Monday, May 25, 2009

The Watering Can

Doubles as microphone/echo-maker

Headed out to the garden

No water for the plants....

Headed back to the house

Truckin' around for hours with the watering can!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shirt is a four-letter word

Today's amusement began as intrigue when I heard Eileigh casually swearing repeatedly in the next room.... and then she came around the corner and waved her shirt at me... Ohhhhh, that's what she means!!! :) Glad she didn't mean she needed a diaper change!!! :)

Strawberry BBQ Pulled Pork and Garden Coleslaw

Being that summer is fast approaching, I am very much in the fresh fruits and veggies mode (I know, I know, I should be all year but the sunshine just makes me want to eat healthier). This self-acknowledged recipe-aholic found the idea of this unique combination of flavors irresistable and decided to try strawberries and BBQ in a whole new way. The dish ended up being fabulous whether eaten by itself, served on round rolls, or fixed up the day after in a tortilla wrap with spinach and avocado (mmm). The Garden Coleslaw is my go-to recipe for coleslaw as it's got a nice tangy, creamy flavor- and it was a great complement to the pulled pork sandwiches.

Pulled Pork with Strawberry BBQ Sauce

2.5-3 lb. boneless pork sirloin, shoulder, or butt roast (mine was a shoulder roast that had two smallish bones in it and it worked out fine!)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
4 c. strawberries, halved or quartered (divided)
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
Bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)
8 rolls or buns, split

Trim fat from pork. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. In large Dutch oven over medium heat brown pork in hot oil on all sides. Add half the strawberries, the ketchup, vinegar, garlic, rosemary, and several dashes hot pepper sauce. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 2 hours or until pork is tender. (**I would suggest turning meat over after an hour to cook in sauce evenly**) Remove pork from Dutch oven; loosely cover with foil; let stand 10 minutes.
For strawberry BBQ sauce, skim fat from cooking liquid. Return liquid to Dutch oven; bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes or until reduced to about 2 cups (mine was pretty much at 2 c. already so I just drained the fat off the top and then let it simmer a bit)
Using two forks, shred pork; discard fat. Stir 1 c. strawberry BBQ sauce into pork. Stir remaining strawberries into BBQ sauce. Serve pork on buns. Top with additional sauce.

Garden Coleslaw
**I use a whole head of cabbage and then double the rest of the ingredients**

3 c. shredded cabbage
1/4 c. chopped green pepper
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream (I've also used fat free half-and-half; decide on the trade-off: calories vs. flavor)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt

In small bowl, combine the cabbage, pepper and onion. Combine the remaining ingredients; add to cabbage mixture and toss to coat. **Best chilled.

Monday, May 18, 2009

'Shrooms, Shrimp and Spinach

This is now moving into position along with some of my other favorites- it includes some of my favorite ingredients so how could I go wrong?? Mushrooms, shrimp, cheese, spinach....mmmm. The title of this is a "stew" but I think it really seemed more like a soup/chowder (so maybe I'll change the name someday...)

Shrimp, Mushroom and Spinach Stew

8 oz. fresh or frozen shrimp, deveined, peeled (I used probably 1 lb.)
1 c. sliced shiitake mushrooms (I used close to 2 c.)
1 med. onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 2-3 cloves)
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth (I suggest reduced-sodium)
1 c. fat-free half-and-half
3/4 c. Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 c. torn fresh spinach

Thaw shrimp if frozen and set aside.
In large soup pot, cook mushrooms, onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour, bay leaf, nutmeg and pepper. Add broth and half-and-half all at once. Cook and stir until mixture is thick and bubbly.
Add shrimp, cook for 2 minutes more. Add cheese and stir until cheese melts.
Remove bay leaf. Stir in spinach. Serve immediately. Serves: 4
**I think it tastes best with freshly ground pepper on top! Delicious.

Go Mariners!!!!

For our first anniversary we spent the weekend at Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and rode the Mt. Hood dinner train for the Sunday brunch. Second anniversary we celebrated in Hawaii (Waikiki) and enjoyed everything the tourist traps had to offer. Third anniversary was post-Eileigh and was one of the first times we'd actually spent any extended time apart from her; we drove over to Tillamook and explored the Air Museum and toured the Cheese Factory (lunching on cheeseburgers and Tillamook ice cream). We also enjoyed the wildlife on the drive over (stopping to gaze at length at a small herd of elk).

This year we decided in advance to go see a Mariners game- Mike's been to several in his life (having grown up in Olympia) and I went to one in college with a girlfriend as guests of her friend, a cameraman for Komo News (and the game). But Mike and I had never been to one together and thought that it would be a great opportunity to go and take advantage of the fact that Mike's parents live so close and they could take care of Eileigh while we were gone! We don't get to see them as frequently as we'd all like so we knew they would be willing and excited to take care of Eileigh while we went to the game.

Mike and I had a fabulous time- found a great parking spot a block away for $20 (which we justified paying since we "so rarely" go to a game), ate lunch (polish sausage piled sky high with sauerkraut and relish, deep-fried mushrooms and the most expensive water I have ever tasted) and then settled in to watch the game. It was Mariners v. Boston Red Sox and for most of the game (past the first couple innings) they were tied 2-2. Mike and I decided to get out of the sun and wandered around the rest of the stadium viewing the game from all available angles. Finally we headed back to our seats for the last two innings and were standing at the rail when Cedeno connected for the game-winning hit and Mariners scored the win!!! It was pretty exciting and a wonderful bonus to such a great day.

We got home to find Eileigh happy and contented from a wonderful time with Grandpa and Grandma and enjoyed hearing the stories and seeing pictures of their adventures together.

Mariners v. Boston Red Sox

Space Needle behind us

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Jack insisted I wear this to the game- it was made out of jogging-suit material
(yeah, a big "no" on that one)

Eileigh liked it though!!! :)

Eileigh in the backyard

Her incredibly goofy face she makes when we tell her to "Smile!"

On a walk with Grandma

You can see a little of her sunburn- poor girl!
(that was our fault from the day before)

New outfit from Grandma

Eileigh's new favorite pastime- bubbles!!!!

Getting tickled by Grandma

Trying to give Grandpa her ball

Early in the morning- no extra sleep for us just because it's vacation!! :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Fourth Anniversary!!

To us!! Four years ago- Saturday, May 14, 2005- Mike and I said forever to each other! It has been the most incredible four years of my life- abundant in challenges and bountiful in blessings. Mike and I were discussing several days ago how it feels as though we have always been a part of each others life. You could stretch that to the joking negative of "I feel as though we've been married forever!" or focus on the positive- that I think my life truly began when I married Mike. And so we HAVE always been a part of each others life- this beautiful, holy, God-ordained married life.

I don't remember what I woke up singing the morning of our wedding day, although I do recall singing Marvin Gaye (jokingly) at some point- "Let's Get It On". It was at least in half-jest!! :) I drove to Dallas for my hair updo, then back to Salem mall's Clinique counter for my makeup (trial run completed several weeks prior, of course). When I arrived at the church I immediately ran into Mike and one of his groomsmen- I believe it was Clinton. I figured it was okay if Mike saw me since I didn't have my dress on yet. He didn't look so well and actually appeared nervous- which in turn made me nervous since I didn't really expect that from him. I told Clinton not to let him run off (again, in half jest) and Clinton assured me he would tackle and pin down as necessary.

Mike and I shared our special moment (with everyone peeking in of course) and I don't know if I have ever felt more beautiful. It was pretty emotional then and I thought that would be it and we'd get through the ceremony just fine- unless Mike (sensitive soul that he is) felt the need to shed a few additional tears (on account of my overwhelming beauty or perhaps the vastness of our chosen committment). Surprisingly enough (to me), I was the one to get choked up during our vows and Mike was my steadfast rock who held my gaze and carried me through. At the time our future was uncertain with Mike's job in limbo due to budget concerns. As I was vowing to follow him wherever the Lord may lead us I considered the fullness of my vow- that as a wife I will support and follow my husband wherever God is leading us, even if that means to the corner of the world. What an incredible decision to make and what a necessary one! Our pastor has pointed out that we make our vows before we understand the depth, before we can know the fullness of their meaning, before we see what the future will bring; the purpose of making this committment at the beginning is so when the trials come the committment has already been made and that is what we stand on- because if we waited until it was already painfully difficult, we wouldn't survive the storm (and who would perhaps make such a committment if we truly knew all that it would entail?)

So Mike did great and didn't seem to be nervous at all. I only had one "Oh no, I can't do this moment" right before my bridesmaids and I were about to leave the dressing room to walk down the aisle. I suddenly felt so inadequate to be making such a vast, forever vow. My inspired bridesmaids all prayed over me and I was overwhelmed with the peace that passes understanding. A few minutes later and standing with my dad as we waited to walk down the aisle I was nothing but excited. Well, and a little bit giggly- my 21-mo. old nephew had filled his diaper with an extremely odorous offering and as he walked cheerfully down the aisle I could almost visualize a thin green trail of stench wafting along behind him.

The ceremony was beautiful and when we got to the reception all I remember thinking is how much I wanted to get going and get out of there!! We had a couple bites of our cake but didn't eat any of the food- too busy smiling and talking to everyone I guess! After we left the reception and changed we actually ended up coming back to the church on our way up to Portland and got a couple of "goodie" bags to tide us over until we made it to dinner (which ended up being at a Shari's close to our hotel in Portland).

It was a wonderful, incredible day that I recall with the fondest of memories!! What a start to this life's journey!!! Four down and here's to many, many more!!!

Mike seeing me for the first time

Our getaway ride was an ambulance!!! (I even got to sound the siren... a little)

I was laughing hysterically!!!

My beautiful bridesmaids and flower girl!!

Mr. and Mrs.

I loved my cake!!!

**Honeymoon pics to follow** :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not Berry's Farm

I remember going to Knott's Berry Farm and riding some pretty insane rollercoasters. However, here in our little backyard farm and garden area we give wheelbarrow rides. Perhaps not as stomach-churning as a rollercoaster but certainly enjoyable by the amused look on Eileigh's face. I treasure extremely fond memories of the times my parents would give my sisters and I wheelbarrow rides. I also seem to remember as we got a bit older my sisters and I would give each other rides with the main objective of going as fast as you possibly can, crashing, and ultimately dumping the rider out in a blaze of glory. Good times, good times.

Our garden is starting to grow!! We have three raised beds planted and two more built just needing to be fixed in the ground and then filled with soil and plants! Last year I was too late for planting pretty much anything (except for some sprouting red and sweet potatoes I had in the house for far too long!!) This year we got an early start- a little too early, apparently, since the frost claimed a few of our little seedlings. But we now have some pretty nice starts to take their place and I can't wait for the harvest!! I'm piling up all of my summertime recipes to take advantage of (a hopefully abundant) harvest!

Finally, Sterling was continuously in the way as Mike was industriously painting our new porch. Actually, Sterling is underfoot most of the time. At this point he kept climbing Mike's ladder and going out to the little shelf. I thought it was humorous but I might have been alone in my amusement!! I take that back, Eileigh seemed to think it was pretty funny too. :)

What I find when I come home:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stopping to smell the... flowers of many varieties

Mike cheerfully agreed to my request for hanging baskets to be hung on our front porch in honor of Mother's Day. I have wanted to have flower baskets hung in between the pillars on our porch ever since we moved in three years ago and somehow we've just never gotten around to it- but this year is THE year!! I was able to get off of work early and ran out to Wavra Nursery to pick out some flowers since several girls at work raved about their selection as well as their prices. It was an incredibly peaceful time for me to wander through large, quiet, humid greenhouses filled with blossoming flowers and plants and trickling waterfalls. The fragrances from all the flowers were wonderful and I'm sure I could have spent several hours wandering around and just enjoying the beauty. I did indulge for a little while before finally selecting two enormous, beautiful baskets with flowers cascading towards the ground. Once home Mike ran out and bought hooks to hang them on as well as a long-handled sprayer that I can easily water the baskets with! I am enjoying them immensely and am so thankful to Mike for making it happen!

I also thought I'd share my gift from last year for Mother's Day- I think it was one of the first times Eileigh was away from me and I think they were gone about an hour and a half. I didn't know why at the time but I now have a very precious gift that I treasure!! Her hands and feet were so tiny then!