Saturday, July 30, 2011

"housekeeping" and caponata

several times recently i have been asked how i get it all done.  to which i respond, if you think i do then you aren't looking hard enough!  but there is something i came up with quite a while ago (like years) that i have really started to finally use and it has given me some amount of freedom and the couple of friends i have shared with really liked it so i thought i'd share it with you all as well and you can take it, leave it or laugh..any are acceptable!  

i am a creative nut with some major type a tendencies! i can't function in clutter; i just can't. even though i took the time to set this up to make life easier i have to confess i find myself not following along more than i do but i am working on it. i thought when hadley was born that it would just be so easy to get everything done and keep everything clean because "i would be home all the time"!  well i was major wrong! so in order to break it down and make it easier for me i came up with this...

a calendar of housekeeping!  i looked at the chores that needed to be kept up with and how often i, personally, thought they needed to be done in my house and here you have it.  like i mentioned, i am not religious about following it but am getting much better.  even when i get behind, which i currently am, it is mentally good for me because i know if i follow along, at the end of the week everything will be done!  i don't have to stress looking for a 3-4 hour stretch to get the house clean!  i just have to take my day's task and it will all fall into place.  i truly can't tell you how helpful this is to me!  i also took the "spring cleaning" type chores and added them to the bottom...that way i don't have to waste a day or two each year making sure they get done!  seriously, so helpful and look...i even have a "vacation" each december! 

eggplant caponata and herbed grits
i just looked up the exact definition of caponata; i have made this a few times this summer but still had no idea the actual meaning!  according to the nytimes it is a sweet and sour version of ratatouille and they say it is a good topping for bruschettta which i am sure jay and i both agree with and will be trying next time we need something for a party!  but for our purposes and dinner, i have paired it with herbed grits (original recipe calls for polenta but let's be honest, i live in alabama and i have grits on hand!). sorry there are no pictures...i covered that i can not take appetizing photos of food so until i get a handle on that y'all will have to use your imagination. 

eggplant caponata
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T jarred chopped garlic (or about 2 cloves fresh)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 small can chopped black olives
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 medium firm eggplant, diced
28 oz can diced tomatoes
14 oz can crushed tomatoes
Preheat a large, deep pot over medium heat.  Add oil and garlic.  After the oil and garlic have heated, add vegetables and stir well to coat with oil.  Then add raisins.  Salt your egglplant and add to the pot and stir well.  Increase the heat a bit and add tomatoes and stir well to combine.  Cover pot and cook 15-20 minutes (until vegetables are tender).  Keep an eye on things and if it is showing signs of sticking to the pot, decrease heat back to medium. 
herbed grits
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup quick cook grits
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup grated "italian blend" cheese
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
Bring chicken stock to a boil.  Add grits and stir well to combine.  Grits should cook up in 5-7 minutes, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Add butter, herbs, salt, pepper and cheese, stirring until cheese and butter are melted and combined. 
Serve caponata atop grits and enjoy!  I would serve along with a french bread and maybe a salad.  So fresh and yummy!  It literally makes a ton; you will have leftovers!  So...dinner for night number 2...
caponata and chicken pasta bake
1 1/2 qts of prepared caponata
4 chicken breasts or about 3 cups shredded chicken*
1/2 lb of pasta of choice (bowtie, rotini, orzo, etc)
1/2 cup grated cheese (i use an italian blend)
1/2 cup grated parmesean
*1T olive oil and 1T butter if cooking the chicken yourself

Reheat caponata in microwave or on stove top.  I salt and pepper 4 chicken breasts and cook them in 1T melted butter and 1T olive oil on medium to medium high heat for about 5-6 minutes per side.  After cooking, I shred and or chop to add to the caponat and pasta. Cook pasta, drain and return to pot.  Toss with 1/2 cup parmesean, add caponata and stir to combine.  Transfer pasta and vegetables to 9x13 baking dish.  Top with shredded italian cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes (just until cheese is melted).  *Can also add 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes if desired.

*optional 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes added when you add garlic and 2oz capers added with the raisins but i didn't use the red pepper flakes the first time because of the girls and didn't think it lacking and i don't care for capers so i left those out as well.  
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

i call her shaggy

oh audrey, that hair is pitiful!  shame on your mother for letting you walk around looking like a rag a muffin.
at 21 months it was finally time for...the first haircut!

during with hadley's new snow white doll waiting on mrs. kristy to bring a sucker (we were hoping she would sit still if she had a treat and sure enough it worked!  thank goodness because she was wiggling all over the place and i had to hold her; she was not sitting in that chair alone!)

during (see hand to mouth with blessed sucker!?!)

after but still with sucker!  it is not a major haircut but she can now see without hair in her precious eyes and we cut off the beginnings of a mullet in the back. 

so i don't have to call her shaggy any more; i can just call her augie catie like her big sister does.

happy thursday!  i have several sewing posts in the works and i am just dying to share them with keep watch! 
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

swim lessons...

i started to punctuate the title with an exclamation point but i realized it might give the wrong idea.  now, i am excited about swim lessons and hadley is as a point.  why does a rather unpleasant phase of hers have to coincide with learning to swim!?!  poor coaches and poor mommy.  we are making it through lessons and life in general but say a few prayers...this phase is wearing on me. 

a few pictures of hadley with miss haleigh last week i managed to snap with the ol' iPhone

unfortunately, miss haleigh had to go back to florida this past weekend!  so we started this week with mr michael and he will finish our our lessons (i guess actually that is coach michael but that didn't occur to me until after we started the mr business).  last week hadley did a little whining for haleigh but she has thrown outright fits for michael the past couple of days.  more specifically this "phase" consists of her crying, screaming and even kicking when she is asked to do something she is not interested in doing no matter how fun she may have thought it was 5 minutes ago.  like i said, how lovely that a phase about getting her way can go hand in hand with swim lessons!

hope you are enjoying some summer fun in this crazy heat we have!

*i had to come back and add that days 3 and 4 with michael were MUCH better than 1 and 2.  hadley is learning so much, i am thrilled and i am sure michael likes this version of my munchkin way better!  we have 1 day left and we are done with summer number 1 of swim lessons.....  oh the joy...i get to start again next summer with audrey!  i'll start praying now.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

there is too much stuff in here

the "here" i are referring to here is my brain!  did i not just post last week how my brain was remarkably clear...i think so but i don't dare look back and clog my brain further!  so in an effort to purge some things, a little video for your enjoyment!  it is a tiny bit long so only grand parents will probably sit through the entire video but i couldn't resist...jay said we needed one when she didn't know we are filming and she isn't so subdued but how often do i get to film her singing in the car?  not often since i am most often the driver...somehow that seems even more frowned upon than texting and driving so i have refrained.

this is hadley singing "what you call love" from guster's last release, easy wonderful.
she wanted us to start the song over so she could sing so i had to catch it on film; oh thank you iPhone! (though do you seriously only work with quick time!?!  this video is 3 minutes long and i can't compress or really edit down to give you the whole picture but trust me grand parents, we have the entire 3 minutes and you can see it soon!  we don't have quick time on our computer and i find editing on the iPhone to be a pain...) 

you could say it is a bit selfish that until a few months ago the only music played in my car was "my music" but they don't complain.  when hadley was little, there was a time that feist calmed her in the car and she calls dave matthews' big whiskey and the groogrux king album "her song" to this day!  and just last week when guster came on the radio, audrey started kicking her feet, smiling and saying "gus her, gus her"!  i think they are perfectly content.
ahhh...guster.  quite possibly my favorite band of all time.  i had not seen this band since 1998 or 1999 at city stages with erin and then jay and i saw them in gulf shores at the hangout fest in may 2010 and then this february at the tabernacle in atlanta and once again in april at the house of blues in new orleans...i was feeling a bit over the top and quite the groupie until the lady next to us in new orleans had seen them a ridiculous number of times; like i can't even remember how many;  so i felt a bit better. 

at the tabernacle in february
i wanted to sit in actual seats like the old lady i am but i kind of regretted it so in new orleans we were right in front like a teenager! 

oh and to explain the post title a bit better, back in the spring the following was a nightly occurance for a while....hadley insisted on a bed full of "friends" to sleep with her but then she would call out 30 or so minutes after we shut the door announcing "there is too much stuff in here"!  well of course there is!  i tried to tell her that 30 minutes ago but she looked at me like i am from mars!  which maybe you all are starting to think the same...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

purple people eater

hi all! often when i am not blogging, my mind races with things that simply "need a portal to the outside world"! poor thoughts...stuck in this crazy mind of mine! i am sure they dream of living in a simpler place. but lately, this has so not been the case. we have been busy and with our trip to birmingham and my trip to nyc, i just haven't had the "oh the blog is falling behind" thoughts. which is odd to me given we have been busy so you would think my mind was racing with things to share but i guess i got lots off my mind while in nyc...erin and i never lack for things to say and i was there for like 4 days so i guess my mind was a clean slate when i got back!

i have been hard at work on audrey's first year book. have i ever mentioned my love for blurb?!? i used blurb to make hadley's first year book...120 pages of memories, i was able to set up just perfectly! i don't have the desire to scrapbook and i was spending what would have amounted to a small fortune printing 4x6 pictures that i was going to have to do something with. so i started looking into a coffee table type book that i could fill with those first 12 months of preciousness. part of the beauty of blurb, for me, was the ability to have 1 page with an 8x10 and the next with 9 wallet size was all up to me and required no printing of pictures, no cutting or gluing them into a scrapbook and no sliding them into an album that i prayed would not damage them over time or allow them to fall out.

you can use blurb's layouts or create your can be pictures, words or a combination of both! truly heaven...and way more affordable (with my money and time!) than printing the pictures and creating scrapbooks or albums! so i suppose i have been quietly reflecting my precious girl's first year (as year 2 nears a close in just 3 short months!).

there isn't much quiet surrounding all that is audrey these days! she is talking, and even singing, up a storm! but with all this new activity my once uber easy sleeper has taken a turn for the unreasonable and is screaming when you try to put her to bed either for some separation issue (maybe i have left her too much lately) or for fear we are all having a party "after dark" without her! with all this rapid development comes new words and realizations...

so, finally i get to the reason for the title of my post...audrey's first color was finally spoken earlier this week!  i know, i know, i have a nearly 21 month old who just said a color...she is a crazy busy little bee and has some typical second child tendencies so i am cool with it.  but anyway, she wanted her juice cup and looked at her cup and then me and said "audrey purple cup"!  now of course it wasn't quite as clear as if i had said it but it had that precious little toddler voice!  i wonder what color other children identify by name first?  hadley and audrey were both purple, which to me seems on down the line but what do i know...i have no degree on the subject!  nice to have a sister in law who does day she will tire of my questions but too bad because she is stuck with me!  but i digress, audrey has brought jay gray shoes and my pink shoes when asked but never named a color. i guess she is learning all of the shapes she refuses to talk to me about too. hard to remember how smart they are and how much they absorb when their vocabulary is limited!

hope y'all are having a marvelous week!  i am on the road again this other sweet sister in law (my brother's wife) is having a baby next month and we are having a "sprinkle" for her in birmingham on saturday so i have a road trip all to myself!   

Saturday, July 2, 2011

on a boat & a momma's love

one of the joys of summer, in my humble opinion, is spending time on the water!  my grandparents had a place at the lake when i was growing up we spent most weekends there.  i cherish those memories and hope to make new ones with the girls in the years to come at a place of our own but for now, we'll take some time on the ol' boston whaler.  we took the boat out this morning for the first time since our ono trip last summer...pitiful i know!  this was audrey's first time on the boat and she survived but i am not sure she is in love.

last night while we were in academy, some "pretty" fishing rods caught hadley's eye.  she really wanted one but i reminded her she has one at home that pops and grammy gave her a while back...that was good enough for her so she proceeded to tell me how she was going to catch some fish when we took the boat out!  i mean telling me how she was going to reach down and pick them up out of the water; she is truly a sponge and misses nothing because apparently she and pops have had some play time in his boat in the basement.  she held that rod the entire ride to put the boat in and was telling jay and i exactly how she was going to do it.  of course the only thing hadley caught this morning was the pink plastic crown that came with the package but she was THRILLED to toss it and reel it back in...we may have a jr angler on our hands! 

and last night after we left academy we stopped by momma g's for dinner.  does everyone take pictures of their children eating certain foods for the first time?  if not, i don't think we are totally strange...instead i think it stems from hadley's milk allergy.  she went without for so long that we took pictures of her first grilled cheese, milo's, ice cream sandwich, snickers, etc, etc, etc... so last night the girls split a momma's love and of course we took their picture.  sure they have had momma g's before but never a momma's love; i swear these girls eat better from the adult menu than the kids menu...

 do you think one day they will be mad at me for putting pictures online of them eating!?!
have a happy independence day holiday weekend! 
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Friday, July 1, 2011

some mental house cleaning

happy friday!  there are so many blog worthy topics flying around in my brain i just have to get them out...or at least as many as i have time for, so sit tight!  i try to keep you all from having to deal with my stream of consciousness way of thinking/writing/talking but today i am just going to have to expose you.  in high school, my dearest friend and i totally communicated this way...we rarely finished a discussion because one of us would inevitably think of something else and we just floated along this way.  we had one friend in particular could not bare it and would force us to wrap up one subject before beginning another...i am sure most people work this way but i am too scattered... 

on that note, i am flying to nyc next week to visit said dearest friend, erin.  i mentioned erin a while back or should i say i mentioned her sweet little man silas...  i haven't seen erin since christmas and i have not met silas so i am beyond excited!  as excited as i am about the trip (all by husband and no children.  it goes without saying i will miss all 3 terribly!  i don't think i have ever flown solo before!) i am even more excited they are moving south in august!  they were in nyc these past however many years while john was working on his phd but he is finished.  hip, hip, hooray!  the 5 hour drive between us will be the closest we have lived in over 10 is way overdue and i am thrilled the good Lord didn't take them to a land far, far away. 

speaking of good friends, last weekend we were at ono island with dear, old friends from auburn.  we get together every summer and it is such a blessing to have this time with them; these are the sort of friends you can not begin to put into words what they mean to know, the really dear ones.  our time together centers on catching up and good food!  friday morning, part of the crew went snapper fishing and that was truly the most divine fish ever to grace my mouth!  on saturday night we had some extra company i had the yummy pleasure of having darby's corn accept that link as my recipe for the week (slacker, i know!).  but seriously it was delish and so summery and you should all try it. 

saturday morning/afternoon as we were leaving tacky jacks after brunch, we noticed a nasty plume of smoke. jay suggested it was coming from the state park...we laughed him off but as you now know, he was most unfortunately right. i read around 1000 acres have been scorched. i believe the coast (mobile/baldwin counties) are just shy of 20 inches below normal for rain this year and i imagine that makes it even more impossible to contain something like this. this was a picture i snapped saturday evening of the smoke.

i don't know why darby and i thought it necessary to kneel in front of alex; i am barely taller than his shoulder. this was about 1am saturday/sunday (way past everyone but heath's bedtime) and until looking at this pic, i don't think i realized how many had slacked off and headed to bed...many of us were apparently too busy with our after dinner "soul train" party to notice!  funny what a group of 30somethings will do with an open floor and a couple of iPod's to dj the evening... i think the last time i did that much dancing was at a mardi gras ball but somehow it just fit our evening.

and i dare say in all my visits to the coast, this is the first time i have ever seen hermit crabs in their natural habitat!  we got out at robinson island after brunch and there were probably over 20 right around the boat!  crazy, right?  it is ok if y'all aren't in a state of was still cool to me!

so much more on the brain but lots to do this afternoon so i'd better get to it; nap time only lasts so long!  in the spirit of darby's "light and summery" corn salad, i will get my summer veggie and chicken orzo posted this weekend so y'all have some stuff to try while i am out of town next week.