Monthly Archives: April 2014

Star Wars cookies.

I usually get a little chunk of time with just Kaylie while Wil naps in the morning.  So the other day, I thought it would be fun to bake cookies!

Cookie time!

Cookie time!

Of course, we cheated and used the store-bought dough.  (Wil’s naps aren’t very long sometimes!  I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time for cutting out and decorating them.  Plus, I’m lazy. 😉 )

These ARE the cookies cutters you're looking for.

These ARE the cookies cutters you’re looking for.

It was a great opportunity to break out the Star Wars cookie cutters my family got me for Christmas!  (Here’s where you can purchase the characters set and the ships set.)

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Kaylie helped cut out the shapes.  I let her pick which one to use each time.

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She used every single one.  When you ask her what her favorite anything is these days, she almost always answers “All of them!”  Same here.

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Playing with the flour was her favorite part, though.  That, and getting to stand on the chair (she’s a little short for a Stormtrooper).

Before baking.

Before baking.

Here they are before we baked them!

After baking.......I find your lack of shape disturbing.

After baking…….I find your lack of shape disturbing.

They didn’t retain their shape so well.  Oh well…..that wasn’t really the point, anyway. 🙂

Mommy let me hold the icing!

“Mommy let me hold the icing!”

Now for the fun part: DECORATING!!  I gave each a coat of vanilla icing before letting Kaylie help draw on it with the green icing.

Chocolate chips!

Chocolate chips!

Then came her favorite part: I gave her a bowl of dark chocolate, white chocolate, and caramel chips, and told her she could put six on each cookie.

I'm gonna eat this one, Mom.

“I’m gonna eat this one, Mom.”

After decorating the first cookie, she asked if she could eat one of the chips, and I said yes.  Then she assumed that was the rule for every cookie….place six, eat one.  She was just so cute that I let her (I think she Jedi mind-tricked me!).

"What's in your mouth, Kaylie?"

“What’s in your mouth, Kaylie?”

See the cuteness?  The Force is strong with this one.

Finished!

Finished!

A couple of them broke, so we only iced eight of them.  You can tell she got tired of helping with the green icing before the end, hence the faces on Yoda and Darth Vader and my attempt to re-draw the TIE bomber.  (I liked her chip placement on Yoda, though.  That was all her.  Not sure why he ended up with a third eye on his forehead, though….)

Done with her cookies!

“Kaylie, smile!”  The three-year-old version of smiling is hilarious.

I made her wait to eat one, though, until after lunch.

"Mommy, help me make a Dalek!"

“Mommy, help me make a Dalek!”

We had some time to kill before lunch, so Kaylie asked me to help her make a Dalek out of the stacking cups (no, I’m not kidding–that’s what she calls it).

Our kid-toy versions of a Dalek and TARDIS.

Our kid-toy versions of a Dalek and TARDIS.

Then I made a Duplo TARDIS.

Finally getting to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

Finally getting to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I finally let her eat a whole cookie after lunch.  She picked Darth Vader.

Gouging out Vader's eyes.  She's too badass to need a lightsaber....she'll just take him out with her bare hands.

Gouging out Vader’s eyes. She’s too badass to need a lightsaber….she’ll just take him out with her bare hands.

She mutilated that thing before ever picking it up to take a bite!

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Darth Vader didn’t stand a chance.

"Would you like a bite, Mommy?"  (Mommy ate the TIE bomber.)

“Would you like a bite, Mommy?” (Mommy ate the TIE bomber.)

It was a very fun morning, even if our cookies did not end up looking quite like they were supposed to.  That’s one of the perks of doing things with a three-year-old; just about anything can be salvaged and it’s just as fun!  She had an absolute blast (and I got the opportunity to reinforce that Star Wars equals “fun”!).  I had such a good time with my little Padawan!

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Dinosaur Meat (or, Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes).

The year my husband and I got engaged, we flew to California to spend Christmas vacation with his immediate and extended family.  It was the first time he’d brought me home, and I got lots of stories from his childhood.  One of my favorites was that when he was young, he believed for years (the first time my mother-in-law told the story, I think it was until he was ten; he gets older every time she tells it! 😉 ) that this particular meal was made of actual dinosaur meat.  (He defends his younger self by reasoning that he’d heard of mammoths and such being found relatively intact, preserved in ice.  Why not dinosaurs, too?  And why wouldn’t they sell the meat to grocery stores?  Why would parents lie about such a thing?  Aw, he was so trusting.)

So, we call this meal “Dinosaur Meat” in our house.  (It’s actually corned beef and cabbage with potatoes.)

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes.

We make it every year for St. Patrick’s Day, and a couple other times just for fun.  It’s an easy crockpot meal, and it smells soooo gooooood.

Seriously.  Half the time, I make it just so I can smell it cooking all day.  I don’t actually like corned beef (super picky eater here; I make this one for the hubby), but I love the way it smells.  So. Good.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients.

Ingredients.

  • Slab of corned beef, with seasoning (mine was a little over two and a half pounds)
  • Head of cabbage
  • 6-8 red potatoes

And, of course, you’ll need a crockpot.  And I like to use these slow cooker liners to cut down on clean-up, but–fair warning–they end up leaking once every three or four times I use them.  Like this time.  Which is why the first half of the pictures show a liner, and the second half don’t (it leaked so badly this time that I just pulled the liner out from under the cooking meat).  But they do help the other sixty-six to seventy-five percent of the time….

Quarter potatoes.

Quarter potatoes.

First, wash and quarter the red potatoes.

I am the master of making things fit.  (You should see me pack a suitcase.)

I am the master of making things fit. (You should see me pack a suitcase.)

Begin arranging potatoes in the crockpot.

Of course you can just dump the meat and potatoes in the crockpot any which way, but I prefer to fit as much in there as is physically possible.  I always arrange a ring of potatoes around the bottom before I put the meat in.

Add meat.

Add meat.

Add the meat.  (See how nicely those potatoes cradle the meat?  No wasted space!)

Add rest of potatoes.

Add rest of potatoes.

Add the rest of the potatoes.

This is why we buy corned beef.

This is why we buy corned beef.

This is the packet of seasoning included with store-bought corned beef.  This is what makes it smell so heavenly.

Sprinkle seasoning.

Sprinkle seasoning.

Sprinkle the seasoning over the meat and potatoes.

Cover with water.

Cover with water.

Add enough water to fully cover the meat and potatoes.

Turn it on.....this is an important step.

Turn it on…..this is an important step.

Cook it on high for 6-8 hours.  You’ll want to flip the meat over every once in a while, but otherwise, just sit back and enjoy that wonderful smell wafting through your house.  (I don’t even know what it is in that packet that makes it smell so good….it just does…..mmmmmm……)

When you get to 1-2 hours from the end…

Eighth cabbage.  Quarter, then halve?  Halve, halve, halve?  Whatever, you want eight chunks.

Eighth cabbage. Quarter, then halve? Halve, halve, halve? Whatever, I like it in eight chunks.

…wash and cut your cabbage to add.  I like to cut it into eight chunks; it fits better into the crockpot that way, and the pieces are more manageable.

Add cabbage.

Add cabbage.

Add the cabbage to the crockpot.  Add more water as necessary.

Hey, where'd that liner go?  Did you even notice?

Hey, where’d that liner go? Did you even notice?

I check it every so often to make sure it’s all mostly submerged, and stir it around a bit to cook more evenly.

Done!

Done!

The potatoes and cabbage will be nice and soft by the time it’s done, and the meat should be fairly easy to pull apart.

Please ignore the dirty dishes on the counter.  (I have children.  We make memories.)

Please ignore the dirty dishes on the counter. (I have children. We make memories.)

I make my husband handle the corned beef, because I don’t like meat.  He fishes it out of the crockpot and uses forks to shred it in a bowl or in the container we’ll put the leftovers in.

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…and he samples it repeatedly, until I forcibly pry the forks from his fingers and push him away from the counter so I can take another picture before dishing our servings.

Shredded.

Shredded.

He claims that the larger grain of the meat was one of the reasons he believed his parents about it being dinosaur meat.  Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

Dinosaur meat!  And some other stuff.

Dinosaur meat! And some other stuff.

We told Kaylie, our three-year-old, we were pretending it was dinosaur meat, and then somehow the cabbage got renamed “alien brains”, too, so now this meal is just really weird.  (Any suggestions on what we should call the potatoes?)

Dinosaur meat, alien brains, and potatoes.  One of these things is not like the others...

Dinosaur meat, alien brains, and potatoes. One of these things is not like the others…

For your cut-and-paste convenience:

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes

  • 1 slab corned beef, with seasoning packet
  • 1 head cabbage, quartered
  • 6-8 red potatoes, quartered
  1. Arrange meat, seasoning, and potatoes in crockpot.  Cover with water.
  2. Cook on high for 6-8 hours.
  3. Add cabbage for last 1-2 hours of cook time.

And that’s how we make dinosaur meat!  Enjoy. 🙂


Mr. Carson, please keep your pants on.

I’ve been bingeing on “Downtown Abbey” since I borrowed seasons 1-3 from my mother-in-law a few weeks ago (I’m on the final episode of season three).  And then, tonight, my husband told me he had to introduce me to this “creepy” movie he’d watched as a child: The Witches.  (The Witches is this weird, yes-very-creepy-for-children movie based on one of the few Roald Dahl books I guess I never read.)

So, we’re watching this bizarre movie, where bald and toe-less old women worship Angelica Huston after she pulls her face off and children who can’t act get turned into mice, and then the grandmother of one of the mice-slash-children takes him into the kitchen to poison the witches’ soup, and I jumped off the couch to pause and rewind because MR. CARSON!  Dignified, decorous, polite, and proper Mr. Carson was certainly wandering the kitchen of this ridiculous movie, and THEN the mouse went up his PANTS and OHMIGOODNESS, MR. CARSON, PLEASE KEEP YOUR PANTS ON….(He did NOT keep his pants on.)

We were most distressingly treated to the sight of Mr. Carson not only dancing about and ripping his pants off, but also rolling around on the floor, clutching his *ahem* boxers in a most unseemly manner, screaming and whimpering by turns all the while.  It was most certainly not becoming of “the house”.

I will never watch “Downton” the same way again.


Frozen Pineapple Cranberry Bites.

Summer’s coming!  At least, I think it is….so this seems like a good time to introduce you to a great summer snack!

Frozen pineapple cranberry bites: three ingredients.

Frozen pineapple cranberry bites: three ingredients.

This one’s super easy, folks.  Just three ingredients:

Three ingredients: crushed pineapple, whole cranberry sauce, and vanilla yogurt.

Three ingredients: crushed pineapple, whole cranberry sauce, and vanilla yogurt.

  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 14 oz can whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
Dump.

Dump.

Dump all the ingredients into a large bowl.

Mix.

Mix.

Stir to mix.

Spoon into mold.

Spoon into mold.

Spoon into a freezable tray (I use my silicon mini-muffin trays).

Freeze.

Freeze.

Pop ’em in the freezer for a while.

Done!

Done!

Aaaaaand, they’re done.

See?  Super easy.

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I pop all of mine out of the tray and store them in the freezer in an airtight container, with foil between each layer.  Whatever doesn’t fit in that gets tossed into a freezer bag; they stick together a little that way, but it’s not too bad.

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It’s better than sugary popsicles on all those hot days coming up, right?  (They are coming, right?)

Fun with shapes!

Fun with shapes!

There’s always too much for just two trays, and I’m never in the mood to freeze them in batches, so I used one of my Christmas trays for the remainder.

Snowflakes!

Snowflakes!

These snacks hold their shape pretty well!  At least until they start melting…

Cooooooold!

Cooooooold!

I think it’s been about a year since I last made these for Kaylie; she was a bit taken aback by how cold they were!

And for your cut-and-paste convenience:

Frozen Pineapple-Cranberry Bites

  • 1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 can (14 oz) whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
  2. Pour into freezable tray (e.g., silicon muffin tray).
  3. Freeze at least 3 hours.

Now, all we need is some warmer weather! 🙂


Board book review: My personal favorites.

I spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book.

We have pictures of me reading on every family vacation we ever took.  At home, my parents had to institute a no-more-than-three-books-at-a-time rule, because they were tired of finding my half-finished books scattered all over the house (and I really was reading all of them–I could tell you off the top of my head what page I was on in each one).  I walked into so many walls and doorways and pieces of furniture and occasionally people because I was too busy reading to watch where I was going.  And I blame my reading-in-the-car habit for my complete and utter lack of any sense of direction, because I never once paid any attention to where we were driving.

I loved reading.  (And still do.)  It shaped who I am.  It shaped how I view the world.  It granted me the opportunity to visit places I’ll never see and worlds that never existed, introduced me to ideas I’d never had, enabled me to communicate with words I’d never heard aloud, and gave me the ability to put myself in someone else’s shoes.  Reading is important.

I really want my kids to love books.  So we read with them.  (Less so with Wil than we did/do with Kaylie…..he’s harder to keep still, and it’s busier having two than it was when we just had her!)

As every parent knows, when kids find something they like, they want it over and over and over.  Whether it’s a book, movie, or game, if it’s their favorite of the day/week/month, they’ll want it a thousand times in a row.  So, while I’m glad Kaylie goes through phases of loving specific books and stories, there are times that certain ones make me want to rip my hair out, because they’re dull or poorly written or factually incorrect or just aggravatingly stupid.  But there are some that I’ve come to absolutely love.  So here are my four all-time favorite board books.

My four favorite board books.

My four favorite board books.

These are in no particular order.  I love them all for different reasons.

To start with, a classic:

Harry the Dirty Dog.

Harry the Dirty Dog.

Harry the Dirty Dog, written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham.

Harry the Dirty Dog.

Harry the Dirty Dog.

Harry the Dirty Dog follows a white dog with black spots who does not like taking a bath.  So he runs away from home one day, gets very dirty playing (so much so that he becomes a black dog with white spots), and then realizes he misses home.

(The above is probably my favorite page, because, at one and a half, Kaylie mistook that blue truck for the TARDIS.  So. Cute.)

Harry the Dirty Dog.

Harry the Dirty Dog.

He returns home, but he’s so dirty that his family doesn’t recognize him–until he begs for a bath, at which point they’re super excited to see him again.

I like that this book tells a coherent story, and that it’s sweet and makes sense.  (I could write another list of books with stories that make no sense whatsoever.)  The ratio of words per page/illustration is a little high for younger kids, who like to turn pages quickly, but once your toddler can follow a story, it reads at a good pace that doesn’t require much patience from your little one.  And, bonus: I think it’s British, since the kids call their mom “Mummy”. 🙂

Harry the Dirty Dog can be purchased as a board book here.  (Apparently, there’s a whole Harry series, which I did not realize…..we may be buying more of these!)

Next up:

Flip, Flap, Fly.

Flip, Flap, Fly.

Flip, Flap, Fly, written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by David Walker.

Flip, Flap, Fly.

Flip, Flap, Fly.

This one was gifted to Kaylie by some dear friends.  It’s a simple story that showcases six baby animals as their mothers help them along.

Flip, Flap, Fly.

Flip, Flap, Fly.

This is my favorite page.  My daughter is very independent, and is not by nature very affectionate.  For a long time, literally the only time she would give me a kiss was when we’d reach this page: she’d turn her head up toward me so we could “kiss like this”.  Seriously, there were days we read this just so I could get a kiss from her!

This is a rhyming book.  There are a lot of rhyming books that I HATE, because they are “off”–too many syllables in a line, or emphasis in the wrong place, or words that DON’T ACTUALLY RHYME.  But this book is not one of those.  I love it.  The phrases are euphonous, the cadence is good, and the silly words are not too silly.  It is a very easy read, the pace is good for little ones, and the illustrations of baby animals are quite cute.  I also like that each page sets up a rhyme for the next animal (blah blah blah muck, blah blah blah…[turn page] duck!), and you can see the tail of the next animal in the illustration, so it encourages engagement from your child.

Flip, Flap, Fly can be purchased as a board book here.

Next:

Pride & Prejudice: A Counting Primer.

Pride & Prejudice: A Counting Primer.

Pride & Prejudice: A Counting Primer, written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver.

Pride & Prejudice: A Counting Primer.

Pride & Prejudice: A Counting Primer.

Numbers 2 through 5 are the most creative, using characters and places unique to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; the rest are a little less interesting, though still relevant (soldiers, musicians, etc.).  Very cute idea!

I love finding ways to introduce things I love to my daughter, even though she’s still too young for the real thing.  I bought this book more for me than for her, though; while the numbers are easily recognizable for a kid, not all of the illustrations are arranged in such a way as to be easily countable by a youngster without help.  Still, the artwork is adorable, and it’s Pride and Prejudiceevery little girl needs to learn who Mr. Darcy is!

Pride & Prejudice: A Counting Primer can be purchased as a board book here and here.  There are also Jane Eyre and Romeo & Juliet counting primers by the author/artist (but I hate the originals those stories–those are not characters I want as role models for my daughter), and they’ve released quite a few other “BabyLit” books that were not available back when I bought ours (though the Alice in Wonderland: A Colors Primer was, and I’d recommend looking at that one  in person first, as the illustrations, while cute, do not use traditional colors (e.g., teal for blue)….which seems odd for a “colors primer”), so if Pride and Prejudice isn’t your thing but other classic literature is, I’d encourage you to check them out!

And last:

Star Wars ABC.

Star Wars ABC.

You saw this coming, right?  Of course something geeky had to make my list….and we love this Star Wars ABC book!

Star Wars ABC.

Star Wars ABC.

Each page features a character/ship/race/droid/etc. from the Star Wars movies (original and prequel trilogies) and a brief alliterative sentence that uses the letter again in at least one other word.  The pages are a combination of matte and glossy, so young kids may be fascinated by the difference in texture.

Star Wars ABC.

Star Wars ABC.

Kaylie’s favorite page for a long time was the Wookiee page.

I love that this book is a great way to introduce elements of the Star Wars universe to kids before they are old enough to handle the movies (Kaylie loves Wookiees now, though she’s never seen Chewie in action!), while also teaching the alphabet–something that every kid needs to learn and you should at least have one book for anyway.  You don’t have to be super into Star Wars to recognize most of the things–the only two I was unfamiliar with were IG-88 and Ugnaughts, and I haven’t seen the movies in years (unfortunately).  This book does a good job of sticking with the iconic heroes, villains, and spaceships that we all know and love, as much as it can, so there’s room for you to explain more about each page’s example as your kid becomes more inquisitive.

Star Wars ABC.

Star Wars ABC.

I also love that each letter looks like what it stands for–a hairy W for Wookiee, lightsaber A and J for Anakin and Jedi, a shiny gold C for C-3PO, a belt and holster on H for Han Solo….And all the letters are reprinted on the back of the book, so you and your little one can go back through the alphabet quickly in review.  (When Kaylie was learning the ABC song, this is what we used to point at each letter as we sang it.)

Star Wars ABC can be purchased here and here.

So, there you have it!  My four favorite board books to read with my kids–I hope I’ve introduced you to something new to try.

My four favorite board books.

My four favorite board books.

Now, go read a book! 🙂


Birthday tricycle.

Kaylie’s third birthday was this week!  I can’t believe she’s already three!

I asked her a few days ago what she’d like to eat on her birthday.  She immediately replied that she wanted cupcakes, monkey bread, and veggie pasta.

Monkey bread!

Monkey bread!

So we started the day with monkey bread!

Making cupcakes.

Making cupcakes.

Once Wil went down for his morning nap, Kaylie helped me make cupcakes.  (Kaylie loves to help me stir the batter, and place the liners in the cupcake trays.  Such a good helper!)

"Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

While the cupcakes baked, we played a rousing round of “fifty-card-two pick-up” (with Kaylie’s three decks of cards), which was followed by helping her dinosaurs play hide-and-seek.

"Mine is an evil laugh--now, DIE!"

“Mine is an evil laugh–now, DIE!”

The tyrannosaurus rex has been named “Rex” since she got it, I think because of Toy Story.  The previously-unnamed stegosaurus was christened “Cupcake” (gee, I wonder why?).  Cupcake would hide under all of the cards, and Rex would come to find him.

Lunch was, at her request, ABC Spaghetti-Os with meatballs.  And dinner was her favorite–veggie pasta with Parmesan (along with green beans with almonds–I gave her a few choices for a vegetable to go with dinner).  And after dinner, we all headed outside for her biggest present of the day:

Her very own tricycle!

Her very own tricycle!

We gave her a dress-up box a week and a half ago, so we could celebrate early while her grandma was visiting, but this was her other “big” present this year.  She’s been talking about tricycles for months, and she sings a song about riding a tricycle that she learned from Elmo on “Sesame Street” all the time, so Casey and I were super pumped to get this for her.

"Why does Mommy have a camera?"

“Why does Mommy have a camera?”

I waited outside with Wil and the tricycle, juggling both cameras so we’d get pictures and video of the moment.  Of course, the first thing she said as she came out the door was “Why does Mommy have a camera?”  It took her a few more seconds to notice the tricycle!

"What's that?"

“What’s that?”

Her reactions are always subdued.  She’s not one for exclamations or jumping for excitement (though she loves jumping for its own sake).

"It's a tricycle!"

“It’s a tricycle!”

With her, you see it in the eyes.  They just light up as it sinks in.  It’s like we have to tell her something good a few times before she believes it, and then she starts smiling.

IMG_9419

By the time we strapped on her helmet, she’d begun smiling and repeating, “It’s a tricycle for Kaylie!”

IMG_9422

I think she started singing Elmo’s “Riding a tricycle, all the day long” as soon as her bottom hit the seat….

IMG_9436

We didn’t make it very far–just to the end of our driveway.  She loved the little bell on the handlebars!

IMG_9438

Wed tried to get her to start pedaling on her own, but she kept getting off to stare at and admire her new tricycle, so she didn’t make much progress there.  But that’s okay; it’s hers now, so we’ll have plenty of time to practice!

IMG_9443

I think this one was a hit! 🙂

 

 


Pesto Cream Pasta.

Confession: When it comes to cooking, I like to cheat.

There are some things that are better made from scratch (like pizza dough), but if I can take a shortcut by using something pre-made, or dried instead of fresh (I killed all my herb plants), I tend to do it.  It’s easier, and often cheaper, and those are things I value more highly than making a dish taste marginally better by sticking to a complicated or labor-intensive recipe.

I still remember the day I discovered The Pioneer Woman.  I was still in the “PIN ALL THE THINGS!!” phase of my Pinterest relationship, and I admit I went a little nuts.  I even went so far as to print off several pages of cut-and-paste recipes gleaned from her website, some of which I managed to maintain the momentum to actually try within the week.  One of those was her Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce.

Pesto Cream Pasta.

Pesto Cream Pasta.

I love pasta alfredo, but my hubby finds it too plain, so the pesto in this dish gives it that extra kick of flavor.

I’m sure it’s better her way.  But making pesto from scratch?  Fresh basil is pricey, and homegrown, in my house, is, well, dead.  (Seriously.  Black thumb here.)  And pine nuts?  I think that was the deciding factor in going with jarred pesto instead of attempting to make it myself, because I have no idea what aisle the pine nuts are in at the grocery store.  (And I really am lazy enough for that to scare me away.)  So I cheated.

I’m glad I did.  Simpler works better for me, and this dish is still really good.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients.

Ingredients.

  • 8-12 oz pasta (we like veggie pasta)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp jarred pesto

IMG_9238

Cook pasta according to package directions.  (I went with about 8 0z this night–for me, the amount depends on whether this is the main course or a side.)

Most things that start with butter and heavy cream end well.

Most things that start with butter and heavy cream end well.

While the pasta cooks, heat the butter and heavy cream over medium-low heat.

IMG_9235

(I get so bored waiting for things to melt or boil.  Not a patient person.)

IMG_9239

Once the butter has melted, add the pesto and parmesan.

IMG_9242

Stir to mix.

IMG_9247

When the pasta’s done…

IMG_9248

…drain it.

You know how when you make a sauce, and then pour it over something, there’s always quite a bit remaining, clinging to the sides and bottom of the saucepan and refusing to drip out at a reasonable rate?  (Again, not a patient person.)  There are two ways around this: either dump the pasta into the sauce (instead of the sauce onto the pasta), or…

IMG_9252

Dump two-thirds of the pasta back into the pot it cooked in (or into a serving dish), and pour the sauce over it.  Dump the remaining third of pasta into the sauce pot, stir to coat…

IMG_9255

…add it to the rest of the pasta and sauce.   No sauce wasted!

Pouring the pasta into the sauce is simpler, but I always end up cooking the pasta in the bigger saucepan and the sauce in the smaller one, and I’ve learned the messy way that there is not room to stir the pasta and sauce in the small one.

IMG_9256

And there you go!  Easy pasta, but not alfredo-boring.  I love it!

And for your cut-and-paste convenience:

Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

  • 8-12 oz pasta
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp jarred pesto
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. Heat cream and butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat.
  3. Add pesto and parmesan; stir.
  4. Toss pasta in pesto cream sauce.

Enjoy!  (And if you have time to try it the “real” way, I’d love to hear from you how they compare!)

 


“I don’t want to be a princess. I want to be a pirate.”

It’s something of a tradition among the women of my husband’s side of the family: little girls get a dress-up box on their third birthday.  My mother-in-law suggested it to me ages ago (I don’t remember if I was even pregnant yet at the time), and, as I thoroughly enjoyed playing dress-up as a child, I loved the idea.  So I’d been keeping an eye out for thrift store finds and post-Halloween sales for quite some time, and both my mother and mother-in-law made considerable contributions as my daughter’s third birthday neared.

Kaylie’s birthday is still a week away, but my mother-in-law, who is a teacher on the other side of the country, visited us last week on her spring break.  It seemed a good opportunity to celebrate a little early, so she could give Kaylie her contributions in person, so we planned a pre-birthday–complete with cupcakes–for this past Saturday.

PRESENTS!!!!

PRESENTS!!!!

She was, as any child her age would be, very excited to open presents!

I thought she’d also be excited at all the new stuff inside.

Flipping through the contents.

Flipping through the contents.

NOPE.

She opened and quickly discarded a set of fairy wings from Grandma Carol, and then started on the first of three wrapped boxes.  She opened mine first, and, in record time, emptied it by fistfuls, ignoring my attempts to interest in her individual items.  “Kaylie, look!  It’s a ____!  Would you like to try it on?”  “No, no, no!”  And she moved on to the next box.

This pin-on flower was the first thing she expressed an interest in.

This pin-on flower was the first thing she expressed an interest in.

Dresses, scarves, tutus, boas, hats, skirts, shawls, and more, and every time, “No, no, I don’t want to!”

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Until this little pin-on flower.  Finally, we got a “Wear it, please?”

Stinker.

Stinker.

Of course, she wanted it right off again within a minute.

A fan!

A fan!

And she liked this feathery fan.

I can do it myself!

I can do it myself!

Not wearable, but at least she didn’t toss it aside.

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In the end, this cowgirl hat was the only thing we could get her to wear.  She LOVES all the Toy Story movies, so she’s a big fan of cowgirls and cowboys (like Jessie and Woody).

Cowgirl Kaylie.

Cowgirl Kaylie.

She fetched her horse, Rody (of whom she always says, “His name is Rody, but I call him Bullseye”) and rode around the living room for a while.

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Our little cowgirl.

How we do birthdays with family long-distance.

How we do birthdays with family long-distance.

She did eventually get off the horse to put on every single necklace she got in this haul along with what she already had.

(And this, by the way, is how we do birthdays with both sets of grandparents living across the country from us–Skyping on multiple mobile devices.  What a world our kids are growing up in!)

So, my daughter has a dress-up box overflowing with princess dresses, tutus, fairy wings, and sparkly magic wands….and, in the days since, it has been like pulling teeth to get her try on anything but the cowgirl hat, the only things she has asked to dress up as are a cowgirl and a pirate (which we don’t have costumes for), and she uses one of the wands primarily as a “bat” to whack a ball around on the floor.

Disappointment and pride have warred in my soul these past few days.

On the one hand, we acquired all this adorable girly dress-up stuff that I would have loved wearing as a kid.  I especially love the princess dresses–and, in our defense, Kaylie did ask just two weeks ago to dress like a princess!  (She had just met a girl in our neighborhood who was dressed as Cinderella.)  So I’m disappointed that this gift that I’ve been putting together for literally months was such a flop…..

But I’m also the mom who dressed her as a pirate for Halloween when she was one and too young to give her own input, mostly so I could dress like a pirate and take her trick-or-treating–and then let her re-wear the costume the next year, because she asked to.  I’m the mom who has been stockpiling classic My Little Pony toys from garage sales and giving them to her at birthdays and Christmas in the hope that she’ll love horses like I do, and now sits through the 1986 MLP movie because she likes it better than the new series (I grew up on it; it has a special place in my heart; but after 50 viewings, it gets a little rough).  I’m the mom who has swordfights with her, makes toddler armor out of empty toilet paper tubes, and crawls around on all fours to give her horsey-back rides.  So when my little girl takes one look at a boxful of girly princess-y things* and says, “I don’t want to be a princess–I want to be a pirate!”, I can’t help but feel proud of her.  She’s being her own person, and I love it.

It helps that I love pirates and cowgirls, too.  I also like princesses.  I hope I do a good job teaching her that she can love both…but that she also doesn’t have to love either.  There’s all this discussion going on these days on gender assumptions and expectations, and the only extent to which I wish to weigh in on that is that it’s perfectly okay to like girly things, it’s perfectly okay to not like girly things, and it’s perfectly okay to like boyish things.

It’s also okay that she was more excited about the wonders of Scotch tape, and wanted to play with the pieces instead of unwrapping the rest of the first present.  She’s two.  Well, almost three, but still.  The point is, kids will like what they like, and that is okay.

Anyway, I did manage to talk her into trying on one of the princess dresses yesterday.

Angel princess!

Angel princess!

She actually wanted the angel wings and halo to go with it!  Progress!

(If it seems like I’m pushing her, you should know: Kaylie is often extremely reluctant to try new things.  We have to push.  If she doesn’t want to do it again, that’s fine; but half the things she loves to do, we had to make her do the first time.)

"I'm Jessie!"

“I’m Jessie!”

I convinced her to try on the Merida wig by reminding her that Jessie (from Toy Story 2 & 3) has red hair under her cowgirl hat.

Admiring herself.

Admiring herself in her new mirror.

Of course, while I am confident that she will come to enjoy dressing up in the clothes she now has (if we can just get her to try it a few times–that’s typical Kaylie for you), I also want to encourage her to dress up as she wants to dress up.  So last night, after much fruitless online shopping, I dug up the Halloween costume she’d worn the last two years (it’s a little small now, but the other pirate costume I’d already bought for her is still way too big), and I found pair of cowgirl boots I bought ages ago that are still a couple sizes too big.

"I'm a cowgirl!"

“I’m a cowgirl!”

She LOVES the cowgirl boots!  I couldn’t find an affordable cowgirl or cowboy costume online, so now I’m brainstorming how to make her dress-up chaps or something.

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Really, the hat and the boots are what make the outfit, anyway.

And this morning, as soon as she got up, she asked to dress up like a pirate.  So we went straight from pajamas to this:

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That’s my girl!  My stubborn, independent, contrary girl. 🙂  Gosh, I love her.

*Just to clarify: There were actually a couple of “boy” outfit pieces in the box, too; just not, apparently, ones she was interested in.  (And she’s had a set of fairy wings with a matching tutu since Christmas that she regularly wears around the house, so getting her more girly things didn’t seem unreasonable!)