Monday, August 31, 2009

Pics of our Portland/Seattle trip

Also know as the trip we canceled to afford our new hardwood floors before the baby's arrival!

We put them in the dining room

Living Room

Hallway and Playroom

Excuse the mess, still in the process of getting all the furniture moved back, cleaning and getting unpacked from our trip (Little C and I left town for the week while the work was being done).

Of course the money we saved for our Seattle/Portland trip didn't exactly cover the entire cost of the new floors. I wrote the check for the second half of the total on my birthday, and I would say it was the single best birthday present I could have gotten - thank you Mr. C!

With all this hard surface being installed, I've been on a mad rug hunt for the last month.

The faux bois rug pictured here was initially purchased for the dining room....

I hated it in the dining room. I felt like I it didn't fit the dining room decor at all and I am leaning towards this rug instead.

Since I don't hate the rug, I am debating putting it in the living room (keep in mind the rug is just rolled out here, and not in the right spot, plus the couch is only will be replaced with something less red in the near future).

My goal would be to downplay the zebra-like patter of the faux bois with a lot of neutrals, some gray blue and green accents and some ornate/French-inspired accessories for something that ultimately looks/feels a little like this when I'm all done.

What are your thoughts??? You can vote anonymously up in the top right corner or if you're brave just leave a comment and let me know what you think! :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This week's menu

So no menu posted last week, I know, but we had a lot of left overs from the weekend prior that held us over for the first part of the week and the latter part of the one starved and some weeks that's all that counts, right?

Ok, this week's menu....

Baked Chicken Nuggets and 1 Pot Mac n Cheese

Baked Chicken Nuggets
Five starts - delicious and nutritious and SUPER kid friendly!!! Definitely will make again and again and again. If you don't have wheat germ, you can use all bread crumbs, but wheat germ is a staple at our house. It's great in smoothies and you can add it to pancake mix for a tasteless nutritional boost!
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 pinch ground red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs vegetable or canola oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 13x9" baking dish w/ non-stick cooking spray (for the record it took me TWO baking dishes to spread out all the chicken pieces). Trim any fat from chicken and cut into 1 inch cubes. In a bowl beat eggs w/ water. Add the chicken and toss to coat. In another bowl combine the bread crumbs, wheat germs, herbs and spices. Stir in the oil with a fork and mix well. Pour seasoning mixture into a re-sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken pieces, seal and shake well to coat (tip: seal all but a corner of the bag and blow some air into the bag to inflate then finish completely sealing. With bag completely sealed and puffed, shake vigorously...the added air gives the meat room to move away from the sides of the bag making for more even coating). Spread the chicken pieces out in the prepared baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Turn pieces and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

1 Pot Mac n Cheese
Time consuming and comes out kind of mushy, but was a HUGE hit with the munchkin. Plus I love the freedom of being able to use his organic milk w/ DHA and whole grain pasta.
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbs all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • additional salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a med saucepan over med-low heat. Add chopped onion sand cook stirring until tender but not brown (approx 5-7 minutes). Stir in the flour and salt and stir. Then pour in the milk and the macaroni all at once. Increase the heat to med and bring mixture to a boil stirring often to keep macaroni from clumping together and sticking to the bottom (takes a while 15-20 minutes). When the milk reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until noddles are tender. Remove pan from heat and add cheese stirring until it melts smoothly into sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Eggplant Parmesan
Maybe not the healthiest dish ever, but very tasty, and so quick and easy...I love dishes where all the ingredients live in our pantry and/or freezer!
  • Pkg whole wheat pasta
  • 1 lb box of frozen eggplant slices (breaded Italian style)
  • 1 Jar of Spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese, shredded mozzarella or 4 slices of provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to pkg directions. While pasta is cooking, put the frozen eggplant into a baking dish. Cover with spaghetti sauce and bake for 10 minutes. Top with cheese and bake for another 10-15 minutes until eggplant is cooked and cheese is completely melted. Serve over pasta. We ate this with a salad.

Mustard Crusted Salmon
This recipe was alright. Nothing special. I doubt I'll do it again, I much prefer this salmon recipe or for broiling fish, this tilapia recipe. Little C wanted nothing to do with this entree and since I've learned from experience not to push him when he's throwing $8/lb meat on the floor, we just gave him some left over 1 pot mac n cheese mixed with tuna and peas. He loved it.
  • 4 4-6oz salmon fillets
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Season salmon w/ salt and pepper. Spread mustard evenly over tops of fillets. Sprinkle breadcrumbs generously over fillets (approx 2 tbs/fillet) and pat to stick. Bake approx 7 min or until fish just begins to flake. Turn on broiler (low) and broil about 6 inches from source to toast crumbs. We had this with steamed broccoli.

C.Y.O. Stir Fry
C.Y.O. stands for 'create your own'. LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe because it is super versatile (perfect for picky eaters and/or cleaning out the produce drawer in your frige!), but requires some serious prep work. You have to pretty much have everything ready to go because once you start, it all goes really fast. Also, and I can not stress this enough, use a REALLY big pan or you'll run out of room by the end.
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil, divided
  • 3/4 - 1 lb protein possibilities (choose one or more)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
  • 4 cups vegetable possibilities (choose at least three)
  • 1/4 cup chicken, beef or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup extra bonus ingredient (choose one), optional
Protein possibilities:
  • Boneless, skinless chicken, cut into strips
  • Boneless beef stir-fry strips (flank steak, sirloin, top round)
  • Boneless pork, cut into strips
  • Raw peeled shrimp
  • Firm tofu, cut into cubes
Vegetable possibilities
  • Green or red peppers, cut into strips
  • Carrots, thinly sliced
  • Broccoli, broken into florets (stems sliced)
  • Zucchini, sliced
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Cabbage (regular or Chinese), sliced
  • Bean sprouts, rinsed
  • Celery, sliced
  • Snow peas, cut in half
Extra bonus ingredients (optional):
  • Peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • Cashews, whole
  • Sesame seeds, toasted (don't use more than 1 tbsp.)
  • Crispy Chinese noodles
In large skillet or wok, heat 1 tbs of the vegetable oil over high heat. Add your protein choice and stir-fry for 3 or 4 minutes until just cooked through. The amount of time will depend a little on what you're cooking. Remove to a clean bowl.
Add remaining 1 tbs oil to the pan. Throw in onion, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for about 1 min. Add the vegetable possibilities to the pan, beginning with the ones that take the longest to cook (carrots, broccoli stems, etc.) and ending with the ones that cook most quickly (bean sprouts, snow peas). Cook, stirring and tossing for about 2 minutes, then pour in the broth, cover the pan with a lid and let everything steam for 1 or 2 minutes. CAUTION: do not over cook veggies, skip the steaming step if you are using tender veggies such as zuccini, sprouts, etc or your'll end up with a soggy mess by the end!!
In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce and cornstarch.
When the vegetables are crisp tender, return the meat (or whatever) to the pan, along with the soy sauce mixture and your bonus ingredients (if using) and continue to stir-fry for 1 or 2 minutes or until the sauce is glossy. Serve with rice or noodles.

Note: if you are not dealing with kiddos and want to give this recipe a nice kick of flavor, use 4 tbs of a spicy bottled stirfry sauce instead of the soy sauce/corn starch mixture.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Vision

Like my new blog background?? I just had to change it because this one goes so well with the new nursery decor! :) Which means I did it! I finally ordered baby bedding for the nursery. I'll be honest, this decorating process has made me want to know the gender so badly! In fact, part of the reason I finally pulled the trigger was to avoid temptation at our anatomy ultrasound on Sept 9th. I just knew if the decor was still in limbo, I'd break down and get the tech to tell me.

I'm determined to let the gender of this baby be a surprise, but I'm not one of these laid back moms that can just put off decorating until after the birth and the 'gender neutral' decorating concept drives me crazy...I just am not a fan of any of the gender neutral bedding options/color schemes out there, especially for a boy. Yes, there are plenty of bedding sets that will work just fine, but only for the first year or two (tops) of the boy's life. After that, I find all the pastel greens and yellows start to look really feminine.

So what to do about the baby's room?? Well, after a lot of though, I finally decided to just say 'screw it'. If it's a boy, we'll just be faced with overhauling his room in a year or two when he transitions out of the crib and into a big boy bed/room. Plus, I REALLY think it's a girl!!

Ok, so the vision! Here's the bedding (from

Depending on your computer screen, the picture can be a tad deceiving...the fabric is actually more or a teal green than a blue. If it's a girl I'm going to reverse the ties on the bumper so the circles show on the outside and the plaid is on the inside.

For paint, I LOVE the bold teal paint color of the room shown above, but I'm too chicken to go that bright...I'm thinking a more muted gray-blue/green. I'm currently digging Sherwin Williams' Silvermist (SW7621). I couldn't snag the swatch from the website (damn adobe) but here are a few pics people shared of their silvermist rooms on

Don't know if you can tell from these pics, but depending on the light it really shifts from looking gray-blue to gray-green. I love it! I'd also like to add some white crown molding. (bet that's news to Mr. C! :)

As for the crib, we SCORED thanks to my wonderful sister and brother-in-law that loaned us their white crib! (For those of you that are following along that's TWO free cribs we've managed to snag...yay for wonderful relatives!!). It's not as straight forward as the crib in the room pic up top, it's more of a sleigh style, so it will definitely add a feminine touch to the bedding. This is not actually it, like I said it's white, but just to give a visual aid :)
We will not be doing a dresser because we need to put a twin bed in the room for visiting Grammies to have a place to sleep when they (hopefully!) come to periodically rescue me during the first few transitional months with a newborn. And, until we can afford our new seabury sleeper sofa from Pottery Barn, or guest bedding options have been overtaken by this new arrival.

Not too worried about the co-habitating of Grammies and baby since #1. the kid will be sleeping in a bassinet in our room until they are 3 or 4 months old so Grammy will have the room all to herself, and #2. it's only temporary until the bed moves to Little C when he outgrows his crib (at which point we will invest in a dresser for this kiddo) (and then hopefully have our sleeper sofa for any out of town guest.

So, until then the new baby will just have to do without a proper dresser and their onesies will have to live in these canvas hanging closet drawers from PBK

Since PBK has discontinued this product, we are lucky to already have a set that we received for Little C, and he has graciously agreed to loan his baby brother/sister the hanging shelves until he/she can get a dresser of their very own. Anything that doesn't go in these can go in the baskets we keep in the changing table (that we chose to keep in the playroom for easy access).

As strange as not having a dresser sounds, I'm not worried about it at all. The whole closet/changing table basket storage system worked quite well for Little C's clothes. We have a dresser for Little C, but we haven't used it much because I like to keep his clothes where we dress him (the changing table) and as a result his dresser currently only contains bedding. That will soon change as we will now need to put it to use in order to clear out space for the new kid.

Because the twin bed means we won't have room to put a rocker in the nursery (our fancy glider/rocker lives in the living room which works better for us than keeping it in a bedroom or nursery anyway), I'm going to invest in this Ikea storage ottoman that will also act as place to sit in the room .

The ottoman comes with the white cover, but if it's a boy, I might spring for this gray cover:
And for even MORE storage (because you can never have too much, right??), we'll be using two of these under-bed storage units to tuck under the crib and twin bed (both hidden by bed skirts of course).

As for the twin bedding, I'm going with a white cotton duvet and all white linens. I'll be using the accent pillow and baby quilt from the crib bedding set to give it some color and tie it all together.

If it's a girl, I'd love to get one of these shabby-chic ruffled shams, but I'm channeling every ounce of self control in my body to hold off ordering them until we actually know 100% for-sure it's a girl.

If it's a boy, I doubt I'll even do a sham...just two white pillows.

We have no headboard or fancy bed frame, just the metal frame we got from the mattress store. I don't want to purchase anything else until the bed moves to Little C's room so I can get something that goes with his room decor. In the mean time, I found 6 square mirrors on sale at Marshal's. They are currently black, but a can of white spray paint will fix that. When I'm done they will look very similar to this:

I'll group them above the bed to create a focal point/faux headboard. It won't be nearly this dramatic because I've only got 6 mirrors, but this is my inspiration:

If the baby turns out to be a boy, I'll probably punch out the mirrors and just use the frames for a less ornate look that resembles something like this (only with 6 instead of 10 and without the pics or mats).

Curtains are plain white version of these ivory cotton drapes and will hang with a pewter rod and rings (target).

Nightstand purchase will wait until after the baby is born. For a girl, I'm leaning towards something with soft lines to accentuate the curved lines of the crib like one of these two Ikea tables.

And if it's a boy, probably something a little more mod/plain like this to off-set the feminine curved lines of the crib.

For a table lamp, I am absolutely in love with these ceramic lamps f/ pottery barn, and I am especially in love with the yellow one...I think it would add a nice touch of color to all the white accessories, but I can't really afford this particular lamp, and I'm reluctant to put anything super breakable in a baby's room, so, I'm currently on the hunt for a wood version. If you see one let me know!!

If it's a boy, I'll do something a bit more masculine like this. (I like the nickle base but with the gray shade)

Like the nightstand and the lamp, the over-the-crib wall decor will have to wait until after the baby is born, but if it's a girl, I'm going to do her initials with three of these awesome PBK scroll iron letters that can later be little photo/postcard holders in her big-girl room.

And if it's a boy, I have no idea....maybe spell his name out in white wood letters

or maybe some framed vintage-inspired pics like these...

I don't know. Can you tell I'm not nearly as inspired by the boy decor?? I'm telling you, it's a girl!!! :)

So that's it. The vision! Hope you like it, don't tell me if you don't. Seriously don't, because it's taken me forever to come up with this. Will post pics of the reality as it comes together!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Slim pickins

That's the best way I can describe Target's maternity selection right now. It was terrible, they had nothing in the way of summer essentials. I was so disappointed because I had pretty much outfitted myself through Target my entire pregnancy with Little C (mostly with winter clothes I can't wear right now!).

Much to my amusement, however, they did have (drumroll)....skinny maternity jeans! Yes, you heard right and no, I could not believe my eyes. To each their own, but when I'm growing in every direction but up, jeans with the word 'skinny' in the definition are NOT what I want to be sporting. I mean they are not even flattering on the model in the photo! 20 bucks says every pair, size 6 and larger, are on the clearance rack in less than a month.

Monday, August 10, 2009


In the past month or so Little C has definitely started jabbering, but what he's saying is still quite a mystery. Yesterday, he clearly said "Duck" about 13 times though. It started when he was playing with a barn toy that has a duck you insert and when you put the duck in the barn it says " says, 'quack, quack, quack'". After doing this about 300 million times, all the sudden we heard him clearly pipe up, "Duck!" "Quack!" "Duck!". of course we came running in and started holding up every duck toy we could find saying "what's this??". We were praising him profusely when he would enthusiastically point and respond, "Duck!" Of course then, this led to him bringing us other toys and proudly saying, "Duck!".

A little while later Mr. C was showing me a game he taught Little C while I was gone...he throws a ball behind the couch and asks the munchkin "where did it go??" Then Little C runs and retrieves the ball (so yes, my husband basically taught him fetch). Anyway, as soon as Mr. C threw the ball, little C put his hands up and said "Where'd it go?" clear as a bell, then ran to get the ball!! We sat there completely stunned! We couldn't believe he had just said three words! He said it again a few times, but much more garbled and never as clearly as the first time.

All-in-all it makes me wonder if he's just parroting without understanding the meaning of the words, but I'm so hopeful - I was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to talk! I'll try to get a video of the performances and tricks to post soon.

Happy Monday everyone!

P.S. The picture has nothing to do with the post, but is pretty much what every picture and video I try to take looks like these days...he's constantly trying to grab the camera!

This week's menu

Last week was a five-meal week because I needed lots of leftovers since I was out of town this weekend. Pretty basic stuff for the most part.

Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Peas
(Rachel Ray recipe)
  • 2 Tbs EVOO
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can sub breasts if watching the calorie intake)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Small yellow onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 med to small red potatoes cut in half then thinly sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • Crusty bread
Preheat lg skillet or wide soup pot over med-high heat and add the olive oil. Season the thighs with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and brown on both sides. Scoot the browned thighs to the edges and in the center of the skillet add the onions, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook stirring frequently for a few minutes. Add the wine and chicken stock, turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the potatoes and stir everything together. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add peas, lemon juice and zest and parsley and cook until the peas heat through. Serve with crusty bread (I served it with rice).

All-in-all, I'm beginning to hate RR recipes, or at least the ones from the cookbook I have (365: No Repeats). I found the cooking times way off and that's why I didn't really include specific times here. Plus, this whole dish came out really soupy and bland despite all the aromatic ingredients. I think when you are basically boiling all your seasonings, that's what happens, but whatev. I plan to taste-ify it next time by removing the chicken after it's completely cooked (not just browned), then adding the garlic, onion thyme, etc to the skillet. Then when that's cooked deglaze the pan using about half or even a quarter of the liquid called for and then adding some butter to hopefully create a tastely sauce for the chicken (instead of a soupy mess). I'll serve the potatoes and peas on the side. I'll have to let you know how it comes out.

Quick and Easy Empanadas
SUPER kid friendly....this is a modified recipe f/ real simple (are you starting to figure out I modify EVERYTHING ?? :). Anyway, we loved it and will definitely make it again and again.
  • 1 or 2 tbs olive oil
  • Lg can of Pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough
  • flour for the work surface
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained, rinsed and pureed or mashed (the result is something that is the consistency of refried beans and tastes exactly like refried beans, but is MUCH healthier)
  • 1 pint of fresh pico de guillo or fresh salsa (I used a can of mild Rotel, drained)
  • 8z pkg shredded cheddar
  • sour cream and salsa for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush 1 teaspoon of the oil on a lg baking sheet. Roll out the dough and divide into 8 equal portion (dough rolls out into a square...cut the square in half so you have 2 rectangles, then cut the rectangles in half so you have four squares, then cut the squares in half so you end up with 8 rectangles).
On one half of each rectangle of dough, spread a heaping spoonful of beans, 1 1/2 tbs of salsa and 1 tbs of cheese. Fold over the other half of each rectangle covering the filling and slightly fold then press the edges to seal and transfer to the baking sheet. When you've assembled and folded all the empanadas, lightly brush the tops with the remaining oil. Bake for 12 -15 minutes or until golden. Serve with sour cream and more salsa if desired

(I served this with a tossed salad with avocado).

Pot Roast
I am wildly unsuccessful at cooking pot roasts. This time was no exception, so if any of you have any tips on how to make a tasty (and TENDER!) pot roast, I'll all ears!!
  • 4 lb Roast
  • 6 red potatoes cut in half
  • Small bag of baby carrots
  • Chicken broth
  • Flour
  • vegetable oil
  • water
  • salt and pepper
Heated lg stock pot over high heat with a tbs or two of veg oil. Dredged roast in flour and seared on four sides in stock pot. Turned down the heat and added chicken broth. Covered and cooked on low for about 6 hours. Added the veggies and added enough water to cover along with a some salt and pepper and cooked for another hour and a half.

I had a very tough roast and soggy veggies. Is it maybe the cut of meat? Should I bake instead of boil? Like I said, I'm all ears!!

Chicken Pot Pie
This is a slightly modified version of the Bisquick recipe and a staple at my house. I use rotisserie chicken a lot (mainly the breast meat since it's the driest and no one seems to like eating it by itself). I try to make it a little healthier by using the low fat/low sodium soup, but really this is just one of those comfort meals for us.
  • 1 frozen pie crust (thawed or brought to room temp per pkg instructions)
  • pkg 16 oz frozen mixed veggies (thawed)
  • 1 1/2 c cut-up or shredded cooked chicken (I use up to 2 cups depending on how much I have)
  • 1 can (10 3/4oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup water or chicken broth
  • 1 c original Bisquick mix
  • 1/ c milk
  • 1 egg
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the pie crust with a rolling pin and place in a greased 2 qt casserole dish (I usually trim the edges that overlap and don't stress about a perfect fit). Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork in several places and bake for 6-10 minutes or until the crust starts to brown. While the crust is baking, mix chicken, veggies, soup and water in a bowl. In a second bowl whisk together the Bisquick mix, milk and egg. Remove crust from oven and turn oven down to 350 degrees. Fill the baked crust with the chicken mixture and spread so that it evenly fills the dish. Top with the Bisquick mixture. Return to the oven and bake (on 350) for 30 minutes or until biscuit topping has browned.

Souperior Meat Loaf
Another staple. Meatloaf recipes are a dime a dozen, but I think every one should have a basic recipe memorized that they can modify as needed. This is perfect for's very versatile and there's a lot of room for interpretation.
  • 2 lbs ground beef (or ground turkey or a mix of turkey and beef, or try half Italian sausage and half beef for some nice flavor)
  • 3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (can use 1 1/2 cup fresh bred crumbs by placing some toast in a food processor or 5 slices of fresh bread, cubed. I've been known to use cheerios, corn flakes, bran flakes, etc crushed if I don't have enough bread on hand. Also, try Italian bread crumbs if you are using the Italian sausage for a yummy Italian flavored meatloaf)
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix (also great with beefy onion, onion mushroom, beefy mushroom or savory herb with garlic soup mix)
  • 3/4 cup water, chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth or a mix of these.
  • 1/3 cup ketchup (I use tomato paste if making the Italian version)
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine all ingredients.
In 13x9 inch baking dish or roasting pan shape into a loaf. Bake uncovered 1 hour until done. If you would like to add a sauce (I use marinara sauce if making the Italian version), add 10 minutes prior to the end or the baking time. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
NOTE: You can also make this meat loaf in the crock pot! Cover. Cook on HIGH for approx. 4 hours or LOW for approx 6-8 hours.