Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

After dinner last night, the little guy and I were hanging out downstairs.  He asked if he could watch a Mickey Mouse DVD.  It's his latest obsession and it's gotten to the point where I cringe every time he asks to watch it.  I literally go through my work day singing the songs from the show and it's to the point of crazy!

As soon as our feet hit the playroom, he said "mommy, can we watch Mickey Mouse?"  I sighed, turned on the DVD player and parked myself on the couch.  Next thing I knew, the little guy grabbed a blanket, came over to where I was sitting and said "mommy, will you snuggle with me?"

Seriously - it was one of my favorite moments ever.  We snuggled on the couch watching the movie and had a wonderful time.



Today, I'm thankful for that snuggle time.  And that Mickey Mouse movie?  It didn't seem so bad this time around.

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Me vs. Turkey


Happy Wednesday! 

You know, despite the fact that I enjoy cooking, I can't, for the life of me, cook a turkey.  Not because it's physically impossible for me, but the thought of cleaning out the turkey, giblets and all, grosses me out.  I just can't bring myself to get past it.

This year I had the option of getting a free turkey, turkey breast or Stouffer's lasagna because I earned points from grocery shopping.  I typically pick the lasagna because it's insanely good.  The downside, though, is that it's also insanely loaded with calories and fat.  My mom convinced me to try cooking a turkey breast.  I bit the bullet, claimed my free turkey breast and cooked it over the weekend.

We had it for the first time last night and served it with wild rice mixed with veggies.


As with almost every lesson I've learned in my life, my mom was right.  It cooked in the oven for a few hours and was easy as pie.  I'm glad I have this experience under my belt.  Giblets, on the other hand, will just have to wait for another day.

Question of the Day:
Have you ever cooked a "full" turkey or chicken?  

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving and Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Mine was good.  We spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws.  While I hate that I don't get to see my family on Thanksgiving, the trade-off is that I get to spend Christmas day with them.  I feel like it's a small sacrifice and so to my in-laws we went.

The little guy took his nap on the way over to their house.  They were eating early, and we didn't want to arrive right at dinnertime, so we opted to have him nap in the car.  His usual 1.5-2 hour nap was cut short to 40 minutes, but in spite of that, he did really well.  He got to see his cousins, and it's amazing to see what a difference a year makes.  Last year the hubby and I were constantly attached at the hip to the little guy - we didn't want him to get hurt or touch things he shouldn't be touching (i.e. electrical sockets).  This year, however, the little guy and my nephews were running around the house, playing tag, watching tv.....being complete boys.



Over the weekend we put up our Christmas decorations and decorated the tree.  The Elf on the Shelf came to visit us for the first time this year.  Basically, the elf is sent from Santa to watch over the kids in your house.  Each night he goes back and reports to Santa whether or not the child was good or bad.  There's a whole story that goes with the elf - it's really adorable.  I wasn't sure if the little guy would be afraid or not, but it turns out that he thinks the elf is really neat.

One of the first things the story tells you to do is to name your elf so he can begin working his magic.  We talked about all of the different names he could have but the little guy chose this profound name - Elf the Boy.  Yup, he's creative, folks!


That was my week in a nutshell.  I can't believe the Thanksgiving break is over already!

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time! 
~Anne Marie 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Grandpop!

Happy Monday! 

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  Mine was both relaxing and productive.  I love weekends like that!  Bonus - this is a short work-week for me.  With Thanksgiving on Thursday, I took off on Wednesday and our office is closed Friday.  I'm pretty excited about that!

So today is a special day in our family - today, my grandpop would have been 87 years old.  He passed away when he was the 63 from cancer, and while I was only 7 years old when he died, I still remember bits and pieces about him.  

My grandpop was a plumber by trade.  After he retired, he still made house calls and didn't charge his customers.  In fact, there was one Christmas Eve where he spent some time installing a hot water heater for someone.  He was just that kind of a guy.  

Speaking of Christmas, my grandpop used to dress as Santa Claus for underprivileged children and he would also be the Santa Claus in the neighborhood.  I remember him dressing as Santa for his grandchildren - he made an awesome one, even though I was afraid of him!

Of all of the things I remember about my grandpop, the one thing that sticks out the most is how much faith he had.  He used to go on retreats at Malvern Retreat house and attended daily Mass.  I remember when he came home from retreat one year and called me over to sit on his lap.  He told me he had something for me and he handed me glow in the dark rosary beads.  I thought they were the cat's meow.  I used to keep them in my pencil case during school hours and when I was particularly stressed, I would take them to bed with me and say some prayers. 

He had a gentle spirit and a kind heart.  Whenever he would see his grandkids, he would squeeze our cheeks harder than you could ever imagine and give us the best hugs in the world.  Unfortunately I don't have any scanned pictures of him, so I had to steal this one from my grandmom's facebook.  Yup, my 85 year old grandmom has facebook - how cool is she? 

Grandmom and Grandpop at Aunt Nette's Wedding

When I was preggo and the hubby and I were going back and forth with names, I asked what he thought of having a middle name of Peter (my grandpop's name).  My hubby gave the green light, and when our little guy was born, we named him John Peter.  I like to think that the little guy has some of my grandpop's spirit in him, and I see it most when he smiles.

I'm not sure if I'll get back to posting here before Thanksgiving, but if not, I want to wish all of my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving!

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Has this week been dragging for anyone else?  Maybe it's because I know next week is a shorter week, but it feels like it's taking forever!

Today, I'm thankful for TV shows that make me laugh.  Sometimes I take life too seriously, get too anxious over the little things.  There aren't too many shows that I'm into, but these two make me laugh the most:

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Modern Family and The Office are my favorite!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chinese Food at Home

Happy Wednesday!

It's no secret that I love Chinese food.  In fact, if it were acceptable for my waistline, I'd probably eat Chinese food almost every day of the year.  My favorites include sesame chicken, sweet and sour chicken and general tso's chicken.  I've tried making my own Chinese food following different recipes along the way, but nothing really tasted like authentic Chinese food....and every recipe had an ingredient that I didn't have in my house.  

I've been holding onto this recipe for far too long and it was finally time to test it out.  I first found it on Pinterest, and the description promised that it would be the "best make at home Chinese food you can find." I shrugged my shoulders and took a look at the recipe.  At first glance, I noticed I already had every single ingredient in my house already.  Score one for me!  Second bonus?  It didn't take a huge amount of time to make from start to finish. 

I followed the suggestion of making extra sauce and I am glad I did.  One batch of sauce will definitely work for the chicken, but if you like to spoon some over the rice, you'll need to make extra sauce.


I served mine with brown rice, but next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I'll add some steamed broccoli as well.  I'm not kidding when I say that this tasted exactly like take-out food. The sauce was a little bit tangy and spot on.  This one's a keeper!

Here's the recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe:


Sweet and Sour Chicken
from melskitchencafe.com
*Note: if you like extra sauce, double the sauce ingredients - pour half over the chicken and follow the recipe instructions; pour the other half in a small saucepan and cook the sauce on the stovetop at a simmer for 8-10 minutes until it reduces and thickens. Serve it on the side of the chicken.
*Serves 4-6
INGREDIENTS:
Chicken:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
Sauce:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Put the chicken into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat the chicken. Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie plate. Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip each piece over to cook on the other side until nicely golden but not all the way cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken in the baking dish. Bake for one hour, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce. Serve over hot, steamed rice.

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite thing to order from a take-out restaurant?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Party Recap

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Mine went pretty well - can't believe we're back at Monday again.  Where is the time going?

On Saturday my brothers and I headed down to my mom's house to celebrate her birthday.  It's always a good time getting the kids together.


The little guy and my nephew couldn't wait to help my mom open her gifts.  My niece was excited to play with the boxes.  My brothers and I got my mom a Keurig Machine, a refillable k-cup and a mug with pictures of our family and the kiddos.  She loved it!



After the presents were opened, we tried to get a picture of my mom and her grandkids.  This is always a fun moment because literally everyone without a camera stands behind those with cameras and jump up and down trying to get the three of them to at least look at the camera.  Smiles are encouraged but clearly they are optional.


Of course my brothers and I had to get in on a photo as well.  I still don't understand how my younger brother is taller than all of us.  It's ridiculous!


Sidebar - can I just say how much I love leggings?  Why oh why did I wait for so long before getting in on this trend? 

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday


Happy Thursday!

Yesterday, the Philadelphia region was forecasted to get some snow and some areas were set to get up to 6 inches.  Umm....excuse me?  It's November! Snow isn't supposed to happen yet! 

This morning when I woke up, there was no snow on the ground, and today, I'm thankful that the snow stayed away.


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As a kid I used to love the stuff but now that I actually have to commute in it, I can't stand it!  I'm going to bask in the no-snow glory - I don't know how much longer it'll last though - it's supposed to be a rough winter!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Very Special Happy Birthday

Today is my mom's birthday.  Happy birthday, Mom!

My mom is the most person I know.  She's kind, thoughtful and always puts everyone else ahead of herself.  I think there should be more days in the year to celebrate how wonderful she is and how much she means to everyone around her.



I never appreciated how great of a mom she is until I became a mom myself.  I never realized the sacrifice, tears, joy, worry and happiness that comes with being a parent.  Sometimes, after having a rough day with the little guy, I sit back and think about how my mom did it with the three of us.  How she seldom lost her patience even when my younger brother was upset because I was looking at him the wrong way.  You can bet that I've gotten in trouble for looking at my brother, and now all I can do is smile and laugh because I get it.

Along with being a phenomenal mom, she's also an outstanding grandmom.  My son loves her so much and would much prefer hanging out with her rather than me.  This may or may not be because he gets lots of treats at my mom's house.


So, happy birthday to the best mom in the entire world! I love you!

Question of the Day:
Who's the most inspirational person in your life?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hold Your Horses!

Happy Monday!

I hope you had a fabulous weekend!  Mine was spent running some errands, spending some quality time with my mom and grandmom and hanging out with the hubby. 

So what's that blog title all about, you're wondering?  Well - let me tell you!  I went food shopping on Friday and the first thing I noticed was the huge stack of Christmas-themed candy right where the Halloween candy was the week before.  After walking down a few aisles, half of one which was specifically Christmas oriented, I started thinking about why this season is rushed so much.  As I was leaving, I noticed some workers putting up the lighted snowflakes outside of the store along with other winter decorations.  

I put it out of my head until Sunday, when we were driving home from Church and saw a business with wreaths and garland on their doors and windows.  I did a double-take.  Seriously?  We've just gotten over Halloween and instead of gearing up for Thanksgiving and focusing on being thankful, there are those that are focusing on the holiday season, getting the best deal on a certain product and the like. My aunt told me this morning that when she was in Old Navy two Christmas songs came over the airways....I just can't handle it!

The earlier the holiday season starts, the earlier I start to resent it.  Call me a Grinch, but I'd like to focus on Thanksgiving before focusing on Christmas! 




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Growing up, my mom always had a rule that the Christmas tree never went up until after my birthday.  I have a mid-December birthday and I could never understand what the big deal was, but now I completely get it.  Thanks, Mom, for always making my birthday separate from Christmas.  Thank you for never rushing the holiday season and for always keeping me in check.

I'm going to be a little bit of a Grinch at least until Thanksgiving is over.  Anyone else with me or am I being a little bit unreasonable?

Question of the Day:
When do you start celebrating the holidays?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Today, I'm thankful that Halloween was a success for the little guy.  He was dressed up as Woody from Toy Story.  He couldn't wait to knock on the houses and say "trick or treat!"





We allowed him to pick out one piece of candy to eat when we came home.  This was his face after eating his Hershey bar.  The Air Head he's holding is part of the candy we gave out to other trick-or-treaters.


The little guy had so much fun!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie