feast magazine, july 2014: halloumi bites (and what i’ve been doing)

feast magazine july 2014: halloumi bites.

(*scribble scribble crumple*)  Did you hear that? It’s me writing things!

Apparently my whole entire being felt the need to take a break for *ahem* a month or something. It wasn’t planned, but looking back, it should have been: it seems as though there are two key things I repeatedly forget in both blogging and in life, which are:

  • I can’t actually do everything all at once, and
  • There are not unlimited hours in the day; wishing does not actually make that so.

Whoops.

So, good news, I have not been kidnapped Misery-style by a Kathy Bates-like person, nor have I lost use of my fingers. Yay? I’ll tell you what I have been up to, though, if you’re interested.

First, though, it’s halloumi season! Just kidding, halloumi knows no season, which is wonderful news, because you should eat it all year long. It has magical properties, friends: it can be grilled all by itself like a chicken, and instead of melting all over the place, it gets nice and crusty and hot on the outside and gooey on the inside. It’s a textural marvel, and makes sort of the best substitute for bread ever in things like salads and appetizers.

Take this little number, for instance: it’s a crostini-style bite but with halloumi as the stand-in where tiny toast would normally be. Honestly, the cheese is beautiful to eat on its own, but layered with crispy pancetta, watermelon, some mint and a little balsamic reduction? Mid-summer perfection. If the ingredient list doesn’t convince you to try it, I throw up my hands at you; I simply do not understand. And if any of those ingredients don’t suit you, switch them out: sub some fresh peach in for the watermelon, sub basil in for the mint, switch up the whole thing and throw a fat tomato slice on there with, the list goes on almost forever. Halloumi is mild, a little salty, and has a little echo of goat cheese in it, which means that almost any fruit or vegetable is fair game. The possibilities really are endless: just start with the cheese (and my recipe for Feast, found here) and let your mind wander.

feast magazine, july 2014: halloumi bites.

The July issue of Feast Magazine can be summed up in two words: breathtakingly beautiful. It’s summer on paper. It’s incredible. My favorite, favorite photos of produce – taken by the very talented Jonathan Gayman – are living in the middle of the issue, and they are surrounded by photos of farms, more farms, a drop-dead gorgeous seed emporium, and more luscious summer bounty than you could shake a blueberry bush at. Oh, and with from-scratch s’mores for dessert. Flip through the pages and I promise you you’ll understand why people live in the Midwest (I know some of you do not understand it; I question it sometimes myself, but never at this time of year.) Just go look: I guarantee it’s more fun than your friends’ 839,928 vacation photos of the beach they’re on / cocktail they’re drinking / sunset they’re witnessing.

Speaking of: I’m headed to Florida in 4 days. Yes, I am counting them down. No, I have not packed or cleaned yet. Yes, I do have to have an immaculate house before I leave town because I am slightly OCD and it’s just that much more depressing to be home if I do not. Everything in its right place.

I plan on writing and planning and cooking so much when I’m on vacation: I miss it. I haven’t been doing any of those things enough this past month, and I’m looking so forward to having the time to get back into it. After weeks of being gone, I find myself simply thrilled to get back to you, to this space, and to doing what I love.

Which leads me to why I’ve been (inadvertently) missing in action. Two big things factored into my June absence: my Wee One having her first post-school summer off, and me deciding to take on the dietary obstacle course/minefield better known as the Whole30 Challenge.

Don’t laugh. I know.

So, the Wee being home: parents, how fun is that, right? I thought this summer would be no sweat. I have a great kid, she was only in school half-days this year, how hard could it be to say, come up with an ENTIRE SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM FOR HER AT HOME? WITH THEME WEEKS! AND CRAFTS! AND FIELD TRIPS! AND GET ALL MY REGULAR WORK DONE! EASY PEASY!

I’m an idiot.

Evidently that’s not easy to do, even if you have the best kid. Because that kid doesn’t even get why you’re working when they’re here, and even if they’re playing all by themselves happily, they will pepper you with “mom. mom. hey mom. mom. mom. mom? mom.” every 2.5 minutes. Just so you feel included in their day.

But once I gave up even thinking about writing things, things fell into place, and we’ve had so much fun making things and learning all the stuff. I talk a lot to the Wee One (she loves an explanation, and I’m more than happy to supply her with one) so we’ve been making crafts and talking about them as we do them, which means we learned  all sorts of random things. for example:

summer camp 2014.

We learned that cotton comes from sheep, but that eventually, sheep come from cotton. Circle of life. (PSST: I know cotton comes from plants, and you know cotton comes from plants, but you try explaining why sheep walk around looking just like cotton when they’re not cotton to a 3 year old. For even more fun, try explaining wool and the difference between wool and cotton. Watch hilarity ensue.)

summer camp 2014.

We learned about chlorophyll, and why leaves are green and plentiful now but change color in the fall. We both agree blue should be one of the colors leave change into.

summer camp 2014.

We made a (foam) campfire for toasting marshmallows and hot dogs. Real fire isn’t nearly as cute as fake fire.

summer camp 2014.

We also built very tiny campfires…

summer camp 2014.

…for our very tiny Native American settlement. It’s amazing what you can do with construction paper, some toothpicks, fake plastic trees, and a glue gun. Always a glue gun.

summer camp 2014.

We discussed honeybees in-depth, although I’m positive Brianne could have done a much better job breaking down the information than I did. I believe I summed it up eloquently by informing the Wee One that without honeybees, everything would die, so we need to take care of them. By running like we are on fire if we see one in the backyard.

summer camp 2014.

We also learned how unbelievably fat and cute thumbprint bees are. And how much I draw like a 6 year old. The glitter is supposed to represent honey. It’s also supposed to represent how much glitter has happened this June.

summer camp 2014.

And it’s not all about learning, either: there’s been plenty of outdoor activities, very much like camp should be. We’ve taken long walks, collected leaves, and lounged around the pool. This was the Wee’s first year of backyard sprinkler action, and she went through Sprinkler 101 much like all of us did: first the fear, then the awesome, then the execution of questionable water safety technique. Seems as though telling a small child to hold their breath and pinch their nose when putting their face in the water works no matter how much water they’re actually putting their face in.

So as you can see, we’ve been busy learning about life, really. Also letters and numbers and some sight words. That may not be every 3-year-old’s idea of the most perfect summer ever, but to my little one, it is. Information and knowing things is her most favorite thing, much like her mother, I’m proud to say. We’ve also done tons of reading thanks to my genetic predisposition for quiet activities and the Saint Louis County Library’s always-wonderful summer reading program, which gives the kids little prizes for reading books over the summer. They have an adult version as well, which I participate in, but for whatever reason, they don’t supply my age group with water guns and beach balls. Perhaps they should revisit the adult prizes, because I love winning gift cards and things, but I mean, hello: water cannon.

And then there was the Whole30 Challenge I managed to get through this June. Have you heard of it? Natalie and I (either stupidly or very wisely) got hung up on doing this together a few months back, and we thought June would be a good time to give over our bodies to the power of health. If you’re familiar with her work, you’ll know that we’re pretty evenly matched: both of us eat pretty healthily in real life, with a side of pastries, soft pretzels, and peanut butter. We both exercise regularly, we both punk out on exercise regularly, and we both try to manage “fun” food and good food daily without getting crazy about it.

Enter the Whole30: it’s 30 days of no sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes. No alcohol, no white potatoes, no weird things like carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. Most importantly, no Paleo-ifying baked goods, desserts, or junk food. Which, for those of you keeping score at home, means I’ve eaten nothing but organic meats, eggs, vegetables and fruits for the past month.

Sound easy? It is not. This is the shopping list: that is the sum total of what you can eat (plus herbs and spices and whatnot.) Even for someone like me who eats relatively healthy food almost all the time. It is time-consuming as it is restricting, and it forces you to think in a very meaningful way about every single thing you put into your body. Oh, and forget actually going anywhere or doing anything which involves food in public: it’s virtually impossible to eat within the confines of Whole30 if you’re not making your food yourself. I’ll talk more about that in my next post, along with giving you a rundown of how Natalie and I managed to get through it without cheating (there were some touch-and-go moments, to be sure.) And if you’re interested in ever doing something like that, I’ll give you some survival tips for it, because it was indeed survival.

You may be wondering if this is my way of telling you that this space is converting into a cookie-less, sugarless, wheat-free universe. Friends, ha! Never: I say yes to all food. Blogging will resume as normal, and I daresay it may be improved, because stepping away for a minute tends to provide me with both energy and focus.

Until then (and I promise that will happen in a few days versus a month from now), go find some halloumi and make yourself some bite-sized stacks of something delicious. It’s that time of year where grilling and finger food is the best thing ever, especially when you can put them both together.

I owe you (geez, do I owe you!) a Just One Question Project installment too; don’t think I forgot. Thanks to all of you who answered the last question; that’ll be up soon as well.

If you want to see all that beautiful July bounty I talked about in action, check out this month’s Feast TV episode: the trailer is here, and the full-length version will be up next week after it airs locally. As always, you’ll find the recipe for the halloumi bites right this way. See you in a few days.

 

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29 Comments on "feast magazine, july 2014: halloumi bites (and what i’ve been doing)"

  1. Wendy says:

    Welcome back to the world of the blogging! (Not that I am one to talk these days.) I was truly in the midst of an email to you checking to make sure all was well. :) Glad to hear you have only been missing in action due to extreme summer camp activities and self-imposed baking deprivation. :) Your crafts, as always, are amazing. Are you or Wee One having the most fun at Camp Mom? The halloumi stacks look so summer-salad refreshing! Amazingly I have all of the ingredients on hand. Dinner tonight!
    p.s. Typo? Or am I just confused? “Cotton comes from sheep.” Meant to be “Wool comes from sheep”? Though your adorable sheep are made of cotton. Yes, I am definitely confused. :)

    • shannon says:

      Thank you, Wendy! We certainly all know how to take breaks from it, but i think that’s good for all of us. :) You know, you were on my list as well, because it’s been so long since we’ve had the chance to catch up, and we still have our lunch date to plan. It’s so nice to know that if i go missing you guys will check in on me. :)
      We are having very much fun, yes! She’s learning SO much and that makes me happy, but she’s also having a blast (without realizing how much learning she’s doing) so that makes me DOUBLE happy; i feel like she’s one step ahead going into the next school year, so that’s a win for both of us. You get bonus points for having all the ingredients on-hand! This one was a simple one, but definitely with a few items (namely the pancetta and halloumi) that not everyone has in regular rotation). Halloumi is so flexible flavor-wise that it’s fun to experiment with as well: i can think of 370 different stacks i could make with it! Such a bizarre and fun ingredient, to be sure.

      HA! no you are not confused: it was hard for her to grasp that cotton comes from plants because sheep LOOK like cotton? so i tried then to explain that wool (like her sweaters) come from sheep, but then that led to more confusion b/c all fabric to her IS “cotton” because it’s fabric? it’s interesting the way the 3yo mind works. so it was easier at some point to equate cotton to sheep, and vice versa. probably i should clarify that so everyone knows I ACTUALLY know cotton comes from plants and not sheep.

  2. 1. I am the same – I have to OCD clean before I leave town or else I will have to immediately OCD clean as soon as I get back. It’s the worst. I can’t vacation properly knowing I have dirty dishes at home or food rotting in the fridge, I just can’t. And I don’t know how people do.

    2. WE BEAT THE WHOLE 30 !!! *HIGH 5* I COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!

    3. You are CLEARLY the best mom ever. Know what my mom did when I was home from school in the summer? Locked me outside to force me to play with my friends. WASN’T EVEN ALLOWED IN MY OWN HOUSE! hahaha! And those crafts are SO CUTE I CAN’T TAKE IT!

    4. (I know this one’s out of order, but) OMG HALLOUMI I NEED IT NOW. Ugh. It looks like it would be perfect for a 4th of July app, amiright? Or am I right? Pretty sure I’m right.

    • shannon says:

      1. you know what’s disconcerting to me: when people DO NOT have to clean prior to vacationing. I knew exactly one family who literally just left everything – loads of laundry all over, things out – when they went out of town. I still think about it because it disturbed me that much: i just never knew how they could do that without thinking about it the entire time they’re gone. To make matters worse, when i return, i’ll IMMEDIATELY have to do a huge grocery shop and then clean AGAIN b/c Mr. Table comes home before i do. STRESS.

      2. *HIGH 5* YES! WE DID IT!! I seriously could have never done it without you either; in my writeup, i’m going to stress the importance of having a WholeBuddy to get through it.

      3. i’m clearly the most insane, but “best” is stretching it. :) If she was old enough to have friends or play independently outside, i may do the same, but i’m a pansy and don’t want her to be outside in the heat (because i don’t want to be outside in the heat either). :) We are a family of crafty people, i think: if it didn’t come naturally this would be a much harder summer. Turns out my people are gifted with popsicle sticks and glue guns.

      4. I know you have halloumi in the fridge. USE. IT! it would be perfect for the 4th, for sure. because watermelons? red. halloumi? white. and you could do one with berries, thus making a ‘blue’ addition maybe with blueberries and peaches or something. SO MUCH PATRIOTISM. and if you lose your mind with it completely, i bet you could cut stars out of the halloumi with cookie cutters.

      *drops mic

  3. Deb says:

    Oh It’s me, the one who always approves of taking breaks from blogging! I adore blogging but not at the expense of living life to the fullest. When my children were the age of the wee one I was working full time + and tucked my kids into fancy day care programs. I love that you are sharing the summer with your daughter! Enjoy the time as it truly does fly by! Happy summer!

    • shannon says:

      I appreciate the break encouragement! Seriously, we all need them, but normally mine are more planned and not because i just get so busy that everything falls by the wayside. I agree: you gotta let life happen first and let blogging happen around it, and this past month, there was too much life in there to make room for blogging, i guess. :)
      Spending the summer is definitely a blessing, and one i’m aware that not everyone gets to do. In fact, it seems most kids are tucked away in camps and programs, although those seem pretty fun as well (and i considered doing that with her as well just to give her a little more social time with her friends). We have our “cloudy” days, for sure, but it helps when i remember that she won’t want to do summers with me forever, so i may as well enjoy them with her now since i can. Happy summer to you as well, Deb! I can’t wait to catch up with my blog reading so i can see what glorious food you’ve been cooking up!

  4. You are the mom bomb! I never, and I mean never, was the kind of mom to my toddler who did crafts and themes. Sure we went to the library, and the pool, and did the sprinkler thing and the chalk thing, but we did not do the craft thing. I needed Pinterest then. Maybe, just maybe, I would have done crafts. Or maybe I would have admitted defeat and suggested we make bread or cookies, which was what I did those many years ago. My wee one will be 15 this year. Fifteen! I am shocked still. :) So our summer has consisted of me driving him to summer school and friends’ houses, and telling him to get off the computer or his phone and read a book or go outside. :) Not the cool mom, but can a mom of a teenager ever be the cool mom?

    You are also the diet bomb! I have vastly curtailed my bread/cookie/cake baking and eating and subsequently my blog has been limping along. I am currently tinkering with a gooey butter variation and it feels good! I love tweaking recipes and working out what will make it better next time. And it helps that this first attempt was less than stellar, so I am not eating the leftovers. Methinks I need to keep up the experiments and send them into dear hubby’s office. I need to cook and bake and tinker, but I need the products to be OUT of the house. Blogging and recipe development and eating healthy and losing a few pounds are not really good partners. Of course I have four partners there, so we are already talking disfunction before we even get started! Good for you for sticking with the clean eating! Any tips for the rest of us?

    I have never had haloumi. But I want it. And I want all the things on top of it. I think a trip to the store is in order. I have beautiful watermelon in the fridge. And beautiful nectarines on the counter (alas, from CA). Maybe I’ll wait to do peaches until I have a local stash. Question: can I use bacon, or will the smokiness overwhelm the haloumi? Should I seek out pancetta? I am going to the store for the haloumi after all…

    Go, girl! With the blogging and the vacation and the cleaning before you leave. Make no apologies or excuses for your cleaning habit. It is wonderful to know you are on vacation AND a clean house is waiting for you when you get home. It is the only way to go. Clean and pack like crazy, and it will make you crazy, and then galavant off on your vacation, leaving a clean house in your wake. Beautiful.

    Enjoy sunny Florida!

    • shannon says:

      Ha! nope…not the mom bomb (or at least not the nice way in which you mean it.) :) I honestly think that what parents do in the summer (or can do) depends largely on the child they are doing it with: stella is just that kid who loves crafts, and i’m decent at them, so we do them. I’m lucky that we like the same things, because she is my clone. if she were not, or if she were a he? I’d be lost. I have many friends who have kids her age that would get through about half of a craft and be like “PEACE OUT!” and be bored, so there’s nothing wrong with library trips and sprinklers and basically anything which will keep your kid happy and tire them out for sleeping. And having pinterest helps a lot: lots of my ideas are thought of in my brain, then vetted out using the help of photos on pinterest so i can see how to make whatever idea it was come to life. I never follow directions (go figure) but it’s a great place to source some ideas and gather your thoughts, for sure.

      I do not look forward to teenage summers. NOT AT ALL. and i admire anyone who is in the middle of a teen or pre-teen summer, because i remember the incessant demands i placed on my own mother when i was that age. as a kid you just don’t get what else you mom has to do and why they can’t work around your obviously important schedule of nothing. :) I feel for you!! You’re a cool mom probably for just not actually locking him in his room all summer.

      I’m proud of my diet achivements also, but i’m the same way you are: yay for cooking and baking and tweaking and experimenting and perfecting, but less yay for having 28 loaves of bread and some gooey butter cake hanging out in my kitchen. it’s hard to be around it without the constant taste-testing, so i need to also strategize a plan of making mr. table take all my food into work or taking it myself to places who would like it. Maybe we should strategize together, because i’ve often thought of checking even around local places (like retirement facilities/nursing homes, stella’s school, etc) too see if that’s something their staff would enjoy, but rules nowadays: with all the food allergies and so on and so forth, i don’t know how many places would accept (or be allowed to accept) food gifts. But someone has to in the future b/c i can’t keep “gifting myself” if you know what i mean. :) And i DO have tips! Real life ones that i hope are practical and helpful, and i’m working on putting that post together. Currently, i have the Frozen soundtrack blasting in the background and nonstop chatter from a Wee to contend with, so it’s slow going today, but tomorrow i’ll hopefully be able to post my whole30 rundown. I may be doing one again in the fall, and i definitely am going to do one in January, so if you need a friend to do it with, i’d be happy to be your buddy.

      Oh halloumi is so great! And no: bacon will not overwhelm the halloumi, so long as you’re using a good quality bacon and not one that has all that weirdo fake smoke flavor in it( like some turkey bacons have…you know that flavor that can choke you with fake taste). I used pancetta, but prosciutto would be good in there too. It doesn’t overwhelm the cheese because although the cheese is mild, it can take the flavor of bacon, and fruit, and really anything you throw at it. It holds its own simply by being a sturdy cheese. You’re safe! I recommend maybe even a thick cut bacon you get from a butcher…that would be really good. Pancetta, if you end up going with that, is easy to find: Dierbergs “stl italian” section (which is that refrigerated section with all the Volpi salami and italian cheeses, etc.) They have tons of italian meats in smaller packages, pancetta being one of them.

      I will enjoy the vaca, for sure! Let’s get together when we get back; i owe you an email.

  5. The Whole30 definition has me shaking in my boots. You are a brave, brave soul. It looks like you and Wee One have been having a ton of summer fun. 1. Cutest fire ever, and it’s even accompanied by pretend hotdogs and mallows. 2. The print of the leaves is amazing. You guys are pros. I would hang the set in my house. 3. Thumbprint bees are the way to go. And, glitter! I hope you have so much fun in Florida, and I can’t wait to see what you whip up. No worries, Shannon, you’re not alone, I, too, have to clean my house before I vacation.

    • shannon says:

      yeah: the whole30? it’s…”challenging.” sometimes in an “i want to fall flat on my face” way, but it’s doable! honestly if i can get through 30 days without, well, anything? anyone can. :)

      We had so much fun with those crafts, and the Wee was SO proud of herself for doing them: she really gets into things like that, and i’m so grateful that we like doing things together because it makes the days much easier.

      we will have a great time: this i know, because vacation always means fun food, and pools, and thrift stores, and that at least 3 other people are helping me manage the Wee at all times. I’m so happy to hear i’m not the weirdo for pre-cleaning before vacation, either! Because it’s necessary. end scene.

  6. I haven’t had halloumi in ages. Silly me — it’s good stuff. I’ve been wondering where you were. I’ll be interested in your report on the Whole 30. I’ll wait to do that until someone comes up with the whole 3000. ;-) Have a great time in Florida!

    • shannon says:

      Thanks, John! I shall have an excellent time in Florida; how could i not? :) Halloumi is pretty great: i haven’t had it since i turned in the article, but i plan to get some soon because it’s just too much fun to play with. The Whole30 report is coming up next, and it’s been nice in the writing of it to be able to look back on the month and remember what was hard and what was not as hard. Definitely a challenge, one way or the other, but i think worth doing. is that a spoiler? maybe. :)

  7. Faygie says:

    Oh, I feel ya — I’ve got all 3 girls home. It’s already been such a long summer, AND IT’S ONLY THE 1ST OF JULY. I’m so not into crafts, so I don’t do any of those fun things with them. They do love sprinkler time, though :) (which I try not to do too often, though, because: drought).

    I would never, EVER be able to do that Whole 30 diet. No grains, legumes, or dairy? Hell, no! I could maybe go a month without dairy, but I couldn’t survive without my grains and beans. I mean, I always couldn’t live without them, because I love them so much. But I’ve been eating completely vegetarian for over a month now, so now I REALLY couldn’t live without them! I’ve just never been a big fan of meat (and by “meat” I mean all animals, not just cows), and in the last few months it’s just gotten less and less appealing, to the point where it sort of grosses me out. I’ve been eating mostly plant-based foods, with a bit of dairy & eggs, and I feel so good! I do still cook meat for Chaim and the kids once or twice a week, and I’ll just eat something different (or modify what I’m making for them). I’m not sure yet if I’m going to be vegetarian permanently, but so far I really like it.

    Have a great Florida vacation!!

    • shannon says:

      oh i know you do, Faygie: sometimes when i see photos of your sweet kiddos on FB i think about how grueling that must be on some level to have them all at school during the year and them boom: all at home, all at once. SO HARD! fun in its own way, but definitely a challenge (some days more than others).

      It was…it was difficult. In some ways it was easier than i anticipated (or maybe the word is “more enjoyable”), but in some ways it was really much harder than i thought it would be. I missed cheese and dairy, but once you get rolling, it’s actually the easiest thing to live without; beans and grains, on the other hand, i didn’t “miss” as much but then i realized i eat them all the time and it was weird not to eat them. I’m also not a huge fan of meat (same meaning as you there), for a few reasons: so expensive for the good stuff, not a huge fan of preparing it, and as i’ve gotten older i’ve just had less of a taste for it except for sometimes, and usually that’s when someone else is making it FOR me. So i get it! During the first week on it, i made sure i had meat prepared, but by the second week, it was mostly all plant-based and allowed foods, with eggs in the morning. I felt great, but my energy levels lagged, probably due to not getting enough protein. I’ve noticed you eating lots of vegetarian meals (why do i sound like a stalker? Dang facebook feed!) and i was wondering if you made the switch permanently or not. it’s hard to sort of label yourself sometimes with things like that b/c then as soon as you’re like “i’m vegetarian!” you’re cancelling meat 100%, and i know i’d have a difficult time ruling it out totally: i like to leave my options open. ;) But eating vegetarian is certainly a great feeling: this diet has really sort of geared me towards eating like that more in my daily life for sure.

      I will! and i’ll be around so you’ll see food from there too: i think you especially will like it b/c i’m taking cookbooks i know you have (and i know you’re cooking from currently, so you may get an email from me re: recommendations from the OSG cookbook.) ;)

      • Faygie says:

        I am still completely obsessed with the OGS Cookbook, so I’d love to give you some recommendations :) There’s still a lot that I haven’t made from it yet that I need to try, though.

        • shannon says:

          It looks so good! i haven’t had the opportunity to make anything yet from it due to the Whole30 and me just needing to get through that, but i’ve bookmarked some things that i’m excited to try. Shoot me an email if you know, you’re bored or something (hahaha because that happens never in the summer, i’m sure) and tell me what you’ve tried/liked so far. I’d love to know!

  8. Brianne says:

    Oh my gosh, you are living the life! I love everything about this update. The halloumi–yes! The one time we tried it, we definitely grilled it, then mowed it all down straight up before I could even think about ways to dress it up. SO good. And teaching the Wee One all the things! Especially the bees! I’m going to make thumbprint bee art for my office. There will most definitely be gold glitter honey. The leaf lesson is equally amazing. I would love to hear more about how Whole30 went. I’m not sure I’d ever do it, but I am curious to learn how someone pulls it off.

    Have so much fun in Florida!!

    • shannon says:

      That, coming from someone who spends her days by the sea watching surfing and soaking up the sun probably to come home to fresh lobster, is high praise. :) I am living the midwestern mom life, to be sure. :) Halloumi is so good, right? I don’t know why i’d never tried it until recently: i used to see it in UK cookbooks often but just never got ’round to finding it in the store, which was a big mistake.

      I did those bees JUST FOR YOU! we actually talked about them this morning on our walk, because she saw one and we have to discuss everything we see. Bee art is the best, as was the leaf art: i’m pretty amazed that one turned out as well as it did, because 3yo’s dipping leaves in paint? could get crazy, if you what i mean.

      i’m going to do a post here probably tomorrow about my experience with the whole30, what was hard and not hard, and maybe some tips for people who might be interested in trying it. Definitely something that’s not the easiest to get through, but it can be done, even by people who love pie and cake. :) There will be tips galore because that’s the one thing about it: you learn what works and what doesn’t work pretty fast.

      we will! we can’t wait: today is my finish cleaning/make final post it lists of things we need to do day, so cross your fingers. so many lists going right now; this is officially the day i sort of hate because i feel like there’s too many things to do and not enough time to do them in.

  9. So much awesome crammed into a single post! Like pretty much everyone here, I too have to have a clean house when I leave for vaca – there is nothing more depressing than coming home to a big mess! I’ve done the Whole 30 twice now and I’m contemplating a third time – If I’d have known you were doing it I might have joined you…or not – it’s brutal in the summer with all those cookouts and margaritas to be had! Can’t wait to read about your experience with it! The dairy and bourbon or occasional glass of wine were always the hardest to give up for me! It was worth it though – felt great by the end of it and always lost weight too which is never a bad thing! As a homeschooling parent I read about your craftstravaganza (also mom, mom, mom, hey mom!) and thought “welcome to my world ALL YEAR LONG!” It’s both awesome and exhausting because yes, you are responsible for keeping your child busy, happy, and learning ALL THE TIME. It makes getting anything else done really hard! I’m in awe of your patience and ability to churn out that much adorable stuff in a single month – you are obviously a rock star! Aaaaand now I want to put glitter bees on everything I own…

    • shannon says:

      Im seriously happy to hear i’m not alone in this: in fact, i’m in the majority (if you all are any indication of normalcy, although…) ;) Agree: it’s depressing to be done with any vacation, but to have the added bonus of dirty laundry and dust? NO THANKS.

      I’m planning to do another Whole30 in the future – possibly september but definitely a January one – so we’ll talk and we can totally do it together next time! I think everyone has their own specific things that are hard to give up: for me it was cheese, i think, mainly because it was my go-to for snacks during the day. At get-togethers, it was the glass of wine i’d have. But no matter what, it’s HARD and it’s hard in myriad ways; good for you for doing a few of them now! I’ll be stalking your blog b/c i’m almost positive you wrote it up, and i’d like to see what your thoughts on it were as well. It’s a nice bonus to lose weight with it, for sure: the first week sucked, but as i started to feel better and lose a few pounds, it made it more worth it and helped keep me going.

      I BOW TO ALL HOME SCHOOL MOMS. it’s so, so taxing mentally to be on all the time and to always be thinking of creative ways to teach kids things, right? I’ve mentioned to Mr. Table that i would be a great home school parent if i dropped every single other thing i did every day: i just don’t have the skills to multitask in that way and i could do nothing but spend day and night creating and executing and it would be INSANE. i admire you so much right now. I should make you some glitter bees. :)

  10. Ashley says:

    How do I enroll myself in that awesome summer camp with Wee One??? Because I want to do all that awesome stuff! You’re seriously amazing and she’s going to be such a smart and clever and crafty cookie!

    Also, I have halloumi in my fridge right now. Untouched, since I haven’t yet made the recipe I planned (Feast/Sarah Copeland’s pea-avocado-halloumi tacos). So you know what’s going to happen. Your halloumi bites, followed by another trip to TJ’s for more halloumi.

  11. You are having a glorious summer. well, except for maybe the food? I am so excited to hear what you have to say about this. I’m afraid if I did it that I might end up with a dead Manservant next to me. It quite possibly could drive me crazy. Love halloumi! And I love these crafts. I used to do them, too and sometimes I miss them. What I miss more are the kids. Enjoy. It goes way too fast.

  12. Mimi says:

    Kudos for doing the challenge. I’ve never had an unhealthy diet – in fact, it’s almost 100% raw diet in the summer. But going without wine? NO! I could give up just about anything but that!!! My first grandbaby is coming in September, and I’m wondering how my blogging life will change. I honestly don’t know how you youngsters do it. To me, it’s like a full time job as it is!!! Hang in there!

    • shannon says:

      Thanks, Mimi! I applaud you for being raw; honestly, that’s one of the few diets that would be almost impossible for me to undertake, and i don’t know how people do it, but i think it’s awesome! As is wine, let’s be honest. ;) Congrats on your upcoming first grandbaby! If she lives in close proximity to you, i imagine you’ll experience some blogging changes for sure, but obviously in such a great way! I didn’t start blogging until the Wee One was one, so i never went through the no baby/whoa baby transition, but i do know that every few months i feel like i have to transition something in order to accomodate our schedule and to allow enough time spent together…it’s hard! but like everything, it’s totally a balance, and we get thrown off our schedule all the time, but we manage. :)

  13. Monica says:

    Your daughter is one lucky girl to have such a crafty, thoughtful, sweet mom! Your “summer camp” looks incredible…the neighbors better not find out or you’re going to have children lined up outside your door every morning! : ) I’m amazed you have any time to cook at all with that camp schedule. I’ve ever had halloumi though I’ve been curious and would love to try it this way. Looks healthy and delicious. The Whole30 Challenge sounds intriguing and…well…challenging!

    • shannon says:

      Thanks so much, Monica! I’ve tried to keep it under wraps because I didn’t want the neighborhood kids catching wind of the projects going on here. Although given some of the things i see out my window with them (especially the teens), there’s a part of me that wants to wrangle them up and make them make thumbprint bees and miniature teepee settlements just to keep them out of trouble. ;)
      You know, i wouldn’t normally have time to cook with the summer camp schedule, but the Wee One is so good at letting me go back and forth with it: we do something campy, then i prep things for a meal. we go outside, then i make something, etc. She’s lived with nothing but cooking her entire life, so i think she just thinks of it as part of our day.

      Halloumi is fun, especially in the summertime when you have a bounty of things to top it with (it’s perfect with salads and fresh produce.) It’s like you’re eating cheese without feeling like you’re eating heavy cheese, you know? The whole30 was a challenge, to be sure: something i’d do again, and it may be easier the next time, but it’ll still be difficult, i imagine.

  14. Aaaah, your little summer camp projects with the Wee one are SO ADORABLE! Not just adorable, though, but equally full of awesome and learning! I love it. I was homeschooled (which I absolutely loved and wouldn’t trade for anything), but I’m a little bit sad that my parents weren’t as craft-tastic as you are. At the same time, I’ve done a LOT of childcare (no kids of my own, but was a nanny/sitter for six years or so), and I know how tiring it can be to try to plan fun, educational games and activities all the time. I’m pretty sure you deserve an award for best mom ever.

    Also, confession time: I’ve never had halloumi before. To be honest, I had to think long and hard when I read the title of the post to remember that it’s a cheese, even. Your write-up for Feast has me absolutely drooling, though, so now I’m on the lookout the next time I pass by the cheese counter. Halloumi, here I come!

    • shannon says:

      HAHAHAHA thank you, Willow! that’s high praise coming from a home-school background, because homeschool parents have to like, kick butt at LIFE to do that for their kids. Craftasticness runs in the genes on my mom’s side: we could probably build a seaworthy vessel that slept 8 if you gave us the right foamcore and glue, so. :) It can be so tiring though; i sometimes hate saying it because i never want to give the impression that the Wee One exhausts me (on the contrary, compared to any other kid she’s like, the easiest, and it thrills me to watch her learn and experience things in her own sweet way), but yes: keeping up with them is oddly hard and makes you feel like an 85 year old woman at times. I think it’s just a lot of thought, and staying ahead of the game that really does me in: she’s very inquisitive, and that’s brilliant, but you are literally answering a question about something major every 7 seconds. I’m sure you know from being a nanny that nothing takes it out of you like the continual knowledge flow. :)

      that’s okay! i had never had halloumi until recently, but i had meant to for a long time. I always thought it was going to be difficult to find, but really, it’s not, and it’s super easy to mess with; there’s almost no way to screw it up. Summer is pretty great for playing around with it too, because it pairs so nicely with any brightly-flavored produce. If you don’t see it, ask: i know for instance that Whole Foods doesn’t keep it in with their “We Are So Fancy” cheeses, but rather along that one refrigerated side near the Paneer and the more “packaged” cheeses, if that helps.

  15. Oh my gosh, I’m almost a month late to comment on this!! Bad amy. This recipe looks SO GOOD. Have I told you that watermelon has been my best friend this summer/pregnancy? It’s just so so refreshing. LOVE that you put this on cheese instead of toast! I need it in my life, like yesterday.
    Your crafts with the wee one are adorable! (and so is she). Also, I totally wanna run thru a sprinkler…

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