Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy COOKING: Barley Risotto!


I have perfected a dish that I am so happy to share with ya'll. It's a pearl barley risotto (pearl barley is a more healthful substitute of traditional Italian risotto) with corn, carrots, yellow onion, and a few other fantastic ingredients.

I serve it alone as a main dish with string beans and fresh avocado, but it would work just fine as a side to your meat or fish. Here is the recipe. Happy Cooking!

Ingredients:
2 cans reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (14.5 ounces)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
coarse salt, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 cup Pearl Barley
1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2-1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 carrots, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup graded Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Boil broth plus 4 cups of water in a saucepan, once boiling reduce to a simmer.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a sauce pan, add onions to saute until softened, add mushrooms continue until mushrooms are also softened.
3. Add pearl barley to onions and mushrooms, stirring constantly over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes. Add carrots, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
4. Ladle in about 2 cups of simmering broth, stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed. Continue until barley  is tender and mixture is creamy.
5. Add chopped parsley, cheese, and corn. Stir to combine. Cover with lid so the heat stays in and frozen corn is defrosted.
6. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bridesmaid for Kathy!!


My friend Kathy is getting married in July and I have the absolute honor of being a bridesmaid in her wedding. It is going to be a fantastic affair, one for the record books. I want to be a great bridesmaid. You, know...get the job DID. I have some ideas of what I want to do to make her BRIDE experience super fun and special. Of course, I can't say them on this blog....she needs to be surprised and Kathy happens to be an avid reader of my blogs. All this bridesmaid thinking has me questioning...what are the real, traditional deeds that bridesmaids are called to do? In other words, what are ma DUTIES, yo??

In order to be the best bridesmaid I can be, I have to first start with a list of the absolutes. You know, the "you better do these bare minimum responsibilities or else your the worst bridesmaid in the world," kind of a list. After all the "required" bridesmaid duties are known and under control- that is when the fun begins. I can use my imagination and put together some more fun things...just to make my Kathy happy.

Here is the list I have put together, based on my EXTENSIVE research.

*Offer to help with any pre-wedding tasks
*Help with looking for bridesmaid's dresses, shoes, and accessories.
*Go with the bride to dress fittings and any alteration appointments (if she wants you there)
*Help to plan, co-host, and pay for the bridal shower with the other bridesmaids
*Keep a record of gifts the bride receives at her shower and wedding, for the purpose of thank-you notes
*Maintain RSVP lists
*Help to plan bachelorette party/ies
*Attend as many wedding functions as possible, most importantly the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and (obviously), the wedding
*Run last minute errands on the day of the wedding, and be available to meet with the florists, wedding coordinator, officiant, etc. on the brides behalf.
*Help with hosting at the wedding by showing guest where the bar is, encouraging guests to sign the guest list, and introducing guests
*Start to boogy as soon as you hear music! Your job is to help get the party started!
*Give the maid of honor a break by helping to carry or keep track of the bride's bouquet, money purse, veil, etc.
*Buy a wedding gift
*****the most important of them all: BE A TROOPER NO MATTER WHAT!



What did you do for your bride when you were a bridesmaid? What were the little extras that you did to make your friend's Bride experience even more fabulous?? 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Easton's Baptism


Easton was baptized on January 8th, Epiphany Sunday (Epiphany is the Sunday that celebrates Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist). It was an amazing day, spent with family and friends- and was incredibly special to stand in front of the church and make a commitment to raise our son in the Christian faith. Teaching a child about God starts early. And we, his parents and God-parents, have made a commitment to not only teach Easton about God but actively teach him.



I know that an infant can not fully grasp the concept of the Holy Trinity (it's hard for some adults, for goodness sake). But Easton has been, and will continue to be exposed to his parents' relationship with Christ- and hopefully one day, that will translate into his own desire to follow in Christ's footsteps. 


Showing Easton exactly what a relationship with God looks like, starts with little things. It's including "God" in our daily vocabulary. Saying, "God bless you," when someone (including Easton) sneezes, and reading children's bible stories before bedtime.  Exposing him to God is praying before every meal, out-loud and without distraction. It's bringing Easton to church. It's surrounding him with people who not only love him, but who love humanity and treat others with kindness. It's exhibiting, that God loves all people. It's teaching Easton about Jesus' compassion, empathy, and love for those who have lost their way or those who are different from us.


Tony and I have a chance to raise our child to be a strong, confident, and compassionate man of God. What better way to start off his journey than to baptize him in front of those very people who have been a part of mine and Tony's own Christian journey?

                                         Kathy Middleton and Easton.


                             Great Grandma Hazel and Easton


By the way...more pictures will follow shortly!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hug It Out

   Hug Sign: Image via The Chive

Today has been a rough day. Easton is still sick- which is totally heartbreaking, as there is just nothing to be done but wait until the cold passes. Also, I had  a not so happy phone conversation, which brought out all of my insecurities and brought on my defenses. It was one of those conversations that leaves me wondering, "why do I even communicate with this person any more?" This icky feeling of sadness has been following me around since I ended that call. I'm left feeling like, well, I need a hug. I called my friend Allison, and she gave me the phone version of a hug. Easton is a baby, and will hug me back whether he wants to or not, but what I could really use right about now is a real- adult style bear hug. You know, the kind of hug that makes you almost lose your breath because the squeeze is so tight. The, "I'm not going to let you go until you feel better, even if it takes 15 minutes!!!" kind of a hug. 


Since I don't have anyone to hug right now....I found some pics of HUGS that made me smile, if only for a little bit. 

 Little Girl Hugging Elephant: Image via Patterson Maker

 Dog Hug: Image via  themessesofmen.tumblr.com

Kiddie Hug: Image via weheartit.com

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Super Yummy Burger! Healthy, too!


Almost immediately after I found out I was pregnant, I became "icked" out when handling meat or poultry. The icky feeling didn't go away after I had Easton, and I have started to eat less and less meat as a result. Luckily, I have a hubby who eats almost anything I put in front of him- and he enjoys it, damn-it. I have started incorporating much more vegetarian and vegan dishes into our dinners, and have had loads of fun trying out new and fun recipes. Here is a recipe that I did yesterday for lunch- it was completely amaze-balls.

Quinoa and Northern Bean Burgers:
1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in large chunks
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced 
  • 15 ounces great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten (use flax meal if you want to make this dish vegan)
  • Coarse salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions: 


  • In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil; add quiona, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.
    2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, half the green onions, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
    3. Form mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick paties (dip hands in water to prevent sticking). If too soft, refrigerate 10 minutes to firm. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes per side.

    I served the burgers over spinach salad with a low cal honey mustard dressing and fresh avocado on top! It was desish. Try it out, it's so easy and really really healthy. If you make 6 patties out of the mixture- they come to 147 calories each burger.





  • Friday, January 13, 2012

    TGIF

                         Hot Air Balloon: Image via inkiemama.tumblr.com

    I have always, ALWAYS wanted to take a spin in a hot air balloon. I was thinking about this while drinking my mornin cup a' joe today. The thought of hot air ballonin'  led to another thought. I LOVE ALL BALLOONS. So here are some pretty pics that are just fun and fabulous to look at....


             Red Balloons: Image via  flickr.com
     Ballons at Dinner: Image via wedding.decoratrends.com
     Romantic Balloons: Image via theberry.com
     Pretty girl with balloons: Image via  rashoncarraway.com
    Girl holding balloons: pic via  zaba.soup.io

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Tea Party Tuesdays!!



    My friend Kim and I started "Tea Party Tuesday" in order to celebrate how fabulous we are. Kim and I happen to be the most sophisticated, fancy, and elegant people I know- and what better way to celebrate our fanciness than to throw ourselves monthly tea parties. We eat yummy "tea" snacks, gossip, and of course...drink tea. Last night was especially exceptional because I was able to leave Easton with Tony and have a baby-free evening with Kim at her house. Next month it will be back at mine, and hopefully Easton will stay put- in daddy's arms.

      "Just brewin tea in ma tea-pot"- Kim
              Yummy tea sady's...cucumber and cream cheese. DELISH!
                Kim and Rebecca: fancy and fabulous.
                        How cool is this tea cup?? It makes tea into a heart!

    On another note, last night was the very first "I WANT MOMMY" tantrum from Easton. At least, it was the first time we recognized that that was the (obvious) reason behind his upset. Here is the scenario: I walked in the house, said hello to my happy baby who was playing with daddy on his play mat. Then, I said, "while he's happy, I'm just going to hop in the shower." As soon as I walked out of the room Easton started wailing, and didn't stop until I got out of the shower, dressed and took him from Tone. As soon as he got in my arms...he was fine. WOW, who knew that babes show that kind of emotion over missing mommy, so soon? . I have to admit, I was almost pleased with how severely Easton  wanted me. The fact that he wanted ME... little old me, to sooth him- well, I was honored, touched, and proud to be a mama at that moment. Now....don't get me wrong. I can foresee that this type of demonstration might get old quite quickly and sooner, rather then later. For now, however, I'm going to enjoy my mama's boy.

    Kim puts on a pretty fabulous spread....no? 

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Happy MONDAY, ya'll!


    Monday is a great day for a couple of reasons. Fist off, (I know it sounds a little funny), but I love Mondays because Tony goes back to work for the week. Easton and I LOVE having our time with him throughout the weekend, but we like to get back on our weekly schedule on Monday. Secondly, I start my week with a morning walky-bear with my dear friend Jamie at Campbell Park.

    Today, Jamie and chatted about diet and good recipes and I thought to myself, "self, it's time to throw another one of my favorite recipes on my blog." So that's exactly what I'm doing today.

    Here is the recipe for a Quinoa "Salad" that I sort of made up...

    Serves 4 
    1 cup Organic Quinoa rinsed
    2 cup Vegetable Broth (or chicken broth)
    1/2 cup graded white Sharp Cheddar Cheese
    1-2 cups broccoli florets
    1/2-1 Yellow Bell Pepper
    1 small or medium Yellow Onion
    3/4's cup sliced Mushrooms
    1 zucchini (small to medium)
    1/4 cup Pine Nuts


    Directions:
    -Bring quinoa and broth to a boil on high heat, keep it boiling (not too hard) until all the broth has boiled out. Turn off the heat and put the lid on to let the steam finish cooking the quinoa. Leave for 15 minutes.


    -Saute onions and mushrooms. Once these are done, add to the quinoa and put lid back on. 
    -Steam broccoli, zucchini, and yellow bell pepper. Once steamed, add to quinoa.
    -Toast pine nuts with a half tablespoon of olive oil. Once toasted add to the quinoa.
    -Stir in graded sharp cheddar cheese, it will melt into the quinoa. 

    Whaaallllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. The Quinoa "salad" is complete. It's really delicious, and rather healthy. You could substitute the cheese for nutritional yeast, if you don't want to have dairy in the dish. I served this with Cod, and asparagus. YUMMY central.




    If you try this recipe out, let me know how you like it. Also, definitely tell me if you substitute any of the ingredients in or out of the dish. I would love to know what else tastes good in it. 

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Cool Things Come in Cool Packages.


    Well, I got a fabulous scarf the other day. To be more accurate, I bought it about a month ago and received it the other day. I ordered it from a woman on Etsy, and had her make it in one of my favorite colors, Citron. The package was just sitting on my front porch upon returning from a walk with Easton and Molly. I was so excited to open the FedEx box,I could barley contain myself. It's absolutely fabulous. The scarf was definitely worth the wait.



    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    The Dreaded, "Baby Weight."


    I have been trying hard (but not overly hard) to lose the weight that I put on while preg with Easton. I am extremely jelly of all the beautiful celebs that grace the covers of Us Weekly post baby, looking, well....like georgous celebs. Take Jessica Alba, for instance. She had a baby maybe three weeks before I did and she's sporting a bikini on the beach, looking like she never carried one baby let alone, two. Now- I'm not one of those women who looks at Heidi Klum and exclaims, "why don't I look like that after having a baby," when the reality is I didn't look like that BEFORE baby. I did, however, have somewhat of a bangin bod before I got pregnant (if I do say so myself), and would like to re-capture at least some of that pre-baby body now.

    I have been eating wisely (mostly plants, and mostly non-processed), excersising about three times a week (yes, I could up that a bit), and the greatest task of them all- I've been taking care of my son by nursing him. The whole breast feeding thing is truly a gift, and I would not do ANYTHING to put my ability to feed my son at risk. Over working out, eating too few calories, and dropping weight too quickly could greatly hurt my milk production...and I refuse to do it. I lost 20 pounds in the first month of having Easton. It has taken another 2 and half months to lose 11 more. This process has been slow. Very slow. But, I'm thankful that I have the motivation to continue towards my goal of getting back to my pre-baby weight. (Yes, that is a total of 31 pounds lost, and I have 29 to go- I gained a lot while pregnant, oopsie :)

                                                             8 and a half months preg

    Jessica Alba post baby, via US Weekly


    Back to Jessica Alba. Now, I'm no doctor. But I do have a bit of experience in the breast feeding and not eating enough category. A few days before Christmas, I came down with the stomach flu and couldn't eat much. I probably ate about 1,000 calories the day I came down with the flu and the day after. In those two days, my production of milk went down. I noticed it almost immediately. So, what I have to say about celebrities who look so amazing after giving birth....THEY MUST NOT BE BREASTFEEDING. Either that, or they are just super-humans. And either way, I need not be so jelly after all. I get to feed my baby from my own body. I have gained a new appreciation for the bod I have always wanted to change...and I'm so thankful for this. 


    How long did it take you to lose your baby weight? What did you do to get it off???

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    A Royal Baptism...well, sort of.


    Baby Easton will be baptized this Sunday, and we are so excited. Like most events in my life, the inevitable question is "but what will I wear?" Of course this day is not about me. It's about the commitment that Tony and I, along with the God-Parents- make to raise Easton in a Christ-centered home. It's about the powerful love of God, which restores us sinners and washes away sin. I love the idea/tradition/symbolism behind baptism.

    With all that said, I have to make it a little bit about me. I am after all, the mother of this beautiful baby boy. I need to look regal, dignified, and entirely English. So...I did what any English, Episcopalian Princess would do. I googled Princess Di.

    These are some of the fabulous photos of the baptism of Prince William and Prince Henry. May I also point out the gown that both boys are wearing... this is a traditional baptismal gown (which I wore as a baby of course) and one that my "manly" husband refused to allow Easton to wear...stating that "no son of mine will be wearing a GOWN of any sort." Boo hoooooo. I really loved the idea of Easton in one of these gowns. We did, however grab a fabulous baptismal outfit at Nordstrom- it is all kinds of fancy. :)

    I'm still not totally sure about what I will wear, but a headpiece or hat of some kind is absolutely necessary, and a trip to Valley Fair is planned for Wednesday. I must find a dress that will be as equally fancy as Easton's outfit...
                                                        Prince Henry's Baptism


                                                                  Prince William of Denmark

                                                       Prince Charles,Princess Diana, and Prince William

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    Africa- A Dream Journey



    I'm not much of a nature girl. I don't like dirt, pollen, plants, or sand. I don't even walk through grass if I have the choice to go around. I do however, LOVE animals. I am that type of animal lover that laughs at talking animal commercials. I'm mesmerized while watching Planet Earth, and I cry- (weep, really) at the soppy animal-inspired movie commercials.

    For most animal lovers, Africa is a dream vacation. I am no exception. I would do almost anything to go to Africa. It has the best animals- Hippos, being my favorite. Tony is not an "Africa" type of guy. He has absolutely NO desire to go, so I'm banking on my sister to be my travel companion. Zero travel arrangements have been made- and realistically I probably won't be going for quite some time.  But I WILL get there. And when I do, it will be incredible.



    Where is your dream vacation spot? 

    Happy New Year!!


    Tony and I had a fantastic New Year's Eve. We left baby Easton with my mom and her good friend Debby, and went to the movies. It was wonderful.

    We also reminisced about last year's New Year's Eve, when we watched the movie "Babies," and decided that 2011 was going to be the year that we would start trying for a babe...not knowing that at that very minute, I was already preg with our fantastic baby boy. 2011 w as a wonderful year. We soaked up our last summer just the two of us, together. Went on a fantastic trip to Washington DC and New York. Tony was given the fabulous task of running Sinnott Elementary, and I (of course) gave birth to our son. We couldn't be happier!

    These are a couple of my 2012 goals:  train for the swimming portion of a triathlon, work to lose the majority of my baby weight, and try one new activity for 30 day periods- my first will be to walk my dog everyday for 30 days.


    Goals are fantastic, but here's the thing- all I ask is that God bless my family. That He keep us healthy, help us to remain joyful even in times of sorrow, and know- that through Him all things are possible.

     2012, there, but for the Grace of God, go I.


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