Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspiration

PLEASE excuse the poor photography/cropping.  As evidenced by the time stamp, these were taken/made years ago.

Once upon a time, I used to make cards.  Often.  I really should get back into it.  I have all the supplies (and then some), just not the greatest work space; though, I suppose, I've always had to "make due" when it comes to crafting space.

Anyway, I rediscovered these this evening and thought, I could make those better now.

Perhaps I should.  They always were some of my favorites to make.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Still Blah

I still feel like crap.

Stuffed up, feverish, and lethargic.

In other news, this little girl turns 8 next month:


How did that happen?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blah

I'm sick with some nasty head cold.

So, in lieu of an actual post with a recent photo, here is yet another example of the cheese.



Obviously, nothing impedes the cheese, not even a football helmet.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Star Wars

These are Mr. Einstein's, but every once in awhile he brings them out and lets the kids play with them.


Afterwards, they talk about it for weeks.  It's Star Wars-this, and Darf Vadar-that.

Yes, I wrote "Darf" on purpose.


Apparently, it's pretty special.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Party Time

C went to a birthday party this morning.

She's been to several, but I'm pretty sure this was the first party she's ever been to where her sister wasn't also invited.

(She's been to a party by herself (with mom in attendance, of course), but her sister was also invited, though I wouldn't let sister go.)

She's growing up so fast!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Melody

This is Melody, the one member of the family I don't think I've ever mentioned before.


Since we lost her brother, she's been the only animal in the house (besides the kids; heh).

She is sweet and fuzzy and obnoxious.

She has funny eyes for a cat and fur that can be brushed both ways.

If I sit down, she is meowing to sit in my lap, which is kind of funny since she didn't used to be a lap cat.

She is a picky eater and knows the instant I open a can of tuna.  Actually, she can distinguish a tuna can from other canned food just from the sound of the can on the counter.

She is a wishful thinker.

And obnoxious.

(Did I already mention obnoxious?)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Adoptive Mom

If would please take a moment, click this link.

It was written by my lovely friend Sara.  She, like me, is a mom, but her story to motherhood is completely different than mine, than most of ours.

She is an adoptive mom.

Her (and her husband's) story is a beautiful, touching one; a story that many of us prayed for years would happen.  And though the journey wasn't what any of us expected, the outcome was always meant to be:

Sara became a mom.

Breakfast of Champions

This is by far my favorite breakfast:  homemade yogurt, honey, and granola.  Preferably homemade granola, but it doesn't have to be.  I just like granola.


Here's the granola recipe I made Monday morning.  It's my favorite granola recipe, but I do like to change things up now and then.

Power Granola
(original recipe via link; modified recipe below)

Ingredients

2 cups regular oats
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc., or a combination)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
cooking spray
1/3 cup dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, golden raisins, etc.)

Preparation

1.  Preheat oven to 300°.

2.  Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.

3.  Combine orange juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat; stir in oil and vanilla.

4.  Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat.  Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 300° for 27 minutes total, stirring at 9 minute intervals, or until golden brown.  Spoon granola into bowl; stir in dried fruit.  Cool completely.

Store completely cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

What I absolutely love about this recipe is how many variations there are.  I've done walnuts and cranberries, almonds and blueberries, walnuts and almonds and golden raisins (my favorite), and many others, just depending on what I have on hand.

Your cooking time may vary, just so you know.  The reviews on the original recipe suggested the cooking method I use, and it works best for me.  My oven tends to cook hot, though.

Let me know if you make this granola and what combos you try.  I'm always looking for new, yummy variations.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Late-Start Monday

In our school district, we have what's commonly known as late-start Mondays.  Schools start 1 hour and 15 minutes late on Mondays so teachers have time to collaborate.  The teachers love it, the parents not so much.

I do, though; I love it.  I find myself so productive on Mondays!  Oftentimes, I'm so consumed with what I'm doing that I end up forgetting to eat breakfast.

But, there's usually something sweet baking, so I just eat that instead.

I'm health-conscious like that.

This week the productivity was fabulous.  Chili in the crockpot, yogurt in the yogurt maker, red velvet crinkle cookies (via Pinterest),




granola (different than this one),


and two loads of laundry, one dried and one washed.

  All of this done by 11:30 Monday morning.

Not to brag or anything...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine, Pick Your Plum Style

If you haven't heard of Pick Your Plum before, you're completely missing out.

They sell discounted craft (mostly, but not always) items, but in very limited amounts, and only for 24 hours once posted.  Hence why their tag line is "Get it before your neighbor does."

These cute little packaging printables were free this last weekend:


No compensation for this post, but I did sign up to be an affiliate for Pick Your Plum.  Here's my link, just in case. *wink*

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jammin'

M got some new jammies yesterday.  I had to wash them immediately because there was a monster truck on one of them.


And then there's the cheese.  *sigh*

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not

I bought a couple bags of Valentine M&M's for E's Valentines this year, then decided not to use them.  They'll get plenty of other candy, right?

So, in the spirit of not wasting anything, I used them to make cookies.




Good choice.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chesskers

Yesterday morning, E and her BFF were playing "chess," as only 7 year-olds can play it.


They set it up like checkers and called out "checkmate" every time they moved.

Then, of course, they argued over the rules.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Recipe--Shepherd's Pie

This is what we had for dinner this last week:


It's unbaked at this point, though.

Shepherd's Pie. 
Yummy goodness of meat, veggies, and mashed potatoes, all thrown together into one baking dish.

Yum.

2/3 of the kids loved it!  The other one is picky and his opinion doesn't really count on how good something is.  Unless he loves it, of course.

It's a Cooking Light recipe I got from myrecipes.com, though I modified it.  It has quite a bit of prep work, but it's totally worth it.  Try making more than one and freezing the rest.  It makes all the work even more worth it.

(actual recipe through the link; modified recipe below)

Ingredients

Potato topping:

2 pounds peeled baking potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Filling:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups diced carrot
6 cups quartered mushrooms (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tsp dried rubbed sage
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups low-salt beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp paprika

Preparation

To prepare potato topping, place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water.  Bring to a boil; cook 20 minutes or until very tender.  Drain.  Place potatoes, sour cream, and next 5 ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.  Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare filling, brown beef in a large nonstick skillet and drain off fat.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Heat oil in same skillet over medium-high heat.  Add carrot; sauté 7 minutes.  Add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes.  Add 1 tsp sage and garlic; sauté 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring until well-blended.  Add broth and wine; bring to a boil.  stir in tomato paste and vinegar.  Add beef and mix thoroughly.  Spoon meat mixture into a 2-quart casserole.

Spread potato topping over meat mixture; sprinkle with paprika.  Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

If frozen, thaw in fridge overnight then bake according to directions above.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Inaugural

I finally ordered myself a new lens for my camera.

I was more than happy to use my "telephoto" exclusively, but I also wanted to explore my camera's options a little more fully.

So, I bought myself a prime lens.  A 50mm prime lens, to be exact.

These are the inaugural photos.  The color is off, and the focus, probably, but I don't really care.  I was just having fun.  And my subject was more than willing to have his dinner interrupted for a little while.



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Zaycon

If you haven't heard of Zaycon Foods yet, go check them out.

They deliver local and fresh meat and fruit at a great value.  They are nationwide and they are good.  We've bought boneless, skinless chicken breasts and low-fat ground beef from them so far.


We split both boxes with some friends.

You have to buy in bulk (40 pounds for the chicken and beef), but at their prices, it's totally worth it to buy that much, spend a few hours processing, and freeze.

And it really is fresh.  Neither the chicken nor the beef had ever been frozen, and there were no abnormal smells.

Anyway, no compensation for me from Zaycon.  Just thought I'd pass along my referral link if anyone else is interested.  I think I earn some credit for enough referrals, but I'm not sure.  I don't really care.  Go check them out and see if they're in your area.  If you have the freezer room, it's totally worth it (like I said earlier; sheesh!).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Homemade--Ranch Seasoning Mix

I've been trying not to buy so many ready-made food products lately, and my latest foray into homemade is ranch dressing.


I used this recipe, but I mixed it into my homemade yogurt.

It doesn't taste like store-bought ranch, but it's still really yummy!

I made it for snacks at C's preschool.  We'll see how the kids like it later today.

Homemade Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

Add each of the dried spices to a bowl and gently stir.
(I dumped them all into an empty spice jar and shook.)
Whisk 1 Tbsp ranch seasoning with 1/3 cup mayo or yogurt and 1/4 cup milk (more or less depending on preferred consistency).
Season with salt to taste.
Use immediately or refrigerate up to three days.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Love Note

I was cleaning out part of my craft closet the other day, and stumbled across this "love note" from Mr. Einstein.


We had only been dating for 3 months at the time (ah, young love!), but we knew going into the relationship that we were dating to marry.

And all these years later, I still have the note.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pinterest Worthy--Allowance Cans

E gets an allowance every month.

She tithes 10% to our church, half of the original amount goes into savings, and the rest goes into spending.

To make everything easier, I made these cans for her:


I just used a couple of clean cans from canned tomatoes, mod podged pretty paper onto them, and embellished with buttons, flowers, rhinestones, ribbon, tags, and alphabet stickers.

Aren't they cute?

Every once in awhile we take her savings to the bank and her tithe goes into her wallet.  The spending stays in the can until she's ready to spend it.

Usually, she just buys books from the book fair at her school; but the last six months she's been saving up for her own DSi.  She's currently got enough for the system, but needs a little bit more for games.

I'm so proud of her!

In a few more months, I'll have to make some for C, too.

So exciting!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Missing Kids

See these sweet faces?


Well, I won't be seeing them this morning anytime soon.

My in-laws are in town and the kids spent the night with them at the hotel.

And as much as I will miss them, they'll be back soon.

Maybe too soon...

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Tower

Wednesdays and Thursdays, this is what I see all morning long:


And why anybody needs to copyright a photo of laundry is beyond me.  Habit, I guess.

Ugh.

I have a semi-strict laundry washing schedule, though I am often pretty lax in the folding.

Lately, I've been really on top of things.

Monday:  sheets and towels--make bed(s), change towels
Tuesday:  kids' clothes (three separate loads to make folding easier)
Wednesday:  darks, lights, maybe whites--fold kids' clothes
Thursday:  whites, if not washed previous day--fold darks, lights, whites

What keeps me on top of folding, and why I don't do it every day, is sitting down during nap time and watching Netflix.

No joke.

I have found while watching a 45-60 minute show (right now it's Star Trek:  The Next Generation; don't judge) that I can get 2-3 loads folded and organized.

I realize 2-3 loads in an hour doesn't sound like much, but I'm a super particular laundry folder.  Everything needs to be creased and lined-up and folded just right so it matches.

If only I could be that particular in the rest of my chores...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Water Color

If you believe this blog at all, I suspect you think we do art projects quite often around here.

I suppose in the last month or two we have, but not usually.

Although, maybe we should do them more often.  That would definitely not be a bad thing.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pinterest Worthy--Magnetic Board

Last week, I made two of these for the nursery at church:


I got the idea from Pinterest, but made them my own.

I had two old jelly roll pans too gross for baking and had Mr. Einstein spray paint the bottom and sides white. 
(Side note:  I could have done the painting myself, but I'm not very good at it.  I suppose I could have practiced, but I'm a little scared of how addicted to spray painting everything I'd get.)

Then I cut strips of scrapbook paper to fit, mod podged everything into place, and embellished with a ribbon.  Mr. Einstein hammered two holes into the top of each, then I added a combination of ribbon and hemp as a hanger.

Voila!

Two magnetic name tag boards; boys on the top, girls on the bottom.

Pretty cute, no?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Playing Grownup

Mr. Einstein gave me a set of pearls as a wedding gift 11 1/2 years ago.

I rarely wear them, since there are few places out here fancy enough for pearls; but lately, I've been making a conscious effort to wear them more.


Every time I do, I feel like I'm playing at being a grownup.

And it's a fun game.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pizza

On Sundays, usually, we have pizza for dinner.

Homemade pizza.

I let each of the kids "make" their own mini-pizzas, and they are very, very predictable.


E wants only cheese and sausage. 
 C wants everything--pepperoni (turkey), sausage, mushrooms, olives, onions, peppers, etc.  
M's choices vary; it used to be cheese and pepperoni, but this week is was cheese and mushrooms.

Go figure.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lunchtime Inspiration

I so easily get stuck in lunchtime ruts, serving the same thing over and over again.

The other day, though, I had an inspiration.  I introduced two of my kids to my favorite lunch:  apples with peanut butter and granola.

*yum*


Of course, I served it to them differently.  Let's face it:  apple halves smeared with peanut butter then dipped in granola is rather messy for adults.; I shudder to think what my kids would have looked like afterwards.


It was a hit.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

So, So Proud

At the risk of jinxing everything, I declare this little man fully potty trained.

Wahoo!!!

It took three tries, a bag of mini marshmallows, and several pairs of sacrificed underwear, but it is finished.


And he is so, so proud!


As are we.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Ramona Moment

In a very Ramona moment, C wanted to make a really big picture with her daddy.

So, they did.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shirley Temple

Big sister wanted curly hair, so little sister wanted curly hair.

Unfortunately, big sister's curls didn't last the day.

Fortunately, little sister's did.


  Through school, through rest time, and even through the night.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Cheese

As promised, here is the cheese.

I abhor the cheese.

Every time he sees the camera, he cheeses.


Every


stinkin'


time.


It's nearly impossible to get a photo of him from the front without the cheese.  I can, but he has to be sufficiently distracted, completely absorbed, or taken by surprise.

I mean, don't get me wrong, the cheese is cute.  That widdle thumb and those tiny dimples get me every time.  But still.  It's cheesy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Evening of Kung Fu and Nachos

We're generally a little behind the times when it comes to seeing "new" movies.  We're rather frugal (read:  cheap), and movie viewing in a theater just isn't usually in the budget.

So, we rely on Netflix (streaming only) and the library to catch us up.

Most Sundays we spend the evening eating dinner in the living room and watching a movie.

This Sunday it was Kung Fu Panda 2 and nachos.

As you can see, the kids were riveted.


Riveted, that is, until one of them realized I had the camera out.  Fortunately I took the photo before the cheese came out.
   (I can't believe I don't have a picture of the cheese!  I'll have to rectify that...)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sweet

When I came out of the bathroom from showering the other morning, this is what greeted me:


I knew one of them was there because I put him there.  The other one was a complete surprise.

And even though I know she's totally faking it, it's still sweet.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Getting It

Along with making granola, I've recently begun to make yogurt.

My mom makes it a lot, but I never liked it when I was younger.  It was plain and "lumpy" compared to store bought.

Now, however, I get it.


It's still plain and lumpy, but it's also thick and creamy.

And customizable.

My kids like it with vanilla extract and powdered sugar.  I like it with honey and granola.

I also like that I know exactly what's gone into it and that I made it.

I get it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Hero

He is my superhero.  My protector.

He rescues me from monsters and bad cars.


  With his cape and monster tractor he chases them away and tells me I'm safe.


And after the monsters are gone and the bad cars vanquished, he looks up at me, holds his arms up high, and says, "Mommy, I want you."

Then it's my turn to be the hero.