Sunday, March 24, 2013

Delicious Oatmeal

I have oatmeal almost everyday. The other day I came across a fun oatmeal recipe in Runner's Magazine and had some time this weekend to try it out. It was really tasty and easy. Also, it would feed a whole family (and it is good enough that everyone would want to eat it). Between Jake and I we ate about half of it. Now I have leftovers for the week!

Here is the recipe:

Creamy Cocoa Oatmeal

In a pot boil 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats (I used regular oats and added a bit extra) and 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk (I used soy milk).

Simmer for 15 minutes (or less).

Stir in 1 mashed banana, 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 nutmeg, and 1 cup (or so) of water.

Cook for 10 minutes (or less)

Add 1/3 cup walnuts and 1/3 cup dried cherries (I used cherry flavored craisins)

Serve with maple syrup and blueberries (we skipped the syrup and used frozen blueberries; which helped cool the oatmeal down and make it ready to eat faster. Happy accident.)

It is a pot of oatmeal, not rocket science, so have fun with it and be flexible. I used what we had on hand, hence the substitute of the oats, cherries and blueberries. I cooked the pot in less than half the time the recipe suggested, because that is the way it seemed to work out. Maybe it was because I used old-fasioned oats instead of the steel cut. Just go with it. It was so easy and a really fun way to dress up regular old oatmeal without adding a bunch of sugar or fat. Enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fantastic Mr. Jake

Going through some photos from our recent trip to Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, I couldn't help but notice a certain tone to some of the photos I took of Jake. 

Go with me on this:

Huh? Me, alone, and a random sign.

Just me, strolling along in a picturesque venue on some cross country skies complete with gators. 'Cause that's what I do.

Just me and me gnome hat.

Me, again, in a picturesque location. Hanging out on my cross countries. 

Me, again, sipping from my super handy water backpack.

Hey guys. Just me, in the woods with my water backpack, safely secured as always, and work gloves.

You know, just eating my breakfast of beans with chips and toast with jam, reading the honey label.

 I should pitch this post as a story board to Wes Anderson for his next movie. What should it be titled? 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Classic Fall

Being home all the time means I am now able to create so many more memories at home and with friends.  I had a great Fall this year, packing in all the classic fun Fall activities with Jake and our friends.

We jumped in with both feet on the first day of Fall and made Carmel apples at the Kessen's.

We all pitched in with our efforts and ideas to create some truly indulgent apples.

Danielle was the carmel expert.

Jake was the chocolate and toppings master. As Jake says, "You can never have enough chocolate."

Eating the apple creations were just as fun as making them.

And equally messy... least for me. I don't know how Jake manages to stay so neat and clean all the time.

Although we don't have a yard, I was able to get in on a good yard raking session at the Murrill's.

It was early in the leaf falling season, so we had to rake the entire front yard to get this obviously impressive pile.

Then to boys drove through, jumped in, kicked, and tossed around the pile until there was nothing left. 

I was even fortunate enough to crash the Murrill's trick or treating adventures. 

They were pretty brave; the pursuit of candy will to that to a kid. After ringing one particular door bell, I peered in the windows and thought out loud, "I don't see a bowl of candy anywhere." Mason whispered confidently, "It's in there somewhere." haha.

Without my random schedule and  limited weekends as an excuse, I had no excuses when Danielle asked me to participate in the 15k Hot Chocolate Race in the city.  I trained quite faithfully with the goal of not completely embarrassing myself. 

With the added pressure of my parents coming out for the event, I really wanted to do well.

After waiting an hour and fifteen minutes to get to the start line, I was able to finish strong with minimal humiliation. Despite a few race organization issues, we had a great weekend around town with my parents.

We did Thanksgiving with the Kessen's this year again. Except this year, with my guaranteed attendance, I was able to help prepare a great deal of the meal. It all made me feel quite grown up. Also, it was nice to finally contribute to the preparation of a Thanksgiving instead of just showing up last minute because work didn't need me. 

While I did my share of cooking, I can't take credit for the crisp turkey breast.

I cooked up some brussels sprouts for the first time and was obviously quite proud of the final result. This is one photo of about six or more. I'm a proud brussels sprout Mama, what can I say?

My full (first) plate...

...the table...

 ...and a picture of the cutest little Benny there ever was.

 Finally, we have enjoyed plenty of s'mores, hot dogs, and cups of hot chocolate around the Murrill's new bon fire.

A pretty great fall, all in all.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

How to get away

A few weeks ago my parents came to visit. We did a bit of shopping and eating around chicago, then we took off on the open road towards Galena, IL.

It was nice to get out into the country and enjoy some wide open spaces and fresh air.

We took in some local history by visiting Ulysses S. Grant's home.

We walked around the downtown, 

up a monstrous staircase,

and through original cobblestone streets.

We enjoyed the old architecture and charm of the town. 

We also enjoyed the beautiful views of rolling hills, waterfalls, fields, and lakes. 

The hardest part about the trip was finding Vegan fare. There is just something about the country that drives people to serve meat, cheese, and butter with and on everything. There was hardly a hummus platter or veggie burger on a menu for 100 miles.

The surprising highlight of the trip was the rental car. We decided our Focus's, while perfectly adequate for our normal travel requirements, just weren't going to cut it for a long drive with four adults and their weekend luggage.

It was a sad moment when I returned it to the rental company. When driving my own car now, I imagine I am still gripping the Volvo's soft leather steering wheel, while enjoying the smooth, quite ride. It was bliss to drive. The downside of the car was it got us into looking at cars. We aren't buying one anytime soon, but we are finding our mantra "we don't have a car payment and don't want one" less and less motivating and comforting as we entertain guests and drive around in 97 degree heat with no air-conditioning.

You haunt my dreams Volvo.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


The food was disappointing. Seriously, mine and Jake's tofu scrambles were cold, greasy, and unequally portioned, Brian's veggie skillet had about three pieces of veggies in it, and Lauren's dish was missing at least two different toppings. Oh, and Jake almost didn't get his pancakes. It was an off day for the restaurant. 

My buddy, Ben, didn't let the food debacle get to him. He was just perfectly content to chew on his stuffed hammer and laugh.

...chew on the table and laugh...

...chew on his nose cleaner and laugh....

It was a vicious cycle of Ben going about his cute business and me snapping pictures across Jake's place setting. Both were great sports about the whole thing.

I wasn't the only one sucked into the vortex of Ben's charms. The little girl one table over was quite taken with him as well.  

Oh that smile! Make it stop. It is just too much sometimes.