Sunday, January 31, 2010

Scarf Mania

Yes, this past holiday season I was nothing short of a crocheting machine. I started in October but really didn't hit the ground running until November when I started to kick the scarf making into high gear. Yes, scarves were a prominent feature in my gift-giving this past Christmas. I made 7 as gifts and an 8th for myself. Although I will admit the one that I claimed as my own had been intended as a gift and therefore I had to make an extra one in order to have enough.


I wanted to do a different pattern for each of them this group of five was for four of my girl friends, the purple one is that one I made and decided to keep for myself, it also is the one that took the most time. The teal one was a tad laborious in parts, but I would certainly use the pattern again, in fact I'd use all of these patterns again. Here is the patterns for the green scarf and unfortunately the pattern link for the red scarf (which was a Lion Brand free pattern) was not saved properly and I have no clue which one I used. I free formed the blue scarf and the pattern was more or less (chain as many loops for the width of the scarf, dc in each ch, 'ch3 turn, then dc into dc of previous row*, ch1, dc' repeat until you achieve the desired length of the scarf)

The scarf on the left and far right are both using the simple double crochet pattern that I made up** and the scarf in the middle is using the same pattern that I used for the green scarf. The two on the left I made in October and the one on the right was my last one that I completed on Christmas day. :) Whew just in time!

* I cannot recall exactly whether or not I skipped a dc on the original row and then ch1 or if I dc in each and in between each ch1. But play around with it and you can obtain whatever look you want. That's the beauty of free form - as long as your repetition is the same it will turn out looking just fine.

** I don't believe I actually broke innovative ground with this pattern, in fact I am certain I could scour the Internet and find this exact pattern (with clearer instruction) pretty easily, but I did make it up from 'scratch'

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sleep Progress

Ace continues to have progress toward healthy sleeping habits. On Thursday night he slept from 9pm until 2:30am! Another 5.5 hour stint! Woohoo. Now granted from about 3am-7am he slept horrifically, rolling all around, fussing in his sleep, waking, nursing, I'd pull away after he clearly would be suckling and not eating and he'd scream - repeat for four hours. Around 7am he settled in and slept for an additional 80 minutes after that he awoke and said 'all done' - well I guess that's that. A far greater feat than Tuesday and Wednesday nights' sleeping patterns which were more traditional Ace Sleeping Habits: 3-3.5 hours of sleep, wake, sleep and wake every two hours (or less) and then wide awake at 6:45am. So Thursday night was a welcomed deviation from the standard.

Friday night he went to sleep at 9pm after eating 4 nuggets, nursing, and drinking a full bottle right before sleeping and he awoke 1:15 (4.25hrs, yipee!) which is better than his average. I brought him to our bed and tried to corral him into a good REM cycle only to have him awake or nursing suckling until 3:30 at which point I could not take it anymore and gathered him up and toted him to his room, turned on the space-heater and laid him in bed, prepared to nursing him unconscious, when I laid him down though he was out... um ok sweet! Back to bed I went, although sleep did not come to me until around 4:15 - siigh. Ace woke again at 6:15, nearly another three hours asleep on his own. Between 6:15-7:30 it was more of the same snooze-fits and by 7:30 he was sitting up saying 'CAT!' as loud as he could (he had spotted Tort at the end of the bed, also still trying to sleep!) So Friday night was a new first in the battle progress toward sleeping through the night: putting Ace back in his bed after we've brought him into ours. I think that we'll continue to try that in the near future as it seems to have been beneficial to all parties and not at all a painful transition (this time.)

Naps have been going ok as well. I've given up forcing them - after the last battle on Monday of two hours to get him down for an hour nap - I decided the 'AM' nap that we had been more or less consistently doing was just not working. The remainder of this week I simply watched for cues of sleepiness on Wednesday it took 15 minutes to get him to sleep around 4pm (after waking up at 6:45am) and he slept for 2 hours and still went to bed without much issue around 9pm. Thursday, which also began around 6:45am he went down for a nap at 1pm in two minutes - I took him upstairs and he was OUT and he slept for 55 minutes. Friday, he was a tad more rambunctious when I started to put him down for his nap, but he had been so volatile for nearly two hours and he wasn't hungry (part of the problem in the first hour) that I decided that it was nap time. He was squirmy, rolled over and kicked a few times - events that had not taken place on Wednesday or Thursday - but he still went to sleep within ten minutes and slept for 80 minutes. Today is Saturday - and always a tad different from the rest of the week - since he awoke at 7:30 and has been playing pretty hard off and on all morning with his father, Loving Husband put him down for a nap starting at 10:30 so took about 20 minutes, so he's napping now, but who knows what that means for the rest of that day :) Only time will tell.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Growing

Last night my husband put Ace in his pjs. Ace had been pretty warm (odd since in general I've been freezing this week!) so he wanted to put him in something a little cooler than his feetie pjs or flannel ones and so into the pj drawer he dug and found an outfit that provided ample exposure of the arms and legs and seemed to fit it ok :) He came down to visit me and the others that were here having a book club discussion and I snickered just a little and sat in awe all at the same time.

You see Ace was wearing a six month outfit. One that he actually wore at 11 weeks and 2 days old. He looked adorable running around in well bloomers. And it made my heart ache at how far and how fast we've gotten to this point. And all along the way he's been a joy and adorable as ever.


Flashback Friday


One year ago today Ace enjoyed his first solid food. You would think that after a year of consuming food - he'd be a pro at it - not so much. Now don't get me wrong he's ventured out of eating rice cereal and breast milk, but getting to eat in general is still equally as laborious. He is asking to 'eat' more and to be fair he is eating a lot more than in the past months he had been - but eating does not come plentiful for this boy. He tries his best and I am sure he eats what makes him satisfied - he obviously isn't starving. But I didn't think eating would be a chore and it on many days is. That's ok - he's still as adorable as the first day we gave him "solid" food.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The other side of the fence...

We can't help it - we always want to see if it's 'greener' on the other side of the fence! Sometimes we find that it is, other times we find that it's no different, sometimes we can see that is 'greener' and we just can't quite make it there... unless we are determined. Ace was determined.



Yes well this playful fun is all well meaning and totally mundane... what is she talking about 'fences' what does this have to do with this picture sequence one iota? Well you see... it has to do with the fact that we were on the midlevel and the playroom is on the basement level behind a gate.... that my son fashioned a step 'ladder' and climbed over to play in. After establishing the silence and photographing this amusing tale, I left him to his own devices and he played for about 20 minutes before realizing that he was imprisoned and started singing for his release: 'STUUUUUUUUUUUCK!'

Putting his 'lello ball in caaaa'? Having a lot of fun. Showing his 'lello ball' to his momma..

What? You think this seems normal, no fences here?
Just a boy playing with his toys?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Glimpse

He may leave me utterly sleep deprived, stressed, overwhelmed, and black and blue, but I wouldn't trade any of it. Even on days when I find myself crying and beating my head against a wall because he won't sleep, can't be satisfied ... when I'm convinced that certainly his picture is next to the word tantrum in the dictionary ... when he looks at me plainly after I said no and immediately does it anyway ... I still love him and wouldn't trade him in for the world. It makes me stop and think how I am being gifted a mere glimpse of what God's love for us truly is and for that I am thankful.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Seventeen Months Old

Ace has had another wonderful month filled with lots of excitement and the start of a new decade! Lots of fun was had.

New events in Ace's 17th month included: staying the whole church service in the nursery, molars, jumping down, scaling heights, outgrowing another pair of shoes, a toddler bed!

Yes, Ace has had a lot of fun this month from a train ride home from Oregon, to visiting with all of his grandparents, Ace had a great time. He had a nice second Christmas and slept through New Years Eve (even through New York's.)

New words for Ace are becoming increasingly harder to document because he's coming up with more and more on what seems like a daily basis - but the ones that I recall include: button, water (clearly stated now), cat (he had lost it for a while), bird, bu-bye, duck, book, sit, purple, orange, booo (blue), red...

Teeth - he has one molar all the way in and the other three in the set have all broken through at one point or another in the gums, so I suspect by his next dentist appointment (which happens to be on the day he turns 1.5!) those should all be well established in his mouth.

Swimming lessons resumed during this month and he is having a blast with those. He can hold his breath under water for 3+ seconds and remembers the cue for holding his breath as well. He gets really excited to whenever we get to the pool and can't wait to get in. Mom loves it too and loves nap time afterward equally as much (almost!) Ace took a 2 hour nap after one last week - that's the longest he's napped ... ever since exiting the sleepy-newborn phase of life.

On the sleeping front, Ace is now sleeping in a 'big boy' bed. We converted his crib to the toddler bed right after the new year and started the routine of putting him to sleep in his bed each night (rather than our own) we also started the routine of leaving him to his own devices during nap and at night to put himself to sleep and that has been progressing effectively as well. He still however does not sleep for very long. His naps are on average an hour (which is an improvement from months past) on occasion we get 90 minutes and then the rarest gem of all two hours! Sleeping at night still continues to be a battle of endurance for the parents - yes the average stint is 3hours or at the usual best 3.5 - however a few weeks ago he did sleep for nearly six hours and I couldn't have been more excited. It has yet to be repeated though. He continues to grow so he's obviously sleeping enough.

He's a busy boy and has started to explore his ability to move and jump. He has started to jump off of things - like his bed or from a box. Nothing of extreme heights yet, but since he's well on his way to ascending great heights its only a matter of time before he puts these two activities together.

Ace loves to smile and is a very happy boy. He's started to be a bit more independent and will spend extended time playing by himself with his toys or 'reading' a book to himself. He still plays well with others and observes them with great interest - and so far he is a good sharer of his toys. Although somewhat perplexed when kids try to hoard toys. He has a developed fascination with technology (go figure!) and wants everything 'on': lights, tv, radio... it doesn't matter. In fact in recent weeks I've used this to my advantage to get him to eat. Every time he takes a bite he gets to turn on a light. Gets him to eat and most of our light bulbs are energy efficient :)

In a month I have an 18 month old! Crazy!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flashback Friday


One year ago today we were in California with Ace for the first time. It was his first visit to the Sunshine Golden State. It was only the second (and last) time Grum had seen him. The time before he was only three weeks old! He had grown a lot (he was 5 months old at this visit) and she loved to hug him and just watch him. It was a wonderful visit and they are wonderful pictures and memories to have. To see more pictures from our adventures this is the blog from that trip.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Going vertical

Yes that's right - remember back oh 5 months ago when I said Ace was 'climbing' haha Oh naive mommy! I knew then that he would climb greater heights but sheesh we now officially have a 'climber' no doubt about it now. See for yourself. There have been other heights scaled that were a tad more precarious and required removal rather than photographic documentation. ;-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Swim and Swing

I absolutely love swim lesson days. Some times it is hard to get there. Some times it is stressful getting there on time. But every time it is worth it. Ace has so much fun, even when he hates to backfloat. It's amazing to see all the progress that he has made from when he was this small at 7 months to today where he has extend breath control (3 seconds underwater) and can kick, blow bubbles, and even get into the pool safely by rolling over and holding onto the side. He's so happy in the water and such a happy boy even when lessons are over. Today after swimming we went to the park. Watching him squeal with delight and trying to make himself go in the swing was just a joy to watch. I love this guy - sometimes I think my heart will burst with how much. Even more so when he takes a TWO hour nap (his longest ever since exiting the 'sleepy-newborn' phase!)
There is no sound to this video the transfer from the phone to the computer causes a loss in sound and picture quality for that matter.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The 100 Minute War

Yes, after the high I had of Ace sleeping through the night the very next day the attempt to get him down to sleep took 100 minutes. I've waited to post this until I've mostly forgotten about it - but I just feel it's important to document that highs and the lows.

Ace is a truly bright child. Before he's even 18 months old he can identify colors, count to 2, can follow multiple step instructions, and is even showing signs of identifying written words. Every parent thinks their child is bright, highly advanced, and is the smartest kid - I am proud that I feel the same. ;-) He truly is a smart child and I just wonder how much smarter would he be if he slept more?! Perhaps him sleeping more could render way more problems for me because he's too smart for his own good. Is there such a thing? I am thankfully (?) in the dark as to the answer - as he just doesn't need (?) or want to sleep more.

I don't begrudge him by any means - but I certainly am jealous when parents talk about the plight of their children only sleeping for a 6 hour stint instead of their regular 10 or 12. I find it hard to pity their plight, but I recognize for them it is a plight so I don't try to scoff at it - I just clench my jaw and scream in my head 'If you only knew!'

So our efforts continue - he is on a pretty regular schedule for naps and getting down to sleep. However, heaven only knows if going down for the nap will take 15 minutes, 45, or 100 minutes to get to. We have started to leave him alone in the room to get himself to sleep at night time. For naps, I tend to leave him alone for nearing close to an hour of 'quiet laying in bed' time and then go in for the last 15 minutes and he renders unconscious pretty quickly - that doesn't always work into the schedule though for us needing to go anywhere in the afternoon or evenings. It's hard to know what is right, what is best for our child, what will work for our child. We continue to pray, read, and continue to put him to sleep - and know that obviously he is doing ok.

Time to go. It's nap time! ;-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Flashback Friday


Before walking, before teeth, before solid food,
this was my boy at five months old.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sleep!

Ace is not a sleeper. Far from it. I've discussed this plight before. However, today I am proud to announce (and document!) that Ace last night slept from 11pm until 4:37am! Both Loving Husband and I awoke to hearing his cries - LH went to go get him - and I checked the clock. I was guessing it was simply 1 or 2am nope! 4:37am!!!!! Do you know what this means?! This means my son slept for FIVE hours and 37 minutes! (give or take a minute or two) I was THRILLED! I mean elated! hopeful that ONE day he really will sleep!

In fact yesterday in general was a pretty good sleep day. Aside from the fact it took 90, yes NINETY minutes to get him to sleep he had 2 good naps (1 hour each) and getting him down for those naps took less than 20 minutes total. Typically my day consists of an average of 3 hours trying to get him to nap or sleep. He honestly doesn't like to calm down and relax in order to fall asleep. So sometimes it is a fight and sometimes it's just plain ridiculous - but yesterday was a breath of fresh air - honestly. Even the 90 minutes of getting him to sleep (which 60 I attempted and the other 30 LH got him asleep eventually) wasn't so terrible. Discouraging in the moment but easily forgotten when I woke up at 4:37am to my son's first cries of the night!!

My son slept for 337 minutes!!! Over 5 hours! Honestly I could not be more excited if he had slept through the night entirely. Seriously. Why am I jumping up and down over less than 6 hours of sleep? Because literally that is the second longest he's ever slept. The longest is 6 hours, which he did at 4 months old... 13 months ago. His average stint is 3 hours before he wakes to eat or just be comforted for a period of time back to sleep. So 3 hours times 3 times a night - broken sleep is actually laughable - is it broken if that's the standard? Siigh. Yes, yes it is! But last night since a) he went to bed so late and b) he slept for over 5 hours - I actually managed to get 4.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. That has happened ONE other time in the last 17 months... when I had a sleepover.

I love my son, and I love him even when he doesn't sleep or let me sleep - but I won't lie - it's been wearing on me. I've been praying a lot lately for some relief, for God to help him sleep, for him to know that he's safe, that he doesn't need to wake up, and last night's lengthy stint of sleep is honestly a sign of an answered prayer and I can only hope and pray that it develops and extends into the norm.


Ace napping after swim lessons. The last two weeks after swim lessons I've simply taken him out of the car (mostly unconscious) and just laid him in his bed and he's out for over an hour. It is a nice blessing and reward for waking up so early for swim lessons.

Turkey cutlets with rosemary and shallots

I have to say that this was a pretty tasty meal, although not entirely well thought out on my part. See I am prone to have those timing issues when I cook. I do not have the finesse to simply have everything come together right when I need or want it to. Not simply the multiple parts to a meal - but the steps within making a dish. This dish called for several steps - spaced minutes apart - and while perfection is not key to make a successful edible meal - it did cause a bit of stress for me. Huh? I know I'm rambling.

What I mean to say is that if you are going to make this dish and you are prone to timing issues - have everything measured out and ready to go before embarking on cooking this dish. I became flustered after realizing that I needed a dry white wine which I had skipped over when preparing my shopping list. ... no fear though I had a bottle of unopened Chardonnay in the fridge - so moments before I am to be adding this to the skillet I am furiously trying to uncork and very uncooperative 2007 bottle of Chardonnay... and the cork suffered. In fact the cork was annihilated. I basically had to uncork it twice. I'm sure I looked pretty ridiculous at this point as obviously it wasn't the end of the world, nothing was burning or on fire but I was frantically and frustratingly trying to get this freakin cork OUT! Seeing as how it all worked out and the food was fine even with a minute or two delay I am pretty sure my reaction was a bit unnecessary. Ahem... anyway.

This meal I actually made two recipes that I had never tried before. The first turkey cutlets with rosemary and shallots, another recipe out of Everyday Food's December issue (yes eventually I will have made everything and move onto another magazine, cookbook or other) and the second spinach with blueberries a recipe provided by a neighbor who shares my plight in getting a picky toddler to eat anything vegetable or healthy.

Turkey cutlets with rosemary and shallots

I procured one turkey breast at the store for a nice $2.50 a little over a pound not so huge and not so tiny and I split it in half length wise then I halfed the smaller side and cut the larger piece into three sections. Upon completing that the recipe calls to hammer the meat. My son assisted me in this endeavor. He loves to 'cook' and help in the kitchen and I think promoting a healthy appreciation in the kitchen is important so rather than shoo him to go watch a movie, he was allowed to help.


Ingredients (as adapted by me):
1 boneless turkey-breast half, sliced on the diagonal into 5 cutlets
2 T of extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large shallot
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 springs of rosemary (1.5 inches each)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 T cold unsalted butter cut into pieces

Directions:

  • Place turkey cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet pound cutlets into 1/4-inch thickness.
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 T of oil over medium-high heat. Season turkey with salt and pepper.

  • Cook turkey until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side (add more oil or reduce heat to medium if skillet becomes too dark. Transfer turkey to a plate.



  • Add 1 T of oil and shallots to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots begin to soften, about 4 minutes.

  • Add wine and rosemary and cook until syrupy, about 3 minutes.

  • Add broth and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.



  • Return turkey to skillet and cook until warmed through, about 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in butter.
I would make this dish again, but as I already stated I'd have it all set out before starting - or at the very least uncork your wine beforehand. ;-)


Spinach with blueberries

This dish was extremely simple and surprisingly tasty. Getting my son to eat anything that is a veggie isn't so much the problem as getting him to eat anything is. He enjoys broccoli, even cauliflower, but to get him to eat much of anything requires a lot of patience - so in trying to get him to eat healthy I'll take any tricks. My neighbor offered me this one. Ingredients:
1 bag of spinach
1 cup of blueberries
1 tsp of salt

Directions:

  • Steam spinach and blueberries together in a double boiler until soft, might require to be done in two batches depending on the space availability of your double boiler.

  • Add salt after steamed and stir together. The blueberries will infuse into the spinach.

This was yummy. The blueberries weren't necessarily sweet anymore afterwards but the spinach which can have a bitter taste to it lost all bitterness as well and the salt really combined it all together. My son ate almost a cup of steamed spinach for dinner and consequently this was the same night that he slept for nearly 6 hours straight, spinach with dinner every night!

Cheddar and Sage Biscuits

I love carbs. A lot. I can eat the innards of a loaf of french bread in less than an hour (I'm not a crust fan) I absolutely love all things bread. I can eat my weight in pasta when I get a good hankering for it. I just love 'em! Luckily the Lord blessed me (currently) with the ability to enjoy them and not be the size of a house. In fact during this season in particular (breastfeeding) I am enjoying an excess amount of them :) because I am certain my days are numbered on the endless consumption of delicious bread and pasta carbs.

Another recipe from the December issue of Everyday Food caught my eye instantly! How delicious biscuits are - in fact when I go to KFC I might have one piece of chicken and like 4-5 biscuits for my meal - so when there's a good recipe to make them at home I get very excited! Add cheese and fresh spices, yum yum yum! And indeed they were, albeit a tad salty!

Ingredients (as adapted by me):
4 cups of all-purpose flour
2 T of baking powder (yes tablespoons!)
1 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp coarse salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 T chopped fresh sage
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1.5 cups of low-fat buttermilk

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450'. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add cheddar and sage. Add butter and mix until it is a texture of a coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces butter remaining. Add buttermilk and mix until combined.
  • Turn dough out until a lightly floured work area and knead just until it comes together. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough to a 3/4-inch thickness. With a floured 2.75" biscuit cutter, cut out 12 biscuits (reroll and cut scraps)
  • Place biscuits on baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden. 12 to 15 minutes.

One of the next thing on my kitchen cooking gadgets and supplies will be a silicon baking mat, however I have yet to procure it. So far wax paper and a taping job has been working sufficiently for my purposes - although you can't roll the rolling pin perfectly with this creation. This recipe calls for a TON of salt and is almost TOO salty. When I make it again I will experiment by removing either 1 tsp of the course salt or perhaps even a tablespoon (sheesh!) of baking powder. I'll have to do a little more research into which would be best to remove. But they are very salty, but still very yummy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Clean House

This weekend was extremely productive, the husband was off drilling so it was just me and the boy - and I was motivated. Our house was nothing short of a pit! Seriously - almost every pot and pan in the kitchen was dirty, along with most of the dishes (and we have a lot!) - the playroom had been destroyed, remember? The laundry was threatening to swallow our newly remodeled bathroom. Our bedroom had not been vacuumed in I don't want to think how long ago... and the living room was still in Christmas aftermath looking similar to a Who-Home that the Grinch had pilfered. It was a mess.

So that is what I did this weekend. I cleaned, I laundered, I moved furniture, I scrubbed pots and pans! I did not however do anything with the three bathrooms and our office was not even touched except to toss in things that 'belong in the office' :) So while I cleaned all weekend and while 90% of the house is clean - I'm still not complete, but I was certainly done!

A breakdown in bullet points!
  • 12 loads of laundry washed, dried, and put away!
  • 3 dishwasher loads
  • 1 hour of washing pots and pans, etc.
  • Vacuumed every room in the house (except the office)
  • Rearranged the living room to the non-Christmas placement
  • Unearthed the dining room table from a sea of nonsense
  • Organized the playroom
  • Organized the linen closet
  • Emptied the PackNPlay and took it down
  • Put up some additional decor in Ace's room
  • Created a reading nook in our bedroom (where the packNplay used to be)
  • Got all the Christmas stuff put away.
Whew! I'm beat.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vanilla Pancakes

I think one of my favorite things about pancakes is that they are vessels just awaiting to hold all sorts of treats - whether that be fruit, nuts, sugars, syrups, oh the possibilities are endless! Today for brunch - I wasn't being fancy I was being late on breakfast and early for lunch - we had vanilla pancakes! Not even that fancy from scratch stuff - nope broke out the Bisquick and stirred up a batch. My son and I enjoyed them with just a dip or two of corn-syrup-free syrup! Yum!

Ingredients:
2 cups of Bisquick
1.25 cups of milk
2 eggs
2 tsps of vanilla extract

Directions:
Mix all together, pour a 1/4 cup scoop over a hot griddle, wait for the top to bubble, flip and wait for other side to brown. Serve and enjoy!

Nothing much to it and we have extras to enjoy and snack on in the fridge. A little jelly and they are an excellent treat!

2009 in Pictures


* Click the image to enlarge it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Seared Steak with brussels sprouts and almonds

Another dinner set to the table this one... not a fan of. Another recipe from December's issue of Everyday Food. First and foremost I am not a fan of nuts in food and second I am not a fan of brussels sprouts. However, I thought it had been nearly a decade since I had willingly ingested brussels sprouts, so I thought I'd give it another go. Overall, the brussels sprouts themselves were fine - not my favorite - but not inedible. Still not a fan of nuts in my food though. The skirt steak was tough and stringy and for the price we paid for it was not a 'good' cut of meat. The flavoring though was delicious. Would I attempt this recipe again? No. Do I recommend it? If you like skirt steak and brussels sprouts, sure.

Ingredients:
1 skirt steak (1.5lbs) cut into 4 pieces
2 T of butter
1lb of brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup of chopped almonds, toasted
2 tsps fresh lemon juice




Directions:
  • Season steak with coarse salt and ground pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add steak and cooking until medium-rare. 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to rest.
  • Reduce heat to medium and melt butter. Add brussel sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook until crisp-tender. 3-5 minutes. Toss in the almonds and lemon juice and cook for another minute or two. Or if you prefer crisper brussel sprouts, remove and then add nuts and lemon juice.
So while the meal wasn't a wow factor, it filled us up and only took 20 minutes to really prepare and plate, so not too shabby. Although to make myself feel better I did take some pre-made cookie dough and toss it in the oven for a yummy cookie dessert. Yum!


I might have over estimated the capacity of the cutting board.

Gone but not forgotten

Today marks four years since my daddy passed. It doesn't seem like it's been that long, but then so much has happened since that fateful day in 2006. Life certainly has carried on, but he is still deeply missed. Another holiday has gone and now he has two grandbabies. Life truly is unexpected. You never know how long you'll have someone. We lost my daddy all too early, but loved all the years we had with him. Even in the four years he was ill - he was always a joy to be around. He loved us all and we loved him.

Father's Day 2004 we surprised him two kittens. He had been placed on disability and was no longer able to work for a few months at this point, and we knew with Derek being gone to North Dakota, my mom working all day, and me in So Cal - that the house was lonely. These kittens were a wonderful addition to his life. He taught them how to sit up pretty, how to play fetch, he was a wonder when it came to working with animals. He truly enjoyed their company.

This picture was taken the day that we got them. It's one of my favorite.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A nightlight

With Ace now sleeping in his own room a nightlight is in order, but since he is still uber excited to pull anything and everything out of electrical sockets - the traditional nightlights just weren't going to cut it. Didn't need my son in the middle of the night playing with plugs and outlets... so a hunt continued - Christmas lights were too bright - and then I found this.

Ace loves it. He loves to look at the stars and fall asleep. It has a 45 minute timer so it does turn off, but his room isn't entirely pitch black due to the street light out his window, so it is ok and not pitch black even after the turtle turns off. I highly recommend it.... even if it is a crazy-expensive nightlight.

Ace's room with his new nightlight.

Chicken with cauliflower and parsley

The first recipe of the new year and the first use of my new Le Creuset! This dish was pretty simple and pretty delicious! I only wish I had made more cauliflower! The recipe came from the magazine Everyday Food. The recipe says that it serves 4. Total prep and cooking time was about 35 minutes, just as stated in the magazine and the prep work was extremely minimal - my kind of cooking!


Ingredients as modified by me:
5 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 head of cauliflower (1lb)
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 T cider vinegar
1 T capers, rinsed.

Directions:
Preheat oven 450'

  • In the Le Creuset over a medium heat (or in a ovenproof skillet over a medium-high heat) season chicken with coarse salt and pepper and cook chicken* skin side down for 5-7 minutes or until brown. Flip chicken and cook until brown on the other side.

  • Place cauliflower around the chicken and coat in the pan juices, season with salt and pepper. Put in a pinch of the fresh parsley and transfer the Le Creuset (or skillet) uncovered into the oven. Cook until chicken is cooked through and the cauliflower is tender (about 20-25 minutes)


  • Remove from oven and stir in remaining parsley, vinegar and capers.
    *No oil is required for this dish
After making this recipe I would add more cauliflower - with the capers, vinegar and the juice from the chicken it was an amazing array of flavors - yum! I ate umm... almost all of the cauliflower :-D Sorry husband (and child!) I would certainly make this dish again and highly recommend it for a relatively easy meal.

A Christmas Present & A Goal

Every year I have a goal for the new year. I don't in particular resolve to do anything or set a goal to change something per se, but I do like to have a year long goal. This year I have decided to cook 150 different recipes. I won't blog every day, I won't necessarily blog in detail about every recipe, however I will keep track of the recipes that I have cooked and how many I have left to cook.

In light of my new endeavor my husband made Christmas an exciting time with that theme, after first clearing up the issue that getting cooking supplies isn't a 'Sleeping on the Couch' recipe in the making, hehe! I received several fun cooking things in my stocking and my main present was an excellent most fabulous Le Creuset 9.5 Quart 'French' Oven :) Oh I was like a little kid on Christmas! So excited!

My stocking was also filled with helpful kitchen gadgets to make my cooking adventure easier, including this gem - which I think is my new favorite tool. If you recall I love cooking gadgets and so getting new ones is always exciting - but to date this one is by far my favorite. It took NO time, less than a minute in fact to chop up this parsley. Score!


With all my new cooking tools I am ready to cook, bake, and slice and dice! So stay tuned for a lot of cooking over this next year. Enjoy following me this coming year and seeing the progress I am making on my 2010 goal of 150 different recipes in 365 days!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One Year Ago

Time files by! One year ago, this was my blog post. One year ago to the day, this was my boy playing with his toys...

And today this is Ace playing with his toys. An hour before after he had already 'reorganized' the toy shelf he stepped on it (I assume) and I turned around and I found him butt stuck in the blue tub (pictured behind him) with the shelving rack on top of him. Not injured but a bit worried. Also the mess pictured is only half of the disaster zone. The other half of the room is also ankle deep in toddler toys ... mostly dinosaurs. :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Keys

These two little keys look awfully familiar don't they? Don't they look like they belong somewhere else other than my table? Perhaps that they should be locked into something? My son the ever-advanced typist found these keys to be obsolete, beneath him, superfluous... and thus he had them removed...

You see when Ace is very quiet (like with any child) you begin to worry. What has he gotten into now? Well, it was this time: my computer. He quietly had been typing away... and apparently stripping away my keys. Yikes! Now they aren't permanently detached. However, Loving Husband will have to take a fair amount of tedious attention to reattach these precarious suckers. So at the moment it's a tad obnoxious to type that very word.

He was having such an exciting time though. Very into the typing thing. He can open windows, go to websites that are in my favorite drop down menu. He was having a blast. I don't think he bought anything on Amazon - but I suppose we'll find out in a few weeks. Ha! One thing is for sure - while he doesn't have the exact understanding or the dexterity to do it - he completely comprehends how computers work.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

His Own Bed

Ace is just a little over sixteen months old and is such a big boy in many ways - we decided it was time to transition him into his own 'big boy' bed. Yes, for most of the last sixteen months Ace has slept exclusively in our bed. Yes, we are co-sleepers. Gasp! Yes, Ace since he was born has slept between Loving Husband and I. Gasp! There had been a few attempts to transition him to his crib, and before I went to California in October he had been sleeping the first stint in his crib. However, in California it was so much easier for him to sleep in the same bed I was in - and thus the habit of crib first, bed second was lost upon our return to the NW. We had gotten past the point of worrying of him falling out of bed because he was now tall enough to just climb out of it. Which is why we decided that transforming his crib into a bed wouldn't be that a) traumatic and b) dangerous for someone his age.

And so yesterday was the day! He helped do the construction and after the framing was all in place he and his dad left the room and I brought out his new sheet set and made his bed look all nice.


He was very excited about his new sheet set. He also received a new alien stuffed toy to slumber with him that he enjoyed hugging and chewing on the antenna. Then it was time to get down to business and go to sleep. For the most part he went to sleep with about the same amount of sweat and tears as usual - which I suppose for a new sleeping arrangement is not a bad thing.

The book I have read: The No-Cry Sleep Solution suggests that we a) make it exciting with new sheets, etc.. and b) that it be a transitional thing - and while I didn't need a book to tell me that - it was nice that this book reinforced my original instincts on how to transition him. So that's what we did! We obtained the Toy Story sheets (a current favorite and goes well with his preexisting bright green walls) and we put him to sleep in his new bed. He awoke almost every hour until 1am when we finally brought him to our bed. So although he awoke often and joined us in our bed after only a few hours - I feel we are on the road to success.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Books of 2009

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
If You Could See Me Now
The Things That Heaven Bears
The Thirteenth Tale
Twilight
Armageddon
The Labrador Pact
New Moon
Eclipse
Breaking Dawn
A Homemade Life
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Middle Place
The Time Traveler's Wife
Remember Me?
The Lovely Bones

It was a light year for me with a total of 16 books read.
Considering in 2006 I read 24, 2007 I read 30, and 2008 I read 35.

Looking forward to a few books in 2010: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest being the number one book I'm most excited about!

I also plan to do a little completing series in 2010. I need to read the final book (of the original series) of Left Behind - I started those in 2008 and read all but 2, I only read one in 2009. Also I'd like to finish up the Series of Unfortunate Events - I read through book 11 of that series leaving me the final 2 back in 2005 and 2006 :) No I do not plan to reread the first 11 in order to catch up - I'm pretty sure my brain still has that information soaking uselessly in a pocket of my brain just waiting for me to get around to completing the series. Also there are 2 books that I only got half way through in 2009 so they'll be counted upon completion in my 2010 count.

Happy reading, everyone!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Welcome to a new year, a new decade! I look forward to what this new year has to offer. Our New Year's Eve was much quieter than previous years (and last year) we had immediate family here and we had an excellent steak dinner, Ace went to sleep at 8, but don't worry before he went to sleep he had some excellent fun with the party hats!

This year we rang in New York's new year. While waiting we enjoyed several tasty fruiting drinks, and then broke out the champagne to toast in 2010 at 9pm. By 10pm half the 'party' left around 10pm.





Afterwards we all broke out our computers and rang in the NW's new year while enjoying the decade prior's technology advancements.

Here's to another year! Happy New Year, everyone!