Thursday, April 30, 2009

Asian Noodle Salad

Here's a recipe from Pioneer Woman, with fabulous photos over at her site. Beautiful, tasty, and infinitely variable!

My comments and additions in italic

SALAD:
1 package linguine noodles cooked (also yummy with soba noodles)

1/2 to 1 head Napa cabbage
1/2 to 1 head purple cabbage, sliced
1/2 to 1 bag spinach
1 red bell pepper, sliced (I used babylicious peppers in place once, they were lovely)
1 orange bell pepper, sliced (or yellow)
1 small bag bean sprouts (never used these but I'm sure they would be tasty)
3 sliced scallions (I used green onions)
3 peeled, sliced cucumbers
1 bunch chopped cilantro
1 can whole cashews, lightly toasted (or other nuts, or sesame seeds)
1 bag frozen small shrimp, defrosted
1/2 container of firm tofu, cubed

DRESSING:
juice of 1 lime (use less, perhaps, if you add the vinegar)
8 T olive oil
2-3 T sesame oil
8 T soy sauce
1/3 c brown sugar (this is too much for me, I just use a few tablespoons)
3 T fresh ginger, minced (or more! more! MORE!)

2 cloves chopped garlic
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
More chopped cilantro
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/8 c. white vinegar (I like my dressing with a big more zip)


Assemble the salad in the biggest bowl you own, then dress before eating. This salad needs LOTS and LOTS of dressing so really dump it on there. A couple times I've skimped and regretted it, especially since the salad seems to grow as I'm making it :c) This makes a HUGE salad, but don't worry, you'll eat more of it than you dreamed possible.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Granola Bars

Lately I've had a hankering after granola bars, so I did some research and found a tasty recipe here online. I'll post her recipe here below and then ruminate on the fact that I hardly followed it at all but they still turned out good below.

HOMEMADE GRANOLA BARS
From Joyful Abode

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gather your ingredients:

2 cups oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts, crushed
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
approximately 8 oz. dried fruit
To crush your peanuts, put them in a plastic bag and smash them with a heavy mallet, measuring cup, or sauce pan.

Then, mix the peanuts, oats, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a baking dish with sides. Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned.

Meanwhile, prepare a glass baking dish (about 11 x 13 inches) for your granola by lining it with waxed paper lightly sprayed with a nonstick spray.

Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

By now, your grains and nuts should be toasted, so mix everything together in a large bowl. The grains, the liquid “glue,” and the dried fruit. Oh, and turn off your oven, because you’re finished with it now.

Mix everything REALLY WELL because you want to make sure the “glue” gets all over everything. Now, dump your granola mixture into your prepared baking dish.

Spread out the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Now fold over the sides of the waxed paper or add a sheet on top, and PRESS HARD all over the granola. You want to compact it together so that your bars won’t fall apart when you cut them.

Wait 2-3 hours or until the granola has totally cooled.

Then, open the waxed paper …

And carefully turn the granola onto a large cutting board, peeling away the rest of the paper. Firmly pressing down with a big knife (not sawing), cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like.

I wrapped ours individually in plastic wrap, so that we could just throw one into our bag or lunch box in the morning. If you’d like to save on packaging though, you can store yours in an airtight container, between sheets of waxed paper (so they don’t stick together).

Enjoy!


As usual, this recipe proved more of a jumping off point than an actual set of followed directions... I'll explain my changes and how they went below.

1) 2/3 cup sugar seemed like a LOT of sugar for me, so I cut it back to maybe 1/3 cup.

2) Knowing the above substitution would make the bars more soft, I added 1/3-1/2 c. peanut butter as a binder. I also have been trying to boost my protein. I cut out the butter since I get the greasy all-nut kind that has lots of peanut oil on the top.

3) I don't really like peanuts, so I used almonds instead. (Renee, you could easily cut out the nuts totally without any problem and replace them with yummy seeds or fruit.)

4) I didn't have any wheat germ, but I did throw in whatever else was in the fridge: ground flax seed, millet, sesame seeds, craisins, raisins, sunflower seeds, and even some protein powder.

Mine turned out chewy, not hard, but pleasantly firm. Even after sitting in a hot car they hang together well enough to eat as a bar. I cut them into bar size, but next time I will cut them in thirds because these suckers are RICH and filling. My boys love love love them. Jed calls them "cookie" and Michael takes them with him on his bike rides to and from work. Let me know how yours turn out!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Living Room


Just for random, a Jed's eye view.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pancake Friday

Every Friday, we have sourdough pancakes for breakfast. Jed likes to dip his pancakes. His hair sticks up just like his daddy's. And he LOVES the camera! video

Blocks

Jed wants to be a photographer just like his daddy.




Thursday, April 23, 2009

Toddler Toes


Busy Jed is nearly impossible to photograph, as he flows in perpetual motion. But who can resist trying to photograph those toddler toes, fresh out of the bath.

My Boys



Jed and Michael at the wedding last month. So handsome!

Road Trip Ruminations

I just ran across this half-finished post, taken from a letter I wrote to an online friend asking about road trips with a toddler. It's a little old, but I thought I'd put it on here anyway, for my own reference as much as anyone else's! Any other good toddler car trip tips?

I just got back from my first cross-country road trip, 25 weeks pregnant, withmy 2 year old Jed. I traveled with my mother in law, 16 hours the first day and8 the second on the way there, a similar schedule on the way back.

I did pretty much everything mentioned thus far except we don't have a DVD player. I was really surprised how much time we could use through the flat, boring midwest looking out the window for cows and trains and trucks. We sang "wheels on the bus" and "abcs" like ten thousand times and he loved it (usually he doesn't get into songs much yet, but in a quiet, enclosed place it was surprisingly fun.)

I bought a five dollar "preschool" kids activity book full of pictures of farms and animals and such at Walmart. He'd never had anything like that before. I didn't let him see it until the trip and he LOVED scribbling on the pages and looking at all of the animals. That book alone occupied several hours. I saved it until later in the day when he was more cranky. Ditto the sticker idea (dollar store animal stickers, or even just the colored dots for garage sales) We also did a lot of drawing on his little whiteboard (washable markers, clean with wet wipes or a damp washcloth), which is usually a church-only special toy so that made it exciting. Also, pipe cleaners are fun to make animals, shapes, jewelry, hoops, etc. out of.

I brought a little handmade flannel "treasure bag" (about 5"x5" square with a handle)that occasionally I would fill up with various little toys (small animals, cars, coins, stuffed toys, snacks, whatever). Nothing fancy or new, but just the idea of fresh toys and pulling them out of the bag was novel enough. I would also pick up plastic spoons, straws, tourist pamphlets, etc. at stops along the way to put in as treasures.

I brought an extra large cookie sheet that fit across his car seat that he could use as a desk, drawing board, sorting tray, or snack tray. It was a HUGE lifesaver and I would never travel without it again! He loved sorting his treasures on it. Next time I'm investing in some cheap magnets and bolts and such to play with on it, too. Having a little desk made him much more self sufficient and saved my pregnant back from bending down and around the seats to pick up things every three minutes.

I did buy some packaged "junk" food that was special and exciting for him for later in the day. 100% fruit juice in a juice box with a straw was like the most thrilling thing ever for him. I froze them and admit I ate a few myself, so cool and tasty after hours and hours of travel! Corn nuts, vegetable chips, raisins, nuts, homemade muffins, whole wheat bagels with cream cheese, even afew Gogurts (SUCH a hit) etc. Snacking took up a large amount of time and he loved sorting the food on his tray.

I brought a little ball to throw around at rest stops along the way. He loved that. Also, small pillows and blankets for everyone. Lots of hide and peek going on across Kansas.

I second the disposable diapers. We use cloth at home but a long trip is a whole different game.

We did have a real problem when he refused the sleep the whole first day, then took a short nap, then stayed up ALL NIGHT hyper from all the change and exhaustion. The way home, I tried a different tack. We woke up early, did alot of running around at stops, and then after an early afternoon stop we had a little talk about "quiet time" and how everyone was going to be quiet and rest and not talk and he should take a nap. We got in, I gave him a little snack, a blanket, and a stuffed kitty. His grandma and I went in the front seat and plugged in our ipods and didn't talk to each other or him for a little while. Turned the blower on high for white noise. And, much to my shock, he actually went right to sleep. So that might be helpful.

I pack an "overnight bag" that had just the things we would need at the hotel -- pajamas, toothbrush, books, etc. If you could afford it, I would totally pay extra for a hotel with an indoor pool to go unwind in. Especially since you're taking a couple days to make the trip. The first night of our trip I didn't factor in how important decompression would be. The second time, we did the whole at-home wind down, including exploring the room, hot bath, warm milk, favorite books, snuggling, stuffed animals go night night, etc. and our night was immeasurably better.

Wow, this ended up being really long, but I've been wanting to get this all written down for my own benefit, anyway. I've done a lot of flying with my toddler in the past, and feel like Jed and I have an awesome flying routine down. Now that we can't afford it, though, learning how to car trip was a whole new experience. Good luck and I hope hope hope you have so much fun!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Male Child

video

No explanation needed.

(PS - Aren't you glad I finally found my little camera charger so I can post videos again!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mechanic's Assistant

Michael, bless his handy soul, saves us SO much money on car repairs! For years, our old Honda has done this weird on and off thing where it won't start when it gets too hot. After being stranded at work several times in the past week, and missing a doctor's appointment today, Michael finally figured it out! Today he went in and replaced the main relay. Jed, naturally, hovered over, around, and occasionally on top of Dad as his primary assistant.

I should have some nice photos when M downloads his camera, but for now here's a video of Dad's chief assistant. video

Jed's Bedtime Routine

I snuck into Michael's email box and ran across this account of Jed's bedtime routine. Jed spent the night at his grandparent's Saturday night and Michael sent this to them so they could knock him out effectively. Every night, nearly without exception, Jed and Michael go through Daddy's magic bedtime ritual. All I hear are giggles and whispers from behind the closed door, muffled singing, and a few minutes later a very rumpled and grinning husband creeping out from the darkened room.


"First we take a bath, then we say "Do you want some Milky?" and he says "Yes!" And then we both go get into bed while someone microwaves some milk. While he drinks the milk we read books, when we are done with the milk, we pause the book reading to brush his teeth (just right there in bed) and then we have him take a couple drinks of water to clear everything out. Right now he is doing this thing where he will lock his lips up tight, and he wants you to play "knock knock" on his lips. You can also tickle his chin, and the underside of his nose, and that usually gets him to open up. Once the toothbrushing is done, we read a couple more books, and then when the last one comes up, we tell him that, and once that is done, and closed, we start singing I am a Child of God, and Teach me to walk. That's usually all we have to do. We rest with him for probably about 20 minutes and he is usually out by about that time."

Friday, April 17, 2009

At the Park

Warm sunshine, eighty degrees, Dad, a ball, and a park. video

Boy or Girl?

Tonight after dinner, I sat back in my chair and laid my hands on my big belly to feel the baby kick. I asked Jed what he thought the baby would be, a boy or a girl? He gave the exact same answer he gave the last time I asked him:

"A girl. And is a cow or a horsie!"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Springtime Play

While babysitting our friend's kids this past week, Michael took some pictures of them playing outside.

Jed and Mylee are both two years old, though Mylee is a good nine months older. Boy, did Jed love having a little twin sister for a few days! Those two are double trouble, all right. They spent a large portion of the time barking orders at one another and then shouting "NO!" in response. Finally, someone who can give Jed a taste of his own medicine!

On the slide.

Up in the playhouse.

On the trampoline.

Jackson (9) showing off his mad skillz. He's a crazy flipper, that boy, and astonishingly good at not killing his younger siblings.


Mylee's trampoline head! So amazing!


(No photos of Lance, he was away at soccer practice during our shoot.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Third Trimester to Me!

Today, we're officially on the final lap! Baby Z's bigger and badder than ever, with kicks and flumps galore. I feel slightly freaked out because July sounds awfully soon, and there's so much to do! Soon we'll be a family of four!

For practice, this week Michael and I are house and babysitting for our friends over at the TayTeam. Brad and Ie Mei took the cute little fat one with them and left us these three crazy ones.



Yep, I'm fill-in-mom for two bounty hunters and cat-herder for two bouncing 2-year-olds. Wheeeeee!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Coloring

Ahhh, Spring!


INC163-173-KYC101-022230-
/O.CON.KPAH.TO.W.0027.000000T0000Z-090402T2230Z/
VANDERBURGH IN-WARRICK IN-HENDERSON KY-
459 PM CDT THU APR 2 2009

...A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 530 PM CDT FOR
SOUTHWESTERN WARRICK AND EAST CENTRAL VANDERBURGH COUNTIES IN
SOUTHWEST INDIANA...AND EASTERN HENDERSON COUNTY IN NORTHWEST
KENTUCKY...

AT 457 PM CDT...TRAINED WEATHER SPOTTERS REPORTED
SEEING WALL CLOUDS AND FUNNEL CLOUDS NEAR ALCOA
AND NEWBURGH. TAKE COVER NOW! RADAR SHOWED THIS
TORNADIC STORM WAS LOCATED NEAR NEWBURGH...MOVING NORTH
AT 30 MPH.

[Just to clarify, we live in Newburgh.
Michael's mom lives right near Alcoa.
I especially love the comforting exclamation point after
"Take Cover Now!" Yeehah! Love my basement!]

Cozy

Jed, in his favorite spot tucked between the foot board and the bed.