Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Books I am reading...

This stack is by my bedside as of late.  I always have four or five books going at a time...how about you?  or is that just me?  Anyway, I always try to get at least 15 or 20 minutes of reading in before lights out.  Sometimes I get more, sometimes I don't even try and I just go to sleep, but that is rare.  So, reading a bit before bed is kind of a ritual for me.  It helps settle my body and mind into a quieter place and gets me ready for the business of rest.  It's a nice period to the end of my day, rather then an exclamation point or question mark, if you follow my train of thought.  It's a piece of the day that is mine and mine alone...I cherish it, I enjoy it, I look forward to it.  So I try to always make it happen, no matter what.
Well, I digress...these are the books I am reading...
A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson.  What a lovely book this is.  It is journal of sorts filled with watercolors of the authors experiences while living in Japan.  It is full of all of the everyday things that makes Japan infinitely interesting to me.  This book had been on my amazon wish list for a few years.  I am glad that I finally purchased it a couple of weeks ago.  Another bonus, since it is full of pictures and drawings, the kiddies love looking through it and are also finding an interest in other places and things too.
Sew What! Skirts by Francesca Denhartog and Carole Ann Camp. I have decided that my uniform this year is skirts paired with leggings and flats or flip flops.  So comfortable and so cute.  This books helps you know how to sew a wide variety of skirts that fit your body perfectly.  It shows you how to plot your own pattern that is made to your exact size.  Sounds daunting, but, it is actually quite easy.  I am sticking to the wrap skirt and one that is merely gathered at the waist.  They are shorter then I might normally wear, if it were not for the leggings, but I am loving them.  This book has so far proven to be a great find.
The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket.  I have to be honest here, I have had this book for several years.  I got it soon after it had been publish and I was so excited to read it since I was an avid reader of the author's blog Yarnstorm.  I was disappointed it it, so I put it on a book shelf and didn't open it again until I unpacked it here at the new house.  I had thought that it would be a book full of projects, patterns and ideas and it wasn't. The book is a collection of short essay's on everything from quilting and knitting, to the best domestic themed movies and cupcakes.  There are very few recipes included and no project instructions which is what I had expected.  But, I decided to give the book a go and it has been delightful.  Sometimes, having expectations can ruin the good that you see right in front of you.  The lesson here for me?  Don't judge something before I give it a chance...I might be missing something wonderful!
I am also still reading Life of Pi, by Yann Martel on my Kindle.  I am really enjoying it as well.  It is proving to be a good read too.
Well, back to my to-do list.
Peace friends!

Monday, March 25, 2013

New shoes and a to-do list...

 Aren't these shoes just about the cutest things ever?  Anyone that really, really knows me, knows that I adore polka dots.  I saw these at Target a couple of weeks ago...on sale mind you, and they had to be mine!  They are flat espadrilles (sp?) and so comfy.  Now I just need Spring to show up so I can actually wear them.
Here is my to-do list about half written out...got to get to it friends, lots to do this week and the kiddies are on Spring Break too!
1, 2, 3...let's go!!!
Peace out!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Plans...

 The kiddies Easter grass is growing quite nicely.  I have had to "mow" the grass twice already and I need to cut it again sometime today.
I mentioned awhile back that I have been plotting Easter baskets too.  I don't go crazy with them, I like homemade goodies and just a few fun things for the kids.  From the ads this year I feel like it's all becoming very commercial and that stores are really pushing buy, Buy, BUY!!!  When did Easter baskets become so big and over loaded?  It's supposed to be simple and just a little something, right?  Or am I the only one that feels this way?  Our children have so much already, do they really need so much more?
So, I have given it some thought.  I try to think about what the kids enjoy doing and what might be fun for them...here is what I have come up with for this year:
*Jump ropes..I found some fun, colorful ones at Target in their $1 section.
*Play Dough...homemade and fun, They have been asking for more and I know the ingredients when I make it, so it really is non-toxic.  Also, I am going to make each of them their favorite color.
*Little cellophane bags of "Bunny Tails."
*Little cellophane bags of chick crackers...Target brand, like Goldfish crackers, b ut perfect for Easter.
*Little cellophane bags of Easter M &Ms.
*Small chocolate bunny for each...what is Easter without a chocolate bunny?
*A bookmark for each that I am making from card stock, stickers, and contac paper.
*A fun new book for each.
*Rey, since he is small will get a container of rice puffs and a bag of yogurt melts for his basket to go with his book.
For the cellophane bags that I am putting things in, I will fill the bag and then I will staple a rectangle piece of card stock (folded in half) at the top that I will write and doodle on.
And that is all I am doing this year.  No sugar or toy overload...just a little fun.  Anyway, that's how I feel about it...not, trying to preach.

I ordered an egg dying kit that came in the mail of few days ago.  It is from Eco-kids and the egg dyes are made from edible plants and vegetables, so I can feel good about them eating the eggs afterward.  We loved deviled eggs around here, so that is probably what I will do with the eggs after we are done.  The colors will be more natural shades, so I hope the kids will still like how they turn out...we shall see.
What are your Easter crafting, decorating, and creating plans this year?  What about recipes?  Anything tasty that you are making...I'm always interested in knowing about that.
Happy Palm Sunday friends!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Recipes...

I want to share a couple of recipes that I have made recently.  My were they tasty.
First, last week I made Black and White Banana Cake...soooo good!  Especially just out of the oven with a dollop of Vanilla Bean ice cream on top.  Chocolate and banana is such a good combination, so this recipe is brilliant.  Very easy to mix together and my kiddies loved it.
The other recipe that I made last week, that I loved (and the kiddies too) was Spanish Chicken and Potato Roast.  I have discovered recently how much I love cooking with chicken thighs.  They are smaller than a chicken breast so they cook up fast, thighs are moist and I have been able to find them for cheaper the chicken breast, so win/win/win right?  The recipe has only a few, simple ingredients, but the flavor is wonderful .  Try it...it's delicious!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Books...

We have started reading chapter books around here...well, I read them aloud and we all love it!  I have been looking forward to reading out loud from long books since before I had babies.  For awhile now I haven't had the energy to read books to the kids at bedtime, so now we read in the mornings before school.  We all get cozy on the couch and while Elijah usually sticks close during the 3 or 4 chapters that I read each day, the girls end up wandering off and playing close by.  They just don't have the attention span to sit and listen for 45 minutes or so.  But, I know they listen in their own way and as long as they are not disruptive they can play nearby.  We have started with the Calendar Club Mysteries by Nancy Star (Please note, I did not pay $60 for the set of books.  I got three of them from Scholastic and the remainder I was able to buy used from thriftbooks.com).  They read quick and have pictures here and there which satisfy the still present need to "see" what the characters look like and what they are doing.  Plus, we have been having a great deal of fun discussing the stories and trying to figure out the mystery in each one.
Also, Elijah is bringing home pre-readers from his class that his teacher loans out.  He reads them to me, takes them back to school and brings home more.  I am amazed at how far he is coming and how well he is reading already. I know that I still have lots of picture book reading ahead of me and I don't mind, as there are wonderful ones that we all love,  But, I am excited to be starting on longer, more involved books.  I hope that the kids will see that there are never ending possibilities with books and that reading can go beyond a picture book.  Life long readers are my goal and I feel like we are well on our way to making that happen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So it is Springtime...



 St. Patrick's Day was fun.  The corned beef was yummy, although I didn't add any cabbage as I figured no one would eat it but me.  And I made Irish Brown Bread, but I over-kneaded the dough and it would have made a better door stop than anything else.  Oh, well.  And I made scalloped potatoes instead of mashed...easier in a way, and good.
I made orange paper mustaches and taped them on green polka dot straws for the day too.  (Although I should disclose that I didn't take the picture of them until this morning)  In hind sight, I think they should have been more like a beard to be considered leprechaun.  So, I'll remember that for next year.
I am very happy with my Shamrock or Oxalis, which is the scientific name I suppose.  It is so green and it has new white flowers blossoming every day.
So it's Spring they say...that is my view as of a few moments ago.  We are buried under feet of snow...not inches...feet.  Plus, it is bitter, bitter cold again this week.
Ah, well.  The cold won't be here much longer and the world will once again be green and warm.  The buds on the trees are swelling and the birds are returning, so while it may not be obvious, Spring is starting to awake.

Friday, March 15, 2013

We wore it on our faces...








Pi(e) Day was delicious!!!
We are so totally doing this again next year!
I don't do themes with most things...but, food?  I'm in!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Pi(e) Day!!!

I forgot to mention yesterday that today is Nation Pi Day...you know, 3-14 or 3.14 the math term?  So in honor of that math term and to start to get the kiddies familiar with it, we will be having pi(e) today at dinner.  I will be making beef empanadas...those are yummy hand pies and a berry pie for dessert.  I might even form the pi symbol in dough and put it on top of the pie crust before I bake it.  Yes, making these things from scratch.  The empanada are a recipe from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn and the berry pie will be my own creation.  I have frozen mixed berries in the freezer and I will make the pie crust using a recipe from my Granny...easy!

Those are a few of the place mats that I have made.  I still have a stack to go, but now we are eating at the big table as a family.  They are all made from quilt weight cotton print fabric and backed with heavy brown felt that I happened to have a whole lot of.  The felt keeps the mats from slip sliding around and makes them more substantial too.  I made them to have a rounded edge in the front to match the curve of the table and so far they have washed well.  All around I am happy with them...I just have about 7 more to make.  One day at a time.  :)
Have a happy day friends.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Plans for the days ahead...


The kiddies are coloring Easter coloring sheets for a contest at a local grocery store.  Did anyone else ever do that when they were small?  I remember coloring a picture for Albertson's when I was probably 8 (?) and I won.  I don't remember what I won or what the picture was.  I only remember using a lot of the color blue.  It's funny what you remember isn't it?
Today I hope to do some sort of St. Patrick's Day craft with the kids.  Any ideas?  I planted a full grown shamrock in a pot yesterday and I bought paper straws too.  I will be making leprechaun  mustaches and sticking them on the straws for them to use on St. Patty's day.  I saw that somewhere and thought it was a very cute idea.  I will also be making the usual corned beef, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and Irish brown bread on Sunday.  I also think I will make some sort of green ice cream float for the kids using vanilla ice cream and some sort green drink.  All I can think of is Kool Aid, which I would rather not use if possible...but, I can't think of anything else to use. It's only one day out of the year right?  So, I suppose it won't hurt them...really.
Oh, and that little guy up there?  He points at everything these days.  He even pushes the button on my coffee pot each morning, with great relish.  He is calming down more and more everyday, his upper teeth are in and we have ditched the binky.  He is 11 months old today...nearly 1 year old.  Where did this year go?
Peace friends!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The work of the weekend...


...and it's not really work at all.
 We went to a celebration for Aztec New Year on Saturday.  I loved, loved, loved the dancing...fierce, strong, beautiful, amazing.
 The kiddies each got a "tattoo" of an Aztec symbol on one hand.  Rubia cried yesterday in her bath because it washed off. 
 The grass is growing so very nicely.  It popped up in just a matter of a few days.  The wall of windows helped with that, I suppose.
 My fabric yo-yos are coming along.  I have about 12 more to sew and then I can start sewing them together.  That picture doesn't really do them any justice, the colors are bright and fun.
A couple of books I have been perusing...each day I see a few more birds coming back to the area.  I want to know what kind I am looking at.  I spied a beautiful red bird that I have never seen before.  It was not a cardinal, I don't think those live around here, so I want to know what it was...still looking.
I also started reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  Still at the beginning...so far so good.
Peace out!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A little of this and that...







Those Daffodils are gone now...my, my, they were lovely while they lasted.
We had green eggs and ham for breakfast on Saturday in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Elijah informed me when he sat down that the ham had to be green too and he wanted the whole yolk of the egg to be green.  I didn't even know how to do that without covering their food with nasty green food coloring...so, I told him fresh basil and parsley was all I could manage.  He smiled and tucked into his plate anyway.
I did some thrifting too.  Old frames I will paint and turn into bulletin boards for the kids.  Next weekend I am going to start painting Evelyn's room, then Rubia's, then Elijah's, then Rey's...not all in one weekend of course.  So I have been figuring out special touches for each of their rooms as I get them done.  I am sewing them each new curtains, finding specials pictures for the walls, and collecting a few special decorative touches to place here and there.  I don't go crazy and I don't do themes.  Their rooms will be simple and cozy and hopefully a reflection of them, not of their current favorite plastic toy. 
The kids and I planted grass for Easter.  They each helped me plant a pot, with soil, seeds and then more dirt.  We all loved the rich scent of the soil when I opened the bag...it has been a long time for all of us, since we played in the dirt.  Once the grass grows I will place eggs and other Eastery touches in the pots.  I have a wooden cross that I got when I was in Israel that I will put out too.  I hope we will have some nice conversations about the real reason for Easter.  The pots are nestled in the center of the dining table and it will be fun to watch the grass grow.  We all need some green these days.  We got dumped on yesterday and today with more snow.  The world has been white for so long, I can hardly imagine how divine it will be when the grass and flowers start to grow.
But, we are happy and healthy and that is the best that I can wish for.  Spring will come.
Well, back to cleaning...Peace friends!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The quilt...


The water heater is fixed...so nice.  I have done about 9 loads of laundry and run the dishwasher almost non stop to catch up.  Hot water is indeed a wonderful blessing.
The quilt is done!  It is indeed a bit wonky and not at all perfect with puckers and uneven lines.  And don't even ask about the mitered corners on the binding.  I think the wool that I chose to bind with was too bulky and it was hard to get a nice flat corner.  Ah, well, live and learn.  It has such a modern feel, not at all my style, but, I like it and I am proud of it.  It also feels a lot like quilts that my Great-Grandma made. I have one that she made...all blocks and geometric.  She used what she had and put every piece to use.  I love it for all of those reasons and because she made it.  So maybe I have channeled her genius in some small way...carried on the tradition if you will.  Plus, it was a great deal of fun...I hope the recipient of it will like it too.
And on to the next thing!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Would you like some cheese with that?




Happy March!
I have realized that while the big wall of windows is wonderful for the view, they are crap for taking pictures.  They make everything fuzzy and hazy, instead of clear.  We will be painting the walls in the next couple of months and then I will get some curtains put up that can filter the light at brighter times.  Anyway, I'm not happy with the cloudy pictures of late.
Also, we have been well over a week without a steady supply of hot water.  Our tankless water heater has been on the fritz and after several service calls and part changes, it will hopefully be fixed this afternoon.  I am tried of not being able to wash dishes...you should see the pile by the sink.  Laundry has been piling up and taking a shower has been touch and go.  I know that there are still many people on this Earth that do not ever get hot water just by turning on a faucet, I know that I am spoiled in my Western way of life, I know that I really don't have the right to complain...but, I am crabby about the whole thing and jealous of not being able to do what I feel I need to do when I want to do it.  I know...whiny...I will get over it.
So I will kick my bad attitude to the curb and I will think on kinder things.  Here are some things that are joys in my life recently...
~Rubia has settled on a favorite color.  She tells me everyday and often that yellow is her favorite.  I love it when the kiddies start to form their own opinions on things and begin to demonstrate their interests,  it's ever so much fun.  She fell in love with some pretty yellow daffodils at the store yesterday...we had to bring them home and we made a bouquet for the center island in the kitchen.
~I am taking a wonderful online course on called the Whole Food Kitchen done by Heather over at Beauty That Moves.  I am really getting a lot out of it and the recipes that I have been able to try have been yummy and well received by David and the kids.
~I have fresh spinach, lemons, apples, and clementines in the fridge.  The kids ate about five clementines each yesterday...they love them so.  I am very happy to see them making good choices.  I know they don't think about it that way, they are merely choosing what they find to be tasty.  But, I am glad that they like to eat healthy things.
~I have gotten more sewing and crafting done...to be shared about in a future post.
~I have been cleaning out and organizing more spaces.  It feels good to get those types of things done.
~I have been plotting Easter baskets for the last few weeks...I love doing them and making them special.
~This Saturday is an indoor farmer's market at the Community Center...I can't wait to see what I might find.
It's always good to find the positives.  Whining never did much for anybody.  I hope you are having a wonderful day where ever you may be! Peace!