Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Going green with napkins

We are trying to take steps to being greener in our house.  You wouldn't believe how many napkins we go through in a day (I can't even discuss paper towels!).  Two of my friends, Julie and Jen, both use cloth napkins instead of paper ones and they inspired me to try to do the same.  Except that I couldn't ever bring myself to do it.  I just imagined myself trying to keep up with even more laundry and I got discouraged.  

Last summer Julie gave me a nudge with some really lovely cloth napkins.  This evening I pulled them out to use.  And guess what?  I liked it!  It was nice to use cloth and lent a special touch to our evening meal.  I'm not yet promising to not use paper napkins for breakfast and lunch but I'm committed to using cloth with dinner.  In addition to the napkins that Julie gave me I also have two dozen basic white hotel napkins that I use for "special" occasions.  I guess every evening will be special now!  Maybe this means that I can start a new collection....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pantry Staples

I cook almost every night and we enjoy a wide variety of meals.  My neighbor, John, got me thinking about how many different types of salt we have in the house.  This led made me to think of the staples that I always have on hand.  I use at least three of the following food items every time I cook.  What food item do you always have to have in the pantry?

I cannot fathom not having olive oil in the house.  I use this on a daily basis!

Thank goodness everyone in our family likes onions!

Not only do we love garlic, but I love my garlic press as well.

Have you tried Barilla Plus?  This pasta is whole wheat but doesn't have that cardboard, dense flavor.  The children don't even notice the difference.

Once I started using kosher salt I couldn't even think about going back to table salt.  It makes a huge difference!

We also used crushed tomatoes a lot.

Parmesan cheese is essential.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Friday night we had an impromptu birthday celebration for Gretchen.  The children had fun hanging out together and so did we.  Happy birthday Gretchen!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bedtime Bunny and Sleepyhead Pillowcase

I did something rather silly today.  I bought something not because we needed it (we don't), not because it was appropriate (he's getting a bit old for it) but because I LOVED it immediately upon seeing it! I saw this pillowcase and immediately thought of Harris and Bedtime Bunny. Bedtime Bunny has been with us since Grace was a baby.  Both children have loved Bedtime Bunny and Harris is still sleeping with him.  Bedtime bunny used to have a stuffed animal attached to his hand but after being reattached twice we sort of gave up.  

When I saw this pillowcase with the bunny and a small child with curly hair I could not resist.  The instructions read, 'place heads inside dotted lines for best results.'  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barbeque Popcorn

We love popcorn around here.  It must be genetic because my Mom has popcorn sitting around at all times!  She even has a dedicated pot that is seasoned just right for the perfect popcorn!  

After school yesterday we decided to try a recipe for Barbecue Popcorn that I got out of Real Simple Family last year.  It was very tasty and fun for something a bit different  (I must warn you though that it does get your fingers messy!).  Now I'm on the hunt for a kettle popcorn recipe...

Barbecue Popcorn
1 package microwave popcorn or 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
kosher salt
 Pop the popcorn.  Toss the popcorn and butter together.  In a small bowl, combine the paprika, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Sprinkle over the popcorn and toss to coat.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I have to admit that I have read all of the Twilight series. Kathleen gave me the first book when I was in Atlanta and I had read them all within a week and a half. I found them strangely engrossing and fascinating. I simply couldn't put them down! Really, even when I knew I should be doing something else, I was reading. I found myself sneaking off to try to fit in a few minutes reading time. Admittedly, I am a reader who gets really sucked in - just ask Bryce.  

My friend, Sonja, hosted a gathering of some of our bookclub members (we are reading all four books!!) over the weekend to watch the newly-released movie. Cathy brought Bloody Marys (so clever!) and we had a great time. Somehow I forgot to cancel the movie in my Netflix queue and it arrived in the mail today. I guess I will have to watch it again and maybe even convince Bryce, who is probably really tired of hearing the name Edward, to watch it with me.  Have you read any good books lately?

P.S. The first book was my favorite.  If you do read even just the first book, you must let me know what you think and you must read the author's online version written from Edward's point of view. Read it only after you read the first one!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Easter Tree

Years ago (before children), our family started an Easter egg painting tradition. Every year, a couple of weeks before Easter, we have an all carrot meal (thus the carrot burger) followed by egg painting. We hang them on a wire tree that I got from the now defunct Martha by Mail catalogue. My Mom and Bryce are really talented and have painted some really beautiful ones. The children's are also special because they reflect the children's growing abilities. Here are a few of my favorite ones.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Oliver + S skirt

My Mom made this darling little skirt for Grace. We got the pattern at our local quilters shop...for free. You can get it here. Oliver + S has adorable patterns that make me want to sew, it's a skill I would really like to learn. It seems as if it might be an art that is getting lost with each generation.

I love how they show the outfits on paper dolls, it's so clever.

P.S. We woke up to unexpected, unforecasted, surprise snow! Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Christian the Lion

Grace came home yesterday and said that she wanted to show me a "heartwarming" story about a lion and his family. We looked it up and watched it together. Bryce and I often wonder at how emotional Grace can get over things. As I watched this video I got a bit teary-eyed and I looked over at Grace and realized that she was crying. It made me realize that her emotional reactions are not all that unique to our family! The apple does not indeed fall far from the tree. This video reminds me that "family" really has an amazing pull not matter what form it comes in.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rainbow Cake

Happy St. Patrick's day!  Unfortunately, the Leprechauns were too smart for us and all they did was tip over our pot of gold and leave us a taunting note!  Harris is already working on a design for a new and improved trap for next year.  

We still celebrated the day.  We all wore green, the children ate Lucky Charms for breakfast (too sweet for Harris!),  I made soda bread and a traditional Irish dinner.  Bryce and I also went this evening to our friends' house (Sonja and Ryan's - Sonja is Irish) for an Irish celebration.  

Harris and I also made a rainbow cake.  Last month I saw a similar cake and thought it was so bright and cheery I've been waiting for an excuse to make it.  Harris put a lot of the M&M's on the cake but he also ingested quite a few as well!  

Monday, March 16, 2009

To Catch a Leprachaun

Grace and Harris decided to try to catch a Leprachaun tonight.  I hear that they are very tricky to catch, but I think that this contraption has a pretty good shot at working.  As soon as the Leprachaun picks up the pot of gold the trap will fall down on him!  I hope that he will lead us to his pot of gold...

P.S.  We got the idea for the trap from Family Fun magazine.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Children's clothes

Bryce and I have been working on cleaning out our basement and trying to get some semblance of order in what has been, until now, a colossal mess.  One of the tasks that I have been putting off for a very long time is that of sorting through the children's old clothes.  I have known that I wanted Marilyn to make a quilt of some of the clothes and I've known that I could not possibly keep all of them but it has been surprisingly hard for me to part with them!!  Those clothes represent such a precious and lovely time in my life.

Well, I finally went through them all and made various piles.  I put more aside to keep than I thought I would.  The clothes are so sweet and seem to me to be very classic, especially Grace's smocked dresses that she wore for special occasions.  I was hesitant to  save too many because how often do one's children's children actually wear the clothes that are saved?  Then I remembered two of my favorite things that my Mom saved and that Grace wore a good deal.  I consider both of them classic and have put them away to save for the next generation.

I adore this coat and even tried to get my Mom to let out the sleeves this year so that Grace could continue to wear it (it couldn't be done).  I'm so thankful that my Mom had saved it.

My Mom also saved four cardigans that Grace wore a great deal.  How sweet are they?  I wish I had some exactly like them to wear!

One of my fears about saving clothes in the basement is that of mold and mildew.  I am happy to report that I think we have found the answer!  Several years ago I put away some baby items in vacuum bags and they seemed to have worked beautifully.  I opened them and they smell fresh and are in great condition.  An added bonus is that they take up very little space.  What would take up at least two bins now fits in one with room to spare.  



Friday, March 13, 2009

Our White House

As I've gotten older I have become much more interested in history and wish that I had paid more attention in history class! I recently purchased this book that I absolutely love and think that everyone should own! I suppose that it is a children's book, but I have been reading it for the past week and find it fascinating. 108 authors have written/illustrated stories about various Presidents and the White House. These are personal stories that are told from all different perspectives, many are made up but based on historical fact. I've learned so much! I believe this is the type of book that will serve a family well for many, many years and teach children that history really is an interesting story.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Captain Clean

I spilled some corn on the kitchen floor last night but was fortunate that Captain Clean was quick to come to the rescue.  Man do I love that boy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Easter Clothes

Is it too early to decorate for Easter? I'm anxious to get started because I'm excited to usher in spring colors and pretty things. I bought the children's Easter outfits, and I especially love Grace's dress. It has a bit of tulle under the skirt so that it puffs out and is perfect for twirling. Girl's are lucky like that.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I've been feeling the urge to throw open all the windows, clean out and clean up! As I wandered the aisles at Target (ok wander is not really the word to use seeing as how I did have Harris with me) I noticed this very attractive bottle of... toilet bowl cleaner. I fear that I might be hitting rock bottom considering that I am posting about a toilet bowl cleaner! What made me look at the cleaner was its attractive packaging. Remember my other cleaners? It makes me happier to clean if what I'm using is pretty (and smells nice too). Silly? Maybe. But I bought it anyway. And guess what? It really works, it's natural and it's non toxic. So today I bought the lavender glass cleaner! I hope it works as well because I can't stand streaky glass.

I think I might also need this Housekeepers box to keep all my supplies in.

Desk Nook- renovation continued

When we did the kitchen renovation one of my must haves was a desk area or a "command central" station.  There wasn't really a logical place for it in the kitchen so we squeezed it in between the foyer and the kitchen.  Our architect really wanted to put a small coat closet therebut I stuck to my guns and couldn't be happier with the result (after all we do have a mudroom)!  

We each have a cubby, and I have a place to store cookbooks, recipes and phone books.  Orginally, I wanted open shelving, but the cabinet came in wrong and we decided to stick with it.  I'm so glad we did because it's not exactly neat looking!

A few months ago, I was taking the children to the dentist and saw this antique piano stool in the window.  I went in and looked at it but it was too expensive for me.  However, several weeks went by and I was still thinking about it so I went back to the store to look again.  The price had dropped significantly so I swooped it up!  It swivels so the height can be adjusted for me or the children.  I love it when I accidentally find something!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Happy Weekend!

It's supposed to be in the 60's here over the weekend. To the children that's summer weather compared to what we have had! Everyone is in a good mood! Grace told me that her weekend plans included, "being outside, doing cartwheels and singing out loud." Could one ask for more? Harris is excited to work on the pirate ship and has been telling his favorite joke:
Harris: "What's underthere?"
Me: "Underwhere?"
Harris: "You said underwear!"

Grace and I have also been admiring this lovely toadstool that Gran sent us a picture of. Imagine our delight when we discovered that they really do exist! Gran and Grandpa snapped a picture of it on a hike they were on last year. It has us trying to figure out how to grow one in our garden!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Green Eggs and Ham

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Grace's school has been kicking off a reading challenge this week in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday this past Monday. We have a large collection of Dr. Seuss books (many of which were Bryce's as a child) including this collection of Dr. Seuss favorites. This is a neat book because it also gives a lot of information about the man himself and some stories behind the stories!

Last night we had Green Eggs and Ham for dinner and the children LOVED it! I'm always amazed at how excited the children get about fun food.

Green Eggs and Ham
Divide egg yolk and whites. I found that it's much easier to keep the yolk intact in it's shell rather than putting it in a bowl where it's more likely to break. Add a few drops of green food coloring to egg whites and whisk until blended. Skim bubbles off top of whites, then pour into buttered, nonstick pan. Cook 20 seconds, and gently add yolk; cover and continue cooking until yolks and whites are firm. Served with slices of warmed ham.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Harris' tool bedroom

Yesterday was a busy day for us!  We started the day off with Harris stapling his finger (yes, he is fine) and myself falling down the basement stairs (yes, I'm fine).  Then we had our friends Cathy and Matthew over for a fun playdate.  When we picked Grace up from school we swung by the library because Grace wanted to pick up some new chapter books to read.  In between all of this Harris and I cleaned his room.  I still have not figured out why it takes so long for me to clean one room but it does.  Perhaps it's because we inevitably start cleaning out toys and books!  I absolutely love Harris' room and I realized that I've never put pictures up of his room. 

As you know I love a good theme and Harris LOVES to work so tools were the natural choice for his room.  His Gran made the absolutely amazing quilt and his Granpa Al made the wonderful workbench.  I love them both so much and so does Harris.  It's so special to have such meaningful things surrounding you.  

The quilt that Marilyn made, it's beautiful.  We put pegboard above his bed and used a Craftsman tool chest for his side table.

I love the hardware store alphabet signs from eeboo.  Al made the workbench.

Growing up this chest was in my sisters room!  We won the "I'm Mighty" painting at our grammar school's auction!

The detail on the quilt.  Marilyn made all different tools and supplies.

My Mom sewed all the buttons on the curtains.

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