We don't buy Sweet P a lot of toys. Most of what she has, she received as a gift from one set of grandparents or the other. And though she may not have a lot of toys, trust me. The kid is never bored. She doesn't even play with most of her stuff, she looks for things like a measuring spoon or a sippy cup and walks around with those in her hand all day.
So. After saying we don't buy her a lot of toys. I've come to tell you that I bought her her first hard body baby doll this week. It's a "Better Now Baby" Baby Alive doll (I picked it because it had a hard body and was on sale) and she loves! it. I tried to let her pick which doll, but the one she wanted had moving arms and legs and made scary noises...and kept making the noises long after we'd moved down the aisle. No, thank you. Not bringing that into my house. The last thing I need is to hear some creep-o doll talk in the middle of the night. Nope.
She knew exactly what to do with the baby, too. Sponges, I tell you, these kids are sponges! She picked her up and rocked her, hugged her, carried around the room, kisses her if prompted and gives her water from the doll's sippy cup. I'm excited for this doll to play a role when we have another baby (this is NOT an announcement). It has a diaper and wets if you give it water (which we don't). She also came with a thermometer, stethoscope, blanket, band-aids (which we also don't use!) and a medicine spoon.
Try as I might, I was unable to snap a good photo of her with the baby, but here are the ones I got. Oh, and she's definitely a fan of the doll's ponytail on top of it's head. It's in her mouth constantly. Shocker.
Sweet P digs pasta. She really likes it. Which is a good thing because we eat it a lot around here. I make quinoa pasta for her most of the time (brown rice pasta tends to fall apart) and she gobbles it up. So in an attempt to give her pasta some oopmh, I created this.
*Tempeh can be hard to find, but you can usually get it at Whole Foods or other health food stores. I've never seen it in a regular grocery store, but that doesn't mean they don't carry it.
1/4 c chopped tempeh
1/2 c quinoa fusilli pasta (it's colored!)
1 chopped mushroom
1 chopped carrot (previously steamed)
1 tbsp peas (fresh or frozen)
3 to 4 tsp (not tbsp) olive oil
1/2 stick of string cheese
dash garlic powder
Cook pasta as directed, the quinoa brand takes 6 to 9 minutes, drain and place in a bowl. Saute chopped tempeh in about 2 tsp of olive oil. Add extra oil if needed and add carrots, peas and mushrooms and saute until soft. Pour vegetables on to pasta, chop cheese into small pieces and mix in. Serve!
The bowl I used is an adult bowl and she ate it all! The bamboo spoon pictured (from Whole Foods) was wider than other spoons we have so it worked really well fitting the pasta on it. If you're interested in brands here is what I used:
Cascadian farms organic peas
Earthbound farm organic carrots
Organic Valley Stringles cheddar cheese
Ancient Harvest Quinoa organic pasta
Lifelight organic flax tempeh
Kirkland organic olive oil
Forest organic mushrooms (the actual brand, not out of our forest)
It's worth saying that Sweet P doesn't like raw tempeh, it has to be sauteed. Raw tempeh has a strange flavor so I'm not sure I'd want to eat it raw either. And if you're wondering why I didn't use our own carrots or peas, it's because we don't have any...yet!
You're not gonna believe this...but I made something healthy today! Tada!
I love (LOVE) Israeli cous cous. Something about it is so flippin' good. On our trip to Seattle, I bought some from the bulk section of Whole Foods (because everyone knows we don't have one, but we are getting a Trader Joe's) for Sweet P and brought it home. I was craving cold pasta salad yesterday, so out came the cous cous. Here is what we had.
Cous Cous Pasta Salad
1 cup dry Israeli cous cous
1/2 small onion
1 cup broccoli (fresh or frozen)
1 cup spinach (fresh or frozen)
10 black olives (chopped)
1 heaping tbsp garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp pesto (I use Classico)
2 mozzarella cheese sticks
Prepare cous cous in a rice cooker or in a pot on the stove. Bring 1.5 to 2 cups of water to a boil, add cous cous and cook 10 to 12 minutes until desired texture. Drain cous cous (there won't be a ton of water left), put in a large bowl and chill for 30 minutes. Saute garlic and onions in 2 tbsp olive oil. Add broccoli and spinach (our was fresh from the garden!). Remove from heat and add to chilled cous cous, mix in remaining olive oil and pesto. Chill for another 30 mins to an hour. When you are ready to eat, add olives and mozzarella.
So good. SO good. But I love cous cous so I may be biased. Israeli cous cous is more like pasta than a grain (like rice or quinoa) so it takes longer to prepare than traditional cous cous. This can be made a day ahead of time for a cold pasta or eaten right away if you want a warm pasta. To make it even healthier, eliminate the cheese and add less pesto and olive oil. But remember that good fats like olive oil are good for you!
I filed this under quick meals because the preparation is pretty quick. It's the waiting that's the long (and hard) part.
PS. Just so you know, I make healthy stuff every day, it just doesn't always make it into the blog.
Did you know that Minneapolis has a free zoo?! It's called Como Zoo and definitely better than a few of the non-free zoos I've been to. Uncle Ian went with us and Sweet P had a fabulous time! So if you're ever in Minneapolis, go! It's free! Really.
Sweet P is obsessed with birds so she was a wee bit excited when the first thing we saw were pink flamingos.
She may not have been as excited about the orangutans as I was, but she definitely liked the gorilla. As you can see:
And just for fun, here's a pic of our little family and one of Sweet P and Uncle Ian (her Godfather).
I haven't posted lately about what Sweet P's been eating, so I figured I was overdue. She's very into doing it herself so we struggle with spoon-feeding because she usually just raspberries everything back out (not fun and not clean). As hard as I try to ignore it, I usually either laugh or get frustrated and take whatever it is away. So I try to stick with finger foods. We can worry about the spoon later. Right now she's just interested in banging the spoon on the tray, instead of putting it in her mouth.
Sweet P's Daily Menu (Sample)
*All food listed is organic except for spices
1/2 cup plain yogurt with blueberries and a whole mashed banana, a tbsp ground flaxseed and a dash of cinnamon.
Organic Puffed Corn (found in the cereal aisle of health food stores)
A handful of grapes, 2 tbsp peas, 5 blueberry mini muffins
2 tbsp mashed potatoes mixed with 1 tbsp mashed turnips and 2 tbsp lentils, a whole small peach cut into small pieces with the skin removed.
A lot of days, we miss a snack because she naps around 11 or 12 and lunch ends up being late afternoon.
I also mentioned blueberry mini muffins for the kiddos in yesterday's post, but didn't post a recipe. Don't fret, it's here for you today.
Blueberry Mini Muffins
*makes about 18 mini muffins
1 cup ground organic oats (I use a coffee grinder, remember?)
1/2 cup organic oats
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp organic flaxseed
1/4 cup + 3 tbsp water
2 tbsp organic olive oil
1/2 cup organic plain yogurt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp agave nectar (optional)
Mix ingredients together and pour into muffin tins. Bake at 350˚ for 15-18 minutes.
I accidentally forgot baking powder today so I left it out of the recipe because they tasted good without it. Remember the flaxseed + 3 tbsp water is an egg substitute. If you want a wheat-free muffin, eliminate the flour. In case you forgot, I'm a nutbag about organic food for Sweet P (although apparently studies say it doesn't matter...I think their lying), so of course this can be made with non-organic ingredients.
I'm not a fan of store bought dressing. It never tastes right, has 124235 ingredients (half of which I've never heard of) and if you want the good stuff, costs a bundle. For a long time I just put olive oil and balsamic vinegar (or just bv) on my salads, but one night we had dinner with Sweet P's Godfather, Ian and a friend of the Farmer's brought a fabulous salad with even better dressing. When we got home I waited patiently for that recipe and here it is...or a version of it anyway.
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
dash of the following:
Chefmate Kick'n Chick'n (i love this stuff)
Whisk together in a small bowl until well combined, then dump on your salad just before you serve (don't do it before or it'll be soggy...and who likes soggy salad? bleh.). It's so good you'll wonder why you ever bought store bought.
Feel free to dash in whatever spices sound good to you. Once we harvest and dry out our herbs, rosemary and basil will be added to the mix.
And don't salads in the summer just taste so much better?
Scones, oh, scones. Why didn't we meet sooner? Auntie M (Sweet P's Godmother) visited in October of 2008 (Sweet P was a wee little peanut in my belly) and made us fabulous lavender scones and lavender honey butter. This was our first introduction to scones. The Farmer ate so many he made himself sick.
We've since had scones only 2 more times, why!$@? What is wrong with me? Why would I not make these things more often? I have no answer for that, but I did realize today as I was pondering blueberry muffins as the snack for our playdate that scones would be WAY better and just as easy (I made mini blueberry muffins for the kiddos). And to be honest, I didn't even try to make these healthy. You shouldn't mess with scones.
4 cups all purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 tbsp sugar
1 stick + 2 tbsp cold butter cut into chunks (unsalted, this is important)
3/4 c soy milk
1 c fresh or frozen blueberries
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until the mixture looks crumby (not crummy). Whisk the eggs and milk in a small bowl and add to dry ingredients until moistened. Turn dough (it will be messy) onto a floured surface and knead in blueberries (again, a bit of a mess). Pull the dough in half and form 2 balls. Pat into a thick circle, then cut into 8 wedges with a pizza cutter. Place on greased baking sheets and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375˚ for 18-20 minutes.
Most scone recipes call for salt, but I rarely put salt in baking recipes. You can't taste it and it's silly to me (why are using unsalted butter then, hmm?). And trust me, unsalted butter makes a HUGE difference. You can use regular milk instead of soy milk (that was my only worry, but it worked just fine). Scones will be flaky, that's normal. So whip up a batch, guarantee you won't be disappointed.
Let's just go ahead and call this month what it is. Unhealthy. Or Savory. Or filled with scrumptious things that are otherwise known as treats.
But don't stop reading if you want healthy recipes. I'll get back on track one of these days!
Never in my life did I think I'd be telling someone to eat turnips. Even now thinking of them makes me cringe a little. And I thought they were good!
We planted turnips this year and harvested a few last weekend. I wasn't sure what we were going to do with them, but the Farmer chopped them up and made mashed turnips (they look just like mashed potatoes). So here's the scoop on how to make them.
Bonus: Sweet P liked them, too! Not at first, but I left a little on her tray and she slowly gobbled it up. She then ate a small bowl full of them.
Mashed Turnips--serves about 4
3-4 large turnips
1 tbsp butter
1-2 tsp salt (or garlic salt)
Cut the tops and ends off the turnips, then chop into large chunks (similar to what you would do to boil a potato). Boil turnips until soft (poke them with a fork to check). Mash them in a large bowl (again, like you would potatoes), add butter and salt. Serve!
Easy? I say, yes. Choose small turnips, the larger they are--the more bitter they are. And because this post was an afterthought (I was convinced I wouldn't like them), there is of course no picture. But trust me, in a sight test--you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between mashed turnips and mashed potatoes.
The Farmer came upon this article today in Relevant Magazine online.
I can honestly say that the Farmer and I enjoy our jobs. We have time to spend with one another and our family. The opportunity to travel and enjoy our hobbies is at our fingertips. Sure, a simple life seems easy enough, but it's not always that simple.
When the Farmer and I first got married, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we wouldn't be able to buy whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. Sound juvenile? It probably was. I spent a lot of time coveting what others had and wishing we had more money (sound familiar?). Until one day I realized that a simple life with simple things is much easier than an overwhelming life with overwhelming things. And that God didn't care if I had new clothes, a new car or a big house. I wanted to be able to stay home with Sweet P and that meant sacrificing things. On our first wedding anniversary on our way to dinner (while Auntie Rosita babysat 6-week old Sweet P who wouldn't take a bottle), I said this:
"I can work and give Sweet P whatever she wants or I can stay home and give her me."
Not a day goes by that I wish I was still working. Being Sweet P's mom is the best (and rarely simple) job there is. We try each day to make our life simpler, from getting rid of clutter or things we don't need to resisting a purchase just because we "want" it.
When I was in high school, my bff and I used to write notes back and forth to each other (BIG notes, like full notebook notes). Anyway, there was a section in them called "Would you ever? I would never" about off the wall things you would never do. Turns out that "I would nevers" pop up on a daily basis with a child in tow. And as soon as "I would never" comes out of your mouth, BOOM! It happens to you.
Would you ever?
Pull everything out of the shower so you could clean it (including your razor) and put it on the floor with your child in the room?
I would never. But I did.
Yesterday. And I turned around to find Sweet P with the top of my razor (yep, all 3 blades) in her MOUTH!@$?@#$^ Seriously. I about had a heart attack on the spot. I think I just yelped and took it from her and then made her say, AHHHH to see the damage. None. Phew (eyebrow wipe).
Would you ever?
Take your child on a run with your husband and convince yourself that it wasn't going to rain even though the clouds were saying, "Yes it is."
I would never. But we did.
This morning. 10 minutes into our run, the gloomy clouds passed over us. We thought we were home free until the sky opened up and dumped BUCKETS of water on us. I haven't run as fast as we did in a long time. We were about a block from home (a guy even stopped to ask if we needed a ride). Needless to say, we were drenched. But Sweet P had a grand ole time in the rain. Our clothes are still drying out.
So as healthy as we try to be, every once in awhile we indulge in something rich and fabulous. In this case, it was a cake for Auntie Rosita's birthday.
Auntie Rosita had an 80's party for her birthday and while trying to decide whether to buy a few boxes of hostess cupcakes I said to her, "Why don't you just make a cake that looks like a hostess cupcake?" At this point she didn't know I was coming, so when I showed up I decided I'd make the cake. And it was definitely better than store bought, process cupcakes (although I did use a boxed cake mix).
It looked fabulous. It tasted fabulous. And it was easy as pie, err cake.
Hostess Cupcake Cake
What you need:
1 box devil's food cake mix (or other chocolate cake)
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup oil
2 tbsp mayonnaise (to make it moist)
1-2 cups whipped topping
a plastic baggie
Make the cake as directed on the box, substituting mayo for about 2 tbsp oil. Put in two round cake pans and bake for 24-29 minutes (directions on box) at 350˚.
Allow cake to cool completely.
Use a circle shaped cookie cutter or container to cut a whole in the middle of both cakes. Hollow out the cake where the hole is, be careful not to cut all the way through the cake.
Fill the holes of both cakes with whipped topping and place one cake on top of the other with the holes facing in, this creates the cream filled middle of the cupcake.
Frost the cake using chocolate frosting (again, I used store bought for sake of time, but feel free to make your own).
Fill a small baggie with about a tsp of whipped topping. Cut a hole in the tip and gently draw a loopy, squiggly line (resembling the one on top of a Hostess cupcake) on top of the cake.
Put the cake in the fridge and let it cool. This will help the frosting to harden, making it more like the frosting on the cupcakes. Cut in pie shape pieces to enjoy the middle!
I've been keeping a secret for 2 months and I'm so excited to now be able to talk about it! (and no, I'm not pregnant)
We haven't been to Seattle since Sweet P was born and Auntie Rosita has been wishing us there for months now. So, on Wednesday Sweet P and I showed up on Auntie Rosita's doorstep as her birthday present. It was a complete surprise for her and her face was priceless! Uncle Will (U-dub) and Auntie's friend, Carrie helped us pull it off and trust me...it was really tough. Auntie Rosita is super nosey (and observant) and reeeeeeally hard to surprise. But we did it!
Auntie is a big scaredy cat so when I knocked on the door at 11pm, she flipped her lid telling U-dub not to answer the door. After 3 knocks and an "I'm answering the door" from U-dub, he cracked the door and said "Hey." He told Auntie Rosita, "You might know them." And opened the door.
She was standing in the middle of the entry way and just stared at me for a second. Then she started jumping up and down, screaming "Shut up! Shut up! What are you doing here?!%!#^@" Then when I told her Sweet P was in the car, she pushed past me and ran out to sweep sleeping Sweet P out of the car. Needless to say, she was super duper surprised.
So here we are in Seattle having a ball with Auntie Rosita. And in Auntie's words, "Best.Present.Ever."
While Auntie K was here she bought Sweet P a cow who when you squeeze it's belly, moos. To you and me and everyone else who's heard a cow, it sounds like Moooooooo. To Sweet P, it sounds like BAAAAA.
Sweet P is really great at animal sounds. It all started with kitty and meow "ow" after being at my mom's house with Pierre for a few days. Puppy soon followed "oof, oof" and then for some reason I can't remember we taught her tiger. Tiger is by far her favorite. I don't know if it's because she gets to roar really loud or because she likes it, but "roaaaaaaar" she does.
We taught her "moo" for cow and "ba-a" for sheep. While Auntie K was here she taught her chicken "ba ba." But somewhere between sheep and cow and a cow who sounds like a sheep (according to her), cow and sheep now make the same noise. After a few "cow says MOOOO"'s she'll start saying moo, but the poor thing is pretty confused about why her stuffed cow is saying "baaa."
I ask her what they say all the time because it is so dang cute. And tiger might be her favorite, but I gotta be honest. It's my fav, too.
We have a CD that has Barenaked Ladies singing a song about L-words. The word LOVE isn't in it. It should be.
I LOVE Sweet P with all of my being. Every inch of her from her chubby tummy to her chubby little toes. But there are some things she does that I love so much that I just want to squeeze her and never let go when they happen.
*when I walk upstairs to her room in the morning and instead of crying she has a big smile on her face
*when she splashes so much in the bath, water goes everywhere and surprises her
*when she snuggles on my shoulder (oh, swoon)
*the way her hands always smell like graham crackers (even though she's never had one)
*when we fall asleep together
*when she says MAMA! and she's looking right at me
*when I show her a banana and she flaps her arms up and down saying "nanananana" (no food gets a response like a banana)