Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I'm feeling so refreshed this morning. Baby Mia is off at MDO. With my paper ready to turn for tomorrow, I'm using the day to catch up on the TiVo, play with the oh-so-neglected puppy, and clean up the house. I've decided to change up the artwork in our bedroom with the warm weather upon us. I'm not sure what it is, but I don't like looking at really deep colors in the summer--I like the light blues and creams in the summer.

So I've decided to take out of the frame my Monet print, Weeping Willow. I love this painting. If you're ever in Fort Worth, it is displayed almost permanently at the Kimball.

The painting is too warm for the summer heat and humidity that surrounds us in Oklahoma.

I have decided to replace the Monet with Lady at her toilette, Berthe Morisot (1875).
I love this painting! I ordered the print a few months ago, and have waited for warm weather to put up the cool-toned picture. I just adore the femininity of the painting.

I'm not sure how the hubby will like another "girly" picture in our bedroom. I'm sure he'll deal. He's dealt with a Degas ballet dancer for almost a year now.

So here's to the warm weather, the return of the farmer's markets, kayaking in Lake Murray, making home-made ice cream, grilling out with friends and family, and hiking with the family!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


To say I'm exhausted is such an understatement. I have been up since Monday at 6 a.m. I wrote three papers, read a book, and prepared an interview. To top off the day, baby Mia is cutting teeth. The poor child is running a bit of a fever and squawking about. All day I was really tired. I had a meeting with some friends to discuss how to write one of our last papers.
After picking up Mia, I decided to lay down and nap with her. I was awoken by a wonderful girlfriend who had bought Dave and I dinner for the evening. She said she was worried about my exhaustion level and did not want me to worry about cooking for the family after all the work I did last night. I almost cried from happiness! How thoughtful to just show up at the busy mom and graduate student's house with some food. That's just one decision, one meal, I don't have to think about making.
Now I have two more papers to write and one more book to read before next Monday and then my students take their final next Monday too. After grading, it is all done!! Tonight I'm taking it easy. Just a little reading, maybe watch the Rockets game, and of course, sleep. Dave has even promised to watch the baby for me tonight! How amazing is that?!

Today's recipe is a family favorite. My mom came up with this recipe due to my father's love and adoration of peanut butter.

Mom's Peanut Butter Treats
1 c. sugar
1 c. Karo Syrup
1 1/4 c. organic peanut butter (O.K. you can totally use whatever peanut butter you want, but reduced fat doesn't work all that well.)
4-6 c. dry cereal. (Cheerios and Corn Flakes are really great)

-In a large pan, bring sugar and Karo to a boil. Add in peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Take off the burner, and pour in cereal. Pour into a lined or sprayed 13x9 pan and pat evenly. Let sit. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pizza & Family

What a day! After getting home late last night from organizing our church clothes giveaway, we all returned early this morning. Our church decided to get together to giveaway free clothes and household goods. We didn't want to do a garage sale, just give away free stuff. We had a wonderful response! I remembered today how much I miss being with a non-profit. All through my undergad career, I worked for this great organization called Jumpstart that worked with low-income preschoolers. Being solely in academia the past three years now has made me forget just how much I love giving, and how fortunate I am. I met the sweetest couple today with three kids that just moved to Norman, trying to start over, trying to make the best life for their kids that they can. Along with food, we opened up our food pantry. When I asked the woman if they could use some food, she began to sob. I told Dave later, we may be poor college students, and may not have a lot, but we have more than a lot of people, and have the opportunity of upward mobility when I'm done with my Ph.D and Dave finishes his Landscape Arch. exams and is licensed.

So after a morning of work, we came home, cleaned house, and I made home-made pizza. One of our favorite things to do is make our own pizza. We seldom ever order in or go out for pizza b/c we've grown to like mine so much.

My recipe is for combined flour crust.

Pizza dough Recipe:

1 Tbsp. dry-active yeast
3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. lukewarm water
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c. all purpose-flour (plus about 1/3-1/2 c. for working and dusting board)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. EVOO

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and let stand until slightly foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 3/4 cups flour and the salt and form into a mound. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture to the well. Using a fork and stirring in a circular motion, gradually pull the flour into the yeast mixture. Continue stirring until a dough forms.

Lightly flour a work surface with some of the 1/2 cup flour and transfer the dough to it. Using the heel of your hand, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball.

Brush a large bowl with the olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with the remaining flour. Punch down the dough and, using your hand, begin to press it out gently into the desired shape. Then, place one hand in the center of the dough and, with the other hand, pull, lift and stretch the dough, gradually working your way all around the edge, until it is the desired thickness, about 1/4 inch thick for a crusty pizza base and 1/2 inch thick for a softer one. Flip the dough over from time to time as your work with it. (Or roll out the dough with a rolling pin.) The dough should be slightly thinner in the middle than at the edge. Lift the edge of the pizza to form a slight rim.

Transfer the dough to a baker's peel or baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again until almost doubled in size, about 20 minutes. Top and bake as directed in your pizza recipe. Makes 1 1/4 lb. dough, enough for a 12-inch thin-crust pizza or a 9-inch thick-crust pizza.

Rest of the evening has been/will be spent with me writing while the family watches the Rockets/Jazz game before we all fall asleep.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I met David over six years ago. I was a freshman in college, he a sophomore. Literally one of the first things I said about him was, "May the Lord help the woman who marries him!" God must have found this hilarious, because I do believe the Almighty said, "That's you, sucker!" We knew each other a year, Dave actually crashed my first date with another guy, then we dated a year, engaged a year, and now we've been married almost four years.

I was talking with my girlfriend the other day of just how much my husband has changed since we met and even married. In fact, I think I could get an annulment for fraud-marriage under false pretenses. Yet, he keeps me laughing, which I really need given the stress level of things.

David grew up all over, his father is in the oil business. Although he called several places home, in the fifth grade, his family moved to Houston. So when we met, I thought I was getting a good city boy, one who had a little culture, wanted to stay in a bigger city, and had high ambitions. Growing up in a small town, most of the boys around me didn't have plans for college, dreams of being anything but cowboys. I still love them all, and am proud of my raising, but I knew it wasn't for me. Little did I know that my future husband would envy my upbringing and hometown.

In the 8th grade when Dave took his aptitude test, the results were that he's best suited to be a worm farmer. Who gets those results? I didn't even know that was an option! Then I took him home to meet my family, and he learned a whole new way of living.

Dave now loves to hunt, reads magazines about guns, joined the NRA, and almost always wears cowboys boots. Seriously, where did I find this kid? He would love nothing more than to move to my hometown and raise our family. Dave hates the city, hates the traffic, would love to have land and be left alone on a farm.

He keeps us on our toes. Thinks its hilarious to stir up his crazy Democrat of a wife, or generalize some history term to watch me squirm!

In honor of Dave, who I have nicknamed "the human garbage disposal," (the man really will eat anything!) I have posted on of his favorite recipes. Dave loves main dishes--he doesn't want to mess around with desserts if there is a steak or pasta on the table...

Finco Chicken
Chicken Breasts/Tenders
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp floor
White wine (optional)
Chicken stock/broth

-Take white vein out of chicken. Pound out the chicken a little. Add salt, pepper and few drops of lemon juice over chicken.
-In skillet, pour little EVOO with small pat of butter. Brown chicken on both sides over medium heat.
-When chicken is fully cooked, take out and add flour to the drippings and wine/or chicken stock. (If sauce is too thick or thin, add either flour or stock.)
-Serve over warm cooked pasta (elbow, penne, etc.)

*I'm not a big fan of white wine, so I switched it to the stock. I was taught this recipe, however, by using the wine.

This recipe is full proof! I learned this recipe from the wife of my college Italian professor. She was Egyptian and wonderful. I loved them so. I make this dish at least once a month to remember my lovely Fincos. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Is it over?

I'm blogging to procrastinate for a few mere moments whilst sitting in the library. I have 5 papers to write in two weeks, and two books to read in the next 5 days. The total pages to write is 65-75, and the two books are a combined 1100 pages! The silver lining is that I'm not having to grade or give the students' final until after all of my papers are due.

We're slowly wrapping things up. My husband has rallied around me beautifully. He made me dinner tonight and made an extra dish, like I always do, to freeze for a later date. I feel so proud... I have taught someone my methods. David is a wonderful recipe follower. The mess will be atrocious, but he has learned proper cleaning methods. (Good orientation director!)

I picked up my daughter at her MDO program today to find a really freaked out teacher. Apparently Mia had bright blue poop and her teacher thought her liver was in jeopardy. I called her doctor and he said not to worry, these things happen as you transition into cereal, etc. Speaking of the baby cereal, Mia is really not that big of a fan. Her high chair finally came in, and it makes feeding easier, but she's really not that into it. In the next few weeks, we'll work in other foods. I'm sure she'll like something more with flavor.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What makes a home?

I was sitting in Barnes and Noble on Thursday reading the preface to Ina Garten's new cookbook, Barefoot Contessa: At Home. It is a beautiful cookbook. In the book, she describes how she has constantly had to re-make her home because her husband was in the army for many years. She brought up some really good points as to the times how her style evolved over the years and what the constant is for turning even the smallest apartment into a home.

She suggested decorating based on things most important in your life. For her family, it revolves around entertaining, cooking, and the lovely Hamptons. (How I wish I could add that to my list!)

For my family, our favorite things are entertaining our friends, cooking, lounging as a family, studying and music. Even if we lived in a one room studio there are things that I can't live without wherever we live. We always have music. At night, if I'm not in class, or we're not watching a movie or something, we listen to music. We always listen to music as we get ready for bed. Mia listens to some great Baby Einstein lullaby CD at bedtime. We listen to Dean Martin. My parents always played Dean at night. My dad had this amazing sound system, and I when it got dark outside, especially in the winter time, Dean crooned over the speakers.

A small list of the things we could never live without:
1) Music (Ipods, Itunes, radio, CD player, and Record Player--we actually have many records)
2) Books (This is more my thing, and hopefully Mia's. Dave reads magazines.)
3) Really comfy bed and bedding. We have the best bed in the entire world! We have this great pillow-top California king! I had a really beautiful all white bedding from Pottery barn, which took the two boys that I live with less than 2 weeks before they completely ruined it! Thus, we now have a really beautiful chocolate brown and robin's egg blue comforter. It is incredibly cozy. I love our bed. No matter how bad the day has been, I can come home to my bed.
4) Candles- Yankee Candle's Clean Cotton is the favorite most of the year. During the winter months, I usually burn something cinnamon or I let home-made apple cider with cloves and cinnamon heat on the stove.
5) Food- Pastries baking for some function, Mexican food in the skillet, Italian food in the oven. The kitchen is such where most conversations happen in the evening and morning. I couldn't live without my cookbooks, my Kitchen Aid mixer, Furi knives, and my new Martha Stewart food chopper.
6) Pictures of the family and places we've been. Beyond pictures in the frames, I have countless scrapbooks and picture albums of road trips, Mia, my family, my friends, our trips to London, Michigan, the beach.
7) Pillows- If you've been to our house/apartment, you'll have to move pillows, or you'll watch Bentley run through the house with a pillow. Maybe we have so many pillows b/c my husband is really accident prone. Our bed at this present time has 4 pillows used during sleepy-time, and 6 others for purely decorative and sitting in bed purposes.

With the summer approaching, and berries becoming more readily available, I have a really great recipe. This recipe is from Ina's cookbooks and her show. This recipe is really great also in the winter when the best berries are frozen.

-Ina Garten's Frozen Berries with Hot White Chocolate Sauce
1 1/4 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 pounds frozen mixed berries or frozen raspberries
Combine the chocolate, heavy cream, and the vanilla in a heat-proof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate melts.

-About 5 minutes before serving, remove the berries from the freezer and place them on individual serving plates. Ladle the warm chocolate sauce over the berries and serve.
-Yield: 8 to 10 servings
-Note: You can either buy frozen berries, or freeze your own by placing the berries on a flat tray in layer. When the berries are fully frozen, keep them a plastic bag in the freezer. Larger berries, such as strawberries, do not freeze well.

You'll love this recipe! I use it often when we have company over and I haven't had a chance to bake, or when we've had a really heavy meal and dessert needs to be something light. If you have some martini/cocktail glasses, it looks really elegant to put serve this individually. Another fun this to do with this recipe is serve it on pound cake, or on French toast!

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Grocery Fun

The family just returned from another night of grocery shopping fun. It amuses me that now Dave is really excited to see my recipes and even likes to go watch how I buy all the groceries. Tonight was another really great buy.
We bought:
Bag of boneless/skinless chicken breasts
Chicken Stock (tons, I think 2 cartons and 4 cans)
2 pckgs 93-7 ground beef
6 boxes of cereal
2 gallons of milk
Dozen large eggs
pound of colby-jack cheese
wheat bread
2 Juicy-Juice
10 Gatorades (the big 32 oz)
Sandwich Meat
8-pack Scott paper towels

The paper towels, the entire 8-pack was .08!! Eight of my best deals. Dave and the CVS guy were very impressed. It is normally priced for $10, but was marked down to $5.99. Then I took over.
Our total savings for the day fifty dollars. I'm quite proud of the family's progress.

We are currently in the middle of the search for a house. We are not buying! I do not want to get stuck with a house in Norman! Plus the rents here are low enough that we can rent a 3/2/2 house for less than our apartment rent in Lubbock! (I do miss some things about Lubbock--and we had a really really nice apartment in Lubbock.)
We think that we've narrowed the finalists down to 2 really charming houses. Hopefully we'll figure out which we want more. Then its moving, again! The move last year was so painful, and I really don't want to move, but we've outgrown our 2-bedroom apartment. Too much for a family with a history ph.d student (who has way too many books and needs a place to close a door), dog that loves to run, husband that needs a yard and garden to play in, and baby who is trying to crawl and will be come summer.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Laundry and the American West

Texas was wonderful. I merely thought I missed my people--then I went back to Texas...same smells (not all of them good), good food (God bless Mexican food for every meal!) and good West Texas archives. The conference went well. We had great successes in the archives, papers went well, and even won some awards. My Quanah paper won second...thus not making me look like a goon in the eyes of my department.

The family did well in my absence. Apparently only one minor incident of an overly-stuffed baby throwing up baby cereal on the husband. Other than that, I returned to three very happy faces awaiting my arrival.

She's a little exhausted from all playing with her dad this weekend...

Today has been a good day. Lots of laundry, vacuuming, and readings on the American West.

I am also trying to write a paper early. (Trying to finish assignments early...why should I even bother, right?)

Today David dressed the baby...I put her in the basket. My mom always took pictures of me in baskets and I played in them all the time. I think her shirt, which says, "Going to Grandma's" is their way of oh so subtly telling me its time for a family trip to Guthrie to see Nana and Papaw.
In other baby news, Mia has found out that she can "talk" and stick out her tongue at the same time. She also loves to sit in front of the mirror for hours and make faces at herself. (She's a bit vain..but she thinks she's funny.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cookies and Conferences

I leave tomorrow morning for my history conference in Texas. I am presenting, for the first time, my research on Quanah Parker. I am a bit nervous, which I am usually not at conferences, because I'm not talking about the Lubbock Cotton Club. The C.C has been my life for over three years. I have presented something on the Cotton Club at every conference I have ever been to excluding one.

I am also leaving Mia and my husband alone together for the first time ever. To say I'm a little nervous is the equivalent of saying I am a little bit opinionated..

So b/c I'm leaving, I have lots to do before I leave. I'm leaving David all sorts of detailed notes and stacks so that Mia won't show up to Mother's Day Out wearing an NRA t-shirt....(shudder!)

Here are notes, pjs, value cards, and of course Mia's favorite toy ever, the glow-sea horse that plays classical music. (She sleeps with it every night and most naps)

I have also been making food so Dave won't order pizza for the 2 days that I'm gone. But, being a sweet wife, I've also made him cookies. My new cookies! They're quite delicious. I've been working with the recipe for a while, trying to find a way to get cookies with the right amount of crunch but also the right amount of "melti-ness."
**Melti-ness is the word that I have developed for cookies that aren't raw but not crispy. I developed it when trying to bake non-raw cookies for one of my girlfriends.**

Here's the recipe:
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 c. packed brown sugar (I use dark brown sugar, but you could use either, I just like the deeper flavor)
1.5 tsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 c. semisweet chocolate chunks/chips (If you want sweeter, use milk chocolate chips)
.5 cups chopped pecans
.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheet with wax, parchment paper, or a silicone mat, set aside.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
3) Using electric mixer, beat together, in another large bowl, butter, sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, until well incorporated. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture just until combined.
4) With rubber spatula, fold in chocolate, pecans, and oats.
5) Drop 2-inch balls of dough, spaced 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 12-16 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned, rotating the sheets halfway through.
6) Cool 5 minutes on sheets; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Clothes for the baby

Our frugal shopping continues. I never, ever thought, however, that I would have the wonderful luck that I did this weekend. We went to the Once Upon a Child in Moore. I've been to the stores before and I have a rule that I only buy the clothes with the tags still on them. The store was having a buy three get one free deal...and Mia was needing new pants and shorts to make it through the summer. Little did we know, the deals that were coming our way. When we walked out of the store, (a mere $90 lighter) we had 16 outfits and 38 total pieces.

So, you might be thinking that $90 was a lot to spend, however, one of the outfits we bought was Burberry!! I have no idea what a brand new, 3 piece Burberry outfit was doing in Once Upon a Child in Moore, Ok. The entire ensemble cost me $12!!! I came home and looked it up, and it retails for over $275!!

I put the sencond picture to prove that I'm not making up the $12 dollars spent!

The other reason that I like Once Upon a Child, is that I really like to get Mia's church clothes there as well as her Ralph Lauren outfits.

In the picture above, that shows all the outfits (many of the shorts and pants are doubled up) all but 3 pieces are Ralph Lauren, all new with tags. The other pieces are from A Children's Place. So I think, its not a bad investment. We were able to get Mia outfits up through 12 months. She now has plenty of outfits for the spring and summer.

We also used the weekend to clear out her dresser and put away all the newborn and 3 month clothes. It was heartbreaking..I can't believe this lil' chubby-cheeked baby was once a itty 6 lb newborn, with no clothes to fit her!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring Planting..

It is a beyond beautiful day in Oklahoma. I also take off one day a week from school work so that I don't go insane. I decided to take off today, since I will also take off a good deal of tomorrow with church and Bible study. With no more freeze warnings in the near future, we decided to go buy some plants and re-do our patio.

We did really well! We bought an outdoor rug, several plants, including herbs and pepper plants. I really like having fresh herbs, esp. in the summer.

This is the side view of the patio..the big chair from Pottery Barn, and all the trash is our recyclables that really need to be taken...

Old view of the other side of the patio. The rug wasn't there originally, but David already had it down by the time I got my camera out.

Our new plants, where they should get almost full sun. We planted Cilantro, Italian flat leaf parsley, basil, banana peppers, jalepenos. In non edible plants, we bought hosta, a wood fern, and a jade plant.

It looks so much nicer outside. We spent much of the afternoon sitting in the big chair...Mia even napped in the big chair! Such a nice afternoon!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Baby Mia reached a major milestone this week--she rolled over! She's quite proficient! It takes a little time, but she eventually makes her way over.

She thinks she can......

She Did!!

We are so proud of our "big girl!"

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Cleaning

My love of a clean and orderly home is only rivaled by my love for my family, friends, and history. After an incredibly disastrous week, I needed some serious Spring Cleaning. It provides me a great way to de-stress. Even when I get home from late night seminars (which two nights a week, means around 10 pm), I make sure the family is ready for the next day and then I clean. Many nights I even bake. I need a homey feel before I go to bed. As a child, between my brother and I, my mother was cooking for a bake sale or concession stand almost once a week. I love the smells of baking bread, cinnamon, and then end it all with a freshly cleaned kitchen. I love gleaming counter tops.

With baby Mia in our lives, and the roaming wander that is our dog Bentley, I've become very aware of my cleaning products, and their effect on the environment and my family's health. I have started cleaning organically. The stores are carrying more and more organic cleaning products. My new favorite product is Simply Green. It comes in a concentrated formula, thus you make different bottles for floor cleaning or counters. Its only 4 dollars a bottle, and I've found $1 off coupons on the coupon mom's site, every week. We are still on bottle one, and I've made three separate bottles from the concentrate.

I also bought this great book on living green, and making your own products with simple things that most people have in their pantries. Its amazing what can be done with a lemon, baking soda and distilled vinegar.

This week we are off to buy our plants for the Spring and Summer. I have finally convinced David to let me have an herb garden. Their compact, don't take much maintenance, and will be delicious. I use so much basil and parsley in the summer. I make yummy pesto all summer long. Hopefully the weather will cooperate!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Coupon Mom

My love affair with the Coupon Mom continues! Today was my most triumphant grocery shopping expedition ever!
I went to three stores, CVS, Homeland, and Super Target and spent a combined total of $112. My total savings after coupons, bonus card, etc- 187.62!!! Is that not amazing!?! I’m quite proud. Dave about fell over when I presented my receipts. Even the lady at CVS was astonished when I saved over $20. I gave her my secrets and websites to look at. It was fun.

Now, it is also important to note, that this purchase included big things,
10-Good Start Formula (that are usually $11-14 dollars a piece)
10 lb. bag of boneless-skinless chicken breasts
2 1.5lb 93-7 lean ground beef
16 oz. Farmland thick sliced bacon
10 32 oz. Gatorades
2 loaves Nature’s Own Organic Wheat Bread
2.5 gallons of Milk
12 Organic Eggs
Fresh Mozz. and Freshly Grated Parm. Cheese
3x Concentrated All
4 4oz. Colgate Total with advanced Whitening Toothpastes
3 Speed Sticks

Those were the big things, obviously lots of little things too. But seriously, is that not amazing?!

The good thing about the method is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to have oodles of time. Believe me. I’m having to write this at 11 when all are asleep, and I’ve just finished grading. I did all of this shopping in an hour, including going to the 3 stores. (I could have taken longer, but the duty of the Ph.D student called me to come home and finish another book.) You have to organize a few weeks to get your feet under you and get organized, but after that you’re set. We’ve also been trying to use our BOGO free stuff to donate to the church’s food bank or storage pantry.

So there...I now run to the shower, try to get to sleep before Mia wakes up for round 1...and then start all over again tomorrow!