Monday, September 29, 2008

DIY for dummies (like me!)

My good friend R got married last month. It was an intimate affair at a local park and we decided to do the flowers ourselves (including bouquets for the bride and her two girls). I was pretty nervous about creating bouquets but she had gotten an outrageous quote from a florist for doing three small, simple bouquets so we decided to go for it. First, I did a little searching online (as you know, I love Google). After reading through a bunch of wordy explanations I found this little slideshow and a little wine later I blithely thought, "I can totally do this!"

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

Strip the flowers and set them out in bunches on the table. Start at the center and build out placing the flowers in a concentric circles until you like the shape. Keep a tight hold right below the flowers as you go. Tightly wrap with the florist tape (but not too low just yet as you'll be putting the flowers in water). Put the flowers in water until a few hours before the ceremony (we did this step the night before and wrapped them with the ribbon Friday afternoon). Sites suggested using florist preservative but we didn't have any!
Wrapping the ribbon

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

Roasted Green Beans

Welcome to recipe Thursday! Today's recipe is quick & easy and a great way to eat more veggies. I know I need help in this arena. Monkey will even eat a few when I prepare beans like this. Our pole beans are slowing down in production but we've been able to eat this dish a few times this season.

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

Optional additions:

roasted red pepper
splash of lemon juice (right before serving)
splash of vinegar (right before serving)
parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes or chili oil

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

When do I not talk/write when given the chance? I ask you, when? Well, nobody's ever classified me as "quiet" or accused me of writing in the style of Hemingway . . . but I'm going to try to do quick posts with a picture on Wednesdays (and I know that at least Jackie & my mom will dig that). Here goes!

I like to call this, "You gotta start somewhere!"
This photo was taken at the Kingfisher Cabin on Vashon Island.

For more Wordless Wednesday check out 5 Minutes for Mom and Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rain King

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

I love Google

It's amazing how much we know about . . . well . . . everything! Sometimes I think we know too much. I know that I often know just enough to freak me out all the time (hmmmm . . . that may be my neurotic tendencies more than the knowledge though). But really, my mom is always saying it was easier to parent when there were only a few books and not a billion different ways to choose from. It seems like it might have been easier when your role was defined and you don't know much else! But really I am glad we live in the age of information (and info at your fingertips). It's not always good info (Wikipedia anyone?) but it's info just the same and it feels good when we find answers - no matter if they're the right answers. They're answers damn it!

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 - 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

Please Sir, I Want Some More

Well, that was my late suggestion for a title (or "Food Lovers Unite") but the editors went with "Ocho is Enough". Check out my latest mini review at Seattle Picks. It's numero 3.

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

Braised Kale

Sorry, I missed recipe Thursday last week. I haven't had much time to post lately! Here is an easy, yummy recipe to help you eat your greens. I've never been very good at doing vegetable sides (I always forget) but this one I've mastered and both M & I like it (Monkey will not dare to try it).

Braised Kale
(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

Happy Birthday to Me . . .

Monkey's birthday is a few days before mine so the madness of the birthday planning, etc. is then followed by me (and most of my loved ones) suddenly remembering (or forgetting) that it's my birthday too.

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

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Check out my latest piece on Seattle Picks about Hazlewood titled "Girls Just Want to Have Fun".

Also, for some reason Monkey picked out Horton last night--and has asked for it three times since. Is he reading this blog???

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Sometimes you come across a book and you adore it (but your child couldn't care less) . . . like "Horton Hears a Who!" (I love it, Monkey's not as interested).

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!