Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cozy Up

Ya'll I made the most delicious green chile mac & cheese the other night.  It came from the December edition of Bon Appetit, in the RSVP section, where you can write in and say "I had the most awesome ________ from _________ in _____, ___" and they will contact the restaurant and ask them for the recipe. 

I guess there are probably some parameters, like maybe they change up a few ingredients or leave out some secret step, but whatever.  If there is some recipe that you love from somehwere you've been, it's worth a shot!

This comes from the Roaring Fork in Scottsdale, AZ and the notes say it would be a great side dish for steak.  I agree with that pairing but I made it with thin cut chicken breasts that I marinated in vegetable oil, hot chile powder (if you don't have that use mild and add a dash of cayenne), cumin, garlic pepper, salt and lime juice.  I served the chicken over the mac & cheese with a lime slice on top for some extra fresh zing.  This was so yummy and comforting, without being too rich. 

I looked to see if there was a link for this on the BA website, but I don't know if they publish their RSVP recipes online or not.  I didn't find a link to this particular recipe.

Green Chile Mac & Cheese
Courtesy of Bon Appetit, via Roaring Fork Restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ

1 whole fresh poblano chile plus 1/4 c chopped fresh poblano chile
1 T corn oil
1/4 c chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c chopped red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c fresh corn kernels or frozen, thawed
3/4 c whipping cream
2 c freshly cooked macaroni (about 2/3 c dried)
1/2 c grated pepper jack cheese
1 pint grape tomatoes, roasted* (optional, see notes below)

Char whole chile directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides.  Transfer to paper bag; seal.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Peel, seed & coarsely chop chile.  Transfer to food processor; puree until smooth.

Heat oil in have large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add 1/4 c chopped chile, bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  Saute until soft, about 4 minutes.  Add corn, stir 1 minute.  Add cream and chile puree, bring to boil.  Add macaroni and cheese; stir until cheese melts and mixture is heated through.  Season with salt and pepper.

* - I made a couple of modifications.  This was all I was serving (chicken and mac/cheese) to our neighborhood dinner swap** so I wanted it to have a bit more vegetable punch.  First off I double all the pepper amounts and then I had about a pint & a half of grape tomatoes at home, so I threw those in the oven and roasted them with olive oil, salt & pepper until they had burst open (10-15 minutes on 400). I thought they went very nicely with the rest of the ingredients.  Stir them in at the end.  They will kind of break up and be all throughout the pasta.

** - Have I told y'all about our dinner swap? Here's the deal: three households who are all within steps of one another do this every week.  Three nights of the week, one house is responsible for dinners for their own house as well as the other two houses, so you are essentially cooking for 6 adults one night a week, and then two other nights dinner is taken care of for you.  It is awesome.  We just all laid some parameters of things to stay away from (one person doesn't like raw bell peppers but will eat them cooked, our house has a pretty strict no-mayo policy, and one person doesn't eat shrimp).  We all have very young kids who typically eat before we do, and we are all OK with eating later (as in, after our kids have gone to bed).  I do think you have to be pretty close in proximity to one another to do this, successfully, on a regular basis, but it's been such a blessing to not have to worry about it.  We started it this summer and all agreed that we wanted to keep it up for a while.  If all the variables work out for, I encourage you to talk to some friends and try it out!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Translation, Please

I have been meaning to get this down somewhere so I can remember.  At 16 months, Mitchell has 30-35 words in his vobabulary.  His first real word was uh-oh, followed by Daddy and dog.  He says Mama a lot more now, which is often mixed with 'mo' (and the accompanying sign for more), I guess because he knows Mama will always feed him!

Here's a rundown of some of what he's saying/doing (since some of it is closer to signing than speaking) these days:
  • wa-wa is the universal word for anything to drink; he drinks his wa-wa in a 'pup'
  • ow-da (outside); he will go and stand at the back door when I ask Dixie if she needs to go outside, and sometimes he'll just go stand there without me even asking and start saying it over and over.  The first syllable is emphasized with a very exaggerated open mouth, where his chin almost touches his chest.
  • poo (for both spoon and fork)
  • peas (please, along with a vigorous rubbing of his chest, to approximate the sign for it)
  • pass (pacifier)
  • bush (brush)
  • bath, which I sometimes get it confused with his pronunciation of either pass or brush, as they all sound similar but he definitely uses them distinctly
  • likes to say nose and then points out the nose, eyes, ears, head/hair and mouth of anyone around; be careful if he goes for your nose or your eyes, as his finger ususally goes IN both; also likes to point out belly buttons if you ask him where people's are but he doesn't really say anything for that yet
  • up and open (both sound similar but I can usually tell which it is he's trying to say)
  • socks/shoes (and his favorite, boots, with emphasis on a long 'ssss' sound at the end)
  • hat
  • ba-bwee (baby)
  • hot ('ot, and then he usually does a little 'ssss' noise because that's how we taught him not to touch the fireplace and the oven and he seems to think it is funny
  • tair for chair
  • light
  • book
  • bubbas (bubbles)
  • Mitchell's name for Santa is Ho.  I'm not sure Santa will apprecite that one.
  • Foods he likes to say are apoo (apple), eths (eggs), ice, cacker, rais (raisins), gape (grape), cheese and he has a word for blueberries but I cannot reproduce it, much less spell it.
  • Animals: dog (also says woo-woo; this continues to be his favorite word, we are all dogs all the time around our house), cow (only says cow sporadically but if he sees a picture of a cow or you ask him what a cow says he will respond with moo), horse (same as with cow, rarely says the word but knows neigh very well), duck (says the word and also knows that a duck says 'dack dack'), cat (prounounces the cat sound like mow instead of meow), 'daff' (giraffe), 'ga ga' (for the gobble gobble of a turkey, although he cannot say that word)
  • He has an animal book that he can identify a lot of the animals in, either by the name of the animal or by the sound they make, but as we all know some animals don't make a noise that is identifiably thiers, or easy to mimic, so I try to tell him something about those animals, like "the zebra has stripes" or "the elephant has a long nose".  One of them I've always done is say "waddle waddle" when we see a penguin, so now he says something like that and sways from side-to-side when he sees one.
  • Names he can say pretty well: Mama, Dada, Dixie, Maddie (next door neighbot/classmate and her name is running a close 2nd to dog these days as his favorite one to say), Mike, Spot (dot), Grampa (pa-pa).  We work on his other classmates' names regularly and he does a pretty good job with all of them but one, which is kind of tough (Dakota; if anything he will say something like 'co' when I say his name).  The others I can make out that's what he's saying are "ez" (Ezra), "dack" (Jack), "day" (Grey), and ess-da (Jessica, a teacher).
  • He loves to say hi and bye.  His new thing is to go tell someone bye when he's ready to go or wants me to be done talking.  He does the bye thing a lot lately if I'm talking on the phone and he's at home with me.  He'll just walk up to me and say 'bye' to me and start grabbing on my legs.  He makes sure I get the message!

I am sure there are plenty of other cuties I'm leaving out.  It is really fun to watch him processing so much.  I know what he comprehends is way more than what he can say, that's for sure!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Big Fat (Random) Holiday Shopping Guide

Hello, fair readers.  Do y'all even remember who I am?  I am so sorry for my blog break of late.  I just cannot seem to get it together enough to write anything, but I learned recently that I have more readers than I knew about, so I guess there is some added external pressure to update this baby so you don't have to look at my Amazon.com wishlist of cookbooks any longer....


Without further ado, here is my big, fat, holiday shopping guide.  There is no rhyme or reason to this list...it is simply a list of interesting gift ideas I've seen lately.  I was going to do separate posts for a bunch of different categories, but clearly I've not shown I'm capable of that much follow through so I'm just going to try to do a mammoth single post.  I hope you find a few things that someone on your shopping list might like too!

For the hostesses on your list

Seeded Glass Pitcher - This beauty would also double as a unique vase, and it's on sale right now!

These soapstone whiskey stones will keep a drink cool without watering it down (you can buy with or without the pictured glasses).  Pair with a nice bottle of his (or her) favorite brown liquor for a complete gift!


This bay leaf peace wreath is a fun twist on an old standby gift idea for me.  I love giving wreaths, especially to those who I don't see very often.  A beautiful greenery wreath goes with most any decor and I think it's definitely one of those gifts that keeps on giving (plus it is stunning as is, so you don't have to worry about it not being wrapped, since most of them cannot be gift-wrapped).   

My favorite place to send wreaths from is Williams-Sonoma.  I have been ordering them for about the last 5 years and they have always been high-quality, long lasting and beautiful!

 I have this Magnolia & Pomegranate Wreath from last Christmas and it is still beautiful. 


 I think this cook's herb wreath is a wonderful option for the chef in your life!



For the person who has everything
Sorry for the blatant giveaway of where I stole this photo from (here is the link to it on amazon.com).  I think this would be great for a friend who has everything and might appreciate some new material on her coffee table (especially one that might have a hidden stash of Us Weekly magazines hidden in a cabinet somewhere).  It's a little bit cheekier than just pictures of landscapes, or houses, etc but still has gorgeous photos. 

There are endless possibilities out there for a photography lover - gorgeous options exist for almost any interest or hobby.  Here are two that I'd love to feature in my home. 
Click on the photo for a link to the item.






Another great idea is a personalized puzzle. I got these puzzles made from a satellite image of an address for several family members on our list (the hometown puzzle is more of a general area).  John's extended family is very hard to buy for, so I just got everyone a puzzle of thier address. If nothing else it will keep them occupied for a while!  I got mine from LL Bean since they have free shipping on everything right now, and I can just ship them directly to the recipeints, who live in FL and CO so we're not going to see them anyway.  However, they are available from a bunch of different retailers, so if you have a coupon or promo code, you may want to do a quick Google search to see if you can use it to buy one from some other retailer. 

For the charitably minded

First, let me say that I totally support charitable giving at the holidays in lieu of gifts.  There is no one on my gift list who truly needs a single thing; nor do I.  Of course getting gifts is fun and that's what most of this list is about, but I fully support this method if this is the way you admirably choose to go.  I hope to push my "gift giving" more in this route in years to come.  A nice note explaining why you have chosen to give to a specific organization in honor of someone is certainly sufficient.  However, if you would rather give a more tangible gift here are some good options.  All of these ideas donate to worthy causes in some way.

Juliska Cornerstones Charity Piggy Bank - available in pewter and signature Juliska whitewash
$8 for every bank sold, with minimum of $50,000 goes to Save the Children; I would write a nice note and encourage the recipient(s) to choose a charity to support with the funds they place in the bank.
(sorry the picture is so tiny, it got very blurry as I tried to make it larger)

This was recently featured on Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things (Did y'all see that one by the way?  Completely over the top.).  We all know teachers who have to pay out of their own pockets for necessary supplies.  This site helps you match up your donation with a classroom.  You can choose what project you want to donate towards.

Kellie is the daughter of Hank Greenwald, who was a baseball broadcaster for the Giants and Yankees during his career.  He published his autobiography in 1999, after which Kellie expressed her desire to put out her own story.  Kellie was born with Down's Syndrome and wanted her book to portray memorable events and emotions in her life.  From Amazon: Kellie's Book expresses her celebration of life & promises to be a source of hope for people with developmental challenges, their families, extended families, providers, & educators. It is a testament to the fact that when children know they are utterly loved & supported, there is no end to what they can achieve & no end to what they can give back by uplifting the lives of those around them.

Part of sales proceeds are being donated to The Cedars of Marin, a facility for adults with developmental disablilties. Y'all know this book hits a soft spot with me.

***There are millions of ways to do this same thing.  If you are passionate about local food, then buy a membership to a local CSA/food box/co-op program.  If you love the Humane Society, sponser a few animals to be spayed/neutered in someone's honor.  If a local charity produces an item that gives the proceeds back to it's causes, buy a few of those for gifts.  The sky is the limit.  I think any thoughtful gesture that supports a cause someone is passionate about is the ultimate gift.***


For the gourmand


There is a heck of a lot of fancy food out there. I prefer to find something sort of cheeky and fun to give; if you see some crazy unique food item and think, "I'd love to try that, but I'd never buy it for myself", then it's a great gift idea.  I like the idea of picking one thing and buying a case, or in whatever bulk quantity for that to just be your signature gift for the year.  Here are a couple of things I've seen that I'd love to try (but probably won't buy for myself, wink wink).



This stuff is made by Vosges, a "haute" chocolate company.  The Mo's Bacon Bar has bits of bacon in a chocolate bar.  This mix has bits of the bar in it.  Need I say more?



Blackberry Farm Spicy Pear Chutney I think by now y'all know I'm obsessed with this place.  Many of its popular products are available for purchase online, and this is one of just several that I want to try.  They even sell a handsome looking birch box that will hold 2 12-ounce jars so you can give someone a sampler if you wanted.  Some other products I have my eye on are the green tomato chutney, the winter jam and the spring thyme marmalade.


As for other food gifts, think regional.  If you love a particular item from your hometown, consider packaging up nuts, cheese straws, honey, jam or any other special item that has some significance to you or the gift giver.  As always, a nice note explaining why the gift is special helps give it that personal touch.  Consider making your own gifts.  I get my ideas most regularly are the kitchn blog, Smitten Kitchen, My Recipes and Real Simple.


For the young (or young at heart)
*My apologies this part of the list is sparse.  As I write this on December 8, I don't even know what I plan to get my own child for Christmas, so I'm hardly able to give you much guidance on what to give yours.*


I am in love with Elizabeth Mitchell's music.  We have You Are My Little Bird, You Are My Flower, You Are My Sunshine and I just ordered her newest release, Sunny Day.  Her songs are sweet, fun and creative, and I find myself listening to them for my own pleasure, which is something I cannot say for all children's music!  Consider tucking one of these into a child's stocking.


Mary Englebreit's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
This book is absolutely beautiful.  Even if you already have a copy of TtNBC, I think this is a gorgeous addition to a child's library.  Her sweet Nursery Tales book is also a great gift.

My favorite children's gifts come from The Land of Nod (free shipping on lots of great gifts right now), Learning Express, or Uncommon Goods.  I know lots of people find lots of wonderful things on Etsy, but I always feel like I need anti-anxiety medicine and a personal shopper before I go looking for anything on there.  There's almost too much available.  If you don't know what you are looking for, do not go there. 

I hope this gives you some great ideas.  If I come up with any other gems this week I will do a follow up.  I am also trying to squeeze in a quick Mitchell update.  Stay tuned!

 
















Friday, October 1, 2010

Wishlist: Cookbook Edition

First off, full disclosure: I am in a cookbook state of mind...I have been working on the fabulous new Junior League of Chattanooga cookbook (out in April 2011), and our committee got to sneak a peek at the cover art last week (gorgeous) so I've got cookbooks on the brain.  Sorry to bore those of you who don't share this obsession with me!

It's not really Christmas shopping season yet (I guess maybe it is for some of you overachiever types), but I've got a wishlist a mile long on Amazon, and just thought I'd share what foodie books I'm pining for lately...maybe you have someone in your life who's like me and would appreciate one of these beauties under her tree?


New Ina, out later this month...I want Ina's life (or at least her house), but since I don't see us moving to the Hamptons any time soon, I will just have to be satisfied with her newest tome.  I have Family Style (this is the cookbook that has my fave lasagna recipe) and Parties and have used them both extensively.  This is what Amazon says about her:
"Ina Garten is known for her uncomplicated but elegant recipes designed for the home cook whose priority is spending time with friends and family--not in the kitchen."  And I ask you, who doesn't want to live like that?

 
This isn't a cookbook, but it's a book about food, which I think counts.  Doesn't that title make you want to read it? If you know who Anthony Bourdain is, and what he's like, it does! I am a huge fan of his TV show, No Reservations, and his persona as a judge on Top Chef, and I love how adventurous he is with food, so clearly reading his "valentine" is a must for folks like me!

I need this one in my collection of famous Birmingham chefs' cookbooks.  Also, I'd like to go eat there very soon.  Who's with me?
New one from The Lee Brothers, the native Southern, NY transplants.  It's OK, I don't hold it against them, because their food is so good!
And last, but certainly not least, this gem:
Y'all, if I ever get to actually go to Blackberry Farm and stay, I will just die and go directly to heaven.  It is located here in East Tennessee, not far from where we live (less than 2 hours), but based on the price of the rooms (cheapest starts at right under $800/night), well, this gorgeous beauty is probably going to have to do me for many years.  I actually recently purchased this one for myself, from a Random House sale on One King's Lane (if you aren't a member and want to join, let me know and I'll send you an invitation) and it is supposed to arrive in a week or so, and I cannot wait.  The pictures are just gorgeous, the recipes are so inviting and well, I think this would just be an awesome gift for your momma, or your sister, or just a very special person in your life. 
In the immortal words of Mrs. Julia....Bon Appetit! 





Fall Feast

Oh Fall, how I love thee! 
I celebrate thee!  I...you get the picture.

After a brutally hot summer, I am especially grateful for Fall this year...our schedule is a bit slower, we're spending breezy afternoons on a blanket in the yard, and just enjoying being a trio after some long months of missing John during baseball season.  This weather always makes me itch to entertain - gather some friends together to watch football, or play in the leaves, or take a ride to the pumpkin patch.  There's just something about fall that to me, says family, hospitality and warmth. 

So I've got a whole slew of recipes I've been collecting, just waiting for the right occasion, and I thought I'd share.  Maybe you can whip up a few for your next gathering. Yes, some of these are heavy....it's almost hibernatin' time...what can I say?  I've tried to throw a few salads and lighter ideas in too, in the interest of balance.  Go take a walk outside to work it off, OK?

Appetizers/Dips/Spreads

  • A perennial favorite in my family & circle of friends is sausage dip.  Mix 2 blocks of softened cream cheese (reduced fat works great, fat free, not so much), a can of rotel (pick your preferred spiciness level), and a package of browned, crumbled and drained bulk sausage (Jimmy Dean Sage is my pick for this) in a baking dish.  I bake mine at 350 until it is bubbly, about 1 hour, depending on the shallowness of your baking dish.  This also works great in a crockpot on low for 4 hours or so.  {Variations: once I accidentally bought a can of Rotel for Chili and it was great as well.}  Serve with tortilla chips.  **I kid you not, we have some friends who are expecting a baby in a few weeks and the husband has already put in his request that I make them a big batch of this when they come home from the hospital.  So easy and so good!**

  • Buffalo Wing Dip: this recipe was borrowed from some college friends of John's.  He has asked me to type it up and submit it to a local bar he frequents to see if they will put it on the menu as an appetizer.  This would work great for a football party.  Shred 1 rotisserie chicken (or a few cooked chicken breasts), combine with 2 blocks softened cream cheese, 1 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing (whichever you like better with your wangs), 3/4 cup finely chopped celery (optional), and 1 bottle of Texas Pete Wing Sauce (or your favorite variety, and I recommend starting with half a bottle and adding more in to taste, I usually end up with about 2/3 of the bottle for a spicy but not scorching taste).  Pour in a big casserole dish (you could also do this in the crock pot) and top with plenty of shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake covered for about 20 minutes at 375, then uncovered for another 10 or long enough to melt the cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips and celery sticks.  If you do this in the crock pot, I'd probably recommend just mixing the cheese in with everything else and cooking on low for 4-6 hours or until bubbly and dippable.

  • Butternut, Goat Cheese and Walnut Spread: just seems a bit more refined and intriguing, don't you think?  I think this would be a gorgeous color from the squash, and perfect garnished with some snipped chives or a sprinkling of fresh thyme. I would like some of these with a glass of sparkling rose, please!

  • Pumpkin Hummus: as a lover of all things hummus, I think I owe it to myself to try this one, soon!  Heck, you could even use your leftover seeds from pumpkin carving to make this dish.

  • Spiced Walnuts (makes 1 cup): combine 1/4 t each of ground cumin, ground cinnamon & ground nutmeg in a bowl, add 1 T honey.  Toss in 1 cup walnut halves and stir to coat it in the spice mixture.  Sprinkle 1/2 t kosher salt {not sure why you couldn't just put this in with the spices, that's what I would do} over the nuts and pour onto a sheet pan coated with wax paper.  Put in a 300-degree oven and toast for approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown in color.  Cool, and devour.  Store up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. 

  • Olive Biscuit Cookies: I must admit, these sound fascinating and maybe a little scary, but you'd better bet I'm trying them very soon! {based on her comments I'm not sure if they should be here or in desserts, but I just flipped the coin and put them here!}
Entrees/Salads/Sides - I restrained myself from posting about 90 soups I have bookmarked to try.  The one I did include comes with a ringing endorsement from my kitchen, to yours (sorry, Paula Deen, I sort of stole your line).

  •  44-Clove Garlic Soup: please, please, please, even if you aren't a huge garlic person, try this soup.  You roast a bunch of it, which takes away the bite that some peole don't usually like about garlic, and the end result is something so wonderful that I think you'll be a convert.  This soup is one of those recipes that seems very impressive, and if you serve it to guests, they'll be pretty blown away, but it's really not that much work, so it is pretty manageable to do even on a weeknight {provided you get started on roasting the cloves as soon as you get home, or don't mind a really late dinner time} 

  • Spinach Salad with Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette: this dressing is fantastic, such a great twist, and it perfectly compliments the rich, creamy gorgonzola cheese.  We like to add dried cherries to this salad; sweetened dried cranberries or thinly sliced tart apples would work too.  Perfect anytime, but it just seems to fit especially for fall (I think it was originally featured in a Cooking Light Thanksgiving issue). 

  •  I subscribe the Weeknight Kitchen e-mail newsletter of Lynn Rosetta Kasper's American Public Media radio show, The Splendid Table {since our station doesn't air that fabulous show, and I don't usually get around to listening to it online}.  I saved the newsletter from earlier in the month that featured a smoked ham, cheddar and pear sandwich that sounds like a great step up from tailgating or picnic food.  I cannot link to it, as it is originally published in a cookbook and reprinted with permission (and the newsletters are only available for a week online), and I don't really want to type the entire thing out in this bullet-pointed post, so if that sounds like your sort of thing, e-mail me and I'll forward you the recipe.

  • I was given a handwritten recipe for a Spinach Ricotta Pie, along with a pie plate, by a dear friend at a wedding shower.  It is delicious and comforting, goes great with a simply dressed green salad, and freezes beautifully.  Along with deep dish quiche, I make this one all the time and I think it is an easy weeknight meal, even for someone who's not particularly adept in the kitchen (plus it is kid-friendly which I am always on the lookout for).  Again, I don't really know how to share it here, but please e-mail me if you are interested in having the recipe!

  • Ina's Turkey Lasagna: this uses turkey Italian sausage and while not cheap (lots of cheeses, including goat, to buy), it is so yummy and it is my go-to recipe.  Ina will never steer you wrong, folks!

  • I have been working to perfect a sweet potato and bacon hash that was born out of a dish I took to Thanksgiving dinner last year with John's family.  There is no real recipe {I was asked to bring a side dish, and John asked me to try to go for a hashbrown type dish using sweet potatoes and I tried a few different ideas out before settling on what I actually served to his family, but since then I've made it a few times and tried out some different tweaks}, but if you are interested, let me know and again, I'll try to write something down for you.  This would be good with pork or turkey, although last week I served it under pecan crusted fish.  I'm thinking this is going to become a staple in our house, so it's probably good if I "write" a recipe anyway.
Desserts

  • Um, Homemade Nutella.  Need I say more?  She even gives you an idea for how to put it into a tart!

  • Butterscotch Pudding: if and when I make this, John will give me a big, fat kiss.  He loves butterscotch anything (which I only recently discovered, I guess the subject just never came up???), so I've got this one in my queue!

  • Pumpkin Bread Pudding: all evidence to the contrary, based on the text immediately above, but John's really not a big dessert person.  About once a month he'll ask me if we have something sweet in the house (answer is usually no, or the sugar free popsicles I do have to offer get turned down with a huff) but other than that it usually goes to waste (or to my waist) if I make anything.  But last year for his birthday his parents were coming down and I knew they'd be upset if there wasn't something to sing Happy Birthday over; of all the desserts, cake is both of our least favorite, and growing up, John's mom would make him a pumpkin pie for his birthday (close proximity to Thanksgiving).  At any rate, I found this, it looked pretty easy, so that's what I served for his birthday.  Hey, it had bourbon in it, which is really more his kind of dessert anyway!  And it was yummy.  It is very low maintenance and would be easy to whip up on short notice.  And I hear the canned pumpkin shortage is officially over, so you shouldn't have a problem finding it this year.

  • I recently made these gingersnaps and they were good, although I increased all the spices from the amounts as it is written, as I like my g'snaps with a lot of bite.  I am going to keep playing with it and try less sugar in the cookie itself next time - they still didn't have quite the spice factor I wanted, but the teachers at Mitchell's school loved 'em!  I made mine more of a regular cookie size; this recipe as written says it will yield 250-300 cookies, but apparently gingersnaps were originally a tiny, bite size cookie, about the size of a quarter or half-dollar.  Based on the size that I made mine, I think I got close to 3 dozen out of them.
Happy pumpkin patching, tailgating, leaf-jumping and all your other favorite Fall activities!  Go work up an appetite!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Piglet

Mitchell's latest nickname is Piglet.  It's just so descriptive.  He always wants "mo" (usually accompanied with the hand gesture) and he just gobbles up whatever you give him.  John called him the trash compactor the other night.  We went to the doctor today (he's been pitiful all weekend but the doctor says it is probably just a secondary infection from him being stopped up/congested from allergies, so we have antibiotics) and he weighed 25 lbs, 8 oz this morning.

Here's little piglet at a birthday party this weekend, with a tight grip on a cupcake:
(Sorry, this is in the right orientation on my file but it keeps turning when I upload it, any advice from my fellow bloggers?)

And here's a recent video of him sucking down an entire sippy of milk in about 30 seconds:


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nanas and Other News - 13 Month Update

I have been a blog slacker of late.  My apologies.  Life has been busy, my camera is being cantankerous and I guess I've been suffering from a bit of writer's block too. 

Mitchell is now 13 months old and continues to amaze us with a new "tricks" daily.  I have been working on the sign for "more" with him for months, but they also use a lot more signs in his new class at school and all of a sudden he busted out the more sign this weekend and I got so excited.  It sure beats the urgent grunts and pointing at things he wanted before! 

His vocabulary continues to expand but really more than anything it's his comprehension of what we're saying to him that amazes me.  He can say Dixie, Daddy (very rarely does he say Momma), hi/hey, hello (usually with hand up to his neck like he is talking on the phone), 'nana (more on that in a sec), a sound that approximates out (as in outside, when we take Dixie to the bathroom), and a very Southern pronunciation of "ice", which basically sounds like EYE-th (emphasis on the loooong "i" sound).  However, if I say "bring me your shoes" he will go over, get them, and bring them back and sit down so I can put them on him (generally, I don't want anyone to think this happens every time, by any means), or if I ask "where" something is he will put his arm up in the air, with his palm turned up, and then will walk around that way until he finds the object.  He is doing a lot of things like that now, so I won't bore anyone with going into more detail, but we are constantly amazed at how fast he is learning and doing new things!

The boy loves his 'nanas.  He has several books that have pictures of bananas in them and I quite nearly have to avoid those pages because he almost always wants a banana as soon as he sees one or hears the word.  It is hilarious.  If one of us point to it and say 'nana, about as fast as he can repeat the word he is up and moving off toward the kitchen and will stand and point up to spot on the counter where he knows I usually keep them.  Luckily we haven't had the problems that bananas can sometimes pose on the intestinal system, but I do try to limit his banana consumption to one per day.

John recently had Mitchell solo for 3 days (Sunday - Tuesday) when I had to go out of town for work.  The boys did great together and they seemed to both have a ball.  John told me tha the was really glad he had that time alone with him (as much as they both missed me, of course), because of his schedule this summer and the fact that Mitchell wasn't all that familiar with him anymore.  Even I could tell a huge difference when I got back, at how much Mitchell would go do him and want John  to do things for him that he'd normally have have wanted me for previously.  It's also nice to see now that Mitchell will just as readily reach out for John when he's tired or upset, when before it alwasy HAD to be me.  Not that I ever minded, but I think any of my readers can understand how nice it is to be able to share that burden with a partner from time to time.  John was also great to send me lots of pictures, texts and videos of my boy while I was gone.  I'll post two of my fave pics; I wish I could post the videos but I cannot figure out how to transfer them off my phone.  They don't e-mail like a picture does. 

Eating breakfast

Fish face

One thing I do have on video is M's newest trick.  He now climbs up our stairs, and every night he waits for us to move the baby gate out of the way so he can lead the charge up for bath/bedtime.  It is so funny and he seriously loves it.  I think we have done well with teaching him about safety though.  If he's ready to go down stairs he will just go and stand by the gate and wait for one of us.  I'm really trying to reward that behavior through lots of praise, so that he keeps that up!


Anywho, we're loving life with our boy and I'm sure I've left out all sorts of fun tidbits, but at least that's a little glimpse into our days of late!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Harbinger of Football Season

To shake things up a bit, I just wanted to give a big hallelujah that's nearly football season.  The weather is cooling off (marginally) and I cannot believe Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us!  Clearly the spotlight is on my team, the Crimson Tide, thanks to our national championship season last year, and it's been fun seeing all the stuff that has been in the media lately.  I don't even live in the state, and being up here in Big Orange Country (yuck) limits the access we get to fun little snippets of Bama news.

I was so thrilled to get to watch the ESPN special that was done on the team. It got me really in the mood for college football. I DVR'd it and enjoyed watching last weekend.  The two things that were the funniest to me was the kid who did the awesome impression of Nick Saban (this kid seems like he might have a future on-camera) and the focus they gave to the very colorful Bama strength coach.  If you are so inclined, here are snippets from them both!  Roll Tide!

Robert Ezell Imitates Coach Saban


Coach Cochran Motivational Playlist - this guy is hilarious
http://www.mixpod.com/playlist/64992893

Ch-ch-ch-changes

So this is mostly more for me, probably stuff that should have gone on his 12 month status update post, but also a few things I wanted to get down somewhere so I can remember them later.  I feel like sometime that this blog is my psuedo-baby book (which is handy, since I don't have one {don't be horrified I just have this big stack of stuff I'm keeping to put in one eventually, but I haven't found one I like yet, so if y'all know of any that are cute, let me know}).

His 12 month pediatrician visit went pretty smoothly.  Since we hadn't been for a check up since 9 months (although she has seen him once in between there, for something, cannot remember what), she asked me if he was pulling up on things yet and I laughed out loud before I told her that he was walking by 10 months.  He showed off for her a bit and she was impressed.  He weighed 24 lbs, 4 oz (75th) and was 31 1/4 inches long (90th).  His head was also in the 90th percentile.  She said we could turn him around and while I know it is recommended to leave them rear-facing as long as possible, we did go ahead and turn him last weekend so that he would have more leg room.  His poor legs were jammed up against the back of the seat in his old seat, and I just know he wasn't very comfortable anymore.  He seems to love the new-found independence of being forward-facing.  I keep meaning to take the flip video with me some morning so I can get some footage of him (at a red light, of course).  He likes to point, gesture and vocalize about whatever it is he has spotted on our way to and from school. 

As my mom said to me this weekend, as soon as he figures out the sounds that he needs to put together, this boy is going to be talking.  He babbles all day long and is trying out all sorts of new sounds.  He can say what I know means "outside", since I always talk to him about Dixie having to go outside to go to the bathroom, and if I ask him if he wants to go take Dixie outside he will walk over to the back door and hold his arms up for me to pick him up.   He also knows what "upstairs" means and will try to say it, but it comes out like "uh-says".  He will point upstairs or lift his head up like he's trying to see who is up there.  Hilarious.  He stayed with my parents last week for a couple of nights and came back saying all kinds of new sounds.  Nothing that resembles any new words, just new sound combinations that I haven't heard him say.

He is also doing the open mouth kiss these days, which about makes me swoon every time he does it.  He and Dixie seem to be reaching an equilibrium which is also nice to see, although lately we've had to deal with multiple screaming fits because Mitchell will offer Dixie whatever it is he is eating, and she, not being a very well-trained dog (our fault), will take it.  That used to amuse him but now it makes him mad.  This kid is serious about his eating, y'all!  We're working on that.  I have explained to Mitchell that if he offers something to the dog, she is going to eat it, but clearly that concept hasn't really translated yet!

Sorry, no pics on this post.  Just boring, minute details (to all of you). :)

Pigpen, 3.0

I just couldn't resist sharing these pictures from yesterday afternoon.  Mitchell seems to have a special knack for getting particularly filthy no matter where he is.  He is one of the only ones at school that seems to get food all over him, no matter what (this is based on my very unscientific visual survey of other children when I pick him up in the afternoons, and I recognize that all children are somewhat messy eaters at this age).  But more than that, it's just that he seems to go at life with gusto, which I totally love about him.  I do think sometimes it would be nice to have a child that's a bit more docile and might, from time to time, sit still and just chill out, but I wouldn't trade his adventurous little personality for all the tea in China.

This full contact attitude does mean lots of mess, though.  Yesterday I had to go to M's school for a meeting of the Parents' Council (we were discussing a new pergola that is going to be built on the playground, yay) and they were out on the playground when I arrived.  Luckily I was able to observe M for a few minutes from afar and I just got so tickled.  All of the kiddies in his room were just sort of toddering around in their area, but no one was really getting into it like my boy.  He was in constant motion: moving pea gravel around with the shovel, tumbling in and out of the toy car multiple times, manhandling his way into the toy house through the window.  (No wonder I'm worn out on those weekends where it's just me and him!) But I didn't really get a good look at him, and then John picked him up so I didn't see him up close until I got home. 

I mean, just look at this child.  He was playing back behind a chair when I came in the back door, and as soon as he rounded the corner I just burst out laughing.  He was simply filthy, and he had the biggest grin on his face to go with it.  The pictures really do not do the filth justice.  I love my little pig pen!

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Baby is One!

Ok, so this post is overdue.  Mitchell's birthday was Wednesday, and his party was last weekend.  Life has just been so crazy lately and I really haven't had the time to sit down and devote the time to this I want.  The past week has been such a whirlwind, and I have been somewhat emotional thinking about how our lives have changed in the course of 365 days (give or take a few). 

(2 Days Old)

This time last year we were coming home from the hospital with a new baby, both scared and apprehensive, but excited about getting to know our little man. We had no idea about the hard nights we would endure, buckets of tears we would shed (by both me and Mitchell) and yes, the arguments we would have when we were frustrated, confused or just plain tired.  I still haven't lost all my baby weight, and there are some days I swear that my house will never be clean again, that I'll never have time to sit down and just read a book, and that I wish I could just run out and accomplish a quick errand that had just occured to me needing doing.


(1 Year Old)

However, we also had no idea how deeply we would fall in love. Not just with our son, but with each other in a way that was different than the way we'd loved before, tested and forged by confronting and overcoming the difficult moments that parenting holds while sharing in the immesurable joy that it also brings!  I cannot imagine what my life would be like without him in it.  I live for the first grin he gives me in the morning, for his giggles, his babbles, watching his chunky legs churn as he motors around the house, his inquisitiveness, and his little mischevious streak.  I cherish every snuggle he gives me, steal every kiss I can from him, and never miss telling him how much his Daddy and I love him.  My priorities certainly have changed, but I can honestly say that I really don't mind that a bit. 

(Goofin' with Daddy)

We are so amazed that we've been given this wonderful gift of Mitchell.  He has such a sweet, happy spirit, and I pray that he continues to be so good-natured for all of his days.  He rarely meets a stranger and seems to be a natural flirt (when he gets to high school I am probably going to be a mess over these same qualities, right?).  This boy has me firmly wrapped around his tiny little fat fingers.


(Birthday morning with Mommy)

He's always been in a hurry in life (except for while I was pregnant with him, they had to induce me and then still it was about 17 hours before he finally arrived), bearing weight on his legs at a couple of months, rolling over at 3 months, first tooth at just over 4 months, sitting up and crawling during his 5th & 6th months and finally, taking a step just shy of 9 months and fully walking by 10 months. In such a developmental whirlwind, it can be hard to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.


(Mitchell wants to know what the fun is in sittng still, anyway?)

But it has been so fun to see him grow over this past year.  There's not much he's doing new from his 11 month update: babbling a bit more, pointing to indicate he wants something, shaking his head no intentionally now (so cute, but I know soon I will probably be wanting to eat those words), and starting to try to say a few words that we can just barely make out.  He will say something that sounds like Dixie, shoe, and my favorite, which is sit down.  Obviously only we can make these out.


(I hope you can see the blurred hand here, he was wailing and flapping and I'm sure our neighbors appreciated the wake-up call, this being about 7 a.m. on Sunday morning)

And grow he has!  At his 12 month check-up, he weight 24 lbs, 4 oz (75th percentile) and was 31 1/4 inches long (90th percentile).  His legs have started to get longer and his pants now look more like he is going wading (time to hit my mom up for some new ones).

(Barely filling up the carseat, on the way to our first doctor's appt four days after he was born)


(Using the carseat as a jungle gym)

I have been a bit apprehensive about how he'd take to phasing out the bottle at school, but all of a sudden in the last week or two he has gotten great about drinking from a cup and is almost entirely on cow's milk now during the day.  He just nurses once before bed, and I will continue that until baseball season is over so John will be around to help put him to bed consistently during that process.  He has just taken so naturally to the changes that come with growing up. 

(Big Boy...Big Belly)

He starts in his new classroom on Monday (delayed slightly by them wanting another child who will probably have a harder time to be able to move up with him, so that they both have a buddy while they are adjusting), and while we will miss his teachers in the infant room, he hasn't really been an "infant" in so long that it is clearly time! 

We're ready to charge head-first into year two of life with Mitchell!  Thanks for the encouragement you've given through gifts, notes, e-mails, phone calls and yes, reading this blog.  It is so nice to have a place to express myself AND show off my sweet thang!




Friday, July 30, 2010

Heeeey!


M's new favorite word is 'hey'.  I guess I say it way too much if he's already picking up on it!

He especially loves "talking" to the baby on the side of the Target diaper box.

(My apologies for the jerky parts in the middle)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Blue Chair

I bought this little blue chair when I was pregnant with MKM.  My hope was to use it in the nursery to hold books or stuff animals, but with that full-sized bed in there the sapce is at a premium, so it has just been hanging out in random spots around the house ever since.  I figured we could use it as Mitchell's deck chair once he got a little bit bigger.  It's been in a corner near the front door lately, and he's gotten very curious about it.  Not long ago I pulled it out and sat him up in it; his little eyes just lit up and you could almost see his chest puff up with pride.  So cute.  Now he motions to me to get it out every so often and likes to play on and around it.  Here's the full set of shots I captured the other day:












And then he hopped off, grabbed my keys, told me he was going to the movies, and said not to wait up. 

But seriously, he looks so old.  Sob!  My little one is growing up so fast!