Monday, December 28, 2015

Food This Week 12/27

Christmas and Ainsley's Birthday are over.  We had the first "it's no fair my birthday is right before Christmas.  I want it to be more spread out!" realization.  But it really was all wonderful.  It helped this new house feel even more like home.

Now i feel like real life is really beginning here.  It's not all so brand new and most things are where they should be.  This winter will be a whole lot of adjusting I'm sure, but for now things feel good and exciting and calmer all at once.  I'm glad for that.

I am SO excited for cooking. I think I'm finally getting the hang of our appliances and this new fancy kitchen a bit more and some new pans from my mom for Christmas helped greatly to get me geared up.

As usual after a holiday I am most excited for simple healthy food.
Tonight it was Smitten Kitchen's Lentil Soup with Sausage and Chard.  It was phenomenal and so easy.  I went to our co-op to get some good homemade italian sausages and french lentils.
While there I noticed they had a bulk bin just for 32 bean and veggie soup so I got a cup of that too to make soup with Ainsley's leftover birthday ham.
Ian wanted burritos so I'm going to make Ree Drummond's recipe.  I'm heading to Trader Joe's with the kids tomorrow to get ingredients.
While brainstorming ideas I landed on roasted chicken which I so rarely make for some reason.  Truthfully I'm just not wowed with roast chicken and I find cooking it right is actually so difficult.  But! A new recipe is always hopeful for me and Giada's with all those herbs and veggies sounds perfect right now in this first true Minnesota cold snap snow.  I can't wait.
I also got some good tuna packed in oil for a pasta or tuna melts.  Once I tried tuna in oil I was hooked!
Oh, and spinach and feta for a frittata or a pizza.  And sweet potatoes for hash and eggs.
I love easy winter cooking.

Ooh and one recipe to note from Christmas, I made Eggnog Pie from a new recipe and it was really good and so easy which I think for me made it taste even better.

Ainsley is sick today, again!  My poor girl is, I'm hoping, just crashing from her big long weekend.  I am so thankful for my mom coming over to watch the kids so I could still grocery shop and for our new DVD player which lets us watch netflix and amazon on the TV.  It's a good snuggle day.

Hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Tomorrow my first baby turns 7.  Each year as she grows one number it feels shocking.  Seven!!!  Seven is so very big, but so small too.  I've had so much time with my girl these past weeks, lots of one on one and thoughtful moments.  I love her so much.  I can't wait to celebrate her tomorrow. But first!!! A little catch up.

I feel like we are really sinking our toes into life here, getting in the new groove.  The girls take the bus at 8:10 every morning, running down our backyard hill across the street to our neighbors' driveway.  They get back at 3:40, jolly driver Elmore waving and smiling away.  It's a good system.  Ian is back just after 4 from work so we have the whole evening together.  I'm excited to get into a better groove with Felix during the days he doesn't have preschool.  That boy's whole life has been packing and unpacking for the last 3 months!

And this place, our home?  Well there is so much to look forward to here.  I've spent lots of brainpower already planning our summer garden.  One of the first things I noticed about this house is that our 1/2 acre has both woods and full sun.  I know right?  This feels like a small miracle, but wait, there's more.  Days after moving in I inspected our two 30 foot raised beds more closely and discovered mature raspberry and strawberry plants.  I don't know if you can see into my soul from the inter web, but mature berry plants are pretty much my heartsong.  I still feel like wetting pants every time I think about July and August next year.

And our garden?  Well, the one house-y thing we've done so far is to have some tree guys come out and have discovered THREE sugar maples and ONE each Norway and regular maple!!! (SYRUP YOU GUYS, or at least THE HOPE OF SOME SMALL AMOUNT OF SYRUP!!!!) and Burr Oaks and a honeylocust and a blue spruce and just all that TREE in our space is so exciting to me it's unreal.

The previous owners had a trampoline that we asked to be removed and in it's place is a large round patch of dirt that I feel is the perfect jumping off point for a giant enclosed garden.  We're plotting how big we can go and what's reasonable but with so much other yard for playing I'm thinking a generous 25'x10' or even 30'x15' space is just what we need to really make a dent in our food stores.  The girls are almost as excited about seed catalogs and harvest canning as I am.  It's like Christmas already came and went 17 times.  For real.

Add to that all the wood in our woods.  A fire pit was added to our backyard just this summer and I'm assuming they cut down a few dead trees to do it and all that wood is nicely piled in two giant stacks just waiting to be hacked down a bit more for our winter fires.  I've already lost track of how many fires I've made and that's just how it should be in Minnesota in the winter.  We have no fireplace tools though so for now I'm making due with my hands as brooms to sweep the ash into the pit and our grill tongs as pokers and pincers.  It's actually quite the system.  And after just a few rounds of pathetically chopping wood with my dad's axe can I just give a shout out to the pioneers etc who need/ed to chop enough wood for whole winter warmth?  Goodness gracious.  My forearms have never been so sore.

So in addition to chopping wood and making fires and dreaming of our harvest time garden we are enjoying our new insides too.  The kitchen will take some major getting used to for me.  I'm switching from a gas to an induction stove which is pretty much the biggest first world problem I can imagine.  Over half of my pans don't work on it and it makes this buzzing noise when it's on high and really I miss my 1960's magic chef 4 burner quite a bit.  Everything else in the kitchen feels so fancy too.  A pull out drawer microwave with sensor reheats and cook modes, a double oven with convection capabilities.  The large granite island is everything we thought it'd be.  I can cook and bake with the whole family gathered around with room to spare.  We actually eat dinner there most nights.  I love it!

In fact the great room is the place to be in our house right now.  I don't know if it's simply because it's such an awesome space or that we're so used to being in close quarters (a lot of both I'm thinking) but that's where you can find us.  It also may have something to do with the fact that our living room has only two rocking chairs for seating right now.  Upgrading house problems!  Though! Our living room does have two Christmas trees.  Ainsley's birthday tree and our 2nd tree with white lights and homemade decorations. So that kind of makes up for the lack of furniture in my eyes.

Right now I'm in a quiet house.  Ian's out doing a last minute "errand" with the kids and I'm trying not to be skeptical.  Oh that boy.  I'm thankful for my quiet house and a moment to reflect on all the goodness around us.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

First Weeks Here

Well hello there from our new home in Minnesota.  I still can't fully believe we're here.

We moved in just over two weeks ago to our house.  It felt so weird those first nights.  But then we just kind of settled and at least for Ian and I it feels like it's always been home.

I guess in my mind I expected us all to just jump right back in.  Back of course for Ian and I, but the kids, my girls especially, I wasn't expecting so much angst and sadness. Tonight Louise was sobbing about every little thing (paper cuts, bears) and big things too (I just don't feel as safe here as I did in Oak Park, I'm worried about riding my bike when there aren't sidewalks!).  Ainsley has really had a tough time of it.  If you're the praying type say a prayer for our girl please.  I am so thankful to be in a place where we have so much support, school, doctors, parents and family.  It's been overwhelming in ways I hadn't even fathomed.

Ian and I are doing really well, Felix too.  Felix LOVES his new preschool and has not shown one blip in the radar.  I am so thankful for that!  I feel an ease and comfort that I haven't felt in a long time.  We love our home so much.  It feels like a dream everytime I cook in the kitchen or walk into our backyard to take the girls to the bus, or snuggle on the couch in our basement to watch a Christmas movie with the girls. or use our OWN bathroom!  It's crazy.  Ian is really liking his new job, the work and all the people there. We are both homesick for Oak Park though.  I wish it were easier to just pop down for a day.  See some favorite people, eat some favorite food.  It's going to be a longer adjustment than we'd planned for, but we'll get here.  That first big snowfall here and ice skating and sledding and fort building would really help.  Come on snow!!!

This year I am extra thankful for Christmas.  It's been hard to let go of those wonderful weeks of preparation and really get down to the bare necessities of celebrating, but we're loving it still.  Baking cookies for a new neighborhood cookie exchange, making (and eating sneakily!) gingerbread houses, counting down the days, decorating TWO trees!!! (one just with white lights and homemade adornments, something I've always wanted but haven't had the space for!).  Ainsley is over the top excited for her birthday, tinged with sadness about not being able to celebrate with her friends from Oak Park.  I'm excited for her big family party and hoping she warms up to the idea of a little party with new friends in the new year.

I'm somehow just about set with gifts and to dos.  I'm making so very little this year which is sad to me, but I'm looking forward to the long winter ahead with my sewing machine humming and the fire crackling in time with my knitting needles.  It will happen, there's time for all of it.

First settling in more, getting our girls all righted and happy, and loving on this new home of ours.