Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cajun Lime Tilapia, OLE!!

If you are not a person who LOVES fish, just try this recipe (I double-dog-dare-ya!) and you may just change your mind.  Not only is it super-duper easy it's really GOOD (promise!!).  Grab some fillets and let's get busy...

Ingredients: (just a pinch and toss)
*  2 firm tilapia fillets (or more)--not frozen
*Tony's spice (if you haven't bought this by now, you should because I use it in EVERYTHING!  It's my Louisiana roots!)
* lime juice (I use the bottle sometimes, shhh...don't tell that I'm not a Martha Stewart who always has fresh limes on hand!)
* butter (um, naturally!)
* honey
* olive oil
* wild rice mix (cooked), optional (for serving with fish)

Get some olive oil sizzling in a frying pan and toss those babies in (okay, be careful about it--don't REALLY toss them!).  Sprinkle both sides with some Cajun spice and cover up with a lid, cooking until opaque (that's fancy talk for white).

Wait!  Before you put the lid on, splash a little (to your taste, I use about 2 tsp. for 2 fillets) of lime juice in the pan first.

Peek on the fish after a few minutes, flip and check again a minute or two later--careful not to OVERcook, nothing is worse than dry fish!  Once it flakes easily in the middle, remove lid and drain any liquids off so it gets a nice sear for a few seconds to lightly brown it.  Next, push the fish to the side (below) or remove to a plate with a spatula.

Add a bit of honey and a few teaspoons of butter to the pan, let it mix and heat up for under a minute or two then pour on top of fish to add a perfect finish.  May sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt, a dab will do ya!

I admit: I still can't get my kids to eat fish (unless it's a fishstick and I lie and say it's chicken, he he!) BUT everyone else that has tried this says "love at first bite" let me know what you think!!

It really melts in your mouth and is a perfect mix of spicy, sweet and savory...oh, did I mention HEALTHY TOO!!  Boo-ya, can't beat that combo!  And simple, I can throw this together in under 10 minutes (not counting the cook time for the wild rice mix)!  Enjoy!

Featured on this lovely blog:

We're Having A...BABY!?!?

What’s a girl to do after giving away all her maternity clothes and most of their baby things?  Well, have another baby of course!

Having four children in under five years has been a BIG blessing and made things pretty busy for me and my husband!  When the decision arose about whether or not we would be adding to our little clan, I was game for one or two more (a few years down the road, naturally!) but when my husband, Bob, said the number four was sitting pretty for him, I decided to support that decision 100%.  If God were going to change his mind, that was fine by me BUT I wasn’t going to attempt that one on my own.  As a way of letting go of any expectations, I gave away all my maternity clothes and any baby items and clothes we had outgrown.

Then, one day, it happened.  I made a run for the toilet, sure I was about to lose my lunch and thinking it was something I ate.  The next day, I felt sick again and wasn’t so sure bad food could be blamed again.  Thinking the odds were set against us (nursing 24/7, using protection and not to mention I hadn’t had a visit from old Aunt Flo in eight months), we grabbed a pregnancy test but I was so sure it would be negative that I threw it away the moment I saw a blue line.  Well, it must have been something I ate after all I thought as I tossed the box in the trash too.  But something on the box made me freeze and do a double take: wait, a BLUE line means PREGNANT?!  

Oh.  My.  Gosh.  (also known as OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I frantically dug out the test and confirmed that I hadn’t had a case of food poisoning, I was growing a baby!

I walked downstairs on jello legs to where my family was starting dinner.  They were in the middle of praying when I walked in and I looked at each one of our children in a fresh way: Gabby clapping and grinning because she loves the kid’s prayer song, the boys squeezing each other’s hands during the prayer to the point of losing a finger, EvaLee peeking with one eye and my sweet husband trying to keep the peace while I was away.  Our family was going to change and even though it wasn’t what I had planned for this season, my heart was overflowing
with joy.

“Well,”  I said as soon as they finished their prayer, “Let’s say a prayer for the new baby too!”  I caught Bob’s eye that grew bigger with each second as reality set in.  Of course, he immediately became Bill Nye the Science Guy, 

“What?...That’s very unlikely!  Let’s take another test before we confirm it.”  Okay, good idea: that was logical and level-headed.  That’s what anyone would say to KEEP FROM PANICKING!!

The next day, another blue line confirmed that Baby Cole #5 was indeed coming soon so I placed a call to our clinic.

“OH MY GOSH!”  The nurse exclaimed into the phone when I explained our situation (I guess it’s the going trend), “Well, you must come in right away, you could be four weeks or you could be four MONTHS!”

That made me really laugh, “Don’t worry, when I’m four months I can barely make it through doors sideways so I’m quite sure I can’t be that far along but I’ll come in as soon as I can.”

An ultrasound later that week showed a beautiful little heart beating on the screen and gave us a February fifth due date.  Later that night, my logical and level-headed husband greeted me with a huge hug and a sweet card.

“I’m taking you out tonight.”  He grinned, “Were celebrating.”

“So…does this mean you’re excited?”  I asked.

“Baby, this makes all my dreams come true.  I am SO excited!”  Then he winked at me, “And this also means I have until February to be a man because we’ll be making it official that the Coles are only birthing five children!”

That sounded good to me.

Now…about that shopping trip for maternity clothes…

Note to my readers: Due to being pretty sick and trying to keep up with the rest of my gang, I’ll only be posting blogs for awhile Monday and Wednesday mornings.  Friday mornings I’ll post something fun, like a recipe or pictures.  Thank you!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Girl That Stole Our Hearts

We just celebrated our little girl, EvaLee's 2nd birthday and I once again am amazed at how the heart of a parent can hold MORE love than ever imagined!  Even though EvaLee has two older brothers, she is ALL girl and (above) adored her baby dolls when she opened the gifts.

EvaLee captured our hearts the moment we first snuggled all six pounds of her when she arrived in our world and she has never let go (above with grandparents).

Her Mimi made the birthday cupcakes (PINK of course!) and EvaLee (and ALL her siblings) had no problem putting away a couple each!

She is a perfect mixture of sweet and sassy...mostly sweet, of course!

One thing she can't get enough of (and one of her first words): DRAW!  I put out some big paper on our table for everyone to leave a note for Eva's birthday and (pictured here with her Great Grandpa Cole) EvaLee added her fair share of art.

Eva & Aunt Alicia

EvaLee & her Nana

Daddy adores his baby girls!

Happy Second Birthday, Little Princess!  We LOVE you!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fantastic Parent and Frenching Flunkie!?

Here’s some interesting questions for you to consider:

1.  When is the last time you French-kissed your spouse?  I’m talking total tongue-swapping salivia-mess up the lipstick job kind of kiss?  When is the last time you held hands and cuddled with your sweetie in front of the kids?

2.  When’s the last time you hugged your kid?  Attended their special event or game?  Let them stay up past bedtime to spend time with you?

Is it possible to be a fantastic parent but a frenching flunkie?  In most cases of marriage and family, your spouse probably came before the children which answers the age old question (at least this time) of which came first; the chicken or the egg?  But if you’re like me, I find it easier sometimes to dote on the little chicks and leave the big rooster to fend for himself. 

Yet there is a funny thing that happens when I put my children first and it may not be what you expect.  The children suffer.  WHAT!?  Our CHILDREN suffer when we put them before our spouses?!  Exactly.  In our child-centered society today, I’m sure I just committed some kind of unpardonable sin by saying this but it NEEDS TO BE SAID!  One of the BEST things we can do for our children is love our husband or wife.  A saying that has been around for some time goes like this, “The best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother.”  (I’m sure all the Mommas out there are giving a shout out to that saying!) As much as I LOVE that quote, I think it also holds true that of the best things a MOTHER can do for her children is to love their FATHER!

I’m not saying you have to swap saliva in front of the kiddos to prove to them your undying love for your man or woman (and all the teens may be saying “AMEN”!!) but what about a hand squeeze or cuddle on the couch?  Maybe it means speaking well of them or sharing a favorite memory you have of them while they are away at work (instead of grumbling about them being gone or getting home late, hmmm…I am SO busted!).

If you think I’m a bit off my Momma-rocker, maybe you could ask your kids (that are older) what one of their main fears about their parents is.  Statistics show that the majority of kids share the same fear about their parents:
they fear their parents will stop loving each other and get a divorce.  

Even though your little darlins’ may put up a little fit if you escape with your special someone on a date or not appreciate when you tell them to zip their lips (for just FIVE minutes, is it possible?!) so you and your spouse can catch up about your day before dinner, I think deep down they will be feeling relieved and happy to know the old love birds are still in LOVE! 

Want to be a fantastic parent?  Stop making it all about the little chicks and instead, take some time with that hard-workin’ old rooster or faithful ol’ hen for a change!  One of the best thing a parent can do for their children is love their spouse.  So go practice your French kissing again like you did it during the dating days.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Toilet Half FULL!

After finding my three-year-old son POST-self-given-swirly in the toilet today, I decided he is either destined to be; a brilliant scientist, a passionate environmentalist or a gifted plumber.

It all began with a darn pair of overalls.

Tiny thumbs and novice fingers have a very difficult time negotiating the complex overall button system.  By the time Judah realized he couldn’t do it, his eyes were already filling up with water from holding in the pee for too long.

“Mommmmmyyyyy!! I can’t do it!”  He lamented while wiggling all over the place to hold back the inner tide.

I quickly helped to release him from the bondage of his clothes and he was off like a racehorse to the toilet.  I awaited him to return downstairs until my internal “Judah-Bathroom-Alarm” began to flash CODE RED, CODE RED!!!

Just as I was heading up the stairs, he was heading down…his hair plastered to his head and his face and clothes dripping wet.  I FELT myself sigh before I heard my sigh out loud as I asked my dear boy, “Judah. What happened?!”

“Well, I couldn’t make it to the potty in so since I never even used the wadder in the toilet, I used it to wash my hair and face.”


At first I wanted to get after him, after all, this isn’t the FIRST time Judah has performed the "Self Swirly".  I did instruct him on why it was wrong (um, GERMS!!) but as he raced off to play, I tried to remember how blessed I am to have an unconventional thinker!

Whatever Judah’s future destiny is, I know one thing: he may never reach his fullest potential if I don’t accept him for who he is and how he thinks: outside the box (or in this case outside the sink!).  While I plan to teach him NOT to do things that aren’t socially acceptable (or even SANITARY!), I’m going to TRY my darnedest to not cram him inside of a box God never intended him to fit into.

Scientist, environmentalist, plumber or something else entirely, God has a special plan for our kids that see the toilet bowl half full instead of half empty and see toilet water as an alternative bath as gross as that may sound!  Sometimes it drives me a little crazy but I know life would be REALLY boring without our little original thinkers!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Cole's Funnies

Kids say the darnest things sometimes and our crew has said some things that have sure made our life more FUNNY!  I'll be posting a new funny thing at least every week now so keep checking back here for new "funnies" from the Cole kids!  Our children's ages are Gideon (4), Judah (3), EvaLee (2) and Gabby is almost 9 months.  Enjoy!!

 I ♥ how kid's brains work. 
Me: Jude, I'm proud of you. Do you know what that means?

Me: Gid, is there anything you’d like prayer about today?
Gid: Yeah…I’ve been worried that cartoons are real and there REALLY are monsters with big, red eyes and horrible laughs.

Overheard my oldest, Gideon, advising his younger brother, Judah: “Just listen to Mommy, Judah.  Mommy is always right.”
I should have got it recorded to play back to him in 10 years!

The tub was draining today and Jude stared at it, saying, “It’s all melting!”

"It’s not working!" Gideon said out of the blue one day, his face full of great sorrow.  
"What’s that?"  I asked.  
“I’m not growing into a daddy.”  He tried to hold back the tears.  
“Well, don’t worry--you will, these things take time!  Right now, just enjoy being a kid.”  
He smiled, very relieved, “Okay!”

I was singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” at bedtime to the kids when Gideon rolled over, a look of concern on his face, “Doesn’t he love the orange and blue kids too?”  
“Well, yeah, Gid…of course.”  
His brow furrowed, “Then how come you didn’t sing that too?”  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Featured At Blogs

Some of the WONDERFUL blogs "Belle of the Bustle" is featured at:

Mexi-Fiesta Summer Salad

Okay, I admit.  I made up this salad just to have an excuse to consume the BEST dressing EVER...

So, as an ode to Spicy Ranch by Hidden Valley, here is my fresh take on fab veggies and chicken (somewhat recipe-less so apologies if you are a cook who loves precise will not find that in this blog!).  This "recipe" will make about enough for two large salads with leftovers!  Did I mention it's SUPER easy too!!

"The FIESTA Mix" (pictured above)
Throw together these items in a bowl:
* 1/2 cup corn (canned is good, drain first)
* 1/2 cup black beans (not drained)
* 1/4 cup (or so) chopped red peppers from jar
* 1/8 cup chopped red onion
* Splash of lime juice (to taste)
* dash of cumin powder, seasoning salt (I LOVE Tony's, my Cajun roots!!) and some dried (or even better, FRESH!) cilantro (all to your taste, start with less, you can always add more!)

The Rest of the Salad:
*1 head (give or take) of iceberg lettuce (or bag of mixed greens good too), torn into pieces
*  Cooked chicken, sliced (I had grilled some tenderloins earlier with a bit of spices on them and used those, yum!)
*1/2 cup tortilla chips, crush those babies up!!
* avocadohhh (OHH how I love thee, avocado!  I usually sprinkle a little Tony's on it to punch up the flavor), cut into medium chunks
* 1/2 cup+ of shredded cheese (mexi-mix ideal but any works)

YUM (and healthy!)

Simply arrange the above of a large plate, sprinkle avocado on at the end and OF COURSE, serve with a side of Spicy Ranch and ENJOY mi amigo!!  Ole!

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Was a BAD Mommy!!

I blew it.

I made a BIG deal about something so little.   My freak-out began upon the discovery of a wet pair of Batman underwear on my boy’s bedroom floor and ended with me walking out of their bedroom carrying a huge weight of "Bad Mommy" guilt-feelings.

One of the Cole kids that has been potty-trained for quite some time (names are changed to protect their future high school reputation) has been having some accidents lately.  All these accidents have one common denominator: the desire to not miss out on fun!  This sweet lil’ child feels the need to take a whiz but ignores it, usually while doing a little potty-dance, in the hopes that he won’t miss a millisecond of doing something he loves to do.  He has been waiting to the LAST possible second to make a break for the toilet only (on occasion) to not make it at all.

Thus, when the wet undies were discovered today while the boy’s favorite super-hero show was playing, I put one sheepish boy and too many silly accidents together and quickly figured out the problem.  I could have been logical, reasoning and wise, discreetly pulling aside my son to talk about the recent accidents.  But, instead, I blew it.  

<em>Batman</em> Briefs

The movie was shut off.  Hands were firmly placed on hips and one mad Momma faced off with her wide-eyed four-year-old.  The glaring and yelling that followed would have definitely disqualified me for any “Mother of the Year” contest.

Somewhere in the middle of my ridiculous rant I stopped as I realized, it wasn’t just the wet batman underwear that was pushing my button.  It was the pile of dirty dishes that never seemed to disappear, the overflowing email inbox that I rarely get to the bottom of and the stack of laundry that daily grows from a molehill to a mountain.

I shut my mouth (usually a good thing) and felt my shoulder slump as I sat on the floor next to my little guy.

“I’m sorry, bud.  We need to talk about this problem but I don’t need to yell at you.  I didn’t handle that very well…that’s not cool.  I love you.”  After I said this, scrawny little arms were thrown around my neck in under two seconds flat and I heard him whisper,

“It’s okay, Mommy!  I love you too!”

Later that evening after the kids were tucked in, I finally collapsed on our bed under the weight of the guilt.  I told my husband everything, trying to hold back my tears at the memory of my foolish impatience and poor response to a little boy’s accident.  Just sharing it with my man seemed to help me to breath again but I still felt such shame until Bob looked me in the eyes and said this, 

“Honey, it’s not IF we mess up as parents, it’s WHEN.  When it happens, how do you handle it?  You handled it well…you apologized and were humble.  Kids need to see that, that was good.  You’re a good Mom.”

His words brought things into perspective: I don’t do this parenting thing perfectly.  Heck, I mess up A LOT…most of the time, I’m winging it and making it up as I go along!  But it’s a relief to know that when I mess up, when I blow it and have a “bad Mommy moment” the best thing I can do is eat some humble pie.  I can show my kids that we can try again WHEN (not IF) we blow it.  

Dirty dishes, overflowing inboxes, mountain of laundry and wet Batman underwear can’t change this one thing: I love my kids and (by God’s grace!) they love me and we’re going to keep growing together.