Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's the Final Countdown

      Since my English class is in the online format, it will officially end tomorrow.  However, being the nerd that I am, I already submitted my final paper and received my grade on it.  I officially have a 100 in the class.  Tomorrow the rest of my finals kick off with my A&P II lab final.  I'm not as confident about that one, considering I had to leave the room when they started dissecting the cat, but I'm sure it will be fine.  It's crazy to think that another semester is coming to a close.  This was supposed to be my last semester of prerequisites before I entered the Associate's Degree program at MGCCC, but plans have changed slightly.  Thanks to a chance conversation with a friend from school I discovered that I'm only 3 classes from entering the Bachelor's program at a university up the road a ways.  I will take two of those courses this summer, and then the last one will be in the fall.  Hopefully, I will be accepted into the program Spring 2014, and I will graduate with a Bachelor's Aug. 2015.  I'm a little hesitant in my excitement as I haven't officially been accepted into the program yet.  I'll turn in my application after the summer semester, and hopefully I'll get good news.
     Summer semester will not equal less time at home, however.  I will be taking a hybrid class and a night class, so I will get to be at home with my Monkey during the day.  I'm looking forward to that immensely, and my Crafty Kids board on Pinterest is about to explode.  Quality time has been a little scarce with all the preparations for finals, so tonight we went on a family run, and then we stopped and looked for blackberries.  It was nice to get out and spend time with my loved ones.  There's not enough of that anymore these days.
     Well enough of my blabbing.  I do have a recipe to share with y'all, since my random cat post was lacking in that area.  In honor of me finally taking my mother's advice for the first time ever,  I'm going to post her Crawfish Pie recipe that is to die for!!!  (But only if y'all promise not to tell her; I don't want her thinking she needs to give me more advice.)

Mom's Crawfish Pie
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1 can cream of celery soup
4 TBS tomato sauce
1 lb crawfish (or shrimp)
1/4 cup parsley flakes
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Tony's to taste
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 (9") pie shells

   Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, celery, and green onions in the butter until tender and onions are transparent.  Add cream of celery and tomato sauce, crawfish, and parsley flakes.  Cook slowly for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Add breadcrumbs, Tony's, egg, and milk.  Pour into pie shells.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Seriously, though, if you make anything I've posted, make this!  This is one of those down-home recipes I crave when I start feeling homesick.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

There's really no point to this post....

     My brain is fried.  I just had a study marathon weekend (minus some much needed girl time yesterday), and I need a break from all this higher level thinking.  Which is why tonight's post will be nothing but fluff brought to you courtesy of my sweet foster babies.  Enjoy!

     Yes, I realize that I just added to the already overcrowded realm of cat memes, but they're so cute.  Seriously though, these sweet babies will be available for adoption through the HSSM in about 4 weeks, and they deserve a good forever home.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How to Survive a Zombie Attack

     This morning my team and I headed off to fight the oncoming wave of zombies in Gulfport.  My team, DOA (Dead on Arrival) consisted of myself, my husband, my little brother, my older sister, and her husband.  We arrived to what looked like just another 5K, with one major difference:

     Zombies!  Playing bagpipes?  Well, just this one at least.  The rest were trying to steal the tags we were wearing around our waists.  The goal is to finish with at least one tag per team.  We started with three tags per team member, so a total of fifteen tags.  You'd think it would be easy, but it wasn't.  We crawled under chicken wire, slid down a wet slope, ran through zombie-infested woods, and waded through deep mud holes all before we were halfway to the finish line.  At this point J lost both of his shoes, and as he searched for them a zombie came up behind him to snatch his remaining two tags.  I had lost all of mine, so I shouted for him to look out, and ran to block the zombie.  That's when we found out that not all the zombies on this run would be the slow, easily avoided "walkers".  This one took off after him, and chased him deeper into the course.  She finally gave up, and J kept his two tags, but it had cost him his shoes. Our team took the moment to regroup, and we found we were down to 3 tags total.  J had two, and my sister had one.  As my little brother and I went back to search for J's missing shoes, the rest caught their breaths in preparation for what was next.  The zombie who was guarding the mud pit that ate J's shoes gave us a good tip.  If we could snatch a tag back from a zombie or find one on the course, we could keep it and have a better chance of surviving.  I ran back to the group with the news.  J left his remaining tags with the group and returned to the mud pit with me to regain a few more.

Wading through the muck.

That's not a tag!
     He didn't find any tags, but he did get one shoe back.  He was a champ and decided to continue the course in his socks.  After that point the zombies became more and more aggressive.  As did we.  After making it out of the muck in the woods, my brother and I decided to double back to sneak up on a zombie who had a handful of tags in her fist.  Her back was to us as we approached, and I was reaching out to grab a tag from her when another runner shouted for her to look out.  The zombie turned in time to move the tags from my grasp, and the other runner used that as her chance to get past with her last tag still attached to her waist.  Frustrated, we moved on.

     At this point we were adopted by some little teenager who had left his dad in the beginning.  This kid helped us block off zombies, and tried to help us win back some tags a time or two.  As our group moved from the zombie infested woods to the open grass, we saw the next obstacle: a series of hay bales you had to climb only to get to the other side where zombies on steroids were waiting for you.  My little brother and I decided we would be the blockers for J.  We were successful in getting him through the first batch of zombies with both tags in tact, but  when we went back for my sister, J decided to go ahead alone.  He lost both of his tags, and my sister lost her last one.  Thinking we were near the finish line, we accepted defeat and assumed the zombie position.

I don't make a good zombie.
     We were wrong to think it was over.  Just ahead was a mock quicksand pit made of water and cornstarch with two zombies.  We noticed another group that only had one tag left, so we figured what the heck, we'll help them guard their last tag and hopefully find another one in the bargain.

Digging through the muck.
     My sister went into full country girl mode when one of the tutued zombies tried to steal the tag off the other team.  She tackled her, and almost won the tag back, but then she lost her footing in the goo and had to let it go.  She tried really hard to find another one though.  Soon we had to accept defeat again and move on.  This is where our luck started to turn around.  We came to the next station, where we could shoot paintball guns at zombies in an attempt to hit them in the head and win back a tag.  Our men were successful, as were a few members of the other group.  We continued on with a new spring in our step.

J took out a zombie with a head shot on the first try.
Our men are heroes.
     After this our two groups merged into one machine in survival mode.  We made it through the next group of nurses/doctors-turned-zombies.  Then we came to another tag challenge where we would have two shots to shoot a real (moving) zombie in the head with a Nerf bow and arrow.  I'll admit here that my archery skills are nonexistent.  The zombie in footie pajamas actually laughed at me.  No one won back a tag on this challenge, but we found a few more along the way.  Before we rounded the next curve we tallied it up, and we found that everyone had a tag but me.  We then had to jump a few hurdles with zombies waiting between each jump, and J lost his hard-won tag.  I suddenly became a bodyguard for my little brother as he went through the last obstacle.  Finally we ran into the last zombie of the race.  Although I knew I'd be considered a survivor because my teammates had tags, I couldn't help but want to finish with a  tag of my own.  So when I noticed that the zombie facing me had a tag between his teeth, I grinned.  He grinned back when he saw what I was thinking, and I lunged at him.  He swerved, but I was determined not to be thwarted again.  I tackled him, got him on the ground, and literally ripped the tag from his teeth.  I was more proud of that tag than anything else, teeth marks and all.  We finally crossed the finish line as survivors.  The team we adopted made it through alive as well.  It was such a fun-filled day, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.

     We did lose one along the way...
RIP J's shoes June 2008-April 2013
     But we managed to survive...

Or did we?
Coming soon: How to Survive a Zombie Attack, the video.

*If anyone is interested, here is the link to the Zombie Run.  Proceeds benefit the Smile Train, which helps children with cleft pallets get corrective surgery.*

Thursday, April 4, 2013

You can't say "Uterus" at the table!

     As most of you know, I'm finishing up my last few prerequisites and will be applying to the Nursing program in the Fall.  Since August most of my focus has been on my science courses: Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology I and II mainly.  This means a lot of at-home studying.  After the first week of attempting to hide the diagrams in my Anatomy book from my then 3-year-old, I eventually gave up and let her look.  Then I realized how much of a teaching opportunity it was, considering she's actually showing interest in the human body.  In just a few short weeks I went from slamming the book closed anytime I heard her footsteps, to openly explaining different body systems to her.  Since this practice has become second nature, I've found myself taking every opportunity to educate her.  So it was nothing to me at the dinner table tonight when she started a certain conversation about babies to correct her on a certain point.  She asked me about when she was a baby in my belly, and I responded, "Well, actually you weren't in my belly, you were in my uterus."

     I swear my husband almost spit his chicken across the table.  After a few sputters and coughs, he gasped out, "Baby!  Don't say uterus at the table!"

     I just laughed and explained that I wanted her to learn the facts and learn them from me.  J agreed, but I did notice he made himself busy cleaning up the dinner dishes when I pulled out the actual Anatomy book and started showing Monkey the diagrams of the different stages of fetal growth and labor.  Perhaps it's a bit unorthodox, but she soaks it all up like a little sponge.  Hopefully it'll pay off when I have a doctor for a daughter.  Or just as long as I don't end up having to pay for therapy for warping her.

     Now if only I could get her as excited about helping me make dinner as she is about learning A&P with me.  Oh well.  Honestly I sort of relieved that she's not that into joining me in the kitchen.  It's become my sanity, my quiet place now that school is picking up as everyone's racing toward finals.  Plus with J home I've been neglecting my sewing room, and my room has been taken over by his combat boots and miscellaneous gear.  It helps that I suddenly have more motivation to cook.  I found a few cookbooks my grandmother in Florida had sent me a while back.  These were books I had been excited about when I got them, but I then discovered Pinterest, and they got shoved into a cabinet.  I'm glad I unearthed them recently, because I found this awesome recipe from the Quick from Scratch: Pasta cookbook.

Fusilli with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan Cream

2 TBS butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 cups (2-14 oz cans) canned, drained artichoke hearts, rinsed and cut into quarters
3/4 lb Fusilli (I substituted rotini)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBS chopped parsley

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderately low heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Stir in the cream, salt, pepper and artichoke hearts.  Cook until just heated through, about 3 minutes.  In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rotini until just done, about 13 minutes.  Drain the pasta and toss with the cream sauce, Parmesan, and parsley.

This was a really good side to this Marinated Pork Tenderloin. Or you could make it a Meatless Monday Meal.

Enjoy :-)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Birthday, Monkey!

     Okay so I'm a slacker.  I was supposed to post this on Monkey's birthday, but then my computer died.  Thankfully my awesome brother-in-law is a computer genius, and he revived my sweet Mac.  He also changed my hard drive icon to a zombie in honor of it's reanimation.  Last Monday was my daughter's 4th birthday, and I am amazed at how quickly the time is flying by.  She will be starting school in a little over a year, and I don't know what I'm going to do with myself.  I get teary eyed at the thought of her in a cute little school uniform with her backpack on her back.  I'm probably going to be one of those moms who cries the first day of school.  Scratch that "probably", I cried just this weekend at the sight of her wearing a bit of eyeshadow for the first time.  My husband thinks it's funny to bring up all the ways she'll grow in the coming years, just to see if he can get me to go all weepy again.  Jerk!

     Thankfully, she's not too big for themed parties yet, because I get a kick out of planning them for her.  Last Saturday we celebrated her birthday with a Princess Party, and she had a blast.  Of course I want to share some of the goodies.  First, the invites.  I had my awesome sister take a few shots of Monkey at the local park back home, and then I used Shutterfly to upload them and turn them into cute invitations. I can't figure out how to load the link to the finished project, but here's the picture she took.

Getting ready for the party

     I also had fun thinking of princess-themed snacks this year, and of course Pinterest helped a ton.  First and foremost, there's the cake:

     It may not be professional-looking, but I'm proud of it.  I found a cool tutorial on how to use a coloring sheet to create a chocolate mold of whatever image you want, and I used it to make each of the princesses you see on the top of the cake.  Monkey enjoyed eating the rejects.

Next I made Snow White's Caramel Apples, and although they tasted great they were not photogenic.  They were simple and yummy, though, so here's what you'll need:

1 (14 oz) package caramel
2 TBS milk
Granny Smith apples, sliced in half and cored

Pour caramel and milk into a medium sized bowl, melt in the microwave for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave for another minute.  Stir and pour into cored apples.  Let set, then slice and serve.

     Next, representing my favorite princess, I made Belle's Roses:

You'll need:
White chocolate
pink food coloring
red icing
kabob or lollipop sticks

Wash strawberries, and skewer them onto the kabob/lollipop sticks.  Melt the white chocolate in the microwave according to package directions, add a few drops of pink food coloring.  Dip strawberries into chocolate, covering up to the white portion, and let set.  Once the chocolate is set, using the red icing, draw outlines of the roses onto the layer of chocolate.  Let set then serve.

   Representing Cinderella, we had Fairy Godmother's Magic Wands:
You'll need:
White chocolate
Pretzel rods

Melt white chocolate in microwave according to package directions.  Dip pretzels in chocolate.  Decorate with sprinkles and let dry.

   We even had an assortment of sugar cookies shaped into Enchanted Castles, Tiaras, and Cinderella's Glass Slippers.  These were topped with an almond powdered sugar icing dyed the various pastel colors.

For drink, we enjoyed refreshing Princess Punch and my homemade sweet tea:

For the punch you'll need:
2 qrts pink lemonade
2 qrts rasberry sherbet
2 L lemon-lime soda

Add all ingredients to bowl and serve.

For the Sweet Tea:
   Clip 3 large Community tea bags (or 6 small bags) to the side of a gallon-sized pitcher.  Boil water and add to the pitcher until the pitcher is nearly full.  Let it steep for about an hour.  Remove and discard bags.  Add 3 cups of sugar.  Stir and enjoy :-)

Even our chips and dip and various trays had a nod to a certain princess movie.
"Chip"s and Dip

"Tiana's Tempting Trays"

Ariel's "Dinglehoppers"

     All-in-all it was a very good party, and of course Monkey racked up on gifts.

     I'm thinking I'll be going through her toy box and purging next time she's not looking.  Now it's time to go clean out my Birthday Party board on Pinterest until Monkey picks the theme for next year.

*Thank you to my awesome sister for taking the pictures and helping set everything up for the party!*