Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend fun & pizza!!!

So…what was to begin as a very low-key, nothing weekend turned into a very full Saturday.  We got up our usual lazy way on Saturday…good ol Curious George on PBS for the kids and a cup of perfect coffee and a brand new InStyle Magazine for me…aww…the best way to wake up. After pancake breakfast we decided to take advantage of our Museum membership and the rainy morning and head up to the Museum of the Rockies to see the new art exhibit.  The exhibit is all artwork from the Guild Hall Museum in NY…artists such as Jackson Pollack and Andy Warholh…beautiful work.  What I really loved was how much the girls got into it…stepping back to observe what was in the piece (Matt recommended this to them, take that step back to see all you could see)  It was like little art connoisseurs in the making…even if they only noticed the "really pretty colors"  After a morning at the museum we headed over to one of our favorite pizza joints for some giant slices of the best cheese pizza and then a stroll downtown to enjoy the spring like weather that appeared after the rainy-dreary morning. 
Once home, we laid the chicas down for some rest/nap time and I enjoyed the first outside run of the year.  I like running on the treadmill…I like getting to see exactly how fast I'm running, increase it slightly in five minute intervals, and I love watching old reruns of Sex and the City as I run (makes the time fly by).  BUT…there is something so incredibly therapeutic about that first run of the season outside.  Something about the fresh air, your feet heating pavement instead of a machine, the traffic around you and the view of the mountains instead of Carrie and Miranda in front of you.  It was amazing to say the least.  I've been thinking so much lately about living here or living someplace else that I've had a hard time enjoying what was right in front of me.  So…on this run…I went deep in thought…thinking about being happy and leaving any negativity out there on the run…to enjoy everything that was going on right then.  If we stay here in Bozeman, we will be 100% happy.  If we leave and raise little beach babies and try something crazy new…we'll be happy.  We'll always be happy because we have each other and we have our family and life is good.  (to quote a lame T-shirt company that my mom loves).  Needless to say that run was good for me.  I came home feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and exhausted from running against the wicked wind all the way home. 
After I got home from my run, I found Layla sound asleep, Ava sitting outside drawing a picture of our apple tree (she must have been inspired from the art at the museum) and Matt strumming his guitar next to her.  To further enjoy the absolutely wonderful day we headed over to the dinosaur park on bikes and scooters and let the girls run wild with ALL the other kids from town enjoying the one of very few nice March days here.  We're talking, nice enough that I put sunscreen on us.  (First time since Florida…love it!!)  And…we got to eat dinner outside on the patio again.  Granted it was tomato soup and grilled cheese cuz I thought it was gonna be cold, but I'll take soup on the patio any day.  (Soup was NOT made from scratch like most of my cooking….I tried to make tomato soup from scratch once and after a LOT of work it made enough to fill maybe a shot glass full/person…I have this organic tomato soup that I buy that with a touch of fresh basil, sea salt & brown rice is WAY better and SO, SO easy!!)  The night ended with a performance from the girls.  Now…this kind of activity takes me back.  My sisters and I were the queens of "performing" for our parents…we did plays (that we wrote), Kids Inc. shows and anything that we could convince them to watch.  Seeing the girls have this same enthusiasm is so hil-ar-ious!!!  For this particular show, Ava was the conductor and Layla played several different instruments.  This show was complete with costume changes (marked "backstage" with numbers for each section) and Ava "conducting"  (shaking a broken spatula in the air) and Layla playing a toy piano, maracas, tambourine and harmonica.  I LOVED it.  They totally crack me up…especially when half the costumes they wear are old ones that I used to wear for dance recitals (so glad I kept those!)  The grand finale was them pulling us "on-stage" for a dance all together.  Luckily, Matt turned on some Pandora Michael Jackson for this so we didn't have to dance to the pre-recorded music on the toy piano.  It was a priceless moment.
After the girls went to bed, we were flipping through Netflix to settle into our Saturday night and came across "Breakfast at Tiffany's"  I was so excited to see such a classic on there that I wanted to add it to watch in the future when Matt is out of town.  He mentioned he had never seen it and I was like "WHAT?!!"  Then, I remembered he's a dude and I should question him if he had actually seen it.  I told him…give it 10 minutes, if you don't want to watch anymore we can watch anything you want.    (more in a laugh at all the funny ways movies were done in the sixties than the enamored by the whole story way that I was)  Never the less, it was the icing on the perfect-Saturday-cake.  I forgot how much I adored Audrey Hepburn in the movie and coveted pretty much EVERYTHING she wears in that movie and went to bed feeling all warm and fuzzy.  When I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain on the window, I just thought "could it get any better?'
Sunday was complete opposite of the warm-enough-for-flip-flops weather…cool with rain/snow, but totally cozy.  We headed to church to celebrate Palm Sunday.  Now, I was not raised in any sort of religious fashion and have only begun feeling comfortable in a church recently.  (after going to the same place for the past 7 years since Ava was born).  I found today, learning about the reasons we celebrate Palm Sunday (after having Matt google it, because even his good Catholic upbringing couldn't bring me an immediate answer), very interesting and moving.  Maybe it was the passion the pastor spoke of it or maybe it was the smell of the palm fronds we all had, but something just made me feel a little emotional about it all.  Something about something so much bigger than all of us.  (great way to explain it huh?)  Anyways….can't really put all that into words…just a really good morning.  After it was time to come home and get ready for company.  With neighbors coming over, and one an owner of our favorite local restaurant, I wanted to make something impressive.  I had to go with pizza…a total people pleaser, comfort food and something I feel that I can cook very confidently (recipes at the end!)  I made four different kinds and, mmmm were they good.  

One neighbor ended up backing out and I was a little unsure about the ones that were coming over.  I don't know them as well and I tend to be a little shy when out of my comfort zone (hmmm, I wonder where Ava gets that from!)  But, I know I have Matt who could make conversation with anyone, so I knew we'd be ok.  Well…what a lovely night we had.  Great company, great food, great wine…so fun to learn more about new people and see just how much you have in common.     And, I love entertaining…cooking for people, setting the table just right, and finding just the right station on Pandora for the group.  Very enjoyable evening, topped off by the fact that we have such awesome little girls, who play so great with other littles, and listen intently to adult conversation (talking about Ava here) and ask questions.  Even if it is "What does it mean to sleep with the whole town?"  when someone mentions a person's indiscretions.  Hard to put that in 6-year old terms, but it was good for a laugh.  Gotta love it.
This week leads up to Easter…a holiday that runs a close 3rd to me.  (Christmas first and Thanksgiving is second, or maybe a tie for third)  I look forward to dying Easter eggs and doing the whole bunny thing, but in the true spirit of the holiday remembering why we celebrate.  There will be candy, good food and lots of family.  In the midst of it all we'll continue to plan Ava's birthday which is just two weeks away, and this little girl is so excited she can hardly stand it.  (I have to say I am too…I get more excited for their birthdays than my own.) 
Wonderful start to April.  I made the decision to "disconnect" this weekend…no Internet, FB, anything.  I'm happy with the choice.  I'm back on today and I enjoy all that this technology has to offer, but once in awhile I think it is good to shut it down.  All those little moments that I may have taken to check my email or something that only takes 5 minutes…I used to check in on my girls or have a conversation with Matt or just sit calmly for a moment with my own thoughts.  It was good…I have the tendency to get caught up in it all…FB, email,  blogs…I liked letting it go for a weekend a have a reality check…maybe not for everyone, but it was good for me. 
Ready for a new month…one step closer to summer.  And, I like the rain….April showers, bring May flowers. are the recipes:
Pizza Sauce:
-1 small can tomato paste
-around a tbls of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
-couple tbls of honey
-couple cloves of minced garlic
-around a 1/2 tsp of oregano, basil, marjoram, onion powder & 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper & red pepper flakes
-warm water (adjust how much you need to your desired thickness of sauce)
Mix all the above together and let sit for around 1/2 hour so the flavors can blend (you can refrigerate and use later)

Dough:  (This is a thin crust pizza...I do a thick one too, this is just a good classic)
-Mix 1 pkg yeast, 3 tsp sugar, big spoonful of shortening & 1 cup warm water with a mixer for a few minutes.  (I sometimes throw in a few spices like basil or sage for a flavored crust).  Slowly add 2 tsp sea salt  and around 4 cups of flour until it begins to form a dough...knead for a few minutes adding more dough if necessary to make a nice smooth dough.  Rub it with some olive oil, place in a bowl and let it rise for about an hour.  Divide into two balls and let rest 20 minutes...roll each out and place on a pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal & you're ready to put on the toss and toppings.  

Our family favorite is the "yippie" I mentioned above (named cuz we think of ourselves as part hippie part yuppy...hence-yippie)...I sprinkle the sauce with lots of cheese toss on some artichoke hearts and garlic stuffed green olives and torn fresh basil.  (I sometimes add some shredded parm on top for good measure) and bake in a 400-degree oven until done.  SO, SO good!! 

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