Little Ladies Man

04.29.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

We had an invasion of pink in our home last weekend.

turocy-visit-1

Our friends visited with their three beautiful girls: Kennedy (4 1/2), Leyton (2 1/2), and Henley (6 months). Not surprisingly, our little ladies man loved it.

turocy-visit-2

We took full advantage of the sun on Saturday afternoon and let the kids run around in their barefeet.

turocy-visit-3

turocy-visit-4

turocy-visit-6

turocy-visit-7

By the time we brought them inside for baths, they were covered in sand and dirt. After all four were clean and clothed in jammies, we sat down for some quality adult conversation. (Side note: why do we never get any photos of the adults?)

Sunday morning was rainy and quiet. Well, as quiet as is possible with three kiddos running around and ripping through toys. The older girls fought for Sam’s attention, and he just soaked it up.

turocy-visit-8

turocy-visit-9

But he saved plenty of lovin’ for Baby Henley. “Hi, baby … Baby’s nose … Kisses for baby.”

turocy-visit-10

We don’t get to see this crew nearly enough. Thanks for visiting, Turocys!

april2013

And because side-by-side comparisons are impossible to resist. Here they are (minus little nugget) last April.

april2012

Oma + Opa Visit

04.25.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Every few months, Nick’s parents make the drive north from Alabama to see their littlest grandson. We don’t get to see them nearly enough, and we pack as much fun as possible into their short stays.

During their visit this week, Sam and I took Oma and Opa to Twin Lakes park and playground.

omaopavisit6

Sam showed off his sliding board skills, and he perfected his duck call. Afterwards, we enjoyed a picnic lunch and a walk along the water.

omaopavisit7

Back home, we put them to work. We accomplished a tremendous amount of yard work during their visit, and we are so thankful for their help!

omaopavisit3

Of course, we had plenty of time to play, too. Opa was Sam’s block-building-buddy …

omaopavisit5

omaopavisit4

… and provided a comfy seat during Sesame Street.

omaopavisit1

We even found a free evening to take them to Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh where we were joined by a few more members of the Wiley clan, including Sam’s second cousins.

cousins

churchbrewworks

As usual, we wish they could have stayed longer. But guess what? Sam and I are headed down south next week to see them again! Yes, I am willingly flying alone with a toddler. Any tips?

Thanks, Oma and Opa, for a great visit!

Pittsburgh Brewer’s Ball

04.25.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

I love an excuse to wear lipstick and heels. And when there’s beer involved? And drinking it supports a good cause? Sign me up!

brewersball1

Last Friday night, Nick and I attended the Brewer’s Ball in Pittsburgh to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Western Pennsylvania Chapter. There were about 20 microbreweries in attendance — each with multiple brews on tap and some with tasty bites on the side.

brewersball2

Favorite dish of the night was the Pulled Pork with Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Vinegar Slaw, and Candied Bacon from Fat Head’s. I do believe that candied bacon would make even the dullest dish a winner. And we especially enjoyed talking with the fine folks from local Greensburg brewery All Saints.

brewersball3

brewersball4

Before leaving the city, we couldn’t resist a nightcap at The Cheesecake Factory.

brewersball5

It was the perfect night out with friends, and we were so happy to support a worthy cause.

DIY: Magnetic Chalkboard Wall

04.22.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Since we bought our house last May, I have been searching high and low — literally — for a place to paint a chalkboard wall for Sam. I considered a space in the kitchen beside the refrigerator and another area in the downstairs hallway. But when we decided to convert the basement into a playroom, I knew that was the perfect place for my project. It would be easily accessible to Sam but far enough away that Lucy wouldn’t be tempted to devour the magnets.

magnetic chalkboard wall | theculinarycouple.com

I love projects like this one that are aesthetically pleasing to adults and also provide hours of entertainment to toddlers.

Here’s how to add a magnetic chalkboard wall to your home.

Supplies

  • level, yardstick, painter’s tape, and pencil to sketch the space
  • magnetic primer and chalkboard paint (Rust-Oleum brand)
  • small paint roller with two 1/4-inch nap brushes
  • white chalk, a soft cloth, and an eraser to prep your board before use (I used sidewalk chalk for this step)
  • jumbo triangular chalk sticks (Melissa & Doug brand)
  • wooden shapes from a craft store plus magnetic tape to make your own magnets
  • magnetic numbers and letters and animals (Melissa & Doug brand)

Instructions

First, use a level and a yardstick to sketch the space you plan to paint. My original sketch was 60″ wide x 42″ tall , but after talking with Nick, I decided to decrease the width to fit within the studs so we could add a frame to it.

chalkboard9

(Yes, I changed the color of our Dr. Seuss prints. The red and green and blue seemed too bright after I hung them.)

When you’re happy with the size, break out the paint. I like Rust-Oleum brand for both the magnetic primer and the chalkboard paint — I found both at Lowe’s. I used a small paint roller with a 1/4-inch nap brush for both layers, however, I did have to toss the brush I used for the magnetic paint because it was far too sticky to even think about cleaning and reusing. Also worth noting: the magnetic paint requires a lot of stirring before you start. And by a lot, I mean at least 15 minutes. Be prepared for a major bicep workout before you even pick up the roller.

Paint (at least) two coats of the magnetic primer, allowing 30 minutes to dry between each coat. Two hours later, paint the first coat of chalkboard paint. Wait two hours before adding the second coat. Allow 24 hours to dry completely.

chalkboard7

Then add your frame. We used scraps of window casing that we already had in our garage and painted them to match the woodwork in the room. Nick measured and cut the wood using a saw and coping tool, then he nailed it to the wall with a nail gun. I filled in the corners and nail holes with caulk and touched up the paint.

chalkboard6

And ta da! Before you let your kid at it, though, don’t forget to prep the board. Take a white piece of chalk (I used sidewalk chalk), turn it on its side, and rub it across the entire board. This gets messy! So don’t forget to cover the area with a drop cloth or thoroughly vacuum when you’re finished. When the entire board is covered in chalk, take a soft cloth or paper towel and rub it into the board, using circular motions. Finally, wipe it down with an eraser, and you’re ready to go!

chalkboard8

I lined the board with letters and numbers and homemade magnets and wrote “Samuel” across the middle, and I couldn’t wait to show it to our boy. The verdict? He is obsessed.

chalkboard1

There are few activities that occupy his attention for more than five minutes, but this is one of them.

chalkboard5

And, surprisingly, he’s kept the chalk within the confines of the frame. Though it does get all over his hands and pants. But what’s one more outfit change when we’re already used to him being covered in dirt?

chalkboard4

Eventually we’ll use the board to practice our ABCs and 123s, but for now it’s a great space to exercise his creativity. Always with Mr. Ribbit tucked under his arm, of course.

chalkboardwall

This is one of my favorite house projects to date! Speaking of house projects, we are fast approaching the one-year mark since we bought our home (crazy!), and I plan to do a full house tour next month. Stay tuned!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

04.18.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

There’s a cookie monster in our house. And his name is Sam.

samthebaker

If he hears the words cook or bake or chocolate or cookies or brownies, he immediately drags a chair across the kitchen and hops on top. He knows where to find the measuring spoons, and he gets upset if I try to use the whisk without him. He’s a great helper and never forgets to lick the spatula clean.

Perhaps we make too many sweets in this house?

Bah. No such thing.

pbchocchip

Here’s a recipe for one of our current favorite cookies. They come together quickly — no stand mixer involved. And we always have a few balls of dough in the freezer because there is nothing better than soft, warm cookies straight out of the oven. Bonus points when they also contain peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Print the Recipe)

Makes about 18 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Add butter and peanut butter to a microwave safe bowl, and heat in 30-second increments until melted. Cool completely.
  2. Combine flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together cooled butter/peanut butter mixture and sugars. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla; whisk until combined. Switch to a wooden spoon, and gradually add flour; mix until dough forms – it will look crumbly at first, but it will come together. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Use your hands to shape dough into balls the size of golf balls. Place on a baking sheet two inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly brown. The centers should be soft and puffy. Do not over bake.

(Adapted from How Sweet It Is)

Spring has Sprung

04.15.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

I believe it’s finally safe to say that spring is here to stay. Daytime temperatures have barely dropped below 50 degrees, and we’ve even seen the 70s several days. Trees are budding and daffodils are blooming, and I can almost hear the hum of the lawn mower.

spring01

spring02

spring03

Sam was barely big enough to truly enjoy the outdoors last year. But, oh boy, is he soaking it up now. Every morning he bangs on the door that leads to the backyard and stomps his pajama-bottomed feet on the floor and demands to go outside. No sooner do I get him changed and into his sneakers than he’s sprinting down the sidewalk or scaling the rocks.

outside02

outside03

He is obsessed with the dirt and now requires no less than three outfit changes per day. He shovels it and rakes it and carries it around the yard in his bucket. I have found it in his diaper and up his nose. He no longer owns a clean pair of shoes. He is fascinated by bugs and worms. He has scuffed his nose and skinned his right knee and rolled down the hill more times than I can count. He is all boy.

outside01

We have visited every park and playground within a 15-mile radius and have returned to our favorites several days in a row. Sam is still not a big fan of the swings — he would rather run and climb and crawl and slide. He thinks he’s such a big kid.

park05

park06

park04

We spent an entire morning collecting sticks and throwing rocks into the lake and yelling “duck duck duck.” And when he reached up to hold my hand while we walked along the water, my heart swelled.

park01

park02

park03

hands

Nana joined us one day, and he held her hand, too. I think it was her favorite moment of the weekend.

park10

park09

Lucy has been enjoying our company in the backyard, although it’s impossible to keep Sam’s colorful plastic toys out of her mouth.

lucy02

lucy01

Evening baths are now a necessity, and we’ve all been sleeping sounder after full days of fresh air. Spring, we love you so.

A Letter to Samuel on the 50th Anniversary of the Loss of the USS Thresher

04.10.2013 · Posted by Nick (The Culinary Couple)

Dear Samuel Woodford,

It’s no secret that you make your mother and I very proud. You are kind and generous. You are inquisitive. And you are devilishly cute. You certainly wear the Wiley name well.

I want to tell you today about your Great Uncle John, another Wiley to be very proud of.

John was born in Altoona — just like you, little buddy — and he was the second of six children, your Opa’s older brother.

wiley-family
In high school, John was recruited by several ivy league schools, but instead he chose to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated near the top of his class in 1961 and was presented his diploma by President John F. Kennedy.

john-wiley-1

Following graduation, John volunteered for submarine duty and was trained as a nuclear engineer. In December, 1962, he reported to duty to his first submarine: the USS Thresher. The Thresher was the best of its time — the Navy said that it could “dive deeper, move faster, and carry more weapons than any other submarine in the fleet.”

On April 10, 1963, the USS Thresher was tragically lost at sea, taking with it 129 crewmen and civilian personnel. The loss of the Thresher gripped the nation, and devastated the Wiley family, including John’s wife of just over a year.

john-wiley-2
Today, fifty years later, we honor Uncle John’s memory and the sacrifice made by those brave young men. I got to visit Portsmouth, New Hampshire this past weekend to commemorate the USS Thresher, and it was an experience that I will cherish.

Uncle John’s legacy lives on with the Wiley name, a name that you so admirably bear. I love you, big guy.

From Your Daddy

In Motion on Vine

04.09.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

Please tell me I’m not the only one whose iPhone is currently holding over 1,000 photos plus dozens of videos. Yes, it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Which means you get to enjoy a few videos from our wild and crazy and incredibly fun life. I created these short clips with the Vine app, which makes it really easy to record and share videos. You can find me on Vine @ Emily Wiley.

big slide from Emily Wiley on Vimeo.

pop pop machine from Emily Wiley on Vimeo.

plastic bags from Emily Wiley on Vimeo.

little Ikea builder from Emily Wiley on Vimeo.

throwing rocks from Emily Wiley on Vimeo.

Wednesday Randoms

04.03.2013 · Posted by Emily (The Culinary Couple)

I’m behind on blogging — about Lucy’s introduction to obedience class, Sam’s language development, the new color of our laundry room, and the peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I can’t stop eating. Until I have time to formulate my thoughts into a coherent post, here is an update via bullet points.

• There is a wonderful little historic town adjacent to ours. Each fall it is host to Ligonier Days to commemorate the 1758 battle of Fort Ligonier. We attended two years ago for our fill of history, fall foliage, and pumpkin whoopie pies. I also visited during my culinary tour of the Laurel Highlands. Two weekends ago we went back for the 4th annual Soup’s On Soup Walk and, once again, I was impressed by Ligonier’s community outreach. Also, I wish more small towns could prosper like it does. It was a fantastic afternoon with friends and tasty soups like roasted cauliflower and brie, butternut coconut curry, and lobster bisque.

ligonier

• During the soup walk, we met the girls behind eatPGH. I picked up a copy of their new book, and I can’t wait to start eating our way through it.

• Speaking of Pittsburgh eats, we finally tried Burgatory. And for the first time ever, I had a burger with an over easy egg on top of it. Trendy, yes, but it was pretty fantastic. We also ordered a chocolate peanut butter shake for the drive home. And Sam refused to share it. (This is exactly why we did not indulge in one of their famous hard shakes. Next time.)

shake

• I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We really hit the neighbor jackpot when we bought our house. They’ve helped to mulch our flower beds and shovel our driveway. They graciously invite us to use their pool and deliver homemade desserts to our doorstep. They’ve saved me when I was sick or just plain overwhelmed during a single parenting week. Yeah, we’re lucky. We’re also the “young kids” on the block — by about 20 years. But who cares. We celebrated a 50th birthday last weekend and everyone partied like we were still in college. We hired a babysitter (the teenage daughter of another neighbor — score!), I wore lipstick, and Nick drank a few too many cocktails. The party was in their home, but they have the most legit basement bar I have ever seen — complete with a 12-foot beautiful marble top bar, multiple flatscreen televisions, and a “last call” bell. So. Much. Fun.

fifty

• Here’s a sneak peek of our new laundry room and my most recent DIY project.

projects

• And, finally … Who You Gonna Call?

ghostbusters