Friday, August 26, 2016

Summer Splash: Golden Pearl Barley Soup

There's something to be said for tradition.  I'm a big fan of routine, I like knowing what to expect.  Plus, when you do the same thing year after year, you have something to look forward to!  Like Little LO's birthday party.  This is the second year in a row it's been at their local splashpad, which Thatkid adores.  And was excited about from the minute he was invited.

It only took moments after we got there for Thatkid to be soaking wet.

And shortly after that Little LO was in the same wet boat.

This party also celebrate Littler LO turning one.  Both he and Thatbaby followed their older brothers in getting as wet as possible.  Although they tended to soak themselves instead of each other.

With September only days away, the summer fun is almost at an end. We're trying to squeeze in the last bits of it over the next few weeks.  And taking advantage of the summer produce that won't be good too much longer.  Our house is awash in summer stone fruit and watermelon.  Everything I want to eat right now is light, like salads, or this brothy soup loaded with vegetables.  It may be a little early for barley soup, which to me is such a classic fall staple, but it doesn't have to be a heavy meal.  Keeping the emphasis on the vegetables means it's a great soup to enjoy year round.  Mine is filled with root vegetables, but really anything seasonal can be substituted.  It would be just as delicious with tomato, zucchini, and summer squash.

Golden Pearl Barley Soup 
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
3 Tbsp pearl barley
pinch of saffron
pinch of mixed herbs
2 oz rutabaga
1 carrot, chopped
dash of soy sauce
handful of mung beansprouts
freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat half of the vegetable broth in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion and celery and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the pearl barley, saffron, and mixed herbs and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the rutabaga, carrot, and rest of the vegetable broth ot the pan, cover and simmer for another 20 minutes, until the vegetables and barley are tender.
  5. Add the soy sauce, pepper, and beansprouts, simmer for 2-3 minutes and serve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crave Wednesday: Dagwood Sandwiches

Thatkid has turned into quite the little theater lover this past year.  Which seems like it would be a given, since his parents met doing a play together.  It just runs in the family.

I'm not going to lie.  I adore the fact that he has a love of musicals.  He requests the soundtrack to Hamilton almost every time he gets into the car.  And what's even better is that he seems to have taken after me in his ability to memorize songs.  So he joins in the singing with me.  We're a regular Von Trapp family these days, minus a child or two.

He has an entire line up of shows to see this summer, and I was lucky enough to accompany him to two of those performances.  Our own little date nights.

The first show we saw was Peter Pan.  Which was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. 

He sat, enthralled, not wanting to leave even to go to the bathroom.  Curling up against me at the end, hours past his bedtime.  And now I am often treated to crowing and singing about how he taught his shadow to stick to the tip of his toe.

Last weekend we went and saw Beauty and the Beast.  This is a new show for me.  I know the story, and have seen the cartoon, but never the musical.  The venue was open seating, so as we arrived I told Thatkid he could sit wherever he wanted.  He chose the very last row, excitedly proclaiming every few minutes about what great seats they were.

But at intermission I lost my little theater date when he found a school friend was also at the production.  He spent the second act snuggling with her and sharing snacks as they remarked on their favorite parts of the show. 

Even though these end up being late nights for him, taking him to summer theater is one of my favorite things.  I think the outdoor venue is perfect for young theater-goers.  And the warm summer nights make the whole thing seem magical.  We bring our dinners with us.  Thatkid requests chicken nuggets, not minding that they're usually cold by the time we are seated.  I guess it's kind of like fried chicken at picnics.  Personally, I go for a great sandwich.  Delicious even hours after it's made.  I also think sandwiches add to the picnic atmosphere.  But not peanut butter and jelly, a night at the theater calls for something a little more...special.  Meats, cheese, and vegetables piled high makes for a really filling meal, just like something you'd grab at a deli or restaurant, but easy enough to make at home and throw in bag.

Dagwood Sandwiches (From Cooking Light)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsps dill pickle relish
8 slices 10-grain bread, cut in half diagonally
4 small curly leaf lettuce leaves
8 slices tomato
3 oz thinly slide deli no-salt-added roasted turkey breast
2 sliced reduced-fat cheddar cheese, cut in half diagonally
3 oz thinly sliced deli 25% lower sodium Black Forest ham
2 slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese, cut in half diagonally
8 thinly sliced green bell pepper rings
16 thin slices cucumber
4 pimento stuffed olives
8 grape tomatoes

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients.  
  2. Spread about 1 Tbsp mayonnaise mixture on 1 side of each of 4 bread triangles.
  3. Top with 1 lettuce leaf, 2 tomato slices, 3/4 oz turkey, 1 cheddar cheese triangle, 3/4 oz ham, 1 Swiss cheese triangle, 2 bell pepper rings, and 4 cucumber slices.
  4. Cover sandwiches with remaining bread triangles.
  5. Thread 1 olive and 2 grape tomatoes onto 4 long wooden picks and secure the sandwiches with the pics.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mommy Mondays: 14 months

Weight: 23lbs (+14bs 12oz) (leftover from 12 months)
Height: 32 inches (+10.5 inches) (leftover from 12 months)
Head: 18.4 inches (leftover from 12 months)

Sleep:  Still bad.  I'm so beyond over it at this point, since by now Thatkid was sleeping through the night.  Thatbaby is not.  Not only is he not sleeping through the night, but he doesn't nurse to sleep.  Even when Thatkid woke, he would eat and go right back to sleep, Thatbaby is up up up.  He hates sleeping.  It takes us forever to get to sleep, and if he wakes, forever to get him back down.  Whcih time is marked by screaming and thrashing.  It is not good times.

Eating: Still loving watermelon.  I keep a bowl in the fridge, which he has figured out and loves to dig into it.  He comes running whenever he hears the fridge open.  He's also much better with drinking whole milk, which has not lowered his desire to nurse on the weekends.  He has also discovered smoothies this month, which is an easy breakfast go-to for the boys. 

Best Moment:  He's walking!  This feels like a big deal because we thought it was going to happen earlier.  He was so much faster with physical development than Thatbaby, and Thatbaby was walking by 13 months.  It's really hard not to compare.  But I now have 2 mobile children.  (although I would much prefer having 2 children who slept through the night)

Monthly Wisdom: It's not my place or my story, but I'm coping with some heavy stuff right now, so my monthly wisdom is to remind myself how lucky I am.  That even the worst of what I'm going through is better than what others are dealing with.  It's all about perspective.

Goals for the Upcoming Month:
- more sleep, for everyone

Things Thatbaby is doing:
- teething: another tooth this month
- walking
- waving at cars/buses/trucks that pass by
- "tickle tickle" : he attempts to tickle you on command while saying something that can be translated as "tickle tickle"
- words: He's still not saying anything recognizable, other than maybe "Dada" but he's really started communicating.  With the pointing and signs, he does a pretty good job of getting his wants across.
- His new favorite book is "Pat the Bunny Birthday."  He loves to sniff the scratch and sniff pizza, pat the bunny, find the bunny under the bed, and blow out the candle.
- Scootering.  He figured out how to use Thatkid's scooter and he's amazing at it.  He pushes himself up and down the paved part of our backyard.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Runday: Yosemite

It's no secret that one of my favorite things to do on vacation is bring along my running shoes and use them to explore my new surroundings.

We spent last week in Yosemite and I was really excited about getting a chance to run through the National Park.  But like most things in my life, the best laid plans often go awry.

To begin with, Thatbaby had some major sleeping issues during the trip.  Which means I wasn't sleeping much and definitely not in the mood to rise early and head out.  I was soaking every nonexistent minute of sleep I could.  

Our last morning I decide that it was now or never, and since we didn't have anything planned other before packing up the car and heading out, I didn't need to rise especially early.  And I took advantage of that fact.

My plan was to do one of my Zombie Runs, which is one of my favorite things to listen to when I'm running by myself.  Except I had no service or wireless, which meant I realized very quickly into the run that I wasn't going to be able to download the run and use it. 

Which wasn't a huge deal.  I had music on my phone and running to music is always enjoyable.  Except I hadn't charged my wireless headphones, so before the first song was over, they gave me the "low battery warning" and turned off. 

This was obviously the run where everything went wrong.  I shouldn't say that.  Because the run itself was great.  I ended up being my own soundtrack, signing in my head as I took in the beautiful sites. 

I ran a path we had traversed numerous times during our stay in Yosemite, but this was by far the most enjoyable time.  All by myself with no distractions.  It was still early enough that I didn't run into many people who were also out, which almost made me feel as though I had the whole park to myself.   I felt like I could enjoy the trees, the mountains, the air. I wish I had gotten out more often, but I'm so grateful for the the fact I got out at all!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Crave Wednesday: Classic Italian Panini with Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella

I love summer concerts.  Outside, in a park, it's one of my favorite family time activities.

Typically we hit up the Botanical Garden for their summer concert series.  And I had every intention of doing it again this year, when I noticed that one of our favorite entertainers was performing a little closer to home.

Thatkid loves Hullabaloo, so that's the band we usually see during the summer concert series.  They're ubiquitous with kids concerts here in San Diego.  So it really wasn't terribly surprising to find out they were performing at the Children's Discovery Museum's Summer Concert Series too.  Since we already are huge fans of the Children's Discovery Museum, the idea of getting to play, picnic, and listen to music seemed like a really great way to spend a Friday night.

The museum has extended hours the nights of the concerts.  We tried to get there a little early for the boys to play.  Thatkid made a beeline for the outdoor area and we set Thatbaby up with the water and legos.

In addition to extended hours, the museum had food and beverages for the concert goers.  There was a food truck with organic meals.

Wine and beer for $5 a glass, and Italian Ice for dessert.

We settled in for dinner while we waited for the music to begin.  Thatboy had lamb and brussels sprouts, while the boys and I had macaroni and cheese.  Mine was a little more grown up with lobster in it.

When the music started, the kids rushed the stage.

Thatbaby got into the action.

As did Thatkid.

When Hullabaloo took a break we enjoyed some Italian Ice.

This was the first time Thatbaby was really able to enjoy the museum. He went down the slide, played with magnets and compressed air, and especially the little air hose!

There's one more concert, this Friday, August 5.  I highly recommend it if you don't have plans and you're in the area.  They allow you to bring your own food if you're not so into the food truck.  And since sandwiches are my favorite summer picnic food, let me recommend one of those too.

A panini is the ultimate comfort food sandwich, with warm, melty cheese and crunchy bread.  Making it on a grill pan makes it seem like a great summer alternative to anything requiring an oven.  And grilling is so summery, right?  This one, with mozarella, tomato, basil, and prosciutto seems like a bright Italian day, sitting in a piazza and listening to a local musician serenade you.  Bring that same feeling to a summer concert near you!

Classic Italian Panini with Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella (From Cooking Light)
1 loaf french bread, cut in half horizontally
1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella cheese, divided
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 oz very thinly sliced prosciutto
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
cooking spray
  1. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2 inch thick shell, reserve torn bread for another use. Spread 2 Tbsp mayonnaise cut side of each bread half.
  2. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese and basil on bottom half of loaf.
  3. Top evenly with tomato slices, prosciutto and 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Cover with top half of loaf.  Cut filled loaf crosswise into 4 equal pieces.
  5. Heat a grill pan over medium heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add sandwiches to pan.  Place a cast iron or other heavy skillet on top of sandwiches; press gently to flatten sandwiches.  Cook 3 minutes on each side or until bread is toasted.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.