Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Did I mention...

...that our daughter is one of the silliest people we know? Here is her posing as a gypsy. I think this is one of my favorite pictures of her. This is her last 'mommy & me' dance class we were involved in during the Spring. She really liked being able to move around, look in the mirrors on the wall, watch the big kids move around, and DANCE with style.

Tactile & Messy
As a mother I am a proponent of children (mine in particular) exploring tactilely with their food, and have encouraged this since Veronica started eating solids. I figure the mess is a normal part of babies & children and would rather not try to keep her clean, causing her to not want to try new foods. So far it seems like it's working since she likes a variety of foods.

However, this whole exploring food thing does backfire on me occasionally; like when you serve some yogurt for breakfast and she's eating well and the mom (say me) turns her head for a second, only to find that her daughter (say Veronica) has put her yogurt covered hands all over her hair. Needless to say--we took a shower.

She is also getting closer and closer to walking independently and it's really amazing to see this whole process. Just in the past two days she's really taken off in the mobility department. I was holding her and set her down. Normally, she will plop on her bottom; but, this time she kept her legs straight and just stood there...and continued to stand there...and a little longer. The best part was her face as she looked down at her legs & feet and then up at me. I'm sure she was thinking, "Look at how amazing I am mama--I'm doing it by myself!"

It's amazing how fresh air mixed with sunshine can change a toddler's day (and her attitude). We try to go out everyday. Well, it's more like Veronica makes sure of it (not that I disagree). She likes going out on the deck and playing in her inflatable duck tub.

Last Friday I blew it up, put her swimsuit on, and filled up the ducky with water. She really liked it. In fact, I haven't deflated it yet so everyday she wants to go out and simply sit in her empty duck tub and play with some toys. Another thing she likes about the deck is picking up some of the soil from my lavender plant pot and dropping it...over and over and over again.

Many Faces

has many faces throughout the day. Here are some of her playing peek-a-boo with me as I perch over a chair taking snap shots. She was so cute doing this.

She also really likes putting her finger in her nose and waiting for me to say, "Veronica, get your finger out of your nose." After which she laughs and keeps it there. I try to ignore it and hopefully this doesn't turn into a bad habit.

I also sing a song to her which requires me to stick my tongue out during part of it. She loves the song and just today I noticed her sticking her tongue out and humming that part of the song.

That's a day in our life--sounds like a lot, but it probably all took place within two hours or less and I'm only showing you a portion of it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Father's Day

Ben was given a special hand-painted coffee mug done by Veronica, along with buttermilk pancakes (you can barely see Ben's mug in the corner of the picture of him pouring syrup). He really likes pancakes. It was a nice sunny day, so we got soft-serve cones at Dairy Queen. This was also Veronica's first cone--what do you think she thought of it?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Time with G&G

Ben & I spent our Saturday enjoying one another going to different places in Bellingham to celebrate our anniversary, while Veronica enjoyed her time with Grandpa & Grandma. They went to the mall, McDonalds, and simply enjoyed playing.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Peanut Butter Scotcharoos

Peanut Butter Scotcharoos
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups rice krispies
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Lightly grease a 9x13 pan. Combine sugar & corn syrup in pot over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved remove from heat. Add peanut butter and mix into sugar syrup until smooth. Add your rice krispies and stir till completely coated. Pour into your greased 9x13 pan and smooth out.

In a small pan combine butterscotch & semi-sweet chips over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour over the rice krispies in pan. You can either let them cool at room temperature or in the fridge. The chocolate will set at room temperature. Cut & serve.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Herb garden

Here are photos to add to my previous post.

(L-R) Cilantro, Fennel & Chives; Mint & Sweet Peas (flowers); Oregano, Rosemary, & Parsley; Lavender; Lavender; Tomato plant; strawberry plant
Cilantro, Fennel & Chives

Parsley & Basil

Lavender (above); Marjoram, Rosemary, Sage & Thyme (below)

Celebrating 10 years & 6 years

When I woke up this morning, Ben reminded me that we met 10 years ago today. It just happens to fall on his mom's birthday. Well, four years & two days after we met is the day we got married.

When Veronica & I got home this morning from our Thursday playgroup, I had a wonderful bouquet of flowers awaiting me. I thought it was for our upcoming six year anniversary, but inside the card it read, "Happy 10 years!" I'm reminded quite frequently that I married a wonderful person.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My little girl

I was just watching a video from the day Veronica was born and it's so hard to believe how far we've all come since that day. I still remember her little cry when she was only in her first days of life, it was so sweet & beautiful with such innocence. I look forward to meeting this second little one in November and being able to take it a bit more easy the second time around. I'll be 16 weeks on Thursday. Here is me and my little girl.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In the Kitchen Part 2

There are so many kitchen gadgets or specialty food items on the market, and it's hard to know which ones are necessary. Speaking from experience, I'm totally a sucker for these little gimmicks. You might know the stores with their cute little plates with a sweet little Easter chick, or the kitchen section with all those wonderful little utensils nicely placed in their metal tin boxes. You've seen them, the spoon specially made to get grapefruit sections out nice & neatly, or the banana slicer (much like the egg slicer), or...well you get the point.

I think there's always room to declutter in the kitchen, (because how many times have I used my little brioche tins) no matter if you're a novice or amateur. I also realize that many people don't have some basic cooking supplies in their kitchen, which brings me much sadness, and they need to be informed. So here's to some basics

  1. Kosher Salt: What was the world like before using kosher salt? You might be asking, "what makes kosher salt kosher?" Well, nothing really. In most parts of the world they use the word coarse cooking salt. It gets it's name from the word "koshering," but not the same as kosher laws from the Torah. Under the Torah you would kosher a killed animal to draw out the blood. So what's the difference between this and table salt? The main difference is kosher salt contains no iodine or non-caking agents, it's also known for it's coarser grain making it preferable to use in cooking. I like it because you have more control over it, you don't have to add as much, and if you need to add a little garnish--kosher salt gives that nice crystalline look.
  2. Herb Garden: Since we don't have a place for a full blown garden I do what I must by container gardening. This means that I don't have as many options. Last year I planted other things aside from herbs, but they didn't all turn out as well. So, this year I stuck to herbs. It's great because I can go on the deck and cut off what I need to enhance the flavor of my dish. For those of you who have not benefited from fresh herbs in a dish--I highly recommend it. Last year I made this dish and added fresh oregano (yum!) and Ben who isn't into the culinary thing like me quickly said, "there's something different about this dish--it tastes more fresh." "Does it taste like fresh oregano?" "Yeah, that's what it is--it's really good." Good herbs to have on hand: Italian parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives, & oregano. I also have mint (which grows like a weed, so when it looks like it's dead in the winter--it's NOT), sage, marjoram, cilantro, fennel, & lavender. Pretty much grow what you like to cook with the most. Thyme is good in stews or roasted chicken. Rosemary is great with roasted vegetables, chicken, or Italian dishes. Chives great for potatoes or savory scones. Parsley is great for so many things. Fennel tastes like licorice and is great with salads.
More for later!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Little Seniorita!

Veronica is showing her Mexican heritage as a poquita Senorita.

Personality Roaring

For a while I knew it was coming, but I didn't know it was going to come on this strong and so soon...Tantrums!!! Veronica's personality is very big in so many ways (she reminds me of me). Whenever she expresses herself, she does it with such vibrancy.

Of course, she displays more of the negative side of her verbal & facial expression with me and turns on the batting eyes and bright smile for everyone else. It's kind of funny to watch as she's sounding like a cat who got stepped on one moment and then saying, "Hiiii!" and smiling at a stranger the next. I guess the women in this household don't believe in doing things without a bang!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Daddy Daughter Day

While I was away on Saturday, Ben & Veronica spent the day together and had a blast. Starting their morning going to McDonald's (Veronica's first time). Then, off to Petsmart to see the animals and shortly after to visit mommy, where Veronica was able to do tricks with her hippo. They finished their afternoon with swingtime at Whatcom Falls Park. Here are some pictures from their Saturday extravaganza.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Panna Cotta w/Balsamic Strawberries

Yesterday I organized, planned, and cooked for a group of graduating Seniors from WWU, who have been involved in the college ministry Ben and I were involved in as college students. I remember my friend Joe asking me years ago if I actually enjoyed doing this job, and without hesitation, "YES!" He looked at me as if he didn't believe my answer, b/c when he had to fill in one year, he really didn't like it at all.

I think yesterday was the best one I had done, mainly because the menu was simple but elegant, I had planned out the day, and I had wonderful volunteers helping me. For me, deciding the menu is the hardest, b/c there are so many options. So every year I invite friends over to taste what I am thinking of serving and they rave. The problem is every year I never stick with what I serve my friends, except this year, and I think it was a hit. The director and pastor who married us, Brady, said he thought it was one of the best Senior Banquets ever, which was great to hear.

While I had the main dish down (which was Creamy Tomato Pasta), I still had to finalize my dessert. I went back & forth with different options and came back to one I had made in late summer, Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries. I think when you hear it, like most, you might think, "Balsamic & Strawberries?--are you sure?" I knew most of these students had never eaten panna cotta, let alone heard of it before, which made it even more perfect. I want to share this wonderful recipe with you to woo your guests, because though it's elegant--it's very simple to make. It's from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa at Home Cookbook). Enjoy!

Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries
  • 1 packet (2 tsp) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 pints (8 cups) sliced fresh strawberries
  • 5 Tb balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated lemon zest, for serving
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on 3 tablespoons of cold water. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the gelatin to dissolve.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the cream, the yogurt, and vanilla extract. Split the vanilla bean and use the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds into the cream. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Off the heat, add the softened gelatin to the hot cream and stir to dissolve.

Pour the hot cream-gelatin mixture into the cold cream-yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Pour into 8 (6- to 8-ounce) ramekins or custard cups and refrigerate uncovered until cold. When the panna cottas are thoroughly chilled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Thirty minutes to an hour before serving, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and pepper. Set aside at room temperature.

To serve, run a small knife around each dessert and dip the bottom of each ramekin quickly in a bowl of hot tap water. Invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate and surround the panna cotta with strawberries. Dust lightly with freshly grated lemon zest and serve.

Serves 8