Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scandinavian Almond Cake

When we were at my parents' house for Christmas, my mom had made this delicious Almond Cake. I mean, it was so yummy. Light and creamy, with no frosting. It was more like a sweet loaf than cake (like the lemon loaf at Starbucks or pumpkin bread at Caribou).

I got the recipe, special pan, and almond extract for Christmas!

Scandinavian Almond Cake
Spray the pan with cooking spray.

Beat well: 1-1/4 C sugar, 1 egg, 1-1/2 tsp pure almond extract, 2/3 C milk
Add: 1-1/4 C flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder
Add: 1 stick melted butter
Mix well.

Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. Edges must be golden brown. Cool in the pan before removing. The cake will break if removed too soon. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.
Variation: Before pouring batter in the pan, sprinkle sliced almonds in the bottom.

This is such an easy recipe, and it's so good. And I feel classy serving it. It seems like a nice light dessert. Especially if I had some berries to go with it.

Also, I really think I can swap out the almond extract for any other flavor. Like Orange Extract and add a little orange zest. Or lemon. That would be really good. Probably any kind of extract and an associated "zest."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Our 7th Anniversary

Today is our seventh anniversary. We celebrated by going out to Kona Grill in Eden Prairie. We had never been there before; our neighbor suggested it when I told her we wanted sushi. Jeremy has gotten me into the game Tiny Tower. I've been playing it on my phone while I'm nursing the baby. Every time I have to stock the sushi floor, I want to eat there. That's how we decided to go out for sushi on our anniversary.

We started with some drinks. I had a mango mojito. It came with rock candy on top. It was so good. I loved the big mint leaves and the sweet mango.

We ordered some Avacado Egg Rolls as appetizers. I wasn't sure what these were going to be like, but I like avacados and egg rolls, so I figured it was worth the shot. It was just avacado mashed up and rolled into an egg roll wrapper and fried. It was served with a green dipping sauce that was heavenly. This is worth replicating at home.

For dinner we had four different sushi rolls: Coconut Shrimp, Spicy Tuna, Soft-shell Crab, and Atlantic. I didn't take a picture, because I was too busy eating. Yum!

Then dessert:

Jeremy had a Red Velvet Cupcake, and I had Coffee Creme Brulee. While we were waiting for dessert to arrive, we were hoping the cupcake wouldn't be too huge or have too much frosting. My brilliant idea was that instead of a huge pile of frosting on top, they would take the top off the cupcake and put frosting inside. Then put the top back on and more frosting. That's exactly how it came out! I'm not the only brilliant one out there!

First of all, creme brulee is my favorite dessert in the whole universe. I get it every time I see it. Can not resist. Don't really try to. This was delicious and almost too big for one person. Almost. I did eat the whole thing and loved every bite.

This is also worth mentioning: Kona Grill has Sushi Sunday--all their Traditional Rolls are 1/2 price until 9pm. I would like to go there again. It might not be a good place to take the kids--especially not for dinner but maybe a weekend lunch. I'm sure it's super busy during weekday lunch.

So, it feels like we celebrated seven years well and had some yummy food.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Plastics in the Kitchen

I thought this was an interesting article about what plastics are in the kitchen and what the symbols mean.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Jeremy made hummus the other day to put in pita sandwiches. We pulled some out today to eat with fresh carrots, cukes, and broccoli. YUMMO! Ivy & Jamey will eat it by the spoonful. Delish!

Hummus Recipe (no pictures because I didn't take any)

4 cans chickpeas, drained
2/3 c tahini
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
2 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic
2 T olive oil
a bit of paprika
2 tsp parsley

Put it all in the food processor and blend until it's nice & smooth. Put it in a bowl.

A day of my life

I'm feeling super busy all the time but never feel like I get anything done. Someone suggested keeping track of what I do for a day to see all I'm accomplishing. So here's Thursday, January 26. Keeping track of everything I do is hard work. :)

Midnight - 6am

Livy finally fell asleep at midnight, so I went to bed. Jamey came in our bed at 2am. Ivy followed at about 2:15. At 2:30, I took them both back to their beds. Livy is teething, so she's not as comfortable sleeping. She nursed a couple times during the night.

6am - Noon

Ivy woke up at 7 and came in our room. Checked my email, facebook and blogs on the phone while Ivy looked out the window and played with the condensation. We got up at 7:30. Unloaded the dishwasher. Got breakfast for her. Noticed Jeremy forgot his lunch. Because he's trying to not lose any more weight, texted with him about getting lunch to him. Decided to play at the Eden Prairie Mall. Packed the diaper bag. Moved the jogging strollers out of the car and put in the “mall stroller.” Put on makeup, did my hair, got Ivy dressed, combed her hair. Jamey woke up. Read three books to them. Changed Jamey's diaper. Got him breakfast. Got myself dressed. Made the beds. Got Livy dressed. Nursed her. Got Jamey dressed. Found my car keys. Contemplated a car wash. Put Jamey in timeout for screaming while I start this. Leave the house at 9:30 to get lunch to Jeremy before his long day of meetings starts. Feed the fish. Drop off Jeremy's lunch. Sit while the kids play at the mall. Make a dentist appt for me—the fillings I got awhile ago are killing me. Walk to Barnes & Noble to look through K curriculum while the kids play with the Thomas table. Take Ivy potty. Nurse Livy. Wrangle the kids out of the mall and away from the food court.

Noon - 6pm

Drive toward home. Get a car wash. Pick up cheese rollups for the kids. Install the convertible car seat for Livy. Eat a yogurt. Take a grapefruit out to eat. Livy starts screaming. Try to nurse Livy down for a nap. While doing that, decide to send the kids out to play and run while they're outside. Aha! Livy doesn't go to sleep! I guess I'll send the kids outside anyway and clean up until Livy goes down for a nap. Eat that grapefruit. Change diapers. Get the kids dressed in snow stuff and send them outside. Pick up basement and upstairs. Pick up Livy's toys. Wipe down kitchen counters and table. Dust living room. Find my sunglasses. Look up Turn on Pandora. Clean the bathroom while holding Livy because she cries every time I put her down. Mediate a fight between the kids about pushing each other down the hill on a sled. Get Livy happy in the exersaucer, so maybe I can sweep. Sweep & mop the kitchen & living room. Put those rooms back together. Put on my running clothes because then I'll be ready to run when Livy goes down for a nap. Help kids pick up toys outside. Find almond loaf pan & recipe in case I want to make that tonight. Wipe down the deck doors. Start a blog post about vitamins. Nurse Livy. Get annoyed that she doesn't fall asleep. Put the kids' snow stuff away. Get the mail. Put away the sleds. Put a sweet potato in the microwave. Order vitamins for me. Put extra toilet paper in the kitchen bathroom. Eat sweet potato. Fold & put away a load of laundry. Wash Ivy's swimming suit and deck curtains. Turn on Sprout for the kids—hoping to sit for a few minutes while the washer goes and maybe Livy will eventually take nap so I can get on the treadmill. What should we have for dinner?? Rescue Livy from "pretending to walk" with Ivy. Put away art supplies. Start the "Santa Clause" movie for the kids. Set the table for dinner. Aside from salad, I have no idea what we're having. Livy is crying, so maybe she'll finally take a nap. Put curtains & swimming suit in the dryer. Finally got Livy to sleep at 4:30. Decided to make quesadillas and rice for dinner. 30 minutes on the treadmill!! There is nothing like a workout to calm me down. Whew!

Closed the curtains. Got the rice cooking. Shredded cheese. Took a shower. Livy woke up. Got the dark clothes downstairs to the washing machine. Got Livy's bath stuff together. Mediate another fight about toys. Pick up the playroom. Nurse Livy. Change her diaper.

6pm - Midnight

Cut Livy's fingernails. Read through the ABC Scrapbooks from Auntie Bethany. Jeremy got home!! Make quesadillas. Eat dinner. Clean the kitchen. Track daily calories. Bathe Livy and get her dressed. Put dark clothes in dryer. Iron and hang deck curtains. Hold sad baby. Give her tylenol. Hold sleeping baby while she naps for 45 minutes. Play Tiny Tower on the phone. Feed the fish. Drink some Emergen-C. Start the dishwasher. Fold load of laundry. Pacify still sad baby. Watch TV. Take Livy to bed at 10. Hope she stays asleep tonight!

And that's a day in my life. Whew!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Livy has popped her two bottom teeth. She's not real happy about it. She's pretty fussy and wants to nurse all the time. I'm sore. I haven't been this sore since she was born and figuring out how to nurse. Tylenol helps, but I don't want to medicate her all the time. She cries anytime I put her down and walk away. It might not just be teething. She might be at that age when she realizes she can't see me.

So, she's back in the sling. She's been here all day today and yesterday. I had forgotten how much I love slinging my babies. LOVE it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Uff dah. Who ever thought it would be so hard to find a pool for the kids to swim? Ivy spends a fair amount of swimming lesson time playing. She's getting better at listening and paying attention, but we think she'd focus better if she had time to play in the pool. I'm having no luck finding a pool for her to swim that we don't need a membership for. Also, I am baffled by how many outdoor pools/aquatic centers there are, but so few indoors. Don't city planners know this is Minnesota? We need winter swimming pools!!

Sidenote: we have no need for a membership anywhere and aren't interested in getting one.

Prior Lake
Dakotah: not open to non-members
River Valley YMCA: not open to non-members
Lifetime: $5/kid; $30/adult
Foss: they periodically do open swim, but not very often. $8/person

Chaska Community Center: Awesome awesome pool!  $7.50/kid; $8.25/adult Open swim is 1-5 during the week.

No pool available.

No pool available. They do have SandVenture open in the summer. Fun place like a lake, but with slides.

Belle Plaine
Belle Plaine has a great pool that is open during the summer. We went a couple times last year, and it's fun. And it's maybe $3/person.

There is Cascade Bay, which is super awesome for the summer. We've done two of Ivy's birthdays there. Nothing in the winter though.

Eden Prairie
Oak Point Pool has open swim!  Only on the weekends or Wednesday night, but in a pinch that might work. And it's $5.50/adult and $4/kid.

Edinborough Park does not have open swim times even though there is a pool there.
Edina Aquatic Center: again only in the summer.

No pool available.

No pool available.

Apple Valley
Family Aquatic Center: We haven't been there yet, so we will probably try it out this summer.
Redwood Community Pool: looks like fun

Family Aquatic Center: Summer only, again.

If you know of a pool I've missed, please let me know. Looks like we'll be heading to Chaska for fun swimming.


Monday, January 23, 2012

At least one sport and one art

We've always said "one sport and one art" for the kids. We have the sport covered with swimming. And it's easy to think of other sports it'd be fun to do. Soccer, t-ball, tennis.

An art is harder. We aren't artsy parents. I don't like drawing or painting or anything like that. I did piano as a child, but neither liked or hated it. Jeremy appreciates the arts, but isn't artistic.

I've always assumed this would mean our kids would take piano lessons or something. Until Ivy has been asking for ballet lessons. AHA!! Ballet is an art!! When schools cut sports, they aren't cutting the dance line! Dance is art!! Yay!! Not that I'm particularly excited about dance. She also is going to try out the kids' choir at church in the fall.

For Jamey, I have no idea what this means. Swimming and something. Or maybe he'll end up wanting a different sport. And the Livy, too. Who knows?

A sport and an art.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Media Exposure for the Kids

There has been a lot of talk lately about how much media exposure kids have these days. Some people estimate close to 11 hours every day, including television, movies, internet, and music. And probably video games.

We've gone through a period of the kids watching a lot of tv and movies. Having a new baby is hard work, and it seems like the only thing that would keep Ivy & Jamey occupied while I was trying to put Livy down for a nap was Sprout.

We're putting the kabosh on so much screen time. We've eliminated movies in the car (unless we're driving to Grandma's house). We're "taking a break" from the Yellow Phone (the old iPhone we have for the kids to play with). They can choose to watch some cartoons on Sprout or PBS Kids or watch a movie. I'd estimate that they are now watching an hour of tv every day.

We leave our cable turned to Sprout so if the kids happen to turn on the television at least they won't be watching Law & Order marathons. They very rarely turn on the tv without asking. Although Jamey tends to more than Ivy. Like Ivy never would. But Jamey does.

They like to watch a few different shows, but I don't have any of them set to record. Martha Speaks, Arthur and Wild Kratts are on right after each other on PBS Kids from 4-5:30 in the afternoon. Those are the most frequently watched shows, because at the end of they day when I'm trying to make dinner and ready for a little break, it's nice to have them preoccupied. They also really like Caillou and Super Why, but I don't know when they're on. Sometimes, we catch them, but not always. I think they're on in the morning, and we don't usually turn on the tv until later in the day.

The other thing they think is super awesome is watching Netflix on Auntie Bethany's computer. They watch Veggie Tales or Phineas and Ferb. Those are about 20-30 minutes each. We reserve this for special dates with Auntie.

I'm considering a week without tv, but I'm not sure I can do it until spring when the kids can be outside more. Maybe we can do No TV Summer.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Too Much TV?

There has been a lot of talk lately about how much media exposure kids have these days. Some estimate 11 hours a day between tv, movies, video games, and music.

Every now and then Jeremy will play video games, but not too often any more. We rarely watch movies, but we do watch a lot of tv. I'm starting to feel guilty about how much. Anywhere from 2-4 hours every night after the kids go to bed. And to be honest, by the end of the day, I'm so excited to sit on the couch and watch some gritty crime drama.

It's not like all we do is watch tv. Jeremy works all day, does bath & bedtime with Ivy and Jamey, works out anywhere from 30-90 minutes most days. I read, run, and do all the house and kid stuff during the day. When Livy starts going to sleep on her own, I'll get back to stitching, too.

This is the list of shows we record. It seems like a lot, so maybe we'll pare it down. At least we don't have to watch it just because we record it.

Gritty Drama





The Finder

Criminal Minds

The Mentalist




New Girl

The Big Bang Theory

The Office

Parks and Recreation

Napoleon Dynamite

Impractical Jokers

Late Night


Daily Show

Colbert Report

Saturday Night Live

Food Network

Pioneer Woman

Rachael vs Guy: Celebrity Cookoff

Next Food Network Star

Next Iron Chef


Restaurant Impossible

Game Shows

Wheel of Fortune


"Reality" TV

American Chopper: Jr vs. Sr

Dirty Jobs

WWE Monday Night Raw (Bethany records this) :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Keeping House

As a home keeper, there are some things I'm good at: keeping the house clean, doing laundry, managing our schedule. In a nutshell, my main advice is when you come across a task either do it immediately (unless you're in the middle of another task) or write it on a To Do List that you actually work on. If you have a To Do List that you ignore, don't write anymore things on it.

Cleaning the House

Every day, I do a different chore. Mondays=laundry; Tuesday=clean upstairs; Wednesday=clean basement; Thursday=clean main floor; Friday=whatever else needs to get done (usually a load of laundry and making a grocery list). I sweep the kitchen floor at least once a day. Jamey, it seems, is incapable of walking through the kitchen without scattering two pounds of dirt. Also, we have a rule that a game, toy, etc. needs to be put away before another one can get taken out. So, if the kids are painting, the paint, paper, brushes, everything, needs to be put away and the table cleaned up before they can play Candyland or do a puzzle. The only exclusion is the playroom. They destroy that room in about 32 seconds, so we pick up the toys in there about twice a week.

Doing Laundry

I have an entire day devoted to getting the laundry done. And even though it's Monday, I start on Sunday night after the kids go to bed. That way, right away on Monday morning, there are clean clothes in the dryer to fold, and I feel like I have a leg up on the task. I'm not just waiting around for the wash and dry cycle. Sometimes there are three loads, sometimes there are seven. Sometimes, it all gets done; sometimes it doesn't. But I like having a day set aside to make sure all the dirty stuff is washed.

Managing the Schedule

This is where the iPhone and internet is a game-changer. We use Google Calendars and would have a real hard time using anything else. We have eight separate calendars all shared between Jeremy & me: Amanda, Amanda's training & races, small group; the kids; Solt family; birthdays & anniversaries; Jeremy; Jeremy's training & races. That way every event on the calendar is color-coded so we know who's doing what when. And if Jeremy doesn't want to see the kid's calendar, he doesn't have to.  It's so easy to whip out the phone when someone wants to schedule something. I can see if Jeremy has something scheduled, how long his workout is for the day, if we have four other play dates that week, etc. The really excellent thing is that Jeremy & I can both add and edit events without talking about it. If there's nothing on the calendar, we're available.

We've just added two more calendars to our view. Bethany shared her training calendar and "regular" calendar with us, so we can coordinate babysitting and training to fit everyone's schedules.

There are things I'm not as good at

Making creative meals, using coupons, ironing, doing art projects with the kids, doing a family devotion

If you have any tips for me, please let me know.

Foss Swim School

Our kids spent almost every day in the water while we were in Florida. When we got back last May, I wanted to find swimming lessons they could do every week, so they didn't lose their comfort with the water. I looked into community ed or the Y, but I wanted something we could schedule and just do every week all year long.

We decided on Foss Swim School in Savage. They break down their lessons into four groups: Backfloat Baby, Littles, Middles, and Bigs--based on age and ability. Each group has four levels.

We did a "level assessment" with Ivy to make sure she got into the right class. After seeing Ivy's skills, the teacher put her in Little 3. Jamey got put in Backfloat Baby 2.

We've done two sessions now, and the kids are doing great. They keep learning and progressing their way through levels. Ivy is just starting Middle 3 (for the second session-the teacher said it usually takes kids 3 sessions to get through because side breathing is a hard skill to master). Jamey is starting Little 3.

I'm happy with our experience at Foss. The teachers have all been so good with the kids--keeping their attention, making the classes fun, motivating them to keep trying. The teachers are great.

I like the program itself, too. I like that the kids are learning how to swim and be safe in the water. I also like that they have other adults they have to listen to and other rules to follow.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sleeping around here

For a couple months, Livy has been unintentionally napping at 10pm. She'd sleep for an hour and then be wide awake and happy until 2am. Jeremy & I have been taking turns staying up with her. In the last couple weeks, we've been more serious about getting her on a normal schedule.

Purely by coincidence, Ivy has been waking up around 6am the last week or so. She comes into our room and wakes Livy up, which at first I was annoyed by, but it has ended up to be great. Livy has been awake more during the day and has been going to bed for the night around 9:30-10pm.

This also coincides with the 2012 Training Schedule. Jeremy & Bethany have started swimming this week. Everyone is ready for bed by 10. We're getting some good sleep most nights.

However, Livy has been teething. She wants to nurse all night long. If' she's not really awake, I can get her to take a pacifier during the night, but not last night. She woke up at 3ish when I tried to stick the paci in her mouth. And then Ivy was awake. And Jeremy moved to the couch. Then Ivy came back to our bed, and Livy started crying. So Jeremy went back to our bed, and I fell asleep on the couch holding Livy.

Today is a bad day to be out of coffee filters.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On Eating Grapefruit

Every so often, Jeremy will bring home a bag of grapefruit from the store. I usually steer clear as I'm not a huge fan, and I think they're a pain to eat. Jeremy does not. Obviously, because he's the one who buys them. He eats grapefruit like oranges. Just rips the peel off and eats the segments, skin and all. Yuck!

I slice a grapefruit in half and use a steak knife to separate the skin from each little segment of fruit. Then I sprinkle on a light layer of sugar (grapefruit is so sour). And for the next 45 minutes, I try to pry the fruit from the rind. I get squirted with juice. The weird tang on my tongue makes me want to brush my teeth. And then my plate, which is filled with juice and seeds inevitably gets knocked by a child, spilling all over the table and floor.

It's enough work and enough mess to make me forget that I wanted a snack. I look at that bag in the fridge and say "forget it." If I have to go through that tediousness, I'd better be getting some chocolate.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Favorite Kid Activities

During the winter when we can't play at the parks, I have a list of indoor activities that give the kids a chance to run off some energy.


IGM gymnastics has an open house play time for kids every Friday morning. It's $7 per kid. Ivy really likes the trampolines and the foam pit. Jamey likes hanging from the rings and running around the squishy mat floor. It's not usually too crowded but there are enough kids there to entertain my kids.


Edinborough Park

This is maybe our favorite place to go that costs money. It's $7 a kid and is worth every penny. The climbing structure is perfect for Ivy and Jamey loves the bounce house.


MN Zoo

We have a membership to the zoo and use it to our full advantage. Because we have a membership and live close to the zoo, I can take the kids for a few hours to run some stink off without feeling like we have to stay all day. The Bird Show is a must-see everytime we're there. And we often walk out to the Farm and take the train ride.


Chaska pool

We haven't been to the Chaska Community Center pool lately, but when we go swimming for fun, that's where we go. The zero-entry is great, the slides are super fun, and now that Ivy's bigger she can do the bigger slide. They also offer swimming lessons.


Jumps & Downs

I just took the kids here for the first time. Oh gosh, it was like heaven for Ivy! There are maybe 5 big bounce houses, a ball pit, and an air hockey table. I think it was $7 per kid. Again, well worth the money, and we will go back.


Toddler Tuesday

We have only done this once and now my kids have been exposed to the rides. It's hard to get out of the MOA without going on a ride. But Toddler Tuesday was a fun activity. And the mall is pretty empty during the day, so I don't feel bad letting them do some running down the halls.


EP mall

The Eden Prairie Mall is our free "go-to" when the kids need to get out of the house. Plus it's close to Jeremy's work, so we usually combine a trip to the mall with "Lunch with Daddy." The soft play area in front of Kohl's is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Ivy is technically too tall, but I don't really care. She's the target age for it, and it's not her fault she's a giant. :)


Shakopee Community Center

The Shakopee Community Center has a toddler/preschooler open gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings for $1 a kid. It's a huge gym (2 basketball courts) and they provide tons of toys to play with. There usually aren't too many kids there. Sometimes I run around with the kids, but every so often I sit on the side and drink a cup of coffee while they run and throw balls. We've also brought along their bikes a couple times.


I know other people have favorite places to go, and we'd love to try them out. Let me know where you like to take your kids in the long winter months.

Monday, January 2, 2012

An Update from the Solts

I haven't blogged here in a quite a while, and I have an unofficial NYR (that's slang for New Years Resolution) to blog once a week.

2o11 in a nutshell

Jeremy did some racing-triathlons and running. It's been fun to take the kids and ring some cowbells when he comes through transition and the finish line. He rides with the Great Scott Biking Club and swims with Genesis Aquatics.

I've been busy doing some training and a little racing. Being pregnant, having a baby, and figuring out three kids. I'm trying to spend time with friends and have some stitching projects on my radar. Along with some longer races.

Ivy really enjoys swimming lessons. She's doing great learning the back stroke, freestyle and side breathing. She also LOVES art. She got a spirograph for Christmas, and we have already gone through a ream of paper! She paints, she colors, she draws, she cuts, she glues, she tapes. She also got some bendaroos and is really enjoying making animals with those.

Jamey LOVES swimming lessons. He's learning to coordinate his scoops & kicks & putting his face in the water. He does float on his back alone. Outside the pool, he like cars and trains. A lot. I mean A LOT. He isn't such a fan of going out in the cold, but I don't think Ivy was at this age either.

Livy loves her mommy. She really likes to be held, but she does really great if Ivy & Jamey are playing with her. Ivy can get her laughing so hard; it's super fun to listen to and watch. She would really like to be sitting up on her own, but she's not quite there.