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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keswick Forest

We continue to LOVE our new house and neighborhood!!!  We really lucked out in the neighborhood department.  It's almost like there was a screening process--younger families with kids.  I love turning into our neighborhood, and I especially love hitting the cul-de-sac because I love the houses Focal Point built.  These are pictures from our first real snow--it was really pretty!  It was also gone in about 24 hours--I sure love Virginia for this reason ;)
Our neighbors are awesome!  Our whole family benefits in different ways.  I have made a few really good girlfriends with some of the other stay at home moms.  I didn't realize what a nice perk this was until I had it!  Our neighbors were nice enough in our old neighborhood, but we didn't really know each other past a wave-and-say-hello-when-outside level.  We have socialized with three different families other than hanging out outside while our kids are playing, and I LOVE that!  How convenient to just walk down the street to have dinner together or enjoy a fall fire on the deck???  Jackson LOVES having so many friends to play with!  There is a wonderful mixture of babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, elementary-agers, and middle-schoolers.  He gets so excited when he sees other kids playing outside--I love watching him hurry to put on his shoes and jacket to go play with his friends :)  The pictures below are of Jackson and Avery (she lives two houses down and is in Kindergarten) playing outside last week :)
This picture was taken in Hallie's backyard (they are three houses down, and she has Izzy who is 4 and Mary who is 2 1/2).  Toni is on the right and lives next door to Hallie--she is in 3rd grade and SO sweet!  She just loves Jackson and he loves her back :)
We have done a few Date Night swaps, during the day childcare swaps when someone has an appointment, and I have been lucky enough to have neighbors keep Jackson while we go to our doctor's appointments!  The day of our housewarming party, Aimee (across the street-ish) called and asked if she could borrow some paprika.  I was THRILLED!  I loved that she was asking to borrow something, because that meant, most likely, she would be willing to lend me something when needed!  It sounds silly, but if you are out of ONE thing, it is so much easier to have a nice neighbor to borrow from than to load your toddler up in the car and run out for one thing! A few of us have continued to borrow things, exchange recipes, share baked goods, and just hang out :)

Last week Aimee (she lives across the street from us) hosted a Yay! We Made it Through the Holidays Luncheon!  It was SO fun, and such a nice treat during the week to visit with friends.  She made a delicious lunch consisting of top-your-own salad, bread with a delicious dipping sauce, and a pear bread topped with strawberries, kiwi, and greek yogurt.  The recipes are listed below:

Dijon Apple Salad

mix well and chill:
1/2 c canola oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
4 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp minced red onion
1 Tbsp dijon mustard

1 head grean leaf lettuce
1 head red leaf lettuce
1 c craisins
1/2 c feta cheese
1/4 toasted pinenuts (in pan or under broil - watch carefully)
1 large apple (I used gala) chopped

Bread Dipping Blend
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parlsey
1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper (fresh ground is best)
½ tsp minced fresh rosemary
½ tsp ground sea salt or kosher salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. Combine all the ingredients, except oil and lemon juice in a small
food processor or coffee bean grinder. Chop briefly until all
ingredients are about the same size.
2. Stir in oil and lemon juice.
3. To serve, combine about 1 teaspoon blend to 3 or 4 tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil on a small dish. Dip sliced bread in mixture.

Makes about ¼ cup blend
I often add fresh Italian parsley

Pear Bread with Topping

2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
(the original recipe calls for 1 tsp fresh ground ginger, but I didn't add that)
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional, I don't usually add them)
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup plain yogurt (I used plain, non-fat Greek yogurt)
1 egg (or 1/4 c liquid egg substitute)
1/2 c pear, peeled and finely diced (I grate the pear) --about 3-4 pears

Preheat oven to 400 degrees for muffins and 350 degrees for a loaf. Mix all
ingredients, just until moistened. Spoon batter either into 1 loaf pan or into 1
muffin pan. Top batter with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. Bake muffins
for 20 min, and a loaf pan for 40-45 min, or until loaf or muffin springs back when
touched lightly in the center. Remove from pan immediately. Place on a wire
rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Topping for Pear Loaf:
Chop and Mix:
strawberries (about 1 - 2 cups)
kiwi (2-4)
mix in a few tablespoons of:
sugar, OR orange juice concentrate OR Jam (like strawberry, raspberry, peach,
orange marmalade. I used peach jam)

Top with vanilla yogurt (I used Greek)

This was ALL SOOO tasty! I think I could eat it every day...

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