Thursday, August 18, 2011

Feelin' Saucy

Have you ever opened up your cupboard to realize you only have tomato paste when you really need tomato sauce? Well I have. And more than once. In fact, it just happened the last time I made Sloppy Joes.

Enter my good friend Google. Solves many a quandary, especially in the kitchen. Here's how I made sauce from paste. I had a small 6 oz. can of tomato paste and added 1 ½ cups water to it. Yep, that's it! Some people suggest adding a little brown sugar to sweeten it, but I didn't find that necessary in my recipe. I was so happy with the results, I will never buy tomato sauce again!
Apparently the mom in me focused on the cute kitchen help instead of the ingredients. However, if you look closely you can see our homemade tomato sauce in the background on the stove.

Psst. If you only have tomato sauce and need tomato paste, I hear you can cook it in a pan until it is reduced by half. I've never tried it though, so let me know if you do and it works {or doesn't}! And while you're thinking about sharing, do you have any substitution tricks up your sleeve?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sloppy Joes

The other day we were eating something when Camille turned to me and asked if I could give her the recipe when she grows up. For the life of me, I can't remember what we were eating {and neither can she!} Seriously, it's been about two days. So the idea was born to post all of her and Tate's favorite recipes on my blog along with a family story or memory. Hopefully along the way you'll find something you like, too.

Our sloppy Joe {baby Joseph} loves Sloppy Joes! We took this meal with us the other night when we met Todd for a picnic at the Tacoma Nature Center. They have a super fun play area with slides that look like logs, bridges over water and even some telescopes. There are also some wonderful trails for hiking, which we enjoyed after dinner. If you go before 5 pm, the indoor nature center is open with some fun exhibits for the kids. You can also pick up a list of all the animals living in the area and see how many you can find on your walk. Great fun, and all free! {for more free summertime activities check out this post}

1 lb. ground beef
¼ C brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. steak seasoning blend {we use McCormick Montreal seasoning}
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 C tomato sauce
  • Break up meat in pan and add brown sugar and steak seasoning.
  • When meat has browned, add onion, red bell peppers, red wine vinegar and worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 min.
  • Add tomato sauce; stir to combine. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes.
I like to double this recipe and freeze half for a quick meal on a busy day.
I also prefer to make my own tomato sauce from tomato paste so I only have to stock one tomato product.
This recipe was adapted from Rachael Ray...for the original recipe, click here.

By the time we set out on our little hike the sun was getting low in the sky. Tate forged ahead with the walking stick he found.

Couldn't catch a picture of any fish jumping in the air - they're quick little buggers {truly teensy - truth be told, we couldn't even tell if they were fish}. But here you can see the water rings where they were jumping. They were all over the place!

 Feeding time for the ducks {it should be noted this was a natural meal time at the nature center - we didn't feed any animals}

The bridge behind Camille is where we saw the no-see-em' fish and the dining duck.

Camille found some flowers that she photographed.
I occasionally enjoy lagging behind my family {just for a moment} 
and quietly take in the sight of my greatest blessings.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What's Going on Today?

I made a list of activities to do this summer, but some of these activities are only available on certain days. I love the idea of being organized so I printed off a blank calendar for the month and began filling in activities. As much as I love this idea, it's just not practical for me and my family. Sometimes stuff comes up at the last minute or I realize no one has socks {or worse yet, undies} and I have to do laundry again. Sometimes I wake up and have a meeeellion things to do and can't function until I get some of it done. This new list makes it easy for me to have fun on a whim without scouring every webpage on my master list.

Monday special events for Mondays. If you're looking for something to do, check out the "Any Day" Activities or this post for fun free indoor activities.

Lawn Bowling at Wright Park 1-3
Tacoma Farmer's Market on 6th Ave. 3-7
Concerts at American Lake Park 6:30
Regal Movie for $1 10 a.m. {Go early to make sure you get decent seating! 9:40 was perfect for us}
Starplex Cinema $1 movies {and $1 hotdogs!}

Wagon Shop {at Steilacoom Museum} 2-5
Steilacoom Farmer’s Market 3-7
Steilacoom's Concert in the Park 6:30
Regal Movie for $1 10 a.m. {Go early to make sure you get decent seating! 9:40 was perfect for us}

 Tacoma Farmer's Market on Broadway 10:30-4
{You can ride the Tacoma Link Light Rail to the Farmer's Market for free - make it part of the adventure!}
Concert in the Park at Curran Apple Orchard 6:30
Tacoma Children's Museum FREE admission 10-5
Museum of Glass FREE from 5-8 on 3rd Thursday
Washington State History Museum FREE from 2-8 on 3rd Thursday
Tacoma Art Museum FREE from 5-8 on 3rd Thursday

Friday special events for Fridays. If you're looking for something to do, check out the "Any Day" Activities or this post for fun free indoor activities.

Steilacoom Historical Museum Kids Club {last Saturday only}
Wagon Shop {at Steilacoom Museum} 1-5
Lawn Bowling at Wright Park 1-3 FREE
Brown's Point Lighthouse 1-4 FREE
Tacoma Nature Center- 10-4 FREE {Discovery Pond & Trails open til dusk}
Ride the miniature steam engine in Port Orchard, donation basis, 2nd and 4th Saturdays only from 10-4
Lowes Build & Grow Events {see website for specific dates; not every Saturday}
Michael's Make it Take it Events {see website for specific dates; not every Saturday}

Any Day*
Tacoma Nature Center FREE 8-5 {Discovery Pond & Trails open til dusk}
Lott Wet Science Center 10-4 FREE
Pick blueberries at the Blueberry Park for FREE
Visit a Sprayground
Ride the ferry out to Anderson Island, $4.70 for adults, $3.40 for kids 5 and up {I know this isn't very close to free, but I really want to do this one so I'm adding it to the list}
Ride the Tacoma Link Light Rail to downtown Tacoma FREE
Tacoma Union Station FREE weekdays 8-5
West Hylebos Wetlands dawn to dusk {don't forget to download your scavenger hunt!}
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge sunrise to sunset
Art in the Park
Hike/walk the scavenger hunt anyone?
Visit a local beach or pier
Take a walk around Chambers Bay {a little history anyone?}
Go to the library!
Starplex Cinema $2 movies {and $1 hotdogs}
Bowl for FREE 8-6 {must pay for shoe rental $2.50 each}

*Please note that activities listed under "Any Day" may have special hours or be closed on Sundays. Our family uses Sundays as a day for worship and family activities at home so I didn't list special Sunday hours. Individual websites contain any additional information you may need, including directions and contact information.

Where are some of your favorite places to go in the summertime? Any local hidden treasures? I'm sure I've missed tons of fun places to go and things to do. Please share!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Fun on the Cheap

I don't think you have to spend an arm and a leg to have a good time, although sometimes spending an arm OR a leg is okay. But never both. Today I feel like keeping all of my apendages, so here's a list of things we plan to do this summer. Don't mock me - we still have a month of summer left! {To see one of the reasons we are getting a late start on summer activities, check out this post about how we've been spending our Saturdays} And in my defense, it should be known that we have already done many fun things - some on  the list, and some just lazing around enjoying family and friends at the pool or elsewhere.

Almost all of these activities are free. I have tried to list any costs that I know of so you can easily browse what will fit your budget for the day.
Some of these ideas came from the Parks and Recreation, friends at church, the library, and a local MOPS group so make sure you check out your local sources for some great ideas! For more ideas, check out my rainy day list - a lot of these would be great during the summer as well.

What are you doing this summer? Did I miss anything fun and free {or cheap}? Please share!

I was not paid or perked to mention any of these businesses or services. I just find them to be helpful in having a fun and safe summer and hope you will, too!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Silver Screen Performances

Today happens to be Lucille Ball's 100th birthday {that is if she were still alive}, but you probably already know that since you're on the Internet - it's everywhere! My six year old Camille wanted me to call Lucy and wish her a happy birthday. Since that's not possible, we'll just post it here: Happy Birthday Lucy!

Lucille Ball has many funny quotes and even more funny video clips, but I am loving this quote: "Ability is of little account without opportunity."  I don't know about the abilities I had prior to my opportunities, but I am grateful for the many opportunities in my life that have strengthened my abilities.

One of our most recent opportunities includes the stage.  That's actually why it's been so long since I've posted. We have been performing as a family! Not for the silver screen, but in a local Broadway Revue sponsored by our church. Today is our last day of performances and it's a little bittersweet. We have had so much fun doing this as a family, and it's been wonderful to see the kids' talents improve. We started by dragging Tate to rehearsals and are finishing by dragging him away from our living room stage where he is practicing to be an understudy for the two lead male roles {he's only about 10 years too young for the parts, but that's ok!} Even baby Joseph has been practicing - whenever the music comes on he bounces his knees and sings along. If I can ever figure out how to edit and post video I'll add our stage baby's performance. Pictures, however, I can do.

 My Wells Fargo Wagon family {Cody aka Wintrhop was a delightful add on}. At home, "Trouble" was the most quoted musical number from the show. It definitely lightens the mood when someone is being scolded and they throw their arms up in the air while singing, "Oh we've got trouble!"

 I found a guard and some cute street children in Aladdin's marketplace. My niece Brooke gave me two thumbs up, but when I asked her to give me a street pose she gave me the following:
 Perhaps I should have said, "Marketplace pose."

 Tradition! Fiddler on the Roof required that we always have our heads covered.

 This is what you get when you ask a bunch of cute kids to give you their best Lion King pose.
There Ain't Nothin Like a Dame...or my husband in a grass skirt!
The summer is nearly over and we are excited to finally be able to enjoy some weekends the stage! We hope to go to the beach and take a couple mini road trips around Washington. We're especially looking forward to our annual fruit trip. So until then, the show must go on!

What have you been doing as a family this summer? Ever been on stage? Ever wanted to?...because that can be arranged!