Monday, January 31, 2011

project 52, week four.

Week Four of my Project 52 has not been without its challenges.

Last week, my youngest was sick (she caught what my middle child had the week before) and I caught what she had.

This week, I suffered through the worst of it. Fever, chills, aches, nausea, incessant and painful coughing, alla that. It was soooo much fun.

Somehow I did manage to get some photos taken. Well, it wasn't somehow. It was yesterday, when I felt marginally better.


(I did actually get this one earlier on in the week.)

Out and about.

My iPhonearoid of the week is right here.

And my Weekly Vlog is right here.

Have a great week, everyone.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

crock pot wednesday: spicy beef sandwiches.

Today was just another in a series of BANNER days.

I hope you hear the sarcasm in that.

Since my Ladybug was vomiting last night, I decided that we would not go in to Master's today. Good thing I did, because although she didn't vomit today, she still wasn't well and neither was I. I coughed so hard most of the day it made my chest hurt. Yay.

But I did manage to get dinner in the crock pot.

And what did I make? Something REALLY easy. Spicy Beef Sandwiches.

My ingredients were only two. Well, three actually, including salt. One chuck roast and a jar of mild pepperoncinis.

I put the roast in the pot, seasoned it liberally with salt, dumped the entire jar of pepperoncinis in it, and then added a little bit of water, enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Cooked it on high for five hours, at which time I shredded the beef in the pot with a couple of forks. We then spooned the meat out onto our sandwich bread, covered the meat with some provolone cheese, and ate.

My son had two sandwiches. My husband also had two. We ran out of sandwich bread, and they complained, because they both wanted another sandwich. Or two. They loved it that much. My husband said I should make this often.

The meat wasn't overly spicy, but it did have some heat. Not enough to keep my (newly) three-year old daughter from eating it though. (My finicky son ate the lunch that he didn't eat earlier for dinner.) I also had two sandwiches and I must say, the meat was tasty.

It really doesn't get much simpler than this for a meal.

roast: $5.28
peppers: $1.72
TOTAL: $7.00

And thankfully, I already have the ingredients on hand for next week's crock pot meal.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

three. three children, three birthdays, three birth stories, three videos, three-year old daughter.

Today is my little Ladybug's birthday.

I love her so much. She's the most awesome little dainty rosebud ever.

All of you, my beloved tens of readers, would love to know her. Actually, you would love to know all of my kids. Because they're grrrreat. What makes my daughter so cool is, she likes all of the best songs. And she has the dopest dance moves. Her laugh is infectious. She loves to read books. She's super creative, and she loves lining her toys in rows. She enjoys shopping, but also making a mess and getting dirty.

How cool is that?

We are postponing her family celebration until tomorrow, because she has thrown up three times so far this evening. That poor Ladybug.

Hopefully she'll feel better tomorrow evening, so I can slap on the tiara and clip-on baby baubles I got for her, and we can do the red velvet cake celebration for the wee lass. Then, this weekend, I'm thinking I might take her out for tea and dress-up fun.

Last year, I shared Natalie's birth story with you. I also made a small video montage of her first year of life. (It was my very first video, so I just laugh now every time I watch it, after I marvel over how small and precious she was. I did a horrible job with the music editing! Hahaha! And most of the pictures are horrible quality because at the time I did not know how to use that Kodak Easy Share camera optimally. It's amazing how much I've learned since I bought Niki. It's also amazing that I used to get way better photos on the regular with DISPOSABLE cameras. I should have just stuck with those instead of that Kodak.) And I posted a Facebook album of photos from her second year of life.

This year, I made a video greeting for each of my children on their birthday. Here is Natalie's.

(If you are interested in seeing my sons' birthday video greetings, here is Bobby's and here is Ian's. I'll also link to their birth stories as well. Bobby's is here and Ian's is here.)

Happy birthday, baby. Mommy loves your beautiful face and your beautiful spirit.

Monday, January 24, 2011

project 52, week three.

This post is getting to you a day late. I spent most of my weekend tending to my littlest one.

She has not been feeling well the past few days. And before that, my little boy was sick. And now, I've come down with a bad cough. So, the whole week has been sick.

With Ladybug feeling the way she was and not sleeping much the past few days, I just did not get around to typing this post until now. 

And this week was a complete bust. I had a slight schedule change at work, which means I am now having to be there earlier on Wednesdays. I didn't manage my time very well this past Wednesday morning, so I did not get my crock pot meal prepared. We ended up having pizza.

I also am not happy with the shots I got this week. Just one of those weeks where it seems I don't know how to use a camera. At all. Everything came out either really crappy or just plain boring. I feel like I am starting all over again, from scratch, after having taken several THOUSANDS of photos last year (I'm not exaggerating). So these shots this week... suck.

But that happens sometimes. Lord knows, last year when I did my 365 project there were several days when I was not enthused by the output. It does not stop me from shooting. 

I know this week will be better.

The weather reports are forecasting more snow. Time to freak out.


Family. So far, my little girl seems to be the star of the family portraits. She's just always right there.

Annnd a heaping of boring un-inspiredness.

My iPhonearoid of the week is here.

And my Weekly Vlog is here.

Sooo, my week was pretty much a heap of crap. I hope yours wasn't.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

project 52, week two.

Week Two has come and gone. And what a strange week it was.

Good strange. Not bad strange.

I am a native of Atlanta, Georgia. I was born and raised here. A Georgia Baptist baby. (Though it's not called Georgia Baptist anymore; it's called Atlanta Medical Center or something like that.)

In all of my thirty-seven years, I have NEVER seen the kind of mayhem that ensued, weather-wise, this week, beginning Sunday night. It really was a snowpocalypse. Snowmaggedon, if you will.

The result? We were snowed/iced in all week.

All. Week.

My husband actually went back to work on Tuesday, but every day we were praying hard that he would make it there and back safely.

No real cabin fever to report. Lots of sleeping in, playing Call of Duty Black Ops and Halo Reach, watching blu-rays and Netflix, and general lounging around. I could have been productive, but I wasn't. No Spring Cleaning for me. It ain't Spring yet.

Ahhhh Spriiiiiing.

Anyway, here are my snapshots for the week.


Family portrait.

Sunday night, a couple of hours into the snowstorm.

You can see my iPhonearoid of the week here.

And you can see Weekly Vlog Number Two here.

Have a great week, folks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

crock pot wednesday: the pot of comfort resumes.

Snowmaggedon. That is how some would describe the winter storm that hit our city on Sunday night. Because of it, we are still snowed/iced in. Many have complained of cabin fever. Me? Nah. I'm very happy to have had this extra week (because all of our out-of-house school days have been cancelled) of Christmas break. Sleeping in and lazing around has felt really good, and I actually feel rested. Plus, it's given my kids the chance to get the last bit of illness out of their systems.

And, it's made me reflect on how happy I am to have plenty of food in the house.

I resumed my weekly crock pot meal schedule today, even though we didn't have Master's Academy. I just wanted to have dinner taken care of and not have to think about it later in the evening. I made a dish that I previously made in the Fall, which was pretty tasty: Peach Salsa Chicken.

You can find the recipe in that post. I will share a few things I changed up here.

First, I made sure that I had boneless chicken.

I used an actual peach salsa this time. In fact, it had mangoes and peaches in it. (Just so you know, mangoes are my absolute favorite fruit, and I have always loved peaches as well, so this was the perfect salsa for me.)

I also used one jar of peaches in 100% fruit juice, because I couldn't find a can of peaches in water at the store this time.

I also seasoned with cumin, because I like it, in addition to some seasoned salt. My only quibble is that I could have been a little more heavy-handed with the seasonings, since I did add more liquid this time. Or maybe I just should have left out the extra liquid. Maybe just enough to line the bottom of the pot.

At any rate, even though I should have seasoned it more liberally, it still came out tasty. It smelled so good, and I didn't even add the other jar of peaches toward the end like I had planned. The peaches in the dish retained a nice amount of sweetness.

Next week, I may revisit that delicious jambalaya.

If you have any good crock pot recipes, please feel free to share them with me. I don't always want to make them up on my own. I'd love to hear from you all.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

natty's season of awesome, chapter two.

This is our second snow day. Tomorrow will be another snow day.

I'm serious. It's a mess down here in the A.

My sweet husby-wusby, bless his heart, he had to go in to work. Luckily, we procured Tina after saying goodbye to Shelly (my little shell of a car), and Tina has four wheel drive. You go girl.

Soooo, he made it to work safely. But. The roads are iced over again, the Perimeter is a mess, and he is basically stuck down there. Not an entirely bad thing, since there is a ton of work that needs to be done down at the job.

But it means that he's spending the night down there. Boo.

So, I postponed enchilada night (always a big hit at our house... my guys LOVE my enchiladas) and am having Lean Cuisine and the kids are having hot dogs and leftover homemade pizza from last night. Tomorrow, I will be jumping right back in to my Crock Pot Wednesdays!

In the meantime, here are some more highlights from our epic family vacation in the Chi, which kicked off an entire season of awesome. It really was the best Autumn ever.

Okay. I am stopping now.

Monday, January 10, 2011

natty's season of awesome, chapter one.

The latter part of 2010 passed in a blaze of hazy glory. I wish it could have gone by a little bit more slowly. I seem to feel quite often like life is whizzing past me at warp speed, and I am always left catching my breath, even though I don't exactly feel like I was along for the ride. Do you know what I mean?

But I was along for the ride, fast ride that it was. And it was an awesome ride that ended way too abruptly. But alas, such is life... when one gets older, anyway.

I am finally taking the time, while we still have a couple of days of break left (thanks, blizzard!), to share with you some of the awesomeness that was my Autumn season, in pictures and stories. It was a season of adventures, unexpected blessings, and upgrades, and I am so thankful to the Lord for such a peaceful and joyous time.

As you know, we spent a lot of time in Ohio. My husband was working on a project up there. During our stint in Ohio, we were able to take our first-ever family vacation, to Chicago. I had planned on blogging about it right after it happened, but photog-backlog got the better of me (and still has the better of me, even though I now see a very dim spot of light at the end of the tunnel) and it was a couple of weeks before I even got all of the photos done. They have long since been finished, and I now have the time to share a couple of stories for you.

Before I share, let me just tell you that I love Chicago.

I. love. it.

It is a city for which I had some appreciation already, but not that much. I had traveled to Chicago several times when I was a kid, to visit relatives. It was always fun, as much fun as one can have when visiting relatives. I enjoyed being around family and eating and generally doing a whole lot of nothing. I did not, however, see the CITY. Just the South Side. Nothing wrong with the South Side, but it's not the city.

I finally saw the city in 2009, in July. We were there for a week and a half because my husband was working up there. We had the most awesome time; it was unbelievable. And we fell in love with the city.

I am a total city girl anyway. I was born and raised in the city. I love the A, warts and all. And I love big cities. I've lived in London, and it's amazing. I've lived in Mexico and have been to Mexico City twice, and it is indeed big. I don't remember much of Los Angeles, because I was small, but I do recall that it was big. And then there's Miami. I love Miami.

My favorite big city, however, is New York. I love it. So much.

And I love Chicago almost as much. I actually refer to it as Almostnewyork.

With 2009's Chicago trip being so great I had little hope that we would be able to repeat it. We were determined to try, however, since this was our first official family vacation. Ever.

We headed out on the road around nine or ten in the morning. Luckily, Chicago is only a five-hour drive from Dayton. Like Atlanta to Savannah. Easy peasy.

There are lots of farms in Ohio. And Indiana.

We arrived in Chicago and were instantly smitten. Again.

Made it to the hotel, no problem. Then we find out that we have no room booked there. This was after my husband had called earlier in the week and called to confirm on TWO different occasions.

[When I had originally planned to share the highlights of this trip with you back in October, I had planned on giving this post the title of "The Misadventures of Natty's Family in Almostnewyork, Chapter One: How to Not Have a Place to Stay When Visiting a Big City Far Away From Home." I am glad life got in the way and I am just now getting to share this with you guys, because now it's just one big laugh. It actually was by the end of our trip.]

After sitting in the nice hotel lobby for what seemed like almost an hour while my husband was on the phone with the... I guess... reservation people, he informed me that a) they booked us the wrong weekend-- the following weekend, and b) not at this hotel (which was the hotel at which we had wanted to stay and thought we would be staying).

Sooooo, we got back in the car and drove twenty minutes away, to Midway Airport and its neighborhood. Of course, at the time, I was beyond pissed, because there went half of my plans to walk to the Navy Pier and Nordstrom and other places. And here we were, with no view of the city. Stank. Stank. Stank.

Buuuut, as it turned out, the hotel was nice, the neighborhood was nice, there was a Giordano's right down the street (where we ended up having dinner that night), Target was right over the bridge, and the city was actually not nearly as far as it seemed when we first made our way out to the hotel. After a couple of yummy deep dish pizzas, all was right with the world again, and we settled in, ready for all manner of city fun the next few days.

And major city fun was had by all. We took a double-decker tour bus two days in a row (and of course sat on the top deck in the most perfect fall weather imaginable), ate at Bubba Gump's since we liked it so much the year before, and also made it out to Hot Doug's for a couple of his famous hot dogs. We even met Doug himself! He was working the cash register. The experience was worth the hour-long wait in line outside (which we knew about ahead of time).

My oldest son and I took a ride on the Navy Pier ferris wheel, and acted like total little kids. It was our first ferris wheel ride ever! You would have thought we had traveled to outer space, we were so excited.

We caught the tail-end of Jewel's concert at the Chicago Country Music Festival in Millennium Park, which was a total surprise.

We had dinner in Chinatown, and fell in love with it, the food, the bubble teas from Joy Yee's Noodle Shop, and the Water Taxi.

And we took a ride to the top of the Sears Tower. Yes, Sears Tower. I know it's not called that anymore; it's called the Willis Tower. But in my mind it will always be the Sears Tower. My husband punked out before the elevator doors closed and did not go up to the Skydeck with us, but the kids and I had fun seeing the city from such a high perch.

I have tried to spare you a gazillion photos. It was difficult. It's a fairly safe bet that I will share more photos in Chapter Two of this series. This trip was all kinds of awesome and completely made of win, and we walked away with tons of fond memories of our first-ever family vacation. It really did set off Natty's Season of Awesome. And that's a way better title for this post.

Here are just a few more highlights. Did I already mention that I love Chicago? Yes? I'll say it again.

I love Chicago.

I love it so much.