Monday, May 31, 2010

Made by Me Monday

We have a play date set up for this morning and oh, so excited.  My best friend is in town visiting family and worked out a play date with us this morning and another family.  The best two Mommies in my life are coming and I'm about ready to bust.  Six kids running through my house and yard can do anything nothing to contain my enthusiasm.  So for now, I'm leaving you with a glimpse of things to come...

What is it you ask?  Only the tastiest thing on the planet.... Strawberry Rhubarb Compote!  Yum!  I'll be posting the recipe tomorrow, but for today, I'm enjoying the day with family and friends.

So what about you?  What have you been up to this week?  A craft?  A recipe?  A remodel to share with us?  Something fun and creative?  

Let's start sharing.  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back to this post so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the individual blog post itself, not your blog as a whole.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  And don't forget to invite your readers to join in as well.

So let the party begin!

*Linked to these parties.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Menu Monday 5/31-6/6

EEEKKK!!!!  How did June sneak up on us already?  We just came out of the rain this weekend, very unusual for us.  I think that's why I don't feel prepared.  Have to wrap my mind around this change in seasons.

Oatmeal and bananas
Yogurt and apple
Cottage cheese and fruit
Pancakes with rhubarb compote (coming tomorrow)
Blueberry crumb cake

Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches
Homemade frozen burritos
Fancy salads
Fruit, string cheese, snack crackers, applesauce

Monday: BBQ Kebabs with a nice pasta salad,

Tuesday: Taco Salad, fresh fruit

Wednesday: Spaghetti, green salad

Thursday: Enchiladas in the Crockpot, fresh fruit

Friday: Spinach Calazone, broccoli slaw

Saturday: BBQ chicken, pea salad

Sunday:  Kids at friends
Dave and I at staff meeting

Fresh fruit shake
Low fat cranberry oatmeal bars

Lee's To Do List

These are some great last minute Teacher's Gift ideas (@ Women Living Well).  Easily adaptable to other occasions as well.

I'd love to make some of the Apricot Scone Mix (@Whimsy Love) just to have on hand.  What a great company dish.

Here"s a great Toddler dress from Shirt (@KOJO Designs).  Super cute and worth your time.

We made these Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes (@ Kraft Recipes) awhile back and they got rave reviews.  You'll love them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yes, your children will eat fish.. and so will you! Part Five

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking forward to having some yummy Parmesean Tilapia for dinner.  It's quickly become a favorite dish in our house.  But as my husband and I were talking, we were both craving something bold with lots of flavor.  So that's when I started searching around for a blackened seasoning recipe and this is what I came up with.

Blackened Cajun Fish
1 serving

1 Tbsp Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Oregano

Mix all spices together and store in jar.

To prepare fish:
I again used Tilapia.  First, I rinsed the fillet and patted it dry.  Then I rubbed a little olive oil on each side of the fish and then rubbed some spice mix on each side.  As much as you like.  The more, the spicier.  First I seared one side of the fillet and then flipped it to finish cooking.  If your fillet is very thick, turn the heat down, cover, and continue cooking through.

*Recipe adapted from Cajun Cooking

This was so yummy, but I must admit we didn't try it on the kids.  I only had two fillets in the house and was afraid it would be too spicy for them.  They had tomato soup instead.  Oh well!  Dave and I both loved it.  I made extra spicy mix that night and we'll be eating this again soon.

For more fish recipes, check out Shrimp Stir fry, Shrimp Quesadillas, Fish Tacos with Lemon Butter Sauce, and Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia.

For more Frugal Friday tips, check out Life as Mom.
*Linked to Tatertots and Jello:Weekend Wrap up Party.

Summer Sanity Saver List

EEEKKKK!!!  There's only four more days of preschool.  And since Noah doesn't go on Fridays, that means... gasp... there's only three more days of preschool.  Now don't get me wrong I'm excited to have him home, but the prospect of a full summer stretching out before us puts me into a semi-state of panic.  How will I keep us all busy?  How will I keep us all from crashing in front of the TV all day?  Or worse yet, wandering through Target buying things I really don't need?

So in my panic a few night ago, I sat down and started a Summer Sanity Saver List.  I tried to come up with all the normal, unusual, and fun activities I could come up with.  Oh, yeah, and I also had to consider that we usually hit 110 degrees in the first week.

I knew all the usual stuff about spending the summer at the pool and lake, but wanted to come up with some other ideas too for when we just can't stand the heat or just need to crash at home.  Here's what I've come up with so far:

Minimal prep:
Teach Me Mommy lessons
Reading lessons
Chapter book
Water balloons
Go for ice cream
Make stove top popcorn or smores
Lay out under the stars
Visit the butcher
Visit a bakery
Go to the library
Frisbee, hula hoop, jump rope
Dollar store crafts
Press flowers/ garden
Paint pet rocks
Play with bubbles
Make lemonade
Have picnic breakfast
Marble or finger painting
Seasonal crafts (4th of July, etc)

A few hours:
Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Preschool Water Play hour
Pack for lunch at the park
Pack for the Fantasy Fountain water park
Dollar movies
Go bowling
Make homemade ice cream
Tour the fire dept
Go to the Bounce House
Go to Chuck E Cheese
Wash the car
Invite a friend over for movie night
Themed dinner nights
Scavenger hunt
Go to the YMCA pool
Gym lessons
Camp out on the trampoline

Full day trips:
Pack for swimming at the lake
Tour the tortilla factory
Go camping
Tour a olive packing plant?
Go berry picking
Go to Lassen park
Go to Castle Craggs

We'll also be taking swim lessons and spending a few days at the beach.  Plus fireworks on the 4th.  Anything else I'm not thinking of?  How do you keep your kids from vegging or driving your crazy all summer?

For more Frugal Friday tips, check out Life as Mom.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Still "LOST?"

I do a lot of reading.  A LOT OF READING.  And as the days have unfolded since the LOST finale, the whole world seems to be abuzz with opinions.  That's a lot of information to sift through.  While poking around today, I came across a few articles I though you all might be interested in reading.  Some different takes on the finale and lots of different views.  Some I'd agree with, some I wouldn't.  But I'll leave that for you to decide.

The final LOST review: sweet, fun, Christian

Totally "LOST" Recap

"LOST:" Step into the Light

As for myself, I continue to mull over the idea of community, something that God had been working on in my own life prior to this finale.  Something that's been coming up a lot lately and has only been stirred up more by this show.  Now, I have no theories about where our LOSTIES went after their departure from the church.  Whether Heaven, an afterlife, back to the Island, I don't know.  (Personally I wouldn't have been too disappointed had I seen the Island on the other side of those doors)  However, I am struck by the idea that it was this community that mattered the most.  With all the unanswered questions, all the polar bears and uncorked holes, LOST was at it's core a study in humanity, people, and in the end, it was these people IN their relationships that survived.  Isn't this how we were all sucked into LOST in the first place, by understanding them as people and how they worked together?  After all "Live together, Die alone."  

Today I found myself reflecting on the words of John Locke as he stated, "It's never been easy (to believe)" (Season One).  Still at the end, it was Jack who truly believed and I can only conclude that change came about as a result of his community.  The people that we surround ourselves with day to day will change our view of Christ, our view of belief, and will ultimately change us.  It is through our community that we will grow, love, live, and, on day, die.

While I would be hesitant to draw all my theology from a TV show, even one as fascinating as LOST, I think there's a lot we could learn from this finale, perhaps even this season if I look back on it more.  What is the meaning of true community and how do we find it?  Can we find it at all or must it be developed?  What in us must be developed to make it a reality?  How do we convert this Sideways/Island dwelling/ soul seeking idealism into the real world and allow our surrounding humanity to become community?

These questions and more are tumbling through my head.  Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Freezer Cooking???

Each month FishMama at Life as Mom hosts a Freezer Cooking Festival.  Each month, it sneaks up on me and I think, "I wish I would have done that."  Each month.

So yesterday I was thinking, "Hey that's coming up.  Maybe I should get involved this month."

Nothing too crazy.  With two little ones underfoot, I can't imagine getting too much done.  But it would be nice to have a few things in the freezer.  Would it save me any money?  Would it save me any time?

So my question for you today is:

Have you ever tried freezer cooking?

Did it work for you?

How did you get started?

Is there an easy way to dip my feet in and try it out once?

What do you think?

*For more Works for Me tips, check out We Are THAT Family.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Oh, I love me some Jalapeno Poppers.  What's not to love?  Hot, spicy, creamy, gooey, cheesy....
Oh, my!  My mouth is drooling just thinking about it.  

I don't eat them a lot and I'm going to be totally truthful here.  As much as I try to eat healthy, it's not the fried coating that deters me from them.  If anything, that fried coating calls me toward them.  No, it's both a combination of the artery clogging reality as such treats and unfortunately, the pocketbook reality.  Last week, my son and I popped into a local fast food joint, a true rarity, and I was craving these munchies.  $2 for 3 of them.  Are you kidding me?  

So I was determined to find a way to make my own.  You could deep fry these, but I was trying to stay half way healthy so this is what I came up with.

Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Approx. 14 Jalapenoes
1/2 block cream cheese (4oz)
Approx 6 oz cheddar cheese
1/2 white onion

Mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and diced onion. Slice the jalapenoes in half and seed.  Then stuff the jalapeno shells with cream cheese mixture.  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 min.  

They were so yummy!  Our jalapenoes ended up not being that hot so I let me 4 year old try them and he loved them.  I'm hoping to try out some new flavor combinations as the summer goes on.  Can you imagine these with bacon?  Or pepper jack cheese?  Or on the grill?

They were yummy, yummy, oh, so delicious and I hope you enjoy them, too.  Let BBQ season begin.

*Linked to these parties.
*Linked to Tatertots and Jello: Weekend Wrap up Party

LOST: The Finale

*Disclaimer: if you've not watched the finale from 5/23, discontinue reading.  Post contains spoilers.

--Christian Shepard's casket finally arrives and Desmond signs for it.  Desmond and Kate talk, as he tells her: "No one can tell you why you're here, Kate...I wanna leave."

--Jack seems to find what he's been searching for.  And Kate must let him go.  Jack says that the Island is the only thing that he hasn't ruined.

--Sawyer surprises Locke/Smokie with the news that they are no long candidates.  But as he walks aways, Smokie discovers Vincent's tracks.  Vincent is with Desmond, Rose, and Bernard.  Rose says they don't get involved.  So after Desmond eats, he needs to move on.  In that moment, Locke/Smokie and Ben show up.  Smokie says Demond has to come or he will kill Bernard and Rose.  Smokie says Desmond WILL do what he wants. 

--Desmond surprises Smokie by guessing where they are going.  Miles tries to stay in radio contact with Ben, after he finds Richard.  So we discover that Ben hasn't completely turned to the dark side yet.  Miles and Richard continue on to blow up the plane.  

--Sideways Sun has a flash of Juliette and the ultrasound.  Then Jin remembers as well.  

--Jack and Smokie meet across a field.  Jack says, "We're all going to the same place."  Sawyer: "Then what?" Jack: "Then it ends."

--Richard get his first gray hair and tells Miles: "I just realized I want to live."

--Jack tells Desmond: "What happened, happened."  We take this as a moment of disbelief, but turns out to be telling us, "This is happening.  This is real."

--In the sideways reality, Sayid and Shannon are reunited in remembrance, and Boone comes back as well.

--Kate delivers Aaron and it's in this moment that she and Claire both remember.  Interesting to note that it was Aaron who awoke Kate, not Jack or Sawyer.  It was motherhood that defined her, not a man.

--Eloise confronts Desmond and asks if he's going to take Daniel.  Desmond says no and for a moment, I feel bad for Eloise.  She seems to be caught as much as all of them.  What is this mysterious pull and information that she's always had on the Island?

--Locke recovers instantly from surgery and as he moves his toes, he remembers.  But Jack only remembers for a second.  Locke says to Jack: "I hope someone does for you what you just did for me."

--Ultimately we see Jack kill Locke/Smokie on the Island and he returns to restore the light as the others escape.  Jack tells Hurley that he was chosen just to restore the light, but it was Hurley that was always meant to protect the Island.  As Jack descends into the cave, Hurley recruits Ben as his #2 in command.  Ben encourages Hurley to run the Island his way, "take care of people," re-write the rules.  

--In the sideways reality, Sawyer and Juliette are finally reunited in the most powerful scene of the series.  This scene was full of past references: "It worked." "We could go dutch."  "I had ya."  When Juliette died at the beginning of the season, she said they were in LA having coffee.  Looks like she was right.   An epic relationship for an epic show.  Flawed, unlikely, perfect.  Had me crying like a baby.

--Ben and Locke reunite at the funeral and Ben apologizes to Locke, to which Locke forgives him.  Reminds me of when Michael said the people on the Island were seeking forgiveness.  Ben says it means more to him than Locke can know.  But still Ben waits.  Hurley tells him he was a good #2, and Ben tells Hurley he was a great #1.  What is Ben waiting for?  If the rules have changed, could Ben still be alive protecting the Island?  Or is he simply waiting for Alex to remember?  In the scene a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but think that Rousseau, Alex and Ben would make a great family, if not a little twisted.

--All of Jack's memories come together as he touches his father's coffin.  Interesting that it wasn't when he kissed Kate.  Perhaps it has something to do with how he always felt he was in his father's shadow, how the Island finally made him grow up in a sense.  His father tells him that he is dead, they all are, dying at different times.  That this is a place they all created to find each other, to remember, to let go.  And as an audience, we are in a sense being told to let go.  

--In this funeral scene, Christian opens the back door for them to move on, and all we see is light.  Can I just throw in my two cents worth and say, I would have loved to have seen the Island on the other side of those doors.  But as viewers, we were again left with no definites.

--And some last notes to an epic show:
--I'm ok with the unanswered questions, but I truly missed seeing at least Miles and Richard in that final scene.  I loved the relationship that was developed between Sawyer and Miles and felt as though he was an integral part of the cast.  And what about Frank?
--The sense of community developed, particularly in that last scene, is so... speaks to the sense of community we all build as human beings, especially Christians, in an effort to truly live.  Very rich and a lot could be written about that one scene alone.
--Did not like the all roads lead to heaven bit.
--Scene with Sawyer and Juliette,... still can't get over it.  Best written and acted scene ever.
--As for our LOSTIES who left on the plane...  Perhaps they returned to another "time" and reinvented themselves, living out the rest of their lives in relative harmony.  I'd like to think so.  

I was a little sad at the end at first.  I wanted a joyous happy reunion with everyone alive and off the Island.  I wasn't too happy with the Purgatory bit.  But after thinking about it, I realized I got exactly what I wanted.  A reunited, forgiven, restored cast... relationships as they were meant to be... people reunited by the experiences they had... community... closure.

What a crazy end to a wild ride!  Still churning over details, but satisfied with what's been left.

Good-bye, Dear Friends!

Made by Me Monday

Wow!  What a crazy weekend.  The kids and I took off on Thursday afternoon for home while Dave was set to go to a men's retreat this weekend.  However, I got a call Friday from Dave saying he'd come down with Lydia's brochitis.  Poor guy ended up spending the weekend at home and only spending a little time at the retreat on Saturday.

As for the kids and I, we went to my mom's for her retirement party on Friday night.  We had a wonderful time visiting with family and many of her co-workers.  It was a great party and I'm so happy for her.  She only has 8 working days left and is then off on an Alaskan cruise.  It's sure to be a spectacular vacation and I'm sure she'll enjoy it.

Seems like it was a whirlwind trip and I'm exhausted.  Between traveling this weekend and staying up for LOST, I'm feeling like I'm in the middle of a Monday morning.  I did some yummy cooking and baking while I was there and I'll post recipes and pictures as the week goes on.

What have you been up to this week?  Some yummy recipe to share with us?  A new project you've been working on?  A great creative tip?  

Let's start sharing!  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back to this post so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the individual blog post itself, not your blog as a whole.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  And don't forget to invite your readers to join in as well!

*Linked to these parties

Menu Monday 5/24-5/30

Simple menu this week.  I'm stuck.... ideas?

Oatmeal and bananas
Orange smoothies
Yogurt and fruit
Eggs and toast
Pancakes w/ rhubarb strawberry compote

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Cool Coucous salad
Green salad with salmon
String cheese
Carrots and dip
Celery and peanut butter
Fruit, wheat thins, applesauce

Monday: Orzo with Shrimp and veggies

Tuesday: Lentil Tacos

Wednesday:  Crockpot Enchiladas

Thursday: Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Friday: Veggie Pizza

Saturday:  BBQ with bean salad and fruit

Sunday: Eggplant Lasagna

Chocolate Peanut Butter cake

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lee's To Do List

I love this Tipsy Planter (@ Dollar Store Crafts) and hope to make one some day soon.  Isn't it cute?

My husband would die for this Mocha Hot Fudge (@Joy the Baker).  Coffee and Chocolate... he'd be in heaven.

These Pop Cans to Roses (@ Not Just Paper and Glitter) are stunning.  Kind great birthday gift, gorgeous bridal shower present, or just something for yourself.

What a great idea to throw an American Girl/Pioneer Party (@ One Charming Party)!  So original!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Did I tell you that I'm going home this weekend?  Quick trip... in fact, we leave this afternoon right around nap time.  The kids won't nap the whole way, but they will a little bit.  And with a three hour drive ahead of us, every little bit helps.

My mom is retiring on June 3rd.  After over 30 years of employment at the U.S. Forest Service, she's finished.  So this weekend is her retirement party.  Sure it's a little early, but with the holiday weekend coming up, she's anxious to celebrate her time at the Forest Service.

While I was there recently, I took a few photos of my hometown.  I grew up in a small Northern California town, population of about 500.  When I was growing up, most of my friends' parents worked in the logging industry.  It's always been a small town, but I love it.  I love the peace and quiet of it all, the predictability of the days, knowing who your neighbors are, playing with cousins, and being surrounded by the outdoors.  My days were spent playing outside, helping my grandma in the garden, swimming in the summer, playing softball, and building forts.

I've had people ask me what I did there... wasn't I bored... didn't I hate growing up in a small town.  I often come away shocked by such conversations.  Until I realized it's a whole other world that most people just don't understand.  I grew up having the ability to entertain myself.  I was outside all the time. And as I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the lessons of preserving and using what we had available to us.

I've often thought of writing a series of post on small town living, but I'm not even sure where I would begin.  It's so engrained in who I am that I often find it hard to look at from an outsider's point of view.  Why wouldn't everyone just understand what it's like to pick blackberries and sell them by the side of the road?  Or how exciting it is to have a mountain lion walk by your front porch?  Or how much fun it is to play in the creek bed on a hot spring afternoon?  All experiences I've had and yet have a hard time putting into words.

So while words fail me, I'll leave you with just a glimpse into the small town that I grew up in:
The small elementary school school that I spent Kindergarten and First Grade in.

The Post Office and Store next door

The bridge that connects both sides of town

The church that I attended and later did schooling from Second Grade through Eighth Grade

So what about you?  What do you remember about your hometown?  Was it small, large, or in between?  What made it special to you?

*Linked to Kelly's Korner

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

LOST (6x16)--Let's Recap

*Disclaimer--If you've not watched the episode from 5/18, discontinue reading.  Post contains spoilers.

--On the Island, Jack and Kate are alone when he is stitching her up. They both come to the conclusion that they have to kill Locke/Smokie.  Our LOSTIES decide to start looking for Desmond as Smokie wants him.

--Flash sideways to see Desmond watching Locke. Ben recognizes him and flashes back to the Island as Desmond beats him. Desmond says he's trying to get Locke to "let go", before speeding away.  Ben and Locke are discussing the incident with Desmond.  When Ben tells Locke, Locke pauses, remembering Jack's words.  Locke goes to see Jack.  He tells Jack the whole story.  We find Locke is still the "Man of Faith" as he starts to put the pieces of the puzzle together.  He concludes that Jack is supposed to fix him; he's ready to get out of his chair.

--We find Ben, Richard, and Ben wandering in the jungle looking for the barracks. They are looking for explosives to blow up the plane. Miles starts joking about the timeline and suddenly senses Alex. Richard confirms that where he buried her. Ben thanks him.  They find Widmore and his right hand girl in Ben's house. Widmore claims the Jacob invited him back to the Island.  They find out that Lock/Smokie is coming and they have to hide.  Richard tries to talk with him, but ends up dead.  Ben says he'll kill anyone that Smokie tells him to and turns on Widmore, revealing his whereabouts.

--Desmond shows up at the police station and turns himself in to Sawyer and Miles.  He ends up in a cell with Sayid, next to Kate.  And our LOSTIES continue to collide.

--Sawyer blames himself for the deaths that have occurred.  Jack said Smokie couldn't kill them so Sawyer believes he did it.  Hurley spots young Jacob in the jungle, who asks for the ashes.  Jacob runs off and Hurley discovers older Jacob in the jungle.  Jacob burned them, saying when they are gone, Hurley won't see him anymore.

--In a touching moment, Alex and her mom, Rousseau invite Ben to dinner in the sideways reality.  Rousseau tells Ben that he is the closest thing to a father that Alex has ever had.

--Locke needs something from Widmore and threatens Penny trying to get the information.  Widmore confesses that he brought Desmond back because of his resistance.  Ben kills him before he can tell Locke anything more.

--All our LOSTIES run into Jacob.  They all see and hear him out.  Jacob tells them: "sit down and I'll tell you why you were chosen, what you need to know about protecting the Island... one of you will do it."  Jacob admits that he made a mistake (killing MIB).  Sawyer asks, "Why us?"  Jacob confronts them with their "flaws," saying: you were like me,... alone,... looking,... you needed this place.  Kate's name was crossed out because she became a mom.  The job: "Protect the light."  "Protect it from him."  Jack asks: "Is it even possible to kill him?"

--Jacob says that he brought several of them back to give them a choice, something he never had.  But someone has to choose or it will end badly.  Jack volunteers, "This is why I'm here."  Jacob tells him where the light is...  Jacob "blesses" the water (turning it to wine) and tells Jack to drink it, from a cup. Sawyer comments the Jack has a "God complex."  So much Biblical symbolism in this scene.

--In the sideways reality, Sayid, Kate, and Demond are shipped out the police station.  Kate tries to get Sawyer to let her go; he knows she is innocent.  Desmond asks if they are ready to get "out of there" and asks them to trust him.  "After I set you free, I'm going to ask you to do something, promise me you'll do it."  They promise (jokingly)... the driver ( Anna Lucia) let's them go... Hurley pays her off... he recognizes her, but Desmond says, "she's not ready yet."  Kate goes with Desmond (to Daniel's concert/ at Mile's dad's/ Dr. Cho's museum), Sayid with Hurley.

--Ben and Locke go to the well.  Widmore told Locke that Desmond was a failsafe, a last resort to keep Locke/Smokie there.  So Ben asks Locke why he is looking for Desmond.  Locke is going to use Desmond to help him blow up the Island.

--Favorite line of the night:
Ben asks Richard if they want to just disable the plane or blow it to hell to which Richard replies: "blow the plane to hell" --(indication of MIB/Smokie/ Locke's true identity?),

--But honestly there were so many great quotes tonight.  You have to check out Shannon's post.

--Ok, so what happened to Miles in this whole scene?  He just disappeared...

--Is this concert one where Jack's son will be performing as well?

--If the Island ends up under water (as we saw in the premier), is Locke successful in destroying the Island? After all, doesn't Sun see Locke in the hospital and recognize him as evil? Is MIB successful in escaping?

And my next question is, what in the world am I going to do on Tuesday night from now on?  I've turned into "that crazy lady with the cat who watches LOST."  I may be in some serious therapy after Sunday night.

For more intelligent conversation on LOST, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

 Well, it's nearing the end of May and we're still having cool weather here.  Very unusual for our part of California, but I'm not complaining.  I know those 100 degree temperatures will be here soon enough.

Our garden is doing well.  I have mixed feeling about it.  I've been able to keep everything alive so far (except the poor watermelon plant that was eaten by the snails).  But I'm still waiting for those little blossoms that bring a promise of life... and harvest.

Our little strawberries are trucking along.  They kids have been excited to pick a few after dinner each night.  It's only a few, but really the strawberries were meant as a gardening lesson for the kids more than anything.  And they are wonderful with ice cream.  As my husband said, they are true wild strawberries, not as big and sweet at the store bought ones, but yummy nonetheless.

The peppers and tomatoes are doing well.  In fact, there may be a few blossoms on the cherry tomatoes, just no fruit yet.  My big tomato plant is green and happy, but not growing as quickly as I'd like.  Not sure if it's lack of sun or just lack of a green thumb.

We had to restart our peas (again a victim of the snails), but my starters are looking good and there were a few original plants that survived so I feel confident we'll have peas before the summers out.  The lemon tree is late blooming this year as well.  I think part of this stunted growth must be the cooler summer we're having.  But the roses are loving it.  I love walking out into the back yard to that burst of color.  The lady that lived here before definitely loved color and they are gorgeous.

I have a few herbs going, but not holding out a lot of hope for them.  Our friendly neighborhood blue jay is loving the seeds and I'm not sure I can save them.  That's the drawback to be a refuge for the neighborhood birds.  But all in all I'm happy with how things are going.  It's a learning year for me and I'm excited to see how things go.

And after all, we'll be adding more next year as we've promised an orange tree to Lydia when she potty trains and she's getting aweful close.

So how are your gardens going?  Any successes to share?  Any lessons learned?  How's it going?

*Linked to these Parties.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

As promised in yesterday's Made by Me Monday, I have been making this wonderful Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler.  We're always trying to buy in season and since rhubarb is in season, I've been baking with it alot.  Tonight I'm hoping to tackle some muffins and compote.  

This is a dessert recipe that I picked up from the Martha Stewart website several years ago and I've adapted it as time and ingredients have been available.  I just made it this past Mother's Day for my mom and grandma.  But when I opened the pantry, low and behold, I had nothing that I needed.  So as most of my recipes have been lately, this was an evolving process.  

I've included the original recipe as well as my notes.  I really hoping you enjoy this one as much as we do.  

And if not, you can bring the leftovers to my house.  I won't even pretend to not want them.

Berry Rhubarb Cobbler
1 pint berries (I've used strawberries and raspberries)
1 1/2 lbs rhubarb, cut into pieces
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. tapioca (can substitute cornstarch)
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp and pinch of salt
1 c. flour
1/3 c. cake flour (not self-rising) ( I just lump all my flour together)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (I omitted the last time)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3/4 c plain yogurt (or sour cream or buttermilk--I've used both yogurt and buttermilk)
2-3 Tbsp heavy cream
sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss together berries, rhubarb, 1 1/4 c. sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.  Stir to combine.  Let stand 15 min, stirring 2-3 times.  In medium bowl, whisk flours, 1/4 c sugar, baking powder, soda, lemon zest and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.  Cut in butter.  Add yogurt and stir until moist.  Will be thick.  Dollop on filling, leaving a border around the dish.  Brush dough with cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Bake, rotating 1/2 through until biscuits are brown, approx. 50-60 min.  If browning too quickly cover with foil.  Cool up to 1 hr.

This is so yummy!  We serve it with some vanilla ice cream, perfect compliment.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to invest in a rhubarb bush next year.  We're flying through it in our kitchen.

What's your favorite seasonal treat?

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Made by Me Monday

Oh, what a long weekend!  If you haven't been following the Facebook Page, my husband took Lydia to the ER on Saturday morning while I stayed home with Noah.  She'd been feeling yucky off and on all week.  But after a sleepless night on Friday, we decided we had to have her looked at.  Even if it was just a cold.  

So a few hours, they returned home, only to let us know that it was in fact a huge deal and a very good thing that she had gone to the ER.  The verdict: double ear infection and something between bronchitis and pneumonia.  Wow!  Poor kid had been suffering through that?  

Since she's come home from the doctor, she's definitely been milking all the juice and cartoons she can get out of it.  But I can't blame her.  She's my baby.  I just keep looking at her and thinking about how she must of felt last week.  So little and so vulnerable.  

Needless to say, it was an eventful weekend, but not a productive one.  I did get one small craft done this week.  Probably something I'll wait to put up next week.  And a yummy Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler recipe coming up tomorrow.  I've got my tummy rumbling just thinking about it.  It's so yummy!  So you'll have to come back to see that one.  

The plan is to stick close to home these next couple of days.  Maybe venture out tomorrow just to pick up groceries and some more rhubarb.  Dying to make some Rhubarb Compote.  Yeah, seems like a good plan for tomorrow since we're supposed to have rain... hum...

Anyways... I took a tangent.  What have you been up to this week?  Some yummy recipe to share with us?  A new project you've been working on?  A great creative tip?  

Let's start sharing!  Write a blog post highlighting your project with a link back to this post so that others can join in on the fun.  Then link up below to the individual blog post itself, not your blog as a whole.  You can post more than one project; just add more than one link.  And don't forget to invite your readers to join in as well!

Menu Monday 5/17-5/23

Oh, what a weekend!  Let's not relive that one.  (For more info, check out the facebook page).  Sorry I don't have much for you right now, but there'll be more this week.  Now on to our menu...

Cottage Cheese and fruit
Oatmeal and Bananas
Cream of Wheat

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Cool Couscous Salad
Apple slices
Celery and peanut butter
String Cheese

Monday: Fish and Broccoli

Tuesday: Thai Chicken Wraps

Wednesday:  Enchiladas in the Crockpot

Thursday: Leftovers for Daddy

Friday-Saturday: Mommy and Kids at Grandma's for Retirement Party
Daddy at Men's Retreat

Sunday: Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Fruit Dip and Homemade Chips
Black Bean Hummus and crackers
Magic Peanut Butter Middles

Lee's To Do List

I may have to take up more sewing to make one of these T-Shirt Skirts (@ Epicurean Style). Can you imagine how cute this would be on Lydia?

These Felt Matryoshka Dolls (@ Let's Go Fly a Kite) are a great idea. There's gotta be a market out there for these.

I don't have a entryway, but if I ever did, I'd go for making this DIY Chandelier (@ My House of Giggles). So feminine and so pretty.

Noah and I would die for these Apple and Blue Cheese Turkey Burgers (@ Family Balance Sheet). Gonna have to go on my menu soon.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

For the Love of Books

Do your kids like reading as much as mine do?  I swear I can't get out of the library without a huge stack of books, 90 % of which are usually from the children's section.  I usually have to put a cap on how many books they can check out.  It's crazy!
That on top of the fact that my mom buys them books all the time.  In fact, I'm in the market for a new children's bookcase.  It seems the one that has traveled with us in all our moves just wasn't prepared to withstand the stack of books my children have collected.  
Oh, well.  I suppose there are worse problems to have.
These are just a few of the favorite in our house right now...
Honestly I would say anything by Dr. Suess is fantastic.  At least anything I've come across.  I love his work and love all the ideas and concepts that my children have been exposed to through his books.  This one in particular is a favorite.  Truth is, I've learned a lot from this book as it travels through different types of dinosaurs and some of their characteristics.
Again anything in the Veggie Tales book collection, but we like this one in particular because it addresses using good manners in an age appropriate manner.  Geared toward the preschool set, there are two groups of peas with very differing behaviors.  The rhythm and rhyme is wonderful and my kids both just loved it.

And for the preteen, who can forget Anne?  Although my daughter's far from being ready for these books, I can't wait till I can share them with her.  Truly classic.

So do you have any favorite childhood books to share with us?
Any favorite books that you read now?
Share your thoughts and hopefully we can all develop a "to read" list that will keep us busy for some time to come.

*I'd like to start a book club book soon.  Something Christian living/ parenting/ or global events.  Any suggestions on titles?

One of the Reasons I Celebrate Mother's Day

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LOST (6x15)--Let's Recap

*Disclaimer: if you've not watched the episode from 5/11, discontinue reading.  Post contains spoilers

--Our episode opens to a shipwrecked boat and a pregnant woman (Claudia) who washes ashore alone on the Island. Another woman comes upon her and helps her. We learn that they are both alone, both came to the Island by "accident," and the second woman delivers the baby. The baby (Jacob) comes first and then another (MIB). Jacob is wrapped in white while MIB/Smokie is wrapped in black. The midwife acts strange and when Claudia asks to see the second baby, this strange woman kills her.

--The boys grow and start playing backgammon. (Another reference to Season One where Locke told Walt that neither one was good or bad.)  Their "mother" seems to sense everything. She knows who comes and goes, what game they were playing, etc. She tells MIB that he is "special." But MIB desires to know what is beyond the Island. And his mother tells him that "dead" is something he will never have to worry about. They are alone.

--As the boys are hunting, they come across other people. The "mother" says "they are not like us... they don't belong here... we are here for a reason... it's not time yet" ... Then she says the same thing that MIB said, (in the close of Season Five) "they come, they destroy, it happens again and again..."

--She tells the boys that she made it so they can never hurt each other. This must be "the rule" that Jacob and MIB keep talking about. (reference to in the close of Season Five)  Again, why Smokie cannot hurt the Candidates?

--She takes them to a glowing orb and tells them, "this is why we are here." She tells them that it's Light. They are not to go in there, and are to keep everyone from it. She tells the boys, "there's a little bit of light in everyone. If they find it, they will want more... and if they get more, they will eventually destroy it." One of the boys will have to protect it after she's done.

--Boys are playing backgammon again... MIB tells Jacob that one day he can make up his own game with his own rules... MIB sees Claudia, but Jacob cannot. This is interesting.  It seems to connect with the fact that MIB is "special."  Claudia tells MIB that she will show him where he came from, across the Island. He comes upon a village; it's the people from his mother's original boat. Claudia tells him it's how we came from across the sea. Claudia tells him the truth of where he came from.

--MIB tells Jacob the truth. Jacob starts to fight MIB till their "mother" pulls him off. MIB confronts her, but Jacob chooses to stay. Their "mother" tells him that he will never be able to leave the Island.  How has she made this possible?

--"Mother" says she killed Claudia to keep her from taking the boys back, so they wouldn't become bad. Jacob says she loves MIB more, but she says she loves them differently. Jacob agrees to stay with her.

--The boys keep in touch as the grow up. MIB find the villagers to be "bad:" greedy, selfish, etc. He says they are a means to an end: he's determined to leave the Island. They found the electromagnetic fields and something in one of them. MIB asks Jacob to come and Jacob doesn't want to leave.

--MIB says he couldn't find the Light and that is why he started digging. He's resentful that "Mother" wouldn't share more of it with him. So he shared it with his people. They found it. MIB is going to attach the wheel to a system that channels the Water and the Light. "Mother" knocks him out.

--"Mother" goes to Jacob and tells him "It's time." She says she said good-bye to MIB because she had no choice; Jacob must protect the Light. It's the source/heart of the Island. He must never go down there.  "It's worse than death."  By drinking the liquid, he promises to protect the Island until he find a replacement. Jacob says that she wanted it to be MIB, but she says she realizes now that it was always meant to be him. He doesn't want to, but finally gives in. She says, "Now, you and I are the same."  Kind of makes you wonder just how crazy Jacob is, huh?

--MIB wakes to find "The Well" is caved in, his village is burned down, everyone is dead. He returns to their camp and kills his mother. Before she dies, he asks why she wouldn't let him leave. She says because she loves him, then thanks him for killing her. It would seem that she too could not take her own life, just as the Candidates cannot.  Jacob comes to find that MIB killed her. MIB tries to tell Jacob about the village, but instead Jacob takes him to the Light and throws him in. MIB becomes Smokie and Jacob instantly regrets what he's done.  Again, I'm seriously questioning Jacob's sanity.  Could we have an Oedipus Rex complex on our hands?

--MIB's body is further down stream, Jacob finds him and buries him in the "Adam and Eve cave" with Mother. This is where Jack and Kate found the black and white stone in Season One. It's where Jacob lays the stones now. MIB buried in black, "Mother" buried in white.

--So who is good and who is bad?  Jacob trying to escape his fate as protector the Island and kills his brother in his rage?  Or MIB

--While I certainly don't agree with everything Jacob's done, it would seem as though the world is better off with Smokie/ MIB be trapped on the Island.  A victim of consequence, but crazy nonetheless.

--As Jacob would appear to be replaced by Jack, will someone replace MIB?  Hurley is the only other one who has spoken with dead people on the Island.  Desmond is the only one who calls anyone "Brother," the only name given to MIB in this episode.  Then again, maybe Desmond will replace Jacob as the protector, as indicated by his ability to withstand electromagnetism.  With only two episodes left, a mere three hours, I can only wonder how it will all turn out.

For more intelligent conversation on LOST, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday to the Best Mommy in the World!
We love you!

*Mom and I on Alaska Cruise 2005

*Mom and I on deck--Alaska 2005

*Me, Grandma, and Mom--Scrapbooking May 2009

*Grandma, Me, and Mom--Mother's Day 2010

*Grandma, Noah, and Mom--Mother's Day 2010

*Grandma, Noah, Lydia, and Mom--Mother's Day 2010

Preparing to Say Good-Bye...

Originally posted on the Disney Parks Blog--Lost Episode
*I had to squish the photo a little to get Charlie in... go check out the original.

"Make Do" Pasta

You ever start out with one recipe and find that you completely misplanned and have a totally different set of ingredients in the pantry? That's what happened to me a few days ago. And surprise of all surprises, "Make Do" Pasta was born.

As luck would have it, I was unable to find Orzo in my local grocery store. So on a whim, I picked up mini shell macaroni, hoping to get a similar texture. And that was all I needed, or so I thought.

Fast forward to a couple of nights later, trying to put together a quick pasta dinner and discovering I had nothing that the recipe called for. Well, I guess "nothing" would be a bit of a stretch, but it was looking pretty dismal. But the kids were hungry and what do you do at that point? Can't run to the store, so you just "make do."

I sauteed up some zucchini, red bell peppers, spinach and asparagus. Made them nice and tender then threw in some minced garlic for a few minutes. Boiled my pasta on the side. After everything was cooked, I dressed it with a little lemon juice, salt, pepper, and just a pinch of garlic powder.

Now here's the real clincher. The original recipe I was working with called for feta. But as much as I like feta, it's not something I generally keep on hand. So again, no ingredients. What have I been stocking in the kitchen lately? BLUE CHEESE!

I know there are people out there who HATE blue cheese. Or, so I've heard of them. My husband claims to be one of those people, but the minute he starts to go down that road, I tune him out. I prefer rather to believe that such people are merely mythical creatures. Or at least exist in a far off distant galaxy.

In my world, only lovers of blue cheese exist and therefore, revel in this dish.

Toss it all together and you have a scrumptious summer meal. I just love easy, light summer dishes like this one. Hope you do to!
*If you must substitute the blue cheese in this dish, do so with something truly flavorful, like tomato and basil feta. But please let me live in my fantasy world.

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