Wednesday, August 16, 2017

P52 - Week 33 - Be Still My Heart

I'm having one of those "mommy moments." My Wonder Boy (Wonder Guy?) is on the door step of his sophomore year of high school, tenth grade; he's also a few weeks away from turning 16 years old (& all that that entails) and my heart is all mush.

I'm excited for him and I simply LOVE watching him grow and change and ... I don't know ... EVOLVE ever more into such a fine young man. It's not that I miss the days when a kiss from mom and a chocolate chip cookie made for the BEST.DAY.EVER for him. It's not that he's filled with teenage angst. But I still find myself clutching to every possible minute with him right now.

I don't want to return to the past (though I certainly like to reflect on it on a regular basis) but I'll admit that I'm in no rush to meet the future either. I truly want to embrace this particular moment that is so ripe with possibility.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

P52 - Week 32 - Barbara Manatee

Barbra Manatee (Manatee, Manatee)
You are the one for me (one for me, one for me)
Sent from up above (up above, up above)
You are the one I love (I love, I love, I love)"

This week's share is two-fold. First ... look at that sweet face!

Wonder Mutt's breeder has a new litter that has just opened their eyes and they are cute and cuddly and everything wonderful that is a new pup!

As I was going through the pictures, I kept thinking that the pups reminded me of .... I couldn't put my finger on it, but I kept thinking there was SOMETHING about these sweet little beasts that struck a chord with me.

These little guys are only a few weeks old, eyes only open about 3 days. And while they have started to move around in their little nest, on top of blankets, carpet, and one another they really don't have their "sea legs" yet. So when we brought them out on the hard wood floors, the were having a hard time getting good enough purchase to stand for more than a couple of seconds. So instead, they kind of "swam" around the living room. And that got me to thinking that their body shape, heavy in the front and tapering to the hind legs, really made them look like manatees!

And I can't even start to think about manatees without recalling the days when the Veggie Tales silly song "Barbara Manatee" was a favorite in our home! In fact, I expect to carry the melody with me for at least the rest of the day now that the thought is firmly planted in my mind. I hope you will too! And if you have never had the pleasure of hearing this little ditty ... well ... check it out here!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

P52 - Week 31 - All who wander are not lost

My guy just LOVES to hike! Put a pack on his back and set him off where you can no longer hear the sounds of city life and he can motor up and down the trails from dawn to dusk. It's his happy place. And thankfully, it's mine as well!

This particular snap was taken on our last full day of hiking in Colorado this summer, on the Palmer Lake Reservoirs trail. We had tried to make our way to the upper reservoir the day before, but got rained out. We were so pleased when the clouds dispersed and gave us one more day on the trail to give this hike a second go around!

The trail was not technical by any means, but it climbs almost 900 ft in elevation in only about 2 miles of trail and that makes for one heck of a workout!

We say it every year, but it bears repeating ... you just can't go wrong in Colorado! No matter what direction you turn, Nature's beauty surrounds you. While we enjoy the challenge of some trails over some others, it still never fails to take my breath away! And I really hope that we can make it four-in-a-row next summer!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

P52 - Week 30 - The mountains are calling ...

The mountains are calling .... and I must answer!

Each summer as July turns into August and we here in Texas turn up the A/C another degree or two (or ten!), the call of the mountains becomes SO strong. And I am blessed beyond measure to be able to answer that call again this year.

We have been lucky enough to be able to enjoy a Colorado vacation for the 3rd year running now. This summer, we ventured back to the Colorado Springs area. But unlike our visit here in 2015, we wanted to avoid the more touristy areas this summer. So we kicked off our great summer escape of 2017 with a hike through Cheyenne Mountain State Park. We put in about 6 miles covering the Coyote Run, Boulder Run, Blacker Loop, Medicine Wheel, and Zook Lop trails.

This photo was take on the back section of the Blacker Loop trail. And it was pretty much the perfect way to begin our time on the trails for this vacation.

When we left Texas, we were suffering through almost a solid week of triple digit temperatures and the kind of humidity that feels like a slap in the face when you venture out of your air conditioned home or office. But on this day, Colorado was "enduring" a warm spell where the mercury climbed all the way to 83F! Needless to say, for us it was literally a walk in the park!

The park was beautiful! The trails were well marked and there was plenty of parking at the visitors center. We met several other groups and families along the trail. And the weather was just PERFECT! I am very glad that the park came so highly recommended or I am not sure we would have made our way here. It's a bit off the beaten path, near Fort Carson on the southwest side of Colorado Springs. But if you find yourself in the area, you would do yourself a disservice if you did not check it out!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

P52 - Week 29 - Homecoming

Wonder Boy has been off at camp for the past couple of weeks, but today we welcomed him back home!

I know it's just a phone snap, but I was so glad to just have us all back together today that I didn't want the hassle of dragging out the big camera. Plus, this one was taken on the Boy's new phone (long story). Not too bad for low light, back light, and no flash imho.

I am very glad that the Boy enjoys his summer get-aways to camp each year. I know he is soaking up the taste of freedom that comes with camp.

But with that said, I sleep better when all 3 of us are safely tucked into our own beds.

I am trying to drink in every moment we have left before our Boy heads off to college. And this is one of those moments!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

P52 - Week 28 - Special Request

It's Wonder Dad's birthday today, so he got to pick the menu for dinner tonight. I wasn't at all surprised that he wanted this dish - this one is at or near the top of both of our "favorite comfort food" lists! And sharing this here allows me to save the recipe for easy access as well!

I give you the ULTIMATE comfort food - Chicken Mole Verde! Sometimes we call it "green gravy chicken." This is one of those recipes that takes a bit to pull everything together, but it really is worth the effort. And I'll share a few shortcuts as well. But first ... the full deal ...

Part 1: Preparing the Chicken
1 - whole roasting chicken (about 3-4 lbs), skinned and then cut up as desired into 6-8 pieces as will fit in boiling pan
1 - bunch chopped cilantro
1 - Tbs kosher salt
1 - tsp whole black peppercorns
2 - cloves garlic
1 - large yellow onion, chopped
1 - bay leaf
1. Place the chicken, cilantro, salt, peppercorns, garlic, onion and bay leaf into a pan with 12 cups of water and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered until chicken is tender - about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Remove chicken from the pan and strain liquid through a fine strainer. Reserve 4 cups of the broth for the mole. I freeze the rest for later use.
4. Set chicken aside and begin preparing the mole.

Part 2: Preparing the Mole Verde
8 - 10 oz. tomatillos, peeled and chopped
4 - jalapeños, chopped (leave seeds)
1 - bunch cilantro
1 - tsp kosher salt
2 - cloves garlic, chopped
2 - 8-inch flour tortillas, toasted
3 - Tbs olive oil or grapeseed oil
1. Heat tomatillos and jalapeños in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until darkened and thick, about 10 minutes.
2. Transfer to a blender with cilantro, salt, garlic, tortillas, and 1 cup of the chicken broth; puree.
3. Heat the oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add tomatillo puree to the oil - be very careful as it will sputter quite a bit. Cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, until the puree thickens into a paste.
4. Whisk in remaining chicken broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often for about 30 minutes until it reaches a gravy-like consistency. 5. Shred the chicken and add to the mole. Cook about 5 - 10 minutes until the chicken is completely heated.

I know that's a lot of work, but TRUST ME, it is SO worth it!

Now ... I mentioned some short cuts. Often, if I have some of the left-over chicken broth in the freezer, I will skip the first part where you prepare the chicken and will use whatever chicken I have on hand. I make this chicken a lot, so it is not uncommon for me to have chicken in the fridge or freezer that can be used. You could pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store if you are really short on time. I prefer that to canned or just straight-up, plain boiled chicken. But by not having to worry about the chicken, you cut quite a bit of prep time off of this recipe.

We like to serve this as shown in the photo above, with plain old white rice. It is a stick-to-your ribs kind of meal and there is never a bad time to serve it. It also pairs very well with Spanish rice and tortillas. And if you are looking for a slightly-more-elegant looking meal, don't shred your chicken. Leave the pieces whole and ladle the sauce on top of them. I like shredding because it really helps to get the chicken to soak up the flavor, but it is not a requirement.

Anyway ... I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!

Friday, July 7, 2017

P52 - Week 27 - Mas Musica

I've made no secret about the fact that my dear Wonder Boy loves to make music (nor that I love to HEAR HIM make music)! Since school got out for the summer, he's been hinting around that he'd like to add another instrument to his répertoire.

The boy's dad was generous enough to let him test the waters with his electric guitar and Wonder Boy hit the ground running. But the modern, metallic quality of sound from an electric instrument was not the tone that spoke to the Boy's heart. So we traded in a bass guitar that was gathering dust in a closet and indulged the boy with a classical acoustic guitar for his learning pleasure.

He jumped in with both feet and after only a few quick YouTube lessons, he was strumming out some really nice tunes! We're hoping when his summer travel is done, to find him a local tutor to at least cover the basics with him. But I have to tell you, as much as the Boy loves piano, as much as he enjoys his viola, he seems to have a real knack for the guitar!

And my ears are loving every minute of it!