Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Friday, September 30, 2011

True Love

Yesterday as I was baking in the kitchen, I heard precious baby in the living room fussing.  When I finished was I was doing, I went in to get him and put him down for his nap.  I found him sitting in his daddy's lap.  His hair was wet so I thought, and even said, "Oh, he's sweating."  Jonathan corrected me, and I looked up to see tears running down his face.

As I rocked and nursed sleepy baby, I sat stroking his wet, salty hair and thanking God for that one-of-a-kind man.  I thank God for tears which my husband doesn't hold back as he is overwhelmed with love for his son.  Jonathan's heart is so deep and complex, I know I am just scratching the surface of understanding it after three years of knowing him.  He is a challenge to me.  He is a comfort to me.  He is an exceptional father.  Undoubtedly, Kyle will love him more and more as he grows and learns what a godly man he can call Dad.

Real men cry.  I married a real man.  

How am I so blessed to live with these two?


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Don's Seasoning Delight

I was first introduced to this liquid seasoning when I started working for Donna Wesby at The Greatest Gift.  We sold a ton of it because her husband, Don, created it.  I remember people calling from out of state to have us ship them cases of it.  However, if you live nearby, you can find it in Kroger, Food Lion, and Bi-Lo to name a few.  I bought mine in Kroger on a rack in the center aisle beside the meat cases.  

Personally, I like the spicy best.  It's really not that spicy and I think it packs a bigger punch than the original.  While you're deciding which size to buy (pint, quart or half gallon), be sure to check the label for original or spicy.  If you're a chicken and don't want to take my word for it, why not try the original first?  If you like that, and I'm sure you will, you can go back and get the spicy. 

My favorite thing about Don's Seasoning is that it contains no MSG.  So many seasonings today are full of MSG. Sure, they taste good.  But, too much of it can give you a headache or even make you sick to your stomach.  DSD is a perfect mixture of soy sauce and spices and creates a delicious seasoning for meats, vegetables and rice.

If you are wondering how you'll use it, let me share with you my favorite method.... And it's so easy, I don't even know how to make it interesting.  So, I'm not even going to try.

Spicy Green Beans

I put frozen green beans into a pot.  Shake DSD over the beans until I am satisfied that there's enough liquid in the pot to cook them in.  Cover with a lid and simmer slowly on low heat while I cook the rest of dinner.

Serve with barbeque meatloaf and loaded baked potatoes.  Yum!

You can find other recipes on the DSD website.  Also, for any of you out-of-towners, you can place an order through the website as well.  I highly suggest you try it, because it's just that good.  And it's inexpensive so what do you have to lose?  Let me know what you think!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mommy Made

I wanted to make Kyle's baby food from scratch because it is healthier and cheaper than the stuff you buy in the stores.  Granted, I'm sure I'll still feed him a jar of Gerber in a pinch, but for the majority of his food, I'd like him to enjoy freshly cooked fruits, veggies and meats.  Mr. Baby deserves only the best and I intend to give him just that.  Plus, it's fun and I love to cook.

Before I go any further, I already know what all you seasoned mommies are thinking; "Ha! First child. She'll be buying cases of baby food by the time the next one (or four) come along!" Well, by the time number five comes along, I plan to be such a pro at baby food making, it will come as naturally as putting a pot of water on to boil.  Of course, as with many aspects of my life, much will depend on my living situation in coming years.  But, I hope to have the cooking resources to make food for all my little ducklings.

Hoping he would still be out in the middle of September, I headed straight for my favorite roadside peach vender early last week and purchased a peck and a half of those delicious, juicy things.  It was a sad farewell, as I have frequented his little spot throughout the summer and thoroughly enjoyed fresh peach on my cereal every morning.  Along with savoring a few more mornings full of cereal splendor, I plan to use some of the peaches to make Kyle peach baby food for this fall and winter.  Likely I will use this as a sweet treat every once in a while so that he doesn't eat all his summer peaches too quickly.  In addition, I will peel and slice a few peaches for myself, to freeze and pop out occasionally for a reminiscent moment of summer.  Here they are hard at work ripening to perfection on my kitchen counter:

In addition, I grabbed some squash, sweet potatoes and carrots while I was out so I could have a whole baby food cooking day in my lovely kitchen.  Little Baby Saint will be eating good this fall without a doubt.  I can hardly wait to feed him these fruits and veggies prepared with much love.

Certainly a cooking spree calls for an apron.  For baby food making day, I'm donning this one which my mother in law love made me for Christmas a couple years ago.  It hangs in my laundry closet and I do enjoy wearing it ever so much.

Alright, now that I'm dressed for the occasion, I can begin.  

Oh wait, I'm still caring for a (mobile) baby.  Stop and check on him....

Ok, he is harmlessly playing with his car seat.  I can proceed.

For the recipes I used a book which a friend suggested to me.  It's called Mommy Made and Daddy, too!;  I bought it used on Amazon for nearly nothing and like it a lot!  Making fruit and vegetable purees doesn't exactly call for a science book, but there are other great recipes for combination foods once Kyle is a bit older.  In any case, I used the recipe for this one.  Well, sort of;  about as much as I follow any recipe.  It called for butternut squash.  But, I couldn't find that at Aldi, so I used summer squash instead.....  First I put the squash on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and pierced it a few times with a fork.  After it had baked for nearly an hour, with one flop in the middle, I took it out of the oven and sliced it in half to let it cool.  

Scraping the seeds was therapeutic for some reason and I enjoyed it.  Peeling the skin off, however, wasn't quite so fun and took a little more work than the recipe let on.  Maybe it's because I didn't use the correct kind of squash.  No problem, I just spent an extra minute on peeling.  In the blender it went and I had to add a bit of h2o to the pulp to get a smooth consistency.


Gotta go check on sweet baby and see if he's awake from his morning nap.

And he is..... Just laying in his crib swinging his sock monkey around and talking to himself.  Good boy.

Can't get back to the cooking just yet, since it is now lunch time.

Roll up baby sleeves and get right to business.  Yum - oatmeal with bananas.  Just wait until you taste these delicious treats Mommy is cooking up for you.

Now that Kyle is fed and happy, he can play while I get back to work.

On to the carrots........

Into a steamer basket they go above a small amount of water.  Secure the lid and steam for 10-12 minutes, replenishing water as needed.

Blend with as much cooking water as needed to achieve desired consistency. 

Stop to see what kind of trouble sugar baby is getting into.....

"Just sunbathin' Mom, don't worry about me....."

Okay. Back to the matter at hand.

Fill an ice cube tray with blended vegetables and freeze.  Once frozen, you can pop them out and freeze them in snack size zip-lock bags in sets of three or four.  At dinner time, I'll just grab a cube and thaw it in a dish sitting in warm water.  Or, if I plan ahead, I'll thaw the next days fruits and veggies in the fridge the night before. 

Does it get any easier than this?


Just Peachy:

In the cookbook there was a nifty suggestion for how to easily peel the peaches by submerging them in boiling water for a minute beforehand.  I was too lazy eager to get started, I skipped that part.  Maybe it would've paid off in the end and made peeling fifteen peaches go a bit quicker (yes, I only did half the peaches I bought, and I still ended up with a TON of peach puree).  Nevertheless, I enjoyed peeling them at my kitchen sink with the window open and the breeze blowing in......

......And watching my pretty blue bowl fill up with yumminess.

You steam the peaches the same way you do the carrots, only these are done within two to four minutes.
(Notice my lit candle in the background.  It was a gifty wifty from my mommy because she knows how I love love love fall.)

Go back to check on Rolly Polly before blending the peaches.

Find him trying to make a break for it.  Once I'm sure he can't reach the doorknob, I make my way back to the kitchen.

This container holds fourteen cups.  I'd say I've got around ten cups here.  Tons of baby peaches.  And plenty of frozen peaches for Mommy or for making more baby peaches later.

I won't bore you with the sweet potatoes.  They are prepared almost exactly like the squash.  Sadly, I can't add brown sugar and pecans just yet, but hopefully he will like them plain.

And that, my friends, is how mommy makes baby food.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wake Up and Smell the Wilber

I found this breakfast casserole in an old cookbook of my mama's and it looked entirely too simple and yummy not to give it a try!  I just caught a big whiff of it on the tails of a breeze coming from my kitchen and out my open living room windows; It is smelling scrumptious and I can't wait to taste it!

After our walk last evening, I whipped this up right before bed.  Browning the sausage was the most time consuming part, but in total it couldn't have taken me more than ten minutes.  It spent the night in my fridge and I popped it in the oven this morning as soon as I got myself out of the bed.  I would've certainly stayed there even longer this morning if it weren't for a precious baby flailing his arms and smacking me in the head.  I guess that was his cue that he was ready to go play.  Rolling is his new favorite activity and he promptly got into some trouble as soon as I laid him down on the living room floor.

"Hmm, these bench legs are nice to play with, but Daddy's guitar looks even more exciting!"

"Being mischievous is exhausting."

"Ahh, I got it. Such fun!"

It is so easy to get distracted by baby cuteness. Ok, back to breakfast.

Brown the sausage and drain.  My sausage didn't give off enough fat to bother with draining, so I just left it.

Slice the bread into cubes.  Or, you can just tear it like I did.  I needed to get rid of some bread so I used more than two pieces.  

Top bread with sausage then pour egg and milk mixture over the whole thing.

Adorn with cheese till it's orange on top.  I photographed midway so you could see the yumminess underneath.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~
1lb breakfast sausage, browned and drained
6 eggs
2+ slices of bread
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
lots of cheddar cheese
~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Arrange bread in greased baking dish.  Spread sausage evenly on top of bread.  Beat eggs, milk, salt, ground mustard and pour over bread and sausage.  Layer cheese on top.  Refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until bubbly and eggs have set.

Plate and serve to your adoring husband.  Or kids.  Or eat it all yourself.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, September 16, 2011

Wonderful Weekend

After dinner tonight, we packed our little family up and went over to my parents' to use their neighborhood for a little stroll.  Our little apartment complex has no place to walk so we have to make the long trek over yonder to Lollee and Pops.  On this blistery September evening here in the good old south, where it never got out of the 60's all day, it is only fitting that we wear real shoes.  Since we usually wear flip flops on Thanksgiving (and Christmas), I'll enjoy this opportunity while it lasts.  It will be short lived, however, because the forecast says that it will warm back up by Monday.  Oh well.  Kyle's shoes are too cute for words, so here is a picture instead.

Sleepy red baby eyes, since it was nearing bedtime by the time we rounded up Lollee, Pops, Aunt Maggie, Uncle Caleb and Aunt Bella & started walking.  But, still smiling!

"Let's go, mom!  Enough pictures!"

I love fall.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

A couple weeks ago, we drove over to Alabama to my birth place of Decatur and spend the night with my aunt.  The next morning we met up with Dad St.Clair, Charity, Christopher and Melody on their way back down to Pensacola for a new school year.  It was supposed to be a surprise, but since the Saints are always surprising, everyone is always anticipating one.  They knew their normal route from Missouri down to Florida didn't go through Alabama, and they also knew that I have an aunt in Decatur.  Charity began to catch on the night before we met up.  Nevertheless, they were surprised to actually find that their suspicions were correct.  We ate breakfast together, caravanned over to Birmingham and lunched there together as well.  They were in a hurry to get back to school, since all three "kids" (as they are affectionately called by the rest of the family, although two of the three are older than I am) needed to attend an RA meeting that evening.  So, after lunch we parted and went our separate ways.  As always, we didn't have nearly enough time together, but we are so glad that the twins got to meet Kyle.  We are all looking forward to Christmas, when we'll have more than a few hours to spend catching up.  Because time was so short, I put the camera away after the initial meeting.  Here are the few photos I got.

Can't you just hear Charity saying, "I knew it!"?

It's really sad the lack of attention he suffers.

Uncle Christopher with Kyle, who is slightly more interested in PaPa's Dr. Pepper can.

"I love my family!"


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Lotion Time

Every night, before I climb into my exquisite bed, I pump my most fancied lotion, begin rubbing it between my freshly washed hands, look at my husband and say, "happy lotion time."  After nearly a year of this routine, he typically ignores my silly announcement.  Occasionally, he rolls his eyes and smirks.  Regardless, I still enjoy it ever so much and delight in mentioning it to him.

This lotion is so special, I thought I would introduce you to it through a story.  A fairy tale of sorts......

Once upon a time there was a princess and she was the fairest, fairest of them all.

Okay, okay, I know I'm getting a little carried away already, but it's my fairy tale....

She was recently married to the prince, the handsomest in all the kingdom, and together they had the idea to go on an overnight excursion to the faraway land of St. Louis.  The princess had a weakness for nice hotels in big cities.  For this last minute escape, they found a room at the Hilton in downtown St. Louis for a reasonable price thanks to Priceline.  While the level-headed prince could not quite identify with how badly the princess wanted to stay on the very top floor with a giant window overlooking the brightly lit city, he agreed to call the hotel after making their online reservation and request the highest room the hotel had to offer.  Upon arrival, the princess was tickled pink to find that they were on the next to top level of the hotel.  She could see from the ground that the hotel wasn't very high, but she assured herself that it would be far enough above the majority of town to fulfill her desire to be looking out at downtown on what was a chilly October night.  After the royal couple checked in and found their way to their room, the princess rushed over to the grand window and with great anticipation flung open the curtains.  At that moment all the anticipation she felt was replaced with disappointment.  Every ounce of excitement she had stored up for the spectacular view she'd hoped for was squelched.  It was as if someone had poured a barrel of water on a match.  It was no wonder the curtains were drawn.  There was not a light in sight.  She only saw a dark, gloomy, boring parking garage.  A parking garage which was so close to her window of dreams that had she any adventure and dare left in her spirit, she could've reached out and touched it!  

To cheer the princess from her great disappointment, the prince suggested they take a romantic stroll through the brightly lit downtown to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  After a few lefts and rights, the lovely couple realized they were very lost, no thanks to the prince's phone GPS they were following.  When they finally arrived at dinner, the twosome was so tuckered out, they slumped into their booth and enjoyed an affectionate meal together. 

When the couple arrived back at their hotel room, the princess, frazzled after a long evening, found the complimentary toiletries, La Source by Crabtree & Evelyn, in the bathroom.  Delighted, she decided to take a bath so that she could use them before crawling into her luxurious king sized bed.  That night, the princess enjoyed one of the best nights of sleep she had ever experienced, despite the fact that she could not see the gleaming lights of downtown St. Louis.  The end.....

Sadly, the princess, I mean I don't sleep that well every night.  Nevertheless, I love this stuff and I hope you'll try it, too.  I found mine at Tea Garden Gifts a year ago but, certainly most nice boutiques carry it.  Or, you can always find it online.  However you decide to go about it, get your hands on some and your hands will thank you.


Monday, September 5, 2011


This evening as I was cooking dinner in my fancy apartment kitchen, listening to the hum of my washer and looking out my kitchen sink window, I was struck with how much I love all things homemaking.  Sure, there are times when the laundry seems like a daunting task, I can't decide what to cook for dinner or I loathe the fact that the bathrooms need cleaning.  Even so, I feel an enormous sense of satisfaction when dinner time is over and the dishes are clean, the laundry is folded neatly in piles and it looks as if I could dine on the bathroom floor.

As I have mentioned before, I am extremely fond of cooking.  Having significant obstacles while trying to cook during our time in Mexico made it a bit less enjoyable.  I could kick myself now for not photographing my "kitchen" there.  I am proud of all the things I was able to cook despite the fact that I didn't have a stove top or conventional oven.  When making banana bread, I had to wrap the whole pan and cover the top with tin foil so that none of the sides or top would burn in my toaster oven.  And it took forever to bake, but it was worth it!  Barbeque meatloaf, one of my favorite foods ever, turned out unexpectedly well without a real oven, much less a grill.  When it came time to wash the dishes, it was slow going.  Water pressure was nonexistent.  I had to turn on the water, wait for the sponge to get wet, throw some soap on there and scrub the plate.  Then, I would hold it under the itty bitty trickle of water for a second and twist and tilt the plate so that the water would run around it.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Do you get the picture?  But, oh honey, now with a real kitchen... you just can't imagine what it's like.

The last time I mentioned laundry I told you about my sweet daddy doing it for me.  Well, not long after I posted that, the Lord blessed us with a washer and dryer of our own.  I cannot explain how happy that made me.  It came from someone completely unexpectedly, but isn't that often how God works?  Now I can toss in anything and everything that Kyle decides to puke up-chuck on (and that is everything; when will it END?!) at my leisure.  It's a beautiful thing.  

Yes, I write homemaker whenever I have to list my occupation.  And I am not ashamed of my job title.  I wouldn't have it any other way. 


Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Whole Half a Baby

On my twenty-first birthday, I was pathetically excited about the fact that I was feeding my son rice cereal and couldn't have cared any less that I'd reached the legal drinking age.  I decided long ago that I was going to breast feed Kyle exclusively for six months.  I am a bit of a bf'ing snob, but maybe that's another post.  Nevertheless, being the stubborn determined woman I am, I have resisted the urge on many occasions to begin soups, I mean solids, before now.  Finally, on his six month birthday, I can feed him some real food.  Kyle has been increasingly interested during meal time recently.  So much so that I've been having to feed him just before we're going to eat if I want to avoid a fuss.  Why do I doubt then that dull, bland rice cereal mixed with the same stuff he's been drinking for months is going to satisfy his curiosity?  In any case, we had to start somewhere, so here is how it went.....

Nothing kills excitement like an unwrapped gift.  And having an overabundance of baby boy bags, I determined that this was a great opportunity to use one.  If I get invited to that many baby showers during the remainder of my life, I'll be surprised.  Also, if you are having a girl or plan to have a girl between now and ever, I apologize here ahead of time for the baby boy bag your gift will be delivered in.  So, for this very special occasion, I dug through the plethora and found this one to house his gifts before the big reveal.  I wonder who gave it to us?  I don't recall.  But, it sure is sweet, isn't it?

And here is his reaction:

Okey-dokey, now that the surprise is over, we can proceed on to prepare the grub.  I carefully thaw the liquid gold in some warm water and meticulously measure out the four to one ratio.  Not.  With a little adjustment here and there, I am eventually satisfied with the consistency and we move on to prepare for the main event.

Meanwhile, Kyle is still enjoying the tissue paper from his gift bag. 

And the girls are just finishing the decorations I put them on for the p-a-r-t-y.

The most adorable baby ever born to the human race is placed into his Bumbo seat.  Yes, I said it, the most adorable.  And while I am certain I am right about this one, you are entitled to your own opinions regarding your babies.  I get a kick out of it every time it pops through my head - I am convinced my son is the most attractive child known to man.  Undoubtedly, this is a God given hormonal attraction perfectly designed and delegated to mothers to keep them loving their children even while they scream their heads off (Kyle never does that...) or poop all over them (that either...).  Moreover, I am sure any subsequent babies I mother will have the same effect on me and it thrills me to no end just thinking about it.

Anyways, back to the Bumbo seat.  This thing is really awesome.  If you don't have one, get one.  Without question, it is impeccably designed to help babies who aren't yet able to sit up alone stay in an upright position for a decent length of time.  Although, I am quite proud to say that Kyle sat up today unassisted at least long enough for us to get this photo:

And this one:

Mommy to the rescue.

For meal time, though, a structured seating apparatus is necessary.  Most of the time when I put Kyle in his Bumbo, he folds in half and starts trying to eat his feet.  However, I have a sneaky feeling that once he associates blue chair with food, he will begin to sit upright and goo for food like he does when he sees me nestling into the Boppy pillow.

All right, in he goes.

"I'm ready to chow down."

I felt like I ought to add some honey or salt or something to this bland mixture, but I didn't.  Kyle seemed to enjoy it despite how tasteless I imagined it to be.

 (Sorry about the grainy pictures, the camera was on a rapid fire setting which compromised quality.  Cuteness was not compromised, however, and so I share them with you.)

"Here, Dad, let me help you with that."

Feeding babies takes great concentration as Jonathan's face can attest.

"Can I just eat the whole spoon?"

Adorable tootsies.

It will take time, no doubt, for Kyle to get the hang of taking the food in rather than shoving it back out with his tongue.  But, he sure is cute while he learns.

What a nice six month baby.  I love him.  And the guy holding him, too.