Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.



We had a lovely holiday weekend. I have much to be thankful for but I won’t bore you with a list. My mom joined us for Thanksgiving which was nice. The day after, instead of shopping (because I am mostly done nah-nah-nah-nah), we took the girls to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel to see the decorations (above is a collage of our visit there).  I also wanted to try and take a decent photo for our Christmas card. I wasn’t hugely successful at that. I took 217 photos.  214 of them look a lot like this:

Tessa was not about to cooperate – look at the defiance with the crossed arms. (I’m scared of teenaged Tessa already.) And on the rare occasion she was looking my way, Sabrina chose that moment to look at the sky or stick her tongue out. I lowered my expectations and chose a couple that were acceptable. So if you are on my card list, keep the bar low in what you might expect this year.

Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. It is truly my favorite holiday – all of the warm fuzzies and family of Christmas, without the pressure and expectations.

Note to self for future Thanksgivings: Do not buy a smoked turkey at Sam’s Club. It will be dry and salty. And the gravy will be like a salt lick.

Things I’ve made from Pinterest


SarahLena has been doing posts about what she has made from Pinterest lately and I love those posts. So, I thought I would do one too. (You know Pinterest, right? It is most fun and useful time suck ever.) This is what I’ve made in the past couple of months from Pinterest.

(Click the photos to go to the pins.)

Jalapeno Poppers

This is pieces of bacon, jalapeno, and cream cheese baked in crescent rolls to simulate the jalapeno popper taste.

Verdict: Meh. It tasted like crescent rolls to me. That was all I could taste. I won’t make these again. I made them for a gathering and no one was wild about them.

Chicken Parmesan Bake

This is a chicken parm with that is baked and the chicken isn’t breaded.

Verdict: Yummy. It was super easy and tasty. The croutons and the cheese satisfy the chicken parm yen without the trouble of doing it the traditional way.  It is in no way gourmet but it is a satisfying, fast meal.  My children even ate it (that is unheard of). And my MIL made it with gluten free croutons – I hear it was a hit in her house too.

Tikka Masala

This is the first time I’ve ever made Indian food that didn’t come from a jar or other package. I like Indian food but I don’t know a lot about the flavor profiles so I’m not comfortable with the recipes (you all know I can’t follow one).

Verdict: Success! This was so easy – I was surprised that it turned out so well. We thought the 1/2 Tbl of cayenne was a little too hot so next time I’ll decrease that a bit. And I felt like it needed a little honey or agave just to sweeten it a tiny bit – I like a little bit of sweet to compliment the heat.  Steve liked it without the little touch of sweet.  I will also let it cool down more before adding the yogurt – it felt like the yogurt “broke” a little bit.  I served it over brown jasmine rice.  It was a great first Indian dish to try at home.

Cheesy Biscuits (in the style of Jim & Nick’s)

Verdict: As written? Meh.  But I know there is potential here. I made them as written the first time. They were rather blah.  I made them again replacing 1/4 cup of buttermilk with 1/4 cup of melted butter and adding 1/2 tsp of onion powder, garlic powder (yes, a unicorn lost its horn), a dash of cayenne, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. But I didn’t bake them quite long enough so they weren’t quite done in the middle.  I feel sure these could be great but I’m not sure I care enough to figure it out. We rarely eat bread with our meals. (The girls were thrilled with the first version.)

3 Ingredient Light Cake

This the one where you take a cake mix, throw in a diet soda, mix, bake, top with light cool whip.

Verdict: Blargh. I baked it until the edges were dry and browning but the middle was still gooey. It was disgusting.  I might have done something horribly wrong but I threw it away.

Cream Cheese Cookies

This is a slight cheat.  I found this elsewhere on the web and then I pinned it – so it wasn’t a Pinterest discovery. But I don’t recall where I found it.

Verdict: Super simple to make. Sabrina helped me. They taste good – not amazing but good.  I added vanilla extract to them.  And the last 1/2 of the dough I threw in the juice of 1/2 a lemon.  The lemon ones were way better. I’m not sure if I will make them again – maybe if I need something fast and simple.  We will eat them but no one in the house was wowed by them.

Are you on Pinterest? If so, what have you tried? Anything we all must try?

posted under food | 8 Comments »

Winter Doldrums


I’ve been worried about how to deal with 2 active kiddos this winter. We aren’t as house bound as we would be up north but it is still cold and wet a lot of the time. On a local buy/sell/trade page on facebook, I found the answer.

Meet our new indoor trampoline.  The girls have been jumping on it all afternoon. I know it will eventually lose its shiny new status, but for now it is a great way for them to expend some of that excess energy.

It is awfully large so it is going to have to move up to the playroom soon.

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Candy candy candy


Halloween night was chilly here so the girls had to adapt their costumes. We were out for a solid hour and they had a grand time.  Tessa is quite the little con artist. She scammed almost every house out of 2 pieces of candy by being cute and looking confused. Every time I would say “Just one Tessa” the person manning the bowl would tell me it was fine and not to worry about it.  And the houses giving out 2 pieces of candy, she took 3. Sabrina wasn’t quite sure how to react. She is a rule follower. She was torn between outrage over the rule being broken and wanting to go back and grab a second piece for herself.  Tessa is going to keep us on our toes.  And Sabrina is going to narc her out.

I told the girls that there was a surcharge of 3 pieces of candy (my choice) from each of them for my services in taking them out trick or treating. Sabrina was quite outraged by that and tried to negotiate. But she didn’t understand that meeting in the middle at 2 would have served her well and kept sticking to her insistence on 1 piece. So I simply overruled.

(Here is Tessa trying the pathetic face.) I’ve spent the entire week since Halloween saying no to candy. My general rule is for the first week – 10 days they get at least 1 treat, often 2 treats, a day.  After that, it all gets dumped in the community treat bowl and becomes an occasional treat. Tessa and Sabrina have been doing everything in their power to wheedle extra pieces out of me. I give in occasionally because that is the fun of Halloween.

After a friend’s pirate birthday party.

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