the magic of summer

summer does magical things.  it makes time slow down, applauds messier homes, puts peaches in everything, has no set bedtime, instigates library adventures, inspires goofiness, allows for fly-by-the-seat-of-one's-pants experiences, permits cheesecake for dinner, encourages chalk dates with dadas, promises never ending naps in the cold ac, makes for tired puppas, and it does strange things to hair.  like transforming straight brown locks into bouncy blonde curls.  that happened. 

i love the slow drip of adventure that is summer.  it's so syrupy sweet i cannot get enough.  and frankly, i don't want it to end.  i love the thought of waking up and thinking to myself, what kind of fun are we going to get ourselves into today?  read books for hours? go to the park?  the pool?  the market?  the mailbox?  or perhaps just to the couch to soak in a new flick.  or maybe just eat watermelon on the patio for an hour or two and call it good?  or simply stay in our jammies and not shower until...tomorrow?  

the possibilities are endless and the freedom is unparalleled.  i suppose i am a little sad knowing that this time i have with stella is in fact going to end.  but that's what makes this precious time we have together so special and profound.  summer is just so magical.  i thank my lucky stars that i get to experience all of it's goodness each and everyday.

happy weekend to you and your loves!  now get out there and enjoy summer!   

{26 // 33}


a recipe // gazpacho, ole!

last night i got back to my roots.  and by roots, i mean i gave myself a private cooking show {for myself, narrated by myself, to serve myself, etc.} in myself's kitchen.  no shame.  this is a random thing not many know about me, something quite odd, and something my very own mother and dear husband can attest me doing since years past.  here's the deal: andrew had to work late and i had a plethora of fresh veggies from the market to put to use, so i did as any hungry mama would and i made some gazpacho!  in my best julia child impression, i added my veggies to the food processor, gave the end result a good swirl of olive oil, and shouted "viola!"  errr...i mean, "ole!"  my dinner {and lunch for the next week} was done.  so easy, so summery, and always delicioso.  the neat thing about this recipe is that it works well all by itself as the main course, pairs beautifully alongside grilled anything {especially fish}, or as a first course if you are entertaining. and believe me, your guest will not believe it took you all of 2 minutes to make.  

note: the wonderful thing about gazpacho is that everyone has their own personal recipe so this meal is basically fool-proof.  feel free to swap out ingredients and add in your own favorite veggies.  i just used what i had on hand.  oh, and it freezes well so go ahead and make one big batch.  and never forget to always, always, always serve chilled!  or at least room temp.

you will need:

- 2 roasted red peppers diced*
- 3-5 vine ripened tomatoes diced*
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper diced {this will give mediumish heat}
- 4 persian cucumbers cubed*
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/2 small onion diced*
- 1/2 cup tomato juice
- sea salt & fresh cracked pepper {i like lots of pepper}*
- large swirl of olive oil {3 tablespoons?}*
- 1/2 juice of lemon
- pinch of sugar

{* indicates a traditional gazpacho ingredient}

blend all of these ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  you can add any of the remaining ingredients to garnish, but i prefer italian flat leaf parsley and a corona.  :)  

the next time you find yourself with heaps of summer veggies, now you know what to make!  enjoy!


what a baseball game looks like with a 1 year old

well, we up and went to a ball game the other night!  baby girl's 1st, in fact.  after dada got home with surprise tickets, we made our way to the ball park with too many cheerios, a full sippy cup, and lots of patience.  

did you know viewing sports events dramatically changes once you have a baby?  well, it does.  and the whole thing will make you laugh if you're the parent in the situation, and if you are the person watching the parent in the situation {well, probably more so}.  to get though it, you just have to remember to take your sense of humor along and enjoy the ride.  here's a rundown of our time at the ball park, in case you were interested.   oh, and don't let that picture of miss stella's cankles crossing fool you!  that was taken during the 1st inning...you'll see what i mean...

pre-game: get beer and find seats.

1st inning: sit back, relax, get picture taken by stranger, oooh and ahhhh about the gloriousness of the evening, cross cankles, talk about how awesome it is to be able to go to a baseball game with a one year old, and forget to knock on wood!

2nd inning: entertain baby girl with our tickets, watch her eat them, let her feed herself cheerios until they run out, look for sippy cup on dirty floor, sip beer, give husband that look of panic that the cheerios are almost gone, try to figure out plan b in our heads, forget there is even a game going on, and discover that the people who *kept* admiring the cute baby in front of them are most definitely annoyed.

3rd inning: take turns bouncing baby girl {who has this magical power to turn into gumby less than a moments notice} on knee, sing in a high pitched voice embarrassing ourselves "take me out to the ball game" in hopes of distracting the wee one, bottle time, another round of pass the baby, more high pitched singing, take baby girl up the stairs to watch the game by the hot dog vendor {on the television}, think to myself "whyyyy me," stuggle to hold onto squirming child, look for husband with scanning eyes from the top of the stadium...spot husband.  think, "thank god he's coming my way".

4th inning: go home.  and while exiting, get strange looks from people still trying to get into the game.

it was too hot anyways, sheesh!  when we got in the car we were a little relieved, actually.  baseball is fun, not overly fun, but it has its limit, for us anyways.  the ac was calling our names and so was that gallon of mango ice cream in the freezer.  so in the end, we wouldn't have had it any other way.  cheers to ball games with babies! 



museum walkabout

a few days ago, baby girl and i went on a museum walkabout.  it was one of those summer afternoons where there were no plans in the works and we just needed to get out the house for a bit to stretch our legs and open our minds.  after filling our bellies for lunch we ventured off to explore the nelson's sculpture park, some glorious paintings, and all that awaited us.  it was her, i, a stroller, and some water.  all the essentials for a superb walkabout. 

there was a solar powered instillation that had an outdoor room created out of chalkboard paint.  stella and i sat on the floor and covered ourselves in chalk dust, leaving our mark in various shapes, lines, and squiggles.  i can not get over how well she was holding that piece of chalk.  such a determined little turkey, indeed!   she knew its purpose and intended on making some art, having watched her mama doodle nearby.  my baby is growing up. 

we had fun roaming around the museum's grounds, following paths we have never been down, and going through doors that welcomed us into new, unfamiliar spaces.  the air was hot, heavy, and humid so we decided it would be best to go pay a visit to our dear friends indoors:  monet, van gogh, gauguin, and lautrec.  but only because it was hot.  ;)  

as we walked around looking at these masterpieces stella spotted a "puppa" so we had to go say hello.  the bright colors in gauguin's painted attracted her wandering eye and prompted a tiny finger to point in the air.  that moment made me so proud as a mama.  it's amazing seeing the spark go off and connections being made in your baby's eyes.  she is learning and having a beautiful experience that is shaping her as a little human and future woman of the world.  i don't think i will ever forget her little finger pointing at the puppa that day.

on our way out, we had a chat with the thinker, rodin being my husband's favorite sculptor, and come to think of it favorite artist, before heading for the shade on the pathway near the exit.  there we sat and baby girl had one thing on her mind: hugs for mama.  a perfect end to a museum walkabout, if you ask me.  i encourage you to visit your city's local museum{s} and soak up all that culture with your wee one!



gifts from our market

“if we are always arriving and departing, it is also
true that we are eternally anchored.  one's destination
is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”
― henry miller

few things are so pleasant as hand picking one rainbow painted heirloom tomato amidst hundreds of its sisters, smelling the bold and complex sweetness of a peach ripening in the sun, breathing in the homegrown earthiness of a single smoky poblano pepper, exchanging smiles at the proud parents of an ear of corn while adopting it for your own, and then getting the chance to slowly prepare a meal with these treasures for those you love.  all of this after having meandered around one's local market for the duration of a lazy saturday afternoon, while feeling the rise and fall of your baby girl's chest as she is carried snug to your body.  perhaps pleasant doesn't sufficiently describe an experience so exquisite as this.       

we used to live 250 steps due south from the cobblestones that lead to the river market where we would spend our weekends inhaling roasting espresso beans and the intoxicating perfume of bread baking in an nearby oven.  

it was/is one of our little gems, this market.  back then, it was "our place".  even though on an average day it was packed with dozens, even hundreds, of kansas citians, and was flogged by the city's tourism center, it was somehow special and ours.  a secret space we kept hidden away, only to be delightfully re-discovered every weekend when we would take mister leon there during his long awaited walk.  the feeling we got when at this market was akin to what an explorer would feel when seeing a new shoreline from a distant telescope, and then stepping foot on that precious, uncharted land for the first time.  although this comparison seems quite stretched and far-fetched, the innocent yet sincere sense of discovery we perceived when there and the excitedness it fostered within us upon each visit, i suppose, could be similar. 

never having to find a parking place was a real treat.  we could walk over the bridge, through the park, and to the vegetable stands to buy all the ingredients to whip up some spicy salsa, then leisurly walk home through the maze of cars parked in any space large enough to fit a motorbike.  we felt special not having to take the normal route to buy our produce.  perhaps that's why this space seemed so distinctive to us and significantly ours.  

now we are one of those cars that has to circle the market for at least a half and hour before finding a space.  however, after parking and re-familiarizing ourselves with the area and of course taking note at all the changes, we feel it appropriate to soak in every drop of the the sentimental air that this market evokes.  we cling to that nostalgic feeling and take the time to splash in those reminiscent puddles.

we are at a different but better place in our lives, a place where we have the opportunity to share the specialness of this gem with our little one who is eager to participate and learn about life.  we get to show her the beauty in locally grown food and the importance of giving back to the community.  

sharing our stories and amazing experiences with our daughter is the best possible thing this market has given us.  the ability to think back and smile is also a lovely gift we have unintentionally received.  even though it takes us more like 43 blocks and not 250 steps, we still consider this place special and hold it close to our hearts.  we will always be "arriving and departing," like henry miller says, but also forever "eternally anchored".  and when we depart, it will always be with the beautiful components of our evening's meal.  



on hunger and meeting my mister

here's the tale of how i met my mister.  met as in last night, mere hours ago, while it's fresh in my mind and i'm sitting here still feeling like a frivolous school girl.

we switched it up and changed our pace.  the change in our date night evening drifted from our usual rushed polka set to barnyard hoedown throw down, into the beautiful glide of a calming waltz, accompanied by bach and harps.  lots of harps.  that is how we started our evening, or so it felt.

he did not come home right after work; rather, we met there.  there, as in an intangible place in one's heart and mind, but and also an actual location, one with food...

before i bathed the babe, walked the dog, fed the babe, and welcomed the sitter{s}, i got dressed.  laid out on my bed were two items that whispered nostalgic nothings in my ear:  strappy  heels + summer citron skirt.  this was the outfit to meet my mister in.  

as i pulled out of the driveway, all was waveless.  i felt as if i was looking out on to a sea of glass, only to be reminded that it was in fact the ocean by the slow and gentle pull of the placid water towards shore.  the glitter of bubbles reflecting from the sun's rays gave it away.  but in reality, in the middle of this country and nowhere near the spray of sea salt, i was looking at the hot, black pavement.  both dangerous yet soothing forces, the road and the sea.  regardless of the metaphor, i felt peaceful and assured, in a comforted sort of way.  as if i knew what lay ahead because i had already made up my mind that tonight would be wonderful.   

i couldn't recall what he was wearing.  that was part of the thrill.  part of the mystique.  the excitement.  and part of the longing we had to go back in time.  that zestful yearning to feel silly while longing to remember, only for a bit, what it was like when it was just us two.  back when i always met my mister.  

just for a bit now,  ya hear?

just like we used to do, before marriage, before baby, before bills, back when we both drove saturns and got report cards.  the anticipation of seeing him waiting there for me filled with a feeling i have not felt in so long left me hungry.  yes, in an appetite sort of way because i could always eat a horse, but hungry in another way, too.  a much more important hunger that seeped into my being beyond my stomach.  in that moment, i had this voracious appetite to be enclosed in a world where two sets of eyes were locked and where worry was cast aside.  hungry for us time, without the heavy baggage of guilt and regret.

i haven't felt that hungry since, ever.  we haven't had a proper date without feeling contrite {on my part} since ever, too.  ever is a long, long time, you know.

so i met my mister.  we dined, we drank, we shared, we smooched, and we dreamed.  together.  in that bubble, our bubble, until hunger subsided and rapture filled our hearts.

3 hours after having met, another kind of hunger started forming deep within.  we longed to smell that sweet, familiar scent, to feel that soft, strong clutch around our necks, and to see the truest form of ourselves combined in one sweetly innocent babe.  we missed our stella.

so we went home and appreciated life, and our marriage, and our family, feeling rejuvenated and happy.  as i closed my eyes and felt my body sink into the mattress, the hunger was gone. 


good gravy the girl can walk!!!

we have a walker over here and we can hardly believe it!!!  who knew it was going to take a visit to the library to make it happen.  for some reason this whole thing called walking just clicked, and miss stella decided that the library was for walkers only.  sans shoes.  and lots of shrieks from this proud mama.

here's how it all went down: this little cookie let it be known to the library world by her numerous hoots and hollers {sorry everyone trying to concentrate/read/sleep/"study"} that she was excited about taking some serious steps.  after warming up her lungs, a walking warm up if you will, she took 13 whole steps in a row {the current number to beat}.  she completed her trek with her infamous expression, lucky you for getting to see it in action!  and lucky me for having my phone nearby.  you should have heard her dada's reaction to the video.  i know he was miles north tucked away in his office, but i swear i could see him smiling.  

so what all does this mean?  well, i am not quite sure.  everyone keeps telling us to "watch out" *insert awkward laugh* once she will be able to walk.  ...like all of a sudden she will be committing disastrous transgressions and ruining the home we have already baby-proofed???  i just knocked on our wood floor.  whew.  but in all seriousness, now that this girl of ours is on the go, i guess that means new and exciting things are on the horizon!  for now, we will keep praising this little walker of ours in hopes that she will keep on going and perhaps turn it into a run!


wordless wednesday // painting party

baby girl and i had a little painting party yesterday to help fill up dada's bare office at work with some handprint art.  she had fun feeling the paint between her fingers and swirling it on the page.  what a delightful way to spend the afternoon!  not to mention, we had one heck of a bubble bath afterwards.  :)

{linkin' up with the paper mama today}



her infamous expression

say hello to miss stella.  she goes "ooooo." a lot.  it looks like this.  it's her expression of choice and she does it with such...unapologetic finesse.  for your reading pleasure, i have put together a list of times, 10 times to be precise, when her expression is displayed:

1. upon seeing elmo.
2. after something spills.
3. when confused or befuddled about life's many quandaries. 
4. in anticipation for food.  any kind of food. 
5. prefacing a dance move.
6. while watching mama dance {presumably out of pity?}.
7. throughout the duration of our ichat conversations with her nanas and papas.
8. when a camera is pointed in her direction.  so basically 24.7.
9. in the middle of a delicious bite of cheese.
10. whence hearing a strange noise, such as a siren or her dada sing.  
i kid, andrew, i kid. 

so there you have it...stella's infamous and irresistibly darling expression, along with reasons prompting said expression {which i will refrain from calling her "O" face because, well, that's just gross}.  the girl's a goof ball, i tell ya! 


dada's day

i love to watch them.  picture this:  me {every night} sitting in the corner of the room soaking it all in, watching him be so gentle with her, making her giggle, with this giddy grin on my face.  the connection these two have is beyond words.  it cannot help but make me fall completely, head-over-heels, in more love with this man.  i love him.  

and i love that the things he and stella do together are such "daddy" things.  things that me, a mama, could never do just right or even get away with.  but that's the way it should be.  

baby girl, i want you to know some of these things that your proud dada does with you that makes him so special and your mama feel forever blessed.

- your dada always checks on you before we head to bed and most times comes back telling me, "you just have to go look at her.  she is so beautiful." he insists we go in and stare at you for a few minutes. we always do.  
- your dada styles your hair in a spiked euro-mullet after every. single. bath.  without fail. we have pictures to document this. 
- your dada gets up with you in the mornings on the weekend and lets mama sleep in after he has worked a long and hard week.  he is so selfless. 
- your dada almost always dresses you in thee only outfit i did not want you to wear that day.  complete with wet hair and a hair bow.  and usually, but not always, whatever you are wearing is too small because he does not want you to wear size 18 months yet.  
- your dada takes you for long walks with leon so mama can cook and have some quiet time.
- your dada ballroom dances with you around our condo.  you always through your head back and laugh uncontrollably as he sings, "la la la la laaaaaa!" 
- your dada has so many little nick-names for you that you respond to.  they are always random and quite adorable.  he calls you "bonkers" about 100 times a day.  i told you they were random. ;)
- your dada has a way of making you forget about everything else when he comes home.  i become an afterthought and your beautiful eyes light up when he comes in to give you a big squeeze!
- your dada is so much better than me when it comes to putting you to sleep.  you prefer him to do it, actually.  it has become part of both of your routines, one that i don't think he will ever want to stop. 
- your dada lets you, and only you, mess up his hair.  we all know how much the man loves his hair... 
- your dada always reads the title, author, AND illustrator when reading you books at night.  i don't know why he does it, but it's so cute!  i love all those cute little things he does. 

these two.  they are my people.  and i love them.  

also, happy father's day to my own wonderful father and father-in-law.  andrew and i look up to both of you and admire each respectively in so many ways.  we hope you have a special day and we are sending hugs your way!

xo, amanda

here is a video stella and i made for our main man as part of his father's day gift.  he is the love of both of our lives and makes us the happiest gals in all the land.   




a little guest posting + giveaway winner!

hello everyone!  i hope you are as excited about this upcoming dada's day weekend as miss stella is in this picture.  she loves herself her dada and some scrambled eggs in the morn, you know.  i'm just popping in to let you know i am hanging out over in ashlea's lovely neck of the woods today sharing a day in the life of miss stella and mahself now that we are on this exciting and carefree summer schedule.  ashlea is the fabulous author behind how sweet it is, and is a stay at home mama of two beautiful girls, raygan and remy. thank you so much sweet ashlea for having me.  :)  i hope you check it out!  

and head here if you want to check out the winner of the doll pattern giveaway!  thank you again erin for being so generous.  cheers to the weekend, friends!  


a recipe // potato bar

the baked potato bar.  it's cheap.  it's easy.  and it's just plain awesome every time we have it.  say hello to your next go-to meal, it's one of our favorites over here at the watters' homestead.  it's a dinner for those nights where cooking seems laughable and just saying the two horrid words, "fast food", makes you wince.  and did i mention that this is a please all meal, as in everyone?  yes...you too, picky eater, you!  

step 1: le toppings

this is were you can get really creative and crafty.  heck, open up your fridge door and i'm pretty sure you have at least 3 things in the door that would taste pretty darn good on a spud.    last night andrew and i opted for a south-of-the-border flavor so we went with some spicy pico de gallo and chipotle chili i had frozen this past winter.  green onions, shredded cheese, and sour cream {of course!} made it even better.  

here are some other ingredients we like atop our taters:

*bacon {duh}
*ranch dressing
*hot sauce
*brie cheese
*goat cheese
*roasted red peppers
*black beans
*caramelized onions
*grilled veggies
*sauteed mushrooms

step 2: le potato  {poe-TAT-oooh}

heat your oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds.  wash the potatoes thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water to get the skins nice and clean.  don't forget to pat them dry.  then using a fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking.  place them in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil and kosher salt.  then place potato directly on the cooking rack wrapped in foil in middle of your oven.  put a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.  bake them for 1 hour, open them up, and fill em up with your delicious toppings!

step 3: eat & enjoy!

no side dish, says you?  a cold beer doesn't hurt ;)

and i'd like to know, what are some of your favorite quick go-to summer meals when you are in a rush and don't want to spend money eating out?  


a video // baby girl and her cake

i've been playing around with imovie and put a little something together for miss stella {and you all} to enjoy.  her special day was full of so many wonderful things, one of them being cake!  here is a peek at our sweet angel, stella vivienne, eating her birthday cake.  enjoy!


us two love birds and our frozen yogurt

you know how some people say they they look like their dogs?  well.  my husband and i, we look like our frozen yogurt.  or rather, we are reflected in it, i think.  it's random but true.  a few nights ago we took a walk after dinner to a local frozen yogurt joint in westport.  you know, the kind that allows you to mix and match and add all sorts of goodies.  

i went through the line first mixing flavors i had never tried before: tropical pineapple, toasted coconut, and orange soda.  to my summery concoction i added some fresh fruit toppings of kiwi and blueberries, for they are my favorites.  and then for a little balance and color, i threw in some mango and strawberry boba.  why, not?  there is something about that unexpected pop of sweet caviar that makes me smile.  i've only had them a few times and considered it a fun option to try.  and all of this was topped off with a little marshmallow creme, because everyone likes marshmallow creme, right?

and then for husbands walk through...can you handle this???

he started out all americana with a big swirl of vanilla yogurt and a small side of raspberry to taste.  he didn't even glance at the other twenty flavors on the wall, skipped the fruit, and gallivanted strait for the goods.  by goods, i mean my cutie patootie of a husband went for the sugar.  to his classic foundation he added sour worms, gummy bears, rainbow crunch cereal, nerds {i know, right?}, aaaaand....wait for it....caramel sauce {yep, he's crazy}.  i feel ten cavities starting to form just thinking about it.  

when we were eating at the counter he said something to this effect as he saw me peering into his cup, "...it's all just sugar anyways, right?"  and that's just one reason why i love him.

on our walk home i could not help but think about how were were each represented in those yogurt cups...each reflected in its contents.  our yogurt was so...US.  

me: borderline impulsive. always creative.  curious enough to call myself a tad adventurous. conscientious and always an over-thinker. overly sensitive. a human striving for balance.  

husband: consistently steady. thoughtful beyond measure. hilarious. adorably innocent. did i say hilarious?  always insanely over-the-top sweet. SO SWEET.  darn kind. a child at heart.

so there you have it.  us in yogurt form.  

i suppose i could connect each ingredient to a character trait but i think you get the picture.  do you and your love ever find yourselves reflected in food...pets...or anything else?


away we go // weston, missouri

today we took a day trip to weston, missouri.  this historic little town is full of charm with all of it's eclectic shops, tiny restaurants, beautiful wineries, and quaint beer gardens.  you heard me right, wine lovers, we grow grapes in corn country, too!  missouri has a surprisingly wonderful variety of vineyards that produce delicious vino ranging from super sweet to very dry.  after eating some some lunch at the local brewery we did some tasting at pirtle winery and ended up getting a refreshing bottle of white to enjoy after dinner.  

andrew and i were surprised to learn that weston also has vodka, tequila, and rum distilleries dispersed across the fields and green countryside.  to honor these locally produced goods, we just had to get some mango tequila.  you guys, the shop owner was twisting our arm and had quite thee sales pitch.  well, all she did was offer us a sample and we were sold.  

and as for little miss stella, she was such a happy traveler.  she sang the entire way there and the entire way back.  the distance was perfect because it only took about an hour round trip.  there is also a goat farm nearby where they make local cheese and an apple orchard we saw on our way out of town, so we will most definitely be back. 

{7} & {47}


our day at the zoo!

 today this little family went on an adventure to the kansas city zoo!  it was our first time going and we all had such a good time.  together we walked around checking out all of the amazing animals while listening to the birdies sing in the trees tops.  we especially enjoyed seeing the lions, kangaroos, and silly monkeys, but our favorite thing to see {by far} in person was the family of elephants.  they were stunning to watch up close and these photos don't give their beauty justice.  every time stella saw an animal she whispered to us, "puppa...puppa"  that right there is reason enough for us to go back.  what a precious little darling she is.  to our surprise, she stayed awake the whole time cruising on right through her usual nap time.  as if we couldn't have planned it better, she fell asleep just as we passed through the exit.  tired and hot, we all headed back home for a family nap and jumped at the chance to crawl back into our pj's.  what a wonderful day!  we hope you are having a good weekend, too!