Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lazy Weekend Goodness.

Matt and I sometimes have different ideas of what makes a good weekend.  I'm usually ready to get out and do stuff.  I like to make plans, create adventures, get out of the house.  As the self proclaimed event coordinator of the family I usually do just this.  Matt, on the other hand, generally prefers a more low key weekend.  Staying home, strumming his guitar, hanging with the kids are his ideal and if he gets a nap squeezed in he is one happy guy.  This weekend was definitely Matt's pace.  And, just like he always enjoys the ride when I have a full weekend of activity planned, I welcomed a lazy one.  I have to admit that is one thing so nice about winter here...it's perfectly okay to stay in and be lazy.  This would never fly for me in the summer.  Mainly because there are only a handful of warm weather months so I always want to squeeze everything out of them.  But not in the winter...you're not missing out on anything out there.  (Says the girl who doesn't ski or snowboard)  Stay inside all weekend?  No problem.  Don't bother getting dressed?  No worries...no one is going to see you.  Only see the sunshine through a window?  Just fine...it's not as warm as it looks anyways.  I'm slightly exaggerating there-we did venture out a couple times...once for ice skating and once for sledding.  I believe strongly in fresh air and sunshine on your face so we got a little of both.  Beyond that all the entertainment we had was within our own four walls.  Things like baking with my eldest while my baby girl took a nap...
Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies...perfect with a cup of hot tea!  (Recipe at the end)
Layla was a little off...maybe tired from a busy week at school or fighting something.  Nonetheless, I took advantage of her taking a rare nap for some time with Ava.  Problem is, it is getting harder and harder to pull these girls from their imagination play land.  They are way into Barbies and ponies and Polly Pockets and will play in their own world for hours.  Matt and I are not invited in this play world.  I love seeing this, but sometimes feel a little nostalgic for the days we were needed more.  Baking is always a way to get them back so baking we did.  Added benefit of filling the cookie jar with these delicious treats.

Besides baking, we did little else this day.  At first I struggled with this...thinking we should be out doing something.  Matt then pointed out "Why can't you just relax instead of always thinking of your next project?"  I took this to heart, grabbed a blanket and curled up with a book while he played his guitar and little girls frolicked in a land of make believe.  It was very nice.  I am re-reading "Eat Pray Love" for the third time, one of my favorites.  Since starting this new yoga class I wanted to re-read it for the meditation portion of it.  Because of how my brain works, I had to start at the beginning and not just skip to the India section of meditation.   Because of our lazy weekend I finished the Italy section which inspired our Gnocchi con Ragu dinner we had tonight.  (More on that later)  Matt was right...it's important to just chill out sometimes.  Everyone doing their own thing but enjoying this separate togetherness.  Something I need to get more comfortable with as the girls continue this whole growing up thing.  We were social Saturday evening, but again it was within the comforts of our home.  Our friends came over for dinner and because Amy and I voted we should order in and not cook my laziness continued.  

Sunday...another day of nothingness.  A day that revolved around cooking a long, slow meal.  Like I mentioned I was inspired by the Italy portion of my book to cook something fabulous.  There is something about cooking a meal that takes most of the day.  The time you put into it, the smells, the build up.  I started by baking some bread which in itself is a process.  The rising, kneading, punching down, more kneading and rising and finally forming and baking.  I love the process.  Then came the gnocchi...boiling the potatoes, mixing with flour, more kneading, forming little pillows of loveliness.  And, finally the ragu.  A very simple rich sauce, but one that simmered for hours just building anticipation to dinnertime.  The ragu recipe is one from an Italian woman from years and years ago.  What was really cool about it was how similar it is to Matt's Grandmas spaghetti recipe.  As I was putting the ingredients together I realized this.  Matt noticed it as well when he took the first bite.  Pretty cool that two very old recipes, from two different cultures are so much the same.  It's comfort food that warms your soul.
Recipe at the bottom
While all this cooking was going on the girls were in yet another fantasy world all their own.  This one began when I brought out four new containers of play dough.  Play dough is one of those things that sits in the cupboard lonely most of the time.  They both got dough for Christmas but haven't bothered to play with it.  However, today it was hours of entertainment.  Something about brand new play dough I think.  They seriously played with it from lunch time to dinner time.  
Lots of "food" play...cookies and cupcakes.  Love it.
I find myself feeling very relaxed at the end of a Matt type weekend.  Sometimes I over schedule us and it feels good to be busy, but you end up feeling like you need a weekend for a weekend.  It was calm and quiet.  I had told myself Friday evening I was going to disconnect for a couple days.  I like to do that once in awhile...just say no to the Internet...no facebook, no instagram, no blogging, not even Pinterest.  I find it cleansing.  There were a few times this weekend I was challenged by it because of all the downtime, but I stuck it out.  I find that at the end of it...that whole world is still there waiting for me.  I didn't miss out on anything.  In fact I think I gain a little because I get to focus more on this, without distraction...


This was a little Friday afternoon treat.  Every once in awhile during the winter months the girls and I go for ice cream instead of something more appropriate like hot cocoa.  We sit in the ice cream shop and pretend it's summer outside.  We talk about what we should go do next on this beautiful summer afternoon.  Layla said go to the dino park.  Ava said go float the stream like we did this summer with Dru and Graci.  I said go hang out in the back yard.  We take it seriously...make comments like "Oh, I wish I would have worn flip flops today, it's just too hot for Boggs"  or "I don't know why I brought my winter coat with me, I don't need it"  It's fun to pretend for that short time.  Pretend when we leave we'll be hit with hot air and warm sunshine on our skin.  I try to encourage the girls to appreciate winter and enjoy things like sledding and playing in the snow.  However, I'm season biased, so chances are these little girls are going to long for the summer months like their mama.  That's just fine.

Hope you had a lovely weekend and here's to a new week.  Cheers!
Yummy new wine we had on date night...organic grapes and sustainable vineyard.

Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies
-2 Cinnamon Sticks
-2 1/4 cup flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-2/3 cup butter, softened
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 tbls cinnamon
1.  Preheat oven to 325-degrees.  Put cinnamon sticks in a sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups of water.  Boil for around 15-20 minutes to make a "tea"  Put in the fridge to cool.  It will have reduced down, this is ok.  You only need 1/4 cup of it
2.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt and set aside
3.  Cream butter, vanilla, 1/4 cup of the "tea"  and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour mixture.  Roll in 1 inch balls, dip in cinnamon and place on cookie sheet pressing down slightly
4.  Bake 15 minutes, cool and enjoy!

Gnocchi con Ragu  (From Cooking with Italian Grandmothers"
Make gnocchi from this recipe and set aside until ready to cook.
Ragu:
-2 tbls olive oil
-1/2 red onion, finely diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tbls fresh parsley, chopped
-1 bay leaf
-1 cup ground beef
-1 cup tomato paste
-1/2 tsp sugar
-7 cups of water
-s & p
1.  Heat oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Add onion, garlic and parsley and cook 5- 10 minutes.  Add beef and cook until browned.  Add all the remaining ingredients.  Heat to boiling and then reduce to simmer.  Simmer, stirring occaisionally 1.5 to 2 hours.
2.  When ragu is almost done, boil salted water for gnocchi.  Once boiling add gnocchi and cook until they begin to float (just a few minutes).  Remove with a slotted spoon and put in the ragu sauce.  Cook for a minute more and top with parmesean cheese.  
SOOOO good.  Enjoy!

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