Favorite Recipe Challenge

I have a little “project” going on in my kitchen.  I am tired of feeding my family “mediocre” food.  I want to find the best of the best recipes out there.  There are so many fabulous recipes out there online, in magazines, in cookbooks, and let’s not forget about Pinterest!  It gets overwhelming!

So I challenged my friends on Facebook to share their favorite recipes of all time.

I kind of hope they will include stories with the recipes as well.  I think the beauty of food is not just the flavor and appeal to the other senses.  Rather it is the experience that surrounds the food…thinking back to baking cookies in Grandma’s kitchen, reminiscing about the time you burned the meringue on the Easter dessert (oh, wait, that was me), or reveling in the first time your kids asked for seconds of the dish you slaved over.

If you would like to be a part of this, you can share the one recipe that you could not live without.  You can either link to it in the comments, write it out in the comments, or email me with it .

I can’t wait to see what y’all come up with!

Let me tell you about…

My husband.

My fav pic of Craig

Yep.  This guy.

He is pretty stinking amazing.

And that can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time.

Now no one is perfect.  But every once in a while you come across someone who makes you scratch your head and say “Is this guy for real?  Is there ANYTHING he can’t do?”

That is my husband.  His mind is unbelievably sharp.  He nearly has a photographic memory.  His drive to succeed spills over to the people around him, whether it is his family, acquaintances, or the  Soldiers he is leading.

He will probably kill me for saying this, but he also has a huge heart.  Just the thought of our girls going off to college in a couple of years evokes a lump in his throat.  And, like any good Irishman, he has been known to shed a tear in his beer when reminiscing about loved ones who are no longer with us.

He is stellar Army officer,  a wonderful father, an amazing husband, and a down-right good man.

He is also my best friend.  He is the person with whom I have the most fun, I laugh the hardest, and I I share many inside jokes.

Now, it is not all roses.  We definitely have our difficult moments…those times when we each question our own sanity for having married the other.  As first-born children, we both tend to think we are always right and the other one is simply “in the wrong.”  Those times when we ask, “Why on earth can’t he (she) see things the way I do?”

And it drives me crazy that so many things that come naturally to him are a challenge for me.  (I’m sure the opposite is true as well, but I am hard-pressed to come up with something that I can do that he can’t do better…except maybe childbirth and breastfeeding.)

And  sometimes it seems like we won’t get through the current challenge…but then we do.

We make the choice to do so.  And then we become that much stronger.  And we have a little more experience from which to draw the next time we have a disagreement.

I am very thankful for my husband.  I am not sure where I would be without him.  I do know that my life would not be nearly as rich and I would not have had the amazing experience I have had, if he were not a part of it.

We are a great team, and  even though we make a lot of mistakes (individually and as a couple), we are able to look at each other most days and say “well done.”  And even though that does not sound exciting and Hollywood-romantic, it is that ability…the ability to find satisfaction in a day’s work and in knowing your partner was with you working towards common goals…that lays the foundation for all of the more flowery romantic stuff.

Now please excuse me while I go put up my feet, turn on Les Miserables, and break into the box of Girl Scout cookies that this amazing man brought home for me today 🙂

Stop Sanctioning Mediocrity!

donkeymotivation

My plan for this blog is that it will be a place to have fun and escape from the “stuff” of everyday life (read: housework).  And I hope to keep away from too many serious subjects.  But every now and then I come across an article, issue, or topic that screams to be addressed.

This morning, during my normal morning quiet time/prayer time, my husband brought the following article to my attention:

“Massachusetts principal calls off Honors Night because it could be ‘devastating’ to students who missed mark”
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/20/massachusetts-principal-calls-off-honor-night-because-it-could-be-devastating/?test=latestnews#ixzz2OAIDGhA0

Now, I know some will say “Hey, that’s Fox News, so it’s just a biased title trying to get ratings.”  And maybe they’re right.  (As if other news organizations don’t do the same thing!)  I digress…

Anyway, here’s what I have to say:  WTF???

Why on earth have we, as a country, decided that success is a bad thing?  I have absolutely had it with our schools, our media, and our government trying to make everything completely equal.  Are you kidding me?

The principal in this story claims that it is not fair that some kids have more support at home than others.  Hey buddy, that’s life.  Families are made up of people…people have flaws…some greater than others.  And all families have issues.  What about the kids whose parents, on one hand, are good about helping them with academics, but never taught them to catch a ball?  Those kids must “feel bad” when they don’t make the baseball team, or when the football team makes it to the championship level.  So are we going to quit having try-outs, too?

And how about the kid who doesn’t make it to the All-State Band or Orchestra because his parents couldn’t afford to have himtake music lessons?  Are we going to punish the future Yo-Yo Ma’s of the world and not recognize them for sharing their gifts of beautiful music with the rest of us?

Or what about Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Super Bowls, World Series’, Stanley Cups, etc?  Those events make other actors, musicians, and athletes “feel bad,” right?

Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Christoph WaltzCome on!  These events exist so we can celebrate with people who have made the most of their gifts.  And many of them did not have support from home.  That is all the more reason we should celebrate them.

Some will say that it is different because they are adults.  Not true.  There is not a “switch” that turns on once a child reaches adulthood.  If a child is raised to be mediocre, he will become a mediocre adult.  Instead, let’s raise them with “fire in their bellies.”  They might not achieve their goals.  But if they have the hope of some type of reward, they will reach much farther than they would if there was no incentive other than “the feeling of knowing you tried your best.”

Plus, kids and teens naturally are more concrete.  They rarely do something for an abstract feeling.  There has to be something to “reach for,” much like a donkey pulling a cart chasing after a carrot on a stick.  If you just plop the carrot down on the ground in front of him where he can reach it, then he has no incentive to go anywhere at all…nothing gets done.

The point is this: we all have strengths and weaknesses.  And there are venues to celebrate strengths.  Our athletes, musicians, actors, etc. are allowed to celebrate.  Why not the kids whose strengths are academic?  For many of the academically inclined students, this is their only chance to shine.  Why on earth would someone, whose very line of work is in the education field, want to take that away from them?

And as for the argument about kids not having support from home: instead of making that “okay” and giving lame parents a “pass,” let’s turn up the heat.  Let’s draw them in and give them a reason to help their kids rather than alienate them further.  I know that not every kid will achieve great success, despite his or her best efforts.  But let’s help them build the “work ethic muscle.”

America, let’s quit accepting mediocrity and start demanding, and celebrating, excellence.

Victory…and time to get healthy again

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, Victory, Victory, that’s our cry!

So what the heck am I talking about?  The Saint Patrick’s Day feast from yesterday was a hit!  My husband’s friends all went home stuffed and happy…and not just from the beer 🙂  And I spent the rest of the evening on Cloud 9 after all the compliments I received on the meal.

I know it’s a little thing, but we have to celebrate the “little wins” in life in order to be able to reach up to the larger ones, right?

So, moving right along what is my next goal?  Well, the name of this blog is Happy Mom, Healthy Mom.  So for the sake of integrity, I figure, I ought to be living according to the name.

Health is something that we all have to seek on our own.  We can help each other out, but ultimately, we are responsible for our own health.  I tend to be an “all-or-nohing” kind of girl.  I jump into things (such as diets) with a vengeance and then fizzle out.

 

I had started following a “Paleo” lifestyle a few months back.  It was definitely effective, physically.  I lost weight, had energy, and was feeling pretty confident about how I looked.  But there was something missing.

I am a cook by nature.  It is what I love to do.  It is the thing that I do to relieve stress, to show my family that I love them, and to feed my soul.  But with the Paleo lifestyle, I was missing out on the parts of meal preparation that I love.

With Paleo, food is simply seen as fuel, as a tool.  But I see it as more than that…it is part of the traditions of life, part of family bonding, part of showing love.  (Of course, I am not talking about showing my kids love by tossing them a Happy Meal…THAT clearly is not love…it is laziness and/or lack of planning.)

Even in the Bible, food is the way that God shows us His love.  God gave us manna from the sky, Jesus fed the crowd with just a few loaves and fish, and we Catholics even believe that Jesus gave his very body and blood, soul and divinity to us in the form of bread and wine.

So, while I liked the physical results I was seeing in the Paleo diet, I was missing a big part of my life.  So I gave it up.  Now, on the bright side, I have learned some new ways to prepare vegetables that I had never eaten before, and I have expanded my food repertoire, thanks to the Paleo diet.  I look forward to incorporating these items into my more traditional diet and just living a balanced lifestyle instead of an extreme.

That said, I have to be careful.  Since I decided to let go of “Paleo” I have overindulged in the things I had missed.  So, now I need to just cool down and go back to taking care of myself and my family in a way that is both good for the body and good for the soul.  That way, I can live up to the name “Happy Mom, Healthy Mom.”

Have a great week!

Aunt Paula’s Corned Beef and Cabbage (this is why she is my best friend!)

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day!   The day when everyone in the United States claims at least a drop of Irish blood so they can rightfully eat corned beef and cabbage, carry a shillelagh, speak a bit-o-Blarney, and drink Guinness without guilt (unless it’s a bit of good, healthy, Irish Catholic guilt).

We are having a few of my husband’s friends over for corned beef and cabbage today, and I plan to serve up some fun Irish food.

Now, if you have never had corned beef and cabbage…or you have never had it in a way that you like it…then you have clearly never had my sister-in-law Paula’s corned beef and cabbage.  Now, it is not the most traditional of methods, but I think our ancestors would be proud of this dish.  It’s so good, that I have been known to make it during other times of the year!

I will post pictures later, but I wanted to go ahead and get the recipe posted so you can try it if your heart desires!

We will also have a traditional Leek and Potato Soup, Irish Soda Bread, and Chocolate Guinness Cake for dessert.  And if people don’t like the food I serve, they can simply fill up on Black-and-Tans.

A beautiful sight, indeed.
Aunt Paula’s Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 flat cut corned beef

1 medium onion, cut up

1-2 bay leaves

garlic powder

yellow mustard

1½ c brown sugar

ground cloves

Place corned beef in stock pot with spice packet.  Fill with water up to 2” over beef.  Add onion & bay leaves.  Sprinkle water with garlic powder.  Boil, then turn to medium for 4 hours.  Remove beef and save water.

Scrape off fat and place, fat-side down, in 13×9 pan.  Spread with thick layer of mustard.  Sprinkle brown sugar and cloves.  Bake at 350° for 45 min, basting occasionally.

While beef is in oven, boil potatoes in reserved water for 15 min.  Add carrots and boil for 15 min.  Add cabbage and boil for 15 min.  Serve with corned beef and apple cider vinegar for drizzling.

Enjoy!!!

And, to sign off, here is one of my favorite Irish Blessings:

Perfect House, Perfect Spouse?? I think not.

My head has been in a “fog” the past few weeks.  I suppose that makes sense.  We are getting ready to move…again.  Last year we moved from Alaska to Pennsylvania, and now we are planning a move to the Washington D.C. area.  Ah, the life of a military family!

Here’s the thing: many articles written about military spouses seem to tout their abilities to move from one continent to another and perfectly set up house in 48 hours.  Sorry…I am calling BS on this.  I know that there are plenty of folks who can do this…my own mother was one.  But there are plenty of us who can’t (or who choose not to).

Just because I am am Army wife, and have been one for nearly 20 years, does not mean I automatically have the ability to perfectly organize all of my household goods.  And you know what?  That’s okay.

There is enough pressure involved in packing up our families and all of our worldly goods and transporting them to a new location, usually sight unseen, and trying to create a peaceful transition to a new home.

-Many times this happens in the middle of a school year and there is the added pressure of trying to get kids settled into their new schools immediately.

-And don’t forget about the working spouse who has to find a new job and possibly a new day care facility (because often there is no space in the on-post facility).

-And of course, our Soldiers have to jump into their new assignments, so they are sometimes not immediately available to help with the “home” side of things.

So why must we go on and on about how quickly and perfectly we are able to set up house and jump into a “new life.”  It’s okay if it takes us a few weeks, or even months, to get things comfortable.  I think most of us have that one box (or two…or ten) that has been following us around, unopened, for  several moves.  And again..that’s okay. IMAG0188

Having perfect curtains, an organized spice rack, and perfectly sorted seasonal clothing can be nice…but these things do NOT define you as a successful military spouse.

Your success as a military spouse depends more on your ability to be supportive of your Soldier while also speaking up for your needs as a person.

It depends on your willingness to be flexible and understanding of the changes that the military has to face daily based on decisions made by politicians, world events, and our country’s enemies.

It depends on your willingness to treat other military spouses with respect and hospitality, regardless of whether their Soldier outranks yours or vice versa.

Ultimately, your success as a military spouse depends on your success as a spouse.  Your vows did not include hanging Stivers’ prints perfectly or promising to have a fabulous Polish pottery collection on display.  They did, however, include fidelity and the promise to care for one another, come what may.

Now, please excuse me while I go sort through a couple of boxes that have been sitting in my rec room for nearly 6 months…we are moving again soon!