Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Long weekend fun!

What a wonderful long weekend we just had!  The weather was gorgeous and we spent lots of time together as a family and with friends.  And to top it off, I actually had yesterday off of work too!  Yahoo!

Friday night Pat and I started the weekend off right with a campfire outside.  The night air had cooled off a bit and the fire was nice and toasty.  We were enjoying every second until I spotted a bat in the sky.  And then another one.  And then another.  Pat kept assuring me they wouldn't fly close to us but that didn't really make me feel much better.  I was basically freaking out.  And then out from the wood-line at the end of our yard came a deer.  And another bat.  I finally told Pat this was too much nature for me and ran indoors.  Hey I'm all for nature...but bats?!?!  No thank you!

Saturday morning we got up and headed out on a bike ride to a few garage sales in the area.  We ended up getting a small plastic red phone for Lucy from a free toy bin that was the best find of the day.  Pat and I laughed as we were biking since we could hear her babbling away on her new phone.

Checking out the park!
If you look closely, you can see part of her red phone by her feet :)

After the garage sales we decided to swing by few local parks for Lucy to play.  The one park had some really neat areas for little kids to play in.  It was so much fun to watch her run around and explore new areas.  At one point she caught sight of some birds in the area and freaked out with excitement.  This kid loves her some bird watchin' :)

A little nervous at first....
...but then loving it!

 Sunday after church we headed out on the lake with some friends for a mostly relaxing and sunny afternoon.  I say mostly relaxing as Lucy had a rough go for awhile.  I accidentally got some sunscreen in her eyes and from that point on her eyes watered the entire time we were out there. She also had missed her usual nap time but I did manage to get her to sleep on the boat for awhile.  The combination of new people and being on a boat made her pretty clingy early on, but she was a trooper.  And when she did finally fall asleep Pat and I were able to enjoy a cold drink or two and spend time with great friends.  The only disappointment is that I didn't get a picture of her!  She looked ridiculously cute!

To wrap up the weekend we headed to my parents lake house on Monday.  My mom took Lucy swimming in the lake and they had so much fun!  I think this will be a fun summer as she is really warming up to the water.  So much so that while I took her grocery shopping with me yesterday I was picking out some salmon at the seafood department and she saw the live lobster tank she started jumping up and down and shouting, "Wa-da!  Wa-da!  Wa-da!"  Apparently she saw all the water (wa-da) in the lobster tank and wanted to go for a dip!  Silly girl!

Fun with Grammy!

All that fun though does take a toll.  I peaked in on Pat rocking Lucy to sleep last night and found this!

Too much weekend!

This weekend I tried a few new recipes and among them was this one for Portobello and Summer Squash Lasagna and it was delicious!  Like all lasagnas, there is a bit of prep work involved, but it's so worth it in the end.  I of course didn't follow the recipe exactly and took a few short cuts (like not individually browning each and every piece of squash...who's got time for that?) but it still turned out great!  I also subbed half of the mozzarella cheese for the vegan variety and you couldn't tell a difference at all.  I know this because I snuck the veggie shreds "mozzarella" cheese in and Pat never noticed a difference. My pictures are horrible but I promise the results are worthy of your time.

Portobello and Summer Squash Lasagna
Adapted from Eat Live Run


3-4 tbs olive oil divided
4 zucchini or summer squash cut into thin rounds
3 portobello mushroom caps, "gills" scraped out and sliced into 1/4" pieces
1 15-oz container ricotta cheese
2 organic eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 24-oz jars marinara sauce
about 12 no boil lasagna noodles
6 oz vegan mozzarella cheese (any brand is fine, or you can just use actual mozzarella cheese), grated
6 oz mozzarella cheese, grated + 3 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add about 1/3 to 1/2 of your zucchini/summer squash mix to the skilled and saute until well browned.  Remove and place on paper towels and repeat with remaining squash until all are browned.

Add more oil to your pan and then add your portobello mushrooms and saute until tender. Place all vegetables in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Combine the ricotta cheese, salt and pepper and eggs in a medium bowl.  Whisk until well combined.

In the same skillet you cooked your veggies in, heat your remaining olive oil, about 1-2 tbs.  Add the minced garlic and onion and saute until tender. Add the pasta sauce and season with salt and pepper as needed.

To assemble, place about a cup and a half of the pasta sauce at the bottom of a 9 x 13" dish.  Then on top, lay three no boil lasagna noodles flat, overlapping if necessary.  Follow this with a third of the veggie mixture, a half cup of the ricotta mixture, a cup of marinara sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese blend.  Lay another three noodles on top and repeat the process until all your noodles are gone, or you run out of filling like I did.  On top drizzle remaining marinara sauce and the rest of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese mix.

Cover pan loosley with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.  Let lasagna set for 15-20 minutes...or gobble up immediately.  

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend too!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Keepin' It Real Fridays

I don't know about you but a lot of the blogs I read are wonderful...but sort of too wonderful.  Yes I enjoy their recipes and funny stories about their kids and cute pictures, sure.  However, they just never seem super real to me I guess.  I mean, is my kid the only kid that bucks the whole notion of "night night" and has to be rocked to sleep every.single.night?  Is my husband the only one who thinks spending 5 days straight laying mulch in our yard is a form of romance?

I get it, I do.  We want to put our best foot forward.  Show off our better side and make everything look all kinds of pretty.  And truthfully, most of the time life is pretty great. And I do appreciate the yard looking nice and getting in extra cuddles with my Lucy-girl.  But I feel like all these blogs I read live in the land of perfect.  Their house is always clean, their kids go to bed at 7pm and sleep through the night, beautiful and healthy meals appear on their table just in time for dinner and life is always wonderful.

Well folks, this just ain't that blog :)  Yes, life is wonderful...but it's also messy.  It's full of laughter, but it's also chock full of sleepless nights.  So here is the start of a new series, Keepin' It Real Fridays.  Mondays are for clean starts. But Fridays?  Fridays are for tossing in the towel and giving into the weekend.  Giving into the mess. Giving into poopy diapers and meals scrapped together from old popcorn and a bowl of cereal. 

I do want to preface that this new series may not actually run every Friday and you may see an addition on a Tuesday or none for like a month at a time.  Hey, I'm just keepin' it real.  So let's get started!

Does anyone's house look like a disaster after their kids go to bed?  Don't answer because if you say no I will cry myself to sleep tonight.  Our house very much looks like a category 5 Hurricane Lucy just passed through the area, leaving toys, blankies, sippys, snacks and books in her wake. Sure I could make her clean up her mess, and some nights I do try.  But honestly, I just want to get the kid in bed so I have 5 minutes to myself before I pass out on the couch.

Here is the scene at our house last night after Pat took Lucy upstairs to rock her to sleep.

This is the overview.  Please note the pile of stuffed dogs between the couch and the coffee table

Yikes...someone better fold those clothes!
The dog has all but given up and is now totally comfortable laying on a book and part of a baby shoe.
A rouge upside down snack container left in the kitchen for all the ants in the world to find.  

Part of keepin' it real is trying to get dinner on the table each night too.  Whether you are a working mama or a stay at home mama or just a busy lady in general, mealtimes can be rough.  So here is a real easy, real fast and real healthy meal for you.  We made it last night and while I thought it could have used more of a flavor punch, I was totally happy with how quickly it came together!  Oh and did I mention it's vegan? one has to know :)

Tomato Basil Cream Pasta
adapted from Oh She Glows

1 lb uncooked spaghetti
1 large ripe tomato
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup water
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 15oz can of tomato sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water or wine (I would recommend wine if not feeding little ones)
Lots of salt and pepper
1 cup packed fresh basil, julienned


--Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Chop tomato and add it to a food processor (or blender) including skin and seeds.  Add the cashews, water, tomato paste, 2 cloves of garlic and tomato sauce.  Blend until smooth

--Add your pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente.

--Meanwhile add olive oil to a large skillet and heat to low.  Add the additional minced garlic and saute for a few minutes careful not to burn.

--Pour the sauce from the processor to the skillet and stir, bringing to a simmer.  Add salt and pepper as necessary.  Let it cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add water or wine to thin out a bit if you wish to achieve your desired consistency for the sauce.

--Remove sauce from heat and add chopped basil.  Once pasta is done cooking, rinse and drain.  Add drained pasta back to pot and gradually add pasta sauce until your desired amount is achieved.

--Stir and serve immediately

Whoops...I did add some not totally vegan anymore.  But-totally yummy!

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend with lots of yummy food and time spent with the ones you love!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nap strike, dinner with friends and Shaka Salmon

Lucy held her own little Nap Strike this past Saturday.  Pat and I tried nearly everything to get her to take a nap and she just wouldn't have it.  She must have known we were having friends over for dinner and desperately wanted her to get a good nap in before their arrival.  She's a smart little bugger like that!  Pat and I both tried everything we could think of and she flat out refused.  I went into her room to rock her for a bit and when I realized she was wide awake I decided to take a few pictures.  Silly kid!

Even with no nap she still did pretty good that evening.  We had friends over for dinner who we hadn't seen in awhile.  They have a little girl who is just 2 weeks younger than Lucy and we were excited to get the girls together again since they are at such a fun age now.  Lucy was a bit possessive of her toys to begin with, but by the end of the night they were running around laughing and playing like old friends! 

One of the funniest moments to me was that our friends daughter loves to hug.  And multiple times throughout the night she would walk over and give Lucy a HUGE hug.  Lucy pretty much hated every second of every hug and would stand there, not moving a muscle, crying her eyes out.  I'm pretty sure there are worse things to cry about kiddo! :) 

For dinner Pat grilled some chicken breasts for himself and our guests and I made this delicious Shaka Salmon. The recipe is below and I promise you and you friends will love it too!  It's a cinch to make and tastes delish.  Our friends liked it so much I had to get them the recipe before they left for the evening!  Sorry I failed to get a picture before it was all gobbled up.  But that should just tell you how yummy it was!

Shaka Salmon

1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 TB fresh lemon juice
4 salmon fillets (6oz)
2 TB brown sugar
4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp grated lemon rind
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Combine first 3 ingredients in a zip-loc bag, seal and marinate in fridge for at least and hour, or overnight. Turn occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients in a bowl to create rub mix. Set aside.

Prepare a baking dish by lightly coating with cooking spray.  Remove fish from bag and place in dish.  Discard marinade.

Gently cover fish with rub mixture and then bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. 

 Hope you all had a great weekend too!  The weather was fantastic and we enjoyed lots of outside time!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Place....

Last night the weather was just perfect!  There was a light breeze blowing through the house while I roasted some salmon for dinner and made a strawberry salsa to go with it.  I of course had a little helper with me most of the time too, although she decided that it would be tons of fun to squish the grape tomatoes between her little fingers and watch the juices fly everywhere.  We found Daddy pretty quickly after that and he took Lucy outside so I could finish up cooking. :)  I have posted the recipe on the blog before, but the original can be found here.

Salmon with Strawberry Salsa...yummy goodness!
Mealtimes have become a bit of a challenge as Lucy swears she isn't hungry ever.  Me: "Lucy, let's go eat dinner....are you hungry?" Lucy:  "No"  Me: "Look here are some yummy strawberries...let's sit down and eat."  Lucy: "No"  Hmmmm....  So basically she screamed and threw a fit the whole time we ate. maybe before and after dinner were more my happy place...and well, let's just say it's a good thing I had an ice cold beer to get me through the whining and crying while I ate my lovely meal!

After dinner we went back outside, also known as Lucy's favorite place ever!  This kid would spend her entire life outside if she could...just like her Daddy :)  I tried to get some pictures of she and I by the beautiful daisies we have popping up but she was more into trying to steal the camera away from me than smiling and taking pictures.

She's checking out the guy mowing next door.  Anytime he would get remotely close she would start yelling, "Hi!!! Hi!!!"  Funny kid!
Now that the weather is nicer, walks have become a big hit at home.  Lucy LOOOVES to go for walks!  She sits on the edge of her stroller, hands stretched out to hold the tray in front and has her eyes peeled for birds, balls, doggies, trucks, you name it!  She has figured out how to climb up into her stroller too, so she will just sit there and wait for someone, anyone, to take her on a walk.  So, of course we went on a walk last night.

I'm ready for my walk now!

After our beautiful walk I cleaned up the kitchen while Pat put Lucy to bed.  Then I made this:

 Major Yum!  Healthy, yummy evening snack. The recipe can be found here.   I slurped it up while I watched the results show for Dancing with the Stars.  Um, is anyone else as sad as I am that Maria got voted off??? Boo! I loved her!  Guess I'll be cheering for William Levy now!

Hope you are taking time to enjoy the beautiful weather and all the wonderful little things in life.  Minus dinnertime tantrums....but, you get the point!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


This past Sunday was Mother's Day...and what a fantastic day it was!  Pat had wanted to make me breakfast in bed....but I really LOVE to make breakfast so I asked him if it would be ok if we all cooked together as I had been wanting to try to make my own challah bread for french toast.  He was of course on board!

So Saturday afternoon I spent some quiet time by myself working on this bread.  I was mostly excited as I was able to use my fancy mixer I got for Christmas!  The challah was fairly easy to assemble and had several rises, which gave us just enough time to try out the new pizza place in town for dinner on Saturday night!  When we got home Pat put Lucy to bed and I finished baking off my bread.  I think it turned out pretty good...and it tastes even better than it looks!  You can find the recipe here.

On Sunday morning I was able to sleep in which was wonderful and Pat had a pot of coffee hot and ready when I finally woke up!  Then we all went to work on our yummy breakfast of Challah French Toast and a Mushroom and Scallion Frittata. 

I recently had Lucy help me make pizza for dinner one night and ever since then if she sees me doing anything remotely close to cooking she has to "Elp".  She drags a chair that she stands on all the way over to the counter and repeatedly requests "Up-a"  "Up-a".  I'm not sure how a one syllable word became two...but it's adorable when she says it!  And while everything takes a LOT longer with her help, I just flat out love it :)

Trying to get into the yummy vanilla beans!

Mixing up the eggs, milk and vanilla
"I do it"
Yummy Goodness!
Real life:  Lucy screamed and refused to sit in her high Pat is holding her.  See her tray on the table and her fork in hand???  Silly girl!
My wonderful birdhouse made by Pat and Lucy!

I loved the birdhouse that Pat and Lucy made for me!  I knew he was working on something special as he had asked me not to go down in the basement.  Saturday afternoon he took Lucy down with him so she could help.  I couldn't help but laugh as the entire time she was down there I could hear her screaming and throwing a fit!  When he finally brought her back up he looked exhausted and said, "That was a lot harder than I thought it would be!"

Screaming or turned out great!

Thanks for a great Mother's Day! I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband and the sweetest, albeit opinionated, little girl who made me a mama :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Club

So let's talk about books today!! It's sunny and a pretty spring day here, but my favorite days for reading are dark and gloomy rainy days.  Curling up on the couch with a blanket some tea and a good book are what I always wish for on those sorts of afternoons. Granted, I have little free time these days to lounge on the couch for an entire afternoon with my nose in a book....but that is my happy place for sure!  On my most frazzled days I remember back to my single and pre-baby life where I would spend countless hours engrossed in a book without a care in the world.  But then I remember those days I used to long to be married and have a baby  :)

So I thought that while I may only have time to squeeze my reading in now on my lunch breaks and right before bed, I would share some of my favorites!

 First up, Peace Like a River.  Now, I haven't read this book in a very long time, but I so loved it!  It was unlike any book I had previously read. It's a story on how faith, family, and a miracle or two can overcome anything. 

Next up, Shanghai Girls.  This was a surprising one for me as it's a fairly sad book, but it was one of those books that pulled me in.  When I wasn't reading I was thinking about the characters, wondering what I would do if I were in their place.  It's about two sisters living in Shanghai in the late 1930's when Shanghai was a glamorous and beautiful city to live in.  However once Japan starts bombing their wonderful city, their family is torn apart by war and betrayal.  The sisters face many trials, but stick together though it all.  There is a sequel to this book called Dreams of Joy, which I also enjoyed, however it was just as sad.

Ahhh, the Hunger Games.  I was a little late to the party on this one.  I had heard about it but truthfully, I thought it was a boy book.  The cover didn't appeal to me nor did the title.  Plus I had heard vague reference to it being set in the future which also was a turn off to me.  It wasn't until the first movie preview came out that I realized I might be missing something.  And missing something I was!  Holy moly I LOVED these books.  I loved them so much that I flat out ignored and neglected my family while I raced through the first book in a matter of 2 days (which is pretty good when you have a busy toddler in the house).  And then I was addicted, I had to keep reading.  My husband thought I had lost my mind until I convinced him to at least try reading the first one.  He isn't much of a reader, but he was hooked too!  I will say the first two books were my favorite of the series.  I though the last book got a bit horrific for my liking...although lets be honest...the whole thing is pretty brutal.  Once I finished the books I almost felt lost.  And I had NO idea what I could possibly read next that could even come close to being half as good as the Hunger Games were.  Definitely not a boy book :)

The Art of Racing in the Rain...what a great book!  It's told from a dog's (Enzo) perspective which is totally different, but oh so wonderful.  Enzo narrates his story explaining the difficulties of being a dog, i.e. no opposable thumbs and a tounge that makes drinking water difficult and speaking impossible.  All Enzo wants is to be human. In fact, he has watched specials on TV about how the Mongolians believe dogs come back as humans in their next life.  So Enzo works hard to be ready for his next life.  His owner is an unassuming yet lovable guy who loves to race cars and he and Enzo spend countless hours watching races on TV.  We follow along with Enzo's owner as he gets married and has a family, but see everything through a dog's eye.  It's both heartwarming and gut-wrenching.  I promise you will shed a tear...or sob like a baby, which is what I did.  But this is one of the few books with a great ending!

In my constant quest for the next great book, I have come across a few that I am sure would be wonderful, but honestly I don't know if I can bring myself to read them.  My mommy-heart has made me pretty sensitive on what I can and cannot tolerate.  But maybe you can convince me otherwise.  Although I am pretty convinced I should have read these before I had a baby....

Redeeming Love.  Everyone says this book is fantastic.  And I did read and excerpt from the book and was hooked.  But then I realized there was going to be a very dark period in Angel's life and I just couldn't read it.  I was upset just having an idea of what was about to happen.  I know this book is based on a biblical story...but again, this mommy-heart of mine isn't sure I can handle something like this.

Sarah's Key is another one.  It looks so good, but man...little kids and the Holocaust....not sure I can go there.

So those are just some of my favorites.  If you can convince me to add the last two to that list...I might think about it :)  Might being the word here.

What are some of your favorite books??

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mommy and Me Weekend

This past weekend Pat was down in Nashville helping his good friend celebrate his bachelor party.  So Lucy and I decided that since it was just the two of us, we would have our own party all weekend!  We had a mostly great weekend, although Lucy decided that since she couldn't find Dada, there was no way she was going to let me out of her sight.  The poor kid wouldn't even take a nap on Saturday since she was so upset at being left alone.  And, well I'm just not great at letting her cry it we broke a bunch of rules this weekend, including letting her fall asleep on the couch next to me every night.  But hey, that's how we make things fun when we are missing Dada.  The poor kid would walk around the house asking "Dada?  Dada?  Bye-bye?"  So we looked at pictures of him and blew him kisses and I told her he would be home soon.

Saturday we helped one of my great friends celebrate her baby shower.  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the shower, but Lucy did great!  She was pretty shy to begin with, but before I knew it she was running around, playing with balloons and having a blast!  She is just so funny to watch!

On Sunday the weather was really nice so we spent lots of time outside.  We went on several walks which Lucy LOVES and pointed out every single bird we saw along the way.  Then we came home and walked all over the yard looking for flowers to pick.  While I was worn out by the time the weekend was over, it was great to have some girl time for sure :)

I snapped a few cell phone pics over the weekend to share.

Working on our Lego Skills
Lucy loves to talk on the phone and pretends everything is a phone.  Here she is with 2 remotes walking around saying, "Huwo?  Huwo?"  Hilarious!
Lucy LOOOVES her doggy
Trying out Mama's shoes
Sweet little girl fast asleep on the couch next to me
I hope you all had a great weekend too!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life in the Fast Lane

Well, I don't know what to say except that I am back.  I think :)  It's not like I forgot I had a blog.  Quite the opposite really.  I think about it often.  I would contemplate what I would blog about, what pictures to include and what title each post would have.  And then life is just busy.  It's mostly a great sort of busy.  But still, busy.

Anyways I'm stopping in to let you all know I am here.  I am alive.  And I am great!  Just, you know, busy :)  So, here is an update in pictures if you will.  Since I last posted we dressed Lucy up for Halloween, we moved, had Lucy's FIRST birthday, celebrated Christmas, enjoyed sledding with Lucy for the first time, went on a few date nights with my hubby and made LOTS of meals.  I suppose I should also mention that after the first of the year I eliminated meat from my (mostly our) diets.  I still eat eggs and seafood and dairy.  But have cut out meat.  And I am really enjoying it.  I have been reading too many things about meat and feel this is a great decision for our family. 

But that is an entirely different topic that deserves its very own post...and then some :)

So here we go....

Our little Moo-Cow for Halloween :)
So cute!
Birthday morning!  Balloons on the floor!
She loved the ball pit we got her for her birthday!
Opening presents at her party!
Singing Happy Birthday to our sweet girl!
Christmas Morning
Opening presents with Roxy :)
Lucy was not impressed with sledding, but Pat and I had fun :)
Helping Daddy sweep the drive
Playing in our big open yard!
Easter morning with Dada!
Me and my sweet girl!
Easter morning before church
Playing with her lego's.  She loves to stack them high and then clap for herself!  So funny!
I plan to get back on my game with blog posts as there is so much to chat about!  Hope everyone is having a great week and I'll be back with new posts soon!!! :)