Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Trio

Thanksgiving outfits are done!
Using
One More Moore's simple tutorial on reverse applique, I whipped these out today, and they're ready to rock for tomorrow!

I changed it up a little by hand-stitching instead of using a machine, making rick-rack gobbles, and adding beaks.

{These are their actual hand prints!}

Okay, now I can officially say it...
**Kevin's been embarassedly anticipating my posting this phrase all month:**

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chayse Robert- Not a Vegetarian!

On Friday, we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving Round II, with the other side of the family. Hoping to avoid the same traditional meal two nights in a row, Kevin decided he'd like Prime Rib for Friday's dinner. So tonight, Daddy brought home the bacon (well... the beef). Proudly, he passed the impressive 8-pound slab of meat to each one of the kids for inspection. The girls quickly scattered. Chayse wanted to know more.

"It's Prime Rib," Kevin told him,
"You know... beef."

"Cow," I elaborated, to which he matter-of-factly replied:
{followed by a very high-pitched big sister's giggle}

"Ohhhh, I only like killed pig."

Sorry, Wilbur.

Perhaps we should lay off the Charlotte's Web.


Gobble, Gobble??

It's never too early...

...for wakeboard practice.
Although our days at the lake may seem far off,
why not start brushing up now?!



Watersports in the family room...
Isn't our dad the coolest!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cookie Monday!

Jam Thumbprints

I started making these at Christmas time four years ago, when I taught preschool. I made and packaged them as gifts for my fellow teachers, and they were a huge hit! Everyone asked for the recipe. Now they remind me of the holiday season, so here they are!

1. Start with my
basic shortbread dough, using only vanilla, rather than the combination of extracts. You can also use a 50/50 ratio of All Purpose flour and Whole Wheat flour, and they still taste great! Form the ball of dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. In the mean time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare the following ingredients:

one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water
2 cups flaked coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened all-fruit spread (I like raspberry and apricot)

3. Once chilled, form dough into small, walnut-sized balls (makes about 32). Roll balls in the egg wash, then in the coconut, and place on baking sheet. Make an indentation with your thumb on top of each cookie, making sure not to break the dough apart.
{see Chayse's thumbprint, below}


4. Fill each indentation with a little dollop of jam (about 1/2 teaspoon), and bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy!

Like I said, packaged nicely in clear cellophane bags, tied with ribbon, these cookies make great, yummy homemade gifts!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Farmers' Market Saturday

We are so spoiled with the best Farmers' Market, open year-round. I typically shop for dinner ingredients every single day, usually not knowing what I'm going to make until inspired by the quality of produce and meat available.

So when Kevin asked for something he and his good friend Mike could nibble on during today's Cal game, the Farmers' Market was my first stop!

This is what looked delicious to me. All local. All organic. What could be better?

Flipping through my new
Ina book, with a whole harvest of goodness on my counter top, I found two great recipes and adapted them, resulting in these:

Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta
{serves 3-4 as an appetizer}

Ingredients:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
one small red onion, sliced thinly
4 red bell peppers, sliced thinly
1/2 cup small cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon sugar
course salt
freshly ground black pepper
one crusty french baguette, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 ounces Parmesano Reggiano shavings

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and continue to saute, stirring occasionally until tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and saute for 3 minutes more, until caramelized. Stir in garlic and tomatoes, and reduce heat to low. Season with salt & pepper to taste, and keep warm.
2. Arrange bread slices on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Lightly brush each slice with remaining olive oil and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
3. Top each toast with a spoonful of the pepper mixture and a few shavings of Parmesan. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

{A garnish of julienned fresh basil would be a great addition, but I couldn't find any at the Market this time.}

Cape Cod Salad with Smoked Salmon
{serves 4 as a starter; 2 as an entree}

Ingredients:

8 ounces baby greens
one large apple, sliced 1/4 inch thick {I used a Honey Crisp}
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries*
6 ounces creamy blue cheese, crumbled
8 ounces smoked salmon, flaked into bite-sized chunks
Dressing:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
fresh juice and grated zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
course salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup good olive oil

*I only buy organic dried fruit, as the pesticides in the fruit concentrate in the dehydration process.
{I would use orange in place of the lemon juice and zest, but my husband does not care for orange in most dishes.}

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, toss together the greens, apple, walnuts, cranberries, and blue cheese.
2. For the dressing, whisk together in a small bowl the vinegar, lemon juice and zest, mustard, maple syrup, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Slowly incorporate the olive oil, whisking constantly.
3. Toss the salad with the dressing until just moistened. Add smoked salmon and re-season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

***
These, followed by a little Port and dark chocolate, made the perfect Saturday afternoon lunch. Mr. Particular (aka Kevin) even said these were two of the best things I've ever made! WOW!

Friday, November 21, 2008

TGIF!

It's my lucky friday... AGAIN! Thanks to Mama Manifesto, {and I Can Do That! Games}, I was one of six winners of last week's giveaway! Someone I know happens to love Horton! I'm sure Santa will be pleased to be able to scratch something off his ever-growing list. Those Mamas really are the best!

Mornings like this,

with views such as these:
{Family Room window}

{Kitchen window}

...make me
never wanna move!

This is what I see when I open the blinds every morning.

In the Bay Area, we are blessed with
the combination of sunny skies,
together with crisp, cool autumn air.
Not to mention leaves that
actually change color,
a whole spectrum!
(This was non-existent growing up in San Diego.)

I'm also still getting used to
yielding to families of
wild turkeys crossing the road.
(I won't mention the crossing warning road signs we have in San Diego... let's just say they involve human families.)

{Don't get me wrong, I love my hometown!}
***

Isn't November wonderful?!

Dear Chayse, I'll never forget...

What a great big brother you are. Just look at that face! You are so in love with your baby sister. A few nights ago, you were the subject of one of Chloe's interviews- a looong list of your "favorites." Patiently, you answered each question. My favorite?

Interviewer (aka Big Sister):
"Who is you favorite person?"

You: "Camden," (giggle, giggle, giggle) "She cracks me up!"


A mere 26 months apart, you have never expressed an ounce of jealousy. You proudly call yourself her Protector. Each day at naptime, you kiss eachother good"night", as you smile and say, "I wish Camden could take a nap with me." She's so lucky to have a brother like you to play with, learn with, and cuddle with. And guess what? You happen to be very high on the list of her favorite people. I fear for the boys in high school who dare mess with your little Stinky!

***

{Today you are 3 years, 10 months, and 10 days old. I love you.}

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear Chloe, I'll never forget...

Second grade 'Communication Journal' entries like this one, turned in today: {taken word for word, including punctuation}

Two Boys in our class Keep telling on us (me and Ava) for no reason and we have tryed something 3 times and they are not lisening. What should I do? Can I use names in this story? If I can, their names are Matthew and Tommy S. It would make us feel so much better if they stopped. Even before that, they have been spying on us without asKing us. Now, one Boy in our class and one Boy in somebody else’s class is spying on us. Me and Ava are having a lot of Boy problems.

{One day I'm sure you'll forgive me for posting journal entries- maybe even appreciate it; I promise not to continue this into Junior High.}

***

Yesterday you received your first report card of your grade year. Wow! It was excellent- almost as perfect as it gets! Your teacher had so many nice things to say about what a wonderful student you are. You continue you challenge yourself, which makes us SO proud of you!! Congratulations, Chlo-Bo!

(We celebrated with Cold Stone!)

***

{Today you are 7 years, 2 months, and 22 days old. I love you.}

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dear Camden, I'll never forget...

Whenever you ask me for a special treat, something you know very well I might not approve of, and I kneel down real close to your face, you smile your buck-toothed grin, cock your head to the side, and say (so sweetly) 'Hi!' It's as if 'Hi' is your "cherry on top" of 'Pretty Please.'
And it gets me every time.

***

Tonight after dinner, you asked to take off your diaper, marched to the bathroom, tried to climb onto the toilet (luckily I followed), and with me holding you steady, you pooped in the potty. You've had many false alarms. You often pretend you have to go, I think to get an extra few oh-so-fascinating flushes in. Once you said "poop" while naked, then pooped in the living room soon after. I should have listened. Another time I took your diaper off at the beach, you squatted, and, yep! Out came poop. But tonight, for the first time, you really did it.
YAY, Stinky!

***

{Today you are 1 year, 8 months, and 9 days old. I love you.}

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cookie Monday!

Lime Meltaways
Today's cookies are actually an extention of friday's dinner. I just baked off the 2nd half of the dough today, which is partly why they're so great. You can make them ahead, and have the dough on hand in the freezer. Inspired by my friend Kandice, who made a similar cookie last week, I tried another trusty Martha recipe. This one comes from her book, "Martha Stewart's Cookies." I didn't alter it a bit. Anything that calls for a whole tablespoon of vanilla is my kind of recipe! Plus I love all things lime, so I knew this would be a winner.
First, follow Martha's instructions (there's even a video tutorial).

Once your logs of dough are chilled, they're
ready to cut, bake, & sugar!

{Camden's sneaky fingers}

These really do melt in your mouth, hence the name,
and I must warn you: they tend to be addictive!

Camden's Idea of a Great Day

Every monday when her big brother & sister go back to school, Camden feels quite disappointed and lonely. Here is how she consoles herself:

(there's a reason we call her Stinky...
short for StinkER!)

Dried rice & bean recipes a la Mimi.
(Thanks mom, rice grains between your toes
is awesome!)


My button collection makes its way
out of the jar yet again...
Insistent on wearing Chayse's apron!


Strollin'.

Dissecting the granola bar in search of
chocolate chips only.


Lovin' on elephants.

Hours of coloring.
(Carpet? Yes. Permanent Ink? Yep!)


Is it naptime yet?!


Two current Camden caveats:
1. (When in the mood and without a big audience) she can now recite the entire alphabet, usually only skipping one or two letters.
2. Every day for the past week or so, after dropping the kids off at school, she insists I sing "Deck the Halls" REPEATEDLY the entire ride home.

Chunky Chili and other Weekend Highlights

We get together for dinner at our house with Kevin's brothers, and their lovely girlfriends, on Friday nights as often as possible. If we can stay up late enough (not quite as often), we play Cranium, too. This friday I made Chunky Veggie Chili- an easy crowd pleaser! We had Lime Meltaways for dessert. This recipe is really more of a method; you can substitute the veggies, meats, beans and spices to suit your desires. I make it slightly different each time.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
3 bell peppers (assorted colors), chopped
3 zuccini, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lb. ground turkey
1 1/4 lb. lean ground beef
2 cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 can low-sodium black beans
1 can low-sodium kidney beans
8 oz. low-sodium chicken or beef stock
2 cups frozen corn
1 tablespoon course salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions:

1. In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium. Add onions and sautee, stirring often, until they begin to caramalize. Add bell peppers and zuccini and cook about 5 minutes more, until strating to brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer veggies to a bowl.

2. In the same dutch oven, brown meats. Add salt & pepper and spices. Return veggies to the pot, and add tomatoes, beans, and stock.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add corn a few minutes before serving.

*Serve with shredded cheese (we like sharp cheddar and pepper jack), sour cream, sliced avocado, and corn bread.

This makes a huge batch. The next day, morph the leftovers into a Chili Mac & Cornbread Casserole by mixing some cooked macaroni noodles and shredded cheese into the chili, transferring mixture to a large baking dish, crumbling cornbread over the top, and baking until golden and bubbly. Yum! Uncle Bobby will say that the chili's even better this way, but I think he'll say that whatever he's putting in his mouth at the time is the best ever.


Saturday we went to Gramma & Pa's for lot's of fun outdoor activities, including swimming (where are you, fall?), making train tracks in the front yard, and bike riding. Chloe had her first lesson in riding without training wheels! Being the serious, realistic kid she is, she kept saying (lip-quivering), "I just don't undertand how something with only two wheels can stay up without falling!" Yes, many a tear were shed along the way, but she didn't give up until her inner thighs were sore from all that rubbing (it was shorts & tank top weather... again... fall?!) Way to go, Chlo-Bo!

Kevin and I also helped out a bit with the major painting makeover they bravely decided to take on in time for the holidays. It looks great so far! I have an awesome technique for making a perfect edge, and Kevin is like an acrobat on top of a ladder (let's say their ceilings are not low). So we put ourselves to good use while Pa & Gramma did what they do best... keep track of three crazy kids!


Sunday evening was very low-key.

Kevin made dinner.

Chayse kept Stinky busy with legos and toy cars.

Chloe and I worked hard to finish her big ancestor project for school.


After dinner we all sat down to watch The Santa Clause 2 (we are obsessed with Christmas movies), and sipped hot apple cider.

Camden tried to eat her cinnamon stick.

After the kids went to sleep and we had our Desperate Housewives fix, Kevin gave me an awesome back massage until I too fell asleep, then he carried me to bed.

I'd say there's really no better way to finish off the weekend!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shame on the Corn Refiner's Association!

One of my favorite portions of the Mama Manifesto blog is called 'Going Granola.' Today, on this topic, they addressed the recent ad campaign promoting the use of high fructose corn syrup. You may have seen these ridiculous commercials that are both misleading to the public and very frustrating to those who are anti-processed foods {like me!}. The Mamas set the record straight in this great post- check it out! Also, Whole Foods Market has a simple guide to sweeteners here, and a list of unacceptable ingredients for food here. Let's stay informed and put an end to the refined madness! How about some organic dried fruit to naturally satisfy that sweet tooth?!

Winner!


Wow, all that plugging I did for Taste Homemade last week really paid off!
I won their first giveaway! (Look what's on it's way!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"How bad could THIS be?"


I still haven't completely been able to pull myself together. Today, Amanda and I made the trek to San Francisco for
Ina's book signing at Williams- Sonoma in Union Square. We weren't expecting the blazing heat as we patiently awaited, lined up outside the four story building, among hundreds of other fans. We were smart to bring the stroller. One friendly employee spotted us and sent us directly to the top floor, via elevator. The stroller would never make it up all those stairs, after all! Elevator?! Yes, I braved the elevator for Ina. I never take elevators. We were suddenly practically at the front of the line! Eventually, the Barefoot Contessa herself made her way out of the same elevator, and the crowd errupted in applause as she winded around to take her seat, smiling the entire way of course- very Ina-esque. From that point on everything happened so fast, it's kind of a blur! I threw Camden at Amanda, and tried to calm my nerves, feeling strangely similar to the way I felt as I waited outside the church, preparing to walk down the aisle.

Almost there!

My big moment! Here I am professing my love, totally star-struck and teary-eyed. She giggled her signature giggle the whole time, and said as I walked away, "A real fan!"

That's right!

Wow... It's not every day you come face to face with your idol.

In the elevator ride down, it made a very loud, scary noise, and I literally jumped on top of Amanda. But then I said, "I guess it's okay if I die, at least I got to meet Ina!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Requests!


I. Mac & Cheese

Due to popular demand (okay, there were two of you), here is my recipe for simple, yummy Mac & Cheese with Broccoli and Tomatoes:



Ingredients:

one pound elbow macaroni
one broccoli crown, chopped into bite-sized florets
one stick unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
one pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 teaspoons course salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Add pasta to boiling, salted water. Cook until al dente, according to package directions. During the last 2 minutes, toss in the broccoli. Strain.
2. Meanwhile, heat milk in a small saucepan, but do not boil. In a dutch oven, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until pasty. Slowly incorporate warm milk, whisking contantly until thickened. Off the heat, add cheeses, salt, pepper, and paprika, stirring until combined.
3. Add pasta and broccoli to the cheese sauce. Transfer mixture to a large baking pan, and top with sliced tomatoes. Melt remaining butter, and combine with breadcrumbs; sprinkle over the top of the dish. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Enjoy!

II. Baby Shoes

I am requesting a good home for these super cute Ralph Lauren baby shoes. I found them for a great clearance price, with my good friend Tegan in mind, only to find out she's expecting a boy.
Size 4 (eyelet) and 2 (plaid), they are sadly too small for CamCam. Seeing them in my closet just makes me sad, so I'm going to have to let them go. Mom, has Heidi revealed the sex? Have a girl on the way, or know someone who does? Leave me a comment...

III. Hair Clip Giveaway

And the winners are...

Trish, kkmom, and Christian!

How could I choose between three?
(Sadly, I was forced to disqualify my mom- her hair bow days are no longer- and Tegan- again, having a boy.)

What colors will you choose?!

Hooray for hair clips!

PS... Stay tuned, tomorrow brings a very exciting post! I can barely contain myself!

Husband Appreciation Day


Last weekend, as I read through comments from bloggers, I found this under my "Invisible Mom" post:

I LOVE YOU SO MUCH THANK YOU FOR BEING THE ONLY SOUL THAT I THINK ABOUT, AND CAN'T WAIT TO COME HOME TO AFTER A HARD DAY AND FEEL SO... AT ... HOME!!!

YOUR HUSBAND


Thinking about these words ever since, and now being ispired by today's Mama Manifesto article, I have decided to take Ali's challenge, and list five things I love about Kevin... five things I am thankful for... today is Husband Appreciation Day. There are a million things I need to do right now, but what could be more important than this? Everyone who knows Kevin knows he is so full of great qualities, which makes it hard to narrow it down. But these are five big ones.

1. He has an incredible work ethic. A serious passion for "working with his hands" and keeping industry in our country, he loves what he does (and loves to share the details of his day with me- do I understand? not usually.) Whenever I talk to him during the day he is so upbeat, simply about being productive. He always does whatever it takes to get the job done, whether it means working until 11pm, or researching challenging aspects after the kids go to sleep. He looks up to his boss, even as a father-figure, striving to become everything he is. Most, importantly, though, he is proud to be sole provider for a family of five, allowing me to play with kids and be crafty all day long.

2. It's not just work that he's passionate about. May it be friends, food, {Bay Area} sports, music, or family, he puts 110% into EVERYTHING he does. There's nothing boring about him. He would go to the end of the earth to help a friend in need. Family comes first; he's constantly giving reference to how great he was raised. When he gets home from working all day, he immediately sweeps up the kids, allowing me to make dinner in peace. Sometimes he doesn't even get his feet all the way in the door. He loves chick flicks, and when I fall asleep watching them, he always wakes me up for a hug at the end, when he's {no doubt} crying like a girl. He's always the butt of the joke (and such a good sport), and ALWAYS the life of the party. This is one of the first things that attracted me to him. There is never a dull moment with Kevin.

3. He always smells great! (and knows it.)

4. He brags about his wife where ever he goes. (I'm not saying I deserve it!) He was so proud of my wedding planning, that when it was
featured on Style Me Pretty, he gave everyone the link, from the grocery store checkers to the bank tellers. He likes to think he's responsible for my start in blogging, as he brought me home an article on "Mommy blogging" last year. (always thinking of me!) And don't come over without expecting him to pull up my latest blog post, or show off my current art projects.

5. He knows exactly how I like my Root Beer Floats: 40% Breyer's Natural Vanilla Ice Cream/ 60% Hansen's Creamy Root Beer, no exceptions.

Kevin makes me a better person.

His brother, Brody, said it best in his toast at our wedding: "Kevin doesn't put on a front for anybody... He's just himself...

Our lives would mean nothing without him."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day "Off"

No School Today!

Donuts for breakfast!

Made a cozy fort...

...and button cupcakes.
*photo by Chlo-bo


Turkey Handprint Art


Lunch at the park...



...playtime, too.

Happy Veterans Day.
Visit to the Veterans Memorial Building.
{bench made by
Papa & Uncle Bobby!}


Much needed naps.

A walk along the creek to the grocery store.

Entertainment by Dada, while Mommy made dinner.

Homemade Mac & Cheese with broccoli and tomatoes.

Bedtime Cookies!

November Sky