Wednesday, February 29, 2012

basic kale salad

once upon a time i hated kale.

so much.

for years.

but then i had this.

all it takes is one good recipe.  (and that dressing is dang good.  i put it on everything.  even our resident Picky Picky Princess tesla loves it.  he tries to eat it out of the food processor whenever i make it.)

now kale and i have come to a delicious understanding.  (it also helps that it's about half the price of many of the other greens.)  i use it in a lot of recipes, but it doesn't need much to be transformed into a delectable dish.

i don't measure very often when i cook and i can't really call this a recipe, but i still thought you should have it.

basic massaged kale salad

serves 1 adult (and a toddler-sized mooch)

several leaves of kale
a little salt
half an avocado, diced

wash your kale and shred into small pieces.  sprinkle the bowl of torn kale with salt, and work it in with your hands.  massage the kale until it turns bright green and begins to take on a "cooked" texture.  add the diced avocado and continue to massage until the avocado smashes and coats the kale like a dressing. small chunks remaining are a desirable thing.
taste.  add more salt if it needs it.  eat and enjoy.  build upon this template for a more elaborate meal.

this salad received the Mundo Stamp of Approval.

Picky Picky Princess, however, wouldn't touch it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


i only listen to oldies radio.  i can sing along with 98% of the songs.  and i do.  loud and proud.

(my kids aren't old enough to ban me yet.)

i decided that i need to be more "with it" so i can relate to all the hip kids, you know.  so i decided to immerse myself in pop culture and memorize one popular song a week.  here's an excellent one by rihanna.  lyrically, it's a masterpiece.  it goes like this.


"we found love in a hopeless place

we found love in a hoooooopeless place

we found love in a hopeless place

we found love in a..."

10 points if you guess what the next word is.

(many thanks to silas for introducing me to this gem.  and then showing me the video.  which gave me dark and creepy vibes.)

desmond on a fence.

Monday, February 27, 2012

what we do when silas doesn't go to school

or, more appropriately, Thank You Silas for Being So Awesome Today.

silas has this week off school (it's the break between quarters).  he's been pretty stellar so far.  last night when we got back from visiting my parents and randy, we put the boys to sleep and then as i was getting ready for bed he started washing the huge pile of dishes on the counter (including a bunch of bowls and junk leftover from baking cupcakes).

i came into the kitchen, saw what he was doing, and...started crying.

(don't you wish you were married to me?)

"i know i them (sniff) but i'm just...(sniff) so tired and i can't do it tonight, i just can't!  i'm so tired!"

i'm pretty sure i repeated the phrase "i'm so tired" about five more times, in between sobs and thank-yous.  he laughed and hugged me and told me to go to bed where i promptly crashed until a little before 9 this morning.

you're snickering.  but at that time, The Dishes just seemed like this huge, insurmountable obstacle that i couldn't even face and having silas step in to take care of it was a Big. Deal.

(besides, i was just so tired.)

what a man.

*ps, for those who have asked, i'm not pregnant; at least not as far as i know.  that's always my first idea when i feel even slightly off.  so far so good though.  :)

silas and tesla made blueberry pancakes this morning.

apparently they were so good that tesla ate them with a spatula.

they didn't know how to make pancakes so i took on the role of recipe reader/micromanager.

"so, you'll want to mix all the dry ingredients in that big bowl there.  yeah, like that.  and then melt the butter in that little bowl and mix the eggs in after so you don't dirty extra dishes."

"when you add the wet ingredients, just barely stir it until the flour is incorporated.   it's okay if it still has lumps.  if you stir too much you'll activate the gluten which is good if you're making bread but since you're making pancakes you want them to be light--"

again, don't you wish you were married to me?

they managed to make some delicious pancakes in spite of my "help".

silas was the nice daddy and let them have syrup.  according to me, we've been "out of syrup" for three weeks.

(the less sticky the breakfast, the better in my book.)

it was a relaxed day.  there were naps, lots of snacks, and a trip to the library (and the dog park) involved.  and also some blocks.

and then tesla started freaking out because i wouldn't let him hold the camera.

i told silas i have no idea where he gets his mood swings from.


ha ha.

i'm hilarious.

a little love.

my dessert philosophy has always been, "more is better".

actually that kind of describes my food philosophy in general.  food and i go way back.

my mom brought me one last box of cookies from Two Smart Cookies when they moved from georgia.  they are, hands-down, the best sugar cookies you will ever tantalize your tastebuds with.  and i am not a sugar cookie person.

i made a "trial batch" of these cupcakes on thursday.  they were delicious.

obviously my frosting skills leave something to be desired.  but the more important item of note is that this photo was taken on my new phone!  that's right, i finally sucked it up and handed over $60 for a prepaid phone to switch my SIM card into.  a phone with a blurry camera.  and one which apparently doesn't have a volume control.  (seriously.  i can't find it.)  BUT it doesn't freeze up when i text and i can both make AND receive calls.  score.

the trial batch turned out exceptionally well, so i made a real batch for the girls' camp auction saturday night.  they went to a good home.  and then i realized i forgot to take pictures of them so i made yet another batch on sunday and brought them over when we had dinner with my parents and randy.

three times in 4 days.  that's saying something.

make these for someone you love.  everyone could use a little more love.

Brownie Batter-stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from here and here

yield:  about 24

brownie balls:

1/2 c butter, melted  (i use salted)
1 1/2 c white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c cocoa powder

In a bowl, melt the butter.  Whisk in the sugar until incorporated, then add the eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour and cocoa and stir until just combined.  Place batter in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, so it becomes easier to work with.  Shape 1/2 tablespoons of dough into balls (it helps to wet your fingers) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil.  Freeze for several hours.

note:  you may end up with more balls than cupcakes.  do not fret.  they taste excellent right out of the freezer.

and yes, my inner 11 year-old giggles every time i type "balls".

cupcake batter:

3 c all-purpose flour
2 c white sugar
1/2 c cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 c vegetable oil or melted butter (both work beautifully)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp white vinegar
2 c water

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare your muffin tin by either greasing the cups or using paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Add oil/butter, vanilla, vinegar, and water.  Whisk together until smooth.  (You can eat some.  There's a little wiggle room since the brownies displace some of the batter....)

Spoon a little cupcake batter into the bottom of each muffin cup.  Place a frozen brownie ball in, then continue to fill the cups until they are about 3/4 full with batter.

Bake for about 15 mins, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  (I'd stab 'em a little off-center when you're checking, because the brownie batter center isn't supposed to cook all the way through.)

Allow to cool before frosting.

basic cream cheese frosting:

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 c butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese.  Add vanilla, and then powdered sugar.  Frost cupcakes as desired.   Mad props if your cupcakes don't come out looking like a four year-old did them.  Also excellent on leftover blueberry pancakes you found sitting on the counter.

Friday, February 24, 2012


i think there are probably very few things that are more annoying than listening to someone whine about how tired they are.

guys.  i know this.  but...if i intersperse my whininess with a few low-quality pictures, will you forgive me?

this intense weariness has overtaken me for the past month or so.  at first i attributed it to a side effect of the antidepressant i was taking, but i've been off of it for a couple weeks now (or something like that), so it should be out of my system by now.  

one would think.

i've been taking naps every day, which are beautiful and dearly treasured and i am NOT complaining that i am afforded the privilege of napping when i need to.  oh, no.  i've had babies.  i prize sleep as dearly as any mother.

it would, however, be convenient if i could use my time more productively and replace my naps with things like making dinner and planning my primary lesson and cleaning and pinterest uh, family history.

today i was dragging all morning.  i let the boys play "pillows" because it required no effort from me and i could lay on the couch and rest.  (lazy much?)

this is our living room.

this is our living room with 13 pillows on the floor.

and two very giggly babies.

even after a two hour nap, i couldn't shake the fatigue.  i don't feel like i need to sleep, it's just this overwhelming feeling of bodily exhaustion.

not that i'm being dramatic or anything.  you guys know me.  i avoid hyperbolic speech like the plague. 

clichés, too.  obviously.

good news on the horizon though.  silas took his last final today so he has the next week off.  good stuff. we celebrated tonight by watching modern family and eating ben & jerrys, reeses cups, and jumbo chocolate covered raisins.

after the boys were in bed of course.

oh the fun we have.

Thursday, February 23, 2012



my lovely parents generously offered to watch the boys so i could go to a relief society conference this evening.  it was wonderful.  i haven't felt the spirit that strongly in a while.

the speaker, rosie cooper, was sweet and funny and just emanated this contagiously happy energy.  there was light in her face when she spoke.  then my friend brittany leaned over and whispered to me that rosie had lost her husband about 6 months ago to a very aggressive form of brain cancer.


her topic was "overcoming adversity".  she delivered her message with such grace and humor and with such a strong spirit that i doubt there was anyone in the room wasn't touched.  she spoke of her husband's battle with cancer and how it blessed her family, and of her childhood and the broken home she'd grown up in.

it amazed me that she seemed so happy, so vibrant, even after enduring trials that seemed insurmountable.  one of the themes that stuck with me was that "the Lord loves broken things".  broken ground allows seeds to be planted.  broken clouds release rain to the earth.  broken hearts are open and willing to receive love.   he loves us, all of us, all the time.

sitting in that room with all those women made me think about the relationships we have.  i think that the relationship among women is one of the most special and irreplaceable.  there is a strength that we can draw from our fellow sisters.  we need girl friends.  the times in my life when i haven't had these relationships have been some of the loneliest and hardest.

we need each other.  of that much i am certain.


i am also fairly certain that tesla and desmond were pretty dang cute babies.

aaahhh!  don't you just want to snuggle them?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

sleep and other fascinating things

i love this child.

my sweet desmundo.

 i was on my hands and knees picking tiny pieces of sticky pasta off the floor when he came barreling up to me and threw his arms around my neck.  i gave him a hug and he made a little whiny noise, so i asked him if he wanted to go to bed.

he quickly said, "Yesh!" so i threw his pajamas on him and less than a minute later he was relaxing in his crib.  what a little dear.

i didn't know children like him existed.  i thought all children had an inherent distaste for sleep (like my other favorite child, little tessles).  it's interesting to see the personality differences.  i worked hard to sleep train both boys from birth, but desmond has always shown more of a natural affinity for sleep, and in general has higher sleep needs than tesla.  he probably sleeps around 2 hours more per day than tesla did at this age.

that's not to say it was easy.  heavens no.  but tesla fought us a lot more.

did i ever tell you about that sweet little phase he (tesla) went through from around 6-10 or 11 months where he would get up at 3 am, EVERY SINGLE MORNING, regardless of how long his naps were or when he went to bed?  at first i was getting up with him, and then after a week or so without any change i said, "fine, child.  here are some toys.  you may get up whenever you want, but morning doesn't start until 6 and i will not be in here before that.  goodnight!"

we had a few rough nights (mornings?) but eventually he gave up and would just entertain himself until we went to get him up at normal people time.  he continued waking up like that for months.  no idea why.  we had to move his bedtime back.  i think the earliest was about 4:45 for several weeks.

it's not too easy to make plans with people when you have to be home by 4:30 to put your crazy baby to bed.


i'm really glad i had tesla first.  not that he's the worst sleeper in the world, but he forced me to do a lot of research and i learned a ton from him.  desmond still had several rough months (mostly when we were living with my inlaws--the trade-off is that he doesn't seem to be as adaptable as T) but if i'd had him first i wouldn't have been as prepared.

speaking of baby T...remember when i mentioned the texture soup activity a couple days ago?  i decided to try it with tesla.  i figured he'd enjoy it since he loves (LOVES) to help in the kitchen.  it went great.

(by the way, i was right about desmond.  he eats cotton balls.  he will not be doing this for a while.)

we used cotton balls, colored puff balls, beaded necklaces, dried pinto beans, and large pasta shells--basically, things i could clean up easily.  there was no way i was doing tiny rice or anything like that.

 you might have noticed that his lip is bleeding where he bit it.  this is separate from the time last week when he fell and bit through his lip from the inside and we almost took him to urgent care.  just pointing that out.  there's been a lot of mouth trauma around here lately.

and here's a real tesla face:


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Study in Brilliance

i had plans to regale you with a witty tale and some brilliant insights into life's deeper matters, but alas.  all of my thoughts are gone. 

something about eating two bowls of soup and three servings of delicious focaccia just isn't conducive to coherent thought.  

and something about cleaning the kitchen, washing and drying dishes, mopping, and spending an hour (or two?) answering emails/sending youtube videos to my studious husband seems to have killed all of my creativity.  it's dead.  

but i do have a picture for you.  brace yourselves.

what is this crap, you say?  

shut your mouth. 

it's A Study in Brilliance.

you see, tesla has never liked to sleep.  ever.  he just knows (KNOWS) that fun things are happening outside his door and that he is being cruelly forced to endure the torture of going to bed while we live it up (presumably having dance parties and watching Kipper).

[when i was little, i was convinced that my parents made us go to bed early so they could stay up to eat cookies and watch movies.  true story.]

so it goes like this.  we put him to bed, he cries for a bit, and then spends the next while yelling under the door.  

"mommy!  mooooMYYY!  MOOOOMMMMYYYY!"

"Go to sleep, Tesla."

"Mommy!  Tesla out?  All done!"

"No, Tesla.  Go to bed."

"Daddy?  Where are you?  Tesla out?"

plus the usual excuses.



"More blanket?"

"Bear?  Where are you?" get the picture.

the only way i've been able to get around this is if, after putting him in his room, i immediately turn off all the lights and hide in my room in silence.  the dark + quiet + lack of evidence of fun-having means he'll usually give up within a few minutes of protesting and go to sleep.

however, sometimes i actually have to Get Stuff Done.  like the aforementioned dishes/mopping/cleaning/dinner making.  and making dinner in the dark hasn't yielded good results.  so far.  but i'm working on it. 

so today, when silas and i were finishing our dinner, he had an inspired idea.

you know how people put a blanket over their birdcage to fool the bird into thinking it's bedtime?

it totally works.

Monday, February 20, 2012

it's natural

i am growing out my hair (again).  it's in an rather awkward stage since i refuse to trim my layers.

what?  you say it looks the same?  behold, october 2011.

it's longer, i promise.  inch by excruciatingly slow inch, it is growing.  i've made a pact with myself to take better care of it this time around, which means no peeling my split ends (gross i know, but it used to be my worst habit), not washing it more than a couple times a week (easy peasy.  my hair's really dry so i can easily go 3 or 4 days between washes.  ahem...not that i would), heat styling.

say what?

i don't know if you can see how bad my ends look, but let this be a cautionary tale.  do not mess with your split ends.  and also get a trim more than once a year.

i spent years fighting my hair, blowdrying and straightening it every day (which was a waste of time in georgia, because as soon as i stepped out of the house into the humidity it would frizz back up.)

hello, awkward high school heather with a middle part.  see how great it looks with my front cowlick?

i envied everyone who had straight hair and got up at 5 every morning to beat mine into submission. 

ah, the part has moved ever-so-slightly to the side.   

why do we do this?  it's a bit ridiculous if you think about it.  we don't like our hair, so we straighten/curl/perm/bleach/highlight/dye it.  we use makeup and artful shading to play up our cheekbones or make our noses look smaller.

eyelashes not long or thick enough? use mascara, false lashes, or get extensions.  don't like your skin?  foundation, blush, highlighter, bronzer.   eyes too small/big/close together/far apart? reshape them with eyeliner.  hate your eye color? colored contacts.

spanx for our lumps and bumps.

push-up bras.  because bigger is better.

high heels.  add instant height and have shapely legs!

pluck your eyebrows.  shave your legs.  

how did it come to this?

now, i have nothing against any of these things in particular.  i have blonde eyelashes, mascara is my best friend.  i get bored of my hair easily and would dye it a different color every week if i could.  and any bra that can make me not look like i've had two kids is a winner in my book.

embrace your natural baldness and strangely-placed long wispy hairs.

i guess i'm just questioning the underlying assumption that we need these things to look good.  the assumption that the way we look on our own, without any extra help, is not good enough.  

why shouldn't it be good enough?  that's how we were made.

i'm not trying to be all hippie-dippy crunchy granola "reject the man's image of perfection and embrace your natural goddess!"  but i have been undergoing a bit of a paradigm shift.

i spent years hating (truly loathing) my body, and it's taken me years to slowly come to terms with the fact that i might be okay...just the way i am.  for the first time i'm not yearning to look like someone else.  so what if i have stretch marks and a little extra tummy?  so what if my natural hair is less "sexy beach wave" and more "i drove here with the windows down"?  so what if i don't have a year-round all-over golden glow?  so what if my teeth are not quite white and i wear a retainer?  just because you're different (from the perceived "standard of beauty") doesn't mean you're wrong.

i heard a talk several years ago that gave me pause.  our bodies are gifts from God.  when we abuse them, whether verbally, physically, or emotionally, isn't that offensive to him? 

“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?” (D&C 88:33)

president faust has said that ingratitude is a form of pride.  when we are engaged in a constant cycle of self-loathing and body-hating, we're not being humble--we're being prideful.  i'd never thought of it like that before.  

when i realized that i was being self-absorbed and not appreciating the beautiful gift of a working body that i had been given, my attitude began to change.  it's been a slow road, but i think my perspective is gradually becoming a little clearer.  (i also think that not being a teenager helps.)  ;)

it's funny, something about having children really improved my self-image.  maybe it's because i'm not so focused on myself anymore.  

and maybe it's because an ambulance of firemen saw me naked and screaming when i was giving birth to tesla.

but my self-acceptance level is miles above what it was when i was in high school, even though i was thinner and stretch mark-free.  i've made peace with my body, and it feels amazing.


by the way, if you haven't seen enough pictures of me, here's a real blast from the past.  behold yet again, young heather, in all her awkward, gangly, pre-teen glory.  (i'm the one on the right.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

stuff we been doin

pinterest is brilliant, really.  i mean, yeah, it's a time-sucking vortex that will turn a quick recipe check into a 45 minute web surf, but as far as ideas go, it's great.  i joined it for the sole purpose of being able to organize my recipes (and it was SO worth it), but it's opened my eyes to a host of new things.

one of the things i appreciate most is the easy access i now have to activity ideas for the wee toddlers that inhabit this space.  i love children, i really do, but under the age of 2 i really don't know what to do with them.  my boys have both taken a long (LONG) time to get past the "everything goes in my mouth" stage.  tesla's just now able to color and play playdough and do tactile/sensory activities like texture soup.  (looking at that and picturing desmond makes me cringe.  paperclips?  coins?  dry pasta?  beads?  MARBLES?  there's no way in heck i could bring that stuff out around him.  he's just recently gotten over the need to chew on diapers.)

unfortunately, the depression thing has made it hard to do anything above the bare minimum.  most days have just been a countdown to bedtime, and i haven't been able to shake the fog enough to really do anything.  the paxil didn't help.  it sort of numbed my feelings and i stabilized at about a 4, which isn't bad, but not great motivationally either.  plus the constant exhaustion it brought on meant 2-hour naps every day, which cut into my "doing stuff" time.

 however, i've had several good days in a row (off the paxil now), so i've been taking advantage.  and when i tell you that we've done two activities, i mean TWO WHOLE ACTIVITIES.  i need you to grasp the magnitude of this.  please celebrate with me.  i know it seems really simple, but it is seriously a big deal.

 did you guys ever "clean" your desks with shaving cream in elementary school?  i remember doing it a few times and we LOVED it.  who doesn't like to squish shaving cream in their fists?  some of my teachers would have us write spelling words or math problems in the shaving cream.  somehow it upped the fun factor by about a million percent.

so we tried the shaving cream + food coloring idea i saw on pinterest.  needless to say, the boys loved it.  (and they only ate a little of it.)

tesla's been asking to do it again.  like every few minutes.

 notice how mundo has a double crease on his bum cheeks?  bahaha

body art.

we've also done some bowling with toilet paper rolls.   (i didn't realize how much tp we went through until i started collecting the rolls.  insane.  sorry, planet.)

silas is busy 99% of the time.  when he's not studying, he's running, biking, or playing intramural soccer with the podiatry team, Victorious Secret.  here is a dashing picture of him.

 and here's a picture i drew of him.  (from back when he was bearded.  obviously.)

it's a pretty accurate representation, i'd say.  compare.

besides going on and off medication without consulting my doctor, i've been doing the usual mama stuff.  plus a lot of eating and reading.  i made a goal to read 50 books this year.  (i've knocked out 12 so far.)

  i also made a goal to join a gym.

haven't gotten around to that yet.