Tuesday, November 29, 2011

December Menu Plan... Includes Spaghetti with Syrup & Pop Tarts


Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! I love this time of year so much. It's easy though, to get swept up in the Christmas activities and going to the mall at 11pm just because you can and leave meal planning to the last minute...if at all. And if ever there's a better month to save some cash, it's this one. I admit, I slipped up a few times during November and some meals I had planned just didn't get made. So, um, if you made the Cuban beef, let me know how it was. But I'm determined to do better this month.  I've also changed up my grocery list format. Download it here. I've listed the groceries for the first two weeks on the first worksheet, then the rest of the month on the next worksheet. If you look at the bottom of the Excel spreadsheet, you'll see the different tabs. This way, we're not buying produce on the 1st for meals at the end of the month. If you use the grocery list, let me know if that helps. Alright, let's get to the eatin...

4. Open
10. Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Rolls
12. Homemade Pizza
14. Spaghetti Bolognese
21. BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
23. Penne Vodka with Sausage
24. Christmas Eve!
25. Christmas
28. Fajitas
30. Breakfast for Dinner
31. New Years Eve

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dare to DIY: Cookies!

Evenin' friends. It's a sad state of affairs when the most productive thing I did all weekend was 1) bake these puppies and 2) artfully arrange them. But hey, it's Kim's Dare to DIY Challenge and I can't not join in . Otherwise, my productivity level would have been a flatline. So anyway, it's week 3 and the dare is to Eat Cookies. Or Make Cookies. I'm not sure which. Probably both. Well I had been wanting to make these Tart Cherry Cheddar Bars for awhile, mostly because of the cheese factor (literally), so this got my butt in gear. And I like making bars as opposed to cookies because they pass for breakfast food without all the guilt. Yeah, I'll justify my way into anything. Anyway, don't be scared of the cheese. It works wonders with the cherry & the crust. In fact, I implore you to tell me what doesn't work wonders when paired with cheese. Nothing!

Tart Cherry Cheddar Bars

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*
3/4 cup cherry preserves

Directions:
1) Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Grease the foil. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2) Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a food processor. Add the butter and cheese and pulse until the flour is pale yellow and coarse.

3)Press half the flour mixture firmly into the prepared pan. Bake just until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Spread the preserves evenly over the crust, then sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the preserves. Bake at 325° until the top is golden, about 25 minutes. Place on a wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

4) When cool, use the foil “handles” to lift the bar from the pan and cut.

*According to America's Test Kitchen where I originally saw this recipe, the shredded, bagged cheese actually works better for this recipe, making the crust even crispier than if you grated your own. Imagine that.

nd in case you are in the market for a bunch of awesome cookie recipes, go check out the rest of em here...


Dare to DIY

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Surprise!

So on Monday, I alluded to the fact that this past weekend was amazing. If you follow me on the Twit, then you know I jetted off to the land of a billion lakes, Minnesota. Why you ask? To surprise my pal Bethany with a blog bachelorette party. It was everything we wanted to be and more and we couldn't have done it for a more genuinely deserving & appreciate girl. She's so awesome. So let's sit back and hear how this weekend came to be, just one month after meeting her during the Always Bloggy in Philadelphia meet-up, shall we?

While the girls were here for Always Bloggy, we had all gone out to dinner then afterwards, a smaller group of us headed to the bar. That group was me, Bethany, Nellie and Karen. Making it our mission to get Bethany drunk for the first time allowed for us all to knock down a few and get to really know each other. At one point Bethany went to the ladies room and I think it was Nellie, who turned to us and said "we need to throw her a bachelorette party". We were quick to agree but couldn't talk more about it until after the girls had all gone back home. Luckily we did start talking about it almost immediately via email.

After realizing that our schedules just didn't jive that well together (yep, I just said jive) and that there is always the possibility for more babies on the horizon (not me per se, but both N & K are moms too), we realized we need to do this thing sooner than later. And when it came down to planning, we decided to just do it now, before the holidays kicked in and we'd basically lose a few months in all of the hubbub. We figured even though her wedding is next year, why the hell not? We like each other and wanted to see each other! Now!

So how to surprise her? We chose Minneapolis for it's proximity to B's home in Wisconsin.  Because as cute as her hometown may be, we knew that the big city was where we needed to be. So being the frequent flyer, high-powered business lady that she is, Nellie convinced Bethany that she'd be in Minnepolis for work and asked her if she'd like to come do dinner & drinks. Luckily B agreed. We all flew in Friday morning and met up at our hotel before she got there. We stayed at the Radisson downtown which we kinda just picked out of nowhere. But it was pretty swank for the price and convenient to everything. Oh and I highly recommend tracking down Allen at the front desk to give you the low-down on where to go. You know, for when you plan a trip to Minneapolis. Right? Anyway, we managed to decorate it a little bit and lay out the bachelorette paraphernalia that we pulled together last minute like a unicorn tiara, macarons and champagne...very Bethany-esque paraphernalia.

Once we heard B had arrived, Nellie went down to the lobby to meet her. She brought her back to the room to drop off her bag and this happened.



It was the cutest thing. She went on and on. In fact, go read her blog for a quick recap of her reaction. Go, I'll wait.

Ok, so once we settled her in, we cracked open a bottle of champagne for a toast. Btdub, thank you Team Liquor in Minneapolis for supplying us with all our booze. Go Team Liquor! (best name ever). That toast turned into a a glass or two of wine, then the totally smart decision to head over to the Saks Outlet across the street for some buzzed shopping.  I had wandered over there earlier and had spotted an entire sequin section that was literally calling Bethany's name. Plus, we had to make sure she had a bachelorette appropriate outfit, right? And what screams, Hey males! Give me attention! Buy us drinks! better than sequins?  She picked out a rose gold-ish sequin dress that literally made dudes stop in their tracks. It was that good.  In fact, the other three of us, mature cougar mothers that we are, managed to round out the on the prowl night with leather, sparkles and leopard print. But she was clearly the center of attention, just as she should be.



After dinner at Mission, we headed down the street to Seven, which boasted a covered rooftop deck. After concluding that Minneapolis is full of um, characters? We headed outside, where we asked the nearest dudes where the closest irish pub was. Not only did they give us directions to a great one, they posed for a pic!

We headed over to Kieran's where we stayed our welcome. If the mission was to get attention and get hammered while doing it, I'd say bravo girls, mission accomplished. Here is a small sample of non-incriminating photos.




and my new wedding portrait...

Seriously, wtf? Who is this dude and why does this look like our wedding's first dance? Let it be known that the smile on my face is because I see the waitress dropping off beers at our table, not for this dude. I am what you'd call...waaaaasted. Don't worry, John knows I only have drunk eyes for him. And beer.

And now for some things that were hilarious to us but now come to think of it, are probably just inside jokes.  The whole weekend, we kept getting asked where we were from, how we all knew each other, how we met, blah blah blah. Well as much as we love the internet, telling people we met on our blogs just wasn't as much fun as the new story we came up with. So after this weekend, we are now all alumni of St. Marguerite's or West Chester Academy (we couldn't pick one), our high school boarding school in Arizona  ZURICH. Aren't we fascinating? Oh and our school mascot? The fightin; Chocolate Watches. Get it? They're Swiss. Ha. You can imagine all of the hilarity that this story caused us. And how many dipshits believed us. Especially when we told them that our favorite thing about boarding school in Switzerland was the airport. Srsly. Kids, this is what beer does to your brain.

Anyway, we did it up just as bachelorettes (and their old married friends) do. It was a ton of fun. And even though we thought this would be the highlight of our weekend, we managed to have the best time the whole rest of the weekend too. But that's a story for another day.


 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Dare to DIY: Dare to Entertain

Hey guys! So after having the most amazing weekend ever, which I'll tell you all about later this week, I came home from the airport and set my dining room table. Why? Because I'm crazy. Oh and it's also Week 2 of Kim's Dare to DIY Challenge: Dare to Entertain. This week is all about one of my faves...tablescapes. Check last year's comfy cozy table here.  Anyway, I'm sure I've mentioned in years past that I love the look of a table that's always set, not just at dinner time or special occasions. But I can never bring myself to do it. As much as the creative, festive half of my brain loves the idea, the other half makes fun of it for kinda being pointless. And a cat magnet. Seriously, my a-hole cat will totes jump up and bat the crap out of anything not glued down. But I've decided that boring, logical Shannon is gonna get a sock in her mouth because creative, festive Shannon wins. And she wins a pretty dining room table, dressed in her Christmas best.

Since we don't do Thanksgiving, I can go right ahead and skip right on through it with my decor. I always do my dining room in peacock blue and green for Christmas, so when I realized I had this extra blue flat sheet lying around, that puppy became my new tablecloth. As per usual, pretend those wrinkles aren't there. Ironing a sheet is not my idea of a good time.


I added a my normal little set-up of cloches and some Christmas sparklies. Oh and I pulled out a set of china given to me by my godmother. It was her husband's mom's set and when they moved to California last year, they offered it to me. I've kinda got the reputation for needing multiple sets of these sort of things.






Anyway, I know this is totally gonna make me cheery and Christmas spirit-y every day until Christmas. And the more of that, the better. We've got to keep boring, logical Shannon down, know what I'm sayin?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gabe is 15 Months!

For someone who prides herself on documenting the crap out of everything, I haven't done the best job in keeping up with Gabe's monthly updates. I've been busy, um, raising a toddler. Seriously, I've got a toddler. Look at him!

Dear Gabe,

Today you're 15 months old. There's a saying out there about the days being long but the years being short when you're raising kids...that's totally true. I go to bed every night completely exhausted. Completely fulfilled and thrilled with my job, but yes, exhausted. You are all over the place. You'd always rather be outside, grasping a stick or two, scaling the hills and investigating every inch of our yard...and our neighbors' yards too. Once your out though, it's hard to get you back inside. You um, throw a fit every time. Somehow though, even your fits are cute.

You also love love love books. Whether it's standing on your truck book or handing Daddy your Fluffy Scruffy book, you can't get enough. Catching you out of the corner of my eye, sitting indian-style on the kitchen floor, book in your lap...it thrills me.

You spent the better part of the month teething. I'm pretty sure you're close to a full set of chompers. You won't let us in your mouth long enough to count them but there's at least 12 teeth in there. You know what they're good for? Apparently eating graham crackers. And animal crackers. And ritz crackers. When you turn into a cracker, we'll know why.

And you're such a giggler. You'll turn it on for random people at Target or at the bank and unleash the biggest fit of high pitched giggles. It's pretty awesome. And you're pretty darn cute.

Keep up with the being awesome Gabe. You are so so fun and we love watching you run around the place, sometimes in your diaper, slapping your stomach and laughing your little head off.

Love,
Mama

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dare to DIY: Be Thankful

So today starts Week 1 of Kim's Dare to DIY Challenge and this week's challenge was to Be Thankful aka make some Thanksgiving crafties. Well if you saw me in action last year, you'd think I ruled at this type of thing. See, last year I made DIY No-Sew Crushed Velvet Pumpkins. And ya know what? That tutorial is freakin popular. It brings a ton of traffic to my little blog here. So obvs. I felt a ton of (self-induced) pressure to make something kick-ass. And um, I buckled under that pressure. So instead, I made a Book Page Wreath.
It was super easy and I was able to use all sorts of supplies I had on hand in my stash. There are a billion great tutorials out there. I just used the first one that popped up on google. And let's just put it out there that I made this Saturday night at like 9 alongside a glass of mediocre Malbec. I can't vouch for the uniformity of my paper cones. And I will now stop apologizing for my wreath and get on with it...


Crap cell phone pics add to the charm

I figure the sentiment is a sublte nod to the meaning of Thanksgiving and sums up how I feel bout those dudes I live with. I like em a lot and they make life pretty darn awesome. So I'm thankful for them. And you guys too.



Friday, November 11, 2011

Scentsy Giveaway Winner

Congrats Leigh from Kesler Expressler! Your house will be smelling fine in no time. Scentsy should probably hire me now for taglines.

Email me your address Leigh!
ohshannanigans @ gmail.com

The rest of you? Go buy stuff from Susan. And have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two Babes on a Davenport in a Living Room*

*Wayne's World, Wayne's World, Party.

My friend Katie's got a handful of weeks left of her maternity leave so we decided that while she's getting the hang of this whole mothering thing, we'd get together once a week to hang out. And since we all know that I'm not into joining mom groups or making other mom friends with women I meet in Target, I take any chance I can get with my actual friends that just happen to be moms. (Sidenote, I'm totes still bitter about that b never calling me).

I know, right? Teeny squishy baby? Although squeal-inducing, DOES NOTHING FOR MY OVARIES. I feel like every other mom out there with a kid Gabe's age is already talkin bout babe #2 (or even already knocked up with #2). I'm like uhhhh, yeah, maybe? Someday?

I did however, watch Nora, while Katie ran some errands and while it was only for a little while, I got a small taste of what it would be like with two kids. Whereas with Gabe as a newb, I barely put him down. When babe #2 shows up, you have no choice but to put them down so you can wrangle your toddler from jumping off the piano bench.

So when in doubt, bribe him with puffs. Non-moms, puffs are God's gift. Melt in your mouth crunchies that taste like cardboard.

We played our own version of People/US Weekly/Other trash magazine's "Who Wore It Better"? Kidding. Don't answer that. We just happened to dress our kids in matching outfits that day. Kinda cute. Oh and don't judge for the Dino-Mite Dude patch. I wish I could rip that shit right off the clothes. Although, it's better than mommy's little boyfriend or something else equally creepy.

Anyway, we propped these kiddos up next to each other to try to get a pic and while all my pics are blurry, the progression of Nora falling over is kinda hilarious.


NomNomNom

Timmmmmberrrrr

Heh. Cute, right? The photoshoot possibilities involving two kids *is* sorta tempting though. So maybe another kid. Maybe.

Meanwhile, you know what starts on Monday? Kim from Newly Woodward's annual Dare to DIY. This will be the third year I'm participating and I can't get enough of it. You should totally join in. DO IT.

Dare to DIY


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Presents for You: Scentsy

So back in August, when we went to Illinois and met up with Kim, she gave us a tour of her charming, blog-famous home. The moment I stepped in, I was like, this place smells ridonk, what is it, I want it, give it to me. She told me it was Scentsy, which I had never heard of. I later found out all about it. In case you are as clueless as I was, Scentsy is a catalog company that employs consultants to sell their delicious-smellin' wickless candles.

Now as a mom and a mom blogger (name that horrible commercial), I've now banished open flame candles from my house, at least during someone's awake hours. I've got a little set of hands that now reaches higher than before to inspect everything that I've got sitting on tables. And we just can't be having toddlers inspecting fire, that would NOT BE SAFE. Sorry flame candles, you are soooo 2009. You're out and Scentsy's in.

Well imagine my surprise when one of my readers, Susan, emailed me a few weeks ago to introduce herself and let me know she was praying for my fam during my brother's health scare. Awfully nice of her, wouldn't you say?  So we go back and forth with the emails and whatnot and I find out she's a Scentsy consultant. And guess who hooked me up with a couple different varities? Yep, Susan.  She asked me what scents I like. I told her that I liked the smell of Christmas trees and boy cologne. She nailed both of them. You break off a couple pieces of whichever scent bar you're feeling that day, pop em in your warmer and turn it on. Within minutes, you're house is smelling awesome, which if you're me, is either like you're at a Christmas tree farm or Macy's cologne counter.

The full size warmer is now living on my kitchen counter...

The plug-in is now living in my bathroom...

Sharp dressed man? Yes, yes he is.

And today, my girl Susan Kopp, Independent Scentsy Consultant is offering a fabulous giveaway to my readers! One lucky reader has the chance to win 1 plug-in and 1 bar of their choice! All you have to do is 1) be a follower of Shannanigans and 2) visit Susan's site and find your favorite product and then come back and tell me what it is!

Susan's Scentsy Catalog

One last thing, Susan is also offering a special gift to readers who make any purchase this week, please email her at SusanMKopp@gmail.com to get the details. Be sure to mention Shannanigans! This giveaway will end on Thursday November 10 at midnight EST and I'll announce a winner on Friday morning.

Speaking of winners, the winner of the Shabby Apple necklace is Laura! Congrats Laura, I'll be in touch!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Presents for You: Shabby Apple

Hey guys! So I've had the awesome luck of being approached by a few people who would like for me to give you some presents. And who am I to deny you some free stuff? So of course I said yup, bring me your finest free shizz. I'll share it with you this week, along with my regular blog posts if that's quite alright with you guys.

First up, I've been hand-selected (ha) by the (most likely) very well dressed folks at Shabby Apple. They would like one of you loverlies to own this necklace...

Isn't she a beaut? She's called the Light as a Feather necklace and I picked her because you can wear it with anything. She's simple but unique. Kinda like my brain. Anyway, if you'd like to be rocking this necklace, all you need to do is Like Shabby Apple on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

For additional entries you can...
  • Like Shabby Apple on Twitter 
  • Follow the Shabby Apple Blog
  • Like Shannanigans on Facebook
  • Follow Shannanigans on Twitter
  • Blog, Tweet or FB about this giveaway
Yep, that's a ridiculous amount of ways to enter.  Remember to leave a seperate comment for every extra entry. This giveaway will end Tuesday at midnight EST and a winner will be announced Wednesday morning. It's open to US readers only, sorry international pals. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Over

As of three weeks ago, we have officially and successfully weaned.  I started the process back in September when my goal was to gradually get down to three nursing sessions a day, then two, then one, then nada. Well to my surprazz, we went from three sessions to one session within a few days and Gabe didn't even flinch. He didn't have grabby hands towards my shirt or even make any signs of wanting to nurse at all during the times we were essentially skipping.  We continued to nurse in the morning when Gabe would wake up, around 5:30 am, and go back to bed until 7 or so. We did this for a few weeks, mostly for my sake. I wanted the cuddles and I wanted the extra sleep. I was terrified that once we stopped nursing in the AM that Gabe would be up at 5:30 and be ready to go. But finally, I decided enough was enough and that we had to cut out the morning nursing. It was getting uncomfortable and I wasn't able to fall back asleep...which defeated the whole purpose.

So one Saturday morning, when Gabe woke up, John took him downstairs and gave him breakfast. From that day on, we were done. And you know what? Since then, Gabe has been sleeping in a bit later, sometimes even until 7:30, which is freakin awesome. We've gotten through a bad teething period and the past couple days have been smooth sailing. Of course, any parent knows that as soon as you talk about it, it will change, so I'm just enjoying the relatively easygoing little guy we have right now and a sleep schedule that totally meshes with mine. Plus, I'm having zero emotional issues, which is a nice break. I feel like I've been on a hormonal roller coaster since giving birth. So, I'm crossing my fingers that Shannon is back to being Shannon.  Life, right now, is good.


Putting my still present milk supply to good use...

Meanwhile, the normal thing for kids to do once they are done with breastmilk or formula is to start on cow's milk. So I picked up a gallon of whole milk and proceded to give Gabe a taste. He responded unfavorably...you know, which the blechhhhh face. I tried again and again. I tried different temperatures, different flavors, different varitties all together. He refuses to drink them all. The only thing he drinks these days is water. Of course, I've been pumping him full of yogurt and cheese and mixing milk into his food whenever I can to get his dairy in but it's baffling me as to why he won't drink it. Has this happened to anybody else? In my head, every kid drinks milk. But in reality, I'm pretty sure that's not the case. So short of shoving a bottle of YooHoo* in his face, I'm at a loss. Suggestions?

*I know YooHoo is not milk. But I did not know that YooHoo is a social network. Did you? Should we all join?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tiny Mime

Fun fact: Homemade costumes are in my blood. It will take a hell of a lot for me to not piece together a costume for my kids.That's not to say that I don't love a cute store-bought costume. I might have considered a certain airplane get-up from Target as backup.

Fun fact: Last year I wanted to dress Gabe up as a "French Man", you know, curly mustache, baguette, the whole shebang. But I picked Mr. Peanut instead.  This year, I couldn't get the French Man outfit out of my head...which obviously led to this, a mime.

Fun fact: I assumed the makeup process would be the most annoying part of getting this costume to work. Turns out, the kid hated the beret. Can't imagine why. What man about town doesn't appreciate a good beret?  

Fun fact: Catching pale as a ghost Gabe out of the corner of my eye really freaked me out.

Fun fact: This kid is awesome

Fun fact: I did not dress my baby up as a bumblebee or a prisoner.

Fun fact: Gabe's 1st official Trick-or-Treating went pretty darn good.

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