Saturday, May 29, 2010

Official Productivity List

This is for my husband . . . my accomplishments for the day (so far).

Returned movie to blockbuster
Got gas
Went to bank
Shopped at Target
Shopped at Whole Foods
Got lunch
Mowed 1/2 of yard
Cleaned out van (a big job!)
Vacuumed Van
Washed Van
Got more gas for mower
Put baby to sleep
Mowed 2nd half of yard
Watered garden (in progress - wow, getting the hose out there was a CHORE!)
Watered Plants
Cleaned up Kitchen
Showered

Now I'm blogging! :)

I'm getting ready to fix dinner for me and Elsie (who is still asleep). Then I'll probably take it easy. I might work on the dog fence or cleaning a little but will probably pop in a movie.

I miss my girlie and my Andrew!

I also got a little sun today. I hope it's not a burn. I'm not a fan of sunburns!

Long Weekend

I didn't really mean to take a break. I just got busy, I guess.

Abigail and her daddy are on an overnight trip with some other members of the family so just Elsie and I are hanging out today and tomorrow (until evening).

So far we've: gone to blockbuster to return a movie, got gas in the van, went to the bank, went to Target (big girl panties for Abigail!!), went to Whole Foods, mowed the yard (I did - Elsie napped), and put away groceries. I'm didn't get the yard done so I'm going to head out again in a bit when Elsie sleeps again. I need to get gas for the mower first.

I also need to clean my car and my house needs some work too. I'm going to try to fit some rest time in as well! We'll see.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Anniversary Snapshot

Here is what our anniversary looked like . . . year #7 . . . two very small children . . .

Woke at 7 am to baby needing to be fed.

Oldest woke at 8 am - I made her Oatmeal Yogurt Waffles.

We cleaned, played, did laundry, etc.

Nap time: One down then the other wakes up.

Got an email from husband saying he'll be late getting home because he's going by Lowe's.

Teach voice lesson at 4 pm.

Made dinner (sloppy joes and broccoli). Mashed bananas and breastmilk for Elsie.

Girls and I eat before Andrew gets home because we're hungry. Cranky tired baby and hungry toddler. Yikes!

Andrew gets home and grabs food on the run.

He works outside building more raised garden beds while I put the baby to bed. She is not interested in going to sleep easily.

Toddler and I (ha!) pull weeds in the garden. Actually she flings dirt on me while I pull weeds.

Andrew goes inside to work for himself in his office. I rock baby to try to calm her down. Falls asleep in her crib finally.

Bathing toddler (@ 8:30!! yikes).

Put toddler to bed.

Do dishes.

Get cup of tea.

Go to bed. Perhaps I'll see my darling love again before I turn out the lights!

Whew!

But you know what, I wouldn't change a thing! I know there will be years when we can go out and celebrate or perhaps even travel but in the exhausting yet sweet season of having young children (one is sitting on me right now), I am enjoying time at home with this precious family that will soon be grown.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On this day . . .


seven years ago, I became the wife of a wonderful man!

Thanks, Love, for all the wonderful things that you are and for our wonderful girls!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pasta with Asparagus and Peas

I got this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis while I was in Kansas visiting my parents in February. They have Direct TV so I spent as much time as I could commandeering the remote to watch the Food Network.

I didn’t have all the ingredients (the original called for tomatoes – which would have been yummy in this) so I’m only posting my modification. Please add cherry tomatoes if you’d like!

Cook pasta according to instructions and reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water at the end.

In a saute pan, heat oil and garlic until fragrant. Add the trimmed asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Add the peas and cook for two more minutes.

Add the chicken stock and simmer 3 minutes.


Not sure why but I took a picture of the grated parmesan. Ha!


Toss the mixture together in a large bowl and top with grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.



I made this recipe when Andrew was still in New York so I did not get another adult’s opinion on it! :) Abigail and I enjoyed this light and healthy meal, however, and thought it was delicious!

My only note would be that the asparagus gets a little mushy when you try to serve this dish as leftovers. I still ate up all the leftovers but I prefer my asparagus to be a bit more tender crisp than the reheating provided. Still yummy.

Here is the original recipe including the tomatoes, which, like I said earlier, would have been nice.

Oh, I forgot to mention that this was fast and easy to make!


Ingredients
8 ounces short cut pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (about 9 ounces) cherry tomatoes
1 cup shelled peas
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the asparagus, season with the salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes until slightly soft. Add the cherry tomatoes and peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Pour the chicken stock into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes start to burst and the stock is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the asparagus mixture to a large serving bowl. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 of the Parmesan. Toss well, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan and chopped basil.
**I have been neglecting to mention that I always use whole wheat pasta. Never just the white stuff. Enjoy. **

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Groupon

Okay, I can't sit around all day and wait for everyone to comment! :) Kidding. (Well, I'm sort of kidding. I hope my parents read my blog because they are sort of the reason why I do it - so they can hear news of their grandkids from afar. Oh well.)

I'm writing this brief post of 1,001 to tell you about today's Groupon in the Cincinnati area.

It is for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law's tea room. If you're in the Cincinnati area and love tea . . . check them out!

http://www.groupon.com/deals/tea-parlor

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1000!!!!!!!!!!

Can you believe that this is my 1,000th post?!

I mean, what in the world do I have to say that would take 1000 posts to do it in?

I feel like celebrating!

I wish I had something that I could do as a giveaway but . . .

alas, I have little money, even less crafting skills, even less time.

So, I'm going to ask something of you in return.

In celebration of my 1,000 post of seemingly pointless blogging, would you please leave a comment? Doesn't have to be nice or anything, just say "hi, I read your blog".

Seriously, everyone? Pretty please?!

It would thrill me to no end.

Thank you. Thank you! Thank you!!

I have several more recipes coming up and a video of Elsie trying her first bites of food (organic bananas) that I'll try to get posted the rest of this week. I'll be spending the rest of the week in the kitchen! Seriously, taking a meal to people tonight - snacks for small group on Thursday - and having friends over on Saturday. Have I said that I love to cook?! (but not clean - ugh!)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sisters!

Here are comparison photos of our girls taken when they were six months old. Abigail's were taken a few weeks before her 6 month birthday and Elsie's a week after her six month birthday (Abigail was already sitting up then!).

They definitely have very similar looks.

Sisters!

Elsie @ 6 months (in case you were confused!) :)


Abigail @ 6 months!

Again, Elsie . . .




And Abigail . . .

What do you think? . . .
In other news, a big milestone post is coming next! I just have to formulate it. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Elsie's Dedication Part 3

video

Elsie's Dedication Part 2

video video

Elsie's Dedication

Thanks to my mother-in-law for taking these videos of Elsie's dedication last Sunday. There are several short ones so I might do a few different posts. These are mainly for my mom and dad but if you want to see us (and our girls) feel free to watch! :)


video

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bloggers in Real Life!

I was excited to finally be able to meet another mommy blogger yesterday.

Amanda, from www.myeverydayblog.com was in the area visiting her mom (she really doesn't live that far from me) and so it was arranged for us to meet.

It was fun!

A first for me . . . meeting another blogger that I did not previously know in life.

Stop by and visit her blog. She has a new cute baby, Claire, that is lots of fun to look at! :)

What having children does . . .

I'm not sure that I have gone into detail on my blog what a shock it was to me to have my first child. Our lives CHANGED! It is quite astonishing to me that they changed so much because we didn't live a radical lifestyle before she was born (no partying - ha - makes me laugh just to think, very little excessive spending or traveling, etc).

Now I know what happened. A spotlight was turned on by God himself! This spotlight shown deep down into my soul, into the parts of me that I prefer to hide. The parts that are ugly, selfish, greedy, etc. This child was given to us for a purpose (many of them) but challenging my selfishness was purpose #1.

Sorry for those of you that were close enough to witness those first brutal weeks when I couldn't do what I wanted, when I wanted anymore. My husband took the brunt of it and I thank him for his calm patience with me. I would have smacked myself! Getting over ourselves is a painful and not-so-very-fun process.

Anyway, I have always realized that this is what happened but have never found a great article to describe it until I read this blog today. Please read it if you have time. It is amazing and awesome and exactly what I've been thinking for 2 years and 4 months (since our darling was born).

http://onething.beautifulheritage.com/?p=4831

By the way, the lady who wrote this (I believe) has 9 children. I've read her blog for a while and so I'm not 100% sure of that number. Anyway, read it . . . comment if you'd like.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

With one child . . .

Abigail spent the night at her nana and papa's last night and stayed all day today. Elsie had a doctor check up (6 months!) today so my mother-in-law was gracious enough to keep her for me! I just wanted to document what all I got accomplished today with only one child. I wish I had known how easy it was to get around when I only had one!!

- Breakfast, shower, and left before 9 am
- Stopped at Ell Farm for some raw honey
- Stopped at Benken's Floral and Greenhouse for some garden plants (tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, etc).
- Went to doctor appointment (Elsie is healthy and big - not a big surprise).
- Fed Baby.
- Went to Kohls and returned three clothing items that were too big (wow!) for smaller sizes.
- Stopped at the bank.
- Stopped at the place where we get farm fresh eggs and got 3 dozen.
- Ate lunch.
- Did one load of laundry.
- Loaded Dishwasher.
- Cleaned Living room (picked up, dusted, and vacuumed).
- Cleaned Guest Room (all the above).
- Cleaned Abigail's room (all the above).
- Checked email.
- Blogged!

Ha!

Going to snuggle with a baby now, drop her off with her nana, give a voice lesson, pick them both up and make dinner.

The end!

Chicago Trip Part 2

On Tuesday we drove downtown to pick up my mother-in-law, who graciously took the bus up to Chicago in order to save me the torture of attempting to drive the girls home by myself. I am in her debt forever for doing this. Seriously! Saved me!

Anyway, after we picked her up, we headed to the American Girl Store. Abigail had a blast looking at all the dolls, playing, and seeing her "baby" there in the store. She threw a few little tantrums in there when we tried to help her push our big stroller around the store.

Again . . . anyway, here is a sweet picture of her making a friend!


Elsie is waiting patiently in her seat for her big sister to be done looking at dolls. Elsie will be able to enjoy this herself one day!

Busy pushing babies around in the wagon and stroller!

After we finished at the American Girl Store, we met Daddy (who was downtown at a conference - did I say that?) at the Rainforest Cafe. Abigail enjoyed seeing all the "animals" and didn't act scared of any of them until the end.
At the end of the meal, we suddenly discovered how wet she was. Her diaper had leaked all over her shorts and in her booster seat so she had to go pantless in downtown Chicago for a while because her bum mom forgot to bring a change of clothes. Oh well!
Here is our family outside the Rainforest Cafe after eating.




Abigail did score some goodies at the American Girl store. Both she and her doll got matching ballerina outfits. Abigail LOVES hers and spends hours a day dancing around in it!
See??



Our trip concluded on Wednesday morning with a lovely breakfast with my sister before heading home. I was pretty impressed that we only stopped one time on the way home - at the cow palace in Shelbyville for lunch and a bite of ice cream. The trip was also very uneventful! I'm so thankful!
Again, I want to say publicly how thankful I am to my mother-in-law for coming to Chicago and saving me from driving home alone. We would have made it but it wouldn't have been so pleasant! Thank you!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chicago Visit Part 1

Oh my goodness! We had a blast visiting my sister in Chicago. Here is a recap!

On Saturday, May 1st, we drove up to Chicago. It was a wonderfully uneventful trip! No throwing up or tantrums or anything. Wonderful!

We dropped Andrew off downtown and headed out to my sister's place - about a 40 minute drive from downtown.

The highlight of the trip was getting to meet my new nephew, Isaac Keith. What an adorable and sweet little boy! It was really neat to see my sister as a mom and to see her joy in her new little baby.

Here is a picture of my sister, Jenny, with the two babies, Isaac and Elsie. Elsie is only 5 months older than Isaac. They will be best buddies growing up!


Baby Isaac - 4 weeks old!

We spent a lot of time hanging out at the house. With 3 kids, it's not easy to get out and do things. We did make it to church, out to eat, etc. On Sunday night Jenny, Elsie, and I went to the nail salon to get pedicures (Elsie didn't get one - she just came along) which was my birthday present from Jenny and Luke. So nice!
Abigail enjoying her stickers at their house.


On Monday we attempted to take all three kids out to do something. However I can't share about it yet because it involves a gift yet to be given. Perhaps I'll share later! Sorry to be mysterious! :)
Sweet Elsie Pie!




Sweet Abigail. It is getting more difficult to get pictures of Abigail. She's been saying "no picture" all the time but likes to look at them (of herself). Silly girl!


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

I am so wonderfully blessed to have a sweet, caring, godly example for a mother. She has always been there for me, lovingly caring for me however and whenever I needed it.

Now that I'm a mother, I can more fully appreciate what she went through to raise me in the way that she did.

So . . . thank you Mom! I am most thankful for you introducing me, at a young age, to Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of my life and I can't imagine living without Him!

I am also thankful for your involvement in my life, encouraging my interests and encouraging me to grow in areas where I needed to!

Thank you, Mom, for being a wonderful grandmother. For caring for us, even if we're far away. You're always there to take my calls and listen to my problems and offer advice. You're hands on and so wonderful with my kids when you're close by!

Here is my sweet mother with my sweet daughter!



P.S. I had a lovely mother's day - mostly thanks to my husband. I really feel strongly that mother's day should be about celebrating your own mother and not the husband celebrating the wife. However, my kids are little and need help so I appreciate what he did to make it wonderful. He made us breakfast, tilled my garden, stayed with the kids while I went shopping, went and picked up yummy mexican food for dinner, and made me a fresh lava cake for dessert! I'm stuffed!

P.P.S. I have so many posts swimming around in my head including: chicago trip recap, Abigail's adventures, Elsie's first taste of solid food (today!), Elsie's dedication at church today, and some more recipes so stay tuned!

Happy 6 months babygirl!

(This should have been posted yesterday but when you read about our day yesterday, I think you'll understand why it's a day late).

My dearest Elsie,

We hardly call you Elsie Pie anymore. I'm not sure when or why we lost that nickname. It was so cute!

You are such a sweet baby. Still very happy and relaxed. We are blessed!


You've been with us for 6 months now and I still can't believe you're that old. What happened to make the time go so fast?!

You love:

To hear Daddy play the guitar and piano. This often will put you to sleep where you're at - like playing on the floor or in your bouncy seat.

To be talked to and played with. Here are Aunt Jennie and Papa Wayne talking to you!

To be played with and talked to by your big sister! You respond to Abigail like nobody Elsie. Even if you're tired or hungry, if she walks over you have a smile for her. I hope this is always the case!!


To play! You've really become interested in toys and playing. You're adventurous but also content with what is around you. A wonderful quality, darling!



Elsie I cannot describe how much I simply enjoy being around you. You have such a sweet spirit that will carry you throughout life. I enjoy hearing you talk and coo each morning, knowing that I am privileged enough to be called your mom and to spend the day with you.
Here you are waiting for your sister to be done shopping in the American Girl store! :)



Today you will be dedicated at church. This is the life verse that your daddy and I have picked out:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

This is our prayer for you! It's pretty self-explanatory really! You're already joyful . . . living up to your middle name "joy"! Pray continually - this is a big one darling! Constant communication with the one who loves you most and created you is essential! Give thanks in all circumstances - I have learned this is an essential thing to do in order to live a joyful and content life. God will bless you, even though it may not be in the way you think it will be - with material possessions, promotions, wealth, or other worldly gain!

I am having the time of my life watching you grow, little pie. Always remember that your mother loves you and is filled with joy overflowing when I see you or think of you!

Love,

Mama

Friday, May 07, 2010

Beef Enchiladas

We love Mexican food! Unfortunately so many times enchilada recipes contain cream of whatever soups. These soups are usually full of chemicals and MSG. I have searched and searched to find good enchilada recipes and I think I have finally found one so I'm going to share!

The reason why I say "I think" is because I'm always looking and recipes and have seen some other beef enchilada recipes lately. If I find one that is tastier and easier to make than this one (and I don't think I will) then I will share it!

Enjoy!

First of all, the recipe called for enchilada sauce. I didn't have any. So I decided to see if I had the ingredients to make it. I did! :)

I have never read the ingredient label on enchilada sauce so I don't know if I can recommend just buying the sauce or not. It was easy to make! :)

For the sauce:

Combine and Heat:
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Flour

Stir together until smooth and cook for 1 minute.


Add 1/4 cup of chili powder. Seemed like a lot to me at the time but the sauce was really good!

Stir to combine and cook for 30 more seconds.
Add:
2 cups chicken stock (I used the organic swanson stuff since I didn't have any of my own made).
10 ounces of tomato paste (read the label on this carefully - sometimes the can with the added "stuff" contains High Fructose Corn Syrup - you can find it without)
1 tsp dried oregano (rub in your palm to release more flavor!)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
Simmer for 15 minutes and it's ready!


Now for the enchiladas!!
Chop the onion and add it to the pan with a little olive oil. Saute a few short minutes until the onion softens.


Add 1 lb of ground beef and brown. (Mmmmm! Yummy grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef).




Add the enchilada sauce and about 1 1/2 cups of shredded colby jack cheese. I just eye-balled it!




Spoon mixture into the tortillas. Okay, so I made these waaaaaaaay too big. The original recipe said it made 8 enchiladas and I only made four - so mine were twice as big as they should have been. Oh well!
Roll the tortillas as best you can (like I said - mine were too big!) and lay them in a 9x13 baking dish.



A word about the tortillas. . . most "regular" tortillas you purchase will have some sort of partially hydrogenated oil in them. We're trying to avoid that! So, I found these lovely ones at Meijer which are made with olive oil and whole grains.
I want to try to make my own sometime but haven't gotten around to it yet!
Sprinkle with the remaining meat/sauce mixture and cheese!


Bake for 20 minutes at 350.
Delicious!
It's not that my husband doesn't compliment my cooking - he does - but he was extra complimentary about these. He kept going on and on so . . . it's a keeper recipe!


Here are both recipes (sauce and enchiladas) in condensed form:
Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chili powder
2 cups chicken stock
10 ounces tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Directions
In a medium saucepan heat oil, add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add chili powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out. Adjust the seasonings. Serve atop your favorite enchiladas.


Beef Enchiladas
Courtesy of jaimeschechter.blogspot.com
Ingredients:
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef
16 oz Colby-Jack cheese
8 flour tortillas
12 oz enchilada sauce
salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
In medium saucepan, add chopped onions and cook until soft. Add ground beef and brown. Salt and pepper to taste. Add shredded cheese and enchilada sauce; mix well. Spoon mixture into tortillas and roll. Place in a greased 13×9 pan. Make about 8. Top with remaining meat mixture and then with the rest of the cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. ENJOY!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Abigail "isms"

My sweet (sick) daughter is just beginning to really talk and come up with things on her own. I had quite a stellar parenting moment this morning. We were eating a lovely breakfast with my sister before we left Chicago. I was attempting to get Abigail to take some dramamine before hitting the road but she knows what it is and how bad it tastes.

So, being the wonderful mother that I am, I just shoved it into her mouth. Not the best idea - in hindsight - but live and learn, right?!

Anyway, she chokes, gags, and screams in a restaurant full of people. Bad mother moment.

Anyway . . .

As she is gagging on this bad tasting pill she yells out in a very loud voice (while crying):

"I need a bucket."

Meaning, she needed a bucket to throw-up in. Ha!

I have been laughing at this all day. She didn't end up throwing up but it's funny that she knows she needs a bucket to throw up in and her dramatics are still making me laugh!

Anyway, lesson learned. Do not torture your daughter in public by shoving dramamine in her mouth - wait to do that in private - ha ha!

We're Home!

I'll try to document my trip more later but for now I'll just say that we're home. I'm tired! :)

We had a great trip and the girls did great in the car, which is an answer to prayer!

Abigail does have a cold now, which seems to be settling into her chest. I hope a visit to the doctor isn't in order but if it is, we'll do it.

Andrew is still in NY until Friday.

It will feel so good to be all together again.

For now I'll just be unpacking, getting dinner for Abigail and me and getting the girls to bed.

A BIG BIG BIG thank you to my mother-in-law who took the bus up to Chicago on Tuesday to drive back with us today. She entertained Abigail the whole way home and it was spectacular!