Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

I saw this Firecracker Science Experiment last night on Pinterest, so when Maddie asked me to do a "speriment" I was already this morning.  It is super cool and super easy. Plus, come on, how cute is this kid? (And how much better is my husband's camera -- even without the Instagram -- than mine. I mean, seriously, it was gloomy when he took this picture and how darn cute.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Antipasto pasta salad

Ok, antipasto pasta salad has always been a little pet peeve for me. You don't eat pasta salad before the pasta course, folks. But it also sucks me in every time I see it. Because it's really just that delicious.

So here's a sneak peek of my Memorial Day offering.

Antipasto Pasta Salad:

The secret to a good salad, I'm sorry to say, is salt. I learned this trick the first time I went to Italy and we ate in an off-the-beaten path restaurant where a real Italian Mama prepared her table's salad by salting it. Hello, love! Later in life, I was fortunate enough to take some cooking lessons in the south of France where I met my other salad secret, a whisk and some elbow grease. A good salad dressing has to be emulsified and you need both of these secret weapons to do it.

The Dressing:

Start with 2Tbsps of red wine vinegar (I use Chianti vinegar) in your salad bowl. Add a dash of salt (I'm trying to cut back so I go with about a teaspoon, you just need a little bit to make the oil stay blended) and some fresh ground pepper. Add 2 minced black olives and 2 minced cloves of garlic. Get that whisk in one hand and your bottle of olive oil in the other. Start whisking while drizzling in about 3Tbsps of olive oil. Beat the hell out of it. (This is what I learned in cooking school --that and use as many dishes as possible). Let it sit while you prep the rest of the salad. If you've beaten the hell out of it, it should stay nicely blended. If not, add more elbow grease.

The salad:

Boil water and make a box of fusili pasta according to the box's directions. Drain and let sit to cool.

Prep your fixings: one can of artichoke hearts (quartered), one red pepper (sliced in thin strips), red onion (thinly sliced, I use about a quarter of an onion), one can of black olives, pepperoni (sliced into thin strips), fresh mozzarella (cubed), and arugula. You could also use some banana peppers if you like.

Once your pasta has cooled, add it to your salad bowl of dressing and mix. If you are prepping this salad in advance (and you can! Letting that pasta seep in the dressing is going to make it more awesome) wait to add your toppings until right before you serve it.

There you go. Yummy and meal worthy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cute Little Dear

Maddie has been going to sleep like a big girl for almost a week now. I'm so proud of her.

This change has illuminated the things that make her feel insecure. Last night was kind of the perfect storm. I had had to work the night before and Rob was closing last night. The change in schedules made her really clinging. She curled up after our bedtime song a little sullenly. But she didn't complain or try to get me to stay.

About half an hour later, she called out that she needed to go potty. There she was with crocodile tears, trying to hide that she had been crying.

When I asked her what was wrong, she said, "I'm crying for my kitty." (She had lost a stuffed kitty about 2-3 months ago, which she had never really had any interest in but now cries for her kitty whenever she is upset about something else.)

The poor little dear went potty then went right back to bed, snuffling softly. I felt so bad for her, I almost wanted to stay and hug her up.

Before she went to sleep I told her I'd see her in the morning and she told me, "You keep Daddy here, ok?" (In other words, don't let Daddy go to work!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

To sleep, perchance to dream...

Sleep is not an unpopular topic around this blog. I'm sure you've noticed that.  I recently had a friend who put a question out to the void asking, "When will my 8-month-old sleep??" and I remember that feeling so strongly. It made me want to share all kinds of things that I know now that I didn't know then. I often think, if I only knew back at the beginning.

But last night marked a new moment in this currently fuss-free family. That's right, we took a huge leap and it didn't even feel like it was that big of a deal. Maddie went to bed all by herself.

A little background for those who are not on the up and up of Maddie sleeping. For the past three years (well, two years and fifty weeks), I have rocked Maddie to sleep. Every single night, but a handful of work or date nights. Sometimes we would rock for a half hour, sometimes as much as two hours. After potty training it was getting bad, because Maddie knew she had a new distraction -- going to the potty 50 million times.

I've always placed a lot of the blame on me; I just always liked to hold her and rock her. There was also a lot of anxiety involved. Maddie would hyperventilate from crying which obviously only exasperated attempts to sleep train.

We've made leaps and bounds over the past year. She gradually got better at falling asleep on her own at naptime and would fall asleep sometimes in her own "big kid bed." When she woke up at night she would fall back to sleep after crying for just a few minutes. Potty training mixed us up a little bit on the nighttime wakings, but we usually only had those two or three times a month.  This month, if Maddie had to go potty during the night, she would get back in bed and I would give her a quick peck on the cheek and sneak out... and she would go back to sleep.

So the time was right and Maddie was ready! Last night, I told her that she was such a big kid that now she got to stay up a little later. I tucked her in, read her some stories, sang her one song and held my breath. Then I told her she was such a big kid that now she gets to go to sleep like a big kid, too.  She told me she was still a baby and that I had to sit down because otherwise she couldn't see me. I persisted. I told her all the things that babies can't do like eat chocolate chippies, or color, or buy princess books. Then I told her it was too bad she was still a baby because she'd have to give up all of those things.

It's amazing that it took me this long to realize that princesses trump anything.

Maddie kissed me goodnight and was out like a light. Not a single sound.

Probably dreamt of princesses.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Color Chemistry

Saturdays are perfect days for pajamma science around here. That's the day that Maddie and I lounge around and do whatever we feel like doing, which definitely involves not getting dressed! A little science experiment or two keeps us moving and interested.

Our most recent experiment was going to be popcorn dancing. But in getting started we found something more interesting -- colored water.

So we played chemists and tried a few different solutions. First we add food color to just plain water.

Cool. But we can do better than that.

So next we put two tablespoons of baking soda in a big bottle of water, gave a stir and then added our dye. Check this out:

The baking soda helps the dye stay separated, and or stirring made kind of a vortex.

We used red and blue and watched it "storm" in the bottle. It's kind of like creating a hurricane in a jar.

Next we added a little olive oil to a glass of water and voila:

Polka dot color! Maddie loved this one. Probably because we got to use lots of dye. She added yellow, green and red.

So there you go:
  • Plain water mixes evenly and without stirring.
  • Water and Baking soda keeps the dye separated on top (and does a cool vortex thing).
  • Water and olive oil does a polka dot effect before allowing the color to settle on the bottom.

And of course this experiment devolved into how Maddie could stir them all up and mix them together to make icky purple-brown water.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

BBQ Pork - 3 Easy Meals

This is super simple. Seriously. Ready for recipe?

Put two pork tenderloins in your slow cooker with one bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Wegmans Memphis BBQ -- delish!) Cook on low for 8 hours. Yup, that's it. And from that bounteous gluttony you can make the following:

  • Shredded Pork Sandwiches: Shred up a third of the pork (easy since it was slow cooked) and pile high on a nice kaiser roll, top with some extra sauce. Serve with cole slaw (on top of the sandwich or on the side). I like to buy broccoli slaw which I toss with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Or sometimes I serve with shredded carrots tossed with mayo, lemon juice and raisins.

  • BBQ Pork with Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

    Boil some potatoes and mash with minced garlic and sour cream. Top with a few large pieces of your pork. Drizzle with extra sauce and top with some shredded cheddar. (hmmm... There should be a veggie here. Baby carrots work!)

  • BBQ Pork Tacos: offer all your favorite fixings but I prefer shredded cheddar with guacamole and diced tomatoes on flour tortillas. Yum!

    See, super easy. And barely no cooking whatsoever.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
  • Saturday, May 12, 2012

    Messy Dessert

    Maddie learned her alphabet pretty young, but for about the past year, she has had no interest in letters or reading. She runs away if I mention letters (not always literally but sometimes). And she's usually too busy bopping around to sit still and read a book. Except at nighttime when we are on a strict Princess/Strawberry Shortcake routine. (Very educational!)

    This month, out of the blue, Maddie started talking letters again. In addition to drawing circles and lines, she started announcing that she was writing "c". So out came this fun project.

    What's more fun than learning? Learning through dessert!

    After dinner one night, I told Maddie it was time for dessert and produced a cookie sheet and chocolate pudding. She had a blast!

    Hmmm, what should I draw?


    Let's practice "I" and "c"!

    I thought the best part would be that we could lick our hands (don't worry we washed them first!), but Maddie was skeptical. We made several trips to the sink before she finally got the idea.

    I get the feeling she liked it.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    Saturday, May 5, 2012


    She took that herself. What a photographer! Rob's iPhone allows her to take pictures as she's looking at the subject of the photo. Subsequently, he now has 1000 photos of Maddie on his phone.

    This photo is what he shows customers who don't tip.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone