Monday, May 6, 2013

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

We are still going strong with the strawberries over here so I thought I'd share this simple cake recipe with you.  It is a moist single layer cake without icing and it makes a great light summer dessert or a nice sweet breakfast pastry.

 Please excuse the camera phone picture!

I found this recipe on the blog Marzipan and the only thing I changed was to substitute chopped strawberries for the raspberries.  (PS, I've made this with raspberries too and it was just as amazing!)

Click on over for the full recipe and pictures that do this cake a lot more justice.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Playful Friday

Here's how we've been playing this week!
(Every Friday I'm sharing a quick look at how my boys and I played together over the course of the week....because they really do want Mommy to play sometimes too.)

Monday - Alphabet Rice Box (I dumped the pieces of an alphabet puzzle into our sensory box with rice...the boys had a blast digging them all out to put the puzzle together!)

Tuesday - Bubble Bath Fun!

Sure we take baths all the time but this time we played together with our Cars (toys from the movie) instead of me relaxing with a book during the splash down.

Wednesday - Fingerpaint

Alex making his masterpiece by using an empty water bottle as a stamp

Thursday - Grilling in the new Playhouse

We decided to buy the boys' their large birthday gift a few (ahem 6) months early so they could enjoy it all summer!

I love that it is big enough for them to play together.  Aaron's cooking corn on the stove while Alex grills me a burger. :)

Friday - Playing with cars

Another daily occurrence around here, but one I don't usually join in on. (but need to more often!)  Today we raced cars down the ramp together as I got in touch with my more masculine side ;)

Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Raw Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Strawberries are in season and we have been really enjoying them!  I wanted to make some more jam for the boys (they love their PB&J) and decided that this time I was going to try using chia seeds instead of my usual recipe.

Never had chia seeds?  Yeah I do mean those little things that grow lots of grass on you favorite Chia Pet.  They are edible and they are very good for you!

Here is an excerpt from Eating Bird Food, the blog where I found this particular jam recipe.

"As a quick recap, they’re a good source of:
  • Omega 3 fatty acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning that you need to get from food sources because your body cannot produce them itself. Omega 3′s reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. They’re also said to help with weight reduction related to their regulation of blood sugar levels and insulin.
  • Plant-based protein – We all know protein is an essential macronutrient needed for many functions in the body, including muscle building.
  • Antioxidants – Anti-oxidants help rid our body of free radicals, which have been linked to cancer and heart disease.
  • Fiber – Helps with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, prevents constipation and enhances regularity.
  • Magnesium and Potassium – Two minerals needed for good health."

Mr Pear's has been "into" chia seeds for a few months now.  He typically puts a tablespoon or two in a glass of lemonade, I like them in hot green tea.  Either way they have no flavor but lots of great health benefits.  And one other kind of strange characteristic....they turn very gelatinous in liquid.  Perfect for making jam!

Most jams you have to cook, but not this one.  In this raw recipe the chia seeds make the mashed strawberries magically turn into jelly!  And since strawberries have little seeds about the same size of chia seeds, the chias are mostly unnoticable.  My twins definitely haven't complained!

I love that this recipe not only preserves all the nutrients in the raw strawberries but also adds the health benefits of the chias AND it is super super fast to make!  You can have homemade jelly prepared in 10 minutes!  (Though you should let it set up for about an hour after that.)  And it tastes good.  Win!

Click over to the Eating Bird Food blog for the recipe and Enjoy!

PS, doubling the recipe (2 cups of strawberries) makes about a 12oz jar of jam/jelly.....oh and I used the immersion blender but left it fairly chunky....  :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Playful Friday

The thing we do most around this house is Play! I've gotten away from organized play school but we are having such a great time just learning and playing in so many different ways each day.  Every Friday I'm going to post what we've been up to during the past week.

These are all times when I sit down with the boys and actively play with them.  Often during the day the boys will play independently or together but they love playing with Mom so I try to make time to fully engage in at least one activity with them each day.

Feel free to comment on your favorite ways to play or link a blog post with ideas for us.  (BTW, these guys are 2.5 now!)  Time is flying.

Sunday - Play dough  (want to make it? Try this recipe)

 I'm pretty sure that was supposed to be a dog....I'm an amazing play doh artist ;)

Monday- Paper Plate Snakes

Chasing each other around the house yelling "SSSSSS" is a huge fav around here

Tuesday- Sprinkler Hopscotch

So much fun we almost flooded the backyard!

Wednesday- Baking Cookies

Avidly watching the mixer and waiting to taste the dough!

Thursday- Playing in the (play) Kitchen

I was served a cupcake and a fried egg for lunch, yum!

Friday- Building with blocks

And laughing when they get knocked down

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Salmon with Pea Pancakes

Do you like peas?  I don't.  Not really.  I mean, I'll eat them if they are on my plate because that is what grown-ups do, but I rarely make them at home.  They just aren't my favorite veggie.  Mr Pear's likes them though, so when I saw this recipe for Pea Pancakes in the Bon Appetit magazine I figured I'd give them a shot.

And I liked them!  In fact, I thought they were awesome.

These are savory pancakes, a bit on the salty side, they taste very much like the blinis typically served with caviar.  (I like caviar.  Seems weird though, to like fish eggs but not peas....oh well)

We pan fried some great salmon to serve with our pea pancakes and the combination of the two made for a great dinner that felt just a bit gourmet.  Not bad for a Monday night dinner made in about a half hour!

Here is a link to the picture below.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chickpea and Roasted Eggplant Dip

We try not to snack too much around here (my husband, is a chipaholic) but we usually have some homemade hummus on hand for a healthy snack when we need one.  I'm a huge fan of hummus.  I still remember being in my early 20's sitting on our apartment balcony with my best friend chatting while she ate her daily bagel with hummus.  Way before hummus was so popular, my friend was such a trend-setter. ;) 

Even my picky little Aaron loves hummus.  You should hear him say hummus, so funny!  Something like humNUS?  lol.

We really love Baba Ghanoush as well. If you've never heard of it, it is just like hummus only made with roasted eggplant instead of chickpeas.  Yum.

Last week in our veggie basket (we are buying organic Bountiful Baskets now) we got a lone eggplant and it didn't take me long to decide to make some eggplant dip.  But one little eggplant wasn't going to be enough for me and my hungry boys so I decided to make make the eggplant dip go a little farther with the addition of chickpeas.  The result was delicious!  If you like hummus, give this one a try.  It is remarkably simple if you have a good blender and the dip comes out so nice and fluffy.  

Chickpea and Roasted Eggplant Dip, by 4 Pears
1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb)
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

To begin, preheat the oven to 375 F and prick the eggplant a few times with a fork (like a baked potato) and then put it on a sheet tray in the oven.  Roast the eggplant in the oven about 15 minutes, turning it once.  When it is done, the eggplant should be slightly blackened and puckered looking.

Set the eggplant aside to cool and in the meantime put all of the other ingredients into your blender.  Once the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut it in half lengthwise and then scoop out the flesh and put that into the blender too.  

Turn it on and let it go! If your blender has settings like ours, you want to use the puree setting.  If not just blend it for a minute or two or until everything is nice and smooth and fluffy.  Taste it and add salt if necessary. 

Serve with crackers or chips, veggies and olives.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Out of Office

I hope everyone out there had a lovely Easter! We had a great time and the kids were very spoiled by the Easter bunny and the "grand" Easter bunny. :)

Now we are getting ready to enjoy a visit from the boys' Godparents so I've decided to take a break this week.  I've got a really good post coming next week, though, so see you then!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Play School - Easter

I'm having a hard time comprehending that Easter is on Sunday!  It seems like 2013 is truly flying by.  I find myself still writing 2012 sometimes....but that could be because I rarely write out the date.  SAHM problems.

But the weather is beautiful and Spring is in full force here and I'm looking forward to a nice Easter with the kids and their Grammy and Papa.  I'm so glad to have family here in Nevada.  Hey Mom!  Sure you don't want to move here too??? Please!?  :)

For our Easter Play School I decided to try something new.  A Pre-K pack from Over the Big Moon.  I've seen "packs" on Pinterest and the boys are getting to an age/level where I think they are ready to do some of them.  Read on for more.....

Books - 

What is Easter by Michelle Medlock Adams  

This is a GREAT book if you are interested in teaching your kids about the religious meaning of Easter....but are ok with celebrating with the bunny too.  Before I had kids I said, no way no Easter bunny.  But I found that I couldn't take away that experience from my little guys and I am confident they will learn to know that the most important part of Easter has nothing to do with egg hunts and jelly beans.  This book is a great first step for the youngest of kids.

It's Easter, Little Critter! by Mercer Mayer

I love these books, they are nostalgic for me.  And the boys love looking for the mouse and the spider (Yuck! says Aaron) on every page.

Owen's Marshmallow Chick by Kevin Henkes

A cute little book about a mouse who enjoys his Easter candy but cuddles his marshmallow chick.  Very sweet.

And Most Importantly!!

We are "trying" to read the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  My inspiration (I had never heard of this Bible before) came from In Lieu of Preschool.

I love the book.  It is a great "Bible" written in more of a story-telling type fashion.  Every story points to Jesus in a very enlightening manner.  But, admittedly, I am getting more out of reading this than the twins.  I try to read a chapter a day and sometimes they listen, and sometimes they don't.  But that is ok.  We are going to make a tradition of reading it each Spring and I know that they will come to enjoy it and take away a lot from it as they grow.

Activities -

Over the Big Moon Easter Pre-K pack  - I really like these packets.  They are free and easy to download and this one is huge!  It has 31 pages.  I was able to choose a lot of different activities to do with the boys that I thought were at a good level for them.

I printed out my favorites and laminated most of them.  I laminated two puzzles, the size sequencing baskets, and one of the pattern sheets and attached magnets to the pieces so the boys can use them on their large magnet board in the playroom.

I also laminated and cut of some of the vocab cards to play memory and matching games.

Watercolor E is for Egg craft - In doing our Easter craft I decided to go about it a little differently than usual.  Instead of doing the whole thing at once, this time we are doing a little every day.  My kids get very excited when I ask them if they want to paint, color, use stickers, etc....but they don't stay at the activity for very long.  So I decided to finally learn from their cues and just separate the activity into steps.

For this one we are decorating an Easter egg to put in our alphabet books. The first day the boys painted some paper with watercolors.  This was their first time using watercolors and they did great!

Once the paintings were dry I cut them each into a large egg shape.  Over the coming days we'll continue to decorate them with stickers, stamps, whatever the boys want, then I'll glue them to cardstock and label them, E is for egg, for the books.

Easter Egg Dying - We are doing this today with Grammy!  We are going to use an egg spinner I picked up in Target that I thought the boys would enjoy at this age.

Easter Egg hunt - Just a small one in the backyard on Sunday. :)

So that is about it!  No church for the boys, unfortunately they still can't handle it.  But I am excited to be able to go with my MIL while Papa and Daddy watch the boys.  Hopefully they'll be watching them play, not watching them eat too much candy.

Have a very happy Easter everyone!  Or if you celebrate Passover and made it this far....Happy Passover too.  :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Play School: St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's day is one of those holidays that I never really celebrated before i had kids. Well, unless you want to count all that indulging in green beer in my early 20's.  Now, though, every holiday is a great excuse to play and learn. :)

My boys are very into identifying colors these days. They are constantly telling me the color this or that item is. And they are good at it. They know: blue, green, purple, yellow, white, orange, black and brown. They also know red and pink but still have trouble saying those. Instead, red is rojo (Thanks Dora!) and pink is identified by making an oinking sound.  I'm always amazed at how their little minds work.

Here are the activities we did to celebrate St Paddy's day this year (sadly, no green beer).


There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover by Lucille Colandro

The Night Before St Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing

Both were very cute books and the boys enjoyed them.


Leprechaun Hats - Ah, these were a labor of love.  I used two sheets of poster board and some black and yellow construction paper (instead of felt as directed) to make these Leprechaun hats.  I knew the boys would get a kick out of them (and they did) so I'm glad I made them but man they were a pain in the you-know-what to put together. They came out cute though. :)

Building a Rainbow- for this one I had Mr Pears cut a dowel rod into six pieces of equal length.  I stuck them into a small floral foam wreath form that I had picked up at the dollar store.  (I left the plastic wrap on the wreath form because that foam can get messy!)  I gave the boys this strange looking "toy" along with their Melissa and Doug Lacing Beads. The boys had a great time placing the beads onto the dowels.

At first they just randomly stuck them on but then they began sorting by color and of course I showed them the order of the colors in the rainbow.  I'm sure we'll continue to play with this one for a while, it was a great new use for the lacing beads!

Magnetic Pom Pom Rainbow- I found this activity at Sew Fantastic.  The blog provides a free rainbow template that I printed and taped to our big magnet board in the playroom.  Then I hot glued pieces of magnets to poms. This is another great activity for color recognition and identification and one to one correspondence as well.

The boys were really excited to find that their poms now stuck to the magnet board!  They did a great job filling out the rainbow.

Shamrock Hunt - I hid ten foam shamrocks around the backyard for a bit of outside fun.  The boys love looking for things so they thought this was great.  After each one was found the boys (I) would count them to see how many we had.  Once we found all ten we had a treat!

Baking Cupcakes - I decided to forgo green food and make some delicious Coconut Lime cupcakes for St Paddy's instead.  I found the recipe here, and it is adapted from Ina Garten's famous coconut cupcakes so  of course they were awesome.  They only had some flecks of green from the lime zest but the kiddos didn't seem to mind.  Alex and Aaron continue to love to help in the kitchen. (And eat the results too of course!)

After all our fun activities and cupcakes we had a nice green bath courtesy of some food coloring and our foam shamrocks.  A fun day for my little (very partially) Irish boys.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Decorating for Easter/Spring

Well I wanted to write a post about a fantastic pie I made over the weekend but unfortunately the pie was not fantastic.  So instead I'll just tell you about my super exciting weekend and share some of the crafty projects I did.

This weekend was all about spring cleaning! (I told you it was exciting) Mr pears and I cleaned the whole house from top to bottom.  I am lucky enough to have a husband that cooks and cleans!!  As boring as it sounds, it was really great.  Especially once it was done and the house was all sparkly and declutted.  And despite two year old twins doing their darnedest to mess it up, the house is still looking nice a few days later....success!

On top of cleaning I also finally made a wreath for our front door.  I have been wanting to do some kind of monogram wreath for a while now but just hadn't gotten around to it.  But one MDF letter from Hobby Lobby, some paint, a vine wreath and some fake-but-not-too-fake looking flowers (those are hard to find) and I was good to go.

I came up with this.

I really like it!  Springy but simple.

And simple is sort of my motto these days.  Lately I am really all about decluttering and simplicity and it is being reflected in my decorating style.  I've been taking down things and taking things off of tables.  Moving things around and only adding a few new touches here and there.  My simple new wreath.  A super cute ceramic bunny.

I also made that print.

I stole was inspired by this, that I saw on Pinterest and decided to see if I could make one of my own.  I love the simplicity of it as well as the sentiment.  (I'm also becoming more and more sappy as I get older, yeesh.)  I made it using picmonkey...which I had never used before!

So there you have it folks.  We are off to Disneyland again with the boys tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to soaking up some sunshine and Spring air and playing with the kiddos.  Have a nice week!