Tuesday, January 31, 2012

healthy stir-fry #2 : {tangy tomato and salmon}

This is by far my favorite stir-fry {and Hubby's.}
I found it a couple years ago on Prevention.com.  It is drool-worthy.  There is no part of this that isn't good.  Plus, it's healthy...which is the best part.  Salmon has Omega-3 fats, which are awesome for your brain.  And let's face it...we could all use a little boost. ;)

You will need:
1 lb fresh skinless salmon - cut into bite-size pieces  {have your meat person cut the skin off...don't try to be a hero.  not worth the effort.}
1 med red onion, thinly sliced
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 cups mung bean sprouts {I just used a whole package, about 8 oz.}
1 Tb fresh chopped ginger {sometimes it gets expensive getting fresh when you could just use dried...but with ginger it is cheap, so don't skimp!  I actually use twice as much ginger in this.  Ginger is my middle name. Not really.}
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 1/2 tsp sesame oil {if you are a stir-fry fanatic this is a staple in your pantry}
3 Tb packed brown sugar
2 Tb soy sauce {I use dark aged Tamari}
2 tsp rice wine vinegar {another stir-fry staple!}

1. Heat your sesame oil in your wok - of course, on high heat for a stir fry.
2. Add onion and stir-fry 2 minutes until your onions are a delicious golden brown.
3. Stir in tomatoes, brown sugar, soy sauce and vinegar, stirring for 3 minutes.
4. Add sprouts, salmon and ginger.  Cook three minutes, stirring often.  Salmon should be slightly pink in the center.  No need to overcook.
5. Serve on a bed of rice and sprinkle with cilantro.

Whoever you are serving this to will want to kiss you...so be careful who it is.

I paired the meal with an amazing shiraz {The Formula, Robert's Shiraz - 2004}

 A fresh herb chopping knife - not sure if that is the technical name - is an awesome gift for the cook in your house. just sayin'. Hubby got me the one above at Sur La Table.
Fresh ingredients make me glow with happiness.  Is that odd?
 if you don't like onions...well, then I don't know if I can help you.  ;)
 The smell in your kitchen at this point should be a.maz.ing.
 Don't omit these bean sprouts.  Please. I beg you. They add a bite/crispness to the texture.
 All of this = good stuff.

Serve and enjoy the "ooooohs" and "mmmmms" from the loves that you serve it to.

#3 is next week.  
Hope you like broccoli!

Friday, January 27, 2012

{to my 16-year-old self}

{post inspired by the book Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old-Self by Joseph Galliano}

dear 16-year-old me,

you are smack in the middle of your high-school-years, and yes, I know, these are not your favorite years.  please try to make the best of it by focusing on school and getting good grades.  believe me, each A will give you a feeling of success and self-worth that you can't get anywhere else.  don't wait until college to find this out.  stick it to mr. o in composition class and turn everything in "on time," so he has no excuse to take your A-quality writing to a C.

go to prom...even if it is with "just a friend." even if it sucks.  at least it will be a story to tell.

try out for every single play.  you love the stage, so just keep doing it.  even if you keep getting cast as forest animals or, in this case, as a dwarf.  someone has to be the goofy dwarf.
 please grow your hair out to it's natural, dark color...brunette looks best on you.  blonde is not your thing.  yikes. {ps: neither is long hair. double yikes.}
{"One of these things is not like the other..."}
I know you love your part time job...but don't work quite so much.  and save all your money...except what you spend on the trip to Europe.  that is worth it.

work on your friendships even more.  your love for solitude is good...but there are such benefits from female friendships.
{I still love these girls}
before choosing a college and major, evaluate what you love.  definitely live in St. Paul, though.  a part of your heart will always be there.

join the soccer team!  and the track team!  you are a strong runner.

speaking of strength...you are a strong woman, both in physical endurance and conviction.  remember it. don't let other females ever cut you down.  they will try your entire life.  maybe they are just mean.  maybe someone else said mean things to them.  maybe because of their own insecurity.  maybe because they may think that one body type is "better" than another.  it doesn't matter.  always stand up for yourself and other women, as you do now.  and keep working out.  you will need those strong arms when you are thirty.

don't cry about that breakup.  really, there is someone much better for you out there.  God is listening to all your prayers.  you will fall in love, and it will be every bit as romantic and beautiful and poetic and you imagine.

oh, and finally: don't waste time stressing about not being able to have babies someday.  you will.  after years of fun and adventures. with the right man.  at the right time.

you...the older and wiser {and less blonde} version

Thursday, January 26, 2012


We have a mouse {mice????!!!!} in our house.

I blame karma.  You may remember my rant about the stray cats that hang out in our neighborhood in this post.  Well, my the evil glares I would shoot them and occasional chasing them out of my flower beds is now, karmically speaking, coming back to me in full force.

A mouse.  Who avoids our traps, who poopies in the most random places, who {even though I was assured by Hubby that mice avoid humans and light areas in general} skampered across my granite counter top this morning.  Eeek!

Believe me, ever since I first saw the mouse {weeks ago!} I have been overly diligent about sweeping the kitchen every day, wiping the countertops, picking up any dropped pieces of dog food that prior-to I would have lazily left and hoped Colbie would snag them quickly.

To no avail.

I'm sure Hubby will soon figure out a way to oust the mouse.

Until then I keep comforting myself by imagining he is my own "Little Chef"....
from my favorite animated film, Ratatouille!  Be sure to pause my music player at the bottom if you want to watch this cute scene:


{lets tumble}

I'm sure you've noticed that I love to blog about my baby.  When you are a new mom your baby pretty much becomes the most dominant interest in your life, so it is pretty easy to gravitate towards only writing about  him or her.  

Of course he is not the only interest in my life.  Even though I agreed  {and adore!} to be a stay-at-home-mom,  I also love to exercise and be fit/healthy.  I love to express myself creatively: cooking, writing, photography, and decorating our home.  I love to travel, wander, and shop.  

So to keep this blog "me" and still satiate my hunger to write about my baby boy, I recently I started a tumblr page completely dedicated to writing letters to Cormac - chronicling his life and giving him advice along the way.

That is not to say I won't still post on this blog about motherhood and Baby Mac...I will!!!...but I really want modern garden to be more of a mix of my interests and thoughts.  So if you want more baby goodness, such as occasional installments of the details of my pregnancy, how I told Hubby I was preggo, and see different pictures than you will see on mg, please check out {dear cormac} by clicking on the photograph below:

  Or if you're not super into the whole "baby" topic...stick around here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

healthy stir-fry #1 : {shrimp, spinach, and mushroom}

I really love stir-frys.  
I get some sort of weird culinary high when using my wok.

Anyway, couple years ago I was on a major stir-fry kick, and I tried a ton of recipes.
Over the next three weeks I will share my 
three favorite healthy stir-frys.
Don't be scared away by the word "healthy." 
They are good.

Healthy Stir-Fry #1: Shrimp, Spinach and Mushroom
You will need:
1 lb of fresh, medium shrimp {deveined and tailless}
10 oz of fresh baby spinach
1 lb of shitake mushroom caps
a good-sized chunk of fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tb soy sauce {low-sodium}
2 Tb sherry or rice wine vinegar
1 tsp packed brown sugar

1. Whisk together soy sauce, sherry and brown sugar in a small bowl.
2. peel and finely chop your ginger
3. Add the sesame oil to your wok - which should be on high heat.
4. When the oil is hot, add your mushroom caps and stir-fry about 2 minutes.
5. Add the shrimp, garlic, ginger and stir-fry one minute.
Take a sip of wine.  That's the stuff.
6. Add the spinach and the soy mixture.  It will seem like a ton of spinach.  That's normal.

7. Stir the spinach into the mixture for a couple minutes, until it is wilted.
Serve with jasmine rice...so delish!  
Garlic and ginger goodness...not to mention super-healthy spinach!
Next week I'll share my absolute favorite healthy stir-fry...tangy salmon and tomato!
You'll faint, it's so good.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

mama confessions: baby names & bath time

I have had my 'girl baby name' picked out since I was eleven.  I was on the floor of my bedroom, during the heat of the summer {we had no AC} flipping through a Seventeen magazine, when I saw it.  It was some girl from Arizona State in a feature on fashion at different universities.  She had the perfect name, and I decided right then and there I would name my daughter that.  

I also have three 'boy names' picked out.  I'm pretty convinced I will have another boy or two, so I must be triply prepared on this one.   And no, I won't post any of my names - I like to surprise {and annoy} people! ;)

Why am I even thinking about this? My sister in law Jen recently announced on her precious blog that she is pregnant!  I love all things baby and pregnancy, so I am super excited for Baby B!  Plus, a whole lot of other bloggers that I adore and follow are also pregnant...and it is interesting to see every woman's different take on her journey towards having a baby {or another baby!}

{Side note: No, I am not pregnant, nor do I plan to be any time soon.  That will happen when my current baby can walk, talk, and feed himself.  I am very confident I can take my birth control correctly until that happens.}

Anyway, here is a list of the baby names most likely to be used in 2012 {at least according to this survey.}  Check it out by clicking HERE.  Any catch your eye?  

None of my names are on this list...which makes me happy.  I really like some of them - Jude, Isla, and Scarlett are my favorites.  But I, like the article's author, feel darn good that none of my names are predicted to be trendy this year.

Heck, let's face it.  My names will never be popular.  I mean, I named my kid Cormac.  Which I still adore, even though no one seems to be able to pronounce it {Carmex?  Cognac?  CorMACK?} and most give me a weird look when I tell them.  Which only makes me like it more.  People did {and sometimes still do} that with my name, too.  I think I've met 3 people named 'Greta' in my life.  I love having a name no one else I know has...and I think he will, too.

On to my confession:  I have yet to take any bathtime pictures of Baby Cormac.  I know, right?  Slacker!  My excuse is that taking photos of my baby while he is in the bathtub seems kind of dangerous, as bathtime is typically during the day when Hubby is at work.  And since I still have to keep him upright in the tub, and quite frankly don't want my camera to fall in the water, we will have to settle for some post-bath pics.  Which are almost as good.  :)

If you haven't noticed, my baby does not smile at cameras.  
He stares in wonder...
or sometimes annoyance.
We'll work on that.

Anyway, did any of the names on 'the list' make it on your list? {if you have one!}
How do you choose your baby names?  A list like this?  Books? A generator/name wizard?
Family names? And do you/will you share the name prior to birth?

I only tell my sister.

Much Friday love to you!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

chicken with goat cheese and basil

I think the best recipes contain all the ingredients in the title.  Take for example, chicken with goat cheese and basil.

You will need:
chicken - 4 boneless breasts with skin on {specifically ask your butcher/meat guy} I used bone-in breasts this time...taste is the same, just more work to cut around the bone.
goat cheese - one 8 oz herbed log
basil - fresh leaves

Okay, you also will want to get out your olive oil, salt and pepper.  But that ain't no thang.

I've made this a few times, having found the recipe in House Beautiful magazine, in a feature with recipes by Ina Garten.  Could anyone have a better name???

Anyway, I was drawn to it due to the goat cheese, naturally.  If you don't know about my obsession with goat cheese, you just don't know me well enough yet. :)
To make:
1. Heat oven to 375.
2. Set the chicken breasts in a casserole dish or on a sheet pan.  Use your finger to separate the skin from the chicken breast in one area{carefully, without creating more than a small opening.}
2. Cut your log of delicious herbed goat cheese into half inch rounds.  Insert no less than 2 of them under the skin of each breast.

3. Insert 1-2 basil leaves under the skin as well.  Pull the skin back over as much of the meat as possible, so the meat stays moist.
4. Baste each breast with olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper.
5. Bake 35-40 minutes until cooked through and golden on top.
Serve on a bed of brown rice, for a healthy dinner!

Monday, January 16, 2012

DIY: {personalized subway sign}

What do you get the guy that has everything?

Okay, Hubby really doesn't have everything...but he usually puts everything he needs on his Christmas list for his parents, and I get stuck with get the honor of trying to think up something creative.  :o)

This past Christmas was no exception.  So I decided to get artsy.  Not really, as I don't have any artistic ability as a painter.  However, using some wood, stencils, and paint I created a low-budget piece that really had some personal meaning to our relationship...

a subway sign -- using streets, or "stops" from our relationship.  Our first date, first apartment, first engagement, second engagement, etc...and then ending with the three streets we have now owned homes on.

I priced having it done professionally, and that would have been several hundred dollars.  I did the project myself for $30 {most expensive part being the stencils, which I can use again for other projects!}

I've always loved these signs that have been all over the place for quite a while.

It seemed like a simple project.  Stencil on the letters and paint them.  I wanted it to be a wood sign that I handpainted.  So I used a 2'x4' piece of birch wood ($8) and painted it black with paint I already had.

Then I placed my letters, which took quite a bit of time.  I had to decide on the order, what size lettering, etc.  Then I had to make them even.  Precision is not my forte, nor is patience.  So this was a daunting task.  Plus, I had to do all of this whenever the baby napped.  Needless to say, not much cleaning got done for about 3 full weeks.  A baby-free person could probably get this done in a weekend.  It needs two coats of white paint.

Here is the sign nearly completed.  See the pile of towels in the background?  Yeah, those probably sat there a while.

And here is the finished sign!  This is not where we're going to put it, as I made it with the thought that we would hang it in our new home, whenever we actually move into it.  That could be a while, as we have to sell our current house first.  But I had to take a picture, right?  

 Can't wait to see where this ends up!

Happy Monday, friends!

Friday, January 13, 2012

six months!

I have a full-fledged BOY on my hands.

Cormac is a punching, kicking, grabbing bundle of boy energy.

Which is why this month's photo session was especially challenging....
and basically ended up as just a cuddle session.  Which I'm okay with.

Here are some outtakes.  

Yes, I was wearing my bathrobe/pajamas. 

not quite able to sit yet...


there's that smile

in mid flip...
and please check out that adorable fat knee!

"just relaxin'...and eatin' my hand..."

my little deer in the headlights...

"I will look anywhere but the camera."

"Just wait 'til I have teeth.  Then try to resist this smile."
He mastered the art of rolling last month, and recently has been making the moves to crawl.  He will actually get up on his haunches in the crawling position and boisterously rock back and forth about ten times until his falls on his face.  Then he does it again.  But no actual forward movement. Yet.

Jumps so vigorously in his exersaucer that sometimes I am afraid to bend down to try to pick him up, for fear he'll jump and knock my teeth out with his big ol' head. He'll try to fake me out:  he'll stop bouncing and smile up at me sweetly.  I approach with caution.   Then as soon as I reach down he starts jumping crazily again!

Sitting, but I still need to be there in case he takes a tumble.

Starting vegetables next week!

Weight: 18 lbs 6 oz {60th percentile}
Height: 26.5 inches {50th percentile}
Head: 18 cm {90th percentile}

* * * * * * * * * 

Happy six months
to my little man!
{hint, hint about his 1st birthday party theme!}