Tuesday, June 26, 2012

So Big.

Lily Lu has officially graduated Kindergarten.

{Lils and her much loved Mrs. McPartland}

Geez, you spend so much emotional energy on the build-up prior to them actually beginning kindergarten. I certainly was caught off guard by the fact that such a momentous milestone would actually end. Now that....that, is brutal. What?!! I spent so much time crying over the fact that you actually started kindergarten, and now you tell me you're already graduating?!

What is going on here?!!!

As you will see, it wasn't exactly our best day of pictures.

Note to self: poor Emerson.
Somebody save that baby!

Oh my, how I love this Lily.
So many things about her. 

My Zest For Life Child.
I think she would spend 23 1/2 hours a day riding her bike down the street if permitted. Searching for lizards. Racing the neighborhood kids. Crying out for the ice cream man. The girl is non-stop.

My Smarty Pants Girl.
Who frequently asks me during any 3 minute conversation I manage to squeeze in during the day, "Mom, which is more important? Talking on the phone, or your children?

My Madness is Genius Artist.
We currently have a 9' x 3' banner taped to the wall in our master bedroom. It's her latest masterpiece.  A real work of art in my opinion, but other's might call it random pieces of plastic/garbage/clothespins/pictures/starfish/old t-shirt, all hot glued to a massive piece of butcher paper.

My Helper.
Constantly busy and on the go, but also always aware of the cry of her baby sister, or Ellie Jane climbing too high on a counter-top, or Mom forgetting to button her shirt properly after breastfeeding. What would I do without ya Lu-bug? i always say.

My How-do-I-handle-this-child? Child.
When I came home with my hair dyed a bit darker, she took one look and responded, "I can't believe I'm going to say this, but you are completely ruining my life right now." 
Sometimes in dealing with her I get confused about who I'm talking to. Wait, are you my daughter or my sister or my friend or my superior or a demon sent to test my mental agility and remind me that I. know. nothing. when it comes to parenting? Because I'm currently feeling very insecure about this change in hair color and overall unsure of myself as a human being as I stand before this mere six year-old...so could ya lay off a little?!!! Geez Lily!!!
Tyler has had to intervene a time or two when she and I screech at each other and I demonstrate a play by play run down of How to Land your Child in Therapy in Five Easy Steps.

I like to sneak into her room at night and hug her tightly as she sleeps. I often find myself inhaling her smell, burying my nose into her warm neck and praying...pleading... Help me do right by her. 

She is a gift.

Happy Graduation Lily lu!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: not TECHNICALLY edible, but you can't blame us for trying.

Pardon the interruption in recipe planning, but I think you can see I had much more important things to attend to in San Francisco this past week. My sweet chubber wubber chunky little edible monkey nephew Sawyer was born. Oh boy is he CCCCcccccUUttTTTTeee.

I don't know which is more miraculous to behold:
 The birth of a new baby
the birth of new parents
or the birth of a new family.

impossible to choose.

Welcome to the world Mister Sawyer!
I want to pinch your cheeks already.


Auntie Raerae

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day recap.

 Only the BEST Dad gets buttery cinnamon french toast smothered in homemade whipped cream made by little hands of girls who woke up extra early before church.

Only the BEST Dad gets his own customized glitter painted rock collection and seashells purchased with her very own prized chore quarters at the dollar tree.

Only the BEST Dad shares.

Only the BEST Dad, when often told by passerby's
after confirming that yes, he has four GIRLS,

Boy! I feel sorry for you!

thinks to himself, No, I feel sorry for YOU.

Happy Father's Day, to our BEST.


your big female fan club

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: Kiss an Italian Grandmother week.

This past week included two bombdiggitydotcom recipes from our one and only Nonna. For reals people, i married my husband simply so i could be invited to eat at his house.The way to my heart was through my stomach, my poor mother-in-law should have known.
She's the type who spends days in preparation for a good meal. The spread is legendary in looks and taste and humanly impossible to consume in its entirety (though we give it our best shot). 

So, in honor of Nonna,
i want you to try these recipes for a tasty summer meal
find the nearest Italian grandmother
 give her a big squeeeeze
and say

Ti Amo!

Then beg her to let you eat at her house.


1. Perfect one bowl meal. Makes enough to feed two families (which we did, as I made this on special request from a best friend who just had her second baby and specifically asked for "that amazing orzo salad thing"). 

 Chicken Orzo Salad

½  teas. Cumin
½ teas. Thyme
½ teas. Minced garlic                             
1 teas. Dried  oregano
1 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons wine vinegar
6 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teas. Salt
1 teas. Pepper
2 teas. Dijon mustard

Wisk  above  ingredients  together  and  set  aside.

¾  lb. orzo
1 bunch spinach torn into bite size pieces  (I usually put more spinach in the salad)
½ cup pine nuts
¾  pitted kalamato  olives
1 cup feta cheese
¼ cup sundried tomatoes
½  of a red bell pepper chopped
¼ cup chopped green onion
2 teas. chopped capers
1 roasted chicken – remove meat from bone and add to salad in bite size pieces

Cook orzo and drain.  After it has cooled toss with a little olive oil.  Add the rest of ingredients toss.  Add dressing a little at a time and toss to coat evenly.  This salad gets better as it sits in the refrigerator.  Yummy!


2. {Bad picture, Great cake}

I like my cakes dense and moist: just like this one. My Dad loves carrot cake so it  made for a great Father's Day gift.

Nonna's Carrot Cake
 3 cups sifted flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teas of baking soda
1 ¼ teas salt
1 teas baking powder
1 8 ¾ can crushed pineapple (drained-reserve the juice)
3 eggs beaten
1 ½ cups salad oil
2 teas vanilla
2 cups grated raw carrots

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.  Drain pineapple, set aside.
Make a well in center of flour mixture and add pineapple juice, eggs, oil and vanilla.  Blend thoroughly.  Stir in pineapple, and carrots.  Turn into a greased 10 inch tube pan.  Bake @ 325 in a preheated oven for 1 ½ hours or until done.  (my oven always takes longer)  Cool completely and frost with homemade cream cheese frosting.


3. Unrelated to Italian cooking but SERIOUSLY WORTHY OF ATTENTION. 

I couldn't believe how much my kids loved this meal. I'm a huge fan of lettuce wraps and peanut sauce and the whole shabang, but seriously?! Watching your kids devour vegetables with such enthusiasm makes ya feel all warm and fuzzy. I think they loved the crunch of the crispy veggies and the fun of wrapping your hands around something so messy. The rice added a nice bulk that made for a total meal. They even LOVED the tofu! Whaaaaat?!!! I recommend this for a fun weekend dinner. We will definitely be trying this one again.
  • Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Filling:
  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 6 thinly sliced green onions (about 2/3 cup), divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut cucumbers
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 cups hot cooked sticky rice
  • 8 Bibb lettuce leaves (We did Iceberg instead and loved it)


1. To prepare sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water and next 3 ingredients (through red pepper), and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice.
2. To prepare filling, spread crumbled tofu in a single layer on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 1/3 cup green onions; sauté 1 minute. Add tofu; sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, and Sriracha; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cucumbers, carrots, and remaining green onions.
4. Spoon 1/4 cup rice into each lettuce leaf. Top with about 1/2 cup tofu mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cilantro. Serve with sauce.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Raecovery: starting small.

Summer nails.

"Oh my hands, just look at my hands!.....Mama said you could always tell a lady by her hands."
-Scarlett O'Hara

Favorite fast Mom-friendly manicure

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail strips.

{tyler says i have "grandma hands"...
i say they are wrinkled and tough looking because
i work. hard.
then i used those grandma hands
with new summer nails and

{not really.}

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ya' got that right.

 {love these pics of ellie jane and auntie sissa....}

Last night I completed my weekly laundry marathon (thank you so much, bachelorette...two hours of legit entertainment while i fold). It took hours. It was midnight when I finished putting the last items in the girls' closets. I hung t-shirts and sorted socks amidst the backdrop of their heavy breath, bellies rising and falling in steady rhythm. And London's snorts. Always. The girl is a like a fire breathing dragon in slumber.

I took a step back and ran my fingers down the long line of clothing, smelling fresh and ready for another week of abuse and utter destruction. I admired a dress in particular that had withstood the test of time (thanks to quality fabric and ample amounts of Oxiclean), all the way back to when Lily was a baby. Now, it sits waiting for Emerson.

And I...

started crying.

Pretty heavy crying. The scene was all very emotionally stable and oh so normal....me, at midnight...crying over laundry. The tears fell freely as I continued to silently sniff my way through stacked sandals and swimming suits and all the items we had pummeled over the weekend.

Gosh, I love this, I thought.
I love these clothes. 
I love these little girls who I dress everyday.
Every. stinking. day.
And it's going so fast. Too fast.

A few weeks ago I was paid the highest compliment I've received to date from a stranger. We were in the back aisles of Walmart. I was engrossed in my effort to get. in. and. out. as. quickly. as. possible. An elderly women from a short distance sweetly spoke out to me with a smile,

"I can tell you really love being a mother."

I made eye contact with her, turned and looked behind me to double check, thinking...wait a minute, you talkin' to me? Did she just hear the conversation with my begging children over the chocolate milk?
Ladies, I'm not paying five dollars for a lousy half gallon of True Moo....we're going straight up and dirty...get the stuff with corn syrup, it's only two bucks.

I smiled sheepishly and responded, "Well thank you. I do! Most days!"

Later, as I drove away I couldn't help but smile in an air of satisfaction. Yes, yes...I must be doing something right! And if she saw it, maybe my girls will see it too.
I want them to know it, always:
Their Momma really loves being their Momma.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: Get the kids cookin'.

I've been working at getting my kids involved in the cooking process.
Nary shall be the offspring of mine who can't so much as cook a box of mac and cheese in their college years. No sir, not on my watch!

Okay fine, I'm waxing noble about this but in all reality it is the best way to keep them occupied during 
the hour of pure hell and damnation
known as dinner prep.

 They systematically destroy every room in the house while I labor selflessly over the stove then casually meander their way to the table after I announce dinner 15 times and we offer a blessing over the food while London pouts about being cut short on playing with her ponies and Lily protests whatever is green on her plate and Ellie Jane dumps her entire meal on the ground and Tyler asks if we can make it quick because the game is about to start on the television and before you know it a fork is stabbed through the heart of the roast chicken and i've stormed out of the room inviting my family to 

enjoy your meal ya jerks.

So I figure,

If you can't beat em, join em. 

Or at least have them join you.
It is pretty cute too, you can give them a few old celery leaves and a cutting board with a plastic knife and they will spend hours "mincing herbs for mommy". Oh thanks so much darlings!
 (And into the garbage disposal it goes when they aren't looking). They seem to take more pride in the meal, and get excited to sit down and eat and receive compliments on those excellently minced ingredients they contributed to the salad. Mmmmmm....mission accomplished. Or should i say mincin' accomplished (clever!).


Here's our week's lineup:

1. Because you can never get enough pizza....

Roasted Veggie Pizza. 

Start with:

Whole wheat pizza dough
Pesto Sauce 
Fresh sliced mozzarella 

Slice an assortment of your favorite veggies:

bell peppers
red onion

Toss veggies in olive oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees until tender. Roll out pizza dough and top with pesto sauce. Add sliced mozzarella, roasted veggies and bake at at 450 for approx 20 minutes or until crust edges are browned and cheese is melted.


2. Easy! 

Ever used a tomatillo? It's a brilliant staple of Mexican delights! It makes for great homemade enchilada sauce. London had herself a good time peeling off the husks. I've also omitted the chicken and just used beans for vegetarian purposes, still just as good. It's an easy recipe to double and share too, we delivered it for dinner to our neighbor/friend who had a new baby this last week...

Preheat the broiler. Slice half of the onion into thin rings and set aside. Place the other onion half, tomatillos and serranos on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until the vegetables are soft and slightly brown, 7 to 10 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer the vegetables and any liquid to a blender, add the broth and puree. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the sugar.
Meanwhile, stack the tortillas, wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave just until warm and soft, 1 minute; keep covered. Toss the chicken with 2 cups shredded cheese in a bowl. Spoon a portion of the chicken mixture down the middle of each tortilla. Add a few cilantro leaves and roll up. Place the enchiladas side by side in a lightly oiled 9-by-13-inch baking dish and brush with the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Broil until crisp and golden, 3 minutes.
Pour the tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Garnish with the onion rings,queso fresco and any remaining cilantro.

Recipe adapted from Food Network


Last up, Sunday Chicken Dinner


Sorry, had to steal the pic from Real Simple because I forgot to take a picture and mine turned out pretty nasty looking anyways. I burned the potatoes. But I have made this recipe a bajillion times because it is a Sunday family favorite. There's something about that combination of warm chicken and sweet potatoes with that maple syrup that just keeps ya diggin' for more.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple.