Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Yeah, but what's in it?

My beautiful babies are pickytarians. Aside from peanut butter sandwiches, apples, cereal bars (must be from a package), pasta with sprinkle cheese (parmesan) and carrots (these just to get dessert), and a sprinkling of choices from the dried fruit and nut categories, they turn their noses up at most things. Rice?! How can you not like plain rice?! With a pat of butter sliding across the top, just beginning to melt into the plump little granules?!

Now, as babies, many interesting textures and tastes crossed their burgeoning palates. They ate tofu, peas, oranges to the point we were buying those giant Costco bags once a week, pickles and calamari ceviche, tentacles and all.

I figured I could get a healthy, homemade cereal bar into them over the years. Nope. Too gooey, too hard, not the right shape. Ugh.

But, I may have found something in this new cookbook I'm plowing through, testing recipes for the first Clark County Cookbook Club. The Smitten Kitchen has so far pulled off a few tasty treats my kids will eat, including these almond and date breakfast bars. They like dates, they like almonds, so I gave it a whirl in my KitchenAid. I switched the almond butter in half the batch to peanut butter to please one twin. They still asked what's in it, and peered at it from all sides before taking the teensiest of bites, but they ate the whole square. Thank goodness they cut into nice little squares or they may have been rejected before the first crumb hit their mouths! Ugh! Just eat!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ktichen Sink Calzone Saves Saturday Night Pie Night

In preparing for the first ever Clark County Cookbook Club, I've been loading up on tips and tricks from the "Smitten Kitchen." 

After spending two hours at "Disney's Frozen on Ice," and 90 minutes in Saturday night Strip traffic, I wasn't feeling like a princess pizza or salad, which is what we'd planned.  But then I had an inspired moment!

I've been reading Deb Perelman's latest cookbook (yes, people do that, read cookbooks for their flavorful content, and her's is stuffed with humorous anecdotes). She has a tips and trick section that is actually quite good, even for someone with years of amateur cooking experience under their belt.

Standing in front of the fridge, hand on hip, taste buds bored, I spotted a tub of ricotta in the back. I'd bought it on sale for 3/4 the regular price and put a few in the freezer. This poor guy was meant to be used around New Year's, but was pushed to the back due to a Pinterest baking binge.

I pulled all the usual suspects for pizza making from each bin and corner of the fridge - pepperoni, leftover canned mushrooms, the last leaves of spinach from the Costco crate I like to buy and a few other things. 
Not pictured, a gorgeous, thick sauce perfect for dipping. We always have a cup of sauce left over, which we save until it begs us to throw it away. Loved that I used so many orphaned ingredients for our Kitchen Sink Calzone. And now I can see the back of my fridge!

Turned out great, even with a wheat crust dough that I wobbled on about the bake temp. I didn't add an egg, but did put a swipe of garlic infused olive oil over the top with a dusting of Parmesan while it was cooking. Took only a few minutes and we can stuff it with anything. It's our Kitchen Sink Calzone.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Pinterest Win! And a New Year's Surprise

New Year's Eve, the hubby decides he doesn't want paella, or lobster mac and cheese, but this Pinterest post pie:

So I'll be trying a new recipe on New Year's Eve? Ok. Challenge accepted.

Worried it would be dry. Worried it would take hours to put all those little rigatonis in the springform pan I hoped I could dig out from my new organization system that is just as bad as last year's new organization system. What I didn't worry about, and should have, was that we'd have unexpected company coming to stay the night, with fur friends in tow!

No worries, I love to feed people, but now the pressure was on!

Got off to a good start by remembering that I was boiling pasta and put down the vacuum just in time to take the tiny tubes off the stove and plunge into cold water. Putting them in neat little rows was kind of enjoyable, and only took a few minutes. Until my newly-minted 6-year-old decided she was so grown up now that she needed to help. Adult prep time = 3 minutes. Child prep time = 5 minutes plus breaks to discuss different pasta shapes and how they look like logs.

Simmered the sauce for hours and poured it on after the ricotta and egg mixture. Tip: shake that ricotta into the pan like you're mad your lovely husband invited friends to stay the night New Year's Eve, and then took a nap.
The cheese floated down into each tiny tube. The lovely little suckers stood up like good little soldiers and soaked up all the moisture from the sauce to turn out perfectly tender.
Sauce on the side is a big thing in our family, and it worked out really well. This was one of our best New Year's Eves ever,  a fantastic time with friends we hadn't seen in years, and we got a clean house out of it to boot!

Happy New Year! May your year be as lovely as you wish and better than expected!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back to School Play List

This time of year always feels like a new beginning, but I also tend to look back: on the summer, last year at this time, where we were, what I hoped to accomplish and what I actually did (or didn't, of course, darn unopened Spanish audio tapes).

This year, it's also the end of one of the most magical, educational, emotional and personally trying times of my entire life. For the past five years I've had the twins 24/7, and I've loved it. We've crafted, field tripped, hugged it out, swaddled, swam, snuggled and sneezed, binge watched some shows about math and robotic dinosaurs and generally gotten to know each other pretty well. They've learned to live with my quirks as I've learned to live with the constant tugging, talking and general twin onslaught 16 hours each and every lovely day without throwing my own tantrum.

But, it's kindergarten! It's exciting! It's thrilling! I am going to ball my eyes out, hopefully in the car while driving away and not at any point before that!

So, I made up a list of songs to get us in the right mood before we head out the door. OK, they will be bouncing off the walls, but I need a little something to keep the tears at bay and remind me how much I enjoyed my years behind a little desk (little SAHWM humor).

Take a listen, enjoy your day, your first of whatever or just a few minutes of groove time before Monday hits you in the face.

1. "ABC" by Jackson 5.


2. "We are Gonna Be Friends" by White Stripes


3. "Be True To Your School" by The Beach Boys


4. "Don't Be a Dropout" by James Brown


5. "Don't Know Much About History" by Sam Cooke


6. "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder


7. "We Will Rock You" By Queen


What's on your play list?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back-to-School Organizing Ideas

The twins are going to school for the first time and I am so not ready. I mean really, truly, not ready. I'm going to be the mom in the parking lot with tears.

However, it is an opportunity to get some things straight around here! As in the drawers spilling over with clothes, most of which still fit, and the toys stuffed under the bed as a big part of their attempts at "clean up" time. Summer has been a whirlwind of activity mixed nicely with lazy afternoons, so the house is a wreck. I have no idea if we have all we need to go back to school, from clothes and shoes to glue sticks. I'm pretty sure we decimated that supply for our crab and clam mid-summer crafts. If you can't get to the beach, bring it to your craft table, and all the nooks and crannies you didn't know you had at the craft table now covered in sticky globs of sand.

Anyway, we are getting organized as the days count down to my babies going to kindergarten. It's also a great way to keep me busy and my mind off of that whizzing sound as time continues to fly by.

Instead of taking the time to take, download and post pics here (hahahaha, never gonna happen), I've chosen a few of my favorite things from fellow bloggers that are going to make our lives easier when the school bell rings!

  • Love this idea for a morning board for each twin. Make it double-sided, flip it over for afternoon chores!


  • One thing I'm looking forward to when they go to school!


  • This is for the little man who tends to use one-word answers:


  • We are doing this in card board to slip in their photo albums:


  • Back to school countdown calendar. I put in school supplies they'll need to give to the teacher and used old Kleenex boxes that are small and square and decorated them with Washi tape. I should take a pic of those, but here's where I got the idea:


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Pre-K Perks and the SAHWM

I often wonder if working from home and hustling for freelance work is worth it, or if I should put on the ol' pantsuit and go back to work in the real world. But working from home, cutting those coupons and coming up with interesting ways to entertain the little ones while also educating them and meeting my deadlines has been some times of my life. Here's a few scenes from the past 30 days or so as we got ready for summer:
Downtown Grand pool day! All in a good day's work.

  • Not a bad day at the office! We were given a cabana and lunch at the Downtown Grand's outdoor rooftop pool. Along with some great memories, I have story ideas for a few more publications!  

It's a little gem in the summer sun with great views and a good vibe. Aside from the pool, perfect for little ones who are still working on their water confidence, there was ping pong, bag toss, Foosball and other things to keep kids occupied. It's small enough you can keep an eye on your children and spacious enough that you don't feel crowded. The food was good and locals can get in for $5, which includes a free drink. I'm definitely planning on spending an afternoon under an umbrella lounging with some friends and their kids this summer!

  • They found a bee struggling on the sidewalk. We love bees, but we do have a healthy respect for their stingers. The kids attempted to help him with this exchange:

J: Maybe we can take him in the house and help him.
M: Bees don't go in houses.
J: Why not?
M: Well, first they don't know how to cook.
J: Oh, yeah. But I don't either. (concerned look)

  • Morgan has figured out that I work for the paper that she is proud to bring in from the driveway. She was reading it today with me as we drank our "coffee" (she gets juice and the classifieds), and asked if my name was in the paper today. I said no. "You need to work harder." Ouch. However, this was after a long discussion as to why they had to do their chores. Double ouch?

  • Scene: Jack is working on his interview skills, apparently. Morgan has an imaginary friend, Stacey. It's Stacey's birthday, again. While driving to a play date, J and M had this exchange in the backseat:
J: "What does Stacey want for her birthday dinner?"
M: "She likes salad."
J: "Oh. What kind of salad?"
M: "Well, she likes it a little spicy, but not too spicy."
J: "Do you like spicy?"
M: "Not too spicy."
J: "Oh, that's OK. You'll do a good job."

And to close the interview:
J: "Look! Firetruck!"

I love them. I do feel bad for the white Ford truck behind us at each red light while I wrote this down on the back of a water bill envelope.

  • Morgan was telling me she would spank Jack's butt if he got out of bed in the night to play. But Jack told her, "That's Daddy's job!" Morgan replied, "I want a job like that." Our little dictator.

  •  J: "I don't want to learn about b and d! It's hard!" 
Me: "But bacon starts with b. And Darth Vader starts with D."
J: (Drying his tears) "Oh, yeah."
M: "And if you cry at school you'll get sent to the principal's office. (Stage whisper:) And Mommy is the principal."
J: (Long pause) "Does school have bacon?"
M: (Pats her brother's little face) "You can bring Darth Vader in your pocket if you want. Right, mommy?"
I truly have no idea what we are discussing at this point because I am thinking of how proud their papa will be over their priorities. Bacon and Star Wars. Cheers to teachers, because this takes a lot of patience! When it pays off, WOW. They start kindergarten in September. We're almost ready.

  • We have "broken snifflers." (Their interpretation of our attempt at explaining why they had runny noses.) So I pulled out the cool crafts. Melted crowns + wax paper = window decorations! And scissor work, and patience, and more scissor work, then ditching those safety scissors for mommy's coupon scissors with the sharp edge. Much patience, indeed! Shwew, we made it through the craft with no Band-Aids! Although they tried. Any excuse to use the Princess and Cars Band-Aids.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Moth Crafts or More Money?

Day trip to a ghost town with grandpa after mommy puts the keyboard away.

This is my thinking today: I have to get a full time job so we can go on vacation! 

I am lucky as a freelancer to have work almost daily (including weekends), and be able to say that while making moth crafts with Morgan. She's terrified of moths, so, of course, wants to make one. So proud! 

In that respect, I am happy with my current job situation. I get to be with the twins from the crack of dawn (their unfortunate rise time no matter the circumstances) until a good hour after their actual bedtime. I write for national publications, have the opportunity to interview interesting people on a weekly basis about everything from gun control to "Duck Dynasty," the musical. I get to write every morning, while singing "Animal Crackers," unscrewing tricky glue stick caps or receiving "kissy-hugs," sometimes all at once. And I have the time to research such important things as moth crafts, not an easy task.

But it works. We've learned that Luna moths don't have mouths and moths pollinate yuccas, a favorite white flower of the Mugs. Morgan loves bees and is happy that the moths have an important job, too, and no mouth to bite with, so we have two checks in the pro-moth column so far. I even have a few story ideas to pitch to my regional editors about our winged friends.

Still, if I got a "real" job with a regular paycheck, we could take a train trip through the Rockies, which would be such a thrill for them! They are fascinated with stars and mountains. We could rent that beach condo from a friend of a friend of ours instead of staying at the remodeled La Quinta with its permanent "Please excuse our dust" sign in the lobby.

Trade offs. That train will still be there when the twins are older and possibly in school full-time. We can go another year at La Quinta, close to family we can't see enough of. The free continental breakfast includes hot, fresh pancakes, almost as yummy as the fluffy flapjacks I could whip up in that fancy condo kitchen. Trade offs.