Monday, October 29, 2012

A Meal for Monday - Parmesan Basil Tomato Soup

Okay, so after last week's disaster (DISASTERONI), I have something for you that you will actually want to try. In order to redeem my Pinterest addiction, this one also came from there, so there is actually good stuff to be found on there. You just have to be aware of the yucky stuff and the too-good-to-be-true stuff (I'm looking, nay GLARING at you, mac 'n' cheese-in-a-mug).

This week I have something really yummy for you, and I couldn't be more pleased that this recipe turned out as well as it did. The Hubs got two helpings from this and that's only because he got to the Crock Pot in a hurry before it was gone (that's right- it was GONE and with a swiftness, too!). He liked it so much that I'm actually making this again (along with some spooky grilled cheese sandwiches!) when we feed the missionaries this Halloween Wednesday. It's definitely a meal that will be getting worked into our regular winter meal rotation. Hooray!

So. All that being said, you should know that I, like many of you, am in love with my Crock Pot. Like, so in love that I want to marry it. It's my FAVORITE APPLIANCE (don't tell my Kitchen Aid. I LOVE YOU KITCHEN AID!), and not only do I love my Crock Pot itself, I LOVE the customer service over at Rival. Let me tell you a little story about why I am a Rival customer for LIFE:

I received my Crock Pot as a wedding gift (my very FIRST wedding gift, as a matter of fact!) from my bestie and I LOVED it. I had wanted one for forever and I was so excited to get getting one! So fast forward a little under three years later and the latch on the lid breaks. I was sad, but the Pot itself still works just fine. In fact, a LOT of Crock Pots aren't even made to have a lid that stays attached to the base, so it's not like it integral to the function of the Pot, it was just nice when you had to add an ingredient or something to not have to take the lid all the way off. I still loved it and it was still 100% usable.

The Hubs decided to e-mail the company to see if they could just mail us a replacement hinge so that he could fix it (he's a fixer). The company said that they don't make that model anymore, but that they would be happy to send us a replacement Pot. FOR FREE. JUST LIKE THAT. Hubs assured them that the one that we had still worked just fine, but the company insisted that it was their "mistake" and that they would make it right. So they sent me a littler one that is PERFECT for soups, breakfast items, side dishes, etc and I love THAT one TOO! It had the digital timer/heat setting function (not just the knob thing) and a Keep Warm function, PLUS it came with this genius little Velcro strap for the lid so that it won't spill if I'm traveling with it (like to a pot luck at church or something). It's EXACTLY what I wanted (I had been hankering after  second Pot since I loved my first one so much so I could do side items, etc.). I was SO impressed!!! I will never buy another brand of Crock Pot. Ever. LOVE.


I LOVE tomato soup. Love it. Especially with a lovely grilled cheese sandwich. Mmmm...there's just something so homey and comforting about that meal, especially when the temperature drops and the snow starts to fly. Imagine my delight when I found a slow cooker version of it on Pinterest! AND it was SUPER yummy! I decided to test this recipe out on my bestie and her whole family at their Sunday night get together that we always go to and it was a big hit! It was all gone and eaten up in about 15 minutes (seriously) and Hubs immediately requested that I make it again some time. I loved it too, so that was a no brainer.

Photo Credit: 
Clair Buys/BYU Magazine

From my table to yours, with love!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Meal For Monday - Reverse Recommendation

Anti-recommendation? A recommenDON'T? Whatever.

This is going to be a "This Not That" kind of post, which is the result of my being allowed to roam Pinterest at will with no restraints or outside voices of reason.

If you are feeling a hankering for quick mac 'n' cheese, make this:

NOT that:
Mac 'n' Cheese In a Mug - A NEFARIOUS LIE
This recipe is a Pinterest rock star. It is everywhere. Everyone has pinned this. 

And I am begging you, on behalf of your mugs and microwave, not to make it. 
It lies.

See that delicious mug of golden, creamy promise? Don't believe it for a second.
In the words of The Golden Girls' Blanche Devereaux:

"I'm sorry, but like the fatal blossom of the graceful jimson weed, I entice with my [delicious and arty photo] but can provide no succor."

This is the recipe:
Mac 'n' Cheese In a Mug
I saw it and thought, "Hm, those LOOK like all of the ingredients for macaroni and And the pin description had a winky face in it! Surely they wouldn't have put a winky face if it wasn't warranted. You don't just winky face things willy nilly after all! What could go wrong?"

What indeed. Turns out, the winky face was more of a "Oh my gosh, she's actually going to DO THIS! HILARIOUS! It WORKED! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" winky face.

Remember the above picture? That's what they promise you. And THIS is mine:
Delish, right? Dontcha just wanna dive right in and scrape the burned, crusted cheese off the sides to savor with the hard, uncooked noodles floating sadly in the bottom? Mmmmmmm...

 And THIS is my poor, overworked-and-underpaid microwave:
Do you have any idea what it took to scrape the cheesy, sticky, foul-smelling goo off of my normally-spotless glass turntable? DO YOU?!

Seriously. It was a macaroni disaster. A DISASTERONI.

There you go. Saving this from your table, with love.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

OrganizaFUN - New Blog Series!

I. Am. SO EXCITED. I'm starting a brand-new blog series on Thursdays that I'll do until I run out of ideas. Which should be awhile. And I seriously am geeked about it.

See...I'm an organizational NERD. I'm ridiculously Type A- a place for everything and everything in its place is my mantra. Well, one of many mantras. That pertain to cleaning and organization. There're a few. lol. Hang in there with me.

I LOVE bringing order to chaos- I THRIVE on it. It soothes my soul to take something that has no visible pattern and order and setting it right. I can't really explain it super well does one describe their own psychosis? (I kid. Kind of.) But it's deeply satisfying to me to bring things to order, to know that I made something beautifully simple and...orderly. 

This also means that I can be a bit of a control freak. Ahem. My husband me. lol. It's a good thing that I'm home full-time now to keep an eye on things and to maintain things, because I don't function well in mess. And bless his heart, he is TRYING. He makes SUCH an effort! It just doesn't come as easily and naturally (and compulsively) as it does to me. 

(hee, hee)
I had the really awesome opportunity as last weekend's Stake Women's Conference to teach a class on organization and believe me, I was in HEAVEN. Seriously, it was my favorite day. I got to bring my label maker to church. That's a good day. lol. The only regret I had about what I spoke about is that I only had an hour to teach each class. Trust me, I could go on (and on and on and on) for HOURS (DAYS!) on this subject and I think that, thanks to a LOT of friendly sources out there, I have a lot of really good ideas to share. And hey, what's a blog for, anyways?

Which brings me to my blog series! I'm calling it "OganizaFUN" because we are going to have FUN getting everything in order! You will be AMAZED at the amount of extra free time (and space!) you have when you start pruning out everything but those things that you REALLY love and using your time more wisely, and getting that to happen doesn't have to be a torturous chore! I think a lot of people put off getting organized because they think that it will suck up a TON of their time ("I just don't have the time!") or that they'll be forced to drag Great Aunt Mimi's mahogany sideboard out to the curb. I promise you, neither of those things are true in this case. I'm all about laid back organization, taking it at your OWN pace, and finding methods that work with the life you HAVE NOW rather than trying to cram one more thing into your already-stuffed-full schedule. 

So are you ready? Ready to get your time, you space, your life, and your family in line? Are you ready to ENJOY your space again? Ready to rid yourself of past feelings of guilt and failure because you tried things before that didn't work out?

Then jump on board! Join me every Thursday for tips, hints, stories, and ideas! I'm full of 'em and I LOVE to share!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wifey Wednesday: Completely Imperfect

True confession: I am FAR from being a "perfect spouse." Like, "perfect spouse" and I don't even co-habitate the same PLANET. Nay, UNIVERSE. Seriously. I feel like sometimes maybe I erroneously give off that impression by the stories I tell or the pictures I post, or whatever. Or at least I maybe give off the impression that I WANT people to think that I'm perfect. Which. I mean, that would be awesome. If it were true. AT ALL.

Unfortunately, I'm terribly, horribly, dish-water average. Most nights we don't have a gourmet dinner at our house. More often, it's a soup-from-a-can kinda night. An "Oh hey! We have spaghetti sauce in a jar! AND PASTA! TA-DA! Italian night!" kind of night. SOMETIMES I mix things up and SOMETIMES we get a little crazy with the presentation. But most of the time? Nope.

Here's the thing: I don't prance around my house singing the joys of scrubbing toilets. Or wiping down counters. Or doing the dishes and laundry. Ugh. Especially those last two. I just don't. Most of the time, I dislike doing those things. I'm not June Cleaver. I'm me.

And you know what? ME is who David married. Which means that ME is who he fell in love with. And the ME that David is is who I fell in love with.

The point is, we both have short-comings. We're both really, REALLY human. We fight. We nitpick. We get on each other's nerves sometimes. But even during those moments, I remember that I'm deeply in love with him and that HE'S the person that I really and truly cannot imagine the rest of my life without.

So it's okay that things fall apart. And it's okay that sometimes the laundry is stacked to the ceiling (I mean, it's NOT really, but it's not a deal-breaker either). And it's OKAY that I hate cleaning the shower. Like...HATE it.

It's fine. Because at the end of the day, our marriage is about SO. MUCH. MORE. It's about learning to give each other grace for our failings, even when we'd rather scream and yell and feel self-righteous about them. If we didn't have failings to begin with, where would those lessons come from? How would I learn to give anyone ELSE grace if I didn't have a family to learn from and practice on?

Because really, I think that that's a major function of family and why we are told repeatedly to love each other UNCONDITIONALLY- because when I'm being a monster and lazy (because let's face it, I really, really can be), and when I'm being COMPLETELY unloveable, the Hubs not only puts up with it, but he LOVES ME through it. Who can you say that about? I mean, really? Your boss? Your friend? The people you work with at church? I mean...ideally, yeah. But...really? Could you really, truly be your WORST SELF with most of the people you know and still have them want to see you EVERY. SINGLE. DAY?

I doubt it.

But HE does. And I do (hey, this monster thing is a two-way street!). And I know that I'm not perfect at it. Hubs and I have had some real barn burners in our day, trust me. It's not something that I'm especially proud of, but I AM proud of the way we worked PAST them. The make up part and the relationship building part, and the way we've learned to say "I'm sorry for x, y, and z. I was wrong" IS something that I'm proud of us for. 

We learn together. And we love together. Even when it sucks and even when it's hard, and even when it really, really hurts and I REALLY, REALLY think I'm right.

That's what marriage is. It's not the dress, and the flowers, and the cake and whatever else. That's the wedding, and I think that in our culture we have forgotten that the two aren't the same thing. The marriage is the big send-off party that we throw for the poor, stupid kids who think they have everything figured out and have NO IDEA what is waiting for them out there. It's so we can give them beautiful pictures to look back on when they think that they never really loved each other and OH MY GOSH WHAT HAVE WE DONE?! It's definitely not marriage.

Marriage is beautiful in its difficulty. It's complex and unique to the couple in it. It finds its dignity in its years of struggle and sacrifice and "I'm sorrys."

And that's why I love my husband. Because he loves my awful, sticky, horrible, mean, small, petty parts. The parts that act like the world is coming apart at the seams when wet towels are on the floor. The parts that take balled up socks in the laundry hamper as personal attacks. The parts that are LEARNING and GROWING and EVOLVING. I love him because he has his OWN parts that are like that, just in different ways.

And I love that we're growing together like twining vines growing next to each other. I love that we've become so alike that sometimes I can hear the way his voice sounds telling a joke in my own inflection and delivery. I love that I'm STILL learning things about him, like the fact that he hates having the sheets at the end of the bed tucked in because it makes his feet feel trapped or that he really and truly DOES have a system for organizing his clothes, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. 

And I know that at the end of a truly terrible day when everything has gone wrong and we've fought and it seems like nothing is ever going to be okay again, it is. Because he loves me. And I love him. Which means that we'll keep moving forward through the ugly together until we get to the good again. And because we did that, this time the good will be better than we've yet seen. Lather, rinse, repeat.