Sunday, February 03, 2013

Trader Joe's Challenge: Day Five & This Weekend!

Hi everybody!

I hope that you had a nice, weekend like we did! What did you do? Anything good? Well, I feel like the Trader Joe's Challenge is really starting to wind down. I've now made all of the meals that were on my list, minus the spaghetti squash with marinara sauce, because nary a spaghetti squash was to be found. (By the way, spaghetti squash is just SO good!) I did add in a TJ's tomato soup and grilled cheese night. Also a great last-minute meal. Add some fruit, or a salad, and you have a delicious dinner!

Saturday night, Jon made dinner while I rushed to put up our "February" decorations. (More on that later.) He turned out the most delicious mushroom risotto.  It was supposed to be a shiitake mushroom risotto, but I had forgotten, and had only written "mushrooms" on my shopping list. So, we ended up with a delicious none-the-less, Baby Bella mushroom risotto.

The risotto was very creamy and buttery. I loved the texture that the fresh mushrooms give to it. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top, and perfection! Jon and I both agreed, that perhaps even more mushrooms would be fantastic! I'd saute some to a crispy texture, layer those on top of the risotto with cheese. Yum!

I'm sorry that the color is so off. Believe me, it looked much better in person. Jon also made a side of Trader Joe's french green beans. A nice and easy warm dinner for a cold and snowy winter night!

This is Noah.  He likes mushrooms. And what child would not accept some soft, gooey rice? So we figured, the risotto would be a rare, good bet. But, no, he would not, could not, bring himself to ingest such a thing.  Multiple colors, multiple textures......

SIGH....welcome to our dinner table for the past SEVEN not fun. I truly, automatically begin to stress when dinner time rolls around. It's sad to say, but I dread family dinners in some way. We have them almost every night.  It's frustrating when your child won't have anything to do with your lovingly made cooking, day in and day out. And you want him to eat, so he stays strong and healthy. Also though, when I do make Noah a separate dinner that I know he will probably eat (Pasta...eggs...etc), then I feel sad that it has to be that way, especially when I see other families happily eating together instead of having a constant struggle. We've tried everything, talked with his doctor, read so many books and opinions.  I have a feeling, we'll just have to wait this out. 

 This is the pout stage when we say "We're sorry, but  this is dinner tonight".

This is the stoic sadness stage, the "I'm going to bed now, so I don't have to eat" drama.
(Which of course last all of five minutes, once he gets into bed and realizes that it's 6:00pm.
I love Noah, but sometimes I just wish things were a little easier.

BEFORE, much before the risotto episode........

At one point, we just needed to get out of the house. Had some letters to mail, wanted to swing by the library. One thing that we've meant to do for several weeks, was visit Red Hook Coffee & Pinwheel Bakery ! We've been to Pinwheel Bakery in the past, before, when it was just the bakery. Now they've reopened as "The Red Hook & Pinwheel Bakery". The Red hook is basically the storefront. They serve wonderful, locally roasted Stumptown Coffee and serve locally sourced milk with their coffee from Guernsey Dairy Farm. So local!  

Behind the counter is the pinwheel Bakery kitchen, turning out an AMAZING array or beautiful, tasty delicacies and treats! They really are gorgeous desserts, see my gluten-free, flourless chocolate cake with gold leaf!

BUT....truthfully, whether this is ok or not, my favorite thing about this place, was the atmosphere and that attention to detail. It's like you walked right into a issue of Kinfolk Magazine. Which, by the way, I've always wanted to live in an issue of Kinfolk Magazine. See their videos HERE and feel so happy, like I did. Maybe.  Or....or...have we been transported into an episode Portlandia? The dream of the 1890's is alive in Portland! (And Ferndale, Michigan. )

Everything is about craftsmanship, being artisan, simple, slow, local. In a place like this, my passionate hobbies of crochet and birding and cats....they're not laughable. They're HONORABLE!  I finally found a place that I belong. At the Red Hook. 

After my spiritual awakening, we left to take a walk. Noah stopped in front of this gruesome painting that I do not find particularly appealing and asked : "Dad, is this graffiti, or a mural"? We decided mural.

On a side not, LOOK what flew up right outside our window!!!!! He or she is a Cooper's Hawk. A juvenile. I've known that hawks live nearby, in the large towering trees that line the small valley behind us. As soon as a hawk comes on the radar of one of the bird in our yard, that's it! They scatter for hours and hours, or even days at the time. I remember once, we didn't have any birds at the feeder for three days after a hawk sighting.

I worry about the little birds, but luckily, we only see or hear the hawk, once in a blue moon.

Here is what I picked up from the library that day...........

This little female Downy Woodpecker spent a lot of time at our window. She wasn't scared of me at all! We were only three feet apart. So fearless.

Remember I mentioned that I spent Saturday evening putting our February decorations up? Our house is on a  corner where many people drive by and walk by. We also live two lots from a sweet, Montessori preschool.  Most weekdays, the classes line up and walk past our house and down the hill for some fresh air. Between all of the walkers and the children and the people who pass, I've almost felt an obligation to decorate the outside of our little dollhouse-looking house for each holiday. More so though, it's been the countless, kind-hearted compliments and words of encouragement about the decorations, that keep me going!

For one, I know that the little preschool children love to look at the decorations as they pass. Things like the pumpkins that I perch on top of the front porch around Halloween....and the little paper gnomes in sledding scenes that I propped up in the lower windows. I do flower garlands as spring begins to bloom, and rainbow starburst to celebrate the fun of summer at the beginning of June. Countless people have been too kind, and  mention that they wait to see what I put up next. I think that is way too nice, but I'm glad that they like my small attempt to spread cheer.

Noah's science teacher attends church nearby. She sees our house each Sunday on her way. She mentioned to Noah, knowing that it was soon time for a new set of decorations, that she couldn't wait to see what we put up for Valentine's Day. Noah came home from school this week, enthusiastically telling me this story, and saying that we have to get our decorations up before Sunday! I agreed, especially because they were supposed to have gone up on February 1st! Valentines Day is a fun holiday to decorate for. The red and the pink, really warm up the cold winter outside.

One day, if budgets meant little, I'd love to wrap the porch in a garland of  red and pink silk flowers, just to be crazy and fun. For now though, just a simple heart-shaped wreath, and some homemade paper hearts from thick paper stock.

Do you spy Noah?

After this photos was taken, I added an additional row of pink and red mini-hearts below the original row. I felt like I cut out hundreds of hearts, by the time I had all five windows completed. It was fun though.

By the way, I can't believe that my dream has come true, to live in an old, old house. I feel lucky every single day. Even when it's drafty and feeling cold. :)

When I was taking down the sledding gnomes from the windows, I stopped to look outside. You'd have to be there, but there's nothing that makes you pause and think about what it was like to live here in 1860 more than looking out of the ancient front windows.  How old is the glass!? I wish I knew. Many of the panes are wavy (see the orange arrow for an example), and have little bubbles of imperfection. Well, PERFECTIONS in my mind! This old glass, it's incredible!

The last thing: this morning Jon made Blender Pancakes, the gluten-free version, from the DIY blog that I LOVE : "One Good Thing-by Jillee". These blender pancakes are just that, whipped together in a blender. How cool ! In the gluten- free version,  you use things like milk, egg, white rice, oatmeal, and potato flakes as a thickening agent. I know this sounds odd, but trust me! You can always try the more normal sounding, original version.  We used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, and it gave the pancakes a wonderful sweet taste. Crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle. They are delicious! Try some!

Well, it's late, I should go to bed. Thank you for following along with the Trader Joe's Challenge! I'm so happy to know that it IS possible to save time and to have fun, at only ONE market each week.  My family loves Trader Joe's, and I hope that your family is able to find something there that they can enjoy  too!


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