Adventures in Cooking: Fried Plantains

I've been trying a lot of new recipes lately, and have decided to keep track of them here. I want to try and do at least one a week, but first few weeks might be recaps of recent recipes I've tried. And since I'm normally a "can of this, can of that, cook for 20 minutes" kind of gal, trying REAL recipes that require REAL ingredients is an adventure for me (hence, the name of this post.) Some (like the homemade chicken pot pie without a can of cream of anything!!) have been wonderful. Others (like today's) have just been ok. And I'm sure pretty soon there will be some that are just awful! I just hope (and know that Mike does, too!) that those are few and far between!

So the first Adventures in Cooking installment (or AIC for short) is:
Fried Plantains (or Fried Paninis if you ask Cadence)

I've seen these on Food Network quite a bit recently, and finally decided to bite the bullet and try them myself. I found a pretty simple recipe on allrecipes.com - basically, toss sliced plantains in brown sugar, fry until caramelized, then sprinkle with salt. I figured "How hard could *that* be??" and bought some plantains when I went grocery shopping yesterday.

We decided to try them out tonight, but I'm not sure I bought plantains that were ripe enough. They were ok - had kind of a "caramel popcorn" taste to them, but they weren't the "manna from heaven" that everyone on Food Network made them out to be. Of course, I have no idea what a ripe plantain even looks like. Bananas, yes. Plantains, no. So, if anyone could give me some pointers, that would be awesome. Or, if you have a different recipe that will make them the awesome treat that everyone on the internets seems to rave about, that would be awesome, too!

Things I'm thankful for:
1) Spending a weekend away with family
2) Tax refund money
3) Loose teeth! (the 5 year old, not me!)
4) A boss that seems to appreciate me, and the work I do
5) A wonderful pediatric dentist



I tell myself every month that I'm not going to think about "The Monthly Visit", or what it could possibly mean if it doesn't show up. After all, I have this little thing called PCOS, which means my Monthly Visit could come once a month, or once every 4 or 5 months. It's all just a gamble, really.

So this month, even though my temp is up, I'm having symptoms, and it's been well over enough time, I refused to let myself think about it. Then last night, Mike asked what was wrong (I've been feeling crummy), then asked if I had taken a test, and was very nonchalant about the whole conversation. That, of course, got me thinking. And thinking just a little gets me thinking a lot. And that led to me deciding I would buy a test this weekend when I went to the grocery store, and had me daydreaming about all kinds of baby related things. I even opened my mouth and said something about the conversation to a friend of mine today.

So, of course, what happens? The Monthly Visit has decided to show up. Why do I even let myself think about the possibility of another one? Why do I keep deceiving myself into thinking it might actually happen again? Why do I let myself get my hopes up? I know it's not going to happen. I know I'm just going to get upset when The Visit comes, just like it always does. Why can't I be happy with the wonderful child that I have? Why do I have to yearn for another one? Why??

Life just isn't fair.

And as hard as this is tonight, Things I'm thankful for:
1) Cadence. Every month I realize how truly blessed we are to have her, and what a miracle her unexpected appearance was.
2) Mike
3) Homemade chicken pot pie. It was even better tonight as leftovers.
4) Tax refunds
5) DIY home renovations. 


Blogs, blogs, and more blogs!

I realized yesterday that I follow some pretty interesting people, and have just added a few more, thanks to one of the boards I visit. I wanted to share with everyone who these awesome people are, because I'm sure they love new visitors just as much as I do!

My cousin, Kahla. This is a blog about her life - her two adorable kids, her journey through IVF that allowed them to be here, and just random stuff that goes on in her life. It also includes lots of pictures of two extremely cute kids! ;)

My cousin Alisa, and her adventures with a 5 year old girly girl, and a new baby on the way (who is due in just a few weeks!)

My cousin, Natalie. She has decided to go on 100 dates in a year, and this is her (often hilarious) journey through them. Fair warning, there is some adult content. But I swear this girl should write a book. Some of these guys are real winners!

My awesome friend Michelle and her life with 4 young girls (the oldest are 7 year old twins.) I don't know how she does it most of the time, but I love hearing about the funny things that her 4 girly girls do.

My friend Laura, and a blog about her life. She has been doing things I only dream about (like, making her own mozzarella cheese, for example), and she makes me insanely jealous at how creative, patient and loving she is!

Definitely one of the funniest sites I check. Since my grandmother owned a bakery, some of the wrecks she showcases hit really close to home!

A wonderful site that's updated once a week with some of the cutest edible creations around! This girl is a genius, and she makes everything look so simple! I've tried a few of the recipes, and her site is where I got the idea for the spice rack.

This is run by a graphic designer who loves the color orange, and is extremely artistic and talented! There are always fun games, cute craft projects, and tons of orange items posted!

I found her story through stumble, here, and after reading it, had to go check out her blog as well. It's a truly inspirational story, and definitely worth the read.

A new one, and one I wish I had found much sooner! The way she writes is hilarious, and I promise you will be entertained!

Another new one, that seems to be sorta like mine - a little mix of everything! Only she writes much better than I do!

And I'm sure I've forgotten quite a few! If anyone knows of others I should add, please let me know. I'm always looking for more to add to my list!

I'm thankful for:
1) A three day weekend
2) Cadence is reading! And enjoying it! And it's not a fight!
3) Sleep. I actually got some last night, and Cadence is doing it right now.
4) Clean sheets.
5) The warm weather. It was in the 60s today and is supposed to be tomorrow, too.


Cooking 101: How To Make Cookies Like A 5 Year Old

First, you have to show off your new apron and chef's hat, and also the mixer.

Next, add butter...


brown sugar and vanilla.

Add the eggs (mixing well!)

then the flour.

Stir in the chocolate chips (the best part!)

Then put them on the cookie sheet.

Last, but not least, you clean up...



And show off the cookies when they are finished!


Good news and bad news...

Bad news first:
  • Cadence didn't sleep any last night, and since she was sick, wanted to be in my bed. That means I didn't sleep any, either.
  • I had to cancel a dentist appointment, miss over half a day of work and spend money at the doctor's office to find out that Cadence most likely had an 8-12 hour stomach bug and is on the mend.
  • I was at work late to make up the time that I missed since I was home taking Cadence to the doctor.
  • I found out that in a meeting this morning, some concerns were brought up about my work performance and productivity. Not something you want said when 2 of your 3 head bosses are new.
  • More stuff has been brought to us at work, and no hope at the moment of any help (goes back to the productivity issues earlier)
  • Mike had to watch Cadence today, and wasn't happy about her having to spend about 4 hours at work with him. Especially since they have no heat, and he had customers.
  • I think I'm starting to get the bug that Cadence had.
Good news:
  • Work actually has water pressure again.
  • Thankfully Cadence isn't seriously ill and will probably be able to go back to school tomorrow.
  • I received my W2 today
  • My first paycheck of the year was a little more than I was expecting (because witholdings weren't as much, not because of a raise.)
  • I got a freelance job that should be fun.
  • Mike watched Cadence so I could stay at work and not get in any more trouble.
I'm hoping tomorrow will be better.

I'm thankful for:
1) A little extra money! Yea!
2) A freelance job that lets me be creative.
3) I know my daughter isn't seriously ill and is on the mend.
4) Tomorrow is Friday, then I'm off for 3 days straight.
5) Long, hot showers. I needed one after today.


It's been surreal...

It's been a crazy few days around here.  We got the spice "sprinkle" rack finished (see last post), and I think my private little corner of the world has had more visitors in the last few days than it's had the whole time it's existed. I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. I've also learned that people can be total asses when they can be completely anonymous on the internet (hence the reason you now have to log in to comment.) I received a few rude, unnecessary comments that I'm sure the person posting them wouldn't have said to a total stranger's face, but for some reason it's completely okay to do it safely hidden behind a computer screen, and I realized something while trying to come up with suitable responses to them. This is MY blog; MY little corner of the world, not theirs. I don't have to defend or explain myself to anyone! It doesn't matter if the content isn't earth shattering, or is downright boring, it's important to me. I guess since no one but family and a few close friends has checked in here until now, I never really thought about it. It was quite an eye opening experience.

In state news, it seems that the current answer to "Does Mississippi even have running water??" is NO. Because of the crazy weather we've been having (windchill of 8. Get that? EIGHT!!! In MISSISSIPPI!!), the City of Jackson had somewhere around 80 breaks in water lines. The capitol and all state offices have been closed since Monday afternoon, all schools in Jackson, Byram and Terry have been out, and the preschool Cadence goes to hasn't had class. Unfortunately, I've still had to be at work, but the water pressure is REALLY low, and there are signs on all the water fountains telling us that we can't drink the water. It's been crazy around work the last few days, but at least the traffic  while going in is light!

Because of school being out, Cadence had to go to work with me until lunch today. She had been telling me her stomach hurt, but it started once it was getting time for her to go to the babysitters. I thought part of it was a put on, just to stay with me. However, on the way there, she threw up in the car. Three times. In a span of about 5 seconds. And to make it even worse, we were stuck at a red light about a mile from the house, and there were cars all around. I felt so bad because she had to ride with it all over her until we got home, but I couldn't pull over because I didn't have anywhere to stop or anything to clean her up with. I put her straight in the tub when we got home, and she told me that she felt better and was "overjoyed. Which is a fancy word for really happy!" (yes, we DO read too many Fancy Nancy books. Why do you ask?) Apparently she wasn't overjoyed enough, because she threw up quite a few more times before the afternoon was over. She's finally stopped, but now has fever, and it looks like I'll be home with her again tomorrow.

Tonight I had to go back to work after Mike got home, because there were a few things that had to get finished - like the Sunday bulletin! I was there from 4:45 to about 9:00, and was able to get most of my work done. Stacey was there with me, and I just love her. I was shocked when I first started and found out she's over 10 years older than I am, but I think we work together well. Our sense of humor is the same, we both love SEC football, and neither one of us can stand stupid people. I normally don't get to spend more than 2-3 hours with her, and we're usually crazy busy the entire time. It was nice to spend close to 4 with her tonight and talk some. She also has a meeting with our new boss tomorrow, and is going to bring up hiring another person to help us. We're SO overwhelmed, and really need at least a part-time person to come in. I'm so thankful for the job, but never knew that a church would have quite this much work for me. Keep your fingers crossed that they get us some help, or I may be posting this from a pretty white room soon!

And to end this long rambly post, Cadence is now fascinated with anything having to do with New Orleans or Mardi Gras since seeing The Princess and the Frog (twice.) She convinced me to buy a cheap, grocery store king cake the other day (and now I want a real one!), is actually trying jambalaya and gumbo because it's stuff Tiana would make, and loves, loves, loves Mardi Gras masks. We got a little carried away in the store trying them on, but I have a feeling a few will be appearing at the house before Fat Tuesday actually gets here!





And my favorite

We have some friends in Louisiana that are going to try and get me the dates for the parades through their town, so we might try to take her to one. I know she'd have a blast!

Please keep your fingers crossed that the meeting goes well tomorrow, and that Cadence is finally feeling better!

I'm thankful for:
1) A healthy little girl. I know things could be so much worse than throwing up and a little fever. Overall, this really isn't bad.
2) So much work that it guarantees job security.
3) Mike. He watched Cadence so I could go back to work, didn't call 45 times to see if I was done yet, and had the kitchen cleaned when I got home. I just love him.
4) I get to sleep late in the morning
5) That the water pipes should be fixed soon and we'll have enough water pressure to flush toilets at work again.


DIY: Magnetic Spice Rack

I found this post at Bakerella over a year ago, and since then I've been determined to do this myself. There are a few problems, though.
  1. I have a very tiny kitchen, and not enough wall space for a traditional spice rack
  2. I have limited counter space, so a counter spice rack is out as well. (and besides, most of them are positioned so that you can't really see what's in the bottles, which kinda defeats the purpose of this project.)
  3. Even if I did happen to find room for a traditional spice rack, most of them only hold 12 or 15 bottles. And I have WAY more sprinkles than that!
While looking online for spice racks, I came across this:

A Magnetic Spic Rack
(image from www.silvernutmeg.com)

This would be absolutely perfect for my really tiny kitchen! However, the cheapest one I could find that would hold enough sprinkles was $130. Yes, that's right. One hundred thirty dollars! I am very cheap, broke and have a child, so the idea of spending that much on a spice rack is pretty much inconceivable. However, I am fairly crafty, so I decided to make one myself. I found a tutorial here, and set to work finding the supplies.

Here's what you need:
1 piece of 26 gauge metal in the size you want (mine was 12x24 inches and I bought it at Lowe's)
Watchmaker cases (I used 24 53mm cases and ordered them from Lee Valley Tools)
Magnets - 1 for each case (I used 1 inch size from Lowe's, they come 6 to a pack)
Super glue
4 screws and a drill that will go through the metal

First, when the cases arrived, I took them out and took the lids off off all of them. I found out that some of the lids fit better if you turn them slightly, so I tested them all to make sure I wouldn't have sprinkles everywhere.

Next I let Cadence help me fill them with sprinkles and put the lids back on. The one downside is that these containers don't hold nearly as many sprinkles as a bottle would, but that's a trade off I was willing to make because of space issues. You probably should do this *after* you get the magnets on, but I wanted to make sure the magnets would be strong enough to hold them. The first pack I bought wasn't, and I had to return them. Also, since the magnets are smaller than the containers, I didn't want to risk them tipping when I filled them.

After they are all filled and the lids are securely on, flip them over and superglue a magnet to each one. Be careful, though. I ended up with almost as much glue on me as I did on the magnets, but it held them really well once it dried.

Next, Mike got his drill and we drilled holes through the metal into the wall. After the four holes were drilled, we took the metal down and put anchors in, then screwed the metal into the anchors. Just be REALLY careful drilling the holes. The metal slipped slightly while we were doing it, and now there's a slight buckle in the metal (kinda like when you hang a poster slightly crooked. It's just not quite lining up.) It's not noticeable, though, so I left it.

After the metal is screwed in, attach the containers! I filled all 24, and still have a few sprinkles I didn't use. I'll probably order a few more (the size metal I got will hold close to 50 if you line them up right), but for now I added a few magnets and some recipes to fill in the rest of the space. I'm SO happy with how it came out!

A close up of some of the sprinkles. So pretty!

Total cost:
Metal - $6
Watchmaker cases - $12
Magnets - $8
Super glue - $1.50
Total - $27.50

Much cheaper than the one offline, and it holds more as well!


Happy New Year!

I’m sitting here at work, waiting to hear how the weather is going to turn out (could be ice! could be snow! could be nothing but gross, yucky, cold rain!), and thinking about the coming year. My house is somewhat back to normal, all 13 of the new barbie dolls have found a home (mostly in Cadence’s bed. Yes, she sleeps with every one of them at night. I need to get a picture soon.), and the routine at work is slowly returning.

January 1 brought not only a new year, but a new boss, new expectations, and new challenges. Having a new boss means that we’re trying to figure him out, and him us; him learning what we’re capable of, and us learning what he expects, and both of us trying to balance this new information and new roles with the feel and congregation at the church. I’m curious (and slightly scared and worried) to go through this change, and I’m eager to see where we end up at the end of it.

Cadence is still having issues at school, and it scares me for “big school.” If she takes a swing at a teacher, or gets in fights with classmates, or mutters stuff under her breath there, they will expell her. I know that with the amount of kids they’ll have at the school next year, they won’t have time to deal with her being a snot. Her class next year will probably have somewhere around 20 kids in it. Her class this year has 9 - only 18 kids total in Kindergarten. August is going to bring a HUGE change, and a major adjustment for all of us. The only spark of hope I have is that she’s doing excellent in school. She’s learning to write sentences, starting to read, and doing really well with math. If we could just get the tantrums under control, we’d be set.

I’ve recently jumped on board the “I wanna be debt free!!!” bandwagon. Right now we don’t have an enormous amount of debt, even including the house. If we buckled down, I bet we could do it (all but the house) in 2 years or less. It would definitely take some work and sacrifice, but I do believe we could do it. Problem is, Mike isn’t quite there yet. For example, my Christmas bonus went straight into savings. I wanted a purple Kitchenaid mixer SO bad, but I knew that the right thing to do was to save it. Mike sold some stuff and got about the same amount of money. His went to buy some stuff for his Jeep and a TMaxx. We’ll be getting a refund in February, and I’m wanting to either save it all, or use it to get new counters/cabinets or new floors. Mike wants a vacation. I would love to have the majority of our bills paid off by next year, but it’s going to take both of us to make that happen, and that might be a long time coming.

I’m still wanting another child, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. It would be great to end the year with a new baby at the house, but 1) I still don’t think Mike really would like another, 2) I’m kind of enjoying having an independent little one and 3) I’m really scared to try again. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. I don’t know right now, and don’t even really know which I would rather have.

I also plan on finding a church. II would love for it to be one that all of us go to together, but I’m tired of waiting on him to make a decision. I’m determined to find a place where we can be comfortable and happy and get involved, and I’ve decided to do that with or without his input. But hopefully it’s with. I really really want it to be with.

Well, I have work to finish, so I guess this is enough rambling for now. I hope everyone reading has a safe, happy and prosperous new year! And because I’m a copycat, I’m stealing my cousin’s idea of things she’s thankful for. My list for today:

1) A warm house to go home to
2) remote start in my car so that it’s not freezing when I get in
3) A job that I enjoy, even if it is unpredictable at times
4) My daughter. Good or bad, mean or sweet, I love her to pieces
5) 5 year old’s artwork. The one I got yesterday is of me as a princess. I love it!