Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Color Your Heart Out

Whew! Things have been busy around here, mostly due to this guy.

I mean, he has to eat at least four times a day, and this was just breakfast.
In between the crazy schedules and running around and general life happening, I've snuck in a few little crafts. I've wanted to make these forever, so when my sweet mother-in-law presented William with my husband's box of crayons and little boy treasures from when we was a child, I had the perfect excuse.
 These crayons are too skinny for William to grasp hard enough to color, so I peeled them, snapped them into smaller pieces, and sorted them by color into a silicone heart tray that I bought from the Target dollar bins. (Does anyone else notice that the prices in the dollar bin are sneaking up? I think this tray was actually $2.50. Boo, Target.)

 I love these new crayons! They're big enough for little hands to grasp and scribble their hearts out. The color is pretty, too, once it's on paper. I planned on making a bunch and giving them away as Valentine's with the play-dough I made a few weeks ago, but that would require way too much crayon peeling. These are a Valentine's treat for William from his mama.
Some of the crayons separated into layers, though I don't know why.

If you happen to not mind peeling a ton of crayons, or you have older kids who want to help, I think these would be adorable tied up in a cellophane bag with a little journal and some Hershey's kisses. Is it weird that I'm looking forward to helping William make Valentines once he's in school?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Utterly Random Winter Memories

 Why did I take pictures of socks? Because it's a tradition I started for my sisters. I buy each of us a pair of cute knee high socks for Christmas. We all have different last names and live in different parts of the city, but at least we have the same kind of socks. Sister power!
 On a whim I decided to hand make scented candles as gifts and for myself. As it turns out, making candles is more expensive than just continuing to buy Mrs. Meyer's candles, and requires scrubbing wax from my kitchen tools. Still, they were kind of lovely. I put them in Mason canning jars and scented them with a fragrance called "River Fern." Love that name.
 The Jesse Tree was hands down our favorite thing to do with William this advent season. It made the stories seem more tangible for him. Yes, I know he's only 18 months old, but he will sit and read for 45 minutes at a time, and he can understand much of what he's told.
 William was overwhelmed with the number of gifts he received on Christmas morning, and would have been happy with a 36 count of toilet paper from Sam's Club. I need to remember that for the next child we have.
 My mom made 18 different types of homemade Christmas cookies and desserts. She always sets up a lavish dessert table and that's a tradition I will certainly carry on one day.

Random apples. Apples were everywhere this Christmas, since William is on an applesauce kick lately.

 Look at the cute sweaty boy, passed out in his granddad's arms.
 Sunsets and sunrises at the river house. Beautiful each time.

 William is a truly messy eater and he is OBSESSED with that black bean soup I told you about the other day.

 Play-dough is everywhere these days. William isn't a huge fan, but I love the stuff so I keep trying to get him interested in it.
 I loved our Jesse tree so much that I was sad when it came time to pack the ornaments away. I've decided to leave the white branches out all year and decorate them for the season.
 I added a 4 pack of these tiny yellow birds from Hobby Lobby for the end of winter and start of spring.

Apparently, I'm 12 years old. I made homemade pink play-dough and it smells divine and is sooo much better than the store bought stuff because it's less crumbly and much squishier. William was only marginally impressed. I'm going to package it up for Valentine's Day and it give it away to William's little friends. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Black Bean Soup & Jalapeno Cornbread

Are you ready to eat healthier now that the holidays are over? I know we are. I've made this soup three times in the last two weeks, mostly because the littlest member of our family devours it like nothing else.

My friend Sunee copied this black bean recipe from America's Test Kitchen cook book for me, but I found this recipe from allrecipes.com that's very similar, if you subtract the carrots and corn. The original recipe doesn't call for it, but I added a finely diced carrot to the onions and jalapeno. You can't really taste the flavor of the cooked carrot, but it makes the soup even more nutritious. 

And I can't say enough about this corn meal. It's from close to here, and I've been using it since I started cooking about five years ago. The recipe is on the back of the package of corn meal.
 I used to hate cornbread. I'm not a fan of the crumbly texture, but this brand is delicious. I do something that would make corn bread aficionados angry.
 I add 1/4 cup of full-fat Greek yogurt to the recipe to help it stay moist and fluffy instead of crumbly.
 And I add a finely diced jalapeno. If you really want the jalapeno to be noticeable, you should use 2 whole jalapenos. I always cut out the white ribs, and sometimes I even rinse the jalapeno's insides under cold water, if I know lots of kiddos are going to be eating with us.

This is one of the cheapest and most delicious meals I know how to make. Do you have any cheap and wholesome meals you rely on?