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.