Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Gone. We're on vacation, and while I have a million pictures to share with you, I just haven't had the capability to sit down and update here. I haven't had the ability to sit down and read all my friend's blogs! I miss you all! But I'll catch up soon. 

In the meantime, don't worry. The kids and I are having fun visiting family, going to parties, visiting museums and the beach, and walking among the fireflies at twilight. 

Being gone is so good.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

5 years old!

Well, another year has passed.  It's now been 5 years since Fletcher made me a mama.  Seems like so long ago and yesterday all rolled into one.  Does that make sense?  I can barely remember how it feels to NOT be a mother, so it feels so long ago.  But wait, wasn't he *just* a baby?  Anyway, Fletcher is 5, and he is just as joyful as day one.  He is such a kind, sweet boy, and I feel like I was blessed to be the one to care for his little soul as he grows up.  It's such a soft, sweet soul to care for.  
 He still loves trains, but his realm of interest has broadened to include superheroes, legos, and Transformers.  But trains will always be his first true love.  Besides mama, of course!
 He loves to meet new people, especially new little people, and will try to play with everyone at the park all at once.  He likes to include everyone.  I have never heard him say anything mean to another child, but does easily get his heart crushed when other children say something remotely unkind to him. 
He keeps us in stitches with his "Fletcherisms" and we often ask him how he feels or thinks about a lot of things in this world just to get his take on it.  He's opened my eyes to seeing something a new and different way more times than I can count.
  His favorite foods tend to be fresh vegetables, and still loves a good salad.  But he prefers to drink chocolate milk to anything else.  He's pretty good about trying new things, though. 
 Fletcher is going through a "mama" phase, but could quickly pass me over in favor of Papa tomorrow.  He is fickle like that. 
 His imagination is something to behold, and if you have a minute or maybe an hour, he'd love to tell you a story he's made up.  He is an excellent traveler, and really likes new places to visit.  A car trip is one of his favorite activities of all time.  Especially if it ends somewhere fun. 
 He mostly tolerates his little sister, but he and Rowan are starting to become play mates.  It's not perfect, but sometimes there is a magical moment where they play nicely together.  It's my favorite kind of moment.  He doesn't have a lot of patience for sitting down to write letters or draw, but he could listen to someone reading him a book for hours. 
He crawls into bed with me every morning, cuddles close, and tells me, "Good morning, mama!"  Even when it is too early, I love that he still cuddles and wants to be cuddled.  I loved the age of 4, but 5 is shaping up to be an excellent number to be. 

Fletcher, you are the best boy I know, and you make this mama's heart happy every day.  I love your mind, I love your energy, and I love your imagination.  You will do amazing things in this world, I know it. 
Love, your Mama xoxo

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

his birthday party!

Fletcher's birthday is this Saturday.  But we're going to be away visiting family then, so we had his party for his friends a week early.  Fletcher didn't mind.  He is, however, very confused as to what exact day is his birthday.

Most of his school friends couldn't make it to the party because of summer vacations, but that was all right by me!  Since we were having a pool party I knew it could get a little bit out of control really quickly.  But just the handful of kiddos was perfect for our small pool.
Fletcher wanted a "Transformer" birthday party.  What is it with the commercial themes?  I blame Brian on this one.  Fletcher originally asked for a garbage/recycling truck birthday party, and I was on board for that.  But then Brian got to asking Fletcher, "What about Superman, or Iron Man, or Transformers..." And that was it.  But no problem anyway since I really do a bare minimum when it comes to themes.  Here were the only places that displayed anything Transformer related: a sign I made, and spinners to top the cupcakes.
 And that sign took me an embarrassing amount of time to make.  Embarrassing because it should look way better than it does for the amount of time it took!  Fletcher still loved it, which made this mama's heart happy.  He requested the cupcakes in ice cream cones, too.  Kids just love those things, they were gone in no time.  I made a bigger cake for blowing out candle purposes, and for adults to eat.  But the adults loved the cone cupcakes just as much!
 There was a rapt audience while Fletcher opened presents.  And an involved audience, too!  Fletcher had to fight to be able to open his own presents at one point.  Kids just want to be helpful.  And to move things along quickly.
I asked Fletcher what his favorite part of the party was, and he answered "All of it!"  So I count that as a success!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

interview for Father's Day

Is Papa your best buddy or your best friend?
Fletcher: Both.

What does Papa look like? 
Fletcher: Like an Army guy.

What does Papa do as an Army guy?
Fletcher: He does Army stuff.
Like what?
Fletcher: I don't know.

What is your favorite thing to do with Papa?
Fletcher: Play with him.

If you could go anywhere with Papa where would you go?
Fletcher: To where the Transformers and Iron Man live.

What is your favorite food that Papa makes you to eat?
Fletcher: I don't know.  I mean all of them.

What does Papa do when you cry?
Fletcher: He gives me kisses in a funny way.

How does Papa make you happy?
Fletcher: Everything he does.

What do you love best about Papa?
Fletcher: Everything.

What is your favorite place you've ever gone with Papa?
Fletcher: To parks and stuff but not the stores.  Because you don't get to do anything at the stores except buy stuff.  Boring, boring, boring.

What do you love more, Papa or donuts?
Fletcher: both!
Both?  You love Papa and donuts just the same.
Fletcher: yeah.
Is Papa your best buddy or your best friend?
Rowan: Um, Alexander. (editors note: Alexander is actually Fletcher's best friend)
No, PAPA.  Is Papa your best buddy or your best friend?
Rowan: Both

What does Papa look like? 
Rowan: I don't know.

What does Papa do as an Army guy?
Rowan: He goes to work!

What is your favorite thing to do with Papa?
Rowan: Play with him!

If you could go anywhere with Papa where would you go?
Rowan: A restaurant.

What is your favorite food that Papa makes you to eat?
Rowan: Pizza!  

What does Papa do when you cry?
Rowan: Hugs me.  And says, "Shhhh!"
What do you love best about Papa?
Rowan: Papa!
You love Papa best about Papa?
Rowan: Yeah.

What is your favorite place you've ever gone with Papa?
Rowan: Ummmm, to Alexander's house!

What do you love more, Papa or donuts?
Rowan: (long pause) Papa!

you can read last year's interview here

Friday, June 14, 2013

homemade coffee creamer

While my parents were visiting last month, my mom took it upon herself to read the labels of all my favorite prepackaged, processed foods and point out all the awful chemicals that I have been ingesting.  Thanks, mom!  Seriously though, I have been trying to cut down on the prepackaged stuff around here.  We've been eating more "whole" foods, and trying to stay away from preservatives and chemicals.  But I just couldn't give up my creamer, ok?  Especially that Cinnabon creamer.  And if you look at the label on store bought creamer, it reads like the fine print on toxic waste.  If toxic waste had fine print.

So, ok mom.  I will try and find a recipe that is non-toxic.  I found one here that used a basic recipe, and then you can add in whatever flavorings you enjoy.  So I made mine cinnamon vanilla flavored.  And it is so much better than the store bought variety!

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cup milk, half and half, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or cream
2 t. vanilla extract
1 to 2 T cinnamon

First pour all the ingredients into a large bowl or jar.  I used a jar so that I could put the lid on and shake it well instead of stirring.
Shake (or stir) well.  If you have the time, it's good to let the mixture sit in the fridge for about an hour to let the cinnamon permeate the creamer.  Pour into another bowl through a mesh strainer.  I lined mine with cheesecloth to get the extra grit of the cinnamon out.
Even with the cheesecloth there will be cinnamon still in there, which is good.  Because it's supposed to be cinnamon flavored.  But it won't be gritty at all.  We all want a creamy creamer, right?  I just have this thing about not drinking crunchy coffee.
Pour it back into the container of your choice, and store it in the fridge.  I've been making  it every Sunday and it lasts about a week.  Sometimes less because I like to use it in iced coffee, too.  It will technically be good for as long as the milk you use in it is good.  Check your expiration dates.
I think it would be so good with coconut milk, I might try that next!  Or I might try my hand at salted caramel flavor... I really love a splash of creamer in my coffee, can you tell?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

the garden

When I was growing up, my brother and I were forced into garden servitude every summer.  Weeding, watering, planting, etc.  It was not my favorite task.  My parents kept a large vegetable garden, fruit trees, and countless flower beds.  They still do, actually.  And although I liked being outside as a little girl, I enjoyed swinging, tromping through the woods, and playing much more than weeding a garden.  So I vowed I would never keep a garden.  Goodness, how time can change things.

Now I love gardening.  But you can keep the weeding, thank you very much.  We put in our biggest garden yet this summer.  I usually do strictly container gardening with maybe a couple hills of pumpkins and squash.  But this summer we went to town tilling up the garden space and planting in a bit of everything.

5 varieties of tomatoes, 4 varieties of peppers, 3 varieties of lettuce, radishes, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, watermelons, strawberries, and pumpkins.  We luckily have a bamboo forest in our backyard, so my mom and I made the tomato trellis.  We put hay down to thwart the weeds, and to protect the plants from drying out in the hot sun.  It's been relatively cool and rainy, so I've only had to water a couple times.  Today will be in the 90s, so it will need a drink.
 Most of our garden is inside our fenced off pool area.  We just had grass last year, but no one went up into the grass, so it was just unused space.  It is tiered, too, so perfect for gardening.  Yesterday while the littles were splashing in the pool, I went over and picked weeds and tidied up the garden.  I think it will be handy to have a built in distraction for the kids while I work in the garden!
I decided against putting my herbs into the garden.  I just love the convenience of walking out the kitchen door and having the herbs handy to snip off for whatever I have cooking.  Last night we used the cilantro for the first time!  I planted cilantro and parsley from seed, and I'm surprised at how well they are growing.  I think I'll try more herbs from seed next summer.
Besides the cilantro and parsley, I planted 4 varieties of basil (it's my favorite), rosemary, and oregano.  My sage and thyme came back from last year, along with a rogue fennel.  I don't really like fennel, so I may be just pulling it out from where it came up in one of the basil boxes.
So yes.  I DO have parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.  I'm already enjoying these gardens so much, and we haven't actually harvested anything besides herbs yet!  I'm going on a couple long trips this summer, so I have to enjoy the gardens while I can.  I will probably miss out on most of the lettuce, but I've instructed friends and neighbors to come help themselves to veggies and a dip in the pool while we're gone.  So hopefully nothing will go to waste!

Do you have a garden?

Friday, June 7, 2013

warm roasted asparagus salad + lemon vinaigrette

 We eat a lot of salads in the summer.  They are easy, and don't require much work, outside of chopping.  And they won't weigh you down as the temperature rises!  It's actually been a really cool summer here so far (sorry, pool) so I thought a warm salad would hit the spot.  Asparagus is right in season now, and we've been eating it once or twice a week lately.  We love it!  Except Rowan.  She tastes it every time, and says "I'm not a big fan of asparagus."  Which is what I've taught my children to say instead of "this is yucky."  If you ARE a big fan of asparagus, this salad is really yummy, not yucky.

for roasted asparagus
3/4 lb to 1 lb asparagus
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 large lemon, juiced
1/4 cup parmesan, grated

for vinaigrette
1 T white wine vinegar
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t dijon mustard
1/2 large lemon, juiced
1 T olive oil
2 dashes of dill weed

grated parmesan
sliced almonds

5-7 cups salad greens
serves 4-6

First wash and trim your asparagus.  Preheat oven to 400.  Spread asparagus onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and grated parmesan.
Roast asparagus for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring halfway.  You want the asparagus to still be firm but tender.  No limp, soggy asparagus here!  If you eat yours squishy and soggy, it's time for an intervention.  This is how I like my asparagus best, and if you just want an asparagus side dish, you could just stop here.

While the asparagus is roasting, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients.  Rowan did the whisking while I took pictures.  I finally have a cooking assistant!  She's cheap, but messy.
When the asparagus is finished, cut into inch long sections, leaving a few long stems to top the salad.  In a large bowl, toss the asparagus and greens (I used arugula and baby spinach- so good) and vinaigrette together.  Lay the long stems on top and sprinkle the salad with parmesan and almond slices.
The littles hovered nearby while I took the pictures, and the minute I set my camera down, all bets were off.  Although Rowan isn't a "big fan" of asparagus, she ate up the greens, almonds, and cheese.  And Fletcher helped her out with her asparagus.  Win-win!
Here is the aftermath.
We like our salad around here!  And this one is a winner.  The warm asparagus really brought out the bright flavor of the vinaigrette.  Enjoy!