Monday, September 29, 2014

Lazy Girl Gnocchi

There's definitely a legit, old school, traditional way to make gnocchi. Friends, this is NOT a tutorial on how to do so! I'm positive that there are several really good Italian girl blogs that share their nonna's passed down recipe.  This is my lazy girl / busy mama / using all the leftovers recipe for gnocchi. Take what you will, but I promise that it's a delicious way to use your leftover mashed potatoes for a new meal that your family will love!

Gnocchi is a versatile dish. You can serve it with your favorite red sauce, or make a delicious pan sauce with the meat that you are cooking that night and pour it over gnocchi as a side. On this night I experimented with making an Alfredo style sauce with lemon essences, which needs some tweaking. A couple summers ago I shared a Gnocchi Mac n Cheese recipe that I found on Pinterest, which uses Gruyere, Fontina and Parmesan. Delish. Truth be told, that was my first pin ever. You know how you remember your first CD? Well, I guess I won't be forgetting my first pin either!

This recipe will make enough for 2 adults. If you have more mashed potatoes or want to make extra to freeze, just follow the ratio of 2 cups of flour : 1 cup of mashed potatoes.

You will need:
1 cup of leftover mashed potatoes (it's ok if you seasoned them with cream, sour cream, salt / pepper, whatevs. Again, this isn't traditional gnocchi so everything goes!)
~2 cups of flour
1 egg yolk

You will do:
1. Make a little volcano of mashed potatoes on your work surface. Dump your yolk into the crater.
2. Work the yolk into the potatoes using your hands.
3. Add 1/2 c of flour at a time, working the flour into the dough. You might not use all of the flour, it just depends on the consistency of your potatoes. Continue to add flour until your dough is firm but not hard. Keep your hands and working surface well floured to avoid sticky dough.
4. Divide the dough into quarters and roll each piece into a log, about the width of your finger.
5. Cut 1/2" long pieces (perfection is not necessary).
6. Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
7. Using a fork, gently roll each piece up the fork to create the trademark indentations. Keeping your fork floured will help prevent the gnocchi from sticking to it. Fun fact: the ridges on gnocchi are there to hold sauce to the noodle better. All pasta noodles were developed with different shapes to compliment the type of sauce they are served with. You can freeze them on a floured cookie sheet at this point for later use.
8. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and wait for them to float, should be about 2 minutes.
9. Scoop them out and allow them to drain.
10. Most people top them with their favorite sauce at this point, but I like to give them a quick pan fry in a bit of olive oil to give them a slightly crispy side.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Currently (vol 3)

Thinking about // Christmas and the holiday season. Already. Yep. The weeks are counting down and it always amazes me with just how busy we are. I think it happens once every 8 weeks or so when we have a weekend that we don't do anything. It's always a house project or family event that we're spending out weekends doing. So I've already pulled out the calendar and have started planning our next quarter. Who's birthday is when, sending out feelers for parties, coordinating the holidays and all the fun stuff that accompanies that. Scheduling weekends where we stay home for projects and scheduling weekends for REST.

Watching // We started Once Upon A Time (now that we've finished Orange is the New Black) and I'm intrigued. Last week the girls and I fell victim to an awful cold and we spent the week watching the entirety of our Disney Princess Collection - aka 3 movies. Frozen, Tangled and The Princess and The Frog. That set a fire under me to start adding more of my favorites to our collection, which started with The Lion King. And I realized that even 20 years later (OH GAWD I AM OLD) I know each and every line.

Thankful for //
my seriously blessed life. This morning as I was playing with Ruby before Penny woke up, I thought about just how giving and generous God has been to me. I have an amazingly supporting family and in-laws, an honorable, hardworking and loving husband, a beautiful home that we are crafting together and my two daughters. When I was pregnant with Ruby I prayed so hard for a second daughter (but of course, no matter what I knew I'd be happy). And this wish, all these wishes and dreams, have been granted. It blew me away as I mentally checked off all these blessings in my life and made me think about how I can turn this around and bring more glory to Him.

Enjoying // my sister-in-law, Molly. This week we've spend 2 (tomorrow will be 3) mornings processing apples that we picked a couple weeks ago to make applesauce and pie filling. We've been in each other's lives for a short time but I'm truly enjoying getting to know her beyond family gatherings. She's an awesome mom, a great listener and I'm enjoying learning more about her and becoming closer friends.

Photographing // Myself - which is RARE. This morning as I was brushing my hair I realized that my bangs are too long. My mom normally cuts them for me, but with her in Germany for the next two years I came to the conclusion that now is the time to learn. I cut Adam's hair and so why not learn how to cut my own. So I did it. I trimmed my bangs. And it wasn't so bad.


Instagram Me.
Making me happy // the transition into fall. I'm burning candles, planning better meals, cleaning the house, sorting and purging clothes for the upcoming JBF sale. And pulling out what Penny calls my "cozy clothes" (sweat shirts, yoga pants and socks).

Loving // the rain. No kidding. I'm a Washington girl, through and through. I've been loving the sound of cars driving over wet pavement, rain throughout the night and early morning fog on my drive to Molly's for more apple peeling. I know I'll be complaining come February, but I love the clean feeling after a long time without good rain.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Benefits of Pretend Play + Giveaway

Have you ever given it a second thought that your child pretending or dressing up actually has psychological benefits and reasons? Great Pretenders, a children's costume and dress-up company, opened up the discussion with me regarding how children playing dress up actually helps promote their development and is more than simply 'just playing.' Read Kate's 5 reasons why pretend play benefits children and check out a fun giveaway we have in store!
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Children learn by imagining and doing. The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas. Dress-up play is vital to a child’s development. According to licensed child psychologist Dr. Laurie Zelinger, “It fosters the imaginative processes, and allows for play without rules or script. Dress up allows for experimentation, role play and fantasy.“

Major benefits include:

Social and Emotional Skills

Dress up allows for experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. Through cooperative play, children learn societal rules such as how to take turns, share responsibility, and creatively problem-solve. Character play means that the child is "walking in someone else's shoes" and it encourages teamwork along with an interest in peers. The child also learns to negotiate which helps teach the important moral development skill of empathy. Since children see the world form their own point of view, cooperative play helps them understand the feelings of others. 

Language Skills

When children engage in pretend play, you will hear words and phrases you never thought they knew. Pretend play requires children to invent and tell stories and since almost all children narrate their pretend play experiences, they train their minds to transform ideas into words. Children usually mimic words and ideas from parents, teachers, daycare or what they hear on TV. This repetition builds vocabulary and helps kids visualize what they say, especially when adults offer feedback to help kids better understand the words they use. This also helps with grammar – they may not know the rules but they are training themselves to speak like adults. This also helps make the connection between spoken and written language — a skill that will later help them to read.

Self-Control

Young kids typically have little self-control. During pretend play, children have to take a role and play within those boundaries, especially when other kids are involved. Studies show that children control their impulses significantly better during pretend play than at other times. Did you ever wonder why parents often make up a game to get their children to eat their vegetables or finish chores? Transforming an unappealing task into a make-believe game is a popular trick among clever parents and educators.

Problem Solving Skills

Pretend play also provides your child with a variety of problems to solve. Whether it’s the logistics of sharing toys or a pretend problem the children are escaping from, the child calls upon important cognitive thinking skills that he will use in every aspect of his life, now and forever. Role playing games lead children to face situations that far exceed kids' real-life experiences. Children work out confusing, scary, or new life issues. Through these role plays, children become more comfortable and prepared for life events in a safe way. Children often use pretend play to work out more personal challenging life events too, whether it is coping with an illness in the family, the absence of a parent or divorce, or a house fire. Although kids may not always act logically during tough pretend dilemmas, the very process of problem solving becomes habitual. By practicing problem solving in an artificial environment, kids are better prepared to think of creative solutions to their own real-life problems.

Self-esteem

By giving your child complete control in their pretend world and accepting them as a silly character, you are enhancing their self-esteem. While they use their own initiative to develop story lines, their creative imagination to expand stories and their own personality to choose a character they enjoy, you are enhancing their self-esteem by allowing them complete power in the world & enjoying it with them. Take for example superheroes. Considering the thrill children get out of pretending to be a grown-up, it's no wonder that they're also crazy about mimicking the most powerful version of adults: superheroes. Pretending to be Batman or Wonder Woman allows a toddler to feel brave and invincible, which helps them develop self-confidence. Similarly, all that running and leaping keeps them active and builds strength, balance, and coordination.

-Kate Muddiman, Creative Director, Great Pretenders

“Confidence is brought about in children by the realization that they have the ability to be anybody they want in this life and accomplish anything they desire. Our goal at Great Pretenders is to help kids achieve that level of confidence and to start young” 
--
"Surely pretend play has many benefits for child development but one of the main things is that it’s also FUN for parents and for children! It’s a great bonding experience, especially when you participate in your child’s make believe world." 


Great Pretenders offers a variety of quality childrens dress up costumes and accessories - perfect for Halloween and every day play! Today I'm excited to offer one Pierogie Mama reader the opportunity to win a Fancy Nancy dress (ARV $35 CDN). Check out the giveaway widget below and cross your fingers!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Great Pretenders. All opinions expressed as my own. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

My First Day of College + giveaway

This post was sponsored by Goodnessknows snack squares
which are pretty much my go-to snack now!

Here's the story of my first night in college. 

I lived in the dorms and was so relieved that I was rooming with my good friend from high school. She and I had sat next together in band from 7th grade - 12th grade, she played flute and tenor sax, I was on bari sax. Yep, I've been ousted - I'm a bonafide band geek. I even majored in music for my first year in college.

Anywhoo, I've always been the kind of person who can't sleep when I'm anticipating something great. And my first day of college, without a doubt, was meant to be great. So Stepha (short for Stephanie; the nickname came from the jazz song we played "Stella by Starlight") got top bunk, I got bottom bunk. I kept my sax case next to my bed, I guess there wasn't space under it. 


I tossed and turned. This was a weird bed, a weird room. The bed was a extra long twin, or whatever is standard in the dorms, and the mattress was beat. I was incredibly spoiled because I slept on a king sized bed at home, so I was extra paranoid about moving around because I knew I had a lot less space. So all night I worried about the next day, tossed and turned, worried that I would embarrass myself and fall out of the bed. Finally relief came and I passed out.

6:00a came with a beep beep beep as my alarm started going off, letting me know that it was time to get up and trudge my way over to Music Theory 101. The least exciting and most difficult class that I would take that year. Normally alarm clocks don't bother me, I wake up and can just turn them off. I was a morning person back then. That morning however, maybe it was the fact that I got no sleep and the little sleep that I did get I was dreaming about random scenarios that would prevent me from making it to class on time or somehow embarrassing myself in front of everyone, the alarm clock did scare me and I woke up with a start and found myself flying out of the bed, knocking over the sax case and falling into the middle of the room, all tangled up in sheets and everything else within a 2 foot perimeter. Good thing my roommate already knew me, otherwise that would have been even more awkward!

Freshman year
So that's my first day of school (well, one of the 17 first days of school I had, I suppose). What's your embarrassing first day of school story? 

These days I'm snacking on goodnessknows snack squares, which are pretty delish and are a snack that I can share with my toddler (if I feel like sharing, which in this case I really don't want to!).

goodnessknows packs a delicious punch of 150 calories, 2-3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. You can find them in 3 great tasting flavors: 

• Very Cranberry – Roasted almonds and rolled oats get a hint of natural sweetness from tangy-sweet cranberries. 

• Nutty Apple – Crunchy peanuts, roasted almonds and tangy apples are the perfect combination for snack time, a treat post-meal or during a favorite indoor or outdoor activity. 

• Peachy Cherry – Sweet peaches and cherries accompanied by wholesome roasted almonds and deep chocolate blend to create a satisfying crunch.   (My favorite!)

Connect with goodnessknows 

goodnessknows® snack squares are only available in stores in Denver, Boulder, Portland, Seattle, and Dallas but can also be purchased online at http://goodnessknows.cocoavia.com/

But wait! There's more! Follow the prompts below and you can enter to win a goodnessknows® gift pack that includes: a branded backpack, towel, and water bottle + a box of goodnessknows® snack squares, and coupon for $1.00 off a box of goodnessknows® snack squares. ARV of prize pack = $50. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. 




Disclosure: This post was written as part of One2One Network's Goodness Knows Snack Squares Social campaign.  All opinions and thoughts about frozen treats are my own.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

JBF Everett Fall 2014 Consignment Recap

Did you miss it? Read my 4 tips on how to prepare to shop a JBF sale!
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Each time I shop at the Just Between Friends of Everett consignment sale I am amazed at how quickly this event grows. I first shopped at Eunice's event in Spring 2013 and each time the rows and rows of clothes and toys just grows and explodes! I love shopping at JBF sales because I'm always able to snag such great deals, find items that are well taken care of and you'll get a mix of current and past fashions. Personally I like shopping past fashions because then my children aren't dressed exactly like every other little girl who's parents picked up their fall wardrobe from the local department store. 

So what did I snag at this sale? Well, this time around I got a preview of what awaits at the sale because I am consigning (for the first time!) and also volunteered 8 hours. I got to see what other consignors had brought when I went to drop off my items and because of my volunteer time I got to shop the pre-sale at 1:30 today! Like a secret agent, I walked through the aisles during consignor drop off and made little mental notes of what I wanted to snag the following day. The #1 thing on my list was this fun pop up circus tent and guess what..

Amazeballs, right? ;)

Let me delve further into my JBF winnings.

2 knit sweater bundle $4 // Cinderella dress up $5 // Princess dress up $2
// Pottery Barn piggy bank $4 // Christmas jammies #2
Oh, and you know how JBF is typically known for it being geared towards maternity, baby and kid? Well, while dropping off our consignment items, my husband did a little perusing too. He found a really cool car model (which, being the vehicle engineer he is, meant I got to endure learn about how this specific Porsche sets itself apart from all other Porsche 911s and how it's a really desirable car..yadada..) and it was $8. You know how sometimes at the store you buy a small toy for your child just to appease her? That just happened, grown up style. ;)


Anywhoo, the JBF Everett Fall Sale was tons of fun and there are many many wonderful items that I've left behind for you to snag up. You're welcome. I instagrammed a few items during the pre-sale, and I'll be back for the 1/2 off sale to pick up some extra good specials too!

Friday 9/12/14
9a-7p Public Sale Day 1, $2 Admission Fee or Get a Free Admit Pass

Saturday 9/13/14
9a-5p Public Sale Day 2, new items have arrived, FREE ADMISSION
530p-7p 1/2 Price EARLY BIRD SHOPPING $2 Open to public, Free Admit Passes not accepted Buy Tickets

Sunday 9/14/14
8a-1p 1/2 Price Public Sale, many items 50% OFF, FREE ADMISSION

Located at The Evergreen State Fairgrounds (14405 179th Ave SE, Monroe, WA 98272) 

Follow along on instagram:
#jbfeverett

Be social.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by JBF Everett. All opinions expressed are my own.

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