"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, June 30, 2010

Watch Me! Watch Me!

I hate when kids enter that "Watch me. Watch me!" phase of childhood. Luckily, my own kids have never been especially annoying about it. But for some reason, lately, I've become the lady that all toddler's around me make demands of to "watch me!"

1. Random two year old at Buddy's t-ball practices. Ignores her mom choosing rather to hang out with me, her hand on my thigh so I can't scoot away.* And then proceeds to jump off the bleachers. Each time demanding that I watch her. And she won't jump until I look at her, getting louder with her "watch me!" yelling until I actually look.

2. Random kid at our complex's toddler pool. While my own two year old is wandering around in the water enjoying himself, not demanding that I watch him, this two year old, whose own mother is just feet away, demands that I watch him. Over and over again.

3. New random toddler in the toddler pool. A new kid joins us in the pool and takes off with the demands that I watch him.

What's up with this? I don't want to be mean to a toddler, but seriously, this drives me nuts in kids. And kids that are strangers?!? I don't have to tolerate this, do I? Shouldn't their moms loudly declare to their toddlers their intentions to watch them and leave me in peace? It's only so cute for so long, and I can't stand parents that are so blinded by how "cute" their kid is that they don't realize how annoying their kid is being.

*I am not a touchy person. Strangers, even if they are toddlers, touching my thighs, do not make me happy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lots of Books

Books in the house are correlated with good outcomes for children

A study recently published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility found that just having books around the house (the more, the better) is correlated with how many years of schooling a child will complete. The study (authored by M.D.R. Evans, Jonathan Kelley, Joanna Sikorac and Donald J. Treimand) looked at samples from 27 nations, and according to its abstract, found that growing up in a household with 500 or more books is "as great an advantage as having university-educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father." Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books.

From Laura Miller

Hat Tip: Tyler Cowen

Monday, June 28, 2010

Reinventing

So, as a green door person how should I reinvent myself? I'm thinking I should be more productive. With Jed's semester done, as well as the kids' regular school year, we've sort of wandered into lazy summer days. We've only done summer schoolwork a handful of times over the past few weeks. We've stopped venturing outside to the pool, or running, or playing soccer because it's gotten too hot. We managed to go to bed at decent times for a few nights, but then stumbled back into our night owl habits. So to reinvent myself, I'm putting myself into action. Here's just a small list to remind me to keep busy:
  • Going to bed earlier.
  • Summer schoolwork 4 days a week.
  • Outdoor stuff (running, pool, soccer, bikes, etc.)
  • Homeschool group activities
  • Working on all of my abandoned sewing and craft projects.
  • Big art project for the kids.
  • Teaching my kids to be better workers (any advice on this one?)
  • Etc. Etc.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Famous Mint Brownies



I may have found the mint brownie recipe I've been searching for forever. I'm going to have to give them a try this week and see if I'm right. Cross your fingers for me. Although it's been so many years now, I have no idea if I would even know if these were them or not. Here's the recipe.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Green Door



We've had a reddish pink front door for the past five years in two different states. My mom thinks we've become red door people. Last week, we got a notice from our rent management company that they'd be coming through this week and painting everyone's doors. Today they painted our door... GREEN! We aren't green door people. It's a fresh start to reinvent ourselves.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Greatest Sugar Cookie: Cookie 2

My search for the greatest sugar cookie continues. I used my USA map, California and palm tree shaped cookie cutters for this batch since Father's Day was approaching last week when I made them and the dad in our house is all about maps.

Here is cookie number 2's recipe: Soft Sugar Cookie.*








Thoughts on these cookies:

These cookies may have won the contest, but I feel like I can't say that yet since we're only two cookies in to the contest. (See the other cookie review here.) The dough was delicious. Jed probably ate three cookies worth of dough. Baked and not frosted they tasted great. Baked AND frosted they tasted fabulous. They weren't too crunchy. They weren't too soft. They were the perfect amount of crunchy and soft. Jed and I had our taste test the night they were baked but the kids were already in bed, so we all tried them again the next night (a day old) and they were still super yummy, a little softer and more crumbly, but that isn't necessarily bad.

Jed loved these (which is a huge improvement from the last recipe). The kids loved them (but they aren't really picky when it comes to cookies) and especially enjoyed chomping off Florida followed up by the Pacific Northwest, etc.. And I loved them.

The only drawback is refrigerating the dough. But that is easy enough if you know that before you embark on making them. Telling your hubby there will be sugar cookies that night, and then saying, "Just kidding, they have to refrigerated overnight," may result in a slightly grumpy husband... luckily it is summertime so we have a large supply of ice cream on hand.



Thanks Andrea, for recommending the recipe.

*I left out the nutmeg because I don't like nutmeg.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Girls' Night

In college, I had a group of friends who referred to themselves as the Lunch Bunch because we tended to skip the devotional and go to lunch instead. I also had roommates and other close friends who would go to TGIFriday's for dessert, and we'd all end up ordering a full meal because we were so deprived of real, nutritious food containing iron and stuff. In Kansas, I had a group of friends who would get together for birthdays and have a girls' night out. The group varied over the years, but there were four of us that were regulars. Now that two of us have jumped ship and moved from Kansas, I decided I'd make up a pretend girls' night out. And since it's pretend, I get to pick any restaurant, not just ones that were available at these different points in my life. I am picking The Cheesecake Factory, and this is what I'd eat for dessert:


Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake

What's your order?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Father's Day Cakes

My kids have been trying to commandeer my birthday this year as a Father's Day only event. This is what happens when every few years my birthday lands on Father's Day. I told them I refused to make: a pecan pie, or a some other "Jed's Favorite" treat that I don't enjoy. I'll make some sort of brownie involving peanut butter, and we'll both be happy. BUT, if it wasn't my birthday, AND if I had ANY sort of cake decorating abilities, I'd like to think I'd give one of these a try. They are fantastic!

The Man I'm Married To

Conversations

As I'm on the way up the stairs to put Little Guy, clothed in only his diaper, in the bath...

Buddy: I like [Little Guy] best when he's naked.

Jed: Funny, that's when I like Mom best.

Me: (flashes furious squinty-eyed look at said husband)

Princess Sparkley: I like mom best when she's wearing clothes ...


I hurried upstairs to avoid hearing any more of the conversation.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Food

Not only do I feel like all I do is cook and feed people, but I also feel like I'm constantly planning out what to make and what to feed people. I'm always so happy when I've planned out a week's worth of meals. Then suddenly, the meal plan has run out! Where did last week go? Now I have to make a new plan. To bad I can't just rotate through the same seven or so meals.

Monday:
Spaghetti (because our menu got all out of whack last week by eating leftovers one night)
(review: spaghetti is spaghetti... but I love the sauce from Aldi)

Tuesday:
Buddy has a T-ball pizza party. I'm not sure if the whole family will go or just Buddy and a parent. If some of us stay home, I'll get California Pizza Kitchen frozen BBQ chicken pizzas for the rest of us. They are on sale at our grocery store this week, and it is our family's quick dinner of choice.

Wednesday:
Potato-sausage foil packs.
(review: I mixed this up a bit this time and added squash and zucchini - which got over cooked- and I just seasoned it with olive oil, sea salt and pepper -we weren't big fans of the lemony marinade in the original recipe).

Thursday:
Chicken Tortellini Casserole
(review: I love this casserole. You really need 19 0z. of tortellini. This time I only had 14 oz. and there was too much sauce and not enough noodles.)

Friday:
Grilled Tilapia with pineapple salsa
(review: Yummy. For fish. Little Guy refused to eat it and kept demanding fish - goldfish crackers are the only fish he's familiar with.)

Saturday:
leftovers

Sunday:
Chicken Enchiladas (because I'm running out of crock pot recipes, and I've made this ahead of time before and stuck it in the fridge until time to bake)
(review: this is another go to recipe of mine. Top it with sour cream, salsa and guacamole... fabulous.)

Monday:
Roxy's Fabulous Chicken (new in a group of recipes from church friends, I'll try it out and share the recipe if it's a keeper)
(review: we liked this. It's basically rice, baked with broccoli and chicken and a sort of cream cheese/Parmesan sauce. The sauce could be more flavorful... it was too much like plain cream cheese flavor, but still good. I'll have to add the recipe for you all to check out.)

Dessert:
lots of ice cream (definitely)
hopefully a new sugar cookie recipe for the challenge (not yet)

Chilled Hot Chocolate

I'm sure none of us bought a giant tub of hot chocolate mix at Sam's Club this winter and then barely made a dent in it before the weather warmed up. None of us, right? But if you were foolish enough to have done such a thing, I have the perfect chilly solution for you... Chilled Hot Chocolate.

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups warm water*
4 envelopes** (1 ounce each) instant hot cocoa mix
2 cups vanilla ice cream
1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream

Directions:
In a blender, combine water and cocoa mix; cover and process until dissolved. Add ice cream and cream; cover and process for 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour into chilled mugs. Yield: 4 servings.

Verdict:
Yum!
I had high hopes for this recipe, but deep down figured it would taste too much like a chocolate milk shake (and I'm not such a big fan of chocolate ice cream or chocolate milkshakes). It did not disappoint my high hopes. As a hater of chocolate milk shakes, I LOVED this. So I figure, if you are like a normal person who loves chocolate milkshakes, this thing should be heavenly to you.

*Here's my question for you: Do you think I could use 3 cups of milk rather than 1 1/2 cups half and half with 1 1/2 cups of water. To me, those seem to cancel themselves out into regular milk. And I tend to have regular milk on hand, always. This is not true about half and half.

**One envelope is about 2 heaping tablespoons.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hiccups

Buddy: Dad, does anyone in our family have the hiccups right now?
Jed: Uh, I don't think so. Do you?
Buddy: Yeah, I was just wondering who I got them from.
Jed: [chuckles] You don't get hiccups that way Buddy...
Buddy: Yes you do.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Checking In

Just checking in to say hello. I've been busy... not quite sure specifically with what and that's never a good sign. All I can think of is staying up late, watching season 4 of Bones (an early birthday present from Jed), reading, a little sewing, a lot of laziness. You get the picture.

Oh, and looking over my resolutions for the year* and panicking that the year is nearly half gone and I have a LONG way to go. I think one of my resolutions for next year should be giving up New Year's resolutions.


*Complete analysis coming at the end of the month, when half the year has slipped away from me.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Making Meals

On days (weeks, months, ...) when I feel like all I am doing it feeding people all day (breakfast, second breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert, night time snack, etc.) I've decided to start reminding myself it could be worse.  In Little House on the Prairie times, pioneer times, any period of time before grocery stores and microwaves and ovens, women spent essentially the entire day cooking.  The time that food prep and cooking would have taken, made it so they really were COOKING ALL DAY LONG.  Good thing they didn't have a local library, bookstore, television or internet. 

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Week Menu starting 6/5/10

I should note that nearly all of these recipes are new to me.

Saturday:

Hot Dogs
Macaroni Salad (review: bleh.)

Sunday:
Slow Cooker Carnitas (review: the carnitas was good, but not as flavorful and citrusy as I had hoped)

Monday:
Chicken and Pasta Dinner -I got my recipe from a church recipe exchange, but, minus the crockpot, it seems a lot like this one I linked to and this one. (review: this is a lot like Penne Rustica (which we've all LOVED) but Princess Sparkley and Jed both said they preferred this version).

Tuesday:
Orange Chicken (review: Super yummy, but again, I wish the orange flavor had been stronger)

Wednesday:
Hamburgers (review: I am incapable of forming raw meat into a burger shape and successfully making a hamburger that cooks right and tastes good. These are great for people like me.)

Thursday:
PW's Ranch Style Chicken (review: Yum. A little too mustardy for me, but I hate mustard.)

Friday:
Beef Flank Steaks (flank steaks, 1 cup 7-up, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup veggie oil, 1/4 tsp garlic powder - marinate 4+hours then grill and serve with your favorite BBQ sauce) (review: I've made this one before. Yum.)

Saturday:
Spaghetti (review: I go to Aldi solely for their spaghetti sauce. Love it!)

Sunday:
Crockpot Brown Sugar Chicken (review: Okay. I was expecting a lot more flavor. And I came home from church to an overpowering garlic smell.)


Dessert (night unassigned):
Soft Sugar Cookies (for my greatest sugar cookie hunt)
(official review coming soon)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Thunderstorm

Our internet was out all morning. Now that it's back on there is a severe thunderstorm warning and I've had to unplug the laptop. Good thing I didn't have anything to say... but do I ever? T-ball practice was canceled. I think maybe I'll make carrot cake tonight and munch on it while I watch the lightening. And that is all.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Earring Allergy

The rule in my family growing up was that we girls couldn't get our ears pierced until we were thirteen. When my sister got her ears pierced, my mom got her ears pierced for the first time too. Today she got one of her ears re-pierced because the hole had closed up. That reminded me that I should suffer through sticking an earring in each ear today to make sure my own ear holes don't close up.

In the last year, I started being unable to wear earrings. I'm not a big jewelry person anyway, but I usually wore earrings to dress up a bit for church or a fancy occasion or sometimes just because. One Sunday, I didn't even make it the mile to church without having to take my earrings out because the lobes had swollen up, were red and horribly itchy. Since then, I've tried a few more times and it's been the same. I read about it online, and it seems I've developed a nickel allergy. The online forum I stumbled across was for people suffering from lupus who also have nickel allergies, so I'm trying not to let my hypochondria take over and convince me I have lupus. What I am going to do is avoid: white gold, sterling silver, stainless steel and tungsten. And I am going to track down some platinum or titanium earrings that don't cost a fortune.

Then I'm going to hope that I don't develop any other crazy allergies as I slowly (or way too quickly) grow old and that this allergy doesn't affect my entire body. One woman said she can't even wear pants that have a cheap button because she gets a rash on her stomach.

Has this happened to anyone else?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

For the Ladies

Have you ever seen those calendars for women with shirtless guys doing chores around the house?

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