Monday, June 30, 2008

Fun at the movies!

This weekend, thanks to our financial planners we were able to see an "exclusive premiere" of Wall-e, the new Disney Pixar movie, complete with a "movie kidspack" which just means alot of free candy and junk for us to eat! They also handed out some piggy banks and computer games about saving money. I am sure James will have Aidan playing it before the end of the weekend. The movie was cute, Aidan loved it. (although I thought it was kind of long) And once you see the movie you will understand why we didn't eat most of the food they gave us. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rhubarb Cheesecake

I made this the other night too when we had some guests over. This dessert is a great way to use your rhubarb, and it was delicious too. I used reduced fat cream cheese and fat free sour cream, and the results were still excellent.
I found the recipe here, if you would like more details.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups chopped rhubarb
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butterand pecans. Mix until crumbly and pat into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, toss together the chopped rhubarb, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon flour. Pour onto crust. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Pour over hot rhubarb in the pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Cover with sour cream topping while still hot.
To make the sour cream topping: In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well and spread on top of cake.


Summer days...

....they are flying by.

we are having lots of fun,

lots of scraped knees,

lots of laughs,

and lots of mosquito bites.

This summer also marks the first year I have ever cooked a hot dog at my house. I know, I am still in shock. But it makes feeding the kids so much easier. (of course I buy the good all beef ones!)

Days at the park,

dinners with friends,

nights on the deck,

days at the pool,

swimming with friends,

lots of adventures,

fun in the yard,

and great conversations.

It won't be long until we are stuck in the house again, so we should enjoy the sunshine and leisurely evenings while we can.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Do you know

a little girl who needs a new purse?

I think I may be able to help you out!

Try this

Last night we had some wonderful friends for dinner and I tried all new recipes on them. I think most of the things I cooked were a hit, but this was by far the best. As a matter of fact, my husband liked it so much that he ate the rest for breakfast this morning! I did a few things differently - I have a habit of never really following a recipe. I used mild canned chilis in place of the chili's they recommend, and I was pretty liberal with the cumin, added some Adobo seasoning and smoked Paprika from Penzey's, and lots of fresh cilantro from the garden. We ate it on grilled pita bread, but it was also great with corn chips, and as a relish on our steaks. And unlike the last grilled corn recipe I posted, this one is actually good for you!

Charred Corn Relish

The corn will blacken slightly as it grills, giving the dish a pleasant smoky quality.

4 ears shucked corn
Cooking spray
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
1/2 to 1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1. Prepare grill.
2. Lightly coat corn with cooking spray. Place corn on grill rack; grill 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Cool completely. Cut kernels from ears of corn; place in a medium bowl. Discard cobs.

3. Add bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, and chipotle chile to bowl; toss well. Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle juice mixture over corn mixture; toss well. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

6 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 76(29% from fat); FAT 2.4g (sat 0.3g,mono 0.9g,poly 1g); IRON 0.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14g; SODIUM 117mg; PROTEIN 2.3g; FIBER 2.4g

Bill Jamison and Cheryl Alters Jamison , Cooking Light, JULY 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Buy this!

When we were in Uptown last weekend I made a quick run into Penzey's spices. For me Penzey's is better than a candy store. As soon as you walk in you are carried away by the most amazing scents, and pretty soon you find yourself filling your little shopping basket as fast as possible while you dream about all the pies and curries, sauces and salads you can make with your amazing new spices. Or at least that is what happens to me. I went in for smoked paprika and came out with a whole array of flavors.

Anyway, I do have point to my little tale, and it is this - buy this.

I had James do a bunch of grilling for me this weekend, lots of chicken and turkey, enough to last us a few days this week. We sprinked half the chicken with Tsarsdust, and it seems to have magically dissappeared. The rest of the meat he grilled is still in the tupperware, right where it should be, but that chicken was so good it never stood a chance to last the week. As a matter of fact, James already set out some more chicken to thaw so we can make some more. Yum. You should really buy some.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who says.... can't buy you happiness?

Right here is thirty dollars of happiness.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Swimming lessons!

Last week Aidan started swimming lessons! We have had so much fun watching him interact with an official 'teacher" and other students. He only has three little boys in the class, and it is interesting to see them find their "role." Watching, Aidan seems kind of like the class clown. The teacher also told us he was the most willing to try things, but also a noticeable stubborn streak. Hmmm. Who knew?

Class two nights a week also puts a real crimp in our current lifestyle. Suddenly we have to have a real dinner, on time, and we lose the luxury we had of getting together with friends in the evenings, or stayting late at the gym and then running errands..... For those of you who don't know me too well, we actually are pretty laid back, and dinner often consists of cereal, fruit and yogurt because James is frequently gone in the evenings, so Aidan and I kind of do "our thing" how and when we want to. I guess we both are going to have to grow up!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend fun

It seems like every weekend our days are so packed and we are so busy, it is just easiest to post a few photos from the entire weekend, and spare you all the boring details. This weekend we had a few birthday parties to go to, James got some golf in, and we spent a day out on Lake Calhoun.

We bought Aidan a little suitcase and sleeping bag for our trip in a few weeks, and he has been carting it around every since.

He was okay leaving his suitcase in the car but puppy still had to come with us. According to Aidan, "Puppy is my best friend ever and I love hanging out with him."

I love little boys in hats. We rented a two-person paddleboat. The man assured us it would be much easier than canoeing with Aidan. He must not have children.
This kid has a foot fetish. We went to the playground while James went running, and Aidan had to stop and pick his toes constantly. He leaves little piles all around the house because he picks his toes 4-5 times daily.
Catching a nap, or rather recharging for our next outing!
Aidan and the neighbor girls.
We had a suprise birthday party for my favorite neighbor, Miriam.
Miriam and her sister. I am jealous. They both have super long legs.
The perfect end to a perfect day. Once again we had so much fun and we played so long and hard we all slept until 10:15 Sunday morning. We are going to have to start using an alarm clock!

A few weeks ago I had the brilliant idea of showing Aidan pictures of starving African children because I was tired of complaints about his food. The pictures didn't really impact his eating habits, but the "kids who don't have food or houses" have become a frequent topic of conversation. He is always wondering how they are doing, if they have any food, if the bird ate the boys, and if he can call and talk to them.

Last week he wrote them a little letter, and placed it in the mailbox with the flag up. (The mailman kindly hid it in our other mail so Aidan didn't realize his letter never made it.) He put all sorts of stickers in the letter for them , and he also wanted to pick them some lettuce from our garden, but we decided it might wilt before it arrives in Africa.

The whole thing was just so sweet. He genuinely is concerned for their well-being, and I want to foster that spirit of compassion so he will continue to care about others as he grows into a young boy and eventually a man. I am going to set a goal for the next school year - finding something the three of us can do physically as a family that shows him ways he can care for others, and also helps him understand how fortunate we are here in America. Anyone have any good ideas?

Fun at the Park

We try to go to a park with our neighbors at least once or twice a week. The moms love to catch up, and the kids can run off all their energy. Perfect!

This week we went to a different park and I talked with a man who had recently moved here from afar. He told me he thought all Americans were fat and rude. I guess he will fit in quite nicely here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Our plans are starting to come together! Aidan and I are going to have a real adventure! I sure hope it turns out better than last summer's adventure in Colorado, in which I ran out of oil, and then later my car overheated and we had to limp along the freeway with no air conditioning in the 95+ heat. And I did it all without a portable DVD system for Aidan.

We are going to start in northern Minnesota at Storybook Lodge, and continue into Michgan, crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Which might be as far as we get. I have a huge fear of crossing that bridge, (it's a long story,) and it sure doesn't help that our own 35W bridge collapsed last summer.

We then will head on towards Niagara Falls, and camp close enough that we can visit the Falls in the morning. I have never been camping without James before, so I haven't quite worked out all the details. Like who will set up the tent, who will make me hot water to wash my face with, and most importantly,who will make (and bring) me hot coffee in the morning....... But I am sure I can talk some ranger into it, right? And camping will save me a good hundred dollars or so. And if you know me, I am always one to stretch a dollar. Hey - Stop laughing! I even started slipping coupon's for pete's sake!

The next day we will journey through New York and spend some time hiking in the Catskill Mountains before we head to Jakob's in Groton.

And finally we will arrive at Jakob and Kate's and spend the next few days relaxing on the beach while we wait for James to come. Jakob has kindly volunteered to watch Aidan so I can work on my tan.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Look what I found this morning!

Poppies! They suprise me every year. One night when you go to bed they are just a bud, and the next morning you find this explosion of color, and then just as quickly they are gone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Road trip!

It's official, we are taking a road trip this summer! I am so excited. I am one of those odd people who love the feel of the open road. I think it is because I am all messed up from moving so much as a kid, but that is a story for another day. (Just kidding Mom!) But seriously, all the pieces kind of fell together and so Aidan and I will be heading to Connecticut in July to visit Jakob and Kate for a week.

We are starting to prepare for the trip. Aidan loves maps (and we have an abundance in our family room) so tonight Aidan gave James a little lesson on where Jakob lives, how we will traverse the country and where mommy and daddy went on their honeymoon. We have checked out library books about Paul Revere and oceans and America, and he knows all about the Statue of Liberty now. Did I mention this is the first time Aidan will see the ocean???? I am so excited!

When I was 10 we moved from Fargo, ND to Sunbury, PA. My parents decided to make the trip to Pennsylvania memorable by taking the scenic route through the Upper Peninsula and along the shores of the Great Lakes. I am trying to decide if Aidan and I should do this too, or if we just take I-80 cross country. The possibility exists that we could have an amazing and fun time and that he would soak up the countryside and we would chat about lakes and mountains and Creation and the miles would fly by. Or he could revert to that horrible 4-year-old that lived here a few weeks ago and I could be muttering at him under my breath the whole trip, while he tubes out on movies. I am probably being too optimistic by romanticizing the idea of a road trip with a four-year-old, but I see every day how much potential he has as the world is opening up to him, and then I almost feel like I would be cheating him out of a life experience if we take the easy route. We will see....... anyone have any great ideas or inspiring stories about taking 4 year olds on 24 hour road trips?

James is planning on flying into Boston while we are out there, and that is another reason I am so excited. We honeymooned in Boston, Martha's Vineyard, Cape Cod and the coast of Maine seven years ago, and I am almost giddy to see some of those places again! I love the ocean, the history, the gardens, the buildings....... I just love the East Coast and I am looking forward to that first moment when Aidan dips his toes in the ocean and tasted the salt air.

Well, I didn't mean to ramble on so much about our trip. And I really did try to rein myself in and not use a million superlatives and exclamation points and italics to describe how excited I am. But sometimes I just can't help it.

Did I mention how absolutely, over-the-top excited I am for the trip?????
In my mind Aidan is still my baby.

But he really isn't anymore.

Here he is carrying the cooler and the laundry basket up the stairs in one trip!

I think he looks like he could be in kindergarten here!

The past four years have gone by far too quickly.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The perfect man

is elusive and hard to find. But I think I may have found a perfect one.

Here we see him sweeping and cleaning up after our guests leave.

Here he is helping me pick lettuce from our garden.

Here is what happens when the perfect man makes pork tenderloin while watching the U.S. Open. Mmm, anyone hungry?
So I guess it is true. There is no such thing as the perfect man.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekend Fun

We had a packed weekend! And thankfully the weather cooperated for once. We went to the Farmer's Market, had dinners with friends, dinners out, golf, a family trip to the driving range.... ( I think it may be our last this summer. Honestly, how many times can you hit the ball at nothing in one hour????) We were so tired we all slept until 11:00 on Sunday so we missed church, and poor James didn't get a special Father's Day breakfast. But we had a great afternoon with friends, and we all have been extremely pleasant today. I think it was the extra sleep. :)

Dressed in honor of the U.S. Open.

Looks like he will be a stunt man someday.

Izzy giving Aidan and Marley a ride in the wagon.

Miriam, my most favorite neighbor ever.

From the look of his face, James must be giving someone a hard time.

All the guys were golf fans, so James hauled my little "sewing room" television outside. And even though we had a lovely night with beautiful weather and friends, the guys still gathered around the tiny television screen.

James and Josh.

Josh and Megan recently moved here from Washington D.C. We met them last summer while he was interning at Boston Scientific, and I think these two are destined to get into as much trouble as Izzy and Aidan do. Oops, Did I say that? I meant, they are destined to be great friends. Which is fine with me. I thoroughly enjoy his wife's company as well.

Typical boy, playing with the fire. Wait a second - who was watching these kids?????

We had citronella candles, a fire and bug spray. But the mosquitoe's still won.

James and Aidan have a new pastime. They hit golf balls off the deck down the hill behind our house. Into my flower beds.

Aidan shows Will how to clean sunglasses.

Aidan and Will also decided to skip lunch and help with the gardening. They hauled all Will's dad's plants to the front yard. We stopped them before they got the shovels out.

James is having an identity crisis.

This is what happens when the guys watch the kids.

Just eating some corn on the cob. He walked around eating it all day.