Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Stroll

We love the big forest that is close to our home...helps us feel like we're escaping the claustrophobia of big-city life (even if you still can hear the freeway more than the birds!) Here's one of many afternoon strolls...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Odds n' Ends from May

Just a sweet picture of our Maya-girl that G'ma M. caught while watching the girls.

My cake-lickin' girls love to make treats with Dad!!!

The beneficiary of such treats!

We love our trips to the zoo...another fun day with the youngest 2--Hayley is at school.

We're loving scooters at our house this summer--Maya's most skilled scooter pose!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Hayley and Maya were both in ballet/tap combo classes this year. Their recitals were the very end of May.

We scheduled our much anticipated "get-away" before we realized that the recital was on that weekend. So Tammy & Grandma did double-duty by surviving dress rehearsal the night before--not an easy task. Being a "dance mom" is no small, make up and clothes all have to be just so. I think I gave more instructions about the recital than the kids before we left! They also got up the next morning and got everyone ready and to the stage on time. Ryan and I had it easy...we just left Williamsburg first thing Saturday morning and met 3 cute little girls at the show!

They both had a ballet number and a tap number and were conveniently spread through the 2 1/2 hour it was long but so worth it to see them both succeed at something they had worked hard on.

Maya had to face up to huge fears to even make it to class each week. Sometimes I wondered if we were doing the right thing. I had very low expectations of the recital, but that little girl pulled through and got up there. She knew her steps and timidly did her very best. I loved seeing how proud of herself she was! Way to go my little shy kitty cat!

Hayley loved every minute of the lime light...our little star! She loved mastering the dances and saying "I can do it with my eyes closed!" What a cutie!

Proof that Maya really did make it on the stage in front of hundreds!

Hayley's ballet dance was so pretty. She has such natural grace and elegance!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Souvenir

Oops...I forgot to include this in the "kid-free zone" post.

Williamsburg is a re-created colonial town. You can go into various stores and businesses and learn about how things were made and sold during revolutionary times.

On our little vacation I was particularly taken with the Silversmith. We went twice because it was so fun to watch them mold a beautiful tool or household item out of a chunk of silver. In the little shop they sell jewelry that would have been made by a silversmith (but isn't technically made in Williamsburg). It was fun to look at all the intricate details after just watching them show how things were made.

My sweet husband bought this ring for me from the silversmith shop. Maybe it's just the practical time of life that I'm in but I wear it instead of my wedding ring most days right now because I like it so much, plus it has great memories behind it! I love how simple and delicate it is. (I'm sure Ryan wishes I would have found this one 10 years ago and saved him the $$ but I still love my wedding ring too...a girl just loves to have options!)

Kid-Free Zone

(Back-blogging for May 2009)

After 9 years of marriage, 10 years of dating, and 3 kids along for the's hard to imagine... but here's us with no kids!

...while Grandma Messick and Aunt Tammy kept the kids swinging from the ceiling back at home!

...we enjoyed 3 glorious days and 2 nights at our castle in the clouds...a B&B in Williamsburg that welcomed only Ryan and I (no waking babies or energetic little ones!)

We felt anything but tied down as we toured Williamsburg, VA.

My favorite parts: not having to carry a diaper bag or push a stroller, being able to listen to what the tour guides said and actually learn something, browsing for as long as I wanted in the many little gift shops, holding Ryan's hand, sleeping through the night!

And here's the great man I get to keep sharing this fabulous journey of life with (Ryan, not Thomas Jefferson!) I kink of like hanging out with him!

This was the first time we have managed to figure out the child-care issue and make a child-free vacation really happen...Thanks Tammy & Joyce! It was amazing how incredibly revitalizing it was! With any luck, it won't be 9 more years before we do this again!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2 Yummy Soups

It's summer so I should be posting recipes for salads but I took pictures of these two favorite soups in the last month or two so thought I'd share the recipes. One positive in the summer time is that both are made without turning on the oven...which is the goal, right?

Potato Soup

A good friend brought this soup over the night I came home from the hospital with Alice (as she dropped off my other 2 kids which she had been watching for 24're super-woman, Krista!) Anyways, it definitely hit the spot after a couple days of hospital food and when I found out how easy it was to make it became a staple of ours (especially since the kids love it--Hayley just ate 3 bowls tonight--unheard of!!!). My favorite is serving with rolls and honey dew melon.

I usually have the ingredients on hand and can make it in 20 it's a great fall-back for those nights when we have no plan for dinner and it's 5 o'clock! Note that the recipe is really small so if you're cooking for more than 2 you've got to start multiplying! I think I usually 3 or4 times it so that we have leftovers.

2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl flour
½ c. grated cheese
1 c. milk

2 c. water
2 potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 Tbl minced onion
1 tsp salt

  • Boil together water, potatoes, onions and salt 7-10 mins
  • Melt margarine in separate pan. Wisk in flour to form paste. Gradually add milk stirring constantly. When blended stir in grated cheese. Remove from heat.
  • When potatoes and onions are cooked, stir water from the potatoes into the cheese sauce until you reach desired consistency.
  • Strain the potatoes and onions and add to cheese sauce.

Lasagna Soup
It sounds a little involved but once you've made it one time it's really pretty easy...and so worth it! Thanks for the recipe Stephanie!

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage (bulk or with casings removed)
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
8 ounces fusilli pasta
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
8 ounces ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain any excess fat from the pot. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and sauté until the paste turns a rusty brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the broth, and the bay leaves and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

2. Add the pasta, then increase the heat to medium-high and boil the soup until the pasta is tender to the bite, following the time recommendations on the pasta package. Discard the bay leaves, then stir in the basil. If desired, season with salt and black pepper to taste.

3. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, the Parmesan, the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the pinch of pepper. To serve, place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture in each bowl, sprinkle with some of the mozzarella, and ladle the soup on top. Makes about 13 cups.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Into the 30's

I turned 31 years old in out 40's here I come! (okay that's just crazy to think about!!!)

I'm just so grateful to have lived 31 wonderful years and haven't messed things up too badly yet! I feel incredibly blessed to have have a wonderful husband and 3 beautiful and thriving children. I also have an amazing mom and dad that survived me as a child and are the world's best grandparents that support me in my pursuit of motherhood and eternal happiness!

I had a fun day just spending time with my family, shopping for home decor while Ryan wrestled with kids in the pet store next door and going out to dinner with the family. There wasn't a lot I wanted for my birthday so I decided to try to find some "Pride and Prejudice" apparel since I am definitely passionate about Jane Austen!

This is just a fun T-shirt and there's one more that's had a quote I liked: "I am excessively diverted." Jane Austen just has so many great quotes to choose from!!!

This has got to be my new favorite piece of jewelry--bangles made with lines from the book P&P! Just so unique and fun! (From Etsy if you're interested.)