Monday, February 28, 2011

the sledding hill, and the best deal in town.

Am I surprised?
I decided to be a nice mom and walk the boys to the end of the street to the sledding hill this weekend.
Can you guess how long we were there?
It was good fun!
No playing on my phone for me, I:
I saw:
I even found the best deal in the neighborhood!
Who knew!
I miss you honey!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Improvising Martha Stewart and forgetting the chickpeas.

I am a huge fan of Martha Stewarts Everyday Food Magazine. I love getting my copy every month and flipping through the glossy pages picking out future meals for my family. Each copy I own is scarred with dog ears, pen marks, and little slips of random paper to secure that each treasured recipe is found again.

Sometimes though, I improvise a bit. I add things to take things out to settle better with my families personal tastes. For example, my version of the recipe I made this weekend Greek Salad With Chickpeas did not contain any chickpeas. I forgot to add them to my shopping list, so I just left them out and added some balsamic glazed chicken I pan fried, instead.

When I don't plan our meals properly for the week, I find no delight in cooking. All I want to do is grab some bowls, cereal, and milk. When there are fun recipes to try with new ingredients, and things I have never tasted before, it is the perfect way to:
For this particular meal, my chickpea-less version of the Greek Salad With Chickpeas, it was a late meal, so I requested everyone get into their jammies first. (Including me!) I love cooking in my jammies.
And of course, it's always:

Two months ago, Jeff went to Buenos Aries and brought me back a whole wooden crate of imported olive oil. This guy, he knows the way to my heart for sure. So, when I cook anything, I use:
This meal was so good, I wanted to share with you.
Everyone in our family gave it a two thumbs up!
Greek Salad with Chickpeas (Balsamic Chicken)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 T fresh lemon juice (I also added 1 t of lemon zest)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 cup of grape tomatoes (too expensive, I used chopped Roma tomatoes)
1/2 C crumbled feta (I used the whole container, which measured 1 cup)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (Forgot to add to my shopping list, remember??)
1/2 C kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 C lightly packed parsley leaves
(I also added:
4 chicken breasts-- one per person)
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper)
In a large bowl, combine onion, lemon juice, (zest), and oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to combine and let sit for 5 minutes.
Heat a medium, oiled frying pan. Drizzle your chicken breasts with the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until the juices run clear and the outside forms a golden crust. Set aside.
To the salad bowl, add the cucumber, tomatoes, feta, chickpeas, olives, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Put a serving of salad on each plate.
Chop the chicken breasts and add one on top of each salad.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

{todays chores} an iPhone photo collective

Dialogue mingled with photos received on my iPhone today:
Today, Jeff's office view looks like:
Some of his tasks for today include landing his plane on:
The Turks and Caicos.
I'm sure he helped the passengers with their bags, did a bit of cleaning, and then he finds himself:
Until dinnertime, or until he gets scared enough on the dark secluded beach to make his way back to his hotel.
I, on the other hand
am doing:

while still tromping
around in:
You can all guess how I feel about: Ummmmmm... that is all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

dough boys.

Who wouldn't want to cook with two dough boys? It sure does keep the kitchen interesting! I love catching up on life while we cook and bake together. And, it's so much fun to see how their kitchen skills are improving.
Their wives had better thank me someday!!
One of our family favorites is homemade pretzels, not only because they taste sooooo good, but they are so fun to make.
What other bread requires kneading, cutting with a pizza roller, boiling in a hot water bath, twisting and folding, a generous salt sprinkle, and a dab of mustard for eating?
Cooking with your kids is so worth the small extra mess. Really.
Oh, here it comes. The dough boys favorite part. Pounding!
And, after rising... my favorite part is twisting. It's so easy-- here, I'll show you. First, cut out 1 inch by 12 inch sections of your dough.
Grab a piece...

Twist once, twist twice, and fold down. Poke your little fingers into the ends so they don't come apart. See?? Isn't that easy?
After they are twisted, you briefly bake them to firm them up a bit and then you boil them in salted water for 2 minutes.

Salt them, and bake them a second time.
Ohhhh, your house will smell so good!
Do you want to make your own? Here's how:
The Dough Boy Special Pretzels
4 C flour
1 package yeast
1 1/2 C milk
1/4 C sugar
2 T cooking oil
1 t salt
2 T salt
egg white (for a wash)
In a mixing bowl (or mixer) stir together the flour and yeast.
In a medium saucepan heat and stir milk, sugar, oil and salt just until warm.
Slowly add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix well.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead to make a stiff but elastic dough. Oil the dough and let rise for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Punch the dough down, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick.
Cut into strips. Shape into pretzels. Put pretzels on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 475 for 4 minutes.
Dissolve 2 T of salt into a pot of boiling water. Boil the pretzels 2 or 3 at a time for 2 minutes apiece. 1 minute per side. Place on a paper towel to drain. Put the pretzels back on the greased baking sheet.
Brush pretzels with the egg white, sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

rainy day at the Bean.

Saturday morning brought high aspirations for visiting parks, eating picnics, and exploring outdoor spaces. The last three days had been sunny, so why not?
Sadly, the sun had been replaced with dark, ominous clouds that threatened to destroy our plans. The boys and I monitored the sidewalk, our first sign of the rain by it's tell tale dark grey polka dots that would mark the earth. Today, we would have to make a compromise. Today we would not be playing outside.
And so, onto plan B-- a day at the Bean. The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum. An extravaganza of everything my boys like, rolled into one building. It wasn't a bad second choice.
We navigated our way down to Provo, through the streets and into the BYU epicenter. Soon, we found ourselves crawling out from the shelter of our warm car and dodging the rain drops as we ran:

It wasn't a bad day, we got to hold a crocodile skull and pet a snake named slither. That was enough to keep our minds off of the rain.
Not bad for a free museum!

Monday, February 21, 2011

what I have to show for my weekend.

Its been a while since I have been crafty lately. The move from Texas to Utah set me back a lot! Even before the move I found it hard to be creative since we had to keep our current house spotless while we were trying to sell it. I couldn't have snippets of cloth, stray threads, or paper bits on the carpet.

This Presidents Day weekend, I set up a small list of projects that I wanted to work on. About a week ago I found a few items that I wanted to put:

I am in the process of making my kitchen feel like my own. My old kitchen had me written all over it, this one is still foreign to me. So, I decided to make an personalized embroidered dish towel to hang on my oven and bring a little bit more of me to my new kitchen.

The thing I love about embroidery is it's fast, it's easy, and I love the result. It does not require a huge investment, and if you are not feeling too creative... you can cheat a little bit. (really!)

Hot iron transfers are so much fun to use... of course you don't have to. I've embroidered many things that I have hand drawn onto my blank canvas. But, this weekend... I wanted a lazy project. And, I love the vintage animated kitchenwear iron ons that I found at Hobby Lobby. Who can resist their kitchy appeal, winky eyes, and retro cuteness. I don't think I could have drawn one better myself.

When you iron it on, make sure you don't use any water. You don't want the paper to fall apart. ALSO (and I learned this from experience!) Put a small dishrag or old towel under the surface your are ironing on will keep the transfer from leaking through the fabric and onto your ironing board. No husband wants prints of vintage dishes on their crisp, white church shirts! Trust me on this one!

Check and see if everything printed to your satisfaction, and then:
I lost my embroidery hoop in the move, it was so cute... canary yellow - vintage-ness. So, I had to pick one up at the craft shop... but it was only $0.99! I am still holding out for my old one somewhere, maybe I missed unpacking a box?

The trick to embroidery is all in the stitch. If you have never done it before, it's simple... trust me.
I use what is called the split stitch, basically I stitch over the stitch I just made.
For a more complete how to, you can click here to the Sublime Stitches site. It's my favorite place to get patterns.
The thing I love about embroidery is, once you know how... it is so relaxing!
And even though you are using iron on transfers, that does not mean that you can't personalize your creation! I wanted the words "Emily's Kitchen" on my towel. Now, if I had a light box, I would whip that out at this point-- which would be so amazingly awesome. But I don't.
So, I made up my own technique... it may be a bit more awkward that a light box, but it works! Print your words out and:
Use a pencil and pretend you are in kindergarten again:

After you trace it, stitch it up and you are left with a personalized treasure!

Friday, February 18, 2011

oldest boy.

Oh, my oldest boy.
There is not a day that goes by that you don't find at least a second to give me a hug.
I love that.
I think it is amazing that sometimes you put my needs above your own. Like the time we went out for cupcakes on my birthday, and my cupcake was as hard as a rock. Remember, it broke my fork?
I looked over and you got all weepy because you felt sorry for me. And then you shared your cupcake with me. Remember that? It touched my heart. Such a tender boy.
I love all of your snazzy inventions, you know... the kind you design on the chalkboard in your room. I love asking you questions about them because I love to see how excited you get when you talk about them. Your desire for learning impresses me so much!
I love that.
When I kiss your forehead now-- my mind is whisked right back into your hospital room a mere 5 weeks ago when I would also kiss your forehead and whisper things in your ear as you lay in your coma, on your hospital bed. I rubbed your legs, I wanted you to know I was there... rooting for you, praying for you. I sang your favorite song in your ear. I did it because I love you, and I am so grateful that you have been given a second chance to spend time with me. I am lucky to be your mother. What an honor. What a blessing.
I love you sweet boy.
I just love you so much.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

snow, snow, friend or foe?

I just never really get use to snow! It's been so sunny, almost warm and then BAM! Here we go again.
Cooper is wishing that he was shipped to a warmer climate.
Poor, poor Cooper.
Of course, there are things about snow that I love.
I love the way it makes the inside of the house:
I love that it makes me want to crawl back into bed and snuggle in deep.
But alas, snow becomes it's own responsibility!
Snow is like that tantrum throwing child in the busy grocery store.
Snow wants attention, and snow wants attention now!
Snow makes you do things you wouldn't normally choose to do...
like wear clothes that have feathers stuffed inside them. Or itchy socks. Or waterproof boots.
Snow likes to make you miserable, sometimes.Snow pushes you outside to shovel it.
Sometimes, I think I hear snow laughing!
"Look at what I did to your driveway!" Snow says smugly.
When Jeff is out of town, I am the shovel-master. But lucky me, today I get to be the:
But, I have to admit... I enjoy when Jeff has to wear his jazzy boots in the snow.
They are rugged, mountain-man-like, and kind of sexy.
Thanks, snow. You aren't all bad I guess.