4th of July Festivities

July 4th, 2014

I LOVE the 4th of July. Basically, I love any reason to dress in color-coordinated outfits and drink out of festive straws.

This morning, we decided to have a last minute BBQ in the afternoon. Leading up to that, our day was pretty low key. Since Stew was off from work, I went to the gym in the morning and then hit the grocery store for a few things (that may or may not have included s’mores ice cream sandwiches). It was surprisingly empty, so I was in and out!

When I got home, we all had some lunch, and then Turner napped. Stew and I cleaned the house and did some laundry. Once Turner woke up, around 2, we hit the pool! I love having a pool in our neighborhood. I get very grumpy in traffic, so we all win this way!

We came home, got cleaned up, and prepped for the BBQ! And by prepped I mean Turner ate peanut butter crackers and looked out the window waiting for all of his friends to show up.

Stew’s brother and his wife came over, along with my friend Toni, her husband Jason, and their son Andrew (Turner’s bestie). Side note: If you’re wondering why Turner has a headband on, it’s actually a belt that he likes having tied around his head. His alter-ego is better known as “Rambaby”.

We had so much fun! Since it was last minute, we did BYOMeat and a side to share. The men grilled while we hung out with the kiddos.

I love any excuse to celebrate. 4th of July is among the best. No drama, no gifts, no cards, just fun! Now that we got all of our partying out, it’s time to be old people and grumble about the fireworks that will undoubtedly keep me awake all night! Happy 4th!

Beet and Black Bean Burgers

June 30th, 2014

The doctor said this day would come…Turner would become a picky eater! I usually have go-to recipes on hand, but lately I’ve been SO busy that I haven’t had time to prepare. So it’s been eggs and waffles for breakfast, peanut butter sandwiches and fruit for lunch, yogurt and his favorite almond meal muffins for a snack, and whatever we are eating for dinner (or another peanut butter sandwich, don’t judge)!

Now, don’t get me wrong, this kid is CONSTANTLY hungry and could eat me under the table. But I refuse to give him junk to fill him up. I want his meals to be filled with protein and even those sneaky vegetables too! The only way I can do that is to plan ahead. I always sneak things like spinach and avocados into his smoothies. But when I have an hour to spare, I like to take whatever I have on hand and whip up “burgers” of some sort (and by burger I mean anything I mix up and shape into a patty). This week I scoured the fridge and pantry for anything I could turn into a healthy “burger”. These beet and black bean burgers are a winner!

I started by cooking some quinoa. While that simmered, I sautéed onions, shredded carrots, and diced ginger root. I pulsed the beets and sautéed veggies in the food processor a few times to break them up. Side note about the beets, I used the steamed and peeled baby beets in the fridge section at Trader Joe’s. I’ve seen them in several grocery stores.

Once the quinoa was finished, I added a cup of cooked quinoa and the black beans to my food processor and pulsed a few more times. I let that cool slightly so it wouldn’t cook my egg! Then I added in the bread crumbs and egg and processed for a few seconds to form a “dough”.  I used an ice cream scoop to form patties and seared them on either side until crisp on the outside and warmed through, just like a burger!


I served it up with a little BBQ sauce and a bun. He actually eats the bun separately, but for us grown ups, I took a picture of the burger and bun together! I hope you and your kiddos enjoy!


 

Beet and Black Bean Burgers
Yields 9
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup quinoa
  2. 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  3. 1 8 oz package steamed and peeled baby beets (in fridge section)
  4. 1/2 onion, rough dice
  5. 1/4 c shredded carrots
  6. 1 tsp fresh ginger, rough dice
  7. 1/2 c canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  8. 1/2 c bread crumbs
  9. 1 egg
  10. Olive Oil
Instructions
  1. Cook quinoa in the chicken or vegetable broth according to package.
  2. Sautee onion, carrots, and ginger in 1 Tbsp olive oil until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine beets and sauteed vegetables in the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  4. Add 1 cup cooked quinoa and black beans to the food processor. Pulse to combine. Let cool slightly.
  5. Add bread crumbs and egg to the food processor and pulse for a few seconds, until dough forms.
  6. Heat a large sautee pan to medium-low heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of olive oil (about 1 Tbsp).
  7. Using a standard ice cream scoop, form patties in your hand and place on the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, or until crisp.
  8. Flip and cook for about 3 more minutes, until crisp and warmed through.
  9. Set patties aside to cool. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
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Barnes and Noble Trip

June 23rd, 2014

The other day, Turner and I needed to get out of the house. He took a super nap, and I got a ton of work done. So, I thought I’d treat myself to Starbucks while he played with the trains at Barnes and Noble. Best idea ever.



He played for a little while and then went exploring. We wandered all around, reading a few books in our travels. Then he parked it at the little table where we read about dinosaurs (and flirted with older women).

He sat across from his little lady friend that he made. He was staring and her and laughing at her the whole time. I can see my future now. Lock up your daughters…


Turner used to be so shy. Now he’s such a ham wonder who he gets that from. I love my little guy so much. He makes every day more exciting! 

Father’s Day

June 16th, 2014

I remember when I told Stew I was pregnant. He was so excited, and a little nervous. He was nervous he wouldn’t be a good dad. He never had any experience with babies. But I knew the second he held Turner in his arms, he’d be perfect. He’s just that kind of person.

I must say, Stew is an amazing father. He is so loving, gentle, and supportive. He’s the most selfless person I know. The more we grow together, the more I appreciate and love him! Turner feels the same.

My mom and stepdad hosted a little Father’s Day celebration at their house last night. It was perfect. Mom made homemade meatballs and spaghetti. All the men were super excited about that, especially Turner.

We always enjoy getting together with the family. But it’s extra special when we have a celebration. It was a nice and relaxing day. The perfect way to celebrate all of the amazing fathers in our lives!

Creamy Herb Dressing

June 11th, 2014

I  made a salad for dinner tonight. I normally don’t like creamy dressings, but I wanted a dressing that was a bit more substantial than my usual vinaigrette!  I did some experimenting and came up with this healthy and delicious dressing that I thought I’d share!

The salad I made to go along with it had romaine lettuce, red peppers, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and shredded carrots. It was the perfect pairing!


Creamy Herb Dressing
A healthy and satisfying dressing that will amp up any salad!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  2. 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley
  3. 1/4 cup loosely packed basil
  4. 1/2 lime, juiced
  5. 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1/2 tsp pepper
  8. 1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, into a blender. Blend until combined. With the blender on low, stream in olive oil until the dressing reaches desired consistency. Store in an airtight container in fridge.
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No News is Good News

June 10th, 2014

Life has been pretty uneventful lately, which you could have assumed by my lack of blog posts! But, to me, no news is good news! We have done a few new things since I’ve last written, just nothing major!

Stew joined a men’s softball league at church. They play a double header every Thursday night. Last week was their first game. Stew did great! It was really fun watching the game. Turner loved watching Daddy play too.

In other news, we moved our cat, Skippy, from the FROG (furnished room over garage) to the office. She is so happy! The FROG originally became her home because our big old dog, Dexter, would chase her around and scare the daylights out of her. So, she went up there and never ventured down!

Turner is OBSESSED! Every morning, as soon as he wakes up, he wants to see “Dippy”. And, at night, after his bath, he walks right into the office, “Hi Dippy!”.

The awesome thing about Skippy being in the office, is that Turner will play in there for HOURS, so I get a ton of work done. It’s so cute to watch. He is just so happy to play with her! So, as you can see, life has definitely been quiet, but I can handle that for a little while longer!

Trip of a Lifetime

June 3rd, 2014

What are you doing this summer?  Do the season’s balmy nights evoke images of youth—Will Smith’s “Summertime” playing in your head?  Summer is the season of luxury, of rest, of indulgence, and playing catch-up.  It’s the perfect time to start that new workout routine, hangout with old friends, take a long awaited trip, or to tackle those house projects you’ve been putting off.   Yes, for most of us, this summer will be a mix of the magnificent and mundane.  We’ll have stories to tell, multiple selfies and pictures of food we ate posted on Facebook— tan lines and sun bleached hair to prove our conquests—all beautiful in their own right and all taken for granted.

Sadly, there is a drastically different experience of this summer occurring worldwide.  A two syllable monster, “cancer,” doesn’t care about summer plans, because it has plans of its own.  People are receiving news that will forever alter their course in life and obliterate their sense of immortality. 

Our friend Jon McDonald is one of those people.  A mere 32 years old, what was once thought to be a testicular calcium deposit evolved into his eventual diagnosis of Gastric Sarcoma, or stomach cancer.  Given the tumor’s rate of progression, Jon was told in December that he had nine months to live. 

To date, he has completed chemo and radiation protocols, and is now finishing a course of an experimental drug that specifically targets the tumor.  Despite his situation, Jon has grown spiritually during this time.  He maintains a strong sense of humor regarding “Tony” (the name he has comedically given the tumor), and attempts to use its presence as a positive force in his life (often joking that if they could just come to some agreement, they could make this thing work).  He has reaffirmed his faith and cherishes his friends and family more than ever.  Thankfully, he says he still has days where he feels “awesome and happy to be alive.”

In an effort to help him continue to fight, we have started this fundraiser to enable him to attain one of his lifelong dreams—a cross-country trip to Texas (where he was born), California (to visit friends), Colorado (to attend a friend’s wedding) and the Grand Canyon.   With your generous donations (no amount is too small!) we can make this dream of his come true and arm him for the months ahead. 

Thank you so much for reading and sharing Jon’s story—your support means the world to us!

Click HERE to donate!

“Something de Mayo” Supper Club

June 1st, 2014

We have had yet another successful supper club! This month Annie and Jeremy hosted. They picked Mexican Fiesta as our theme. It was fitting, considering it was Cinco de Mayo a few weeks ago!

Annie set the table beautifully! She is so crafty. She had a white table cloth with ribbons going across the center. She had big colorful vases in the center with bright flowers to match the ribbons. The CUTEST part was our M&M stuffed chili pepper name tags. She even had a festive chalkboard with an adorable paper wreath hanging from it.


The food was absolutely delicious! Kirsten was in charge of appetizers. She made spicy cream cheese stuffed phyllo cups with a sweet chili dipping sauce. Missy was on drinks. She definitely didn’t disappoint. The men had Modelo beer, while the ladies had Pomegranate Margaritas. Needless to say, we enjoyed our drinks thoroughly!
Annie was in charge of the main course. We started with a 7 layer mexican salad with a variety of dressings to choose from (our favorite being the creamy mexican). Then we moved on to pulled pork tacos with a variety of toppings and jalapeno cilantro cream sauce.

Last, but not least, was dessert! I made a Sopapilla Cheesecake (recipe below). Completely unhealthy (let’s just say the recipe is from Pillsbury) and not something I would normally make, but it was DELICIOUS!

We had an amazing night! There’s nothing like a night of good food, great friends, and strong drinks! Viva la fiesta!

Sopapilla Cheesecake
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury crescent dinner rolls
  2. 2 packages (8 oz each) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 tsp vanilla
  5. 1 1/2 cups sugar (divided)
  6. 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  7. 1/2 cup butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Unroll 1 can of crescent rolls and place on the bottom of a 13x9 ungreased glass baking dish. Stretch the dough to cover the bottom and press together perforated lines to seal.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Scrape the sides with a spatula and beat until completely smooth.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Pour the mixture over the dough in the baking dish.
  4. Open the second can of crescent rolls and place on top of the cream cheese layer. Lightly press seams together.
  5. Pour the melted butter evenly over the top. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the 1 tbsp cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the butter.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until center is set. Cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Refrigerate for easy cutting. Cover and refrigerate any remaining bars.
Adapted from Pillsbury
Adapted from Pillsbury
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Memorial Day

May 27th, 2014

Memorial Day with my family was nothing short of amazing. My mom and Michael made a delicious meal, and everyone showed up hungry! Last year Turner was such a little baby! Now he’s a child-beast that eats everything in site! So he was especially excited about the food.

It was pretty much like Sunday dinner, except Nanny and Pops were traveling, so they missed it! But we did have my brother and his girlfriend, and Stew’s brother, Luke, and his wife, Suzy. Turner is obsessed with Aunt Suzy. He squeals when he sees her and keeps saying her name (pronounced Sissy). I must admit, it’s pretty darn cute.

We even made a point to get a family picture, which are few and far between!

Overall, it was an amazing weekend. Lots of food and much needed family time! No better way to celebrate the loved ones we’ve lost than with the loved ones we still have with us! Happy Memorial Day to you!

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” -Joseph Campbell

Red White & Blue

May 25th, 2014

Happy Memorial Day weekend! This holiday is one that gets more meaningful as I get older. I feel so blessed to live in such an amazing country. Without the men and women who make such sacrifices, we wouldn’t have the freedom we do! For them, I am thankful.

We have had a great start to this holiday weekend so far. Saturday morning we started our day as usual with coffee and milk in bed. Then we went downstairs for a festive breakfast of waffles with homemade strawberry jam and yogurt with berries.


Turner loved it so much that he wanted to do some finger painting with his yogurt. Him feeding himself is teaching me a lot about letting go!

After breakfast, we cleaned up and headed to World Market to find a new rug for the kitchen. We didn’t have any luck, but I’m obsessed with that store, so it was fun nonetheless. We came back home for lunch and a nap. After Turner woke up I made him a little snack. He had a strawberry and banana smoothie with some fresh fruit.

That afternoon, my mom and stepdad came over to babysit so Stew and I could go have a date. We started at our favorite little spot in Charleston, Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer. I’ve been going to this place since I was in college. Hands down best coffee and beer I’ve ever had! My pick was the Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers and Stew picked the Stone Collective Distortion IPA. Delicious!

Then, Stew and I walked down the street to Monza which has the BEST brick oven pizza ever! And, of course, we ended the night with some ice cream. It was an awesome day! I’m so excited that I get two more days with my boys! Happy Memorial Day!