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Thursday, January 31, 2013

His Big 3-0

This past weekend we hosted a party for B Daddy to usher in his 30th year.

It was lovely not because of anything in particular that we did - but because so many friends and family came to celebrate B Daddy. I LOVE being surrounded by everyone I love (or lots of them at least). I'm an extrovert. I love social occasions and find excuses to host parties and get folks together. But my introverted hubs loved it too. It helped that there was good beer and people brought presents for him.

A few people have asked how I got everything done and so there's a second post coming (eventually) where I'll wax poetic about hospitality and throwing great parties...I'm an expert you know.

Our sweet friend Amy took pictures for me so I could enjoy myself.

Spoiler alert: my basic recipe for a great party = great food + great people. You can never go wrong.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Brown Thumb

I bought a houseplant today. With this addition the total number of plants in our home comes  I'm notorious for killing them. I wanted to go public with the addition so you can help me mourn in a few short weeks when it inevitably bites the dust.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Real Food Problems

For the past year our family has steadily moved in the direction of eating real food. Sounds revolutionary doesn't it? "Real food" is simply food our grandmothers would recognize (possibly our great-grandmothers if your grandmother's favorite food is a chili dog from the Varsity like mine) as opposed to the packaged food that lines the shelves in the middle of the grocery store. Real food is the stuff on the edges of the store: the milk, the produce, the meat.

As we've moved in this direction, I found it simple to bake my own cookies instead of buying them and to make other former pantry staples (chicken broth, pancake mix, pumpkin puree). But consuming more fresh produce was frustrating at the start. I loved the farmer's market this summer and went each weekend, often coming home with a big crate of peaches or tomatoes...but I found myself throwing lots of produce to the chickens because I just didn't know how to use it all up before it went bad.

And while I've given canning a isn't second nature. So I started keeping a list of what I've found to do with produce that's overabundant or past its prime. I'm now ashamed by how much I formerly threw away. Feel free to Pin It and use this list as a reference for the future. And  leave a comment if I've left something out that you have a great solution for!

Apples - make crockpot applesauce (then freeze), bake into apple pie (then freeze), also dehydrate well
Avocado - cut it up and freeze (stays beautifully green!)
Bananas - freeze whole, either with or without peel. Use frozen in smoothies, defrost and mush for baby food or for use in banana bread/muffins.
Berries - make freezer jam, flash freeze for smoothies or baking, make homemade fruit roll-ups
Clementines/oranges/tangerines - bake into sunshine muffins, zest and freeze the zest
Cucumbers - slice and add to ice water for a refreshing twist
Grapefruit - make grapefruit olive oil cake, zest and freeze
Lemons/Limes - freeze the zest (you can throw an already juiced lemon or lime into the freezer as is and pull out later for zesting!)
Pears - roast for dessert, homemade fruit roll-ups
Pineapple - chop and flash freeze, add to smoothies
Stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots) - bake into cobbler (then freeze), homemade fruit roll-ups
Watermelon - make granita

Bell Peppers - chop and freeze for easy stir-frys or fajitas
Butternut Squash - make Butternut Squash applesauce
Carrots - save tops and ends for homemade chicken or vegetable broth (can dehydrate if you have a machine and store up to 6 months)
Celery - just like carrots, save tops and ends for broth
Kale - make kale chips, add to smoothies, blend with a bit of water and freeze in cubes for instant smoothie add-in
Onion - save ends and skins for homemade broth, dehydrate
Pumpkin - make pumpkin puree, freeze
Spinach - add to smoothies, blend with a bit of water and freeze in cubes for instant smoothie add-in, sauté slightly wilted spinach for easy side dish
Squash/Zucchini - grate with cheese grater and freeze. Throw in pasta dishes or make zucchini bread from frozen.
Tomatoes - make tomato paste.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Brave New World

In the weeks since Christmas a change has settled over my eldest children. Seemingly out of the blue, Sweet B (2) and Squirt (3 1/2) are now playing together peacefully for large blocks of time. Not only that, they are doing it without prompting or direction. I'll find them sequestered in our closet pretending to be hiding from bad guys (Squirt is doing a lot of directing) or making a birthday cake for me in Sweet B's play kitchen.

This is from a duo who just a few weeks ago couldn't manage 5 minutes alone together before there was screaming and crying.

I'm in awe of the miracle of it all. Sometimes I'll just whisper to B Daddy, "Babe...they're doing IT again." Then we watch together with bated breath until one of them breaks the spell by shoving/biting/screaming at the other. For now I feel like a golden age is upon us. A new era in which siblings play imaginatively with one another and Mommy can put make-up on in peace. In this brave new world Mommy does not have to partake in the toddler-play herself, she can watch from afar with a gentle sigh, "oh to be 3 again..." Mommy no longer has to endlessly mine Pinterest for "toddler activities" instead she can listen to the sounds of Buzz Lightyear (Squirt) rescuing Woody (always Sweet B) again and again from the evil Sid (poor Benny Boo) while she preps dinner in blissful solitude.

This must be what people are talking about when they say it's lovely to have children close in age. Is my stretched out stomach finally receiving its reward for incubating these tinies one right after the other? What merriment will 2014 bring when Blue Eyes can run and talk and join in the mischief?!?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Green Smoothies

No it's not 2006 - I'm just jumping on the green smoothie bandwagon at long last.

In an attempt to kick start our nutrition in the morning, I've started making smoothies for breakfast around here. B Daddy, Sweet B and Blue Eyes are fans, but Squirt has turned his nose up at every. single. one. 

I never attempted the "green" part of smoothies in the past because my smoothie-drinking friends all seemed to have a fancy Vitamix or Blendtec, but it turns out that our trusty Cuisinart can handle a few greens just fine. 

Here are the two recipes I've been sticking with so far:

Popeye Smoothie
2 cups spinach
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1 banana
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 T almonds
1 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp honey

Tropical Green Monster
2 cups spinach
1 cup fresh pineapple (canned works great)
1 fresh or frozen banana
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I plan to try subbing coconut milk tomorrow!)
2 T almonds
2 T coconut
1 tsp honey

Throw all ingredients together (liquid on the bottom seems to work out best) and blend away!  

Oh and I recommend investing in bendy straws, preferably in your picky eaters' favorite colors if you intend to serve green food to your toddlers first thing in the morning.

Then again, maybe straws are overrated.  Let me know if you try one of these recipes out, or if you've got a good recipe for me to add to the mix.  

Thanks for reading! 

Monday, January 7, 2013


The last of the Christmas decorations made their way to the attic today, so I suppose it's finally time to tell you about my plans for the New Year. In high school and college I liked to make grandiose resolutions each year. Things like stop eating chocolate and be less prideful were in regular rotation on the resolution playlist. This eventually gave way to the oh-so-more attainable goals I set  in my twenties. Things like: spend more time in the Word, make cooking at home a priority and work-out four times a week were pretty typical over the past decade.

Ushering in the New Year as a mature woman of 30, I felt that my New Year routine was again in need of tweaking. This year I've chosen a word to live by. I'm sure you've seen this around blogland- folks picking one word they can implement in multiple arenas of their lives and in so doing become better versions of themselves. 

My word for 2013? 


This can manifest itself in so many ways, but I'm choosing to focus on the following:

Savor my children. They are at incredibly precious ages and yet I pine for the future - when we start homeschooling or when they go off to school, when I don't have to referee toddler wars, when diapers are not a line item on our budget, when they rise up from the table and call me and the food I have prepared for them blessed. I want to savor the giggles, the chubby fingers, the imaginative games and yes, even the neediness. I know that one day these will all be cherished memories - the rough edges of monotony and physical exhaustion rubbed smooth as the years flow past them. 

Savor the moment. This goes hand-in-hand with savoring my children, but extends beyond them. More and more lately I find myself picking up my phone to check Instagram or Facebook for absolutely no reason. I might be in the car coming home from church (B Daddy driving obviously) or watching the kids ride bikes and I'll mindlessly check in with some social media site. I've noticed an addict-like tendency to check my phone when B Daddy and I are watching television or just hanging out. It sucks the potential out of the present moment like nothing else. I find social media amazingly useful, so there's no way I'll be giving it up, but I want to be intentional about making time for it and not letting it worm its way into the margin of my day. 

Savor the flavor. Like many of you, I'd like to shed a few pounds in the coming year (hey maybe I WON'T get pregnant this year! That would help.) and I think the best way for me to aid that process is to focus on the food I put in my mouth. I can put AWAY some food y'all. It's kind of embarrassing. Going out to eat with girlfriends I'm the one eating the bread in the basket, cleaning my plate AND ordering dessert. That I do not share. I'm hoping that taking time to focus on the flavors and the textures of what I'm eating will slow me down and help me make wise decisions. If all else fails, there's always the trip to the beach with a bunch of 16 year olds to motivate me as well. 

After a whopping six days I can report that I really like having a WORD rather than a list of goals. More importantly, B Daddy likes that he knows my word too. 

"Savor" is now code for, "are you really checking your Tweet feed while I talk to you?", "should you really be eating ice cream straight out of the tub?" and "I know that Blue Eyes just threw up in your hand, but one day you will look back on this moment and laugh." 

Do you make resolutions each year or have a word for 2013? Whether you do or don''s to hoping you savor what life has in store for you in 2013. (And also that no one throws up in your hand this week. )

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