Saturday, June 29, 2013

Backyard Breakfast | GMa & GPa Style

When the grand kids are visiting, the weather is phenomenal, and you have a fire pit on the patio, what better way is there to start the day than with Betties? (These are "camping donuts," people!)
I can't wait to find out what's for lunch!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Things I Love Thursday // 6.27.13

• Embarking on our 3-week Oregon vacation

• Watching the girls play with their cousins

• My parents' backyard

• Frozen margaritas in my parents' backyard

• Amazon Prime

• When my kids randomly start speaking to me in Spanish

• This

• How well my kids travel

• And this

• The public library

• Sunshine without humidity

• Hunting for crawdads

• Dragonflies

• These 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Recipe Review | Grilled Citrus Chicken Rice Bowl

This is a perfect hot-weather dinner and so, so tasty! I found it in the June 2013 issue of Family Circle. The whole family loved it. We found it to be light, fresh, and crisp. The brown rice adds a nuttiness and great texture.

Grilled Citrus Chicken Rice Bowl
Makes 4 servings (400 calories per serving)
What you need:
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups cooked brown rice* (that's about 1 1/2 cups uncooked, to start)
1 cup baby arugula
1 cup carrot matchsticks
1/2 cup cucumber matchsticks
2 tablespoons chopped mint
What to do:
*Make your brown rice ahead of time (even the day before would be fine). Cook 1 1/2 cups rice with 3 cups of water. When the rice is done (but not too done--you want a little texture in it), drain the rice and rinse through with cold water to stop it from cooking further. When cooled, drain a final time.

In a medium bowl, whisk together orange juice, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, orange zest, 3/4 teaspoons of salt, the sugar, pepper and scallions.

Place chicken in a ziptop bag and add 3 tablespoons of the citrus dressing. Seal bag and shake to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Heat a gas or stovetop grill to medium-high. Remove chicken from marinade and discard bag. Grill chicken 7-8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Slice chicken thinly on the bias.

In a large salad bowl, combine rice, arugula, carrot, cucumber and mint. Toss with 4 tablespoons of the citrus dressing and season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Serve rice salad with sliced chicken and drizzle with remaining dressing.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Things I Love Thursday // 6.20.13

  • Enjoying my big brother and his beautiful family on our mini-vacation to the Carolina Coast.
  • My arms full of this baby: 
  • Everything about Fripp Island. Most notably, the warm Atlantic water, the silky white sand, the free-roaming deer, the Nature Center activities for families, the easy and relaxing atmosphere... 
  • Being introduced to She-Crab Soup.
  • How much my nephew reminds me of my brother at the same age.
  • My new arrow earrings and "love" ring (total steals!). 
  • The fact that my kids choose Mary Poppins time and time again.
  • Coming back to our house and having it feel like home.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day | Picnic in Freedom Park

What to do with a gorgeous Father's Day in North Carolina? Ride bikes to Freedom Park for a picnic lunch, of course! We just came off a terrific visit with our great friends from Oregon and are rounding out a fabulous weekend celebrating Mr. Jones, the best partner I could ever have hoped to land! Cheers to the other fathers out there who are choosing to parent. To paraphrase a sentiment I recently heard from Louis CK, "Be a dad. Don't be 'mom's assistant;' take it on. Have some of your own ideas about what your kids need. Spend time with them. Go ahead and make mistakes; they'll love you anyway--or maybe even more for it."

AND a few words for my own dad: While I didn't get to spend a lot of time with you growing up, you  loved me so unconditionally and with such affection, that I was preconditioned to choose a man as my husband who would also believe the sun rose and set with me. Your love, kindness, generous heart, quick smile, warm embrace, and clever smartassness have always been what I admire about you most. I look forward to drinking many beers with you in  less than two weeks! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Things I Love Thursday // 6.13.13

  • OMG. This video of P with Bobby Haskell. 

  • These Old Navy dresses that I ordered for the girls. They are simple and cute. The drop waist and pockets are just enough to make them fresh and fun. 
  • Hydrangeas. I've recently decided we need to plant some in the yard for next spring. They grow so well here and they even have pink ones! Adorable.
  • Iced Hazelnut Macchiatos 
  • Visitors. Yay! Sean and Gretchen Keys are on their way and I'm beyond excited. It's so nice to have friends coming to visit. MOSTLY because they are so fun and I miss them terribly. But also because it's great motivation to finish some of the half-done projects around here (pictures and posts coming soon).
  • Enjoying my girlies. 
  • New nail polish. My latest colors are OPI Gargantuan Green Grape, Color Club London Calling, and OPI Mimosas for Mr. & Mrs.
  • These sipping jars (with daisy lids). So cute with a paper straw! 
  • Children running and playing in the sprinklers (or the garden hose).
  • My new necklace. It's fun, well-made, and sentimental. I love it! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Home Transformation | Jonesie Gallery

This is the main part of our house where we gather as a family. It's a bit of an odd space, really... just off the kitchen on the way to the backyard. It's where we enter and exit the house daily, eat all of our meals, do homework, and use the computer. It is also the space I've chosen to celebrate the budding artists that live here. :) There are works represented on these walls that date back to 2007 and some that were created just a few months ago. They are all priceless to me.
G, Willamette Primary School, Kindergarten
P, Amiguitos Immersion School, Kindergarten
P, Amiguitos Immersion School, Age 4
"Heart" (or not?)
G, Amiguitos Immersion School, Age 5 
I couldn't help but give you a shot of this last painting turned upside-down. It's really all I can see whenever I look at the innocent heart that she created. Shame on me.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Recipe Review | Baked Kale

My family loves this healthy, simple snack. I make it about once a week and it couldn't be easier. The "chips" are light, crispy, and flavorful. I hope you try it. If your grocery store offers different varieties of kale, know that I typically used curly kale rather than Dino kale because the flavor is a bit milder and has a hint of sweetness.

Baked Kale
What you need:
4-6 stems of kale
about 1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste 
What to do:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Tear the kale away from the stems into bite-sized (or chip size) pieces
  • In a medium-sized bowl, toss kale pieces gently with olive oil, salt and pepper 
  • Layer your chips onto a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Things I Love Thursday // 6.6.13

  • Baked kale. I especially love that my girls love it!
  • Making summer plans
  • Watching this girl connect with new friends
  • The days when my husband returns from a trip
  • These words of Walt Whitman, "Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you."
  • Prepping future crock pot meals
  • Writing out silly jokes and riddles and putting them into the girls' lunch boxes 
  • A full wine rack... And then depleting the wine rack... And then filling it up again... (and so on)
  • Supreme Silliness 
  • Baz Luhrmann's vision/depiction/cinematic execution of The Great Gatsby
  • The Great Gatsby soundtrack
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby 
  • These shorts from J. Crew that shout, "It's SUMMERTIME, Yo!"
  • This interview segment of Kristen Bell on Ellen (Maybe in part because I too love sloths--though clearly not as much as KB does.) 
  • Fancy hairdos 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Recipe Review | Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight

This one really is a crowd-pleaser. What's not to love (besides the calories)? But we all need to pig out indulge every once in awhile... 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight (via taste of home)
What you need:
1 tube (16.5 ounces) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
3 cups cold 2% milk
1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
chopped nuts and chocolate curls, optional
What to do:
  1. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften. Press into an ungreased 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes until golden-brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in 1 3/4 cups whipped topping. Spread over crust.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes. Spread over cream cheese layer. Top with remaining whipped topping. Sprinkle with nuts and chocolate curls if desired.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight until firm.

Thoughts and tips:
  • I have yet to find a 12-ounce carton of whipped topping. My grocery store only carries 8-ounce and JUMBO cartons. I buy 2 8-ounce cartons and hope to have half of one left over when I'm finished.
  • I find that in buying the flat package of pre-portioned ("makes 24") cookie dough, as opposed to the tube, I have an easier time spreading it evenly on the bottom of my baking pan. It's a very thin layer that rises and "fills out" as it bakes. AND keep your eye on it! If you overcook the crust then every slice of your creation is going to be tinged with that burnt cookie flavor (and you can't scrape the burnt edges off this sucker).
  • I only ever have 1% milk in the house and it works just fine.
  • If the kids you're around are anything like the ones I'm most often around, then skip the nuts and just put some chocolate on top for the garnish. Left plain, the dessert doesn't look very tempting. In the past, I've used chocolate chips and I've grated Hershey's kisses (that's what I had on-hand) over the whipped topping. You could also use chocolate sprinkles (or anything else like that).
  • You really DO need to make this in advance and let it chill for the 8 hours (or overnight); however, take it out of the refrigerator about 30-60 minutes before you're going to serve it. The flavors are more pronounced when it's not too cold.
  • Let your kids help! And let them lick the utensils when you're done using them.
  • And lastly, don't take food pictures with a green-tinted lens; save that shit for all the pictures you snap of leprechauns.