Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pasta

I decided this summer that I wanted to try to make homemade pasta, and we have an experienced friend who was willing to come over and teach us. What a fascinating process! We mixed together semolina flour, eggs, water, and white wine, and kneaded the dough for a looong time. While the dough was resting, we made a ravioli filling that consisted of minced chicken and veggies (onion, carrot, celery) sauteed in olive oil, along with some ricotta, fresh Parmesan, a little wine and an egg yolk. We also made two homemade sauces, alfredo for Eric, and a mouthwatering marinara for the rest of us.

The kids got in on the action of passing the dough through the pasta machine to help make fettuccine noodles, and I tried my hand at assembling the ravioli.


It took 2 1/2 hours to make the pasta and sauces, and the end result was delectable! I'd made homemade bread earlier in the day, along with a salad, which were the perfect complements to our fresh entrees.
Not something I would take the time and effort for ordinarily, but that was the point: to try something new and make an extraordinary meal.

Have you ever made pasta?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kiddos

Wanted to share a few recent cute pix from around here:

Nathan accepted the challenge of putting together his first 100-piece puzzle.
Sleeping beauty
Natalie LOVES hugging Naomi and playing with her.

Playing in the leaves with a neighbor friend

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stuck

A couple of months ago my friend, Kelsey, wrote a post about her intense fear of dogs. Kelsey babysat regularly for us when she was in college a few years ago, and we knew to put Reggie downstairs when she came over, but I never realized the extent of her fear until reading her recent piece. At the end of her post, she asked others to share their own irrational fears, and I left the following comment:

"I feel similarly about flying. The crazy thing is that in my twenties I flew a ton. Three times to France, Hawaii, lots of trips to CO and other places to visit family.

It's now been 4 1/2 years since I was on a plane and I don't know when I will again. Obviously, as in your situation, I can't avoid flying forever. Especially since we have family on either coast. But I get the same kinds of panic you described when even thinking about being on an airplane. And like you, I've never had a really bad experience. But I AM claustrophobic, so that has a lot to do with it. I'm terrified, for example, of the teeny tiny plane bathrooms
."

Kelsey and I had a follow-up email exchange, and I told her I would blog sometime about my irrational--but very real--fear of flying, and more specifically of getting stuck in an airplane (or other small) bathroom. I just re-read what I'd written here, and I acknowledge that the whole thing probably sounds silly, but I ask you to at least respect my honesty and vulnerability, if nothing else.

I'm not really sure what else to add, though I suppose while I'm on the subject, I should also say that I really hate elevators. When we were in the hospital for so long last winter, and I was in a wheelchair to get around, I had to just deal with it. But once I was discharged and we were in and out all the time visiting Naomi in the NICU, I took the stairs whenever possible. Once again, it goes back to a fear of getting stuck in an enclosed space.

Just another little note: I remember reading on Posie Gets Cozy a few years ago that she turned down a speaking engagement in New Hampshire (She lives in Oregon) due to her fear of flying. I felt sad for her, but understood, and appreciated her willingness to admit her fear, especially since she has thousands of blog readers!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pinterested

I recently mentioned that I haven't made many of the things I've pinned, but today I wanted to share (in no particular order) the things I have tried that I found off of Pinterest:

I was inspired by this to make Olympic ring cupcakes, and I also printed off some of the Olympic surveys for an opening ceremony party we went to.

My first attempt at homemade liquid soap was too watery, so I tried again and also made a beautiful dispenser to put it in. (Thanks, Monica, for the zinc lid and tips!)

I'm part of a preschool co-op with Natalie, and I am in charge of teaching about the letter "H" this morning. We'll be doing this fun craft.

Back in June, I had the kids answer these questions to make a hilarious Father's Day gift for Eric. I hope to do this every year and collect the surveys to see how their responses change.

Last winter when we were certain of the baby's name, I made this personalized onesie following these instructions.
I thought these were great ideas for repurposing baby wipes containers. I stashed extra batteries in mine thanks to the inspiration.

I tried some carrot chips with our abundant garden supply. Yummy!

I made these bell pepper muffins, which we DID NOT think were yummy. =( Same with this homemade peanut butter. Great idea but not fans.

I baked these garbanzo bean brownies for Bean Night, omitting the chocolate chips. They were quite tasty.

One of the first recipes I pinned was this fabulous Valentine snack mix.

I ordered this birth announcement onesie sticker after Naomi was born--very cute but a little hard to read.

I read and loved this book. And I'm definitely anticipating Season Three of this!

I have 131 pins currently on my boards, and I've tried the16 things I've mentioned here. (Although I just realized that number is technically higher: my Read/Listen/Watch board is a little different because I've listened to some of that music--I just don't want to forget links to it so I can keep listening.) I'm glad I put this post together, actually, because I don't think I've ever gone back through all my boards and I was reminded of some great ideas that I still hope to try.  

Have you tried any of the things I've mentioned here?

And though I did not find the tip on Pinterest, I'm thrilled to report that yesterday I decided to check on the dozen tomatoes I'd wrapped in newspaper a couple weeks ago. Five of them had turned red! I am so thrilled that those tomatoes weren't wasted and that I can still enjoy them even in these 40-degree temps.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Final harvest

After hearing the warning of the first frost, Eric and the kids headed over to the community garden to harvest what they could and clean up our plot. They came home with a dozen red tomatoes, a dozen green ones (I'm going to try a trick I read of wrapping them in newspaper to ripen), almost 30 small green peppers, and a few butternut squash. We cut up and froze the peppers, and they will easily last us until next summer. (We've gotten tons of peppers this year!)
We also had a plentiful carrot supply this year, so it's been great having so many--and a couple have been HUGE as Natalie is showing above. I've made quite a few batches of purees for Naomi (apple, pear, peach, carrot, green bean, and squash), mostly using local ingredients! I love the method of freezing them in ice cube trays--such perfect portions, less wasteful, and considerably cheaper and healthier than store-bought. Carrots seem to be her favorite thus far--I thought I had a pic, but will share this funny one right after we started cereal last month.

We don't care much for squash, but I like to puree and freeze it as a substitute for pumpkin in baked goods. Muffins and breads turn out lighter in color, but they still taste delicious!


If you garden, are you still harvesting, or is the season over where you are, too?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Forty

My dear husband turned 40 on Tuesday, and I wanted to share a recap of all the festivities!

We kicked things off with our tradition of serving breakfast (apple puff pancake) in bed. Shortly after Eric got to work, he called to inform me that all of his coworkers had dressed in black for the occasion, and his office was filled with black balloons and confetti. Eric's brother, in cahoots with the other siblings, hung a huge poster outside of Eric's office window. Because Eric works in the most prominent building on our college campus, the news of Eric's birthday was highly visible! (Unfortunately, we had rain that morning, and it washed away the paint on the sign, so it was less effective than had been hoped. Funny!)
Eric wanted to bring Scotcheroos to the office, so I couldn't help but add a little embellishment to each one. I also rented a ten-foot-tall flag that said "Happy Birthday" for our yard. I'd intended to get a picture, but the day flew by.
We had Chinese takeout for supper, and then I sent Eric and the kids on a little scavenger hunt around the house to find Eric's gift. They had fun searching and then Eric opened a Shutterfly book I'd made for him. I had contacted 40 friends and family members and asked them to send a photo and note about memories and things they love about Eric, and then I compiled it all in a book. I love how it came together, and Eric was very touched and pleased. He had a few other things to open, including a fun 40-themed gift from my parents, full of random packages of 40 things (envelopes, cough drops, etc.) Cute idea, and the kids thought it was hilarious because there was a 40-count package of wipes!

Lest you think the day was over, the biggest activity was yet to come. I knew Eric wouldn't want a party (surprise or otherwise), so I invited his brother and two close friends to come over here after the kids were in bed. My thought was that they'd hang out and play games, but Eric said he'd rather go out. Many jokes were made about the possible destination, but when Eric shared what he wanted to do, I was stunned. Eric said he'd been thinking about the past year, and how our hospital journey was such a huge piece of that. We stayed in two different Ronald McDonald Houses during those 40 days, and Eric had the idea to go to the one that's 75 miles away and bake a cake for the residents there to celebrate his birthday. I burst into tears. Who thinks of something like that?! My husband. I was as blown away that he had the idea as I was that 4 men drove 150 miles round-trip and made dessert for other people. Late at night, I might add. Isn't that so cool? It's a testimony to Eric and to his brother and great friends that they would do something so thoughtful.

It was a happy 40th birthday, indeed.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Colorado or bust!




I was off-line last week because I was in Colorado! Having been almost 2 years since I'd been out there, it was high time to be at my parents' house and see the breathtaking mountains. Eric and Nathan stayed in Iowa, and the girls hit the road! We only had 4 days to be in CO, but we made the most of it.What a lovely time of year to be there. The weather was perfect, and the aspens were beautifully golden.

Here are some highlights of our trip:

A fun outing to the zoo, complete with a pony ride and feeding the giraffes!

Going to church together
I enjoyed seeing a few friends from high school. (My pal Olivia wanted to pose with all the little ones!)

It was so great to be in COLORado!