Thursday, September 4, 2014

KC with the Boys: Budding Piccassos!

Remember that vacation I was telling you about? ....

We got back to our boys on a Tuesday evening.  We spent some nice cuddle time with them on my brother's couch, getting caught up.  We told the boys what we did but mainly we were interested in all the fun they were having while staying with the family.  I got to hear about the county fair they went to - they bought a wrist band and got to ride several rides!

We went to bed that night with mention of something fun to do the next day but we still hadn't told them our plans. We were being all secretive and sneaky....and it was pretty fun torturing the boys. Ha!

We woke up bright and early Wednesday morning and headed back to KC - with the boys still wondering what, exactly, we were planning on doing. 

Look, boys!  We brought you to a parking garage!

The obligatory shot in front of a fountain :)

And then upstairs .....

Now play some games while you wait.... Rock, Paper, Scissors!

Wait a little bit more.....
We went to Kaleidoscope for a free art session!  You could not order tickets in advance so we wanted to be sure to get there with plenty of time to spare.  Biju and I didn't really plot out our days in KC when it was just the two of us but we had to make up an itinerary for the boys.  Everything had times attached to them so we had to be sure to get from Point A to Point B so we would have time for Point C.
Finally!  Inside for some fun!  Hallmark lets the kids make & take some fun art projects.

The most popular bit for our boys was the paint/color your own puzzle!

They decorated a square of cardboard and then cranked it through a puzzle press.

The puzzle press cut out shapes so the boys could come home later and put together their artwork!

The boys also had fun creating crowns.

Say Cheese, your Royal Highnesses!

And after all that artwork fun they decided to ride on the escalators.  I think they went up/down at least twice.
Join us again next time for our next installment of KC with the Boys: Here, fishy, fishy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: The Orange Grape Smoothie

Time for another yummy smoothie recipe!

I came up with this one while on the hunt for a smoothie that didn't need almond milk.  I had ran out and needed something for breakfast.  I had some grapes and orange juice in the fridge so I figured I could use those as my liquid base.  I looked around (of course, on Pinterest!) and combined a couple recipes to come up with this tasty drink!

The Orange Grape Smoothie

1/2 c. grapes (about 75 g.)  (I've used green, red and black grapes all at different times and all three of them taste yummy here.)
4 oz. orange juice
2 oz. coconut milk (If you don't have any on hand you can just use and additional 2oz. of OJ)
1/2 Tbs. chia seed (about 6g)
1/4 c. rolled oats (12g.) (gluten free if needed.)
1/2 c. frozen strawberries (70g)
1/2 frozen banana
1 frozen spinach cube
1/2 scoop protein powder (optional) (I've used Vanilla Spiced Chai as well as regular Vanilla, it is your choice for flavors.)

Place into a high speed blender, in order, and blend.  Or, as I usually suggest, use fresh/partially thawed ingredients if you don't have a high speed blender.

This is a great smoothie to start your day.  It has all sorts of good-for-you ingredients and it tastes delish!  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Recipe Wednesday: PBB&A Smoothie

Okay, I'm not so creative with the smoothie names.  The name doesn't really matter, does it, so long as the smoothie actually tastes good??
For a long time now I've been trying to find another smoothie to put an apple into.  This Banapple Smoothie is still quite tasty but I like to vary my breakfasts.  (Don't you?)
I hunted around on Pinterest and combined a couple of smoothie recipes plus added my own little twist.  Peanut butter tastes good with apples AND bananas so why not toss it in the blender with everything else??  (I'm guessing Almond Butter or Sunflower Butter would be just as tasty if you can't have peanuts.)
I usually add in some protein powder for a little extra vegan protein boost - your choice!

PBB&A Smoothie (Peanut Butter, Banana & Apple)

1 c. almond milk
1 apple (with peel, no core) (about 145 g.) (I use Gala)
1 frozen spinach cube 
1 frozen banana (about 126 g) (When your bananas start getting spotty, peel them, break them in half or quarters and place them into a freezer baggie, freeze.  They're now easy to grab for a smoothie.  I used to cut the bananas into slices which made them more difficult to measure out and they froze in a huge clump.  Half pieces are so much easier, if you ask me.)
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (this is what I had on hand, I'm guessing apple pie spice would taste equally yummy!)
splash of vanilla extract (about 1g)
1/2 Tbs chia seed (about 6g)
1 Tbs peanut butter (about 16g)
Half to One scoop of protein powder.  This is optional and I will use either half or a whole scoop depending on my protein/calorie needs on a given day.

Place into high speed blender and give it a whir.  Enjoy!
If you don't have a high speed blender, I suggest using fresh/partially thawed, not frozen, ingredients.

This is sooo yummy!  It is my current favorite :)  Try it and let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sight Seeing

While Biju and I were in Kansas City we headed to Union Station.  It served as a functioning train station from 1914 through 1985.  It was pretty cool to see some of the older style of architecture.

I just loved the ceiling work in there!

 We walked around a bit and enjoyed the train room.  All kinds of trains in various sizes, colors, makes, models, etc. 
See that guy on the bench to the left?  We guessed he was there meditating.  We weren't really sure what he was doing but he was there, sitting up straight, with his eyes closed the whole time we were there.  Also, there was a good handful of people there with their tennie-runners on getting some exercise over their lunch break.
We thought it was fun to walk over the traffic in the corridor that connected Union Station to the building across the street.

Not that there was really all that much traffic at that time....

While in KC Biju figured it was a must to stop and get some authentic BBQ.  The slab of ribs on the left was his lunch.  The tub-o-potato-salad on the right was mine.  It was the closest I could get to a vegetarian dish in a BBQ joint!

Then we drove back to my hometown to get our boys!  We missed them quite a bit and we could tell by their hugs and snuggles they had missed us, too.  (Even now, a month and a half later, Aren will randomly give me a hug and say "I missed you from Aunt Brandi's!")
I failed to mention previously that the first full day we were apart from the boys, Aren woke up with a fever.  :(  We were on the phone quite a bit with Brandi and Aren checking in.  He felt pretty miserable and you could hear it in his voice.  I'm not gonna lie, I teared up a few times while on the phone with him.  I knew it wasn't anything serious, though, and that he was in capable hands.  Between my mom and Brandi, they knew how to handle a sick kiddo.  By the time we got back to him and his brothers they were all in tip-top shape!
At this point in the game the boys thought we were just going to spend the rest of the week with the family.  They had no clue about the fun we had lined up for them!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Tours

While on vacation, Biju and I decided to hit up a couple of the free tours offered in Kansas City.  Since we were two adults on the town without children we chose two very adult sounding tours.  Beer and Coffee. 

I wish I could tell you how many kegs each of those silver .... thingies .... holds, but the tour was over a month and a half ago now.  See what I get for such delayed posts??  I can't even remember what the silver thingies are called, but I do know they are working to build another.  Boulevard beer seems to be quite popular!

After our tour we each got to sample two beer flavors.  Since beer is chock-full of gluten I gave my samples to Biju.  Neither one of us are big beer fans so, unfortunately, most of what was in those glasses went to waste.


This tour was a bit more interesting to us but again the free coffee sample had us both looking at each other and making faces.  Black coffee.  No thank you.  Filled with sugar and cream?  Yes please!

They passed around a bowl of "raw" beans next to some that had been roasted.  Not only could you see a difference but you could feel one, too. 

A couple of hotties with hairnets getting ready to walk around the production floor.  (Yes, it smelled wonderful in there!)
As we left we each purchased a cup of iced coffee and filled it with plenty of sugar and cream.  It tasted sooo yummy.  It was later that day I realized (rather, remembered) why I don't drink coffee on a regular basis.  While being on vacation I had coffee at least once if not twice a day (the coffee tour was the 4th day of vacation.)  Four days of coffee and my stomach was very angry with me.  I can't drink colas or my favorite Dr. Pepper on a consistently, either.  If I do, even water makes me feel sick.  Moderation is the key, folks!

If you're in the KC area, I recommend visiting either (or both!) of these locations.  I loved hearing all the information they shared even if I wasn't particularly fond of the samples ;)  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


At the end of June, Biju and I celebrated our 10th anniversary.  We wanted to do something special so we decided to make a weekend of it.  We made plans to take the boys to my sister-in-law/brother's so the boys could enjoy some family time while we enjoyed some childless, focus-on-your-spouse time. 

As we were researching things to do in the Kansas City area we kept coming up with things to do with the boys.  (Many of you might understand how hard it is to plan something without thinking "Oh!  The kids would love this!" each step of the way!)  We decided to make a full vacation out of it.  We would spend a few days in KC, just the two of us, then we would drive back to my family's (about an hour + from there) to get the boys and drive back to let the kids experience some of the fun.

On the road to visit family!  Don't be fooled, Alex is not sleeping.  Ajay did some crocheting along the way.  He is still at the chain stage.  We've tried moving on to single crochet stitches but he gets too frustrated.

We got to Nana and Papa's and raided the fruit trees.  Alex is showing his juice covered hands.

....Which reminded me of a younger Alex, same shirt, same pose, same juicy hands (although a tad juicier!)
And while taking a quick stroll down memory lane, I thought I'd throw in this picture of Ajay from that same visit 4 years ago. He had fallen in the driveway and gotten a bit of a scrape.  As you can see he was not happy.
After saying our goodbyes to the boys we headed to our first destination.  If you look in the mirror you can see the storm clouds behind us.  I thought it made for a pretty cool photo.

One of the many fountains in KC.

For dinner one evening we tried out a vegan restaurant.  It was quite tasty!  .....And then we hit a non-vegan ice cream place for dessert.  Ha!

We didn't have The Cheesecake Factory in our plans but it was fun to take a picture in front of it :)

Funky clouds to stare at while slurping on our ice cream.
Get ready for some more vacation shots in upcoming posts!  Just imagine you're sitting our couch and we have the slide projector set up, 'kay?  Click-click, whoosh.  Click-click, whoosh.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Moving along

Moving right along through June .....

If you know me very well you know that I get my hair cut short then let it grow for awhile, usually a bit past my shoulders, and then cut it short again (typically right above my shoulders).  Most times, Biju says he wants me to keep my hair longer when I'm itching to cut it off.  The past year, though, it was the opposite.  He would casually ask me when I was planning on cutting my hair.  I would say that I wasn't ready yet and I just kept letting it grow.  I would trim it, get some shape put into the layers, thin it out, but I never chopped off any real length.
Then, all of the sudden, I woke up and decided that I was tired of my long hair. As in, I wanted to go get it done now.  I let Aren take my before photo:

 And drove off to get it cut!
Not the best photo since it was freshly cut, still damp and hidden by my sunglasses.  There will be better shots of the style in upcoming blog posts.
 Biju spent quite a bit of time in June painting the house.....
 Aren couldn't help but make a funny face for the camera while he was watching Daddy paint....
 I was happy with the house color but loved it once we added the trim color.  Purple-y brown house with purple-y gray trim.  Fabulous combo, if you ask me!
 Aren and the boy across the street (5 months older) are great buddies!

Alex ready for a ball game!

Aren and this little girl spent a lot of time together - in the dirt - during games.  In this photo, they had a weed and they were trying to plant it.  They worked really hard but the dirt was just too dry and the weed was too floppy.  It wouldn't stay planted.

#34 on the run!

The kids (our boys along with some friends) creating their own dance party via Pandora. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ajay's Birthday

I feel sorta bad for skimming over Biju's and Aren's birthday in the May post .... and then turning around and making a whole post for Ajay.  However, he had a game the day of his birthday so we ended up making treats to share.

I melted some white chocolate and brushed it over the tops of Oreo's.  Then I took some red frosting and made the "threads" of a baseball. 

Ajay didn't get a cake for his actual birthday (he got it later when he had a couple of friends over on the weekend) so we got some donuts!

Birthday boy headed to his position.

Biju played catch with Alex for a bit and Aren enjoyed being chased and tickled by one of the girls at the game.

As Ajay handed out the baseball Oreo's the team sang Happy Birthday to him.

YUM!! Donuts!!  (I want this one, and this one, and this one...)

Alex was almost as excited as Ajay when he got his present...

...a new bike!

Ajay on the phone with family getting birthday wishes.