Thursday, June 28, 2012

Teacher Tom: Watching Television is Relaxing

Wow. My two year old is a big fan "Bubble Guppies" and "Caillou" and I truthfully haven't thought a whole lot about how much she watches. After stumbling across this article, we will be spending today outside. Not that I think her tv intake is doing any harm, but I do agree with Tom that playing outdoors allows kids to use their imagination and creativity in ways much more productive than sitting in front of the boob tube. This entire blog is definitely something worth checking out.

Teacher Tom: Watching Television Is Relaxing

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

10 Habits to Strengthen your Relationship with your Child-- a wonderful read for every parent

This article is so true, and beautifully written. 900 weeks is all we have to enjoy our little one's childhood, let's make the most of it. They grow up WAY too fast.....

10 Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Charlotte's Birthday Fete- The Results

We did it. We turned out a beautiful second birthday party for my angelface. To refresh you, it was a hot air balloon theme with a rainbow color scheme. I used my Cricut to make the decorations on the bar.
The weather ended up perfect, (dispite earlier unpleasant weather reports), the food was enjoyed, and the kids had a blast.

The balloon banner was more difficult than I had anticipated...I used this to make it-
The fact that I purchased a helium tank without actually needing one to make the banner was slightly annoying, and some of the balloons that came free with the tank ended up being differently colored than they looked before time I make a banner, my lungs can do the job of filling the balloons and I'll choose the balloon colors myself. I used about 40 balloons to make this one. So my perfectly colored rainbow balloon banner (ya know, ROYGBIV) wasn't the color scheme I had pictured, but it was still pretty cute. (My adorable grandparents and Dad's head also happen to be included in the pic) .

A big hit were the veggie cups- instead of arranging veggies on a tray with dip to spoon onto your plate, I placed an array of veggies in a cup, with homemade ranch dressing in the bottom of each cup. I thought it made for a much easier way of serving, and it seemed unanimous with the guests. 
 The mini-hot air balloons contained
 baskets of multi-grain pretzel nuggets and sweet & spicy pecans from Trader Joe's.
Bought the rainbow-colored hanging lanterns at Party City.

Inside, I made rainbow streamer banners to accent the theme.

The Menu (excuse the few typos, I re-printed it before the party but forgot to re-take a pic) 

Rainbow swirl lollipop favors for the kiddos--
bought the suckers from Oriental Trading & made the stickers on Microsoft Publisher.

Mommy and her birthday munchkin

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pasta Salad Heaven

The smell of charcoal is in the air...yep, it's barbeque season! One of the most enjoyable times of the year. And a yummy side dish that absolutely has to be included on every
 bbq menu is pasta salad.

Sunday night, I had made vegetable radiatore with a simple garlic butter to go with the chicken breasts
we had grilled for dinner. The breasts were marinated in a union of
olive oil, garlic, white wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, & dried herbs
 before getting grilled outside by Mr. Whitney.
Italian word for “radiators,” radiatore are short, chunky pasta shapes about 1 inch by 1/2 inch,
with ruffled ridges that radiate out. One of the more elegant pasta shapes, they look great
sauced or in casseroles, salads and soups.  
Of course, there were leftovers which I promptly stashed in the fridge.  I'd been wanting to wait until mid-week to hit up our local TJ's for a grocery run, so on Monday I browsed thru the freezer, fridge, and cupcoard for ideas on what to make for dinner. Besides having had a rough weekend and still being exhausted, Spence was working late so it was just munchkin and I. After realizing the sparcity that was my shelves, I decided to use up the leftover grilled chicken and cooked radiatore to create a phenomenal pasta salad.

First, I made my dressing. I never purchase salad dressing, EVER. Not only is it the most simple thing to make, but after I read on the label of Hidden Valley Ranch that it contains msg, (amongst many other preservatives) I vowed to never again buy a bottle. I keep a jar of oil & vinegar blended with spices (fresh garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, black pepper, sea salt)  in my fridge and use it all the time for various dishes. For this salad, I started by pouring about a 1/3c. of my O&V over my cold radiatore. I also made a quarter cup of buttermilk (by adding a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to whole milk) and threw that in as well. My pasta had been kind of stuck together from the cooled garlic butter sauce but after a brisk stirring, it separated nicely. I then chopped up my grilled chicken and tossed that in. Now for the veggies- a few celery stalks, a couple carrots, half a red bell pepper, and half a yellow bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces. Almost an entire can (all but a small handful) of black olives, chopped. Combine the veggies with the pasta and chicken. Now my most favorite pasta salad in the world is made by my aunt, whose secret ingredient I learned a few years back. A spice blend by McCormack called Salad Supreme. I didn't know exactly what was in it, but I was confidant that I could concoct a spice mix just as satisfying to the tastebuds. A sprinkling of onion powder, paprika, sesame & poppy seeds, red pepper, and a half cup of grated parmesan cheese, and a tasty imposter was conceived. After blending all that in, I threw in a few fresh basil leaves from my herb garden and we produced an ultimately tempting treat for the pasta salad lover.

I love coming up with something appetizing using leftovers or ingredients I had on hand. Plus, my two-year old gobbled this up like no other, which in my book, is a winning recipe worth keeping around!