Where Did All My Productivity Go?

Oh wait, it’s summer vacation. Summer vacation means my productivity level has taken a bit of a vacation, too, at least when it comes to my online presence. I’ve had plenty to keep me busy, though. Summer vacation means Big Bit is back in the fold at home, so I have all three home to take care of and entertain. All day. Every day. It’s fun getting to do things together as a family, such as zoo trips and all that, but it is harder to get things done around the house with three little ones under foot. And even harder to do some of the stuff that is just for me. Especially blogging, since that requires a certain level of energy in order to maintain coherent posts and such. After a day of managing the house and taking care of the girls, I find it hard to muster the energy to do anything other than sit down and veg for a bit before calling it a night. Part of me hates to admit it, but when school starts up here in a few weeks, I will probably be one of those moms doing a little happy dance in the parking lot after drop-off.

So what have we been up to?

The garden survived those last freezes and is blooming, though not as well as last year. My guess is the late freezes and such messed with the growing season. The moss roses are still my troopers. Of all my plants, they seem to have handled everything the best. The bluebonnets have barely bloomed at all, and this late in the season I doubt they will do much more. The bulbs don’t seem to have handled the stresses of our weather this year as well, either. They aren’t dead and are still growing, but neither the gladiolus nor dahlia has bloomed, yet. I’m not holding out much hope for the gladiolus, however I see some possible budding on the dahlia, so maybe I’ll still have some luck with that. If it does bloom, I’ll take some pictures, since it should be a pretty one.

We also took some time for a family “vacation.” First one in nearly two years (such is military life). We went back to visit family and let everyone meet Niblet, since most of the family hadn’t been able to meet her in person before. I’m guessing you noticed I put vacation in quotes. I’m not saying the trip wasn’t enjoyable, because it was. It’s just that traveling with three small children, isn’t much of a vacation for mom and dad. Luckily, since we haven’t taken any sort of time off like this in so long, my husband has enough leave accrued so now that we’re back home from our journey, we get to take a “stay-cation,” which is proving to be much more relaxing. He’s been spoiling me by taking point on the kiddos and letting me sleep in the past few mornings. It’s so decadent to sleep past 8am!

After this though, it’s back to the routine. Hubs will be back to work and it will be time to get ready for back to school. I’m not mad at that, though. It’s nice to have a routine and a specific set of to-do’s for any given day. Anyway, maybe when the routine comes back, my productivity will come with it!

OMG She’s Crafting! – Teacher Thank You Tote Bag

"Thank Your For Helping Me Grow" Tote Bags

I know. I’ve been writing this blog for more than a year and I am finally getting around to posting my first craft project. I’ll say it flat out: I do not consider myself a craft person. I mean, like … Continue reading

In Our Garden: Really!?!

Just when I think it’s spring and I’m going to be able to forget about the cold for a few months, Mother Nature decides to throw one more storm my way. I spent Mother’s Day watching the snow fall. A good chunk of yesterday, too. Because that’s what I want in May. Snow and having to wear flannel pajamas even with the heater running. IN MAY! I’m just a tad miffed.

Anyway, I think the seedlings came through it alright, but I don’t know for sure. The gladiolus seem to be perking along in their crock pot-made-planter and I have some itty, bitty sprouts in the other planters, but I’m going to give it a few days before I declare them all safe. Ahead of the storm coming in, I wrapped our planters in garbage bags to keep the frost off them and hopefully provide a little bit of insulation. The Bits were rather confused until I explained that it was the closest thing to wrapping our plants in a blanket that I could offer. Big Bit liked the idea of her flowers being kept cozy in the snow. The storm passed yesterday afternoon, and while it’s still a bit nippy, I took the bags off the planters this morning so the seedlings that did make it through can get some sun. Fortunately, it’s still early enough in the season that if we suffered any massive casualties I can go buy some more seed packets and hopefully still have some pretty flowers. Fingers crossed.

Well, a happy Mother's Day to you, too.

Well, a happy Mother’s Day to you, too.

In Our Garden: Finally! (And a Cheeky Squirrel)

This past weekend the Bits and I were finally able to get our garden going. Even though the temperatures are still dipping a bit at night, we shouldn’t have anymore snow coming in to kill any seedlings. Hopefully, since we’re planting a bit earlier than last year, our bluebonnets will do a bit better this time around. As per Big Bit’s request we aren’t growing any vegetables this year, only flowers. We have bluebonnets and moss roses in the large containers and just moss roses in the smaller ones that housed my herb garden last year. The moss roses did so well and looked so pretty last year, so I wanted to have more this year. Also, I wasn’t able to find good looking herbs to replant this year and I still have quite a bit of what I was able to dry last year, so I needed to fill those planters with something else anyway. However, I do have some green onion going in some shot glasses that I salvaged from dinner a few nights ago. They seem pretty happy and in another few days I’ll transplant them into some small pots so they can sit out on the patio while the weather is nice. Last year’s green onion produced almost enough to get us through the winter without buying more from the market. I’m excited to see how much I’ll be able to get out of two.

This year’s “experiment” is bulb flowers. I have a few larger pots that I’m using to try my hand with some gladiolus and a dahlia. If they bloom, it should be very pretty and give a little more pop to our plantings. Hopefully they prove as hearty as advertised.

And now on a mostly unrelated note, I have become convinced that the squirrels out here are possessed, or, at the very least, slightly evil. The morning after we had gotten our seeds planted in our garden, I wake up to find a squirrel digging thru our freshly seeded planters. Big Bit declared him to be a “cheeky squirrel” (we’re fans of a certain British cartoon pig in this house), and while nothing seemed to be too badly disturbed, I did go out and buy some extra seed packets to plant as insurance. If it had just been that, I wouldn’t think anything more of the squirrels here except that they are annoying little pests, as is normal. However later that day, the girls and I came home from some errands and as I was unloading them from the car, I noticed little green shavings on the ground. As I was coming back out to grab another one of the girls (unloading a car when all three kids are in carseats is a multistep process), I noticed there was a hole about 4 inches wide in the lid of my neighbor’s trashcan and there was a little squirrel head peeking out at me. The thing had chewed thru the lid of the trashcan! It didn’t care that I was right there, it just stared back. I am inclined to believe that this was the same squirrelly offender who had been in out planters earlier that morning. He had a cheeky look about him. The final straw is that he seems to believe he he resides here now since the past two mornings that I have been getting Big Bit out the door for school, there he has been on that trashcan, calm as you please, giving me the stare down as I go about my business. Yesterday morning he was even chewing on a french fry he’d found (probably in the trashcan) with a look on his little squirrelly face that seemed to say, “Yes, I’m here. What of it?” Cheeky little squirrel.

Just Let Me Wipe Your Nose!

Baby girl, I know you aren’t feeling your best. I know you aren’t in the greatest of moods. I know the fact that right now you have to choose between breathing and being able to suck your fingers enrages you, but please just let me wipe your nose! There is snot running down your face and all over your onesie. I promise, if you let me do it, you’ll feel better. It may even help you breathe. Then you can suck your fingers a little bit before your nose stuffs up and you once again become a ball of frustrated baby rage.

Please don’t arch your back and turn your head away every time I get near your nose with the wet wipe. I will wipe your nose. It is going to happen. You’re just prolonging the excruciating experience and delaying the inevitable. This ain’t Mama’s first rodeo. I had to do this to your older sisters, too. Mama always triumphed in the end.

Poor baby girl. I need to do the saline spray. It will help get the snot out of your nose. You hate this more than having your nose wiped, I know. Baby, despite your screams of protest, I can assure you this does not qualify as torture. Just like with the wipes, please, don’t keep turning your head away. See, I just squirted you in the eye.

Great, now you’re even more pissed.

I have to wipe your nose again. The saline spray finally went up your nose where it is supposed to go and now more snot is running down your face. Just one last wipe. Let me get that booger stuck on your nose.  Don’t give me that look. This is not the single most painful betrayal in your life, I just wiped your nose. How about a nice nurse and some cuddles to sweeten your disposition. Maybe you’ll even drift off for a nap. And wake up with a stuffy nose and snot running down your face. And we’ll do this all over again.

The day you learn to blow your own nose will be a wonderful, glorious day.

New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Secret Ingredient Meatloaf

I am a big fan of meatloaf. For me, it’s one of those ultimate comfort foods. It’s a big, meaty, “I love you,” for your stomach. Throw in some mashed potatoes and some bread or rolls and I’m set. Also highly in meatloaf’s favor is that it is so easy to make. A little bit of prep work and getting your hands dirty (I firmly believe true meatloaf should be mixed by hand), some time in the oven, and a wonderful dinner is ready to go.

I stumbled across this recipe a while back using stuffing mix and I gave it a try. I definitely liked the concept, and the first attempt went fairly well, but it wasn’t quite right for me. There just seemed to be something missing, and the loaf itself was a little dry. I solved that problem with my leftovers by putting applesauce over the top, which tasted quite nice, leading me to think, “Aha! Next time I’ll add some applesauce to the meatloaf itself!” I did, and I am very pleased with the result. I guess my version has two secret ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 box of stuffing mix (I used sage because I like the extra herb flavor. The recipe I adapted this from used chicken.)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

Mix everything together and put it in a loaf pan (I used an 8×4). Cook in an oven set at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much meat you used. Enjoy! (Really, that’s it!)

Adapted from Dancing Thru the Minefield

Secret Ingredient Meatloaf

Tweaks and Overall Review

Aside from using a different flavor of stuffing mix, the main thing I did was add the applesauce to the recipe, and I have to say I really think it makes this dish shine. The meatloaf stays nice and moist, and there is a slight sweetness from the applesauce which I think goes quite well with the herb flavors from the stuffing mix. I really enjoyed it, as did some friends who joined us for dinner. Since the prep time is minimal, probably less than 5 minutes, this is a perfect recipe for a busy night.

In Our Garden: Still Waiting

Ugh! I’ve been wanting to get our garden going the past couple of weekends but the weather here just won’t cooperate! We’ll have a couple of really lovely days, but then get hit by a snow storm which dumps a few inches on us. We’re getting hit today, and then are expected to get another later in the week. April is really starting to irritate me weather-wise. It’s making it rather hard to organize my closet when I have to have my winter clothes and my spring/summer clothes all out at once. Make up your mind, weather! I’m getting the impression that spring out here is really a lie and that all it is, is summer and winter duking it out for a month before winter finally gives up its hold and things are blisteringly hot for the next 5 months. Anyway, I’m hoping that this snow storm coming up later this week is the last hurrah and that we can get going on our garden this weekend. I have everything planned out, I just need the weather to hold up so that Big Bit and I can plant things and not be worried a freeze will come along and kill everything a week later. There seems to be something appropriate about planting our garden over Easter weekend, anyway. Fingers crossed.

However, not having the garden to work on has meant there has been some more time for puttering around in the kitchen. I’ve been playing around with a few new recipes that I’m hoping to have up in the coming days. There are a couple of things I want to tweak, but then they will be ready to go, so keep your eyes out.

I Promise I Haven’t Dropped Completely Off the Face of the Earth

Wow. I hadn’t realized it had been so long since my last post. I wish I could tell you I’ve been busy doing something interesting and exciting, but I can’t. I’ve been busy, but not with anything more than the normal tasks of day to day life. Honestly (and rather unfortunately), the most eventful part of the last month has been the family taking turns being sick with a stomach virus for a week. Note: Being woken up by a child covered in their own vomit is NOT my preferred alarm clock. Especially when it happens twice in one week, involving two different children. Yeah. The fact that THAT was the event of the past month should tell you something. Like I said, it’s not even that there was anything particular going on or anything, things were just busy. There wasn’t much to write about, and I haven’t even been that inspired to try new Pinterest recipes.

Hopefully though, that’s all about to change. Now that it’s spring, or at least will be once the weather out here makes up its mind, we’ll be able to replant our garden and other such activities. Big Bit has said she only wants flowers this year, so we’ll have our bluebonnets and moss roses, and maybe some other varieties in some of the smaller flower pots. I’ll probably restart my herb garden, if only to grow a nice crop of green onion for me to freeze.I’m also looking forward to the availability of spring and summer produce, because that means delicious things to cook and eat. So yes, I know I went MIA for a bit, but I’m looking forward to getting back in my blogging groove and posting some fun things in the next few weeks. In regards to a new Pinterest recipe: What would you like to see me try? A main dish, something baked, a straight-up dessert? Let me know if you have any suggestions.

The Great Bed Swap (Or How My Husband Proved I Drive a Tank)

We’re in the midst of a rather big transition here. We’re preparing to move the Niblet out of our room and into a crib in a room she will be sharing with Little Bit. This move means obviously Little Bit can’t sleep in the crib anymore. Since we didn’t want Little Bit to be moved out of the crib and it immediately have a new occupant, we’ve initiated the switch prior to Niblet moving. Here’s the big swap: Big Bit was moved out of her toddler bed and into a standard double, her “grown up, big girl bed.” She tends to splay out when she sleeps, so she takes up more space than one would think possible, making a double a rather good size for her. Little Bit has thus inherited the toddler bed. To make it exciting and fun, I found her a new sheet set, just for her, with owls on it. Owls are her favorite animal, so she was beyond happy when she saw her new bed. This means the crib is empty and once we are sure that Niblet is on a schedule conducive to going to bed and waking up around the same time as Little Bit, we’ll be good to go. The main reason we’ve been delaying on this is that Niblet tends to still be ready for bed about an hour before Little Bit, and every so often is waking up for a 2 or 3am feed. Not exactly an ideal situation for trying to get Little Bit to keep to her sleep schedule. Hopefully though, we’ll be ready to finish the switch in the next few weeks since I’m currently working on shifting Niblet’s bedtime schedule.

So how does this prove I drive a tank? Well we needed a double mattress for Big Bit’s new bed. We had the frame sitting in our garage (it was mine back in my college days), but had gotten rid of the original mattress years ago. I sent my husband to go check out the local mattress store since I had seen they were having a sale. He comes home and asks me how soon I want the mattress delivered, and whether that afternoon was acceptable. I told him, of course, I just needed to know what time the store was delivering so I could make sure and have the space cleared out in Big Bit’s room. He then laughs and tells me to come outside, at which point he shows me the mattress and box spring sitting in our car. Not tied on top, INSIDE. Now this did involve the folding of seats and some creative tetrising of car seats on my husband’s part, but yes, he managed to fit a standard double mattress and box spring in our car and get the trunk fully down and secured. And that is how he proved I drive a tank.