Sunday, January 27, 2013

Turning One

I went to a birthday party for a cute baby-face baby tonight.  It was the First One – you know when you turn that all important ONE. 

It all started – for me, at least – on a cold January Wednesday night in 2012 when I broke a state law (not to mention my own strict rule) and answered my cell while I was driving and heard “He’s here.”
Now, he’s been here for a whole year!

And what fun it’s been!  Well, at least the last six months have been fun – when I knew he could hold his head up and I couldn’t break him. 
I am in no way hugely important to him nor do I pretend to play any major role in his life – most certainly not the role of diaper changer – but I’ve been along for a little bit of the ride this year and it’s been amazing.

First, there were his firsts – I was there when he went to his very first sports bar (for my birthday), I was there when he went to Texas Roadhouse for the first time – and ended up experiencing his first parking lot picnic, I was there when he celebrated Easter for the first time – as much as any baby laying on a floor can celebrate, and I was there when he sat on a mall Santa’s lap for the first time. 
Then there were my firsts – certainly not as monumental – holding him for the first time, holding him unassisted for the first time, holding him unassisted and not shaking for the first time.  Seriously, are there no instruction manuals for kids these days?!

He’s learned so much in this past year and so have I!  Most importantly, that babies don’t break. 
It’s been amazing to watch him grow and develop and now understand the world around him! 

He giggles when something’s funny.  He knows the difference between a hand and a hand wearing a glove.  He brings you things that you tell him to go get.  He can turn on cell phones.  He can text me.  

He’s done this much – and more – and he’s only ONE! 

I can’t wait to see what Year Two brings!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What's for Dinner?

Six down, seven to go for the “Cook 13 meals at home” goal!  Although I’m still debating whether I can count the frozen lasagna that I make weekly and the premade turkey meal that I pick up from Harris Teeter on occasion towards my count.  Maybe I’ll tuck them into my back pocket just in case I need them towards the end of the month!

But, as of right now, I can say that I made six meals from scratch –

Honey Soy Parmesan Grilled Chicken – the soy in this wasn’t actually soy…it was soy sauce.  And I forgot the parmesan cheese.  And I misread the recipe and added two tablespoons of garlic instead of two teaspoons.  But it was delicious. 

Breaded Pork Chops – I smothered some pork chops with Dijon mustard and then breaded them with something in a box – it wasn’t Shake and Bake but it was on the same shelf.

The darker muffin has bbq
sauce on it!  Yummy!
Parmesan Crusted Tilapia – I’ve got baked tilapia down to a science.  This time I switched it up a little and coated it with parmesan cheese and paprika.  I must’ve added to much paprika because it turned into a very orange fish!

That's plum sauce on
the side.  One day, I'll
tell you about the first
time I had plum sauce!
Meatloaf Muffins – This is the second favorite meal that I’ve made so far.  I mean, it’s meatloaf but a muffin not a loaf!  When you get the munchies late at night, it’s so handy to pop a lil’ meatloaf muffin in your mouth!  I topped six of the muffins with ketchup and three with bbq sauce.  I live life on the culinary edge, don't I?!  

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Tenders – I’ve made this twice already, once for my mom and she really enjoyed it.  If I can cook something for my mom and she likes it, I know I’m on to something!  I had this for dinner tonight with sweet potato fries on the side.  It was so yummy.

Honestly.  This was perfection.
Chicken Domani – This was my gold medal meal that I copied from a restaurant!  I order this dish when I go to Bertucci’s – it’s pasta, spinach, cheese, and chicken.  I know, I know, super easy and anyone can make it.  Especially if someone has already figured out how to capture that Bertucci taste in the homemade version.  There was one minor almost-egg snafu – “scramble” versus “whisk” are different verbs – but a friend steered me in the right direction and the dish turned out perfectly.  I was so excited by the success of this recreation that I’m determined to recreate my absolute favorite restaurant meal – Chicken Madeira from The Cheesecake Factory.  Once I do that – I’ll never have to go out to eat again!  

Of the six meals that I’ve made, three of them involve chicken.  That’s a little boring so I’m hoping to switch things up a bit so I don’t get all chickened out.
From my kitchen to yours - happy dining!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The 13 Project

Remember in 2011 when I had a white board with goals and I had a totally awesome year?  And remember in 2012 when I didn’t have a white board and I didn’t have a totally awesome year?  Clearly, 2013 requires a white board.

Before you roll your eyes and say, man, this girl is way into gimmicks and should just try to be content with life – stop.  Yes, I’m way into gimmicks.  And, for the most part, I’m pretty content.  In fact, I’m so content that I could pretty much camp out in front of my new big-screen TV down in The Lady Den (it’s my version of a Man Cave, except, it’s a den and it’s for a lady) and I could do absolutely nothing for days on end and be absolutely happy and content.  Even more so if my On Demand worked.
But I need to get motivated.    

So, I sat down and took stock of my life and thought, yeah, I need some goals to stick to this year.  And since my mom gifted me with framed quotes about perseverance for Christmas, I should have no problem sticking to all my goals, right? 
Since it’s 2013, there are, wait for it… 13 goals.  But there’s a twist this year’s I have to do 13 of them!  I told you I like gimmicks.

Here’s this year’s board – (there would've been a picture...but I can't seem to upload it!)
1.  Try 13 new foods – it’s time to bring New Food Friday back but without the pressure of trying something new every single week.  That’s eating responsibly right?

2.  Do 13 things that I’ve never done before – I want to live it up in 2013 and there’s lots of new experiences that I should try.  Unless it involves jumping out of a plane.  Or bungee jumping.  Actually, anything that involves jumping is out.  Otherwise, I’m completely open to whatever comes down the pike. 

3.  Cook 13 meals at home – Seriously, I need to cook at home more.  And since my mom gave me the handy recipe calendar from Woman’s Day for Christmas (it was a banner gift year, lemme tell ya!) I already have 30 meals scheduled.  Except I swapped out all the taco and salmon nights.

4.  Do 13 random acts of kindness – A friend of mine did this recently and I thought it was great.  The world can be a pretty crappy place sometimes and I want to do my part to make it a little better. 

5.  Read 13 books – I hardly read anymore which is nutty because I love reading.  So, I’m rededicating myself to great-ish literature…and the Babysitters Club.  I’m going to participate in a BSC reading challenge.  Who says you can’t go home again?

6.  Go to 13 museums – I need more culture in my life so I want to visit some excellent museums.  Here’s the thing though, I don’t like art museums or nature museums or museums with bones in them – unless we’re going to the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.  I’m picky about my museum-going experiences.  I already have two on my must-go-to-list!

7.  Go on 13 trips – I got this idea several months ago and told my friends that I was going to go on a trip a month in 2013.  So now, it’s a trip a month plus one.  Except without an actual plus one because I don’t have a plus one – unless you want to come.  It might be far away, it might be close by, it might be planned out, or it might be wherever a whim and a gallon of gas take me.  It’ll be a new feature on the blog called “Where in the Continental U.S. (and that one time in Canada maybe) is Denise?”  No one knows where I’ll be until I post it!  Or until someone asks me and lists every single city on the Eastern seaboard and my coy smile gives it away.

8.  Cross 13 bridges – So, before I became known as the bridge at work and it took on a life of its own, I actually liked taking pictures of bridges.  I want to cross 13 bridges and take pictures – the more unique, the better.

9.  Strike up a conversation with 13 random people – My mom will talk to anyone.  And I mean anyone.  Me?  Not so much.  But maybe that person sitting next to me at the bar at the Red Robin has an interesting story.  This will be, by far, the hardest thing for me.  Because, and this might shock some of you, I’m not a big talker.  And yet, some days, I have so much to say!

10.  Adopt 13 cats – I’m just kidding.  Honestly. 

10.  Go to 13 ice cream parlors – I love chocolate ice cream and I love ice cream parlors.  And I read an article about the 50 best ice cream parlors in America.  I want to go to them.  And this year, I will go to 13 of them.   

11.  Have lunch or dinner with 13 cousins – So, I don’t really have an opportunity to get together with my cousins, yet the few times that I’ve been fortunate to have lunch or dinner or go to Hollywood cemeteries with them one-on-one, I’ve had awesome times with them.  I’m the youngest cousin on both sides of my family so it’s interesting to get know my cousins as adults.  I’ve got 36 cousins between my mom and dad’s side, so I think I’ll be able to find 13 of them to get together with.  If not, I’ll just look up the second cousins.

12.  Visit the 13 original colonies – I’m a history geek and there are 13 original colonies.  It was a match made in heaven.  How hard can it be?  For the record, the 13 original colonies were Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  Gosh, I will never, ever get to Vermont.  Or will I?

13.  Do 13 home improvement projects – I’m continuing to focus my energy on my house.  The Lady Den will be done in a few weeks; the new walk-in closet in my living room is freshly painted; and I’m accepting spring reservations for the redecorated guest room.

There it is.  How I’m going to make 2013 really awesome.  And since I really do love gimmicks – and have an active Zazzle account – there might be a tee-shirt or button in the works.
13 in ’13.  Everything’s possible. 

Especially when you have perseverance quotes in your back pocket!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy Prime

Did you know that “13” is a happy prime number?  You can go ask your favorite math teacher what that really means in mathematical-speak because I actually don’t understand it.  I just like that term and it’s how I’m choosing to look at 2013 – as a happy prime. 
2012 was a blah year for me.  I felt very much like Caroline Manzo from the Real Housewives of New Jersey who said that she didn’t like the person she was last season.  To be perfectly frank, I didn’t like who I was last season year either.   

Lucky for me, this first day of a new year provides me the opportunity to examine who I am.  Reassess my choices.  Redefine my path.  Reset my life.   
Who do I want to be?
What do I want from life?

What value do I bring to the world? 
You know – all those questions that everyone else is asking themselves today.  Unless they’re perfectly well-adjusted.  Or have a good therapist. 
I’m moving into 2013 with two tenets of thought – life is short and life is what you make of it. 
And sometimes life needs a white board.

Tomorrow – how I’m applying the happy prime of 13 to my life. 

My mom and I started a joint blog – Our Feed Bag – about our adventures eating out.  The menu’s still a little up in the air but we’re hoping you’ll join us!  We might even tell you about all the times we snuck out to go to Bonanza!