27 November 2009

Hometown Thanksgiving

This year, since moving to Eugene four years ago, we didn't leave town for Thanksgiving.

In fact, we had a lot of firsts:
  • We went to cheer on Jeff running in the 5K Turkey Stuffer
  • Which ended up at the local indoor pool and let all the families of race participants swim for free
  • Finally used my china
  • Cooked my first turkey--stuffed the skin with yummy sage butter.
  • Finished off the day eating a fabulous dinner with great friends

23 November 2009

What's for dinner?

I checked out this book from the library to get some new dinner ideas and the first one I made was delicious. The book is full of all kinds of stews and casserole-type meals which is just what I always want to eat at this time of year.

This one is a Latin American Pork Stew and what made it so good was the combination of pork, sweet potatoes and cilantro. Even Jeff who hates cilantro loved it in this stew. I think it's because cooked cilantro has a more subtle flavor than fresh.

We ate it with corn tortillas steamed for one minute in wet paper towels in the microwave. I also ate it with raw cabbage, but that won't surprise anyone that knows me. I eat cabbage with everything.

Latin American Pork Stew

4 servings

olive oil
2 large pork loin chops (or whatever pork you want), cut into small pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1) Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil and brown seasoned pork pieces. Transfer to baking dish with a lid.
2) Cook onion in pan drippings for about 5 minutes then add garlic and cook for one minute longer.
3) Add tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, salt, coriander, cayenne and chicken broth. Heat to boiling, then add to baking dish with pork. Cover and bake 15 minutes.
4) Stir in sweet potatoes; cover and bake 30 minutes longer. Stir in black beans, cover and bake an additional 15 minutes.

I'm sure you could also do this in the slow cooker and add potatoes and beans at the end.

18 November 2009


Notice the clutter covering the kitchen counters. ugh

My mom is an organized, orderly person. She keeps a clean, generally clutter-free house and although it drove me crazy as a child trying to meet her standards, I now greatly admire her ability to do so.

So during her visit last month, when she was admiring my creativity and various sewing projects and said to me, "grandma and I just wonder where you find time to do it all," I laughed and told her the way I "do it all" is by being a terrible housekeeper.

"I will walk past piles of toys and clutter on my way to the sewing table," I said.

And she responded with something like, "but that's okay. I think it's better to be making things and creating than cleaning up all the time. I wish I was more like that--able to ignore the messes and be creative. You can always clean, but you can't always sew."

Here is where I pause so that all my siblings can shut their dropped jaws. I know, right? Who knew our mother favored creativity over cleanliness. Who knew?

Up until that conversation I have always thought of this as a major weakness for me. I love to make things and hate to clean up afterward. I will step over toys and piles of laundry and full of dirty dishes and (heaven help me), I will even clear off a little spot on the kitchen counter just big enough for cooking dinner. I am not one of those who can't cook a meal until the kitchen is clean. No way.

More than I care to admit, I've been mortified when someone stops by unexpectedly and they get a glimpse into my cluttered life.

But, hey, mom says its okay. So, at least today I feel a little less pressure to make a major overhaul of my housekeeping skills. Like that will ever happen.

09 November 2009

A new thrifting treasure

A few weeks ago we had a very lucky thrifting day. We found ourselves a copy of this book for 65 cents. It actually turned out to be an even better deal than we knew at the time, because it is currently out of print.

We love Ed Emberley's drawing books. He uses basic shapes drawn out step-by-step that turn into unique animals and faces and other everyday objects. His method is easy enough to make anyone more confident in their drawing skills.

In fact, recently 4-year-old Owen has taken to drawing more than just scribbles and random shapes. I think it is because he discovered that he could follow the few steps given in this book

to draw animals and he and I and Jeff and James were amazed at the final product. It gave him the confidence to draw more.

For quiet time today I surprised him with a new notebook just for his drawings and I can't wait to watch the pages fill up and a new little artist finding his own style in our house.

04 November 2009

What a difference a year makes

My parents were recently here for their annual Halloween visit. They've been coming to Oregon for Halloween the past few years, as our G&G Troxler did when we were little. Halloween is definitely a holiday better spent with children, and we love visitors.

Last week, while waiting for them to arrive, I couldn't help but think about last year's visit. Mom came alone to rescue me from weeks of pregnancy-induced sickness and serious neglect of my children and my home. Also, Jeff was out of town and the thought of making three meals a day for children in my current state overwhelmed me to tears.

She came and stayed longer than her usual three days (because she lives by the adage that guests and fish stink after 3 days), cooked delicious bland meals that soothed this pregnant lady's sick stomach, sewed a vampire cape, cleaned my house every single day, did all our laundry, let me sleep in, transported James to and from school, and listened to me complain about feeling crummy and how I would never, ever have any more children.

I cried after she left. However, I also found within myself a renewed energy to face the difficult weeks full of nausea that were still ahead.

This year Mom and Dad came together once again, and we had great food, watched some great football (go Ducks!) and baseball, and even enjoyed a rare sunny Oregon fall day.

Needless to say, I am so, so happy to be here in 2009 with Henry making me smile and fall more in love with him everyday as opposed to there in 2008 when he mostly just made me run to the toilet.