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 (, 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: