Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas!



Aren't they the sweetest little elves? Man I love them.

We had an awesome Christmas! It is SO sweet to celebrate the birth of our Savior with children of our own. It adds so much power and perspective. And.... joy. Definitely a lot of joy! Rowen had tremendous fun this year. All December long we did an advent calendar, talked about Jesus' birthday, talked about Santa coming, ate lots of candy canes... (I hope I never forget those sweet, sticky fingers) and it was pure joy to see his excitement and anticipation. It took him a couple hours to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, and it was totally a blast doing the parent thing once he was finally out!
We are blessed to be surrounded in family: we got to have three Christmases! The kids are spoiled rotten, for sure. A couple days after Christmas, I'm really learning the meaning of the phrase "spoiled rotten." Ha! This afternoon will be spent putting all the new toys AWAY, save one or two of his choosing. I can't wait :) I'd like to purge and give a bunch away, but with Charlotte right behind him in development, I think I'll just store them until she's old enough to be through with them too. During lunch, Rowen and I talked about getting out the bins and sorting all his toys so we can get out new ones every so often. He seemed excited about it too. That must mean he had no idea what I was saying. Muwahahaha
anyhow- sidetracked..... :)
We did Christmas Eve with just our little family this year, which was great. Christmas Eve service at church was awesome, then dinner in our pj's and putting the last ornament on the advent tree, hot cocoa & the Christmas Story- so sweet :)
Christmas morning Rowen climbed into bed with us and Matt tried to convince him to see if Santa came, but he was plenty happy just being in bed with the family. We finally got him up and it was all fun after that! He was so not into opening everything. He just wanted to play with what he had at the moment! The rest of the day was filled with family, food, and LOTS more toys. It's a good thing Christmas only comes once a year!
I hope it was merry and joy-filled for you all as well :) Bring on 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Tree Hunting

We went to Hagg's this past weekend with my parents, & my sister and brother-in-law.
 tractor ridin' out to the trees (Rowen wanted to ride ON the tractor, it was a disappointment to settle for the wagon, but he got over it.)



 Rowen picked this one for Nana & Pop-pop


 poor Charlotte passed out for the entirety of the adventure. Happy to have been wearing the ergo!



 a little visit with big Santa



 awake now! What? Wait. Who's got me?



feeding the goats.


All in all, it was a fun trip. It was a little far out, and a little expensive, and there weren't many doug's to be found. Looks like they're only planting nobles now, which makes sense. But hard for the bargain ;) The weather held out on us which was a nice blessing! We enjoyed our free coffee & cocoa in the little barn while visiting with the animals & talking to Santa.  However, we'll try a new farm next year, mainly for the steep slopes. The trees are growing on a hillside, and it was scary trying to navigate the mud & brambles in rubber boots and wearing a baby! Luckily there were no casualties. It would make sense to just go and pick one up from a lot- they're cheaper after all. But there's something about going and cutting down your own. I'm thankful to live in a state full of fir trees just dying to be in someone's living room, bedecked with tinsel & memories come December!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Box of Happy #2


Contents from our 2nd Organics to You box:

1 bunch Carrots-*LOCAL, farm direct*
1 bunch purple Kale -*LOCAL, farm direct*
1 bunch Collard Greens -*LOCAL, farm direct*
1 winter Squash(mixed types) - *LOCAL, farm direct*
1 bunch Beets - *LOCAL*
1-2 Onions - *LOCAL*
1-2 Garlic - *LOCAL*
2-3 Celeriac - *LOCAL, farm direct*
2 Green Peppers - ?

1 head cabbage -?
broccoli -?
lettuce -?
bok choy -?
mushrooms -?
1 bunch bananas -?
4 Satsumas - Cali'
4 Kiwi - Cali'
6 Jonagold Apples Apples - *LOCAL*
3 granny smith apples
3 lemmons
3 Navel Oranges - Cali'
2 avocados?

This week I tried a Veggie Box ($33) with a fruit add on ($15) and it looks like a good variety! I picked up a small bag of apples, a bunch of bananas, and a bag of cuties from Trader Joes for the extra fruit.

I made this recipe with the bok choy- it was good! I threw in some shrimp and half an onion and served it over brown rice.
I'm planning on making this recipe with the celery root later this week. I'm excited to try a new vegetable! Who knew you could be an almost 30 year old veggie lover and still be trying new veggies?
And I made this recipe (with regular lentils since I didn't have red) last week for the Buckendorfs who welcomed sweet baby Kenzi into the world. It was so good, I'll be making it again this week, but I'm going to use the collards from our box instead of the spinach that I used last time. I'm also going to pick up some red lentils and see what kind of difference it makes! (If you were going to try this recipe, I also used a mix of veggie & chicken stock instead of water, and regular lentils take longer to cook than red lentils, fyi)

Friday, December 3, 2010

December Resolutions

Wow, my final entry! December is not exactly a time to be thinking about starting resolutions. Typically, the end of December includes a lot of indulging in things you KNOW are bad, or less than ideal, because you're going to resolve to stop doing those things in January. Nevertheless, my December will include a new resolution just like every other month this year. I know, I'm crazy, but it's been fun. Why stop now?

The Recap:
January - read through the bible in a year. (so close to accomplishing this goal!)
February - use the cash envelope system.
March - watch internet time.
April - walk whenever possible. (yeah, fell right off that wagon. Though I did run to the library this week with my fantastic stroller)
May - stockpile the freezer. OAMC style.
June- have a healthy baby and try to stay sane.
July - ban high fructose corn syrup from our house. (would you believe there are still condiments and crackers around the house with HFCS? The last of the Graham Crackers are finally gone, and I tossed the last of the ketchup. Trader Joes Organic is a very tasty replacement! Just made a tuna sandwich yesterday with sweet pickle relish, including HFCS. yuck.)
August- try one "deceptively delicious" type recipe a day. (Rowen's morning "hot chocolate" (half-scoop of ovaltine) now includes a spoonful of pureed sweet potatoes. Love it!)
September - journal pray as a daily part of my quiet times. (oh dear, I totally dropped this one this month. I need to start again.)
October - so long, corn-fed beef.
November - tidy up! fill BOTH our yard debris bins, every week. & keep the kitchen table clear. (I did it, folks! and it wasn't that bad! There was a bad week for the kitchen table- I was doing a bizzarre so I had my sewing machine out and I was not about to put it away nightly. However, I kept the REST of the table clean.)

December - spend at least hour, one night a week, on the kids' scrapbooks.

it doesn't seem like much. But for the past TWO YEARS I've been wanting to find time to work on them. I haven't even started Charlotte's. I haven't even made her extremely simple photo books of the professional photos we had taken. For the past week I knew I wanted their scrapbooks to be my resolution, but I couldn't think of a very good quantifiable goal. One page a week? Finish Rowen's baby book? And the truth is, I feel like this goal (that I came up with last night) is possibly reachable in a busy month like December. Pray for me :) That way I can spend that quick hour ordering photos to be developed, cutting out mats, sifting through old blog posts to find things to add, doing Charlotte's online photobook, whatever. It's just an hour. It's not that scary. A little bit at a time, that's all it takes, right? Wish me luck!



How are you doing on your new years resolutions?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Thanksgiving 2010

sorry, picture overload!! We went to eastern oregon for the long Thanksgiving weekend. It was lovely. All the snow totally got me ready for Christmas! I'm dying to get out the decorations :)

tower of brussels sprouts

GiGi Norma (Matt's Grandma)


surrounded in snow!


...but puddles are where it's at :)


Lots of fun with Uncle Awesome (that's how Rowen pronounces Evan)


overnight snow!



love :)


Poor LuLu- what a good sport!


More fun with the younger Happels


oh my goodness- an actual picture of our whole family?? (yes, we did it on purpose! Aren't you proud?)


MiMi

Rowen LOVED the "snow mo mo." Matt slowly drove him up and down the street a few times. (As did Pappy, and Mimi.) The next day he woke up talking about it!


goofy.


look, I exist! It's me in a photo! amazing.


Christmas Card!!


Aunt Jackie


Charlotte's first Thanksgiving! Sorry girl, no food for you. No food until January. I mean it. Don't turn 6 months old on Tuesday. Stop it. Stop it I say! (look how big she looks sitting in the chair! :( It was her first time. She LOVED it. oh man.) Stop it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free Holiday Cards from Shutterfly!

Got a great deal for you, friends. Well, my blogging friends for sure! Shutterfly is offering 50 free photo cards for writing a blog about them! Of course, it's a bit of shameless self promotion, but I'll jump on that band wagon for free Christmas Photo Cards :) We've been debating whether or not to do them this year, looking at Costco (who seem to always have the best prices) but then when you add postage, holy moly. But with free cards, I think we can handle it! So, I went to shutterfly and checked out their designs, and there are so many cute ones. There's one that just says "joy" across your photo & it's so simple and sweet! It'll all come down to choosing the right photo, of course. Last Christmas, Charlotte's ultrasound photo got a small spot on our Christmas card. I think we'll have to give her a better shot on this year's!
Oh, and while I'm on the topic of Christmas cards, I heard a rumor about a family at church that puts all their Christmas cards in a basket and then throughout the year, they pull out one every night at dinner and pray for that family. How sweet is that? We definitely want to steal that little tradition :) (So you'd better send us one if you want to be prayed for!) hahaha, okay, okay, no pressure ;)

here's all the links from Shutterfly you may need:

· holiday cards http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/holiday-cards

· greeting cards to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/5x7-folded-greeting-cards

· photo albums to http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-books/simple-path

· personalized mugs to http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-gifts/photo-mugs

· calendars to http://www.shutterfly.com/calendars

· graduation invitations to http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/announcements/graduation-announcements

· Choose your own card/invitation and URL from our Cards & Stationery page


(Just to be clear, I don't get anything from you using them, so I'm not encouraging you to sign up or anything, but I have used Shutterfly for photo books before and they've turned out great. Got an 8x8 for Rowen when he was a baby, full of all the people who love him! So cute. Currently making one for Charlotte too!)


Happy Christmas Card Making! Oh yes, here's the link for bloggers:

Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly http://bit.ly/sfly2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soup Swap!

This was not my idea, I got it from the Food Day a few weeks back. You make a couple gallons of one kind of soup, have a bunch of friends do the same, and then trade! Brilliant, right? Well, 6 friends (myself included) decided to give it a go. And I'm so glad we did. :) I made my version of lentil soup, which is loaded with yummy veggies, chicken stock, and red wine. Here's the parsnips and leeks getting all caramel-y. Oooooh. While browning these babies, I considered making a dish some day of just parsnips and leeks. (potatoes, carrots, green onions and celery lie in wait.)
here's Rowen examining my 6 quarts, lying out to cool before popping 'em in the freezer.In return, I got taco soup (already enjoyed- thank you,) potato soup (made by an Irish girl. Oh yeah. Also already enjoyed.) Chili, pumpkin soup, and chicken & corn chowder. So much fun! And to have 6 dinners in my fridge/freezer just waiting to be heated & served? Priceless. And 6 quarts was just about perfect. It took me two big pots, and was not quite a hassle. Any more might be. So get out there and find some friends and swap some soup!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

just 'cause

love her!


movie night: popcorn!!

it turns out, you CAN buy happiness!

Okay, I know, I'm a little obsessed with food. But I'm too happy with our big brown box of food from Organics to You that arrived on our porch today (courtesy of driver Will, who was quite nice) not to blog about it! I told Rowen that the "veggie truck" was coming today and he was so excited. We dove through the box together, with the Carters who happened to be here as well, and sampled some dried fruit (brown bag) and a kiwi that didn't make it into the photo. Mmm! It's all so pretty and yummy smelling that I felt it deserved a nice clean fridge to sit in. So even though I put everything away and we continued to play with the Carters, I got it all back out again (yes, to take a picture!) and to clean the fridge, which has long been needing it. (Actually, it was a small goal of mine to get that done this month. The pretty food just motivated me.) :)
We ordered a small bin, with a fruit add on ($15), plus milk ($6.50) & eggs ($4.25) for $58. (delivered!) The milk is more expensive than I can get at trader joes or freddies, but not that much more for not having to make a special trip for it. I'm going to try and make this last two weeks, and have the box come every other week. Here's a detailed list of what we got, if you're curious: (because you know how much I like to inform the masses)

4 Fuji Apples-*LOCAL*
4 Honey Crisp apples - *LOCAL*
4 Comise Pears -*LOCAL, farm direct*
4 D'anjou Pears - *LOCAL, farm direct*
2 Pomegranate - Cali'
3 Fuyu Persimmons - Cali'
1 bunch Carrots-*LOCAL, farm direct*
1 bunch Kale -*LOCAL, farm direct*
1 bunch Dandelion Greens -*LOCAL, farm direct*
2 Peppers -*LOCAL, farm direct*
1lb. Parsnips -*LOCAL, farm direct*
1lb. Baby Bok Choi -*LOCAL, farm direct*
3 Sm. Corn -*LOCAL, farm direct*
6-8oz. Crimini Mushrooms -*LOCAL, farm direct*
1 Savoy Cabbage - *LOCAL, farm direct*
3 Heirloom Tomatoes - *LOCAL, farm direct*
4 Bananas - Mexico
4 Oranges - Cali'
1/2lb. Raisins - Cali'
2 Grapefruits - usa
5 kiwis - new zeland
2.5lb. Potatoes - *LOCAL*
celery

My kitchen table is COVERED! And I'm giddy :) If I make one giant winco trip per month for the dry staples, one costco trip per month for the other staples, and get this delivery twice per month, we could actually be saving money on groceries per month AND eating local (mostly,) organic food. I'm hoping my plan works out because this all looks SO good, and I really love the idea of only two grocery trips per month. :)
Now, to figure out what the heck to do with dandelion greens...
One thing I'm really excited about is the lack of commitment. You can let Organics to You know (at least 48 hours in advance) that you don't want something this week and would like something else instead. Or that you'll be on vacation and need to skip a delivery. Or that you just plain don't like dandelion greens and don't want them in your box ever again. ;) But hey, I didn't want to change anything in this first box because I'm adventerous like that. However, if I end up with four heads of cabbage in my fridge, I'll probably ask them to hold back on the suckers for a little while. I love that freedom. And since you can easily go back and forth between bins, I might order the large bin without the fruit add on next time and see how that looks. Because this looks like plenty of fabulous fruit, but not sure that it's 2 weeks worth of veggies for us. Oh, and not only is there a fruit add on, but there are ethnic cooking add ons, baby food add ons, kid stuff add ons, I mean - it's really versatile!

okay, okay, yes, both kids are napping and I'm getting carried away on the computer again. I'll stop now. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Simple Things that make me Happy #8


Hours of uninterrupted morning while my boy plays legos. By himself. While making little train & animal noises and otherwise talking to himself. Priceless!

What makes you happy today?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Grass-Fed Beef Plan!


Excited to announce: my plan for our freezer-full of beef! We bought 1/4 cow from Carman Ranch and split it with my sister & brother-in-law. (Which gives us 1/8 cow.) For those of you on the fence, of if you already took the plunge and are unsure what to do next, I thought I'd post my little 1-year plan I whipped up. I found random info (thanks to swagbucks and wikipedia) for cuts I was unsure about.

The green basket is full of 1.5# ground beef chubs. Since we typically use 1/2# whenever we use ground beef (spaghetti, chili, etc) I'm planning on cooking the whole chub (w/ onions, seasonings, etc) and freezing 2/3 in a couple zip-locks for quick use throughout the month. (a little tid bit I learned from OAMC!) We got four packs of "soup bones" I plan to make stock with for random soups and such, anywhere I would use chicken stock I guess. I'll have to read up a bit more on that. I'm going to use this list as a guideline, move different cuts around if need be. And I realize it only goes through September, and it is currently November, so that makes it 11 months and not 12, but I figured we'd probably end up with something extra for the last month, or perhaps 11 months is just close enough and we'll get our 1/8th of a cow earlier next year. We'll see ;) If you have any great uses for roasts other than pot roast, let me know. :) I have 3 roasts, I plan on using two for pot roast and one for stew. Or perhaps vise versa. But i'm certainly open to ideas :)


I hope this is helpful to someone out there!

1/8 Cow in 1 year:

Fall

(november) Mystery Meat (ground beef?) 1# 10oz

Sirloin steak (1#) (grill or pan sear)

(december) ground beef (1.5#)

Round steak (2?) 1.5# This is a lean cut and it is moderately tough. Lack of fat and marbling makes round dry out when cooked with dry-heat cooking methods like roasting or grilling. Round steak is commonly prepared with slow moist-heat methods including braising, to tenderize the meat and maintain moisture. The cut is often sliced thin, then dried or smoked at low temperature to make jerky.

Arm roast (3#) Swiss Steaks? Pot Roast? The arm roast, which is cut from the beef chuck primal, is one of the most popular pot roasts. It is also known by the following names: arm pot roast, arm chuck roast, and round bone pot roast. The arm roast can be reduced to a smaller cut known as an arm steak, which is also referred to as Swiss steak.

(Make beef stock twice with bones)

Winter

Tenderloin steaks (2) .75# (Christmas eve)

(January) ground beef (1.5#)

rump roast (2.5#) (beef stew, freeze half after cooking) Rump roast is cut from the round or hip, the entire upper leg of the cow carcass. It is also known as Round Roast, Bottom Round Pot Roast, Diamond Cut Roast, or Manhattan Roast. The triangular shaped rump roast provides a juicy beefy roast, and it is inexpensive as well. Rump is best suited to moist heat cooking. A rump that contains a moderate layer of fat and good marbling (layers of fat and meat) will be succulent

(february) ground beef (1.5#)

Chuck roast (3.25#) (Pot roast, left overs as beef stroganoff) The chuck contains a lot of connective tissue, including collagen. Collagen partially melts during the cooking of the meat, making the flavor intensely stronger. Meat from the chuck is usually used for stewing, slow cooking, braising, or pot roasting.

(march) ground beef (1.5#)

(Make beef stock with bones)

Spring

(April) ground beef (1.5#)

Brisket 1.25# - (Passover) Brisket can be cooked many ways. Popular methods in the Southern United States include rubbing with a spice rub or marinating the meat, then cooking slowly over indirect heat from charcoal or wood. This is a form of smoking the meat. Additional basting of the meat is often done during the cooking process. However, most of the tenderness from this normally tougher cut of meat comes from the collagen fibers that make up the significant connective tissue in the cut, which gelatinizes and lubricates the muscle fibers, resulting in more tender brisket despite the fact that the cut is usually cooked well beyond what would normally be considered "well done". The fat cap often left attached to the brisket helps to keep the meat from over-drying during the prolonged cooking necessary to break down the connective tissue in the meat.In traditional Jewish cooking, brisket is most often braised as a pot roast, especially as a holiday main course usually served at Rosh Hashannah, Passover, and Shabbat. It is a common cut of meat for use in Vietnamese phở soup.

(May) ground beef (1.5#)

short ribs (1.25#)- Beef short ribs are larger and usually more tender and meatier than their pork counterpart, pork spare ribs. Short ribs are cut from the rib and plate primals and a small corner of the square-cut chuck. A full slab of short ribs is typically about 10 inches square, ranges from 3-5 inches thick, and contains three or four ribs, intercostal muscles and tendon, and a layer of boneless meat and fat which is thick on one end of the slab and thins down to almost nothing on the other. There are numerous ways to butcher short ribs. The ribs can be separated and cut into short lengths (typically about 2 inches long), called an "English cut", "flanken cut" across the bones (typically about 1/2 inch thick), or cut into boneless steaks. Short ribs may be long-cooked, as in pot-au-feu, a classic of French cuisine, or rapidly seared or grilled, as in Korean cuisine, in which short ribs (called galbi), are marinated and grilled over charcoal (long-cooking thinner, shorter cuts are also a korean favourite). A specific type from Hawaii is known as Maui-style ribs. Other popular preparations are barbecue and braising.

(June) ground beef (1.5#)

T-bone steaks (2?) 1.75# (Father’s Day?)

(Make beef stock with bones)

Summer

(July) ground beef (1.5#)

Rib steak (.75#) (Anniversary?) A rib steak is a beef steak sliced from the rib primal of a beef animal, with rib bone attached. In the United States, a rib steak is usually a rib eye steak with the rib bone still attached to the meat; however in some areas, and outside the U.S., the terms are often erroneously used interchangeably. The rib eye or "ribeye" was originally, as the name implies, the center best portion of the rib steak, without the bone.

It is one of the more flavorful cuts of beef, due to the muscle getting a lot of exercise during its life, un-like the fillet, its marbling of fat makes this very good for slow roasting and it also goes great on a grill.

(August) ground beef (1.5#)

Flank steak (1.25#) – Stir fry

(September) ground beef (1.5#)

short ribs (1.5#)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Athey Creek Harvest Festival 2010

Our "Lion and the Lamb" - could they be any cuter?

Rowen enjoyed a few carnival games!

woohoo! fishing for... flamingos?

'nuff said.


poor little lamb spent most of the evening passed out on my shoulder.


more carnival games.

BFFs!

love.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Resolutions


The Recap:
January - read through the bible in a year.
February - use the cash envelope system.
March - watch internet time.
April - walk whenever possible.
May - stockpile the freezer. OAMC style.
June- have a healthy baby and try to stay sane.
July - ban high fructose corn syrup from our house.
August- try one "deceptively delicious" type recipe a day.
September - journal pray as a daily part of my quiet times.
October - so long, corn-fed beef. (we got our cow yesterday! woohoo!)

November - tidy up! More specifically, I have two resolutions.
-I resolve to fill BOTH our yard debris bins, every week. This is not a matter of finding enough leaves (see photo above) but a matter of getting out and filling 'em up, rain or shine. We didn't get rid of all last year's leaves until half way through summer! This year I want to stay on top them more. We're paying for both bins, I want to make the most of them!
-I resolve to keep the kitchen table clear. This sounds silly, but seriously it's a disaster almost every day. It's where the pile-up occurs. Mail, things I've been working on, the computer, whatever. Pile. Up. ugh. Honestly, I don't think I'll be able to do it. Even for a month. But I'm going to try :) Also, this resolution will be around after the yard debris are already full and waiting at the curb. :)

How are you doing on your new years resolutions?