Monday, September 24, 2012

Still here...with a hiccup or two.

I'm still here, I promise. School has started up again, and I'm enrolled in 2 classes this semester. I am loving every minute of it! Well, except for that one minute where I had a test that I thought was the next class period....Thankfully, I'd done the reading. Hey, look at that! I actually DO my homework these days! Hopefully that won't send Mom into cardiac arrest. :)

My classes are at the community college. I actually graduate with an associate's this semester in General Transfer Studies...oooooooh. Sounds so...useful. Ha. Well, it means when I enroll at UMSL next semester, all my general education requirements are fulfilled and I can focus on my major, which will be beautiful. And, it's a heck of a lot less expensive than doing a full degree at a four-year university.

So, I'm majoring in English, with an emphasis on creative writing. I'm really excited. I LOVE to write, although I certainly have room for a vast amount of improvement. But that's what I'm looking forward to! Once we're finished having kids and they're all in school, I will go back for my RN/BSN. I want to be a burn nurse! That's the master plan. But right now, Brett and I both feel very strongly that I need to be with our kids. I love being a mom, and these early years are so important. Nursing school is really intensive, with the classes, long hours of study, clinicals, and then the exam. PLUS, once you actually get your license, you have to have a certain number of continuing education credits every year and work a specific minimum of hours to keep up your skills. Really, it is a LOT of work. So for now, I'm following my OTHER dream, and doing it happily and with gusto!

Our little hiccup is that our computer...crashed. It just...I don't even know. It stopped taking us to the login page, and then would say it was trying to fix itself, but then go blank, and now it won't even do that. Fortunately, Brett's parents gave us their old laptop a couple of months ago, so we're not completely out of touch.

My major freakout is that ALL of our pictures are on the other computer. All of them. Since we got married. Every. Single. Picture. Our wedding photos. (Which I do have backed up.) Our honeymoon, our trips, parties, silly pictures of our cat. Pregnancy and childbirth x 2. Both kids. None of which are backed up. Which is completely my fault, which is why I am now freaking out. We'll probably fork out the money shortly to take it somewhere and pray that they can fix it or at least recover stuff from the drive. But facing the prospect of losing all those memories just kills me.

Also, this older computer doesn't (at least that I can find) directly accept the SD card from my camera, so for now, I can't upload any additional pictures.

Sorry, guys. You're stuck with boring, all-text posts for now. I guess you'd all better pray we can get the computer fixed! :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Please tell me that's not what it looks like....

So, I meant to post this a while back but I forgot.

Brett and Amy had a little surprise waiting for me when I got home from camp in August.

I walked in, saw it, and had that brief moment when I thought "Oh my gosh, PLEASE tell me that's not what it looks like." I'm sure I had a rather horrified look on my face.

Wouldn't you?

This looks terrifyingly like a slightly more supervised Picasso incident. Chuckling at the look on my face, Brett reassured me that it was, in fact, brown paint, and not the "all-natural" alternative.

In retrospect, it's cute and funny. But my heart definitely skipped a beat.

Allez cuisine!

I have an obsession.

Iron Chef America.

Has anyone else ever watched this show? It's mesmerizing! Now that we have an actual cable package, I record episodes of it and watch them in the evening with Brett. It's just so interesting! Fast-paced, creative, competitive, and most of all, all about FOOD. What could possibly be better? It's really encouraged Brett and me to get a little more adventurous and creative in the kitchen.

Recently on Pinterest (yeah, I'm typing that word a lot tonight) I found a blog about date nights. This woman and her husband have a weekly date night, and she blogs about it. A lot of them cost little to nothing, and there are really some fun ideas on there. One of the ideas was to do a double date, and have an iron chef competition!

We couldn't resist.

So, we enlisted the help of our good friends, David and Karen Walker. We just love the Walkers, and look forward to our game nights complete with Fitz's root beer floats. This was a little different than our usual night together. We changed the game a little bit, and I'm not sure if I love the changes we made or not. But. Here's the general idea.

We knew we were having burritos for dinner, that was set and wasn't going to be messed with. We decided to make 2 dishes each, one appetizer/side and one dessert. Each couple had a different "secret ingredient" for each course, so there were 4 different ingredients. I think next time we'd do the same one, it made it a bit confusing for our judges.

Walkers--black beans


And the game began! (After a quick shopping trip to pick up a few ingredients)

David and Karen came up with the coolest little concept ever. It tasted good, and it was beautiful.

The beauty you see before you is a homemade salsa, on top of sliced avocado, on top of a fried black bean patty, on top of a tortilla chip. It was FABULOUS. I could've eaten the whole plate myself, pretty easily.

Our appetizer was greatly improved by Brett's plating idea.

This would be a chilled avocado-cilantro soup served in red bell peppers, garnished with tomato and a sprig of cilantro. (Is it a sprig?) It was pretty good, but looked fantastic in the hollowed-out peppers. I do wish we'd cleaned up the plating a bit, though.

The desserts were pretty darn good, and I'm sad I forgot to take pictures until it was too late. The Walkers made little honey cookies, which were drizzled with honey over the top. They were so tasty! Plus, I'm a sucker for cookies.

Brett and I made dessert taquitos--a whipped chocolate cream cheese filling, wrapped in a tortilla sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, fried, and then drizzled with a spicy chocolate sauce. They were delicious! I would honestly make them again.

The Walkers won the appetizer, and we won the dessert. Overall, I think we technically beat David & Karen by, like, 0.2. Next time we'll specify to the judges that only whole points are allowed. :D Win or lose, it was a blast and I can't wait to do it again!

Oh, my....yummy.

So, I've been trying to branch out a little in my cooking lately. Not, like, crazy branch out. More like, let's try some things I haven't made before. So we've been having some fun in the kitchen lately.

In addition to my peach cobbler that made me think I'd died and gone to heaven, I made a really yummy dinner the other night. Homemade fried catfish and hushpuppies. Yum! I like catfish, and it was on sale, so Brett bought some. And now I'll let you in on a little secret.

I adore hushpuppies.

Like, I REALLY adore hushpuppies. I could easily eat them once or twice a week. They're completely unglamorous. They're simple. They're just...fried batter. But, oh my goodness, are they delicious.

I've found that with the foods I really like, I am INCREDIBLY picky. Like with my cobbler. So, I'm also really picky about my hushpuppies. I like them a little on the sweet side, and I've found that a lot of hushpuppies aren't sweet, and honestly don't taste like much of anything. So, I used this recipe as a base and adjusted it slightly by added a bit more dried minced onion, and adjusting the sugar to 1 TBSP instead of 1 1/2 tsp.

They were PERFECT. And remarkably easy. And I want more.

The catfish was pretty good. It was better when Brett sprinkled some more Tony's on top, so next time I'll add more spices to the flour dredge.

Definitely drool-worthy. Yum.

A, B, or C?

Recently, Brett's Facebook status update read thusly:

Arrive home from work to find homemade peach cobbler waiting for me. Pop quiz: Is Laura
A. An amazing homemaker that likes to do nice things for me.
B. Buttering me up so I will say yes to something.
C. All of the above.
Whatever the answer I appreciate the dessert.

Technically speaking, the answer was pretty much A, although my statement would have been far more modest! I do like to do nice things for Brett, and with school having started recently, we've both been a bit more stressed than usual. We had some peaches that I'd been ripening, and then were at that perfect stage of exactly-ripe-but-will-be-bad-by-morning-so-you'd-better-do-something. Peach cobbler sounded good, so off to Pinterest I went.

I love Pinterest.

So, I found a recipe that sounded really good. I'm pretty picky about my cobblers. I find a lot of cobblers have one of two undesirable toppings, with a very narrow margin having what I feel is an acceptable topping. What's a bad topping, you may ask? Well, either it is 1) like a biscuit, which does NOT belong on top of my delicious, sweet cobbler, or 2) oatmeal-y and strange.

This topping? Not like that. It's light, semi-crumbly, and topped with exactly the right amount of cinnamon sugar. Delicious.

I totally meant to photograph the cobbler, but I was at class all evening, and then we were busy eating it. So, I got a quick shot before we polished it off tonight. I'm amazed it lasted 24 hours. It was AMAZING.

Want the recipe? Here's the link! It's from a woman's blog, so I won't copy & paste the recipe, but it is definitely worth a look.  Perfect Peach Cobbler