Friday, August 31, 2012

Sibling Laughter

She's always an easy laugh for her brother.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rib Master's Ribs

Well, I think I've done it.  I think that I've made the best ribs ever.  I'm not sure if I take a good picture of ribs, but I'll promise this: they taste awesome!  It's a 4-5 hour process, which is pretty short for ribs.  There is a debate going on in my family.  Is boiling ribs cheating or essential?  My dad (the chef) says it's the key to good ribs, and my brother (who worked at a BBQ joint with bad ribs) said boiling is considered cheating in the BBQ world.  I did what was essential and cheated.  Here's the process:

Some Dang Good Ribs

Ribs (mine came from my dad's pigs)
white vinegar
onion powder
hot sauce
dry rub (I use this recipe)
apple cider vinegar (or water)

Directions: Boil. Grill. Roast.  Here we go:

BOIL: Bring water, white vinegar, hot sauce, and garlic powder to a rolling boil.  Add ribs and boil for just a few minutes.  They need to turn white and look ugly.  

Pull the ribs out and let rest until it's cool enough to handle.

Once they're cool enough, rub them down with the spices.  Be generous.  

I ommit the brown sugar from spices.  I never use white pepper.  I'm usually out of at least one of the spices.  It's a forgiving recipe.

GRILL: Head out to the grill and place the meat on indirect heat.  Grill for 30-45 minutes, flipping once.  

ROAST: Bring them inside and place them in a dish.  Cover the bottom of the dish with a little bit of apple cider vinegar or water.  Cover tightly with foil.  Roast them at 300 until tender and the meat is loosened.  It usually takes 3 hours.

This week, we served them with spicy cilantro slaw and sweet potato fries with chipotle dipping sauce.  It was a great meal, but I'm sure there are a ton of other great sides (collard greens anyone?) that would be great as well.

 The first time that I made these, Burl took one bite and with a deep husky man voice proclaimed, "Mmm.  Mama, dat good!"  He didn't even look up, he just kept on eating.  We all agreed that the ribs were great.  Thanks, Dad, for supplying me with ribs and a good recipe.  If I missed anything, will you post it in the comments?  

I hope this turns out well for everyone.  I'll pre-welcome everyone for introducing you to the best ribs ever.  You're welcome.  Dat good.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Outfits, The Past 7 Days

A few weeks ago, I announced to my friends that I was going to start wearing dresses to church and I didn't want them to act surprised or make a big deal.  Like I've said before, I'm the most casually dressed one of all my friend circles.  Buying a royal blue shirt and putting a patch on my shorts are the riskiest decisions that I made this summer.  When we were at the park last week,  I saw a mom of two on a picnic and she was wearing a casual tank dress. I thought, "now that looks casual and cute.  Time to step it up, Meg."  Plus, I have exactly one pair of shorts that fit without having to tug them up every 2.3 seconds, so I'm pulling some dresses and skirts out of storage and working those into my wardrobe.    

There are many reasons that I change outfits during the days (running clothes, dinner out clothes, dirty project clothes, etc.).  Instead of recording each wardrobe change, I took pictures when I could.  I made it interesting by taking them in different places in my house, along with the extra signs of life in the background.  

I'm still in the mom-of-2-little-babies stage.  Chaco flips are on my feet 99.4% of the time.  Necklaces are just a safety hazard.  I feel naked without my one indulgence-my $3.99 pearl earrings that I wear all the time.  Even though I am not and do not aim to be a fashionista, I thought I would share some of the things I wore this week:

Play with the kids, one errand, loads of heat
Dress: Gap Outlet, only $6.99!

This is staple climbing outfit.  Climbing at the gym:
Tee: A colorful selection from the stack
 Capris: Gap Fit, the best fitting ones ever!

Burl's cousins came over to play (what a treat!)
Tee: Gap
Shorts: J. Crew, 11 years old, patched by me

This day had a few wardrobe changes and I can't remember why.  This is what I wore when we went out to dinner and to the playground
Cardigan: Gap, 13 years old
Dress: Old Navy
Tank: Old Navy 

Church (a real improvement from the jeans that I usually wear to church)
Dress: Gap, birthday gift from my mom
Fancy flip-flops: Bass Outlet, 9 years old 

This was another day of wardrobe changes (including a bathing suit for Monday Funday at the pool).  This is what I wore after the pool to the grocery store and home to make dinner:
Tank: Old Navy
Skirt: I have no idea.  I've had this since college.  I think my mom passed it down to me.

Lunch at my dad's.  Play at the park.
Skirt: Old Navy, 6 years old
Tee: Gap

These pictures are a bit fancier than my normal shorts-and-tee-combo that I could be found in most of the summer.  The three reasons that brought the change was:
1. I only have one pair of shorts that still fit well.
2. My picture was taken everyday. 
3. That one mom at the park made it seem so appealing.  

Dressing better or nicer or cuter or fancier is not one of my life goals.  In fact, I'm trying to learn to be less concerned with my appearance.  But, I'm a girl.  I want to be pretty.  I want to have nice posture.  I want to be healthy.  I want to be comfortable.  I want to be myself.  That can be seen by the choices that I make when I get dressed.

For real fashionistas and other ladies who take pictures of their outfits, visit The Pleated Poppy.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

This Week's Menu

Well, my friend bluntly confronted us today: we're coming those people.  Those people that find some platform that they talk about with so much passion to the point that anyone outside of the obsession is left out.  Examples: Spark, The Bachelor, Homeschooling, and mine, Whole30.  I tried it for a month and it was great!  I loved it {obviously} and would recommend it to anyone!  A small group of my friends have done it as well and today we went into our obsession and talked like crazy people about squash, almond flour, coconut oil, and cauliflower.   I've got some good stuff on the menu and working in my head.  Thanks girls!  You're a reminder that we're all in this together and sharing cooking secrets is the definition of camaraderie.  

This is what we're eating this week:

Garlic and red pepper crusted tilapia, green beans, butternut squash cauliflower
Ribmaster's ribs, sweet potato fries with chipotle dipping sauce
Beans and sausage, tomato and cucumber salad
Cooking club for me, pizza for everyone else.

Friday, August 24, 2012

In Search Of A Quarry

We didn't have anything planned for the day.  We had open time and I had an itch for an adventure.  I wanted to take the kids, explore something new, and make some everyday memories.

I remembered that there was a quarry not far from me.  I visited it years ago and had seen pictures of it on Facebook.  It kept popping in my head, basically taunting me to come find it.

Well, the original way that I knew to go was blocked and claimed "private party." So, I went another way through a public park.  We ran around the park, ate apples, and had a mini photo shoot.

During our hunt, we found this serene little spot by a creek.  It was quiet, peaceful, and perfect.  I'm pretty sure that we could take a ship down the water to Where The Wild Things Are.  A still creek gets my imagination flowing even more than being in the middle of the woods at 8:45 in the morning.

We never found that quarry, but we found an old cabin for searching and screaming.  We found open fields and paths to run.  We found a garden to enjoy.  We found a normal middle-of-the-week adventure.

As much as I'm going to remember staying at home and playing all day, I'm going to remember what fun it was (and still is) to pack up the kids and take them on little outings that get us out of the house and exploring something new.  

As we were loading up to head home, I found a couple of guys (who were probably at the first Woodstock) who told me just how easy it was to get to the quarry.  I tucked that little nugget of information in my back pocket for when we try again, because there will be many more agains.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Boobs-N-Tubes, 2012

That's about the trashiest little saying, but trust me when I say it's so funny to say.  The more it's said, the funnier it gets.  It's especially funny when they ask for a group name when we sign in and that's what we give them.  

This was the 4th Annual trip down the Hiwassee River, my second time.  It's hard to describe how fun it is, but it all boils down to this: we laugh the entire time we're on the river.  Everything is funny.  We take our time.  We enjoy the scenery.  We retell past river stories.  A double negative is the best way to describe it: nothing is not funny.

We usually rent tubes and casually float, barely touching the cold water.  This year, it was pretty cool, so we opted for the raft with paddles.  That was a fun change.

On the way up there and the way home, we rehash all the funny memories.  This is the year that: 

One tiny girl road shot gun and barely touched her paddle.
The tallest girl fell out of the boat and went completely under water.
We got our boat stuck 49201 times.  
Those drunk guys were beside us and gave us funny material for most of the trip.

Nothing beats the combination of girl time, laughter, and a dose of mother nature.
I can't wait for next year!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dancing Machines

If you're my friend on Facebook, then you're probably sick of this photo.  I've plastered it all over the place.  It sums up a very fun night for me.  

Saturday night, we were in Johnson City for my cousin's wedding.  The only other cousin to get married is me and that was 8 1/2 years ago, so I was more than ready to party with my cousins.  There was cake and food and decorations, but most importantly: there was dancing.  I love dancing, I love cousin time, and I love those rare occasions that I get to bust it with my brothers.  

I looked half decent for the first thirty minutes of the reception.  Then, John took Fern back to the hotel to go to bed, and he left me to the dance floor.  After the first dances and the toasts, the dance floor was empty.  My brother had a plan: we each dance onto the floor from the four corners.  My brothers, cousin, and I danced our way to the center of the floor while the band belted out a rowdy rendition of this song, forever associating that song with a good time.  Thankfully, my mom was trigger happy with my camera and got some great action shots.  Enjoy:

Garter toss.

We rocked it.  Hardcore.  Joseph did a great worm that ended in a break-dancing spin pose thingy.  Daniel kept pointing to me and yelling to the crowd, "That's my sister!" One lady told me she wanted to take me home.  One girl told me that I was the best dancer she's ever seen.  One lady got her husband to take her picture with my brothers and I, because we are "stars."  I'm not sure our moves were that good, but I can assure everyone that we had the most fun out there.  

By the end of the night, we were sweaty and smiling.  We grabbed a picture with my mom that turned out great.  We were too happy and excited to be anything else but thrilled to be there.  All danced-up and everything.  Those good times were rolling!

Congrats to John and Whitney, who fell in love on Capitol Hill, and are headed to Rome right now.  Thank you for throwing one heck of a wedding.  It was top notch.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This Week's Menu

Good gracious, the challenge is over.  It's been four weeks of major food restrictions, and I'm so excited to start eating beans again.  Legumes, let's never fight again, ok?  I need you in my life.

Bacon wrapped burger patties, grilled okra
Spicy Lentil Dahl, jasmine rice
Kale and white bean salad
Jerk black beans and brown rice
Vegetable soup

Thursday, August 16, 2012

At Home With The Kids

From breakfast to lunch, I snapped 47pictures of the children.  
Here we are in a much needed day-at-home: