Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Healthy, Delicious, Lentil Soup

I LOVE the cold(er) weather months.  I'm fully aware it doesn't *actually* get cold here in AZ, but I'll take what I can get.  It's an excuse to wear long pants, long sleeved shirts, maybe even a jacket or sweater.  At night we can cozy up under a blanket, maybe even around a fire pit if we're lucky.  And it's a great excuse to make some soup!
Soups are the EASIEST, and CHEAPEST way to feed your family IMHO.  AND they are healthy, assuming you don't pick the soups with loads of cream or cheese and no actual veggies.  This post is about a pretty healthy soup I love to eat and make, and it's so very easy to do. You can make it vegetarian by withholding the pork products I mention, it will still be tasty, but the pork does make it extra delicious. I make mine veggie heavy, and hearty because Mr. G thang enjoys the veggies straight from the soup and he's not quite ready to feed himself with a spoon :).  So, take inspiration from this recipe and tweak as necessary for your own needs.
chopped up carrots
- 8 large carrots chopped approx. 1/4 inch thick pieces
- 1 stalk of celery chopped, approx 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 full bulb of garlic minced (it's a lot of soup and I like to taste the garlic, if you don't, then use less or none, it's up to you!)
- 1 medium/large onion chopped
- 1 bag of lentils
- 1 bag of prewashed spinach leaves
- optional, either ~6 slices of bacon, chopped or 1 ham bone you smartly threw in the freezer after Christmas dinner :)
- olive oil, salt, pepper

Get out your large stock pot, if you're like me, you don't know how to make a little bit of soup.  Add some olive oil* to the bottom and saute up your garlic and onion until the onion is translucent.  
sauteing the garlic and onions
Add your celery and carrots.  Saute all that for about 5 minutes.  Add your ham bone and lentils, salt and pepper as you see fit.  Add water to coat the lentils.  
the beginnings of a great soup
Bring to a boil and let that pot of yum simmer all afternoon, checking on it 
frequently, adding more water if necessary, stopping when the lentils and carrots are tender.  Throw in the spinach leaves at the very end and take out the ham bone.  
the finished product!
Scarf it down with some crusty bread and save the leftovers in the freezer for that day when you need an edible hug.

*If you go the bacon route, then cook up the bacon on your stock pot, remove the bacon, leave the delicious grease.  Use the grease to saute your garlic and onion, put the bacon back in when you get to the part where you add the lentils

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mickey Mouse 1st Birthday Party!

The last year went by insanely fast.  Gavin has turned ONE already people!  I have no idea how that happened.  We decided to celebrate with a party because that's what we do around here when the kids have a birthday.  We have a party, the kids give mommy a theme and mommy runs with said theme.
Gavin is a HUGE fan of Mickey Mouse. He doesn't watch a lot of TV, just snippets of what Zach watches here and there, but apparently Mickey has a lot of charisma because he was saying "ICK-EEE!!" when he saw the mouse on TV at like 9 months old (he's an early talker, errr, chatterbox). So naturally, we went with a Mickey theme for his birthday party.  
As with Zach, I tried to do some stuff DIY so it wasn't *all* matchy matchy party store deluxe.  The only difference is, babies don't play a lot of party games, so it was pretty much just decorations and cake.

Use the googles people!  I found some super cute Mickey/Disney themed fonts that I used the heck out of for party decorations.  The banner was just super-sized "Mickey Ears" font and then I cut out circles and glued to some construction paper.  I used one of the magazines that Gavin had "overly-loved" (aka torn most of the pages out of) and cut out some pictures of Mickey from that and glued them on.  
I made some signs and decorations for around the house with the fonts I downloaded and some Mickey pictures I found on the interwebs.  Thoroughly using my recently discovered poster-printing abilities.  
This was on our front door welcoming the guests to the party

Really proud of my cornball humor here, put this sign by the hot dogs we served :)
Everybody always asks where the bathroom is so I labeled it :)
And what's a party without some goodie bags? I had the epiphany (because I forgot to order the bags for the goodie bags) that I could just print on some paper lunch sacks and get some customized goodie bags for super cheap!
Lastly the cake and cupcakes.  We all know I am NOT a baker by any stretch of the imagination. So, I got myself some boxed cake mix from Trader Joe's and used that to make cupcakes.  Then I made a sheet-type cake and enlisted the help of my very talented friend/neighbor Rena to make the smash cake.  She did a FANTASTIC job, and as she knows, she's now hired to decorate our birthday cakes ;).
The kids and babies had a blast, Gavin is still pointing at the decorations and saying "ICK-EEE!!!". So Imma call it a win :).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolutions 2013

It's a fresh, brand-new year again already!  I can't believe how fast 2012 went by, a lot changed in our lives, and all for the better.  I'm looking forward to making 2013 our best year yet as a family :).  
Of course I have the obligatory resolutions, I prefer to think of them as "goals" for the year, mostly because resolutions sound so cliche! 

1)  Cut the crap.  Meaning cut the crap out of our lives.  Make a more concerted effort to NOT buy more STUFF.  We don't need it, our family is very fortunate in that we want for nothing.  We need to take several steps back and appreciate our good fortune and stop wanting and accumulating so much stuff.  And it's a good lesson for the boys too, only get what you really need or want and then you value what you have more.

2) Along the lines of cutting the crap, make more of an effort to re-use and re-purpose.  If I need some storage I can use one of the thousand cardboard amazon boxes we have and gussy that up a bit with some modge podge or something.  Or be more creative with artwork and frames.  Just generally be more conscious of whether I can make something we already have work, rather than getting something new.

3)  Focus on healthy eating.  I'd like to eat more vegetarian meals, less meat, and generally more healthy food.  We've been doing ok on this, sometimes convenience gets the better of us lately, especially with the baby.  But Gavin is eating "real" food now, so even more reason to make sure what we eat is healthy for everyone.

4) Exercise regularly some how, some way.  I was doing SO good with this, I would run in the morning and then shower during Gavin's morning nap and feel great.  Then Gavin stopped napping in the morning and got very erratic with his afternoon naps, so I stopped running.  I would LOVE to get back to this, I just need to be ok in my head with being a little sweaty all day after I run.  I'd like to FINALLY run a 5k this year.

5)  Get our memories out of the damn digital world.  We have LOADS of pictures on memory cards, in digital storage, lots of places we can't see them regularly.  I want to do a family photo year book every year, it'd be a lot easier if I could gather pictures as we take them instead of one big undertaking at the end of the year.

6) Focus on the people.  This follows the same vein as the first two things.  Life is about experiences you have with other people, not stuff.  So let's focus more on people.  Date nights with the hubs, even if it's a date night in of pizza, beer, and a dvd.  Mommy-son dates with each of my boys to give them 1:1 time, even just to the park or zoo. And this is important too, cut the people that don't make me happy out of my life.  I've made a good effort towards this last year, but I want a reminder for this year.  Those friends that only call you when they want something, see-ya later!  Those people that constantly bitch and are full of drama, don't let the door hitcha! I want positive people that make me smile around me, life's too short to waste it on anyone else.

7) And lastly, the cliche mom goal, focus more on me.  Go out by myself 1x/month and get some coffee, use my (3 year old) gift certificates for a pedi.  Browse a book store.  Hell just go to Target by myself!  And be ok with doing things for me, like reading, knitting, sewing, BLOG, all those things I never have time for even if it's just for an hour on a weekend.

They're goals, not entirely quantifiable, but still, good reminders of the way I'd like to live my life for the next year.  What are your goals and how do you plan on achieving them?