Monday, October 31, 2011

Simple Joy ~ Traditions

Happy Halloween!!! 

Today marks one of my favorite days in the whole calendar year. Not because Halloween is my favorite holiday. For it is not. In fact, I believe I was born missing a gene for creative costuming. Those with a flair for Halloween costumes have a special gene, you know. She is not I. 

However, I have much joy on this day because Halloween marks the beginning of a wickedly intense holiday season spanning the next 62 days. 

In addition to the multitude of winter festivals and holidays fast approaching, we celebrate a few birthdays in our family throughout this season as well. 

My favorite part of all of this are the various traditions that surround each and every one of these celebrations that occur over the next two months. 

I wait all year long for this day, October 31st. Most importantly because of the fact that once Halloween night concludes, at exactly 12 o'clock midnight, Christmas music will magically turn on in my house and won't stop playing for 55 days straight. I'm not joking. Ask my husband. And then do me a favor and try to convince him that this is a good thing.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monster Mash aka Spiced Apple Pot Roast

Every year on Halloween it is my tradition to make a pot roast. Returning home from the day's crazed activities, we all could use a hot and hearty meal before we head out on our sugar bomb quest for the evening. 

This spiced apple pot roast—also known as Monster Mash because of the way it looks when it's finished cooking—is perfect for All Hallows' Eve. 

Don't be alarmed by the mushy mashy nature of the apples and spices when all is said and done. That's the nature of Monster Mash.

Monster Mash aka Spiced Apple Pot Roast

3 pound pork shoulder roast with plenty of marbling
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored, halved
1 (12oz) bottle hard cider
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste

The Preparation Method:

1) Put chopped onions in the bottom of a crock-pot. 

2) Place pork shoulder roast over the onions. (You may choose to brown the pork shoulder first for more flavor. I omit this step because it turns my crock-pot cooking day into a stovetop cooking day, and I don't like that. Besides, my mother-in-law makes the tastiest pot roasts on the planet and she never browns the roast. I'm attempting to follow suit.) Sprinkle roast generously with salt and pepper.

3) Sit half apples on top of the meat.

4) Pour hard cider over meat. 

5) Mix together sugar, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle everything with sugar/spice mixture.

6) Set crock-pot on low heat and cook for 6-8 hours.

7) When done, the apples will have turned to spiced apple sauce and the meat will fall apart with the touch of a fork.

For the Visual Learners Among Us:

Crisp fall apples.

Well marbled pork shoulder roast.

Choose any one of the yummy hard ciders in the fall line by Woodchuck. I used the "Fall" brew for this recipe.

I can't get enough of onions soaked in the juices of an all-day pot roast. Therefore, I choose the largest onion I can find.

Mix these fall spices together for the topping.

Peel, core and halve the apples. I used Granny Smith, but am very curious how my favorite Honeycrisps would do in this recipe.

Layer 'em all up.

Pour the hard cider in.

Sprinkle, sprink, sprinkley-dink.

6-8 hours on the low setting in the crock-pot. Done. Talk about the "Easy Button".

This dinner should fall apart at a touch.

And there you have it. The Monster Mash for All Hallows' Eve. Enjoy, and have a safe and spooky holiday!

And now... a slightly spooky and very kooky video for 1962's Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett.

Friday, October 28, 2011

GFCF Halloween Candy

The Halloween countdown is ON!

My kids have been anticipating Halloween night for a couple of weeks now, each day with an estimation of the days 'til Halloween — we'll go from 20 days away to 15 days away to tomorrow — almost overnight. But that doesn't matter, when the day hits, we'll all know it.

The mounds of candy the little munchkins collect is enough to choke a dead horse. ( <<< That's a saying from my past. Do people still say that?)

But besides choking a dead horse, the candy that enters my home presents a slightly deeper issue in a house that has multiple food allergies for adults and children alike — namely gluten, dairy and corn.

Mainstream Halloween candy sans gluten, dairy and corn is hard to find. Actually, it's impossible to find. I know it's possible to find some items that are both gluten and dairy free, but not corn free as well. Almost every single item at the bottom of those plastic orange pumpkins will contain corn syrup. (Unless the old lady next door dropped a penny in the bucket. But that's a different story entirely.) What to do? What to do?

In the past, we've shot from the hip to make our best guesses about potential allergens in the candy. That said, we all agree to let the corn thing slide for just the evening, knowing full well that adverse health reactions will likely result in the morning. And every year, just days after Halloween, we find ourselves managing a decently sized allergic reaction. What to do? What to do?

After all the trick-or-treating is complete on Monday night, we'll come back to the warmth of our living room to do The Great Candy Swap. This was always my favorite part of the whole Halloween experience. Trading candy with my brother on the dining room floor of our 100 year-old spooky Victorian house would leave me with great satisfaction over securing the bestest of the best in miniature sugar bombs. I don't want to deprive my children of this most grand experience. We need to have fun with the trick-or-treating and mitigate our risks at the same time. What to do? What to do?

Preparedness. Preparedness is the answer. Or at least I think it might be the answer. I'll let you know how it all works out on November 2nd.

The quest to achieve preparedness has lead me to research. Research is the answer. Or at least I think it will be the answer.

So I took to the world wide webs in an effort to have a "sugar bomb plan" come 8pm on Halloween night.

This is what I found to be most helpful:

Jane Anderson, the Celiac Disease Guide at, has done a nice job of outlining all of the mainstream gluten-free candies we can expect to see in our children's orange plastic buckets. Her list was updated in October 8, 2011. Thank you, Jane.

Taking it a step further, Alison St. Sure at Sure Foods Living has put together a comprehensive list of the top 8 allergen ingredients in (most) mainstream candies. I'm really diggin' this list because I can easily reference an item and determine if it contains the specific allergen I need to know about. Thanks to all of Alison's hard work, this list is easy-to-read and print ready, albeit long. I plan to print this list out and highlight the items that work for us. I'm going to post it on my front door, back door, chicken coop, kitchen cabinets and above my bed for quick reference. Not really. But maybe if I did, this great info would enter through osmosis and save me some time as we prepare for this busy day.

The gluten-free dairy-free candy I'm most looking forward to this year... Airheads. Children, guard your buckets. Goodness, I think I might be an addict. Someone save me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Braised Collard Greens with Coconut Milk

Last week I showed up to teach my childbirth class raving about a delicious collard green recipe I made for dinner that night. My husband and I virtually inhaled an entire head of collard greens in two minutes flat. I will admit, this behavior was quite shocking for both of us. Leafy greens have not been a strongpoint at our dinner table recently. Errrrrr, I mean, ever. 

In class that evening, the topic was prenatal nutrition. I mentioned the amazing properties of collard greens and the benefits for pregnant women and their growing babies. When discussing a healthy and well-balanced diet in pregnancy, I talked on the topic of "Eating Smart". The bottom line is if you choose your foods wisely you will pack the most powerful punch into each meal. This way you get all of your essential nutrients without turning eating into a chore.

Fresh cooked collard greens contain the following essential nutrients:

Calcium & Magnesium — Essential to proper functioning of muscle contractions. (Hello, Uterus!)

Potassium — Is known to relieve pregnancy related muscle cramps. (Good Evening, Charlie Horse!)

Folate — Reduces the risk of anemia for the mother & supports rapid growth of the placenta and fetus. (Hello, Healthy Little One)

Vitamin C — Fights infection and helps to build a healthy placenta. (Welcome, Most Amazing Temporary Organ in the Human Body!)

Vitamin A — Contributes to healthy skin and mucus membranes. (Hello, Amniotic Sac!)

Choline — Helps fetal brain cells to develop properly. (Ahhh, Genius!) 

Not only do collard greens pack a punch, but the coconut milk in this dish offers quite a bit of benefit as well. Coconut milk contains healthy fats and is known to be anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-viral. 

Good heavens! You have to try this recipe. Go for the organic greens at the market and prepare them as soon as possible. The collard greens will turn bitter if left to sit in the refrigerator too long. Also worthy to note, the smaller the leaf on the collard green, the milder the flavor. 

Let's get started...

Braised Collard Greens with Coconut Milk

Serves: 2
Prep Time: approximately 20 minutes

1 TBS grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 bunch collard greens, torn into pieces away from the stem
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
Salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste

The Preparation Method:

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Wash the leaves of the greens from all dirt and sand. Wash well. Gritty greens are never very tasty.

Tear the leaves apart away from fibrous stems. Dispose of the stems. Set aside.

Slice the yellow onion thinly. Set aside.

Juice that lemon. Set aside.

Once the water is boiling, add some salt and the torn greens. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Heat grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced onions. Gently salt and cook about 5 minutes until soft and translucent, stirring often.

Add the well-drained collard greens. Gently salt and cook about 2 minutes, stirring the entire time.

Add 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1/2 TBS lemon juice. Stir well and gently simmer about 5 minutes or until tender.

Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve hot or cold.


Oh boy, this sounds good!

Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile — Attaboy (Live)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Simple Joy ~ Fall Sunshine

Quite possibly, this has been the best fall on record in our region.

The factors that have worked in our favor include... sunshine, warm days, crisp evenings and brilliant colors on the trees.

The factors that are typically a buzz kill to the high hopes for a glorious fall include... high winds, torrential rain and premature snowstorms. Regretfully, we've had too many fall seasons recently that fall into this category.

Just the other day I found myself sitting in a pile of woodchips on the children's playground at school allowing the sunshine to penetrate my exterior, bringing great joy to my interior. 

Taking the time to sit and absorb made my day approximately a thousand times better. I hope you get a chance to bask in it just a few days longer, friends!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sanity Strategies ~ Homemaking Day + Win $250

Flashback to half a decade ago...

On a crisp fall morning  a kindly neighbor mother and I were discussing household chores while riding bikes together downtown to work. How do you do it all? How do you keep up and not get overwhelmed? Do the other family members have assigned chores or do you let the jobs get done at will?

On the topic of laundry she made mention of the fact that she did a load of laundry every night before bed.

Me, mother of one: Really? Every night? 

She, mother of two: You got it. Every weekday night. Otherwise I get too far behind and I will never be able to catch up.

Me, mother of one: I can not believe you have that much laundry.

She, mother of two: Oh, you just wait. When you have your second baby you'll be in the same boat. (I was pregnant at the time.)

Me, mother of one: No?!!! (While thinking to myself—Oh drats, I'm in for it.)

I could not make sense of the information she was downloading to my brain. It felt so confusing. Five loads of laundry a week. No way! That's a boatload of laundry.

Fast-forward half a decade to today...

Three active children. A backyard with a dirt pit on one side. Soccer players and dancers and Tonka truck explorers.

Honestly, I would be happy if I only had five loads of laundry a week. When I am on the ball—i.e. changing the bedsheets and alternating the bath towels as I should—I have at least ten loads to work into my busy schedule.

It is no easy task.

Half of my issue probably lies in the fact that I'm a laundry snob and I don't like anyone else to touch my laundry. I feel irritated when the children try to help. I prefer to do it all myself. I'm a little OCD like that.

This compulsion to do it all myself leads to certain problems. Regular problems. Can you guess the most common issue in my home before 7am any given weekday morning?

That's right. You got it. "Where are my socks? Doesn't he have any socks? Go find your socks child. Mommmmm... can you find my socks? Sweetie, how 'bout you just wear your Crocs today."

The thing about the laundry in my house—as I'm sure you can relate—is that it keeps growing. No matter how many loads I do, or how diligently I attempt to stay on top of it, the pile grows and grows and grows. If I don't do laundry for two days in a row, I'm swimming in it.

In my opinion, the laundry is complete when my laundry basket is no longer flowing over. A full to the brim laundry basket gives me utter satisfaction of a job well done. I'll admit, I haven't seen the bottom of my laundry basket since becoming a mother over seven years ago.

This year I've made some adjustments to my weekly schedule in an attempt to make sure everyone has clean socks and bedsheets and towels and jeans when they need them. The system isn't perfect, but it gets me closer to my goal of a laundry room I can walk in.

Enter Homemaking Day

For years now my system of accomplishing all I needed to accomplish in day fell under a category I like to call Buffet Style Task Fulfillment. Do a little of this and a little of that, everyday, all day. Each day I would attempt some desk work, some cooking, some errands, some cleaning, some laundry, some exercise, some socializing, some kiddie activities, so on and so forth. Turns out this Buffet Style approach to getting anything done left me accomplishing little to nothing in a day, and feeling utterly frustrated when the day was over for lack of completing any one task well. The pressure to do it all was overwhelming and underserving.

So this year I've instituted Homemaking Day—a day where I base myself entirely in my home focusing on cooking meals for the week, deep cleaning funky corners and hammering through the laundry pile. It is imperative to the success of my day that I don't confuse my intentions by attempting to do desk work, or pay bills, or do any amount of socializing. 

Homemaking Day has brought me great joy and satisfaction at the end of the day. By the time the kids are ready to be picked up from school, I can proudly say that I've cooked two to three dinners, made a batch of chai for the week, completed three to five loads of laundry (including the folding and putting away), and scrubbed some low to the ground corner that was getting a little too funky for comfort. 

The best part about Homemaking Day is that it has brought my family a less stressed-out mother, meals waiting in the refrigerator ready to eat, semi-sanitary conditions in the places that matter most, and best of all, clean socks. 

For all of you excited to implement Homemaking Day into your weekly routine, be warned, it's no walk in the park. To accomplish enough in the day to feel satisfied, you'll be running. I like to call it aerobic householding. Picture yourself running up and down the stairs putting laundry away like you were on a game show ready to win a $10,000 prize for the most loads of laundry and cleanest folding table in the shortest amount of time. Picture yourself leaning over three boiling pots on the stovetop and one steaming oven. Picture yourself dancing to the country music station blaring from the radio in your kitchen and smiling.

Working your tail off in the home just one day a week makes for a much more relaxed remaining six days. Give Homemaking Day a try this week. I'd love to hear how it works to meet your householding needs—not to mention your aerobic needs.


This post is part of BlogHer's Life Well Lived — Getting Organized discussion happening right now at

Join in the conversation by sharing your ideas and comments at

And by the way, there is a $250 Visa gift card sweepstakes happening over there as well! Share your best Life Well Lived Moments to be entered to win at

Good luck and happy homemaking, friends!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Creamy Roast Pumpkin Soup (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

I'm on a roll with the pumpkin theme over here at Dance While You Cook. If you've been hanging around these parts for any amount of time you may have deduced that I am really whimsical in my postings and don't plan a thing, so this pumpkin theme in the month of October certainly wasn't intended.

It's just that pumpkin is jumping out at me from every angle. And I'm jumping on board.

(In case you missed my last few posts, check out my gluten-free pumpkin buckwheat muffins and this six pack of cider beer sitting in my ice box right now.)

I must admit, pumpkin is so darn tasty it keeps me dancing in The Little White Kitchen all month long.

Today's recipe for gluten and dairy free Creamy Roast Pumpkin Soup serves up all the rich warmth we've come to expect in a soup perfectly suited for a crisp fall evening.

Creamy Roast Pumpkin Soup (vegan & gluten-free)

Serves 6

2 TBS olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 medium pie pumpkins, roasted
2 cups raw cashews
2 cups plain rice milk
4 cups vegetable broth (can use chicken broth if you prefer)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
a few dashs of cayenne pepper
flaky sea salt, to taste

The Preparation Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roasted Pumpkins
Cut pie pumpkins in half, seed and gut. Reserve the seeds for roasting.

Spread a small amount of olive oil over the inside of the pumpkin. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place pumpkin halves flat side down in a baking dish. Roast pumpkins in preheated oven for approximately 1 hour, or until the flesh of the pumpkin is soft and can easily be scooped out of the pumpkin shell.

Cashew Cream
This recipe calls for 2 cups of cashew cream. To make the cashew cream, take 2 cups of raw cashews and soak them in water for at least 20 minutes. Drain water. Place in blender with 2 cups plain rice milk. Blend until smooth. Keep blending so there are no chunks what-so-ever. Measure out 2 cups and set aside. (Freeze all remaining cashew cream for use at another time.)

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
While the pumpkins are roasting, begin preparing the pumpkin seeds for toasting. Wash the pumpkin seeds in a bowl of cold water. Drain water from seeds and set aside on a towel. If soaking wet, give them a spin in the salad spinner to remove some of the excess water. In a small mixing bowl, toss pumpkin seeds with a touch of olive oil, a few dashes of cayenne pepper and some sea salt. Lay in a single layer in a baking pan. Place in the oven with the roasting pumpkins. Allow the seeds to roast until they are nice and brown, approximately 30 minutes. Be sure to stir halfway through to toast all sides evenly. Add more salt once you pull them out of the oven.

The Soup
Next, get all of the other materials for the soup ready. Once the roasted pumpkin is ready the rest of the soup will come together very quickly.

Once the pumpkins are done roasting, scoop all of the flesh out of the shells, mush well and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until soft and starting to brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, stir well and continue to cook for another minute.

Add all of the mushed pumpkin (approximately 4 cups) and 4 cups broth. Stir well. Allow to cook for another 10 minutes.

Using a submersion blender, or a standard blender, puree the soup until super smooth.

Return soup to large pot and add 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 2 cups cashew cream and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir well to combine. Heat through and serve with a hearty helping of roasted pumpkin seeds as a garnish.


I couldn't find a video for this song, but none-the-less, you need to listen to it. So fantastic! I have no idea what it's about, but what the heck, it's groovy. Who can complain? Anyone want to translate for me?

MC Solaar - Bling Bling

Monday, October 17, 2011

Simple Joy ~ The School Book Fair

The school book fair happened last week. It was a big couple of days in our house. The little people were jumping out of bed with joy in the wee hours of the morning proclaiming, "The book fair is today. It runs for the next three days. It starts as soon as the bell rings after school. When is that? How many hours until school lets out? Is it soon? Is it soon?" Honestly, I have never seen three little people so excited about books. At least not the three little people who live in my house.

A few interesting things unfolded last week around said book fair:

Most importantly ~ My entire house was cleaned "marine style" late Monday night by three people under three feet tall in an attempt to earn dollars for spending at the fair. They did well. And I woke up to a sparkling clean house. I was one happy mama.

Most gratefully ~ We made it in and out of the fair without any whining, complaining or throwing ourselves on the ground. (While it is typical for the youngsters to take to these tactics to try and get what they want, it is more common for me to fall victim to these methods whenever I take this triad into a retail setting, any retail setting. There are days shopping the aisles of Target when throwing myself on the ground seems a reasonable solution to the chaos unfolding around me the moment we roll by the toy aisle.)

Most hysterically ~ My husband was absolutely flabbergasted when he learned that the children took their own money into the book fair and bought books to take home. It wan't the fact that they took responsibility and earned money for their purchases that was shocking to him. Instead, it was the fact that at the book fair, students could actually purchase the books. He recalled his experience with school book fairs as a child—each kid got a free book to take home. And that was that. To which I replied with a puzzled look, "True, but the idea is that you would come back later that day with your parents and BUY more books. It's always a fundraiser for the school." "Oh my gosh", he gasped, "I wonder if my mom knew that?" We joked about this harsh realization for the better half of last week.

The thing I loved most about the book fair showing up at our local school—the cuteness that resulted. They were all helping each other read their books.

3-D glasses and all.

Even if the glasses weren't on quite right, it was the sentiment that brought joy to my heart.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Private Reserve Pumpkin Hard Cider by Woodchuck Cidery

Speaking of my love for all things pumpkin earlier this week, I felt compelled to write a post about a festive little package currently relaxing in my icebox.

When real beer drinkers are ready for a cold-one on Friday evening after work, it is unlikely they will head straight to the cider beer section at the liquor store. Real beer drinkers turned gluten-free face a harsh reality. No real beer. Ever. Sure, there are alternatives...sorghum, rice and buckwheat. But nothing comes close to the wheat and barely mix which brings richness and depth to that dark frothy mug of bubbly.

Accepting this reality, hard cider is one beer-like alternative that us gluten-free people can indulge in. I was beyond excited to see my sweet little Woodchuck's come out with a Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider for the fall season. 

When in the mood for a cold-one to swig at Friday night's crisp backyard BBQ, Woodchuck meets the call. But be warned, you must like sweet. Woodchuck's are sweet. Not dry. Sweet. Know this so you won't be caught off guard.

This is a special cider. Go ahead, dare yourself to love it. 

The back of the bottle says this:

"Woodchuck Private Reserve Pumpkin is limited to only two and a half hours on our production line. Fresh and crisp with pumpkin at the finish, it's crafted to be served at 45 degrees and pairs perfectly with roasted duck, turkey, squash ravioli as well as creme brulee and fresh cheesecake. Be part of the select few who get to savor this small batch."

Have it on hand for your gluten-free guests at this year's Halloween party or Thanksgiving dinner. They might thank you for it.

Side note: Most hard ciders are naturally gluten-free, but double-check the packaging to be extra sure they didn't add any barely or wheat in the process. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Buckwheat Muffins (Gluten Free)

'Tis the season for all things pumpkin. These gluten and dairy free muffins are such a huge hit in my household—a batch of twelve barely lasts twelve minutes out of the oven. Even the neighbor kids devour these little bad boys, asking for seconds and thirds. This is a good sign when it comes to gluten-free baked goods around here. A real good sign. 

Pumpkin Buckwheat Muffins (Gluten and Dairy Free) 

Makes 12 muffins


Wet Ingredients = Large Mixing Bowl
3 large eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (this is half of a 14oz can)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Dry Ingredients = Small Mixing Bowl
1 1/2 cups sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

The Preparation Method:

Crack 3 eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk well. Add 1/2 cup canola oil and whisk to combine. Add the remaining 'wet' ingredients from the list above.

Whisk well to combine.

In a small mixing bowl combine all the ingredients from the 'dry' list above. Whisk well to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

Do not whisk well to combine. Lightly fold the ingredients together until the wet has wetted all the dry. Do not stir too much. This will cause your muffins to turn out tough. Nobody likes a tough muffin. A tough cookie, maybe, but not a tough muffin.

Once the dry ingredients are lightly folded into the wet, it's time to place them into your muffin wrappers.

Place muffins in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake 15-20 minutes until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Be careful not to bake too long. This too will result in a tough muffin.

Remove from the oven and place immediately on a rack to cool. Try your darndest to let them sit for five minutes before devouring.

Bring them to kiddie Halloween parties. Bring them to neighborhood pot-lucks. Bring them to your office and hide them in the corner of your desk. This way they might last longer than twelve minutes. No one will know but you. The little people might start questioning you with that heavenly smell coming out of the kitchen, but I'm certain you'll find a way to explain that away. Pumpkin muffins? What pumpkin muffins?


Here's a somewhat Halloweenish video to get you groovin' while you bake.

Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

Monday, October 10, 2011

Simple Joy ~ Brothers

As the kids grow older, I've stood witness to some pretty sweet brotherly moments between my oldest boy child and youngest boy child.

This morning's sweetness may find itself in the top five of all time.

The gesture was simple. And so innocent. And so full of lovey-dovey joy. It made me smile.

{Spoken with a British accent.} "Look who doth awaken?" saith the first-born to his junior. "Come hither to your elder brother for an early morning huggy." 

Granted, these weren't the exact words my 7-year-old used—but close.

The growing love between these two brothers is magical to take-in. I revel in the simple joy of their special moment today. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Get Out There and Have Fun

Garage Sale Rules of Engagement

Rule #4: Get Out There and Have Fun

There is nothing better than garage sale-ing in the fall. 

Those crisp sunny mornings with leaves swirling all about my feet... 
The colors on the trees in the early-dawn light... 
The way a warm cup of chai feels in the palm of my hands... 
Ahhhhh. Heaven to me.

Garage Sale Rule of Engagement #3 talked about not bringing home sh*t you don't need. But just because you're not going to buy everything you see doesn't mean you should restrain yourself from going at all. You never know what treasures await you. 

Tangible treasures can be hard to find sometimes. However, for those of us who have been garage sale-ing all our lives, it's clear that the real treasure lies in something slightly less tangible. 

The adventure. The mystery. The suspense. The laughter.

Whether you're actually on the lookout for something you need or not, hitting the pavement with family and friends is guaranteed to be an entertaining outing. 

Who knows? You may set your eyes on an artifact from your mother's kitchen you haven't seen in 30 years, like this penguin ice bucket. Or you may discover a well-kept stash of Multiples clothing your neighbor has been preserving for the last 20 years. And if you find nothing beyond silly dress up items that your children put on to act goofy with, than the morning has been a success. Half the point of the outing is the adventure of it all. 

Laughing with Bubba while he tries his darndest to make those miniature John Lennon glasses fit his baby face is worth every minute of the morning away from home.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bacon Tossed with Spaghetti and Kale

Fall is here. In my house, that means bacon season has arrived. Every girl needs a good regular offering of bacon throughout these cold months to get her through. The first day of fall is my cue to start gettin' it on.

This week I crafted one of my favorite bacon dinners, Bacon Tossed with Spaghetti and Kale. I promised myself and my family that I would start cooking with more dark leafy green vegetables. It's amazing how infrequently we eat dark leafy greens unless I really put the effort forth to get them on the table. Funny how things work.

The kale has been looking luscious at the store lately so I though I'd start there. Partially afraid of this remarkable vegetable, I decided to do what I know best to make anything and everything yummy—fry it in bacon grease.

Here goes...

Bacon Tossed with Spaghetti and Kale

16 oz spaghetti noodles (we use gluten-free Tinkayada, but use whatever you like best)
2 TBS olive oil
12 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped (12 slices is just a starting place, use more if so inclined)
2 TBS minced garlic
30 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 head kale (approx. 8 cups), washed and torn away from stem

The Preparation Method:

In a large frying pan, fry up all of the bacon 'til crispy. When done, line a plate with a paper towel and set bacon aside to cool.

When cool, chop all the bacon into one inch pieces. Set aside.

Drain most of the bacon grease from the pan. But be sure to reserve a little bit for the next step. Reserve as much as you'd like. I like to keep at least three tablespoons worth. And don't worry about all that fried on bacony goodness. It comes in handy later for flavor.

Grab the bunch of kale. Give it a thorough wash and tear it into pieces away from the stem.

Prep all of the ingredients and have them ready stove-side. The next few steps happen quickly.

Over medium-high heat, add 2 TBS minced garlic and 1 cup of chopped bacon to the reserved bacon grease. Saute 1 minute until garlic is fragrant but not brown.

Add the whole head of torn apart kale.

Continue to saute over medium-high heat about 4 minutes, or until kale is wilted.

Add 30 oz can of diced tomatoes. Heat through.

Lube the past up with a small pour of olive oil so it's just a little bit slippery.

Take half of the tomato, bacon and kale sauce and mix it into the spaghetti.

Add the remaining half of the sauce and lay it on top. Add the remaining bacon pieces as a garnish on top. Enjoy!

Ye-ah, Jason Aldean! Gotta love this country music.

Jason Aldean - Tattoos On This Town

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