Oreo Mission

I drag my kids to the grocery store all of the time, especially Vivian who is not in school. Buying food each week goes with the territory of being at home with the kids. Lately I have been sick of the grocery store. Shopping and decision-making has felt like a chore because I have been in a food rut. Going up and down the same aisles, buying and cooking the same meals. Blah. Blah.

Over the weekend I decided to make a change, and I pulled a recipe from my recipe box. I felt a little better while I shopped on Sunday afternoon. I pushed the overloaded, heavy cart to the check-out without as much loathing because of the new ingredients I placed on the conveyor belt. The chicken and basil and penne pasta and sun-dried tomato dressing lifted my spirits. The promise of a new meal in the lineup.

This afternoon after picking up Vivian from a friend’s house, I asked her what she’d like to do before it was time to pick up Lance from school. She said, “I’d like to stop at Wegman’s and buy Oreos.” I hesitated because this request was out of the blue and something I have never done. And then I thought, Why yes let’s stop at Wegman’s and buy Oreos. “And milk,” she added and started singing, Milk and cookies, milk and cookies yummy in my tummy, an old Kindermusik ballad.

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Refrigerator

The refrigerator was empty.

Before that there was options for meals in the cabinets and freezer.

Before that there was also bread, deli meat, cheese, and the promise of a sandwich.

Before that there was also a tomato to slice.

Before that there was also apples and carrots sticks for the kids to snack on.

Before that there was also a carton of milk and eggs to cook with.

Before that there was also lettuce, cucumber, and a yellow pepper to make a salad.

Before that there was also pepperoni and a package of mozzarella cheese to make a pizza.

Before that there was also a pound of ground beef and whole wheat tortillas to make burritos.

Before that there was also blueberries and strawberries to eat on cereal.

Before that there was also V-8 and orange juice to drink.

Before that there was also yogurt to pack for lunch.

Before that there was also bagels and pita bread.

Before that there was also a pork tenderloin to cook for the family.

Before that there was kitchen filled with possibilities.

Before that He asked her when She was going to the store.

Thankful: Aunts, uncles, and all the fixin’s

During these last few days leading up to Thanksgiving I go into full-fledged count-my-blessings mode. I try to slow down and pay attention to the many wonderful people and experiences that make up my life. The simple signs of beauty and grace that are there when I take time stop and look around. Yesterday at (Ascension Lutheran) church, I remembered that it was the last Sunday of the church year. For this reason I get extremely aggravated by signs of Christmas before we officially reach the First Sunday in Advent.

I’ll admit I cheated last week and listened to O Holy Night on the radio (once) before changing the station, and I already bought two Christmas gifts. And okay, I have been secretly working on molding my Christmas shopping list, but I try my darndest to look the other way at all things Christmas until after this special time of thanks has passed. Oh all right fine – last confession – I already let my kids (gasp) sit on Santa’s lap for one minuscule moment of opportunity.

BUT.

By and large I harness my reindeer until after I’ve celebrated properly with a Thanksgiving feast surrounded by family and purposeful acknowledgement of blessings. Every year I feel like I am fighting a losing battle with majority – just go into any department store, big-box store, grocery store, or any neighborhood and you will find pictures of red bows, Christmas sale signs, decorations, trees, lights, and I bet you might even run into Santa Claus himself. I did.

This week I can only make decisions for myself and my family on how we approach Thanksgiving and our decision to silent our wish lists until December. There are so many things I am thankful for in my life. I agree with the importance of being thankful everyday of the year, but I still enjoy this special Thursday in November when families in America gather round the table and savor the tastes of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casseroles, and more until we are full to the point of needing an immediate nap in front of a TV streaming NFL games. Or better yet maybe a leisure walk outside in the blustering fresh air with family. Then later gather round the same table one more time for pumpkin pie and far too many other desserts. The night might end with wild children, loud and happy adults after too much wine, a house full of warmth, and possible musical entertainment.

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This is not a public service announcement, but…  To all who wear the red, white, and blue: Gather round with whoever is at your table on Thursday. Catch up on life and celebrate relationships no matter how crazy, dysfunctional, happy, sad, funny, or frustrating your relatives and friends might be. Thanksgiving is a specific day to, well, give thanks. So turn off your Christmas lights for another four days. Four days, people.

I am thankful…

For healthy, sleeping children after a long day of growth and play…

No doubt dreaming of his Christmas wish list.

I can only hope he is not dreaming of his Christmas wish list.

Processing newfound tricks and sensory information. It's all quite a bit to take in really.

Processing newfound tricks, sights, and sounds from the busy world that surrounds my baby.

For the ability to write and the freedom of self-expression. Everyone has a dream. Right? Write! My dream has always been to become a writer. I am thankful for my kids who have given me the bravery to write and share my life because they are something that fill me with courage and love. The kind of love I want to share. The kind of love I am not ashamed of. The kind of love that only children can infect those around them with.

My mom...

Thankful for my Mom who continues to take pictures of me so I don’t always look like an absent Mama in my family albums because I am behind the camera.

For aunts and uncles who have always believed in me. All of them, even the one too early departed. I can confidently share that all my aunts and uncles are aware of my deep interest in writing. They read my blog and follow when they have time to catch up on the banter.

Last Friday we had a special visit from my Aunt Claire and Uncle Rick. I saw them regularly growing up and when I lived in Florida, but over the last several years our get-togethers have become far too infrequent because of the miles that separate us. Nonetheless they are always there for me in a less literal version of closeness. Or like on Friday when they were here in the flesh!

Uncle Rick and Aunt Claire

Uncle Rick and Aunt Claire, who happen to be my Godparents.

For Grandparents.

Great-grandpa to my kids.

Great-grandpa to my kids.

For Dad’s. My own and my children’s, neither of which care to be mentioned too often on my blog 🙂

For Mom’s. All of them.

For cousins and second cousins.

For son’s and the silly things they say. In the last week I’ve learned that “Engine Noodle” really means Ninja Turtle and “thermometer” actually means harmonica in Lance’s world.

For daughter’s and the new skills they learn. Like Vivian crawling under tables or toward me with eager, loving eyes meant only for my gaze.

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Why yes, I believe that is dust under my coffee table. I’m quite  thankful for it, really.

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For friends.

For pugs and other members of the animal kingdom.

For health.

For trees.

For bologna sandwiches.

For almonds.

For microwaves.

For Bob Dylan.

For pencils.

For Downton Abbey.

You get the point, right? I’m a little thankful, and a whole lot loony today.

Oh wait, that’s everyday.

In order to really appreciate this holiday season (Thanksgiving first and Christmas second, lest I haven’t been clear), for the next few months I might blog and picture-take less. I might run less. I might move so quickly from activity to activity less. I might travel less. I might say yes to social engagements less. I might use the computer less.

On the other hand, I might cook more. I might read more (library books). I might rest more. I might watch old movies more. I might journal more.

I don’t have a third hand, but I will pretend I do for the sake of practicing what I preach to Lance about the fun of pretending. So if I did have a third hand I would say I might not to all of the above. I just hate tying myself down, ya know?

Good, I thought so.

One thing is for sure though. For the rest of the week, and especially on Thursday, I will look away from all things red/green and from those far-too-festive, for my taste, souls.

Now then. It’s time to turn my grumble, grumbles in GOBBLE, GOBBLES with a side of bountiful blessings.

Dig in everyone.

Love, Us.

Love from Us.

Early afternoon shadow.

Love from our November afternoon shadows.

Thankfully yours,

The Banter Lady

Editor’s Note: I’d like to dedicate the word “fixin’s” in the title to all my southern friends.

Butternut Squash Soup

Greetings Readers!

I recently signed up for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) through BlogHer, a media company specialized in blogging and social media. Basically all this means is that I have to publish a blog post everyday throughout the month of October, except Saturday’s and Sunday’s. The theme this month is simply: FALL. I have no idea what blogging every day will be like, but I do know that every single time I write, I learn something new. I’m excited to see what it will be this month. Now come on everybody, FALLow along with me!

Britta’s Banter is not a food blog and I do not normally give recipes, but the last two Friday’s this month have, by chance, involved food so I thought I’d follow suit today. This is the last Friday in NaBloPoMo making it even more prominent to talk about food!

One of my favorite soup recipes in the fall and around Thanksgiving is Butternut Squash Soup. Fall is the only time I make it, and this recipe is one of only three soups that I make on a whole. Yeah. The recipe is pretty special.

I haven’t made it yet this fall, but it is on my dinner agenda for next week. It’s a vegetable heavy, slightly creamy soup that goes well with a hunk of warm, crusty bread. The great thing about it, too, is that I always have room for dessert later in the night because it is not a heavy meal.

Now for the recipe.

Butter Squash Soup

Ingredients:

2T butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 stack celery, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

2 medium potatoes, cubed (thought I was going to say chopped, didn’t ya?)

1/2 c. milk or half and half (I always use half and half. Duh).

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

32 oz. of chicken stock

salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a large pot and cook the onion, celery, carrot, potatoes, and squash for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

2. Pour in enough of the chicken stock to cover vegetables.

3. Bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 40 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

5. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor (once cooled), and blend until smooth.

6. Return to pot and mix in any remaining stock, milk, or half and half to obtain desired consistency.

7. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Serve hot with crusty bread.

That’s all there is to it!

I’m not sure where this recipe originated, but it is pretty simple since even I can make it. I love making this soup when it’s dark and cold outside because my kitchen gets all nice and warm.

I’d love to share a picture with you, but since I haven’t made it yet this year, and I STILL cannot find my memory card (grrr)… you’ll just have to imagine how wonderful it looks and tastes!

I guess I will take it as a sign from the universe not to include a picture today… but if I don’t find said memory card by next week, screw the universe – I’m replacing the darn thing. I’m a picture-taker and I blogger and I need my memory card!

Ok, ok, I won’t take away the deliciousness of this recipe with a rant. [Swearing under my breath].

Happy weekend.

Make it a good one!

xo,

The Banter Lady

To read yesterday’s post click here: These shorter, darker days

Apple smiles

Greetings Readers!

I recently signed up for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) through BlogHer, a media company specialized in blogging and social media. Basically all this means is that I have to publish a blog post everyday throughout the month of October, except Saturday’s and Sunday’s. The theme this month is simply: FALL. I have no idea what blogging every day will be like, but I do know that every single time I write, I learn something new. I’m excited to see what it will be this month. Now come on everybody, FALLow along with me!

Need a fun fall snack for the kiddos?

Make them apple smiles!

Just look at those smiles!

Just look at those matching smiles.

Say cheese.

Say cheese.

I think I'll eat this.

I think I’ll eat this.

Incoming!

Incoming!

___

Sticky, gooey goodness.

Thank you to the book Curious George Apple Harvest for giving us the idea. This was a great snack and one that Lance helped make.

All you need is:

2 sliced red apples

peanut butter or cream cheese

mini marshmallows

Put it all together (as shown) and voilà! You’ve got yourself a fun and healthy, yet kid-friendly afternoon snack.

May your weekend be filled with SMILES.

xo,

The Banter Lady

To read yesterday’s post click here: Fall photo

Pumpkin face brownie

Today’s post is a reblog from last October that’s been gaining momentum on Pinterest.
Pumpkin face brownie – bake, frost, and decorate to create this festive fall treat. Great Halloween dessert for kids!

Happy baking… and pinning this Halloween. Have a wonderful weekend. I hope you get to jump in a pile of leaves.

Britta's Banter

When I was growing up, my mom used to make what I like to call a “pumpkin face brownie” every Halloween and/or Thanksgiving. As I got older, I became fond of this tradition and even loved to help create the brownie through the years. When I got even older and moved into my own place and had a huge Halloween party one year, my roommate and I knew we needed to serve something other than keg-beer. Good ole pumpkin face brownie to the rescue. Now as a Mommy (let’s leave the even older part out this time), this morning I found myself making this classic with my little boy to take to a family Halloween party tomorrow night.

Not sure where my mom got the recipe idea, I googled for “pumpkin face brownie” and did a search on Pinterest for “pumpkin brownie” and all it did was make me hungry…

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Last night I went on a recipe cutting binge. It all started with a picture of mustard turkey burgers on the cover of Whole Living Magazine. From there I clipped out recipes for whole-grain waffles with sliced strawberries and yogurt… and then sautéed chicken with spinach, garlic, and pine nuts. As my grocery list got a little bit longer, and my mouth watered I got excited about these new recipes… all of which I intend to make in the next week.

Today as I am still salivating I came across this post from WordPress about 7 Food Blogs to follow this summer. Although you will never find recipes on my site b/c I am not a food blogger, I DO love to eat, and when I am in the mood, cook! Evidently I am in the mood.
So as we roll in to Memorial Day weekend I am sharing the wealth (and calories) with all my lucky readers. I know many of you love to cook and are savvy in the kitchen, so enjoy perusing these food blogs.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Let me know if you come across any delish recipes. And please share!

Grillin’ and chillin’ this weekend,
The Banter Lady

The WordPress.com Blog

With the official first day of summer right around the corner, now is a great time to start collecting recipes for your favorite warm-weather treats.

You’ll find endless inspiration by browsing through topics like recipe, grilling, and summer in the WordPress.com Reader, and discover tons of great ideas by exploring our collection of recommended food blogs.

Here are seven mouthwatering recipes from a handful of fantastic blogs that are sure to delight all summer long:

The Patterned Plate


We Call Him Yes! Chef!


The Faux Martha


In Pursuit of More


Just Homemade


Love + Cupcakes


The Craving Chronicles

Do you have an all-time favorite summer recipe? What new recipes do you hope to try out this season?

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