27 May, 2015

Smoked-Gouda, Bacon Grits: Better Than A Bun for BBQ


Ingredients:

1lb bacon, chopped into bits 
1 cartons chicken stock
1.5 cups old fashioned grits (not instant!)
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
6-12 ounces smoked gouda or smoked cheddar, grated 
Fresh ground black pepper + Salt + cayenne pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven fry chopped bacon until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon on to paper towels to cool. You can drain the grease from the pan or leave it for added bacon flavor.
  2. Cook grits in chicken stock and butter according to the package (typically: bring to a boil, reduce to low and cook covered for 15-20 minutes. Stir/whisk often.)
  3. Add milk and cream and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
  4. Slowly add shredded cheese and stir until melted.
  5. Add crispy bacon bits back to the pot.
  6. Add black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with a scoop of fresh pulled pork or BBQ.  Also works great for shrimp + grits!

Notes: 

  • If you can't tolerate a lot of dairy, or if you're looking for something a little lighter, you can use water or additional chicken stock instead of the milk and cream.
  • I know they're in my picture, but don't use Trader Joe's Grits. They're gross. They have a lot of corn hulls in them and they make for a weird texture.
  • You can reheat leftover grits on the stove on low. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water. Tasty accompaniment to scrambled eggs.

12 May, 2015

Evie: Three and a Half!


Measurements:

Weight: 42lbs  96%
Length/Height: 40inches 84%
Eats: 3 full meals, 1-2 snacks, 10-15oz of water, 5oz of almond milk
Diapers: Pampers size 6 pull ups, ImseVimse or GroVia Trainers on occasion at home
Clothes:  a few 4s from last summer (mostly bottoms), and new 5s (mostly tops)
Shoes: 10-11 W
Teeth: All are accounted for that she should have by now
Sleep: 8/8:30pm bed, 7:15/7:30am wake, occasional afternoon car nap a few times a week

Firsts and Milestones:

We tried potty training after Christmas but had another set back with emotional issues, constipation, and dehydration. Pediatrician said to pack it all up and just let it go. She'd ask to use the potty when she was ready. If she hadn't by 4 we'd talk to a specialist.  Evie's constipation had been getting worse. I finally talked to my chiropractor and naturopath and they both said she's probably struggling to use the toilet because the constipation is preventing the bladder to talk to the brain. Without consulting the other, they both suggested we take her off dairy completely to see if that was the source of her constipation and constant bellyaches.  After 3 weeks off dairy, Evie was pooping everyday on her own (we took her off her nightly dose of Miralax) and woke up one morning and said, "I'm ready to use the potty and wear panties".  While it hasn't been perfect, Evie is about 75% of the way there!  We are SOOO proud of her!

Evie loves to swing and has graduated to the big kid swing. She knows how to pump her legs and love to swing very high. She's overcome her fear of slides and loves to race us down them.

We're wrapping up the school year and Evie passed with flying colors. Her teachers all commented that she's the most even tempered and well behaved child is the class. They graduated her to the 4 day Young 4s class (a little more challenging than the regular 3 year old class, plus 2 of the days are an hour longer).

She's also finishing up her 2 quarters of gymnastics. She's made a lot of progress. She over came her fear of the foam pit, can (finally) walk the balance beam by herself, almost do a summersault unassisted, overcame her fear of going upside down on the bar, and is determined to do a cartwheel.  While she's probably the most behind in the class, it hasn't put a damper on her enthusiasm. She LOVES gymnastics!

Evie is getting close to walking up and down the stairs using alternating feet. 

Evie can recognize all of her letters and numbers (just about to 20).  She can write her own name. She's great with scissors (cutting is her favorite center at school) and can cut on a line (even circles and zig zags).  She's incredible quick at doing mazes.  This girl is the poster child for doing workbooks. haha!

Evie can recite Grace Before Meals and Angel of God all by herself (she could probably do the Hail Mary, but refuses)

Likes:

duplos
brio
Marbleworks (thanks Grandma for saving Eric's!)
watering the garden
playing on the playground
riding her tricycle
making countdown paperchains
coloring, watercolors, scissors, chalkboard, markers
playing pretend in her Amazon "box car" or "box house"
playing Little People with Maggie
pretending to call cousins Luke, Zach, and Connor

TV/Movies:  Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Blue's Clues, Tangled, 19 Kids and Counting, Peppa Pig, Peg+Cat
food/snacks:  peeze-pouch (squeeze pouches), trail mix, Moe's, broccoli,
books: Curious George series, Corduroy, Pete the Cat series, Bearenstein Bears series and many favorites from Eric and I's childhood library

Dislikes:

When Maggie cries
telling her she can't have more snacks/tv/juice/etc
waiting a loooooong time
trying to change her own clothes
leaving the playground
anything mint flavor (just like her Nana!)

Fun Things:

Evie has been hit or miss in her interest in prayers and church things, but for the most part she loves going to church. She prayed the outdoor stations of the cross during lent and now she asks for "the story of Jesus" every time we go. She also loves to light a candle to pray for Robbie and the seminarians after Mass.  We have trouble with bedtimes prayers, but she leads the blessing before meals without hesitation.

She thrives on routine and has certain things she does at Nanas, at Grandmas, etc. She hates deviation from the routine.

Evie very much has my personality. She's very chatty in a small group, and will participate in a large group happily but is more reserved.  She loves to go out and about but when she's done, she's done and beggggggs to go home.  After school she refuses to talk to me until she's had quiet time or until it's her idea to talk.  It's so great that I "get her" but we also butt-heads.

She would like me to tell you that her favorite thing to do is make new playdoh (which we have only ever done once because I don't keep white flour in the house).

Our sweet girl is always up for an adventure. She loves to go to the Farmer's Market, grocery store, downtown to a park, a basketball game at Georgia Tech, or whatever we're up to that day. She always wants to come along. We love that she's so good and has a genuine interest in sight seeing.

Evie has a keen eye for architecture. Whenever we're downtown she's always talking about the buildings, how they're made, their shapes, how they look, etc. She also notices houses and how they're different and she points out what style houses she likes.  Evie has a knack for building with Duplos as well. She built Grandma & G.Daddy's condominium tower complete with pool and parking deck.  Pretty impressive!

Evie is an excellent big sister. She's cooperative, loves to play with Maggie without smothering her, and is always concerned for her well being. She wants nothing more than Maggie to get up from her nap to keep playing with her. She also hates to be apart from Sissy, say if we take Evie out for something special.

I love that Evie is generally an easy kid - she has her sassy moments, but for the most part is a good listener, good helper, and great snuggler!

We can't wait to see what summer and the next school year brings!

09 May, 2015

A First Communion Session: Meet Gabby + What I Learned

Gabby's mom is a friend from church. She knew I dabbled in photography as a hobby. Susie reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in taking some photos of her daughter.  I was so excited she thought of me and was ready to tackle the challenge.  Susie and I spent a week sending Pins and talking though ideas.  I had never done a session like this and I wanted to meet her needs.  We had a lot of fun working together.  Gabby was an easy and fun model to work with and has a natural eye her self, especially for a seven year old. She styled a few of the shots herself!

Technically Speaking:

What I Learned:

  • I went in with a mental shot list, but some of my favorites ended up being the candids - like Gabby looking over her shoulder, and her crossing her self. Be ready for the in between!
  • It can take some kids a while to warm up, so be prepared to throw out the whole first pose. Also, I learned working with Enrique to have the subject/model practice silly faces whenever they're getting a little stiff.  Find ways to capture their personality!

Me:

  • I am definitely getting more picky about my work and getting it right in camera. I've also grown a lot in confidence
  • I'm not afraid to stop for a quick break and Google the technical aspects of setting up a shot, or to refresh myself on a neat pose I've found online.
  • I've changed my approach to culling so I can get through editing the pictures faster.
  • I've started asking for constructive criticism from peers. AH!