Monday, September 28, 2009

another monday, another meal plan!

Breakfast: French toast, fruit
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: slow cooker buffalo chicken soup, homemade bread, veggies for dipping

Breakfast: cereal, fruit
Lunch: sandwiches, salad
Dinner: out

Breakfast: eggs, toast, sausage
Lunch: quick veggie soup, homemade bread
Dinner: homemade pizza, veggies to dip

Breakfast: pumpkin spiced oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: homemade sweet potato gnocchi with browned butter and fried sage, salad

Breakfast: eggs in a nest, fruit
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: applesauce whole wheat pancakes, apple cider syrup, bacon, fruit

Breakfast: leftover pancakes and syrup
Lunch: soup, bread
Dinner: shepherd’s pie, salad

Breakfast: granola and yogurt
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: bouef bourguignon, buttered egg noodles, salad

Carrot muffins, whole wheat bread, pizza dough

Sunday, September 27, 2009

just like the mama

I've written before about Ava and her mama-like tendencies. She mothers Emily almost as much as I do (currently, she's sitting next to Em while Em uses the little potty, reading her a story). She loves to bake, sew, read, and scrapbook with me, and lately, she's loved to clean with me. The other day, I thought she was being a little too quiet while playing in her room so I went to check on her and this is what I found:

I wish I would have taken a picture of her room after she was done with it! It was IMMACULATE. She dusted, she made her bed (and made it WELL), she put all of the toys, clothes, and trinkets away. She's wearing an apron. It made this mama a teary eyed mama, for sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

this post sponsored by Erath Pinot Noir

concentration is the name of the game

This has been a crazy week!

The girls started the week off with a lovely head cold (that they oh so nicely shared with Mama). Of course they got better right when I got the stuffies. Then came the play dates, baking day (where I ran out of eggs, thanks to pesky two year old and was SAVED by my friend Taegan. She has chickens.). Have I mentioned how much I want some chickens?? Joel and I will have been together 10 years in November...what is more romantic than some fuzzy chicks and an ark to put them in for my gift?? But I digress...where was I? Oh yes, baking day. Once again, I made Amish White Bread. Holy moly, this is good stuff. Soft, with a firm crust, a touch of sweetness, and the dough is a dream. I confess that I kneaded it by hand because it was so fun. Plus, pesky 4 year old had an incident at the gym daycare and I needed to finish my workout somehow.

Speaking of pesky 4 year old...she's back to her old tricks: awake before 5. This does not bode well for Daddy's upcoming business trip. Let's all pray to the gods that she kicks the habit over the weekend. Because really...4:30 is not in the morning. It's the freaking middle of the night. Particularly when your REM sleep began after midnight.

Besides being pesky, the 4 year old has been tons of fun this week. For school, we learned about people in the community (remember the old Sesame Street song???). This tied in to our newest lapbook, which is based on the book and movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Did you read this book as a kid or to your kid? I can't believe that Joel had never heard of it! Can't wait to take her to see it this weekend. The movie looks quite different from the book, but still looks fun. Of course, she only gets to see it if she stays in her room until at least 6:30. Wish me luck. She also learned about the days of the week at her preschool co-op. Her homework is a booklet with a page for each day where she needs to write a picture of what we do each day of the week. Mama: "Well, Aves, what do we do on Sunday?" Ava: "We watch football!" Yep, she drew a picture of Mama and Daddy parked on the couch, mini crock pot in front of us, beer next to us. Niiiiiiiiiiiice. And true, very true. Emily has also done some homeschooling - we've been focusing on apples and farms, which has been a lot of fun! The girls have made some apple themed art and we've been talking about farmers and what they do (and Emily has been making some seriously cute farm animal sounds. Her MOO rocks!).

Shamless cute topless baby photo:

I promise...that wine bottle was NOT open during school hours! Only right after...

While Ava has been in school, Emily and I have taken advantage of the two year old story time at the local's so fun! She loves story time! They do a few free crafts afterward, which only sweetens the deal for her. I love having time with just Emily. She's such a different kid than Ava and its fun to see her be herself when her big sister isn't around running the show.

"Mama, we're fancy like Nancy!"

I also got some one on one time with Ava this week - she did all of her chores and turned her tickets in for a Mama/Ava manicure at a fancy salon. I confess, I mainly chose the fancy place because I needed some serious help in the cuticle department. They filed Ava's nails, gave her a special drink, and gave her a special kid's magazine while her nails dried. After that we had a snack at Starbucks and then did some shopping for some fall clothes. Good times. Of course, the next day, she was back to her pesky self. Oh well, at least I have the memories, right??

See that scar? I got it while skiing when I was like 15. I hate the snow. And on another note: hands look OLD.

Luckily, I'm scheduled to drop the kids off at a friend's house tomorrow morning so I can do some housework (read: craft) it Saturday yet?? Oh wait...moms don't get weekends off.

I'd write more, but I have to go clean up this mess.

random thursday reappears!

I love this post on how to avoid the Mom Who Has Let Herself Go Disease.

I'm totally putting this soup in my meal plan for next week!

This would be a fun breakfast to make with the girls next week.

I plan on doing this craft with Ava when we do Weather Week next week.

I loved this tutorial for using recycled household goods in paper crafting projects.

I am totally making one of these dresses for Ava...and the crown too!

We're going to a soup and bread themed recipe exchange next month with our MOMS Club and these would be so fun to bring!

So many fun lunch ideas for the girls!

With all of the baby showers that I have coming up, I think I'm going to make these as gifts.

I think we've found the theme for Ava's next birthday party...I want one for my birthday too!

Monday, September 21, 2009

happy fall!

meal plan monday

trying to take advantage of this beautiful weather by using the grill and smoker this week!

Weekly Menu
September 21 – September 27
Breakfast: eggs, toast, fruit
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: spaghetti carbonara, spinach salad

Breakfast: granola and yogurt
Lunch: turkey sandwiches, salad
Dinner: out

Breakfast: pumpkin spice oatmeal
Lunch: out for sushi
Dinner: smoked pulled pork sandwiches, oil and vinegar slaw, veggies for dipping

Breakfast: eggs in a nest, fruit
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: grilled veggie sandwiches

Breakfast: pumpkin oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: basil grilled chicken, pasta salad with leftover grilled veggies

Breakfast: pancakes, eggs, sausages
Lunch: out
Dinner: leftovers

Breakfast: granola and yogurt
Lunch: enchiladas
Dinner: hamburgers on the grill, grilled corn on the cob, veggies for dipping

Whole wheat bread, pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream cheese filling,, deep dish apple pie

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

reason 221 why I love homeschooling

We're really starting to get into a homeschooling groove around here. There is SO MUCH information out there that I've honestly been having a hard time picking something and running with it. We finally settled on a curriculum of sorts - a sound of the week, a day of science, a day of social studies, and a creative day. Add handwriting and math to the mix, and we've got a lot to keep us busy! I'm also trying to incorporate toddler friendly activities for when Emily joins us.

Yesterday was our creative day and we made an All About Me lapbook. If you're not familiar with lapbooking, it's a great way to focus on a subject! You take a file folder, and add in worksheets, games, and other activities as you go. When you're done, you've got a great learning tool for quiet time, or any time. This particular lapbook was so fun to make! I got to interview Ava, we learned about the town we live in, she got to do some searching on the internet, we talked about our family, and also about the things that make Ava unique. If you've never interviewed your child, I highly recommend it!

I was able to find some great templates online for our lapbook and we can't wait to do another one soon! Picture overload:

As you can see, the inside is full of mini books and flaps:

We did some online research about the town of Tigard and printed off a Google map for the book on the bottom:

This flap book was about our home. Ava got to write in her answers on the back of the flaps:

The right side has a triangle book about how Ava likes to spend her time, an interview, and a graduated book all about her body:

She loved the fingerprint portion:

The interview was so fun! I wrote down what she said word for word and some of the answers are hilarious!

The triangle fold:

The center flap has a birthday cake that Ava decorated, a flap for her signature, tickets that list her favorite places to go, and a portrait of her family (that she drew):

Under it is a book of her favorite books, a pocket with cards that list her favorite things, and her family and friends' phone numbers. There's also a sample of her weekly schedule:

The schedule:

Ava's favorite things:

Her phone book. We put family and a few of her best friends in it:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

true story

If you give a mom a muffin, she'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.

She'll pour herself some. Her three-year-old will spill the coffee.

She'll wipe it up. Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks.

She'll remember she has to do laundry. When she puts the laundry in the washer, she'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.

Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper. She will get out a pound of hamburger.

She'll look for her cookbook. (101 Things To Make With A Pound Of Hamburger.)

The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail. She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.

She will look for her checkbook. The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old.

She'll smell something funny. She'll change the two-year-old. While she is changing the two-year-old the phone will ring.

Her five-year-old will answer and hang up.

She'll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee.

Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.

She will pour herself some.

And chances are, if she has a cup of coffee, her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

by Kathy Fictorie
based on "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff

the dreaded zucchini

I remember absolutely hating zucchini as a child. It was slimy and, well, it was GREEN. Once I went to live in the dorms, where the salad bar is king, I found that raw zucchini was actually pretty good. Somewhere along the lines, my tastes changed and I could even eat it cooked. I prefer it grilled with plain old olive oil, salt, and pepper. Or in a baked good...bread, cupcakes, muffins, and yes, even brownies.

I'm pretty sure that if I'd been given zucchini in the form of these muffins or brownies, I'd have developed a love for it at a much earlier age!

Low-Fat Zucchini Muffins
makes 12 standard or 24 mini

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar (can use more or less)
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Set oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners or spray tins with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl mix together first 7 ingredients. In a small bowl whisk together egg, oil, milk and vanilla.
In a medium bowl mix the shredded carrots with the crushed pineapple. Add in the oil/egg mixture into the carrot/pineapple mixture; mix well to combine, then add to the dry ingredients; mix JUST until combined. Add in the raisins and chopped nuts. Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin tins. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins test done.

***You could of course take the up the non-healthy quotient with these and frost them with cream cheese frosting. Or you could put all of the batter into a bread pan and bake it for about an hour. Toast your slices and spread with cream cheese or ricotta. mmmmmmm....***

Zucchini Brownies
serves 24

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2 In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

3 Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

***The batter appears dry until you stir in the zucchini. DO NOT add extra liquid or eggs! If after adding the zucchini the batter is still dry, add a few tablespoons of water to create a thick batter.***

Monday, September 14, 2009

right now I'm

smelling: my zucchini brownies cooling near the window.

listening: to Monday Night Football countdown...I've missed you, Chris Burman.

looking: at my clean floor (and wondering how long they'll stay that way!)

waiting: for kickoff!

excited: about Civil War! Thanks Kristen for the tickets!!

amazed: that Ava is napping. And has been for nearly two hours!

loving: Emily's adorable chubby toes. Seriously cute. Even when they're in my face.

drinking: coffee.

hoping: that I can escape to a tropical island someday soon.

anticipating: a night of good food and a few beers with my best buddy while we watch the MNF double header.

monday meal plan

Breakfast: yogurt and granola
Lunch: French dip sandwiches, veggies for dipping
Dinner: farfalle with zucchini and chicken, salad

Breakfast: eggs in a nest
Lunch: soup, veggies for dipping
Dinner: out

Breakfast: oatmeal, fruit
Lunch: chicken nuggets, fruit, veggies
Dinner: BBQ meatballs and spaghetti, broccoli

Breakfast: granola and yogurt
Lunch: sandwiches, salad
Dinner: cheesy brown rice and bean casserole, salad

Breakfast: muffins, smoothies
Lunch: beans and cornbread
Dinner: playgroup potluck

Breakfast: baked oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: pumpkin spice waffles, sausage, homemade applesauce

Breakfast: waffles
Lunch: sandwiches, veggies for dipping
Dinner: loaded baked potato soup, veggies and fruit

Zucchini brownies, French breakfast muffins, cornbread

Thursday, September 10, 2009

moderation, shmoderation

I made a pan of pumpkin bars to bring to our morning MOMS Club play date...everyone asked for the recipe, so here it is! I frosted mine with cream cheese frosting, but you could also just dust them with powdered sugar.

Classic Pumpkin Bars

2 c all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

4 eggs

1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin

1 2/3 c sugar

1 c cooking oil

¾ c chopped pecans (optional)

Cream Cheese Frosting

Pecan Halves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat together the eggs, pumpkin, sugar, and oil with an electric mixer until combined. Add the flour mixture; beat until well combined. If desired, stir in chopped pecans. Spread batter in an ungreased 15x10x1 inch pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Frost. Cut into squares. Cover and refrigerate to store.

***you could certainly substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil and half of the sugar. It changes the texture ever so slightly, but not enough to really matter***

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

wordless wednesday

yep, those bears are her audience. I thought maybe they were supposed to be stage lights.

Monday, September 7, 2009

meal plan monday

Breakfast: zucchini bread, yogurt, fruit
Lunch: leftover soup, sandwiches
Dinner: Israeli couscous with basil roasted eggplant

Breakfast: oatmeal, fruit
Lunch: sandwiches
Dinner: creamy crescent casserole, salad

Breakfast: eggs, toast, fruit
Lunch: tuna melts
Dinner: veggie quesadillas, black beans and rice

Breakfast: granola and yogurt
Lunch: sandwiches, salad
Dinner: white chicken chili, cornbread, veggies for dipping

Breakfast: muffins, smoothies
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: steaks, roasted potatoes, gorgonzola sauce, salad

Breakfast: baked oatmeal
Lunch: out
Dinner: leftovers

Breakfast: waffles
Lunch: pita pizzas, fruit
Dinner leftovers: pepperoncini beef sandwiches, veggies for dipping

Applesauce oatmeal muffins, pumpkin bread, granola

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

is it fall yet??

Well, I'm pretending that it is!

Our fantasy football draft is Saturday night (here's hoping that we fight less this year!), the first Ducks game is tomorrow, and we're meeting some friends to go apple picking next week. I love fall. I love red and orange leaves, pumpkins, Halloween, apples, pies, casseroles, stews, football, baseball, tailgates, hot chocolate, and crisp, sunny days.

Tonight my book club is meeting (we read Julie and Julia. Yes, I saw the movie, and the book is different. But the blog is the best!), so I made Julia Child's Tarte Tatin to bring with me. YUM. Well, how can it not be yummy with 2 sticks of butter and crisp fall apples? I made a pate brisee and then quartered my apples, let them boil with butter and sugar for about 20 minutes, and then baked the whole thing together. I'm not going to put the recipe here because it's lengthy, but it's in The Way to Cook. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy! The best pumpkin pie recipe in the whole world also resides in that book (and bonus: it makes two pies!). Yum. Yum. Butter.

Apples, sugar, and butter all swimming together in perfect harmony:

Holy caramelized goodness...

I think I'll be going for a nice long jog in the morning...

reason #156 why I like homeschooling

Mama/daughter embroidery time!

Today Ava finished her first project. I drew a simple shape on some muslin, gave her a blunt needle and some floss, and let her go to town. It helped that I was working on my own project so she watched me stitch and then copied what I was doing. This is such a fun, inexpensive activity to do with kids. I found a great idea in Amanda Blake Soule's new book to make bookmarks out of children's artwork that has been embroidered. I can't wait to try that out!

I hung Ava's finished embroidery in her room. She's so proud of her handiwork, and I'm so proud of her!