Thursday Thoughts: Taking a Break

Thursday Thoughts

After almost 4 years of solid blogging, it’s time for me to slow down and focus on my family and myself.

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Photo credit: Magical Moments by Megan
Blogging has been a great adventure and I’ve “met” some fantastic people. I’ve enjoyed cooking around blogging events, expanding my culinary horizons, and working with fun companies during themed weeks.

I’ve been feeling the pull to step back from Sew You Think You Can Cook since before last year’s holiday season. But how could I take a break during the busiest cooking and baking season of the year?! I couldn’t!

A little over a year ago I thought I’d attempt to monetize Sew You Think You Can Cook, but I never managed to find the time to put towards exploring that side of blogging. And truth be told, making money had never been my goal.

I started this blog almost 4 years ago as a way to stay busy. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for over a year and I simply needed something to help take my mind off it!

Since we’d been married in 2010, I’d been perusing Food Network, food blogs, and foodgawker and cooking unique dishes each night. I’d type up the weekly menu as well as each recipe and send that Word Document to my mom. I’d include how I planned on changing up each recipe. So in a way, I’d already been blogging. I just wasn’t photographing every little bite!

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Photo credit: Cher Hanna Photography
My site will not be dead. I’ll keep my eye out for some blogging events that I simply can’t pass up and join in the fun. In the mean time, I’m going back to my old way of menu planning and going back through these past 4 years of cooking and remaking some family favorites. Odds are I’ll be re-photographing them and updating some old posts. Because, can I really cook something and not photograph it anymore?!

So what are my plans now?

This summer we have some travel time on the calendar, Firecracker’s 3rd birthday, and some VBS fun at two different churches.

Healing my sprained wrist is also a major priority! I tripped over a soccer ball in April, landed on my weak wrist, and two weeks later I found myself at the doctor’s office receiving a brace. Another two weeks later I returned to the doctor’s office to get an X-ray, as my wrist was getting worse. Latest news: it might be fractured. I have an MRI scheduled next week. Either way it’s going to take a while to heal. Raising two young active toddlers doesn’t exactly allow me much recovery time. Which brings me back to needing to take a break. Doing too many dishes aggravates my wrist and typing isn’t the easiest thing to do either.

The biggest and newest project I’ll be tackling is homeschool.

The cost of preschool is quite high here in the South Bay of Los Angeles and after some serious discussion, we’ve decided that I would homeschool Firecracker for a year. If it goes well, maybe for two years. Three if Treat stays home with me until he goes to Kindergarten, too!

I know the time I used to set aside after bedtime for blogging will need to be preparing our curriculum (aka crafting prep!). Who knows, maybe this blog will be turning into a crafting blog with some cooking instead of a cooking blog with some crafting.

As an exhausted mom, I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to sending Firecracker off to school a couple of days a week. However, the more I’ve been thinking about our schooling plans, I’ve been getting a little excited. I think it will be fun to figure out what Firecracker really is interested in and finding ways to use those interests to help grow his brain.

I know I’m going to miss having alone time with Treat, but other moms have assured me that he really isn’t “missing out.” Besides, he’s going to learn a lot by watching his big brother!

I’m looking forward to seeing where my little bit of “R&R” will take me. I’m hoping for more relaxed playtime with my boys. For more “me time” before crashing into bed each night. For less distracted time with my husband.

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I’d like to thank my readers for stepping into my little world of the internet and I hope to see you again, soon!

#BrunchWeek: The Giveaway 2017

This post is sponsored in conjunction with #BrunchWeek. I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the #Brunchweek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

Welcome to the fifth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures. We are so excited to have you join us this year as we celebrate Brunch and prepare for Mother’s Day.

Forty Bloggers from around the North America will showcase their best brunch dishes, from cocktails to cakes, danish, tarts, and pizzas – with 170 recipes, there is something for everyone! Our amazing Sponsors have donated some great prizes for the #BrunchWeek giveaway. Thank you so much, Sponsors, for your generosity. We have an incredible giveaway below and we’d love if you would take a moment to read about it and what you can win!


Prize #1 Red Star Yeast is giving one winner an amazing baking set, which includes “I Knead to be Loaved” apron, French rolling pin, Bench/Dough cutter, Oven mitt, Dough scraper, Bamboo spatula, Silicone spatula, Measuring spoons, Kitchen towel, 6 3-strips of Red Star Yeast, Red Star Yeast recipe book, Kansas Wheat Commission recipe book

For more than a century, home bakers have trusted the high quality and consistent performance of RED STAR Yeast. Inspiring bakers from novice to professional, our goal is your baking success! Visit redstaryeast.com for hundreds of tried & true recipes, baking tips and how-to videos. Better yeast. Better bread. Every time.

Prize #2 Dixie Crystals is giving one winner 1 case of 2-lb Extra Fine Granulated Sugar, a silicone baking mat, White Marble Pastry Board and Marble Rolling Pin, and Dixie Crystals red ruffle apron.

Since 1917, Dixie Crystals® has been the South’s choice for high-quality sugar and sweeteners. Our pure cane sugar products are all natural, non-GMO and provide consistently delicious results.

Prize #3 Cabot Creamery Coop is giving one winner $50 assortment of Cabot Cheese, one Berghoff Cheese Knife and one Slate Cheese Board

Cabot is a co-operative owned by 1,100 dairy farm families throughout New England & New York. In our farmers’ communities, they are often the ones to volunteer first. We honor their community spirit with our Reward Volunteers program. Learn more & start logging your volunteer hours today! www.RewardVolunteers.coop

Prize #4 Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors is giving one winner a set of their pure flavors: 2-oz each of Orange, Lemon, Peppermint, Almond, Chocolate, Coffee, Rose Water, and Orange Blossom Water.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been crafting the world’s finest vanillas and flavors since 1907. Each of Nielsen-Massey’s all-nature pure flavors are crafted with premium ingredients, sourced from around the world and chosen to meet the utmost quality standards. From lemon to peppermint to coffee or chocolate, Nielsen-Massey’s pure flavors offer convenience, quality and consistency to ensure your favorite recipes taste delicious every single time. All products are gluten-free, allergen-free, GMO-free, all-natural and Kosher.

Prize #5 Michigan Asparagus is giving one winner an Asparagus Steamer Pot with $40 gift card to Williams Sonoma and a box of fresh Michigan Asparagus

Fresh asparagus is the taste of spring and Michigan is one of the largest domestic asparagus growers in the U.S. Michigan Asparagus is available mid-May through June and is the only hand snapped harvested asparagus which means more usable asparagus and less waste.

Prize #6 Rainier Fruit is giving one winner a set of 3 stoneware pie plates with $40 Williams-Sonoma gift card and a box of fresh Lady Alice apples.

If you love apples, pears, cherries and blueberries than Rainier Fruit is the fruit brand for year. Nestled in the shadow of Mount Rainier, we focus on growing fruits and living a lifestyle that is Wholesome to the Core and brings you the best of organic and conventional grown fruit including our proprietary Lady Alice apples and all your other favorites like Honeycrisp and more.

The Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Nielsen-Massey, Rainier Fruit, and Michigan Asparagus for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The #BrunchWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Six winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The #BrunchWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social channel mentioned in the #Brunchweek posts or entry.

#SundaySupper: Summer Dinner Salad Recipes

When my mom was here in April, I asked her if there was anything in particular she wanted for dinners during her visit.

Her answer, not surprisingly, was “something light!”

My brother and his wife recently bought a house in my parents’ neighborhood and are doing some remodeling. While the construction is taking place, they’re living with my parents.

My dad travels a lot for his job so my mom doesn’t tend to cook much when he’s gone. Simple salads, high protein snacks, and lots of fruits and veggies are usually enough.

My brother and sister-in-law do cook, and enjoy doing so. (From what I hear I’m going to be insanely jealous of the kitchen they’ll have once their first home is complete.) The food they cook is delicious, too! But the diet change had her craving “something light.”

“Something light” isn’t usually in my wheel house, so I took to Pinterest hoping to find something in my long list of saved pins to satisfy. I sent Mom a link for a Superfoods Salad and was met with a resounding “yes, please!”

If you’re feeling the tug to healthier eating as the summer draws near, be sure to scroll past my recipe for some more great dinner salad options from the Sunday Supper crew.

Kale Superfoods Salad for #SundaySupper from Sew You Think You Can Cook

This salad was so fantastic, that I made it again the following week when my in-laws were visiting! Even my “meat and potatoes” father-in-law enjoyed the salad.

I know I’ll be making the salad again. It’s satisfying and filling without leaving you feeling weighed down. As a salad with a bunch of ingredients, it’s easy to assemble. Particularly if you have some leftover quinoa in the fridge already! Because kale is a hearty green, the salad will keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator up to a week.

Kale Superfoods Salad for #SundaySupper from Sew You Think You Can Cook (2)When my in-laws were here we cooked up some chicken and had pita bread, too. I forgot the Greek yogurt/sour cream in the dressing the second time around and it works just beautifully. Literally. While I preferred the touch of creaminess to the dressing it’s not necessary, and does make for a more photogenic salad.

The recipe below feeds 2-3 people. (I tripled it to serve a party of 5, which was an over estimation.)

Kale Superfoods Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C frozen edamame, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and torn
  • 1/2 C cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 C blueberries
  • 1/2 C red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/3 C shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 C sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 C walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 C orange juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp sour cream or Greek yogurt

Steps:

  1. Toss kale, quinoa, edamame, fruits, cheese, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.
  2. Make the dressing: Whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, garlic, sugar, and Greek yogurt/sour cream in a small bowl. Season to taste with S+P.
  3. Pour dressing over the salad and carefully toss to evenly coat.

*This recipe is adapted from Averie at https://www.averiecooks.com/2016/06/twelve-superfoods-salad.html*

Kale Superfoods Salad for #SundaySupper from Sew You Think You Can Cook (3)

Sunday Supper Summer Dinner Salad Recipes

Brilliant Beef Salads

Choice Chicken Salads

Superb Seafood Salads

Vibrant Veggie Salads

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Thursday Thoughts #21

Thursday Thoughts

My mom has been dying to do the “touristy” things ever since we moved out to SoCal one year ago.

The idea of driving around to look at famous people’s homes on a giant bus doesn’t appeal to me too much, but I’ll do it with her eventually. Before we leave this duty station anyway.

Update: I’ve been corrected. Mom wants to do a Studio Tour, not a bus tour. (Phew!) I don’t think kids are allowed on studio tours so that will be logistically more challenging to arrange. 

Seeing the Hollywood Stars might be kinda cool, if it weren’t just so darn crowded, and from what I hear, dirty. But again, I’ll make that trek with her. Maybe the next visit, Mom.

Seeing the Hollywood sign was a little more doable and an excursion I was simply waiting for the right time to do it. I did a tiny bit of research and asked a couple of friends if they’d gone with children.

So when my mom was here last week, off we went to Griffith Observatory to catch a glimpse of the iconic Hollywood sign.

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Finding information about the sign was easy. A quick browser search came up with this incredible website where we found great information regarding trail options based on your difficulty desire.

Reading that the trails run through snake territory, I knew that I wanted to be in long pants (in addition to closed toed shoes). My mind had me picturing narrow trails with a lot of foliage where snakes could take shelter.

Maybe the more strenuous paths would be that way, but the easy path we took at the Charlie Turner Trailhead was fairly smooth and quite wide. Strollers would have been easy enough to use on the path, too. A bit of a push uphill, but definitely doable.

There’s zero shade on the trails so be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, water, and hats.

But wait, Lauren, your kids aren’t wearing hats in any of these pictures!

You’re right, they’re not. Both of my boys have hated hats since the beginning of their time. We swore when Treat came around we would get him to like hats being a winter baby in Ohio. No such luck. There might be hope in our future though! We gave them baseball caps at the LA Galaxy game last weekend and Firecracker liked it and Treat was iffy on it, but it did last longer than any other thing that’d been placed on his head in the previous 17 months!

I am quite glad I took the opportunity to check out the Hollywood sign this spring. I couldn’t imagine doing this hike in the summer. At least not with little children. I immediately regretted putting them in pants.

IMG_3085We spent about two hours on the trail. We didn’t get too far in that first hour going at the pace of a 17 month old, but we did make it to a great viewing area before turning around.

The kids were a little bit all over the place. Want to know how to get kids to keep moving when all they want to do is play in the dirt? Goldfish!

IMG_3114We had packed a lunch and enjoyed it at the Berlin Forest. An area with a few trees providing shade and a couple of picnic tables and benches. As it’s near the start of the trail, we left the “picnic basket” in the car and it was simple enough for my mom to get some “extra steps” down to the car to bring up our lunch (and the stroller!).

Mentioning the car brings me to my next point.

Parking.

The website I referenced earlier stated that parking at the observatory was free. Maybe it was at one point, but it isn’t still. It costs $4/hr and you have to pre-pay.

There’s plenty of free parking available further down the mountain, but as we really weren’t sure where we were going we opted for convenience. With the kids, it was definitely a good idea!

The parking lot as a splendid view of the sign, so if that’s all you’re really after, just do a drive by. (See the first photo of this post.)

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Kid-Friendly Easter Round-Up

Kid-Friendly Easter Round-Up | Sew You Think You Can Cook

Tomorrow kicks off Holy Week and that means we’re only 8 days away from Easter!

If you’re looking for great ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen, look no further! I’ve got some fabulous Easter and spring recipes to brighten up your week, thanks to my food blogging friends.

What kid doesn’t love Bunnies?:

5 Easter Bunny Ideas | Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • There’s nothing cuter than these Dutch Easter Bunny Breads from Tara’s Multicultural Table!
  • The Preppy Kitchen has some adorable Bunny Ear and Bunny Butt Cupcakes to tickle anyone’s “awww” reflex.
  • I know my kids would get a good giggle out of these Bunny Butt Pretzels from Adventures of Frugal Mom.
  • Bunnies aren’t just for eating, either! Staying Close to Home made some Bunny Rabbit Bar Soap.
  • Why not throw those soaps in these super adorable Bunny Gift Bags from A Fork’s Tale?!

Chicks are essential to Spring time celebrating:

4 Easter Chick Ideas Sew You Think You Can Cook

With Chicks come Nests:

5 Easter Bird Nests | Sew You Think You Can Cook

And with Nests come Eggs:

5 Edible Easter Egg Recipes | Sew You Think You Can Cook

Eggs aren’t just for eating either, here are great ways to decorate them this Easter:

5 Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs | Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • My Sweet Mission might be my personal hero with these Tie Dye Easter Eggs!
  • Did you ever think to use temporary tattoos for decorating your Easter eggs? Well Bree Talks did and these Metallic Tattoo Eggs are pretty trendy.
  • Kids will definitely have fun decorating these Shaving Cream Colored Easter Eggs from 4 Sons ‘R’ Us.
  • For little kids, decorating plastic eggs might be the safer way to go and these Jeweled Easter Eggs from Stacey Homemaker are perfect!
  • If you prefer a more natural approach, At the Corner of Happy and Harried has 6 different color ideas for you to try.

An Easter Round-Up wouldn’t be complete with uses for Peeps:

3 Recipes for Easter Peeps | Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • Home Made Interest knows that S’mores aren’t just for summer time, by using Peeps this S’mores Dip is perfect for Spring.
  • Did you know you can make your own Homemade Marshmallow Peeps that are even Paleo!? Forest and Fauna did.
  • Let kids play with their food with this Edible Peeps Playdough from 4 Sons ‘R’ Us.

Please, don’t forget the reason for the season:

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Resurrection Rolls from Coffee With Us 3

 

Thursday Thoughts #20

Thursday Thoughts

Oh, hello there, Thursday Thoughts! It’s been some time.

I’m probably due for some mindless typing on the internet.

Except this post won’t be too mindless. I do have a general agenda to discuss.

Our week of clean eating dinners!

My husband has gotten back into Tough Mudder racing this year. Back in 2013 he accomplished 5 races (I tagged along for one of them. You can check out the videos (you can check out his videos on his YouTube channel)! After that CrossFit became king of the roost and he became a certified trainer, working at gyms in both Florida and Ohio in his free time.

Tough Mudder issued new levels of obstacle racing, including the Toughest Mudder. Toughest Mudder is an 8 hour race from midnight to 8 am, as many laps of the course as you can accomplish.

My husband gathered a couple of coworkers to tackle the course with him and they’ve been training all year.

Last weekend was the big event!

There wasn’t any big dietary change, however it was “dry season” beginning February 1st.

The weekend before the race, on a sleepless night, I had the brilliant (?) idea to try a week of cooking “clean” for us. I found a weekly meal plan on Daily Burn and picked 4 recipes to make for dinners.

clean eating

To kick off the week and provide leftovers to help us out with lunch, I made Turkey Chili with White Beans. I only had half a pound of turkey in the freezer, so I just used that and added in a can of corn. I also used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. This chili was 100% toddler approved! Firecracker had seconds on each of the three days he ate it.

Tuesday night we had a Savory Steel-Cut Oatmeal. This oatmeal with asparagus and mushrooms is topped with an egg was intended to be a breakfast dish on the meal plan. I’m “too American” to be able to handle a non-sweet breakfast, but my husband says he’d totally eat something like that for breakfast! Instead of a sunny-side-up egg, I simply did a fried egg. I used dried thyme, shallot in place of garlic, and omitted the truffle oil.

On Wednesday, I prepped the Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers during naptime so that dinner would be prepped for my husband to cook while I was at Pure Barre. I was concerned with the burger patties while making them, but they turned out to be perfectly moist and full of flavor. I used packed Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (that might “break the rules” of “clean eating”) so left out the oregano. We ate these on toasted whole wheat buns. I topped mine with tomato, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. My husband ate his with pepper jack cheese, tomato, and avocado. Even Firecracker ate a portion of the patty, voluntarily and repeatedly! Another, kid-approved recipe.

The final night of my cooking, we had company for dinner. I made the hearty Balsamic Chicken Recipe with Barley and Chard. Instead of barley I used some lentils we’ve had in the pantry for ages. Again, I used dried thyme. To be honest, this meal wasn’t my favorite. I felt it to be lacking in texture. Having some beautiful fresh bakery bread with butter helped.

So, how did the race go? It went well. The cold did get the better of him and he was forced to miss out on his personal goal of 25 miles by 5 miles (1 lap). I’m insanely proud of him for making the smart choice and taking care of his body and health. To go 8 hours in the wet, cold, and dark is insanely commendable (and only slightly crazy).

Would he do it again? Absolutely!

What did he learn? Pack extra pants! He packed extra shirts to change out of with varying layers of thickness, but only one pair of long leggings. He’d also train in his wet suit so as to be able to bring it when the temperature drops. (His rule is, “no new gear on race day.”)

He did a great job packing fuel. He had portioned out baggies of nut mixes, some breakfast burritos, a juice from the farmer’s market, bananas, berries, and plenty of “goo” packs for energy. He has a hydration backpack which he used while training, but found it unnecessary during the race. He ran out of water after the first lap and didn’t want to waste time refilling it. Tough Mudder did a great job of having plenty of hydration stations along the race route that it wasn’t an issue.

Congratulations, Team Cinnamon Roll, on completing a Toughest Mudder!

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Leprechaun Lunch Bag Puppet

I’m just popping in today to share a super quick and adorable St. Patrick’s Day craft you can do with you little ones. (If your kids are older than mine, they might actually make a Leprechaun with the crafting supplies.)

I had saved a few ideas on Pinterest and showed them to Firecracker to pick a craft to do and he immediately chose this Lepruchaun Lunch Bag Puppet. A trip to the Dollar Tree shortly followed for some large googly eyes and brown lunch bags – we already had everything else we’d need.

Here’s what you need: brown paper lunch bags, construction paper (green, black, yellow, orange), large googly eyes, marker, buttons.

Firecracker had been looking forward to crafting all week long and the first thing he wanted to do Friday morning was make our craft. Turns out those brief moments were the best of the day, as a trip to the doctor’s office shortly followed to discover that between my two boys, they had 3 ear infections.

With Treat having just woken up as well, he got to join in the crafting fun. For him, that meant pulling all of the buttons and googly eyes off of the paper bag, but he seemed to enjoy himself. IMG_2712

Firecracker just wanted to glue a bunch of googly eyes on his Leprechaun[‘s hat] and a few buttons. He had no interest in creating the orange beard.

The night before crafting day, I cut out the paper hats, buckles, and strips for the beard. I then glued it together to ensure that my trusty liquid Elmer’s glue would work. Spoiler alert: it works perfectly.

Leprechaun Lunch Bag Puppet | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com