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:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy 31st to my Man.

Besides being President's Day, this past Monday was Zach's 31st birthday. We started off the day at Maria's Taco Express. In one word: Yummy and in two: Yummy & Affordable. This is a must go-to breakfast taco place here in Austin. Back in the day we fought our college-age contemporaries and hippies for tacos at noon on Saturday, but we've outgrown that scene and get there when they open..during the crowds, just perfect : )

Birthday Boy:

His Daughter, dancing to the Latin grooves rocking the place at 7:30 AM:

Birthday Celebrations!

After dropping the Birthday Boy off at work, Ella and I had to come up with a sweet Birthday treat for the night. We searched high and low in the baking aisle and came up with this:

It is a Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie mix (+ chocolate chips) made into cupcakes with a cream cheese mixture. The recipe was on the back of the box and SOOOOO easy and even more DELICIOUS! I will make these again and would recommend you do the same. I have been trying to pay more attention to what I eat so that I am not overindulging EVERYDAY, but these have made life difficult. Luckily my sister and her husband dropped by for a birthday cupcake and a gift certificate for Zach. I sent them home with a couple and the recipe doesn't make much so after tonight's snack I'm only left with two. Even if I eat them both, it isn't as bad as eating the whole lot, right?

Onto other matters. I cook...a lot. I enjoy it and I love finding new recipes. I have a couple criteria: easy and good, scratch that GREAT. Did I mention EASY? Here was dinner last night and tonight and Thursday and sandwiches this weekend for a crowd: Pulled Pork slow cooked in a crock pot. Ever done it? If so, you know where I'm going here, if not, tune in. Here is the recipe:

4 lb. pork butt or shoulder bone in or boneless..doesn't matter
2 red onions (or regular, but I've only used red)
cloves (I use the already ground cloves)
BBQ sauce

Throw that hunk o' meat into your crock pot (borrow your Grandmother's if you don't have one yet). Sprinkle her with salt, pepper and the ground cloves and cover her with the sliced onions. Fill the pot 2/3 of the way with water. Cook on low for 10-12 hours. You will know she is ready because when you jab her with a fork she will fall to pieces! I throw her in at night and then sleep easy knowing that a week's worth of meals has been prepared in 5 minutes.

Pull out the meat and onions, remove any bone, fat and/or gristle. Shred it up with a fork or just your hands (I prefer my hands because you can catch any fat/gristle that is hiding). To date I've used a store-bought bar-b-que sauce to flavor the meat, but I'm leaning towards making my own in the future to avoid the "corn syrup and other icky things I want to stay away from". I found this recipe which I will likely be trying. I also found another option for cooking/seasoning the pork that I may dabble with in the future here.

You thought the super, duper easy cooking method was the climax of this recipe, but you would be wrong. Here is the list of meals you can make with it (feel free to add more if you have them):

Bar-b-que sandwiches (I like it on whole wheat buns w/ jalapenos and served messy with a big green salad and this dressing)
Pork Nachos (Zach's favorite, extra guacamole)
Bar-b-que baked potatoes (My personal favorite...I saute a little onion and veggies in olive oil to throw on top)
Tacos (Roll up the pork with some fresh salsa in a corn tortilla..YUM!)

Even with all these terrific options, I end up freezing a lot for a great weekend lunch. In this economy, you can't beat the price for a week's worth of meals.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Catching up and Valentine's Day!

We had a terrific day at the park with the Villas on Thursday. My friend since high school, Lyndsay (and former college roommate), has started a mom's group for us to "Get a Grip" on everything from our schedules, finances, health, etc. It has been a wonderful introspective look into my life and it is good to hear God's wisdom on these areas and the experience of other mothers. I am enjoying it immensely, especially since the littles are all well cared for during our one hour lesson/talk and then we get to grub together afterwords. It is totally a win/win! This past Thursday Joshua, Tabby and Ella had some extra energy to burn after lunch so we made the trek to their local are some pics:

Ella enjoying a cinnamon roll from Upper Crust Bakery care of our friends Heidi and Sammy who had dropped by the day before with this sweet goodness and Valentines Day Wishes:

Ella and I are on this side of the see-saw and you can see Tabby and Lyndsay on the other side!

Joshua and Ella clowning around on the swings:

Valentine's Day was GREAT! Ella got a stroller for her babies and a Strawberry Shortcake kite. We have yet to try out the kite, but the stroller has seen some miles already. I went to work while Ella and Zach went on a bus ride adventure to HEB to score some donuts and a rose for me! Ella says the rose smells like candy and I caught her trying to lick it once. I agree that it does smell THAT sweet. That afternoon we got ready for our guests, the O'Baugh's. We planned to make heart shaped pizzas and sit out by the fire in the back yard. I'm so lame-o that I only took pics of the set up and NADA of our lovely guests whom we enjoyed so much and see so little:

Ella putting on her dad's hat and shoes during the day:

All of the sweet cards/gifts we (Ella) received this year:
(includes a tiny puppy from Nana and Grandpa and a very sweet little card from her Great Grandma Rosie, full of stickers!)

Reaching for her little puppy:

The spread, whole wheat pizza crusts, recipe is here & the toppings included: cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan cheeses, bell pepper, mushroom, black olives, pineapple, jalapenos, pepperoni, sausage, fresh tomato and red onion:

The kids' pies:

Harris, age 4, was a hoot. Ella thought he hung the moon and copied every move he made (sometimes to his dismay as he is an 'independent' older kid). He was very sweet with her. Whitney and Justin came bearing gifts from girl scout cookies and chocolate covered strawberries to a tutu for Ella and homemade soap goodness for me! We enjoyed making memories with the O'Baughs and intend on doing it again real soon : )

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ella PICS!

I have tons to say, but I'll save it for later and just post up recent park/around the house pics of Ella. Much belated, sorry.

Mug I used for the 20 valentines "we" made this year:

Play date with Sammy:

Wearing Daddy's hat:

Walking around Town Lake after the museum on a lazy Sunday afternoon:

THE playhouse:

'nother angle:

Very important with her badges and mommy's pashmina:

Reading before bed all by herself:

Sad face (note: next picture was a happy face...don't know why she was sad that one second):

Playing with window cling-ons:

On a crazy swing at the park:

On a crazy circle-thingy at the park with Aunt Charley:

At the park (moments before "D" went missing for a couple hours...please see "date night" story for additional details below)

Climbing the stairs to the slide:

Play date with Zoey!:

BADLY in need of a haircut...we'll be calling Auntie Heather soon:

I've had a special request for a recipe so stay tuned for Cranberry Scones coming soon!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Date Night with burgers and lots o' BSS!

WARNING! This post contains no pics of Ella, though they are soon to come.

WOW! I must have been good this past year because karma came back around and slapped me with a good one...scratch that...GREAT ONE! Zach and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary this past November. We had tentatively planned a show and dinner and then backed out on our sitter (my sister) at the last second...too cold...too tired...some combo. Anywho, we saw that one of our favorite bands Broken Social Scene would be playing Bass Concert Hall. Great show + AMAZING newly renevated venue = SUPER FUN, right? Tickets would be pricey, but we would save our pennies and enjoy a night out. So, I buy the tickets...late. Bad seats? They were in the back of the first balcony so they wouldn't be the "greatest", but it is a concert hall so you have a decent view from every seat. Well, two days before the show I get a call, I actually missed it, but they left a message on my machine saying "stop by and exchange your tickets when you get to the show, you are on the orchestra (floor) level". Cool. Didn't think much of it, but it sounded fine to me.

Last night, the sitter (my sister) comes by and we are frazzled after having left D-Bear (the only "can't live without" item in our home and Ella's prized possession) at the park...down south...after a playdate with our friends Shannon, Aryn and their neice Zoey. YIKES! I'm hungry and my night is diving towards disaster! Zach says, "I'll go get him and you get ready". I can do that and so I did. "D" was retrieved, though a little off the beaten path from where we remembered seeing him last. It is possible that he made friends with a dog for a bit.

Ok, back on schedule: 6 pm and we have time to grab a burger and be early for the show to exchange our tickets. We go to Burger Tex where I get my fave veggie burger on a homemade wheat roll, extra BBQ sauce and no less than 20 jalapenos..YUM! w/ fried okra...uh, can substitute it for the fries! Zach grabbed a 4 oz burger with pepper jack cheese and the tasty house fries. We thoroughly enjoyed dinner and left for the show a little before 7 pm, show started at 8. We find free parking around UT and enjoy the brisk walk in cool weather to Bass Hall.

There are students passing out fliers for an after party for UT students with DJ's and we get snubbed...don't we look young enough to be a Master's student, at least? A little hurt (not that we would have stayed for the after party nor did it require the flier) we stumbled inside to exchange tickets. These GOLDEN tickets(litterally) said "A 1 seats 119 and 120". "A 1" sounded pretty good to us, though we could not yet imagine. We had a drink at the bar and walked through the many levels of lobby while gazing out of the building's glass facade towards downtown. When we took our seats about 40 minutes later we were in SHOCK! "A 1" meant down in the front and seats 119 and 120 were smack dab in the center!!!!!!! Wha?! I smiled and waved for the non-existent candid camera. I do have to clarify that we technically had 3 rows in front of us, but I would still have considered our seats the VERY BEST IN THE WHOLE PLACE.

Lymbyc System opened the show and it was a nice calm Stars of the Lid'sy performance (though a little more raw) before BSS. We really were stoked about our seats. BSS rocked for 3 hours! The lead singer complained of having a touch of the flu, which I'm sure we caught due to our seats being about 10 feet from him. They played some of my favorite older tunes in combination with the new good stuff and some of the band members' side project work, which we are also fans of. Everything they touch is GOLD and we knew that going in. It was midnight before we left the Hall and headed home to our sleeping little. I have no pictures because I was sure that they wouldn't let us in with a camera...WRONG-O. Everyone had a camera. I caught a couple on my phone, but it is really a phone and not good for pics, especially show conditions. I'm searching for some photos of the show to link to, but I don't see anything online yet.

For those of you going to the Houston show...HAVE FUN!