kitchen randomness

so i guess i’m in a blogging kind of mood today. ava needs to get up from her nap & hubby’s in the garage & dinner has 20 mins left in the oven, so maybe i’m just feeling talkative, lonely & bored! ๐Ÿ™‚

you know how people say the things that drive you nuts about the person you love are usually the same things you love about them? i know that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense now that i’ve typed it probably, but some of you may know what i’m talking about. well, i think the same goes for life & in tonight’s case – preparing dinner. sometimes i look at the pantry & fridge & just get so frustrated i could throw a can of petite diced tomatoes at the wall – we always seem to have a can of those around for some reason… coming up with dinners either frustrates me to no end, or, like in tonight’s case, brings me so much pleasure. i guess it depends on how much energy i have or how creative i feel like being. like tonight…my sister-in-law gave me this great recipe for chicken pot pie a while ago, but i didn’t have all the ingredients. some nights that would bug me, but tonight, after some major improvisions (like veg broth in lieu of chicken, a bag of random mixed veggies, a ton of potatoes & some interesting combo of spices like sage & paprika to name a few) i must say i’m pretty pleased. oh – also i had 2 pie shells, so i just let them thaw & flipped the one over the other like a lid. worked out perfectly. hopefully the fam enjoys it too. ava gets the non-dairy version of course…

so here it is – the final product…ever wanna talk food, i’m always interested!

need advice from you creative beings…

ok, so several days ago i posted the nursery pics & projects. so excited btw that one i didn’t even know we’d finish is almost complete! eric slaved all weekend to refinish an old cabinet from my mom for me. i can’t use spray paint & laquer in this condition. pics coming soon… but, anyway, i’m really struggling w/ what to do with the angels. i’ve called ava “my angel” since before she was born, but i still do want to incorporate the plaques into isla’s room. so, here is my dilemma…ava’s room is mostly browns; isla’s is mostly grays & whites. what can i do so one can dwell in each of the girls’ room & yet still preserve that classic look that will last them a lifetime? like, i’m not looking to paint them pink or something. i am stumped. any ideas???

*must have the same, classic finish

12 weeks left & counting…

so…something occurred to me while watching “jake & the neverland pirates” w/ava the other morning…i’ve officially entered the realm of mr. smee in terms of attire these days. proof? hubby asks, “don’t you own any shirts that cover the bottom of your belly?” ha! what’s wrong w/wearing clothes that don’t fit to bed?! who out there spends money on maternity pj’s anyway? i cringe at buying the necessities. but i guess that was my sign i need to start alternating nightgowns & scrap the tees & capris til after baby…

the swollen feet hanging over the shoes kind of looks familiar too…yikes! thank goodness i think i can stop there! oh wait…just noticed the glasses barely hanging onto that schnoz… ok, now i’m starting to feel pretty plump & frumpy!

nursery in the works…

oh isla, the work you have in store for me! ๐Ÿ™‚ but you’re worth it. here are a few “before” shots of some upcoming projects i have planned for her room. i hope “nesting” kicks in soon, b/c right now i’m dragging my swollen feet…

here is the inspiration fabric i stumbled upon while looking at rugs. probably will end up as a crib skirt, pillow case, & maybe a few other things depending on how much is left over…

some items in need of tlc, but full of meaning…
angels crafted by my mother’s grandfather that i will refinish

& a painting started by my father’s grandmother before she passed – she & ava share a birthday, so now each of the girls will have something special to share w/her

“pray” & “love” art…two of the most important verbs you can ever practice…

glider in desperate need of a slipcover & paint job…

this mama better get a move on…only about 12 weeks left…& that’s only if she makes me wait the whole 40 weeks!

the “s” returns…

Well, ila is isla again. i like the silent “s.” it’s classy. it flows. the “i” is able to stand, prominently, followed by the rest of the letters that flow like a calm ocean wave…the “s” into the “l” and “a.” perfect. after we changed it to omit the “s,” and i typed it, it hit me that the “i” next to the “l” resembled two puny sticks just hanging out, waiting to be blown over (& the word llama…hmmm). yes, i’m disappointed that hungarians don’t use the silent “s,” because that would be ideal! however, my maiden surname is scottish, so scottish spelling w/hungarian meaning & purpose still fits the bill for me. anyway…i saw “isla” in a magazine article today, & it just looked right, so, i simply asked my hubby today if we could keep the “s,” and he said sure! i love compromise. so her name will no longer match her sister’s in number of letters, but that’s ok…i am not changing this blog address again! …even if we call her sue! haha

name change…spelling only this time!

so…in case you didn’t notice…the title of the blog & the link have changed a bit, b/c our coming daughter’s name will be spelled differently now. over breakfast this morning, hubby & i were talking about the beautiful name, “eye-la,” that will grace our second daughter…

just some history…i had liked the name “eve” for her, but it wasn’t of favorite of his, so back in mid-february, while reading the baby name book in frustration (i wanted a name like yesterday for her), i was reading through the “i” names…we read through a letter at a time & when i came across “isla,” i got the response, “i dig it.” music to this mom’s ears from her picky husband! i’m just as picky & stubborn too, so the fact that i liked it sparked some interest. the next morning, i decided to research the name. bogus or negative meanings equal toss it & start over again. well…to my delight, i spotted the hungarian variant w/the spelling “ila” on one of the websites i was looking at & clicked on it. the hungarian meaning for the name is “bright/shining one,” & it is a variant of the name “helen.” bonus! why? well…my hubby’s family is of hungarian decent (our last name is very hungarian), so to find a hungarian girl name that we liked other than “imola” (not a lot of those around i’m sure) was awesome. secondly, both of his grandmothers, who have passed, were named helen. he actually wanted our 1st daughter to bear the name, but i was afraid it was too outdated for her generation & he didn’t like “helene.” it’ll have a comeback someday i’m sure – they all do. but anyway, he was especially close to his “nana,” so to find a name that…1-is hungarian, 2-has a positive meaning, 3-we both really like, & 4-is a variation of a name so close to his heart…we couldn’t pass it up. this was it. “isla rae.”

so what about the spelling after that long story? well, mom likes the scottish spelling w/the silent “s,” but dad wants to stay true to the hungarian spelling & fears she will be called “iz-la” one too many times. i can give up the “s” for those reasons…i’ll survive. ๐Ÿ™‚ hopefully, she likes it. so that’s it. that’s the story.

neat similarity to ava’s name though…they will both have short, sweet, 6 letter names to pair with our wonderfully unique last name…ava lee & ila rae…my little angels.

chicken & black bean cazuela…

often when dinner rolls around, i check out the fridge & pantry & have to get creative…last night was one of those nights. my hubby agreed this was tastier than our usual “taco night.” plus, it yields leftovers & got him to eat beans! bonus! haha he’s been bugging me to create a cookbook, but honestly i don’t even know where i’d start, so i figure this is the next best thing! here’s my simple mexican concoction…hope you like it!

chicken & black bean cazuela (casserole)
you will need:
3-4 chicken breasts…………………………………………..1/2 c. sour cream
one 4oz can diced green chilies……………………one pkg. hot taco seasoning & garlic
one 10oz can petite diced tomatoes……………3-4 soft tortilla shells
one 2lb. bag of sharp cheddar cheese………one 10oz can refried black beans

preheat oven to 350 degrees…
boil or saute chicken breasts, dice & set aside in a medium-sized bowl
coat a 9 in. round cake pan w/cooking spray

add to diced chicken:
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic or 2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. sour cream
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix – i get the “hot” stuff (or you can make your own)
1/2 4oz can of diced green chilies
1/2 10oz can of petite diced tomatoes
combine well

assemble casserole:
lay 1 tortilla shell in the bottom of the pan
spread an even coat of refried black beans over entire shell
lightly coat w/cheddar cheese
add an even layer of chicken mixture
finish with another coat of cheddar cheese & tortilla

on the final tortilla shell – i spread the remaining sauce from the chicken mixture over the shell w/a spatula (kind of like glazing)
then finish w/a generous coating of cheddar cheese

bake uncovered until cheese is completely melted & not quite browned (about 25 mins or so)

enjoy!!! i’m having the leftovers for dinner! ๐Ÿ™‚

ava’s version, now that we are introducing more dairy…black beans with a pinch of cumin & coriander mixed with a sprinkle of cheese. baked right alongside our dish. she loved it!

christian w/a multiple personality problem…

so i got to have one of those showers today…a thought-provoking one…it’s been awhile. ๐Ÿ™‚ i got so into my thinking about this that i almost turned the water off & got out before actually bathing! oops…

i’ll start off w/a picture – i think in pictures & analogies, which is why i think i love Jesus’ use of parables so much – picture an onion with all its layers (not so much the smell) ๐Ÿ™‚ that’s what i feel like. beneath all these layers (maybe in my case just a few) is my core person – who i am in front of the Lord, when i’m alone, when i pray, while i sit w/my child or close my eyes at night next to my hubby. that’s me, but for some reason those are really the only times i get to be me. the rest of the time i feel i’m a close version of me, & rarely, but more often than i’d like, i’m someone the real me doesn’t even recognize.

perhaps it’s walls we build up around only certain ppl…ppl who have hurt or disappointed us…ppl we subconsciously just don’t trust w/that inner person. i have a few of those ppl in my life, & the version they get to see of me isn’t who i really am & so consequently, they base their opinions on who they see, right? who they think you are, but that’s not you & in the end, you find yourself stuck in a box w/your labels & false personality. in my case, you eventually suffer knowing that they’ve got it all wrong about you & it’s mostly your fault, b/c you just can’t be yourself around them for some reason & there you stay, stuck in the box. yet you stay consistent, b/c that’s who you have become around that specific person or group of ppl, & God forbid you act your true self, right?! b/c then, they’d think you’re on crazy pills or something…& you can’t have that… am i making any sense? it made sense in the shower… ๐Ÿ™‚

the other part of my problem – another cause of my “multiple personality problem” stems from becoming a christian – a true christian. now, before you jump to any conclusions, i LOVE my relationship w/Christ. He is my rock, my refuge, my peace & my hope. just some history though to shed light on this dilemma…before i became the person i am now – the person who loves & has an actual relationship w/Jesus – i was a good person. i was fun, had LOADS of friends, popular, funny, fashionable (believe it or not) – just plain fun basically. now…my family would probably say i’m no longer that person. i know, b/c i’ve heard it many times in the last 11 yrs, but among all those other things, i was also sad & empty inside. that’s where Jesus came in. things still make me sad, but my life & heart are full of love & purpose – something i hadn’t had before & no matter how much you know you are loved, or how much you give love, the fulfillment of that deep longing only comes from knowing Jesus. so anyway, that was a little tangent, but to get back to my issue…i still find myself wanting to be those fun things i was before Christ, only the christian version, but this is me now. here are some scriptures that kind of explain this spiritual transformation that happens miraculously, beyond your control or own doing…”therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 corinthians 5) & “you were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (ephesians 4). my new self is totally different from that old self. how do you get those traits you did like to carry over? it’s not that i don’t want to be fun, or laugh all the time, or feel “fashionable” – it’s just that i’m different now. i think i struggle letting go of my past personality sometimes & knowing that my loved ones who knew me then prefer that “old man’s” personality, sometimes throws me into a personality pickle per se…

anyway, so there’s my little shower soap box for the day. any thoughts? can anyone relate?

oh & just a side note – i know i’m a certified teacher, but i throw all the rules of mechanics out the window on here…hope you don’t mind ๐Ÿ™‚ but apparently grammar still gives me ocd, b/c i’ve been back to edit my mistakes now 6 times…

babies & banana bread

had my monthly check-up this am. baby’s heart rate is great. they forgot to tell me numbers…i’m one of those weird moms that records EVERYTHING in the baby’s book…but i’ll take “great.” one more monthly appt. in april, then it’s every 2 wks for this chick. seems to be going by pretty quickly.

our april appt. actually falls on the due date for “baby ej,” the 2nd of our three babies, who went to be w/Jesus in august. not quite sure how that day will feel. i’d like to do something as a family on that day to honor our babies and “ej,” but not quite sure about that either. what do you do? shortly after the miscarriage, we visited a park – in a local high-end township – so you can imagine this park. it had everything from miles of walking trails & ecological centers to sports complexes & a spa. we went with a mum that we had purchased specifically to plant in remembrance of our child in the “remembering our babies” memorial garden…well…it took 2 trips on 2 different days, asking staff members where we could find it only to drive around in circles for what seemed like forever, looking at online maps, & walking for nearly 2 hours (all w/a 9 mo. old in tow mind you) to find this “special” spot. let me tell you, the girl scouts’ flower garden was FOUR times the size & was no bigger than your average sandbox! this special “garden” ended up being a 2×2 ft. spot in a PARKING LOT! we only came upon it, b/c we had given up & were LEAVING for the 2nd time! it was so sad & i just lost my composure upon seeing it. yes there was a tree, and yes, there was a little bench, but that’s it. surrounded by blacktop. such a disappointment. sorry for the rabbit trail, but that said, originally, i was hoping this “garden” would be my remembering place. somewhere i or we as a family could go to pray, remember & honor our child. nope. mum came home & died in the garage. so anyway…not quite sure how april 15th will go.

on a happier note – after all this baby stuff this morning & forgoing a great breakfast due to that lovely orange beverage i downed for the glucola test (i had a piece of dry toast & watered-down oj)…i have decided to bake banana bread (and oatmeal bars), but the banana bread i’ve made several times & it never lasts more than 2 days in this house, so i thought i’d share… i’ll warn you though – it does stay a little gooey in the center, but it’s pretty tasty all the same. enjoy!

chocolate chip banana bread

preheat oven to 350 degrees
grease & lightly flour loaf pan (this recipe could prob make 2 loaves, but i make 1 biggie)
i also use a fork the whole time, so as to not over beat the mixture

bowl #1 – mash 3 to 4 bananas (i used 4 if they’re on the small side)
mix in 1 c. coconut palm sugar (or 3/4 c. white sugar) & 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
in a measuring cup – combine 1/2 c. coconut oil OR applesauce w/ 1 egg, amp; 1 tsp. vanilla, & 1 tbsp. honey
add it to banana mixture & stir briefly

bowl #2 – combine 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, & 1 tsp. each of baking soda & powder
add to banana mixture & stir lightly (over-mixing = more dense bread = brick)

last, fold in about 1/3 c. chocolate chips (just hold it, there will be more!)
pour into loaf pan
add a final 1/4 c. chocolate chips and “help” into the batter w/ your fork
i have found that if i add them all into the batter and bake, they sink to the bottom
it seems to work a little better when i sneak some just below the surface & if some linger on top, it just helps the aesthetic side of things…

bake for about 30-40 mins. testing in several spots w/a toothpick.
(if you hit a banana, you may think your bread’s still raw…)
i bake in a glass pan, so 40 mins. is just right…
it also yields 18 cupcake-size muffins (only bake for 30 mins.)

comments? suggestions? let me know what you think!