Friday, February 27, 2009

Because I Am A CopyCat....

Do you remember when being called a copycat was about the worst thing ever?

You might as well have told a child they would never grow up to be a useful member of society.

Give up now, ye copycat! No good can come of your copycattery.

I believed that for a long time, but no more.

Copying is a form of flattery, and let's face it, there are no truly original ideas out there.

Consider copycatting an homage.

And in that spirit, I steal an idea shared by my good friend S, and announce Fab Fridays!

Fab Fridays will be the days when I share something good from the week. Perhaps a recipe, a quote, a book, a find, a photo. Whatever it may be, I say enjoy!

For the launch of Fab Fridays, I give you my find of the week:


The Dirt Devil Kurv hand vac. It's got 9.6 volts of sucking power, wrapped up in an sleek, elegant champagne-colored body. Designed by Karim Rashid, this little beauty is the perfect device for chasing down wayward glitter, thread, dust, or baby food embedded in the dreaded highchair. This example of design + function can be yours for less than $20 at Bed, Bath & Beyond. On sale now, get 'em while they last!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feb 25th

Some weeks it seems that there is little to report. Not that things are bad, or so awesome that I don't have the time to squeeze in a post. Things are just good this week. In a sort of ordinary, getting-stuff-done, really-enjoying-my-family-this-week sort of way.

On Monday, Big Sis let me give her bangs. I was hankering for a haircut of my own, but have a few more weeks to go. On a whim, I suggested we give her a little fringe, and she was excited about it! Not one to waste an opportunity, I went for it. It's taken a few days to get used to the new look, but I think she's adorable.

We've had fantastic sunshine and warmer temperatures this week. On Tuesday we opened all the windows, flung open the front door, and enjoyed some play time on the porch. Bubble blowing was the activity of the day.





I also went to dinner with girlfriends last night. I can't even remember the last time I had good food & good female conversation. The best adjective to describe the night was refreshing, because I came away feeling renewed.

Today I finished the last item on my must-do list (it was a short list), and am really excited that the week is more than half over. Friday is Date Night (barring another snow storm), and we are getting closer to Spring Break, Michigan, and some family away time. Can't wait.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Morning

I don't think it's an auspicious start to the day when.....

Big Daddy chooses to sleep through his alarm, then snaps "Quit waking me up every 20 seconds" as a response to "Can I do anything for you this morning?" (my gentle wifely attempt to get him out of bed).

Big Daddy then comes into the kitchen and snaps a picture of me in my PJ/ cold morning outfit of purple tank top under pink long sleeve night gown under black Oregon State sweatshirt over turquoise flamingo / trailer park-at-Christmas pants, with pink slippers, glasses & hair in messy topknot. {Stunning, I know} He said he wanted to record me for posterity, so that when this becomes a national trend we will know where it all began.

Perhaps this is a hint that I should re-examine my morning wardrobe. And maybe even consider getting dressed before noon each day. I think I'm in for a rude awakening when I have to start doing the morning drop-off next school year.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Good Stuff

Some days are just destined for awesomeness. Today was one of those.

On Friday, we received our tax refund.

Awesome.

Today, I paid off our credit card.

Awesome.

AND we sold the Jetta.

AWESOME.

AND I got Mexican food for dinner!

Well played, awesomeness. Well played.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Did I Mention That I Hate Moving?

Hate is a strong word, and should be reserved for moments utterly lacking in brevity or joy.

I find it to be the ideal word to describe my feeling about the process of moving.

I am excited to BE moving to Michigan, but I loathe/ dread/ hate the process OF moving.

I hate having to figure out where to live. And now that hate is doubled because I have to find a place to live that is also within what I deem to be an acceptable school district. Perhaps I should explore home schooling.....

I hate trying to find a dwelling that is reasonably priced for starving students, isn't 40 miles from where Big Daddy needs to be, has enough space for 4 people, a little storage (yes, we have a lot of crap), and washer dryer hook-ups. Who knew it would be such a complication to be renters who have their own W/D?

I hate getting used to the local grocery stores. A week or so after moving to Des Moines, I nearly had a breakdown in Hy-Vee because I couldn't find the breadcrumbs. Who puts breadcrumbs with the bread, for Pete's sake??

I hate that it usually takes 2 weeks to get our internet/ cable set up because the installer doesn't show up the first time, or the second time, then pops in at 3:59 when I just left to go to the post office - having waited around for 99.99% of the 9am-4pm window of availability.

I hate getting used to a new ward. All wards are not alike, and it takes 3-4 months for us (me) to feel comfortable with the people, the building, the activities, etc.

And finally.... I hate packing! While I am fully aware that this is mostly due to the amount of STUFF we have, this doesn't lessen my lack of joy at packing it all up. We've decluttered, we've trashed, we've condensed. And there's still a lot 'o stuff.

I'm going to keep looking for apartments online for a few more minutes, then go eat something comforting. This is a depressing task.

If I Could.....

I would totally go to Vegas for this: Vegas Uncork'd.

I would do this:

And swoon over Bobby Flay and Andrew Knowlton.

Temperate climes, top-notch food,

and a virgin daiquiri imbibed while enjoying a pedicure sans children?

A happy daydream for such a cold February afternoon......

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Testing, Testing....



Our bread machine is on it's last leg.

I made lasagna for Saturday's dinner guests, and what goes better with lasagna than fresh bread? Being sans-Breadman, I made homemade/ handmade bread for the first time.


It was so well received that I invested in new (mini) bread pans today.
Mini because we are working on portion control.
These were the inaugural loaves.
Note to self: split dough between 3 pans next time, not 2.


Do you see?
See how they just slid right out of the pans, honey?
THAT'S why you pay the money for quality bakeware.


My house smells delicious right now.
Is there anything better than warm, homemade bread on a cold winter's night?
Someone please pass the butter.
Excuse me, I have to go put on my eatin' pants.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Month 11

What? 11 months? Where has the time gone, my little monkey?


Your joyous spirit brings a light to our family. Your smile, your laugh, your sparkling, snapping blue eyes. How ever did we live without you?

Food: You are an awesome eater! Potatoes, eggs, cheese, turkey, ham, rice, grapes, bananas, waffles, bread, tomatoes - you chow it all with enthusiasm.

Drink: While you still enjoy your bottle, you've also mastered the sippy cup and drinking through a straw. So multi-talented!

Work: No crawling yet, but you are a wiggler. You roll like a tidal wave, and have the reach of a pro basketball player. You can also chuck toys like a mini Cal Ripken. Now if we could get you standing up, I know you'd Bend It Like Beckham.

Play: Monkey-boo (with paci) is your beloved buddy, and if I let you, you'd take him everywhere. Instead I substitute a spoon, a zebra, a fireman, KungFu Panda, or anything within a 12 inch reach. You love to be tickled and thrown in the air. And of course, chewing on Big Daddy's watch is serious business.

Sleep: 12 hours is your norm, with very few exceptions. You often occupy your morning wake-time with enthusiastic conversations in your crib.

It's time for me to start prepping for your 1st birthday. I love you my sweet boy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Made That!

For about 6 months, I've been wanting a new blog banner and background. Today, I started fooling around with Photoshop Elements {a perk of my job}, and made a new banner! It's nowhere near what I really want, but ya gotta start somewhere. I am just amazed that I was able to put together ANYTHING, much less something that is both marginally aesthetically pleasing, and functional. FYI - that's a picture of the world's largest Sitka spruce tree. Yay for me!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Friday update


Winter weather is back in Des Moines, and I was pretty excited about it all day. I knew the 50 degree temperatures weren't going to last, so I never really allowed myself to get used to it. Today's heavy snowfall had me in the mood to putter, clean, craft, and be happy I did our food shopping yesterday.


I also made this little bag for Big Sis. We don't do much for Valentine's Day, but when I was working out one morning last week, I saw MS make this on her show (With Joan Rivers of all people. She is not who springs to mind when I think "crafting" and "Martha"). It's my silly version of The Heartfelt Bag. I used stuff I had around the house, and I think it was the perfect project for a snowy evening with kids tucked in bed early. The bag is lined with the same stripe-y fabric as the letter and hearts. Not my finest work, but it will do in a pinch.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Notice

Gap.com, you are ON NOTICE.

Now is the time of year when many retailers are trying to clear out Winter goods in preparation for Spring. It's February, you know, so we must begin stocking up on resort-wear NOW before we leave for our Spring Break vacation in the Antilles. Or I guess that's what you do when you're not broke & in med school.

When I find a good sale I try to stock up on clothes for kids, even if I have to stash the clothes for 6 or 9 months. Hauling around an extra bin of clothes is totally worth it if I find a good sale and only pay a few dollars per item.

I found some great things on sale at gap.com, in just the sizes I wanted, so I bought them earlier in the week. A few days later, I received an email stating that they were sorry, but my items had sold out. Um... OK.

So for the past few days, I have been lurking on gap.com, periodically checking to see if new items were available, or new sizes, etc. I have attempted to make a purchase several more times, but have been thwarted each time I hit the 'purchase' button.

I don't understand how a major corporation, which employs thousands of people, can run on online shopping site that is neither refreshed nor updated. I know demand is high, but seriously, if it shows in stock and I can put it in my shopping basket, I expect to be able to complete my purchase & enrobe my children in the downy goodness of your winter jackets when Jack Frost comes a-nippin' next November!

Gap.com, I will be watching you. And I am NOT PLEASED.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day Madness

I've been bitten by the crafty bug this month.

For Big Sis' Valentine's Day extravaganza at preschool, I leaned on our dear friend MS, and made these:


They are lollipop flowers made with cardstock, glue, and lollipops. I added the leaves, and decided to stamp them (just for fun). I was surprised at how excited I was about the stamping part. I've never had ANY interest in stamping or scrapbooking (or Stampin'!/ Scrappin'!) - just not my cup of tea. But now that I know you can add glitter to your stamping, I may be ready to warm up the teakettle.

I also made these little beauties: My first foray into the exotic world of truffle-making!

Simple to make, but also time-consuming. The key is to keep your hands cold while rolling them. Good lesson learned, but also a very tasty outcome from my first try. These are a mix of semi-sweet and dark chocolates, rolled in cocoa powder. I'd love to try adding a flavor, but all the recipes I saw suggested Grand Marnier or Framboise liqueur, and while I don't think a tablespoon of liqueur is going to make anyone freak out over the WoW, I also didn't want to offend any of my friends. For now I'll just experiment with a few different types of chocolate and maybe see if I can find some high-quality extracts at Williams-Sonoma or Whole Foods. btw - I've been saving those cute little boxes since I found them on sale last Fall for $2 at Michael's. They are perfect for truffles!

This is My Funny Valentine. Ain't he a cutie??

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Party Time!

Cue up the Hallelujah chorus, Birthday Week is officially over!!

Today was Big Sis' birthday party. It's not the first party she's ever had, but it's the first one to include friends, and I have been super-stressed over the entire ordeal. The theme was Princesses & Pirates.

I spent last night making cupcakes & this morning frosting them. This included a last minute run to Wal-Mart for more red gel coloring, as I forgot how hard it is to achieve a true red (Particularly when beginning with snow white buttercream. Duh.). I also put together all the party bags last night, adding in a few extra of each type "just in case". And I started packing up all the stuff we needed to haul with us.

We held the party at Cici's Pizza - a chain-store, all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Not our usual type of hangout, but the price of the party room was appealing, as it was FREE. It was actually great. The manager was really awesome about everything, and the room was furnished with tables & chairs for up to 70 people, tablecloths, a TV & DVD player, and was secluded from the rest of the restaurant. I packed up the car, jammed in 18 helium-inflated balloons and raced down there to do some mad decorating before the first guests were to arrive at 4.

I was still decorating when the Princesses and Pirates started to arrive, but managed to wrap it up relatively quickly. I am glad I made a few extra party bags, as we had some unexpected party guests arrive (And yet still had the right number of total guests - go figure). We had a bit of a slow start until we got the bubble machine going, then it turned a little chaotic as everyone wanted to pop, chase, stomp, whack, touch, blow, and bite as many bubbles as possible.


I turned their attention to some coloring sheets, and managed to get them to focus on that for a few minutes. The girls were mesmerized by the Barbie and the Diamond Castle DVD that was playing, while the boys had ants in their pants. I still need to expand my knowledge base on boys. I probably should have planned a sword fight, or walking the plank, or something, but I had images of contusions and severed eyes popping in my head every time I thought about it. (Yes Big Daddy, I know you can't actually sever your eye. Just chalk it up to literary embellishment.)

We moved on to the pizza buffet, and once their tummies were full, we broke out the foam tiaras and pirate hats for decorating (found at Oriental Trading Company - don't you just love it?!). They had lots of fun customizing their headgear, and enjoyed modeling them when I pulled each child aside to take their pic. I'm going to print the pics and include them in the thank you notes we'll send to each guest. (Sorry to spoil the surprise for anyone who attended).



We then proceeded to what turned out to be the surprise hit of the party: Digging for Buried Treasure! I found the idea on some website (I looked again last night - no clue where I stumbled across this). You take a container of any size, fill it with cornmeal for 'sand', and let the kids dig for some sort of buried treasure. I used an oversized pink plastic bin we had in the garage, found Big Sis' little trowel she likes to dig in the dirt with, filled the bin with 10 lbs. of cornmeal, threw in a few handfuls of plastic rings, and the kids went to town! Each one got a turn, and was allowed to dig until they discovered a treasure. Everyone clapped and hollered when they held up their find, and they totally loved it.







We wound down the evening with Princess & Pirate cupcakes (frosted & topped with "confetti"), gave out the party bags & called it a night. Everyone seemed to have fun, Big Sis enjoyed herself, and it was so awesome to see all the kids dressed up. I consider it a success. But I am still SO glad it's all over. And now I plan to curl up under my down comforter and catch up on the latest issue of Bon Appetit. Gotta plan for Valentine's Day.....

Look at all those cuties!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Please Meet My New BFF


I stumbled upon this lovely lady on Costco.com last week. She was playing her siren call, and I was listening. Oh, how I was listening. I've always admired her from afar, envying her soft, pliable buttons, and clear, bold type, but a relationship with her always seemed to be the stuff of dreams. After seeing her special, limited-time price, I took the plunge and decided to invite her over to our apartment for a permanent visit. When I hit the "purchase" button, I felt a surge of anticipation. Flushed with dreams of her organizing power, I have been waiting to welcome her home.

And home she is. I am giddy with labelling. Ah, it's a good start to the weekend.

A Facebook Confession

I recently joined Facebook. Even as I was filling out the information to start an account, I wondered 'why?'.

I guess I was hoping to reconnect with a few friends from high school, curious to see what they've been up to.

I was unprepared for the sheer number of people I would encounter.

Or the fact that, frankly (whispering), I don't remember many of them. The names are familiar, especially after I see them over and over in the "Friends You May Know" section. But honestly, I don't have clear memories of the majority of these people.

Every time I see a marginally familiar name, I wonder to myself "Should I remember you better? Did we hang out? Did we ever eat lunch together? Were we 'school friends' but not friends in real life? Did I have a mad crush on you that I am still marginally embarrassed about? Were we frenemies?"

I. Can't. Remember.

So most school friends I see, I don't "request to be their friend" on Facebook. Sure, times have changed and even if there was love or hate involved in high school, I see few reasons to ratchet up my FB friends for the sake of amassing a collection. And that's what FB seems to be to - just a narcissistic, self-promoting, popularity contest.

I've found most of the people I wanted to be in touch with, so I'm just going to fade into the background a bit more, and let the friend tourists carry on.

fyi - Friend Tourist is a term we use in my house to label someone who has to be in constant contact with many, many acquaintances but actually has very few to no good friends. Big Daddy and I are both the type to have just a spare handful of good friends, and a double handful of acquaintances we keep in contact with.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

5


Today Big Sis turns 5!

I don't know why, but I have been struggling with this just a bit. 5 seems so.... grown up. Like the next time I turn around, she'll be packing up to head off to college.

Here's a brief interview with Big Sis:

What’s special about today? It’s my birthday. And I like birthdays.

What’s so special about being 5? Because you have to turn 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 10.

Favorite thing about today so far? Opening my presents.

Favorite present? My favorite present was my Tinkerbelle movie.

Favorite food? Strawberries and blueberries

Favorite drink: Root beer

Favorite thing to do in the whole world? To go and see my cousins and see Audrey and have a playdate with Mariah.

Favorite thing to do with Daddy: Go to the movies

Favorite thing to do with Mommy: Go to Disney on Ice

Favorite TV show: Spongebob

Who’s your best friend: Mariah

What do you like to do with her: Have playdates with her and play hide and go seek

Favorite book: Angelina

Do you like having a little brother?: No, not very much because he cries in the night and he whines all the time.

Favorite princess: Aurora because she has a pretty crown and pretty hair and pretty dress.

What are you doing right now? I am taking pictures of what you’re writing on your computer.

Tell me about your day: My day was good and next I get to go to school and they get to sing happy birthday to me and I get to make a birthday crown. And I get to eat snacks and then we wash our hands and we have library time.

Do you like library time? Yes because that is how Johnathan will keep quiet. He is so loud.

What are you doing tonight? We are going to get Chinese food for dinner and then we go back home and we go to bed.

Favorite Joke: My favorite joke is a knock-knock joke.

Knock-knock

Who's there?

Orange?

Orange I'm glad you didn't come from Africa.

(I have no idea what the above joke means. She likes the idea of knock-knock jokes and will make up her own non-sensical versions for hours).

My sweet baby girl, I feel like I want to put the brakes on the aging process now. You are such a precious little sprite, always dancing around the house, practicing your "sweet moves" and curtsying to your imaginary yet appreciative audience. You are inquisitive and mischievous, with a ready smile and infectious laugh. It makes my heart swell to watch you play with other children. You are generous with your attention, and free with your advice on how things should be done (A bit of Mama in you? More than just a bit, I think....). You are also so very kind-hearted, wanting to make sure everyone will join in with any group activity, and always ready and willing to do your part.
Your creativity is blossoming and it is a joy to watch those synapses fire up as you discover the worlds of drawing and painting, and of course, the pleasures to be had from the application of glitter glue. If it is pink, it must adorn your body. If it is sparkly, shiny, or glossy, it must be applied to your lips, face, or fingernails. My girl, you are all girl.

While your feelings towards your brother generally border on the ambivalent, you have a protective streak that rises if anyone else approaches him or tries to touch him. I am hopeful those feelings of protection will continue for all your lives together, and you will be close friends as adults. (I have no illusion that you will do more than tolerate the other through adolescence, but hopefully you will grow to appreciate each other as time passes).

Happy Birthday my girl.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Little Organization

I am generally unorganized in my housekeeping. If you drop by my house unannounced, you will PLAINLY note this fact.

Please don't drop by without calling. Or if you do, be prepared to see me wedge myself between you and the door, an immovable object bound and determined to not allow you to view the pepperoni on the unswept floor or the swath of toys, glitter glue, and princess dress up shoes strewn across the living room.

What can I say? I'd rather engage in a tickle fight with the kids than sweep the kitchen floor.

BUT.

I do crave to be more organized, neat & tidy. And so I bought myself a little Christmas gift while in Oregon.
It's a kitchen wrap organizer, and it now lives in my pantry. I used to get so upset at the pile of aluminum foil, sandwich bags, and parchment paper that became jumbled if I just looked at it the wrong way. With this charming $5.00 kitchen wrap organizer, my jumbled days are over. A visit to The Container Store, and pantry organization can also reign supreme within your home.

Now if I could just do something about all that ice melt ground into my rug......

How I Survive Winter

My feelings about winter go up and down with the temperature.

I still get excited every time it snows. I love sitting at my kitchen table, watching those puffy flakes float lazily to the ground. No matter how many times I see it snow it still seems like a novelty, and I revel in those moments.


I don't always love the outcome of a snow fall - ice, ice, and more ice. Ever since I fell with Big J, I have been extra cautious when walking outside. Probably not a bad thing, but makes for slow going every time I step out the door.


The cold? The cold isn't too bad. I have to admit that far too often I do find myself succumbing to the desire to hibernate. I like our tiny little apartment, and have no problem making a cup of hot chocolate, popping in a movie for the kids, and snuggling up on the couch while buried under a fuzzy blanket. Makes you want to hibernate, too, doesn't it?


Despite all the positive talk above the weather does get to me sometimes. It's about this time of year I begin to yearn for warm breezes, wondering when it will warm up to 52 so I can throw open all the windows. Yesterday was a treat - it was almost 50! We all got outside for a while, cleaning out the garage, breaking up some of the ice in the parking lot, and just enjoying the warm(er) day.


I know yesterday's weather was a fluke, and we will quickly return to sub-freezing temperatures.


Sigh.


In general, what gets me through winter are two things:

  1. Exercise. I know, it's a bit of a cliche, but I feel tremendously better when I work out - particularly if I can knock it out in the morning. I don't know if it's just that I worked up a sweat and did a little something good for myself.... or that I got out of the house & had 45 minutes just for me, but the impact on my mood can be powerful. I have a friend who swears that regular exercise has saved her thousands of dollars in psychiatry bills. I believe it, friends.

  2. Having something to look forward to. Whether it's a new movie coming out, a lunch date with a friend, a birthday, a holiday, or just the end of the week, having an event to look ahead to makes a huge difference in my life. This week I had a lunch date with a friend, and I looked forward to that for 2 weeks. On the days when time seemed to slow to a crawl, all I had to do was think about that day and not only did I get excited, but it seemed to give time a kick in the rear & speed up just a bit. Perhaps I am more goal-oriented (or just outcome oriented) than I thought, but having even the smallest event to look forward to helps me tremendously.

That's all for today. Carry on with your Sunday, and enjoy the game tonight. While I'm not really interested in the game itself, I've been looking forward to making steak quesadillas. Yum!