Friday, October 29, 2010

My Little Pumpkin

Abby dressed up as a pumpkin for a little party we went to.  I think she looks pretty dang cute.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I've been sewing!  Remember that quilt I told you about?  The one I am determined to do all by myself?  I know, I mentioned it quite a while ago, but I'm finally getting some things done on it.  I actually have the quilt top all sewn together and pressed!  It is definitely not perfect, so don't look too close when I post the finished product.  But I think I did well for my first time.  I have already learned many things I can do better in the future, including using a different foot that is ideal for patching (and that actually came with my machine, I don't have to buy it!).

My next step is basting and quilting.  I have only tied quilts before but for this one I want to machine quilt it.  I've been doing some research because I honestly know just about nothing.  I'm thinking of doing "stitch in the ditch."  I've read that it is good for beginners and since this quilt is bright and has bold patterns, I don't think elaborate quilting is necessary.  I am open to suggestions, though, so feel free to give me any advice you might have!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

#12: Make Baby Food

I have accomplished one thing from my list of 50 things!  One down, 49 to go.  Making homemade baby food was a lot of fun and very easy.  I learned a lot on how I can improve the process in the future.  I made mine with peaches and here's how I did it.

Cut the peaches in half and leave the pits in.

Place a baking sheet on your oven rack and use a pitcher or glass to to pour about 1 inch of water into it.  Trust me on this one.  I put the water in the pan before and when I tried to put it in the oven... I spilled all over the place.  Then arrange the peach halves cut side down.

I ate one of the halves... oops!  It was too tempting.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the peaches are nice and tender and the skin starts to pucker, about 10-15 minutes.  When they are done, please DO NOT pick up the pan.  The water will be hot.  Use a baster to remove the water and then take them out of the oven.  Save some of the water in a bowl in case you need to thin your puree.

Remove the pits.

And then remove the skins.  They come off very easily.

Then dice 'em up!

Throw them in your food processor (or blender) and process until smooth.

If the mixture seems too thick, add some of your peach water.  My texture was perfect with the juice that accumulated on the cutting board.

Use a tablespoon to distribute into ice cube trays.  It fits perfectly and that way you know exactly how much your baby is eating.  I got 4 trays out of 5 1/2 peaches.

  Wrap the trays in plastic wrap and label what it is and when you made it.  Remove one or two cubes as needed.  They will stay good in the freezer for 3 months.  I can't wait to try more foods! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

500 Days of Refinement

Have you ever heard of "101 things in 1001 days?"  I'm not really sure where it came from, but I first heard about it a while back from one of my dear clients.  Basically, you just make a list of 101 things you want to accomplish in the next 1001 days.  When she told me, I thought it sounded fun, so I started making a list.  However, coming up with 101 things was just too many and 1001 days was just way too far out for me.  I wasn't motivated to really do anything because the deadline was more than 2 and a half years away.  Therefore, I have come up with my own plan.

500 Days of Refinement

I have made a list of 50 things I want to accomplish in the next 500 days.  This just seems way more doable to me.  Today is my official start day and that will have me end on my birthday in 2012.  Basically, my list includes projects, health things, spiritual things, books to read, and then just fun and random things.  Some tasks are large and will take a lot of time, while others will be very easy to accomplish.  But all of them are"refining," at least to me.  I think they will help me to utilize and refine my talents as well as help me be a better wife and mother.   I will share some of my experiences with you as I complete them.

My husband helped me prepare my list in a fun way that I will print out and hang up (below).   I think it is a lot of fun.  Thank goodness for a husband who has mad computer skills.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

The past few days have been absolutely beautiful fall days.  Sunny and about 70 degrees.  Eating this meal is a perfect complement for a day like this.  Here is the recipe.

Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

1 lb. cheese ravioli
1 Gala apple, sliced thin
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp dried parsely
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Cook the ravioli according to the package instructions.  Pour oil in a bowl and add the basil, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Toss the cooked ravioli in the oil to coat.  Add the apple slices, parmesan cheese, and most of the chopped walnuts and toss again.  Garnish with a little more cheese and walnuts.  Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Balboa Park

While in San Diego, we walked around Balboa Park.  I had been there before but could hardly remember what it was like.  It is beautiful.  What really stands out is the architecture of the buildings.  Here is just a couple of photos I took while we were there.

I loved the lanterns
Black & White
Part of the organ pavilion
If you ever go to San Diego, definitely check out Balboa Park!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Costumes: "Rrr-eady."

Ever since I started dating my husband, Halloween has been even more fun.  We have been dressing up together and it is a blast.  Here are some of our costumes.

Devil and Angel

It made for a great silhouette.
The next year I was Angela from The Office dressed up as a cat for Halloween.  Landon was Dwight dressed as a sith lord.  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures from that one because I had lost my battery charger.

Last year we were Tom and Summer from "500 Days of Summer."  We came up with it on Halloween and pulled it together in a couple of hours.  We were pretty proud of ourselves.
I have a feeling dressing up with our daughter is going to be even more fun.  We are all set and now we just need a party or something to go to so we can show off our costumes.  There is a clue in the title of our post as to what we are dressing up as.  If you can guess correctly, I will be very impressed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Scientist

One of my favorite things about music is when I hear a song and I have a memory connected with it.  Sometimes these memories are happy and uplifting, while other times I remember a time when I felt pain and sorrow.  Regardless, I love these connections.  Remembering pain may not seem like a fun thing to do, but it often leaves me feeling appreciative and positive.

I am not a huge Coldplay fan, but I have always really liked the song, The Scientist.  The melody is very pretty and it is a very "real" love song to me.  When I was preparing for my first childbirth experience, I put together a playlist of songs that were meant to help me relax and remember how to breathe and I included this song.  I'm not going to go into my whole labor story at this time, but just share a snippet.

When I was told I could stay at the hospital, my labor was progressing slowly and I felt very calm, not much pain, just trying to stay relaxed and wrap my head around the fact that I was actually in labor.  At one point when I was checked I was told I was dilated to a 4.  I was feeling good and thinking about how I had several hours before anything exciting would happen.  Shortly after, it hit.  I was basically having constant contractions and could not breathe and relax the way I was wanting to.  I thought to myself, "If this is what a 4 feels like, there is no way I am going to make it."

It hurt.

A lot.

It is hard to remember all the details of what was going on because everything was happening so quickly.  But the one thing I distinctly remember was hearing these words from The Scientist playing from my iPod.  

Nobody said it was easy
Nobody said it would be this hard

I can't say it gave me the strength I needed, but I felt comforted.

Fast forward to my first day at home with my beautiful baby.  I was sitting on the couch with my baby girl laying on my chest.  This time, I was again trying to relax, wrap my head around that fact that I was actually a mom, and feeling a bit overwhelmed.  The Scientist came on once again. It was the first time I had remembered that I heard the song while in labor and I broke down crying.

I realize that having a song remind you of childbirth is not something you would think you would want.  Childbirth was not easy.  Being a new mom was not easy (it still isn't). But I have a perfectly sweet little baby girl and I'm glad I have a way to remember these tender moments.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

Or as I like to call it, "Kitchen Checkatory."  This is a delicious chicken recipe and is fairly easy to make.  I used white grape juice instead of wine and it gives it a nice sweet taste.  If you don't want as sweet of a taste, dilute the white grape juice or just use chicken broth.  Once I accidentally used a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies.... oops!  It was actually still tasty, it just had an extra zip! Here's the recipe. 

Chicken Cacciatore
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
½ cup all purpose flour
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ cup white grape juice
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
¾ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1½ tsp. dried oregano leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

View full recipeSprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.
In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil on medium-high. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the white grape juice and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, and oregano.
Return the chicken pieces to the pan and coat them in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Serve chicken over pasta. Top chicken with sauce and a sprinkle of fresh basil.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Every Step Counts

This weekend I attended the Obesity Society's conference in San Diego and displayed a poster with an abstract from my study as a masters student.  It was my first time doing anything like this and it was a fun experience.  I was also able to attend a few of the lectures that were presented by the big shots.  They presented a lot of data on exercise and physical activity and its effects on different things.  It was interesting to look at the details of the findings, however, many of the presenters share my simple philosophy.

Doing something is better than doing nothing.

Here is one way you can do this.
Wear a pedometer.
A pedometer is a little device you wear on your hip that tracks the number of steps you take in a day.  Most health professionals recommend accumulating at least 10,000 steps throughout the day.  Many people like to wear pedometers because it is like a game you can play with yourself.  It encourages you to think of ways you can increase your steps to reach 10,000.      

Try it out.  You can get a decent one for about $20 like this one.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Accent Pillow

When I made my bed the other day I was thinking, "I ought to find or make an accent pillow for this bed."  Maybe someday I will, but for now I think this will do.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lemon Ginger Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips

I am a hummus lover.  I will try any kind you can throw at my and I generally like all types.  This recipe is one of my favorites that I have made.  I originally made it for a staff meeting where I used to work and it was a big hit.  I paired it with these homemade pita chips that I came up with by simply combining some of my favorite spices.  Let me tell you, the marriage of the two is fabulous.  The lemon and ginger really mesh well with the spices in the pita chips.  Here are the recipes!  Enjoy!
Lemon Ginger Hummus
2 (15 oz.) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium lemons, juiced and zested (or 7 Tbs. lemon juice)
½ tsp salt
1" piece of ginger, peeled and minced finely (I use my zester to grate the ginger)
pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in food processor until desired texture is achieved. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so before serving.

Pita Chips 
4 Whole-Wheat pitas, cut into triangle pieces
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. garlic salt

View full reci Place pita triangles on a baking sheet. Mix oil and spices together in a bowl.  Use a basting brush to coat oil mixture on both sides of the pita triangles. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden and slightly crisp.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Changing the table setting

Eating too large of portion sizes is a common problem for all of us at one time or another.  One fun way to try and combat this is to use smaller plates, bowls, and glasses when eating.  If you put the same amount of food on a large plate and a small plate, you will likely think the amount on the smaller plates looks more satisfying.  Try eating dinner on a salad plate and don't go for seconds.  We often do this at our house.  I also have special ice cream bowls.  They are very cute and small and I really do eat less ice cream because of them. 
Try it for yourself to see if it makes a difference! 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him

Have you read this book?  I have intended on reading it for the past couple of years, and I have finally had the chance to do it.  I really did enjoy it.
It is a memoir of a Cambodian girl who grows up under the Khmer Rouge, a communist organization in Cambodia in the 1970s that resulted in genocide.  It is of course, a sad book, but very humbling.  The whole time I had to remind myself that this was going on only 30ish years ago.  The lack of technology made me think it happened so long ago.  A common subject in the book is food, or rather, the lack of food.  I found myself feeling hungry whenever I read about the poor rice rations they would receive.  Yearning for food was a guiding emotion throughout the whole book, however, longing to be with family and loved ones was even stronger.
I would definitely recommend it.  I learned a lot and like many books with similar themes, it made me appreciate what I have and where I live.