Saturday, June 6, 2015

Weekend Adventures in the Neighborhood...

We love a good boring weekend in this house.  Nick refers to them as "do-nothing-weekends."  For us, last weekend was the complete opposite of a do-nothing-weekend.  It was more like a don't-stop-moving weekend!  As crazy as it was, it also reminded me of how lucky we are to live where we live.  We have amazing friends in our neighborhood who all have kids that Georgia loves to play with at every opportunity, which allows us all to socialize together quite easily. 

The best way to recap the craziness is with a little timeline of events...

Friday - 7pm
Got home from winning our 1st round play-off softball game.  We grabbed dinner at our neighborhood Italian place on the way home.  Sine it was still 90+ degrees out, Georgia decided to take her bath/shower in the front yard with the sprinkler...






 



Saturday - 11am
Birthday party at the local bounce place for a friend from daycare

I watched Georgia go down the giant slide approximately 9,548 times and chatted with her friends' parents while Nick took care of much needed yard work at home.




Saturday - 1:30pm
Join neighbors at the pool for several hours of swimming!




Good news - pool temperature has increased to approximately 34 degrees after being open for a full week!  Thankfully, Georgia doesn't seem to care about the Arctic conditions and spent hours in there swimming around like a fish.






 









After a quick game of kid toss, we all started talking about what we were going to do for dinner and how to get these kids out of the pool.  Some fast and furious texting between the neighborhood clan led to the impromptu BBQ at our house.

Saturday - 6pm
BBQ at the Thoman House

Again, since it was still 90+ degrees, we took out all the water toys, including the baby pool and the slip-n-slide for some back yard fun while we grilled up some tasty food.




Saturday - Way past all kids bed times!
All five children (all under the age of 4) were still doing amazingly well several hours later playing inside the house while the adults relaxed on the deck.  Considering that several skipped nap to be at the pool all day, it bordered on being a Christmas miracle!  Georgia may have been slurring words at that point, which made it the perfect time to crack open some wine on the deck.





Saturday - Way, way, way past all kids bed times!
Perfect time for a fire and s'mores!





Sunday - WAY too early after a late night
Did I mention that we all had to be at soccer bright and early on Sunday morning and that it was STILL 90+ degrees out?!?!




Although we still have one more week of soccer, they distributed the year end trophies at this practice, which was BIG news in Georgia's world!





Sunday - 12pm
Birthday party for a neighborhood friend at a local gymnastics center.  Not sure who enjoyed this party more - the kids or the parents, especially the Dads!




Who am I kidding - I may have engaged in the fun too!











The kids got called away for a different activity and you instantly saw all the Dads faces light up knowing that the foam pit was going to be empty of little people.  Within seconds, there were flips happening everywhere!









Sunday - 3pm
Thank goodness for afternoon storms rolling through the area because it forced ALL of us to take an afternoon nap instead of hitting the pool as originally planned.

Cold beer, s'mores, grilled food, good wine, pool time, friends, parties and lots of outdoor time = The perfect way to kick off summer



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thoman Treats - Batch #1

Before Georgia was diagnosed with food allergies, I always envisioned taking our kid out for ice cream on big celebration days - good report card, great day at school, after getting a scary shot at the doctors, etc.  However, ice cream stands are now mostly a no-go in our house due to her dairy allergy.  A few places serve shaved ice, snow cones, or some other "safe treat" for her to eat, but it's not quite the same.  Even if we can find a safe option, we still have to worry about cross contamination with peanuts. 

Nick has been talking about getting an ice cream maker or the ice cream attachment for our KitchenAid mixer for years.  So, this year for Nick's birthday, Georgia and I surprised him with the mixer attachment!  He was pretty excited to try out his first batch on Memorial Day weekend, so we started googling and researching some dairy free recipes that might work for us.  We ended up combining a few different recipes together to make our first batch of official Thoman Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream.

Our main source of inspiration was THIS recipe with a few Thoman tweaks.

Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream

**Dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free**

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped up into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 (13.5 oz) cans of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch




Directions:

  • Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the strawberries and sugar.  Let it come to a boil and then simmer together for a few minutes.  We used a potato masher to mash the strawberries down until the whole thing was a bubbly syrup with small chunks of strawberries in it.  Remove from heat.
  • Heat a larger sauce pan over medium heat.  Remove 1/2 cup of coconut milk from one of the cans.  Combine the remaining 2 cans in the sauce pan and heat.
  • Add in the maple syrup and salt to the coconut milk.  Simmer over medium-low heat for a few minutes.  I stirred continuously to help everything blend.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup of reserved coconut milk with the cornstarch.  Once combined, pour into the coconut milk sauce pan.
  • Add the vanilla to the sauce pan and stir to combine.  Cook at a simmer for approximately 5-8 minutes as mixture thickens.   Remove from heat.

Here's the waiting game part...
  • Pour each mixture into a bowl to cool on the counter top.
  • After 30 minutes of cooling, place the coconut milk mixture into the freezer to cool down further for a few hours.
  • After 30 minutes of cooling, pour the strawberry sauce into a blender and combine to make a thick syrup.  Place into the refrigerator.

Now the fun part...
  • Get out your ice cream maker and follow the instructions on how to best prepare your ice cream.  We put the coconut milk base into our churner and let it run for approximately 10-15 minutes.  At that point, we turned it off momentarily and added in the strawberry sauce.  We turned it back on for an additional 5-10 minutes to combine.
  • Scoop out all the ice cream and place mixture into a shallow container and freeze overnight







When ready to serve, take out the container and left soften for a few minutes.





Was this time-consuming and a fair amount of work?  Yup.

Did it make my dairy allergy child happy?  Yup, which makes it all worth it to have "safe" ice cream at home!!

Would I add in some chocolate chip morsels next time?  ABSOLUTELY!!

We can't wait to play with our ice cream maker all summer long to make fresh and SAFE treats for our entire family.




Sunday, May 31, 2015

Memorial Day 2015...

Memorial Day weekend 2015 blessed us with beautiful weather and Mimi returning for her monthly visit. 


Supporting Red Nose Day


On Saturday, we prepped the house for the holiday weekend by adding some decorative touches to the deck  Our roses had great timing this year and popped just in time for the long weekend.









Nick decided we needed a new storage bin for under the deck to help organize all the water toys that we use during the summer.  Georgia had a blast helping him put it together and then trying it out...





With Mimi in town, Nick and I escaped for a night out including a movie at our favorite Ipic theater and trying out the new Del Frisco's Grille in the Rose & Pike neighborhood.  I highly recommend the white sangria which comes with a popsicle in it!  Brilliant idea for flavor and a bonus method of keeping the sangria ice cold.  I will definitely be trying that idea at home this summer.

Sunday brought another beautiful weather day, so we let Georgia pull out the slip-n-slide for some backyard action.



Mimi lifeguarding the slip-n-slide










We fired up the grill for dinner and made our favorite Monterey Chicken while Georgia had a dance party on the deck.













The best side dish for Monterey Chicken is some amazing grilled corn.  Tastes like summer!!



 
 
For Nick's birthday this year, Georgia and I bought him an ice cream maker since he is always talking about making homemade ice cream.  I'm going to feature a few different dairy free and nut-free summer dessert recipes later in the week, including the strawberry ice cream we whipped up this weekend, as well as some frozen yogurt popsicles.


Mixing up some ice cream


After a long walk on our local trail, we finished off the night with a fire in the back yard.


Sorry, Mom - no one will know those are your pajama pants, I promise!
 

The Monday holiday was all about the pool!  Georgia hadn't spent much time in any pool since last summer, so we weren't sure what to expect.  However, within 2 minutes, she was down in the deep end (the VERY cold deep end) swimming away like a fish.







Georgia and her buddy, Connor, stayed in the pool for HOURS swimming away and jumping in again and again!  Georgia loved to "go deep" when jumping into the pool.













I foresee a long summer at the pool considering we had to drag Georgia out of there after 5 hours of swimming.  Mimi headed to the airport later that evening and we declared Georgia's weekend was over too since the little water bug was slurring her words and was exhausted from her long day in the pool!  The countdown to summer has officially begun in our house...