Midwest Cowboy Caviar

So I’ve been determined to add some new recipes into our meal rotations lately.  One of the things I’ve seen a few times in the blogsphere is a Meatless Monday trend. We almost always have recipes that include a meat of some kind, so I liked this idea as a way to force me to try some new recipes. A friend recently posted a picture of her lunch with something that looked like the Texas Cavier I’ve had at parties, and I started craving a hearty salsa-type dip.  I looked around for a bit at some recipes, but wasn’t sure I’d find the black-eyed peas they all called for. I always have pinto and black beans in the pantry, though, so I settled on this recipe.

Midwest Cowboy Cavier with avocado and chips


In total transparency, Jeremy actually made this for dinner while Lo and I were at swim lessons.  We left out the chilis and corn (oops, forgot to buy some) and added a bunch of extra garlic.  The results were good, but too sweet for our tastes (probably because we didn’t have the extra peppers to balance it out.)  A few more additions and revisions, and my leftovers today were absolutely delicious.  Below is my best guess at the final recipe (and how we’ll likely make it next time.)  Note- this makes a ton of food.  I bet it was closet to 10 cups of dip.  Halving the recipe is probably a good idea unless you’re making it for a party!



2 cans (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cans (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained

2 bell peppers (any color), chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pint grape tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1/4 C olive oil

2-3 TBL minced garlic

1/3 C lime juice

1 TBL garlic salt

1 tsp ground black pepper



1. Mix together beans, peppers, onion, tomatoes, cilantro and minced garlic.

2. In separate small bowl, mix together EVOO, lime juice, garlic salt, and pepper.  Pour over bean mix and stir well, evenly coating everything.

3. Can be eaten immediately, but tastes better if it sits for a few hours (or overnight) to blend flavors.  Serve with avocado and/or tortilla chips.


Lo’s Quiet Book

I’ve recently become obsessed with wanting to make Lo a quiet book.  It started when a friend showed me the one that her mom made for her son (who is the same age as Lorelei.)  Flipping through the photos of the pages brought back all these memories of playing with one myself. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Quiet Books are fabric activity books, usually make out of felt; they have different pages that help children learn a different skill. The one page that seems to remind everyone of the books is the shoe tying page, like this:

I love the idea of giving Lo something that she can grow into; I’m planning to make the most basic pages first- both for my skill level and for her ease of use and then adding more challenging pages as I make them.  I originally considered buying one (there are a bunch of options on Etsy but they’re way too expensive), because I know they can be a lot of work, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist with this crafting thing.  But ultimately I decided that it would be a fun challenge for me, and a way to learn all sorts of new sewing skills.  I also really like the idea of giving her something homemade, even if it doesn’t end up perfect.  So I scoured blogs and websites and etsy for ideas.  I pinned a whole bunch of ideas, and eventually settled on the following list.  The pages are listed in the order I plan to make them.  I’ll make sure to update as pages are completed; I’m hoping to have most, if not all, done by Lo’s birthday in August.

Stop Light (velcro on each color)

Marble Maze (sewn in design)

Name Page (snaps on each letter)

Gumball Machine (buttons on each one; color matching)

Dog & Collar (practice buckles; different textures on dog)

Mr. Potato Head (felt face pieces/clothes with a zipper suitcase)

Sock Matching (magnets; pattern matching)

Tennis Shoe (lace tying)

Cupcakes in a Tin (counting practice)

Mailbox & Letters (family members- faces and names?)

Garden (veggies in dirt pockets.)

Do you remember having a quiet book as a kid? What were your favorite pages?


Goals for this year.  I don’t like the word “resolution” because it just has all sorts of expectations and connotations (like, doomed to fail.)  So a few goals I have for this upcoming year.

*Blog more.  Looking back on 2013, I’m sad I don’t have more documented about Lo’s first year with us.  Thankfully, I still have a ridiculous number of photographic memories (including on Instagram) but there were so many fun stories I should’ve written down.  This is a balance for me, though, because I don’t want to be that mom that says “wait! I need to record this!” instead of just living in the moment.  I don’t want this blog to be a chore. But I do want to jot down the awesome/hilarious/weird stuff my kid does.  I’m going to try and embrace the short posts too.

*Be more financially comfortable.  So, we’ve got a few things going on right now. We moved, currently renting a duplex (thankfully, rent is very affordable in Central WI), both Jeremy and I started new jobs, Lo’s at my mom’s daycare for now, commuting 75 miles roundtrip every day, and oh. still own a house in MN. (yeah. about that. the last sale fell through. new offers on the table, but there’s still drama. more on that later.)  So. I want to use this sort of restart to really lock down on our spending and saving.  For a few weeks, we were going on one income, which forced us to be very careful with money.  Now that Jeremy has a fulltime job here, too, we’ve been more lax.  But looking back on how not uncomfortable it was to restrict the budget, I think we can really do that now.  I’d love to have all our debts paid off within a few years, including student loans.  It’s a hefty goal, but one I think we can manage.

*Sell house. Buy new one.  This will probably be the hardest to accomplish, since it’s kind of out of our control.  We have had quite a bit of interest, and we have a few offers on the table as of today.  The one we originally pursued is now in limbo because the buyer’s wife is in the hospital.  We’ll see what happens in a day, otherwise move onto the next one.  Once the house closes, we’ll look at buying a new one here where we work. It’ll be fantastic to cut out the 45 minute commute each way and we’ve found some houses here that are really nice, with good yards and room to grow.

*Stay Healthy: we’ve started to really keep to the gluten-free diet, and have been buying lots of fresh, whole foods. We’ve mostly stuck to a meal plan for the last few weeks, and I think we all feel so much better for it.  I started looking for a new CSA today, too, and I’m quite excited to have local fresh produce again.  We also recently joined the YMCA in hopes of starting swim lessons for the kid, and I plan on checking out some group classes they have too.

*Explore more:  now that we no longer live in the Twin Cities, I think we missed out on some of the awesome stuff they had to offer.  I want to make sure we find all the awesome little stuff in Wisconsin.  I’d love to plan short day trips once it’s nice out again. It’s a little hard to get away in the summer, thanks to my job schedule, but I’m already starting a list of the stuff I want to do around the area.  Bonus points for free activities 🙂 Thankfully there are lots of county parks and outdoorsy places here.

Updates. and lots of them.

Oh, look at that. I’ve been completely absent again… for awhile it was because there was nothing new or exciting going on, then because work was insanity.  And the last month or so? Because life has been absolute craziness.  I realized last night, while lying in bed desperately trying to sleep, that I miss writing.  I think I like the little break of zoning out and doing a little reflecting.  So I’m going to try and keep up with this a little more as our life takes on a new chapter.

What chapter is that? We’re moving!  Jeremy and I have been talking about wanting to get out of the city and back to WI for awhile.  Mostly in the “what if” stage, but kind of keeping an eye open for jobs there. We went back to WI to visit my family and stopped in a nearby town to watch my brother play baseball.  I made an off-hand comment that I’d love to work there someday.  When we got back to my mom’s house, she noticed they were hiring a conference coordinator.  Even though I’m not one to really believe in fate and all that, it was kind of hard to ignore that sign.  I applied, interviewed, and eventually accepted a job offer!  We put our house on the market, thinking it would take a few weeks/months to sell…. we had an accepted offer in 48 hours, with a 30 day closing.  another sign that we couldn’t really ignore.

So that’s where we’re at today.  My last day at Minnesota was a few days ago, and I start at the new school on Monday.  We’re not sure where we’ll be living come December 13th, but I’m really hoping something pulls through for a rental.  Lorelei and I will be moving this weekend and staying with my mom until we close on the house here.  Then, hopefully Jeremy has a job and we have a house lined up in the next 3 weeks 😉  I’m a planner to the extreme, so this whole ‘it will work out’ mentality is really a stretch for me. But, somehow, I know it will.

Wanna break a world record?

Check out this fun chance to break a world record! I so wish we could be there, but we’ll be on a plane to Florida!

BUT if you’ve got a baby in diapers, you should totally do this.  Even if you don’t currently use cloth diapers, you can sign up and they’ll give you one to use for the event. Plus it sounds like they have a ton of awesome giveaways at this location! If you go, let me know how much fun it is 🙂

On Saturday, April 20th, join All Things Diapers and the Minnesota Cloth Diapering Mommies for the 2013 Great Cloth Diaper Change. There will be demos and activities, plus freebies and drawings! Both the GCDC and Expo are FREE to attend!The Expo is from 9:00 – 12:00. The Diaper Change is at 11:00 sharp.Join us and be part of a Guinness Book Record!You can get more info on our website:www.allthingsdiapers.com

The dedicated FB page: https://www/facebook.com/MNGCDC

Sign up at: http://www.allthingsdiapers.com/Allthingsdiapers/MN_Great_Cloth_Diaper_Change.html