31 March 2011

Paninis Oh, My

I have a friend who likes food. 
She also likes books, a lot.
Maybe this is why we're friends. 
Naturally, there are many other reasons that we are friends, but I digress.
She likes food. 
On her blog recently, she wrote a post about paninis. 
I only mention this because it is important that you know who is to blame for what happened next.

I bought a panini maker.
Then, I went to the supermarket.
I bought some sharp cheddar cheese, ham and apples.

I really, really love ham, apples and sharp cheddar together.
A little vegetable soup on the side.
Better than eating out, probably not cheaper.
You do know who to blame though, right?
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

30 March 2011

So Lovely to Meet You, Ms. Lowry!

 Last night, Lois Lowry came to our local independent book store to talk about her new book:

I have been a fan of Lois Lowry's stories since I was a little girl. It was so much fun to see her in person. She told us a few fun stories from her childhood and read to us from a few of her books. She was lovely. I didn't get a chance to speak to her myself, but my children did. If I could have spoken to her, I would have said "Thank you for more than 30 years of reading pleasure!" My son, who is an aspiring writer, asked her for advice on characterization. My daughter just smiled and bounced. You can see from the photo that she is still bouncing.

26 March 2011

Weekend Book Review - Unbroken

I love track and field and I love American history, so I had high expectations for this book. I was not disappointed. Taking the good with the bad, Hillenbrand tells of a wild kid who found a purpose in running. Louis Zamperini made the Olympic team and had the most potential of any runner of his time. His running career was interrupted by WWII. He became a POW in Japan and suffered horrible cruelty and deprivation. He survives, but comes home to struggle with the trauma of what he had survived. Well written, interesting and hard to put down.

24 March 2011

New Listings in my Etsy Shop!

I had to go to the dentist this morning and get a cavity filled. I'm not really a happy camper so I'm just dropping by really quickly to share some new things in my shop.

I have been looking around for some fun new fabrics for summer nightgowns. Here are two that I've just added to my shop:

I just love the butterflies on this one, and it will be so cute with that summer tan.

Who can resist the tiny cherries on this fabric? I love this fabric!

Hopefully next week I will have some great boy's summer pajama sets to add to my shop - and share with you.

23 March 2011

Lemon Cream and Strawberries

Sunday afternoon we were looking for something delicious to eat. A friend had brought me a huge basket of strawberries. We had eaten them on pancakes for breakfast, but now we wanted something sweet. I looked in my cupboard and fridge and here's what I found:

I mixed all the lemon curd with all the mascarpone (My actual container of mascarpone was 8 oz.) and it was so good I almost just ate that. Then, I sliced thin slices of the angel food cake, topped it with the lemon cream and the strawberries, and this is what I got:

It was light and creamy and the zip of the lemon with the fresh strawberries was heavenly.

22 March 2011

Barn Hop #5 - Chickens in fashion

Both of my parents grew up on farms. I grew up in the "burbs" of southern California for the most part, but my parents managed to homestead in one way or another wherever we lived. 

When I was in 8th grade, we lived in an old house on a hill in the middle of avocado, orange and lemon orchards. Oh boy do I miss the smell of lemon blossoms in the morning. Naturally we had a garden, but on that property, we also had chickens.

After our little flock was pretty well established, a friend gave us a young hen. They had hatched it from an egg as an Easter present for their kids. You can imagine how quickly they tired of having a hen running around the house. We added it to the flock. Being the new kid in town, it was mercilessly pecked. My 5 year old sister felt so bad about its bare and damaged condition, that she took to hanging around the yard and chasing off the other hens. Eventually, everybody settled down and the young hen was allowed into the flock. However, that little hen had attached itself to my sister. If she came outside, it would immediately flap up onto her shoulder and from there to the top of her head. As long as she was outside, that little hen rode around on her head. It's really too bad that my parents weren't into taking pictures by then. I would love a photo of my sister (now 31 and a mom of 3) with a chicken on her head. Who knew it would become haute couture?

21 March 2011

A bowl full of lemons.: Silhouette GIVEAWAY!!!!

I Can't tell you how many of these Silhouette giveaways I've entered. But one of these days, it's going to be my lucky day. I just know it.

Check it out - and while you're there, take a look at A Bowl Full of Lemons. I have loved the weekly organization challenge.

20 March 2011

The Big Dance

Sunday evening, I went out for a little while. Instead of the kids going peacefully off to bed with a nice bedtime story, they filled out their NCAA brackets.

My 12 year old son filled his out with an eye to challenging his Dad's choices, but only to a point.

My 6 year old daughter thought a purple team would be sure to win.

My 4 year old son started in the center with BYU as the champions and worked his way backward, scoffing at his sister's choice by color because "that's NOT the way you do it."

Today, my husband and 12 year old son are at the first round games downtown. Normally I don't begrudge them their guy time, but today I do. Just a little bit. OK, more than a little bit. See, my basketball fan-ship began 30 years ago - when Magic Johnson was a rookie playing for the Lakers and the epic rivalry with Larry Bird and the Celtics. Remember?

In college (BYU) I had season tickets, by myself. I've been true. And now, when BYU is a #3 seed and they have Jimmer, and they are playing in my town, I'm pretty much staying home and putting the little kids to bed. Sigh. The thing is, my son will remember this night for the rest of his life. Especially if BYU wins. And I think they will. I've had my moments with my dad. I'll watch it online and I'll look for my kid with his sign. You should look too - I bet you'll see him.

Sent from my husband's phone - live action!

18 March 2011

Mom, do you think I still fit in the cupboard?

It is important to know that the child in the cupboard is 5' 6" and weighs 125 lbs

Look Mom! I can get in the cupboard too! 
See, I just put all the dishes that were on the bottom shelf up on the top!

Same kids, no words.

17 March 2011

Chore Charts

I am so excited! I finally got this done. I have been working on a new system for chores, partly based on an article I read in the March issue of Family Fun magazine, and partly based on this post from How Does She. The idea is that each day, there are certain jobs to do, from making beds and picking up clothes to keeping a specific room (Room of Responsibility) in the house tidy.

First I made a list of all the rooms in the house and what needed to be done to keep them clean. Then I made a list of daily responsibilities and Saturday responsibilities. I put them on labels and stuck the labels on index cards. I also made labels with morning, afternoon and bedtime jobs for each kid. Each week, they draw cards for their ROR. Two cards each for the older kids, one for the baby. I keep the extras on the inside of the pantry door in a neat little pocket from Post-it. Also on that door you can see our family calendar, school year calendar and color coded carpool schedule (yes, it's that bad).

Next, I needed a nice place to post the responsibilities. On advice from my sister, I went to the Dollar Store and found some 10"x7" decorative metal sheets. I mod podged some paper onto them, found some magnets and I had a place to keep all the cards.

See the cute monsters on the sticky notes? My daughter drew those when she was maybe 4 and stuck them in a row there. I can't bear to take them down. Next to that we have the pencil lines - can you see those? That's where we keep track of the kids' growth - red neck style.

So far, it's working pretty well. My daughter especially likes the part where I change the cards depending on the time of day. We have also implemented the "60 second clean-up" this week. This is where I set the timer for 60 seconds, and the kids see what they can get picked up in that time. Tonight, it was like a miracle. They weren't done when the timer went off, and they asked me to do another 60 seconds. I was thinking "who are you and what have you done with my kids?"  

Chances are, the novelty will wear off.  But for now, it's working. What more can I ask?

16 March 2011

Disaster Relief for Japan

If you look to the right sidebar, you will see a button:

this button will take you to Tea Rose Home. Sachiko has family and friends who live in the area impacted by the recent 8.9 magnitude earthquake. I don't know her, but we have some things in common. We blog, we have Etsy shops, we're Moms, we go to the same church.

I'd like to add my 2 cents to Sachiko's and to Christie's (A Lemon Squeezy Home), and everyone else out there who has found a way to help out. I have volunteered for my church's Humanitarian Aid organization for years. The money and items donated go to help those most in need, wherever they are in the world. You can read more about some of the aid efforts here and here. More of the donated funds (98%) go directly to those in need than from any other organization. If you are looking for a way to help, may I recommend donating here:

Together we can make a difference.

15 March 2011

Barn Hop #4 - Gardening Co-op

I live near Denver, CO, but higher, just around 6100 feet.  For those of you unfamiliar with life at altitude, let me just say that it makes gardening very interesting. While most of the rest of the country are planting seeds and starter plants, we are most likely shoveling snow. Once frost has past, the perils of gardening around here only become greater. But that's a topic for another day.

April 10, 2005

The rule of thumb around here is "don't plant until after Mother's Day. Some years, that works fine. Other years it's still too cold. Generally speaking though, we can count on getting our gardens in by the last week of May. You may have guessed, however, that the growing season is short. We certainly don't want to be planting seeds the last week of May, and if you're harvesting tomatoes in October, they are just as likely to be frozen.

So, we start seeds indoors. That works pretty well, but good seeds for short season plants are more expensive than what you can find at Home Depot. That's why I've been thinking of starting a sort of Garden Seed Co-op. I was thinking I'd invite people to sign up and everyone would list their top seed choices and pitch in a $ amount. Then I'd get the seeds and the materials for planting them, and around April 1, we'd have a seed planting party. That's what I'm working on right now.

Has anyone done something like this? Does it sound fun? I'd love to hear what you think.

Meet Me on Monday

1.  Do you have a fireplace in your home?

Yes, but it's been "turned off" ever since one of our friend's toddlers burnt his hand on their fireplace.

2.  Can you drive a stick shift?

Yes. I learned on 1-15 in Nevada on a family vacation - in a car that looked just like this - 
with my parents, 4 brothers and a sister in the car. 
No joke.

3.  How many computers are in your home?

Two. One new, one 7 years old and about to belong to the 12 year old.

4.  Are your taxes done yet?  Do you do them yourself?

Not done yet, yes, we do them ourselves.

5.  What is your favorite meal of the day?

Is there a meal not to like? If I had to pick, probably dinner. This is quick and easy BBQ chicken from this post.

12 March 2011

Weekend Book Review - I Shall Not Hate

A very personal and inspiring tale of perseverance, love, loss and forgiveness. Dr. Abuelaish, who was born and raised in Gaza, tells the story of his childhood and how he came to believe that education and forgiveness were the way out of the poverty and despair prevalent in his community. He believes strongly that there is no difference that cannot be overcome by Israeli's and Palestinian's simply getting to know each other one on one and having respect for each other as human beings.

11 March 2011

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I love pineapple upside down cake. Maybe I love it because I don't have it very often. I don't know. But a couple of times a year I get that irresistible craving for some caramelized pineapple with cake. My favorite recipe is my grandmother's. I am going to share it with you, because I love you.

1 can sliced pineapple
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
Maraschino cherries

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1/4 tsp. lemon rind
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain pineapple, reserving 2 Tbsp. syrup/juice. Melt butter in heavy ovenproof skillet (read cast iron for Grandma's house). Stir in brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. pineapple juice. Blend thoroughly. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple in sugar mixture with cherries in each ring. Combine cake ingredients all together, mix well, and pour over pineapple in skillet. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes then invert onto plate and serve warm.

For those of you who don't have cast iron skillets or the desire to bake cake from scratch, you can make a box cake and do the whole shebang in the oven in a 9x13 pyrex. It's not as good, but it'll do in a pinch.


10 March 2011

Weekly Organization Challenge

This week's challenge is to organize photo files on the computer. I love the ideas in this post at A Bowl Full of Lemons. It's simple, perhaps should have been obvious... It is especially timely for me, as I just got a new computer! Hooray! Let's just say the old one is 7 years old (gasp! I know!) and the memory is full. So here's what my desk looks like today:

No matter what the husband says, I still need all the photo files on the new computer. When I'm blogging, sometimes I need really "old" photos. However, if they are more organized, maybe the files will look smaller to him? At any rate, I am so behind on the scrap booking, there's no way to archive anything more recent than 2005. And yes, I did go in and rename all my files clear back to 2005.

Fast, easy, done. Now to get to the edit.develop.scrap part...

09 March 2011


This weekend, I was in Fort Collins, CO for the short course swim championships. My son was competing with his team. Swim meets are a lot of fun, unless you happen to be a 6 year old girl or a 4 year old boy and you've been going to swim meets your entire life.

This is the start of the medley relay, beginning of the day Saturday. If the starting area looks like this, you can imagine what the stands looked like. We could hardly move. Needless to say, by the time my oldest had finished his race, his younger brother and sister were fried. What to do? Head over to a yarn shop, of course!

I have been wanting to visit Your Daily Fiber for the longest time. What makes it unique? The owners raise llamas, alpacas and yaks, all for the purpose of producing natural based yarns for their shop. They have a unique selection of hand spun, hand dyed/painted yarns and I was aching to touch, see and buy. Oh, boy, did I.

It's hard to see the variation in color in this gorgeous tomato yarn, but it is soft and lovely and I can't wait to knit something out of it. The base yarn was natural, and it adds a really neat depth to the color.

 How cool is it to have photos of the animals who provided the fiber for your yarn? Very cool. This one is 100% llama with red and green flecks and a little sparkle. Thanks Kelly and Indy!

Last, but not least, my daughter chose this lovely variegated purple. We are still negotiating what to make out of it, but whatever we make it will be her favorite.

If you're ever in Fort Collins, drop by. The atmosphere is home-like and friendly, even to my lively kids. There are photos of the animals to see and you might even get a peak at the yarn being dyed/painted in the back.

08 March 2011

Meet Me on Monday

What is your favorite way to eat potatoes?
 Mashed. Yum.

What was the last package that was delivered to your house?
Fabric to make this rain coat for my daughter - more on this later

What is your favorite scent that you love to smell?

The air after a rain storm
Do you smoke?

NO. Yuck.

Are your parents married or divorced?

Married for 43 years and counting. Yep - that's me - in year 5