Roadtrip Ready

Looking forward to our first New England Family Exploratory Adventure!

Upon our return I plan to share some of the recipes we're trying while camping, including Sausage-Bean stew, Gourmet Spinach Salad, and Eggplant Parmesan.  I'll let you know if any of them are successes (and probably will also mention if they're failures!).

Off we go!


The Ideal Shopping Experience

You've got to understand one thing ... the Mr and I do not like shopping.  At all.  Our unspoken family rule is to avoid all retail centers on weekends, and weekdays ending in D-A-Y.  With the exception of hobby stores (brewing for him, fabric for me), we would rather fold laundry together in 90 degree heat than browse through a mall or retail store.

Until we found Ikea.

There's food there ... score.
You get to build stuff ... sweet!
It's mostly minimalist, intuitive, well-thought-out, and inexpensive ... works for us!
And the best part of all (according to the Mr) is that there are no sales associates watching what we're up to, asking if we've found what we wanted, or generally trying to be helpful.  You see, he's a do-it-yourself kind of guy, and that trickles down to shopping too.

We discovered one 40 minutes away and promptly went twice in two days to snag some fun stuff, including
curtains for the nursery ... 
 and a dresser for the toddler ...
We're excited to be so close (relatively) to our new favorite store!  Watch for more peeks of IKEA goodies!


Saturday ScreenShot

I am so thankful for technology ... and the chance to catch up with these gals!



An update - with pictures - of our house:
Yes, she is carrying a (brand new) toilet bowl brush.
It kept her occupied while we unpacked boxes.
And it was the only picture I got during unpacking ...
Here is a brief tour of our house: come in the front door to a split foyer.  Go up a half flight of stairs ... and this is on the right...
Living room.  Lots of sun through that big window
(and I plan to appreciate it in the winter)
Through the living room to the left is the dining room.  Functional.
I am so thankful for that A/C window unit!
Turn left again, and go into the kitchen:
If you turn right out of the kitchen door just past the fridge, there's a hallway with two bedrooms on the left (the nursery is the smaller one, and E's room is the larger one).  On the right is a bathroom, and then the master bedroom/bathroom.
This will eventually be a nursery.  Now it's a catch-all room. 
E's room (as we try to figure out what it means to transition
a toddler to a bed!)
The sweet girl herself.  Look at those crazy curls!

One more piece of the update ...
22 weeks!
I love that E is looking at me as if to say, "What's the big deal?"


Falafel 101

Falafel (recipe adapted from here - it's worth checking out the Editor's Note on the original recipe, which has some interesting history on falafel, as well as some variations)


A Middle Eastern dish of spiced mashed chickpeas or other pulses formed into balls and deep-fried.

We just ate this for lunch ... I've been wanting to try falafel for a while, ever since my friend Andrea mentioned that she had made some.  Since I'm always looking for new ways to use beans, this idea popped into my head when I unpacked my stash of dry goods last week.  I'm so glad I finally tried it out - I will do it again, and will continue to play with the spices and garnishes for fun.

1 c. dried chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 of a large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
1/2 - 1 tsp. dried hot pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. baking powder
4-6 Tbsp. flour
oil for frying
Garnishes: chopped tomato, chopped lettuce, diced onion, diced green bell pepper, yogurt sauce (my own addition; see recipe below), pita bread

Yogurt sauce:
1/2 of a lime, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. plain yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

Put the chick peas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches.  Let soak 12-24 hours, then drain.  Or, use canned chick peas, drained.
Place the drained, uncooked chick peas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin.  Process until blended but not pureed.
Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse.  You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands (I ended up using about 5 tablespoons total).  Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
Heat oil in a pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Form the chick pea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts (or, if you're from the south, about hush-puppy size).  Fry in hot oil a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.
Stir together ingredients for yogurt sauce with a whisk until thoroughly combined.
To serve, stuff half a pita with falafel balls and desired garnishes.  Drizzle with yogurt sauce.

Well, folks, it's official - for the first time ever, we are residents of a state that is waaaayy north of the Mason-Dixon line.  It's kinda fun, and we're acting rather touristy in the area so far.  We've gotten lost with and without a GPS, with and without a map (we've even gotten lost with the GPS and a map on our side ... ); we've been inducted into the neighborhood by both a salesman and a cop showing up on our doorstep within days of our arrival; we met some folks up the street who may become our token locals; and we've rocked to a Louisiana zydeco band at an outdoor concert.  Today we procured library cards; the coming week will usher in new cards of the motor vehicle, insurance, and bank sort ... so, yes, we're hard at work becoming local!

Both the Mr. and I have remarked at the crazy amount of time and energy it takes to move, but then we have to remember: yes, we've both moved numerous times in our lives (a combined 20+ times, which is nothing to sniff at), but we've never moved when all of the following circumstances have applied to us:
1. a move while responsible for a toddler
2. a move while responsible for a pet
3. a move out-of-state (is out-of-region a term?)
4. a move while pregnant (aka, unwilling unable to lift much in the way of boxes or furniture)
5. a move when we're the responsible ones, financially/socially speaking
6. a move from rural Tiny Town to bustling Mid-Sized City
7. a move in the dead middle of summer, to a place without central air, with only one fan, and with awesome overwhelming morning and afternoon sun coming in through big windows.  (I know I will be thankful for the sun, come winter!)

So, we're trying to cut ourselves some slack.

Speaking of which, I will post pictures later.  For right now, I'm going to join the rest of the family in naptime.

PS.  Can I mention that this is my 200th blog post?  I'm a little proud.