Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Grilled Cheese Fillings

So, today is the LAST day of National Grilled Cheese Month. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, you can't make these things up (read it on Huffington Post, so it must be true. Right?). In honor of the month and all and of course, in honor of my love for the grilled sandwich, here are a few of my favorite tips + fillings for Grilled Cheese.

First off... Bread.
Thick, thin, sourdough, rye, gluten free, soda bread... so many options! Think outside the box. I love myself a good crusty bread - Italian or French. A little stale, perhaps? No problem. In actuality, this is how I "rescue" my stale bread before it molds.

Next... Fat.
Fat is essential to a Grilled Cheese. Butter is the common go to. Please, for heaven's sake, use real butter. Oh, and make it better, by doing half extra virgin olive oil and half butter. For best results, smear the butter into the bread and heat the olive oil in the pan. Or make it EVEN BETTER and use part bacon fat as some of your grease. You'll thank me, I promise.

 Now for the fillings; remember to be open minded and brave.

Cheese. Essential. Obviously. I love softer cheeses because they melt a little fast and a littler better. Think Brie, Camembert, or Bleu Cheese. Another idea is to mix your cheeses. Sometimes a mellow cheese and a sharper cheese are delicious together. Think: mild provolone and a sharp cheddar. Or soft mozzarella with a touch of feta. Cream cheese, also a great option for a sweeter twist.

Meat. Optional - but delicious. Since the sandwich should mostly be about the cheese, I say go light on the meat, but that's just me. Also, cook it first! Whether searing a thin slice of ham up in some butter or making some crispy, crispy bacon, cooking it first adds flavor and detracts from it being too wet. Salami, prosciutto, and other salty and thin pieces of meat are delicious, too.

Fruits + Veggies. 
So many good things can be added to your sandwich for grilled goodness. Avocado, tomato (slice thin and pat dry before adding!), apple, pear, baby spinach, sauteed sweet peppers, caramelized onions, sliced artichoke hearts,

My best sandwiches always come out when I start at medium, enough to brown the oils on the bread, and then lower the heat to allow the insides to melt all together. And then serve warm. Enjoy!

Favorite combos.

Bleu cheese, a slice of salami, fresh baby spinach, and thin slices of apple and avocado.

Sharp cheddar, with cut up pieces of fried ham, finely chopped cooked broccoli, and caramelized onions.

Herbed Chevre with thin slices of pre-cooked wine & cheese sausage, and avocado and caramelized onions.

Triple Creme Brie on one side, Nutella on the other, thinly sliced strawberries in the middle, and seared in butter.

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This post Grilled Cheese Fillings first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 30 April 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekly Capture XLVIII

Oh my! What a week. I ended up giving Dom a week off school even though we haven't quite wrapped up our 'E' week. My life was mostly overrun with an attempt to figure out the problems with my computer (done + hopefully will be fixed soon!) and Weepeats. Weepeats, for those who've never heard my spiels on it (for those who have, I'm sorry) is a HUGE consignment event in this area. It's pretty much my one spot to go to for getting the boy's clothes. Sadly, as the boys age, there are less and less clothes in their size. I also have picked up many of our toys and educational resources there. It's pretty freakin' awesome.

But, since shopping there isn't enough for me, I also consign bi-annually at the event. Roughly that translates to me spending this whole past week finding, cleaning, tagging, and otherwise prepping clothes, toys, and such forth that needing purging from our supply. Here's to hoping I make lots of money to cover the cost of my shopping expenses yesterday. =)

We celebrated St. George's Day this week with a Feast of Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, and some scones with red crosses decorating them for dessert. It was fun to celebrate a Saint that is especially loved by my boys.

Otherwise, we have taken advantage of the lovely weather several times this week. Last weekend our family went out to a local farm that was having a Sheep Shearing Fest. Although we saw no sheep sheared, we did pet a baby lamb and learn about the processes of wool from shearing pile to a blanket complete with demos. LegenDaddy was way more enthralled than the wee ones. We've also hit up the playgrounds several days this week. The sun has been such a welcome treat.

Out of the Mouth of Dom

"Blaise, may I have one, too? ... I'm a rather good guy."

"I need words to live."  My son, the philosopher, after being asked to quiet down.

"Did it dew?" Turning nouns into verbs. How very hipster of you.

B's Doings

Still not a very confident walker, but he is using any energy saved to put towards making strides in his climbing ability. Everything is a climbing challenge these days. His nodding yes has gotten very pronounced when he wants something. It's lovely to finally have him always answer yes or no to questions of that nature. It makes simple communication a regular occurrence.

I've *finally* caught up on Call the Midwife: Season Two. For those interested, it's available to watch online at PBS. I thoroughly have enjoyed this Season (and Season 1 was great as well). I love the situations that arise in each episode and the variety of cases the midwives come up against. At some point, I am going to attempt to find a copy of the memoirs that the show is based upon to read. I highly recommend the show though if you're looking for something to watch.

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This post Weekly Capture XLVIII first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 27 April 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Five Favorites {Vol. 7}

Sorry about the quietness on the blog this week. It's been a purging week as I prepare for this awesome HUGE children's consignment event that starts tomorrow. Not only do I shop for the majority of our kiddo's needs here, but I also sell unwanted items and then volunteer for 8 hours, too. All this just to make a little more crazy in our lives. So, to interrupt that insanity, here are five fairly random things as I link up with Moxie Wife and the weekly link-up: Five Favorites.


From Steph Baxter comes this lovely print of the colorful rainbow of foods that is available over the year. What a lovely reminder to eat in season!


Hoorah! Now available from one of my favorite product lines: BabyGanics Sunscreen Spray. Any buying two things of sunscreen is a surefire way to beckon warmer weather, right?


A friend of mine from college, Matt Grajcar, recently released this 5-track EP of songs he wrote and then sang with added vocals by Annah Sprague. Although Stay on the Bike has already sold out, you can find it and listen to it on Spotify.


Another piece of art to tie in with last week's Art Five Favorites. This piece is by Trafalger Square and is available on Zulily today. (There are also Girls and hair color choices!)


Oh my goodness all these Method Orla Keily Limited Edition Hand Washes are so fabulous. I keep finding them on sale at Target - thus far, Vanilla Chai is definitely my favorite, but right now I have some Tomato Vine, and it's rather delicious.

Linking up with the fabulous Hallie over at Moxie Wife today! 

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This post Five Favorites {Vol. 7} first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 25 April 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Feast of St. George

St. George is another great example of a saint who many have heard of, but not many can tell you anything about him. Other than the famous legend of the Dragon, his occupation as a soldier, and that he is the patron saint of England, I actually didn't know much about him. Having two little boys though makes this one of our household's favorite saints. What better than to learn about a saint, even if it is in legend, known for his immense courage and bravery that he uses to protect and defend others? 

Saint George was born in the 3rd century in what is now Turkey. He became a Roman soldier, and under Diocletian's rule, he was beheaded. There are many conflicting stories about why he was killed and the details as to whether or not there were miracles of him raising from the dead several times before succumbing to death. However, we do know that the Church hails St. George as a martyr and he is included in the Fourteen Holy Helpers (amongst whom St. Blaise is also counted). England is one among many that have taken St. George as their patron saint, but it is the most well known, so we are going to be celebrating the day in an English fashion.

In keeping with the legends about St. George and the dragon that he defeated, I highly suggest you check out this fabulously illustrated and retold version of the tale: Saint George and the Dragon by Trina Schart Hyman + illustrated by Margaret Hodges. There are several other depictions, but this one is by far my favorite among the ones I've seen.

For meal ideas to celebrate the feast, I suggest going British. So many great British recipes for both main meals and dessert can be found here on BBC's Good Food. I think I shall try my hand at a Yorkshire Pudding, and then incorporate St. George's famous red cross onto cupcakes, cookies, or something of the sort as a dessert.

Some other common English dishes to whet your appetite:
Shepherd's Pie, Steak + Kidney Pie, Bangers (Sausages) + Mash, Beef Wellington, or even a hearty stew (such as this one - just switch out the Guinness for a hearty English beer like Fuller's London Porter)

For activity ideas, check out these Links for crafts that are perfect for young children:

15 Kids Ideas for St. George's Day by Cathy James

St. George and the Dragon Crafts by Catholic Icing

And lastly, though you may not be able to purchase in time for this St. George's Day, look at these fabulous handmade products featuring knights, dragons, and the like:

Templar Tunic by Penelope's Costumes

Wooden Dragon Toy by Armadillo Dreams

Wooden Toy Knight with Shield  by Little Woodlanders

Image source:
1 - St. George and the Dragon from State Russian Museum
2 - Saint George Killing the Dragon by Martorell

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This post The Feast of St. George first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 20 April 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Weekly Capture XLVII

What a week! Both for our country at large and us, on a much smaller and more positive scale, as well. We started our week with a lovely weekend with my family, well, most of them. =) Sad new permeated the week on the national news, making me want to hold my boys tight the rest of the week. I think it was best summed up in a quote from March from Pope Francis:
"We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice, and sin."
Also, here is a portion of Cardinal O'Malley's remarks during the Interfaith service in Boston yesterday:
"This Patriots’ Day shakes us out of our complacency and indifference and calls us to focus on the task of building a civilization that is based on love, justice, truth and service. We do not want to risk losing the legacy of those first patriots who were willing to lay down their lives for the common good. We must overcome the culture of death by promoting a culture of life, a profound respect for each and every human being made in the image and likeness of God, and we must cultivate a desire to give our lives in the service of others." 
You can read the full transcript on the Boston Globe's website here.

Both the city of Boston and the town of West, Texas are in our prayers as we hold our family close and thank God for the moments He has given us.

Warm weather has tempted us out of doors this week though a cold has kept us away from others. Oh well, chalk and back porch picnics make up for it. We were without hot water again for a day this week, but I'm hoping that is all past now. I've begun some of our spring clearing and cleaning. I am attempting Simple Mom's Project Simplify, but thus far I haven't been doing all that well. Perhaps I'll combine Week 1 and 2 and just get tons done this weekend.

Out of the Mouth of Dom

Only a couple recorded quotes this week... I must be slacking. I'm sure he isn't.

"I think *he's* going to make it." Dom's thoughts on the new 'Planes' movie that Pixar is making include the fact that his uncle/my brother (who happens to be a film student) must be involved in the making of it.

"I suppose I'll have a good sleep," he tells me before I wish him a good night and leave the room.

In other news, the boy took me by surprise on Wednesday when we were outside chalking the sidewalk. All of a sudden, he just started writing letters, 5 in all. No help, no prompting - just, "Hey, mama, I just wrote an 'A'", etc.

B Updates

This boy is pushing walking and growing teeth as far back in his "important things to master/do" list as possible. He still attempts to crawl or be held as much as he can. And teeth, ha! What a joke. I just hope they're in before it's time for them to start falling out.


So, I finally started the first episode of Call the Midwife: Season Two. Love it thus far, but as I haven't yet finished it, I can't comment much.
The first 3 episodes are available for online viewing on pbs.org or on their app, or you can purchase the whole season. Season 1 is available to buy in full on DVD, or if you have Netflix, you can watch it streaming. I find it a highly enjoyable series, but beware of the obvious - there are a lot of births. LegenDaddy has declined [politely] my invitations to watch it with me.
 Any other 'Call the Midwife' fans out there?


I'm on a quick read here and there pattern for books right now. I need to start digging into my reading list for 2013 and some deeper reading in general.

For the boys, we found this fun one at the library in the new section: Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always. The illustrations, of course, tempted my art-loving self, so we tried it out. The drawings proved to be totally worth it, and the four stories included within proved to be sweet tales of true friendship. My favorite one happens to be the one where squid has a dream in which he is a superhero and can do many a super feat, only to awaken and find he is his ordinary self. Octopus comes to the rescue in reminding him of all the super things he can do in real life.

I'm excited for some fun events we have on our calendar for this weekend. Hope you had a lovely weekend with your family and are enjoying springish weather wherever you may be!


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This post Weekly Capture XLVII first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 19 April 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

25 Simple Ways to Go Green

I shared about why we have made greener decisions in our lifestyle choices last week, and I thought I'd share a few ideas for how you can start taking steps to "green" your lifestyle in simple, cheap, and low-stress ways. Remember it is a step by step process, and go at your own pace! Try to make too many changes, and you'll probably just overwhelm yourself. Instead, take on what you can handle, and remember each change preserves our earth, saves you money, helps keep you healthier, and in the end, keep your lives simpler.

25 Simple Ways to Go Green

Use Reusable Shopping Bags at the grocery store. Next step: take it up a notch, and use them everywhere! You can also buy Reusable Produce Bags and reduce those many plastic bags you stuff fruits and vegs in.

Make your own household cleaners or just purchase more eco-friendly options such as Seventh Generation Multi -Surface Cleaner.

Scrap paper equals art supplies! Save those magazines, catalogues, and other colorful "trash paper" and reuse it in collages and the like.

Switch to cloth diapers. So, perhaps this one doesn't count as "easy," but it is healthy and saves loads of monies.

Recycle your cans, plastics, and paper. Many areas offer local weekly pick-up. Look into it, and make a point of filling your bin weekly!

Recycle your batteries, electronics, and old medication. This one requires a little more work than the above, but I sure don't want my water supply to have these items leaching their chemicals into it. The effort is worth it.

Go Vegetarian once a week. Even omitting meat once a week from your meals can save you money. Check out this website just to see how much you can affect the environment around you by going vegetarian just once a week.

Hang your laundry out to dry. As the sun starts to shine more and bring some warmth, think about hanging clothes outside and forgo the dryer. Added bonus: sunshine is a natural bleach - just make sure to hang bright and dark colors inside out.

Start using a reusable Water Bottle, and stop buying plastic bottles. Most bottled water has been proven to be no different and or little difference to the water that comes out of your tap. Save the many plastic bottles from the landfill AND save tons of money by having your own bottle.

Buy Cloth Napkins instead of paper. Not only are you brightening up your dinner table, but you can save tons of money and lots of paper by going cloth.

Use rags and dishcloths instead of paper towels. Paper towels, like napkins, cost tons of money and fill the garbage pretty quickly. Try going 50% reusable at first.

Shop at your local farmer's market. So many great reasons here: promote community, see where your food comes from, eat fresh, and support your local economy.

Turn your heat (or AC) down or off when you aren't home. Make this one a habit. Check your thermostat before heading out and switch it off or turn down as you leave. It'll save you money and use less energy.

Compost your food scraps. A Compost Pail on your kitchen counter makes it easier than ever. Use it in your own garden, share with friends, or see if your area has a community compost program.

Put your dryer lint outside for the birds. Cut your kid's hair, and put the hair out, too!

Take your own Reusable cup (with lid) to the coffee shop or work. Many local coffee shops offer a discount for this green action.

Pay your bills online. Get reminders in your email and save piles of unwanted paper. Win-Win.

Unsubscribe from all that junk mail and unwanted catalogues, and while you're at it, delete your scheduled phone book delivery, too.

Take shorter showers. Save water and energy. I often will shower every other day, and then combine what otherwise would be two quick showers into a little bit longer shower.

Pack your lunch in Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags and containers. There are so many cute options available to pack food in reusable packaging. Saves money and plastic that ends up in landfills.

Don't buy food in individual packaging. Use the reusable containers to portion out food yourself into individual snacks.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Healthier for you and saves energy from not running the elevator.

Purchase used. Clothes, toys, household items, and more are easily purchased used through consignment shops, Craigslist, and yard sales. Save money, and reuse something that someone else no longer needs. 

Freecycle or Craigslist items you don't need. On the flip side, when you are done with something, Craigslist it or drop at Goodwill instead of throwing away.

And lastly,

Keep educating yourself AND your children. This one is so important. It's always good to have a "Why" to go with your actions. Watch documentaries, read articles, keep up with what is going on in the world around you. And pass the information onto your family. Keep them informed of why you make the lifestyle choices you do.

Have you employed any of these "Going Green" methods in your home? Which ones? What are some other simple and low cost methods you would recommend?

Linking up at Frugally Sustainable!

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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::

This post 25 Simple Ways to Go Green first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 17 April 2013

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