Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Look what this girly girl got... !

With my stomach in knots, I loaded the girls into the car yesterday and headed to Stonecrest's Claire's. I've been wanting earrings for Izzy for 1 year now, and Daddy finally agreed. He didn't want her to look "grown up" too soon, so I had to waaaaaaaait. The day came for earrings, and I was so nervous. I thought she'd have a meltdown or something would go wrong.

Before we left, I showed Izzy my earrings and then let her look at her ears in a hand-mirror. I gave her lobe a tiny pinch, and told her it would hurt a little. Izzy was pretty serious in the store, and she got a little clingy when the lady put her gloves on... guess it reminded her of the doctor. ;) I sat on the chair with Izzy in my arms. After lots of cleaning, the gun was held up and a split second later the earring was in... WHAHHHHH! Izzy cried out, but as soon as the antiseptic was put on, she calmed right down. I was still nervous--how was the NEXT one gonna go? Many comforting and encouraging words about Izzy being a big girl and a quick hug given, and we were ready for round 2. It couldn't have gone better. She was sooo still, cried out for a few seconds, and calmed down. Looking in the mirror was fun, but the lollipop was the best. ;) Izzy looked in the mirror three times, and after everything was cleaned up, she was dancing around the store! I couldn't believe it!

Side note: Izzy's lobes are two very differnt sizes! I've never looked at them both head on, but when we were making sure the marker dots were level, it was quite clear that one is much bigger than the other. Ha!

I told her before hand that we'd go eat chicken after getting her new earrings, so the three of us stopped at Chick-fil-a. I haven't been there in a long while... yum! Izzy was adorable pointing to her ears and pointing to her chicken with a big smile. I was so proud of her. If she wasn't before, she is now a GIRLY GIRL!!!

Click on the pics below if you want to blow them up to see that little white gold stud:

What a sassy little diva look that first picture captured!

Sooo happy with her SWEET TEA. What a treat! Hairbow, new snowman necklace from Lynne, IZZY bracelet, and earrings now!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pretzels... Healthy vs. Not-So-Healthy

Ok, so if you've been a faithful reader of my family chronicles, you'll have noticed that I like to cook with healthy ingredients. And... if you know ME, you'll know that I love foods that taste scrumptious. I've posted some recipes that are both tasty and healthier. Well, I'm going to break that trend for today. You've seen in the pictures above that Izzy and I attempted to make some soft pretzels on Monday while Uncle Jordan was here finishing up some school work in between his college classes. I thought that the cheddar whole wheat healthy soft pretzels that we made were good, maybe just fine, but they were good with the spicy mustard. HOWEVER... I still wanted to see if I could make Auntie Anne's style pretzels. I went out and bought the bread flour yesterday, made the second kind of pretzels with my girls today, and I was in not-so-healthy heaven this afternoon! So was Izzy. I like making tasty healthy meals, but I think I'm just going to stick to a not-so-healthy recipe for soft pretzels. ;) Maybe this could be a once-a-year special recipe for a birthday or a Christmas day afternoon snack.

Clara and "Baby" were in on the action today:

Cool picture, huh?
Mmmmmmm, here they are: (On the left-cinnamon sugar, On the right-garlic parmesan)
Soft Pretzels
Serves: 8-12, Prep. Time: 2:00
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast 1/2 tsp. brown sugar 1 dash salt 1 1/2 cups 110 degree water 4 cups bread flour 1 Tbls. baking soda 1/4 cup warm water 1 cup melted real butter toppings (see Notes, below)
*This is the original recipe. I halved it, and I got 5 pretzels out of it.

-Combine first 4 ingredients; allow to rest for 5 minutes.-Stir flour to mixture and knead for 5 minutes.-Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.-Divide dough into 8-12 equal-size pieces; roll each piece into a rope; shape each rope into a pretzel.-In a shallow dish, stir baking soda into warm water; dip pretzels into mixture (or brush mixture over pretzels); lay coated pretzel onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.-Bake in a 450 degree oven for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.-Brush melted butter onto hot pretzels.
Notes: For salted pretzels, sprinkle with pretzel salt or Kosher salt. For cinnamon-sugar pretzels, stir 2 Tbls. honey into the melted butter before brushing on pretzels, then sprinkle with a mixture of 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon. For Parmesan pretzels, sprinkle with a mixture of 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp. garlic salt; serve with marinara sauce.

Out and About With My Girls

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is next week and then Christmas is just around the corner. Well, I thought it'd be fun to take Izzy to the Southern Christmas Show for a little outting. It's basically a huge, huge craft fair, and these are not just any 'ol crafts. My friend from church, Christy, so kindly sent me some tickets worth $9/ea (thank you!), and my mother-in-law joined us for the morning. I didn't go last year, but I've gone all the other years I've been here in Charlotte. Went one year with Maggie, one year with Tess, and one year by myself. This year, I had lots of company. ;) Usually, Izzy loves riding in her stroller, but she prefered walking and being c a r r i e d since she missed her morning nap. Well, I guess she did ride in it some while eating her goldfish. I dressed her in one of her Christmas dresses, and I personally thought she looked so cute. I think Clara enjoyed all the bright lights everywhere, and I know that the vendors and shoppers all loved when she smiled at them. We got home just in time for some lunch and afternoon naptime.
Izzy liked seeing anything with dogs on it, and even got a free candy necklace from one of the vendors.

Checking out the deer display...

Friday, November 13, 2009

She's balding... at 3 months

Clara is 3 months old today! Nooooooooooooooooooooo! Way too fast.

I do love seeing her daily changes, and she has the sweetest disposition and endearing smile. Both Izzy as an infant and now Clara have had eyes that smile. Their whole faces light up and change when smiling.

I've been wondering if Clara's crazy dark hair would fall out like Izzy's dark hair did, and it is in full swing. At first, I was disappointed that she started losing it since it had gotten kinda long, but now I'm interested to see what color it turns over the course of the next few months.

Bacon & Bread & Make Believe

Ok, so I found a great recipe and a helpful cooking tip!

I was making this good chicken for dinner last night, and I found a tip that I have to share. I don't like to cook bacon, cause I hate getting splashed with grease. I needed bacon for this chicken dish, and the author explained how to get great bacon that is flat and not all shriveled. Line a baking sheet with foil, then place a cookie cooling rack on top of the foil lined sheet. Lay the bacon on the cooling rack, and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, depends on how crisp you want it. It doesn't splatter much at all in the oven cause the grease is dripping down into the foil lined pan, and you don't have to watch it or flip it. Best of all, it tastes exactly the same but is totally flat! Try it.
I also made some potatoes from that same blog, and if my brother-in-law wants second helpings, then I know it's good. PHEW. I made them with low-fat ingredients since it's not exactly a low-fat dish.

One more thing, you have to try this bread from this blog! I don't like to try breads that take a long time to make, but this one was EASY. It took time, but it wasn't hard at all. It's supposed to be a copy cat of the bread from Macaroni Grill, and it's the only time that I like rosemary--usually, it's too strong for my tastes.
Bread from Macaroni Grill
1 Tbsp. Dry Yeast (you'll need two packets of yeast)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
2 ½ cups white flour, divided
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. rosemary, chopped (I used about a tablespoon of dried rosemary, and it worked great.)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
Coarsely ground salt
Put the yeast, water and sugar into a blender. Mix it until it is frothy. (I used a hand blender that I bought for making Izzy's babyfood awhile back.) Turn the oven onto 200°. (You just need to warm it up; you’re not baking yet.)

To the mixing bowl of yeast mixture, add two cups of the flour, salt, and half of your chopped rosemary. Keep the other half cup of flour close at hand. Knead the dough for a few minutes. Add the rest of the flour as needed to get the dough to the right consistency (soft and stretchy without being overly sticky). I only needed a little bit more flour, like a small handful. Turn the oven off.
Lift the dough out of the mixing bowl. Add the olive oil to a bowl and swirl it around. Roll the dough in the olive oil so it is well coated and let it sit in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and place it in the oven (the oven should be off by now, if you missed that step). Leave the door cracked so it isn’t too hot in there.Let the dough rise for about an hour. It should be approximately doubled in size.
Take dough out of oven, turn oven back on to 200 F. Punch the dough down and knead it again. Divide it into two equal sized lumps and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. (Don't just make one loaf--it's easier to cut the two smaller loaves in the end.) Turn oven off again. Prepare your baking pan. I use a ceramic stone, but a cookie sheet will work. If the surface is not naturally non-stick, spray it with the cooking spray, or use parchment paper. Shape the dough into two oval-shaped loaves and arrange on the pan. Melt the butter or margarine. Use a brush to paint the surface of the loaves with butter. Use all of the butter. The loaves will be quite saturated when you’re done. Take the rest of the chopped rosemary and sprinkle it over the loaves. Pat it down gently to set it into the dough. Return the loaves to the oven. Don’t turn it on yet. Let the dough rise again, for about 45 minutes.
Remove the loaves and preheat the oven to 450°. Sprinkle a little bit of coarse salt over the loaves (see my pic--I used sea salt). Return the dough to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until light brown--mine only needed 15 minutes till it was brown, so adjust time according to your oven. Makes two loaves. Best enjoyed dipped in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic. We didn't have any left over after dinner with 5 adults and 4 kids. Well, there were 6 kids, but 2 weren't eating bread... ;)
After dinner, Cora, Mary Grace, and Dorn taught Izzy how to "play" with her fake food. It was pretty cute. She just hadn't figured it out, even when I would try to play with her.
Yes, she took off her pants for the evening.
This morning, she is in a different red shirt (the previous one has a snowman and this one has a butterfly on it). Yes, I do like red and do dress my child in clean clothes--even if she doesn't wear pants when guests come over. Anyhow, I know she understood what the kids were teaching her, cause she played with her corn on the cob and even fed a spoonful of corn on the cob (how do you get a spoonful of that?) to Lamby, of course!

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks...

From reading blogs to discussions with other moms, I have been thinking on the importance of memorizing Scripture over the last year. Then this week, a blog that I often read by Ann Voskamp, had a wonderful entry about it. This author has a way with words that is sooo natural to her and makes reading her blog so intriguing. I also watched the J. Piper clips that she included, and the second one just made me want so badly to be able to do what he did! How rich our lives would be if full books could flow out of our hearts and minds... I had never thought about why it's important to memorize full books. Here is one exerpt from a link that was on her blog entry:

"But memorizing entire books verse by verse enables the person to go easily from the "trees to the forest" and back again. This person will be able to tell you the overall flow of the book of Galatians, for example, as well as how each paragraph fits into this flow, and how each verse contributes to each paragraph. Thus, there is far less likelihood of taking verses out of context when entire books are memorized."

If you look at that link, it's a PDF that gives really practical steps on how to memorize full books, how to have a goal, how to give yourself a little room for missing a day, how to keep that Scripture in your long-term memory, etc. A lot of work, but very, very BENEFICIAL work, I'd say.

I want to be able to help others and have better things to say when they are in need... and what do they say, "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."

I hope that you are encouraged--if not by my words, then by Ann Voskamp's.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spaghetti Squash!

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Ground Turkey and Veggies

I thought this was sooo good! Here's a pic of the baked casserole before I put the last layer of cheese on it.
1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
1 pound ground turkey with Italian seasoning
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (smaller-sized) red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles)

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place squash on a baking sheet, and bake 40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, cool, and shred pulp with a fork (that's the fun part!). Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a casserole dish. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground turkey with green pepper, red pepper, red onion, and garlic. Drain and return to skillet. Mix the shredded squash and tomatoes into the skillet, and season with oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until heated through. Remove skillet from heat, and mix in 2 cups cheese until melted. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, and continue baking 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Notes: If you don't like spicy, use Italian diced tomatoes instead of the Rotel. If your husband doesn't like too many veggies, then use a little less bell peppers. :) Otherwise, even my picky husband thought the dinner was good. It was fun hearing him say that he liked it, even though he thought there were too many peppers. I mean, Justin liked SPAGHETTI SQUASH!!! YAY!

My Little Lovie

Clara is on her schedule: wake up, eat, play, sleep. She could be the perfect example for Babywise. She doesn't care to sleep in arms much anymore, and only sometimes will sleep in her carseat. She's quite predictable, and she loves to sleep in her crib (or anything bed-oriented: moses basket, pack n play, etc.) sucking on that right thumb. I did go to the grocery store the other day, and she was facing outward in the carrier that I wear completely sacked out. Usually, though, she prefers to sleep laying down. I love her being on a schedule, and we just plan our days around the girls' sleeping schedules. We do a lot of our erranding just as soon as we've eaten lunch. Skipping naps or having shortened naps=children that are not too fun to be around. She's also finally started sleeping like Izzy, about 12 hours give or take a little. She'd been stuck around 8 hours for quite a few weeks, but I think that's over now. I enjoy getting my exercise done in the morning before she's up!

I needed to move the laundry over, so Clara was laid into Izzy's laundry basket... look at this sweet little girl and her smile. (If you click on the pic, it should get bigger.)
Proof of the thumb!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fillin' you in...

Ok, so I better fill you in on our weekend. Justin lined up a babysitter for Izzy for Friday evening, and when he got home to take me out, he had bought me these flowers. They are extra special casue they are the first flowers, if I'm remembering correctly, that are not roses. I love the red sunflowers and orange lillies in the bunch. When Justin took me out on our very first date, we ended up going to City Tavern in Stonecrest (we love it there), but his original plan was to go to Firebirds. That particular night, the line was super long, so we never ate there. Finally, after being married over three years, we made it to Firebirds. It's a restaurant that uses a wood-fired grill to give us a taste of Colorado. I must brag on my little Clarabelle. She sat in her carrier on the table looking at us and not making a peep the whole entire time. Once again, we got to have a "date night" and didn't have to quiet her or hold her... all thanks to her new habit: THUMB SUCKING. She MUST be MY little girl. The paci is almost 100% retired. (Weird, cause Izzy stopped her paci at 3 mo, too.) Back, to Firebirds--we got STEAK and loaded baked potatoes (Justin got shrimp, too). That meal is sooo not on my healthy eating menus, but when I'm going out for a nice dinner, I'm so going to get something I want and don't get to each much. Just to top off the healthy eating, we shared a big brownie with salted caramel sauce and vanilla icecream. What a great meal, and the time together just talking was rejuvinating, as always.

On Saturday morning, I hopped in my car with Naphtali and our two babies to go to a craft show. I didn't know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. I took forever with my indecisiveness in picking out more hairbows for the girls, of course. Angie is always so patient waiting for me to choose--if only she didn't have tons of options to choose from! Well, Izzy wanted to wear them all... I am most excited about buying a handmade wooden train for Izzy. It's unfinished wood, so I am going to stain it before her birthday. I know she's going to love driving it all around our first floor on the hardwoods. Plus, it will be a wonderful heirloom toy that we can pass down. Can you believe that in one month from today, Izzy will be TWO!??? On the way home, Naph and I were "blessed" to listen to a duet by Clara and Ella Grace. Clara doesn't cry too much, but when she wants to be in her crib, she makes it well known. If you want to hear 41 seconds of the duet, check out this blog:

Saturday afternoon, I ran around like crazy trying to finish a b-day gift for Justin's dad and making a squash casserole. Justin worked on the grass in our yard with Izzy all morning, but he ran some errands for me in the afternoon even though he was tired. <3

To anyone who actually reads this blog: Hope you have a productive week and stay healthy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Love me some baby smiles and coos

Clara's starting to "talk" a lot these days, and she especially loooooves when Izzy is in front of her. I get so mushy when I watch Izzy lovin' on her "Ca" (pronounced rhyming with "Ma").