Kids Books of Late #1

I have shared what I'm reading before but I thought it would be fun to share what I'm reading to The Munchkin too.  Following is a list of some of our favorites......

Trash Trucks by Daniel Kirk - This is most definitely a favorite of ours.  Daniel Kirk is an amazing illustrator and the rhyming and diction of the words in this book makes it fun to read.  Also, I would like to personally thank Mr. Kirk for making it easy for me to teach The Munchkin who Mona Lisa is.  Another great Daniel Kirk book is Moondogs.
Looking for more books by Daniel Kirk, we came across The Diggers by Margaret Wise Brown (the book is illustrated by Daniel Kirk).  Margaret Wise Brown is probably most famous for Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, but let me just say, this lady has an amazing collection of books!  They are all very different and The Munchkin becomes enraptured by all of them.  There is something about her prose that is settling and comfortable.  Here are some of our other favorite Margaret Wise Brown books....
Bunny's Noisy Book

Margaret Wise Brown has a TON of books and they are probably all worth reading.  If you find one, grab it!

A Lot of Otters by Barbara Berger - We found this book by accident just before a trip to Monterey, which was perfect because we actually saw some Otters.  This story is really sweet and calming.

Night Pirates by Peter Harris - This is a really fun book with a creatively designed layout.  The story is fun and interesting and I especially like that the pirate ship is run by a group of girls.

So, these are a few of our favorite bedtime stories!  Do you have any favorites at your house?  If so, please share!

♥TCW & The Munchkin

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Exciting News!

Let's just clear this up first:  No.  I am not pregnant.

OK moving on!

I am very excited to share with you that my article I'm a Step-Mom, But am I a "Real" Mom? Is being featured on The Roundup over at Circle of Mom's.  I hope you pop on over there and check it out!

In addition to that, I am also being featured as a contributor at California Farm to Table along with my Philly Cream Tart recipe!  So, I hope you pop on over there and check our their amazing site too.

I am extremely excited to be featured on both sites.  I write this blog because I am passionate about it so being recognized for your passion really feels amazing.  I am grateful for the features on both sites and grateful to all of you for reading and continuing to read and comment here.

Thank you very much, everyone!


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Neat-O Things from Around the Web

Howdy there, how is everyone's day going today?
Good?  Good!
I've collected for you a few nifty things from around the web, I hope you enjoy.....

Let's start with flowers...

I'm hungry now.  Let's eat.

Heather Christo Cooks - Olive & Goat Cheese Ravioli - There are things that make me smile about this recipe, like olives, goat cheese and brown butter.  And also that she has wonton wrappers and olive tapenade as pantry staples.  I will have to eat this when The Cyclist isn't home.  He hates olives.

Want to see something else that's pretty cool?

The Invisible Bicycle Helmet | Fredrik Gertten from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Or what about this brilliant idea?

Freeze fresh herbs in olive oil.  Duh, I wish I had thought of this.

By the way, I'm totally submitting my pink bathroom to this website.

Guess what?  I'm still hungry.

Lentil's & Spicy Sausage from PBS Food - I'm making this for dinner soon.

The End.

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Kayak Fishing.....and in other news....

Remember my Summer Bucket List?  Well I kicked a bunch of items off of it this summer, but I still haven't shared all of them with you yet.  And, since it's still 90 degrees here in Northern California, I think I have time to kick off the remaining items....even though it is technically now fall.  However, I feel I get a pass until the weather actually turns fall.

But let's talk about another Bucket List item check!  

Go Fishing in the Kayak

Check.  So let's start by talking about the current.  My eyes were having trouble adjusting or something.  As I was being swept downstream by the current, all while yelling at The Cyclist to "waaatch ouuuttt!!  You're going to run into my boat!!!", not realizing that he was anchored and not actually moving....well I felt dizzy.  It just really seemed like I was the one who wasn't moving.  It still makes me dizzy to think about it.  Darn current.

Once we got settled fishing did happen.  I didn't fish because I don't have a license, I brought a book's probably a good thing I did.

I think the other fisherman were probably getting annoyed with my picture taking and screaming about being crashed into.  So after this nerdy shot of me, I stuck my nose in my book and stayed quiet.

I think maybe it's against protocol to allow wives fishing....

Thanks for taking me Cyclist!  At least I got another check on my bucket list!!

We didn't catch anything that day, but in the last two weeks this has happened:

So needless to say, we've been eating lots of good salmon!!  Yipee!!

I will be sharing a delicious salmon cake recipe shortly!  

In the meantime, we ate grilled salmon last night using this delicious recipe.  You can find cedar planks here.

And in other is my 35th birthday.  I'm not too sure how I feel about this other than old.  But I don't really feel old.  The number 35 just seems old.  I'm told that now whenever I get around to getting pregnant, my pregnancy will be deemed "geriatric", which sounds bad enough until my OB friend told me last night it will actually be called "elderly".  Additionally, another friend reminded me it was 20 years ago that we all used to go to soccer practice together.

So, cheers to being assigned an old number but feeling young, 35 being elderly in certain arenas and being able to say you did something 20 years ago.

Have a delightful day!


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It's OK Thursday....

It's OK that I made these cookies on Sunday and attempted to eat them for dinner...
It's OK that The Cyclist still wanted to eat dinner, so after eating three cookies I ate dinner too
It's OK that I made this and it was just OK
It's OK to say when something isn't OK with you
It's OK to wear your red cowboy boots just because
It's OK to dream

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White Bean, Basil & Lemon Hummus

The Cyclist loves his hummus, so I tried to re-create a white bean basil hummus that is sold at Trader Joe's; this was my second attempt.  And again, mine took a different flavor direction than the TJ's brand.....

....and then I went into TJ's the other day and realized that although they do make a White Bean and Basil Hummus, the one The Cyclist loves is actually Tuscan White Bean.  So I've been trying to match the wrong flavors all along.

This hummus turned out tasty just the same, so get out your white beans, basil & lemon and let's go!

I really do believe the key to tasty hummus is to let it sit in the fridge overnight so the flavors can meld.  Here's the stuff and how to...


1 cup dry white beans or two 14.5 oz cans of white (Navy) beans, drained
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tahini
juice from 2 large lemons (I used Meyer's)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 cup basil leaves, packed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

How to:

If using dry beans, boil your beans in water until done, it will probably take close to two hours.  Drain and cool in the fridge.
Once beans are cooled (or if you're using canned beans, drain them) and dump into your food processor.  Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth.  Put the hummus in your fridge overnight and enjoy the next day!

P.S.  I'm working on creating a Recipage so that all of my recipes will be easily printable, findable and usable.  More on that later!

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Step-Parenting: The Transition

I've had an inkling to write about a lot of different things on this blog that I haven't yet shared. Sometimes I worry it doesn't go with my "theme" and other times I'm not sure I'm ready to put it all out there.  But then I think....some things are worth talking about, especially if they might help other people.  Consider this my first foray into dipping my big toe into that pool of putting it all out there.

I don't know if I've mentioned here before that I'm a step-kid.  My parents got divorced when I was 3 and they both re-married when I was 5.  From my mom's marriage I gained not only a new step-dad but also a step-brother and step-sister.  From my dad's marriage I gained a step-mom and eventually, a half-sister.  Are you confused yet?  As a kid I used to joke that I needed a map to help navigate my family...especially considering my dad and step-dad share the same name.

Is that helping?  

Anyway, I grew up like a regular old step-kid.  I spent time with my mom and my dad and shuffled back and forth between two sets of houses, two sets of rules, two dogs and two sets of parents.  As an adult I would tell you that it was no big deal, I got used to it, it started when I was little and it was just how it was for me.  It was my normal.

But then something happened.  I became a step-parent and I started to remember things that I had somehow or another chosen to forget.  One of those things was the transition.  When I say "transition", I'm talking about the time surrounding each exchange when I would switch from one house to the other.

Now as a step-parent, watching The Munchkin make the transition week after week, memories of my own transitioning have surfaced...and I must say, it's a hard thing for those little kiddos.  I have clear memories of being that step-kiddo and really not wanting to make the switch.  Not because I didn't want to see my Mom or Dad but because it was just a plain and simple interruption to my activity.  And of course there were times when I really missed one or the other of my parents when I wasn't with them.  Imagine if you switched houses and families every week.  Yeah, maybe you don't need to bring clothes and maybe your other house is in the same neighborhood, but it would still be difficult, even as an adult. 

Although it's sometimes painful to watch The Munchkin have a difficult transition and remember my own hard times of transitioning, I believe there are a lot of ways to make this process a little less difficult for those little ones.

1.  Co-Parenting is key.  Even when parents aren't together we should still work together for the sake of the kids, it really, really does make a difference.  I can't stress that enough.  Co-parenting though, is a whole different post that I hope to share in the future.  I will say we are thankful for our co-parenting situation and pretty darn proud of it too.  Or at least, I'm proud of all of us.

2.  Talk to your kiddo.  These seems pretty obvious, but what I'm saying is, be clear with them about the day...start talking to them hours before the transition is going to be made and keep talking up until the time of the switch: "hey Munchkin, you get to see your Mommy and other doggy today", "your Mom is going to be excited to see you later", "OK, we have about a half an hour left to play and then we're going to take you to your other house".  Clearly this doesn't have to be a constant thing but just dropping those little nuggets in their mind leading up to transition time does help to ease them into it.

3.  Share.  When I was little I didn't bring anything with me from one house to the other.  No toys, no games, no nothing except for what I came with.  It's probably not that big of a deal, but I remember feeling sad that I couldn't bring certain things to my other house.  So as an adult, I say share.  If the kiddo wants to bring a stuffed animal from one house to the other, let them do it.  I think if what they want to bring is reasonable it should be no big deal.  Now, when The Munchkin wants to bring his enormous Hot Wheels ramp, that is a little much, but a car?  Sure.  I feel like if it makes that switch a bit easier, or if they feel a little more comfortable because they have some favorite thing with them, then that's OK.

4.  Behavior issues after transitioning.  I'm hesitant to use the term "behavior issues" here because I feel like it is eluding to some major problem.  What I'm actually talking about is behavior being a tad worse than average.  That first hour or so after the transition can sometimes be trying.  It almost seems like a test period where that little mind is thinking "what can I get away with now that I'm at this house?" What works best for me here is to just try to be very patient.  I don't necessarily think it's a good idea to let your normal punishment slip just because the kiddo is in that transition window....if they are doing something they'd normally get a time out for, then they should probably still get that time out.  That said, I feel like as parents it's a good idea to be prepared for that first couple hours of change.  Remember that this is a little bit of a hard time for the kiddo and when they are young and lacking the communication skills to say how they feel, sometimes it instead comes out in not so great behavior.

5.  Talk to your kiddo.  I'm repeating this on purpose.  Just like talking to them before the transition is important, talking to them after the transition is important too.  It obviously won't be some deep therapy session with your kid, but I really believe just by asking, "hey, what's going on?", even when they are too young to have the ability to really communicate an answer, it makes it OK for them to express things to you in ways that they are able.  In addition, I really feel like it should be OK for the kiddo and adults to talk about both houses.  Having two houses is the normal for kiddo's in this situation, they should feel free to talk about goings-on in both places they live, with their parents, no matter where they are.

So, before I end this post, let me add a few things.  I'm not an expert, by any means, with regard to children, step-families, parenting or anything else for that matter, except for maybe chocolate and snow-cones.  I'm just a step-kid who is now a step-parent and the things I write here are purely my thoughts on the matter.  Everything is open for discussion.

Also.  I hope no one reads this and gets the idea that I had a bad situation as a step-kid.  I didn't.  I love my weird, mixed-up, not-nuclear family.  I got extremely lucky in the step-parent and parent department.  My thoughts here are my perspective now, having been the kid and now the parent in the step-situation.  So, Mom and Dad I am not permanently scarred because you didn't let me bring Rocky Raccoon back and forth.  You will probably be happy to know that Rocky Raccoon now belongs to The Munchkin and he has happily overnighted in both of The Munchkin's houses.  Rocky Raccoon wants you to know that he enjoys traveling.

Do you have a step-kid?  What's your transition like?

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It's OK Thursday

Here goes......

It's OK that tomorrow is Friday.
It's OK that I sometimes use Facebook as a news source.....I think.
It's OK that I'm wishing my girls wine trip was happening RIGHT NOW.
It's OK to be excited that fall TV is getting started next week.
It's OK to feel a little sad that you're husband is back to being a student and you mostly see him when he's studying.
It's OK to not let "ok" blog photos pass's good to get better at something.
It's OK....better than OK that I managed a semi-regular running schedule this week.  My body and sleep patterns are thanking me.
It's OK to be a little worried that the Farmer's Market might be running out of pluot's soon.  Sad.  Face.

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7 Reasons Why I Love the Farmer's Market

Living in California's central valley means we have the vast majority of the country's best produce available to us in abundance at multiple local farmers' markets. My favorite here in Sacramento is the Sunday market under the freeway at 8th & W. I am told this is one of the biggest markets in the state, although I can't confirm that.

There are plenty of reasons to love the farmer's market....these are the 7 reasons I think it's so great:

1. Fresh, local and often organic produce, meats, dairy and more - Although this may seem obvious not everyone is so lucky to have a local farmer's market at all, let alone nearly everyday of the week. I'm sure at least some of you have spent time in areas where produce isn't so readily available, or if it is, it's certainly not as fresh. Being removed from it will make you realize how lucky we are to have it year round.

2. Inspiration - There have been many occasions as I saunter through the market on a Sunday morning when I see something I've never seen before or something that looks interesting. I may leave the market not knowing quite what I'm going to do with it until I can do a Google recipe search to find out. This works in reverse too, sometimes I come to the market with a recipe in hand and buy as many things as I can at the market to cook it.

3. Seasonal knowledge - If you shop the market often enough and year round, you will most certainly develop knowledge of what's in season. Additionally, if you're shopping at the market year round, you are eating what's in season too, which typically means the produce you're buying has more nutrients because it is fresher.

4. Sense of community - People working and shopping at the market are just friendly. The crowd forces you to get close people and often talk to them. I've often heard other shoppers ask "what's this?" and the other shoppers around them volunteer information. Also, who better ask "how do you cook this" than the farmer who grew it? At the market that farmer is usually right behind the stand.

5. Hybrids and variety - Lemon cucumbers, pluots, purple carrots, fresh herbs, yellow watermelon....these aren't things you will typically see in a grocery store. And at the market, you can pretty much taste anything you want, just ask.

6. Prices - The market is cheap. I don't know if people don't realize this or what, but by shopping at the market you're essentially cutting out the middle man. Three bunches of cilantro for $1, a bunch of mint for 50 cents, 30 eggs for $7, pluots, peaches, plums and nectarines for $1.50/lb.....these are all real prices happening right now at the Sunday market. If someone can tell me a grocery store in town that sells produce as fresh and local as this at these prices, please share.

7. Taste - Once you start eating produce from the market on a regular basis there is no going back. In my opinion, even organic produce from high end grocery chains can't compare. Market buys are better, fresher and last way longer. The only thing that might beat it is something you grow in your own garden.

I would encourage anyone to visit their local farmer's market, get in the crowd, grab your goods and don't be afraid to ask questions. My only other suggestion is to bring your own disposable grocery bags to make it easier to haul the load you are likely to purchase. Also, don't forget cash; $20 will go a long way at the market. Here is some additional scoop on the markets local to Sacramento:

Tuesday Fremont Park Market - This is another great little lunchtime market with good lunch food available too, like tamales for $2! This is also a nice shady park that is a great spot for enjoying your lunch. Location is 16th and P, hours are 10:00-1:30, open from May-September.

Tuesday Roosevelt Park Market - Another lunchtime park market. Open 10:00-1:30 from May-September.

Wednesday Market at Chavez Plaza - This is a great little lunchtime market in a good people watching venue (they have the tamales too!). They are open from May to October from 10:00-1:30.

Thursday Capitol Mall Farmer's Market - Another one I haven't been to. This is between 5th and 6th on on Capitol Mall and open May-September from 10:00-1:30.

Thursday Capitol Park Market - This market is at the East end of Capitol Park. Open May-September from 10:00-1:30. What better place to enjoy lunch and a mid-day break than Capitol Park?

Thursday Florin Farmer's Market - This market is in front of the Sears store and runs from 8:00-Noon, it is also open year round and accepts EBT.

Saturday Rancho Cordova Market - This is a great little Saturday market with some of the same vendors from the Sunday market and some different vendors as well. I visit this market if I can't make the Sunday market. Both times I have been they have a clown doing balloon animals for the kids and live music. It is open year round, accepts EBT and runs from 8:00-Noon. Location is Folsom & Sunrise near the light rail station.

Saturday Laguna Gateway Market - Open year round, accepts EBT and runs from 8:00-Noon. At Laguna Gateway Center, Laguna & Big Horn Blvd.

Saturday Natomas Farmer's Market - This is in the Target/Sports Authority Shopping center and also accepts EBT. It opened in June and the closing date is TBD, hours 8:00-Noon.

Saturday Oak Park Farmer's Market - I have not visited this market yet, but the reviews look great. They are open Saturday's from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. from May to October and accepts EBT.

Saturday Country Club Plaza Market - I haven't been to this market either but it looks like a good one. If it's close to you, check it out! It's open year round from 8:00-Noon.

Sunday Farmer's Market, 8th & W - This is my favorite market and the one I visit the most. Overall this market is easily the biggest in Sacramento and filled with all kinds of goodies including produce, meats, seafood, cheese, honey, bread & pastries, eggs, herbs, nuts and dried fruits not to mention much, much more. It is also open year round, though less busy in winter. Bring cash, although I believe some of the meat and seafood vendors accept plastic. Also, EBT accepted.

I've linked most of these to Yelp reviews so you can get an idea of what the people think, but you should also check the California Grower's Certified Farmer's Market site to confirm hours and locations as the market's change a bit each year.
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Oh Happy Day

I write this little bloggy for fun and as a creative outlet.  I love to eat and cook, explore and travel to new places and be outside.  It's fun to share all of that with anyone who follows our adventures here, with all of you.

And as true as all of that is, it's still nice to be recognized, and in the last week I've felt the love for sure!

First, thank you to everyone who pulled out last minute votes for The Cyclist's Wife for the Circle of Moms Top 25 NorCal Mom's contest.  I didn't even know I was in the contest until about a day and a half before it ended, but all of your votes got me in the top 25!  I'm happy to now display this badge on the blog!

And then, if that wasn't enough, I awakened to this e-mail from Real Women of Philadelphia this morning:

We have an amazing fruit recipe for you to try, but you’ll have to make it soon! See what recipe we’re obsessing over when you click the link:

--The Real Women of Philadelphia Team 
....and I thought, "that would be cool if they featured my recipe".  
I clicked the link and...

....there was my photo!  
How exciting!  
To see the blog post at Real Women of Philadelphia click here.
To see my recipe on this blog, click here.

Thank you for your votes and recognition, it really does mean so much to me!  

Have a great day!

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