I would like to start off today saying THANK YOU! to everyone who stops by HHF and reads a post, or two, or none (I know, it’s all about pretty pictures, isn’t it!). Why am I so thankful this close to, yet after, Thanksgiving?
My blog stats tell me that in the month of September, I received 1,020 views, In October I received 919 and in November I received a whopping (to me) 1,043 views. I am shocked, stunned, somebody-pour-a-bucket-of-water-on-my-head in disbelief and so very humbled. I started this blog to keep friends and family updated on the boys’ and to spout out things I randomly think about, love or create. However, this is weird proof that people other than my mom (Hi, Mum!) and E’s mom (Hi, Cat!) read Hello Happy Face. Like I said, I’m stunned (almost speechless ;)). I know my numbers are probably peanuts to the big blogs I love and follow, but I’m truly honored.
For all you random bloggy drive-by’s and dedicated readers (and because I was feeling a bit Photoshop-deprived this weekend) I created a couple of holiday/Christmas/winter prints and am sharing them here for anyone to download!
Stay tuned for more travel catch-ups, fun DIY/crafts and, well, more pictures of our boys than anyone probably needs to see.
In all seriousness, though, thank you all so much for coming by and I hope you’ll stick around!
Yours in fun and chaos,
We had an amazing time in Florida over Thanksgiving week and it showed by the amount of photos we took! I literally had to weed through 864 pics to get a small enough group to post. And even then, well, I can’t help myself. Apologies in advance for splitting our trip into multiple posts and batch after batch of photos. But really… who can say no to pictures of these two??
We spent the first couple days just catching up on our sanity after the 14 hour drive and working to get the boys back on their normal daily schedule (they certainly traveled better than on their first long trip ((to India)), but still had trouble napping and going to sleep for the night in a new place).
Our first day out, we took the boys to meet different groups of E’s family (a lot of his relatives live within a few mile radius of each other, so we managed to introduce the boys to a lot of them in just a couple stops!). After that, we took the boys down to a nearby park for them to burn off a little steam. It was also wonderful for us adults to bask in the sun a bit. Considering we just came from a freezing DC, it was great to be out in 70 degrees again (great, but not enough to convince me to move to FL, Erich!). However, only in Florida would you find a gorgeous wooden dock overlooking the water less than 100 yards from a kid’s playground.
Thankfully the deck was closed off, so there was no fear of the boys accidentally falling in. They had an absolute blast running around and trying to get past their Omi to go to the slides.
By some Thanksgiving miracle, we also managed to snag a great photo of the boys with their Omi and Grampy (who they completely adore and had such a great time with. The boys even stayed with them for one day and another evening by themselves so Mum and Dad could go out. I don’t think they wanted us to come home!).
I should say we got three Thanksgiving miracles, since we actually managed to get the boys with their grandparents and two pretty decent ones of us as a family (I promise, it’s harder than it sounds, since we have two wiggly kids who never stay still in front of a camera!).
And no, we’re not mean parents who took their kids near a playground and didn’t let them play!
Oh yeah, they did this over and over and over again :)
I truly am thankful for such a fun and surprisingly relaxing trip (whoda thunk you could relax on vacation even with toddlers in the mix?). Anyone else out there turn Thanksgiving into a week-long vacation? It’s a really big holiday on both sides of E’s family, so there was no way we were missing out this year. Plus, it was such a great way to test the boys’ stranger danger. Thanksgiving dinner meant at least 26 people in one room! The boys got so many hugs and kisses that day I bet they can’t wait to go back next year :)
We attempted our first big road trip with the boys this past weekend going from Virginia to Florida for Thanksgiving. 14 hour drive with two toddlers in the back? Yes, we have something to be very grateful for – we survived it!
Last year was the first year Erich and I spent Thanksgiving away from his family since we started dating and it was only due to the fact that a 14 hour trip with 6 month old twins seemed completely impossible.
This year, after braving our first transatlantic flight with them to India this summer (see our trip here, here, here, here and here… one last belated post still to come!), we thought we could survive the drive. FYI, we live just outside DC in Northern Virginia and E’s parents live in Cocoa Beach, FL.
Yeah. Long. Drive.
We decided to leave DC at 8pm last Friday night after bathing the boys and putting them into pj’s for the night. Instead of then putting them to sleep in their cribs, they went straight into their car seats and we took off into the night – the idea being that the boys would just sleep in their seats through the night and we would only have to deal with a few hours drive with them awake in the morning.
Thankfully I’m a good night driver, so was confident we could pull this off. But, as any sleep-deprived mom can attest, it’s impossible to stay awake and focused if you haven’t had a full nights sleep in at least a week. I made it through VA, through NC, through most of SC and then couldn’t see straight anymore. Erich, who had been napping on and off took a 5 hour energy shot at that time and took over. He drove three hours to just outside the FL border and I took over once again as the sun came up, to get us the rest of the way down.
You may ask whether the plan worked (regarding the boys sleeping) and I’d say they did pretty damn well! Sure, they didn’t sleep as well or as long as they would in their cribs at home, but we rigged an iPad stand out of the front cover of an old binder and a bungee cord around the middle headrest to keep them entertained the few times they did wake. I’ll say right now that the Winnie the Pooh movie saved our asses from dealing with complete meltdowns in the car. However, I would absolutely do it again this way and in fact plan to for the drive home, since trying to do the drive during the day would be that much more disastrous. Eli does really well riding in the car for long periods of time, but Oliver gets antsy after about 15 minutes unless he’s sleeping. No way would they have slept as long or been as cooperative of being strapped in for an extended period if we drove during daylight hours!
But enough about the drive. I have my Canon with me and am filling the card with plenty of photos of the trip to share when I get home and can upload them. For now, I just wanted to show a smattering of our week via Erich and my Instagram photos…
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving and I wish you all a fantastic weekend full of leftover turkey sandwiches! We’re headed over to Erich’s grandparents house this afternoon and I think the boys have no idea how spoiled with attention they’re going to be today :)
I like to randomly experiment while cooking; I throw spices in dishes willy-nilly until I think they’re finished and sometimes it ends in taste bud disaster. Sometimes, however, my method of madness works out reallllly well. Like earlier this week, when I finally turned all of our pumpkin guts from Halloween into this amazing pumpkin soup. Awesome-ly perfect for the chilly fall days we’re having!
You may ask how it went down… so here’s a (kind of) step-by-step for you to recreate your own soup-y awesomeness.
1 large pumpkin worth of guts (sans seeds)
1 large zucchini
1 medium white onion
1 box of low sodium chicken broth (like Swanson’s)
1 tablespoon each of the following: coriander seeds, mustard seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper and sea salt
2 or 3 pods of garlic (or more if you loooove garlic like I do!)
You may think that zucchini seems like a weird addition to pumpkin soup, but I like to sneak in veggies wherever possible for our boys. Even though they love most vegetables, zucchini seems to go in and out of favor with them and this week they were hating on it. So, I managed to get it in their tummies with super-mom stealth this way :)
The zucchini and onion I chopped into smallish pieces (it’s all going in a blender at the end anyway) and pulled out the spices I wanted to use. Side note: I thought a teaspoon of each was enough, but as I went, I ended up adding a bit more for a stronger punch of flavor. That’s why I’ve listed a tablespoon of each for the recipe.
I started by putting the pumpkin guts in a pot with the entire box of chicken stock on a low flame while I worked on the rest.
“The rest” went in a saute pan on the next burner. I began by frying the coriander and mustard seeds in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes and then added in the pods of garlic.
Then came the onion…
and finally the chopped zucchini.
Once the zucchini softened a bit, I added the remaining spices directly to the pumpkin pot.
Next up was just adding my pan-full to my pot-full (if that makes sense…)
and letting it all simmer on low for about 20 minutes (or until soft and goopy. That’s totally a cooking word, I swear!).
Unfortunately I missed pictures of the last step since the boys woke up from their nap and my eyes were too busy watching them to look through a viewfinder. Also, I am not coordinated enough to use a blender with one hand… but basically all you have to do is empty the pot into your blender (or Magic Bullet in our case) and pulse to your desired consistency.
It looks like this if you top with your husband’s awesome roasted pumpkin seeds and toast an everything bagel on the side:
I figure this is something I can make any time through the fall and winter to nourish the boys (I might even try subbing things like butternut or acorn squash in place of pumpkin). They devoured it that evening and again the next day for lunch when Erich poured it over grilled chicken breasts.
Anyone else do something good with their pumpkin guts? This is the first time I’ve ever attempted anything with them other than roasting the seeds and I’m so happy with how it turned out! My mum does an amazing pumpkin curry, so I might have to try that next (yes, we still have one whole pumpkin sitting on our stoop that needs to be chopped up and eaten).
However, I don’t think I’ll be doing much cooking this week – we’re packing tomorrow for our drive down to Florida Friday evening and will be with Erich’s family all of next week for Thanksgiving. Did I mention it’s a 14 hour road trip with twin toddlers?? I swear we’re not crazy… although we might be after this drive. Wish us luck :) You know I’ll be back here posting throughout the trip to tell you how it goes!
Ok, so it might not be breaking news or top any real headlines, but I’m just psyched I finally edited the boys’ monthly photos into a coherent group (before now, they were a jumbled mess of different filters, saturation levels and a few with type… basically a mess)!
A few of my favorites are:
Check out the entire set of photos here!
Yes, they are totally Pop Art-ish and crazy Technicolor (don’t worry, I did save the originals in natural colors as well as versions in b&w), but for now they’re such a fun group to look at and I’m dying to print them for the boys’ room. I’m thinking they’ll be a sweet addition as a frame gallery above their cribs – and I’ll just keep adding to it as the months go by!
What do you guys think? Too crazy for your tastes, or do you think it’s the perfect way to get ahead of those dismal, gray winter days? :)