42/52: A Little Family Picture Prep

Thursday, October 23, 2014



I buy almost all of my kids clothes at consignment shops or Target, but the one time of year I invest a little more is when we take family pictures. Which we're suppose to do this Saturday...more on that in a minute.  I'm having the hardest time finding something for my daughter this year. She's 8 and everything is way too bright, too short, or looks like something a teenager would wear (or maybe shouldn't be wearing?). There are a lot of great online stores, but I was really hoping to buy something she could try on first, plus I waited until the last minute so anything I ordered wouldn't arrive on time. I've basically got a day and a half to find her something, or at least come up with a backup plan. Although, according to the forecast, I may have more than a day to figure something out because it's suppose to rain. The weather has been gorgeous lately, and I've been looking forward to our pictures for months, so naturally, I shouldn't be surprised that it's suppose to rain. 

Our annual Family Picture is something we all look forward to...but trust me, it isn't without stress! There's always a kid who isn't listening, or things aren't exactly as I wanted them to be, but I always look back at them and am so glad we made the effort to get it done. It's fun to watch how our family grows year to year. I'll try and post some of our past family pictures on the blog here next week. 

Do you take yearly family pictures?  

41/52: Super Brief Update!

Sunday, October 19, 2014



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I unintentionally took a little break from the internet these past few weeks. But then I missed it too much, and am back to my overly-addicted ways. 

We've been making attempts at adding a little fall decor to our home, complete with decorative gourds and pumpkin everything from Trader Joe's. I also hit a bit of a breaking point with all the clutter in our house and went on a major purge-sesh, filling bin after bin of old clothes and toys. The battle to simplify never ends.      

That's it for now. I'm off to get my adrenaline pumping with the latest episode of The Walking Dead, and work on some All Saints Day Costumes!   

40/52: Library Cards

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
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I recently noticed that majority of my pictures for The 52 Project are taken in our home. Which is great and wonderful since that is where we spend much of our time, but we also go out quite a bit. I'm an extrovert, so I can only be home for so long. But here's the thing....it isn't easy to lug my camera around so I don't bring it out much in our day-to-day life. So that will be my challenge over the next few weeks, to make the effort to bring it along so I can document more of the things we do outside the home. 

We'll start with the library. We make at least one trip a week to the library because it's close by and it's free. Our local libraries also have great children's areas which is a bonus! And ever since they started making library cards to add to your key chain, I hardly lose our card anymore....another bonus!  

I hope everyone had a nice weekend!







The Evolution of a Mediocre Cook

Monday, October 6, 2014
Growing up, I somehow missed the fact that I would need to learn how to run a household one day. Even if you don't grow up to get married or have children, everyone needs to learn how to budget, cook, and clean, right? Well, I didn't learn much in those departments. Especially the cooking department. I came into our marriage having cooked maybe 10 meals my whole life. And Ryan? All he knew how to make was rice. There was one exception however: pancakes. We both knew how to whip up some bisquick style pancakes. It's a bit of a wonder how we survived, really.  

It's not that I didn't like cooking, it's that I was clueless as to how to do it. I didn't know how to hard boil an egg, chop an onion, or what the words broil and roast meant. Pathetic! Meal Planning? I laughed at the idea! I'm just never going to be that type of person, I would say.

Even though I was convinced I would never be able to plan a weeks worth of meals, I was determined to learn how to cook dinner a few times a week. So during the first year of our marriage, I spent a lot of time watching the Food Network. I learned how to chop onions, make a few sauces, and saute some vegetables. Giada, Rachel, Ina and Paula..they became my beloved teachers. My experiments were not without multiple fails (I remember one incident in particular involving Kale, and haven't been able to eat it since), and those 30 minute meals always took more than an hour and would end in a dish explosion all over the kitchen. But slowly and surely, we started to eat more home cooked meals. I'm fairly certain they didn't taste great, but I was proud and we began to feel like real grown ups.

As the years went by, I learned how to cook a few more dinners, but I wasn't a "natural" in the kitchen. I could never tell what "secret ingredient" to add, or what particular spice was missing, and never would I veer from my sacred recipes to try and make it better. Ryan continued to encourage me to meal plan for the week, I would make attempts, fail, and again be convinced that I could never shop for a whole week in advance.

 2008 - we made our first Thanksgiving Dinner. Thankfully, we didn't burn the turkey!

Then a few years ago, I met friends who are really good cooks! Watching them cook is like watching an artist...the medium is food and the dishes they create are not only delicious, but are presented in the most beautiful way. They just know how to pair ingredients, and hardly have to follow recipes. And lucky for us, they invite us over often! And lucky for me, I felt like I was getting free cooking lessons. I would watch their technique, ask questions, and then try and copy it at home (again, not without multiple fails). I've learned a lot from these beloved friends, everything from how to make simple meals, to a few more elaborate ones.  

All that to say, that over the past 9 years, I have finally become less of a disaster in the kitchen. It's a pretty well known fact that I'm not a naturally gifted chef, and probably never will be, but what I do know is that I'm more confident in the kitchen, and making multiple meals for my family isn't overwhelming like it once was. And meal planning? It only took 7 years, but I can finally do it! In fact, I can't imagine not having a weekly meal plan. 

We usually make the same 10-15 tride and true dinners throughout the month, and throw in a few new meals every once in a while if it starts to get too boring. We also try to stick with fruits and vegetables that are in season since it's usually what's best for our budget. 

So I'm curious, did you learn how to cook growing up? How to budget and meal plan? It's really too bad that schools don't teach Home-Ec anymore. I'm really hoping to teach both my girl(s) and boys as much as I can on these topics...if anyone has any tips, I'd love to know!

One last thing! Speaking of food and cooking, here's my latest obsession: Roasted Delicata and Butternut Squash! My daughter and I eat it like candy (the boys aren't the biggest fans). With the delicata squash, we chop it up into 1-inch pieces (skin on), take out the seeds, spread it out over a roasting tray, toss it in your preferred oil (we usually use avocado or olive oil), season with salt and pepper (we do the same with the butternut squash, except I remove the skin and mix it in on the same tray) and roast it in the oven at 425 for about 30ish minutes. I check on it and when it starts to caramelize is when I take it out. Delish!

 
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