Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Simplify, Schimplify

It's all the rage this Christmas. The watchword of the season. No, it's not some hot new toy or electronic gadget I'm talking about. It's: "Simplify."

I spent a little time waiting in the doctor's office yesterday to get a new antibiotic to finally squash this cough I've had for three weeks now. Surprisingly, there were a number of current magazines to flip through while I waited for an hour.

I looked at page after page of beautiful trees, gorgeous mantels, and chic centerpieces for the table. And almost every article waxed poetic about "simplifying" so we can take time to keep the spirit of the season.

I'm all for simplifying, but my idea of simple and the home magazine editors' ideas of simple are worlds apart.

Sure, that centerpiece of cranberries, oranges and pomegranates is fast and easy if you just happen to have a few antique compotes or glass hurricanes on hand. I think the effect would be lost a bit if I used my eclectic Tupperware collection.

Looking for a cool, free way to decorate your Christmas tree? Why, walk through your neighborhood and find some sticks and pinecones! Just spray them with glitter or craft snow and arrange them in your Christmas tree.

Let me just say, unless you have an eye for decorating, this idea is a guaranteed disaster. The tree in the magazine looked like, well, a tree in a magazine. Such an attempt in my house would more likely conjure images of a porcupine than a glamorous holiday decorating statement. Not to mention that walking through my neighborhood collecting nature's bounty with four small children in tow is anything but simple!

The magazines' simple mantels showed nature-inspired garlands, made by the homeowner, of course, and color-coordinated decorations piled in the homeowner's red and white stoneware collection. Yep. I'll get right on making that garland and collecting my stoneware.

What's wrong with hanging the stockings and throwing a little store-bought garland on the mantel? Now that's simple!

This Christmas my mantra is not: "Simplify." It is: "Prioritize." 

To get some holiday things done around here, something else will have to give. I'm sure the kids won't mind a few meals of Christmas cookies, since they often don't eat what I serve them anyway. And who needs both lights and ornaments on the tree? No need to gild the lily, after all. Without hesitation I choose decorating over cleaning. That's only logical. The decorations will hide the dust.

The second half of my mantra is "Ignore." That's about trying to tune out the magazines, and remain calm and focused under the pressure of elaborate lighting displays and early Christmas cards all around me. As a bonus, "Ignore" neatly handles anything on the priority list that doesn't get done. And that's a Christmas gift for me!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

He Gets That From YOUR Side Of The Family

Isaac was cracking us up the other day when the boys were having their noisy fun. We laughed and laughed, and then we started pointing fingers at each other. "He must get that from YOUR side of the family!

No matter where Isaac gets it from, (His daddy! It's MY blog!) this is just further evidence that the children should wear their bicycle helmets at ALL times!
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mayday! Mayday!

Yesterday morning at 6:00 my wing man went down. The stomach virus took him hard.

Then last night at 10:30 I succumbed.

By suppertime I knew it was coming, so I rushed to get the kids fed, the house picked up and everyone in bed before I curled up and tried not to think about throwing up.

Unfortunately, the kids didn't cooperate, and both Jeff and I were up multiple times last night.

Fortunately, Jeff was recovered enough today to deal with our now healthy and energetic children. I spent much of the day dozing on and off and gradually reintroducing fluids to my body.

So forgive me for not posting a recipe yesterday or today. I still can't face the thought of food.

This is not how we wanted to spend a long holiday weekend, but if we were going to get it, the timing was perfect. We were all here just hanging out with no real plans, which meant plenty of hands to hold sick kids and lots of time to swap back and forth and get the adults some extra sleep.

I promise a return to our regularly scheduled humorous and less disgusting programming soon. Thanks for hanging in there with me in the meantime.

Tomorrow one more round of Lysol. But for now, please pass the ginger ale.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful For All Of It

Today I am thankful for kids who are mostly healthy.

And because today they are mostly not, I'm thankful for Lysol, my washing machine and Spot Shot carpet cleaner.

I'm thankful for my husband, the best father I know.

I'm thankful for the peace of naptime and bedtime, and the noise and laughter that fills the rest of our days.

I'm thankful for everyone who reads my (mostly) daily musings and shares in my family. Here's a little noise and laughter for all of you:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Play along with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Mama's Losin' It

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Wedding and The Aftermath

Travel to and from San Diego was rough. The weather in sunny California was cold and rainy. But considering I returned home to the beginnings of the plague invading my house, I kind of wish I'd stayed in California!

I stayed in the charming La Jolla Shores Hotel, and sat on the third-floor balcony looking at this beautiful view.

I listened to the surf, drank my hot chocolate, and watched the rain.

It's not good when you wake up in San Diego, where the weather is almost always nice, and the weather man is excited. It rained the entire day and a half I was there. Nothing torrential, mind you, but still the weather man said, "RAIN!" An INCH in the next THREE DAYS folks!" Made his week, I think. It was supposed to be 70 there today. It is decidedly NOT 70 here.

As I sat, I watched a whole group of people donning their wet suits in the rain. Ironic, hmm? They were headed out to boogie board, scuba, swim and generally enjoy the ocean. There were lots of people walking on the beach with their umbrellas, so I decided I could do the same. It was nice, even in the rain.

I met up with Sheila, who also roomed with Kris and me in London, and our friend Caryn, whom I also met in London.
Caryn & Sheila

We enjoyed breakfast at a nice restaurant with a great view of the ocean and caught up on more years than I care to think about. Then we did a little shopping before it was time to get ready for the big event.

The wedding was held in a historic home, and it was beautiful. Kris looked amazing and the ceremony was perfect -- personal, sentimental.

The reception after was a blast. The food was amazing, from the garlic cilantro shrimp to the basil risotto to the grilled asparagus to the steak au poivre. Yum! Plus I never once had to get up to get something for someone else.

We ate, we drank, we danced. It's been a long time since I spent an evening in killer heels. And by killer, I mean my ankles killed me the next day. Dancing on a brick courtyard where I was in imminent danger of getting a heel caught between the bricks certainly didn't help my cause.
Caryn, Kris, and me

Turns out that those couple of nights I sacrificed sleep for fun were good practice for sacrificing sleep to hold sick children for the next couple nights once I arrived home.

I just pretended I was listening to the surf, instead of listening to my children's stomach contents resurface.

It appears the storm of sickness has passed now, so hopefully we will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving without any premature "leftovers."

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Wedding, Some Weather, and A Long Wait

I went to my friend's wedding in San Diego this weekend. I'll give you the details later, but I'm still exhausted and headed to bed. So here's the short version:

The wedding was wonderful.

The weather was rainy and cold.

The travel was horrendously bad, to the tune of two cancelled flights, nine hours of sitting in an airport on standby, and the offer of a child to anyone who could get me out of the airport and home.

I finally arrived home at 10:30 p.m. bone tired after 16 hours of traveling.

I was greeted by a child who had just vomited in his bed.

It was still good to be home.

And watching my friend get married was worth every minute of the hassle.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

From My Kitchen: Cornflake Cookies

I know, I know. Two cookie recipes in a row. Sorry about that, but I'm in a hurry today and this one was all ready to go. Besides, we are coming into the holiday season, and these cornflake cookies are deliciously different. They are yummy enough for your office carry-in or church potluck, but chances are, no one else will show up with them!

Here's the recipe:

Cornflake Cookies
1 cup white sugar
1 cup margarine
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
11/2 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups cornflakes ( I crush them a little)
1/2 cup chopped nuts ( your choice)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar. Add baking soda, cream of tartar, vanilla and flour. Mix well.

Stir in cornflakes, lightly crushed, and chopped nuts. I love these with pecans, but they are pretty versatile, so you can use what you have on hand or experiment a little.

Roll the dough into balls, roll in sugar and place on baking sheet. Press with a cookie stamp, glass or fork.

Bake for 12 minutes.

The result is light, crisp, and oh so good.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Call Me "Coyote Christy"

The neighborhood association president sent out an email about the sick coyote and noted that, "Christy is taking care of it."

Thankfully he gave specifics about how I'm hiring Tim the Wildlife Guy, so my neighbors don't have to worry about me stomping around with my twelve gauge.

So now, muyc to my amusement, all the neighbors are calling me with their coyote sightings.

This afternoon Jane called me. She has a little spaniel that would make a nice hors' d ouvre for this coyote. Jane wanted to walk her dog, but the coyote was lying in her back yard. We're no wildlife experts, but we readily agreed that probably wasn't a good idea.

I talked with Tim the Wildlife Guy again to confirm he'd be coming out on Friday. I have to say, he sounds exactly like I expected (sterotypically, I admit) someone in his line of work to sound. I sure hope his appearance meets my expectations, too. Even though the coyote has mostly been sighted elsewhere in the neighborhood, I hold out this hope that Tim the Wildlife Guy will set up camp on my back deck with his shotgun long enough for me to get a picture for you guys.

The coyote saga continues. In the meantime, try not to look like prey.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Coyote In The Burbs

We caught two more mice: one yesterday and one last night, which reminded me of a story about one girls' weekend with my sisters. It involves a cabin in the woods, a mouse problem and the worst hospitality EVER.

But that will have to wait. Because when I took the boys outside to play after lunch we walked around the garage to the backyard to find a COYOTE sitting out by the swing set.

He was lying down, so at first I thought it was a strange dog, which was enough to slow me down. Then he stood up. I saw the long legs, bushy tail and brown-gray color, and something in the back of my brain fired up. "Hey, didn't someone at the neighborhood meeting say something about seeing a coyote around here? Coyote?  COYOTE?  HOLY CRAP THAT'S A COYOTE!"

I immediately yelled at the boys to go to the garage because we had to go inside RIGHT NOW. I'm thinking "Don't look like prey. Don't look like prey. Don't look like prey."

I must have scared the kids, because they ran to do exactly what I ordered. I shepherded them to the garage door, away from the backyard and the coyote, punched in the code, rushed them in and closed the door behind us. 

We went in the house and I grabbed my phone and went out the back door. I yelled at the coyote and it just looked at me for a minute before turning and trotting off into the trees.

Have I mentioned that I live in the suburbs?

And it was noon?

And my yard is pretty wide open?


I didn't even have the presence of mind to take a picture for all of you!

When I decided to stay home with the kids I expected to deal with sickness, but I did not expect to have to drive off wild animals.

I made a flurry of phone calls, and was told Animal Control wouldn't come out unless the coyote was in my living space. Note to self: Hotline operators do not appreciate sarcasm. Asking if I should invite it into my living room did not go over well.

Anyway, Animal Control did send someone out within the hour, and thankfully the lady saw the coyote when she was driving around our neighborhood. She said it shouldn't be out in the open in broad daylight and she thought it looked sick. So now DNR will come out and trap it.

Until it's gone I'm not taking my kids outside. I don't even want to think about what could have happened if one of the boys had gone to backyard to play in the sandbox while I helped someone else off a bike and brought up the rear. After all, compared to our friend Wile E., they are snack-sized.

At some point in my mildly freaked out back and forth with my hubby, he texted me this: "Neither of us would have lasted long on the frontier!"

I beg to differ. My first thought was to kill that bugger. And he sat there so long I could have loaded my rifle (if I were living on the frontier and had one hanging over the door, mind you), straightened my apron, smoothed my hair and stepped out on the back porch to solve the problem. I texted that to Jeff and finished with, "Of course then you'd have to deal with it. I might kill it, but I don't do dead."

Nothing like a brush with a coyote to make you appreciate little problems with mice and dead squirrels!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Act of Thanksgiving

On Sunday Jeff and Amelia helped accept Thanksgiving donations at our church's food pantry. The need is greater this year than in years past. We have 400 families who have requested assistance. Heaven only knows how many are in some kind of need, but didn't ask. Thanks to the generosity of many, all 400 will get a Thanksgiving basket full of the makings of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, right down to the pumpkin pie and whipped topping.

Amelia had a great time helping unload food from people's cars and stack things in the right piles. It was a good lesson for her in helping others and recognizing the many blessings we have.

I am grateful that Amelia really can't understand that some children don't have enough to eat, because she has never had to go hungry.

But I am also aware that is not the case for many, many kids.

I think about this when my kids ask for a certain cereal and I go to the cupboard to discover we're out. Already at age 2, the boys will say "Mommy will get some more at the store," when I tell them that their item of choice is all gone. Then we move on to the other hundreds of available selections.

But what if "we're all out" meant just that. ALL out. As in no more food?

I can't even imagine what it must feel like to tell your child that there's no food, and no money to just run to the store and get whatever they want. How painful it must be to hear your child cry because he or she is hungry.

I hate the idea of anyone being hungry.

I come from German/Irish heritage where food is love, and food is plentiful. My mom fed 10 people on a small budget, so we ate lots of inexpensive meals when I was growing up: spaghetti, casseroles, meatloaf with plenty of cracker crumbs in it. In the early days of my marriage, I scrimped and scraped to put meals on the table, and we ate on the cheap plenty. But I have never truly been hungry.

Jeff and I have always given to our church food pantry, but often we were motivated by special requests like the Thanksgiving food drive. Perhaps it's more obvious during the holidays when we celebrate with huge feasts, but hunger is a year round problem. So lately we've been trying to pick up a few things for the food pantry every time we shop. We drop them off after church so Amelia, Sam, Isaac and Alex can be part of the effort.

Are we saving the world? No. But we are making a difference for someone. We're teaching our kids to take care of other people. And we're reminding ourselves over and over just how fortunate we are.

How about you?

Thanksgiving is just over a week away. There's no better way to celebrate the many blessings you've been given than to share your good fortune with others. Find a local food bank, a church food pantry, a community Thanksgiving dinner, someone who is feeding the hungry, and make a donation.

Someone, somewhere will be very grateful.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

From My Kitchen: Carmel-filled Chocolate Cookies

You thought I didn't realize I'd thrown your weekly recipe out the window on Friday in favor of a picture of a dead rodent, didn't you? I knew it, but that story just wouldn't wait!

To make it up to you, here's a cookie recipe that you shouldn't wait to try. When people bite into these gooey caramel-filled treats, they'll think you spent a lot of time on them. Only you have to know better, unless you choose to share the secret.

The secret is Rolos! That's right. Just wrap this chocolatey dough around a Rolo and bake. When the cookies are done they've got a gooey caramel center, and all you had to do was open the candy. This was a Pillsbury Bake-off Winner, so it's a guaranteed smash hit.

The original recipe included 1 C. of chopped pecans. Because I usually make these for kids, I never use the nuts, though I'm sure they would be delicious. If you wish to use them, stir 1/2 C. chopped pecans into the cookie dough. Combine 1 Tbsp. sugar and the remaining 1/2 C. pecans and press one side of each shaped cookie ball into the mix. Place pecan side up on the baking sheet.

Here's the recipe:

Caramel-filled Chocolate Cookies
2 1/2 C. flour
3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C. sugar
1 C. firmly packed brown sugar
1 C. butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
48 Rolo candies (9 oz. pkg.), unwrapped
4 oz. vanilla-flavored candy coating, if desired

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda. Blend well. In large bowl, beat 1 C. sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs. Beat well. Add flour mixture and blend until combined.

For each cookie, shape about 1 Tbsp. dough around 1 caramel candy, covering completely. Flour your hands lightly to prevent the dough from sticking. Place 2 inches aparts on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes, or until set and slightly cracked. Cool 2 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.

I always stop here, but it you want to do a little more work for the sake of prettiness, feel free to melt the candy coating over low heat until smooth, and drizzle over the cookies. Trust me, these cookies don't need it for flavor!

Now wasn't that worth the wait? Enjoy!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Rodent Trauma!

Today I did this:

Multiply by almost an acre. I ended up with 30ish bags of leaves. Each one representing roughly 287 square feet of leaves, give or take a bajillion leaves.

I am pooped!

I have been taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather this week to get the kids out in the yard and do the raking a little at a time. I was counting on a nice Saturday so the WBH could help finish the job.

But it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I powered through it by myself today.

Of course, sacrifices had to be made. I threw the kids a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread for lunch. They are two and four. I figured they could take care of themselves.

Anyway, I tried to think good thoughts about what a great yard we have and how much we appreciated all those shade trees during the heat of the summer.

But by naptime I was running out of positive energy.

And that's when the rodent trauma happened.

I'm starting to think they have it in for me. First it was the dying mouse I mistook for a dust bunny and nearly picked up. Then there was the epic battle Jeff and I did with a bat in our first home. That's a story worth telling! It involves accusations of delusion, duct tape, a hungry neighborhood cat and a plea for mercy. That'll keep you coming back, won't it? I promise to share that story soon.

Anyway, today's rodent trauma looked like this:

It's a squirrel, I think. It was dead. At the bottom of a leaf pile. The remnants of which I was scooping up with my bare hands. I almost picked it up, but at the last second I realized what it was. I leapt back and stifled a scream while doing the heebie-jeebie dance.

Then I put on my big girl panties and scooped the thing onto a shovel and disposed of it. To be honest, I was sure if I left it there the boys would find it and play with it.

I should get MAJOR credit for finishing the second half of the yard after this trauma. After all, I'm still using the mouse incident as an excuse not to pick up dust bunnies, and that was 16 years ago. Who could blame me if I never picked up another leaf again?

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More Mischief

We've got a new problem in the house. The boys have learned to stack up things in the toy room to reach the cabinet where we keep our keys.

Alex is usually the culprit, but everyone has been in on the act.

What really worries me isn't that they have figured out how to get what they want.

It's these looks that concern me!

I don't know which is worse: Alex's glee or Isaac's feigned innocence.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Official Two Year Stats

The boys had their two-year doctor's appointment yesterday, so here are their official stats.

Sam - 34 3/4 inches tall, 28 lbs. 4 oz.
Isaac - 33 3/4 inches tall, 23 lbs. 4 oz.
Alex - 35 1/2 inches tall, 28 lbs.

This was the first time they got to stand on the scale like the big boys they are. Sam went first, and then Alex and Isaac began clamoring for a turn. We're pretty good at taking turns, so they all did great. Of course, after all three had taken their turns, Alex turned to me and said, "Mommy's turn!"

Thanks, but I'll pass. I had to step on the scale PLENTY when I was pregnant with the three of them!

The boys had to explore every inch of the exam room, of course. And I do mean every inch.

Look! Three two-year-olds will fit in the cabinet under the sink!

Fortunately I had extra hands along to corral them. Even more fortunately, we're a very healthy lot and at two, they all were able to get the FluMist instead of the shot.

I just hope we don't get a plumbing bill along with the doctor's bill!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Uninvited Guest

We recently eliminated an uninvited guest of the mouse variety from our basement. There's really nothing to say about it except that peanut butter makes great mouse bait. I learned that years ago when we had a major mouse incident.

It was 1996 and Jeff and I were living in married student housing while he was in his first year of his PhD in chemistry. It was not a luxurious place -- 400 square feet with linoleum floors and cinder block walls -- but the price was right and the location was great.

The weather had just started to turn cold. I got up early one morning and went to the kitchen, a full 10 steps away from our bedroom, to get a drink of water. Since I had just crawled out of bed, I didn't have my glasses on and I'm near-sighted like you wouldn't believe. Unless something's a few inches from my face, I can hardly see it.

As I was drinking my water and looking around the apartment, I spied something under the table and thought "Wow! That is the biggest dust bunny I've ever seen in my life!" I'm no neat freak, and even I couldn't go back to bed until I'd gotten rid of it.

I walked over to the table, leaned down, and when I was just inches away from picking up the "dust bunny," its tail twitched.

I stifled a scream and I'm pretty sure my feet didn't touch the floor on the way back to the bedroom. There I woke my soundly sleeping husband and demanded that he do something about the mouse, even though it was barely light out. Jeff got up and determined that the mouse was in the final stages of dying under our table, so he put a shoebox over it and went back to bed.

I called maintenance and left a semi-hysterical "Get this thing out of my apartment!" voice mail.  When the maintenance man arrived he discovered that there was a hole in the foam around the stove vent. The mouse had apparently chewed its way in, and died under our table from eating the foam. The very helpful maintenance man sealed up the hole, set a bunch of traps with peanut butter, and removed the dead mouse and cardboard box -- after asking if we wanted the box back. Um. No. Thanks. I can always get another shoebox. One that hasn't had a dead mouse in it.

By the time it was all said and done, we caught and disposed of seven more mice. And by we, I mean the maintenance man and Jeff. My contribution was to throw the phone at a mouse on our counter, to scrub everything in the kitchen multiple times, and to cover my ears while Jeff finished off a mouse that got its leg caught in a trap.

I did learn that peanut butter makes the best mouse bait.

And I've never picked up another dust bunny since.

Hey, some traumas run deep! And besides, what a great excuse for my less-than-stellar housekeeping.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Return to Health...We Hope

It appears we have survived the puking, though I won't consider us out of the woods until the end of the week. It always seems that a virus that we should be done with, sneaks up back up on us. Remember the doctor's assurance that Sam and Alex weren't going to get the chicken pox because it had been almost two weeks since Isaac had them?

So, we'll hold our breath for a while. In the meantime, we're having some beautiful fall weather here, so the kids and I have been out enjoying it while we can. We spent the morning at the park and the afternoon in the yard. In between those two things the boys napped and I put on my grownup clothes and went downtown for a client meeting.

I sometimes have trouble shifting gears between the playroom and the meeting room, but I am enjoying the work immensely. And today was ideal -- I had lots of time to play with my kids and get some things done around the house, and the I did my work outside the house during their nap time. I got home just as they were waking up, so I didn't miss anything while I was gone. Except for the silence. The precious, precious silence. I compensated by driving with the radio off.

Tomorrow the boys have their two-year checkup, so we'll see how much everyone weighs. Isaac is still a lightweight compared to Sam and Alex, but everyone's getting tall fast. Our appointment is during the boys' usual lunch time, so I'll take lots of snacks with to stave off starvation. Although tonight they ate almost nothing for supper. Even Alex didn't really eat, which is unusual. I hope that's just a sign they are going to be typical toddlers who seem to be able to live on air for weeks on end, and not a sign that they are getting sick.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

An Ode to Vomit

Vomit on the pillow,
Vomit on the floor.
Vomit in her pretty hair,
A peaceful night no more.

Crying in the bathtub,
Wailing in the hall.
Mom & Dad are busy cleaning,
not getting any sleep at all.

Laundry by the load,
Laundry by the ton.
Hope the laundry soap holds out,
Until this bug is done.

A request for breakfast,
We agreed and held our breath.
Whoops, here it comes again!
Guess we're not done quite yet

The washer kept on running,
We bleached and mopped the floors.
The afternoon was quiet,
The vomit was no more.

We hope this yucky virus,
has really run its course.
For while it was a long night,
It could have been much worse!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

From My Kitchen: One Crust Chicken Pot Pie

There's a chill in the air, which can only mean one thing: It's chicken pot pie time! I happen to love, love, love chicken pot pie, although I don't think my mom ever made it when I was growing up.

The WBH used to eat those cheap frozen pot pies, but yuck! So I started to search for a good recipe that didn't take all day to make. This one was my winner. And I'm happy to report that Jeff wouldn't even think about eating one of those frozen cheapies anymore.

This is the basic recipe, but my pot pie is rarely the same twice. I tend to use up whatever veggies I have on hand, and it's all good. This is the perfect way to use up any leftover turkey you might have the day after Thanksgiving. I often make a large batch of filling and freeze half. Since there's only one crust and it goes together fast with a baking mix, you can put one of these babies in the oven in no time if you have the filling on hand.

Here's my freezer tip: Pour the filling into a large Zip-loc freezer bag and place the bag in the pan you'll use to bake your pot pie later. Put the pan with the bag of filling into the freezer. When the filling is frozen, remove it from the pan and put that pan back in the cupboard. You now have a block of frozen pot pie filling that is guaranteed to fit your pan when you're ready to use it.

I do recommend thawing the filling before topping the pot pie with a crust and baking. On good days I'll remember to pull it out of the freezer ahead of time. On bad days, I'll throw it in the oven while the oven preheats and I get my crust ready. If that doesn't quite do the trick, I'll rely on the microwave.

This recipe came from an old church cookbook, so a big shout out to the ladies of Holy Family! Don't forget to double it if you want to put some in your freezer.

One Crust Chicken Pot Pie
Makes one 9" square pan
1/3 C. margarine or butter
1/4 C. Bisquick baking mix
1/3 C. onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 C. chicken broth
2/3 C. milk
2 C. chicken or turkey, cooked and chopped
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, sliced*
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 C. frozen peas
salt & pepper to taste

*You can leave out the fresh carrots and use a 10-oz. package of frozen peas & carrots instead

1 1/2 C. Bisquick baking mix
4 Tbsp. hot water
3 Tbsp. margarine or butter, softened

Boil all veggies except onion and frozen peas until tender, about 10 minutes. Heat 1/3 C. margarine or butter over low heat until melted. Stir in 1/4 C. Bisquick, onion, and bay leaves. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in chicken broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken, and ALL veggies. Salt & pepper to taste. Heat through.

Pour chicken mixture into an ungreased, 9-inch square pan. You can use a 9-inch pie plate or an 8-inch square, too. I always make mine in an 11x7 glass pan. It will taste delish no matter what the shape! Remove and discard the bay leaves, if you can remember. I never remember. I just tell folks that getting a bay leaf is good luck, but not if you try to eat it.

Mix crust ingredients until dough forms. Smooth dough into a ball. Sprinkle a little Bisquick or flour on your countertop and roll the dough to fit your pan. Place dough over chicken mixture. Cut slits in center of crust.

Since this has a tendency to boil over, I always set my pot pie dish on a baking sheet while it cooks. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Mmmmm, chicken pot pie! Your kitchen will smell amazing and your family will love you for it.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sisterly Love

A couple weeks ago my sister Mary sent me an email saying she had broken her ankle. She did it playing touch football with her boys. I think it was part FYI, part warning to me since I have boys, too.

As it turned out, she really did the job right and wound up having to have a plate and a bunch of pins put in. So she had to stay off her foot completely for a couple of weeks and just went back to work this week.

My mom told me that the docs had given Mary "some kind of wheeled contraption" to help her get around.

This image popped immediately into my head:

The next day I sent this picture to Mary in an email titled, "Thinking of you." Because that's just the kind of loving sister I am.

She thought it was pretty funny and sent me a picture of the real "contraption" she's using. It's called a knee walker if you want to look it up. But trust me, it's not nearly as much fun as the image I have provided!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Must Be All The Sugar

Sunday night we had four children collecting candy around the neighborhood. Four children who will not be allowed to consume all the candy they collected. Not if their mother wants to remain sane, anyway.

Then last night Amelia asked if she could have a treat after supper. I handed over her Halloween bag and she handed it back. "No thanks. I'd like a chocolate chip cookie."

Which leaves me with a huge bowl full of chocolate-covered guilt.

I hear that some dentists are offering a dollar a pound if you turn in your Halloween candy. I think our insurance company should do the same. Because the kids' candy is hazardous to mom & dad's health, without question.

The M&Ms are all going into the potty training treats jar. I can't let the boys know that you can eat M&Ms any old time. That would completely derail my whole rewards system. And we can't have that.

Eventually I'll do what I did last year: Bag it all and stick it in the back of the cupboard to give away to trick or treaters next year.

Yes, that's right. I just admitted that I recycle my children's Halloween candy, at least the things that don't get stale, like lollipops and Sweetarts. Oh, and the things we don't like, of course. No chance of finding a Snickers or a KitKat in what we'll be giving away.

Maybe I'm not the only one who does that. It would explain why my kids brought home so much banana flavored Laffy Taffy again this year...

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

By the time we got our kiddos -- who were over-sugared for the second night in a row -- in bed last night, I was too tired to deal with photos and posting. But I know you've been waiting and waiting to see this year's costumes, so here's the gang:

Amelia the butterfly, Sam the caterpillar, Alex the bumblebee and Isaac the spider.

The costumes are a testament to all the blood, sweat and tears that both my mom and I put in on 10 years of 4-H sewing projects. While I never became an accomplished seamstress, I did learn a thing or two. The costumes would never hold up to a 4-H judging, since I took every shortcut in the book, but I thought they turned out pretty well. I probably invested about six hours and $30 in these, but I did have some elastic, fiberfill and pipe cleaners on hand already. And the pattern was a bargain at 99 cents.

While sewing was never my favorite 4-H project, I enjoyed the challenge of making these. It was nice to do something creative (read: not laundry, dishes, cooking or cleaning) for a change!

Isaac, Alex and Sam enjoy some of their Halloween candy.

Having practiced on Saturday night, the boys were ready for trick or treating on Halloween. After the first house they were chewing through the wrappers to get to the candy, so we gave in and opened a piece for each of them.

The menagerie: Bee, princess(?), caterpillar and spider.

"Wait a minute! Who's the princess in the wagon in that photo?" I hear you asking.

That would be Amelia. She's been asking for a Belle dress and I told her I'd try to buy one after Halloween when the costumes went on sale. Well, Sunday I found one that was only $6, so I bought it. Then I made the mistake of letting her see it before we went trick or treating, and she immediately wanted to go as Belle.

What the heck. She's only four once, right? I made her a deal. She could go as Belle as long as she put on her butterfly costume for a group photo first. She was happy to oblige.

Sam, Alex and the princess.


The quote of the evening came from Alex, who climbed into the wagon after the first stop and said, "'Nother house, Daddy."

What can we say? The boy likes his food and thinks this is the greatest holiday ever. At least until we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Hope you had a happy Halloween, too. And if your kids went trick or treating, don't forget about the Parent Tax. It entitles you to a percentage of your kids' haul for your efforts in helping them with costumes and taking them door to door.

I think I'll go enjoy a little of my percentage right now.

© Trippin' Mama 2010