Saturday, May 26, 2012

Best Summer Salad

I don't usually post a lot of recipes but I mentioned a great summertime salad a couple of weeks ago and promised I'd share the recipe.

I like to keep my promises.

So here you go -- just in time for your Memorial Day picnic. Here is the recipe for a salad I always make in the summer. Every time we have guests, they ask for the recipe so I figured I'd post it here.

It is a very forgiving salad, so feel free to substitute if you don't have something! I always make sure to use fresh mint though - it is the secret ingredient that gives the salad a unique flavor. I also never leave out the fresh garlic or chives.



Ingredients:
1 cup barley
Grape tomatoes, halved
Cucumbers, chopped
1 can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Fresh spinach, finely chopped
Fresh cilantro, chopped (about a handful)
Fresh basil, chopped
Fresh mint, chopped
Fresh chives, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
Feta cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Directions:
Cook barley and rinse off in cool water, drain

Add to big salad bowl with all the above ingredients

Mix well.

Enjoy!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up


We've had better weekends . . .

Jason is working on building a new deck, which requires ripping out the old one.

In doing so, this weekend he had  a bit of a freak accident.  While he was removing the old deck, a nail flew up and hit him in the mouth, shattering one of his front teeth. 

Everything is still in place but the tooth has a major crack in it and J is in a lot of pain.  The dentist says she thinks there's only a 5% chance they might be able to save the tooth.

We have to wait a few days before we'll know.

Best case scenario:  they save the tooth, but it requires a root canal, removing the cracked part and building a crown.

The worst case scenario:  the tooth cannot be saved and Jason will need to get an implant (which is a long process and quite expensive).

He is in a lot of pain.

Please keep him in your prayers.


Even with a shattered tooth and the grim outlook from the dentist, we've learned to count our blessings and focus on the positives.

We're grateful the nail didn't hit him in the eye (he's learned to wear protective goggles now at the very least).

Here's our weekend wrap up in pictures:










(Recycled old deck boards for raised garden bed, which is what I wanted for Mother's Day)










Even with a shattered tooth, my husband got up on Mother's Day and surprised me by making strawberry chocolate chip pancakes and eggs (I ate them so quickly I forgot to take a picture).  He opened the pool, made me a raised garden bed so I can plant some vegetables this year, took us out to dinner and took us out for ice cream. 


Isn't he amazing?



I'd love him even if he were toothless.

Lessons from My Mom

  Treat others how you want to be treated 


 Always wear clean underwear . . . if you got into a car accident or had an emergency and had to go to the hospital, you wouldn't want to be caught with dirty drawers on.


Kill them with kindness






 When you don't know what to do . . . do nothing


In the summertime if it gets too hot, it's okay to eat a banana split for dinner


  Deal with everything one day at a time


 Pray


 You can tell how kind a person is by how they treat animals.



 Don't walk too close to vans in parking lots or parking garages


 Pick an ugly guy to date - then you don't have to worry about them cheating on you
(I didn't listen . . . Jason isn't ugly . . . but he's not a cheater either!)


 Learn how to walk in high heels


 Don't wear too much make up


Moisturize your face and wear sunscreen


You can do anything you set your mind to


 "I will always love you . . . no matter what you do.  Even the most horrific thing you could do would never make me stop loving  you."


 Trust your gut and go with it


Visit your local health food store


 Support your local farmers





 Believe in miracles



 Don't be afraid of what other's think of you -- even when  you're searching for the Loch Ness Monster


 "Strung out, higher than a kite, stick it in your ear and turn it to the right"


 Leave a note if you're going somewhere to let those who love you know where you are


Don't depend on a man


 Always do your best



 Grow a garden and eat fresh food



 Enjoy nature


 Don't judge others who are different from you


 Support women



 Try new foods


 Send letters


 Drink tea


Create


 Accept people for who they are


 Stay up late


 Sleep in



 Be spontaneous



Go to church




 You cannot spoil a baby


 Recognize fresh mint - pick it, eat it, cook with it


 Don't go to bed mad


 FORGIVE


 Read


 Know how to apply make up so you don't look like a hooker


Take family vacations


 If you've got it, flaunt it (but don't look like a hooker)


Have Confidence in Yourself


 Laugh a lot


 DREAM  BIG



 It doesn't matter how much  your children have, what matters is how much time you spend with them



 Don't miss your child's athletic events or school functions

 Love your relatives . . . even the whacky ones


 No one's life is perfect - even if they present it to you that way


 Be thankful


 Dress up for Halloween, even as an adult.






Eat dinner as a family


Enjoy winter


You can take the day off on your birthday



 Babies are gifts from God - even if the timing wasn't "right." (Thanks Mom)






 Advocate for your children


Call and let your mother know you made it in safely (even when you're in your 30s)





When you're sick, drink clear fluids - lots of 'em
(and might I add that my mom gave me a BELL to ring when I was sick and she'd come and find out what I needed?!)


 If your gut tells you not to trust someone around your children - don't


 Women are just as competent as men - even if society tells you differently


 Have manners at the dinner table


 Fly a kite on windy days


 Learn how to whistle (I still can't do it with my fingers the loud way . . . )


 Play in the rain


 Rent movies, pop popcorn and have a movie night





Prepare more food than you think  you need so no one feels like they can't have seconds


 Believe in children



 Knit - for yourself and others



 Take a class to learn something new (remember pottery?)



 Hunt for sea glass at the beach


Feed the birds


 Call ANYTIME - even in the middle of the night


  If a man really loves you, he will want to spend time with you


 Cheer loudly for your team -- even if your "team" is you child's and the cheering might embarrass them.


Pick berries, pick apples, pick pumpkins (but don't pick your nose . . . at least not in public)







Take lots of pictures


Always kiss goodnight



Thank you for having such a positive impact on my life Mom.  I love you!



Happy Mother's Day!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Containing Kid Clutter

I've gotten a lot of requests from people asking how we contain all of the "stuff" that goes along with having kids.

Specifically . . . people want to know what we do with all the PLASTIC that kids play with.

No, we're not one of those Waldorf families that only has their kids play with toys made from natural resources.

I wish we were.

But I can't turn down good, clean, hand-me-down plastic toys.

And my sister-in-law Kim has A LOT of plastic toys that she's so graciously handed over to Noah.

Sure, wood toys look so much nicer, but there are some really cool plastic toys and frankly,
I'm not a toy snob.

Especially when I didn't have to spend a dime.

So how do we manage it all?

Well, like anyone else . . . it accumulates and accumulates and then I take a step back one day and realize my house has become one giant piece of brightly colored plastic that makes lots of obnoxious noises over

and over

and over

again.


I realize that Noah isn't playing with a lot of his plastic either.

And then I decide, enough is enough.

I'm going to get this toy situation under control once and for all.

So first, I pick out ONLY the toys that Noah plays with on a regular basis.  I don't spend a whole lot of time hemming and hawing about it. I just grab about 10 toys in his bedroom that he plays with.

I empty out his entire toy box and clean everything off the floor that he doesn't play with and I store it in a plastic bin in his closet.  These are toys that I will rotate out when he tires of his "most favorite" toys.

I place the toys I've picked out as his favorites and I put them in his toy chest.



I'm a fan of baskets, bins and things that close to hide the toys. 

Choosing only Noah's favorite toys has really been quite refreshing.

He doesn't feel overwhelmed by clutter and has actually sat down and played with his toys for an extended period of time.  He also knows where he can find his favorite toys quickly.

I also created a few baskets of some of the toys he plays with.

He has a basket of plastic blocks


 
And a basket of wood blocks.



A basket of balls (his absolute favorite)



And several baskets of books.



And of course, he has some larger, more obnoxious toys that cannot be stuffed in a box or bin.

And we have a damp, unfinished basement so there is no "play room."

We just put these larger toys off to one side of his room (and yes, he does play with them).



Puzzles are stored under his dresser. You can't see them when you're just hanging out in the room, but Noah knows where to find them.


 
Making sure everything has its own basket/bin/spot makes it easy for me to clean up quickly before it's time for Noah to go to bed.  I don't have eight million toys crammed in eight different places. It's easy: blocks, balls and books each go in their own basket, favorite toys go in the toy chest and puzzles go under the dresser. 

Easy enough.  And everything looks so nice when it's all stored in its own place.



As for other rooms in the house, Noah has a rocking horse that a friend gave him for his birthday. It's on display in our sitting room and he enjoys riding on it from time to time.  



We have a wicker basket with a lid in the living room that again has only a few of his favorite toys.  As he gets bored, we will rotate these with the toys that are stored in his closet. 
(Don't mind my spindly plant. I'm not sure what we're doing wrong . . . advice is appreciated)



Who would've known that basket houses this



And when you look into our living room, you don't see piles and piles of plastic obnoxiousness. 


 
But behind our piano is a little evidence that there IS a toddler running around. We have another basket of books (I love books and think they should be in every room) and Noah's favorite little toy to push around when he walks.



The kitchen houses one toy, which Noah has almost outgrown.  It's what I call his plastic babysitter.  We use it when we cook and want him to stay in one place so he doesn't hurt himself.


 
His other favorite "toys" in the kitchen are pretty simple:





 



 
It's true that kids don't NEED all the stuff they have now a days so it's important to simplify . . . but I believe there also needs to be a balance so that we're not so obsessed with keeping thing neat and tidy that we deny our kids an important part of development -- play.


And what's far more important than having a perfect house is having a happy child! 

What about you? What's your system for toys? 


 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up

I've been sick for more than a week but this weekend I was finally able to drag myself out of bed for a busy and fun weekend.

Friday night we had a cook out with a few friends.  Since I was just getting over being sick, Jason did all of the cooking because no one wanted to risk getting my germs.  He made my signature salad that we always have at barbecues. I'll be sure to post the recipe later this week because every time we make it, someone asks for the recipe.






Saturday was busy.  We have several home improvement projects in the works and we're gearing up to get moving on all of them at the same time.





We had a reunion with all of the couples from our birthing class, since all of the babies have turned one now.  It was fun to see everyone.  We gathered at the Ithaca Farmer's market, which is one of my favorite little excursions in the summer.







Saturday also brought us out to Newfield for Imani's annual solo at NYSSMA.




After the solo, we relaxed on the school's playground for a bit.



And since we were in Newfield, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to stop and see Dick and Jane, although for the first time EVER, we didn't buy anything.






On our way back home we made a stop that is always part of every weekend.



I'm thankful my children know how to have fun no matter where they are because our stops at Lowe's are never as quick as Jason promises.






Saturday night we watched America Idol (we DVR it) and planned to see the super moon, but I took Benadryl Nighttime Cold and fell asleep far earlier than I care to admit.


Sunday we worked on our yard while Imani was at a birthday party.




The weekend also included:


playing catch


trips to Rite Aid (of course! and YES, it should be plural: TRIPS)


 making meals together


planting herbs


moving rocks


taking walks.



Hope your weekend was filled with lots of fun.



PS - I start a new job today! Wish me luck.



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