Wednesday, August 31, 2011

THIRTY!

30 weeks down and 10 more to go!
It will be interesting to see what happens with this belly of mine - I feel like I am having twins!

Photobucket

Monday, August 29, 2011

Grover Beach & Disneyland

We had such an awesome last minute mini vacation last weekend! We headed out Friday after work to visit Benson's brother in Grover Beach, CA and then headed out from there Sunday evening and met up with his Sister and her family at DISNEYLAND for a couple of days.

We had a ton of fun visiting Tanner and Shelly and two cute nieces who we don't get to see too often. We ate lots of yummy food (like Slo Doughnuts) and hung out at the beach enjoying the cool weather.

Photobucket

Benson went surfing for the first time (despite his fear of sharks and dislike for cold water)
Photobucket

This little lady just wanted to build sandcastles all day
Photobucket

and this little girl was my happy companion soaking up the sun.
Photobucket

I miss this little face.
Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

It was much warmer (a little too warm) once we got down to Disneyland but we had lots of fun anyway! I couldn't ride most of the rides but it was still fun to be there, relax and do all the fun kid stuff.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Even the driving was fun! Benson and I are so busy we don't really get a ton of time just to hang out so having several hours in the car with just the two of us was fun.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Oh my cankles...

otherwise known as how my pregnant body is re-adapting to the heat after our California vacation:


Photobucket

Friday, August 19, 2011

Disneyland

It's no secret I love Disneyland. I grew up going every summer. We were lucky to have a hookup which allowed my family, and 15 of our closest friends, to stay at the Disneyland hotel (all in one room mind you) for free. I have so many fun memories of sleeping in every nook and cranny of the room and spending all day either at the park or swimming in the hotel pools and drinking strawberry daquris by the pool. To me, going to Disneyland is like returning to the magic of my childhood. I love going and it would take a lot for me to get tired of it.


Benson, however, does not share this love. He didn't grow up going like I did so he has no sentimental attachment. He also hates crowds and thinks it's way overpriced (which, let's be honest, it totally is). This isn't to say he doesn't have a fun or enjoyable time - he just doesn't have the same excitement about it that I do.


Shortly after we were married we received a Disney gift card. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to make our first visit to the happiest place on earth together. Benson wasn't as easily swayed - so I took it upon myself to show him what a great idea it was...


...by making a powerpoint presentation.


I just found a copy if it the other night and laughed out loud at my ridiculousness, and decided I had to share it so you can all understand just how important Disneyland truly is.


Without further ado - I present to you "Our Disneyland Vacation" otherwise entitled "How to convince your husband you need a trip to Disneyland"


Photobucket
Tip #1 - Make it cute. Even the toughest men soften a little at that cheesy Mickey Mouse Smile


Photobucket
Tip #2 - Give them the details up front. Let them see the bottom line, and that you have done your research - they'll take it more seriously. Throwing in a reminder of how happy it will make you is always encouraged to soften the blow of the cold hard facts of the expense.


Photobucket
Tip #3 - Put it into perspective. Yes it may seem like a lot to spend...but it's only $1.94 per day!


Photobucket
Tip #4 - Get desperate. Just in case they are not budging on the budget, throw in some reasoning so pathetic they can't help but pity you for the effort, or laugh at your attempt which will soften their mood.

(This is where I really laugh at myself. I shamelessly stole the wording for this slide from one of those "for only 5 cents a day you can change this child's life" sites which allow you to sponsor needy children in third world countries and just changed it to my name/information at certain parts. I chose to leave the grammatical errors from the site to preserve the authenticity. If you can't read the small text this is what it says: "Sarah Beasley is a poor young girl who lives in the Central Gilbert province. Her nickname is Sarah and she is American. She lives with her parents (currently), and a younger brother in a simple house; it is cement floor only, the walls made from wood and bamboo, has courrugated metal roof and the situation is bad. To support their needs, her father makes a living as a daily laborer, his income in annual only around US $300.00. Unfortunately, his income is insufficient to provide the family needs properly. She has not attended any school yet; but her health condition is fair. To help this young girl enjoy her childhood and receive adequate guidance; we are pleased to welcome her joining our group. She likes playing with her best friend Benson. Your kind sponsorship will be a great deal for this unfortunate child; she will meet proper childcare and grow up healthy to achieve a bright future if you take her to Disneyland.")


Photobucket
Tip #5 - Go for the cute, happiness plug. Let them know they have the ability to make you the happiest.person.alive.


Photobucket
and that my friends...


Photobucket

is how it's done.


-------------------------


Benson was very sweet and obliged my childhood fantasy and took me to Disneyland that year.


We're going again Monday & Tuesday - I can't wait!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Winnie

This little pup is all grown up! Winnie has grown and will soon get her first "big girl" haircut which means all of that lovely black fluff will be gone forever (it will be a much lighter gray). Tara wanted to make sure her panda look was preserved first though.




Photobucket





Photobucket





Photobucket





Photobucket



Also, this is what happens when a pregnant lady is trying to take pictures of a "full of life" pup in muddy grass...


Photobucket



Photobucket

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Yet another recipe from my mom - this is one of Benson's new favorites. She made it for us one night and he hasn't stopped talking about it since. I made it for him Monday night and he profusely thanked me all night for being so nice to him.

Recipes don't get much easier than this!

Photobucket

As you can see, I used canned chicken, which made it even easier since I didn't have to take the time to cook any of the chicken. After grating some cheese and measuring my liquids(so.hard.), I cut the cream cheese into cubes...

Photobucket

I layered the ingredients in a small baking dish. I did shredded chicken, hot sauce, ranch, shredded cheese, then cream cheese on top.

Photobucket

Once everything was in the dish I stirred it up a bit, covered it with a lid (my dish had a lid, you can use tinfoil) and baked for 30 minutes at 350° until it's all warm and melty. Give it a good stir then serve it warm with corn chips! We also had veggies with ranch on the side. Mmmmm

Photobucket


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sneak Peek

We have some new exciting things going on in the Garner house - like:


Photobucket


If you look closely you'll also see our new dishwasher and some new paint on the walls! I can't wait until the rest of our remodel is done!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Arizona Summer

Ever wondered what happens to a banana if you leave it in the car during the summer in Arizona?


Well wonder no more!


I've solved the mystery:


Photobucket


Take Note: Same principle applies to dogs and children.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

26 Weeks & Counting

Photobucket


That's right - 26 weeks down and only 14 to go!


I can't even believe how fast time goes.


I am getting bigger by the day and moving at all has become a joke - it really makes me laugh half the time at how immobile I can be. I have sat down on the floor a few times lately and almost gotten stuck there becuase it's so difficult for me to stand up and Benson has to help me stand every time. He even told me the other morning "I don't think you should be doing that anymore".



I am running low on clothing that actually fits and have seriously contemplated wearing only muumuu's for the next three months.



Feeling the baby move is becoming quite the experience. I can tell she is getting bigger because when she rolls I can feel it on all sides of my belly rather than just one spot at a time. I think she has late night dance parties in there by the feel of things.



Photobucket


I've been working on planning out her room and it is coming together really cute! I can't wait to start working on it and see it come together.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chicken Fried Steak

My mom is one of the best cooks I know. Everything she makes is delicious and her Chicken Fried Steak is definitely no exception. I will never order it anywhere else because I have never tasted one that compared to hers. While we were up in Greer I convinced her to let me take pictures of her making it so I could remember it and share it with all of you - you can thank me later.


________________



You start with cube steak which is already tenderized, or you can get round steak and have it tenderized at the meat counter - if you get round steak, ask them to tenderize it twice.

When she starts to prepare them, she first cuts them down in size - usually in half - since they will get larger as you work with them.


Greer_2011_19



Lay them out on a board and season them with salt, pepper and garlic salt - pretty simple!



Greer_2011_20



Don't forget to flip them and get the other side!


Greer_2011_22



Next up you'll want to crack some eggs in a shallow dish and beat them together well with some milk (about 1 Tbsp. per egg)


Greer_2011_24



Also get some saltine crackers


Greer_2011_26



Put them in a plastic bag



Greer_2011_27



And smash them up nicely with a rolling pin (we couldn't find one in the cabin so we just used a cup and it worked fine)



Greer_2011_28



Once the crackers are crushed, place them in another shallow dish (a cake pan works well).You'll want the crackers crushed well but not too fine like bread crumbs the bigger pieces give the steak a good crunch... like this:


Greer_2011_29



Once the steaks are all seasoned and your crackers and eggs are all set up - you're ready to start dipping. Mom uses a fork to dip each steak, both sides, in the egg mixture


Greer_2011_40



Move the steak around a bit in the egg to ensure it gets a nice coat


Greer_2011_30



Then put the steak in the cracker crumbs. Use your fork to press the steak into the crumbs so they stick well


Greer_2011_31



Flip it over and cover the other side


Greer_2011_33



Once you have a nice coating of crumbs on both sides like this:


Greer_2011_34



You'll want to use the back end of a cup (or your fist) to really pound the crackers into the meat.


Greer_2011_37



This is another really important step - you really pound both sides into the crackers - this flattens out the steak and gets the cracker crumbs deeply embedded into the steak, the texture just isn't the same if you don't do it.



Greer_2011_38



Once the steak is about twice it's original size, you can start laying them out on a cookie sheet until you've gotten them all covered with egg and crackers.



Greer_2011_42



Heat some oil in a skillet (mom prefers cast iron) and let it get nice and warm before you add the steaks. Cook them 1-2 at a time



Greer_2011_45



Until each side is nice and golden brown


Greer_2011_46



It's nice to have another cookie sheet prepared to place the finished steaks on


Greer_2011_47



Once a few are done you can just pop them into a warm oven to keep them nice and toasty until you can finish cooking them all and make the gravy.


Greer_2011_50



Gravy?! Yes, gravy... you can't make Chicken Fried Steak without gravy. When you're done cooking the steaks, keep the oil and crispy cracker crumbs in the pan.


Greer_2011_52



add about 3 heaping Tbsp. flour


Greer_2011_53



whisk it together with the warm oil to make a rue. Let the oil heat back up and get thick and bubbly. Letting it cook for a minute allows the flour flavor to cook out so you don't end up with flour tasting gravy.


Greer_2011_55



Once the rue has heated, blended and thickened up for a bit, add about 1 heaping Tbsp. bullion (mom uses chicken) and whisk it in.


Greer_2011_57



Next, you'll add a few cups of milk (mom ended up using about 1/2 gallon to make gravy in the two cast iron skillets she was using). Once again, whisk it together well, and cook it on medium heat until it thickens. It's best to start out with a little less milk than you think you'll need because you can always add a little more to thin it out if it becomes too thick. If it does end up a little runny just let it cook longer and it should thicken up a bit.


Greer_2011_58



Add salt and pepper to taste, though it won't need much salt since you already added bullion.


Greer_2011_59



And that's it! Now just serve with mashed potatoes and veggies and let your husband and kids thank you by doing the dishes :)


Greer_2011_60






*Mom's tips:


Most packages contain two steaks which you will cut in half making four steaks. I make one for each person plus a few extra for bigger eaters and leftovers.




I cooked this meal for 11 and it took 1 box of saltines and about 4 eggs to cover all the steaks.