Thursday, September 24, 2015

Annalyn the Time Traveler

Today, we dabbled in time travel. Not sure the exact year, but I'm guessing 1969ish, when my mom was 5 and wearing this dress :) 
I wonder if she was as equally cute and curious as her granddaughter. Something tells me yes...

Monday, September 14, 2015


My little Emma is quite the chatterbox these days.  All of a sudden, her language development is taking off.  She parrots everything we say, in addition to saying so many words on her own (I couldn't even count them when her doctor asked).  Words like "shoulder" and "elbow" are pretty cute to hear her attempt, words like "pink" make me sad that she's hit the princess stage so soon, and words like "kiss!" are just precious.  But I have to say, of all her words right now, "too" is my favorite.  ("Wal-ly!" for Wally Kazaam is a close second.)

Annalyn asks for a snack and Emma runs over saying "too!"

Annalyn puts on a dress and Emma pulls one out of her (or Anna's) drawer, "too, too!"

Annalyn sits down to put her shoes on and Emma brings me hers "Too, shoes, too!"

Annalyn pulls a chair over the island to help me cook, and you guessed it, Emma follows "tooooo!"

Annalyn gets a book off her shelf and Emma reaches up "too! Goose, too!" (Duck & Goose is her favorite book series at the moment.)

I've started realizing that I naturally address Annalyn first, then when Emma pipes in, I respond with "you, too, Em?"  That probably explains her latest "too" trend. That and the fact that little Emma is obviously pretty smitten with her big sis.  They are best buds and little rivals at the same time.

It's so different seeing the big/little sis roles from a mom's point of view. As a kid, I always hated when my little sister (5.5 years younger) insisted on copying everything I did/said/wore/etc. Now, of course, I think it's adorable and I can see how much she loves and adores Annalyn.  Sorry, Linz, I didn't understand back then.  Love you, too. ;)

Tired, Hired, & Admired: What I "knew" about myself at 30 when I was 18

As I come up on my 30th birthday, I can't help but reminisce about how much I've always looked forward to being 30. Opposite of most people, I couldn't wait to grow up at age 18.  I was tired of high school life.  Not like most people my age who just wanted to "break free" from their parents- my parents are great.  I was just itching for what came next.  I'm one of those people who always has a plan, always has a list, and always looks ahead.  It's one of my biggest strengths and at the same time, something I have to constantly remind myself to temper. One way that I've found to help appease this urge to always be moving forward is to take a moment to look back.  Look at where I was, where I hoped to be, and how far I've come.  Even if I'm not exactly what or who I always thought I would be by age 30, I am awfully grateful and proud of these 30 years.  Here's what 18 year old Ashley, in all my infinite wisdom, "knew" about me at 30: 

high school graduation
18 years old

Friday, September 11, 2015

Runza Casserole

Remember when I made these runzas because I had a major craving for one and Michael wouldn't drive 11 hours each way to get one?  Yea, well, still not feasible apparently.  If anyone has a private jet they could loan me on a whim a few times a year when I really need a runza, I'd really appreciate it.  I'll even pay you in pie.

Oooooor, we can make a runza casserole, says the logical, practical, realistic mama in me.  This is about as easy of a "runza" as I can come up with.  For about 30 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes of cooking time, you can have a runza-esque dinner!  Just like regular runzas, you can get creative and personalize them.  My suggestions:  cheeseburger runza - add ketchup/mustard, bacon, and pickles; spicy runza - pepperjack cheese and jalapenos; mushroom swiss runza - swiss cheese and mushrooms.  You get the picture!  I decided to start with the classic cheese runza since it's always a hit, and it did not disappoint.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Runza Casserole

Ingredients: (makes 6 servings)

- 2 tubes refrigerated crescent rolls (get the dough sheets if you can find them, they don't have the perforations!)
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 c. chopped cabbage
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1/2 t. garlic salt
- 2 t. sugar
- 1 c. shredded cheese

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Basil & Spinach Pesto

Do you ever find yourself with an overabundance of basil?  After making many a caprese salad, two big batches of these strawberry tarts, several glasses of blueberry basil lemonade, a couple watermelon orzo salads, and these beautiful lasagna roll-ups, I still had more basil than I knew what to do with this summer.  Especially since my tomatoes haven't done so hot this year.

Hmm, what to do with lots of extra basil....

Uh, make pesto, of course!  And then make some more (it actually freezes well, too!).

Pesto is great as a pasta sauce (leave about 1/2 c. cooking liquid in with the pasta before stirring it in), as a dipping sauce for veggies, to top chicken, or as a quick appetizer with some crackers.  I like to use half basil, half spinach to tone down the basil flavor a little for the kiddos and also add some dark green leafy veggies (always a plus in my book).  Here's how Mama makes it:

Basil & Spinach Pesto

- 1 c. packed basil leaves
- 1 c. packed baby spinach
- 1/3 c. pine nuts
- 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/2 t. salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of paprika, optional