Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to ALL

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's Cookin': Cowboy Cookies

Between helping out with the Christmas party at work we were throwing for our local adopted 4th grade class filled with underprivileged children and our neighborhood cookie exchange, I went to work baking nine dozen cookies this past weekend. I am traditionally not a fan of baking cookies as mine haven't turned out well in the past and I find it monotonous to put baking sheet after baking sheet into the oven. That said, I decided to stay somewhat traditional with a variation of a chocolate chip cookie that I've had before and really enjoy, the Cowboy Cookie.

The original recipe calls for chocolate chips, nuts and shredded coconut, but since I was cooking for the masses I omitted the nuts and coconut from the batch going to the kids and the coconut to the batch going to the exchange. Basically both are oatmeal chocolate chips cookies ... I love the texture (and fiber!) the oatmeal adds to the cookies. I'm pleased to say that this round of cookie baking was a success! Maybe it was that I had some stellar football to watch (ha ha!) while baking or that it's much easier to maneuver around the new kitchen. Whatever it was, I may just try my hand at cookies again in the near future.

Cowboy Cookies

1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
2 c rolled oats (quick or old fashioned)
2 c (1 package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 c shredded coconut (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder, mix well. Add oats, chocolate chips and coconut, mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets, remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Yields 4 - 5 dozen cookies.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Light at the end of the tunnel ...

For the past four years Mike and I have been able to get away from the cold and snow for a few days and enjoy some fun in the sun in the middle of winter ... 2007 was Cancun, our first vacation as a couple, 2008 was Amber's wedding in Jamaica, 2009 was April's wedding in Cabo and 2010 was Christina's wedding in the Dominican Republic ... in keeping with our past, we booked a trip to Florida next month ... and it came at just the right time to ease my seasonal snow depression. Some people may call it a "babymoon," and yes, this will likely be our last vacation before Baby Kelly arrives, but I like to think of it as tradition.

Looking forward to a little less of this ...
And a little more of this ...

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's Cookin': Slumgullion

Everyone has a dish that reminds them of a certain memory and for some reason Mike thought of his Mom making his family slumgullion when he was a kid and thought it sounded perfect a few weeks ago when the Steelers had a Sunday night game. He explained the dish to me and my first reaction was "that sounds like goulash, that my babysitter used to make us." Regardless, I never turn down an opportunity to have dinner cooked for me and sat back and enjoyed the last few minutes of non-football TV while Mike prepared his dish. It turned out wonderfully and is a great, simple winter dish that I think most kids would enjoy as well ... that said, it can easily be jazzed up. Enjoy!


1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
dash or two of oregano
dash or two of red pepper flakes
1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup water

12 oz elbow macaroni or cavatappi pasta

Heat water and boil pasta for 2/3 of the recommended cooking time.

While pasta is cooking, in a deep skillet/saucepan, brown meet with the onion, green pepper, garlic and spices. Drain and fat from the pan. Add tomatoes, condensed soup and water and allow to cook until the pasta is ready. Add pasta to the pan and allow to finish cooking and flavor marry for about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Soundtracks: Instruments Optional

As if Wednesdays weren't awesome enough being hump day AND Modern Family night, NBC put out The Sing Off (it's Glee without the plot!!) and made my snow woes fade a bit for a few hours twice a week. On top of that, I heard this tune on my ride home today, thank you Sirius! I mean, does it get any better than one of my favorite Christmas Carols teamed up with one of the best tunes to come out of the 80's?!?! Wait for the 2 minute mark, I promise it's worth it ... and afterwards take a listen to their other tunes posted on YouTube, these guys are freaking amazing!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Travelling Gal: London

As most of you know, back in November I took a little trip across the pond to London for work. Our conference was Tuesday through Thursday and then I stayed until Sunday to take in the sights and visit with my number one cousin who currently resides in Belgium, but was a London local for about a year most recently.

London was unseasonably warm for November during the first part of the week, highs in the 60s with overcast skies and pockets of rain here and there. Although I was stuck in work conferences, we did wander into the city for fabulous dinners two nights and those small glimpses of the city got me ready for a weekend full of fun.

On Friday I was on my own and enjoyed taking in the sights based on recommendations and my own personal interests. I saw Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard, Trafalgar Square and the Tower of London. That evening Leah and I searched out traditional pub fare and had a wonderful dinner of fish and chips (sadly, I wasn't able to sample any of the wonderful beer selection).

On Saturday we set out to see more sights and had a wonderful girls day. We started with Westminster Abbey, walked through the area taking in sights such as the London Eye, street vendors and artists, Leah's old stomping ground - Kings College, shopping at Harrods, riding a traditional double-decker city bus, and a high, formal tea. The weather Saturday was chillier, but hardly a cloud in sight and I was amazed at how much we packed into a day. Baby Kelly was a trooper and allowed me to walk to my heart's content and kept me on top of any typical first trimester symptoms.

The icing on the cake was returning home and seeing the mass news coverage of the royal engagement and being able to say, "I was there just a few weeks ago!"

Buckingham Palace - simply goregeous architecture!
Changing of the Guards ... it started to rain just as the procession started, making an already crowded area even that much tighter, but still a neat tradition to witness.
The statue across from Buckingham Palace and one of my London friends.
After the Changing of the Guards I bought myself a hot chocolate to warm up and wandered around St. James park for a bit, the leaves made everything look even more beautiful!
I loved this shot of a castle with the London Eye in the background, although the day was a bit dreary and it was raining fairly hard at this point, it didn't keep BK and I from loving all the city had to offer!
I managed the Underground (London's Subway) on my own and after a warm-me-up lunch in Trafalgar Square made my way to see the Tower of London. I was amazed at the mix of an old, historic castle (the Tower) and the sign in this picture ... that was probably the neatest thing about the city for me; seeing how seamlessly the old and new married together.
The Tower of London from the outside and inside. The walking tour was very worthwhile and your pass allowed you to wander the beautiful grounds and 13 towers all day. I would highly, highly recommend this stop for anyone visiting London.
Inside the Tower of London and the Queens Jewels showcase (cameras aren't allowed, but I didn't know that in the beginning, whoops!). Our tour guide was a hoot and throughout the Tower grounds they had folks dressed in period costumes.
Westminster Abbey and Big Ben ... again, amazed that we walked up from the Underground station and Big Ben was literally right there. Westminster was simply amazing! Unfortunately cameras aren't allowed to be used, but this is another "must visit" stop in London. I love thinking how beautiful it will be for the Royal Wedding in April!
The London Eye! We opted not to ride due to long lines and fear of heights for both Leah and myself ... plus, we were rather enjoying our foot tour of the city.
The end to a wonderful day was Leah treating me to a Formal and Traditional High Tea. It's no secret that I love anything in minature form, so aside from the great company and tradition, this was right up my alley. The theme of the entire trip was how friendly and polite the people of London were and this was no exception; we almost felt bad having to ask for our check after enjoying the tea and treats for well over 2 hours.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baby Bump: 16 Weeks

Baby Kelly and I are trucking right along in our tour of the produce section ... up to an avocado this week! I have gained 4 lbs as my 15-week OB appointment on Tuesday and hearing the heartbeat was like music to my ears. Our next appointment is early January with the half-way point ultrasound; we could find out the gender if we chose to, but we've decided to keep it a surprise. I think anyone reading knows that I'm the planner to end all planners and we both agree that this is one of the few things in life that can be a true surprise. I've picked out the nursery bedding and can't wait to paint and finalize the furniture selection, and you know I'll be posting about it.

I'm feeling well, still tired at times, but much better than the first trimester. No major or regular cravings to speak of ... I really miss lunch meat for some reason, specifically the Turkey Tom from Jimmy John's, but I'll cope. I think the minute you're told you can't eat something, you mentally want it even more. Case in point, hot dogs. Never pre-pregnancy would I really want a hot dog outside of a summer cookout, but tell me I can't have them and it turns into Mission Impossible. Luckily I found some "natural, no nitrates added" hot dogs at the grocery store to satisfy my new need for processed meat. And a scoop of ice cream does wonders when a glass of wine isn't available to take away the stress of a hard day at work ...

I made the plunge and purchased two pairs of maternity jeans last weekend at the Gap Outlet ($9.99 each!!) and found some great work pants online at Ann Taylor Loft (40% off and free shipping didn't hurt, either!). I'm going to need to merge into maternity tops sooner rather than later as my "normal" shirts are looking a big short these days. Luckily I found some great deals at Old Navy and have a few sweaters, cardigans and camisoles arriving this week.

** Photos from **
 I'm still working out the kinks with getting the "bump shots" and am not a fan of the double chin that comes from turning sideways. The 16 week picture was taken last night before we went off to my work Holiday party ... definitely the last time I'll be wearing a "normal" dress for a few months and I wanted to be sure to capture that moment : )

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Making our House a Home: It's beginning to look a lot like ...

... Christmas! For one reason or another I never bought myself a proper Christmas tree when I was single and neither had Mike. When we moved in together we were festive, decorating and lighting up the outside of the house, but decided to wait until we moved to get a proper tree. Enter the end of my first trimester and a burst of energy the weekend before Thanksgiving and we were good to go (much to Mike's chagrin that we had a tree up before Thanksgiving ... hey, I have learned to use that energy when I have it!). We did wait to decorate outside the house until after Thanksgiving and hope to do more lights next year when the bushes have grown into their skin a bit.
First snowfall (of what I fear will be many) of the season!

Our first tree ... complete with a few presents ... still looking for coordinating, but not match-y stockings for BK and the cats.

The entryway ... I need to find a small table to put under the mirror.

Daisy LOVED the fire ... she just sat and stared the entire time it was going.
She mourned the loss of the fire by warming herself on the marble ... so sweet.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Funny: Cat Diaries

I found this at one of my daily blog check points, The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, and it really made my Friday. This week has been a bit of a challenge at work (hmmm, running theme?) and I needed a smile. As I work from home here and there, I have no doubt that a day in the life of Milo or Daisy would be very much the same. Happy Friday!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What's Cookin': Or not so much cookin', but being picked up

My Friday afternoon though process:

... Hmmmm, I forgot to pick up eggrolls at the store to go with our chicken and broccoli tonight.

... Maybe I'll just have Mike stop at Timmy's Wok to pick up a couple, I could use an eggroll tonight after this crazy week.

...Well, they really are the experts at making Chinese food and that chicken and broccoli dish I picked up there last month was really tasty. And with the sauce on the side and steamed rice, it's not that unhealthy.

... And, it's really cold out today, I could use some wonton soup to warm me up.

... And the chicken we have would grill up nicely for a salad over the weekend ... and the broccoli would work perfectly as a steamed side with another dish early next week.

A phone call to Mike settled it ... Timmy's Wok won out. I find it best not to mess with the thought process of a pregnant woman's cravings as it results in binge eating of all food in sight later in the night ... best to just satisfy the craving as long as it's not too ridiculous or unhealthy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Funny: Forrest Gump

Even if you're not a "cat person", you can't help but chuckle at this ... Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bursting at the seams ...

Literally around here lately ... I've only gained 3-4 lbs so far and am 14 1/2 weeks along, but man are my pants getting tighter by the minute. My work pants, which were already a little snug due to a lack of exercise recently, are totally un-buttonable most days and my "comfy jeans" are getting really close. Thank goodness for the Bella Band during the day and lounge pants at home! And due to changes on the top by shirts aren't fitting the way they used to and I'm going to be at risk for baring my midriff anyday now ...

I'll be honest ... before I was pregnant maternity clothing seemed grand ... I mean, you get a new wardrobe, lose buttons and zippers and let's face it, most pregnant women look cute as a button ... until it's your own waistband that's expanding. Don't get me wrong, I'm still excited, I think I'm just in the "in between" phase where my clothes are tight, but manageable, and maternity clothing seems like I'm buying something three people could share. I branched out this past weekend and bought a few shirts with my Mother-in-law in tow, but when the sales lady asked if I needed to look at pants I firmly stated "I'm not ready to go there just yet." And don't even get me started on that "belly" they had hanging in the fitting room. I put that thing as a test and it seriously looked like I'd just shoved a pillow under my shirt - totally ridiculous ... if that's what I'm going to look like in a few months, I'm really nervous.

I have found lots of maternity sites online, Old Navy/GAP for home / lounging basics, Hot Mama, Ann Taylor, Asos and Nordstrom for work wear ... but it seems that the actual department in the stores are very small with horrible selection and online is the way to go ... and since I have no idea what size to order, I get even more overwhelmed. I probably have shopping carts with a few items loaded at each of the above stores, but am too afraid to pull the trigger.

So, you Moms out there ... any advice? Favorite shops? Sizing words of wisdom? Anyone willing to take me under their wing and force me to shop ( ha ha ... well, kind of )?