Monday, April 30, 2012

Where does the time go?!

I hope you had a good weekend. We had a rare, toddler-free evening Saturday (thanks Mom and Roger) and it was great to relax and sleep in - until 6:30. Tomorrow is May...can you believe it!? I plan to do monthly posting called "A few of our favorite things." Here are a some items I've had my eye on or have purchased recently. There are so many cute, colorful things for spring!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Yogurt-marinated grilled chicken

Looks like it might not rain all weekend after all, so if you're looking for a grilling recipe, I recommend this recipe (adapted from epicurious). It may be the best chicken recipe I've ever had.

Combine the following in a food processor and blend until smooth:
2 4-ounce containers of plain, low-fat yogurt
1/2 c cilantro
1/3 c diced red onion
3 minced garlic cloves
1 T lime juice
2 t garam masala
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 t minced ginger

Pour marinade over 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken cutlets and refirgerator for at least three hours. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill chicken 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked through. Here's our leftovers served on top of a salad the next day. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Craft: ornament tree

I realized this week that mother's day is a couple weeks and I wanted to make a couple gifts (including one for our own house). I made this simple clay recipe in the morning and it was cool just before lunch. I wasn't sure if Emmerson was old enough to do this project (rather than molding play dough, she picks it apart into tiny pieces and I find it in the rugs for days), but she surprised me. Her and her friend sat at the table for nearly an hour stamping the clay and drawing with toothpicks. 

The ornaments dried after a day. I tied ribbon and hung them on an arrangement we have in our foyer. Looks great, don't you think? The best part is that Emmerson has been pointing out her work all day - she's so proud.


Monday, April 23, 2012

A low-fat, low-cal puffed pancake (gluten-free optional)

Spring brings many new house-related projects, yard work and cleaning. It seems like we have been so busy these days that it’s hard to find time to make a family dinner.

Last week, after a particularly busy day, I made a quick puffed pancake. It paired well with a much needed glass of wine.
One pancake is 7.5 g fat, 275 calories (wine not included):

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix one egg with 1/4 c skim milk. Add 1 t sugar or honey.

Add 1/4 c flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, or oat to make it gluten-free), a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg and 1/8 t vanilla.
Pour into a greased pie pan or quiche dish and bake 10 minutes until golden brown.

Top with 1/2 cup berries and 2 T truwhip. Have you heard of this? It’s similar to cool whip, but creamier and still low fat. It contains tapioca syrup and natural ingredients rather than corn syrup).

Low-fat, low-calorie, gluten-free, seriously filling. Is there anything this pancake can't do?!  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A question for the parents

How to you approach punishment when you aren't at home?

This post comes after a particular difficult week with relentless tantrums. While we're home, a short time-out (or lately even the threat of a time-out) is enough, but when we're out somewhere, I'm at a loss as to what to do. Suggestions?

And a few pictures - even though she has her moments, she's still such a doll.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to cut mango, avocado and onion

Last weekend, I made this great salsa and thought, what is the correct way to cut mango? An internet search later and sure enough, I’ve been doing it wrong.

I'm certainly not a trained chef, but here are my step-by-step pictures and instructions to dice a mango, avocado and onion.
Mango has a flat, oval pit.
Cut the top and bottom of the mango.
Set the section containing the pit aside.
Slice the mango horizontal, then vertical,
but not through the skin.
Turn inside out.

Cut mango as close to skin as possible.
Now take the section with the pit.
Cut along either side of pit.
Remove skin and dice.
Cut the avocado in half, revealing the pit.
Tap the pit with a knife so it is wedged
into it. Wiggle the knife and the pit will
come loose (if the avocado is ripe).

Cut avocado in cross hatch pattern,
but not through skin.

Scoop out with spoon.

Cut the onion in half from root to top
and peel off outer layer.
Slice onion, being careful not to slice through root

Slice the opposite direction creating a dice.
Discard root section.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Craft: repurposing kid's artwork

A crayon hasn't left my daughter's hand for the last year and after a few months, her artwork was spilling out of the bins in the playroom. I decided to use some of the pieces to make gift bags out of old shopping bags. I cut out shapes and glued over the store name. Family and friends love the bag more than the gift! 
We recently started painting watercolors and drawing on craft paper. I roll out a large piece and tape it to the kitchen table and let Emmerson paint and color for hours. I plan to use this as wrapping paper.

I also love framing drawings in a simple frame with matting and mixing them in with other artwork and photos in a wall collage. The photo below (an idea I found on Pinterest) is cute. 

What creative ways have you seen children's artwork used?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Friday

I can hardly believe it’s the weekend already and yet, this week has been so exhausting. It was a hard few days with our two-year-old. We are looking forward to seeing family again this weekend. I’m making this for dinner along with this delicious salsa recipe. Let’s just hope the weather is nicer than what’s predicted.

The latest on Facebook is that it’s becoming uncool. I must admit that I thought about a quote I’ve seen as I read this article: “hopefully one day your life will be as cool as you make it appear on Facebook.” This is exactly what makes Facebook uncool - the people that make it unreal. The ads and changing privacy settings don’t help either. What do you think: cool or uncool?

Gosh, Cory Booker impressed me last year when I read about what he was doing in Newark. No matter where you stand in politics, you got to admire a courageous politician who saves people from a burning building. It's great to end the week with a positive news story.

Have a wonderful (rain-free) weekend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yoga: practice makes perfect?

I saw this cute cartoon this morning and laughed. It’s not just that our two-year-old has mastered all the yoga poses with no practice, but she has this incredible ability to tune out everything else when she wants to. I turn on Elmo and my daughter stops whatever she is doing and is completely focused within two minutes. Emmerson? Emmerson? Emmerson? Nothing.

I show up at yoga class one day a week and I can’t seem to get centered. I’m sitting on my mat, setting an “intention for myself” when all these thoughts start flooding my mind. I need to do a load of laundry when I get home, remember to call the lawn guy back, find a babysitter for this weekend, email so-and-so and, oh wait, did I silence my cell phone?

The only thing I have found to solve this problem is to show up at the gym earlier and do some form of cardio before stepping into class. I’m able to make my mental lists while I’m on the elliptical or treadmill and be more calm by the time yoga begins. But on the days we’re running late (and aren’t we always?), I haven’t figured out how to get into the yoga zone. Any advice?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chopped vegetable salad

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. We spent a lot of time with family and friends – dying eggs, hunting for eggs and, of course, eating.

My contribution to Easter brunch was a chopped vegetable salad. According to my husband, it was the perfect complement to the meal because it looked like something a bunny would devour.

10 brussel sprouts finely chopped
1 large head of radicchio finely chopped
1 english cucumber sliced
½ c feta cheese

This salad is very diverse in that you can substitute other vegetables depending on what looks good, is in season or is on sale at the grocery store.

A sweet poppy seed dressing is perfect for this slightly bitter salad.

¼ c sugar (reduce the sugar if you prefer)
2 T plus 2 t cider vinegar
2 t minced red onion
2 t dijon mustard
½ t poppy seeds
¼ t salt
½ c olive oil

Dress salad just before serving and add salt and pepper to taste. 

And I can't resist adding a couple extra pictures of my adorable bunny.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pancake muffins

My nieces were visiting last night, so I thought I would try a new muffin recipe this morning.
1 c pancake mix
2/3 c water
1/2 c maple syrup

Mix together and pour into muffin pan filling each cup halfway. Sprinkle with toppings on your choice. We used chopped apple and banana, blueberries, chocolate chips and cinnamon. The little ones had fun participating and making their own muffins.

It was so easy and fun (and great tasting) that this might just replace our traditional pancake recipe.

Here are a couple extra pictures of them eating their breakfast – in sunglasses. It was sunny on the lake this morning.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend project: front door

Our neighbors know exactly what we’re doing on any given evening. Fortunately for us, I don’t think they care much, but I don’t like the feeling I live in a fishbowl.

Our street has heavy traffic and our front door is mostly glass (see picture below). I have searched home design websites for months to find a remedy for our front door privacy issue with no success.
A couple weeks ago, I came across some pretty window film. It allows light in and is a great solution for the windows on either side of the door. It would also look amazing on interior doors (our office is a perfect example – we could close the double doors and hide our paperwork and mess).

I spent Friday applying the window film. I followed the instructions and it went pretty smoothly. The most difficult part was removing glue residue from the glass leftover from construction. 

I am still looking for a solution for the door. I spent Saturday sewing a doubled-sided roman shade, but am not convinced that is the best solution. I wanted a cordless shade of some sort, but the cordless shades I've seen have a depth greater than three inches, so it wouldn't fit behind the door handle. I am, however, very happy with the window film. What other solutions have you seen? 

Busy, busy girl

We've been keeping busy - baking when the weather is below 50 degrees...
And at the park when the weather is above...

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