Monday, March 30, 2009

Food Glorious Food!

Lately one of the things I've enjoyed doing is browsing all the wonderful food and cooking blogs out there on the world wide web and searching for new recipes to try. I used to hate meal planning, but now I've come to enjoy it because I've found so many new recipes to try. It doesn't hurt that everyone has gone all Pioneer Woman and now takes mouth watering pictures to accompany each recipe .

I've noticed that in the blogging world there is something called Menu Plan Monday and people link to a blog and then post the recipes they are making that week. I don't plan on doing that officially, but since it's Monday and I have my meals planned for the week I figured I might as well share, especially since a few of them are among my recent finds. No mouth watering pictures here (because then you would most likely see the chaos in which I cook) - click on the links for that!

Monday - Turkey Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce. Originally from Giada, but I found it on the blog Elizabeth's Edible Experience. Arrabbiata sauce is a spicy sauce that has bits of pancetta in it and although I originally planned on making it, I was sending half of this dish over to friends who just had a baby and I thought I should steer clear of spicy. Oh and I also ran out of time. That too! This was really really good - and according to Giada it freezes nicely. I don't think I've made stuffed shells since I've been married, but this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Tuesday - Grilled Salmon with Roasted Corn Relish - This is hands down my favorite Salmon recipe. I think the corn relish is a must! It's supposed to be warmer tomorrow so it's a good time to break out the grill and enjoy this super healthy and flavorful dish. If you aren't a salmon fan, you should try this recipe - it might convert you!

Wednesday - We are having dinner at friend's house - ribs, my favorite! I am bringing one of my favorite salads, Asaian Slaw Salad - I'm sure everyone has had it or a version of it!

Thursday - Tuscan Lentil Soup - This is from the Sisters Cafe, and since it looks like it will be a rainy cloudy day I thought this soup would be perfect.

Isn't it funny that I plan my meals based on the weather. Don't tell me I'm the only one?!

Having new recipes that I am excited to try makes me enjoy the whole process of making dinner for my family - although Matt probably gets sick of me asking him "do ya like, huh, huh, do ya like it, is it good?!" He's all "chill out, I just went back for thirds, what do you think?"

Lastly, tomorrow is Catherine's unbirthday at school (I am a summer baby and I never got an unbirthday! hmpf!) and she is bringing cupcakes in for a treat. Of course she got to pick and we made chocolate with vanilla (pink!) icing. However, next time I get to pick I am making THESE. Go on...I dare you to check them out and not want one!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

California...I was there

This time last month I was on my way home from a wonderful week long visit in California with Jon and Renee.

It's been a month since I enjoyed a week of warm California skies and it still isn't that warm here so I figured now is the time to post some pictures and relive our adventures.
Here are a few pictures from our time in Monterey.

Matt and I stayed overnight in Monterey and had dinner and walked around Cannery Row, which is all lit up at night and very cool.

The next day was Big Sur and it is one of my favorite places on earth. Seriously. I haven't traveled that much but at this point in my life, it's Big Sur and the Swiss Alps. I love both the mountains and the ocean and I am always drawn to natural beauty over created-man made beauty. Not to say I don't appreciate and enjoy beautiful architecture and art, because I believe much of that is truly inspired by God, but seeing the beauty of God's creation is what really speaks to me.

When you drive through Big Sur, you feel like every 50 feet you want to stop and take another picture because around every bend it just seems more and more amazing. Here is a picture of the coast line that we traveled along. I am one of those point and shot camera people, so these are completely unedited (because if they were they would be just a bit better!) - that is really how blue the waters were!

Here is picture walking out onto a hard to access beach that is listed as a State Park, but located at the end of an unmarked two mile windy road.
Here is a cool shot of the water through the openings in the rocks.

Matt and I walked along the beach and came upon a small stream flowing out of the forest (for those of you who grew up on the Jersey shore you can appreciate how cool this way - so far removed from boardwalks and condos - which I do love as well!). The rest of the beach was sharp cliffs, this was the only spot that let you move inland.

Of course we followed the stream into the trees. I had to take a shot showing the contrast between the open sunny beach and the dark shaded forest just a few feet beyond.

There was a trail leading up the mountain/cliff so we hiked up to the top to see what the view was like! Definitely worth it. Hopefully it gives you a better perspective of what the beach below was like.

If you look closely (or click on the picture) you can see Matt in the lower left hand corner of the picture. I hiked up a little further just to see how far I could go (that is so typical me). I was initially even further up than this but I heard something in the bushes and immediately took off down the hill at a much fast pace. I was envisioning a bear or a snake coming to greet me!

Before we turned around to drive back home we stopped at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and walked out to this waterfall overlook. Isn't it amazing? The beach and waterfall are inaccessible in order to maintain the untouched beauty.

After having a nice dinner Renee and I headed home with the kids while Matt and Jon stayed behind to camp and hike. The hike the next day resulted in a bit of tension (a month later I can say a "bit" of tension and you probably realize that it was more than a bit at the time!) for the wives who were back at home waiting for their turn to go out and have some girl time! But I definitely enjoyed hearing about their eight hour long adventure over dinner that night.

This is the river that they crossed in their skivvies. Bear Gryllis, uh, I mean Jon, went first and convinced my husband that it was a once in a lifetime experience and they had to do it.
I'll leave out most of the part where my husband was huffing and puffing up the trail after Jon and skip to the two hikers having reached the summit!
On there way down the were able to get to a beach that was otherwise inaccessible (unless you were the owners of the beautiful home above).

Don't you love that little waterfall above? It's not the best shot of it, but it's the only one that doesn't involve one of the guys in their boxers. This is a family friendly blog you know!
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This was later that same night as we went out to dinner at a fun Mexican restaurant on Santana Row. I love the siloute of palm trees in the setting sun so I had Matt take a quick picture.

Finally two shots of the couples - all dressed up for the night!

We still had two more days, Saturday was spent in San Fransisco (our camera batteries were dead, so those are on the CD of Jon and Renee's pictures) and Sunday was church, chillaxing back at the apartment and visiting some dear friends from college. Monday we headed home - and you all know how that went!

I can't believe it was a month ago - we had looked forward to it for so long and Renee and I started planning it the night before they even left. I love California and all there is to see and do there, but most importantly it was a chance for us to spend time with the Kovaliks and see a bit of their life in California. Of course it made us want them to come home so we can see them on a daily basis -thankfully a month later all the details for their new home ten minutes down the road have worked out and in two months we will have them as neighbors again (ok, so it's not even the same town, but compared to across the country, it counts as neighbors!).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yes you are Irish

I had to show a picture of my crew getting ready to head out the door this morning. I definitely didn't plan it, but it turned out that all four of us were wearing jeans with layered t-shirts. It actually was helpful in getting Catherine dressed this morning. "Do you want to match mommy?" works like a charm!

The girls were wearing green in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Because I could provide green pants, socks and shoes for Ella as well as the t-shirts, we compromised by painting a Shamrock on her check (and Catherine's as well). Because Ella is sporting some cheerleader hair you can see the cute little bow that my mom sent for the girls to wear today.
For some reason Ella has been really into St. Patrick's Day. I imagine it's because they had talked about it in school and her grandma talks to them about Ireland.
One day after school last week Ella asked me "Mom, am I Irish? My teacher asked me if I was Irish."
I told her, that yes, she was Irish (and German and Scottish and French and Native American...but I didn't go into that with her).
A few days later she asked me the same question. I told her again that she was Irish and we talked about Ireland and St. Patrick's Day.
On Sunday morning before chuch she once again asked me "Mom, am I Irish?"
I said "Ella, you can ask me as much as you want, you will always be Irish." Just making sure we're clear, that's all. I wasn't annoyed (honestly!!!) at all.
Later that afternoon I overheard her asking Matt "Daddy, am I Irish?" Seriously? Again? I said to her "Ella, don't you remember what mommy told you this morning when you asked me that?"
My sweet precocious five year old looked at my and said "You told me I could ask as much as I wanted!"
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

An Unfortunate Cell Phone Story

I have a story for you. I have to warn you, put down your coffee, soda, bagel, whatever it is you may be eating or drinking.

Ok, now I'll continue.

On Friday I took the girls and met some friends at one of those kid climbing, game playing, pizza eating places (but not Chuck E Cheese - I realize when I typed that it sounded just like Chuck E Cheese and if it was I would have just said I was at Chuck E Cheese!). Of course it's pretty noisy in there and Catherine gets scared by all the noise so she was hanging on me and whining, just adding to the chaos. Then my phone rang and I was trying to talk to my friend over the noise of the place and whining of my daughter. Who then announced she had to go the bathroom. I continued my phone call for a few more seconds as we walked around looking for the bathroom. Catherine chattered away as she went to the bathroom and then I decided to pee too while we were there. As I stood up I heard a "thlop" - kind of like a plop and a thunk.

I actually said out loud "What was that?" But I think deep down I knew.

I turned around to see the bluish glow of my phone's LCD screen IN THE TOILET. THAT HADN't BEEN FLUSHED. Sorry for the all caps, but it's a pretty important point

The next point is the most important of all. Even though it's been a few days it still pains me to write it.

There was more than just pee in the potty. Catherine had done #1 AND #2.

What do you think I did? Let me ask you, what do you think YOU would have done?

I have to tell you that if someone asked me that question my answer would probably be much different than my response. Because I did not hesitate. I stuck my hand into the toilet and pulled it out while my daughter stood next to me saying "Ewwww Mom ewwww. Ewwwwww". Just the kind of encouragment I needed at the time!

My quick reaction may have saved my phone, but the grossness did cloud my judgment and instead of taking my phone apart right away I washed my hands. A few times. With my pants unbuttoned because I couldn't bear to touch anything until my hand was cleaned.

I spent the rest of our time there trying to dry my phone as thoroughly as possible. Every few minutes I would say to my friend "I can't believe this happened."

If that wasn't enough, later on I was walking down the hallway to another section of the play place and was carrying the phone battery with me (not sure why). I stopped to look at something and the battery slipped from my hands, hit my foot and slid across the hall underneath the doorway of a locked door. "You have got to be kidding me". Yes, that is exactly what I said. (of course I was able to get it back, but it just seemed so impossible at the time)

So now it seems like my phone is beyond repair but I'm still hoping that I didn't stick my arm in poo for no reason.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Green Eggs and Ham

I just had to post this cute video of Catherine "reading" Green Eggs and Ham. I hate that my voice is so loud, please try to ignore it! I love the voice she uses to read the story and how at 1:21 she switches into her normal voice to ask me a question.

I had no idea she knew this book that well. In fact, afterwards Ella was all upset that Catherine could read so much better than her (I tried to explain that it wasn't really reading). We were all surprised!

When Catherine gets flustered or gets ahead of herself her words get mixed up a bit. That's why it might not be clear at first that is reading "Green Eggs and Ham". That's why I keep asking her to say it because I had heard her earlier but when I was recording her she kept saying Eggs and Gram" and funny things like that!

I love this little girl so much and since she tends to be the quieter, more reserved one, I had to share a moment when she's being a Ham. Hahaha. I couldn't have picked a better word for this video!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What you always wanted to know

I saw this cute little questionnaire going around on facebook and I thought I would do it for the blog. You ask your kids a bunch of questions about you and share what they had to say....
Just to give you some perspective on their answers...Ella is 5 and Catherine is 3 1/2.

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Ella: I love you
Catherine: clean up

2. What makes mom happy?
Ella: listening
Catherine: when we love people
3. What makes mom sad?
Ella: not listening
Catherine: not listening
4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Ella: Tickling me
Catherine: tickle me
5. What was your mom like as a child?
Ella: nice
Catherine: tiny
6. How old is your mom?
Ella: 31
Catherine: 30
7. How tall is your mom?
Ella: the same size as daddy
Catherine: this tall (holding up her pinkie finger)
8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Ella: read
(oh yeah, she knows her mom!)
Catherine: clean up
(hmmm...really Catherine? I must be a cheerful cleaner for her to think I like it that much. Or maybe that's why she makes so many messes - because cleaning up is my favorite thing!)
9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Ella: clean up (hmmm...if that were so the house would be a lot cleaner.
Catherine: work
(does playing on facebook and reading blogs count as work? If so, she's right on!)
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Ella: teaching
(I'm really surprised that she would think that after I recently starting to work with her on some reading basics. I am so not a teacher!)
Catherine: cooking in the kitchen (don't I wish!)
11. What is your mom really good at?
Ella: reading
(again, right on. I will admit it, I am a good reader. not something to be super proud of but I'll take it!)
Catherine: exercising
(Catherine must have a good long term memory, because she can't have any short term memories of me exercising!)
12. What is your mom not very good at?
Ella: raking leaves (why Ella, why? I really think I'm a good raker)
Catherine: cutting trees down
(hmmm...I don't know what to say about this, except, I imagine she's right.)
13. What does your mom do for a job?
Ella: be Cinderella
(I think that must be referring to Cinderella picking up after everyone and working and not Cinderella all dolled up going to the ball.)
Catherine: work
14.What is your mom's favorite food?
Ella: chicken
Catherine: soup
15.What makes you proud of your mom?
Ella: washing the dirty dishes
Catherine: when I do silly things
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Ella: Sister Bear of the Berenstain Bears (this really cracked me up because she answered right away without hesitation)
Catherine: Brother Bear...and I would be really scared of you (she likes the books, but of course is scared of the characters, so yes, she would be scared of her mom!)
17. What do you and your mom do together?
Ella: read together
Catherine: play rough house
(I think she got me confused with daddy on this one)
18. How are you and your mom the same?
Ella: we have some of the same jeans
Catherine: blue eyes
19. How are you and your mom different?
Ella: She has a diff. finger nails than me
Catherine: I’m lower than her

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Ella: because she snuggles with me a lot.
Catherine: because she is proud of me.

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
Ella: I don’t know, but she’s always mad at him
(Oh. My. What can I even say about this? Matt asked her this questions when I was gone so I didn't get to see how she said and if she was messing around. But wow. I thought about asking her for another one, but I figured I'd keep it real! No judging please! Even if she wasn't serious (I did talk about it with her later) I still better watch myself!)
Catherine: When she got married to him
(oh thank you - I have no idea what she really meant by that but it just sounds so much better...)

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Ella: The Outlets
(I hardly ever go, perhaps I talk about wanting to go?)
Catherine: To a Party (that's me, the party girl!)

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