April 23, 2012

Sneak Peek of Summer

We got a little sneak peek of summer the past several days with temperatures in the low 90s. Compared to the days of 70 degrees before that it felt HOT, but made for a great reason to get the pool out and spend a lazy weekend swimming and eating watermelon, or both at the same time in Audrey's case.

We did manage to get a little work done also. Audrey helped me plant our garden at the end of last week. She took putting the seeds into the ground extremely seriously!

We planted beans and mini-romaine lettuce. After doing some very quick and very rough mental math I figured on the day we planted these we had about 70 days until we move. The lettuce will be no problem, we should be able to start harvesting in about 40 days, but the beans, well the package says 74 days. I might be pushing my luck a little. Or a lot. We'll see. But I just had to plant more than lettuce, plus I really want to make some more dilly beans. We have one just one jar left and I am basically hoarding it.

Have you planted a garden yet this year? Please do it for me so I can vicariously live through you. I've pretty much already begged everyone I know to plant an extra tomato plant for me so I can make more sauce this year.

April 19, 2012

Completely Unrelated Thoughts

1. Recently I've stumbled on some new food blogs that are AMAZING. Serious knock-your-socks-off material. Both Yammie's Noshery and How Sweet It Is have become two of my favorite daily reads. Definitely check them out.

2. The whole potty training thing seems to be working. She's only had two accidents in the last three days! We've even ventured out of the house several times without any mishaps.

3. This kale salad is definitely my new favorite thing. In fact we made homemade donuts last night (a totally glutenous move after having already made and consumed homemade fried chicken) and as the fresh, warm donuts were sitting on the counter I was sneaking bites of leftover kale salad out of the refrigerator. Sickening, I know. I could seriously eat it everyday, and have been.

4. We got our house plans back from the designer. It is so fun to see our ideas drawn up so perfectly. We still have a couple of small changes to make, but we are one step closer to getting this project underway.

5. Did you see this post from The Painted Hive? I totally and completely plan on copying her. Genius idea, right?

April 17, 2012

Becoming a Hippie

I've always been a "smart shopper," seeking out the best deals, buying in bulk, shopping at large chain retailers and for the most part, I've been satisfied with that. I came to accept that the produce at such stores can sometimes seem less than fresh and that you have to look closely at expiration dates, but hello, I was saving money. Lots of it. Sometimes, just for fun, I would go to the local co-op or wander through the Farmer's Market, I loved everything about going to those places, the fresh produce, the milk in glass jugs, the friendliness; but inevitably I would always think to myself, "I can't believe someone would pay _____ for a _______ (insert item)". In the end it always came down to money for me. 

Recently that has all changed. Not because we are making any more money than we were before, we're not, but because I've become more aware of what is happening with our food system. You can blame the documentaries, we've been on a kick watching them lately, but really I think this has been a long time in coming.

This is about supporting the small, local farmer, and knowing what is in our food and where it came from. It's about eating less processed junk that doesn't do us any good. It's about teaching our kids (no, I'm not pregnant, I'm speaking about our collective kids, I'm on a bit of a soapbox here, go with me) what real food is and how it should taste. It's about sustainability and treating animals, even if you plan to eat them, humanely. It's about supporting businesses that treat their employees well. It's about keeping our planet from turning into one big trashcan. It's about our health.

So we are making some changes around here. Not only are we changing our mindset, but we are also letting ourselves be a little less frugal in exchange for better food. Sure it costs more and right now we could use every penny we have, but we think this is important. To compensate our portion sizes are a little smaller, and probably more appropriate, and we aren't eating meat as the centerpiece of our meal each night. And we are taking this just one step at a time. Last week we bought our first dozen of local, cage-free eggs and most of our vegetables at the co-op. Maybe next week I'll buy our milk there too.

One benefit I didn't foresee when we started this was how much more I would enjoy the food we prepared. Not only are the flavors better because we are better food and what is in season, but the food feels special, like it is a treat. More than ever before we are not just eating up our leftovers, but really enjoying them.

Along with the change in our eating and shopping habits, I'm going to be giving this little blog a bit of a makeover as well. So please bare with me if you see links appearing and disappearing and a few wonky things over the next several days. Hopefully I'll get it all ironed out soon. 

April 16, 2012

Happy Monday!

We spent most of our weekend here...

 ... ok, well not really there, that isn't our bathroom, although I wish it was. Our bathroom is more like a tiny box with a toilet, a builder grade sink, and a light that takes five minutes to get bright after you switch it on, trust me when I say you aren't missing out by not seeing a picture of it. However you might be missing out by not getting to see a picture of how cute Audrey looks sitting on the toilet with her leg warmers on, but I just could not do that to her. This is the internet after all and I know that I for one am glad that there aren't any pictures of myself sitting on a toilet floating around somewhere in cyberspace.

Anyway, point is we spent a lot of time in the bathroom this weekend. Potty training. I would love to say it was a complete and total success, but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. Little miss is definitely on her way to a diaper free world, but still needs a bit more practice. I'm crossing my fingers for even more successes today. 

How did you spend your weekend?

April 13, 2012

Photo Friday: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (and Busses too!)

We flew up to Portland last weekend to celebrate Easter with my family. Audrey LOVED all of the different modes of transportation that flying involved; the car to the airport, the bus to the terminal, the train to the gate, and of course the plane. She was literally running, fake-jumping (her feet never leave the ground), and shouting "Hooray, big airplane" as we were boarding. Luckily her excitement never wore off and she traveled like a champ. Unfortunately however, we were also able to confirm (after the bus ride back to the car on the way home) that she definitely gets carsick. Anyone else have a carsick toddler? Any advice?

Have a great weekend!

April 11, 2012

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Today we officially become land owners! As with most things, the process took many times longer than we expected, but now we are anxious to start getting our hands dirty.

First things first we need to put in driveway access. Hopping over the neighbors barbed wire fence anytime we want to get on the property just doesn't seem like a good long term option.

Plus, we took our plans to a designer a couple weeks ago to have them drawn up officially and should be getting them back any day now. I can't wait to see how they turned out. 

April 10, 2012

A Must Try Recipe: Tuscan Kale Salad

I tried kale for the first time just last year and loved it. Since then though I've only used it a handful of times, mostly in pasta dishes. Although I love the flavor and texture I didn't really know what else to do with it.

Which is why I was so excited when I came across this recipe from True Food Kitchen for Tuscan Kale Salad. We tried it last night. It was delicious. The texture is perfect, the dressing is light with a hit of spiciness, and the recipe is easy. A total winner in my book. You should definitely give it a try.

April 6, 2012

Photo Friday

This picture was such a happy accident. I was sitting right next to Audrey and she wanted me to keep taking photos. So I held the camera up and clicked a few more times to make her happy, I wasn't even looking through the viewfinder. And I am so glad I did. I just love this.

Happy Good Friday to everyone and have a wonderful Easter weekend!

April 5, 2012

Roasted Broccoli and Carrots

I have this neighbor named Cate. She is pretty great and completely hilarious. I will be sad when we move and can't just walk two doors down to be at her house. She has become one of my closest friends. On top of all that our daughters absolutely adore each other. They are just shy of three months apart and couldn't be better friends. Ryan, Cate's daughter, calls Audrey, "Audoo" and Audrey calls Ryan, "Rynning". It's pretty adorable. They ask for each other constantly. We were even at the store the other day and Audrey picked up two little plastic spray bottles. I told her she didn't need one, let alone two and she said, "No, one Audrey, one Rynning."  Cute, right?

Anyway, none of that has anything to do with vegetables. Well, it does in the fact that Cate was the first to make these for us and we are now officially hooked.

The idea is basic and you could do it with any vegetable, but carrots and broccoli is currently our favorite combo. The carrots become so sweet and the broccoli is simply out of this world. It gets crispy and has this amazing roasted, nutty flavor. Oh my, I could go on and on about this stuff, it is that good. Trust me, you just have to try it.

And while you could definitely use kosher salt, and I have before, I think this Grey Celtic Sea Salt takes it over the top (another tip from Cate).

The trick is to roast these nice and hot so the vegetables get crispy. You want them to get brown, just on the verge of looking burnt.

Here is how simple it really is: Preheat the oven to 475F. Toss the vegetables in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. And then enjoy some of the best vegetables ever.

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April 4, 2012

Our First House Purchase

We made a purchase for our new house a couple of weeks ago. Actually our very first purchase, because technically we haven't even closed on the land yet. We found four of these beautiful old glass french doors at a used building supply store and couldn't pass them up.

They are slightly narrower than a standard door and almost eight feet tall. Two of them will be used in our dining area and two will be used in the family room, one on each side of a fireplace, all four will lead out to a covered porch on the back of the house.

The handles that were on the outsides of the door have a beautiful patina to them, while the handles on the inside are still a gold color. I plan on patina-ing (completely made up that word) the gold side to, cross my fingers, match the outside.

Currently one side of each door is a light green and the other is a white. I will refinish them, but am still not sure what color. White or black seem like the most obvious choices. Honestly, I think black would be awesome, but I'm getting a little resistance on it.

I can't wait to see them in the space. I think they are going to be beautiful and love the character they will add.

April 3, 2012

Monterey Bay

For our anniversary last year we were given tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. One of my favorite places to visit. A few weeks ago we decided it was finally time to use them. We were not disappointed. Monterey is such a fun town to visit. We spent the first evening there walking along the wharf and watching the sea lions. Audrey even got to try her first taste of caramel apple, I think it may be a new favorite for her.

The next day we made our way to the aquarium. Audrey was fascinated by the fish. She was nearly falling asleep on her feet when we finally left and even still she didn't want to leave.

We had such a great time and it was so nice to get away for a night. We will definitely be visiting again soon.