Tuesday, July 30, 2013

first days

I know this is cliche, but it feels like med school flew by! It was a tough road and I'm so proud of Josh's accomplishments. Now he's already finished his first month on intern year! Time to look back on some firsts...

Med School at a glance
            July 26, 2009                            July 12, 2010                 June 20, 2011 (P, 11 weeks)    June 25, 2012 (P, 14 months)

So much has changed over the past 4 years. We went from newlyweds living in a brand new city, to parents that took the plunge to move out of state. The Lord has certainly blessed us, and I'm excited for what He has in store.

Residency Orientation
June 17, 2013
(Peyton, asleep...it was 7 am!)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Menu Monday

If you'd like the recipe, you can click on the title of the dish above the picture. It will link you to where I found it. Before I begin, I need to announce that I will have a new blog name soon. It was brought to my attention that Russell Corner is also the name of an inappropriate book :( {tread lightly if you must see for yourself...gross!} If you have any name ideas please let me know!

Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice

I'm on a quinoa roll lately! Fried rice is a guilty pleasure of mine, so if it can be healthy then sign me up. Very easy to make and I actually cooked the quinoa in my rice cooker. Next time I will double it so we can have more leftovers. I kind of want to get a wok, too.

Apple, Cheddar, Turkey Meatballs

I've been making these since 2009. I've made them in the crockpot and the oven, but I prefer the oven since it's quicker. We tried two new things this time: we browned them in a pan before putting them in the oven and shredded the apple with a cheese grater according to the recipe. (for some reason I would just cube the apple into small pieces..I guess I didn't read the recipe right, oops.) Both of these improved the recipe! I use Craisins as I haven't been able to find unsweetened, dried cranberries. I would double this as well since Peyton likes them.

pesto mozzarella chicken with sweet potatoes {crockpot meal}

This recipe was so easy. Everything (except the salad) gets layered in the crockpot. You can put it on in the morning and forget about it. We used thin chicken breasts, so I'm glad I didn't cook it for the full 7 hours. The original recipe on crockpot365 says you can use chicken thighs. 

sweet chili glazed salmon and crispy gnocchi

These are both repeats from the past month. We seared the salmon in a skillet with olive oil. (we'll try coconut oil next time) Then we put the glaze on top. The gnocchi is so good that Josh requested it again. Yes it was an Asian dish with an Italian side, but we just went with it.

oriental chicken salad

This dish has a funny back story. In med school, we would babysit each others kids to save money and also because we trusted our friends. Before Peyton was born, we watched Lindsay's twins and she made us this salad for dinner. I randomly thought about it recently and sent her a text for the recipe. She had just made it two days before! Great minds think alike :)

Cabbage mix
2 chicken breasts
1 green onion
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 c slivered almonds
1 pack of Ramen noodles, break up noodles - don't cook (I used chicken but want to try oriental or a spicy one)

1/2 c veg oil
3 tbsp vinegar (we used rice wine vinegar...whatever you have on hand)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 seasoning packet from the Ramen noodles

The chicken: I sprayed nonstick cooking spray in the pot and placed the chicken at the bottom. I covered it with water, put a pinch of salt and a few shakes of apple cider vinegar. Once it came to a boil, I turned the heat down to a simmer and covered the pot. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Cut into cubes. This is technically poached chicken and it's super easy. I liked how tender it was.

While the chicken cooks, roast the almonds and sesame seeds in the oven until light brown. Prepare the green onion by slicing it thin. Mix all of the dressing ingredients into a salad dressing shaker.

Build your salad with the cabbage mix, cubed chicken, green onions, broken noodles, almonds and sesame seeds, pour dressing on top and toss. We added a drizzle of Sriracha sauce to ours. YUM! This salad is so easy to make and has lots of flavor. Thanks for sharing, Linz!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

touring the Mayo Clinic

During my Mom's trip here, Josh showed us around his new stomping grounds. It was my first time to explore Mayo, so I was really looking forward to it. I love seeing how passionate he is about this place. He learned the history behind Mayo at orientation and was a great tour guide.

We started out in the Plummer building, which was built in the 1920's. The architecture and design is beautiful. We toured the library and walked through a small museum that is centered around Dr. Mayo's son's office.

From there we went to the Gonda building which, to me, is the "face" of Mayo. They have a beautiful "wave wall" of windows and blown glass chandeliers by a famous artist named Dale Chihuly. Next to the wave wall, there is a piano that anyone is welcome to play. It reminded me of the flag room at Texas A&M. All of Mayo's buildings can be reached by an underground "subway" of tunnels. I guess they are necessary due to the winters here.

Later that week, we brought lunch to Josh at St. Mary's Hospital. It is the oldest of the two hospitals affiliated with Mayo. It was founded in 1889 by the Sisters of St. Francis with the intention that Dr. Mayo and his sons would provide care. Josh said we had to see the chapel there. It is breathtaking. It can seat 400 if that gives you a better perspective. We didn't stay long because Peyton was feeling adventurous.

Peyton kept saying "Hi Dr. Daddy!"

Friday, July 26, 2013

Five on Friday

Linking up with these other ladies to re-cap our week...

ONE Pinterest fail this week. I knew it was bound to happen, I've been on a roll lately! I made the Samoa Brownies on the left below. They were hard as a rock and Josh had to use a make-shift chisel to cut them. They tasted great once you heated them up, but it shouldn't have been that way. What a waste of caramels. I think the recipe on the right will work much better since you use a jar of ice-cream caramel topping instead.

the rock hard brownies (Recipe found here)
Going to try these brownies next time

TWO more nights shifts left for Josh this week! I'm working on my issues with staying home alone at night. Making progress!

THREE little bunnies in our usual firefly spot. Peyton currently loves NickJr's new Peter Rabbit show, so he kept yelling "Hiiii Peter Rabbits!" So cute.

FOUR cards from Mee Mee & Paw Paw! Peyton LOVES getting mail. It makes him feel so special. Look how talented my Mee Mee is!

we had to do a little "surgery" on the red envelope. Sometimes you tear things when you're a toddler.

FIVE more days left in July?!? Crazy. That means we've lived in Minnesota for two months. It's really flown by. Not gonna lie...the weather here has been perfect. We go to the park a few times a week.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Minnesota Children's Museum

Last Wednesday, we decided to bust out of Rochester and take my mom to the Twin Cities. (aka Minneapolis/St. Paul) We agreed on the children's museum and had a great time. On our drive up there, I found a fun burger place in St. Paul for us to try called The Blue Door Pub. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and did not disappoint. We maybe over did it by ordering fried pickles as an appetizer...as well as fries, cajun tots, and fried green beans to go with our burgers. Someone slap our hands!

By the time we got to the museum, it was Peyton's nap time. He recharged quickly once he got inside. It was funny to see him run around like an excited puppy. He was non stop. 

We also got to try out the crane simulator. Peyton and Josh did a good job! I hate that I was so negative on the video. I gotta have faith, a faith, a faith. (love that song!)

***If you're watching my videos on a Mac, click the gear icon and select 720 or 1080 for better quality.

As we were walking out of the mini town, we heard an announcement that there would be a parachute activity on the main floor due to the "intense heat outside." (Really Minnesotans? It was in the 90s.) I definitely wanted Peyton to participate, but with all the big kids there I was a little worried that he would get trampled. I'll let you decide if he had fun or not ;)

Peyton LOVED the Dora & Diego exhibit
The roof was so unique! They had a gazebo with nature themed arts and crafts.

Peyton was nonstop, full of energy until we put him in his carseat. My mom, Josh, and I were the ones in serious need of caffeine. Or as my Dad would say, a "pick me up" :) Overall it was a success!

Monday, July 22, 2013

On the Menu Monday

jalapeno kettle chip crusted chicken 

We love jalapeƱos and chips so this was a no brainer to try. It was moist and had lots of flavor. When making it, the chips didn't want to stick...maybe an egg wash would help. Or be careful not to shake off too much of the buttermilk. The homemade ranch is also really good. We used it as a salad dressing.

We decided to teach Peyton how to husk the corn on our front porch. (PSA: you don't shuck corn, you husk it! You shuck oysters. I've been wrong all this time, y'all!) I think he enjoyed it, just not the strings. It's so cute that he wanted to feed it to the birds.

baked ziti

This is a great recipe for 2 reasons: it's pretty inexpensive and it makes a TON. I followed the recipe's reviews and covered it with foil. Next time I want to try covering it for just half of the baking time so that it wont be as juicy. I also want to experiment with the way I layered it. Some reviewers say to mix a ladle of sauce in the noodles before assembling the dish. Either way, Josh loved it and has brought it for his lunch two days in a row.

We have a pretty old inside joke about baked ziti in the Russell Corner. (Mamaw Carole, I hope you're reading this!) After our honeymoon, Josh had to have a few surgeries to fix his patellar tendon again after getting a staph infection in Jamaica. They were pretty painful and not very fun. Luckily, we were able to go home for a few days before the last one. The first night home, Mamaw offered to bring over hamburgers and her famous chips and salsa. Josh had seen baked ziti on Rachael Ray that morning and said "What if you take the ground beef and make baked zit instead?" Mamaw was a little surprised by this request and said "Umm...okay...I guess I can do that." Josh then says "If I don't get some baked ziti, someone will get hurt." LOL thank you pain meds! Sweet Mamaw came to his rescue and brought some over. I'm in tears from laughing just writing out this story. Love you, hubby!

stuffed tilapia and asparagus

Not a fan of this one. I don't know what went wrong. I used bread crumbs instead of stuffing mix since that's what I had on hand. It just didn't have enough flavor. Since the fish was in the oven, I used the above recipe for the asparagus in the microwave. It turned out great and I'm happy to report that Peyton ate his helping. I loved the lemony flavor. That's the leftover quinoa from a few days ago.

BBQ shrimp minnestrone

You HAVE to make this recipe! The BBQ sauce and chicken broth make an amazing soup base. I also love the roasted corn and had no clue it was so easy to do. I used whole wheat pasta and it did fine. I think next time I will double it to have more leftovers. GREAT FIND!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

swimming lessons

On July 8 we started a Mommy & Me swim class. There were 8 classes and only 2 other toddlers in his class. I wasn't sure what to expect when starting the class, but I'm really glad that we took them. Peyton has truly come a long way. Before, he would cling to Josh or I in the pool. Now he's comfortable with the water and is on his way to becoming a great swimmer. I also feel more comfortable now which is nice. Things we need to work on: wearing the noodle/floatie, getting dunked under water, and keeping his mouth closed when blowing bubbles.

Luckily, Josh got to come to 2 classes and my Mom was able to go to 3 with me. They were able to take pictures and motivate Peyton when he didn't want to participate. Also, it's hard to manage a toddler in the locker room by yourself. But we had to shower since the class was in a salt water pool. Very interesting. The RAC offers classes year-round and I plan to do at least one more session. We should have a dolphin by the time summer hits next year :)

Water "Ring Around the Rosie"

using the noodle 

mommy oops at the end...I was trying to grab the rocket I promised him and the noodle slipped (sorry Pey!)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the case of the missing Aggie ring

Ring day is the most anticipated event for a Texas A&M student. On September 21, 2008, Josh and I  received our rings in the same group. Then there was the task of earning the right to wear it. Fun stuff.

Last month we had a small scare. When Josh went to put on his Aggie ring, he couldn't find it. We were in a hurry to meet some of his new classmates at Thursdays on 1st and 3rd, so we decided to look as soon as we got home. Josh was pretty bummed about it, but didn't want us to be late. 

Once we got back home, we set up the investigation. The most likely suspect was our two year old. We remembered that the previous night, Peyton played on our bed while we put away laundry. He also loves to explore what's on our nightstands. This kid is notorious for taking my eye drops and using my chapstick. (see the video at the end of this post) Also, Josh puts his jewelry on the night stand. 

After tearing apart the upstairs, we decided to ask Peyton. Here's how it went:

Josh: Hey Peyton, where is Daddy's ring?
Peyton: ring all gone, bye bye
Josh: is it with your toys? Where is it?
Peyton: ring, ALL DONE!
Ashley: what color is the ring?
Peyton: yellow (uh oh...toddler speak for gold)

We both had a heart attack. I went and got my Aggie ring and showed it to Peyton.

Peyton: OH, HERE Daddy! Daddy's ring! (double uh oh)

One thing that scared us was that our new place has floor vents that aren't bolted down. Peyton discovered right away that they could be lifted off and has already dropped a basketball key chain into one. We knew that if he had dropped it down one, it wouldn't be easy to get to it.

After we put Peyton in bed, we got back to the search.After knowing Josh for 7 years, I've found what works for us when he loses stuff. I make him back track up to the last time he saw it. I'm sure it gets annoying, especially since he gets in a really bad mood about losing somethings. BUT it works. The night before, he had put it in his pocket while watching a movie downstairs. (we checked the chair he sat in...no dice) After that he took out the trash. (ugh, did he somehow throw it away?) 

At this point we were really stumped and started to feel sick about it. THEN Josh had a light bulb moment. He remembered seeing Peyton play with my jewelry box. We found the ring in the first drawer I opened. YAY!

Peyton is a genius. He played with Daddy's ring, and put it where it belongs...in a jewelry box! That's why he was saying "all done" as he does when he puts his toys away. Ultimately, we learned from this that we need to keep valuable jewelry out of Peyton's reach.

Dear Peyton,

This picture WILL be framed in your dorm one day. Even if for some crazy reason decide not to go to A&M.

proudest member of the Fightin Texas Aggies class of 2033

Monday, July 15, 2013

On the Menu Monday

We didn't cook as much as I would have liked this week. We ate leftovers on Tuesday and ate out for dinner on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday...eek. Not good for the budget or our waistlines, but there's always time to start fresh.

turkey burgers with roasted broccoli and cauliflower

Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 dry ranch packet (we sometimes use Fiesta ranch)
A few splashes of worcestershire
2 cloves garlic

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl, form into patties, and grill as you wish. We cook them in a pan on medium heat.

These are a staple in our house. They are so good that we probably have them at least once a month. The rice looking dish is a box of Near East couscous, an all-time favorite of mine. We love this roasted broccoli recipe, so we decided to try adding cauliflower too. They weren't as crispy but still very good. Peyton even asked for a second helping. This is a big big deal, proof...

Skinny coconut shrimp with skillet potatoes

What a keeper! So delicious and much better for you than the fried version. Luckily, my mom was able to watch Peyton while Josh and I did the breading assembly line. I followed a reviewers advice and baked them on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet. (see below)

They turned out nice and crispy. I recommend rubbing the cooling rack with butter versus cooking spray. We didn't make the sauce because we already had sweet chili sauce in our fridge. You really don't need it. After much coaxing and bribing with applesauce, Peyton finally tried a shrimp and loved it! The potatoes are Josh's creation that he makes every now and then. They're the bomb.

Skillet potatoes

5 slices of bacon
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
a few pinches of italian seasoning
5 new potatoes, cubed

Cut bacon in slices and being cooking in a pot on medium heat. Once browned, add onion and garlic and stir until onions are tender. Stir in the potatoes, italian seasonings, and cover. Remove lid when potatoes are tender (around 8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remain on medium-low heat and let them crisp up a little. Enjoy!

Salmon with sweet chili glaze

This was a stretch for me to get out of my "tilapia zone." I was pleasantly surprised. We will definitely use the glaze again, but will try searing the salmon in a pan. That's how Josh's restaurant made their yummy salmon when he was a waiter during college. We tossed the asparagus in a little olive oil and then broiled it. The quinoa is my mom's specialty. We added some edamame and chicken bouillon while boiling it. It adds a fun taste and P loves it. Plus it's packed with protein.

Let's end on a sweet note...

this boy loves frozen yogurt.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

chasing fireflies

One downside to our new place is that we don't have a fenced in backyard. But our neighborhood does have a lot of green space. There is a soccer field less than 100 yards from our house where you can watch soccer practice. There is also a small forest halfway to the field. A few weeks ago we saw fireflies right in front of it! Peyton is so happy when we take him out there to chase them. On 4th of July we caught a few in a mason jar and let them go after we got to look at them up close. Long (but cute) video below. Favorite part "I kill them mama" (He's referencing the mosquito killing done in our house...I promise he doesn't watch us kill fireflies.)

I think Lulu has enjoyed chasing fireflies with Peyton too! We are very happy that she is in town. (my newly cleaned house and finished laundry agrees! Ha!)


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Montessori Earth School

Earlier this year, I was contacted by my former Principal about a part-time Math Interventionist position. After prayerful consideration with Josh, I decided to accept his offer. It ended up being great for our family. We enrolled Peyton at Montessori Earth School and he loved it. We feel that he learned so much there in just a short amount of time. After 1 week he was putting his toys away where they belonged. They reinforced his letters by teaching him their sounds, they taught shapes and colors, several songs, and even introduced Spanish. I love how each child has their "work" that they get to explore and learn through. (little activities like sorting, painting, making bubbles...) His favorite teacher, Ms. Gloria, said that he was her little shadow and she was so sad that we were moving. We can't say enough about this school. 

first day of school (February 2013)

he dove right in on his first day

Ms. Gloria and Peyton

Last Day at MES (May 2013)
And just for the sake of back-posting (since I neglected my blog for 2 years) here's Peyton with Mirna. She watches 4 kids out of her home, but has it set up as a certified daycare. He went to her from 4 months to 14 months. I heard about her from my Bible study leader and put Peyton on her "list" while I was 7 months pregnant. We really loved her...she was like family.

October 2011
June 2012

Being a working mom and choosing a daycare is not for the faint of heart. I thought of Peyton every single day while at work and missed being with him. I feel blessed that we chose two great places for him to go. We're really looking forward to his new preschool in the fall! He goes twice a week.