"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cinco De Mayo


image from www.bettycrocker.com

In honor of both Cinco De Mayo (just 4 days away!), and my father, a chocolate lover, whose birthday is May 5th and who always told us when we were kids that all of Mexico was celebrating his birthday, a recipe for a chocolate cream pie that I posted some time ago.

Buddy's Birthday Party!


In birthday parties for my kids, I try to go with the
simplest party that still looks like a lot of effort went into it.


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Basically everyone brought sand toys and the kids played in the sand and colored with sidewalk chalk. Then we ate "dirt" (brownies) in the back of a dump truck, an idea I got from here. Each kid took home a sand castle bucket that was 99 cents from Target.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

i heart hugh grant



If you had asked me who was my favorite actor 20 years ago I probably would have said Kirk Cameron or Uncle Jesse from Full House. Oh, and Leonardo DiCaprio when he started out on Growing Pains. Later I would have picked Harrison Ford, then David Duchovny. Now it's a toss up between Owen Wilson and Hugh Grant. But we own (*) more Hugh Grant movies, so maybe he's our favorite.



I was at Target yesterday and saw that they had Music and Lyrics on sale for $7.50. I had it in my cart until I realized it was the Fullscreen edition, which I refuse to buy. But that reminded me that after my husband and I watched the movie (B and I are both Hugh Grant fans, you see) we downloaded all the songs from Napster. So I've been listening to them today, wanting to watch that movie again.

Here are the Hugh Grant movies we own, starting with my all time favorite:

About A Boy*
Two Weeks Notice*
Notting Hill*
Music and Lyrics
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Sense and Sensibility
Nine Months*
American Dreamz
Mickey Blue Eyes
The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain

For awhile there, B and I watched either About A Boy or Two Weeks Notice once a weekend.

Mom's Day

An announcement from Hallmark--
Mother's Day is May 11th.



As I'm already obsessed with Etsy (so many talented people making all the crafts I can only dream of creating with my own hands), I searched there first for Mother's necklaces. Sort of more for me than for my own mom, but then I know we're going to have more kids than we have now, so I can't actually get my very own without it being out of date someday. And having been the final kid in a family who had to stick their tiny wallet sized school picture in the corner of the massive, portrait painting of the family picture (minus me), I don't want any tail end of the family kids to feel left out. But, I found these great finds that I would LOVE to own... someday.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Seven Years



Seven years ago today we were married.

Happy Anniversary!



*4 years ago today Buddy was born. Happy Birthday Buddy!

Puppy


photo from www.jcrew.com

Nope, we didn't get a puppy, I just found this picture that makes we want to.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

T-Shirt and Jeans


image from gap.com

I'm a T-shirt and jeans sort of girl. Always have been. Some told me that in high school like it was an insult. It's not insulting. It's just who I am. Funny too because my mom is not a T-shirt and jeans sort of person. I can remember having to be dressed up in my fanciest clothes as a kid for a shopping trip to the mall. The mall! But times were different then. No one dresses in their best to go shopping anymore.

But I think I'm going through a sort of early mid-life crisis. I turn 30 in June. THIRTY! It seems unfathomable that I'm not still 22. So I decided I need to dress better. Now, I don't think I dress bad. I don't wear any of the clothes I wore in high school. I don't think I even own any of the clothes I had in high school. Even looking back to pictures of me in college, my T-shirts are grubbier T-shirts than what I wear now. So at least I've progressed in the past decade. But I still think that there has to be some way to pull of being a T-shirt and jeans loving person, but not looking like a sloppy teen, or even a sloppy twenty something. I decided the other day that I should wear casual skirts more often. So I'm on a hunt of decent priced casual skirts. Any suggestions? I found a cute brown linen one at H&M tonight for under $10. (Love H&M by the way. Love love love it.)

Along the same lines, I need a new hairstyle... but that's a post for another day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cute Fabric

My mom just sent me this link for cute LDS fabric. Love it! Unfortunately I have too much fabric I've done nothing with already. And the apron... the pattern just showed up, the fabric is waiting to be washed. Hopefully I'll actually accomplish a sewing project soon.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Electronic Pet Peeve




My husband forwarded this article to me today. I totally agree with this guy, think he's hilarious and wish I could have written the article myself.

Martha might not be all bad



I realized today that Martha Stewart's show isn't on cable. This means that our bunny eared TV might allow me to watch her show. Now I don't love her show, or her for that matter, but I miss the Food Network and The Learning Channel. While looking around her website today, I found this fabulous idea... turning your kid's drawings into a stuffed toy. Princess Sparkley already picked out some crazy fabric for me to make a real teddy bear since I wouldn't let her cuddle with the one we made out of construction paper in her history lesson on Teddy Roosevelt.

Confession



I get kid book ideas from the Pottery Barn Kids catalog.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One of those people



Back when I was in college, I was leaving Target one windy day and just as I got to my car a van full of crazy little kids pulled up next to my car and as one of the kids opened the door the wind caught it and blew it into the side of my car. It took off some paint and left a dent, but only about the size of a dime. The mom was super apologetic. I felt sorry for them. I told them it was no big deal, don't worry about it. It was fine. It had been more wind than kid anyway. But I've always remembered that experience.

I've turned into that mom. No, my kids didn't open our car door into another car, but really, it's only a matter of time. I was that other mom. The one circling her way through the store with the screaming kid throwing the world's largest tantrum. My kid was screaming hysterically while chanting "I want that excavator truck." At least it was Walmart, so I was sort of among that element of screaming kids. I tried to smile at people sending them a friendly, "Yeah, my kid is annoying me too" vibe.

So, I just want to publicly thank Princess Sparkley and Baby X for their excellent behavior in the midst of chaos.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fanatics



I was born and raised in southern California, as was my dad. But we are avid Boston Red Sox fans. Obviously, he instilled this obsession in me. And like any good daughter, and fan, I've instilled it in my kids.

If you haven't heard about the above baseball jersey, it's going for about $70,000 on ebay right now.

From the ebay listing:

The rivalry between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees is one of the longest and the most dramatic in professional sports. The latest chapter was written when a construction worker—a diehard Red Sox fan—secretly buried a David Ortiz jersey in the concrete of the new Yankee Stadium in hopes of "cursing" the new ballpark.

Rumors of the worker’s activity were verified, and the jersey was located under two feet of concrete. Following the discovery, Yankees President Randy Levine indicated that the shirt would be given to the Jimmy Fund to be auctioned off, a move that proves that when it comes to cancer, everyone is on the same team.

Oh, and this:

It still has some of the cement still on it!

I called my dad to see if he'd seen it on ebay. He joked about how he should bid on it (I never thought I'd say this about my dad, but he's not THAT big of a Red Sox fan). Then he voiced dismay at the fact that it had been discovered so soon. That worker who secretly buried it should have kept his mouth shut for a few years and not bragged about it. I agree. But with three days left, there's still time, and with some deep pockets, this jack hammered, cement encrusted jersey could be yours. Start your bidding!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Baby X is getting bigger

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I saw in some parenting magazine a few years ago a story about a mom who took a picture of her baby girl in her old bathing suit every year on the girl's birthday. At first it was just this bundle of cloth, then a dress as the baby grew into a little girl and then it actually fit her perfectly at age 16 or so. I saw a similar story of a mom who took a picture of her baby each month of its first year. It was really neat to see how a newborn (who, let's admit it, is never really that cute), turns into a baby.

So I've been taking Baby X's picture every Saturday (excluding the Saturday he was born and when he was back in the hospital) with this alligator. Here are his first twelve weeks.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chili with Corn Dumplings



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On a cold rainy day like today, I'm wishing I hadn't already made this for dinner this week.


1 1/2lbs lean ground beef
3/4cup chopped onion
1can (15.25 oz) Green Giant® whole kernel corn, undrained
1can (16 oz) stewed tomatoes, undrained
* I also add 1 can of kidney beans
1can (8 oz) tomato sauce
2tablespoons chili powder
1teaspoon red pepper sauce
1 1/3cups Original Bisquick® mix
2/3cup cornmeal
2/3cup milk
2to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, if desired
1.


Cook beef and onion in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain. Reserve 1/2 cup of the corn. Stir remaining corn with liquid, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder and pepper sauce into beef mixture. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
2.
Mix Bisquick mix and cornmeal. Stir in milk, cilantro and reserved 1/2 cup corn just until moistened.
3.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto simmering chili. Cook uncovered over low heat 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer or until dumplings are dry.



Finding the time to sew

Wanting to make one of these:


Pillowcase Dress

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Recess

image from flickr

Remember back in elementary school when recess was your favorite part of the day. And even if it wasn't, if you secretly liked Language Arts or Science, you still said recess so you could pretend to be cool. I'm on a recess break right now.

To get her to agree to be home schooled, we had to promise Princess Sparkley that she could still have "recess." I'm not sure how she even knew about recess, having never been to school, it must just be part of being a kid. So we've done Language Arts and Science for the day and still have to get through Math, Art and Phonics. And it's almost time to start dinner. Today has been one of those days.

First I had to get the four of us ready to go before 9 AM. A task I try to avoid. Due to the extreme windiness we drove my husband to school rather than making him ride his bike through a wind tunnel. After dropping him off, we picked up my visiting teaching companion and headed out of town to visit a woman for the first time. Then, since Ice Cream Alice 2 died last night, a trip to Walmart (because they have fish supplies AND fabric- - see, I'm multitasking) to buy a supply of everything I read about here, to try to save St. Louis Race Car, who was exhibiting similar symptoms. While at Walmart we have to get fabric for Buddy's reward for being fully, cross my fingers, *potty trained, (*warning, this link includes a picture of poop) I'm supposed to sew him something out of this race car fabric we saw at Hancock Fabric forever ago. I thought I'd seen the same fabric on a Walmart trip, and probably cheaper. So we checked, and it wasn't there. But there was another race car fabric. And he liked it. Success.

image from flickr
In History last week Princess Sparkley learned about Theodore Roosevelt and how the teddy bear was named for him and we make construction paper bears. She wanted to make a fabric one and had decided that when we got the race car fabric, we needed to get fabric for her bear as well. Then, just because it was such great fabric I bought some polka dotty flannel for who knows what. I held back all urges to buy the greatest fabric for my future apron because I don't have the pattern yet (I'm bidding on it on ebay) and I don't know how much fabric I'll actually need. So I've added another stack of fabric to the too much fabric I already own and more sewing projects I don't have time to sew.

Then home where it turned into a feed the starving baby/save the dying fish frenzy. I'm happy to report that the baby is full and napping, and the dying fish seems to be moving around a bit more. AND, we've accomplished 3 of 5 school lessons. But now recess is over, all I've accomplished is a scatterbrained blog post, and now the craziness must begin again.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Liquid Gold


image thanks to www.art.com

Worse than spilling 4 oz. of breast milk on the counter? Watching 8 oz. fall out of the fridge, lid come free and milk spill onto floor, under both fridge and stove. Argh!

Lil' Topper

A friend's little boy was sipping out of a water bottle with one of these the other day. Such a great idea. I'm amazed that with each new kid I have there are so many new inventions and improvements on old inventions in the baby world.


# 2

Due to the passing of Ice Cream Alice, we would now like to introduce...

Ice Cream Alice 2




I can't even believe the difference between Ice Cream Alice 1 and Ice Cream Alice 2. This fish swims all over. And it even seems to have livened up Buddy's fish, whose name is too long to type. I think we showed up in the pet store this time on the day they got all new Bettas because let me tell you, the first time we had to tap on all their little containers to make sure they weren't dead, and this time they were all swimming around like crazy. Hopefully Ice Cream Alice 2 will be with us for awhile because next on the list of pets my kids want are: birds, a cat, a puppy, a pony. The unfortunate part of all of this is that now Buddy wants his fish to die so he can get a new one. Apparently a huge part of the fun of having a pet fish is going to the store, picking out a fish, buying it, and bringing it home. After just one week they no longer need to "kiss" the fish goodnight. The novelty has warn off. If I had only known, we could have just "adopted" a fish that we visited on occasion at its home at PetCo.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

This is the easiest fancy cookie ever.



Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups

Instead of the melty chocolate centers the official recipe calls for, I use Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures. Mmmmm... chocolate and peanut butter.

Ingredients:
1 pkg. of Nestle Toll House refrigerated chocolate chip cookie bar dough
1 bag of mini Reeses's Peanut Butter Cups

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease or paper-line 24 mini-muffin cups.

Place squares of dough into prepared muffin cups; press down lightly in center to make a well.


Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are set. About 5 minutes before removing from oven, place a Reese's cup in the center of each one. Finish baking. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.




Baby Burrito

We would not be surviving without:



Our baby burrito

*doesn't that position he wiggled himself into look uncomfortable?!?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Glazed Chicken Wings

Call us crazy, but my husband and I both hate HATE eating meat off of a bone. But these tasty little appetizers are worth it. This is my brother-in-law's recipe. It's easy and so yummy.




Glazed Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

3 lb. chicken wings

2/3 cup soy sauce

½ cup honey

2 tbsp. oil

2 tsp. Chinese Five Spice

2 cloves garlic


Marinade for one hour.

Cook at 375 for one hour.

Kitchen Gadget Obsession

I'm obsessed with kitchen gadgets. I think I get it from my mom. While she wasn't the main cook in my family for most of my growing up life that I remember, she always made sure we had the newest or best kitchen tools. I can remember how excited she was when she found out there was such a thing as a cherry pitter and how we hunted it down, even though once we owned it, it was rarely used. We also had a tiny little contraption for ridding strawberries of their stems, and this long, tong like thing for shaping a taco while it deep fried. A few Thanksgivings ago my mom and I found what I can only describe as a pizza cutter for crescent rolls, sort of like this. You rolled out the dough, then you rolled this contraption over it and it cut your dough into multiple triangles for you to then roll up. So I love fun gadgets like this.

I think it was this love of all things cooking that attracted me to being a Pampered Chef consultant for a very short time... just long enough to earn hundreds of dollars worth of free products. Yippee.

What are the latest kitchen gadgets I want? Well, they aren't so much gadgets, but here's my list:



Rival White Mountain Ice Cream Freezer/Maker

I love homemade ice cream and have never had any success making it. There is a couple from church who always bring the yummiest varieties of homemade ice cream to any church activity so I made my husband ask them what kind of ice cream maker they used. Someday, I want one.



Footed Cake Platter w/ Dome

Because a cake needs a great presentation. My mom has one of these. They just look nice.




Tall Mousse or Parfait Glasses

For smoothies and milk shakes and mousse. Yum




Soda spoons

To reach the bottom of the glass when eating milkshakes, root beer floats, etc.





Ramekins

Because Marta raves about them on her blog so much.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hundreds of Books, Thousands of Books, Millions and Billions and Trillions of Books!



In case you hadn't caught on, I like to read. And my husband likes to read. Needless to say, we own a lot of books. And I mean A LOT! I can remember buying my first bookshelf when I was in college and being so proud of my little book collection. It has grown. I would venture to say that my husband's books out number mine, but if you count the children's books as mine... it's close.

When we were first married we had a rule: For every book we bought, we had to put money into a jar and that would eventually pay for a new bookshelf. It didn't work so well. And while we've been very good about using the library more in the past few years, our book collection is in fact out of control. We have one giant bookshelf full of books. Another, smaller one mostly filled with books (and my husband's folded map collection). Then we have two entire bookshelves filled to capacity with kid's books. And if we clear out the box of books that each of our kids keeps in their bed to look at after bedtime, there's no where to put them. That's not counting the twelve or so boxes of books currently residing in my in-law's basement in St. Louis. Or the two boxes of fancy books decorating my brother-in-law's built in bookshelves. Yikes.

Yet our local library is having a book sale, and today is the day when you can buy an entire bag of books for $5. You can't expect us not to go. The problem is, not only do we all like to read, we all like books. Love them in fact. But were will we put them all?

Lead Toys and Good Parenting



Good parents that we are, we took advantage of all the Chinese made toys with lead in them to try to scare our nearly six year old daughter from chewing on nearly everything she comes in contact with. Unfortunately it has backfired. She still puts everything in her mouth, THEN remembers she wasn't supposed to, and comes to us crying, thinking she's eaten lead and is going to die. So we haven't broken her of a bad habit, and we've instilled in her a sense of paranoia.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Organizing Recipes

My parents built the house I grew up in so everything for the most part was custom built to what they wanted. In the kitchen was a built in desk. In the desk were two, really long skinny drawers for filing away 3.5x5 and 4x6 recipe cards. Brilliant.




As a Young Women's project, I assembled the above recipe box of my favorite recipes so that when I was off at college on my own without mom and dad cooking for me, I'd have some recipes I could make. The problem with this recipe box, which my husband often kids me about, is that it's only about 4 inches deep and 2 1/2 inches are desserts. I realize that this must really be a problem as I'm busily baking a cake, (just because), with no idea what to make for dinner and already planning my next dessert (Wendy's grandma's cookie recipe I got from Wendy's sister when we were roommates) I'm wishing that dinners could be that much more fun for me to make. Someone enjoys baking meals, right?

Several years ago I decided to assemble all of my family's recipes into a cookbook, sort of like schools or church groups do on occasion. I gathered dozens of recipes, typed them into my computer and then kept waiting for my mom to find her mom's such and such recipe, or for my brother-in-law to email me his recipe for something. Then I'd discover several new fun recipes to include, and my sister would make something yummy for Sunday dinner and I finally just gave up on ever completing it. We are a family of evolving recipes. We have the old standards, but I think each of us has a subscription to a cooking magazine.

Then, two Thanksgivings ago my sister-in-law showed up with a binder of recipes in plastic protective sleeves that she'd brought along to help contribute to the Thanksgiving feast. I thought this idea was great because I get a lot of recipes from magazines (ie: Taste of Home, Food and Family, Family Fun) or I print them off of various websites. Then I read this on The Pioneer Woman's website about her mom's enormous, coveted recipe binders. And I knew that this was definitely the way for me, to have all of my recipes organized. Although I might need a separate binder just for desserts.



Now I just have to print out all the recipes I have typed on my computer, make them, take their picture (I'm a bit partial towards cookbooks with recipes and when I say "a bit," I mean I won't buy a cookbook without pictures) and stockpile binders and plastic sleeves.

Wax Paper



When I was driving from California to Arizona with my parents last month, my mom was reading the Heloise Hints or some similar section of the paper when she came across something that cracked her up. She shared. It cracked me up as well. One woman's hint was that she saves money on wax paper by saving cereal bags when the cereal is gone and washing them. As you can tell, my mom and I are not the thriftiest of people. Part of the hilarity in this is that my mom has a box of wax paper squares she must have bought at Costco 10 years ago that is still going strong. I don't know the exact price at my local grocery store, but I found it for sale online here for $1.42. So now, every time I'm throwing away an empty box of cereal I have to laugh thinking about washing the wax paper bag and saving it.

*While trying to find the exact "hint" in a web search I found a lot of useful purposes for cereal bags that you couldn't do with just regular wax paper (ie: crushing up cornflakes or potato chips--- since they rip through regular and freezer ziplock bags). So maybe I was too quick in my laughter, but I'm still not sure I'd ever find myself washing out a cereal bag.


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