Recipe Alert: Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

Last week we invited my in-laws down. You see, my brother in law lives about a mile from us so when they come to Stamford, they see not one of their children but two of them. Three if you include me.

So I offered up to cook dinner – which I’m always happy to do – I lurrrve hosting, and I lurrrrrve getting to use all the fun dishes and gadgets that we got from the wedding.

The meal? A huge hit. I wish I had taken pictures. I always forget that.

However, I am considerate enough (I kid, I kid) to share the recipe with y’all.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

Ingredients

Directions

1 1/2-2 lbs ground beef
1 1/4 c. italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (or tomato puree)
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
basil (i used ~1-2T)
italian seasoning (2 t)
parsely (1 t)
3 eggs

1/2 pound of pasta of your choice – I used Rigatoni

Directions
In a bowl mix together meat, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, parmesan cheese in a big mixing bowl.

Form meat into 1-2″ balls. Place in bottom of slow cooker. Add tomato sauces so meatballs are covered, add spices (i added them to taste so estimates are rough estimates). Cook on high for 4 – 5 hours or until meatballs reach 165 degrees F. When ready, feel free to skim some of the grease off the top of the sauce

{FYI – if sauce needs to be thickened add 1-2 T of tomato paste}

A great weekend recipe, full of flavor and ohemgee it was SO GOOD. I figure any recipe that I cook that gets the approval of Hubs’s dad who’s super cook (seriously the man can cook anything) that gets his approval is a win in my book. I’ll be cooking this again soon. Next time, I’ll remember pictures. Promise.

signature

Making things happen

Things got monumentally worse yesterday.

In Hubs’s and I’s quest for the #movenorth, we’ve, in so many terms…lost a lot of money. Gone into some debt for him to take his job. I quit a job, albeit a minimum wage paying one, but a fun one. I loved the gym. He was “consulting” and was brought on full-time to his job just this month thus giving up other consulting clients for his job, and taking a pay-cut to do so. A pay cut. After taxes, etc…which his company will now be paying for, he will be bringing home significantly less than the past few months of “consulting” while also losing a significant amount of outside income. I am…kind of freaking out.

It was, in addition, non-negotiable.

My biggest fears: Are we going to be able to survive? Are we going to be able to not go bankrupt? Will we be able to eat? Will we be able to keep puppeh in kibble? Oh. Em. Gee. The list goes on and on, because while Hubs is incredibly supportive about me pursuing my dreams, the reality is – and I’m realizing this faster than he is – I need A job. It won’t likely be THE dream job, but I need…A job. And I’ve been applying, to part-time, freelance and full-time jobs. But guess what kids…the economy is still crap and well…I’ve had ONE interview since we moved up here. ONE.

I’ve applied to at least ten private schools, ten public schools for pretty much any position that will allow an uncertified teacher – substitute, teaching assistants, etc.. I found out the other day that Stamford Public Schools have SIX HUNDRED substitutes. They TURN teachers away. Same with Wilton. I need to follow up with a few other schools but can I just say…holy. Crap. Me teaching is likely not going to happen any time soon – I’ve still got my fingers crossed for grad school but in the mean time…

Crap crap crap crap.

I’ve begun, slowly, applying for more freelance jobs. Mostly because this teaching thing? Is going to be slow going and me? I love to write. A lot. I think you can tell by my blog right? Right. I might as well wait, wait for grad school or a private school gig, and do something I enjoy in the mean time that may just allow me to make some money. Keep your fingers crossed.

In addition to my quest for freelance gigs, my longing to teach, my marathon training, my soon to be tutoring, I recently started a project that has long been in the works – there’s about eight other bloggers – with a few others that are currently getting started on the site that haven’t been introduced yet. It’s a wedding blog. A blog that came to fruition at BlogHer and took this long (for me: 1 wedding, 1 move and a job and a half later) to get off the ground.

Currently, we’re in the middle of a redesign to make it a pretty wedding blog. Soon? I want to be bff with the big time wedding bloggers. Sharing pretty pictures and dreaming of the wedding that could have been. I loved my wedding, every minute of it – from my sister waking me up super early to give me my wedding gift, to having breakfast with my mom and sister in the morning, to stopping at our frequented liquor store in full wedding attire after the ceremony to get some champagne for the limo to the after party in our suite. I loved it. But I also love the thought of planning weddings – seeing everything come together – the details, the colors, the dresses, the coordinating – everything about weddings I love.

So this blog, is a source for REAL bloggers to write about their weddings. Not that all wedding bloggers aren’t real bloggers but I just found that some of the wedding blogging out there is…less than stellar. And for some reason, I have a small condescending attitude towards bloggers who created their “blogs” to blog for a wedding blog. Or bloggers who write for a wedding blog who had never blogged before. I dunno, it just kind of turns me off. Judgemental I know, and I don’t claim to be the next Anne Frank but sometimes, you just want to read bloggers who can use a semi-colon properly. Am I right?

So, my project, unpaying but oh so fulfilling with some of the best bloggers out there (IMHO) is up and running: The Bridal Bloggette. And in the meantime, while I wait for my teaching dreams to come to reality, I’ll keep writing because it makes me happy and if there’s one thing I need to stay in our dour situation is happy.

signature

Love Harder

I saw this all around the blogosphere and I was reminded why I absolutely love blogging. The community, the love, the support, the friends. It’s incredible and inspiring and I had to post this. Blogging = friends. Friends = love.

The quandry: We feel terrible. Just horrible. And oh so helpless… if only there was something we could DO for them.

The answer: Ummmm. Did you forget that WE ARE THE INTERNET?!?!!??! And also, Yes We Can!!!

The result: Brandy and your Hot Awesome Dude… this one’s for you. Love, The Internet.

Our Plea

Our friend Brandy is a brilliant writer, a wonderful teacher, and a generous friend.  And she is in love with a man who has just been diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

We are raising money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Fund in his name.  For the price of a cinnamon dolce latte, half-caf, hold the whip, you can be part of an effort to cure a disease that affects approximately 750,000 people worldwide.

http://www.loveharder.org

Every dollar brings us a dollar closer to a cure.  And every donation brings a sliver of hope to a girl who needs all the hope she can get.

Love Harder,
Heidi

What You Can Do

  • Give. Be part of a worldwide effort to cure a disease that affects approximately 750,000 people worldwide.  Every dollar helps.
  • Pass it on. Forward this story to five people.  Share this blog post.  Become our fan on Facebook.
  • Love harder. Life is short, love is unbending, and no one knows what could happen next. Tell someone you love them today.

Where Your Money Goes

  • The American Institute of Philanthropy recently named The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation one of the best organizations to give to in terms of their accountability and use of resources.
  • By working closely with researchers, clinicians and partners in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, the MMRF has helped bring multiple myeloma patients four new treatments that are extending lives around the globe.
  • The MMRF has advanced twenty Phase I and Phase II clinical trials. They need your support to advance these clinical research programs and accelerate the development ofbetter, more effective treatments.
  • The MMRF’s Multiple Myeloma Genomics Initiative recently became the first to sequence the multiple myeloma whole genome in its entirety.
  • A whopping 98% of your donation to the MMRF will be used immediately to supporthigh-priority multiple myeloma research.
  • With diminishing funding for early stage drug development and the next myeloma treatments not expected to be approved until 2011, the MMRF desperately needs your help.

Brandy’s story can be found HERE.

signature

Bone to Pick

Having worked at a gym for almost two years part-time in DC, I’m struggling with the new gym here in CT. Like, really struggling.

You see, out of caution, we don’t like to leave our crazed, separation anxiety laden, unable to be crated pup by herself. When we first moved up here, we got a package at a playcare facility down the road for a good price but I’ve been trying to save those days as much as I can since the package is running out and we don’t really have the money to buy a new one.

Today, I went, as usual, to the gym when hubs got off work. My days are spent hanging with pup, taking her for walks in the bitter cold, and applying to jobs, and waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting on certification programs. Because now, apparently, some private schools don’t hire substitutes that aren’t certified. A little part of me just died.

I digress, so going to the gym at 6:30pm, I’m not stupid, I expect the gym to be busy. This gym is significantly smaller than the gym I worked at. So much so that I had to wait 15 minutes for a treadmill.

In ADDITION, and this is where I get really annoyed – two points –

1. Put a lock on your locker. TWENTY lockers I opened – at least – before I found an empty one. Ladies, I know this is a tiny locker room without towel service (hate), but jebus. Put a freakin’ lock on your valuables or else next time you’re done not breaking a sweat on the elliptical, you’ll find your North Face fleece on the floor with my stuff in your locker with a lock on it. Always. ALWAYS use a lock. Much like a c*ndom. Protect thyself. Lock it up.

2. In addition, there are signs around the gym that say “limit your workouts to 20 minutes when people are waiting for the machines.” There were at least 3-5 of us waiting for a treadmill. Yet, still, I saw a number of people with 45 minutes or more left on their workout, that had already been on the ‘mills for at least 15-20 minutes. I get it, I’ve done the treadmill for an hour (against my will but it was too cold to do that 5 miler outside with no running gloves), but during peak hours? Right after people get out of work when EVERY OTHER MACHINE IS BEING — USED? That’s just rude and inconsiderate.

3. No towel service. No jaccuzzi. I never see floor staff around. People not wiping machines after use. Seriously, what kind of second rate gym is this place?? Towels just make it more sanitary. The jacuzzi, well, I was spoiled what can I say.

A big part of me misses DC. My gal pals, my book club, my gym, being able to have a life. A part of me is beginning to resent the dog – and I realize it’s largely our fault for not trusting her/training her well – she regressed while we were both unemployed. Not surprising but it’s not her fault.

At least I’ll have junior league starting next week, and I WILL get a job – sooner hopefully rather than later, and I have three races before June, so it’s not like I have nothing. Sometimes, it just feels that way. *sigh*

{Cross-posted at BlogHer.com}

signature

Just what I needed

My hands were sweaty, my knees shaking. I don’t know how I managed to park my car, but I did. I was nervous – and late – but I walked in. Smiled and mumbled an apology about being late.

After hearing about the joys of being a member of Junior League of Stamford-Norwalk, I knew I was going to join. Granted, I knew that walking in, but I was afraid I’d chicken out.

You see freaders, I’m not good at people. I mean, I am. I fake it a lot, but in social situations by myself? Not so good. I get incredibly nervous and anxious in situations where I don’t know many people. Seriously, sometimes it’s xanax worthy anxiety.

I often forget to follow up on emails, I tend to be slightly scatterbrained when it comes to remembering names but there I was, in a room full of ladies who wanted the same thing i did. To meet other gals while serving the community.

I can not even begin to tell you how excited I am for this all to start. Within an hour I was all smiles, eager and laughing and engaging in the conversation so I’m pretty excited. I’ll get over this fear of new social situations soon enough, but the way I see it? This is kind of like me giving blood – doing it to get over a fear and make myself a better person while doing so. So go me?

But really, this is what I’ve needed to pull me out of my rut. Something for me, something to give me social interaction. This? Will be good. In addition, this week I’ve applied to countless teaching jobs today and yesterday, I drove to Bridgeport to apply to be a substitute teacher, I spent 3 hours yesterday filling out two applications for two schools and completed my TFA application a week early! It’s been a good week. A very good week indeed.

I am so happy that I finally feel like I’m settling down here, for the past couple months I feel like I’ve been twiddling my thumbs just kind of…being. But now I have something, something for me. The only that could make things better? A nice teaching job at a private school or admission to SHU for grad school or a substitute teaching job. I mean, I don’t think I’m asking for much am I?

signature

Recipe Alert: Pulled Pork

I’ve done pulled pork before, and while unfortunately, I forgot to bust out the camera, while it lacks visual confirmation if you will, I can assure you, this recipe is amazing.

Hubs had bought a pork shoulder on sale a few days ago, and I finally got around to throwing it in the slow cooker – which by the way, was one of the greatest inventions ever. So while I couldn’t find the recipe I used last time, I googled around for one that included the homemade BBQ sauce and found this one over at Baking Bites. I whipped up some cole slaw (thank you Dole salad bags!) and we threw it all on some hamburger rolls (should have gotten better rolls – next time), and had a great southern inspired meal!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

5-6 lb. pork shoulder/pork butt
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp mustard
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup water

Place onion on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place pork shoulder, trimmed of any obvious excess fat, into slow cooker on top of onions.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients to form the barbecue sauce. Feel free to adjust salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Pour half of the sauce over the pork and cover. Set remaining sauce aside.
Cook over low heat for about 8 hours (or according to your slow cooker’s presets).

Remove pork to a large bowl and shred with two forks. Transfer meat back into slow cooker and cook for a few more minutes, until meat has soaked up the sauce. Pulled pork can be held on the “warm” setting in the slow cooker for serving.
Serve on soft sandwich rolls, topped with extra barbecue sauce.

Serves 10-12.

Hubs was a HUGE fan. I added a bit more cumin and a touch of crushed red pepper to give a little heat to it but the sweetness combined with the savory heat made for a great sauce. I highly recommend this recipe – it’s incredibly easy to prepare and the slow cooker adds less clean up factor as well. We have plenty left so I’m sure we’ll be having this again at some point this week.

signature

Sisters!

My sister. I don’t write about family much here. But I’ve gotta say, my sister is pretty awesome. Ten years ago, I would have said quite the opposite, probably to the extent that I didn’t care if she was alive or not, but these days, my sister is pretty bad ass.

todayshow

{photo via www.nbcphotos.com}

The other day, my sister and I were bad ass enough to go into NYC, she hadn’t been since she was in grade school and I figured “why not?” So we woke up at the butt crack of dawn, hopped on the train to Grand Central and scooted up to Rockefeller Center and were on The Today Show!!!

We stayed for about an hour, getting there a few minutes after seven and leaving just before eight am. It was fun and! We definitely got on TV once! Which given the cold on Wednesday AM, was good enough for us.

We also saw the Rockefeller Tree (it’s from CT!!!); went to Times Square; walked down to Macy’s and walked around and sent letters to Santa (because I’m 5. Really. I am); walked down 34th Street; met up with my dad for lunch; considered going up the Empire State Building – decided we didn’t want to spend the money; considered walking up to Radio City Music Hall, decided it was too cold; walked around Bryant Park – took some cute pictures of ice skaters; and finally got a train back here to Stamford where we met up with Hubs, came home, ordered chinese and finally crashed.

I’ve learned, over the past couple years especially, to appreciate family. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m glad that I have a good (but dysfunctional) family. My sister and I, especially, haven’t always had the best relationship. A few as five years ago, we were barely on speaking terms. But ultimately, I’m glad I’ve got my sis. She’s been through a lot but she’s strong, and I admire her for all that she’s done for herself, not to mention I’m immensely proud of her. I’m really glad we’ve grown to appreciate one another over the past few years, growing up it was quite the opposite. I was always jealous of her over-achiever status and thus set my life goal to one up her in everything I could. I wanted the attention, I wanted the same kind of attention that my mother showed her.

But we grow up. I stopped caring about our class ranks, the fact that I was in National Honor Society and she wasn’t. It’s about family. We’re blood and sometimes, when there’s no one else, you have your family and you just gotta get by with them because no matter what you think? They’ll always be there for you. I’m lucky. I’m lucky to have parents who love me, siblings who are pretty awesome – a sister who’s picked herself up from an abusive relationship and has worked her way up the corporate chain, and a brother who cleaned up his act at eighteen and is now active duty military getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. I’m immensely proud of both of them, and am constantly reminded that you can’t give up your family no matter what. They’re just that, whether you like them or not, sometimes? They’re all that’s left.

{photos by Megan Garrison}

This visit with big sister has been MUCH MUCH better than the last, and I finally feel like she’s not just my sister, related to me by chance, but that 1. she’s a friend – the type a sister should be and 2. I’m finally grateful that she’s my sister. Our personalities, as I’ve realized are completely opposite – my weaknesses tend to be her strengths and vice versa (or so I’ve observed). I’m just…really thankful. For her. For a lot of things.

Side note, despite the impending travel craziness (DC this weekend, Southbury next week, VT the weekend after and New Haven with friends for New Years Eve), I am still trying to keep my fitness blog updated, as well as this one here! And the bloggy project is almost ready to be announced, as soon as I can get the $*&(*#&$(ing theme fixed. *rage* Lot’s going on, unfortunately, not much motivation to write. Too much else to do, including getting my etsy shop ready, sending out Holiday cards, Thank You notes (almost done! Twenty more!), baking and applying to various teaching programs. *sigh*

Are you ready for Christmas next week? Pretty sure I could use another week. At least.

signature

What I’m Wearing Wednesday – December 2

So today I’m heading into the city. I’m meeting my dear ‘ole dad for lunch, galivanting around and then heading up north to meet hubs in New Haven/Hartford.

So being that I try to pretend to be all stylista like and such, I decided to be comfortable, casual and cool. AKA giving a damn. Unlike last week.

Shoes: Steve Madden (Love!!!)
Cowl neck sweater: Ann Taylor Loft (on sale!)
Jeans: Ann Taylor Loft Boot cut
Belt: Ann Taylor Loft
Button Down Shirt (white): JCrew (outlet!)

Love love these shoes. All things considering, they’re pretty comfortable too!

Happy Humpday everyone!!!

signature

Thankful for…

Alternately Titled: How mom saved Thanksgiving and why Ham isn’t the same

Under normal circumstances, my Thanksgiving is spent at my Aunt’s house on the shores of Lake Champlain. There is laughing, booze, and lots of family members. Football/The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are on the big screen television and the sound of pitter pattering feet stifle the sound of the adults gossiping in the cramped kitchen.

This year, the first Thanksgiving of my newlywedness, I was hoping to bring Hubs back to that. To be in the crowd of my beloved family, hoping for snow, and enjoying a full thanksgiving meal – to finally celebrate with the family that couldn’t be bothered to travel to my wedding make it down for the wedding.

There was drama, too many little kids around because of cousins having…what I would deem as unsavory people with a few illegitimate children (between two cousins – 8 illegitimate children, not including the other 2 who are legit), my Aunt that usually hosts didn’t want to host the crowd of kiddos that my other aunt’s kids would be bringing along to the festivities. Thanksgiving was split up.

I found out about it a few days before. My Nana informed me, she’d be cooking dinner. We’d head over there for a noon dinner – as per usual, nothing new there.

Dinner, though wonderful, was ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, homemade pickles, and rolls. It was delish. But it wasn’t turkey. It wasn’t stuffing, candied carrots, green bean casserole, and there wasn’t pie. Not that I like pie to begin with, but I brought Hubs home to experience my beloved thanksgiving traditions, and they didn’t happen.

Thanksgiving, was dead.

Later, we had plans to meet my sister to see New Moon. We decided to stay at my Nana’s that night, and my cousin wanted to tag along, unfortunately, we had to run home to Mom’s – 30 minutes away – to grab our bags, especially since my sister and I had plans to go shopping at 6am. (shut up. It’s tradition.)

En route back to pick up my cousin, after Hubs and I discovered how hungry we were and after convincing mom to cook a turkey, I was in a rush. A 6:20 movie. We weren’t sure if there would be lines (hey you never know how hardcore those twi-hards are), so sister and I wanted to meet at 5:45. It was 5:20. I was going to be late.

Getting on the highway, I sped. Who doesn’t? Then there he was. An Essex Cop. Earlier, I had been bragging to Hubs about how “I’ve never been pulled over.”

Who get’s pulled over for the first time on Thanksgiving??

I got a warning. 61 in a 50 zone. Out of state plates. No ticket. Lucky. Purely. Lucky.

Still. I wanted to cry. I hadn’t given Hubs Turkey, he was hungry when he should have been in a food coma and I got pulled over making me even more late.

*sigh*

The movie was great, my bff T-pup met up with us to see it – so there was five of us, Hubs proudly proclaimed he was on Team Jacob “the werewolf totally gets the short end of the stick!” he proclaimed later in the car. Post-movie, we headed over to Colchester to a trashy townie bar. Granted the area is littered with them outside of downtown Burlington.

T-pup, myself and Hubs walked into the bar, ordered up a round and immediately asked if the kitchen was open. It had closed at 9p.

Drat!

The bartender however, told us she’d start up the deep fryer. We had – for our thanksgiving dinner – fried mozzerella, fried ravioli, and chicken wings.

We toasted to good friends, trashy townie bars that play too much country music, and to fried food.

Six hours later, after getting dropped off back at my Nana’s, I was waiting in line at K-Mart with my big sister ready to take on Black Friday.

We finished today with Turkey, Stuffing, and all the fixings that mom whipped up today. Seriously, I have the best mom ever.

In short:

I am thankful for….

  • My Husband
  • My family (mom, nana, sister, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins)
  • Black Friday ($20 down comforter, $110 blu-ray player, $15 sweaters, etc…)
  • My mom. Especially her. She saved our thanksgiving.
  • My friends – who I miss every freakin’ day.
  • Movie theaters that are open Thanksgiving Day – hellllllo New Moon!!!
  • That nice Essex PD officer who decided not to give my sorry speeding butt a ticket even though I maybe sorta kinda lied and said I was late to Thanksgiving dinner (and by thanksgiving dinner I meant late to get our butts to the theater to see New Moon but I wasn’t going to tell him that…)

All in all a good thanksgiving was had. Happy Thanksgiving freaders!!!!

What are you thankful for???

signature

Monday Wants – Wish List edition (part 1)

With less than five weeks till Christmas, Hubs and I have been talking about Christmas. I’ve pretty much decided that I’ll be shopping for myself (sans one gift that will be a surprise from hubs)

so for christmas this year? I’m looking at things that i may…justified as being needs. The following? Is my christmas list

1. Argyle Sweat from {the gap}; 2. Boot Cut Cords {the gap}; 3. Striped Sweater {old navy}; 4. Ruffled Sweater {old navy}; 5. Cady Knee High Boot {target}; 6. Argyle Tote {ll bean}.

There’s actually not that much that I legitimately want for the Holidays this year – I have everything I could want – my husband, a nice home, a crazy, cuddly puppy. We have a car to take us to visit our family and friends, we have our health, and hubs has a job. I would love the following less tangible items…

my brother to stay safe in Afghanistan over the next year

a teaching job

my mother and sister to be…legitimately happy. Especially my mum.

Feeling successful and happy.

Feeling in shape again.

There’s very little I want – sure clothes and books are nice, and it’s great having gifts under the tree but really? Isn’t it what’s around us that really matters? Family? Friends? Health? Happiness? That’s all I really care about this year. I’ve had an amazing year with many ups and downs but ultimately, everything that we go through – obstacles and all – make us stronger and bring us to where we are today. Today? I am MUCH happier than I was a year ago. We are in a much better place and…we’re married! What could be better than that?!?!

What are you wishing for this holiday season?

signature