Chili and Cornbread Cookoff

I am dreaming of scenes like this photo from my seat in this season-less desert. We’re still in the 90’s lately, can you imagine! But the nights/mornings are cool and we open the windows to get the slightest of fall chill.

Halloween is fast approaching and with that comes the annual church trunk-or-treat, and Chili and Cornbread competition! My dad usually entered the competition with the spiciest chili recipe he could think up—I get my love of spicy foods from him—but this is the first time I’ll be entering on my own.  As for cornbread, well, on the off chance I make any it is from a box and far too crumbly, so this is the perfect chance to find a fabulous recipe.

Here are my top three cornbread recipes to try:

Bacon Cheddar Corn Bread –uses cake flour instead of corn meal, but has whole kernels of corn in it, so technically it’s still cornbread right?

Sweet Cornbread – a classic cornbread recipe, but you whip the egg whites separately, almost creating a meringue, and fold them into the batter last.

Pumpkin Cornbread — I love anything pumpkin related, but does it go as well with chili? It uses cornmeal and creamed corn, so plenty of corn flavor still, but it also uses molasses which I don’t keep on hand, and I kind of hate buying an ingredient for just one recipe.

Navajo Cornbread –Has diced jalapenos, green onions and cheese in it and I love all things spicy and cheesy

And here are my top contestants for chili recipes to try:

Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili – Um, it has jalapenos, bacon, and cream cheese in it–enough said.

Crockpot Chili — It has just about every spice out there in it, plus cocoa powder (apparently it’s the secret for getting a smoky taste?). It also mixes sausage with the ground beef, and says it’s best when cooked for essentially 2 days!

Quinoa Chili – A very different direction, since it’s meatless, and I love meat, but quinoa is a good protein too, so it’d still be hearty. Plus it also has a good list of spices.

 

Odds are, that whichever chili recipe I choose I will up the spice factor. And for cornbread I don’t have any fantasies that I’ll win the contest, but I am excited to simply find something more edible than the box mix.

Which recipes would you choose?

A Phase Broken (I hope).

Sunday, the fifth of October, 2014.

The fateful day when young Wallaby’s most prized possession met its demise.

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The phrase “loved to death” is no exaggeration here. This binky had been used until it split in two. We knew the time was fast approaching when we wanted to do away with the binky anyway, so at the first sign of a crack we started preparing Wallaby with the idea that the “binky fairy” (The Grizzly Kid’s idea) will come once the binky was broken and replace it with a toy and the broken binky will be fixed by the fairy and given to a baby that needed it more and that Wallaby would then be a big boy.

A thorough tale, and it worked, in part. On the day it broke Wallaby got his toys (Lucy and Emmet lego figures–which he LOVES) and he really hasn’t mentioned the binky since, but that didn’t make it any easier to soothe himself to sleep without the object he has had since day one.

The first night was ten minutes of crying before he fell asleep, and subsequent nights have been mostly tear free. Naps, however, have been a different story. Interesting how the lack of naps for almost two week has correlated with the fact that I have accomplished very little, including blog posts. Wallaby used to love naps, he would sign and say, “nap please!” and fall right asleep, but without the binky he would simply cry and we would try to soothe, read, sing, but no nap came, except for a couple short car naps. Until this past Thursday when we put on our firm parent caps and decided that it had become a battle of wills, and we could help learn to sleep if he would only stay in bed to do it! So The Grizzly Kid put Wallaby down for a nap and then sat outside his door and every time he came out he put him back in. After about 15 minutes of playing door guard and another 10 minutes of Wallaby crying in bed he was out and slept for 2 hours! The poor exhausted boy. On Friday it was my turn and he didn’t come out of the door once, but he did cry for 10 minutes before falling asleep.

Now we have a toddler who naps without a binky, and while it is hard to have him cry before naps when he used to fall asleep peacefully, he is so much happier after naps whereas on the no nap days our house was a toddler terror zone by 3pm.

So that’s the tale of the binky’s demise. Hopefully, things keep going well around nap time and I wish all you other parents happy nap times too.

Hello Weekend

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Tonight we’re off to our church trunk or treat and chili and cornbread cook-off–I’ll let you know how my recipes do. The rest of the weekend will be rather relaxed and warm–still in the 90’s!

Here are some links to things I found interesting this week if you have some time to kill. Have a lovely weekend!

 

After reading this list from Time Magazine of the 25 most influential teenagers I feel both inspired and unaccomplished, haha.

“Parent to Parent: When Play Dates Go Wrong” — I was just talking with my mom about this and it goes right along with the discussion of how much to “parent” someone else’s child when they are in your care, which is something I often think about.

I believe in letting babies come when they are ready instead of inducing early (though each case is individual and a private choice) and this study adds one more reason to my list. “Heavier Babies Do Better in School”

Hello Future! Hoverboards are real!

Oscar de la Renta was famous for a lot of things, but designing the Boy Scouts of America uniform? Now that is really cool. It has to be his most prolific work.

 

A Camping First

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I grew up camping. After all, who puts 10 kids in a hotel when they can let them run around the woods, my parents were smart, so, for the most part, when we traveled we camped. For the most part I loved camping, even the few times we got flooded out it made for good stories later. Then for two summers during college I worked at Philmont Scout Ranch where I literally lived in a tent the entire summer and those are some of my fondest memories.

Wallaby on the other hand was almost 2 and had never been camping! An overnight camp out with the grandparents and a couple of cousins was just what he needed, the perfect trial run. Not that I worried about him enjoying himself—he prefers being outside to anything else. Sadly, The Grizzly Kid had to work, but that meant that Wallaby and I could travel light and bunk together in my 2 man tent.

Friday we headed for the pine trees of Arizona (they do exist) and ended up camping right here around 7,ooo feet in elevation, so the temperature was gorgeously cool—something I had been desperately missing here in the valley. Wallaby was in heaven the second we got out of the car.

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While the rest of us got the tents set up and gear unpacked, the boys got right to exploring the woods and getting dirty.  Exhibit A: A boy and his pile of dirt, happy as can be.

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My oldest nephew even brought a hammock to set up. Which was thoroughly enjoyed by all, don’t let that stoic face fool you, Wallaby was in love and wanted to do nothing but climb in and out and swing in it—maybe we need one for the backyard.

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Look at this dirty face, and I mean that literally since he face planted in the dirt. A couple of times. Also note the pink mark on his forehead where he hit a dirt clod.

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It took him a while to get used to the rougher terrain, but he didn’t fall at all on day two. For dinner we used a tiny camp stove for a single pot of chili to pour on fritos, which is probably my favorite camp meal. I know that tin foil dinners are more traditional, but too much work and they always end up taking longer than expected—I’d rather spend my time exploring.

We ended the day with the classic campfire and s’mores. Worn out, Wallaby and I fell asleep shortly after dark—who wears a watch in the woods?—cuddled up in flannel pajamas and sleeping bags. I awoke a while later to the sound of heavy rain splattering the tent and wind pulling leaves from the tree branches, slid Walt back onto his pillow, felt around for leaks or puddles, and fell back asleep. And repeated that every time the rain started up again. I did wake once to elk calling nearby—our only encounter with any wildlife.  Otherwise an uneventful night. We woke in the morning to deep gray clouds and more rain, but with a couple of cars and some snacks we made a morning of it in the tent in a perfect pile of blankets and pillows.

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Thankfully the rain ended and we ventured out for the best childhood breakfast, personal sized cereal boxes, donuts, and hot chocolate.

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It was a chilly morning, but little Arizona man is not used to wearing layers and kept tugging at his long selves, and did  not want to wear a coat. To get him to put the hat on took bribery, flattery and then immediate distraction in the form of sugary cereal. In fact the hat stayed on his head for about as long as it took him to finish off that box. I did manage to snap about a hundred photos of him in it during that time. This one being my favorite.

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We played for a couple of hours and wanted to stay longer but the clouds looked threatening, so we packed up and headed out to have a picnic at Montezuma’s Castle which was only about 30 minutes from our campsite. The drive down from the mountains was beautiful and the giant groups of yellow wildflowers were surreal.

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After a lunch with begging squirrel we took the short walk around the remains of the Sinagua  peoples’ hard work.

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I even managed to not only get in a photo with Walt, but he even smiled for the camera!

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After the short tour we headed home, but the rain clouds caught up to us, making 2pm look like sunset, and the rain was so heavy in parts that cars were pulling off the freeway waiting for it to clear.

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It still blows me away, even with all the rain we have been having, that Arizona can be this green with a vegetation made up of sage and saguaro cacti.

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It was a lovely short trip. I enjoyed exploring a new area and seeing Walt enjoy camping so much. Hopefully the next camping trip will be soon!

Packing List

Last week was lovely. The Grizzly Kid turned 27, and boy was he surprised when his sister and sister-in-law  just walked in the front door around dinner time, having driven all day to be there! And boy was I relieved because keeping such a big secret from him for 2 months of planning was crazy stressful! So many times I turned to him to say, “What should we do when Lindsay and Starling get here?” only to bite my tongue. Plus you should have seen me the morning of his birthday running around washing sheets, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and excusing my behavior by saying the cleaning bug hit me, or I’m washing the sheets on the guest bed for my sister to come next week (true story) so I may as well wash my parent’s and the bed in Walt’s room too (yeah, I’m not usually that nice, but I needed more beds ready!) The Grizzly Kid spent the next couple days occasionally saying things like, this is why you bought more groceries than normal! and I don’t know what was more surprising—my ability to be sneaky, or his inability to be suspicious of my actions.

So last week we played! We went to the Phoenix Art Museum, which has a surprising collection, including a Monet, a couple pieces from Picaso, and Georgia O’Keeffe, plus this awesome dinosaur. Wallaby was scared to go near it on our way into the museum but on our way out he walked right up, touched it, and then walked off with a look of satisfaction on his face.

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We were also sure to take our esteemed guests to Wallaby and The Grizzly Kid’s favorite place in the valley, the McCormick-Stillman Train Park. Batman cleaned up the wild west.

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And we rode the train, of course.

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Then there was a picnic for Batman who was enthralled at the super hero birthday party going on next with all those kids in costume too .

IMG_8652We cooled off in the model train building, and then these two had to ride the train again. True excitement on the face of one and pure concentration on the face of the other. You’d think based on this photo that Wallaby didn’t enjoy the ride, but the second it ended he would start saying, “again, again.”

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And while the train park was the highlight of the week for the boys, I loved the night I got away with my favorite sister-in-laws for a Ballet Under the Stars program put on by the community that was truly incredible, such talent!

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It was sad to say good-bye to them, and we are ever so grateful for their effort to come visit!

As for this week, it has been busy, but not overwhelming, which is my favorite kind of time passing—I accomplish far more when I know my time is restricted. Plus my sister Kelly had a break from school and came to visit (thanks for sparing her Josh! I don’t think The Grizzly Kid and I spent even a night apart in the first 2 years of our marriage, but that’s because we are home bodies.)

Today we watched my brother’s 4 older kids while the new baby arrived at the hospital! Mom and baby boy to be named did great and labor went quickly, but the best was showing the photo to the kids at home and their responses. The oldest boy was simply dying to have the baby named already. The youngest (almost two, and just 4 days older than Wallaby) saw the photo and said “awwww!”, I told her that this was her baby and he was going to go home with them, and she said “I want him home” and both Wallaby and E asked to hold the baby and then were just looking at the photo and giggling. I asked the 3 year old what he thought of his new baby brother and he said nothing so I pressed, “Isn’t he cute?” and he responded, “Yes, but he is going to cry a lot.” Haha, probably so, but he really is darling! so pink and healthy.

To continue the week of fun we are going on an overnight camp out with my parents, Wallaby’s first! all while The Grizzly Kid has to work, so I’ll be sure to take loads of pictures. Really I am just falling to pieces thinking about the fact that I will get to wear jeans and a sweater! if only for a day before returning back to the heat of the valley.

Then there is the little gathering the ladies of our family will be doing Saturday evening to enjoy this uplifting conference.  I am hoping to have returned from camping in time to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls, we shall see…

What does your weekend look like?

Flood Day

It’s officially a magical day. At least, for our family it is, because we are stuck at home safe and dry together despite the massive flooding that happened all over Arizona last night.  “The National Weather Service recorded 2.99 inches of rain by about 7 a.m., breaking the old record of 2.91 inches set in 1933.”(abc news) The freeways are closed, as are most of our local roads, so The Grizzly Kid called in to work and we get to play today instead.

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This is what most of the roads around us looked like this morning, and here is the view down the other side of the road, a ditch that is usually nothing but dust.

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The best though, was waking up this morning and looking out the window to the park across the street. The park usually looks like this, where we had our Easter egg hunt, and note the slope behind Wallaby.

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But the park instead looks like this with at least 4 feet of water covering the basin.

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The entire school district closed for flooding so we saw kids out in droves today playing in every new pond around the neighborhood.

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My favorite though, was this guy, he made me wish I had a little boat too.

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I love a day where something extraordinary happens and the whole world stops.

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I love the 74 degree weather this storm brought, because we won’t see temperatures like that for another month. Wallaby loved getting to go to the playground during the middle of the day *gasp!*

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Wallaby has even started pulling his superhero figures back into their toy house because it is too “hawt” outside. Apparently that’s something he has heard a lot this summer. But today is different.

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So we play and we puddle jump

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and we hope for another amazing, world stopping day real soon.

 

Music for a Holiday

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According to Facebook, everyone and their dogs, and tiny babies, all went hiking for Labor Day. Apparently everyone was reveling in the cooler weather that September brings … for them. With high of 105 today, we are still in full summer hibernation mode. We did make it out to a 5k this morning, in which we partook of the pancake breakfast, but not the running, and there was some wandering of the mall—main attractions being the Lego store and the Disney store, because The Grizzly Kid is 7 at heart. Plus we made a post sun down run to the store for just about every flavor of Blue Bell ice cream that exists. Oh, and Wallaby made a balloon friend, so overall a great day!

With all the time we spend inside in this heat, we try our hardest to limit little Wallaby’s screen time, so we play a lot, and while we play we pretty much always have music on in the background. Here is what has been on repeat in our house. (These are mostly my choices, besides Girls Chase Boys, which is The Grizzly Kid’s … honest.)

And then there is The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack whick is so very good—the movie was great, in large part because of the music.

 

What are you listening too lately? Perhaps I’ll get The Grizzly Kid to guest post his top music picks.