Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weekend Casual Outfits

I'm enjoying playing around on Polyvore
and coming up with some fall weekend casual sets.
I am still learning how to create so these are pretty simple ones!
Weekend Errands
Weekend Casual
Rainy Saturday
Rainy Weekend Casual
Casual Saturday Date Night
Burberry Weekend Casual
These were fun to create!
You can follow me here on Polyvore.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Favorite Recipe

Many of our family's favorite recipes
are recipes that have been in my family for generations.
Today I am going to share a recipe for
King Ranch Chicken,
which is from my paternal grandmother.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole. Photo by Pam-I-Am
Here is a pretty picture of this casserole
She and my grandfather are originally from Ohio,
but lived in Houston, Texas for most of the time I can remember.
She loved to cook, but was famous for several dishes.
King Ranch Chicken was one of them...
It is a very popular Tex-Mex casserole,
that supposedly originated on King Ranch in South Texas
(although that has not been proven).
There are MANY variations on this recipe,
but most have the same four core ingredients:
chicken, Ro-Tel tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, and cream of mushroom soup.
Here is my Grandmother's recipe
King Ranch Chicken
2 cups cubed or shredded chicken, cooked
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp chili powder
dash of Tobasco
dash of Lea & Perrins
2 cups cheddar cheese
12 six inch flour tortillas, torn in small pieces

1. Saute peppers and onions in butter until tender in large skillet.

2. Add chicken, soups, tomatoes, chili powder, Tobasco, and Lea & Perrins,
and cook until hot.

3. Butter bottom of 9x13 pan and cover bottom of pan with tortillas.

4. Add half of chicken mixture.

5. Sprinkle with cheese, and repeat layers.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly.

I sometimes use crushed Doritos instead of the tortillas.
You can also buy a rotisserie chicken and shred that to save time.
I also garnish with sour cream and black olives.

I debated whether to take some pictures of me making this in my
fabulous 1980's kitchen, but decided it would be too distracting
as everyone would be drooling over my kitchen and not my casserole.
(you can see I went the Doritos route and forgot to buy the green pepper tonight)
My kids LOVE this casserole.  
Twins...can they EVER both smile?
Sweet D keeping me company while I was cooking...
notice the two computers, ipad, and smart phone...LOL.

Guess who the ham is in this family?
  As I mentioned, there are many variations on this recipe...
sometimes I play around with it myself,
but my grandmother's is always the best! 
My grandmother passed away many years ago,
but I have her recipe file,
and I love having her recipes written in her own handwriting.
I'll share some more of my family recipes this fall and winter.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Mothering Multiples

I am a mother of twins....
my boys are fraternal twins and they will be 13 years old next month.
My boys are precious, and I can't imagine life without them!

This is me being brutally honest about my experience mothering multiples.
It's not a "happy and uplifting" story.
But I am not about pretending I am perfect....at least not anymore...LOL
I learned that with age...and being a mother of multiples.
I am sure many will read and think I am the worst mother....
I am just me.

So... to be perfectly honest, I was not thrilled when I found out I was having twins.
In fact, I thought the OB/GYN was joking at first...
there are no twins anywhere in my family...
sadly (at the time) he was not joking.
I already had two daughters, ages five and two,
and I thought long and hard before deciding to have a third.
I could handle three....ONLY three...
I was all about order, being organized, being in
Surprise! I was going to have four!

It was a very difficult pregnancy.
Let's just say many pure iron injections, blood transfusions, fractured ribs,
and a pregnancy related heart condition later (just to name a few),
I gave birth to twin boys at 39 1/2 weeks who weighted in at almost eight pounds...

Mothering twin babies is overwhelming....
at least if you are like me and could not afford a nanny, baby nurse, or cleaning lady.
Both my daughters slept through the night by a month old...
I was sure the boys would too...NOT....try about 10 months.
In my true form, I went into my situation thinking,
"I can do this all by myself"
Also true to form, I thought to myself.
"asking for help would mean I am a failure"
My twins were born in October and by February,
my parents had an "intervention" with me.
I would not ask for help, so they forced it on me....
I was so sleep deprived, I was beyond functioning.
I was also recovering from a post-partum depression.
I felt like a total and complete failure.
My Michigan mom stayed for a week and while I literally slept for a week,
she did laundry, cooked, did the shopping, fed babies, changed babies,
and carted girls to school and to activities.
Virginia Mom found a college nursing student to babysit five afternoons a week 
so I could sleep, run errands, or...sleep.
Virginia Mom picked up where Michigan Mom left off when she flew home,
and somehow we made it through the first year.
Unfortunately, I don't remember much of it.
Once my boys were born,
I loved them beyond belief and could not imagine life without twins.
They were pure joy.
But it was an adjustment.
Financially, it was a massive strain on our budget to have two babies...
all of the equipment I already had...I had to buy more of...
a crib, high chair, car seats, stroller,
of course I had boys so none of my baby girl clothes would work!
Friends and family were extremely generous,
and we had just about everything we needed by the time they were born.
Between the monthly pampers and formula expenses,
I could have been making a car payment on a Mercedes convertible.
Learning how to grocery shop pulling one cart with one baby in it,
while pushing one cart with another in it was an acquired skill.
(there is MUCH more baby equipment for twins today than when I had mine)
Many people passed judgment.
"You should really keep a better eye on your children"
when I had the twins outside playing and one boy is running in one direction
and the other is running in the opposite....into the street.
"Why aren't you nursing them?"
when I had one in my lap with a bottle while holding a bottle for the other in a infant seat
(I would switch half way through so each could be held during a feeding)
"You really should not dress them alike so they can learn to be individuals"
as I dressed them alike until they were toddlers because it was easier to keep track of two that way.
I did the best I could.
I was not perfect.
I went to a mothers of multiples support group once, when the twins were about six months old.
I was excited to meet a group of woman who could empathize with me and my situation.
I am sure most groups are amazing and offer a lot of support.
Unfortunately, the one in my area was full of VERY affluent women,
many of which were THRILLED to have multiples because they had had fertility issues.
The room was filled with perfectly well rested, well dressed, well manicured women,
who were all sharing information about their nannies, their housekeepers, and their cooks.
I left in tears.
I felt like a dumpy, frumpy, hot mess compared to those women!
What was wrong with me?
(I know that now)
Before I found out I was having twins,
I planned to savor EVERY moment of having a baby...
I LOVE LOVE LOVE babies and knew it would be my last.
Sometimes I still mourn the loss of that precious time,
because I honestly have very little memory at all of their first year.
In fact looking at pictures is sometimes painful because I feel like I missed a lot.
My early experience of mothering multiples is clearly
not a glamorous story.
It's kind of a sad story.
But I would not change a thing.
I ended up learning a lot about myself.
I grew up a lot.
I learned what is really important in life.
I felt the pure love of my family, friends, and church family.
I learned I am stronger than I thought I was.
I learned it's ok to be weak.
I learned to let go.
I learned to hold on.

I learned that my girls would not die if they did not have a bath every single night,
I learned that lipstick and a baseball hat was appropriate grocery store attire,
I learned that no one would stop growing if mac-n-cheese was IT for dinner.
I learned that I did not need to iron every dress for school (yes I actually ironed my girls clothes).
Somehow, I had a picture in my head of what being a "perfect" mom was...
and it was unrealistic, unattainable, and I was "failing" at something that no ONE person could do.
It was hard to let go of my "standards"
I still struggle with it at times...
I mourned the life I thought I was going to have,
and gradually learned to embrace the life I actually had.

While I don't have many memories of my boys for the first couple of years,
 the memories I do have are happy ones filled with joy and love.
My story of mothering multiples may sound quite depressing,
but it has truly been a gift in too many ways to mention...
in addition to the gift of having two amazing sons...of course!
See my post here to experience some of my twin's shenanigans...LOL.
 I do know that I did something right that year...
and the next, and the next, and the next after that...
because here I am almost 13 years later
and I have FOUR children
who are
kind-hearted, loving, honest, spiritual, trustworthy, self-confident,
smart, well-mannered, talented, funny, empathetic,
and most importantly,

 (my babies)
I am still learning.
 I am not perfect.
But I am perfectly ME.

Many thanks to my Virginia parents and Michigan parents,
who have ALWAYS been there for me,
and who continue to provide me unconditional love, enormous support,
 and "mercy missions" when needed.
I love you.







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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mad about Plaid

I love tartan plaid!
 I have a lot of plaid in my fall and winter wardrobe
and I have a lot a madras in my spring and summer wardrobe.
Here is a classic look that I would wear this winter
Preppy plaid and pearls
 I am Scottish on my paternal grandmother's side,
and love that we have two different family (clan) tartan plaids!
Some day I hope to have a few skirts or wraps made in these tartans
The McIlvaine Clan
The Murray Clan
Although I don't decorate specifically with tartan plaid, I do have some sort of plaid,
whether it be a window treatment or a pillow, in each of the rooms of my home.
I also like to decorate my table with tartan plaid, especially around the holidays.
Here are some wonderful pictures of tartan plaids used in fashion and at home...
Love the black lampshades with the dark tartan.
.Tartan chair
Just love the chair!
Tartan Shade Crystal Lamp
I love this look...sometimes it's hard to get a "fresh" and bright look with tartans.
Warm and inviting
This would be my cabin retreat...when I win the Powerball.
I love the color of this plaid
OK...pink and green tartan...LOVE THIS!
Rattlebridge Farm: A Tartan Picnic
Take me on a picnic any day with this adorable set!
Mixing my love of monograms with my love of tartan plaid!
Festive table
Another great holiday table setting!
Darling, I think I'll have some tea towels made with your Scottish words. what do you think, read the following words and tell me if it'll work. I think different colors might be nice too..............
So charming!
Tartan Pearl Drop Earrings
Got to have!    Here's how the tartan stacks up.  Arita Tartan Charger  Lauren Ralph Lauren Skyler  Target Holiday 2010 Classic Tidings  Global Design Connection by Kate Williams  Home Beautiful Stoneware in Royal Stewart
Love these plates!!! 
Monogrammed Tartan plate
Another mix of monograms and tartan plaid!
Red and Black tartan bag -  Marni 2012 Winter Collection
I am on a handbag "ban" but oh would I love to have this one!
For D....great with khaki's or jeans!
A classic!
1950's Plaid Preppy Sundress. I love plaid!
 Perfect for a summer cocktail party!
bridesmaids tartan
LOVE for a Christmas wedding!!!!
All of these photos and more can be found on my Mad About Plaid board on Pintrest.
Are you mad about plaid?

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