Mary Poppins, Mrs. Doubtfire, and SuperNanny All in One

Tomorrow is my first official day as a nanny.  I’ve agreed to watch an eleven month old for another Navy family.

Part of me is excited to be working (ish) again, and bringing in some moola (which I’ve already started spending in my head), and spending time with a great kid and a great family.

Part of me is concerned this may kill my dream of motherhood and show me once and for all that I don’t have the patience to be a stay-at-home mom.

Part of me is nervous that my house is going to become a mess and we’re going to be reduced to eating frozen pizza most nights.

Part of me is looking forward to scouring Pinterest for the latest toddler projects, going to storytime at the library, and finding local activities and playdates to fill our days.

Part of me is dreading babysitting a child who is about to enter toddlerhood – that special time when children crave independence and autonomy, yet lack communication skills, concern for their own safety, and almost any and all decision-making abilities.

Part of me is trying to decide if an eleven month old would enjoy watching Downton Abbey with me.

Pray for me.

Oven Tacos

These were a major win!  You can make the filling in advance and freeze it, or you can prep it fairly quickly on the night you want to serve these.  I used the “Stand and Stuff” type of hard taco shells to make it easier to assemble them in the casserole dish.  (This makes a large amount of taco filling, so I froze half and only made about 9 tacos the first time around.)  You can barely taste the refried beans, and they really bulk up the meal; two tacos were enough dinner for me.

Ingredients

– 2 lbs ground beef, chicken, or turkey
– 1 small onion, diced
– 1 small can diced green chilies
– 1 packet taco seasoning
– 1 (8oz) can low sodium tomato sauce
– 1 (16oz) can fat-free refried beans
– 2 cups shredded cheddar, colby jack, or Mexican cheese
– 18-20 hard taco shells

Optional Toppings: shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, avocado or guac, salsa, sour cream

Directions: In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onion over medium-high heat. Drain off any excess liquid. Return to pan, add chilies, refried beans, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning. Mix well and cook for a few minutes if mixture seems runny.

Spoon the taco meat mixture into the taco shells and place into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, standing up. Sprinkle cheese over the top of the taco meat in each shell. Place into the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tacos are heated through.  Remove from the oven and top with any optional condiments for serving.

Film Notes: Frozen, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years

Frozen
NavyGuy and I went (slightly tipsy after a dinner out in downtown Anacortes) to see the latest Disney “princess movie.”  Highly enjoyable – and I believe I’d say that had I seen it stone cold sober.  The film felt like the Disney classics of my youth (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), with delightful female characters, inanimate objects singing and being funny, lots of sing-along music, etc.  Obviously when you get Idina Menzel (Broadway’s original Elphaba in Wicked) to voice one of the princesses, you’re in for a treat.  Loved the sisters solving their own problems in the end, and not *needing* boys to save them… but still had some happily ever after magic to tie everything up nicely.  Will definitely own this one.  Might also spring for the soundtrack 😉

Saving Mr. Banks
Mary Poppins was a bitch!  No, but essentially the premise of the movie is that P.L. Travers, the author of the flying nanny books, was *particular* to put it nicely, and gave Walt Disney hell in the process of him trying to acquire the rights to the character and story of Mary Poppins.  Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are perfection per usual, but I was surprised by how long it took for me to have any sympathy for Travers.  The film is lots of flashbacks to Travers’ youth in Australia, with an alcoholic father (Colin Farrell… who is now a good actor???), interspersed into the process of Travers working with Disney scriptwriters and composers to create the Mary Poppins we all know today.  Make sure to stay for the credits, where they show lots of real life pictures of the actual folks, and play audio selections from the actual tape recordings of Travers and the Disney people arguing over the script – priceless.

12 Years a Slave
Solomon Northrup is a free black man in the North in 1840.  Under dubious pretenses, he is captured, taken south, and forced to spend twelve years a slave.  Not for the weak stomached, the film is not exceedingly graphic (like I found Django Unchained to be), but it does not skimp on the nightmare that was slavery in America.  I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, as well as several of the actors and actresses in it, but it’s definitely one of those movies that you’re ok seeing once… and probably never again.

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Polar Vortex

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(Ice crystals on the frozen windows)

Of course we had to be in Wisconsin for the 2014 Polar Vortex.  This is the type of travel “luck” that NavyGuy and I experience.   A once-in-a-century type frigid blast, straight from the North Pole.  On the plus side, my mom got two days off of school for the cold, so we got more quality time with her!  The cars have also been behaving (knock on wood), and it has reminded me how fortunate I am to live in Anacortes, where winter consists of little more grey and temperatures in the low 30s.  Actual temperatures on January 6, 2014 in Fond du Lac were below zero, with the wind chill estimates at -35 to -50.

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Christmas in Chicago

Our first half of Christmas vacation was spent in Madison with NavyGuy’s family.  Then we traveled to Fond du Lac to see my family.  My sister and brother-in-law live in Chicago, so we also added a weekend trip to celebrate Christmas with them.

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Mom received a new camera from Sis and I, so we played with the fish eye photo option.

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Among other goodies, Sister gifted NavyGuy and I with a miniature portrait ornament!  Recognize that silly little black lab?  Sister sent a photo of Tally to an Etsy seller who paints little pictures.  There’s also a magnet on the back so I can have it out year round.

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New flannel paw print jammies for Sister from Mom.  Puggle niece Lucy is the best accessory for any outfit.

DSC_0403She is also a champion kisser 😉

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The gang’s all here!  We had a delicious brunch out on Sunday morning and then a highly disappointing football afternoon… (the poor Packers got beat by the evil 49ers once again… I really really hope Colin Kapernick got frostbite from the game).

 

 

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New Years’ Eve

We typically celebrate New Years’ Eve with NavyGuy’s parents, because December 31st is his mom’s birthday.  There is a set menu and a usual progression of events:  champagne, appetizers, champagne, lobster, asparagus, baked potatoes, champagne, birthday dessert, and more champagne.  Bubbles are my absolute favorite adult beverage, so it works out well 🙂

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Sister-in-Law, NavyGuy, and myself take our annual “hold the live lobsters” photograph.  This was the first year that we don’t have any outtake photos of one of us shoving a live lobster in someone else’s face.

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NavyGuy switched to martinis early on.

Dinner was delicious, and for dessert, we dipped fruit and pound cake into chocolate fondue.  All five of us managed to stay awake until midnight to ring in the New Year.  That feat was partially accomplished because we were all getting fired up playing a new board game – Rock Me Archimedes.

It’s a strategy / logic game, sort of like labyrinth, but you play against someone.  I played one time, and schooled NavyGuy (after he had been undefeated).  With that, I went to bed satisfied, and ready to wake up to 2014.

Goodbye 2013

2013 was not my year.  Many moments and days are not ones I’d like to relive or even remember going forward.  Lots of challenges, many of which I did not feel like writing about.  There were some positive moments, but overall, I’m happy to turn the calendar page, and symbolically wipe the slate clean.  Start fresh.  Newness.

These are some of the moments I will choose to look back on fondly…

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Cheers to 2014!

 

 

Halloween and Thanksgiving Mantle-Scape

When I pulled out the fall decorations in the middle of September, I opted to leave most of the Halloween things in their respective rubbermaid container, and instead focus on more general fall decor that would last through Thanksgiving.  Now that the television is mounted above our fireplace in the livingroom, I have more room to play with the mantle.  For Halloween, I incorporated a Halloween banner from a Martha Stewart kit.

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The tall floral arrangements (well, “stick” arrangements) are new.  I grabbed a few sale floral options from Michael’s and two clearance vases and mashed together the arrangements.  Once Halloween had passed though, it was time for a more current banner.  A little Google, a little Pinterest, and I found this tutorial for a burlap pennant banner.  So, now our mantle is ready for the entire month of November!

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Unlike the tutorial, I chose to just use a black sharpie (instead of the suggested paint), because the burlap material I found at JoAnn’s was very porous.  The letters seem to show up dark enough on the burlap though, so I think it will be fine.  “Thankful” seemed like a great message to spread and reminder to have for the Thanksgiving season.

October Photo Dump

So clearly most of the previous month got away from me, blog-wise.  The fastest way to catch up is a simple picture post of the month’s highlights.  In general, lots of babysitting, gym time, Packer cheering, and Halloween-candy-sneaking 😉

Solemn Tally dreading the start of the rainy season

Solemn Tally dreading the start of the rainy season

 

Editing a parent album of wedding pics for my mom.  Found a great site that I'll share in a later post.

Editing a parent album of wedding pics for my mom. Found a great site that I’ll share in a later post.

 

Bellewoods Acres pumpkin patch in Bellingham.  Pumpkins, apple cider, and mini donuts.

Bellewoods Acres pumpkin patch in Bellingham. Pumpkins, apple cider, and mini donuts.

 

Car selfie after a haircut

Car selfie after a haircut

 

We reprised Mary Poppins and Bert for a friend's costume party

We reprised Mary Poppins and Bert for a friend’s costume party

 

Very intently watching football.  Green Bay Packer love knows no bounds in this house :)

Very intently watching football. Green Bay Packer love knows no bounds in this house 🙂

 

Tally's "Rufferee" Halloween costume

Tally’s “Rufferee” Halloween costume

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Mousse

I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie.  I always eat a small slice on Thanksgiving, because, well, it’s the rule, right?  It’s usually too dense and heavy.  I think I may have found a perfect pumpkin alternative:

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Pumpkin Mousse
(from Taste of Home)

– 1 1/2 cups cold milk
– 1 pkg butterscotch pudding (I had vanilla in the cupboard, so we used that instead)
– 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp ground ginger
– 1/4 tsp allspice (I substituted nutmeg)
– 1/2 cup whipped topping (Cool Whip)

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for two minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Combine the pumpkin and spices; fold into pudding.  Fold in the whipped topping.  Transfer to individual serving dishes.  Refrigerate until serving.  Top with more whipped topping and a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon (depending on preference).  Yield: 4 servings.

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(Excuse the poor food staging.  I was too lazy to wipe down the inside of the cup.  That would have just slowed its journey to my mouth.)

NavyGuy and I each devoured these last night.  It’s lighter and fluffier than the typical pumpkin pie filling.  For turkey day, I am thinking I’d do mini versions of these in little dessert cups – possibly even layer the mousse, whipped cream, and some caramel sauce, trifle style.  I have to check with our guests and make sure no one will die if they don’t have actual pumpkin pie on T-day.)