Friday, August 29, 2014


Chicken kabobs, brats, grilled eggplant, squash, onions, and peppers from my parents garden (aren't they pretty? I love how they are red, orange, green, and purple). Oh, and a watermelon and cantaloupe for dessert (from Harris market, they have had amazing cantaloupes all season long for only $1). 

Ah, summer. You are my least favorite of the seasons, but you make up for it in such tasty ways. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Car Seat Buckle Cover

  1. This is my son. He loves to figure things out, such as unbuckling his car seat or opening pill bottles. I don't stop his curious nature except when it is dangerous, as in driving around with your car seat unbuckled. 

    So I am in the process of making a buckle cover to stop his sneaky little fingers from exploring while we drive. The first one I slid over the belts, which caused it to be especially hard for me to buckle him in. That one only lasted a few days. 

    I then sewed one with Velcro down the long side, but it bunched up in the middle and left the buckled exposed. 

    Prototype three is in process right now and I forgot to take a picture. I am trying Velcro around the short sides. I will update later on how that turns out. I think he will catch on after a few weeks and I might be back to the drawing board again. I have read that buttons and snaps might be another option. 

    Have you ever dealt with this problem? Any suggestions? We switched his car seat around so I can now see him in the mirror now and give him the stink eye.  I could hear him unbuckle it before, but saying something never worked. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Peach Pie

I made a peach pie instead of cowboy cookies. I just realized that I hadn't made a peach pie all season (they are Jared's favorite). So with the last peaches of the year I made a pie. It is pretty much amazing. The recipe will follow later. It uses tapioca instead of flour to thicken the juices. 

Blueberry Muffins

I realized I had never posted this recipe. It is one of my favorites. 

This recipe originally came from America's Test Kitchen, but I have changed quite a few things:
1. I reduce the sugar
2. I use all or mostly whole wheat flour
3. I use applesauce instead of oil
4. I add almond extract and almonds to the batter and an almond sugar topping (which is one of the alternative recipes they suggest, but the original has a lemon topping - I have never made them with lemon). We had blueberry almond muffins on our honeymoon and they have been a favorite of mine ever since. I have tried so many recipes to find one that was as good as the one our bed and breakfast made.  These, in their non-healthy version, come close. :) But we really like the healthy version too. 

Almond Sugar Topping:
1/3 c. Finely ground almonds
4 tsp. sugar (the larger grain sugar is better, but I never have it and just use normal sugar)

I throw 2/3c almonds in my mini food processed and grind them up. You can see I leave some larger chunks in the pictures. Half of these nuts go into the flour mixture and half of them are for the topping. I don't ever measure, but I do usually dump a bit more of the nuts into the flour.  I have found that too much topping falls off the muffins. So I err on the side of less topping. 

Mix together almonds and sugar. Set aside for later. 

2 cups blueberries
1-1/8 cup sugar (I use 3/4 c) plus 1 tsp. 
2-1/2 cup flour (I usually do half or all whole wheat, I have never made them with all white flour) 
1/3 cup finely ground almonds
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 T butter melted
1/4 cup veggie oil (I use applesauce)
1 cup buttermilk or 3/4 c yogurt + 1/4 c milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional, I have made these without this and they are still delicious)

*preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

**if they sold almond extract as a perfume, I might wear it. I wish there was an almond extract candle that smelled just like almond extract. 

1. Put 1 cup blueberries and 1 tsp sugar in saucepan and cook until it has thickened. I start mine at the beginning of my recipe and then do all the other things. By the time I am finished with the muffins and need these blueberries, they are cooked. You are trying to make a semi-jam. They tried using jam, but it was too sweet, so they made their own. Smash the blueberries and stir them every so often. 

2. Whisk together dry ingredients, flour, finely chopped almonds, baking soda, and salt. 

3. Whisk together sugar and eggs for about a minute. Add the applesauce and melted butter. Stir. Add the yogurt/buttermilk and vanilla and almond extract. Stir. 

4. Fold the blueberries and liquid mixture into the flour until just combined. You want it to be slightly lumpy and have streaks of flour.  Portion into a greased muffin pan. I usually use an extra container to make one more muffin; maybe my muffin tins are smaller than normal, but I seem to have too much batter. The batter is very thick. 

5. Take the blueberry jam mixture that has reduced as thickened in the stove and put a teaspoon on each muffin. Take a table knife or toothpick and swirl the blueberries into the batter. 
Sprinkle the almond and sugar topping on each muffin. 

6. Bake for 17-19 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Remove to cooking rack. 

Even Martin loves muffins because they begin with M, which is also his letter. Actually, he just loves toys that I only pull out every so often. :) Rotate your toys; it is the best. 

He also seems to enjoy playing with the bag I made to hold the blocks. Whatever is clever, as my brother would say. 

This morning I let him play with different size cups and bowls of water while I baked.  He dumped it all over the kitchen floor, hence, the lack of shirt in these pictures. But that is what towels are for. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Yesterday, I spent the morning at the beach with my sisters (all of them!!!). I love having them all in town this year! Yay! They built Martin a giant sandcastle/fort to play in. He even was brave enough, near the end of the day, to venture into the waves. I didn't get any pictures of him playing, but know he had a blast. Hope sent me this picture while I was at lunch, to let me know that the fort was growing bigger. 

We took a break from the beach and Martin and I walked up to where Jared has been working, in OC this summer, and had lunch with him. Martin was so happy. I love watching them interact. Martin showed no interest in food all morning until he saw Jared eating and wanted everything he had. 

Martin and I went grocery shopping this morning. I used the think meal planning was a waste of time, but the older I get and the more children I have, I think having two or three planned meals is a good thing. I also like working ahead and prepping parts of the meals. Today we are making/prepping meals for this weekend and next week:
Beef stroganoff
Chicken fajitas
Brats and veggies

I also plan to make some cowboy cookies (for the freezer) and caramel corn. Jared has also requested some nostalgic lime jello jigglers. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Boys' Room

As I mentioned, we have been rearranging the boys' room. At first we were going to put Martin in a trundle bed under the crib, but I ended up getting such a good deal on the crib (it ended up being cheaper than I could have bought just a mattress) that we decided to try to fit it in the room. 

We took the side off in hopes that he might play on it and maybe take naps on it. He has about three months to get used to it. If it doesn't work, we will put the side back on. I love ikea cribs and I am so happy with this one. I would trade the other one for an ikea crib if I had to pay for a new one. But I can't beat a free crib. :) 

Also, I hope you have noticed my toy bin holders, Garden of Eden peach boxes. :) And the Corduroy picture was painted by my sister, Sarah. I love it so much!!! 

I love how many things in this room were given to is by people we love. The blanket on the chair is from Mrs. Hall and is wonderful for keeping warm during night nursings. The quilt is from GC and entertained Martin for hours when he was a baby. The changing table was a piece of furniture that Uncle Bill and Aunt Suzanne were getting rid of; it is perfect for storing diapers and changing babies. The rocking chair was given to me by so many of you at my shower. :) I use it at least once a day. Once the new baby comes, we will use it 5-8 times a day again. 

Lastly, my kids' bed sheets don't match and I am fine with that. I bought them on sale at Target for 75% off. The furniture is from all sorts of different places and in different colors. P.S. If your sheets or furniture match, I am not judging you (maybe you got them as a gift or found them at a yardsale or just bought them). I am just saying, that we care way too much about decorations in children's room, birthday parties, and all sorts of things these days. Some of my fondest memories were of things that didn't match or things that had been passed down from someone else. Everything doesn't have to be perfect for a child to have a great childhood. I don't want my kids to thing that stuff is the be all and end all or that stuff makes them happy.

I am not saying my way is perfect, far from it.  Isn't it amazing that our kids run out? I just want to encourage you to think about it.  Somedays I would rather wash the dishes in the sink right away, I hate dishes in my sink, but I spend time playing with Martin. He doesn't care about the dishes. He doesn't care about matching sheets. He just wants to be loved and taken care of. I want him to remember what matters. Does that make sense? 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fresh Food

I was trying to clean out my frig today (I was also avoiding going to the grocery store). I pulled some turkey burger out of the freezer and made a batch of spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes and basil. We will eat that on spaghetti when we come home from church tomorrow. 

Then I decided to use up my eggplant. I am trying a new recipe from ATK for eggplant Parmesan. You salt the eggplant first and let the water drain out of it for 45 minutes. Then you soak up any extra water with a towel. Then you bread it and throw it in a hot tray in the oven and brown the coating. After the eggplant is nice and crispy, you later it with sauce (made again from fresh tomatoes and basil) and mozzarella cheese. It is pretty awesome. Can you believe vegetables could taste so good?!?  

I have spent a lot of this week cleaning and organizing drawers and closets (which isn't as rewarding as rooms because you can't see the difference unless you take before and after photos and leave your closet doors open). 

We were grateful for our new fence,last night, when the neighbors dog escaped and bit someone (it is a pitbull, Bleh). The police and animal control came and tried to catch it with dog biscuits. That is rewarding it for bad behavior. We were letting Martin burn off some energy last night before bed when it happened. It was such a gorgeous night, for summer, last night. 

I am trying to decide what dessert to make for dinner tomorrow night. Any suggestions? I still need to make those Carmel, chocolate covered pretzel rods someday. I was thinking maybe oatmeal raisin cookies, but if I am going to go that far, why not just make cowboy cookies? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chocolate Cream Pie

This recipe is based off an America's Test Kitchen Recipe. It is pretty fabulous. I won't be making it very often because it calls for 6 yolks. What do I do with the rest of the egg? Do you have any recipes for egg whites? 

As you see below, I didn't have the Oreos, so I used brownies. I am sorry that I can't give you measurements. 
Chocolate Cream Pie

16 Oreos
2 T melted butter

Chocolate Filling
2-1/2 cup half and half
Pinch salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
6 egg yolks
6 T butter
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped
1 oz unsweetened chocolate chopped
1 tsp vanilla

Whipped Cream Topping
1-1/2 chilled heavy whipping cream
1-1/2 T sugar 
1/2 tsp vanilla

For the crust: I didn't have Oreos so I mixed some brownie crumbs and graham crackers together and called that my crust. I didn't measure and I have no idea if it would work out again. It was a boxed brownie mix that I had made and we hadn't eaten so I threw it in the freezer for later. 
If you make the Oreo crust, mix the butter and crumbs together, press in a dish, bake about ten minutes at 350 degrees. 

For the filling: this is the most important part of the pie. As long as this part tastes good, the other two parts can be sub-par. 
1. Mix the half  and half, salt, and 3 T of sugar together over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 
2. Stir together remaining sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. 
3.  Whisk eggs in another bowl until they are slightly thickened. I mixed them about 1 minute. Add cornstarch mixture and whisk until glossy. 
4. Drizzle 1/2 cup of half and half mixture into the eggs. Whisk constantly. Add another 1/2 cup of hot half and half mixture.  Whisk. Return entire egg/cornstarch mixture to hot half and half mixture in the pan. Whisk until 3-4 bubbles burst on the top and mixture is thickened and glossy. 
5. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, chocolate, and vanilla. The directions say to press through a fine mesh strainer, but I didn't bother because I hate washing my strainer. 
6.  Pour into your pie crust. Refrigerate at least three hours. 

For the topping: beat cream and sugar in bowl until stiff peaks. Add vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Spread mixture over the top of the pie. 

Thanks to this recipe, I started craving something chocolate (not a pregnancy craving, I don't have those, just a wow, chocolate sounds good). This, in my own right now is a chocolate zucchini bread. I made it extra healthy by adding applesauce instead of oil. :) It is for dessert tonight. If it is any good, who knows how it will turn out because I smashed three recipes together, I will post pictures and a recipe later. 
Also, I have calzone dough rising on my counter. Yay!! 

I rearrange Martin's room today and cleaned his closet. Once Jared finishes the shelves in his closet, the boys' room should be ready to go. I will post pictures of the room and the awesome crib I bought for $40 (retails for $190 at Ikea). It is the model better than the crib I wanted. I love it because it is shorter than most cribs and doesn't make the room look as small. We had planned to bump Martin to a mattress on the floor, but when you can buy a crib and mattress for  the price of less than a mattress, we changed our minds and did some puzzle piece fitting in their room. 

Also, Ikea mattresses come with a removable cover!! It zips off from around the mattress padding and you can wash the home cover. It is pretty awesome. Ps. I am still waiting for my Ikea 2015 catalog. Grr. I have seen that many other people have received theirs in the last few weeks. I hope mine comes soon. 

I have downsized the family to one dirty cloth hamper (it will take a few more steps when the boys have dirty clothes, but the extra floor space is worth it). We only have one clean clothes hamper too. It means we have to out away the laundry instead of letting it sit around. Sometimes that trick doesn't work and a giant pile of laundry sits at the end of my bed for a few days, but mostly it does force me to put away clothes. Every little bit helps. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Random Update

For dinner last night we had grilled chicken, green beans and potatoes sautéed with bacon, and grilled onions, zucchini, and eggplant. 

The tomatoes, garlic, and corn, you see in the picture, are for a batch of salsa. I am going to make fajitas out of the extra grilled chicken. And I hope to make calzones again later this week. As always, there is plenty of watermelon and cantaloupe cut up in the frig. If I don't get more in my csa box this week, I will go buy some more. 

And because 26 out of my half bushel of peaches so far have had split pits and rotted while they were still hard, I chopped up a bunch of them and made Jared a cobbler. It is so disappointing. Every other half bushel I have bought this year has been wonderful. I hope a few of the half bushel ripen properly so that I can enjoy a few last peaches this season. 

Yesterday I received my bill for my stitches. 
1. I hate how the service description is all listed as medical care. I want to know what I am paying for. If my grocery receipt can list each grocery item, I think my medical bill should too. I was more annoyed at my $7000, $7000, and $3500 bills from Martin's birth. They were charged as lump sums. I wonder how much the doctor actually sees of that? 
2. $658?!? For stitches and a shot? Can you imagine what the emergency room would have charged? Yikes. Medical care is way overpriced these days. Thankfully, I only owe $160 out of the total, but still... This is crazy. 

Martin is teething again. He is grumpy, needy, drooling everywhere, and is having trouble falling asleep for naps and at night. Poor baby. I was reading about two year molars today and they can be twice as painful as the other teeth because they are bigger and flatter. We have been doing a lot of things together the past two days. 

I managed to clean my refrigerator and wipe down the cupboards while he was eating today. I tried to clean out two closets today, but he just wanted to play in the closets. I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but I made a small dent in it. I threw away a bunch of stuff or put it in the donate pile. Where does all this stuff come from? Ugh. I also finished the top to one of the baby quilts I have been working on. Yay. 

And it just started raining, I love rain. It sounds so calming. 

Do you have any exciting plans this week? Martin and will just be hanging out and I will be trying to distract him from the tooth pain. Do you have any suggestions for fun activities with an active little boy? I let him play in the sprinkler yesterday and today I let him pour water into bowls and little cups on the kitchen floor. He really likes water. We hope to go visit the new puppy my sister just brought home. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


Jared has banned me from working this afternoon and instructed me to sit on the couch and read. Here are a few things I found that inspired me. 

Our women's retreat this year was about journaling and I have been trying to do better (as in two or three entries a week instead of two or three a month). I enjoy it when I do it. This article on desiringgod is especially useful. I am thankful for it.

Scalloped shorts!! When I have my first girl, I am making these for her.

This shirt is cute. I would probably make the front a bit higher. It could even be made into a cute dress.

Martin came running out the other day holding my can opener, which is stored in my knife drawer. It was a bit scary. I need to make something like this or buy one of hose magnetic knife racks. I have always wanted those.

Wipes from old t-shirt!!! This is awesome. I am doing this for baby two. I wish Jared hadn't just thrown away a bunch if old undershirts last week. Boo.

Also, has anyone ever made ratatouille? I have all the ingredients in my csa box this week and I am thinking of making it, but I don't know if I will like it. Maybe I will make it for Sunday night dinner and then I can share it. Ha ha. Thoughts? I like the Pixar movie. :) 

Monday, August 04, 2014


I don't know if I will do much blogging this week. Martin and I came home and ate tuna fish sandwiches and watermelon. We are loving watermelon and cantaloupes right now. They are so sweet this year. Did I mention peaches and blueberries too? Martin actually can say both of those words. 

We need to go grocery shopping later today and I need to make thumbprint cookies for snack for tomorrow. The theme for Tuesday snacks is Jupiter, which as you know has a big red spot, hence, the thumbprint cookies. 

I made a sour cream coffee cake from atk today. It is pretty amazing. :) Maybe I will post the recipe. 

I had a student today who didn't like rice crispie treat, homemade cookies, cheese, pretzels, or fruit. She requested animal crackers... Really?

My costume

Martin's costume 

His new favorite thing to do, other than play with his trains in the closet on his new table, is to throw balls around the house. I caught him throwing my peaches when I brought home a half bushels the other day. Thankfully, he only threw two.