31 July 2010

Weekend Book Review - The Read-Aloud Handbook

This is a book that I give to new parents and people who are wondering what to read to their children at different stages. Not only does it explain (with statistics) the value of reading, but it has an enormous index with recommended books by age. A great reference book and a good read.

30 July 2010

29 July 2010

Vote For Me!

I am part of a tiny, brand new team on Etsy. Come,  visit our blog. We will be posting all kinds of things from recipes and crafts to features of shops on Etsy.

Right now we are having a team challenge - we each had to create something with a beach theme. Come take a look and vote for me in the team challenge!

28 July 2010

Skirt Week - for me anyway

Earlier this summer, I thought I would participate in Skirt Week with Crafterhours. It didn't really work out. Not only did I forget how life is when it's summer and my kids are home (fun but crazy), but my Etsy shop suddenly became busier than it has been since Christmas. A mixed blessing.

So, later, but better late than never, here is one of the skirts I had planned for skirt week. The pattern is the Insa Skirt from Sewing Clothes Kids Love by Nancy Langdon and Sabine Pollehn.

This darling little girl of mine takes a while to become accustomed to new clothing. In fact, it's a miracle if she becomes accustomed at all. There has been a bit of a moratorium on sewing for her due to this issue. There was the Oliver and S pattern we chose together, along with darling designer fabric which I then spent hours making just perfect and she flat refused to wear. I'm still not over that one. 
Anyway, it only took her since Saturday to accept this skirt (I think she's accepted it) and it may have had to do with the large flower headband I whipped out on an impulse. It turned out pretty cute if I do say so myself...

27 July 2010

Customer Appreciation!

It isn't very often that I get to see my nightgowns on the little sweeties - but one recent customer was kind enough to send me some adorable photos - and gave me permission to share them with you.

Thank you for sharing!

25 July 2010

Weekend Book Review - In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

This is a great book for all you baseball fans to read with your kids. For Shirley Temple Wong (love the name) it was a big shock to go from a fairly well-to-do Chinese household to Brooklyn and find herself less well-to-do and alone in a new country and a new school. I loved the mixture of confidence and uncertainty with which she approaches her new life. I also liked the progression from how new and inexperienced she felt to finding a friend and becoming a true American baseball (Brooklyn Dodgers) fan. Wonderful story.

23 July 2010

Italian Meatball Subs

2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 T grated parmesan cheese
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/8 t garlic powder
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb pork sausage

15 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
1 small onion chopped
1/2 c green pepper (optional)
1/2 c red wine or beef broth
1/3 c water
2 garlic cloves minced
1 t dried oregano
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t sugar

Make meatball by combining eggs and milk.  Add bread crumbs, cheese and seasonings.  Add meats.  Mix well.  Shape into 1" balls/  Broil or sauté until brown (so they don’t fall apart in crock pot).  Place in crock pot.
Combine sauce ingredients and pour over meatballs.  I like to saute the onion and peppers a bit first, but that's up to you. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Serve on hoagie buns!

Freezes well too - especially the meatballs. Make a big batch and freeze for a winter day.

22 July 2010

Painting Salt Dough

Remember this post? We finally had time to paint the letters we made!

There are so many fun things to do with salt dough. My daughter and I made this tea set about a year ago, and it has held up very well.

20 July 2010

Where Have I Been Lately?

Pretty much at the pool, and no, I do not have an awesome tan. My daughter does though. My younger two have had swim lessons every day for the last 4 weeks. My oldest swims for a USA swim team and we are coming to the end of the long course (50 meter) season. Practices and meets are what we are all about, trying to qualify for the Junior Olympic State Championship meet at the end of the month.

Sister's lessons start first, and it is oh-so-hard to wait

I know it's hard to tell, but this is the 200 backstroke, and my kid is the one in the middle. He dropped 10 seconds off his previous best time! Whoo-hoo!

So, sun, water and sunblock is what we are all about for just a little bit longer. No swimming in August. It'll be a nice break.

17 July 2010

Weekend Book Review - American History in Black & White

I know - a lot of history on my reading list lately. However, this book is one of the most interesting and amazing books I have read in a while. It is a history of the black founders of the United States.  It is very well researched, and contains so much I never knew. For example:

James Armistead - a patriot and spy who was vital in the Yorktown victory of 1781
Hiram Rhodes Revels - elected as a Senator in 1870
Frederick Douglas - received presidential appointments from four different U.S. Presidents

Give it a try - read it to your kids!

16 July 2010

Knitting With Elizabeth

Well, I am a little bit behind on my almanac. I just finished the mitered mittens from May. They were easy and fun, and after I got over my fear of just cutting into my knitting, the thumbs worked up well also. I am skipping the hats of June, because we have lots of hats and I'm comfortable with them.

Still plugging away at the surprise blanket for April, and liking it. It's a bit difficult getting going with 2 stitches on each of 4 needles, so sometimes I start 3 or 4 times before it takes, but once going, each square works up quickly. Four down and 20 to go...

On a completely different subject, I've been working on something that has been sitting in my project box under  the guest bed for about 5 years. It is one of the more challenging things I have ever done. We'll see how it turns out. My mother gave me the fabric for a bullseye quilt. She had made one, and thought I'd like to make one too. It took me about 5 years to want to make one. One of the bigger drawbacks to the bullseye quilt, in my opinion, is the fact that it is made with lots of circles. Cutting out circles does not make my list of favorite things to do. Recently however, I discovered this, and I think I'm in love.

Now I know there are really cool and fancy machines out there that cut circles and more, but they cost like $400. This little beauty cost $14. Plus I had a 40% off coupon. I didn't even have to darken the door of a quilting shop. I got it at JoAnn's.
The idea is that you cut out a bunch of squares, then layer 3 circles, largest to smallest on the square, cutting away the extra fabric as you go. Then you cut the squares into quarters and reassemble them randomly. Sewing them together, matching the seams is giving me fits.

Here's a little preview of the quilt:
Doing the initial layout, with some help.

I think now is a good time to mention that I am not a perfectionist, and I know my carpet needs to be vacuumed. I know. What does this have to do with the knitting? Well, at least you can see part of the reason I'm behind. I have a little project ADD going on. Always have.

15 July 2010

Mexican Fiesta

Over the weekend, we had friends over for a Mexican Fiesta.  I did a great job taking photos of the cooking part, and once everyone got here, I completely forgot I had a camera. It may have had something to do with 6 adults and 10 children (including a set of triplets) all running around the house... it was really a lot of fun.

We made tamales and tres leches cake. Our friends brought the chile verde, tortillas, salsa, chips, guacamole and tomatillo sauce. The tomatillo sauce and the chile verde were to die for. I am getting those recipes (please?).


We used this recipe and this recipe from a Food Network show on tamales. Our friends do not like things super spicy, so we left out the cayenne and used chipotle chili powder instead. For the turkey tamale recipe, we substituted chicken. Here are some photos of the chicken tamales.

The chicken tamales were delicious with the chile verde and the tomatillo sauce. My favorite were the hot tamales because I like things spicy, but it was all really good. 

For dessert - Tres Leches Cake using yet another recipe from Alton Brown (Food Network). The only change I made to this recipe was using 2% milk instead of half and half, I didn't have any half and half. It worked just fine.

 Starting with the white cake (use your favorite recipe) poke holes all over it with a fork.

Add the mixture of milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream. YUM!

 I borrowed this lovely photo from here because, like I said, I stopped taking pictures when the fun began.

11 July 2010

Weekend Book Review - Anthem

Set in a time in the future when people live in collectives, a little bit like ants. They are raised in a group, then sent out to work at jobs they are assigned to by a committee. The narrator, raised as a part of this collective society, begins to discover his own individuality.The story is narrated in the plural, even when the narrator is talking about himself. This is a little disorienting, but also incredibly effective. We follow the narrator through his awakening process. It is a short book, easy to read, but powerful. If you've read George Orwell's 1984, this is similar in genre, but different in execution.

09 July 2010

Salt Dough

Today it is cloudy, with a chance of  thunderstorms. Swim lessons were inside, we ate lunch inside, we don't want to walk to the park,  and we are getting a little stir crazy here. It's the perfect kind of day for salt dough.

Salt Dough Recipe (from Green Crafts For Children)

10 ounces plain flour
10 ounces salt
200 ml lukewarm water*
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

*On my liquid measuring cup, 200 ml is right in the middle between 3/4 cup and 1 cup. 

Dissolve salt in water. Add flour. Mix until stiff, then knead by hand until you have a smooth and flexible but firm dough. Roll out dough to 1/2 inch and cut out desired shapes. Bake at 210 degrees for one hour, then turn off the oven but leave the shapes inside the oven to cool. This prevents cracking. Once they are cool, paint with water soluble paint.

Our letters are drying in the oven. This weekend, we will paint. Next week I will show you the finished products.

Once the "mom directed" cutting of letters was done, a happy couple of hours of mashing, patting, rolling (and maybe some throwing) ensued. We even have a good size ball of dough left over in a Ziploc for tomorrow.

08 July 2010

4th of July and More

We started the day off on Saturday with a parade (You should know that in Utah, if the 4th of July falls on Sunday, the festivities will happen on Saturday). The theme was "blazing a trail" and there were some great floats representing history. Everything from Betsy Ross to the National Parks. Even the Department of Natural Resources had a float - Smokey the Bear - of course. After the parade, there was a full day of games, free swimming, horse races, lawn mower races and a BBQ. Fireworks started at 10 pm and were really good. Especially since we were able to watch them from the back yard of Grandpa and Grandma's house. 

 Utah National Guard leads off

The fire department was well represented, and they threw lots of candy!

 Tanks are the best.

Sunday we went for a drive. Here's where the "more" comes in. We went out to the bird refuge near town.

In the middle (very tiny) is a sand hill crane, if you're interested.

My son decided to hop down on the "sandy" shore of the lake and get a little closer. I was back near the car and heard him yell. When I got up close, I decided his life wasn't in danger, and proceeded to document the fun.

It turns out the "sandy" shore was mud, roughly the consistency of Jell-O. He would have climbed right out, but he lost his lucky flip-flop in there, and was determined to find it. He found it...and he got out OK.

He had to wash off in the only slightly less mucky water of the lake, with a Frisbee. We didn't really have anything else with us. Some smells you just can't un-smell. Oh, and the bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. Turns out they were itty bitty baby mosquitoes. Cool.