Monday, April 30, 2012


And, now I have a five year old.  

No longer a baby, toddler or even pre-schooler, she is officially a big kid.  I'm not sure why five feels so big to me.  Maybe it's because it is the start of the school age years.  No more half day, a couple days a week preschool…she'll be a full on Kindergartner now.  Maybe it's because they say the main developmental time in a kid is age 0-5, so we just have to hope we did well.  Whatever it might be, our family has moved on to big kids and I'm sad to say goodbye to all the little stages of 0-5, but look forward with such excitement for what is to come with these girls.  They are moving from needing me less, finding their independence and growing up.  What I get to do is watch this happen, offer advice, guidance and a whole lotta love.

The Princess party was a success.  Even the cake turned out well if I do say so myself....

I struggled a little bit as it wasn't stacking exactly how I wanted it to and I ran out of frosting towards the end so had to be a little conservative with that, but overall it looked great and I didn't have to make a mad dash to get a replacement.  Layla woke up full of smiles and ready for her day to begin!  To keep with our lazy Saturday mornings I let her pick a movie to watch in bed with us while we had coffee and woke up.  She requested princess pancakes for breakfast, which did not turn out great, but the fact that I put chocolate in them made her forget that they just looked like poorly shaped pancakes and now crowns.  Her and Ava just played the morning away while Matt and I got everything set up for the party.  Then the kiddos all began to show up.  This was a fun one, especially for Layla because she had invited a couple girls from her preschool.  Along with them were of course her cousins and our best friends the Frasers and their kiddos.  Because it was very snowy outside (boo to that) the whole party had to be inside and it was very loud with all these children running around crazy, but they had fun.  We did it all…pinata...


Snacks and crafts.

At the end, after some of the guests had left the remaining kids started playing quietly in the living room and we sat around the kitchen table mess with my sister, brother in law and Amy and Chad and just visited.  (And had a beer to celebrate the end of my kids birthdays and the beginning of my sisters 6 kids birthdays….glad I'm done!)  It was really a lovely day.  For Layla's birthday dinner I had gently persuaded her to pick a restaurant to go to so I wouldn't have to cook.  I really do love cooking, but sometimes just know it'll be too much at the end of a busy day like that day.  She was all about it and my little Lebanese baby said she wanted grape leaves.  Luckily, we finally have a good Mediterranean restaurant in our town and that is where we headed.  We feasted on grape leaves, hummus, tabbouleh, rice and beans, falafel and some lamb (just Matt on that one, I don't eat baby animals)  

It was fantastic to say the least.  After a huge meal and a big day these girls crashed out and I kissed my little birthday girl good night.  Here was the parting gift for the kiddos....

Before the festivities of Saturday began we had a full Friday evening.  We headed to Ava's school for the carnival and spent a few hours in the chaos of hundreds of kiddos and families.  The girls did it all…cake walk (no cakes were won by us), face painting, crazy hair, games, pizza, prizes…whew!  It was a good time.  We hadn't gone to one at her school before, but now I'm sure it'll have to be a tradition.  It's pretty cool all the parents that work so hard to put this thing together.  (I did volunteer an hour of my time to help at the prize booth…so generous of me huh?)  We are so lucky to live in a community with such an incredible public school system.  The teachers, administrators and community all work so hard to make it so great, we're fortunate.
After the carnival we put tired girls down to bed and got ready for date night.  I was exhausted from making the cake and all the carnival fun, so I was so happy to be able to just sit down with a nice glass of wine and watch Matt cook.  He did not disappoint.  The "hippie" burgers I was talking about in my last post turned out delicious!!  Oh, they were just so, so yummy.  We started with really good beef (we always buy local, grass fed beef), then made two thin patties and sandwiched them together with blue cheese in the middle.  He grilled them and then topped them with onions, tomatoes, spinach and of course the secret ingredient…artichoke hearts.  Then add homemade french fries and wine to wash it all down...I done lost my mind.  Hats off to the chef.

Sunday we opted to skip out on church and stay home for awhile in the morning.  This was nice because we had a birthday party to go to and we thought soccer games in the afternoon.  (These ended up getting cancelled thanks to the snow storm!!)  The party was such fun…they had a bounce house so the girls bounced in there with friends for pretty much 2 hours straight, stopping only for some food, gifts and cake and then right back out.  They had a ball.  We hung out there, lazed around for the afternoon and then had a scrumptious dinner of blackened salmon sandwiches, antipasto salad and blue cheese and onion stuffed peppers.  I was kinda experimenting with that last one.  I had all these peppers I needed to use and lots of blue cheese from our burger dinner.  I caramelized the onion with some fennel seeds I had (this was inspired by the manicotti I made a month or so ago), mixed that with the blue cheese and stuffed the little peppers.  I cooked them at 400-degrees for around 10 minutes.  They were oh so yummy…and it was such a pretty, colorful dinner.  

Perfect to have such a colorful dinner because for the first time all weekend the sun decided to come out and say hello.  Too bad she didn't stick around today…it's cold, grey and feels more like fall then spring.  I wish spring would stop being so stubborn and just stick around, I miss her.  (I think of spring and summer as girls and fall and winter as boys…don't know why)  The girls and Matt took advantage of the break in weather to test out his latest addition to our back yard… a fire pit.  Now it can smell like camping even when we aren't and I love me the smell of camp fire!!  Matt tested it by burning some dead tree branches and the girls did by roasting some marshmallows.  It was a success on all accounts.  I see lots of smores being cooked and late night glasses of wine being drank under the summer sky.  

So, we survived the busy weekend and it delivered all its loveliness.  Should be a nice calm week before another full weekend commences….more birthday parties, dance practices and hopefully soccer games. 
Have a happy week.

Blackened Salmon
Mix the following:
-1 tbls paprika
-1/2 tbls onion powder
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp each oregano, basil, thyme
-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Drizzle salmon with with olive oil and then sprinkle the above mixture on it.  Heat a skillet over med-high heat (this gets very smoky when cooking, I always cook it on the side burner of our BBQ).  Once the skillet is hot, cook the salmon, just a few minutes on each side.  If it's not done enough, through it on a hot grill or in a hot oven to cook through.  We did it as sandwiches...on ciabatta with some tomatoes, onion and lettuce and some sort of mayo/mustard mix, whatever we have on hand.  This salmon is also awesome on a salad or just on its own!

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