Monday, February 28, 2011

My Weekend Project


Since mastering the "art" of mozzarella making, I have been wanting to try cheddar.  The instructions seemed a little intimidating so I kept putting it off...and putting it off...and putting it off.  Once I finally dove into it, it wasn't all that much different than the mozzarella.  It has a few more steps, but really, a lot of the time it takes is waiting time.  

So I now have a 2 lb block of Farmhouse Cheddar on my cutting board.  I can't say for sure that it's a success yet, but so far it looks like the pictures so I think that's a good sign.  In a couple days I'll coat it with wax, and then it will have to age for 2 months or so.  In 2 months, I should know if it was officially a success!

Now, all I need is a goat or a cow for all the milk I'll need to make cheese!

A Boy and His Dog

As much as this dog drives me CRAZY, she is SO GOOD with Archer.  It *almost* makes up for the amount of stuff that she eats/destroys, and the amount of dog hair that I clean up on a daily (okay, twice daily) basis.  ALMOST.
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Friday, February 25, 2011

"Overalls" for B

Ever since I made Preston's "overalls" B has been wanting a pair.  I've taken a bit of a sewing hiatus after those stinkin' Christmas Care Bears, but since the weather has been so cold/snowy/windy I have gotten back in the sewing mood.  

Preston has actually already outgrown the first pair that I made for him, so along with this pair for B, I made him another pair as well.  I thought B's turned out pretty cute though...I made them from an old pair of shorts of mine since I pretty much refuse to wear shorts post-babies.  It took quite a bit of modifications to get them to work right (especially because I wanted to save the back pockets), but as long as you don't look too close, they look cute!  I realized AFTER I took the picture that he is kind of camouflaged by the stairs...oops.  
B showin' off his new "overalls"

Thursday, February 24, 2011


"We should warm up to about 0 degrees by around noon tomorrow..." - Weather Guy

This is why I don't watch the news.

Do you see what I see?

Our first tiny tomato!
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Cold, Catch-Up, & Cuteness

Despite my best efforts, Preston spent the early part of the week throwing up.  PLEASE can we just be done with the sickness already?!  We are (currently) all healthy (again) and hopefully we will stay that way!

Last night we had a bit of a blizzard.  Yuck.  Just when I start to think that Spring is on the way...  Right now it is COLD (this morning it was 11 degrees/-9 with windchill) and windy.  Generally miserable!  I had to drag the garbage can over the large snowdrift in front of the garage this morning and about froze myself.  Schools were canceled, but that doesn't help us since apparently people still make it to their dentist appointments. 

In place of any other exciting updates, here are a few pictures from the last few weeks or so.
My cute boys eating apples

Where's Archer?
Mr. B clowning
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trying to Stay Healthy

We skipped out on church this morning because we are finally ALL healthy, and truthfully, I'm not sure I could handle another week of sickness.  It seems like every time we go to church one of the boys picks something up and we spend the whole week passing it around, only to get something else the next Sunday.  John likes to remind me that eventually they will get all the bugs, and will stop getting sick, but he is generally not the one who has to spend all day dealing with the little sick boys so his opinion doesn't really count in this instance.  I can't even imagine how bad it's going to be next year when Preston starts kindergarten* (and B might possibly be starting preschool...).  It's bad enough in the nursery on Sundays, and the Kroc childcare a few times per week!

So the whole point of this post (other than to justify the fact that we didn't make it to church this morning!) is that I started garden-planning this morning.  Does anyone have any interesting suggestions of a new veggie I should try to grow?  I have at least a few square feet of growing space left, and possibly a planter or two.  Here is what I'm planning so far, most of which I have grown previously: tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, lettuce, carrots, radishes, corn, peppers, zucchini, beans, peas, pumpkin - for the boys to carve only, because John is allergic!, cantaloupe, and watermelon.  I'm also trying a couple of new things this year (peanuts, rhubarb, and maybe beets).  This is my first year trying out the "Square Foot Gardening" concept, which is basically high yields in a small space.  I'm planting 100 square feet, plus some containers (including 2 Earthboxes which are new this year!).  I would love some new/interesting vegetables to try out, or even a new variety of some vegetables I'm currently growing (all of the varieties that I'm growing are pretty run-of-the-mill).

*Note on schools, since I was debating what we should do in this post : we went and visited the school at our church and really liked it!  The kindergarten teacher seemed great, and this year they have a class of 8 kids (but they can take up to 12).  12 kids sounds MUCH MUCH MUCH better than 30.  Plus, it's right down the road, and they have school Monday-Thursday which works out perfectly since John generally works M-Th as well.  And, on top of that, the preschool class is right next to the kindergarten room and B could start next year.  Technically B should have another year before even starting preschool, but his birthday is only 2 days past the deadline for school.  He wants to go to school so bad, and we're considering letting him start preschool this year and then do 2 years of kindergarten.  Yes, completely unrelated to gardening, I know! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Best Lentils Ever

We eat a lot of beans/legumes in our house, due to my meat aversion.  I REALLY like lentils because they are so incredibly versatile, but not everyone in our house is as big of a fan as I am.  Last night, however...the boys each ate a bowl of these within about 2 minutes flat.  Even B, who is possibly the slowest eater EVER (alright, he may have taken 5 minutes, but that is still a record). 

Salsa Lentils - I didn't write it down so hopefully the measurements are right!
1 c lentils (rinsed)
1-1.5 c of water
1/2 c salsa
1 quart diced tomatoes (or 2 14 oz cans)
1 bouillon cube (or use broth instead of water)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
Put it all in the crockpot, stir, cook on low 8 hrs.  You can serve this however you want: over rice, as a taco/burrito filling, or make it into taco salad.  If you're going to use it as a filling, you might want to use a little less liquid or vent the lid of the crockpot during the last hour. 

This was GOOD.  And I used the leftovers to make veggie burgers tonight which was tasty too...especially for leftovers!


P: I found some gold!
B: Gold dubloons?!
P: No, just gold.
B: Oh man!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The 3rd

3rd Dr. appointment today.  CHECK.

The eldest is a little over 40 lbs and 45" tall.  He's such a jabber-box.  The Dr. probably spent longer than he had allotted with us because Preston was talking his ear off. 

1 vaccine, done.  Unfortunately it was a "combo" vaccine (DTaP & IPV) which I wasn't super thrilled with but they are both shots we would've opted for individually anyway so I went with it.  I did a little more research when we got home and found out that a lot of the combo shots have high levels of aluminum in them, which is one of the things that we diligently try to avoid.  Sometimes I feel like we just can't win with these type of situations.  The amounts of "other stuff" in vaccines is just a little (okay, a lot) scary to me.  I am glad I did some more research though, because one of the vaccines that the nurse was really pushing for was a combo that I had never heard of (MMR & varicella) which I am definitely NOT comfortable with them getting.  (The boys aren't getting the varicella vax at this point, but we might revisit that at a later time if they haven't gotten chickenpox naturally at a young age.)

Once again, I was happy with the pediatrician, but really, I wasn't very thrilled with the nurse.  She looked over Preston's vaccine record and started spouting off the things that he "needs" and looked at me in complete horror when I told her what we were planning.  Oh well.  You can't win them all!

Friday, February 11, 2011


We survived the appointment yesterday!  Woohoo! 

I really liked the pediatrician.  He was up-front about his feelings on vaccinations (that he firmly believes that they are safe and beneficial, etc.), BUT he respects that it is the parents' decision.  He said that he won't say another word about it, but he does feel that it is his responsibility to tell parents his opinion.  He told me which vaccines would no longer be "necessary" due to the ages of the boys since the diseases aren't likely to be life-threatening at older ages.  I told him what I was planning as far as vaccinations go, and his response was "You tell me, and we'll do it."  Yes.  Thank you. 

I felt so much better about him than our last pediatrician who made me feel incredibly stupid and talked down to me.  I don't expect to find a pediatrician (at least around here) who agrees with our decision to delay/selectively vaccinate, but I'm glad we found one who is respectful of a parent's right to choose what is best for their children.  It was still a little difficult for me to read their "policy on vaccines" and to hear his opinion...but at the same time, I want him to be respectful of my opinion, so I tried to sit there quietly and listen.

On to B and Arch, who had their check-ups.  B is weighing in at about 29 lbs.  Not terrible since he had just spent 5 days puking his guts out.  I thought he was only about 29 lbs PRIOR to that.  He's such a little bitty thing though, and Archer is closing in on him at 26 lbs.  Both are meeting all their "developmental guidelines" for their ages (not that I had any concerns, but it's always nice to hear that things are "on track" I suppose).  Both of them were relatively cooperative, minus a screaming fit from Archer, and B refusing to open his mouth.  And Preston and Bryton have been playing Doctor all day with the tongue depressors that the Dr. gave them.

2 appointments down, 1 to go!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Today is my baby's first trip to the pediatrician. 

I'm nervous. 

He's still so LITTLE.  He was checked out by our midwife for the first 6 weeks of his life, but since then we've had no reason to have him seen.  Our last pediatrician here wasn't exactly supportive of our decision to delay/selectively vaccinate, so I'm a little nervous to go see the new pediatrician.  He comes with rave reviews from my midwife, so I'm hoping he's a little more accepting.  We shall see! 

My plan was for B to get 1 shot today (he's only had 2 before, because I didn't want to take him back to the same pediatrician), but since he has really only been feeling 100% since yesterday, I'm not really sure I want to inflict that on him!  And Archer actually won't be getting any shots today because we're planning to wait until he turns 2 (when the blood brain barrier is more fully developed).

I'm such a wimp with vaccines that John is taking a late lunch to meet us there for some moral support.

*Disclaimer, since this tends to be a hot topic: I have not read anything that leads me to believe there is a SOLID 100% link between vaccines and terrible side-effects (although there are plenty of articles and stories about tentative links).  I believe that FOR US, this decision to delay and selectively vaccinate is best.  I don't judge those who vaccinate on schedule or who don't vaccinate at all!  However, I DO think that every parent should make an informed decision that they feel is best for their family.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Road Trips & Bagels

We love road trips around our house. In college, John and I (and sometimes our neighbors in married student housing) used to take off for weekend California road trips on a fairly regular basis. California is a little too far for us to go now, but we did take a long trip down to Utah (and then through Boise and over to central Oregon) recently, and obviously our recent trip to Seattle. Since having kids, I attempt to take as much food along with us as possible for health and budget reasons. Bagels are one of our favorite road trip foods, and the boys think they are a treat because we generally don't buy them unless we are planning to take them on a trip or camping. In fact, for some reason, the boys call bagels "donuts." I'm not sure they have actually had a real donut before, so that could be why they think bagels are donuts.

Anyway, since our Seattle trip was kinda spontaneous, I didn't want to go grocery shopping so I decided to try out a bagel recipe that I had bookmarked a while back. They were a little time consuming, but not difficult at all. I used the recipe from HERE, and the only change I made was to use whole wheat flour instead of bread flour. I just made plain old whole wheat bagels, and they were GOOD! I'm hoping to try it again with a few different combos...hoping to try blueberry, cinnamon raisin or craisin, and possibly tomato basil? We'll see. I'll probably try to make up a couple of batches to freeze at some point.

They even looked like bagels! (Well, most of them anyway...)

In other kitchen related experiments, I tried making rice milk tonight. It's currently chilling in the fridge, but I plan to use it for breakfast tomorrow. We'll see how it turns out! I'm also planning to try making oat milk, but we had rice for dinner tonight anyway so I just made some extra to make milk with.
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QOTD: "I'll be able to brush my teeth by myself when I'm a doctor, of course." -Preston

Monday, February 7, 2011

Green Stuff!

We got a fresh coat of snow last night reminding me that it IS still winter. Yuck. Thankfully it has since melted, but spring is probably still a ways away for us. At least the sight of happy tomatoes growing makes it feel just a little more spring-like!

Tomato Plant #1. The biggest. The other one is maybe an inch shorter, and it's doing well too.

We harvested some lettuce tonight! It filled a bowl up plus there are still plenty of leaves left on the plants.

The lettuce passes inspection from P. I am very thankful that my older boys love salad (spinach is their favorite). I'm hoping Archie follows in his brothers' footsteps...right now he doesn't particularly enjoy the texture of lettuce.

I also harvested a few leaves of basil, but nothing major yet. The rest of my herbs are pretty spindly still. We also moved 3 strawberries inside so we'll see if they start growing! And I was getting so excited for Spring that I started planning my outdoor garden...then it snowed and I got a little deflated.
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

The IKEA Purchase

We finally put the IKEA purchase to good use this afternoon! I wasn't sure if it would get done given the amount of cleaning and laundry that needed to be done as well, but it's finished. I looooove it, and obviously my husband loves me given the fact that he allows a huge purple/pink flower in our room.

We have a "sitting area" in our bedroom that we currently have as a workout area. Our room is a little bit gigantic (ie: a big waste of space) and it FELT gigantic. Now I think it feels a little bit cozier. Check it out:


(taken with a cell phone camera, but you get the point)
So, all of this done PLUS the upstairs of the house cleaned and a few loads of laundry done. Not too bad for a day's work! Unfortunately there is still another half of a house to be cleaned and countless loads of laundry left to do...

Orange Cleaner

For the past few years, I have used a vinegar/water solution for the majority of my cleaning. Kind of boring, but it works really well, it's cheap, and most importantly, I can let the boys help without worrying about them getting it on their hands (or even taking a sip...not that they would do that...).

Anyway, a while ago I read somewhere about making an orange cleaner. I wish I could find it again, but of course I couldn't. Either way, I remembered the premise and since the boys have been on a serious mandarin orange kick for a while now, I thought I would put the peels to good use and made some orange cleaner.

Here's what you do:

Collect orange peels. Cover with vinegar. Put a lid on it. Let it "brew" for 2 weeks on the counter. Dilute it with water (50/50). Use!

Really complex, huh?

Very timely that my cleaner was done just in time to clean up from the massive amounts of vomit that occurred in our house over the past couple of days. I gave it a try this morning and it works GREAT. It seems slightly stronger than just vinegar/water, plus it has the added bonus of smelling nice and citrus-y (is that a word?). I sprayed it on some stuck on stuff in my sink, let it soak there for a minute or two, and it came right off.

I'll be using it lots today cleaning our bathrooms!


B: What?
P: Why'd you say what?
B: Because I have a butt!
(obviously B is learning to rhyme!)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Didn't we just go through this???

Woke up this morning to...puke. Puke. And more puke.

All from one little boy (the littlest), and one dog (who apparently pukes after EATING puke...sorry if that's more than you needed to know, but I had to clean it up, and it was definitely worse the second time!).

Didn't we just go through this a month ago??? A month ago, when little Archie was the only one to escape it. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he just picked up the same bug we had previously and not some new mutant strain that we all end up with!

It is REALLLLLY difficult to contain a puking 18-month-old. I tried the carrier, but then I ended up with puke all down my back (really, not sure what I was thinking with the carrier. Complete lapse in thinking...I blame lack of sleep!). He's currently in the pack-n-play lined with towels and some easy to clean toys but he won't be happy there for long.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Oh Seattle

One of my favorite cities. I love it. And I'm glad we're within driving distance, even if it does make for a lot of time in the car!

I got a random text Friday from John asking me if I wanted to go to Seattle Sunday-Monday. Like I would ever turn that down! So while he called Paws-n-Claws to see if they had room for Jasper, I hopped on Priceline to see if we could find a cheap hotel downtown. Once again, we were NOT disappointed: $55 for a nice hotel in Pike's Place area. I love Priceline. I know some day we will most likely be let down with booking through them - it's a little scary to book something without knowing FOR SURE what you will get, but as of now, we have always enjoyed the hotels and this time was no exception (although the elevator was tiny and claustrophobic...hardly big enough for the 5 of us!).

Sunday night Sushi! P&B spent much of the meal practicing using chopsticks (or chapsticks as B calls them), while Archer spent his time watching Diego on the iPod.

We also got to meet up with a friend from college Sunday night which was lots of fun. I'm sure he was probably less than thrilled with Archer sticking his fingers in the whipped cream on his cheesecake, but he willingly shared anyway.

Monday morning: Children's Museum!

Again, we got to meet up with an old friend and her 3 girls. P&B told me on the way home that the girls were their "girlfriends" because they weren't boys. Brilliant observation, boys!

John helping Archer paint - Archer especially liked dipping the toilet plunger in paint and smacking it down everywhere.

And B making dino tracks!

We also made a trip to IKEA of course, but we haven't put the purchases to use yet since we got home kind of late last night! I think I will have to dedicate another blog post to the IKEA purchase.
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