Monday, July 30, 2012

Extended Play Date

Have you ever had a friend, when upon meeting them, you know instantly that you were destined to be lifelong friends? I've been lucky to have a few of those friends so far in my life, and one of them is my very dear friend, Amy.

Amy and I were able to share much of our pregnancies together with her nugget being due May 21st, and mine June 15th. But with an early arrival by hers, and a late arrival by mine, they ended up being about 2 and half months apart instead of 3 weeks.

At any rate, they are still close enough in age to be playmates. Matilda and Paddy Jr are too young to probably be able to determine if they will be forever friends, but I would be lying if I didn't envision them running around and getting into mischief together each and every time Amy and I are lucky enough to get to visit.

What better way to build a friendship than to share your favorite things in life:



 and Watermelon?

They both got to hang-out in Grandpa's boat, chew on some plastic worms, and play peekaboo with the chair. (Here Matilda, is showing us how she knows what an elephant 'says'...)

And who among us hasn't heard of the phrase: Friends that bathe together, stay together.
Okay, I totally made that up, but can you resist these pictures.

Certainly, I will be punished for these some day... Guess whose booty is bigger? I'll give you a hint. It's not the eldest child's....

Oh, what a weekend it was. These two are definitely still in their own little world, and it will only continue to get more fun as they interact more. In the meantime, I will continue to be grateful for my amazing friend, and soak up every second I get to spend with her and her always-up-for-a- good-time Hubby (who by the ways is the only person I have ever met to successfully comandeer my Mother's kitchen and make dinner from start to finish)...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's Cooking

We tried 2 recipes that were worth writing home about this week. And as a bonus, Matilda LOVED both of them. I am love love loving that she is starting to eat the food we eat, and that she loves big flavor.

I am also loving figuring out ways to use up our quite abundant garden and crop share ingredients. There is just an amazing feeling about using everything up in your refrigerator, when you know it is all healthy, good-for-you stuff.

In general it was a week of 'old stand-by's'" Frittata, stuffed peppers, and Nugs/Salad for me on Nate's class night. But these two recipes were new to the menu, and oh-so-worth sharing. The first recipe is a great take on pasta. I love me some pasta, and I love it even more with healthy stuff tossed in and new flavorful sauces.

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Almond-Tomato Sauce

1/2 cup roasted almonds
1 head broccoli, cut into smaller pieces
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup EVOO (we used less)
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano Tomatoes (we just used canned diced and it was great)

1) Put almonds in food processor and process until finely chopping. with motor running add the garlic until chopped. Then drizzle in the EVOO until blended and then finally the basil and blend until smooth. Add to large bowl.
2) Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with foil and place broccoli on it. Transfer to the oven and roast for 14 minutes or until tender(could turn peices about half-way through). Season broccoli with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl. (We covered so that they stayed warm). Put in large bowl with sause from Step #1.
3) Cook Pasta.
4) If you use whole tomatoes, the original recipe recommends food processing the tomatoes. We didn't do this because we used diced.
5) Toss pasta with tomatoes, broccoli, tomatoes and sauce.

The second recipe that was a must-share of this week was from July 2012 Cooking Light.

Beet and Brown Rice Sliders.

Look at these colors. It's beets, walnuts, breadcrumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, mustard, egg and olive oil mixed up. Put on a bun and topped with goat cheese and arugula. I am a meat-lover, but these things could turn me vegetarian.

Here is the link to the full really is a must try people.

Monday, July 23, 2012

All In A Day

This weekend, our Saturday was one for the record books. A rare day where it literally felt like there was nothing we couldn't fit in. Accomplish. Do for fun. It was the first time that I feel like we were able to reach pre-Matilda levels of productivity. Here are the stats for the day:

1 Run for Me
1 Run for Nate
2 Loaves of Zucchini bread made
Garden picked and semi-weeded
Goodwill clothes packed up and accounted for
A trip to the Sculpture Garden
A trip to the MPLS Farmer's Market
1 Batch of homemade garden salsa made
A trip to Como Zoo
All baby bottles/kitchen stuff organized and packed away
Kitchen Mopped and scrubbed
Trip to Trader Joe's
Homemade Fettucine with Corn and Arugula made for dinner
2 Loads of laundry done and folded
Movie Night: Beginners watched

I am hoping there are many more days like this in our future. Ridiculous amounts of fun combined with bringing lots of smiles and giggles to this girls face............

...........topped off with a whole lot of 'tasks' crossed off of my list and out of my mind!!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

13 Months

The weeks are flying by, and we still have yet to invent a time-freezing machine. I can't believe how much it feels like Matilda has turned into a little girl this past month. Turning from a roly poly baby, to a little girl with a huge personality.

So great moments and milestones (and photos) of this past month:

  • Saying "hi" to everyone she sees...just don't ASK her to say it. Also saying Mama and Dada, and is saying bye bye (in her own unique way).

  • Lifting her arm to make an elephant trunk when you ask her "what does an elephant say?"

  • Signing "all done" at the dinner table and IMMEDIATELY pulling off her bib--just in case we didn't catch the hint.

  • Very, very particular about which books you read to her. She will point with excitment, but if you guess which book she wants to read wrong, she quickly shoves it aside. She has also started to drag books across the room and bring them to you lap.

  • Two days in a row of incidents at daycare--falling down the climber, and eye injury due to daycare worker trying to (big surprise) take a book away. She is already such a nerd!

  • Survived the first major bout of fever, croup and throwing up--all while cutting a top tooth.
  • Still obsessed with cats and dogs---and has a very unique meowing noise when she sees one.

  • Doing more cruising on the sofa, chairs and with her little walking toys...but we are keeping our fingers crossed she doesn't get full-blown mobile anytime soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Road Rage

I know that Minnesotans like to talk about traffic just about as much as they like to talk about the weather. This, of course, is laughable since compared to much larger and cosmopolitan cities, we have very little traffic.

But it isn't the sheer fact that we have traffic that gets to me. It's that we really shouldn't.  The shit that causes back-ups in this town is ridiculous. From road signs saying 'buckle up' to a simple stalled car. You may as well have had a 5-car pile up for how the rest of the traffic world responds.

Tonight, as I was attempting to get onto Hwy 100 from 394 (quite possibly the most maddening merge in MN), I considered getting out of my car and just letting a vicious scream out. Because it was either that or bashing in someone's windshield. It is such a cluster. I seriously do not know why I continue to take this route.

ARGH. I apologize for the very surface and lame blog post, but on the off-chance the MNDOT is looking at this blog, I wan tto make it known that this girl would like the state to take some tax dollars and figure out the cluster that is Highway 100 between 394 and Excelsior. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's Cooking

Last week started out amazing on the dinner front. We cooked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. And then Monday night, the ear infection hit which meant no sleep. Which ultimately meant that I went to bed super early Tuesday and was not in the mood to eat anything--I think I had cereal.

And then Wednesday, Nate has class and I think I had cereal again. So it wasn't a culinary week for the ages, but we did get to use up an ingredient that is growing like crazy in our garden: KALE!

Saturday night we made Flank Steak with Salt and Vinegar Kale Potatoes and Grilled Vegetables. The potato recipe was one I had found on Pinterest. I personally love salt and vinegar anything, so the fact that I could add kale to it and pretend it was health was a bonus for me.

We baked our little potatoes in muffin tins as per the recipe instructions, and they turned out great. And of course, I cannot for the life of me remember where I found this recipe...Pinterest? Magazine? Cookbook? Hmmm..If I ever find it I'll post it here.

Sunday night kept the kale love fest going with Garden Veggie Pizza with Kale Pesto and Brie. Click this link to get the recipe:

We made the Kale Pesto ahead so it was a super easy, quick meal.

I can't say this would top real pizza with red sauce but it was a super fresh use-up-lots-of-garden-veg option that was most certainly healthier.

We also tried Spaghetti with Garlic Gravy and Lemon Herb Chicken on Monday night which was from Pinterest.

I could give you the recipe for my bowls of cereal for the rest of the week, but my guess is that you don't need that... :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Color Me Rad

This amazing weekend started with a lot of fun with Grandma Nancy (and included a little date night run and dinner  for Nate and I), included a trip to MOA, the pool, and dinner and a game of Killer Bunnies with the Ekern Girls.

The game of Killer Bunnies was really to get us pumped for the Color Run (and our Team name was the Color Bunnies), which we ran this morning.

Essentially it was 20,000 people running 3.1 miles and getting color pumped with color-dyed corn starch along the way. And at the VERY end...a massive color bomb:

It was such a fun race because literally every single person was there to. have. fun. Not to set a PR, or 'win'. Truly--to have fun and basically get turned into a human Crayola. They had great music pumping, volunteers that were having a blast 'coloring' you up, and one of the best run races I have ever been in--(umm....I am pretty sure the Rock N' Roll series could take some tips).

We were all very good and saved our packets to the very end. There were many people who have some premature epacketlation, and colored themselves on the course. I have to say that it would have been really fun to do that because I think those people got the most vivid color, but all in all, we went home looking like a rainbow and that was the goal.

Our team of Lumbering Bunny, Marilyn Bunroe, Bunny O Justice and Sinister Bunny had a great time, and we even had ONE person put the "color bunnies" together with the board game. What can I say...that means 5 people out of 20,000 are as big of dorks as us. 

At least we own it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Troop Mom

Growing up, I was in Girl Scouts proudly collecting badges from Daisy Scouts all the way through to my Silver award (admittedly I was pretty much way over being in Girl Scouts by this age). There was something so exciting about getting your big ‘book of badges’, reading the requirements and planning out the plan of attack to earn such honorary badges like “Humans and Habitats”, “ Being My Best” and “Caring for Children”

Ironically, my life has seem to come full circle as I find myself moving through motherhood, feeling as though I am collecting ‘motherhood badges’. There aren’t any specific requirements per se to earn these badges, and there certainly aren’t any books listing them out as each Mom collects her own badges.

I don’t have Troop Number or a fancy sash to sew my badges on. But I am collecting them. Mentally. And they aren’t for anyone else but a little feather in my motherhood confidence. A nod to the fact that I am doing this. And maybe I don’t have a troop of friends, but I certainly have a troop of fellow Moms who are earning their own badges.

This Friday I felt like I earned the “Handle Baby Vomit in the Middle of the Night” badge. Which was quickly followed by the “Break a 104 degree fever as quickly as possible” badge. (I'd like to see the stitching design on the patch for those 2).  Neither were quite as glamorous as “Food Power” or “Lead On Model Citizen”, but I would argue they are more important. At least to me.

The thing is, it seems like as a Mom you are faced with a slice of uncertainty almost every day. “Why didn’t Matilda eat today?”, “How do we get her to quit biting shoes?”, “Did she wake up crying for 3 hours last night because she was sick or because she is needy”? (the answer to the last question was sick—ear infection, which I TOTALLY called at 3AM—mentally sewing on the Mother’s Intuition badge..).

And all of the uncertainty can drive a person crazy. And so these imaginary awards are a little nod from myself to myself that I am competent. I am not screwing this up (or if I am it isn’t on a gigantic scale yet). And I will continue to collect.

And hopefully the collections will be even more fun in years to come—like instead of the “First blow-out in a public space badge” it will be “teach Matilda how to drive” and “help Matilda pick out the perfect prom dress.”

So my fellow Mom friends, what badges have you collected recently?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What's Cooking?

It's peach season, people! So last week's menu was rich with peaches. 

Our favorite peach recipe that we tried was: Bacon, Peach and Arugula Sandwiches. We picked this up from the July/August edition of Food Network. What you can't tell from the picture is that it has an amazing homemade basil spread.

We paired it with a quinoa, radish, goat cheese and bean sprout side salad. Mmm. Mmm.
Nate, who loves him some BLT, said that he things this could be his new go-to sandwich over a BLT.

Here is the recipe..and as a double bonus it is oh-so-easy.

8 slices thick-cut bacon
1/4 cup packed fresh basil
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 tsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
3 Tbsp. mayo (we used the Olive Oil mayo)
2 peaches, halved, pitted and thinly sliced
Arugula, for topping

1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat (or which ever method you prefer. We are bake the bacon in the oven sort of family).
2) Pulse basil, EVOO, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste in a mini food processor until smooth. Add the mayo and pulse until just combined.
3) Toast the bread and spread evenly with the basil mayo. Divide peaches, bacon and arugula among the bread. Make into sandwiches and ENJOY.

We also tried a  new pork tenderloin recipe (which was just okay) but it was paired with an amazing charred corn slaw, which is a must make. We had a fresh head of cabbage from our crop share, and I always love using up my crop share goods.

Here is the recipe:
2 ears corn, shucked
1 14-ounce bag shredded coleslaw mix (or you can just use fresh cabbage and prep yourself like we did)
1 Tbspn white vinegar
2 Tbspn cilantrol (but we adore cilantro in this house so I think we put about a 1/4 cup in).
2 Tbspn lime juice

1) Put the corn on the grill and cook, turning, until slightly charred (about 10 minutes). Let cool slightly then cut the kernels off the cob.
2) Toss with cabbage, vinegar, cilantro, lime juice and a dash of EVOO with salt and paper to taste.

Viola. Super fresh summer side. Apologize for the lack of pics. We took one but I can't find where it got saved to...apparently our photos are going rogue.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Green Thumbs Up!

We came home from Viroqua to a very lush garden. Unfortunately, it was lush with weeds.

So today, as Matilda got to nestle in for nap in the air conditioning, we got to head outside in the 101 degree sunshine and weed, weed, weed. (and also wage war against the killer mosquitoes).

But the fruits of our labor were pretty delicious:

I can't believe we already got to enjoy garden green beans tonight for dinner. And we have Jalapeno's coming out of our ears, so if anyone out there wants some, let me know.

Our tomato plants are like 5 feet tall, so I am going to g ahead and guess that it's going to be a killer year for salsa.

Now if only that money tree that we planted a few years back would grow and produce as much as our garden plants. We could quit our jobs, travel the world and spend every day with Matilda Mae.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Classic Summer Days

 When the summer days get hot, you gotta find a way to cool off. Combine that with the cousins being together and that could only mean one thing: break-out the sprinkler.

Matilda continues her obsession with animals. You always know when there is a dog or cat nearby. She makes a very distinctive sound. I am pretty sure she thinks she is speaking to them in their language.

Finn and Matilda are so darn cute together. Finn loves to give lots of kisses and snuggles to Matilda. And Matilda is always willing to give up some quick giggles for Finn.

And when the kids have to come inside because it's time to get ready for dinner, they still just hang out and look longingly outside at teh sunshine.

I feel myself getting older this summer. The heat feels oppressive. Perhaps it's not age, but I am just getting weak in my air-conditioned office life. I think I just cracked the code of why everyone always complains about the weather in my office. We are all used to the GMI temperature control, so no matter what....any weather outside will elicit complaints.

Anyway, stay cool out there. Drink lots of water, and if all else fails, break out the sprinkler.