. I’ve been enjoying hanging out with my kids. A little extra alone time with the hubby. Getting out with friends.

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Homebrewing, drinking red wine, cooking.

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Getting out on the town (breweries, I love you so hard)

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Walking at dusk. Sitting at a fire.

I solemnly swear to start posting again.

But the silence was amazing for a little while.

Recharged, folks!!

Couple of projects over the next few days – homebrewing so a fresh tap is ready for our big cookout at the end of the month. A baby shower cake for a friend. A sewn gift that I left until last minute.

But first- a walk in a beer garden. Because summer is short.

Love y’all. Thanks for your patience.

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Cookies and cream pancakes

I have been out of my groove lately.

I’ve been in this funk that has been sucking me dry mentally. I’ve been happy enough going through my days. But at the end when I’ve been sitting down to right, I just feel like I have nothing left. Trudging on, I suppose.

Left foot, right foot. Left foot….

Cooking always makes me feel better. It’s just therapeutic. Relaxing. Calming.

So the past few days, I’ve been cooking up a storm. Using it as reflection time to figure out what the heck it is that’s been bothering me.

Let’s start with breakfast.

Cookies and cream pancakes.
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…I believe I’ve said enough.

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The kids liked them with chocolate syrup, mini marshmallows, and a little whipped cream. I’m still a fan of regular old butter and syrup.

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Either way – a delicious and easy way to jazz up your weekend breakfast routine!

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Cookies and Cream Pancakes

2 cups bisquick
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
8 oreos, crushed

Preheat nonstick griddle. Mix together all ingredients. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon batter onto heated griddle, flipping when bubbles form.

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Bacon-Wrapped, Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Happy (Belated) Mother’s Day! I hope you all had a great one and got to celebrate with or remember mom. My Mother’s Day was pretty perfect. Hubby made breakfast (my overnight French toast) and let me get Taco Bell for lunch (I know, I know…it’s my guilty pleasure). Bug drew me a picture that is now hanging on my fridge.

My Bug loves me

My Bug loves me

And Batman MADE me a board game. All his own idea. All his own implementation (except Hubby cut the cards). He calls it “Candyland Minecraft”, and it’s actually playable. We must have played about 20 rounds that morning. Have I mentioned he’s only 4, y’all?

Candyland Minecraft

Candyland Minecraft

After a nap time that I thoroughly and non-guiltily enjoyed with my kiddos, we went to my moms for pizza with the rest of the family. Follow that up with the extra long bubble bath + red wine while Hubby got the kids to bed and I was one happy, happy momma.

Then Monday came in like the reality check it so often is. Hoooo-ly man.

So the day started out ROUGH. My bonus kiddos were here as usual bright and early. And Rose was a roller coaster. I swear it was like having a little tiny teenager, the emotional roller coaster that girl was on today. Which of course didn’t sit well with the other kids who just added fuel to her fire. By nap time I was like TONIGHTINEEDALLOFTHEWINE.

Today stressed me out financially, too. It’s like that some weeks. I know that in a lot of ways, we are better off than so many people, so I feel guilty even complaining. But money is TIGHT this week. So I find myself stretching with cupboard meals, saying no to treats that I normally wouldn’t hesitate to get, and holding my breath until Friday.

Karma must have decided that I was due for a cash in, however. Either that, or my mother is simply amazing. I’m betting it’s a little bit of both. I never complained about things being tight, but it was as if somehow she just knew. Because today she showed up with a car full of groceries and a bouquet of flowers. She told me that she wanted me to make her a batch of vegetarian stuffed poblanos, decided to go to the store to buy the ingredients, and just got a little carried away. Let me tell you…her definition of “a little carried away” is an understatement.

I LOVE that woman.

I genuinely hope that I make as much of an impact in people’s lives as she does in mine. I don’t think she realized how much of a relief that was to me until I hugged her and cried. So very grateful for that gesture. It turned around my whole day.

So, I’m sure most of you came here for the title teaser. Oh yes, you read that right. Bacon-wrapped, broccoli cheese stuffed pork tenderloin.

So when I started thinking about dinner, I had healthier intentions. I thought “cool, broccoli cheese tenderloin sounds delicious”. And then my day happened. And the closer it got to dinner time, the more I thought that I would wrap my feelings and the tenderloin in delicious, delicious bacon and eat them.

You can TOTALLY buy bacon

You can TOTALLY buy bacon

So I did.

Drooling

Drooling

You could TOTALLY skip the bacon like I had originally intended. But do you want to though. Really?

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Bacon-Wrapped, Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin (approx 1 1/2 pounds)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped broccoli, fresh or frozen

6-8 slices bacon

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim any fat off of tenderloin. Cut the meat so that it is butterflied the long way, being careful not to slice all of the way through. Stuff with cheese and broccoli. Fold in half, holding tightly while wrapping with bacon to secure. Wrap the bacon so that the entire tenderloin is covered, and any edges are tucked under the meat. Season with pepper.

Place tenderloin on parchment lined baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until meat thermometer reads 145 degrees. Pull out of oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Throwdown Challenger- Blondies

Go, go, go! That’s been my mantra this morning. We’ve been on the move since we got up. Batman had taekwondo testing after breakfast. He did AWESOME! He’ll have to redemonstrate his left side kick on Tuesday (he’s still a little wobbly on that leg), but other than that- he is now a little ninja GREEN belt! Such a proud momma.

Immediately afterwards, I had to rush to pick up Rose from poms. It was my first time rushing from one activity to another…**Achievement Unlocked: Soccer Mom Status** She’s with me this weekend. We’ll be off to a birthday party after nap time. On top of that, add the rushing to get a weekend’s worth of chores done before noon so I can relax tomorrow, and I’m ready for a nap myself!

So yesterday, for those of you following along, was my baking throwdown. Last night I posted the 1st contender- brownies.

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They were phenomenal . Now let’s meet the challenger-

White Chocolate Blondies

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Blondies don’t get nearly enough recognition. Every bit as delicious as its brownie brethren, the blondie is a little more subtle. It’s got this buttery flavor with all of the ooey gooey goodness you love. With this recipe, it’s amped up a notch with the addition of white chocolate chips. They certainly hold their own and deserve to step out of the brownie’s shadow.

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This recipe has an extra special ingredient- coconut oil. Coconut oil is all the rage these days. So many great properties and uses. Add these blondies to their repertoire. The coconut oil gives a unique sweetness with an extra subtle hint of flavor, while still keeping all of the ‘buttery’ goodness you’d get using a different oil or…well, butter.

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So there you have it- blondies and brownies. Who will win the throwdown and earn the champion title?

White Chocolate Chip Blondies

1 c coconut oil

1 bag white chocolate chips, divided

1 1/2 c sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. In small microwave safe bowl, melt coconut oil and 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (about 40 second full power). Stir until combined.

In large mixing bowl or stand mixer, blend oil/chocolate mixture with sugar and vanilla until smooth. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated fully.

In a separate small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly pour into mixer and blend until well incorporated.

Stir another 1/2 cup white chocolate chips into batter by hand, then pour into parchment lined 9×9 glass baking dish. Sprinkle additional white chocolate chips on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean. Cool before removing from pan.

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Throwdown Contender 1- Fudgy Brownies

Sitting in my dark kitchen, window open. The smell of rain is coming in along with a gentle breeze. The house is otherwise quiet. I have a glass of wine. And I’m discussing D&D. Heaven.

Okay, maybe that last part is just me. But the rest I’m sure you can agree is pretty awesome. Though, if you haven’t ever played D&D (Dungeons and Dragons for those slightly less nerdy inclined)…you really should. You’re missing out. I just found a new group of old friends to get a pickup game going with, and I’m so excited! It’s been years since I’ve played sadly, and I’m looking forward to getting back into it.

Let’s talk about today’s baking.

So today I was feeling ambitious. I’ve been trying my hand at writing more baking recipes lately, which has been a lot of fun for me. It’s been fun for all of the kids too; they like to gear up and bake along with me. This particular day we didn’t really have much on the docket, so it was a perfect day to be in the kitchen.

There was a problem, though.

I could NOT decide what I was in the mood for. I knew I wanted to make some type of bar. It’s just easier with a house full some days. But was I in the mood for brownies or blondies? There was only one reasonable solution.

Throwdown.

Yes, I decided that the decision was too impossible. We would make both and vote a winner. Would it be the brownies, in all of their fudgy gooey glory? Or would it be the underdog-the blondie-whose praise is not sung nearly loud enough for all of its buttery goodness?

Clearly there was only one way to find out.

First up! The brownie.

Behold! In all it's brownie glory

Behold! In all it’s brownie glory

What do you need to say about a brownie, really? They’re loved by everyone. EVERYONE. Okay…there’s probably some people out there who don’t appreciate the ooey, gooey, chocolate comfort that is a brownie. If you’re one of them, don’t tell me. I’d rather live in denial. We couldn’t be friends after that kind of truth.

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The only thing really up for debate is whether you like your brownies to be a rich, fudgy consistency, or you prefer them more cake like. I lean heavily to the fudgy side. Go big or go home. So for that reason, I skipped a leavening agent in my recipe.

I also like to do a 50/50 mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. In a recipe like this, you can’t even tell the difference. Plus, it lets me tell myself it’s healthy. Delicious, sweet health food.

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Interested in the challenger recipe? Find Blondies here.

Fudgy Brownies

1 c. vegetable oil

1 1/2 c. sugar

2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

1/2 c all purpose flour

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c. cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl or stand mixer, mix together oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until well blended.

In a separate small bowl, mix together flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Slowly mix into wet mixture, stirring just until combined.

Pour batter into parchment paper lined 9×9 glass baking dish. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let cool before removing parchment and brownies from baking dish.

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On growing up

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger.

The last few days had me miserable with allergies and a nasty cold simultaneously. Tons of congestion, constant sneezing and runny nose, and 2 kids sick with the same. On top of my two bonus girls being over.

It was all I could do to make it through the day without passing out on the couch from allergy meds.

And blogging? Forget about it. My brain was too fuzzy.

We lived off of leftovers and tacos. I’m told the tacos were good…I couldn’t taste them.

Hubby, of course, managed to avoid getting sick. Again. Some times that annoys me. Why should I be the only one to suffer with the kids?

But then I remember that Hubby is the KING of the man cold. Give that man a sniffle and he needs a ten hour nap to get through the day. NO THANK YOU.

Finally feeling human again today. Still a little stuffy, but hey…allergy season. I’ll survive.

On top of my cold, I’ve been feeling extra emotional lately. Batman has two…yes, TWO more days left of preschool. THAT’S IT. Graduation ceremony next week….

I AM SO NOT READY.

Don’t get me wrong. I am SO excited to see them grow and learn and get bigger. I swell with pride every time they reach a new milestone or learn something new. But there’s this little bitty part of me that gets sad too, knowing that they’re one small step closer to not needing me anymore.

I feel so blindsided by the whole thing. What happened to my teeny little man? It’s so strange because I’ve been home with him since he was born. So the thought of him being in school every day of the week…I had a hard enough time letting go 2 mornings a week for preschool!

He’s ready, of course. He’s polite and knows his letters, can write his name, can count and add, and will talk your EAR off about dinosaurs far better than most adults can. It’s just sad to think that he needs me less, you know? And it makes me panic a little bit. If he grew up this fast…won’t Bug grow up that fast too? And baby #3, when the time comes? What happens when they’re all off to school and don’t need me as much anymore? Then what do I do? By that time, I’ll have been unemployed  a homemaker for goodness knows how long (4 1/2 years to current date). Will I have to find a job with a big employment gap? Do I just volunteer with their schools and clubs? Keep doing in home daycare after my kids are off in their class? I know I’ve got time…but I thought I had time before school, too…and look how fast that flew!

The truth is, being home with the kids…my kids…my bonus kids…has been the single most fulfilling thing I have ever done with my life. It’s stressful, and high energy, and frustrating, and overwhelming some days. But it brings me so much joy and love and laughter, and I will miss it like crazy once its gone.

So grow babies. Grow and learn and become the amazing kids and teens and adults that I know you’ll be. Enjoy school and sports and friends and life. But take your time. Grow slowly and gracefully. Relish each stage. And find a way to always need me a little. I’m sure always going to need you.

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