Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Keep It Local: Portrait Story Days at the National Portrait Gallery and DC Youth Poetry Slam

We have a knack for accidentally discovering the coolest (and often free) events and programs in DC. It happens all the time, which is likely an indicator that the city is just teeming with awesome opportunities for kids, but we like to think we have a particular affinity for finding them just the same. Mom has been waiting to take us to Portrait Story Days at the National Portrait Gallery for a while. We're no strangers to art museums, but she wanted to make sure we were both old enough to really get the program. Turns out it is super laid back and we would have been just fine ages ago, but regardless, it was awesome.

While we waited for the Story Days to begin, we checked out the Gallery's fabulous exhibit "Dancing the Dream," which is filled with multimedia art of all kinds of dance styles. Cam loved the ballet and I loved that I was able to pick out Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" video. The exhibit is at the Gallery until July and we definitely recommend checking it out.

When it was storytime, we listened to a fabulous book about Julia Child and then made self-portraits from fruits and veggies while video of Julia played on the wall. It was such a cool activity! After we finished our mugs, we got to check out discovery kits, too. Each kit comes with a doll of someone whose portrait is in the museum, along with lots of ideas for prompting kids to look and examine the artwork. I was pretty psyched to pull Abe Lincoln (one of my top two favorite presidents, along with GW) and Cam was thrilled to get Jacqueline Kennedy. We went on a search throughout the Gallery for portraits of our peeps and then spent a good amount of time comparing our doll to the portrait. Cam was a little antsy to get to the Kogod Courtyard snack bar, so she and daddy went ahead, but I spent a lot of time discussing Lincoln's portrait with mom, describing it using the great set of notepads in the kits, and drawing my own portrait of him, too (they let us keep the notepads, which are awesome and will be used on lots of future museum trips).

We finally met up with Cam and daddy in the courtyard only to find that the Gallery was setting up for the semi-finals of the DC Youth Poetry Slam team -- the competition was going to determine the team to represent DC nationally and internationally. Mom and I were PSYCHED. Cam was tired. So Cam and daddy headed home and mom and I poked around the Gallery a bit more until the slam started and then we made sure we had front row seats. Mom talked to me a bit about what slam poetry is and told me that even though these were kids, they would likely be talking about sort of adult subjects. I insisted that I wanted to stay, so we did. I thought it was neat that kids got up to perform and that a lot of the poetry sounded like music to me. I even volunteered to be a judge (random audience members just the competition), but mom said I was too young. I kept my own scores anyway. And mom was blown away. Seriously, blown away. She thought the kids were super brave and talented and inspiring. I might have caught her crying a bit. Maybe.

The National Portrait Gallery hosts Portrait Story Days on select Saturdays and Sundays each month. You can check the events calendar right here. We HIGHLY recommend both the storytime and the discovery kits.

If you get a chance and feel that your kids are old enough or are comfortable with your younger ones being exposed to some more mature issues, you should definitely check out DC's youth slam poets at an open mic night, which they hold the 3rd Saturday of each month at Busboys & Poets. Amazing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Grub It Up: Greek Spaghetti Squash

This week. Oh, this week. We're sick of hearing ourselves complain about how cold it is, so we'll just let that go without saying, but we (mom) took definite advantage of the snow and cold days last week and suspended basically all dietary restrictions (and good sense). We've now (mostly) righted ourselves, after seeing that it's not going to get warmer any time soon. But, suffice it to say, there was not much cooking and definitely not much paleo cooking going on in our house last week. Here's the pathetic bit we've got that's reportable:

M -- W: exempt holiday/snow/f'ing cold/daddy brought cannolis back from boston days

Th: Paleo Chicken Fingers and Greek Spaghetti Squash -- the chicken fingers are an old favorite, but the spaghetti squash was a new one. Mom and dad seemed to love it. Mom finally got the squash cooking down pat and thought this had great flavors. A keeper. Plus, she doesn't usually love feta cheese, but she found a really yummy sheep's feta cheese at Trader Joes and is now a convert (for those who eat dairy on paleo, check it out).

F: Sauteed Lemon Chicken with Onions and Roasted Grape Goat Cheese Honey Sweet Potatoes -- HOLY HECK. Mom almost posted on both of these, but she was so excited that she finally got the spaghetti squash to work, she insisted on that. We LOVED this chicken (mom subbed honey for the sugar) and mom and dad seemed legitimately sad that mom only had one sweet potato to split between the two of them. Both of these are at the top of our list now.

S: empty the refrigerator omelets -- no recipe, just whatever perishable tidbits went well together.

S: dinner out and not paleo -- it was cold outside. that's all we've got.

Here's to a week full of more clean eating and less weather complaining. When we feel cold, we'll just think of our poor Chicago cousins who have a week full of temperatures far below 0.

Greek Spaghetti Squash
(slightly adapted from Nibbles and Noshes)

- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2 tbls olive oil, divided
- 1-2 tbls of red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbls fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 tbls of oregano
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup Kalamatta olives, pitted
- 2 tbls fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- feta cheese, to top 

Spaghetti Squash
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, from pole to pole. Remove all seeds and stringy bits. 
- Place two squash halves, cut side up, in a rimmed baking tray and add about a cup of water.
- Place squash in the oven and roast until a fork can be inserted easily into the squash's flesh, but it is not mushy. About 45-60 minutes. 
- Carefully remove the roasted squash from the oven and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes. Then use a fork to scrape out the squash's flesh into stringy "spaghetti."

- While the squash is roasting, combine 1 tbls of olive oil, red wine vinegar, 1 clove of the minced garlic, and salt into a bowl and then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir to coat as thoroughly as possible and allow the mixture to sit for at least 20 minutes. 
- When the spaghetti squash is ready, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to turn translucent. 
- Add the remaining garlic and cook for about 30 additional seconds.
- Drain the tomato mixture and then add it to the skillet. Add the oregano, basil and pepper, and then allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Toss in the spaghetti squash. You may turn up the heat to brown it slightly, if you'd like, or just reheat it. 
- Move the skillet from the heat and stir in the olives and parsley and then top with feta.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Grub It Up: Hot Chocolate Spoons

We are SO excited to be coming out of this week's snowstorm. The first day was fun for about 5 minutes --  until mom told us we'd be spending the day continuing our clothing and toy purge we started on our MLK holiday. Whaaaaat!? At least we had plenty of these yummy hot chocolate spoons leftover from last weekend's brunch to get us through. They were super easy to make and went over big with our buds at the party. All you have to do is add the spoon to warm milk, stir in the chocolate, and drink up!

Here's how we made ours. You'll need:

- silicone ice cube molds
- 1 bag dark chocolate chips
- 1 bag milk chocolate chips
- 1 bag white chocolate chips
- sprinkles
- mini marshmallows
- mini wooden spoons

Melt each chocolate slowly in a saucepan -- you need to stir it constantly so that it doesn't burn. Spoon chocolate in desired pattern into each ice cube mold about 3/4 of the way. Place spoon in and hold it for a few seconds while the chocolate sets around it. Add any sprinkles or mini marshmallows you want. Let the cubes set for about 10-15 minutes on the counter and then move carefully to refrigerator for about 30-45 minutes.

Ours came out of the molds pretty easily and we even wrapped some extras up in plastic lollipop bags for our friends to take home as goodies.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Grub It Up: Winter Salad

We know. Another salad. But, according to mom, this one is just too delicious and simple to make not to share. Plus, Cam and I have been picky eaters lately. And it's easier for mom to stick with tried and true main dishes and experiment a bit with sides for the 'rents to change things up. For that reason, and because we had NO leftovers last week, mom doubled most recipes this week. Which meant that we also ate leftovers way more than usual this week. By Sunday, when mom asked whether he'd like chicken burgers for dinner, dad said "you mean the chicken burgers I ate three times this week? no." Oh well.

btw, if you haven't checked out mom's other blog in a while, they posted a great weekly Paleo shopping list template and menu planner recently. You can download it for free -- just follow this link. Mom uses it to plan, organize, and shop for the week.

Monday -- dinner out at Daily Grill with Aunt Erin. Steak for mom and mac n' cheese for us.

Tuesday -- Roasted Pork Loin with Grapes and Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts -- mom somehow ordered a 10.5 pound pork loin! She had to cut that baby into threes and freeze two sections of it. Even then, 3 pounds of pork is a lot of loin.

Wednesday -- leftovers (shocking).

Thursday -- Apple Basil Chicken Burgers and Roasted Carrots -- despite being our favorite chicken burger the last time mom made these, we were both finicky about them. We did love those carrots, though.

Friday -- leftovers (hahaha).

Saturday -- Baked Egg + Prosciutto Cups and Winter Salad -- we had a big group of friends over for brunch on Saturday and had leftover egg + prosciutto cups for din. Dad and Cam were itching to get out of the house, so they actually went on a dinner date. But mom and I stayed in and noshed more brunch food. If you don't eat dairy, just leave the cheese out.

Sunday -- Paleo Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries and Winter Salad. leftovers? mom tried. We insisted on something new, so she whipped up some easy burgers WITHOUT onions this week -- they were quite tasty (mom cut the paprika in half and left out the red pepper).

Winter Salad
(from Heirloom)

- 4-6 cups mixed fresh spinach and arugula
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1-2 apples, chopped or diced
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- sea salt and pepper to taste

- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp water

- Place all salad ingredients in a large bowl. 
- For vinaigrette, whisk together all ingredients. Pour over salad and toss. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: A Day in the Life (January 2014)

Oops.  Mom forgot about this month's 12 in 12 until the 13th. She sort of got it together Monday morning, but the day was a little spazzy. Mom typically uses Monday to get the house (and her) back in shape after the weekend and sort of plan out our week, but we have a bunch of school activities this week that were throwing our regular schedule off track. Everything was accomplished (or not accomplished) in little fits and starts that day, which drives mom crazy. We don't mind. Particularly if that results in multiple desserts.

Hope everyone's new year is going well! When you've finished checking out our 12 in 12, head on over to Where the Watermelons Grow and No Monsters in My Bed to see what they've been up to!

8.23 am -- Kane is obsessed lately with dressing up. he threw an out-of-character epic tantrum our last shopping trip over mom's refusal to purchase him a $300 three piece suit. Cam had a drama performance today and he kept after mom for "fancy clothes." after paying an obnoxious shipping amount to get his request, "tan pants, white shirt, brown belt, and a green tie," only the tie and belt made it in time. grrrrr. he made it work.

9.40 am -- after dropping us at school, mom picked up some of Kane's old clothes she had lent a friend. our aunt carrie had her third boy (!) last week and they are headed her way next. apparently mom was shoe shopping obsessed even with Kane -- these are all for an 18-24 month old kiddo. good thing Cam came along right at that time!

10.30 am -- mom works on food labels for a winter brunch we're having this weekend with friends. we are particularly psyched about the hot chocolate bar in the works.

11.35 am -- running late, mom throws snacks/lunch into her gym bag for a mid-day training session. she hates working out in the middle of the day and figuring out eating around it. banana, orange, almonds and beef jerky (not entirely Whole30 compliant, but ....) do the trick.

1.40 pm -- mom and Kane watch Cam star as "Bear" in a school drama performance. she rocked out hibernating, waking up, stomping and just generally looking freaking adorable in bear ears.

2.45 pm -- Cam attempts to explain her method acting to mom over celebratory fro-yo. you can see how that went. artists.

4.30 pm -- mom faces what is called "daddy did the laundry this weekend." helpful that it's clean, but it is all just waiting to be folded and put away. and don't even get me started on the christmas decorations that are still up.

8.30 pm -- we went out to dinner with our Aunt Erin who was in town for the night and had our second dessert of the day! we tried to pick daddy up from work after and didn't get home until after 8, which is late for a school night. yikes! Cam has amassed almost as many bath toys as stuffed animals that don her bed, both of which crack mom up and make her insane. how can she take a bath with all that stuff in there!?

9.33 pm -- mom plans weekend cocktails and catches up on one of her fave shows, "Girls." while the kiddos are getting a hot chocolate bar at this weekend's brunch, there will a bloody mary bar for adults. sounds gross.

10.00 pm --  mom turns to her other blog, A Feteful Life, to work on a cocktail post for this week. it'll be up Thursday, we hear you should definitely check it out.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Grub It Up: Shaved Beet, Carrot, and Radish Salad with Coriander Mustard Viniagrette

Mom started her second (and much-needed after a long holiday stretch of dabbling in carbs and drink) Whole30 challenge this week and planned ahead to incorporate some interesting salads. Her first challenge was successful, but she felt like she made the same side salad over and over and over again. First up this week was a yummy beet, carrot, and radish salad. Well, yummy for mom and dad. We were interested in it, but no way were we touching it. Instead mom mandolined some long carrot strips separately for us and that novelty did the trick for a bit. If your everyday dinner salad needs some shaking up, give this one a try.

And here's our menu from this past week, in case you're looking for something to go with your salad. Any newbie paleo/primal/clean eaters out there? What are YOU cooking?

Monday -- Lemon Chicken with Olives and Cauliflower Rice -- mom's favorite quick meal that is a sure win with everyone.

Tuesday -- Italian Baked Eggs (minus the cheese and bread), Shaved Beet salad below -- mom wipes the sauce off our eggs for us and serves ours with fruit.

Wednesday -- Burgers and Salad (no recipes here, just easy quick fixes) -- despite being the most straightforward meal of the week, we threw fits about the onion in our burgers.

Thursday -- Creamy Shrimp over Zucchini Pasta -- daddy was not a fan of the coconutty sauce. mom said it was so-so and probably won't make it again. the kids had mac n'cheese.

Friday -- Honey Orange Chicken and Broccoli -- kiddos got brown rice, too

Saturday -- dinner out at District Chophouse -- steaks the size of our heads for all.

Sunday -- BBQ Baked Chicken and Sweet Potato French Fries -- mom generally followed the BBQ sauce directions, but left out the spicy spices and pineapple. she added honey instead. and she baked the chicken instead of grilling it. it was just OK. we're guessing it would have been better grilled.

Shaved Beet, Carrot and Radish Salad with Coriander Mustard Vinaigrette 
(slightly adapted from gourmande in the kitchen)

- 1 1/2 tbls apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp raw honey
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- freshly ground black pepper to taste

Shaved Salad:
- 4 small golden beets, peeled
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into two
- 1 small bunch of radishes, trimmed and cleaned
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

- Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl.

- Thinly slice the beets, carrot, and radishes on a mandolin or in a food processor with the slicing attachment.

- Toss the sliced vegetables with the dressing to coat evenly. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, season to taste with additional salt and freshly ground pepper if desired.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Miscellaneous Madness: Not-So-SAHM 2013 Favorites

On mom's to-do list for 2014 is to make some more time for Not-So-SAHM business. Yes, we both spend most weekdays in school now and fill in a lot of the remaining time with organized activities. Mom needs to continue making time for her own side projects, too. But in putting starting to put together (still late, we might add) the Not-So-SAHM 2013 book for family presents and after Darcy from No Monsters in My Bed asked whether we'd like to join her in a "best of 2013 post," mom realized how much we all love the Not-So-SAHM things we do together. So, she's going to try to continue making time to do them and post on them as well.

We'll see how it works out. In the meantime, here's our 2013 favorites (mom included her favorite kiddo categories, too) and some of mom's favorite instagrams! After you check ours out, see what tops the list of one of our other friendly bloggers: But I Do Have a Law Degree

Kids Book
- Kane: "Velcome," by Kevin O'Malley -- because it's lots of funny, scary stories
- Cameron: Princess and the Pea
- Mom: "Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons," by James Dean

Kids Audio Book
- Kane: "The Sisters Grimm: The Fairytale Detectives," Michael Buckley -- it's a lot of fairytales and it's really imaginative.
- Cameron: same -- because I love it. It makes me like flowers and Red Riding Hood.
- Mom: "Dragon Rider," Cornelia Funke

- Kane: Frozen -- because it was also really imaginative. It's about winter and seasons. And the queen controls ice.
- Cameron: Cinderalla -- because she's a princess.
- Mom: Rio -- because we shake our tail feathers to all the songs and it cracks her up.

T.V. Show
- Kane: He-man -- it has a lot of good characters and not hard names in it. It's about fighting for freedom.
- Cameron: Elmo {she doesn't watch Elmo?} -- because it has two girls and all the boys.
- Mom: Octonauts -- drops the most random yet incredibly useful oceanographic info.

- Kane: "All the Single Ladies," Beyonce -- because I like the ring part and all the singing.
- Cameron: I like "Lullaby, close your eyes ...." {a lullaby mom sings to her} -- because I love it.
- Mom: "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody," Fergie -- the most-requested song in the car and it gets everyone dancing.

- Kane: the one we're on right now {New Jersey}, because I just love Nona.
- Cameron: I love all of you right now and I love to go to Nona's and to see Jack {Chicago}.
- Mom: New York.

- Kane: the dinosaur museum {Maryland Science Center} -- because I like it so much and science is my favorite.
- Cameron: I don't go to museums.
- Mom: American Visionary Art Museum.

Art Project
- Kane: where we mixed different kinds of paint for my knight's party {helped make party decorations}.
- Cameron: I like to paint all of you.
- Mom: Dia de los Muertos monoprints.

- Kane: Jetties.
- Cameron: The Protein Bar.
- Mom: The Protein Bar {for eating with the kids}.

Piece of Clothing
- Kane: my coat because it's green.
- Cameron: all of my dresses -- because they are beautiful.
- Mom: Kane's Bubble n' Squeak shirt and Cameron's Frye boots.

- Kane: cupcakes -- because they are sweet, ice cream, cake, marshmallow, hot chocolate, brownies. You know I like sweets! Why wouldn't I like that?!
- Cameron: smoothies.
- Mom: She'll go with cupcakes because the kids don't usually eat all of theirs and then she gets to finish them. What? Did she think we didn't know that?

- Kane: rootbeer floats, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, and vanilla milk.
- Cameron: smoothies.
- Mom: coffee -- because everyone know that it's the only way Not-So-SAHM stays afloat {and because mom is doing a Paleo challenge and booze isn't an option at the moment}.

- Kane: tiger, wolf, lion and cheetah. then a snake.
- Cameron: a giraffe and peacocks.
- Mom: a cheetah -- because mom and daddy have a longstanding faux argument over whether or not he could beat a cheetah in a fight.

- Kane: labyrinth and chess -- I love playing with my mommy.
- Cameron: "knock, knock, who's there?" {telling jokes}
- Mom: Mom says she has to go with chess and knock-knock jokes for both of us -- she thinks we make up the most hysterical knock-knock jokes eva.