Shoo... it's H-O-T!

L to R: Smoke, Mumu, and Moooostache (almost 2 months old!)

It's been so hot here!  I think we skipped right over the wet part of Spring into the HOTTEST part of Summer.  I feel like little Mumu in the middle of the photo.  Stick a fork in me... I am done!

We attended my husband's cousin's graduation yesterday at our old high school.  If felt so strange being there again after 14 years.  Then I realized it had been 14 years and nearly broke down in tears.  When I tell you that it was as hot as Hell in there, I mean the devil walked out and said, "D-A-A-A-M-N, it's hot in here!"  No amount of fanning with the program would help either.  To make matters worse, people were just getting up and leaving after their family members name was called!  At the exact moment that Joshua was getting his diploma and I was snapping that ever important moment....


Oh looky.... a stoooo-pid little girl walked right in front of me.  I was less than happy.  There were four of us trying to snap that image and NONE of us got one.  The sad part was the photographer who was selling photo packages wanted $10 for ONE 4 x 5 print of your graduate getting handed their diploma.  There was no way that I, or any of our family, was going to pay that much for a picture that you can get developed yourself for less than a dollar.  Talk about a rip off!

And just to keep it random around here...  I leave you with preggo belly pics!

Black Bean and Cilantro Quesadillas

{source}
Black Bean and Cilantro Quesadillas
via Whole Foods Market
Serves 2
Print it here!

2 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cooked and drained black beans
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro


Set a heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add a tortilla and warm. Flip tortilla. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over tortilla. Lightly cover cheese with half of the beans and cilantro. Top with a second tortilla. Flip and warm on the second side. When beans are hot and cheese is melted, slide quesadilla onto a cutting board and slice into four wedges.

Psssst...

I have a confession to make.  Ready?  I use the AUTO setting on my SLR camera 90% of the time, 5% of the time I have it set on one of those built-in presets, the other 5% is me just wingin' it.  I need to buy a book for Dummies.  Most of the time the AUTO setting works just find, but some how I still feel like I'm shorting myself and my images.

I am not a photographer.  I just like to take photographs.  I'm more on the Ansel Adams (except with color) side of the scale.  I enjoy natural light and leaves and flowers and bugs.


This is my favorite.  EVER.  I took this photo back in 2005 with a 4 mega-pixel Kodak CX7430 Point & Shoot camera.  I didn't know a single thing about taking photos except to aim the camera and push the button.  I think I got seriously lucky.  And the fact that apparently this little fellow was really excited about the nectar in that lilac tree didn't hurt either!

I thought if I could take a photo that totally awesome with a 4 mega-pixel camera... IMAGINE what I could do with one that had twice the mega-pixels!  So I bought another Kodak.  A C875!  It had all the bells and whistles, different priority modes (PASM), video, blah, blah, blah.  It was also around this time that I figured out that you should really never ever, ever, ever use digital zoom.  It's just bad juju man.  On that tiny little LCD screen your image will look perfect.  On a normal screen or on paper... not so much.  But I did get loads and loads of photos with this camera that I thought were da bomb y'all.


Not to mention the years of family photos.  The only real issue I had with this camera was what I call the "washout" factor.  If I was trying to take a photo in a low-light situation, you were going to show up in the image looking like Casper's long lost sister or brother.  Everyone always came out looking 4 shades whiter than what they actually were.

I still have a point and shoot camera, but thanks to the knowledge of a friend, I bought a Canon.  Love it.  Small, compact, literally fits in my back pocket, and doesn't cause excessive "washout" factors when taking photos indoors!

I don't know how I got so carried away with this...  All I really wanted to do was show you these photos I took yesterday NOT using the AUTO setting!  Oooo.... and doing some fine tweaking, like those darn rounded corners.



This last one?  My less than girly girl just hangin' out.  I love her silly self.


The Rest of Sunday

After we got rained out of a super fabulous open house at hubs' work, we decided to take a little side trip by the good ol' Green River.

We have no railroad lines through Butler County so for most of the history of our county, the Green River was the main way of travel.  The Army Corps of Engineers established several locks and dams to aid in navigation of the Green River.  In 1965, Lock and Dam #4 in Woodbury failed and Lock and Dam #3 (Rochester Dam) was abandoned by the ACoE in 1980.  The river is still navigable up to that point and used by the coal industry of Muhlenburg County.  Many Kentuckians earn a living through this industry and many support it.  For the record, I am not a fan of coal.  It is a non-renewable energy resource and it destroys more than it creates.


Part of the lock wall.


As much as I really wanted to jump this fence for some better pictures, the sign kind of scared me a little.


This was part of a retaining wall next to the lock waters.  I loved how you could still see the marks left by the tools that had shaped them.

At the top of the hill is the 1912 and 1913 Superintendents' Houses.  The 1912 house is now used as the Green River Museum while the 1913 house is currently being renovated.  Not only does it house history of Woodbury and the Green River, but also of Butler County.  It is only open on Saturday's and I'm going to return soon to get a tour.


This is the 1913 house.  I love it!  Just behind the house (on the right of this photo) is the old smoke house.  And there is even an old brick out house too!  Those windows at the top, the wrap around porch... wait until you see the view!


B-e-a-u-tiful!

The little outcrop of stone to the right of the image is where I was standing when I took the first photo shown in this post.  That is the exit doors of the old lock.  The river levels are a little higher than normal due to the recent flooding and heavy rain fall, but where you see a few sprigs of grass/trees/bushes sticking out of the water (just before the river begins to turn) is where the old dam is located.  

I'm really excited about the weather finally warming up some so I can get out and start taking in some green scenery!  If you know me, then you know I love learning about the history of where I am so I can't wait to get out of the house and find some history to capture!

It's Time for...

... guess what we did this weekend!  Oooo, I know you are so excited!  On a side note, I realized earlier while commenting  on another blog that I have an obsession with using exclamation points!  I really should seek a support group!!

Any hoo-zee...  Saturday was supposed to be mow the yard day.  Normally I love, love, love mowing the yard. It's like a great little place to go and gather your thoughts for 3 hours.  Well, it takes us 3 hours.  We have a big yard.  I usually complain about having to do it, but I seriously love making the yard look good.  The only thing better than a freshly mowed yard?  New shoes.  Nothing can beat a pair of new shoes, right ladies?  Well, instead of mowing in the morning, we went fishin'!  I didn't actually do any fishing, but I supervised quite nicely.  Catfish goes for around $5.99-$6.99 a pound at the local grocery, but we caught about 7 pounds for $15!  Score!

Sunday was Open House at my husband's job.  The kids (and me, too!) love when they do an open house because that means we get to take a tour inside the plant.  He's been working there for 6 years this July and this is only the 3rd time they've had an open house.  The company manufactures automotive frames for Ford, BMW, Nissan, and Mercedes.  It's a damn good bet to say that if you drive a newer model Ford F150 or a F250-450, your frame was manufactured in Bowling Green, Kentucky right here at...


Sorry, no inside the plant photos.  Not allowed to take photos.  That didn't stop me from trying to take some stealthy images though... except I forgot that my camera lens was on manual focus.  D'OH!  That's what I get for trying to sneak some peeks, right?

About 2 hours after our arrival, a storm moved in so we moved out!


We had to make a stop by good ol' Walmart to grab some stuff not available at our local stores.  I begged off the trials of navigating those aisles.  Instead I did this...


Took photos of the rain drops on the car windows and mirrors.  'Cause I mean, what else is there to do while waiting for your family?!


Tomorrow I'll share some photos of an old lock and dam along the Green River and the grounds around it.

Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream!

I found another Chai cake recipe to share because I love me some Chai tea and this cake... mmm...mmm....good!

{source}
Chai Cake
via Tender Crumb

Cake
1 and 1/3 cups of milk
6 chai tea bags, without added sweetner, such as Tazo
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 and 3/4 cups of cake flour
2 cups of sugar
4 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of salt
8 ounces of unsalted butter at room temp.

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of the pans and line with parchment paper. Grease the paper as well.

In a small saucepan bring the milk to a simmer over low med-low heat. Add the tea bags, careful not to let the paper tag fall into the milk. Remove from heat and allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the teabags and squeeze out the milk. Let the chai milk cool completely.

In a medium bowl mix the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/3 cup of the chai milk. Whisk together.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining chai milk, on med-low speed.

Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture in three additions scraping the between additions. Divide the batter evenly among the pans.

Bake the cakes for 26-28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.Remove cakes from pans and peel off parchment paper. Cool completely.

To assemble the cake place one layer flat side down a serving plate and top with 2/3 cup of icing. Spread to the edge and repeat with second layer. Place third layer on top and spread the remaining ginger cream on top allowing it to drizzle down the sides of the cake like icicles.


Honey-Ginger Cream

2 and 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar {decreased to 1 1/2 cups}
6 ounces of cream cheese at room temp. {increased to 9 oz}
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 cup of honey (any kind as long as liquid)
1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger {substituted w. 1 1/2 tbsp finely minced crystalized ginger}

Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse to blend together, then scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse until smooth.


Areas indicated with this color are adjustments made by Tender Crumb.

That Darn Sweet Tooth...

Guess what I did yesterday y'all?  I ate a bowl of ice cream.  Butter pecan ice cream.  I figured the pecans cancelled out the butter.  And on Tuesday... I ate a bear claw.

I had a check-up yesterday morning and I've LOST two pounds!  The nurse asked me if I was eating ok.  Uh, no.  Not really.  I told her that it's this stupid diabetes diet.  I can't eat things like ice cream and Little Debbie cakes, instead I'm eating broccoli and carrots.  She said, "Well the baa-bee needs broccoli and carrots. *insert cheesy grin here*".  To which, I said (in my mind)... "Well, Mama needs ice cream and Little Debbie cakes." Then I really did insert my own cheesy ass grin right back.  I mean how am I supposed to gain weight when all I'm eating is low-fat, low-calorie, lean meats only!, no sugar, full of bran/fiber, make me go poop every 5 minutes foods?  Please explain.

So here's the dealio...  I'm still avoiding excessive sugar intake, but I'm going back to eating REAL FOOD.  In fact, this morning I'm eating a sausage biscuit for breakfast.  I don't want to harm myself or my baby, but losing weight is not the goal here.  Not to mention that before they gave me this new diabetic diet to follow, I was feeling fine.  I had one instance of having some flashes in my vision, but other than a little fatigue, felt fine. Since counting all these calories ('cause I'm supposed to be stuffing in 2,200 calories every day!) and carbohydrates, I've been feeling more tired and less active.

I'm almost to the end of the pregnancy (32 weeks this week!!) and I don't want to go backwards.  My total weight gain now is only 8 pounds.  I am not happy about this.  I wasn't really happy two weeks ago when the total was only 10 pounds, but 10 pounds sounds better than only 8!!

The Wednesday Hump

I'm not too certain how I came across the website this photo came from, but it's full of ridiculous and funny images.  Then I saw this image and was wow'd.  It's a bubble in mid-pop.  Enjoy!  Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday Tunes {Alison Krauss & Union Station}


Homemade Girl Scout Cookies: Samoa Bars!

Samoa Bars
via Baking Bites
Print it here!

Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt


First, make the crust.

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.

Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

Topping:
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.

When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).

Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies.

She also has recipes for "regular" Samoas, Do-Si-Do's, Tagalongs, and Thin Mints!!

Wednesday Woes

Well, isn't that interesting!  Have you ever noticed when you buy something (anything!) you start to see it everywhere you look?  On Sunday, my husband and son took me to the movies to see "Fast Five" (LOVED it!), but when we came out to leave I was a little perplexed.  Uh... hmmm... well, alrighty then!  Our car was parked next to... our car!  The only difference between them?  Ours has tinted windows.  Same make, model, year... hell, it even had the same brand of tire!  I had to take a photo of it.  I mean... seriously.  Then as we were pulling away, I noticed that the family getting into the car had been IN THE SAME MOVIE!  Talk about cosmic weirdness!

I hadn't mentioned it here yet because I wanted to wait for the final results, but I received bad news from the doctor's office.  I took my first blood glucose test on Wednesday of last week.  The nurse called on Thursday to let me know that I had failed both of the tests.  Not only did I have to go in for a second 3 hour glucose test, I also am anemic and have to begin taking iron supplements.  Joy.  Monday was my 3 hour test.  I was actually feeling pretty good when I first got to there, but shortly after drinking that oh so awesome glucola junk, I thought I was gonna hurl.  I survived it though and managed to hold it down for the 3 hours while being stuck 4 damn times with a needle.  The nurse called this Wednesday to let me know that I had passed two, but also failed two of the tests.  Now they want me to go on a 2,200 calorie a day ADA diet.  She didn't just come right out and say, "You have gestational diabetes.", but that's all I'm hearing in my head.

I am so clueless when in comes to diabetes.  I have no idea what I'm supposed to eat.  I have no idea what I'm supposed to drink.  I, of course, Google'd that and found this helpful website.  And I think it's just made it worse!  I'm not a big eater on a normal basis, but this site says that I'm supposed to have "13 servings of starch, eight servings of meat, four servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, two servings of milk and five servings of fat." every day.  I just don't eat that much.  I'm so worried, so bummed, so over all this junk!

Tuesday Tunes {Adele}

I really love this woman's voice.  It's so beautiful!




Mother's Day Roast Chicken

{source}
Jim's Lemon & Rosemary Roast Chicken with Country Vegetables
via Chicken Recipes Please
Print it here!

One whole free-range chicken, 3 lbs.
1-½ lbs. finger potatoes
About 24 pearl onions
10 or more garlic cloves
20-24 asparagus spears
6-8 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 lemons, cut into quarters
½ cup olive oil
½ stick butter
½ teaspoon dried oregano
A sprinkling of sea salt
A sprinkling of black pepper


Stuff the chicken with as many of the quarter pieces of lemon as possible. Also, place inside the chicken, 4 to 6 of the pearl onions, 2 to 4 of the garlic cloves, and a sprig of fresh rosemary.


Place the chicken in a large roasting pan containing 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a half-cup of water.


Melt the butter and stir it into the remaining olive oil. Brush some of the butter and oil mixture on the chicken. Squeeze two of the lemon quarters over the chicken. Sprinkle the oregano, sea salt, and black pepper onto the chicken. Place the two lemon skins (from the squeezed lemons) on top of the chicken; then arrange 4 rosemary springs over the chicken. Around the chicken, arrange any of the remaining lemon quarters (not squeezed).


Bake in a 325ºF oven for 45 minutes. Two or three times during the cooking process, brush more of the butter and olive oil mixture onto the chicken.


After the 45 minutes roasting time has elapsed, add the finger potatoes, the remaining onions and garlic, and the remaining rosemary sprigs to the pan, arranged evenly around the chicken.


Bake for an additional 45 minutes to an hour. Again, brush the chicken, and the potatoes, with more of the butter and oil mixture, two or three times during the remainder of the cooking time.
When the chicken is almost done (170ºF as measured on a reliable meat thermometer), coat the asparagus with some of the butter and oil mixture and then arrange the asparagus around the chicken.


Cook for another 6 to 8 minutes. Do not overcook the asparagus!


Remove the pan from the oven, place the chicken on a cutting board, tent the chicken with foil, and let it rest for about 5 minutes prior to carving.


Serve the chicken with the finger potatoes, onions, garlic cloves, and asparagus for a complete meal.

Jim recommends using free range chicken because it has that country flavor and juiciness that adds to the dish. However, finding free range chicken in your area may not be feasible. I know it's not that easy to find in my area.

Cinco de Mayo

I have been a terrible blogger lately!  Between baseball meetings, baseball games, and just being pregnant and not wanting to do anything, I haven't had much to write about here.  Speaking of being pregnant...  this week is 30 weeks!  Just 10 more weeks to go!  At the doctor's appointment yesterday I had only gained 1 pound since my last appointment 3 weeks ago, but I've gained about 10 pounds total.  It was around this time with both of my other pregnancies that I really began to gain weight.  Now I'm down to going to the doctor every 2 weeks.  I can't believe I'm so close to my due date!!

The flooding in our area has been ridiculous.  Seriously ridiculous.  The Army Corps of Engineers even blew up the Birds Point levee to save the town of Cairo, Ill.  Except in doing so, they flooded more than 130,000 acres of farmland and 100+ homes.  It seems to me this was always going to be a LOSE - LOSE situation.

Image taken from article on Kentucky.com.

And since we are on the subject of Kentucky... it's Derby Weekend y'all!  Do you have your supply of good ol' Kentucky bourbon?  Made your pick for the winning horse?  Placed your bets?  What about your Derby hat?  You simply MUST have a Derby hat!  Just don't wear anything like.... whatever the hell this was...

Image from..... well, I just Google'd it.

Royal or not, this isn't even acceptable in the back country of Kentucky.  Poor girl...

My derby horse pick?  Twinspired!

No Joy - UPDATED!!

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, 
but I will not rejoice in the death of one, 
not even an enemy. 
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, 
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. 
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. 
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." 


- Unknown - 


*Apparently this is NOT a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. so I have removed his name from it. Thank you Shea!  However, I still agree with it and it reflects my feelings about the current situation regarding Osama Bin Laden's death.

Mother's Day Breakfast Idea: Spinach & Ricotta Frittata

{source}

Spinach and Ricotta Frittata
via Food Blogga
Makes 8 servings
Print it here!

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced
8 large eggs
4 ounces (1/4 cup) whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
4 ounces (1/4 cup) grated Grana Padano cheese, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or fresh grated nutmeg
a liberal helping of salt and freshly ground black pepper


Melt butter in an 8-inch non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms; saute 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add spinach and cook just until wilted. Season with salt and black pepper.


In a medium bowl beat eggs. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, 1/2 of the Grana Padano, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. Add to the eggs and lightly mix. Pour into the skillet.
With a fork, gently move the egg mixture from side to side allowing the egg to seep to the bottom of the pan. Do this for 5-7 minutes, until the eggs start to solidify and a crust begins to form around the edges. Give the pan handle a jiggle, and when the eggs appear nearly set, evenly sprinkle the second half of the cheese over the top of the frittata.


Remove the pan from the stove top and place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, or until the top puffs up and turns golden brown. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Let cool for a couple of minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Optional garnish: In a small bowl toss 1 cups of halved cherry tomatoes with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs such as basil, dill, or parsley. Serve atop the frittata.