Thursday, July 30, 2009

B: Random Pictures

B has no interest in having her photo taken. Even at school this week, when she saw the fire trucks and got a fireman hat, no picture. AAAHHHH!!!!!! Why have this blog, if not to show pictures of my girl.

Here are some random shots I managed to get. (Some even have smiles.)

This is obviously at the Meijer. I was happy to
see the horse ride is free. I am not a regular Meijer
shopper, but if I mention to B that I need to run there, she is
more than happy to accompany me. That, and usually
I go there to buy rice crispy making supplies.

This is my little pole dancer at our local coffee
house. Coffee there is marginal, but we can walk there
and they have a fabulous patio. Beats the tables on the
sidewalk at Starbucks. Oh, and they do make
a great mango smoothie.

B and Mike were playing ball in the yard. Here
it really didn't register that I had the camera.

Here it does. She heard the camera click and flopped down.
At least I got a smile.

This is her "what the hell are you doing" look.

This is from last night. B was bouncing on a ball
while Mike held her hands. When I got the
camera out, she stopped and gave me this face.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twenty minute Simple Skirt Tutorial AND GIVEAWAY!!!!

I found this great skirt tutorial via the blog Grosgrain. Grosgrain has tons of giveaways, some makes, others are guest giveaways. Since my belly is growing out of some of my skinny shorts, I thought I could bridge the gap with some skirts. Anthropologie has some cute ones, but I would love to make my own.


Monday, July 27, 2009

KItchen Clambake

Before we married, Mike lived in Evanston, IL. A great town just north of Chicago. He had some neighbors that became good friends, but MIke lost touch with them over the years. A month or so ago, he reconnected with one, and then another. There was a dinner planned in June, but we didn't go because B got heat exhaustion that day. This past Friday was the make-up dinner at our house.

I knew about it a couple of weeks ahead of time. I like to plan dining events, whether it is a birthday, dinner party or Christmas. I research a menu, do a grocery list, and a rough outline of the day. This time though, I did a 3 day time line, working back from the time I wanted to serve dessert. I got the idea from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. And, I loved the list. It had where I needed to shop , what I needed to buy and when. When I need to start the coals for the roasted corn, when to iron the napkins, when I need to set out the hors o'dourves, everything. I know a time line sounds anal, but, I wasn't working up until the time the guests came, I was actually sitting down, relaxing. Of course, it helped that my husband lent every hand he could. I handled the food and he handled the cleaning. Just the way I prefer it.

My menu for the evening was: Truffle Tremor Cheese,
Prosciuto with Melon (a friend brought this)
Red Wine Sangria
Lemonade (for those of us who are pregnant)
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Basil
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Kitchen Clambake
Berry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream
Lemon Sherbert

The clambake was pretty cool. I got the recipe from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook. Saute onions and leeks, then layer in small potatoes, kielbasa, clams, mussels, shrimp and lobster. I did not use live lobsters like Ina. Can't do it. I used tails instead.

Edamame and Arugula Dip
(I had this first at our Can Can Club get together.
Carol from Kidding Around made it.)

The set table. It looked OK. I am not
a flower arranger.

I forgot to light the candles!

Truffle Tremor Cheese from the Movable Feast.
This was a hit!

Sangria. So good. had one small taste sip.
Cathey Peklay's recipe.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad. This was good, but
I dressed it too early.

The leftovers. I got bust and forgot to take
pictures of the clambake and the shortcake.
I wish I had photographed the shortcake, it looked
great with the raspberries, black raspberries
blueberries and whipped cream.
(I add a little little sec with the sugar when I
macerate the berries.)

It was a pretty successful evening, if I do say so myself. The lobster tails were a bit overcooked (they were pre-cooked, should have only put them in for a minute.) Mike had fun and his friends had fun. The perfect evening!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We Joined the Zoo!

B has been talking about going to the zoo. We went to the Lincoln Park Zoo last month and I think it whetted her appetite. Plus, the Brookfield Zoo has a dinosaur exhibit that I thought she might like. And lately, she has been into dinosaurs. Reading about, watching, and playing with them.

The Brookfield Zoo isn't cheap. You can pay $12 to get in, and then pay for everything you do, or $24 and get into everything. Or, you can become a member. I chose a membership. And I am glad I did. We went Friday, and B asked to go back Monday. Good thing too. I forgot the camera Friday. Plus, we were both exhausted! I haven't been sleeping, and she hasn't been napping. And Brookfield is huge. Too much to see in one trip. Oh, I guess you could cram it all in, but it would be exhausting.

There was the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit as well
as dinos paced around the zoo. These are not
just statues, but animatronic. Moving and roaring.
This is a Ruyang Yellow River Dinosaur. We ate
our lunch on a bench, watching and listening to him.

We went through the exhibit on Friday. B loved
it and hated it. She was fascinated as well as
frightened. She asked to go through the exhibit
again on Monday, but changed her mind when we got
the the entrance and she heard them roaring.

Wish I knew what type of primate this is, but I don't.

My little river otter. This was a water conservation exhibit.
One of B's favorite species, the fish.

Happy to find out, we are pretty good
at protecting our water supply.

B the mermaid, helping to clean up the kingdom.

She wasn't happy about this picture. She told me I could
only take a photo of the lion.

We got to feel this dino. B also got her
picture taken by a "pro". He put it in a
frame and B is going to give it to Grandma
for her birthday.

Picture by a non-pro.

It got hot so we had a lemon shake-up. This too
was made by a pro. The girl who made it said
she is the best lemonade maker. And she wasn't lying.
I had to fight B to get a drink.

B was so good I told her she could pick out a new
toy. Did she pick a cuddly dinosaur? No, she wanted
a gooey, stretchy snake. But she loves it.

The last stop was popcorn. Again, B told me
to only take a photo of the popcorn. Not her.

After school today, when I asked what she wanted to do this afternoon, she said, "go to the zoo." I told her we can make it our Monday thing to do. It isn't too far and it is good for noth of us. Plus, we have only seen an 1/8 to 1/4 of the animals.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Big Pile of Mulch

Our yard was looking a little worse for wear. I haven't felt like being outside (can't stand the heat) and I have been particularly tired (damn that Charlie). So, since the forecast for the weekend called for cool weather, I ordered 7 yards of mulch.

If I were a smart blogger, I would have taken a photo of the entire pile. But, I went to the market and then came home to make tiramisu cake and malt ball ice cream (we were invited to another James Street home for dinner). I did manage to snap a coupe of pictures of B helping Mike.

As I have mentioned before, B does not want
to have her picture taken. I don't know why, but
trying to get a good photo is difficult.

B gave it her all, but couldn't quite
lift the wheel barrel.

Mike moved seven yards of mulch in two days. Sad thing is, the seven yards fell short of covering all the beds in our not that large yard. Still, it really made a difference. Thanks Mike!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last Weekend

It was a long weekend. Friday, B and I went to my Mom's house in Indiana. That morning, I took B for a vaccination. She is behind, so I thought I better get a move on and schedule a DPT booster. Well, poor thing, her leg got all stiff. I forgot to re-dose her with Tylenol. So, Friday night was a bust. But Saturday, we went to the gym, the park, ran errands(Target) and played in the yard . Below is B with the tennis racket she picked out at Target - she wen t right for it.

Mike made her a tee. All the better
to hit the ball. Aren't the balls cool? They
are big and squishy. Great if you get hit by one.

"Watch my serve?

Is she Venus? Serena? Is there a blond?

Sunday, we went to Camp Lee. All Bs cousins were home, so we went up for brunch, swimming and dinner. I ate way too much.

Lee had a couple frogs/toads in the pool. B
helped save a few. But, sadly, a few died.

My little bathing beauty.

There was a pool full, cousins and friends.

B, jumping off the side of the pool.

Swimming with Mike.

Mike, relaxing after a long day of laying
in the sun.

It was a long weekend. We were all fried on Monday, but fun must be had! This weekend will also be busy. Today, I woke up at 4:45 and didn't go back to sleep. I finally got out of bed at 5:20. Then, B and I went to the zoo. Probably a mistake, but we went for a couple of hours. Tomorrow, dinner at the neighbors. I am making dessert. Yikes! What to make? And, we have Mike's friends coming over next Saturday for dinner. So, we should probably weed, throw down some mulch, and clean up the yard. Yikes! What to make? I will keep you posted.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jam, Jam, Jam!

When I went to our green market last week, I bought blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to turn into jam. Well, I ATE them all. No jam last week. This week I was smart. I bought almost a flat of fruit. Not all of it is for jam. I wanted to make sure I bought plenty to eat. I bought raspberries, blueberries, black raspberries, bing cherries and 2 kinds of apricots. (Good thing I bought two boxes of apricots, B has already eaten 3!)

Before, I made a no-cook jam. And it was OK, but pretty sweet. When I was at my sister's, I spied an Eating Well Magazine with low sugar jam recipes. So I bored it. Eating Well's jam recipe used "no sugar needed" pectin. You still have to use sugar, but a lot less of it. So I tried it today. And, it went well. I have only had a finger swipe of a taste, but what I tried was good. I am so excited to try it tomorrow.

Here is the recipe for Eating Well Magazine.

**I used raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and black raspberries. **


Makes 6-8 cups

ACTIVE TIME: 20-40 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 20-40 minutes (depending on type of fruit)


12 cups prepared fresh fruit, peeled if desired (see Tip)
1-2 cups granulated sugar or brown sugar (see Note)
1/2 cup water
1 1.75-ounce packet “no sugar needed” pectin (see Note)

1. Combine fruit, sugar to taste and water in a Dutch oven. Bring to a vigorous boil and crush fruit with a potato masher until desired consistency. Add pectin in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Stir until the pectin is dissolved. Bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be “stirred down”), stirring constantly. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
2. If freezing or refrigerating, ladle the jam into clean canning jars to within 1/2 inch of the rim. Wipe rims clean. Cover with lids. Let the jars stand at room temperature until set, about 24 hours, before refrigerating or freezing. Or process in a water bath to store at room temperature (see Tip).

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per tablespoon (strawberry): 12 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 0 g protein; 0 g fiber; 1 mg sodium; 32 mg potassium.
0 Carbohydrate Servings
Exchanges: free food

TIP: Tip: How to Prep & Measure Fruit—Berries: Remove stems; hull strawberries. Measure whole. Cherries: Remove stems and pits; halve. Measure halves. Peaches, Nectarines & Plums: Peel if desired. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces; discard pits. Measure pieces. Apples, Pears & other fruit: Peel if desired. Quarter, remove seeds and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Measure pieces.

To peel stone fruit, dip them in boiling water for about 1 minute to loosen their skins. Let cool slightly, then remove the skins with a paring knife.

Notes: 3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey) or 1/2-1 cup Splenda Granular can be used in place of 1 cup sugar.

We tested Fresh Fruit Jam with “No sugar needed” pectin from Ball and Sure-Jell. We prefer this to regular pectin because you can adjust the amount of added sugar. Regular pectin cannot be used in its place because it requires more sugar to ensure a proper set. Although Sure-Jell’s instructions indicate that you cannot use less sugar than called for in their recipes, we had successful results using less (as indicated in our recipes).

Tip: Processing in a boiling water bath ensures safe storage at room temperature for up to a year. For step-by-step pictures and instructions, go to

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, in the freezer for up to 1 year or at room temperature for up to 1 year if processed in a water bath. | Equipment: Six to eight 8-ounce canning jars.

Here is a photo of my jam. I am going to freeze it.

Maybe the next time I will trying processing it

in a water bath.

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Treats

A fellow canning club member turned me onto a new food site. Joy the Baker. Yes, just what I need. Thanks Kim! I swear, I thank her without any sarcasm, because I found this recipe. Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Treats. That is rice crispy treats topped with a layer of peanut butter fudge, topped with a layer of chocolate fudge. Please check out Joy's post. Her pictures are much better, and more comprehensive than mine.

Here are the Rice Cripsy Directions:

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
  • - OR -
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispy Cereal (or any puffed rice cereal)

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.2. Add Rice Krispies cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. ( You may want to line your pan with parchment paper or waxed paper large enough to have flaps hanging over the sides. This will make it easy to pull the giant block of goodness out of the pan when it’s done. I just forgot this step. But as recorded in the comments below, some people had trouble with the wax paper sticking to the Krispie treats. A well sprayed pan might just be your best bet!) Cool. Make Peanut Butter Fudge.

This is my favorite photo. So gooey and good.
I wanted to eat the crispies, without any fudge.

Peanut Butter Fudge:

recipe from Alton Brown

  • 1 cup butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pound powdered sugar

Microwave butter and peanut butter for 2 minutes on high. Stir and microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Pour over the Rice Krispy treats in the pan and spread evenly. Let cool in the fridge while you make the Chocolate Fudge.

My fudge wasn't pourable. I don't know if it
was wrong, but it tasted right.

Chocolate Fudge:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine butter, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, chocolate, and vanilla,. Beat for about 1 minute, or until marshmallows melt and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour over peanut butter fudge, spread evenly and place in the fridge to harden and cool.
My chocolate fudge wasn't pourable either. I had
the same problem last Christmas. I think my sugar - milk
mixture gets too hot. Still, I was able to pat the
fudge into place.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product! I cut them, packed them up, and sent them on their way to work with Mike. Seriously did not want to keep these treats around. Even though I had fudge issues, (the kind of issues to have if you're lucky!) these tasted like heaven. And unlike Joy the Baker, I did not find them too rich. I could totally eat more than 10, I mean one.

B's Favorite Snack

Lately, B has been avoiding the camera. That is one reason I haven't been posting a lot of pictures. Yesterday, I snapped a quick photo while B was enjoying her favorite snack on the sofa. Popcorn! About once a week, B asked me to pop some corn. I make in the old fashioned way, on the stove. I have a cute pan with a stirring mechanism in the bottom, just turn the handle.

While she is eating her popcorn, B likes to watch Martha Speaks on PBS. This is one of our favorite shows.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

B's New Bike

We have been talking about getting B a bike for awhile. So even though we (not B, of course) were tired, we walked up town, first to get coffee, then eggs at the farmers market, then up to bike shop to look at bikes.

We didn't want to get a tricycle - we already have one in the garage that a neighbor lent us. It has a handle on the back, which is nice, but it seemed to encourage B not to peddle. So, this is what we found:

B likes to watch her feet instead of where she is headed.

She really didn't want me to take her photo.

"Did the wind miss up my hair?"

She is doing OK with the bike. She rode it home (most of the way) and around the block in the afternoon and then to the park. There are a lot of inclines she needs help with and B need help with steering.

July 3rd and 4th

As usual, when we have one thing to do, we have many. So weekends are dead slow, with nothing to do. Others are cram packed. Last week we had a lot to do.

Wednesday evening, I went to the first meeting of a cooking club. We didn't actually cook, but we discussed when to meet and what we wanted to do - primarily canning. And, we all brought appetizers. There were fantastic cheeses, gazpacho with cherries, gourgeres, fabulous sangria, fruit with a great sauce that was flavored with amaretto, smoked salmon sandwiches (my contribution), arugala and edamame spread with crostini, another cheese with fresh cherries, fruit skewers and out of this world rice pudding with rhubarb compote. We should have all brought the recipes to share, because everything was incredible!!! And, I should have noted the cheeses, because they also rocked.

Thursday we went to Furry Murray's birthday party. There were many young celebrators, B was in heaven, and I was in heaven getting to sit on a great porch talking with friends. There were hot dogs of course and great lemon cupcakes for Murray to share.

Friday, B got her hair cut. I made cupcakes, 2 kinds of ice cream, and wanted to make coffee cake for the 4th of July parade, but didn't get around to it. We headed over to Mike's sister Kate's house after B woke up. We went over to wish Eileen and Ryan "Happy Birthday."

We went swimming at their neighborhood pool, and had pizza and salad. It was cold, so only the kids went in the pool. Then we walked back to the cousin's house and had s'mores made on their cool backyard fire pit. We planned to be home by 8:30, but it didn't work out that way.

Trying to convince Mike to get in the cold water.

Cute hair right? She got it cut that morning.

Cousin Eileen.

I love to see her smiling in the pool.

B's swimming like a sea lion - her words.

On the morning of the 4th, we got up early. We wanted to be at my sister's at 8:30. That means we had to leave at 7:30, earlier if we wanted to stop and get a treat. And, the promise of a donut is the only thing that got B out of bed - and that was at 7:10! We didn't leave the house by 7:30, but by 7:45. We stopped and got donuts. Mike and I got cake donuts with chocolate frosting and B got donut holes. She is just like her cousin Jeana, she loves donuts!!! When I got back in the car, B's face was contorted with excitement.

So we were late to Lee's house, but she waited for us and we rode our bikes to her friend's house for the parade. I would have taken more pictures, but the battery was dying on my camera. See, if we had a rotten time and got home earlier on Friday night, I would have gotten stuff ready and packed batteries! Oh, well.

Anyway, the parade was good and my sister's friend had great food. The best breakfast burritos I have ever had! Then we rode back to Lee's - in the rain - and ate more! Guacamole, BBQ chicken, potatoes, salads, chips, hamburgers. Plus, the ice cream and the cupcakes. I swore Saturday night, I would never eat again. It was a full house, my nephew had a bunch of friends over - they were playing some made up game of tree golf, and my niece had a friend over too. It was a lot of fun!

At the Parade - poor thing looks tired here too!

B fell asleep at Lee's house. She was tired.

We were all tired. I am still tired today!