Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Cake, The Party, The Fun!

What a fun day! "This is the best birthday EVER!" Goosey had some much fun. So excited to see everyone, enjoyed her gifts, enjoyed the cake. Her little smile says it all. 

Birthday cake to be...It's purple. Yes, it IS purple!Princess Barbie Cakeplacing the candlesMore!"It came with a hood!""I like it!"Butterfly magnet

Friday, January 23, 2009

Today's to-do list

Phew! I'm beat. I'll be taking an Aleve before bed tonight! Everything in bold, I did. :) Yay me.

make beds 1 2 3
trash to curb
re-run dishes
coffee coffee

make english muffin bread
wipe down stove
wipe down counters
wipe down microwave
wipe down fridge and dishwasher
wipe down cabinets
wash window
do floor
unload dishes

dining room
finish clearing desk
wipe table

wipe chairs
wipe light fixture
take apart boosters and clean
wash slider door
put crap away, where it belongs!

living room
all toys off floor with kiddos
clear my table
pick up junk on TV stand
charity blankets away
baby set to basement
organize other baby toys
clean windows
vacuum couch cushions

wipe down couch (leather)

entry 1
put ironing board and ball winder set up away
put sock blockers and great balls of fiber away
toys in closet
shake rug
wash floor
wash all windows
baby gate to basement/garage

entry 2
hang all coats
hang all mittens/hats on line
organize shoes
shake rug
wash floor
vacuum up the stairs

downstairs bath
steam clean everything! mirror
wash cat bowls
shake rug
wash floor


laundry 1
put away

pray blocking item lays flat

drink water 1 23 4 5 6 7 8
pay attn to portions and don’t eat so much!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009

My Goosie turned 4 today. 4! I'm in awe over it. She's a fantastic little girl, really amazes me every day. We woke and had the girls in bed with us for a bit, then Peanut ran off for a bit and we gave Goosie her present. It was a gift card, and she was SO SO excited when she was opening it. Then she sort of smiled, and said "well, it's a cool card, but, what do we do with it?" So, we explained it was to Build-A-Bear and what that was and that we were going to do that today. Then she was very excited! Derek asked her if she thought it was ok if her little sister made one too, since she wouldn't really understand why she wouldn't get one too. She was completely on board with it, understood completely.

We went to the mall near us and we rode the carousel, the she and I went to buy a birthday outfit while Peanut and Derek went to get a pretzel (and fudge!) While we were there, she found a bracelet too, and requested that we buy one for her little sister, so that she wouldn't feel sad. :) Sweetie. Then to Build-A-Bear! What a blast that was. Goosie picked a dog, Peanut a kitty, named "Maisy Daisy" and "Meow", respectively. They both got outfits and shoes and rollerskates and leashes and food bowls....Build-A-Bear loved us today! Goosie kept saying "this is the BEST birthday EVER! I love this! I really love this!" She made everyone smile, and the thank yous she kept saying just made me so proud of her. 

4 years goes awfully fast with little ones. It's unbelievable! :)
Cupcake!!! my big girl! 4!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week in review

Well, last week, the theme here was to learn about the tundra. Then we had all the freezing and below freezing weather! So this week-the desert. :) Let's see if we can turn this weather around a bit!

The girls and I made some Crayon cakes this week. To me, there are few things more upsetting in the toy realm than a broken crayon. (It just bothers me to no end. Almost like mixing playdoh and water color paints on the palette--it just turns muddy brown!) So we rescued all the broken crayons and made these. Cool to watch, but I think I let them "cook" too long, as the color and the wax really separated so that one side doesn't want to produce any color. So now we'll have to do the wax crayon painting trick :)
Crayon cakes Crayon cakes

I made some little egg frittata cups in muffin tins. These are great because they are the perfect size, they are ready-made breakfasts or lunches (or second-breakfasts in our house). They freeze well and microwave well. I used muffin tin papers this time and they stuck a little to the paper, but much easier than having them stick to the pan, even when the pan is non-stick. The flavors here are ham, ham and swiss cheese, and ham, swiss and spinach. The girls hardly think twice when I use spinach in eggs. All I have to say is "Try it, Sam I am!" and they do, and don't complain. 
mmm, mini frittata

Last weekend, I had to get out a bit, so I went to Schuler's book store, sat in front of the fire with a Mayan Hot Chocolate, and I knit. I also tried some lavender hand lotion before I started knitting and it was so nice! I think it was Crabtree and Evelyn, and I think I'll have to get myself some someday. (I want to finish up lotions I have here first. Way too many!) Anyway, I finished Derek's scarf and I'm really happy with it. I used 3 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and the pattern is called "Fancy Drinking Scarf". I like the subtle patterning. 
Derek's scarf 1

I also bought these on clearance. They were $2.00 per plate and $1.50 for the little cheese/spread knife. They were just sunny-looking and I needed them. :) They have been a big hit with the girls too, they like to pick which color apple they want. 
Happy Apple plates

Lastly, Derek bought this on Saturday.
new cabinet
He ran to Target for the plug-in vaporizer strips (girls have colds) and chip dip and came home with this too. I love it! See the glass shelves where I can showcase some yarns?! We had a table there before that was a little larger, but I love this smaller piece with drawers to hide crap. Now, yes, I'm trying to cut down on crap, but when it's there, I can at least hide it. 

On a more frugal note, I made these felt dryer balls this past week. Felted wool balls to go in the dryer instead of fabric softener sheets. They bounce around, fluff your clothes and help them be softer, dry faster, and I found cut down on static. I'm thrilled with them! I also made laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent using Borax, washing soda and grated Kirk's castile soap for the laundry (with a little Oxiclean for good measure) and some sugar-free lemonade mix for the dishwasher. Much cheaper, lots of good cleaning-love it! There's been lots of talk of this on the Reclaiming the Home and Stitch-It! groups on Ravelry. I love sharing all the tips. One more thing is white vinegar. Use it to clean, add it to the rinse cycle in your washing machine to soften, or in the rinse-aid compartment of your dishwasher to reduce spots. 
Felt dryer balls Homemade laundry detergent

As I mentioned before, the girls have colds. It started Wednesday night with Derek and Goosie not feeling well, Goosie with lots of sneezing (as her typically starts) and Derek with body aches and feverish feelings. Then Peanut started Saturday morning with a non-stop runny nose. So, it's been lots of juice, fruits/berries, Vaseline on noses and cheeks, Puffs plus, the Vicks vapor strips in the night lights and honey. Honey to help with the coughing the developed with Goosie and Peanut could probably benefit too. Plus, I'd rather give them a spoonful honey than a spoonful of medicine! No fevers though, and everyone seems to be on the upswing. Hooray!

Lastly, my neighbor had her baby #6, girl #1 this past week! So exciting! So I've made her this hat and am working on some matching booties. The hat is the Ruffle Hat pattern from Bernat Baby Jacquards and this colorway is called Berries and Cream. I think I'll do Saartje's booties pattern to go with it. Can't wait to meet this little sweetie-we don't know her name yet, it was all secretive. How fun!
Baby neighbor girl hat Top of baby neighbor girl hat

Friday, January 9, 2009


I have lots of things to talk about, to show, and when I tried to think of a title that would include them all, "heartwarming" was it. Each of these things make me very happy to be a part of. So, come along, I'll show you what we've been up to at home, and what we've been doing with Stitch-It! Podcast since March 2008. 

Have I told you about Stitch-It? It's a favorite podcast and there is a listeners group on as well. We're a chatty bunch, share lots of good ideas, encourage each other, inspire each other, enable each other! We decided to start up groups to do charity baby blankets last year. I head up the Mid-west region and we pass this blanket around to each other, knitting 4" full of good thoughts, and then pass it on to the next knitter. It's very rewarding, fun to get to know your fellow knitters, and satisfying to see the finished project. I will be delivering the first batch of blankets to the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI shortly and wanted to share a photo of them. 

Stitch-It! Midwest blanket collection 1

Aren't they lovely? I think there will be some warm, snuggly, comforted babies and parents with these blankets!

Next, on the homefront, we've been busy! I have decided that I need to try new recipes and I'll share reviews of how they are. I want to eat a little better, a little healthier, incorporate more fruits and veggies, and expand our menus. (Sounds New Year Resolution-ish, doesn't it? But it's not, really. I don't keep those!) So, this past week we tried a Pear Pancake. Yum. Not exactly healthy, but there's fruit in it! And breakfast is tough to imagine when it comes so early in the morning. So sometimes, have your sugar early. :) It looked like this:

Pear Pancake
Pear Pancakes
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. pear nectar
2 medium pears, thinly sliced lenghtwise
1 c. half and half
3 lg. eggs
2 tsp. vanilla 
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. sale
Confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 425.  In a deep 10" cast iron skillet, add 1/3 c. sugar and the pear slices and pear nectar.  Sprinkle pears with 1 Tbs. sugar.  Cook undisturbed over med heat until sugar carmelizes.  Meanwhile in a blender, mix half and half, eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour, salt and remaining granulated sugar.  Blend on high for 30 seconds.  Pour batter over the pears and bake until lightly browned and puffy....about 15 min. Reduce heat to 350 and bake about another 10 min.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

It was tasty, though the bottom was a little too caramelized. Maybe the second 15 minutes could have been cut down to 5-10 minutes, or maybe I let it caramelize too long on the stove top. But still, great. I used Red D'Anjou pears. 

Another very comforting thing I made was homemade French Bread! (Ok, forget what I said about the healthy stuff earlier) The recipe was from and it was a little confusing with the amount of yeast. It called for 2 1/2 (.25 oz) packages of yeast, but one package is .75 oz. I only used one package and the consistency was great. I also would have used more salt than the recipe calls for. But it's fantastic and I'm having a hard time not scarfing it all. 

Homemade French Bread
One more tasty treat, a little more healthy too is Nigella's Breakfast bars. The recipe is all over the 'net, but I was first introduced to them by Meghan, again, of Stitch-It!. I love the raw oats and have trouble not eating spoonfuls before even baking! We added dried blueberries and cherries, a little coconut, flax seeds and pecans.
Nigella's Breakfast bars

And finally, the last thing we made were anacondas. Why? Because they live in rain forests, and they start with letter A, which was part of our lessons this past week. :)
Anaconda!Another Anaconda!

And, "hey! A starts with Ants too!" said Goosie, Just in case you didn't know.

Hey, forgot to add, there is a blog I'm enjoying and wanted to share. It's Reclaiming the Home There is also a Ravelry group for this and it's really inspirational as well. Who'd have thought I'd like to clean some days?


Friday, January 2, 2009

Lists and projects and ideas, oh my!

I have lots of things running though my head, but they are all in a jumble! I've got to sort through and figure out what direction I want to take. I am thinking about:
  • Knitting projects, spinning projects, hand carding experiments and fibers and colors to blend. Dyeing. 
  • Little lesson plans for the girls and projects for them to make. 
  • Rooms to clean, recaulk, steam, paint, reorganize and declutter. 
  • Menus to dream up and new flavors to incorporate. If I'm trying to watch what I eat, eat less and more healthy, I need to boost the flavors a lot. I get more satisfaction from a well-seasoned/spiced meal than I do, say, a bowl of mashed potatoes. (but mmm, mashed potatoes!) 
  • My hair. Ugh.
  • Exercise. :/
  • Signing the girls up for ballet or gymnastics. Hmm. Still can't decide.
  • Big list of things, like the recaulk everything, paint trims and problem areas, the closet/bench (that is haunting me).
See? Jumbled. Stuff. I guess I just have to write it all out. When I do that, I have the plan, the obligation, the accountability to do it. Then I feel better. But I cringe when I think of the daily stuff that has to happen, so maybe I'll make the daily/weekly/twice monthly/monthly lists. 

I get this way at New Years. It didn't used to be so bad because I had school and semesters to help me plan, or work and deadlines imposed and all that. Now I have to set the plan, the deadlines, the organization, the execution. I like to do all that, but when I have little ones with their non-scheduled needs (what is the deal with second breakfast!??!) it throws me off! One thing I do love for daily task attention is the Timer Cleaning method. Set the time. 15 minutes in the kitchen, 15 in the living room, 15 again in the kitchen, etc. Somehow it's better than 30 in the kitchen. Whatever works! So, off I go to get second breakfast/early lunch. Then knock out some daily stuff. Then some planning, list generating and organizing. 

What works for you? How do you organize your to do's? How do you plan? (Please tell me the magic secret!)  :) And Happy New Year, here's to getting it all together this year! ;)