Summer Shenanigans

We’ve been up to our old tricks again – doing summery things and eating lots of food. It’s how we do.

The week after my 30th birthday, earlier this month, my sweet friends took me to dinner at one of our favorite places. We got all fancy.

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I wore my “birthday cake” shoes that I got for my birthday a few years back (they are just so fun and the colors that I’d want on a birthday cake). I wore a dress that I found at Goodwill, and my necklace was a gift from a friend. I love getting fancy.

For apps, we shared the Mezze Platter (muhammarra, edamame hummus, goat-cheese stuffed peppadews, fried feta, marinated artichoke hearts, sundried tomato, and grilled pita).

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I cannot get enough of the goat-cheese stuffed peppadews.

For dinner, I ordered the Vegetarian Plate and shared with a friend, and she shared her Moroccan Lemon Chicken.

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And then they sang to me over flourless chocolate cake and ice cream.

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They sure knew how to make a girl feel special. ❤

The next day during naptime, I enjoyed one of my birthday presents with some trashy mags.

It was a good time.

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We celebrated my wonderful Husband on Father’s Day. I made him turkey burgers.

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His request. 🙂

On the next Saturday, I took my boys on a date while my Husband had to work. My Bigs was SO excited to go on a date, knowing it’s something that Mommy & Daddy do, and something that Mommy does with her girlfriends. He was beside himself. I took them to Panera.

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I haven’t had it in forever. I got the Thai chicken salad and wild rice soup. I got grilled cheese and yogurt (quite heavy on the dairy, I am now realizing lol!). The boys were fairly well behaved. We went to Old Navy afterwards for 50% off jorts and $0.25 bouncy balls. The bouncy balls made the boys’ night!

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I’d call it a successful date night. 😀

During the week, we went to a park playdate for a little friend’s 2nd birthday. It was so very hot out, but we had a great time.

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And lastly, I made some reeeeallly delicious pancakes for dinner last Friday. I used a GF mix that I picked up on clearance at Target. I made it DF and added fresh blueberries.

I served it with turkey bacon.

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I even tried one of those Pinterest ideas where you put pancake batter on the bacon. I wouldn’t say it turned out like it does on Pinterest. 🙂

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I still ate it.

All caught up! Have a great weekend!

Blessings, Kristin

 

Sticky Black Rice Pudding

I have a TON of cookbooks. I’d like to think that I collect them. I’m sure a lot of my foodie friends out there can relate. I could just sit for hours, thumbing through my cookbooks, gazing upon those glossy pages, my eyes skimming the ingredients, my mouth watering over the perfectly styled pictures. I know that the internet provides a quicker, easier way to look up recipes…but to me? There’s nothing like holding a cookbook in my hand, flour dusting the pages, the smell of a real book (I’m also a real-book-reader, as opposed to giving into a digital reader…is that even what it’s called?).

A week or so ago, I was reading my Vegetarian Cooking: A Commonsense Guide and found a recipe for which I had all the ingredients.

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Sticky Black Rice Pudding

2 C black rice

3 pandan leaves (I left this out)

2 C coconut milk

2/3 C soft brown sugar

1/4 C caster sugar

coconut cream, to serve

diced mango or papaya, to serve (I used mango)

Put the rice in a large non-metallic bowl and cover with water. Let it soak overnight (or a minimum of 8 hours). Drain the rice and place in a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cook on a low boil, stirring, for 20 minutes. Drain.

*I skipped this step* Pull your fingers through the pandan leaves to shred them. Tie them in a  knot.

Pour the coconut milk into a large saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Add the pandan leaves and the sugars and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes (no boiling). Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove the pandan. Spoon into bowls, and serve warm with coconut cream and mango.

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Mine came out exactly like the picture in the cookbook and tasted DIVINE. I halved the recipe and it still made a ton. My Smalls loved it. ❤

Enjoy!

Kristin

PS – More bloggy blog posts to come!

 

Beach & Birthday & Bunches of Other Stuff

I said I was going to be better at blogging, didn’t I? Well, I had every intention, but boy, has summer life given me other plans. We’ve been so busy with fun things! We’ve gone to the beach, we’ve eaten good food, I had a “big” birthday, where I was thrust into a different decade. Yes, it’s been busy!

I’m going to start with two weeks ago. My mind works best in chronological order.

I went on my monthly girls’ night dinner to a sushi place. My friends and I love getting gussied up.

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I got that dress at Goodwill, as I often do. I love finding gems at Goodwill.

I ordered the Cucumber Roll and the Avocado Roll. They were pretty good.

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The next day, Friday, we went on our usual Friday Playdate. We went to an indoor children’s playing place. That’s the official name.

The boys painted (Smalls stepped in red paint, naturally), played dress up (they had costumes for girls and boys!), and went in the sandbox.

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I had packed lunches for the boys…

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…and in my hurry to get out of the house, I forgot the top piece of bread on Bigs’ PB&J! Ooops!

That night, I made a turkey dinner! I know the picture looks like it was edible, but trust me, it almost was not. I roasted it, to the tee by how much it weighed, and it came out dry. As a bone. Also, I left some of the innards inside. Ooops. They got grody in the roasting process.

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Thank goodness for side dishes. 🙂

On Saturday night, my wonderful in-laws took us out to dinner to have an early birthday meal since they wouldn’t be in town on my actual day.

I had a beet and goat cheese salad:

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It was incredible.

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I ordered the chicken off the “lighter” menu to aid in my diet journey. It had chicken, asparagus, artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, capers, garlic, and balsamic. Delicious.

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For dessert, I picked the s’mores cheesecake! YUMMY! See? That’s why I ordered from the “lighter” menu.

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After our dinner, we walked around the plaza and played with the giant-sized checkers. The boys had so much fun! They must have felt like they were in Honey I Shrunk the Kids!!

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Smalls promptly stood on a black checker and pooped in his pants. It was the entertainment for a lot of people walking by. What can you do!

Checker pooping included, it was a perfect night!

On Monday, we visited with my parents. We helped my Mom prune her garden. She let the boys pick beans and tomatoes.

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Then, we ate lunch and made and ate dessert – Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie Bars!

Yes, that’s right. And they were as delicious as they sound!

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I can’t even. The glazed fresh strawberries on top of the cool, creamy pie remind me of the strawberry pies my Mom would make when I was growing up (where I would lick the hot glaze off the wooden spoon, burning my mouth but not caring), in the same kitchen where we made this dessert!

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Try the recipe. Yesterday.

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2014/04/07/strawberry-coconut-cream-pie-bars/

The next day, I took the boys to the beach with three of my girlfriends and their wonderful children. It was overcast (yet we still got burned, even after applying sunscreen once an hour!), and a beautiful day. It was our first beach trip of the season!

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The boys wasted no time playing in the sand. Smalls did struggle, however, with the incoming waves and the constant sand on his hands and feet. He’s a little finicky. 🙂  He felt a little better when I put Bigs’ water shoes on him.

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He loved pulling around this little cart.

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There is something about the salty, fresh air and the sound of the waves that puts my soul at ease.

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A woman, near where we set up ‘camp’ (and believe you me, it looked like a campsite, with all of the stuff we brought), helped Bigs catch a little fish. He was so proud of that little fish. He carried around as long as he could until the bucket overturned in a wave and the little fish rejoiced in its freedom.

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Whenever I am at the beach, it gives me a chance to reflect on God’s great gifts to us on this Earth.

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My little Smalls enjoyed spending his beach time close to me, as the older kids splashed, boogie-boarded, built sand castles, dug holes, and played.

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Sweet friends

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We ate our picnic lunches and Smalls clutched his food for so long, they were covered in sand (SANDwich, watermelon, carrots – all covered!).

It was a great day!

On Wednesday, we were busy, once again, but I was able to find time to make some donuts (isn’t there always time??).

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We were going on a playdate the next day and I couldn’t show up empty-handed!

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I’ve used this short-cut recipe before and loved it.

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I also tried my hand at donut holes. I think I need more practice (if you know what I mean, wink wink!).

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I think my friend liked them! She’s got a sweet tooth, just like me! 🙂

Here’s the recipe:

http://www.confessionsofacookbookqueen.com/2012/04/mini-devils-food-donuts/

The next afternoon, I made Mushroom Piccata (I didn’t follow a recipe, I just made them as I would make Chicken Piccata) and a corn and bean salad for lunch. My Smalls was obsessed with both!

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For the corn and bean salad, I used one can of corn, one can of beans, one avocado, tomatoes, S&P, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

And when the boys went to bed, I ate a little cake that I’d made the day before with leftover donut batter. I used a little bit of malted chocolate frosting that my Mom had made. It was just the right size and the perfect nap-time treat.

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Nap time was also a treat.

For my last dinner in my 20’s, I made a taco bar. It was good! The kids enjoyed it too. They didn’t even mind that I burned the hard taco shells.

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I made a taco salad for myself.

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And, then last Friday was my 30th birthday. Eeek! I am now in a different decade! It’s so weird. I immediately felt older. Anyways, we started the day with pancakes (GF, DF). I jazzed up the plates a little bit. You need sprinkles on your birthday always, even if it’s your 30th.

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My husband took off work. He’s so wonderful. He always takes off work on my birthday. He took me (and the boys) shoe shopping after breakfast. And then we went to Chili’s for lunch.

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My Hubs and I had some kind of pineapple-y adult beverage.

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I got the Honey Chipotle Chicken. When I was pregnant with Smalls, I ate this and got horribly sick. Not from eating it, but from being pregnant. And usually when that happens, one doesn’t again eat the food that made them sick. But I like this meal so much, I keep eating it. TMI? Whatever.

For dessert, we ordered the Cinnamon Lava Cake with our free birthday dessert coupon. It turns out, the staff will sing to you even if you turn 30. I ate my cake with pink, embarrassed cheeks.

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After naps, we went in search of free donuts. It was National Donut Day. How fitting that my birthday fell on this day. It’s like the universe knew.

When the kids were in bed, my husband surprised me with a little pineapple coconut cupcake to eat without pecking children around.

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It was a wonderful 30th birthday. I don’t think I would have changed a thing.

My Hubs and I went out on an adult celebratory birthday dinner the next night. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant we used to frequent. But before we went, my Mom brought some Peach Cupcakes over to celebrate! They were great!

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At our Viet restaurant, I ordered a bubble tea, in green tea flavor, with boba.

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I am obsessed with these things.

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It was divine. I’m going with taro next time.

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I was a happy Birthday Girl.

We ordered the Summer Roll Sampler.

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And we each ordered the Chicken Pho.

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We went to a bookstore for coffee afterwards. Just like we used to do before kids. Viet and the bookstore. Computer mags for Hubs, rag mags for me. It was so nice to get some alone with my Husband and do some of the things we used to do.

On Sunday, we went to church and later on, I made a yummy dinner. I made macaroni and cheese from scratch and paired it with a rotisserie chicken and fruit.

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Happy bellies.

And here are my gratuitous salad pictures (of salads I’ve made and eaten) to keep me motivated on healthy eating and jogging, at least enough to keep the cake calories off, which I realize is a lot due to the amount of cake I’ve eaten lately.

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Whew. We are all caught up! I hope you all are doing well, and like always, I hope I can stick with posting, even through our busy summer days.

Blessings!

Kristin

BBQ Picnic Salad & Sensory Play

Today has been a busy day. It isn’t even nearly over. I guess the days seem long because my boys get up so early. I am always pooped by lunch time.

After the boys woke up, we made Banana Kale Smoothies. Or “smoozees”, as they call them. Bigs helped me.

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Banana Kale Smoozees:

Serves 3

3 bananas, peeled, chopped, frozen

1 C washed, raw kale

1/2 C coconut milk

1/2 C vanilla yogurt

Place in food processor.

After our smoozees, we went for now our-usual jog early this morning. So far (crossing my fingers), the boys haven’t tried to escape their jogger seats yet, and they’ve been pretty good. I’ve only had to stop and get on their case for brotherly-arguing about three times since I’ve started jogging consistently.

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Today they were squealing with delight and throwing up their hands. I know I’m not jogging fast enough for them to feel like they are on a roller coaster!

When we got home, I set up a little sensory playtime for them. I’d remembered that one of Bigs’ favorite activities in school was  playing with shaving cream. So, the last time I was at the Dollar Store, I bought a few cans. Today I set them out with some Tupperware and whisks.

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Bigs loved it, obvi. Smalls did not. I thought he would, but I should have guessed. Despite being so wild and cray cray, he does not like messes on his hands and body, with the exception of food on his face. That, he never seems to mind or notice. Oh well. Scaling the walls, climbing on table tops, eating out of the trashcan, and running amok will have to suffice for Smalls entertainment. I think he’ll be okay.

Whenever I make lunch for the boys, I end up feeling like a piece of meat, with vultures surrounding me, pecking, and ravishing my personal space. I cannot keep them from getting all up in my face while preparing their meals. Today, I gave them a few pieces of frozen corn to much on while waiting. I did not expect it to turn into their favorite snack ever. They both loved it and ended up eating around a 1/2 cup each.

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What a fun discovery for me! I hope they’ll continue eating it. I think it makes for an almost refreshing, and certainly healthy, “treat” (usually I serve corn warm for them).

I made another salad for myself. It was divine. It was a BBQ Picnic Salad.

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I used romaine lettuce, carrots, red/yellow/orange bell pepper, frozen corn and peas, yellow tomatoes, shredded chicken from last night’s dinner (roasted chicken), shredded cheddar, and a pickled tri-bean salad. For the dressing, I put BBQ sauce, olive oil, S&P, mustard, and ACV in a mason jar and shook the dickens out of it. Yum yum. And very filling.

Blessings,

Kristin

Dino-Riffic!

This week has been Dinosaur Week at school for Bigs! I couldn’t hand pick a more fun topic for my son. He adores dinosaurs. His room is decorated in a dinosaur theme. He even just told me, “I love dinosaurs.”. So there, you heard it here. Basically from him. Anyways, with dinosaur lessons comes dinosaur themed lunches. And dinosaur shirts that Bigs wore. Obviously. I cannot help myself.

Here is Tuesday’s lunch:

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It was a green brontosaurus-shaped PB&J, corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit, and two little Perkin’s sugar cookies (leftover from Mother’s Day).

And today, Thursday, I will have my last opportunity of the school year to work as a Helper Parent in Bigs’ classroom. I will miss his classmates, whom I have really gotten to know (and their families, as well). They are all so special and so very sweet. I will also miss his teacher. She has been just wonderful. She’s taught our Bigs so many things and as his first-ever teacher, she will always hold a very special place in our family’s hearts. So it was a fun, but bittersweet day.

I packed another dinosaur-themed lunch for Bigs.

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I made three little dino-shaped PB&Js, packed seasoned corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit, and one golden Oreo, opened, with little dinosaur-shaped sprinkles on top. The bag on the left is a dinosaur bag (I have been finding packs of these at Christmas Tree Shop for a while now – so cute!) with Bigs’ snack – carrots with peanut butter, and raisins.

And I packed my lunch, as well:

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Cucumbers with S&P, carrots, three hard boiled eggs with S&P, an apple, and a beautiful, ripe peach. Yum!

Bigs will be in another dinosaur shirt and because I don’t have one of those, I will rock my dino earrings. Which I love. Which I have an assorted 8-pack of. Don’t judge.

And because it will be the last time I’ll be in the classroom this school year, I made Bigs’ teacher, some of the office gals, and the security dude (official term) some muffins.

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Whole Wheat Cranberry Orange Muffins. Healthy, but good!

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I hope they will enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed all of THEM this year (which is a lot!).

Here’s the recipe:

http://thedapperlass.blogspot.com/2012/10/healthy-cranberry-orange-muffins.html

Hope you have a dino-tastic day!

Kristin

Roar!

 

Berries and Army Men

Well, Spring Break has come to a close. It was a nice break. On Friday, we went to our usual Friday playgroup and we celebrated one little friend’s first birthday! It was so cute! It is SO fun to see these little babies grow up. We were at the park, so the kids had a great time. It was a sunny, clear (warm!) day – the sort that makes more freckles appear on Bigs’ nose and makes him and Smalls’ cheeks turn pink!

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The park was a new one to us and really great! There were lots of mini-playgrounds to explore.

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As per the usual, Smalls followed Bigs around, trying to do all the big boy things bigger boys do.

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Bigs loves going down fireman slides. He’s so good at it. He calls himself “Fireman ‘Bigs'”, when sliding down!

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The boys had so much fun!

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And the birthday boy did too! He smooshed cake all over his sweet little face. It was a fun day!

When we got home, my wonderful neighbor brought me a Jewish pastry called a hamentashen. It was a prune flavored one and it was just delicious.

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The pastry was light and buttery, the prune filling was subtle and sweet. It was my first hamentashen and I’d been wanting to try one for a while. So thoughtful of my neighbor!

We rounded out our day with a fun dinner at Cracker Barrel with my parents-in-law (I took a picture of my dinner, under the watchful, slightly judgey eye of my sitting-too-close-dining neighbor-that-I-didn’t-know, but it didn’t look as good as it tasted). After dinner, we rocked on their famous rocking chairs for a while and relaxed. It was a great Friday.

We didn’t have pancakes on Saturday morning (!!!), but I DID make muffins! I needed to use up more of the spinach from St. Patty’s Day (when I made spinach pancakes).

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I doubled the recipe since I had a ton of spinach and it only made 12 muffins (I like to freeze them for future eating). They were spinach banana muffins. They came out SO good!

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I was taking pictures of them as they were cooling and Smalls couldn’t resist trying to sneak one. I love those little sneaky baby hands!

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These muffins came out just right – the perfect, tender, chewy crumb, a heavy banana taste, loads of cinnamon.

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You couldn’t taste the spinach at all, and I used about 3 or so cups!

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In our house, when I make spinach muffins, we call them “Army Men Muffins” because they come out almost the same color as Bigs and Smalls’ army men.

Here is the recipe for our Army Men Muffins:

http://thegreenforks.com/popeye-muffins/

We took the boys to Home Depot after breakfast to get some plants. There happened to be a popcorn cart there, at which the boys got some free little bags to munch on.

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Smalls

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Bigs

I shouldn’t even admit this, but I sort of love going to Home Depot. The lumber smell that hits you right as you walk in is such a wonderful smell, especially mixed with the hot doggy smells from the hot dog cart by the entrance. They sort of go together – hot dogs and lumber. Anyways, I love going through the garden section. It’s always like a little e-venture (as Bigs call it).

Bigs likes to try out the riding mowers.

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He’s so neat.

We got a blackberry plant, a blueberry plant, and some other stuff that I have no idea about. When we got home, we (they) transferred them to their new pots.

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Bigs is at such a wonderful age (turning 4 in about a month and a half), where he loves to help and is actually good at it.

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He put together his own little plant. He called it his “merry-go-round” plant because he couldn’t remember that it was a marigold.

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He dropped in the seeds and watered it all by himself.

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We can’t wait to see it grow!

Smalls played in the yard while Bigs planted.

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He likes going up to the fence separating our yard from the neighbors’ and barking at it, in hopes that their dogs will come to see him.

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Our sweet little girl keeping a watchful eye on the new plants

After planting and naps, the big boys (Husband and Bigs) grilled some burgers while Smalls kept me company in the kitchen. We had macaroni and cheese (GF, DF version for Husby). I also sautéed some green and wax beans with some carrots.

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It was a good Saturday.

Today, Sunday, was a great day too! Church was great. We are learning about the book of John right now. Today we talked about how even when we don’t know ourselves and when we question who we are (which I have many times), God always knows who we are and who He has made us to be. It gave me such a sense of peace that I don’t even need to always know who I am. It just doesn’t even matter. God knows.

And in Bigs’ Sunday School class, they learned about Jesus washing feet.

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They got a little kit of soap and a teeny towel. I couldn’t even get a picture of it all together since Bigs was so excited. He couldn’t wait to get home and wash the feet of the most willing participant (I won). He said it’s how Jesus showed His love and so he wanted to do that too.

I am blown away at the Biblical knowledge Bigs is learning and how his love for Jesus is showing. ❤

With our leftover hamburger dinner, I made the most yummy fruit salad. A refreshing way to end our Spring Break.

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It’s summer fruit season already and I am so excited! I never used to look forward to Summer (so hot, not an outdoorsy kind of gal), but my boys just make it so much fun and we have so much to look forward to. God is good!

I hope you all have had a blessed Spring Break (or week, if you weren’t so lucky).

Happy Sunday,

Kristin

Spring has Sprung!

It’s still Spring Break here and we’ve been staying quite busy! The weather has been gorgeous (save for one day where it seemed like we were in a hurricane) – clear skies, white fluffy clouds some days, picture-perfect blue backdrops everyday, chilly mornings that burn off to warm, sunny, lovely spring days.

Spring Break actually started last week, after Bigs got out of school. We had breakfast for dinner that night. I made a baked oatmeal casserole.

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I based my recipe loosely on this one:

http://www.aaronandyolanda.com/2013/07/baked-oatmeal-casserole.html

Instead of two cups of milk, I did one cup of coconut milk and a cup of pumpkin puree. I only added a few chocolate chips. I also didn’t add nuts or fruit of any kind. So it’s basically nothing like that recipe. And it of course didn’t turn out like that recipe (what did I expect!).

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It was alright. The oats didn’t get soaked with the pumpkin custard like I thought they would, so there was a separation of sorts. Next time, maybe I’ll have all the right ingredients and I can make it the right way. 🙂

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I served it with scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and sausages. It did the trick (if trick = filling our tummies).

The next day was GORGEOUS! We went to a park play date.

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Smalls was able to keep up with the big kids this time.

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And Big Brother took the time to play with him.

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I love to see them playing nicely together. 🙂

I gave Smalls a wee little apple and he carried that thing around while playing. He dropped it and still clutched it tightly. This is what I found him holding later on.

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The next day was Pancake Saturday – not to ever be missed in our house! It should be renamed Pancake and Breakfast Meat Saturdays.

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By this time, I’d run out of eggs (running out of ingredients is a key theme in my life, apparently). I substituted applesauce for the missing eggs. The result was an incredibly creamy, custard-like inside. I also added loads of vanilla and vanilla bean paste, and some caramel extract that I found at Wally-World (Walmart). I thought they were just delicious.

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They came out fluffy and golden. So good. Seriously. I might be using the applesauce trick again. I also might HAVE to, as I never seem to have everything I need.

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Oh, pancakes.

After breaky, we went to a local Farmer’s Market/Petting Farm. It’s newly opened and we’ve been wanting to try it out.

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Bigs insisted (and I am not using that term lightly) on wearing his overalls and boots.

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Kind of adorable though.

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We saw all kinds of farm animals. Bigs went up to the chicken coop and squatted down and said to them, “Hey Chickens! Why did you cross the road?!” My husband and I were beside ourselves with laughter!

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From there, we went to the food trucks and market side. We ate an okay lunch of hot dogs.

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And followed that up with a huge cup of the most refreshing, gorgeous, delicious fruit ever. I think it tasted even more delicious after that greasy, fried lunch.

We also ran into two different families we know! It was a great day.

When we got home, there was still some time before nap, so the boys did their “yard work”.

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They earn their keep, I tell you.

On Sunday night, some of our best friends, who have moved far away, came back because of work and we got to visit. We went on a date night with several of our couple friends. It was just wonderful seeing them. It is terribly sad when one of your best friends moves away, but it makes you treasure the time you have with them, when you see them again.

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My husband ordered the best red wine I’ve ever had – Jam Jar! SO GOOD! I will have to get that one next time. I’m not much of a red wine drinker, unless it’s sweet, which Jam Jar was.

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We had a minted edamame hummus and roasted red pepper hummus with lavosh crackers, as an appetizer. We also tasted our friends’ pesto chicken flat bread.

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After we toasted to our wonderful friendships…

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…we dug into our meals. My husband ordered the scallops (did not get a good picture) and they were divine. I ordered the winter vegetarian sampling.

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This plate changes seasonally. I love it. This time, there was a stuffed mushroom, some roasted beets, broccolini, asparagus, and peppers, along with a veggie stuffed taco, and some tofu with mango chutney.

This restaurant is famous for its small desserts. I can’t ever choose one.

Oink.

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I chose the chocolate peanut butter mousse (um, SO good) and the cannoli (cannoli cream, chocolate chips, raspberry sauce, cannoli shell).

I can’t even.

I am still dreaming about that cannoli cream. Is that weird? To dream about cannoli cream?

The next day was St. Patrick’s Day! I always go big on these smaller holidays. I love a theme! I think you know that by now.

Before everyone (else) woke up, I put together the Irish Stew in the crock pot.

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I sort of changed around the recipe. I used this recipe as a base:

http://everydaymomsmeals.blogspot.com/2013/02/its-not-soup-its-stew.html

I did not add onion soup mix (due to the non gluten and dairy-free and high sodium nature), so I added real onions. I only used one can of tomato soup and added a can of no-salt stewed tomatoes. I also added more of the same vegetables. I let that sit on low all day while we were busy doing other things.

For breakfast, I made Spinach Pancakes (yep – the third time in five days that I served my family pancakes – that’s how I roll). This was a great recipe.

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They were chock full of fresh spinach (two cups!). Bigs said that they tasted like green beans, but he kept eating them, so that’s a good sign.

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When drizzled with syrup and some butter, the very obvious spinach flavor was sort of pushed to the back (a plus for most kids).

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I added more vanilla than called for. I served them with corned beef hash.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.superhealthykids.com/blog-posts/no-dye-green-pancakes.php

My best friend since kindergarten was up visiting from where she lives and brought her little girl (who is only 2 months older than Smalls). I LOVE seeing my best friend. I miss her dearly. I feel so blessed to see two of my loveliest friends, who no longer live near me, all in the same week!

For an after lunch St. Patty’s Day treat, I made Leprechaun Pudding for the kids!

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I just mixed half a packet of sugar-free, fat-free white chocolate pudding mix into some vanilla yogurt and added some green coloring. I layered that with some Lucky Charms cereal. I think they liked it.

Earlier in the morning, I’d also made a birthday treat for my bestie. I asked her what she wanted and it was so simple and I love her for that. All she wanted was a boxed mix peanut butter brownie with a ganache on top. How easy!

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I sent that home with her. She let me try it and take pictures of it before she left though. THAT’S a best friend!

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It was good. I used coconut milk for the ganache.

While my boys were napping, I prepared our Irish dessert – Banoffee Pie! I totally used shortcuts. I made a quick crust from graham cracker crumbs and butter. I “baked” it in the toaster oven. I sliced a banana on top of that, melted and poured some dulce de leche that I bought from Costco, and sliced another banana on top. I then whipped a half pint of whipping cream and spread that on top.

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I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. It was SO good.

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I loved that the dulce de leche was the only sweet part of it. I added no sugar to the graham crust or whipped cream. It was a nice contrast.

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It was a dream of a pie – crunchy, buttery and rich, sweet creamy bananas, indulgent, deep caramel, fluffy, milky topping. Seriously, the stuff (my) dreams are made of.

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Just…yum. It was even better the next day.

And the Irish Stew came out SO SO good!

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The stew beef was so tender, as were the potatoes.

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The broth was rich and tomato-y.

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We ate it for two days. It was great.

I’d call that a successful food holiday!

I got a chance to see my other friend (who we’d seen on Sunday) again before she went back up North. We met, with some other friends, at a neat farm-to-table restaurant.

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We started off with fresh, crusty bread and butter (the only way to “start” anything).

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My friend got a Blue Moon and I had some. I love that beer – so refreshing!

My other friend and I went halfsies on the burger. It wasn’t just any old burger. It had bacon jam, pimento cheese, spicy/sweet pickles, bibb lettuce, and a fried green tomato.

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One of the best burgers I’ve had!

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It was served with wedged potato fries topped with shaved white truffles. Earthy, salty goodness.

Aca-yeah!

Yet another friend and I shared the chocolate cake! We call each other “cakesters”…we just live for cake, what can I say!

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It was delicious. And a wonderful night with wonderful friends.

I got to see my kindergarten bestie again the next day! I took her to my favorite donut shop.

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She hadn’t been there before. She is now a convert.

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I got my now usuals – a sprinkle for Bigs, some holes for Smalls (one of which was shoved whole into his teeny mouth), a German chocolate, a Coconut Crunch, a strawberry and cream cheese, a chocolate and peanut butter, and a chocolate and cream cheese.

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I meannnnnn…..

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Oh, my heavens.

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Why, thank you!

We then walked off our calories at the zoo. It was such a gorgeous day!

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The boys and my bestie’s daughter, B, really loved seeing all the animals.

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The usually low-key otters were really playful and the lemurs saved their freak-out for when we were leaving.

It was a really wonderful day.

My, what a foodie Spring Break it’s been, and it isn’t even over yet!

I hope this finds you all well,

Kristin

A Berry Good Day

Today has been a berry, berry good day! Yesterday’s gloomy, overcasty clouds burned off to reveal a blue-skied, clear, gorgeous day. It was a perfect backdrop for strawberry picking. We started our day with our usual Saturday Pancakes.

Pancakes Bacon and Sausage

This time, I added little sausages with our bacon, and brûléed bananas.

Pancake Breakfast

After our hearty breakfast, we were off! The strawberry fields were about a half hour away and we got there just as they opened.

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The boys were SO excited! To them, it must have looked like miles upon miles of strawberries! Bigs did a great job of picking the plump, ruby red, ripe berries. Smalls did a great job of eating any berry he could find, whether it be from the ground (half-eaten by some vermin or squashed by an unknown stranger shoe) or plucked from the plant itself.

Smalls Eating

Just about every time I turned around, Smalls was stuffing a berry into his mouth. His little baby hands were stained red within minutes. When I picked him up to give him a snuggle, his little breath and skin smelled so sweet of ripe, juicy berries. I just held him forever, burying my face in his curly hair and neck, inhaling his sweetness. And he let me, instead of squirming away. It was magical. I could have breathed in his scent forever.

Smalls and Strawberries

The boys had a wonderful time. It was great to show Bigs food-sourcing. He couldn’t wait to get home, wash these sweeties, and eat them – the ones HE picked! Snack-time was wonderful – a bowl of freshly picked berries!

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I love this one of Husband, Bigs, and Smalls, in succession ❤

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It was such a happy morning, with the blue, clear skies, the sweet smell of berries in the air, and surrounded by my three, very special boys. My heart is so full!

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Our bounty, washed and drying

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Beautiful, ruby red jewels

From the strawberry field, we went to a Farmer’s Market. We walked around, munching on kettle corn (it’s always best made right in front of you!).

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Each boy got their own little bag. Smalls dumped his out on accident.

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We smelled the produce and plants for sale (this one was a spectacular chocolate mint plant!!).

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We watched an Amtrak train pull into the station and take off again. We sat there gawking at it like tourists. It was great. Smalls talked about for the rest of the day, in his own little 19 month old way, “Choo choo?? Wooo wooooooo!!”, “Choo choo!!!!”. Those boys love their trains.

And, we also walked through the rows and rows of gorgeous flowers for sale. These are the most lovely hydrangeas. I love hydrangeas.

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Spring has most certainly sprung around these parts – a fresh promise of growth and renewal, and a reminder of life’s beautiful, cyclical nature.

It was indeed a gorgeous and perfect morning for our little family! We ended our day (after all the non-event middle day stuff) with frozen yogurt.

Froyo

The boys are now tucked into bed, I am not far behind. I love when I am pooped from doing things that made me happy.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

I am so blessed by these three boys! They give me the hope for a new day and they fill my heart with love. My cup truly runneth over.

Have a very blessed night, yourself,

Kristin

Dough’nt Worry, Be Happy!

It’s Friday! I love Fridays! You know what I loved about this particular Friday? We had no plans. Zero commitments. It is SO rare for us to have nothing to do. I’ve been craving a day like that for a long time. What better to do with our time on a misty, coolish, slightly gloomy Friday than travel 20 minutes to get the best donuts in [the neighboring] town? I don’t even need to explain our history with donuts. It was a perfect start to our Free Friday.

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Since my boys were up extra early this morning, we got there before 7:45am and almost all the donuts were sold out (not ALL, but all the flavors WE wanted). I asked the girl in the front if they had any in the back and she came back and told me that the baker would make the flavors we wanted. That’s what I call customer service!

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We got a half dozen – that ought to last me through the weekend. 😉 Starting on the top left, we got my new favorites, German chocolate, strawberry cream cheese, sprinkles for Bigs (he was THRILLED to have one freshly made just for him!), a plain glazed (nothing “plain” about the flavor though!), a chocolate peanut butter, and lastly, the Coconut Crunch.

I only ate one – the chocolate and peanut butter, which is a classic and amazing combo, as you all surely must know. Bigs ate his sprinkle donut with gusto.

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He wastes no time. He also said, “By the way, Mom, can I have another one?” (LOL, nice BTW, kid, very nonchalant of you!)

I gave Smalls the glazed one. I learned last time that he’s not so fond of sprinkles, for some reason beyond my personal comprehension. That glazed donut (and I’m having deja vu, so I know I’ve said this before about the same donut), is the best glazed donut I’ve ever had – sticky and slightly crunchy on the outside, tender and yeasty on the inside. Smalls loved it. He would put it up to his mouth and suck on it. That’s one way to get all the flavors. I helped him finish it. He didn’t mind sharing his “do-do”.

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Smalls sucking on his donut…because why not?

We only had to stop and leave all our donuts on the table to use the restroom once. Not too shabby.

We made the 25 minute journey back to our house, all the while giggling and talking about donuts, and still smelling of the fried yeast dough.

When we got home, the boys played in the playroom while I did laundry and worked off my donut on the Elliptical (also located in the playroom). Why is it though, that kids can be quite independent when playing with toys, but become completely needy once they see Mommy doing something else, like a timed work out?!

After that, the boys and I did springy crafts.

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We made “shamrocks” out of paper towel rolls (Smalls’ work on the left and Bigs’ on the right). I think each of them took their own artistic license with it. 🙂

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Smalls ate some paint, as per the usual.

Then Bigs used markers as his next medium, to draw Easter bunnies, some crosses, a few churches, and the most even Easter egg I’ve ever seen!

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I’m this kid’s number one fan! He does great work.

For lunch I made an “Everything Salad”, the healthier equivalent to the Everything Pizza or the Kitchen Sink Cookie.

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I love when my leftovers go nicely with a green salad. I used ice berg, red bell pepper, mandarin orange segments, carrots, and sprouts. I added last night’s beans and carrot salad. Delicious!

Ahhh, yes, it’s been a great day. And it’s not even over yet! Gluten free, dairy free pizza for dinner! I might stick to my leftover donuts. 😉 I can handle a GF crust, but no cheeeeeese (I’m out)?! Whatever will I do?

Have a blessed Friday,

Kristin

Valentine’s Day Leftovers

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day week. We sure had a busy one! And it spanned over a few days, too. We filled food bags for hungry kids through our church and school (which is the same thing for us). It was a great way of showing Bigs how to show love to others, even if we don’t know them.

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It was nice to let Bigs pick out the pantry items to put in the bag.

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And then to see the sea of red bags in the foyer of his school was just heartwarming.

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Then, Bigs’ Thursday class party was just precious. The kids sang (so very softly and with some nervousness too) “Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink”. Then we ate. And it was just a perfect day.

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Bigs and his Valentine’s for his teacher and the Admin 🙂

Bigs woke up to his last “What I love about you” heart on his door on Valentine’s Day. Each morning, starting February 1st, I put a new heart on his bedroom door while he was sleeping. It was a fun thing for him and it allowed me to put in writing for him to see, some of the things I love about him.

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On Valentine’s morning, I made pink almond pancakes with sprinkles.

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They were so good. I put conversation hearts as decoration, although they were highly coveted by The Big One.

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I let him only have a few, knowing how sugary sweet the rest of the day would, inevitably, be.

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And Cupid came, wrote a poem, and left his poop (hey, I live in a house where poopy humor runs [get it?] rampant)!

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We went on our Friday playdate, where the kids exchanged Valentine’s (just like at school the previous day). It was a lot of fun. I packed up the cookies I’d made earlier in the week (what’s interesting to me is that the kids liked the Sweethearts candy more than the cookies! Oh well – more for us Moms!). I had made sure to make double batches of everything so we’d have enough.

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After we got home and napped, I took the boys to the market to get some dinner supplies. I wanted to make a nice meal for them and my Sweetheart. I made Chateaubriand Filet Mignon (such a rare treat!!) and asparagus, and had a few salads.

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To make the steaks, I let them get to room temperature, sprinkled them with Kosher salt, and placed in my preheated, olive oil-coated grill pan. I seared them for a few minutes on each side and transferred them to a sheet pan. I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes and brought them out to rest. For the asparagus, I rolled them around in olive oil and Kosher salt and roasted them in the 400 degree oven for 13 minutes on a sheet pan.

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I served them with a strawberry and spinach salad, and a cucumber and dill salad purchased from the market. It was all delicious!

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We had chocolate covered strawberries for dessert, quite fitting.

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That night, I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake (the recipe was already gluten free and I made the ganache dairy free) to celebrate my father-in-law and husband’s (husband has birthday coming up) birthdays the next morning.

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The cake came together easily and so beautifully. It was dark, dense, and oh-so-chocolately. The ganache was glossy, rich, and shiny.

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http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flourless-chocolate-cake-recipe

While I was making that, the boys painted their little ceramic elephant craft we’d gotten them for Valentine’s Day. They had a lot of fun. It was a lovely day.

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Bigs

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Smalls

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Final product: Bigs, left, and Smalls, right

Bigs also did his Valentine’s Day homework that his awesome teacher sent home! It was a neat Sweethearts themed one!

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It involved counting and coloring heart shapes and sweethearts. SO CUTE!!

The next morning, we got up and “released” Bigs’ Valentine’s Day heart balloon. I sort of love doing that. It’s fun to watch it flit away, wherever the wind pulls it. The kids liked it too.

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I like to think that if I saw a heart shaped balloon flying in such a gorgeous, crisp, blue sky, it would make me smile!

Then we went to my husband’s parents’ house to celebrate his and his father’s birthdays with chocolate cake and a sunshiny day!

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We played with sidewalk chalk and played hopscotch. Does anyone play that anymore?

Then…cake!

I used this knife that my wonderful sister-from-another-mister friend gave me:

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It’s always been my life’s motto! Even as a young child!

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The cake was RICH! So rich, like a truffle. But very good.

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Despite being a short little old thing, it fed a lot of people – my in-laws, my own family, I gave some to my parents and also to our neighbors! The cake that kept on giving!

We ended our day with walking around a craft store. Look at this cute bike bell I found – it’s a donut! I just need a bike now!

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Although I didn’t get it, if I did, it would have been like buying the shoes first…THEN the outfit. That’s normally how I do it.

Church on Sunday was wonderful. We love our pastor and his messages. The boys had fun in Sunday School and had a fun snack before naps:

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Yogurt Banana Splits!

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I cut a banana in half and lengthwise and put vanilla yogurt and chopped strawberries in between. The boys got such a kick out of it. We needed to get back to simple eating after all the festive, rich foods we consumed this weekend.

And back on the diet. :/

I hope you all had a blessed “holiday” weekend! I’m ready to slow down, get back to “normal” (schedules, diets, LIFE!).

Kristin