Phew .. after some very busy days, today was a much needed day of rest. All three of us took it easy around the house .. even I took a nap ..!! There were no expectations, everything was easy .. with the exception of naptimes for Thomas .. hahah .. but even he slept in until 10 a.m. this morning! I'm sure our new neighbors think we're torturing little T because of all of the random crying that's been happening around naptimes .. every time he really starts wailing I think of their 2 children on the other side of the bedroom wall and hope it doesn't upset the kids. It might be time to start rethinking and re-working our bedtime routine, especially given my new sciatic nerve pain that's been popping up while doing the Mommy Sway.
The sunshine was so beautiful today ... and knowing that it'd be one of the last warm-ish days of winter, Thomas and I took a stroll out through the woodsy-brushy-undeveloped property behind our little townhome. Bundled warmly, "we" hiked down the street to the dirt/gravel road-bed where all sorts of construction has been happening over the 4 1/2 years we've lived here. I like to hike back there because it's almost as if are walking up Mom and Dad's driveway ... but very different in the same moment. To the east is 5-acres of undeveloped property, woods, low brush, hawks, deer ... to the west, office buildings of some sort ... to the north, overpriced tiny townhomes with brick and fancy shutters, all lined up on streets named after Notre Dame ... think Corby Street ... On our hikes down the gravel roadbed, Otto loves to sniff sniff sniff while T and I search for prints in the mud ... deer, geese, ducks, turkeys ... there are of course plenty of other dog and people prints, showing evidence of other nature-seekers venturing off the concrete paths throughout our little apartment community. Mud puddles covered in ice brought back memories of walking to the bus on crisp mornings, deciding whether or not to smash the ice or if the puddle were too deep, with the water underneath flooding our shoes ... (sometimes when I'm explaining a childhood memory it's impossible to speak of the memory being solely my own, since I had a best friend by my side for almost all of childhood! (= ).
Ryan and I put together an old favorite for dinner - being back on dairy and beef has been so exciting, so we celebrated by cooking our first cream-of-mushroom-soup-casserole: hamburger & potato casserole. It's super easy and simple, and equally as comforting:
Hamburger and Potato Casserole -
Peel and slice approximately 6 potatoes into thin discs, as thin as you can unless you've got a mandolin to make it easy. I sliced our potatoes into a bowl of cold water, drying them on paper towels once we were ready to build our casserole. Chop up as much celery and onion as you'd like - I used 1 small onion and 2 ribs of celery ... saute onion and hamburger until hamburger reaches it's desired doneness ... add celery and cook a few minutes more. Drain off any extra fat ... salt and pepper ... mix in 1 can of cream of mushroom soup.
In the bottom of a large-ish casserole, layer half of your potatoes. Salt and pepper the tops. Throw in that creamy-gooey hamburger mixture and top with the other half of your potatoes. Salt and pepper the top of your casserole. Drizzle 2 T. of milk on top. Cover and bake at 350* F. for about 1 hour.
We found that some of our potatoes were still a bit crisp, so if that bothers you, perhaps add an extra 15 minutes to your cook-time.
I love that Ryan knows that this casserole is his Dad's favorite .. there's something about knowing your parents' favorites - colors, meals, drinks ... hahah Knowing my nephews growing up, it was important for them to know, even as 3 and 4 year-old children, everyone's favorites!
The photos I've posted today are of some visitors we had this evening ... The debate is on as to if there were six deer .. that I saw from my photo-taking perspective .. or eight .. that Ryan said he saw from our upstairs bedroom winter. You can see the woods to the east, the houses to the north .. Aren't they beautiful? I secretly thought of one of the few huntsmen I know .. Ryan J..! Have you gotten a deer yet?