Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Chili

I made this chili up the other day in the crock pot.   I couldn't find a recipe with the specific ingredients I had on hand, so I sorta tried it on my own.  (I already had my ground turkey crumbled and cooked, something I had done a few days beforehand.) 

2-3 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 Tbs. mustard seed (optional) 
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbs. coconut oil 
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. cumin
2 Tbs. chili powder
2.5 lbs ground turkey
3 cans (14.5 oz. ea) diced tomatoes
3 cans water
2.5 cups of dried black beans*- rinsed, drained (I used the whole bag, 16 oz)
2 cups dried pinto beans* - rinsed, drained

*I did not soak the beans

Plug in your crock pot and turn to high.  Pour in the diced tomatoes and water (and ground meat if you already have it cooked).  In a skillet, heat the canola oil then add mustard seed, if using.  Once the seeds pop, add in the chopped onion and cook until tender.  Push the onion to the outer edges and pour the coconut oil into the empty space.  Add in the garlic and cook for about a minute or less.  Stir in your salt, cumin and chili powder.  (If your meat isn't cooked, now would be a good time to add it - hopefully you've chosen a lean meat so you won't have extra grease.  When we brown our turkey, we never have to pour off grease.)  Add onion mixture  to the crock pot, as well as the beans.  Cook on high for about 3 hours, then switch to medium for about 2 hours.
The dried beans will soak up a lot of liquid.  We ended up with a very thick chili that barely had any liquid.  (Biju actually liked it better this way.)
Also, our chili was to the brim of the crock pot by the time the beans had soaked up all the liquid.  If you would like, you can reduce your beans and/or increase your liquid to reach the consistency you prefer.
Goes really well with a dollop of sour cream (or yogurt) and a sprinkle of shredded cheese, perhaps some cornbread or crackers.  Yum yum!  Biju topped his with buffalo sauce and chopped (raw) red onion.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Something new

You might notice I've added something new to the top left-hand side of our blog.  It is a pregnancy ticker - it will act as a countdown to when our baby is due. 
That's right!  We are having a new little one and we're very excited to share our news with you.  We are due in May of 2011.  That means I'm not very far along at this point, but I don't do well with secrets.  This way it is all out in the open and I don't have to worry about slipping up and saying something I shouldn't. 
Ajay has already informed us he would like a baby sister and that he wants to name her Isabella.  Alex knows that there is a baby in my tummy, but for all he's aware of, I could have eaten a baby!!

This is how we told my parents (and how they told anyone who came to the house this weekend):

I thought it would be fun, since this is the 12th grandchild on my side of the family, to give Mom and Dad a dozen cookies, each with the name of a grandchild.  I was super busy on Friday, so my sister asked if she could do up the cookie bouquet for me.  I gladly accepted her offer and she went to town doing it up right!  She bought a cute hand-print cookie-cutter, a little flower pot and the raffia.  She made up the sugar cookies at her place then came over Friday night to babysit for us (while Biju and I went on a date!).  She brought the cookies and got them iced while she was watching the boys.  The cookies wanted to fall off of their stick, so we had to transport them to my parents like this: 

About a half hour away from my folks' place, I started putting the bouquet together.  Jenna had fallen off on Friday night and Brandon fell off while we were driving, but the rest stayed on for the presentation.  Mom looked at the bouquet, oohed and aw-ed and immediately counted the cookies.  "But there are more cookies here."  I just sort of gave her a puzzled look.  Then I asked "Well, who is there?"  When she started naming them, a couple more cookies fell off, so we took them inside to lay them out.  She went through and named all of the children.  When she got to the big question mark, she looked at me and asked if there would be another brown haired, brown eyed little one running around.  I grinned and said there would be and she started giggling and shouting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" 

I think my sister did a fabulous job on the cookies and they tasted delicious!  (I took a bite of one of Alex's fingers.)  Thank you, Shelly, for helping me share such exciting news!  

Oh, and we're going to try to keep the gender a surprise.  It will be hard not to look at our big ultrasound but we want to experience hearing "It's a ___!" at the birth.  That just means we need to decide upon TWO names to take to the hospital so we're prepared for either one!  

The Zoo - With Family!

In July, we had a visit from my younger brother, Jeff, and his family.  They came for an extended weekend, which happened to be over his 30th birthday.   We tried to do some fun (inexpensive) things around town.  We hit the swimming pool and the zoo for some fun!   
Here are some shots taken from my phone while we were at the zoo....

Feeding time at the giraffe exhibit!

Thomas, Lenley, Logan and Jaime (with Tessa still in her tummy.)
Jeff holding Logan out so he can feed the giraffe.
Walking along with kids and strollers.
Ajay and Alex thought this little guy was adorable (so did the rest of us).
 Here were the kiddos all lined up at the bear exhibit.  Left to right: Audrey, Kyleigh, Logan, Alex, Paige, Ajay, Lenley and Thomas.
 We happened to be at the zoo while the fire fighters were there to cool everyone down.  We hadn't dressed for this event, but it didn't stop us from enjoying it!

Shelly with Audrey (and you can see Jeff with Logan to the left, and Alex to the right).
Jeff holding Logan so he could get sprayed.  Lenley was getting soaked, too.
Wasn't that fun??
Thomas and Ajay

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Child's Play, part 2

I do love that my phone has a camera feature. When phones w/ cameras first came out I thought it was all a bit too much. After all that's what cameras are for, right? But I always have my cell phone with me, so it comes in very handy when we're out and about playing and I don't have my camera with me! Like when we're at the park, at another park, or at a water park.... you know, all the varied places we go.

While we were visiting my parents farm over the week of July Fourth, I took the boys and cousin Paige to a park in the town in which my mom works. We packed a picnic lunch to eat with Nana. After her lunch break, she went back to work and the kids and I hung around awhile, burning off some extra energy.

Alex and Paige swinging...

Ajay swinging....

It was shortly after these photos were taken that the kids decided to have some races. Some accusations of cheating were passed around, tears were shed, screams were let loose, and we (as in I) figured it was time to go back to the farm.

These next three shots were taken at our usual park. Ajay was thrilled to be on top of those monkey bars, and Alex loved climbing up to that lower bar so he could hang like a monkey.

We met some friends and their children at a park that had sprinkler pads. It was a great chance for the mama's to sit and chat while the kids cooled off.

After the park, we went back to Angie's place for lunch and more playtime. Alex got his hands on some fun stuff in which to dress-up!

We do love our parks!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vacation Bible School

Another fun event that took place over the summer (yet wasn't blogged about when it happened) was VBS. Ajay was invited to attend this day camp with his buddy, Alex, from his Pre-PreK class :) It took place over the course of 4 mornings. The kids arrived, got checked in, ate cotton candy and snow cones for breakfast and danced and sang to some rockin' Christian music. They then split off into age groups, talked a bit, did a craft then ate lunch. After lunch there was free time to play on the park's play equipment, eat more snow cones and cotton candy and bounce in the bounce house.

I hung out with Alex's mommy, Crystal, Alex's younger brother Rylan, and our Alex. The first day we stayed at the park with the camp. The next day we left the VBS site and strolled along the trails to see the rest of the park. Each day we packed a picnic for ourselves and the littler ones. Those running the camp were great and let (our) Alex jump in the bounce house, too, and partake of the sugary goodness. I have a mental snapshot of Alex with his whole face plunged deep into the fluff of a purple cotton candy.

Here is Buddy Alex (with his back to the camera), Our Alex, Ajay, and the little girl in orange shorts is a friend Crystal brought along - all in great jumping motion.

Alex hanging out admiring the scenery while on one of our walks through the parks grounds.

Ajay getting ready to climb this bounce-slide. I thought it would be too high and he would freak out once he got to the top. I was so wrong. He did this as many times as he could, until it was time to leave. (Buddy Alex is in the pic, too, but, again, has his back is to the camera.)

Can you see Ajay at the top of the slide? His feet are hanging over, about ready to come down.

Ajay sharing a Frisbee with Little Bro, right after he introduced Alex to the Purple Cow you can sorta see there in the background.

It was a crazy, awesome, fun time at this Vacation Bible School!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A new baby!

Welcome to the world, Tessa Renee!! 

I chatted with my brother, Jeff, online a little last night before bed.  Since Logan (he turned 2 in August) was breach and was born via c-section, Tessa would enjoy the same delivery method.  Jeff told me Jaime (his wife) wouldn't be able to sleep a wink and that he was going to be in trouble if he was able to sleep!  They had to wake up at 5am to get ready to go to the hospital. 

I called Mom while we were getting Ajay ready for school this morning to check on the situation.  Mom had taken her laptop with her to the hospital so when Alex and I got back from taking Ajay to the bus stop we got on the web-cam to chat for awhile.  After some time, I heard Jeff come into the room and announce that the baby had arrived and was doing well.

She was born at 8:15am, was 7lb 11oz, and was 20.5in. long.  Mom e-mailed me some pics (gotta love modern technology!)

 She got her daddy's cheeks!  
And just for comparison, Logan (at birth) is on the top, Tessa is on the bottom:

I crocheted up a hat for her - I hope it's the right size!  They got it in the mail yesterday and I think they took it to the hospital with them.  

Child's Play

Here are a few more photos that I took with my phone over the summer.

This first shot was after the boys found some mud to play in. After they finished their fun, they were immediately stripped and dunked into a bath. And then I smacked my forehead. Why would I put *this* into a bath?? Two minutes after putting them into the tub, I drained the brown water then turned on the shower. Yes. Much more effective. (Especially for the clump that matted down the back of Alex's hair.) And no, the clothes did not come out stain-free.

Shortly after the school year ended earlier this spring, Ajay's buddy Skyler celebrated his birthday (along with his older brother, Zander). We decided to make their birthday presents, and settled on some finger paints. I cooked up a batch then divided them into little plastic seal-able cups. The boys had fun mixing in the different colors.

(They used a plastic popsicle stick to do the mixing.)

Alex stayed home to nap while Ajay went to the party. He really enjoyed himself and loved taking a few whacks at the pinata.

Also at the beginning of the summer we got to visit another PreK classmate. Here is James (a timid little fellow), Alice, Ajay and Alex. Alice is attending another school this year so we're trying to find a time to get the kids together for another little playdate.

Alex giving new baby Eunice some love.

The kids love the zoo (don't most children?) and are enjoying our zoo pass. Alex's favorite stop is the hippos.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Recipe Wednesday - Watermelon Juice

I came across this recipe last year and really enjoyed it. I didn't make it as the recipe indicated (took out the ice), so it really turned out more like a sweet-tart "watermelon juice." I like sweet-tart.

We have some cut up watermelon that the boys had given up eating, so this evening when they came in from playing, I whipped up a quick drink with the leftovers! (And then I made a glass for myself!)

* 1 cup chopped watermelon (and since I was finishing everything off, I poured the rest of the juice in, too, which was about a half cup of juice)
* 1 Tbs. Lemon Juice (I had some in a bottle in the fridge. Lime would go wonderfully with this, as the original recipe calls for.)
* 1/2 Tbs. sugar

Toss everything into a blender (the Magic Bullet works perfectly for this) and blend. Drink up!

These are just general numbers. You can use however much you need/want. I like tart, so I really wouldn't have minded adding in even more lemon juice. (In fact, I didn't measure the boys' drink and the amount of sugar and lemon juice I added seemed just about right.)

When made to the recipe above, (I measured the extra watermelon juice as an extra half cup of diced watermelon) the breakdown is as follows:

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 1
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 101.2
  • Total Fat: 1.1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 4.8 mg
  • Total Carbs: 24.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Protein: 1.6 g

What is this? - The Answer!

Shortly after publishing the previous post my sister-in-law, Brandi, YIM'd (Yahoo Instant Messenger) me to let me know that this was Poke Weed. She said: "hey, i can answer the question on the berries. they are poke weed berries. you do not want to eat them, they are not good for you."

My aunt, Tina, also contacted me letting me know that she, too, had this growing in her yard. When I told her what Brandi had told me, she did a bit more research.
Here is what caught my attention most about this article:
[Toxic] In humans:

The eating of limited quantities of poke, perhaps of the shoots, may cause retching or vomiting after two hours or more. These signs may be followed by dyspnea, perspiration, spasms, severe purging, prostration, tremors, watery diarrhea and vomiting (sometimes bloody) and, sometimes, convulsions. In severe poisonings, symptoms are weakness, excessive yawning, slowed breathing, fast heartbeat, dizziness, and possibly seizures, coma and death.

ACK!! So glad I didn't let the boys eat them. Next year, I'll get out the loppers as soon as I see them growing.

What is this?

Anyone know?

The boys discovered this last year with their cousins. I had no idea what it was so they were instructed to leave it alone. When the boys re-discovered it this year they were told again they needed to be careful with it. I can't imagine the berries would be toxic but I didn't want to take a chance. I would love for you all to take a look at the following photos and, if you can, please identify this plant/berry for me! Thanks!

Here is a wide shot of the whole plant. It grew along our fence line.

Here are the berries against my hand.

Here are the berries in Ajay's hand.

A more detailed shot of the berries.

The boys' hands stained purple after they used the berries as bombs. (Washed off pretty easily.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


We've settled into a nice little routine for school. We've had to rearrange a few of our original plans, but everything is working out nicely.

A couple of things have happened since the start. On the second day of school I wasn't waiting at the corner for bus drop-off (I was walking down the sidewalk). Since I wasn't right there at the corner, Ajay didn't get off the bus. At the time we weren't sure if he was actually on the bus or floating around somewhere else in the system and Biju and I got quite concerned. Of course, since I was just walking to the corner I didn't take my phone. Biju noticed something wasn't right so jumped into his car. He drove around the block (to try to catch up to the bus) then came back to meet me. He had my phone, so I got it from him and called the school. They put me on hold while they made their appropriate calls. A little while later we saw the bus pull up to the stop. I was unsure whether Ajay would be freaking out and was prepared to give him tons of reassurances ("It's okay, Sweetheart, you'll do better next time" and whatnot). Turns out, the kid was just fine. He hopped off the bus, turned around and waved to the bus driver, then faced me as if all of this was perfectly normal. We quickly explained that he wasn't in trouble but to always get off the bus at his designated spot.

Another, not so scary, incident was - the $25 lunch box got left behind. That happened on a Friday. When Ajay got home I asked where his lunch box was and a look crossed over his face. I could tell he had no idea he'd left it behind and when he realized he had, he burst into tears. Again, I called the school. The secretary glanced in the Kindergarten room but was unable to find it. We had to wait the whole weekend before we could find out where it had been left. In the Kdg. room? In the gym? Did it make its way into some other kids possession? Luckily on Monday morning, Mrs. T handed me the box, with the advice that I take the contents straight to the compost bin if we had one! (It really wasn't that bad, thankfully.)

I've decided that when I let Ajay ride the school bus in the morning and in the afternoons, I feel very "out of the loop." I now take Ajay to school in the mornings and let the bus drop him off in the afternoons. Mommy feels much better with this arrangement, however Ajay begs every morning to let him ride the bus. Boo. I figure we can treat this like school lunches. Once a week he can have a school lunch and once a week he can ride the bus to school. I'm willing to compromise. :)

Here are some more of Ajay's lunches. Its fun to take pics :) Its not fun, however, seeing most of the contents come back every afternoon. I've drastically cut back on the amount of food sent, and have made sure to send mostly non-perishable foods. The frozen juice bottle will keep foods cool until lunchtime, but not until he gets home from school!

Here we have a banana, a chocolate, some juice, frozen peas (Ajay prefers them frozen, but I was hoping he would eat them anyway once they thawed by lunch), a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some Cheez-Its.

And I took a couple other shots this day so you could see how deep the Goodbyn is, and how big it is in comparison to Ajay. It tucks nicely into the first zippered pocket on his backpack even though it looks rather big.

Cheez-Its mixed with Wheat Thins, a chocolate, frozen juice, frozen corn, cheese chunks and turkey slices on a kabob (toothpick - with the sharp ends cut off for safety), dried cranberries mixed with almonds.

Lunch for today: Carrot sticks, grapes, a chocolate (not pictured), frozen juice, ranch (in which to dip the carrots), half of a turkey sandwich, almonds with sesame seeds (already shelled).

Ajay had some homework to do over the weekend so he got to put his "new" school-desk to good use. In this picture, he's tracing his name. After tracing, he was to write his name on his own. He's having issues with the lower-case letters. He spent all of last year mastering uppercase and now he has to switch to lower-case. Not as easy as it may seem!