Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My boy...

My little dude seems so much bigger now that he's three.  Maybe it's because he's in preschool now.  Maybe it's because the words are coming faster and clearer.  It could be his sudden burst of imaginative play, or the fact that his shoes are already outgrown, or that he's a little more independent every day.  Maybe it's really just my awareness of how time is moving so fast, and that my best efforts to slow things down don't seem to be working.  But my boy had his birthday, and his first day of school, and I had to take pictures to make sure I can remember how small he used to be, once upon a time...

The birthday party!  My boy loves balloons, and pizza, and carrot sticks.  He also loves Murray Wiggle, as evidenced by his shirt.

Me, showing off Bannon's gift to Jeffrey.  I wondered briefly if this shirt (which says, "Arrrgh!  Hands off me booty") would come in my size, then thought better of it.

My sweet little man, ready for his first day of school.  It felt so strange and wrong to put him in a room full of strangers and expect him to just get on with it.  I thought, having taught preschool for many years, that I'd be okay with it, but I was finally on the other side, approaching it as a parent instead of a teacher.  We both cried (I at least managed to pull away from the school before I did), and then Bannon and I went to lunch, where I drowned my sorrows in fish and chips and iced tea.

Looking much happier on his way to his second day of school, wearing the headband he had made the day before in class.  He calls it his hat, is quite proud of it, and still wears it around almost a full week after he made it.  That's got to be some kind of record for a preschool craft!  

Tomorrow will mark his fifth day of school, and every day seems a bit easier-just some whimpering (but no tears) at drop off today, and he clearly loves riding the bus home.  He seems to have picked up some new songs and dances at school, which he loves to do at home.  He's starting to learn the names of his classmates.  He's so big.  And I'm so proud.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our First Review and Giveaway!!

Welcome to our first blog giveaway!  Revolution Tea was so nice to give us some boxes of tea to try and some sample packs to give out to all of you, our faithful readers.

But first, before we get to how you can win some tea let me share with you some of my thoughts about the Revolution Tea that Kerry and I sampled on Friday night.  Here is my disclosure I have to make before I go any further.  I, Bannon, am not a tea drinker.  I don't care for hot tea at all and very rarely will drink iced tea unless it is a sweet tea.  Kerry is the huge tea drinker out of the two of us and when she told me that Revolution Tea was sending us teas to try I told her I would put on my game face and try all of them for the sake of the blog.

With that being said I did try all six varieties that they sent us.  The types of tea we got were:

Earl Grey Lavender

Sweet Ginger Peach 

White Pear

Tropical Green

Dragon Eye Oolong

Golden Chamomile

After trying all six I would drink again the Earl Grey Lavender and the Golden Chamomile.  Both tasted good with some sugar added.  I feel the Ginger Peach has some promise and Kerry tells me she drinks it as an iced tea instead of a hot tea.  I would like to try it that way as well.  As for the other three they were not my favorites at all, but my husband raved over the Dragon Eye Oolong and the Tropical Green.

Kerry here!  As Bannon said, I am the tea drinker out of the two of us, so I was probably way more excited that she was.  However, she was a total trooper and tried them all.  We made a bit of a party of the tasting-nothing says "tea party" like hot wings, am I right??

I have had some experience with Revolution Teas, primarily the Ginger Peach.  I do drink it iced, and I will go into withdrawal if I don't have it regularly.  It is also quite good hot!  Having tried the rest of the flavors, I can't say enough good things about the Earl Grey Lavender and Golden Chamomile.  I added a bit of sugar, no cream.  The Earl Grey would make a lovely evening drink, maybe something to relax with while reading a good book.  The Chamomile is something I would definitely want if I were sick-it's so soothing, and has some mint to it.  I also liked the pineapple notes of the Tropical Green, and while the White Pear is a bit more delicate of a flavor than I generally prefer, I think it would also make for a nice iced tea.  I'm afraid that I didn't care much for the Oolong, but that's a personal preference-Bannon's husband raved about how good it was plain, but also held it's own with sugar.

That being said, I think we all became converts to Revolution Tea!  I also really loved the teabags-not paper with a tag on string, but a fine mesh fabric bag.  You could also see into it, and could actually tell what the tea was made of.  It really seemed to be high quality, and the blends were well balanced.  There wasn't one overwhelming flavor in any of the blends.

So, how would you like to try some tea?  The rules are simple-between now and midnight on Thursday, March 2 (EST),  simply leave a post on our blog letting us know what your favorite relaxation drink is.  Tea?  Coffee?  Margaritas?  We want to know!  Winners will be chosen at random and will be announced on Friday, March 3.  Five winners will be selected to receive 4 sampler packs from Revolution Tea, giving you a total of twenty bags in five different flavors!  To post on our blog, go to and tell us your drink of choice.  Feel free to follow us as well, since we'll be giving away more goodies in the weeks to come!

Disclosure:  We are not being compensated for our opinions by Revolution Tea or any other agency.  Our opinions are purely our own.  We did receive products for review and giveaway free of charge by Revolution Tea.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

52 Weeks of Cooking, Week 8-Slow Cooker

Hello, everybody!  Kerry here, with this week's recipe.  Since Bannon was kind enough to cover last week's love-themed recipe, I'm handling the crock pot this week!

I tried out two recipes for this week-one from Once A Month Mom, for slow-cooker refried beans, and the other from, for carnitas.  They were so easy, took minimal prep work, and (when combined with Mexican rice) made for one hell of a dinner!

To make the beans, you'll need 1 lb. of black beans, rinsed and picked over; 1 1/4 c. chopped onion, 2 T garlic, 5 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, and 9 c. water.  Simply combine all the ingredients in the crock pot, and cook it on high for 8 hours.  Periodically give it a stir, adding more water if necessary.  Once it is done cooking, drain the beans, reserving the water.  Mash the beans with a potato masher, or in a food processor if you like a smoother texture.  Add the reserved water as needed to achieve the desired texture.

I made the beans the day before, froze half, and kept the other half in the refrigerator overnight.  I then simply fried them in the skillet the next day, and melted some cheese over them because I don't have enough calories in my life.

For the carnitas, the recipe called for 4 lbs. of pork shoulder, but I just used half of a pork loin that I had in the freezer.  I only cook for three normally, so I can get away with that!  I also had enough left over for another meal, so I made it into BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.  Anyhoo, make a rub for the pork using 1 tsp. each of salt, garlic powder, and cumin; 1/2 tsp. each of oregano and coriander; and 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon.  I was out of coriander, so I added an extra 1/2 tsp of cumin, and used crushed garlic (4 cloves worth) instead of garlic powder.  Rub this all over the meat.  Before putting the meat in the crock pot, lay two bay leave in the bottom of the pot, then place the meat on top.  Then pour 2 c. of chicken broth along the sides of the meat, being careful not to rinse the rub off of the meat.  Cook it on low for 5 hours, turn it over, then cook for another 5 hours, or until the meat will shred easily with a fork.  I shredded it in the crock pot so the broth would keep the meat moist.

I served this up with the refried beans, and made some Vigo brand (insert Ghostbusters joke here) rice to go with it.  I had originally planned to make homemade tortillas to go with it, but ran out of time.  The recipe is also on OAMM's website.

Weeks 9-12 are as follows: coffee, movie/book inspired, breakfast, and cheese.  Bannon isn't a coffee fan (so uncivilized!), so I suspect I'll be doing next week's challenge.  I'm really excited for the movie/book inspired week-Harry Potter or LotR?  My life is full of difficult choices.

Speaking of choices, we want to choose you--to win some tea from Revolution Teas!!  Bannon and I did our first review this weekend, and tried 6 different teas.  We also have tea to give away!  Our review will post on Monday, and we'll be announcing winners on Friday.  Don't let this one pass you by-this stuff is amazing!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

52 Weeks of Cooking Week 7: Love Inspired Cooking

 by Bannon

Love inspired cooking.  What was I going to make for love inspired cooking?  The only thing my kids were begging for on Valentines Day was red milk.  Reddit gave a very wide category this week so I was having a hard time coming up with something I considered love inspired.  Then one night I saw in the refrigerator a can of crescent rolls and remembered a recipe I saw on Pinterest for smores crescents and I knew I had found my recipe.  To most women chocolate = love.

These were super simple to make.  Just preheat the oven to what the package directions say on the crescent rolls.  Separate the rolls and place a few chocolate chips and a few marshmallows on each roll.  Then roll them up like a standard crescent roll taking care to keep the marshmallows and chocolate inside. 

Pop them into the oven, I think they cooked for 12 minutes.  I followed the crescent roll package directions again.

When they came out I saw the one flaw I made.  I should have closed off the ends of the crescent rolls a bit better to try to keep the marshmallows in because they melted right out.

But in the end it really didn't matter because they tasted really, really good.  Simple to make too and kids would love to help make these as well.


I have to say I ignored the 52 weeks challenge the past two weeks due to illness and work but I wanted to let you know what I did.  Two weeks ago was the alcohol challenge and I went super simple and made bratwurst in beer.  The kids and I were sick most that week so I was not into doing anything related to cooking challenges or blogs. 

Last week I did complete the Brazilian challenge but I didn't get around to posting it.  The husband thought it was a bit bland and needed more onion.  I thought it was nice and light.

Brazilian White Rice

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups hot water
  • Place the rice in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water; set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion in the oil for one minute. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown. Add the rice and salt and cook and stir until the rice begins to brown. Pour hot water over rice mixture and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover the saucepan, and allow to simmer until the water has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oxy Clean and a craft, at last!

Here's the last of what I owe from January!  Now, I do have a confession regarding the craft.  I had said I was going to show you a cheap way to dress up your throw pillows.  Well...I didn't do it.  The idea of hauling out the sewing machine, going to the craft store to get bobbins and whatnot for it, and actually making the time to it seemed too overwhelming.  So I'm tabling it until a later date, preferably one in which I'm home alone in a sparkling house for an entire weekend, where the only people I see will either be one of the cast members of Downton Abbey, or will be the delivery guy from the local Chinese restaurant.  So I did something else instead, which was not nearly as exciting, but it at least was practical.

Here's the Oxy Clean recipe.  You can either make it as needed to use as a soak, or you can use it in a spray bottle.  The mixture is 2 parts water, 1 part hydrogen peroxide, and 1 part of either baking soda OR washing soda.  I had great results from either, but found the baking soda to not play well with a spray bottle.  If you want to use a spray bottle for it, make sure it's a dark colored bottle.  I just recycled an actual Oxy Clean spray bottle, which is a lovely dark blue.  If you make it as needed for a soak, just repurpose a jar with a tight fitting lid, so you can shake it together.  I used it as a treatment on a blanket that Jeffrey had spilled chocolate milk on, and it got it out with no problems at all.  Yes, I give my child the occasional dose of chocolate milk.  He also eats green beans like they're french fries, thinks salmon with dill is tasty, and wants his own salad at dinner.  :-)

My craft made me feel like I was back in Girl Scouts, but I wanted some pretty hot pads to coordinate with my springtime table linens.  So I founds some coordinating fabric pieces in my craft stash, and cut them into 1" wide strips.  I then braided them into a rope that was maybe 3 feet long.  Then I simply wrapped it around itself so it formed a flat, circular mat, stitching it into place as I went.  My final step was to stitch a piece of felt onto the bottom, and voila!  A craft the mother of any 8 year old girl would love.  I know it sounds small and silly, but the braiding was kind of therapeutic.  I intend to hand wash or spot treat it as necessary, but that's because the material I used isn't machine washable.

Next post will have this week's "love" themed recipe, and look for birthday party pic spam, wibbles about my baby's first day of preschool, DIY laundry supplies, and (my favorite) our first review and giveaway!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Productive Day That Wasn't

Today the kids had off from school for teacher meetings.  I had all these plans ready: cleaning up around the house a bit, laundry and the kids and I were going to try our hand at making homemade fortune cookies from scratch for tomorrow's parent-teacher conferences.  Last week I had found a simple enough looking recipe for them on Pinterest (look here for it) and was really looking forward to trying it.

Then life stepped in.

This morning the four of us were sitting around talking when I noticed that one of my older son's teeth was almost completely pink.  After getting closer there seemed to be a chip in the tooth and he then said that he had been eating around that area for a week because it hurt.

So instead of doing fun things with the kids today I got to go to the dentist.  It wasn't the end of the world because since he had the day off anyways the kid didn't have to miss school.  The dentist was able to take the chip off that tooth fairly easily and since it's a baby tooth we don't have to worry about what it looks like.

But when it was all said and done the last thing I wanted to do was go back home and spend what was left of the day baking fortune cookies.  So we stopped in to the local Asian market to buy prepackaged fortune cookies for the teachers tomorrow.  I know they will still like them but it would be nice if a day could go the way I want it to sometimes.

-- Bannon

Monday, February 13, 2012

Venting, booze, and bananas

Hello, all!  Kerry here...feeling very ashamed for letting the blog go for so long.  I'm going to vent a bit about what's been going on in my life over the past couple of weeks, not to spread drama, but because I need to get it out somewhere.

One of my sisters and her husband are divorcing.  They have children that we are very close to-I actually watch them after school every day.  It's been hard to watch a relationship between two people I love fall apart.  I understand the reasons why, and I support them, but I do feel badly for them all.  Especially the girls-they have been remarkably strong and positive through all of this, but occasionally one of them will crack, and you can see the pain and fear when that happens.  It breaks my heart.  There isn't much we can do for any of them besides be there, and we're doing the best we can.  We have an open door policy for them, and as a result, we have house guests more often than usual.  That makes me happy, because I can make sure everyone is in a safe, loving place, even if it's just for a little while.  It does worry me, but I try to keep it to myself, or simply share it with Jeff (I've never felt right calling him Big Dude, so that's done!).  They are family to us, no matter what, and we want to be there for them.

In other news, we're getting ready for Little Dude's birthday party this weekend.  He's three tomorrow!  Where has my baby gone?  He'll also be starting preschool on the 21st, where he'll be able to receive more challenging therapy along with the socialization and normal activities that a preschool brings.  We went today to see his classroom and meet his teacher.  LD seemed happy with it all.  So Bannon is going to be my support group next week and go with me to take him on his first day of preschool.  She's such an amazing friend!

Now that things are a bit calmer here, let me get caught up on my promised, very late posts.  This one will focus on the 52 Weeks of Cooking challenge.  I still owe recipes for the beer/wine/spirits challenge, and the Brazilian challenge.  To save a bit of time, I'm going to link to the first recipe.  I made the Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pot Roast.  The only changes I made were to use more red wine than she called for in the deglazing step, and I used a spice mix from North Market Spices called English Rub instead of the herbs PW used.  It was very tasty and tender, and I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!  Go check out the recipe-Ree Drummond is my blogger/cooking heroine, and I think everyone should know about her!

The recipe for Brazilian week was simple, but oh-so-good...Banana Frita com Canela e Acucar, also known as fried bananas with cinnamon sugar.  Simply peel your bananas (one per person is a good guess) and slice them in half lengthwise.  Fry them in 1-2T of butter (depending on how many you're making), browning first one side, then the other.  Once they are golden brown, sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar and serve them hot.  A side of vanilla ice cream isn't really authentic, but it's good!

Now that I'm getting back on track, next post will be the Oxy Clean and craft for January, then we'll be ready for this week's cooking challenge-a love inspired dish!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A quick, stressful note from Kerry

Just letting you all know that I know I'm behind.  We're having some serious family issues, and my time/attention has been diverted elsewhere.  I'm hoping to get back on track this week.  I know I now owe posts for this week's cooking challenge (cooking with booze!), January's craft, and January's DIY Oxy Clean.  Just bear with me, please!