Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I am a Bette

My friend Cara had this quiz on her blog and I decided to "pass it on" - it is only two questions, but they dig deep into your psyche. Okay, maybe not really deep, but as much as I hate to admit it, they got most of it right...

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz ...

You Are a Bette!

You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me
* Stand up for yourself... and me.
* Be confident, strong, and direct.
* Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.
* Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.
* Give me space to be alone.
* Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.
* I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.
* When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a Bette
* being independent and self-reliant
* being able to take charge and meet challenges head on
* being courageous, straightforward, and honest
* getting all the enjoyment I can out of life
* supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me
* upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a Bette
* overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to
* being restless and impatient with others' incompetence
* sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it
* never forgetting injuries or injustices
* putting too much pressure on myself
* getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

Bettes as Children Often
* are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit
* are sometimes loners
* seize control so they won't be controlled
* figure out others' weaknesses
* attack verbally or physically when provoked
* take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

Bettes as Parents
* are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted
* are sometimes overprotective
* can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What we eat in the Crosley household

I have been reading everyone else's blogs about their favorite holiday dishes. I say "holiday" only because I am lumping Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years' together - NOT because I am a Happy Holidays person. I am a Merry Christmas person, but I digress! Everyone's dishes look great and yummy!

We eat out on Thanksgiving (mostly on Christmas too unless we have company). New Years is mostly snackie foods. I am not sure we eat a real meal unless we eat out. There is a pattern to our lives and it involves restaurants. The reason for this is my picky family. I am not picky. I will try anything...at least once. Usually I like it. My husband eats meat and starch and doesn't really even like them cooked together, so casseroles are out. My daughter takes after her father. She usually will like something once she gets the nerve to try it, but that takes a long, long, long time. She does eat better for other people I am told. When we eat out, we all get what we want. I get variety and they get sameness.

We also love to have people over, but I am not one who likes to stay in the kitchen while everyone mingles. I don't like missing anything. All my friends know I am not fancy, but my food is very good. I like simple, easy, and recreatable foods.

Here are some of my standards (any of these can be made more difficult by making ingredients homemade, if you prefer!):

Frozen meatballs are a must - you can use them with brown gravy mix and rice for a hearty meal that brings comfort. It is also very easy to make for a crowd. My friend, Pete, calls this meal "Grandma's secret recipe". You can also just add some spaghetti sauce for meatball subs on hoagie rolls with cheese. Meatballs with the brown gravy mix is also great for an appetizer for a party.

I will also use Au Jus mix and buy deli roast beef for french dips with a little provolone - Yum and easy!

Monkey bread is the easiest - Take 4 tubes of refrigerator rolls (I use the cheap ones that already come in a 4 pack), cut the rolls into quarters (I use scissors) and drop them into a gallon size ziploc bag with sugar and cinnamon (no measuring, I use waaaay more cinnamon than any recipe I have ever read calls for). Mix as you drop coating each piece with sugar mixture. As bag fills empty into a greased bundt pan (I do pull them out individually or in groups, don't pour or you waste a lot of sugar). When finished, in a saucepan melt 1 stick butter and rest of sugar mixture (plus enough more sugar/cinnamon to make approx. 1 cup). Pour this over the bundt pan pieces and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Invert on a plate and serve with some caramel topping on the side. You could probably make it pretty by adding something in the middle of the cake to put the caramel topping in, but I don't. It usually gets eaten too fast to make it worth my while.

For a lot of bonus points and that "look like you spent a lot of time, but didn't" category - Easy Caprese Salad. I cut a tub of cherry tomatoes in half, cut 12 mozzarella string cheese into little circles (basically dice them), add some basil (I do use fresh and I do cut chiffonade style (but they now have some freeze dried basil which works as well). I just add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and more than a little balsamic vinegar. I have been tempted to try reducing the vinegar to make it thicker and sweeter, but haven't gotten that far yet. Again, it is usually gone fast in this house! It is Shane's favorite. It tastes better once it sits in the fridge for a few hours, but again, sometimes it doesn't make it that long.

Chili's makes a queso dip which is really quite tasty. I have broken it down into its basics and make it at home (another great party dip). I take half a brick of velveeta (or similar cheese food stuff) and a can of hormel chili no beans. Melt in the microwave or on the stovetop. YUMMY and you would be hardpressed to tell the difference between mine and Chili's.

A friend of mine used to bring a recipe to our potlucks. It was a side dish, but we use it for a main dish. It is a bean/meat dish. I used to have a recipe, now I just wing it. Hers is much better, but mine is pretty good. Take a pound of ground beef and brown/drain/etc (I add onion powder because I like the taste and my husband hates onions). Add 1 large can baked beans (any kind) and approx 3/4 cup barbecue sauce. Stir, cook for a few minutes on the stove then add to a baking dish. Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with shredded cheese. Makes a great meal or bring as a side and impress for less (time, that is).

We do eat vegetables, but mostly in salad form and we do like our salads with homemade dressing and predressed. This sounds difficult, but really isn't. I use the basic italian mix with the little cruet that comes with the mixes. If I want a more Asian feel, I use soy sauce or teriyaki sauce instead of all vinegar. If we want a more fruity taste, I use raspberry or red wine vinegar. For most of our salads we like balsamic vinegar. I have also used, with great success, Pampered Chef seasons instead of the mix. I use all sorts of vegetables and I always use Romaine lettuce - it is easy to cut!

I also like sauteing fresh green beans with some garlic (I say some, I mean a lot!) and lemons for a yummy side dish. I am the only one who eats this one, so I don't make it much.

Quesadillas are also a staple. I make them individually on the griddle to crisp both sides and I will add chicken, steak, or bacon to mix it up a bit! WHEE!

This is just a glimpse into the food portion of our very unorthodox life! If you have any easy dishes you make - send them my way!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Babysitter and the Real Deal

Shane and I have birthdays 4 days apart. We have almost always taken a day or two during the closest weekend to both birthdays. This year, we didn't have a sitter (or a friend or family member) who could watch Lauren. I did some research on the internet and apparently there is a market for babysitters! There are numerous sites who, for a small fee, will locate a sitter near you. I found one that had reviews of sitters, background checks, etc. Everything the good parent who is leaving their child in the hands of a stranger should know.

Lauren has always been wonderful about being left with strangers. For all her many, many, many fears about life in general, she is not afraid of people (who in my opinion are waaaay scarier than any roller coaster Disney can dream up!). I posted an ad on the site and got a response from my biggest nightmare. Basically, she "applied" for the job with no references, nothing about how long she has worked with children, nothing about anything - just "I can do it". Okay, the cheapest sitter we found was charging $10/hour. I have one child who is beyond needing anything really other than a companion. For $10/hour, I expect a full on resume with citations and referrals. I had signed up for the free trial to post a listing. However, to read the listing I had to pay for a membership to the site. After that response, I took matters into my own hands and went through the site looking specifically for what I wanted. I found someone who sounded wonderful (good reviews from previous clients, no criminal history...)!! I emailed her and thankfully, she had a cancellation for Saturday night and was willing to come over for $12/hour. I was a little skeptical, but Shane and I wanted to get out.

I told Lauren to keep her phone in my bedroom, so if Ms. Mina was weird (I didn't give specifics, but...) to call us and we would come right home. Ms. Mina came over and she was the cutest thing on the planet! She was 22 and just talked, talked, talked! She met Lauren and they decided to make cupcakes (yay, me! I hate doing that sort of stuff!) and got started even before Shane and I were out the door. We said we would be home somewhere between 9pm and midnight. (Keeps 'em guessing)

Shane and I decided to try out the Real Deal. It is a poker game show at the Venetian. Shane's buddy, Daniel, was hosting and Scotty Nguyen and Jennifer Harmon were the guest players. It really was a pretty fun show. There were lots of chances to win good prizes and lots of chances to win bad prizes. They chose 6 people from the audience to play up on stage with Jennifer and Scotty and the rest of us had little computers in front of us to "play along". It is very confusing to explain, but once there it was easy to grasp. Shane's big mistake from the get go was to actually treat it like poker. As an audience member, you pretty much have to see every flop regardless of start hand. It is entertainment, not poker. They really packed a lot into the hour and half allotted for the show and it didn't feel rushed. I ended up winning a prize package for randomly choosing a set (three of a kind), from a deck of 52 cards. A long sleeve Real Deal shirt - cool!

Since, we hadn't heard from Lauren we decided to eat and then play some poker at Treasure Island. No big wins or anything, but we had fun (playing at different tables, of course - Shane and I date differently than most...)

We went home around 11:00 - that's $84, for those of you keeping track! Lauren was almost asleep upstairs on the couch and Mina was playing Rock Band. Apparently, both were playing Rock Band, but Lauren got tired and just wanted to watch Mina play. She does that. There were tons of cupcakes on the counter ready to be frosted. They had a blast together! I will most likely be calling her again, budget permitting!

Principal's Award

Lauren had an award's assembly on Monday. She didn't know what she was getting an award for or even what the assembly was about. But, she knew she was getting something since her teacher asked her how to spell her last name. (Don't even get me started...) Sue and Big Chaz were here for the "big day".

The assembly turned out to be for academic success in the first trimester for her track. She is in a year round school and there are 5 tracks which alternate breaks throughout the year.

Lauren gave us strict instructions - we were not to scream when her name was called, we were not to embarrass her in any way, shape, or form. In fact, if it was possible for us to pretend we just happened by the school and thought we would stop to see what was going on, that would pretty much be ideal. Okay, so I am paraphrasing a tad, but not too much!

She has a "posse" of friends. There are 4 of them who hang out at school together and then one of them lives right near us. I will butcher the spellings of their names, but here goes - Raquel, Katora (pronounced Kay-tora), Bailey (near by neighbor), and Lauren. We were told to cheer for them when their names were called and if they liked it, we could cheer a little for Lauren when her name was called.

When it came time for her 5th grade class - Lauren was the first one called up. It was for the prestigious "Principal's Award". Basically, a citizenship award, but only one person in each class could get it. It is kind of a big deal, so I was told later. She also got a certificate for A Honor Roll - getting all A's on her report card. Which, let me tell you, these days, is very difficult to get! I remember when I was in grade school - it was pretty much a cake walk. You show up, you try, you get an "A". It is definitely not so easy now. The standards have been raised and I am hoping she doesn't feel the pressure! Straight A's through her elementary career may affect what college she gets into!

Anyway, I digress...here are some pictures...
Part of the posse (I really am not certain who is who)
Lauren's class

We didn't listen and cheered for everyone (possibly even loud enough for others to hear)! And, poor Lauren, when her name was called, she stood, stumbled, tried to take a step, stumbled, walked up, stumbled. Apparently, her foot fell asleep. I am grateful to have a child who can shake it off. Her teacher explained why she was stumbling to the crowd and, well, who hasn't had that happen to them.... She is definitely my child - full of grace!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thanksgiving in Nevada

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Lauren left this message for us when we woke up on Thanksgiving. Alex may have helped her hang it...

We decided to go to Primm, NV for Thanksgiving dinner. There was an interactive log ride where you can shoot things as you ride. Sounded fun. Primm is about 35 minutes from our house. A really quick drive down I-15 South. We headed down around noonish, through the rain, to Buffalo Bill's casino. We saw a roller coaster when we got there which normally would have brought joy and excitement to some of us. But, if you remember, we drove through the rain. Bummer, no coaster. We went to see about tickets for the log ride, where the sign said "Log ride guns are temporarily not working". WHAT???? None of us wanted to do a Lazy river ride, which is what it would have amounted to without guns! So, we ate at the buffet.

It was okay. Lots of traditional Thanksgiving stuffs.

Afterwards, we hit the arcade. It wasn't too exciting for us - some of the games just ate quarters - FUN!! Shane played Galaga, a favorite of his from years back, and the fire button was stuck. We did race motorcycles and then hit the dance, dance revolution game. Shane and Lauren went first - Shane really kicks hiney at that game. Then, Alex and I did it. We each danced 3 songs. Shane and Lauren thought it would be really funny to have us go expert on the last dance. I think I worked off lunch - it was manic. I really do not know how kids do it!

We were going to hit the outlet mall right there, but Alex wanted to hit the outlets on Black Friday. The outlets in Vegas (and Primm) were going to start their sales at midnight. Alex said she hadn't been part of shopping on Black Friday, so I said Lauren and I would go with her. This was Lauren just before we left...

We left around 11:45 to get to the stores just north of us on I-15. There was a huge backup on the interstate. When we finally got to the off ramp, there were lines in every direction to the mall. We drove around the mall and it was absolutely packed! We decided to forgo shopping and go home as neither of us like people enough to want to shop with them. :-) It took us nearly 2 hours to get to the mall and back without stopping (normally, a 45 minute round trip at most). Bummer!

Eating contest...

Shane and Lauren had an eating contest the other night. The background on this "family tradition" goes back to Shane's cousin, Amanda's, wedding. Shane and his cousin, Sean (Alex's brother), decided to bring a little fun to our table at the rehearsal dinner. Another tradition in our family is that everyone in the family (regardless of whether or not they are in the wedding) get to come to the rehearsal dinner. I think Shane and I may have started it.... Anyway, Shane and Sean decided they each had to eat everything that was served - this included the vegetables (which neither was too excited about)! Sean is built like Shane (tall and slender - he hates being called skinny!). The prize for the winner was the loser had to be the winner's slave the next day as we all got to enjoy the sights of Houston before the evening wedding. It came down to the dessert (the "speed round") - shoving cheesecake down as fast as you could and swallowing. If any part of dinner came back to haunt, the game was lost. Shane ended up winning by a smidgen. Sean put up a good fight, but had to spend the next day with us at numerous museums (Children's and Natural History are two I remember).

So, back to Shane and Lauren. We went to IHOP for dinner with Alex on one of her last nights here in Vegas before she left for a 6 month Texas trip. Shane prefaced his order with "I am going to order a lot of food" to the waiter. He did - 3 egg omelet (bacon, tomatoes, cheese), side of hasbrowns, and not just the regular pancake side, but the NEW! Butterscotch Rocks Pancakes:

Four fluffy buttermilk pancakes filled with
pecans, granola and butterscotch chips,
then topped with whipped topping and
drizzled with caramel sauce

Lauren ordered a regular kids meal with chicken strips. Both are notoriously famous for not finishing their meals anyway. Somewhere in the middle of the meal, the gauntlet was thrown and both were made to finish their meals. Both of them actually did finish. Not wanting a tie, we were looking for a tie breaker. I had not eaten my eggs (over hard, so no runnyness or anything). Alex and I thought the only fair thing to do would be to split the egg 3/4 and 1/4 for the speed round since Lauren is roughly 1/4 Shane's weight. Shane cut his egg up into quarters and shoved them all in at once. Lauren went for the more delicate nibble. As Alex and I yelled at Lauren to shove the whole egg in, she became more into the race aspect! She lost by a little bit.

Shane regretted the contest all night as he was very close to losing on a technicality of not keeping dinner down. Lauren spent all night right by his side trying to "help" him lose. We all also found out Lauren is a very bad loser. She didn't want to be his slave because she wanted to win and have him be her slave. She did a few things grudgingly, but all in all will not be asked to be part of any more contests until her attitude can change about losing....

Monday, December 1, 2008


We went to the Jonas Brothers concert on Saturday, November 29 as a surprise for Lauren (part of her Christmas present). It was fun, except for our seating. I was incredibly disappointed that we were in the nosebleeds. We belong to the fan club and they let fan club members get seats earlier than the general public. Shane was on getting seats the minute they opened the ticket sales and we still got nosebleed as "best available". We were willing to pay for "best available" knowing how much our dear daughter LOVES the JoBros! It wasn't as though the venue was packed either. There were a good many seats open (maybe they were MGM seats given to middle aged high rollers who had no intention of seeing Nick, Joe, and Kevin run around on stage). My opinion is if I am paying for a membership for a fan club, I should be treated a little better than someone who is just playing slots or whatnot at the casino. I don't know what part of this the Jonas Brothers themselves had in the decision, but from what they show on Disney Channel, these boys pretty much have their hand in everything.

Anyway, enough of my rant....

The concert was awesome!!! Honor Society (another boy band) opened up with 4 songs, I think and were really pretty good. We rated them after their performance and they averaged 3 stars out of 5. Demi Lovato was next. She got 3.5 stars - Lauren really likes her. I love her voice, but her delivery and stage presence is still a work in progress. I liked it most when she was sitting at the piano singing. Lauren liked when she was all over the place! Before the Jonas Brothers came out, Lauren said there was no need to even rate them after - she gives them 10 stars out of 5! Cute!

The boys really put on a great show! They include the audience, they play with stage toys, they really look as though they are having fun up there. Lauren is now more in love with Nick than before! She calls herself "the future Mrs. Nick Jonas".

Here is the Smilebox of the concert...

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