Sunday, February 27, 2011

Family Traditions

(I will admit, when thinking about writing this post, this song popped into my head. And there it sits. On repeat.)

Our little family of four does not have many family traditions. But we are a fairly new family, so I think there is plenty of time to change that. The few traditions we do have seem to center around food and eating together as a family. Nothing wrong with that in my mind! 

Eating as a family is extremely important to me and we try to do so most evenings. I love the time to slow down and connect with everyone. It's our surefire way of making family time a high priority during our busy daily life. By starting this tradition with our kids at a young age (when they don't have a choice, ha!), we are hopefully showing them the importance and value in sitting down and eating together. And if we happen to be eating something fabulous that's even better.

Here are a few of our family traditions.

We make Aebleskivers for breakfast on Christmas morning. Love it. 

Four years ago Chris and I started the tradition of having crab legs for dinner on New Year's Eve. Love this too. 

Last spring we instituted Homemade Pizza Night on Friday nights.We got off track for a while but seem to be getting back into the swing of things again. Really love this. Even though my pizza is now cheese-less.

And the latest and greatest tradition? Sunday night Roast Chicken. We've only done it once or twice, but it was such a warm and delicious ending to our weekend that I think we're going to start doing it more often. And it makes the whole house smell wonderful (if you like the smell of roasting chicken and veggies).

Now, before you start thinking "Wow, aren't you the little Susy Homemaker to whip up a roasted chicken every Sunday!" I promise you I'm not. Just ask Chris. :)  It's really easy. But doesn't it sound so impressive to say you're roasting a chicken for dinner? And it's sooo good! 

I found this recipe on Dinner: A Love Story and love it. It's a very basic recipe that you could spice up a little with different spices/herbs or veggies.  Tonight we are going to throw some beets into the mix. With a side of brussel sprouts. Because we're crazy like that. 

Perfect Roast Chicken
(Adapted from Dinner A Love Story)
6 potatoes (anything but baking potatoes), cut into chunks (I used baby red potatoes)
3 medium carrots, peeled, cut into chunks (All I had were baby carrots)
1 whole roasting chicken (organic if you can swing it) about 4 pounds (ours was around 3lbs)
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, pricked several times with a knife
1 small bunch fresh thyme (I also threw some Rosemary in)

Heat oven to 425°F. Arrange potatoes and carrots in a large oven-proof skillet (I used a glass baking dish) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Rinse chicken under cold water (inside and out) and pat dry.  Rub chicken skin with butter and season with salt and pepper.  Fill cavity with lemon and thyme (and rosemary).  Place chicken over roasting vegetables and continue roasting until chicken is a golden brown and juice run clear when thigh is pierced with a fork, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove chicken from the oven, carve and serve. Enjoy!

What are your family traditions? 

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Charlatan's Boy; A Review

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnoham Publishing Group and Blogging for Books, I was recently sent a copy of The Charlatan's Boy to review. This book has rave reviews in many literary circles, so I was excited to get a copy. I practically pounced on the UPS man when he dropped it off. I tore open the package and started reading right there in the entry way (What can I say, I am kind of a book nerd). 


The Charlatan's Boy is a story about Grady, an orphaned boy who is raised by a traveling huckster, Floyd. It is unclear as to what his relationship to Floyd is and Floyd is tight lipped about Grady's origins. They travel the country together performing various acts that  play off of Grady's ugliness. As they travel and work together, Grady starts to understand that Floyd is a showman through and through and blowing smoke every chance he gets. Even at Grady's expense. Usually at Grady's expense. Grady begins to question his origins even more and question his relationship with Floyd. He has a longing to belong somewhere to someone. By the end of the book they have reached an inevitable crossroads in their relationship.

I soooo wanted to like this story and love the characters, but I just couldn't. While it is well written, I had a constant feeling of being unsettled while reading it. I felt like I was missing something and not getting the whole story. The characters were well developed but I just couldn't connect with them. I also had a hard time with the setting.  I never got a good sense of where they were or where they were headed. In the end I couldn't put it down...I just wanted to get to the end and be done with it.

Sadly, I didn't enjoy The Charlatan's Boy. Maybe if I read it again at a later time I will enjoy it more. Maybe I truly did miss something. Or maybe I didn't buy into the smoke and mirrors like everyone else.

Have you read The Charlatan's Boy? What did you think? Am I missing something?

I was given this book free of charge from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing group for the purpose of reading and reviewing. I received no compensation and the opinions expressed here are my own.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A case of the Februarys.

(Warning: This post is heavy on whining. You've been warned.)

Ugh. I hate this time of year. I am so over winter. The snow is dirty, hard and icy. The days are cold, grey* and flat. blah. 

And then we are blessed with a week of warm temps, melting snow and glorious sunshine. For a few wonderful days I feel alive again. Refreshed. Inspired. I drive with the windows cracked and smile. Maybe the end of winter's not so bad after all. 

But it all comes crashing down a few days later when the wind blows so hard the roof of the dog house ends up half way down the yard. And I have to chase the (huge) recycling can down the skating rink we call the alley. And it's cold. And grey. And flat. And blah. Times infinity.

I have a serious case of the Mondays Februarys.  

This time of year has me dreaming of warm weather, sunny skies and flip flops. Impromptu pic-pics. Long walks that end with ice cones dripping down our hands. Sleeping with the windows open. Waking to the sound of birds outside our windows. Being able to leave the house without taking 15 minutes getting jackets, boots, hats and mittens on. 


Anyone else feel this way? Are we too young to become "snowbirds"? I am an excellent Shuffleboard player.

*Is it grey or gray? I prefer the look of grey so I always spell it with an "e". Take that America.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Break out the cake!

 Six months ago my day started like this:

Four and a half hours later it had progressed to this:

And this is where we're at today:

Crazy, I know. In a lot of ways it seems like Penny was just born (and it seems like just yesterday Olive was born!). But at the same time we can't really remember what life was like without her.

At 6 months she is:
  • 18lbs 4oz
  • 27 3/4" long
  • a master sitter
  • a drooling machine
  • learning to sleep unswaddled 
  • sleeping through the night (for the most part. see above.)
  • cooing, shrieking and starting to "talk"
  • an occasional roller
  • enamored with her sister
  • not so enamored with the dog
  • a Sophie addict
  • adorable

Happy 1/2 birthday Pen Pen! Now, please stop growing up so fast. Thank you.

Blast from the Past: Olive's birth story

(I started this blog after Olive was born and never got around to posting her birth story. Here it is in all it's glory. Enjoy!)

(Written 6/20/2008)

An entry from Olive herself....

Friday June 13th 2008, a day we will always remember! But let’s start this story two days before on Wednesday when Mom started having contractions....

Mom woke up Wednesday morning feeling sharp pains and a tightening feeling in her back...hmmm. She went to her weekly doctor’s appointment with Dr. Ulland and told him about it. He said that was  a good sign, but there was still no sign of progress. He also talked about something Mommy had been dreading.......inducing her to MAKE me come out. Since Mom had been diagnosed with Cholestasis of Pregnancy (unbearably itchy hands and feet due to high bile serum levels) a few weeks before, Dr. Ulland had decided that Mom needed to get baby out sooner rather than later. Since Mom obviously wanted to avoid being induced at all costs, Dr. Ulland ordered some more blood tests and said they would talk about it the following Monday after they got the results back.

That evening Mom and Dad went to Grandma Mary Jo and Grandpa Jeff’s house for dinner-spaghetti and meatballs, one of Mom’s favorites! Unfortunately she wasn’t able to eat much because the contractions had come back and were starting to become stronger and more painful-all in her back. So Mom and Dad headed home and Mom went to bed with a heating pad, tylenol, and her usual nightly dose of Pepcid AC. And as much as she knew she needed to rest, she couldn’t. Every 15-20 minutes a contraction would come and Mom couldn’t do anything to help relieve the pain. At 4:30am she finally figured out that being on the floor on her hands and knees seemed to help. And where was Dad during all of this? In the guest room where Mom sent him! She knew that her chances of sleeping were going to be slim so she sent him to the other room so at least HE could get some rest!

And it’s a good thing she did! Dad stayed home on Thursday and spent the day helping Mom get through the contractions that were getting longer, stronger and closer together- 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 8 minutes..... By Thursday night they were anywhere from 4-10 minutes apart lasting about 60 seconds long. It was a very long day and they knew that the night would be even longer.

That night was the longest night of Mommy and Daddy’s life. Mom’s contractions were getting unbearable, but they weren’t consist in how far apart they were. Finally at 2:30 Dad called the on call doctor (not Dr. Ulland) to see if we should head to labor and delivery......he never called back. So Dad then called labor and delivery and they said to hold off until they were consistently 4 minutes apart or less. Mom was in tears at this point (maybe Daddy was too?) because she was in so much pain and it was all in her back, which she didn’t really know how to handle. In frustration she said “Oh I just wish my water would break so we could go already!” Lo and behold, at 4:30am Mom got out of bed for a contraction and felt a gush of fluid. It happened again and again for a third time. So Mom got in the shower, Dad called labor and delivery and they were off!

At 5:30am Friday the 13th, Mom and Dad arrived at the hospital and were admitted. Apparently it was a popular day to have a baby because at first the nurse wasn’t sure there was a room available! (Not what Mommy wanted to hear as she was rocking on her hands and knees in the reception area....) But they found us a room and Mom was examined and found to be 4cm dialated and about 75% effaced. So they quickly gave Mom some pain medication that would take the edge off the contractions and help her get some rest-she hadn’t slept since Tuesday night! While it did help, it wasn’t enough to make the pain of the contractions go away, so Mom (with Dad’s help) was still trying to find ways to cope with the pain- now with an IV attatched and numerous medical personnel in and out, including a med student who asked Mom a bunch of questions during the middle of a very intense contraction that she had already been asked by the nurse and the resident OB. Needless to say Mom didn’t have a whole lot to say to her....Dr. Ulland stopped by Friday morning to check on Mom and she was still at 4cm and he said that if she hadn’t progressed by that afternoon he wanted to started Pitocin to help get the process going. 1:00 or so, Mom got an epidural and a Pitocin drip added to her arsenal. Dad had to leave the room when the epidural was put in- he thought that was too scary to see. Mom said it didn’t hurt one bit, but she didn’t like not being able to feel anything from the belly button down. But at least she was able to finally sleep!

At 5:00 they examined Mom and said the words they had been waiting to hear all day- it’s time to start pushing! So at 5:30pm Mom started pushing, it was very hard for her to do since a)she couldn’t feel anything that was going on down there and b) she was so exhausted, she started falling asleep between contractions! Finally at 7:57pm, I decided to grace the world with my beautiful presence! Dr. Ulland pulled me out (after getting my one shoulder unstuck), flipped me over and announced “It’s a......GIRL!!” Everyone was so excited! I think Mom would have cried but her eyes were so swollen and blood shot from pushing she couldn’t!  Mom and Dad (and Dr. Ulland) were very shocked to see that I had a head of dark, thick hair and that I was so big!

The medical team was a little concerned because I wasn’t turning a nice rosy pink, (I was content to stay blueish gray) and I wasn’t making any noise. So after weighing me,7 pounds 15 ounces, they whisked me away to the nursery. Dad came with and was able to show me off to Grandma MJ and Grandpa Jeff and Grandpa David and Grandma Jolene. Needless to say they were thrilled to meet me! After a brief stint in the nursery where they warmed me up and finally got me to give a few good wailing cries, they brought me back to Mom. She was having a rough time too. Dr. Ulland couldn’t get the placenta delivered and Mom was losing quite a bit of blood. So they had to give her a shot to help her uterus contract and to help stop the bleeding. Finally, about 45 minutes after I was born he was able to get all of the placenta delivered. Dad was not in the room for that process, from what I can gather he doesn’t do well with blood.

After many long, hard hours for Mom and Dad they have said that I am well worth all the trouble I caused. We are all in love and can’t wait to begin the adventure that will be our life together, as a family. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Potatoes, Hummus and Chocolate.

Oh my. 

I am going to keep this short and sweet. You must make these recipes now. NOW

Giant Double Chocolate Cookies (you're going to need a glass of milk for these bad boys. wowser.)

Thanks to Oh She Glows and Annie's Eats for these amazing recipes. You ladies rock my oven mitts off. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I guess it's time to look into contacts.

No pun intended.

Thanks Penny!
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Friday, February 4, 2011

It's not easy being green.

Actually, yes it is. And delicious too.

Oh how I have missed you, green smoothie. I am sorry I kept forgetting to get ingredients at the grocery store and went over a week without enjoying your deliciousness. I hope you can forgive me.
In the words of Olive, (insert super cute stuffy nose/scratchy throat voice here)"Mama, why didn't we have these all long week? I LUB smoovies!"

Today's smoothie consisted of the usual suspects:
2 oranges
1 banana
frozen fruit medley (peaches, pineapple, mango and strawberries)

And yes, the blender is still kickin'. I have resorted to blending in stages to get the job done. Fresh fruit: blend. Add frozen fruit and a splash of water: blend. Add spinach: blend. Plug nose against the burning smell: done.  Pain in the ass: yes. We are now considering a Ninja Blender. Several people have recommended it to us and since it's roughly a third of the price of a low end VitaMix it's a bit more in our reach.

Have you had your green smoothie today?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Avocado Pasta

Have I ever told you that I love avocado? Like, LOVE avocado? I eat them several times a week and could probably eat them daily without getting sick of the creamy, cool, buttery goodness. 

I like to eat avocado:
straight up with a spoon.
spread on toast.
mixed with a little salt and lime as a dip for chips.
mashed together with salt, pepper and lemon juice, spread on a toasted baguette and topped with tomatoes (aka tomato avocado toasts).
sliced and on a sandwhich.
chopped and in a salad. 

And thanks to Oh She Glows, I now have a new favorite way to enjoy avocado. As a creamy sauce for pasta. Oh. My. Gosh. Avocado heaven. So incredibly easy. I promise once you try this you'll say "Why the heck didn't I think of that?!" I would have taken a picture for you, but once I started eating it I couldn't stop!

15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta
(adapted from Oh She Glows)

  • 1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish (I used almost a whole lemon. But I like lemon!)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, to taste (I used 3 and it was quite garlicky, but if you are not a big fan of garlic use 1 clove) (I only used 1 and it was plenty garlickly for me)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • ~1/4 cup Fresh Basil, (probably optional) (I used ~1 tsp dried)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 servings/6 oz of your choice of pasta (I used 3oz of spelt and 3 oz of Kamut spaghetti)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add in your pasta, reduce heat to medium, and cook until Al Dente, about 8-10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado, basil, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. (oops. I threw everything in all at once)
3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse in a strainer and place pasta into a large bowl. Pour on sauce and toss until fully combined. Garnish with lemon zest and black pepper. (I also squirted a little lemon juice on top)Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.


Are you a fan of avocado? What's your favorite way to eat it?

Jeepers creepers.

I had the distinct feeling that I was being watched...
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

PetCakes Winner!

And the winner is......

Comment #8: 
CT Mom said...
I'd give these to my daughter. rmccoy1234 at yahoo dot com