Friday, February 28, 2014

Weddington Line

When Ian received his Melissa and Doug wooden train set for his birthday, it came with a set of design layouts on paper. Those lasted for all of a day before Elsie destroyed them. So now, when I come up with a track that I think is pretty nifty, I'm going to post it on here. Not so you can look at it and marvel over my ingenuity, but so on a day when I am brain dead, I can pull it up and re-make it. I am also kind of excited because I can give them fun names. The kid in me is having a ball with this. Probably more than Ian is. 

Just for anyone who might want to make these for their little boy, the OCD part of me tries to make sure that you can leave the station either left or right and make a full circuit. I also hate it when you can't turn around so I try to have some switchbacks. If I use any exit ramps, I try to make sure the train has somewhere to go after it leaves the track. Big deal, right? But these are the kind of things that bother the brain of Leah. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chicken Soup With Rice

When most people hear the name Maurice Sendak, they immediately think of the classic Where The Wild Things Are or Little Bear, on which he was illustrator. He is a prominent author and illustrator who has received world wide acclaim for his work, but my favorite of his writings is Chicken Soup With Rice. It is a short poem about eating chicken soup in every month of the year. In my opinion, a truly great book. But don't take my word for it! My own children love this book. I read it to Lillie every night for almost two years. Ian has now taken it to heart and it is the first book he pulls off the shelf at bedtime. What it is about this book, I don't really know. Maybe it is the charming illustrations. Maybe it is the soothing rhyme pattern, almost like a Sherman brothers song. Maybe it is the silly concept of the storyline. Whatever it is, preschool kids will sit and listen to this book over and over and over again. After all, that really is the highest accolade you can give a children's book.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Valentine Dinner Spaghetti

This is my menu for our Valentine's Day dinner. By the way, if you look at the word Spaghetti long enough, it stops making any sense.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes (I estimate 3 tomatoes equals one can)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 4 oz mushrooms (if can, drain first)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti

1.  Cook ground beef in a large skillet, stirring to crumble it into very small pieces. Drain fat.

2. Add remaining ingredients except the spaghetti. Simmer for about an hour.

3. Boil spaghetti to al dente stage. 

4. Serve with sauce. And in my household, some small curd cottage cheese dolloped on top. 

Garlic Bread
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened (if you are smart, you will have set the cheese out 30 min ago)
  • 1 loaf Italian bread, split lengthwise

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Saute garlic in butter. DO NOT BURN. I speak from experience.

3. Mix garlic and butter with cream cheese. This will take some elbow grease. 

4. Spread bread liberally with mixture. Lay face open on cookie sheet and tent with foil. Bake 15 minutes. For crustier bread, remove foil last 5 minutes. But let's be honest, who doesn't want crustier bread? 

Two great entrees for one of those bleak winter evenings when your hibernation instincts are shouting for hot, comforting food that will keep you full for hours to come.
Great as a leftover but we never really have any. *wink*

Strawberry Shortcake
All of the prep prior to the actual assembly can be done before dinner.

  • 2 4-count packages round shortcakes - I really do wish I could say I made these from scratch but maybe next year.
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 Cup sugar plus 1 tbsp sugar
1. Dice strawberries into small mixing bowl. Sprinkle with tsp sugar. Cover with saran wrap and place in fridge so they start to juice.

2. Pour whipping cream into medium mixing bowl. Add vanilla and remaining sugar. Mix with electric blender on high speed till stiff peaks form. This means that if you turn off the mixer and lift out the beaters, they pull the cream up behind them into peaks and the peaks don't immediately fall back down. 

3. Cover with saran wrap and place in fridge till ready to assemble shortcakes. 

4. Place one round shortcake in the middle of your prettiest salad plate. Pile on strawberries then top with whipping cream. Delicious! 

Our salad was bagged because I stink at making salads. Just ask my long suffering husband. It is not my strong suit. If you end up trying out one of these recipes, please come back and let me know! I would love to hear what you thought about them.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Blank Slate

 Two years ago, after we moved up here, I started a big to-do on Valentines Day. No one in our family lives close enough to invite over for dinner and a babysitter isn't in our budget, so the dinner was born out of a desire to make it a special evening for the kids and for ourselves. I love this holiday because there are few strings attached. No endless amounts of gifts to buy for others, food to cook, celebrations to attend, weekend-long visitations with family and friends. Not that these things are bad, but after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, we are burnt out. It is a small holiday. You can make of it what you will. A blank slate.

Our traditional dinner is spaghetti with cottage cheese (if you have never combined the two, you are missing out), garlic cream cheese bread, salad and strawberry shortcake. I like it because it is quick and easy and everyone will eat it willingly without crying.

Here are some photos of our evening. It was worth all the time and effort when Lillie sat down to supper and sighed "It is so beautiful Mommy. Like a fairyland." Ah, to have the eyes of a child again.

Fairy Chains

Love Notes

Valentine holder we made at Lowe's.

 We tried on the sticky mustache Lillie received at her school party. (Please avert your eyes from Ian's mouth. I tried to get a photo with his mouth shut but he couldn't contain himself when he had the 'stache on.)

 David is wonderfully cute here.

Waiting not so patiently till they can open their valentines.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Catch Phrase

I have found a new all purpose saying.

As a mom, sometimes you need a phrase to fill in a void. You know what I mean.

Presenting the newly coined

"Pop my biscuits!"

It really is wonderful. For example...

"Hurry up before I pop my biscuits!"

"Well, pop my biscuits. I forgot to floss again."

"Pop! My! Biscuits! The pig is loose!!!"

"Don't pop your biscuits, we'll be there soon."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A week in the life of Us.

 Ian made himself comfortable on the top bunk bed listening to Veggie Tales.

We had ANOTHER heavy snowfall. 

Hot chocolate is heavenly after being outside in the snow. 

Elsie was perturbed because she didn't get to go outside. 

Sir. Leans-A-Lot (that was David's moniker for him after a few days of sunshine)
We called him Lumpy.

Watching Peep and the Big Wide World on a single digit degree day.

They had a hat day. We rotated between cowboy hats, these hats and pirate hats. 

Elsie found Lillie's Mardi Gra glasses from last school year's spirit week.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Grandma Green's Whole Wheat Bread - Edition 2

So there seems to be more than one bread recipe out there. As most of us know, Grandma does not cook from a recipe, she cooks from memory so when she gives you her method for making bread, it can change from month to month. But it is well worth the chase, since her bread is MOUTH-WATERING good. No exaggeration. This is the recipe my sister Rachel got from Grandma, with a few additions that Rachel added herself (in blue).

                                          Grandma Green's Whole Wheat Bread - Edition 2

  •  6 Cups water
  •  Approximately 13 Cups flour
  •  2/3 Cups honey or sugar                                        
  •  2/3 Cup oil
  •  4 tsp salt                                                                  
  •  3 pkg yeast

1. Get water warm out of tap and place in large stock pot. Add honey, salt and yeast. Stir till yeast is dissolved. 

2. Add 5 Cups of flour. Rachel recommended Gold Medal White Whole Wheat Flour. Cover and let sit for half hour. 

3. Add oil. Gradually add remaining flour. Stir. Dump dough out on floured cookie sheet and knead approximately 10 minutes. Rachel said she never make it that long. 

4. Place back in stock pot and let rise until doubled. Before covering with towel, moisten top of dough with water. 

5. Punch dough down then let it rise again. Same thing with the water. 

6. Divide dough into 3 equal parts and place in generously greased loaf pans. Let rise 5 minutes. 

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. While oven is pre-heating, add a pan of water to keep the air inside of the oven moist, then remove when you add the loaf pans. Slightly moisten the top of the loaves before baking and make sure to score the top before baking as well. 

I made a batch today and they are golden and hot and yummy and my house smells amazing.