Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - "Night Before" Blueberry French Toast

Those of you that know me well may fall out of your chairs when you discover this recipe has sugar in it. Not honey or molasses or maple syrup but honest-to-goodness sugar. (Albeit BROWN sugar.) Sometimes you just need the sugar. Especially after a long night of New Year's Eve hi-jinks... (This is awesome hangover food.)

(yields about 8 servings)
6 eggs
3 cups of milk
1 t. vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup walnuts or pecans
2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Sliced French bread (about 1" thick)

Lightly spray 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray. Line bottom of pan with French bread. Combine eggs, milk and vanilla and pour on top of bread slices. Cover and put in fridge overnight. In the morning top bread slices with sugar, nuts and blueberries. Bake at 350 for about 45-60 minutes or until bread is puffed up and golden.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - Hot Spiced Cider

The weather here in Miami is awesome but I know that most of my Atlanta peeps are a little chilly these days.. Wouldn't a cup of hot cider hit the spot right about now? A little Christmas Eve treat?

This recipe uses an automatic coffee maker to brew the cider. If you don't own one, heat it in a slow cooker or a saucepan over medium heat on the stovetop. (Be sure to clean your coffee maker according to the manufacturer's instructions before using for coffee again. Apple cider + coffee = bad.)


1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon salt (or less... season to taste...)
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 large orange, quartered with peel
2 quarts apple cider

Place filter in coffee basket, and fill with honey, allspice, cloves, cinnamon stick, salt, nutmeg, and orange wedges.

Pour apple cider into coffee pot where the water usually goes.

Brew, and serve hot.

(Think of me on the beach in Miami... Hee!~)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A diversion... Monkey-style!

And now a break from road trip preparations:

I give you....


Show me your MONKEYS!!!

An early Christmas present... They may be the perfect road companions for my little monkeys. (S has already named his "Bucky.")

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tunes to Survive By

"We are driving." he said. "If we fly we won't get the adventure."

Oh nooooooooooooooo....

It's official. We're driving to Florida for the holidays. South Florida.

10+ hours with 2.5-year old toddlers.

I plan to reach the stage of "acceptance" any minute now.

Since I'm a big-time music lover, I figured one of my survivial tactics to bring along some really fantastic tunes. For the kiddos that we could also enjoy. (ENJOY, not tolerate.) I cast the net (i.e. sent e-mails) to the various parent groups that I belong to and waited for the suggestions.

My request was specific: I need kid music that isn't kiddie music.

None of the "WHEELS ON THE BUS GO 'ROUND AND 'ROUND" stuff...

Absolutely (bleepin') not.

I got some GREAT feedback. (Thanks, everyone!)

Here's a sample of the set list:

The entire album "No!" by They Might Be Giants (all I had to do was listen to "Robot Parade" and I was hooked)

Octopus' Garden - The Beatles

Yellow Submarine - The Beatles

Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles

HoneyPie - The Beatles

Blackbird - The Beatles

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da - The Beatles

Various Jack Johnson tunes including some the Curious George soundtrack (minus "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." That one makes my ears bleed... Ah, c'mon, don't look at me like that...)

Dancing Queen - ABBA (No, Danger Dad doesn't mind listening to ABBA for short periods of time. Another good reason to stay married to him.)

Waterloo - ABBA

Mama Mia - ABBA

Take a Chance on Me - ABBA

Super Trouper - ABBA

Boogie Oogie Oogie - A Taste of Honey

How Sweet It Is (to be loved by you) - James Taylor *and* Michael Buble versions

Groove Me - King Floyd

Entire Album of Muisiques Pour Mon Bébé (a great classical mix given to me by a dear friend that lives in Luxemburg - fantastic for winding down or napping)

Shake Your Groove Thing - Peaches & Herb

Boogie Shoes - K.C. & The Sunshine Band

Various Ben Folds (and Ben Folds Five) - (but not as much as I would like since he's a big fan of the F-word.)

The entire album of "Philadelphia Chickens" by Sandra Boynton. (Yes, this is technically "kiddie" music but it is fun and sweet and smart and idd I mention fun? And we can turn it off when we feel like our brains are going to explode.)

Any other suggestions???

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - Crock-Pot “Rotisserie” Chicken

Who loves those rotisserie chickens you can buy at the market, all salty and juicy and yummy... Perfect for flaking on salads or making chicken tacos.. WE DO! And who needs an EASY meal around this time of year? WE DO! Who knew you could make one in a CROCK POT?!?!? WE DO! I totally ripped this recipe off from this wonderful gal but switched up some of the spices to better suit our tastes.

Crock-Pot “Rotisserie” Chicken

--1 whole chicken, skinned (4-5 pounds)
--2 tsp kosher salt (if you'd like it as salty as the ones in the store, add another 1 tsp.)
--1 tsp. garlic powder
--1 tsp onion powder
--1 tsp Italian seasoning (or poultry seasoning)
--1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
--1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
--pinch of chili pepper (probably not necessary)

--2 whole garlic cloves
--1 onion, quartered

Spray 6-quart crock-pot with non-stick spray.


Skin the chicken and get rid of the neck and other stuff from the cavity.

In a bowl, combine all of dried spices. Rub the spice mixture all over the bird, inside and out. Plop the bird breast-side down into the crockpot.If desired, put 4 whole garlic cloves and a quartered onion inside the bird.Do not add water. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8.

The longer you cook it, the tenderer the meat!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Train, planes and well, nothing but trains…

Last year around this time some very dear pals gifted us with a BOX of Brio trains and tracks (and some Thomas stuff too) that were no longer desired by their growing-up son.

We were thrilled. The kiddos were a little young for it then so we carefully stored it away until the right time. (We had this Christmas in mind.)

Meanwhile I’ve spent the last year becoming an expert on train tables.

Should we buy one? Should Danger Dad build one? Should it fit over an existing table? Or be free-standing? Used or new? Permanent or fold-away?

It was decided that the perfect table needed to be only one thing…

FREE. (Or near to free.)

I scoured Craig’s List. Nothing. I asked friends if their kids had outgrown one. Nope.

Then I discovered Freecycle.

I LOVE Freecycle. In short, and in their words, “it's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” I LOVE Freecycle.

And people who give away train tables via Freecycle.

A lovely family that was looking to make room for their soon-to-be born third child and gave us their perfectly good train table. Thank you, God.

Since we are heading 600 miles south for the holidays (BY CAR… Yes, we’re going BY CAR…) we decided that we would give S & J’s this as their Christmas NOW instead of lugging gifts with us. (Don't worry, we'll still bring a few things "from Santa" for them to unwrap .)

This morning we revealed the table and all (or most of) it’s goodies.

S played with it for nearly 3 hours STRAIGHT. ("Mama! Look at the trains! We have trains! Let's play trains!")

(J had fun too but was mostly interested in stealing S’s trains or reconfiguring the track (let's make all the trains CRASH!) or using the drawers to make a bed for her beloved monkey, Baby Henry.)

I can unequivocally recommend the train table. A smashing success.

One last note: The friends that gifted us with the trains gave us what we now know is invaluable advice: only introduce 3-4 cars at a time per kid and a very simplified track. That way kiddos don’t become too overwhelmed or even bored… Wonderful advice.


Since before Halloween, my lovely daughter J has insisted that she is a rabbit.

When people ask J her name she confidently, and pleasantly, says, "Rabbit." When I call her my "sweet baby girl" she corrects me: "Rabbit." (Sometimes this is said under her breath and sometimes she just says it in a very matter-of-fact tone. Duh, mom.) When I ask her what she'd like to wear she says, "A Pink RABBIT shirt."

(She doesn’t own a single piece of clothing with a rabbit on it. It seems all shirts are "rabbit" shirts.)

She was THRILLED when she discovered that she would be able to dress as a rabbit (A PINK RABBIT) on Halloween. And all the parties surrounding Halloween.

On Saturday she declared that she’s a dog.

No more rabbit.

I already miss rabbit.

(It’s worth noting that my son S claims to be “Fireman Sam.” Yesterday, though, he asked to be called an “engineer.” Might have something to do with the new train table, y’ think?)

All the clichés are true: they grow up too fast, you blink and they grow two inches, they look different every day…

A good friend gave me some awesome advice shortly before I had S & J: She said to take pictures CONSTANTLY. Don’t stop. Even if you think the moment is not worth capturing, just everyday happenings... These images are the only record of how quickly time passes. As a result I take my camera everywhere and always have it charged and at the ready.

I want to remember when J changes into a princess or a giraffe or a flower. Or if she becomes a rabbit again.

I want to somehow capture the changes.

I may never get used to them changing so much, all the time, but I want to remember those changes and enjoy HOW they are changing. It's a never-ending, fascinating, and absolutely lovely sight.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hittin' the road... or skies.

Road trips suck.

(Unless you’re 17 or 18 and young and dumb and with a bunch of girlfriends getting crazy and listening to Journey and Prince and The English Beat REALLY LOUD and contemplating what to do with your lives and are actually excited about your final destination… Not that I’ve ever done that…)

I’m good for 3-4 hours TOPS and then I start to lose my mind. This, however, has not stopped us from planning a road trip to Miami for the holidays.

Which is a 10-11 hour drive from our house.

I can already feel the crazy creeping up…

I created an “Adventure List” with all that we’ll need to survive the journey and the subsequent 5-day stay at DD’s brother’s family house. I got all set and organized.

I decided to embrace the road trip.

Then yesterday Danger Dad announced that he’d found some fantastic airline rates and we may be flying to Miami instead of driving!


I hesitate to get my hopes up but I am totally stoked at the possibilities. As long as we plan to take it slow and not get caught up in the holiday airport crush it might actually be fun. The kids would be so curious about the security line (all those people in uniform!), the subway train to the terminal, the boarding process, the take-off and landing… And it’s only a two-hour flight. Nice.

S & J frequently talk about going on an airplane ride, especially since we’ve had many visitors that have taken planes to see us and I’ve lately traveled to SF for work via airplane. (Of course.) We live just 15 miles or so from the airport and I’ve taken them to meet friends that are on layovers, plus our neighborhood is sometimes is in the flight path so we can see lots of planes in the sky on a clear day. They love airplanes.

They don’t like the car so much.

They’ve never really traveled more than 2 hours in the car. And it always gets somewhat painful although I know they are doing their best. Let’s face it: Car travel can boring. And when you’re 2 ½ it can be really, really boring despite all the fun music and games and books and distractions. Who wants to be belted down? Confined, feet hanging down, sitting straight up? Not ideal positioning. I lobbied to rent an RV when we first started entertaining the idea of a Miami road trip. I figured then at least the kiddos could lie down, run around, etc. and it wouldn’t be quite so unbearable. A traveling party! Yay! But RV rentals are expensive (wow, are they expensive, even the smaller ones) so we crossed that option off the list and decided to bite the bullet. Our mini-van is quite nice and comfortable and God knows our parents made us do road trips in far less style so we could definitely survive.

But now I have visions of air travel in my head. I wonder if I can even consider a road trip now.

Think I’ll go blast some Journey to get in the mood... Just in case…

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - Turkey Tetrazzini

All of us were felled by a terrible 36-hour or so stomach bug on Thanksgiving Day but wonderful Danger Dad managed to get a brined turkey perfectly cooked as soon as we were on the upswing of recovery. Needless to say we didn't have our usual appetites but we were thankful that we had lots of leftovers. Especially after I discovered this recipe, which I modified from Family Circle Magazine. This one is a real keeper. I made two large pans. I might make another one tomorrow. I am officially addicited. It's GOOD.


1 Tsp. olive oil
10 oz. white mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. *each* of salt and black pepper
2 Tbsp. flour (I use unbleached organic white)
6 oz. of egg noodles
14-15 oz. of low-sodium turkey stock (you can also use low-sodium chicken stock or broth)
3/4 cup of milk (I use whole milk, you can also use light cream for a heavier casserole)
10 oz. of turkey, chopped (white, dark, whatever)
10 oz. (1 package) of frozen peas
2 cups of water
1 cup of swiss cheese, small cubes
1 cup of parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onion to pot. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every 7 minutes or until tender.

Stir in flour and cook one minute. Remove mushroom mixture from pot and set aside.

Return pot to stove on medium-high heat and add noodles, broth and milk and water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes or until tender.

Stir in mushroom mixture, turkey and peas. Stir in swiss cheese. Add remaining 1/4 salt and pepper to taste. (You may not need it...)

Pour entire mixture into lightly greased 9 x 11 pan and sprinkle parmesan cheese evenly over top.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and parmesan cheese is browned.

Monday, December 8, 2008

How Sweet It Is

I might be the neighborhood freak.

I don’t allow my kids to eat sugar.

Sure, they eat fruit, and I use honey and maple syrup to sweeten breads and granola bars and such, but I absolutely don’t allow them to eat processed sugar. So… No cupcakes, cookies, popsicles, etc. They’ve never had a Coke or a candy bar or even an M & M.

They had their way with homemade cupcakes when they turned one…

…but none since. (And, quite frankly, I’m not sure how much of the cupcake actually made it down to their tummies. They were more interested in the Mess Factor then the Eating Factor.)

Please understand that I’m not passing judgment on folks that choose to feed their kids sugar; we just don’t feed it to our kids. My reason is simple: I want to keep their little bodies as pure as possible; for as long as possible. I’m certain there will come a time (especially if they attend a traditional school) when they will trade meals and end up eating something that I would never offer. (And they will survive it, I’m sure.) But for now I’m in control and I choose to leave sugar out of the equation.

We’ve never had an issue with it because we’ve never introduced it into their lives. People seem to be amazed at this. “How do you do it?” they ask. I guess we’ve never really thought about it. We’ve never offered so they don’t ask. Easy peasy. For instance, on Halloween this year they collected “treats” (we didn’t call it candy) and did not ask to eat anything even though they were allowed to play with their loot afterwards. They were curious about the packaging but didn’t understand the “candy” thing.

I had a moment of pause this Saturday. We attended a small birthday party for a neighbor kid friend and I was a little concerned about what to do when it was “Cake Time.” We’ve been to plenty of parties but they’re usually large, crazy affairs and the cake seems to be lost in the birthday whirl of chaos. This was the first time that they were just two of maybe 7 kids, the cake would take a much bigger spotlight than ever before. As the cupcakes were being handed out a neighbor mom mouthed to me. “How are you going to handle this?” I didn’t know… (Praying?!?!) Turns out I didn’t need to come up with a game plan… I gently steered my kiddos away and they bounded down the hall to play with balloons. They didn’t ask about the goodies, or seem to miss not being part of the sugar-eatin’, cupcake-enjoyin’ group.
Crisis averted.

For now.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the “No Sugar” dictum will do once the holidays hit with full force.

We’re headed down south to spend the holidays with Danger Dad’s family. They are big Gingerbread House folks. Making it, decorating it, EATING it. It’s a HUGE tradition and I don’t want my kiddos to miss out. DD’s mom even suggested decorating the house this year with dried fruit but, really, even I can agree that's just sacrilege.

So, I will go with the flow and see what the kiddos want to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t interested or maybe took a small bite and decided, eh, it’s not that great. (Gingerbread is a bit spicy and they may not like it, who knows?)

Stay tuned. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hope in an Aquarium

I am rallying for a Divine 2009.

Mostly because 2008 has been rough. (O.k., maybe the worst on record.)

I am not a Debbie Downer, I don’t generally feel sorry for myself. I don’t blame God or the full moon or Mercury when it's in retrograde.

But, geez, it’s official.

I’ve had enough.

One of our rentals burned nearly to the ground night before last. Probably a 90% loss. Our renters had a grease fire. Nice. (I guess that’s one more reason why all of us should lay off the trans fats.) The mother and her four children made it out with the clothes on their backs. No one was hurt.

This is the latest in a long string of frustrating ridiculousness regarding our rental properties including someone stealing all the pipes out of a house (yes, they actually yanked them out from the crawl space beneath the house), a tenant moving out without notice (we found out three months later, after the druggies, homeless, bored teens and inclement weather had their way with the property), and miscellaneous missing HVAC systems. (Here in Atlanta they steal ‘em for the minor amount of copper wiring inside.)

Danger Dad is in real estate. The market is dismal. 'nuf said; you can imagine the gory details. The lucky thing is that DD is one of the most hard-working and scrappy folks I know. He’ll turn it around. But now? Things are tough.

We relocated from the city to a beautiful new home in a great suburban neighborhood only to discover that the developer had not been 100% honest about upcoming plans. It seems we moved into a construction zone, with light industrial warehouses and office space popping up all around. The excavators and other random loud construction equipment fire up around 7 a.m. and are non-stop until 6 p.m. or so. Napping in the back half of the house is futile.

Our entire house was felled with the flu on Thanksgiving. The beautiful dinner that we had planned with S & J was majorly postponed while we tried our best to not pass out or ruin the carpets.

Danger Dad had another episode and needed to call 911 for help. First one in 5 years. We still don’t know why his brain just up and stops working correctly. Stress? Diet? A mystery… And I’m scared that there’s been a reoccurrence. With no answers.

I know that with all bad comes good and there's been plenty of good (potty training in 4 days - yeah!) but I just want some balance and, well, a bit of a break from all the bad luck.

This morning I found some hope. And it all started with a simple trip to the aquarium.

It was beautiful.

All of it.

The water, the animals, S & J’s wonderment at the utter majesty of it all... It was so peaceful, and a needed reminder that we are a small piece of a really fantastic place.

Simply put, it just made me feel better. Like we can get through this... That there is great beauty in life and nature and family and this crap is just temporary.

It will pass.

And that will be beautiful.

Here’s to ’09!! (Only 27 days to go!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Whatcha' Cookin' Wednesday - Veggie Burgers

With Thanksgiving under our belt (literally) and Christmas gluttony right around the corner I figure it's the perfect time for a vegetarian option. These burgers are easy to make and keep well.

Yummy Veggie Burgers
Modified from

I recommend using sprouted garbanzos but if you can't find them, canned or cooked garbanzos (chickpeas) will work great.

2 1/2 cups sprouted garbanzo beans (chickpeas) OR canned garbanzos, drained and rinsed

4 large eggs
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped (you can substitute cilantro)
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
Grated zest of one large lemon
1 cup micro sprouts, chopped (try broccoli, onion, or alfalfa sprouts - optional)
1 cup toasted (whole-grain) bread crumbs (my fave is Ezekiel, a sprouted bread you can find at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's))
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or clarified butter)

Combine garbanzos, eggs, and salt in a food processor. (If you are using sprouted garbanzos, steam them until just tender, about 10 minutes.) Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus. Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the parsley, onion, zest, and sprouts. Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. Form into twelve 1 1/2-inch-thick patties. (If the patties are too moist to form a patty, add breadcrumbs. Too firm, add water or more egg.)

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium low, add patties, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes. Flip the patties and cook the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Keywords - what what??

I’m a tech-friendly kind of gal, but most of the time I still find technology totally mind-blowing. And maybe a little scary… Seriously, when someone from 18-years ago can find me online it gives me pause. (This has happened more than once in the last week and a half. Hello, Facebook.)

It’s also enabled me to take my journal online (hello, Blogger) so that I have a record of this time in my life, and so do my kiddos.

I started this blog for a bunch of reasons. Mostly for the aforementioned record of history but to also let other parents of multiples know that they are not alone. Our stories are largely the same and I thought that even if one mom or dad found some support that it was a good thing. Since I co-founded a large “parents of multiples” club in my area I knew that our members might read my stuff. But I guess I never really thought that complete strangers might stumble across my blog, or even find it marginally interesting. But they have. And they’re from all over – Vancouver, Michigan, Florida, India, etc..

Today I thought it might be fun to see how people find me on the web. And I pulled up the keywords that people have used in Google that direct them to my blog.


The goods:

"do chickens like to play with toys"
“coke boston butt”
“she skinned her knee”
“daycare sick”
“hairstylist coke blog”


Some of these might make a little sense (I did write about J skinning her knee, a recipe about Boston Butt and the Mommy Wars as they relate to daycare) but really, someone was searching for “chickens that like to play with toys?” Someone actually put all those words together and plugged them into Google? And MY BLOG came up? Weird. (And maybe a little awesome.)

There's no doubt that the “hairstylist coke blog” search is super-crazy weird, right? For Pete's sake... That's not even CLOSE.