Friday, August 31, 2012

A New Champion.


You might have spent your weekend watching television and think I am talking about this young lady.  But no, I am talking about a different kind of champion.  A backyard champion.  The 2012 Crawford Croquet Cookout Champion.  Mr. Brandon Eason.


Here he is, graciously accepting his award, with his family by his side.  

Amy also enjoyed the taste of victory.


Now you might be thinking to yourself, well, I certainly could win a backyard game of croquet.  But this was no ordinary game.  No ordinary backyard course.  This particular course had unique hazards:  a swing set, an inflated pool, and four live babies!

After it was clear that Brandon would be the victor, the girls, who were each rooting for their individual fathers, decided they could all still be friends. 

Good game, good game.

Annie and Ellie quickly returned to their love of the evening - the slide.  Or as Ellie calls it, "Whee!"


As for the beloved chalice, there's always next year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ellie's First Cubs Game

I'm playing a little catch-up on the 'ole blog so if you are on Facebook you've probably already seen most of these pictures. 

On August 19th we had tickets to the Cubs/Reds game in Cincinnati - Ellie's first Cubs game!!  Pete, having grown up just outside Chicago, is a lifelong Cubs fan (however much it hurts him).

All morning long we told Ellie we were taking her to see the Cubs and sang "Go Cubs Go" in the car so she would be familiar with the fight song.

A few moments after we found our seats, the Fasciottos joined us - all four of them!  It was Sylvia and Margot's first Reds game, too.  Ellie was very happy to see Sylvia.  So happy that she hugged her.  And then she hugged her again, and again, and again until I pulled her away.  Poor Sylvia!  She loves hugs as much as the next girl, but I'm pretty sure she thought Ellie had fallen off her rocker.

We left after the fourth inning (Ellie had missed her nap and four innings was Pete's initial goal for his first game with a 15-month-old) and made it home in time for dinner on the lawn at Ashland.  It was a great day all-around!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Good Eats.

I've been on the hunt for recipes that use our CSA veggies.  Dinner has to use tomatoes and/or corn or we can't make it.  We've had two especially tasty dinners the past two nights, so I thought I'd share the recipes.

From the September 2012 issue of Everyday FOOD, Tomatoes Stuffed with Corn and Black Beans
4 beefsteak tomatoes (I used Mr. Stripey tomatoes from our backyard)
2 T olive oil
3/4 C corn kernels (1 large ear of corn)
2 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
1/2 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup drained, rinsed black beans
1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar (I used the mexican blend I had in the fridge)
1 C breadcrumbs
1 T lime juice
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Slice top 1/2 inch from tomatoes and scoop out flesh.  In a medium skillet, heat 2 tsp oil over medium.  Add corn and scallion whites and cook until crisp-tender, 3 minutes.  Transfer into a medium bowl and stir in jalapeno, beans, 1/4 C cheddar, 1/2 C breadcrumbs, and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.

2. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with 1 tsp oil.  Brush tomato skins with 1 tsp oil, season all over with salt and pepper, and place in dish.  Fill tomatoes with corn mixture.  Combine remaining 1/4 C cheddar, 1/2 C breadcrumbs, and 2 tsp oil and divide among tomatoes.  Tent dish loosely with foil and bake 10 minutes.  Uncover and bake until tomatoes are soft and breadcrumbs are deep golden, about 5 minutes more.  Serves 4. 

Tonight's dinner was even better - it tasted really fancy even though it used less than 10 ingredients.  My favorite recipes always seem to be fairly simple.  The half and half certainly doesn't hurt either. (I forgot to take any pictures, though, and it was also prettier than the tomatoes.)

Gnocchi, Sweet Corn & Arugula in Cream Sauce Better Homes and Gardens, May 2012
12 oz. frozen or shelf-stable potato gnocchi
2 small ears fresh sweet corn
1 cup half-and-half
3 oz. cream cheese, cut up
1/2 tsp. each salt, garlic powder, and dried basil
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 cups torn fresh arugula
crushed red pepper

1. In Dutch oven cook gnocchi according to package directions, adding corn the last 2 minutes of cooking time.  Use tongs to transfer ears of corn to cutting born.  Drain gnocchi and corn kernels, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.  Do not rinse. 
2. Meanwhile, for cream sauce, in medium saucepan combine half-and-half, cream cheese, salt, garlic powder, dried herb, and pepper.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in reserved pasta water.  Return cooked pasta to Dutch oven.  Cut corn from cob and add to pasta.  Pour cream sauce over pasta; heat through, if necessary.  Stir in arugula.  Sprinkle with crushed red pepper.  Makes 4 servings.

Aaaand of course, one unnecessary picture of Ellie, may you thoroughly enjoy it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Laura's Birthday

Friday was Laura's birthday, and after we spent the day celebrating together (all three of us!) we thought it would be great to have a fresh perspective recap the events on the blog.  And so....Camp Crawford proudly presents, guest blogger Pete!

Our wake-up call from the crib came at 7:30 Friday morning, and Laura wanted to visit Windy Corner Market for breakfast.  We typically only go to Windy Corner for dinner, and it was great to be there when the line wasn't 20 deep and we didn't have to stand like hawks waiting for a high chair to free up.  There was only one other couple in the restaurant, and we peacefully enjoyed a ham biscuit (Laura) and a sausage/egg po-boy (Pete), while Ellie gobbled up any stray pieces of bread from either.

After breakfast we came back and spent some time at the house.  Ellie took a fantastic two-hour nap (which was much better than the NO nap she took on my birthday), after which we went out for a late lunch at Olive Garden.  Ellie enjoyed getting some shells and sauce all over herself.

pasta face

After lunch, we accidentally found ourselves at Target during College-Move-In week...WHOOPS!  But, not wanting to let the students get the better of us, we donned these ultra-sweet Star Wars masks (which we incidentally encountered in a random aisle), and proceeded to wear them through the store, gathering items, stares, and one "Pardon me, Mr. Vader" from a Target employee with a flat cart trying to squeeze by.  Ellie thought the masks were pretty funny.  She laughed at us as we pushed her along, and was only upset when she learned that the mask wouldn't fit a head as small as her own.

When we finally got back home, an overcast morning had turned into a bright and sunny afternoon, so Laura changed into the dress she'd been planning on for her birthday, and we hit the neighborhood for our daily wagon ride. 
note: dress includes pockets.  VERY important.

While we were out, we passed a neighborhood yard sale that had some fantastic finds for Ellie.  We scored a turtle sandbox, a hobby horse, and an Ellie-sized shopping cart......all for $14.  Ellie is totally obsessed with the shopping cart.  She filled it with all kinds of stuff before we could even get away from the yard sale.  It was such a nice afternoon that we decided to set up an impromptu supermarket on the driveway for Ellie to try it out at home.

Where is the produce aisle?
This orange looks perfectly ripe.
 We shopped for well over an hour, and since we'd eaten a late (and large) lunch, we skipped straight to the dessert course for dinner.  I made a pistachio cake with whipped pistachio icing, from scratch, and luckily, the icing did a good job of covering the "forgot to use the non-stick spray" issues with the cake.

The birthday girl looks excited!  That's what really matters.
That was our big day, and I have to say how great it was to have the whole day to spend together.  Happy Birthday Laura!  I hope it was a memorable one!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Celebrating Pete

Last Thursday was Pete's 32nd birthday. 
This year's cake looked like a flop, but tasted wonderful.  

I was pretty excited to celebrate with him on Friday.  At long last, WE WERE GOING TO TOUR THE Ale 8 One factory!!!

There's a little 'museum' set up in the lobby.

The warehouse of Ale8 ready to ship to a 60-mile radius.
Our friendly tour guide, Fred.  Or maybe it was Alan.
Testing for proper levels of formula to carbonated water, etc.
The current formula being used is Formula No. 2.  At this point the tour guide turned to me and said, "It's like science!"  To which I replied, "It IS science!"

There was something amiss during our tour, so the man on the left was taking out all the botched labels and kept stopping the machine and tinkering with the two spools that held the giant rolls of labels.
First, the labels are affixed to the bottles. 
After washing, the bottles are spun dry and lined up - ready to be filled.
In the foreground are the empty bottles, in the background, they're filled and capped.
Ale 8 Man and the REAL Ale 8 Man - G.L. Wainscott
Ellie with her souvenirs back at home.  Yes, that is her 'splash mat' in the background.
Then Friday evening our neighbor, Julie, came over and watched Ellie for us while we went to see The Dark Knight Rises - it was so good!! Ellie was still asleep when we got home, so it was a great night all around.

Monday, August 06, 2012

We Survived. Barely.

Okay, okay, perhaps I am being a bit melodramatic.  Today was Ellie's first day in the Tiny Tots class at her child care center.  Here she is, all ready for a day of fun and new friends.  We dropped her off shortly before eight and and were pretty confident that all would go well.  Ellie doesn't have separation anxiety and enjoys playing with other children.  Especially when she is in a room full of new toys.

We picked her back up around 4:15pm and before we reached her room, I saw this peeking out of her cubby.

WHAT?!?!?  An accident report on her first day?!?!?  Come on.  Before we even got to see if she was okay, I read about her climbing up on the play gym outside and not making it back down safely.  Well duh.  She is only 15-months old!!  And I told her teacher no less than three times this morning that she was very good at climbing up on things and not as good at getting back down. And I wrote it down on her little info sheet.  And Pete mentioned it one more time as we left (right after she had run out of the room for the 2nd time without one of the teachers noticing.)  I guess they know now that we weren't kidding.

Of course she is totally fine.  Just a bit banged up around her eye.  Most of the swelling had gone down by the time we put her to bed, hopefully it will be barely noticeable tomorrow.  I know she is a toddler and I know she will fall - she has fallen a number of times while in my care (but not on her face!!).  I just wish she hadn't fallen on her very first day of being in child care.  Hopefully Wednesday will be better!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Overcast Day = mini-Road Trip

We had planned to go to Shaker Village this afternoon but woke up to rain.  So we drove to Cincinnati to check out the Children's Museum - it was well worth the 80-minute trip!!  We were there about an hour and half, and we didn't even play in all the exhibits.  I feel like we didn't take many photos, but here are some of the things we did manage to document.


grocery shopping - in her cart: an onion, a pear, and a baby (naturally)

climbing the rope wall

playing in the water center
This was our favorite:  The Duke Energy Zone.  Pete really liked it, and Ellie was pretty much beside herself, running around chanting, "ball, ball, ball".

Add caption

The balls were sucked into a big clear bin up in the middle of the zone.  Once it filled up..... dumped all the balls on the waiting children!!

Lego house

Who says girl's can't be builders?

Tomorrow's the big day!  Bag is packed, outfit ready to go, I just have to pack her lunch and we will be ready.  Pete has fairly local appointments tomorrow so he and I will both be dropping Ellie off at 'school' and we've already planned to take her for frozen yogurt when we pick her up at the end of the day.