Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hearty Black Bean Soup + some big news

I have a great recipe to pass along, but first I wanted to share some big news.  Yesterday, I registered for the Big Wild Life Skinny Raven Half-Marathon!  It's done and paid for and now I have to train and get ready for it.  I am so excited and nervous all at once but I'm glad that I have until August to 'train' for the race.  I'm not expecting to be in the top ten or anything (ahahahaha) but I do want to take the race seriously and train hard enough that I know I give the effort my best on Sunday morning, August 18th.  I'm hoping to run some of the other local races over the summer to as a way to work up to the the half-marathon.

And now we can get to the food.  As you've probably noticed if you've ready any of my recent posts, we are on a soup kick here at my house.  Riggs loves soup, and I've discovered that I really do to.  Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, is the discovery that even Steve is happy having soup 2 or 3 times per week, sometimes even without meat (gasp).

This recipe is from Bob's Red Mill, and I usually always like the recipes provided on their packaging, and other than the bag of beans, I had all the other ingredients on hand.  Yay!


Bountiful Black Bean Soup
hearty & delicious

2 cups roasted corn*
3 TBS olive oil (I used coconut)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 stalks of celery, including leaves, chopped
4 cloves of garlic (I always have garlic lying around, but wouldn't you know it, when I actually went to make this recipe, I realized I was out, so I had to use garlic powder instead)
8 cups veggie stock/broth
1/2 package of black bean soup mix
2 cups butternut squash, cut into large bite-size cubes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat; add onions and celery and saute until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for one more minute.  Carefully pour in stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits.  Stir in the Black Bean Soup Mix and tomatoes.  Add the butternut squash and roasted corn.  Add herbs, stir and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 1/2 hour to prevent sticking.  Add more stock or water if beans and squash absorb too much liquid.

*to roast corn:  It is convenient to use frozen corn.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spread froen corn on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven and cool (or just pour right into soup like me).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

skirts and braids, oh my

I've always loved wearing dresses and skirts.  One of my favorite days of the week growing up was Sundays, when we wore dresses and bows in our hair.  I remember the little thrill of excitement I got each week as I struggled to put on my pink tights under my silky slip with lace edges and the tiny little flower at the neck.  I felt just like one of the heroins from my favorite books.  Easter was especially exciting, when we would wear little gloves and hats too.

Once we got to church, I would twirl and twirl up and down the hallway, loving the way it felt when my skirt ballooned out around me and then pressed close back against me when I stopped twirling.  When I was in fifth or sixth grade I even decided that I was going to wear a dress every single day.  I don't know how long that lasted, but my family still laughs about it with me from time to time.  

I'm not really sure when I stopped wearing dresses and skirts as much, but I know it's partially been due to the fact that the latest styles in dresses and skirts aren't often what I'm looking for.  The rise of maxi skirts and dresses in the current world of fashion has made me so very happy, and reminded me of how much I really love skirts and braids and bows and all things feminine, the girly style of times past.  I don't know if this is true for everybody, but for me it's often hard to pin down exactly the 'look' I'm going for with clothes and accessories.  There are so many different styles that I like, but some aren't comfortable or practical to actually wear on a regular basis, and some just aren't really me.  Over the last couple of months I've focused on really getting to know myself and letting my personality and who I am show through in my personal style.  Today for my Oh, How Pinteresting link up, I'll be focusing on pins that really showcase dresses, skirts and hair styles that I truly love and would actually wear in my day to day life (now I just need to find some full skirted, high-waisted skirts...).  I hope you have a happy Wednesday, and if you live in Alaska, I urge you to get out and enjoy the little bit of snow that fell in the night!

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Source: via Whitney on Pinterest

Source: via Whitney on Pinterest

Source: via Whitney on Pinterest

Source: via Whitney on Pinterest

Source: via Whitney on Pinterest

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

yogurt dots and carrot chips

I have been out of easy finger foods (that don't make a mess like bananas or avacado if squished and thrown, which Riggs just loves to do) for a few weeks, but loathe to go and buy any at the store.  They are so expensive for the organic ones, and they still have more ingredients than is ideal.  So I finally got around to making some yesterday, and I was pretty happy with the results.

First I made some yogurt drops, with blueberries, plain yogurt and a little agave.  I mixed them all together in the blender and for some reason they got really soupy and so the 'drops' were pretty flat and disc-like.  Riggs still loved them, but I'll have to figure out what I did wrong in the next batch so they're more 'drop' shaped and easier for him to pick up off his tray.

This picture from pinterest [with the caption 'yogurt drop fail'] cracked me up because it looks exactly like my first batch, before I got a method for squeezing the runny yogurt out of the bag:

Next time I think I'll try to make them look more fancy too, like this:

Source: via Whitney on Pinterest

Then I made some carrot 'chips', which was really easy and Riggs loved these.  I did too, they were soooo good.  I just need to get my mandolin out and make the slices a bit more substantial and they would be perfect.  I followed these instructions, and am now excited about making other veggie chips.

Monday, January 28, 2013

life lately via instagram

Does anybody else look back at their iPhone pictures in the evening and realize there a few that you just forgot to post somewhere along the way?  I do this nearly every week, which is why I randomly end up posting lots of them at once on my blog like this.  We had a great weekend with beautiful sunshine, although it was just too cold (-25 below!) for us to get out and go skiing with our little guy, who is still quite congested and apt to having some pretty nasty coughing fits.  

1| After about a year and a half of hemming and hawing we finally decided to just go ahead and get the vitamix.  We make smoothies everyday for breakfast and lots of soup, and now that we have been using almond meal/flour for most of our baking, it just made sense to get a tool that worked a bit better than the $30 blender we had previously been using.  And the little mini 4-cup food processor we got as a wedding present has just about been worked to death.  I had the entire weekend to get acquainted, and it is just  s o amazing!
2| Despite Riggs being sick, we managed to make it up to Government Peak Recreation Area a few times during the week to hit the trails.  The fresh air was good for both of us and the exercise was good for me.
3| Riggs has really developed quite the personality and is always doing silly little things, like putting this lid on his head - he things it is just the funniest thing ever.  I think he is the cutest thing ever.
4| I found this beautiful glass insulator when i popped into the thrift store in Palmer on Saturday to add to my little collection.
5| I fretted about what to wear on Sunday since we were visiting a new church near our house for the first time and finally decided on this outfit. it might have been a little bit smarter to wear pants since it was so cold, but I love the colored tights.
6| Riggs colored for the first time ever Sunday after church while we were waiting for our food at the Green Store.  I've let him try out coloring before a few times, but he was always much more interested in eating the crayons than putting them to paper.  But it was Steve who attempted it this time, and for some aggravating endearing reason, Riggs always picks up new things from daddy the first time no matter how many times mama has tried to teach him before.
7| We went to the library to enjoy the sun without freezing to death.
8| There was some poppyseed cake with whipped cream frosting...but it only lasted two days.
9| We all piled in the truck to go for a drive and see what we could see.  Steve got out to throw the ball for Tutka, but Beau and I were smart enough to stay in the warm truck and enjoy the view from there. (I just realized two seconds before publishing this that I already posted this picture yesterday, but hopefully you'll excuse my little mistake when you learn that I made the photo collage in the middle of the night during a little bout of insomnia - oh and if you notice the time that I published this yes it is 1am and yes 1am is the middle of the night to me, lol).

Oh and also, Sunday night before Riggs' bedtime, we had a family art project.  We traced his little body, all of our hands, and recorded lots of little Riggy measurements, then hung it up in his room so he could look at it.  It was lots of fun and he loved crawling all over the paper after we were done and pointing at parts of his body - so cute!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

twenty five degrees below zero

It is cold today, that dry, crisp, and starkly beautiful cold where the sun is out but you can't really feel any warmth from it.  When we left for church this morning it was -25, and once we had eaten lunch and headed out for a little drive in the sun it had 'warmed up' to -15.  I wanted to get some pictures of the snowcapped mountains under the bluebird sky, but I was just a little too warm and cozy in the truck to get out and tromp around for some really great pictures.

I'll share a cute one that I did manage to snap; Beau and I wish you all a blessed Sunday!


Friday, January 25, 2013

my one year old

This morning, with a bemused smile on my face, I watched as Riggs explored the house in his usual way, picking things up to look at them, then throwing them thoughtlessly as he moved onto the next item of interest.  Sometimes he would stop and look back at what he had thrown, thinking hard before crawling over to it and snatching it back up again, apparently having decided he did actually rather like whatever it was he had so carelessly discarded.  As I watched, I thought about what a cheeky toddler he is turning out to be. It was at that moment I realized, with a pang of guilt, that I had forgotten to write a post all about Riggs as a 12 month old, as I had promptly written and posted every other month of his little life.

So now here I am thinking about all the bits and pieces that make up my little one year old.  At this very moment, he is sitting in my lap in a rare moment of stillness that his first real cold has brought about.  It is so sad to hear him struggle a little for breath and to cough so pitifully, but there is a small little part of me that has enjoyed these last few days just a bit, because he has been so cuddly and apt to crawl over and just rest his little (well, actually, it's rather large) head on my lap for a moment before continuing on in whatever mischief he is involved in.

As far as milestones go, there isn't really anything new to report.  He loves crawling around and does not seem inclined at all to even think about trying to walk.  The funny thing is that I know he could at least stand without holding onto anything, as I have seen him unconsciously do so when standing next to the couch many times, but he does not try to stand when there is not something to pull up on, and if you stand him up manually, he will promptly drop down to his knees and crawl away impatiently. I'm not sad at all, to be honest, as cute as it will be to see him take his first steps.  It's quite a bit of work as it is keeping an eye on him as he crawls around.

Here are ten things I want to remember about twelve month old Riggs:

1| He has the most endearing way of calling Steve 'dad-n', which just thrills Steve to death.  It is pretty cute.
2| Speaking of words, he talks to himself nearly all the time now and will 'speak' quite earnestly to us in his personal form of gibberish when he is really passionate about something.  For example, he will often stop what he is doing and crawl over to one of us, then pull himself up to stand and hand us (quite forcefully) some token that he has been playing with, raising his eyebrows and saying 'ah!', then dropping down to his knees and crawling a way with a mischievous little smirk.
3| He just started signing 'more' when he wants more of whatever it is he's eating.  Although sometimes, he just wants more so that he can feed it to the dogs.
4| He has really started saying 'mama' when he actually needs/wants me, and it is so sweet that I smile every time I hear it, even when he is being quite whiny and unnecessarily pathetic.
5| Just yesterday when he was crawling in the snowy driveway, he discovered his first rock (the first of what I can only imagine will be a long line of interesting - to him, that is - rocks).  He kept it in his mittened hand as he crawled around outside, and then brought it in to share with Tutka.
6| His favorite food is still definitely soup, he just loves the stuff!  We have been eating soup about 3-4 nights a week and I'm glad that Steve and I aren't sick of it yet, as it makes it so easy to feed Riggs and for us all to get lots of healthy veggies too.
7| Books are still very interesting to Riggs, and he loves to point to things on the pages, like dogs and babies and the sun and clouds in the sky.  He will sit the most still and listen the longest when Steve reads to him, which does make me a little jealous.
8| He still bites everything, so if that cute little face gets too near, we have to be very careful of those eight sharp teeth!
9| He is starting to play with toys 'the right way' now, and can actually match up the shapes to their corresponding slot in the shape sifter toy and can pound the 'nails' like the most skilled of carpenters on his little wooden pound-a-peg toy.
10| He loves music, especially Celtic music or folk music.  It is so cute to look over and see him bobbing his head to the fiddle or flute.

His hasn't grown so very much over the last month, at least not on paper.  He only gained 14 oz and about an eighth of an inch in the last month, which puts him at 22 lbs 2oz (41%) and 31 inches long (86%).  But his dimensions have changed enough that he has completely outgrown his 6-12 month clothes and is solidly in 12-18 month clothes, although many of them are still a little baggy on him.  We use cloth diapers at home, but I keep disposables on hand for leaving the house and when I'm feeling lazy, and when I went to buy the last box of them, I had to upgrade to size 4!

Here is a little letter I wrote down for him in his baby book, as the last entry in that journal, which only has space for the changes he went through from birth to twelve months old.

Our Dear Little Riggs,

Where to start?  We love you so, so very much.  You have completely changed our lives and we can't believe how blessed we are to be your mama and daddy.  Today you are one year old, and I can't believe how much you have grown and changed.  You have turned the corner into toddlerhood, and are so busy every single moment that you are not asleep.  You are quick to smile and laugh and you just light up any room you are in.

I hope you will always know how much we love and cherish you, and how happy we are to have you as our son.  No matter where you go or what you do, I hope you feel our love and keep a little bit of home in your heart.

Mama and Daddy