Sunday, January 31, 2010

Glamorous Weekend

I had a very glamorous weekend! It all began with a Friday night girls night. My girlfriends treated me to a manicure and pedicure. I'm really liking this celebratory month concept! Rachel brought champagne, cheese and crackers and we put on our robes and relaxed, chatted and laughed. Isn't that the best? I have the best of friends.





On Saturday evening Bryce and I attended his company party. They hold the holiday party in January instead of during the hustle and bustle of December. Isn't that brilliant? This year they included some casino games and even provided the fake money! I've never gambled except for a slot machine, but I had fun learning Craps. I didn't do too bad! At the end of the night they held a raffle for five prizes and we won a new point and shoot camera. Bryce was thrilled!





P.S. We also had some decidedly unglamorous parts to our weekend but I've decided not to dwell on those!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tidbits

* Yesterday, as we were driving down the road Harris exclaimed that he saw a "moon cloud." I looked over and sure enough the little wisp of a cloud looked like a moon. Don't you think it does? I've labeled him a creative genius.

* I've been reading a lot. Bryce and I have unintentionally given up watching tv. There just doesn't seem to be anything on that is good! Suggestions are welcome. I've probably never told you that I have a problem when it comes to reading. I get so absorbed that I can't pace myself and can't make myself put the book down. I'm pretty sure that I have been like this since I was a teenager (right Mom?). Anyway, I'm embroiled in the Outlander Series and have just finished The Help. Great books.

* We did manage to watch a movie over the weekend, The Hangover. Have you seen it? I laughed until tears were pouring down my face. Seriously funny.

* Harris had his first round of allergy testing for EE today. The appointment went well. He still tested allergic to peanuts (I was hoping he had outgrown that!) and also had reactions to wheat and meat. They probably will also want to cut out dairy. Here's my question. If you can't eat meat, wheat or dairy what do you eat????? We don't have to change his diet until we have completed phase two of the testing. I'm so thankful that Harris has had no symptoms for 3 months. Of course that makes it difficult to think that there is anything wrong! I worry because Bryce and I have tried so hard to expose Harris and Grace to lots of different foods so that they would not be picky eaters. Now I feel like we are going to make him a picky eater!

* Remember the project we started back in December? It's almost done! I'm giddy every time I look at it. It seriously makes me (and the children) happy.

* A most exciting and wonderful thing happened last night. Bryce's sister, Leah, and her husband Aaron became parents to a beautiful baby girl! Her name is Adeline Elizabeth. Isn't that such a nice name? I cannot wait to hold her!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pajamas for Gracie


Grace received a very happy package in the mail yesterday. It was a pair of flannel pajamas for her doll, Gracie. Grace got Gracie, who is an American Girl "just like me" doll, from Santa for Christmas. She has really enjoyed playing with her but has been thinking she really needed a pair of pajamas. After all, our family loves a good pair of pjs! These pajamas are even more special because Gran made them. Thank you Gran... Gracie will indeed sleep tight!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rain


This morning we awoke to heavy rain that continued to fall for all of the morning and most of the afternoon. The rain was accompanied by unseasonably warm temperatures and Harris simply could not resist playing (and perhaps singing) in the rain. After he came back inside and put on his pajamas- at 1 in the afternoon- we read the picture book Rain by Peter Spier. Rain is a wordless picture book that tells the journey of a brother and sister as they explore their surroundings during a rainstorm. The pictures are full of delightful detail and we enjoyed slowly perusing the book and making up our own story as we went along.



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chicken Tacos


We have recently added a new staple to our dinner repertoire. It's one of those recipes that is so easy it's silly and so good that the whole family loves it! I will warn you that it does have a bit of a kick but I think you can control that by the type of salsa that you use and how much of the chiptole peppers you put in. The recipe is from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart and it literally takes 5 minutes to throw together (but several hours to cook). I've only used the oven method.

Chili Chicken Tacos

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup prepared tomato salsa
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 tablespoon chili powder
coarse salt and ground pepper
taco shells
cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream for serving

In a slow cooker combine chicken, garlic, salsa, chiles, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover; cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

Transfer chicken to a serving bowl, and shred, using two forks.

Oven Method: Combine all ingredients in a dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. Add 2 cups of water and cover. Cook at 350 degrees for 2 hours.

P.S. Mine don't look as good as the above picture.

P.S.S. I have gotten Everyday Food since it was introduced. Therefore, I have about 60 of the tiny magazines. This means that not only are they really beginning to take up too much space, but it can take forever to browse for a recipe. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do with them or how to organize them?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Girlfriends

I've always been blessed with wonderful friends (except maybe in middle school but that's another story). Friends are a very important part of my life. I love sitting around chatting with my girlfriends about every imaginable topic! I miss my girlfriends in Atlanta (and elsewhere!) a lot, but I'm so thankful for the wonderful friendships that I have made here.

For my birthday a few friends took me out to dinner. It was a great meal and great company! Thank you ladies!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Boot Print



I love it when you find a treasure in an unexpected place. Linda, one of my Mom's lifelong friends, sent this card to my Mom because of the cute picture on the front. They both thought that it would look cute framed. I found a teeny, tiny frame and put it in the mudroom right beside our own boots. It's super cute, and I love its petite size. Thanks Linda!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ice skating


I've been a teeny bitter for the last 30 years that I didn't turn out to be the beautiful and graceful figure skater that I was sure was my destiny. I've often blamed my Mother for not being willing to get up at 4 in the morning to take me to practice and devoting our lives and finances to my destiny. I've put aside the pesky and persistent reminders that I in no way showed any aptitude for skating or that I lived in Florida and didn't have any rinks that were convenient to us. There's also the fact that every time I get on the ice I'm wobbly and my feet start to hurt about 5 minutes into skating. But I still think I could have won gold!

Yesterday, we went ice skating. It was only Grace's second time on skates and Harris' first. I'm amazed at how fast they pick it up! When we first got on the ice Harris was not altogether excited to keep going because he was so off balance. Two hours later he was getting around without any help and was enjoying falling as much as the skating!

Grace was also fairly comfortable on the ice. She met a new friend while skating and they spent a lot of time going around the rink together.

Harris has already asked me today if he can take lessons to learn to skate better. I asked him if he wanted to learn to figure skate or play hockey. His answer, "I just want to go really fast." Maybe speed skating is in his future?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

One of the (few) downsides to where we live is the lack of diversity within our immediate community. Therefore, I thought it was important to take a few minutes today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to talk to the children about who he was and what he did for our nation. Of course I turned toward books to help me.

We started with A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David Adler. This picture book is very straight forward and gives a basic explaination of the man and what he did. It was a good starting off point for discussion, and I was surprised at how many questions the children had. They had a difficult time understanding why there was racism in the first place.

I Have a Dream recites the exact speech that Dr. King gave in Washington. I'm sure that there was a lot that the children did not understand (many big words and big ideas) but they seemed to have gotten the basic message. I think that it helped that we watched a video of his speech afterwards.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Laundry Room Details



In fixing up the laundry room I've tried to pay attention to what would make it a truly well functioning room. The details are what makes the biggest difference (isn't this true for most things?). By adding better lighting it made it so much easier to see stains and dirt and having a nice sink makes cleaning ever so much easier. But also the small things have made a big impact. I've hung a pair of scissors next to the washer and dryer and this has made clipping tags of off clothes simpler. I've got a laminated stain chart also hanging on a hook and a jar to collect bits and bobs left in pockets. To me having these have made getting laundry done easier and a bit more enjoyable.

Two of my favorite details are the dry cleaning bag and using dry erase markers on the freezer.
I ordered the canvas bag from Lands End and had it embroidered with it's purpose. It's so easy to throw our dry cleaning in and pick-up tags can go right in the front pocket. It doesn't hurt that it's cute either! Also, I discovered that dry erase markers work on the front of our freezer. I can keep a running list of what we have in there and the children will often provide some colorful artwork for me.

P.S. I'm not sure if dry erase markers work on the front of all refrigerators or not. We also have a fridge in the basement and the marker took more effort to get off then it does on the freezer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Laundry Room Fix-Up- Part 2



Thank you for the kind comments about our laundry room spruce up! I didn't get pictures of the "before" area and as I went through this next group of pictures I was a bit disappointed because the pictures don't look nearly as great as it actually feels to me. Does that make sense? I guess that because I know where it was 9 months ago, this is a huge difference. But it's still very much a basement laundry area. No matter though, it's a 100% improvement!

Our laundry area is at the foot of the stairs in a corner of our basement. We thought about moving it closer to get better access to plumbing (we have to have a pump) but it's super convenient where it is and I loved the sink that was already there. In trying to spruce up the laundry room we realized that it was important to make the area feel like it was a room and not just a corner of a larger area. To do this we added metal shelving to store things that are frequently used. These shelves act as a "wall" and hold all sorts of things! Previously, the area only had one lightbulb so Bryce put in two new lights that brightened the whole area. He also painted the bare concrete floor.

We were fortunate that there was a wonderful cast iron sink already in the area. We were unfortunate in that it was really, really nasty and uninviting (not to mention didn't work). But as gross as the sink was I loved the idea of the sink and how wonderfully practical it really was. Therefore, we went ahead and had it reglazed and the difference is truly amazing. It's like a brand new sink! Bryce replaced the faucets and redid the plumbing to the sink. My Mom made an adorable skirt that serves the purpose of looking really sweet and hiding the rather ugly legs and wall under the sink! Above the sink we hung the shelf that was in the nursery when the children were babies. I really must admit that I LOVE the sink and the skirt - it makes me smile every time I look at it!





The carpet tiles that we put down are Flor (which we have used in two other locations in our home) and I love how they look. I ordered two different color greens and they are put in a checkered pattern. Honestly, the floor is what has made the biggest difference. Before, I couldn't run down barefoot and if I dropped something after it had been washed I always had to wash it again! With the stairs being freshly painted (and clean) and a new floor down I feel like it's an en extension of the house - not a room to to avoid.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Laundry Room Fix-Up- Part 1 (The Stairs)



Our house sits atop a basement...or rather a cellar. It is not at all the sort that you could finish or make pretty. It's a cellar - plain and simple. The problem is that our washer and dryer are housed in the basement with no other place to go. And I do a lot of laundry. And no one (or at least me) wants to spend parts of their day in a gloomy, yucky area.

Thus for four years we've wondered if we should try to "finish" just a small area to make a laundry area. We eventually came to the realization that it would just be a waste of money, time and materials to make the space something that it really is not meant to be. However, we did decide to spruce up the area to make it a space that is a little more pleasant to be in. I couldn't be happier with the results! I've been amazed at what a difference it has made to my mental state regarding laundry!

We started in the spring (seriously, this project has taken a long time to see to completion) by cleaning out and painting the stairwell to the basement. (This is also where the cats' litter is - there's just room enough under the stairwell on the landing.) The stairwell was in really rough shape. A long time ago linoleum squares had been put down on the stairs and they were peeling up in spots. But of course they didn't peel off cleanly and lots of glue residue was left that was a real bear to get up. Fortunately, we had a good helper...

I decided that I wanted the paint color to be bright and cheerful and since no one besides ourselves ever go to the basement I figured I could pretty much do whatever made me happy. So, this meant painting everything in sight bright green. Seriously. Everything in sight. It sort of looks like Kermit exploded. But I LOVE it! I also saved money because I only had to buy one can of paint! The stairwell already had some pretty neat bead-board so we stuck with that and made improvements where we could.


In this area we had to put up some bead-board to cover an unfinished area. It doesn't quite match but you can't really tell. We put up a cork board to be able to post information about the kittens and our town information. The space under the board is a nook where the liter box fits perfectly. Bryce also put in an outlet so that we could add a little nightlight and hang the vacuum - which really comes in handy!



I love the stairwell because every single inch that can be used is! In this corner we hung hooks for jackets (that are seldom used but needed nonetheless) and the children's snow bibs. The kittens' food and water is also kept here. We replaced the lights in the stairwell with fixtures that we bought for the house renovation but never used.


Bryce seriously considered replacing the stairs because it was so difficult to get up the glue that was holding the linoleum down. However, we both love that the stairs are worn in the middle- reminding us that we (and the people before us) are really only keepers of the house.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

A birthday and Deep Dark Chocolate Cake




Today I am 37! We have a sick girl at home so we really took it easy today. My Mom came over for lunch and cake. The highlight of the day was the cake, which was beautiful and ever so delicious! Bryce and Harris made Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry filling. Thank goodness my husband is not afraid to pick up a spatula because it was to do die for!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vintage Play dough



While Bryce's parents were here they pulled out an old toy of Bryce's (both our parents were good about saving quality toys). It was a playdough set (minus the old playdough) that had a salon chair and people in desperate need of some haircare! The little people grew lush locks of hair, got a cut and a shave and even went patriotic! I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...







 
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