Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Steak Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing


I love a good salad and eat them on most weeknights. We grill a lot around here (even in the winter!) and we often grill extra chicken or steak to use for salads during the week. I also like to make my own salad dressings. While this blue cheese dressing isn't the healthiest, it's a delicious homemade accompaniment to a steak salad.

My salad was pretty simple - included sliced NY steak, romaine, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green onions, and a few extra blue cheese crumbles top. Top with desired amount of dressing and enjoy!

Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled, preferably Maytag blue
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

Mix all well. I like to smash some of the blue cheese crumbles down so it's not as chunky. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to eating. Makes 2.5 cups of dressing. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend Fun

Scenic walk

Happy Monday! Hope you had a nice weekend. We mostly hung around the house, hit the park and ran errands, but it was nice to get a little R&R at home. We also cooked up a storm and ate our fair share of indulgent homemade dishes! I love fall cooking - so hearty and delicious!

Saturday morning started with pumpkin pancakes, bacon and fruit. YUM. Owen got his first taste of pancakes, and let's just say he was a fan. He ate all of his serving, plus most of Lila's!


Then, during Owen's naptime Lila and I took a "girl's trip" to Target for a little shopping. I went there to get a new rug for our kitchen, but wouldn't you know I also ended up getting a bunch of other stuff. New socks for both kids, hats/mittens for both kids, a coat for Owen, and a I was again tempted by the $1 bin. 

Here's Lila showing off her new hat ... 



OK, let's discuss the front $1 section at Target. This thing gets me EVERY time. Am I the only one? Here's a sampling of what I picked out this time. This doesn't include two coloring pads for Lila. A seasonal wreath, two rolls of wrapping paper, two "to-do" lists and two pairs of socks.


Lila also picked out a new Cat in the Hat watercolor book ...


 Then of course we had to hit the Starbucks line for my first Chai of the season.


Saturday night I made Lila some pesto ravioli for dinner. Grant and I had the intention of eating dinner after the kids went to bed, and he was so tempted by her pasta, he decided to make us a pasta dish too. I can't complain when the husband wants to do the cooking! He made a delicious shitaki mushroom pasta, and I made some homemade garlic bread. Carbo-loading at its finest! We also opened a nice bottle of wine some friends had given us for our anniversary. Delish! We ate dinner on the couch and watched a semi-weird movie off Amazon Prime called "Shrink" - it was listed as a comedy but wasn't funny, more indie. But interesting I guess!


Sunday morning, Lila joined me in the bathroom while I was getting ready and decided she wanted her hair in a "bun" like mine (her hair is still so thin/baby fine that she had basically a looped ponytail!). Here we are showing off our 'do's!


Then we enjoyed another delicious breakfast of a strata (which Grant "baked" on the BBQ!), some of my almond poppyseed bread, taken from the freezer the night before, and fruit.


We then hit the park followed by naptime and a quiet afternoon.



Hope you had a great weekend too! I'm linking up today herehereherehereherehere, here and here so check them out too!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hello Weekend!

football, pie, falling leaves, hay rides, acorns, cozy, pumpkins, giving thanks, caramel apples, coffee, sweaters, boots, starbucks...
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TGIF! Another busy week! I seriously say that every week and every week it's true. Oh what I wouldn't give to have a slow week. Where I could lounge on the couch watching daytime TV in my PJs eating bon bons (does anyone really do that?). Anyway. This week marked the first day of fall! I always love to welcome new seasons. They bring a change in weather, scenery, sights and smells. Fall brings so many fun things to look forward to (don't be surprised if I start a countdown to Christmas soon, ha!). 

Here's what I've been up to this week ...

1. Rain. We've seriously had the B-E-S-T summer in Seattle. It was sunny and 80+ most of the summer. So funny that this week, when fall began, it has rained almost every day! I will admit I was pretty excited to bust out my boots and sweaters. Grant even took the kids on a rainy-day "run" (Lila even ran!) But, thankfully, we're being eased into the rainy season because it's supposed to be back to sunny and 70s this weekend! 




2. The Vacationers. This is the new book I'm reading. It was seriously on every "must read" summer reading list I saw this year, but it has such bad/so-so reviews on Amazon that I left it in my Kindle queue until I had nothing left. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I started it this week and actually really like it! It's about a family that spends a couple weeks in Mallorca, Spain on vacation before their youngest goes off to college. Each has their own story line and just imagining the scenery in Mallorca is good enough for me... have you read it? I'd love to know what you think. 


3. Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes. I posted this recipe yesterday, and in case you missed it - MMMM, it's a good one. If this is your kind of side, you should definitely bookmark in time for the holidays, or if you're just looking for a delicious accompaniment to your dinner, this one's for you! 


4. New Boots! Did you get new boots for the season? I got some on Amazon this year, which is a first! These are the ones I snagged. I love the cognac color. 



5. Straight Hair. Ever since I cut my long hair into this long bob a couple months ago, I've normally been curling it, but recently I've started wearing it straight more often. I actually use a curling iron to straighten it. I remember in college SUPER straight hair was all the rage, but I am liking this semi-softer version lately ...



Bonus! My sweet boy. 


Have a great weekend!!! I'm linking up hereherehereherehereherehere here, so check them out too!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Twiced Baked Potato Casserole



I didn't post my usual recipe on Tuesday since, naturally, we had other things to celebrate, but I didn't want to forget to post this delicious side dish (which happens to be perfect for the cooler weather). And ohhh my goodness. This is a good one. Let's just get it out in the open upfront that this isn't the healthiest recipe. But sometimes you just need an indulgent side dish. Normally I make this for special occasions, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, but on a recent weekend we had family over and were planning to grill steaks, so I decided to go for it.

The best thing about this dish is it's super easy (as is everything I make) and you can make the entire thing in advance, so it's perfect for dinner parties or holidays when you don't want to spend the whole evening in the kitchen.





Twice Baked Potato Casserole
(serves 6 or so)

8 baking potatoes
3 green onions, diced
4-5 strips bacon, diced into small bite sized pieces 
1 cup sharp cheddar, divided
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 block cream cheese
3 TBL butter
1/4 cup milk

Wash and peel your potatoes. Cut into quarters and place in a large pot. Fill with water until water just covers potatoes. Add several "shakes" (yes, that's a technical cooking term, haha!) of salt. Let boil until potatoes are done and easily pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add sour cream, cream cheese, butter and milk. Mash. I first used a potato masher to mash and then finished with my immersion blender. If you like "chunkier" potatoes, you can stop after you mash by hand. Once all are well combined, add in green onions, bacon and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Mix well. (At this point, if you are making it in advance, wrap with plastic wrap and store in the fridge, up to 24 hours). When ready to bake, top with remaining cheese and put in oven at 375 for about 30-45 minutes (if it's been in the fridge, it's best to let it sit out on the counter for 30 minutes or so to let it get to room temp. before baking). 

ENJOY!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cool Mom

I was driving Lila home from school this week when I asked what she shared during "show and tell." She said she told the kids all about her best friend.

"Did you tell the kids about ME?" I asked jokingly. "No, mama, that'd be embawassing" she replied.

She's only three and apparently I'm already embarrassing. But wait, I thought I was a "cool mom!"



For me, I think it's less about being "cool" and more about not feeling old. Now that I'm, um, 30+, looking "young" yet age-appropriate seems more important than ever.


Here are some "cool mom" looks I'm inspired by:

 images l-r | here, here, here


images clockwise | here, here, here, here, here


Are you a "cool mom?" What keeps you feeling young? 

 I'm linking up herehere and here, so check them out too!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hellooooo Fall!!!!

It's here, it's here! Let's put a hold on our regularly scheduled program (aka a recipe) because it's much more important to recognize that today is the first day of FALL!!!

I love this season. Maybe because my birthday is in October. Maybe because it's the kickoff to boot weather. Maybe because it's scarf season. Maybe because you can wear leggings layers everyday. But mostly? Because it's the start of the holiday season, which is my most favorite time of year!!!! Now that our family is "complete" I am so thankful we have two beautiful kids to begin family traditions with, and the holiday season is one of the best times of year to start!

I will admit - I don't totally love the fall weather around these parts. It gets dreary, rainy and windy here ... and doesn't stop until July (Ok slight exaggeration, but not totally). But, nevertheless I'm excited.

Here's what's getting me in the seasonal spirit!

PUMPKIN PANCAKES
I love pumpkin and am always excited when pumpkin pancakes start popping up onto brunch menus! Now that we don't eat out as much, I've been eyeing recipes to make at home. How delicious does this one look with the giant heaping of whipped cream, cinnamon and nutmeg?



VISIT A PUMPKIN PATCH
We've done this every year since Lila was 5 months old and it's so much fun! There's usually several Groupons floating around with discounts to various local pumpkin patches. It's so much fun to pick out our own pumpkins and they always seem to have fun crafts and food too. We actually went to two pumpkin patches last year. At one we did apple cider pressing which was so much fun and Lila got her face painted!

Last year's patch!



When Lila was 17 months ...


And at 5 months!


HAPPY BIRTHDAYS
That's right! I'm a Libra :) I'll be 32 this year .... say what?! Eek!!!! Do you believe in horoscopes? I definitely think there is some truth to them ... both Grant and Lila are Geminis and I definitely think they fit the mold (Gemini is "the twins" - aka good and wild!).

Zodiac - Libra - 11x14 Poster Art Print. $19.00, via Etsy.
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CELEBRATE CRUSH
For the last couple years we've gone with my parents to celebrate Crush in Chelan Wine Country. Washington has exploded with wineries in the last several years and "crush" is the annual crushing of the grapes. The wineries have lots of events and it's such a beautiful time in Eastern Washington. The fall foliage on the drive over the mountains is almost worth the trip alone. I was very pregnant on our trip last year (aka no wine tasting for me!), so I'm excited this year to partake in all the festivities! Here we are last year ...





TRICK OR TREAT
Holidays with Lila are so much fun now because she is SO excited. This year will be Owen's first Halloween too! To join in the fun (and because Halloween is on a Friday this year), I made sure the whole family had costumes well in advance (nothing is worse than not having a clue what to be and hitting the Halloween store at the last minute ...). This year, we all have our costumes ready and waiting!

ft_04halloween08.jpg
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GET COZY
Once the kids are in bed, there's nothing better on a rainy evening than a warm fireplace, hot cocoa, candles, slippers and a good movie. It's the perfect at-home date night! 

This is one of my favorite resting places...
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I'm also excited about crockpots, sweaters, scarves, boots, soup, football, baking, and more! What's on your list for FALL?


Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Recap: Papa's Home!


I mentioned on Friday that Grant was going on a guys camping weekend. Well, I survived my single parenting duties, and ... actually had a lot of fun! My sanity wasn't lost and neither was my patience. I may have resorted to a few bribery tactics, as well as a trip to the toy store, but all in all, the kids were great and we had a lot of fun. Although, I will admit that I  did breathe a sigh of relief when Papa rolled in on Sunday afternoon.  And I'm pretty mentally exhausted.

On Friday night we relaxed at home. Normally Grant reads to Lila while I put Owen to sleep, but since he was gone I read to Lila, said goodnight and then put Owen to bed. I will totally admit as soon as I saw he was asleep on the monitor, I tidied up and headed to bed too! (And yes, it was about 8:30 ... !!)




On Saturday morning, Aunt Vicki and Uncle Karl stopped by with reinforcements - in the way of scones from the Washington State Fair. They are the traditional "must have" treat from the fair and we gobbled them right up. We did manage to save Grant's so he could have one when he got home ...


After they left it was naptime, followed by a trip to the store. I told Lila we could stop by the toy store after and she could pick out a toy under $10. Look what she chose! I think it's because we've been watching a lot of Toy Story!


Lila loves this cute little toy store in our town because of the train table in the back. Owen even got in on the fun this time!


Speaking of Owen, he's totally in mischief mode lately! Now that he can crawl and stand, he's into everything BUT playing with his own toys. 

Here I found him raiding the wine rack ... 


Followed by a peek-a-boo from under Lila's desk...


Later I heard him giggling and see him peeking over our coffee table! Oh boy ... 


While we were at the store I picked up my OWN treat and this was my view on Saturday night ... chocolate mocha cake and s'mores ice cream - YUM! I also caught up on Californication on Netflix and stayed up a bit later (yeah ... 9 p.m. haha!)


Sunday we played around the house in the morning and went to the park before naptime. 


In the afternoon we watched the Seahawks play! Check out the cute sugar cookies I found at the local market. I couldn't resist. 




All in all it was a nice weekend. Owen slept through the night both nights (yay!) and Lila was a very helpful big sister. 

Hope you had a great weekend too! I'm linking up today herehereherehereherehere, here and here so check them out too!!




Friday, September 19, 2014

Outnumbered

happy {blooming} weekend !

Happy Friday! Hope you had a great week! It'll be another 80+ weekend here so we're loving every last minute of summer because I know the Seattle rains will be back soon for the long haul. 

Here's what's been going on around here ... 

1. Moment of Silence. Grant is off on a guys backpacking trip this weekend, which means I'm outnumbered single mom style for the weekend. Let's just all have a moment of silence ... for my sanity. Kidding. Grant's done this a couple other times since we've had two kids (yeah, the bachelor party he had to go to in San Diego when Owen was 3 months old...), but now that Owen is older it'll be a lot easier. Although I do get a tad nervous when I fly solo. Hopefully they'll act like perfect angels. 



2. Boy Mom. I'm so lucky Owen gets to spend his days with my mom. Even though I work full time, I know Owen is in such good hands and so happy he gets to spend the days at home with his beloved Nee Nee! The best part is the cute pictures she sends me at work. Isn't this one the cutest? I love his little gummy smile and backwards baseball cap. 



3. Seasonal Nails. Normally when I paint my own nails it looks like I let Lila do it, but I've been getting better. Here's one of my new fall colors, OPI's dulce de leche. 



4. Sweet Treat. In case you missed it, you've gotta try this SUPER easy almond poppy seed bread I wrote about earlier this week. It's delicious and tastes like you slaved away for hours. 



5. Mom Style. Before I had kids I never understood moms who would claim they didn't have time to shower. Now I do. In case you missed it, I posted earlier this week about what a typical weekday is like for me. It's not that you don't technically have time for things like showers, but sometimes sleeping 30 extra minutes or reading a quiet magazine in peace seems more important than greasy hair. I got a big kick out of below funny



Have a great weekend!!! I'm linking up hereherehereherehereherehere here!
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