Saturday, January 31, 2009

Family Week in Review

Has it really been a whole week since I last posted? Ah, best of intentions. This week has been a little crazy. Here's what we've been up to...

- Matt was off work Mon-Wed, so we stayed in the mountains skiing and relaxing until Tuesday evening. AND Kate started skiing independently!! Her daddy couldn't be more proud! I need to figure out how to get the video off my cell phone.
- Wed was a crazy busy day:
  • Kids had preschool
  • Picked up Matt's car at the dealership shop (finally figured out why the battery has been dying every few days - the OnStar had never been fully disconnected)
  • I had lunch with some friends
  • Went to our friend Bode's 5th birthday party at Pump It Up
  • Jack fell at preschool and got a cut next to his eye. We thought it was going to be fine, so I butterflied it up and went to the party. After the party, it wasn't healing great so we headed to the hospital and got it glued up
  • I had book club that night - we read In the Time of the Butterflies - great book. I was going to make Dominican Corn Bread and fresh mozzarella, but with all the unexpected injury, I ended up making Dominican Sun Rice instead

- Poor Jack can't get a break this week, less than 24 hrs after his injury, he started running a fever which quickly turned into a nasty tummy bug.

- We refinanced our house (yes, the one we just purchased a few months ago... just can't beat the rates!) If you are looking to refinance, we highly recommend Loans At Wholesale. We have used them a number of times, and they have the best rates and the greatest service. (not an advertisement - which I don't do - they really are awesome!)

- We finished up the week with a little more skiing and a lot of napping.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fittest Cities

I'm excited to report that our hometown was ranked by Men's Health as the #2 fittest city in the country!

Maybe would have made #1 if Matt and I weren't bringing it down... :)

Weekly Family Update

This is only the second weekly family update, and I already feel like they are too frequent. Might change it to every other week. This week was GORGEOUS - temps up in the 60's so we tried to get outside as much as we could. Spent a lot of time with playgroup moms (remind me to blog about how great our playgroup is!).

- Had an extra playgroup date at our house.
- Spent one day at the zoo with some playgroup moms and kids
- Did a 2+ mile hike with other playgroup moms and found our first geocache thanks to Gretchen
- Had knitting/crochet night (aka playgroup moms' wine and brownies/cookies night) where I restarted the sweater I've been making for Nina Sprinkles. The original I was too small since Nina has grown so much (she's huge - like 8lbs now!) so I pulled it all out and am starting a larger size.
- Our dining room table and chairs arrived!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oat-Whole Wheat Banana Cranberry Muffins

While I am posting recipes, PopMom and Gretchen asked for this recipe, so I thought I would share it with everyone. I adapted it from one of my favorite little cookbooks Light Muffins. They are our current favorite while I use up all the cranberries I bought over the holidays!

Just a warning that these are a very hearty and not very sweet muffin. I made them for playgroup last week, but another mom brought cookies with chocolate and peanut butter chips. These muffins didn't stand a chance next to those cookies! You can also use blueberries instead of cranberries, but then I would cut back on the sugar a little bit.
Oat-Whole Wheat Banana Cranberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup milk
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3 Tablespoons walnut oil (or canola oil, but walnut oil adds a bit more flavor)
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 (I use convection at 375). Grease 12 regular sized muffin cups*.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in cranberries until well coated and evenly distributed. In a small bowl, stir together milk, bananas, oil and egg. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. These muffins don't have a lot of rise, so the muffin cups will be pretty full (great for high altitudes!).

Bake 15-20 min. Cool, remove, and eat!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chocolate Mug Cake

**Warning: Do not read this post, do not make this recipe, just walk away right now!!**

My mother-in-law sent me this recipe in November, but I never got a chance to make it because we had so many goodies hanging around the house all through the holidays. Last night I got the hankering for something sweet, and my normal square of dark chocolate just wasn't going to satisfy the craving. So I pulled out this recipe and oh-my-goodness it is a dangerous recipe to have! I made Matt run to the store to get some ice cream to go with it. While it probably isn't going to win any baking awards, it is really yummy for a quick evening snack. One mug recipe was plenty for both Matt and me, although I could have easily eaten an entire mug myself!

I used walnut oil and added a dash of cinnamon to improve the flavor. I also omitted the chocolate chips because that was a bit more decadent that I needed. I like my mother-in-law's idea of adding toffee pieces. I also think some carmel or butterscotch sauce on top would be heavenly. Mmmmm...

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil (I used walnut oil)
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla
dash of cinnamon (my addition)

Add dry ingredients to a coffee mug, and mix well
Add the egg, milk, and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla , and mix again.

Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes .

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
Top with a scoop of ice cream and EAT! It is definitely best warm.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Present for the United States

Yesterday (Monday) I had briefly and simply explained to Kate and Jack that today (Tuesday) was going to be a very important day because we would be getting a new president of the United States. We talked about why inaugurations don't happen very often. How we choose the president. What his name is. Etc. Jack was listening, but not very intently.

This morning (Tuesday) with all our normal morning chaos, I actually forgot that it was inauguration day until Kate reminded me with an excited announcement of, "Mommy! This is a very important day! All the states are getting a new president today!"

Before I could really respond, Jack pipes up, "What am I going to get for a new present today?"

Poor Jack could not be consoled after I explained that we were getting a new "president" not a "present." Although I realize that to many it is one and the same! LOL

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Family Update

One of the reasons I started this blog was not only to talk about "going green" but also to keep family and friends updated on our life and to document a bit of our life for my own memory (since I am certainly not doing it with baby books or scrapbooks!). I am going to attempt a weekly summary of what is happening in our family unless it is a profoundly boring week. Normally we aren't quite this busy, but happenings this week...

-Kate and Jack are in birthday party season. We are attending parties 2 Saturdays in a row with more coming up. I wasn't planning on doing a party for Kate until she was in kindergarten, but I'm not sure I can get out of it this year.
-Nina Sprinkles got "fixed" last Tuesday. No Nina Sprinklets are possible now.
- Both kids started back to swim lessons twice a week. We quit at the beginning of last summer since lessons get crowded and we were at the pool a lot anyway. I was going to sign them up in the fall, but I was a bit of a procrastinator. Kate is swimming entire laps of the pool now, and Jack just likes to goof off in the water but is *almost* bobbing under the water of his own accord.
- Matt worked nights all last week. It is always nice to have him around during the day.
- Matt and I started seriously looking at school options for kindergarten next year.
- Kate moved up from Preschool to Level One gymnastics this week. She was VERY nervous about joining the "bigger" girls (I think she thought she was joining the "team" as she mentioned to me that she can't do any flips yet...). She held her own in the new class (she is as tall as the 6 yr olds in class!) and came out beaming with pride and joy. Jack is continuing in the preschool gymnastics class. He loves it as long as they don't do the same thing for too long. His favorites are the trampoline and the foam pit.
- Matt also got to go to Crested Butte this week for a bit of guys' skiing.
- I had two nights out - playgroup moms' holiday party (we always do it in Jan) & documentary movie night
- We met Shannon & kids for dinner one evening (we try to get together when the hubbies are working similar hours)
- We hosted playgroup at our house despite our lack of furniture... just more room for the kids to run around!
- We had some great weather this week, so the kids got out in the back yard lots and we even spent an afternoon at the park.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2008 In Review

My friend Lauren did this on her blog, and I like the idea so much that I thought I would copy her! Major happenings this year...

Mimi visits
Both kids ski for the first time
Matt W. visits

Trip to Gulf Shores to see my grandma, Aunt Gwen, Aunt Gretchen, and Uncle Denny
Kate turns 4
I take my photography class
Jack potty trained
Matt went on guys' ski trip to Alta

Ito visits
Jack turns 3
My aunt Barbara passes away, and I travel to North Carolina for her funeral

Trip to Salt Lake City with Ashlee

Ama visits
Trip to Moab with Great Uncle Mark and cousin Hannah
Kate learned to ride a bike

Great Uncle Jho and Aunt Valer visit
Raj, Christine, Ashnaya, Arjun, and Anuj visit

Auntie C, Uncle Sly, and cousin Zane visit for the 4th of July
My cousin Kira and her husband Adam visit
Mimi visits

Ama visits, takes Kate back to Dallas with her, Jack and I follow a few days later, and take a quick trip to Austin (see Lauren, Matt, John Matthew, Luke & Connor; Ito; and Keahi, Dave, Makaio & Cyan)
Make offer on new house

I turn 36
Close on new house
Kate starts pre-K
Jack starts preschool

Children's Literacy Center's Vintner Dinner
Trip to Dallas for my mom's surprise 60th birthday party
Cousin Sonny is born
Move into new house

Trip to Disney World with Ama and Grandpa Joe
Cousin Lucy is born
Matt turned 39
Mimi and Dick visit for Thanksgiving

Ito and Hannah visit for Christmas
Matt takes kids to the ranch in Arizona, leaves me at home alone!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Walk To Beautiful

I know I've mentioned before my documentary film club. I think it is just a brilliant idea (not mine!). Just like book club only there is no prep. A group of women gather at rotating houses, watch a documentary, and discuss the film (there's lots of other discussion also!). We bring appetizers or desserts, and there is lots of wine. I would really like to do something similar for families once the kids are a little older.

This last weekend we watched the film Walk To Beautiful. Wow. See this film if you can. It is beautiful and moving. Filmed in Ethiopia, the film follows several women with urinary fistulas after prolonged labors* and stillbirths as they travel long distances (like 6+ hours of walking plus who-knows-how-long on a bus) to receive care at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital. The film does a great job of portraying how devastating the urinary incontinence is for these women. They are totally ostracized in their communities. A fate worse than death for many of them. The hospital provides life-changing care for these women for a medical condition that is unheard of in the US.

Really a must see.

Since I didn't have the chance to do my Holiday Charity Giveaway in December, I have decided to take the money that I set aside for the giveaway and donate it to The Fistula Foundation. Hope that is okay with all the readers!

*We women in the US may complain about our obstetric care (not enough midwives, too medical, high c-section rates, inadequate insurance coverage, etc), but it may be more difficult for you to complain after watching this film. Our issues are minor when compared. Some facts from the film/website:
- Fistulas were largely irradicated in developed countries with introduction of forceps and c-sections.
-There are only 93 OB/GYNs in Ethiopia for a population of 75 million.
-The risk of death due to pregnancy and childbirth in the US is 1 in 2800. In Africa, it is 1 in 16.
-The hospital tells women to start walking to medical care as soon as they feel the baby "walking" inside of them.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday Menu Plan

My cooking really slacked off during our move and over the holidays so I need to get back into the Monday Menu Plan. I did much better this last week, but it always helps to have a plan. I still find that it is easiest for our family's lifestyle to only plan 3-4 meals/week as we usually have at least one night of leftovers, one night out, and one spontaneous or "I don't feel like really cooking" meal. Last week's meals looked like this:

Sunday - BBQ turkey sandwiches with my mother-in-law's homemade pickles (yum!)

Monday - Pasta shells stuffed with tofu (the recipe I tried wasn't that great, but I like the concept so I want to find a better one)

Tuesday - Roasted Chicken, roasted carrots and potatoes, homemade bread (made 2 chickens
& 2 loaves of bread to give one to a friend that had been in the hospital)

Wednesday - Leftover Chicken, Apple-Blue Cheese Spinach Salad (recipe below), Homemade Bread (remind me to post about the awesome bread I have been making from Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes A Day)

Thursday - Penne Pasta with Rao's Marinara

Friday - Take-Out Pizza

Saturday - Kids had toast and fruit (they didn't feel well), Matt had leftovers, and I had a night out with the girls!

Also made in our kitchen last week:
Banana Cranberry Muffins
Homemade Applesauce
Four Bean Salad
Spaghetti Squash
Homemade Yogurt
Krispy Bars
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tentative Meal Plan for This Week:
Chili Colorado with Corn Spoon Bread
Chicken Cacciatore over Polenta
Lentil and Brown Rice Soup

Apple-Blue Cheese Salad

Place in Salad Bowl:
Mixed Greens
1-2 Fugi apples
Handful of toasted walnuts
Blue Cheese crumbles

Toss with Dressing:
3T olive oil
2T Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fun December Photos

Just for fun...

Kids crackin' up with Great Uncle Markle up in the mountains
Kate getting in on the father-son photoJack playing one of his favorite games with Ito (Matt's dad)
Kate helping make our Christmas morning Swedish Tea Ring (another family tradition I meant to blog about... you'll have to wait until next year!)
Nina Sprinkles getting a drink from the Christmas Tree
And the neighbors tree that fell in our driveway during a huge windstorm one night. Delayed my trip to meet up with Matt and the kids skiing in the mountains. Had to stay home for another few hours by myself. Poor me!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Christmas Morning

The tree

Coming down the stairs

Santa presents
(I'll blog soon about Kate's awesome stable!)

Toasting with OJ (grown-ups had mimosas!)

Jack with OJ and Swedish Tea Ring on the mouth

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Christmas Jammies

Want to share a few photos from our Christmas before winter is over! (and, Marie, I promise I'll post house photos, but I want to wait until some of our furniture gets here!)

One of our holiday traditions is that the kids get new PJs and get to open them on Christmas Eve. We also always get them a new book for Christmas, and this year we added it to the Christmas Eve present opening (works much better as books tend to get lost in the shuffle and forgotten about on Christmas morning).

Matt's dad was here for Christmas as well as Matt's cousin Hannah. I thought it would be fun this year to get EVERYONE at our house for Christmas matching PJs. So I did! It wasn't easy to find matching jammies in the range of sizes, and all I could find was pretty wild. I think it made it all the more fun! We looked pretty cute, we were all warm and comfy and we all wore our jammies well into the day.
The boys + Nina

The girls (excuse my double chin... bad angle for me!)

Mommy and Kate

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

At The Grocery Store

After saying I might not be around much, I find myself wanting to blog! :) Got lots and lots checked off the never ending "To Do" list yesterday, so I am feeling pretty good.

We were desperate for groceries yesterday so I hit the store with the kids. Before I tell my little tale, I must brag that the normal supermarket that I go to has the absolute best view as you walk out. Usually I am a bit cranky leaving the grocery store usually due to fighting kids, long lines, or not finding the specific product I want. Regardless, when I step out of this grocery store, I can't help but smile at the view. One of these days I'll have to take a photo to share, but today something else made me smile at the grocery store.

As we strolled the aisles, Kate suddenly yells, "Mom, STOP!" Before I realize what is going on, she says, "Please lift me up."

As I am lifting her up, I see what she has spotted... candy covered almonds... yum.

In her amazed voice she asks me, "Mommy, what is that?!?" I tell her that they are candy covered almonds. She, of course, asks to buy some.

I look at the ingredient label and respond, "Honey, these have artificial coloring* in them which isn't good for our bodies."

Being the smarty that she is, she quickly responds back, "Then why do they put it in there?"

Good question. I had no good response.
And while we are talking grocery stores, can I complain for a minute? Why do they have to over package all the organic produce? Green peppers individually wrapped in plastic. Bananas covered in sticky green tape. So you have to choose between pesticides or plastic. Grrr...

*Just FYI, I am not a nazi about artificial coloring. I do try to avoid it my food purchases, but I don't even think about it when eating out or when the craving for M&Ms takes over! I even had to get some regular green food coloring for Christmas cookies this year. I tried buying and mixing the yellow and blue natural food dyes from Whole Foods (they didn't have green). It just turned grey.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Toast for the New Year

Not a toast to the new year, but toast for the new year. That is what I had for dinner on the last day of 2008. It was really perfect. After a fairly stressful last few months, Matt gave me one of the best gifts ever. He left town and took the kids with him for New Years. I was ALONE in my house for four days! I needed the extended break more than I realized. I also took a technology break during that time (well, I couldn't totally stay away from Facebook or my cell phone, but I only did quick checks). And while I didn't get all I wanted to accomplish done, I do feel better. Finally moved my entire office to the new house, unpacked the last bathroom box (do I really need that stuff since it has been sitting in a box for 4 months?), and organized my closet. Also watched a few movies, got some great deals shopping, and did a lot of nothing.

I am looking forward to 2009 as we settle into our new home and really make it ours. I have some great ideas for the basement play area. Yesterday we went furniture shopping and picked out a few key pieces. Despite several inches of snow on the ground, I'm already mentally planning my garden. I've also been reading up on keeping chickens (a lifelong dream!) as we now have an old dog run that would make a perfect coop. Our family has many other plans for this year that should be fun.

During 2008, sometimes I found myself so busy documenting life (or feeling guilty that I wasn't blogging or answering email or feeling overwhelmed by life), that I forgot to enjoy it. So I'll offer no excuses and I won't feel guilty for basically ignoring my blog the last month. I have no intentions of totally letting my blog go to the wayside, but I am also not sure how much I'll be here during 2009. You'll probably find me in spurts as fun things happen that I want to share.

Happy 2009! I can already feel that it is going to be a good year!