Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I confess: I hate cooking

This isn't much of a revelation, and hate may be a bit of a strong word, but I find no joy in cooking like some people do. It's just another chore at the end of the day for me that I dread. Maybe if I was better about meal planning, it wouldn't be as much of a chore, but I still envy people who like to cook and have a talent for making delicious meals. I mean, I'm not a bad cook, I'm just not inventive or passionate about it (to say the least).

As much as I like food, I just wish I had a personal chef to cook for me so I could enjoy the food without all the work. That's not too much to ask, right? Ha!

Since that's not my reality and I'm too budget- and health-conscious to eat out all the time, the meals I fix at home need to be quick and simple. With the boys needing help with homework and Lorelai needing my undivided attention, I just don't have the time to stand over a stove for any length of time.

And here's where we get to the easiest meal I've probably ever made (legit meal--frozen pizza and chicken nuggets don't count). The fact that it's inexpensive, doesn't require a trip to the store for fresh ingredients (yay cans!), is pretty darn healthy and my kids love it is just icing on the cake.

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
(originally from the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook, with my modifications added in)

crockpot chicken tortilla soup {alazycrazylife}
(yikes, clearly my food photography skills need work...It's yummy, I promise!)

  • 4 chicken breast halves (I've cut back to 3 to save some money on meat and I don't miss the extra one at all since it's all shredded and mixed up at the end anyway)
  • 2 15-oz. cans black beans, undrained
  • 2 15-oz. cans Mexican stewed tomatoes or Rotel tomatoes (I usually use southwestern style diced tomatoes)
  • 1 cup salsa (any heat you prefer, I use mild)
  • 4-oz can chopped green chilies (I don't like spicy things at all and have never bought green chilies in my life so I omit this)
  • 14 1/2-oz. can tomato sauce (I've used pasta sauce when I didn't have enough tomato sauce, nbd)
  • Corn, eyeball it I guess? (I keep meaning to add this, but always forget since it's not in the original recipe. Can't vouch for it, but I'm guessing it probably doesn't suck if you like corn! But I obviously think it's great without the corn, too.)
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips

Literally all you have to do is put your chicken breasts in your large crockpot, dump in everything except the cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips and cook on low for about 8 hours. I put frozen chicken breasts in my pot with all the ingredients and then into the fridge the night before so the chicken thaws a bit, and then start it before I leave for work. Most times it ends up cooking for closer to 9 hours, but since you're shredding the chicken anyway, cooking it a little longer doesn't matter.

When you get home, enjoy the amazing smell as you walk in the door (a very important step). Go outside and come back in, if you want. Then just before serving, shred the chicken with a fork and mix it up. Let it sit a little longer (or don't, it's probably good to go) and serve with shredded cheese, tortilla chips and sour cream. Bon appetit!

The recipe says this makes 6-8 servings. In my experience, it's enough for 2 generous adult portions (large bowl), 2 boy-sized portions (medium bowl) and one baby portion (small bowl) with probably about 3-4 servings left over. It freezes well, and you can do tacos/burritos or even a spin on enchiladas with the leftovers as well.

I'd love to hear any more super easy recipes you have! I'm clearly stuck in a food rut and need some help out before my family turns into frozen pizza and chicken nuggets :) (Ok, it's not that bad, but still...)

Linking up with Megan and Heather.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A relaxing Thanksgiving break

I'm so thankful for a lot of things, both big and small, in my life. But I'd have to say that at this moment (on the Monday after vacation, ugh!), taking time off from work and spending lazy days around the house with my family is at the top of my list.

"Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow." ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

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coffee and blogs with a snuggly girl next to me on the couch? Yes please.

I took off Wednesday and Friday with no grand plans for the long weekend. Well, one grand plan: take the boys to see Wreck-It Ralph. We hit up the mall on Wednesday for lunch and some shopping before the movie, just the four of us.


The movie got 8 thumbs up. :)


I love that the boys begged us to look around the book store. Much to their disappointment, we left with only some multiplication flash cards for Aidan in an effort to save some gift ideas for Christmas. We browsed around places like the candy store, Crate and Barrel (and got some ideas for Christmas crafts!), and Urban Outfitters with hardly a complaint from them. (Side note: never going in that store again with young children who can read. Holy inappropriate everything, batman! We didn't stay for long, but I had to tell Aidan to look away from numerous books, posters and t-shirts. I should have known better.)

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Gotta be honest, it was weird having a family fun day without our girl. She was greatly missed, but daycare was open and she's too young to not only sit through a movie, but sit through it quietly, so it was best to let her have fun with her friends and her teacher, Miss Donna. I don't think she missed us too much. In fact, as I was getting her changed on Sunday morning, she said "we gotta go mommy." When I asked her where, she said "to see my Donna." It would have been downright cruel to take away an extra day with her Donna :)


Thanksgiving itself was even relaxing (unlike last year), thanks to my amazing mom and in-laws doing the majority of the work. My mom hosted and did some side dishes, and my in-laws brought the turkey and some more side dishes/dessert. All Adam and I had to do was show up with the kids and something green, and we were good to go. I slaved over the stove for a good 10 minutes steaming some broccoli and making the green bean casserole. :)

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And then for the rest of the long weekend, we pretty much just vegged. We ate, hung out with family, played lots of games, and watched way too much tv. (Although much of it was Nat Geo type educational shows--komodo dragons are no joke and chameleons are cool!) I literally wore sweats and didn't wash my hair from Friday through Sunday. Disclaimer before I start sounding too gross: I did shower and technically did put on jeans with my sweatshirt for a couple of hours on Saturday when we went out to eat. I also put on some makeup because I'm too vain to leave the house without it, so yeah.

Lorelai, on the other hand, wore her pajama pants outside to play.

I will say that I dusted some stuff, mopped the floor and Adam vacuumed (which is momentous in our house--shameful), and we did go outside for some fresh air with the kids. But overall, I was just lazy enough to feel kind of bad about not doing more. Not getting the house all decorated for Christmas (way to make me feel extra lazy, instagram feed, full of hard core Christmas decorating!), not going Black Friday shopping (wait, I totally don't feel bad for not doing that!), not cleaning my toilets (oops, my secret is out)...


But I'm not going to be too hard on myself, because it's not often that I get that much dedicated time to sit around and do nothing except spend quality time with my family. You better believe I'm going to take advantage of it when I can!



There's always next weekend for Christmas decorating. I figured, Thanksgiving was pretty early this year, so waiting one weekend is no big deal. Christmas shopping though...OMG, the thought gives me anxiety. Wonder how long I can put that off? What I need to do is curl up on the couch in my sweats and do all of my shopping online. :) Too bad I kind of missed the boat on cyber Monday deals and have no idea what to get anyone on my list...

Hope everyone had an awesome Thanksgiving break!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Q&A time

A while back a few lovely bloggers were kind enough to tag me in a blog award/Q&A to show appreciation and get  know each other better. But since I'm totally lame, I never ended up participating. So I'm going to take a cue from Ariel and just answer some of the questions anyway without tagging anyone else. Questions like this are always fun and I'd love to hear answers to these questions from any other blog friends who want to play along :)

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Here's a combination of questions from Melanie, Krystle and Mia:
  1. Your favorite sweet treat? Wow, it's impossible to pick just one since I have such a sweet tooth! If we're not talking candy, I'd be mostly likely to pick creme brulee or tiramisu off a dessert menu. Or  cheesecake. Or key lime pie. Just not fruit pies (apple, blueberry, etc.) since I don't like pie crust.
  2. If you won $50,000 what would you use it for? I'd hire someone to finally paint my kitchen cabinets and do some master bathroom upgrades, take the kids to Disney, go on a vacation with Adam, and bank anything left over. I might also hire someone to clean my house regularly.
  3. Would you rather be to cold or to hot? Definitely too hot.
  4. How often do you vacuum in your house? Can I plead the 5th on this one? Definitely not as often as I should, but I do make sure to vacuum (the downstairs, at least) before company comes over... In my defense, we don't have pets, so there's no visible pet hair to make the carpets look dirty.
  5. What time do you normally go to bed? Ideally, 10pm. But depending on how many shows we have to watch, it ends up being more like 10:30 or 11, and then I get mad at myself every morning when my alarm goes off.
  6. Coffee or Tea? I never drank coffee regularly until my first full time job out of college. Now I drink coffee every morning and hot tea (peppermint or green) most afternoons. So I guess both, but if I had to choose, coffee would definitely win.
  7. If you could vacation anywhere you wanted, where would it be? Again, so hard to choose because I'd love to explore Europe, but if we're talking a relaxing vacation, it would have to be somewhere tropical. Hawaii, Tahiti, Aruba...
  8. What is your biggest pet peeve? Teachers who have terrible grammar and communication skills. If you can't spell, punctuate appropriately, or use proper subject/verb agreement, I lose respect for you and your ability to properly teach and grade my child.
  9. The first car you owned? A 1996 Toyota Tercel. Not the coolest car in the world and I sure cursed the clutch in traffic and the vinyl seats in the summer, but I'm SO thankful I had a car right when I turned 16, and it lasted me all the way through 2004 (or was it 2005?). At that point, I certainly wasn't sad to see it go.
  10. Your favorite type of food? To cook? Anything easy, usually Mexican. To eat? Fancy pizza, sushi and shrimp pad thai are some current faves, so I don't really have a specific type I stick to. 
  11. If you could relive one day, what day would it be? It would be a 3-way tie between the day each of my kids was born. I get so nostalgic thinking about the joy, anticipation and excitement I had on each of those days.
  12. What was your favorite childhood toy? I remember saving up my coins for a cabbage patch doll when I was little. I also fondly remember my care bears, popples, and my little ponies.
Is there anything else you want to know about me? I'm open to any questions!

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PS: you can find out more about me here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday's letters

Dear work: Dude, stop stressing me out. And lay off the endless meetings, k?

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Dear Thanksgiving break (aka 3 whole days off next week): I love you and can't wait to see you. XOXO

Dear Logan: I hope you don't start feeling this kind of wild any time soon. Do we need to have a chat about appropriate behavior?

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Dear Aidan: Sweet boy, I'm so sorry Daddy and I can't make it to your class Thanksgiving party next week (stupid work). But don't worry, Grandma Ellie to the rescue, she'll be there!

Dear Lorelai: Good job with the potty training so far, but please poop in the potty. Don't keep holding it in, child! Also, thanks for the sweet hugs!


Dear blogging gods: Please don't jinx me for talking about potty training.

Dear Tossed: Thank for the awesome mediterranean pizza that I've had *two* times this week. Yum!

Dear holiday weight gain: Please, just no. Pretty please? I promise to get better about working out if you let me enjoy my halloween candy and Thanksgiving food without bothering me.

Dear Zumba: I miss you. It's been like 3 whole weeks. I'll be back soon, I swear.

Dear Sister: Happy Birthday! I'm looking forward to celebrating with you at lunch tomorrow.

TGIF, everyone!!!!!

Linking up with Ashley from Adventures of Newlyweds.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    My kids crack me up

    Time for another installment of Lorelai-isms, because this chick continues to crack us up on the regular.


    So one day, Adam was getting dressed for work and chose some jeans (not what Lorelai is used to seeing him wear). She yelled at him saying "mommy's jeans!!" and flopped to the ground in a meltdown until he picked a different pair. (To her credit, we both have a pair of MEKs that look similar. Twinsies!)

    She also yelled at him when she thought he was using my loofah in the shower. Ha!


    She loves to get baby wipes for her baby doll, Emmy, and pull the legs back to wipe her bottom. She's very thorough. If only she could be that thorough on herself after she pees (and not use that same wipe on her face. Yeah, that happened.)

    In a conversation with Adam, I said "You're my hubby!" Lorelai heard and repeated "you're my happy?" Sounds about perfect to me :)


    Make no mistake, this girl is heavy! And I let her know it when I pick her up or have to carry her for a long time. She's started to imitate me, complete with sound effects, saying "Ergh, Emmy's so heavy" when she carries her doll and "Ergh, Lorelai's so heavy, Mommy?" when I pick her up.

    And she makes this "Ooooh" face all the time. I just want to eat her up.


    Lorelai apparently doesn't like the "p" sound, so she says things like "Fillow fet" and "i-Fad." She also says "Cinder Bella" instead of Cinderella. I don't correct her, it's just too freakin' cute.

    She also refers to herself in the third person. She'll say "that's a picture of my Lorelai" or "need a tissue for my Lorelai" or "need a band aid for my Lorelai." (Yes, she's still obsessed with band aids.)


    Lorelai isn't the only one saying the darnedest things. After Logan got his really long double-sided Darth Maul light saber to go with his Halloween costume, he was playing with it and said "it's really hard to play with this thing without hitting yourself in the nuts."


    Logan has also started saying "oh em gee" or just "oh em...". Not sure where he got that from, I really don't think I say OMG out loud like that (or maybe I do? Oops.)


    Aidan also cracks me up sometimes with the funny things he says. But lately, it's the tone of voice he's been using--sounding just like a snarky teen. On multiple occasions, I've heard him snark to Logan, "seriously, Logan? Seriously?! Did you really just ___??" Don't worry, I try not to let him see me laugh because I don't really encourage that kind of talk--it's only funny now when it's not directed at me or Adam. :)


    And thanks to at least one kid in his class (which is a story for another post, probably), Aidan is now very aware of curse words. I had music on during dinner one night and Aidan leaned over to me and whispered, "Mommy. They just said the h word." Oy. His poor innocence. But the way he whispered it so seriously to me so his brother and sister wouldn't hear was really funny.


    Kids are just so funny. So glad I've got a few of my own for some good laughs. :)

    Monday, November 12, 2012


    I've got to present some slides tomorrow at an all day meeting and I'm really nervous. I hate public speaking.

    I dodged a bullet by not having to travel to my company's main office to do the presentation in person, and I don't have to actually stand up in front of the group, but we're supposed to do a video conference and it's to a whole group of people I don't regularly work with, including a lot of senior staff. It's a big deal. I don't really know what to expect, some of the subject matter is outside of my comfort zone, and I hate public speaking. I mentioned that already, huh?

    I do have to say that I've really come a long way in terms of my ability to speak in front of people, which I'm super proud of. I used to get nervous just going around the room and giving a simple status update at staff meetings, and now I lead multiple different meetings, two of which are daily. I have conference calls all the time and don't get nervous about those. But there's just something about the context and the audience that flips a switch on my nerves. Put some VPs in the room, call it a presentation, and boom. My stomach is in knots.

    But I've got my notes and I know people are there to back me up if I get stuck, so I'm just crossing my fingers that my slides go over well and my brain continues to function through my nerves. Hmmmm, what are the odds I can convince them to order me a glass of wine with my lunch? :)


    And in an effort to take my mind off the meeting tomorrow, here's my weekly photo dump:


    Aside from almost nightly meltdowns from Lorelai, last week was good, and this weekend was really great. Highlights:
    • Amazing weather, so lots of time outside. (Who needs tennis courts? Cul-de-sac tennis FTW!)
    • I even went on a run with the boys on their bikes and Lorelai in the jogging stroller!!!
    • A family breakfast at Bob Evans.
    • A sweet sister checking on Logan who had a tummy ache.
    • An independent little lady who got herself all "ready" to go with grandma and the boys to cousin Isaiah's football game on Saturday (she was not so happy when I told her she wasn't going...)
    • Quality time with my girl while the boys were out and about with grandma.

    I'm also doing #30daysofthankful on Instagram, so I'll be sharing those photos in a post at the end of the month.

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Lady of leisure

    Ok, I could really get used to being a lady of leisure. I'm maxed out on my vacation at work and I've already started to lose hours, so since I already had an appointment for today, I figured I'd take the whole day off to shop and do whatever I want. It was good timing, too, because work is stressing me out these days. I needed some me time like whoa.

    I spent almost 2 glorious hours at Target this morning after I dropped Lorelai off and school and got the boys on the bus. Just me and my Starbucks, browsing leisurely with no one jumping out of carts, running around the aisles, asking to leave, asking for toys, etc, etc.

    Despite the semi-scowl, I was in my happy place (I was just frustrated because the funhouse mirror by the sunglasses were giving me a complex--I had to take a pic with my phone to decide which glasses I liked best) . And you better believe those are the $8 sunglasses; the $17 ones are too rich for my blood ;)

    Then I headed to my appointment, hit Old Navy for a couple of things, grabbed some quick lunch at home, and then instead of sitting on my butt the rest of the day (which would have also been really nice, but I'm all caught up on my DVR'd shows now so there was nothing to watch), I headed back out to Goodwill. I hoped to find some inspiration for a Pinterest-y DIY project or Christmas gift (oh yeah, holiday shopping is already stressing me out, too), but just ended up scoring some cheap pants for Lorelai and a couple of Christmas decorations. It was a successful trip, nonetheless.

    Those color-coordinate aisles of clothes always make me giggle for some reason.

    Truth be told, I'm actually not much of a shopaholic, because I'm cheap and indecisive, and get frustrated when I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, or can't find what I want in my price range. But you wouldn't have known that by looking in my Target cart today! The retail therapy was just what I needed this week. It was good for my mental health...and probably ended up cheaper than going to a shrink, ha!


    The moral of this story is that I can't keep going going going...doing things for work, for my family, for my home, for everyone else, without specifically carving out time in my schedule just for me. But as a mom, it's just hard to actually do, especially when your kids are still young and clingy.

    If only I had the kind of unlimited funds that not only allowed me to stay home but also to partake in as much retail therapy as I want. A girl can dream, right? It's cool, I can always schedule more days off and pretend every once in a while. :)

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Happy election day, now go vote!

    Just like the other 435,297 bloggers/facebookers/mother's cousin's uncles out there, I proudly report that I did my civic duty and voted with Adam last Friday, and urge everyone else who hasn't voted yet to do the same today.

    {alazycrazylife} I voted!

    I'm not going to get political (again) but I do think voting is important. Regardless of who you vote for, you should be informed, and make your voice heard. Since North Carolina is a battleground state, it's nice to know that my vote truly matters, which is not something I really felt during the first two presidential elections I voted in.

    (But let me just say that after today, I'm really looking forward to my Facebook feed, tv and mailbox getting back to normal! It's sad that politics always gets so dirty and people can become so openly hateful and intolerant of others' views.)

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    Currently {v.2}

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    Crazy kids. (Aidan's dressed up for wacky tacky day at school.)

    Currently, I am...

    Loving (and simultaneously loathing) the seemingly endless supply of Halloween candy we have. Particularly the mounds/almond joys, twix, butterfingers and Hershey's cookies 'n creme bars. And so the holiday weight gain begins...:(

    Looking forward to the day when Lorelai decides to stop waking up at 6:30 (or earlier!) in the morning. At that point, she wants nothing to do with sleeping, so trying to get her to lay quietly in bed with us is futile. I end up getting kicked repeatedly, my hair pulled, yelled at, and the other morning she even blew her nose into my pillow. She also sang me a lullaby, which only redeemed her a little bit, because she basically screamed it.

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    Plus side: I got to work early enough on Friday to catch this beautiful sunrise. There's no filter on that first picture.

    Cooking nothing good. Every night is a struggle to figure out something to fix for dinner, and it ususally ends up being something mexican like black beans and rice or quesadillas, or totally lame like mac and cheese. I haven't meal-planned in forever and I'm in a major food rut. Ugh.

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    My meal planning board has turned into Logan's spelling word practice board.

    Catching up on some DVR'd shows I've missed over the last few weeks. We had to switch out our old DVR boxes for new ones, and I lost like 5 different shows I taped so I've had to find them online or OnDemand. Side note: Parenthood is SUCH a good show. I never get to watch it in real time because we watch Sons of Anarchy on Tuesdays at 10pm instead, but it's always at the top of my weekend must-watch list (assuming I have time).

    Missing the warm (or even mild) weather. This is why fall isn't my favorite season--temperatures drop, which means winter is right around the corner. I hate being cold!

    Cuddling up to Adam at the bus stop.

    Feeling sick and tired and tired of being sick!! In general I don't think of myself as a sickly person, so I'm not handling this lingering cold very well at all. I think there must be something going on with my hormones that's contributing to this mess, because I feel pregnant, even though I'm not. Exhausted, emotional, sore boobs, nauseous. No fun. (Really, I swear I'm not pregnant.) I'm really hoping I'm on the upswing as of this weekend. Fingers crossed!

    What's everyone else up to?

    Linking up with This Amazing Day and Harvesting Kale.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Halloween sucks for the peanut allergic

    This is Lorelai's first Halloween that we've known about her peanut allergy (we suspected it last year, but weren't going to give her candy anyway) and after looking at her haul from last night, I realize just how disappointing this might be in years to come. There's literally almost nothing in her bucket she can safely eat.

    what she got vs. what's safe for her to eat (not sure if milk duds are safe, but they're too hard for her to chew)

    I remember back in the day, this was my ideal bucket. It's the "good" candy—none of that bubble yum or generic hard candy crap that I would almost always throw out when I was a kid (or give to my mom...).

    Of course she doesn't need the candy at all, even if it is safe, so this seems like such a petty complaint right now. But because of the boys, she's already asking for treats and she knows what her candy is, so it's hard telling her she can't have it.


    I also know that candy isn't the only fun thing about Halloween (just like Christmas isn't just about the presents), and she did have fun dressing up, trick or treating and decorating her pumpkin, but it's such a tease to tell her to go ask for candy and then take it away from her right away. It's like having her open presents and then taking them back. No bueno!


    Not sure how we'll handle this in years to come, but suggestions are welcome! In the meantime, at least Adam and I have a ton of good candy to share without feeling guilty about swiping it from the kids. :)