Saturday, October 29, 2011

YAY me!!!!

I have now officially lost 10 pounds!!!!  WOOHOO!!!!  It has taken about 2 months, but I'm working on a lifestyle change and not a fad diet.  I truly feel like I am changing my eating habits and lifestyle, and I am seeing the benefits of it.  I have also lost about 5 inches around my body as well.  My belly is getting smaller and my thighs are shrinking.  FABULOUS!!!!!  I have 15 more pounds to go before I reach my goal. 

I also got 3 of my test grades back in my A&P (Anatomy & Physiology) class....83, 94 & 101!  Score!!!  That first test always gets me because I never know how the professor is going to test.  But now I know, and I will ace the rest of the semester.  And I also have an A in my ethics class as well.  I never thought I would love learning, but I really do.  I could sit and listen in my A&P class all day....oh, wait....I already do!  (I have class all day Saturdays).  I have so many questions I want to ask, but I have to watch what I ask because whenever I ask a question it makes the lecture go WAY long, and I'm sure my fellow classmates are cursing me for opening my big mouth again.  ;)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sugar Cookie Bars

Last night I dreamt about sugar cookies.  I'm not a huge sugar cookie fan, so I found this slightly odd.  But of course, it started a craving that had to be satisfied!  I headed on over to my handy-dandy Desserts, Drinks & Other Treats pinterest board (which you should totally follow btw....) to find a recipe to fix this hankerin'!  We made our frosting Halloween green (since green was the only food coloring that the kids had not gotten into and wasted).







I chose to make the sugar cookie bars from everythingtoentertain.com.  Here is her recipe:


Sugar Cookie Bars
adapted from BreeAnn Frankhauser
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon or orange zest

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs mixing well. Add vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda and stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (13X18 jellyroll pan). Bake at 375 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean (they don't look done so do the toothpick test) Cool completely and frost.


Frosting

1/2 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla OR almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
3-4 drops food coloring

Combine butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments until combined, then add milk a little at a time and mix until smooth and spreading consistency. (You may not need all the milk). Spread over cooled cookie bars.





This makes a HUGE amount of cookie bars....the 13x18" pan is bursting at the seams.  So this is a great treat to make when you are having a get-together or a party.  I will be taking some to a friend's house later today for sure.


Nicole's Notes: (aka my thoughts and what I would do different)
  • The frosting/icing is PHENOMENAL!!!!!  I think the little bit of salt is the key.  I might just scrape it off the bar and eat it by itself.
  • The cookie bar itself is bland.  I think it needs more sugar, as it tastes pretty flour-y (notice the proportions of sugar to flour).  
  • I used Blue Bonnet margarine instead of butter (since the whole thing needed 3 sticks), and it was fine.  I don't think butter would make much of a difference.
  • I might have over-cooked the bar, but it's a little dry.  But then again, I do like under cooked cookies.  
  • My 9 year old daughter (aka miss picky pants) did not like the lemon zest in the cookie bar.  I personally could barely taste it, but I guess she picked up on it.  

Family Pics

Since this is a totally selfish blog and I don't include much of my kiddos, I thought I'd take a quick post to share pics of the kids for proof of their existence.  ;)  These are from June 2011.  My fabulous friend, who is a wonderful photographer among her many talents, took these for us.  Yes, the hub is missing.  We took these as a Father's Day gift for him.  (Hence the railroad scene).  As a bonus, my Mom and stepdad were in town too.  Sweet!  So without further adieu, here they are.  Try not to be jealous of how stunningly fantastic we are.  We can't help it.  ;)

My monsters
Okay....posted a bunch of pics, but they were making the blog take FOREVER to load.  So......click HERE and you can see them if you like.  ;)




Monday, October 24, 2011

Exercise the Demons!

Well, isn't that special??? (in my best church lady voice).

I have been struggling with my desire to be active in church.  There are several reason, but when it boils down to it, I just don't want to go.  I don't want to participate.  I don't want to deal with it.  I'm not questioning my faith or beliefs.  I still have a testimony.  (So Mom, don't worry).  ;)  I'm just tired and frankly, being lazy when it comes to nurturing my spiritual self.  Over this past year, I've been maybe once a month to church.  And that one time a month I go, I hate it the whole time.  It's not the doctrine, but with my emotion switch off, I'm not feeling the Spirit like I used to.  I'm sure that playing Words With Friends instead of listening hasn't helped the situation either.  ;)

As I was texting with my friend this morning, she reminded me that even if there isn't feeling there, that I need to go through the motions and it will come.  Ugh.  And I'm ugh-ing because I know she's right.  I'm ugh-ing because I've told the same thing to different friends and family at different times when they were feeling the same way I'm feeling now.  I hate it when I have to take my own advice!

So what is my plan, you ask?  Fake it 'til I make it.  Starting today, I am committing to reading my scriptures 20 minutes a day whether I like it or not.  I know hope that as I put the time and effort in, my heart will soften and I will feel the Spirit again.  If I don't want to do it for me, I need to do it for my children.

Whenever I see progress, I will report back.

On a happy note for the day, I've lost another pound, taking my weight loss total to 9.2 lbs!  When I hit 10 lbs gone, I'm treating myself to a pedicure.  :D

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Easiest Chicken in the World

 Seriously.  This will be the easiest entree you've ever made.  It's simple.  It doesn't have added fat or anything.  The kids (even picky ones) will actually eat it.  And it tastes good too!

This is all you need^^^^

Yep, that's it!  If you don't have the big ol' Sam's Club/Costco sized ranch bottle, you will only need a packet or two that you can get at the grocery store.  You'll need about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the ranch powder.  Pour it in your gallon Ziploc bag.

Now take your flash frozen chicken breasts (the kind that come in the bag....doesn't have to be Tyson.  Your local store brand is just fine.)  Don't thaw them....just use them frozen. 

Put one breast in at a time into the bag.  Seal it up and shake it like crazy!!!!  I like to sing "Shake! Shake! Shake! Senora!" while I am doing mine.  ;)


Keep repeating until  you have all the breasts you want to bake covered.  

Place the powdered breasts on a greased cookie sheet or casserole dish.  I tried out my fancy new Pampered Chef stoneware to cook this batch.  No greasing necessary.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the thickness of the breasts.  You want to make sure that they are cooked all the way through and not pink.  Ick!


By using the flash frozen breasts, they seem to come out juicier.  Might just be me.  ;)
We served this with our family favorite Italian Red Potatoes and a green salad.  It's not a recipe that will make you say, "Oh my gosh!!!  This is the best chicken I've ever had!!!"  But it is good, and plain enough that even the pickiest eaters (I have 4 of them) will eat it.  Plus, it have very few added calories for those counting (aka ME!)


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Over haulin'

***DISCLAIMER***

I'm about to bear my soul, so if you don't want know it all, then please stop reading now, head on over and waste some time playing Angry Birds





Since turning 30 a few years ago, I feel like my life has been on a downward spiral.  There have been some good things, but there have been a lot of bad things too.  The big jump start of my downward journey was the birth of my fourth child.  She did not push me over the edge, but the post-partum depression did.  Man...it was B-A-D!  Luckily, I saw the warning signs and got to my doctor and got on some anti-depressants.  They have helped over the past few years (almost 3), but it has gotten to the point where I am pretty much numb and apathetic.  I didn't care about anything.  Not a good place to be.

I had gained about 40 pounds and hit a number on the scale that I never though I would see staring back at me.  How did this happen???  I have NEVER had to watch what I ate...it just simply would disappear.  But stuff had started hanging around, on my hips, on my butt, on my belly, on my boobs (not complaining about that one!).  I was having to buy new, larger clothes.  I was getting a double chin.  My arms were growing wings.  Things were NOT pretty.  Ugh!

Seeing all these outward changes forced me to look at my inward changes.  You can't have one without the other.  I had a BAD case of the blahs.  Really bad.  I didn't give a flip about anything.  Nothing excited me.  Nothing moved me.  Blah.  I couldn't even fake it anymore (which I am an EXPERT at).  So what was my deal??  Come on Nicole!  THINK!!!!

I wanted to blame the anti-depression meds (aka Lexapro), and I'm sure that it contributed, but in all honesty, I had shut myself down.  I had gone through a lot of painful emotions and my go-to escape for that is to turn my emotion chip off.  It's better not to feel anything than feel the pain, right?  That's at least how I've coped with painful stuff my entire life.  It scares me because I fear that I don't know how to feel since I've done it for so long.  Time will tell I suppose.

Now, what's a girl to do?  What is a chubby, emotionless, blah girl to do?  The same thing a fabulous, hot, and vivacious girl would do!

JUST DO IT!!!!


Yep, I'm throwing all my excuses out the window.  I'm trashing all the crap and replacing it with good. I'm getting off my Lexapro.  Weaning
down of course.  I've started exercising and watching what I eat. I've already lost 8 pounds....WOOHOO!!!!  I got off of my virtual escape, aka Facebook.  I'm making myself do things that I don't want to do, like laundry and the dishes.  I've gone back to school.  (Yeah, I know that I went back a year ago, so it might not count as a new change, but that is one of the good things I've done in the past year).  I'm trying to figure out who I want to be as a person, as a mother, as a friend.  (Sorry if you are looking to this blog to see pics of my SUPER-cute kids, but this one's for ME).  It is time to get rid of blah Nicole and find the ROCKIN' Nicole!!!  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Good-bye Pooch


Last night our dog passed away.  She was a basenji/rat terrier mix and an awesome dog.  She was born on the day that my husband and I got married.  We got her twelve weeks later.  I was not allowed to touch her or pet her for a couple months because my husband wanted the dog to bond with him, and that she did.  She loved her daddy.  You could say, "Where's Daddy?" and she would excitedly start looking everywhere.

We had her for almost 13 years.  She was suffering from kidney failure.  The kids are pretty sad about it.  We buried her beneath a peach tree in our backyard.

Thanks for being a great dog for our family.  We love you and will miss you.  :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Did Hell freeze over????

For those of you that know me know how much I detest exercising.  It is basically a four letter world to me.  I don't believe in it.  I'm allergic to it.  I don't do it.  End of story.

That was the old me.  The new "I've gained 40 pounds and needs to lose it" Nicole actually exercises!!!

GASP!!!!!


Don't worry, I'm not all gung-ho, but I must confess (and this is a HUGE secret, only between you and me).....


I actually like it!  Shhhhhhh!!!!!



I have been biking.  We have some amazing greenbelt trails in our community and after living here for almost 11 years, I'm finally taking advantage of them (since we pay annually for them, might as well!)  I am still a complete novice at biking, and I don't plan on becoming a pro.  I have learned a few things so far:

1.  padded biking shorts are a MUST!
2.  having your seat too low will cause you to work harder than you need to.
3.  I can bike longer than I thought I could.
4.  Screaming at yourself really does help you push further.


My biggest realization today of doing this whole "exercise" thing is this.....


It makes me happy all day long!  Like a natural high.  :)


I really hate to admit it, but I am really liking this whole exercising thing.  It feels great!  And it is helping me shed some layers of blah that have seemed to be growing around me.

So if you are driving around, and hear some crazy lady singing some Ke$ha song, loudly and off-key, wave.  I'll wave back.  :D




Monday, October 10, 2011

Fiesta Chicken Casserole

I bought a bunch of chicken thighs on sale a couple days ago.  I never buy chicken thighs, so I had no idea what to do with them.  And what do you do when you have an ingredient and you don't know what to do with it?  You turn to pinterest.com of course!

I figured that they would work well in this recipe:




Bag of frozen chicken in the crock pot. Put the cream cheese, corn, rotel and black beans on top and let it go for 6-8 hours on low. You can shred when done or leave the chicken whole.






Since I had almost 6 pounds of chicken, I added an extra can of tomatoes.  The chicken came out very moist and tender, but the sauce was very thin and brothy, not creamy like it should have been for a meal.  I ended up taking the chicken off the bones and saving some of the broth.  

Now I had a bunch of cooked chicken and needed another recipe.  Oh, pinterest!

My awesome sister made the Fiesta Chicken Casserole after I pinned it, so I figured that would be a good one to try.  



Fiesta Chicken Casserole from http://www.plainchicken.com/

3 cup cooked chopped chicken
1 cup instant rice (uncooked)
1 can cream of chicken soup (I used 98% fat free)
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and chiles, undrained
1 Tbsp Southwestern or Taco seasoning
2 Tbsp milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips or Doritos

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine chicken, rice, soup, Rotel, seasoning, milk and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.  Pour into a lightly greased 9x9 pan.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Top casserole with crushed chips and remaining cheese, bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Nicole's Notes:  

  • I used regular long grain rice.  It came out okay, except the rice that was on the top was a bit crunchy. 
  • I didn't have cream of chicken soup, so I used this substitute. 
  • I didn't add in the taco seasoning.
  • I added in some of the black beans and corn from cooking the chicken the night before.
  • I didn't put cheese or chips on top (although it probably would have made it better....and with more calories). 
  • I cooked it for an hour at 325 degrees.
The reviews....It was good, but not great.  It taste similar to King Ranch casserole, but with rice instead of tortillas.  I think this would make a great freezer meal too.   

My True Addiction & A Confession

This is the HTC Evo.  This is my phone.  I love my phone.  And I'm not exaggerating at all.  I really do LOVE my phone!  It does EVERYTHING!  It is my alarm clock.  It is my sound machine while I sleep.  It is my calendar.  It is my email.  It is my phone book.  It is my stress relief (games).  It is my camera.  It is my video camera.  It is my calorie & exercise tracker.  It's my weatherman.  It's my library.  It's my radio.  It is my GPS.  And there is even MORE that it does that I'm sure I am forgetting.  Needless to say, the Evo and I have a very close, intertwined relationship.

Last Thursday, my wonderful 2 year old dropped my phone.  This is not an unusual occurrence  but this time was one too many and the screen shattered.  It looked like a spiderweb.  The phone was still functioning, but if I wasn't careful, I would have sliced my finger on the broken glass.  Thankfully, when my awesome BIL (brother-in-law) bought the phone for me (he's a former Best Buy employee...man, I miss those discounts!), he purchased the insurance.  All I had to do was take the phone into my local Best Buy and have them ship it off to fix it.  Easy, right?

Wrong.  I went in early Friday morning.  Luckily, I was kid-free.  I sat at the Geek Squad counter for over 30 minutes waiting to be acknowledged.  And for those who know me in person, I'm not one to be easily ignored.  ;)  But I waited nicely, trying to ignore the very large lady sitting next to me with her tramp stamp and some butt cleavage staring me down.  I told you, I'm hard to ignore, even butt cleavage can't resist! (__|__)

Finally, I get the golden question, "Ma'am, have you been helped?"

Why, no I have not!  He quickly filed my claim, took my broken baby and gave me my receipts.  He sent me over to the mobile department to pick up a loaner phone.  A loaner phone????  SWEET!!!!  I thought I was going to have to be phoneless or steal my daughter's phone.  For a fully refundable $50 deposit, I was going to have a phone!

John was my friendly mobile rep that was ready to hook me up with a loaner.  He couldn't offer the same phone, but said he would try to get me the best phone he could.  The first phone was a fail.  It did not want to work.  :(  He then pulled out the backup phone.  I was not excited about it, but if it could receive calls and text, I would be okay.  After an hour of trying to get phones to work, he was finally able to get the phone activated, but it wouldn't recognize my contact file that I had backed up to my SD card.  Dang it!

I am a piece-of-crap phone!
It's been a fun week asking everyone who texts me who they are.  I don't have anyone's numbers.  It's SO frustrating!!!  It makes calls and can text, but the keyboard sucks and the touch screen sucks.  It has really made me appreciate how wonderful my EVO is.  I can't wait to get my baby back.  I have missed it WAY more than Facebook.

I must confess, I logged back onto Facebook this morning.  But only to get email addresses and phone numbers from a few friends that I didn't have.  But I quickly deactivated again.  I honestly don't know if I will go back to Facebook.  I am really enjoying being free of it.  I am loving blogging again, and I am on Google+ if you are on there too.  ;)

Send me your blog addy if you have one.  :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lasik and Almost Dying

Back in June, I got custom LASIK vision correction at The Lasik Vision Institute.  It was something I had wanted to do for a LONG time, but thought it was way out my price range.  After going down for a free consultation and seeing the cost, I couldn't believe how affordable it was!  So the next week, I was in for the procedure and seeing 20/20 without my glasses!


I LOVE LOVE LOVE the results!!!  I can see perfectly without my glasses.  (I had pretty bad astigmatism in both eyes).  My eyes do get drier than they used to, but it has progressively gotten less and less as time goes on.  I also notice my floaters a lot more.  If you have bad floaters already, I would warn you that they will probably be more noticeable and pronounced after LASIK surgery.  

So what does this have to do with almost dying you ask?  I'm getting there.....

I went in on Wednesday for my final check up.  As we were waiting, I went to take a drink of my Spark Energy Drink, RED fruit punch flavored and spilled it all down my front.  And of course, I'm wearing a white shirt.  Thankfully, I was sporting the layered look that day and had a purple cap sleeve shirt under the white shirt that didn't show the red as much.  Guess I need more practice screwing on lids.  :/

The doctor's office was near downtown, so the two youngest and I met up with the hubby for lunch.  After we dropped him back off at work, I headed home.  Now, I'm not one to brag....well, yeah I am, but I'm a human map.  This is fact.  Ask anyone.  Even if I don't know where I am, my sense of direction is stellar, and I can find where I need to get going rather quickly.  So as I'm leaving downtown, I head towards the highway I need to take to get home.  I took a few turns and stuff was looking a little off.  Then I see the on-ramp.  Yay!  I take a left onto the on-ramp (which starts at the end of a street in downtown) and see the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane on the right with a "WRONG WAY" sign.  As I continue to drive, I am perplexed why the HOV lane would have a "WRONG WAY" sign.  I then see cars.  Coming RIGHT AT ME!!!!!  AAAAACCCCCCKKKKK!!!!!!  I've turn up the EXIT RAMP!!!!!!  I quickly pull over to the side and wait for a space where I can flip a U-turn.  Luckily, it was light traffic, and I didn't even get honked at.  I then traveled one more block over to the ON ramp and made it home in one piece, and with perfect vision.




Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Plugging into Real Life

Today starts day 5 with no Facebook.....and to be completely honest, I don't miss it.  At all.  (For the most part).  Shocking, I know.  I'm seriously surprised myself, especially with how addicted I was to it and how much I felt it consumed my thoughts and time.  I was seriously on there a RIDICULOUS amount of hours on most days.

I do miss my friends, but luckily, my phone has been farting like a fat guy at a chili cook-off sans odor!  (My text alert is an AWESOME, loud fart).  ;)  And what I'm realizing is that I don't need to hear from everyone everyday, all day long!  Not that I don't care what is going on with my friends because I do.  But not being a slave to the feed has allowed me to plug into my life, to my kids, to myself.  I miss joking around with my friends on Facebook...who doesn't love a great "that's what she said" joke???  I don't want to know that person!  :P



I also miss the validation that the "likes" and comments provide.  And don't say that they don't matter to you because you know you get a little pick-me-up when you get that notification.  I'm realizing my worth isn't tied up to how many times that little red box pops up.  The feeling I get when I've played with my kids and gotten a genuine, big bear hug from them saying "I love you mommy" feels TONS better!

The way I feel OFF Facebook is 10x's better than how I felt on Facebook.  I feel less blah.  I feel less drained.  I feel less wasteful.  I'm still fighting some negative feelings that I have been dealing with for awhile, but that will come with time and effort.  And I'll probably blog about it in the next couple of days because I am an open book, and I do like to put stuff out there in hopes that it might help someone else going through similar situations or feelings.

I am still fighting the urges and habits to "escape" into my computer.  But it is hard to escape when you don't have a little ticker telling you what is happening in real time....since I really need to know that you just "liked" Walmart.  Who gives a flip Facebook???  Not this gal anymore!

Here's my challenge to you....evaluate your Facebook and/or computer use.  Are you escaping from something by staring at that screen?  What are you trying to ignore?  I challenge you to turn it off and face it.  Whatever it is you are trying to escape from....because you know what?  It will still be there.  It's not going to magically go away.  So face it now, and deal with it.  Then you don't have to run anymore.  :)



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cookie Dough anyone?

Time for a little plug for my super-cute 9-yr-old.  She is selling cookie dough & other frozen, easy-to-make to desserts and treats as well as Ugly Mug coffee and hot chocolate as a school fundraiers.  If you would like to order, please do so...but seriously, no pressure.  We have ordered from this company for years and everything is yummy!!!!




Here's a list of what they have. Pics below. 


All items are $15 (tax included)

Cookies - Come in a 2.7lb box that contains 48 pre-portioned cookies
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Oatmeal Raisin
  • Peanut Butter
  • Lemon Cooler
  • Cranberry Heaven (White chocolate oatmeal cranberry)
  • White Chocolate Macadamia
  • Double Chocolate Brownie
  • Snickerdoodle
  • M&M Candy Cookies
  • Sugar

Other Treats
  • Auntie Annie's Soft Pretzels
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Chocolate Roll
  • Kolaches
  • Pumpkin Roll
  • Carrot Roll
  • Braided Apple Bread

Ugly Mug Products
  • Old Fashioned Hot Chocolate
  • Saving Grace Balanced Roast Coffee
  • Vanilla Chai
  • First Cup Coffee

Money is due now.  All orders must be turned in on Thursday, Oct 13th.  

Items come in on November 10th.  

Thanks so much!  :)

(Click pics for larger ones)






Sunday, October 2, 2011

Laundry Basket Dressers

 The laundry basket dresser (or whatever you want to call it) was one of the first items that converted me to pinterest.  I saw it and knew I needed multiple units!  All of my laundry troubles seemed to disappear in the thought of changing over to laundry basket dressers.



My grand plan involved getting rid of all the kids' traditional dressers because most of the time, the clean laundry was stacked on top instead of being put away.  I have 4 kids, ages 11, 9, 4 and 2, so I had to figure out what would work for each of them due to the age differences.  For the older girls, they got a 3-basket unit....2 baskets for clean clothes and 1 for dirty.  We made some little cards so they would know which was which.  In one of the clean baskets, they have a smaller basket for socks and underwear.  

For the girls, their units have seemed to really help with the laundry problems.  I can simply take the dirty basket of one child and wash it or have them wash it, fold it and give it back.  It has been great!  It also gave us so much more room in their rooms!  BONUS!!!



For my younger 2 kids, ages 4 and 2, they got 2-basket units.  Both for clean laundry and then a hamper in their room for dirty clothes.  Keeping theirs orderly has been somewhat more of a challenge.  They like to dump the clothes out and then I don't know what is clean and what isn't.  We are still trying to keep the clothes in them, but if it turns out to be a losing battle, they would be great for toy storage as well.  


For hubby and me, we have a 4-basket unit.  It's tall, but it's great.  I use ours to separate dirty laundry.  It works like a charm (when the baskets are actually there and not sitting on my room floor).  ;)  They have all saved so much space too!

As far as cost goes, we figured that it costs about $25 per basket to make.  That included the laundry basket, the wood and the screws.  So a 3-basket unit would cost $75 to make for example.  They were fairly simple to make.  All straight cuts.  What you can't see are 1x1's behind the baskets to stabilize the unit.  The 2-basket units didn't need extra stabilizers, but the 3 & 4-basket units did.

I couldn't be happier with the results!  I just need to figure out what color to paint them all now!

 Here you can see the stabilizer bars in the of the 4-basket unit.

All of the units together plus the 4 cutest kids on earth!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Cake....need I say more???

 This cake is AMAZING!!!  It's another pinterest find.  I think I gained 5 pounds just looking at the picture.  It's not super complicated to make, and you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

Cake:
3 c. flour
1/4 tsp.salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

Topping:
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Mix everything together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. 

For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. (I used a ziploc and cut a small hole in the corner to pipe the cinnamon topping onto the cake)

Nicole Note:  I would have liked the topping to be more throughout the cake instead of just on top.  Next time I will pour half the batter, layer some topping, pour the remaining batter and topping again.  I think it would make a good sheet cake too (but I think that about most cakes since I am more of a brownie girl).  ;)

Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.

Glaze:
2 c. powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

While warm drizzle the glaze over the cake.  Pour a tall glass of milk (with ice for me) and enjoy!


Italian Red Potatoes


I made up this recipe last night for a side dish.  It came out SO good, I had to share!!!  They were flavorful and just enough crispiness.

4-6 red potatoes, cut into small pieces
Italian dressing
Grated parmesan cheese

Take a gallon ziploc bag and put the potatoes in with about 1/2c - 1c of Italian dressing.  Zip it up and shake it all around.

Open the bag up and pour in 1/2c-1c parmesan cheese.  Zip it up and shake it all around.

Place the coated potatoes on a greased cookie sheet or casserole dish (I lined mine with foil for easy clean up).  Spread out potatoes so they are about 1 layer thick.

Bake at 375*F for 45-60 minutes (flipping half-way through) until baked to your preferred crispiness.  

2 Days In....

and I'm still alive!!!  Crazy, huh???  ;)  Life does go on without every move being posted on Facebook!

On Day 1, I was surprised how SLOW time seemed to go.  They day took freakin' FOREVER!!!!  Time crawled along slower than Christmas!!!

The good thing was, I was very productive.  I got about 5 loads of laundry folded...and of course there are still several more loads left to fold.  Lucky me!  ;)  My son (G-man) and I baked banana muffins....a triple batch.  We both had so much fun working together.  I did a bunch of dishes, even cleaned up the mess from the muffins (which sadly, isn't always the case).  I even made a delicious stroganoff dinner!  (Although the kids thought I was trying to poison them.  Dang picky eaters!)



I did keep having status updates go through my head and just itchin' to get them "out there".  I spoke with my friend who recently quit Facebook and she admitted she had the same problem.  She would just write them down in a notebook and that was enough to get them out of her system.  I'm trying it and it is working.  Who knew that it would bother me this much to not broadcast my funny, random or thought-provoking status???

I had my computer on most of the day still, but for playing music instead of Facebooking (and yes, it IS a verb!)  Yes, I did keep looking for my Facebook tab and no, it wasn't there.  I missed playing my games, Pioneer Trail (formerly Frontierville) and Zuma Blitz.  They are my unwinders that help me relax, but they are also my escapes.  So I have been playing more Words With Friends on my phone (crazycole78 if you play).  It's been enough so far to fill my need to veg out, but not monopolize my time or escape from what I need to be doing.

I was able to study a lot faster in the evening for my Anatomy & Physiology exam that I had today.  (And I think I aced it...SCORE!!!)  With it being a weekend, it's not as hard to be away from Facebook. I'm thinking Monday is going to be the toughest day yet.  *sigh*