Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Plate

I have had to get pretty creative with food since getting my braces on. The first weekend after I had my teeth pulled I ate nothing but smoothies and soup. But that got really boring after 3 days. I started looking online for creative foods that were soft. My main criteria was obviously to be able to chew it, fresh, in-season ingredients, and easy enough that I could make it for just me (with leftovers). I came up with some pretty good stuff and I have to say I haven't missed meat at all.

First up was a Mexican tortilla soup with jalapeno cornbread. I searched the Internet to get the basic ingredients and then made a variation with stuff I had around the house and could eat. You could easily add meat to this by picking up a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.

Mexican Tortilla Soup
1 small yellow onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water
1 can corn, or 2 cooked corn on the cobs
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado
shredded soft cheese (I think I used Monterey Jack)
Totrilla strips

1. In a medium stock pot, heat a little olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic in oil until soft. Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Stir in corn, chiles, beans, and cilantro. Simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Ladle soup into bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices, cheese, and chopped cilantro.

And for the cornbread, who better than the Paula Deen, the queen of butter? Go here for the recipe. It was delicious!

I found the next recipe on The Kitchen and again varied it slightly for my taste. Quinoa is becoming one of my favorite grains. It's hearty enough and full of protein that it can substitute meat and yet delicate enough that you can add a ton of flavors to it. Here is the original recipe for Quinoa Tabbiouleh. Instead of cooking the grain in just water I added vegatable stock and lemon juice for flavor. I left out the mint because I'm not a fan of it in my food and I added toasted pine nuts. I didn't soak the red onion in water because I didn't find it necassary. I think the key here is to make sure the quinoa has cooled to room tempature so it doesn't soak up all the vinaigrette. Another key is very fresh ingredients. My favorite feta is a brand I get at Fresh Market that is imported from Greece and made from sheep's milk. It really does make a huge difference.

And to beef up this meal, I served it with a piece of baked Salmon that I cooked in an aluminun foil packet. I added a little extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and zest, sea salt, pepper, capers, minced garlic, and some parsely and baked it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

I haven't had a chance to make this recipe, but it is next on the list for sure. I found it on my favorite food blog site - Eat, Make, Read. Kelly is always cooking up something amazing in her tiny Brooklyn kitchen. I would love to be a fly on the wall (or maybe a guest at the dinner table!). I cannot wait to try her spicy corn cakes with fresh salsa. If the name of the recipe doesn't entice you than the pictures sure will!

This recipe is perfect for me because it's soft AND it has corn on the cob inside the cake. Corn on the cob is one of my favorite summer treats but with these dang braces it's impossible to eat!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Photography & Family

I have been having so much fun with my camera. Best birthday present, ever! I love to take it out in the yard whenever I have a spare moment. I never know what I'm going to find out there. The dogs can be awfully cute when they are playing but it's so hard to capture it on film. My favorite thing to photograph so far has been my garden. The camera does the work for me.

Here is a snap of the basil from my garden. I have never had such luck with basil as I did this year. I put it in a galvanized watering trough along with some other herbs. I had to let it flower b/c the branches were getting so tall. It has been awesome having so much on hand, I'm going to miss it this winter.

Markus and I are having a competition to see whose tomatoes do better. I put mine in the backyard and he put his in the side yard. He is winning.

This is a hummingbird that lives in my Ficus tree. He has been in it for 5 years and hasn't fallen off yet!

Mom was watering my tomatoes and I just thought this looked cool. I tried to get a closer shot but it didn't come out that great.

The heavens at dusk. I love the way the light from the flash bounces off the lower limbs.

I'm having a hard time with people though. Can't really get the angle or the lighting right but I'm working on it. The class I wanted to take at the Visual Arts Center is full and there isn't another one until the fall so it looks like I'm on my own for a while. Which is fine because I'm having so much fun in auto. I can only imagine the possibilities in manual. Or when I can learn to edit photos beyond black and white.

Last week was my moms 53rd birthday. Doesn't she look good for her age?

I had a little get together at our house for her. Buz & Ned's barbecue, Baskin Robbins ice cream cake, and balloons.

I had the camera around my neck pretty much the whole night. I'm sure people are going to get tired of me taking their picture but I just can't help myself. You never know when you are going to get a great shot and practice makes perfect. Or in my case, decent.

Granddaddy and Meme enjoying cake. And, if you look closely you can see Jeopardy in the background. Granddaddy never misses Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy!

Can you tell we are related?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Music Monday: Pete Yorn

I didn't know much about Pete Yorn until my friend Susan recommended his music. We have similar taste and have been swapping names of bands all summer. She was my go-to girl when I needed a partner to see Jenny Lewis a few weeks ago. And, we are headed down to Norfolk this week to see Pete live at the NORVA. Susan is helping me stick to fulfilling some of my summer to do's I blogged about recently. I forgot to put concerts on the published list but that is definitely one thing I need to take advantage of this summer. So many good people coming our way.

I can't wait to see him in concert!

Follow Friday: Hooked on Houses

I was too busy to post this on Friday so technically it is Follow Monday but then I wouldn't be able to do Music Monday (and I really want to do Music Monday!) Hooked on Houses is a blog I check on when I'm in my creative mode and looking for inspiration around my own home. I especially love Movie Monday where she features interior and exterior shots from television or movie sets. I always pay attention to what's going on behind the acting and Hollywood can come up with some really great houses. Julia over at HOH has compiled a great collection of these homes. Some of my favorites are the houses from Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Father of the Bride (this was my idea of a perfect home growing up), The Family Stone, Brothers & Sisters, and my all time favorite; the beach house from Something's Gotta Give. Love the kitchen with the HUGE island and check out the stove!

Julia has also compiled photos of celebrity homes. Kind of cool to see how the other half lives!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's a Canon

In case you were wondering why there were so many pics over the weekend (or not), I'll tell ya! Markus surprised me with an early birthday present Thursday. A new baby girl named Canon, or EOS Rebel t1i if you want to get technical. She weighs 1lb 0oz and came with an instruction manual that might as well be in French. Like any new mom I am trying to get to know my new baby but she is a tough one to learn. I spent all weekend playing around with the manual settings but decided it's best I shoot in full auto until I learn more about this camera. She has amazing capabilities so I'm thinking of signing up for a beginners photography class at our local vision arts school. Any help I can get with her will be better than none.

Here are some of my favorite photos from this weekend. Nothing spectacular but just wait until I take that class and read a few books recommended from our wedding photographer, Tisha. You will be begging me to show you my skills. Actually, you will probably be begging me to put the camera down and not quit my day job! I'll leave the professional shooting to Tish. She is ah mazing!

I've also started a Flickr account so I can keep track of my progress. It's located in the right column of the blog, feel free to follow me there, too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The rest of the weekend

After all of the excitement of the babies it was time to get my teeth pulled. It went smoothly, I slept until 4:30 p.m., and Markus took excellent care of me. I was a little sad to part with such healthy teeth but I know it's for a good cause and the end results will be worth it. It's just the next two years I'm worried about. Braces went on yesterday. I was feeling great until my Advil wore off around 2 p.m. Then I finally got why everyone was telling me it was going to be painful and sore. It's going to take some getting used to but I am really excited this is finally happening. Something I have want my whole adult life. Yah for braces!

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, recovering, and hanging out with friends. Markus even played hookie Saturday so he could play golf take care of his wife.

We did a lot of napping.

And walking.

Played with the other twins in our life, Capri and Weber. These guys will be 1 next month!

Had dinner with the gang (minus new parents, Lindsay and Carlos).

And finished the night off with a friendly game of Taboo, boys against girls. Boys won but only because they cheat ;)

It was a much needed weekend at home. We both went back to work feeling rested and ready for the long week ahead. Something that rarely happens after the week ends and a new one begins.


Well, I'm officially toothless & metal mouth but more on that later. Gotta tell the fun stuff first. I had off Friday so I could get nice and drugged when yanked my teeth out. We were planning on having a relaxing morning at home but who could sleep when their were 2 new babies coming into the world? I got a text from Lindsay at 5:30 a.m. saying she was finally in labor and my favorite part, "just got my epidural and am in heaven". Little did I know I would be feeling her high later that morning.

Anyway, back to the story. According to Lindsay's doctors they thought she would progress quickly since she was at 6cm when she came in. Estimated time of delivery was before 9 a.m. So we were on pins and needles all morning, anxiously awaiting to hear that mom and babies were doing well. I even took my phone into my procedure in case someone called with news. I was that excited! All that lead to was a bunch of texting while on nitrus, none of which I remember until I checked my phone later in the evening. Kind of like drunk dialing excpet with non of the remorse.

We finally heard from Carlos around 7 that evening. Lindsay tried her hardest to have the babies the old fashioned way but after pushing for 3 hours(!!!) they had to take them via c section. Lindsay and babies were fine the whole time, they think both babies were jockeying for position and trying to come out at the same time. They were just as anxious to meet the world as the world was for them.

So, without further ado I intoduce to you Carlos Oliver Morales weighing in at 5lbs, 16oz

and his baby brother Phillip Gabriel Morales weighing in at 6lbs, 06oz.

Mom, babies, and Dad are doing great and are at home falling in love with each other. I took so many pictures of the babies and I honestly can't tell them apart. They aren't sure if they are identicial or faternal twins because they really do look alike so they are doing a path test to be sure. Stay tuned!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Operation Smile

I'm on my way to the dentist to get my perfectly healthy teeth pulled.  Four to be exact.  It's all for preparation for what I have been calling operation smile.  I have to make my smile worse before it gets better.  Monday I will go to the orthodontist to get my braces on!  I have wanted braces for a looooong time and can't believe it's finally happening.  They will be on for 2 years so it's going to be a long process but so worth it.

I can't believe I'm going to put this picture on the internet for all the world to see but here it is, my before.  Hopefully in 2 years the after will be a dramatic and beautiful change.  There may be a few more wrinkles around the smille but the teeth should be straight, white, and appear smaller!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Music Monday: Tori is Touring

I am a HUGE fan of Tori Amos. I've been listening to her since high school but have never seen her live. She is on tour this summer but I have conflicts on all the dates she will be on the East Coast. Some of my favorite Tori albums are her live ones so I'm really bummed I'm going to miss her again.

But, if you are a Tori fan and would like to check her out live, go here for her tour dates. You can tell me all about it so I can hate you. Just kidding, I won't hate, I'll just be really jealous.

Here is one of Tori songs from my favorite album, Little Earthquakes. I would listen to this song over and over trying to figure out what the lyrics meant. Like most Tori lyrics, you never really know what she is talking about. I think that is why I like her so much. That and she plays paino like nobody's business. And her voice. Love her voice.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Follow Friday: Let's hear it for the boys

I hope you are off from work and somewhere fun with family and friends. But if you are like me and stuck at work on this gorgeous day, I give you the gift of laugh. Last week my follow post was about the ladies but this week it is about the funny men out there. I have no idea how I came across these blogs but I'm glad I did. They keep me entertained on days like this, when all I can think about is getting out in the sun and having some f-u-n.

Ryan is the man behind the blog Pacing the Panic Room and it is a must read for me everyday. He is a photographer located in FL (the central part, as he says) and has created a blog about everything from photography to chickens to his growing family. Ryan's wife, Cole, recently gave birth to their first child, Tessa Tangerine, so his posts have slowed down a bit but you can always read through his archives for a good story. Also check out his Maternity Series where each week of Cole's pregnancy he photographs her growing belly and writes a little blurb to their unborn child. Ah mazing photography and a great way to get to know the man behind the lense.

Another great "daddy" blog is Dad Gone Mad written by Danny Evans. I think the title pretty much sums up the point of the blog. But if not, he has also written a book titled Rage Against the Meshugenah: Why it Takes Balls to Go Nuts. It comes out August 4th and I can't wait to add it to my collection of summer reads. If it is anything like the blog, it will be great read on a subject that not many men discuss but should.

And then there was one

It has been a FUN week around our house. Markus had off for FIVE whole days (not including Saturday evening when got home at 6 p.m. and was able to attend a surprise bday party with me!) 5 days sounds like a lot on paper but when you factor in me working 32 of those hours, chores, and misc. engagements it wasn't as much quality alone time as I would like but I'll take anything at this point. We visited with friends, had lunch and dinners together, spent time alone, and Markus was even able to squeeze in a round of golf!

Rachel and Steven were still visiting from Florida so we were also able to spend some time with them as well. Even though they were here for 3 weeks, it feels like a lot less. There is always so much to do and not enough time. But we were able to squeeze in some family dinners, a game or two of catch phrase, and some fun at Dave & Busters.

Lindsay is still pregnant(!) so we planned a girls night in for her while Markus had a guys night out with Carlos. Probably the last time he will see the inside of a bar for a loooooong time. Just kidding Carlos, kids don't change your life that much ;) Lindsay was super excited to have visitors since she has been on bed rest for 2 weeks. We brought over dinner and her favorite dessert and sat around and talked about girl stuff. Christina and Suzi (both have kids) filled Lindsay in on what birth would be like and all the messy details. Probably not something you want to hear before birthing 2 babies but at least she is well prepared.
I snapped this photo of Lindsay because I'm sure she will want to remember what she looked like at 35 weeks pregnant with twins. Lindsay was nice enough to hold my glass of red wine while I took her picture. No drinking for pregnant ladies, no sir. And did I mention she is having twins? Looking good Linds!

And on another note, Charlie has recovered from his love sickness. He had some quality time with dad and brother and was feeling like his old self in no time.

Is it weird that our male dogs tongue kiss?

But like all good things, it must come to an end. Markus left for work this morning and the kids are headed back to Florida. Which means today will be my first day coming home to an empty house in weeks. I usually don't mind alone time but I think I have gotten used to having company. The house is going to feel empty and quiet without all the people and animals. If you would like to visit, let me know!

Happy 4th of July!!!