Monday, September 27, 2010

Griffin's Birthday Party

We decided to celebrate Griffin's fourth birthday early this year, on September 18th, so that Steve could be here for his special day.
Early-morning gifts

Steve surprised Griff with a bouncy house in the back yard....BIG hit.

We borrowed some camo netting from the Military History Museum...another big hit!

First aid station, where the boys could bandage each other up

Griff gets doctored

As you can see, Griffin was an enthusiastic gift-opener

We all had a great day, and we were so glad that we had lots of family and friends around to help celebrate with us.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Griffin is Four

My sweet little Griff turned four years old today. The day was pretty laid-back, because we had actually told him that his birthday was last Saturday, the 18th. We wanted to celebrate it while Steve was still here, and figured it would be a whole lot less confusing if the 18th was "the" day. Just the same, I baked a cake to take to church and share with our friends, and Griffin had a wonderful morning. Happy birthday, Peanut.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Julie & Julia's Bruschetta

Ever since I saw the movie Julie & Julia, I've wanted to make bruschetta (pronounced 'broos-ketta', by the way) like Julie did in that one scene in the movie where you could literally taste it yourself. The bread crunched, the tomatoes dripped...I swear, I could almost smell the fresh basil right through the movie screen. A couple of weeks ago, my local farmers market had some lovely tomatoes (mine are still green on the vine, I fear), so I gathered my ingredients and got to work.

I chose sourdough bread, because I like it, but really, any rustic-type bread will do. Slice your bread and then fry it in some olive oil in a cast iron skillet, over medium heat. Next time, I will fry mine until it is nice and crisp...I was much too impatient and I'm afraid my bread had little to no crunch to it at all. Waaaa!

Next, chop up 4 tomatoes, throw in a generous pinch of kosher salt, a nice drizzle of olive oil, and approximately 4-5 large basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade. Stir together and let flavors meld.

When your bread is done, rub each slice with a half of a fresh garlic clove. I forgot to do this part, so no picture. Then, spoon the tomato~basil mixture generously over each slice of bread. Feel free to moan and groan while you eat it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Where to start? The last three weeks have been very hectic at our house, but we have now officially begun deployment, so I'm going to spend the coming days updating this space with all the random things that have been going on around here. We were very lucky because in the days leading up to Steve leaving, we were able to spend a lot of time with him, which we didn't initially expect.

As for me, my little brain is buzzing with the need to shovel my house, obsessively organize my calendar, and simplify my life, among other things. The boys are doing well, and Steve is safely at his first destination, so I am happy.

Now, I need to sift through a zillion photos and buckle down and do some writing. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I set out on a narrow way, many years ago,
hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two,
wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you.

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Wonderful Evening

Our 9th wedding anniversary is coming right up, and we won't be together for our 10th, so this year we decided to do something really special to celebrate, and it was wonderful! We hired a personal chef to come to our home and cook a romantic dinner for us...I can't even begin to explain how much we enjoyed it!
I had a lot of fun, setting the table for dinner. I have this great neighbor named Roberta who spent the entire day, helping me deep-clean my house. Thanks, neighbor!

Appetizer: fresh artichokes marinated with a blend of herbs and served with an aioli. After I'd finished every last bit of my artichoke, I may or may not have dipped my finger into the remaining aioli, and licked it off. Classy, I know.
Salad: a wedge caesar. Those little pieces of bread were super thin and crunchy, and we crumbled them up over the salad. Delicious.
Main Course: Oh Lordy. Grilled Tuscany grass-fed organic rib eye, served with twice-baked potato, grilled polenta, and fresh grilled vegetables. The perfection of this plate of food is beyond description. The steak was covered with a wonderful sauce of mushrooms, cream, onions, and cherry tomatoes...divine. Kelli must have thought there was something wrong with me, with all the moaning I was doing while I ate. Also very classy!
Dessert: Peach and berry crisp with homemade vanilla ice cream. Absolutely delectable.

Chef Kelli Paddock (forgive me, Kelli, for posting a photo of you with your eyes was the only one I managed to get of you!). Kelli's step father is being deployed with Steve, so we all had a bit to talk about. I found Kelli, owner of Prepared Catering, through Koenig Distillery and Winery in Caldwell. She was such a pleasure to work with, and all we had to do is sit back and be served. If you happen to live locally, I cannot recommend her services enough.
Kelli was super-efficient, nice as can be, and as you can see, an amazing chef. She left my kitchen spotless, packed up her equipment, and headed off, leaving behind a bottle of champagne and a box full of chocolate covered strawberries for us.

Hopefully Steve won't mind me adding this: Steve's a pretty reserved guy, not big on the romance or things like that, but every now and then he surprises me. While we were sipping champagne and waiting for dinner to start, he appeared with a fistful of letters that I'd written to him, that he'd saved from years ago, before we were married. It was fun reading through them and seeing how far the two of us have come over the years. Can't imagine spending my life with anyone else.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Being (Really) Neighborly

The boys didn't waste a bit of time, making themselves right at home with Nana and Papa. They have managed to cram so much fun in already, and they haven't even been here for a week yet. Some highlights include: a couple of sleepovers, ice cream cones, baking cookies, lots of art work, and meals together. Camden tells me each morning when he goes to school, "I'd prefer to have Nana and Papa pick me up after school today", and this morning he "preferred" to have them take him to school, as well! It is so nice to have my parents next door, and I feel really, really lucky that my boys are getting so much quality time with them.
Trashing Nana's house (but picking up afterwards, of course!)
Enjoying the claw foot bathtub

Doing homework with Nana
Family dinner (and an unexpected dinner guest...Steve!)

Harassing Papa (although he doesn't seem to mind a bit)

Enjoying the patio

Hangin' in the tree fort

My parents are so good with the boys, and seem to have an endless amount of patience. So glad they are here!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Food, Food, Food...

I was recently backing up all of my photos from this summer, and I realized how many pictures I take of food. I think when I'm doing it, I'm thinking I'm going to blog about a particular recipe or something, but then never get around to it. So, that leaves me with a big collection of food pictures....

See that delicately breaded, gourmet chicken cutlet, atop our dinner salads? Don't be fooled - - those are Mickey Mouse chicken nuggets that Camden refuses to eat, so I've had to be creative in getting rid of them.


Pizza Bites from Annie's Eats...serious yum.

Little tiny brownies. These didn't last long.

Okay...not exactly food, but delicious, nonetheless.

Mass-producing pancakes for back-to-school

Camden's "back-to-school celebration" cake...he wanted a cake that looked like a swimming pool, and that is what we came up with, thanks to, complete with Lego people

You can't go camping without Jiffy Pop

Again, not food, but I looovvve my Tupperware salt and peppers...

Another salad. Those chicken nuggets came in a 5 lb. bag, unfortunately...

Monday, September 06, 2010

New Neighbors

The view next door, from my back door

My parents arrived late last Wednesday night, after a whirlwind roadtrip. They couldn't lollygag along the way because they had their cats with them, but I think they also might have been a little anxious to get here! On the last day, they drove for 17 hours! Those crazy kids! Anyway, they are settling in nicely next door, and it is just great having them here. The boys love having Nana and Papa so close by - - Camden has already spent the night at their house once, and Griffin, twice! As for me, I can't believe I get to have my mother and father right next door to me - - Steve and I are so happy (not to mention, thankful) that they are here. Their presence is going to be so important in the coming weeks.

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