Thursday, April 30, 2009

I *need* this...

Yes, I need another shmancy cake pan like I need another kid, but when you have a daughter whose career aspiration for the last 2 years has been to "bake da wedding cakes for da bri-eeeds," this cake pan is definitely a necessity.


suprise sunshine

The sun was actually shining AND we didn't have any plans (shocker!), so we decided to head to the park for some outdoor fun this afternoon. The girls had fun running and climbing with Uncle Josh and I.

Flowers for the Mama:

Picking flowers:

Playing with a worm:

Pretty flower:

My little petunia:

Ava on the rock climbing thing:

Emily on the go:

For dinner, I made my famous Bowties with Sausage Cream Sauce. Lots of you have asked me for the recipe in the past few months - so here it is!

Bowties with Sausage Cream Sauce
via somewhere on the web

1 package Bowtie pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound sweet or hot (your choice) Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1 can Italian-style plum tomatoes (28 ounce) drained and coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half & half

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to minutes, or until al dente; drain and set aside. Heat oil in a large, skillet over medium heat, add sausage and red pepper flakes and then until sausage is evenly brown. Stir in onion and garlic, cook until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, cream, and salt. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir cooked pasta into sauce, and heat through. Sprinkle with basil and serve.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes, part 2

Scene: Post MOMS Club afternoon coffee break, hosted at Mama's house. Mama surveys the damage (dress up clothes everywhere, shelf in bedroom pulled off of wall and used as a slide).

Mouthy 4 year old: Mama! I'm huuuuuuuuunnnnnnngrrrrrrry. Where's my dinner?

Mama looks at mouthy 4 year old and feels inspired. Pesky toddler has a doubtful look on her face.

Mama: Wouldn't it be nice if you helped me pick up the dress up clothes and put them away? I would be able to get dinner on the table a lot more quickly.

Mouthy 4 year old: MAMA! I clean ALL DAY LONG! I'm not cleaning anymore today!

Mouthy 4 year old tosses her hair back and goes into her room, slamming her bedroom door behind her. Mama contemplates sending Mouthy to a preschool in a different country. Like China.

Mama: Alas, I poured all of the Bailey's into my morning coffee.

Pesky toddler thinks that this is the funniest thing the Mama has said all day and starts laughing like a banshee.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Strawberry Bread

My girlfriend Barbara has made this strawberry bread for almost all of our play dates and other daytime gatherings. I finally (as in 3 years in the making!) got her to share the recipe with the rest of the class. I'm not taking nearly as long to share it with you:

Strawberry Bread
makes 1 loaf

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup sugar plus extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cups veg oil
2 eggs
2/3 chopped nuts (optional)

sprinkle berries with a little bit of sugar. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour loaf pan. Mix 1 cup of sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl. Blend oil and eggs. Add to berries, blend gently. Add to flour mixture. Stir in nuts. Stir until dry ingredients are just moistened. Bake 50-60 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Turn out from pan and cool completely.

Ayelet's notes: I made this with unsweetened applesauce instead of oil and cut down the sugar to 1/2 cup. Moist and very yummy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Vegetarian Taco Salad

Wednesday: Farfalle with Sausage Cream Sauce, salad, roasted green beans

Thursday: Out

Friday: Playgroup Potluck

Saturday: Breakfast!

Sunday: Pot Roast, potatoes, carrots, salad

Saturday, April 25, 2009

out of the mouths of babes

The scene: Mama has folded 4 loads of laundry. It sits neatly stacked on the couch, awaiting a carry to various rooms in the house. Mama attempts to use the bathroom, leaving pesky toddler and mouthy 4 year old alone with her precious laundry.

Mama returns to said neatly piled and folded laundry to find it completely demolished and thrown everywhere. Pesky toddler is dancing around with a sock on one hand and a t shirt over her head like a maniac.

Mama fights the urge to scream.

Mouthy 4 year old: Sometimes it's hard to be the Mama, huh Mama?

Mama: Very true, poodle. Very, very true.

Mama finds some Bailey's and pours it into her coffee, not at all minding the fact that it's 10:30 in the morning or that there was only a half inch left of coffee.

End scene.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Summer comes early

After much deliberation, we finally decided to remove Ava from her preschool. There was a lot of back and forth and trying to get us to stay. Ultimately, they wouldn't change their policies, so our summer vacation is starting 6 weeks earlier!

I'm going to take my friend Traci's advice and enjoy my extra mornings with Ava. She's more fun these days than ever, and loves to do the same things I am doing. Sadly, Emily and Mama's one on one outings will be at an end, but hey, she's the second child - she's getting the raw end of the deal no matter what.

So far, Ava seems unphased. We've got some playdates with her school friends planned in the next few weeks, and I hope to continue them throughout the summer.


The sun has been shining, the birds have been chirping...but still, I've got a lot on my mind.

Time for some cooking and baking!

I've had a craving for stewed prunes for a while....citrusy, syrupy, spicey, delicious with some nice thick yogurt. They make the house smell divine while they are cooking too.

Here's how to make some:

Thinly slice an orange (or lemon, or tangerine). Add it to a pot with 1 pound of pitted prunes and 1 cinnamon stick. Cover with water, simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the citrus and prunes are quite soft and the liquid has thickened. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. I prefer them reheated, but they're not too shabby while they are cold.

We also made some of the World's Best Sugar Cookies. I got a bunch of tiny cookie cutters a while back, so we made a half batch and brought them to share with friends at the park. Mmmmmm...

Monday, April 20, 2009

meal plan monday

I never posted the meal plan last apologies.

Monday: Antipasto platter (just meats, cheeses, pickled veggies, arugula). Maybe some bread, maybe not!

Tuesday: Salad Nicoise (but I will use a Julia Child recipe)

Wednesday: Oricchiete with peas, mint, and ricotta

Thursday: Chicken Paprika Casserole, steamed broccoli

Friday: Crockpot Lentils and Sausage, salad

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: Apple Raisin Dutch baby, eggs, sausage, fruit salad

Sunday, April 19, 2009

right now I'm...

...listening to the most hilarious sister giggle fest ever

...making my menu for the coming week and it's all salad! Must make up for all of the cupcakes...

...enjoying the sunshine on my toes

...pretending not to hear the dryer buzzer. I'm tired of folding laundry!

...excited to meet some friends for a park play date tomorrow

...thinking about sewing this skirt for Ava this week

...enjoying my new chalk pedicure...the girls colored all over my feet!

...patiently waiting for Joel to come home from Seattle

...eating frozen grapes...mmmm...

pictures from the week

We've been recovering from the week of birthdays and a yucky cold. Ava has been completely worn out (but napping for about 45 minutes every day...woohoo!), Emily has been her usual happy go lucky self, I've been trying to get some projects done for myself (seriously...why do I bother??). This weekend has been rather crazy, and I'm actually looking forward to the coming week when the girls have a few play dates and I have a weekend away with some girlfriends to look forward to!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

virtual cupcake - birthday edition!

I bought Wilton's Giant Cupcake pan to start using for birthdays...the birthday girl will get to feast on this while the rest of us have normal size cupcakes.

Yes, I made too many cupcakes. But there such a thing? Good thing we have playgroup tomorrow and also Friday :) I plan on giving all of the kids a sugar high...


Hard to believe that 4 years ago at this very second, Ava Rose entered our world. I'm not going to lie - the thought of becoming a parent scared the daylights out of me. I had my own life and enjoyed all of the freedom that came with it. I wasn't really that into babies. They cried, pooped, and drooled. Definitely not my cup of tea. I'd told everyone that I was going to go back to work. There was a day care in my office parking lot and everything.

Then this happened:

Needless to say, I've been home ever since.

That red faced little wiggle worm has grown into a sensitive, caring, intelligent, fun, silly, lovely little girl. She loves cooking and baking, art projects, and playing with her sister. She likes to help Daddy fix things, and loves to help me fold towels. She enjoys testing the limits, but she also likes to sit in my lap and listen to me read her stories for hours.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Big A!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

an update

Thanks to all for the emails and calls :)

Ava is at home now, breathing (WOOHOO!). Her reaction got really bad about an hour after we arrived at the hospital - when the peanuts started to be digested. She was given a total of 5 doses of epinephrine (including the one I gave her) and lots of steroids. There was talk of transferring her to the local children's hospital because for a while, she was not responding to the medication. Luckily, they came up with a magic formula and it worked.

After coming home, we gave her more steroids and she has been bouncing off the walls. She's still puffy and rashy, but much better than she was earlier. I've managed to talk her into thinking that not all Easter eggs are bad - just the ones with foil wrapped candies. Amazing what a few jelly beans can do to change a 4 year old's opinion.

My dear friend Nicole, whose daughter also has a severe peanut allergy, reminded me that it's probably a good thing that Ava will remember this event. I hope that she remembers just how sick she got so that she can stay away from the bad treats. It's a lot of responsibility to put on a kid, but I know that Ava can do it.

Until then, I'm happy to go get in bed with my soon to be birthday girl and listen to her breathe.

what did you get in your Easter basket??

Because we got a nice dose of anaphylactic shock.

Ava had an egg hunt at school this morning. I stuff her eggs with benign jelly beans. I had a conversation with her about how foil wrapped candy has nuts in it and that she can't eat her candy until her teacher looked through it first. Her teacher had the same conversation with the class. Then she turned around to see Ava polishing off a peanut butter cup.

Luckily her teacher called me right away so I was able to get her to the ER within 20 minutes of her eating the peanut butter cup. Her reaction got worse before it got better.

**For the record, the length of this needle is about 3/4 of an inch. We both cried.***

I haven't decided how to deal with her school yet...her classroom is supposed to be nut free. Obviously, parents without nut allergic kids are going to stuff their kid's eggs with whatever they want. It would have been nice (and responsible!) for the school to check the eggs first, or for them to send out a note to parents letting them know that the treats should be nut free. Joel and I are a little miffed - we were promised a nut free classroom. Obviously, this is not the case. Do I yank her from school? Do I just ask them to pay for the hospital bills?

And then there's Ava...she's so sensitive and high strung. She's already said that she hates being different (even though quite a few of her friends have serious food allergies), but now she is saying that she is afraid of Easter eggs. Poor kid.

Normally, I'd have a few Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and maybe a glass of wine on a day like today...but it just doesn't seem right.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

Monday: Garlic Pasta, fresh radishes, salad

Tuesday: Taco Salad

Wednesday: Matzo Brie (kind of an egg/matzo scramble), fruit, sausage

Thursday: Rosemary Dijon Pork Chops, oven roasted potatoes, green beans

Friday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken, Brown Rice, Chinese Broccoli

Saturday: dinner at Nana's

Sunday: out


Matzo Toffee

Welcome, Spring!

This weekend, we decided to take advantage of the lovely weather (finally) get outside. The girls and I had been cooped up for almost two weeks with viruses, rain, and general ickies.

We hit up the farmer's market, got some lovely veggies, and then headed to Tryon Creek State Park for the Trillium Festival. Ava loves nature hikes lately, so I gave her a grocery bag and let her pick up pinecones, seeds, leaves, and branches. We had a great time enjoying the scenery and trying to identify the plants and flowers that we found.

Ava hunting for treasures on the trail:

Emily hunting for more mud to roll in:

A patch of Trillium:

Ava with a purple Trillium flower painted on her cheek:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

spring crafts

The girls and I have been cooped up for the last few days due to illness and RAIN. Lots and lots of rain. Emily has a nasty virus and molars coming in (such a wonderful combination...NOT!). What have we been doing? ART!

We did some hand print butterflies. Ava drew a rainbow behind her's:

Both girls' hand print butterflies:

Ava made this collage depicting all of the parts of a plant. We used string, dried beans, and paper and then labeled each part:

Potluck Playgroup

I know that I've mentioned that we met some great mommies and kids through our hospital's new mom's group after Ava was born. It's so great that we are all still meeting. Every other week, we meet at someone's house for a late afternoon playgroup that turns into a potluck dinner. The best part is that dads are also able to stop in and hang out.

I can't believe that it's been almost 4 years that we've been meeting! Our babies used to be tiny lumps who were laying on their blankets while we'd just get to know each other by sharing poop/breastfeeding/lack of sleep stories. We've moved on from those topics (actually, I don't think we ever even talk about our kids anymore!) and have really become great friends.

Here are a few pictures from our recent potluck:

Obviously, we've added a second generation, and it's only made playgroup more fun. Here's to many more get togethers!

Finally, some sun!

We had about 30 minutes of sunshine the other day, so we decided to take advantage of it by getting out our wiggles at the park.

Ava off in search of things to add to our nature table:

Emily is OBSESSED with slides lately!

Someone knows that she's not supposed to be climbing UP the slide...that smile cures it all: