The Day I Conquered My Fear of The Whole Chicken…

I don’t think I am a terrible cook. I am most definitely NOT a fearless cook. I am good at following directions, the teacher in me still lives on. I am the kind of cook who follows a recipe EXACTLY.

When it comes to meats, I don’t venture out of those falling into the plob-able category. Otherwise known as meats packaged in such a way as to be plopped into a pan, crock pot, cooking contraption without being touched. By me. With bare hands. We eat a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, lean ground beef…

And then I started reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Ten Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn.

And I was inspired to conquer a lifetime long fear: the whole chicken.

Laugh if you must, but there is something about touching a whole chicken, CLEANING a whole chicken, giblets…that totally skeeves me out. A lot. But I figured it was time. I have paced my culinary kitchen endeavors throughout my marriage to where roasting a whole chicken would be a big day. And a new milestone, elevating me to a new culinary status.

Armed with a recipe, I shopped for the goods. Picked up my soon-to-be nemesis and prepared for battle:

“Are those gardening gloves?” Oh, no she didn’t.

Oh, yes I did.

I broke out my apron, because isn’t it like a super hero’s cape, infused with magic and super power traits? Meant to protect me from bodily harm from a fowl experience gone foul.

I prepped the garlic. Cut the lemons. Had everything ready to go and started to read the recipe:

“Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry.”

HOLD THE PHONE. FEATHERS?!@#

I quickly re-evaluated: I could drive to Costco in about ten minutes, spend a third as much on a rotisserie chicken, PLOP that bad boy on a platter and no one would be the wiser. No giblets. No FEATHERS.

Intent on conquering the fear and showing my boys I could be all apron-y and cook-y in the kitchen, I powered through. Nearly lost my lunch. The feeling and textures and cavities…were NASTY. No lie.

But I did it.

Me: 1, Chicken: 0. This day could also be known as the day I broke the hand washing world record…

 I jacked up some of the skin removing the bacon half way through roasting. Another yuck, touching bacon. Blech.

I was crazy proud of this damn chicken. Hence, the numerous photos. Proof.

The house smelled amazing. The husband LOVED it and was shocked. I am certain he didn’t really believe I had cooked it myself. Yet further proof of my culinary pacing success, heh. Just imagine if I had done this years ago, I’d be stuck cleaning and de-nasty-fying chickens on a much more regular basis.

Whole chicken: roasted, eaten, in the books. Holla.

Big day.


Christmas Card Mini-book

Super simple solution to make all the photo cards we received this Christmas into a keepsake booklet. Just punch holes, add binder rings, voila – done. I added a piece of thin cardboard to the back and a clear plastic page for the front for stability.

Last year I consolidated cards into a 12 x 12 scrapbook page but ended up losing a lot of actual card/photo. I love that the booklet keeps them all intact and doesn’t take up much space.

Simple embellishment for title/cover:

It will go in our Christmas memory box with a few other goodies:


Summer Bucket List 2011: Update

Not bad…having a defined set of goals really helped. A few of these will simply move over to a Fall Goals/Bucket List and a few will likely remain something to really shoot for in the future.

  1. Lawrence Hall of Science Dino Exhibit
  2. Take the boys to their first pro baseball game
  3. State Fair
  4. Lake of the Pines
  5. Sing in the car with the windows down
  6. Scandia
  7. Monterey Bay Aquarium
  8. Boys renamed this one: Adventure Day
  9. Purge and organize playroom
  10. Make a “Summer Bucket List” Scrapbook In the works
  11. Kid free weekend
  12. Scrap night
  13. Host a *Book Club* meeting Date set
  14. Get family caught up on dentist and doctor’s appointments
  15. Laugh til we cry
  16. Fix up backyard
  17. Bake a cheesecake from scratch
  18. Host play date
  19. Run through the sprinklers
  20. Join the lady friends for a first wine tasting outing Date set

Art Supply Caddy

One of my goals this summer is to organize and de-clutter our house. The husband and I conquered the garage yesterday: donate, sell, trash piles abound. I conquered our kitchen this morning, which namely consisted of cleaning off our counters and organizing the boys’ art supplies. Thanks to Pinterest, I have wanted to make them art caddies for weeks now, but most of the art caddies pictured on Pinterest are for the older-won’t-draw-on-walls-or-furniture crowd. I took advantage of the Back-to-School sales and made my own preschooler friendly versions for the boys:
Ty’s art caddy:
Jake’s:
$3 shower caddy + $1 cups. I figure we can use the cup itself when water coloring. Sticks for glue projects, colored pencils and brushes. Crayons in pencil case.
I have had my eye on a set of four art trays at Lakeshore. They are substantially more than the $1 serving tray that serves the same purpose: easy clean surface, confined area for art supplies so that the crayons don’t roll off, and if dry time is needed for a project, I can simply keep it on the tray and find a place for it on the counter.
Best of all: both sets fit nicely, and out of the way, on top of the fridge.

Summer 2011 Bucket List

  1. Lawrence Hall of Science Dino Exhibit
  2. Take the boys to their first pro baseball game
  3. State Fair
  4. Lake of the Pines
  5. Sing in the car with the windows down
  6. Scandia
  7. Monterey Bay Aquarium
  8. Boys renamed this one: Adventure Day
  9. Purge and organize playroom
  10. Make a “Summer Bucket List” Scrapbook
  11. Kid free weekend
  12. Scrap night
  13. Host a *Book Club* meeting
  14. Get family caught up on dentist and doctor’s appointments
  15. Laugh til we cry
  16. Fix up backyard
  17. Bake a cheesecake from scratch
  18. Host play date
  19. Run through the sprinklers
  20. Join the lady friends for a first wine tasting outing

2010 Goals Reviewed

Looking back, I made a pretty good dent in my 2010 goals:

* Craft more: one of the goals I didn’t meet entirely. I did scrap, a little, very little. I learned how to personalize wooden blocks, made a fun chipboard alphabet canvas…and that’s about it. While I love to scrap and craft, I am okay with the fact that it fell to the back burner as some fun things replaced it. Can’t do it all.

* Train for, and complete, two half marathons: done. Trained for, and completed, THREE halves in 2010. Ran the Bay to Breakers and the Grape Stomp 10k. AND broke the under-2 hour Half goal. 2010 = awesome running year.

* Cook more: done. I realized that I actually LOVE to cook. I am just not a fan of doing with a cranky toddler and wound up three year old tugging at my shirt.

* Be better about wearing sunscreen. Lotion/cream at night: done. Can’t think of anything remotely witty or wise to say about this one. I still have bags. And notice wrinkles. But am glad that I am better about the sunscreen.

* Experiment with color (in clothing): eh, one of the goals that likely was the hardest for me to implement. I will try again in 2011. There is just something about black yoga pants…

* Put the “me” back in Mommy: we hired a sitter and that helped tremendously. I love her, the boys adore her. Win, win, win. Another goal I hope to improve on in 2011.

* Read a book: I smashed this goal. After not having picked up a single book in over a year, I read 50+ in a matter of months. I fell in love with reading all over again.

* Focus on the positive: Perhaps this is a lifelong goal. Not always easy, but something that makes everything around you better. Easier.


2010 Goals: Midyear Review

June. Midyear. Time to check in with those “New Year’s Goals” set forth eons ago last December.
* Post holiday photos. I have some really really good ones I swear; however, I have yet to download the new software for the new camera…and hence, have yet to upload any pictures.
Done

* Craft more. Eh, craft period. Revamp (aka bring back to life) the ol’ scrapblog.
The scrapblog has been scrapped. Literally. However, I have managed to scrap and craft a few things. And started a new running blog- that should count for something, right. I have to admit, other than really organizing the scrap goods, I have yet to really get down and crafty. I plan to. I really do. I have lots of ideas. **Now to finish Jake’s baby book before he’s in kindergarten.

* Train for, and complete, TWO half marathons.
One down. One to go. Already registered and PAID for the second. Paying is huge. After having forked over $$ for the honor of running 13.1 miles, you better believe there is no way to keep me from crossing that finish line. I will crawl, hop, skip, limp, roll…do whatever I have to do. Official training starts July 1. **Finish under two hours. 1:59:59 is totally acceptable.

* Cook more. I will take the three cookbooks and TWO aprons I received as gifts as hints. The gods are clearly sending me a message.
Eh. I have definitely cooked “more” which isn’t saying a whole lot. This is definitely one I need to work on. I am so used to tossing myself a salad and cooking a separate meal for the boys. I really need to focus on cooking something for ALL OF US.

* Be better about wearing facial lotion with SPF during the day…and cream at night.
Having recently been diagnosed with late-adult-onset-children-are-stressful-or-something eczema, I have been really really good about this one. Really. The doctor seems to think that pregnancy did a number on my body. And my skin. Joy. Done.

* Experiment with color…in clothing. Venture out of my black yoga pants, sneakers, and long sleeve t-shirt look.
I have definitely done better in stepping out of my comfort zone dressing. I wore a skirt yesterday. A cute one. One that I would have NEVER bought before, but did. And I kinda like it. Now to pair it with my snazzy green ballet flats…one day. Wear shorts? Different story. Glad it’s not a 2010 goal.

* Put the “ME” back in Mommy. Take advantage of our wonderful, amazing, lovely sitter and do things for me once in a while while she is with the kids: run, sit and enjoy a latte, hike the trails I have wanted to do sans kiddos…instead of running errands or grocery shopping.
Quite possibly the easiest and hardest goal on the list. It only took me three years to find a sitter. And one day to fall in love with her. The boys love her. We love her. She has been the greatest thing since sliced bread in this house. Every week, I am rescued by a young-active-college-student angel. She plays with the boys. Feeds the boys. I come home, they are happy, she’s happy. I am able to run. Or shop. Or park under a shady tree and read while drinking a latte. Heaven. Absolute heaven. I don’t think I can ever stamp a “done” on this goal as it is a constant work in progress…

* Read a book a month. Read a book every two months? Eh, read a book.
After not having read a book for an ENTIRE YEAR, I have read more books in the last few months than I have since Ty was born. I rediscovered my absolute LOVE of books. The smell. The crisp pages. The transportation to a different place. I just finished a really amazing book and highly recommend it. Super inspiring. Powder Necklace by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond. Done.

* Focus on the positive. Smile more. Appreciate more.
I try. Everyday. Lifelong work in progress.

Overall, not bad. Still a lot of work to be done. On the right track…


The Making of a Reluctant Runner

For the longest time I swore up and down that running was bad for women. Therefore, not one to go against medical evidence and scientific information, I didn’t run. Somewhere along the way I had heard that there was something about the arches in women’s feet that made running difficult. Or so I believed. It’s not that I didn’t like being active, I loved sports, I just hated running. Why would anyone in his or her right mind choose to run…unless being chased in which case it wouldn’t really be a choice. It is actually possible that I may have made up above said scientific information to get out of running events in high school…but I can’t remember for sure.

And then I got engaged. Searching for a way to become a “Buff Bride” I started jogging. Slowly. I managed to run a quarter mile. And thought I was near death. And then worked up to a half mile. Then one mile. Eventually I was running three miles. I would love to say I was running with ease but I don’t know if anyone ever truly runs with ease- there is always some sort of challenge whether it be the first mile, getting started, or finding the time. The upcoming wedding was motivation enough. The thought of hundreds of eyes on ME freaked me out and pushed me to get out and run.

After the wedding, I continued to run. I often ran the local reservoir- a hilly, challenging, 3 mile loop. In my head, I told myself that once in my lifetime I would like to run a half marathon. It sounded cool. Was fun to say. I never thought it would become a reality, especially as I had never really run more than six miles and was firmly aware that one DRIVES 13.1 miles. Again, it sounded really cool and was fun to throw into conversations. After all, “life goal” meant I had the rest of my life, duh.

After having Tyson, I ran to lose the baby weight. I ran when I could, often running on very little sleep and pushing a very unhappy baby in the jogging stroller. There were many days when a nap trumped running. As Ty got older the thought of running while trying to feed/console/entertain/block out the whining/crying/fussing trumped actually getting out to run. After having Jake, I ran to lose the baby weight. I ran when I could, often running on LESS sleep than after having Ty. Going for a run now meant packing a snack for Ty, toys for Ty, books for Ty, water for Ty, water for me, snack for me, diapers for Jake, wipes for Jake, Hooter Hider for me, toys for Jake, blankets for Jake…by the time I was done packing up to go out for a run I often found myself faced with dirty diapers, hungry children, or a child in need of a nap.

And then a couple girlfriends mentioned they wanted to run a half marathon. I jumped on the opportunity to train and run with friends. Half serious. Not sure if it would become a reality. It sounds REALLY good but really…run 13.1 miles. In a row. Without dying. Voluntarily. AND pay someone for the “honor”…not so sold on this. After all, we all had two kids. Two of us had infants. None of us were getting full night’s of sleep. What were we thinking…but we continued to train. We ran through the heat of the summer. We ran through the fussing. And whining. And tears. We ran through the exhaustion. And doubt. And we all crossed that finish line.

As I ran around the corner towards the finish line I had to hold back tears. I couldn’t believe I was about to cross the finish line and complete something I had seen as impossible. Somehow between the sleep deprivation, diaper changes, toddler tantrums…I had done this. I. Did. This. WE did this.

And we’ll do it again…in JUNE.

Somehow. With a busy husband, busier than in the fall, an active-HATES-the-jogging-stroller 3 year old, and an on-the-verge-of-walking-also-HATES-the-jogging-stroller 1 year old…I can do this again. Don’t ask me how many times I have run since the October Half. It’s a shame really. I desperately need to find my running mojo again…however, it seems really hard to find at 5 am. Or in 40 degree weather. Or in the rain. Or when it’s too foggy. Or when…*enter weather/sleep/kid/time excuse*. And you wondered why I put “reluctant” in the title…the one thing I wish I had done differently the last time is chronicle my training. The ups and downs. So here starts the chronicling…day one.


Goals for 2010

* Post holiday photos. I have some really really good ones I swear; however, I have yet to download the new software for the new camera…and hence, have yet to upload any pictures.

* Craft more. Eh, craft period. Revamp (aka bring back to life) the ol’ scrapblog.

* Train for, and complete, TWO half marathons.

* Cook more. I will take the three cookbooks and TWO aprons I received as gifts as hints. The gods are clearly sending me a message.

* Be better about wearing facial lotion with SPF during the day…and cream at night.

* Experiment with color…in clothing. Venture out of my black yoga pants, sneakers, and long sleeve t-shirt look.

* Put the “ME” back in Mommy. Take advantage of our wonderful, amazing, lovely sitter and do things for me once in a while while she is with the kids: run, sit and enjoy a latte, hike the trails I have wanted to do sans kiddos…instead of running errands or grocery shopping.

* Read a book a month. Read a book every two months? Eh, read a book.

* Focus on the positive. Smile more. Appreciate more.