Friday, May 31, 2013

One Pot Wonder- Tomato Basil Pasta

This is a pretty cool way to cook pasta without having to wait for the water to boil.  A lot of time it's hard to find a spaghetti sauce that is so great that you love every drop when eating it.  This recipe makes your noodles so flavorful and you can really make any combo of ingredients to throw in the pot.
Recipe from Apron Strings. Serves 4 to 6 as an entree
1 box 12-13 ounces linguine pasta (I used whole wheat)
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid (she recommended zesty red pepper flavor, I used plain)
1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips (we left it out and it was still tasty, but I'd add it if you like onions)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 large sprigs basil, chopped (I used dried basil, but if you have fresh, use it)
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (regular broth and NOT low sodium)
Handful of Kale
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish
 Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano. Drizzle top with oil. This was before I squished it all down so the liquid was covering the noodles.  I also broke the noodles in half so they would fit better.

Cover pot and bring to a boil. This is when I added in the kale, I didn't want to add it too soon, but it tasted great in there.  Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – I left about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired . Mine took about 20 minutes for the liquid to evaporate instead of the 10 she says so keep an eye on it. I also turned the heat off and let it soak up more at the end.
 Season to taste with salt and pepper , stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve garnished with parmesan cheese. Guess what- this was a meatless meal! Experiment with all the different things you can put in. Enjoy and have a great weekend!
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bar Stool & Chair Makeovers

I wasn't sure/still am not sure about what kind of stools I want for the kitchen.  There isn't a ton of room to tuck the stools under on the long side so we knew we needed them small.  
For the time being we went to walmart and bought $24 saddle stools. 
If you recall, mom started this project during our pinterest party. I don't really have formal instructions but I can try to list them out. All you need is a staple gun, staples, fabric, foam, and batting.  A strong hand would help too, that staple gun is hard to use.
She put the foam on the chair, then put batting around it and secured it with staples.
 Then she folded over the fabric and stapled it to the underside of the chair as well.  They came out great. I love the fabric!
Gigi was feeling a bit over ambitious and decided to take 2 of the chairs you see her standing by (we use 2 for the deep side of the island overhang) and cover those chairs.  They have a hard sturdy seat that comes off.
I had a coordinating fabric in the same color from Premier Prints that works PERFECTLY! She just used the batting and fabric. No foam on these.  I love how we were able to transform the space cheaply since I am not sure what I really want. Thanks Mom!!
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial Day/ 4th of July Embroidered Shirts

I am really happy with how the shirts came out for Hadley and Max for memorial day/4th of July.  It was my first time appliqueing and of course I picked elaborate designs.  They were just too cute not to.  To give you an idea, each different color fabric has to be cut and you have to take your hoop out of the machine.  I really got the hang of it when I did Max's shirt. It still takes me a couple hours per shirt, but I am getting the hang of it now so I hope to speed that up.  
I still need to work a little on placement, but it's pretty good considering I did almost everything myself (I broke a needle and David replaced it for me).
He looked so cute in the shirt at the pool. I took it off once it got really wet, because it wasn't a wet t-shirt contest.
Silly boy faces.
For Miss Hadley I made these chevron flag onesies with different fabric choices. It took a while to cut around all those zigzags, but it is adorable!  Michelle found the perfect matching accessories (skirt and bow) from The Childrens Place.
I mean, you can't get cuter than this.  I couldn't ask for a more precious model!
Such a sweet girl. Love her and her outfit.
I had to include an outtake. Poor gal isn't steady sitting on her own yet and she tumbled backwards a few times. Hadley was not hurt during the shoot, she was a little trooper!  Let me know if you'd like a shirt for the 4th of July. $18 per shirt, $21 shipped.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Pool Time

I hope everyone had a great memorial day weekend!  Last year around this same time was Max's 1st trip to the pool.  What a difference a year makes!
We have this awesome baby pool area that is only 1 ft- 1.5 ft deep with fountains and fun water areas.  The water was cold because we've had so much rain, but Max was liking it.  He was still a little apprehensive when we went the first time, but by memorial day he was loving it.
We brought this baby raft we got last year just to see if he wanted to float and all he wanted were the balls inside.  He is OBSESSED with balls.
As you can kind of see from the photos I had a little sunscreen mishap.  I attempted sunscreen and missed in key areas.  Luckily Max was all set and Kinsley joined us for fun in the pool  yesterday.
They had fun splashing around but didn't last too long as Max started shivering.  We brought their water table for them to play with and Max loved it.  He stayed at the pool for almost 4 hours, he almost napped with me on the lounge chair, but with all the kids walking by he would jump up and want to play.
 I already know that we're going to have a hard time getting him out of the water this summer! 
How adorable is Kinsley in her bikini! 
Fun times with cousins.  Max and Kinsley enjoying some crackers sitting together.
Thank  you to Auntie Marla and Uncle Chris for Max's bathing suit ensemble.  He looked adorable, but we couldn't get him to keep the matching striped hat on!
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Food Friday: Crockpot Pork Carnitas

This recipe is pretty easy, it uses the crockpot and would be perfect for a big gathering over memorial day weekend. It comes from Pinch of Yum.
    4-5 lbs. pork shoulder
    5 cloves garlic
    1 tablespoon salt
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1 teaspoon oregano
    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (optional)
    juice of 2 limes
    ½ cup orange juice
    12 ounces beer (it's necessary, it makes the flavor of the whole thing)
    ½ cup salsa (I like to use a less chunky one)
   - Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Roughly chop the garlic and place in the slow cooker (I actually kind of rubbed it onto the meat to get as much garlic flavor as possible, but you could just toss it in, too).
   - Sprinkle the meat with salt, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne. Rub seasonings onto the pork.
   - Add lime juice, orange juice, beer, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
   - Shred meat with two forks directly in the slow cooker (or take out, shred, and replace in sauce). It should fall apart easily.
   - Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the shredded meat on the cooking sheet and pour a few spoonfuls of sauce over the top. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until you get browned edges on the pork. This is a MUST.  We debated doing it and tasted it before and after. It makes a difference. Just do it.
 Serve on tortillas with fresh cilantro, black beans, avocado, lime juice or whatever ya got.
This recipe is Max approved (but what isn't these days).  Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Backyard Renovation Inspiration and Tour

Some of the first renovations we really want to tackle is in the backyard.  Normally we would wait since it's not an immediate need, but the fence is something we have to have soon.  Molly is a wanderer.  She likes to explore, which sometimes includes walking the whole neighborhood.  She is fine if you stand on the deck and talk her through the whole going to the bathroom situation, but if you let her out and go inside she'll be making her way through the woods and around the neighborhood.
Let's take a tour of our backyard.  We do have a decent size grassy area in the yard off of the deck areas, but as you can see there is a big slope into the woods. It's great for water run off, but not so great for children who roll easily. 
We have 2 gigantic decks that were already existing when we moved in.   The bottom deck is actually off the walk out basement level and there is a false concrete area so when you are looking up at the house from the backyard it looks like 4 stories (so let's just say it's steep).  One of the plans for down the road is to screen in one of the decks. Although we'd have to go downstairs to enjoy it, it'll be much easier to screen in the lower deck.
Here is our view from the grassy area into the woods.  It's a very peaceful serene view.

I really don't want to block any of the woods so we're going to install a black aluminum fencing, similar to what you'd see around pools. I like that we won't have to stain the fence and maintain it like you would a wood fence. It's more expensive, but we really don't have a huge area to worry about. I really just want to make our backyard as useable as possible.  Another thing we want to make sure to do is to put steps from the side of the house all the way down to easily access from the driveway/side yard.   I found some inspiration photos via pinterest that I want to show  you.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

15 Month Update

**** If you can give any money to the disaster relief efforts in Oklahoma please stop over to my brother's blog for a complete list of ways you can help.****

I thought there was too much time in between the normal 12 month and 18 month updates so I thought I'd post an in between on our little buddy, Max.  He is a little over 15 months right now.   He is learning new things all the time so I wanted to document.
He is such a fun boy and acts so silly all the time.  His shirt was extremely dirty and I didn't want to waste another one after dinner (when I took these photos) so I just took his shirt off and we have a semi naked baby.
New Developments- He clearly says the word ball, he uses it for balls and any 3D round object (like apple, watermelon, the moon). He says dog, cracker (ka-ga), dada, mama (on occasion when he is crying/whining), car (picture a boston accent) and uh oh.  Michelle swears he has said the word breakfast clearly, but I haven't been able to get him to do it. 
He is now signing the word more, which is very helpful!  It looks like he is trying to get someone to fist fight (he takes one hand like he's showing us the number 5 and then fists the other hand and puts them together). If you ask him where his ears, nose, eyes, hair and belly button are he can point to them.
He has 7 teeth (4 on top and 3 on the bottom, not sure when the other bottom will come in).  
He loves playing with legos, blocks, cars balls and Molly most of all.  He has a pretty good arm on him for a 15 month old.  He is still climbing on anything and everything.  His new trick he just learned was opening doors.  We have the pull down handles inside and he can now get on his very tippy toes and pull the latch down and open it up.  Needless to say we have to lock doors.  He blows kisses and waves bye bye on command.  He LOVES facetiming with my brother and Marla.  My brother makes funny faces at him and Max is at his copying phase so he tries to do them back.  It's pretty cute.
Sleeping- He is still napping twice a day at around 10am and 3pm for about 1.5 hours on average each.  He gets a bath around 7:30pm and we read books until bed around 8pm. It's getting harder to get him to settle down at night since it's so light out still.  He loves his glow worm and presses him a lot before bed.
Eating- He is still loving food.  He gets mad when he doesn't get his smoothie in the morning and his cracker (raisin bread-bread, graham crackers, gold fish are crackers to him). He also loves his grapes, bananas and cheerios for breakfast.  He eats sandwiches, leftovers, raviolis, fruit, veggies for lunch and whatever we are having for dinner.  He is really loving watermelon now that the summer is here and just sucks that juice right up (and usually all over him).
 Personality- He is a pretty funny little guy.  He is very expressive and tries to make you laugh.  He does get shy around a lot of people.  It takes him a little bit to warm up and then he is good to go. 
He loves to get things for you, his most favorite thing is shoes.  He goes to the closet to pick shoes out for himself and for you.  Most of the time they aren't the proper ones, but he does know how to match and he ALWAYS wants you to put his shoes on him to walk around in. He is wearing size 3 pampers cruisers, size 18 month clothes (except for shorts and pants he can still fit in 12 month sizes and truth be told some of those fall off, too). 
He still looks nothing like me (I'll claim the eyelashes), but that's OK!  We love our little boy, he is so much fun.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

This weekend we...

We got a lot accomplished this weekend and it turned out to be the exact opposite weather than we were suppose to have. The weatherman said it was 20% chance of rain Saturday and Sunday and I'd say it should have been 80%.
Thursday night we started to get into the warm weather spirit by taking Max to get frozen yogurt. He really enjoyed it! 
This weekend mom got a new beautiful bed set.
David put out pine straw that is now fully washed away in the exact area you see David standing in (more on why in a minute).
Max helped as well.  He had to do exactly as Daddy was doing. It was adorable.
So Saturday night we had some CRAZY storms.  I'm talking full on lighting every .02 seconds, super loud thunder and torrential downpours. Luckily, magically Max did not wake up for it. We don't have curtains/blinds on our windows upstairs and boy was it a full on show.  I knew it was raining pretty bad, but I didn't know how bad until we got up.  Our little creek in the back is SO full.  We went out to get food Sunday morning and the one of the back roads behind our subdivision was fully flooded.  This is the yard beside the road. 
 Here is the view from the road. It was nuts!

Molly got a new dog bed finally which she definitely approves of. She has been laying there non-stop. We got it at SAM's and its a serta memory foam type thing.  She loves having the side arms and we had to have it washable.

We went to a graduation party on Sunday and Max got to play with his cousin Aiden.  He was a bit shy at first but they warmed up to each other pretty quickly.  Congrats Jake on graduation high school!

We were suppose to go to our neighborhood pool party yesterday as well, but judging from this picture I don't think you'd want to go either. All the debri and such from the storms contaminated the pool. It is DISGUSTING looking.
Max played ball with Molly a whole lot this weekend, too.

I did make an applique Memorial Day shirt for little Hadley.  It was kind of fun once I got the hang of it. I am going to work on 1 more for her and one for Max this week. So although we didn't accomplish everything on our to-do list we got a lot of it done.
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