Thursday, June 27, 2013

Theme Thursday: Black and White

Joining Cari and the gang for this weeks theme: Black and White

Here's how comical my life can be at times. 
Robert: What's this weeks theme Thursday?
Me: Black and White 
R: Why's everything gotta be about color?
M: Because, I ain't Paula Dean. I is what I is.** 
Funny? No? Too soon? Oh well. True conversation, thought I would share. 

On the rare occasion that all the kids go to bed in a timely fashion or at least the girls and our son isn't too needy, Robert and I get "alone time". During this cherished time we either watch a show together or do a "spousal project"; either way it usually contains a night cap of the cocktail sort, good conversation, and a chance to reconnect as husband and wife. We are learning that our time can NOT be black or white, all or nothing. There is a lot of grey; give and take, especially with children. So, we try really really hard to make the best of our time. 

Here are some of our projects:
Kids playroom 
I made the shadow boxes, picked out the frames and pictures and Robert did the detail work of hanging them. He insisted on measuring out everything to insure the proper spacing and alignment; whereas I would have winged it. He's a mathematical genius, subtracting and dividing fractions/mixed numbers all in his head, quickly and with precision.

The Singing Butlers
Sweet Shop
Puzzles are a new love for us. The Singing Butlers is my favorite. I just love that print and one day I will have a real one.
Home made pin board
Another weakness of mine is fabric. All the beautiful colors and textures. I wish I could sew but we might end up broke. This was a great project because I got to shop for fabric, and Robert used his mathematical skills to space the ribbon and affixed it with the upholstery pins. We work together with the exception of in the kitchen. 

I grew up knowing who this guy is. My dad was once a photographer in the making before he turned his attention to computer science. But the love for black and white photography lived within him and I think that is were my passion came from.
The great Ansel Adams

Now I'll leave you with the** King of Pop... who coincidentally passed away 4 years ago this week. 
MJ's Black or White

Go check out some real Black and White photography over at Clan Donaldson

** I am indifferent to Paula Dean and I only like some of MJ's songs... gasp! I know. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mystery Ingredient Monday #4

Last week Anne's MI was: Jalapenos   

Now, we always have a jar of jalapenos in the fridge along with a bottle of Franks' Red Hot and a shelf dedicated to an assortment of cheeses and another just for an assortment of mustards. Why do you ask? Because it was placed in our verbal Nuptial agreement. And because Robert likes all things SPIIIICCCCYYYY and tangy and interesting. That's why he married me. The rest of The Clan are not spicy food eaters and the girls think anything they don't like is called spicy. So we hear A. Lot. Of. "This is spicy". Code for: "I don't like it an I'm not gonna eat it". In short, I was perplexed. What was I going to make that wouldn't go to waste?
The Ultimate Steakhouse Burger (adapted. cuz that's how we haf'da roll)
Cooks Country June/July 2005

We like this burger recipe because it eliminates the dry-crumbliness from a home grilled burger and replaces it with a juicy cohesive burger. What helps make this burger so much better than just meat thrown on a grill is bacon grease (of course!), bread, and milk...surprise. OH, and Jalapenos, but only in a few burgers.  
Finished: Jalapeno burger
Ultimate Steakhouse burger Ingredients:
8 Strips of bacon
3 TBS bacon fat
1-2 slices white sandwich bread, crust removed and discarded, remaining bread cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1C)
1/4 C milk
1 1/2 LBS ground beef (you want 85-90% lean with the added fat from the bacon, 80% will be too greasy)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
*(recipe calls for 2 large garlic gloves mined, we don't add- the favor didn't jive well for us. Feel free to do what you want)
** (Our additions) 1 Jalapenos diced 
(We have added chunks of cheddar in the past. You can be creative and add different cheeses)

1. Fry bacon in large skillet until crisp, place on paper towel lined plate,  Spoon 3TBS of fat into bowl and reserve
2. Place bread in small bowl (we divided these ingredients into 2 bowls so one was spice and the other was plain) add milk and let mixture sit until saturated, about 5 min. Using fork, mash bread and milk until it forms a smooth paste. Break up beef into. Season with salt and pepper (here is where you add garlic if you want) and reserved bacon fat. Using hands, lightly knead together so that ingredients are well incorporated. Divide meat and make patties. 
3. Oil cooking grates and grill burgers over very hot flame. 

We have found lining a bowl with foil is easier and less messy clean up and disregard of grease once its congealed 

Mommy's helper
Fry up some chopped Jalapenos
Added all the ingredients to bowl for mixing
We couldn't allow the extra JalapeƱo to go to waste, so Robert made these fine dishes:

Green Chili Sourdough Omelet
(From the cookbook: At Home with the Range Cafe)
Breakfast for a crowd of O'Brien brothers!

Chimichurri Sauce

Flat Iron steak with Chimichurri sauce, cheese rissoto, and green beens

Looking forward to seeing what you all cooked up with your Jalapenos or as one of my BIL's would say; (Ja - lap - enos) because say'n it out loud like that helps him remember how to spell it. - The little things. (If you want to play along but don't have a blog, instagram or tweet it #mysteryingredient, or tag us in a facebook post about your dish so we can marvel your creativity.) 
Head over to Jessica to see how Jalapenos spiced up her life and look for this weeks Mystery Ingredient.
I hope Anne was able to stomach her Jalapeno choice. Let's go see. While you are there, join me and Congratulate  her and Mark on their fantastic news. Spread their story, it's triumphant!
As Alway, Go forth and be inspired!
See you next week.
Email or comment if you would like the Chimichurri sauce or the breakfast omelet recipes.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Theme Thursday: Water

Joining the FUN with Cari and the gang for another round of themes.

"Water.,Water, Everywhere. Water near and far. Let's use our hands and feet to count how many kinds there are." 
Part of a this book. It's one of our favorites. Yes, I have no shame; this book is memorized. 

Seriously, Water is the most amazing chemical compound ever. Am I the only one to marvel over water and how it's necessary to our existence and how many functions it has? From the percentage of water to land on Earth, to the droplets of water running off ones head at baptism, to the soaked swimsuits after a day of play, it knows no bound. It's key and sometimes a catastrophic mess. Like when your 10 month old thinks the running bath water is for him and he stands on tip toes to reach the said running water and drenches himself in the process. Or, when the toddler of the house is learning how the toilet works and said toddler over flows the toilet so water dains to unwanted areas. (Or, this one time at band camp...just kidding) I know we all have those kinds of stories, so let's revel in the finer joys of water. 

I had the great pleasure of witnessing my BFF (since middle school) daughters' Baptism on Sunday. 

My BFF and her baby girl. I love the droplets of baptismal water!

Sin is washed away and the pathway to other sacraments are laid. It's a beautiful moment. 

Later in the day, my lazy self pulled out the sprinkler, instead of the ultra cool pool that needed to be re-blown up and filled with water so the girls could play. AND, play they did.
Marie and Elise 
I know it's beach toys and we don't have a beach, but they are okay with that. All purposes intended, they had a good time. 

I slacked this week, I know. My plan was to do this really stellar parallelism about water and baptism and life but life happened and my writing is VERY limited. We have one computer in the house, which is in the living room and anytime I use it, the kids take the opportunity to invade the small territory known as MY LAP. Since I'm a lover not a fighter...I don't bother leading them into the temptation.

GoGoGO! Check out Clan Donaldson  and see what Cari and the others did for this weeks round of Themes. Dying to know what next month will bring. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mystery Ingredient Monday#3

Welcome to Mystery Ingredient Monday (MIM)

My Neighbor grows Mint in her yard and I can have some. BEST. NEIGHBOR. EVER!
 Last week I thought I was going to give you all something totally unexpected by choosing Mint, but I guess I'm just an ordinary girl. (Anne is choosing this weeks Mystery Ingredient, MI. Click here or here or here to visit her blog and get in on MIM! I'm so excited to discover what it is)

My one weakness in life is a stupendous  pedicure. I don't have time to keep up with a foot beautifying routine so I drive over to my favorite local Mani/Pedi salon. I go about once every 2-3 months. They always remember me, ask about my kids, if I don't have them with me, take great care of them if I do. And they have a statue of Mary in their salon. Winning!

Now for some Mint

Mint aromatherapy was in my foot basin..
Yea. You probably didn't want to see the blue colored mint foot basin.
The girls got a mini mani: picked their own color 
Marie's choice was gold... Maybe she was channelling her inner King Midas. I don't know?

Elise picked a more refined pink or  as Baby J would say "peent".

I ventured for something a bit summery with a wild orange... Cajun Shrimp per the OPI label. (Their polish names are so fun)
My youngest sister in law came a long and choose this blue. Unfortunately I forgot what it was called so, I'm going with Mrs. Peacock. 

Let's talk Mojito's; they're my one true weekness. I crave them every summer.

A phenomenal Mojito is so refreshing on hot sticky days here in the Lou. After some practice we (Robert and I) have come up with the prefect Mojito with a not-so-secret-secret ingredient that I will share with you.

A Clan's Tale Mojito 
(Pitcher Serves 8-10)

20 Fresh Mint Leaves
1 tsp Lime juice
2 Cups Rum
1/4 C homemade simple Mint syrup (secret ingredient)
36oz Club soda or tonic water
3 limes (squeezed and juice reserved) 

Mint Simple Syrup
5 Fresh Mint Leaves
1C water
1C sugar

Directions: Mint Simple Syrup
Add sugar and water to pot and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pull it off heat and add Mint and allow to cool. 
*since you only need about 1/4C of the syrup, refrigerate the rest and use for individual mojito's through the week. 

Directions: Mojito
Muddle 20 Mint leaves and 1 tsp of lime juice in a small container until mint is bruised and starts to excrete it's flavor. Add leaves and juices to a pitcher. Add Rum, simple syrup, club soda, and all remaining lime juice from the three limes. Mix, serve over ice and ENJOY! 

Looking forward to seeing what you came up with. Leave a comment below so I can check your blog since I didn't set up the inlikz, sorry. 
Now off to Anne and Jessica to see their Mint concoctions as well as the new MI. Let us go fourth and be inspired! See you next week at Annes' blog. Also, thanks for the prayers for my MIL's surgery. It went well but she has a long recovery, keep her in your prayers.

If you want to play along but don't have a blog, instagram or tweet it #mysteryingredient, or tag us in a facebook post about your dish so we can marvel your creativity! (Yup, I too yanked this from Anne's site.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Theme Thursday Dad

Joining Cari for this weeks Theme Thursday: Dad

Me and my dad 
He is a hard working man with integrity and honor. A father to three of the loveliest girls a man could ever have the pleasure of not paying a dowry for in order to gain three equally awesome son-in-laws. Let me not forget my poor brother, who had three sisters to deal with. Yes, it was my father and brother and all that estrogen. 
My dad and Papa Smurf 1983

Even now, my dad is the "Papa" to 6 grandchildren and wouldn't you know it. Only one of them is a boy and he's mine, unless my older sister breaks my monopoly when she has her babe in December???
At least all the estrogen isn't in his house 24/7...

All the grandkids are smitten with their Papa and who couldn't blame them with his charm and belly laugh that rivals Good Ole Saint Nick? His jolly man is a wonderful father and grandfather who has learned the virtue of patience and still has a full head of dark hair! I don't know how he did it, but I'm so glad he did. 

Now for a few adoring snap shots of my dad and my kids...You can see the love he has.
Robert IV
 Chasing Helping Elise find eggs
Teaching Marie how to navigate the pumpkin patch
Go link up with Cari and friends or at least go check out some amazing dads!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mystery Ingredient Monday #2

I'm feel'n SUPER FLY!! (said with all kinds of swank and swagger that I don't possess) that this little-O-blog has recieved some attention from some BIG-O-bloggers. I will attribute it to my much more suave SIL's whom are literature extraordinaires. Thank you for helping this random idea become successful.
Last week Jessica kicked off the Mystery Ingredient Monday (MIM) with her choice of Cherries.
This week is my choice, so at the end of this post you will find our new Mystery Ingredient (MI).


I used these. Whole dried tart cherries

Robert has a keenness for cherries and since fresh ones aren't in season all year long, we buy the dried to get him through the other 9 months of the year. They are plump even though they're dried and have a sweetness to complement their tang. Usually we eat them out of the bag, by the handful like the primates we are... Yes, we have opposable thumbs.
I thought I would spice things up a bit. I have an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe that calls for coffee and pretzels, I figured adding cherries would bring a whole new level of YUM. So, I went with it. Robert did all my prep while I nursed the huge babe I birthed so he would be content while I played baker with the girls. 

Look how all the ingredients are showcased so beautifully. 
Boy oh boy does this photo come back to bite me in the-you-know-what!
My intent was to show the importance of prepping your ingredients, especially if you have children who want to help. Doesn't it look like I know what I'm doing? HA! Just wait...

Here's our end result. 
Good news. They taste great. 
Bad news.
1. They are a bit rubbery chewier than I like.
2. They aren't as fluffy as they should be.
3. You see the 2 WHOLE sticks of butter in the previous picture...
Yea. That didn't get prepped.
Soooo, the recipe calls for 14 Tablespoons of butter not 16 and well, since I thought all the ingredients were prepped, I didn't bother to double check the ingredient list. Also, I pulled the butter out and placed it on the counter so Robert thought I was going to prep it. Nope, sure didn't. I just started following the directions. Yup, I added all 16 Tablespoons of butter. Whoops! This is why I don't usually bake or cook. But hey, I thought I would be genuine and share my mistake, because well, you live and you learn. And humility helps us grow in virtue. Am I Right. Plus it does showcase the importance of prepping. 


Added bonus to this post curtsey of my husband and his mother, who both, decided to play along. A family that bakes together... Shares a lot of L O V E. Love. 

My Mother-In-Laws' entry
Jessica submitted this fun Cherry Clafoutis recipe last Monday when she announced Cherries as her MI. My Mother-In-Law equipped with her savvy William Sanoma Cherry Pitter  and some family friends gathered around and went to work on this fabulous dessert! I promise you. It was divine! 

My Husbands' entry
Because all the O'Brien's have a healthy sense of competitions. Robert had to throw down too. Well in reality he was baking it for the Catholicism DVD series we take part of once a month; it just happened to fall on this Sunday and he just happened to uses Cherries. Okay, okay, okay... He made other things for it too. But still. 
His recipe is from the April/May 2010 Cooks Country magazine.
 Titled: Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake.
I know, it even looks prettier than mine. Whatever.
Oh.My.Goodness! I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life but that sure won't help me shed the extra baby weight I'm still lugging. The great and all powerful, almighty, Culinary-Extraodinair, himself had a bit of difficulty with this recipe. This MIM has caused him to seek new heights. He has never worked with almond paste before, so that proved to be a challenge causing him to remake the cake.
He also warned that the recipe is written convoluted. The streusel and cake ingredients are combined in the list of ingredients; it's not until you read the directions you are instructed to separate certain ingredients. It was a lot of work, tasted awesome, but ultimately, a lot of work. 

If you would like me to post the cookie or coffe cake recipe, comment below or send me an email. I'll be happy to hook you up! Hope your endeavor was as eventful. Go link up with Jessica so we can see what you came up with. 

Now, I'm off to see what Jessica and Anne whipped up with Cherries

Stay tuned for next weeks post on what we did with... MINT! Yes, MINT. That is my MI choice this week. Feel free to play along. I'll host the link up next week, so see you back here on Monday. Go fourth and be inspired!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Theme Thursday: Girls-Roll'n in the deep (thoughts)

Linking up with Cari at Clan Donaldson for this weeks Theme Thursday:
Girls! I.Love.My.Girls!
They are high octane from the moment their beautiful eyes open in the morning until they close for the night. They love passionately and do their best to test their boundaries. They play tea party while slaying the bad guys with their bow and arrows. They talk incessantly, screech the loudest, and want more than anything to grow up to be my mini-me's.    

Here's a true story for ya:
Tuesday I had one of those self depricating afternoons were I felt like a failure of a mother and disciplinarian. After the second time Marie stormed into my bedroom while nursing the babe (who was up every 15 min the night before and had not napped yet, due to equal parts Wicked-Loud sisters and teething) I almost lost it. 
Marie's first gust of wind into my Oasis was to inform me she placed her arrow on Elise's head, on purpose. (Bow and arrows, confiscated)
Her second gust tore through my door with such violence I thought the whole frame was going to unhinge from the walls. What was that urgent? She proceeded to tell me how she poked Elise in the forehead with the tip of a colored pencil. 
Really? REALLY?
"Go to your room" I boomed! 
As I slowly gave up on the fact the babe was not going to drift off to Never Land, I pondered what could be going on with her. Why was she suddenly a glutton for punishment? Why is she being so mean to her sister, teasing her and blatantly disobeying; then telling me her offense. Does she want to be punished? Does she need more attention? Am I being rude and snide to her? All these thoughts and more raced through my head. There has to be a root cause. I know she's only 4 1/2 but she is so much more mature than that. It's hard to think she doesn't really have a grasp of her actions.
Where am I failing her. She doesn't have too many outside influences (and those she does have are amazing) so, this has to be here, in the home.
The train of thought began to unfold to something bigger. WE, as women (generalizing) can be so nurturing and loving but have so much snark and attitude! It's like an innate ability. Born with it. Done. Learn to live with it. Or, overcome it.
While I wondered in great anger what to say that would help her realize her ruthlessness and flippant attitude was not acceptable, I became aware of the security she felt to be able to confide in me even though she knew she did something wrong. This trust I knew needed to be fostered; my over-reaction could weaken that bond of trust I worked from birth to form with her. I want to keep it intact for when she ventures out into the world beyond our front door. Mentally: "What do I say? Keep it simple and state the truth."
I calmly went to her room where she sat on her bed playing. I sat down next to her and with all the love and conviction I could manage in my voice, I tried my best to convey how proud I was she came to me when she did something wrong but her behavior was unacceptable. I expressed, as I always have, SHE is NOT bad, her actions and decisions are bad.

Later that evening, Robert and I had a chance to discuss the overly dramatic text he received that read a little something like "I wouldn't come home if I were you", sent during that time of chaos (the crying babe and screaming toddlers and sleep deprived wife). He reminded me that our girls aspire to be like me; Marie always says how she wants to grow up, go to school, get married, and become a mom.
Still feeling like a failure, I asked Robert if I am someone to be proud of? Am I selling my self short because I don't have a ton of accomplishments on my resume? Am I serving others in my vocation as I have been called to? I know it sounds self indulgent but when you are entrusted to raise the children The Lord has blessed you with to be His loving handmaidens; you wonder at times if you're good enough. 

His response was money baby! They are words he has spoken in the past, but like a good homily, you thirst to be reminded.

"You will be remembered in 100 years. Not because you have a list of self-fulfilling accomplishments that are probably just a disguise for a lack of purpose and happiness in your life but because there is NOTHING more difficult, more rewarding, and more accomplishing than raising our children. It will be YOU our great-grandchildren will talk about while making Margaret's Rolls.
You have goals; To get to heaven. Help those around you get to heaven. Raise our children to be the next generation of loving, inspirational, hard working, self confident, God loving adults. You're doing a great job. Every time they show compassion, every time they genuflect, every time they make the sign of the cross, they pray, they sing and dance with joy, they learn something new...All those times are because of you. They want to be a mom because of your example"!

He's right. Mothers' (generalizing again) give selflessly to their family. And it is so important to impress upon our younglings the joys and humility that comes with our vocation. Our every action and word is hung out there in all its vulnerability and glory for them to see. The good examples we set for them will nurture their growth into confident women, ones we will be proud of. So, I will continue to torment myself with their every action and pray I do the right thing. I'll read books to help me navigate these unchartered territories, I'll listen intently to others experiences and advice. I'll rely heavily on God's graces to help me form His children into exemplary women who will know their roles and vocation  will be every bit as rewarding, satisfying, and glorious as mine.
I am enough! You are enough! And.They.Are.So.Worth.It!

I keep thinking of the lyrics to John Mayers' Daughters:
"...Girls become lovers, who turn into Mothers, so Mothers be good to your daughters too"

Mother's in the making

Marie holding Robert IV
Elise holding Robert IV

There is nothing like witnessing your daughters love! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mystery Ingredient Monday #1

Welcome to Mystery Ingredient Monday or MIM. Since the web is full of acronyms, I'll add one more into the mix. (Pun intended)

How it works:
Kinda like Iron Chef
Each Monday a Mystery Ingredient will be announced by one of the three blogging sista's (JessicaAnne, and myself). The following Monday we will blog about our creative endeavor, so, make sure you're following these blogs:HousewifespiceThe Bazin Chronicles, and A Clan's Tale. At the end of our post, the next sista will announce the following weeks Mystery Ingredient. We will take turns and invite you to play along with us. No rules. Seriously! We would just break them. You can be as creative and innovative as you wish. Or, keep it simple and fun. Maybe instead of using the ingredient for consumption, you use it in arts and crafts. Whatever goes. We're pretty laid back and roll with the flow.

Let us go forth and be inspired! Off to Housewifespice for the first Mystery Ingredient.

Leave a comment on any of our blogs if you would like to participate.