Tag Archives: real life

The meal that saved the day.

It was one of those days.

It had been raining for three days straight (whoever named Florida the Sunshine State was clearly not here during monsoon season) & we hadn’t been to the park or pool in at least that long. At one point I even heard The Munchkin talking in her sleep about wearing her “other swimsuit” at the swimming pool. In her sleep, people! Clearly this child needed to be outside.

But no. It was still raining. & Mommy was running out of ideas to keep both of us sane until Daddy got home after 7.

So Mommy put some chicken breasts in the sink to thaw for yet another humdrum dinner recipe, put on Mary Poppins (desperate times call for desperate measures), & sat down in front of the computer to look for a recipe for some tilapia I’d just bought on sale. I didn’t find one I loved the sound of (suggestions please!), but what I did find saved the day.

Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s Honey Glazed Chicken got me excited about cooking again! It got My Husband The Lawyer excited to eat it when he walked in the door & smelled it! & it got The Munchkin excited to eat chicken without being bribed with grapes for once!

It sounds silly now that I’m sitting here typing this, but sometimes all it takes is a new yummy recipe to shake things up a bit & pull you out of your it’s-been-pouring-for-3-days-&-I’m-going-crazy rut to keep you sane for just one more day.

Here’s how I made it; I increased the oven temp to shorten cooking time (this recipe was a last-minute decision) & doubled the sauce recipe for you so that you have enough for your rice too — when I made it I halved the amount of chicken (3 breasts was plenty for the 3 of us) but not the sauce, & it was deeeeeelicious. Check her blog to see the real way.

  • 2 lbs. chicken breast, diced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste (I’ve been loving my Steakhouse Grinder lately & used it for this)
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Combine flour, garlic powder, & salt & pepper in a shallow dish.
  2. Melt 2 Tbsp. of your butter & pour into the bottom of a baking dish large enough to fit all of your chicken a single layer.
  3. Coat chicken pieces evenly in flour, then arrange in bottom of dish.
  4. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on medium heat, combine remaining butter with honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, & ginger. Stir constantly until butter is melted & sauce is well blended.
  6. Remove chicken from oven & increase temperature to 375. Flip over each piece of chicken.
  7. Pour sauce evenly over chicken, then place back in the oven & bake another 20 minutes, basting with a spoon a few times (twice was fine for me) during that time. The chicken will be nice & glazed & delicious.
  8. Serve over rice.


Get Your Craft On Tuesdays

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Finding balance in transitions.

photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Online

My Husband The Lawyer (yay! We can finally say that!) has been officially employed for 2 weeks. He gets home after 7 every night. Because of this, we’ve had to move dinner & bedtime back, just so he can get an hour of face time with The Munchkin. Days are long (for him & for me). Patience is short (that’s just me). The Munchkin is also starting to reject naps, choosing instead to lie in her bed & talk to herself for over an hour before finally dropping off for less than that… & then getting cranky at like 6:30. That makes patience shorter.

After the mad “Daddy’s home, eat dinner, clean up, bath, PJs, teeth, hair, binky, story, prayer, kisses, lullabye, bed” rush, My Husband The Love Of My Life & I have less than 2 hours to do the stuff we didn’t get to during the day (blog posts, emails, dishes, etc.), get ready for bed… oh, & that thing called “interacting.” (Apparently sitting next to each other on the couch with the TV on while mutely staring at our own laptops doesn’t count.)

Then Saturday comes. We try to cram in all the family time we didn’t get during the week, & are completely exhausted for church on Sunday. We may or may not get a post-church nap. We chat with family, eat dinner, go to bed…

& do the whole thing over again the next week.

So if the quality of the photos, or depth of writing, or amount of inspiration here at Make Myself at Home has been lacking over these past couple weeks, that would be why. I’m trying to find a good time to write & brainstorm, but it’s a work in progress. Thanks so much for your patience with me & for your friendly comments! It definitely helps on those days when I’m thinking I have nothing to write about. Thanks for holding me accountable; hopefully things will get back to — & even exceed — the level you’ve come to expect.

Stay tuned!

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Mother’s Day in real life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms, grandmas, moms-to-be, & women with a mother heart out there! I had every intention of posting something delicious that even your husband could make to spoil you with today, but then this happened:

This is how I spent the whole weekend, from our 5th anniversary on Friday (well, strictly speaking, I spent it awake starting at 3:45am with an ear-infected Munchkin & then attempting to recuperate for the rest of the day while My Husband The Soon-To-Be-LLM-Graduate took a final & The Munchkin watched more Disney movies than is healthy for a person her size) to Mother’s Day today. I’m still exhausted & hacking like a 4-pack-a-day smoker, but I think the worst may be over & I’ll be back to posting delicious recipes & fun crafts soon!

(I will say that My Husband The Also Sick & Studying For Finals But Still Thoughtful & Romantic did buy me two types of flowers to celebrate both occasions, made us lunch & “brinner” with The Munchkin’s help today, & has been showering me with love & concern all weekend. So Mother’s Day was a success in that regard.)

I hope that Mother’s Day was healthier & happier for you! How did you celebrate?

P.S.: If it wasn’t as happy as you’d hoped, do yourself a favor & try to track down the “Mother’s Day” episode of Season 1 of “The Middle” for a good laugh. (If you do find it online for free somewhere, give me the link! I couldn’t find it anywhere!)

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The Rice Krispies Incident.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Today I learned that when you’re a parent, memories are often made when you’re trying to make something else. In this case, Rice Krispies Treats. To be specific, Jimmer-Fredette-jersey-frosted Rice Krispies Treats for last night’s win over Wofford. (What? You didn’t have that in your bracket? For shame, for shame.) Only they never got frosted. Or eaten, for that matter. We were too busy cleaning up & laughing hysterically.

The scene: One sunny afternoon, The Munchkin & I set out to recreate one of those nostalgic black-&-white Rice Krispies commercials. Minus two marshmallows, of course…

Wonder where those went…

As we measure the Rice Krispies into a bowl, The Munchkin discovers how fun they are to play with. (Sorry, Kellogg — we had to go with the generic brand this time. Get my husband a job for after graduation & I’ll gladly buy your name brand until I die.)

I realized this wasn’t going to work as swimmingly as those commercials had led me to believe, so while I stirred the melting marshmallows, My Husband The Resourceful* got her drumming on an overturned cookie sheet with some chopsticks. But apparently that wasn’t as fun as the Rice Krispies in the bowl were. So she emptied about a third of the box of cereal onto the cookie sheet. Now this was a good time!

My Husband The Hilarious* & I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to tell her this was a bad idea. I’m sure that taking pictures of all this wasn’t helping to reinforce tidy behavior either.

So then My Husband The Brilliant* decided to sweep the cereal onto the cookie sheet & let her play with it on the floor. I figured there’d be a bit of sloshing over the sides, but nothing we couldn’t handle. What we didn’t expect was for her to do the exact same thing that she did with the cereal box & wind up sitting in the middle of the pile of Rice Krispies, happily spreading them all over the floor.

After much Munchkin wrangling on my part & sweeping & vacuuming on My Husband The Tidy’s*, & after much laughing all around, we concluded that the memories made in the kitchen are ultimately more important than whatever recipe we’re making. Sure, I could have distracted The Munchkin with something else & had those Rice Krispies Treats beautifully made, frosted, & blog-phot0-ready in no time. But then we would have all missed out on this great experience. Although we hope this never happens again (we’re still finding errant Rice Krispies here & there) this little adventure was far more fun (& lower-calorie!) than Rice Krispies Treats could ever be. Even Jimmer ones. Which I’m going to frost today anyway, I’ve decided. The end.

*I’ve been contemplating blog nicknames for my husband for weeks now, & after many hilarious but unproductive brainstorming sessions I’ve concluded that he wears too many hats for just one, so I’m testing out these Norse-esque titles… What do you think? Too much?

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (Or, how do I get my kid to sit still?)

The Munchkin & I want to wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Wait, let me get her to stop fiddling with the necklaces.

Look at the camera!

Now she’s looking at the camera… Dare I try to get her to smile? Or maybe even sit up?

Wait! Put the hat back on!

I don’t know why I bother… Happy St. Patrick’s Day anyway!

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St. Patty’s Day dinner: I {shamrock} pizza.

Missive alert…

I’m going to admit something to you: I’m kind of embarrassed to post this next idea. I bought the dough for this pizza two days before I was going to be able to make it, so when I set about kneading & working the dough, it was about as pliable & stretchable as the Play Doh they only recently retired in our church’s Nursery. As a result, the finished pizza doesn’t look pretty. Like, REALLY not pretty. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My first thought was to just delete the pictures altogether; this doesn’t belong on the World Wide Web alongside all of these professional-quality photographs of delicious, beautiful food, does it? But then I was emboldened by a great post by the Reluctant Entertainer that I’d read last week. In it, Sandy relates a conversation she had with a food blogger who “does it all” by sending her kids to school, cooking & taking pictures in the afternoon, then shoving her beautiful food in the fridge, where it might get eaten later… or it might get tossed out.

Is this what our lives have come to? Not mine. For one thing, I don’t have the money to toss food out!

I’m not a food photographer, professional party planner, or classically trained chef. I’m just a mom with a rambunctious toddler, a love of cooking, a few ideas in my head, & a grand total of 10 square feet of natural light (& that for only about 3-4 hours on a sunny day… hence the exceedingly unflattering use of the flash for most everything). When I started this blog, it was to share my “just-mom” ideas with other “just-moms” out there. The pictures aren’t great. The food doesn’t look like it belongs in a magazine. But the ideas are there for you to share with love with your families, just as I do with mine.

Okay, disclaimer/missive over. (Would I refer to that as a dis-missive?)

Now for the fun stuff: How to turn a bell pepper into 4-leaf clovers for your St. Patrick’s Day pizza.

You probably already know about our love affair with pizza. So it should be no surprise that I came up with an excuse to eat it on yet another holiday. I honestly can’t remember how this idea came about — whether I read it somewhere or just had an epiphany — but regardless, it worked a lot better the first time I tried it, with a Papa Murphy’s pizza with a mercifully large, flat crust. So there you go, for what that’s worth.

When you go to the grocery store, look for a green bell pepper with 4 relatively equal-sized lobes:

Cut 1/4-inch slices across the width of the pepper from the bottom up, cutting out any of the seedy core as you come to it. These are your “shamrocks.” When you get close to the top, just cut short slices around the core. These will be your “stems.”

Now for the pizza part: Preheat your oven & pizza stone to 450. Then roll out your crust on your parchment paper (with a little flour if it needs it) & top it with the sauce & any other non-shamrock toppings you’re planning on using.

Then cover those with your cheese. (The store was out of regular shredded, so I had to go with finely shredded. Can someone give me a concrete reason they even created this stuff? It just gets everywhere except where you want it to stay!)

Now arrange your shamrocks & stems however they’ll fit & look pretty. A larger-than-13-inch pizza will provide more breathing room, so people will have an easier time telling what it is.

Now bake it until the cheese is bubbly & the crust is golden-brown. Then enjoy!

What are you making for St. Patty’s Day dinner?

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Filed under Holidays, Recipes

Murphy’s brownies.

Let me begin by stating the following:
The pile drivers in the construction site behind us have been clanging deafeningly & continuously for weeks.
Thanks to a hangup with our car registration, our tags are expired & we haven’t been able to drive anywhere for a week & a half. & we’re running out of food in our cabinets.
I’m in charge of putting together our church congregation’s talent show, which is this Saturday.
Today is my husband’s long day at class, made even longer by a makeup class the professor decided to schedule for tonight until 8.
I’m on Week 2 of no sugar… & I’m a stress eater.
And yesterday The Munchkin decided to get sick.

Suffice it to say, my sanity is hanging by a thread.

Today I was working on signs for the talent show, when The Munchkin decided to wake up from her nap after only 40 minutes. Murphy was really piling it on today, wasn’t he?

Late this afternoon I sent my husband an email. The subject line was “say a prayer for us.”

Even though she promised to go to sleep after “Nemo” (we shook on it & everything), she of course didn’t. I’ll choose to thank the pile drivers for choosing that exact moment to STOP being quiet. I literally started beating my head with my hands. At any rate, she was wired & asking for cookies. I gave her some Teddy Grahams & realized that, rather than resort to self-abuse to retain my sanity, I got the brilliant idea that she & I could bake something together. It would take up time, & I could get some sugar in my veins. We have no brown sugar, so cookies were out of the question, but we could make brownies in a regular mixing bowl so she could help & wouldn’t be afraid of the mixer noise. I went online & found a recipe with cocoa powder & we got to work. It called for melted butter, so I shoved it in the microwave… & it exploded. Didn’t know butter could do that! Meanwhile, as usual, Munchkin was emptying the drawers. While I was wiping molten butter out of the inside of the microwave, she must’ve pulled too hard because she fell backwards off of the stepstool. I was quick enough to keep her from whacking her head on the floor too hard, but still. This was going awesome.

It did get better though. She enjoyed helping me mix & make a huge mess of the cocoa powder. As I was pouring the batter into the pan she stuck her whole hand, fingers spread, into the batter in the pan. She didn’t realize she could lick her fingers, so she proceeded to… wipe it on me. Looks like I should start wearing aprons more often for my own protection. She eventually did figure out she could lick her fingers, but I got her to wash her hands before she consumed too much raw egg. Because salmonella would be an AWESOME addition to this week. Just in case, I licked a hefty amount of batter myself, so I’ll know to expect it if she gets it. (Just so you know, I was planning on setting a good example & not eating the batter for once.)

Please say a prayer we survive even until 7.

I love you tons! I hope that this entertained you in class a little. I can’t WAIT to see you tonight, relax, eat brownies (maybe with ice cream!) & watch “White Collar!”

So I’m off the wagon sugar-wise, but at least I’m sane & The Munchkin survived the rest of the day just fine (though apparently quite blurry… thanks auto-focus) on 40 minutes of sleep.

You’ve stuck with me this long, so you deserve to see the recipe & a pretty picture. The brownies were tasty & just the right fudginess, so at least 1 good thing (besides this totally AWESOME blog post, of course) came out of the ordeal! I found the recipe here & used most of the modifications from the first comment.

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (I used the on-sale single-serve applesauce I bought for food storage, & didn’t realize until I got home that the second ingredient was high-fructose corn syrup; if you’re using natural applesauce, you may want to increase the amount of added sugar below)
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar (I used 1 1/2 & it could’ve used a little more sweetness. But that could be my sugar-deprived self talking.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottom of 8-inch square pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together butter, applesauce, sugar, & vanilla. Beat in eggs. Add dry ingredients & mix well.
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until brownies are done in the middle & just start to pull away from sides of pan.
  4. Let cool several minutes before cutting & enjoying.

Chocolate solves a multitude of problems, doesn’t it?

So, how was your day?

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I guess those age recommendations are there for a reason.

Today The Munchkin & I were at A.C. Moore to pick up a few things. While perusing the seasonal section, I found a $1 Valentine’s necklace kit. The Munchkin loves bracelets, necklaces, & playing dress-up with our winter scarves, so I thought this would be the perfect little craft. The packaging said “Choking hazard. Ages 3 & up,” but so does everything, so I got it anyway.

She was so excited about her necklace that we got it out as soon as we got home to put it together. No sooner had I emptied the package than at least three beads ended up in The Munchkin’s mouth. So the next few minutes consisted of her popping bead after bead into her mouth, me having her spit them out, & then stringing each soggy bead onto the elastic before it really did become a choking hazard.

Some of them didn’t make it.

Finally I got the rest of the beads strung & the necklace tied. Here’s what happened next:

Lesson learned. I’ll be paying closer attention to those age recommendations from now on.

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