Friday, September 6, 2013

A New Beginning

And just like that, my little boy is off to his first day of preschool.

Off to learn and grow and become more of who he will be in life. Off to, step-by-step, become a more separate individual, someone apart from me and his dad. This is all good, I know...but it's a bittersweet breaking away that makes me stop and say, "Hey wait...that's my boy, getting so big!" When you carry someone in your body and birth them and watch them grow from a helpless baby who can do nothing to a little person who can talk, reason, remember, imagine, connect, and play it's an amazing step to send them out into the world - albeit a safe, small preschool world. I already have a lump in my throat just thinking of what the first day of kindergarten will be like.
I'm sure I'll enjoy my 3 hours, two days a week spending some one-on-one time with Hazel (much deserved on her part!), but I can't help but miss my sweet boy already. It's an exciting and new beginning that I'm grateful for for him to learn and meet people, and to digest what it is to be a part of a group, listen to a teacher, and learn to play with his peers. It's also an ending to our smaller world filled with just his family and close friends. It is a wonderful thing to learn from others, to learn to trust his neighbors, and to learn more about the world around him near and far...and we're blessed to give him this opportunity.
I'm told that a group of three-year-olds begin their preschool year as a pack of wild animals, and that when they leave for the summer they're a completely different group...more like a pack of tamed animals perhaps. A friend of mine's mom has lived by the philosophy that "every stage gets better," when it comes to kids and that's something I've been trying to stay rooted in, instead of focusing too much on what has been or what is "lost." Going off to preschool is a big first step though, among many steps to come, so it's hard to not be nostalgic for this ending. An ending of his baby-hood; the beginning of the ending of his "wild animal," unschooled-ness. Look at those name-tags, it's killing me!

I look forward to the confidence he'll gain in is own self, in meeting people, in listening to directions, in accomplishing tasks that may seem simple to us but are fundamental in cultivating a little person's identity in life. And so begins this year of discovery, socialization, and wonder.

Go get 'em, Soy're a stud and a stand-up guy!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Father Knows Best: Garlic-Cilantro Salmon

My dad makes hands down, the best salmon dinner I have ever had. I hesitate to even order salmon at a restaurant because I'm fairly confident I'd just be disappointed.

I bought him this Quick and Easy Thai cookbook several years ago that I figured he'd like, and he's made several delish recipes from it, all to our family's delight (remember the Khao Soi?). Even if you don't fancy yourself a chef or a seafood maker, please please don't count yourself out on this one. You really would be doing yourself and whoever dines with you a disservice. I think it's smart to make a few more fillets than you need so that you can have leftovers that will be gobbled up the next day and are also excellent for putting in a salad, omelet, etc.

Here's what you'll need: 
3 TBSP coarsely chopped garlic
3 TBSP coarsely chopped fresh cilantro stems and leaves
2 TBSP fish sauce (don't skip in this, it is key - find it in your international aisle)
1 TBSP soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP vegetable oil
6-8 salmon fillets (frozen will turn out excellently)

Here are the easy steps:
In a small food processor, combine garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and oil. Grind to a smooth paste, stopping now and then to scrape down the sides and adding a little water as needed to bring the ingredients together. Give your precious baby a bottle so she won't get in the way of the prep work!

Look at all that garlic! Scrape into medium bowl, add the fish fillets, and toss to coat everything well. Set aside for 20-30 minutes. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place fish on lightly oiled grill rack (with tin foil on pan underneath to prevent drippings from burning. Cook until slightly browned and done to your liking, carefully turning once, about 5 minutes on each side or longer for thicker fillets.

If you want to keep things simple, just bake them in a 13x9 pan. You don't even have to marinade them...just place the fillets in, best side down and baste on the marinade. Cook for 5 minutes on the first side, then flip, adding the rest of the marinade to the fish. Cook another 5-10 minutes until salmon flakes, but don't overcook.

My dad typically serves the fish with asparagus (sauteed with mushrooms, olive oil, and soy sauce) and a rice dish, so plan accordingly! This salmon is EXCELLENT for leftovers and can be used in a multitude of dishes. I hope you'll try this recipe and love it!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs

There are a handful of go-to recipes that are classics in our family...the ones you always bring out when you know what you're gonna get and you know it's going to be scrumptious. My brother Jakob and my sister-in-law Jessica introduced us to Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs several years ago and we've never been the same since! Anything with rosemary is typically a hit with me, so combine ranch and juicy, tender chicken and we've got a winner.

This chicken is a summer essential for the grill and is absolutely delish, not to mention fool-proof. There's just something about it that always turns out right...I think the white vinegar tenderizes the chicken to perfection. I think it was originally from AllRecipes but we've adopted it as our own and I like to assume it will live on for generations of Ondreys to come. Here's the recipe for six.

Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ranch dressing
3 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
1 TBSP white sugar, or to taste (optional)
5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Place chicken in the bowl, and stir to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.
3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear. Serve with roasted vegetables or other preferred sides. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Love a Parade

Our fourth of July began with a trip to nearby Mayville, New York where we attended their annual Independence Day and every other fire truck in about a 100 mile radius. This parade, though humble in its presentation, is NOT lacking in fire engines of every kind and from every county! Seriously, if your child likes fire trucks you won't be disappointed.

Jessica and I painted some festive shirts for the kiddos who would be in attendance at the parade so that they could show their holiday spirit. A 5-pack of Hanes t-shirts and some paint can give you the American shirt you're looking for without paying much for it!
It's also not lacking in CANDY! Sawyer and cousin Calvin made out like bandits on the candy front, especially Calvin who is a man on the move! When Sawyer wasn't chilling in his camp chair or shielding his ears from the fire truck horns, I think he actually enjoyed himself. What can I say, he's never been a fan of loud noises.

The parade also had its disturbing fair share of displays espousing Tea Party politics as well as a healthy dose of church "floats" who inadvertently professed their inseparable and simultaneous allegiance to the US of A and God, but that's a blog post for another day so I won't go there.

After the parade we enjoyed some back yard relaxing Ondrey style and ended the day with sparklers and a few fireworks.

Aside from totally ruining my pulled pork that was planned for dinner, all in all it was a great day spent with family. My brother Taylor and his family arrived Friday night and we all spent the weekend enjoying the outdoors, watching the kids and babies do their thing, and taking it easy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Sawyer was overdue for a haircut and we couldn't avoid it any longer! We stayed strong and didn't relent until all the hair was buzzed off for a perfect summer 'do. It's always a bit sad to cut your little boy's hair because he inevitably ends up looking so much older, but just looking at the boy now I feel less sweaty. It HAD to go!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hot Off the Presses!

Check out some of my newest wares! I designed a poster series for Chautauqua Institution...a nearby vacation/resort/community/cultural center on the lake. The prints feature iconic landmarks from the Institution including the Amphitheater, the Athenaeum Hotel, the Miller Bell Tower, the Bestor Plaza fountain, the Hall of Philosophy, and the lake itself. Each 12x18 inch design is available in yellow, gray, green, or blue.

I think they are simple, but the best of ways! Hopefully their modern design will provide a fresh and appealing art option for the vacationers this summer. The Chautauqua Bookstore is stocking the prints and they are hot off the presses! It's an honor to have a real live brick-and-mortar store stocking my goods...hopefully they'll sell like hotcakes!

I've got the posters for sale in my Etsy store as well, so check them out if you are interested!