30 May 2013

School is OUT!

I know it's not something to be proud of, and I probably should just keep it as a deep, dark little secret, but I am the mom who doesn't cry when my kids go off to school in the fall. I am the one crying as they come home for the summer. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. LOVE them. However, one of my character flaws - one they are helping me work on - is that I LOVE being by myself. It's true.

When the kids are around all day, it can be tricky to find the quiet, peaceful meditative time that I need. Not to mention time to work. Additionally, there is the challenge of managing the activities of a teenage boy, 9 year old girl and 6 year old boy.

Here are some of the ways we are going to attempt to find balance and fun this summer:

We're going to make sure everyone gets something they want on this list - 
within reason. 
My teenager's fantasy trip to Dubai will have to wait...

  
A paper route for the teenager. Work is good. Work is GREAT!

A technology ticket system. Still working out the details, but I like the idea of a certain amount for the week. I may include the option to earn more time with extra jobs, etc. 

 
I am finishing up these summer reading journals I found over at eighteen25. 
Got to keep the kids reading all summer. Maybe I'll make on for myself...

I have a bunch of other ideas pinned HERE. What are you doing to keep summer fun?


25 May 2013

Redhead Express!


These amazing, talented girls are my cousin's daughters. Take a minute and watch the video, then check out the websiteListen to the demos, help them go Platinum! They are being incredibly generous to donors. We'll be heading to the Boulder, CO County Fair in August to see them perform.

24 May 2013

Strawberry Chiffon Pie - Recipe Re-post


When strawberries are in season, it is impossible to resist a cool, light dessert like this one.

Strawberry Chiffon Pie 
from Betty Crocker's New Picture Cookbook

2/3 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup strawberries, thoroughly crushed
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

Blend 2/3 cup sugar, gelatin and strawberries in a saucepan. Cook to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Place pan in cold water; cool until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon. Then fold into a meringue made from egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar (recipe follows). Carefully blend in whipped cream. Pile into a shortbread crust (my little shortcut - I prefer the short crust over the pastry for this pie). Chill several hours until set. Serve cold.

Meringue: Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually beat in sugar, a little at a time. Continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Beat until sugar is dissolved.

No - it is not a diet food. Yes - it is worth it. Go on, take a bite.



22 May 2013

Little Fashionista Rocks the Shirt Dress


For this project, I strayed from my goal of using stash fabric. We were in the fabric store and this adorable bright blue fabric with dragonflies was on sale and I didn't resist it. It's such a great color on her...


I did use a pattern from my stash. I have only made one other shirt and it was years ago. It was a Hawaiian shirt for my son, and I remember the buttonholes giving me fits. I am much better at buttonholes now. :)
The pattern has the "easy" label on it, and it truly was easy. The only part I struggled with was the collar. I think the directions could have been a bit more clear on which part was getting sewn to which part. Other than that, it went fine.

As far as sizing goes, I made a size 10. It's a little big across the shoulder, and while I might adjust it a little if I make it again, it's nice for children to have room to move and play in their clothes. The length is perfect for wearing with leggings.


The pattern has some nice features. The pockets are real and there is a lot of nice top stitching to give the garment a finished look. I made one minor adjustment to the pockets. I made the flap wider than the pocket for a little visual interest. I like how it turned out. What do you think?


21 May 2013

Camping Birthday Party for A Nine Year Old Girl

From this


 To this


In what seems like no time at all...

For her 9th birthday, she wanted a camping themed party. Thank goodness for Pinterest!




When the girls arrived, we had them take their sleeping bags and pillows to the TV room. Next, we had them write a birthday wish for the birthday girl. 

1. Dinner - hot dogs, chips and pink lemonade (jelly jars with cupcake liners)
2. S'mores!
3. Make bracelets - of course most of the girls made BFF bracelets
5. Cake (a log with a bunny backside sticking out - by request)
6. Movie

Signs of success? 
"This really is like camp!"
"S'MORES!!!"
"I don't want to go home yet!"

18 May 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things



Hamilton Beach Hand Blender With 2 Attachments 200watts Case Included 

A hand blender is a magical thing. Blend things right in the pot or bowl - no washing the blender or pureeing soups in batches. Easy to clean and inexpensive. I have the Hamilton Beach model - sells for about $20 at Walmart. According to an informal survey I did among friends who have the hand blenders, the inexpensive model works just fine - assuming you aren't doing high volume blending on a regular basis.


http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/yhst-73078103945512_2258_125552220 

I am in love with these circular knitting needles from ChiaGoo! They are made of stainless steel and feature a flexible, multi-strand steel cable coated in nylon to allow yarn to slide easily. The joint between the needle and the cable is very smooth. I have been knitting my first lace shawl project, and they work beautifully. Best of all, a circular runs about $7 instead of the $13 and up I've been paying.


Jan Marini Bioglycolic Bioclear Cream

 When I was 13, my mother told me that when I grew up, acne would no longer be a problem. She was right about most things, but not this. My esthetician recommended Jan Marini products. They aren't cheap, but all that money I save on knitting needles can just head over to the skin care budget. :) My skin is better than it's been - ever.

 

For breakfast every morning:
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 scoop whey protein powder
sometimes I add a banana
Blend until smooth
YUM!


What are some of your favorite things?



17 May 2013

Mashed Potato Soup


I have a daughter who is a picky eater. No marinara sauce, no onions. The only fruit she eats are apples, bananas and melon. The seeds in a strawberry are "too big" and bother her. I don't know if it's a sensory thing or just fussiness. Naturally, she has passed some of this on to her little brother. He doesn't like chunks of things or flecks of green in his food. In fact, if they were in charge of the world, there would still be 4 food groups; they would just be Pasta, Rice, Mashed Potatoes and Vanilla Ice Cream.

I have a couple of things I make to try to combat the lack of fiber and general nutrition in their diets. One trick is cauliflower puree. I like to stir cauliflower puree into their pasta and Parmesan cheese. They love it, and they have no idea they are getting a vegetable. Another recipe I add puree to is Mashed Potato Soup.

Mashed Potato Soup

1 medium onion,diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. parsley (if your kids are not allergic to green flecks)
6-8 average size potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups of milk * see disclaimer below
1/2 cup cauliflower puree
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

Heat a medium saute pan and add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the onions and celery and parsley (if you are using it) and cook until tender. 
In the meantime, put the chopped potatoes in a stock pot with the vegetable or chicken stock and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer. When the onion and garlic is tender and smells delicious, add it to the pot with the potatoes. Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender. 
Add milk *disclaimer: I just make this soup - no recipe - so the amount of milk is something I sort of eyeball. You just don't want the soup too thick. It isn't meant to actually be mashed potatoes... end disclaimer* and add the cheese and cauliflower puree. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and let cool just a bit. Either process in your blender, or take a hand blender and puree it right in the stock pot. 
Add a couple of Cheez-its for garnish (they aren't green) and serve.  Magically, the onions and celery become invisible and your picky little eaters declare it the best thing you've ever cooked them.
For adults, the possibilities are endless. Broccoli, bacon, grated cheese, a sprig of parsley...

15 May 2013

Why Wear Cotton?



Sweet and Colorful Shirred Nightgown sizes 2-8 

There is a reason why Cotton's website is called The Fabric of Our Lives. So many of the things we use and wear are made out of it. Cotton is soft, absorbs moisture, breathes, comes in wovens and knits, and can be dyed all kinds of colors. Cotton is renewable, all natural, sustainable and biodegradable. It is easy to clean and care for, and because it is natural and breathes so well, it doesn't irritate the skin. Cotton used to be considered a luxury fabric because until the invention of the cotton gin, the fibers had to be separated from the seeds by hand. After the Industrial Revolution, cotton became a popular, relatively inexpensive, mass produced textile. It's even used in the dollar bill!

Custom White Old-Fashioned Night Gown  Girls sizes 2-8

Conventional cotton is a great choice. An even better choice is organic cotton.  Organic cotton is grown without the use of any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. In the United States, the National Organic Program (NOP) enforces growing practices such as growing, pest control, fertilizing and handling of  organic crops for certification as organic. Even if the cotton is grown organically, it isn't always chemical free after the dyeing process. It pays to ask the manufacturer if they are using low-impact dyes. Also, for now, the down side to organic cotton is the cost - anywhere from 10 to 40 percent higher than conventional cotton.

Did you know that colored cotton also exists naturally? Just like sheep come in a variety of colors, so does cotton. Naturally colored cotton varies from green to brown and reddish brown. Because colored cotton has to be bleached before dying, it has been eliminated from commercial farming. Farmers don't even want it growing near their "white" cotton fields for fear of cross-pollination. For a great story about the re-emergence of colored cotton, read about  Fox Fibre.

I love working with cotton - fabric or yarn. I love wearing it and using it for personal care. It's inexpensive, soft and just totally all-purpose. 

Talk to me! What do you love about cotton?
 
As an aside, if you like period films, you should watch North and South. It is a BBC drama adapted from the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. The story is set in the industrial north of England and the main businesses there are cotton mills. 

10 May 2013

Smoked Salmon Salad


Smoked Salmon Salad

2 cups mixed salad greens (Romaine, spring mix)
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 green onions, chopped
4 oz. smoked salmon
1 tsp capers, rinsed (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. lime juice

In a bowl, mix the salad greens, celery and green onions. Place the salmon on top of the salad, then sprinkle with capers and black pepper. Dress with olive oil and lime juice. Serves 1

07 May 2013

Menu Plan Monday



MONDAY

Spaghetti

TUESDAY

Thai chicken wraps

WEDNESDAY

Potato Soup

THURSDAY

Meatloaf

FRIDAY

Leftovers

SATURDAY

Eating out

SUNDAY

Coconut Fried Chicken


Sitting in the carpool line, planning dinner and getting Kindie homework done.