Friday, December 18, 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow...

In our area, tomorrow, Mother Nature is planning on dumping a whole lot of snow. Possibly up to twelve inches! For my friends and family up North and out Mid-West that doesn't seem like a lot...but for us Eastern shore folks it's quite a bit. I HATE to drive in the snow. BUT I LOVE being stuck inside safely with my hubby and little boy.
I've decided to do some cooking this weekend since my house is nice and clean, and we'll be stuck inside anyway. I wanted to make a soup... so I think I'll make my Lobster & Crab Seafood Bisque. This with shrimp appetizer, some bread and cheese, and possibly even a little glass of wine will be the perfect dinner for a snowy night!
Bobbi’s Lovely Lumpy Lobster & Crab Bisque Soup
Serves about 8.
3 cans of Bookbinder’s Lobster Bisque Soup
3 tablespoons of butter
3 - ½ cans of milk
¼ cup of light cream
3 lump crab cakes any flavor, chopped up into small bits
1 dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes
1 dash or two of parsley flakes
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Directions: Add three cans of soup, butter, milk, cream, red pepper flakes, parsley flakes, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper together in large saucepan. Heat but do not boil. Once warm, add the crab cake bits. Allow to simmer for at least one hour.

For variation: Cook 2 cups of Rice (directions on package – do not use instant), after it has finished cooking stir in a tablespoon of butter to keep from sticking. Spread cooked rice on plate, server warm bisque overtop.
Also - I sometimes like serve it alongside a nice grilled cheese sandwich - DELISH!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lighting Up The Night

I am so proud of my husband. Each year he sets out to make a holiday light display that is bright and festive - but also looks nice. He works really hard getting them all up, and making sure everything is not only working right, but looks good, and is secure for whatever the seasonal weather may bring. In other words...we don't just slap on some lights, throw some blow up "decor" on our lawn and call it a day. We plan it out, and each year we create our own decorations using wood, paint...and power tools! (This year's theme was Charlie Brown's Christmas - cute right!!) The light count this year came in just over 17,000!!! Amazing!
While I do have this picture to share with doesn't do the lights justice. I had to stand across the street in my neighbors' garden just to get in most of the house and lights. Tony's already joking that next year we'll have to set up the camera on a tripod on the neighbor's roof just to get it all into a picture. I'm pretty sure he's joking...but I guess we'll have to wait and see.
We had a nice little party last weekend with pizza and coffee, hot chocolate and cookies, where good friends of ours came with their kids and we enjoyed turning the lights on for the first time - all together. It's a great night, and I am so happy to share it with them.

I'm really very proud of my Tony. The house looks amazing honey...great job once again!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fun Wintry Decor

This year I wanted to decorate my home to look like a natural winter wonderland. Of course I couldn't go too wild with the theme since I have a little munchkin running around the house, but I really like the way the interior of our house turned out.

During the summer and fall Tony collects the large branches that fall from the trees surrounding our backyard into a pile. I decided to take a bunch from that pile, spray paint half with white glitter paint, and use these branches as a way to bring the outside in! Also - we cut down a small tree in our yard, so I used the branches from that to also decorate with a little extra green around the house. The pictures don't do it justice. With candles lit and the lights turned low, it looks quite festive and pretty.
I placed little baskets of cheer all over the house, which added an extra little sparkle!
Originally I planned on putting out my Christmas village on the shelves above our entertainment center...but once I got started with this year's theme, I just rolled with it. I created the "lanterns" in the middle out of paper using tape, funky scissors, and a hole punch. Tommy and I made white lanterns for the dining room table using the same idea, and dipping the bottoms into glitter. I love the way it turned out and they look so pretty when the battery-operated tea light inside is glowing.
I carried the "natural" theme to our Christmas tree this year. I hung ornaments in silver and gold, and white lights. Then Tommy and I painted pinecones which we collected at a local park and let dry (GREAT Toddler art project!) and we hung those as well. I LOVE the way the tree looks.
The last thing I made this year was my interpretation of a decor idea that I saw in the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. I LOVE the way it turned simple to make too!!
The above welcome lantern is just outside on the landing to our front door. I also hung some holly branches to our porch lights...another easy thing to do which took about two minutes but added a little extra festive touch! More on our outside decor and lights in the next blog. ;)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Halloween....yeah, I know I'm late.

I know I know... but I wanted to make sure I shared these pictures. They are my favorites from Halloween. The first ones are Tommy...he went as Spongebob this year and LOVED knocking on doors for Candy. I made Tony take the candy into need for that sort of temptation! :)
The other pictures are from the wedding we attended on Halloween night. I LOVE this black and white one I took...wish it hadn't been so fuzzy. Congratulations again to Pat and Anastasia...we had a wonderful time...the dessert table was AWESOME!! (Couldn't totally avoid temptation when they had tiramisu AND every cake I could wish for!!) Yikes!! YUM!!!

Hope I'm Not On The Naughty List

I have been a very bad blogger lately. I always WANT to update my blog, but with the precious minutes I get to myself, it has just been easier to update facebook (I've even been behind in that). *Sigh* At some point I'll catch up. I'm planning to update more during december...some fun things are in store this upcoming month!

I missed most of November, and on this - the last day... I's like to share just a few pictures from this month. In the beginning of the month I took some pictures of Tommy and his little friends playing in the leaves in our backyard. I liked this one of Tommy.
Also - my parents adopted a new little puppy. Scooter is so so cute!! He's always on the move and loves to climb all over you....he certainly matches his given name. Tommy absolutely loved scooter, as did I... Mav, well - not so much, but it is funny to watch scooter chase Mav around.
I took Tommy to a local park one day. It was such a beautiful day I had to take advantage and get some pictures of him exploring. He's getting to be such a big boy. He's using more and more words everyday, growing taller by the week, and losing the last of the "baby" face. It's bitter sweet for us. We love that he's growing up, communicating with us and making minor decisions for himself. He's such a character - loves to be silly and will do anything to make others laugh. BUT - I miss my cuddly chunky little baby.
We had a bit of a scare the week before Thanksgiving. One day Tommy went to bed with what I thought was dry skin across his lower back, by the following afternoon he had begun to get hives across his belly...which then spread to his entire body. We aren't 100 percent sure what he had, we're thinking it was an allergic reaction to something new he ate...but there is no way to be sure unless I reintroduce it...and I don't plan on doing that ANYTIME soon. It was scary for all of us. He couldn't sleep, he wouldn't eat, and was obviously itchy. The hives lasted about 4 days, and finally the last of them faded away the day before we went to Virginia for Thanksgiving. Doesn't this picture break your heart? Poor baby.
Thanksgiving we spent in Virginia Beach with my sister and her husband. He had a great time visiting. Tommy really loves his Aunt Carrie and Uncle Brett. We were thankful we could spend some quality time with them.
The sunset on the drive down.
My little pilgrim and his daddy. Tommy painted his hat himself!
Getting ready to feast.
Tommy and I on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ghoulia Child Cooks Here!

That title is for my Book Club girls…cause they’ll “get” it. Plus, I thought it was cute for Halloween.

It isn’t always easy to find the time to cook and bake like I’d like too. At least, not while Tommy is so young and needs our attention focused on what he’s up too. I’m not complaining though, because when I do get the time to cook or bake, I truly enjoy it.

We’ve had a lot going on both in our little family life and socially, since the beginning of the month. I find it’s nice to take a break from all the thinking, planning, and “doing” of things when I force myself to find a recipe that sounds interesting and to make it. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Fall always feels like the perfect time to try something new, or try a different recipe for a familiar comfort-food recipe. I’ve made a few different things from soups to meats to desserts. I thought I would share a couple with you. I don’t have pictures for all of them…but trust me – they were delish!

My supermarket had butternut squash on sale so I decided to make soup out of it. I’ve only had BNS soup once, but I remembered enjoying the taste and texture. I found this recipe from Food Network, and after reading the reviews decided to change things up a bit and make it my own. Here’s my recipe:
Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, peeled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 Red delicious apple sliced
4 cups chicken stock
Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add squash, apple and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender (or food processor) and puree. Return pureed squash to pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve.

* Note: I learned the hard way how hard it is to cut fresh squash…the tip from my friend Tana to you: Poke holes in the squash (like you would a potato), and put into the microwave for a couple minutes. This makes the squash more tender and easier to both cut and peel. Thanks T!!That night I grilled up some cheese sandwiches and served them along with soup. We all enjoyed it…Tommy even began to dip his sandwich into the soup before he ate it. Yum!!A few days later I wanted to make baked macaroni and cheese, but use the recipe for “Smart Mac.” The recipe is not as cheesey as some others I’ve had and light too – I didn’t feel stuffed after indulging in a bowl of it! We use Barilla Plus elbow macs, so tasty! Here’s the recipe I copied from the Ronzoni site:

Macaroni & Cheese
1 pkg ELBOWS
3 tbsp margarine or butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup minced onion
8 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Directions: Cook ELBOWS according to package directions; drain. Preheat oven to350°F. In a medium saucepan, melt margarine. Stir in flour. Graduallystir in milk. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat, until saucethickens. Stir in salt and pepper. Add onion and cheese; stir untilcheese melts. Stir cheese sauce into ELBOWS. Spoon into a greased 2quart baking dish. Top with bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes.
Since I clearly could not leave well enough alone…and I had book club the evening following the one where I made the mac n cheese…I decided to mix some of the BNS soup with some mac n cheese, and bake them in the oven together for a bit. The mac n cheese took on the sweet taste of the squash, and I LOVED it. Tommy and I had it for lunch the next couple of days. A great way to include a vegetable of the season into a comfort-food staple I’ve always loved. Sorry…no picture, just trust me – its good! Btw…I named my new dish: Squashed Mac n Cheese…get it! I know, I crack myself up!

I usually make dessert for Book Club meetings, and since we had just completed reading about the Julie/Julia Project (and no, I don’t recommend the book) I decided to create my own version of a mini tiramisu. Some mascarpone cheese mixed with pumpkin spice and some coffee, layered in between butter cookies and topped with chocolate sauce…and here’s what you get. Believe me…it tasted as good as it looks! Oh, and I even hand made my own whipped cream to dollop on top! Cute, right!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk October 18th

On October 18, 2009 we will once again participate in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in support of the Gandy Family who’s son was diagnosed with type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes in January of 2008. He was five years old. His pancreas does not produce any insulin. Without insulin, glucose (sugar) builds up in the body and causes severe damage. There is no cure and it is not a condition he will outgrow. For this reason, Matt's Wipeout Gang was established.

Matt is an amazing and brave child. He is now seven years old. For almost two years we have watched him struggle to prick his finger to check his blood sugar and take insulin shots at least 6 times a day. In July, he started using an insulin pump. An insulin pump is attached to the outside of the body using a small needle and must be worn twenty-four hours a day. He continues to check his blood sugar multiple times a day, and must sometimes be checked while he is sleeping. After he eats, we program the pump to deliver the amount of insulin the body needs to process glucose. It is not a simple calculation. Everything he does factors into his absorption rate. Matt's pump injection site must be changed every other day, or more often, as needed. There have been too many times that he has had to stop playing with his friends and teammates because his sugar was low. The treatment used to correct the "low" can take at least 15-20 minutes to kick in. When he starts to feel better, he rushes back to join his friends. He will not give up.

We need your help. On October 18, 2009. Matt will lead his team, Matt's Wipeout Gang, on a walk around Cooper River Park. We are walking to raise money to find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes. Every dollar we raise will go directly toward research to help find a cure. No amount is too small. Each donation is tax-deductible. On behalf of the Gandy family, we greatly appreciate your support.

To donate please visit my walker page... (CLICK HERE PLEASE)
(Us At The JDRF Walk 2008)

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Battle With Infertility

This evening I was thinking about several couples we know who are currently in the midst or beginning to discuss options with their doctor's about Infertility. It is something that is becoming increasingly common, but still so many couples are either afraid to discuss their anxiety about it, and sometimes are too embarrassed to even bring it up. I'm here to say - DON'T BE - YOU AREN'T ALONE. Just because it was easy for friends or family members to get pregnant.... that doesn't mean that getting pregnant IS easy.

Not being able to get pregnant can be stressful on both partners, and can affect your relationships with not only your spouse, but friends, family, and can even affect your job. Which in turn causes MORE stress. It's a crazy emotional roller coaster that sometimes spins so fast you're afraid you may lose yourself and fall off. We found it most helpful when we could reach out and talk about our infertility battle while we were going through it with others who had not only been through it, but were in the midst of it as well. I don't know if my cousin and his wife even know just how much of a comfort they were to us during this time.

I know, it sucks not being able to get pregnant when you want...I've been there. Unless you yourself are going through it (or have gone through it), there is no real way to understand...though I can say from experience....even while going crazy and gaining weight on hormone treatments - it was nice to know I was still loved. And yes, I did know I was loved...I was just so miserable and frustrated, felt so helpless about the whole situation, that I couldn't get past it and feel the love all the way.

BUT I am also lucky enough to know the joy of finally seeing the words "Pregnant" on a silly little pee stick. Shock and surprise when seeing a tiny little heart beating for the first time on an ultrasound. Of feeling my child moving around in my stomach, even kicking me in the ribs. And going through the hell that is labor. It's worth it. It's worth ANYTHING to try and have a baby. And its worth learning to have patience about your situation.

I read an article today, that I found really insightful. If you're battling with infertility...or trying to get pregnant and want more information about your cycle, etc. I highly recommend It's a great site.

*Fall*ing For Autumn

Like most weekends, this one was here and gone in the blink of an eye. We didn't think we had a busy weekend planned but, somehow we managed to stay out of the house for most of it. After Tony got home from work on Friday he set about giving the grass a good cut...which I'm hoping will be one of the last times he'll have too, until next summer. Tony and Tommy don't get to spend a lot of time together during the week, and much of that time is spent with us cooking dinner. So as soon as Tony gets home from work on Fridays, Tommy wants to do nothing but spend time with "Dadgy." Unfortunately, there are so many things that also need Tony's attention, that sometimes that isn't possible. We try to find a way of having Tommy get involved in the various projects around the house so that they'll get to spend that time together. Tony cutting the grass is no exception. We sat outside watching Tony cut the grass. I distracted Tommy by having him point out the trees, birds, squirrels, etc. and Tommy even "helped" Tony a little. Afterwards we set up our Halloween decorations at the front of the house, I LOVE the way it turned out this year.
Saturday morning we got off to a late start. Tony wasn't feeling himself, and Tommy's still teething...oh, and my jeep wouldn't start...AGAIN. Hopefully Tony fixed it for good this time. Once we DID get moving, we stopped over at the Haddon Heights corvette car show and flea market. We attended the event last year as well. And just like last year we were able to spend some quality time with my Godparents Wayne and Karen, who own a classic corvette and entered it into the show. Station Ave, where the event is held each year has a variety of really cute little shops. Whenever we are there we make sure to stop into The Cheese Shop where we picked up some of my favorite cheese - which just happens to be Spanish - called Manchego - it's smooth but bold, a little buttery, and seriously delicious. I love to snack on it with a glass of wine. It's quite expensive ($17 a lb), but since we only treat ourselves to it a couple times a year, worth every penny. We had to leave early due to rain (and it being Tommy's nap time), but we really enjoyed spending time with W&K.
That evening it was rainy and gross, and Tony still wasn't feeling well, so Tommy and I worked on an art project. It was something I had made with my little guys in Daycare this we made one for friends of ours whom we had plans to visit with the next day. I love using bits of nature in art projects with the kids. It's even more fun now that I can do a little more with them without the fear that they'll put whatever we're working with into their mouths. They get so excited about the art projects we make in gives me motivation to be more creative while educational. Win/Win for all!
Sunday we visited with our friends Lauren and Bryan. Bryan is in a band called Mr. Pink and is also a teacher (as is Lauren). The band practices in L&B's when we stopped over, they let Tommy check out some of the instruments. I'm pretty sure my boy is going to be a musician when we gets older. He had the time of his life playing the drum set and guitar. The amazing part for me was watching him pick up those drumsticks and with only a little direction started to play like he was born to do it. My kid's got rhythm!