Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Dress

Just wanted to share some pictures we took this morning before church of Eileigh in her new dress! We had a fun little shopping excursion last week to load up on clothes in the next size up!! All on sale, of course. :) I love this outfit on Eileigh!! :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cranberry Pork Chops (Crockpot!)

Okay, so there is an official love fest occurring between my crockpot and pork chops right now. I have always been a huge fan of anything crockpot (read: simplicity) and these homegrown smoked pork chops have taken my taste buds to a whole new level. So first Pesto-Rice Stuffed, then Oranged and Acorn Squashed, and now Cranberry! I can't decide which one is my favorite... you'll just have to try them out and see! This one would have to get the prize for easiest/fastest to prepare.

Cranberry Pork Chops

6 bone-in pork loin chops (I used 4)
1 can (16 oz.) jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 c. cranberry or apple juice (I used apple)
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tblsp. spicy brown mustard
2 Tblsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. cold water
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash pepper

Place pork chops in crockpot. Combine cranberry sauce, juice, sugar and mustard until smooth; pour over chops. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours or until meat is tender. Remove chops; keep warm.
In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; gradually stir in cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minute or until thickened. Stir in salt and pepper. Serve over chops. **I didn't thicken the sauce- just served the pork chops once they were done cooking. The sauce was pretty good sopped up with some fresh sourdough bread.**

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Eileigh has taken to "cruising" along, around, and about the furniture. It's been exciting and a little bit of a relief as she can walk around somewhat on her own while she's standing. She's been fascinated with doors as of late and likes to swing them open and closed. She's also tried walking along said open doors but finds herself unbalanced and falling when they continue to swing open. I don't think she gets upset that she actually falls down- more that she's offended by the fact that she is no longer standing UP like she wants to be. My angel-like, easy going child whom I thought would grant me a beautiful replica of her father's apparently sunlit and virtually hassle-free childhood has instead seemed intent on fulfilling my mother's desperate threats throughout MY childhood, "I hope when you grow up you have a kid JUST LIKE YOU!!" It had been a decent enough threat then to make me stop whatever ill-mannered behavior I was committing, but apparently the whelming amount of my childhood crimes was too much to stay in the past and has seeped into the present and fertilized the will of my child. I am glimpsing the fulfillment of my mother's prophetic threats. When Eileigh was first born, my mom assured me (to my sense of foreboding disbelief) that Eileigh was a fighter, strong-willed, and that's why she chose to come early and did so well. I wanted Eileigh to be easy-going like her Daddy and that was easy to believe when I left the hospital with a less than 5 lb. baby that slept all the time. But I know now that we have been blessed with a happy, beautiful, spirited child.... A strong one, with a strong will. And that is okay, definitely! I know it will keep us on our knees in prayer for her like we might not otherwise do. I know God has granted to Mike and I the blessing of raising her and therefore He will give us the tools and the strength we need in curbing her will and not her spirit. And I know that some eager day I can cast out what may possibly be my favorite warning- "Be careful, you might have a kid just like you someday!!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lights, Camera.... Christmas!!

One of my favorite "anticipation" activities for Christmas is getting the house decked out in Christmas lights- technically, having Mike put the lights up since 1)It's so darn cold outside, B)He really enjoys outdoor "putzing" as I call it, 3)I sadly lack the nimble footing of a mountain goat for roof climbing... not that I've ever seen a mountain goat on my roof. However. I focus on my indoor tasks of feeding, beveraging, and keeping Mike warmed up while he lights our house outside. Eileigh has been cutting her fourth upper tooth (sixth total) and she has been quite whiny (ALmost worse than fussy) and I suspect Mike enjoyed the outside escape a little more than usual. Yesterday evening he finished with grand results! There are only a couple sections that need bulb replacements, which is great- although we do effectively project the appearance of WT until those can be replaced. (Definition of WT: the politically correct slang for the politically incorrect term of White Trash. Also referred to as Dub-T). Hopefully the lights will be fixed sooner than later... especially with the "new" truck that we just bought... pics and story to come...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


One of the joys of cooking is utilizing seasonal ingredients and both of these recipes fit the bill. The Holiday Green Beans, because hey, what's more holiday than to make green beans into a (usually) unhealthy version of themselves? (This recipe, however is nutritionally smartened up- but you'd never know it by the flavors!!) And Pork Chops & Acorn Squash- I know the squash is definitely a seasonal item but the pork chops are seasonal as well for us- since Miss Little Piggy took all summer to grow and with the Fall took up new residence in our freezer. I have never tasted pork so good as this homegrown (well, not our house but a friend of the family's) pig!!! Hopefully no one is feeling too squeamish to actually enjoy these recipes now!!! :)

Holiday Green Beans Serves 12

8 c. (about 2 lb.) cut fresh green beans
1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
2 Tblsp. butter
2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. fat-free milk
1 c. reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 c. (6 oz.) shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
1/3 c. slivered almonds
1/3 c. crushed cornflakes
1 Tblsp. butter, melted

1. Place beans in a Dutch oven and cover with water, bring to boil. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain and set aside.
2. In large skillet, saute mushrooms in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, onion and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in beans and cheese until blended.
3. Transfer to 11x7-in. (I used 9x13-in.) baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 12-16 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Pork Chops and Acorn Squash (Crockpot) Serves 6

6 (4 oz. ea.) boneless pork loin chops (I used 4 bone-in)
2 medium acorn squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 Tblsp. butter, melted
1 Tblsp. orange juice (I squeezed juice out of the orange I grated)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
3/4 tsp. browning sauce, optional

1. Place pork chops in a 5-qt. slow cooker; add the squash. Combine the brown sugar, butter, orange juice, salt, orange peel and browning sauce if desired; pour over squash.
2. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until meat and squash are tender. **May take longer/need to switch to high heat if husband accidentally unplugs crockpot instead of coffeepot at unknown time.**

Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving brought some bittersweet tears along with our expressions of gratitude. Although it has undoubtedly been the most difficult Thanksgiving I have experienced, it has also been the most rewarding as I have witnessed God at work in my life and our family. Over the last few years- perhaps as I have grown further from childhood- I've lost some of the beauty and wonder of the holidays, instead getting trapped amidst all the insignificant distractions that consume focus and time. This year I have been forced to stop and desperately seek the Giver of all good things, thanking Him for His blessings in an open-eyed way I never have before. I thank Him for His faithfulness to me and to our family.
Eileigh and I spent Thanksgiving Day with Mike at the Fire Station. He had to work Thursday and Friday so we packed up our Green Bean Casserole and headed in to Salem. The wives had organized for each family to bring a part of the Thanksgiving meal and everyone went all-out. Apparently the Mashed Potato family prepared 40 lbs. of potatoes!!! We, as previously mentioned, headed up the Green Bean Casserole department- to my great satisfaction. I had been eager to make a new recipe and was glad for the opportunity. Everything was fabulous. Every year at Thanksgiving I try a bite of stuffing- I have NEVER liked it since childhood, but think that maybe one year my tastebuds will have changed and I will be A Stuffing Eater. This year may have been the banner year- I adored the stuffing!! It was quite dry, with lots of nuts and craisins- and only Eileigh's serious need for a nap prevented me from going back for seconds. We'll see what happens next time I am confronted with stuffing; maybe it was just a fluke. Or renegade tastebuds. Hmmm.
The weather was very cold, around 42-44 degrees. We were able to get a few pictures outside before hurrying in to warm up. These have been our first pictures of Eileigh and the fire engine so we were pretty excited. The day ended with us heading home for Eileigh to take a much-needed nap.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wee Bunz

Today Eileigh and I took a trip down to Corvallis to check out Wee Bunz, the natural parenting and cloth diaper store located there. I had originally hoped to cloth diaper with Eileigh but I was unprepared for her to be born so early and sorta had my feet kicked out from under me. I mainly focused on my struggle to survive for those first few (okay, at least 3 or 4) months. By the time I felt more on top of things Eileigh had completely outgrown the sizes I had bought and so it was back to square one- and sticking with the convenience of disposables. Having recently come to the realization that Eileigh is actually going to be in diapers for quite a while longer, Mike and I discussed the pros and cons of going to cloth and decided it's definitely worth a shot! Disposables are a big expense over the long run and since we're trying to trim various areas of our finances we thought this might be a great option for us. The owner was WONDERFUL and let me exchange the covers for the size that she wears now, even though it had been almost a year since my purchase! I had a lot of fun picking out some of the covers- they're so cute! I just got a basic package so we'll try these out and see what we think and probably buy a few more if we decide we like what we've got. Eileigh did great while I shopped- although she did try to eat her barrette- I caught her right as it disappeared into her mouth!! Scared me to death but at least she let me get it out without too much fuss or fight. Speaking of Eileigh's mouth, I just noticed her SIXTH tooth glistening right below the surface- on the left upper side!! Should be making an official appearance soon!! :) Here's Eileigh modeling some of our new purchases- she is really starting to get the hang of picture taking!! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Eileigh's Fifth Tooth!!

Eileigh's fifth tooth made its appearance this morning and explained why Eileigh has been even more clingy than usual (I know, I know, hard to believe). :) We had been wondering when the next one would show up since she had gotten the first four all at once over her 7th month and here it is! I'm glad this one came in a bit easier- although it might be hard to tell since she's had an ear infection at the same time and I've just been attributing all the crankiness to that. This one is on the top right side, just next to her front right tooth!! It's so cute- you can kinda see it in the picture. And then I just had to share this pic of my sweeties!! :)

Splish Splash!!

Eileigh loves her baths and always has, even as a preemie. Must take after her mom... and grandma... although I suppose few people are truly averse to bath-taking. But still. It's been really fun to watch her enjoy various aspects of bathtime. First with splashing and playing with toys, then being fascinated with the drain. As of late she has been admiring herself in the little tub reflector. I'm sure she knows it's her own reflection and she laughs and talks and then sees me in the reflection too and grins. It's so fun to watch as she'll stare at me in the reflector and then turn to me and smile, like, "There you are!!" I love her enjoyment of simple things!! Now if I can only get her to enjoy the drying off and getting dressed part....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our favorite color: Camo

Uncle Jeff got a cute little camo outfit for Eileigh that Mike has been dying for her to wear. Today Mike had hunting on the brain (since he has been cooped up in the house with his buddy, ol' C. diff.). Proud, infatuated parents that we are, a simple picture turned into a photography session complete with props: stuffed black bear, spotting scope, GPS, and two types of cow calls. Eileigh preferred to chew on the mouth call. And the GPS. The hat pretty much drove her nuts, and I think we enjoyed that the most!! :)

The Quick and the De...licious....

Since Mike has been struggling to rid himself of his new affliction (picture the Mucinex bugs, proliferating like fruit flies, sliding through his colon like the fastest roller coaster at Thrillville), I am under strict Doctor's orders to feed him food of the bland variety. I generally try to liven up my dishes with whatever spices I think might blend together so this is a big step for me in the opposite direction. He has assured me he does not want to exist on plain organic yogurt and applesauce for the next ten days, so I am stuck trying to figure out some exciting new dishes devoid of flavor. This being said, I prepared this meal last night and it was absolutely fabulous! I decreased the amount of red pepper and took it easy on some of the other spices so it wouldn't be *too* flavorful per Doctor's orders but it still tasted great!! It also took about 10-15 minutes total from start to serve so I wanted to share such a great find!! I served these with a fresh baked sweet potato on the side (scrub, poke with fork, bake at 375 for 1 1/4 hrs). Mike told me this is in his top six for favorites (he is still unsure what the other five are).

Panko-Crusted Pork Chops with Creamy Herb Dressing
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. each salt, onion powder, ground cumin and chili powder
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 large egg white
1/3 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 (4 oz) boneless center-cut loin pork chops
1 tsp. canola oil
1 Tblsp. chopped green onions
1 Tblsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I omitted)
2 Tblsp. fat-free sour cream
1 Tblsp. fat-free milk
1 Tblsp. reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1) Preheat oven to 450. Comnine first 6 ingredients in shallow dish. Combine soy sauce and eggwhite in a medium bowl, stirring with whisk. Place panko in shallow dish.
2) Dredge pork in flour mixture; dip in egg mixture. Dredge in panko. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook 1 minute on each side. Place pork on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees for 6minutes or until done.
3) To prepare dressing, combine onions and the remaining ingredients. Serve dressing with pork. Serves:2
*You can make this meal gluten-free by substituting cornflakes for the panko.*

"Bare" with me!!!

I'm taking the plunge- and although I still don't quite feel eloquent or creative enough to do justice to the art of blogging, I have decided I can at least share snippets, juicy tidbits, big events and other occurrences of our life, in our happy little home in the city.