Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter Walking

Yesterday's snow adventure was just a simple walk along the Hudson River. We decided to check out Schodack Island State Park, which is about 15 miles from Albany. It was not the most exciting park for hiking, although it'd be a great place to cross country ski. Still, it was nice to get outside and stretch our legs. The trail was very flat and the scenery was pretty. Winter walking is so peaceful- very quiet, not at all crowded, and the very best way to clear your mind. I love seeing how the landscape changes. In the dead of winter, the trees are bare and the river is partly frozen. While on these walks, it almost feels like we're living in a different time. It's just simple beauty.

On our way to the park, we saw this icebreaker on the Hudson... had a cool video to show  but had trouble uploading it. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chilly Chili

We are now over a month into winter and it is definitely cold here. Sunday night, the temperature was 19 degrees below zero! I'm not a big fan of that kind of cold. We have warmed up to the high 20s finally, which feels almost balmy. Because I love comfort food, this is my favorite season to cook. It's cozy and inviting. There are days when I never leave my house, except to maybe play with the kids outside. Instead, I like to curl up on my couch and go through cookbooks. My most recent purchase was the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook . This restaurant is located in the lower east side neighborhood of Manhattan. When my mom, Sarah, and Julie visited a while back, we walked quite a distance to get to this place and it was definitely worthwhile. Nearly two years later, I can remember what everyone ordered. My favorite was their award winning pancakes with maple butter, which Julie ordered. The restaurant has been featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and luckily for all of us, they just released their cookbook. I purchased it for my mom for Christmas and then decided I needed a copy as well. I recently made an adaptation of their chili recipe. I only adapted it because I had already bought ingredients that didn't match up with the recipe exactly. The Clinton St recipe calls for ground turkey, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, red bell pepper, and chipotle. Instead, I used ground beef, beef stock, whole tomatoes, and added chili beans in addition to the kidney beans. The recipe could easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock, more tomatoes, corn, and more bean variety, such as black beans. It's pretty spicy and warmed us all up after an afternoon of sledding. Enjoy!

Chilly Chili, adapted from Clinton St. Baking Co.

Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1lb ground beef
2 cups beef stock
1 28oz can whole plum tomatoes
2 cans chili beans, with ranchero sauce
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 T chili powder
1/2 T garlic powder
1/2 T dried oregano
1/2 T cumin
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2 shakes tabasco
1/2 T kosher salt
1/4 T black pepper

Method: Brown meat, until nearly cooked through, drain the fat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the vegetables and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add spices, stock, tomatoes (which I crush a little by hand), and beans. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on medium low for an hour.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nor'easter Fun

The east coast has been getting hammered with storms this month. We have had nearly 2 feet of snow, maybe more. I'm not a very good judge of snow measurement. Anyhow, we have a lot! It has required a lot of shoveling and a lot of ice melt. But, for the most part, we are really enjoying ourselves. I put together a little video that captures all that we've been up to. It was interesting making this little movie because I spent quite some time looking for a song that conveyed the spirit of winter. Well, aside from holiday carols, most winter songs are extremely depressing. I finally found one that seemed fitting...

Warning: video might convince you to visit Albany in the winter.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Life with Olivia at 6 months

Olivia is now six months old and an absolute joy. She is one happy girl, always smiling! She still wants to be held or interacted with most times, but she is enjoying her jumperoo and other toys. I had forgotten how fun this age is- personality is in full effect. We are all enjoying getting to know her and figuring out what makes her laugh or smile.

She has been a mama's girl from day 1, but has really taken to Adam over the last month. She gets so excited when he gets home from work and if he doesn't come say hello immediately, she gets mad! It's very cute. Olivia is fascinated by Gavin and also her beagles. It's so fun to watch her take everything in. We just love our little gal!

Here are her 6 month stats and a few of my favorite pictures from the last month:
Weight: 17 lbs, 12 oz (75th percentile)
Height: 26.8 inches (76th percentile)
Sleeping Habits: Still up twice at night, but getting better.
Developmental skills: Sitting up supported and for short amounts of time without support. Rolling. Eating bananas and squash. Yum!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter in Albany

After traveling to the Pacific Northwest for the holidays, we are now settled back in Albany. Adam is back at work and the kids and I are getting back into our routine. January has welcomed us with six inches of snow. I absolutely love it. It is beautiful! Once the trees lose their leaves, our landscape turns drab. The snow just brightens it up. If it's going to be cold, we might as well have snow. Adam does not agree, as he hates shoveling. It's supposed to stay cold here, and another storm is heading our way on Wednesday. The only challenge is that because the temperature stays below freezing, the snow never melts. If we get too many storms, it becomes difficult to figure out where to put the snow from our driveway. In related news, Gavin was tossing Buzz Lightyear around in the snow and Buzz lost his hand. His hand is now buried somewhere in the backyard and could easily remain there until late March.

Adam is on a 24hr shift today. I just put the kids to bed after a fairly relaxing day. We played in the snow for a while and sat out on the porch. Every now and then, I start to freak out that they are growing too quickly. Gavin is so needy right now and even says, "Mommy, I need you, a lot." He puts up such a fight about bedtime and begs me not to leave his room. I have to remind myself that he will not always feel this way. Before I know it, he'll be kicking me out of his room, or pinning up a sign that says, "Keep out!" So, when he asks me to sing one more song or tell him one more story, I do it. He is manipulating me, but that's ok. At least he's not trying to borrow my car yet!

Well, that is about all that is going on. I sometimes struggle with what to write on here. But, I always come back to this blog's original purpose- to stay in touch and post consistently. So there you have it. I understand that the west coast is supposed to get some snow as well... enjoy it. Happy winter!