Saturday, August 28, 2010

Summer Cooking: Guacamole

It's a rare person who doesn't enjoy guacamole. What's not to like?
Avocados make everything better!

And those of you who know Ben and I know that we love food. Ben especially loves him some comida mexicana (it doesn't always agree with me, if you know what I mean).

It's hard to top Chevy's guacamole with the freshest of ingredients, so this is always our go-to recipe when we're in the mood for some chips y dip.

It is a bit labor-intensive, but definitely worth it.

Add in a couple of margaritas or mexican cokes, and you've got a match made in heaven.

Guacamole (barely adapted from Chevy's cookbook)

3 avocados, medium
half a lime
1/2 cup pico de gallo (buy fresh or make your own, recipe below)
1 - 1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp stemmed, seeded and minced jalapeno
salt to taste

Pit avocados and score (checkerboard pattern) without cutting through skin. Scoop avocado meat with a large spoon and place in mixing bowl. Squeeze lime over avocado pieces and toss gently to evenly coat. Stir in all remaining ingredients except salt and gently toss and mash with a fork. The right consistency is when more large pieces than mashed pieces remain. Add salt to taste, keeping in mind that tortilla chips are also salty.

Makes 2 cups.

Pico de Gallo (makes 1/2 cup, just enough for the guac)

6 TBS tomatoes, diced
2 TBS onion, diced
scant tsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp stemmed, seeded, minced jalapeno
1/4 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
pinch salt

Combine all ingredients, mixing well.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flashback Friday: where it all began

For our 10th anniversary in July, I made Ben a slideshow using pictures from our first documented photo (a dance party in the dorm), all the way through the present. Since I spent hours scanning all those photos, I figured you deserved to see some golden oldies:

Starting at top left, working down:
Summer 1997, on a boat in Colorado,
Summer 1998, headed to a rodeo (in Wranglers, no less)
Winter 1999, Black Tie (college formal)
Summer 1999, Hawaii (where we bought the engagement ring)
Top right, working down:
Summer 1999, Glacier National Park
Fall 1999, San Francisco
Winter 2000, Black Tie
Summer 2000, day before the wedding
Center: July 1, 2000, Just hitched!

Center: July 2000, Hawaii (honeymoon)
Top left, working down:
Summer 2001, Princeton, NJ
Spring 2002, Red Bank, NJ (youth pastors for middle school)
Summer 2002, Half Moon Bay
Spring 2003, Philadelphia (night I graduated grad school)
Top right, working down:
Fall 2003, Houston, TX
Summer 2004, Dordogne, France
Fall 2005, Carmel
Summer 2006, Lake Almanor

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wildlife; Wild Children

The whole no-plans, no-camp, no-schedule thing last week made for lots of impromptu plans. Just like we up and headed to Berkeley one day last week, on Friday we jumped in the car and headed to Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek. We had never been before, and the kids loved it. I think it's great that they feature all local wildlife. The great horned owl and bald eagle were awesome. The stuffed bears, impressive:

Big bears, little bear

But honestly, the feature my kids loved the most? This microscope:

Sam stood there, looking at the slides, for minutes. Minutes!

I thought it was kind of a fluke until Maddie became totally enthralled, too. Budding scientists?

On the way out I pulled a total Dad maneuver, pretending my hand was being swallowed up by the rattler donation device. Maddie was quite brave about the whole business.

After we grabbed our lunch and headed over to Larkey Park. The kiddos ran around for a while, enjoying the new environment and completely wearing themselves (and Mama) out.

Sam thoroughly enjoyed the choo-choo and climbing every tall ladder he could find:

Seriously, the kid has no fear. And he's so fast I don't get pictures of half the tall things he scales!

Miss Maddie impressed me by following the "big boys" and crawling across the top of the monkey bars!

A great morning outing if you find yourself at a loss for plans!

Monday, August 23, 2010

impromptu dance party

One night last week Maddie announced we would have a dance party. She picked out outfits for the three of us (Daddy as at a meeting), and we danced the night (or twenty minutes before bedtime) away:

Sam was WAY into it

Rock those beads, kiddos!

oh, yeah

my own beautiful, Hawaiian-inspired outfit (over pajamas)

I just love impromptu dance parties, don't you?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tilden on a whim

Two weeks ago was Family Camp. Last week was Day Camp. This week: nothing planned. And what was unplanned was Total Breakdown Central at the Joyce household. Thus our "Tilden on a whim" trip this week. At 9 o'clock in the morning, we had already experienced time out and soap in the mouth, so it was decided that in the interest of sanity, we should get out. Sam, Maddie and I headed up the hill to Tilden Park.

the view from the road

looking at the big piggy

bunny hutch

Sam on the carousel

Maddie loves, loves, loves the carousel!

two cuties

Whoo! Whoo!


in awe

total sibling cuteness

All in all, a great day trip! Little farm, carousel, lunch and steam trains all before naptime.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Cooking, Summer Color

aka, Why Becky LOVES Summer

Clockwise from upper left corner:
TJ's basil pesto chicken sausages, fresh corn, green beans and fruit salad
Heirloom tomato
Granola with white nectarine
Fresh squash
Fresh watermelon
Pattypan Squash Hash with poached eggs (sorry, no recipe, just thrown together one night)
Granola with greek yogurt, strawberries and blueberries

I scream, you scream

When you haven't made your own fresh-churned...

we all scream for Mickey D's $1.00 ice cream!

Man, I love summer!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sabbath Adventures: Good Friends, Good Times

Friday we met up with the Holbrooks for a relaxing evening, starting at the pool:

Dada and Maddie tangoed across the shallows

The girlies played on the side

We enjoyed an awesome summer salad

and homemade cookies and cream ice cream (my favorite thus far)

I got to hike with a great friend

and spend some time with God in this beautiful cathedral of oaks

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Maddie: 43 Months

Dear Maddie,

Yesterday you turned the ripe old age of 43 months, one month past 3 1/2 and that much closer to 4. It was a day full of Maddie-isms, laughter and amazement at not only what you say, but how much you are capable of doing.

You continue to be our extrovert extraordinaire, thriving on a busy schedule rife with play dates, visits to the park, errands, pool days, and an endless stream of "what's next?" Your best friends continue to be Nicole and Kate, two of the sweetest girls I know. I couldn't have picked better friends for you, nor could I have predicted that you would get along so fabulously with the girls of the moms that I love. You still consider yourself an Eakin and are always asking to see some combination of the Holbrook, Eakin and Larson families.

It seems like every day you surprise me with something that you can do. We have fallen into such a predictable routine that I often just start in when you ask me to stop, assuring me you can do it yourself. Just last week it was buttoning every single button on your jammies, four small, tightly sewn ones. I had no idea you could! You love to pick out outfits and dress yourself, oftentimes quite sensible and matching, other times hilariously wrong in so many ways. In the photo above, you insisted on wearing the dress backwards and presented me with no fewer than fourteen butterfly clips and barrettes with which to fasten up your hair.

Your fine motor skills and creativity never cease to amaze me. You love, love, love to dive into an art project with gusto and imagination. I was astounded one morning when you took the above scrap of paper and decorated it with palm trees, sand and the ocean water. You proudly displayed it for the camera, narrating with joy the visage of Hawaii. It hangs proudly on the bulletin board, your most accurate drawing to date.

You love to dress up and be fancy. Thank goodness for our next door neighbor, her full-time job, and endless supply of beautiful work clothes and shoes for you to admire and try on. She was more than happy to offer up these fashionable shoes at the end of a long Friday last week. You danced around the neighborhood BBQ with your usual flair, making everyone laugh and smile and admire the sweet and vivacious girl we know so well.

One day this month we raised the seat on your bike and as you pedaled away, I couldn't believe how big you were. It was like watching someone else's four or five year-old riding away. You are so long and lean and strong. Don't even get us started on your tan lines this summer, which only accentuate and lengthen. Our favorite farmer at the market yesterday asked if you were five yet. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! Some days I just want to freeze you at this stage.

You are silly, constantly cracking us up, whether intentionally or just as a byproduct of your imagination, zaniness, and lack of restraint. There is a story that will not be published on this blog involving the proper names of certain anatomical features; let it suffice to say that for weeks after, every time I thought of said conversation, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. It was with great relief I read a recent baby center update that outlined the obsessive and repetitive nature of kids your age, and your tendency to repeat "sensitive material," much to the chagrin of parents everywhere.

You are becoming more and more aware of issues of a spiritual nature, asking all sorts of questions. We are constantly entering into these deep theological discussions involving the size and invisibility of God and whether or not there are potties in heaven. One night we sang the song with the lyrics "Jesus, your name is like honey on my lips, your spirit like water to my soul, your word is a lamp unto my feet, Jesus we love you, we love you." A few minutes later we went to pray and you shouted out with glee, "Jesus, we were just singing about you!"

One of my all-time favorite moments of the past month (and maybe the past year) occurred during our recent week at Family Camp. Every day you attended camp for a few hours in the morning and then again at night after dinner. When I went to pick you up from "night class," as you called it, you refused to come out, screaming, crying big tears, and running away from me as all the waiting kids and parents looked on. I felt horrible. Once I finally got you out and into my arms, I snuggled and held you, asking what could be going on, knowing this behavior was so unlike you (even if it was over an hour past your bedtime). We finally got the answer: you were so upset we would pick you up and take you back to sleep in our room when all the other kids got to spend the night! You calmed down once we explained that 3 and 4 year-olds do not get to stay overnight with the counselors. We even stopped to show you all the other parents walking back with their kids, assuring you that one day you will get to do overnight camp. The only other time you cried at camp is when you realized you weren't big enough to ride the zip line. What we have on our hands is an extremely social, active and brave girl.

You are tender, kind and loving. You are a good friend, a sweet big sister, and most of the time thoughtful, considerate and gracious. You are also strong-willed, obstinate, and full of energy, character traits which will no doubt one day make you a fine woman capable of making decisions as well as a gifted leader. I must keep reminding myself of these things. Daily. Hourly. Minutely.

It's been a fun month, my dear, and by this time next month you will be off to preschool again. Thanks for filling my Summer with adventure, sweet memories, and love. Looking forward to the seasons ahead.