Thursday, December 20, 2012

Clean out the fridge pasta

I make a meal plan every week. It's pretty detailed so I don't get to meal time and end up grazing on something less than nutritious or spending the entertainment budget to get lunch out. But sometimes what sounds really scrumptious on Sunday afternoon is more like "eh" when it's Thursday and you're actually looking at the ingredients. That's what happened today, so I abandoned the fried eggs and greens meal that is often a great go-to for us and decided to make a pasta on a whim. I had a container of cooked whole wheat ziti because I decided to freeze the leftover meatballs and sauce rather than eat them together for leftovers. My first thought was that I could just put some butter and cheese over it and call it good, but there were a few other items in the fridge waiting to get used up too, so this is what came of it. I'd hate to think any of these things would have ended up going to waste, but it's happened before and they weren't in the plan, so I feel like I'm saving money too!
I'm writing what I made for just my toddler and myself for lunch, but of course it's easily increased to feed the whole family for dinner. Other options are in parenthesis.

Clean out the Fridge Pasta
2 tbsp butter (or other healthy oil)
1 leek, sliced thinly (green onions, shallots, regular onions)
1 small link of natural smoked sausage sliced (a natural hot dog, some shredded chicken, cooked bacon)
1 1/2 cups of shredded kale (fresh herbs would be nice, or you could leave it out, but I liked having it)
2 cups cooked pasta
1/2 cup of white wine (broth would be fine, or make it creamier with the addition of cream or milk)
1/3 cup blue cheese (feta, chevre, Parmesan would have led to very different flavor profiles, but would be great too)

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When it froths add in the leeks and sautee until they get a little soft. Then add in the sausage. Once it's heated up and browning just a little on the edges, add in the kale. After it wilts a little, add in the pasta to reheat that. Then pour in the wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the cheese on top. Cover the skillet and turn the heat down for about 5 minutes and let it meld. If you use a soft cheese it will melt in and become part of the sauce. Uncover and give it one more good toss. You can add a little more cheese on top of each serving.

We loved how it turned out. We at out on the deck and it tasted like restaurant food to me! My little moment of spontenaity in an otherwise planned week felt like fun.

Oh I have one more thing to share, because what else am I going to do with this picture? I was getting low on farm eggs because I forgot to order any this week, so I picked up a dozen of the best I could buy at the grocery store, organic, cage free, for $4.25. Making scrambled eggs yesterday morning, I used the last two of the farm eggs plus a few of the store eggs. Check out the difference! Those orange yolks are chock full of the nutrients that the store eggs just can't offer. And they're a lot cheaper too, at $3.50! Make friends with a farmer, get the good stuff!

I'm linking this post up with Pennywise Platter Thursday

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Toddler Sleep Plan, Night 4

As I mentioned last night in my oh-so-eloquent explanation of our plans for night weaning and process of coming to that decision, we are in the middle of a plan to night wean William. I do believe in extended breastfeeding, and during the daytime that's going swimmingly, but at night it was getting a little out of control. This is taking place in the confines of a bed-sharing situation and Brian and I were united and our decision to make some changes so that all of us could be better rested. This article, Sleep Changing Patterns In the Family Bed by Dr. Jay Gordon, is the plan we decided to take to make it happen.
In it, he breaks down a process that goes from nursing all night on cue, to having a 7 hour window of no nursing while keeping the breastfeeding relationship the rest of the day unchanged. To me, this was the most rational and compassionate method I found, and logically, it seemed like it would work! It was important to me that we never "abandon" William at night to cry alone, but the other source of inspiration for me, The No-Cry Sleep Solution is a misnomer because when you're changing a toddler's ingrained habit, and his favorite of all favorite activities, there will be crying. But we are there with him the whole time, speaking soothingly, rubbing his back, singing or patting. 
The first three nights were about shortening each nursing episode so that we stopped well before he fell asleep and he was able to fall asleep without nursing. The first night he rebelled at one point, carrying on for an hour and a half. Besides that, it was a much more reasonable 15 to 20 minutes of calming him down and persisting in the idea that that nursing session was over and he could, in fact, go to sleep.
The fourth night, last night, I expected to be significantly harder, because instead of nursing briefly then stopping, there would be no nursing from the hours of 11-6. I doubled up on my night shirts to be less accessible and really tanked him up before bed. I was worried for nothing it turns out! The longest he was up last night was only 20 minutes and only about 8 of those were spent in serious crying/complaining. He woke up 2 other times and was back down in less than 15. I expect the 5th and 6th nights to be even better, little by little. 
The change that comes in 7-10 is the type of soothing that you offer. Instead of holding him, we're just supposed to pat, but Will can't stand to be held or cuddled when he's angry anyway, so all we're doing is rubbing and such and saying nice things. I do think we'll try to cut out the multiple verses of The Wheels on the Bus Brian has had to sing each night. What is it about that song that immediately gets him to lay down and breathe deeper? 
I feel reassured by the changes that are taking place of our parenting decisions all along. I do feel that we're teaching William that he can trust in us to always be there for him. To rely on people for comfort rather than things, and that we respect his needs and don't think he's just trying to manipulate us. I did a ton of reading on this topic because its really the only one that was causing some anxiety around here and chose to do nothing because I couldn't find a solution that spoke reason and love to me. 
Don't follow advice just because  it comes from the expert because you will most assuredly be able to find another expert saying the opposite as evidenced by the great sleep debate. Instead, research, then follow the advice that you believe you would if there weren't any experts. Your instincts and values will lead you to a much better decision than if you try to go with popular wisdom on every parenting topic. You and I might arrive at very different conclusions, and I think that is perfectly natural and normal. It's parenting with integrity. 
I'll be sure to let you know when/if we can call this plan complete! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfast - Herb baked eggs
Lunch - leftover lentil soup
Snack - hard boiled eggs
Dinner - Rigatoni and Meatballs (we ran out of time last night because of a Target trip so we had quiche last night and pushed this meal to today)
to do: hard boil eggs


Breakfast - Soaked oatmeal with walnuts and dates
Lunch - Egg salad on Triscuits
Snack - celery and pate
Dinner - Chicken Vegetable turnovers (Jenny's crust looks amazing, but mine is going to have to be simpler, I don't do sourdough.), Fall salad
to do: pick up eggs and milk, thaw sausage, stew meat


Breakfast - Sausage and Eggs
Lunch - Kefir and fruit smoothies, veggie slices
Snack - cranberry apple mini-pies
Dinner - MIL's beef stew, green beans in bacon
to do: make creme fraiche


Breakfast - apple cinnamon coffee cake
Lunch - Fried eggs and greens
Snack - carrots in creme fraiche dip
Dinner - Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches on wheat, sauerruben, sliced fruit (Quick because we're going caroling downtown)
to do: Bake bread, soak rice


Breakfast - Peanut butter toast and kefir
Lunch - Annie's mac and cheese with peas
Snack - leftover coffee cake
Dinner - Grilled Salmon in kefir dill sauce, sauteed kales, brown rice
to do:  soak oatmeal, soak beans


Breakfast - Soaked oatmeal with jam
Lunch - Grilled cheese sandwiches, apples, sauerkraut
Snack - No-Sugar Christmas cut-out cookies
Dinner - bourbon baked beans and masa cornbreadbutternut squash fries in garlic mayo


Brunch - juevos ranch-tatos
Snack - Cheese and salami and crackers
Dinner - Probably eat out with Grammy and Gramps

I'm linking up with Modern Alternative Kitchen's Meal Plan Monday. Head over there for more real food meal ideas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What I Wore Gaudete Sunday

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

Our compromise between throwing up the tree and decorations as soon as the table is cleared after Thanksgiving and somehow trying to magically produce a festive decorated home Christmas Eve is to do the lights and tree Gaudete Sunday (or the eve of). The nativity scenes came at the start of advent, the stockings were added right before St. Nicholas day, and we've gradually been adding seasonal but not expressly Christmas items throughout the house. We decorated with lights outside yesterday, and have a special addition to the Christmas decorations (just wait till you see how high class this is) coming today or tomorrow! I'll post pictures when it's all finished. We also bought a Christmas tree and will be decorating it after nap time today.
I've been enjoying so much all of your (to the interwebs at large) lovely articles about advent and the reflections on the season. I don't have many wise words to add to the collective, but just to say that somehow we've escaped the busyness that everyone refers to. It could be that no one is busting down our doors to celebrate with us, or that we're in a stage of life that skips holiday parties anyway, but there has certainly been a sense of calm and peace in our home that I am very thankful for. We linger over coffee in the mornings, and have our usual dinners together every evening with plenty of time for family prayers and reading stories. I'm greatly enjoying waiting for the Christ child this year, as every year. I hope you're able to experience the same calm in your home. 
That said, here's what I wore to Mass today.

 Notice my newly decorated mantel. (Don't notice the toys stuffed in the corner) I was able to deck my halls on the cheap this year thanks to free fir clippings from the tree lot, and the gracious donations made by our own Nandina, Plum Delight, and Boxwood plants. I was pretty impressed with my efforts. I'd love to tuck in some candle sticks, as seen in Southern Living, but I'm worried it might send the whole display crashing into a pile of pine needles. 
The Deets:
Gold sweater: Ann Taylor Loft
Striped dress: Old Navy outlet
Belt: J. Crew
flats: Target

The Babe:
Chambray camp shirt: Target
brown cords: Sams Club
bare feet, as also seen at Mass: his own doing
Solid B for behavior. He got to feed the fish in the grotto as a reward

Head over to Fine Linen and Purple 
to see what everyone else is rejoicing in today.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Signing and Baking Cookies

We had plans today for William's darling little friend, Morgan, from Kindermusik and her momma, Dawn, to come over and bake and decorate cut-out cookies today. But unfortunately, Dawn got sick last night, so they had to postpone. I've been promising cookies to Will all week so we decided to make some simpler Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies instead. They turned out great! Just see how much Will is enjoying them. Try to ignore the stuff he's spread all over the floor!
Do you have any baking planned before Christmas? Share a recipe if you would!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

F Week Report

Verse of the Week: Fear Not, for I am with you. Isiah 41:10
Saint of the Week: St. Francis Xavier and St. Francis of Assisi (I'm aware that Will sees no distinction between them at this point and I'm ok with that for now.)
Food: Fish, goldfish

touch and Feel
For each unit we've been making a big letter on cardstock. I don't know why I haven't been taking their pictures, but they're all textural, so far anyway. This one is felt which feels fuzzy. We also pulled out all of his touch and feel infant books and identified things that felt fuzzy or furry. 
I'll want to spend a lot more time on this when he's a little older, but we talked about feelings a little bit and practiced making sad, mad, happy, surprised and funny faces. I pointed out pictures in magazines of feelings too.

Art - Fingerpaint! 
I followed this recipe from Pinterest to make some baby safe finger paints. The one on the left is my attempt at the color fuchsia.
 I wish I had taken a picture of his masterpiece! It hung on the wall for a few days then came down. While he was working on it, I fingerpainted a fishbowl you can see in the video below. I'm very proud of my work :)

Pipe Cleaner Fishing
We made a busy bag game to work on fine motor skills, coordination, and color recognition. He actually had a lot of fun with it and we played throughout the week even though in the video he's just kind of messing around. You get the picture. It's a magnet tied on the end of the string as the hook.

One Fish Two Fish and poem
We read lots of fish books as I bet you could guess. One Fish Two Fish was among them. I wanted to be sure to read it, because I had come across this spin off poem that I wanted to play with during snack time. That book is complete crap. Apparently I had never read it, my parents aren't huge Dr. Seuss fans either. About 12 pages is tolerable because it's still about fish, but then it just keeps going on and on getting more and more ridiculous and lame at the same time. Sorry any of you Seuss fans. I guess now I know where my parents were coming from. Green Eggs and Ham is an exception.
We only played with Goldfish once, otherwise I would have ended up eating the while box. After that we repurposed the pipe cleaner fish and lined them up on  there.
We also looked at the fish in the fountain at church, the aquarium at the library, and in the river by our house. We learned and practiced the ASL sign for fish which is useful because Will pronounces fish SHHH.

We read stories about St. Francis Xavier and also St. Francis of Assisi. There are a lot more children's books about Assisi as you might imagine and I'm glad to talk about him because he happens to be my confirmation patron. While we fed the birds and the dogs we talked about how much he loves animals and by being gentle with them we could honor God. St. Francis Xavier's feast day fell during our study and we celebrated with a traditional Xaver Suppe  so the two Francises are probably one in the same in Will's mind. We'll sort that out later.

Farms we had big plans to go to the farm when we bought our 1/4 beef, but logistics worked out better to just pick it up at the farmer's market. So that trip and reading many related farm books is pretty much all we did with that. Speaking of which, does anyone have recommendations for farm books where the animals don't all eat corn?

Fire Safety Again, we half-butted this one to the extent that I dressed Will in his Old Navy fireman shirt 3 or 4 times over the two weeks and we went to play on the fire truck playground at Landa Park.

Farming and Firemen were two themes I wanted to jump into, but just missed out on some of the enthusiasm this time around. There's a wealth of options there for later years. Frogs, flowers and flags (get in some geography) would also be fun and interesting units later on.

Favorite Books
Swimmy  by Leo Leonni
The Song of Francis Tomie DePaola
St. Francis and the Christmas Donkey Tomie DePaola (bridged the F unit and advent season well)
The Story of Ferdinand  Munro Leaf

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Amazing!, I'm actually early on the meal plan this week. I didn't do WIWS because Brian was still gone with Coast Guard so I had no one to take a picture of me. But after that Mass with William (on my own at 8:00 two days in a row!) I was in NO MOOD to have my picture taken anyway. Brian is back now and I am sooo glad! William and I were both in sore need of Daddy's presence. Now we're settling in for some quality family time this evening. A cold front is blowing in tonight and tomorrow. This afternoon it was 78* and by tomorrow night, it'll be 27*! Hooray for feeling like December for at least a few days! On to the meals...

Breakfast - Soaked steel cut oatmeal with raisins and almonds
Lunch - leftover creamy Italian chicken, sauerkraut
Snack - apples and peanut butter dip
Dinner - Chana Masala (chickpea curry) served over mashed cauliflower this post on healing spices inspired me to fit some more in
to do - soak beans, thaw ground beef, soak tortillas, grocery shopping


Breakfast - milk kefir, cinnamon toast
Lunch - pb&j rollups in tortillas, save some for fajitas tomorrow
Snack - celery and pate from freezer
Dinner - Chili, corn muffins, creamy grape dessert real foodified (full fat yogurt, kefir cheese, succanat)
to do - pick up eggs and milk, thaw fajitas


Breakfast - scrambled eggs and sausage
Lunch - leftover chili
Snack - honey nut butter popcorn
Dinner - fajitas, guacamole, salsa and beans (Mexican in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe)
to do - soak pancakes, hard boil eggs


Breakfast - pancakes
Lunch - egg salad on Triscuits, sliced fruit and veggies
Snack - cranberry walnut kefir smoothies
Dinner - melted roast beef and cheese sandwiches, sauerruben, salad (quick because we're going to look at Christmas lights for St. Lucy's day)
to do -  bake bread, soak lentils


Breakfast - soaked steel cut oatmeal with bananas mashed in
Lunch - fried egg sandwiches
Snack - friends are coming over to bake cookies together. Not sure which yet, any suggestions? Keep in mind toddlers are helping, they need to be simple.
Dinner - Peasant Lentil Kale Soup
to do - thaw meat


Breakfast - scrambled eggs
Lunch - leftovers
Snack - mincemeat pie in puff pastry (wheat pastry flour)
Dinner - Rigatoni and meatballs, salad

Edited to add that I'm going to link up with Modern Alternative Kitchen's Menu Plan Monday. I'm going to try to hang with the big time real food bloggers this week. ;) It's mostly their recipes anyway!

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes, completely void of a unifying theme

1. I'll start out with the big news first. I have decided to become a Discovery Toys consultant! I played with these toys when I was a kid, and my mom gave Will a bunch of them for Christmas last year, which he still loves! They're high quality, educational toys that last forever! So after some hemming and hawing, I decided to finally jump in. I have my first online party going on right now and I'd love to invite you to come shop around in there! Last day to order Christmas presents is December 14th, so you still have a week! Please help me kick off this new venture with some good sales. If you'd like to host your own online or in-person Discovery Toy party, let me know. It will be great fun and there's free toys in it for you.
Who didn't have a set of these Measure Up Cups?
2. In my stocking from St. Nicholas yesterday, I received a weather station that gives indoor and outdoor temps. There's a little weather girl icon that changes outfits based on the outdoor temperature. She doesn't put on pants until it's 66* or less, so while I'm wearing green skinny cords, she's still in her bathing suit. That says a lot about what she thinks about this Texas weather.

3. My (male) cousin posted this video on Facebook about "can men and women be just friends?" Just like all the girls in the video I used to think the answer was yes and counted several guys as my best friends. As it turned out the guys had it right with this one. Especially at the college age, the answer is no.

4. Watch this video of William doing pushups. It's exceptionally brief, and cute! I can say hey Will, lets do some pushups and he'll get down and do that lizard motion. He gets in around 4 per second. That's my dad with him. 

5. Tahini cookies may not be traditional Christmas time treats, but I'm going to be making these at least once or twice more before the end of the year. They are supremely easy, extremely delicious, and moderately healthy. If you have the ingredients, give them a try.

6. I just got in a new extremely conservative nightgown. I'll bet even Michelle Bachmann doesn't have one like this! Surprisingly, my husband is a fan too! It might be because while Lands End isn't exactly Victoria's Secret, it's still a huge step up from his sister's hand-me-down yoga pants and my t-shirts that are approaching their 10th birthday. I was going to post a pic of me in it St. Nicholas morning, but for the sake of propriety I'll just share the model instead. And it's on sale now!

7. 27 Reasons Why Kids are the Worst is actually really funny. Just don't watch it with your kids around, they might get ideas.

Go get some more takes at Jen's place!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent Plans

This is the shortest Advent I recall, but like most people I love this time of year and plan to make the most of it! Some of the things we're planning on doing have become family traditions, others will be new ones. The church is so full of rich traditions that help us experience the joy of Advent and Christmas and we're glad to take part in them while keeping our focus on the true meaning of Christmas! Here are some of the things we have been and will be doing as a family this season. I do believe I'll continue to update this post with pictures of our Advent goings-on to revisit when I'm planning next year.

December 2 - The first Sunday of Advent
Pull out all the nativity scenes
Put new purple and pink candles in the advent wreath and bless them as a family
Read the Christmas story from Luke - repeat throughout Advent
Set out the new Advent calendar

Every day of Advent
Light the appropriate candles before dinner
Sing one verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel. We make it through all 7 "O Antiphons" each week
Open the appropriate door of the advent calendar to reveal the picture and verse
Read from Isiah - I'm doing this independently in quiet time. It's about 16 chapters a week

December 6 - the Feast of St. Nicholas
the night before, set the table and pray, inviting St. Nicholas into our home
Open stockings
have a feast for breakfast!
Drop off "giving tree" gift at church. Talk about St. Nicholas's example of generosity
Wassailfest just so happens to be tonight wtih carolling at church beforehand, great way to continue the feast
Read the St. Nicholas: the Real Story of the Christmas Legend

The Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at church
"I am the Immaculate Conception"

December 8 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception 
Holy Day of Obligation - go to Mass
Inspired by Mary's purity have an all white dinner
Take a bag of baby items by the crisis pregnancy center to bless a pregnant mom
Read Mary

December 12 - The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Act out the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego, probably with Little People
Color pictures of Mary
Mexican food for dinner
Read The Lady of Guadalupe
Our little shrine to our Lady of Guadalupe

Santa's Ranch drive through lights tour for the feast of St. Lucy

December 13 - Feast of St. Lucy
Since we don't have any daughters of breakfast making age, we're going to focus on the "light" component of St. Lucy by going to Santa's Ranch to see all the Christmas lights.
Put some lights up at our house if there's time, finish over the weekend

December 16 - Gaudete Sunday
Light the Pink candle
Decorate the house for Christmas
Put up the Christmas Tree
bake Christmas cookies

December - 17
Start praying the O Antiphons before bed

December 23
Grammy and Gramps come to town for Christmas

now we're getting into Christmas, but might as well put the plans out there
December 24
We'll be in Austin with Nanny and Grandude in the morning for breakfast and presents

December 25 - Christ our Savior is born!
Breakfast at home
Christmas Mass
Presents at our house
heading to Granny's house in San Antonio in the afternoon

December 27 
heading to the Valley

Not yet scheduled activities to get done during advent:
Receive the sacrament of Penance
Have hot chocolate and a fire in the fireplace
Make ornaments for grandparent gifts
Read tons and tons of Christmas books!
make a pine cone bird feeder to hand in the neighborhood park
Deliver neighbor gifts. Probably these simmer pot packets.
Pray the joyful mysteries of the Rosary
Watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (after Will is in bed)

in the next couple years we'd like to add in:
the Jesse Tree. We did it before Will was born, and wanted to wait a bit before bringing it back
lining Jesus's crib with good deed straws. We have to get (make?) a Nativity scene in which Jesus isn't permanently affixed to his crib first.
Unwrapping a Christmas book each day. Our collection is growing but most of what we're reading this year comes from the library.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

First Date Night in...?

Brian and I went on a date Saturday night! A real one, where we planned in advance, left the baby at home, dressed up and everything! The last time we went out like that was the company Christmas party. No, not an early Christmas party this year, it was for Christmas 2011. So to say we were overdue would be an understatement. It really wasn't such a huge priority for either of us since we're pretty committed attachment parenting parents, trying to save some money, and not the night owls we used to be. Just kidding, I have never in my life been a night owl, but I did occasionally stay up till midnight for my love's sake.
For years now, we've been wanting to see Old Crow Medicine Show in concert. They came through Brian's favorite town in west Texas on the Railroad Revival Tour (wow that would have been amazing) with two other excellent Americana/Bluegrass bands. There would have been nothing to keep him from that show if it weren't a mere two weeks after Will's birth. The next time they're in town, we swore, we'll be there, no matter what. Well as it happened, the next time was Saturday ate the beautiful, intimate and historic Empire Theater in San Antonio, and as promised, we were there.
Just a little bit of backtracking for history's sake. Back when I was a graduate student with nothing better to do, I spent a significant amount of time reading and posting to some message boards, It doesn't exist anymore to my knowledge. There was a long thread about creating the ultimate frat-tastic playlist with hundreds of songs submitted. I downloaded (illegally of course) most of the ones I didn't already have hoping to expand my repertoire. Wagon Wheel by OCMS was listed and on first listen, my reaction was "AYKM?" are you kidding me? But on the second third and fourth I fell in love. I shared it with Brian who had the same initial reaction then also began to enjoy it. We looked further into their music, watched some live shows on youtube and a new love was born. Even still Wagon Wheel is our favorite song, everybody's apparently judging by the reaction at the concert. There was a fun moment at Allie and Karl's wedding when a bunch of Karl's fam and some friends sang it together, and almost every night we sing it to William going to bed. Sometimes we harmonize. I think we sound beautiful, you probably wouldn't if you heard.
So we got tickets and made plans. Mine included a new dress for the occasion. You might understand based  on the entirety of my posts that my clothes needs have changed somewhat. I don't have many going out clothes left anymore after I stupidly gave away everything cute when I was pregnant, assuming I'd never fit it again. What I have left is stay-at-home-mom clothes, church clothes, and some holdout teaching clothes. I wanted this dress. From the reviews about how short it is I settled for ordering this one and this one that I was going to accessorize just right, assuming I'd send one back. They still haven't come in, thanks a lot, ModCloth! I waited until the last minute to get ready Saturday, checking the mail repeatedly. My disappointment about not getting to wear the adorable outfit I'd planned threatened to ruin the mood, but Brian helped me put something together that worked well enough and when I got there, as often happens, I realized it didn't actually matter what I was wearing because the crowd was very diverse in their outfit choices and obviously didn't actually give two flips about what I had on. Sometimes it's good to realize you're not that important after all!
We spent ages in the downtown San Antonio Christmas season traffic. The Spurs were playing, the Nutcracker was showing, and no one can drive right because they're all looking up into the trees of the Riverwalk at the gorgeous lights. It took forever to find a parking garage that wasn't full, but it worked out just in time and we got our drinks and headed to our seats (second row of the mezzanine) right as the opener came on. The energy just built and built throughout. I loved how close we were to the band, I loved singing along, I loved linking arms with my honey while we tapped our feet together. After the concert we grabbed a coffee on the way back to the parking garage and laughed a lot.
When we got home we heard the report about how William had a great time, but didn't go to sleep until 10:40. Miracle of all miracles though, he slept through the night for the very first time ever, not waking up until 5! As you might guess, he's made up for it the last two. Oh well. Maybe next year we'll go out again and have the same success!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Not quite a meal plan

Ooops! I didn't mean to hit publish on this one. Clearly this is not a full meal plan.I'll go ahead and leave it here because it is a glimpse into how I do my meal planning. Instead of pinning recipes that I"ll never find again, or starring them on my reader, if it's something I know I actually want to make I copy the link and paste it into a new post. Then when I'm ready, usually the weekend, I flesh out the blank spaces with recipes I know by heart or look some up, push any meals I need to wait till later to another new post, add some sides and snacks etc and then hit publish. These might appear next week.

Dinner - Mushroom Chicken Gratin
Snack - apples and peanut butter dip
Dinner - Peasant Lentil Kale Soup

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast - I had kefir smoothies and toast planned but Will was so insistent we have popcorn, that I rolled with it. Honey nut butter popcorn
Lunch - Quesadillas made with leftover beef and pork combo enchilada filling
Snack - yogurt covered bananas
Dinner - Xaver Suppe in honor of the feast of St. Francis Xavier, and grilled cheese, picnic style. We're meeting daddy at park then all heading to a special evening Kindermusik class.
to do: soak oatmeal


Breakfast - Steel cut oatmeal with apples and raisins
Lunch -  tuna salad on Triscuits, clementines
Snack - apples and cheese slices, melted
Dinner - BBQ Baked potatoes, green fall salad
to do: pull out pate, Brunswick stew, sausage patties


Breakfast - Eggs and sausage
Lunch - Brunswick stew from the freezer
Snack - Celery and butternut squash and chicken liver pate. Tip - freeze pate in ice cube trays for nutrient dense snacks or party food
Dinner - Tarragon Chicken over wilted spinach, butternut squash, apple crisp for dessert. (all recipes are from a Nourished Kitchen menu mailer, they're not posted on the website yet.)
to do: soak nuts for crisp in the morning, prep french toast casserole


Breakfast - Cinnamon Raisin french toast casserole with blackberries and cream. We'll be opening our stockings if St. Nicholas comes! Today is his feast.
Lunch - frozen cheese pizza - hey it's a special day!
Snack - pumpkin cranberry bread
Dinner - our town has Wassailfest so we will be out Wassailing. We might pick something up, or I might throw together some hot sandwiches.
to do: Bake bread, pull out fish

Breakfast - leftover french toast casserole
Lunch - PBJ Kefir smoothies
Snack - cauliflower and dip
Dinner - parmesan crusted fish, broccoli, rice (something like that Kraft recipe, without all that brand specific crap-ola)

Brian is out of town this weekend, so we'll see what we're in the mood for. Maybe just leftovers, maybe we'll go out once or twice. It's not a whole ton of fun cooking 4 meals a day for just me and a toddler.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What I Wore Sunday & Christmas Blog Swap

Joining in again with Fine Linen And Purple, only I'm wearing fine polyester and purple. More like blue-violet. It's purpler in real life. I was hoping to wear this cute tan wool blazer over, but it's 80* here so that's just not happening, obviously. Instead, this is how I went to Mass for the first Sunday of Advent. 
Dress, with pockets: Target
Necklace: Kate Spade Outlet
Shoes: Steve Madden
Advent is my favorite season of the year! The preparation and anticipation of Christ's coming brings me so much happiness. I hope to pass that on to William this year. We have some big and little plans I'm going to put together and post about this week. I hope your's is off to a great start!

My bestie, Allie of Living the Adventures is hosting a Christmas blog swap with a few other very fine ladies! I'm so glad she invited me to join in the fun! We'll be getting partners and swapping some fun Christmas gifts for each other. It's kind of nice to know I'll get to shop for something fun and Christmas-y that I think another momma like me might like rather than all the stress of trying to find the perfect gifts for family. I look forward to showing off my goodies in a couple weeks! It's not too late to sign up. Go by if you want to participate.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Stationery card

Flourishing Poinsettias Christmas Card
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sneek Peek - Christmas Card Photo, and then I talk about Thanksgiving

Well sorta. My parents-in-law are almost as technologically challenged as my own parents. I don't think it would hurt any of their feelings to hear me say so. It's almost like this.
Every so often my mother-in-law calls to ask how to find a certain channel or get the tv off of DVD mode. So it was actually pretty impressive that my father-in-law, back from the deer lease, was able to get the Thanksgiving pictures off the camera onto the computer and then attach one to an email. My mom and dad couldn't have done it without major guidance. Somehow, though, he shut down after sending this outtake one instead of the actual one we want to use. We'll get it evenutally, I'm not (too) worried.
The real one is the same pose in the same place but Will's hand isn't blurry from slapping his daddy in the face and we're all smiling bigger. I must have been laughing I'm smiling so big and Brian seems to have forgotten getting beat up by his son and the fire ants that bit his hand because he's offering up a big genuine grin. Even that ginger son of mine is giving a big gap-toothy one. I emailed this to my mom and her response was, can you edit out the sooty chimney in the background? I don't think so mom, I don't come from real techy stock, remember?

Thanksgiving was the most peaceful one I can recall. My parents came over to visit from Sunday til Wednesday and spoiled the heck out of me and their grandboy! My mom and I together got a lot of cleaning and organizing done, my dad did a ton of trimming, we gussied up Will's secret hideaway in the back yard, Brian and my dad worked on a wooden toy dump truck he's building for Christmas and we just had a lot of quality time spent together. They headed down to the Valley to be with my mom's side of the family after that and the three of us went to Austin to be with Brian's parents and family.

I don't want you to get the wrong idea about the Thanksgivings I'm used to because they've always been big happy occasions, but when you get a bunch of family together (anyone's I think!) there can be some fussing and carrying-on sometimes. Brian and I remarked on the way home that this was the most conflict-free Thanksgiving either of us ever remember. No one whined or complained, no one raised their voice to another, everyone got along, and no one even "passed" when it was their turn to say what they're thankful for. It was wonderful! We had a huge meal, of course, and there was enough for at least 6 Thanksgiving feasts left over when we were all done! I've mentioned all the leftovers we brought home, and that was only a fraction of it! My MIL might not be all that savvy with the remote, but she can make some good pies (and stuffing, and corn, and turkey)! In fact, to feed the 11 of us (including the baby), she made 9 pies! We took a whole one home. After din din, and our little family photo shoot which my stylish sister-in-law helped coordinate, we played Uno and visited until Will let us know time was up.

I'll go ahead and share the recipe for C.C.'s (now Flossy's) Fruit Salad I mentioned. First because it's delicious and if you need something to bring to a get together, this would be great. Second, even though it's easy to remember, I usually don't, and it'll be good to have it someplace I can come back to.
The trick to remembering the recipe is that everything comes in 2s.
2 cups peeled and chopped oranges
2 cups sliced bananas
2 cups of red grapes
2 cups of marshmallows - leave them out if you want this to be a real food recipe. I'm going to next time.
1 large can of crushed pineapple, drained really well - that's the equivalent of 2 cups
toss all that together in a bowl.
then, in a saucepan over medium low heat, combine
2 tbsp sugar - I'm going to try honey, again to make it real food worthy
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
Cook that, stirring often, until it starts to get a little thick. Don't let it become scrambled eggs though.
Pour that over the fruit and stir it up.
Optional, but really really good, fold in two cups of (real) whipped cream.
Chill and serve.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I Wore Sunday and then some

Joining in again with the lovely ladies of Fine Linen and Purple for another edition of What I Wore Sunday. 
First of all, I just want to say how cute my husband and son were in their church clothes today! Handsome sweater vests and all! I chose Will's outfit but not Brian's, he did it all himself. ;) Too bad they wouldn't let me take their pictures. 
Secondly, since this is at least in part about modesty, tell me honestly, should I not be wearing this tunic to Mass? It's my second time to do so, both with leggings, and my husband thinks it's fine, but I'm not sure. It's awfully short in the front. 
The Details:
Scarf: Target (I gave it to my husband for our first dating Christmas, but I'm the only one who's ever worn it.)
Tunic: Uptown Chic boutique in town
Jacket: Ann Taylor Loft
Belt: J.Crew
Leggings: new from Bed Bath and Beyond of all places
Boots: Nine West
killer rustic backdrop chosen especially for this shoot: our own rotting back fence.

I wanted another picture without the scarf so I asked Brian to take one of me looking down. Why, he asks. Because Grace makes it look so, well, graceful. Not me apparently. And what are you doing with your legs, is Grace to blame for that too? Nope, that one I came up with all on my own. 

Since this is by far my most popular post each week, and the only one for last week, I have a few excuses to offer up.
There will be no E week post because we all but skipped E week. It was all about eggs and with family in town and getting ready for Thanksgiving, I just wasn't in the mood for it. We did hard boil some, and I gave up any sense of control over my kitchen when I taught Will how to crack eggs. We also read the heck out of some Little Engine That Could, a new favorite. F week starts tomorrow. I promise to do at least a little better. Think St. Francis, and fish.

There was no meal plan, again because of Thanksgiving mostly, and there likely won't be one at least until the second half of this week because we're still inundated with leftovers. I used part of them to make some leftover mashed potato soup then decided part way through I could throw some creamed corn in there too, and I made some stuffing patties as suggested here. Check out that last link, there are a lot of other good ideas. I think this ham and potato strata  might show up on our table at some point this week too. Even after all that though we have a fridge full and a turkey carcass simmering on the stove. Mmm bone broth for weeks!

Finally, I planned on participating in What I Wore for Thanksgiving  and I still might since she's given us such a cushy window, but we frugally share a camera with my father in law who needed it at the deer lease this weekend. So immediately after Thanksgiving dinner it went hunting with him and we won't see it again until next weekend probably. If I can get my mother in law to email me the picture though, I'll go ahead and use it for a post. Spoiler alert: it'll be the same picture used for our Christmas cards. So hopefully that can happen today, I want to capitalize on the 10 free Shutterfly cards and free shipping.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What I Wore Sunday vol. 3

 We went to the early Mass again this week, 8:00, because that seems to be the best bet for good behavior out of Willie. There must be some other reason to blame then for the fail in Mass etiquette out of him. Major step down from last week. Oh well.
New sweater: Kohl's. I brought in a facebook offer for 20% off plus 2 $10 off coupons bringing this already on sale sweater down to the low low price of next to nothing. I also picked up a pair of mustard tights and some gold (toned) bow earrings.
Skirt: J. Crew from back when I worked there.
Tights: probably also J.Crew
Shoes: Nine West

Our morning went a little like this. Wake up at 5:00 when Will is ready, thank Brian profusely for him taking Will downstairs and letting me sleep in another hour or so. Come down and they're watching the DVRed Stanford vs Oregon game from last night. Get really into the last 8 minutes of the game and forget about breakfast and getting ready. (Maybe that's why Will was irritable, he was hangry!) Realize it's 7:15 and we have 30 minutes to leave the house. I get in the shower and ask Brian to dress Will in a certain sweater and some gray pants. Will comes and opens the shower door wearing a different pair of gray pants that really don't go at all and make comment I come to regret, "that's interesting." Brian is sick of my critiquing what he dresses Will in and wants to make a fight out of it. Diffuse while I'm doing my hair. Will wears the silly combo to church. No one remarks what irresponsible parents we are to dress him like that so it must be ok. Erin, relax, he's a boy, it doesn't matter what he wears. I feel bad about making Brian feel bad so I decide to give him input in my outfit, enter the options. Navy sweater or new maroon one? Maroon. Gray skirt or tweed skirt? Tweed. Black boots or these shoes? Boots. ehhh. Why'd you even ask then? Well, I was considering boots, but these are a perfect match. Tights or no tights? No tights. Put tights on one leg, are you sure no tights? ok, tights. Brian dressed in a plaid flannel shirt and khaki pants with no input from anyone. Hurry to Mass, fit in a decade of the Rosary on the way and make it into the pew on time.

Are we the only household that operates this way? Who decides what everyone in your family is wearing to church?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Seven Quick Takes

1. My husband has a remote control helicopter that his sister gave him for his birthday a couple years ago. He used to fly it around the bedroom when Will was first learning tracking. He'd follow it around the room with his little head and then when it went behind him, it was all over. Then he abandoned it for several months. Remembering how cool it was, Brian took out the helicopter and again flew it around the room for Will. You would have thought that was the coolest thing there ever was in the entire world! But then the battery died and would need several hours of charging to be revived. You would have thought all of Will's hopes and dreams died right along with that battery. He was so devastated when it wouldn't fly anymore. The way he carried on boo hooing and howling well past bedtime, I hope that helicopter never makes its way out again.

2. Speaking of my husband, he has a blog now! He has written one post here about trail running. He's a very good writer I think, but I might be biased. He told me he was going to log how many miles he runs each week. I said really? Does anyone want to read that? His come back was that I post each week about what I wear to church. Point taken.

3. My parents are coming to town Sunday. They'll be here until Wednesday when they head down to the Rio Grande Valley where my mom's family lives. We'll be having Thanksgiving with Brian's family in Austin. I'm bringing butternut squash and Flossy's Fruit Salad.

4. We used to call the fruit salad C.C.'s fruit salad after my grandmother. My mom got the recipe from her mother in law in New York and made it and brought it to all of her family's gatherings for years and years. I'd be hard pressed to think of a holiday without that fruit salad. Last year we had Thanksgiving at my mom and dad's house where of course my mom made it. The thing is, my dad's Aunt Joyce was with us, C.C.'s sister. When my mom told her she had made her sister's famous fruit salad she became a little bit indignant and insisted that it was not C.C.'s recipe at all, and that their mother (of 10) had made it all her life and that if this was anyone's fruit salad it was Florence Slade (called Flossy)'s fruit salad. So that's what it'll be this week when I make it for my in-laws.

5. We're at the end of E week number one and I haven't done one single E week activity short of reading the Elves and the Shoemaker to Will. Most of the books and activities I'd found for the letter E revolved around either electricity or eggs. Really the only thing I want Will to know about electricity at this point is to not touch it. Eggs are a lot safer of course, but during the week before and during Thanksgiving, who wants to be boiling, dying and hunting for eggs?

6. St. Elizabeth of Hungary's feast day is tomorrow and at least that's something we can celebrate. I'm making my Hungarian Godmother's layered cabbage recipe and a St. Elizabeth's Crown cake, maybe this one.

 7. My turn finally came up at the library to check out Ken Follet's Winter of the World. I've read and loved both of his Cathedral epics, and the first book of the Century Trilogy, Fall of Giants. Fall of Giants I listened to on audio when I was commuting to and from Austin last year, but the other two I shut everything down and read straight for about 3 days. I'd really love to do that with this one, but instead I know it'll take me about a month of nap times to finish it. That's what you get when you read Little Blue Truck 7 times a day.

This isn't one of my takes, but just in case any Heisman voters happen upon my blog, vote for Johnny Football! He should get it. I mean, did you see the upset against Alabama last week? That speaks for itself. I'm expecting 77-0 against Sam tomorrow. That's all.

Go see Jen at Conversion Diary where about a thousand other people posted timelier and more important takes than these.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I love my job, but...

Sometimes the poop, and the spills, and the no napping, and the constant nursing (still!), and the poop and the whining, and still no napping threaten to drive a momma insane. You know? That's where we're at right now. Not to sound ungrateful or anything, because really I love my job!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

D Week Report

Virtue of the Week: Delight Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 34:14
Saint of the Week: St. Dominic de Guzman
Shape of the Week: Diamond. Mostly we wore argyle and I threw my ADPi diamonds and tried to teach him to do it too.
Snacks: easy homemade donuts d week and All Souls celebration in one

Dogs! and diversity
It isn't difficult to get a really great education about dogs around here! Of course we have two dogs, Sandy and Eddie, who we spent extra time walking and playing with this week, even more than normal. But we had already chosen Will's Halloween costume which lined up quite serendipitously. 
I made this paper bag hand puppet and Will practiced identifying all the body parts on the dog and on himself. He says knee and nose and just points to all the others. Tongue is probably his favorite. He sticks his out and wags it. We used the dog puppet to act out a lot of our dog books, the favorite being Doggies by Sandra Boynton. Check out all the videos of parents and kids reading it aloud on Youtube. My barking has improved significantly. 

 In addition to the kids' dogs books, we looked at a Pedigree book that we have that shows all the different breeds sorted into their classes, working group, toy group, hunting etc. Will looked at pictures while I talked over his head about dogs' strengths and weaknesses and put a diversity message out there about how brown dogs can be really good at keeping people company and so can white dogs. Black dogs can be good protectors and so can spotted dogs. Inspired by Nurture Shock, I talked about how people are good at different things too, and that how someone looks doesn't let you know what kind of person they are. We'll try it again as he gets older.

Digging in Dirt
 Honestly, I thought my boy would be more into the sanctioned dirtiness this week. We had a good opportunity to explore digging and dirt last weekend when Brian and I changed out the summer zinnias and celoycia in the front beds for pansies and cabbages. As long as Daddy was doing it, Willie appreciated digging, but he was pretty uninterested in playing in the healthy dirt pile I left for him or exploring the shovels and tools the rest of the week.

 He thought this video was pretty cool though.

Feeding Ducks
We visited Landa Park which is very close to our house to feed the ducks. Clearly I didn't take the season into account because where there are normally hundreds of hungry geese and ducks clamoring for bread, the day we went we were hard pressed to find any takers. At first I thought we'd have to settle for feeding the Egyptian geese and minnows.
No offense yall, but your name doesn't start with the right letter

A wood duck swam over from the other side of the lake though and all was well. We ended up with pretty good lake wildlife diversity (using that d word again) and fed the Wood Duck, Muscovy, Nutria, and the geese.

I sang 5 Little Ducks and had Dad demonstrate his duck calls. All the rubber duckies made bathtime appearances this week as well. Most duck books we tried reading were pretty awful.

Favorite Books
Dig! by Andrea Zimmerman I like the writing style of this book - repetition and sometimes rhyming. Will interacted with it a lot, counting, waving, pointing out the dog, saying No.
Doggies by Sandra Boynton This is a favorite year-round. I've got to say, I'm a pretty good barker, and Will copies it sometimes. Every member of the family reads it a little differently.
Drummer Hoff by Barbara and Ed Emberly Brian was good at reading this one. I didn't care for it as much, but it's a Caldecott winner so what do I know?
Oh No, George by Chris Haughton Will's newest favorite. We used it to talk a little about temptation, regret and forgiveness. Will makes the cutest sad face as he shrugs and says oh no when George, a dog, makes bad choices including digging.
The Ugly Duckling The only duck book I could tolerate from this week. it's a classic of course. We'll hold onto it because it transitions us into eggs of E week nicely.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Breakfast - scrambled eggs and orange slices
Lunch - Annie's White Cheddar Macaroni with peas, grapes
Snack - cottage cheese with peppers
Dinner Alfredo rutabaga, sauteed spinach and mushrooms
to do- grocery shopping, prep clafouti, thaw pumpkin

Breakfast - banana clafouti
LunchPumpkin Risotto
Snack - honey nut butter popcorn
DinnerChili Marinated Flank Steakroasted butternut squash with chili, lime and cumin
to do - marinate flank steak, thaw pancakes

Breakfast - Frozen sourdough pancakes, kefir
Lunch - chicken salad on triscuits, fruit
Snack Peanut Butter and Jelly milk shake
Dinner - Spiced Lamb Stew with dried apricots, salad with maple dressing
to do - thaw sausage, soak biscuits

Breakfast - sausage biscuits
Lunch - roast eggplant and leftovers
Snack - cranberry walnut kefir smoothies
Dinner Apple Sage Chicken, leftover salad
to do- soak oatmeal

Breakfast - soaked oatmeal with raisins and apples
Lunch - rice and beans, steamed okra
Snack Sugarplums
DinnerScalloped Oysters, field peas

My parents are coming in this weekend, but I'm not sure when, so I'm playing it by ear this weekend and next week for meals.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I Wore Sunday

I'm joining Fine Linen and Purple again because my ego enjoyed the boost last week! It was my most commented post in a very long time, and yall were so sweet! 

This weekend Will and I were visiting my parents while Brian was at his Coast Guard drill weekend, so we went to Mass at the church I grew up at, St. Laurence. It has gotten to be huge, and so beautiful! The pastor, Fr. Drew, is who married us. He was the priest there when I was in high school and was very influential in my faith formation. I love him. He didn't say Mass today though, because he's not an early bird, and Will and my parents are so we went at 7:30 am. I get the very best behavior out of Will if we can go to the earliest Mass possible. He was outstanding today! I couldn't ask for more out of a 1 1/2 year old! He was quiet, stayed in the pew, looked at his little Bible and books, only threw his St. William stuffie once or twice, and only proclaimed POO until I took him to the bathroom where he actually used it! Oh Will, you make a Momma so proud!
So you came by for the clothes. Here's what I wore, nothing fancy but I was comfortable enough to stay in it all day and drive us home. There's something to be said for that. I couldn't decide if I liked tucked or untucked better. I went with untucked, and only one button unbuttoned on top, mom was pushing for two. 

Top: Mudd from Kohl's. It has lace across the shoulders in the back. I should have gotten a detail pic of that.
Skirt: Stein Mart, over 5 years old
Wedges: Katie and Kelly from DSW

It's still 80+ here but I think we'll be cooling off Tuesday. Maybe I'll actually get to wear a sweater or something next week.   v