Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Georgia Aquarium Field Trip!

Today we took a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium - and I'm happy to say it was the first time that it was enjoyable with the girls! I dont know whether to attribute it to the girls getting easier to deal with .. or the fact the crowds were about 1/2 of what any other visit has been. I'm guessing it's the latter of the two!

The day was planned with my (fairly) new friend, Amy and her 2 girls, Gracie & Lindsey .. who just so happen to be the same age as Caroline & Sophie! What a blessing the friendship has been! Caroline & Gracie go to the same preschool, so we share carpool .. and well, our girls demand to play together nearly ever day of the week! It helps we all like each other, haha !

Anyhooo.. all the girls really had a great time! They ran around from exhibit to exhibit and often times spend a good deal of their time at the educational monitors checking out the names & pictures of all the fish that matched up.

Hope you enjoy the pictures/slideshow...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

RECIPE: Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Bake

I hate buying any process food .. in a can or a box. So I avoid the typical casserole with cream of chicken or mushroom soup .. because the thought of it makes my tummy turn. So when I came across this homemade "bake" (aka casserole), I was very excited to try it! Ok .. excited to try a new recipe? Can you tell I don't get out much? :)

Anyhoo... this is fabulous .. my toddlers ate just as fast as we did! The key with them was to make sure to "chop" the broccoli v.s. leaving it as florets. You could also chop or slice the chicken before adding it into the oven safe dish to avoid cutting on your plate.

ENJOY .. simple stuff.. all natural - nothing from a can! YUM YUM !

Click on the recipe name to download a PDF file to print for your records!

Serves 4

Serve over rice or egg noodles.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used olive oile)
1 onion , chopped fine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used 1/2 and 1/2)
1/2 cup dry sherry (I used rice wine vinegar!)
1 1/2 pounds broccoli , florets chopped, stems peeled and sliced thin
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.

2. Add remaining butter and onion to empty skillet and cook until onion is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in broth, cream, and sherry and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Return chicken to skillet, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to broiler-safe baking dish.

3. Meanwhile, microwave broccoli on high power, covered, in large bowl until bright green and slightly softened, 2 to 4 minutes. Add broccoli and 1 cup cheese to skillet, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper and pour broccoli mixture over chicken. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and broil until browned and bubbly, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

RECIPES: Boneless Buffalo Ckn & Upside Down Apple Cake

Quite the combo of recipes huh? Well we had a few friends over for football yesterday, and my appetizer recipes are a bit pathetic so hunting I went! Wings are a favorite, but with no wings in site I made the most of it with the boneless skinless I had. The Apple Cake happened to join the party because I got over a 100lbs of apples to make applesauce! I had to serve something with them!

Boneless Buffalo Chicken
Download PDF of this recipe
YUMMMY! Ok, I wouldn't share it if it wasn't! Our game day was planned rather last minute, and we did not have any wings on hand - so my search began for the perfect replacement - and this one is a winner! The recipe calls out using a dutch oven with vege oil - I could see a Fry Daddy doing a good job too. Since we were making this recipe x4 we pulled out the Turkey Fryer with peanut oil and it did a quick bang up job!

Upside Down Apple Cake
Download PDF of this recipe
Divine! Scott thought this cake tasted similar to an upside down pineapple cake - I would guess because of the caramelized process to the fruit. It was pretty darn simple to make - using butter to grease the pan released the cake w/o any problems. This cake is a big winner in my book ... but with 100lbs + of apples that I have to process, I'm guessing there will be many other recipes to follow soon!
This morning I had a piece for breakfast, so I can testify it is more delicious when slightly warm :)


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just a typical toddler day!

So today was really no different than any other day. I was awoken by Caroline, first at 4am because of a monsters in her room, then again about 7am demanding to go downstairs to have cereal. As I make my way downstairs, I dim every light that Caroline turned out .. my eyes take some time to adjust ... as does my mind! I make my way through by the mere smell of the coffee Scott brewed by 5am. Morning that Caroline is not in preschool are usually a blur - the girls run around play & watch a little tv while I try to tackle work that piles at my desk.

Today I decided to get out with the girls and head to the library for storytime. The girls just love books and the novelty of going to get more at the library, in addition my friend Amy planned to go also (she has girls same age as ours!) - so it could be fun.. right? So, story time? Well.. that is a hit or miss! Today... total miss. The girls would not sit still and constantly made noise - granted this is "ok" since it is toddler story time, but it really doesn't sit too well with me! We made it half way through and I gave in and headed to the books so the girls could prance around picking out books (what they kept asking for). The next 30 minutes wasn't so bad - it was moderately peaceful .. until we got home. Thereafter Sophie had a meltdown since we were late for lunch, and in turn her nap time.

Nap time was rushed as I decided I did not have enough excitement in my day. The girl's both need shoes for the winter ... so off to Discover Mills we go - meeting Amy with her 2 girls (Gracie and Lindsey). Stride Rite store here we come. All of us quickly become consumed with the sale rack of Crocs ... even Sophie & Lindsey are having innocent fun playing with the shoes. Hey.. this isn't so bad! After 5 minutes of trying on shoes and finding the right size, the older girls, Caroline & Gracie quickly become bored and decide to run the aisles of Stride Rite and go find shoes for themselves. I was happy I could hear her in the (fairly small) store - while she was surely making a mess, it would be easier to clean it up later than to keep her at my side now.

I had Sophie on a "leash", so I really only had Caroline to contend with ... but lately she is the work of 2! In public it is the worst/most difficult .. the demands, threats and pleads for her to stay put and behave are ignored. The store/mall... world.. are at her disposal to take!! After 15 minutes of a disorderly process of finding shoes ... it was time for plan B. I wasn't quite sure how challenged Amy was since I was so consumed in my own misery (LOL)!

Plan B: Amy agrees to the bright idea of taking ALL the girls on the Polar Bear train ride just outside Stride Rite in the mall - this would give me at least 5 minutes to finish shopping in peace. I help get the girls loaded on the train.. this is surely going to be grand for us all - after all the girls were thrilled to be going to the mall just to ride the train! Everyone gets loaded up and I run back into the store to finish shopping. Awww.. peace. I can even think!

About 2 minutes pass and I recognize a scream/cry. It's Sophie. I walk back to the front of the store and I'm welcomed by Caroline running ... screaming.. crying... and Sophie on her tail. There is Amy shaking her head... nearly laughing, and I know that laugh, it often times masks a scream in our own head! Plan B failed. Caroline & Gracie fought inside one car over who could ring the bell. Sophie was simply distressed over the fact she couldn't see me. Oh joy! I (along with Amy I think!) started laughing .. the joys of being a mother of toddlers!! I quickly realized how much this moment was better sharing it with a friend/fellow mom :)

After calming the girls down and quickly attempting to finish the shoe shopping for the girls, Amy quickly came up with Plan C : she would take her girls AND Caroline across the hall to the Disney store. I warned her .. but she went on. God Bless her. I quickly finished up and started to check out. Unexpectedly I hear Caroline calling me "MOM LOOK" ... I turn my head to see Caroline running across the mall with a dress on a hanger (surely something with a Princess on it!). 20' behind her I see Amy running and yelling Caroline's name ...nearly laughing from the hysteria she surely feels! I run to Caroline to push her back to the Disney store ... where Amy left her own 2 girls in effort to save Caroline from the shoplifting police! The moment was really priceless. I cannot stop laughing at the visual I still have in my head...

A few minutes later I meet Amy and the girls back in the Disney store. This is my first time in the store with a toddler .. whom now LOVES everything and anything that is princess/mermaid! This. is. a. dangerous. place. to. be. I almost got sucked into buying something for Caroline's birthday or early stock up of Christmas gifts, but quickly realized that there would be no way in H. E. double hockey stick, that I had the time, patience or brownie points with my friend Amy to handle the girls through another checkout line. Surely I can escape one day soon w/o the girls and shop without losing my mind.

I hadn't lost my mind COMPLETELY, so we made one last stop at the Gymboree Outlet. It was quick and painless ... only because they are smart - they have a tv playing a video with chairs for the girls to sit and chill out. They chilled out without bribes. Whew, one store adventure went smooth.

So we got out with 4-6 tantrums (most of which were from my girls), but no bumps or bruises. Nearly every time I go out with them the roller coaster of a ride is similar - I can't decide should I subject myself to more torture, with hopes the girls learn how they should act .... or am I a smart Mom who chooses to stay home most of the time?

Today I must say I got the best laugh leaving when Gracie demanded to go potty but mommie convinced her to stand and pee in the parking lot by their van!! OMG... that was funny. Amy - are you laughing with me? :) I hope so ... the stress of all this silly stuff sure has lightened up since we have become friends - well, that is until Caroline throws a fit insisting Gracie MUST come home with us! xo Really, Amy said it best today - "I know why I like hanging out together - it makes me realize my life IS NORMAL!" Amen. We are not alone after all :)

All in all .. it was just a typical day, except there were more witnesses. Thank God we are not likely to ever see them again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flood 2009 aftermath in our backyard

Thought I would share some photos of what our backyard looks like after the fact. It was quite the slippery slope with all the Georgia clay that was left behind on the hill.

View from Caroline's room on the 2nd floor - Yellow River is tamed back down and yard has several inches of Georgia mud.
View from breakfast nook.

Here I was standing 3/4 the way down the hill, looking back up at the house - amazing to think I would be completely under water standing here 2 days ago!

View by shed ... water has dropped back to normal levels, way down there.

Our poor fire pit - stamped concrete is quite the mess. Our log seats are MIA.
The river is slightly high, at bank level, but this is a common sight after a good rain.

Flood 2009 hits home

I, along with millions in throughout the greater Atlanta area, are still in shock! Sunday was a typical fall day, upper 70's and drizzling rain - on and off. Scott managed to even get the lawn cut. It was the middle of the night when we were awoken from incredible rolling thunder & lighting.. and of course incredibly heavy rains - it has been years & years since I heard such a severe storm. Caroline joined us in bed soon after, so between the sounds of the storm and her tossing and turning - none of us got very much sleep. By morning the sites were breath-taking! Turning on the news that morning was sobering - schools closing, road closures .. and by late morning tragedies already being reported.

Monday morning 9/21 (which has remained to be the worst day), the Yellow River in our back yard reached our deck - which is about 12' away from our house. The neighbor to our left is closer to the river, so she is not so lucky - and she just moved in this past week! Take a look at the photos...

View from Caroline's room on the 2nd floor. The river normally sits 15' beyond the first tree in front of the angled part of the deck. An educated guess.. the river is 12-15'' deeper than normal!View from our breakfast nook - lake front view!
Water creeping up to our deck, it is 3' (on an incline) past the 100yr flood plane

View towards are shed.
View from side of the house - behind those shrubs is typically about a 6' drop/run off. Again, look how lucky we are/were!

As you can see - the neighbor to our left was not so lucky. Her house is 15' closer to the river, and sits a bit lower - so her entire basement flooded.
Lake front view from our lower deck -
This is our neighborhood tennis courts.
This is Plantation Road just outside of our subdivision. Thank goodness we have other alternatives! It was flooded for almost 2 days.

As of today, 9/23/09 the river has dropped back to normal levels. I will post aftermath photos later today. We are so incredibly fortunate (& continue to count our blessings) that our only loss was the plush looking backyard that we had. The news continues to report on devastating tragedies that it makes your heart ache. Austell area (west of Atlanta) has been the worst hit - 2 story homes under water all the way to the roof tops and schools completely submerged. My thoughts & prayers are going out to all those affected! What is most sad is they estimate that 75% of the victims of this flood will not be covered with their homeowners insurance. Vast majority are no where potential flood areas, so naturally who would have thought they would ever need flood insurance?!

Here is a video from our FOX 5 News on a tragedy just a few miles away.

And how about Six Flags amusement park? This is crazy - and they are reporting that they hope to be open by the weekend!! ?!

And even more wild is that as of today 9/23, 2 days after the initial damaging rain storms, parts of I-20 (yes, INTERSTATE!) remains closed!

CLICK HERE for the full story.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

RECIPE: Chicken-Apple Salad Wraps

A simply delightful new wrap I recently made - recipe is from the Publix mailer! Very delish and sooo easy to make!

  • 1-1/2 Cups Chicken Breast, Shredded
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, Cored & Chopped (1-1/2 Cups)
  • 1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1 Green Onion, Sliced
Combine in small bowl, then mix with chicken mixture above
  • 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Divide mixture onto 4 Tortillas Or Pita Bread Rounds. Serve & Say yummm!

Clicky HERE to download a PDF of this recipe.