Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our day in snapshots

latte and library
Running errands after school drop-off for lattes and the library (my friend Becca and I are burning our way through these books right now.  Fully addicted!!)

Cupcake in the morning
Strawberry cupcake at the bakery

Embellished friendship bracelets
A few weeks ago I became obsessed with these embellished friendship bracelets

making cold-pressed coffee
Making cold-press coffee so I don't need to make another latte run

Almond butter
Almond butter, fresh out of the food processer (if you are adding honey or sugar, allow the batch to cool completely before stirring it in -- otherwise your entire batch will sieze up.)

Oven-roasted garlic
A head of roasted garlic (drizzle in aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, bake at 450 for 40 minutes)

Roasted Garlic Red Lentil Dip
Lunch: Roasted Garlic Red Lentil Dip and romaine lettuce

Fruit & Seed Bars and Granola Bars
Fruit & Seed Bars and Granola Bars to pack into lunch boxes for mid-morning snacks

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dream (Irish) Cream

Today I'm giving myself the beautiful therapy of a freshly scrubbed house.  Now with only one child around during the day, it doesn't feel so hopeless to do a deep clean.  While I clean, I'm enjoying listening to the audio version of the book Close Your Eyes by Iris Johansen.

It's a fascinating story about a woman who used to be blind, and now works for the FBI, using her enhanced senses.  I love it!

Entirely unrelated: I don't remember what inspired this, but I was looking up YouTube tutorials on Kim Kardashian inspired makeup.  It's my new favorite look, but it's very dramatic, so I don't feel like it's an appropriate "everyday" look for me.  More of an Evening Out sort of thing.  Of course, in the practicing and playing around along to these tutorials, I've occasionally looked rather "accidental glam" while cleaning my house, going out to run errands, and teaching piano to small children.  Yeah.  I'm weird, whatevs.

Here's my two favorites:

Continuing to talk about things unrelated to anything else so far in this blog post.... Last week, my friend Jenny texted me and said "We're making Irish cream tomorrow!  Your blender!  My house!", and, well, who was I to say no?  I like Bailey's Irish Cream, but I've never drank it much because it is just a bit too sweet for me.  Of course I could throw a shot into a glass of milk, but I never thought of that.  Until just now.  Right.  Anyway.  We smashed a few recipes together, refigured it to my preferences (cut the sweet by half, etc.), and it was PERFECT.  Exactly what I've always wanted Irish Cream to be.

Here's what we did:

Ingredients to make Irish Cream

Feckin Irish Whiskey

Making Irish Cream

Making Irish Cream

Homemade Irish Cream

One recipe makes two full 750 ml bottles, so bear that in mind.  We were making this to share with friends as well as for our own households, so it seemed to be a reasonable amount to us.  One other thought -- I can't seem to find a perfectly suitable time to drink this.  If I drink it with my morning coffee, all that I want to do is get right back into bed.  Same story in the afternoon.  (Not that I tested out either scenario.  Of course not.  Haha.)  However, if I drink it in the evening like a responsible adult, the teeny tiny bit of espresso in this recipe keeps me buzzed enough that it's hard to fall asleep, and I end up having crazy dreams all night.  Good times.  Maybe I'll skip the espresso the next time I make a batch.  But for now, OHMYGOSH this is so delicious!!  So with that in mind: want the recipe?  I thought you might.  Here you go:

Irish Cream
Please note that the quality of your ingredients will affect the overall outcome --'s whiskey!  And cream!  And yay, it's really potent!  So have fun with it and don't get too serious.  If you want to use all of the cheapest ingredients you can find, it's still going to taste FANTASTIC.  Especially after 2 or three shots over ice.  So hooray!  Make some!!

1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup instant espresso (I prefer Bustello)
1/4 cup chocolate syrup (I had some of my own homemade syrup on hand, made with a good quality cocoa powder)
4 teaspoons vanliia extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
750 ml bottle of Irish Whiskey (I used Feckin.  Hey, don't look at me like that.  YES, I choose my liquore by the fun-factor of the label.  And how fun it feels to say it.  Stop your judging.)

Add all of the ingredients except for the whiskey to your blender and process well (but not for TOO long -- we don't want to accidentally make the cream go all clumpy).  Pour in the entire bottle of whiskey.  Your blender will now be WAY TOO FULL to safely run it, so just stir it well with a long-handled wooden spoon.  Decant with a funnel into two 750 ml sized empty whiskey bottles.  Drink the leftovers. (*wink wink*)  Chill the full bottles -- this should keep for about two months.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Goodbye summer...

Today is the first day of school!!

First day of school 2012

We were all so excited this morning!

First day of school 2012

There were no tears shed by anyone, only a few tender hugs at the classroom door, and then big smiles.  It's been a long, hot summer, and made all the more difficult by the fact that I've had to do it all mostly alone.  I am ever so grateful that Greg has at least been available to visit with us via Skype-video-chat each night before bed, but nothing compares to actually having him come home to us each evening and hanging out together on the weekends.

Sprinkler park sand pit!

Sprinkler park sand pit!

Sprinkler park sand pit!

We have had plenty of fun with friends this summer, but for me, it has often felt like I'm drowning -- just the idea of taking them all to the grocery store is enough to make me feel like I'm going to hyperventilate, but there's that weird thing about food being a necessity and all that...

Daisy's first trip to the salon
Daisy's first trip to the salon

All summer, the First Day Of School has been the light at the end of my tunnel -- a tiny glimmer of light, so faint that at times I felt that we might not make it.  Each day has been such a struggle that it feels in some ways I have short-changed my children.  It's hard to feel like I'm being a good mother when sometimes just looking at them makes me feel trapped and desperate.  Sending them off to school today was wonderful, and yet now I worry that over the summer I didn't hold them enough, didn't say "I love you" often enough, didn't take the time to really look at them and listen to their (tireless, endless, detailed!) stories, involve myself in more creative projects with them, let them watch too much tv, read too few books together.  I worry that I've thrown away a summer, and now in the business of school, homework, playdates, piano lessons, soccer, church, that we are, in some ways, saying "goodbye" until next summer.

Learning to play Uno
Learning how to play UNO

But such is the beauty of a life of seasons, I suppose.  Each new seasons gives us pause to reflect on the tears and (hopefully) smiles of the last, and set good intentions and plans for the chapter ahead of us.

Friday, August 24, 2012

11 years

On July 28th, Greg and I marked the 11th anniversary of the day we said "I do".  To celebrate, we went away for the weekend to a little hotel in Austin while several of our wonderful friends hung out with our children.

I have been eating at least 70% "raw" for the past year, so Greg asked me to bring a raw dinner and breakfast for our first two meals together.  We ate out at food trucks and a little restaurant called Snack Bar on South Congress for our other meals, so it was a fun mix of home "cooked" and Awesome Austin Food for our weekend adventure.

Anniversary bouquet
When I picked Greg up from the airport, he met me with this fantastic bouquet of Cala Lilies, modeled after the one I carried in our wedding (and the one my Grandma Annette carried in hers)

Raw dinner (burgers)
Raw Sunflower-Seed BBQ Burgers with Macadamia "Cheese" Sauce and zucchini pickles on Raw Zucchini Flatbread

The grounds around our hotel
Wine out in the back of the hotel

Inside the hotel
Our gorgeous room

Inside the hotel
Supercool details

Inside the hotel
The owner hand-painted all of these murals all over the property and in the rooms

Inside the hotel
Getting ready to go out!

The grounds around our hotel
The railroad-tie steps down through the quirky grounds out behind the hotel

The grounds around our hotel
Hahahahaha....we are so not cool

The grounds around our hotel

Lounging at our hotel

The grounds around our hotel

vintage clothing shopping
Window shopping at the vintage shops on SoCo

The Mighty Cone food truck
Lunch at The Mighty Cone food truck

Our lunch at the Might Cone
Crispy Avocado-Chicken cones, chili-powdered fries, fried pickles (but of course!  After two raw meals in a row, we needed some balance, people!)

We had lots of fun, but mostly, it was just amazing to get to spend time with Greg. It is so hard to have to be apart for this long, but the upside of our Army lifestyle is that I can't ever take him for granted.  After 11 years of marriage (12-1/2 years together total), I am more in love with him than ever.  I appreciate his solid commitment to our family, his integrity, the way he grounds me, his unconditional love for me.  I love you Greg, and my thankfulness for you and "us" is ever growing.  I look forward to actually living with you again in December!!

For even more pics of our weekend, check out the Flickr set here!


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