Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Eve!

It's nearly Christmas and there is a lot of excitement in this household! Yes, that's parent and kid excitement. It's just so much more fun creating traditions, carrying on old ones, giving presents, decorating, listening to music, etc, when there's kids who are loving every minute of it and glowing with Christmas spirit! We leave for Ontario on the 22nd (woohoo!) so that means we're doing Christmas morning tomorrow. We bought the Lil Smokies today, I just made Polly's Eggs (egg milk cheese oven bake which will sit overnight in the fridge then it just needs to be popped into the oven in the morning and voila breakfast is ready without anyone having to work on it in the morning = time to open presents), we will soon lay out all the presents under the tree. We ate shepherd's pie for supper tonight and read the part in Luke 2 that talks about the shepherds. All this to say: I love having family traditions that I can be excited about year after year, and having them be something the kids anticipate, too. Sadly, we couldn't make gingerbread cookies this year. Our baking supplies aren't all unpacked yet - they weren't initially unpacked because I thought we'd be in our new place by now! *sigh. We did find out our new apartment number, though. It's the apartment we wanted so we're eager to move. However, we aren't sure yet when we'll get the go-ahead on that.

Merry Christmas to all! To those in Ontario: we hope to see and visit with you soon! And to those in Minnesota: we are so sad to not be there as there so many dear people we are missing.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This past Thursday was American Thanksgiving. We spent the afternoon with Trip and Kira and their kids. We had a lovely time visiting while last minute preparations were made, and the kids really played excellent together. The meal was a genuine feast! It was delicious and in true Thanksgiving fashion, there were plenty of leftovers. We were grateful to be invited into Trip and Kira's home for Thanksgiving. It is a holiday that we usually spend with Ry's family; since that wasn't a possibility this year, it was a blessing to be able to spend it with old friends from Minnesota!

Ry got back from his AAR conference weekend on Wednesday at 1:30am. It was a rough drive to the airport to pick him up, but I am indebted and thankful to our friends who came here at midnight and stayed till 2:45am to listen for the kids so that I could bring Ry home! The kids and I faired alright for the 5 days that Ry was away, but it is really great to have him home again.

I decided this year that I would make myself a stocking. The kids and Ry have their own stockings so I'm the only one without one. Since I've been wanting to get into quilting I decided to use fabric I had sitting around for a while intended for a project which I have abandoned. See it pictured below; one stocking, different fabric pattern on each side.

Monday, November 07, 2011

a winning recipe

Since being a stay-at-home mom, I've been investing more time and energy, and enjoying doing so, into meal planning and cooking. It has been a source of joy to find recipes that the whole family not only likes, but eats. We've noticed and heard that New Jersey is one of the most expensive places in the country to live. Thus, to find great recipes that are also cost effective is a plus.

I've discovered my new go-to soup recipe. It is easy to have all the ingredients always in the house. Another reason this soup is a winner: the kids LOVE it and eat a lot of it. So, it's an easy and pleasing lunch or with a loaf of nice bread, supper.

from The Soup Bible with my own revisions/remarks.
serves 4-6
Lentil and Pasta Soup
3/4 c brown or green lentils (not red! you want the lentils to retain shapes)
3 garlic cloves
4 cups water
3 Tbsp olive oil (I used all butter)
2 Tbsp butter
[1 onion (I omit this)]
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 Tbsp sun-dried tomato puree (I use extra, and I also puree my own so it's a little chunky)
7 1/2 c vegetable broth (I use water and add 1 Tbsp of vegetable Better than Bouillon)
a few fresh marjoram leaves (I use 1/2 tsp dried marjoram)
a few fresh basil leaves (I use 1/2 tsp dried basil)
leaves from 1 spring thyme (I use 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1/2 c small pasta shape, such as tubetti (I used 1 c alphabet shapes - part of why kids loved it - , or brown rice or barley would work great, too!)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put lentils in a large suacepan. Smash one of the garlic cloves and add it to the lentils. Pour in the 4 c water and bring to a boil/simmer for 20 mins till lentils are just tender.
2. Tip the lentils into a sieve, remove the cooked garlic clove and set it aside. Rinse the lentils with cold water. Leave them to drain.
3. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and half butter in a large saucepan. Add the [onion and the] celery and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until softened. Crush the remaining garlic and mash the reserved cooked garlic clove. Add to the vegetables with the remaining oil/butter, the tomato puree and lentils. Stir, then add the stock, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to boil, stirring. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the pasta and bring to boil again, stirring. Simmer, stirring frequently, for amount of time of pasta cook time (approx. 7-8 minutes). [If using rice or barley, add in step 4 so it can cook for 30 minutes.] Add remaining butter and adjust seasoning.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Impromptu visit to NB

When we noticed that Ry's reading week coincided with the visit our friends' band, The Geese, to New Brunswick, we knew we had to make the 11 hour trek to be there at the same time! We hadn't been back to NB in 3 years so it was high time we got back to see everyone and the land. It was an excellent visit with dear friends, not to mention it just felt *good to be back in the Maritimes. We stayed with the Rouleau family and we enjoyed preparing meals together, eating together, relaxing and staying up to late - it was awesome. Our kids got along really well, and Ali and Jeromy took excellent care of Aleida and Owen. Seeing and hearing the band was a treat (thegeese.ca), not to mention visiting and hanging out with them.

On the way home, we had to stop and stay overnight in New Hampshire because there was a major snow storm. We didn't even think that we needed to plan around the weather, but apparently we should have! Owen was absolutely thrilled, though. He's been wishing for snow for a long time.

Halloween was fun! We went trick or treating in the area and it was a lot fun. The kids really enjoyed it as well.
Aleida walked around the house like this the morning of Oct 31. 
I decided she'd go out like this for Halloween as we didn't have a costume idea for her. I just added a couple other things to make her more 'hipster girl'.

Sadly, I don't have a picture of the both of them before they went out. Owen was so excited about it. He wore his spiderman pajamas and his spiderman mask. He looked great and he had so much fun. Aleida enjoyed it as well. I don't think she knew what she was doing, but she did what all the other kids were doing, and didn't want her treats in her bag, but wanted to hold them all. Obviously this didn't work very well. It was only when someone asked her, "Do you want some chocolate?" that she gave me her treat and asked me to open it for her so she could eat it. She was hooked! She wanted all that candy! Silly girl.
Conveniently neither kid has asked about the candy anymore. So, on the fridge it sits.

Okay, so I just got a picture of the kids from someone else. Here they are, with their friends:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Aunt Heidi

So I finally gathered photos from my phone and from our camera so I can document some of the fun we've had with Aunt Heidi. She came and stayed with us for a weekend, and then we met up with her over Thanksgiving weekend in New York City at Central Park.

Heidi worked a long time on this "Abstrakt" project but without luck of finishing.

At Terhune Orchard.
Central Park, NYC
Carousel in Central Park

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Turkey Swamp Park

We visited Turkey Swamp Park located about 35 minutes from our house. It was a gorgeous day and quite windy. It was too good of a day to just stay inside! We all had a wonderful time being out in the fresh air with the smell of leaves and pine needles and the occasional whiff of swamp. We hope to get out a lot before the cold gets to be too much. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

making new routines

We're settling quite nicely into our new home. There are still details to sort out which will just take time, energy and money (of course, there are fees for everything!), but we've already put most of that behind us. 

We live in an older apartment complex which will soon be replaced by new buildings which are currently under construction (http://www.ptsem.edu/offices/housing/floorplans.aspx click on a box link & scroll down to see pictures). We are very excited to live in the new building, not happy about having to move again in a couple of months, but we are pleased to live where we are currently living. The two complaints I had about our previous though very loved St Paul apartment, was that we didn't have a porch and that there wasn't a good yard in which the kids could play. So, while this apartment doesn't have the character and charm that our old place had, it does have a lovely balcony that we all spend a lot of time on and there is massive yard with a huge play structure and pavement space where there are tons of wheeled riding toys for the kids. We are grateful for these things.

It has taken us some time to adjust to our new schedules. It has been a couple years since Ry was a student, so we have to remember to how allot time for all that need to do. He has a couple part-time jobs for which he clocks & makes his own hours. I am home full time in addition to watching a sweet boy, 2.5 yrs old, two days a week. It is fun for the kids and give our week structure. I am grateful for the opportunity to 'work' at home.

A month after we moved, a very exciting HUGE parcel arrived at our house. It was Owen's birthday week (who are we kidding, right; child birthdays spread beyond one day) and something arrived for him as well as for me! My very kind sister got me a crock pot & a cookbook to go along with it! Woohoo for me! I have been having so much fun planning what to make and being thrilled with the results thus far. Some recipes take all day, or all night, or a couple of hrs. I'll share a recipe that worked great for my family's schedule and for our taste buds.

Crock-Roasted Summer Vegetables
from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

cooker size: medium or large round or oval
setting and cook time: high for 1 1/2 to 2 hours

2 large bell pepper, any colour, seeded and cut into strips
2 large red onions (this was omitted from our meal!)
3 medium size yellow crookneck or pattypan summer squash, ends trimmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 medium size zucchini, ends trimmed, cut into thick matchsticks; or 1 lb baby zucchini with blossoms attached, left whole
5 oz fresh green beans, stem end snapped off
4 cloves of garlic, peeled (i quartered them)
2 to 3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or savory (I used basil and I used more than 1 Tbsp)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
about 3 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leafed parsley
2 to 4 Tbsp white or dark balsamic vinegar

1. Put all the vegetables in the slow cooker. Add the oil and basil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Cover and cook on high until the vegetables are just tender and still hold their shape, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
2. Serve sprinkled with the parsley and vinegar.

Owen and I prepared this meal while Aleida was taking her afternoon nap. Then ta-da it was ready when it was time for supper! Fantastic.

A meal for Sunday that I am super pumped about is an old Colonial meal: Boston baked bean (recipe from 1700s) served with steamed brown bread. Fun, right? Yes, I know. I can hardly wait.

I don't have very many great pictures to post about our new life here. The big picture at the top of our blog was taken at a family day at the Seminary.

When Grandma and Grandpa visited, we went to the ocean (an easy hour drive away!).

We explored Princeton Theological Seminary campus as well as Princeton University's campus. The below picture is at the University.

It is also very important to mention the community garden across the street from our home! We hope to get a plot in it next spring. These chickens are very friendly and appreciate when we bring them stale bread.

 Aunt Heidi visited us! We went to Terhune Orchard and had fun playing with animals, getting a tractor wagon ride, and running around.

Aleida's new sleep habit is laying and sleeping on the rug on her bedroom floor. Apparently this is more comfortable. Or something. When it is bedtime, she always lays down on the floor. Since bedtime has been SUCH an incredible struggle with her, we decided to go along with this odd desire and believe it or not, bedtime has been going okay now! I move her into her bed once she's been sleeping for a bit assuming the floor could only be comfortable for so long.

We're an hour and 20 minutes from the grand New York City. We took a family trip in on Sunday because Heidi was there! We met up with her at Central Park and had a lovely afternoon with her. We rode the carousel and played in a playground (well, by "we" I mean Heidi and Owen).

Well. There you have it; a doozy of a blog post. If you got through it all, well done. I'll try to post more frequently and less lengthy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Owen as Lightening McQueen

I found Owen trying to color his legs with crayons. So, I gave him the leftover halloween face paint.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ch ch ch changes

Well, Aleida mastered climbing out of her crib. She'd wait for us to leave the room and she'd immediately get herself out. About a month ago we bought a bunk bed set from Craigslist, and have had that set up in the kids room. Owen has the top bunk and we figured we'd move Aleida to the bottom bunk eventually - perhaps once we'd moved this fall. But, with this battle of stay-in-your-crib underway, we decided we should just transfer her so the battle became the inevitable stay-in-your-bunk-bed battle. She was tired enough after lunch today that I thought it could actually work to put her down for her nap on her bunk bed. It took quite a few times of me laying her back down and getting upset with her (and having her laugh at me in response - she really was excited to be on her bunk, I guess) before she got the hint that it was nap time and that I didn't want her getting out of her bed.

Halden, our friend who stayed with us a couple weeks ago, had funny shoes (well, we thought they were funny, I doubt he thought so) and Owen put them on. He looks pretty hilarious, don'tcha think?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

thanks Grandma!

Grandma made Aleida's sweet dress. There's also a hat and bloomers not shown in this pic. The 102°F day meant those items were not put on her yet.

photo blog time...

Owen caught a fish and was about to hold it (below picture) it flopped out of Ry's hand which made Owen VERY scared of it! It took a lot of convincing to get Owen to pose near the fish (see next picture).

Owen loves writing on top of words I've written. He'll do this for long periods of time.