Saturday, October 30, 2010

Soup Exchange!

I love this idea! Vanessa over at Southern In My Heart has put together a soup exchange for Sister Saturday. Of course I was all over it since I love mah soup!

I had a hard time picking which soup recipe I wanted to share since I have TONS! I chose this recipe from one of my new favorite cookbooks called Mother's Best.

The author, Lisa Schroeder, opened Mother's Bistro & Bar in Portland, Oregon out of the desire to preserve home cooking from mother's around the world. Her bistro is wonderful! I went there for my birthday and absolutely fell in love. All of her food is the healthy homemade comfort food you would expect on your mom or grandmother's table. I loved reading about how she built her restaurant from the ground up, she is a very inspiring person. 

One of the neatest things she does is feature a "Mom of the Month" or "M.O.M," who collaborates with Lisa to create a special menu with some of the best dishes from the "Mom of the Month." They cook them together so Lisa learns firsthand how to make the "Mom of the Month's" dishes...for me this would be an HONOR!! 

I decided to go with the healthy and hearty "Mama's Minestrone" for the soup exchange.  Don't be scared off by the long recipe, it is loaded with healthy & quality ingredients that make a big ol soup pot full of yummy goodness that will last for a few days and make for some great leftovers!

For the beans:

1/4 lb dry white beans, rinsed, soaked and drained
1 small yellow onion quartered
1 small carrot peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small rib of celery coarsely chopped
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs italian parsley, tied together with string)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the soup:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions diced, about 2 cups
1 large carrot peeled and diced, about 3/4 cup
1 large rib of celery diced, about 1/2 cup
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 med zucchini's, diced, about 2 cups
1 cup shredded savoy cabbage
1/4 lb green beans, sliced into 1 inch pieces, about 1 cup
1/4 lb red potatoes, diced, about 2 cups
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes (recipe calls for whole plum but I just use crushed)
8 cups of vegetable stock or low sodium chicken broth (I short-cutted this with Knorr powdered chicken base. It is my secret weapon in the kitchen!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped italian parsley for garnish
Cooked elbow macaroni (al dente)

*Optional: 2 1/2 - 3 links of browned italian sausage

To prepare the beans:

Place the soaked beans into a pot and cover with cold water. Add the onions, carrots, celery and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook, covered, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.  Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Simmer for another 15 minutes.

Remove the onions, carrots, celery and bouquet garni and discard. Drain the beans through a strainer set over a bowl, reserving the liquid (You can make the beans several days ahead;  refrigerate the cooking liquid and beans separately.)

Using an immersion blender, food processor, blender or food mill, puree one third of the beans (you will need some of the bean liquid to get the beans to move around) and set aside.

To make the soup:

While the beans are cooking, heat a heavy, wide stockpot over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the olive oil and onions and saute, stirring now and then until soft, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium if the onions start to brown (the onions should be evenly golden, not brown, or they will be bitter and add dark spots to the soup.) Add the carrots and celery and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, another 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute (don't let it brown).

Add the zucchini, stir to combine, and saute for a few minutes.  Add the cabbage, stir, and cook for a few minutes until wilted.  Add the green beans, potatoes, tomatoes and stock, and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat and simmer, covered for one hour checking it every now and then to stir.

After the soup has simmered, stir in the bean puree and whole cooked beans. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes to meld the flavors. If necessary thin the soup with reserved bean liquid.

**You also have the option of adding the browned Italian sausage to the soup which I did and LOVED! I used about 2 1/2 links.

To serve:

Just before serving place some cooked macaroni into the bottom of your serving bowl (adding the pasta to the bowl instead of the soup pot keeps it from getting too mushy). Ladle the soup over the pasta and sprinkle each serving with pecorino romano cheese (or just parmesan) and Italian parsley and serve with a loaf of crispy french or Italian bread.

I have made this soup with and without the Italian sausage and prefer it with the sausage as it adds a lot more flavor and heartiness. I hope you get a chance to try it or at least read Lisa's book! She has tons of great recipes in there!

Mmmm! Doesn't this look delish!!...

I know what I am making for Sunday dinner!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend...


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mommy A.D.D.

So I have this cute little table and mirror that I have been wanting to repaint. The table was a freebie from a yard sale and the mirror was a freebie from one of my besties in SoCal. I have the perfect spot for it in my daughters bedroom for when I actually finish it. I have been DYING to join in on "Twice Owned Tuesday" at House of Grace and I think this would be the perfect little set to use as my post...again, for when I actually finish it!

So what has been the hold up? Why haven't I got down to business and slapped on a coat of that gorgeous Design Masters flat black spray paint??

Because Miss-Organized-Clean-Freaks's garage was a mess.

It was still cluttered from the summer bomb my four kids left behind and I just didn't want to take that project on because I knew there would be a lot of work/organizing/cleaning/goodwill donating involved. Bummer for me because that is the only area I can spray paint right now since it has started to get really wet here in the NW.  

Until yesterday.

I hammered out a massive overhaul on the summer bomb and I am sorry to disappoint BUT I do not have any before and after pictures because if I did someone would probably report my blog for inappropriate content! So as I am busting out the garage organizing this and organizing that I decided I wanted all the camping stuff in the basement. You know what this means right? It means I am on to cleaning out the basement, which means I am also on to cleaning out the linen closet, which means I am on to scrubbing the toilets, which means I am on to repainting the house and re-landscaping the backyard.

Can you say "MOMMY A.D.D.?!"

If I could just stick to one thing my table and mirror would probably be done!! But I cant, that is just me, that is how I am wired (thanks mom & dad). I want things done the right way my way. Call me a type A personality (I know its just a nice way of saying I am a control freak) or call me OCD, A.D.D., whatever...things are getting done around here! AND I LOVE IT!  My hope is that I will have that cute little table and mirror set done before my daughter graduates high school or before I get a wild hair and refurnish her room altogether!

I will leave you with this: Somehow in the mix of all this garage cleaning & organizing craziness I organized my cookbooks and favorite cooking magazines (I don't know how this even happened) and I am really diggin' my cookbook cupboard now. I finally got these books and magazines to where they wont fall out of the cupboard like an avalanche and knock me upside the head. No joke, it has happened. All it took was some cheapie FLYT magazine files from Ikea for $1.99 in a five pack...BARGAIN!

All bett-uh!

Hope you all have a beautiful rest of your week...I will be in the basement!


Monday, October 25, 2010

I love my job!

Yes you read it right..."I love my job!"
For the most part I am a stay at home mama until Friday and/or Saturday nights roll around. I get to work a couple nights a week at a local bistro/wine shop/catering company named K'Syrah. I am very lucky to be able to work there not only because it is WHAT I LOVE TO DO but because the fun ladies I work with have become close friends of mine.

The owner, Kelly Bruce is so creative and outstanding in what she does that I am very lucky to be working along side of her...she has taught me a great deal about cooking, event planning and of course wine! Our only downside as a team is that the both of us DO NOT like to bake! This requires us to stand still and have patience which both of us have a hard time with! We like being able to run around the kitchen shaking hot pans, throwing food together and tossing things in and out of the oven without the tedious restrictions that go along with baking. 

Saturday night we put on a wine dinner with Nicholas Cellars. Our guests enjoyed a five course meal that was carefully paired with a glass of wine. While they enjoyed our deliciously prepared food the winemaker joined them and explained how they select only the best fruit farmed by growers dedicated to low yields, outstanding fruit expression and sustainable practices.

Take a look at our menu for the special event:

First Course

Savory Mini-Blue Cheese Tart with a Port Reduction
2006 GraEagle Red Wing
Second Course

Smoked Duck Salad
Sliced smoked duck resting on a bed of baby greens tossed with a Bing Cherry Vinaigrette
Dauphine 2006
Third Course

Lamb Chops with White Beans and Gremolata
Rich and mild lamb chops resting on a bed of rosemary and garlic infused white beans. Finished with a fresh herb and lemon gremolata
Michelle 2006
Fourth Course

Beef Medallions
Seared beef medallions and decadent Gorgonzola Bread Pudding
finished with a rich red wine and shallot pan sauce
Camille 2006

Chocolate-Raspberry Torta
2006 Reserve

Although the menu seems complicated,  with careful planning and preparation each course was successfully executed and everyone was licking their plates! A good sign that we have done well is that there is no food coming back to the kitchen!

I love preparing for parties and special events and we have done it under all kinds of circumstances...this past summer we pulled off a wedding of 200 guests with NO RUNNING WATER OR ELECTRICITY! No joke, it was a caterers nightmare but we pulled it off. We just put our big girl pants on, slapped on some smiley faces and busted our behinds to get it done!  We have also pulled off events in garages, freezing cold rain, tiny kitchens and believe it or not, construction sites. While it becomes stressful at the time we are always able to look back and laugh!

I also love to help do the tablescapes.  Having all the candles lit for the guests, Michael Buble singing in the background, hearing corks pop, people laughing and having a great time makes my heart sing! Entertaining is one of my favorite things about my job!

Although our five course menu didn't leave much room for decorating our tables I still think the tables looked great with all the wine glasses waiting for our guests to sit and enjoy our "family style" meal...

Now who is ready to taste some wine?! That is a lot of wine glasses! And to make sure the wine has had the proper amount of time to breathe and taste correctly with our meal we always have to "quality control!" I mean after all we would never want our guests to leave the bistro having tasted a less than perfect wine! I would say this is another highlight to my job! But just "a taste" because we have a lot of work to do and stay focused on!

Here we are, my friends and co-workers, Brenda (our outstanding head server/bartender), Kelly (the proprietor/chef) and myself (chef's assistant/server/everybody's "go to" girl)...

We had a great evening and a lot of fun pulling off yet another successful wine dinner at K'Syrah Bistro!

Hope you all had a great weekend as well!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Touches of Halloween popping up in the 6Pack house!

I love fall decorating and of my fall gear is put out in early September. By the time Halloween rolls around I just add a few Halloween touches around the main living area and front porch. This really excites my two younger kiddos! My older kiddos? Well, lets say they just run and hide when they see me pull out the old Rubbermaid bins from the basement as this usually requires their help! And isn't it funny how they suddenly have "TONS OF HOMEWORK?!"

Yeah, we will see how much homework they have as soon as I set out the candy dishes!


I have a mix of things I like to put out. Some are secondhand, some were bought brand new and some were handmade. Nothing I have really matches, they are just the little things that I like!

I found this sign at Walmart last year. It is perfect for Halloween but I am thinking it should be left up all year to serve as a warning for those who don't put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher!

This cute little guy was found at a local little thrift store called Treasure House!

These pretty orange candle holders were also found at Treasure House for $2.49!

I found these cute little ceramic pumpkins at DollarTree...

A little crow from Michaels after Halloween sale last year and a Halloween Yankee Candle picked up from Marshalls are the perfect little touch to the coffee table.

A few years back I made this little pumpkin guy out of an old book by folding each page inward (took me awhile) then cutting out a face and gluing it on to the front.

I also made this banner a couple years back out of extra cardstock and scrap booking stuff that I had on hand. I used my Cricut machine to cut out the lettering.

And of course here is one of my little "splurges" from the Yankee Candle shop. The kids and I are always drawn to owls because my husband's grandmother (who is no longer with us) loved owls! So when we see them we we usually can not pass them up. We all like the little things that remind us of someone special and our "Grandma Lala" was truly someone special who also shared a love for holiday celebrating and decorating!

Hope you are enjoying the season as much as I am! I am trying to keep my seasonal decorating simple and clutter free by choosing only a few things out of my Rubbermaid bins. I find that if I keep it less fussy it is easier to maintain the seasonal things when I have to dust and clean! This leaves more time for family fun and after all isn't that what the season is all about anyway?!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Getting my sexy back...

Its not a secret if you know me, I have lost a lot of weight this past year. I get a lot of questions about this..."How did you do it?" "What did you eat?" "Did you work out?" I think people are looking for a miracle trick when they ask these questions because when I say "I ate healthy, worked out four days a week and did it the good old fashioned way," their faces usually go from excited to looking like they smelled something foul. I know, boring right? I didn't cut carbs, ban sugar, take pills, drink potions or visit a hypnotist. I just had patience, ate healthy and joined the gym to get rid of all the extra junk in the trunk!  

"How much did you lose?" 
This is usually the next question I get from people and for months I would just respond with "A LOT" because I was quite embarrassed by the number. But now I am owning it. I worked hard to lose weight and the process became a journey for me. Identifying with what made me not care, finding new healthy hobbies to go to when I was stressed out instead of baking a cheesecake and eating it! Learning to tell people "NO" so I had more time to give to myself and work on ME and in the end I lost 52 pounds. 

"WAIT. WUH? Fifty. Two. Pounds?"
And I usually hide my face at this point and say "yes, fifty two pounds!" 

About a year ago my longtime besties and I decided to shed some extra weight. We all were doing it in different ways (and in different states) but keeping each other motivated with weekly weigh-ins via text message every Friday with a picture of what our scale showed us that morning, sharing healthy recipes we found and just being there for each other when one felt like they wanted to give up or needed support because they over indulged during a PMS attack! (Trust me there were plenty of times where I caught myself in the pantry with a bag of Doritos in one hand a a cookie in the other). It was and still is with each others support that I continue to succeed because I always know my girls will say "I love you but your much nicer when you fit into your skinny jeans! Put down the Doritos and go for a walk sister!"

My bestie Tessa and her family came up from my hometown San Diego last year for Thanksgiving and she gave me something I would have NEVER bought for myself. I STILL thank her for it even a year later. 
Meet my Bodybugg (or Bodymedia, same device). 

(This is not what it looked like when I first got it, I have added a cute zebra skin and replaced my old worn out armband with a stylish hot pink armband!)

At first I just saw it as another gadget I would use for a couple weeks then get annoyed with and not use, tuck away and forget about. Tessa and her hubby got me all set up with it, showed me how to wear it on my arm, helped me set up my weight loss goals, showed me how to upload the information to the website, input my calories and track my daily activity. I WAS HOOKED. Once I was able to see what I was or was not doing everyday I was finally able to figure out what I needed to lose the extra weight. I love it because I can see the information in front of my face. I can see how many steps I have taken, how many calories I have burned, if I have met my activity goals for the day and seeing that science in front of my face was the best tool I could have in order to meet my weight loss goals. If I saw I didn't take enough steps for the day, I went to the gym or went for a walk, if I saw I didn't have enough calories I would make myself something nutritious to eat, If I saw I exceeded my goals I would high five myself!

And steadily I lost weight. Sometimes two pounds a week sometimes nothing but I just kept on trucking along because when I saw that I met my goals everyday I could be happy in the fact that I was doing something good for myself and this is just what I needed. Being a mommy of four kids spreads you thin and it is often easy to put myself aside first in order to make everyone else happy or to fulfill the needs of everyone else. Now that I feel the best I have ever felt before I will not let myself slide back into those old habits!

I have to work on this sort of ME attitude DAILY which is a struggle because my brain likes to tell me "you should be doing this Kama" or "you should be doing that Kama" and I start to feel a pang of guilt for being in the gym instead of home reading a book to one of my little ones. I just need to keep reminding myself that it is OK to work on myself and be a little selfish. All of us moms need that because in the end we come out refreshed, rejuvenated and have tons more energy to keep up with all the mommy demands!

And sporting a pair of hot skinny jeans and sexy heels are the bonus prize!  

Here is my before.
That is me in my "chubby pants" hiding behind my kids at my heaviest...

I had a really hard time finding a picture from last year. I apparently avoided the camera really well!

This is me a year after receiving my Bodybugg from Tessa...

Hope you all have a beautiful week...I am going out for a walk!


(If you would like to read more info on the Bodybugg I have put a link to on my blog. This is where my friend Tessa purchased her and my Bodybugg).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ooh la la! Feather Pens!

So I have this problem.

Whenever I sit down at my desk and reach for a pen they are all M.I.A.
I suspect they just "POOF! disappear" right?


My kids keep taking them and not putting them back!

I get it, they are doing their homework but come on kids! Cant you leave JUST ONE for me?!

So to fix this problem I decided to have pens that they didn't want to take. Or should I say couldn't take. Because if they took my pretty pens it would be pretty easy to figure out who did it!

I made some feather pens! You know, like the silk flower pens? 
I love feathers (or anything fluffy, ruffley, shiny, glittery and pretty for that matter) and this fall I have been finding ways to use these cute little feather sticks from Michaels.

First I took a feather stick, some black florists tape & a plain old Bic pen.

I held the feather stick to the side of the pen and wrapped the florists tape around and around until I got to the bottom of the pen. (I know, I know...I need a mani really bad!)

This little project took me about 5 minutes and I think they look really cute! 
I plunked them in this old candle holder from Dollar Tree with some glass beads to stand them upright (FYI: You can also stand your makeup brushes up in one of these candle holders with beads).

I love them and they look really cute on my desk. 
And so far I haven't had to search for a pen in awhile!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Show me your red blog party...

In an attempt to learn how to blog party I decided to link up to House of Beauty and Culture. Miki's button grabbed my eye since I love zebra print and of course RED! 

I love red. 
I love decorating with red and I love wearing red.  

I chose to show you all my red pea coat. I love that thing! Everywhere I go I get compliments on it, but the main reason I love it is because I bought it at a bargain price of $9 brand new at JC Penny's (I say "brand new" because I am such a secondhand junkie!). 

Do you ever shop the end of the season clearance deals? I do. I love to hit up a clearance rack at the end of winter or spring to nab next years goods. I buy ahead. Pea coats are timeless and I knew it would not be a dated piece. It is sort of like shopping the after Christmas sales and then just tucking it away for the next season. It requires elbow grease to sift through all the racks of clearance specials and patience to be able to wait and wear the things I find but in the end it pays off. It is how I save $$ with my big family. When you have four kids you gotta get creative sometimes ALL THE TIME!

Here is my red bargain pea coat that I just LOVE...

Hope you all have a beautiful day!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Conquering the visual noise monster...

I love having my craft supplies and office needs right at my fingertips but I hate to see it all the time in my office! It is what I call “visual noise.” It is sort of like looking at a weeks worth of crumbs on my hardwood floors and feels like drums, trumpets and cymbals banging around in my eyeballs! AAAaahhh! I hate it! To top that off our office is the first room to the left as you enter our house through the front door and it has glass french doors so there is NO HIDING THE CLUTTER! I have my little scrapbooking/crafting organizing modular thing-a-ma-jig tucked into the corner of the office so everytime I walk into my house I am greeted by that thing I call the “visual noise monster!” I thought about replacing it with a cabinet but I couldn’t find the right sized thing that had the storage ability I needed to house all my papers, cutters, glues, embellishments, punches, superhero gear and office supplies. So I just let it be and frowned at it every single time I walked past it.
Until I found these Itso bins from Target…
So Far these bins have made it under my kitchen sink, my pantry and now my office.
I am not a huge fan of the plasticy look BUT these were just the things to take control of all my bits of  craftingness.  (Note to new friends…I make up words A LOT).
Here is my before (frowny face)…

And here is my craft area Itsofied…

Aaaahhhhh. I just took a visual vacation.
I still need to do that one shelf BUT I bought every wide tray Target had. I will nab one more on my next Tar-jay run!
While I was busy conquering the clutter I put together a “family file” so all those pesky little papers from the mail, the schools, the this and the thats can get tucked away so I don’t have to look at them and when I need them I know right where they will be at. And hopefully with my obsession with labeling things my family will be able to find what they are looking for…(doubt it).

I owe my Itso craze to a really cool website called I got some great ideas from that website and continue to find fun, inexpensive and pretty ways to organize.
I am happy with what I see now and can blog peacefully!

I love everything about having girls...especially playing dress up!

We had a great weekend here in the 6Pack house. My husband came home to us from a long year of working in Seattle, we had the girls’ homecoming game on friday and then the homecoming dance on saturday. The extra special part was that my daughter was crowned homecoming princess for the freshman class. I looooove watching my girls go to dances because it is so much fun to go dress shopping, shoe shopping, jewelry shopping and do the hair and makeup thing with them! IT IS SO MUCH FUN! Then with all that I turn into “mom-parazzi!” Taking pictures is the next funnest part! So of course I have to share…
This is my oldest getting ready to cheer with her varsity cheer squad!

My princess who was crowned at halftime…

As you can see it was a rainy night on saturday, so I went out and got the girls a really cute umbrella!
My darlings all dolled up for saturday’s dance…

It was a fun friday and saturday night for us. I live for these special times and I am so glad I take a jillion pictures even if it annoys the heck out of them!
I am pretty sure someday they will thank me.
It has been a LONG weekend and I am POOPED. Hope everyone else out there has had a wonderful weekend as well.

Update on the fall OCD'n...

I am going to make this short and sweet! After yesterday’s kitchen scrub down I finally got to my floors and did some under the sink organizing. I seriously needed an intervention with all the cleaning supplies that were piling up on me. I hate waste so I have a hard time throwing away a half used bottle of crappy cleaner. After I figured out all my new cleaning supplies worked great it was a go! PEACE OUT COMET AND 409!!!
YIKES! Check my before…

I wasn’t kidding when I said I needed an intervention. Whatevs! It happens to everyone, stuff piles up and you just got to give the house a good shake down! That is exactly what I did. I took my kitchen sink cabinet and dumped it into the garbage can, busted out my BFF the label maker, bought some Itso bins from Target (that I will also use in my future pantry organizing plans) and got me some ORGANIZATION!
Oh yeah…check my after!

Lastly, I went to town on my floors. I went out and bought a mop (my mom just keeled over from a heart attack…she HATES mops). I have officially gone “full mop circle.” I began with a mop, switched to a swiffer, converted to a steamer, tried every kind of micro fiber doo-dad-thing-a ma-bob and now I am back to a mop. And before you see what my new mop and new Get Clean products picked up off of my floor you may want to go get a barf bucket…

Seriously? Now that is just sick. I thought I was cleaning with all those doo-dad-thing-a-ma-bobs. Apparently I was just rubbing the muck and dirt all around the floors for fun and then letting my four kids roll all over it everyday.
So here is for you BEST MOM IN THE ENTIRE WORLD (wink wink)…

And Betsey says “HI everyone!!”