Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Love

I LOVE where we live!

The Lucky One

I LOVE my boys!!!

I am the luckiest mommy out there to have such wonderful children...

and 3 awesome boys at that!

They're growing up WAY too fast.  I'm so grateful I get to be a stay-at-home mom and witness their journeys through childhood.

I'm grateful that they have such a good daddy who loves us and cares for us all.

I'm the luckiest girl on the planet! April?

I'm a little late on this post.  Christmas was, well, months ago.  Better late then never?  For Christmas this year my dad hosted a party for some of his friends and clients.  Since Music Man works with my dad and the event was to be held in the building we live in, my mom and I were appointed to make all arrangements for food, decorations, invites, etc.  I really wish I would have taken better pictures, but seeing as I am greatly lacking in the camera department and we were too busy getting things ready to remember to take decent picts.  So this is all we got.

Here's kind of an aerial view of the room.

The table decor.  The centerpieces are vases filled with cranberries and glittery (snowy) branches.

This does not do it justice at all, but this glittery/snowy branch was so pretty (take my word for it!).

The food (you can't really see the bar is filled with desserts and such.

 The favors...some really tastey toffee!

The dessert bar (all the cookies and candies were white).

Hot chocolate bar (regular and sugar free for the diabetics in the room...there was also hot cider).

The fixin's for the hot chocolate bar.

The entertainment :-) (You might not recognize Music Man on the left with the bushy stache and all.  My dad is on the right)

Until next year...

Horseback Riding

I'm so behind in posting.  There's so much I want to share, but can't ever seem to get myself to do it.  Well a while ago (like months and months ago...say, Novemberish), we were invited to a friend of a friend's horse ranch.  What a beautiful ranch and a really awesome girl who owns it.  She raises and trains horses.  I think she said she had 25 or so.  She invites kids over all the time to go riding.  Such a selfless human...she walks the horses with the kids on them for hours and hours and she even lets some of them ride them by themselves.  I was seriously so impressed by her!  A really cool lady!

Anyway, this was a life-changing event for Marvel.  He's wanted to be a "real" cowboy since, well, he could walk.  He got a pair of "real" cowboy boots when he was 5 and has been determined to own a cattle ranch ever since.  The only problem is other than the outfit, he has absolutely no experience in being a cowboy.  This was his jump start!

He started out meeting the mini-horse (I learned that there is a difference between a mini-horse and a pony, although I couldn't tell you what that difference is).  

Then he tried her out.  Easy peasy!

He quickly moved onto the big horse.  He was guided at first...

...and in no time, he was taking the reins and riding all by himself!!!  Marvel was SO proud of himself (and I've got to say I was a proud mama on the side!).

Next it was Captain America's turn.

Forget the mini-horse, Cap. was on to the big dog straight away!

One ride was good enough for him, though.
He decided checking out the babies was more up his alley.

Monkey wasn't so sure about the horses.  Up close was NOT for him!

This is a MUCH safer distance!

It was such a fun day.  We can't wait to go back again!

Creamy Tomato Soup

Sundays are my least favorite day to cook.  I don't know how people make it their biggest meal of the week.  Sunday is the one day I feel like its okay to kinda take it easy.  The last thing I want to do is cook or clean (and THAT is why you should NEVER stop by my house on Monday morning...not.EVER!).  Of course my husband feels the same way (even though he hardly ever cooks).  This creates quite a dilemma.   If only I were prepared and made something to throw in the crock-pot or picked up some easy put-together meal.  Alas, I'm not that prepared.  Usually my kids eat either scrambled eggs or cereal for all 3 meals of the day.  Or I try to get creative (seeing as I hate shopping on Saturdays and we usually run out of food on Friday night), because there isn't much in the kitchen.  Today was a "creative" day.  I had heavy cream in the fridge, canned tomatoes in the pantry, and homemade chicken stock in the freezer.  Here's what I came up with...and may I add that it was delicious.  Marvel told me he would have taken a 3rd bowl if he wasn't so full from the first 2.  

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 3 small ones, but 1 big one would do it)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (I used a gluten-free flour blend)
  • 1 28-oz. can Italian stewed tomatoes (DO NOT drain, you want those juices!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
Warm oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened.  Add garlic and cook until slightly softened and starts to smell a little garlicky, about a minute or so.  Stir in flour to blend and stir for about a minute.

Add tomatoes, juice and all!  Add chicken broth (if you're using frozen homemade stock, just through it in frozen, it'll melt!).  Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Whisk constantly, about 3 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Poor soup into blender (Be careful, its really hot.  You may want to use a ladle so it doesn't splash.  You may need to work in batches.  I did it in 2 batches.  You only want to fill the blender about 1/2 full so it doesn't spill over...that would hurt!).  Blend and puree until smooth.  Pour back into saucepan.  Stir in cream and cook over low heat for 3-5 minutes, until heated through.  Do not boil!  Season with salt and pepper to your liking.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gifts for a Boy and a Girl

New babies are a great motivator in getting me behind my sewing machine.  Recently I've had a couple friends who have had (or are having soon) new babies.  Here's a few of the things I made.

The first set is for a little boy.  Ironically enough, his name (or rather shortened form of his name) is Thor.  A great name for a Marvel-loving family (can you see why we like them?). :-)  This was their first boy after a 3 girl streak, so they (and all of us) were pretty excited!

What better for the son of Captain America (not MY little Captain America...oh no, he is hardly old enough, thank goodness.  My boys think Music Man's friend is Captain America because he's really tall and strong and blond, just like Captain America), than a Captain Jr. Onesie!

 And for those of you (REAL) Avenger fans, you'll know what this is.  But for those of you who aren't "learn-ed" in the ways of the Avengers, this is the symbol for S.H.I.E.L.D., which is the division in which General Fury created the Avengers.

Doesn't every new mom of a little boy need one of these?  A Pee-Pee-Teepee!  I do have to admit that I have NEVER used or really had to use one of these on my boys, but they've always looked so cute and it was fun and easy to make.  May I also note that this fabric was from my stash of, need I say "vintage," fabrics my mom gave me a while back that are from way back when I was a wee one.

Now for the girly stuff.  My other friend is the opposite of my first (previously mentioned) friend.  She has 2 boys and is having her first girl!  I like the sound of that!  Having all boys and mostly nephews, I don't get to make pink things very often.  In fact I found joy in trying it on little Monkey to make sure it would fit a (almost) 2 year old.  He just looked so cute (bad, rotten, mean mom points, I know!  That's about as child abusive as I get.).  He wouldn't stand still long enough for me to take a picture, but here's my proof he actually wore it:

Here's the outfit he's wearing (do you like how I used my Christmas tree box for a background...the same Christmas tree that is STILL left out, being used as a baby gate to our front stairs?).  The skirt was originally a big lady's skirt that my mom had for some reason bought "as is" without a zipper, thinking she would some day add a zipper.  She ended up giving it to me (Why did I accept it?  I must have had a vision of some sort).  So after holding on to this brand new skirt, embarrassingly...years, I finally had a reason to use it!  I shrunk it into a cuter pleated skirt.  With some of the remnant fabric I made a flower for the shirt.

Now for my favorite.  My friend really enjoys photography, so I made her a little photo assistant PINK!  Pink, oh pink.  (Really I used to hate pink until I had a boy...then another...then I crave it in my laundry!)

Until the next baby!

Juice #1

 For the last few years I've been on a quest to eat healthier.  Having a son who is allergic to...well...a lot, has been a great motivator for me.  Recently I was able to preview Hungry for Change, a film put out by the creators of Food Matters.  They talked about juicing as a way to get your full daily amounts of fruits and veggies and also as a way to help reboot your body.  To heal itself.  I've still to watch Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, which is all about how a guy who was 100 lbs overweight and very unhealthy, challenged himself to drink only fresh fruits and veggies for 60 days, in a last attempt to put off the weight and heal his body.  It apparently worked for him.  Recently I acquired a juicer of my own (a Breville Juice Fountain Pro), so I've slowly but surely been working it into my diet.  For the last couple of days I've only tried the basic apple, carrot, celery.  Today I made a slight variation and added beet.  SO tasty!  I absolutely love the color of beets.  It really did turn out this photoshopping, I promise!  I reluctantly shared with Music Man and Monkey, which I quickly found to be a mistake.  They both LOVED it.  Not a problem, I just made a second batch! :-)  I can't wait to try more!

  • 1 beet
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 apples (I used Fuji)
Be sure to wash all your fruits and veggies real well.  Send 'em on through the juicer.  Enjoy!

For those of you interested, my "basic" juice is as follows:

  • 2 apples (I used Fuji)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Curry Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew

I'm quite quickly becoming a fan of the Paleo diet.  A Paleo diet is basically going back in time before processed food, additives, food dyes, and preservatives.  It incorporates healthy fats (good animal fats, coconut oil, etc), good meats (grass-fed, non-gmo, non-antibiotic, free-range, grazing...), raw nuts, fruits, and goes along the same lines of what the Weston Price Foundation and the Feingold Diet teach (both of which I'm also a fan of).  I came across this website called Paleo: Intensified.  It has some really great recipes, many of which are allergy-free!  That is where I found this recipe.  Really, can't go wrong with curry OR sweet potatoes!

(please excuse my blurry cameras are all MIA, so I had to use my dinosaur phone)

  • 1 large purple onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 yellow bell pepper (I didn't have this, so I omitted it this time)
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
Chop onion, celery, and carrots and set aside.  Chop the yellow pepper and cube the sweet potatoes and set aside.  To prepare the chicken you can leave the thights whole or if using chicken breasts cut into thigh size pieces.  You can also choose to cut the chicken into 2 inch cubes (that's what I did).

Heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Cook chicken for 3 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and keep warm.

Saunte the onions, celery, and carrots in the olive oil for 5-7 minutes.  You may need to add a bit more olive oil.  Add the yellow pepper and sweet potatoes and saute for 3 more minutes.

Stir in the curry powder, salt, and pepper.  Stir in the chicken broth and chicken, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, simmer until the sweet potatoes reach the desired consistency, no more than 5-10 minutes.

Serves 6-8

BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad

Quinoa (aka the Gold of the Incas), is the gluten-free grain of choice.  Its a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs.  Its also high in iron and calcium and a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, and fiber.  As far as health goes, its good stuff.  As far as taste...well that's up in the air.  I'm really trying hard to love the stuff, but as of right now I just like it ok.  In my search for a good quinoa recipe, I came across this on Pinterest (good, wonderful, amazing Pinterest).  It was a big hit with my kiddos and I have to admit I was quite a fan too (heck, add some good bbq sauce and anything tastes good, right?).  Just beware if you have allergies, be sure to check the ingredients in the bbq sauce.  You might want to even stick to homemade bbq sauce to avoid all of the caramel color and corn syrup.  

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cooked, shredded bbq chicken
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cheese, shredded (I'm pretty sure I used much more than this, so add to taste.  I used a Mexican mix)
  • 2-4 Tbsp BBQ sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • cilantro for garnish
In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa, corn, black beans, chicken, and avocado.  Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer mixture onto a bowl and top with shredded cheese, bbq sauce, scallions, and cilantro.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 2-4.

World Ag Expo (aka "the Farm Show")

Every year since I was pregnant with Marvel (that'd be 9 years running now), it has become a tradition of ours to attend the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA.  Its huge.  Its fun.  Its educational.   We like it a lot.  Music Man helps out in my dad's booth and since his family lives not too far from the event, we make a week of fun out of it.  Rain or shine we're there (and it rains a good majority of the time, which surprisingly, but quite understandable, rain is really good for business!  Means the farmers aren't out working.)

What is there to do at the Farm Show, you say?  Lots and lots.  Its like 2nd best to Disneyland in my boys' eyes.  We usually try to get as many cousins to come with us as we can.  Both Music Man's sisters live in town, so this year  9 of the 10 kids between them joined us.  So sporting 13 kids, 3 moms, and 1 dad (we were asked several times if Music Man was the father of all 13 children...aka, are you sister-wives?  Uh, NO!)

First off there are LOTS of BIG HUGE tires to climb in...

...and lots and lots of tractors to "drive." Let's just say Monkey was in HEAVEN!!

We got to spend the day with Music Man aka Daddy.  He's always good to have around at things like this since he likes to climb up in the tractors just as much as the kids!  (And yes, Music Man has been sporting a groovy stache since about Thanksgiving and quite proud of it!)

Some tractors were small...some were REALLY big!  We tried them all.

Sorry girls, no, this is NOT Justin Bieber!  He's a  MUCH better catch!

Of course we HAVE to take the traditional cousin photo in front of a big tractor scoop!

These two are so cute together.  Monkey really should have been the one with the leash!

We got to meet a giant 2 legged cow.  Monkey was NOT happy to see him!

The farm show is 3-day event, but because of all the rain, we waited until the last day to go.  One of the highlights of the day was watching all of the tractors pulling out on their way home.  It was a first for us, but I think we just might have to go the last day from now on!

Amongst all of the playing and fun and games and good food and company, I love that my children get to see the tools used to grow the food we eat and the cotton we wear.  They really do learn so much each and every time we go.

Until next year...