Sunday, April 7, 2013

April Showers...

What a difference a week makes.  We went from bright, warm days to dark, ominous skies for the weekend.  Matt and I often refer to them as "Portland" days.  We only lived in Portland a handful of months, but the low clouds and constant smell of rain take me back to our days there.  What I found somewhat depressing there, I love here.  After the recent moisture you can see the grass starting to green and color come back to our town.  And, the smell.  It smells so good.  My friend Amy is obsessed with the rain...we used to sit on her front porch under big blankets watching the rain in high school.  She loved it, and I think it's a little because of her that I also do.  It also makes me crave graham crackers dipped in a tub of frosting because that was our go to snack those evenings on her porch.  

This afternoon we set out to go to the park and the adventure ended before we even made it there as the rain started pouring down.  By the time we got home, the rain had stopped so we decided to throw on rain boots and take a little stroll.  If you can't go to the park, jumping in rain puddles is the perfect alternative...

We found a few worms, discovered Ava had a hole in her rain boots and then came home to snuggle on the couch for a movie to warm up.  Somehow the days you make no plans turn out to be the best.  

The weekend started a little early for Ava this week.  The girls school had a horrible stomach bug rip through it.  When Ava mentioned her tummy hurt Friday morning, I didn't hesitate when I said she would be staying home.  In fact, I almost didn't send them on Thursday after we heard how many kids had been out sick the day before with the illness.  After going back and forth I decided to send them.  You can't live in a bubble and there are germs everywhere.  Luckily Ava didn't appear to actually be sick.  Poor thing worried herself sick.  They had really hyped it up and I think she simply didn't want to be there.  Sometimes a mental health day is fine.  And, having her home with me when she wasn't really sick meant I got some special Ava and mama time.

It also meant I got some extra cooking time.  We made some homemade pasta and bread for date night and used one of our final bags of frozen zucchini for zucchini bread.  There is one bag left which means we will finish it up right before it's time to start growing them again.  I don't have the canning of vegetables figured out, but by shredding and freezing our zuc's we get to eat them throughout the winter.  The frozen tomatoes didn't last quite as long...I used the final bag of that weeks ago.  Anyways...Ava may have stayed home, but I made sure she did a little homework too.  It can't all be baking and snuggles on the couch.

I enjoyed my morning with my girl.  Little moments with each girl individually don't happen all that often, so I soak them up.  They may begin to happen more and more now that we are entering the world of play dates.  When Ava was in Kindergarten I wasn't all about them...I was still adjusting to her being away from me all day, I wasn't about to let her go hang out at a strangers house.  Now we are a few years into this school thing, I understand play dates are a big thing to kids.  Layla has been requesting one with a friend for awhile and I told her...give her your phone number and make plans.  I wanted to encourage her to be involved in the set up of all of it.  Well, these two little 5 year olds figured it all out and by Friday were having Layla's first play date.  I am now trying to subtly encourage Ava to do the same because she tends to be the shyer of the two. I also wasn't as open to play dates when she first started school and I regret that a bit.  It's all good though...she'll find her way and I know each child is different in their approach to friendships.  They are happy, kind girls so the rest will fall into place.  

Saturday we had plans to go to our friends for dinner and drinks.  We were thinking appetizers for dinner, which is always fun.  I should have taken some time to go to the grocery store and come up with a couple yummy hor d'oeuvres.  Instead I went shopping and lunching with my mom and sister.  
Don't we look maauuuvulus?  Like true "ladies lunching"
I had no need to go shopping and no money to spend.  I just went for the laughs and company.  However, I would have splurged on the hot pink stilettos with a silver heel if they would have had a size 7.  My foot squeezed in the size 6 just wasn't cutting it.  Oh, well.  

Because I didn't go to the grocery store, I found myself forced to get creative with what I had at home.  I did not have a ton to work with and all I knew was I wanted to use the eggplant I had.  Not being a huge eggplant fan, this did not leave me with much inspiration.  But, I like a challenge.  I like that I have gotten far enough into my hobby of cooking to create things without relying on a recipe.  I came up with two appetizers.  First was a grilled eggplant, topped with tomato and an olive sauce...

I mixed olive oil with sea salt and pepper.  I brushed that over eggplant slices and grilled them on the bar b q, a few minutes on each side.  I topped those with a tomato slice.  For the olive sauce I mixed 1 cup of mayo, 3 tbls Parmesan cheese, 1 minced garlic clove, chopped parsley, chopped kalamato olives, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice and some s&p.  I put a spoonful on each eggplant slider and place them in the fridge until I was ready to serve.  I think you could serve these while the eggplant was still warm also.  

For the next appetizer my only inspiration was the tub of ricotta cheese I had in the fridge.  I mixed it with some diced onions, s&p, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tbls Parmesan cheese, fresh torn basil and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.  I put the mixture in a baking stone dish, drizzled with some olive oil and balsamic and broiled until browned and bubbly.  I served this with the homemade bread I'd made the previous day.  Both appetizers turned out so much better than I expected.  Those along with Amy's homemade salsa, delicious meatballs and some pigs in a blanket made for quite a spread.  Good times.  I have a photo frame on our family wall that reads "Nothing can match the treasure of common memories".  It sums up how I feel about these friends.  We have a lot of memories and many more to be made together.

As calm as this weekend was, the next will be crazy.  It is Ava's birthday weekend!  As the girls have gotten older and more involved in what they want their birthday party themes to be it's gotten so fun.  I take their imaginative ideas and run with them.  I particularly love Ava's theme this year.  She wants to have an "artist" party.  I love how original it princess or fairies.  It's just so creative within itself.  I haven't begun thinking about Layla's but she knows she wants a "pig" theme.  That one just cracks me up.  Here's a peek at some of the party planning...

More to come.  It's going to be such fun.  

Weekends are so rejuvenating to me.  A time to relax and reconnect with family and friends.  A time when there is no work, schedules or homework.  The only thing on the agenda is hanging out and if there are plans involved it's only because we made them and are looking forward to doing them.  They leave me feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new week.  

Hope your weekend was happy.  Enjoy the April showers...I hear they bring May flowers.  

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