5.26.2010

Proof of Insanity

Now that Henry is in a state of non-stop motion our life has gotten much more crazy. And by crazy, I mean busy chasing Henry around the house making sure he doesn't get into trouble. He can be a in a room full of toys and find the one thing that he can't play with. He will then try to put that object in his mouth. He is also standing up. Toss in the fact that we have two dogs and it is pure insanity. Don't get me wrong, it is a very fun age. Fun and crazy and cute! He keeps us constantly laughing (and running). He finds the oddest things entertaining. Like, when Jason hugs me, Henry cracks up. I don't why but he thinks it is hilarious. He also thinks it is funny to try to pull my fabric off the table when I am sewing. Not to mention the shear joy he feels when he rips my glasses off my face and throws them across the room. Which has happened more times than I would like to admit. In addition to playing with us he also enjoys playing with the dogs. Who says dogs and babies can't coexist? Our dogs and Henry seem to get along great. That might have something to do with the constant and endless supply of Cheerios that Henry provides to them. I think he enjoyed feeding them to the dogs more than he likes eating them. Basically, it is crazy here in the Barks house. Here is a video that shows Henry loving on Ann, standing up, staying daddy and turning on the xbox. Take what you see in this video and multiple by all the hours Henry is awake and this is how I spend my days.



PS. Every time Jason talks about wanting to give Ann away (because, let me be honest, she can be a total pain sometimes), I am gong to show him this video.

5.25.2010

Grilled Pizzas, Victory is Mine!

Last week, I mentioned that I was looking for the perfect pizza crust recipe. Then, like magic, a dough recipe arrived in my inbox. It was from my sister Sherry. And, it is amazing. It was thin, crispy and delicious. It was so good that I must have proclaimed "Oh my god, this is perfect" 75 times during dinner. And now, dear internet, I bestow upon you pizza perfection.

Pizza dough for thin crust grilled pizza

2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 pack yeast
3/4 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Combine all the ingredients together (kneading slightly to make sure every thing is combined). Let rise for 40 minute in a warm, breeze free place. I like to put my dough in my oven (make sure oven isn't on : ) ). Punch down dough and shape into 4 balls and let rest for 10 minutes.* Shape dough into a thin oval (I find oval crust is easier to work with on the grill). Brush both sides of crust with olive oil. Place on a hot grill. Let the dough cook for 2 to 4 minutes and then flip. Now add sauce, toppings and cheese. Let cook 3 to five minutes and viola! The best pizza you've ever eaten! Sherry you are amazing!

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This is right off the grill. The pizza on the right has some pesto mixed in with the sauce, incase you were wondering why it was green.

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This is right before it goes in my mouth. Oh, so tasty.

While I am in the recipe sharing mood, I thought I would tell you how I make my marinara sauce. It is super simple. So simple that Jason can make it. This is saying a lot, Jason isn't a cook. The day we decided to grill, happened to be a day that I worked and daddy was home with Henry. I sent him a email when I got to work telling how to make the sauce. I don't measure anything and I don't write down things. This email served two purposes, it allowed Jason to be able to make it and it gave me a record of it incase I forget how to make it. Which, now that I have a kid, is very likely.


From: Jaime Lynn Barks
Date: May 20, 2010
To: Jason Barks
Subject: Sauce

Put some olive oil in the big pot.

Dice a large onion and sauté for a few minutes.

Toss in 4 chopped cloves of garlic. Saute for a minute.

Open and pour into pot three (big) cans of whole tomatoes. As you are pouring them into the pot use the kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes into to bite size chunks. It is okay if some are still big, it is art not a science. Go outside, snip a few springs of oregano and a couple leaves of basil. Chop leaves and toss them in. Add a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes, 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, a teaspoon of salt and a couple turns of cracked pepper.

Turn it to low, cover and let it simmer all day.

You may note, this makes a lot of sauce. We used 3 14 oz. cans. I like to make a lot when I make sauce. It will store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks (or you can freeze it). It is great to have on hand for pizzas, lasagna and such. If you don't have fresh herbs growing in your back yard (you should, really you should) you can used dried herbs but they just aren't as good. This recipes is a good starting off place. You can use it to create your own sauce. You might like with a little more garlic and little less oregano. That is the fun of making it yourself, you can personalize it. I almost always use canned tomatoes. I heard Mario Batali once say that it is a sin to use fresh tomatoes. He said they are so good they should be eaten raw or with minimum cooking. He said for making sauce, canned works just as well. Since he is a culinary god, I choose to believe him.

Lastly, I wanted to leave you with a photo of Henry enjoying some pizza while he dined alfresco. See, the pizza makes him very happy as well.


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*Don't wanna use the dough to make grilled pizzas? Here is how you use it in the oven. Shape into 2 balls to make 2 10 inch pizzas or 1 ball for one large pizza. Let it rest for 10 miniutes (or until it doubles in size if you want a thick crust). Shape dough into a circle and place on a pan or baking stone. Brush with olive oil and put on sauce and toppings. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes at 425 degrees.

5.23.2010

Play Clothes

Did you have "play clothes" as I kid? I had a whole drawer full of play clothes. In those clothes I could do anything. I could paint, climb trees and make mud pies. I would rush home from school and immediately change into them. The clothes were a mis-mash of old things and little outfits my mom made for me. I adored them. I felt free in them. I think every child should have clothes to explore in. My sister Janine made Henry two little rompers. They are going to be perfect play clothes for this summer. They are light and comfortable. Not to mention stinking adorable. The pattern (Simplicity 4243) is great because it is loose enough to give Henry plenty of room to wiggle. He is defiantly into wiggling. Wiggling and climbing and grabbing and standing.

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I wish I could wear a rompers. Don't they look so comfy??

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See that face? He is about to bolt. He is thinking "I wonder if I could get that dog toy in my mouth before mom could stop me."

While we are talking about things Aunt Janine made, she also made this cute little organizer (Simplicity 2916) for my car.

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Isn't that clever? Henry can't use it yet because his car seat is still rear facing but soon, when he turns around, he will be able to stash all sorts of things in all those little pockets. Since my car is so small, the organizer will basically be in his lap. See, having a tiny car has it's upsides (I think I am trying to convince myself).

Can you tell that my sister and I have both been bitten by the sewing bug at the same time? Oh the things we can make!

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5.22.2010

Shopping Bag

Dear Butterick,

Your See and Sew pattern B5413 is stupid. The "Yes! It's Easy" tag line on the front is a bald face lie. I, a novice seamstress, found nothing about this bag that made me want to proclaim "Yes! It's Easy." Instead, your pattern made me use lots of profanity. It also caused me to have a handful of mild temper tantrums in which I threw things across the room. Sewing bias tape on an inverted corner is NOT easy. In fact, I never really figured it out. I just kind of made it work. Your diagram in your instructions was a joke. Then there was the french seam. Once again, your pattern was no help. Thank God for YouTube. Then, there was the silly way you had me do the handles. Why Butterick, why? Do you like to impose small amounts of torture on poor people who are trying to learn to sew? Let's pretend for a moment that I wasn't a sewing moron and did find this pattern simple, that wouldn't change the fact that it is an awful design. Really, who thought this was a good bag? I am convinced there must be a better pattern out there. My new purpose in life is to find it.

Sincerely,

A disgruntle seamstress in training

PS. Okay, so you want to see the bag? Here it is:

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Yes, I do think it turned out kind of cute. Not practical at all, terrible design However, the adorableness comes from the awesome fabric. Where did I get it you ask? At Goodwill! It is made from a vintage pillowcase I scored for a buck! I also paid a buck for the pattern (it was on sale) so I guess I can't complain to much. But still, this pattern sucked.

Crap it! I should have checked the internet first!?!?! Here in an awesome list of FREE tutorials on how to make reusable shopping bags (that look like they would be actually usable). I need to find a new purpose in life, this one was resolved to quick. Maybe I will learn to make bagels?

5.20.2010

Out with the Crap

As I mentioned, we have been taking a long hard look at our spending habits. This, in turn, has caused us to start looking at our consumption. We, like most of the country, are consumers. And we, like a lot of other people, have decided that we have had enough. We are ready to make a change. We want to live simpler, save money and stop being wasteful. We are taking a three-fold approach at clearing the junk in our lives:

1. We have a lot of crap.

 Really, I have no idea where it comes from but our tiny house is taken over by clutter. And, we have had enough. What is the point of having tons of things that you never use? Thats right, there is no point. Jason and I together have 25 pairs of shoes, of which we we only wear about 5 pairs. Well, enough is enough. We have committed to under take a massive de-cluttering and organization. We are going to go room by room and getting rid of (donating or recycling) all the things that we don't use or don't need. 

2. We keep collecting crap.

 I think is a problem across the board in our country. We buy, buy, buy. Jason and I aren't frivolous people but we do often make small purchases that we don't really need. I am the worst about buying and picking up little things because it was cheap. Also, we are both awful about convincing ourselves that we "need" stuff. Why? I guess because that is the culture we live in. We are born and raised as consumers. And, we have had enough. We aren't quite ready to go as far as The Non-Consumer Advocate and stop buying anything new but, for a little while we are going to swing that direction. I like balance and I think that sometime you need to be a little extreme to obtain the balance you want. So, no more crap collecting. I will say "NO" to things we don't genuinely need. Even if they are on sale and are adorable (ie. Anything from Target's Liberty of London Line).

3. We waste a lot of crap.

Sometimes I feel like everything in our society is disposable, and it bothers me. Not to get all super "green" on everyone, but I really do think that we are wasteful nation. Everything was meant to toss. So, we have decided . . okay . . . I have decided to try to cut down on our waste. Jason liked the thought of this but, he knows this means the cloth diapers are coming back and he is not a fan (more on that later). There are lots of little things we can do to save the earth, and a little cash. I am talking about finding reusable alternatives to ziplock bags (and washing and reusing the ones we have), reducing our paper towels, not using as many disposable baby wipes and so on. When I told Jason about my desire to cut down on our waste by cutting out the use of disposable products from our lives his only request was that I didn't take away the toilet paper. Jason, your butt can rest in peace. I will not take away the toilet paper. Although, there are people who don't use toilet paper , there are also people who use reusable feminine products . . . .those are two areas in which I am okay with a waste. More like, bring on the waste because there is no way that I am going there.

 I realize some of you are sitting at your computer right now thinking "Oh my God, I've always thought that Jaime was a little weird but now I think she just might be a little crazy." I almost didn't post about this, because I didn't want people to think we were totally nut jobs. However, public accountability is a great motivator.  I am sure will be out shopping again soon, but for the next few months we are going to put a halt on unnecessary expenditures, in addition to massive de-cluttering and cutting back on waste.  Also, I like a challenge. I think it will be fun to see how it goes. I will be sharing the ups and downs with you, of course. And now, you can laugh at me as I spend untold hours washing diapers and cloth napkins. We aren't going to make any drastic changes, just subtle lifestyle changes. Here is to getting the crap out!!

Because every post should have a photo:

Henry is getting a head start on laughing at mommy.

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5.18.2010

Pants and Naps Optional

Over the weekend Henry started pulling himself up. I was almost sad that he learned. Not because I am one of those parents who hates to see her baby grow up. Nope, it is because I am totally unpaired for this next phrase of development. Henry is non-stop energy right now. The funny thing about being able to pull up is that he doesn't do while we are in the room. He waits until we leave. Case in point, Monday's afternoon nap. He has realized that he doesn't have to nap if he doesn't want to. I took him in his room, laid him down and left. I had just barley closed the door when I hear a him cracking up. I open the door to find this:



I wish that I could say that this only happened once. It happened four times. The third time he had managed to take his pants off. That is right, he was standing up laughing without pants. I should have taken a photo, but I was a little annoyed. I mean you could tell the kid was exhausted but he just wasn't having it. The point of this post isn't about Henry's lack of sleep. It is about how unprepared Jason and I are for this phases of parenting. Suddenly we are keenly aware of the fact that we have a kid. Not an infant who just sleeps all the time. A moving, active kid. I think we are just now beginning to feel the impact that having a child is going to have on our lives. We are going to be very, very busy for the next few years.

Did he ever take his nap? Yes, he did. But it took daddy rocking him to sleep. Which is pretty much the sweetest thing I have ever seen.

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5.09.2010

My First Mother's Day

So, I still have a hard time embracing the idea that I am a mother. Me, a mom. Today, when I got a text message from my niece Lindsey wishing me a happy Mother's Day and my first thought was "why would she send this to me." Then it hit me "Oh yeah, I totally have a kid." While I am still wrapping my head around the idea, I am enjoying the benefits. This morning, I got to sleep in and then my guys gave me a Mother's Day card they made for me. See, look how sweet:

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And now, since it is Mother's Day, I will shamefully post a ridiculously cute video of Henry. I have to constantly restrain myself from plastering photos and videos of Henry all over the internet. I know I post a lot, but I could post more. Yes, I realize that every parent thinks that their child is the cutest baby in the world. But, I really think that Henry might be. I just can't get enough of that kid. Which is good, seeing that I will be stuck with him for the rest of my life. Happy Mother's Day!

5.05.2010

What we lack in money, we make up for in creativity

We have been looking for ways to "trim the fat" from our spending. It isn't that we spend money lavishly, we are just looking to cut back so we can put more money in savings. Okay, it is also so we can have more money for fun. We have a few little trips and projects we would like to do. The main area that we have been trying to scale back in, is our food budget. Food is expensive (and I like to eat well). I have always enjoyed cooking and making things from scratch. Now I am starting to see the savings and the health benefits. So much of the food we eat is laden with preserviates and corn syrup. With a little extra work and creativity you can eat better and save money.

Here are a few of my "things you should make instead of buying from a store because they are super simple" recipes:

No Knead Bread: NY Times

I make this bread at least once a week. It is SO simple. It makes wonderful sandwich bread. With the right ingredients (a little pesto, some good meat, cheese and veggies) you will feel like you are eating a fancy sandwich from a restuarnt (but it will only cost you a buck or two and you can eat it in your PJs).

Cheese Crackers: The Kitchn

If you have a food processor, these are the easiest things ever! I have made them a couple times. You can easily modify them with a different cheese or by adding some fresh herbs. I roll mine out and use a pizza cutter. I don't care what they look like, but if you were so inclined, you could make them really cute.

Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns: All Recipes

Okay, I have confession . . . I have a bread machine and used it to make my dough. With the exception of the no knead bread, I use it all the time. I don't like baking bread in it. It doesn't taste that great and it comes out in a cube. But, for making dough, it is amazing. So I toss all the ingredient in the machine and run the dough cycle. When it is done, I take the dough, form it, and let is rise the last time. Pop it in the oven and 20 minutes later you have lovely buns (pun intended).

This post was inspired by our Monday evening super. We made pizzas on the grill, using homemade dough (when I find the perfect recipe I will link to it, this dough was good but not great). We were all crowded on our little porch - Henry, Jason, myself and both the dogs - cooking, laughing and sipping homemade sangria when it occurred to me that our life is good. We aren't rich. Our house is small and cars are crap (but paid off) but we know how to live well. Isn't that what it is really about? Loving God, your family and living your life to the fullest. Finding ways to make the most out of what you have, even if you don't have a lot.

There has been one victim of the Barks family budget cuts, Prissy (whom we didn't name). I pay more to groom her than I do to get my own hair cut. So, I decided to groom her myself. But, my clipper skills aren't that great and she ended up getting shaved really short. She looks totally naked. Poor puppy. And . . .Just because I love it, I have to share this photo of Henry.

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