Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tomatillo Salsa (A potential Chipotle Copycat!)

Today is one of those days that I would love to just sit and pin things on Pinterest and then go curl up on the couch with a good chic flick.  The weather is a tad blustery and at any given time, it may just decide to down pour.  Rain is exciting around here, because we've been in a horrible drought and with El Nino making her appearance, rain is actually measurable.  So. . . bring on the rain!

Yesterday, I made some salsa to go with our Taco Night menu.  Usually, I make this one and this one, but tonight I wanted to tackle the green/tomatillo salsa that Chipotle makes.  It surprised me that there weren't more on Pinterest and so I went with the first one I had.  I didn't exactly follow the directions. . . I just used them as guidelines. 

First of all, if you are wondering what the Tomatillo salsa is. . . it's the green/medium salsa at Chipotle.  It's my husbands favorite and it's pretty high on my list, too!  Tomatillos can be found in most grocery stores, and look like little tomatoes, but with a green tissue-y wrapper around them.  They range in size from ping pong balls to baseballs and are firmer than a tomato.

This recipe was super simple and really didn't take to much time to do.  And I can't stop eating it.  It's pretty delicious!  Mine turned out not super spicy, but it would be easy to make it spicier.  
Line a jelly roll pan with foil and put your rinsed tomatillos, garlic, and onions on top.  Place them under the broiler for about 10-15 minutes.  This really depends on the sizes of your tomatillos.  The smaller they are, the quicker they will cook.  I set my timer for 3 minute intervals and turned them around so they get charred on all sides and not burned on just one.

I forgot to take a picture of what they look like once they are done cooking.  Oops! 
But, this was taken not long after.  Look at that charred goodness!  Put all the veggies in a food processor, along with 3 chipotle chilies.  I followed the original recipe and seeded them. . . you might not want to if you want some heat.  It's up to you.  Put the lid on and pulse a few times. 
Mmmm. . . it's starting to look delicious!  Go ahead and sprinkle a few handfulls of cliantro in and pulse one or two more times.  Sprinkle with salt and and a dash of lime juice and get to dipping!

Don't you just want to eat this right up?  It was so yummy!  I think the added heat is the only thing that was missing from the Chipotle version, and that can be solved by adding some seeds from the chilies.   

Tomatillo Salsa
adapted from here

1-1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked and rinsed. 
1 onion, cut into large chucks
4-6 garlic cloves
3 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce
lime juice

Place veggies on a foiled jelly roll pan.  Roast under broiler for 10-15 minutes, turning veggies every 3 minutes to get a good char. 
Put veggies and juice into food processor.  Add chilies.  Pulse a few times until you get the desired consistency.  Add cilantro and salt to taste.  Pulse a few more times.  Pour into a bowl and add more salt, if desired and a splash of lime juice.  Stir and dip a tortilla in it.  Try to stop. . . if you can!   

UPDATE:  When I made this before, it was wonderful, but not a lot of kick.  I added a jalepeno to my baking sheet and roasted it with rest of the veggies and added everything to the food processer (I did pull of the stem, but left the seeds!).  The perfect amount of kick.  This moves it from a mild salsa to a medium-hot.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Let's just keep it real {the toys that hide under the couch!}

Let's chat.  Let's have a get real, drink coffee, and chat kind of talk.  If you came to my house, I would make you a yummy latte and some sort of treat and we would have a wonderful time sitting around.  My house would not be picture perfect and I probably won't apologize.  In fact, I wouldn't even find someone to take my son so we could chat.  He'll probably be in the other room playing with toys or playdoh.  He might even bring you some playdoh cookies to try. 

 Friends, I really want to be honest with you here in this space. We have been doing a lot of work on our house and I can't wait to share it with you soon.  But, before I do, we need to talk reality.   I  try really hard to keep my house fairly clean and well, sometimes errr most of the time, toys just sort of take over.  In fact, any given day trains and Legos are EVERYWHERE! Crayons and books are scattered across the coffee table and homework is on the dining room table.  Life is happening in our house and when we were choosing how to decorate it, we really wanted it to be a place that was calm and inviting. 

That being said, this last week was INSANE.  We ordered a new couch from IKEA (post to come soon), got rid of the first couch we bought together (just before Ethan was born!), and had the new one delivered.  Everything happened so quick and it was already a very crazy week.  But, because it was a busy week, our couches sat in their boxes  next to an empty rug for a few days before there was even an opportunity to open them and put them together (the best part of IKEA!).  I even had a sweet friend over for coffee in the midst of this chaos. 

But, the fun part and probably was the picture I posted this to instagram when we got rid of our older couch.  Lost toys have now been reunited with my boys.  There was so much stuff under there. . . even a bag of cheerios! 

Seriously!  I looked at it and all I could do is laugh.  For awhile, all I did was just stare a the mess.  It was a little overwhelming and I realized I was probably not the only one who had a mess underneath the couch! I probably should be super embarrassed that it got this bad, but instead I chose to post it. I posted it because this is life.  Life with kids is messy and fun and utterly exhausting

As moms, we clean up messes multiple times a day and often as soon as one mess is cleaned up the mess is just made again 5 minutes later. It can be frustrating, irritating, mind boggling, or plain out exasperating!  My reality is, when the kids are tucked into bed, it's my time.  I may pick up a few things, but most of the time I trudge my tired body to the couch and find some mindless show to watch.  Under the couch is NEVER on my to-do list. . . well, maybe one or two times a year, but not daily or weekly. 

Let's stop worrying about what how perfect the "Jones'" house next door is compared to yours.  Let's love the space we have and invite others in willingly.  It might not be perfect or look like it came out of Better Homes and Gardens.  Let's embrace the MESSY and be content in the phase of life that we are in (it doesn't last long!).  Let's invite others into our home and do life with each other. . . without worry of judgement or criticism.   It's your space, where your children and family are loved.  Let's welcome others into it openly, without fear. . . even if there is a new toy story movie developing under the couch. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lego Valentines and a free printable

Whew!  What a week!  The kids are still alive and I got Valentines done before this morning, so I call that a win (I did forget to sign up for something for the class party though. . . shhhh. . . mom fail!).  I might start doing a happy dance when the weekend starts because I am so done with this week.  But, back to Valentines. . .

Last year we did heart shaped crayons which was a HUGE hit with the kiddos.  They had fun making them and giving them out.  So, when I found the mold for Lego guys at the Lego store we knew at once what Valentines we were going to do.  I mean, there might be a chance we do these EVERY year from now on because my boys LOVE Legos.  I really don't mind, because they are just so easy. 

This year, it took a little bit more time and organization because the mold only held 8 mini figures rather than the 24 hearts that last year's made.  Also, Ethan wanted them to be all solid colors rather than the marbley look of last year's.  So, on Monday (we didn't have school that day), we took an hour and unwrapped all colors we needed and bagged them up by color.  That way, I could do a couple of batches throughout the week with minimal effort.  It worked. . . I had to force myself to stop!  This year we made enough to give each kid 3 mini figure crayons.

You can find my tutorial for making crayons here.

Then, we perused pinterest for the best lego valentine saying we could find and made our own printable.  These fit perfectly in a 4x6 cello bag. I had mine printed on card stock from Office Depot.  We just folded over the back and sealed it with some washi tape. 

You can print out your own here.

Happy Valentine's Day!  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Weston is 5: Airplane Party Activities

Everywhere we go, Weston informs everybody that he is 5 now and then asks me if he's going to be 6.  He might be in a bit of a hurry to grow up.  Part of me just wants to keep  him this age forever.  It's so much fun!  This year, Weston got to invite a couple of friends along with his usual stream of friends and family.  But, not matter how many kids, I love having pre-planned activities for the kids to do so they don't get bored while the parents are all having fun standing around talking.  

Since this party was an airplane party, I found lots of super fun activities that were low cost and a ton of fun for both kids and adults!   We were so lucky because we woke up to a rainy morning, but thankfully it was a beautiful (and cold) afternoon.  The kids didn't mind being outside either!  Also, a big thanks to El Nino for making our grass green again!

Paper Airplane making station 
The kids made paper airplanes and decorated them.  Then we flew them to see whose went the farthest.   

Foam Gliders
The kids built foam gliders and we flew them around the back yard and tried to land them in hula hoop targets.

Pin the Propeller on the Airplane
We tortured our kid guests by blind folding them, spinning them around a few times, and having them tape their propeller onto to a drawn airplane (Big thanks to my husband for his artistic skills!).  I was able to find the propellers to print out here for free.

We also had bubbles, play dough, and areo props for the kids to play with. 

The kids had a blast! 

Check out the rest of Weston's airplane party here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Weston is 5: Airplane Birthday

I honestly am in denial that I am doing this post and that Weston really didn't turn 5 this month.  Seriously, how can this be?  Wasn't this just yesterday?  And didn't I just throw this party?  But really, I have loved all the stages of these kids so far and I am so excited to see this next phase of life pan out.  Weston is such a great kid and loves airplanes, cars, trains, legos, action figures, and video games.  He can beat me at the Disney Infinity with no help from dad (but let's be honest. . . I never really had a chance!).  This kid is so full of life and joy that you can't help but smile when you are around him!

Because Weston has had a huge interest in airplanes and both the Disney movies, we decided an airplane themed party would be perfect for him.  I had to be super organized in my planning because we planned our annual Winter vacation for the week before his party.  I had everything laid out and ready to go because we got home 2 days before the party.  We even contemplated staying an extra day. . . seriously what were we thinking?  We might just be a tad crazy! 

I bought a lot of stuff from Target because I loved how it fit with the color scheme of blue, turquoise, and green.  I bought some digital images and made all the signs myself. 

This party was a ton of fun to put together!  I loved stepping out of my normal design ideas and trying something new.  

Tune in tomorrow to check out some of the activities and games!

Images: Jessica Sawyer Design

Banner:  I followed this tutorial and used the mint medley card stock from JoAnns. It was pretty easy, but ended up using a hot glue gun for party of the letters and only burned myself once. . . I call that a success!

Menu:  Cinnamon Bun popcorn, pretzels, spinach dip and sourdough, veggies and dip, chips and salsa, Devil's Food cupcakes, bacon wrapped sausages, trail mix, and airplane ham sandwiches, rice krispy treats, and red vines

Streamer Banner, Ball banner, table cloths and plates: Spritz for Target

Friday, February 05, 2016

A call to create

Last month, this little blog space celebrated it's 7th birthday!  That got me to thinking about this blog lately and why I started it.  I remember being a new mom and needing an outlet and trying out this blog thing.  I wanted to be able to share recipes with friends and encourage other moms around me to find their creative side.

Now, 7 years later I still love coming and sharing bit and pieces of my life with my readers.  Creativity is something that I have a passion for and is something that many kept telling me I wouldn't have time for once my oldest was born.  Contrary to what people told me, I found that not only was there time for it, but there was a need for it.

I subtitled my blog "Finding creativity in the midst of motherhood" because I wanted to encourage moms that it is possible to be creative even when we are covered in spit up and changing blow out diapers all day. Even when it seems impossible.

Several weeks ago, when I was listening to the Jamie Ivey podcast they were talking about another blogger (I am so sorry, I forgot who it was) who said we were made to create. I couldn't agree with that more!

As a Christian, I believe I was created by a creative God who created us in His image.  If this is the case, we are all creative in some way, not necessarily in the same way (because we are all uniquely made).   I know so many people who love the idea of creative things, but don't feel like they have a creative bone in their body.  They would much rather pay someone else to be creative for them. For the longest time, a dear sweet friend of mine always told me she couldn't cook and would always joke that she should just pay me to bake for her.  Now, most of her posts are of her doing the unthinkable.  She stepped out of her comfort zone and into her kitchen and now that's the place that she finds refreshment and satisfaction.

Friends (because I we're all friends around here), creating something is not necessarily creating something etsy-worthy but filling a God given desire to make something beautiful.  We can create on a semi daily basis by
:: making food for our family that isn't throwing a corn dog on a plate (which is funny, because that's exactly what my kids are having tonight because it's Bible Study night!).
:: taking pictures
:: arranging/decorating your house
:: Sending someone a card
:: journaling
:: painting
:: sewing
:: knitting
:: coloring

The list can go on for miles, but this year I want to encourage you to find what drives your creativity.  Find out what gets you creative and then feel that satisfaction of finishing something that you are proud of.
Discover joy in creativity.
And explore the beauty of imperfection.  Being creative is never perfect and often our best comes out of our disasters.  

There is joy to be found in creativity.  It is not something to be feared or ignored.  Let's grow closer to our creator by finding our creative side!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Tuesday thoughts (because Monday came and went)

Today is one of those days I just want to crawl back into bed.  Not because it was a bad day, but because today came WAY too early!  The reality of being back to our normal schedule came too early when our oldest woke up 2 hours early with a sore throat.  I do not do early very well.  I especially don't do early when my son is in a funk and wants to extend our vacation (if only. . . ).  But, we survived and I now I am trying to find my groove again.

Here's some things that caught my eye this past week:

:: Besides being incredibly excited for Netflix's Fuller House, this announcement also got me super excited!

:: I love mom videos. . . this one was no exception!

:: This article

:: I am finding this election year disheartening, but this made me laugh!

:: Have you checked out the Jamie Ivey podcast yet?  Seriously, I could totally be real friends with these people!  I listened to this one the other day and now I want to read her books!

:: I am very seriously contemplating starting my own sourdough starter.  Any advice?

:: My lemon tree is overflowing with lemons so this month I plan on making lots of lemon things, including some lemon curd!

:: And x files. . . have you watched it?  I never did, but I married a fan and in the past 10 years, I have watched SO MANY episodes that I am super excited about watching them.  So far, so good.  Oh, and they are funny.  It's weird.   Fox Mulder and Scully got silly!  

And, now I am going to go watch Life in Pieces and go to bed.  Tomorrow will be here before we know it!


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