Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Ah, New Year's Eve. It always holds so much anticipation and excitement. What will the night entail? What does the new year have in store for me?

When I was younger (aka didn't have a child), it was definitely more about what the night would entail, not what the new year would bring.

Not to say there is anything wrong with that. I had plenty of fun with those kinds of New Years Eves. (and yes, sometimes TOO much fun.) I'm just saying my perspective has changed somewhat.

Now instead of worrying about what to wear, where I am going to go and how I am going to get home, I worry about staying awake until midnight.

I know, pathetic, right?

Oh well, c'est la vie. Mais, J'adore ma vie.  (pardon my french (literally), it's been a while)

It's true. I do. I love my life.

And spending New Year's Eve at home, in my pj's, eating crab legs and drinking ginger ale (the closest thing we have to bubbly) sounds magnifique.

So whether you are hosting a magnificent NYE party like my SIL is or staying home like we are, I hope it's wonderful and exciting. (and yes, flannel pants are exciting!)

And if you spend the first day of the brand spanking new year moaning on your couch in agony instead of tackling your new years resolutions head on, don't worry. There's always tomorrow.

And make sure to eat something. The greasier the better.

Wishing you the very best in 2010!



and p.s. Can you tell that two of my resolutions for 2010 are to brush up on my French and use the word magnificent daily?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm on a roll!

I won another giveaway!

I won a 30 day supply of Evora Plus Probiotic Mints from Nicole over at Bless Their Hearts Mom!

Now I know this is not as exciting as winning a computer, but still. I won! Again!

Seriously, I never win anything. Not even Tic Tac Toe. Or thumb wars. Or staring contests. I am just not a winner.

Ok, that doesn't sound right. But you know what I mean.

Well, now I can say I am a winner. Sweet!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Computer Update

I heard back from MckMama, she said that I should be contacted by HP shortly. Yay!

I guess I need to start thinking about where I will set it up....and if I want to hand over my laptop to Chris (who desperately needs a new one) or hold on to it.  I guess I don't need two computers....we'll see.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Um...

  Oh my goodness. Oh my GOODNESS. OH MY GOODNESS!

I won a computer on MckMama's blog. And not just any computer...an HP Touchsmart 600 computer.

Me. ME! The one who never wins anything. I won a freaking computer!! AAAAH!

Here I was, basking in the glow of after Christmas joy. Enjoying the heart warming company of my family. Thinking about how truly blessed I am and have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. Getting ready to enjoy a sit in the outdoor living room my brother in law and sisters in law constructed before sitting down to a delicious fondue dinner.

And I thought, hey, I am going to check my email quick.

Wow, am I glad I did! I had 7 messages from comments on my blog. I thought that was kind of strange since the posts people were commenting on were almost a week old. So I opened the first one and it said

"Lindsay, I'll email you, too, but wanted to let you know that you won the HP TouchSmart computer!!! Please email me asap at the contact email on my blog;)

Love,

MckMama"


And I am pretty sure my heart stopped for a beat or two. Or three. I had to read it again and then again before I could even begin to comprehend what I was reading.  I managed to squeak out "I just won a computer!" and my whole family went bananas! I will be honest, my husband was (and maybe still is?) a bit skeptical.

Unbelievable. Completely and utterly unbelievable. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking but I managed to email MckMama with my contact info. I haven't heard back from her yet, but have faith that I will soon.

 So thank you. Thank you MckMama for sharing this amazing giveaway with us. And thank you to all of the people who have taken the time to look at my humble little blog and leave me well wishes and kind words.

Thank you!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aebleskeebies


 
or whatever they are called.

Chris' family introduced me to "aebleskivers" last Christmas. I have to say, I was quite shocked that it took them 5 years to introduce the doughy goodness to me.

Aebleskivers are little round filled pancakes. You make them in an aebleskiver pan like this:



You fill each well of the pan with batter and filling and let it cook much like a pancake. When the batter starts to bubble, you very carefully flip the half cooked dough ball over. In our house this involves a fork and a chopstick.

I *think* they are traditionally filled with apples or some sort of fruit filling, but we used a cinnamon sugar filling that is heavenly.  Adam and Kelsey introduced us to the recipe last Christmas and we have made them several times since, this morning included. I can see Aebleskeebies becoming a Christmas breakfast tradition in our house. Olive LOVED them. She would scarf one down and with her mouth still full say "more? more?"

The recipes calls for a cream cheese frosting, but honestly, we think that makes them too sweet. They were plenty sweet without it. But, to each their own!


Cinnamon Filled Aebleskivers
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma.com)

Ingredients:

For the cinnamon filling:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes,
      at room temperature (we nuked it until very soft)

For the cream cheese frosting: (not necessary in our opinion)

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. milk

For the pancakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking
To make the cinnamon filling:
Stir together the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and, using the back of a spoon, mash the butter into the flour mixture until all of it is absorbed into the butter, forming a paste. Set aside.

To make the cream cheese frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar, reduce the speed to low and beat until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add 3 Tbs. of the milk and beat until combined, about 1 minute. The frosting should be thick but still pourable; add more milk if needed to thin it. Transfer the frosting to a small bowl; set aside.

To make the pancakes:
 In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk and the 4 Tbs. melted butter. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.

Put 1/8 tsp. melted butter in each well of a filled-pancake pan (or spray with cooking spray). Set over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 Tbs. batter into each well. Spoon 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon filling into the center of each pancake and top with 1 Tbs. batter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, about 3 minutes. Using 2 skewers, flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling.

Drizzle the pancakes with the frosting and serve immediately. Makes 35 to 40. (They freeze well!)

Enjoy!


(images from Williams-Sonoma.com)

What a hoot.

I may or may not have a slight obsession with owls. There is something about them that melts my heart and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And don't we all need more warm and fuzzy in our lives?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Santa

"Santa" is the word of the day around here.

Actually more like word of the month.

Ever since we visited Santa and Dolly Llama at the zoo, "Santa" has been her word of choice.

Olive loves Santa. But apparently she is trying to get him in trouble. She likes to blame Santa for any wrong doing or incidents that happen. Like, for instance, this morning. Olive may or may not have been passing gas, which we refer to as tooting.  After said tooting incident, I asked her "Olive what do you say after you toot?". Her usual response is "Toot!" and a giggle. Well today, it was

"Santa!"

Maybe that's why he's always so smiley....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

(I know, I've actually been quite wordy today. please forgive me.)


Re-gifting

This year for Christmas, almost all of Olive's gifts from us will be re-gifts.

No, we will not be giving her creepy snowglobes, moldy fruitcake or a 2006 calendar. What i mean is that we are giving her gifts that have been loved by someone else.

*gasp* "You're giving your child USED gifts for Christmas?!"

Yes. For several reasons.
1) She's 18 months old. She doesn't know the difference.
2) Why buy new when slightly used will do? :)
3) Cost savings
4) Not only will your wallet thank you, but Mother Earth will too.

We are very fortunate to have family and friends with older children who have out grown a lot of their belongings. So we have several bags of toys, games, books, puzzles and clothes that are just waiting, no, begging, for someone to love them again.  A quick trip through the dishwasher, washer or soapy water and voila! New stuff!

I realize not everyone is as fortunate as we are in the hand-me down department. But we have also had great success shopping at consignment stores, thrift stores and craigslist. I *heart* craigslist. I take great pride in my craigslist finds (yes, I am a dork). There are craigslist sites for most major cities in the U.S. (and international cities, if you are in need of that!)  Just go to craigslist.org and take a look.

Another option is buying used goods through on-line retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For a lot of their products there is a "used" option. Products are then listed in Excellent, Like New, Great, Good, etc condition. It is quite shocking the difference in price you will see. For example I bought a used hardcover book from Amazon a few months ago for $12, less than half the retail price. It arrived and it appeared to be brand new, never been read.

Olive will not know the difference come Christmas morning. She will not open the Little People Town Square set that was passed down from her cousins and say


"Ugh, this is USED! Just look at that tooth mark on the tow truck driver's hat!". (and if she does, well, to be honest, I would be quite impressed. I mean, that would be a HUGE jump in her cognitive and conversation skills!)

And last but certainly not least (in my book anyway), re-gifting makes the world a happier place. Because it is never too early to teach about Reducing, Reusing and Recycling. By re-gifting we are reducing the amount of waste heading to the landfill and reusing items that are still usable. And by taking good care of our belongings, we can then pass them along to someone else when we are finished with them. Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Moral of the story, don't be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to giving gifts. It's not about the money you spend (or don't spend), it's the thought behind the gift that counts.

Advent Calendars

I love advent calendars. The excitement and anticipation of counting down to Christmas makes the kid in me squeal with joy. Ok, the adult in me too.

I have a wooden Santa advent calendar that hangs in our entry way. It has stars with numbers that you change each day to the correct number. I also bought a classic cardboard advent calendar with doors that open to reveal a little piece of chocolate.  This is what I remember from my childhood. Except now I don't have to fight my brother for the chocolate....just my husband. :)

I also have an Olive The Other Reindeer pop-up advent calendar


that I am saving for a few more years until our daughter, Olive, will enjoy/understand it more. I bought it on mega clearance while I was pregnant and was suddenly feeling like we would have a girl and her name would be Olive. (Apparently advent calendars are also psychic in my world)

This holiday season I am feeling very crafty. I don't know if it's because I am a mom or because I miss being creative and crafty with my students (I was a preschool teacher and nanny in my former life) or because we are being more um, thrifty? frugal? cheap?, these days. Whatever the reason I set out at the beginning of December to find some DIY advent projects. And wow, did I find some!

Most include buying lots of supplies, a sewing machine, knowing how to work said sewing machine and voila! You have a beautiful advent calendar! That's not really my cup of tea. At least not this year. We'll see if Santa brings me a sewing machine and lessons. Maybe next year I'll be sewing up something spectactular. Or the next. Or never.

I did find several DIY options that only require paper and a printer. Here are a few that I like adore:

Sticky Note Advent Calendar
















(image courtesy of giverslog.com)


















(image courtesy of mibostudio.co.uk)


And then there is this one:

















(image courtesy of Bodie and Fou)

Isn't that a great idea? I found it here and while it's not free, I think you could easily make it yourself using take out container type boxes found at a craft store.

So don't feel bad if you haven't already started an advent calendar! Whip one of these bad boys up and get to it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blogger's block

So much to write and I just can't seem to put it into words.  Or the right words anyway.

I blame the lack of snow. It's throwing off my equilibrium. Or something.

And the fact that it is already December 3rd. Wasn't it June like, yesterday? Seriously, Time? SLOW. DOWN.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks.

Whether we are ready for it or not, the holiday season is upon us. This Thursday is the kickoff event, Thanksgiving Day.

A day to gather with your nearest and dearest and eat. And for some, watch football. I have to say Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are no expectations other than to eat. And help with the dishes. It's great.

Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas. I love the lights, decorations, SNOW, music, cookies and presents. Well, I like giving presents. For whatever reason I get very nervous receiving/opening gifts. (Don't even get me started on bridal/baby showers. Eek!) But I digress...

Where were we? Thanksgiving. Love it. No pressure to do anything but eat. And drink. And be merry. And...what was that?

Oh yes, be thankful. I have so much to be thankful for, I don't know where to start.

I am thankful that I have a wonderful, amazing, loving husband and daughter. Who I love and cherish every day.
I am thankful that they both love me just for being me. That's not always easy to do. But they do. Every. day.
I am thankful for my loving parents. All four of them.
I am thankful for my loving father in law and mother in law. If only everyone were as lucky as I am to have such wonderful in-laws.
I am thankful for all of my siblings; W, L, J, A,K and E.
I am thankful for Mr. Tater-roo. His smile warms my heart. 
I am thankful for my pooch. He's a good boy.
I am thankful for all of my amazing friends. 
I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, food on my table and warm bed to sleep in at night. I wish everyone were so fortunate.
I am thankful for my health and the health of my family.
I am thankful my husband has a job.
I am thankful I am able to stay home with Olive.

The list goes on and on.

And for that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Once again, another delicious recipe from Annie's Eats. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I should test drive these Pumpkin Pie Bars. They are very interesting. Delicious, but interesting. They are definitely a pie bar. The bottom and topping is kind of like pie crust, the middle is smooth and creamy like pumpkin pie. So if you are not a fan of pumpkin pie, I am not sure these are for you. But I'll let you be the judge of that!

Pumpkin Pie Bars
(from Annie's Eats)

For the crust and topping:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup chopped pecans
(next time I will add some cinnamon)

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (Next time I will probably double this or add a healthy dose of cinnamon)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Butterscotch chips, for topping

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan.  Lightly grease the foil.  Combine the flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl and toss with a fork.  Add the pieces of butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the oats and chopped pecans.

Reserve 1 cup of the crust mixture and set aside.  Add the remaining crust mixture to the prepared baking pan and press onto the bottom of the pan in an even layer.  Bake the crust alone in the oven for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the filling.

To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until smooth and well combined.

Once the crust has been removed from the oven, pour the filling into the pan and smooth over the crust.  Sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture and butterscotch chips, as desired.  Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven* and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Slice and serve.

*A word to the wise; mine came out slightly....wobbly. I kept putting them back in to bake more, but they never "set". BUT once they cooled, they were perfect. Just know that they aren't going to be the texture of a traditional bar, but more like pumpkin pie.

Enjoy!

"Napping"

Olive is "napping". Aka pretend napping. It's one of her favorite things to do in the afternoon. It goes a little something like this.

Olive is tired. Yawning, rubbing her eyes, laying down in random places, maybe just a bit cranky. So I suggest a nap. Olive says good night to her toys and heads for the stairs. We change her diaper. She changes her doll's diaper. Or Cookie Monster's. Or her book's. (She's big into changing diapers right now). We read a story and sing a song or two. Cuddle and say "Good night! Love you! *smooch smooch smooch*". I lay her down and leave the room.

All is quiet.

Approximately 10-15 minutes later I hear, "Mama. Dada. Mama. Dada." This goes on for about 5 minutes and then she is quiet again. 10-15 minutes after that "Mama? Dada? Dada? Buh-bye! *smooch smooch smooch* Uv oo! (love you)" This pattern continues on for another 10 minutes or so. Quiet. Talking. Quiet. Talking. And usually just about the time I am ready to give up on nap and go get her, she falls asleep.

Today is no exception. But instead of saying "Mama. Dada." she is howling. She is howling for her puppers.

Let's hope he doesn't respond.

Fight For Preemies!

Every year, 20 million babies are born too soon, too small and very sick ― half a million of them in the United States. November 17 is when we fight.

November is Preemie Awareness Month. And today, the 17th is Fight For Preemies day.

As a preemie myself, I am so thankful for the medical care and attention my mom and I received almost 28 years ago. The world of NICU and preemie care has come a long way since then, but the fight is far from over. Please take a moment to check out the March Of Dime's and consider donating to help Fight for Preemies!

Fight For Preemies // Bloggers Unite

Posted using ShareThis

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Medela Freestyle Giveaway!

The Shopping Mama is giving away a Medela Freestyle Breastpump as part of her All About Baby Giveaways.

Medela Freestyle  is a hands free, double-electric breast pump. And let me tell you, this bad boy is sweet!! My sister-in-law Kelsey (Hi Kels!) has one and I have been green with envy ever since she first showed it to me. The pump fits in the palm of your hand and runs on batteries. So you can take it with you and pump where ever you need to! No more being stuck on the couch while you pump! You could hook it on and do laundry, do the dishes, serve hot chocolate, drive home from work, the possibilities are endless!

Go to The Shopping Mama and check it out! She has a lot of great giveaways going on right now, so click around!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who wants free money?? $15 to spend at CSN Stores!


I was introduced to CSN Stores through one of my favorite blogs I follow, Minnesota Mama's Must Haves. It's a huge online marketplace for a little bit of everything! I plan on doing a lot of my Christmas shopping online at CSN Stores since their prices are so great! And when you open an account, you get $15 off your first order! So I thought I would share with all of you so you can take advantage of the great deals as you start your holiday shopping.

CSN Stores offers the largest selection of items for your home and office, at the lowest prices! As a rewards member you get $15 toward your first order and 3% back on every purchase.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just Call Me The Bearded Lady

*sigh*

Today was one of those days.

One of those days.

You know, one of those days when you threaten to sell your child to the circus?
No?

You mean you've never threatened to sell your child to the circus? Well, then you are a better person than me.

Seriously, molars? They're not fun. They pretty much suck.

Olive is one tough cookie. She'll crash and burn and laugh it off with a loud "Boom!". But those three little (ok, they're not that little) teeth have turned her into a sad, wimpering, crying, rashy, crabby, hot (literally) mess.

One minute she is fine, laughing, singing, cheerful and the next BAM! Mad, crabby, screaming, inconsolable disaster. And there were more BAM!s today than an Emeril Lagasse marathon on the Food Network.

Happy? BAM! Crabby!

Crabby? BAM! Happy!

AAAAHHH!!! You! Circus! Now!

Fortunately for Olive, there aren't many circuses in our area. And she's cute.

So, she's got that going for her.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cheek to cheek

Olive and I love to dance. We are the dancing queens of our living room. Some might say, dancing fools. But whatever the name, we love it. The majority of our day is spent dancing. Sometimes there is music on, sometimes not. Sometimes we have an audience, sometimes not.

We each have our own unique style of dance. I am more of a sway and twirl girl, whereas Lou-lou is more of a the shake your booty kind of girl. Even in a chicken suit.
(I used to be one of those girls too. Now my booty shakes more than I care to admit.)

And lately she throws in a sweet shoulder shrug. It doesn't matter the beat, she will drop it like it's hot and get down with her bad self anytime of day or night. She loves to dance.

But my favorite dance of ours is  "cheeks!'. 

"Cheeks!" usually takes place during a slower song, but that is not a requirement. It involves Olive running to me with her arms outstretched for me to pick her up. I hold her close and she squishes her face against mine so we are dancing cheek to cheek. I am not really sure when or how it got started. I think I've been doing it since she was itty bitty and we would spend our days swaying and slow dancing. It has evolved into a daily dance that never fails to melt my heart.

I know there will come a day that the request for "cheeks!" won't happen.





But until then, we will dance our hearts out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One cute chick



Hey, where did my Whoppers go?

Sympathy pains

Olive is one of those kids. You know the ones that cry when someone else cries? Yup, she's one of 'em.

This is a newly acquired emotion for her. It started a few weeks ago at ECFE. We noticed she would start 'crying' whenever one of the other kids started crying or got upset. And, I won't lie, we thought it was kind of cute.

But now, it has moved on to a whole different level. If she hears anyone cry, sound upset or sniff, she cries. And it's no longer 'crying' it's crying.  With real live human tears. And it's not only tears, but genuine concern for the person who is crying/hurt/upset. She clings to me with her real live human tears shining in her eyes and points at the poor soul who is upset. And then buries her head in my shoulder as if it were just too much to bear. And if things are really bad, she'll go to said upset person and cry with them.

And it kills me. It makes my heart physically hurt for her because her heart is hurting for someone else. She is too little to hurt that much. Can't we save the heart break until at least junior high?

I know, more than likely she isn't truly feeling that much empathy for someone else. It's more likely that she is responding to their emotions and tears. But still.

My tough cookie is really a big ol' softie on the inside.

Pumpkin Pancakes

This recipe is a family favorite. We make it at least once a month, if not more. We always make extra pancakes so we can throw some in the freezer. They re-heat great in the toaster or microwave.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Nutmeg Whipped Cream
(From allrecipes.com)

Pancakes
2 1/3 cups pancake mix (such as Bisquick®)
2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Nutmeg Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1.Whisk together the pancake mix, white sugar, cinnamon, the 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg, and ginger; set aside. Beat together the eggs, milk, pumpkin, and vegetable oil. Combine the two mixtures, stirring just until all ingredients are moistened.

2.Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Bubbles will start to form in the pancakes. Cook until the edges of the pancakes start to look dry, and a bubble popped near the edge holds its shape. Flip the pancakes over, and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to the griddle if necessary. Stack the pancakes on a plate and keep warm until serving. For larger batches, keep pancakes warm in a single layer on a cooling rack positioned over a baking sheet in a 300 degrees F oven.

3.Place whipping cream in a small, deep, chilled bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg; beat using a mixer with chilled beaters on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

Enjoy! 

Herb Baked Eggs

Yet again another fab recipe from Annie's Eats. (maybe I should rename this blog "Cooking and blogging about everything from Annie's Eats". Or "I *heart* Annie's Eats!")

This is a quick and simple way to prepare eggs. And they smell and look beautiful when done. They would be perfect for a brunch or brinner (breakfast dinner). I've made theses twice now. The first time, I followed the recipe as written. The eggs were amazing, but slightly charred on top and not cooked all the way through underneath. So the second time around I played with the oven temp and cooking time. And added some green onions because I had some on hand and they were in desperate need of some TLC (aka they were going to go bad soon if I didn't use them!). The changes I made the second time around are in blue.

Herb Baked Eggs
(adapted from Annie's Eats)
Serves 4

1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
½ tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
½ tsp. minced fresh chives
1 tsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. chopped green onion
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
12 large eggs
¼ cup heavy cream, divided
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat source. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley, green onion and Parmesan cheese and set aside.  Carefully crack 3 eggs into each of 4 small bowls or teacups without breaking the yolks.  (These are not the dishes you will bake the eggs in.)  It is very important to have all the eggs ready to go before you start cooking because you must move quickly.


Place four individual gratin dishes or oven-safe crocks on a baking sheet.  Place 1 tablespoon of cream and ½ tablespoon of butter in each dish and place under the broiler (in the 425 degree oven) for about 5 minutes, until hot and bubbly.  Quickly but carefully pour each serving of eggs into the individual gratin dishes and sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Place back under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes (in 425 oven for 10-12 minutes), until the whites of the eggs are just cooked.  (You may need to rotate the baking sheet halfway through to ensure even baking.) (Broil for 1-2 minutes to brown the tops) The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven.  Allow to rest for at least 60 seconds before serving hot, with toast if desired.

You can easily adapt this recipe to your own tastes just by switching up the herbs and fillings. Enjoy!

Stuffed Mushrooms

Here is another recipe that I promised you!  I found it on Annie's Eats. Like I said before, I have yet to try a recipe of hers I don't like!

Stuffed Mushrooms
(From Annie's Eats)




24 whole fresh button mushrooms
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. vegetable oil
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Bread crumbs and minced fresh herbs, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully remove the stems from the mushroom caps, setting the caps aside for later.  Add the stems to the bowl of a food processor.  Add the garlic to the food processor as well, and pulse in brief bursts until them mushroom stems and garlic are finely chopped. (I did not use the food processor. Just finely chopped and mixed everything)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped mushroom stems and garlic and cook until all the moisture has disappeared, about 5-7 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Stir in the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and spices.  Stir together until the mixture is smooth and creamy; remove from the heat.  Using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of filling.  Arrange the mushroom caps on the prepared baking sheet.  Top with bread crumbs, if desired.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are hot and liquid starts to form under the caps.  Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with fresh herbs if using and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The dog ate the bat's balls

Eyeballs, that is.



Night two of carving didn't go so well. Poor Fatty Batty never had a chance. My heart just wasn't in it. And in the end, neither were his eyeballs.

I made my last cut, popped the eye chunks out and the eye balls broke off. So I stuck them back in thinking I would just glue them in. I then bumped the table causing the eyeballs to fall out onto the floor and Jake just happened to be laying under the table.

*gulp* Buh-bye eyeballs!

Last night's owl is by far the superior pumpkin!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love pumpkin seeds. Love them. And since I just ate an entire pumpkin worth of roasted seeds, I felt I should share the love. The following is a picture tutorial. Enjoy!


Olive was not too happy about her pumpkin going under the knife.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Clean, raw seeds from 1 Pumpkin
Olive oil or cooking spray
salt
pepper
garlic powder
chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Give your pumpkin some pre-op love.



3. Cut open pumpkin and assess the guts. (Someone WILL have to touch them)

4. Using a large spoon or scoop, scrape seeds/guts out. Give them to your assistant to sort seeds from guts.



5. Rinse seeds in cold water to clean off remaining slime.
6. Spread seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray
7. Spray seeds with olive oil (or spray of choice) and season with spices*
8. Roast in oven for 45-60 minutes. Stirring every 15 minutes or so.
9. Carve pumpkin while seeds are roasting.


10. Enjoy seeds while marveling at your pumpkin carving skills!**











*Feel free to use whatever spices and seasonings you are in the mood for. I think tomorrow night we will try cinnamon and sugar.

*Yes, I used a pattern. But I am still pretty darn proud of my skills. Even if Owli's (get it? "Owli"? Like Oli, but with a "w" because it's...an...owl.) nose is a bit more bulbous than the pattern called for. It's ok I like it. It reminds me of Hoots from Sesame Street. Remember Hoots? He plays the saxophone? Sings classics like "Put Down The Duckie"?



Uh, Hoots is a little creepy looking. But man, can he sing.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oh sh!t

So......Olive said a new word today.


"Mama.Mama.Mama.MAMA!"

"Yes bebe?"

"Shit?Shit?SHIT?!"

"Uh-huh. Mama's making dinner, just a minute peanut."

"Mama?Mama?Shit?Shit?SHIT!SHIT!"

"Wait, what?! What did you say?"

"SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!"

And she then grabbed a towel and ran to the laundry CHUTE.

"Yep, that's the laundry CHUTE. CHUTE. Can you say CHUTE?"

"SHIT!"




Never a dull moment.

Peel and Eat Shrimp

As promised, here is one of the recipes we made this weekend.

This is one of my all time favorite recipes. It tastes great and is insanely easy to throw together. The first time I made this, I was amazed at how flavorful the shrimp were with so few ingredients in the marinade. It has become a family favorite and my go-to dish as either an appetizer or main dish. The shrimp are also great the next day, cold, on a salad.

Grilled Marinated Shrimp (aka Peel and Eat Shrimp)

(adapted from John Ash's Cooking One on One)

For the shrimp
1 pound large shrimp (16-20 size or larger)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the marinade
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons finely minced or pressed garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced green onions
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I use 1/2-1 tsp.)
2 tablespoons white wine, preferably a dry or off-dry aromatic
Salt and Pepper to taste
Splash of lime juice

1. Peel and devein the shrimp. (I leave the peel on. I think the shrimp are more flavorful that way) 2.Whisk the marinade ingredients together, toss with the shrimp, and marinate for up to 45 minutes in the refrigerator. 
3. Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill or broiler. Grill or broil the shrimp quickly, 1 to 2 minutes per side, until they just begin to turn pink. Be careful not to overcook; the shrimp should remain slightly transparent in the middle.
4. Enjoy!

A Love Story


I know a girl.

Her name is Olive.
 


And she is loved.

The end.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not Me! Monday

 
Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

I did NOT use Olive's bib as a tissue when my nose decided to spring a leak during lunch. Nope, not me! And then, when Olive tried to do the same (with a clean bib of course, I am not THAT gross people), I did NOT tell her "No, no Olive. Only Mommies can do that!".

I also did NOT wear my pants inside out out of the house even though I knew they were inside out and I was too tired to fix them. Not me!

I most certainly did NOT just put Olive in her crib for "nap time" just so I could have a few minutes to lay on the couch and feel sorry for my sick self.

And I definitely did NOT just sneeze and wet my pants a little. *sigh* Nope, not me!

What have you NOT been doing this week?

Free Sample!

Head over to Wal-Mart.com and get a free sample of Pampers Extra Protection.

We use cloth diapers for the most part, but lately Olive has been soaking through them at night. So we have been using disposable diapers at night. But some nights even those aren't cutting it.  Several moms I know have recommended Huggies Overnights or Pampers Extra Protection. What better way to try them out than with a free sample!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A weekend full of fall

This weekend, Chris' sister Emily made the drive north for a visit. As always, we had a great time and enjoyed Emily's company immensely. We spent the weekend playing, reading, walking, singing, sleeping and laughing. (and getting a cold, blah. *sniffle sniffle cough*)

Oh and eating.

We tried four new recipes this weekend and made some old standbys that are always a hit. A little bit of this and a little bit of that and they were all fabulous. I will post recipes over the next day or two as I feeling better.

And once again, I forgot to take pictures before we ate everything. 

Here was our menu for the weekend:


Friday night
Peel and Eat Shrimp
Stuffed Mushroom Caps
Cheese and Crackers
Pumpkin Dip with Graham Crackers

Saturday
Herbed Baked Eggs
Pizza Luce
Hot Apple Cider
Popcorn with butter, S&P and Chili Powder

Sunday
Pumpkin Pancakes
Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
Baked Brie with Apples, Honey, Rosemary and Walnuts.

And lots of tea.

To tide you over until I am up for posting more, here is the pumpkin dip recipe. I found this on one of my favorite foodie/cooking blogs, Annie's Eats. Three of the four recipes we tried this weekend came from Annie's Eats.  I have yet to find a recipe of hers I don't like! Go check her out.

Pumpkin Dip
(adapted from Annie's Eats)

1/2 c. Pumpkin puree
1 (8oz) package Cream Cheese
2 c. powdered sugar (I used 1.25 cups)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I used a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Heavy on the cinnamon because that's how I roll)

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
2. Transfer to a festive pumpkin bowl.
3. Lick mixing bowl and wooden spoon.
4. Enjoy!

We dipped graham crackers and apple slices in the dip. Highly recommend both.

(Ok, step 2 is optional. But really, doesn't everything taste better in a festive pumpkin bowl?)

Off to a hot cup of tea, some Nyquil and my pillow. Ta-ta for now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Love at First Bite

One of my favorite blogs, Bless Their Hearts Mom, is giving away an amazing cookbook....

Are you ready for this? Are you sure?

Maybe you should sit down, I'll wait.

Ok, ready?


A. CHOCOLATE. COOKBOOK. I am not joking. Seriously. I don't joke about chocolate.


Chocolate: A Love Story




 I couldn't have said it better myself! There are 65 original recipes in this bad boy. That's 65 ways to wrap yourself if the warm embrace of chocolate love. Hello, lover.

Want a copy for yourself? Head over to Bless Their Hearts Mom and try your luck. Because couldn't we all use a little more love in our lives?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

7 Days, 11 hours and 30 minutes.

Since the last time Olive nursed. But who's counting, right?

Oh yeah, me.

It all started with my departure to the sunny state of Arizona last Wednesday. I had a feeling it would be the end to our breastfeeding adventure, but it still kind of caught me by surprise. Just like that *snaps fingers*, it's over.  No tears were shed; well, not by Olive any way. I may or may not have shed a few. Or cried while rocking her before her nap realizing that she doesn't need me anymore. She is fully thriving toddler, not my itty bitty baby who depends on me for every little thing.

Yes, I could offer and push it on her and I am sure she would pick it right back up. But I've decided not to. The past 16 months have been amazing, but I am taking my cues from her and moving on.

My heart hurts.

And so do my breasts to be honest.

Given time, they will both heal. And I will always have the memories of all of our time together nursing.

And I can stop wearing nursing bras. Which, I think, most people in my life will agree, is a good thing.

But for right now, I am going to take my hurting heart and breasts and go cuddle my baby. Because no matter how big or old she gets or what kind of milk she drinks, she will always be my baby. 

*sigh*

Lasagna Rolls from Weelicious.com

Here is another great (and easy) recipe. I made this last night and all three of us gobbled it up. Even Olive, who hasn't been so big on eating anything other than oatmeal and cheese lately. She ate an entire roll. So they must be good! 


I found this recipe, along with many others, at Weelicious. It's a great website/blog that has lots of ideas for quick and easy baby/toddler/family meals. I visit frequently for dinner ideas. Here is the recipe, my adaptations are in blue

Lasagna Rolls
(adapted from weelicious.com)

9 Lasagna Noodles (I cook 1 extra in case they tear while boiling)
1 Egg
16 Oz. Ricotta Cheese (my container was 15oz)
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 Tsp Italian Herbs (I used oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder and a dash of cloves)
1 Tsp Salt 

Dash or two Pepper
1 Cup Spinach or Broccoli, cooked and finely chopped (I used frozen, thawed and drained well) (I use about 3/4 cup of frozen spinach and that made a very flavorful filling. I think any more than that would have been too much)
1 1/2 Cups Marinara Sauce (or 1 1/2 cups 
Weelicious Tomato Sauce)
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided




1. Cook lasagna noodles in salted water 2 minutes less than package directions call for and rinse with cold water.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. In a bowl whisk the egg, ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, italian herbs, salt 1/2 cup mozzarella and broccoli or spinach to combine.
4. Place 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9×11 inch baking dish.
5. Spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture on each lasagna noodle, covering the sheet and roll up jelly roll style. (I used a heaping spoon full-not quite a 1/3 cup-and that was plenty)
6. Place the lasagna rolls seam side down in the baking dish and top with remaining marinara sauce and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
7. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
8. Uncover and continue to cook an additional 15 minutes.
9. Serve.

* You can also prepare the dish through step 6, cover and freeze. When ready to eat, bake for 45 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered.


Enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety. Two little harmless words with BIG impact. Any parent who has dealt with a child with separation issues knows what I am talking about. Up until today, those two little words weren't that scary to me. But today they became something more than two little words. They became thoughts and feelings. They became heart break. And not for Olive. 


For me.



Olive had some major separation anxiety at ECFE today. Racking sobs, crumpled up face and big alligator tears. But soon after Chris and I left the room she settled in and enjoyed herself. (Especially once the snack came out. The girl will follow you to the moon and back for a saltine cracker.) (Yes, it's ok to enter an "Oli want a cracker?" joke here.) (And the answer to that question is always "yes")



And what really set this post in motion?


I am leaving Wednesday for four days away from my Stinky Little Lou Lou Bear. My Itty Bitty Peanut. Jo Jo. Oli Poo. Peanut Butter Pants. Lyle. Stinky Butt. I could go on, but I won't embarrass myself. (yes I do call Olive by her given name...occasionally)


I know. It will be good for both of us. Really, I know this. And honestly, I am not sad or nervous or scared to leave her. She will be in loving, capable hands. And I am really excited for this getaway. 


But, plain and simple, I am going to miss her. 


Olive is my sidekick. My partner in crime. The blink to my wink. For the last 16 months we've spent the better part of (almost) every day together. And yes, there have been moments when I wish it weren't that way. But 99.9% of the time I love it. It's been as natural to me as breathing. So I think it's understandable that I will miss her. 


But, I will pack my big girl undies (not to be confused with my granny panties) and have a great time. I will go so far as to say that I will have a fabulous time. And so will Olive. She will get lots of Daddy time which, let's face it, is what she is always asking for; "Da da! Da da? DA DA?!". So really, it's a win-win situation, right? 


Right. 






Moral of this really long winded and rambling post? 


Sometimes life sucks and it's ok to cry. But don't worry, some lady with crackers will come along and cheer you up. 



Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Two words: Yum. Yum.


Pumpking Chocolate Chip Muffins
(adapted from recipe found on allrecipes.com)
Makes 12 muffins

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin pan or use paper liners.
  2. Mix sugar, applesauce and eggs. Add pumpkin and water. In separate bowl, mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Add pumpkin mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. 
Delicious! 

Chocolate Chip Waffles. Yum.

You have NEED to make these. No questions, just make them. So good. So SO good. (and so easy!) And they have bran and flax so they're good for you, right?  Right??


Thanks to Kari from The Twim Ports Moms Meetup Group for sharing this amazing recipe. 


Chocolate Chip Waffles
Makes about 8 waffles

2 eggs, well beaten (more beaten = fluffier waffle)

2 cups milk

1/4 cup veg oil
1/4 cup apple sauce (or skip this and add 1/2 cup veg oil total instead)
1.5 cups white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
3 T ground flax
3 T bran
3 T brown sugar
4 t baking powder
Chocolate chips- 1/3-1/2 bag

Beat eggs in bowl.

Dump everything else in and mix. 
Pour into waffle maker and cook.
Eat waffles.
Thank Kari for her culinary genius. 
The end.


You can substitute the apple sauce for some other kind of puree (spinach, carrot, cauliflower, butternut squash, etc) or throw in some fruit instead of the chocolate chips. But really, who wants to get rid of the chocolate chips? :) 


ENJOY! 


 P.s. I was going to add a picture or two of the scrumptious goodness, but we ate them all. oops.

Sunday morning bliss

Merriam-Webster defines bliss as; 


1 : complete happiness
2 : paradiseheaven

When Olive was an itty bitty baby, Chris and I used to bring her into bed with us on weekend mornings. We would all cuddle and fall asleep wrapped in warm blankets and that wonderful baby smell. It was blissful.


We tried to recreate that bliss this morning when Olive woke up. 


Needless to say, it was not quite the relaxing, peaceful experience it once was. Instead of cuddling and falling asleep, we jumped on the bed, "honked" noses and even managed to spill some water on the bed. And that was just in the first 60 seconds. 


It was blissful. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I hate it when she is sick...

but man, I love the cuddles.


Olive is, for lack of a better word, busy. From the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed she is on the go. Playing, singing, walking, dancing, "running", climbing. All day long. 


It's exhausting. We love it.


So needless to say, she does not have a lot of time for Mom and Dad. While I think it is great that she is so independent (sometimes too independent, but that's a whole different post!), I miss my itty bitty little cuddle bug. The only time she will sit still long enough to give her Mama a little love is when she is feeling crummy. 


Tonight was one of those nights. 


With a slight fever, cough and runny nose, she just wasn't her normal busy self. We sat together and read books, sang songs and talked about our day for 10 whole minutes. It was wonderful.


With her 'boo-boo' (blankie), her 'nu-nu' (pacifier) and her mama, she was happy. So was I. 

Another FABULOUS giveaway at Minnesota Mama's Must Haves!

Minnesota Mama's Must Haves is giving away another fabulous Seventh Generation gift! This time it's the Natural Baby Starter Kit which includes the following:

Baby Wipes Tub
Baby Wipes Refill
Newborn Diapers
Baby Laundry Detergent
All Purpose Cleaner
Natural Paper Towels

So click on over there an enter to win! Good luck! 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not Me! Monday




Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.


Some samplings of Not Me! Mondays...


I would never wipe my child's nose with my finger and then wipe it on her pants because I didn't want slimy slot on my pants. Nope, not me!


When trying to soothe a very tired and crabby toddler I would never say "You need to take a nap right now because you are driving Mommy crazy!" Never!


And I would never even think of giving my child cheese and graham crackers for lunch and calling it good because I couldn't come up with anything better. Nope, not me!


What are some of your Not Me's!?







Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Molars. *Blech*

We got home from our camping adventure Sunday afternoon and Olive was a hot mess. Well, she wasn't actually hot, but she was a mess. Crabby, crying, whiney, clinging, stubborn, willful, shrieking...tons o' fun let me tell you. I could not figure out what was bothering her so I chalked it up to being overly tired from camping.

Fast forward to Monday night and Chris realizes she has two HUGE chompers coming in. Poor girl, I would be pissed too! The last few days have been trying to say the least. But on the upside, she is more cuddly. And I'll take cuddles any way I can get them. Not that I want her to be in pain and needing comfort, but you know what I mean.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Peace Day!

Happy Peace Day!

September 21st is Peace Day. Who knew? (I didn't.)

On one hand an international Day of Peace makes me extremely hopeful. But on the other, it makes me extremely sad and discouraged. It makes me sad that we even need a special day for peace.

Shouldn't every day be Peace Day? Someday my friends, someday. Until then, enjoy today, Peace Day.

Awesome Giveaway over at MN Mama's Must Haves!

Sarah at MN Mama's Must Haves is having a Seventh Generation Feminine Care Products giveaway right now.  It is truly an amazing giveaway, jam packed with great products. Run over there and check it out now!

Not only are Seventh Generation products bettter for your family and the environment, they are also teamed up with a good cause! For every person that registers at  Let's Talk Period, Seventh Generation will donate $1 to Ovarian Cancer Research!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What's in a Name?

You know, Shakespeare was on to something when he asked us that question. Because really, what IS in a name? 


Our daughter's name is Olive. Yes, like the fruit. And the oil. And Popeye's sweetie, Olive Oyl. No, there is no family connection or history with the name. We just like it. When I was pregnant, I threw it out as a girl option for the little Loch Ness (Nessie for short) creature growing inside me. I LOVED the name. Chris was ok with it. But then, when SHE was born, Chris had the honor of choosing her name and he decided she was an Olive. 


And she is. 


We've tried calling her by our other girl name choices and they don't fit. With a name like Olive, you need to be strong enough to stand up to teasing (yes, we thought about it) and brave enough to walk away. Or kick some a$$ when necessary. Our Olive will have no problem meeting those requirements. 


So again, I ask; what's in a name? Does a name make a person who they are? Or does a person make a name their own? 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nonsense

Motherhood. One of life's toughest jobs. One of life's most rewarding jobs. Yet sometimes it is full of complete and utter nonsense. And that's why I love it.


I am very fortunate to be a stay at home mom to our lovely daughter. She is amazing. Smart. Beautiful. Funny. Charming. STUBBORN. Busy. And some have said, spirited. We spend our days together playing, laughing, crying (usually her, sometimes both of us), eating, sleeping, dancing, singing (both of us, but really should be just her) and various other shenanigans. And there is always a lot of nonsense involved. Nonsense that I love, adore, cherish and wouldn't trade or give up for anything.


So hence this blog. A place to write about said nonsense. A way to document and record our day to day nonsense and how it all comes together and actually makes...complete sense.