Sweet Potato Saturdays.

We’re falling into a nice routine with our autumn Saturday mornings that I could certainly get used to. The temperatures have been lovely and everyone seems to have calmed from the frenzy of summertime. For the second Saturday in a row, the girls have both slept in which has been a pleasant surprise each morning.

We picked up our CSA share and let the girls play for a bit while we chatted with other members and swapped recipe ideas. Our share this week is more or less identical to last week’s with the addition of some turnip greens and less the cucumber. Adding another eight pounds of sweet potatoes has necessitated some culinary creativity by yours truly.

After a short nap by the little one (this is day two without her pacifier and she’s still a bit shell-shocked, I think), J asked me if it would be alright if he took the girls outside to play while he did yard work.  I laughed in his face.  Would it be alright? Uh, yes. Please, proceed if you must. Somehow I’ll handle a few hours of silence with a kitchen full of goods practically begging to be prepared.

Commence cooking!

I love coming home and sorting through our CSA veggies. I feel like I’m a contestant on Iron Chef and I just discovered this week’s secret ingredients.

With a fresh bag of arugula, I found this recipe as inspiration for tonight’s dinner. The biggest, and I think best, change I made to the recipe was adding roasted sweet potatoes. I tossed them in 2 tablespoons coconut oil and added in thyme, sea salt and black pepper then roasted them on a foil-lined sheet at 350° for 20 minutes. Their creamy and savory flavor balanced the peppery taste of the arugula.

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This moment. {9.28.12}

I’m joining SouleMama for {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Another Random Wednesday Update.

It feels like the hours are dragging but the days are passing by too quickly. Our Sundays are filled with church and family time, Mondays belong to preschool, Tuesday’s highlight is soccer and Wednesday we’re back to preschool. Next thing I know, we’re rounding out the week into the weekend and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. So settle in for another edition of Random Wednesday Update.

After Monday’s freak out, Tuesday was much calmer. I think it’s wonderful that after an incredibly crummy day, God sometimes blesses me with an incredibly calm one the next day. Not always, but sometimes. And I’ll take that. I went back to the doctor on Tuesday for my blood draw and not only was I in and out quickly, they were gracious enough to not mention the previous day’s lid-flipping. Since the girls were at mom’s morning out for a few hours, I made use of the free time with a game I like to play called “pretend we have money and go try on clothes we can’t afford.” It’s a really fun game until I actually find something I like and have to put it back on the rack. Womp, womp, womp. Savannah finally caught up to the 2000s and opened a Kohl’s last weekend so I brought up myself up to speed on what the rest of America’s soccer moms are working with. I finished out the morning with lunch with J sans kiddos (weee!) and then everyone took a nap. Except J, who insists they expect him to go back to work after lunch. Pssssht.

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I yelled at someone today.

Have you ever noticed that the more you try and accomplish a goal, the greater the opposition trying not to just knock you down, but push you back farther from where you once began?

In this simple life of ours, I make it a point to try and be plain old nice to people. I smile at cashiers and say thank you. I make eye contact and treat people with respect. I suppose this stems from my brief stint in retail during college. I couldn’t – and still can’t – believe how mean people can be to the most random and undeserving folks. I understand that everyone has a bad day but it isn’t an excuse to take it out on people unrelated to your stressors. I have pretty high tolerance for annoyance and can usually muster at least a neutral reaction even if I’m seriously peeved. But today, my crazy cup runneth over and I snapped.

I recently decided that as an adult, I should find a primary care doctor. Just in case I find the time to get sick this winter, you know, in my free time. I found a doc I liked and she requested some routine blood work since I haven’t been to the doctor in years. I set an appointment for early this morning to get stuck.

The appointment was for 8:15 and I figured this would give me loads of time to get myself and both girls into the office, have the labs drawn, load everyone back in the car and get E to preschool by 9 a.m. I woke up at 6:15, get bags and backpacks loaded, sippy cups filled and the girls’ breakfasts ready so we can hustle out the door by 7:55. I loaded the double stroller in the car and stuck some lollipops in the back for bribery. I was prepared.

Did I mention I had to fast? No breakfast but more importantly, no coffee. No good.

I really don’t know how I failed to foresee the impending disaster.

Surprisingly, we got to the office on time and I started to unload the girls when I noticed a slight problem – there were parking barriers in front of the sidewalk that were placed too close to squeeze the stroller through. That, and the sidewalk in front of the building was about 6″ high with no handicap accessibility in sight. Shoot. No problem, I thought, and carried the stroller onto the sidewalk and loaded in B. Then I realized there was another 6″ high ledge to get through the very, very narrow front door. Shoot.

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Fall CSA: Week 1.

This morning was wonderful. First of all, the girls both slept until 8 a.m. 8 a.m.! It may as well have been noon. Not waking before sunrise for the first time in ages felt simply incredible. Secondly, today was our first pick up with Urbanna Farm’s fall CSA. Locally grown vegetables by familiar hands – we are quite blessed. The weather at the park was a perfectly cool 74° to welcome the first day of fall.

After greeting old friends and meeting new friends, I picked up the produce while J let the girls play at the playground. We came home with eggplant, patty pan squash, a few tomatoes, arugala, banana peppers, cucumber, bell peppers and a whopping 8 pounds of sweet potatoes. Aren’t they all beautiful?

Now my task for the remainder of the day is figuring out a menu that not just uses these goodies, but does so in a way that minimizes waste while maximizing the use of our very small fridge. I need to prioritize and plan to use the most perishable items sooner and save the more sturdy ones for later in the week (despite how badly I want to get my hands on that squash).

So, here’s the game plan.

Because I have a baguette that desperately needs to be used, tonight I’ll make bruschetta using the green peppers, some banana peppers, tomatoes and Kelsey D’s giardiniera. I’ll fix up a salad using the cucumber and radishes. Tomorrow, I’m planning to use the arugala for this green pizza recipe from Eating Well. I’m undecided on how to use the squash and sweet potatoes but have some tasty ideas in mind.

I’m completely baffled on what to do with the eggplant.  In the past, I’ve tossed it in balsamic vinegar and oil and roasted it. It was good but with five eggplants to use, I think I need some versatility.

What your favorite eggplant recipe? Is it best grilled, fried or baked? 

A Parenting SOS.

See this sweet face?

That face, dear readers, is drama incarnate. The perfect personification of all things tear-, tantrum- and guilt-related.

Mommy guilt, that is.

Here’s the rundown. B cannot stand to be left alone with anyone except J, a few family members (after a few days of warming up) and two close family friends. She absolutely detests the church nursery, gym child watch and gets nervous when she even thinks there is a possibility I may be dropping her off somewhere. We’ve been consistent. We go to the same church service with the same familiar and friendly faces every week. Girl just doesn’t like anyone except her Momma.

This started when she was about 6 months old and, looking back, when her food allergies with bad and ear infections were the norm. So I coddled her. If she cried, I scooped her up and we left. As I should have – she was in pain and uncomfortable and needed her Momma. But I still tried to leave her a few times a week at church or the gym until it was clear she wasn’t going to calm herself and needed me.

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Butternut Squash Soup.

If fashion can have “hot” colors for the season, I find it to be perfectly logical that a kitchen can have “it” vegetables for a season. I’m making a bold statement and declaring butternut squash to be the hottest vegetable for autumn.

Wow, that sounds incredibly lame.

And yet it’s so true. When wracking my brain for tasty and seasonal meal ideas, I keep going back to this flavorful, colorful and versatile fall squash. It’s made its appearance on our table on several occasions this year and it’s only mid-September. We are such fans, our fall garden even has it’s own row of butternut squash.

Far and away my favorite butternut squash dinner is butternut squash soup with apples and carrots served with a hunk of crusty, soft-centered bread. I’ve been experimenting with the basic 5 minute artisan bread recipe with moderate success. The loaves taste great but aren’t looking very pretty.

Back to the recipe at hand.

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Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Carrots

– 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs), peeled, seeded and chopped
– 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
– 1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
– 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
– 2 TBSP oil (EVOO or coconut)
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder OR 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1/2 tsp salt
–  5 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp cayenne powder (optional)

In a stockpot, saute the squash, carrots and onion in the oil until onion becomes translucent. Add salt, garlic and apple. Saute another 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low boil, cover. Cook until vegetables are soft, approximately 20 minutes. Using a blender, puree the soup in batches (an immersion blender can also be used). Return to the pot, stir in nutmeg and cayenne (if desired). Keep warm until ready to serve. Garnish with additional nutmeg.

I’ve made this recipe both using the cayenne and omitting. I tend to get a bit spice-happy with the cayenne so taste it as you add because it has some kick. With or without, it’s delicious.

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Running on Steam.

I’ve sat down to write 10 different posts 20 different times but, darn it, life just keeps happening. A toddler shellacked with a thick layer of (expensive) diaper ointment by her older sister. A toddler getting whacked in the face with the broom by their older sister. A toddler and her older sister conspiring to climb on top of tables to get the cereal on the far reaches of the counter. Notice any patterns?

These past few weeks have been tough on the girls and me. J has been working extra hours and weekends, traveling and being generally stressed about the job. This means more solo parenting for moi. This new not-a-routine routine is throwing the girls out of whack and it’s like a full-moon falling on Friday the Thirteenth every single day.

Yesterday, we thought it would be nice to catch up and spend some quality family time together. We played hooky from church and went to one of my favorite lakes/playgrounds/running spots to get the girls outside in the sunshine and fresh air.  We did a few miles before letting the girls out to play and feed the 500 birds that were lounging around in the shade.

 

The ducks were fed, the girls had fun, I had a good run and we went home, The End.

I wish.

I had a simply terrible run. My legs felt like telephone poles and I couldn’t find a good rhythm. It was terribly humid and after 3 miles, I was done. The girls did have a blast at the playground but the hit was definitely feeding the ducks and geese. But when the bread was gone and we couldn’t stand the blazing sun any longer, it was time to go home. Commence Tantrum 2012.

Now, E knows how to throw a tantrum. We’ve had some good ones in the past. But yesterday’s tantrum was far and away the “best” yet. It was so bad, I’m certain that all the onlookers thought there was something behavioral or mentally wrong with my child. There were kicks and screams and spit and tears. This girl is 3. I thought we were over the worst of it. Apparently there were other ducks that didn’t get any bread and that didn’t sit well with this girl.

A daddy-talk and some discipline later, it was over and we were in the car finally on our way home. Never to return again. And now I need to find a new running spot.

This is a season of life, yes? It will get better, surely? Because we’re running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace and I’m so.so.so.tired.

On a positive note, I have some yummy recipes coming your way and much more upbeat posts coming very soon.  Assuming no one gets shellacked in the meantime.

This moment. {9.14.12}

I’m joining SouleMama for {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Identity.

E started preschool on Monday.

Well, technically, it’s considered a “parents’ morning out” program but in my book, being away from mommy in a school setting + a set curriculum = preschool. So, she started preschool on Monday.

Day 2. This girl has a style all of her own. She also thinks every morning has a photo shoot before school.

I had been waiting for that day for over a year. We talked about sending her to a program for 2-year-olds after B was born since life was so crazy and E wasn’t having as many playdates and playmates and needed some structure. We were this.close. to signing her up but I chickened out because in the end, she was still a baby and I wanted her home with me. And I’m glad we waited. But this year, the time felt right. She needs to learn to listen to authority and how to better handle transitioning between activities.

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