Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pride Student Two-fer

I'm always proud of my kids. But today, it was fun to see someone ELSE was proud of my kids, too!

Both Anna and Sam were recognized as the pride students from their classrooms for the month of September. Since Anna is in morning Kindergarten, her ceremony was just for the two Kindergarten classes and then we came back for Sam's assembly in the afternoon.It was especially fun because they had no idea they had been selected until their names were called.

Way to go!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Warm Sweet Potato Salad

I'll admit it. I am intimidated by a raw sweet potato. So much so that when I do cook with them, I always buy the already-cooked-and-mushy-in-a-can-kind for my Thanksgiving dishes. But no more. I found this recipe in Family Circle and was, well, intrigued. I gave it a go tonight (raw sweet potatoes and all) and it scored big with Tony and I. I didn't even try it with the kids (the taste is a little adult) but it would be a fabulous dinner with friends dish. Enjoy!

Warm Sweet Potato Salad

3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 slice ham, 1/2 inch thick (about 8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Heat oven to 400°. Stir together vinegar, maple syrup and mustard. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; set aside. Place sweet potatoes, onion and ham in a large bowl. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; stir until coated. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Roast at 400° for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven and place in a large bowl. Stir in spinach and walnuts. Drizzle with maple vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good Things Come In Threes

It has been a week of good things.

Firstly, there is house around the corner in my neighborhood that is empty. And in the backyard is a huge pear tree. So last Saturday, my neighbor and I pulled our big bin in our little wagon and picked all the pears that we could reach and shake loose. I had to separate them into two bags to ripen, so I've done two batches, but I finished my share up today. I got 11 quarts of free pears! Definitely a good thing.

And man, oh man, has my family had a love affair with acorns this year! I find them in every nook and cranny of our stroller, under pillows, and in small heaps on our front porch. And I couldn't resist the urge to collect them either. Since they have a tendency to grow white fuzz (gag), I sprayed mine liberally with a glossy sealer that has kept mine looking delightful in their antique canning jar.

And another good thing?? A wonderful week of Fall TV premieres! So while I am rotting my brain out, I'm keeping my hands busy with these. I'm not going to elaborate more except to say that they are for Christmas cards...

All good, good things.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Crumb-Topped Pumpkin Loaf

We are in major catch-up mode around here. We have had a wonderful week that started with still having Grammy Joan here and ended with both my parents down for a short visit/hunting trip. We had a ball, ran errands, shopped, watched movies and the boys had a successful fallow deer hunt. It was a busy, happy week.

But I took ZERO pictures. Terrible, I know.

But I do have a recipe to share. Now that Fall is within sight, I'm in a baking mood. So when I found this yummy recipe in Family Circle, we gave it a whirl. And it was de-licious.

Crumb-Topped Pumpkin Loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. confectioners' sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix flour, baking powder, pie spice and salt in small bowl. Beat egg and sugar in large bowl. Beat in pumpkin, oil and vanilla until smooth. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add egg mixture. Stir just until moistened and batter comes together. Fold in walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Topping: Mix butter, brown sugar and flour in small bowl until crumbly. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle over batter. Bake loaf at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes, until wooden toothpick tests clean. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar; slice.

Have a good week!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just Peachy

One of the wonderful things about living in Washington is the FRUIT! Since so much of it is grown in the state, it is fairly inexpensive and very fresh. The day before Joan arrived, I bought a flat of peaches at the commissary for $8. Seriously. And from that flat, Joan and I canned 13 quarts of peaches to enjoy this winter.
And then today, I used the peels to make 4 half pints of peach honey from a recipe I found here. Look at that color!

I feel so...peachy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunny Seattle

We got home last night from our whirlwind trip to Seattle and it was so wonderful! We got there just after lunch and the weather was sunny and so warm we didn't even need jackets. We checked into the hotel right away (this is a picture out our room window), dropped off our stuff and headed straight over to Pike Place Market...everything is so amazing there!We got some sugared cashews, a bunch of beautiful fresh flowers, and even stopped to watch the guys at Pike Place Fish throw a fish or two. One of my very favorite parts was the worn steps of the inside of the warehouse...I couldn't help but wonder how many people have walked up and down these steps.

I talked Tony into stopping by a little antique store on the waterfront and loved this old chest full of antique fishing gear.

We walked up and down the waterfront snapping pictures, browsing little shops and scoping out a place for a quick dinner. And I met McDreamy.

But the highlight of our trip was getting dolled up with my man and heading into beautiful downtown Seattle to the Paramount Theatre for Wicked! After I saw it in Omaha with my girlfriends, I wanted to go again and have Tony see it, too. But by the time I talked him into it, the tickets were gone in Omaha. When I found out they would be coming to Seattle, it made perfect sense to make a little getaway together and enjoy the show. And enjoy it we did! Donna Vivino was absolutely fantastic.

The next morning, we slept in, hit the outlets outside Seattle on the way home and made it back around dinnertime. Thanks to Grammy Joan for watching the was a wonderful weekend!

Friday, September 11, 2009

And Off We Go!

Grammy Joan is up visiting for the first time in our new home and has graciously agreed to watch the kids so that Tony and I can away for a night. We'll have lots to share when we get home. Can you guess what our adventure will be?

Space Needle photo by
Pikes Market photo by Alan Bauer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Josh's Good News

When I took Joshua in for his 18-month well-baby check last Fall, I had no idea the challenge we were beginning with our little man. Our pediatrician, who I respected and trusted, told me he was concerned that Josh wasn't speaking. I assured him that between his siblings and his mother, it was a miracle he ever got a word in edgewise. Sam was a little slow to talk also, so I wasn't overly worried. We decided to give it another 6 months and look at things again at his 2-year appointment. And things were not much better. He only said about 15 words and wasn't putting words together yet to form phrases. So about 6 weeks before we left Omaha, we went in to see an audiologist who gently informed us that although Josh had passed his newborn hearing screening, he was not passing them now. They assured me that a lot of it could be due to his allergies and the buildup of fluid in his ears, but with no real history of any infection...nobody was really sure what was going on. So they put him on an aggressive regiment of allergy medication and set a follow-up test about 2 weeks before we were to leave Omaha. Although his overall hearing test was a touch better, he failed the screenings again. So just a few days before the exodus from Omaha while staying in temporary housing, Josh got tubes to help with the fluid build-up in his ear. He has done very well.

BUT, with a pretty remarkable family history of deafness in my side of the family, we were a little scared. What if there was a bigger problem? What if he wasn't speaking because he couldn't hear and the tubes couldn't help?

But today, we had a follow-up appointment with an audiologist, redid all the screenings and he passed with flying colors. There is no permanent hearing loss and the tubes continue to keep his ears clear of fluid.

And his vocabulary is exploding.

We are so grateful.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Bowl and Pitcher

I feel like I'm playing a major catch-up after our long weekend. I had Tony home on Friday, too, (all to myself because the kids were still in school) and we got a lot done around the house. But now that things are back to "normal" today...I feel behind on all the regular things.

But I did want to share some pictures from a day trip we took to the Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park on Saturday. The area was breathtaking and the kids had a ball chucking rocks into the river. We even crossed the swinging bridge that spans the area right at the Bowl and Pitcher. Since it was a holiday, the campground was full, but I think Tony has ideas about coming back with Sam on an overnight. And yes, he will be doing that without me.

Just some random pictures I snapped of our beautiful kids.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Donuts on the Brain

For those of you that don't know exactly what my husband does, he is a JAG, or Judge Advocate General in the Air Force. Pretty much he is an attorney that advises commanders on legal situations, helps issue military punishments and prosecutes courts for military members who have broken the UCMJ, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He enjoys his job, but he often gets to see the very worst sorts of people. But every once in a while, we have a good laugh over his job.

Every Monday, he gets copies of the police blotters from the local community's police department as well as from the Security Forces on base which he reads through to familiarize himself with anything that might need his attention. Well, this past weekend in the community right outside the base, a police officer had occasion to talk to a gentleman named Duncan. What the chat was about is immaterial. The point is on the report, the police officer wrote Mr. Duncan's name "Dunkin". As in Donuts.


Sometimes that's all it takes to crack us up, folks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And It Begins Again

Today was the first day of school for Sam and Anna. We spent a good part of yesterday afternoon at an Open House meeting the teachers and finding classrooms and the kids were so excited that (thank goodness) they worked themselves into a state of exhaustion in time for bed. That being said, they still beat me up and were dressed and ready for the day before I was completely coherent.

Anna is in half-day everyday Kindergarten...when I went to pick her up before lunch today she cried because she wanted to ride the bus home. Thanks, Anna. Nothing like preferring a bus to your mother to make her already emotional day collapse even further.

That's right. A bus. We live maybe 2 miles (at the most) from the school and for the first time in my time as a mother, the kids will be bussed. One of the benefits of living on base.

Sam started 3rd grade and was a little more nervous than I have seen him on other first days. He finished his first homework assignment (picked up at the Open House) hours before dinner last night and, knowing him, will be all set to hit it hard again tomorrow. Yes, my friends, that makes FOUR different schools in FOUR years. What a kid.

And this is how Josh took to all the excitement.

Yeah, buddy. I kinda know how you feel.