Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chard Pizza, and Other Eats

Sawyer will eat anything. And I mean ANYTHING. Food or non-food. It's actually kind of a problem. He is great at the table, I mean, this is a kid who was eating pizza before he had teeth (?). But out in the yard he's a real nuisance. His outdoor tastes include dirt, bark chips, rocks, flowers, chicken poop... I could go on, but my stomach is turning just thinking about all of the yucky things he's put into his mouth. Let's just say that it's a BIG NO-NO in our house to leave the toilet open when he's around. Um, yeah, I'll spare you the details...

But he sure is cute when he's being all calm and thoughtful and stuff.

So, what do you do when you have a kid who eats everything? I guess you build an all-you-can-eat sand buffet in your backyard.

I think this picture pretty much sums up Brent's feelings about the backyard. It's just one big project after another around here.

These boys do love their new sandbox- nice work, Dad! Sawyer thinks this sand variety is particularly palatable.

(Somebody fix that baby's diaper already!)

Jack is developing some interest in playing music. You can go ahead and laugh as I tell you that he seems to be pretty good with the harmonica. And the child sized accordion that we own. I'm sure he'll go far with these talents.

Now I want to tell you about my newest love interest: chard. Swiss chard, that is. Years ago, when our garden consisted of a basil plant and a few tomatoes, Brent and I had a CSA. It was kind of cool- fresh, organic and local veggies delivered to us once a week. But some of the stuff went to waste. I just couldn't figure out a use for so much fennel. And then there was the chard. Soooo much chard. I mean what the heck? No matter what I did with it, it tasted terrible. And the name- chard- it sounds totally disgusting. Why would anyone eat that stuff voluntarily? It made a nice addition to the compost that year.

But now that Brent is working for Lost Creek Farm, he's been coming home with stories about people who actually seek out the stuff, like, obsessively. As in, they always run out of chard because people just snatch that stuff up. And turns out it's some "super food" that will prevent cancer and make you live forever, or something like that. So we decided to give chard another chance. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you...

Swiss Chard Pizza! It's absolutely delicious, I swear it is! Even Jack (Mr. Picky) ate it with gusto. I loosely followed this recipe and OMG try the crust recipe here. Parchment paper. Who knew?

Brent's trifecta: Swiss chard and salad greens courtesy of LCF. Beer from Hop Valley.

And let's have one last shout out to the chard! Isn't it beautiful?

Sunday, April 25, 2010


A dream has come true: Brent has become a farmer! He took a part time job with Lost Creek Farm working at their stand at the farmers' market and will start delivering for their CSA in June. Soon he'll even be working on the farm, as well. Super exciting! The free organic veggies and starts that he brings home are an added bonus. I'm even learning to love Swiss chard (more on that later).

After a trip to visit Dad at the market stand, the boys raised some heck at Palace Bakery while Brent and I ate an extraordinary pumpkin cookie with maple frosting. I must figure out a way to replicate this.

Ah, the Eugene Saturday Market. Some things never change...

And speaking of farming, we're growing things right in our own backyard. The boys love to dig and help with the garden. Jack is very helpful when it is time to water. Sawyer is less helpful- he mostly eats dirt and rocks, but what can you do..

Sawyer is farming some hair, that's for sure. Baby mullet here we come!

The rhubarb is back for a third year and looking quite promising. The garden is getting a major upgrade this season- photos to come!

Jack is growing some herbs in the kitchen windowsill.

Okay, summer- we are totally ready for you!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Birthday Party

Brent's birthday fell on a sunny Sunday this year so we decided to have a Boy Birthday for all of the male members of the family. We invited a few of the boys' closest buddies and some families from our neighborhood. Sawyer was ready to party in his Willie Nelson t-shirt.

I made this guacamole recipe. It was so easy to make and tasted just right. I love it when that happens. We gobbled it up.

Scott lives down the street. He and Brent share a mutual love for beer and yardwork.

Another neighbor from down the street, Meghann, gave birth to a 10 pound (!!) baby girl just a few hours after she came to our party and I snapped this shot. Welcome to the neighborhood, Baby Eve!

Noah, on his mama Katrina's lap, enjoyed the pinata from afar.

Jack absolutely LOVES Keegan, the son of our friends Dave and Colette. It's been all Keegan all the time ever since this party. He's totally obsessed (Keegan is pretty cool).

Audrey and Auto.

Ava with bubbles.

Lily in pigtails and the chocolate cupcakes.

And finally, the piece de resistance, Sawyer eats a cupcake. 'Cause I just can't seem to get enough photos of this kid stuffing his face.

Good friends. Good food. Good kids. Good times. (Happy Birthday, Brent!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Easter Part 2 and SAWYER!

Oh look, here he is! Our sweet and silly little second child, Sawyer. Sawyer is fearless and while Jack is cautious around the chickens (and rightfully so!), Sawyer chases them around and picks them up and tries to pet them. He loves those birds.

Jack keeps his distance and gets irritated when they interfere with his gardening.

I like the chickens okay. I mean, they are weird little creatures and they are definitely not smart or cuddly like a pet would be. Also, they can be a bit aggressive and I get nervous when they come pecking around while I'm wearing flip flops. But I do so love those fresh eggs. I'll never be able to eat grocery store eggs again.

Keeping chickens is just another way that we can be self-reliant with our food and we feel it's important to know where our meals are coming from. Also, despite the fact that the egg has been vilified for its fat and cholesterol content, when you don't eat a lot of meat, eggs are a great source of protein. So I forgive those chickens for pecking at my toes.

We had Easter dinner with Grandma and Great Grandma. The Easter Bunny had been more generous at their house and the boys got actual baskets. Like I said, he'll really need to get his act together for next year. Jack doesn't forget things easily.

Is there some sort of contest that Sawyer could enter for his stylish baby fashions? The kid's been living in onesies and babylegs for awhile now since we are too lazy to deal with the whole pants over onesies business. He seems to have inherited the dreaded Mitchell No Butt, so the onsie is an essential part of the outfit because it holds the bulky cloth diaper in place. I'm sure he will hate us for this someday.

You know me, I just can't resist a good dessert photo. Mini cupcakes and chocolate dipped strawberries followed our Easter dinner- yum!

Ever since we got Ruby and Hazel as chicks last spring, I have had a harder time eating chicken. I'm okay with it if somebody else has done the cooking, but I just can't seem to bring myself to deal with the flesh myself. It would be one thing if I knew that store bought chicken had been raised humanely, but unfortunately I'm a bit too aware of how meat birds are raised to be able to support that industry in good conscience. Someday we will buy ethically treated chicken meat, but that's not in the budget right now so consequently we have not been eating much meat around here for the past year or so. Brent has really been missing our Chicken Tortilla Soup, so I created a vegetarian version that we've been really digging.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

1 cup black beans
1 cup pinto beans
1 cup corn
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 small can sliced olives
4 cups vegetable broth

Put all ingredients in a pot, cover and let simmer for 0ne hour. Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado slices, sour cream, grated cheese, lime, and crushed tortilla chips.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Easter Part 1

First of all I am sorry to report that Jack's tricycle has suffered a slow and painful death by being crushed repeatedly in the garage door by yours truly. Oops. At least no one was riding it at the time...

So it's been time to upgrade to the big boy bike and Brent and I decided, like fools, to take Jack on a bike shopping expedition. Idiots! Anyway, first stop: Paul's Bicycle Way of Life where Jack fell IN LOVE with a $160(!) neon pink bike with a unicorn backpack on the handlebars and glittery purple streamers. I would like to tell you that we are such cool parents who are totally secure with the masculinity of our boys and that we bought the bike of Jack's dreams with complete disregard for our society's gender stereotypes. But the reality is that we walked out of the store empty handed because for $160 we want something a little more impressive than 12 inch tires. Like a motor or something.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Jack was completely DEVASTATED by our decision not to purchase The Pink Bike. Apparently when you are three and your parents tell you that you are getting a new bike, walking out of the store without one is seriously like the end of the world!

I would also like to tell you that Brent and I realized that this shopping trip was doomed and that we then went home and shopped online, like any sensible parent would. But no! Next stop REI. Wow, those kids bikes are spendy. Again Jack was drawn to the "girl" bike and again we had to break his poor little heart because we're just not willing to take out a second mortgage to finance a kids bike.

We were finally getting a little bit smarter at this point and decided to peek in the windows of the other local bike shops before unloading the crew. No dice. These bikes are way overpriced. So we had to go home sans new bike and listen to Jack repeat his love and adoration for that beautiful Pink Bike at Paul's.

Ah the difference a day makes. Next day Brent took Jack to Toys R Us and found this very reasonably priced little number in a lovely shade of blue. A three-year-old's love for a bike is a fickle thing- there has been no mention of The Pink Bike since.

Oh, and Easter! We colored eggs and instead of running out to the store when I realized I had failed to buy the egg coloring kit, we used vinegar and food coloring. The eggs turned out great! I love the more natural look that the food coloring produced. I think this was partly because we used our black chicken Ruby's eggs, which are a light grey color.

Will I ever get enough pictures of my sweet boy helping in the kitchen? I guess not. Jack and I made Whole Wheat Apricot Scones. They were beautiful to look at and fun to make, but meh in taste.

Aren't they pretty? I wanted to love them because there's something very quaint about serving scones and I had visions of having friends come for tea and scones and wouldn't that just be so fun? But no, these scones will not be made again. But for every dud recipe there is a gem and I found this recipe for peanut butter oatmeal cookies yesterday when I was looking for a new cookie to try. OH MY. There are no pictures of these because we were too busy scarfing them down to reach for the camera. Try them. You won't be disappointed.

The state of the economy has taken its toll on the Easter Bunny, all he brought this year was peanut M&Ms which he hid all around the house for Jack to find. Good thing Jack doesn't know what an Easter basket is yet. Next year that bunny is going to have to get his act together.

Geez, I just read through this post and there is no mention of Sawyer. Second child syndrome, poor thing. I'll post extra pictures of him next time!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Family Portraits

So yeah, those ubiquitous family photos- you know the ones where everyone is wearing a white t-shirt and jeans and forcing a smile? Or maybe it's a holiday and everyone is dressed up in their fancies around the Christmas tree/birthday cake/(insert appropriate holiday image here). We just don't have 'em. Not a single one. No way. Never.

A quick aside: if you are ever looking to waste a few hours of your life laughing hysterically, check out It will make your family seem really normal and your own teenager years seem less, well, awkward.

When I was a kid we took a ton of pictures. By we I mean my dad. He had the camera attached to his face for most of my childhood. Roadtrips took forever because we were always having to stop for a "photo opportunity". (This is the same person who would not ever stop at the rest stops to let me pee every twenty minutes as my hamster bladder would have liked! Not that I'm still carrying that around or anything...)

I remember one professional portrait that was taken of my brother and me. I was sporting a hideous "feathered" hairstyle and poor Nick was decked out in a bow tie and forced to hold a fake rose. It was totally NOT us. Nick got mad at me one time and scratched my face in the picture, so unfortunately (thankfully) that one didn't survive our childhood. I can't promise that I won't ever dress my boys in matching outfits, but I will say with certainty that they will never wear bow ties and hold fake roses.

So anyway, it was recently brought to my attention that we don't have any photos of the four of us together on this blog. So here you go instead:

(Jack gets two because he's such a ham)

This is how we appear in our natural habitat, 'cause we just don't stand around in matching outfits smiling maniacally on a regular basis. And our boys don't own bow ties.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rainy Days

When you live in Oregon, you just can't let a little rain get you down. Most Oregonians I know don't even own an umbrella. We don't fight the rain, we just deal with it.

Those rainy days can still be fun. A playdate can still happen if everyone is willing to get a bit soggy.

What is it about jumping into a giant mud puddle? Why is it so very enticing? I wish I could remember.

Puddle jumping makes for some seriously chilled hands and feet. What better way to warm up than a cup of hot chocolate served in espresso cups? Brent and I bought these cups and saucers in Paris and I suppose we were thinking that we would someday own an espresso machine. Nope. Instead these little cups are the go to favorite for mini hot chocolates around here.

Jack's pal William taught him a Bingo game and he has become quite the little card shark, begging and pleading for "one more round" after we've played for hours on end. But cards are a refreshing rainy day activity and who knows? Maybe Jack can learn to play our favorite card game, Phase 10, one of these days.

Bingo for Preschoolers: Here you go! You will need a deck of cards with numbers and a cup of coins and some eager three-year-olds.

Each player is dealt 5 cards. The dealer draws cards from the rest of the deck and players who have that number card place a coin on top of their card. The first player to cover all of his or her cards with a coin calls out "Bingo!" and is the winner.

One warning, though. This game is like video poker for preschoolers. Jack gets a little cracked out playing this game and starts acting like a compulsive gambler after a few rounds. Play in moderation.