Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's for dinner?

Matt is the "chef" in our family. He loves cooking gourmet meals and he is really good at it. Now that he is working though, the menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation is done by me. My style of cooking is pretty different from Matt's. I prefer recipes that are simple and don't have tons of ingredients, and can be made ahead of time (and thankfully Matt is grateful for anything I cook!).

I've found some really good recipes so far. I've enjoyed reading Kevin & Amanda's blog for a long time (this is where I've gotten all the fonts for my blog). I like reading her photography tips too. But I hadn't really paid attention to the recipes. Until this week. I made 5 of them!

On Monday I made coffee crusted steaks. They were SO good! The recipe said that you would like them even if you don't like coffee, and I agree. I will definitely make these again. I also made roasted carrots that could be made ahead of time. So easy and good.

On Tuesday I made Pioneer Woman's spicy roasted chicken legs. I'm not really a fan of chicken legs or dark meat in general, but these were good (and cheap!) and I'll definitely make these again. I did follow Amanda's advice and omitted the lemon juice and cooked them for 20 minutes on each side. I also made her mac-n-cheese (with gluten-free noodles). I consider myself a connoisseur of mac-n-cheese. I may very well be my favorite food. Anyway, this was good but didn't completely blow my socks off. It didn't have enough flavor for me, which I think is due to the colby jack - next time I'll use sharp cheddar or maybe throw in a little parmesan for flavor.

And I made her homemade ice cream! It doesn't require an ice cream maker. It is basically 2 cups of heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks and folded into a can of sweetened condensed milk that has been mixed with any toppings you want. I tried her cinnamon bun flavor, and it was AMAZING! Although a warning - it is very rich!

And since I haven't posted a picture of Will in a while, here he is trying out his new jogging stroller. (I don't jog, but I do take Will on long walks every day on uneven sidewalks and it is so much easier with a jogging stroller. Thankfully I found this one pretty cheap at a consignment sale and am pretty happy with it!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Our free find!

We were driving down the road on a Saturday afternoon a few months ago and saw a "free" sign next to a bunch of furniture. We assumed that a yard sale had just ended and they just wanted to get rid of the stuff, but we must have been the first people there. We pulled over, and realized that in three different places were pieces of a table - the base, the top, and a leaf. It was in bad shape - it was nicked up and there were different colors of paint splattered on it, and the middle leaf had never been painted. We threw it in the back of our car and put it in our basement, thinking that if we got around to it, we could potentially get it in good enough shape to use. Our current dining table was one that my parents had refinished when they'd first gotten married, and is nice but small, seating only 4 people.

We pulled it out a couple of weeks ago and decided we'd try to get it in good shape. We sanded it, primed it, and painted it. Although it took 4 coats of paint and 3 trips to Home Depot, we finally finished it (along with some help from my mom last week)!

We sanded the edges to give it a distressed look, which was hard to do because there was a layer of white paint underneath.

I think it turned out really well! We also snagged a side table (you can see the edge of it in the top picture), a desk for Will one day, and a bed frame - all for free...a pretty successful afternoon!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our week

Matt started work last week and so far the adjustment for both of us is going pretty well. Last week was mom was here! It was so great to have her here to help with Will and to help me finish a few things around our house.

Matt's first day of work

Will thought it was way more fun to play in the sticks:)

This week has gone fairly well also. Matt leaves for the train before Will and I wake up in the morning, but so far most nights he is able to get home by 7 - in time to see Will before he goes to sleep at night. Thankfully Will has been an absolute joy this week - pretty much always in a good mood.

excuse the blurriness - I took it with my phone:)

This morning when I left for Bible study, I found out someone had broken into our car. They stole our 5 year old GPS and a few rolls of quarters. They must have been desperate. I'm thankful no one was hurt.

Also, please keep our friends Doug and Jenna in your prayers. Doug was hit by a forklift on Monday and had to have part of his leg amputated today. You can read more of their story here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

14 months

Will is 14 months old today!

My sweet buddy,
  • Your favorite word is "yum yum." In fact, it is the only word so far that we think you can attach meaning to. Yesterday when we were feeding you we said "yum yum Will!" and you repeated it for the rest of the day and all day today! It is pretty cute!
  • Your other favorite word is "boo!" which comes out like "buh". We say "boo!" all the time when we are playing peek-a-boo with you, and you love it!
  • You LOVE playing with your cozy coupe car (the Flinstones looking car). You crawl in and out of it all day, and love going for rides around the house.
  • Your favorite foods are bananas, grapes, sweet potatoes and goldfish!
  • You think sneezing is hilarious, both when you do it or when someone else does it - you start giggling every time.
  • When it is time for your naps or bedtime, we pick you up and say, "Let's go night-night" and you always wave goodbye (even if there is no one there) and then put your thumb in your mouth. You know you are headed to bed!
  • You also associate opening the front door with waving (I guess from when we wave to Matt when he's leaving) so anytime we go out the door, you automatically start waving.
  • Even though you've taken a step a couple of times, you are still crawling (which is just fine for your momma!). You do like to push yourself up and balance and you are really good at it!
  • You love sitting in our laps while we rock and read you books at night. You are remarkably calm and seem to enjoy it, which I love!
  • You are the sweetest little boy and I love you SO much!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

And the winner is...

Comment #4 - Casey!!!

(I used random number generator to draw a winner). Congrats Casey and I'll get the book in the mail to you this week!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


***Be sure to leave a comment for the book giveaway if you want to be entered to win a copy...I'll draw a winner tomorrow!

Will has 2 grandparents that are having birthdays this week...

My dad's birthday was Monday!

And Mrs. Dart's (60th!) birthday is TODAY!!!

A very happy birthday to you both...we love you!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Here are a few more pictures from last week. The weather has been perfect - sunny and in the 70's, so we went down by Lake Michigan one afternoon to enjoy it.

Will enjoyed a popsicle with his dad...

And then they fed ducks in a nearby pond...

We also had a few funny moments last week...

I accidentally left the pantry door open

Matt taught him how to take Coco for a ride around the house

Matt took Will to play outside last week and the next thing I knew he was giving Will rides around the yard in a wheel barrow with his bike seat inside.

And another time Matt took Will for rides around the house by attaching the dog leash to his toy and pulling him around

He enjoyed it!

Matt started work this week, and I know Buddy is going to miss having him around so much. I'm just not as fun as his daddy:)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Hiding Place

We went to the Illinois Holocaust Museum on Friday. It is something we'd wanted to do for awhile - it was just finished being built earlier this year, and it is actually just down the street from us!

The museum did a really good job of bringing the reality of the Holocaust to life. You can actually stand in a real boxcar that Jews would have been crammed into on their way to death camps - it was made in Germany in the 30's and shipped over here to go in the museum. The museum also does a good job at pointing out the genocide that is still happening in the world today, like in Darfur, Rwanda, etc.

Photography wasn't allowed inside, so I only snapped a couple of pictures outside before we went in.

I also reread one of my favorite books this week - The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. It is the true story of Corrie ten Boom, who lived in Holland during the Holocaust and risked her life to work in the underground movement to hide Jews in a secret room in her house. She was eventually caught, and along with her family, went to Hitler's concentration camps. But instead of focusing on the horrible things that were happening to her, she was able to look past them and see God at work. The story is inspiring and powerful and you won't read it without being impacted.

AND... I'd like to give a copy away! Just leave me a comment and I'll draw a random winner to receive a copy (comment on anything you'd like, or tell me a book that YOU enjoyed!). And please feel free to leave a comment if you are family, if you've never left a comment before, or if you don't even know me! I'll leave it up for a week to give everyone a chance to comment, and then I'll draw a winner on Friday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lincoln Park Zoo

This was our last week before Matt starts his new job on Monday, and we've taken full advantage of it! I took lots of pictures, so bear with me for a few days while I catch up! On Thursday, we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo!

It is such a neat zoo - you can see Chicago's skyline as you walk around. And the zoo is so big! We tried to fit our visit into a couple of hours between Will's naps, but we could have easily spent a whole day there.

Will was a little young to appreciate the different animals, but he did enjoy looking at some of them!

It was so much fun! I think we'll definitely be going back as Will gets a little bit older!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


In case you were ever tempted to feel sorry for us for not eating gluten - I can assure you we do eat sweets! Ha! Here's a few things we've made recently...

I noticed this recipe last week in a church cookbook by Aunt Karen gave me - it looked easy to make, had ingredients we had on hand, and didn't call for flour! Regular cornflakes are actually NOT gluten-free (no cereal is, unless it expressly says "Gluten-free" on the box) but we happened to have a box of gluten-free cornflakes. Warning: these are rich and a little goes a long way!

Cornflake Treats

1 c white karo syrup
1 c sugar
12 ounce jar crunchy peanut butter
6 c cornflakes

Mix syrup and sugar in pan. Melt sugar on low heat. Remove from heat and melt in peanut butter. Quickly stir in cornflakes. Drop onto wax paper.

Matt made a creme caramel, which is similar to flan. It was dee-lish. Light and not too rich and would be perfect with berries!

Creme Caramel

For the caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
2 T water

For the custard:
2 c milk
4 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt

Combine ingredients for the caramel over medium heat and cook until brown. Pour into 6 4-ounce ramekins. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 325. Combine ingredients for the custard and blend. Fill ramekins and put in water bath in oven. Bake 30-40 min. until almost set. Allow them to cool, and then refrigerate until well chilled. Turn out onto plates before serving.

We had friends over for dinner last weekend who cannot eat dairy or soy. Making a gluten-free, dairy-free meal isn't too hard to do (since meat and vegetables are naturally gluten and dairy free), but dessert was another story! I came up with a solution - sorbet! We made strawberry, peach, raspberry sorbet in our ice-cream maker. It was really good!

We kind of made this up ourselves, but here is what we did:

2 c sugar
1/2 c water
2 1/2 quarts of whole fruit (we used strawberries, peaches, and raspberries)
2 limes

Dissolve sugar in water over low heat. Refrigerate until chilled. Puree fruit (we removed a lot of the seeds) and add juice from limes. Refrigerate until chilled. Combine simple syrup with fruit and poor into ice-cream maker and make according to directions.

Matt also tried making creme brulee this week for the first time. It turned out great! It tasted similar to the creme caramel, but was much richer.

Creme Brulee

1 c milk
1 c cream
1 t vanilla
1/2 c sugar
8 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325. Combine milk, cream and vanilla and bring to a simmer. Combine sugar and yolks and whisk for 30 seconds. Pour the milk-cream mixture into the yolks slowly while whisking continuously. Pour into ramekins and bake in a covered water bath for 30 min. Cool, and top custard with sugar. Heat the sugar with a propane torch until it caramelizes.

Since he had so many egg whites left over after making creme brulee, Matt decided to make meringues! They looked better than they tasted - we're not sure why but they were incredibly sticky and chewy. It was raining the day we made them, so maybe that had something to do with it. So, I'll wait to share this recipe once we figure out how to make them correctly!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fall weather

A few pictures of Will enjoying the fall weather we've had this weekend...

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