Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year


Well, it's time for new beginnings and all that - and time to reflect on the old. It's been a crazy year - full of fun, challenges and craziness. Frankly, I can't believe it's already 2010. I think this last year was the first year I came to terms that I'm very much closer to 40 than ever before - and . . . I'm aging. I truly am. I'd like to be above all that - but I'm not. I have to admit I'm not loving the crows feet and the neck wrinkles and the slower healing - and the creeping of the weight (the wrong way). I remember after I quit nursing I was the skinniest I've been in a long time - and it was nice! Unfortunately, those days are well behind me and all the size 6 jeans have been given to those luckier, smaller friends. I'm not saying I'm fat - but if I don't do something soon I could get there.

So on to the new year's resolutions:

1) Get more SLEEP! I hope to be in bed by 11:00 unless I'm doing something really fun or productive! No more vegging in front of the t.v. or computer past 11:00.

2) Write more - whether it's on the blog or elsewhere.

3) Organize my life. Get a better routine going so this house doesn't look like a hurricane hit all the time. Tackle the office.

4) Spend more quality time with the hub.

5) Better meal planning and try more new recipes.

6) and what almost everyone says right after the holidays - get in better shape. I know I won't ever be a gym rat - but I need to get more exercise!!

7) Start a team for the LiveStrong Challenge this June (and train for the bike ride - that would help #5 too)

What are YOUR resolutions? Yeah, I'm talking to you!

P.S. If you want to join our LiveStrong Team - let me know and I'll hook you up. You can run or ride and they had a few distances last year so there's something for everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baby Steps


Months ago I blogged about a clock that we purchased in hopes of getting Monkey to let us SLEEP! It's a handy little invention that has a built-in night light that you set to turn green at a specific time. This is supposed to let the kiddos who can't tell time when it's okay for them to start jumping on your bed - and when it's not. Well, it stayed in the box for a lot longer than I'd like to admit but a while back I finally got it out (after Monkey spied it) and set it up. He was pretty excited about it and helped choose the color to personalize it. It comes with rings you pop onto the clock face (blue, pink and yellow) and he chose pink - just like Santa spider.

It is also a learning clock - it has a mode where it asks questions and you can set it to show digital or analog or both. If you push a button it will tell you what time it is too. All in all a pretty cool product. But the green light - that's the ticket (or so we hoped) for sweet, sweet sleep.

You see, Monkey has never been one of those fab sleepers (that many of my friends are lucky enough to have birthed). He didn't really sleep through the night until he was two. He's pretty decent now but does like to wake up at the crack of dawn (or pre-dawn) and come in for snuggle time. For a while that was fine - he'd usually go back to sleep and it was really hard to muster the strength to get up and put him back to bed. But interrupted sleep adds up after a while - and the end result is a very cranky mommy. Thus the need for adhering to the green light!

I'm happy to report that this morning - green light nirvana was achieved! He must have been up and waiting because he came in at 7:01. After the requisite snuggle he said, "Mommy, I have to show you something - come see!" and on the shelf/headboard of his bed were all his sea creatures spread out. He had woken up, seen his light was yellow and played quietly until it turned green. (Something we have talked about ad nauseum when brainstorming on what he could do before his light turns green). I can only hope that this will continue (and I am prepared for the worst) - but what a great morning!!!


This picture was taken during "quiet time" at our cabin on Vashon.

Update 12/19: 3 days in a row he's waited for the green light! I shouldn't even type this as I might jinx it!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa Spider

We stood in the living room, surrounded by boxes scrawled with chicken scratches: "Tree", "Lights", "Garland", "Misc". I looked around the living room and the last vestiges of Monkey's Halloween crafts were still up. We agreed to take the jack'o'lantern pictures off of the window but decided to keep up the leaf collage (he made an excellent point that it was still Fall). We were almost cleared out and ready to bring out the holiday bling but then I reached up to take down the spider (made at preschool out of an egg carton, pipe cleaners and some googly eyes). That's when I heard the screech, "Noooooo! I want it to stay forever!" At first, I just couldn't understand (and I was tired and not really wanting to understand a crazed four-year-old). It could have easily become a power struggle (I mean I was REALLY tired) and then I realized - why can't it be there "forever"? In the big scheme of things I think a little spider (did I mention it's pink?) isn't a big thing. So we decided to make it a Santa spider. So I made a little hat, Monkey decorated it with his favorite thing in the world (glitter) and we glued a puff ball on the top. Santa spider now lives on the garland on the mantel - forever.

Photo credit goes to Monkey.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent Mania


So I haven't been as organized with the advent calendar this year (thus the cups in the first place). Last year I typed out cute little activities for almost every day ahead of time. This week I was lucky if I stuffed the cup before he woke up. This morning I had to distract him during breakfast and do a little surreptitious slam dunk with the loot. I caved and stuffed it with dinosaur tattoos as I didn't have any activity inspiration (or time) today. But yesterday was inspired (or so I thought).

On the first day we took out all the holiday books. We had a lot of fun reading all of them. Monkey will sit for hours listening to books. We read "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies" over and over and over and over. Monkey is enamored with the mouse since we saw the theatre version of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" a few weeks ago. In the book, the mouse strings a popcorn garland so I thought it would be fun to make one too (there's also one with popcorn and cranberries in "The Littlest Christmas Tree" so he wanted to make that). I didn't have any cranberries and Monkey didn't have any interest in going to the store so we kept it simple with just popcorn. We also don't have a popcorn popper so we went old school on the stove top. Well, let me tell you - stringing popcorn that's cooked on a stove ain't as easy as you'd think. The kernels are still stuck to most of the popcorn so it makes it really hard to get a needle through - and they're dry so there's a lot of breakage. Luckily, as with
any project, it's not about the end result to Monkey (and I had to remind myself of that when I was wanting to swear at all the broken popcorn). He thought it was really cool and enjoyed eating the popcorn just as much as making the garland. We finished a little over a foot and he decided (hallelujah) that it was long enough for the birds. So we donned our coats and hung the sad little thing on the tree out front. We plan to watch and see how long it lasts with birds, critters and weather. Tomorrow the activity is "go to Grammy and Grandpa's for the weekend and watch the Santa parade". That will be a big hit - and give me some time to come up with some stuff for the next few weeks (or maybe I'll put that off and nap) . . .

Update: This morning we watched as the crows devoured the last of the garland.


P.S. thanks to Kids Craft Weekly for linking to my little advent idea. I got 500+ hits the other day - craziness! If you haven't checked out her stuff out you should.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Adventure


I'm a procrastinator - always have been. So I'm usually no help to those who search blogs for crafty ideas. I'll post about them months later or too late to get it done - or not at all (you should have seen the cute witch hats we decorated for a preschool project). HOWEVER, you still have a day to complete this easy peasy project and have a fun way to count down the days with your kiddos.

Last year, I painstakingly folded origami cups and it was worth it (and really not that bad), but I didn't make them sturdy enough to be re-used (plus I wanted a little bigger pocket for loot). So I desperately tried to figure out a way I could make something quick, easy (cheap) and cute.

Voila! I present to you the quick & dirty advent calendar!

Materials you'll need to make your own:

Small cups: (I chose plain red and green punch cups) - found at Fred Meyer in the party section. They are 9 oz. I was hoping for smaller (the original idea in my head was with dixie cups) but I actually like the size now.


Numbers: I printed some in circles that I colored red and green on the computer - you could stamp or just simply write them on the cups with a pen. There are even easy number stickers you could use.

Ribbon: Joann's was having their 70% off ribbon sale yesterday - score! Or just use kitchen string or twine.

Clips: I used mini clothespins (leftover from last year's project) but you could use binder clips, paper clips, etc. You could even staple to the ribbon. I chose not to so we could take the cups down as we go. I plan to replace the empty spots on the ribbon with any drawings/projects Monkey makes during the month.

1) Affix numbers to the cups
2) Attach to the ribbon
3) Fill cups with messages, loot, etc.
4) Show to kiddies and have a fun time each morning checking out the new surprise!

I haven't figured out what will be in all the cups yet but some days will be a little treat (edible or a toy) and others will have a note about an activity we'll do that day.

Here are some I know I'll be using:

Note: Get out the holiday books
Note: Paint an ornament for the tree
Note: Go to Grammy & Grandpa's and watch the Santa parade
Note: Decorate the Christmas Tree
Note: Visit Winterfest
Note: Bake & decorate cookies
Note: go look at Christmas lights
Note: paint wrapping paper
Note: look under the tree for a surprise and we'll watch a holiday movie tonight (the surprise will be pj's for the whole fam)

"Stuff"
small dinosaurs
crazy straws (the kid loves them)
dinosaur tattoos
card game

Now go do it - it's fast and easy and a whole month of fun!

P.S. if you had to buy everything for this project it would be well under $10. Compare that with the Pottery Barn tree I've always coveted (and have thought of trying to make every year but then remember who I am!)

Involve your kids - get white cups and have them paint, draw or glue to decorate! I would have done that if I had thought ahead and Monkey wasn't at Grammy's this weekend.

If you like this - check out these great thank you cards and this easy Santa photo display.

P.S. Please share your results!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Crafting

Well, I've caught the bug again. Not H1N1 but the crafting bug. Of course it's a bit late - but I want to make another advent calendar this year. Last year's was a lot of fun (both to make and open) and the plan is to make it a tradition. If only I had made the origami cups a bit sturdier . . . I would suggest using ribbon for the handles if you make it but I didn't want to buy anything so I tried to use what I had in the house (lots of paper). Anyhoo, I've got a quick idea for this year's calendar and I'll be sure to share once it's done - hopefully prior to December 1st!

(Last year's folding fun)

I'm also excited to have a mantel this year - Mark finished it (mostly) over the summer and it's exciting to have somewhere to hang the stockings again. It also means I have some horizontal space to play with for decorating . . . agh! I was inspired by Amber over at Life and Times of Stella (check her out - she's funny and smart) to create a banner kind of like this. She hasn't blogged about it but I know she has all the materials just ready and waiting. Mine will be a bit simpler as again - I want to use up what I have in the house! I think I'll raid Monkey's glitter stash.

So that's what I'll be doing in the wee hours - what about you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Movember

I meant to post this prior to November - but it's not too late! Movember is an annual, month-long celebration of the moustache, highlighting men’s health issues - specifically prostate and testicular cancer.

If you've ever wanted to grow a mustache - here's a wonderful excuse that your partner can't dismiss. And if you're follicularly-challenged (I don't think that's a word but it should be) or mustache-phobic (understandable) you can support your mo-bros, raise awareness and donate to the cause! Feel free to join our team Mo Bikes.

Or donate to the cause here:

We got a bit of a late start as we had family pictures done on Monday (oops) so Mark had to shave off his fuzz and start over - so you can too! Really, it's not about the mo - it's about the conversation.

A Mo Bro starts Movember – the month formerly known as November – clean shaven, and grows a moustache all month long, garnering support from friends and family in the form of donations. What’s more, a Mo Bro is a walking billboard for the cause as his new look opens the door for him to talk about cancers affecting men – making the moustache a symbol, much like the pink ribbon is for breast cancer. Each Movember culminates in a Gala Partè in major cities around the globe where Mo Bros dress up to match their Mo, channeling the likes of Tom Selleck, Gandhi and Ron Burgandy, vying for the ultimate accolade: Man of Movember.

While growing a Mo is left to the guys, Mo Sistas (women who support their guys) form an important part of Movember by recruiting Mo Bros, helping to raise funds and attending the highly anticipated Gala Partés.

This Movember, the money raised in the U.S. will be split between the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation will use the money raised by Movember to fund research to find better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation will use the money raised by Movember to fund:
• the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance program which has the goal of improving survival rates and quality of life for young adults with cancer between the ages of 15 and 40.
• research initiatives to further understand the biology of adolescent and young adult cancers.

To date, Movember has raised $47 million globally making it the world’s largest charity event for men. Significantly, awareness of men’s health issues has improved with Movember helping to spread important health messages directly to millions of Mo Bros & Sistas around the world.

I challenge you to join us in changing the face of men's health.

For further information, visit Movember's official site.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fun Stealer

Looking for fun

I'm a fun stealer. A stealer of fun. Does that make me a bad mom? This is what I was accused of the other day by a scuzzy man I ran into on a street corner.

Let's back up.

It was the first day of preschool and my son and a couple of his buddies (and their moms) were getting pre-preschool doughnuts to celebrate. After the sugar infusion the boys were on the sidewalk banging on the newspaper machines and having general excitement overload. I was watching from the corner of my eye while trying to listen to my friends when a man came up to the boys and started chatting. They were out of earshot so I sidled over and jokingly said, "careful boys, don't break anything now." Or something innocuous (or so I thought) like that. Basically, I just wanted to inject myself into the conversation since I didn't know this man.

Later, I asked myself if it was because he was unwashed with wild hair, clutching a lot of bags . . . but that is just middle-class guilt clouding my vision. I know that I'd have done the same thing if he'd been in a suit.

After my comment, he wheeled around and said with complete disgust, "oh GREAT! You've just completely ruined their fun. You're just the kind of mom I'd want! They were exploring their world and you had to go and ruin it! What a horrible mother!!!" He continued to yell at me as he walked away down the sidewalk. I was taken aback of course. Confrontation always makes me sweat - and in this case, I had nowhere to place my emotions. I couldn't scream back at him (as I so wanted to do) because the kids were right there. So my fight or flight response just made me shake - good times! I even questioned myself for a minute - did I take away their fun? Am I a horrible mother? And then I really wanted to slap myself - because really that's what it comes down to. That is the mother experience in a nutshell. Constant questioning from external and internal sources - am I doing a number on my kid?

So here I was on a street corner being yelled at by a man with obvious issues and it was affecting me. This crazy guy was making me question myself and my parenting. Visibly flustered, I walked back over to my friends (they missed the whole exchange) and recounted the whole fun confrontation. One friend said something like, "Well, maybe if his mom had taken away a little more of his fun he'd be in a better place right now." We all laughed and my tension eased a bit. But later when I was reflecting on the whole experience, I couldn't stop thinking about that guy's poor mom. She was still being judged! I mean at some point can we be absolved? Or it it always going to be our (collective mom) fault?

Well, I for one will continue to be a proud stealer of fun.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dinosaur Mania

Monkey is loving the dinos these days (they pop up in all sorts of conversations) and I thought I'd share some of the winning books and toys. We were lucky enough to get some great used books from an older boy who also loved dinosaurs (and pirates but that's another post). Here are a few books that Monkey has really enjoyed, again and again and again and again . . .




The Colossal Book of Dinosaurs - Monkey really loves chapter books and this book is no exception. Each chapter is a "day in the life" story of a specific dinosaur. I really enjoyed learning right along with him about how all the featured dinos lived. It's nice because you learn about each dinosaur via a story - not just a list of dry facts.





Jane Yolen and illustrator Mark Teague have a whole series of "How Do Dinosaurs X" books. They are short and sweet - rhyming format. The first half asks if dinos do X (all the naughty/funny things you probably shouldn't do) and then at the end it changes to how dinos really act (very well of course). The rhymes are cute but the illustrations are really what I love in this series. Each dino is named somewhere on the page as well - and Monkey loves to find each one.
















When Dinosaurs Came With Everything - written by Elise Broach/illustrated by David Small

We stumbled upon this book eating breakfast - it was free in the Cheerios box. I have to say I love that program - we've gotten some great books out of it. A few weeks ago we found it at the library so we could see it in large format. This is a great story about a boy who goes on boring "errand day" with his mom - but this day you get dinos with EVERYTHING. Needless to say, he loves it and his mom is none too happy. Great story - and I haven't gotten sick of reading it. High praise indeed!


Dinosaurs Forever - written by William Wise/illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

This book is packed full of funny rhymes about dinosaurs - some teach you things (like the three ages of the dinosaurs - Jurassic, Triassic, Cretaceous) and others are just for fun (like the dino ball or Allosaurus trying desperately to stick to her diet). I have to say I have gotten tired of reading this - but only because it's been on the menu for nap and nighttime for weeks now - and it's long! And if you skip one - he will call you out!

Last but not least - a great dinosaur set that gives good bang for the buck. It's the Animal Planet Big Tub of Dinosaurs. We got this as a gift and it's gotten so much use! I've seen it for many prices but Toys R Us has the best so far at $19.99 (and I HATE Toys R Us - but for the next dino lover's birthday party we're going to brave it). The dinosaurs aren't the most realistic - but 12 dinos for twenty bucks - plus TWO volcanoes (popular at our house) and trees (way too many trees) is a great deal. The play mat is way too flimsy - but who needs it? Lately we set up our the train tracks in dinosaur land - that's a lot of fun. So I would highly recommend this set - great for open-ended dino play and not too expensive. I've seen one dinosaur for over $20 before (very nice and all but really does Monkey care that it's accurate to the millimeter? - I think not!)

Playmobile also has a cool set with an exploding volcano - but only a couple of dinosaurs. It also comes with some scientists and lots of little, teensy equipment for said scientists (not a great toy for those with babies crawling around). It also has dinosaur bones that you can "find" and put together - fun! This set is more expensive than the "tub" but he does love to explode the volcano! We just add both sets together nowadays. Dino land takes over the living room most days.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halloween Fun


I just stumbled upon this wonderful blog and it's perfect for this time of year! It's all Halloween all the time. Love it! I can't wait to make these great spinners. It also led me to a fun flickr group. I love Halloween!

I know I haven't blogged in a while but I hope to change that - soon. I've joined a writing group (which I hope to actually attend at least a few times a month) and sadly, I've decided to stop writing for Seattle Picks. It was a hard decision but I'm hoping it will be for the best and help me focus more . . . you heard it here first. Now if this is my last post until next year - you know it didn't work!

Enjoy the Halloween goodies!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Delicious!

Check out my latest pick (Dish D'Lish) - #2 titled "A Tisket, A Tasket" - my editor cut one of my favorite sentences: "That nip reminds us that summer is fleeting and every moment must be savored." so I'm posting it here because it's all too true! Summer is winding down people - take advantage! So after you read my pic - get out there and enjoy before the rain starts!

We're enjoying our weekend at Kingfisher Cabin - there is still space available in September and October :) Carpe Diem!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Preschool Humor

Today we went to Seafood Fest. Monkey enjoyed an obstacle course sponsored by Children's Hospital (got a free jump rope at the end), making a boat (Center for Wooden Boats), the bouncies, climbing in a fire truck and especially listening to Billy Bear. In fact, Billy Bear made us a bit late for quiet time as Monkey just couldn't break away - but we made it home. He walked the whole way with only a teensy bit of whining. If he started to slow we'd just start talking about that silly bear and he'd about fall over laughing.

Now Billy Bear is a silly, silly bear. At first he tried knock knock jokes - but really word play like that is pretty lost on the wee ones (unless there's something about potty involved). But then he started repeating words fed to him by his "owner". And this is when hilarity ensued. The man would say, "can you say lollipop?" and Billy Bear would respond, "Polli-Lop" - then all the kids would roll on the floor (literally) laughing. Hamburger - Bamhurger and on and on. The kids ate it up and I bet Monkey will still be talking about it right after he wakes up.

I love the simple humor that leaves preschoolers in stitches. Many times to get Monkey to put on his own clothes (for some reason he loathes doing that) we'll play a game where he'll put his shorts on his head and ask, "like this?" and I'll respond, "YES!" then pause and say, "nooo" as if I'm confused (he loves this and sometimes the game goes on a bit long . . . but in the end the shorts get on).

I try to use this technique when I see a tantrum or something brewing (note: if the tears have begun this will NOT work). Just anything silly or out of place will do it to snap him out of it (if I'm lucky that day). I'll put on his hat - or put a bracelet on my head - or try to put a hat over my shoe, etc. Anything that's "wrong" is right in this case! Rhyming games can also head off the tears if started at the right time. Rhyming is a big deal in Monkey's world right now. Combine rhyming with twisted words - you've got yourself an act.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kids in the Garden

Monkey is closing in on four and this year has been great for the garden. I've actually been able to work in the garden once in a while while he's awake! In the past he would want to "help" in ways that were not so helpful - like pulling up prized flowers or eating dirt. But this year he listens (mostly) and if I can keep him busy he can even be semi-helpful (or at least stay out of the way). Here are a few ways I attempt to keep Monkey engaged in the garden.

1) Kid's gardening gloves - I found some at the Thriftway on Vashon (I swear they have everything). He LOVES them.

2) Clearly defined places to dig - I gave up some space in the garden early on and came to terms with the fact that some plants nearby might die. Last night my husband took it a step farther and pulled out some plants to make a dirt area just for Monkey - it is currently filled with dump trucks.











3) Kid-size watering cans (big ones get over-filled and frustrate Monkey to no end) and tools.

4) Water Barrels - great source of entertainment and easy on the water bill. If he wastes the rain water I still get annoyed - but not as annoyed as running the faucet! He sometimes waters the plants that actually need water and the rest of the time he makes water tracks on the driveway. Either way it keeps him busy and that's what you're looking for.

5) Fast-growing veggies that are easy to pick and eat. Snap peas and cherry tomatoes are great. Bush beans or pole beans are also a lot of fun to watch grow. He also picks out a few plants to plant and tend aside from veggies.

Scarecrow Project

Today we noticed that something is chomping on our squash so we brainstormed ways to stop it. Monkey decided we needed a scarecrow (little does he know we probably need a scare raccoon or a scare squirrel). So we decided to make one and this is how we did it (note: this is not waterproof!):


You'll need:

2 sheets of large paper (I used packing paper we've been saving from an Amazon shipment)
stapler
scrap paper or newspaper
long stick/pole + shorter stick/pole
hammer
nail
child's shirt

1) Have your child draw a face on a piece of large paper (even better have them draw faces on two pieces of paper so you can make a two-faced scarecrow). We discussed what kind of face to draw and Monkey landed on a "mad face".











2) Cut out face(s) or face and another blank piece of paper

3) Staple together leaving a large opening for stuffing purposes.

4) Ball up scrap paper and stuff the head.

5) Staple shut leaving small opening for stick/pole.

6) Creat a small cross by nailing smaller stick/pole perpendicular to longer one.















7) Stick in the ground and put on the shirt.

8) Top with the stuffed head - enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dining Al Fresco

I just wanted to share an easy (and relatively cheap) way to beautify your outdoor dining experience (or cover up a funky table in our case) which was inspired by my good friend Ashley.

1) Measure table.
2) Decide how much overhang you want (add to measurement) - check it twice!
3) Go to local fabric store or Etsy and pick out oil cloth.
4) Come home, pop it on the table, pour a glass of wine and voila!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pick a Peck of Pickled Peppers



Latest pick - PASEO! (# 2 titled "Surf's Up")

You must go . . . it's making me hungry just thinking about it!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Veggie Burgers

I really like these veggie burgers - and so does Monkey! Many I've tried haven't held up to the burger test (too mushy) but after I made a few adaptations - these are awesome (or as the original recipe calls them "The Ultimate Veggie Burgers") - adapted from Vegan Planet.



1 t ground flaxseeds (grind your own if you can or you can buy then ground)
2 T tamari (or regular soy sauce but I prefer tamari)
1/2 c walnut pieces (I use a bit more)
3/4 c cooked brown lentils (squeeze out the moisture - if you're using canned rinse well before squeezing)
1/4 c grated onion (really squeeze out the moisture!)
1 T minced fresh parsley
1/3 c wheat gluten flour (vital wheat gluten - Bob's Red Mill makes it)
1/2 t browning sauce
Salt/Pepper
2 T olive oil for browning (maybe a bit more depending on pan)

1) In a blender combine ground flaxseed and tamari - blend until viscous (Personally, I don't think it's worth it to use the blender - I try to whisk really fast in a small dish. If you have an immersion blender you could try that too.) Set aside.

2) Using a food processor, pulse walnuts to coarsely chop.

3) Add lentils, onion, parsley, wheat gluten flour, browning sauce, flax mixture and salt and pepper to walnuts. Process until well combined with some texture remaining (till it turns in to a ball).

4) Shape mixture into patties (I usually make 6 small patties) about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick.

5) Refrigerate on platter for at least 30 minutes.

6) Heat olive oil in large skillet (medium heat). Cook until browned on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side). Serve hot with all the fixings.

Notes:


For squeezing out the moisture - you can do a few things - squeeze in cheesecloth, paper towels or press through a fine mesh (that's what I do since I don't have cheese cloth - but I have used paper towels in a pinch).

If you don't have buns on hand (and your kid is picky like mine and wants burgers to look like burgers) cut circles out of bread. You can do it freehand or with a cookie cutter. Works like a charm! I toast them after cutting so they'll hold up.











It was hard to get the picture of Monkey eating the burger as he was scarfing while I was finishing up in the kitchen!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Well the second year of the vegetable garden is well on it's way. We planted some beans that were saved from last year (we'll see which varieties they are as I couldn't remember and the color was out of the dried pods - hopefully a few purples were in there). New this year we added sugar snap peas. I hope they turn out as I LOVE snap peas and hope that will convince Monkey to eat them if he can just pick them off the vine.

Three different tomatoes (of course I don't remember what they are but I picked some with shorter growing days so we will hopefully get a few this year - update: "Sweet Baby Girl" cherry tomato, "Dona" Salad tomato - French Market hybrid - medium sized" and "Yellow Perfection" salad tomato - 3" yellow. All are 75 days. So far in this heat they are very happy - crossing fingers). They are all from Langley Farms on Vashon (just up the street from Kingfisher Cabin) but bought at Swanson's Nursery.

In addition, we planted some yellow zuchinni - different variety than last year. We'll see how it goes over.











To top it off I got a teensy arugula start from a neighbor and planted my "Great Sunflower Project" sunflowers (a little late but they've sprouted). Hopefully, I'll get to count me some bees this year - last year nothing came up.











We also have a few strawberry volunteers that wintered over and spread themselves around - and the alpine strawberries made it too. I was surprised since we lost so many other plants in the big freeze. They are starting to ripen and hopefully we'll get to them before the slugs and bugs! I used some of Monkey's blocks to hold them off the ground - it's working!











I can't wait for everything to take off like it did last year and it will be fun to make this right out of the garden.

What are you growing?? Any tips for snails?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tommy Boy

Here's a link to my latest pick (#2 Get Serious). It was changed up a bit by my editor . . . I did not write that facial hair line! And here were the silly titles I suggested :) Sometimes I can't pick one so I give a few - alas, none were picked. Tommy Boy amused me . . . but you can't win `em all.


Tommy Boy
Pie Perfection
Serious as a Heart Attack

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spinach Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms, Onions & Tomatoes

I know, I know - more spinach - but I really wanted to share a new family favorite (no, Monkey won't try it yet but I know he'd like it). So really I guess that's 2 out of 3 which ain't too bad.

So here goes (all amounts are approximate).

You'll need:

For the pesto:
2+ cups of pre-washed spinach leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1-2 garlic cloves minced
1 T nutritional yeast (optional - or some grated cheese like parmigiano or pecorino)
olive oil
salt/pepper
(food processor)

For the rest:

Pasta of your choice (we use whole wheat penne)
10+ mushrooms (we used crimini) sliced
1/2 large yellow onion or whole small one (sweet onions are good too!)
1-3 garlic cloves minced
bunch of cherry tomatoes (halved)


While cooking the pasta saute the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Add tomatoes for last minute of cooking (or add after pasta is assembled if you don't want them cooked at all).

To assemble the pesto:

Put the spinach, walnuts, garlic, yeast in the food processor - stream olive oil while blending to desired consistency.

When pasta and veggies are done - combine pasta, veggies and pesto - adjust seasonings and serve. It's good room temperature as well.

Optional - top with some roasted pine nuts

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spinach Eggs

Monkey has taken a decidedly anti-vegetable stance these days but the one veggie I can stuff in him is spinach. I know . . . hard to believe! Since he was old enough to eat eggs I've made scrambled eggs with spinach (green eggs) and (thank God) he still likes them. In fact, one morning I was out and I got a call on the cell that went like this:

Husband: Uhm, Monkey is crying and he won't stop - he's saying "eggs" and "green" I think.
Me: Did you make scrambled eggs?
H: Yes
Me: Did you put spinach in them?
H: Spinach? No . . .
Me: Yeah, he won't eat eggs unless they're green - try pancakes.

So my advice is if you have a little, try making green eggs and hopefully it will continue on. Here's how I do it.

You'll need: pre-washed spinach (1-2 cups), a decent chef's knife, eggs & cheese (optional).

1) Chop spinach really fine like this.











2) Melt butter (or a little oil) in a pan over medium heat - add spinach and cook a bit (I add a bit of salt and pepper now but back when he was tiny I didn't).












3) Scramble eggs in a bowl (I add a bit of water) and pour over spinach. Important note - you need to make sure the little spinach bits are all covered with egg so fold eggs over the spinach until cooked. Otherwise you'll get a kid picking at the bits of free spinach.












4) Add some grated cheese and voila! Please share what (healthy) meals your kids enjoy!