Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Very Special Birthday

Today, my Grandmom turns 86 years young.  

My Grandmom is one of my favorite people in the entire world. She's a woman of incredible faith, love and generosity.  I was lucky enough to live 5 minutes away from her while I was growing up.  I can't count just the number of times I've played "hairdresser" with her, learned the games she played as a kid and even how she would jump rope with me when no one else would.




As a child and into my teenage years, Grandmom taught me how to make homemade spaghetti, how to knit on a loom and how to make Italian Christmas cookies.



A few years ago, I asked my Grandmom to teach me how to crochet.  Every time I start a new project, I think of her and can't wait to show her the finished product.

As amazing as she is as a Grandmom, she's and even more incredible Gigi to my son, niece and nephew.   



She lets John play with her cane every time he asks, always has something sweet to offer him when he comes over and John just eats it all up.

Happy birthday, Grandmom! I love you so much!

Question of the Day:
Are there any birthdays you are getting ready to celebrate?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

You know, being a mom has given me a whole new appreciation for things in life - both big and small.  On Sunday morning, John was up early, so we went downstairs and turned on the TV for some snuggle time. You'll never believe who was on PBS at 6:00 in the morning....Mr. Rogers.

I was a Sesame Street girl growing up while my older brother adored Mr. Rogers.  I never understood what he saw in him and I thought the show was dry and bland.  Well, on Sunday, I finally got it.  It took me 30 years, but I am in love with Mr. Rogers and his message of thankfulness, joy and love.

The episode involved a little boy, Jeffrey Erlanger, who was in a wheelchair.  John kept asking me why he was in a wheelchair and I told him we had to listen to Jeffrey explain it, and explain he did.  As the tears were rolling down my face, I realized what a teaching moment this had become.  To have a little boy who can run, jump and skip is a blessing that I too often take for granted.

Obsessed with Jeffrey's story, I came into work on Monday and Googled him.  I found this clip, which shows part of the episode I referenced along with a follow-up when Mr. Rogers was inducted into the TV Hall of Fame.  Jeffrey surprised Mr. Rogers by coming on stage, and the genuine surprised look on Mr. Rogers' face says it all.

What an amazing man he was, and what an inspiration Mr. Rogers is to countless generations.

Unfortunately, Jeffrey passed away in the late 90's, but his spirit lives on in his story.




Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Was A Good Idea In Theory....

Happy Wednesday!

Every once in awhile I come across a recipe that I just have to try out because it's different, or sounds interesting or simply because I have all of the ingredients in my house.  This recipe happened to meet all three criteria.  I present to you Cheddar and Carrot Macaroni and Cheese.

My first thought was "eww - carrots in mac and cheese?"  I read through some of the reviews and many people said they couldn't taste the carrots and that it added a creaminess to the dish.  I thought it was worth the shot so I went to work.  

Cheddar and Carrot Macaroni and Cheese from Slender Kitchen
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Info: Cals: 255, Carbs: 35, Fat: 7g, Protein: 13g, Fiber: 5g

Ingredients

8 oz high fiber pasta shells or elbows (I used Ronzoni)
1 lb. baby carrots
1.5 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the carrots in a microwave safe container with 1/2 cup water. Cook on high for 5-7 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions. Take the pasta out when it is al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid. Return to the pot.
Place the carrots with any remaining liquid in a blender. Add the 1 cup of cooking water from the pasta. Blend until smooth.
Add the carrot puree to the pasta and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. The sauce should thicken. Turn the heat down to low and stir in the 1.25 cups of cheese. Stir until creamy and season with salt and pepper.
Pour into a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes until sides are bubbling. Broil for the last 2-3 minutes if you want a crispier top.



When I first tasted it, I could tell there were carrots in there immediately.  I wasn't sure if it was because I knew they were there or if I could actually taste them.  I asked John and the hubby to taste it and both of them said that they could taste the carrots.  It was necessarily a bad thing.....it was just....um...carroty.

I will definitely make this again because it kicked my craving for mac and cheese without breaking the calorie bank.  Next time, though, I'll try it with half a pound of baby carrots instead of a pound. 

Question of the Day:
Have you ever hidden vegetables in your food?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 21, 2013

This One Time, Over The Weekend....

....I legitimately ate an entire butternut squash myself, realized that I have a food blog and stopped to take a picture three quarters of the way through.  It's a bad picture, too.....but I was enjoying the squash too much to care.  



Prior to this, the closest I've come to making butternut squash was opening up the baby food jar and stirring it around for John.  He LOVED the stuff as an infant.  When we were food shopping last week, he saw a butternut squash, asked what it was and if we could buy it.  I have a rule when it comes to stuff like this - never turn down his curiosity when it comes to fruits or vegetables.

When I finally got around to roasting the squash, I decided to make fries out of them.  The only thing I didn't enjoy was cutting/peeling the thing open.  I roasted them for about 40 minutes or so, and as soon as they cooled down, I ate them.  John was only interested in eating one or two.  Oh well - it's definitely something I'll continue to make and offer him.

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

I woke up today thinking it was Friday.  Bummer.

I've mentioned this before on the blog, but every Wednesday I go to a Zumba class.  I found one I love and it's my "day out" so to speak.  Last night, though, I just wasn't feeling it.  I kept telling myself that I never regret going to the gym but I always regret not going.  No matter how much I tried to convince myself, I couldn't get it together.

I ended up giving myself a pass for last night and today, I'm thankful I took some time to relax.



Source
I'll be at the Zumba class again next week but yesterday?  Yesterday I needed some time off.

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Pickin'

Happy Monday!

I was out of the office on Friday - apparently John has developed an immunity to the Amoxicillin he was taking for his ear infection.  He came home from daycare on Thursday crying because his other ear hurt. Since the pediatrician's office was closed, we took him to the Minute Clinic.  Turns out his ear was still red and the other ear....let's just say his eardrum was ready to burst.  The nurse practitioner prescribed him Augmentin, so we'll see how that goes.

As fate would have it, John had his 3 year old well visit scheduled for Friday, so it worked out that we had a doctor's appointment the day after the Minute Clinic visit.  The pediatrician also confirmed that his right ear was pretty bad and that John has a high tolerance for pain - she was surprised he wasn't complaining for days prior.  Oh joy.  

After her assessment of his ear, the doctor went on with his well visit.  She was so happy - apparently, John, at 3 years old, is doing things a 4 year old should do.  The doctor told us to stop teaching him using "rote learning" and to start teaching him a different language, how to play an instrument and basic math skills. I'm so proud of my little guy!

On Sunday, the hubby and I took John to Linvilla Orchards to pick some pumpkins.  John was beyond excited.


The hubby and I were convinced that he was going to pick a monstrous pumpkin but all he wanted to do was find one he could lift.


Linvilla was beautifully decorated but John wasn't very interested int he decorations.  He wanted to stick his head in all of the cut-out picture things.  You know, there's nothing like being a witch!


Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Little Mickeys a/k/a This Project Took Much Longer Than It Should Have

Happy hump day!  It's so nice to be halfway through the work week, isn't it?

As you know, John's birthday theme this year was Mickey Mouse.  For some reason, I feel the need to be creative at the worst times, i.e., the day before hosting a birthday party.  I had seen Mickey Mouse Oreos on Pinterest and knew I wanted to give 'em a try.

Essentially, you take a package of regular-sized Oreos and a container of mini Oreos, stick them together with melted chocolate to make Mickey Mouse.  If you want to get fancy, you can melt some red candy melts and dip half of the Oreo into the melted red chocolate for Mickey's pants.  Homey don't play that.  I'm not that fancy, so instead of driving to the craft store for the red candy melts, I bought Wilton's red icing in a can. I thought this would be an easy solution.  I was wrong.

First of all, trying to get the mini Oreos to stick to the big Oreos was nearly impossible.  After trying all sorts of ways to make them stick, I literally untwisted every big Oreo and every little Oreo.  I put the melted chocolate on half of the mini Oreo, stuck it to the inside of the big Oreo, repeated with the other mini cookie and then put the big piece of Oreo on top.  After they were finished, I put them in the fridge to harden.  I tried using the red icing on one of the Mickey Mouse cookies that was cracked and it looked terrible.  I kept messing around with the different tips of the icing and finally figured out that I could use a knife to smooth out the icing.  All of that work for one cookie?  I wasn't feeling it.  Plus, I was exhausted, John was up from his nap and I figured the red icing idea was out the window.  Wrong again.

I showed John the cookies without the icing and the one with the icing and guess which one he chose?  The red iced one, of course!  I told him perhaps we could leave half of them iced and the other plain, but he wasn't having any of that. 

Thus, we began putting Mickey's pants on each of the cookies. By this point, I started thinking I was super mom because they were actually starting to look like Mickey Mouse.  Then I got the brilliant idea to put mini M&M's on top of the icing to look like Mickey's buttons on his pants.  I was amazed at the way they turned out.....


....that is until we showed them to the hubby who proclaimed "awesome! Mickey has eyes!"  I literally slapped my hand to my head and tried to explain that they were buttons, but by that point I was over it.


You be the judge - buttons or eyes?! haha

In the end, they ended up being a pretty big hit and I'm glad John and I had the opportunity to make them together, even if the entire project took over two hours.

Question of the Day:
What's your favorite kind of cookie?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Very Happy Birthday

Happy Monday!

Thank you all for the beautiful birthday wishes for John.  We truly enjoyed our long weekend!  John's birthday was on Thursday, so getting to spend the entire day with him was amazing.  The hubby and I bought him his first "big boy bike" i.e. one with training wheels. 


John immediately wanted to take a spin on his bike and thankfully the weather was beautiful.


On Saturday we had his party at our house.  This was actually the first time we've had his birthday party at our house.  You see, our house is super small, and the thought of hosting 20 people in our teeny tiny house was scary.  How would it be with 5 kids running around?  Would we all be squished in like ants?  In the end, everything worked out beautifully.  No one was squished and the kids were great.

John loves everything Mickey Mouse, so that was his theme.  I hoped on ordering a Mickey Mouse cake from BJ's, but apparently they discontinued the Mickey Mouse cake.  Seriously?  Isn't he a classic character or something?  I opted for Mickey Mouse colors instead and found a Mickey candle for the cake.



 Despite the craziness of the day, we were able to sneak in a few family photos.
Don't mind the scab on his head - John fell at school on a rug.  Boys!
One of my favorite parts of the party was the Mickey party hats we asked people to wear.  Can I just say that I love my family?  They are pretty awesome for going along with it.

In the end, everyone had a great time, even the photo-bomber in the back....haha.



Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Today's post will be picture-heavy.  Consider this your warning.

Today, I'm thankful for my sweet baby boy.  Today is John's 3rd birthday.  It's hard to believe that 3 years ago my hubby and I were meeting him for the first time.  Now, I don't know how we survived so long without him.


Watching John grow up has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.  John is amazing, and it's hard for me to think of any other word to describe him.  He was such an easy baby, and despite some challenging toddler moments, he continues to show me how to smile more and worry less.  



As a new mom, I thought I'd have all the answers and that I would be teaching him so many things and yet, as I think about it, I think John has taught me so much more. 


I love the way he smiles.  It melts my heart every time and that smile comes from a place of utter joy and happiness.

I love how John has a silly side.  He knows not to take life so seriously and he can typically make any situation humorous.


I love how he has a sensitive heart.  If someone is sad, he wants to know why, and when he has his answer, he runs right over with hugs and kisses. 


I love how literal he is.  When I told him he should be wearing a mask while he helped the hubby cut the lawn, he ran inside and grabbed his mask.  I had a face mask in mind - his allergies were particularly bad that day but I couldn't resist taking a picture of the mask he chose.


I love how proud he gets of himself.  With each new craft he brings home from school, he can't wait to show it to me, get my reaction of how great of a job he did and then proudly display it on the refrigerator....or in the case, on his head.

Happy birthday, my sweet baby boy.  Never ever change - you are perfect as you are.  I love you to the moon and back!

 
Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie