Friday, April 5, 2013

Brace Yourselves...Change is Coming...

Shameless appropriation of a Game of Thrones quote there. The new season has me so excited, btw! So much happens in the third book, I wonder how they'll handle it to be honest.
Anyway back to the matter at hand! I have put a temporary page on my website at last. I have a lot to learn still, but these little steps are exciting to me. Soon Clare's Chaos will be part of Big things are coming! A new website, a new venture, and hopefully, a new me!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Downton Abbey *Spoiler Alert*

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains a huge plot spoiler regarding the series "Downton Abbey". If you haven't watched through to the end of Season Three, you may want to close this window right now. Seriously. 

One night Jason had fallen asleep on the couch and yet I was strangely awake. I grabbed a snack and scrolled through Amazon's instant video selection and saw Downton Abbey. I'd heard so much good about this series, so I clicked play.

And an insatiable addiction was born.

Since that time, many hours were spent in the evenings watching the trials and tribulations of the Crawley family and hanging on every elegantly pronounced word. I laughed, I cried, I felt rage. It was like the tamer British cousin of Game of Thrones for me. Jason became hooked as well and together we spent our evenings flying through all three seasons. We discussed it with my in-laws on Easter since apparently they've kept up with it but one thing struck me as odd. My mother in law kept saying how angry it made her that they were trying so hard to save Downton Abbey when financial ruin threatened the property. I inwardly wondered "Why?? Why wouldn't you want to save such a beautiful estate and such a genteel way of life?"

Then the season finale came. And Matthew Crawley, the immensely likable and totally selfless savior of the Crawley estate lay beneath his overturned car with blood running thickly through his handsome blonde hair. 

I was stunned. 

How could they do this? How could they kill off probably the most likable character in the entire series? And right after he'd finally produced a newborn heir to secure the title forever and continue the line! Then it hit me... perhaps Downton Abbey is evil...

Just look at the title screen...dark as well as light! Evil side much?

Of course! It's the house! It's the bloody house... It's alive like some Amnityville Horror of the English countryside. Until now, Lord Grantham has produced nothing except girls (therefore in sexist old England, no heirs) and it's been worried. But it can't off Lord Grantham because he genuinely loves the estate and wants to preserve it. But Sybil disses the legacy, marries an Irish Socialist, and produces another girl... and what happened to her? Yep, she's gone. Died within the walls of the home. But Matthew Crawley gets sucked in. He marries the prickly eldest daughter, falls in love with the estate, and sinks a fortune into it to save the legacy. He modernizes it to keep it afloat. He saves that estate's bloomin' arse. Then the crowning glory...he produces a male heir. The line is saved! Succession is achieved! Downton Abbey has no further need for dear Matthew. It chews him up and spits him out on the side of the road bleeding beneath his car like yesterday's rubbish. It won't off Mary Crawley though... she bleeds Downton's stubborn lifeblood like her father does and she'll need to raise the heir apparent with the same values. The house is intelligent as well as evil it would appear.

Or perhaps the writers are just cheeky bastards who like to toy with our emotions.
But I'd put my money on the house...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mommy Daydreams...

As I have stated once or twice before, I love cooking. I also love my crazy monkeys. But sometimes I still dream...

My tastes are simple. I wouldn't even have to leave the house, really. I'd just like a day where I didn't have to do anything. A day without school lessons or playing referee in the midst of testosterone fueled rage. I think I'd spend it reading, coding and watching Downton Abbey. Maybe I'd order take-out... Or take a nap! But I wouldn't cook or do laundry or clean a damn thing. There might be a long bath involved. A cold bottle of wine would be a must.

Sure I could dream of Puerto Rico and the sound of the wind in the coconut trees... But this is a more realistic fantasy for the time being. Attainability can be attractive too. ;)

Monday, March 11, 2013

...Cause Knowledge is Power!!

Sometimes I get the itch to learn something. I'll suddenly have this deep seated need to expand my horizons. I'll want knowledge just for the sake of having it. Sure, I learn a lot of things alongside my kiddos while helping them with their schoolwork, but that doesn't fill the void. I'll pick up Rosetta Stone or find a website aiming to learn a new language but inevitably it'll fall by the wayside. (One day I'll finish this though...being at least bilingual is on my bucket list and I'm not getting any younger.)

One day, I was reading the book Ghost in the Wires and the idea of all these programming languages piqued my interest. I decided to look into them. They all recommended HTML as a good one to start with. I started playing around with it one afternoon just for kicks. I was hooked. There is something so very satisfying about taking all these unintelligible lines of code and watching it turn into something almost...pretty! The counterpart to HTML, which deals with even more artistic elements, CSS is a little trickier to me. But oh the things you can do with it... My awesome husband even bought a big book to help me learn more in depth, and it's like crack. Once I start doing those lines of code, I'm loathe to put it down.  

This has me planning.

Thanks once again to my awesome DH, I am now in possession of a domain name. I will use it to practice, and eventually pimp that sucka out. I'd move my blog there... I'd open up a recipe section... There could be a health and fitness section too... I could have a corner for just about anything! This is very exciting to me.

The geekdom is growing...

As a side note, if you're interested in a modern "Catch me if you can" kind of story, I highly recommend Ghost in the Wires. It's a pretty amazing story to say the least.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Die, fat greasy Boogeyman...just DIE!

I think we all have our internal struggles. The boogeymen in our brains, the issues that we mentally charge towards on a white steed with a conquering lance glinting in the sun of our confidence.  Sometimes the lance makes contact. Then other times we may fall off of our steed landing in a crumpled and confused heap. The issues go untouched or perhaps only whittled at with no real resolution. Where did we go wrong? We started off so very strong! Why are these things so tough to conquer? Why won't the boogeyman DIE?

I've watched everyone I've ever known struggle with the evil monkeys on their backs that they'd love to shake off. One of my boogeymen is health. Scroll through this blog and at any given point I'm sure you'll find a post hinting at frustration over "falling off the wagon" in regards to healthy living. It's something so right, exercise, be healthy...and yet so many of us fail so miserably. Oh sure, I'll start a diet on my metaphorical charging steed, but before I know it, I'm sitting on my butt in the dirt with a doughnut or two watching my steed gallop away. My beautiful horse was going to lead me to a better place! A place with more energy..a place where you could shop for cute clothes without blushing and picking the "big girl" jeans! And yet here I sit with my doughnuts watching his hooves disappear in the dust.

*huge sigh of frustration*

It's gotten to the point where I'm hesitant to try anything new because I'm afraid that it'll become another massive fail, like all of my other attempts. Might as well just sit here in the dirt with my least it's a stable place, right?


"Why do we fall, sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up." 
So I must pick myself up again.

And drop the doughnuts.

(Oh and bonus points to those who know where that quote was from.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Life Marches On...

Okay forget that, it sprints on. It takes off like a shot, makes your head spin, and leaves you in the dust wondering "What just happened here?" My life has made me feel that way quite a bit here lately. It's been full and busy, but you know what? That has been satisfying. Sometimes we give in to the more sedentary side of geekdom around here and this displeases me. I want us to be active, I want life to be full to bursting, I want... vitality! Sure life with five boys is very full to bursting, but that's usually bursting with stress, breaking up fights, and wondering just how long it'll be until I can have an alcoholic beverage in one hand. Or each hand. Depends on the day. Don't get me wrong, it's also full to bursting with love and a lot of fun. I don't know what I would do without my five crazy little men. They can make me laugh like no other. Sometimes when they can sense my stress levels are rising, they come running up to me acting out my favorite silly parts from cartoons and such just to make me feel better. Last night I had the two babies asleep on top of me like a pile of puppies...and my heart was pretty full to bursting at that point.

In the same vein, life can be so very bi-polar. Yesterday was pretty horrible. Just about anything that could go wrong, went very wrong. The fighting was through the roof. The baby was exceptionally clingy. The chores loomed massively above me. Fast forward to today... school was done quickly and there has been virtually no fighting. Aidan didn't even balk when I told him to brush his teeth! Now they're downstairs rocking out to Nightwish while Sean dries and puts away the dishes for me. Sometimes I have to wonder why life is so bi-polar...wouldn't it be nicer if things were a bit more evened out? But then maybe we wouldn't appreciate the great highs without the great lows. Perhaps we need the yin with the yang. Maybe we'd be bored without it. (Yeah, see I can be all philosophical about it today...yesterday's philosophy was "I really need to start smoking again..")

So yeah, life's been busy. My oldest is now an official white belt in Tae Kwon Do. He loves it and we love that he loves it so much. Three times a week he stretches, jumps, punches, and kicks his way closer to his next belt. It keeps him active, and always brings a huge smile of pride to his face. Erik is still in soccer and looks forward to his games and practices with great excitement. Soon enough it'll be basketball season again and Aidan will be back to his B-Ballin' ways as well. In the meantime, there's school and chores and teething babies to attend to as usual. I also applied to join a local homeschool group for field trips, co-ops, and more socialization. I really can't wait to jump headfirst into that as well. Vitality, I tell ya..

Perhaps too much vitality...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's an Enchichanga!

It's been awhile since I've made a real foodie posting therefore, it's past time. As I've stated before, I love to cook. It's probably my favorite form of artwork...and definitely the one I'm best at. If you've seen anything I've drawn or tried to paint, you'll see my point. My maternal Grandmother could draw an animal using only a pencil and you'd think it was a black and white photograph. That gene passed me by and never looked back. But cooking...I can pull off with pride. :)
Now this recipe was an experiment. Poor Jason knows what experiments mean...success brings about much happiness (Oh I'm so proud! Wow it looks beautiful! What an amazing flavor!) and failure brings about the four horsemen (It looks like barf on a plate! What the hell is that awful flavor? $&*#@!!). Lucky for me, my family, and this post, it was a successful one. I began with a Weight Watcher recipe that I liked the concept of...but the concept was about the only thing I liked about it. So I went to the pantry and found some things to jazz it up. It started as a Baked Chimichanga, but I used the flavors that I would normally put in enchiladas. And the Enchichanga was born! This is simple enough to throw together on a busy evening and you can serve it with so many different sides. This time, I paired it with SkinnyTaste's brilliant Cilantro Lime Rice  Find It Here, but you could do a side salad, black bean soup or whatever sounds yumilicious to you.

Baked Enchichangas
Makes 8 (WW 6 Points Plus each)

1 lb. Ground Turkey Breast
1\2 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced
1 4.5 oz can Mild Green Chili Peppers
1 c canned Pinto Beans
1 c. Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese (Mexican Blend would work too)
8 Whole Wheat Tortillas (I used the La Tortilla brand. They're delicious, soft, and only 2 points a piece)
1 10 oz can Enchilada Sauce
Salt, Pepper, Cumin, Garlic Powder to taste

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Coat a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add turkey and onion to skillet and cook over medium-high heat until browned. Season meat with generous dashes of Cumin and Garlic Powder. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add beans and don't be afraid to smash them up a bit as you stir. Add the tomatoes and chili peppers and stir a minute or two. Add the can of enchilada sauce and mix well. Lower to  medium-low heat and allow to simmer about five minutes. Stir in the cheese and remove from the heat. 

Meanwhile, wrap tortillas in foil; warm in oven for 10 minutes. (You could also wrap them in damp paper towels and warm in the microwave if preferred.)
Divide the turkey mixture between the 8 tortillas. Fold in the sides, then roll them up. 
Place chimichangas, seam-side down, in prepared baking dish. Bake, uncovered, until tortillas are crisp and browned, about 20 minutes. 
You can serve these with reduced fat sour cream, or salsa for little to no extra points. 

Simple, tasty, quick, and kiddo approved.
Tastes great when you're having a Tex-Mex craving too...enjoy!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lazy Saturday

So far this is a lazy Saturday. Well, Baby Jedi woke up before anyone else wanting to eat and play so there was that... And then breakfast, oh lord. Every morning I ask, "So what does everyone want for breakfast today?" and 99.999% of the time I hear the response "I dunno...what do we have?" (stop, sigh, count to ten) "The same things we always have, really, I shouldn't have to say this every morning, guys.." I start tossing some turkey bacon in the microwave because that's a staple regardless of what they decide on. I then find Bren in the pantry squirting yellow decorator gel all over the ends of the bag of potatoes. I haul Bren out of the kitchen, throw the gel away (can't find the cap now and it's probably expired anyhoo... How and where did he find that now that I think about it..) grab the potato bag and go for a pair of scissors to cut off the decorated part. No scissors in the drawer. Count to ten once more. Pull the first batch of bacon out of the microwave plop it on the plates. Hunt down scissors and remedy the glittery yellow potato bag situation...gingerly carry the gooey bits to the trash can. No trash bag in the can. Of course! Maybe count to twenty this time. Put  bits on the counter, toss in the second batch of bacon. Meanwhile, the toast has popped up and is now cold. Pop that back down for a few seconds so it'll warm enough for the butter to melt. Get out a trash bag to put in the can. Find the baby crawling into the kitchen now and getting dangerously underfoot. NOT get frustrated at baby because he gives me this:
This face could melt all hearts and bring about world peace...
Kiss baby's adorable epic cheeks while moving his chubby butt to the living room. Fuss at older boys who are starting a fight in aforementioned living room. Oh sh*t, the toast! Run and pop the toast out of the toaster and get it buttered putting the darker side plate-down. *sshhhh* Finally get the gel-covered potato bag in the trash can. Find Bren trying to dump a cup of water in the sink and get it all over the cabinet in the process... and so on and so forth, etc...

Well I haven't washed a dish or touched the washer, so that's lazy. Actually, I really, really need to sweep and mop the floor's bordering on horrific. And I'll probably have to do the dishes so that I can fill half of the sink with water for mopping...

Okay damn it, I'm still in my PJs. That's lazy, right?

More coffee, coming up...

Friday, January 25, 2013

TGIF...and for sushi

Friday is here! Woot! Yay! Huzzah! (if you're in a missing Ren Fest kind of mood) Hmm, suddenly I'm remembering that thing we did in elementary school where you circle one fist in the air next to your head and go "Hoo!Hoo!Hoo!" Wow. Weird times. I'm kinda glad that died out, to be honest...right along with yelling "Gnarly!" as an exclamation. Well, whatever your method of expressing celebration, the weekend is upon us and I'm thrilled. I'm actually in an extraordinary mood today. I went to hang out with my sister last night and we had a blast. I probably really, really needed the outing. My tensions seemed to have run high here lately. Big shock, I know...what could possibly be stressing me out? Can't be my five crazy monkeys bouncing off the walls and getting into god-knows-what day in and day out, right? Heh. Anyhoo, we went walking around an area of town that I've honestly never been to before. It. Was. Awesome. Old neighborhoods, new neighborhoods, old stores just oozing with charm and character and new stores with their clean lines and bright displays. We noshed on chicken yakitori and some amazing sushi. We saw pubs bustling with happy people starting their weekend early. Sounds of live bands at several of the restaurants filled the air as we passed by. To top it all off, we visited a candy store that I have seen featured on Food Network. My inner child just came out and danced. This happened for many reasons. I am a food geek and love the Food Network. The inside was a plethora of colors and smelled like the inside of your Halloween bag after a full night of trick or treating. There was just about every candy produced, including some that I hadn't seen since I was a little kid. Did I mention that they dip just about anything you can think of in chocolate? I've been in specialty chocolate stores before, but this really blew my mind. There wasn't just chocolate covered fresh strawberries, there were blackberries as well. In the mood for salty and sweet? How about chocolate covered Fritos or Pringles? There were cakes and pies and brownies and cookies... HOW have I never been to this place before? They even had people dancing to old school tunes in a part of the store like they were on Broadway or something, which just added to the eclectic feel of the evening.  Even little Luke, who was our tagalong for the evening, was entranced by the place. He just kept charming random people causing them to smile and jabber in baby-talk.

This is the face of inescapable cuteness...
We had so much fun! And we never stopped talking either (outside of the point where I was rendered speechless after walking into the candy store). It was a night of good food, good sights, and excellent company. The evening also made me realize though just how big Houston really is. I felt like I was well traveled and knowledgeable about the city, but apparently I'm not. If something this neat has escaped my notice for this long, what else is there to discover? It's an exciting thought, actually...

Well, better wrap this up for now. I was just poked in the shoulder by a handsome blonde midget who quoted a line of cartoon dialogue to me and then giggled hysterically to himself as he ran away....

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Food Fails and School Tales

This is the sad face of a salad fail. In fact, it borders on epic faildom. It was born of rushing and experimentation. Poor thing didn't have a chance. 

I had eaten a rather lackluster Lean Cuisine meal for lunch and was still hungry. A light salad sounded good so to the fridge I went. Starting with the usual bed of lettuce and diced tomatoes, I decided to get inventive. I looked for some kind of protein to throw in there and couldn't find much of anything. Ah! Salami! Why not? At only 1 point per two slices, I could finely chop it up and toss it in the salad. For dressing I reached for a bottle of fat free sun dried tomato vinaigrette figuring to myself "Sun dried tomatoes...should go well with the salami! I haven't tried it yet, but it should work out." HUGE mistake. The dressing was sweet. Extremely sweet. Where the hell was the vinegar in my vinaigrette? Everytime I got a bite with the salami on it I cringed. Although I am not a huge fan of mixing my sweets and savories, it can work from time to time. I dare you to pair salami with something sweet. (And no, Miracle Whip doesn't count.) Go ahead. I then dare you to say it's in any way, shape, or form tasty. Lesson learned here: ALWAYS taste your ingredients before throwing them willy-nilly into a recipe, concoction, or salad.

Life outside of making healthy salad fails has marched on as usual. My kiddos are in the throes of second quarter exams in school but I'm pleased to say, they're acing them. They are pwning those exams! Watching them learn something or even remember something they've learned before is amazing to me and very little makes me more proud. Of course, then you'll be calling out spelling words and hear something like this: " my butthole is between my buttcheeks!" and it'll all come crashing down around you. /facepalm Ah, the joys of boys. Now that one was said with devilish glee but sometimes they say things that make you wonder...what the hell?? Case in point, in Erik's workbook he was instructed to draw something heavier than a butterfly. He thought out loud, "Now what is heavier than a butterfly?" Aidan looks up from his workbook and, in all quiet seriousness, replies "A fat lady". Well...yes...that is correct, but holy crap... After recovering my jaw from the floor, I warned him that it sounded rude, that even a baby weighed more than a butterfly, blah, blah, blah... But that juvenile part inside of me was stifling back laughter so freaking hard... Maybe I was just meant to be a mom to crazy boys. ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Hereby Rechristen This Blog...

This blog has been many things. It chronicled my journey into the South Beach Diet privately. It was where I documented my switch from South Beach to Weight Watchers. It was renamed "Expecting a Healthy Lifestyle" when I tried to be healthy and pregnant at the same time. (Pfft, yeah that worked out great. *rolls eyes*) It then became my "Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle" after I had the baby. Then life happened, yet again, and it lay dormant for quite awhile. I had always kept my blog focused on my diet\healthy living exploits at the time and while this was all well and good, it kept my posts cornered to a specific genre. My awesome (and quite sexy might I add) husband kept encouraging me to open it up from just a blog about loosing weight and getting healthy to a blog about....everything. This intrigued me. I could use a place to vent whatever was lurking up in my belfry in addition to posting about my cooking and recipe endeavors. So, challenge accepted! I hereby reopen this blog as "Clare's Chaotic Cacophony". God help the internet cause I'm back, beeotches. ;)