Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Recycle Bin Advent Calendar
Crafty Crow Advent Calendar Smorgasboard
Or just spend some green!
Better late than never - they won't know!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Lately Monkey has been really into the trappings and traditions of holidays. Birthdays are all about cake, candles, parties and presents. He's got that down. He even knows that Santa brings him a present (not sure why but he's down with it). He doesn't want to go near Santa mind you - but he wants him to bring him some loot. Monkey has decided he wants a marble maze. He's been looking at catalogs and that's what he's landed on the past week or so. Today in the car he spied some Christmas lights and he spontaneously shouted, "I want the marbles that go round and round and round for Christmas. I so excited!" So this year he gets it that we just had Thanksgiving and next is Christmas - more food, fun, family and presents. What could be better? To capitalize on all this excitement (and to maybe slow down the, "is it Christmas yet?" questions) I decided to start a tradition with an advent calendar. I originally wanted a little house with drawers and such but they cost an arm & a leg and we're attempting to tighten our belts.
Luckily, I got some great ideas from Kids Craft Weekly. My goal was to use only paper and materials I had on hand. I dug up enough paper but couldn't round up enough ribbon to match. So I decided to make the handles of the cups out of the paper I was using. It would have been great if I had a mini stapler (or wasn't out of staples) but I had some double-stick tape. I was home free! But the next day I saw the tape wasn't holding and half the handles had popped off. So time for regular tape on top of the double-stick (so for those playing at home use a mini stapler!). Finally, to top it off, I did buy some 97 cent ribbon and a package of mini clothespins. So I spent about $2.50 for this project and that's well below the over $100 for the coveted house advent calendar.
It turned out pretty good and was relatively easy. You could still get one done if you're so inclined. I'm filling each cup with a small slip of paper with an activity and a small treat. Some will be inexpensive toys and some will be edible. Many things I already have won't fit in the cups so I'll put "look in your toy box for a surprise" if it's too big. I put it up after Monkey went to bed so I'm excited for him to see it this morning!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I thought I'd compile some interesting options. We all know the main players (Shutterfly is my favorite, Kodak Gallery and Snapfish) but here are some off the beaten path ideas:
Photobooks (okay, they are all over the place but this site (MyPublisher.com) gives you software to download so you create the book on your own computer and then upload - no waiting for pix to render, etc.) I was so frustrated when I made my free Oprah book on Snapfish (not a book about Oprah - but the deal was from the Oprah show). Everybody and their dog was on the site so it took forever!
Notepads, shopping lists, lined pads, etc. PicPads makes cute little notepads for pure Grandparent pleasure. Great for a fundraiser, big birthday or wedding chotchkies too.
Inexpensive (and green) photo mounting at Plywerk. They mount your photos on plywood and voila, instant art ready to hang. Check out this weeks Seattle Picks for a 25% discount until Dec. 5th.
There's more but I have to go get ready for the influx of parents picking up wreaths from my garage! If you have any great photo gift ideas please comment!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Check out my latest pick (Doing Good - One Bite At a Time) on Seattle Picks and I do hope you'll attend a Guest Chef Night at FareStart. FareStart is one of my favorite organizations. They help disadvantaged & homeless men & women get back on track through a great training program in food services. They even have a barista youth program. Seriously, check them out. If you have a tradition of giving to a charity each year - FareStart is worth a gander.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The inspiration (and directions) for the calendar are from Kids Craft Weekly. I highly recommend this site and e-letter. Amber puts out a free email newsletter with all sorts of great ideas for crafting (with kids of course). She also just put out a Christmas Craft book for $5.00. It's a great way to kick start the season. Seriously, check out this site and get to it!
Another one you may already know about is the Crafty Crow. They pull from all over the blogosphere and grab great crafty ideas. I love this site just for the awe (and ahhhhh!) factor. I am SO not as crafty as these people! But I aspire and it's nice to read and think - someday. Maybe.
Enjoy! Oh and here is a direct link to the directions for the advent calendar I'm attempting. It's the one with the origami cups. Wish me luck! All the ones to buy were too far out of the budget - paper is just right!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Click to read my latest my latest pick on seattlepicks.com (Designer Burgers). I originally titled it "Girl Meets Burger" or "Chem 101" I also had written a blurb for Asher Anson but another writer snaked me. Dang!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
We wait so anxiously for these events, not realizing that each one erases our baby and replaces him bit by bit with . . . a big boy! The last milestone on this crazy rocket ride was achieved last weekend - the big boy bed. Monkey was a bit late on this one (transitions are tough for my boy). My mom even tried a super-cool firetruck toddler bed. He talked about sleeping in it a lot . . . but it was all talk. Although it was a great toy for firefighter play - we rode to fires many times a day in that bed - no sleeping was ever done. But I guess we don't give him enough credit because all the wondering about how a teenager would fit in a crib was for naught. We came back from vacation and he told us he was ready to take apart the crib with daddy. So Friday evening they did just that and he slept in his new bed for the first time. He slept through the night and everything (although I certainly didn't - I was in and out of there like a jackrabbit). Around midnight I found his head and shoulders hanging off the bed. He spoke rapidly for about a minute while I moved him (something about a house) then sighed and drifted off. So here we are with a big boy. And yes Monkey, "I so proud-a-you."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
We're back, we're tired and Monkey is whipped up into a frenzy! M and Monkey are currently taking apart the crib with tools . . . wish us luck with the big boy bed transition. YIKES!
I'll get back to posting if we get some sleep tonight (not likely!) but in the meantime check out where we stayed the past week: Alderbrook Resort on Hood Canal and Colette's Bed & Breakfast near Port Angeles.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
My advice to you? Pre-read your selections before checking them out! Aside from the annoying books we've brought home we've picked out some wonderful books but books that have made for some awkward discussions with a toddler. Now on to the books (which truly are great books and perfect for a child going through a tough situation):
A few months ago we got to discuss death after reading The Forever Dog. This is a touching story about a little boy whose dog dies. The premise is that he'd made a pact with his dog that they'd be "friends forever" and after the dog dies the boy is mad that the dog broke the pact. The mother talks with the boy and tells him that his dog will be forever in his heart (thus the forever dog). I think this is a perfect book for a child who has lost a pet . . . but not necessarily for MY child who has not! Let's just say we talked about lot about death and such while we had that book on loan. We probably read it at least twice a day - so it's a great book but know what you're getting into!
The most recent selection Now One Foot, Now the Other (down to once a day now) completely made me cry on first read. This book is a very sweet story about a little boy whose grandfather (his best friend) has a stroke. Luckily there's no death in this one because I don't think I could have handled introducing Monkey to the possibility that his grandfather might die. It really affected me much more than Monkey. Truly, I'm glad we got this book because it is very touching and we've had good discussions about how people are different, etc. (The grandfather "sounded like a monster" when he was first trying to talk after coming home). The premise is that the grandfather taught Bobby to walk (now one foot, now the other) and after he comes home they switch roles and Bobby helps his Grandfather. There's more about building towers, elephants and sneezing (which Logan loves) but I'll let you read it for yourself.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Last year we fashioned a Bob the Builder costume (complete with a little tool belt I got at Top Ten Toys) but alas, he would have nothing to do with it when the day came around. We decided he'd go as "obstinate boy" instead. We still had fun and with the crush of kids and coats hardly anyone noticed he wasn't wearing a costume.
Every year I create calendars for my parents. I use pictures from each month the year before of (you guessed it) Monkey. Well, for October the year before I had very sweet photos of Monkey in his lion costume and with pumpkins, etc. Well this year all I could scrounge up were a photo of him as "obstinate boy" with his first sucker and one with a jack'o'lantern bucket on his head. The caption for October reads, "Nothing says Halloween like a sucker and a bucket on your head." Let's hope this year we'll have some better picture opportunities.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Did you know purple beans turn green when you cook them? Very confusing and a bit disappointing for Monkey (which is why I took these pictures so he would remember the before while looking at the after).
Monday, September 29, 2008
In the light of the sober morning I freaked out again but we were a go. The wedding was on a Friday evening so we decided to hit the Lake City Farmer's Market on Thursday afternoon to pick flowers for tables and hand-held bouquets. I dropped Monkey at A's house (thank you!) and we jetted off with buckets in the back of R's van. We didn't have a lot of preconceived ideas except for dahlias and something that would work with the sage and fuchsia ribbon R had bought to go with the dress sashes.
It was touch and go there for a while but they turned out beautiful in the end. I would advise anyone to make your own (or a friend's) bouquets. It's not as hard as we thought (and R's THANKFULLY not a picky or crazy bride - like I was). Here's what you'll need and some lessons learned:
1) Pick sturdy flowers (a flower that stays for a week or so in the vase). Don't pick anything too delicate.
Tip: Buy more flowers than you think you need. You can always put some in a vase if you have extra. Once you get down to the business of stripping the leaves, etc. there will be some breakage and some not as straight, etc.
2) Green florist tape (sites suggested wire but we didn't use any since we were working with sturdy stems)
Tip: it's easier if you have a friend to hold the stems tightly while you wrap
3) Ribbon to wrap stems (wider is easier)
4) "pearl" tipped pins
5) GOOD scissors to cut the ribbon
6) Crap scissors (or clippers) to cut the flowers
7) Hot glue gun
Creating the bouquets
This was the scariest part for me but it wasn't that tough once I got going. First, choose thick ribbon. We had one thick ribbon (easy) and one pretty thin (harder to keep it straight). I made a practice bunch of stems to try out the wrap before doing the real bouquets.
First, take them out of the water and dry off the stems. Continue wrapping the stems with the florist tape to give your ribbon a smoother surface.
If you want to cover the end of the stems (and you don't have to) cut two pieces of ribbon and hot glue them in a cross on the bottom (go up the sides on each as you'll cover with the main wrap).
Start wrapping at the bottom and swirl upward. I folded a bit of the ribbon over to give a clean end, wrapped around a few times and then secured with a pearl topped pin. I continued up to the top (keep it tight and don't be afraid to start over if it gets loose). Once you get to the top secure with more pins (you can do a line of pins down the side or just keep a few at the top). We decided to put some tails on the end of each bouquet so I just threaded thin ribbon through the cross at the bottom and tied.
Now go out there and make a bouquet! I wish I had a little girl because it would be fun to make some for dress-up. Monkey's a bit more interested in throwing the bouquet than carrying it.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
What you need:
a bunch of green beans (or any type of long beans). We use an assortment of purple, yellow wax and green. The small green beans work the best because they get sweet. If you're buying at the store I'd do string beans or green beans. It would be interesting to try Chinese long beans (but I never have).
Some olive oil
salt & pepper
1-2 cloves garlic (minced) optional (but I say essential!)
Preheat oven to 450
Trim your beans
Toss beans with some olive oil and lay on a baking sheet (rimmed) in as close to a single layer that you can get
Roast for about 10 minutes (shake pan 1/2-way through) until browned a bit and tender.
Sprinkle garlic on the beans and salt/pepper to taste and roast about 1-3 minutes longer (don't burn the garlic)
Transfer to bowl and serve
roasted red pepper
splash of lemon juice (right before serving)
splash of vinegar (right before serving)
red pepper flakes or chili oil
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
My friend A & I went to see the Counting Crows & Maroon 5 at the White River Amphitheater Sunday night. I'd never been to this venue and I have to say it was pretty cool. We were in the FRONT ROW so really how could it not be cool?!! But it does seem like a decent outdoor venue and a whole lot closer than the Gorge which is what is needed on a Sunday night.
I won the tickets by being the 10th caller on The Mountain (radio station). I was calling with both my cell and home phone and I got through on my cell. I was amazed (and just like every other caller you hear winning on the radio)! All in all we had a great time at the show. A got a guitar pick (and I think she is still buzzing about that) and we had a nice time away from the kiddos. I'm not much into Maroon 5 but they put on a good show. Counting Crows I love (but maybe not quite as much as A does) and it was fun to see them up close and personal AND they did mostly old stuff so YEAH for me! The staff around us were really friendly and nice (which can be rare in concert security) which is great since they're basically right in front of you the whole concert! One guy was taking pictures for people and he also found a bunch of kids during the Maroon5 set and brought them up front. This one little girl knew all the words and was really getting down. So cute!
All these people around us had cameras and if I'd known I could bring my camera I would have! Luckily, A has a blackberry so we snapped a few photos for posterity (and the blog of course). Enjoy!
Monday, September 22, 2008
While we were vacationing at the beach this summer we made a few interesting finds. We found some egg casings on the beach which we didn't recognize (and I'd never seen before in all these years going to Vashon) and a crazy-huge black & white bug with amazingly long black & white striped antennae. Now in the "old" days we'd say, "Wow, I wonder what that is?" and if we remembered later we might try to look them up in a reference book. But really, we wouldn't remember by the time we were anywhere near a reference book. Well, this time I snapped some pix and then searched on Google using my wireless laptop on the deck after Monkey went down for a nap. In just a few searches I found the answers. No trip to the library needed. Now this was a bit exhilarating but it also made me stop and think. Now I know why my generation (and especially those that follow) have issues with delayed gratification . . . because we don't have much of a delay.
So when Monkey gets older we'll definitely use Google (or whatever else there will be by then) but hopefully also try to do some extra research when needed so everything isn't so instant!
But in the meantime here's what I found:
The eggs are squid egg capsules and the bug is a Banded Alder Borer. So now you can file those away for when you stumble across them.
Here's a better picture of the insect (found on google images - bugguide.net). It is a pretty spectacular bug (about 2 inches long) and a bit frightening when it's flying toward you and you don't know what the heck it is! Apparently, they are attracted to fresh paint so sometimes you'll get a swarm on a freshly painted building.
I was more interested in just finding out what laid the egg casings we found all over the shoreline (Monkey loved picking them up and hurling them back into the sea). He would yell, "eggs! eggs!" with delight and scoop them up for a good throw. The main thing I found was that there's been a study that shows contact with squid egg capsules increases agonistic behavior in male squid . . . so now you know!
Ahhh . . . knowledge!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Okay, I am completely on board with the whole "breast is best" stuff. I'm no nipple nazi but I think breastfeeding is a good thing if it works for you and your babe and Monkey and I partook in the whole experience for quite some time . . . but this is a bit W-A-C-K-Y!
Apparently a Swiss chef is planning on including breastmilk in soups and sauces according to an article in The Telegraph. He's quoted as saying, "We have all been raised on it. Why should we not include it into our diet?"
I'm pretty sure it won't be pasteurized.
Too bad this isn't happening here . . . women will receive just over $5.00 US for 14 oz. I bet that's not on the radar for the Mompreneurs .
And no, that isn't Monkey or my breast (thank God as that looks painful). I do have a picture of Monkey on the boob (when he was first born) and in the haze of the first few days it accidentally was emailed to most of our friends and acquaintances. Oops! So pretty much everyone has seen at least one of my breasts so if you missed out - nothing much to see here. Move along!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Sorry I haven't been posting lately what with all the fall schedule changes and such plus a killer of a head cold I have been L-A-Z-Y. I'll try to get back to it next week.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
(amounts are approximate) - this feeds two people with a bit leftover (as a side of course)
1-2 T olive oil
1/2 onion or a small onion sliced very thin
red pepper flakes
one bunch of kale (any kind will do) if you don't like kale this works with swiss chard too (Chopped or torn with thick stems removed)
1-3 minced garlic cloves
vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
splash of flavored vinegar (I use red wine vinegar but cider vinegar would work well too)
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over Med High heat
Saute the onion slices until slightly carmelized (3-5 min)
Sprinkle red pepper flakes to your liking
Add kale, garlic (on top so it doesn't burn) and enough vegetable stock to cook the kale but just have a little bit left at the end for "sauce". I'd say try 1 cup but I eyeball it. You can always add more - harder to take it out!
Cook for about 8-10 minutes until kale is tender (I use tongs to get the onions and everything mixed well)
Take it off the heat and add a splash of vinegar (serve immediately)
We often have this with broiled salmon & rice
Let me know what you think!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This morning I told monkey it was my birthday and he said . . . wait for it . . . "Why?" (which he asks of EVERYTHING). So I said, "because 36 years ago today I was born." And he gaily responded, "I was born YESTERDAY!" Gotta love that time continuum for kiddos--absolutely everything that happens pre-nap is "yesterday" or "last week".
I remember the days when birthdays rocked! I loved my birthday. Now all I hear is my dad's voice gleefully telling me, "you're on the bullet train to forty." Thanks dad!
Actually, the whole thing isn't really bumming me out like I thought it would (although I must say crow's feet suck). I don't much care that I'm no longer the center of attention (at least most of the time). I had a lot of good years there in the spotlight. Today I was surprised by a few prezzies and some thoughtful cards and calls (thanks for the songs - you know who you are) so I'm pretty happy. All in all it was a nice sunny day and a good birthday.
I still can't believe I'm 36 but I'll just concentrate on Monkey being 3 (which is completely mind-blowing) instead. Will it ever be all about me . . . ever again? Somehow, I don't think so and, surprisingly, I'm okay with that. And really, when you're potty-training, who the heck has time to celebrate birthdays!
Edit 8:30 pm: M came home with roses, chocolates & my favorite imported cookies (yeah!). I did have to share with Monkey (so now I can hear him whizzing around the room as M attempts to put him to bed). AND Monkey pooped in the POTTY (no begging for a diaper) with no cajoling or anything. He just went in there and said, "I just want to be alone mommy." The best present ever!
Friday, September 5, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Or your child loves a book and you are not so enamored (for instance, "Finding Nemo Bubble Hunt" sound book!) Ugh.
But when you hit that sweet spot . . . it's worth noting!
Clorinda (by Robert Kinerk, illustrated by Steven Kellogg) is a book I don't mind reading over and over and over . . . and over. It's illustrated beautifully and the rhyming is exquisite. The story and moral are pretty dang good too. The basic story is about Clorinda (a bovine) who accidentally goes to the ballet (instead of the ballot-cutely explained pictorally) and loves it! She decides to try her hoof at dance and eventually goes to New York to start her career. Well, it's hard to be a ballet dancer and a cow but she tries her best--and that's the whole point, right? Try!
All in all I give this book both thumbs up (or two pointer fingers up as Monkey does instead). He'll come around on Horton next year . . . I'm sure of it!
Friday, August 29, 2008
I thought about titling this post, "My DVR is trying to kill me" but really it's me again. I have a compulsive need to empty it. There's no reason to stay up so late watching inane shows . . . but I do it. I NEED MORE SLEEP! The solution is simple - go to bed earlier - but for some reason I simply can't. 11:30 pm seems to be the earliest I can hit and even then I open up a book, do some stupid sudoku, write or lay there staring at the ceiling before my eyes close. Insomnia sucks. I make deals with myself from time to time . . . don't turn the t.v. on past a certain time. Close the book once this chapter ends . . . it may work for a bit but I always end up breaking the deal.
Don't get me started on nighttime snacking! The pounds are creeping up on me and it's (again) up to me to fight it!
Maybe admitting there's a problem (in print) will help me to change. One can only hope!
Oh and I did end up going to bed early last night (to bed at 9:30 and lights out 10:30--pretty good since the past few nights I've looked at the clock and it's been 1:30 am). But then Monkey was up off and on between 2:00 and 3:45 . . . that hasn't happened in months! I guess he knew I was trying to catch some zzz's. Damned if you do, damned if you don't!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
And now for the recipe (adapted from Rachael Ray on food network) I use less fish but the same amt of shallots/garlic for four pieces . . .
pan with tight fitting lid
2 halibut fillets
sliced shallot (or a thinly sliced 1/4 of an onion if you don't have shallots on hand)
garlic clove (diced)
enough white wine to fill pan about 1/4 inch or so (1/4 - 1/2 cup?)
about a cup of diced tomatoes (or 1/2 - 2/3 of a well-drained can)
thinly sliced basil for topping
Season the fish with salt/pepper.
In a large pan (with a tight lid) add a bit of oil (less than a T).
Lightly dredge the fish in the oil (turn over so both sides get a bit of oil)
add garlic, shallots and wine to pan
Top each piece of fish with tomatoes
Heat to boiling over Medium heat, then put on the lid
Cook until done (but not too dry) about 7-10 minutes
Transfer to plates (add some of the cooking juices and garlic/shallots)
Squeeze lemon over the top and top with basil
I like to serve this with whole wheat pasta with Newman's Own tomato/basil sauce (if I don't have my own and I usually don't!) or quinoa (then put the fish on top and the quinoa will soak up the juices).
This is a great weeknight meal that looks fancy and tastes great.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
A friend sent me a link to Very Good Taste (a blog about eating and drinking). Well, I love eating and drinking so I thought I'd join in on the omnivore 100. Here are the details from Andrew (and my results below):Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.
Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.
The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
Brawn, or head cheese
Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects - it was in H.S. Biology (extra credit for trying them!)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
63. Kaolin (not sure what this is!)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Please leave a comment here if you decide to add to your blog!
Friday, August 22, 2008
One day it was gearing up to be pretty warm so the morning was perfect for a little naked boy. Here is how we spent the morning:
All in all a good day--and no accidents!