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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Yard Envy

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I grew up in a house with a backyard. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was built in the 50’s on a corner lot of a new suburb tract. In the corner there’s a tall tree, it was bigger when I was a kid and held up our tree forts. Grandpa put up a big pool, the kind above ground, which lasted until I was a teenager. There were fruit trees – plum, apricot, lemon – the lemon tree still stands. Plenty of room for dogs and kids to run around, a place to BBQ, space to explore and imagine.

Leia and I love going to visit Grammy and Uncle Randy so we can play in the backyard. As much as I love our cozy apartment, it’s nice new amenities, I miss having a yard. I want Leia to grow up knowing what it’s like to hear me scream “go outside and play!” and know that means run wild in the yard.

We spend lots of time on patio everyday, painting or drawing with chalk, blowing bubbles, watering the plants, refilling the bird feeder. Leia also loves to sweep and look for snails.

While enjoying my Pintrest addiction for all things “dream home” I realized one of the most important features is a big grassy yard. If I won the lottery tomorrow and went house hunting, the yard would set the standard. I’d even look at homes in parts of the city I’d never consider living before, just because I could get open space.

I dream about a yard with lots of trees: fruit tress and big shady trees for sitting under in the summer. I want space for Leia to have a swingset, and a fort. A fancy built in BBQ and a wood deck would be nice. A big farmhouse table under a tree for friends and family to gather for Sunday dinners and birthdays. I want space to lay out and look at the stars, listen to the crickets, without the sounds of traffic or street lights drowning them out. Oh I know, “a lawn is so much work to take care of” and “all those plants just means lots of bugs.” But shh, I don’t need a buzzkill for my fantasy.

If we’re going super fantasy yard I also want one of those eco-friendly pond pools. Pond pool? Yes, my first reaction was yuck I don’t want to swim in a pond. But the more pictures I saw (on Pintrest of course), the more I fell in love with the idea of a pool that looked like a natural pond and used plants for filtration vs. chemicals. I’m on an anti-chemical kick but that’s a whole other post.

I love the dock! It doesn’t look like a creepy pond either.

A fire pit for roasting marshmallows.

Fancy house with a beautiful deck! I love how they built around the tree.

A place to watch the stars.

Beautiful deck with a built in spa and a big grassy yard, I’m in heaven!

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100 years from now will they still have stand mixers?

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At least once a day I have an idea or experience or internal dialogue and tell myself “I should really write that down.” I think about this poor neglected blog. Between trying new recipes, re-watching past seasons of True Blood and reading a slew of books, my laptop actually collected a little dust. Some days I only checked Facebook using my phone once or twice (gasp!).

That said, I really wanted to make sure I wrote about the amazing package my Aunt sent me a few weeks ago. It had a small booklet of holiday recipes, handwritten by my great-grandmother Wilson, dated December 25, 1911.

I realized I want a journal to write down some of my favorite recipes I can pass down to Leia. Something that maybe my great-grandchild (whoa…) will look at with amazement and appreciation. 100 years from now will the recipes I write down be outdated? In 2112 I’m sure something will have replaced the food processor, maybe even the almighty Kitchen Aid stand mixer (not that I have one, yet).

Below is a list of recipes I’ve tried in the last month or so, that have been total successes! I found them all on Pintrest, my favorite way to waste time. I’m not sure if they’ll all end up written down in my special recipe journal, but they are definitely ones I’ll make again.

Banana Cake from i am baker

The blog author made this for a bridal shower, so lovely! I made it as a birthday cake. Mine was not as lovely and I forgot to take a picture, but it was really really delicious!

I followed the recipe almost exactly, the only changes I made were using a 9×13 pan and using store bought icing. This was the first cake recipe I’ve seen cooked at a low temp (275 degrees) for a long time (about 60 minutes for my 9×13 pan) then put in the freezer. I’m not sure if that method is specific for this recipe, but the cake was incredibly soft and moist.

Zucchini Chips from the Naked Kitchen

How can you not want to make these after seeing this picture?!

Success!

I didn’t use homemade breadcrumbs because I’m impatient and wanted to make them the same day I saw them on Jamie’s pin board. So I used those seasoned breadcrumbs that come in the blue container, I can’t think of the brand name at the moment. I also used buttermilk instead of regular milk with apple cider – I had buttermilk on hand, and it’s essentially the same thing. The breading stuck to the foil when I tried to flip them, so spray your foil with a little oil. That issue inspired me to search for oven safe wire racks (like a cooling rack, but not nonstick coated), because flipping a tray of zucchini chips was annoying. If I could place a wire rack over a cookie sheet the air and heat could circulate and save me a step!

I’ve made these a few times since, they’re super easy and delicious. Leia wasn’t a fan, but she does usually try a bite when she sees me eating them. Maybe someday she’ll acquire the taste for these tasty “chips. ”

Restaurant Style Salsa from Iowa Girl Eats

Iowa Girl Eats is one of my new favorite blogs, on the list with Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen and Annie’s Eats.

Again, I failed to take a picture of my salsa so I’m posting hers – as delicious as it looks!

I made this while Leia and I were in OC visiting Mike and Leilani. We had a taco night for Cinco de Mayo and I loved the simplicity of using canned tomatoes. I don’t have a food processor at home but I made it again in my blender and it turned out great. Note: a food processor is right next to stand mixer on my wish list.

I like hot salsa so I added a whole jalapeno with seeds, I also added juice of the whole lime. After reading some similar recipes, I think next time I’ll also try adding a dollop of honey and a pinch of cumin. Either way, this is definitely my go to salsa recipe!

Apple Cobbler from Land o Lakes

I’ve always been a big fan of apple crisp. Dutch apple pie is a weakness too. I’d never made a cobbler, so it seemed like an overdue experiment.

The first time I made this I followed the recipe exactly but made a half batch in a loaf pan. It was delicious! I also ate the entire thing in two days – moderation with sweets is still something I’m learning. So I tweaked the recipe a little, using liquid eggs to divide the recipe in eighths and create a single serving (1 apple and 1 tablespoon of liquid egg vs 8 apples and 2 whole eggs). I also sprinkled the apples with pumpkin pie spice and a packet of stevia. I tried using whole wheat flour vs. all purpose, but that turned out all wrong. One time I added frozen blackberries with the apples one night and it was amazing – better than the apples alone! The frozen blackberries broke down and created this beautiful purple syrup mixed with the apples.

The cutest mini loaf pan with a single serving of apple blackberry cobbler!

 

 

Drink your greens

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If you’re reading this, you need to make this smoothie. I’ve made it three times already this week. It’s delicious, tastes like a peanut butter banana milkshake! Okay, maybe not rich and decadent like a real shake, but pretty darn good.

The recipe for a Green Monster Spinach Smoothie was found on Iowa Girl Eats. Her blog is one of my favorites for easy, healthy ideas. Check out her pictures, far better than this snapshot with my iPhone.

I promise you only taste peanut butter banana goodness, not a hint of spinach.

What you need:

1 frozen sliced banana (buy a bunch of bananas, slice them and toss them in a freezer bag, don’t try to slice a frozen banana)

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1/2 cup fat free vanilla greek yogurt (I used a small container of the Trader Joe’s brand)

1 cup milk (she used vanilla almond milk, which probably tastes great in the recipe but I only have “regular” milk)

4 cups baby spinach (I added two large handfuls)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

21 Wonderful Months

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Time goes so fast. I can’t think of a non-cliche way to say it. Leia, I am in love with watching you  grow, become your own little person, explore the world around you. There are so many fantastic things about you right now.

You’re saying new words everyday, eager to communicate, pointing out the letters “E” and “O” anywhere you see them. My phone is easily unlocked and you know how to find the games (or send texts, ha). You’re fantastic with the matching shapes games – circles, ovals, diamonds, rectangles, pentagons and hexagons. We line up your bath toys on the edge of the tub and you can count to ten. You’re learning more colors, blue and yellow (“lello”) were first, then red, green, pink and orange. You are so, so smart. I’m constantly amazed at how much you understand.

You love snails, it’s adorable. Even if I think they’re a little icky, I’m proud that you’re caring to all living creatures. You squeal with excitement and point out the “neels.” Sometimes you touch them, waiting for me to pick them up and put them back in the grass.

Your favorite cartoon is (still) Bubble Guppies. We watch those guppies every morning while we have breakfast and when we’re getting ready for our day. Sometimes we also watch Sesame Street, or Cat in the Hat. But mostly, it’s Bubble Guppies. I’m grateful it’s not Yo Gabba Gabba or the Fresh Beat Band, thank you very much.

You love corn on the cob, pretzel goldfish, raisins and yogurt. We eat asparagus and artichokes together. You prefer to dip your chicken in sauce – mostly BBQ, sometimes ketchup. Milk? No thanks you say. You’ve been on a cheese hiatus and you’re the rare toddler who doesn’t like more than one or two bites of banana.

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Just like your mom, you love lemons. You'll eat the whole slice (sometimes the skin too!)

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You love to go through my makeup bag, the lip gloss was an especially good find.

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You are kind and gentle with your cousin Johnny.

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I love this picture because I see a little girl who is determined. I've always said I hope my daughter grows up to be the 3 C's: curious, compassionate, and confident.

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The kitties love you. You love the kitties. When you nap, one of them usually ends up on the bed too. They know you'll pour out the whole bag of treats, in return they let you chase and hug them.

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Someday this will be a real car, with wild teenage friends instead of wild animals. That day will come entirely too soon, so I'm enjoying this moment as much as possible.

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The carousel is hands down one of your favorite things in life (trumped only by your love of the swing). This was taken at the Wild Animal Park. After each ride you pick a new animal, and we go around and around (and around, at least six times).

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Nap hair. You have the most beautiful, fine, fluffy, blond, wispy hair. It's always crazy in the morning and after you nap, just like your moms hair.

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Your first pigtails! My hair is in a pony tail or a bun everyday, I've never been a "styled hair" girl. So it's a conscious effort to remember you deserve hair cuteness like this everyday. I'll learn.

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Decorating a cake with your Dad on his birthday, making the same face as you concentrate on your art. I know you share his creative genes, which makes me so happy.

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I hope you always look at the world with wonder.

I love you Leia. You make my life simply beautiful.