Monday, July 16, 2012

Family Ties: Aunt & Uncle

Auntie in the hospital with the little man

I know I've said this before but... I am one lucky lady. I am blessed with the role of being an "aunt".

Currently my husband and I have a six year old niece and a five year old niece who love to imagine. We tell stories (typically of the "Princess Pirate Ninja" variety which entertains both the niece and uncle involved), play with plastic horses, make up songs, and we've been known to randomly be sucked under the ocean for an adventure. No joke. There we are just playing a game, watching a movie, or reading a story and all of a sudden the entire room fills with water. You would not believe what we see during this phenomenon - but most often our behavior makes the entire family either laugh aloud or shrug their shoulders. I am crazy about these girls.

Then there are the twins - our youngest niece and first nephew. Sweet babies. Only months old. I cannot put into words how much they make me smile. Every blink and smile makes me remember when our older nieces were just tiny too. I cannot wait to hear their little voices. I want to teach them all sorts of songs to sing and hum. I love to see my husband "be dudes" with that tiny man, and hold the littlest lady of our family close in his arms.

The aunt and uncle responsibilities are jobs that my husband and I take seriously. We want to be with our nieces and nephew whenever we can. We love to see them, talk to them, hold them, and be just plain crazy together. They are some of the many reasons we travel so often to see family all around the state.

We are so excited because this week our oldest niece is here for a visit! Maybe I'll have a few fun photos to share after her time here. She had promised her mom that us girls would "party all day while Uncle Joe has to go to work"!

Back when our oldest niece was a little one

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Florida 2012: Hunting for Shark's Teeth and Some Family Memories

In June we went to visit some family in Florida. We had a great time: going to the beautiful beaches, hitting up a microbrewery, hanging out with loved ones, and grilling out - an awesome start to summer. Since we were traveling light we decided to document our trip with the cameras on our phones... you know I love me some instagram :)

My favorite beach in Florida is the Caspersen Public Beach. It is so quiet and peaceful. I love the way the beach changes from soft to rocky and back to soft. And when one drives to this favorite beach it has a sweet little fishing pier and Sharky's restaurant on the way! Double bonus!

Did I mention the shark's teeth? That part is pretty fun. It makes a romantic beach walk turn into a treasure hunt. (Sometimes beach vacations need a little more "oomph" for those of us who cannot slow down for more than a minute and hunting for shark's teeth is just enough extra stimuli for my main man) This is why we head to a few specific beaches on our Sarasota County trips. We like the Siesta Key beaches for a lazy afternoon to kick back in a cabana and nap or talk, but we enjoy the Caspersen Beach morning walks for the shark's teeth hunt and quiet start to a day.

 Oh and we went bowling. Which isn't a typical stop on our Florida trips - it has surfaced in conversation over the past few months that my husband and I had never gone bowling together! So we found a nearby bowling alley and played a few rounds of pool, bowled a ton of games, and drank a tall Blue Moon. The next day we had super sore arms and decided we should bowl more often because we had so much fun.

Just yesterday we caught ourselves asking when we could go back to the beach again. And it probably goes without saying, I hope it is sooner rather than later. :) 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gad-zucch's - this is tasty!

Mmm.. the middle of summer means a bounty of summer squash. I think one might find this recipe a yummy choice to save for when harvesting a few zucchini squash. We like it with quinoa, however I think it would be lovely on its own (just veggies and white beans) or over cooked rice (instead of quinoa).

Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Peppers with Quinoa 

Vegetables and White Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion
1/3 green bell pepper
1/3 red bell pepper

3 garlic cloves (chopped to preference)
1 medium chopped zucchini
bay leaf
shake of garlic powder
sea salt
black pepper
4 tomatoes (peeled and sliced into wedges)
1 cup white beans (canned or already prepared)

Chop onions and peppers. Cook them in skillet with olive oil over medium heat for about five minutes. Add garlic and zucchini. Cook about four minutes. Season with crumbled bay leaf, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and cook three more minutes. Add the prepared white beans and continue to heat skillet until vegetables are soft and all ingredients are a desirable temperature for your family.


1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cup cold water; plus water to rinse

Soak 1 cup quinoa in a bit of water for five minutes. Drain/rinse using a strainer if needed. Add quinoa to a pot for boiling. Add 1 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil and then cover pot. Lower heat to allow quinoa to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and have quinoa sit for about five minutes with lid in place.

Plate up the quinoa (give it a good fluff!). Top with white beans and veggie skillet mixture. Serve it up!

*If you're up for a bit more protein add one pound browned and crumbled Italian sausage. The spices with the veggies are super pleasing! And the leftovers make for the perfect little lunch that keeps your belly full until dinner.

To do this I just brown the sausage first and then set the browned sausage crumbles to the side while I cook the vegetables and white beans. I add the sausage to the skillet at the end to make sure it is a consistent temperature as the rest of the food.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Update: My 12 in 2012

As I inch closer to the big 3-0, I've been slowly crossing off items on my 30 before 30 list. I recently realized in my quest to simplifying daily life it might be beneficial to break down my 30 into a manageable list of 12 tasks to complete by the end of this year. Now that it is half way through the year (what? 2012 can you please slow down?) I thought it was time for an update, not to dwell on how little I have accomplished, but to regroup in a formal way. 

My 12 as follows...

1. Explore my cooking creativity and post about 10 recipes on my blog this year - Started: I am no where near ten recipes posted, but I've been considering a variety of favorites to include while posting this summer.  
2. Run, hike, bike, or hit the gym four days a week - Started: a routine is mounting and there is noticeable growth in my running abilities; I will strive to document my physical activity to see if it is a routine four days each and every week
3. Sew an article of clothing that I or someone else will actually wear - Ideas are forming but not started
4. Make homemade bread an average of one loaf per month- Started: but inconsistent at best
5. Paint and decorate our bedroom- Not really started: but colors are being considered
6. Register and run a 5K- Not complete
7. Go on a brew-cation- Not complete
8. Start and care for a container garden- Started: needs work and continued care
9. Read and finish one book each month - Started: I am a reading fool who is currently involved in the Chronicles of Narnia
10. Organize my box madness- Started: I wish this could go much faster 
11. Draft plans and a working schedule for our "backyard heaven" - Started: we have drafted a list of ideas we want to include in our outdoor space
12. Host a party at our home - Not complete or started

Six months is a decent amount of time. Hopefully enough time to accomplish these remaining goals and tasks.