Friday, November 13, 2009

Disney, Halloween, and Lasagna!

It's been a while since I posted, so this is a long one...

Favorite thing AM did this week

Okay so this is more of a favorite thing that we all did...last week marked our big, family trip to Disney. AM was great 99% of the whole time (just a few temper fits). She wasn't scared of anything (except maybe the characters up close, but they really are a little scary, no?). I think maybe she was a little too young to know to be scared of the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion. As for the movement rides, she loved Goofy's Barnstormer (the kid-sized roller coaster), which even Matthew and I thought was a little rough for a kid coaster.

AM's absolute favorites? Definitely the teacups which she had been discussing for months leading up to the trip (glad they didn't disappoint) and the Buzz Lightyear ride, which she refers to as "Buzz Buzz Right Here." Hilarious. She also loved the Spectro-Magic parade (that's the 21st century's version of the Electric Light Parade, for those of you born before 1990!). Oh, and she also loved the Disney bus. Here's a shot of that...

One more thing to say about Disney...this is the BEST time of year to go. Matthew and I waited 20 minutes to ride Thunder Mtn, and that was our longest wait all weekend. We did use Fast Passes for a few things at EPCOT, but I'm not sure it was completely necessary; the exception is maybe Soarin', which is still pretty new (and awesome). Also, our hotel was great (Saratoga Springs--a Disney property, close to Downtown Disney), and the food was even pretty good everywhere (Disney is not known for culinary experiences!).

Of course, AM just loved being there with so much to do, and so much attention from Mommy, Daddy, Grandmommy, and Grandad-o. And we all really liked it too. Matthew didn't want to leave!

Here are some more of our favorite pictures...

On Cinderella's Golden Carousel

Checking out Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride
With Daddy and Grandmommy on the famous Teacups.
Playing an energy game with Daddy at EPCOT's Spaceship Earth.

Tired kids and mommies in front of Cinderella's Castle.
Family shot in front of the castle.

Our trip coincided with Halloween, so we spent that evening with our good friends Tom & Robin, Megan & Chris, and their 1-year old, who all live in Orlando. We were joined by our friend Cindy, and her 2-year old, who live just a few hours away. So three toddlers actually went pretty well. Here is a picture of our costumed kiddos: a pirate, a hamburger, and a spider...
And one of AM in the trick-or-treating process...

Favorite thing I saw this week
Christmas decorations! I know plenty of people complain about Christmas decor coming too close on the heals of Halloween, but I LOVE it. And I am quite unapologetic about it too. To add to my premature Christmas joy, I was thrilled to find that one of our local stations (Magic 96.5) has already begun their 24-hour Christmas music celebration. They used to only do holiday music on the weekends during November, but I guess Christmas fanatics like me convinced them it should be a 7 day/week thing for this month and next. Also, for those of you tuned in to Pandora online (Love this site..should blog about that later) they have special holiday personalized stations. So Christmas is already playing throughout my house...AM can already identify "Jingle Bells" and "Jingle Bell Rock," but I'm trying to steer her clear of the obnoxious "Santa Baby."
Favorite thing I read this week
I started reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The best word for this book so far is charming! Even though it takes place in England (Guernsey and London) immediately following the devastation of WWII, it's surprisingly upbeat, and it moves very quickly. It definitely makes me want to stay on the bike at the gym just a bit longer!

Favorite thing I ate this week
I was craving (yes, I am in craving mode now) lasagna this week, but didn't really have a night when I would have the time to put it together, bake it, etc. SO, I found this recipe for slow-cooker lasagna, and it was great. Also, since I forgot to buy ricotta cheese, I omitted that, and we didn't miss it at all, making it ever-so-slightly healthier...
Slow-Cooker Lasagna
1 lb. ground round (or ground turkey)
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning (I improvised with my own mixture, probably used more than a tsp. worth)
1 (26 oz) jar of chunky garden-style pasta sauce (I used Ragu, and I am normally NOT a jarred sauce girl, but for something like this, it worked fine and made it all the easier)
1/3 cup water
8 uncooked lasagna noodles
Cooking spray
1 (4 1/2 oz.) jar sliced mushrooms, undrained (fresh work too, but you might need to add a few tsps of water)
1 (15 oz.) carton part-skim ricotta cheese (or not)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I probably used a little more)
Cook beef, garlic, and Italian seasoning in a skillet until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain, set aside.
Combine pasta sauce and water, set aside
Spray bottom and sides of slow cooker with cooking spray. Place 4 noodles on the bottom, breaking to fit. Layer with half each of beef mixture, pasta sauce mixture, and mushrooms. Spread ricotta cheese over mushrooms. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Layer with remaining noodles, meat, pasta sauce mixture, and mushrooms. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Cover and cook on HIGH setting for 1 hour.
Reduce to LOW and cook for 5 hours (Mine cooked faster than this, about 4 hours).
Easy, easy, easy!

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