Sunday, May 31, 2009

Potty Training? & a recipe

Potty Training? hahahahahahahaha...NO. Now that I've got your attention, you can listen to my complaint:

I introduced the "big girl" potty at 12 months. Ella sees it, likes it, doesn't want to poo or pee on it...o.k. I've attempted to just put her in panties for a day (several times) and I sit her on the potty while she pretends to push, gets up and then pees on the floor. frustrating. I tried "potty treats" (m&m's) because I heard that it totally works. Ella was very excited about the candy and talked about it for a long time while she sat on the potty and "pushed", but was happy to watch me eat them after she decided the treat wasn't worth her effort. wha?!

Here is where we currently stand, big girl potty has been put away because it became merely a speed bump in our little bathroom AND Ella loves to talk about "pee and poo-poo" in public..loudly. Yay! This is the fruit of my effort. She really did me in today when she came in the restroom while I was washing her cloth diapers (yes, that is where our washing machine resides...weird, I know.) and she started to whine because the smell was too much for her sensitive nostrils. Oh, SORRY! I couldn't believe that she thought the injustice had been done against her!! I could only laugh because it is just another day with a two year old.

On a lighter note, a recipe. This is a FAVE of ours, totally cost effective, scrumptious and GREAT...YES, GREAT as leftovers! We'll eat it with smiles for 3 days straight!

Italian Sausage Pasta Bake
(this may be like your Baked Ziti recipe, if you have one, but I use my mom's pasta sauce recipe and slow cook it to add to the dish. I'm not against the jar stuff (and would definitely use it in a pinch), but it seriously tastes NOTHING like this and I'm still short-cutting with canned tomatoes so you should just try it)

Tbls. olive oil
Large Onion (coarsely chopped)
1 package Italian sausages (mild or sweet is the family preference, but you can choose hot if you all like that)
2 15 ounce cans stewed tomatoes
2 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 T tomato paste
Vegetables: I usually use zucchini (sliced), squash (sliced), and/or spinach. I'll use 2 zucchini or squash and use a whole bunch of spinach, when I have it.
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt (more to taste, if preferred)
2 tsp season salt
1 tsp pepper
1 package of whole wheat pasta (we prefer rigatoni or penne or ziti)
10 - 16 ounces mozzarella (shredded) *big variance in amt...if you like cheesy..go for it. My family feels less is more when it comes to the cheese so we opt for less, please note that I am a cheesy fanatic so my vote was vetoed during the family vote regarding the amount of cheese to use*
1/2 C shredded parmesan (optional, I've made with and without)

In a large pot, swirl the olive oil around. Remove the sausage from its casing and brown it over medium/high heat. Add the onion and zucchini and or squash and allow to soften some. Dump in the tomatoes...all of them! Fill the two 8 ounce cans of tomato sauce with water (after emptying them) and add that to the pot. Pour in the seasonings...all of them! Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat, covered, for anywhere from 1-3 hours. It is totally up to you, but if you simmer it a long, long time, you may need to add a little water. The flavor condenses the longer you simmer...yadda, yadda. Wilt in your spinach at the very end, if you are using that.

In a separate pot cook your pasta according to package directions. Shred your cheeses. In a large casserole dish (biggest you've got) dump in your pasta, cover with sauce and then smother it in cheese. Spray some foil with olive oil (or any spray you've got) and then cover your dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until the cheese is ooey-gooey. This dish is REALLY GOOD the first night, GREAT the second night and AMAZING the third night! Serve it alone, with a light tossed salad and/or garlic bread. YUM!

tips: If your biggest casserole dish is not so big and overflowing, then be sure to add a pan to catch drippings in the bottom rack of your oven. Also, this is great for parties...make it ahead and pop it in the oven just before guests arrive. They will be left pondering how the dishes could all be done when you haven't even finished cooking the meal...heh, heh! This also freezes great so if you want to eat it twice this week and once next week (or week after next) split it up into two casserole dishes (medium and small) and pop the small one in the freezer.

Yay! I love food.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We are THOSE parents...

Ella gets dirty...I mean REAL dirty. We don't stop her. If I do attempt to stop her it only ends in my frustration and her still being dirty. I do get the bug to keep her clean occasionally, but like I said before, I end up mad and she is still dirty and happy. Here is my *newly* two year old in action:

getting clean, singing and rubbing her hiney on the edge of the tub:

I don't know if Steph believed me when I said Ella would ride her little people princess carriage around the house, but here she is:

Getting dirty enjoying a cold watermelon treat:

Train ride at Houston Zoo (trip sponsored by Nana and Grandpa), this is post car nap and before the Zoo adventure:

Getting dirty/clean in the water at the Zoo. Other kiddos' parents would run their children past this exhibit with their hair tucked up neatly in cute bows and their boutique dresses flowing in the breeze....not us. Dirty snow cone followed soon after the drenching:

Ella and her Daddy at the Zoo:

Ella laying her head down during lunch after a long morning of fun with Rowan, who calls herself "Ro-Ro":

Ella and Ro-Ro during one of our three weekly play dates:

I know, not so many pictures filled with a filthy kiddo, but it happens...everyday. I guess I choose not to pull out the camera during those special moments. We've resorted to afternoon naked pool time in the back yard to combat the pile of filthy laundry that I was collecting.

Updates: my sister is graduating high school next week! Ella takes swimming lessons...wha!? More fun time with Nana, Grandpa, Mimi and Papa.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

pics, pics and more pics!

Hi, it's me, your inconsistent blogger. Sheesh! My sister really gave me the once over about it recently "what about the grandparents? they need to see more of ella and you have this great outlet to provide them with pics and stories of your adventures, etc, etc..." (those were not her exact words, but you get the gist.) I defensively thought, "I'm too busy." Bottom line is that she is right and I'll try to continue putting things up, as consistently as I am able.

It is funny, but before going through the pics on my camera for this blog, I knew which ones I wanted: our play date on the capital lawn with a bunch of friends on Monday and dinner/play date with Rowan last night and today's play date with Sammy...but I hadn't taken any pictures of these events. I feel like my mind is overloaded with snapshots of all our adventures, but I only document a tiny fraction. It made me sad for a bit, but also thankful that we are so blessed with good times that it would be impossible to capture them all. Here is the pick of the litter:

A recent rainy day:

Fun time with Joshua and Tabby when they got to come over one Friday morning recently:

Aunt Charley and Ella at one of the Friday noon concerts at Austin City Hall. These are sooooo much fun and happen every Friday during the Spring and Fall here. We pack a picnic, throw down a blanket and dance to the music. It is a blast! Uncle David was at this one, too, though not pictured.

Enchilada FACE! Los Tios with Aunt Anna and Uncle Joe. We LOVE this place and Aunt Anna and Uncle Joe spoiled us by fighting over the bill. Thanks, it was YUMMY!!!!

Hanging out with Uncle Pat (the ONE and ONLY), Uncle Joe, Aunt Anna and Great Grandma Rosie. We tried to put out eggs for Ella to gather in her basket, but she just liked roaming around the property....she has her own idea of fun.

Mugging for the camera.

Picking Strawberries at Froberg's Farm in Alvin with Nana, Juanita, Aunt Erika, baby John, Nancy, Luis and Maria.

Eating fried apple pie during a break at Froberg's.

The homemade strawberry pie that Nana made with our handpicked berries...YUM!

Bedtime stories with Nana:

Play date with Cooper and Chloe. Cooper had a giant mug in EVERY pic I took. I love that kid! ...and his beautiful 'lil sis, too.

Working on her one of her Easter gifts from momma and dada (phone from a thrift store to be installed in her play house)

We had dinner with Aunt Charley and Uncle David on Easter. Uncle David hid the eggs and Charley and Ella hunted them. Ella started just pointing at eggs for Aunt Charley to retrieve and place in her basket. She has it too good!

I only regret not taking more pics when I think about things like my brother Nick hiding Easter eggs for Ella and making her a special basket and I don't have one pic to show for it. It was the sweetest thing and it keeps me reminded that we are so blessed to have our circle of family and friends. They are all special to us and if taking time to post a few pics brings a smile to their heart, I will keep trying to bring these updates. Love you, Elizabeth

Monday, March 23, 2009


Special guests last monday for dinner, mark, jun-E and phillip (courtney, too)! we loved having them to run around with. mark and jun-E make a terrific team.

Saturday at Waterloo Park listening to the Mess With Texas SXSW lineup:
eatin' an apple

sittin' with aunt charley

trying to escape

made friends with a pile o' wood chips

Friday, March 20, 2009

Girls Night

Warning: No PICS. I'll post pics soon.

While Zach is busy enjoying SXSW with friends, Ella and I have had the opportunity to share some much needed GIRL TIME! (Definitions 3 & 4 from the link) Last night we started by making m&m cookies together. She stood in a chair while I mixed the dough, approved of it through a taste test and then added the mini m&m's, one tiny paw-full at a time. She was very proud of her contribution and I let her know that I was proud of her, too.

While the cookies baked we painted her pigs to match mine. We both have shiny purple toes. This is the first time I've done this. I was too concerned with her squirminess, but it was not an issue as she sat still and contemplated what was taking place. She did test one toe with her finger, but realized her mistake and allowed me to make a little correction after her finger was clean.

We played outside a little (more) until the batches of cookies were complete. She got an early bath and then I set her up for dinner at her little pink table in front of the TV where we watched her "dog" movie together. This would be the Disney classic, 101 Dalmations. She loves this show since she watched it once at "Papa's House". Sorry Mimi, but you were not included in Ella's version of the story behind the movie.

We ended the night with a little "Mouse Cookies", which is listening to the CD from Ella's book Mouse Cookies and More by Laura Numeroff. Ella loves this CD because it is a mix of stories, told by famous actors, and fun music to dance to. We listen to it at least once a day while we play around in her room.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Time to Get Crafty

All the credit goes to my sister on this one. She has been wearing these cute little flower clips for quite some time. She ingeniously took a few scrapbooking materials, mixed them with some inexpensive hair clips and wah-lah: beautiful hair clips. I asked her about them for Ella and she gave me a big 'ole box of leftover supplies to get me started. Ella now has about 50 of these cuties and I've shared the recipe at a recent Mom's Night Out and we had a lot of fun putting together creative combinations.

DISCLAIMER: This is not for teeny-weeny's who enjoy dismantling and sucking on everything. This contains small parts and is not intended for those in the oral fixation stage.

That being said, let's get started:

1. Buy silk flower scrapbooking materials, brads, and plain ole metal hair clips like so:

Flowers and brads from Hobby Lobby (they often have them 50% off and it is worth the wait)

Hair Clips from Sally's Beauty Supply, 100 clips for $5.50

2. Put the brad through the stack of flowers you want for this hair clip:

3. Open the clip and thread the brad through the hole in the middle of one side of the clip and spread the tines apart so that it stays in place:


They are each unique because of the thousands of combinations of silk flowers and brads. You can get polka-dot flowers and jewel brads or brads in the shape of flowers, etc, etc. I love these and it is just a little touch to bring some sparkle to your special lady. These are for adults, too! My sister wears them all the time, but she mentioned they are perfect to add a splash of color to your wardrobe if you are going out in you favorite little black dress. You can throw on a purse/belt or heels to match your flower hair clip....LOVE IT!

Since this is a crafty post, I have to mention a blog called The Artful Parent since it is BURSTING full of toddler craft activities. This mom has a list up now for a crafty activity to do with your *little* everyday in March! You don't have to be crafty to do this stuff...just give your kiddo the supplies and watch them go.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tiny Toes and Scones

Weird title, huh? Well there is more than one thing I want to talk about here and I didn't know what to call it. Anywho, today as I was filling the washing machine with Ella's little things and grumbling to myself because I have to spray-n-wash EVERYTHING, I came across this sock:

Needless to say it made me smile and it made my heart hurt thinking about how much she means to me. It is literally inexplicable! Even when she is a stink, like running around outside in socks/no shoes...guess who taught her that one (*super hint: Zach). I love this girl:

Onto a recipe note: There has been much, scratch that, just Heidi has asked that I share my scone recipe. I didn't come up with it, but I did find it first : ) It is for Dried Cranberry Scones with a hint of orange zest and I have to admit it is YUM! What???? You don't bake? Me neither, traditionally, but it is because I don't know how to follow directions and in baking it is MANDATORY. I always throw all the ingredients in the bowl and start to mix before I get to the "Set your oven to 350 degrees." Yikes! This recipe has it broken down so that the ingredients are listed and then some directions and then more ingredients and more directions...I love that! I need all of my baking recipes translated this way. Forget that because then I'd feel compelled to bake more.

I want to add that I only use real unsalted butter, no margarine, and grind it all in with my hands until it is like little pebbles. It is fairly easy and relieves a little stress, too. Also, it suggests cutting each pie into six pieces...well, maybe that is satisfactory for the birds at the New York B&B where this recipe is from, but I cut mine into four pieces and sometimes eat TWO. I don't really time the cooking, either, I remove them from the oven when the house smells great and they are golden on the top. (My problem with following directions is obvious from this last statement, but it works for this recipe) Here are some pics to wet your appetite: