Monday, February 25, 2013

A house update...

This weekend is going to be a marathon weekend of sorts.. we are throwing Penny's first birthday party and then moving the following day.

So about 3 months ago we settled into renting the house that we had an offer on and ever since have been battling with the bank (the house is on its way to foreclosure) to get a price locked in. About a month ago Adam and I finally decided that enough is enough; it's clear that we are not going to come to terms on a price that works for us. We weren't terribly heartbroken because there's been a few things that have come to light that have left us a little disenchanted with this house. Such as ... a failing septic system. And weird electrical issues. To sort of cement our plans into place, we decided that we're hightailing it out of Dodge and Adam is looking to transfer to Paccar's technical center in Mount Vernon.  Housing is much more affordable, it seems like there is a ton more available on the market (houses and land), we'll be closer to his family and we both love the northern part of Washington state, as we met and fell in love in Bellingham.

In the meantime, since obviously he hasn't secured a new position yet, we will be renting our friend's house about 5 miles from where we live now for the next 6ish months.  This buys us a little time for Adam to apply / accept a new position and also keep an eye out for the next house that we will move into. And live in for the next 500 years (fingers crossed). This will be our 3rd move in 1 1/2 years.

I was looking through some of our boxes o' stuff and realized that I haven't even seen some of these things in almost 3 years. Makes me want to purge all of our stuff in a really bad way. Obviously we've done just fine without it, and yet we still break out backs moving it around.

Anywho.. So that's what is going on for the next couple weeks, in case you were wondering why it was all quiet over in The Pierogie Mama land ;)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

11.5 months

What is up with me forgetting to commemorate Penny's monthly milestones?? You can bet that I won't forget the big one in less than two weeks..

So here's a quick catch up of what's been going on in the last 6 weeks:

  • Faves: scrambled eggs with Feta, pears, Happy Family pouches
  • Not so faves: oatmeal, acorn squash, green beans
 New skills:
  • Uhm, WALKING! Although she took her first steps right after Christmas, we now have a 100% walking toddler. 
  • Loves to carry things around, like her (my) stuffed kitty or packages of Ramen (?)
  • Tries to play ball with Squirt! It is the sweetest thing! Or she'll just try to stick it straight in his mouth.
  • Standing on top of things, crawling up and down the stairs
  • Loves, loves, loves books. She'll turn the pages and "read out loud" to us too. 
  • Kisses her baby doll and other toys.
  • At the end of January her top two teeth popped through
  • On Monday her right lateral incisor made its debut
  • Currently working on getting the left one out, which seems to be a lot harder than the other one. Lots of snot and very little sleep for mama and baby :(

Baked Spaghetti Pizza


Yea, I went there. 

I've combined two of America's favorite dinners into one. Spaghetti and Pizza.

I came across this idea through Pinterest..Of course, there just aren't any unique ideas out there anymore, are there?

Einstein, Pinterest was obviously a glimmer in your eye long before 2009.

Back to food.

To my credit, I don't think I've ever found a recipe for calzone style baked spaghetti. This recipe features home made pizza dough vs using store bought frozen bread dough. It made a big difference.

It's a great way to A) feed a bunch of people B) feed two people to the point of a food induced coma or C) use left over spaghetti.. which lets face it, doesn't happen too often. At least not in my house. I think my husband was Italian in a previous life. He will eat pasta 8 nights a week if I let him ;)

You will need:
Basic Pizza Dough
Corn meal
1/2 package of spaghetti noodles, cooked all dente and drained
Pasta sauce (I recently discovered Safeway's O organic roasted garlic sauce.. So surprisingly good!)
Shredded Parmesan cheese
2 T of melted butter
1/4 t of garlic salt
Preheat oven to 375°F

*Note: This recipe makes a loaf that can be shared between two people. You'll have left over pizza dough, which you can use to make more baked spaghetti pizza or refrigerate and make your own pizzas later!

You will do:
1. Prepare the pizza dough ahead of time. It will need to rise for about 90 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
2. Combine your cooked spaghetti noodles with pasta sauce, using however much sauce you normally use.
3. Divide the pizza dough into two pieces. On a floured surface, roll out one half into a rectangle, short side facing you. It should be roughly 18 - 24 inches long.

4. Sprinkle corn meal onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
5. Transfer the rectangle onto the parchment paper or stone.
6. Carefully dump the spaghetti onto the dough so that it is roughly in the center 1/3 of the dough.

7. Top with the shredded cheese, to your liking. The cheesier the better!
8. Using a knife or kitchen scissors, cut horizontal strips up both of the long sides of the dough. They should be about 1 inch wide.
9. Fold each strip at a diagonal and alternate sides, so that it looks almost like a shoe-lace pattern. Tuck the ends of the loaf in.
10. Stir together the melted butter and garlic salt. Brush onto the top of the loaf.
11. Transfer into the preheated oven. If you are using a pizza stone, I slide the loaf with the parchment paper onto the stone so that the tomato sauce doesn't get all over it.
12. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until the dough has a good crust to it. I baked my first one for about 25 minutes and it was a little too much.
13. Remove from the oven and let cool! Cut into slices and serve.

Dress it up by adding your favorite spaghetti toppings (olives, mushrooms) or something you'd normally put on pizza. I wonder how pineapple would taste?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My FURST Baby's Birthday

Get it? First // Fur // baby?

Our old dog turns 13 today. I'd like to joke that we now have a teenager, but the reality is that it's more like having grandpa live at the house ;)

It's crazy to think about all that's happened in the last 13 years.

Too often we get those looks and gentle questions from particularly family members about "when it will be Romeo's time." Come on, don't you think I think about it every time I see him gingerly walk across our hardwood floor (you'd also see all of the rugs we have throughout the house for that very reason) or hear his gentle grumble as he settles himself down next to us. Or that it doesn't hurt to see that he doesn't even bother climbing the stairs anymore to sleep in our room with us? I see you, and I hear you, old dog. But you haven't told me that it's your time yet.

Don't we all get frail, cantankerous, near sighted, hard of hearing and particular when we get old? It just comes with the territory. Anyways, that was my little rant.

Even though he moves like molasses, there are still so many things that just light up that dog's eyes and perk up his solitary standing ear.


The word "cookie," or perhaps the hope of what is to come.

When either one of us comes home.

He's a faithful old man. The best dog ever.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Family Hike

This weekend we embarked on our first hike of the year!

While we lived in Washougal, our favorite hike nearby was Beacon Rock - the core of a dead volcano that was ~20 minutes from us. We loved that hike because it was close, had great views and a good work out during the week. So naturally when we moved, I set out to find our next family hiking area.

Wallace Falls has some of the best reviews for hikes in our county so I set it aside and waited for a good weekend to come up for us to venture out. We were a little worried at first because we heard that it might still have some snow - so we bundled everyone up.

Once we arrived we found the parking lot FULL of hiking groups - at least 2 large groups of high schoolers, several families and couples. So we knew that the terrain wouldn't be too bad.

The entire hike is 11 miles round trip with 1,200 ft in elevation gain to visit the lower and upper falls, but we decided only to make it up to the lower falls. which made it about a 5 mile round trip. We definitely could have made it all the way but wanted to have some relaxing time when we got home.

A few minutes into the hike we realized that this would be our new family hike that we could hit several times during the month. It starts along a power line trail and gently amps up the incline over a mile or so. You hike along a river and through misty old growth. Even though it was a busy day with lots of hikers and dogs, the sounds of the forest weren't overpowered. The river, birds and occasional small woodland creature could be heard scurrying through the pine needles.

Oh, and Squirt accompanied us as well.  Several times throughout the hike we stopped at a spring or along the river to let him have a drink. His response? Running full force into the water.. and I was reminded that in his heart he is a river dog. We used to go to the river by our old house almost every afternoon, and he loved diving for rocks.  

BTW: Our two favorite outdoor accessories: the Ergo carrier and our Keen shoes. I've had a pair of Keen sandals that I've worn for the last 5+ years, and this winter I scored these sweet Hoodoo boots  on sale. They're supposed to be primarily for the snow, but worked perfectly for our muddy hike. No break in period either. *Love*
Is there anything hotter than a babywearin' daddy?? // New Keen boots!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The K.I.S.S. method for baby photography

Remember that saying about "The K.I.S.S. Method?" Keep It Simple, Sista!  If you've been following along, you've seen my monthly installments of Penny's development and mini-photo sessions.
Having worked in the photography industry and being a hobbyist photographer myself, I know a few tricks to get the light to work for you.  My number one tip? Don't use the flash. Ever.  It creates unnatural skin tone, shocks your little client, and makes for that undesirable shadow. 

Sure, it's not the best picture I've ever taken but doesn't her skin look so much natural? 

Do those numbers look like gooblygunk to you? No worries ;) You don't have to know exactly what ISO or F-stop means to get good pictures. Just play around with the settings on your camera. Watch a few youtube videos. Digital is free; taking hundreds of pictures won't cost you a thing :) You don't need to be a professional photographer in order to take "pin-worthy" shots! Some of my best pictures were taken really off the cuff, when I allowed it to get fun rather than really try to create and sculpt the perfect shot. You don't always need backdrops or lights to get really good shots. Knowing about picmonkey for quick, easy editing is my second tip!

Photographer, author and educator Erin Manning provides her top 3 tips for capturing better newborn photos. Erin gives you advice on setting the scene and getting close to the baby for those perfect images, as well as using a SanDisk Ultra SDHC card to make sure she never misses a shot.

What is your tip for taking better pictures?

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for SanDisk.
I received a product sample to thank me for participating.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A story about Chocolat, chocolate, an unfulfilled promise and quality time with the Pops

My high school band used to march in a parade every fall in a little town called Leavenworth, which is modeled after a Bavarian Village.

My high school band-buddy-BFF had recently switched schools so she couldn't make it, much to the dismay of a upperclassman who had a pretty big crush on her.

After the parade we all had our free time and he bought her some expensive fancy chocolate and entrusted it to me to give it to her the next time I saw her.

Later that week, my soon to be stepdad asked me if I wanted to hang out and watch a movie with him. There was a new Johnny Depp movie that he had rented - Chocolat.  We started watching the movie, and if you know the plot, it's about a small French town where a woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop right before Lent.

After a few minutes into the movie, David turns to me and says "You know what would be perfect right now? Some chocolate."  But we couldn't corrupt the experience with plain old Hershey's. 

I sheepishly told him about the chocolate I was saving for my friend. It would be pure evil to eat this chocolate ourselves, I said to him. But it would be SO PERFECT.

Taking the high road, we left the chocolates alone and continued to watch the movie. But the thought of those delicious chocolates were burned into our minds. A few minutes later, without even saying a word - we both looked at each other, he paused the movie and I went into my room and retrieved the chocolates. And then we ate them.

There you have it, a 13 year old secret that has finally reared its sweet deceptive head. Now I *really* want to watch the movie again...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Inspiration: Penelope's First Birthday

With Penelope's first birthday right around the corner, it's time for this day dreaming Mama to get her ideas on paper (the screen?) and do some real planning.

Aren't themed parties the funnest? I'm going to have to take advantage of getting to choose the themes for her birthdays while I can.

Giraffes have been Penny's theme since her baby showers. I was totally into giraffes before Carters jumped on the zoo animal bandwagon half way through my pregnancy, which on one hand made me feel so unoriginal but then on the other hand, so many cute giraffe clothes started popping up :)

And I've had my eye on this giraffe from Melissa and Doug for quite a while too!

Do you have themed birthday parties for your kids? What has been the most unique theme? My two recent favorites:  
That Mama Gretchen's "Everyone loves an Italian Girl"
and sweet Mia's Southern Tea Party-
complete with heirloom teacups and meatloaf muffins!


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