Friday, January 10

Winter Days

There is something really special about a baby's hands.  I don't think I can explain it, exactly.  I just know that those hands are about to grow and change so fast.  And they won't always be the sweet chubby ones they are now.  So I try to capture them, so I might not forget them exactly as they are now, at just two years old.

I'm more thankful than ever to have discovered markers that only color on their respective paper.  Genius.  
That means they won't leave a trail along the wall, won't change the baby doll's face to purple, or fill the cracks of the floor with an orange glow.  Of course I intend to reintroduce the real marker again one day, just not this year ;)

I caught this sweet chickadee on a bet.  From my husband.  He told me that just because it was -13 degrees, the bird wouldn't come near that bird feeder if I was standing so close.  Not if I become one with nature!  His response?  "You'll never be able to stand still- it's freezing out here".  I've always held satisfaction in success.
But my fingers were numb for the next half hour.
And then I felt a burning sensation for half the day.
But that chickadee- he didn't even know I was there.

This guy is here daily, to catch the scraps the birds drop.  And of course, the compost from the kitchen.  I tried to get him in action tipping the bird feeder, but he wasn't too aggressive today.  
He's quickly dropped down on my list, though, after watching him bully the other spike that frequents our yard.  No kidding- I watched him push his nose into the other deer's neck until he ran away.  It makes me realize that even animals can be hurtful when they don't want to share.  A good lesson for our Molly, as we watch these deer nightly.  We don't want to be the mean deer, pushing the other deer around.  We'd rather just share the food, and eat next to each other.  Because it's nice to have the company of friends :)

Happy Weekend!
We're ecstatic to see temperatures rise near 50 degrees!



Tuesday, January 7

Apple Stuffing

During the new year, I'm trying to focus on balance.  And that's true with what my family's eating, too.  I tend to overindulge, then feel guilty and carb-restrict to even things out.  But I want to raise my daughter with a healthy diet that isn't unreasonable, that doesn't involve guilt.  And I'm learning each day that actions speak louder than words.  That girl mimics me and repeats me often- sometimes to even to my dismay.  I'm working on being a better role model for my daughter, and I think a healthy relationship with food is so, so important.

Which brings us to a carb loaded side: to prove that it's okay, in moderation.  In fact, it's necessary, in moderation.  But the real deal in this dish: the fresh produce. 

This stuffing is not found in a box.  And that makes it so much more enjoyable.  

I had a two-day-old baguette that I couldn't stand to waste.  So after a day of outdoor play, that baguette founds its place next to an oven roasted turkey tenderloin.  A lovely cold-weather meal.

I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten, my all time favorite Food Network host- although I'm really loving Ree Drummond lately, too ;)  I once dreamed Bobby Flay and I were friends, too.  But I digress.

I only had red delicious apples on hand, but they were still good in this recipe.

Herb and Apple Stuffing

1 baguette or other day-old bread, cubed
2 tblsp unsalted butter
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 apple, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 tblsp chopped parsley
2 tblsp chopped rosemary
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup - 2 cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 300F.  Toast cubed bread on cookie sheet for about 7-10 minutes.  Remove and let set. Increase oven heat to 350F. 
 In saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add onion and celery, cooking until translucent.  Season with salt, pepper and herbs.  Add apple and continue cooking 2-3 more minutes, until softened.  
Combine bread with onion, celery and apple mixture in a baking dish (I used a 9x13) coated with butter.  
Top with 1 cup stock, adding more if bread seems too dry.
{I let my dish set at this time in the refrigerator an hour or so - we were playing in the snow! I simply baked it as directed after we came inside.}
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, uncovered, until top is golden brown.

I always feel better serving my family something homemade versus something out of a box.  You really can't beat the flavor of real herbs and vegetables and, of course, butter.
We loved this dish, and I'm making a point to include it more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Plus, it's a good lesson in balance-- served with a lean protein and vegetable, it's a healthy dinner.



Monday, January 6

A Slow First Weekend of 2014

It seems like we are too busy around Christmas for even a toddler to really enjoy their new treasures.  My daughter is so generously gifted, so when this weekend called for freezing temperatures and strong winds, we actually had the chance to explore some of her new gifts.  And let me tell you, she was loving all of them.  We got her a doll house this year, complete with furniture and appliances, including a bathtub and toilet.  Every doll and animal in sight has had its chance to clean up and potty this weekend.  And that potty obsession is completely our fault- a week of nothing but potty talk followed by weeks of potty praise and potty song equals one potty obsessed two year old.  It's all fun and games until she proudly proclaims "I pooped!" to Daddy as we enter the pew during the silent prayer during mass on Sunday.  Yes, that happened this week. 

We're all pleased to be learning bird sounds, well with the 200 pound gift of bird seed we received this Christmas :)  And that position above is the classic Molly pose- one thumb in her mouth, the other tangled in hair- sometimes her own, sometimes her mommy/daddy's.  

Some fresh, homemade stuffing was happily enjoyed after an afternoon of snacking on snow :)
I'm working on a recipe, but in all honesty, it's a creation as an effort to avoid waste.  I couldn't let a 2-day-old baguette go unused.  Apple stuffing, the perfect cold weather side dish.

Molly's favorite new jams, the "dorwa jams", courtesy of a dear friend, Erin, have been a must wear for the past week.  And they fit well into our lazy Sunday morning.  We decided on late mass after spending the first hour of the day playing hide-and-seek with a new gamer.  My husband's been teaching her to hide quietly for months.  Over the past few days she's decided to quietly hide- without telling anyone!  She'll disappear, and the first few times I spent several minutes frantically searching the house for her.  That's when she'd unveil herself as a large lump in our bed, or a crack in the closet door.  But that girl is quiet.  We're working on the rules of the game.  Like "you have to tell someone you want to play before you go hide".    I was looking back on pictures from last year, when she was just one and man, what a difference.  That year between a one-year-old and a two-year-old is amazing.  I'm really trying to slow down more, so I can appreciate every little quirk- and snuggle ;)

Happy Monday-I'm really dreading this week because it's the first full one in a while, and I'm stuck working the Saturday, too. 
Here's hoping we can get this tree outside without devastating the house.
Oh, and without getting frostbite.  Forecast for tomorrow: -30F.  Yikes.

Keep warm!