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Friday, January 30, 2009

Mexican it up

My dinner the other night got a nine.. The recipe was just called “Cheesy Beans and Rice.” How could such a simple dish get such a stellar rating? I’ll tell you the secret to giving any food, entrĂ©e or meal a boost—Mexican it up!

The recipe called for red beans, white rice, tomatoes and cheese.

I subbed all that for black beans, brown rice, Rotel and shredded Mexican cheese. And of course I added Cumin (even though it smells like body odor). That is the most important part of Mexicaning something up—the Cumin. And if you like your Mexican food hot, you gotta add crushed red pepper.

Other ingredients that are great for Mexicaning things up include avocado, salsa, peppers, sour cream, crushed up Tostitos. Mexican food has the best ingredients! Just think of all the kinds of foods that are better when you Mexican them:

Lasagna becomes Mexican lasagna.
Pizza becomes Mexican pizza.
A regular salad becomes a taco salad.
A sandwich becomes a Mexican sandwich (by wrapping it in a tortilla)

And cheesy beans and rice becomes “Elsa’s Mexican cheesy beans and rice.”

Trust me. You could improve your food by at least two, sometimes up to three rating points by Mexicaning it up. I shared this theory with Frank on the night I received the nine:

“Everything is better when it’s Mexican,” I said. “Pizza, lasagna, salads…”

“Dogs,” he added.


“You know, like Chihuahuas.”

Okay, so that wasn’t exactly where I was going with that but that did give me a good idea: Mexican hot dogs! You take a hot dog, wrap it in a tortilla, add salsa, sour cream and avocado. Yum!

That’s it. I’ve decided that Mexican people are brilliant. Not only did they invent all this great food but they also came up with margaritas and siestas. We’ll forgive them for the Macarena.

Leo’s been here nine months

That’s as long as it took for him to cook inside my belly!

Here is what Leo’s into:

Not sitting still in his chair while having his nine month picture taken:

But he’s also into:

Pulling up to standing (on furniture, on people’s legs, on two-year-olds)
Grabbing everything
Doors—shutting them, specifically
Banging on things
Chasing and being chased
“Big-time” Peekaboo (where the person actually leaves the room or hides behind furniture and then pops out…none of this hiding under a burp cloth anymore). His Leo music CD
Eating—in addition to mushy fruits and veggies, Leo eats cheerios, Puffs, avocado and bananas. He likes EVERYTHING! I can even make up the weirdest combinations and he’ll eat ‘em—carrots and bananas—yum! Green beans and applesauce—give me more! Squash and pears—yes, sir!
Mommy and daddy—he definitely prefers us over other people but will usually go to most women (unfamiliar men, beware!)
Being totally freakin’ adorable

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Mommy Show in the Garage

Yesterday it was rainy, cold and generally yucky. What are a stir-crazy baby and a mommy in need of exercise supposed to do?
Hang out in the garage, of course!
Leo watched me as I...
...jump roped and hula hooped.
I thought we were safe from neighbors driving by because it was about 4:30 in the afternoon so everyone should still be at work. Apparently, nobody works anymore. Plenty of people drove by and saw us looking foolish. Just another thing to blame on the economy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Elsa's been here 32 years

Stealing an idea from my expanding blog, I thought I'd give you an update on me (but don't worry, this won't be every month as my interests don't usually change):
Here's what I'm into:
  • Hanging out with Frank and Leo
  • Eating
  • Cooking
  • Drinking wine
  • Conversing
  • Telling stories
  • Writing stories
  • Blogging
  • Daydreaming
  • Reading US Weekly
  • Watching HGTV
  • Spinning
  • Taking Back my Cart

Wow, aside from taking back my cart, everything I do is pretty selfish. I guess I could consider blogging charitable. And if you're reading this, consider yourself a recipient. You're welcome. Still, I'll work on some more admirable stuff for the 33 year blog.

Splish Splash

Unlike his mom as a kid, Leo seems to enjoy bath time (even on Fridays). This week he ventured into deeper waters by graduating from the baby bath tub to the big boy bath tub. (Okay, the water is still only up to his ankles):

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Come and Get Me!"

"If I stand here at the edge of my crib and look really cute, somebody will walk through that door and pick me up. It's like magic!"

"Yea! Here's mommy! It works every time!"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sleep Sitting

It's 1:25 am. I don't usually blog at this hour because Leo is normally an excellent nighttime sleeper. And I can't say that tonight is any different. I'm not up because Leo isn't sleeping. I'm up because Leo IS sleeping. He's just doing it sitting up.

11:34pm--Leo makes a sound on the monitor that wakes me up. I glance at the monitor and see that he is sitting up in his crib. We have one of those new fangled video monitors. "Go back to sleep," I tell the baby in the monitor.

From 11:34 until 12:00am I drift in and out of sleep, holding the monitor. Leo is still sitting up all this time but he's clearly sleeping. He's done this once before but it didn't last this long.

Then I have this crazy dream about working at an ad agency except it's at the office of where Jeremy Piven works on Entourage. In this dream I started out as an intern and quickly moved up the ranks. Then one day I'm yelling at someone and this co-worker of mine says, "Hey, when did you become an 80-year-old drill sergeant?" And I realize I've become a jerk. And then I wake up.

I glance at the monitor. Leo is still sitting up. I glance at the clock. 1:04am. Oh, shoot. Has this kid been sleeping sitting up for an hour and a half?

I ask this question aloud to Frank who answers, "I'm really out of it with this floaty medicine." (This is what he calls Nyquil or Nitetime which is the generic Kroger stuff we bought. Lucky him. I wish I was on floaty meds.)

"I think I'm going to push him down," I tell Floaty Frank.

"But what if you didn't have the video monitor? You would just think he was sleeping," Frank says, which surprisingly made a lot of sense for a man who was in a medically-induced float.

So I came up here to the computer to Google "Baby + Sleeping Sitting Up" and I really haven't found much on the subject. Our baby is a freak of nature.

Oh, and as I've been writing this he laid back down. So I guess if any other parents are up in the middle of the night and Googling the same thing, they might find this blog. So I'll just say this: Give it about two hours and your kid may just lay down.

I don't have any pics to accompany this blog posting since I don't dare take his picture while he's sleeping sitting up. So I'll just find another picture where he's sitting up...

There. He looks just like this except his eyes are closed:

Good night. I'm going to lie down now. Or maybe I'll just sleep right here in my desk chair.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Speaking of fun...

Since Leo is mobile now we put up a partition/gate across half of my office. Behind the gate is a slew of baby toys--his rocking horse, the jumperoo, his drum and instrument set, Edison the talking catepillar, rattles, the kick and crawl aquarium, a toy cell phone, a singing book...

So I try to put Leo in here and if I stay with him, he plays with all of these things just fine:

As soon as I go to the other side to work on Writinggal stuff, he crawls right up to the gate and requests to be set free:

Aw, how can I resist that pathetic look?

Rockin' Shrimp Surprise--Revived!

The other day my MIL Joanne called and left me this message: "Hi, Elsa. I'm at the grocery store and I want to make your rockin' shrimp dish but I don't have the recipe with me and I can't remember what all goes in it. Will you call me and tell me?"

When I got the message this is what I thought: "What in the world is she talking about? Rockin' shrimp recipe? I don't have any of my own recipes. Sure, I've made a few things with the word "surprise" at the end but not anything that someone would want to make. And I don't think I would ever call anything "rockin'." Oh, I bet she's got me mixed up with Hungry Girl. She always puts "rockin'" in front of her recipes. I will have to explain to her that I'm Cookinggal, not Hungry Girl. I have no recipes worth sharing."

So I called and told her this but she insisted that it was me and that I did indeed have a rockin' shrimp recipe that I once wrote about on this blog. So I looked it up and you know what? She was right. I DO have a rockin' shrimp recipe. It's called Elsa's Rockin' Shrimp Surprise and I wrote about it in my first Cookinggal blog way back in 2005.

Now there wasn't an actual recipe on the blog but I used context clues to recreate it yesterday:

And now that I'm more experienced in the kitchen I made it even more rockin'. I added crushed red pepper, garlic and olive oil. When I made it back in 2005 we didn't have the Frank rating system in place yet so I don't have anything to compare it to BUT I must admit I was quite pleased when Frank gave it a nine!

Here's the basic recipe (don't ask me for exacts; this is not baking):

1 box of whole wheat rotini pasta

About a half a bag of frozen cooked shrimp, tail off, thawed

About 3/4 of a jar of Ragu sauce (I used chunky vegetable)

A lot of Ricotta (not the whole tub but at least 3/4 of an 8 oz tub)

Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper

Directions: Cook pasta; add shrimp, Ragu and ricotta. Stir. Keep adding R&R until it seems balanced. Add spices and olive oil. Stir some more. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle MJ cheese on top. Bake for 30 min. at 350.

I think it would also be good with mushrooms but since Frank doesn't like them I would have had to sacrifice my high rating.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Lone Belt

I went to a jewelry party a couple of months ago and while admiring (but not planning on buying) the selections, a woman next to me said, "I don't really care about jewelry, I just like belts."

"Yes, belts are great," I said. I wasn't lying. Belts ARE great. But then I thought about my own belt collection. It didn't take me long: there's the black one I got from Express a few years ago...and then there's...

That's it.

That's when I realized:

I only have ONE belt! I got it like nine years ago. It's sort of falling apart. But it's the only one I've got.

How sad is that?

Looking back, I'm not sure how this happened. There was a definitely a time in my life when I had at least three, maybe four belts. But I guess 50% of those were braided so I had to get rid of them.

Then between the years 2003 and 2005 I'm pretty sure I stopped wearing belts. I think I decided they were out of style. Were they? Or did I just make that up?

After that I think I was down to two--the black one I currently own and a brown one. The problem was that the brown one had a gold buckle so it didn't really go with anything. I guess I threw it out.

Every now and then I've searched for a brown belt with a silver buckle but that's actually really hard to find.

I've probably been surviving on one belt for at least three years now.

I'm not posting this so that people will send me belts or gift cards to Target (which surprisingly has a pretty nice selection). I'm just trying to sort out my own belt history so I can determine how I wound up in this situation.

I guess with the economy the way it is I should be grateful to even have one belt...and with all the oversized portions and my sedentary job, grateful that the belt still fits.

And now, I leave you with a picture of my belt (and hopefully you read the whole blog and therefore understand I'm not randomly posting a crotch shot):

Leo does too have fun

Here is a conversation we overheard from the row behind us at church on Sunday. It was a little girl (probably about four), asking her grandmother questions about Leo, who was sitting quietly in his car seat, playing with a rattle:

“Grandma, why does that baby have a toy?”

“Because babies like toys.”

“Why is he sitting in that seat?”

“Because babies sit in car seats sometimes.”

“Where does he sleep?”

“In a crib.”

“Can he walk?” “No. He probably can’t even crawl.”

“So he can't walk?”


“Then how does he have any fun?”

At that point I couldn’t pretend to keep looking forward with a straight face. I had to laugh. If Leo could talk he would say, "I have plenty of fun!"

Playing bongos with John:

Playing with the pop-up animals with John:

Chillin' with Dawson and Hunter:

Wondering if Dawson is a toy or a person:

"Sharing" toys with Dawson:

And sometimes he has fun hanging out by himself:

Or the most fun, hanging out naked:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Siamese Strawberry

I wonder if I could sell this on eBay, although I probably couldn't get as much as the girl who sold the frosted flake shaped like Texas.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Need a confidence boost? Go see my hairdresser.

I used to be really delinquent about getting my hair cut. Not anymore. I go every three months whether I need to or not. And it's not because my hairdresser, Tina, is the only person who can cut my hair. It's because she majorly boosts my self esteem.

From the minute I walk in there it's compliment after compliment. The following are all actual words that she said on my last visit:

"Oh, girl. You look amazing!" (This was followed by a hug.)
"I can't believe you had a baby!"
"You are so funny."
"Oh, I just love you."
"You're hilarious."
"Your hair is so...
"I bet they're so glad to have you back at the Y."
"Your family was in town for the holidays? Oh, I bet they just love you. I mean, how could anyone not love you?"
"You look so good even though you're not wearing make-up."
"You're in such great shape."

Did I mention the whole hair cut only takes about twenty minutes, including shampoo and blow dry? That's a lot of compliments to fit into that short amount of time.

But wait. There's more:

After the haircut:
"You look gorgeous. I mean, you looked gorgeous before but now you look really gorgeous." (Followed by another hug.)

When Frank and Leo came to pick me up, she had, naturally, lots of compliments for Leo but when Frank was out of earshot she said, "Your husband is so good looking. You both are. You go great together!"

After paying for the hair cut (and the overpriced hair product she suggested), I left feeling like some sort of super model...until I heard her greet her next client:

"Oh, girl. You look amazing!"

Back on the Horse

At first Leo wasn't sure what to think of the rocking horse he got from his godparents, Tia Kristin and Uncle David:

Another encounter with a stuffed horse this weekend left us thinking that maybe he had something against horses in general:

But now, I am happy to report that he has been on his rocking horse for about 15 minutes, playing and giggling. We have to go somewhere in a couple of hours, I might have to pry him away:

Monday, January 05, 2009


Leo was showing all the signs of being ready for finger foods like “O Shaped Cereals” (as the BabyCenter emails call them): he sits upright by himself, crawls, puts everything in his mouth… But when we put the O shaped substance in front of him, he looked confused, even a little angry.

We tried spoon feeding him one but he spit it out as if it were the grossest thing he’d ever tasted. This is coming from a boy who will eat carrots mixed with oatmeal mixed with milk mixed with vitamins mixed with pears.

We will keep trying. I mean, he eventually liked apples.