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

Do you know the Muffin Man?

Do you know the muffin man

I happen to know him. He doesn’t live on Drury Lane, like the song says. He lives with me.

I know the muffin man

He’s a little boy, actually. It’s my son. He’s the muffin boy. Well, on Friday, anyways. This past week in school, Bigs’ class read If You Give a Moose a Muffin. I love that series. I still have the mouse one from when I was a little girl.

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The kids made moosey muffin boxes. How cute is that?! So on Friday, we made those yummy little Jiffy muffins. I let Bigs do all the work.

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He poured the mix into the bowl, poured the milk (that I measured) into the bowl and whisked those together with the egg that I cracked. He used my scoop to put the mix into a mini muffin tin. He did great!

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Here’s his “thumbs” up (it’s his pointer finger). Cuteness.

So what if I overcooked the muffins. He’ll never really know.

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We ate them for snack and read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie since we don’t have the moose book at home. It was a fun activity and Bigs was proud he made the muffins on his own. And I was proud too!

It was a yummy food day, that day, since I also made those healthy Snickerdoodle Pancakes again! I gave them to Smalls one at a time to hold and eat at his leisure.

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And for lunch (for Hubs and I), I finally made that tropical(ish) cous cous salad I’d been wanting to try.

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It was SO good! I couldn’t stop eating it and that was okay, since it was so healthy!

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Would it have been better with fresh cilantro (versus dried)? Yes. Would it have been better with a super ripe and fleshy, golden mango? Yes. But we work with what we have, people! Well, I do. Because I never have all the ingredients on hand. Ooops.

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It was REALLY tasty. Chock full of good grains, beans and mango.

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I loosely based it on the recipe from here:

http://greenlitebites.com/2010/09/03/mango-black-bean-couscous-salad/

Like I said, I didn’t have fresh cilantro, my mango had almost seen better days and I didn’t even have chives or a hot pepper. I cubed my mango and tossed it in a teeny bit of brown sugar, just to macerate it a little bit. I think it helped it taste more ripe. I made enough cous cous for 3 servings (according to the box). While that was absorbing the water, I drained and rinsed the black beans and made the sauce. I used about 5 tablespoons of olive oil and some really good squirts of lemon juice (would love to have used a real fresh lemon, but you already know what I’m going to say…). I added salt and pepper, a little bit of garlic powder and I had a Weber’s Mango & Lime grill seasoning for fish that I put in there. It really lightened up the flavors. I then added quite a bit of dried cilantro. I whisked away and once the cous cous was ready, I mixed it all up together. I added cayenne pepper to mine. It was great!

And my husband only eats hot things (mostly) and this salad can be served warm, although it is abundantly better cold, in my very humble opinion.

I hope you try it!

By the way, thank you to those of you who have prayed for my baby son. We had to take him to the doctor’s office two more times since I’ve written and also today, we took him to the hospital for chest x-rays. They were looking for pneumonia, which they did not find. God is good! I just need my little spicy baby to get better and back to his spunky little self.

Keep praying?

Thank you!

In Christ,

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Away in a Manger Scene

We did it! We decorated for Christmas. We always do it the week of Thanksgiving since we travel on the day of and want our home to be Christmas-y upon our return. Bigs was SO excited! This will be a fun year with him. He “gets” it. Smalls, however, is just a typical one year old, plucking the Christmas balls off the tree, yelling, “BALL, BALL!!!”, and throwing them as hard as he can (and he’s freakishly strong) across the living room. I normally put a smaller tree up, as well, that is my “Sweets Tree”, where I put on only dessert and sweets themed ornaments. That one is, sadly, not up this year. I just don’t have the energy to watch Smalls around two trees. I have extra eyes on the back of my head to watch them, but they just aren’t enough. Perhaps next year.

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Bigs was very concerned that the Christmas tree would go away while he napped, while we were away for Thanksgiving and for any other event requiring us to leave the house. Which is a lot. Object permanence isn’t as ingrained as I’d thought. But that will make it more magical and more fun to show him as we get closer to the day. And for him, it’ll be like Groundhog Day, every morning! The tree will still be there, just like yesterday! It is just so wonderful to see this holiday through the eyes of a child. I know that is clichéd (I am shaking my own head at my own self right now), but it truly is.

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I just love that skinny little baby arm and hand (left), and that sweet toddler hand (right) coming together on an ornament, placing it on the tree in tandem. I am so in love with them.

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This is the first ornament Bigs made in church last year. I am only slightly concerned because it’s made of paper and you know, light-heat and paper don’t so much mix, but it was too precious not to put up. I love that he constantly sees the images of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. Seeing it over and over will help him learn and then know, with certainty, the true meaning of Christmas. I am truly blessed and thankful for them and my husband.

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Jesus sure is the Reason for this season. Without Him, none of this would be. And that applies to just about everything.

Today I finished making my Coconut Cake. I used a different recipe this year. And as per the usual, I didn’t read the recipe the whole way through before starting on it. That’s how I do. It called for keeping an un-iced, filled cake in the fridge for three days. Luckily, I made the cakes and filling two days before Thanksgiving, so it still worked out. You really think I’d have learned, by now, to read a recipe all the way through before starting on it!

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http://www.cakeduchess.com/2013/11/coconut-cake-foodmemory-guest-post-magnolia-days.html

The only changes I made to the recipe were that I used sweetened coconut in the filling and used less sugar since it didn’t really specify that the coconut used was sweetened or not. I also added about a half teaspoon of coconut flavored baking emulsion to really enhance that coconut flavor.

http://www.amazon.com/LorAnn-Oils-Emulsion-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B001REJIJM

I love how when I pat the coconut on the frosting, it falls all around the plate like freshly fallen snow. It’s such a show-stopper of a cake (if I can be so bold to say so – I simply just followed the recipe!). So very festive. I cannot wait to eat that piece as big as my face, that I promise myself each year.

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I also got my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni Casserole made. It is a cinch to throw together and is so delicious. Here is the little beauty going in to the oven.

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And here she is coming out…melty, ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

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I can’t wait to dig into it tomorrow.

Here is the recipe.

Bigs and I made pumpkin muffins for breakfast and snack tomorrow. It was a fun little activity for us to do together while Smalls was still napping.

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We used a shortcut and made them with a store bought cake mix (vanilla). We added one can of pumpkin puree to the vanilla cake mix and stirred like the dickens. We added some ginger and cinnamon and some pumpkin spice bakery emulsion. We baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Oils-Pumpkin-Emulsion-4oz/dp/B00BR25W9E

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I also put together a snack bento for Bigs for the Thanksgiving car trip. We aren’t going TOO far, but snacks make for a more pleasant ride.

Preschool Thanksgiving Road Trip Snacks

I packed a string cheese, a clementine some 5-grain crackers, a box of raisins, some Newman’s Own popcorn and one of our pumpkin spice muffins. Smalls will have less exciting snacks, in the form of Cheerios. 🙂 I will pack both of them an applesauce squeezy fruit.

Thanksgiving Subway

I hope you all have a VERY blessed, safe, thankful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy the time with your family and friends. And if that’s not how it’s going to turn out, it’s what you make of it! And to those going through hardships and heartache, may you feel God’s warm, loving embrace and presence, and may you find comfort in Him and the blessings (big and small) you have. There is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. God Bless.

I am so thankful for all my friends and family, near and far. And I’m thankful to God for all the blessings He gifts us (and even those He does not!) And I’m also thankful for this blog and all who read it and support me. It means so much more than you can even know. So, thank you. Happy Happy Thanksgiving.

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving