Celebrating 90 Years!

We celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday this past weekend! Thanks to my Daddy Ken, I have a completely unrealistic idea of what aging looks like. He still works out and up until a few years ago he was the one teaching an exercise class for seniors. His mind is as sharp as ever and he is in better health than many people who are 20 years younger. Also he is kind of hilarious. See below. 😉

daddyken.jpg

Daddy Ken is the one who taught me how to drive. He has always been exceedingly patient with me and showered me with kindness and love. I can’t think of one time when he has ever spoken harshly to me.

the whole fam.jpg

He taught me how to cook eggs in bacon grease and how to mix cereal and how to eat molasses and butter together properly. He taught me how to cut my own hair into layers so I wouldn’t look like a total ragamuffin in between my visits to see him when we lived overseas or when I was in college.

us with dk

When we moved overseas and would come back to America for visits, his home was the one place that felt like a home-away-from-home to me since he lived in the same house for nearly all my life.

the add ons{The “add ons” as they call themselves. Daddy Ken with his sons-in-law and grandsons-in-law}

He taught me about fidelity and loyalty and true love as I watched him care for my grandmother who battled cancer on and off for 20 years. And then again as he cared for his second wife, sweet Mrs. Carolin, as she recovered from a stroke.

dk and carolin

He taught me that having fun doesn’t stop at a certain age. Being silly and laughing with family and friends has always been high on the priority list.

daddyken2

He taught me about being a faithful follower of Christ. He leads by quiet example and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

rach and daddyken

This is my grandfather. He is truly one of the most special people in my life. I am so very thankful for the nearly 30 years that I have spent being blessed by him. Happy 90th, Daddy Ken!

Love Rach

San Francisco!

Another video for you guys today! We had a blast in San Francisco!

Notes: 

– The Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf were one of my favorite highlights! I know I only have a few seconds of video of them, but we sat there for a long time just watching them play together. So cute!

– Christopher is giving you a tour of our hotel room because we were very pleasantly surprised to find out that our “free hotel stay” (thanks to Hyatt credit card points) landed us in the Presidential Suite of the hotel! Faaaaancy!

– Christopher tried his first moon cake from Chinatown! And I got to eat sponge cake again! Both were much sweeter than I remember from when we lived in China, but it was fun to relive those memories.

– We ate a lot of good food while in San Fran, but the Italian Homemade Company was the best! Oh my gracious, that pasta was heavenly! Reminded us of the pasta we ate outside Vatican City in Rome! 🙂

Love Rach

Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks!

We got home from the west coast late last night and then hit the ground running today. But I wanted to go ahead and share our National Parks video with you guys today because things aren’t going to be slowing down any time soon and I don’t want to get too far behind in blogging. So enjoy a little sneak peak at our time at Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks!

Notes:

– Most of the footage was taken at Yosemite & Sequoia. The General Grant Tree is really the only thing we saw at Kings Canyon while passing through.

– We took the random shot of me standing on the snow (1:28) to show just how much snow there was in some places. I’m technically standing a couple of feet above the path. You can look behind me in the photo for a park bench that’s half covered in snow for reference.

– It was all amazing, but one of my favorite things was that we celebrated Easter Sunday at Sequoia National Park. We stopped along the Tall Trees Trail and read the resurrection story from Matthew. So so powerful. The snow glistening around us, the bubbling stream, the towering Sequoias, the sun breaking through the trees. It was like being on holy ground. He is risen. 🙂

Love Rach

Recent Happenings

We have been knocking out our house to-do list lately. Marking things off right and left! It has been so satisfying to get this stuff done. We still have a few things to work on before Baby Girl arrives this summer, but the majority of the “must do” list is done. Which is good since our weekends are pretty packed between now and mid-June. Whew!

Passover.jpg

We celebrated Passover with our friends this week which is one of my favorite things! I’ve written before about why we celebrate it even though we’re not Jewish if you are curious. 🙂

24 wks.jpg

This week we hit the 6 month mark. Wow. Just absolutely wow. And everything is looking awesome with Baby Girl! We saw the high risk OB last week and got to watch Baby Girl do her yoga (seriously, feet and hands in front of her face constantly – totes adorbs) and we’ll see the regular OB this next week to check in again. Right now we see at least one of our doctors every other week (sometimes more depending on what’s going on). And at week 32 that will change to bi-weekly appointments (seeing both the high risk OB and regular OB every week). I know I’ve said it before, but we are so thankful for the awesome medical care we have received and knowing that Baby Girl is being looked after so carefully!

Painting furniture.jpg

Her nursery is beginning to come together! The walls have been painted and all of her furniture has been painted as well. Oh, and for anyone who is concerned – that’s No VOC paint in a well ventilated area (our open garage). Totally had the doctor’s blessing before I painted anything. 😉

registries.jpg

We finally registered! I say “finally” because sweet people have been asking for weeks when we’re going to have a registry for them to start shopping from, haha! We have everything together in one place on our Amazon registry (here if you’re curious), but we also registered for a few things at both Babies R Us and Target since we know some people prefer to shop in a brick & mortar store. If you notice anything that was a “must have” for you that’s missing from our list it’s hopefully because we’ve already picked it up from a consignment sale (I’ve been to four so far! 😀 ) and have it already. But let me know just in case! These new parents might be missing a few things!

Love Rach

Cincinnati Inspired Chili

I can’t call this true Cincinnati chili for a couple of reasons. First of all, I just can’t bring myself to pile that much cheese on top of my chili (Exhibit A from our visit to Skyline Chili). And instead of cheddar – I like to use Colby Jack because it’s my fav. And finally, both Christopher and I like kidney beans so I go ahead and cook them in the chili instead of adding them on top. So as you can see, this isn’t truly Cincinnati Chili. But the flavors and spices are definitely inspired by it. I’ve been using this recipe from What’s Cooking America for several years and it has come out well every time I’ve made it.

Cincinnati Chili (2).JPG

Cincinnati Inspired Chili 

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans
1 (16 oz) package spaghetti noodles

Optional Toppings: Shredded Cheddar (or Colby Jack!) Cheese, Oyster Crackers,  and/or Chopped Onion.

Directions:

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onion, ground beef, garlic, and chili powder until ground beef is slightly cooked.

2. Add allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, unsweetened cocoa, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, and water.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour 30 minutes.  Remove from heat.

3. When the chili is about 20 minutes from being finished, begin to boil water for spaghetti. Cook spaghetti according to package directions and transfer onto individual serving plates (small oval plates are traditional).

4. Top spaghetti noodles with chili and cheese (as well as other additional toppings if desired).Cincinnati Chili (1).JPG

I love that Cincinnati chili is served over spaghetti noodles. We eat regular chili over pasta sometimes so that’s just feels like home to us. And I love how the cinnamon, cocoa powder, and allspice mingle together with the traditional chili spices to make such an awesome combination. Those sweet spices may not seem like they should belong in chili, but somehow Cincinnati chili just makes it work! 🙂

Have you had Cincinnati Chili?
Love Rach

French Onion Soup

Remember that one time I was surprised to find out that “onion soup” in France was what we call French Onion Soup in America? I still laugh when I think about how surprised I was to see that delicious bowl of French onion soup arrive at the table in Paris. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read about it here. But moving on…

I love a good French onion soup. And it’s one of Christopher’s favorite foods so I’m not sure why we haven’t tried making it at home before. I pinned a recipe for it several years ago and kept thinking I’d get around to it eventually. The time finally came at the end of March. I’ve been cleaning out my “to make” list on Pinterest and I decided to try my hand at French onion soup.

Usually I find recipes online and adapt them to our tastes, but I knew literally nothing about making French onion soup before making this recipe so I stuck really close to the instructions I found on TheKitchn website. Speaking of, I definitely recommend checking out the very detailed post there on the best pans, toast, cheese, and extras to use for French onion soup.

French Onion Soup (2).JPG

French Onion Soup by TheKitchn

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds yellow onions
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
8 cups beef broth
3 tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine
6 to 8 baguette slices, toasted
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded

Directions:

1. Cut each onion top to bottom: Peel away the skin. Slice each half of the onion into thin, evenly-sized half moons. Cut the half moon slices in half.

2. Melt the butter with the oil in the pan set over medium-low heat. After the butter foams up and then settles down, add the onions and stir to coat with the butter. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes on low heat.

3. Remove the lid. The onions should have wilted down somewhat. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, a generous quantity of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar (to help the onions caramelize). Turn the heat up to medium and cook, uncovered and stirring every few minutes, until the onions are deeply browned (about 40 minutes – 1 hour). Turn down the heat if the onions scorch or stick to the pan; the browning doesn’t come through burning, but through slow, even caramelization.

4. As the onions approach a deep walnut color, heat the broth in a separate pot.

5. Add the flour: Add 3 tablespoons flour to the caramelized onions and cook and stir for about 1 minute. Add white wine to onions and stir around. Add the hot broth to the caramelized onions and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and partially cover the pan. Cook gently over low heat for at least 1 hour or until the broth is slightly reduced.

6. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

7. Heat the oven to 350°F. Divide the soup between small but deep oven-safe bowls. Top each with a slice (or two) of toasted baguette and sprinkle grated cheese in a thick layer over the bread and up to the edge of the bowl. Place the bowls on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish. Bake until the cheese is thoroughly melted (about 15-20 minutes).

8. Turn the oven from bake to broil and broil the soup for 1 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Remove carefully from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving on heatproof dishes or trivets. Makes 6 – 8 one cup servings.

You guys… it was so simple. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I had some teary eyes from chopping onions and there was definitely a good bit of standing over the pot and stirring the onions as they caramalized, but otherwise – it’s simple. A little hands on time for a delicious meal! Christopher raved about this one. He went to work the next day and told people about it, ha! So trust me (and TheKitchn expert), this is delicious!

Have you made French Onion Soup before?

Is there something you’ve been meaning to get around to making, but just haven’t yet?
Love Rach

Chocolate Peanut Butter “Ice Cream”

Do you guys remember when everyone was making “ice cream” with frozen bananas? It was all over blogs and Pinterest a few years ago. I even shared a recipe that I had made from someone else’s blog back then. And it was delicious. I’m not sure why I stopped making it for snacks. But I know why I started again. 😉 Baby Girl loves sweets and since I limit my sugar-intake, I’ve been reminded of this old favorite way of eating a healthier sort of “ice cream.”

And instead of pulling out a bunch of ingredients, I decided to go with an even simpler recipe. Like 3 ingredients sort of simple. So I tossed a ripe frozen banana, 1/2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter into my Ninja blender. Want to know what came out? This deliciousness:

PB Cocoa Banana 'Ice Cream'.JPG

Check out that creamy goodness. The texture is ON POINT. Hello afternoon snack. 🙂

As a note: when I freeze my bananas, I peel them and break them into 1″ chunks before putting them in a freezer bag to store. Maybe that’s an obvious tip, but I definitely didn’t start out by breaking up my bananas when I first started freezing bananas for my breakfast shakes and it took way longer for them to process in my Ninja. Happy Blending! 🙂

Love Rach