Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Big guy

Have you ever thought about when someone grows?  Do we get taller when we sleep?  Do we grow by millimeters as we nourish our bodies?  And why is that we tend to notice it after the fact, like when someone has grown nearly a foot?  I guess we don't notice it when we're around the person day in and day out, but step away for any length of time and it becomes quite obvious.

What/who has gotten me thinking about this?  This little (big) guy:

I swear I feel like he's grown a foot, grown into his protruding belly, and gotten sweeter (and calmer) in the matter of 1 day.  How is it possible that all that can happen so quickly?  I should be used to how quickly things happen by now, seeing as how I have a 14-month-old that was just born yesterday.

Since he's wearing his soccer gear, I feel compelled to at least mention his progress, or lack thereof.  He still runs with the pack but he did make strides the second game and actually kicked the ball once or twice.  I think the time of his game has a lot to do with his performance.  He's too tired to give much effort in the games later in the afternoon.  He gave his best performance in the game that was played early in the morning.  Too bad we don't have many of those.

Wes practiced with him this weekend and Colin looked like he had been playing for years.  He took the ball from Wes, kicked with authority, and dribbled like a pro.  I asked him why he didn't do that in the game but I got no response.  I suggested that maybe it was because the kids weren't Daddy but he still didn't respond.

As with everything in his life, Colin does things on his own time.  I think he has inherited his mother's perfectionism and wants to wait to do something until he can do it perfectly.  Let's just hope he perfects it before the season is over!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Where'd my baby go?

I didn't lose him.  Well not exactly.  But I did blink and I feel like my baby jumped head first into toddler-land.

Preparing for a good read.

Oh, this is a good one.

I'm on the edge of my seat it's so good.

The end.

Weekly Menu Plan

For added inspiration to eat healthy and plan ahead, I thought I'd link up with Keeper of the Home and post my weekly menu as part of "Plan It - Don't Panic."  Stephanie is hosting a 6-week menu planning party to encourage everyone to plan their meals ahead of time and avoid unhealthy meals and hurried dinners.  Being a planner, I think this is great and look forward to seeing what everyone else has planned.  Even if you don't link up your menu, it's a great resource to find inspiration and a ton of recipes! 

Without further ado, here's my weekly menu:

Monday:  Turkey, Artichoke, & Swiss Paninis with Wedge Salads (bacon, tomatoes, ranch)

Tuesday:  Dinner at Mom's (breakfast)

Wednesday:  Beef and Pork Keema with Naan Bread

Thursday:  Creamy Chicken Taquios, Corn & Black Bean Salad(this is one of our favorites), chips and salsa

Friday & Saturday:  Kitchen closed!

Sunday:  Tasty Pork Tenderloin, Creamy Light Mac'n'cheese, chard/kale

The Secret Recipe Club

In the days of the Babysitter's Club books and clubhouses, I always wanted to form a secret club, girls only no less, or be invited to be in a similar club.  The furthest I got was the foot of my bed with my trusty Cabbage Patch dolls.  They all eagerly accepted their invitation and none of them gave me any "yeah right" stares.  Those were good friends to have - no backtalk, no tattle-telling, no bossing, just obedient friends.

I've never really lost that desire to be a part of a secret club.  I'd even be satisfied with a secret bookshelf in my house that gave way to a secret entrance into a secret room.  Can you tell I'm all about secrets?  I love to surprise the ones I love with secret destinations and gifts and I like to be on the receiving end too.  Maybe I'm just a secretive person.

When I first read about The Secret Recipe Club on Peggy's blog, I was very intrigued.  At first I kicked myself for not thinking of it myself and then I wondered if I could be a part.  Finally a club I could be in?  Say it's not so!  It was so and thanks to Amanda, I am a newly inducted member!

Each month we are secretly assigned a fellow blogger and we must find a recipe on their blog that we'd like to try.  We make the recipe and report back on our reveal day.  Sounds fun, doesn't it!

For my introductory month, I was assigned Pass the Sushi.  Admittedly I was nervous.  I didn't know the first thing about making sushi!  I didn't have any of the necessary equipment and I don't like raw fish.  I clicked on over and was relieved to find not a nary sushi recipe in site.  What I did find was a whole host of recipes I wanted to try.  Not surprising, I was indecisive and couldn't choose just one recipe.  Thankfully there is a time limit put on us or I just might have tried to make every recipe that sounded good.  Peanut butter banana cookies anyone?  Yes, please.  Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies, deep dish style?  Yet in the end, it was the non-dessert option that won me over; Thai Turkey Burgers with Broccoli Slaw it was!

These burgers came together pretty quickly and effortlessly.  I did alter the ingredient a bit because I was too lazy to shred a carrot and garlic powder seemed much easier than getting fresh garlic out of the fridge.  Hey don't hate me, I try to cook a gourmet meal in 30 minutes, so I'm not afforded such luxuries sometimes.  I also omitted the egg in the mix because eggs are a hot commodity in our house and I knew they'd be ok without it. I loved the slaw on the burger but I did modify it slightly so I could use up 1 of the 2 heads of cabbage I already had.

Overall, these burgers were a hit.  I'd add a bit more seasoning next time because ground turkey needs a lot of help.  The slaw added an extra dimension of flavor and a nice little crunch.  I liked the concept of incorporating Thai flavors into a burger and I'm anxious to play with the concept a bit more another time.  Thanks, Kita, for a great recipe.

Thai Turkey Burgers with Broccoli Slaw
adapted from Pass the Sushi

  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp chili paste
  • 2 T. cilantro, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat your grill pan to medium-high heat.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Form ground turkey mixture into patties.
Grill for about 4 minutes on each side. 
Serve with broccoli slaw as a side or on top with toasted buns.

Broccoli Slaw
  • 5-6 cups chopped Napa cabbage (cut as fine as you can)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • juice of 1 lime
  • bunch of cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chili paste
  • 1 teas of sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 20 minutes, or overnight, so that the flavors meld before serving.

Of course I couldn't stop there.  I had so much fun making these, I decided to whip up the Skillet Baked Chocolate Chip Cookie too!  What can I say about chocolate chip cookies that hasn't already been said?  Me like cookies!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Healthy Eating: Kids in the Kitchen; Building a Foundation

I've gone back and forth with the direction I wanted to take this post.  I have so many ideas running through my mind but none of them seemed worthy enough for an entire post, so I've decided to separate my ideas into 2 posts; Building a Foundation and Get Cookin'. 

I also want to preface this post by saying that these are my opinions and examples of what has worked for me.  I'm not here to judge your parenting styles and don't mean to step on any toes, should I differ in the way I approach my children's eating habits.

Eating healthy has been important to me for a while but I think it was magnified once I brought another life into the world.  As a parent, I want to do everything in my power to make sure I provide a solid foundation for my children.  Not only am I trying to be a good role model for his character building skills, I'm also trying to teach him healthy eating habits that will carry him the rest of his life.

There are some things mothers do without really thinking about why or how.  Breastfeeding was one of those things.  I never really gave a second thought about not doing it.  As Colin's d-date drew closer, I began to hear tales of inability to produce enough milk, milk not coming in, nursing making you crazy, and several other discouraging stories.  I am the type of person who likes to prove people wrong.  Just tell me I can't do something and then watch what happens.  Thankfully, I was able to nurse both of my boys for over a year.  Yes the bonding was wonderful but knowing what I was putting in my child's body was even more rewarding to me.

I've heard of recent studies that indicate mothers who eat a variety of foods while nursing have children who are more willing to try new foods.  That certainly makes sense that if the child was exposed to a variety of flavors in the milk that they would perhaps recognize and be familiar with them when they're presented later.

While it does make sense, I'm by no means a doctor or research analyst.  It seems to be true in my case but I know others who have not found it to be true.  But there are more variables here than just milk consumption.  What about the way the foods are introduced?  How often, how much?  These, along with several other factors, also play a part in steering clear of the dreaded "picky eater."  This is a good chance for me to remind you that I was a very picky eater so I do know a little about this behavior first hand.

Whether your child was breastfed or bottle fed, that is neither here nor there.  What is important now is making sure they are properly nourished and are being exposed to a variety of foods.  Let's start from the beginning (a very good place to start).  The first step before we even delve into the list is for you to make the decision you want this to work and commit to making it happen.  Once you have a positive attitude and that determination, you'll be off on the right foot.

Here are a few steps that should help if you start from the get-go.

1)  Expose your child to a variety of baby food.  Whether you make your own (very easy by the way) or buy it, there are many varieties available.  Try them all!  Just because you don't like sweet potatoes doesn't mean your child won't.

2)  Try flavors more than once!  It's easy to call it quits after one time of being sprayed with peas but everyone has an off day and babies are constantly developing new taste buds.  Wait a few days and try it again.  Maybe their stomach hurt the first time you gave it to them, or maybe they weren't hungry.  There are too many factors to rule out a food after just one taste.

3)  Once you move on to finger foods (solids), give them samples off of your plate.  Kids want to eat what you're eating.  This will force you to eat better as well.  If you're having grilled chicken, peas, and carrots, give them small bites of each.  Chances are the first time they'll spit it out because of the texture and it being something new.  If they don't like it, go back to baby food and try again tomorrow.  Another option is to give them a bite of baby food, followed by a finger food.  I've also put the solid food on top of the baby food and fed it to them that way.  Colin preferred to pick the items up himself and try them for the first time, while Sawyer fared better if I was the one putting them in his mouth.  The point is, just keep trying.

4)  Don't give up and resort to bread or sweets!  Once they get the taste of delicious carbs and/or sweets, it's over.  My best advice is to put off introducing sugar as long as you can.  Let fruit be their dessert.  They'll think it's great and will never know the difference.

5)  Eat as a family.  This is important on so many levels but in this instance, it puts you all on level playing ground.  They'll learn dinnertime is not a time for playing around, it's a time to eat what's put in front of you and enjoy time with the family.  Even if it's not feasible for you to do this every night, the more the better!

6)  Prepare meals that everyone can enjoy!  This, in my opinion, is key to getting your kids to eat a variety of foods.  This is where your meal planning really comes into play.  It's a great time to try new vegetables (maybe even for you) and talk about them.  We always tell Colin that he has to try at least one bite and if he doesn't like it that's fine but you don't know until you try it.  He has repeated that sentence so many times and most of the time he's found out he actually likes it.  By providing a nutritious meal for your child, you are benefiting yourself as well.

7)   Don't make them a special meal or they will grow to expect it.  Once you start, it's hard to turn things around.  I have a friend who can attest to this firsthand.  Your kids won't starve.  When they get hungry enough, they will eat what's in front of them.  I would encourage you to try to have at least one item that they like or sort of like so they don't feel like you're plotting against them.  If you are trying to get back on track, start gradual.  Start by introducing one new thing and make them eat a bite of that before they get the item that you know they already like.  The next week, make it 2 things they have to try, and so on.

8)  It's okay if you don't like something but don't assume your children have the same taste buds.  I think this is what affected me most as a child.  My dad was a picky eater and we didn't have a huge variety because of it.  My mom did the best she could but after a while I was tired of green beans and corn.  Variety is the spice of life!  It's okay for your children to see you try something for the first time.  It's also okay for them to see that you don't like it.  But if you want them to keep trying new things, it's only fair that they see you keep trying.  Our adult taste buds change too, so don't assume that if you didn't like something 5 years ago that you won't like it now.  Try it, you might be surprised!

9)  Don't assume your kids won't eat it.  I try very hard to never say, "Oh he won't eat that" or "He doesn't like that."  You are putting words in his/her mouth that aren't necessarily true.  This goes back to the fact that kids' taste buds are constantly changing; just because they didn't like something last week doesn't mean they won't love it today.

I realize some of these ideas may not be feasible for everyone.  I've tried to provide several different ideas in hopes that you could find one or two that would help you in your situation.  I hope I've helped some and I'd be more than happy to offer further suggestions, should anyone need them.  Just keep your eye on the prize and keep telling yourself, "My child will eat healthy!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Through his eyes - Take 2

In case you didn't get enough of our budding photographer, he was back at it the next night.  For your viewing entertainment, Wes and I were his subjects.  Again, we're still working on holding the camera still.  As a person who is very critical of herself in pictures, I actually prefer the blur.  

Strike a pose.
 There's nothing to it, vogue!

Oh, what happened?  Let's try again.

By this point I started to get a little loopy.  There are only so many pictures you can have taken before you feel like you are a subject of the papparazi.

Finally, we were asked to bow.  I guess that means our photo shoot had come to a close.

In the meantime, see the car seat in the lower left?  During all of our antics, Sawyer had managed to drag that halfway across the house and was pleased as punch with himself.  He was none the wiser that we were in the midst of a Glamour Shots shoot. 
A great "before" shot of our pre-haircut.  We are both in desperate need.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weekly Recipe: St. Louis Ooey Gooey Berry Butter Cake

I fondly remember the first time I came across the recipe for Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.  I think I made it no less than 5 times in the first couple of months after discovering it.  Any time I had to take a dessert somewhere and I wanted to ensure rave reviews, I'd take that cake.  Then I stopped using box mixes and the days of the OGMC also came to an end.

Thanks to the internet (internets if you prefer), someone solved the world's problems (or at least mine) and came up with a non-cake mix version of the recipe.  Glory day!  It's only taken me a couple of years to finally get around to trying this version but it was worth the wait.  It's not quite as decadent as the original (far less butter) but it's every bit as creamy and cakey and delicious.

I had some raspberries from our CSA that were a bit too sour to eat on their own, so I was looking for a way to use them up.  I came across this recipe in my Word file and I thought it sounded perfect.  I altered the berry combination to include raspberries instead of blackberries and didn't use quite as many as the original recipe called for.  

This cake is best served at room temperature and best if eaten within the first 2 days of making.  After those first 2 days, the cake absorbs some of the ooey and becomes much less gooey.  It's still totally edible and don't think I didn't eat it.  

There's another version of this recipe without the berries and I'd like to try that sometime too.  Until then, enjoy the last of the season's berries and whip up this cake tonight!

St Louis Ooey Gooey Butter Cake
adapted from The Review Lady who got it from a Cooking Light message board

5 tablespoons melted butter (no substitutes)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted after measuring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries

Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan with removable rim (I used a springform cheesecake pan). In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and 1 egg until pale and thickened. Beat in sour cream. Combine flour, baking powder and soda in a separate bowl and then beat the flour mixture into butter mixture until smooth. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until cake is pale golden and springs back slightly when gently pressed, approximately 15 minutes. (The original recipe calls for 20 to 25 minutes, but due to dry cake reports and the fact that it will continue to cook in the next step, I took it out after 15 minutes.)

While the cake is in the oven, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining egg in a medium bowl until smooth. When the cake is removed from the oven, spread this mixture over the cake and arrange berries on top. Bake until edges of topping are set and lightly browned, but center still jiggles when pan is gently shaken, 25 to 30 minutes. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Through his eyes

What's that you ask?  Does this help?

You don't take pictures of your stairs?  

Would you if it was the first time you got your hands on a camera?  Well the following are some of the 100's of images Colin decided were picture-worthy.  Why didn't I think of this sooner?  My little point-and-shoot kept him occupied for an hour.  Even better, I've been able to use it as leverage to cease both bad behavior and to get him to finish his dinner!  He wore down the battery last night and asked no fewer than 23 times if the ready light had turned green.  That was the first thing he noticed tonight when he walked through the door.  It was definitely interesting to see the our house through his eyes.  Some pictures were recurring and some actually turned out well.  I'm still trying to get him to hold still until he hears the click but as you'll see, that's a work in progress.  Enjoy!

Who is this?

I don't know either.  I noticed the picture after it had the Disney ears in the corner and it dawned on me he had taken a picture of the tv.

Ooh, his water bottle.

Maybe you'd go outside to nature.  The closer the better!

Maybe your crying (teething) brother?

 What a mess!

No?  Let's try Mommy.

Better yet, have Mommy hold the bananas!  That's a great idea!

Can't forget Daddy!

And Daddy reading a book.  Must photograph every page of book.

The most photographed object?

A Rubbermaid storage container.  Clearly exciting.

And who's the mastermind behind these wonderful photography skills?

A self portrait.


I've gotten wrapped up in the "mixing old with new" design trend.  I used to think antiques were for old and rich people but now I'm finding myself intrigued by them.  I never thought I'd be saying those words!

A couple weekends ago, it was rainy, neither boy was interested in a taking a nap, and Wes and I had cabin fever.  We didn't have anywhere to go, so we loaded up the cars and I told Wes we'd just drive.  I sort of knew where I wanted to go but I wasn't sure the places would be open, so I just kept it to myself.

We ended up at a local antique/consignment shop.  It was filled to the brim with trinkets and treasures and I just prayed Colin didn't knock something over and break it.  Surprisingly, we all had so much fun looking at all the junk treasures. 

Wes wanted to buy this lit sign:

I wanted to buy these old school lockers for the boys' rooms (for a mere price of $165):
But all we made it home with was this:
Sawyer's scooter.  It's Playskool brand and the person who sold it to us said they guesstimate it to be from the '70's.  It was intended for Sawyer but I think Colin has gotten more enjoyment out of it.  I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact I had meant for it to be an outside toy, yet it has somehow made it's way inside the house. 

Now this has made me want to sprinkle some old throughout the rest of my house.  I see things I like, I just don't trust myself to commit to buying it.  I've definitely got the itch to do some redecorating or renovating (hello kitchen, I'm talk to you!).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Healthy Eating: Grocery Shopping 101

We've briefly discussed organic foods and meal planning and now we're moving on to the grocery, or groceries in my case.  Before I delve into that, I want to point you in the direction of a great article I recently read about organic milk.  Katie goes into a lot more depth than I did and I think you'll find her information very informative.

So now that you've got your menu planned, it's time to make your grocery list.  Since I'm generally on the computer searching and selecting recipes, I've found it's much easier to just type my menu and grocery list in Word (on the same page).  I actually save my menus/lists from week to week so I can refer back to them when making future food posts or to recall the names of certain recipes so I can go back and record any notes I might have for that recipe. 

I divide my list into 2 columns - one for Meijer and one for Whole Foods.  There are some items that are cheaper at Meijer and I find it worth my (Wes' since he's the grocery shopper) while to venture to 2 stores to get the best deals.  There are other items that Meijer either doesn't offer or doesn't offer as organic.  Those items fall on the Whole Foods list.  It's also nice to go to 2 stores in case one doesn't have an item, we can usually find it at our next stop.  I'm a big believer in limiting the number of trips to the grocery, so this helps cut down on that. 

So I've got my 2 columns started and then I begin reviewing the recipes to see what items I need.  I try to arrange the items on my list in the order they appear in the grocery.  This makes it much quicker to shop and I also feel like it's the least I can do for Wes since he's doing the shopping with at least 1 kid in tow!  By making the list in Word, it's easy enough to go back and add a line or move things around in order to keep it all neat and organized.  Wes being the efficient shopper he is marks the items off as he goes along, circling the items he was unable to locate.

The end result is a pantry and fridge stocked with just enough to get us by that week.  There's little to no waste and no impulse buying.  Sure we have the occasional deviations if something is on sale or something catches our eye, but for the most part we stick to the list.  Wes takes a lot of pride in his efficiency and loves to report how little we spent. 

I know some people cut coupons and I think that's great but most of the items I buy do not offer coupons.  You don't find too many coupons for fresh produce or meat.  I read once that you should concentrate the majority of your time and budget to the perimeter of the store.  Think about it, that's your produce, meats, and dairy - makes sense.

And just one last word on convenience foods, specifically pre-chopped fruits and veggies.  As easy and tempting as these products are, they are not equal to their whole counterparts.  Johnny Bowden, PhD, and author of "The Healthiest Meals on Earth" says, "When sliced and peeled, or shredded, then shipped to stores, their nutrients are significantly reduced."  So when possible, buy whole and prep right before you're ready to cook. At a minimum, be sure to use your fresh produce within a week of buying. 

To read more about the nutritional value of fruits and veggies, you can check out a story on MSNBC here.

Soccer Star

Last weekend was Colin's first soccer game.  He's not going to set any records for the youngest olympic great but he had fun.  He ran with the crowd of kids but I'm not sure his foot came in contact with the ball one time during the actual game.  He did a good job of following the ball, lining up, and not sucking his thumb but lacked the aggressiveness to go after the ball and kick it.  After the game he and I looked at these pictures I took during the game and I think he seemed to be interested in trying to improve.  I pointed out the importance of listening to the coach and doing what he instructed.

We yelled, he ignored us (and the ball).

But he does win the "Best Eater" award.  The coach warned us that snack time was the highlight of the game.  Truer for some than others.

There might be some hoarding tendencies going on there.  Either that or the other kids wanted nothing to do with the big bag of apple and orange slices.
We also discussed his strong points - throwing as hard as he can.  But then I had to point out that you should throw towards someone on your team, not directly at them, especially if they're not looking.
Then we discussed Daddy's role.  It involved lots of hand-holding.

And even an attempt to have someone sit in his lap.

All in all it was a good time.  Daddy made a new friend, Colin got to run off a lot of energy.  Too bad he was too wound up for a nap.  He crashed that night though.  Here's hoping this Saturday's early game will allow for enough winding down time to get that much needed nap in!