Friday, July 29, 2011

Slightly Obsessed

Sorry if you're over me yacking about my garden, but we have all really enjoyed our mini crop this year. For a few weeks, we were knee deep in ginormous zucchinis and I had to come up with multiple ways to use them so that we didn't get sick of our supply. Thanks to Pinterest, the possibilities are endless! Just your luck, I'm going to share two of my favorite options for this summer veggie. Warning: not super healthy:)

First, there's baked parmesan zucchini. Though there is a slightly higher fat and sodium content than a so-called "healthy food" in this recipe, I feel like it is great alternative to a "fried" option. You still get the crunchy texture with less badness. That's a word, right? The trick: olive oil spray instead of veggie oil or butter. I used a recipe from The Cottage Home as a basis for the following instructions. She used frozen zucchini. I prefer fresh.

You'll need:
  • olive oil spray
  • one fresh zucchini cut in rounds or "sticks"
  • two eggs whipped up
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs (Japanese style makes them extra crunchy)
  • Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup or a little more)
  • 1/2 TBS Italian seasoning

    What you'll do:
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    2. Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil
    3. Mix up the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning
    4. Dip the zucchini in the egg and then the crumb mixture
    5. Place coated zucchini on baking sheet and then once all zucchini has been coated and placed on sheet, spray again with olive oil spray
    6. Bake zucchini for 5 minutes, flip, and bake for 10 more
    7. Serve immediately with ranch or marinara dip

      Sooooo good. You'll be addicted after one bite. The second thing I concocted with all these wonderful veggies went down a little bit sweeter route.  WhipperBerry blog had the perfect recipe for zucchini bread. It was so good, I'm simply going to give you the link because it needed no alterations in my opinion. I did opt to add cream cheese frosting to one of my loafs because, well, I thought they could be the perfect marriage. And just in case you're wondering, this recipe does make lovely zucchini spice cupcakes.

       *Side note: The bread isn't burnt like it looks. WhipperBerry offered the tip of using cocoa instead of flour to coat the dish before baking. That way, when the bread easily plops out of the dish to serve, it isn't all weird and white. Genius, right?

      Friday, July 22, 2011

      Dave the Builder...

      Can he fix it? YES HE CAN! You are totally lost if you've never watched Disney Playhouse, but I was trying to be funny. There's a show called Bob the Builder and it has a obnoxious lovely theme song. My kids don't like the show, but we see enough of the commercials for it to know the song.

      In continuation of making the back/side yard a play area for the boys, we did some searching to find a playhouse for them. I wanted something a little boyish and I didn't really want the plastic-y look either. Just not my thing. I saw one at Sam's club I really liked but by the time we decided to actually buy it, they were sold out in Charleston. It ended up working out thanks to my awesome in-laws who drove to Beckley, WV to pick up one of the last two cedar chateaus they had in their store. Yay!

      Poor David. It was quite intimidating when he pulled it out of the box. After a few bad moments putting the bay window together, he did a great job constructing the little Chateau. The boys love it and I think it's adorable. Win Win. David had a little helper.
       Tada! His stance makes me laugh. So Rico Suave.
       Believe it or not, we all four got in it at one point. Very special family bonding experience.
       We use the table for lunch almost every day.
       Isn't the little chateau so quaint?
       Welcome. Pajamas only ;)
       Can you tell what I did to "pretty-up" the house? Before.
      Yes! I added flowers to the flower boxes. I let Parker pick them out.
       Such a sweet touch.
       What kind of amenities does this joint have? Well, it has a kitchen complete with a... stove.
      I'd love to say that the boys pretend cook with the dishes I bought them, but I would be lying through my teeth. They laugh hysterically as they throw them out the windows and over the roof. They also like to line them up and beat them like they are drums. I must have forgotten for a minute that I don't have make-believing girls. Their imaginary play comes in the form of running in the house so that T-Rex doesn't get them.
       It also has a sink. One full of dirty dishes. They are getting practice for when they are old enough to clean up after dinner. How old IS that?
       The chateau has great views.
      Between the new sandbox and play house, this summer has been a blast outside for the boys. Yay for them and me! Thanks, David, for building it!

      Tuesday, July 19, 2011


      One of my projects over the weekend was a last minute cake request from someone who works with my husband. I love to bake. When I try new recipes or just make something for the family, I always send the left overs to work with David so that they are not left here in my home for temptation, if you know what I mean. It's good marketing. I'm one of those bakers that can usually figure out how to make something taste really good after a few trials, but I can't always promise the goods are going to be pretty. Pretty takes practice, or a class. Anyway, I got a inquiry from a lady needing a "tuna fish" cake. Her husband has a nick name from catching a big tuna, so she wanted a cake with a tuna on it for his 40th birthday party. Random, but I like a challenge. This is what I came up with after looking at pictures of blue fin tunas. There were lots of flaws in the finished product, but I was a little short on time and I still have questions as to how to do a few things. Thanks, Jessica, for asking me and for giving me more practice :)

      Monday, July 18, 2011

      strangely dim

      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.

      This is the chorus of a song written by Helen Lemmel in 1922. Sometimes I wonder if she struggled with some of the same stuff as I do. Maybe not, but her lyrics provide huge inspiration for refocusing on purpose. I easily get anxiety over certain things in this world that don't really matter. I try not to. I know in reality what my house looks like won't affect eternity, yet I stress. I know that my kids not getting involved in every activity won't change who they are, yet I stress. I know that visiting every country and/or city and being uber "cultured" won't matter a bit in the end, yet my pride allows me to focus on this and stress. I seem to find a way of taking the joys and pleasures of this life that I truly believe God gave us as gifts and turning them into stressors.

      I love this song, as old as it is, because it says so much in nearly four lines. It quickly reminds me of who I live for and helps me re-prioritize my life...again and again. My stress begins to lesson and I focus on what matters and allow those things I love to correctly take their position as pleasures, not anxiety-causing burdens. Relief. I wish I didn't have to constantly remind myself, but I'm human, American at that, and the "extras" of life are so amply available to me. I am thankful, but I WILL turn my eyes to the one who gives me real life, and life more abundantly.

      This little man bringing me a flower does not stress me out. ;)
      Parker turned 4 yesterday!!! I can't believe it. We will be celebrating with friends and family in a few weeks, but I'll post our actually birthday fun later this week when I have time ;) Enjoy your week!

      Thursday, July 14, 2011

      Now I lay me down to sleep...

      Sometimes I let Parker sleep in my bed for nap time. Okay, let me rephrase that. Sometimes I let Parker lounge in my room for nap time while Graham sleeps in their shared room. About six months ago, Parker gave up his nap time. I wasn't quite ready for him to give it up, so I still make him take one hour of "quiet time" everyday. The rules: he can read or play with one toy quietly in bed. I add time if he gets loud or gets out of bed for any reason other than to pee. (Hard ball, I know.) It's just important for me to have a half time during the game day. Ever so often, He'll actually fall asleep. One day a few weeks ago, I walked in my room to this. It's looks as though he fell asleep praying.
       I covered him up after snapping a few shots. (I couldn't help myself-it was so cute!) After realizing how adorable his little folded hands were, I looked at the bigger picture going on in my bed. The "Aw" inducing picture became hilarious. T-Rex...oh, T-Rex. You're everywhere. Please don't eat my little boy.

      Tuesday, July 12, 2011

      Black Bean Pie

      I'm constantly looking for ways to make meals that don't include meat. Organic meat is pricey and when there are so many options for protein, why settle for only meat? I repinned this recipe from Pinterest and tried it last week. 
      Quick, simple, and delicious. Thanks goes to Martha. Figures right? For the complete recipe, go here.
      I opted to not use the chili pepper because I needed two little mouths to enjoy it and instead of canned beans, I presoaked a bag of black beans. Instead of 8 oz of cheese, I use 6 (it's all I had). It tuned out so delicious. Next time, I want to add a little chili powder for a slight kick (less than I would get with a fresh green chili), guacamole for texture and flavor, and possibly a diced green or yellow pepper to complement the concoction.

      Enjoy! What have you been cooking the fam lately?

      Monday, July 11, 2011

      WV picnic

      One of my favorite things about summer is the quantity of time that I can spend outdoors with my boys. I've never really been the "sit indoors" kind of girl and I highly doubt any of my children will be either. Thus, winter is rough. Extra rough. Coming from Florida, where outdoors is uncomfortably cold maybe one month a year, it's difficult to get cooped up for 4-5 months at a time.

      The summer's constant outdoor activity causes two major things: dirty boys and a dirty house. I clean. I really do. But when all of us constantly come in and out, my floors become a disaster in no time flat. I mind, yes, but not enough to stop the fun that is causing the mess. 

      One way of limiting muddy footprints and sand from covering my entire kitchen is to eat lunch outside. Now, I don't mean I find a cute quilt, wooden picnic basket, and red gingham napkins before frolicking off the the perfect shade tree. I grab the closest grubby blanket and toss it under the oak next to our house. This way, the boys can go outside and stay there from 10:00 until 1:00 when they come in, take a bath, and go down for quiet time/naps. Less traffic = less nasty. 

      One "Picnic" last week.
      -Whole wheat bread with strawberry cream cheese
      -Yellow pepper with ranch dip
      Do you see the amount of sand on his tummy? It so nicely mixed with the slobber.
      Don't mind the scratch on the side of his face. He bit the pavement when his legs wouldn't go as fast as his head.
       Peppers are so temptingly shaped like swords.
      "Look, mommy, no hands." That's Graham's current philosophy on life. The more things he can do with "no hands" the his opinion.
      He got more water on himself than in himself, but he really needed to be a big boy like his brother and not use a sippy cup.
      Graham was over his lunch and his water was gone. Next logical thing for him? Smash all the rest of the food into the green cup. That will be fun. Brother tattles.
      Oops, mommy. 
      I sorry.
      Big brother enjoys someone else getting into trouble for once.
      He didn't want to hear his mommy scorn him. He got it anyway.
      Life is good. And so was the quiet time that followed our nice West Virginia picnic.