Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Great American past time

When I was a kid I was outside all the time. On the weekends I would eat breakfast and watch a little Bugs Bunny and out the door I went. I was called in for lunch and then called in again for dinner. If I was thirsty, I would grab some water from the garden hose.

Get out here sis!

Today, kids have more indoor temptations. There are cartoons 24 hours a day, the computer, the video games, movies, etc. It's not all their fault though. Here it gets more hot in the summer now than years ago, we don't have a few acres of land to play and roam, we have to keep our eyes out for speeding cars or unwelcome strangers (like sexual predators - ok so I am paranoid), and I too admit I fall victim to the household goodies (like foodtv!).

I am doing my best just let the dishes or cleaning wait and when I notice it's nice out, it's time to go outside! Hopefully this summer with my plans for some gardening and with the pool, we will make sure to give the tv and videos some rest and get our play on.

Now that I am free, where should I head first?

I think I'll help dad with the pruning.

There she is! Her buddy Isabella (same age too) lives next door and they can see each other over the backyard fence.

Run Forest!
This year we are going to get Busch Gardens passes for the year. That way we can also go to Sea World too. Both kids love animals and rides and it's a great way to get out of the house and have some fun. Pay once, and it's free for the rest of the year! We can also bring our food too to save money.
I baked a large batch of brown rice for dinner and storage.

I had enough cooked rice for dinner and for three meals worth for the freezer (Hmm, do I have any matching containers? Oh, and mom, I think that blue one is yours!).
I totally love my bread now. I make a large batch of dough for the week that I keep in the frig and just pluck out some any time I want to bake a loaf. The week old dough is more like sourdough and has large holes inside and is my favorite loaf of the batch. It tastes like Artisan bread! There is nothing like it in any local grocery store near my house and I love that I can just make it at home in 30 mins. I have to thank my friend Janet for this!

I've updated my recipe blog with some more recipes if you're interested. Seems most of them are a toss of this or that. I plan on getting some soups and slow cooked bean recipes made and put on there. Oh, and I am going to experiment with sushi too. I got a great Japanese cookbook for Christmas and can't wait to get started. Wish I had some California rolls or tuna rolls to eat right now!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The county fair

The last time Chris or I visited our small county fair was when we where still in high school. Upon entering, we both remembered why we had stayed away so long. Fair food, heckling carnival workers, old and unstable rides for $3.00 a pop per person, per ride and let's not forget the entertaining locals that attend. The mullet still lives folks...

Here is our main attraction at the fair this year. Bella's art was chosen to be shown! Here is her creation. We are so very proud of her.

Bella's first bumper car ride and wasn't her last. It was her favorite attraction.

Ok, ok...so the fair does still bring in the smiles and laughter.

Well, with one exception.

I thought it was fun!
I think Kristjan was captivated by the sounds, smells and sights that day. There were plenty of things to see.

We got home and we let the kids play outside while Chris cleaned up some frost bitten plants and we assessed what plants to replace and where vegetables will be planted. Next weekend is all about the outdoors, the yard and the garden! Let the planting begin!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The flavor of the month

I am actually referring to the antibiotics of the month. Seems one of my children are on at least one variety each month. We are all known on a first name basis at the pediatrician's office. Diet and vitamins aren't enough when they are constantly exposed to other sickly children. We make a point to leave our kids at home until they are better or are no longer contagious. I wish other parents would do the same. I am looking forward to summer and with that hopefully the ailments will chill a bit.

The ever so popular condition at my house, the middle ear infection. Our nose, mouth, and ears are actually all connected within our head. Most middle ear infections occur during or after we have a cold. Just as your nose gets stuffed up with extra fluid during a cold, our middle ear can also fill with fluid. When the fluid just sits there bacteria can grow and cause an infection. Middle ear infections are much more common in kids because it is difficult for fluid to drain from the middle ear. As you grow older the fluids drain more easily.

Bella's first year of life was plagued by chronic ear infections and we spent many days at home with her. After two myringotomy and tube placements and one adenoidectomy she no longer gets them (knock on wood ~ as I may curse myself).

Kristjan again has ear infections in both of his ears. I feel so helpless when my kids are not feeling well. He's been crying, cranky and just wanting to be held. I don't blame him. They can be very painful if you have ever experienced it. Chris and I have been rotating days off to tend to him until he's better.

And once again we have a child on antibiotics.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's and mystery meat

Hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day! I got to talk to a couple of long lost cousins overseas in the morning on facebook. I was chatting with one in Malta and one in Luxembourg at the same time! Very cool. Then I escaped alone for some grocery shopping. Chris had to work, so we will take an adult break and dine out next weekend.

Bella and Chris getting all the Valentine's prepared for the party and exchange.

I want to help!

Oh well, at least I have my tupperware.

I think I have to keep doing pizza once a week. I just love the stuff. I grab whatever I have the in the frig and throw it on top. This one had roasted garlic, with peppers, onions, mushrooms and feta cheese. Yum! I cooked the mushrooms first and then added the onions and peppers to heat them through a bit before topping. I have been using the pre-made crusts and just topping and baking.

Now that I have been making my own bread I feel a little better about attempting my own pizza dough. I should make a bunch and freeze them so they are readily available. Last night I made my dough for the week and let it rise for about 4 hours. I then grabbed a portion, put it on my peel, let it rise a little longer and put it in the oven. Man! It was awesome! The crust was thick and crispy like Maltese bread and the center was moist and airy. The kids seem to like it too. Kristjan loves pieces with butter or hummus and Bella loves hers with butter. Wish they all would turn out that way. My wheat bread was a bit dense - could have played soccer with it.

Saturday while grocery shopping I picked up two beef fillets for dinner. I put back a couple of nice looking tuna steaks I had picked up because we rarely eat red meat and I thought a couple of steaks for Valentine's with a little red wine would be great. I could not find any Greenwise, organic or grass fed so I reluctantly picked up the regular store brand meat. It looked like it had great marbling and was seemingly fresh. Chris put a dry rub on them and we let them marinade for the day then he grilled them and they looked perfectly cooked to our liking.

Something was off though. The meat in no way had the taste or texture of a fillet mignon. It was bland, chewy and fibrous. We both noticed it. It's like we got the wrong cut of meat made to look like a fillet or the animal was really old. It's a mystery, but I am thinking we got an old dairy cow or something. Blech!! I am grossed out just thinking about it and I won't do that again!

Coincidentally I found this article this morning on yahoo "Dairy cows head for slaughter as milk prices sour" http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090216/ap_on_re_us/farm_scene_cow_slaughter
I am so happy a news story like this made the main stream. Makes me wonder if my thinking about that steak was right.

I should have stuck with the tuna...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let it be known

Let it be known that I hate this gate and I want to get in to that bathroom!

I don't like this gate either!

He's a little pistol too. Lets out bursts of high pitched screams when he gets ticked about not being able to climb the gates.

Time to push my cart.

Whew, what a workout. Time for a rest.

Flock of Seagulls meets Steve O.

Mommy's little man. Always tugging and hugging me around my legs when I'm up. Gotta treasure these times before he gets too old to cuddle...

Speaking of cuddling. Bella always sleeps with Eore and Curious George, but tonight she's added Pluto for extra security.

Maybe someday we'll get that boxer Sunny or Moe and he/she can sleep in there with her too. Chris picked out the names. He should be the one to pick the names because it will be up to him when we ever get one. :o)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Did my neighbor clean up yet?

Sort of. The carpet and padding was removed along with some empty bottles and toys. There are still toy wrappers and other items around. Can't have it all, but happy to see they removed the larger items. I'm planning on walking again this evening with Kristjan, so I'll make a point to pick up any garbage I see on the roadside.

I plan on exercising at least 5 times a week if not something everyday. I say that now, it's only day two! I'll be optimistic about it for a change...perhaps it will stick this time.

I went for my cholesterol check up this morning and I lost 9 pounds! I've been watching everything I put in my mouth and checking my portions for little over a month now and it seems to be working. It also helps that I've been keeping a food diary. Hopefully the exercise will help speed the weight loss even more along with lowering my cholesterol. They changed my meds for the 4th time. The recent meds were giving me muscle cramps mammy.

Stay tuned for my next post. I'll have pictures of Tarzan trying to climb the gates, couch and every other obstacle in the forest.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Had to do it

Man, I used to love these burgers too. I found this and was going to save it for my "Soup's What's in it?" section but this one's way too good and it needs the center stage. Wanna know why the Big Mac would take forever to decompose?

100% Beef Patty: 100% pure USDA inspected beef; no fillers, no extenders. Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper).

Big Mac® Bun: Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, soybean oil, canola oil, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of each of the following: sesame seed, salt, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium chloride, calcium carbonate, baking soda, soy flour, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: distilled monoglycerides, DATEM, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, enzymes, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, guar gum, mono-and diglycerides, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate & sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.

Big Mac® Sauce: Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor).

Pasteurized Process American Cheese: American cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), water, milkfat, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, salt, sorbic acid (preservative), acetic acid, artificial color, soy lecithin and/or corn starch (added for slice separation).

Pickle Slices: Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color).

The lettuce and onion are in their natural state. The beef patty is actually not manipulated that much, go figure. Everything else? More chemical than food.

Did my neighbor clean up yet?

Nope. It's all still there, just now their household remnants have expanded down the street. Part of me wants to pick it all up to for environment's sake and the other wants to go over there and ask them to pick it up.

I think while I live here I better get proactive and get involved with the Homeowners Assoc. Just talking and writing about it will do nothing but get me more agitated, which is senseless and resolves nothing.

On a good note, I speed walked around the neighborhood a couple of times with Kristjan yesterday evening. He loved it. He would point and chirp at all the animals he saw. I need to do that almost daily. It's great mind therapy. Oh, and hopefully it will help with the weight too!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Trying to keep my cool

I moved from my previous neighborhood for one main reason. To get away from lazy, unclean, and inconsiderate neighbors (well, that's the nicest way I can put it). Yesterday I walked the kids over to my parents to visit for a tad and the house across from me had this going on...

Lovely empty bottles, papers, toys, and miscellaneous trash all over the place and even in the yard across the street. Oh, and I almost tripped over a skateboard.

Their old carpet just sitting piled on their front lawn. It's been a couple of days and it's still sitting there. I have a running bet on how long it stays there before I lose my mind and go mental on them.

Apparently the $60 a year I spend on our Homeowners Assoc fee is a joke and apparently I am again surrounded by unclean people. There's a house with their fence falling apart and laying down, another with a truck part in the yard, a couple of houses that refuse to put away their garbage cans or upkeep on their lawn, etc..

Granted there are people who play by the rules and are clean and it sucks that we take care of our homes while others don't. Chris and I work full time as do my parents and I am sure others in the neighborhood and we still make sure to put things away, upkeep on the house and plants. THERE IS NO EXCUSE PEOPLE! Get off your ass and clean up your crap! I don't want to see it and it lowers the value of my home.

Upscale neighborhoods have lawn care and house upkeep funds readily available but that has nothing to do with putting your trash away, picking up after yourself and having some pride in your home. This is a normal neighborhood with nice homes and these people are just breaking down the "community". They are the first to chuck garbage outside their car window while having a support America sticker on their bumper. Whoa?!

I will be a lot more selective about where I live the next and final time around. I'm not asking for perfection here, I'm just tired of people who just don't care. Whew...

Look at this! These are pancakes that Chris made from scratch for Bella. She was home for a couple of days last week because she was ill and we were out of frozen waffles so he made these for her from an online recipe. Go Chris! Now let's work on dinner...

Bread blob. I didn't put enough corn meal on my pizza peel so it stuck and I had to scrape and shove it on the oven stone. Turned out pretty good though!

I joined facebook and wanted a new profile picture for it. Here's what I have on there right now. I really dislike photos of myself still, but still working on the weight thing. Anyway, I'm in the middle of two beautiful people! Btw, I am 40 days no fast food or coca cola!

Computer time. Bella loves to play and learn on Noggin, Disney or NickJr online. She likes to print out things to color too.

Kris's auto repair shop. He's getting the walking down pat and has learned how to open all the interior doors. We are currently searching for the proper gating system that we need to keep him out of trouble. He's everywhere all the time now and he's already on his third pair of shoes!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cheap thrills

This has to be a statement that all parents make at least once. "There are all these toys around here but my kids play with _________."

I can answer with (some of these were NOT given to play with): toilet paper, magnets on frig, fruit, vegetables, Tupperware, pots, pans, food boxes, cups, bowls, wooden spoons, laundry basket, blankets, empty plastic bottles, cupboard doors, any door, shoes, empty boxes, mommy's makeup, curtains, books, diapers, door stops, paper towel rolls, paper bags, duffel bags, backpacks, brushes, remote controls, cell phones, daddy's desk, tape, etc.

Fun with magnets. All is cool until he slips them all through the frig grill.

I am honestly going to hide some toys and reintroduce them later. Now that he is walking around, it's much more fun to explore and see what trouble he can get into. That's what toddlers are best at. T for toddler and T for trouble. I say that and yet will admit to all that I wish he could just stay little forever...

I ran into a friend recently that I had not seen in a while and she recommended I get on "facebook". I did that and now I am hooked. I was able to get in touch with many people from school, old pals and also long lost relatives! I love it! I hope to be able to reach out and find more relatives this way. A lot of my cousins; for example, I barely know because we never really saw each other. Those locally and those overseas. I can't reverse time and start again but I can start from now and build relationships. I really do think family is absolutely #1. With technology today, there is no excuse why you can't keep in touch. My kids really have changed my whole perspective on things. Life's too short to not take action.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Farm info interactive

The Meatrix Interactive 360

For those interested...click and go left or right, then mouse over for information.

The domino effect

Nine minutes pass.
Chris tugs on my feet on his way out of the bedroom to eat breakfast.
"Nessa, it's time to get up."
I open one eye to check the time. "It's time to get up already? I just went to bed!"
"I'll just lay here for four more minutes."
Eight minutes pass.
Chris comes back into the bedroom to get ready.
"Nessa get up, you are going to be late!"
"Bella, it's time to get up."
She sleep walks to the couch where her clothes are layed out.
She finds a blanket and lays back down.
Eight minutes pass.
"Bella get up, we are going to be late!"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Yummy food and childhood play

Yesterday we went over to my parents for dinner. Dad cooked up some awesome grilled chicken along with steamed carrots and fennel. There was grilled seasoned baked potatoes and cold beer. We were treated with some delectable cooked mussels as an accompaniment. Man, I have not had mussels in white wine sauce in so long! Wow are they good. I brought over some of my bread for us to dip in the sauce. They were on sale at the store so he picked them up. It takes just minutes to enjoy those bad boys.

It was a bit overcast but the kids still enjoyed playing in the backyard.

That wagon is getting some serious mileage.

Poor guy got bit by the freeze but the color is beautiful.

Their new bottle brush tree

The BIG ball.

Add Image Where's the sun?

By the looks of it I would seem we have a future candidate for the soccer team.

Tickle tickle!

A couple of days ago I made an easy dish I would like to call Fettuccine with prosciutto and vegetables. It was an easy dish and has fed us for at least 4 meals. This weekend was all about the kids so I didn't get all my food preps done for the week. Saturday Bella and Kristjan played out in the front with the neighbor's kids most of the day so I didn't get much done (I, unlike other parents do stay outside to keep watch on the children) and yesterday afternoon they played at Nanna & Nannu's. I did manage to make my dough ball for this week's bread which I changed a bit to make it a wheat bread. We'll see how that turns out.

The funny thing is, I fell asleep that night before Chris did.