Sweet Potato Chili

Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking. Meg, it’s boiling outside and you’re making chili? Well, sure. Some people enjoy spicy stuff when it’s hot! I’m not usually one of those people, but when I tasted this recipe, I didn’t give a nugget what the temp outside was, if ya know what I’m sayin’.

We’re still doing pretty well with our M-F no-meat challenge, and while I made a veggie chili awhile back which used bulgur wheat, I wasn’t a fan. I guess I don’t NEED the meat texture, be it from real meat or something that’s trying hard to resemble meat. This, however, is worth sharing. It’s got some heat but has definite sweetness. And throw in whatever you want – I suggest a handful of frozen corn, which occurred to me after the fact. 

Sweet Potato Chili
(Serves about 6-8; I doubled the couple of recipes I worked from)
Olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, diced (with or without skin, just scrub them)
1 lg. onion, diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 28 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
Salt ‘n pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 – 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. cumin
2 tbsp. chili powder
1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper 
3+/- cups vegetable stock

Chop it all up! In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium and add first 6 ingredients, cooking for 8 minutes or until onion is soft (stir occasionally). Add spices and stock and cook for 20-30 minutes. Add the canned items and allow to cook for 10 more minutes, give or take.

Serve with avocado, cheese, plain yogurt and lime (or whatever you have on hand – be creative!). As with most recipes, taste – if you need more spice, add more; just don’t add too much since you can’t take it out once it’s in there! Enjoy!! We sure did. (And still are!)

(BTDubs, my iPhone pics are only worth their salt if I don’t upsize them…so, this is whatchya get today. Sorry…but have a great weekend! ;-))

Egg Salad, Storms and BumGeniuses

Day 2 of summer vacation (excluding weekends) and we’re hangin’ in there. We’ve had storms (and pretty insane ones) since Sunday, to the point where there were mudslides not far from my school and they’re still in a state of emergency. So, yeah, I’ve got no complaints. Except lunch. #firstworldproblems #imlucky

You might not think so, but there are some challenges figuring out what to do for lunch when you’re not working all summer. Sure, it’s tough to figure out lunches for work, but it’s so easy to fall into a dangerously unhealthy habit. During the year, you get into the swing of things and figure out what works for you — namely, planning. Either taking leftovers or always having a couple of go-to lunches in the event that leftovers are lacking.

I’m used to eating small snacks throughout the day (with one main “meal-like” item like leftover pasta or a sandwich). In the summer, especially chasing a very active 11 1/2 month-old around, it’s easy to forget to, well, eat. So, while I don’t quite get in the same snacks as before, I’m trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy (not just with lunches, but more on that in a moment). I’m buying some of the same stuff that I usually gobble up whilst working — organic cheese sticks, yogurt, peanut butter, fruit (the first two (and maybe fruit) are sharable with the munchkin, woohoo!), but I realized a food item that went something like this —

clouds part

rays of sunshine stream into the house

voices of unseen angels begin to sing

I am suddenly struck with the oh-so-simple idea…
Egg salad.

Ha. Yeah, I just did that. Don’t question, just come along for the ride.

For some very, very strange reason, the ladies in my family (namely my mama and deceased grandmother…possibly my sis) have this thing for egg salad sandwiches. I’ve had quite possibly a thousand in my lifetime. Yeah, Grandma made them A LOT…and we spent time at her house A LOT. So, thanks to my ever-present idolization of the past, there’s a certain way I must eat an egg salad.

1. Toasted bread. But not too toasted. That painful crunch of a too-brown piece of bread? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

2. No frills. Mayo + hard boiled egg (this is the part I have a hard time with, particularly cooking it enough so that it’s not “soft boiled” and the damn shell not taking half the whites with it) + salt ‘n peppa (not the singing group). No cayenne. No olives. None of that crap. Again…nobody got time….

3. Sides. Now, if I want to admit it, I’m not being a complete purist. Sometimes I use wheat bread and, in the case these days, generally a peasant bread (from our local bakery, Heidelberg). Back in the day, it was squishy soft bread (again, often toasted…what the?! Occasionally the squishy soft worked well with the egg salad, but it was nuts not to toast it at any. Possible. Opportunity.). Also, to be honest, we had a stack o’ Pringles (ugh…if those aren’t modified, genetically and otherwise, I don’t know what is) and a hunk of Velveeta (again, modified to the hilt!). So, yeah. Those I don’t do. Sometimes, we’d have a pickle, so I hooked myself up with one today, but I DID partake in one “must-have.” I had me a nice mug o’ chocolate milk.

Side note: The Hadman is a fan of pickles. He literally crawled all over me to get a bite of the thing. Dave says that if this trend sticks, he takes after me. (We’re already discovering that, personality-wise lately. Poor thing. Poor us!)

So, all of the above will be happening this summer…lots. I may (vegetarian M-F be damned) even have a tuna sandwich from time to time, but egg salad will be my main go-to. Oh, and in case folks weren’t aware, we’re more focused on “real” food, sustainable/environmentally conscious decisions (the chickens that gave us these eggs, as often as we can get them, are pasture-raised and humanely treated)…and yumminess. Cholesterol? Fat content? We don’t believe calorie-counting is healthy. Being aware of your food and its sources is healthy.

Oh, and our weather lately has been ca-ray-zee! It’s uber hot and humid, which is fine, but throw in some thunderstorm and flash flooding and…whew, let’s just say we’re very lucky to not be effected like others in the area. Bananas!

A second “oh, and” is that yesterday was our first day doing cloth dipes!! We’re dealing with a period of adjustment, so I’m apprehensive to say “it’s a complete success, I’m an idiot for waiting!” because I don’t quite feel that way yet. I’ve gotta get into the habit of changing him more (sucka leaks…and it’s not from the dipes, they’re doing great, he just produces piss like nobody’s business) and I feel like a monster ate half of my BumGeniuses. Need. More! Where’d they go?? Wiiiiinstoooonnn…you may THINK you’re the baby, but you’re not. Not literally, anyway.

But his butt is SOOO cute in them, especially after I’ve changed him and he doesn’t have anything else on. A 3/4 naked baby body + adorable diaper colors = cuteness overload. I’ll be back with an update after we’ve been at it for a week or so.

BTW, sorry for the loopiness and…wait, let me check. Yes. Yes, there was mild swearing. Sorry for that! Next’ll be better, promise!

Summatime, Summatime, Sum-Sum-Summatime

After a full weekend o’ fun, here we are with our first true day of summer vacation upon us. Quite awhile ago, I deemed today to be a lazy day — the only goal is to schlep Hadley over to our local farmers’ market, weather permitting. That’s. It. Hang out in bed watching Daniel Tiger? Take super long naps if Hadley wants? (Mama included.) Get zero work done around the house?

We’ll see if I actually allow it to be a lazy day or not. Only time will tell!

Friday, I posted this run-down of my summer plans —

Isn’t she purdy? I’m back with an explanation to the fun. ‘Cuz, y’know… I’m like that. Oh, and the more I think about it, there are about half a dozen extras to throw on there, but I’ll leave it with the original 19 for now. The longer the list, the more pressure (read: less fun!) you’ve got. So, here we go! (Those not listed are kind of self-explanatory.)

1. I’ve already started some of this. I got home Friday and went about in a whirlwind (until I sucked a sock up the vacuum’s tube. Way to stop a girl in her tracks, damn dust bunny sock!!) Storing clothes that don’t fit the baby or myself (and starting a bag to donate), cutting back on the number of bottles we have that aren’t being used…stuff like that. A big goal is the office, since that’s the place where some of my other goals will come to fruition, and Dave deserves a clear space to create a clear mind.

2. My mom has rented a camp for a week this summer, and I’m ecstatic about it. Different family members will be there any given day, and we may or may not stay for numerous days — but it’s close enough to home so that one of us can stop in with laundry and to check on the cats. I am SO ready to get my Thoreau on!

3. Mom has mentioned that, while camping, she’d like to go up to the Adirondack Museum, which is a place that she and I would spend ALL of our time, if possible. I’m ecstatic to get Dave there (he’s never been!) and that it’s baby stroller friendly. There is SOOOOO much to see and do, and several buildings set up by theme (a building about occupations in the Adirondacks, another area on Native Americans, still another on boats…that sounds lame, but it’s SO COOL!), PLUS if Hadman gets cranky, it’s easy to shuffle him out to the pathways and picnicking areas.

The Eric Carle Museum is another “must” since we’re looking to take a quick overnight trip to Massachusetts at some point. We’re excited to go just to see the place and what it’s all about (I mean…it’s Eric Carle!!), but we’re particularly stoked since they’ve got lots of Mo Willems activities and an exhibit of his artwork happening this summer. Considering he’s our “family author/illustrator”, it’s a given. We. Must. Go.

Ah, and I didn’t mention it here, but our local museum (I’m not sure if it’s considered a cultural center or what…I know I do), Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute has an Andy Warhol exhibit all summer. Seriously, in Utica. While this one’s mostly for Mommy and Daddy, I’d really like to see if Hadley has any reaction to the brightly-colored images and pop art. Heck, he goes NUTS for certain book illustrations. We shall see!

4. BO-RIIIIIING. But I’ll probably blog about it if I do it. You lucky, lucky people.

5. Gotta stick my feet in some sand. It’s been a LONG while. Plus, I know the PERFECT place to bring a little one. Can’t wait to see how it goes and share!

6. I don’t think we cracked the thing open once last year. (Dave says we did, but I’m not buying it.) And now that he’s decided to try to find a CSA (that might, just might accept latecomers) it’ll be awesome to have veggies to grill. And it isn’t summer without a grilled pizza, folks.

7. Slowly, slowly, said the Sloth. That’s my new nickname.

8. Not much to add.

9. We’ve got some buddies in Mass who are expecting, and still others that we just haven’t caught up with. Honestly, we miss them, like, everyday. It’s like being away from family. And, the last time we saw them was when Dave went out for a conference — Hadley and I missed out! So, I’ve got withdrawal.

To top that off, I’m hoping to drag my guys further eastward (not all the way to Boston — not this year, at least) to hit up my version of “the happiest place on Earth” — Concord. *happy sigh*

10. Garden + Potted Herbs + Possible CSA Purchase = New Recipes

11. Probably not organic. We shall deal. Hand-in-hand with this goes FIRE PIT!!! Probably whilst camping.

12. Too early to bring a baby to see wild creatures? We shall see!!

13. Getting this underway already. I had a very random, very welcome invitation to have a girlie get-together with one of Dave’s friends (which, strangely enough, is how I’ve earned myself some of the best friends…love that!) and a fire was lit. I’m not very social (those who knew me in high school may be shocked to hear that now), so I need to push my head out of my shell once in awhile.

14. Mentally. SOOOOO in need of this. Lots of self-analysis and figurin’ life out. I don’t expect to accomplish nirvana by the end of the summer, but y’know…a little every day. 😉

15. A magazine. A book. The back of a cereal box. ANYTHING. I’ve got at least four stacks next to the bed. I don’t have to read them all. Just one. Is that too much to ask?

16. Sounds nuts? Well, I’ve already started. I have at least three complete stories floating around in my head; just gotta put pen to paper. One is underway. The REAL challenge lies in the “now what?” once the story’s written. Self-illustrate? Self-publish? What next?

17. Given!

18. Woot, woot! Workin’ on it. And, didn’t I jinx myself??? Staples has been a royal PITA. Oh, well. Homey’s rollin’ wit da punches. 

19. This actually means that I want to get Hadley outside this summer. Currently, he’s a tad leery of those sharp little blades of grass, even when wearing pants and sitting on a blanket. (I guess they pierce through. How dare they!) So, I’d like to get him over this, even if it’s just heading outside and playing with it more, or playing ON it more. He will hold onto loose blades that I pick up for him and seems to enjoy it. I know this won’t always be an issue, so I’m not obsessing about it. It’ll just be nice to have a kid who enjoys nature.

So, that’s generally what I’ve got in mind for summer vacation. I’m sure we’ll do more than this; heck, we may do LESS than this. Either way, it’ll all be about enjoying life as a family. So, even if you don’t have a vacation (or if your vacation will only last a few days), what will you be doing to enjoy the summer? Any trips? Grilling? Naming your baby after a direction?

Summer Lovin’

Psst. Not to blow the roof off the joint or anything, but…it’s summer. I’ll wait for the hooting and hollering to subside……..

Alrighty, it may not LOOK like I’m jumping up and down on my exterior (my exterior is still finishing up inventory today), and even my interior is going through the strange let-down of the usual end-of-year blahs, but let me tell you, I’ll get over that quickly. I’m ecstatic to be able to stay home — no summer school for me this year — with the little one and enjoy a slower pace.

So, while I finish cleaning up at work, allow me to share with you some of our summer plans. I’ll be back to explain them (I know they seem self-explanatory, and most of them are, but you know me…I like to elaborate!) next week. 

Until then, let me know — What are your plans for the summer? Will you be slaving away, or will you have a chance to take life a little slower? Traveling at all? Getting in touch with nature? Do tell!

They’re Aliiiiive!!!

About a week and a half ago, I *finally* got around to planting my seeds for the year. Yes, I’m starting from seed — what can I say, 2013 must be the year of bravery. (Or stupidity. Anyone’s guess.) And, unfortunately, between the craziness of life and the craziness of our weather, I was much later than I would’ve liked. Oh, well! If it doesn’t work, there’s always next year.

So, going into it with a can-do attitude, yet not expecting too much, imagine my delight when I saw these little babies spurting up in less than a week —

The rows look crooked, but it’s the angle…I should’ve rotated the pic. Just turn your head to the right.
See? Straighter. And raise your hand if you actually tilted your head.
Hey, there’s no shame! I’m doing it right now!

We’ve got several herbs in planters on the back deck (which I have yet to “deck out” for summer, mostly because I’m hoping to scrape, sand and paint the floor…with what time, I have no idea), and both raised boxes are full. If things don’t work out in the boxes, I’m considering trying for some late season veggies. 

Oh, and my mom was kind enough to give me a hanging planter (with dirt, wahoo!) to transplant my crazy strawberries. I know it’s a tad late (or early, depending on your zone) to transplant, but I’ll try it out. We’ve got crazy chipmunks and other little creatures who like to steal the berries before I get to them, so it might be worthwhile to hang ’em out of reach.

We were also gifted a Meyer lemon tree by Dave’s parents. We all ooooed and aaaahhhhhed over it when we saw it in a local nursery, but Dave and I decided not to purchase it after hearing (from a man who works there) that it’s a bit of a scam since they’re not meant to be grown in our area. Oops. Oh, well! Like with the rest of the plants, we’ll give it a try! I hate to say that the fruit is already shriveling in comparison to this picture (they ship them from Florida when the fruit’s starting to grow…man, what a racket), while all of the other plants seem to be thriving with our TONS of moisture followed by a random hot, sunny day or two, back to rain again.

It’ll be neat to see if it can handle our wackadoo weather patterns! And, I’m not gonna lie, I’d use the heck outta those lemons.

Oh, and one simple “note to self” (and any other newbies out there) when it comes to planting: WRITE $%&# DOWN!!! I planted after school one day and was only about 3/4 done before Dave came sauntering out back holding our little munchkin, so while I did get to finish, I then had to go into Mommy Mode, washing us up (the kid eats dirt — I’m one proud mama!), making dinner, and going through the rest of the motions. This meant that I, of course, totally forgot what I planted and where. Whoops. Doy.

I swear my intentions were there! I brought out my “handy-dandy…note-book!” (I miss Steve…the pre-I’ve-gotta-shed-my-squeaky-clean-image-Steve), ready to jot it down and everything. All I know is that I planted a few rows of radishes in the front box, between a few other vegetables, because they’re good for the soil (and I fondly remember eating them right out of my grandfather’s garden as a child). Now that I’m getting more sprouts (way more than the above photo), I’ll start figuring out what’s what and matching them to my packaging and my prior note-taking on what plants go with which other plants. And at least I have a pretty good eye for identifying seedlings. Whew!

So, once school is over and I’m able to breathe again, out to thin-thin-thin I go! And I was wicked relieved when Dave recently told me that, during a conversation with my stepdad (who’s pretty into his garden, along with my mom…we’re lucky, though, they get deer up the wazoo), he seemed genuinely, kindly impressed that we were starting by seed. I always thought they’d think, “That crazy daughter of mine…” Oh, and they had a friend who started his late and it was the best crop he’d ever had. Fingers crossed that it’s one of those kinds of summers.

And for those of you who haven’t already seen my favorite picture (as of late) plastered on Instagram and Facebook, here’s a shot of that night o’ digging (yes, I garden barefoot/with flip flops) —

Aaaaand proof of dirt-eating. That’s my boy.

Is it just me, or is that the cutest. Picture. EVER!?! Eh, I’m biased.

Anyone else hard at work trying to grow something — anything?! Do tell!

A Day for Fathers

The oh-so-recent recent Father’s Day holiday has always been a bittersweet one for me, and I assume for my family. While we live our lives in completely normal ways (normal is relative, of course), this time of the year always breaks me down a tad. Okay, sometimes more than a tad. I’m a freaking wreck.

I have two memories of Father’s Days past.

The first one involves sitting in our tiny chairs and desks in Mrs. Golembiowski’s third grade class, working hard on our gifts. Kids were sitting and talking about why their fathers were special, all clearly focusing on the person to whom their gifts would so lovingly be presented.

A handful of years prior, my father had passed away from melanoma. It was just shy of my fourth birthday, and though I was so young, I had some basic memories of him. When I figured out the meaning behind what had happened (namely, he was gone F-O-R-E-V-E-R), I mentally aged about twenty years. After that, I always felt slightly detached from my peers.

However, my heart was full of joy. While I don’t remember the gift we were making, I fully recall that I was excited to be giving it to my grandfather – “Grandpa Heidi.” I adored him more than any person I knew. If I could be a shadow, I’d be his. I still feel this way.

My thoughts were shattered by a sudden blunt question.

“Megan, why are YOU making one? You don’t have a father. You shouldn’t be allowed to make a present.”

I don’t remember which classmate made the comment. I just remember that I knew it was said with no other reason but than to make me feel horrible. Of all the hurtful things that were said over the years to me or about me (we had quite the drama queen-filled grade, and I hate to admit that there were times that I was a part of the problem), this was the worst. Chalk it up to “kids being kids”…?

So, as I silently finished my gift, tears streaming down my face and leaving a puddle on my desk, I focused on who would receive the gift. This is where the second memory kicks in.

That Sunday, as with all holidays, we piled in the Buick and headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was a day that left a heavy lump in our throats, but a day to celebrate the wonderful grandfather who played the role of surrogate father, showing more love to us, in some ways, better than he did his own children.

As the gifts — a new L.L. Bean shirt, a bottle of whisky — piled up at his feet, he finally opened mine, a wide smile spreading across his face. Of all the gifts, he treated that little tchochke with as much value as a new car. It was enough to heal my heart of the harshness dealt me earlier in the week.

Years later, as we cleaned out his house after he had moved into a nursing home, we found several of those gifts that I had made — particularly, a chunk of wood with a cool little bird decoupaged on the back and a clothespin glued to the front with “Megan” scrolled in my teacher’s best cursive. He was still using it to hold bills on his intimidating bank desk in his dark cave of an office.

After awhile, my mother remarried a man who has since become a great stepdad and a doting grandfather to my son, despite my efforts to make his life miserable (ahh, teen years). Even with so many father figures in my life, it’s still been a lifetime of bittersweet Father’s Days.

But, now there’s a new focus. While the incredibly sexist, grillmaster-golfing-with-bermuda-shorts-laden commercials (Honestly! Where’s my dorky daddy commercial with Dads snuggling up while reading comic books to their offspring?) relegate the holiday to yet another Hallmark Holiday, I embrace it, for I now know a daddy who deserves all the attention, love and, yes, gifts this day will allow.

This year, it was time to celebrate a first-year father. One year ago, Dave knew nothing of diaper changes and was quietly terrified of doing ANYTHING wrong, but was eager and 100% supportive (not to mention trusting that I knew what I was doing…which I did…kind of). I watched a fast evolution from sweet husband into incredible father. Not knowing the ins-and-outs of fatherhood, myself, I saw his protectiveness take form. I saw a man who literally spent an afternoon sitting in one awkward position on the couch because the baby had slipped down and he didn’t know how to get out of the position shift into a daddy completely comfortable picking up, holding, carrying, moving, buckling, and snuggling (and, yes, even sleeping) with his son. I saw a man fall in love, his heart full of wanting the best of everything — knowledge, safety, freedom for the child to follow his heart and happiness — for this little, clueless being. I saw a father born.

Daddy with a 6-week-old munchkin monkey. My, what a year does.

So, this year, the baby and I stopped for a visit with Grandpa, yes. We skipped a trip to my father’s headstone, but mostly due to weather — we will raise Hadley with the knowledge that he had a grandfather that he won’t meet (and that sometimes it’s what makes Mommy a tad crazy), but also that he has two on earth who love him more than life itself. Over the weekend, we visited with my stepdad and Dave’s dad, exchanging gifts, stories, and appreciation. But, mostly, we celebrated a new daddy with new clothes (a polo, gasp!), some homemade baby wall or desk art (silhouette!), and a pretty kick-arse french toast breakfast. And, we’re lucky, he loved it all. Our dorky daddy.

I hope everyone had a very happy Father’s Day — all those inspirational dads out there, be they biological, grand-, step-, adopted, or simply fill an important role for someone in need of a father; whether your kids are grown, still small, or just a glimmer in your thoughts, for the fathers in life and the fathers in heart and the fathers in spirit, you’re what gives the world its solid foundation, and we couldn’t do any of this without you. We love you, dads.

Let’s Get This Party Started

With officially T minus one month ’til the Hadman turns the big O-N-E, I was politely reminded by the hubs that he’d be happy to pick up the invitations at Staples while he’s out in the “big city” Friday. Oops. I had them done, just needed to do some tweaking and send them in. Thanks for the save, Dave!

I’m a big fan using the Staples online print resource since I utilized it to print the theater’s programs when I used to design them. I found that they came out professionally and timely, with no directors sweating over one of those super long staplers putting together a handful of photo-copied programs to hand to audiences as they arrived on opening night. Yeah, that was never fun. So, paying for Staples was well worth the investment.

I’ve used them for everything from ALL of our print needs for our wedding (invitations, yes, but all the little signs and labels for each table and programs that never got handed out…lots and lots and lots of printing) to baby shower invitations for my sis to the art on Hadley’s wall. It was a no-brainer to use them again.

(By the way, this is not a sponsored post. I wasn’t paid by Staples to brag about ’em. It’s kinda sad that I have to say that.)

Here’s the invitation I whipped up (sans my mom’s address and my phone number for the RSVP) with a little Pinterest inspiration…Pinspiration? Ew…

So, how much did the invites cost to send out? I scaled them to fit four to a page (cheapskate…no, really, the invitation envelopes we had on hand only fit that size, so it was serendipitous in a really lame way), so all we would need were three sheets. Ha! Three sheets to the wind. Nice.

Anyhoo, yeah, three. Since we were mostly inviting families and couples (with a few awesome exceptions), it wasn’t like we needed 22 separate invites; just one for my sis and her family, one for Dave’s bro and his wife, etc. So, twelve would work just fine.

Check it! I may still get 10% or so off, but I’d say $5.37 for very cool (if I do say so myself) invitations, including the cost of envelopes (totally free) and the fact that I chose stiffer card stock (that’s what she said), is pretty good. Add a few bucks for postage and we’re still coming in at a decent price. If I hadn’t “splurged” and had them do the cutting (way straighter than my shaky hand), it would’ve been $2 cheaper. I know. My Depression-era ancestors would be disappointed in me. *hangs head*

We’re purchasing some other stuff for this shindig, but also doing plenty hand-made options, too. Here’s a breakdown:

– Pizza, beverages, and several other “some assembly required” food items to make life a tad easier (do carrot sticks count?)
– Cupcakes (but this has a sentimental pitch to it; we’re buying them from the same place that made our wedding cupcakes…so there. Neener neener.)
– A few decorative items, like birthday hats (for fun) from Target
– Gifts for the monkey, himself! 🙂

– Pom-pom decorations No. More. Wire. HANGERS!!! Only insert “BALLOONS!” for “wire hangers.”
– A pendant banner
– The birthday boy’s crown, which he’ll wear all of two seconds. Tops.
– His healthy smash cake (along with a bit of decoration)!!!

Already Have On Hand:
– This awesome thing we like to call “Pandora”…because it’s called Pandora. We listen to it on our phones all the time, so it only makes sense to use it as a bit of background music. The little one likes the Simon and Garfunkel channel, but we may switch it up to something a wee less depressing.
– A laptop (or possibly burned DVD) to show Daddy’s video for the birthday boy
– Borrowed pop-up tent thingamajiggers just in case of inclement weather. But, seriously, (sung as Streisand), DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE (party)!!!
– Cake stands. Seriously. We’ve got a million of ’em. A cute HUGE one that our friends Laurel and Jim gave us which has some really cool polka dot textures on it, a couple of antique glass ones we used for our wedding reception, etc. And while I may use them for cupcakes, it sometimes makes for some visual interest to put something less expected on them. How fancy, pizza on a cake stand! Oooohhhh, la-dee-dah!

I’m sure I’m forgetting something. I started taking some notes on my phone, but have yet to make the mother of all to-do/to-buy lists.

We’ve already had an offer or two to help with food (and anything else we may need). You can always tell your best friends when they’re as concerned about your own sanity as they are spending time with your cutey patootey. And when that best friend happens to be your sister, well, all is right with the world.

So, we’re officially in party mode (with the exception of being bogged down by inventory at work; I’ll still have a few weeks to focus solely on the shindig, though, once school’s over — I know, I’m lucky). Any suggestions for the parents?

Gray, Gray or Gray

(Or grey?)

I’m obsessing about my foundation, which I’m hoping to paint this summer, along with scraping, cleaning and painting the basement windows and trim. (If I found the energy, I’d do the garage, but one insane project at a time, please.) Here’s what it currently looks like…

Er, that’s what it looked like last year after I did some planting and shutter painting, hee hee. *Busted.* Anyhoo, it’s currently a sort of bluish gray with some spots that need scrubbing or patching and re-painting. With a (cruddy) white facade, glossy black shutters, hunter green roof (sorry you can’t see it here; just envision with me), bright red front and back doors, and soon-to-be-painted-white deck and front porch, what would you go with for the foundation?

This one’s kind of charcoal, which I’m admittedly kind of into. It makes the black seem a tad less harsh and grounds the house…y’know…into the ground. 😉 

Then, we have a not-as-dark, not-as-light gray. It also helps to ground the house a little but still has some “color” to it (if that makes sense).

I’m also considering using a floor paint on the treads of the deck and porch that will match the foundation (everything else white), so the color really does make a difference.

So, time to vote!  

Which foundation color should I use?

Woohoo! Voting is closed, and it looks like charcoal (darker) has won out! Now, I’ve just gotta find a place that will help me achieve this when I go to purchase the paint without raising an eyebrow. I get that a lot at the local Lowe’s. Love the place, but, as GOB would say, “Come on!” Can’t a girl make questionable decisions on her own without additional judgment thrown in?

My Love-Hate Relationship

Target. That mistress of (mis)spending one’s paycheck. That provider of home decor crack. That lesser of three evils (Walmart’s the devil…Kmart, where I once worked, is slightly less evil but stuck in a time warp of sorts…appropriate partnership with Sears). Target. I love it. I hate it. I love to love it and hate to resent myself for the post-shopping trip guilt that ensues.

It’s as if I wake up on my living room floor in a haze surrounded by bags of beautiful things and find myself swooning over them…then thrust into a mild depression when I happen upon the receipt. Buzzkill.

Last weekend, the only difference was that several of my purchases were on clearance. “Clearance” is usually one of those words that give most women and a handful of men cause to happy dance. In the aisle. While performing as one’s own back-up singer. Holding the clearance object as a mic. This case was no different (strange how the baby is only a tad amused by these public embarrassments these days…old hat, I guess), although I also knew that sometimes a clearance price is a matter of a difference of only a couple of dollars.

Here’s a crappy iPhone picture I took of my babies when I got home (clearly too dark for a picture, but I was too excited to care):

Doesn’t look like much, I know. The Tupperware-ish container on the upper right is now holding all of our baby food pouches, so it’s utilitarian, and the three miniature pails are for the Hadman’s birthday cutlery ‘n stuff.

Otherwise, the pillow was just over 13 bucks. That’s wicked cheap, and for a burst of color on the living room couch, it’s worth it. Ole, ombre!

Going with the sunshiney theme (am I looking forward to summer, ya think?), I got two gold items. The weird thing is, I’m usually not a “golden girl” (even our wedding rings are white gold), but the way that it’s being done these days, in a brassier way, I’m in love.

Also a small brass type of vase (or something) great for adding a pop of color and depth to a desk or bookcase and containing pens or…hell, anything. It’s just so damn cute!

Then there’s the brass cage hurricane candleholder. Ohhhh, Lord. I’ve been eying this for awhile, agonizing over whether or not to buy it, and when I saw the red sticker on it, it clinched the deal.

The white urchin is a glossy Nate Berkus clearance item that isn’t even on the Target site anymore — so I feel like I snagged a deal. It’s my first white accessory, so it does stick out a tad, but it won’t for long.

So, those are my splurges (among Father’s Day cards, a “Super Friends” toy for Hadley’s birthday, and a handful of other stuff at other stores). How about you? Is there a store that you have a love-hate relationship with? Do tell!

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb

For those non-actor types reading, “rhubarb” is one of those (I’m sure there’s a technical term for it, but I’m unaware) filler words that you silently mumble to a nearby actor when you’re upstage and non-important to the scene. Y’know, so you don’t look like you blend in with the scenery. Hence the title. And excessive description of said title.

ANYHOO, rhubarb is HUGE with our family. There’s a very important strawberry rhubarb pie recipe that comes with a set of rules (passed down from the almighty patriarch of the family, “Grandpa Heidi”).

1) Say three “Hail Mary”s before eating the pie.
2) You must be completely silent while eating said pie.
3) You must close your eyes while eating said pie. (#3 is up for debate, depending on which family member you ask)

I’m pretty sure that by the time we were teens, we realized that the rules were set in place to silence the five kids in my mom’s family, but I still think it’s pretty cool that Grandpa respected Grandpa’s pie (don’t be dirty) enough to make them up.

So, when I saw rhubarb at yesterday’s Herkimer Farmers’ Market (we’ve got two of them in Herkimer — woohoo! And this one runs ’til 7pm, so it’s super easy to get to after work), I had to purchase it. Seriously, no choice in the matter. I would’ve given my last dime to do so. And, luckily, they gave me an awesome recipe that I made once I got home. Since I didn’t have strawberries on hand, and it was a simple crisp recipe, I was in luck.

Oh, and I also have to mention, among the other incredible things I grabbed (free-range and humanely-treated chicken eggs (seriously, the kind lady referred to the chickens as her “girls” — love that!), raw cheese, green onions, delicious raw butter) were a couple of “Cat’s Creations.” I don’t recall what else was in the bread, but she had me at figs. I ate several pieces before unloading the rest of my goodies. Yes, it was that good.

(cue teensy weensy Instagram pic)

Oops, anyhoo, here’s the crisp I made. Oh, and the humidity broke over the weekend, so it wasn’t a big deal to turn on the oven. Don’t do this when it’s hot out. Seriously, just grill some pound cake or make a sundae with organic peanut butter with natural vanilla ice cream and call it a day.

Rhubarb (I can’t believe there’s no strawberries in it) Crisp
4 c. rhubarb, cut into 3/4″ pieces (I only had enough for 3 cups — I adjusted the following accordingly and it came out fine)
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour (I used unbleached whole wheat white, but just use whatchya got)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (give or take)
a few sprinkles of nutmeg (that was my addition — I can’t really bake without it. It’s got my name in it, people!!!)
For crumble topping
1/2 lb. butter, melted (yeah, baby)
1 c. rolled oats
1 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar

Mix together the first 5 ingredients and put into 8×8 glass baking dish. (I buttered mine…because, y’know, you can’t have enough butter.)

Mix together the rest of the ingredients and top the rhubarb mixture. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes (give or take, depending on your oven — I always under-bake, then check it).

This would be insanely good warm with vanilla (or strawberry!!) ice cream, but it was just as delish with a fork. And a plate. Seriously, make this.