Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why I Like the Wine That Comes in the Big Box

Early this morning, Griffin and I were snuggling on the sofa. Griffin is such a little peanut ~ a little wisp of boy with huge, bright blue eyes, and at times I feel as if I could eat him up. I said to him, as I often say to both of my boys, "How did I get such a sweet boy? Did I just get lucky?" Without missing a beat, Griffin replied, "No, Mama! You got a Gwiffie!" I don't think Griffin realized it, but he hit the nail right on the head.

You see, my two boys are very, very different little creatures. I will not hesitate for a moment to boast about my firstborn, and tell you that he is a dear and gentle soul that has rarely given me any headaches to speak of. When he was two, I remember thinking, "What's all this talk about terrible twos? This kid is a cinch!" Then three came along and there were some new challenges, but still, nothing to get very worked up about. But, Griffin? Well, he is very, very good at being two. I dare say, he is an expert in the field. Maybe it is because I am old. Maybe it is because I haven't had a solid night of sleep in nearly 6 years. Whatever the reason, the boy wears me out. Here, let me share some photos with you, to back my story up:

Exhibit A: A random day last week ~ the collection of toys atop my china cabinet. Toys that were confiscated from Griffin for various indiscretions (i.e. throwing at brother, throwing at cat, throwing at dog, etc.)

Exhibit B: This would be Griffin, after he unloaded about a half of a can of aerosol hairspray onto his head. No, he didn't get any into his eyes, somehow. He was really peeved when I found him and had the gaul to take the can away from him.

Exhibit C: Random self-portraits that keep appearing mysteriously, on my digital camera.

And then there are the incidents that I haven't captured with my camera, such as when Griffin sprayed his head with my favorite Donna Karan perfume. Not once. Not twice. He sprayed and sprayed until his hair was dripping wet. Much as I loved that perfume, I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to wear it again, because my bedroom (and Griffin's head) literally reeked for two weeks. Perfume overload is like getting sprayed by a skunk, people. You cannot get that smell out, no matter how many times you shampoo.

And how about the other day, when the house went silent for a few minutes, which is the universal sign for Griffin is Up to No Good. I found him in the bathroom, attempting to stuff full rolls of toilet paper into the toilet.

Then, this morning. Griffin didn't know I could see him, and I watched him walk up to the cat, pull his tail, and then proceed directly to his naughty chair. I mean, seriously.

Mind you, Griffin is not like this all of the time. However, something has got to give because I live in fear of being "that mother"...the one that other mothers cringe at when they see her coming, because her child is insane. So I am doing my best to whip this little hooligan into shape. Wish me luck.

Fortunately for Griffin, he is very cute:

And he likes to play Naked Farm, which totally cracks me up:

Oh...and I love him more than life itself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Making Our Way

We had an afternoon shower yesterday, and I heard Camden yelling to me that there was a rainbow in the sky. I think it was the brightest rainbow I've ever seen, and it was actually a double rainbow ~ if you look up above the bright one, you can just see the second one. Just as soon as they appeared, they were gone, but not before I snapped a few pictures.

We've been busy the past week, fighting off a nasty cold. Luckily, the little boys haven't gotten it too badly, but Steve has had it the worst. I was sick most of the weekend, but I think I am finally on the mend. I can't stand feeling like I just want to lay around all day - - it makes me nutty. So, I am happy to be back into my regular routine for the most part.

Steve is away for the next couple of weeks at a "simulated war exercise" ~ he's here in Idaho but is staying on base since he is working some really crazy hours during this. He called yesterday morning to say he thought he'd have a bit of free time later that day, so I got busy whipping up a bunch of food for him, picked Camden up at school, and we headed to Boise for a quick visit.
Here are my boys, playing "fort" under the conference table in Steve's office. Despite being tired, preoccupied, and stressed out, Steve didn't hesitate to humor his boys. He's good like that.

I made a carrot tea cake for our dessert ~ you can find the recipe in the most recent issue of Everyday Food Magazine. It produced a moist, spicy, delicious cake, and the recipe is definitely a keeper.

After lunch was finished, it was time for Steve to head back to work, and for the three of us to head back home.
I have Story Time this morning, so Griffin and I need to get this show on the road and get on over to the library.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Little Romance

Steve was out of town on Valentine's Day (more on that, later) so I decided to banish the children to the family room this evening, and fix my sweetheart a fancy dinner. Needless to say, the boys were super excited to have their dinner on t.v. trays, while watching "Go Diego, Go!". I cannot begin to tell you how fabulous it was to sit and enjoy a nice meal, without having to stop once to say, "Mind your manners!" or "Eat your dinner!" After a few minutes of this pure bliss, Steve and I wondered aloud, why we haven't been doing this more often. I do believe we have had dinner like this once before, and enjoyed it just as much. So, our goal now is to have an "adults only" dinner once per week. Gives us some quality time together since we rarely (if ever) get out, we're not spending money going out to eat, and it gives me an excuse to try new recipes.

Tonight, I made a simple salad of organic greens, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, and crispy-warm goat cheese rounds...delish.
For the main course, I made a Caprese Flat Pie, compliments of Katie Lee Joel. The recipe can be found here, as well as a great little video of how it is made. Katie is the wife of Billy Joel, and you may have heard of her cookbook, called The Comfort Table. I can't wait to add her book to my collection - - I think she is just wonderful. The Caprese Flat Pie looks pretty fancy, but it couldn't be any more simple. The ingredients: puff pastry, pesto, fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, and some egg wash. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had never cooked with puff pastry before, but now that I have, I can't wait to use it again. Here's the finished product:

It was really tasty, and I'm already imagining a bunch of other combinations. For dessert - - some pink champagne, and a couple of squares of Lindt (hi Kirsten!) chocolate. Perfect.

After we put the boys to bed, we were discussing dinner and how much we enjoyed it, at which point Steve remarked, "It was kind of surreal!" That tells you a little bit about how often we get out (ahem...never), which is kind of sad, really. We don't have many child care options, and I don't know about you, but we aren't too crazy about spending money frivolously these days. The truth is, this is just another one of those choices we can make for ourselves...we don't need to hire a babysitter and blow a bunch of money out on the town...we can easily have a lovely evening together in the comfort of our own home and not spend a dime. I already can't wait to do this again next week!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Boy and His Lunch Box

Meet Griffin's current obsession: a vintage Tupperware lunch box. I have always wanted a lunch box like this, and one day, I found one for a steal on Etsy. Unfortunately, I failed to read the fine print, so imagine my surprise when my coveted package arrived, and inside was the teeny-tiny toy version of my beloved plastic-ware. So, Griffin inherited it. Currently, he likes to sleep with it. He likes to have all of his meals (and snacks) served in it. It goes on car rides with us. It goes to the library. Alas, my boy is in love.

As for me, I'm still on the lookout for one (adult-sized, mind you) for myself. They seem to be a hot commodity, I tell you. I like a good challenge though, so I intend to keep on searching.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lots of Love

Heart-shaped chocolate chip pancakes

Valentines Day party loot

A plateful of cookies, to deliver to friends

Flowers from my love, along with a love note (yes, written on an index card)
that I will treasure forever

A plateful of these delectable beauties, from Auntie Kasey and Banzer

At long last, Camden gets to eat his cookie

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


You may have noticed that my blog is a little lacking these days. The funny thing is, I have lots to write about, tons of pictures waiting to be posted, and yummy recipes to share.

The problem: Facebook. There. I said it.

I got a Facebook account a few months ago, and looked at it every now and then. However, it has recently escalated into addictive proportions. First, there were all the long-lost (and not so long-lost) high school friends to reconnect with. Then, a smattering of college friends. Then, old friends from my previous life in Belfast. Kids (who aren't kids anymore) that I use to nanny. I could go on and on. I can't explain the phenomenon of Facebook. All I can say is that it is really, really fun. My problem is that when I have a few moments during the day when I would normally sit and write a blog post, I "check" Facebook, and then 20 minutes later, someone wants a snack or there's a bickering match to break up, and my computer time is up.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so maybe now I can get a grip. We shall see...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Homemade Marshmallows

Here's something I've been wanting to try for quite a while now...homemade marshmallows. Really, they are much easier to make than you might think. The recipe comes from the great Ina Garten (also known as the Barefoot Contessa), and is in the Barefoot Contessa: Family Style cookbook:

Barefoot Contessa's Marshmallow Recipe

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. With the mixer on low speed slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes (*my mixture was thickened at around 6-7 minutes). Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. With a sieve, generously dust an 8 x 12-inch non-metal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out. Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. dust them with more confectioners' sugar.
Yield: 20 to 40 marshmallows, depending on cut size

I definitely recommend prepping all of your ingredients ahead of time:

Make sure you give your dish a really good dusting of confectioner's sugar:

I think you really need a stand mixture to make these...the marshmallow mixture gets very thick: When it is time to remove the marshmallows from the dish, you'll need to run a knife along the edges to loosen them.
Dust a cutting board with confectioner's sugar, and flip the marshmallows out onto the board. You can cut them into squares, or use a cookie cutter to make shapes. Once cut, give all sides of your marshmallow a good coating of confectioner's.

If you want to go really crazy, try dipping half of each marshmallow in melted chocolate. These also make divine s'mores...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Little Break

As usual, I'm not sure where the past week has gone. I have had plenty to blog about, have taken lots of pictures, but alas, have not made the time to sit down and write. I'm going to go ahead and blame some of it on the evil Facebook...unfortunately that has been taking up whatever computer time I've been allowing myself. All I can say it, I cannot believe some of the people I've been able to reconnect really is pretty fun, not to mention, an easy way to keep in touch.

I turned 37 years old this week. My favorite numbers are 3 and 7, so I have a feeling this is going to be a lovely year. My husband took it upon himself to take the day off on Tuesday, so that I could enjoy a day off. He did the school shuttling, diaper-changing, peace-keeping, meal preparation, and everything else I normally do. It was heavenly. After dropping Camden off at school in the morning, he came home and informed me that I would be going to the local spa for an hour-long massage in the afternoon. It was great, and I have decided that if I ever win the lottery, I am running out to hire my own personal massage therapist. When I returned home, Steve was preparing dinner - - pork chops stuffed with shallots, feta, mushrooms, and rosemary - - they were delicious. He even made me a key lime pie (from scratch, no less). It was a really, really wonderful day. The piece de resistance came late in the evening, when Steve came to me and said, "I can see why you are frequently at the end of your rope, by the time I get home from work at night!" Everyone needs a little validation every now and then, don't they?

I made the executive decision to keep Camden home from school today, as he's been fighting a cold all week and just seems a little, well, puny this morning. He's not running a fever, but is just not himself, so I think a day of pajama-wearing is in order. Unfortunately, we will have to miss out on Music & Movement, as well as a brand new play group we are joining, but I'm pretty sure the other mothers involved do not want a snuffly 5-year-old coughing all over their children. There is always next week!

I've found myself in a bit of a funk over this article, which appeared in the Idaho Statesman yesterday morning. The information in the article is nothing I didn't already know, but for some reason, seeing it in print gets my stomach all in knots. Granted, it is not a sure thing at this point, but, as I told Steve, I've been living in denial about the possibility of another deployment. The last deployment was a bit different - - Camden was only a year old at the time it started, and now, he cannot remember it even happening. With this deployment, the boys will be 7 and 4, and it will be much different - - for them, and for Steve.

My little boys and I are gearing up for a long month - - Steve is gone for four of the next five weekends, so we are going to be missing Daddy. We will be keeping busy though, so hopefully the time will fly!

Come back tomorrow, to read about my adventures in making homemade marshmallows....
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