Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sierra's 7th birthday

Sierra is our golden retriever.  7 years ago, my husband said he wanted a dog.   Our children were very young at the time, so I knew I wanted to find a dog that was really good with kids. So I searched for breeders in my area.  Goldens and labs are known to have bad hips, elbows, and eyes.  I wanted a breeder who took great care to breed healthy dogs and who didn't interbreed them.  Our breeder bred Goldens for show, so Sierra has more of a blonde coloring and is a broader build than the other Goldens who are red in color and slimmer in shape.  In fact, Sierra's daddy is a champion show dog named Bojangles.  The breeder only sold the dogs that she didn't think would be show dogs, but we think Sierra could have been a great contender.  The breeder was serious about her dogs, as she wouldn't sell them to just anybody.  Instead of me interviewing her, it was more like her interviewing our family.  Nor, would she let us pick out our puppy or see the pups until she was ready for us to pick her up.  Based on my family's description, she picked out the puppy she felt would suit us best.  She certainly knew what she was doing because she gave us a smart, beautiful, healthy dog and we couldn't have picked one out that was any better.


Sierra with her birthday toy.
Sierra at 9 weeks old.

Yesterday, Sierra turned 7 years old.  We picked her up when she was 9 weeks old.  Hard to believe that she is 50 years old in dog years and is considered a senior.  The vet declared her healthy, but at her age now, her sight may start to blur when she sees things at a distance.  Although she is aging, she still acts like a baby and loves getting attention.  Happy Birthday Sierra!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chocolate Eclair

  Even though we are on a journey to a healthier lifestyle, we don't want to deprive ourselves of some yummy desserts.  If I know I can healthify a dessert, I will do it, but sometimes you just gotta use the refined goods.  Our goal is to cut out as much sugar as possible during the week and indulge in a sweet treat on the weekend.  This past weekend, my husband requested chocolate eclairs.  Yikes!  Challenging choice, but found this Chocolate Eclair recipe to try.

   The pastry cream should be done the night before. I got some clumps, so I strained the cream into the bowl, then placed a plastic wrap directly on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.


The choux pastry logs came out pretty well.  I don't have a pastry bag to pipe these out, so I used a ziploc bag with a tip of a corner cut off.


I was actually really impressed with the choux pastry logs when they came out of the oven.  Aren't they cute?


But then they went and got ugly!!


Not sure what happened.  I tried to be really careful and follow the recipe exactly.  I did sift the powdered sugar, but not the cocoa powder, yet I have tiny little clumps.  Maybe that was the problem, but the chocolate coating still looks thin.

The picture on the recipe looks very different from mine.  (Original  Chocolate Eclairs)  The next problem I had was not having a pastry bag with a tip to easily poke holes in them to fill.  I had to dig a hole in one end and fill it using a ziploc bag with the tip cut off a corner.  Not an easy task, at all!  Now the recipe said to poke a hole in the bottom to fill, which brings me to the last problem I had.  If I'd have tried to fill from underneath, all the pastry cream would have leaked out.  Once again, if you look at the original recipe photo, the cream looks nice and thick.  Well, mine did not replicate, as it was thin and runny.


Hard to tell, but you can see the pastry cream oozing out in the back there.  I truly did follow the recipe exactly, so I may try it again to see if I get the same results.  Or compare it to another recipe.  Despite all my errors and the ugliness, these were absolutely DELICIOUS!!!   We had to eat them quick before the filling oozed out all over us.

If you try this recipe, let me know if yours came out better than mine.  I'd like to know if it's my human error
or the recipe itself.

-Cheri

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why We Homeschool

We didn't plan on homeschooling from the very beginning.  The first time I actually considered it, was back in 1999 when my daughter was just a baby.  During this time, a lot of school shootings were happening.  I told my husband I wanted to homeschool and he said, "What!  You can't do that!"

That's how a lot of people thought back then, and some still do today.  My daughter went to public school up until 2nd grade and my son went to kindergarten.  One of my sisters-in-law also has two children near the same age and she was doing research on homeschooling, which brought it back to our attention.  We had moved around so much that our daughter had been to many different schools her first 3 years.  Once again, we were thinking about moving to a different town to buy a house.  We didn't want our children to switch schools again while the house was being built, so we started to consider homeschooling for a year until we were settled, then put them back in school.  I was so torn because my son would finally be in school all day and I would actually have time to myself to get things done or just relax. :) Yes, I was being selfish.  I was looking forward to some alone time.  But God had other plans and said, "You are homeschooling," so I went to the school district the day before school started to turn in my Intent to Homeschool form. 

This decision was so sudden that I wasn't anywhere near prepared to start educating my children.  I didn't have any curriculum or ideas on how I was going to even start.  Our first year was a bit hectic and overwhelming.  I bought workbooks on different subjects and used the internet to print up worksheets.  There was a lot of learning on my part to find out what worked for us.  I didn't know any other homeschoolers around me at the time, so I felt like I was on my own.  It was actually very rewarding to see them understand concepts and they both agreed they wanted to be home-schooled until college.  It was funny to hear them say that at such a young age.

We have now been homeschooling for the past 5 years.  We are part of a homeschool group in our community, which has saved us from being hermits.  I am enjoying these years spent with my children and will continue to homeschool for as long as I can.  I told my husband I will have some serious empty nest syndrome once the kids are grown and on their own.  Either that or I will celebrate and finally have time for myself. :)

Oh!  We never did end up buying that house and moving to a different town.  That's a whole other story I'll share later.  I'll also share more about our homeschooling endeavors, so stay tuned!


Do you homeschool?  If so, share why.


-Cheri

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spanish Rice

I serve this simple spanish rice with Chicken en mole.  This recipe makes a lot of rice for leftovers which I use for burritos, tostadas or another protein.  I usually use the tomato bouillon, but salsa tastes just as good for a substitute. You can find tomato bouillon in the mexican food aisle. This amount of rice is just enough to serve the 4 of us.  Double the recipe if you need more.

Spanish Rice (by Cheri)

1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic-smashed
I use the Dona Maria for Chicken en Mole
and Knorr Tomato Bouillon for Spanish Rice
1 cups long grain rice
1 can cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cube tomato bouillon or 1/2 cup salsa





1. Heat olive oil in a deep sided skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for a few seconds then add rice and stir to coat with oil.  Saute for just a minute, then add chicken broth and crush the tomato bouillon cube with your fingers into the rice and stir until dissolved.


2. Bring to boil then cover and reduce heat to low heat for 20 min.   Give rice a stir to see if liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender.  If not, just cook a little longer with lid on.

I forgot to take a picture of the finished rice, so I used the Chicken en Mole picture above.

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Chicken en Mole



Chicken en Mole with Spanish Rice and Black Beans

One of my family's favorite meals is Chicken en Mole (pronounced molay).  It's a mexican dish incorporating chiles and chocolate, to which I add a big spoonful of peanut butter to cut the spice a little and add some sweetness.  It's a very quick and easy week night dish to put together.  Queso Fresco would also be a great addition for crumbling on top of the chicken and black beans.



Chicken en Mole (by Cheri)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts-butterflied and thinly sliced
salt, pepper, and garlic powder
I use Dona Maria Mole for the chicken and
Knorr Tomato bouillon for the spanish rice
1 T. Olive oil
1 jar mole paste
2 T. peanut butter
2-3 c. water




Saturday, February 25, 2012

Welcome!

Welcome to our new blog!!


   I have been inspired to start a blog to help me be more accountable to myself. I have plans and goals to be more organized, spend more time on my hobbies and learn new ones. Knowing that I should regularly write posts will encourage me to get things done. I also thought it might force us to make our lives a little more exciting, worth talking about, and sharing what we are doing with friends and family. My topics will be random, but most might be food related. I love to cook and try new recipes.  I'm interested in feeding my family healthier, nutritious foods, but occasionally we indulge in the not so healthy stuff.  I like to scrapbook and am currently learning how to quilt and sew.   On top of that, I homeschool our children which is my main priority and puts most everything else on the back burner.  We have put all things in God's hands and we will see where he leads us on our journey.

   We live in the Pacific Northwest.  We have been here for almost 12 years and counting.  Washington is one of the most beautiful states in the country, despite all the rain.  There are so many things to do and see, making it a great place to live and visit. 

We're excited to share with you.  Hopefully, we can keep you intrigued and entertained with our random thoughts and activities. 

-Cheri


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