Thursday, September 30

Special Visit

We had a special visit from Hubby's parents this week.  It isn't too often that we get to see them, as they live several states away.  So it was extra special for Peanut to be able to share some memories with her Daddy's mom and dad. 

We didn't do a whole heck of a lot--at least in terms of "going out and doing something," but regardless, Peanut had lots of fun showing her Grandma and Grandpa how she can put her United States puzzle together all by herself.  (Remember, just two months ago, how I joked that by her next birthday, she'd be able to put the whole puzzle together? Well, she can now--11+ months early no less.  And she can probably name about half the states.  I kid you not.  That's better than some high school seniors.)

We also got to celebrate Peanut's birthday with her Grandpa and Grandma, which for Peanut, opening pwe-nats {presents} is always lots of fun.  

One of the gifts were these darling tutu jammies...

and Peanut didn't have any trouble

hamming it up for the camera.

Such a little show off. 

She also had two new victims adults to read her Bible stories book to her (over. and over. again.).  She calls it her "BibleBook."  I don't remember who gave it to her at one of the baby showers, but she LOVES that book.

She also got to go to the park, even if it was getting a little dark that night (7:30 at night used to look like this just a few short weeks ago).

It isn't quite as dark as the pictures indicate....but it was still pretty dusky.

Peanut had such a grand time getting reacquainted with her other GrandpaGrandma and we are thankful for the time we got to spend with them.  It's just too bad the time between visits are longer than we would like. 

But as I've been learning in the past year since we've moved, we just have to keep looking forward and not spend so much time looking back. 

Monday, September 27

Chicken Pad Thai

I mentioned last week my new subscription to Taste of Home magazine, and I am loving some of the recipes!   I adapted another recipe and I think this one is just as good as last week's, if not better.  But they are both so different, I can't really decide.  Either way, this one is another keeper and I will definitely be making it again!

The original recipe called for shrimp, also adding in some fish sauce, which I think would be fabulous--I love me some shrimp!  But chicken was in the budget this week, so chicken it was!

 Chicken Pad Thai - adapted from Taste of Home's Shrimp Pad Thai, August & September 2010

4 oz. rice noodles
1 cooked chicken breast, cubed or shredded
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (I used dehydrated cane juice)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp. chili sauce (I used Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce)
3 cups shredded cabbage
4 green onions, thinly sliced (both greens and whites)
Salted Peanuts
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook rice noodles following package instructions. Over medium heat, in a large skillet, saute onion until tender.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add beaten egg and saute until egg is fully cooked.  Add in vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and peanut butter.  Cook until a creamy sauce has formed.  Mix in cabbage, green onions, chicken, and cooked noodles and heat through.  Serve with peanuts and chopped cilantro for garnish. 

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Hearth 'n Soul Recipe Swap  
Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap

Sunday, September 26

Menu Plan Monday

I am excited to try some new recipes this week, as it always makes cooking a little bit more interesting.  Although I love cooking, it can get repetitive at times.  So for this week, I plan to make:

Sunday-Chicken Pad Thai Noodles (recipe to come), Green Salad with homemade ranch dressing

Monday-Burritos (with homemade tortillas--I use lard instead of shortening) & Tacos with all the fixings, Spanish rice

Tuesday-Pizza with homemade crust and homemade sauce, green salad

Wednesday-Linguine with clam sauce, steamed veggies

Thursday-Red Beans and Rice with Ground Beef, steamed veggies

Friday-Tortellini Bake, Green Salad


For other great menu plan ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, September 21

Works For Me Wednesday-The Best Investment We've Ever Made

Although the Peanut is willful, she is a pretty good little girl.  EXCEPT when it came to teeth brushing.  That had become a battle of epic proportions.  But then I found something that changed all of our lives.  I kid you not.  When I was in the oral hygeinge section of WalMart a few weeks ago getting toddler toothpaste, I came across one of these:

It was easily the best $5 we have ever spent.  The Peanut LOVES to brush her teeth now.  As well as her tongue.  

Battery operated toothbrushes work for me!  For other great hints, visit We are THAT Family.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of bedtime, my mom made this darling little bas-robe {bathrobe} for her....

it even has a silk lining.  Too cute, isn't it?  Thanks, again, Mom. 

Monday, September 20

Fire Island Penne

A few months ago, I started getting Taste of Home magazine.  I don't know whoever blessed me with the subscription, but it is very much appreciated!  If it was you--thank you so, so much.  I am loving it.  There are several recipes I've been waiting to try and this was one of them--it did not disappoint.  I changed a few things up as always, so this is my adapted version.

Fire Island Penne - adapted from Taste of Home, August/September 2010

2 lbs. roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 tbsp. EVOO, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
2 cups fresh broccoli
1 lb. Italian sausage links, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese

Toss the tomatoes with two tablespoons oil and 2 of the minced garlic cloves.  Place them facing down on baking sheet (I used a baking stone).  Bake at 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes are tender.  (The recipe didn't say to, but I removed the split skins as I don't prefer cooked tomato skins.  Once they are roasted, they come off easily!)  Chop tomatoes when cool.

Cook pasta until al dente.  In a separate pot, steam broccoli until crisp tender, being careful not to overcook.  In a large skillet, cook sausage slices in remaining EVOO until cooked through.  Toss sausage with remaining minced garlic, cooked pasta, steamed broccoli, and tomatoes.  Add red pepper flakes to taste.  Sprinkle cheese on top.

This was pretty amazing--we all loved it and it will definitely be appearing on our menu again! 

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Hearth 'n Soul Recipe Swap 

Sunday, September 19

Menu Plan Monday

Getting back into the routine since we got home...which a routine is always a good thing for Peanut.  Of course we didn't get to everything on the menu last week, so you'll see some repeats.  Also, Hubby's parents will coming later this week for a visit, so we have that to look forward to.

Sunday-Baked potato bar with chili, sour cream, broccoli, cheese and green onions

Monday-Sweet and sour pork, steamed veggies

Tuesday-Philly Cheese Steaks, green salads with homemade ranch dressing


Thursday-Summertime Orzo and Chicken, crusty bread

Friday-Crockpot Broccoli Beef and steamed rice

Saturday-Out to dinner

For other great menu plans, visit the Organizing Junkie.  

Friday, September 17

Oh Boy Goodness!

***otherwise titled as Big Ol' Long Post, so go get a cup of coffee if need be***

Our Peanut is now officially two.  And at some point during our vacation last week, she exclaimed "oh boy goodness!" as she found something (don't remember exactly what) very exciting.  That would be a combination of "oh, boy!" and "oh my goodness" if you aren't able to interpret the Peanut-ese. 

And despite our location being less than tropical, our vacation was very exciting and wonderful as always.  We spent the week with my parents and shared lots of time with them.  In addition, we also squeezed in a visit with Hub's sister and her family, lunch with my Dad at his job, a football draft, two birthday celebrations (the day of the birthday and the day of the party) and some yard work at our rental home.  Well, that last part was less than wonderful, but it needed to be done....and bless his heart, Hubs did it all on his own without complaint.

Peanut is really starting to understand the goings on around her now.  So much that she had trouble getting to to sleep the night before we left.  I had been telling her for several weeks prior that we were going to be visiting her Grandma and Grandpa (and Jet, as she always added {my parents lab}).  She was sooo excited when we finally turned down my parent's road, putting her hands on her cheeks, exclaiming, "GrandpaGrandma!"

I kid you not, the Peanut just becomes more and more fun (and precious) the older she gets. 

Peanut enjoyed lots and lots of time with her Grandma and Grandpa--who were perfectly content to follow her around their house and their yard where ever she wanted to go. 

Peanut got to open her presents as soon as Grandpa and Grandma got home from work on the day of her birthday.  My mom and I both had some special treats up our sleeves for gifts for the Peanut.

Our gift was something that Peanut will not appreciate so much now, but she will as she gets older.  I stole borrowed the idea from Kelle, making a book about Peanut's second year of life.  Sixty-six pages of my blood, sweat and tears--and I completely copied the idea of the book starting with her first birthday and ending with the invitation to her second birthday.  Regardless, it is pretty awesome if I do say so myself. 

Grandma had some pretty special ideas too. In addition to the standard slew of clothes (this child is so well dressed) my Mom refurbished my sister's old doll cradle (with her permission, of course).  To go with it,  Grandma made a matching quilt and pillow for the cradle.  (Grandma also made a cradle and matching pillow and quilt for her house too.)

As if that wasn't enough, my Mom did some research on line to figure out what little two year old girls like.  It appears that this is the year where they typically get into "make believe" and dressing up.  That was all the idea my Mom needed--and she ran with it.

She bought a trunk at the local craft store and painted it white to go with all of Peanut's other furniture.  Then my Mom scoured the internet some more and found nearly a gazillion (okay, maybe not that many) different costumes and make believe outfits.  I think nearly every Disney Princess costume was in there, along with cheerleading and gobs of dress up shoes and pearls.  As typical with little ones though, none of it was such the hit as the jewelery.  Not the costumes, not the shoes, not the feather boa.  It was the dollar store jewelery that was the biggest hit.  It was amusing to say the least.

We headed out to dinner after opening gifts and Peanut got her first taste of Mexican food at a restaurant.  She loved the quesadilla and rice, but not so much the beans. Strange child, I tell you.  Don't all kids love beans?  I guess not.

She also was getting used to drinking out of a straw....and no, that is not soda.  It's water. 

After dinner we came home to sing Happy Birthday and have cake and ice cream.

I made banana cake (from scratch) with cream cheese frosting.   And because I didn't feel like that was sweet enough, I served it with Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (my personal favorite--PLUS they don't feed their cows growth hormones.  Yes, I just had to throw that in there.). 

And let me tell you, those "sliced into cake pictures" are a pain in the you know what to photograph.  This blog always has these wonderful shots like this and this and I thought I would try my hand at it.

Good grief, not the thing to do when when you have one impatient toddler and two impatient men waiting for their cake.  My Mom "got it" though and helped as much as she could.

I have a long way to go....but at least it tasted good.

We were also able to visit Hubby's sister and her family.  Peanut had a wonderful time with her cousins.  It's crazy to see how quickly they grow up....we had all of their pictures taken for Easter about 18 months ago.  At the time, both Peanut's cousins where completely enthralled with Peanut and watching her rather than looking at the camera during the photo shoot.  And now look at the two of them--perfect, sweet, smiling faces.  Now we just need to work on Peanut....but I know that will all come with time, just as it did with our nieces.

The big fantasy football draft was on Saturday.  Hubby has been doing this for several years now on a team with my Dad.  My Dad has given Hubs pretty much free reign over their draft picks and Hubs takes his job very seriously.  The lists and the discussions start just after the Super Bowl each year.  I know.  And from February until August, every so often when I clean house, I came across these lists of players and stats and I ask, "Really? Already?" and I shake my head.

Now, each year the draft is at one of the men's homes, but it had never been at our home and so I never got to see the draft in all it's glory.  It was at my parent's this year and I had no choice but to observe the insanity.  Now, if you couldn't tell already, I just don't get football.  It's just a little too testosteroney for me.  And to be honest, I have never fully understood the dedication and fervor that Hubby put into it.  I mean, in addition to his lists and his fantasy football "bible," he was concerned as to where he could plug in the laptop during the draft.  The laptop?  Oh, good grief

Well, can I just say, I (sort of) get it now.  These men are plain ridiculous.  They all had laptops.  One of guys even came in the kitchen (where I was baking cupcakes for Peanut's party the next day) to ask where he should set up the "network."  Apparently they even employ their own IT guy and they had these big draft boards to help keep the picks organized.  Seriously, folks....they have this thing down to a science. 

Hubby is a die hard Charger's fan and to help be an athletic supporter (name that movie), I made Peanut a football shirt with some iron-ons I found on eBay.   (I was not about to pay $30 for a shirt she would wear once).  Being the great wife that I am, I let Peanut wander around during the draft to get some pictures of her helping her Daddy and Grandpa.

The next day was Peanut's party.  Elmo was the theme--but with pink accents.  You know--to make it girly.  Primary colors just don't scream girly to me at all.  And we all know I am all about the girly.

I started searching the internet early on this summer to figure out ideas that were inexpensive.  I wasn't about to pay $99.99 for the Elmo Birthday Party Pack from Parties R Us.   I have a ton of scrapbook and crafting supplies and more time than money, so I set out early making lots of Elmo themed details for the party. 

I made Elmo favor bags, complete with each child's name (which have been partially covered to protect the innocent).

The treasures included crayons and an Elmo coloring page, bubbles in the shape of popsicles, and homemade sugar cookies with pink frosting and red polka dots.  I had wanted to do Elmo faces like Bridgett's cookies, but after my practice run a few weeks ago, that just. wasn't. happening.  I wanted them to be perfect like her cookies and since they weren't, buttercream frosting it was.  But they tasted good, so it was fine.

My favorite of the favors though, was the gold fish cracker packs.  For those of you who have never watched Sesame Street (or if it has been awhile since you had a toddler) Elmo has a goldfish name Dorthy.  Hence the little packets.  I thought they turned out pretty cute.

This was the punch table....

and then after my Dad's insistence, Peanut's picture was taken down, because he thought that was way too funeral-ish to have a picture on the table when she was there at the party.  I thought it was cute idea, but I let him have his way.  Hubs just stood there and laughed, so I really don't know what that meant....

I also found this cute (and easy) idea to make these fun poms poms to hang from the ceiling (or outdoor tent in our case).

The tables were decorated with fresh flowers from the farmers market and pink table clothes and red runners (all courtesy of Grandma).  We used pink plates, red cups and napkins and I made little paper napkin rings for just a touch of Elmo.

The final detail was the cupcakes.  I made cherry chip cupcakes (from scratch) with what was supposed to be red frosting.  It sort of came out a salmon color, despite squeezing drop after drop of the red food coloring.  I finally thought I had put enough in to kill an army, so I stopped with the dye.  I topped the cupcakes with homemade cupcake toppers courtesy of myself and Photoshop.

Peanut had a grand time at the party, sporting her Elmo outfit made custom by Grandma.

She played on the swing set with her cousins...

opened lots of gifts from friends and family...

enjoyed her cupcakes...

had fun with her uncle...

and she even had a surprise visitor towards the end of the party.

Elmo came all the way from Sesame Street to visit her.  Or at least that is what Daddy told her.  

It was a wonderful trip with lots of memories made.  


Can't believe she's already two.


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