Tuesday, April 26, 2011

daddy's hands of love...

Marc and I (Amy) have been on the lookout for a wooden swingset for a couple of years now. And when Marc saw this particular one at Sams Club, honestly my first reaction was this looks more like a HOTEL than a swingset! Is that what my kid really needs? But alas, when I saw the Amy,-I-really-want-to-build-this-for-my-daughter look in hubby's eye and then both Pop & Mamie AND Nanny & Papa decided to pitch in towards the cost, how could I resist?! Plus, it was less money than most of the simple wooden swingsets we'd been looking at anyways.

But just like ALL home rennovations, what started out as a fun Spring Break project unfortunately turned into a month-long project... (finding time outside to work on it was tough between the cold weather and our family's responsibilities)

At the end of each day that we were able to find time to work on it, I snapped a picture & thought you might appreciate seeing Daddy's "hands of love"... (we love you, Daddy! Way to go!) You'll also see how we went from winter into spring as well! :)

Day 1. Construction begins & Daddy's excited.

Day 2. Pop & Mamie were here to look on.

Day 3. Pop got roped into doing some work. :)

Day 4. Lookin' good, Daddy!

Day 5. We have a roof!

Day, um, "6".

Day "7" was amazing because now I could do this:

Day "8." We're almost there!

Day "9". Complete! Great job, Dad! And a big thank you to Pop & Mamie and Nanny & Papa!

Now let the years of fun begin...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

sleeping beauty...

Some days, don't we all need a break? :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

little hands of love...

Dear Daddy,

Mommy's not the only one who has "hands of love" around this house!

Today I put these little hands of love to work for YOU! I took my very own preschooler's cookbook and followed the pictures to make you some "hide and seek" muffins! I had so much fun stirring up the batter...

and I LOVED pouring it into the paper cups all by myself. I did a pretty good job, too!

Then I took a strawberry, rolled it in sugar, and placed one inside each muffin cup.

That's why they call them "hide and seek" muffins- the strawberry hides inside once you bake them!

Then Mommy put them in the oven. Oh, hurry up!

And our final product! See? NO strawberry!

Now I'm sure these muffins would've been GREAT had we not tried to substitute gluten-free flour for regular flour so Daddy could actually eat them... oh well! (you better believe I devoured my own cooking) So what if they didn't taste great with the GF flour!? Oh well! You win some and you lose some.

But it's the hands of love that count.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

hands of love #18...

Well, thanks to you, our sweet blog readers, after our last "hands of love" entry, we felt the love! It was so encouraging to hear from some of you who tried out & loved the recipes! woohoo! I know I'm NOWHERE near calling myself a "cook," but through our experiences last year, I've learned a few things about nutrition that have carried on even long after all of our "nutritional therapy" is over. (besides keeping hubby gluten free)

So your feedback helps me know there's at least a few of you out there that have been helped by these entries, and that gives me motivation to keep 'em coming!...

SO, made for my sweet family this week with hands of love... time to pick which one YOU'RE going to try.

First, a DELICIOUS gluten free taco salad. Instead of using a pre-packaged mexican seasoning on the beef with lots of extra preservatives, we used this easy recipe to make a homemade one. (it lasted for several meals, so just make it once & keep in a airtight container. Check it out. You know, I bet you already have the ingredients in your cabinet.) Just brown your beef, drain it, then throw a decent amount of this seasoning into the skillet. (to taste)

Then I layered:
Green lettuce
Organic blue corn tortilla chips (which are naturally gluten free and yummm)
Beef with the homemade mexican seasoning
mexican cheese
diced tomato
black beans
sour cream
fresh cilantro!!! (that's the key!! Come on-- it's only 69 cents at the grocery store for a whole bundle of it, so there's no excuse.)

Next, here's a way to make TWO meals in one and pack in the taste and nutrition. DO. THESE. THINGS. (I promise making this chicken & rice will become a regular in your house.)

1. Make this roasted chicken. (Don't be scared- you can do it! Easy as pie. One chicken will feed a small family like ours two meals, so you may want to do 2 chickens at once.) Serve with brown rice (see below) and a fresh, steamed veggie. Peel off the remainder of the pieces of chicken & put in a storage bag in the fridge. THEN,

2. Save all the bones from your chicken to make this extremely nutritious homemade chicken broth in the crockpot: (don't be put off that it looks a little gross)

In a crockpot, place the bones, fat, or any meat remaining on the bone.
Fill pot with water, enough to cover the bones and then some almost to the top.
Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (Braggs "with the mother" is the best kind if you can find it in your health food section of the grocery store or at a health food store.)
1 Tablespoons of sea salt.
Quarter an onion or two and throw in as well.
Toss in about 4-5 cloves of garlic and some celery heads or stalks, a few carrot tops or any veggie scraps available. (that's why it doesn't look all that pretty, but that's okay- you'll strain it out when it's done)
Cover the crock pot and cook on low about 6-8 hours.
Strain the liquid with a colander and put in freezer containers when cool.

One crockpot made about 5 quart-sized bags of broth to freeze! This broth can be used in soups, in other recipes, or you can heat it up and drink it warm when you feel sickness coming on.

3. So when you make rice, (brown rice is the best-- just regular rice, not instant) cook it with the homemade chicken broth from the freezer INSTEAD of water. Trust me! It tastes WAY better, is a TON more nutritious, and I think it even looks better. :) Always make double the amount of rice for another meal in the week...

In this case:

4. Chicken fried rice, using leftover rice and chicken. This was amazing! Make. it.

Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a large skillet (or wok). Add 2 cloves of garlic (minced) and two eggs (lightly beaten) and stir constantly until eggs are cooked. Add 4 cups of rice, your leftover chicken (cut up in pieces) 1 tomato (diced), some shredded carrots, some soy sauce to taste (a gluten free one for us!), 1 tsp. of sugar, and 1/2 tsp. of ground black pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 2-4 minutes to heat through. Sprinkle with green onions to serve. (or you can just cook them in the mixture like I did)

And last but not least-- looking for a super easy, yummy, comforting (and vegetarian) crockpot meal? Here's one that a friend of ours put together: Spinach penne rigate. Here's her recipe. Sooo easy. (We used gluten free penne noodles for our version, of course!)

Do YOU have any delicious, simple, & nutritious recipes for US to try? Send 'em our way.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

hospitality, caroline style...

My little friend, baby Maggie (or as I like to call her-- "Maggie Moo," or "sweet pumpkin," or most often "Mag") came over to our house today. We were happy to let her Mommy get some much needed rest, and we got some company! Mommy asked me to be her big helper and find things that would keep Maggie (8 months old) happy.

So naturally, being the hospitable 3 year old that I am, I thought it'd be great to serenede my guest with a little piano sonata... (as you can see, Maggie was enjoying the flashing light of Mommy's camera a little more than the music...)

But when we put the piano in front of this gal, she LOVED it!... (Maggie girl, I think you've got a potential future career here, just like YOUR mama!)

...until she'd had enough and started rolling around on the floor. At which point, I thought it'd be helpful to read her a book aloud. As you can see, she was beyond captivated. :)

So after Maggie woke up from her nap, I loved playing "rings" with her. I had her cracking up just by jumping up and down on the floor!

Baby Maggie, we aim to please over here...

...and I'd say it worked!