July 26, 2010

Meet Robert S. Crow

We've added a new member to the family, Robert S. Crow. He goes by farmer Bob. He's really just for fun because he doesn't have any moving parts or sounds, but he's cute and kind of funny. Now all we need is a Genevieve Crow so he won't be lonely : ) Josh also built a fabulous new watering system for our gardens. He made a four pronged system with p.v.c. that has individual holes drilled to water each plant. All I have to do now is plug the hose into the quick release at the corner of the square and it slowly waters each plant. This came about as a result of Josh having to water the garden while me and the kids were in ABQ. He realized how much time it took to water every thing individually and he decided to make us a time-saver. I love it!!
I had to put this in because it's too cute. Frankie really loves his daddy!
Josh also built a more reasonable method of bird control. We had some problems at the beginning of the summer with birds eating our tomatoes the second they were ripe. We had gotten a bird net and kind of thrown it over the top of the plants and staked it down. That was a real pain because the net got hung up in the leaves of the plant, it got tangled around the stakes and it was just a general pain. Josh built a 5' cube out of p.v.c. that he zip tied the bird net to to go over the box. Then the net hangs down to the ground where it is zip tied to some loose p.v.c. that I can lift up and over the frame. This is also a huge time and sanity saver because it is now possible to quickly grab a tomato whereas before I had to wrestle with the bird net first.
Frank has also picked up his first chore, mowing the lawn ; )

July 20, 2010

the culinary experience of ABQ

Any time I'm with my mom it is a culinary experience. She and I both love good food and we do what it takes to get it! While in ABQ we did both a little bit of cooking and a little bit of dining out. We made some good old stand-by dishes; spagbol, roast chicken with lemony linguine, eggplant stew... We also experimented a little bit. The first thing we tried out was pork wellington, which is a pork tenderloin split down the middle and filled with dried apples then wrapped in prosciutto and wrapped again in puff pastry lined with a smidge of whole grain mustard. It was good but not great which was a disappointment because we really had high hopes. Our main complaints were that it was a little dry and lacked a real "umph." Since I've been home I made this again but I used mango chutney in the place of the dried apples. The taste was there but the extra liquid made the pastry soggy. I think it may be a while before I try this again.
The next thing that we tried was a roast duck with orange salsa and a pea, mushroom and pepper pasta. The salsa was FABULOUS! It had 2 oranges cut into bits, red onion, cilantro, red chili, mint, salt and lime juice. The duck was duck. It was fine but it was a little chewy really, chicken or fish would have been better. The noodles were surprisingly really good! We used a really yummy egg noodle that we found at Whole Foods. The rest was just red chilies, scallions, shitake mushrooms, and snow peas sauteed in sesame oil served with a dribble of soy sauce and sprinkled with cilantro. Quite tasty : )
Then there were the desserts. We made syllabub, which Nigella describes as being "the sort of dessert you imagine eating in heaven," and yes, it is that good. It's an aromatic, fluffy whiteness made by infusing cream with a small bit of liqueur, apple cider and a few other things and then whipping it into a near solid which is then loaded into glasses where you eat it by the spoonful. Delish!
Lastly we made a chocolate and raspberry pavlova. It too was very tasty! It's essentially a large chocolate meringue cooked until it's set but with a gooey center, topped with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and shaved chocolate. It was really very good but almost (wait for it) too chocolatey. I know, how is that possible? I'm not sure but it was so rich it almost stung to eat which took away from the dish for me. It was still good though and I'm excited to try this in a different flavor.
We of course ate at our favorite breakfast spot, The Flying Star, whose fabulous french toast is the epitome of good breakfast food. We also tried two new places; Sophia's Place and The Artichoke Cafe. Sophia's Place was phenomenal! It was actually featured on the Food Network show Drive-In's, Diners and Dives (or something like that, I don't know because I don't watch tv, I only know this because my mom told me) Anyway, I had red snapper tacos which were delish and my mom had a poblano relleno which was really delish. If you live in or around ABQ or if you happen to be in the area try it out, their menu is very interesting! Sadly, The Artichoke Cafe was a bit of a disappointment. The best thing about it was Frank cracking us up in his high chair. The best items we got were the appetizers which were so simple I could make them in my sleep. Roasted garlic with roasted red peppers and goat cheese, a good combo but not mind blowing, and a steamed artichoke with three dipping sauces which just happened to be clarified butter (boring), raspberry vinaigrette (weird), and a caper type hollandaise which was actually pretty good. The soups were both good, french onion and a chilled pea soup. Then the entrees were not only not good, they were bad. My mom got a chicken and veggie crepe with a creamy heirloom tomato sauce which was terrible. The chicken wasn't fresh, the tomato sauce was bizarre with the crepe. Blah! I got a seared scallop dish. The scallops (all four of them) were good, but then again how do you mess that up! The green been and grain salad was just chewy and unedible for the most part. That was kind of a bummer because the restaurant is well known and has gotten really good reviews.

Anyway, all of this decadent eating has us feeling a bit saturated and my mom and I have agreed to start a healthy eating challenge. We have set goals for what we want to do with the start of school being our first deadline. We will be starting a new blog to track our ideas and progress also. Once that is up I'll post a link in the sidebar. Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber

July 19, 2010

Explora and the Zoo

The Explora childrens museum was a ton of fun. They had a really large water area where you could build damns and learn about currents. There was also a more mechanical area where you could play with gears and build an arch. Frank's favorite was either the perpetual motion area or the giant bubbles.
We also went to the Albuquerque Zoo which is a very cool zoo. I may be biased because it's the zoo of my childhood but regardless it is still great. It sits next to the Rio Grande river and has a ton of cottonwood trees and greenery which I love. One of the special exhibits they had included a zebra hide, a lion hide, and a rhino skull that we could touch and check out up close. I was really surprised by how soft the lion hide was; just like a large house cat. It certainly didn't feel like it looks.

Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber

July 15, 2010

Eclipse Party

One of the things we did in ABQ was have a super fun party to celebrate the opening of Eclipse. It was really just a great excuse to have an over the top girly party. We decorated with 8 dozen red roses arranged in about a dozen small rose bowls. We had dozens of tea candles , a few pillar candles, and some taper candles as well. We decorated the outside with several strings of twinkle lights, and we used various pieces of my moms different sets of crystal including plates, flutes, and goblets. We served champagne and red wine for anyone who wanted it as well as red berry tea and sparkling pomegranate juice. Of course the food was fabulous! We made a variety of hors d oeuvres; shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon with cream cheese, crostinni with bruscetta and a roasted garlic pea spread... all very tasty! However, the piece de resistance had to be the cake which we ordered from a special bakery. It was made to look like the book Eclipse using a rolled fondant frosting, devine! Everyone was encouraged to dress up. Jillian's outfit was the most convincing because my mom made her a vest to wear which was similar to the vest Alice wears in Twilight. She looked very cute. Lastly, we got a lifesize cutout of Alice as she was the "host." If you've read the books you know that Alice always goes way overboard with her party planning and that is really where we got the inspiration for the decorations and everything. It was a great time!
Hope all is well! XOXO - Amber

July 14, 2010

Emergency Room

Call it mothers intuition, I don't know, but every mother knows when something terrible has happened just by the sound of a cry. It's not a "she won't share cry", or an "I stubbed my toe cry", it's a holy crap I am actually really hurt kind of sound and it is something I hope to never hear again. We were just hanging out yesterday when Frank fell and hit his mouth on a chair, jamming all of his top teeth completely up into his gums. I looked over and saw him with his hands up at his mouth covered in blood. When the blood finally slowed enough that I could see into his mouth, I thought his teeth had completely fallen out. We frantically called Josh, who was luckily home in about five minutes, and hopped in the car to get to the ER. The emergency room is ready for this kind of thing, people walking in covered in blood doesn't even phase them (no surprises there really). We are lucky actually because we live pretty close to a really wonderful children's emergency room called Mendy's Place where Frank was treated by Dr. Murphy. Everything went pretty well, he got to wear a really cute hospital gown, have a popsicle, and watch Spongebob while we waited for the bleeding to stop. The prognosis is good. We went to see the dentist today and the x-rays showed that all of his teeth are in tact and are just about 4 mm above his the gums. If all goes as it should, his teeth will come back down in the next couple of months. I can't say enough what a help Jillian was through all of this, she turned the oven off, got Frank's stuff together and kept her cool the whole time. You're a trooper Jill, THANKS! There was only one casualty, see for yourself : ( We'll get back to more ABQ picks tomorrow. Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber

July 13, 2010

Languid Summer Days

In between our various expeditions and cooking experiments we had the laziest most relaxed summer days around. We sat in the yard watching the kids chase the cows and play with the hose. We listened to Frank run full speed, shrieking, trying to catch the cat and then trying to squeeze under the sofa when he found her hiding spot. We goofed around on the laptop and played scrabble on our ipods. The kids played dress up and Frankie got a haircut. It wasn't listless, it was relaxing! So often on vacation we try to squeeze in as much as possible, filling every ounce of time with one activity or the other, and usually return home exhausted. That did not happen to us in ABQ as we spent about half of our time just kicking back. We were lucky that Ryan and Jess were in town the same time as us so we got to hang out with them a bit also.
On a side note, I was perusing the internet looking at miscellaneous gardening stuff when I came across this article - - Really cool pictures and ideas, check it out! Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber

July 12, 2010

We're Back!

We're back! We have just gotten back from our annual trip to Albuquerque where we spent the last two and a half weeks. We had a Fabulous, Marvelous, Wonderful time, but it is nice to be home where I can sleep in my own bed. We mainly go to ABQ to visit family as that is where my parents and Josh's mom and sisters both live. It's always fun catching up with family, but this time it was almost more. I really felt like we got to see everyone more than we usually do which was really great because the one time visit is always soo short that you never really get to do more than just see how big the kids have gotten and....well you know. It was so great that the kids got to see their cousins a bunch and have sleepovers and all kinds of stuff. We also did tons of fun stuff with Ma'am, Dadgum, Uncle Bubba and Jess which I will go into detail on in later posts.

It was also an unusual visit for me in that for the first time I really felt like a guest in my parents house. It's the house I grew up in and usually when we go to visit it feels like home to me. This time it was less so, not that I didn't feel welcomed and everything that's wonderful about visiting parents, it was just that it's really become their house and mine has become my home. I suppose you could say it's about time seeing as how I'm 30 but it's an unusual experience being in your childhood home and not knowing where stuff goes when you empty the dishwasher and not being able to find a bandaid. I guess I'm a "grown-up" now, too weird!

Anywho, we had loads of fun and now I have tons of work to do around the house so I've gotta split. Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber