Our Maple Tree

Keeping up with The Maples


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Mini Meals

We love food in this house, if you haven’t guessed. We love cooking and trying new things. Thankfully, we have been blessed with a little one that loves food too! I have really enjoyed introducing food to Ada. I love researching new meals for her to try and watching her discover new tastes and textures.

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A lot of times, Ada just eats what we eat, but I do make some things just for her to enjoy. Here is a round up of her favorites:

Mini Cheese and Asparagus Fritattas: This is super easy and tasty! I diced the asparagus and sautéed them with a salt and pepper. I wisked up 4 eggs and a splash of milk, added a small handful of shredded cheddar cheese and the asparagus. Baked them in a mini muffin pan and done! I froze the frittatas and I reheat them when needed. Ada loves them so much! I have to watch her carefully, otherwise she will stuff her mouth full of them and choke.

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Greek Yogurt and Fruit: This is another favorite of Ada’s. Our favorite greek yogurt is Cabot French Vanilla, it seriously tastes like vanilla ice-cream. It is my favorite yogurt and I always join her when I make this for her. 😉 I will sometimes give this to Ada as a dessert at the end of the day. Since she is such a good eater, I don’t mind giving her something sweet.

Healthy Banana Pancakes: This is a simple recipe and it is delicious! They taste similar to banana bread but they are much lighter. We eat them with and without maple syrup. And Ada’s favorite fruit is banana, so she eats them like candy. I make a batch and freeze them to use throughout the week.

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Turkey and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: These have been a favorite for everybody around here. I found some sliced white cheddar cheese and they make the best grill cheese! I add turkey for some protein and a tiny bit of mayo – best grilled cheese ever!

Mini Chicken Pot Pies:  I have actually never made chicken pot pie before, so I wanted something easy. This recipe is so easy and fast, which is necessary in my book when it comes to cooking dinner. The witching hour occurs during dinner prep – ya’ll know what I am talking about, right? Worst time of the day!

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Pasta e Fagioli: This is an all time favorite in our house. We all love this stuff! It is easy, so delicious, and healthy. What more can you ask for? I use my mother’s secret recipe, sorry can’t share! But there are lots of recipes out there that I am sure are amazing. I usually make a large batch and pressure can it.

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Mexican Sweet Potatoes Skins: This is another favorite that everyone loves. I just add black beans, cheese, and a little bit of salsa to Ada’s potato. She loved this combo when she was eating purees, now she eats it like we do. For ours, we add a little more flavor with cilantro, cumin, onion, hotter salsa, etc.

You can find so many ideas and recipes for babies/toddlers on blogs and Pinterest. This is just some ideas that have worked for us and meals that Ada just loves. What are some of your go to meals for your littles? Happy Friday ya’ll!


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Spaghetti and Meatballs

A few nights ago we had a date night in… life has been so busy that all we have wanted to do is stay home! So I made a spaghetti and meatball casserole. This was actually the first time I have ever made meatballs. Sad, I know!

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I got the recipe from my favorite magazine, Celebrate. This magazine has never lead me a stray! Great ideas and great recipes!

And you can’t go wrong with this recipe! Spaghetti topped with hearty meatballs, rich marinara sauce, and a modest amount of melted mozzarella cheese on top – this one is a keeper!

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The salad was simple – baby greens, broccoli slaw (a new thing of us), bell peppers and tomatoes all served with ranch dressing.

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Very colorful and the broccoli slaw adds a nice crunch to the salad!

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And dessert was just as simple! I mixed a box of brownies and added toffee and semi-sweet chocolate bits. Baked as instructed on the box, then added carmel, toffee bits and chopped pecans. The carmel is what makes this oh so good! (I used Breyers brand of carmel.)

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All washed down with a glass of red wine, of course! As Gino said in Italy, “Wine should never leave the table!”

This meal is great for weeknights, it is quick and easy (just cook the meatballs ahead of time). And it is perfect for a big crowd… I’m pretty sure we ate on this casserole for a good week – lunch and dinner!

Something about spaghetti and meatballs just hits the spot! Enjoy!


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June Love List

I’m getting this one out on time! Thank goodness! 😉

 

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1. This Coleman Steel belted Cooler is awesome! I love the retro look and it feels so much sturdier than the plastic ones (our plastic one has seen better days)! They come in several different colors, but the green was my favorite. It perfectly matches our 1945 Coleman lantern that was given to us by Randy’s father! It will come in handy this summer for picnics, BBQs and camping.

2. I love, love, love my new Michael Kors rose gold watch! I have abnormally tiny wrists so finding bracelets and watches to fit is a challenge. This watch is the mini style so the face is a bit smaller, which works perfectly for me. So if you have little wrists or want a watch that is a little bit smaller, than get this one!

3. I just got this dress from modcloth.com. It fits like a glove and I love the vintage feel. It is red, white and blue so I will be sporting this dress on July 4th this year!

4. Along with the dress I got this hat. It is even cuter in person! I plan on wearing it with my new dress on July 4th! Now I just need a pair of red sandals… 😉

5. This is Essie Watermelon and I love watermelon colors. This pinkish-red hue is the perfect color for summer (well, in my opinion)!

I have discovered some new recipes this month that I am loving as well!

This kale and wild rice bowl with honey-balsamic vinaigrette is amazing! I made a few alterations, but nothing major. I added more spinach than kale (Randy prefers spinach) and I added walnuts instead of almonds (because I didn’t have any almonds on hand). But it was delicious! I love Iowa Girl Eats, this blog is my favorite place to go to find a wonderful recipe! I will be making this dish very often!

The second recipe that I tried this month was grilled angel food cake from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. Now I like angel food cake, but grilling it makes it even better! It tastes similar to toasted marshmallow! Warning: Once you tried grilled angel food cake, there is no going back. 

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I am looking forward to July 4th this year. I cannot wait to share these recipes with my family. What are your plans for July 4th?

 


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New Schedule and Life Lately

Randy and I have been so busy. With spring well on its way, we have been more motivated to do things around the house. We have been spring cleaning the house for weeks now – we have cleaned out the garage, our closets, cleaned all the rooms, finished projects, etc, etc. On top of all that we have started a new workout routine.

We have started the T25 workout. For those of you who do not know, it is a high intensity workout that only last 25 minutes (plus a 2-5 minute stretch session). You do one workout everyday, 6 days a week. We have been participating for a week and half now and I am liking it. I like that it is only 25 mintues. We get up every morning at 5 am to do this workout. Getting up at 5 am every morning has been difficult and has thrown off our schedule a bit. It is just something we are not use to yet. I hope to make it a habit, but it is going to take time.

The workout so far has been intense, but not so intense that I can’t keep up. I am tired after every workout, which is good. My muscles are sore for days! Especially my legs. But it is a good feeling, knowing that I am getting a decent workout. I will keep you updated as we continue.

I have also joined the #1800MinuteChallenge. You can read all about it here. I thought this could help me stay more motivated in my workout. Read about it and join in on the fun!

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To compliment our new workout, I have found some new healthy dishes that we are loving. One being this salmon dish that I found on pinterest. You can find the recipe here or see below. I like serving it with a side of roasted potatoes.

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We also have been drinking protein shakes like crazy. My favorite being peanut butter banana. The shake is simple: banana, vanilla whey protein, peanut butter and ice cubes. Sometimes Randy will added calicum and fiber powder in our shakes.

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On top of our new workout routine, we have been busy in our social life as well.

Some of my girlfriends just turned 30 and they had a joint birthday party this past weekend.

The birthday girls. I loved their cake! 29-ish… haha! 🙂

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And of course, I am the cool girl at the bar who got excited about seeing a geo survey!

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We have had family to visit, church activities, birthday parties and household chores. I am looking forward to just sitting down and relaxing… but I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon! Oh well! That is what spring/summer is all about, right?

Hope everyone is having a great week! Happy Hump Day!


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Birthday Blessings

This past weekend we went to my family’s to celebrate my grandfather’s 88th birthday, my sister’s 37th birthday, my nephew’s 17th birthday and my brother’s 26th birthday. Lots of birthdays! It was the first time we had all of my family together, in one place, in a long time. It was really nice to see everyone and I think it really made my grandfather’s birthday.

But what really made my weekend very special was my grandfather. As we arrived at my grandparent’s house, my grandfather gathered us all in the living room. One by one he placed his hand on our shoulder and prayed a blessing for us. It has always been important to my grandfather that we follow the Lord and my grandfather has always been the ultimate example for all of us.

Psalm 138:8 – “My children will fulfill God’s will and purpose for their lives.”

He would take a few moments to tell us how proud he was of each of us and how blessed he was to have his family. I don’t believe their was a single dry eye in the room.

Psalm 127:3 – “My children are a reward and gift from the Lord, and I will enjoy them.”

It was probably the most touching moment I have ever experienced with  my family. Us Greenes, are not a very talkative group, especially regarding feelings. 😉 But pa-paw expressed it all in the best possible way. I just wish that I had recorded it or filmed it so I could look back on that memory again and again.

Afterwards we enjoyed a wonderful meal. My mom’s wonderful salad, my aunt’s meatballs, my grandmother’s traditional jalapeno cornbread… mmm… my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

I brought red velvet icebox cookies. Little note: if you make these, let them sit, iced, for a little while. Otherwise, they are a bit crunchy!

(Recipe came from SugarHero, but the recipe is down below.)

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My little cousin really liked the cookies! 🙂

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After eating we took family photos. Randy and I unfortunately forgot our camera… I know! Worst thing! But I did have my point and shoot camera, which was better than nothing. The pictures are not great, but at least we have some.

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It took a couple of times to get a good shot! 🙂

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I believe this one turned out to be the best one.

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Me, my siblings and my grandparents.

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Next mom wanted some pictures of just me and my siblings.

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And we had some fun with it. 🙂

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And this is where we use to eat breakfast whenever we spent the night as kids. It is a little bit tighter than I remembered! 😉

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Our weekend was a blast! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. And it is my hope that you can spend quality time with your families as much as possible. I know that it can be difficult to find the time and gathering everyone from different cities is near impossible. But family really is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us. And I think that every second spent with family is a precious one and one that is worth working for.

I hope everyone’s week has gone well! Happy Friday Eve!


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Passport to Italy: Siena Day Five

Our fifth day in Italy was October 17th – Our 4 Year Wedding Anniversary!

We had a wonderful night’s sleep and got up bright and early.

The first thing we did was look at our view. Isn’t the fog so beautiful?

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Their garden.

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At Frances’ Lodge you fill out a form every night on what you want for breakfast the next morning and slide it under your door. When you get to the breakfast room, your breakfast is waiting for you.

Now their breakfast was amazing! I mean, the best breakfast ever! You could get just about anything you wanted for breakfast. Eggs (any way you liked them), fried bacon (which was the best bacon I have ever put in my mouth), fruit, different cheeses, slices of meat, all their homemade jams, local honeys, homemade yogurt and granola. The list goes on! Everything we ordered was fantastic! We filled ourselves up to the brim every morning here!

This was our view every morning. You can see Siena in the distance.

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My sweet hubby!

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The innkeepers here at Frances’ Lodge were a husband and wife team that lived here in the farm villa. They were the nicest people ever. They made you feel so comfortable there in their home. Even though there were other guests, we felt like we were the only ones there. Every morning they asked us where we were going and they would give us hand drawn maps and give us turn by turn directions. We never got lost when we used a map from them. I was so thankful for their maps and directions since I was the navigator! 🙂

This day we went to Siena. Siena was about a 5 minute drive from the B&B. Siena, according to travel guides, is the best preserved medieval city in Tuscany. The square or Il Campo, is beautiful and unique in its shape. It has a fan-shaped square instead of the standard square or rectangle shape. Il Campo is known worldwide for the famous Palio run here, a horse race run around the piazza two times every summer.

If you look at the pavement in the square you can see nine sections. The nine sections of the fan-like brick pavement of the piazza represent the council and symbolizes the Madonna’s cloak which shelters Siena. The square is dominated by it bell tower.

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People come here and just lounge around the square. It was a very calming atmosphere. No one really rushed around you or pushed you out of the way. They just strolled around the city and mingled with others.

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Siena’s cathedral, in my opinion, was the prettiest of all the churches we visited. I have never seen so much detail in one place. Built between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure, the cathedral is in the form of a Latin cross with a slight projecting dome and bell tower. The exterior and interiors are decorated in white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, black and white being the symbolic colors of Siena.

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This day we reserved a tour to take inside Siena’s cathedral. I reserved this tour months in advanced and got one of the last slots. Unfortunately, the only thing left was a tour in Italian. But the tour guide was very friendly and did her best to translate for us in english. We still learned a lot and had a great time with other people in the tour group.

We took the Gate of Heaven Tour because the mosaic floors in this cathedral are only unveiled for two months out of the year; September and October. I wanted to do this tour because they take you up in the cathedral to see the floors from up above.

The 56 etched and inlaid marble panels were designed by 40 of leading artists between 1369 and 1547. Completion of the designs took six centuries, the last ones finished in the 1800s.

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The oldest designs are those in the center near the entrance – the Wheel of Fortune and the Sienese Wolf Surrounded by Symbols of Allied Cities, which dates back to 1369, but they have been maintained and redone throughout the centuries when it wasn’t customary to protect them. Some of them have parts that are pretty worn out. Each panel has its own story.

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Beautiful city of Siena.

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I love how the ceilings have stars on them.

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The greatest sculptors of every epoch worked in the Cathedral of Siena: Nicola Pisano executed the Pulpit from 1265 to 1268; his son Giovanni authored the sculptures on the facade; Donatello created the statute of John the Baptist, Michelangelo sculpted Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Saint Pius and Saint Augustine for the Piccolomini altar, and the art of Gian Lorenzo Bernini is represented by the Mary Magdalene and Saint Jerome in the Cappella del Voto.

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The front of the facade contains a stained-glass depiction of the Last Supper, executed in 1549 by Pastorino de’ Pastorini, a student of Guillaume de Marcillat.

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After touring Siena’s cathedral, we had to leave quickly because we needed time to get to our cooking class. I reserved a cooking class through Jul’s Kitchen. I stumbled across her blog about 2 years ago and I have been following her ever since. I told Randy two years ago that if we ever go to Tuscany, I wanted to take her cooking class. Wish granted! 🙂

The cooking class took place in Jul’s house. The same house her grandmother grew up in, her father and now her. She emailed me her address and we mapped it out in mapquest. Directions were easy enough, or so we thought. (This is where a GPS would have come in handy!)

We left 45 minutes early to give us plenty of time to find her. Finding a city in Italy is easy, it is finding a house or building that is difficult. Mostly because once you get into the city, there are no road signs to be found. We spent 1.5 hours trying to find Jul’s house! We stopped 3 times to ask for directions. No one really spoke english so all our directions were in Italian. It wasn’t so bad, you can understand a lot by watching hand gestures. After driving around for 1.5 hours I started to cry. We were 45 minutes late to our cooking class. Finally we drove by a house and I recognized Giulia and her dog walking around outside.

I yelled to Randy stop the car, that is Giulia! I rolled down the window and said, “Giulia?” She smiled and said yes. I can not described how relived I was at that moment. I apologized profusely and explained that we go so lost. I was terrified that we would not be able to do the class because we were so late. But she laughed and said, ” No, no! We will cook fast!”

Giulia lives in the most picturesque house. It is surrounded by rolling hills and cypress trees. This is the view that everyone envisions when they think of Tuscany. Her house was just as perfect as the view. Her kitchen was perfect with a large wooden table in the center to work on, mason jars lined her shelves full of spices and flour and a large window overlooking her garden and the rollings hills. *Sigh*

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We started cooking right away. We put on our Jul’s Kitchen aprons (which is included in your cooking class) and started slicing up apples. We first made our dessert, which was apple cake. Kind of like an apple upside down cake. Then we diced up some root vegetables for roasting, sliced more apples and onions for our meat and then we started making our pasta. We made pici, which is like a thick spaghetti. Very easy to make and taste so good! I don’t think I will ever buy dry pasta again!

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While cooking we talked, laughed and learned about our different cultures. We learned about Tuscan cooking; like, Tuscan cooking is about the quality of food. They use very simple, fresh ingredients that they grow themselves. Also, taking time to cook their food, building up the flavors and enjoying the aromas. No microwave food here!

After cooking, we all sat together at her farm-house wooden table. We ate family style, passing the food around and pouring the local red wine. In her dining room was a bookshelf full of cook books. For the longest time we talked about our favorite cook books, our favorite foods and cities we visited and what foods we ate there. Giulia has an obvious passion for food, as do Randy and I. It was so nice to talk to someone from another country who enjoys and loves food as much as we do. The food was so delicious and Giulia was an absolute delight.

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After stuffing ourselves it was time for our time to end. 🙁 Giulia hugged us both and sent us off with her cook book, filled with her recipes that she has been around all her life. It was so much fun to learn how to cook from a real Tuscan native. But the best part was making a friend while we there. If you ever go to Tuscany and want to take a cooking class, go to Giulia. It will be the highlight of your trip, just like it was for ours!

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