My mom adventures in Fort Collins


Kitchen success: Easy lettuce-less delight salad

Before I begin to share this simple, fresh and tastes-like-summer salad, I’d like to share that right now I’m typing this in the dark from the floor of my husband’s office and it’s about 800 degrees in here. Why? Well, the other day my dog, who has a chronic OCD licking problem and thus must be collared with the cone of shame every day of his life, walked into my cord for my computer. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if my computer hadn’t been perched at the end of the kitchen table and a mere 4 feet from the electrical outlet. Thud. I was actually amazed that my puny little netbook continued to go on as if it hadn’t missed a beat.  Of course, much later I realized that the wireless was all goofed up. Cory took a look at it, took it apart, and figures that the wireless card became dislodged in some manner. He tells me it’s hopeless, and I am the dutiful wife of a software engineer and thus I must stand by my man and say: “Ethernet cord for me.” This wouldn’t be such a big deal either, except my husband works from home so until I find a 40 foot cord that will accommodate my need to be wired and his need for a functional office, I will be here in the “off hours.” I’m on the floor only due to sheer lazyness. And it’s 800 degrees because I haven’t opened the windows after all the mosquito spraying that they did around here tonight (hmm… pesticides or West Nile Virus? I guess if I’d have to pick, I’d say pesticides are the less annoying of the pair).

Onto the salad. I find that it’s more fun if you pronounce it SA-ladddd. Like “salon” but with a “d” sound at the end. It’s even more fun if you say this while wearing an ascot and a smoking jacket, but I digress. (Again.)

Ingredients:

2-4 tomatoes (depending on the size), coarsely chopped

1 avocado, coarsely chopped

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1-2 Tablespoons red onion, finely chopped

salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

fresh cilantro, chopped (to taste, but I suggest a Tablespoon)

lime juice (to taste)

You got your summer fresh deliciousness just waiting for the coarse chopping to begin

This–with the exception of the avocado–was all from our garden. Yay for gardens, but boo for the darn drought because all of our pepper plants died (otherwise we could add those to our lettuce-less delight as well!).

After you chop everything, just toss all the ingredients in a bowl and dress with a few squeezes of lime juice. Divide into portions. OR, you can even serve this like a chunky dip with tortilla chips, or as a fun condiment for burgers or grilled chicken sandwiches.

I will say this for the salad–I personally like to leave the tomatoes chunked with seeds and juices because I find that the juices pair well with the lime juice, salt and the creaminess of the avocado to create a bit of a dressing to the salad. That being said, it can get pretty darn juicy. If you’d like, seed and discard the innards of half of the tomatoes.

Also, I think I’m getting a new camera for my anniversary–shh! Don’t tell him I figured it out–so I’m hoping to greatly improve on my sad little photo commentary. I think this blurry photo DOES actually look like a tantalizing treat, but that’s because I was there and I know for a fact that it WAS a tantalizing treat. But I’d be delighted if you take my word for it!

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Local Color: The Gardens on Spring Creek

I am embarrassed to say that it took me two years to finally check this one off my list! When we first moved here, I had heard such great things about the gardens–not only the flowers and vegetables, but also the different programs that are available for kids and the entire family. We went to the gardens on a random weekday, and it was so much fun.

The Gardens on Spring Creek are essentially free, but they do recommend a donation. Without a doubt, the highlight for us was the children’s area. My kids loved the koi pond (you can pet the fish!), the Dr. Seuss house, the watering cans and all the fabulous areas to water.  There are lovely vegetable gardens and it’s fun to show the kids what/where/how stuff grows. There is even a huge set-up for cooking classes with an outdoor kitchen. We packed a snack in, paid a few dollars to a good cause, and easily spent an hour running around the gardens. What a fun place! You can even rent space here for weddings, parties or other events. I could see this being a fantastic birthday party spot.

Scout outside the tall watering can, with the smaller real-life watering can

Ruby at the decked-out piano

The gateway to the kids’ garden is heralded by some board-short wearing stick dudes

Scout in the Seuss house

Yep, I’d say we give the Gardens on Spring Creek a big thumbs up!



It’s unintentional, I swear

My girl, ever the feisty fashionista, decides she wants a haircut. Because she wants her hair to look like her friend, who has an adorable ‘bob.’

So, here’s what happened…

My Scout

The Scout who inspired her name, from the film adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” (found on www1.ccs.k12.in.us)

It’s only a matter of time before she finds Boo Radley hiding in the corner, don’t you think?



Wisdom from my Mom
August 22, 2012, 10:46 am
Filed under: Family, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , ,

After hoping to leave the house and take the kids on a scooter ride (meanwhile running an errand to the post office), we still hadn’t left the house an hour later.

Here’s a quick email that I shot off to my mom.

To: Mom

From: Jayme

Sent: 10:16 AM

Subject: [no subject]

We still haven’t left the house. And I’m thinking that I will just go to the post office by myself later.
Why is it that on the days when I throw caution to the wind and we all laze about or do whatever the kids want, I thoroughly enjoy my kids, yet on the days where I want to clean, get something accomplished or need to leave the house at a certain time, I am filled with agitation?

And her reply:

To: Jayme

From: Mom

Sent: 10:18 AM

Subject: Re:

Think it’s called MOTHERHOOD!  Nothing ever goes as scheduled, well, almost nothing.

There you have it.



Reflections on the homemade dinner

My mother has this annoying adorable habit of sending me clippings. It started, if I recall correctly, when she would send me packages in college. The care package would be filled to the brim with lovely sundries such as Twizzlers and Skittles and new slippers, but lurking somewhere in the box would be the Newspaper Clipping. In the past, my least favorite of these clippings would be the ones from our local hometown newspaper (usually the Sunday announcement section) which would reveal the engagements, the occasional underage drinking tickets and numerous Dean’s List honors of my former high school classmates. She has continued through the years, but now it is mainly recipes or cute parenting articles. The newspaper clippings now arrive with coupons for Pull-Ups and the yogurt that she knows my kids love. In the best of these envelopes full of clippings, there is the article that does make me smile, smirk, laugh and think. Recently, I reviewed my piles of paper scattered all over the house and found this gem written by Katy McLaughlin of the Wall Street Journal.

The essay is McLaughlin’s tale of how she home cooks–from scratch–many different items, saving her family money and giving them a gourmet experience. Yet, she described her husband’s aversion to this lifestyle. Why? She thought she was giving her family a gift, but her husband saw it as sometimes infringing on their time as a family. While she busied herself in the kitchen for long periods of time, her husband would have to referee between their two boys.

While I cannot personally identify with everything she says–I for one have never made homemade yogurt and I can attest to ordering pizza more than once–I can understand the dinnertime drama that sometimes surrounds your best laid plans. As a mother, I despise the “witching hour” (the time around dinner when the kids seem to fall apart at the seams), and yet it never fails that the night I want to make a decent dinner for my family is precisely the night that by the time dinner is served everyone is spent and barely a crumb is touched.

A photo of “Christmas Dinner” last year–I purposely only made food that the kids would eat. Thank goodness they like ham! (And so do we.)

This is part of the reason why my family went out to dinner for Thanksgiving last year. Yes, we went out for dinner. I didn’t love the experience, but I justified it by the fact that I disliked the idea of going out for Thanksgiving dinner less than I disliked the idea of cooking for hours only to have barely anyone enjoy it. So, the four of us traipsed down to a hotel and enjoyed glass elevator rides between munches of turkey and mashed potatoes.

The girls enjoying their dinner at the hotel. I believe the word “fancy” was used more than once.

What I’m saying is this: Yes, there IS a price to be paid for a family dinner. I personally love any meal that will feed my family for days. We just recently ate homemade chicken noodle soup for three nights in a row. Whenever possible, I try to do my prep work earlier in the day. I try to use my crock pot whenever possible. And any meal that requires constant stirring (risotto and polenta come to mind), well, these meals must be handled delicately. I tell my hubby in advance on risotto night so that he can come rescue me earlier than usual. Wine also helps with the dinner-time issues (at least for me it does!).

Around here it seems I am constantly stressing to Cory that going out to eat has a huge benefit for me. Going out means that I don’t have to cook and I don’t have to clean up. Because he is a sweet man, he will say things like, “Why would we go out to eat when you cook such delicious food?” That’s when I remind him that his flattery, while kind, is an excuse for him not relieving me of what can sometimes be described as domestic drudgery. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely like cooking and I like taking care of my family. I just don’t love the exercise of cooking/dancing/putting someone in time-out/setting a pick/cutting vegetables/comforting a kiddo/setting the table/suggesting crayons and paper/stirring the pot/running out of paper towels and forgetting to write it on the list because someone needs me to help them ‘wipe.’ A true test of the Iron Chef would be to have the chefs surrounded by a floor full of Duplo blocks, a child slung on one hip and the small rubberized Polly Pocket clothing stuck to their feet.

Tell me, what are some tricks you’ve learned over the years? What are some suggestions that you have found helpful in your own quest to put dinner on the table?



Gettin’ Crafty: Super easy burpcloths
August 20, 2012, 8:12 am
Filed under: Crafting | Tags: , , , , ,

Two new burp cloths just hanging out on the sides of the rocker, waiting to be used. (But not by me! Nope, no “announcements” here!)

I love to sew, but I’m very bad at it and practically all-but-self-taught. I should definitely take another lesson, but it’s just been so much fun to mess around. I have several books, too, that help out with ideas and techniques. This idea originally came from a book that I got from the library, and I added the idea of “tags.” If you’ve never heard of the official name-brand Taggies products, you can see more of that here.

What you’ll need:

Matching rectangles of fabric: One in cotton and one in terrycloth (Size depends on you and what you’re going for, I made mine 12 x 18, but they are huge)

Scraps of ribbons, in a fabric that can hold up to the iron (polyester works well)

Sewing essentials like scissors, thread, sewing machine, a chopstick (or some other tool to turn your edges out), pencil, seam ripper (which I hope you don’t have to use) and your iron and ironing board.

Step 1: Pin your two rectangles together, right sides together. Pin in a few folded over scraps of ribbon. Leave a gap where you will turn the whole thing inside out.

Not the best photo, but I’m trying to show that you want to tuck the ribbon inside so that it will be on the outside when the finished product is turned right-side-out

For example, this is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Step 2: Sew the seams, remembering to leave the gap. Press your work, then turn it inside out. Use the chopsticks to help you turn out your corners.

Scout took this photo of me at the sewing machine

Here is the all-sewn-up deal

Here it is all turned right-side out, and I’ve tucked in the opening to match the seams. If you can picture it, it’s kinda like you’re going to make a pillow without stuffing it.

Step 3: Tuck the fabric in your opening in to match the remaining seam-line. Press this closed and pin if you wish. Now you will top-stitch the entire burpcloth. If you wish to have contrasting or matching thread, be mindful of that here. After top-stitching, press the whole thing and clip your threads and YOU’RE DONE!

Voila! The finished burpcloth: green terry on one side, cut little monkeys on the other and tags for the kiddo to suck on. HA!

So easy, right? The whole project will take you less than an hour, and they make adorable gifts.

I love the project so much, I made two right away–one blue and one green.



Whoops! An addendum to my list of favorite blogs
August 19, 2012, 5:58 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Just making conversation | Tags: ,

So, the only problem with a love-fest (read this) is that inevitably I leave a beloved one out. And I never ever mean to, I swear! (I am having a flashback to an awards ceremony at the college I attended where I was supposed to speak on behalf of my staff–and I totally forgot to mention someone. I felt awful for days.)

So, here goes another one:

Roses in the Rubble. This is the story of Virginia and her inspiration-laden life. When she’s not recounting awesome memories of her life and work abroad, or painting a picture of her life as caretaker for her two parents, then she’s posting amazing photos that live in the archive of her life. More than once, I’ve been inspired by her posts, photos and her quotes.

I hope to offer up lots more bloggie love fests in the future.