Friday, March 30, 2012

Five Things

On Top of Spaghetti

This is our latest library find and it's a cute and fast read.  I grabbed it as we were heading out because what child doesn't love spaghetti and dogs?  And I thought there was a song I was remembering from way back when:)  Grab it, your kids will love it.  And to take it up a notch we served a spaghetti and meatball dinner last night with Italian music playing on pandora and our book on display.  Lauren loved it and I'm a total sucker for anything themed!
On Top Of Spaghetti

Oompa Loompa

At William's one year well visit, the doctor had a simple fix for my picky eater.  Stop giving him so much to drink.  Wow, apparently I needed to go to medical school to figure that out because its worked.  Three helpings later...

Lamb Shanks braised with Cinnamon and Honey

When my Canadian cousins visit they always bring copies of the quarterly LCBO magazine, the cover was this picture and I knew right away I wanted to make it.  A few weeks later a friend was visiting, noticed the magazine and had just made the cover recipe.  Saying it was "AMAZING."  My mom then made it and I just cooked it Sunday.  Amazing it was and if you are attending my first ever Easter made the menu:)


You can find the recipe here, but I wanted to include it below just because these links seem to come and go.

The only possible accompaniment for this rustic dish of tender lamb shanks is mashed potato but, in a pinch, hunks of crusty baguette will mop up the flavourful juices nicely too. Since frozen lamb shanks often come in packages of three, feel free to braise all of them; the meat from the leftover one would be perfect added to a shepherd’s pie or tucked into a wrap with crisp salad greens and tzatziki.

2 lamb shanks, about 10 oz (300 g) each
¾ tsp (4 mL) kosher salt
¾ tsp (4 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium beef or chicken stock
¼ cup (60 mL) liquid honey
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 tbsp (30 mL) Worcestershire sauce
4 bay leaves
Finely chopped parsley for garnish 

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

2 Pat lamb shanks dry with paper towels, then sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook lamb shanks for 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Remove lamb shanks to a large plate.

3 Reduce heat to medium and add onion to fat remaining in pot. Cook, stirring often, for 4 to 6 minutes, until onion is golden brown. Add cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

4 Stir in stock, honey, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from bottom of pot.

5 Return lamb shanks to pot, cover tightly and transfer to oven. Cook for about 1½ hours or until lamb is very tender, turning lamb shanks over halfway through cooking time.

6 Remove lamb shanks to a warm plate, cover and keep warm. With a slotted spoon, remove garlic and set aside. Discard bay leaves. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic from skins and mash smoothly. Whisk garlic into cooking juices and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until juices have reduced and thickened slightly. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

7 Place lamb shanks on 2 warm plates. Spoon cooking juices over shanks and sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 2

Clownin' Around

Grandma's school was going to the circus this week and an invitation was extended to Lauren.  Even though she told me she loved everything but the clowns, she seems pretty happy here.

Thank you so much for taking her, we know she had a blast!

Kids Say The Darndest Things

Don't they?  She had put her baby to sleep and explained to me that I needed to be quiet.  Then proceed to tell William....

"William if you are bad, you will never see your daddy again."  

She has repeated a zillion things I've said, but I swear I've never uttered those words.  I need to start writing more of these down because some can be so funny, but some just melt my heart.  The other day we talked about what makes everyone different and did she know?  Her answer "magic."  



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Summer...come back!

I should just be happy that spring is here, but the tease we had last week is making me lust for all things summer.  Living in Michigan, we usually get a 48 hour heat wave that has us dreaming about summer BBQ's and sandals, not actually doing it!  

We enjoyed a picnic at the park, several walks even into the usual cold evening hours, and some patio cocktails.  But because the warm weather stayed so long, I took it a step further.  

If you've ever paid a visit to our backyard you know it's a good 10-15 degrees warmer than the surrounding areas.  The Beacon of Heat is what I like to call it, so while it may have been 70 degrees most places, it was at least 80 degrees in our yard.  

When in Rome, right?  I pulled out some summer water toys, put the kids in their bathing suits and like most middle-aged white males....put my shorts on too:)

The fifteen day forecast isn't looking that sunny, but it's not snowing either. 



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Let's E-A-T!

 Our kitchen re-do has been done for over two years, but I've never gotten around to adding anything decorative. I just couldn't think of what I wanted or what I wanted was way too expensive.  Insert Pinterest.

Ok, ok...if you are sick of my references you probably need to stop reading because there will most likely be more...I love it.  Heck, my mom's even on it.

I pinned this and it's so easy.  I've always liked the look and finding a cheap way of to make it happen was what got me going.  I was lucky enough to pick up the paint and letters at Jo-Ann's with a ton of coupons, so the project cost was even cheaper than I first thought...less than $10.  Without the coupons, I would have been hovering around $20, still not breaking the bank.  But who doesn't love a good savings?

The tutorial references "pearl paint,"  I'm pretty sure I got the same thing, but the color was metallic pearl.  It looked white when I opened it, so I did a test before starting and putting the white over the black, did in fact make silver.

Follow the tutorial from the link and your set.  This took less than an hour to do.  

Below the E-A-T sign is just one of the carved wood pieces from the craft store.  They sell in all different sizes and shapes.  Billy sanded and spray painted with chalkboard paint.  Attach with cute ribbon and our bare wall finally had some wow.

I've been writing the menu on it or some cute quotes to inspire me for the day.  
Billy usually teases me about the quote, but I don't care:) Sometimes you need something staring at you in the face to change your attitude or remind one is perfect!

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Little Ballerina says Hello Kitty

Little Ballerina, I love you:)

There wasn't anything graceful about the class.  More like chaos.  Kids were crying for their mama's, staring off into space, and doing the opposite of what the teacher asked.

Lauren wasn't shy, but was most certainly distracted.  I watched her sizing up her classmates, specifically checking out their ballet shoes (which we didn't buy) and tutu's. 

There are 19 girls in this class, which in my opinion is way too many for this age group. 
You get what you pay for, but $30 for six weeks is a great price to determine whether or not she even likes dance.  

And then we celebrated Miss Emma's 4th birthday!
It was all Lauren talked about after gymnastics, we couldn't have gotten there fast enough.  "When are we going?"  "We need to leave now"

 Wills was quite the stud!  One dude to all those chicks...he'll be in heaven someday:)

I wish I had more pictures of the cute decorative touches for the Hello Kitty Theme.  Lauren absolutely loved her favor...a Hello Kitty shirt she proudly wore all day yesterday!

And my favorite part...these cupcakes:)  We were sent home with a few and I enjoyed the last one after lunch today!  Yum!

(Billy, you say I never compliment your photography skills...thanks for taking this cute can't even tell my nails are crazy chipped)



Thursday, March 22, 2012

Master Bedroom: Gallery Wall

After I discovered Pinterest one of my first searches was to find inspiration for a gallery wall.  I've always wanted one in our house and when I knew we were switching some rooms around, the master bedroom seemed like the perfect place.

My inspiration was found here.  There were a few other gallery walls I liked but this was the best.  I wanted our most recent family photo to be the center of the gallery wall, and played around with different display styles before  finally deciding.  The key for me was placing everything on the floor, taking a picture of it, and repeating it with different options.  Then I chose the one I wanted.  Spaced it how I wanted and Billy did the rest.

I also chose all matching frames.  I like these frames from Crate and Barrel because they can be displayed horizontal or vertical.  We can change things around without having to add more holes in the walls...except for the rectangle frame:)

I love all the pictures we chose.  Almost all of them tell a story to us...that picture of Lauren looking out the window is something she loved to do right around 12 months, and now William is doing it.  And the landscape picture was taken when Billy and traveled to Colorado for a long weekend.  We hiked that day and just happened to catch a group of Elk.  It was a special trip and the picture reminds me of it.
I'm sure the pictures will change as we create more memories and I hope we can add a few more frames too...right, honey?

Another blog I follow, A Thoughtful Place, recently posted a gorgeous gallery wall.  Enjoy!

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My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kiss Me I'm One!

Here a few party pics from William's birthday bash.  We kept it small and easy for a few reasons and think this will be the way to go until he can remember.  And we may also decide that the way to go will be outside our home.  Parties are work!
Anyone remember parties at Major Magic's?  Easy peasy, right?

Custom onesie c/o of Grandma Mary.  She did it for Lauren and after a last minute reminder, did for Wills!
You are the best, mom!

Just a few decorations...the "i'm irish" sign was from Home Goods, but I made the wreath and the birthday sign.  Lauren made the shamrock paper plate at school.
The birthday sign is actually really easy if you have some scrapbooking tools.  I print the letters here on different colored cardstock, and then glue on top of scrapbook paper in coordinating prints/colors.  Use a hole punch and thread ribbon.  You can see the one I did for Lauren's 3rd birthday too.
Also, if anyone out there local wants to borrow...they are yours!  I have a few others too.

My mom and brothers arrived a little early and we were able to snap a few pictures.  This is such a cute picture of Sean and William.

Godfathers with their godchildren!

Awww...I just want to eat him up!  And I do, everyday!

As I said on Friday, my cake pops were a fail.  Before that even happened I had gotten a last minute idea for party popcorn.  It was so good and I don't even like popcorn.  A crowd pleaser too, I think because I did single servings.  People love anything they can pick up and munch on.  Store bought cookies replaced the cake pops, oh well:(  Better luck next time.

And the entree was Reuben Bar.  
We had all kind of fixins' and the panini press heated up and ready to go!

As you can see he got his cake...and ate it too:)
(Ahh...couldn't resist)

Best part was he was willing to share...thank you Kroger for the $3.99 smash cake!

We couldn't have asked for a better day...gorgeous weather, exactly the same as last year.  Billy made a great video of William's first year and it was the perfect way to end the party.  And can I share?  I would if I could, but I'm not that tech saavy.

Yes, it was a lot of work.  It was worth it, but I'm glad it's over.  

Our little family.  Makes me smile.



Sunday, March 18, 2012

William's One!

I wanted to share a few of the photos I took last month as "William's One Year Pictures"...caps because it's very official.
We had just done family pictures at six month's old and when some cousin's came into town with a portrait lens, it totally made sense to play paparazzi.

The two below are my absolute favs.  

Especially this one...he might be serious but I love the lighting.  Sweet boy!
We had a nice little party Saturday and I'll share more soon...our computer and back-up drive are FILLED UP with video and pictures.  Time to move things to make room for more memories!

Mark and AnnaMaria

Thank you so much for letting me use your camera and of course, for all the love you give to your American grandkids:) 

I didn't take this picture, but I love it:)



Friday, March 16, 2012

Five Things

The Experiment

I took Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to really put Lauren first.  I disconnected myself from Pinterest, email, and Facebook when she was around.  And when I went to make a phone call or write my blog, I told her before, basically prepping her for what was to come.  

She had a few accidents Tuesday, one Wednesday, and nothing Thursday or today!  We have been busier over here with home projects as well as focusing a lot of attention on William turning one.  I can't say if it worked, but maybe the "prepping" technique is something she needs.  I wanted to share what I had done because I know potty training can be hard, and even though regression is common I wanted to see if it was attention that she was craving.  William's big day is tomorrow...hopefully she is accident free:)

Warmer Weather

Everyone is welcoming the warmer temps, even with an extra long to do list in preparation for the party...I'm making excuses!

We met some friends at Quarton Park in Birmingham to feed the ducks.
 The kids loved it!

A little bit of bread for the ducks...a little bit of bread for the kids.

Cake Pops

The latest dessert trend won't be making a debut at the Crawford house tomorrow.  What a disaster.  Over.  Done.  I was warned (I should have listened to you, Joc!)...not so simple.  In the trash and debating what to do next...ugh!

Saint Patrick's Day Crafts

What did go well for me were a few crafts for the party.  I'll show more after the party, but I cut out a few shamrocks and hung them from the chandelier.

On this vase, I just took some green yarn, hot glued it at the bottom to start and at the top after I was finished.  So easy!  Then I took a shamrock cut out and used velcro to stick it to the yarn.  My thinking was I could easily replace it with something Sparty if I used velcro vs. glue.

March Madness

Admittedly, I'm not into the madness this year.  This is the first time in ten years I have not filled out a bracket, I just couldn't find the time.  I guess it just means I won't be watching anyone but the Spartans.  Of course, I'm gonna cheer on my team!  Go Green!



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Go-To Goodness

My girlfriends and I are always sharing new recipes, but I wondered what are their favorite go-to meals?  Ask and you shall receive!

A few of my besties sent me their favs that make it in the monthly rotation.  

Courtesy of Megan L.
"We love this one and make it ALL the time.  I use TJ's lasagna "sheets" and turkey or chicken sausage sauted with the onions instead of canadian bacon.  It's super good and you'll be able to do it by heart in no time!"

Caesar Club Sandwiches
Courtesy of Jocelyn P.

Rotisserie chicken (sliced)
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
1 large ciabatta bread
2 ounces romaine lettuce, washed and spun dry
Sliced tomatoes
Caesar dressing

Pre-heat oven to 350.
Place the pancetta on a cookie sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to drain on paper towels.
In a medium bowl, mix romaine and Caesar dressing. Slice the ciabatta in half horizontally and separate the top from the bottom. Toast the bread in the oven, cut side up, for 5 to 7 minutes; cool slightly. Top bottom of bread with salad, followed by pancetta, sliced chicken and tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

White Chicken Chili
Courtesy of Beth H.

1 32 ounce box chicken stock
3 cans white beans, drained (14.5 ounces)
5 cups chicken (I use 3 whole chicken breasts and cook all day)
1 jar salsa (16 ounces)
1 block pepper jack cheese (8 ounces)
2 tsps cumin
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 cup macaroni noodles

Combine all ingredients in crock pot, except noodles for 8-10 hours on low.
1/2 hour before serving, add noodles and shred chicken breasts.

And from me...

Courtesy of

I recently found this, but have already made it three times because it is such a crowd pleaser.  The flavors of the marinade may not be for everyone, but both kids L-O-V-E!
I've made it with thin and thick porkchops and purchased the Naan's at my local Kroger.

Baked Penne Pasta

Lastly, this pasta is a go to with my mom, Jocelyn, and me!  A great meal to take a family  or to serve as a make ahead meal for company.

Courtesy of Jocelyn (she is the originator)

1/2 pound dry penne pasta 
1/2 onion, chopped 
1/2 pound lean ground beef 
1 (26 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce 
3 ounces provolone cheese, sliced 
3/4 cup sour cream 
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded 
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain. 
In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the penne, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining penne, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. 
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted. 

Thanks to Megan, Jocelyn, and Beth for sharing!
Let me know if you try any of these, I'd love to hear!



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweatin The Small Stuff

The last few days have been challenging with Lauren and I've focused a lot of energy on the why of it.  Why is she testing me?  Why is she regressing with potty training?  Why is dressing for PJ day so difficult? (that was suppose to be the easy day)
I got some advice from a few different friends and talked things over with Billy and we are going to do a little experiment to see if things might change.  

Stressing about accidents and thinking it's my fault isn't going to do any of us any good.  It's all probably normal and hopefully it will work itself out.  And instead of sweating this small stuff I need to celebrate some big stuff!  

With the change in weather we brought Lauren's bike up from the basement and I can't believe how much she's grown since her birthday.  Her feet were barely touching the pedals then, but now the fit is almost perfect.  She can get the pedaling, but because the bike is still a little big, steering is difficult.  We had one wipe out but she got right back on.

Wills doesn't seem to be as adventurous as his sister when it comes to the outdoors.  He is sitting back and observing this whole new outside world before starting to explore.

At first I had to carry him from the patio to the play area because he wouldn't walk on the grass.  It worked in my favor as I had to pick up pounds of dog $h*t!

The big birthday is Saturday and I just can't believe it's been a year since we welcomed our little leprechaun into the world:)

 I had my moment to stress and put blame on myself, but as was a better day!  I took the morning to myself, some much needed time to regroup, so I could start the afternoon fresh.

We blew bubbles, went for a walk to the playground, and cooked together.

Lauren's first picture with my camera...kind of likin' her style:)