Sunday, July 31

And Somehow I Lived to Tell About It: Part II

Read Part I here

Before we went and visited my brother-in-law's station that first day, I also took the opportunity to snap some more family shots and guided my mother-in-law in snapping a photo with me in it.  Remember, it's all about being down at the level of the person/people you are shooting.  Don't take the photo from your level, take it from the subject's level.  ;)  And they turned out very well--thanks, D! 

During the first few days we were down there, we packed in the fire station visits and we were also able to see Hubs' brother play in both of his baseball leagues. At one of his games, the announcer would play sound effects and small bits of music between the pitches and plays.  Peanut's response to the music?   "I must dance."  Literally--she said that each time as she bounded off the bleachers to shake her little tail feather. 

We arrived several days before Hub's sister and her family arrived.  We were so happy to see them when they got there and we got to see this little guy for the first time in over six months.   Last time we saw him he was just a sleepy little love and now he is mobile and trying to keep up with his sisters.

Speaking of sisters, our oldest niece celebrated a birthday while we were's hard to believe she is seven years old.  She was in our wedding you way of mommy.  Hub's sister was preggers with her as a bridesmaid in our wedding.

Peanut's uncle also surprised his nieces and nephew with special treats from Disneyland from his visit a few months back.  Peanut was quite excited as she is quite the fan of Minnie.

We (Hubs and I) even squeezed in a couple of date nights with his sister and being at In-N-Out after a shopping excursion to Target.  What can I say?  I'm a cheap date!

We also were able to take the Peanut on her first adventure to the coast.  Although we live just hours away from the beach in HomeTown, SmallTown is a bit further and we just haven't taken the time to show her the beach, so this was a perfect opportunity.  It was a little cold that day because of the wind, but all in all a beautiful day at the beach.

Peanut LOVED the ocean.  If she had had her choice, Peanut would have been waste high in the water like one of her cousins!  Although a nice day, it was still a little to cold for that and Daddy kept her at close range.  She had a great time and although she was so very clearly exhausted when we left, she still managed to stay awake until we were about three miles from home.

Yes, our girl is still the avid toe walker.  Sand isn't easy to walk in, but she insists on pushing herself and she ups the calorie burning by walking on her toes.  Her little calves are like rocks.  I guess it's all about the opportunities.

But she didn't get that from me. 

I detest perspiring. 

I seriously didn't intend to make this a three part post, but alas it will be.  I have quite a few pictures left and dinner to cook and laundry to do and the house to clean, so hopefully the rest will be up later tomorrow.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Read Part III: The Final Chapter here.

Menu Plan Monday

Settling back in again after getting home from our trip.  And now that we are home, this means I have one month to get everything done for Peanut's birthday celebration so I better cracking!  It's also going to be hot all week, so I am avoiding the oven as much as possible.  So my not so original week of dinners will include:

Sunday-Taco salad with taco meat, black beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, green onions

Monday-BLT sandwiches and green salad with ranch dressing

Tuesday-Steak with Aqua Negra Marinade, baked potatoes, green salad

Wednesday-Grilled hamburgers, oven fries, green salad

Thursday-Quesadillas and Spanish rice



For other great menu ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie

Saturday, July 30

And Somehow I Lived to Tell About It: Part I

I was pretty anxious about our trip to visit the Hubs' family.  Not the visiting his family part, but the traveling with the Peanut on her first plane ride part.  I was all kinds of anxious for that.  First, I am not that comfortable of a flyer as it is.  And the older I get, the more nervous it makes me.  Strange, I know.  But I think I've figured out's because I am a control freak.....and I don't have any control when flying.  It stresses me out to no end and I can't stand that about myself.  Combine that with the fact that I don't want my Peanut to be that way and not knowing how she was going to react to flying in general, well, you get the idea.  I was anxious, anxious, anxious...

We don't have a portable DVD player (as was a suggested distraction by many different people) but we did go to the dollar store and I picked out a few new little things for her for the plane ride.  They were brand new for her on the flight, as she didn't get to play with them until we were traveling.  And you know what?  She's quite the little traveler, our little Peanut.  She did absolutely fine.  Between the excitement of flying, air plane snacks, the seat belt/air mask instruction manuals stashed in the seat in front of her--flying was an absolute breeze.

Peanut thought Dolly should be able to listen to the music too.  

The hardest most traumatic part?   Going through security.  Who knew?  When I had to take off her shoes and put them in the bin to go through the metal detector, she was so concerned.  She wanted to have her shoes back on and having to follow me through the metal detector without her shoes on?  Well, that was just about her undoing.   Thankfully the TSA agents were all very understanding and patient with our little Peanut. 

We also met some of the nicest people during our flights.  To avoid the extra luggage fees, we chose not to check any luggage.  Ahem.  So having three small suitcases, three carry-on pieces and a car seat and a stroller makes for quite a challenge in trying to wrangle all of our belongings and keep a very close eye on a very busy two and half year old.  A gentleman we met in the airport was so kind and helped us carry our things on and off the plane.  And both of the ladies I sat next to on the flights were so sweet and understanding about all my knee jerk reactions in grabbing the armrest each and every time we encountered the smallest amount of turbulence.  We also met a nice mom and daughter during our layover en-route and they were friendly and kind to us and our Peanut as well.  I was so thankful for each of every one of them.

The layover we had on the way there had Hubs guiding Peanut as she insisted on driving her doll, Dolly, around in the stroller while I camped out with all of our things.  Fun times.  The layover was only about an hour, so after potty breaks and more snacks, it wasn't unbearable at all.  And you know what?  I survived.  I didn't think I would, but I did!

When we arrived, Hubs' parents first order of business was to take us to In -N-Out Burger.  YUM!  It was absolutely amazing as it always is.  You folks who have In-N-Out Burger's near you?  You have no idea how blessed your life truly is.  ;)

Peanut's Grandpa has been a volunteer firefighter for years and her uncle is a firefighter by trade.  We have been telling Peanut for several months that we were going to visit them and that she would be able to see their fire stations where they work.  In fact, every time she hears a siren she says, "Somebody's helping somebody!  Like Uncle K and Grandpa need help!"  Not quite...but she "gets it" for all practical purposes.  So, when we were able to visit both of their firehouses, it was one of the biggest highlights of the trip. 

We visited Hubs' brother's station first and she got her first up close and personal with the fi-yer {fire} trucks.  She fell asleep on the way there, but once the sleepiness wore off, she raring to go, taking in everything that her uncle had to show her. 

At her Grandpa's fire station, she was even able to ride in a fire truck and try out the fire hose with her daddy.  She wasn't so sure of the hose at first, but she was quickly all smiles.  Hubs even got try on one of the breathing apparatuses the fire fighters use....Peanut was a little concerned as to why Daddy had all that gear on, but she was quickly on to the next thing.  

I know candid shots are often times much better, but I took every opportunity for family shots as I could.  I have yet to master the candid shot thing (or even the posed shot for that matter....) and I wanted to have lots of good pictures, posed or not.  This was the first time Hubs' entire immediate family had been together in nearly seven years and we have had lots of new additions since Christmas of 2004.  Stay tuned for the rest of trip which includes a trip to the beach, a birthday celebration, lots of cousins, and the first Hubs' family photo in nearly seven years!


Read Part II here.  
Read Part III: The Final Chapter here

Tried It & Loved It: Maple Glazed Pork Chops

Well, these are just so yum and they are SUPER easy.  Seriously, what's not to love?  Love you, Rachael Ray!  I have lost count of the many good recipes she always cooks up and this one did not disappoint.

Maple Glazed Pork Loin Chops ~ from Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon EVOO
4 8-ounce boneless pork loin chops
Black pepper
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 to 3 scallions, whites and greens finely chopped
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated (I so thought I had some in my freezer, and I didn't, so it didn't get added......imagine how even these would be with it!)
2 tablespoons Tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup dark amber maple syrup

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Once pan is nice and hot, season chops with salt and pepper and add chops to pan.  Cook 6-7 minutes per side.  Once cooked through, remove from pan and cover with foil.

Reduce heat in pan and add garlic, green onions and ginger.  Saute until tender, about two minutes.  Add in soy sauce and syrup and allow to reduce for several minutes.  Serve glaze over chops. 

Wednesday, July 27

Nerding Out

I am sure every person (prior to being a parent) swears they will never do ________ when they become a parent.

Every person except me of course.  I have never said that. 

Oh, how I kid. 

Pre-Peanut (probably by a year or two), we were at my friend Sarah's house for dinner and their little boy, who was probably around two at the time was having a silly moment as all two year olds will do.  Sarah's husband looked at her and said, "Oh, there he goes....he's nerding out."  Of course, Hubs and I laughed.  Both at her husband's comment and at their son's antics, but deep down, I thought, well gosh, that's a little harsh.  I would NEVER say that about my child.

Fast forward several years later and I totally get it.  Peanut just gets in the silliest moods from time to time.  She starts rolling her eyes and making faces and she starts moving her arms around like she's a puppet on strings and she....and you know what?  There's really no better explanation.  

She's nerding out. 

Is it just Sarah and I?  What do you say when your kids are beyond silly? 

Monday, July 25

Fresh Cherry Scones with a Sweet Almond Glaze

It had been no more than a week after we finished up the cherries that we Hubs picked 4th of July weekend, that our sweet landlord called and asked if we wanted some cherries from her brother's orchard.  Of course I would never turn down fresh picked cherries, so I jumped at the offer.  But then as I was filling up a big bowl of cherries to take, I remembered that we are going out of town, so I better cool it with taking so many because there is no way we are going to finish them up before we leave.

Enter getting creative with meals to eat some more cherries.  After Hubs ate his first scone, he asked if he could have another one.  I said of course, and as he was walking away, he says something about selling these.  What a nice Hubs, huh?  Oh and for the record, no, he doesn't normally ask permission for seconds, but he knew I hadn't taken pictures yet for the blog, so he wasn't sure what was "allowed."  Isn't he a good blogger husband? 

Fresh Cherry Scones

2 cups flour (I used fresh ground soft white wheat, but all purpose would work fine too)
3 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cup fresh cherries; stemmed, pitted, chopped (should be 1 1/4 cups after stemming, pitting, and chopping)
4 to 6 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients and cut butter into dry mixture using a pastry cutter or two knives.  Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.  Add in egg, fresh cherries, and about 3 tablespoons of milk (to start) and fold together.  Fold until just moistened, adding more milk if necessary.

On a lightly floured surface, pat dough into a disk, about 1 inch thick.  You will want to flour the top of the dough as well, as it will be sticky.  Cut the disk like a pie into even sized scones.  I was able to get six generous sized scones.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool completely prior to glazing.

Sweet Almond Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix together ingredients until smooth.  If consistency is too thick, add a shade more milk.  If consistency is too thin, add a dash more powdered sugar.  Wing it like I do! ;)  Drizzle over cooled scones. 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Designs By Gollum Foodie Friday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap
Friday Potluck at EKat's Kitchen  (Friday Potluck will be hosted at girlichef for the month of July)
Hearth 'n Soul Recipe Swap at A Moderate Life

La Bella Vita's Fresh Clean and Pure Friday 
Miz Helen's Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday

Sunday, July 24

Menu Plan Monday

We are having a great time here with Hubs family.  Stay tuned for a recap towards the end of this week.  We will returning to reality home on Wednesday and back to the day to day, so it's another short week in terms of a menu. 

Sunday-Tuesday-Kitchen Still Closed!

Wednesday-Baked Potato Bar with chili, cheese, sour cream, and whatever else I can conjure up after being out of town 

Thursday-White enchiladas, green salad with ranch dressing

Friday-Something with the chorizo I have sitting in the freezer....any ideas? 


For other menu ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie

Saturday, July 23

Tried It & Loved It: Sausage & Swiss Chard Frittata

Well, this one is just a lovely little number.  I had been wanting to try some different types of dark leafy greens (other than spinach) and when I came across this, I knew it was a perfect way to try my first encounter with chard.  Luckily, the nice produce man was there to point me in the right direction.  I had an idea of what chard looked like, but I couldn't seem to find any.  Apparently our store only sells it in the organic section.  I remember learning in my "research" that some things are actually easier to grow without pesticides because the food is so delicate, that it can't withstand all the chemicals....I am guessing Swiss chard is one of those?

Anyhow, I loved this and Hubs and Peanut both ate two slices.  I'd say I'll definitely be making this again!  (Although, I learned according to Peanut that if we have something for dinner, it can under NO certain terms be served for breakfast.  Dinner leftovers may be served for lunch, but served for breakfast?  Meltdowns of epic proportions.  Then she had no problem eating the leftovers at lunch several hours later.  Our little creature of habit. 

Sausage and Swiss Chard Frittata ~ from the Family Balance Sheet

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ red onion, chopped (I used yellow)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb sausage, casings removed. (I used chicken sausage)
½ - 1 full bunch Swiss chard, washed, dried, chopped fine (mine was Rainbow Chard and it was so pretty)
6 large eggs
¾ cup Parmesan
½ cup milk (I used cream....trying to use some up)
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray and set aside. 

In a large saute pan over medium heat, brown and cook through sausage in olive oil.  Stir in onions and garlic and cook until onions are tender.

I cooked the chard a little different than Kristia did.  I stripped the greens off the chard stems first in order to give the thick stems a head start in cooking.  I did this by holding the stems in one hand and pulling the leaves off with the other hand.  Simply run your hand down the stems and the leaves will strip right off.  I chopped up the stems into a small dice and sauteed those with the sausage and onions until they were tender.  I then roughly chopped the leaves of the chard and added those and as soon as they started to wilt, I transferred all of it to the pie pan. 

In separate bowl, whisk eggs and stir in cheese, milk, and salt and pepper.  Pour over sausage mixture and bake for about 30 minutes or until eggs are set. 

Friday, July 22

For the Love of Boo

I mentioned a long time ago on my little spot here on the world wide web that I love to play Boo, but I never fully elaborated on it.  Boo is a game that my mom and I have played for years.  From my teen years forward, at least--is as far back as I remember playing this wonderful little game.

It's a very simple game, really.

It goes like this: If you have the wonderful and grand chance to scare someone as they walk into a room, come from around a corner, walk past a doorway, etc., you take SEIZE that wonderful opportunity to scare. them. silly. 

My sister and father do not share this same love of Boo.

No matter how hard my mom or I try. 

So you can imagine my delight when Hubs and I got I now had a whole new victim player to add to the game.

To put it kindly:  He thinks my mom and I are deranged. Sigh.  But I force him to play anyway.  Not too often though--because a) He doesn't scare too easily.  Hmph!  and b) If I press my luck too much, he just might leave me.  I am so kidding on that last part, but why press it, right?  ;)  

Several years ago (well, gosh this was pre-Peanut, so this was at least three years, probably closer to four or five) I got him REALLY good.  And he was none too happy about it either.  I still can't decide what was better--scaring him OR telling my mom about my glorious success--it's STILL is my best Boo to date. 

Circa 2006 or 2007:  It was bedtime for Hubs and I.  I was doing my nighttime ritual in our bathroom--brushing my teeth, washing my face, putting on pajamas, and getting settled in bed.  Hubs was on the other side of the house in our "office" on the computer, probably watching SportsCenter highlights or shopping for music on iTunes.  By the time he came to bed, I was "asleep" on my side, and with the way our room was arranged, he couldn't see that I was actually still wide awake.  He went into our bathroom and proceeded with his nighttime ritual....brushing his teeth, taking out his contacts, etc.  He walked over to our bed and I could hear him putting his glasses in their case on his nightstand and then I felt his weight as he climbed into bed.  He fluffed his pillow and proceeded to settle in.  And mind you, he still had no idea I was wide awake.  So I gave him a minute or two to get comfortable and then the moment came that I was waiting for. I turned around as fast as I could and grabbed him and yelled "BOO!!!!" into the darkness of our bedroom.

Somehow the man managed to jump two feet in the air (while still lying flat) as he whipped around and rather angrily asked me, "WHAT on earth is wrong with you?"

Of course, I was laughing.  And that of course just irritated him further.  His irritation just caused me to laugh even harder, to the point of tears.  (And I don't cry easily--at least when I am laughing I don't.)  

Several days later I was on the phone with my mom and I could barely get the words out, I was laughing so hard.  And my mom, on the other end, was giddy and laughing in anticipation as she waited for me to get to the "punchline." 

Because she gets it. 

You see, it's never as fun for the Boo-ee.  The Boo-er always gets the biggest laugh and while those Boo-ees (that ones that appreciate it, at least) get a small amount of thrill from it, the Boo-ees know that their time will come.  It may not be that day or even that week, but if the Boo-ee is patient, they will get an even bigger thrill as Boo-er the next time.

And that my friends, is the beauty of the game.

I can count on one hand the number of times Hubs has scared me in our seven+ year marriage.  And half of those were unintentional (I am the polar opposite and scare VERY easily).  As I am recovering from his scares I try to explain to him See?  Wasn't that fun?  You know you got a kick out of that....?  Along with all other sorts of words of encouragement to keep the game going.

It never works though.

Besides, I have Peanut.  And I have been slowly breaking her in.  And you know what?   

She LOVES it.  She doesn't quite "get" it yet, but she LOVES it.

Case in point:  Several weeks ago I was cleaning the kitchen after a late dinner and Hubs had taken Peanut upstairs to start getting her ready for bed.  Somehow Peanut wandered downstairs and while I can usually hear her coming, I didn't this time.  I had my back turned as I was cleaning the stove and she walked in the kitchen and started to ask me a question.  Now it was my turn to jump two feet in the air and scream.  And Peanut just stood there like a deer in headlights.  And then I started laughing as I told her, "You scared me!"  Then she started laughing.  And she laughed and laughed and then she walked around the corner towards our living room and said to me, "Mommy!  Get Ready!  I'm gonna scare you again!"

It's like a dream come true.  

Wednesday, July 20

Our Little Garden

I read lots of blogs from all over the country and I just laugh (and cry!) when some bloggers I follow have been harvesting from their gardens for over a month now.  Because our little tomato plants are just getting started....

I can't wait until ours are ready!

Tuesday, July 19

Peanut's Favorite Condiment

I used to keep the butter dish on the table and then Peanut got old enough to try and mess with it, so it moved to the counter top.  However, now it's new home is on the counter pushed back as far back as possible because someone has decided that it's a good snack too.  If it's not as far out of reach as possible, I often will find this:

I mean, at least it's the real thing, but a snack.....really


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