Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer To-Do list - is it a To-DONE list now?

Checking back over my to-do list from earlier in the summer, I find that some things are done, some are in progress, and some have fallen by the wayside - let's see what's what!

1. Finish the kitchen remodel! DONE!

2. Add an exterior outlet to the front porch area that's tied in to the porch light, and then string decorative lights along the porch ceiling. This will be done this weekend, along with changing out our dining room fixture.

3. Build the chicken coop, so its ready for occupancy next spring. We're back to debating whether or not to keep chickens at all - Little Buddy is terrified of them we don't want to be cruel and torture him with his greatest nemesis in the backyard. We'll see how his phobia is next spring and go from there.

4. Paint the porch chair, the picnic table and chairs, and the patio side table. After getting another porch chair (the rocking chair) and painting the wood crate table, we decided to leave both chairs unpainted (for now). We also decided not to paint the patio side table because it looks pretty great as wood, but it does need some time of finish to protect it from rain this winter so we'll need to do something to it soon. The patio furniture still desperately needs an update, but with the crappy weather we've been unmotivated to tackle it.

5. Plant, tend, and harvest vegetables from the garden. DONE! We've harvested strawberries, snap peas, blueberries, lettuce, cilantro, basil and turnips so far. I'm hoping to put in fall seeds this weekend, and even after our gloomy summer we do have a few green tomatoes, some tiny jalapenos and Italian roaster peppers so there's still hope one or two will ripen.

6. Go to a U-Pick strawberry patch, pick a bunch, and put up strawberry preserves. We didn't get to this and berry season is over.

7. Have a garage sale and get rid of some of the baby things we don't need anymore. I did sell the crib and mattress on Craigslist, but we haven't had the sale and there are still a ton of baby things to get rid of. Maybe there will be time for a September sale . . .

So out of seven items two are a solid done, two are partially done (or will be done asap), and three didn't happen. Not to bad, and there's still time this summer! Hope you're all having a great and productive summer as well!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

 I love the 4th of July. I love the cookout foods, I love the parades, I love the patriotic music, and I love love love the fireworks. I miss going to see the big show in the city, but I think our little ones are too young to make that fun for any of us since you've got to get there super early to get a spot. Also they're at the age when I'm never quite sure how the noise will affect them, so we'll head somewhere we can beat a fast retreat if necessary.

Today's a busy day for us - we had a kiddie parade to march in with preschool, and then just enough time to come home for lunch and naps before heading off again to an afternoon BBQ. We're back at home now but once it gets dark we'll head over to the park to watch people set off all manner of explosives, legal and probably otherwise. Here's lunch:

Clockwise from bottom right: strawberry puffs, strawberry, blueberry and string cheese skewers, flag bagel (red pepper, blueberries, cream cheese), blueberries, marshmallows with strawberry pockys, Bing cherries.

Today's muffin tin lunch was inspired by Michelle at Muffin Tin Mom, who suggested a red, white and blue theme for the week. So fun!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Packing crate table

My mom works for a shipping company, and they frequently have wooden crates to be discarded or given away. We have a big blue crate that we use for a sandbox, and a smaller one for a firewood box. About five years ago she gave me a crate that I think was intended to use as a planter on the patio; however, it went into the garage and became a junk-gatherer for awhile before it got dumped outside in the woodshed.

Every once in awhile I would think about what to do with that crate - it bothered me to have it just sitting there unused. In the meanwhile, I'd been pondering what to do with our porch area, and I'd acquired a wooden dining chair with the intention to paint it and put it out there. Then just the other day Papi came home with a wood rocking chair he found at an antique store, and we put that out on the porch too. It was clear we needed something else though, and that crate came to mind.

Last weekend I primed it with white primer, gave it a few coats of light green paint, and used some chalkboard spray paint that I had on hand from another project. It only took a few hours including drying time, and it was a fun project to do with Gabi. I had to accept the imperfections that can come from having a 3-year-old assistant, but that's what life's all about! Here's the finished table:

I'm so psyched about it - I think it turned out really well and I'm excited to be able to write little messages depending what's going on that day. It also feels great to have finally found a use for that crate that was haunting me for the past five years!

Spring Cleaning

Never mind that its summer, lately I've been in a serious nesting mood. The other day I decided to tackle one of our house's biggest disaster zones - the pantry. Now how a little closet like this one can become such a mess is kind of amazing, but here it is:

Pantry - Before
It starts out organized, and somehow over time things just get shoved back in any old way, and before long its a jumbled mess of opened boxes, bags of stale chips, spilled dry pasta, and god knows what else. I try to keep up the system, but frankly its three against one here, so its hard going. Instead, every so often I end up doing a complete clean-out.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Muffins, muffins, who wants some muffins?

Well, not really. Muffin tins, actually. Filled with decidedly non-muffinish food. Today was our latest go-round with Muffin Tin Monday, and it was a simple but good one:

From the top right: ham roll-ups, whole grain cheese fish, hummus, steamed broccoli and carrots, ranch dressing, pita triangles.
Both kiddos liked this, although the veggies didn't get too much play. Gabi ate her carrots but left the brocolli, and Little Buddy didn't eat either, although he did use them as a dip delivery vehicle. I'm trying to teach him to actually BITE the dip-coated vegetable, instead of just licking it clean and re-dipping. So far its a no-go, and so he always gets his own little bowl of dip (or muffin cup, as the case may be).

Next Monday is Independence Day, and I've got all sorts of ideas percolating about . . . we've got a busy busy day on the 4th but hopefully I'll be able to work in a muffin tin lunch! Otherwise, perhaps some other time this week. . .

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Too Much TV!

My kids watch too much TV. Way too much TV. Of course they think they watch not quite enough TV, and would I kindly please turn it back on again thankyouverymuch? But secretly, they know they watch too much TV as well.

I'm trying to cut down their habit - of course I know that I can just turn it off and that's it, but c'mon, that's not reality. Right now they're watching "show" (as its known around here) while I write this, and frankly I probably wouldn't be writing now if they weren't. We all need some help to curb the habit!

Lately I've been trying out a new system that works reasonably well. Every morning I make up "show tickets" that are worth a half-hour of TV watching each. They redeem them for the shows they'd like to watch, and when the tickets are gone, the TV goes off. I've been giving them between 4-6 tickets, which is still too much TV but better than where they were. The best part about this system is it gets them to ration the viewing themselves - they have to choose which shows to watch, and to turn the TV off if they're running low on tickets that they'd like to save for a later time. I haven't really let them save them up for another day yet, but I suppose that's a possibility. I'm sure there will be more conflict with this system later on when Little Buddy has more of an opinion about which programs to watch, but for now that's not an issue. At times the hardest part is holding firm when the tickets run out and they're still whining for TV, especially when its late and dinner needs to get on the table and I could really use the distraction!

I know this will be an ongoing battle, and it will probably only get worse, but I hope that if I can get some control over it right now, it will make things easier later on. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meatless Monday - Leftovers to the rescue!

Last night we had a delicious Meatless Monday dinner! I was unprepared (as per usual) so I had to rely on the pitiful contents of the pantry and refrigerator. Luckily I had one last leftover from the weekend - about two cups of homemade olive tapanade. I boiled some pasta (angel hair and regular spaghetti) and tossed it with the tapanade, along with some of the reserved pasta water. Topped with fresh shaved Parmesan, it was a real treat!

To go along with the pasta, I cooked up some carrots with a bit of butter and sugar for some caramelized goodness.  The kiddos got plain pasta with Parmesan, which they gobbled up along with the carrots. I never know what they'll eat - they've turned up their noses at this exact type of carrots before, but this time they would have gladly eaten more - to bad for them I didn't make very many anticipating that they wouldn't eat them!

Muffin Tin Monday

We had a super Father's Day this past weekend, filled with lots of great food - a cookout Saturday night and a beach picnic on Sunday (never mind that it was in the mid 50's and threatening rain all day - hello summer!). Thus, there was only one thing to do come lunch on Monday - leftovers! Allow me to present our muffin tin meal from yesterday:
Clockwise from top right: cheddar cheese, pasta salad, grilled bratwurst, baked beans, Oreos, strawberry cereal bar.

As always, some things were more popular than others, depending on the kiddo! Little Buddy ate up all the bratwurst, cheese, and cereal bar, the Oreo filling, and maybe a bite of beans. Gabi ate all the bratwurst (my kids are such carnivores!), beans, salad, and Oreos. 

I'm finding that six choices seems to be a bit much for them - I'll need to get more creative about letting dips, etc. take up one of the muffin tins. We're all enjoying this though, so I'll keep going with Muffin Tin Monday!

Of course, thanks as always to Muffin Tin Mom for providing me with this creative spark and the place to share it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rotten Egg

My daughter loves the expression "last one there's a rotten egg". Unfortunately, she doesn't quite get the meaning, or rather that one might not want to be a rotten egg. For a long time she's said, "first one there's a rotten egg" and then raced to wherever "there" was. I kept telling her she wouldn't want to be first in that case, but all that did was get her to change her phrasing. Now she says "last one there's a rotten egg" and proceeds as slowly as she can to ensure she's the last one. So now, she's happy to be a rotten egg, and she's moving even more slowly. Not working out so well!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gardening Check-in

Last weekend was beautiful out, so I was motivated to get out and work in the garden. Its been off to a slow start this year. The plants I've sown from seeds are just barely getting going, so I also opted to add some vegetable starts to have better results. I bought three tomato plants (Tom Thumb, Patio, and Early Girl), and some basil as companion plantings. Those went into tubs next to the patio (against the sunny south wall of the house).
Early Girl tomato plant with Purple Opal Basil

Patio tomato with basil
 I also potted up two pepper plants - Italian Roaster and Early Jalapeno. Those are in the same spot against the house - hopefully there will be just enough heat there to get something ripened. In the raised bed at the back of the yard (home of the carrots, turnips, strawberries, and Mr. Mystery) I added two cucumber plants.

I added some annual color to the patio as well - I potted five hanging baskets of petunias, fuchsias, and begonias, and added a few other spots of color to perennial planters with begonias and petunias.

Apparently I was feeling extra motivated at that point, so I dragged my old sewing table outside where its become a side table, and set up a little display with a sweet lavender plant my aunt gave Gabi and the sand dollars we found at the coast a few weeks ago. Initially I thought I might paint the table a bright color, but I'm liking the wood tone against the blue of the house so I might just wax and seal it instead of painting. I'm not sure which would be more time consuming - probably the one that will make it look better!

Finally, my husband's cousin was coming over for lunch, so I managed to throw a tablecloth on the patio table and even got a few blooms into a vase before he arrived. We ate outside all weekend, everything we ate came off the grill, and of course now its back to the usual June gloom and we're all in sweaters again. Will it ever be summer?

Losing It

I've always been chubby - even at my lightest adult weight (let's say at 18?) I had that well-fed look. Fast forward 18 years and two kids, and I was really heavy - if I wasn't technically obese, I was knocking at the door. I never lost the last 10 pounds of pregnancy weight after Gabi stopped nursing, and little Buddy left me with another 6 pounds as a parting gift (so sweet, my little guy!).

One day last fall I just reached my breaking point. Like I never had before, I just felt FAT. My face felt fat, my arms felt fat, my things felt fat, and lets not even mention my stomach/hips/ass. I got completely fed up with myself, and came up with a plan to lose some of my excess baggage. Here is the plan I came up with - it falls into three main areas: Mental/Emotional Health, Food/Diet, and Exercise/Activity.

Mental / Emotional Changes
  1. You've got to really want it - enough to make some sacrifices. If you don't want to lose weight more than you want dessert, its not gonna work. Come back next year. Except . . .
  2. You've got to love and forgive yourself. If you do eat the dessert enjoy the hell out of it and move on. Tomorrow is another day.
  3. You've got all the time in the world to do this. As long as the numbers trend down, you're golden. .2 pounds per week? That's 10 pounds in a year. Wouldn't you rather weigh 10 pounds less at this time next year? Unless you were prepping for a movie role, it took a long time to gain this weight, and its okay if it takes a long time to lose it.
  4. Use whatever mental tricks you need to. Every month during my period I gain 2-3 pounds of water weight, and every month it freaks me out. I do better for the next few days and once the water's gone I've usually gone down those 2-3 pounds, plus one extra. Is it a mindf*ck every time? Yes it is. Is that okay? Yes it is.
Food / Diet
I don't like to watch what I eat, so I had to find other ways to cut calories from my diet. Here's what I came up with.
  1. You don't need to finish the kiddo's meals. Its not wasteful to throw away that 1/2 sandwich. This is super hard for me, always, always, always. I almost have to throw leftovers straight into the trash or I'll eat them up. Also after dinner - if foods out on the stove, its liable to end up in my belly unless it goes straight into the fridge.
  2. No alcohol. I gave myself "special occasion" permission, and a lenient definition of special occasion, but the nightly wine with dinner or after work beer with the hubby are out of the question right now.
  3. No sweets. Again, special occasions excepted. See "forgive yourself".
  4. Drink green tea. I read about a study that showed people who drank green tea lost about one extra pound a month compared to the non green tea drinkers. I try for three cups a day.
  5. Drink more water. Obvs.
Exercise / Physical Activity

  1. Try to get some every day. I don't like to say exercise because it doesn't have to be that structured. Yard work, playground play, dancing wildly with the kiddos all count. I do more classic "exercise" type things now that my weight loss progress has slowed somewhat, and summer's here.
So now for the big reveal. Since October 2010 I've lost 24 pounds and 3 dress sizes (at least - haven't shopped for clothes in quite awhile). I've still got more to go, and I'd like to tone up more, but that feels pretty freakin' impressive to me!

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    A big win on Meatless Monday

    Wow! Last night I made a mushroom spinach lasagna that was out of this world! Of course Gabi turned up her nose at it, but Papi and little Buddy ate it right up and asked for more. I was pleasantly surprised at the way it turned out; I had a vague idea of what I wanted, but once I started cooking and throwing things together that strange alchemy occurred that transforms a mess into magic.

    Follow me below the fold for the recipe . . .

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Mi travieso terrible - My mischiveous toddler

    English needs a word like the Spanish travieso. Travieso means mischievous, but in Spanish it's used as a noun as well and sometimes it just WORKS that way. I never considered the word travieso much before, but now I am . . .

    Suddenly, my 20-month old is completely mischievous. Almost every day he does something that leaves us just shaking our heads. This weekend he had a couple of real doozies - ones that left us wondering how he'll be when he's 4, or 14.

    Saturday was spring cleaning day, and I spent 4 hours shampooing the carpets. Sunday we were all in the yard - kiddos playing and Papi and I working. The kids were in and out of the house like usual, when Gabi came to let me know that little Buddy had dumped a shovelful of potting soil onto the freshly laundered, beige carpet! Now I'm far, far from a neat freak, and if he had done the same thing Friday I would have just shrugged oh well and cleaned it up. Sunday afternoon, however, it hurt my soul to see that black pile of dirt in the middle of the room. All that work! Why couldn't it have been in the playroom! Or at least the corner! I haven't had the heart to haul out the steam cleaner again - maybe next weekend.

    Now that's the kind of mischievous thing that any little kid might do, but Sunday night his more devious side came out. We were finishing dinner (nothing weird - spaghetti with meat sauce); both kiddos had refused to eat it at first, but finally Gabi had gotten up the courage and eaten about half of what was on her plate. Papi and I were making a fuss over her, that she had eaten a good dinner and could have a treat. I looked over to little Buddy and he was grabbing fistfuls of his dinner and shoving it under his place mat. I held back my laughter as much as I could and asked him "are you doing that so I think you ate a good dinner too?" He of course said "yes". Sooo tricky! Funny as hell, of course, but super devious too. Luckily he's still too little to lie to us!

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011


    Saturday mornings are hard around here right now. Almost since Gabi was first born, Papi and I have had an agreement: He sleeps in Saturday mornings, and I sleep in Sunday mornings. That worked out fine for quite awhile, but over the past few months its working out less well for me. There's something about a Saturday morning that makes it different from the weekdays, even when it shouldn't be. The kids just seem to do their best to aggravate me, purposefully.

    I don't know if its that the kids know Papi is in bed and it makes them act up more since he won't be involved in the discipline, or if its towards the end of a busy week and they're just more wound up in general, or if I'm annoyed that he's in the bedroom sleeping so soundly while I'm dealing with them. Whatever it is, its three hours of yuck every week.

    Then Sunday rolls around and its my day to lay in bed, blissfully alone. You think that works out for me? Yeah, not so much. Gabi knows that if she sneaks into the room through the bathroom (it has two doors) that Papi won't be able to tell she's inside - laying in bed next to me whispering insistently "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy get up. Get up Mommy" and repeat x 50. Then I convince her to leave, which she does for just enough time for me to fall back asleep before she's back again. If I call Papi into the room it turns into a crying fit and then I might as well just get up already.

    This Sunday was the same as usual, except instead of just getting up to hang out around the house, I got up and went for a run. Gabi was hysterical on my way out the door, but by the time I got home 50 minutes later all was well. I felt great, refreshed by the exercise and alone time, and the kids were perfectly happy playing with dad. This might have to be my new "sleeping in" on Sundays. It doesn't mean I sure won't miss the bed though!

    Monday, May 30, 2011

    Muffin Tin Monday, Take 2

    This is our muffin tin meal from last Monday - we're having a Memorial Day BBQ today with the family that will decidedly NOT be served in muffin tins, so here's what was on the menu last week:
    Clockwise from top center: Chicken nuggets, ketchup for dipping, Popchips (air popped potato chips), apple sauce, wafer cookies, and green peas.
     This one went over better, although again the kiddos didn't really like the wafer cookies, and they didn't like the popchips. I don't get that one - those chips are filled with potato salty goodness - but to each his own. At least they left the least healthy options on the tray. They are still loving the concept though; they were so excited for lunch! I think it might be a way to get them into eating new things; if I can harness that excitement into giving something new a try then lunch served in muffin tins is totally worth it.

    My daughter Gabi used to be an adventurous eater; she'd at least try anything we put in front of her. As she's gotten a bit older she's gotten a LOT more picky; now she will more likely than not refuse to try anything new. Unfortunately that attitude is rubbing off on her little brother Buddy, especially since she tends to make a big show of turning down food. Just imagine "its sooo yucky", "bleagh", "NO WAY". After that display, I figure we've only got a 40/60 chance of him even trying the offending food, let alone liking it. The only thing we've got going for us right now is his huge appetite; sometimes he's just hungry enough to ignore big sis!

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    The Wilder Life

    I just finished reading The Wilder Life, by Wendy McClure and I really enjoyed it. I picked it up without knowing all that much about it (the author re-read the Little House on the Prairie series as an adult and it set her off onto a kind of Little House pilgrimage) and it was quite a rewarding read. She weaves Laura Ingalls Wilder's history (and Laura's daughter Rose's) into her own story, first of a child reading the books, and then as an adult re-visiting them. Along the way, she comes across some deep insights about Laura, and about the specific culture of Little House fans (and the sometimes surprising divisions between partisans of the book and TV series.).

    I was a Little House book fan growing up. I had all of the books, and they were well loved. I read voraciously as a child, all the time, up late at night, at the dinner table, at any break in class. The Little House books were my comfort food, the stories I turned to time and time again when I was between new books, or just needing to visit with an old friend. Of course, I haven't read any of the books in at least 20 years, and somehow I don't even have any of them tucked away in my little stash of childhood books. Even so, as I read The Wilder Life I found myself recalling everything about the series; anytime Wendy mentioned an illustration I could see it perfectly, and all of the little details seemed completely familiar. The feelings she described as a child, I had. I wanted to be Laura, to live that pioneer life out on the prairie, to live in that 'simpler' time. On childhood camping trips I would pretend we were setting up camp after a long, dusty day on the trail - I even have vague memories of pretending our old Volkswagen station wagon (and later, the upgrade to a Volvo sedan) were covered wagons. I'm sure I patted the hood a time or two, for a job well done pulling the wagon that day.

    Even as I read and reminisced, however, I felt like something was missing. Near the end of the book, I realized what it was. A big part of my fondness for the series was for the book Farmer Boy, about the childhood of Laura's future husband Almanzo. When Wendy begins to talk about it, and decides to visit the family farm in New York, its as an afterthought; she wants to follow her journey all the way to its end. She comes to the conclusion that the book didn't leave much of an impression on her as a child because the life it depicted was too perfect; everything goes right for the Wilder family, its all good times and plenty. Reading that, I realized that that was exactly why I had liked it (and re-read it) so much. My childhood was not filled with good times and plenty; things went wrong a lot, and we didn't always have a lot of food, and we weren't as poor as we could have been, but we sure weren't well off. I identified with Laura, but sometimes it seemed a little too close to home, while reading about Almanzo's life was comforting. Here was a family where a child could feel safe and secure. That's getting a little heavy, but I appreciate that The Wilder Life took me to a place I didn't expect to go.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Summer's almost here - time for a to-do list!

    Summertime is approaching (more slowly in this part of the world, but oh well) and its the time of year when I get motivated to fix up the house and get projects done. We have a few big parties every summer, so that's usually the impetus to get moving. Here's what I'd like to get done this summer:

    • Finish the kitchen remodel! This means sand and paint the cabinets and doors, install new hardware, and paint the windowsill and sink back splash. This project has been underway for over two years, and its about damn time it got finished. It still seems kind of impossible to finish though - I mean, just the thought of debating cabinet hinges with my husband exhausts me.

    • Add an exterior outlet to the front porch area that's tied in to the porch light, and then string decorative lights along the porch ceiling. Theoretically this could be a snap - shut off the power, splice in a wire and attach an outdoor outlet, but of course there is the whole choosing the lights thing. . .and the whole getting a free moment thing. I guess that might be a hamper on every bullet point on this list.

    • Build the chicken coop, so its ready for occupancy next spring. This is something we can work on little by little. The first step is just to clear the wood out of the woodshed (yes, we have an actual woodshed that will become the coop), and then we can move forward with the floor, walls and sleeping area. I also want to use as much salvage material as possible, so getting an early start on this project will help with that.

    • Paint the porch chair, the picnic table and chairs, and the patio side table. This will be a 1-day project. We just need to agree on colors, buy the paint, and get it done. It would be nice to knock this one off first so that we could start the summer with a spiffed up patio.

    • Plant, tend, and harvest vegetables from the garden. So I'm already underway on this one, but every year I start strong and then taper off as the summer goes on. This is more of a midsummer task when I start to lose interest in watering and weeding.

    • Go to a U-Pick strawberry patch, pick a bunch, and put up strawberry preserves. What a fun adventure to do with the kids - they'll love to go into a field of strawberries and help fill a basket. The canning could be fun too, as long as I don't go overboard. The last time I canned strawberry preserves was probably 7 years ago, and I had so many berries I was canning for 12 hours. Hence no more canning for 7 years! I think I've blocked the worst part out now, so I'm ready to try again.

    • Have a garage sale and get rid of some of the baby things we don't need anymore. I'm sure craigslist is more efficient, and I can probably make more money that way, but I do love having garage sales. My husband, on the other hand, really does not, so we'll see if this one happens.

    That's about enough of a list - its pretty comprehensive - I'll try to check off items as they get completed this summer, and we'll see where I end up at the end of September (summer starts in July here, and lasts through September). Wish me luck!

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    This Week in the Garden

    I thought I'd put up a few pictures of the little garden babies - and in doing so I think I've identified the Mr. Mystery seedlings! But first, here's a look at the turnip seedlings:
    After I took this shot I took advantage of the nice weather and thinned the seedlings out so they had more breathing room - I'll have to thin them again later but next time I should be able to get a few turnip greens to eat - this time they were just too tiny to bother with.

    So here is a picture of Mr. Mystery:

    Mr. Mystery

    I think THIS mystery is solved! Looking at the sprout towards the rear, it looks to me like these little guys are cilantro seedlings. Gabi must have dumped the extra cilantro seeds into this raised bed after we sowed some in the greens bowl on the patio. So case closed! Or is it . . . ?

    As I was photographing this bed, I noticed yet another mystery seedling:

    SeƱor Misterio
    So here we go again - that big guy in the middle of the picture is another mystery plant. It LOOKS like it's some kind of squash sprout, like maybe a zucchini? I guess I'll have to wait and see, at least until it gets a few more leaves. I have absolutely no idea where ONE squash seed would come from though. I didn't even have any in this bed last year.

    Finally, here's a photo of something that's making me very happy:
    Baby Strawberries!
    I can't wait until the first ones are ripe! Last year the squirrels got too many of the strawberries - this time I'll have to come up with some defense, because I don't want that happening again. Our lab might have to start sleeping outside!

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Muffin Tin Monday - Take 1!

    So yesterday we tried out the Muffin Tin Monday concept here at la Casa Chica. I first heard of the idea when I stumbled across the Muffin Tin Mom blog recently - Gabi happened by as I was checking it out and immediately wanted to try it, et voila!

    It was a huge hit with Gabi; she loved it all, the muffin tin, the food in it, the fact that it had a cute name. Poor little Buddy was down with the idea at first, but he's fighting a stomach bug so he wasn't soo into the eating part. Here's what lunch looked like:

    Clockwise from the top left we had turkey meatballs, plain fiore pasta, banana slices, little wafer cookies, dried fruit mix, and plantain chips. Its a little bland, but that was intentional (see stomach bug, above).
    I'm sure we'll be revisiting this again next week . . . I'm not sure I'm up for two theme meals a day (muffin tins and meatless Mondays) but who knows? Maybe I should search the web to see what other themes are out there for other days of the week - somebody's gotta be doing Fishy Fridays, right?

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Growing things

    It's time for another go-round with the garden . . . about 6 years ago I had the best vegetable growing experience ever (for me) but since then we moved to a new house with not the best micro-climate, and its been all downhill since then. Each spring I set out to have a great edible garden, and by midsummer its a mostly neglected, struggling little patch of meh. I do fine with ornamentals, perennial veggies, and even potted tomatoes on the patio but those annual veggies stump me every time. I can't even get a decent zucchini crop out of my yard!

    Well, this year will be different! (yeah, let's see). So far I've gotten into the ground:
    • sugar snap peas
    • radishes
    • carrots
    • something else that for the life of me I can't remember now (seriously!)
    • Mixed greens
    • cilantro
    Everything is sprouting (even Mr. Mystery) so here's hoping! Now if we could only get above 60 degrees. . .

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Oops, off to a rocky start. . .

    I wanted to get off to a good start here, but just after the last post an old friend of mine from college passed away, and it knocked me off my feet for a bit - more than I would have anticipated. He died suddenly, of a heart attack, and it pushed a sort of reset button in me; the 'oh yes, you really MUST cherish those dear to you' button. Its something that slips away sometimes in the day to day. The good that came out of his passing, however, was that I reconnected with one of my dearest friends with whom I'd fallen out of contact. Dave would be happy about that, I'm sure.

    Otherwise I have a million projects floating around in my head, both major and minor. Hopefully I'll figure out a way to get some of them going (or finish the other million floating around the house, uncompleted).

    Monday, April 18, 2011


    Mondays are busy days around here - there's preschool in the morning and ballet in the afternoon, plus the usual re-adjustment to the work week - they always seem to be a bit bumpy. I had grand plans this morning that were out the window by noon, but I did manage to get a few things accomplished.

    I've been trying to stick to the theme of "Meatless Mondays" for our Monday dinners, and I did have success with that tonight - we had stuffed red peppers which were quite tasty. I mixed cooked white rice with feta cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, red pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, stuffed the peppers, and baked them in the oven. Gabi helped me a lot, which was nice, although I don't think she ended up even tasting any once they were done. She did eat all her fries though, plus mine, so there's that (I guess that worked out for both of us!)

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    So here we are . . .

    Sustainability. Health. Purpose. Connection. These are things I've been pondering lately. How to live a purposeful life that nurtures my children, my husband and myself. How to do it in a way that is sustainable, not only in the macro (world) sense but also in the micro sense of our daily life. How to instill healthy habits now that will continue into the future. How to foster the basic sense of connection between ourselves and the world and people around us. I think that if we work on it a bit each day, we'll end up building something important in the end.

    I feel like my little family is on the cusp of big changes, and I'd like to document them - have a place to put things down, or throw up on the wall to see what sticks. Keep track of what works for us, and what doesn't. If, along the way, I can connect a bit more with other people engaged in the same type of journey . . . well, that will be a welcome bonus!