Make this and eat it.

I made this as a side dish for Thanksgiving, and it was so good I just made it again so I can eat it for a few days as an actual meal.

I pretty much followed these directions exactly. I used Johnsonville Three Cheese Italian Chicken Sausage, a pre-cubed container of butternut squash, dried sage and Boar’s Head goat cheese, so I have maximum laziness yet still delicious results.

Click here to see the recipe – it’s Butternut Squash Crack from pyjammy.com. (Her blog is cool in general if you have time to check it out – she has identical triplet boys.)

Here is a picture of how mine turned out:

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What My Husband Did On His Vacation

If I had a random vacation, I think I would spend it reading and sleeping. Maybe I would do a little writing and a little cleaning here and there so I wouldn’t feel completely worthless.

My husband? My husband lines up a bunch of projects to complete and ends up not getting any rest all all. The upside is that the changes look great! The downside is that it’s like he didn’t take a vacation at all.

He repainted the main areas – living, dining, kitchen, hallways – in Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray. My picture is crap, so excuse me. I’ll post a better one later.

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In order to do this he had to take down about a million shelves and pictures and put them back up.

He also installed a tile backsplash in the kitchen:

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We bought it from Lowe’s. I don’t remember the brand but the color was Coastal Blend.

The biggest change was our bathroom. He tiled the floors, built and installed wainscoting, and repainted (remember the orange walls??). This color is Sherwin Williams Sea Salt. I like it enough to possibly use it in the (still unpainted) spare bedroom. We used Cream Delight by Valspar for the wainscoting and trim.

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I am tired just looking at all of this.

zzz,

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More Food: I’ve been pinning like crazy!

I’m only 2.5 months into eating healthier and I’m already sick of eating the same things over and over. So, I created a Pinterest board just for pinning low-carb, low-gi, paleo or just healthier alternatives to what I want to eat. Here is a link.

I’ve already tried out a bunch of these over the past month. Last night I fixed Cauliflower Casserole au Gratin from Kalyn’s Kitchen, but I subbed crumbled turkey bacon for the ham and regular onion for the green onion. I also tried out a 1/2 batch of this primal fudge recipe, but I have to say that it requires a taste for coconut! My husband surprisingly liked it a lot.

Some repeat favorites for me:

In panic, I’ll either eat pre-made meatballs with steamed veggies or scrambled eggs or a salad. Almost every morning I eat greek yogurt and apples, but on the weekends I always have scrambled eggs 🙂

I’m still a clumsy cook, but since I’m really the only one eating my food I can afford to be a little terrible at it. N will try almost anything I fix, but he is particularly fond of the stuffed peppers.

Wish me luck,

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Food: What I’m Eating

Is this Ally blogging about food like she knows how to cook? Yep!

I know this concept is hilarious since cooking is not my strength, but I have been attempting to shed some weight and therefore am forced to try. Really the only type of dietary change that helps control my cravings is cutting out the sugar and cutting down on the carbs in general. In the past I’ve followed the South Beach Diet with success, but this time I’ve followed most of the basic principles without following the diet exactly. I never cut out fruit, I’ve kept in starchy veggies like carrots and I am still not eating red meat. Also, I’m not a fan of sugar substitutes so I really have only had them in smaller quantities in sugar-free jello and pudding. This time around, I haven’t been able to eat peanuts or peanut-contaminated products since we keep a peanut free house.

I’ve been at it for 2 months so far and I’m still feeling pretty good. I thought I would share some of the recipes that have turned out well and are super simple for people like me who aren’t very talented in the kitchen.

Today’s lunch: Crockpot Turkey Chili

What I did:

Browned 1lb lean ground turkey with olive oil, then threw it in the crockpot with 1 large chopped onion, 1 chopped green pepper, (2) 14.5oz cans of diced tomatoes (I get the no-salt ones), (2) cans kidney beans (I’ve used dark or light, reduced sodium), about 10 diced jalapeno slices from a jar, a teaspoon of minced garlic, a lot of chili powder (I use a salt-free one, can you tell I hate salt?), a lot of cumin, quite a bit of black pepper and a bit of basil and oregano even though I don’t really think that matters. I put cook it on low overnight and it’s ready in the morning to pack some up for lunch.

I’m sure you appreciate my exact measurements above. When I heat it up, I throw some shredded cheese and sour cream on top. Yum. My husband and I can usually eat this up in a few days, and I usually eat it for lunch, dinner, lunch, then dinner before I get sick of it.

Here is an old picture I took way back when I was doing Project 365:

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It looks better once it’s finished cooking.

Nom,

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Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!

The boys are still at an age where the actual process of Trick-or-Treating means more than the candy. Since N has a peanut allergy, we will always have to screen candy and will have to come up with a future game plan. This year it was simple – we let them collect whatever candy was given to them and put it in their buckets. When we got home, they almost immediately forgot about the candy and were more excited about playing with glow sticks. We dumped the candy back into our candy bowl and gave it away.

E was game. He willingly visited every house. N was a little more reserved. He preferred to hang out in the wagon until his cousin and friends showed up and he decided to participate with the group. Our neighborhood was packed with kids because it has sidewalks and streetlights and a lot of parents bring their kids in from other neighborhoods.

Here are our minions!

Edited to add: Since a few people have asked, I bought the yellow shirts from Kohl’s (in Yukon Gold), the overalls from OshKosh and the hats were made by etsy seller Crochet4Cuties. I picked up some $0.79 gloves from Walmart and made the Gru symbol myself out of felt.

minions minions3 minions2 minions4 minions5

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New Office Decor

If you know me (and I assume, if you are actually reading this, you probably do know me personally), then you know that I don’t have a natural aptitude for anything domestic – cooking, cleaning, decorating, fashion. When I moved into my new office last month, I was met with a much larger blank canvas than I anticipated and nothing to fill it. I had a diploma frame and a couple of 12×18 pictures I thought would do the trick. Not so much.

What I immediately enjoyed was the natural flood of light into my office (very different from my previous prison-cell window) that allows me to keep the bright overhead lights turned off all day. I brought in a little lamp to use as needed, but otherwise I bathe in the natural light all day.

What I didn’t enjoy was the clinical, institutional feel to a lot of blank wall space. I considered purchasing a huge canvas to take up space on the wall I face, but ended up brainstorming (with the help of Pinterest) a wall collage. After collecting all of the pieces and drawing up a diagram, one of our awesome maintenance guys lined everything up perfectly for me. Here is the result:

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I love it! I also bought a plant (let’s see how long it lives – add “keeping plants alive” to my list of non-skills) and some other frames and personal items, so now after a month it’s starting to feel like my real office.

Sometimes I consider this potential problem when I think about us moving into a larger house. Sure, it would be nice to have the extra space, but will we lose some of the family togetherness we currently have because we are all squashed together all of the time? Will the blank canvas walls be intimidating and clinical to me?

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Love Letter to the Women’s Restroom

Dear Ladies’ Room of the General Administration Building,

What can I say? It’s been a great run. When we first met, I was a 26 year old kid embarking on a new career journey. After a hiatus of four years, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of sharing three stalls with thirty women again. My fears were quickly calmed when, soon after we were introduced, an elderly co-worker asked me to go get her a magazine as she blew up the designated pooping toilet.

I soon learned to maneuver around the rules of the road. As a courtesy, poopers should use the far stall (though I must say in times of tummyache, I most often fled to an adjacent building “safe haven” to blend in with the students). If someone was obviously in need of a dump, we should pee and wash hands as quickly as possible in order to allow privacy. Of course, there were always the ones living on the edge, those who dawdled and chatted and fixed their hair and makeup and took an hour to floss their teeth. Maybe this was their sanctuary, a place to get away from the grind of work. I’m sorry that I didn’t appreciate you more. To me, you were always just a place to pee.

That’s not quite true. You saw me through some heartache, some medical problems and a twin pregnancy during which I swear we met up every ten minutes. Most importantly, you were gracious enough to allow me to take a million baby bump selfies with one of your porcelain thrones photobombing in the background:

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Oh, ladies’ room. As I checked the keys to my new office, I went by the new restroom. It’s nice, with six stalls, pretty fixtures and new and modern conveniences. However, I want to let you know that it holds none of your charm. There are no mysteries behind the walls of this new granite-and-stainless-steel bathroom paradise. Maybe now I’ll never know why you had a couch from the 1980s located within your walls, and I’ll stop wondering who in the world would sit on it when it had been collecting toilet flushing particles for 30 years. Maybe I’ll never know who decided which locker belonged to which woman and why I never received one. Maybe I’ll never know why the middle stall autoflusher always managed to flush on me two or three times before I could escape. These are mysteries for a new generation of employees who you will soon meet. Be kind to them.

As I prepare to say goodbye and move into my new digs Monday, I want to let you know that even though I didn’t always appreciate you while we were together, I will not forget you. I can’t promise that you will never see me again, but I’ll be a visitor. You’ll never be my bathroom again. Keep up the good work.

Until we meet again,

allysign

Doing a little housekeeping…

Since I’m thinking about using this blog again to, you know, actually post some content, I decided to clean it up a bit. I’m removing most of the tags and tagging into broader categories, shrinking some pictures, combining my Project 365 pages and deleting old links that are broken. Sorry if I keep popping up in your blogroll or news feed (if you happen to still have my blog included, faithful one).

Future uses for this blog space will be to:

  • chat about my experiences on the road to and in the midst of motherhood
  • chat about my experience so far with my child’s food allergy
  • chat about books and reading in general
  • chat about writing, or my lack of writing these days
  • chat about my awesome writer friends and the amazing things they are doing these days
  • chat about trying to take off this extra weight

If you’ve been with me in the past, I hope to see you again. I need to dust off my writing fingers and I thought playing around on this blog would be a good starting point.

Talk to you soon!

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5 years.

My husband and I celebrated our five year anniversary last Friday. I feel like I’m in an alternate universe. These five years went by so quickly, I fear for the fast forward of the rest of my life. Where did the time go?

In keeping with tradition, here is a wedding picture from that day of perfect weather back in 2008:

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Also, just kidding about the domain name. I ended up renewing it for just one more year. Just one. Maybe.

Domain expiration…

I think I’m going to let the domain http://www.casuallymusing.com expire. I don’t really post enough to consider myself a blogger and even though it’s a minimal expense, it really isn’t a necessary one.

If for some crazy reason you’re still reading or following this blog, just update your link to everam01.wordpress.com instead.

I’ll post again soon. Can you believe the boys are almost 2 years old???????