Saturday, March 29, 2014

The New Nest


Is there a better feeling than to have realized you've made the RIGHT DECISION for 

-In the 16 days we've lived in our new house we've had friends and family over for dinner 5 times.  Never were there less than 10 people in attendance.  And     there     was     space     for     everyone.  Do you hear the angels singing?!?!?!  Did I mention that it was no sweat to cook 4 pizzas in my double oven, feed 7 kids ages 4 and under, and continuously keep adult beverages in the hands of the parents during one of those get togethers?  Eh, no BIG deal.

-On Thursday Gavin was running through three rooms like a pro soccer player dribbling a squishy ball.  I said, "Gavin, do you love to have all this space?"  "Yep!" he replies with a breathless grin.

-Waking up one morning this week the boys excitedly told me about all the games they planned to play that day: The Nana and Pops Game, The Hospital Game with Snow Bear and the Ambulance, The Tree House Game, The Seeder Game.  "Mom, there are so many  new games we love to play at our new house that we never played before at our old house!"

-This is a daily occurrence now..."Mommy!  We are going to ride out bikes on the driveway, ok?!?! Gavin snapped my helmet for me and I put my coat on all by myself!"  Um, hello big boys, and yes, go free!

-Upon moving in I received a nice note and a post card in the mail from one of our back door neighbors.  It was a sweet message, but what jumped off the paper at me was "I'm 14 and love kids!  Please call for a mother's helper or babysitter anytime!"  I swear it was written in gold, glittery letters.  Joe assures me it was normal, black print.  Did I mention her mom's a pediatric nurse and her dad is a fire fighter?  I'm putting their number on speed dial now.

-On Friday we had plans to run across town to drop off a gift at a friend's house.  But then I got a message from the boys' best buddy's mom that they happened to be down the street and our new neighbors wanted to meet us.  Within minutes the boys were on their bikes, I had Katharine in the stroller, and off we went to make new friends.  The errand could wait.  We returned home almost three hours later.  I'd say it was a successful friends-making trip.  I learned of 10 boys under the age of 7 in our new neighborhood.  My boys account for 2 of them and we've met 4 others so far.  Cue visions of a wild bus stop in a few years.... 


Leaving our old address behind was nothing short of chaotic and exhausting.  I've yet to bring myself to even drive by because it does pull on my heart strings to acknowledge that chapter of our life has closed.  Joe bought the place as a bachelor.  He and his parents worked endless hours refinishing/painting/scraping EVERY surface in EVERY room to bring it up to date.  I moved in 3 years later and just over 7 years after that we were busting at the seams with 3 little ones running around.  

Moving and having a baby feel quite similar.  For the better part of a few weeks I was enveloped in my own world, relying on the generosity and helpfulness of friends and family to keep our daily lives going.  I paid no mind that my house was flipped upside down when people stopped by; I was later than usual to every social commitment; and I didn't care if people saw my mess, my dirty laundry, my unkempt kitchen, the fathoms of junk deep in my basement.  I just needed manpower to box, pack, tape, label, feed, and babysit.  And the manpower showed up thanks to my phenomenal, willing, understanding, and kind neighbors, friends, and family.  It     all     got     done.

So now here we are throwing down area rugs, hanging our own pictures on left-behind hooks and nails, working with the paint colors that were already here, and making countless trips to Target for the know, the glorious items like toilet brush holders, Windex, curtain rods, and black out shades.  I haven't even wrapped my head around new drapes, new rugs, new paint colors...but for all that there's time.  

For now I'm enjoying the windows that flood our den and kitchen with morning sun .  

I'm enjoying the view from those windows that overlook our spacious backyard.  

I'm enjoying the double sinks in the master bathroom.  

I'm enjoying the HIS and HERS closets in our bedroom.  

I'm enjoying my mudroom with hooks for everyone's stuff.  

I'm enjoying that my kids already recognize the way home and shout from the backseat, "We're almost to our neighborhood!"

I'm enjoying how Katharine naps peacefully in her quiet, carpeted room despite rowdy brothers who now have room to be typical, noisy boys.  

I'm enjoying the fact that those boys have room to spread out their toys and can play independently while I find new spots for old things.  

I'm enjoying the space in which our family can comfortably exist, grow, play, and relax.  

So yes, I'd say we're settling in quite nicely and enjoying nesting in the new nest.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

In the kitchen: Comfort food

Cold temps mean comfort food and these two recipes are my latest favorites....

Beef and Veggie Pot Pie (original recipe found here)

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bag frozen veggies (I used the stir fry blend)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1/2 c red wine
1/3-1/2 c tomato paste
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef broth
2 T cornstarch
2 T water
1 can refrigerated Crescent dough sheet or bread stick dough

Brown meat and drain fat.  Add veggies and garlic and saute until tender.  In a separate bowl mix herbs, wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and broth.  Stir in sauce to veggies and meat and bring to a boil.  Cook 3 minutes.  Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir with a whisk.  Add this mixture to the pan and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Spoon beef mixture into a baking dish and arrange dough in a lattice fashion (If using the sheet dough, I just cut it into strips with a pizza cutter).  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until browned.  

Coconut Red Lentil Soup (Thank you, Amy, for sharing this gem!)

(original recipe found here
1 cup split peas
1 cup red split lentils
5 cups water
2 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger 

   (I didn't have any ginger the second time I made it and the soup turned out just fine without it!)
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse - until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.
In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add onion, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.  Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like.  The original recipe calls for 7 cups of water, which results in a pretty runny soup, perfect for serving over rice or quinoa.  I prefer a thicker consistency and served on its own, so I reduced the water to 5 cups.  I enjoyed this over the course of a week and each day it tasted better and better!

Winter temps may be soon leaving us now that March has arrived, but I don't think you can ever go wrong with comfort food.  YUM!

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