Category: Breakfast

Blooming

I have not been a good blogger lately. Between my family being sick for two weeks, and the end of the school year approaching, it’s just been bananas around here. The summer is going to be a much needed slower pace…hopefully, that isn’t wishful thinking.

Our blackberry bush finally bloomed and ripened!

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Several plump blackberries were ready for picking. And it only took about five seconds because there were four and a half.

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This was all it yielded. It really makes one appreciate the farmers who are supplying markets and grocery stores. We’ve waited months for these four blackberries! Our blueberry bushes are even slower. I see one unripened blueberry.

Growing some of our own food surely does help us feel appreciative. We can’t wait for our melons to be ripe and, hopefully by October, we will be able to carve our own homegrown pumpkins.

Eating delicious salads everyday also help me to appreciate the freshness of the season…and good health.

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And I love putting fruit in my salads – grapes, peaches, nectarines, raisins, dried cranberries, berries of all kinds. Delicious. What’s your favorite kind of salad?

We’ve also been up to our usual tricks – Pancake Saturday (gluten and dairy free)!

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Bigs requested sprinkles this past Saturday. We fueled up because after breakfast, we did a walk that raised awareness about Human Trafficking and Slavery. It was informative and powerful.

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/12/snickerdoodle-pancakes/

I also made a birthday cake for one of my sweet friends.

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Her favorite is Red Velvet and I’d never (surprisingly!!) made one from scratch before. I gave it a go. Here is the recipe I used:

http://suziesweettooth.com/tag/9-x-13-inch-red-velvet-cake/

I think I over baked it. :/ I had a migraine all weekend and wasn’t fully “with it”.

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But it sure smelled good and came out pretty! I hope she enjoys it. I’m giving it to her today.

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I’ll have to see if she can send me a picture of a slice, so I can see how the inside turned out. 🙂

Hope you all have a very blessed day! I am going to my last monthly Church ladies group meeting before we break for Summer. It’s always a blessing to me. I always leave renewed and refreshed, something that is so very important to this Mama!

Kristin

EDIT: My friend sent me a picture of a slice of the cake! She said I should package it up and sell it, so I think that’s a good sign. 🙂 I am so glad she liked it!

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Dino-Riffic!

This week has been Dinosaur Week at school for Bigs! I couldn’t hand pick a more fun topic for my son. He adores dinosaurs. His room is decorated in a dinosaur theme. He even just told me, “I love dinosaurs.”. So there, you heard it here. Basically from him. Anyways, with dinosaur lessons comes dinosaur themed lunches. And dinosaur shirts that Bigs wore. Obviously. I cannot help myself.

Here is Tuesday’s lunch:

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It was a green brontosaurus-shaped PB&J, corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit, and two little Perkin’s sugar cookies (leftover from Mother’s Day).

And today, Thursday, I will have my last opportunity of the school year to work as a Helper Parent in Bigs’ classroom. I will miss his classmates, whom I have really gotten to know (and their families, as well). They are all so special and so very sweet. I will also miss his teacher. She has been just wonderful. She’s taught our Bigs so many things and as his first-ever teacher, she will always hold a very special place in our family’s hearts. So it was a fun, but bittersweet day.

I packed another dinosaur-themed lunch for Bigs.

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I made three little dino-shaped PB&Js, packed seasoned corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit, and one golden Oreo, opened, with little dinosaur-shaped sprinkles on top. The bag on the left is a dinosaur bag (I have been finding packs of these at Christmas Tree Shop for a while now – so cute!) with Bigs’ snack – carrots with peanut butter, and raisins.

And I packed my lunch, as well:

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Cucumbers with S&P, carrots, three hard boiled eggs with S&P, an apple, and a beautiful, ripe peach. Yum!

Bigs will be in another dinosaur shirt and because I don’t have one of those, I will rock my dino earrings. Which I love. Which I have an assorted 8-pack of. Don’t judge.

And because it will be the last time I’ll be in the classroom this school year, I made Bigs’ teacher, some of the office gals, and the security dude (official term) some muffins.

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Whole Wheat Cranberry Orange Muffins. Healthy, but good!

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I hope they will enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed all of THEM this year (which is a lot!).

Here’s the recipe:

http://thedapperlass.blogspot.com/2012/10/healthy-cranberry-orange-muffins.html

Hope you have a dino-tastic day!

Kristin

Roar!

 

Sweet Sweet Summertime

What a weird week it’s turned out to be. In between all the playing at parks, eating good Mother’s Day food, and spending time with family, both my boys got sick with two different things and I lost my voice. We even had to skip church on Mother’s Day. But I was “stuck” at home with the two very reasons I got to celebrate that day, so I was a happy, voice-less Mama!  The Friday before, we tried out a new park. I couldn’t even get a picture of Bigs because he was on the go the whole time!

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Smalls had fun but got tuckered out by the end.

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Poor, tired, little fella. <3

We were supposed to travel to attend my cousin’s graduation party the next day, but that night on the park day, Bigs got a fever. We were able to get it down but he still wasn’t feeling well. And I had woken up with absolutely no voice. So no one was feeling well enough to travel. We rested at home and puttered around town when cabin fever set in. We ate a nice BBQ lunch.

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I ate a smoked chicken salad sandwich (which I actually had to take home because I was so full from my sides!), roasted corn, sweet potatoes, and bananas foster bread pudding. You heard that part correctly. Seriously yum. The boys shared a scoop of house-made cotton candy ice cream and I took this little baby home to enjoy while they were napping.

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Chocolate cake with chocolate chips and vanilla (tinted pink for Mother’s Day) buttercream.

After naps, we went to one of our favorite stores – Christmas Tree Shops. I was THRILLED when they brought one down here. They had all their summer stuff out. It made me so happy to just walk around the aisles of water tubes, canopies, margarita-shaped strung lights, and seasonal summer foods. And I, a sucker for ALL things flamingo and watermelon, had to get these (cheap!) chevron flamingo placemats and watermelon cutting board. So fresh!

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I’d say we made the most of the day, even though we weren’t feeling up to snuff.

The next day was Mother’s Day. I felt so very blessed to be able to celebrate this day. My boys showered me with love…AND they slept in for the first time in AGES! It was so nice! They took me to Perkin’s for breakfast, one of our favorite places to eat. It was crowded with all kinds of people.

Smalls was in a “mood”. I should mention that this sort of mood comes out every time we dine out now. I suppose he’s in that phase (hopefully, short-lived) where we are “those people” at the restaurants with the screaming, spoon-throwing, crayon-chucking, food-smearing kid.

This too shall pass.

Our lovely server brought me a warm strawberry muffin, which I was sweet enough to share with my boys. They wanted to dig in so quickly that my picture came out blurry.

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It was really good.

Inspired buy said muffin, I ordered the Strawberry French Toast.

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It came out missing whipped cream, but the server brought it out shortly after.

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My husband ordered an omelette with tomatoes and sausage and potatoes. It also came with pancakes, which he gave to me and I ate later for dinner.

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The pancakes were delicious, even heated up later.

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Bigs ordered his usual – Sprinkle Pancakes! This boy knows what he wants! He also got bacon.

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I ordered the French Toast sticks for Smalls, thinking he’d easily hold and eat them.

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I didn’t anticipate that he’d want my whipped cream and smear the table with it, as I imagine a baby Picasso would have done.

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This mess was the tip of the ice berg.

It was still lovely, albeit slightly stressful.

When we got home, we went swimming. It was a beautiful day and Bigs was eager to show off his new swimming skills.

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It was a great Mother’s Day. I am so very blessed.

On Monday, after swim lessons, the boys and I went jogging. Now that I have a double jogger, I am able to take them with me. We did three miles (half jog, half speed walk) around a nearby lake.

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We did stop to feed the turtles and fish some stale popcorn.

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About seven turtles came up and went berserk-o on the popcorn.

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And that night, I made a really yummy dinner (not an everyday occurrence in my household). I roasted chicken and made a BBQ sauce from scratch (ketchup, garlic, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, ACV). I served it with some dumpy, gross GF, DF cornbread I made from scratch without a recipe, corn, peas, and a fruit salad.

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It was still a successful meal.

Well. That caught us up to only Monday. And it’s already almost Thursday! Hope you’ve had a great week!

Blessings!

Kristin

 

 

The Carnival came to town!

Come one, come all!!

What a big weekend it was for us! We celebrated our Bigs’ 4th birthday. We had so much fun. His birthday celebration started last Thursday, when I packed that fun birthday lunch for him for school. That night, we went out to get some of the food we’d need for his birthday party on Saturday. We found the corndogs at Target. While there, as per the usual, Bigs led us to the vacuum aisle.

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This kid loves vacuums. He always has. I am telling you, I’d not be surprised if he was the inventor of the next big, cool vacuum. What a great way to spend your last night as a three year old – pretend vacuuming the Target aisles in your Woody & Buzz Lightyear boots.

Friday was his actual birthday. Our original intent was to take him on the train after breakfast, but their schedules were not fitting in with our schedules and also it was RAINY. Like, a monsoon-rainy. So we decided to play his day by ear, realizing that our expectations of it might just be higher and more complicated that they needed to be…than Bigs’ expectations. So, we started the first day of his 4th year singing “Happy Birthday” to him and letting him open his present. We’d gotten him a whistle (yay for him, booo for us). That was all he’d asked for. All he wanted was that and to be able to eat a whole vitamin versus the half serving for children under 4. After those two exciting gifts, we went to have a wonderful breakfast. Bigs ordered chocolate chip pancakes (one huge one, in this restaurant). We got the same for Smalls.

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They were giant. Bigger than the boys’ heads. Just the way a birthday pancake should be.

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I’d say Bigs loved it. Those chocolate chips were smeared all over their sweet, little faces.

I ordered the French Toast Monte Cristo.

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It was really delicious. It came with some dressed greens. Husband got eggs over breakfast potatoes.

With our bellies full, we went home for a little while to relax. Our neighbors came over to wish Bigs a Happy Birthday and we visited with them. That’s when the skies really opened up. When we were able to, we finally got back out into the storm to go to Toys-R-Us. Side note: that place, of all places, needs to put sanitizing wipes for their carts. Blech! We surprised Bigs with a water table (yay gift cards!!). We went home and set it up and the boys had so much fun playing with it on the back porch.

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It was nice to be able to be doing something outdoors even though it was pouring outside.

After naps, we went to Ale House, where they have both delicious food AND a gluten-free menu. I ordered the Chicken Cajun Pasta. It was so good and there was so much of it, I got to eat it again at home!

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Husband ordered shrimp, Bigs ordered mini cheeseburgers and fries, and Smalls ate a grilled cheese and fries. We ordered a piece of chocolate cake to take home.

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It was also huge. We knew Bigs would love this as his birthday cake!

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I stuck candles in a little slice for him and we sang! Even Smalls sang along, the best he could. I’ve been teaching him this song for weeks so that he could sing it to Bigs. The boys wore little birthday cone hats and enjoyed their cake.

It was a perfect day.

Saturday was party day! We’d rented a pavilion at our neighborhood park months ago, in preparation for this day. Quite sadly, the weather had gotten even worse than it was on Bigs’ birthday, the day before. All weather reports showed thunderstorms all day long. We didn’t have a back up plan, but we had to make one quickly. Before 7:00am rolled around, we decided to move the whole operation to our house. That would be the only way a birthday party would happen. Also sadly, my house was a pigsty. I’d neglected cleaning it, as I oft do, because I’d been so busy preparing for this outside birthday party. So we cleaned and cleaned and decorated and notified our guests about the change in plans. It was a frantic morning. And an extremely rainy one…we made the right decision.

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Dining Room Table

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Details, upclose

I found almost all my decorating supplies at the Dollar Store. I put the centerpieces on top of red and white tablecloths. For the centerpieces, I put some yellow crinkle confetti in the bottom of a decorative plastic popcorn bucket and then some yellow and white flowers. Since these were supposed to grace eight picnic tables, and we were now partying inside, I put them all over the house. I actually love the way it came out. I also put some ticket stubs (also found at the Dollar Store) around, as a confetti. And for the dining room table only, I put some carnival charms, that I’d found online, and a mason jar filled with gum balls.

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I twisted red and white crepe paper and hung it to look like a circus/carnival top, centering around Bigs’ chair at our dining room table.

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I did a similar thing on the antique desk that is in my foyer….

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…and the same for the top of my TV in the living room.

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I made a “4!” out of tickets on the front door.

And then I set up the games downstairs…

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Pin the nose on the clown (sticker noses)

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Fishing (and a bucket of prizes)

And we also had hula hoops, and three little red baskets where the kids could throw three plastic baseballs.

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Here were some carnival bags for the kids to hold their loot in, as well as some carnival temporary tattoos.

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Then I set up the candy bar and food. For the candy bar, I used bags of Charms Fluffy Stuff cotton candy (dollar store!), licorice (red and black [I LOVE black licorice…I think my Dad and I are the only ones]), candy wax bottles, sugar-coated rainbow strings, watermelon gummies, and swirl lollipops.

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I placed popcorn bags next to the candy bar and popcorn so our guests could easily walk around with their treats. I bought bags of popcorn from the deli at Publix and made (my Mom was on duty) corndogs.

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I think it was a hit!

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I used the same red and white theme with the popcorn buckets and flowers throughout.

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I love how the food table came out!

The cake was DELICIOUS too. I didn’t make it this year, not for that amount of people. I got it at CostCo. Bigs requested chocolate, so chocolate is what he got! I asked for extra sprinkles because…that’s how we roll.

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Fireworks added to cover my Bigs’ name 🙂

It was really, really delicious. I LOVE Publix cake, but this was really tasty and a great deal! Bigs’ GF friend from school brought a GF cupcake for both herself AND for Husband. What great friends! And we served GF hot dogs and buns to them.

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Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to youuuu, Happy Birthday dear Biiiigs, Happy Birthday to youuuu!

It was great party! Thank you to all that helped and attended!

 

Current Events

Oh, boy! Hello, there! I’ve missed you! It’s been crazy-town lately. I used to have time in the mornings to write before my boys were awake, but now with early swim lessons, things have been shifted…off my radar. So here I am now, catching up on two weeks worth of stuff, and trying to get ready for my Bigs’ 4th birthday this Friday!!! Where does the time go!

So let’s catch up, shall we?

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First Oreo dunk ever!

So for snack one day, I let my boys have Oreos. Probably lots of people have Oreos for snack. My boys have never had cookies as a snack. Despite how much I bake, I am very controlled with the amount of sugar I let my children have. I’d say they enjoyed it. Bigs was loved dipping the Oreo in milk. Are you a dipper? I am not. I do not care (too much) for wet food.

We’ve eaten lots of pancakes since I last wrote, too. Obvi.

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GF DF Cinnamon pancakes with bananas

And I’ve actually made some good dinners!

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I made oven-fried chicken tenders (using corn flake crumbs), fresh corn on the cob and green beans. Yum-o!

And we even met some friends for dinner at this amazing taco restaurant that I’d never been to.

I got a watermelon adult drink. Anytime there is something with watermelon, I’m in!

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We ordered their famous guacamole, made table-side!

Best guac I've had!
Best guac I’ve had!

I ordered three small tacos – a mushroom one, a chorizo one, and a pork one. All three delicious!

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And for dessert, we all shared a piece of Mexican Chocolate Pie and Tres Leches Cake. The cake was topped with meringue. I’d never seen that before!

Mexican Chocolate Pie
Mexican Chocolate Pie
Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches Cake

The Tres Leches Cake was served with strawberries and bananas. So fresh!

It was a night filled with laughter, great food, and great company.

Then we had Easter. How was your Easter? Ours was wonderful. We had a great church service and ate lots of yummy food afterwards.

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My Mom made homemade biscuits, ham, pickled everything (which I put all together), fresh green beans, mayo-less potato salad, deviled eggs, and fruit salad. Delish!

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And these beauties for dessert – chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. Serious yumminess.

The Monday after Easter, the boys and I went on a field trip with Bigs’ school. We went to Publix for a tour. They We had a great time!

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They handed out nametags with our names on them and hairnets.

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Bigs would not take his off. It was so cute.

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We saw a cake being decorated, we tasted popcorn chicken, we saw the produce coming in off the truck, we saw the seafood man put a lobster to sleep. It was fun!

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Bigs even got to ring some items up! He loved it! What a fun trip for the kids…and adults. 😀

The next day, we went to a birthday party at a park in the afternoon. It was so much fun to celebrate our little friend turning 2 and eat cake and run around!

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Speaking of running around, I finally updated my Mom Workout Shoes. And I’ve been running even faster in my new ones. I think having “cooler” shoes helps your workout.

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Agree?

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Then on Friday, I made my flourless chocolate cake for a dinner with friends. It is easy to whip up and my husband can enjoy dessert too! I also make it dairy free.

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flourless-chocolate-cake-recipe

My Bigs had a karate belt ceremony on Saturday. He’s now an orange belt – go Bigs! We had a potluck at the academy. I had found this from Target earlier:

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I love watermelon anything. I almost always make desserts from scratch, but this appealed greatly to me and Bigs, while on a Target run.

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They came out great – very artificially watermelon flavored, like a jolly rancher. I think they went over well at karate.

We went from karate to another birthday party for another friend. This one was at a park too, which also had a splash pad. That was a lot of fun! Hello Summer weather!

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Bigs just loved it. Smalls wouldn’t get so close. He is so fearless with most things, but for some reason, had some major fears about the splash pad. He was like this last year too but by the end of the season, loved it. 🙂

After church on Sunday, I went to a baby shower of one of my dear friends. She is having a girl in July, the day before my Smalls’ birthday. I can’t wait to meet her!

We had so much fun celebrating the Mommy-to-be. We ate and ate.

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There was two kinds of chicken salad, fruit with marshmallow dip, antipasti for days, many different kinds of salads, and rice balls in red gravy. SO GOOD!

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For dessert, there were two kinds of cannolis (one chocolate covered), eclairs, and Napoleons…

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…and her beautiful, delicious, ruffled cake!

And then lastly, I made healthier brownies to take into Bigs’ class this past Tuesday to celebrate his upcoming Friday birthday.

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They were gluten-free black bean brownies. I used coconut oil in place of vegetable oil and that made them taste like coconut chocolate brownies, which apparently lots of kids don’t like! Oops, now I know! 🙂 Bigs loved them though. Here is the recipe:

http://www.mealmommy.com/Recipes/tabid/89/CategoryID/5/List/1/Level/a/ProductID/42/Default.aspx?SortField=ProductName%2cProductName

Alrighty, I am caught up on food, events, and general diary. Next up is fun birthday food and events for my Bigs! I can’t believe he’s turning 4!

Kristin

 

 

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone!

Or in my case…my glasses! I’ve been wearing glasses for the last 12 or so years, from sunup to sundown. I finally worked up the gumption to give contacts a try. What a frustrating day! Anyways, I think I got the hang of them, finally. Life is so different without having to constantly push my glasses up. I can also see things while laying down, workout without having the sweat cause my glasses to slide down, and actually have people see my eye makeup that I just learned how to do properly. Ahhh yes, it’s good to have options now!

In addition to all of that, we have been busy!

We had our Friday playdate at a new park. We love trying out new parks. It was a really nice day.

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There were tire swings, bridges, a play train, slides, and more!

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And the park was right next to real train tracks, which my boys loved!

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CHOO CHOOOOOOO!

And I packed them a special, summery lunch.

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I made beach balls out of their PB&Js, gave them each an applesauce squeezy fruit, a box of raisins, and some goldfish crackers. And for Bigs, I also packed some chocolate covered banana chips.

The next morning, we had pancakes (back on track!). I used a different kind of gluten-free mix – King Arthur Flour. As far as how the actual pancake turn out, this was the best GF mix I’ve tried! I added lots of vanilla bean paste and some caramel extract. They were delicious.

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They came out golden and fluffy, like how they look in commercials.

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I served them with little turkey sausages and some Maine Caviar – blueberries from Maine in Maine maple syrup (from my Mom-in-law). DELISH.

I made the boys a quick craft to play with at home with my husband, while I was getting my contacts lesson at the eye doctor.

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Bird-watching binoculars! Thank you Pinterest!

Bigs had a great time with them.

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Bird watch here…

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Bug watch there…

Smalls crushed his before I could even leave the house.

Awesome.

And I made a good dinner on Sunday (not something I find myself saying very often)! Truth be told, the only reason it came out better than okay is because my husband grilled the meat part.

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Earlier in the day, after church, I had thrown some steaks in a Ziploc with some GF soy sauce, lemon juice, fresh garlic, and olive oil. By dinnertime, they were ready to be grilled. That simple marinade came out so delicious.

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I served them with rosemary roasted potatoes (I used fresh rosemary that my friend Kristin, and fellow blogger, gave us) and balsamic green beans.

I also threw together some oaty, banana “cookies” while the oven was still hot. I mashed one super ripe banana, and mixed it with a handful of oats, some honey, and some cinnamon and baked them.

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I poked one semi-sweet chocolate chip into each of them and the kids thought they were cookies.

Mommy:1

A great end to a busy, but nice, weekend.

It was a bright (bright), bright (bright), sun-shiny daaaaaay!

PS – check out my friend Kristin’s blog! She’s a great friend and cook.

http://thefoodgeekdiary.com/

Rainy Day Reflections

School was canceled for Bigs today, due to a funeral being held at our church (which is also our school). The funeral was expected to be attended by up to 5,000 people. The person who passed away was a beloved, young police officer who died in the line of duty.

Normally, I love Bigs’ school days. It gives me a few hours of peace and quiet less chaos. Today, however, I am grateful for an extra day of chaos, of chasing after my two precious boys, running errands, breaking up brotherly fights, cutting food into teeny bite sized pieces, and implementing time outs.

For the Fallen Officer was once (and always will be, I can imagine) someone’s precious little boy. It’s very tragic, sad situations like these that help me to remember to enjoy the little moments with my boys, no matter how hard the every days can be.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.

– Philemon 1:4

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

-James 1:17

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Today for lunch, I made a brunch. I made french toast bites and fruit (with pieces of cheese for Smalls). The boys cleaned their plates.

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Have a blessed, THANK-FILLED day and if you can, say a prayer for the family, friends, and colleagues of this fallen officer?

God bless,

Kristin

Berries and Army Men

Well, Spring Break has come to a close. It was a nice break. On Friday, we went to our usual Friday playgroup and we celebrated one little friend’s first birthday! It was so cute! It is SO fun to see these little babies grow up. We were at the park, so the kids had a great time. It was a sunny, clear (warm!) day – the sort that makes more freckles appear on Bigs’ nose and makes him and Smalls’ cheeks turn pink!

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The park was a new one to us and really great! There were lots of mini-playgrounds to explore.

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As per the usual, Smalls followed Bigs around, trying to do all the big boy things bigger boys do.

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Bigs loves going down fireman slides. He’s so good at it. He calls himself “Fireman ‘Bigs'”, when sliding down!

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The boys had so much fun!

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And the birthday boy did too! He smooshed cake all over his sweet little face. It was a fun day!

When we got home, my wonderful neighbor brought me a Jewish pastry called a hamentashen. It was a prune flavored one and it was just delicious.

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The pastry was light and buttery, the prune filling was subtle and sweet. It was my first hamentashen and I’d been wanting to try one for a while. So thoughtful of my neighbor!

We rounded out our day with a fun dinner at Cracker Barrel with my parents-in-law (I took a picture of my dinner, under the watchful, slightly judgey eye of my sitting-too-close-dining neighbor-that-I-didn’t-know, but it didn’t look as good as it tasted). After dinner, we rocked on their famous rocking chairs for a while and relaxed. It was a great Friday.

We didn’t have pancakes on Saturday morning (!!!), but I DID make muffins! I needed to use up more of the spinach from St. Patty’s Day (when I made spinach pancakes).

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I doubled the recipe since I had a ton of spinach and it only made 12 muffins (I like to freeze them for future eating). They were spinach banana muffins. They came out SO good!

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I was taking pictures of them as they were cooling and Smalls couldn’t resist trying to sneak one. I love those little sneaky baby hands!

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These muffins came out just right – the perfect, tender, chewy crumb, a heavy banana taste, loads of cinnamon.

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You couldn’t taste the spinach at all, and I used about 3 or so cups!

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In our house, when I make spinach muffins, we call them “Army Men Muffins” because they come out almost the same color as Bigs and Smalls’ army men.

Here is the recipe for our Army Men Muffins:

http://thegreenforks.com/popeye-muffins/

We took the boys to Home Depot after breakfast to get some plants. There happened to be a popcorn cart there, at which the boys got some free little bags to munch on.

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Smalls

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Bigs

I shouldn’t even admit this, but I sort of love going to Home Depot. The lumber smell that hits you right as you walk in is such a wonderful smell, especially mixed with the hot doggy smells from the hot dog cart by the entrance. They sort of go together – hot dogs and lumber. Anyways, I love going through the garden section. It’s always like a little e-venture (as Bigs call it).

Bigs likes to try out the riding mowers.

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He’s so neat.

We got a blackberry plant, a blueberry plant, and some other stuff that I have no idea about. When we got home, we (they) transferred them to their new pots.

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Bigs is at such a wonderful age (turning 4 in about a month and a half), where he loves to help and is actually good at it.

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He put together his own little plant. He called it his “merry-go-round” plant because he couldn’t remember that it was a marigold.

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He dropped in the seeds and watered it all by himself.

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We can’t wait to see it grow!

Smalls played in the yard while Bigs planted.

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He likes going up to the fence separating our yard from the neighbors’ and barking at it, in hopes that their dogs will come to see him.

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Our sweet little girl keeping a watchful eye on the new plants

After planting and naps, the big boys (Husband and Bigs) grilled some burgers while Smalls kept me company in the kitchen. We had macaroni and cheese (GF, DF version for Husby). I also sautéed some green and wax beans with some carrots.

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It was a good Saturday.

Today, Sunday, was a great day too! Church was great. We are learning about the book of John right now. Today we talked about how even when we don’t know ourselves and when we question who we are (which I have many times), God always knows who we are and who He has made us to be. It gave me such a sense of peace that I don’t even need to always know who I am. It just doesn’t even matter. God knows.

And in Bigs’ Sunday School class, they learned about Jesus washing feet.

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They got a little kit of soap and a teeny towel. I couldn’t even get a picture of it all together since Bigs was so excited. He couldn’t wait to get home and wash the feet of the most willing participant (I won). He said it’s how Jesus showed His love and so he wanted to do that too.

I am blown away at the Biblical knowledge Bigs is learning and how his love for Jesus is showing. <3

With our leftover hamburger dinner, I made the most yummy fruit salad. A refreshing way to end our Spring Break.

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It’s summer fruit season already and I am so excited! I never used to look forward to Summer (so hot, not an outdoorsy kind of gal), but my boys just make it so much fun and we have so much to look forward to. God is good!

I hope you all have had a blessed Spring Break (or week, if you weren’t so lucky).

Happy Sunday,

Kristin

Spring has Sprung!

It’s still Spring Break here and we’ve been staying quite busy! The weather has been gorgeous (save for one day where it seemed like we were in a hurricane) – clear skies, white fluffy clouds some days, picture-perfect blue backdrops everyday, chilly mornings that burn off to warm, sunny, lovely spring days.

Spring Break actually started last week, after Bigs got out of school. We had breakfast for dinner that night. I made a baked oatmeal casserole.

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I based my recipe loosely on this one:

http://www.aaronandyolanda.com/2013/07/baked-oatmeal-casserole.html

Instead of two cups of milk, I did one cup of coconut milk and a cup of pumpkin puree. I only added a few chocolate chips. I also didn’t add nuts or fruit of any kind. So it’s basically nothing like that recipe. And it of course didn’t turn out like that recipe (what did I expect!).

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It was alright. The oats didn’t get soaked with the pumpkin custard like I thought they would, so there was a separation of sorts. Next time, maybe I’ll have all the right ingredients and I can make it the right way. 🙂

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I served it with scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and sausages. It did the trick (if trick = filling our tummies).

The next day was GORGEOUS! We went to a park play date.

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Smalls was able to keep up with the big kids this time.

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And Big Brother took the time to play with him.

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I love to see them playing nicely together. 🙂

I gave Smalls a wee little apple and he carried that thing around while playing. He dropped it and still clutched it tightly. This is what I found him holding later on.

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The next day was Pancake Saturday – not to ever be missed in our house! It should be renamed Pancake and Breakfast Meat Saturdays.

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By this time, I’d run out of eggs (running out of ingredients is a key theme in my life, apparently). I substituted applesauce for the missing eggs. The result was an incredibly creamy, custard-like inside. I also added loads of vanilla and vanilla bean paste, and some caramel extract that I found at Wally-World (Walmart). I thought they were just delicious.

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They came out fluffy and golden. So good. Seriously. I might be using the applesauce trick again. I also might HAVE to, as I never seem to have everything I need.

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Oh, pancakes.

After breaky, we went to a local Farmer’s Market/Petting Farm. It’s newly opened and we’ve been wanting to try it out.

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Bigs insisted (and I am not using that term lightly) on wearing his overalls and boots.

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Kind of adorable though.

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We saw all kinds of farm animals. Bigs went up to the chicken coop and squatted down and said to them, “Hey Chickens! Why did you cross the road?!” My husband and I were beside ourselves with laughter!

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From there, we went to the food trucks and market side. We ate an okay lunch of hot dogs.

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And followed that up with a huge cup of the most refreshing, gorgeous, delicious fruit ever. I think it tasted even more delicious after that greasy, fried lunch.

We also ran into two different families we know! It was a great day.

When we got home, there was still some time before nap, so the boys did their “yard work”.

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They earn their keep, I tell you.

On Sunday night, some of our best friends, who have moved far away, came back because of work and we got to visit. We went on a date night with several of our couple friends. It was just wonderful seeing them. It is terribly sad when one of your best friends moves away, but it makes you treasure the time you have with them, when you see them again.

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My husband ordered the best red wine I’ve ever had – Jam Jar! SO GOOD! I will have to get that one next time. I’m not much of a red wine drinker, unless it’s sweet, which Jam Jar was.

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We had a minted edamame hummus and roasted red pepper hummus with lavosh crackers, as an appetizer. We also tasted our friends’ pesto chicken flat bread.

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After we toasted to our wonderful friendships…

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…we dug into our meals. My husband ordered the scallops (did not get a good picture) and they were divine. I ordered the winter vegetarian sampling.

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This plate changes seasonally. I love it. This time, there was a stuffed mushroom, some roasted beets, broccolini, asparagus, and peppers, along with a veggie stuffed taco, and some tofu with mango chutney.

This restaurant is famous for its small desserts. I can’t ever choose one.

Oink.

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I chose the chocolate peanut butter mousse (um, SO good) and the cannoli (cannoli cream, chocolate chips, raspberry sauce, cannoli shell).

I can’t even.

I am still dreaming about that cannoli cream. Is that weird? To dream about cannoli cream?

The next day was St. Patrick’s Day! I always go big on these smaller holidays. I love a theme! I think you know that by now.

Before everyone (else) woke up, I put together the Irish Stew in the crock pot.

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I sort of changed around the recipe. I used this recipe as a base:

http://everydaymomsmeals.blogspot.com/2013/02/its-not-soup-its-stew.html

I did not add onion soup mix (due to the non gluten and dairy-free and high sodium nature), so I added real onions. I only used one can of tomato soup and added a can of no-salt stewed tomatoes. I also added more of the same vegetables. I let that sit on low all day while we were busy doing other things.

For breakfast, I made Spinach Pancakes (yep – the third time in five days that I served my family pancakes – that’s how I roll). This was a great recipe.

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They were chock full of fresh spinach (two cups!). Bigs said that they tasted like green beans, but he kept eating them, so that’s a good sign.

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When drizzled with syrup and some butter, the very obvious spinach flavor was sort of pushed to the back (a plus for most kids).

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I added more vanilla than called for. I served them with corned beef hash.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.superhealthykids.com/blog-posts/no-dye-green-pancakes.php

My best friend since kindergarten was up visiting from where she lives and brought her little girl (who is only 2 months older than Smalls). I LOVE seeing my best friend. I miss her dearly. I feel so blessed to see two of my loveliest friends, who no longer live near me, all in the same week!

For an after lunch St. Patty’s Day treat, I made Leprechaun Pudding for the kids!

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I just mixed half a packet of sugar-free, fat-free white chocolate pudding mix into some vanilla yogurt and added some green coloring. I layered that with some Lucky Charms cereal. I think they liked it.

Earlier in the morning, I’d also made a birthday treat for my bestie. I asked her what she wanted and it was so simple and I love her for that. All she wanted was a boxed mix peanut butter brownie with a ganache on top. How easy!

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I sent that home with her. She let me try it and take pictures of it before she left though. THAT’S a best friend!

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It was good. I used coconut milk for the ganache.

While my boys were napping, I prepared our Irish dessert – Banoffee Pie! I totally used shortcuts. I made a quick crust from graham cracker crumbs and butter. I “baked” it in the toaster oven. I sliced a banana on top of that, melted and poured some dulce de leche that I bought from Costco, and sliced another banana on top. I then whipped a half pint of whipping cream and spread that on top.

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I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. It was SO good.

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I loved that the dulce de leche was the only sweet part of it. I added no sugar to the graham crust or whipped cream. It was a nice contrast.

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It was a dream of a pie – crunchy, buttery and rich, sweet creamy bananas, indulgent, deep caramel, fluffy, milky topping. Seriously, the stuff (my) dreams are made of.

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Just…yum. It was even better the next day.

And the Irish Stew came out SO SO good!

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The stew beef was so tender, as were the potatoes.

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The broth was rich and tomato-y.

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We ate it for two days. It was great.

I’d call that a successful food holiday!

I got a chance to see my other friend (who we’d seen on Sunday) again before she went back up North. We met, with some other friends, at a neat farm-to-table restaurant.

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We started off with fresh, crusty bread and butter (the only way to “start” anything).

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My friend got a Blue Moon and I had some. I love that beer – so refreshing!

My other friend and I went halfsies on the burger. It wasn’t just any old burger. It had bacon jam, pimento cheese, spicy/sweet pickles, bibb lettuce, and a fried green tomato.

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One of the best burgers I’ve had!

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It was served with wedged potato fries topped with shaved white truffles. Earthy, salty goodness.

Aca-yeah!

Yet another friend and I shared the chocolate cake! We call each other “cakesters”…we just live for cake, what can I say!

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It was delicious. And a wonderful night with wonderful friends.

I got to see my kindergarten bestie again the next day! I took her to my favorite donut shop.

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She hadn’t been there before. She is now a convert.

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I got my now usuals – a sprinkle for Bigs, some holes for Smalls (one of which was shoved whole into his teeny mouth), a German chocolate, a Coconut Crunch, a strawberry and cream cheese, a chocolate and peanut butter, and a chocolate and cream cheese.

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I meannnnnn…..

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Oh, my heavens.

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Why, thank you!

We then walked off our calories at the zoo. It was such a gorgeous day!

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The boys and my bestie’s daughter, B, really loved seeing all the animals.

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The usually low-key otters were really playful and the lemurs saved their freak-out for when we were leaving.

It was a really wonderful day.

My, what a foodie Spring Break it’s been, and it isn’t even over yet!

I hope this finds you all well,

Kristin

A Berry Good Day

Today has been a berry, berry good day! Yesterday’s gloomy, overcasty clouds burned off to reveal a blue-skied, clear, gorgeous day. It was a perfect backdrop for strawberry picking. We started our day with our usual Saturday Pancakes.

Pancakes Bacon and Sausage

This time, I added little sausages with our bacon, and brûléed bananas.

Pancake Breakfast

After our hearty breakfast, we were off! The strawberry fields were about a half hour away and we got there just as they opened.

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The boys were SO excited! To them, it must have looked like miles upon miles of strawberries! Bigs did a great job of picking the plump, ruby red, ripe berries. Smalls did a great job of eating any berry he could find, whether it be from the ground (half-eaten by some vermin or squashed by an unknown stranger shoe) or plucked from the plant itself.

Smalls Eating

Just about every time I turned around, Smalls was stuffing a berry into his mouth. His little baby hands were stained red within minutes. When I picked him up to give him a snuggle, his little breath and skin smelled so sweet of ripe, juicy berries. I just held him forever, burying my face in his curly hair and neck, inhaling his sweetness. And he let me, instead of squirming away. It was magical. I could have breathed in his scent forever.

Smalls and Strawberries

The boys had a wonderful time. It was great to show Bigs food-sourcing. He couldn’t wait to get home, wash these sweeties, and eat them – the ones HE picked! Snack-time was wonderful – a bowl of freshly picked berries!

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I love this one of Husband, Bigs, and Smalls, in succession <3

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It was such a happy morning, with the blue, clear skies, the sweet smell of berries in the air, and surrounded by my three, very special boys. My heart is so full!

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Our bounty, washed and drying

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Beautiful, ruby red jewels

From the strawberry field, we went to a Farmer’s Market. We walked around, munching on kettle corn (it’s always best made right in front of you!).

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Each boy got their own little bag. Smalls dumped his out on accident.

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We smelled the produce and plants for sale (this one was a spectacular chocolate mint plant!!).

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We watched an Amtrak train pull into the station and take off again. We sat there gawking at it like tourists. It was great. Smalls talked about for the rest of the day, in his own little 19 month old way, “Choo choo?? Wooo wooooooo!!”, “Choo choo!!!!”. Those boys love their trains.

And, we also walked through the rows and rows of gorgeous flowers for sale. These are the most lovely hydrangeas. I love hydrangeas.

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Spring has most certainly sprung around these parts – a fresh promise of growth and renewal, and a reminder of life’s beautiful, cyclical nature.

It was indeed a gorgeous and perfect morning for our little family! We ended our day (after all the non-event middle day stuff) with frozen yogurt.

Froyo

The boys are now tucked into bed, I am not far behind. I love when I am pooped from doing things that made me happy.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

I am so blessed by these three boys! They give me the hope for a new day and they fill my heart with love. My cup truly runneth over.

Have a very blessed night, yourself,

Kristin