Monday, November 24, 2008

If you need a laugh

I'm sitting here alone as Bracken works into the night, and stumbled across a wonderful blog, which has had me laughing to the point of tears for the last hour or so. I highly recommend checking out For my favorites, search the words congratulations, sprinkles, and watermelon. Then browse to your heart's desire.

We have ignition

I just got the email confirming that my episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire will be airing on December 2nd, check your local listings or for the time. Actually, use the link to find out what channel it airs on, then check the specific local channel website for the correct time, since the time on the Millionaire website is wrong for Sacramento and might be wrong for your area, too. For those in the Sacramento area, it will be the episode that airs at 3:00 pm. So set your DVRs, TIVOs, and maybe even some VCRs, cause here it comes. I'm a little nervous. I hope I don't look like an idiot. If I do, please keep it to yourselves and just politely discourage me from seeking future oportunities to publicly humiliate myself.
As a side note, if you start watching the 3:00 episodes this week, you'll see all the people I got to know as I waited in the green room and you might catch a glimpse of my beautiful and silly sisters in the audience.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mannion Mexican

I made dinner for my family when I was out in Utah last month, and had a couple people ask me for my recipes. They're not fancy, and they're not real Mexican, but we like em.

Mannion Style Taco Meat (this is the recipe Bracken grew up on)

Brown 1 pound hamburger, and drain off excess fat. Cover meat with approx 2 tablespoons, or 1 package, taco seasoning, and about 1 tablespoon chili powder. Cook for a moment until the scent blooms, then add 1-2 tablespoons flour and cook until flour is all blended in. Add 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, and 1/8-1/4 cup water, depending on how thick you want the sauce. Cook 3-5 minutes more, keep warm until ready to serve.

Ruth's Mexican Rice
Since I've never been totally satisfied with any mexican rice recipe I've tried, I experimented until I came up with this one. The measurements are approximate since I usually just kind of dump stuff in, so if it doesn't seem to be working quite right, just try dumping stuff in. This is a pretty light, dry, not overly tomato-ey rice. I'll often brown the rice in the pan I'm going to cook the taco meat in, then transfer it to the rice cooker and let it cook there while I prepare the meat.

For every 1 cup of uncooked rice

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in saucepan or frying pan with lid. Add 1 cup rice and cook until rice is translucent and starting to brown. Add 1 1/2 cups water, 1 teaspoon chicken boullion, 2 tablespoons salsa of your choice, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/3-1/2 cup canned corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until all water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

And just a word to the wise. If you're planning on frying your own taco shells, which we always do since Bracken loves them, make sure that when you take the lid off your meat that has been warming for a while with lots of water condensing on the lid, that you don't let some of that water drip into the really hot oil causing it to explode all over your left arm. Fortunately, it doesn't start to really hurt until after you've finished eating.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My cute girls

Chloe has just been a wealth of humor lately. My favorite moments include:

  • While watching "Kit Kitteridge, an American Girl," the main character had to say goodbe to her dad. We looked down to find Chloe misty eyed, wiping away tears. When the dad returned at the end, she had the exact same reaction.

  • Everything relates to movies lately. Today she was describing the opening of Finding Nemo to me. "The shark comes, and he's mad, and he hits Nemo's dad, and his dad falls into the french fries." In thinking about it, the anemone really does look like fries.

  • She was picking up blocks and stacked them right up under chin, and said, "Look Mom, I do it like GusGus," referencing the part in Cinderella where Gus is trying to pick up corn in the yard. She repeated the performance with pillows and books.

  • I turned off the TV, her least favorite part of the day. Today for the first time I heard her say, "Mom, it's not fair!" I'm sure that will soon become the anthem of my life.

  • It's never enough to just eat her food. Everything that goes her mouth gets a, "Mom, it doesn't taste really, really bad, Bleh (with tongue out and curled). It tastes really, really good," or the opposite.

  • Bracken and I were cuddling for a few minutes on the couch before he went back to work, and watched as Chloe went back and forth from her room to the kitchen. Each time she went by, she had a blanket, or a backpack, or something covering her face. I think she thought it made her invisible. When Bracken called out Chloe, her immediate response was, "Nothing!"

  • My proudest moment came tonight as she was writing letters on her blackboard. I asked her to write her name, and wrote it on the board for her to copy. Independent little thing, she immediately erased it and then wrote C O L E on the board from memory. I think it totally counts as the first time she's written her name, even though she went back and started adding extra lines to the E since she thought it looked a little bare.

Addie has been equally entertaining. She is such a little sweetheart despite being sick, and she really does just have a fun personality.

  • Addie is walking! I just love watching her toddle everywhere. I'm even more impressed with her efforts now that I know she's been struggling with an ear infection which can't have helped her balance.

  • Addie is talking! She keeps parroting words and Bracken and I turn to each other shocked, "Did she really just say that?" Recent words include Baby, side (outside), and popsicle. She's nowhere near conversational yet, but I love to hear her.

  • She really likes to try to do things. She tries to help get dressed, tries to dress dolls, tries to feed herself, and even tries to put things away.

  • She just loves to smile, and has the most impish grin. Her eyes light up, her nose wrinkles, and her lips curl up at the corners. On America's Next Top Model, Tyra Banks is always telling the girls to smile with their eyes, and Addie definitely has that down.

My Yesterday

3:00 AM Finally fell asleep for the night.
5:30-7 AM Woke up, gave up on getting back to sleep, got dressed, drove to flower wholesaler, bought flowers for YW in Excellence.
7:00-8 AM Returned from wholesaler, prepped flowers, fed children. Bracken went to work.
8:00-9 AM Looked online for a pediatrician for Addie, whose cough was getting worse and had some nasty diarrhea. Debated whether I should take her to the cheaper express clinic, or throw away the whole cost of a doctor visit since we are nowhere near meeting our deductible for the year. Discover that she has to be 18 months to visit the express clinic. Spendt20 minutes on hold with the doctor's office.
9:00-11AM Showered and collapsed into bed to try to get a little sleep while Addie napped. Hopes of Chloe being mesmerized by Sesame Street dashed as she made visit after visit to my room to open candy for her. Too tired to debate whether she should be eating that much candy.
11:00-12:30 Loaded up girls, went to dollar store to buy vases, headed to Costco for more flowers and milk, returned home.
12:30-2 Made lunch for the girls. Found Addie had opened and dumped a container of plaster all over the floor. Started to clean it up, but clogged the dustbuster and had to take it apart and wash it. Attempted to start 12 flower arrangements.
2:00-3:45 Mainly spent waiting at the doctor's office. Filled out paperwork while trying to prevent Chloe from dumping her backpack out on the floor, and attempting to keep Addie from crawling into any open doorway. Finally saw the NP and learned Addie had an ear infection, so at least it wasn't a wasted doctor visit.
4:00-5 Arranged flowers while Addie napped and Chloe zoned out to more TV. Got about half the arrangements done. Addie woke up very upset, and I held her while she drank a bottle for about 15 minutes.
5:00-6:15 Returned to flower arranging. Noticed Chloe had fallen asleep on the couch, and couldn't remember the last time she'd been to the potty, so I picked her up and put her sleeping self on the toilet. She woke up enough to go, and then cried hysterically until she fell asleep on the couch again. Attempted to finish flowers as Addie tried to climb on my lap, mashed chocolate chip cookies all over the floor, dumped Chloe's cup of water from the table all over herself and the floor, fished around in my flower bucket, and attempted to eat the toxic blooms.
6:15-6:45 Finished the arrangements, loaded them in the car, and loaded the girls up. Drove to the church and unloaded the arrangements, and made my excuses for not being able to stay that night.
7:00-7:45 Drove to Costco, loaded a groggy Chloe and a crazy past her bedtime Addie into the cart, and hurried to the pharmacy. Found out the Rx still wasn't ready. Tried to talk to my sister Katie while I waited, until Addie started "playing" with Chloe and Chloe burst into tears. Finally got the Rx, and once we were back in the car, went to McD's for a healthy dinner.
7:45-8:30 Fed the kids, and myself finally. Gave them both a bath, and got Addie into bed by about 8. Cuddled in bed with Chloe and read a couple stories before saying goodnight.
8:30-9 Even though I was so tired it hurt and all I wanted to do was sleep, because I love my husband, I decided to clean up the mess of flowers and food all over the kitchen. Realized that the cup Addie had dumped had contained not water, but soda, which was now tracked all over the kitchen floor. Started sweeping, and though I had made the realization only moments earlier, forgot, and swept everything through the sticky puddle. Finally just wiped the dirtiest parts of the floor with a wet rag and called it good enough. Got the kitchen presentable, then finally crashed on the couch.
11:00 PM or so, Bracken finally came home for the day after a full day of work, school, and more work. He's been going back into work every night, poor guy, but at least he has work to do.

Believe it or not, after that crazy, crazy day, I still didn't sleep well last night. I think I'll actually take something tonight, cause the nice mom needs to come back.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Bisque

This is currently my favorite fall soup. Delicious, and easy. I got it from one of the farms up on Apple Hill.

2 whole heads of garlic/halved crosswise
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 cups chopped onion
¾ cups chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into one-inch pieces
6 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (I actually think it's better when made with dried sage. Add fresh as a garnish at the end).
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Rub cut surfaces of garlic with oil. Put halves back together to resemble heads. Wrap each tightly in foil; bake until tender, about 40 minutes. Let garlic cool in foil.

Mix butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery: sauté until onions begin to soften, about five minutes. Add squash, broth and 2 tablespoons sage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered until squash is tender; about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, unwrap garlic. Squeeze from skins into small bowl and discard skins. Mash garlic with fork until smooth.

Stir garlic into soup. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth, or use an immersion blender. Return to pot. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Stir in ½ cup cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer soup to tureen. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of cream. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon of sage.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Where is Addie?

She has a new favorite hiding place. Can you guess where she is?

All our Halloween

As I sit here, with both kids fighting over candy and my fingers (and lips) burning from chopping 3 kinds of peppers without gloves on for my entry in tonight's chili cookoff, and my husband out in the pouring rain placing "Yes on 8" doorhangers, and the sliding door open so I can smell and hear the delicious rain falling, I sure am happy in my life. Seriously. Hope you're all recovering well from the sugar comas.

I know some of the pictures in this slideshow are repeats, but I wanted to get all the Halloween in the same place. There are pictures from Grandma Mannion's ward Trunk or Treat and Carnival, our pumpkin carving, Bracken's work party, and our Trick or Treating. We also attended the Tew's Halloween party, but got no pictures taken before we were rained out. We did however, win one very skittish goldfish that is named both Dory and Nemo that Chloe is desperate to hold. And if anyone remembers her past history, you'll know that it is a very real risk.