Friday, September 25, 2009

Sportin' a New Look

Thanks so much to Jen at for designing my great new blog! I just told her what I wanted, shopped for the elements I liked and a few days later she created a brand new look. I think she did a great job! What do you think Madeleine?

"I love it so much Mommy that I'll give it my "crunched-up face" seal of approval!"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Reading the title of this post you may be thinking you're tuning in for a great recipe for macaroons or perhaps the opportunity to hear me wax poetic about my love for Mounds bars. Unfortunately you'd be mistaken on both counts.

The other day as I arrived at daycare expecting to pick up my two charming girlie girls I was shocked and dismayed (and a wee bit grossed out) when Isabelle came running to ask me if she could bring home her new pet worm. Ugghh! A worm? Really? But, trying to be the intrepid parent I waited patiently as the worm was carefully placed in a baggie and then trotted out to the car in Isabelle's gleeful little hands. At home Isabelle occupied a full half hour setting up the perfect habitat for her new pet she would call Coconut. Did ever a worm deserve such a name? I think not.

Guess which tupperware container will never be used again.

Sadly, just two days after his big move from earth to container, Isabelle's worm passed into the great dirt patch in the sky. Rest in peace Coconut, we hardly knew ya'.

Friday, September 18, 2009

All the Foodies in the House

As you know, I've been spending time lately perusing my cookbooks and stalking food blogs, searching for the perfect recipes to add to my fall repertoire. There are several blogs I love but until now I haven't tried any of their recipes. Sure, everything looks delicious but are these people really good cooks, or just skilled photographers?

This week I tried out two new recipes with much success! First up was BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches from Life's Ambrosia. Thanks for the website tip DeeDee! I slow-cooked a 5 lb. pork shoulder for eight hours, made the sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and piled it all on top of a toasted kaiser roll. I don't know about you but for some reason pulled pork has always seemed mysterious and challenging - something you would get in a restaurant but never make at home. Boy was I wrong! (Or perhaps misled but well-meaning non-barbecue fanatics?) It took about five minutes to make the dry rub for the roast (that includes hunting down the spices from my overflowing spice rack), two minutes more to slice the onions and pour the beef stock over everything and then those eight hours in the slow cooker while the delicious smell wafted through the house. A recipe for homemade potato chips was also on the website but that just seemed a little too hard compared to opening a bag - they looked good though!

So simple to just push a button.
The most time-consuming part of this recipe was shredding the pork but even that didn't take long.
Isabelle helped make the barbecue sauce.

After the sauce goes on it bakes in the oven for 30 minutes.
The finished product - everyone had happy tummies after dinner!

Isabelle was snack girl at preschool this week so we made whole wheat apple muffins from the Smitten Kitchen blog. They turned out great too and since it's apple season up here in the apple state I think they'll be making some future appearances at our breakfast table. I wasn't thinking and didn't take a picture of the muffins after they'd been baked. I promise they look (and taste) even better after they've been cooked!

P.S. I know I just updated my profile to say that I'm trying to eat healthy organic meals so after reading this post you're probably thinking I'm a big fat liar. However, everything was organic. Don't judge me people! :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Day of School

It finally arrived! The long-awaited first day of preschool. Isabelle was up at dawn to make sure she had plenty of time to put on her carefully laid out first-day-of-school outfit. We talked last night about how we would do her hair, about the new friends she would make and especially about the teacher she adores, Mrs. Facchini. She could hardly wait for this day to come!

We picked up Isabelle's friend Jae Jae on the way to school. Note to self: don't leave home without the Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers or Enchanted CD's. The girls were needing their tunes.
As the children came in Mrs. Facchini took their pictures. Can you see how happy Isabelle is? Not a worry or care in the world!
Time to get down to the serious business of preschool.
After a full day including swimming lessons and an extra ballet class I thought Isabelle would be exhausted but when she got into bed tonight she was still jittery with excitement and anxious to get up and do it all over again. Let's hope we can keep up this love of school for the next 14 years!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kicking into High Gear

School has officially started, the fridge is stocked, our schedules are packed - it must be September! We've been going a mile a minute this week. It took me all summer to train the girls to sleep in until 8:00 in the morning but only three days of me getting up at 6:15 for them to decide that 5:45 was really more their style. What is up with that?! And, while I'm ranting about my lack of sleep how is it possible that while singing lullabies to Madeleine at night I can put myself to sleep but not her? That just doesn't seem right!

Saturday's have become our marathon activity day. We wake up early, have breakfast and then I take Madeleine to The Little Gym by 8:45 A.M. for her Birdies class while Isabelle stays home for some Daddy time. As soon as I get home from the gym I get Isabelle changed for her tap/jazz/ballet class while Madeleine takes a little snooze. When Isabelle and I get home from dance it's lunchtime and then another nap for little Maddie. (At least someone is well-rested.:)) It's busy, but it's also a lot of fun! On Monday Isabelle starts preschool and is back in swimming lessons. I hope we're ready!

Isabelle couldn't wait to get out the door Saturday morning...
...but I made her pose for pictures.

With her new teacher Miss Vicki, who we were very impressed with.
Isabelle is on the far right in this very glary picture.
Isabelle loves her new tap shoes and was tapping all over the house.
When we got in the car to come home she wanted to go back and dance some more!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I love to cook but I'm afraid my motivation to do so waxes and wanes according to my schedule and how tired I am after a busy day with the girls and work. Recently I saw the delicious movie "Julie and Julia" and my zeal for cooking was renewed after salivating for two hours over butter, Boeuf Bourguignon, chocolate cake and a myriad of other tantalizing dishes. As a rich beef stew didn't seem quite appropriate in the midst of a summer heat wave I chose instead to satisfy my cravings with fresh strawberry scones, summer vegetables and a marinated Asian pork tenderloin.

Trust me when I say that smellavision would have added a lot to this post.
My lead taste tester.
Verdict: "These are really good Mom!" Another happy customer.
Just a quick saute.

Today was a very rainy September day (yay for rain! - that's why we live in Washington), which was perfect for my back-to-school meal-planning extravaganza. I went through all my recipes and cookbooks and was finally able to pull out some of my favorite fall dishes, along with some new ones I'd like to try. Just so you know, I do cheat by having Dinner's Ready meals in my freezer for those days we need something fast and easy but at least several days a week I make large dishes that will give us plenty of leftovers. A few of the recipes on the docket this month are braised lamb shanks with glazed root vegetables, pork with marsala sauce and roasted asparagus, my mom's french vegetable soup, pulled pork sandwiches and butter broiled chicken with sea salt and roasted potatoes. I know the first day of fall is still a couple weeks away but I am prepared with my recipe for hot mulled cider as soon as it hits. If you have a good fall recipe or website you use please tell me about it. I'm in a cooking mood!

P.S. Jason just walked in and said he has a taste for hot dogs. Hot dogs people! Does anyone else sense a disconnect?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We Have a New Teaching Contract!

Wait a minute...that means I have to go back to work bright and early tomorrow morning! (Gasp!) That also means that Isabelle and Madeleine will start full-time daycare bright and early tomorrow morning. (Double gasp!)

We are so lucky to have the most wonderful daycare provider ever. The girls go to a nice cozy house with a beautiful backyard to play in and are loved on all day long by sweet Kelly. I really couldn't ask for anything more. I just have to get used to this new transition since I've been home with the girls for so long.

We've spent several days helping Madeleine get used to going to a new place by only going to daycare for an hour or so and there have definitely been tears. However, I was very glad when I went to pick her up this afternoon that she was playing contentedly in the backyard. I'm sure in a few days it will be smooth sailing. (Knock on wood.)

Now, I better get to bed because my principal emailed and said we would have our first meeting "promptly at 8:00" tomorrow morning. Does anyone know if it's a bad idea to come in late to work after having 5 months off?

And, because I can't post without pictures...

Isabelle has already realized that Mommy is going to need some help in the morning to get out of the house on time.
Isabelle: "Just hold still Maddie, this will only hurt for a minute."
Madeleine: "I don't know about this new routine."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

End-of-Summer Zoo Trip

Even though summer is winding down we headed out last weekend for one more trip to the zoo. It was actually Madeleine's first time to really see the animals and she loved it!

First stop: The African Village of course! Picnic lunch - eating is always a highlight of any day.

Isabelle watching the penguins.
This was Isabelle's favorite part of the day - the hippos are usually pretty boring but this one provided quite a bit of entertainment.
Madeleine's first ride on the carousel.

Much like the hippo, Daddy too provided a lot of entertainment.