Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My best day ever...

This week, we have a special blogging guest, my sexy husband John. Well folks... it's great to finally have a contribution of my own to share. Let me tell you about "my best day ever..." Some would think that their wedding day or even the actual birth of their children would qualify, and I agree they are all remarkable events. I am proud to report that after spending all of last Saturday with my Lillianne, for me, this qualifies as my best day ever.
Amy and Rachel raced off to take a hike around Mt. Rainer so we began the day going to Pike Place Market around 9 AM. I was a little miffed about them taking off earlier than me because they stole the stroller and I was left with the big red Radio Flyer. How was I going to haul this thing around and navigate through the crowds? Well... she had the time of her life in there because she was able to mix it up with the people as well as have some fresh peaches. I don't know what was funnier, watching the people watch her as she mauled the fruit or the fact that she ate the whole thing in less than 5 minutes. There were people from all walks of life present, many of which didn't speak English as a first language. At any rate, we did enjoy going to many of my favorite hang outs there including Beechers Cheese Company. After the market, we took a quick drive down to the Ballard Locks. I usually make a visit or two to this location during the year because it reminds me of the harbor and being close to the ships I used to see in Duluth Minnesota while going to college. The Ballard Locks are the segway for many small recreational craft looking to go from Lake Union in norther part of Seattle to the Pacific Ocean via the Puget Sound. This is also the home to the Northwestern from the Deadliest Catch which makes this shipyard home located within the lock system. Amus and I love Sig and the crew. As you can see... Lily loved to see the fishies as they made their way up the fish ladder. The king salmon are running now and some measured over 3 feet long! She loved to bang on the glass as the fish went by. From here, we stayed in the park for a while and had a picnic. Families were all around so there was plenty to keep Lily busy for a while. I even had an opportunity to meet a family who was visiting the area from Minnesota. Turns out that they were also from Maple Grove and lived within 15 minutes of my parents. After a few hours here, she was ready for a nap. So was I.

We continued our journey northward to the city of Edmonds to take the ferry across the sound to Kingston. We were destined to go to one of my favorite cities in the northwest, Pulsbo. Here, we went to the Dancing Brush to make a gift for Grandma Barney that she'll receive in a few weeks. Lily was hungry so we stopped at one of my most favorite unknown gems, "that's a some Italian Ristorante". It's believed that JFK Jr. made a pop-in at one time. From here, we decided to head home because it was approaching Lily's bedtime.

We hopped on the ferry once again from Bainbridge Island back to Seattle. On the ferry, I quickly learned my daughter is obsessed with flying birds. I, and many others on board, were in stitches as Lily was screaming at the sea gulls as they flew through the air. She became more obsessed as I would shove her up in the air to become closer to the birds. She really felt like she could grab one! By now, it was now 9 PM and she couldn't take it anymore. I hope she had fun. I spent a lot of the down time during the day reflecting on all of the gifts that God has given me and my family. It's quite remarkable to imagine it all. I'm not sure what Lily thought as the day progressed. As for me, I'm already planning for my next "best day ever..."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A note to our readers....

I'm just getting the hang of blogging and understanding the computer language (html) that makes it all happen. John is giving me quick tutorials when he can but until I can master it, my posts my have a lack of space between paragraphs and some things may run together when they clearly shouldn't.. as was the case with the recipes I posted over the weekend. Please hang around and put up with me in the meantime. I promise I'll figure it out soon.

Oodles of Noodles

It wasn't too long ago that John and I ate cereal for dinner on a regular basis. It also wasn't too long ago that our normal dinner time was between 9-10pm. That's the kind of procrastinators we were. I hate to admit it but leaving the kitchen a disaster zone until the next day was a regular routine of ours as well. Sure, we lived like semi-slobs but it was just us and it really didn't matter. We didn't have a kid crawling around on that dirty floor of ours and we could let laundry pile up until the weekend because we'd have plenty of free time to spend doing load after load then. Even still we didn't have to worry about the daily nutrition needs of a 1 year old. Consistent nightly routine? Seriously.

That was then. Now, Lily and I have a very consistent nightly routine. I know what to expect and so does she. I pick Lily up at 4:30pm, a nutritious dinner is on the table by 5:15pm, we eat together, Lily gets a bath, we read a story and then Lily goes to bed. After she's asleep and all I want to do is fall into bed myself I go back downstairs and start cleaning it all up so we can do the whole process again the next night. Leave the dishes overnight? You must be joking. If I walked into a dirty kitchen with a hungry baby after work and the challenge of getting dinner on the table in less than 45 minutes I think I would give up, put Lily back in her car seat and head for the nearest restaurant.

Fortunately for me, Lily is an amazing eater and puts up with my culinary disasters on a regular basis. For example, I can put a bowl of noodles tossed with grapes and shredded turkey in a bowl and she'll actually eat it. Thank God! Making dinner or any meal for that matter has never been easy for me but now I have the added pressure of trying to throw something together that John will like, I will eat and is appropriate for Lily. Honestly, there are not too many dishes that fit that list of requirements. While Lily clearly has her favorites, she will eat pretty much anything. She LOVES the Sungold tomatoes John planted for us. I can barely get back into the house to wash them before she is reaching and grunting her desire for me to hand one over. Once she does have one she makes quick work of shoving the entire tomato in her mouth, puncturing the skin with her only two teeth, sucking out the juice and handing the skin back to me so I'll give her another. Noodles, as you can see are another favorite and I also think rotisserie chicken, broccoli with cheesy sauce, fresh peaches and yogurt with Julie's homemade raspberry jam would make her top ten list. I seriously don't know what we're going to do when fall comes and all of her current farm stand favorites go away for another year.

John arrives home just about the time I'm taking Lily out of her bath so while I'm sorry to say that he is still consistently eating cereal for dinner we are getting better at organizing ourselves... albeit a little at a time and only as quickly as we have to. From the outside looking in it might appear tough and it is but I look forward to our nightly routine all day. Watching Lily delight in a bowl of noodles and seeing her sharing one with daddy makes it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lily's Birthday Party: Part II

The progression... Here are a couple of recipes from the party I've been asked for. Enjoy! Ice Cream in a Bag Pour the following into a ziploc sandwich bag:

1/2c heavy cream 1/2c milk 2t vanilla 2T sugar

Ensure the bag is sealed tightly and place into a gallon size ziploc freezer bag. Fill the freezer bag half full with ice and 1/2c rock salt. Seal and shake vigorously for 5 minutes.

Notes: You can use half & half instead of the cream and milk mixture I did and I've heard that just milk works too. The mixture will be a consistency of soft serve after five minutes. I wrapped a dish towel around the gallon bag to keep my fingers from freezing while shaking. Also, if you want to make more than one serving you could probably put two sandwich bag portions in one gallon bag of ice so you don't have to shake more than one bag; I'd just add a little more ice and increase the salt accordingly.

Super Easy Sangria

1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine 3 cans Fresca Fresh berries & sliced peaches

Yep, that's it. I received a lot of complements on this drink. I used the Barefoot brand wine because they're super cheap. I figured I didn't need to drop a lot of money into wine that I was going to mix with Fresca and my bet paid off. An added bonus is that they come in 1 liter bottles if you have a large crowd to serve.

This looks beautiful in a large clear glass container. I used two 1 liter bottles of Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc to start and had to add another liter bottle of Barefoot White Zinfandel to the mixture when the punch bowl began to get low. I was worried at first that it would taste funky with two different kinds of wine in there but I had guests to keep hydrated and white zin was all I had left in my arsenal. It still tasted great! Next time I make this I will freeze the berries and peaches ahead of time to keep the mixture cooler longer.

Besides it's simplicity, what I like most about the recipe is that, unlike most sangria recipes, it doesn't require a trip to the liquor store or anything to be done ahead of time for it to taste great. As the guests were arriving I was dumping all of the ingredients in my container and it looked great. One note of caution however is that this is one of those drinks that sneaks up on you if you know what I mean. :)

The spread...

Henry and Hamilton are Julie's boys and they adore Lily. Since they were first to arrive they got to check out Lily's pool and the slip and slide first.Henry looking super cool in his action shot!

This is Jana. She is undeniably the sweetest young woman I know. I can't wait till we can call her up to babysit!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lily's First Birthday Party: Part I

We all had a great time celebrating Lily’s party. We had a beautiful sunny day and lots of friends and family to wish Lily a happy birthday. Because Lily loves her Elmo doll so much we centered the theme of her party around him and Sesame Street. When guests arrived they were greeted by an Elmo candy buffet. We served mini pizzas and goldfish crackers to our younger guests because pizza is Elmo’s favorite food and to honor his pet fish, Dolores. We also made, “Monster Cookies” as a tribute to The Cookie Monster. Lily and her friends stayed cool with squirt guns, a slip and slide and a kiddy pool. Just before it was time for cake we all made our own ice cream.
Lily tried to mind her manners with her smash cake. She began with one finger and a simple taste. She even offered bites to MiMa, John and I, but once the sugar hit her veins all bets were off and she dug in with both hands. When she finished she was covered in blue frosting from head to toe and we had to wash her off in the kiddy pool. It was a mess but a riot and totally worth every gram of sugar she ingested just to see her having so much fun experiencing something new.

My mom went way beyond the call of duty to make this party special by staying with us for the week prior to help us prepare. The party I could have planned without her help would have been boring in comparison to the one we planned together. We work well together and even though it was crazy hot all week, I think we did a pretty good job. THANKS MOM!!!

John had to leave for a business trip today before we could upload all the pictures from the party to my computer. These are a few to give you an idea of the fun we had. I’ll share more pictures of the people that attended on my next post along with the ice cream recipe the kids liked and the sangria recipe the adults appreciated.