Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole

My doctor has me on a detox diet right now. I can only have vegetables, berries, grapefruit, Granny Smith apples, quinoa, spices, olive oil & coconut oil. I've been cooking up a storm and I came up with a good recipe you could use as a main dish or side dish. 

The sweet potatoes, black beans, and avocado make it rather filling. You can play around with spices to tailor it to your family's taste. 

Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole 
4 medium sweet potatoes 
1 can black beans, rinsed 
1/4 cup fresh basil 
1/4 cup fresh cilantro 
1/4 cup diced onion
2T diced green onions 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
~1/4 cup olive oil 
1/2 avocado 
Salt, pepper, other spices 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash your sweet potatoes, cut a slit in them and place in a baking pan. Add ~1/2 cup of water, or enough so it fills the pan with 1/4 inch water. Cover with foil, and place in oven for 60 minutes. 

(I planned on putting tomatoes in the casserole, but in the end decided to make a quick salad for on the side.) 

Meanwhile, slice the onion and green onion. Chop the cilantro and basil. Put the onion, green onion, cilantro, basil, garlic, and beans into a bowl and stir. 

When the sweet potatoes come out of the oven, take them out of the pan and let them sit on your cutting board for ten minutes or so. When you can handle them without burning your fingers, peel the sweet potatoes. 

Put them in a bowl, mash them up, and add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add more spices like red pepper flakes and parsley if you'd like. 

Mix your other bowl of ingredients into the mashed sweet potatoes, garnish with some more cilantro, green onion, and avocado and serve. 
*Before serving you may want to put it back in the oven for ten minutes to warm it up a bit. 

This was my meal that night and it was so filling. Packed with veggies and delicious! 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekend Recap:: Detroit

Dave had the weekend off, so we headed north and had a fun weekend in the Detroit area. We spent Friday night at Joanne and Gary's. Aiden was looking forward to "playing toys at Auntie Joanne's." He said that many times on our way to their house. :) 

The boys were pumped to push strollers around... and around and around. 

On Saturday, Kathleen took Aiden and Anders for the night (!!!) so Dave and I could have a night away. We went to the Tigers game first. 

It's been three years since we went to Comerica Park. It was great being back! We didn't have tickets and found a good deal from resellers. $40 for seats in the third row between home & the dugout! Unreal seats! Here's a picture of Justin Upton batting while Miggy is on deck. No zoom on my camera for this picture! 

Us two with Miggy! 

It was such a beautiful day for a baseball game. It said only 52 degrees, but we were sheltered from any wind and had the sun shining on us the whole time. I got a little burnt. 

Joanne & Gary joined us for the game. Afterward, we walked a few blocks to Angela's Italian Bistro. Delicious! 

We went to our hotel after that. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront, and our room was on the 24th floor. Such awesome views up there! 

After that quick stop in our hotel we headed out to walk along the riverfront and check out Detroit. 

The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario was to our south. 

We walked north toward the Renaissance Center. We found many statues, fountains, and parks. It was clean and so much more than we ever expected to find in Detroit. Detroit gets such a bad rap, but from our experience it is a great city! 

The Shell Eco-Marathon was going on all around our hotel while we were there. Different schools built these prototype vehicles and they raced and measured gas consumption. The winner of the weekend competition gets to go to London to compete in a bigger competition. It was fun to see so many kids excited about science and engineering. 

A great sunset from the 24th floor. 

We were hungry so we went for a late walk and found some food. Such an indulgence! 
I was excited to see the Spirit of Detroit statue. I've seen it in photos a lot, so it was fun to see it in person. 

Night time in the city. :) 

On Sunday we did some more walking around the city. It's spring time in Detroit. 

The Musical Swings are in Detroit for about a month. It's a traveling display and so cool! Each swing makes the sound of one of four instruments when you swing. Of course we tried it out! 

Detroit really is a fun city to walk around and explore! 

We left the city around noon, found a delicious lunch (at The Big Salad) in Novi, then met Kathleen and Tyler to pick up the boys. Then it was time to head south. 
We had such a great weekend so it was hard to leave. Until next time! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Aiden is 3 and a half!

Today is all about Aiden, the little guy who made Dave and me parents. He made our dreams come true and changed our lives so much! It's hard to believe he's three and a half. It seems like he should be about seven (because it's hard to remember a time we didn't have him), but I'm glad he's not seven. 

He has the best smiles! 

Aiden has a few favorites these days, mostly Legos, planes, and space ships. He'll play Legos all day long. He makes "Dustys" (planes) and "astronauts" (spaceships). Then he flies them around all day. 

He has a great smile for Momma! 

(Pardon the mess.) I got Aiden and Anders matching church jackets and one morning before church, he had to see how he was looking. So serious. Looking good, Aiden! 

He is getting better sleeping at night and he usually still takes a nap during the day. If we are busy all day, he'll skip his nap. That only happens once in a blue moon. 

In this picture he's excited about all the fish in the water. He loves seeing fish and birds. He's been learning about all kinds of different birds lately. He can spot robins ("with a big orange belly"), geese, and ducks on our walk. In his bird book in addition to those three, he knows Eagles, cardinals, great blue herons, hummingbirds, an indigo bunting and owls ("Mr. Owl goes hoot hoot!"). That book is his favorite!   

He had the best time in Florida! He is a little hesitant about the water and would rather play toys in the sand. He went into the water a couple times and I think by the end of the summer he'll be pretty confident in the lake. 

Here's another one of his Dustys. It is spring loaded and goes nice and far. 

It was a major score at Target. Three bucks for endless hours of entertainment! 

This was the day after his new hair cut and he looked so big. Doesn't he look much older than three? That haircut made him look so old for a couple days. 

He likes to wear a hat, so it comes with us where ever we go. All the older guys and ladies at the park and in the stores tell us they like the hats. 

For a couple days recently, Aiden was all into bubbles. He fell asleep talking about bubbles. The first thing he said when he woke up was "I want to blow bubbles." Nonstop bubbles. 
And those shades! :) 

Anytime we leave the house, he needs to have his sunglasses with him. We were outside the other day and it was bright and sunny. He had to go back inside and find his sunglasses. "Way too bright, Mommy!" Here's my super cool dude at a baseball game on Saturdag. 

Yep, he loves the hats and sunglasses! 

If he's not wearing them, he knows just where to stow them for a minute or two. 

Last but not least for our big boy, his new bike! Dave found this on Craigslist a few weeks ago and Aiden has seriously jumped into bike riding. He calls it his fire bike. I'm not sure where that name came from. The first couple days, he had to figure out the pedals. He has come a long way because the last two days, he's done almost three miles! We go for a walk every evening and he has been getting bored in the stroller. On Sunday, Dave let him ride his bike instead of going in the stroller and he did it! He made it the whole 2.8 miles both on Sunday and Monday. Today he's been saying "let's go another three miles tonight." 

A few other random things he has been learning lately: he can sing the whole abc song ("I sing it by myself!"), count to fourteen or fifteen, and he knows his left and right. Aiden is growing up too fast for this Momma, that's for sure. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Favorites:: NYC Top 3!

Today I'm linking up with Andrea at and Erika at for Friday Favorites! (My links keep quitting. I'm not sure what's going on.)

We travel around a lot, moving to various places and vacationing in our favorite spots whenever we get the chance. During our travels, we've come up with some definite favorites in different areas, so I'm going to start highlighting our Top 3 favorite things to do in different places.

Today is all about New York City, the place I've traveled to more than any other place. My first trip there was in 2000, so I have some pictures of the Twin Towers. I'll have to dig those up and share them when I have a chance. Next up I was there in 2003 with some of my family. In 2006 I moved to Connecticut and being only 42 minutes from Grand Central, we went into the city almost weekly for that year. Since 2007, I've traveled there a lot with with family, friends, and Dave. 

My absolute favorite thing in New York City is the Brooklyn Bridge. I love the story of the bridge and I love that it was built for horses and pedestrians and today hundreds of thousands of cars cross it. 

They don't make bridges like this anymore! 

It was finished in 1883, after more than ten years of construction. The bridge has two levels. The top level is in the middle and is for pedestrians and bikes. The lower level is for traffic and is on the outside. 

One time when I was there, the NYPD was doing a drill. Imagine climbing up to the top. Eeek! 

If you go to the outside deck of the Southstreet Seaport Mall, you'll have fantastic views of the bridge. In 2009 I was in New York with Julie and some friends. I love this picture of Julie! 

In October 2009, Dave and I went for a day date to New York City. When we first started dating I might've mentioned that'd be my "dream date." Lucky me, Dave was all-in for something fun like that! We flew in at 9am and flew out at 7pm. When we landed, we got a taxi and asked to be dropped off at the Brooklyn Bridge. This was the first picture we took that day. 

A year later we were back in New York City on our honeymoon. This is at a park in Brooklyn and I loved the views of the bridge! 

Again in 2010 on our honeymoon. The Brooklyn Bridge was needed in the middle/late 1800s because there was basically no more room in Manhattan. The only way to get to Brooklyn and back was on a ferry, so in 1870 they started the bridge to solve these problems. It was a monumental under haul. 

In 2011 we returned to NYC for our first anniversary and of course we walked across the bridge! We found an artist who made these shirts and I had to have one. :) 

I love how it was built to solve specific problems in the 1800s, and it is still so completely functional today. The automobile didn't even exist when it was built and today it is so busy with vehicle traffic. When it was finished in 1883, it was the tallest structure in all of the Western Hemisphere! 

Last fall Dave and I returned to New York for the first time in a few years. The Brooklyn Bridge was number one on my list. I just can't get enough of it!  

The views up there are great! 

Lower Manhattan from 1/3 of the way across the Brooklyn Bridge. 

I love the food. We have had some excellent food in New York City. I love that you can find whatever kind of food you're looking for, and there's a good chance it's going to be very good. 

My friends and I discovered Little Thai Kitchen when I was living in CT and going to the city pretty often. They have some of the best Chicken Pad Thai I've ever had. Little Thai Kitchen is on the Upper East Side and so small, it's easy to miss. 

We stumbled upon the Pad Thai Noodle Lounge in Chelsea last fall and it was a great find. More excellent Chicken Pad Thai! Can you spot us in the mirror? 

I highly recommend Junior's in Times Square. The food is really good and the cheesecake is even better. Sometimes we will eat there and get cheesecake to go to eat at a table in Times Square or Bryant Park or late at night back at the hotel. Or sometimes we'll eat somewhere else and go to the takeout line in the alley to get cheesecake. The raspberry swirl is my go-to. Yum!!! 

Last fall we stayed on Central Park South and right next door was Sarabeth's. We tried it for breakfast and it was excellent.

I love eating outside in New York City so even though it was a little chilly, we ate outside. Eat a good meal and watch the city walk by. Perfect! 

One of the best meals I've ever had in New York City was at this tiny joint in Soho. Taquitoria serves Taquitos many different ways and they have drinks. Those are your options. :) Lucky for them, their Taquitos are outstanding! Another mirror selfie, haha. 

For me the absolute best day in New York City is one where we just walk around and take in the city. I don't need a specific itinerary or special places to go. There are so many different cool neighborhoods, parks, sights, museums, street fairs, and shops to check out. 

Here's a shot from my favorite place to sit and watch the city go by. Stop at a coffee shop and get your favorite drink, then find a place on the sidewalk (or a bench - if you can find one!) and watch NYC. 

On your walk you'll find cool little fountains, 

Outdoor markets,

Indoor markets (Chelsea Market),

And parks like Rockefeller Center, 

Columbus Circle, 

Bryant Park 

(Bryant Park at Christmastime!) 

and a park right at the World Trade Center. 

You can find famous, well-known places like the steps of the NY Public Library, 

and the Financial District, including 

Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. 

Finally, you could spend all day walking around Central Park. There's this huge field with a nice view of the midtown skyline. 

The Mall in Central Park is a cool place to walk or sit and people-watch. 

There are rocks to climb all over Central Park. 

The park has lots of pretty bridges to photograph. 
This was in 2009 on that day date. Young and falling in love! 

Same people and same spot, six years later. 

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! That was a lot of pictures! I have hundreds more I didn't share, and there are so many more cool sights around New York City that I didn't mention. If you get a chance to go, I really encourage you to spend some time walking and looking around you with no real itinerary in mind. As long as you find some good food and see the Brooklyn Bridge, it'll be a fantastic trip!