Home Chapter One Our Vegan Lifestyle Likes Comment-Free

The Hot Berry Blossom Air Balloon Festival Kaluh Kalay

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Abilene, isn't exactly an every day carnival when it comes to life outside of the house. There are a couple of places we like to go regularly- the prairie dog park, the zoo, the health food store, the air park (maybe we'll do that this weekend), but really, nothing very exciting. Once a year though, and this is the 2nd year in a row that we've gone, is the Hot Air Balloon Festival. We loaded the kids into the car, grabbed the camera and water bottle on our way out the door, packed a couple of snacks and blankets, and headed down to Red Bud Park.

We got a fairly decent parking spot, good enough for us at least, and before going to see the balloons, went to visit the prairie dogs in their sanctuary, followed by playing on the playground. The playing part didn't last very long, thanks to a group of middle school boys hogging the entire structure playing tag and making fun of each other (something about the chubby boy being able to catch them if they were holding Twinkies, kids are so mean), so we headed off down the path towards the festival.

Charlie was exhausted (awww, he looks miserable doesn't he?), having skipped his afternoon nap, so he spent the entire time on my hip. I really wish I had one of those fancy hip carriers, the one that I had been looking at a few months back was over $100 but went up to something like 60 pounds. Well, clearly I never got it, not finding a way to justify spending that much money on something that I didn't think I'd use that often, when it turns out that by now I would have already used it a million times. My arms have gotten really strong these past couple of months, lemme tell ya.

We decided rather than walking through the messy carnival area (bounce house, vendors, music, all that stuff), we'd much rather just find a cozy spot on the grass and lay out our blankets. We don't eat carnival food, and buying an overpriced tshirt sounded like a nightmare, so we skipped it. Of course, we ended up setting ourselves up right on top of some kind of Frito Lay cheddar ant hill, so we had to move, but by the time the sun was going down, we were comfortable. Eleanore kept herself entertained by climbing in and out of the stroller, and making conversation with the sun set. Something about rainbows and unicorns, and "if we don't save the sun everything will die". That's usually how it goes though (we watch a lot of Rainbow Brite).

While still fighting sleep, as soon as we set him down, Charlie went straight to the grass. He loved, the grass. We have grass at home, we just never play in it. Texas grass isn't like grass back home (we're from Washington state, for anyone new to our blog *waves*). Its not soft. Its not clean. Its filled with all sorts of stinging and biting bugs, prickly spiky things that get stuck to your clothes and skin, so we usually just set him down in the driveway and let him explore that. Well, we couldn't bring our driveway with us to the festival, and no matter how hard we tried to contain him on the blanket, he was going to eat that grass, and we had no say in the matter. Eventually we got tired and gave up the fight. You want to eat the grass charlie? Fine. Just don't choke on a tumbleweed while you're at it.

Soon after the sun had said goodnight to the sky, they started filling up the balloons with heat and lifting them from the ground. We were sitting right next to a beautiful purple and red balloon, that we got to see them put together from start to finish. Eleanore's face was completely lit up with amazement. Last year she had just turned two, and while she thought it was fun, she didn't really understand what fun was, does that make sense? This year though, it really clicked with her. She even had songs to go along with her every move. Has anyone seen Strawberry Shortcake and the Berry Blossom Festival? ...no? OK well- the main song from that doubled as a theme song for the hot air balloon festival.

Getting my camera to cooperate without the day light isn't a trick that I've quite mastered. Yet somehow, in the middle of my frustrating outtakes, I captured this beautiful moment. After that one, I decided to put the camera away and just enjoy my time with my family.

The night was perfect. The best possible kickoff to our favorite time of year. I don't know if we'll still be stationed here next fall, with Christopher's pending request for retraining, but if we are, we'll definitely be going again.


I couldn't resist posting a picture from Eleanore at last years festival. Always stopping to smell the "fyowers" (or so she called them at the time).


What a difference a year makes.

GF Broccoli Baked Potato soup

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Times are tough. We need cheap, healthy, gluten free/citrus free meals. A few weeks ago when we were taken by surprise with our first cold front of the season, I made soup. No, I mean, I really made soup. I made the best soup, of all time, of ever. Don't believe me? Try it. I dare you.

This soup is gluten free, and almost vegan. Well, its vegan unless you sprinkle bacon bits on top of a spoonful of sour cream like we did, hehe. But there are always soycon bits, and sour supreme, right? And instead of using an alfredo sauce seasoning packet, replace it with a vegan alfredo (soaked and pureed cashews make a great base). OK so this recipe isn't vegan at all, I lied (I forgot about the milk powder in the alfredo sauce). But, it could be if you really wanted it to be, with just a little extra effort.

Anyways, lets get started-

Gluten Free Broccoli Baked Potato Soup:

You will need...

-3 heads of Broccoli (5 cups, if I had to guess)
-7-ish small/med potatoes
-1/4 cup earth balance (or butter, whatever)
-1 onion, diced
-3 or 4 cloves of garlic
-3/4 cup broth or water
-1 carton of unsweetened soy milk (or good ol' cows milk if that's what you prefer)
-1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
-1 alfredo sauce packet
-1 Tbsp chives
-2 palms of salt (about 2 tablespoons), a little more or a little less, depending on your own personal taste
-pepper to taste
-parsley to taste

Preheat your oven to 375. Wash and poke your potatoes with a fork. Line a baking sheet with foil, place your uncooked potatoes into the oven when its ready, set the timer for an hour, and then move onto working with your broccoli.

Chop up your broccoli, if you're using fresh. You could use frozen, but... really? Hey, you've gotta do what you've gotta do, I've done it before too.

Pile your freshly cut heap of greens into the steamer, and steam it until you can smell it. You don't want it too cooked, but it needs to be a bright green color, still stiff to the touch of a fork. Once that's done, remove it from the heat and set it aside.

When your baked potatoes are finished, take them out of the oven and set them aside to cool. When you know you're not going to burn yourself (you'd be surprised), peel them. I like to peel them right there on the foil, and then just wrap up the peelings and toss it into the garbage, no mess. Now, dice them up. I liked making difference size chunks, because you know you love it when every once in awhile you get an extra big piece on your spoon. That's kind of the best part about potato soup, I think.

Scoop your butter into a pot, turn the heat up to medium, chop up your onion and garlic (we use crushed garlic in a jar, we're lazy), and then cook that until your onions are translucent (you know the drill). Once the onions are finished, add in your potato pieces, and your broccoli.

Turn the heat up to high, add in your broth and milk. Once that gets a good steam going and starts to bubble, turn the heat down to a low or low/medium. Add in your yeast, and then the secret ingredient, the alfredo sauce packet. We use Simply Organic (as seen in the picture above), and dang, its good.

Stir in the remaining seasonings (salt, pepper, parsley, chives, anything else that might want to toss in), turn the heat down to low, and let simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Top off individual servings with a little bit of sour cream, maybe some shredded cheese, and sit back, relax, and enjoy your delicious home cooked meal.

Roadside Adventures

Monday, September 28, 2009

I assigned Saturday as baby food making day. Charlie's stock had dwindled down to nothing, leaving just a few servings of peas (his least favorite) and a sweet potato or two. I made a list of everything that I wanted to cook, puree, and freeze- zucchini, squash, apples, peaches, pears, broccoli, sweet potatoes, green beans, bananas, corn, yadda yadda yadda. Just a few minutes before heading down to the commissary (its literally just around the corner and takes no longer than 5 minutes to drive to), I asked Eleanore if she wanted to come with me. Her and I haven't been spending nearly enough one on one time together (that pesky little brother is always in the way, isn't he?), and of course she jumped and screamed at the chance to get into the car and leave the house with me. She was a huge help while we were out, picking the fruits carefully off of the tables and putting them gently into the plastic bags that I held out, and didn't throw a screaming tantrum not even once (thank you Jesus!).

The speed limit on base is 30 mph, making it difficult to miss seeing anything out of the ordinary. Well, for me at least. Christopher would drive right past Willy Nelson if he were standing in there in an orange vest waving him by (sorry, inside joke meant for the husband, I just couldn't resist). Eleanore was happily playing with her enchanted forest magnet book in the back seat, when I noticed a big dark spot off in the grass to the right. The shape looked sort of like a ... turtle? I thought about pulling over on the side of the road, but I had groceries in the back, and- no, I should just go home.

I pulled into the driveway, put the car into park (I always use the emergency break), left Elie strapped into her booster, jumped out and unloaded the bags, grabbed the camera (actually, Christopher brought it out for me), hopped back into the car, and went off on a turtle hunt! I've never seen a wild turtle before, so this was very exciting for me. I felt like a kid again. Eleanore was bouncing around in her space as soon as I told her where we were going and what we were looking for.

I couldn't remember exactly where I had seen him, so I slowed down just a little in the general area, and then HEY, there he was (they don't move very fast do they, hehe)!! I pulled the car over to the side of the road, turned on the emergency flashers (not that you could see them, it was way too bright out), and then Elie and I ran hand in hand across the empty street and up onto the grassy area just a few feet away from a rain creek.

It took a few seconds for me to get past the initial shock of "we found a turtle!!". Eleanore wanted to pet him, but I held her back, giving the turtle, Herb, we named him, his space.

"Where did his neck go?", Eleanore asked me as she bent over to make eye contact with Herb.

"Well that's a good question (and way too cute) Eleanore. Where did his neck go? I think that hes afraid of us. Hes not used to be around such beautiful little girls", I told her.

While the turtle was loads of fun, he didn't want to play patty cake or sing songs with us, so... ooh, whats this, A FLOWER!

Our turtle hunt had switched gears.

While standing on the side of the road in the hot sun, 3 different cars pulled over to see that we were alright, one of those people being a police officer. Nobody seemed to care about the turtle that we had discovered though (they were completely un phased by my childlike enthusiasm, and obviously missing out), so once they got a thumbs up (literally, they were all dudes, and they all gave me a thumbs up sign) they continued down the road to housing.

Before leaving, Eleanore decided that Herb needed the flower that she had picked. "Bye bye turtle!" she yelled as we ran back to the car, and then back home we went, having made a great new friend on an afternoon roadside adventure.

National Pancake Day!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

As if my family isn't spoiled enough, right? Today just had to be National Pancake Day.

I woke up towards the end of a fairly decent Twilight inspired vampire dream, slowly pulled myself out of the warm comfortable bed (its been getting cold at night), and focused my morning burst of energy on combining the flavors of pumpkin and cheesecake on a hot surface. The result? Heaven. If I gave the perfectionist part of my personality any say in the matter, I'd still be in the kitchen trying to achieve the very perfect texture, seeing as how this batch came out gooey and thin, but, for a recipe pulled out of thin air... they probably tasted better than anything that has come out of my kitchen, ever. That's saying a lot.

...or maybe I just really wanted pumpkin, and I'm flattering myself?

Either way. YUM. I'm more than happy to share my thrown-together-at-the-last-minute recipe with you, in case you care to try them out for yourself. Its worth it. I promise.

(GF) Pumpkin Cheesecake Pancakes:
-1 cup pumpkin
-1/2 cup cream cheese
-1 cup baking mix (I'm all about Pamela's)
-1 tsp stevia (this can obviously be substituted with more sugar, maybe 1/4 cup)
-1/4 cup earth balance (butter, if that's your thing)
-1/3 cup sugar
-pinch cinnamon
-1 egg
-2 cups water

Mix everything except the water and baking mix, together in a good sized mixing bowl. I used my hand mixer for this part, but probably should have used my vita mix, to avoid clumps of cream cheese. Oh well, in the end it didn't matter, they still turned out amazing. Getting off track, sorry. Anyways, mix all of those ingredients together, add in the baking mix, and stir it all together with a wooden spoon. Slowly add in your water, pouring a little more, or a little less, depending on your personal preference. I found that making it a little bit thinner, made it easier to cook.

These pancakes take a smidgen longer to cook than a regular pancake, so try be patient (they smell soooo good). I used a 1/3 sized measuring cup to pour my batter onto the griddle, but would recommend using 1/4 cup instead. My pancakes didn't form bubbles in the center, indicating the right time to flip (like a normal every day flapjack would), instead, a darker edge of orange would form around the edges. Flip it then, and flip it quickly- these guys are messy.

I'm maple syrup intolerant, but my family isn't. I drizzled a splash of pure syrup over their pancakes, and then topped them off with a little bit of whip (we only have this in the house for homemade pumpkin spice lattes. The recipe for that is coming next week, get ready for it!!). And just as you saw up at the top of this post: mouth watering orange edible heaven...

Happy National Pancake Day!!

Friday Flashback

Friday, September 25, 2009

I miss the ocean. I took advantage of the fact that it was always there, while I was growing up. I don't think I've ever lived more than 2 hours away from it, at any point in my life.

Now that we live in west central Texas (which is only temporary, I know we'll be moving soon, to where we're still not sure of), the ocean seems like nothing more than a distant memory. Its been over 3 years since I've had the chance to walk along the shore looking for sea shells, later having to sit down to brush sand out from between my toes.

Christopher and I got married in Seaside, Oregon. It wasn't a big wedding, and it wasn't very well planned out. It was actually very last minute, backed up with good reasoning, though. I was pregnant, and Christopher was about to join the Air Force. There was no reason to wait. We knew we'd be spending the rest of our lives together. At the time, a wedding seemed like nothing more than a hurdle on our track.

We gathered on the beach with a couple of friends and close family members. My dad walked me down the sandy aisle, looking sharp in his freshly ironed suit, while I stretched as much beauty as possible out of an old polka dot party halter, my baby bump blessing me with heartburn every step of the way. I cried uncontrolled tears of both love and fear, as I stood in front of and said goodbye to my past, rushing myself into an unknown future.

We stayed at the Inn of the Four Winds. I'm not sure if this post card came from the front desk, or from the care package that we were given when they accidentally forgot to switch on our fridge, causing us to lose all of our wedding leftovers. They had great customer service though, loading us up with a free nights stay, and probably one of every promotional item that they had.

Next time we go home to visit, I'd really like to go back and stay there again. We never got to have an actual honeymoon. And Since they've been born, we've never had a night together without the kids.

Someday I'd like to put on a real wedding dress. White and elegant. It didn't mean very much to me at the time, but now that its behind me, my missed chance of a somewhat traditional wedding has left an empty place in the part of my heart that holds my childhood dreams. But that doesn't mean that the wedding that we had wasn't beautiful... because it was.

Playing With Clay

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I've been wanting to experiment with clay for awhile. Every time I pass it at the craft or hobby store, I give it a nod, just so it knows that I see it, but I never stop to talk. I don't want to give clay the wrong impression. I've never spent much time with any kind of clay before, and I'm afraid I wouldn't know what to do with it once I had it in my hands.

Finally I gave in to temptation.

First I just wanted to get a feel for it. Ya know, roll it around between my fingers and mush it flat in my palms. It took only a few minutes for it to warm up to me, and once it did, the result was quite nice.

I made a set of 5 house ornaments for a friend of mine, as part of a pay it forward project. My baking times need working on, the first few I almost burnt, the following ones may not have cooked long enough. It worked out, in the end though. A little paint and a damp cloth, and voila! I just need to get some wire to string them up with, and then they'll be ready to wrap and send off.

Mine and clay's relationship is off to a bumpy start, but with some sanding and smoothing, I think clay and I might have a decent future in store for us.

Burning Never Smelt So Good

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This is my very favorite candle. Christopher won it last year (isn't that kinda funny, hehe) from a blog giveaway that he had entered (for me, of course). Yesterday was the first day of fall, so I figured it was only appropriate to light it and fill the room with caramel and cinnamon, (which only made me want to bake) scents, right?

After a few hours of simmering, the house went from smelling like a pleasant cafe, and in a matter of seconds, turned into the inside of a burning oven, or at least that's what it smelt like. Since all of our smoke detectors are currently disassembled (another thing that mr-fix-it-airplane-mechanic hasn't gotten around to doing, *ahem*, love ya), I frantically started running around the house, trying to sniff my way into the fire. I ran up the stairs first, to make sure that the babies were alright (and they were), and then back down into the kitchen, double checking that both the oven and the stove were turned off. I hauled ass into the living room (literally, hauled ass, I went into paranoid mom must-save-the-children mode), made eye contact with every electrical outlet in sight, tugged on and tickled every wire behind both the entertainment center and computer, and then did all of the above, one more time.

After two rounds of running through the house with my nose in the air like a dog, unable to find anything that resembled the sight or smell of burning, I blew out the candle.I know that right now, some of you are saying "duh, Tia", I should have done that first, but when I put my nose up next to it, it still smelt like cinnamon (and I knew that as soon as I blew it out, I'd smell a different kind of burning from that, ya know). Then again, everything within 10 miles smelt like cinnamon, because the candle had been lit for 4 hours. Finally I shrugged my shoulders and sat down, with the weary acceptance that my house wasn't going to burn down.

I think my favorite candle still has at least one good burn left in it. But if not, I guess its for the better. It'll give one of my other candles some time in the spotlight. Perhaps pumpkin gingerbread? And to be fair, we still don't know if it was the candle that smelt like burning. It could have just been my neighbor's cooking creeping through the kitchen vent again.

The First Day of Fall

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It doesn't seem right to me, that the first day of fall starts towards the end of September. As far as I'm concerned, fall starts on September first. Just like winter starts on December first, not December twenty first. The whole mid month change, it works for spring and summer. Those are just the leftover seasons, the warmth all blends together, there aren't really any defining holidays in those months. I guess Memorial Day and the 4th of July, but even that doesn't really make sense, because even though I consider Memorial Day to be a summer holiday, its in spring. But like I said, the spring and summer holidays are the bore, to me.

Welcome, fall. We've been celebrating your arrival for twenty days already, its about time you got here. I think we'll get the Halloween decorations out of the garage, today. Warm mugs full of stevia sweetened cocoa, and big bowls full of homemade potato broccoli soup. Fall, you certainly are our favorite.

Banana Bread French Toast

Monday, September 21, 2009

I have an itch to bake, almost constantly. Sometimes I can soothe it with a fancy bowl of oatmeal or a vita mix made smoothly, but usually I end up strapping my apron on and getting out the hot pads.

While I was shopping at Sam's Club recently, I came across a bulk box of two different bread mixes by Simply Organic. It was labeled gluten free, so I put it in the cart to put it to the test. I first tried the carrot cake mix, making carrot and cream cheese muffins. Um.. fail. I'm not entirely sure that the direction on the box were very well thought out. What kind of bread doesn't have oil or butter in it? Most of the muffin stuck to the cupcake wrapper.

Having learned from my carrot cake mistake, I stepped it up while making the banana bread. I ignored the instructions on the box, replaced part of the water with melted butter, added some vanilla, and it was perfect. Look at that loaf, have you ever seen such a pretty loaf?

Itch scratched.

Well later that night, come dinnertime, when we had nothing to eat, a light bulb went off in my head. French toast. Its been years since I've had french toast. Ohmygosh, stuffed, french toast. Yes!

So I mixed an 8oz package of cream cheese, with about a half teaspoon of stevia, poured in some banana puree (magic bullet style, woot woot... that was lame), and blended it until the fluffiness was on the same level of cute as a snugly week old kitten. YUMM (to the cream, not the kitten). I then spread the banana cream filling on the bread like butter, and put two pieces together like a sandwich. I dunked the sandwiches in a beaten egg/milk/cinnamon/sugar mixture (your basic french toast batter), and grilled them up.

Not bad, right? And my family obviously loved me for it.

Its OK to eat this kind of stuff for breakfast, from time to time (example; the international house of pancakes), and on occasion we all like to have breakfast for dinner, so... there, I justified it, hehe.

It tastes even better the next day, after a night of chillin' in the fridge.

Seriously, you've got to try this.

A Bendy Straw Smile

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Another one of the small joys in life, is slurping your hot chocolate through a straw. I think even as adults, we tend to grab one or two plastic tubes off of the condiment counter and forcefully insert them into the miniature rectangle opening on top of our disposable coffee cups. I used to use lipstick as my excuse to use a straw, "I'll ruin my perfect red pout" I'd say, but now I'm just up front about it. I like using straws because sucking things is fun. That wasn't meant to sound dirty, Kristen (shes dirty, she took it that way, trust me), there just isn't a cute way to say it. The downside to using a straw though? They make the deliciousness disappear much too quickly, and then the childhood part of our hearts is left feeling empty, while our stomachs suffer from feeling full. And the person next to us, who didn't use a straw, they still have half of their drink left. Booo to them.

To straw, or not to straw...

Friday Flashback

Friday, September 18, 2009

I thought I'd switch things up a bit, and post a flashback for Christopher today. I can't really write about it, since I wasn't there, but... This picture was taken just before I met him (he wore that same hat on our first date), in either Portland or Boise (sisters, feel free to chime in). The gal in the photo is Christopher's best friend, Hailey, and the little boy is his nephew Michael. And Christopher, if you end up reading this, Dennis Quaid is on the Bonnie Hunt show right now. I know you're jealous.

The Forgotten Art of Bath Taking

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I couldn't even tell you when the last time I took a bath was. I remember when we first moved into this house, how excited I was that we had a master bathroom with our own tub, tucked away just off the back corner of our bedroom. A bathroom with a window in it is luxurious to me, so this bathroom, that nobody had ever taken a shower or bath in before ever, since we were the first people to live here, was like a dream come true. A squeaky clean, dream come true.

I took a lot of baths while I was pregnant with Charlie. I used fun scented bath bombs, delicious tasting (not that I tasted them) sugar scrubs, relaxing herb filled bubbles... all that good stuff. And then I was the mother of two children, and almost every form of me time, that includes bath time, went down the drain along with the calming scents of lavender and chamomile.

On Saturday morning, after spending a good amount of time in the kitchen, I announced to my family "I'm taking a bath... a long one... don't expect to see me any time soon", and then disappeared into a far off land of the unknown upstairs.

Lucky for me, there was just enough liquid bubbles left at the bottom of the glass jar to suds up a thick layer of white foam in the tub. I adjusted the water to a scorching hot temperature that I knew would turn my skin red, and carefully settled into a basin full of burning silence and temporary sanity.

I forgot how amazing a bath can be, not only for your body, but also for your soul. I know I say it all the time, but it really is the little things in life that keep me from going completely crazy.

I've officially turned into that lady that likes getting bath stuff at Christmas time.

(GF) Peanut Butter Chocolate Breakfast Cake

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Saturday morning my family, even the cat, woke me up by jumping up and down on the bed, and (get this) asking me to make them "something special for breakfast". Not just something for breakfast, but something special, for breakfast. While part of me was raging with groggy sleepy headed anger, most of me felt loved.

I know that Christopher knows how to pour a bowl of cereal, and he can make a basic pancake just as well as the next guy, so its not that they needed me to make them breakfast. They wanted me to. And feeling wanted makes me feel special (even if it is 8am on a Saturday morning and I'm trying to catch up on some zzz's).

I stomped down the stairs, still in my pajamas (obviously), keeping my mad face glued on. And about here, is where my mentally got kind of weird...

"You want something special for breakfast, fine. Go sit in the living room, I'll let you know when its ready", I said with a rebellious teenage attitude. And just like that, I whipped up a delicious chocolate peanut butter breakfast cake, like it was nothin'. A little butter here, a cup full of sugar there, peanut butter chocolate and vanilla everywhere...

It was like a slice of gluten free heaven on an apple print bordered plate.

I've been getting a lot of these strange housewife inspired highs lately. They just keep showing up and then I float around on a homemade bagel scented and freshly swept and swiffered fluffy cloud.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Cake:
(altered from Pamela's sour cream coffee cake recipe)

The batter
-2 cups baking mix
-1 cup white sugar
-2 eggs (I used egg beaters, for extra cautious batter licking)
-2/3 cup butter (I used smart balance)
-1 cup sour cream
-1 tsp vanilla

The peanut butter chocolate filling
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup peanut butter
-as many chocolate chips as you can stand

The glaze
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 tbsp water (more or less, depending on how thick/thin you like your glaze)

-Preheat oven to 350.
-Grease up a large spring form pan.
-Mix together all of your cake ingredients until smooth and creamy. Taste the heck out of it to be sure its to your liking.
-In a separate bowl, whip together all of your peanut butter chocolate filling ingredients.
-Pour half of your cake batter into your greased spring form.
-Pour all of your peanut butter filling on top of the first layer of cake batter.
-Pour in the rest of your cake batter.
-Bake for about an hour.
-Mix together your glaze, and as soon as your cake comes out of the oven, pout the glaze over the top.
-Let it cool for a few minutes, and then enjoy!!

(Don't forget to brush your teeth afterwards. This cake alone could cause a breakout of new cavities.)

Little Woman

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eleanore had her 3 year well baby checkup yesterday. I guess shes not a baby anymore, and this far into the game they've probably dropped the description of "well baby", but. Its just a regular plain ol' "checkup", now isn't it? That kind of breaks my heart, but at the same time, assists it to pump that much harder, with loving approval.

At previous appointments, she squirmed, she screamed, she kicked and cried. It was always a nightmare. Cold things in the ears, gagging sticks on the tongue... I don't think anybody enjoys a doctors appointment. But at this appointment, she was an angel. She held conversations with all of the techs and doctors, telling them about her baby brother and glittery princess tutu. She interacted with her friends in the waiting room, talking about the cartoon playing on the television and digging through the crayon bucket to find the best red. She was having fun?

The doctor described her as a Little Woman, being well above average for her age. Hes right though, she stands at 3 feet 4 inches tall, and carries around 42 pounds of giggles and smiles. Shes bigger than the 5 year olds that try to play with her on the play ground. Its hard to watch sometimes, she can't keep up with them. I get sucked into worrying about how her steroid style growing habbits will affect her as she gets older.

We ended the afternoon with a tickle(flu) shot (one for each of us, actually), toy airplanes and races, and an organic blueberry sucker. The perfect checkup, I'd say. I'm so proud of my little girl woman.

Just Like His Daddy...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I don't think this photo really needs much of a caption. *tee hee*

Delicious Baked Fudge...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I had my Thursday all mapped out for myself. I had dinner put together and baking in the oven (macaroni and "cheese" with hidden vegetables) by the time my husband was home. The dishes were done, the kitchen was sparkling. The kids were fed and wearing semi clean clothes (nothing that would stain, at least). The house was tidy and a fall scented candle was even lit. I wanted nothing to come in between me and my run.

Before going upstairs to grab a pair of socks, I peeked out the window, just to see what my running conditions would be like.

BOOM! Like a scene from a movie, thunder crashed at my hopes of a trip to the track, and I ended up planting myself firmly on the couch with a big pout hanging off the edge of my lips. Every 5 minutes or so, I'd set myself up for disappointment and look out through the blinds at the blackened sky, imagining myself stomping through the puddles in my running shoes, my ponytail swinging back and forth, Tilly and the Wall blaring loudly through my ipod ear plugs. And then, in my vision, I'd get struck by lightning (don't put it past Texas), quickly regain my unsatisfying reality, and return my focus to the television.

Well, at least I wouldn't miss The Vampire Diaries (which I thought was lame, by the way, but you know I'm going to watch it again next week).

Eleanore was bored, flopping herself around from couch to floor, wall to stairs, toy to blanket. I was bored, typing myself from blog to twitter, flickr to facebook, etsy to google. And then I accepted the fact, that I was not going running. The rain hadn't stopped in hours (of course, on the one night that I planned to start my 5k training), my eyes were still catching flashes of lightning with random blinks, and the sun was going down. I slumped down on the not so comfortable couch (we did that on purpose), and I hated it.

What could possibly make this night better?

"Eleanore... are you bored?", I asked.
"*sigh* ...yeah", she responded.
"lets make something with chocolate and sugar", I said, strongly.

If we were going to be trapped inside, we might as well do the opposite of what I was originally planning on doing. Eat sugar. Eleanore of course started jumping up and down, thrilled at the thought of licking batter. Especially, chocolate batter. Because I'm paranoid that we're all going to get salmonella, I buy egg beaters (its pasteurized), specifically for baking, so that the batter can be consumed safely, and in mass quantities. If you're going to eat the batter, you better do it right.

Earlier I had been hopping around over at The Pioneer Woman, and had come across this recipe, for baked fudge. It seemed simple enough. We had all the ingredients. Why not.

If you clicked over to her site, you can see that she had fancy baking dishes to use for her fudge. I however, did not, but still liked the idea of serving the fudge in individual portions rather than baking it in a brownie pan. I used my silicone cupcake cups instead.

She had described the "baked fudge" as being gooey, and kind of like a brownie batter. Um, yes please, count me in. I had a little bit of the mixins leftover, so I poured it into my mini muffin form, and let it rise like a normal cupcake, rather than sitting it in the water for the "gooey" affect.

Right about the time that The Vampire Diaries was starting, the oven started beeping, and our delicious Thursday night treat was ready. We made the mistake of eating some while it was still hot, which dulled down the crunch of the top layer, but was still good. Awhile later, we tried some again after it had all cooled, and it was much like heaven. So much so, that we ate... it all.

After the show was over, and I was full of chocolate and sugar (Eleanore had gone to bed and didn't even get to taste any of the cooked stuff, so we saved one for her and put it in the fridge for her snack the next day), I looked outside, and it had stopped raining. It was still sprinkling, it was nearly pitch black, but... I could still get a run in. So I laced up my Adidas, put on my running hoodie (I had been dying to wear it for months now), and took myself down to the gym to squeeze in 2 miles.

I fell in love with it, running at night, by the way. More about that another time though. You're wanting the recipe for the baked fudge, aren't you?

Delicious Baked Fudge: (by the Pioneer Woman)

-2 eggs (I used egg beaters, for extra cautious batter licking)
-1 cup sugar
-2 heaping tablespoons cocoa (I didn't think this was enough, I'd add more)
-2 tablespoons flour (I used gluten free flour, of course)
-1/2 cup butter, melted (smart balance, here)
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (go ahead, double it up)

Preheat oven to 300 to 325 degrees.
Beat eggs until light in color. Beat in sugar until just combined.
Add cocoa, flour, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix gently until well combined.
Pour batter into four large ramekins or 1 8-inch square baking dish.
Set ramekins or pan into a larger pan halfway full of water.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until upper crust is crispy and the rest of the batter is firm but not set. Toothpick should come out…not clean, but mixture should not be overly runny. If you pull it out of the oven and have second thoughts, stick it back in for ten minutes.

Flashback Friday

Friday, September 11, 2009

I went back and forth on what photograph to use for this weeks Flashback Friday. Should I use the picture of me looking miserable at a random school dance that I went to all by myself (why didn't somebody tell me that silver lipstick was a no go?)? Or maybe I should use this one, I think I can see my first car, a 1976 white Pacer in the background! Or, wow. I could post-

Um... there are 9 more pages of that.

While sitting down to watch The Vampire Diaries (how appropriate), I found this old story that I had written in my 9th grade creative writing class, 10 years ago. I was so embarrassed while I was reading it, that I lifted my bare feet up off of the ground, curled my knees into my chest, and buried my face in my hands every time I got to the end of a page. Did I really write that?

I had to let Christopher read it. I didn't want to, but I knew he'd sneak a read as soon as I fell asleep anyways. After I handed him the stapled stack of paper (that Eleanore ripped apart within the first 10 seconds of it being in his hands) I excused myself to the kitchen to "remove the chocolate fudge from the oven", even though the timer had 20 minutes left on it (a recipe and pictures coming tomorrow, by the way). Every time he lol'd, my cheeks lit up with burning pressure. "Really, I was 15" I had to keep reminding myself.

I guess the first page isn't all that bad, but it along with the 9 pages of "After Daylight" that are piled under it...

Maybe I'll post another page in a couple of days? My face flushed just thinking about it.

I don't write my lowercase a's like that anymore, by the way. How silly.

Hello, House!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I don't know what came over me yesterday, it was almost like I got bit by the "don't be lazy" bug? I woke up way earlier than I normally do, dinked around the house for a bit, and at the faintest sound of a baby stirring, jumped out of my seat and ran straight to get both kids dressed and off to the park. We spent two hours out in the fresh summer air, visiting with new friends from down the street and soaking up all the vitamin k the sky could throw at us. A little while after coming home, I decided, I wanted my house back.

After the baby was born, 8 months ago, I really let myself go. No, not my looks (well, okay, maybe that too), but, my house. My poor poor house. The kitchen table somehow got shoved against the wall and turned into a craft table, the couch warped itself (I certainly didn't do it) into a dresser for both clean and dirty clothes, and the floor could have easily passed for a front yard, there was so much dirt on it.

As soon as I refueled the kids with drinks and snacks, I embraced my inner clean freak, moved everything out of my living room, cleaned it spotless with every swiffer product ever made, repeated the same with the mid section of the first floor, and then finished up with the dining room. I took the foam play mat and rain forest high chair outside, hosed them off and scrubbed them with soap until I could see my reflection in the cleanliness, and then set them in a sunny spot to dry.

And then 5 hours after I started...

I have a dining room again! And a living room. And a couch. The kids have their own little play area, stocked full of toys that they can both share, rather than "Eleanore's toys" and "Charlie's toys". All choking hazards have been removed. Outlet plugs have been snapped into place. They will be best friends and play together, dangit!

Now if only the cleaning bug can come and bite me so I can get up and do the kitchen.

Tagged. I'm It.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

(photograph, be beautiful, taken by Christopher during our first week of dating)

I've recently been tagged by an AlyGatr. Its 6:34 am, I've got a giant mug of french vanilla creamed coffee beside me, the kids are still asleep. Time to start my Tuesday, and write about writing...

What word do you use too much in your writing?
I don't have a very large vocabulary (I rely strictly on the points of a double word score to win a round of scrabble), so I use a lot of the same words over and over again. I try to keep them spread far enough apart so that its not noticeable.

Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?
I've never really taken any notice to a specific word that gets on my nerves. Maybe that's because I don't read nearly enough. Every day I remind myself that I should start reading more blogs. Once I even made a post it and stuck it to the computer screen, all it said was "read a blog". I think later I pulled that same post it out of the baby's mouth and threw it away, without making another one to replace it. I forget things easily. Lately I'm finding that the "follow" feature on blogger is a big help. I just need to make the effort to follow the blogs I'm interested in now.

What's your favourite piece of writing (written by you)?
Would it be conceited of me to say everything that I've written? I don't like to hit the publish button until I'm happy with what my fingers have typed together. I can't think of just one thing.

Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn't written?
When I was younger I had a live journal. That live journal is nowhere to be found, and for good reason. I didn't know how to sensor myself. I wish I wouldn't have flat out deleted it, maybe just made it private, because I'd love to go back and spy on an 18 year old version of myself.

How has your writing made a difference?
Yes. I go crazy if I don't write. Its my outlet. Sometimes my husband must think I'm crazy, because of the amount of time I spend at the keyboard. He gets online to look up college football, and read the Air Force Times. I get online to write.

Favourite words
And. But. Immediate.

Least favourite words
Swear words. On most occasions, I feel like they make the writing turn ugly. There are more pleasant and creative ways of getting your message across.

Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?
I don't. Should I? Now that I've read this question I feel like maybe I should, but, I guess that's just now how my brain works.

Writing Ambition?
I will finish my zombie story. It might take me five years, but it will happen.

I thought this would take a lot longer than it did. I guess I could use the extra couple of minutes to go read and follow a few blogs that I've been meaning to catch up on. Oh, and, Lolly, Besty, and Christina, tag, you're it.

Love at Pumpkin Spice

Monday, September 7, 2009

September first launches the official start of pumpkin season. Even though its not quite fall yet, baking a loaf of pumpkin bread seems more festive than it did back in August. And my favorite... the pumpkin spice latte. Oh how I love the pumpkin spice latte.

Friday night, Christopher and I had a date night (you can read the pre- date article by clicking here). I wore makeup for the first time in days, he wore one of his "nice" shirts, we had a babysitter on lock down, we were set. Our first night out since Christopher's birthday in July, we couldn't wait to get away from the kids, "lets go!", we thought. I was holding my cherry corduroy purse (Beckykaydesigns) and wearing my cardigan (thin black cotton, a little bit too big, but super comfy) by the time my friend Kristen walked through the door to relieve us of our parenting duties. Just as we were about to hug Miss Eleanore goodbye, something that I had been looking forward to since I woke up that morning, a single cry leaked out of the monitor. Charlie was awake. I had just put him down for his afternoon nap 10 minutes ago, so maybe he just needed a bink replacement and a pat on the back? He'd go back to sleep for sure. The pumpkin spice latte that hadn't yet been made for me, said so.

As you can see, Charlie did not go back to sleep (but look at how happy I look with my latte!!). Turns out the little guy was sick with a tummy ache, we think caused by something that he got through Mama's milk, and cried for 40 minutes straight before we decided to just give in and bring him with us (he threw up on me twice, thanks pal). Half-freedom was better than none, right? Holding a baby (even if he was projecting rotten milk onto my favorite blue converse dress) on my lap would be much more enjoyable than trying to lasso a hyper 3 year old and repeating "don't touch that, don't touch that, don't touch that, I said no, I said no, I said no".

Christopher had actually forgotten just how good the pumpkin spice latte was. Probably because neither of us had one last year, or the year before. As soon as he lifted the cardboard to his lips though, his eyes lit up and his taste buds started dancing to the rhythm of the reggae that was playing over the speakers. And then I busted out the air flute.

You'd think I was breaking his arm, trying to get Christopher to take a decent picture with me. And not just with me, but any time the camera is pointed at him. We must have taken 100 shots. "I don't know what kind of face I'm supposed to make", he says. I think after every take, I'd look at the screen and then respond with, "Seriously Christopher, you're making that face? You're really doing that?"

In the end, even though the baby had come with us, and it had rained the entire time, and we all smelt like vomit... we had a really great date night. It was love at pumpkin spice.