Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lessons in Major Burns!

I'm having a pity party for myself today- well as I write this, then I shall pass it on. Nothing too severe, but ridiculously burned my leg on Sunday afternoon as I was baking. I have NEVER burned myself and I do quite a bit of cooking- and baking. But I scalded myself so badly that I now have a 2nd degree burn on my leg (right next to my knee). It's about 2" x 8" and it hurts and burns and I cannot believe that I did it.

Here's what happened- and then what to do when you do get such a serious burn. And yes, in this case it is considered a major burn.

I was attempting my first go at Creme brulee's- have never made them and as it is my favorite dessert- I thought I would give it a go. My mother-in-law got me a little blow torch (you know, for the delicious carmelized topping!), so I thought I'd finally try it. Well, before you bake the brulees you are to put boiling water in the roasting pan (that the ramekins sit in). Well, I don't know what I was thinking, and instead of putting the pan on top of the stove to have better access, I left it in the oven and pulled out the oven rack. Bent down to lean over and pour, and of course, excess boiling water spilled over the side and onto my leg!

It was all I could do to not throw the rest of the water on the floor- I cussed and said "S***" and started screaming. Pulled up my pant leg (I was wearing a velour track suit) and had found that the skin had already blistered. It was awful. Then there is Jack (my 5 year old) sitting by his legos and he says, "Mom, you don't say "S***", and of course, he actually said the word. Kinda funny now that I think about it. So then I had to apologize to him (all the while in agonizing pain!) and tell him that it was just necessary right then and there. -He'll definitely understand when he gets older. :)

Anyway- awful what I did to myself and this big wound is going to take some time to heal. What's so bad is that it's right next to my knee- one of the most important areas of your body that has to move back and forth! Everytime I walk it expands and stretches- so you can imagine what it will do when it scabs over. And it's hard sleeping at night finding a comfortable spot without rubbing it or stretching it.

Here's a picture- (I took this Sunday night)-

Yea, so I know anyone that is a nurse is going to be upset. Because I think I did the biggest no no- (because I didn't know) and pulled off the blisters. Apparently your not supposed to do this- fyi. Wish I would have known that, but guess I now do.

Necessary items for treatment

I'm basically watching it for inflammation or swelling- you're supposed to watch for fever too- if there becomes an infection. I do have antibiotics and burn aid. I put that on at least 3-4 times a day and treat with a bandaid and gauze. Of course, I'm not soaking it in water and cleaning it with a wet rag. It stinks though- cold weather has arrived in Sydney and sadly I don't have alot of loose pants. I laughed and told Jason I'm upset I can't wear my skinny jeans! :( ha ha! 

So this is going to be a process- and a painful one at that. BUT I will say, through it all that I think my boys have DEFINITELY gotten the point about hot water and fire. Henry (my youngest) looks at it and says, "Mommy, you have a big ouchie!". Yes, Mommy does have a big ouchie! So through it all, if they learn and it sticks in their heads that they don't mess with, touch or go near hot water and fire, then I'll be happy.

It's also had me thinking alot about burn victims- I can ONLY imagine the pain that people have and go through when they are faced with serious 2nd and more agonizing 3rd degree burns. I did some research because I've been thinking about it- and read that there are nearly 10,000 pediatric burn injuries a year in the United States- and of these, nearly 1/2 were children under the age of 2.

Here is the link that I went to- www.burnsurvivor.com . It's for the Burn Survivor Resource Center and they have some great information. I think that I'm always really careful when the boys are in the kitchen and always tell them "No", "Fire", "Hot", but you never know what could happen. And as a parent, it's so important to watch your children like a hawk when you are cooking and they come in the kitchen, because as we know, children are curious and sometimes just don't know the seriousness of our words or what their actions can cause.

Silly Mom- still can't believe I did this! Ah well- live and learn right? And...be careful when cooking...and watch your kiddos! :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chicken Rice Soup- the best recipe!

Now this is by far my favorite that I have recently found- especially for those cold days- or when you're not feeling so well. The flavors are delicious and this was a huge hit in our house!

I usually make chicken noodle soup, but thought I'd try a rice recipe. So I found this one off of Pioneer Women's, but of course, changed a few things. :) 

Chicken Rice Soup
*3-4 chicken breasts (or you can use with bone on)
*chicken buillion cubes
*2-3 peeled and thinly chopped carrots
*3-4 chopped celery stalks
*1/2 a diced and chopped onion (I used brown)
*2 cups of rice- I used arborio (risotto) rice
*Salt and garlic powder to taste

-Put your chicken in a pot of water and generously add your chicken buillion cubes- I added about 8. Cook 20 or so minutes until very tender- DO NOT DRAIN OUT THE LIQUID! (Make sure you have at least 6-8 cups of water).Take out chicken and chop or shred into bite size pieces.
-Meanwhile you can cook your rice. I did 2 cups of rice- I like my soups a bit chunkier and more filling (for these big boys!). Use a pot or rice cooker- usually add about 2 cups of water per cup of rice. Add a bit of salt and drizzle of olive oil as cooking. Boil then reduce heat to a simmer until fully cooked. 
-As rice and chicken are cooking, you can dice your onion, celery and carrots (Pioneer Women used green peppers and pimentos- I didn't prefer that). Put aside.
-Make your roux- to thicken up that soup! Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and melt- then ad about 4 or so tablespoons of flour. Mix until nice and thick. Add more flour if need to. 
-Now use that liquid from your chicken in your big pot and add your roux. 
-Now melt another 2 tablespoons of butter and saute your vegetables and onions- this is where I added the salt and garlic powder. Saute about 3-4 minutes then add your chopped chicken. Saute another 3-4 then add to your liquid roux. 
-Finally add your cooked rice- and let simmer about 5 minutes. Then done! 
-I sprinkled with a bit of parmesan and served with cheese toast- or crunchy rolls or bread is great too! 

Served with ham & cheese toast- normally wouldn't do the ham but I try and fill my boys up with protein as much as I possibly can! :) 

Goat Cheese Bruschetta

This is another appetizer I made for last night- super easy and super yummy!

Goat Cheese Bruschetta
*Baguette- I used a sesame crusted one
*Goat cheese- either use a spread or crumbled
*Jar of diced tomatoes
*8-10 cherry tomatoes chopped
*1/2 jar of diced black olives
*1-2 tablespoons of olive oil & balsamic vinaigrette 
*parsley, salt and crushed garlic

I like to do my bruschetta mix ahead of time so all of the herbs, garlic and oils can fuse together- makes it much better. Basically I drained the can of tomatoes, then added the chopped cherry tomatoes and black olives. Drizzle in your olive oil and balsamic dressing and add your herbs and seasoning. Again, like all of my cooking, it is to my taste. I love garlic so I always put a very generous amount! (Good thing I have a husband that knows of my great love for garlic and doesn't mind! ha ha!)

Then right before your ready to serve, slice your baguette (thinly) and brush with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Spread a generous layer of the goat cheese on the bottom and top with the bruschetta. Then sprinkle on a bit of grated parmesan. Yum Yum Yum! I love the goat cheese with it! 

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Yes, I've been M.I.A. and it's called having a terrible sinus infection. So bad, in fact, that I've been sick for 7 days AND having to forfeit my Sydney Herald 1/2 Marathon- I should be running it right now! In fact, I'd probably be about half way finished. I'm so depressed...ah well...I'll just have to run the one in September now. 

I did manage to make it out for a little bit last night. One of my good friends here was having a Birthday party- and so very important for me to go and give love and support. Actually funny how we met. We met the first day of Jack's school; we both had our boys in the Northbridge Plaza shopping area getting a coffee before school started. We started chatting and realized the boys would be in the same class. Then started chatting more and realized that we had both moved here about the same time- her from London (originally from New Zealand). Needless to say, we have alot in common- being the newbies in a big city, not having a lot of friends, etc., Plus our boys have become quite good friends. I've really enjoyed her friendship. :) 

I told her I would make a few goodies to help her out with the party- of course, you know me, I LOVE baking and cooking and I haven't had my own get together/party in so long! This was (as always) fun for me! 

This is what I made:

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries! They were delicious! Found the recipe off of Pinterest- but, of course, I made minor little changes (like I always do) that make all the difference. :) 

*1 block of softened cream cheese
*3-4 tbsp of powdered sugar
*1 tbsp of vanilla
*strawberries- pitted out to make a hollow hole
*crushed graham crackers

Basically you just mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. BUT here is what I did- I added a tablespoon of almond extract, a big squeeze of a lemon and the zest of 1/2 a lemon to the cream cheese mix. 

Put cream cheese in an icing piper or ziploc bag (snip off the corner) and squeeze the mix in the hold of the strawberry. Then dip the strawberry in the crushed graham crackers. * I like having the big chunks of the crackers instead of fine crumbs. :) 

Here is what I will do next time- I will use marscapone cheese instead of cream cheese- I like that better. And I may drizzle with a bit of chocolate or caramel sauce.

These were a hit- it was hard getting them out of the house yesterday as Jason kept sneaking in grabbing one after another! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Advantages of International Shipping!

Living overseas can sometimes be tough- in more ways than one. And one is not having the wonderful stores (and prices!) that we have in the US. Ah it's wonderful everytime we go home and I get to do some shopping- these are the stores that I so  desperately miss- Target, Gap, Hobby Lobby, White House Black Market, Kohls, Old Navy, Dillards, and Williams Sonoma. Those are my favorite but the list is endless.

In Shanghai it was very difficult. First of all, there were NO places that carried shoe sizes for Jason and I. They laughed at us everytime we asked for our shoe size. I wear a size 10 and Jason wears a 12. WAY too  big for them! And it was near impossible to find good pants because of how tall we are as well- even the European stores didn't have pants that were long enough. I could get by with shirts, sweaters, accessories but that's about it. Also the same with the boys- because of their height it was definitely hard to find pants.

It's really mind boggling to me as well- the US just has the best prices and quality for your money. Hands down! There was just a news segment done here in Sydney on how they are cracking down on Aussie's ordering from overseas, because of course it's cheaper, but then effects the retail business here. I can see why they order from overseas though- I've talked to so many that do it. BUT the only way they can do it is through a friend or family that has a US billing address- so you have to have a US credit/debit card.

It is amazing to me all of the companies/businesses that are doing international shipping now- Williams Sonoma, GAP, Banana, Old Navy, Saks, etc., And it's worth paying the extra $30 or $40 in shipping.
I just did an order from GAP and Old Navy through FiftyOne- because this weekend as the weather got cooler, we realized that NONE of Jack's pants from Christmas fit him anymore! He hasn't had to wear them- he's been in shorts ever since we came back. So of course I did an order- all of the pants/long sleeve items are on sale- and it's totally worth it to ship it over. I could go to Target or one of the stores here and pay double and the quality isn't near what I would get at Gap. Genius! 

I even ordered Henry's bedding from Pottery Barn when we first moved- I couldn't find anything that I liked, so just had it shipped. It was here within a week! Love it!

I also did an order from Crocs- I love their shoes for boys. And I'm loving (and I don't know why I'm just now doing this) but buying sale items for upcoming years/seasons. I mean as quickly as these boys grow, I feel like I'm buying new shoes and new wardrobes every 3 months.

LOVE online shopping! It can be dangerous though! :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Anniversary & Mothers Day Weekend!

Happy 6 Years of beautiful and wonderful marriage to us! I look at this picture and think how fabulous the last 6 years have been. It has been a roller coaster here and there- but good in every possible way. We are both so lucky to have each other- I love the way we push and encourage each other to reach our full potential, we fully support each other in every way, we are a great team when it comes to the boys and I love that I get to spend the rest of my life with him. My love for him is just like it was in the "blissful" first stages, but even better because I believe our respect for one another grows each and every day. I'm so looking forward to many more years with this great man!

We haven't gotten out and done a full celebration yet- my 1/2 marathon is in 6 days so were going to celebrate after. But we did go have a wonderful Italian lunch on Friday- I picked Jason up from work and we went to Crows Nest- a suburb close to our home. It was fab- I love good Italian food. It was a beautiful 80 degrees out so we sat on the patio. Great lunch date! AND....he got me my new camera that I wanted- the Nikon d7000! He is so good to me! :) I'm so excited!

The rest of the weekend seems like a bit of a blur- I've been sick- and the whole family (minus Jason). Terrible colds- I think it must be the weather. It was 80/85 on Thursday and Friday, then by Saturday it was 50 degrees. We did make it out Saturday night though. Northbridge (another suburb close by and Jack's school district) had a Fireworks night- the oval (soccer field) right next to Jack's school. It was hilarious. Of course, we brought a blanket and a few snacks, but not quite prepared as we should have been. We arrived and families had full on picnics, bottles of wine, cheese boards, lawn chairs, etc., We were so unprepared! So I made Jason run down the street and grab a pizza to go and a bottle of wine! Not the full on spread that most people had but it worked for us!

They had the gates open at 4:30 with bouncy castles, cotton candy (they call it fairy floss), popcorn, all sorts of kids rides and a bbq.

The boys had a blast- tons of Jack's friends from school were there. They did a bunch of the rides and ran around. Then the fireworks started at about 7. It was a fun (but chilly) family night! :) Boys had a late night too- we didn't get home til about 9. :)

Love this shot of Henry! 

Jack's lil' friend Lachlan

Right before the fireworks started!

Sadly we had a little too much fun (and maybe wine) on Saturday night, therefore we were all sick with more coughs and runny noses! So needless to say we didn't make it to church (didn't want to get other people sick), so we stayed in. It was still a nice Mothers Day- boys got me a cute little card and a spa mani/pedi. (Will use after the race next weekend!!!) I love my little boys and am blessed to be their Mommy! :) 

Hope ALL the other Mommy's had a great day and you were made to feel special as well! :) 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Greatest Combo- Oyster Crackers & Chow Down Chili

Well, fall is here- well, supposed to be here. This last weekend it was a bit chilly so I thought it only fitting to make the perfect combo- oyster crackers and chili! Funny now though as I'm writing this because it was a toasty 80 degrees today!

Anyway, here are my delicious recipes. And what is so great- is that it's even better the second day...and the third (if there is enough leftover).

Ranch Oyster Crackers
1 package of dry ranch mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp dill
1/2 tsp lemon pepper or garlic powder (or both)
16 oz. oyster crackers

Throw the crackers in a big ziploc bag, then add oil, mix and seasoning. Toss and mix the bag. Place crackers on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 250 degrees. *I sometimes use spicy ranch- we like a little zest in our life. :)

By the way, these are the MOST amazing and addicting. Henry is obsessed and hums when he eats them. They're yummy as an appetizer, or to put in any soup or stew.

Chow Down Chili
So everyone has their own chili recipes and I don't really want to write ALL the ingredients because sometimes I use different items. BUT here are my secrets that I do everytime-
*I use a mixture of minced pork and minced lean beef (and I don't drain the meat after cooking)
*I always use sauteed onions and garlic with the meat
*I always let the meat and tomatoes simmer for 20 minutes in about a half a bottle of beer (any good dark beer) and 1 cube of beef bullion, then I add the beans the last 10 minutes to cook.

Everyone has different favorite toppings? I always like extra chopped onions and cheese. Sometimes sliced avocadoes or sour cream. AND of course, oyster crackers. WEll, sometimes some good ole' corn bread too!

I've definitely needed some read meat this week- this training is about to do me in! Did I mention that I have the Sydney Herald 1/2 Marathon coming up- it's in less than 2 weeks. Well, it's in 10 days! I did my farthest run on Monday- 9.3 miles. And I've totally given up Diet Coke. I haven't had one in over a month. I really don't miss it- I actually just miss having caffeine in the afternoon!

I'll conquer the 1/2 marathon but don't know if I can do the full in September- it might do me in! :) Very proud of myself though- definitely takes alot of training, hard work and drive. Big props to anyone that does big runs or similar training.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Monthly Stats on Two Growing Boys!

So I've decided to do monthly stats on the boys- height and weight, their progresses, things they are interested in, etc., Really hate that I'm just now doing this with Jack...and Henry...but better late than never.

I'm constantly amazed by how quickly they grow- should attest to how much they eat- but still blows my mind. Discussing a few weeks ago with our visitors, Max and Kristie, I asked what age they thought Jack would be when he is taller than me. Max said age 12. Jason said 13. He's only 5 1/2 and is already more than half my size! What?!?! I think it'll probably be about 11. He's just soooo tall!

Here is a picture of them this morning- never cooperating:

Henry's clothes are Jack's that have gotten too small for him!

Jack is 59.4 lbs and 47 1/2 inches (or 3.9 feet- almost 4 feet!!!!)
Henry is 33 lbs and 37.3 inches ( or 3.1 feet)

Cracks me up how much they weight- and the sad part about it is that it feels like so much more. They have the densest bodies- I can barely pick Jack up anymore when he's asleep and I have to move in. BUT I will say that I have some pretty buff arms because of the two of them- carrying two boys for 5 1/2 years has done them well!

In terms of strength- Jack is strong. Strong! Strong! Strong! I still remember that he picked up a full wheelbarrow at the pumpkin patch two weeks before his 1st birthday - and pushed it around for at least 5 minutes. What 1 year old does that? Now when I get on top of him to try and tickle him, it is hard for me to pull his arms above his head. Must be his strong Indian blood!!! :)

Here are some of their quirks, progresses and loves that they are into right now.

*Just started his 2nd term of Kindergarten and still loving it- he has made huge advances in just 1 term. They just started doing spelling tests- woo! But we are working hard on our spelling and reading. He has readers that come home every night- learning basic "sight" words. Homework has begun- and it's only kindy!
*He's playing soccer- and has scored at least 1 goal in every game, although we really have to work on the FOCUS- hoping competitiveness will set in soon
*He LOVES Legos- Ninjagos and Star Wars, including the Ninjago Lego TV series. He plays Legos everyday after school. And he is so creative with them- I love seeing what he comes up with
*He loves doing mazes and coloring- huge advances in our artistic skills, including writing his name, numbers and the alphabet.
*His favorite breakfast items are croissants and cereal, and toast with jelly (he likes to put on the jelly himself).
*Favorite meal is an Oporto Chicken sandwich- and he eats two of them. He also is obsessed with cheeseburgers, broccoli, and he wants some type of dessert after every meal.
*His favorite books are The Berenstein Bears, and he loves these little K-Zone comic books they have over here
*We did start a chore chart- which includes brushing teeth, helping make the bed, unpacking backpack after school, cleaning his plates after each meal, putting away his laundry and combing his hair.
*Through the chore chart were doing an allowance so he can start earning money for extra fun things that he wants- important to teach children how to be responsible and earn the value of a dollar!
*He still wants me to take him into school and walk him in- and still holds my hand! (Have to cherish these moments while I can!)
*Loves singing and dancing- amazes me- he knows more words to songs than I do. And has shown an interest in playing the guitar? Maybe soon!

Chore Chart- my MIL got it in Tulsa somewhere- I'm sure easy to find

Jack's favorite books!

This cracks me up- who does this to their legos? 6 arms and two legs! Creative boy!

(Hard, because he LOVES to do everything that Jack does, but we have our special moments of his play when Jack is at school)
*Favorite books are the "Look and Find"s- Elmos, Dinosaur Train and Nemo (these are the best books) and he loves the bigger sized legos- he's so great at building things
*He can pretty much count to 10- needs a little help here and there
*He knows all of the major colors- even gold- and his shapes. He's far beyond the stages in my "What to Expect Toddler Years" book- he's more in the 30 month stages.
*He's speaking full sentences all the time- cracks us up. I love hearing him say, "Ahhh man", or "awesome", or "No Jackie I had it first", or "Somebody help me", or "Henna no go to bed, we pick up Jackie". He has many more but those are my favorite
*I cannot get the child out of the house without a hat on- he's obsessed with having a baseball hat on- at all times
*He has no fear- he jumps off of everything and on to everything
*He is finally having good "goodbyes" at school- he doesn't cry and says, "Bye Mom, you pick me up later?" but is still so precious when I pick him up! He runs to me and tells me "Mom, I missed you today". Melts my heart!
*They tell me at preschool (he goes 2 days a week) that when they ask him his name, he says, "William Henry Wiltshire" and he pronounces it almost perfectly
*He still naps after lunch (Hallelujiah!)-about 1 1/2- 2 hours.
*His favorite foods are Mac&Cheese, cheeseburgers, goldfish, bananas, PB&J's (just recently), rice, dumplings, and corn on the cob. He's sweet for any chocolate!
*He loves music and dancing- his favorite song is from the Kids Puttamayo "Monkeys on the Bed"- great CD for kids by the way!

Henry's favorite book!

His little handprint chicken from Easter- he tore the eye off though!
I think that's all I can think of for now- they are fun boys! They sleep together every night (just started in the last month)- I can't separate them just yet. They both want to sleep together and I don't think it's bad for them. :) Most of the time they go right to sleep (exhausted from the day) but sometimes they have their little fights or giggle and laugh in there and we have to quiet them down, but I smile because they are so funny! And I hope and pray every night that no matter what, they are always the best of friends! Just the way brothers should be!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Missing me some DIN TAI FUNG!

File:Din Tai Fung TST.jpg
Yes, weird title for a post for those of you that don't know what Din Tai Fung -it is the most amazing Taiwanese restaurant! Amazing! And I am desperately missing it! Okay, well, they have one here in Sydney, but it is NOT the same. Well, we went to the branch here when we moved and maybe it was just an off day for them, (but you know when that happens at a restaurant- you don't go back for at least 6 months or longer) but it was not that good. And it's sad, because we used to go to this restaurant at LEAST once a month, if not more in Shanghai.

So, I have been seriously making dumplings since we have been in loss of these little treasures. It's a must for me to master these little goodies- the boys are OBSESSED with them. I mean, I still remember the first time I felt Henry kick in my stomach. We were sitting at the restaurant and I had had a few bites of the steamed buns (my favorite!!!!) and I felt him kick! Hilarious because it was just a showing of what we were in store for- can I tell you at 8/9 months old he was chowing them down! Jack would eat at least 10 dumplings by himself- not to mention a full serving of sauteed spinach, pork chops and fried rice! Seriously my mouth is watering because I miss this restaurant so much. In fact, we went here every year for our celebration dinner for each year spent in China- our "Chinese anniversary" per say.

These are their famous Xiaolongbao- steamed dumplings

Anyway- they don't look the same as the ones they do- (and the ones they do are steamed), but this version that I make are super delicious and we all love them! I made a full batch tonight and there are 6 left- (which Jason is taking to co-workers tomorrow because he bragged on them so much and they're desperate apparently to try them). Here is a picture and my recipe below:

Easy-easy-and you can freeze them (once you've put them together), then just pop them out and cook them up!

*I watched my ayi do these so my measurements aren't exact-

-minced pork (or you can use chicken- and some do mixture of pork and diced shrimp)
-bok choy (chinese cabbage) chopped- I use chopped sauteed spinach with mine most of the time (more savoring taste)
-1-2 tsp minced ginger
-2 cloves of garlic- minced
-3 T of soy sauce
-2 tsp rice wine vinegar
-2 tsp of sesame oil
-2 sprinkles of white sugar
-chopped chives (optional)- sometimes I do, sometimes I don't
-one egg white
-salt to taste
*Mix everything together- best if you do it with your hands. And again, sometimes I use more soy sauce and garlic- just depends on your preferences of taste.
*I find the premade dumpling wraps in the frozen section (I'm sure they have them at most grocery stores). You can make your own but I don't- too much time!
*Then you take one dumpling wrapper and drop in about a tablespoon or so of filling. Then take a bit of water to dampen the inside of the wrappers (so the sides will stick together. Press all the edges together (making a crescent shape) and pinch together around the sides.
*Best to put in the refrigerator for at least 10-15 minutes (or you can freeze until you're ready to cook them).
*I pan fry them- heat oil in a big pan (I use Williams Sonoma caphalon frying pan) then add dumplings and pan fry about 2-3 minutes. Then add about 1/4 cup of water and put lid on top of the pan. Cook about 5 minutes.

We just use soy sauce as dipping, but there are all sorts of dips to pair with these. And you can have these as yummy appetizers or as dinner- we do as dinner and I make fried rice and an asian vegetable. A great filling meal! And they are even yummy as leftovers!

Hope this was easy to follow. If you ever have a chance to go to one of these- go! We took ALL of our visitors here when they visited and it was by far they're favorite restaurant. I really am going to figure out a way to get one in Tulsa. There are two in the US- one in LA and one recently opened in Seattle!