I think I’ve mentioned before that I get really excited about giving presents… I look forward to that more than I do my own birthday. It’s really important for me to pick something that is perfect for the recipient…And I experience a fair amount of anxiety while trying to come up with something.
A few months ago, I was driving home from town when our local classic rock station aired a commercial for upcoming summer concerts. I turned it up, hoping to catch the date of the Dave show. Instead, I heard that Steve Miller and Journey were coming to town on June 28th, two days after The BF’s birthday. I couldn’t believe my incredible luck…There would be no attempts to drag ideas out of him this year (he is the hardest person to buy for), no stress at all. His present practically fell into my lap. Hallelujah!
So two days later, I’m still super proud of myself. I think that may have been the best gift I’ve ever given someone.
Before the show, we stopped at The Copper Still for dinner…where we had the best fried pickles I’ve ever eaten (the jalapeño ranch was pretty legit, too). The BF ordered a pulled pork sandwich, while I had a burger… The Hangover, with smoked bacon, bleu cheese, and a fried egg. It was amazing.
I had planned on stopping at my friend’s bakery after dinner, but we were both too stuffed to even eat a cupcake. We headed for the concert, and we got there with plenty of time to rent chairs, find a spot, and relax.
I joked that we should take selfies, and then decided to actually try to get some pics… And I laughed the whole time because I tend to be fairly horrible at selfies.
I was feeling pretty wild and crazy, so I had one of these. Wheeeeeeeee!
We had so much fun before the show even started, just watching the crowd. We spotted some awesome mullets, though there were a lot fewer than I expected.
Steve Miller was great, but I missed a couple of his good songs because I was standing in line for the bathroom. I was behind a mother and daughter, and they’d each had a fair amount of alcohol. One would exclaim, “LET’S TAKE A SELFIE!” and then they’d stumble and bounce off of one another until they managed to get a blurry pic that contained at least parts of both of them. This went on for a good 15 minutes, and I could see her screen so I know I’m in a few of them. I totally made faces, because if I’m going to unintentionally photobomb someone I might as well have fun doing it. The cherry on top of that whole experience was when the Terrifically Tipsy Two made it to the front of the line and the daughter declared, “I’m gonna take a selfie in the porta-pot!” She then climbed in and began her quest for the perfect porta-pot selfie while trying to close the door and stay on her feet. A part of me secretly hoped that she’d fall in, because I was missing a song I wanted to hear to watch her shenanigans. I had my phone ready, just in case, but she eventually got the door shut and apparently managed to take the selfie and pee without falling in. Bummer.
By the way…is this a thing? Have we reached such a societal low that people think it’s appropriate (and even cute) to take photos of themselves in porta potties?! Do these people know what happens in those? Gross.
Anyway, once I managed to pee (without taking a selfie, because I have more than two functioning brain cells) I booked it back to our spot. On the way, two gals stopped me to ask where I got my dress, one guy “liked what I had going on”, and another guy pointed and said, “she works out!” I yelled back, “Yes I do!” and continued speed walking, which can be hard to do in a maxi dress. I had to tuck part of my skirt into my belt to keep from wiping out on the sidewalk. I made it back just in time to hear Steve Miller thank the crowd and tell us to be kind to Mother Earth or some such thing. It figures.
During the break, the guy next to us offered to take our picture. The BF didn’t even attempt to give me bunny ears… I think that’s a first!
So if Steve Miller was great, Journey was AMAZING. I was afraid that we’d be treated to a bunch of aging rockers shuffling around the stage with a random young Asian guy thrown in, but that was most certainly not the case. There’s a reason these guys have been around for so long. Neither The BF nor I had ever seen Journey live, and I think we were both pretty shocked at just how awesome the show was.
Here’s a link to a video I took of an awesome guitar solo… I didn’t think to get my phone out until halfway through, but you’ll get the idea. I had goosebumps the whole time.
On the way home, we stopped at White Castle (duh) and The BF thoroughly enjoyed his sliders while I tried the Sriracha chicken and jalapeño cheese fries. Both options could have been spicier, but they were still pretty good.
Of course, by the time we got home we barely had the energy to drag our old asses up the stairs to bed. We got to sleep in a little on Sunday, and after picking up our sweet boy, the BF left to paint a bathroom.
I’m so glad I got to give that guy such an awesome birthday present, because he really deserved a fun night out. Now the only problem is…
What on Earth am I going to do for him next year?!
Alternate title: heart attack on a plate
Yesterday was The BF’s birthday. Typically, he brings it up around, oh, June first and reminds me at least once a day. This year, the poor guy has been stretched so incredibly thin that he actually forgot about his own birthday.
I had to remind him earlier this week. He was so surprised that he stopped talking for a whole thirty seconds (unheard of) and then said, “So…wait… On top of all of this other stuff, it’s my birthday? Well how do you like that…”
I wasn’t sure if he would be home early enough for dinner, but I decided to go ahead and make something special for him just in case. He’s a meat and taters guy through and through, so I settled on chicken fried (or country fried) steaks, gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, and 7 Up biscuits.
These are the easiest, man pleasin’-est things in the world to make. Here’s what you need:
Chicken fried steaks and gravy
4 cubed steaks
2 eggs, beaten
About 2 cups of flour
About 2 tablespoons flour
About 2 cups milk
Salt and pepper
Heat about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil in a pan over medium. Mix flour and spices in a shallow dish and pour egg into a seperate dish. Press each steak into flour, then egg (let excess run off), then in the flour again. When the oil is hot, fry steaks until crispy and browned (about 5 minutes each side). Transfer to a cookie sheet and keep warm in a 300 degree oven.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons (or more, if you need it) of flour over the remaining oil and crispy bits in the pan. Stir and let cook for a minute or so, just to take the floury taste away. Add milk and whisk, whisk, whisk to eliminate flour lumps. I like to let it come to a bubble, then turn the heat to medium-low until the gravy thickens to your liking. Stir frequently.
When the gravy has thickened, serve the steaks covered in gravy with mashed potatoes and MORE gravy on the side.
The BF’s gravy sense (like spidey sense but with, you know, gravy) must have been tingling, because he got home early enough to hang out with O while I made dinner.
Once we had our fill of gravy, gravy, and maybe some more gravy, we had some cake and I gave The BF his gift.
Then we all fell into a gravy and sugar coma for the rest of the evening.
Since the summer of 2002, I have seen Dave Matthews Band in concert at least once (and one year four times), with only two exceptions: when I lived in Texas and the summer I was pregnant.
Last year The BF went with me. This year, he suggested that I go and he would stay with O. He’s not a Dave fan, so I called up my SIL (HUGE fan) and made plans to go.
The week before the show, I realized I didn’t really have anything to wear. Even a pair of shorts I got last summer are now really baggy and silly looking. I went to every clothing store in town and couldn’t find anything that I liked. I had almost given up when I remembered another store… I found this skirt in their little girls section. Hooray!
It was so hot on Saturday that we both started sweating just standing in line. We were too excited to care that it felt like our faces were melting off.
Once we got into the venue, SIL bought a beer and we got in line for a shirt. I buy one every year, and someday I’d like to make a quilt out of them. While in line, some chick was rather loudly complaining about feeling sick…we kept our distance, and she eventually left to puke around the side of the building. Disaster averted, no thanks to the total douche nozzle she was with who kept telling her to, “Wait a minute!”
From there, we headed to the lawn to find our spot. We made friends to a couple that ended up next to us, and I had to ask a really drunk muscle head to please stop touching me.
The muscle head and his buddies wandered away eventually, thank God. While we waited for the show to start, I worked on leading my friend to our spot.
I was complaining that I needed a better landmark when a voice behind me said, “Tell her to look for a really, really tall guy in a green shirt.” I turned around to see the tallest guy I have ever seen in preson. Wait, no…Greg Oden is the tallest person I’ve ever met, so this guy comes in second. Anyway, this guy is tall.
She didn’t find us, so we decided to look for her after the first set. At one point during the break, my SIL and I were walking up the hill yelling her name.
We never managed to find each other, but we did end up finding a really good spot for the rest of the show.
We had an amazing time… And I was pretty happy with the set list. I almost wish I had taken a few more pictures, like the lost puppy dog guy that came by himself and then latched onto us for the second half of the evening…Or the guy that came out of nowhere and kind of rubbed his butt on SIL…Or of SIL running up to the guy in the cow suit and yelling, “MOOOOO!” I just feel like you can’t really enjoy the experience if you’re taking pics every five seconds, so my phone went into my bag for most of the night. Oh, sure, I checked it frequently for messages from The BF, but it wasn’t in my hand all night. Instead, we danced, we sang, we made new friends, and we had a Hell of a good time.
We stopped at White Castle on the way home… They were getting ready to close, so the employees offered up a bunch of free sliders. It was pretty great at the time, maybe not so much the next morning.
After I dropped SIL off, I made it home around 2:00. I was so tired and sore that, even though I felt sticky and smelly and just generally gross, I just changed into pjs and crawled into bed. The shower I took the next morning was super awesome.
I’m so glad everything worked out… SIL and I had a great time, and The BF got to spend an evening of guy time with O. He took him swimming, and for ice cream, and they apparently had the BEST TIME EVER. O was so worn out that he slept until 8:00 Sunday morning. Bonus!
It was a good way to spend the longest day of the year… And I’m already counting the days until next year.
For the longest time, I thought cast iron skillets were gross. Give me a nonstick skillet any day of the week…At least you can use soap on those!
Well it turns out I was way wrong.
I bought my first cast iron skillet at Kroger, of all places, after I found a recipe that started on the stove and finished in the oven. I desperately wanted to make it for Thanksgiving (if you’re curious, it was this turnip gratin), but none of my pans would work. I happened to see a cast iron skillet on sale at the grocery store and decided to give it a shot. Oddly enough, I used it only to make the turnips at holidays (they were a huge hit) and it collected dust the rest of the year.
After moving in with The BF, I discovered his great grandma’s cast iron skillet. It was that skillet that really started my love affair with cast iron cooking. Now I use both skillets almost every day and they are by far my favorite kitchen items.
When I first started using The BF’s skillet, I was terrified of ruining it. I really didn’t need to worry, though… These are the toughest skillets known to man, I think. Still, cast iron can be a little intimidating to the uninitiated, so here are some tips on how to care for your cast iron:
Don’t use dish soap. Seriously, it will ruin the season. If you’re worried about bacteria, these skillets get screaming hot and I doubt anything could survive. Depending on what I’ve cooked, I sometimes do nothing more than wipe them down with a paper towel.
If you need a little more than a paper towel, pour some table salt in the skillet, dampen a clean wash cloth, and scrub away. Rinse, dry VERY thoroughly, and oil. You could also cut a potato in half and use that with the salt.
Every time you use a skillet, no matter how you clean it, pour some oil in and rub it in with a paper towel. Make sure to coat the entire inside with oil, but don’t leave any excess in the pan or it may go rancid. Ew.
If you see rust, don’t worry! The awesome thing about cast iron is that it’s rarely a lost cause. Simply use salt and a potato (or a damp washcloth) to scrub the rust off, then oil it. Good as new!
My Lodge skillet was preseasoned, and great – great – grandma’s skillet was incredibly well seasoned, obviously, so I’ve never had to go through the process… Check out the Lodge website for instructions, plus more tips to keep your cast iron in shape.
If you don’t have any cast iron cookware, please do yourself a favor and pick some up. Not only is it the best stuff ever, but you get a good arm workout when you cook with it!
We’ve been on the go since Thursday, so I apologize for my lack of posts lately. Summer is a busy time for us, with birthdays and festivals and concerts and fairs… We try to cram as much fun into these few months of sun as possible.
Thursday, The BF’s mom invited O and I to the pool. He had a blast playing in the sprinklers of the splash pad, and while he played I got to have some grownup conversation with MIL (seriously, The BF’s Mom is just cumbersome. She will from now on be MIL) and some of The BF’s cousins.
Of course, what happens when the whitest person you know goes to the pool and forgets to out on sunscreen?
She gets sunburned, obviously.
On Friday, O and I spent the morning at my mom’s house, then we made a run to town with MIL and The BF’s nephew. As we were walking through the store, MIL pointed to a guy that was checking me out. When he saw that he’d be caught, he just shrugged as if to say he couldn’t help it and walked away. We had a good laugh about it, and Nephew wanted to know what was so funny. Rather than explain, MIL just pointed in a random direction. Apparently, at a woman in a wheelchair. We got a ten minute lecture on how we shouldn’t make fun of someone that was hurt from Nephew for that one.
Saturday, O and I drove to Lebanon to pick up a dozen donuts I’d ordered for Father’s Day. I’m surprised they made it home, let alone until Sunday.
We got home just in time for O to nap while I watched my old high school softball team play in the state championship game… They lost 1-0, but it was a great game and I’m super proud of them.
On Sunday, O and I went to the Strawberry Festival with MIL while The BF was fishing.
As I was getting the condiments for my tenderloin, a guy walked up behind me and exclaimed, “That’s huge! Where are you going to put it? You surely can’t eat the whole thing!” Little did he know that I absolutely could eat it all, but I explained that I was sharing it with my bottomless pit child.
After coming home, we let the boy nap for about an hour before heading out again. Our first stop was The BF’s grandpa’s house. He loves donuts, so we brought him one jelly filled and one bacon donut, plus some strawberries from the garden for good measure. O loves going to his house because he can play with the dog, a sweet, old beagle named Daisy.
We had dinner at Rancho Bravo. O loves the chips so much that I think he ate a whole basket of them, then he started in on my chicken nachos. Bottomless pit, that kid.
After dinner, we wished my dad a happy Father’s Day while O ran around like a maniac and counted water bottles with my mom.
Our final stop for the night was to visit The BF’s other set of grandparents. We chatted for a bit while O inhaled a snack of Goldfish, yogurt bites, raisins, and puffs (maybe a growth spurt?), and as we said goodbye they handed us a chocolate dessert to take home.
O was asleep not long after we got home, and The BF and I were both worn out. I poured two glasses of milk, grabbed a couple of spoons, and we ate every bit of that chocolate dessert. Poor little O didn’t even get a bite.
I think The BF had a great day. The present I ordered didn’t show up on time, he didn’t catch any fish, and he had to replace a belt on the van…but he still wore a smile on his face all day, and that’s really all that matters.
I used to hate ham. Like, the stuff made me gag if I attempted to eat it. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t do it.
I remember one specific ham incident from my high school years like it was yesterday…I had spent the night at a friend’s house, and her mom fixed us lunch while we were outside. I was starving, so when I plopped down in front of my plate and saw a ham sandwich I was pretty disappointed. I was also afraid they would think I was rude if I said I hated ham… so I ate that sandwich, swallowing every tiny bite whole. It took me forever, and in my struggle to be polite I probably made myself look like a total weirdo.
Things have changed in the last few years, though. Pregnancy can do weird things to you, and making me actually enjoy ham in certain situations is one of them. I doubt I’ll ever order a ham steak at a restaurant, or get excited over spiral ham at Easter, but when it’s honey ham shaved so thinly it falls apart? Yeah, I’ll take it.
I made a chicken cordon bleu casserole not long ago that was really good (especially when we topped baked potatoes with the leftovers). Since then, I’ve had thoughts of a chicken cordon bleu grilled cheese dancing around in my head. When I saw seamless dough sheets hanging out with the canned biscuits at the store, a light bulb went off. I picked up half a pound each of turkey and ham and headed home to bake up some tasty treats.
Chicken cordon bleu roll ups
1 can seamless dough
Deli chicken or turkey, shaved (I used oven roasted turkey)
Deli honey ham, shaved
Thinly sliced swiss cheese, about 10 slices
Honey dijon mustard
Preheat your oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment. Unroll the dough onto the parchment and top it with turkey and ham, then sliced cheese. Drizzle the honey dijon over the cheese.
Roll it up and slice it into 8 rounds. Place them about an inch to an inch and a half apart on the parchment, then pop it into the oven for 15-20 minutes.
These would be a great alternative to a boring sandwich in your kid’s lunch box, or awesome finger food at a party. We loved them…In fact, I barely managed to save one for O’s lunch today. I had to be sneaky so I hid it in a cream cheese container, because The BF is a late-night snacker.
The best part? It took me 5 minutes to put these together. I served them with cottage cheese and grape tomatoes, and steam in the bag veggies…so not only was dinner an absolute breeze last night, but cleanup was a snap.