Thursday, November 20, 2014

Week in the Life

I recently completed my fourth Week in the Life photo journaling experience. My intention is for the project to be a in-depth look at our lives for one week. Seeing how our lives change year-to-year as the kids grow older is really rewarding to me.

Traditionally, I have done the project as an 8.5X11 size. All four years fit in one album and I love being able to flip through all the stories in one album. The kids get a kick out of it too.
This year, Ali offered a kit where your project would be housed in a separate album. Seeing her work-in-progress makes me wish I had gone that route. But, from experience, I know that I can complete this project because I keep it simple.  I ended up using an older template for the base that I purchased before her 8.5X11 option was available. You can see 2010/2013 pages here and my 2012 pages here

Though this is an activity you could do on your own at any time, I prefer to do it with a virtual support group. So, I've followed Ali Edward's dates (which is why I skipped 2011 when we were on vacation). I didn't realize that this year would fall on an incredibly busy work week for me. At the end of the week, I had only a fraction of the number of photos that I would typically take during a single day of this project. But, I made it work - mixing photos from different days to still tell the story of our week.

I kept embellishments minimal this year. On the left is what my image looks like printed.  On the right is a (not well lighted) photo of what the finished page looks like. I added one to two embellishments per daily spread. 




With the white background, the pages look a little off center, but in the album, they look great.


I added numbers to the kids photos to reflect their current age. Charlie refused to get a haircut during soccer season, so he's a bit shaggier than usual.





Friday was Halloween. This was such a crazy year, I didn't even get a single group shot of the kids in costumes.


Less photos and journaling than I had planned for the week, but I'm still happy with what I pulled together.









Friday, November 07, 2014

Let's Eat!




One of the goals I have set for myself is to come up with 52 go-to family recipes.  Do tacos count as a
go-to recipe? If so, I have one recipe.
With school & kids activities in full swing, it was time to start trying some new recipes again. I used the crock pot quite a bit in September, but I still prefer soups in the crockpot to meat dishes.
I promise meal time wasn't as boring at this calendar looks.
I started the Whole Life Challenge mid-month. Many of the dishes are compatible with that challenge.

Here's the family review:

7. The pork carnitas were a pre-made package from Target. They weren't that good. It only served 4 so I threw some shrimp in the pan & they seasoned up nicely. I will try to make some homemade pork carnitas another night (we had this before the challenge so I did not check if it is WLC compatible (but probably not)).

9. I used the Archer's Farm pre-made pizza crusts, Trader Joe's sauce & finely shredded organic cheese. Finely shredded cheese seems to be the key to good homemade pizza.  This was enough to feed me & the twins (not WLC compatible).

10. Balsamic Chicken - one of Nick's favorite dishes. I served this over polenta. Family could have done without the polenta.

11. Italian Beef Stew - the kids really liked this one. I served this over spaghetti squash. Leftovers were served over noodles.

12. Honey Chicken - not bad, but not fabulous. I will probably make this one again (maybe stove top instead of crock pot)(not WLC compatible).

13. We had a Groupon for this meat. The burgers were really good (as were the steaks when we made them).

14. Lazy Lasagna Chili - Nick even commented how the kitchen smelled like lasagna when I was cooking this recipe. I let it simmer for about an hour & so I had to add more water. No surprise that everyone loved this recipe. But, at over 500 calories for a 1 cup serving, it's one I will have ready for Nick on Sunday's when I travel. This comfort food is hard to resist (not WLC compatible)!

17.  Tortilla Soup - everyone loved this. It's a little twist on a recipe I've made before. I forgot the cilantro, but it was still flavorful (not WLC compatible).

21. Watermelon Pico De Gallo - this is so good! I took it with chips to a party, but used it over fish later in the week.

23. Chicken & Rice - this dried out, but the flavors were great (I will dice the mushrooms next time because the kids don't like them). It reminds me of those casserole dishes with a can of cream of mushroom soup (without the can).

24. Chicken & Spinach Burgers - These were pretty good, but they took forever to make. One pound would not be enough to feed our family of 5 (though the kids are small burgers). It was enough to feed everyone but Nick. The onions were amazing.


25. Pork Stew - everyone liked this. It will be great for cold days.

27. Spaghetti Squash & Sausage - The kids loved this one.

28. Skirt steak. I made 4 pounds which was enough for dinner (3 HUNGRY kids, 2 adults and then 3-4 generous adult lunches).

29. Black Bean & Corn Salsa Chicken - I made my own taco seasoning for this recipe rather than using the tasty pre-packaged stuff that is full of additives & flavor enhancers.  The kids ate these in tortillas or taco shells. I ate it plain with avocado.





Thursday, November 06, 2014

Kyoto Bamboo Groves

We had fun playing with a wide angle lens in the Bamboo Forest outside the temple grounds in Kyoto. The forest was smaller than I anticipated, and it was strange that cars could drive this road (which is heavily occupied by tourists). I would guess we spent about 30 minutes wandering the road before moving on.
Bamboo Groves
Bamboo Groves
Bamboo Groves
Bamboo Groves
Bamboo Groves
Bamboo Groves
Bamboo Groves
Bamboo Groves

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Kyoto - Arashiyama


Ryōan-ji
On second day in Kyoto we headed to the Arashiyama district. Our first stop was the Ryoan-ji temple and its famous rock garden. We arrived early and enjoyed a quiet visit. But, we made a decision to stay until 9 am when the temple stamp shop opened. 
Kinkaku-ji
Our second stop was the beautiful Kinka-kuji temple. I think we took a bus between the temples. By the time we arrived, we were with the crowds.
Kinkaku-ji
You can't go inside the temple, but the grounds are pretty.
Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji
At this point, we took a taxi to Arashiyama. It was more expensive, but much faster than transferring through public transportation.
Monkey Park Iwatayama
We headed straight to the Iwayayama Monkey Park. It was quite a hike to the top.
Monkey Park Iwatayama
But, it was worth it!
Monkey Park Iwatayama
You get up close & personal with the monkeys. If you want to feed them, you go inside & offer the food through a screen.
Monkey Park Iwatayama
We knew these pictures would be a hit with the kids.
Monkey Park Iwatayama
It was a little hazy, but we had a neat view of the city.
Arashiyama
After our visit, we enjoyed a nice lunch on the water. We contemplated renting bikes, but it was just so crowded that we decided just to walk.
Tenryuji
Next up, Tenryuji temple.
Tenryuji
I loved the gardens here.
Tenryuji
Tenryuji
After walking the temple grounds, we enjoyed the Bamboo Forest (pictures to follow). It was starting to rain, so we caught a bus to see one last temple.
Arashiyama
This was off the beaten path and we had the place to ourselves. We loved the peace & quiet!
The statutes at Otagi Nenbutsuji were added in the 1980s, but we still enjoyed the grounds. After this visit, we took a bus back to town and then took the train back to our hotel for a rest before dinner.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Kyoto Day 1

Nishiki Market
Upon arrival in Kyoto, we walked to the Nishiki Market. I'm glad we did because it ended up being the only time we were in the market during our stay.
Nishiki Market
It reminded me a little of Chelsea Market in New York - except instead of restaurants, it had little food shops.
Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market
This is what we ate for lunch. It was a potato and onion filled pastry.
Nishiki Market
I also tried this - a quail egg within an octopus - Nick was too scared. It wasn't my favorite, but I'm glad I tried it.
Kyoto, Japan
After the market, we started walking through the town. I didn't do my research & was expecting a quaint town. But, Kyoto is huge - several million residents.
Kyoto, Japan
There are still parts that have an old time feel.
Kyoto, Japan
We discovered that Nick's GPS on his phone wasn't working and was taking us in all sorts of wrong directions. But, we finally stumbled on a shrine and we were able to get our bearings.
Kyoto, Japan
The Yasaka Shrine is large but I didn't really connect with this shrine. 
Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto, Japan
For some reason, I don't think this was how the Shrine grounds originally looked.
Kyoto, Japan
There are thousands of shrines and temples in Kyoto. The town was not impacted by the big earthquake that affected Tokyo.
Kyoto, Japan
We had a little time before our tea ceremony so we tried, without luck, to find a place to get a drink.
Tea Ceremony
I was surprised to learn that traditional tea ceremonies are not practiced widely in Japan. 
Our lovely hostess walked us through the ceremony and then helped us do it as well. The hardest part was sitting our legs. We walked A LOT & those dogs were tired! I'm looking forward to some matcha tea as the days start getting colder. 
Kyoto
We walked home with the Gion area of town and stopped at a restaurant near Nishiki Market called Gyogo. 
We had the most amazing burnt ramen miso. We are still trying to find a recipe so we can try to duplicate it at home. It was a great first day!