Thursday, July 10, 2014

Delicious & Easy Pulled Pork

Having been married to a Tennessee boy for almost 7 years (next Monday!), learning how to make a good pulled pork has been essential.  I'm not gonna lie -- I enjoy it too!  I recently learned that I have an "allergy" to beef (this has flabbergasted me!), so I've been pulling together all my non-beef recipes I have to make sure good protein recipes are in the rotation.  This is definitely one of our favorites and I give ALL credit for the delicious dry rub mixture from Kevin & Amanda's Perfect Pulled Pork recipe.

Delicious & Easy Pulled Pork

Ingredients:
4-7lb Boston Butt OR Pork Shoulder Roast (with OR without bones is fine)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar (optional)

Mix the dry rub all together in a small bowl, rub it generously all over the pork shoulder/boston butt, even into the creases. Any dry rub that is left over can be used to season the pork after it's cooked.

After you massage in the dry rub, refrigerate the pork for 4 hours up to overnight.  (Sometimes when I am in a hurry I skip this! Still turns out fine!)

Then, toss pork with the layer of fat on TOP in the slow-cooker on high for 8 hours.  After 8 hours, shred with two forks, and if necessary, add more of the remaining dry rub to season.  Used reserved juices to moisten the meat.  

Enjoy!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer, blessed summer!

I have been in the Sunny Sunshine State for almost 13 years now...and have spent most of my summers since 2001 down here, trying to duck the late afternoon thunderstorms that are so characteristic of Florida.  When I was in college & grad school, summer didn't mean much to me here because it was just hot, hot, hot and I was either working or in classes in the cool A/C.  When we got married, I was unemployed for a time and so summer meant sort of sitting on my bum watching ridiculous videos on YouTube, scanning website for meal planning ideas, and trying to figure out how to make an errand to the grocery store seem exciting (time for a new spice, alright!! this pyrex glass container is on clearance? score!)

Once we had kids, though, summers in Florida were somewhat like torture.  All things in good time, I know, and Florida has the benefit of having extremely mild winters and I live for the days between November and April. They are mostly pure bliss, whereas I know the rest of the country is bunkering up for the umpteenth snow storm (been there, done that -- did I mention I grew up in Minnesota? I get it, and I survived, and I thought no different of myself until I started living down here).

Why were summers in FL torture? When your friends anywhere north of the Florida-Georgia line (with windows down and cruisin', no doubt) think of summer they think of being outside all day, running through the sprinklers, playing in the kiddie pool, running inside for Kool-Aid and then running back outside to play some more.  That is just not quite as...easy here.  It's hot. It's HUMID. And it might be raining.  And I don't have a backyard pool (which is totally okay).  So instead we try to find fun "indoor" activities that don't involve 17 episodes of Angelina Ballerina on repeat.  I, again, try to find the fun in running errands to the dry cleaners or Target (ooh, I wonder what's marked down on clearance this time...will it be burt's bees chapstick or 77 packages of applesauce?! Excitement pours out of my skin like delicate ladylike perspiration).  It's a season, and this too passes.



Summers back then were for shopping, learning electric guitar, extra trips to the library for impending early childhood literacy, and staying cool at the splash pad at Busch Gardens at all costs. (Photos courtesy of summer 2011).

However, this year, we've hit a milestone.  A major milestone. For one, both my children are mobile. Obviously this has been the norm for Mia for quite some time, and Gabe was mobile last summer too, but this year he's really mobile and more self-sufficient and not every outing requires a huge diaper bag and major ensemble this year.  I am actually using a cross-body bag/purse for most outings instead of a backpack or weighed-down shoulder bag, and I am loving this freedom.

pool, jump, repeat
Secondly, both of my kids took swimming lessons this spring for 6 weeks, and Mia is doing pretty well, and Gabe has gotten way more comfortable with getting in the water (he's an "earth" boy--I think he'll be happy around trees & mountains someday as opposed to the water), and he's good with having a puddle jumper on.

Thirdly, thanks to Stroller Strides, we have now found a little community within our community of mamas & friends who have access to our very wonderful neighborhood pool & splash pad, so we have pool parties like once a week.  Guests can come too, and we often invite non-residents, even though they have to pay a tiny fee to get in with us.  (We're talking like $5.)

And since my kids are more comfortable in the pool, not to the point where I'm not keeping an eye on them, but to the point that I can actually look at another person in the eye besides my own child, these outings to the pool are actually fun instead of stress-inducing!  It's taken 5 summers to get to this point but sometimes you have to know where you've been to fully appreciate where you are!

So I am going to enjoy my summer to the fullest and oh, wait, mail's here, hold on a second...


Lands' End, what have you done?!  Are you trying to murder my joy? My summer sunshine? It is not time to hit the books, my friends.  Yes, we are trying to retain some of Mia's PreK knowledge but no, no, no, it is not time for backpacks.  It's not time for freshly sharpened pencils, as perfect and delicious as they are. It's time for summer. Last time I checked July 4 was three days ago, when we were covering our ears from the sonic booms of our neighborhood fireworks and eating watermelon and smelling like mango because somehow my organic sunscreen is scented as such (from the essence of pure organic mangos, no doubt).  IT'S SUMMER.

Give me a few more weeks of my freedom. Sure, go on, do what you need to do to "survive as a business," and send thousands of moms into a frenzy that their child will not have the perfect monogrammed backpack this year, but please, please, let me have my July.  IT'S JULY.  Summer officially started 'bout 2 weeks ago.  You can call me August 1. I won't answer. So you can leave a message with full details about what I need to buy, and then I will. Probably from Target.  Which I hear has already proclaimed their back-to-school madness as well. Angry tears.  Minneapolis, you're getting a call from me.  Regardless.  I will enjoy my family and this time, in the words of Olaf, in SUMMERRRRRRRR!!!!!
I'll be a happy [mom] in SUMMERRRRRR!!
photo credit: http://bit.ly/1oC1NqV


PS: You know I love Lands' End. I practically grew up in about half their catalogue. I'm surprised my mom isn't somehow on the board of directors. She might be indirectly responsible for their success. So this playful tongue-in-cheek diatribe really hopefully doesn't come as a slight to them, because I heart what they do, just...not yet.  Said in love lest some Lands' End social media person thinks I'm trying to take them down, because, I'm not.

PPS: Now go on and enjoy your summer like you should!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Milestones


Yesterday Mia turned 5. Half a decade we've experienced with that little girl and I can't imagine what the next 5 years will feel like. Birthdays are awesome and this week has been a big week for our kids as they've moved into the same room and are now bunking up (!) and the cherry on top was Mia's super fun pool party with her little girlfriends and family :D
bunk beds!! *exact arrangement TBD*

In honor of Mia's 5th birthday, I wanted to share 5 funny Mia videos:

5.
Mia the performer, Gabe the DJ from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.

4.
Mia eats fries from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.

3.
Mia & the Bible from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.
(She sounds just like Becky Cawthon, who was her bible class teacher at the time!)

2.
Mia & Braden drive from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.

1. Might want to get the tissues ready...

Mia's First Year from Megan Ciampa on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Great Purge

Fun and messy may be two of my tag words, but I'm slowly working on eradicating "messy" from my life...
Maybe I should be realistic and realize it's not my strong suit, but hey, we are having a good time today in the pursuit of the PURGE and I'm getting excited about getting rid of STUFF.  Too much stuff = too much brain clutter = not good times for anyone.

The hard part is the emotional attachment to some of these items. Not my clothes, really, at all, but things related to my children? Absolutely. I remember from whom the toys or gifts were received, or why I bought that for them, or what purpose I believed it would be used...and now we don't want it anymore? How could that be? Well, I am allowing myself to believe that they have served their purposes in our home, and now they can be a blessing in someone else's, perhaps!

The hardest gut-wrenching one is listing my Petunia Pickle Bottom boxy backpack...it's been a great bag to have, but the truth is, it's been collecting dust on my bedroom floor for the last several months! I've been jutting around with just my favorite BIG purses the last couple of months now that Gabe is definitely out of baby-land, and I want to sell my PPB before it's truly past its prime.  
Grandparents and loyal friends may be wondering...WILL YOU EVER NEED ANOTHER DIAPER BAG? I'm not ruling it out! But I'm also giving myself the opportunity to get a new one, if I need one! Shopping's half the fun of a new kid, right?  

If you are interested in shopping my closet, here's the link to my Facebook sale!


And here's my Petunia Pickle Bottom boxy backpack...you know you want it!

$60 or best offer and she could be yours!!



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Oh, hi there!


Oh, hi!

It feels like it's been ages, because in a way, it has. Have I fallen out of love with blogging?  Not necessarily -- the wheels still are turning up in this brain.  I think, however, as the kids get older, I'm feeling more a sense of security & privacy, and not necessarily wanting to blast "everything" (not that I blasted all information before, but it was certainly more forthcoming).  

And I know like some other bloggers out there, the shift is focusing away from blogging and more to a social media presence. Well, I have my Instagram community and I'm happy with that, and occasionally I share things on Facebook or Twitter, but it's not like it was before.  I do miss the practice of blogging though ... what about you??

Energy Profiling

In other news, my new latest obsession is called Energy Profiling, also known as a program called "Dressing Your Truth." At first I was a bit skeptical of the title -- what does dressing my truth mean? As it turns out, it means dressing in a way that best supports your natural energy. You probably know everyone around you carries a different energy or mood. Some are more laid-back, some are high-energy, some are very constant and still, and some are intense, maybe even pushy.  Sometimes these energies can get a bad rap, because from our particular vantage point, they do not make sense to us. And vice versa. Our natural energy can be misunderstood by those around us because they may not share in it themselves, or because culturally there's a "best, better, good" sort of assumption about how a good person should act!  
Well, energy profiling has taken all those assumptions, labels, and energies, and found a nice way to categorize and help people identify their type.  After much video-watching on their website and blog, I've determined I'm a type 1.  Bright, animated, buoyant, random, light, airy, social, likes to have fun. And not so much serious.  (And finally, that's not a bad thing!!)  I think my secondary may be type 3, or type 2, and my last is type 4.  Coincidentally, my BFF is a type 4, and what do they say? Opposites attract? We certainly balance each other out :) In the end, when you know type energy profile/"truth," you can dress in a way that harmonizes with who you really are, so how you look on the outside is just a natural reflection of who you are on the inside.  It all gels.   


Are you interested?  It really piqued my interest, but I have always been interested in human nature and how people interact with one another and how best to incorporate these personalities -- probably why I majored in psychology and wanted a job where I worked with others.  Even more so now that I have two different personalities in my children!  I can share more about that in a future post, as well as my opinion on Greg's energy profile too.  

Any ideas your energy profile? Have you ever investigated this?