Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yummy Bean and Ham Soup

I've had food on the brain lately...I actually don't think it's the pregnancy, I think it's just me. Thinking about preparedness, and wanting to improve upon my weak collection of recipes my family loves. Anyway, I called my mom a few days ago for a recipe she used to make in cooler weather. She gave it to me, and we really enjoyed the results. It's tasty, easy, and it uses up a leftover ham bone that otherwise might just be given to the "dogs".

You can probably do many different variations with this, but I'll share how we did it.

Bean & Ham Soup

1 ham bone from a 7-8 lb. ham with meat intact
4 cans beans (great northern, canellini, or navy preferred)
2-3 bay leaves
1/8 c. red wine vinegar (mom uses apple cider, but I was out of that)
1/8 c. worcestershire sauce
pepper to taste
garlic salt to taste
1/2 c. tomato sauce
water to cover ham bone and other ingredients

Combine all ingredients in large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for at least 1 hour (The longer it simmers the more the soup incorporates the flavor from the ham bone and other seasonings).

Right before serving remove bay leaves and ham bone, ensuring all the meat has fallen off the bone. Trim any excess fat from meat, and skim fat if necessary from soup, after letting it cool for a bit. Rewarm, and serve! Makes a great meal for cool fall evenings. I didn't serve anything with this soup; it's a meal in and of itself!

* I read several similar recipes on allrecipes.com that suggest adding a little mustard powder, cayenne pepper, etc. I thought about kicking it up a bit, but decided against it since I was serving this to my family (my kids don't like too much heat).


And the verdict is...

Well, I put this off just a bit hoping for a little more time to do something really cute for the big announcement. Unfortunately, that extra time never came forward. So here it is, the unembellished truth...IT'S A BOY!

The pics spoke for themselves ( I'll try and post these soon). We'll just say this, the little guy had no shame in his manhood, or modesty for that matter. The physical evidence was insurmountable to Jonathan's utter elation (mine too, of course!). We're all excited, and even little Macy has decided, boy or girl, the new baby is going to get lots of kisses and hugs!

On another note, the measurments of the ultrasound showed the pregnancy even a little more advanced than before; so I have no idea when this baby is really supposed to be here. She said I looked about a week further than my paperwork shows. In any case, we're looking at an early to mid-Feb. due date. I'll take anything after 37 weeks, the sooner the better!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back in the saddle

I've been a blogging fool tonight, so if you've got time and curiosity on your side, I suggest finding somewhere comfortable to sit, and bring along a favorite snack in case you get hungry! I've posted pretty much all that's noteworthy from this past summer, and for the most part, am all caught up!

That's all folks

To wrap up a really not-so-bad-afterall summer, we had beautiful weather last weekend. Since it was the final weekend of Summer, we headed out for last hurrah as a family. First stop was Dickinson park, just a couple blocks from our house. Kennedy and Macy both enjoy swinging on the big girl swings, though Macy sometimes forgets to hold on. Since Kennedy is so grown up that she can mount, dismount, and pump all by herself, she figured she was also big enough to push her little sister on the swing. They have so much fun together!

After the park, we stopped in for lunch at the Newtown General Store and delicatessen. This past Summer in my self-loathing, I kind of buried my head to all that Newtown has to offer. I was feeling sorry for myself & the girls, and lonely. It was all purely hormonal, and I'm happy to say that since things have leveled off, I am really enjoying becoming acquainted with our new town (ha!). This deli serves only Boar's head, something I have discovered as a result of marrying into the Cope clan, and is so charming. We all enjoyed our lunch, and the girls especially enjoyed picking out a "penny candy" for dessert.
As you can see from these pics, I'm definitely showing at this point. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen me pregnant before. I'm so short waisted there's no hope of concealing the reality. I'm almost 20 weeks now, and we will be in to see the doctor on Monday morning, 9-29-2008, to determine the sex of the little one within. It goes without saying that we would LIKE a boy, but mostly we would like a healthy, whole child. We'll be ecstatic whatever the outcome. However, I will make a hypothesis and present my case. I believe this is in fact, a boy. Here are the reasons: 1). my morning sickness lasted well into my 18th week (sporadically) with this one, while 14 weeks marked a magical transformation with Kennedy and Macy where that was concerned. 2). I had a linea negra with both Kennedy and Macy by about the 16th or 17th week. It has not made an appearance as of yet this time around 3). With both girls I craved lots of ice cream and sweet things. Ice cream is usually a staple in my diet, albeit the twice churned, half the fat kind. This time it has been salty cravings. Among some of my most fervent desires, McDonald's egg mcmuffin, bacon, baked lays (sometimes the original too!), white cheddar rice cakes, and cheese in all of its glorious varieties (ixnay on the soft, unpasteurized types). 4). I feel more round with this one, where I was more wide with Kennedy and Macy. I'm sure this will change as the weeks progress, as I tend to grow upwards, outwards, and sideways! With such a short waist, I haven't got a prayer! Cast your vote, if you will, and I'll post the results Monday night!

Are you ready for some football??!

I'm not quite sure what it is, the actual REAL fall weather here in Connecticut, or my weird hors' doeuvres cravings with this pregnancy. In any case, as the cooler weather approached, I actually found myself yearning for some football. No NFL here please, I'm more the college football type. Anyway, I guess having wintered the last five years in the South, my psyche had forgotten all about the natural cues that tell us it's time for football. But, though they were slumbering those long years, they weren't extinct. As the cooler weather set in, I actually spoke the words, " I think we need to watch some more football," to my husband. Apparently this was something he actually decided to document for posterity and brag about to his colleagues.

Watching the BYU-UCLA game with Jonathan seemed to seal the deal. It was definitely time for some football. While I know I may come to regret those carelessly spoken words, and perhaps many of you will too when your husbands discover them, I have enjoyed getting in the spirit. It has been helpful that BYU has come with their game on this year...let's hope that continues. To get the girls geared up too, we have started having "football lunches." These are a casual affair, with the only rule being that the foods have to be finger foods. Above is a picture of our most recent football lunch. It included an assortment of deli meats and cheeses (my girls have become real connoisseurs, turning their noses up to the american, processed variety), edamame in the pod, cantaloupe balls, blackberries, carrot spears & ranch dip, chunks of french bread, and a cheese ball with triscuits. Jonathan has felt a little left out, because so far, these lunches haven't actually coincided with a game day. Not to fear Jonathan, we'll spread the table for the next BYU game on Versus!

More Ways to have fun...

While I was feeling a bit sorry for the girls (and myself) that we spent so much of our Summer this year in doors, rather than out, it really was fun and we enjoyed just being together. We spent a lot more time than usual becoming better acquainted with our books, and the girls have started to ask for time to "read" on their own before bed. We acquiesce to this request figuring there are worse things in life than a love of books!
Kennedy and Macy have both gotten in touch with their maternal side of late, taking turns being mother and baby. They do a great job and I am sure they will both be such good help when our little baby (sex undetermined until 9/29/08) arrives. They both claim to have a baby in their tummies, and are quick to remind me when I accidentally bump them!

Kennedy is such a little artist and just enjoys the act of creating. She often gets carried away with the colors, she loves them so much, so that usually her pictures are all brown because she has so intermixed them. On this particular afternoon, she forgot which was her canvas, the paper, the table, or was it her midriff!

On a recent trip to Target we purchased a bottle of bath bubbles. Funny how a little thing like that can inject new life into a ordinary task. The girls actually have always loved bath time, but this latest twist is definitely a welcome change.

Why is it always so much more fun to put bubbles on someone else, and dump water over someone else's head than your own?

Forts, Tents, and Make Believe

One lazy weekend, when the weather was uninviting and the morning sickness still raging, the girls pleaded with us to build a tent, something we had promised long ago. Not wanting to be the parents who promise but don't do, we caved, and the following pics are the result.
Oh, except this one. This is a just a silly pic of Kennedy pulling one of her signature "funny faces" while dressed up in Daddy's waffle house t-shirt. She has a bin full of dress up clothes, but prefers the articles she can find in our closet. What gives??!

With a little teamwork, a few blankets, and a handful of chip clips (yes, you're reading that right (: ), this was our end result. We persuaded the girls that it would be much cooler for them to have their own side (no adults allowed) rather than sleep on the already crowded blow up bed with us. Happily, they agreed! We actually did sleep in this ( it was a Saturday night), and ALL four of us woke up in it the next morning (read: that's true love from Mommy and Daddy!). Jonathan and I did not sleep well, needless to say, and woke with aching backs wondering why we didn't just wander to the comfort of our own bed, only footsteps away. The girls on the other hand, were ecstatic to find their make believe wasn't just a dream after all!
It was really fun to recreate a relic so fond in my childhood memories and to see the girls' eyes light up as we brought the dream to life. They've been asking to sleep in a tent ever since...I'm sure we'll do it again sometime, but probably not for a LONG time!

Childhood Bliss!!!

Uncle Mike makes the big move out East!

Uncle Mike graduated from BYU-I this last Spring (right, Mike?) and made the BIG move from the great NW to the NE to pursue his dream career with the State Dept. No seriously, this guy knows what he wants to do with his life, and while he realizes there's not a tremendous potential for "filthy lucre" with the government, he is nonetheless really excited and very informed on what this career path holds. He is actual a contractor for the government right now, not exactly the dream job, but in this economy who cares? He is just grateful to be gainfully employed. So, while our days here may be counted, it looks like he's here to stay. He had a long weekend over Labor Day and decided to make the ardous trip to our neck of the woods.
After a 5 1/2 hour bus ride from Chinatown, D.C., to Chinatown NYC, he then hopped a train (barely making it in time) for another two hour ride to the depot nearest us. It's really more like an 1 1/2 car ride to the city, but the train is a little slower and stops several times between Grand Central and our station. Needless to say, he was a wee bit tired and hungry, but once again, he was showered with the attention and musings of his dearly beloved nieces and was also very gracious.
Does this tell you anything? Ever since his departure Macy has longed for her "best friend" as she calls him, and prays that his airplane will land safely so Uncle Mike can come back home to stay. It may seem like this steady stream of guests was a bit much for a woman with first trimester sickness, but I think they were all wonderful blessings. 1). they forced me to to maintain some degree of domesticity and 2). they offered me welcome relief where Macy and Kennedy are concerned. I absolutely love being their mommy and enjoy their daily companionship, but it was sooo nice to have others to share that joy with me and offer a little relief for me, and a little change for them. We had such a great time with all our loved ones and hope they all come again next year!
Of course, while Mike was here, we had to take advantage of having an extra pair of strong man arms around. We tried to decide which project would be best to tackle, and settled on the trampoline. We intended to purchase and set this up at the beginning of Summer...but as you have seen, time got away from us. Mike was willing and able and the boys had almost the entire project completed in about 3 hours! After lunching at Panera and dropping Mike off at the train station (where, for the girls, parting was such sweet sorrow), Jonathan and I finished the job that evening before he headed out of town for the rest of the week. The trampoline quickly became a beloved member of the Cope family, adored by all. The girls because of the endless hours of fun and games, Mommy because of the spare minutes it bought her for doing the many things that needed doing, and for Daddy because it made him the hero once again! Thanks Mike and Daddy for all your hard work. We love you guys so much!

Great Grandma Johns and Uncle Jeff visit

Not long after Nana and Charen departed, we were blessed with the arrival of Great Grandma Johns and Uncle Jeff. They came to town for a long weekend to visit and catch up with a cousin of mine who is a resident in NYC. There trip was brief, so brief, that I forgot to take any pictures. Aarrgh! Uncle Jeff made us a mean dinner of steak and potatoes and once again the girls just showered our guests with adoration! They were both very gracious and accomodating to Macy and Kennedy. It was a sad day when we drove them back to the airport only a few days after their arrival. Hopefully at our next meeting, we'll get to have more leisure time...

Nana comes to town!

My beautiful mother-in-law, Nancee Cope used some of her last few days of Summer before school resumed, to come visit us in our new home in Connecticut. She brought Charen along for the extra fun and gas of it!

We had a great time catching up, and doing what ladies do best, SHOPPING! We found some fun outlets (although I've now found even better about the same distance away!) to browse and while away the hours at. I particularly enjoyed the Michael Kors store and the Off Saks...Charen and Nana came away with several bags as well! Nana was so kind with the girls and they just adored her. Oh how we all missed her when she went away. We enjoyed many of the favorite pasttimes of Cope gatherings...playing cards, shopping, gabbing into the wee hours, eating, and commenting on Charen's aforementioned propensity for voluminous amounts of air! (You get my drift, right!) Sorry, Charen, but these kinds of things must be preserved for posterity, am I right?

Palmyra Township, New York

Well at long last I am feeling a marked improvement and ready to get back to blogging! You're gonna need some time when you sit down to catch up on the Cope family, so there's your fair warning!

When I left off my blogging about our experiences in upstate New York, the last thing you saw were the museum pics. Many of you were probably wondering, so what?? Was the pageant a bust? No, in fact, the pageant was great, I just dropped out of the blogosphere before I got to it. So here we are, rendezvousing back in time to catch up on what was left out! Our last evening and afternoon in Palmyra were filled with the excitement of pageantry and visits to places of historical interest in the L.D.S. world. Above is a picture of the Smith Family loghouse, or at least a replica of the one that once was, on the site of the old Smith homestead. You can see the farmhouse from the trailhead to the Sacred Grove. Unfortunately, the weather didn't agree with us, and we struck out for the Sacred Grove Sunday after church in a literal downpour. Being optimistic, we were undaunted and figured the rains would let up after awhile. Wow! We were wrong on that one...so our soggy trip to the Sacred Grove and homestead was severely abbreviated from what would have been. Here's hoping for better timing next year.
By some stroke of fortune or providence, I had the foresight to pack the girls rain gear, "just in case." They were the only kids who were prepared, and many an envious mothering eye looked at us as we trudged through the muddy trail.
We made a pit stop at the L.D.S. bookstore in Palmyra where throngs of people were doing the same thing we were...killing time until the pageant, of course! We bought a few "necessary" things and took a look at the publication site of the first Book of Mormon. We didn't get to do the tour though, because the girls were both sleeping in the van, so Jonathan and I were swapping places to shop and have a peek around...
This hillarious vehicle was parked not far from us in the parking lot for the pageant. It may be hard to tell, but the proud owners of this ride have plastered all kinds of relics, keepsakes, trinkets, etc. to the body of the car. I'm guessing antics like this are what give us "mormons" such a bad rap, eh?
As the time for the pageant drew closer, the characters came out to meet & greet, sharing testimony of the restoration, as well as inviting us to suggest a friend or two who might be interested in learning more! We picked a couple of dear friends, who we knew would love us whether or not they chose to hear the missionaries (:

Kennedy and Macy were oblivious to the rain, or rather, the rain just made it that much more fun! Who can resist stomping in the puddles when you're decked out like this?
We thoroughly enjoyed this jaunt into our neighboring state, and are looking forward to next year when we'll have another chance to catch what we missed this year!