Saturday, October 23, 2010

Days of Play--An Apple a Day

So the old saying is that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.  I don't doubt the nutritious benefits of apples (after all, they are my all-time favorite fruit) but I whole-heartedly believe that laughter is the best medicine.  And what can make you laugh more than your little children?!?!

Today, take a "health" day today and have laugh with the "apple" of your eye.

Is there an apple orchard near by?  Go pick some apples.

No orchard?  Try a farmers market or the grocery store.

Look at the apples.  Discuss the color with your kids.  Maybe get 2-3 different kinds/colors and discuss the colors, tastes, and textures.

Photo from Martha Stewart


When you are done discussing apples, make an apple craft.

I suggest apple print bags.

You will need:

paper lunch sacks
knife (only adults should handle knives)
red, green, and yellow paints
newspapers
art smocks

What to do:
  1. Lay down newspaper on the work area.
  2. Put kids in art smocks.
  3. Cut the apples--in half long ways or around (around makes a star)
  4. Lightly paint the apple or dip in paint
  5. Print it onto a bag.
  6. Let dry.


Now what will you do with all those delightful little bags?

Well, fill them with goodies and take them to neighbors, of course!


I suggest Caramel Apples because the apple would fit so nicely in one of the sacks and they are fun to make (click here to make these wonder"fall" caramel apples).

Photo from A Little Tipsy


Friday, October 22, 2010

Date Night In--Twilight

My sister's sixth wedding anniversary was a few weeks ago and she wanted a few anniversary date ideas.  I was stalking around The Dating Divas and saw a Twilight date idea.  This date included camping and mountains and it sounded delightful--but not in Wyoming during the month of October.  Brrr.

Though the mountain scene wasn't totally realistic, I did get a ton of thoughts about creating a Twilight date!

*Sigh*

Alas, my husband is not a Twilight fan so I doubt I'll ever enjoy this date with my husband.  However, I have a feeling Sarah and I will re-vamp this date into a girl's night in when Eclipse is released onto DVD (C-Town chick-chat gals take note!)!

Invitation (Thank you Dating Divas for this idea!)
Print this poem onto a lovely sheet of paper, fold gently, place in envelope, and seal with a red kiss.  Either mail it to your husband's work OR leave it where he can find it.


"SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction Ice
Is also great
And would suffice."

Choose a Scene
 
As I said before, The Dating Divas re-created the tent scene from Eclipse.  If you want to go camping in October (or later), go for it.  If you are a winter camping wimp (like me), think of re-creating one of these scenes:

Dinner at La Bella Italia
Picnic in The Meadow

Set the Scene

La Bella Italia

Re-create the scene of Edward taking Bella out for dinner with a red/white/black theme.

The Table:
  • In a private room of your house, set up a table and two chairs.  Cover with a white or black table cloth. Spread red rose petals over the table.
  • Take a large glass apothecary vase and fill it with red apples and place it in the center of the table (see photo below).  
  • Take 2 wine glasses and put tea lights in them. Light the tea lights and put on either side of the apple center piece.
  • Set the table with plates, water glasses (with ice), napkins, and silverware.  Place a bright red apple in the center of each dinner plate.

The Room:
  • Make sure the room is dim/dark.  Put twinkle lights all around the room or light candles.
  • Play Italian opera lowly in the background.

Omit the birds and Christmas stuff and go for this look courtesy of Dining Delight


The Meadow 

For this scene re-create the meadow Edward and Bella hiked to and return to often during their romance.   Go for a very white, spring theme with lots of plants, flowers, soft smells and gentle sounds.

The Table
  • In a private room of your house, set up a table and two chairs.  Cover with a white or lace table cloth. 
  • Lay faux ivy haphazardly across the table.
  • Take a large glass apothecary vase and fill it with natural, organic materials--lilys and bamboo would be lovely (see below).
  •  Put votive candles around the table and light
  • Set the table with plates, water glasses (with ice), napkins, and silverware.  Place a single white rose on each plate.
The Room
  • Have soft lighting with lots of white twinkle lights and candles.
  • Burn a lavender scented candle.
  • Have lots of fresh flowers and plants (rob the rest of your house or your friends house to create a very natural, meadowy feel) in your room.
  • Play soft, natural music in the background (rainfall, waves crashing, breeze with birds ...)
Source
Dinner
Thoughts of what to make for this divine date bum-tumbled through my head but the truth is, I'm not the best or most creative kitchen hottie.  Luckily for me one of my fun friends is!  

Miss Frontier Kitchen (aka Sarah) and I teamed up to create this fun date/meal idea.  

If you would like a gourmet red/white/black meal idea to serve on your Twilight date, head over to Frontier Kitchen and get the recipes! 


Here's a little preview of the goodness awaiting you at Frontier Kitchen!


Activities

During Dinner

Twilight Trivia--during dinner, play a game of trivia.  Take turns asking/answering questions about the Twilight Saga. Whoever wins gets massage!

After Dinner
Fire and Ice--stand on a block of ice and try to eat an apple--no hands allowed.  

After Dessert
Breakout your Twilight Survival Kit (make this in advance) and watch the movies.

Bedtime
A Killer Kiss--Edward's kisses drove Bella crazy.  This combo will drive your DH crazy!  To give a killer kiss you'll need a small ice cube and an Icebreaker mint.  Suck on a small ice cube WHILE sucking on the mint.  Before the cool or minty wears off, slowly move in and breathe the cool mint on their lips.  Gently kiss your spouse.  Seductively kiss his clavicle. Let's see how he feels about The Twilight Saga after this kiss!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

{FALL} Things I Love--Creamy Tomato Spinach Soup

When fall winds start to blow, I break out the stock pot.  After a summer hiatus from soups and chili I'm dying for a steamy bowl of "comfort food" goodness.

My mom's corn chowder is a personal favorite.  And taco soup is a recipe everyone loves. 

A couple of weekend's ago we went to a bistro on a double date and the soup of the day was creamy tomato spinach.

It was a-maz-ing.

I almost staged a sit-in until they gave me the recipe.

Unfortunately they bribed me with Chocolate Sin cheesecake and I left satisfied--but without the recipe.

Dang it.

I knew I would have to try and recreate the yummy goodness.  So I did.

Confession: This soup is really, really good.  It's no "Jeffry's Bistro" creamy tomato spinach but it was close!

Photo Source
Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 lb fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • I leek slicked thin (white and green parts)
  • 2 cups fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat and add the onion and leeks. Sauté until softened--about 4 minutes.
2. Cut tomatoes in half.  Squeeze gently to remove seeds.
3. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are tender--about 5 minutes.
4. Transfer mixture into a blender and puree until smooth, return to pot.
5. Add in the broth and bring to a boil.
6. Add in the spinach and basil and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
7. Pour in evaporated milk and cook over medium heat until warmed through.
6. Season with salt and pepper and serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

Alternatives--Use vegetable broth to make vegetarian.  Omit milk or use soy milk and vegetable broth to make vegan.

To make heartier:  Add 1 cup of cooked, brown rice or 1 can (drained and rinsed) chickpeas.
I served this with garlic cheese toast.
To make:
Cut a loaf of french bread into 1.5 inch pieces.  Spray or brush with olive oil.  Dust with garlic powder.  Sprinkle on dried basil.  Top with a few sprinkles of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Broil until toast is golden and cheese is melted.
Photo Source




Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What I Think About--Being a Husband/Father

I plead guilty.

Every now and then I get really jealous of my husband.

He doesn't know how good he has it.

He doesn't have to cook or clean.  He's never had sore nipples or labor pains.  He gets out of the house every day and has interesting conversations with interesting people.  He always has a chance to shower and watch football.  He gets to go out for lunch with friends business partners.  People are impressed with his career.  He never feels like he has to defend what he did all day.  He never gets mistaken as some lazy person who watches soaps and eats chocolate all day.

There are days when wiping noses, butts, and tears really gets me down and I am jealous of how easy Matt's career life is.

A few weeks ago I heard a song that pretty much convicted me of my jealous feelings.  It opened my eyes to the unseen burdens my man might be feeling as a husband and father.



He doesn't have to cook or clean but he does have to work long hours to financially provide the house I clean and the food I cook.

He had to put up with me when I had sore nipples and labor pains (and I should mention he got up with me every time, every night for the first six weeks of our daughter's life).

He gets out of the house every day but he often fights with those interesting people and he has missed huge mile markers in our children's lives (first steps, first words).

He has to shower every day because he works everyday.  And he doesn't get to watch football when I'm honest with myself.  Football games last four hours.  Watching highlights for twenty minutes does not count.

He does get to go out for lunch but business lunches spent discussing cases and negotiations aren't exactly leisurely (plus, that's one less meal I have to make).

People take advantage of his career (Oh you're a lawyer, how about some free legal advice...)

He does have to prove what he did--every hour of every day.  It's called "ethical billing."  Accounting for every minute--clients expect it.

He doesn't get mistaken as lazy but he does get mistaken as a heartless, ruthless attorney (insert lawyer joke here).

When I stop and try to look at things from his perspective, Matt's life isn't quite as easy as I assume.  He worries about providing.  He worries about doing his job with excellence.  He is burdened with the task of being a strong, ethical, and dedicated professional while being a good father and husband.  He has to find the balance between providing needs and wants and not chasing things to feel satisfied in a consumer-driven world.

Looking at my man through that lens makes me think that maybe I've got it good. Maybe my life is pretty easy.  I mean, I don't have to shower and no one cares.  I get to eat lunch with the two most delightful children.  My house cleaning tasks can be done in a day and then it's on to the fun, most people applaud me for being a SAHM and even tell me I have "the toughest job," I actually could watch soaps and eat chocolate all day if I wanted ...

I'm the first to say that men out there need to step up and help around they house.  They need to encourage their wives to passionately pursue their hobbies.  They need to stop whining about how they can't clean up poop/vomit because the smell makes them nauseated (as though women love the scent and relish the opportunity to clean up chunks of puke ...).

But ladies, we need to encourage our husbands.  We need to give them time alone to pursue their passions.  We need to stop whining about all we want (that purse, a new car, those boots).   We need to work as a team.  We need each other.

What I think about being a husband/father is that it is tough stuff.

And it's time we express gratitude for our husbands and pray for God to keep leading them, as they lead us.

What can you do TODAY to let your husband know how grateful you are for all he does?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--Winter-Ready Furnace

I wish that I could save you a ton of money by giving you specific tips on how to clean your furnace but I can't. I mean, I will tell you that you need to change the furnace filter but before winter weather sets in, you need to call and have your furnace maintained.

Even if you regularly change your filter, you should have your furnace checked to make sure the valves open/close correctly (or else KaBoom) and that the gas line is unblocked.

A furnace cleaning should cost between $100-$400 and it is worth every cent.

Trust me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Confession: A Pop Song I Love

I'm a music snob and quippy little pop songs do nothing for me .... normally.

I heard this song on the radio the other day (I NEVER listen to the radio but my CD case was in Matt's truck ... grrrrrrrrr.......).  Anyhow, as soon as I heard this song I thought of my sister.  I'm one of those people who thinks of exactly what to say when I want to say it (which gets me in trouble).  My sister, on the other hand, is the sweetest, kindest person who would never say a word of anger to anyone but she can express herself in passive-aggressive ways that can be quite funny.

Enjoy this deliciously passive-aggressive little tune, dedicated to my big sister.

Who made Monday the King of Anything anyhow?!?!

Sunday, October 17, 2010