6/28/13

Pineapple Ham Kabobs

Minnesota summers are short-lived, so we make the most of them.  Long, cold winters drive us to patios and grills 7 days a week, provided there's no hail or lightning.  In the past couple weeks, I have become more and more comfortable with our grill, in part because I want to know how to use it and in part because our over crapped out on us and we're waiting on a replacement part.  But one can only eat so many hot dogs and chicken breasts.


I adapted my recipe from {here}

Gather up:
  • 1/2 lb ham (I had a spiral ham that I cut mine from, but chunks would be fine too)
  • 20 oz can of pineapple chunks in juice*
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar, halved
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce, halved
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger, halved
*If you use fresh pineapple and/or pineapple juice, heat the fruit and juice for a few minutes before using.  Pineapple juice contains bromelain, an amazing enzyme for tenderizing meat.  Not so great for soft, cured ham.  Be warned, if you skip this step when using fresh fruit, you'll probably end up with mushy meat.  Yuck.

Lace your skewers with ham and pineapple.  Make your first batch of marinade/glaze by mixing 2 Tbsp brown sugar and soy sauce (each) and 1/4 tsp of ginger.  Lay skewers in a shallow pan and pour marinade over everything.  Let sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours.


Mix a second round of glaze for brushing when things are on the grill.  Because the ham you're using is already cooked, you aren't really running a risk of cross-contamination if you reuse the glaze, but I just like to be in the practice of having it separate.  Plus the ingredients aren't exactly going to break the bank.  Plus the girls each get to use the whisk and mixing bowl in this case.  We all fight our own battles.


Heat your grill to a medium heat (around 300-350 degrees) and get a sheet of tin foil.  This isn't necessary, but for easy of flip-age and clean-up, I'd highly recommend it.  Heat your kabobs over the heat for about 10 minutes or so, glazing and turning occasionally.  Again, the ham is cooked, so you're just trying to heat things through and giving the sugar in the glaze a chance to do it's thing over the heat.

Once you're satisfied with temperature and sugar-crusting on the salty-sweet goodness you've created, pull them from the heat and eat!


I made six kabobs.
Avery ate about 1/2 the ham off 1.  Liv ate the pineapple.
I ate one.
Nate ate two.
Liv ate the other two.  The girl loves sweet, savory, tasty things!

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6/27/13

{diy} Painted Wall Art

This project has been, by far, one of my favorites that I've done.  I don't consider myself a great artist, or real handy when it comes to a paint brush, but this project turned out pretty well that I might reconsider!


I found inspiration from {this} blogger who found her own inspiration.  Isn't the internet great?  We're just sharing ideas about cookies and painting (and not about deep government consipracies).  While I loved her take on things, the directions were exactly crystal clear, especially for those less-than-great-math people and non-artists.  Hopefully my tutorial fills in some of those gaps.

Or just inspires you to create your own.
Or just brags about how cute the photo wall is in the girls' new room.
Any of the above would be a win for me!

Let's get started:
  • You'll want a canvas or board, any size
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Ruler and/or straight-edge
  • Circle template - size to be determined based on the size of your overall canvas (more details in the tutorial)
  • Paint (I used acrylic) - I'd recommend at least 6-7 colors to make the design random without running the risk of "like colors" touching each other on the canvas
  • Small paint brush, good for detail work
To start, figure out how large you want your "flower bursts" to be.  You could do a very small version to a very large, dramatic shape.  Being the math-incompetant that I mentioned, I stuck to round numbers.  My canvas is 10" x 14", so I used a 4" circle.  Even numbers make me happy.

Now we need some straight guide lines.  Because my circle was 4 inches, I took half of that to draw my grid, 2 inches apart.  See why I like even numbers?  Once you have your grid, it's time to draw some circles.


Now for drawing the circles - hopefully my instructions are helpful!

  • Starting on your top line, draw circles edge to edge.  Don't worry about being super perfect, you can fix the shapes with your paint.  Try to draw lightly, you'll be doing some erasing when we're all done.
  • Move to your 2nd line and now stagger the circle - you'll end up drawing half circles and that's OK.
  • Keep moving down, staggering as you go.
  • You'll have to go back to your top line and finish the stagger, half circle pattern.
  • And now you've got your blossoms!!



Here's the fun.  Start painting!  I started with a handful of each in a color and ended up going back and adding as I went to make sure there was a balance and shape that I was going for.  Leave some white space as you see fit, not every "leaf" needs to be painted.  Or do them all - it's your art!


Things will start to come together and you'll start to get really excited.  And you should!  This is a totally unique thing that people will comment on every time they see it and you can say I MADE THAT!  Even if it's not a completely original idea, it's completely original to you, and that's OK to brag about!  When everything set and dried, go back and erase your pencil lines from the white space and make sure things are neat and clean.

Hang.
Admire.



Silhouette art via {Olive & Birch} and {this tutorial}
{Washi Tape Letters}
I'll Eat You Up print via {Olive & Birch}

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6/26/13

They Pick You

A good friend of mine and her husband are deep within the adoption process.  They've gone through the home study, made their book of "here's how wonderful we are and how much we love you and your baby".  She's awesome.  She'll be a great mom.  They get updates from their agency on prospective mothers and their interest.  Right now, their book is in a pile of ten in the hands of a birth mom.  That girl will pick three families she wants to meet.
Hopefully one of them will be the recipients of this amazing gift.

As my friend is updating me, she knows there's a chance that the birth mom doesn't even want to talk with them, let alone give her child to them to raise forever.
It's a painful risk that they may have to make more than once.

I am the {perfect parent.}
I offered the (unknowing and polite) comfort:  If it's your baby, you'll know.
And as I said it, I know it's very true.
Not just for them, but for every mother.

I thought of Avery and I shared my tale of woe that I experienced in my early (and not-so-early) days of pregnancy with her.
I'm {lucky} to have her.
I {love} her more than she'll ever know.
I am embarrassed reluctant willing to admit that I wasn't exactly thrilled when I learned that Avery was coming.
I was very selfish and upset and it had nothing to do with HER.  I didn't even know her.
I was worried I wouldn't do a good job.
I had a toddler I feared I was already messing up and here was another kid for me to send in to therapy 12 years from now.
It was a rough time and I had doubts within myself.
Every mom does.
You know you do.

I told my friend this and how, in that moment, after everything that I'd felt and feared, all the pain of the pregnancy and PAIN of my delivery, here was this tiny, blinking little person searching for my face and I just knew she was mine.  Or more, that I was hers.

I
was
her
mom.



When you're a mom, you just know.
I believe that Avery was picked just for me.
She probably even chose me.  I'll never know why.

My friend's baby, they're coming.
They've picked her already.

What Time Is It?

No, it's not "time for the lunch" for those of you who have Bubble Guppies on repeat in your house.

It's time to snap up a super cute, custom wall clock for your home or as a gift.  Being that this is the heart of wedding season, wouldn't this make a darling gift for the new Mr. and Mrs.?  Or even plan ahead and get a few Christmas gifts checked off your list!


I'm loving the chevron one, and the yellow is very classic and clean for a kitchen.


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6/25/13

Summer TV I'll Be Watching

I miss "regular" TV.
Who's with me?
Modern Family, Game of Thrones, Top Chef, New Girl, Grey's Anatomy... anything that makes me feel like the DVR is full and the world is my oyster.
I mean, Homeland doesn't even come back until September for crying out loud!
Summer sucks.
Every thing is in reruns.  The DVR sits barron with the classic round of Phineus and Ferb and Doc McSuffins.  The hubs and I, we crave more.

Thankfully, we are the dawn of a new summer season.  Most shows are likely to suck, failing to meet the needs of a "fall lineup" we remain hopeful that there is at least one or two we can jump on the bandwagon of and say "we LOVE that show, you should totally watch it!"

Here's what we'll be watching (or for sure me, Nate has yet to glom on to Bravo TV the way I have)

Catfish: The Show (MTV)
The poor people.  Love on the internet.  Thank God I'm married.  The fear of dating is one real reason I stay married.  I never want to swim in that pool again.  Fights over socks on the floor and the lack of love notes be damned.  I don't want to have to date again!

Last Comic Standing (NBC)
Hilarious.  Some people are horrible, sure, but this show has seen some great talent - including Amy Schumer who has her own show on Comedy Central.  Tape it.  You'll laugh, I promise.


Under the Dome (CBS)
This is brand new.  A little like Lost in that it's totally unreliable and will more than likely have polar bears wandering the jungle and we'll all drink the Kool-Aid and love it.  Or maybe not.  But it will pass some time until Newsroom starts in July.

Real Housewives of NJ (Bravo)
It's the show I hate to love.  These women are nuts.  They have very little to offer the public at large and yet I watch and, yes, TALK TO, the TV like they can hear me correcting them.  It's a franchise that has done incredibly well and will continue to do so.  I might as well follow the lemmings over the cliff on this one.

We'll still watch:
Next Food Network Star
Next Design Star
The Soup, because I love Joel McHale
Newsroom (starts in July)
and reruns of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives because other than Chopped, that's all the Food Network seems to play!


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6/19/13

Deep End of the Pool


This title isn't a deep metaphor.
It's literally about Liv learning to swim in the deep end of the pool, without any floaty or life jacket.
And it's a small milestone to some, but listen:


This girl is only 4.
And then, she's FOUR.  Outloud, without fear or reservation.

Nate and I have a family history with water.
I walked in to the pool one afternoon as a small girl and my parents turned around to find me wide-eyed under water.
Nate's brother drowned days before his 3rd birthday.
Another brother nearly drowned, was in a coma and has never been the same since he woke.
We kinda have a thing about water safety.

So having Liv be comfortable, even in a panic, to buy us a few extra seconds was always a blessing.
This weekend, she took major strides - or strokes - as it were.
She swam between Nate, myself and my mom in the deep end of the pool.
She eventually swam across the pool, maybe about 12 feet.
Then she jumped into the pool and swam to the side.

All of this is fun, but it's crazy for me to watch this little person become a person.
It was like watching her take steps for the first time - that memory is still so vivid in my mind, I can see it now.  Chubby little arms and legs working like Frankenstein to move three steps in a row, falling with a smile and giggle into my arms.  I squealed myself, and cheered for more, (foolishly) encouraging her to do it again!

So she swam.
She's a swimmer.
She swims.
A little like "What About Bob" but it'll do.


6/18/13

Tomatillo-Pineapple Salsa

With the bright sunny weather we're FINALLY experiencing, I thought I'd bring back some of our grilling favorites from last summer.

We are a family of dips, snacks and apps.  This salsa fits the bill perfectly.


This is a very easy packet to make, but can be a little putsy when it comes to dicing everything.


Impressed by my knife skills?  Don't be.  As is the tradition, one year, the hubs got me a gift that is AS SEEN ON TV.  One year I got the Vadalia Chop Wizard. It's basically this little press that has perfect squares, designed for easily chopping onion.  I use it for peppers too when I'm making a salsa like this one.

Get together the ingredients:
  • 3/4 lb tomatillos (about 10 or so), husked removed and diced
  • 1/2 c diced pineapple
  • 1 scallop, minced
  • 1 jalapeƱo, mined (more or less to you taste and spice levels)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
Toss everything together, put in it's own little shiny, foil packet and grill over medium-high heat for about 12 minutes.

LET IT COOL.

Toss with chopped, fresh cilantro and serve.  This is the perfect make-ahead dip/party food because it does take time to cool before you serve it.  You could eat it warm, but I personally found it a little odd, probably only because I'm used to salsa being cold, or at very least, room temperature.


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6/14/13

Good Thing, Bad Thing

Another week survived, another round of wins to celebrate and wounds to bandage and baby a bit.


We'll start with the good stuff this week:

This past Sunday was our six-year anniversary.  Six years of marriage.  Not a huge number to some, but based on the past year or so that we've had, it's a celebration for sure.  Life gets hard and marriage isn't always a honeymoon.  But we were able to relax for the evening without the kids, chat about nothing and hang out like we "used" to before all that life stuff got in the way.  And Game of Thrones was on too, so that was a bonus for sure!

Bad thing.

Avery was interested in potty training and then some little switch flipped in her 2-year old brain and she's back to really having zero interest.  I know she's barely two, and the chances of her going to Kindergarten in diapers is pretty slim, but it was just so exciting only to stall out.  She has taken her lack of interest into refusing to wear ANYTHING on her butt some mornings.  I give you exhibit A.


No diaper.  No pull-up.  No "big girl undies" that she'll pee right through.  So made her play outside on the deck with me while I read my magazine.  I think ultimately I won that battle.  We'll see about the war.



How was your week??

Be sure to link up and share along!  Thanks!







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6/13/13

Hot Mama Workout Playlist

I am by no means a "Hot Mama" (yet) but I'm trying.
That's the important thing.
And we all know that exercise can get boring (otherwise people wouldn't struggle to get to the gym, or tie on those tennis shoes!)

I thought I'd put out my playlist for you all to freshen up your own tunes!  I've got a mix of old songs (thing basement dancing in college) to newer things (hello Bruno Mars and Macklemore!)




  • Runaway Baby, Bruno Mars
  • Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepson
  • Put the Gun Down, ZZ Ward
  • Next to Me, Emilie Sande
  • Single Ladies, Beyonce
  • Hey Mama, Black Eye Peas
  • (I Got That) Boom Boom, Britney Spears
  • Locked Out of Heaven, Bruno Mars
  • Thnks Fr Th Mmrs, Fall Out Boy
  • Right Round, Flo Rida
  • Don't Stop (For Anything), Jonny Lang
  • SexyBack, Justin Timberlake
  • Thrift Shop, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5
  • Get Naked, Method of Meyhem
  • Maneater, Nelly Furtado
  • BOB, Outkast
  • It Wasn't Me, Shaggy
  • Faded, Soul Decision
  • Can't Hold Us, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

The joke is that the list is over 2 hours of music, and I NEVER workout for that long.  But with a bigger list, all you've gotta do is hit "play, shuffle" and you're off and running!  Literally!

If you've got a list or songs that we should have, share them!!  I'm always game for something new and fresh to keep my workouts exciting!



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6/12/13

Washi Tape Letters

I have slowly been putting together new things to hang in the girls' room.  With the new bunk bed, and fresh paint, we needed some new wall decor.  Before, I had each girl's name in large cardboard letters, but I wanted something new to put on the gallery wall I've been planning (for about two months now, but whatever.  I'll get there!)



I bring you my washi tape letters.  Super simple, really cute and totally customizable to your color pallet.


Snag your letters at your local craft store.  You can find washi tape at most craft stores (your Michaels and Joann Fabrics), of a specialty scrapbooking store (like Archivers) or even online (my favorite place to shop is In the Clear.)


Plan out your design and start stretching tape.  If your letter has a hole in it, just stretch right over it.  You want straight lines and you can trim the excess when you're all done.  Washi tape doesn't exactly have industrial-strength stick, so cut your strips long enough to wrap to the sides/back of the letter so you get a good hold.  Peeling washi = ugly washi.


When you're all done, grab a cutting mat and Xacto knife and flip your letter over.  Time to trim!  Remember, error on the side of cutting longer pieces to wrap and stick to the letter to hold the tape securely


Silhouette print and I'll Eat You Up prints by {Olive & Birch}

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6/11/13

Summer...If Only For The Day

This summer has been slow going, to say the least.  I know there are parts of the country that are baking with 100+ degree days, but here in Minnesota, we've had rain and 50s for weeks.

The lack of vitamin D is crippling.
Add to that the wild children who are cooped inside STILL after a long winter, and we're all going a little batty.
But today, the clouds parted ways and we saw that bright, warm, lovely sun for the afternoon.

When we got home today, the girls immediately put on swim suits so we could run around in the yard and play with WATER.  Sprinklers and water tables might be the best thing for any summer yard.  The simple joy of getting wet and splashed and dumping water can keep my kids busy for hours.  Awesome.  I got to sit and sweat with a Diet Coke and Candy Crush, and they soaked their hair, and had grass stick to their feet.  Classic sign of summer.


What's your favorite thing to do in the summer??

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6/6/13

Good Job?

I want to have a moment where I just vent,
dump,
crab and complain this week.

It was a rough one.

Avery is 2.
She is all of two and just a shit.
I can say that.
I love her.
My world would end if she were gone.
But I actually called her an asshole this week.
Not my proudest moment.

She tests my patience.  I already know I have very little patience to spare.
Small children only grate on what I have.  After Liv at this age, (and then some) there is very little to speak of.
Refusing to cooperate.  To pick up.  To listen.  To do ANYTHING.  Rubs me raw.
Tuesday was my breaking point.
I had one of those moments where I thought:  I'm failing.

I'm failing to financially provide, to succeed at this little blogging thing, to succeed at my Etsy shop, to succeed in my efforts to share the cute of Stella & Dot.  I'm failing to feel sane at home.
Laundry is piling, floors are dirty, my kids have ketchup on their face from God-know-when.
The husband and I are together, but let's be honest - we have had our days when it has been touch-and-go.

They love me and I love them.
But am I really doing a good job?

It feels like I'm pulled everywhere and can't do it all OK enough.
Who knows - I could be pulled in one solid direction and still fail.
Even better feeling.

Deep down, my rational voice is shouting: You're doing fine.
Probably better than fine.
You're doing great.
But that voice was far away this week.  Like way down, hard to hear, buried so deep.
I know my kids love me.
I know my husband loves me.
I should love me too.

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6/5/13

High Cotton Style {giveaway}

It's been awhile since I've done a giveaway, but here's one that's super unique and fun for any reader, family or home!

I introduced you all to Fletcher from High Cotton Style a few days ago.  Super cute blogger, focused on home design, party planning and the occasional yummy-in-my-tummy dish!



Fletcher is offering up her design services and TWO lucky readers are going to win e-design boards from High Cotton Style.  They are valued at $50 each and include a custom room design with sources, email consults and help laying out the room.  Don't worry - you can totally do a room on a budget- she will even scour Craigslist to find the perfect piece!




Who doesn't have a room they'd love a little help with or maybe a summer party that needs more than a Pinterest board to get accomplished!?


a Rafflecopter giveaway





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