Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Older, Wiser?

I'm fast approaching 32.  My birthday will be here in 2 weeks and I think I should attempt to set a goal and accomplish it prior to this birthday.  The problem is deciding on a goal.

  • Lose 10 pounds?  Possible, with a little help from the YMCA, so this is on the potential goal list.  It is about to be "busy season" at work, so I am going to need to organize myself so that I can have dinner in the crock pot, ready at 7 pm if I stop to get my sweat on.  Thank goodness I already planned to make some freezer meals over the holiday weekend!

  • Clean out my Facebook friends?  Also very possible, since I've come to realize that there are many people I have no connection with outside of having grown up in the same town, or worked together at some previous employer.  Within those groups there are several people I still want to be in touch with, but there are just as many that I keep on my friends list because I'm neither proactive enough to delete them or it would make it much more difficult to anonymously rifle through their pictures and posts. 
  • Start a food blog?  I've bandied around this idea for a few months, I just worry I wouldn't have enough content to post, then I realize that I made Zuppa Toscana this weekend and that throngs of people would love the recipe, especially with my particular brand of "voice" (i.e. slurring).  I would need an excellent name for it.  A Marying of Flavor?  
  • Get family pictures taken?  This is on my Thanksgiving to-do list, I even have a lovely tablecloth that would make a lovely backdrop for Elora's golden hair and Colter's wicked grin.

So many options.  I will keep you posted on what I decide to do.  Unless I choose the Facebook cleanup and you are removed from my friends.  Hahahaha, I doubt anyone actually comes here unless they know me, but I guess we will see.  *Cue ominous music*

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Girls Weekend

Last weekend I went on an adventure with my good, good, good, gooder pal Laura G.  Have you met my gooder pal Laura?

 My friend LG and myself

If you haven't I recommend you do so, post-haste.  She has been an amazing force of wonderful in my life, which in the last year I've needed a big dose of.  She is funny, crafty, a solid shoulder to cry on and the friend that will come over on weeknights (and weekends) to just hang out and.... be.  We "be" our best when Coors Light or cocktails are involved.

Case in point, our Molotov Mule's at dinner

Laura had a friend who was renting a cabin in Chico for a girls' weekend, and I managed to snag myself an invite.  If you have been to this blog before, you may already know how much I love Chico.  Seriously, if my IUD falls out and Thad's testes re-fuse together we are naming our miracle baby Chico.  There is a good change that Chico might be the location of conception of said miracle baby.

So Laura and I got in the car on a rather yucky looking Saturday, took some rather treacherous roads to Livingston, and enjoyed a lovely chat on our way south into Paradise Valley.  She took all the pictures of the beautiful scenery, so I have none to share, but it was Guh.  Or.  Juss.

We did some swimming, we did some (i.e. LOTS) of drinking, we ate some amazing food, and we swam some more.  We laughed, I did the jitterbug with Shannon in the Chico Saloon, and we ate brunch at the cutest little depot in Livingston.  All in all, a fabulous weekend.

One year after my reduction and my bubbies still take over group photos

I already have another Chico weekend booked in 2013, but may have to sneak in one more trip before the new year.  I have a hard time leaving each visit.  Which is why Laura and I are going to buy property and live there. 

I shall leave you with this final photo, where I look slightly like Mama June and I could have horns.  This was at the Pacific Northern Beanery.  Cute place, delicious food, and the most awkward yet lovable waiter in Montana.  So nice.  So attentive.  So awkward.

And Laura, I promise that the next time I meet your friends I won't introduce myself with any phrase that includes "shitting the booze out".

That is totally a lie.  But thanks for still introducing me to new people anyways.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Today I wrote two blog posts that likely will never see the light of day, but one was incredibly cathartic and reaffirming, the kind of blog I will not delete but will go back and read when I need to hear what it's telling me.  The other was about politics, and was not really going anywhere specific, so I just stopped typing and got up and made productive use of my day.  Overly-productive, if you ask me.

The over-productivity might have direct relation to the fact that I am going, all by myself, sans-husband and sans-children, to Chico Hot Springs on Saturday, spending the night, not to return until late morning or early afternoon on Sunday.  Twenty four blissful hours of soaking, drinking, playing games, spending time with my giggle-partner, Laura, and just relishing a window of freedom that is as fleeting as it is eminent. 

In observance of  No Shave November I have decided to try out the idea of wearing leggings into the pool.  This is more to save the other pool-goers than to save my own vanity, and hopefully the idea catches on so no woman has to feel obligated to shave her legs just to go to the pool.  I'm hoping this makes the quick trips to the ladies room and the bar window a little more comfortable than bare, hairless legs since it is supposed to be CHILLY this weekend!!!!  Can't wait!!!!  Four exclamation points!!!!

I spent most of my weekend in perpetual motion, running to and fro, playing with kids, cooking, spending time with friends and just trying to live in the now, because in the here and now I'm with the right people at the right time in my life.  That was part of my life-affirming cathartic blog, looking at what I have now and recognizing that the things that aren't in my life are absent for a reason, and to be comfortable with that instead of second guessing it.  I had an a-ha moment, and it was a long time coming.

So raise your imaginary glass in a Sunday night toast to the pleasures of a weekend over, and the promise of the weekend to come.  Or raise a real glass, shit, I won't judge, you deserve it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If I had a Twitter Part 3

Voting for Mitt Romney because of a shared faith is like voting for Mitt Romney only because you are white..... oh wait, is that an unnecessary redundancy?

Family Fun in Bozo

Last week I stayed home with Colter while our day care provider was out of town (hope you had a nice vacation, Linda!) and I spent the week puttering around the house, doing the dishes every day, washing load after load of laundry, saw Puss in Boots every single day (it's actually pretty funny) and was a bum.  A bum that made two different kinds of mini-muffins (pumpkin chocolate chip and apple cinnamon streusel, both of which were divine),

I had planned for the Swans to stay overnight in Bozeman to visit the Children's Museum of Bozeman, and then hit the Bozeman Hot Springs the following day, but my brother had to go and schedule his FIRST PROFESSIONAL MIXED MARTIAL ARTS TITLE FIGHT for the following day, so we ended up only making it a day trip on Friday and getting Elora out of school early.  We managed to squeeze in a trip to the Museum of the Rockies while we were there too.  All in all it was a super fun trip!

This is the sweet girl on picture day, mommy curled her hair and let her wear glittery lip gloss.

Puppet show fun!  You'll notice that the pig appears to be sexually assaulting the horse in the last picture.  Daddy conducts a rather risque puppet show.

A ship of fools, and a fool with a camera and a mirror.  I wanted to document my adorable outfit for the sake of vain posterity.


The weather in Bozeman was just gorgeous for an October day, which was awesome because the Children's Museum has a cool plane outside that kids can play in.  Elora informed me that it had crashed there a long time ago. 

Playing in the sandbox.

Didn't take a ton of pictures at the MOR, but the kids enjoyed their Yellowstone room, and they have a really neat games/toys nook with all dinosaur stuff that they enjoyed.

We filled our growlers, grabbed some Dairy Queen, and headed home to Billings.  Saturday night we met some friends for Brew Pub nachos before the fight.

We had cool shirts that John's girlfriend made for everyone that came to cheer him on.  Not that he needed it.  He kicked ass and took names.

Sunday we went to Sartorie Farms for their pumpkin patch and corn maze, which was huge and the patch was filled with awesome pumpkins.  Here is the lot we managed to pick out.

 The green one is super heavy.  Thad picked out the giant pumkin on the left so we could have lots of pumpkin to make our own pie, and I picked the nice round pumpkin.  Elora has a slightly smaller pumpkin that is not pictured.

So that was our weekend of fun, in a nut shell.  We plan to make another trip and really stay overnight in the future, the kids loved the Children's Museum, and I need to get my hot springs on once the first snow flies.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 1, 2012

If I had a Twitter Part 2

Parental success story: my 6 year old daughter informed me it was October this morning.  And warned me that full moons mean werewolves come out.  Smart girl.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

If I had a Twitter Part 1

I refuse to use Twitter, but some things I want to type I feel silly putting up as a Facebook status, which is exactly what Twitter seems to be all about.  So welcome to my fake Twitter account!

- I've decided that I am going to put on hair and make up this weekend and make someone take pictures of me like a movie star being photographed in her own home.  Damn you, Gwyneth Paltrow, you do this to me!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My favorite soup for my favorite season

So, it's officially autumn!  To celebrate the season changing I have finally decided to blog a recipe I make a lot.  It's quite possibly perfect.  Everything about this soup sings.  I found the recipe back when I was making recipe cards for myself a few years ago, and the recipe card has someone's scribbling with a black Sharpie all over it *ahem, Elora* and I keep it tucked in my pretty little recipe journal. 

There are items in the soups that I don't use for anything BUT this soup, but every item is important, so please don't discount the sherry or the tarragon if they aren't normal pantry items for you.  Buy them once, and you will be surprised how many times you make this soup and use those 2 items.  Plus, I will note, it's a pretty light recipe (you can find the printable recipe here, along with nutritional information), using evaporated milk for the creaminess instead of heavy cream.  It is also not labor or time intensive, so I can make it on a week night easy.  And it's even better as leftovers.

*Disclaimer* I won't be giving detailed instructions at every step, just offering photographic evidence that this soup is easy to make.  Hopefully the photography and my hilarious commentary will have you clicking the recipe and making this soup very soon (how about tonight?!?!).  So pull up the recipe and read along with the steps if you want to know exact quantities and cooking times.  Please and thank you.  And you're welcome.

So, let's start with a chicken.  You can easily buy a rotisserie chicken at whatever grocery store you frequent and break that down for the chicken in this soup.  I just so happened to have a couple frozen whole chicken so I thawed one out and followed this recipe a fellow blogger had posted.   The key to perfect crock pot chicken is adding no water, and seasoning with enough salt.

I set my light timer to have the chicken start cooking as soon as I left the house, and it turned off at 5 so when I got home at 6 it was still warm but not so hot I couldn't use my hands to pull it apart.  It broke down like a dream, and was so yummy I ate the wings piece by delicious piece.

First step: get some olive oil going in the bottom of the pot, 1 tablespoon or so.  I am using my Christmas present dutch oven that I lurve so much to cook with.  My friend Laura just got herself a deal on an enameled dutch oven yesterday.  I hope she loves hers as much as I love mine.

Next up, veggies!  Celery, carrots, red onion.  Don't they look colorful all together like that!

Mushrooms and garlic are very necessary.

So, the kids are in the pool.  Let 'em sit for a few, they will sweat out a key ingredient to your next step.

I forgot to take a picture of the thyme (one could say I didn't give myself enough THYME, BAHAHAHAHAHA, kitchen humor).  But this is the tarragon, it has a licorice/anise smell and flavor, but in this soup you won't be wondering who spiked it with Good & Plenty's with only a half teaspoon.

This is the sweat from the veggies.   This is what you're going for, hidden behind the steam in this picture.

Flour is joining the party.  You'll add the flour, tarragon, and thyme at the same time.

Cook the coated mixture for a minute or so, get that floury taste out of there.

This has about 6 cups of water added, along with 4 teaspoons of chicken bouillon/chicken base.

A quarter cup of sherry, artfully shot from above.

Bubbly evaporated milk.

Let this simmer for a bit whilst you prepare your chicken and your rice.

You could make wild rice that takes 50 minutes, or 25 minutes....

Or 90 seconds.  I will go with 90 seconds, thank you very much.

This chicken came apart like a pair of dollar store panties.  I used the thigh meat and a whole breast, chopped, in the soup, and sent a drumstick in Elora's lunch box the next day.

Chicken and rice are lurking beneath the surface of this soup. 

Serve this up with some bread for dipping.  You will want every last drop of this deliciousness, I assure you.

I consider any recipe that results in clean plates/bowls a rousing success.  This soup is Colter B. Tested, Colter B. Approved.

So there you go, a wonderful fall soup, easy as pie.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Here we are.  August 21st.  The day before the first day of school.  Kindergarten.  And Colter's birthday.  Three.  I wish I could skip ahead to the weekend, because all of this is too much for a weekday.  A Tuesday, to be precise.

Last night was kindergarten orientation.  We took Elora to meet her teacher, a nice lady named Miss Redmond, and we know the little boy sitting next to her via Thad being friends with his mom for a long time.  So we keep racking items up in the "plus" column, immediately followed by a little ice cream and a quick trip to the YMCA to Meet the Counselor night.  Elora is going to be attending their program after school, and after seeing their facility and getting a run down of the process I am way less nervous than I was even during my drive home from work yesterday.

Nervous.  That's how I am for the first day of school.  I am trying very hard not to let on that I am, and I think I've succeeded thus far.  Elora expresses nothing but excitement.  We have talked about not talking when the teacher talks, raising her hand, saying her first and last name, I think she will be well prepared for the first day.  But I will probably spend the day with tears in my eyes.  Like I'm typing, right now.

And Colter B.  Wow, three years old.  I am conflicted on this age, because it feels like I've spent years telling him "no" and "stop", but also no time at all from when we was the teeny little spud who made all the summer heat while 10 months pregnant worthwhile.  He speaks, and says things like "I carry you drnstairs" which means I need to carry him UPSTAIRS.  We giggle during the upstairs trip, because I always argue with him that I carry him, and he argues back that he carries me.  He is a laugher, too.  He was chuckling over something during a car trip and said, "Mommy, I laffin".  He is his own commentary.  Still working on the potty, he will sit, but may have a touch of daddy's ADD because he doesn't want to sit for long. 

And me, well, I'm looking forward to this week being over.  I want to be a few weeks away from today, when our routine has been established and we are falling into it easily.  For now, I had better get moving if I plan to go to Walmart before daycare to get this poor kid some treats.   Mommy didn't homebake shit.  Sorry, bud, but you know your mother.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Finally, a recap!

First let me apologize for waiting to post the last few weekends' worth of events for your enjoyment.  I'm living a life, here, get off my back.  Haha, I love being snarky with the few readers that come to this wasteland of the mundane.

There have been many firsts in the last few weeks, and I think 99% of them were fun firsts, like the first time we went to Georgetown Lake (great first), first time taking the kids to the new Heights water park (also a really fun first), first time making a DIY dress from Pinterest (fun, easy, and way cute).  I'm failing to think of a first that hasn't been fun since the summer began, but I'm finding it difficult at the moment.

So Georgetown Lake was... awesome.  Amazeballs, if you will.  We ate, swam, boated, ate more, drank, sang, boated, slept in a woodshed-cabin that was surprisingly comfortable for a family of 4.  Here is a brief picture recap.

From georgetown
It's a thing of beauty, this here lake

From georgetown
The deck was enormous and extremely safe. Perfect for Colter "The Tornado" Swan.

From georgetown
Our beautiful view from the deck

From georgetown
The dock below the deck, along with some of our "crew"

From georgetown
I love this picture of Morgan and I. Love. It. Happy birthday, bestie.

From georgetown
Our little slice of heaven (aka the woodshed-cabin)

From georgetown
You can't really tell in this photo, but the steam coming off the water in the morning is gorgeous.

From georgetown
Elora and daddy heading out for a tube ride... she loooooved tubin', now she knows all the hand signals (especially the heavy metal devil horns, that means you're having a good ride, apparently)

From georgetown
A view of the mountains from the end of the dock

From georgetown
See that stud out there wakeboarding? That is my stud, thank you very much.

From georgetown
Between the tree and the feeder is a little hummingbird. If you squint you can't miss it.

So we got home from Georgetown Lake and the following weekend was my mom's family's reunion in Colstrip.  My mom is the youngest of six kids from an Irish Catholic family.  If guilt were gravy they wouldn't have enough gravy boats to go around.  The differences between our branch of the family tree (as in my mother and her offspring compared to my other aunt/uncles and cousins) is best illustrated by the following conversation between my cousin and I regarding karaoke:
Cousin: We thought about bringing the karaoke machine but didn't think anyone would sing.
Me: I would have totally rocked the karaoke machine, maybe sing some Meatloaf or "Ballroom Blitz" (goes on to sing a verse into an imaginary microphone I grip with both hands)
Cousin: I was thinking more like "Angel of the Morning" would be more my speed.

That sums it up folks.  My family is Ballroom Blitz.  My mother's family can only be described as "Angel of the Morning".  That concludes the illustration of that lesson.

From family reunion
This picture is of my mom's family, probably in the mid to late 60's based on the tie and my aunt's beehive.  The three gentleman on the left are my uncles Dirk, Dallas and Danny Joe, then my grandma Mary Alice and grandpa Jack, with Debbie on the right, then my uncle Donovan is on the bottom besides an oddly-Elora looking Darla.  They share a grin, I found out.

So after the conclusion of the family reunion we returned home to prepare for an invasion of awesome. Bestie Jen from the West Coast returned last Thursday, bearing only the gift of her smile and her pleasant company. But I think I'm going to save the Jen photographs until after a barbecue we are attending in her honor on Friday night. I love that her visits are like their own meteor shower. Unlike the actual meteor shower last night, I never miss one of her visits.

 I'm off to bed, but I've been meaning to get a blog up for a while, so I'm happy I could get one monkey on my back. Stay tuned for Elora's first day of school pictures. My little lady starts next week!