Thursday, May 28, 2009

Attack of the Red Crayon

This week Courtney will be recapping SYTYCD -she has a tough job ahead of her with two nights of auditions (four hours total) to review for us! Look for her to have a post up sometime tomorrow.

I am working on getting pictures up from our monumental event of last week - preschool graduation (two in one day!)! I am so proud of my girls - I hope I can share it soon!

I also have some yummy recipes to share. I was making a strawberry pie and actually thought about getting out the camera and providing some step by step shots...bu as usual the camera was MIA and the pie would not wait! Maybe another time :(

This weekend we kicked off the summer with a swim and it was incredibly rewarding to see Ella, in her final weeks of swim lessons, swimming ten feet or so in the pool with no flotation devices. I felt like this summer we were primed for a breakthrough and I think it's here! Catherine was doing really well too, in her arm bands of course, after the initial shock of the cold water. It helped that she could jump in and out of the hot tub to warm up!

We've loved having Renee and family back in the same state (so much easier to talk on the phone) and look forward to having them ten minutes down the road. The kids got to spend some time together for the first time since they've been back and it was fun to see them all interact. Ella is in love with Mia and I think I will be volunteering her services as a mother's helper this summer! It was so adorable to hear Mia say her name "El-LA". Nolan and Catherine alternated between playing together and doing their own thing. At one point they were carrying something into the other room and I heard Catherine tell Nolan "I'm stronger than you." Oh man, she cracks me up!

Well I'm nearing the end of two hours of SYTYCD auditions. I really love when we get the top 20 and they start the real competition. But I have to say that I am always highly entertained by the auditions, often times just by the reactions of the judges. They take it seriously, but unlike AI, their ego doesn't take over the show and they seem to have more fun. I loved that Adam Shankman got up there and danced. Ok, enough - check out Courtney's recap tomorrow and make sure you chime in.

You won't hear from me until later on because I am taking the kids to meet Shannon, Jack and Cade at the Crayola Factory. Please pray for us that there is no one there dressed as a giant red crayon. When I was online getting directions Ella spotted him on a small tiny picture on the website. I shamelessly lied and told her it/he wasn't real and I know so because Shannon told me so! So there. If I even let her have an inkling of doubt I don't know if I could get her in the car tomorrow. We do better with surprise than anticipation. I hope I'm not eating my words tomorrow!

And now you know the meaning behind the title of this post.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Rachel, from a Heart in Progress is kicking off the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Dance" blog which will be posted each week throughout this season of So You Think You Can Dance (again, from here on out I promise I will call it SYTYCD.) Also, for those of you who are new, it airs on Fox

Now, take a second to watch this clip from yesterday's Ellen, featuing some talented dancers from last season!

Also, Renee, it was Kherinton. Twitch and Kherington = Twitchington. I think we were last stuck on Kensington...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

All sorts of stuff

I'm sitting here watching the finale of American Idol with my mom - seeing how quickly I can make it through the two hour show - love my DVR!

There is laundry to be folded, a shower to be taken, gifts to be wrapped..

oh wow Jason Mraz - yay!

Anyway...where was I? Oh yeah, I have a lot I need to be doing but I'm not doing any of it. I'll probably regret it tomorrow.

Kris and Keith Urban - I'm liking!

The girls have their end of the year programs/graduations tomorrow. Catherine's is in the morning and Ella's is a little more formal/special and is held at night with a reception afterwards. I have cookies to make and cake pops to dip. I promised Ella I would make some for her to give to her classmates.

I'm definitely feeling emotional as Ella ends her two years in preschool and gets ready to move onto Kindergarten. In her backpack today were many end of the year projects, a class book, an all about me book, as well as the teacher's evaluation. Looking through all of it I got to see how much Ella has learned and how she's grown this past year. She's had such a great class for the past two years and really loves the friends she's made and she's not looking forward to moving on. I think the next three months will be spent getting us both ready for that!

My mom has come down to see the girls do their special programs so we're enjoying some time with her and now she's watching American Idol with me. She has so many questions about how it all "works". Right now we're watching Adam and KISS sing. She thinks Adam reminds her of Elvis. And now she's excited to go to Creation. Not sure how she made the jump from KISS to Creation....

Now and emergency alert has just blocked the screen and I am pretty darn sure it is right at the moment when the winner was announced (it's 10:01 now, I'm about 30 minutes behind.) I will like I wasted a lot of time over the past few months if I don't get to see the look on Kris or Adam's face when they win. Maybe there's a lesson in there for me. I'll have to take some time and think about it.

My mom won't let me fast forward past Rod Stewart. Well I guess I made her watch Fergi....

A few bits of more randomness..

I had fun reading about those of you who share my love for avocados as well those of you who are willing to give it a try. Props to Tasha who's avocado milkshake wins the prize as the weirdest way to eat/drink avocado.

I promise to get an Aldi's post up soon. I hope to help you take full advantage of the savings you will find there. Today Matt got hotdog and hamburger rolls for $.25 a bag. Can't beat that!

Tomorrow night premiers one of my favorite shows, my favorite reality show....So You Think You Can Dance. How much do I love this show? Well I still have last year's season finale on DVR. After watching the depressing season finale for Grey's Anatomy, I needed something happy to watch and I put on SYTYCD and let them dance the sadness away!

This year my friend Courtney organized a rotating So You Think You Can Dance (which I will now always refer to SYTYCD) recap blog. It will start tomorrow night and I will put up a quick post each week directing you to the blogger who is doing the recap. If you don't watch the show, maybe now's the time to give it a try and you can discuss it with us. If you do watch, feel free to comment and share your opinions each week! The more the merrier!

I got to the end of American Idol. The message alert did in fact interupt the moments right after Kris was announced as the winner so I missed what he said. Did it seem like Ryan was very unenthusiastic to anyone else? I love Kris, but I have to say I was kind of hoping Adam would win. I know that both of them will be fine either way and neither is a loser, but I think that all the news (well, the entertainment news, the the real world news) tomorrow will be about Adam losing and not Kris winning. I think Kris would have gotten a lot less flack had he not won. I guess I should be optimistic that people will focus on what Kris has done and what a great humble talented guy he is and not moaning about Adam losing. I think Adam is a great vocalist and great performer and seems like a nice guy with a fun sense of humor. I just happen to prefer Kris' style of music more, that's it. That's all I have to say about that!

I also made a new yummy recipe tonight. I'm going to post it later because I've been sitting here talking to my mom and now I need to go to bed!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways!

I'm not talking about my husband or my precious girls, even though it is definitely true about each of them.

In this case I am talking about something very different, something with which my relationship (if it can be called that) is entirely one sided.

And no, I am not talking about Edward Cullen. Although I may have thought it would be fun to reread the Twilight series and may have gotten so caught up in it again that I asked Matt to scoop me up in his arms like I was light as a feather (i.e., no grunting or groaning) and then walk a few miles with me like that. His response brought me back to reality when he said he couldn't walk just himself a few miles, let alone while holding me. Of course, that is if that scenario really happened.

I figured I would get my once a week food post in and share my love for this baby....

Around Christmas an Aldi's opened up near us and has helped us reduce our weekly grocery bill. One of the great deals I am able to get there is a bag of three avocados for $2.50! That's pretty cheap and pretty exciting! So basically every time I shop, I pick up a bag of avocados, because you never can have too many and it would be a tragedy to have none.

I basically look for an excuse to add avocado to anything and everything. I really do love it that much. Before I share all the ways I indulge, I figured I should look up some nutritional aspects that I could share with you as well so I don't feel bad about consistently eating something so high in fat (but it's good fat people, good fat! I swear it is so hard for me to move on from the low fat craze of the 90's. As I read how much fat is in one avocado I got the chills and not the good kind.)

So here are a few fun tidbits about the avocado and why you should love it too!

  • It has three times the amount of potassium as a banana and is also filling and acts as a slow burning fuel.

  • The high potassium content helps balance our body's electrolytes, aids muscle activity, nerve function and energy metabolism

  • It is also one of the richest source of fiber among all fruits and vegetables. Packed with vitamins A, several B-complex, it also contains powerful anti-oxidants like vitamins C and E.

  • The avocado is one of the best natural mouth wash and a remedy for bad breath (pretty cool, huh!)

  • An avocado contains oleic and linoleic acids that are effective in lowering the LDL cholesterol and increasing the healthy HDL cholesterol.

  • Regular consumption of avocados strengthens the body's immune system.

  • For you pregos...The vitamin B6 helps relieve nausea and queasiness associated with pregnancy. The high folate content is important and necessary for healthy fetal cell and tissue development.

I have to laugh because as I was reading different bits about avocados and how awesome they are (one article described it as a superfood here to save the diet), it did address the high fat content and how the majority of it was the healthy fat that our body needs, but even so not many people eat a whole avocado at one sitting so it's not like you're getting all that fat at once! Now I promise you that I don't eat a whole avocado in one sitting, a half is usually pushing it, but I may have eaten a whole bowl of guacomole made out of one avocado in one sitting - I guess that counts!

Instead of taking multi vitamins, I eat avocados! Ok, perhaps I'm going just a bit overboard here so now I'm going to share some ways you can enjoy avocado as well....

Guacamole! Seriously, it is so easy and so much better to just make your own. Grab a nice ripe avo, slice it open, scoop out the fruit (Ithink that's what it is called), mash it up with a fork, add a minced garlic clove or a pinch of garlic powder to taste, a bit of salt, some lime juice...and there you have it. I like to add a handful of diced tomatoes and onion if I have it and maybe even some chopped cilantro. But the great thing is, you don't need to - it's tasty just with a bit of salt and garlic (or even no garlic).

Another thing I've been doing is adding it to a turkey sandwhich in place of cheese - healthier and tastier!

Ell and Matt made me breakfast in bed the day after Mother's Day (Matt has to leave to be at church early on Sundays so we can't really do a big breakfast that day. Catherine just decided she'd rather hang with me in bed than help. Smart girl!). My requested breakfast was scrambled eggs topped with fresh salsa (pico de gallo), avocado and cheese. And some turkey bacon on the side. If you like to add a little southwest flair to your eggs, you definitely should try it. Little shout out to my sis in law Chrissie for opening my eyes to this!

Only two more I promise.

A great option for a delish lunch. Make a salad with lettuce, tomato and cucumber (go crazy with the veggies - those are what i prefer and often have), add some....wait for it....avocado and if you have some grilled chicken (either left over from the night befoe or the Perdu precooked chicken strips) that's a nice touch as well. Mix light ranch dressing with some barbecue sauce and you've got yourself a tasty lunch that is healthy without a ton of work and is interesting. Sometimes I just can't get excited about a plain old salad for lunch!

Finally, what I ate for dinner last night.. Tomato Avocado Salad! I just made it up but it's not at all unique or complicated. Basically 1-2 tomatoes cut into medium sized pieces, not diced. A half of an avocado in chunks. A little bit of corn, some black beans, (1/2 a can of each, if that), some diced red onion, throw in a handful of fat free Feta, some freshly ground salt and pepper, a few shakes of Balsamic vinegar. Voila, easy, healthy dinner. I toasted a pita and cut it into wedges and ate the salad alongside it. This is similar to a black bean salsa that I make, except the focus was on the tomatoes and not the beans and a whole lot less vinegar and bigger pieces.

So there you have it. Now you are more aware than you ever wanted to be about my one sided love affair with avocados.

I wonder if Elizabeth Barrett Browning is turning in her grave?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Take me out to the ball game....

Friday night we went to a surprise party for a dear friend. Here is a picture of the lovely Darlene!

It just so happened that the the part was at a minor league baseball game. Some picnic tables were reserved and we had a picnic buffet with a great view of the game. It shouldn't surprise anyone that it was the girls' first time to a ball park (I love football, soccer, not so much). Ella was full of questions and excited until we pulled up and she saw all the people and cars. For some reason, who knows why, she got all freaked out and claimed that she had no idea we were coming here and she wanted to go home and all she wanted was a night at home with her family. Of course, her nervousness was contagious and Catherine started getting upset, again for no apparent reason! It took some time, but once they saw some familiar faces and I promised them ice cream if they could pull it together, they started enjoying themselves.

Look, she looks fine, doesn't she?

Catherine was fine, but didn't like when the announcer, or in her words "the big guy" spoke - which was basically every couple of minutes.

But then this guy made an appearance a few feet away.....

And all hell broke loose! Actually even though Catherine screamed at the top of our lungs and Ella hid under the picnic table they really didn't do that badly. Ella was scared but she didn't cry and Catherine just clung to me and I kept her head turned away man (is that what he's called, cuz that's what he is???). It's kind of funny that I would think that screaming and hiding under a picnic table was not that bad.
This guys was one of three mascot type things the kids had to avoid. There was a big turtle man and a recycle man (trust me, that guys was scary). Because of course it was a family friend place and most kids love that stuff. Ella really can't understand that and kept asking us why the mascots came over to the kids, why did the kids want to see the mascots.
It was close to nine by that time and we knew it was time to go. We were walking on the sidewalk outside of the ballpark and I heard a loud "thunk" and something bounced on the ground beside us. We all stopped and I assumed Ella was hit in the head with something...oh yeah...that baseball laying right there on the ground....but wait, she's still on her feet and not crying. Instead of thinking that it missed her I thought first that it was one of those "soft" balls that they were slingshotting in to the crowd earlier in the evening and that's why she wasn't hurt. That's how close it was to her head. Thankfully (as we walked away I said many many thanks to God for protecting Ella) it hit the telephone pole next to us and then past Ella's head.
So instead of a trip to the hospital we got a nice little souvenir from our first baseball game!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Good Eats

I wanted to share three recipes I'm making this week. Two are among my favorites and one was a new one is definitely a keeper.

First up is Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti. I know some people make this as just basic chili served over spaghetti, but I believe that this recipe is true Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti - it definitely doesn't taste like traditional chili...or spaghetti either. My friend Jean first made it for us years ago and I was so excited to see that it was included in the cookbook her church put out (just an aside, I love church cookbooks! Not the youth group raising money ones, but the old school ones that have all sorts of yummy recipes submitted by different generations of women. )

This has a long list of ingredients, bu the great thing is once you get all the spices in, you just let it simmer for hours. I love when I don't have to spend a ton of time at dinnertime actually getting dinner ready. Make sense?

Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti

1 quart water
2 lbs ground beef
2 medium onions, grated fine
2 8oz cans tomato sauce
5 whole allspice
1/2 tsp red pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cloves garlic
4 Tbs chili powder
2 T vinegar
1 large bay leaf
5 whole cloves
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 ounce bitter (I use unsweetened) chocolate
1 tsp cinnamon

That's right, there's cinnamon, chocolate, cloves and allspice in this chili! Just trust me....

Add uncooked ground beef to water in large pot. Stir until beef separates to a fine mixture. Boil slowly for 30 minutes. Add all other ingredients. Stir to combine, bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours. For the last hour, the pot can be covered after desired consistency is reached.

Serve over spaghetti and top with your choice of fresh chopped onion, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. (We choose all three!)

Secondly, tonight's dinner!

I found this recipe on my friend Crafty P's new blog, Crafty's Cafe. She put up the recipe for Thai Peanut Noodles a few weeks ago and I've been looking forward to trying it. Click on the recipe to be linked to directly to her post.

Of course I have to let you know what I thought of it.....the verdict is in and it was delicious! It was also very easy to put together which is a definite plus.

I did use the Udon noodles that it called for (rather than linguine) and I think that it was worth it (I found them in the same aisle as the chili sauce and they were pretty cheap. I did buy a few bags of them b/c each bag is pretty small - one serving size if you're eating it as a main dish.

In terms of spice, we doubled the sauce (which was more than enough - I will be having this as leftovers at some point this week!) and I added one and a half tsp of the hot chili sauce, which was just about perfect for me, a tiny bit spicy for Matt but he didn't complain.

I thought topping it with the cilantro, green onions, chopped peanuts (dry roasted is what I used) and fresh lime juice was definitely necessary - do not pass those up!

Next time I make it I might add some thinly cut cooked chicken. It's fine as it is and a great option for a meatless meal, but for those who would want more, chicken would be a great fit with it.

Finally, you don't need as much sauce as you might think. I found that when I got to the bottom of the bowl there was a ton of sauce left and it was a bit overpowering. Matt warned me about this and I didn't listen so I had to learn the hard way. Didn't stop me from scraping every last bit out of the bowl.

I could seriously go and eat more of this right now and it's almost 10 pm. So I definitely recommend it next time you're looking for an easy tasty meal.

Finally I have one more recipe to share. I could have sworn I already posted this one last Cinco de Mayo, but I did a quick search and it didn't turn up.

Ok, so now I realize that apparently I don't know how to spell "fajitas" and I'm not even going to tell you how I was trying to spell them. Spelled correctly I realize that I did indeed post this recipe last year. It was fun to look back and see that this time a year ago Catherine had been potty trained for two weeks and we were having a cake to celebrate.

Wow, that seems so long ago. I'm glad I can't spell and was able to remember that! So go ahead and check out last year's post and the recipe for my favorite fajitas.

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