family · food · life

Is pasta a protein?

Mom, is my pasta protein? No, it’s a carb. But, I thought you said that gluten is the protein in wheat, so doesn’t that make pasta a protein. Ummm, Ummm, it’s carb that has some protein OK!?!

That was my conversation with Colby last night.

When I went back to work, one of the things that became the boys responsibility was making their own lunches. At the time, they had Sistema To Go Collection Lunch Cube Food Storage Container, 47.3 Ounce/ 5.9 Cup (2 Pack) Clear with Assorted Color Accents to pack their lunches. This is divided into three sections. They learned to pack a protein item into the large section, a fruit/veggie into one of the smaller and a junk into the third section. To this day, even though they don’t have these cubes anymore they still pack a protein (meal), fruit and junk in their lunch. So what constitutes a protein has often been and still continues a topic of conversation.

Over the years, the boys have taken to reading the labels of many food products. They look at the proteins, sugars and calories in the items they eat. They have learned that they need to increase their protein if they want to build muscle. They know that sugars tend to be empty calories.

While we don’t want them to feel they can’t have certain foods, we are trying to help them see how to pick certain foods in moderation. This doesn’t stop them from debating over whose food choices are better and typically who eats the better protein foods.

We still are working on what foods go into what food categories evidently, but hey at least they are thinking about food choices already, even if it is to challenge my responses.

**contains Amazon links, please read my disclosure statement**

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family · life

7.5 school days left

And so the countdown continues. It is hard to believe that the boys only have 7.5 days left in school. This year has been such a whirlwind for our whole family.

At this time last year we were wrapping up our last few weeks in FL. The house was pretty much packed up. The school year was almost over and we were getting ready to set off on our grand adventure. We left FL on June 5th and were moved in to the apartment on June 6th. Sometimes it is hard to believe it has been a full year already.

The boys were talking about it the other night and both feel that this move was good for them. They love their school and feel they have learned a lot this year. They have had their ups and downs, but in the long run they are happy.  Richard is settled into his job and I’m just about ready to send off my resume. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on what to do, where to apply, should I apply, should I stay home, what is the best thing.

It is such a hard thing to try and figure out what is not only best for me, but also best for the family. The last job I had pretty much fell in my lap and I I hardly thought about it. I took that position more than half way through the school year, the boys were settled and I was going to be in the same school as them. While the boys are settled, I will not be with them anymore. I know they are old enough, responsible enough and more than capable of dealing with the adjustments that will come along with me going back to work, it’s not an easy decision.

I know that the job market for educators is tough in this area. I know that I have a lot to offer still I just need to make sure that I go in the direction that will bring me the most joy. That will bring me the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of children…. that is what teaching is all about.

So, my goal is to get my resume sent out and the process started in the beginning of next week. I won’t share more details at this time, but will as time progresses.

I hope you are enjoying the countdown to your summer, whenever that starts in your life. For me, I’m looking forward to our first summer in our house. Seeing the boys settle into the summer routine of life. 7.5 more school days until life changes for us… again!

family · life · through my camera lens

Busy week and birds

This has been a strange week. Originally I had thought it was going to be a busy week. I took Monday and plowed through most of my house cleaning jobs. The boys has mountain bike class Monday night. It had rained before that and they came home a muddy mess, but they had fun. Richard got off work early and met up with me to walk. He decided to stop home and pick up Dixie too. I walked around 3.5 miles. Richard and Dixie walked about 2.5 miles.

Tuesday Colby was supposed to have his field day. I had volunteered to help out. I got an e-mail at 7am saying it was postponed until Friday. The weather was calling for storms, plus they said there were field issues, probably flooding.  I went to the grocery store, made another pasta salad and baked chocolate chip cookies (it was national chocolate chip cookie day).

Blake went on a field trip. Chatham University backs up to their school campus. They have been learning about streams, fish and other natural environments, so they went to Chatham to collect water samples. They also looked at the creatures who live in the stream. After that they went to the garden there and helped work in the garden. They at lunch in the University cafeteria as well. Blake said he had a great time and the campus was “really cool.”

Today is Blake’s field day. We were a bit shocked to not get an e-mail saying it too was cancelled. The rain is now forecast to start at 4 instead of noon like it was last night. So I will be heading over there around noon to help with his field day. Colby is going on a quick walking field trip today. His class is walking over to the lower elementary school across the street. They are going over to read poems to the first graders. He had to write a poem that he shared with his class yesterday and the first graders today.

Tomorrow we are back at mountain biking!

Busy is good.

On a calmer note, we have a new visitor to our bird feeder. Baltimore Orioles. We added an orange sliced in half, added the wilting grapes and are trying to convince the Orioles, and other birds to stay. All four of us enjoy watching the birds visit the feeder. It is so relaxing and such a great way to touch nature.

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family · life

Weekend update- mother’s day edition

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. We were busy this weekend. Saturday found us at North Park on a bike ride. The boys wanted to show Richard the trails they have been riding in bike class. I decided to skip the ride and go for a hike. I went on a few new paths that I hadn’t walked on before. It was a win-win all around. We then went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch and stopped at the bike store. Blake needed a new helmet and Richard wanted to look at new bike shoes. We were spent a while outside doing a bit of this and a bit of that as well as chatting with neighbors. We originally planned to go out to dinner, but the skies opened with no sign of letting up, so fend for yourself dinner it is! We decided that since we stayed home we should watch a movie. We decided to watch Ocean’s Eleven (2001). Richard and I have been on a kick of showing the boys movies that Richard and I enjoy, but are still appropriate for tweens.

Sunday morning Colby decided he wanted to make me breakfast in bed. Richard told him that wouldn’t work since there was no way to serve it. So instead Colby opted to make me a strawberry peanut butter smoothie. He tried to bring it up to me, but I was already on my way downstairs. After breakfast, we went off to the gym, DiBellas, and Lowes. We had a long list of things to purchase at Lowes. This did not make the boys happy. We can’t win they don’t want to go if we don’t have a list, now they don’t want to go if we do have a list. Get over if… home ownership means trips to Lowes!

When we got home we started putting down seed on the front and side lawns and then were were going to begin putting the bags of top soil on bare spots. The ground here is rocky, loaded with sticks and it is clay not soil. So we are having to work hard to get this lawn looking the way we want it to look. We will get there. While we were working on putting out the top soil it began to rain. It wasn’t bad at first, but then it picked up. We had to head in and wait it out in the garage. We were already partially done and slightly damp so we decided to wait it out instead of going in to change. We then went out again when it let up only to have the sky open and drench us. Oh well… it got done.

Colby came outside when he finally stopped raining and was observing the run off on the lot next door. He has been learning about water and the effects of it on the landscape. It was neat listening to him discuss the erosion he was observing, the tributaries that were created as well as many other terms he learned in science class. School work at it’s finest!

We had homemade pizza and rolls for dinner. We used the Alton Brown recipe again. It wasn’t as good as the first time we made it, but it was still really good.

The night was ended with Google Hangout calls to both grandmothers to wish them a happy mother’s day.

Hope you had a great weekend.

(Must have Monday is still going to appear today…. just later on today. I didn’t post yesterday so I wanted to share the whos and whats of the weekend)

family · food · life

Favorite Foods… family addition

Happy Saturday!

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen a few people posting about their favorite food items. I decided to take this and Lori-ize it. So you are going to get our family version of the top 5 food items.  Here we go:

Colby:

  1. Pasta- Colby would eat pasta all day every day if I allowed him to. I try to limit it to a few days a week. His favorite right now would be anything with Alfredo sauce
  2. Peanut Butter- He loves to eat this on a spoon, in a bowl or on a sandwich. He puts it with chocolate, honey or jelly.
  3. Steak- Colby has recently learned about the joys of filet minion. When we have gone on the Disney Cruises he eats steak almost every night for dinner.
  4. Stromboli- especially if Richard makes it at home
  5. Bacon, Bacon, Bacon- need I say more?

Blake:

  1. Pizza/ Stromboli- Blake LOVES pizza and tries to have it every week on the menu
  2. Cheese- Blake eats cheese 24/7, by the slice, shredded, in sandwiches or any other way he can have it
  3. Chocolate- anything sweet Blake eats has to be chocolate
  4. Quesadillas- This is something Blake makes almost every time we have fend for yourself (FFY)
  5. Chips- Blake eats at least one single size bag of chips every day.

Richard:

  1. Steak- Give Richard a rare to medium rare steak with the right seasoning and he is more than a happy camper
  2. Subs- This is reason we go to DiBella’s almost every weekend. He enjoys Italian, cheese steak and well… so many more
  3. Pizza- Richard not only loves to eat pizza, but he also loves to make his own pizza
  4. mint chocolate chip ice cream- This is his absolute favorite ice cream. He picks this as his flavor for sundaes, milkshakes and any other ice cream products
  5. fajitas- chicken or steak doesn’t matter… with or without onions and peppers… the drippier the better
  6. brownies- this is Richard’s go to desert

For me…

  1. Chocolate- do not give me the cheap stuff!  Ghirardelli, Lindt Truffles, Dove are my go to. Now don’t get me wrong give me a Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and I’m happy, but there is something about the quality chocolate you can’t beat.
  2. Hummus- that stuff is addicting! I love it on tortilla chips, on chicken, on pretzels, on carrots… hummus is good! I need to make some of my homemade hummus to share with you one of these days.
  3. Fruit- the fresher the better. I can’t wait for the berries to be ready to pick
  4. Anything we didn’t have yesterday— I enjoy leftovers, just not the next day. I hate having to eat the same kind of foods for multiple days in a row

UMMMMM…. UMMMMM I don’t know if I have a 5th thing. I’m not a person that has a ton of favorite items. I like a lot of different things but I’m not an OMG I have to eat this. I like to switch things up a lot as I easily get bored with foods.

Join the fun… what are your favorite foods?

 

 

 

family · life

Friday rambles

Yesterday the boys had their second mountain biking lesson. They are really enjoying this. I went for a walk again. This time I didn’t go on the trails, but stayed on the paved areas. I walked just shy of 4 miles. We had a huge rain storm during the day yesterday, but it the weather improved and it was the perfect weather to be out in the park.

Today has been overcast and on the cool side. After breakfast this morning, I went outside and mowed the lawn. I decided to stick my phone in my pocket and put on “map my hike” while I mowed. It was about 1.5 miles and we don’t even have grass on our whole lot just yet. (we haven’t dealt with the back of the lot yet since we want to alter the topography of the lot still) Let me tell you… my hips hurt now.

This means I had four walks over 1 mile this week. I’m trying to get more walks/hikes in each week. I was thinking last night that I should probably find my headphones and start playing music or even a book while I walk during the boys biking class. I am almost done with both of the books I’m reading now. I haven’t decided if I want to start using my kindle before I go to bed or continue to have a real book for reading upstairs in bed.

It looks like we are going to have a soggy weekend. I have no clue what we will end up doing this weekend. We will probably try to get to the gym and the boys are wanting to go biking with Richard to show him the trails they have ridden in class. Lets see if the weather allows that to happen. All I know is Sunday we are having pizza and I’m making more of the garlic rolls I made with Alton Brown’s pizza dough… yum!

Hope you have something fun planned for your weekend.

 

 

family · food · life · reviews · through my camera lens

Honey “Bourbon” Chicken

Ok so yesterday I didn’t write any posts, and today you get two (and both are recipes I made yesterday)! Earlier I posted a sweet treat recipe, chocolate peanut butter pretzel bars, that I made yesterday. One of the ingredients of this treat was honey. Now as I mentioned in that post I do not actually like the flavor of honey, but Richard and Colby both love it. I have a HUGE bottle of honey that I purchased at Costco. It was put to use yesterday.

For dinner last night we had Honey Bourbon Chicken made in the electric pressure cooker. I read through the recipe and my first thought was…. ummm where is the bourbon? When reading the comments they said that this was “Bourbon inspired”. One of the people also responded that if you cook with alcohol in a pressure cooker it does not cook off the alcohol… ok let’s try this anyway!

P1080198

Honey “Bourbon” Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic (I grated it with my microplane)
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • red pepper flakes (I did a few shakes of the container)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP water

Put all the ingredients (except cornstarch and water) into the electric pressure cooker

Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes

Let it release pressure for 5 minutes then finish releasing the pressure manually

Remove the chicken and dice it up into bite size pieces

Combine the cornstarch and water to make a slurry, then add to the cooking liquid. Stir to dissolve completely

Return the chicken to the pressure cooker

Set to saute and cook for an additional 3 minutes to thicken the sauce

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I served it with red wheat berries that I toasted and then cooked, adding a bit of butter at the end of the cooking process. Colby said this made it taste a lot like popcorn. We also had a raw carrot. Colby ended up eating two since he took the one off Richard’s plate too before he got home. No worries, I peeled another one for Richard.

I tried everything separably, but then put the chicken and wheat berries together and it was so yummy.

The chicken was really tasty. Colby felt it had a homemade bbq flavor, I don’t think it did, but hey if that works for him… then go for it dude. Colby ate 2 carrots and 2 servings of wheat berries and one serving of chicken. Blake ate 2 servings of chicken, his carrot and a nibble of wheat berries. Then, when Richard came home and was having dinner, Blake had a 3rd serving of the chicken. I’d say he really liked this one. Richard enjoyed it too.

I really wish the sauce ended up thicker. I think next time instead of thickening the sauce in the pressure cooker I’d transfer it to a pot and cook it in there so that the liquids can evaporate and thicken. Richard suggested reducing actual bourbon in a pan and adding it to the chicken mixture in the thickening step. This would add the bourbon flavor, but not the alcohol.

I think we will be trying this one again!

 

 

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– Mountain Biking

TTM_MHM

The boys start mountain biking lessons today. They have got pretty good at riding their bikes and are decent off the road too, but we wanted them to get some instruction on how to safely hit the trails. So here are our must haves for mountain biking.

First thing obviously is the bike. A mountain bike had much bigger wheels and different suspension than a street bike. They need to be able to go up, down, and over pretty much anything. The boys and Richard have Trek Mountain Bikes and Richard and I have Specialized Mountain Bikes. Yes, I meant to type Richard’s name twice, he has two bikes. His Trek bike is newer and “beefier” than his Specialized that he used in FL.

The next key item you need is a properly fitting helmet. All of us wear helmets and always will. My children learned when they were young that anytime they rode things with wheels they wear helmets. We also showed them how to wear it correctly. The helmet should sit flat on your head and the brim should sit just above your eyebrows. The straps need to be affixed below your chin and prevent the helmet from moving. The helmet should not be able to rock back and forth on your head more than an inch. It should also not be able to lift off your head. One reason the boys know that helmets is not an option is based on this story. When I was pregnant with Colby, Richard when mountain biking with some guys he knew. I received a phone call from him telling me he as on the way to the hospital. He had shattered his collarbone. The crash was bad. When we looked at his helmet when I picked up his bike and gear that one of the guys had collected from him, I noticed a dent in his helmet. I’m not sure Richard even realized that he had hit his head that hard. There wasn’t just a dent, there was a crack in the helmet and the foam on the inside was damaged. BUTTT, Richard’s head was not. If he had not been wearing his helmet that would have been his head, and the shattered collarbone may have seemed minor compared to him smashing his head on that rock instead of his helmet.

Ok enough of my pubic service message about helmets…

This weekend we went out and got the boys new hydration gear for them to use while biking. When we purchased their bikes we had Planet Bike Aluminum water bottle cage – black put on their bikes, this is one way they can tell their bikes apart (Blake’s cage is green and Colby’s is blue). We decided they needed bike specific water bottles (Camelbak Products Big Chill Water Bottle, Carbon, 25-Ounce) These water bottle fit perfectly into the bike water cage and will not slip. They need to have the indents in the top quarter to keep it from rolling out of the cage. We also decided to purchase them hydration packs. These will come in handy once they get more comfortable biking as you don’t have to stop to drink out of them. Richard and I both use them all the time when we bike and I use mine when I hike too. The boys have never had one before and are excited to have their CamelBak HydroBak Crux Reservoir Hydration Pack, Black/Graphite, 1.5 L/50 oz.

Now if you ask Richard what he needs there are a few other items. Richard has egg beater pedals which means he has to have Cycling Shoes. Richard and I both also have  Mountain Bike Biking Shorts, and Cycling Gloves . We both carry  Multitools Bicycle Repair Tool in our hydration packs. This tool pretty much can fix most anything on your bike or at least help someone who knows how to fix bikes help you fix it enough to get back to your vehicle.

The last big thing that we have for mountain biking is our Yakima FourTimer Hitch Bike Rack. This rack is right now mounted on the hitch on my car. The nice thing about this bike rack compared to many racks is the bike sits on the rack at the tires. There is an arm that brings a “hook” down over the front tire and a strap that holds the bottom of the back tire. So many of the bike racks have the bikes hang on their frame. This isn’t good for the frame of the bike and you have to make sure to balance it perfectly on the hook. With the Yakima FourTimer Hitch Bike Rack, you don’t have anything touching your frame and you can’t put the bike in wrong (for the most part).

So, when it’s time to go, I just need to the Camelbak Products Big Chill Water Bottle, Carbon, 25-Ounce filled. The we can load the bikes into the Yakima FourTimer Hitch Bike Rack. The boys will then bring their helmets with them and they will be good to go. Hopefully they enjoy this mountain biking class. I know Richard is ready for them to be able to hit the trails with more confidence. Me… today I’m going to walk and/or read while they are in their class and we will go from there.

**Please read my disclosure statement**

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Peace Love and Little Donuts review– by Blake

On May 5th, 2018, my mom suggested that my dad and I could go to the Peace, Love and Little Donuts in Wexford, get some donuts, and then I can do a review on it. It was pretty small, and it looked like this:

Image result for peace love and little donuts wexford Pretty interesting, huh? So, my dad and I walked in, and it looked like it opened in the 60’s or 70’s. There were a lot of old band posters dating back to that time, and here are a few of them:

2018-05-05 08.49.19

You can obviously tell that they’re pretty old. The donuts were divided into different sections, with different prices for each type, along with more band posters, as you can see:

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So, as my dad and I were looking around, I noticed something that was really cool:2018-05-05 08.49.25

The one thing that you can’t see, but it was probably their slogan, was: ‘Feed your inner hippie.’

I then decided that I’d get two chocolate chip donuts, which is a donut with chocolate frosting, and chocolate chips on that. We got a half dozen donuts, so we got the two chocolate chips, a maple bacon that we got for Colby to try (he didn’t, but my dad did), which is a donut with maple syrup with bacon on top, a chocolate pretzel, which is a donut with chocolate frosting, and then two pretzel sticks on top, a cinnamon sugar donut,  which is a cinnamon donut with sugar on it, and a cinnamon donut, which was a cinnamon sugar, just without the sugar. We then paid (and it pretty cheap) and went home. This is what all the donuts looked like:

We all (except Colby) tried one, and they were pretty good. It turns out they were cake donuts, which I’d never tried before. I finished one and had the other one today, May 6th.

All in all, this was a pretty good place. There’s multiple of them, one in Wexford, one in Pittsburgh, and one in Cranberry.

If you’re in a donut mood in Western PA and want to not use a lot from your budget, head on over to this place that I’d definitely go again. You won’t regret feeding your inner hippie.2018-05-05-08-50-04.jpg

 

 

family · life

Cinco de Derby Day

Today was a busy and fun day for our family. We started the day by Richard taking Blake with him to Peace, Love and Little Donuts (Blake is going to write up a review on this as soon as I let him near my computer) and then get gas for the lawnmower.

After breakfast, Richard got the lawnmower going and mowed our lawn here for the first time…. ever! When we lived in Orlando, we mowed the lawn almost all year long. In the spring and fall you mow it once a week, in the summer you need to mow it every 5 days or so and in the winter you can get away with skipping a few weeks depending on the temperatures. Not so much here in Pittsburgh. We will see how often we have to mow as the seasons go on., but at least we know it won’t be all year long.

While Richard did this, I added the baffle to our bird feeder. We now have at least two squirrels fighting over climbing the shepard’s pole to get out our feeders. The boys gave me the baffle shown for my birthday. The nice thing about this baffle is you can attach it to an existing pole without having to take the pole out of the ground. The opening closes up and attaches with a joint closure. I had to adjust the location of our dish feeder. The recommend that when you have a baffle it is located 4-5 feet off the ground.

When I finished this I began fertilizing the yard. We try to fertilize our lawn about once a month. This helps the lawn’s growth and coloring. I need to pick up some more seed so we can add soil and seed to the balder spots in the lawn. But, at least it is coming along.

After that, Colby and I helped Richard install the wire shelves above his work bench. This was a big task, but so worth it because we were able to get more garage thing emptied out of the boxes and put up on these shelves.

After putting up the shelves we had lunch. I had the last of the Thanksgiving salad, I need to make a pasta salad or something next. I like having a simple go to healthy lunch to have around.

The boys took off on their bikes to find friends and Richard and I decided to work on the back of our property. We began by trying to cut back some of the thorn bushes and vines. After getting cut to shreds doing this we decided to change gears and work on cutting a path through the backyard to get to the path to the pond. We completed this task just before the boys returned home.

We then worked on cleaning up the garage and putting things on the shelves while the boys drove their Traxxas trucks. They love driving them on the lot next door and even created a ramp in the muck to jump the trucks. They won’t be able to drive it there much longer since they should start framing that house here soon.

Dinner tonight was chicken salsa over couscous with homemade pico de gallo. We watched the Kentucky Derby and then played a few rounds of Uno Hearts.

Wow that was a busy day, but productive and fun. Hope you enjoyed your Cinco de Derby day.