Thursday, October 28, 2010

i've been tagged!

This is a first for me. My sweet friend Candra "shamelessly" asked me to participate in a little blog carnival she is having. I think the premise is great. It's called "Thankful Thursdays Top Ten." Lots of T's. I like that. And I am ever-so-happy to participate. Because, well, one always has ten things to be thankful for on Thursdays.

natty's thankful thursday top ten.

number one.
Oh hai, shrimp and grits. With all of your creaminess and cheesy gooey garlicky lemony shrimpy goodness. How yummy to see you.

number two.
Finally getting a device for storing my entire photo library. Like I didn't really need it A YEAR ago.

number three.
Listening to my kidlets humming Mozart and Beethoven tunes. That mess never gets old.

number four.
Face time with my sweet husby-wusby. One reason that my iPhone is off the chain.

number five.
Stella McCartney perfume.

number six.
Ahhh. The signs of autumn. Everywhere. 

number seven.
Getting from Point A to Point B safely. Seriously. Especially when there are hundreds of miles separating Points A and B, and when my car is making odd noises every now and then, and we are packed in like sardines. In oil. Not water.

number eight.
Having highlights of fun times to share very soon with you, my tens of readers.

number nine.
(Read: My son.)
He always makes me smile. And I'm thankful for the continued ability to make him smile.

number ten.
Famous family quotes. Also known as little nuggets of wisdom from my children.
Natalie: "I can't want that [raspberry lemonade]. It's too awful."
Ian: "Bobby's a genius."
Bobby (to his mother): "Let me just say, you have really good taste in music."

(All photos taken with my iPhone. I'm pretty grateful for iPhoneography too. Another reason my iPhone is off the chain.)

crock pot wednesday. but on thursday.

Well, this week has come and gone and I have barely sat down.

It always seems that way once I get home from being out of town.

After three blissful weeks of vacation (the highlights of which I will begin to share this weekend), I came home to a rude awakening.

And that was, the fact that I really didn't want to be here.

Don't get me wrong, I love being home. In my house. Back to my routine.

But. I loved being with my husband more. Even if it meant being away from most of my possessions, away from my city, and out of my routine.

And getting back to my routine has been extra hard. There were several small obligations about which I had forgotten completely just prior to leaving for Ohio, and I have spent this week playing catch-up, and am still not completely caught up. Not to mention the fact that I have been really tired but at the same time haven't been able to get much sleep. That keyed-up feeling again. For what I don't even know!

What does all of this have to do with crock pots and food?

Well, yesterday was a bit of an anomaly. Due to some schedule changes the previous day, Wednesday did not feel like Wednesday. Couple that with the fact that I was feeling under the weather, mentally trying to retrieve all of the tasks that I was supposed to do that never got done, and having to be out of the house earlier than usual due to a staff party at school, and Crock Pot Wednesday just didn't happen. It was just as well; I had to lead worship that night and justdid make it there on time, so I would not have even had time to eat. We just had takeout for dinner.

But alas, my crock pot meal was patiently waiting in the wings (read: refrigerator and cabinet), hoping that I would not forget it today. And I did not.

I made barbecued country-style pork ribs.

Here were my ingredients. (Hurried iPhone snapshot alert!)

And of course, the pork. The picture of which I couldn't get to upload to save my life, so I guess I won't.

I put the meat in the pot, seasoned liberally with the black pepper, cumin, and seasoned salt, then added a few splashes of the liquid smoke, one and a half cups of water, and more than half of the bottle of barbecue sauce. And cooked it on high for four hours.

We ate the ribs with a simple salad, and they were tasty. I did not add more barbecue sauce to them on my plate, because it turned out they didn't really need it. They were tender and juicy and saucy and meaty and I am SO glad I added the cumin. It was such a lovely surprising aftertaste.

I love cumin.

I just had to say that.

All I bought at the store for this meal was the pork and the barbecue sauce. And the salad. Everything else I already had on hand, so what I spent for what I actually put in the pot was:

ribs -- $5.99
barbecue sauce -- $2.50
TOTAL -- $8.49

And now, to continue recovering from the week and catching up on tasks, and to decide what will be on the menu next week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

progress. as in, not quitting. (not yet, anyway.)

So, remember last month when I shared my new challenge?

A whole month has gone by and I have kept with it.

That is a big deal for me, because as I've said before, things that I am not obligated to do sometimes don't get done. I'll start off with a bang, but end with a fizzle. And not even at the end.

So, this is good. Let's see if I can keep it up for another month, and then another, and another, until I've reached my goal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

crock pot wednesday: well...

Today's crock pot meal was a fail.

It didn't taste bad, really. It was just very bland.

I didn't even bother sharing pictures with you, because I am going to change some things that I think caused it to fail tonight and share with you at a later date.

One good thing about me is, I am a good cook. Seriously. I am. I've always been told that by other people for as long as I can remember. I started cooking when I was six years old. And for many, many years, I made everything from scratch, because that was all I knew how to do.

Very rarely, a recipe that I come up with in my head does not translate well. Tonight was one of those times. I've got a few ideas on what I will change. First, let me tell you what I made.

I made Lemon Rosemary Chicken.

I took boneless, skinless chicken thighs and put them in the pot. I added one and a half cups each of lemonade and apple juice. The lemonade and apple juice were store versions of the Simply brand, which I love. I added probably a tablespoon of minced garlic, and one whole sprig of rosemary. I cooked it on high for four hours, and during the last hour I added some lemon pepper.

Most of the ingredients I already had on hand, so I didn't have to buy anything except the juice and the rosemary. I thought I had plain jasmine rice in my pantry, but it turns out I didn't. So, I used what I did have, which was Thai curry rice. We also had salad. We were going to have bread too, but I didn't make the dough in time.

As I said, the chicken didn't taste bad. Every bite was infused with rosemary flavor, as well as the flavor of the juice. However, here is where I think it failed, and thus will change the next time:

1. While the meat was infused with the juice flavor, it was too much apple. The lemon was completely lost, even with the lemon pepper added at the end. Next time, I will use lemonade only.

2. The garlic was completely lost as well. This is either due to me not adding enough garlic, or adding it too soon. Next time, I will add the same amount but during the last thirty minutes of cooking.

3. I under-seasoned when it came to the lemon pepper. Not nearly enough. I've always been light-handed when it comes to seasoning; I err on the side of caution, since my feeling is that one can always add more at the table. Next time, I will season my chicken liberally right after I put it in the pot.

The flavorful rice definitely helped with the dish; I am now glad I didn't use plain jasmine rice. The chicken smelled great while it was cooking. I was even concerned that maybe I added too much rosemary, since it smelled so strong. My concerns were unfounded. I probably could've added another spring, but I won't do that next time. I'll just see if the above modifications fix it first.

As for next week's crock pot meal, I'm tossing around a few ideas... white chicken chili, barbecue pork ribs, red beans and rice with sausage... just don't know yet.

What I do know is, I am lamenting the fact that after three blissful weeks with my husband I have to head back home with the kidlets on Sunday. We will be separated for A MONTH! That's the longest we've ever been apart. Not fun. But we will be keeping busy, and that always helps pass the time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

my creative style.

I asked my son a while back if he saw my photographic style developing, and if so, could he describe it.

He said that he did see it developing, and that he thinks part of it is making photos that look like paintings.

I think he's right. I do like taking abstract photos, and taking photos that look like drawings or paintings. As to more elaboration on what my style may be, I'm still not sure. What do you think?

I took this online quiz as well. It said "What's Your Creative Style?" but the result really didn't explain anything about my creative style. Rather, it was more about how I communicate. Not the same thing to me at all, but I thought I'd share it anyway...

[You communicate through creativity

You think of art as a means of reaching out to others but, at the same time, you use it as a shield to some extent. It’s a way of participating in society, in a community. It’s the way you communicate with others and the way they can communicate with you. Seen in this light, creativity provides the basic materials to build a bridge between you and other people, so you can’t think of it as something that lies outside your relationship with others. You like the attention and good opinion of others. When you show people what you’ve made — a birthday cake, or a piece of music you’ve written — it’s your baby, so you are very sensitive about any criticism. You need to be able to distance yourself from the result, and allow others to enjoy it and feel part of it, without it reflecting on you alone. Your creativity allows you (or would allow you) to feel part of the world. You’ve got an inner exhibitionist and you think that this strengthens your relationships. What you really want is for others to see the good in you. You prefer to get on the stage than stay in the wings analysing your inner life (although you do that, too). So let the show begin, but make sure your life doesn’t depend on the applause.]

Yeah, so the little quiz thing was kind of a fail.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

keyed up. and for what?

I'm baaack!

I hope everyone has had a fabulous week!

Of course, you noticed that there was no Crockpot Wednesday post yesterday. And that is because,


It has taken me TWO. Count 'em. TWO. Days to recover from our fabulous vacation. (I will be sharing where we went and what we did very soon!) I slept a large part of the day Tuesday, and yesterday! Yes, I was THAT tired. My hubby was worn out. My kidlets have been worn out. Stick a fork in us, 'cause we were DONE this week!

Sigh... sooo, it may be a weekend edition. I haven't even planned what to cook in it yet! Talk about playing catch up.

Speaking of catching up (but not really), we have taken the last couple of weeks off from doing our regular schoolwork due to extensive traveling (meaning driving!). So look for a new chapter of the Homeschooling Log next week.

But I AM starting to get caught up on my backlog of photos that I needed to finish! Praise the Lord! Here are a few gems from a shoot I was hired to do Labor Day weekend, for some friends who were attending DragonCon. (I dressed up a little too!)

And I've got more shoots coming up this next month! A few family shoots! I'm very excited, especially with it being this particular time of year. I know that opportunities for superb images abound!

I'm using a lot of caps and exclamations in this post, aren't I? I'm excited. Sorry.

Back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

two things.

Well, this has been quite a week. There's lots I want to share, but I am beat, so those things will have to wait. A couple of things though--

I did my seven-hour drive to Ohio with my kidlets today. It was a lovely drive (as it has always been), and while it was smooth and relatively quick (it's supposed to be eight hours) I am a wee bit worn out. And I neglected to bring my crock pot with me. I had planned on just ordering a second one to use up here, but since I didn't do that this morning, I doubt Amazon will deliver one to my doorstep in time for me to have a slow-cooked meal on the table by tomorrow afternoon. So, there will be no Crock Pot Wednesday this week. It may become a Crock Pot Thursday, or it will just resume next week. Also--

It looks like we will be taking a short vacation this weekend, so I may or may not get a chance to post. My plan is to definitely do so, since I really do have lots to share (a review, highlights of the latest AGE session, a new non-human friend, musings on being invisible, things I want my kids to know, my creative style, a new chapter of the homeschooling log), but please do bear with me in the event that it's Monday or Tuesday before you hear from me again.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week enjoying the lovely Autumn weather.