Dead Battery Beret

Between helping with a Halloween carnival and stressing about whether my husband would return from D.C. before the hurricane, I’ve had precious little time on my hands. Inevitably, when life gets stressful, the universe decides to pile on an extra helping of challenge, just to make sure I’m paying attention. While I was dealing with an oh-so-convenient dead car battery, I managed to finish another Christmas gift. This slouchy beret turned out ok, though my battery was a lost cause. I can’t complain too terribly much, because the guy at the auto part store took pity on me (and the three kids I had in tow), and installed the battery for me. Technically, I know how to install my own dang car battery, but his quick worked saved me time and a massive headache. Can’t beat that with a stick.

Trying Something New

On our day at the farm, the Heathens were emboldened by the presence of their friends, and both tried something new. It’s great to have friends that lift them up and encourage them.

**Special thanks to my friend N. for taking and sharing these photos! Without her I would have totally missed out on keeping these memories**

The Farm, the Lake, a Mogwai and Squash Soup.

After a ton of hard work, the Heathens both brought home perfect report cards! My husband and I were thrilled, and decided to slow things down this weekend with some family fun. Friday, my friend N. and I took our kids to a farm for a day of outdoor adventuring in the beautiful Fall weather. Bear rode a horse for the first time, and G-Man ran wild with his best friends. This outing was a much-deserved reward for those straight A’s, and I think the fresh air did everyone a world of good. That night, we piled into bed and watched Gremlins, and which our kids had never seen, let alone even heard of. What started as fidgety impatience immediately morphed into rapt attention the second Gizmo appeared on the screen.

With perfect weather extending through the weekend, my husband packed up the fishing gear on Saturday morning, and we headed to the lake.

After the lake, we had an epic family badminton tournament with our neighbors and fell into bed that night exhausted. Sunday was a day full of cleaning, book reports and catching up, but my husband made several loaves of fluffy pumpkin bread, and a delicious butternut squash soup with sausage for dinner. The older Heathens treated the soup like it was a medieval torture device, but Bean and I gobbled it down.

But, now it’s Monday…*sigh* and I woke up with the sniffles and a sore throat, I have a to-do list a mile long and my house looks like a herd of pigs stampeded through it. Guess I better hop to it.

I’ll Take That as a Compliment

When Bean and I were at the library on Friday, we ran into an old colleague from my pre-Bean days as a working mom. We chatted for a bit and caught up on all the developments in the past few months, while I juggled Bean and tried to stop her from slobbering over the one clean patch I had left on my shirt.

As my friend and I were visiting, she stopped me mid-sentence and said, “I just can’t get over it; you look so happy…you used to smile before, but now you glow. I’ve never seen you smile so much.”

She was also the first person who didn’t ask me when I was going back to work.

Our budget may be on life support, I haven’t had a haircut in eight months and we’ve been downgraded to the cheap hooch, but you know what? I wouldn’t miss this for the world.

No Mascara Required—Cookies Without a Trip to the Store

In my quest to make the Heathens more homemade snacks, (and thereby diminishing the power of that evil witch, Little Debbie), I’ve hit a road block or two. Mostly, we tend run out of goodies right at the worst possible time, like when I’d rather stab myself in the leg than trek the grocery store for the fourth time that week. That’s where these sugar cookies come in. They are quick, easy and made of ingredients I always have on hand. So, I still get the cool mom points from the boys, but I don’t have to go postal while trying to navigate the crowded grocery store with a less-than-chipper baby.

Super-Easy Sugar Cookies

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  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (use the good stuff, imitation is for sissies)
  • Colored decorator sugar

Preparation

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

2) In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add in dry ingredients until well-combined.

3) Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, then roll half the balls in colored decorator sugar. Place balls sugar side up on baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until done. Try not to over-bake these. They’re better a little underdone than overdone.

Thursday Night Cheesy Goodness—The Perfect Cure for Bad Days

This just hasn’t been our week. We’ve had a stream of unexpected visitors and unexpected expenses.

Bad days call for a little comfort food. Don’t let the terrible photo fool you. Last night’s dinner was to die for, and this was the only snapshot I could get of it before it was devoured by my husband. I saw a similar recipe for this Mac and Cheese casserole in Southern Living, but adapted it to what we had on hand. It was creamy, smoky, and the andouille sausage gave it just a hint of spice. When making stuff like this, you really do need to use freshly grated cheese. When you buy pre-shredded cheese, it is coated with a powder to prevent it from sticking, and this same gunk can mess up the texture of the cheese when you try to melt it into a sauce. You’ll miss the perfect gooey happiness, so take the extra five minutes and grate your cheese, please.

Andouille Mac and Cheese

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Ingredients

  • 1 (16-oz.) box cellentani pasta
  • 1 (13.5-oz.) package andouille sausage (I used Johnsonville)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups half and half
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (16-oz.) package Velveeta, cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups freshly grated smoked Gouda cheese
  • ½ cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 (5-oz.) package kettle-cooked potato chips, crumbled (or about 2 cups crumbled potato chips)

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13 casserole with non-stick spray. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, cut sausage in half lengthwise, then cut halves into ¼ inch-thick pieces. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, sauté sausage over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Remove sausage from skillet and drain on paper towels.

3. Add heavy cream and half and half to the same skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the pepper and Velveeta, and cook until completely melted, stirring constantly. Add Gouda, cheddar, sausage, and cooked pasta, stirring until combined. This may look like you have a bit too much sauce at this point, but fear not. The pasta will absorb a lot of it during baking.

4. Pour pasta mixture into casserole. Top with crumbled potato chips. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

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If the Mac and Cheese didn’t bring us out of our funk, a weekend of beautiful Autumn weather on the horizon should do the trick.