Wednesday, May 8, 2013

April Showers Bring More May Showers?

After an incredibly dry spring, summer and fall last year, I cannot get over how wet it has been this spring. Not that we are complaining, we need the moisture (obligatory mantra in Denver), but this week has been a hard one.

Mark Loidolt flew out to visit us on Friday. It was a nice evening, and Sophia and I took a ladies trip to DSW and we picked out a cheap pair of water sandals for me off the clearance rack and a bottle of nail polish for her. Paul and Mark were on the deck enjoying a beer, so we joined them and painted Sophia's nails before we sent her off to bed. We had a beautiful Saturday! Paul and Mark spent the morning and afternoon in Ft Collins at the New Belgium Brewery and some rabbit cheese place, while the kiddos and I went to a fabulous birthday party for Anni who turned 3! It was at a nice park in Lakewood near our apartment, and the kiddos spent hours playing on the great play set, watching a man and his son fly a neat bird kite, feeding the ducks and geese, chasing millions of bubbles, eating great food and cupcakes, and running and playing some more. When I got them home around 1:00 they both passed out for about 3 hours they were so worn out. Sunday, Paul and Mark went to a Rockies game before Mark had to fly back to ND, and that day I was feeling a little tough. Monday and Tuesday I felt awful and between the fever and head/neckaches I was completely useless. Today I was feeling much better, but the kiddos and I are getting some apartment fever from not getting out since Mass on Sunday morning.

Flannel Friday and nail polish!

Posing like Daddy does for his Insanity picture!

Mark and Paul in da Flannel

Silly Leo. He will kneel like this forever.

Sophia was helping me start my tomato plants, and she was having a grand time playing in the dirt for the pot we are going to fill with flowers.
These two are so cuddly!  I was taking my shower to look out and see Leo so angry as he was trying to stuff TP in the toilet. I made Paul take a picture. Poor Leo!
Listening to some music, and watching some home videos of her and Leo.

        Below: Sophia and I got to go solo to gymnastics, so I got some
        pictures. She really likes the tunnel, bar, and jumping on    


My gold star for today was keeping all electronics off including the tablet, tv, computer and her vreader. This was nothing short of a miracle considering it was cold, cloudy and raining all day, and we have had a challenging week. Adding to the fun was the lack of naps from either of them and Leo teething.

We did everything we could think of to pass the day: played in the tunnel, read books, made cookies, baked a spaghetti squash (which Sophia cleaned out herself), played in the rain until we got too cold while Leo took his first nap, washed all the bedding in the house, they jumped on my bed while singing the monkey's on the bed song, played little people, banged pots and pans in the kitchen, took baths......

By 4:30 I was running out of ideas, and noticed that all the pillows were on the floor already, so we did a quick clean up of all the other toys on the floor and played Hot Lava for a good hour. (Our version was tickle lava, where you get tickled mercilessly if you fall off the pillows :)

Leo thought it was great just chasing us around as we "hopped" back and forth from the pieces of furniture. Even Paul joined in when he got home so I could get the grilling done and food on the table for supper. Mission Accomplished!

The place was a disaster by the end of the day, but we made it through. Now both kiddos are sound asleep, Paul did the dishes while I did pickup duty, and I get to sit for 5 minutes. Here is to hoping that my mattress pad is dry before I have to make my bed before I crash for the night. Stupid thing takes all day to dry with the plastic backing.... and it is too expensive to replace to risk it in the dryer.....

Food: Nourishment for the Body!

I have come to realize how much I LOVE food as of late. Not just any food mind you... but quality, flavorful, creative, healthy food! I used to be so picky, and anything that was not in the cheese or bread family was pushing the borders of what I liked to consume. Thankfully, living in both Madison, WI and Denver, CO, traveling to different parts of the country with my husband's family as well as meeting so many different people from all walks of life has taught me to stretch myself and my palate. It is only in the last two years that I learned that not only do I enjoy a wide variety of spices, that I actually like Indian, Japanese, Thai, African, and a whole host of other foods I had always been too afraid to try! I have been on a journey of learning to cook things I have never even had, and to use vegetables I never even knew existed. Thankfully, my husband will eat virtually anything, so experimenting has been a lot of fun. I have also really been drawn to the social side of meals. Food is not just about our bodies need for nutrients to perform basic functions; food is tied so intricately to the social fabric of most societies. When we get together it is to commune over a meal, or to socialize over some food and wine. It seems that where there is found virtually any gathering of people, some form of food is there.

My love of food goes even further though, I find that I also like the whole kitchen. Dishes do not seem a chore to me (granted I do have a dishwasher that is my right hand man), rather I feel that having a clean, uncluttered kitchen makes me feel that I have indeed accomplished something for the day (namely feeding and caring for my family, and then cleaning it up!).

So as my love of food and experimentation has grown, I have decided that I am making it a goal to try one new recipe and share it each week. It can even be as simple as the side dish I prepared for dinner tonight. We were introduced to this side dish when we had a lovely evening with some fellow FOCUS staff and their families, and this was a great addition to any grilled meat.  I hope you enjoy!

Greek Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp onion (I used spring onions)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small can of sliced black olives
1 Roma tomato - cut into small pieces
3 heaping Tbsp of feta cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
Fresh basil

To begin, split squash down the middle and clean out the seeds and pulp. Place halves cut side down on a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Cook at 375 degrees for 45 minutes until it is tender.

The olive oil really melds the taste of the squash.

Allow the squash to cool. Meanwhile, add some garlic and onion to the olive oil in a pan and heat until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and heat through. Use a fork to "pull" the "spaghetti strings" of the squash so that  they are almost like noodles. Add squash to the pan for a minute, stir until coated and then pour the whole mixture into a dish. Add the feta cheese, olives and finish with a touch of lemon juice and fresh basil. Toss and serve warm!

The finished product! Such a tasty and filling way to add some more vegetables to a meal! (Note: I was out of basil and had to skip it... but will make sure I have it next time)

*Warning: my food rarely looks pretty.... I care much more about the taste ;)