Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Hour Friday, Post-Christmas Edition

Hamburger got into my mascara.

And did a very lovely job applying it.

Then he took his favorite cup, and asked for "piva".

My adorable little cross-dresser:

Obviously I didn't give him beer (piva) in his "Let's Get Wasted" cup. I gave him juice. Which is why it looks like he has lipstick all over his face. And don't worry, the juice was organic, it's gonna be alright.

Thus commenced Christmas at the Burger Household.

How did you guys hold up?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bacon Squash Soup

Brrr it's cold out here! It hasn't been above 20 in a few weeks and it snowed (hard) in November. This is turning out to be a hell of a winter... And I don't mind! It just means that it's soup time! So go outside, throw some snowballs, and warm up with this delicious bacon squash soup!

First do this...

Then eat this!

This recipe is adapted from DaNelle over at Weed 'Em and Reap from her post, 10 Spectacular Fall Soup Recipes.  I saw the squash soup recipe and thought, "BACON!". Although I usually think BACON for everything. And onions. And garlic. Who doesn't love piggy goodness and stinky veggies?? Sounds appealing now doesn't it!?

  • 1 1/2 onions, chopped
  • Butter for sauteing (from grass-fed cows is best)
  • 1 pound bacon, chopped (try to find uncured from a local farmer)
  • 4 cups vegetable, chicken, or beef broth (or a mix)
  • Butternut squash (either 3 containers organic pre-cut squash from Costco (6 lb. total) or about 3-4 medium squash)
  • Chopped garlic
  • Sea salt, pepper, chile powder to taste and a pinch of nutmeg


1.  In a stainless steel pot saute onions in butter

2. Add one pound chopped bacon.  Here's a tip: use scissors and just cut the bacon! Cook until bacon is cooked to your preference.

3.  Transfer onions and bacon to a separate dish. Let the grease run off back into the pot or add some lard into it to prevent burning, add in butternut squash and broth of choice. Or get a whole new pot if, like me, you got distracted and the bottom started burning. Bring to a simmer and cover.

This is the squash I got at Costco. Since it's pre-cut it's a little more expensive ($3.99 for 2lb.) than getting a whole squash but it saves you a ton of time and annoyance in the kitchen. If you use a whole squash you have to cut it in half, place face down in a dish of water into the oven on 400 for about 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. Then let it cool, peel off the skin, and dice.

4. Allow squash to simmer for a few minutes until it starts to get more tender. Add the bacon and onion back into the pot as well as garlic and spices. Continue cooking until squash is tender.

5. I believe this is where those immersion blenders come in handy... But I don't have one. So I transferred the soupyness to a blender and blended it for just a few seconds. I wanted to keep some texture and this turned the bacon into little bits!

SOUP! Top with some cheese and om nom nom!

This is also a good option for smaller toddlers and older babes who have started on solids (make sure all ingredients are age appropriate for your child). Just puree a little more to even out the texture. You could also swap out grass-fed beef chunks for the bacon if you're iffy on pork or don't have a good source of it! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Hour Friday the 13th!

Over the summer (as in about 5 months ago), Hamburger had a little incident:

He awoke from his nap and was happily babbling in his crib. He sounded perfectly content so I didn't rush to get him out of bed. A few minutes go by and out of nowhere he starts screaming. I run into his room, and there he is, huddled in the corner of his crib, butt naked.... With poop everywhere. Everywhere. It was in his hair. Everywhere. 

He was clearly terrified. Apparently it was one of those farts gone wrong situations.

I made a "Who pooped the bed" comment (it's from Always Sunny, I hope you don't know what I'm talking about), and quickly gave him a bath... Well shower, it was gross. I just wish I had pictures.

Fast forward to now, one week before Christmas, 5 months later, and Hamburger has this really fun habit of taking his socks off and throwing them against the wall behind his crib. By fun I mean he thinks it's hilarious to tediously annoy me. I finally ran out of socks and was forced to slide his crib away from the wall in search of all these long lost socks.

I found the socks.

Amidst dried pebbles of poop.




Is this the mommy version of getting coal in your stocking?

I prefer coal.

Happy Holidays! 

Jack Daniel's Distillery Tour... With a Baby. YUP.

It's educational. YUP.

 The next Master Distiller perhaps?

We left Nashville bright and early and headed to our last stop, Gatlinburg, TN. But not before a quick detour to the Jack Daniel's Distillery... It was on the way... As in two hours out of the way, but when you're that close, you really can't pass it up. I like whiskey. 

 It's good for the gums. (Not medical advice)


The drive to the distillery is a long one off the main roads and through small towns. My favorite! Definitely off the beaten path; even though the distillery gets 200,000 visitors a year... Yet only one traffic light in the whole town.

On the slow drive up to the distillery we decided to teach Hamburger to say "Jack Daniel's!". When we began our tour and our tour guide said "Welcome to the Jack Daniel's Distillery," Hamburger was the only one to respond with clapping and "YAAAAAY Jack Daniel's!".

THAT'S how you start a whiskey tour!

Your tour begins in the visitor center where you sign up for your tour. There are two options to choose from: The standard tour which lasts about an hour and the tasting tour which lasts closer to two hours and includes a whiskey tasting. The tasting tour is $10 per person. Everyone has to be at least 21 for this tour. I look young and had to explain to the annoyed looking receptionist that yes, I am over 21 (Hamburger never helps the situation, they just think I'm the babysitter or a bit irresponsible). That wasn't good enough though; she pointed to Hamburger and said, "EVERYONE has to be over 21." Oh ok, we were totally gonna sneak Hamburger some booze, you caught us. Now I don't even know what whiskeys you can sample!

Oh well, the regular tour it was!

The Jack Daniel's Distillery lobby, lots of fun to chase Hamburger around all this!

Almost there kiddo.

Once your time slot has begun your group will be allowed to enter the small theater area where you watch a brief movie about Mr. Jack and the distillery. Then your very own personal tour guide arrives and greets you (this is the part where Hamburger makes his presence and his excitement known to all).

You then head outside, take a group photo (which is available for purchase after the tour or can be downloaded online), and are shuttled by Jack Daniel's bus to the beginning of the tour.

The various sights of the tour

 The spring they get their water from... So they say

The safe that led to Jack Daniel's death. For real, take the tour, learn all about it.

Ok, ok, it was because Mr. Jack had a temper and kicked the safe in a fit of anger. Broke his toe. Infection spread. He died.

Arguably the happiest trees in the world, covered by a black fungus due to the high levels of ethyl alcohol from the stills. Perfectly healthy though! I feel like there's a life lesson in there somewhere??

Some more fun facts we learned:

Jack Daniel was only 5' 2"... He was lucky he was such a bad ass. 

Lynchburg is located in a dry county. The irony. Of course, they would want to sell Jack at the distillery, and all their fans wanted to buy Jack when coming for a visit. The night that the politicians convened to discuss the matter, a barrel of Jack mysteriously appeared at the hearing. It worked and the distillery is now allowed to sell "special edition" Jack and somehow gets away with tastings. Politicians swayed by alcohol (and perhaps other things?) who would have thought! 

When touring the bottling facility a two gallon special edition was being bottled... Not for us though, but for Europe! In the United States you can't sell  more than half gallon bottles, damn puritans! These babies were going out to Germany and Great Britain. The largest consumers of Jack outside of the U.S.

The barrels used to make Jack are sold after one go. The barrels are bought by other companies to make hot sauce and other whiskeys. They also make nice tables. 

The over-sized "life-sized" statue of Jack Daniel. In real life we would be the same height!

After the tour you are treated to some lemonade, a few snooty comments from a select few that will clearly never have children (they were just jealous Hamburger is so cool) the rest of our tour group had Hamburger's back though ;). You can also buy your photographs here and purchase some special edition Jack if you like.

Once through at the distillery you should definitely check out the business district. It is about a mile walk from the distillery grounds; I wish we would have had time to take the walk but unfortunately we were strapped for time and decided to drive instead.

The business district. Pretty much all of it.

There a few shops here, mostly selling Jack Daniel memorabilia, as well as the General Store, selling A LOT of Jack Daniel memorabilia. You will for sure be inclined to but something. I got a hat. I needed it. Ok, and a shirt. Most of the stores have promotions that if you buy a certain amount they will give you a free shot glass... Souvenirs for friends, CHECK. And don't miss the Tennessee Whiskey Candy Shop, specializing in Jack fudge and Jack and chocolate covered cherries!

Make sure to grab a bite to eat here as well. There is the famous Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House who serves up old-fashioned styled meals. You have to call and reserve a specified time slot. We missed it, obviously, thanks to baby time. Instead we ate at Southern Perks, a lovely little sandwich shop that will leave you very satisfied. And great coffee too! Did I mention the owner is wonderful?

There ya have it! Lovely little (almost dry) Lynchburg. Beautiful and tasty! Even if you only got a whiff...

Contemplating life over a game of checkers.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Love With Food Review & Deluxe Box Giveaway!

Love With Food who so graciously sent us this deluxe box is a monthly subscription service that delivers new, organic, and all natural snacks to your door. And get this...for every box you buy Love With Food will donate a meal to a hungry child right here in the United States.

This month's box was packed. We received the deluxe box which, for as low as $17/month, includes 16-20 items, some of which may be duplicates which is great if you have others in your house who might want to dive in to your goodies too.
If it's just for yourself you may also opt for the tasting box which contains 8+ snacks and is as low as $10/month.
This is my kind of box. It puts a variety of snacks in our pantry that I would never normally buy and it's nice to have something different now and then, or something a little healthier to hand out to my nephews or other guests. Crunchy Momma was here when I opened up this box and obviously gave her two cents on the items...lets call it a guest appearance!
This month's box left a great impression and I can't wait to see months to come especially as the seasons change!
Sweet Potato Pop Chips

I've never had Pop Chips before but I have seen them and kept saying I was going to try them. I ate a bag while I was taking these pictures and they were so good and so light. I love chips but hate that crappy, full of grease feeling they leave you with so these are a perfect substitute.
Dried Sweet Corn Crunch
Has anyone seen these before? I haven't... but I love corn (mostly drenched in salt and butter) I tried a bag already and I have to say, at first I wasn't over the moon in love with them but I think that's just because I found the idea so unusual. I'm happy to report they are good and even though I could happily eat the other bag I'm going to send them to work with my "trying to snack healthier" husband. These are also crunchy momma approved*
Tuxedo Popcorn
You're gonna really need to taste this stuff because it's insane and that's coming from a person who ALWAYS chooses savory over sweet. Classic caramel popcorn Love With Food suggests adding a drizzle of milk and white chocolate...mmmm!!
Ginger Twist Tea from Mighty Leaf
It's no secret that I love tea, and I go against the mold of my British roots, in that more often than not I don't do black tea with milk and sugar. I have a pretty sick obsession with flavored teas (you should see my stash!) My all time favorite (right is Lemon Ginger so this tea is going to be used here. These tea bags are so cool looking too (I need to add another picture of the actual bag) I'm sure you'll be hearing about how wonderful this is pretty soon =)
Black Rice Cracker Chips from Grains of Wellness
I didn't think I would like these because I thought they would lack flavor but they are pretty good. They are super light and have just enough sea salt. They are gluten free and Crunchy Momma approved* I will be on the lookout for these at the grocery store.
Seasoned Pistachios from The Guilded Nut
My husband is obsessed with pistachios, lucky for him these were in the box because I am not a fan, although this flavor is appealing to me and I would try it on say...a cashew (is that gross?) So, he is going to love them I'm sure.
Rosemary Sea Salt Shortbread from Dancing Deer Baking Co
I loved these. I could have done without the sugar on top because I'm so much more into savory foods and snacks but that didn't make these any less amazing and I'd have at a guess that they end up being my favorite item from the box and the item I am most likely to buy. Love!
Almond, Apricot, and Yoghurt Bar from Eat Natural
I hear a little voice say "momma, open" while taking pictures and sure enough my little peanut gobbled this entire thing much to the dismay of little Hamburger who kept saying "bar, momma, bar" I know you're thinking he wanted a beer but he wanted the yogurt bar and Stefanos was not sharing! I managed to sneak a little nibble and it was delish (I stole that from Rachael Ray) I just need to find some more for the picky little dude!
Green & Black's Organic, Dark 70% Chocolate
They say you won't believe it's dark chocolate and they are correct. I don't like the dark stuff but I liked this. I was pleasantly surprised and pretty glad I have three more left! Now what to do with the cute little bags....?
Maple Fudge from Laura Secord
If you love the sweet stuff you will love these. They weren't for me. Just too sweet. Crunchy Momma loved them...although she didn't approve them!

Arora Creations Authentic Indian Spice Blend

The recipe given with this spice pack is for a vegetable medley with Okra, Asparagus, and String Beans. It sounds so's going on my meal plan for next week and I will update how we like it. I tend not to use a huge variety of spices in our food. I have the same old ones I always buy so this will be a nice change.

Now, not only did Love With Food send us this amazing box...they want to send YOU a box in January. Just enter in the rafflecopter below for your chance to win. Don't forget to leave a comment for those extra points!! To learn more about their subscription service go here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*If it's Crunchy Momma Approved that means Hamburger is allowed to eat it!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Nashville -- Where They Don't Let Babies into Bars at Noon

(Probably just because they don't have changing tables, right?)

Our next stop after St. Louis was good ol' Nashville. Home of country music and giant guitars on every corner. 

We stayed in Nashville for two nights which gave us about a day and a quarter of exploration time. Frankly, with a baby, that's more than enough. It's not the most baby friendly city around, not that we were expecting much else, it was just a great halfway point for our last destination and we had never seen Nashville before, so why not!

That being said, pressuring my best friend to get married ASAP so we can have her bachelorette party in Nashville is top priority now.

As we entered the city, we first stopped at The Grand Ole Opry.  Definitely cool to see, but not much going on unless there is a show.  We took a stroll around, stretched our legs, and peaked into the gift shops.

It was getting late by the time we got there so we decided to eat nearby before heading to the hotel. We ate at Caney Fork, right across the street from the Opry. It's definitely a good place to take kids, especially after a long drive. There are bears and trucks throughout the restaurant and even a little pond with fish! And the food's not bad either, gator bites and many wild game options! Yum!

From there it was on to our hotel for the evening! We stayed at the Best Western Plus on Music Row.  The hotel was clean and convenient and the service was great! It is located about a mile from the central strip and right off the major highways. I wouldn't suggest walking to the downtown area from there, however; there are not many sidewalks and lots of roads and highways. There is a bus stop a short walk away that comes about every 30 minutes, located in The Gulch, a less touristy area of Nashville (with great LOCAL food!). Oh yea, and the MTA is free and can take you pretty much anywhere downtown!

Once in downtown Nashville we poked around the various shops and venues. It's mostly bars on that strip that don't allow anyone under 21 at any time (not all of them, just some, be prepared to get a few dirty looks). We strolled into the Ryman for a few minutes and a bathroom break. Then headed over to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Honestly, without any planned activities, there is not much to do here with a toddler; the museum is not particularly Hamburger proofed, and we lucked out that he was ok sitting in his stroller for the majority of the time. I like my country music on occasion but am not a die hard fan... Seeing all the memorabilia and  learning about the history was pretty cool but one such museum was more than enough for us! If you are a big fan though, there are plenty of iconic and historical places to see and tour! (And the buildings themselves are pretty amazing)

Grandma and Burger enjoying the Country Music Hall of Fame

From the Country Music Hall of Fame we hopped on the bus and headed towards Bicentennial Mall State Park. We passed the capitol building, up some steep hills, and ended up in this little park:

We just can't pass up an opportunity to get wet!

Right across the street from the park is the Nashville Farmers' Market... You can imagine my delight as we stumbled upon one of my favorite things! We bought some tasty peaches and strolled around for a bit, until sure enough, Hamburger fell asleep.

Hamburger and his little hitchhiker 

As it turns out the MTA doesn't allow babies in strollers on their buses... You can have a baby and you can have a stroller, but not a sleeping baby in a stroller! I get it, rules are rules. We had to hike back to the main strip on foot. It's only about a mile away, but it's a hilly mile. Obviously we needed some beer when we were done.

 Rock Bottom Brewery... "If you want it done right, you have to brew it yourself." Agreed :)

A word on boots...

I couldn't go to Nashville without giving in and buying a cowboy hat and some boots. But I'm cheap, and those cowboy boots were not! Most stores have big discounts in their basements and buy one get two free offers... It sounds good but you're still gonna end up paying $300. And I just won't wear my boots enough to justify that. BUT, they have kid sized boots for the same offer... And it just so happens that I have tiny feet! And their kid's sizes run large. So Hamburger got a pair of cowboy boots and momma got two pairs... For $60! Now I just need to find somewhere to wear them....

Other than our hotel bed

Happy boot wearing!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

More St. Louis Fun

I'm sure you have read all about our Grant's Farm visit on our first day in St. Louis, if not, DO IT.

Here are a few more things to do when being the touristy tourist, as we were. No shame.

The Gateway Arch, Of Course.

Ah the iconic Gateway Arch. When you think of St. Louis, this is what you think of, even for those who barely know where St. Louis is (it's in Missouri).

Sitting along the bank of the Mississippi River... it's a pain in the ass to get to. There is not much nearby parking as the Arch is situated in a large park. There are many parking structures surrounding the park, that of course charge a mildly ridiculous fee, or you can drive right up to the river and look for parking along the bank. There are a few small parking lots and meters along the street. If you opt for the latter option be prepared for this:

MWUAHAHA I took pictures and slyly got away with NOT having to carry the baby plus stroller up a bunch of stairs :D

Once up there you can skip through the park, have a picnic, try to take a picture of the entire thing...

(It's big)

Or just mosey on inside... By mosey I mean leave your wine and firearms outside the building and go through airport security. But knives are ok?

 National monument = national security... In ranger hats

Sometimes the lines just to get inside (and through security) are huge. They generally tend to go pretty quickly but when the line is all the way out into the park, you may want to come back later... Or check the other side; there are two entrances. Just because you get inside doesn't mean you get to go to the top (did that sound dirty to you too?) You actually have to buy tickets to ride the space pods to the top of the Arch and the tickets are for specific time slots. If it's busy they may be sold out for hours, you will have to buy tickets for later and just come back. Which we had to do... Or you can buy them ahead of time online and avoid the hassle. Because then you'd be smarter than me!

Inside the Arch there is a Westward Expansion museum you can walk around while waiting for your time slot and the line to get on the trams is like a mini museum as well. You won't be terribly bored and the toddler will find something they are not supposed to get into to play with. I will warn you, the journey to the top of the 630 foot Arch is a claustrophobic and mildly bumpy one... If you are bad with tight spaces or particularly afraid of heights, I would skip this. It's a very small space to puke in.

The view, Hamburger taking a picture of the view, Hamburger enjoying the wait to the top, Hamburger getting into the space pod (yes, that's the door, as big as it gets!), and finally proof that Hamburger was at the top.

 Once to the top, you can snap a few pictures and look out both sides of the Arch overlooking the city and the river, but it's a small space so don't expect to spend too much time up there. 

Although we had to wait in a few lines and come back for our time slot we enjoyed the attraction. You're not missing out on a whole lot if you skip it but it's like going to Chicago and not going to the Sears Tower (it's forever the Sears Tower, I don't care what anyone says!). It's a fun experience and an iconic building with a lot of pretty interesting history. 

City Garden 

My favorite thing to do when exploring a new city (besides trying local beer) is to walk around as much as possible and enjoy the outdoor spaces. I also love exploring outdoor public spaces because it allows the kiddos to run around and get some energy out. It's a good break from all the structured sight-seing.

City Garden lends itself perfectly to just that. It is easily accessible on foot, simply head away from the river from the Arch and go straight, you'll run into it eventually! Or go here for better directions... There are many places to run, climb, and even get wet among the art features!

Views, jumping fountains, T.V. watching, bunnies, pools, and creepy faces

The gardens are open in winter, although the experience will be a little less... wet. But during certain times of the summer you can even splash in the multiple pool installations (legally).

And don't worry if you forgot a towel, diapers work well.

 It's cool, just Hamburger with a diaper on his head.

Fitz's Bar & Grill

I love food and I love beer. And now also root beer. Best burgers, floats, and fried pickles!

A really great place for a meal... a very large meal. Don't skimp on the root beer floats either, even crunchy momma won't forgive you!

You can even watch the root beer bottling process, pretty cool!

And make sure to stock up on all the Fitz flavors at the restaurant. It's cheapest there and you won't have to go looking for grocery stores. Just make sure you don't leave it in your hot car, because it will explode. It's like I know from experience or something?

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

While we're on the subject of food, let's bring our attention to the most important food group... Ice cream! Yes, even I take a short break from being a food psycho when on vacation.

Seriously though, this ice cream is THE BEST. And there's like, a million flavors. 

Yes folks, this is Ted Drewes, not the line for Millennium Force in 2000.

It's THAT good. People were tailgating in the parking lot. For ice cream. I have no words.

Summer Festivals

 That's Burger, and me, and Mommy in front of Crown Royal at Muddy Blues.

Yep, St. Louis likes to party! And that's a good thing because you can find some sort of festival any month of the year! And many of them are free. From music to arts to beer, St. Louis is bound to have something going on, what a perfect way to experience the vibe of a city.

Not all events may be family friendly, but most have something to offer every age group. Hamburger definitely enjoyed dancing to some blues on Laclede's Landing, but it was time to go once the drunks really hit the dance floor. 

More to See and Do in St. Louis!

I realize I haven't even scratched the surface of all the fun things there are to do in St. Louis, but we only had a few days, interrupted by baby (and grown-up) nap times. 

I can't wait to come back and explore more of this amazing, vibrant city.

One thing I am particularly sour we missed out on was City Museum.  Slides and airplanes and rooftops... And even a bar at night! Check it out if you get the chance, I have heard only amazing things, and hope to have an update sometime after our next visit! Check out their hours and plan ahead of time because they have some strange hours, which we learned the hard way.

Other good choices for a rainy day include The Magic House Children's Museum and the Science Center.

And be sure to check out Explore St. Louis for all the other great attractions and events going on in the city!