Friday, November 16, 2012

Crockpot Bean Soup

You know those little recipe books you get at the grocery check out?
I got a great one a few years back called "Taste of Home's: 44 Meals Under $10".
 It's got some surprisingly good and easy recipes in it. 
This is one of our favorites:

Crockpot Bean Soup
3 cups chopped parsnips (optional)
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 cups dried great northern beans
5 cups water
1-1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks or ham shanks
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce (I like Tabasco)

1. In a 5-qt. slow cooker, place the parsnips, carrots, and onion. Top with beans. Add water, ham, garlic, salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce. Cover and cook on high for 6-7 hours or until beans are tender.

2. Remove meat and bones when cool enough to handle. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces and return to the slow cooker.

3. If you would like it a bit thicker: in a small bowl, mix 1 Tbsp. cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water. Stir into soup; heat through.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"I'm pretty sure this happened over night." Part One: GABE

So, we've been living in this little apartment since June. We're feeling rather cramped. Especially at night when all six of us are here. I swear my kids are ALL legs. Man, there's just no room to move! We were so naive to think our house would be done by the end of November... anyway, it's an adventure, right?

At night when everyone is restless and I don't know what ... we clear out a space in the middle of the living room and turn on some dance music. My dear friend, Sharon, made me the BEST CDs! At least I think so... my kids are asking for Oingo Boingo and Big Audio Dynamite.  I'm feeling rather proud of myself as a parent right now! It's fun to dance around with them and play; the kids need to move and wiggle. I think I do too.

We've had some impromptu dance lessons as well. Last Friday, Zeke was sick. I mean really sick. The doctor said he was getting pneumonia -- yeah, so he laid on the couch while we danced. (He's feeling much better now, by the way.) A slow song came on. I think it was "Never Tear Us Apart" from INXS (oh, the memories!)

Do you ever just REALLY want to slow dance??? Well, I do, and my sweetie was laid up on the couch. I grabbed Gabe. The girls kept giggling and staring as I tried to teach him how to slow dance. I cannot fully explain to you how totally BIZARRE it was to look UP into the eyes of my 14 year old son. (I'm nearly 5'7" already!)

Anyway, I tried to show him how I think it's cool/more romantic/proper/whatever when a guy puts one hand on your waist and "holds your other hand up like this". Are you picturing it? It reminds me of Dirty Dancing, "...spaghetti arms! would you give me some tension, please?" (No, I won't show my kids that movie, but man, I loved it when I was younger.)

So it was one of those moments I will always remember, cheesy I know, but Gabe wasn't too bugged. In fact, he seemed pretty eager to figure out this slow dance thing. Little did I know, it was perfect timing. The very next night, Gabe was at a friend's house and called me to ask if he could go to a Stake Dance with said friend's cousin's Dad. I said sure??? (Gabe has NEVER wanted to go to a Stake Dance before now.) This was around 9pm.

11pm. The door opens. In walks Gabe and his friend, Zach. They were laughing and stumbling about in the way only 14 year old boys can, simultaneously creating a wake of noise and candy wrappers as they crossed the room.

"So how was the dance?" I asked. Immediately, they launched into a VERY animated explanation of learning how to do the Electric Slide and the Macarena. Then, without any reservations whatsoever, they SHOWED us how to do the line dance to "Cotton Eye Joe". Remember, we're in a 1400 sq. ft. apartment with 3 other kids! I laughed SO hard I thought I would burst. It was priceless.

And... then (here it comes) we asked them if they got to slow dance with any girls. They both grinned and said sheepishly, "Yeah, we did." (I could swear there were little heart bubbles swirling and popping around their heads.)

Gabe got real excited and said, "MOM! Oh wow, by the way, thanks for showing me how to hold their hand up and put one hand on their waist! The girls said that was really cool! "

To all of the girls from some random Stake Dance in Sky View... "You're welcome." Oh, if ever I could be a fly on a wall...

I tried to choke down the lump in my throat. You know, maybe this Mom thing has its perks too. He was so excited! I thought, "Oh, my baby boy is slow dancing with girls!!"

Now as I type this, reality sets in and the lump I remember is replaced by a sick butterfly-type feeling in the pit of my stomach, "My baby boy is slow dancing with girls???????"

Oh dang.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ramble On

For the record, I love Led Zeppelin. Not in the way you might think. I remember dragging main with my friend and her boyfriend (Yes, I was the lame 3rd wheel!) and we listened to "Stairway to Heaven" over and over and over and over.... no, I'm thinking about Black Dog, Kashmir, Misty Mountain Hop, Immigrant Song, and Ramble On (just popped into my head when I was trying to come up with a title for this post).

I'm kinda bummed at my lack of blogging lately. From this moment henceforth, I intend to be exceedingly serious about blogging. Well, for a moment at least. There's so much going on. TOO MUCH.  My blog has been left to fend for itself.

We've all been sick the last few days. Fever. Ache. Sore Throat. Cough. What's that commercial about NyQuil? the something something so-you-can-rest medicine. Well, anyway, I can't take NyQuil, I pretty much do the opposite of rest. I have ultra-vivid/bizarre dreams all night long, but I'm halfway between awake and asleep, so yeah. Not sure where I was going with that...

Today, I think we're somewhat on the mend thankfully. I took some of my kids to school and I was able to go visit with some friends this morning. We had a good visit about yesterday's election and some really yummy muffins. Friends and family make me so happy. :) Some of my best friends are really more like family and some of my family are my best friends. For the record, thanks for caring about me. Life is good. Crazy, but good.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot. I've been reading a lot.

Two books in particular have me thinking:

1. "Pretending to be Normal" by Liane Holliday Willey
2. "The Book of Mormon Girl" by Joanna Brooks

These books have NOTHING in common other than the fact they were both written by women.
I'm very choosy about the books I read. I don't have a lot of "free" time and I really feel like "you are what you read...." (Sorry, my head's still a bit fuzzy and I just cannot seem to stop quoting movies.... wait, I do it all the time.)

I'm glad I read both of them. For very different reasons. Both of these books are memoirs -- I could relate so well with the author in book #1, but not very much at all with the author in book #2. However, we are all women. I respect them and their courage to tell their story; to share their honest opinions and most personal experiences. Somehow, it makes me want to be a better person and reach out to others more; to love everyone regardless of our differences.

It's funny how books come into my life at the right time.

There's a lot more I want to say, but alas, I randomly started writing this post at a most dangerous time: 4pm on a Wednesday. I should be making dinner and helping with homework.

Okay.... you've been spared for now.

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