Very proud of myself - for over a week now I've been seeing Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs in stores and I have yet to buy any. For anyone who knows me well, those are my all-time favorite candy indulgence. Not the cups or the trees, it has to be the eggs. I don't know why, but they taste better to me. We'll see how long I can go without buying any because once I do I'll keep buying as many as possible. I'm proud to say that I was still eating them in August this past year! What can I say, they freeze well.
Simon and I tend to go to the library twice a week. He loves walking all around it and he really enjoys playing in the children's area. After 5 weeks of library story time he's even warmed up to the librarians and this morning he was sitting at a table eating snacks saying hi to one of them every time she walked by. On any given day we have at least 4 books for Simon. I love that he enjoys sitting in my lap to read and sometimes he'll even sit by himself looking at books. It only made sense to get him his very own library card. He was so proud to show it to the librarians behind the children's desk and they gave him a certificate, a sticker, a tattoo and a little carrying case for his new card. I was proud too. I hope he continues his love of books for many years to come.
(blurry picture of him running to show Daddy his new card)
I've been wanting to make homemade pizzas, including the dough and I decided today was the day. As I started weighing my flour (it's more accurate) I realized that I never bought bread flour. Bread flour has more gluten in it and gives you a chewy crust. I probably should have aborted my dinner plans but I'm stubborn (and I already had the yeast activating in warm water).
Also, I've always cooked my homemade pizzas directly on a pizza stone. We don't have one anymore so I'll be forming the dough into my half sheet baking pan. I hope these aren't too many variables and that we don't end up with delivery pizza tonight.
Our 2 female kitties have been fighting over an oversized basket in our bedroom that I made into a kitty bed so I decided it was time to acquire a second bed. I had another basket in our living room that was holding some of Simon's books. I found another storage option for the books and just like that I had kitty bed #2. What to put in them to make them comfy though? The current bed was just using an old airline blanket that was covered in fur. I decided to use 2 of Simon's old flannel baby blankets and the batting out of an old bedroom pillow that I was going to throw out to make made-to-fit cushions for both kitty beds. Here you have it - hers & hers beds! Now let's hope they'll both use them!
And with some of the leftover blankets, I whipped up 2 catnip kitty toys for the boys. So far they are Oliver approved!
I just found out about a magical theme park called Sesame Place. I have a fondness for Disney characters but I've always LOVED the Muppets and my one of my dream jobs would be to work on the set of Sesame Street so imagine my delight at finding an entire park devoted to the Sesame Street characters! We have to go there sometime! I can get my picture taken with Grover and Cookie Monster, and see Elmo's World... oh and I'm sure Simon would enjoy himself too.
Yesterday we went to the Rainforest at the Cleveland Zoo just to get out of the house for a while. Jeff and I both noticed how much more engaged Simon was at the various animal exhibits, much more than he used to be. He was actively looking for the animals and squealing with delight when he saw them. It was great to see him like this and we look forward to other zoo visits.
It just so happens that Simon's awareness of the toy aisle in Target has also increased by his demonstration of running over to the "Let's Rock Elmo"and trying to place it in the cart!
It seems that the thing I most think about on a daily basis as a parent is what Simon is or isn't eating. As much as I complain that he won't eat this or won't try that, at least I'm fortunate enough to know that he's always loved fruit and it's the one thing I can always count on him eating. I know I'm not the only mom who has this weekly (or daily) struggle but it seems to be surfacing with a lot of my friends as well. I've got one friend's child only wants to eat bread products and another friend's child who is on a complete hunger strike and they're giving her PediaSure for nutrition. Simon refuses any sort of vegetables - this has been going on for months. I've been able to occasionally sneak them into some scrambled eggs and some smoothies but he will push them around his plate if they're just out in the open. Some of his recent vetos have been chicken and pasta. It can change daily. I read an article in Parents magazine this weekend that mentioned that food pickiness can peak around age 2 and then again around age 5 but most outgrow it by age 8 or 9. I suppose that's true otherwise all you'd see in restaurants would be offerings of mac 'n cheese, corn dogs, grilled cheese, and pizza!
I really look forward to the day when Simon and I can walk through the Westside Market and he can pick out any fruit, vegetable, or meat product and then we can come home and figure out something to make with it together. He and I go there almost every week and he really enjoys walking around there. I love veggies - from artichokes to zucchini and almost everything in between, and I hope Simon learns to love them too. In the meantime if all he wants to eat is fruit, I think I'm okay with that.
I love all things peanut butter. I'm the girl who hoards Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs & stores them in the freezer so she can still eat them in the middle of July. The eggs taste better. Don't ask my why, it's just a quirk with me. It's no surprise that my favorite cookies are peanut butter cookies but I never made them very often. I prefer cooking over baking and cookies are typically time consuming but my friend Sherry shared her grandmother's recipe with me and I've made several batches in the last few months. I love this recipe because it has very intense peanut butter flavor and that it only has 4 ingredients so it makes a relatively small batch of cookies. I get about 2 dozen cookies. AND, they are gluten free!
Grandma Thelma Guelich's Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup of peanut butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
Mix all ingredients together, make into little balls, and flatten with fork to make traditional lattice pattern. Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cookies will come out very soft but will firm up when cooling so I let them cool on the cookie sheet.
Add 1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips or reese's peanut butter chips
This weekend I had solo adventures as I embarked on my first solo overnight trip since Simon was born. Jeff and I had a 1-night getaway last year on our anniversary but I still had a lot of anxiety being away from Simon and the trip was less than 24 hours. Not this time though! I was more than ready to get away. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and son beyond words but I'd been feeling a little run down and stressed out lately and a short trip really recharged me.
So where does one go to get away from Cleveland for a night? Well Pittsburgh of course! The Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival was this weekend and it was the perfect opportunity for me. I also made arrangements to see my very dear friend Kendell whom I haven't seen in 17 years. It's hard to believe that it's been that long. We went to undergrad together and then roomed together while in grad school in Cincinnati. We met Friday evening at a great Caribbean flare restaurant called Kaya. The atmosphere was nice and the food was very yummy. Their cilantro cream sauce was particularly amazing! It never ceases to amaze me that after such a long time we picked up like we had just seen each other last week. We are determined to not let that much time go by before we get together again.
Saturday was all about knitting. When we moved away from the Pacific Northwest I was bummed that I wouldn't be able to attend the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in Tacoma. That convention was so amazing (and in the beautiful Hotel Murano) but the downside was the expense. It draws all the well known designers and therefore the workshops and classes are much more expensive. I just couldn't afford taking a 3 hour workshop. That's why I really liked the Pittgsburgh convention. For what I would have spent on a 1 hour class in Tacoma, I took a 3 hour class in Pittsburgh. The class I chose to attend was on steeks. For the non-knitters, that's where you knit a garment and then CUT IT. It's probably one of the most terrifying thing to do for a knitter. Once you cut, there's no going back but it really is a necessity if you want to make fair isle cardigan sweaters. Fair isle knitting (patterned knitting with 2+ colors) is probably my favorite type of knitting. The instructor was great and I really learned a lot from her and I even picked up a few new tricks from some of the other participants. After a light lunch at the hotel, I spent the next 3 hours browsing the marketplace. There's so many beautiful yarns and accessories that one could easily get carried away. My plan of attack in this type of setting is visit all the booths first and write down anything I think I might want to purchase and come back. Otherwise I might spend all my money after the first 5 vendors. Of course, this strategy can backfire as well if someone buys the item(s) that you were eyeing. Perfect example is this beautiful merino/cashmere/silk yarn that I wanted.
It's a gorgeous eggplant-y color, with dark purples and greens with just a touch of shimmer. I really had a hard time justifying the expense. 2 skeins would have eaten up most of my budget but most of the projects I had in mind for it would require 2. My mind was made up for me though because when I came back, they only had 1 skein left. Still waffling over whether or not to get it, the owner offered it to me at a $5 dollar discount. I didn't hesitate and it made its way into my bag.
Surprisingly that was the only yarn that came home with me. I bought a pattern for a shawl and some gray and white roving for my aunt and that was it. UNTIL this --
It is a handmade yarn bowl with a beautiful glass inlay in the bottom. There are 2 holes, one standard and one swirled for you to thread your yarn through and it keeps your ball of yarn from rolling all over the place while you knit. I saw them early on, oohed & aahed over them and moved on. Having 4 cats and a toddler, I can't just leave yarn out in a bowl on a coffee table. Didn't think about it again until I ended up back in that booth. Again, I kept thinking how beautiful they are. I have a soft spot for colored & blown glass. Before I knew what I was doing, I was offering up my credit card. It was my true impulse buy for the day and I don't regret it one bit. I may not be able to leave it on the coffee table but it looks just fine up on the mantle and I can use it in the evenings once Simon has gone to bed.
I am one happy little knitter. I can't wait for another knitting retreat. :)
Today was a busy day for us which involved our first trip to The Children's Museum of Cleveland with my friend Nevada and her little boy Lucas. There's lots of hands-on activities to do and right now they have The Galapagos Sand exhibit which would have been a lot more fun if Simon wouldn't have been freaked out about sand on his bare feet! I guess he still has some tactile issues. The moment I took off his shoes and socks he started crying. The sand was damp and very cold, something that he definitely didn't enjoy so we ventured on to the next exhibit - the Splish! Splash! zone.
I fully expected Simon to love it there. He loves to help me wash dishes; I wash dishes, he splashes as much water out of the sink as possible. He loves splashing in the bath. This exhibit was made for him so I came armed with a complete change of clothes. Wouldn't you know it, he wanted nothing to do with the water. Instead he found a bank of 4 lockers which contained different clothes for the different seasons. He opened and closed those locker doors to his heart's content and put up a fight when I tried to get him to another part of the museum.
The Community area is where Simon seemed to find his comfort zones. They had a kitchen area in the house where he spent a lot of his time. He ventured up to the bedroom to play with the closet door and the washer & dryer doors but he likes to be in the kitchen just like his mommy! There was an adorable kid-sized grocery store which was a lot of fun until Simon learned that you can't take the grocery carts out of that location. It soon lost its appeal after that. But the bridge to the bank was fun and Simon really enjoyed looking in all of the mailboxes at the various "buildings" to see if there was mail and then mail items in the big blue mailbox. Even when he's at home, going to the mailbox is a favorite activity.
We ended our museum visit at the Big Red Barn. Maybe it was getting too close to lunch or he was just getting tired, but Simon just wasn't that into it. He kept wanting to go back out to the lobby area to play in the Little Tikes plastic house and open the main doors for entering and exiting museum patrons.
After our exciting morning we headed over to Little Italy for some lunch at Presti's Bakery where we had some wonderful pizza. It's the first time that I'd been to Little Italy on a weekday. I was surprised to see how busy it was!
As I expected, Simon fell asleep on the car ride home and much to my disappointment he refused to nap the rest of the day. I was really hoping to catch a short nap myself! All in all, it was a very fun day. I love exposing Simon to new places even if his reactions aren't what I was hoping for.
Simon turned 23 months yesterday. This is the last month of referring to his age in months. In a few short weeks we will be referring to the big boy's age in years!
I'm loving pinterest. It sucks up more of my computer time than I care to admit. I often fall into the trap of trying to do a quick look right before bed. Next thing I know 45 minutes have gone missing from my life and I start to wonder if pinterest is just a portal for alien abductions.
But seriously, I have one major problem with the site and it's not even the latest update to the pins. Not a fan of it yet, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It's actually the users. Users who pin items from a blog's homepage so you have to scroll & scroll or try and search the archives for a specific entry. PIN THE SPECIFIC BLOG POST PEOPLE! And users who post great food pictures and the only description is "yumm-o." GIVE THE NAME OF THE FRIGGIN' RECIPE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! That way I don't have to waste my time hunting down a recipe for creamed honeydew melon or some such oddity when I thought it might have been avocado. UUUUUGH.
Okay, I'm done. Rant over.
Don't mind me, I'm just a non-football watcher prepping for a day of annoying facebook status updates for the next 36 hours or so. Where's HGTV and FoodNetwork when I need it?
Yes, you read correctly. I've found a "No Stir Risotto" recipe thanks to PBS television. Actually it should be called the occasional stir risotto to be more accurate, but that doesn't sound as sexy.
I've always liked a good creamy risotto but have never made it at home - I have a toddler in the house, I don't have time to babysit rice! That's why I tried this recipe and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! It came out perfectly and I've been enjoying the leftovers all week. Try it, I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
One word of recommendation - make sure you use a high quality dutch oven with a tight sealing lid. I think that is what makes the difference. I used my Mario Batali enameled cast iron dutch oven for this recipe.
No Stir Dutch Oven Risotto
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, minced
¾ tsp table salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
5 cups of hot low sodium chicken broth + ¾ cup
1 cup finely shredded Parmesan
2 Tbsp chopped chives
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp lemon juice
Gauge - it's every knitter's nemesis. I hate gauge. I loathe gauge. I knit baby/toddler items so I don't have to worry about gauge since a baby will eventually grow into what I've knitted. I fell in love with a fair isle pattern called Selbu Modern about 2 years ago. I started knitting it 5 days after Simon was born and finished in that fall, only to discover that it was too tight fitting. Why? Because I didn't check gauge. It was my own fault and so I resigned myself to eventually frogging the entire project and starting over. Here is my original post about it.
A few days before Christmas I cast on again in the hopes of getting a better fitting hat. A beret that was a bit more slouchy but not too extreme. My gauge was spot on so I figured I was good to go, even though it looked sort of big as it went along. I finally finished it this weekend and got it blocking. I figured that the laws of blocking would kick in and after a good soak it would spring into the required shape once blocked. Even after blocking the gauge is still measuring correctly yet this is what I've ended up with:
How is this possible??! Just when I thought I understood the laws of knitting, something has gone awry. I'm pretty sure it's because of my yarn choice. I'm using Queensland Sugar Rush which is a natural fiber made from sugar cane. It's very slippery and soft and has a lot of drape to it which is evident in the picture above. The yarn tag indicates that it should be dried flat & reshaped while wet and not use a dryer. So I tried a hot dryer in the attempt to shrink it a bit. No such luck. I'm left with a hat that is still not wearable to my liking but I'm just not ready to admit defeat yet. I'll rip the whole thing out again and put it aside for 6 months or so and maybe try again. I have to throw gauge out the window with this yarn-pattern combo and just wing it. Next time I'll use size 0 needles for the brim (which is what I used the first time around) and try a size 3 needle for the pattern. That's one size up from attempt #1 and two sizes down from attempt #2. Maybe that will produce the results I'm looking for.
I practically fell off my chair when I saw this stroller. It would compete with our high tech, tree-hugging Prius! I showed this video to Jeff and his comment - Good thing I didn't know about this when we were stroller shopping, otherwise I would have wanted one!