Saturday, September 29, 2012

What's Cookin'?

It's been awhile since I have featured any of our new adventures in cooking. I wish I could say it was because all of the new things we have tried have been flops, or that I just keep forgetting about it..

But the reality is that the month of Aug and Sept were nutso and it felt like we were gone every weekend so when we weren't trying to keep our refrigerator empty of perishables, we were struggling to get our 'meal planning' legs under us in a way that actually let us cook recipes beyond the very basics.

But we are back! And it was our inaugural Soup Sunday last week as the fall season is officially upon us. We made Fast Chicken Chili from Cooking light and it was a major winner. First of all, it was super super easy--could easily be a weeknight meal. Second, it had spice, which we really like.

Here is a link to the recipe:

We topped ours with some tortilla chips and lots and lots of cilantro. And as always, left the onion out! :)

We also made  Taco Pizza using the recipe from Food Network magazine and some Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust, which is a lifesaver during the work-week. Nate prefers his Alton Brown recipe for homemade crust, but that is a lot more work than unrolling a can of dough.

Here is the recipe with our modifications:
1/4 cup canned refried black beans
1/2 cup store-bought salsa
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of sliced pickled jalapenos
1/4 cup of sour cream (which we omitted)
Romaine lettuce for topping (which we were very generous with)
Diced tomato for topping
1/4 cup of cilantro
**We added black olives too

While this recipe was delicious in flavor, I wish we would have used a pizza stone because the crust got kind of soggy with the refried beans. I would make it again though.

Out "Stand-by Staple" this week was Kitchen Sink Pasta. It's exactly what it sounds like--pasta with whatever veg we can find in the fridge!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Translation Tuesday: Mama Rodeo Clown

Recently, Matilda has been almost unbearable clingable--but just to me. We say she is working through some Mama issues, but who knows.

After our last babysitting debacle in which Matilda just cried and cried and cried when I left, I was literally petrified at what would happen on Friday when we left for our baby-swap date with our neighbors. So after much deliberation on whether or not we would just wait to leave after bedtime or what the best approach was, we hatched a new plan: the mama rodeo clown.

It went perfectly.
Nate got home on-time.
We played.
Then he swept Matilda off into the stroller and off to the park they went to play.
I got ready for our date, and drove off to the grocery store to kill some time while the 'switch' took place.
Pulled up to pick up my hot date, and we were off.

I was almost scared to ask how it went (but of course could not help myself)--and Nate said: "she barely noticed I left"

Of course, instead of immediately doing high kicks and fist pumps, I had to doubt--are you just not telling me so I enjoy myself? Are you telling me the truth? And yes, in fact he was. TRIUMPH!!! This could not be my clingy little baby! But it was.

The Mama rodeo clown is currently being employed in the morning as long as Matilda doesn't see me in the morning, she does great. Once she sees me though--it's over. All she wants is to be in my lap or in my arms--which wouldn't be such a problem if I didn't need my arms to dress myself, take a shower, blow-dry my hair, pack lunch...and so on.

On another note--I highly recommend a baby date night swap. Especially when your night of baby duty includes watching perhaps the most chill baby on the planet. I am wondering if my 15-month old can take notes from a 4-month old??

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gender Confused

File this under one of those things that shouldn't bother me, but for whatever reason it did.

Yesterday, we went about our normal Saturday business--awesome breakfast with friends, errands, park, etc--and Matilda was dressed in her cute little blue jeans and her Badger gear (because let's face it they need all the help and good luck charms they can get).

And all day, "what a cute little boy".

I cannot articulate why these incessant comments bothered me. First of all, I wanted to say do you NOT see her pink shoes? Did you not notice the little rouching on the t-shirt--clearly a girls shirt. And then I started to get more philosophical--so just because she has a sports shirt on, she is automatically a boy? Why can't girls wear sports shirts?

Clearly this is why her Aunt Marna made her tutus last year. To just bypass this issue while wearing her sports colors.

And it was a little ridiculous HOW many people said something to us yesterday. Don't get me wrong, Matilda will often get a few 'she is so precious' 'so cute' etc while out (Let's be honest--all kids do), but yesterday it was like every.single.person. So maybe the fact that people thought she was a boy, but she had girlie cuteness made her stand-out more? I don't know.

Good thing we didn't have her Badger stocking hat on too, or I may have ended up having to enforce the Justice Police on someone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Giggler

One of my favorite things about Matilda right now is that if you ask her if she wants something, and she does, she giggles.

A very cute, but excited giggle.

Do you want to eat?
Do you want Mama to read you a book?
Do you want to go to the park?
Want Mama to pick you up?

Giggle. Giggle. Giggle.

It's super cute.

Except, when she does something naughty, like bites you. And you actually yell for the first time ever and the resonse is: Giggle.

Matilda is not a biter. But she is getting teeth and I have to believe that is painful, and therefore biting down on something, anything must feel pretty darn good.

And in general, we haven't "disciplined" all that much yet because so much of her 'naughty' behavior is just innocent exploring that we help direct to better activities.

So when my first real "MATILDA! NO!" said in a serious, forecful tone was met with giggles, I knew right then and there: we are screwed.

Not sure what to do about this except pray pretty hard that she is an angel that doesn't need disciplining, but I am guessing that isn't going to work exactly as planned. In the meantime, I am open to suggestions and am working on a much less 'funny 'response....

Monday, September 17, 2012

The REAL Best Fair Ever

There is nothing better than a perfectly sunny fall day, in Viroqua, WI when the Vernon County Fair is town.
We headed home for this very nostalgic event. It was a childhood favorite, that I always looked forward to.

We even on the Friday of the fair. As  a snow day for cotton candy and carnival rides and no actual snow.

The Keaty's were home. We congregated with the Schulz crew. I got Hub's Fries (twice). And Matilda got to pet her first cow. It was pretty much a perfect weekend as you can see here:

And, Matilda surprised us all by taking her FIRST STEPS. Grandma was the lucky charm as she got Matilda walking between her and I.

Time to get really serious about baby-proofing. As Nate said, "Make sure we aren't leaving knives around..."

Gives a person confidence in our parental abilities, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trash Impact

Last weekend, Nate and I were in the car headed somewhere and there was an NPR show on about how much trash every person generates a year. And the person speaking had such a powerful way of describing this giant landfill--with plastic bags flying around and the stench of garbage rising up, and trucks constantly burying, digging, burying and digging.

And I guess I can't get the image out of my  mind, and have been thinking about it all week. The show talked about good America is at getting rid of garbage so that you don't realize how much it is piling up. And as I thought about that, and if we had to keep all the garbage we generated in our house for an entire week, I started to get a little appalled.

So here is the thing:
I am not going to quit shopping at Costco because the packaging of the tomatoes is plastic.

But, I am an offender of a few basic garbage no-no's that I am vowing to get better about:

1) Bowl and spoon:
        - Every morning I have either a bowl of dry cheerios with yogrut on it OR oatmeal. In either case, I am using a disposable bowl and spoon every day that gets chucked in the garbage. Think of how many that is a year. Yuck. So I need to just simply bring in my own bowl and spoon.

2) Plastic Baggies
    - I pack my lunch almost every day, and so that means lots of plastic baggies. I have tried teh fabric ones, and they work for some things but I don't love them. So I am committing to bringing home the bags and reusing them as much as possible.

3) Paper or plastic
    - Rededication to paper over plastic bags. It's simple.

I figured that in a week that was quite hectic with family, email, school, presentations, work, and more--if this was still sticking with me--I should do something about it. And so I will start with those 3 things. My *very small* part...but it's something.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Let's Settle This...

It's a constant question: Who does Matilda look like?
Most people say Nate.
Nate, of course, says Nate.

I, personally, think she looks like my Mom and Uncle Art.

But I will stop talking and let the pictures do the talking.
Get your votes vs. baby...who does Matilda look like most?

Here is another trio in case you are having troubles deciding...

 There it is.
You be the judge.
Cast your vote!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


We made the very quick flight to Chicago last weekend to visit the Keaty Family. I was pleasantly surprised with how Matilda did on the flight (although gun shy about a longer flight than that now). My strategy was to get her to the gate to woo everyone with her cuteness BEFORE we boarded so that if she freaked out on the flight they wouldn't be so angry.

Not sure if it worked, but Matilda like looking out the window at the plane.

We got to go swimming, to the zoo, to a fancy new 'city' playground, out for very delicious pizza and just spend lots of good time with the boys.

I have some semi-cute photos from my phone that I cannot get to upload, and I've been trying for 2 days with no results, and the stress of not posting has gotten to me. So alas, no photos.

But just picture Matilda and Leo pressed up against a giant APE (not a monkey as we were schooled by Nick) with only a pane of glass separating them. All of the boys acting like Monkeys outside of the zoo. Leo looking deliriously happy as he gets his pizza. And Matilda in the airport staring longingly at the plane.

It was a very fun weekend, and Matilda picked up on lots of tricks. She was much more excited to stand by herself after spending time with the boys. Perhaps when she sees them next they can get her to walk!!

**Edited by Nate** - As I sit here waiting for my quesadilla to crisp to golden brown, I thought it might be nice to upload the pics for my amahzing wife.  I second Greta's comments, great weekend with the Boys and Bec!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Minnesota Food Fest

Nate and I were very spoiled last week to get to go on a date during the week while my friend's Mom watched Matilda. (who tried her darndest to ensure we never get another babysitter every again by being a little devil child....) but enough about that. We were child-free, on a gorgeous night, with free tickets to the State Fair in hand.

Historically, we have been an every-other-year State Fair family. And this was our year to go, and had a lot of guilt about not bringing Tillie as she would certainly enjoy it--especially the animals. But off we went, with visions of corn dogs in our heads.

So here is the thing...we had fun, but mostly because it was just the two of us, alone, and enjoying each other. I think we need a lesson in how to LOVE the State Fair, because the bottom line is, we just don't really.

My key take-away is that it is just a ton of people, eating an overload of crappy (both in quality and in nutrition) over-priced food. We actually walked through some of the animal barns and they were all like half-empty. We could see more at the Vernon County Fair. The vendors feel like they are hawking 'as seen on TV' goods.

So, who out there, can help me see this event which will obviously be a part of my life as long as I live in MN, through rose-colored glasses? What are we missing? Is it a spirit I need to embrace or things to do we have just overlooked?!