August 29, 2014

The Bloom of the Week || 12

Now that I'm twelve weeks into this blooming thing, I want to share a couple thoughts I've had on the process of finding and photographing flowers.

I just can't help marveling at how much life there is here. Plants everywhere! So much green! Which is kind of hilarious because, hello! It's the blazing desert! Brown and dry and hot like the guts of a volcano!


But people have really gone out of their way to make this seemingly barren place an oasis. I know there's some controversy over how much water we all use for landscaping, but for me it is absolutely worth it. A body needs trees to commune with every now and then.


I was happy to finally visit the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert this week, where we found tons of western horsenettle (among other things, of course). That place is the perfect example of embracing desert beauty while creating a habitat where even ducks and geese and turtles and people like me who crave rivers and lakes and oceans can thrive. We'll definitely be visiting more regularly once the weather cools down.

Maybe you miss the mountains or the big city or the forest or the beach, but I have no doubt that there is something beautiful hidden--probably in plain sight--where you live. You just need to take the time to see it. Don't knock where you live until you've done a little exploring. And definitely don't eat these horsenettle berries. You'll get crazy cow syndrome and die.

Just sayin'.

***

I've been mulling over these pictures of what the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables actually looks like all week. Somehow eating all that produce in one day seems both daunting and tremendously easy at the same time. (Maybe the daunting bit comes from my distaste for celery and tomatoes, which are included multiple times. Blech.)

Is it weird to tell people you like them via business card? Because I totally ordered business cards that say "I like you" on them. Should I have specified that it's not like like? I'm married, guys. Let's not get carried away. Anyway, I got the cards from Minted and can't wait till they arrive!

As I mentioned yesterday, we invited people over for French Bread Friday, and they brought a bounty of breads from Proof. SO GOOD. I know I've mentioned this before, but please consider donating to Jared Allen's indiegogo campaign. His raisin walnut country bread with a dab of honeyed goat cheese is divine, and I'm not usually a fan of either raisins or walnuts. Proof bread. Amen.

Thanks to this, I've been singing everything to the tune of the TMNT theme song. You should try it; it's amazing.

The art history nerd in me has been chuckling over this for a week. ahh sorry i just   i really need to look at this matchbook right now    sorrryyyy  HA!

And because I love my sister-in-law Emily and she loves Bon Qui Qui and everyone loves Montell Jordan's 90's hit "This Is How We Do It"...there's this. You're welcome.

Be nice. Remember who you are. Do rad stuff. See ya next week.

August 28, 2014

End of the month list update: August

This has been a heckuva month. I haven't crossed much off the list, but I'm exhausted just thinking about everything that I've done.

Go on a vacation sans babies: David and I left the girls with his mom and went to Los Angeles for my cousin's wedding. It wasn't exactly a "vacation" but it certainly felt like one. Even when our hotel's fire alarm went off in the middle of the night (false alarm, thank goodness, but no less aggravating) we were so thrilled that we didn't have to calm children down after the fact. Plus I just really like hanging out with David.

Reach out to my friends: We had my friend Becca and her husband Danny over for French Bread Friday last week...something we've been meaning to do for ages. It was fantastic. In fact, it was the easiest "dinner party" ever. Anyone else want to join us some Friday evening?

Learn to play the ukelele: Guys. I can play all the kids' songs! I mean, most of them only require three chords (if that!) but still. It's really fun to play and sing with the girls. Plus I know a couple real songs. I'm considering making a video and posting it. If I did that, do you promise not to laugh at me?

Bake something new each month: I made variations on these no fewer than three times in a week. And then I made this because it looked yummy and I had poppy seeds. And then I made these because Mila wanted cupcakes. And then I made these, but they came out disastrously flat. Tasted great, but soooo flat. My friend Jen said I don't need to cream the butter and sugar as long as recommended; something about the fats breaking down faster in our heat/dryness? I don't know. I'll try her suggestion and see what happens. If it fixes the problem, then that's probably why I haven't been able to make a decent cookie in months. Too much beating!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love baking?

Remodel the kitchen: It's been at a bit of a standstill this month. But my sconces arrived last weekend! And we're having our backsplash installed this weekend! We're back in business!

Post a monthly think piece: My post about depression and suicide wrote itself, really, which to me says that it really needed to be written. I hope it was helpful to someone.

Contribute to my other projects: Uh...major guilt here. I did post to the Beesley Project once or twice, but I'm really slacking off. Time to step it up.

How is it almost September already? This year has just flown by. Guess I should get cracking on the goals I haven't yet touched...

August 27, 2014

Healthy Foods Toddlers Love: Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Sometimes my girls are picky eaters. And since--like their father--they turn into gremlins when they're hungry, I often find myself desperate to get them to eat something. Anything. We always have cheerios and goldfish on hand because I know Margot will eat the former and Mila will eat the latter. Our snack stash has saved lives. Literally.

But I try to feed my family natural, whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Extra sugars and empty calories and all kinds of artificial and preservative chemicals are not my favorite. I mean, you do what you gotta do (see above paragraph and the fact that I took my girls to Mickey D's for chicken nuggets for lunch yesterday, thankyouverymuch) but having easy, homemade, healthier options is always nice.

Since I'm assuming other people might be interested in super easy, fairly healthy, kid-friendly recipes, here is the first of (hopefully) many recipes that meet those criteria. And this one barely even counts as a recipe, it's so easy.

When I first made this chocolate banana smoothie, both girls went nuts over it. Mila downed like half of it by herself, and Margot was torn between drinking and dancing because she was so excited. I was thrilled because 1) it was pretty dang delicious and 2) I didn't have to force it down anyone's throat! Hallelujah!

A chocolate banana smoothie is now our favorite 3 o'clock snack. There's just enough sugar from the banana to satisfy a craving for sweetness, but enough protein from the almond butter and milk to keep your energy up for quite a while. It takes like two minutes to throw together. The girls think it's a treat, so when I let them have as much as they want it's like the best day ever, and they're not begging for cookies or popsicles five minutes later. Best part? I get to drink the leftovers. Yum.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie
Makes enough for two little girlies and their mama. Adjust quantities as needed.

1 ripe* banana
1/4 cup almond butter
6 ice cubes
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder**
1 1/2 cups whole milk

Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth. (Mixture will be fairly runny.) Pour and serve. Use a straw if you want to avoid the amazing chocolate mustache action going on here.

*The riper it is, the sweeter your smoothie will be. I use bananas up until they're turning dark enough for banana bread, at which point I make this instead. Which is far less healthy but also quite delicious and a big hit with toddlers and husband's alike.

**I use Hershey's special dark cocoa powder. It is brilliant. Can't recommend it highly enough.

August 25, 2014

Mila Monday

Amelia: 169 weeks

She was "doing exercises" in the kitchen this morning.
Sure wish I were as flexible and graceful as she is.

Margot 71 weeks

She woke up from her morning nap just as I finished making some mac & cheese.
It's her fave. She was pleased.

August 22, 2014

The Bloom of the Week || 11

Red yucca is apparently a landscaping staple around here. It's everywhere! These ones are at the park just by our house.

Some people keep the flowers trimmed back, but more often than not they stretch long and graceful toward the sky.

Just when I think something is done blooming around here and everything has gone to seed, it starts up with another round of bright colors.

Oh, desert plants. You'll never stop surprising me.

I work with the 16- and 17-year-old young women at church. On Wednesday this week we went to the nearby family history library and learned how to digitize old records, such census reports or death certificates. It was kind of awesome! Of course it was super awkward when someone's race was listed as "colored"--way to be classy, 1919 Virginia--and sad to see records for mothers who had died in childbirth, but it was also quite fascinating.

We also looked at our family trees. I started tracing mine way way waaaay back and found some great stuff. Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish royalty. Some king known as "The Wicked". One line went back into the BCs to the King of the Trojans. As in they of the giant wooden horse. No big deal.

(BIG DEAL! SO COOL! *insert much geeking out here*)

Anyway, my only link today is to Family Search. You can sign up for free so you can help with indexing or just play around in your own family tree. And, for you Mormon folks, you can prepare family names to take to the temple, which is the next thing on my list. It's surprisingly fun and really easy to figure out.

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend!

All photos taken and edited on my iPhone with the VSCOcam app.
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