Monday, January 31, 2011

Tasted like summer... on the eve of the Snowpocalypse.

So, Peter stepped it up this week and chose recipes for us.  Picadillo... turned out to be decent.

Tonight's dinner was great.  For the summer.

Peter made a wonderful Feta-Chicken Couscous Salad with Basil.  In the description, it says to serve with pita and hummus for a light summer meal.


It was a good meal, just not what I was expecting.  I'm happy we'll have it on hand for when the summer heat finally rolls around.

After bath time, I'm running out to Jewel to pick up a few things that I forgot yesterday.  I'm thinking that I'm going to make the Little Man some homemade chicken nuggets that I found on my friend Jey's website. 

I'm also thinking I might bake something new... the word Snowpocalypse just seems like the perfect time for a new cookie recipe, doesn't it?

Catch Up

I'll be posting a new recipe later today, but I wanted to post some that were from my original email list before I started blogging.

Did you see the new Recipes tab at the top of the page?  Go there if you need to find a specific recipe :)

So... here we go with some old recipes, just so I can get them up here.

First up... Tex Mex Salad and Chili Picante adapted from Weight Watchers!

Next up, Chicken with Fontina and Fresh Blueberry Sauce with Ginger Roasted Green Beans
adapted from Weight Watchers!

Now... Roast Beef Panini with Horse Radish Goat Cheese Spread and Butternut Squash Fries
adapted from Weight Watchers and Hungry Girl

And finally, Greek Salad and Chicken Skewers with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Be on the lookout...  more are coming tonight!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Picadillo, Rice and Beans, and other new things.

Today was a day for trying something(s) new.

The day started with Peter ripping apart our pink bucket chair.  Let me talk about the chair for a second... my college roommate Ashley and I picked up the two ugly pink bucket chairs at a yard sale for either $10 or $20 a piece.  They survived 4 years of college, some time at my mom's house, and then became Peter's dad Leo's favorite chair whenever he came over.  We decided some time ago that one of them would be in Kayla's room.  I found the plaid fabric on a major sale over at Joann's ($4.99 a yard!), and anxiously waited for Peter to help.  He did some research (thanks YouTube!) and started the project today.  Here are a few pictures...

As far as the other chair, it's going with Leo down to Florida.  He's moving down there on Saturday!  This way, he'll have something comfortable to sit on, and Liz can cover it however she wants :) 

Since he's moving Saturday, he came up and spent the afternoon with Kayla and Jason.  Leo is such a good sport, and doesn't care what we make for dinner. 

I think I might have given Peter a complex about not choosing recipes the past two weeks, so he was all over it today.  His choices aren't what I would have chosen, but he'll be doing the cooking.  Tonight, he decided to try his hand at picadillo and Cuban style rice and beans. 

The picadillo was different than your average meat mixture to put in a tortilla... the chicken, chipolte and tomatoes made it savory, but the apples, raisins and cinnamon definitely added a sweetness.  I didn't like the first tortilla I made.  I know I don't like cinnamon in savory dishes.   However, the taste grew on me and I did make a second.  I could easily see stuffing this in peppers or zuchini to add zero points instead of the tortilla.  For a point value of 5, and the easiness of the recipe, I'd try it again.

The rice and beans were ok.  We only had 1 can of black beans in the house, so Peter had to soak some dried black beans.  Maybe that's why the final mixture was dry?  It was only okay, not very flavorful, and worth 5 points because of the rice.  If he were to make it again, I'd rather have another tortilla with the picadillo and skip the rice.

I was the one who did the shopping this week, and I think everyone and their mother was at the grocery store getting ready for the blizzard that supposedly will hit us this week.  I was frustrated, in the baking asile, and got hit with the inspiration for this cake... it's one of my favorite chocolate cakes.  The key to the cake is letting your cream cheese really soften before you make the frosting... otherwise you'll have little specks of cream cheese instead of smooth creaminess. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

my own version of pie vs. shorts...

A few days ago, Rachelle wrote about pie vs. shorts.   You all know what I'm talking about.  The choice.  Do I eat pie/cake/chocolate/pasta/butter/anything that's bad for me but tastes soooooo good, or do I remember that I want to look good in that great pair of shorts/dress/bathing suit?

This time, I didn't choose.  Mother Nature did.

Here's probably a bit of TMI... I got my period this morning for the first time since Barak Obama was sworn into office.  (considering the only man who probably reads this blog is John, not Peter, but John, I'm not too worried.  In fact, I bet John totally gets it.  And would have probably accompanied me to Jewel tonight if he knew.)

It actually made me feel a little better despite the inconvenience...   no wonder I felt bloated and irritable.  And the cravings hit me like a truck.  First I wanted salt.  Then sweet.  Then salt.  Then sweet.  It was is terrible.

Today, screw the shorts/dress/bathing suit.  Today, screw the fact that I have 30 days left until I need to fit back into pants at work.  Today, I needed chocolate.

So, after bath time, I took my bloated/irriatble/craving self to Jewel, where I was on a mission for chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  I ended up with a delightful concoction called "triple chocolate tiger baby cake."  Sounds strange... tastes soooooo good.  And it was a baby cake, so it was a perfect size for Peter and me.  I'm not taking a picture, for I feel if I take a picture then the calories will count.  :)

I was on my way to check out, and then I saw the cookie aisle.  Out of the blue, I was struck with the urge for:

I'm proud to say I saved $1.42 by buying the Jewel brand instead of the Nabisco. 

I'm not proud to say that I opened the box as soon as I got in my car and ate 1 2 3 on my way home. And I'm eating one right now. 

However, dear reader, I don't care that Peter never had a recipe week.  Apparently, he can't be trusted.  So, expect a full week of new Weight Watchers approved recipes from me this coming week. 

And Rachelle, please, please, please, let's mall walk our little hearts out next week.  I have a feeling that all the Spring window displays are going to make me nauseous about the amount of calories I've eaten this week.  But not nauseous enough to make me stop eating tonight :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Green Chili Chicken and Lime Soup

The soup I'm about to share for you has quickly turned
into a Tarnawa family favorite. 
I found the recipe for this soup over at Picky Palate.  Look how beautiful she made it look!


I exchanged rice for pasta, added a few seasonings, and found the Points Plus value... which is surprisingly 5 points a serving!   I love the punch of lime in the broth, the heat from the chilies and the freshness of cilantro. 
And it makes a HUGE pot of soup.   HUGE!  

My pictures aren't nearly as good as hers... is it summer yet so I can cook with natural light?  I was too lazy to get the fancy pants flash thing Peter got me for the holidays.  I just wanted you to see the "stuff" in the soup before you see my wimpy final picture in the recipe.

There are a few pictures that I took today that I just need to share.
First up:  Sweet Baby K sitting in the Bumbo.  Wearing leg warmers.

You saw from today's earlier post that Jason's feeding himself.  
Watch what Little Man can do with his yogurt.

So, of course Daddy just had to join in on the fun!

there's something sweet...

remember this scene from disney's beauty and the beast?
belle was trying to get beast to eat with manners.  it worked.  kinda.

that's what i was facing this morning... 

jason has been trying really, really hard to eat independently with a spoon.  
he's getting the hang of it, slowly, slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y.  
i wanted to share some of his effort with you...
  not too bad, huh mama?
  almost... almost...
  nom nom nom
all done!

Monday, January 24, 2011

introducing the newest tarnawa...

welcome to the family, 
beautiful, beautiful 8 passenger chevy traverse.
your cyber-grey metallic exterior and dark grey interior makes my heart flutter.  
you are, yet you're not a minivan.  and i do love me a minivan.
i'm so happy you're here. 
thank you for carrying our precious cargo.

Ode to the Little White Sh*tbox

There once was a Pontiac Sunfire
adventures in college it did inspire.
Some cheese it did make,
never really could brake, 
we're so glad you can finally retire.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

at least there was ONE good part

Let's not talk about why we had people over.  Let's not talk about how my stomach hurt the entire game, and I almost hid behind the couch and rely on Peter's reaction to see how things were going (that's how I used to watch Bulls games back in the day... behind the couch, listening to my dad scream at the television to know if it was safe to watch).  Let's not talk about my child wearing a cheese head borrowed from his Gramma.

 at least it looks like he doesn't like it. 

Let's talk about the terrible-in-point-value-calories-fat-etc... food that tasted SO good when it was used to mend broken spirits. So good. 

First up, 2 oldies but goodies.  Peter's guacamole is famous... Grandma Sunny has told me she could live on that alone :)  A lot of a guacamole recipe is to taste... here's a good base for you to start with!
  1. Then, we made tortilla roll ups. 
  2. Once again, use this as a base, and Tabasco yourself to whatever floats your boat!

This last one I've been waiting to try for a year and a half.  When I was on bed rest with Jason, Peter had to go out of town a lot.  I stayed at Dad and Debbie's house when that happened, and Debbie and I watched hours and hours of Food Network.  It was football season then, and when Sunny Anderson showed her Farm in a Blanket (think pigs in a blanket with add ons... yum!) we wanted to try it, but never got around to it.  Until today.  Game day.  This recipe was the balm my soul needed to not cry because of the last two plays of the game.  It was sweet and savory and melted and golden... we tweaked the recipe a bit, but turned out to be pretty and delicious!

 by the way, did you notice there were no food posts last week?  
yeah... that was because it was Peter's week, and he never got on board with recipes.  
he did, however, really do his research about our new car, 
which we hope will be ours tomorrow night!  
with all the leftovers in the house, i don't know what we'll do this week.  
all i know is mall walking is a necessity this week, 
not just a time for a brief walk and chit chat.  
I'm going back to work in 6 weeks.  Eek!)


It seems like that calendar is getting full of dates that turn into traditions.  Yes, Thanksgiving through New Years seems like a season prime for traditions... especially in our dual-religion family.  I look forward to the next few years as Peter and I are able to tweak our holiday traditions, and share them with Jason and Kayla (as soon as they're old enough to realize what's going on).

Another post-holiday tradition we've been so lucky to be a part of is the "friend holiday dinner."  The group who is invited are the extensions of the Peter/Andro/Layla/Mark/Brian friendship from high school.  It has been hosted in many different places, and is always a great time for food, friends, and laughter.  Last year, Peter and I were able to host.  The only kids there were Jason and Maddie (who were 3 months old at the time).

This year, Mark and Tiffany were gracious enough to open up their beautiful home and host.  The food was delicious and plentiful, it was a wonderful time to see good friends, and to see our two little ones grow to a group of 5! 

I just hope that one day Jason and Kayla learn to appreciate the special bond that their daddy and his friends have.  Also, I know that Jason and Kayla won't have any cousins who live around here for a long time, so Maddie, Ike, and Luke are our family.  It's so fun to watch them grow up and interact.  I can't wait for next year, where both of my little ones will be able to run around and enjoy themselves, and I can't wait for more little ones to join our growing brood.

Here's a few pictures of the kiddos... though I've been told that the mamas trying to get the little ones to smile was much funnier!

 our babies are all grown up.

And here's the latest Tarnawa family picture...
I'm hoping that eventually, we'll get one with J and K smiling.
(they look foreign, don't they?  they must have learned from Peter's parents to not smile in pictures)

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Towards the end of my pregnancy with Kayla, I was as big as a house, still worried that she was going to fall out at any moment, and Jason was just (finally) starting to get mobile.  As Peter and I would sit in Little Man's room at night helping him learn to walk, I would silently think to myself "can I do this with two of them?  am I ready?  please be the joy that I want it to be..."

And then she came, and it was super hard and easy all at once.  Peter was able to stay home for the first 6 out of 7 weeks of Kayla's life, due to Thanksgiving, paternity leave and saved vacation days.  I wasn't allowed to lift little man.  It hurt for the first few weeks to do anything.  My feet swelled so much from all the fluid that when I walked, my toes didn't touch the ground.  Although I had to rely on Peter for pretty much everything over the past two years (except from November '09 - February '10... 3 measly months...), it was back to business as usual.  I'd have to constantly ask for his help, and he was wonderful and he'd do everything with some little very little complaining.  I knew it needed to happen that way.  And I knew that eventually I'd be back to normal.  I knew I shouldn't feel helpless.  I knew that what I was doing to keep our babies safe and letting myself heal without pushing was what needed to happen.  But I hated hated HATED the feeling of uselessness.  I hated the feeling of dependency.

Finally, on January 5th, the wonderful, talented, simply amazing Dr. Jahedi told me that I was given a clean bill of health, and I was free to do whatever I wanted.  When I got back to my car (after chit-chatting with her for a while... can I tell you how much I love her?) I took a deep breath and smiled.  I could get me back.

It started with being able to go to the mall with the kids... I can carry the kiddos downstairs, put my 30+ lb little man in his car seat, unload and set up the monstrosity of a double stroller, and get them in the mall without letting them freeze.  Then, I was able to start mall walking with a dear friend, and I felt even better.  I could help get the leaf out of the dining room table. I could move boxes and chairs.  I was back.

But the biggest realization hit when I met a new mom friend (when we were at another mall with another friend).  She was sitting at the table next to us with a sleeping baby in a stroller, and Jason was being uber cute with his straw and milk.  We started the normal mommy conversations:  how old, names, so cute, etc... and then it lead to her telling me that she was relatively new to the area, she's tried to get involved in mommy groups but it was hard to break in, and her family lived in California. 

My heart ached for her.  No matter how bad it got, or how sorry I was for myself for not being able to physically do what I wanted, I had my family here.  I had a large circle of friends who supported and listened, and my dear, dear mommy friends who understood exactly what I was going through.  It was almost starvation that I saw in my new friends eyes... the longing for finding a group of mommies who knew.  The ones who could say "oh yeah, that happened to me,"  or "I understand," or "have you tried," and not judge parenting styles, just offer support. 

So of course I got her email/number and we got in touch.  She was able to come and meet another mommy and me at the mall again.  She had so many questions, and Rachelle and I were so happy to share our limited experiences with her, and to just listen as she talked. 

Diaper changes were needed, and my Kayla needed to eat.  I grabbed a bottle so I could head over to Corner Bakery to ask for hot water, and by then Kayla was crying.  I looked at Rachelle and asked if she could just keep the pacifier in K's mouth, and that I'd be back in a minute.  Our new friend looked shocked.  "How could you be so calm?"she asked.  I laughed and said she was my second.  I knew she was hungry.  There was nothing else I could do for her but go as fast as I could to get a bottle, no matter how much she cried.

As I made the bottle, I thought about Jason when he was 2 months old.  I refused to take him out unless Peter, Debbie or Mom was with me.  I was petrified to take him to restaurants.  To anywhere!  I was so scared he'd cry, or have a diaper malfunction, or something, anything that would make me overwhelmed and not be able to fix him fast enough.  That was the look that was in my new friend's eyes. 

I wanted to tell her that she'll get more confident as her little man gets older.  That a screaming baby is not the end of the world, and that you can take your time and relax as you help them.  That stressing over the baby when he's crying in public will just make it worse.  I wanted to tell her that one day, it will be easier.  Not easy.  I don't know if it ever will be easy... just easier.  I didn't say those things... I'm hoping that we'll continue to see each other and I can watch her become more confident.  And I'm hoping that she'll find a group of mommies (if not us, another group) who will lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on. 

And she doesn't know how much she helped me... she made me realize that I am capable.  That this parenting of two under 16 months is a challenge, but doable.  A challenge that I can't wait to try every morning.  A challenge that makes my heart melt as my baby girl stares after her big brother, that makes me laugh as Jason gives Kayla a chewed up piece of paper to make her stop crying (chewed up paper... that's a highly coveted prize in his 15 month old life... just like straws, socks, and dog food), that makes me appreciate every cuddle, that makes me so grateful that I have those two little lives that need me, and that no matter how hard the journey was to get to this moment, no matter how helpless and dependent I felt, that I wouldn't trade it for the world. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

monthly update

We had both kiddos at the doctor's office for their wellness check ups today.  We are so happy to have gotten the clean bill of health for both of them :)

Little Man at 15 Months, after feeding himself chocolate pudding:

31 lb 10 oz, (above the 97th percentile) and 34" (above the 97th percentile)
can say:  mama, dada (for daddy and duck), baba (for bottle and Basia, nana (for banana), 
UP!, and Jew (for shoes and juice)

Sweet Baby K at 2 months in Jason's old doggie sleep n' play:
11 lb 6 oz, (75th percentile) and 23" (75th percentile)
can:  hold her head up with only a bit of wobble, keep down her bottles with baby zantac, and smile :)

game face

When we bought our PlayStation 3, it came with Madden NFL '10, which Peter and I enjoyed immensity.  Apparently, I'm a fabulous punt returner.  In the TFL (Tarnawa Football League), the Bears went to the Super Bowl.... I'm hoping that it's a good omen for the Bears...

Anyway, for Christmas, Peter's parents got him the Tiger Woods game, and one of the options was to create your own "game face" 3D avatar thing...  I had to take a front and side picture of him for the best results.

The results?  Freaky.  Here's what Peter would look like bald...

We went through many different looks...  and I just had to post them.  Too funny:

And finally decided on this one:  

How does it look in the game?
Isn't that crazy?  That's who we see on the TV when he plays.

And speaking of game face, he's using that as he negotiates with a car salesman online... we finally got the breakdown of my salary for the rest of the school year, and are only a few steps away from buying a brand new Chevy Traverse.  I am so excited!!  We'd have 2 cars that are safe to drive in during the winter!  (read:  bye bye little white sh*tbox!)

A few more faces:  here's Little Man at Hawthorn Mall today, where he was finally able to walk over, bend down, and crawl through the log (THANK YOU AUNT DANI!!!), and Kayla and her boyfriend.  Not sure how Kayla feels about it yet, but I'm sure she'll warm up to it.