Rabbit and Baby

This conversation happens between me and my firstborn pretty much every morning ...

Did you have sweet dreams?
What did you dream about?
I dreamed about Rabbit and Baby.
You did?!?  What were they doing?
They were sleeping.

Yep.  Lots of exciting things happening here in the rhymeswithsmile family!


Memphis Style Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

Serves 8-12

For the pork
6 Tbsp. paprika
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
scant Tbsp. onion powder
Kosher salt and coarsely ground pepper
1 10- to 12-lb boneless pork shoulder or Boston butt, rinsed and dried
8 to 12 soft hamburger buns, split
coleslaw, for serving

Mix the paprika, sugar, and onion powder in a bowl.  Transfer 3 tablespoons of the seasoning to a separate bowl, add 2 tablespoons salt and 3 tablespoons pepper, and sprinkle onto the pork.  Place the pork into crock pot and cook on high for 8 hours.  When pork is ready, it should pull apart easily.  Shred it then cover it with remaining dry rub and your preferred amount of sauce (recipe below).  Serve on hamburger buns with coleslaw.

For the barbecue sauce
2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup (optional)

Mix together all sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
You can double the sauce and keep the extra in the fridge for up to a month.  

An email from a friend today reminded me that I've been wanting to share this recipe for months, ever since I first made it mid-winter.  I know that there are all kinds of heated arguments about what type of barbecue is best, and I have a secret family recipe for barbecue sauce squirreled away in a secret place.  All conflict aside, this Memphis barbecue recipe is easy, straightforward, and delicious!  It's a crockpot recipe to boot, which you know gives it extra points in my book.

Everything can be made ahead - you can even cover the pork with plastic wrap after seasoning it with the dry rub and refrigerate it up to 24 hours.  Pop it in the crock pot on the day of your BBQ feast, and all you need to do is shred it before eating.

I made this a number of times this winter, dreaming of summer picnics ... now, I know I'll be making it a lot this summer so that I don't have to spend much time in a hot kitchen!

Recipe slightly adapted from here.


Friday Blog Party and Giveaway Winner

This week's featured blogger in the Simply Baby Furniture blog party is Kelley from Forever's Like A Dream.  She's working with transition to make a lovely, girly space for her 2-year-old.  Be sure to check out her post by clicking here.

While you're at it, check out what's going on with these other fabulous bloggers who I've been enjoying getting to know through the blog party:

Little Black DoorElizabeth
Fancy Free MeElisa
ScrappyLove -Cindi and Emily
Vivid Hue Home- Heather

And of course, now I get the honor and privilege of announcing the winner of the 300th post giveaway: Lauren T.!  It seems fitting somehow that she would win this, given that she's been with me since the beginning ... she actually commented on my very first post, ya'll!  What a sweet friend for long before the blog was even in place, and a faithful reader since day one.
Congrats Lauren!  And thanks to the rest of you for reading, sharing, and remembering.  And now, here's to the next 300!

Happy Friday!


More Ideas for How to Camp in the Woods with Young Kids

I have gotten some questions and suggestions from some blog readers when I made my post yesterday about camping with young kids, so I thought perhaps a follow-up post would be in order.  So, here are a few more ideas!

Here's some of the gear we found handy this time around for the infant:
- the Bumbo seat - set up outside the tent, as a place for the baby to hang out while grown up hands are busy
- the pack-n-play - also set up outside the tent as an alternative to the Bumbo; as she gets older this will be an ideal spot to put her so that gravel and sticks don't go in her mouth
- the car seat - we use an infant car seat for occasional naps and we had that in our tent for her to sleep in at night (buckled in properly, of course.  She wiggles too much and would slide right out if we didn't buckle her).  We also assume this kept her warmer than sleeping in a pack-n-play would have.

- some kind of baby carrier - for when nothing else will do!  I've recently gotten my hands on an Ergo, and I like putting the little one in it on my back.  Another favorite is the Moby Wrap, though that's front-only.  Sometimes, a baby just needs to be held, even when you're in the woods.

- down suits (when the weather calls for it) - our infant is still too small for the suits we have, but since it's getting warmer as summer approaches that's OK.  She'll fit in them in the fall.  We have two suits that we purchased on eBay a few years ago.  The one on the left is Patagonia synthetic down, size 12 months (though it fit Big Sister until about 18 months).  On the right is an REI goose down + synthetic down, size 18 months, which fit Big Sis until she was 2.

Patagonia infant suit pros and cons: The fold-over pieces on the hands to keep fingers warm is a great idea, unless your kid is a thumb-sucker (then it's a terrible, terrible thing to try to use, because your kid can't get to the thing that calms her down!).  The Patagonia suit is lightweight and trim, yet still does a good job of keeping a kid warm.

REI infant suit pros and cons: same thing with the fold-over hand pieces ... can be a good thing or a big challenge.  The suit is pretty puffy so it can be hard for toddlers to figure out how to walk.  There are two zippers, one down each side, which make diaper changes easier.  The loft on the REI suit keeps the kid even warmer, and the hood does a better job of staying in place (it has a little bit of elastic on the forehead part)

Helpful gear for the 2 1/2 year old:
- Kid-sized camping accessories like a folding chair and a headlamp - our rationale behind this is that our kids need to feel like they have a part in the experience too if they're going to develop a love of camping.  Giving them their own gear is a little way to make it "theirs."

 - tiny potty seat - Lilla children's potty from Ikea for $4.99.  I did not bring it this time around (we were squeezed in there!) but will definitely bring it on future trips.

- sleeping bag and ground pad - we don't have a specific child-sized sleeping bag, but we folded one in half for the kid to sleep in.  This is what she does when we're on the road anyway, so she's familiar with a sleeping arrangement like this.  However, it was of absolute importance that we bring her three little dolls.  Parents, if I give one piece of advice, it's this: take the things that comfort your kids with you!

Activities for kids:
- collecting sticks for the fire (entertain them for longer by having them sort sticks by size or length)
- whittling - obviously an activity for older "young kids" but a 4 or 5 year old may be able to handle a little pen knife with some adult supervision.  My sister-in-law gave her 4 year old a bar of soap and a butter knife for whittling.
- flashlights - kids don't need direction with a flashlight.  Just give it to 'em.
- food preparation - since a big part of camping is food, why not let your little ones help in that too (if you're not going crazy by the time mealtime rolls around).  Put trail mix ingredients in a jar and have them shake it up, for example, or let them sprinkle salt and pepper on your potatoes before you wrap them in foil.

And, last but not least, something for the sweet dog ...
- check to make sure the site allows dogs.  This can be trickier than you'd think.
- bring documentation of rabies vaccination, even if the campground doesn't mention it on their website.  They may ask you for it.
- pack up the dog's food and water in your car when you're not at the site, even if you're just going down the hill to the bath house.  Nothing worse than squirrels finding their way into your tent ...


How to Camp in the Woods With Young Kids

I know people do this all the time.  We're really nothing special in the camping world.  But this past weekend was we hit a big milestone in the rhymeswithsmile family - our first camping trip with two kids!

We picked our spot (Taconic State Park in Copake Falls, NY), reserved a site, and loaded up the car.  By "loaded," I literally mean, loaded.  It was a tight squeeze, folks.  Our sweet pooch had a 1'x2' landing for the 60-mile trip.

Partially unpacked car.  The dog got half of the towel for the ride!
On a side note, the towel was also a diaper changing station.
It was a good trip though it started off with a rocky arrival.  We pulled in at dinner time, with an infant ready to nurse, a car to unpack, firewood to purchase, and a dinner to cook - on the coals of a fire that had to be lit with wood we had to purchase once we emptied the car of all the stuff that was in it so we could fit three bundles of wood in there.  One member of the family burst into tears immediately.  One began unpacking the car.  One sucked her thumb and fell asleep, and the other started putting rocks in her pocket.  I'll let you guess who was who.

I don't really have any recipes to share, because we ate typical camping food - foil dinners, pancakes from a mix, eggs and bacon, picnic lunch of summer sausage and cheese, and grilled bratwurst (yep, heavy on the meats).  But I do have a few tips to share for those out there who may find themselves camping with young kids (of the toddler variety and younger.)

Prepare - fires, tents, poles, camping stoves, and head lamps are cool gadgets for us adults.  But for a kid who's never been camping before, those things are scary.  Take some time in the days leading up to the trip to show your kids what you look like when you're wearing a head lamp (and assure them you're not putting on another eye).  Take them outside to roast marshmallows over a fire pit so they can see the flames.  Basically, don't assume that they have any idea what those things are for.  Set yourself up for success by introducing them to the gear and the activities ahead of time.

Here I would like to give a big shout out to my cousin Becky in DC.  The girls and I visited her last month, and on a simple walk around her neighborhood my potty-training toddler said she needed to go.  Yikes!  What does a mom do in the city when the girl says she can't hold it?  She asks Cousin Becky, nurse and former camp counselor, for help.  Becky came to the rescue and taught my firstborn how to pee in the grass - an accomplishment she was so excited about that it was the first thing she told her daddy when we skyped later that evening.  Turns out, that lesson was really a valuable one for camping in the woods.  Sure, we were close enough to the bath house that we could've run down there in a jiffy.  But what's camping if not a little extra practice for those skills that don't get used much?

Snacks - not just for the kids.  Pack enough snacks for every snacking member of the family to have two sustain-you-for-a-good-while snacks a day.  Because, dinner might be late, or it might rain when you're trying to pack up, or your toddler might need a distraction from the poison ivy that is surrounding the campsite.  Some of my favorite snacks to bring along are nuts, cheeses, avocados, crackers, dried fruits, granola, and beef jerky.

We are happy!  We have recently had snacks!
Divide and Conquer - This will probably get trickier for those who are camping with more than two kids, but the Mr. and I adopted the "you take one kid, I'll take the other" approach.  This is especially helpful when there is a copious amount of poison ivy around the majority of your campsite.  Someone needs to keep the toddler from picking pretty leaves and sharing them with mommy.  But it's also good at mealtime and those "perfect storm" moments when both kids are hungry and need a diaper change just as it's beginning to rain.  Talk about strategies with your co-camping adult before you go, if you can.

Lighten up - We had a discussion about this.  Seriously.  Because I was falling apart instead of enjoying this trip for what it was.  So what if our camping trips aren't what they used to be ... so what if I forgot to bring the potty seat and the kid has to go 4 times an hour ... so what if my infant screams at me every time I set her down.  We're not choosing to go camping because it's the easiest way to spend our weekend.  We're choosing to go camping because it's an activity that is important to our family and that grounds us in reality and beauty and reminds us of the joys and surprises of the created world.  The challenges will pass.  Really, what we will remember is that we did it.

I'm sure there are lots of other things that we have yet to learn about camping with kids.  So we're going to try a few more times in the coming summer months, and I'll be sure to share what I've learned.

Just a few more pictures of the camping adventures ...

If you've made it this far into the post, I figure you can take one more reminder to go enter my giveaway in honor of another milestone (300 posts!) that is open until tomorrow at 5 PM!


Rhymes with ... Style! (Featured Nursery)

Hey friends - two things for you to check out today ...

First, if you haven't had a chance to yet, you can leave me a little love for making it to 300 posts, and enter my giveaway going on now!

Then, share my excitement because today's my day!  I'm the featured style contributor and guest blogger over on Simply Baby Furniture's style blog.  So check them out to take a peek at and hear stories about the rhymes with smile nursery.

While you're looking around, don't forget to connect with these other great bloggers and designers who've been a part of the blog party ...

Little Black DoorElizabeth
Fancy Free Me-Elisa
ScrappyLove -Cindi and Emily
Vivid Hue Home- Heather

Happy Friday!


The 300th Post (and a giveaway)

This is it, folks ...

my 300th blog post!

Whether you've been along for the ride since the beginning, or are just now joining in ... I want to say thanks!  You've been excited with me, you've encouraged me, you've helped me through some challenges, and most of all, you are the reason I keep blogging!

As a little way to say thanks for sticking with me, I'm going to give away of one of two things ... you get to choose which you would like!

1. One of the most well-known cookbooks out there: The Joy of Cooking!  This book has it all, folks.  Seriously.  For a starting cook or a seasoned one, it'd be a great addition to any kitchen!


2. A handy-dandy PlanetWise reusable wet bag for cloth diapering (or summer adventures that may require transporting wet things like bathing suits!).  I keep one of these in the diaper bag at all times!

So, how to enter, you ask?

1. Follow the blog via Google Friend Connect and leave a comment saying so (if you're already a follower, leave a comment saying so) along with which prize you'd prefer

2. Blog about the giveaway and leave me a comment saying so, along with which prize you'd prefer

3.  Share a little love in the comments ... a favorite post, a recipe you've tried, something you'd like to see on the blog, or a fun shout-out ... and say which prize you'd prefer.

You can do all three to triple your chances to win!  And, make sure you tell me which one you hope to win!

Giveaway will be open until Thursday, May 23rd at 5 PM.


Upcoming excitement ...

Keep posted for a giveaway in the next couple of days to celebrate rhymes with smile's 300th blog post!  I'm really excited about the fact that I've made it this far (and impressed that you've stayed with me until now!)

Also ... drumroll please ... I am a featured guest on a style blog on Friday.  I'll share more details about that on, well, Friday.

And, on a final note, I'm really craving chicken salad these days.  That's how I know that spring is really here.  When I'm firmly seated in fall, I want gallons of soup.  When spring rolls around, I want chicken salad.  What can I say?  I'm a spring chicken (salad) (eater).


Park ... Picnic ... Party

It's Friday which means it's time for Simply Baby Furniture's blog party!  This week you can check out some lovely nursery designs from Heather at Vivid Hue Home.  Start your weekend off with a little inspiration, why don't ya ...


Cooks Illustrated Super Chunky Granola

Yield: about 9 cups

1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable oil
5 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
2 c. (10 oz) raw almonds, chopped coarse
2 c. raisins or other dried fruit, chopped

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk in oil.  Fold in oats and almonds until thoroughly coated.  Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into a thin, even layer (about 3/8" thick).  Using a stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact.  Bake until lightly browned, 40-45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking.  Remove granola from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size.  Stir in dried fruit.  Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (though it won't last that long - believe me!  You'll eat it before then).

I really love granola, and have experimented off and on with a number of different recipes.  Here are some conclusions I have come to over the years and over the recipes:
1. I like chunky granola
2. I like granola with variety - the more nuts, fruit, seeds, and grains in there, the better
3. I like it with just enough sweetness to cut the tang of plain yogurt
4. I prefer not having to stir it every 15 minutes for an hour or two ... I can't commit to that these days!

This recipe fulfills three out of four of those right away - the only thing it doesn't necessarily have is all the variety (but that can easily be remedied with substituting other chopped nuts or seeds for the almonds).

It's chunky.

You don't even have to stir it once, and if you forget to rotate the pan halfway through baking (like I forgot to yesterday) then there's no harm really.

It's got just the right about of sweetness in there, so that I feel like I'm getting something special for breakfast.

I've made this three times in the last month ... most recently I substituted almond extract for the vanilla (because that's what I had 4 teaspoons of) and I am crazy about the resulting flavor.  I've got dried cranberries, raisins, and dried cherries on hand.  All of them are delicious in this granola.

Let me know if you experiment with this recipe, and how you feel about the results!


just being honest

Sometimes, I'm in a groove.

The girls' routines overlap, relatively speaking.  I've got menus in mind for the week.  I make it out the door generally when I intend to, and am able to get at least a few productive things accomplished a week.

This has not been one of those weeks.

Ever since I returned from a 10-day trip down south, I have just not had it together!  I've told the Mister every single day for a week that I need to go to the grocery store.  And have I made my big grocery trip yet?  No.  I went on Saturday with a whole list in mind, and came out of the store with dog food and yogurt.  We currently have eggs, tomatoes, tortillas, and lettuce in the fridge.  There are just a limited number of creative things I can do with those ingredients.

We left for church 20 minutes early yesterday - 20 MINUTES! - and still got there 10 minutes late.  It's only half a mile away, and yes, we did walk ... but that means we were walking at a one-mile-per-hour pace.

Big Sister fell apart after lunch with friends.  She ASKED to go to bed at 6:30 last night after a her snack of grapes and pumpkin bread.  Baby Girl apparently cried for two hours straight from 3-5 AM (honestly, I didn't hear her until 5.  But the Mister did.  Sorry 'bout that ...)

There's something mysteriously sticky on the floor by our couch.  Have I cleaned it up?  No.  I am making a point of walking around it though.

Potty training is posing its own set of hurdles.  She gets it, but I'm not a fan of public restrooms.  Short of carrying a potty with us everywhere we go, I don't know how to get out of my house for long periods of time.

Even though we don't have much food in the fridge, something smells in there.  I can't quite figure it out.

But, you know, there are good things too ...
These two kids are just fascinating.  I really like them.
I went on a picnic with friends last week.
And the weather has been absolutely gorgeous.  Blue skies and mid-60s: dreamy.
Friends have had their babies.
I am wearing Chacos again.

I do need to make it to the grocery store, though.


Blog Party!

Cindi and Emily from ScrappyLoveBlog are today's Blog Party bloggers over at Simply Baby Furniture.
Simply Baby Furniture Blog Party
Stay tuned for a few more weeks to see what these other bloggers have to say about nursery style:

Vivid Hue Home- Heather
Rhymes with Smile- me!
Forever’s Like a Dream- Kelley
Little Black Door- Elizabeth
Fancy Free Me- Elisa
Design Post Daily- Beth

I will award some rhymeswithsmile points* to you if you can spot my tiny little debut in today's featured nursery!  

*rhymeswithsmile points are redeemable for hugs, or possibly food.  Really, I just made them up right now, to encourage you to go look at the blog party today.  But I'm willing to negotiate.


Two Recent Sewing Projects

Project Number 1: Baby quilt for a friend who just had her first child - a little boy!
Baby Boy Quilt
8 1/2" squares
Pieced Back for Baby Boy Quilt
All wrapped up and ready to go

Project Number 2: Simple picnic blanket (now that lovely weather has arrived!)

2 large squares of fabric - these measure 60"x60"
Place right sides together and pin.
Sew around all four sides, leaving a space to turn right side out.
Stitch around the entire blanket.
Ready for a picnic!


Orange Dreamsicle Cake Trifle

One of the desserts we had at the Cinco-de-Mayo fiesta-themed wedding shower for my friend B.  Nothing about this is particularly Mexican, except that the bright orange of the cake and green of the mint went with our color scheme!
Orange Dreamsicle Cake Trifle
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. oil
4 eggs
1 small box orange jello
1 small box vanilla instant pudding
1 box orange cake mix

Combine ingredients and beat for 3 minutes.  Put in a 9x13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool completely.  Cut into 2- to 3-inch squares.

8 ounces sour cream
1 medium can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups sugar
2 (6 ounce) packages frozen coconut

Mix together filling ingredients.  Reserve 1 cup for frosting.

1 cup reserved filling
8 ounces whipped cream

Mix together frosting ingredients.

To assemble trifle, in a large glass bowl place half of the cooled cake squares in a layer on the bottom.  Spoon in half the filling.  Top with the rest of the cake squares, then add the rest of the filling.  Finally, spread the frosting over the top.  Garnish with grated orange peel and fresh mint.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Trifle can be made up to one day in advance.