While I was away

The weekend I was in Vegas the boys went to stay with the Walls on Saturday night. Alex was working like a crazy person that entire week leading up to Vegas and had to work much of the weekend. All the girls on the trip were mentioning that their husbands were ready for them to come home – I said the Walls were ready for me to come back. They spent the night at our house during the week then had the boys most of the weekend. Not to worry, the boys love to be the center of their grandparents world allowed to stay up, eat what they want (or don’t want) and swim in their underwear. They are the best.

My only annoyance is how happy and calm that baby looks….he would NEVER sit in his booster seat and play at the table so happily for me. You know he would be throwing himself off the chair and hurling the figures at me.

James looking shocked at the ride at Pump it Up.

The boys supporting the home team.

James is smiling! That Grandma Ena must really be getting into the book.

Zachary is wearing his brother’s 18 month shirt and just his boxers in the pool. Whenever I point out to him that he is wearing his brother’s shirts which become mid-drifts and pants which become capri’s he shrugs and says, “But they fit.” 
Touche smarty, touche.

Brussels Sprouts – the mini way

Seriously people, where is that mini cookbook I asked for? Because this recipe would be a perfect addition. When I saw the close up picture of this salad I thought it looked like tiny leaves. Oh that is because they are – you peel the Brussels sprouts then saute them. Genius. Delicious and mini, I was totally sold.

I am certain I am not unique in my love/hate relationship with brussels sprouts. I really want to like them. And I do, most of the time. But sometimes they just overpower me and gross me out. Not made this way. I don’t know if it is because the green leaves are less pungent (totally making that up) or if it is just they get seared a bit with oil and garlic? Either way I have made this dish twice now and loved it both times.

I added the egg the first time (but was too lazy to find almonds) and took it out the next. Honestly I like it better without the egg. Especially if you are eating with a protein, like my lovely ruby red trout below. But for you veggies out there it would be a great filling and healthy lunch meal.

Brussels Sprouts Chop
Adapted from With Style and Grace

1 lb brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
4 large hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup slivered/chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Taking one brussels sprout at a time, cut the bottom off and peel from the bottom what you can remove. Peel until you get close to the center and you can’t peel anymore. You may either discard the center or cut in half and roast at a later time. Place all the leaves a bowl.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add brussels sprouts leaves and sauté until slightly wilted or lightly browned. Remove from heat. Add the chopped hard-boiled eggs, slivered almonds and sprinkle with sea salt and mix together.

Nothing stays in Vegas

Contrary to the popular tag line, nothing stays in Vegas if you have two bloggers and 4 prevalent Facebook/Instagram users. Nothing.

About two weeks ago I was the 6th wheel on a Vegas trip to see Celine. Oh, you heard me right. CELINE DION. If you need to leave my blog this minute I will not be offended. But it was life changing.

Lauren and I have loved CELINE since the early 90s. You can’t tell me you didn’t love Where Does my Heart Beat Now (how she opened the show) and It’s all coming back to me now. What you don’t? Stop lying to yourself. As my friend KK says, “She doesn’t have a bad song.”

So at least 9 months ago Lauren decided we needed to go see her. Neither of us was allowed to have any more babies this year (no problem here) and we were doing something for ourselves. As we were planning, her fun friends caught wind of it and it turned into a six person girls trip.

Lauren and I were in charge of booking the room and my brother-in-law Dewayne got involved. He said we absolutely needed to stay at the Bellagio and we should go ahead and get a suite. Sure, that is totally normal for people who usually go fancy at the Holiday Inn Express. Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that D himself would be going back to Vegas himself in the near future….not one thing.

Never to look a gift horse in the mouth we agreed. And it was the best decision. We spent the mornings in the living room of the suite drinking coffee and talking until we could motivate ourselves to throw on clothes and leave the room for brunch. Joanna tells you about our delicious breakfast on the first day and takes you on a tour of our suite. It really was some of the best food I have ever eaten.

Lauren and I went to the VIP lounge to steal waters and diet coke for the room (always classy) and this is what we encountered on the way back.
That is Keri, Maria, Debra and Joanna walking through the casino in their bathrobes headed to the spa. I would like to say they got some strange looks but not really and they were some of the most covered up people in the hallways. 
That night was CELINE!!!! Here we are before the show. Before Lauren and I were throwing our arms around like she does (we are spot on) and before Debra tried it and knocked the old lady in front of her in the head. Before our lives were changed forever by the amazing voice that CELINE has. I am not ashamed. She is amazing. And not like how the Kardashian’s think everything is amazing. Truly amazing.
The show staff went on and on and on about no photos before the show. That only made me want to take pictures more – are these people not parents? We were so close to the stage that I could not get a good one without being caught (@humblebrag). But she was shown up on the screens to our right and I snapped some.

Technically these are not even her. They are a hologram of her that the real CELINE did a duet with. Consider your mind blown. Are you jealous you were not there yet? You should be. It was seriously a glorious night and as the man in front of us said, “How can I go back to my normal life after this????!!”. So true, my friend, so true. 


Here are my new besties (plus my one of 31 years Lauren) crowded into the two double beds in the second room of the suite. This is how we spent Sunday afternoon. They taught me about Twitter and how to use a hashtag. #fastlearner

That night we went to see Boyz II Men. Apparently Keri is a crazy BIIM fan. Cra-zy. Of course I say that but I too purchased a BIIM sleep shirt. That is right, a bright pink shirt that says “I’ll make love to you” in sliver writing on it. Alex almost fell on the floor when he saw it. Laughing.

And the show was really, really good. They perform at the Mirage in a small stage and put on an excellent show. Keri was over the moon!! It was hysterical and awesome to see her get so excited.

I had so much more fun in Vegas than I thought I would. A huge part of that was due to the group of girls I was with. I didn’t know them all that well and we are now intimately acquainted. And planning our next trip. I can’t wait! It is all coming back to me now…

I am not kidding, he is terrible

I love my fat baby more than anything, but good Lord is he a terror. I think I traumatized one of Liv’s very nice friends by calling him an asshole. Whoops. Surely she was warned about Liv’s inappropriate daughter in law?

I mean he is mine and I am just loving him through this – but he is an ass. I think this must be what serial killers mothers feel like. They have done the best they can and their children are still assholes.

Somehow calling him one makes me laugh when he is having a full out fit on the floor of Walgreens or hitting his brother because he wants his “CRACKER!!!”.

He now can say/scream quite a few words including: Zach, cat, cow, help, nonononononono, mama, dada, Norm and bird. But he refuses to even try to say “please”.

This is a video of me trying to get him to say please as he is asking for “help” to get up on the couch. You will see he just gives up versus actually trying to say the word.

Now when you say, “James, say ‘please’.” he nods his head and says “Uh huh” and then “thank you”.

Such an ass.

Lemon Chicken and Orzo

I spotted this recipe (I am not even going to waste you time telling you where – you all know) for Lemon Orzo Chicken soup and I thought 1) my kids would eat that and 2) I can use the Meyer lemons I bought at the HEB.

Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup

It was a success even though I did try to screw it up and sort of did….here is what I did and what I would change.

I didn’t have carrots as Alex had thrown them out (since he never eats at home he thinks everything in our fridge is always expired) so I added radishes and celery. Don’t do that. The celery was not a good taste and the radishes were fine but they cooked way down and were unrecognizable  I also used the Meyer lemons I was super excited to find. Not good either. Something about that specific taste of lemon was just OK. So in summary – do what she says and don’t try to get creative.

Lemon Chicken and Orzo
adapted from Good Life Eats (try not to be scared of her too-happy in her turquoise photo- the recipe is good)

1 lb cooked and cut up/shredded chicken
1 shallot, diced 
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white wine
3 carrots, sliced into rounds
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 – 3/4 cup orzo pasta, uncooked
3 egg yolks
2 – 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme (I think dried would be fine, but again what do I know)
2 – 3 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach, chopped

Add 1 tablespoon of olive or canola oil in a large dutch oven. Saute the shallot over medium-high heat until golden and tender. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.

Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and carrot. Bring to a boil. 
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and lemon together. Add 1 cup of hot broth very slowly to the egg yolk mixture, whisking as you pour. Pour into the wine/broth mixture. Stir in the orzo, thyme and chicken.
Continue cooking over medium-low until the pasta and carrots are tender (10-15 minutes). 
Just before serving, season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Add the basil, and spinach. Serve immediately.

St. Paddy’s Day – Nailed It

I am certain you all have seen and coveted these St. Patrick’s shamrocks on Pinterest.

toilet paper roll four leaf clover shamrock stamp 

Darling, right? And so easy! You just make hearts out of toilet paper rolls and your precious children stamp them.

This is what happened when I decided to do this with the boys:

Nailed it. Totally the same.

I normally really like the authors of this craft, Prudent Baby, but this time I think they are lying liars. As you can see calling these “shamrocks” is a bit misleading. However I did just notice that I was supposed to do more folding and taping than I did…as usual too lazy to read the full instructions. I have serious misgivings about if it would have actually changed the final outcome, though.

Zach also refused to draw the stems which really was fine by me. And I don’t own a mini-stamp set (even I draw the line somewhere) so this was our 2 minute craft for the day. James wanted to stick his fingers in the paint and eat it so it was more of a 30 second craft for that guy.

I am saving the paper for next year so we can get it out and laugh at how clever Mommy thought she was.