Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another year older

Pin It Now! It’s amazing what can happen in 12 months.  This time last year I was panicked I’d have to reschedule my birthday night because of the bipolar Colorado snowstorm that hit.  Luckily just as suddenly as the storm came it went, and my birthday was a total blast.  All because of these girls:

And these guys:

And this guy:

There was cake, booty shakin' and martinis galore.  Most everyone survived.  Except poor Louis who got tricked into too many shots.  Not sure his stomach ever forgave him. 

 It was my favorite and best brithday ever.  This year is different for many obvious reasons.  No booze for one, boohoo.  But for two I'm in Europe!  Which in and of itself is an incredible experience.  Just yesterday I was in Strasbourg, France with a girlfriend of mine and had a total awe inspiring, "pinch me now because I think I'm dreaming" moment.  It was simple.  Here we were, on a random Wednesday afteroon eating lunch outside at a gourmet French cafe.  Our table nestled on the cobblestone streets, was right in front of the Cathedral De Notre Dame of Strasbourg. 

We were surrounded by history, culture and absolute beauty.  I have been to Strasbourg twice before, but this visit was different.   The winter months in Germany are dark, dreary, cold and just plain depressing.  This was first warm day of the year and the entire vibe of the town was happy to finally welcome spring.  Several times throughout the day I just  How lucky am I to be able to drive an hour to France whenever I want and soak up one of Europe's quaint little towns? 

It is a dream come true to live in a place like this. 

And to have Little Wright with me makes it even more special because even if she can't remember it, she will have pictures of her cute little butt exploring European towns. 

I used to have a desktop background of Capri, Italy and would daydream about what it would be like to live there.  Or even just visit.  Living in another country and being able to experience a different culture and way of life is such an incredible experience.   Life is short.  And getting older makes you realize it.  I don't have any issues with getting older (yet) because as the months pass and a new birthday comes I like the person I am becoming even more.  Wiser.  Smarter.  Happier.

 This time last year we had no intentions or knowledge of living in Europe.  It's so neat to know how much can be changed and how much better life can get in less than a year.  I wonder where we will be for next year's birthday....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Preschool theme: Flowers and Plants

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Recently I've been browsing homeschooling websites.  These families are incredible.  Like Jolanthe at Home School Creations.  This lady is supermom.  Seriously!  I don't know how she does it.  It takes so much planning and work to create a structured learning environment at home. I never really thought about homeschooling our kids because it seems like they'd miss out on making friends and creating memories.  However from what I've been learning many homeschooling families have meetup groups and do co-learning groups a few times a week.  That and they have their kids involved in sports or other extra curricular activities.  I still don't know that homeschooling will be the route we take, but I do love learning and making it a part of our daily life.  I have totally slacked in teaching Little Wright anything structured.  She can count and spell her name and knows shapes, colors..blah blah blah.  I guess that's good.  I don't know.  I have nothing to compare it to.  But what I do know is there is so much I could be doing with her.

And so, on top of my mounting pile of supermom tasks I've decided to try monthly preschool themes.  There reallyare some wonderful sites out there and a wealth of ideas and information.  I didn't really think about teaching Little Wright math at 2 1/2, yet there are simple things to teach toddlers to build a foundation for an interest in math.  For example teaching her about volume and weight (heavy versus light) and length (short versus long) as well as counting.

Science is another subject that can easily be taught to toddlers.  Especially with the theme of plants and flowers.  We can learn that plants and flowers need water and sunlight to grow.

I found this really cute printable of a potted flower and petals.  You cut out the petals and the flower pot.  Then laminate the pieces so they last longer.  Your toddler can practice counting the dots on the petals and matching the petal to the correct number.  Keep all the pieces in an envelope and this is a fun game you can bring along on the go.

There is a second flower pot that goes up to number 10

For math we will also practice counting seeds, weighing water when we water our plants and maybe Ill get some more ideas this month to incorporate math.

I printed and laminated these sequence cards which allows toddlers to learn the process of growing a plant.  We will keep these in an envelope too.

For science I have a few more ideas we will do this month:
-Go outside and find some leaves and flower petals and laminate them
-Plant some seeds in pots
-Go to a park and identify different types of flowers
-Learn about what plants need to grow (sunlight, soil, water, etc)
-This parts of the flower printable maybe a little advanced, but I'll print it out and try it

Language Development/Reading/Writing
-Find some books about flowers/plants
-Practicing tracing the letters of the alphabet with these cards (I printed and laminated so we can use a dry erase marker to trace)

-Practice learning the days of the week with these printable flower pots (also laminated)

I'm sure I'll come up with a few more ideas and be sure to update.

-Family Hand flower
-And more ideas TBD Ill post more ideas/links as I come up with them

So at the end of the month the plan is to compile all this into what is known in the homeschool world as a "lapbook". This concept is still new to me, but basically you create a file folder and put everything from that month's theme into the lapbook.  Not only is it a portable learning folder with fun activities, but its a neat way to keep and save all the crafts.

So once the lapbook is done I'll post all links and ideas I ended up doing and hopefully someone else will find this stuff useful :)  Id love to hear ideas, tips or links if anyone else does this type of thing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Avoid "dirty" produce

Pin It Now! Research from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that people who eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables consume an average of 10 pesticides a day.

Cost seems to be the biggest issue with consumers when it comes to organic. And rightfully so. It is expensive, but like most things in life you get what you pay for. I personally look at it as an investment in my health. I’d rather give up eating out for example to afford organic food. The thought of pesticides in my body, especially with a fetus growing in me, is just repulsive. You don’t have to buy everything organic though to notice a difference in your food. Start out with what is known as the “dirty dozen”, 12 different fruits and vegetables that carry the most pesticide residue. Definitely splurge on organic for these:
Bell Pepper
Grapes (Imported)

Foods that are considered more clean and are lowest in pesticides include:
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato

Below is some information from the EWG that may further influence your decision to choose organic.

Why Should You Care About Pesticides?
The growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. Scientists now know enough about the long-term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our consumption of pesticides.

What’s the Difference?
EWG research has found that people who eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than 2 pesticides daily. The Guide helps consumers make informed choices to lower their dietary pesticide load.

Will Washing and Peeling Help?

Nearly all the studies used to create these lists assume that people rinse or peel fresh produce. Rinsing reduces but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling helps, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the skin. The best approach: eat a varied diet, rinse all produce and buy organic when possible.

How Was This Guide Developed?

EWG analysts have developed the Guide based on data from nearly 87,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce conducted between 2000 and 2007 and collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You can find a detailed description of the criteria EWG used to develop these rankings and the complete list of fruits and vegetables tested at, Reference: Pesticides in Produce. Retrieved March 4, 2010 from

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Best Enchiladas

Pin It Now! Yes you read that recipe title correct.  The best.  As good as if not better than most restaurants.  Mr. Wright said these were the best enchiladas he has ever had.  EVER.  Which means I will be happily employed and have job security for life.  WOOHOO!  Please try these and after eating them first thank Ree Drummond for the recipe and then you can thank me for taste testing the recipe and insisting you try it too.

Prep Time: 1 Hour30 MinutesCook Time: 20 MinutesDifficulty: EasyServings: 6



  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil

  • 1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour

  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Enchilada Or Red Sauce

  • 2 cups Chicken Broth

  • ½ teaspoons Salt

  • ½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper

  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro

  • _____


  • 1-½ pound Ground Beef

  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced

  • 2 cans (4 Ounce) Diced Green Chilies

  • ½ teaspoons Salt

  • _____


  • 10 whole (to 14) Corn Tortillas

  • ½ cups Canola Oil

  • _____


  • 3 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

  • ½ cups Chopped Black Olives

  • 1 cup Chopped Green Onions

  • ½ cups Chopped Cilantro

Preparation Instructions

Step #1 – The Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Step #2 – The Meat
Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Step #3 – Tortillas
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Step #4 – Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving.

Ancho Chili Chicken with Black Beans and Yellow Rice

Pin It Now! My favorite part of this recipe was the yellow rice.  I personally didn’t love the flavor of the ancho chili, but if you like a smoky pepper taste this recipe is for you. 

Recipe per Cuisine at Home:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts ( 5 oz. each)
1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon black pepper
2 dried ancho chilis, stemmed, seeded, broken into pieces
1 ½ cups tomatoes, chopped
½ cup onion, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 corn tortilla, torn
1 cup chicken broth
Salt to taste
1) Season chicken with oregano, cumin and black pepper.  Saute in 1 tablespoon oil in large sauté pan over high heat until brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.

2) Toast chilis in 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan over medium heat, 2 minutes.  Add tomatoes, ½ cup onion, garlic cloves, and tortilla; simmer 3 minutes.  Stir in broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and return chicken to pan.  Cover and cook until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 5 minutes.  Remove breasts; puree tomato mixture in a food processor or using an immersion blender. Then season with salt.  I used an immersion blender and would recommend transferring the sauce to a big pot or else it will splash everywhere!

For black beans
¼ cup onion
1 tablespoon garlic
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1) Saute ¼ cup onion and 1 tablespoon garlic in 2 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Stir in beans to heat through, then season with salt to taste. 

For the rice
¼ cup onion, minced
½ tablespoon garlic, minced
½ tablespoon turmeric
½ cup dry brown rice
 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
Salt to taste

1)      Saute onion, garlic and turmeric in oil in a saucepan over medium heat 1-2 minutes.

2)      2)  Stir in rice; cook 1 minute, then add broth and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is tender, 30 minutes.  Season with salt.

Serve beans with chicken, sauce and yellow rice.

Tip:  Read through the entire recipe before cooking.  There are a lot of steps, but it isn’t hard if you read through all the steps before cooking.  Prep all ingredients together before cooking.

Nutritional Info: Per breast with 1/4 cup sauce, 1/2 cup beans and 1/2 cup brown rice
Calories: 575 Fat: 26(saturated 4 grams) Carb: 45g Sodium: 373mg Fiber: 8g Protein: 42g Iron: 4mg

Dinosaur toddler memory game

Pin It Now! I've been wanting to make a memory card game for Little Wright for a long time.  This past week I finally had the time and energy to do it.  A few months back I found this digital scrapbooking site at The Noshery.  She was making homemade treats for Christmas and used some artwork found at

They have great artwork (for relatively cheap) that can be printed and used for your crafts.

I actually printed 8 different cards even though only two are shown.  Here's what you do:
1) I used illustrator, but you could easily create these cards in Word.  Just set up your document page as if you were creating labels.

2) To use the dinosaur images I used, click this link.  The graphics were created by Mindy Terasawa.

3) Insert the graphics into your word document (or InDesign or Illustrator) and then print. 

4) Cut out the cards and tape the front(dinosaur image) and back(the green image) together. Voila!

I started with 3 different cards at first.  Little Wright still doesn't totally get the concept of trying to match the cards.  But she does understand 'same' and 'different'.  She loves dinosaurs and carries these in her little purse.  Eventually she will get that it is a game, but the lesson she learned is recognizing and knowing the words 'same' and 'different'.


Pin It Now! Mr. Wright and I have spent countless nights discussing where in the world we think is the best place to live and raise a family.  We aren't traditional by any means and so any place ever listed on Forbes or MSN for top places to live never appeal to us.  I think we narrowed it down.  Not only to an ideal location, but an ideal life in general.  It would be a lot of risk and a lot of planning, but to us it would be the best life to live.  I feel like if you put your goals and dreams out there it is more likely to happen.  So here it is...our dream goal (with a lot of MY dreams since thisis my blog afterall):

1) Stay in Europe long enough to travel and save up money to open a Tae Kwon Do school and have enough savings to live on for at least a year.  Pay off all debt and cars.  We would get to travel for tournaments/competitions.

2) Move to Maui.  Oahu is too crowded and over priced.  Maui is still gorgeous, less expensive and less people.  In my dream I would homeschool the kids.

3)  I would have my own garden with tomatos, cucumbers, bell peppers, lemons, strawberries, herbs and a who knows what else I could end up growing. 

4) We would have a boat.  Nothing fancy, just simple. We could go fishing, spend the night on it and go to other islands..whatever we want.

5) I would teach cooking classes or get certified in pilates and teach pilates or maybe yoga.

It would be such an organic, simple life.  We would have a nice home, big enough for just our family.  And in the backyard we would have a hammock and a very inviting backyard for having friends/family over for dinner.   I love that it is less populated there.  I used to be a city girl and have totally evolved to like more land and open space.  Maui offers sunshine, beaches and great weather year round. 

Since we would have lived in Europe and seen most of that part of the world, Hawaii would be a perfect location to travel to other parts of the world such as Australia, Japan, China and other Asian countries.

It just sounds like the perfect life for us.  As it stands today that is my idea of a great life.