Thursday, September 17, 2015

Music Lovers

To say we love music in this house might be putting it a bit mildly. Over the past couple of years, though, this has evolved to a new level. Olivia has gotten to the age where she is beginning to develop her own taste in music and has received enough iTunes gift cards that she has purchased quite a bit. As a result, we now have oodles of songs from The Script, Imagine Dragons, One Republic, Fall Out Boy, One Direction, and various other artists on our computer, phones, and mp3 players. Since my music tastes overlap a decent percentage of Olivia's music choices, it's been a win-win for me.

I hadn't realized the full impact of this "music love" on the younger kids until this past Sunday. In Primary (classes for kids ages 3-11), Maddox's name was drawn to pick a song for the kids to sing together. When the song leader asked him his favorite song, he promptly replied, "Radioactive!"

Of course, they asked him to choose a church song instead to sing together, but only after the snickering subsided...

And in case you don't know this song that has inspired such admiration my 4-year old... 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Candid Cook - Best Black Beans Ever

We were visiting our family in Louisiana when I was introduced to this amazing concoction. Fortunately, my sister in law had me eat a bowl before she told me what was in it. This just might be the last black bean recipe you'll ever need. Yes, there's curry in it. But don't think you're eating curry. Yes, there's also pumpkin and coconut milk. Don't judge until you've tried it. It has the creamiest sauce ever, and the flavor... Fantastic!

The original recipe can be found here, but you know me... I can't leave any recipe alone. I didn't make major modifications, but here is the new recipe which includes my edits.

Pumpkin and Coconut Black Beans (and Rice)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced (optional)
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 lb dried black beans, rinsed
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp curry powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
2 tsp salt
6 cups liquid (I use either 4 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water, or 3 cups vegetable stock and 3 cups water)
Cilantro (for garnish)
Plain yogurt or sour cream (for garnish)

Heat oil in frying pan. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add diced peppers and cook until onions are starting to brown (carmelized). Add garlic and cook one more minute. Remove from heat.

A couple of notes on the ingredients: 1) Rinse your black beans. Don't skip this step. Not only will it clean them, but it may even cut down on the whole "beans give you gas" thing.  

2) Don't cheap out on your coconut milk. Read the labels, and you'll be surprised what some companies add to their product. This is the brand I like to buy because there's only three ingredients listed on the can. 

Now that you've got good ingredients, let's more on. In the crock pot, place the cooked veggies, rinsed black beans, pumpkin, tomato paste, curry, red pepper, cumin, bay leaf, coconut milk, and salt. 

Mix gently, then add the liquid. Stir one more time, and put the lid on. The mixture will look lighter than expected, but it will darken as the beans cook.

Cook on high for 6-8 hours until the beans reach desired tenderness. Remove the bay leaf (in you can find it!!) and serve with rice. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream and fresh cilantro if desired. 

Or, if you're impatient like  me you can also eat the beans by themselves in a bowl with a little sour cream and Chalula pictured above... mmmm mmmm good!

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Favorite Things

I can't believe what a slacker I've become on the blogging front. It seems the way of things, lately, but one I'd love to change! We'll see if I can pull it off.

In the meantime, hear are a few of my favorite things (cue The Sound of Music soundtrack...)

We just had a great visit from these special people! 

Becky and I have been friends since the 8th grade when she moved to South Carolina from... wait for it... Oklahoma City! Now that she lives in Michigan, I haven't seen her in several years, though we talk often. And I haven't really gotten a chance to know that blond cutie-pie by her side, either. It was SUCH a treat for her to come visit with her son. We did some sight-seeing, went by her old house, ate some excellent food, and watched our boys play and play and play!

These boys were almost the best part of the visit. Connor got along great with Lucas, but Maddox and Lucas are like two peas in a pod. I hope we can make it a regular thing to get together so they can keep their friendship growing!

I started a home bakery business.

I "officially" opened my doors in February, which oddly enough is around the last time I posted on this blog. Coincidence? Maybe not.

The best part is that I still love what I'm doing and I hope I can continue to see success! 

Kelsey's cheer group got to do a Thunder pregame show again this season.

The best part? She got to go into the "High Five Tunnel" and give the Thunder players a high five as they ran out onto the court before the game. She was super excited!!

I got to have a "girls weekend" in Baton Rouge with my sister-in-law, Julie.

It was a working trip for her, but a Look-At-Me-I-Don't-Have-Kids trip for me. I'm fairly certain Julie would  give me the stink eye for posting a picture of her at the her gallery opening there, but here's a nice couple checking out some of her talent.

Time's too short for me to run through all my pictures and memories now, so suffice it to say that it's been a busy year with a fair amount of work time, play time, hang-out-with-good-friends time, and a couple special visits. Let's hope the second half of the year turns out just as well!

Connor's Cookie Robot

He wanted a cookie cake with a robot on it. Between me, Kelsey, and Connor, this is what he got:

I'm on a cuteness overload from this 7-year old. Soon I'll be on a sugar-overload as well, it looks like!

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Laugh for You

This afternoon I was relaxing on the couch (it's a snow day) and I noticed Maddox looking extremely cute. He was "paddling his boat". I started snapping pictures, and the results... oh my. We've got a serious cheeser on our hands. He and Kelsey are so much alike that way.

It started off innocently enough. He was just paddling his boat.

And paddling some more.

And being a pirate.

Then I captured this picture. And I started laughing...

Which, of course, meant that Connor needed a turn in the boat.

And they wanted to pose together.

They were trying to make me laugh again. 

 And, yes, they were succeeding.

More than they realized, probably.

Needless to say, it was a fun afternoon. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Budding Musicians

This morning I was listening to Miss H tinker on the piano and sing. She was even writing her own lyrics:

"This is my Ossie... and he is a princess...."

Of course, when I took my camera out to record her she had moved on to a different song. I'm guessing this is one of those New Age style things with no real words, just a lot of vowel sounds.

Not to be outdone, big brother O-man had to write his own song (be sure to watch H's expression).

It's nice to see how much these kids love their siblings. I'm drowning in cuteness this morning!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lovely Olivia

Olivia is told me the other day that she will be able to drive in a year. It's crazy that she's that close to growing up on us! She's now 14 (and a half) and has started her freshman year in high school. She's doing online school this year, and it's been great to spend more time with her. I find that I really like the person she is growing into. We can have fun and laugh together, and her taste in music is generally pretty good. She's really into Marvel (superhero) movies, and she has spent a lot of time with her dad and friends watching just about every one made in the last few years.

I often joke that Olivia is our hermit. She'd be perfectly content to stay all day in her room, listening to music, reading, and drawing. She does like to spend time with her friends, though, so we don't worry about it too much. If she spends TOO much time alone, she gets a little stir crazy and starts looking for a way to get out of the house or have a friend over. She has a sarcastic sense of humor that she keeps in check pretty well. As far as I know, she hasn't hurt people's feelings by accident.

Olivia is a big fan of camping and and hiking - if the scenery is worth it and it isn't too hot outside. . The kids and I have started camping more often, especially since she's old enough to be a big help. She loves to take pictures of sunrises, trees, and any scenery that catches her fancy. She is considering a photography degree after high school.

Olivia is already taller than much of her extended family on her father's side. At 5'6", we are pretty sure she isn't done growing yet. She is often mistaken for someone older - which she thoroughly enjoys. She is very creative and enjoys designing clothing and coming up with room decor ideas. She's also trying her hand a writing occasionally, though she has yet to let me read anything she has written. I think she just enjoys living in her own mind, which has it's own charm, I guess.

When I go through my pictures, I see plenty of Olivia ducking out of camera view, and a few with her mouth open as she tells me to stop taking her picture. I have only a few that are good pictures of her, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Pirate

I uploaded the pictures from my camera today, and found this tidbit that I had forgotten about from early December. I had to watch the video to remember what it was all about... I love this little guy!!

Sweet Kelsey

I realized that I never finished with my kids' updates, so I guess it's time to get started again with the next in line!

Kelsey is 10 years old, and will be 11 in April. She is a quirky gal, and she likes it that way. She's a big fan of playing outside, riding her scooter, and showing people her scars from the bad scooter accident back in April - just 2 days before her birthday, no less! In some ways, she is fearless. She jumped off the 12-foot high dive when she was about 7 or 8 years old, and she hopped back on the scooter the day after her injuries. But in other ways, she's a little timid. She doesn't like to be alone in the dark, and is a little... jittery... around spiders and other creepy-crawlies.

She is probably one of my most tender-hearted children. She craves acceptance and kindness from others, and is more likely to let me know when her feelings have been hurt. She rejects her old nickname from when she was little (Kelsey-bug) and just wants people to call her "Kels" or "Kelsey".

With the exception of a disastrous month in 2nd grade, this is Kelsey's first year in public school since Kindergarten. She is in 5th grade, which means she has a lot of work to do and keep up with. It was a challenging transition for us, but she has conquered it well. She is full of excitement for life, for school, for learning, for animals, and for drawing. She's also pretty competitive and loves to play games, particularly when she wins.

Kelsey loves people, especially younger kids. She has a blast playing with and entertaining them. Well, unless she's related to them, that is. When it's her brothers, it's a toss-up whether she will be in the mood or want to have "some space". She is inquisitive, and if there is a pretty flower or critter to discover when she is exploring, she will find it. Like all of our children, Kelsey is a blessing to our family. We love her very much and enjoy watching her grow into her talents, her gifts, and her interests.

She also likes to make crazy faces in pictures. Here's some of my favorite pictures that show her personality: