Monday, July 27, 2015

House Remodel - The Girls' Rooms

After being in our house for a little more than a year (we bought it in May 2014), we are finally nearing the end of the inside remodel!  To the point where I can finally start posting some photos!  Bear in mind that there are still lots of projects that need to happen in almost every room - we don't have any closet doors, there are nail holes to be filled and trim to be caulked, blinds need to be installed, etc.  But things are feeling more or less done now so yippee!
 
Anyway, for starters I have pictures of the girls' rooms.  We love how they turned out. 




Here are a couple of before pictures from Rose's room.  I can hardly believe how little Clara was just a year ago!



This was texturing Rose's closet.  It's the only texturing I did in the house so, you know, props to me.  All I can say is that Paul is a champ for doing all the work that he has done to make our house look as nice as it does.

 
These aren't of the house as much as just cute shots of the girls playing together while I was taking pictures of their rooms.
 









And here are some before pictures of Clara's room.




And one "in progress" photo.


And now the after photos.





Hopefully in the next few days I will get the kitchen properly cleaned and take photos so I can finally post about our kitchen remodel!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Whole30

After hearing about this Whole30 thing from a couple of friends who have done it (thanks Carrie and Rachel!), Paul and I jumped on the bandwagon and are now on Day 9.  Whole30 is basically a "nutritional reset" (not a cleanse or even a diet - you don't restrict caloric intake or avoid fats) but it is more of a Paleo approach with some variations like you can't have any form of sugar (like honey) or treats during your Whole30.  It's 30 days of just meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts but no dairy, grains, legumes, or sugar (in any form except what you get in fruit). 
 
Honestly, I laughed when I first thought of ever even attempting it.  Because seriously how can a person live without bread or milk or cheese or chocolate chip cookies?!  You would have to be crazy to even want to do that!  Which apparently we are, because after some thought and with Paul expressing interest in it, I started doing some planning and realized that it wouldn't (or theoretically shouldn't) be all that hard to follow the Whole30 rules for 30 days. 
 
One of the concepts behind the program is to eliminate the biggest food troublemakers and figure out how different food groups affect your body.  Like dairy causes stomach trouble for some people and there is some background of this in Paul's family.  But it takes a while of being completely off dairy to understand how it truly affects you (just a few days of no dairy isn't enough apparently). So going 30 days with no milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, sour cream, etc. gives your body a chance to reset.  Then afterwards, you are supposed to reintroduce the food groups that have been eliminated in a systematic approach to see how it affects your system.  Whole30 doesn't say dairy or grains or legumes are bad - just that they affect people differently and this is a chance to see how it affects you and helps you determine whether eating less (or none) of a particular food improves overall health.
 
Another big reason Paul and I are doing Whole30 is because of the sugar thing, as well as general eating habits thing (like snacking out of boredom or habit or stress - I totally self-soothe with food which is bad, bad, bad).  We are seriously, embarrassingly so terrible about this.  Whole30 doesn't allow for any cheats or any exceptions.  If you "mess up", then you "reset" your 30 days and start over.  And you can't do fake versions of things like pancakes made with eggs and bananas or brownies made with beans and applesauce and whatever to make "healthy" versions of favorite treats.  Whole30 approaches it like a mindset that if you take your 30 days just thinking about the foods are missing and trying to replicate them that you won't change your habits and go back to the same stuff afterwards.  And it sees like a valid point to me and makes a lot of sense based on my past experiences. 
 
Anyway, I planned the heck out of this thing and prepared a calendar with a start and end date with 30 days filled in of breakfast, lunches, and dinners, cross-referenced to the recipes I planned to use (there are so many resources for compliant recipes available online that finding recipes or meal ideas wasn't a problem at all but if you are ever thinking of doing a Whole30 yourself you are welcome to email me and I can send you our plan and recipes).  Then I made a shopping list and stocked up on what we would need.  Another thing about Whole30 is that you can't use any products that have any non-compliant ingredients, which has made me VERY aware of how basically EVERYTHING has sugar in it unless you make it yourself.  So I have made homemade bbq sauce (only so-so - I will just buy the real stuff that has some sweetness after Whole30), mayo (actually quite delicious and I might keep making it for the occasions when I use mayo after Whole30), and ranch dressing (with added cilantro and balancing the garlic ratio this is a work in progress).
 
Things that are compliant (but sometimes not as easy to find) were mustard, bacon (Costco low-sodium bacon works and so does a brand I found at Sprouts that was not carried at Whole Foods or Trader Joes), dill pickles (at Trader Joes or Whole Foods), sausages (Aidells makes a Chicken & Apple Sausage and a Roasted Red Pepper one that are compliant), hot dogs (Applegate Farms brand), almond milk (none of the major brands are compliant but Sprouts carries its own brand that is compliant), salsa, guacamole (wholly guacamole at Costco - its easy enough to make it at home but I love Wholly Guacamole and was already buying it before Whole30), plaintain chips (Trader Joe's), and some Lara Bars (pecan pie is my favorite so far and Paul likes the apple pie one - they aren't amazing but are nice to have in my purse in case I get stuck out and about and am starving and forgot to bring anything else). 
 
Anyway, here are some pictures and recipes for just some of the meals we have made so far.
 
Taco Salad - amazing.  I might even have liked it better than the regular taco salad I used to make with Thousand Island dressing and Nacho Cheese Doritos.  It is just mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, diced avocado, chopped green onions, guacamole, salsa, taco meat, and homemade cilantro ranch dressing.
 
 
Here is the recipe for the taco meat (I may never go back to the McCormick taco seasoning again):
 
2 lbs. ground beef
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
 
Brown the ground beef in a large pan.  Drain excess fat.  Add tomato paste, water and spices and stir to mix them in.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes then use for tacos, nachos, or taco salad.  This can also be made in a slow cooker by adding the beef, tomato paste and spices to the slow cooker and using a spoon to mix up the ingredients and break up the meat. Cook on low for 4 hours. Break up the meat some more. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the slow cooker and serve!  Adapted very slightly from a recipe found here

Easily my other favorite meal that we have made was grilled salmon steaks with crispy smashed red potatoes and steamed broccoli.  The potatoes are from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook and the leftovers make great country potatoes for breakfast.  The salmon steaks were seasoned with coarse sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and about 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala each, then grilled about 3-4 minutes on each side until mostly opaque and just barely pink in the middle.  They were AMAZING.  Seriously.
 

For breakfast we have done a lot of egg scrambles but one thing I really loved was a bowl of "paleo cereal".  I just toasted a handful of almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts, then coarsely chopped them and threw them in a bowl with a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut flakes, half a sliced banana, a handful of blueberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and some almond milk.  And it was absolutely delicious.  I'm planning on trying a version this week with pecans and diced apples.


This Chicken Avocado Lime Soup was PHENOMENAL.  So full of flavor.  So satisfying.  Its another recipe that I will be making again post Whole30.

1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped green onions
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced (leave seeds if you want soup spicy, omit if you don’t like the heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 (14.5 oz.) cans low-sodium chicken broth
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3-4 radishes, sliced into thin discs
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 medium avocados, peeled, cored and diced
Tortilla chips, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream for serving (omit for Whole30 and frankly, I didn't even miss them and probably wouldn't add them even if I wasn't doing Whole30)

In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add green onions and jalapenos and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic during last 30 seconds of sautéing.  Add chicken broth, tomatoes, cumin and season with salt and pepper to taste and add chicken breasts.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium.  Cover with lid and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken has cooked through (10-15 minutes).  Reduce burner to warm heat, remove chicken from pan, and let rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before shredding the chicken and returning it to the soup.  Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.  Add avocados to the soup just before serving or just add about ½ a chopped avocado to each bowl and pour a serving of soup over it just prior to serving.
 
Original recipe found here.



Panang Curry Salmon - Paul says this is probably his favorite way I have ever prepared salmon.  We love salmon and eat it a lot, even before Whole30.  This recipe is on my tastebook page.  So is a recipe for Cinnamon Salmon that I got from my friend Lisa that is also delicious and would be compliant if you use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce (supposedly they taste the same but soy and any soy products are off limits for Whole30).  And that is cauliflower "rice" on the side, which was not bad at all.  I already love cauliflower but Paul HATES it.  Like almost as much as I hate cooked carrots.  But he was totally down with the cauliflower rice and said he would have no trouble eating it again in the future.


Breakfast - delicious country potatoes, scrambled eggs, compliant bacon, and fresh fruit.  The baked pear was an experiment and it turned out bland. 

 
Hamburgers with garlic aioli and avocado.  We just did them on really delicious butter lettuce but next time might try using portabello mushroom "buns".  The roasted potato "fries" were delicious. 
 
Roasted Potato Fries
 
1 large russet potato, cut into wedges or sticks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
 
Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss potatoes in olive oil to coat, then sprinkle with spices and toss again.  Spread evenly over a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, turning at least once during the process.  We tripled the recipe and had enough leftovers for country potatoes for breakfast.
 
 
Lots of variations on breakfast scrambles or casseroles.  This one had grated potato in it and was quite good.  I like these because they are a good way to get in lots of vegetables and you can throw in pretty much whatever you want.  Plus, if I make one with 10 or 12 eggs in a large 9x13 dish, I can have leftovers so I am not having to cook breakfast every morning and Paul can take it on the train to work.  I made one with lots of mushrooms, diced onions, and homemade pizza sauce on top with lots of fresh basil in it and it was sort of pizza-ish.  Not so much that it felt like pizza or would ever replace pizza but it was kind of a good change for breakfast.
 

Lots of hard boiled eggs, deli meat, and plaintain chips with salsa for lunch because it is easy and fast and I can take it with me on a picnic or to the zoo or whatever it is I am doing with the girls.


The smoker and the grill have been my friend during his because they add so much flavor.  We did smoked bbq chicken thighs with grilled vegetables and watermelon.  The grilled asparagus was to die for.


Eggs in a nest.  Shredded sweet potato and apple cups with an egg baked inside and topped with chives and bacon.  It wasn't like my favorite breakfast but it was cute and fun and with some tweaking I might like it better.  The recipe said to cook the potatoes and apple in coconut oil but I didn't like the coconutty flavor with the other ingredients so next time I might use ghee and a russet potato in place of coconut oil and a sweet potato.


Potato salad.  This was just randomly thrown together when I realized I had hard boiled eggs, homemade mayo, pickles, and leftover potatoes I wanted to use up.  I should have added some bacon to it and maybe some green onions, but it would not be embarrassing at all to take this to a summer bbq.


Grilled steak salad with fajita vegetables.


Homemade sausage patties with a fried egg and fruit.  These were another experiment and they only turned out so-so.


Smoked bbq pulled pork over a baked sweet potato with pineapple coleslaw.  Honestly, I am not a fan of sweet potatoes.  I haven't yet found a form of them that I like.  But that doesn't mean I can't eat them every now and then.  The smoked pulled pork was delicious but it took FOREVER on the smoker (it was our first time smoking a pork butt).  Also, I like my bbq with a bit of sweetness and was missing the brown sugar that would have really made these wonderful.  And that buttered and toasted bun to make it into a pulled pork sandwich instead of over a boring sweet potato.  Oh well, for what we are trying to do with Whole30, this was a very satisfying meal.


I don't have a picture, but it turns out almond butter with bananas is delicious, which is saying something because I don't even like bananas OR almond butter.  But the two together really work!  Although Paul prefers it with apples.
 
Anyway, that's all I've got about Whole30 for now.  We'll see how the next few weeks go but I'm not anticipating having any trouble with it.  In fact, I think we are almost through the hardest days and we are both feeling really good.  Paul has even had to navigate a couple of dining out experiences at restaurants in the city for work lunches and found out that the partner he was with at one of these lunches did a Whole30 in January, which was encouraging.  It has been a fun challenge to undertake together.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Clara's Broken Clavicle

On Monday when I went to pick up the girls from the Kids Club at the gym after my workout, Clara was sitting coloring at a table and one of the childcare workers started telling me how Clara had been playing on some low platforms, jumping from one to the next like lilypads (they were about 6 to 10 inches off the ground) and had missed her footing and landed on her shoulder.  They said that she had cried about it a bit but they had given her an ice pack to make it feel better and nothing looked swollen and she calmed down so they didn't come get me.  But as Clara walked over and heard them retelling the story of the accident her eyes started welling up again and she pointed right to her collarbone and told me that it hurt.  I got the girls out to the car and started loading them into their carseats and could immediately tell that Clara was majorly favoring her right arm, and when I buckled her in she started crying even more because the jostling and adjusting of her arm and shoulder into the harness hurt her even more. 
 
So as soon as we got home I carefully slid off her shirt as best I could so I could really get a good look at her shoulder and figure out what to do.  Through all of this Clara was a little trooper.  She whimpered and tears rolled down her cheeks, but she was pretty brave about the whole thing and I felt all around the shoulder joint, first thinking that maybe she had dislocated something.  But I couldn't see any bruising or swelling or anything at all really and the only place that Clara identified pain in was on her collarbone.  The only thing I could physically see was that her right shoulder was hanging lower than her left shoulder, so at that point I was pretty sure we were dealing with something like a fracture.  I called Kaiser and got the last appointment of the day with Urgent Care, which was lucky because otherwise we would have had to wait until the next morning to see somebody about it.  So while we waited for her 3:00 appointment, Rose took a nap and Clara and I watched Wild Kratts and I showed her pictures of x-rays and explained how they worked. 
 
Sure enough, after an initial exam followed by an x-ray to confirm, we learned that Clara had a broken right clavicle.  Poor little thing.  She was cheerful throughout the process though and was such a good sport, even though she was obviously sad that something in her body was "broken".  Mostly she was afraid that it would be something that couldn't be fixed, I think.  Now she has to wear a sling for a few weeks and has to miss out on gymnastics and swimming lessons.  Which was hard for her this morning when she could only sit on the side and watch Rose participate in her gymnastics class and wasn't able to go join her own class that practices at the same time.  Her coach and class members came over to say hi and see what happened, which was sweet.  The break doesn't seem to bother her too much unless she moves her arm too much and then she gets this sad, teary frown.  She keeps saying that she only has to use the sling for 3 days and I have to correct her to say it is for 3 weeks, which I can tell she is still trying to wrap her mind around.  3 weeks must seem like an eternity when you are 4 years old.


We had to give this form to the nurse when they came to call Clara's name and I spent the time entertaining Clara by "reading" the instructions and making things up like "please be sure that Clara gets some medicine to make her arm feel better.  She needs to eat lots of candy so her arm won't fall off..." and other ridiculous nonsense like that.  Clara loved it and eventually took the letter from me and came up with increasingly silly prescriptions like needing to smell dirty laundry, etc. 
 
She was very brave and listened well to the directions when getting the x-ray taken.  Also, the doctor commented on how intelligent Clara is because he tried to trick her a few times about where the pain might be but she was very specific and was never confused about what was wrong with her body and he said that is unusual in someone her age. 



When I wasn't distracting her, she would start to get a little nervous or sad, but if I told her stories or silly jokes, she would perk up and smile again.


Dr. Rose did her own diagnosis while we were waiting.


I think the x-ray is pretty straight forward - there is a definite break in her clavicle where it snapped when she landed on her shoulder wrong.

 
She has to wear her sling all day, except for at night when she can take it off to go to bed.  So far, she hasn't had too many complaints about it.
 

Poor little miss.  But really she is doing great and you would hardly know she has a broken collarbone except for the way she is cautious with that arm.  We have been singing "Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed" and talking about that because she is constantly jumping off couches and beds and rocks and basically anything and it finally seems like that lesson might stick.  I also think that Clara is a little pleased with the attention the sling is getting too because she has told the story of her fall to multiple adults now, somberly including all the important details about where and how the fracture happened and using new vocabulary words like collarbone and sling.
 
This is the first broken bone in our family (neither Paul or I have even broken anything) and hopefully it will be the last.

Friday, July 17, 2015

4th of July and the rest of the holiday

I'm going to jump around a little bit but I wanted to start this post catching up on the rest of our 4th of July holiday in Utah by sharing these pictures we took of the seven Casebolt Granddaughters (all girls!) a few days after Independence Day when we were at my parents' house.  It was tricky getting a good picture of all the girls together but they looked so darling in their patriotic attire and were all such good sports, even the 3-month old twins Kaitlyn and Brigitte (I can't tell which is which from these photos - Jennie will have to comment and let me know so I can update the post).  From left to right (Lily - 3, Rose - 17 months, Brigitte? - 3 months, Emma - 5 1/2, Adelaide - 2, Kaitlyn? - 3 months, and Clara - 4).  Also photobombing in the back right corner of the photo is Grandpa Russ who I cropped out as best I could, lol.
 

Best I could get of Clara and Rose together.  This was toward the end of the photoshoot and they were both ready to be done I think.  But these are my favorite 4th of July outfits ever.



Grandpa & Grandma's garden was the perfect setting for our little Rose who is growing so fast.



Clara really hammed it up and gave me pose after pose after pose when I was taking her pictures.






We also took a family picture at Paul's parents' house on their lawn on the actual 4th of July.  Everybody was there except Paul's older brother Bobby.

 
On the morning of the 4th we drove to Midway to go swimming at the Zermatt resort.  The girls absolutely LOVE swimming and had such a great time.  The girls loved jumping into the pool and being thrown back and forth between me and Paul.
 

Clara has the most epic jumping technique.  Dave's wife, Deborah, took all of these photos and sent them to me afterwards and I love having them.

 
 
 

I brought a plastic container filled with plastic balls from a ball pit at Bob & Donna's house to play a game we do at Rose's swimming lessons each week where you invert the container over the water and push it down, trapping the air and balls inside, then quickly flip it over underwater so the balls burble up and pop out every which way.  Then we "swim" the girls around to collect the balls and put them back in the container.  It was a huge hit, not just with our girls but all the other kids at the pool who ended up asking to play with a few balls and sharing with us.
 












At one point we attempted to toss the girls at the same time.  Our aim and timing were a little off but the girls both came up laughing despite Clara's crashdown in the pictures below.






At my parents' house, my mom took the girls downstairs and pulled out some of her teaching materials to entertain the girls with songs about the letters of the alphabet.


Rose and Adelaide became best frenemies.  They would chase each other around and around laughing and squealing and having the best time all morning and then in the afternoon they would be fighting over something or another.  But mostly it was love between them.


Clara adored the twins and liked to get down close to them and sing them songs.


We went to the Ogden Treehouse Museum with the girls and had a great time.  There were so many fun and interesting exhibits to explore and we didn't even see all of it.  We easily could have spent a lot more time there except for the little gals needing naps.



I took this picture of Clara pretending to sleep under an animal skin in a yurt in the Mongolia section.





The kids could actually "milk" this cow.  It had water that came out of the udders into a bucket below.



Rose had a meeting with President Lily in the Oval Office.


And Clara spent the afternoon signing executive orders.


But what the girls really and truly loved was working in the nursery taking care of the newborns.




Clara helped Grandpa Russ shell peas from the pods.  She ate at least as many as she put in the bowl.


One afternoon my mom and Jennie went shopping and took the twins so I just had the five older girls.  I pulled out the plastic swimming pool and the girls had fun playing in the water.


And sunning themselves on the patio until it got really overcast and started to sprinkle.



It was Farmington Days the weekend after the 4th of July so we went to the parade   It was fun and the girls had some true Utah experiences.


Like seeing missionaries riding a tandem bicycle in the parade.


And watching a handcart and pioneers.


And eating Fat Boys that were tossed out to the crowd (so much better than the saltwater taffy which was 90% of the candy that was thrown).




And watching a high school marching band perform.






Uncle Ryan helped Clara collect candy.  She made a huge haul.


Unfortunately our visit ended with a trip to Urgent Care for Rose when she woke up from her Sunday nap with a terrible fever that reached 104.5.  She had to have a catheter to check for a UTI but ultimately the results were negative so it must have just been some weird viral thing.  She was pretty miserable for a day but did much better the next morning on our drive home.