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July 29, 2012

Not Your Average Cupcake

Alright friends, this foodie post can't wait til Friday. It's that good. J-dubs could not stop raving about it the entire time we were eating and even high-fived me at the dinner table. Are you ready? Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes. Bam. We're big on sack lunches in this family, so I love a dinner that is cheap and can be stretched for multiple days. Individual servings? Even better.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and am so glad I re-pinned it. The original link is here.

This is the result:

Aren't they BEAUTIFUL? Pleasing to the eye and the tummy.

Two was enough for me and J-dubs ate three. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, but I have to admit that he was in a little bit of pain after they all settled in for the night. 

Now, I didn't have any "Herbs de Provence" so I used some sage, Italian seasoning, and basil. I also added a little bit of milk. I was afraid it would get too dry. It was a pretty fantastic recipe, but these are the changes I will make next time:
-  Garlic powder instead of garlic salt and low sodium cream of chicken soup. It was a bit salty for me.
- More chicken. This girl needs a healthy serving of protein.
- I used mostly buttermilk biscuits and a couple of "flaky layers". I only tried the buttermilk, but Jay tried both and he preferred the flaky layers. I'd go with your favorite biscuit. (Also, the recipe calls for 10 biscuits, but you can definitely get 12 out of it. Have extras on hand so the filling doesn't go to waste)
- Add some pepper to the mix. How could I have forgotten that? Rookie mistake.
- Put more filling in the cupcakes. I was worried they would overflow, so I erred on the side of caution. Next time I'll pump them up a bit more because they definitely settle once they cool. 

  Enjoy these beauties! I know I did!

July 28, 2012

Of rings and things

The summer Olympic games have officially started and so has my snarky commentary. I have many thoughts about the opening ceremonies, so I'll do my best to keep my opinions short-ish.

1) First off, let's just say that the meadow was beautiful. That pastoral scene with the giant tree was breathtaking. Two thumbs up to the set designer on that one.

2) Why in the world were there a bazillion people wandering around? No matter what part of the show we were at, there were large crowds of people everywhere. WHY? Personally I would have preferred a less cluttered English countryside, but maybe that's what the English countryside looked like and I'm just an ig'nant 'Merican. It's happened before.

3) Do they not have any sense of urgency? I mean, it's Friday night. Most people aren't rushing off to emergency meetings, but that doesn't mean I want to spend 30 minutes watching English peasants drag around AstroTurf. Let's get some hitch in that giddy up. I would have been much more impressed if things would have moved along at a quicker pace.

4) What was with that freaky nightmare scene? Those crawling monkey creatures with the neon eyes??? Really??? Does that foster the Olympic spirit? Cause it almost fostered the pee out of me.

5) I did really like the part where the glow in the dark butterflies rode around on bicycles. Those were pretty. I could have watched a 30 minute performance of some synchronized butterflyin'. That would have been something to marvel at. And then the E.T. butterfly bicycle? COOL.

6) Thank goodness the athletes know how to move. That parade of nations was quick! Well done international athletes, well done.

7) Let's all be thankful that I do not have supernatural powers, because if I did I would have reached through the TV and strangled the NBC commentators. In the words of J-dubs "LET IT BREATHE". Do you really have to talk con-stant-ly? Can you not just be quiet for two seconds and let us enjoy the spectacle of the giant baby? Just. Shut. Up. (This goes for the sporting events I've seen so far as well. The theme of jabbering seems to be what NBC is sticking with)

8) Seriously, giant baby? Wtf.

9) The torch was pretty cool. Each angelic little English kid carrying those copper petals and then putting them all together to form the torch was my favorite part. I really enjoyed the camera shot from inside the torch looking up at each individual tube/petal. The torch guy should get a high five today.

10) Lastly, the "independent Olympic athletes" by far stole the show. Those three kids were having the time of their lives. I wanted to watch an entire 4 hour parade of them! I have no idea who they are or what sport they compete in, but I would guess that their pastimes include being awesome, killer dance moves, and not giving a rat's patootie about behaving while on national television. I want to be friends with them. I want to invite them over for drinks. And nachos. I bet they love nachos.

Ok, this blog post is almost as long as the opening ceremonies. Time to end it. In conclusion I'd like to say "USA! USA! USA!".

July 27, 2012

Foodie Friday

Maybe I'll have one of those blogs with theme days... we'll see. For today though, it's Foodie Friday.

Last night I tried a new way of making a baked potato and it was YUM-O. I've been trying to find ways to cut a few calorie corners in our house, without making the Mr. feel like he's missing out. So when I saw this recipe, I knew we had to try it. Now I'm fully aware that it is NOT healthy and that butter, salt, and oil are not diet foods. However, when you eat a baked potato with sour cream, butter, cheese, and bacon like we do, this is a slightly lighter version.

It's called a "hasselback potato" and from what I can find, it's a Swedish cooking technique. What I liked about the recipe that I used was that it was simple and easy to adjust to my tastes. I see lots of possibilities for variations!

The recipe I "followed" was here.

Now, I only made one potato for J-dubs and I to split because I'm not too sure that these will reheat well, so I just eye-balled the amount of "i can't believe it's not butter" and oil. Also, I used pre-minced garlic instead of sliced and I had to cook mine at a lower temp because it was baking alongside some tasty chicken. I also decided to take the potato out halfway through cooking time and use a spoon to re-drizzle the oil/butter over the spud because it had pooled in the bottom of the pan. BUT, other than all of that... I followed the recipe. Hah. My potato wasn't exactly as crispy as I would have like, but it's the chicken's fault. What a jerk. (that would have been a much better joke if i was making jerk chicken, but I wasn't).

This potato was ah-mazing. We added no extra salt or butter and it was super tasty. J-dubs was wishing he had his own and didn't have to share. Too bad, so sad buddy. There was no way I was missing out on that deliciousness.

So, if you're looking for a new way to cook up a good spud, I give this recipe two thumbs up.

July 26, 2012

Something to Ponder

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel." - I really should have paid attention to who said that...

Regardless, it's a quote that made me go "hmmmmm". I think this statement is pretty true. I know I forget that we all go home to our own dirty laundry. What would it look like if we could see everyone's behind-the-scenes. Or maybe it would be more impactful to be able to judge ourselves by our own highlight reel.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Agree? Disagree? Don't care?

July 22, 2012

Greener Pastures

I went to get my hair cut a few weeks ago, which happens to be one of my favorite activities. I would get a haircut every week if I could afford it. I'm currently growing my hair out in order to donate it, so I'm limited to seeing my hairdresser about once every 4-6 months. NOT my idea of fun... but I digress...

When I sat down in her chair we were beginning to chat about life and catch up on the past 5 months (sigh) and as she was talking I began daydreaming about how wonderful it would be if my hair would do what her hair was doing. It was beautifully tousled and had this great shape. It was voluminous, but not frizzy. It was wavy, but controlled. About the time that I started feeling self conscious for staring at her, she started to play with my hair as we discussed what I wanted her to do. Then, from out of nowhere, she says "I wish my hair would do what your hair does". Um, WHAT? After the initial shock wore off, I explained to her that I was just dreaming about having her lovely style. We kind of stared at each other and laughed for a few seconds before going back to idle chit chat, but that moment hasn't left me.

In that moment I realized that it could be very possible that while you're coveting someones lovely button nose, they are in turn coveting your long sloping nose. While I'm aware that envy is a very real thing, I guess it never crossed my mind that it could pass between two people who were wishing for the identical thing on the other person. Don't get me wrong, I'm a girl, so I've spent many an afternoon at work having that conversation where you're saying "I wish I had your wavy hair" and they're saying "I wish I had your straight hair". Everyone knows that you always want what you don't have. That's not revolutionary.

What became revolutionary in my mind is that it just might be possible that we're all walking around wishing away the qualities about ourselves that someone else is wishing for.

It reminded me of a time in high school when I confessed to my best friend that I was so envious of her. I wanted her athletic ability and thick beautiful hair (hair is a theme of envy in my life). She was taken aback and confessed that in reality she had been similarly envious of me. It was another WHAT? moment. How could someone so cool want to be me?

This is what I'm learning as an adult: the grass only looks greener on the other side because you're looking at your own grass through cheap gas station sunglasses. We view ourselves with a blurry filter of self loathing and discontent, but when we look at our friends (or even strangers) we take that filter off. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe it's because we love our friends and only want to think the best of them. Maybe it's because we don't spend hours looking at our friends in the mirror and scrutinizing their every feature. Maybe it's just easier to believe good things about other people.

There is a part of me that believes that if we would all be honest with each other and speak openly about the things we admire in other people, we would collectively lift ourselves up. We could begin to form a more complete view of ourselves based on the feedback of our peers.

However, what I'm hoping for is the ability to assume that people think the best of me and therefore begin to think the best of myself. Instead of sitting and wishing away my every physical quality, I want to be able to be content with what I was given. After all, the very thing I'm wishing away could be someones favorite thing about me. See? Revolutionary.

July 21, 2012


I have always been a winter girl. I love scarfs, coats, layering, and snuggles. Is there anything better than a cold winter's night where you get into bed underneath a huge fluffy comforter and cuddle with your sweetie? I submit that there is not! (Especially if you have a belly full of comfort food and hot chocolate). I love watching snow fall and I get particularly excited when there is enough on the ground to go sledding or have a snowball fight. I have wonderful memories of moon-light walks through the snow with J-dubs in college. On one super romantic night we walked all the way to the old football stadium and ended up dancing in the snow. Are you rolling your eyes and barfing a little? We are particularly cringe inducing at times. Let's move on...

In recent years I have learned to have an appreciation for summer. It's still not my favorite time of year, but we have come to an understanding. I like watching my garden grow and the smell of something delicious on the grill. I enjoy a trip to the lake and I happen to be a champion camper. I can make an impressive meal on a camp stove and our s'mores are always made with PB cups instead of plain chocolate. Try it. You're welcome.

The thing I hate about summer is that it often feels like summer is out to get me. Last summer, after an incredibly fun camping trip, we found out that Manda happens to be super allergic to poison ivy and subsequently breaks out into an additional rash when given medicine to treat it. I would rather stay home forever than experience that again. Meanwhile, anytime I step outside our door it becomes open season for mosquitos on Manda's skin. Ten minutes outside sans bug repellant and I look like I have the chicken pox. (The only upside for you is that if you are with me when I'm outside, you wont get bit. Ever.) My pale white skin needs layer upon layer of sunscreen in order to not be angry and cripsy. Let's also not forget that summer's uniform requires us all to squeeze into bathing suits, shorts, and tank tops, none of which are a curvy girl's friend. Am I right?

In conclusion:
Summer means so many layers of bug spray and sunscreen that every dirt particle in the wind sticks to me, I break out into gross rashes, I'm squeezed into something inappropriately tight, AND on top of that mental image I'm sweating. Try to sleep tonight with that image floating around in your brain.

Can you blame me for looking forward to the gentle hug of winter?

July 18, 2012

A home of her own

In recent times, our ridgeback has learned this new trick.

So we've been formulating plans in order to curb this behavior. We've had lots of suggestions and have come to the conclusion that the solution has to be a combination of things.

Step One: figure out WHY Daphne feels the need to jump.  
Answer? She's scared. (We were able to confirm this theory by sending J-dubs into the front yard with fireworks) She will spend all day in the yard until something makes a loud noise and then it's adios backyard, hello freedom!
Solution? Make Daphne feel safe.

Ok, how do you make a dog feel safe? You give her somewhere safe to hide, of course! Brilliant! We have one doghouse sitting in the corner of the yard unused, but never felt the need to train the dogs to use it. I mean, they dug themselves a nice dirt pit to hang out in, and we were always able to keep them inside when it rained. Mistake made. In my defense, how do you train two dogs to use one dog house? Right? Right?

Unfortunately, the Dillons are financially burdened right now due to numerous unfortunate life events (see previous post) and are unable to purchase a second doghouse. I talked to my sister, like I always do when life gets complicated, and told her about my theories and about how our plan was to work on training two dogs to feel safe with ONE dog house until we could afford to buy a second one. I'm sure dogs have the ability to understand the complex concept of sharing.  

Fast forward a few days. I come home from work and there on my porch is a big box. The picture on the front? A beautiful dog house. I know what you're thinking, and you're right. My sister is AWESOME. She and Whatahusband had sent us a doghouse! J-dubs and I ate dinner as fast as we could and scrambled outside to start building.

Tools + Box = Mess

Mess + Effort = DOG HOUSE

Happiness is a surprise from your sister.

We introduced Daphne to her new Outback Cottage. She was less thrilled than we were, but after lots of coaxing (and maybe a little pushing) she was in!

And we can't leave out her brother, OP, who had no trouble conquering his hand-me-down doghouse.

It's going to take lots of training and time, but I have faith that Daphne will learn to love her cottage.

Stay tuned for "Step Two: create an impenetrable force-field like barrier in order to give Daphne no choice but to run to her cottage to hide because even though it's scary, it's slightly less scary than the force-field". Wish us luck.

This post is brought to you by my wonderful sister, without whom my life would be incomplete. She is my best friend, my confidant, and my trusted adviser. Lofa. 

July 15, 2012

Times, they are a-changin'

My supervisor recently sent out an email with that title. It immediately made my heart stop. My first thought was "more change??? really?". Thankfully, the email was an announcement regarding my new position at work (which is a positive change hopefully), but the phrase has stuck with me for days...

After a recent string of horrible luck following close behind a difficult season in life, I am done with change. It seems as if I'm continually walking on quicksand. What new thing will break today? What new pain awaits around the next corner? When will the floor drop out from underneath me? I'm continually waiting for the next bad thing and they just keep coming.

While I am thankful for our many blessings I cannot keep my heart from feeling like I am owed more. I'm feeling like my blessing card is scheduled to be punched and this punch is LATE.

I finally felt like life was going well. I felt comfortable and confident in my friendships. I was proud of my work and sure that I was integral to the work environment. My family was as stable as it could be. My marriage was happy and healthy.

Then friends began to journey through change and loss. My support system needed to be supported. I gladly jumped in and began cheering for job interviews and scheduling lunch dates. I wanted to be there for them. I wanted to be an important part of their lives. I didn't want to get left out.

Then my job changed unexpectedly. I was thrown into a dysfunctional situation, but persevered thinking that this new challenge would teach me to grow. I was hopeful that I would be stretched and be able to use this time to work on some of my less than favorable personality quirks.  I wanted to be recognized.

Then my family began to transition. We've faced sickness and uncertainty. We no longer function as a unit, but as individuals. So many family members are going through big life change. I have tried to hop on board and be supportive. I decided to figure out my new role in their changing lives. I didn't want to get left behind.

Then our healthy home began to fall apart. Progress we had made toward financial stability got set back. Things kept breaking or running away and hopes of starting a family soon were pushed back. Our relationship became one of co-workers and warriors. It was us against the destruction and we were losing. I wanted to be supported.

Things got messy. There have been tears most days and little to laugh about. I am carrying sorrow over many things. I've felt unimportant, overlooked, left behind, and unsupported. I feel defeated.

I keep looking at Jay and saying "I'm done. I've had enough."

I'm battling feeling terribly sad and alternately feeling guilty that I feel terribly sad. I know I'm not enjoyable to be around and I feel myself beginning to pull away, but I can't stop it. This is when the insecurity rears its ugly head and I begin to believe that I have no value. That my presence at work and in the lives of others makes no difference. While I know I'm being selfish and self-centered, the emotion will not leave. I keep telling myself that they are just lies. That my friends and family do care. That the blessings will cycle back around.

So I continue to wait. I'm waiting for this season of life to end. I'm waiting on the promise of change and hoping for good things. I'm hopeful that my friends and family will be blessed, as my heart hurts deeply for many of them. Mostly... I'm waiting on my heart to mature. I want to be the kind of woman who is able pour unending love and time into others and more importantly to do so without the insecure need to have it reciprocated or appreciated. I want to be able to face the challenges of life without falling apart. I want to be a blessing to others and not a burden. I want to feel deeply loved and valued.

After all, as much as I dread it, times they are a-changin' and so I will hope that I will be a-changin' too.