Follow by Email

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

and then there was the time we ALL got the stomach flu...

Yeah, that happened this weekend. Guess it's a rite of parenting passage, to have everyone in your home knocked out with the pukes at the same time.  Norah started throwing up Thursday while home with my mom, and seemed better by the time we got home from work. We sent her to Pa's on Friday as usual and both of us went to work, and she was fine there all day. Then, 6 am on Saturday morning, BAM, I had the full blown GI bug. Just in time for Matt's mother's memorial service :(. Norah's GI tract got the lower end of the bug Saturday as well, and hasn't quit since Saturday, poor thing. She now runs away when we say it's time for a diaper change.  This cloth diapering family has gone through a whole package of disposables this weekend, because I just could not bring myself to wash that many diapers in one day (seriously, at least 15 in 24 hours and still going).  She and I stayed home and missed the memorial service for Carole (yeah, felt like wife of the century there).  3:30 am Sunday, it struck again, and Matt was down for the count all day.  I was mostly on the mend by Sunday, so spent the day going from top to bottom of the house with a bottle of Lysol and Clorox wipes - at least I could be thankful for the last nearly 70 degree day of the year so I could open the windows and air the house out! least the adults in the house are back to normal today. Poor Norah is still off, but hopefully it will run its course in the next day or so. I'm ready to deal with a normal amount of bodily fluids again, thank you. And our washer and dryer will be grateful for the break in the heaps of laundry that piled up after all of this. Thankful for running water, Gatorade, and antibacterial Febreeze this week!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cozy Farro Stew

I was home yesterday with a not-feeling-so-hot toddler, and with only one car which Matt had at work, I was stuck at home without a vehicle and my food options were somewhat limited. Sure, we have canned soup, tortillas and cheese for a quick "quesadilla", cereal and such...but I wanted something warm and cozy on a chilly November day (how can it be November already?). I started poking around the fridge and cupboards to see what we had that I could use to create something. Didn't have ground turkey, beans or canned tomatoes for chili. Didn't have thawed chicken for chicken noodle soup. But, I scrounged up some habanero green chili chicken sausage that had to be cooked like, today, and found some farro (which is an Italian grain with a size and texture similar to barley, but with a nuttier flavor) and that jump started this delicious pot of hearty fall stew! I will be making this again for sure! Also, if I'd had kale instead of spinach, I would have used that as I prefer the texture of kale in soups over the wilty spinach, but I wrote it as I made it with what I had on hand, so there you go. 

Farro Stew with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

  • Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 chicken sausage links, casings removed (I had these on hand)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
  • 6 cups chicken stock (homemade is best - I had plenty in the freezer)
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup farro (could substitute pearled barley but I prefer the nuttiness of farro)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1/4 t. celery seed
  • about 3 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves, washed (or 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I had some fresh frozen tomatoes from this summer to use up, so just substituted those)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

  • 1. Heat 2 T olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Turn heat down slightly and add garlic, stirring constantly to avoid burning and cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 min. 
  • 2.  While onions are cooking, in a separate pan, heat 2 T olive oil and crumble sausage links into small pieces, cooking until browned over medium heat. 
  • 3.  To dutch oven, add carrots, celery, farro, sausage, all herbs and seasonings, tomatoes and stock.  Bring to a boil then turn heat down to simmer for 35-40 minutes, covered, until farro is cooked to a slightly chewy texture, stirring occasionally.
  • 4.  Add spinach and stir to wilt into stew.  Serve with grated fresh Parmesan cheese. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sugar Rush - Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! Norah's first Trick-or-Treating experience was a total success! After a 5 minute meltdown about putting on the tutu, she was bribed with chocolate and ready to head out! Our version of Olivia the Pig (which is her current obsession, books, movie, dolls, you name it, Olivia is where it's AT!): 

She rode in the stroller for a few streets, and wouldn't say Trick Or Treat at any houses, but once she got the hang of it girlfriend went running from house to house clutching shiny wrapped candy in each little mittened paw. She said Thank You to everyone, and loved getting to sneak in a "pat-pat" to anyone's dogs who would allow it! 

She had a preview of what was to come last Friday when Pinckney hosted a Spooktacular in the Park with "trunk or treating", and we went down to give the whole costume thing a trial run. She loved it! 

Not so sure about going in the straw maze, but watching other kids run was fun too

Enjoying some "pop pop" and having a little rest

"mmm nummy!" 

I am just loving seeing the experiences of childhood from the side of being her mama lately.  I could not stop smiling tonight as we walked around my own childhood neighborhood and knocked on the same doors and stood on the same porches to say trick-or-treat to some of the same neighbors (and many new ones)  that I did growing up. Watching my girl fly from lawn to lawn and smile with glee at the prospect of a totally new experience like Trick-or-Treating is one of the things I imagined all those years before being her mama, and it is all better than I could have ever anticipated. I hope to craft a childhood experience for her that is carefree, happy, safe, and imaginative. A space that when she looks back from her own view as a mama someday she will remember with glowing memories and smile her own ear to ear grin reliving.  

I hope you all had a happy Halloween!  This is one mama who is so excited for all of the holiday festivities to come in the next 2 months! Can't wait to create more traditions and memories with our girl! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So, so behind...

I'm beyond overdue for a post...I know it.  We've packed and moved since the last update, and I only just plugged the computer back in after being at my Mom's for the past 2 weeks...Let's just say life is busy and exhausting! But, that's not unique to us or news to any of you, just the lame-o explanation for lack of posting over here.

Dexter Cider Mill

Norah's doing great! She is 17 months now, and is every bit a full blown toddler. She has so many new words and expressions, I couldn't even count them anymore if I tried. She's been saying two word sentences (things like "bye mama", "two puppies", "more please") for a while, and I'm so curious as to what the first three word sentence will be...hopefully something appropriate because she is into repeating whatever she hears now! Time to watch the language over here ;)

Bird bath at Grandma's is fascinating, and she points it out every day saying "Ucky Wata" (yucky water). She's also looking in the sky at an airplane here, and she usually waves and says "Hi Ah-pane" when they go by. 

She did a somersault the other night and wouldn't stop after she figured out what she did - it's her new trick and she loves it! I see some gymnastics classes in her future!

We are loving the fall - the colors are absolutely brilliant this year, which is a surprise to me given how hot and dry the summer was, but I love it nonetheless! We've been to the Dexter Cider Mill and Norah enjoyed her first cider mill cinnamon donut, and of course she loved it (how could you not?).  I'm working on her Halloween costume slowly - it's nothing major this year because I didn't think she'd leave a costume on for long and didn't want to spend a ton of time or $$ on a short lived novelty. She's going to be Olivia the Pig, which she adores.  Photos of that to come soon!

First taste of a cider mill donut
She kept asking for "more please!"

The girl is obsessed with busses - she points them out when we see them driving or if she hears one go by.  She can answer "what color is a school bus" with "ell-oh" and she loves to take a turn behind the wheel when she gets the chance. 

We went to the Harvest Festival at the Child Care Center and Norah got to see and pet some baby animals. She was NOT sure about the goats, but she did like the cow and the piglet.  She kept her distance though, unless she had a grip on one of us. 

I scraped my leg pretty well moving and have had quite the healing scar for a few weeks, and Norah has spied this. She was very concerned when I told her I had a boo-boo, and that it hurt but I was ok. She is now very interested in talking about "hurt" and "ow" and pulls up her pant cuff to look for her own boo-boo. So interesting how toddlers absorb all of the things in the world around them, and what they can remember day to day.

Overall, life is good. We are exhausted from moving, not sleeping enough, and trying to fit in all of the enjoyable things around us, but we are so lucky to have family here who loves us and helps us out when we need. Hopefully I'll be better about posting more often again, now that we are getting settled and the computer is plugged in again (that usually helps!). Looking forward to enjoying the rest of my favorite month and Halloween, followed by the glorious holiday season. I'm really just wanting a simple, relaxed holiday time this year, and want to enjoy Norah in her littleness for the time being. Excited to see what she thinks of some of the fun Christmas things in store for her now that she is more interactive than last year. So much fun to look forward to!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Belated Norah Grows: 15 Month Update

Well, I think the fact that it's been 3 months since I wrote an update on Norah's development is probably proof in the pudding that she has been a time-consuming, challenging, busy little lady of late!

Norah, you are our little Firecracker, plain and simple. You have gone from a wobbly baby to an independent toddler, overnight. Your strong will and stubbornness continue to be the dominant features of your personality, and boy are you exercising your ability to voice your opinions lately!

You have at least 35-40 words in your vocabulary, and it seems you add new ones just about every day. You now regularly say: Mama, Daddy, Pa (Papa), Mimi (for grandma), Tryn, Liam, Lainey, "Bonzer", "Ash", "Hope", puppy, kitty, hot, up, bottle, hi, uh oh, more, please, thank you, all done,sit down, peas, pasta, cracker, snack (so cute - you say NAAAAAACK!), water, tree, ball, bath, splash, shoes, toast, pizza, baby, pee pee, trash, yuck, hat, eyes, potty, bus, truck, leash, glasses, socks, chalk, "coffee" (you say "Waff").   You still sign "more", "please" and "all done" but have started saying the words along with the signs when you use them.  You try to repeat words you hear and you watch our mouths closely when we say new things, and we can just see the wheels in your heading spinning while you try to figure out how we make the sounds. Language development is truly incredible, and you seem to be less frustrated in the past couple of days because I think you can finally communicate better using your words.

You now have 14 teeth - 14! And...unfortunately you have learned that you can use them to bite, in addition to chewing your food.  We are working on curbing the biting, but you still resort to it pretty frequently right now when frustrated or angry. We try to give you things that are OK to bite instead of us, and we offer cold teethers and popsicles when we think it's due to teething pain. But when it's just bite after bite mid-tantrum, we are also starting brief time outs, or at least abruptly removing you from whomever you are trying to bite and walking away, giving you no attention/reinforcement of the behavior. We do have some luck redirecting you to give us a kiss instead, which is always a sweet diversion.  We are hoping this biting is a brief phase.

As previously mentioned in other updates, your sleep has not been the greatest, and we are rounding out a month-long sleep regression. You seem to finally be fighting sleep a little less, but you are still VERY reliant on your bottle in order to go down. In fact, you wake at 5 AM most mornings demanding a "BA-DUH", and NOW! We are trying to wean your dependence on them, but it's not been very successful. Hopefully in the next few months you will give them up on your own?  Please?

You have been so funny lately favoring one or the other of us.  Sometimes at the end of a workday when we pick you up, you won't give Daddy the time of day and you are all about the Mama. But in the evenings and around bedtime lately, you are 100% in need of your Daddy time. He is the first one you ask for in the morning when you open your eyes, and the one you have been asking for in the night if you wake up.  You really love your Daddy, that much is clear! 

 You also REALLY love your Lainey dog.  You two are seriously best buddies. You say puppy as often as you say Daddy, and most of the time you say "daddy-puppy-daddy-puppy-daddy" in the same breath.  You are so sweet to her and love to give her snuggles and kisses. 

You are fully into climbing mode, and anything and everything is a possible climber for you, including the pantry shelves, dining room table, TV stand, couches/chairs/beds, etc. Outside, you love to push your cart down the sidewalk and could seriously spend hours in the pool.  You Love the slide at the park, and have gotten so independent most of the time you go down by yourself!  You have noticed the moon and airplanes and now point to the sky when you hear one flying overhead.

You LOVE books - it's the one thing that you will usually sit down and do for the longest periods of time. You love Goodnight Gorilla, Goodnight Moon, The Rainbow Fish, Olivia, Winnie the Pooh, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Sandra Boynton books. You have a board book called Puppies, which you also adore. I hope you always love to read, and can't wait to share some of my own favorite childhood stories with you.

You are still our funny, sweet, bright little one, but you have an added streak of spice lately.  No lie, your Daddy and I are challenged some days with trying to figure out what to do with you next. You keep us endlessly busy, and we just hope that you will always know how loved you are, even on days when we might seem tapped out, tired, frustrated, or discouraged.  You are you, and we love and appreciate every crazy bit! You could not be more beautiful to us, little love. Keep growing, beauty, just not too fast, OK?

Friday, July 20, 2012 Sleep, Sanity, et al

Well, it appears we have fallen into the 14 Month Sleep Regression with Miss Norah. For about 3 weeks now she has been fighting sleep, nearly every single nap and bedtime. She is waking at night and often screaming or fussing for hours. We're back to giving her bottles in the night to get her back to sleep, and she is barely eating solid food some days. I'm afraid what started as some sleep disturbance due to teething molars has morphed into a behavioral pattern that is going to take some serious willpower to break (on our end, which will be a massive feat given the Willpower of this child).

We have tried teething tablets, Tylenol, Motrin. Calms Forte and Rescue Remedy at bedtime and overnight when she wakes.  Lavender oil on her sheets. Noise machine and nightlight on.  We maintain a stable bedtime routine - dinner, bath, lotion/jammies, bottle, stories, bed. But lately, she often barely eats dinner, throwing food off her tray moments after we put it down for her. Screams when we put her in the tub for bath, and refuses to sit down in the water, saying "Hot, Hot" even though of course it isn't too hot. She no longer likes to be rocked to sleep while drinking a bottle and having a story read to her. She just wants to get down and runs to the bedroom door saying "Up, All Done". Child She often finishes her bottle, is still awake, and then we end up letting her scream in her crib for up to an hour and a half, before one of us gives in and heads back in there, usually with a few more ounces of milk and she finally falls asleep by 9:30 or later.

I want to quit the bottles. I know she's getting too much milk on a daily basis - should be between 16-24 oz a day, and I'm quite sure she gets closer to 30 oz or more many days. She won't take water from a bottle, but drinks water out of a straw sippy just fine. She won't take milk from the cup though. I worry about her teeth, but I also worry that she is filling up on milk only and not eating a balanced diet, and then can be at risk for iron deficiency.  But even more, I want the bottles gone because she relies on them to fall asleep, and expects that we will come in with a bottle when she wakes and we eventually give in because hours and hours of screaming until she pukes just isn't cutting it every single night.

She will SCREAM, bloody eff, she will scream, for hours. She will not give in and fall asleep on her own anymore, she will just continue to scream until she makes herself gag and/or throw up. Then, I come in, clean her up, and we start over. I can't do that for hours on end, every night, and in the middle of the night. She is not getting the point that when it's time to lay in her crib, it's bedtime, time to sleep, not scream.

What's so frustrating is that we've already done this, gotten past it, and she was sleeping through the night. For about 3 months, she was going to bed around 8:30 and waking about 6:30 am, and taking 2 reasonable naps a day. So what the Hell?

I feel defeated. I'm exhausted again. I want to cry on a daily basis, frankly most days I do. I don't even like my kid some days (of course I ALWAYS love her, but the liking part? Mmm not so much enjoying this phase, thanks). I feel like I have to be getting something wrong, or this wouldn't be happening. I feel like none of my friends with toddlers have experienced this, so it can't all be due to "just a phase".  Maybe she does have a strong willed personality (OK, we know she does) and some of it is just her trying to express her independence. But I have to be missing something, because I just do not know what else to try to get her to sleep and stay asleep. I just don't know. But I'm slowly losing my mind, my sanity, and my ability to rationally think through a plan for what else to do.

I've turned into a Me-Monster on Facebook and among my work group of friends, turning every conversation into a plea for sympathy and/or approaches to try. I can't answer the question "How is Norah?" from well meaning friends/family/acquaintances without spinning into a spiral about all of the hairy details of this current pattern of awfulness going on.  Not that they really wanted to know. Sometimes I guess I'm looking for others to say "yeah, we had a kiddo like was rough for a while but we got through it, and hey, she turned out OK".  And sometimes, I don't even know why I do it, because I end up sounding like a complete Hot Mess of Failed Mama Sauce and why the hell can I not just get a handle on my toddler, she's only 15 months old for gosh sakes, who's making the rules here?  I don't know. I guess it just comes down to the fact that I'm exhausted, overwhelmed, and really just want someone else to fix it for me. But you never get that Take a Free Pass card when you're the parent, do you?  Dammit (yeah, I know, she'll be saying that one all too soon, too.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sometimes, this gig is just...hard.

I read a parenting column today on phases and moments (that I wish I had written myself), and it's had me thinking a lot about how challenging these phases of raising a toddler can be. While the article made me laugh along with her and tear up towards the end, it also reminded me that when you are smack in the middle of one of the OMGwhen-will-it-end phases, it can be grindingly difficult going. We are rapidly cycling between a few of the choice phases, including the:  
"I'm-going-to-put-everything-in-my-mouth-including-dead-bugs-and-stale-Cheerios-buried-in-my-car seat phase" and the "I'm-going-to-take-away-all-your-"me"-time-by-requiring-your-assistance-for-three-hours-to-go-to-sleep-every-night-for-a-month phase", followed by the "I-will-wake-up-at-6am-demanding-oatmeal-even-though-I-didn't-fall-asleep-until-11pm phase".  Also, the "I-will-beg-you-to-read-the-same-book-to-me-12-times-a-day phase" and a combination of "I-will-run-into-everything-covering-myself-with-bruises-making-you-worry-that-someone-is-going-to-call-Child-Services-on-you phase" and the "I-will-climb-everything phase".
Exhibit A

Norah is a challenge many days lately. She has boundless energy and the willfulness of a bull.  She is curious and physically strong and capable enough of exploring just about anything she sets her mind to. She can also be so charming and gentle and I can already tell that she has the capacity for compassion in the way she treats the dog and her "babies" and each of us (when she wants to).  All of these are characteristics that not only make her unique but will become the foundation of the personality she will develop as she becomes her own person. I want to spend more time capturing the moments and paying attention to the tiniest glimpses of who she is now, while she's still part baby yet rapidly turning into an independent soul. But seriously, in the midst of the above combination of OMGPhase, sometimes it's just really, really hard to stop and appreciate all of the Moments, ya know?

Exhibit B
Matt and I have always tried to be a solid front when it comes to parenting ideals and decisions. We try to take the same stance as often as possible, and if we don't agree we at least try to back the other one up in the midst of decision making and follow-through, and talk about it later.  But what no one in parenting magazines and all the shiny front page articles really seems to tell you, is that it is really, really hard to be the adults in the equation sometimes. Those middle of the night fights over how to soothe a sick and crying baby really don't bring out the best in either of you.  Those teeny silly battles that really aren't the hill to die on, but still hang over your head as you're falling asleep taking stock of the day and make you question if you're the one getting it wrong.  They weigh on me.  They challenge me to be better tomorrow, for her, for him. For me.

There are many, many moments (OK, days, phases even) when I worry that I'm failing her somehow, even in the tiniest ways. I want to be there for her, to provide her with the kind of blissful childhood I think everyone deserves. I don't want my worries to be hers, ever. In short, I want to protect her from adulthood and its realities when they aren't always rosy. And that, I think, is the hardest part about this gig, parenting...that I can't protect her from reality.  Parenting has been the biggest reality check in all my life. And sometimes, the moments are hard to swallow.   And sometimes, they are purely awesome.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Confessions of a Zumba Mama (PSA: Pee before you Zumba)

Tonight may have included my most embarrassing moment in quite some time, and frankly I'm not sure anyone but me even knew what happened...does it still count as a most embarrassing moment if no one even saw?  In case it doesn't I figured I might as well, so of course why not bare it all on the internet, right? Well, the title probably says all you need know, but I'll carry on and enlighten you anyway (if you'd prefer not to hear the details feel free to sit this one out).

It's the second week of summer session for Zumba. It's been in the 90s both weeks, (tomorrow's forecasted high is 104...bloody hell) and class is held in an old school building without A/C.   I am in a different building this summer, with new keys, security entrance codes, light keys, blah blah blah. I show up 5 min before class tonight after busting through traffic to get there, and at least half the students are already there waiting outside, looking super duper thrilled.  I can't get the exterior keypad to unlock the door, my hands are shaking and I'm feeling guiltier and more inadequate as the seconds tick by and all my paying students just want is to go inside and take a damn Zumba class. I finally get it unlocked (ummm can we say user error, doy) and we head inside. I then can't figure out how to turn on the lights, and the wood floors were revarnished two weeks ago and the gym still smells like toxic ass. Super.

I finally get the lights on, the doors open for a breeze, and music ready to go. We start warming up (in case people weren't already sweating from waiting outside in the 90 degree heat for my lame ass to show up and let them in). The third song has quite a spunky beat and includes some scissor jumps. WELP FOLKS IT TURNS OUT THAT AFTER HAVING A BABY YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY PEE BEFORE DOING ANY SORT OF JUMPING. I found that one out...the hard way. Yes. I peed my pants in front of 30 Red & Ed Zumba students. I just kept on going, hoping if it actually went down my legs people might just think it was a lot of sweat. Oh my gawd.  It actually crossed my mind during class that maybe I should look into getting a pack of those super light adult liners for people with incontinence for my Zumba nights, because really wouldn't it be more dignified to just wear a damn diaper than actually pee your pants and worry about whether people would notice it running down your legs?  Or maybe I could just not be running late every week, and actually pee before class.  Now there's a thought.

And, before I go on in my recently sleep-deprived state (Norah's had Roseola this week, sleep is a thing of the past, and hopefully the near future) and say anything more embarrassing than that, I believe I shall call it a night. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Do the Potty Dance

Well, I know it's been too long since I've posted any updates on Miss Norah, but I felt compelled to post tonight because she accomplished a major milestone this evening. Last weekend we bought her a little potty seat to play with and get used to, with no expectations or pressure that she would actually use it for months. But, as soon as I take off her diaper at certain times (before/after nap, bath) I know that if I let her run nakey she will usually take off and pee somewhere (usually on the carpet, go figure) within a minute or two. Why not see if she will sit on the potty then, at those key times, when I can anticipate that she might actually go there? Well, that's just what she did tonight! I asked her if she wanted to sit on her potty, and not 15 seconds later she peed in the potty for the very first time! I wanted to clap and sing, but I didn't want to freak her out so much that it will be the last time too, so I somewhat calmly told her Great Job and High Five! and she smiled and truly seemed proud of herself. My mama heart swooned and probably grew a size or two. Who knew that celebrating putting some pee in a plastic bucket would elicit such a tender response?  I also know that I will not be that mama who posts Facebook updates regarding potty training trials and errors...but I had to post somewhere and this is it! So you, my lucky readers whoever you are, get to hear a proud mama brag on about her awesome child who awesomely did what no other almost-14-month-old child has ever done before! I kid, I kid. But I am proud of her anyway :)

As long as I'm doing a little update, I will also just say that she is starting to be more verbal, which is really helpful for all of us, because she is getting really frustrated when she knows what she wants but WE don't understand...resulting in lots of whining, meltdowns, some pinching/scratching/biting, and general crankiness had by all.  Her vocabulary now includes: mama, daddy, puppy, baby, hi, up, kitty, "uh huh", ball, woof, sit, hot, hat, and she uses baby signs for "more", "all done", and "eat".  We are trying to get her to use the signs for "help" and "please" but those haven't quite taken off yet. She does know and respond when we sign "sit down", "no", and "stop"  (well, that is if she wants to respond appropriately!).  And, see - she is learning to spell already, too!

Running after Lainey at Mill Pond Park in Saline

Sampling homemade watermelon blueberry popsicles
I've been getting back into sewing again, and of course my current obsession is thinking of sweet things to sew for her. I found a super easy tutorial for pillowcase dresses here, and modified it based on the fabric I had on hand. I had some scraps left from the project we did for Molly's shower, so I spent probably $4 on this dress total. In about an hour and a half, I had a dress! I didn't take step by step photos, but maybe next time I will since I know more what I'm doing now.  I think it turned out pretty cute, but I do have a pretty good lookin' model.

Finally figured out wearing her own sunglasses is pretty cool 

Check it. 

Wearing her dress

I know, I still have a backlog of posts to type up, but it's not happening tonight. Hope you're all getting through the early summer heat wave!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day Projects

I'm working on a few projects for Matt for Father's Day this year, and hopefully I will have enough time tomorrow with Norah to get the second one finished. It's been a long time since I've posted anything here, but rest assured I have been busy! I do have some posts to update and projects to share, so perhaps this weekend I'll take some time to get them together.

Until then, here's a quick sneak preview of project #1 - Norah was a peach and totally participated in this better than I thought she would! I think I might redo this shoot every year, and layer the photos over the last year's in the frame, just to have a cool record of how she changes year by year.

I just got one letter D and one letter A from the wooden craft section at Michael's, and let her play with them while I snapped some shots. I picked some of my faves, and put them in a triple matted frame.  I printed them on our home inkjet printer, so they aren't the best quality...I will have to order better prints this summer.

I'll post our other project this weekend once it's complete, and let you know how I feel about the #1 Daddy in this house later this weekend! Hope everyone is set to have a fabulous one!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Raw Kale Salad with Cranberries, Pecans and Parmesan

In the middle of the work week, I have been finding myself uninspired and unmotivated to create thoughtful meals lately.  I love food. I love eating food. But I also really enjoy planning and preparing food for myself and others to enjoy eating. It's just that I've been stuck in a rut of eating the same things lately, and anyone who knows me will know that I get B-O-R-E-D with food very quickly when eating repetitively.

So tonight, we made a quick trip to Whole Foods on our way home, and surprisingly they have better prices on some of the produce items we frequently get anyway wherever we shop.  We still get most of our mainstream stuff somewhere less pricey, but for good fresh produce we do like going there from time to time.

Anyway, tonight I picked up a bunch of "Dinosaur Kale" (Lacinato Kale) which I have never bought before.  I am not a stranger to kale, but usually go for the curly variety. From the ever trustworthy Wikipedia:
"Lacinato kale has dark blue-green leaves, with an "embossed texture"; its taste is described as "slightly sweeter and more delicate ... than curly kale."[5] Because of its taste, "slightly bitter [and] earthy",[6] it has been called "the darling of the culinary world".  

Dinosaur Kale looks like this: 

I had no recipe in mind specifically, but wanted to make some sort of raw kale salad.  Whole Foods sells one in their deli section already made, which I have had before and is great, but I wanted to try my hand at my own version. Here's what I came up with. 

Raw Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries, Pecans, and Parmesan 
with Lemon Vinaigrette 

1 bunch Lacinato Kale ($2.49 at Whole Foods for organic variety)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

Tear the kale leaves away from the stems and into small bite sized pieces. Discard the stems. Put into a salad spinner or bowl filled with warm water, and gently "massage" kale for a few minutes. They will begin to soften and wilt ever so slightly.  Spin the kale dry. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the juice of half of the lemon, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and honey.  If too runny, whisk in a little more olive oil until desired consistency. 

Season kale with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste - definitely taste it here, because the salt really adds a nice element to salad and will otherwise be a bit flat without it. 

Sprinkle on cranberries, pecans, and Parmesan, then toss with vinaigrette.  Let sit in airtight container in refrigerator a few hours or overnight, and the dressing will absorb into the kale and continue to soften the leaves.