Monday, July 29, 2013

My Very Favorite Kale Salad

See the yumminess!
Is it weird that one of my very favorite things right now is kale salad? I just can’t stop going on and on and on about it. Very few people wax poetic about kale salad, but apparently I fall into that special and select group. I was being given crap the other day about how “healthy” kale is (like that’s a bad thing!) and I declared that I loved this salad because it tastes good. It’s not very often that you hear that about a salad. I first had this salad at cooking club and fell in love there. I love the edamame, the cranberries and the tangy zip from the homemade salad dressing. But kale is super healthy - This superfood is not just a passing thing. Kale is jam-packed with nutrients and health-promoting components.. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk and 10x more Vitamin C than spinach. It is low in calories and carbs and high in vitamins and antioxidants. One serving of kale provides 5% of the recommended daily intake of fiber (statistics taken from here) Then when you add in chickpeas, edamame and almonds, the nutrition factor just skyrockets. 

So when I tell you to try this salad, do it because it’s tasty and love it because it’s super good for you!

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Shallots (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
  • 4 cups torn kale, ribs removed (this is about 4 ounces of kale)
  • Half a (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup edamame beans, cooked and cooled
  • Mint (use dried if you don’t have herbs on hand)
  • Basil (use dried if you don’t have herbs on hand)
  • A few carrot shreds
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced or slivered almonds


  1. Add all dressing ingredients to a large salad bowl and whisk until combined.
  2. Into the bowl throw the kale, chickpeas, cranberries and edamame. Mince a handful of mint and a handful of basil leaves and toss them in, along with some carrot shreds, if available.
  3. Toss salad well to combine, and garnish with cherry tomatoes and almonds.
Sometimes I double the dressing recipe because I like it that much. :)

I am usually adamantly opposed to dressing a salad prior to consumption. But letting the dressing sit on the kale allows the kale to soften some and really soak in the flavors. Delicious!

Friday, July 26, 2013

I Love a Parade

We took Lucan to his first parade a couple weeks back. It was a big hit! Probably had something to do with the opportunity to eat candy all morning long combined with the chance to point out "trucks" and "cars" and "tractors." Lu doesn't get too much candy unless we are a) bribing b) too lazy to put up the fight and Lu finds some on his own. Usually it's option b and we're too lazy/tired to deal with the inevitable tantrum when we take his treat. So the parade provided a good chance for Lu to munch all morning long on tootsie rolls, suckers, starburst, etc. Super healthy stuff. He did eat a few animal crackers and a box of movie theater popcorn.

Lu and Lance were anxiously awaiting for the parade to begin. They didn't have to wait long as we got there basically as the parade was starting and snagged ourselves awesome curbside seats.
Lance taught Lucan how to wave at the floats and the people throwing candy. Let me tell you, bringing a cute two-year-old to a parade who is waving a little hand at you will elicit a lot of toosie rolls. A lot. And before people just automatically assume that we took all of the candy for ourselves, Lu had his fair share at the parade. 

But how adorable is he? He was enthralled by it all. And notice how his shirt, shorts, sucker and blanket all match. Totally intentional. Just kidding. 


 Lance was pointing out the shiny red firetruck. I tried to frame a family picture in the shiny steel. A fun twist. 

It was the perfect morning for a parade. Slightly overcast and not overly hot. No one baked, which was a relief. Lu had fun going after candy in the middle of the street (which made my heart stop a couple of times) and we had fun seeing a parade through his eyes.

I'm glad that we are having these experiences as a family. Lu's learning about life!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Michigan Trip

Although I am far from being ready to do a post on our Fourth of July trip to MI, here are a couple of collages I've put together.

Mandy is my best friend from college and we are fortunate that Lucan and her daughter, Bridget, are close in age - about 6 months difference. They've met a total of three times, which is pretty impressive as the kiddos are only two and we live 475 miles apart. But each time we get to see each other, it's more and more fun to see our kids interact.

This was Lucan's first go-round with a popsicle. You can tell that Bridget was more experienced with them as she sat, very daintily eating hers. Lucan, well, half of his fell on the ground after not biting it and only licking. Silly Lucan. 

Mandy and I both had Independence Day outfits for the kids. I had visions of having this adorable keepsake picture of both of the kids holding hands in their cute outfits. Instead I got the above.

Lucan was apparently hungry and crabby. They kind of go hand in hand when you are a part of our family. Lu did not want to be told where to stand and rolled in the grass kicking and crying. I sat him next to Bridget - MISTAKE. He was still upset and whapped her upside the head. Which lead to the forth picture - Bridget crying. And that's my story about July 4.

More pictures to come!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party

Is it too late to be posting about Lucan's June 2 birthday party? Probably.
We switched it up a bit this year and had Lu's party back at my parents home. I decided that a big first birthday party is fun, but subsequent parties for at least a couple of years would be smaller. Just family. And by having it at my parents house, not many people had to travel - just us really. Which is a little annoying, but the trade off was I didn't have to prepare a full meal. I'll take it. I know that it doesn't necessarily look like a smaller party, but it was. Just fruit, cupcakes, tortilla roll-ups, coffee, lemonade and gummy worms - some printable decorations - and a lot of popped balloons.

I had all of the printing done here locally. I used a blank template I found online (sorry - I've forgotten the source, if someone knows, let me know) and added our party details.
A sweet friend had purchased a printable party pack on Etsy and she kindly shared it with me. So cute!
We set out the book so people could understand the party's theme if they hadn't already picked up on it already. My mom had also bought gummy "worms" to pose as caterpillars. I eventually had to put the bowl up higher because Lucan had eaten waaayyy too many.
I had leftover paper straws from Lu's first birthday party. I printed out food labels for everything. It's kind of my party thing. But we had all the corresponding food that the caterpillar ate each day. With an exception to Sat. I wasn't about to buy salami, swiss cheese, pickles, etc. The party garland, which is hard to see, had all sorts of different things on it - all the different foods, munch munch munch, the caterpillar, the butterfly, etc. I cut each circle out by hand (I should have borrowed a punch!) and Lance assembled the night before. Lucan had fun ripping the garland down. So typical.
Lucan was hiding in the "jungle" plants. He needed a break from the festivities.
The "Happy Birthday" banner was left over from last year's party. My intention is to reuse every year! A funny story about the balloons. I originally started with a balloon bunch of 12 balloons. It was a little damp and windy and three balloons popped in the parking lot before I even got them loaded into our suv. But by the time the party started, six more had popped when Lucan was playing with them. He cried. But he wasn't annoyed like his father - who just saw wasted money on over-inflated balloons. I just saw a funny story! 

I had printed off Hungry Caterpillar coloring sheets and bought small boxes of crayons as favors. I got told this was probably a waste of money, but to my delight, each little one colored. SO THERE HATERS.

It's hard to talk over shrieking. Just ask the grandpas.

I could blame the three two-year-olds, but Andrea got her fair share of wrestling in too.
I printed off and assembled all of the cupcake toppers. I hired the cupcakes out to a girl I went to high school with and they were really yummy. White with raspberry filling, peanut-butter filled chocolate and cookies and cream!
Lucan liked the candle. Mesmerized.
I had made the suggestion to my parents to buy Lucan a knock-off Pottery Barn Kids "anywhere" chair. Lu loves Lucan-sized furniture and this chair was no exception. He got a lot of nice gifts from our family!
This was taken on June 3 - Lu's actual birthday. We had a leftover cupcake to commemorate. And the obligatory picture with the party hat. Lance didn't like the hat because the butterfly was too "girly." Pshaw. I bought the hat and printed the butterfly out from a printable from Pottery Barn.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Money saving: Water recycling and facebook groups

It’s been a few weeks since I posted any tips about saving money. If you’ve been thinking it’s because we’ve run out of ways to save money, think again. Saving money is always on the forefront of Lance’s mind. Making more money is how I like to roll. We all have different points of view when it comes to money :) 

1. Water recycling. I think that I’ve mentioned a couple of times that my husband is a recycling nazi. He will bring home things from places we’ve eaten at so he can recycle those items. It’s annoying. But Lance has concluded that the key to getting his yard into great shape is actually watering it. Last year Lance operated under the presumption that after month upon months of skin scorching temperatures and no additional water (aside from what Mother Nature bestowed upon us), our lawn would simply go dormant and then come back in the spring. Boy was he wrong. Not only do we have bare patches where nothing came back, we also have rampant crab grass and what I lovingly call “crunchy” grass that you shouldn’t walk barefoot through. But Lance’s new brilliant idea is to save all the excess water we waste while waiting for the temperature of the water to turn hot or cold. He keeps a bucket in the kitchen to store his “recycled” water and then takes it out to the yard daily to water plants. We already utilize a rain barrel for our garden, but it’s hard to collect rain water during a drought. Recycling our indoor water for our yard works for us (well at least Lance. I think this is a little nuts.)
Lucan is helping recycle water for the lawn!

2. Facebook groups. Great for selling (or buying if you are me!) stuff you no longer need. I’ve been finding that many of these area facebook groups are a good way to group like-minded folks who might be selling your next treasure. For example, I bought Lu’s sandbox off of an area FB group. $10. Easy. Cheaper than the sand we put in the box. I’ve also sold a bunch of miscellaneous household items (a mirror, an exercise ball, some lights, a bedding set) all to the same lady. We agreed to a date and time and did our trade. I think these groups led to more serious buyers who will actually follow through. Much more than some of the people I’ve seen on Craigslist.

3. With my FB group tip, I also highly recommend buying some of these larger toddler “play” items used. I like to tell Lance that I’m doing my part in recycling and keeping things out of landfills, but mostly it’s because I want cheap stuff that Lucan will play with. Everything I’ve bought has been in great shape. But it’s because I’m picky about the quality and also the price. To date I have bought the following “large” toy items from various people: a water table, a plastic spaceship sand box with a lid, a play kitchen, and a tool bench. I’ve paid a grand total of $125. I also dug out a Fisher Price basketball hoop out of someone’s garbage can earlier this spring. But that’s a tale for another day!  

This is the exact water table we have. Except I paid 50% less.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why I Hate Pedicures

I get pedicures maybe once a year. It’s not that I don’t like having my feet rubbed, exfoliated and nails painted; it’s the vast over-generalizations that the Asian community makes about me based on my appearance. 
Inevitably, I always have to answer some-what inappropriate questions about where I’m from, how old I was when I was adopted and why I can’t speak any Korean. Don’t get me wrong, I think that I’m pretty open to discussing my background, but I think those questions imply that you have some sort of relationship with me first. And by relationship, I don’t mean that you’ve known me for 20 minutes before you start a line of questions. I understand that the nail techs don’t mean any harm and are just trying to make conversation, but these conversations are all too predictable and I’ve gotten to a point where I’m finding it harder to be gracious. I mean, a homosexual man would probably be offended if you asked them to style your closet just after you’ve been introduced. PEOPLE! VAST OVER-GENERALIZATIONS ARE OFFENSIVE!  I have never been able to go to a nail salon with having the technician ask me about my heritage. Inevitably I leave with fantastic looking toes and yet another nail salon I plan on never visiting again. 
Okay. I'm done ranting. Don't my toes look pretty? In fact Lucan likes to point to my toes and go "pwitty momma"  (pretty momma). That's special :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer fruit galette (aka: rustic tart)

Telling someone that you made a galette will usually result in a blank stare. Sometimes by telling them you made a rustic tart it will clear up confusion, but most of the time, not. Basically that was the conversation I had with dear hubs when I told him what I was planning on making for cooking club.

L: Whatcha making for cooking club?
K: A summer fruit galette.
L: A what?
K: You know, a rustic tart with peaches, strawberries and blueberries.
L: A what?
K: Oh never mind. It's pastry with fruit. You'll like it and there will be extra for you to try.
L: Okay, well you know I'm always on board with taste testing!

The theme was "Easy as 1-2-3" and this dessert certainly fit the bill. By using frozen pie crusts, it greatly cuts down the preparation time. I love that this dessert showcases summer produce at it's peak. If you have access to fresh farmer's market strawberries and peaches - delish! Another great feature is how EASY it is to assemble. Really, the most time consuming part is peeling the peaches and slicing the strawberries. The only thing that I would change about this recipe is to add a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring to really bring out the fruit flavors add a little depth. Oh and one thing I learned - a scoop of vanilla ice cream is never a bad thing :)

  • 2 (9 inch) refrigerated pie crusts 
  • 6 tablespoons turbinado sugar, divided 


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Lay out one pie crust on a baking sheet lined with parchment or on a baking stone, leaving room for the second pie crust next to it.
  3. Mix together the sliced peaches with half the blueberries, 2 tablespoons of the flour and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Pour over one pie crust leaving a 1-inch border. Fold up the uncovered border over the edge of the fruit and pinch into pleats. (Here I brushed egg white on the outer crust before the sugar sprinkling) Sprinkle the crust and fruit filling with 3 tablespoons of turbinado (or raw) sugar.
  4. Lay out the second pie crust on the baking sheet. Mix together the sliced strawberries, the rest of the blueberries, 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl. Pour over the second pie crust and form the galette the same as the first. Add egg wash. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until crust is lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Sprinkle with more sugar if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature (with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Documenting Life: Lucan's 2-year-old Photos

Lance likes to moan and groan about having his picture taken. Mostly because he has a bad habit of blinking and a tendency to slouch. Both things bring out my inner desire to shout “DON’T BLINK! QUIT SLOUCHING! SMILE!” All of which results in Lance looking very unnatural and slightly afraid of getting yelled at by me. Family pictures are fun. (Side note: the best/worst family photos are ALWAYS church directory photos. Why is it they are always so awkward?)

But pictures are important. They are proof of our lives and happiness, an illustration of where we were in that moment in time. I think that pictures become even more important with littles because they grow and change so quickly. Lance commonly likes to ask me how often we’re going to keep having Lucan’s picture taken and my answer is often. Don’t get me wrong, we’re only having pictures taken at the typical milestones: birth, 6 months (or 10 months because I didn’t stay on top of things) and on yearly birthdays – so nothing out of the ordinary.
We’re lucky to have several friends in our lives who are talented photographers. Our friend, Sarah, has been doing photography on and off for about five years. She’s done Christmas card photos, head shoots for both of us for promotional work, maternity photos, Lu’s newborn photos and now Lucan’s two-year-old pictures. We shot these at the end of May in a park by her house and in her small home studio. She’s great to work with and is great working with kids because she has four kiddos of her own! I worried about how Lucan would do during out photo session because he can be a willful little boy with distinct ideas about what he wants. Sarah rolled along with Lucan and did a great job communicating with me ahead of time about my desires for the session. When I told her that I thought it might be fun to use a tricycle or a bundle of balloons, Sarah did a great job identifying how to work those into the session. Overall, the session went as I figured it would – some tears and smiles, a minor meltdown and lots of hugs. In between all of that, Sarah managed to capture the essence of our family of three. I highly recommend going with a “professional” photographer for those important milestone photos. They just don’t compare to all of the candid photos or the canned portrait studio pictures.
 Visit her website to see more of her work!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Planning a Road Trip with a Toddler

We are embarking on our longest road trip to date with Lucan - seven hours (with no stops) to Michigan to see my best friend from college. To say that I'm nervous would be an understatement. But we're hoping for the best and prepared for the worst.

Here are a few things that I've been thinking about as we hit the road this afternoon.

1. If possible, travel during sleep time. We will be leaving after lunch, right before nap time. My hope is that Lucan will take the longest nap possible and we will magically arrive in MI as he's waking up. Haha. I wish. But hopefully we'll get a couple of hours down the road during nap time.

2. Toys. I've stockpiled a few of his birthday presents and bought a couple of new toys to hopefully keep Lu enamored for a little while. I plan on introducing new toys every 1.5 hours :)

3. Snacks. I think that I have enough snacks and food for a couple of days of straight meals of snacks. I've packed things I know Lucan likes (grapes, goldfish crackers, cereal puffs, popcorn) but also a couple of new "fun" snacks that hopefully will be exciting for him (freeze-dried fruit, grahamfuls, apple straws). We're also taking a cooler with cheese sticks, yogurt and carrots. I made an enormous bowl of popcorn, which is always a great road trip food. Until you spill it or you child starts chucking pieces at you.

4. Speaking of snacks, I also packed "snack" containers to minimize spilling. And a roll of paper towels.
5. We're borrowing a portable dvd player from a friend. Lucan likes TV, but doesn't have much of an attention span for it, so I'm not holding my breath for this one. I've got a couple of kids dvds and if I would have been really on top of it, I would have rented a few from the library. But prepping all those snacks basically did me in :)

6. I've prepared myself mentally that one of us will probably spend part of the trip in the backseat entertaining Lucan and playing silly peek-a-boo games. Hubby is really good at this, so I'm volunteering to drive during this stretch.

7. Wise packing. Everything that Lucan will need is packed in his seat, close by. I don't think anyone would consider it a safe choice to be rummaging around in the far back trunk of the SUV while driving 70 MPH down the interstate.

8. Be prepared to stop. Even though google maps says that it's a 7 hour drive, I know it's going to take us longer. Between potty stops and meals, there's elapsed time right there. But I also know that Lu is going to need some time to just stretch and run, so I'm mentally preparing for that too. But while baby sleeps - we will drive and NOT be taking any potty breaks.

9. Wear comfy clothes that are good for traveling.

10. And the end all, share your electronic toys with your child. I have new apps downloaded and as long as Lucan doesn't throw my new iPad, it should be my last ditch effort to entertain him. Lu loves all Apple products and doesn't EVER get to play with them, so this will be a special treat for him.

Road trips are fun memories for all families. Even the ones where you take a toddler :) 

(All toy images are from

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

30 Things I’m Thankful for in June

30 Things I’m Thankful for in June

  1. Lucan’s second birthday!
  2. Being blessed by family who loves to come together and celebrate our little ones.
  3. Our annual summer trip to the Boone’s Lake house in Okoboji. It affords us the opportunity to spend quality, one-on-one time with good friends
  4. Girls Night Out!!
  5. And with #3 comes a ringing endorsement for AWESOME pizza from Gusto Pizza in Des Moines. Try the Soprano pizza – either with chicken or the roasted eggplant. Both are delicious!!
  6. Vacation Bible School. I’ve served in several different capacities at VBS every year and I love the enthusiasm from the kids and parents that comes with VBS. 
  7. My parents who spent entire weekends at our house helping us get miscellaneous house projects done that just never quite get done.
  8. Generous friends who let us borrow their truck to pick up too big of sandboxes that I mistakenly thought would fit in the Traverse.
  9. Facebook swap sites! It seems like selling stuff on FB leads to less flaky people that I encounter on Craigslist
  10. Baby Lincoln getting to go home for a few days before his next round of chemo after months at the hospital.
  11. The chance to serve our Sunday School class by teaching and then doing “arts and crafts” encouragement notes.
  12. Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market!
  13. Valley Junction Farmers Market!
  14. Vegetarian potato cutlets from Saloo’s Indian stand at both markets (yes, I go for the food)
  15. Butterscotch peanut butter samples at the Farmers Market (which I’m too cheap to shell out $8 for a container, so I’ll have to continue to survive on samples)
  16. Fathers and Fathers Day
  17. The birth of another friend’s baby – baby Charlotte!
  18. Gala apples and peanut butter.
  19. The first produce from our garden – arugula on sandwiches.
  20. Lucan had the opportunity with daycare to go to the zoo and the Science Center (I’m a little jealous)
  21. Paying $5.55 for two large pizzas and two orders of breadsticks from Pizza Hut (they screwed up our order – twice)
  22. The inherent wisdom of Tim Keller’s The Reason for God and my own very apparent lack of wisdom.  
  23. Discovering that I can wash all of our Britax car seat covers simply by throwing them in the washing machine (how did I not know this before!?)
  24. Catching up with one of my favorite college friends at work via “work” emails
  25. Zumba classes and looking ridiculous dancing about and sweating profusely.
  26. Lucan started peeing in his frog potty. And when I say “started” I mean he did it once and I’m pretty sure it was a one-time fluke. But now he takes off his diaper every time he thinks he might have inkling to go.
  27.  Honest brand diapers are adorable with their funky prints and designs. And they are expensive. We’ll be sticking to generic.
  28. Sloppy, full on the mouth Lucan kisses. They’ll melt your heart and make you wipe your face when it’s all over.
  29. Des Moines Arts Festival and free Chobani samples. Yep, the free yogurt was the only thing we could afford at the Arts Festival.
  30. Lucan “nests.” He likes to take every single blanket he can find (somewhere around seven or so), all his stuffed animals, a pillow or two, two sippy cups, a snack, a phone (or two) and several large toys and put them all in the big recliner and then snuggle right in. My child is a hoarder.