Friday, October 30, 2009

Room to Play

I really like our guest room.  It's one of the few rooms in the house that I actually decorated some. 

I originally intended for it to be very tranquil with some light blues and tan colors.  Kind of beach mood stuff without the seashells.

But then I saw this pillow and really liked it.  Then I found some paint colors that I liked way better than light blue/tan.

I bought a plain quilt that I figured would be useful for years to come even if I decided I no longer liked the accent wall colors or this pillow.  I found some extra pillows at TJ Maxx for very cheap.

I knew we wanted an iron bed.  I think they are very pretty.  IKEA had one, but it looked like it was going to break if anyone sat on it.  Then we found this one and I absolutely love it.

Accessories?  There aren't many.

I found this at TJ Maxx as well.  I really like iron-work I've realized.

We've never actually lit the candles, but they look pretty.

I took these pictures outside our house.

Mike and I were trying to find a lamp for the bedside table (which we already had and just covered with a cloth and some glass).  I was shocked when Mike pulled out this lamp.  It was a lot more than either of us intended to spend on a lamp that sits in a room that gets used twice a year, but we really liked it.

And this chair?  We bought this for Maddie's nursery.  I wanted an actual rocking chair.  Everyone tried to convince me I should get one of those glider things that were so popular then.  But it was the one thing I was certain of; I wanted a rocking chair.


I'm not a terribly sentimental-must-save-everything type of person.  Neither is Mike for that matter.  But, I don't think I'll ever sell this chair.  I love it.  Something special from when we had babies.  That and I think there are still some residual baby spit spots I cannot remove to save my life.


But as I mentioned, we get visitors maybe once or twice a year.  Mike or I occasionally sleep in there if we are sick or if someone is snoring too loud.  I've mentioned to Mike that maybe we should transform the room into something we actually use.

Problem solved:

G.I. Joe has taken it over.  Mike recently gave Jake all his G.I. Joe toys from when he was little.  His mom had saved them for him.  Jake and Maddie have made this command central.

It includes the lego towns they have built with "scrap legos" as they call them.

So now when guests come over we will have to clean it out.  But maybe we'll just leave a little bedside accessory for them....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Great Pumpkin

The other night Mike was working and the kids were left to their own devices.  They are getting to the age where this really isn't that big of a deal.  While I taught, Maddie worked on homework and Jake, after finishing his, played outside.  The rule in our house is that if both mom and dad are working the kids can play outside, but they have to stay in our yard.

Jake was so excited when I finished teaching because his friends hadn't been able to play so he had created a masterpiece on our driveway.  I got done teaching at 7pm so it was pretty black out that night.  However, he couldn't wait to show me.  So we headed out to look at what he'd done with his 4-inch flashlight.  I went back and took pictures the next morning.  He thought it would be a good thing to put on here.

This is the giant, scary pumpkin he drew.  I wish I could have had a ladder to stand on so I'll give you some close-up views.

This is two of possibly three mouths this devouring pumpkin had. 

Yes, that is a nose underneath the bottom mouth.  There were possibly two more noses located around this face.  They all resembled pig noses.  Or electrical sockets.

This isn't a tail.  It's an arm.  You don't want to shake this pumpkins hand.

Below isn't an arm.  This is the bucket of blood that this vampire/pumpkin has managed to suck out of it's victim.

(Bucket of blood??  I swear he mostly watches PBS cartoons.)

This is not a tail.  The would be crazy.  Pumpkins don't have tails.  This is the stem:

He was quite proud of his monster-ocity. (HA!  I'm here all week folks!)

It's a good thing I took pictures yesterday because it's raining.  Unfortunately this pumpkin portrayal will not be the one frightening away the trick-or-treaters as Jake planned.  I'm sure he'll come up with something equally devilish.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Lately I've noticed a new word Jake likes to throw into multiple conversations: "slash".

Here are some examples:

"Mom, can I go outside slash ride my bike?"

"No Maddie, I don't like green beans slash strawberries."

And the mother-load of all sentences:

"I went to school slash came home and played with friends slash took a shower yesterday."

It's hit or miss whether he actually uses the term correctly; he throws it out in the oddest places.  But mostly I find myself mentally writing down what he's saying so I can try to translate and answer him.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sew Fun and Cute!

A few Fridays ago Mike asked what I was going to be doing for the day.  I told him I was thinking I needed to sew something.  I had spent Thursday dusting, vacuuming and picking up.  Then I ironed clothes for 2 hours.  That Friday, domesticity could take a flying leap out the window for all I cared.

The problem was I wasn't really sure what to sew.  I didn't want a huge project that wouldn't get completed and I didn't want to go buy new fabric.  I wanted to try and use what I had.  Now, I like to think I have more creative ideas than I really do.  So, I headed downstairs to go through my fabric remnants and try to figure out what I could piece together with some small scrap quilt patterns I've collected.  This visit to the basement turned into a sorting adventure and the piles in their rainbow pallettes were very pretty all laid out.  However, no ideas were sparked.  But, I'll have to take pictures sometime of all the fabric.  I do plan on using it someday...somehow.

Anyway, I remembered that my mom's friend, Sue, who is a fabulous quilter (quiltress?) had recently given me a little package to make a small quilt.  It came with instructions and fabric that all matched.  Even better is that all the colors matched our new family room colors. 

So what should have taken me about two hours ended up taking me all morning AND afternoon.  Not including binding which I did later that night.  Apparently since I haven't sewn in awhile all my measuring, cutting and actual sewing skills flew out the window with the domesticity.

But I finally finished it.  Again, I thought I could add some flourishes with fancy quilting designs.  Reality laughed in my face.  It just got quilted in straight lines around all the piecing.  I need to practice flourishing I guess.

It's now sitting on the coffee table between our couches.

It normally has something on it - currently it's Halloween decor. 

I thought about moving it somewhere else like here:

But it doesn't have much weight to hang over the edge right so it's back to the coffee table. 

See...big ideas and I don't normally co-exist.  But thanks, Sue, for a fun morning/afternoon project that kept me from going insane with more housework.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What a Way to Start the Day!

Today it's my birthday.  I'm having a fabulous day, but I wanted to share what greeted me this morning:

I heard the kids get up a little earlier than normal.  I got dressed and headed downstairs to make sure they were eating breakfast.  When I got down there they popped up from behind the couch and yelled, "Happy Birthday!"  Then they led me into the kitchen where this was on the counter.  The note says, "Good Morning, Birthday Girl!" - Maddie, Jake.  (They said they left a note for me because I always put notes in their lunches.) 

Then they told me to close my eyes and led me to my computer.  Mike had to leave for a conference this morning but he left me a message:

Maddie and Jake said they wanted to do something as a surprise because they knew that their dad always had a surprise for me on my birthday. 

As a thank you to the kids I let them each eat a cupcake for breakfast that was leftover from choir last night.  Mike can have his when he gets home tonight.

It was an awesome way to start my day.  Now I'm off to take pictures because for my birthday Mother Nature gave me an overcast day! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I'm a pondering kind of person.  I have a gazillion random thoughts running through my head at any given moment.  I usually start sharing them with Mike about the same time he's trying to fall asleep at night.  He's especially grateful for that.

One afternoon I was wondering about the traffic on this little blog that I think all of 10 households regularly read.  I have a stat counter thing that shows me that occasionally someone from Peru, Brazil, France, Abu Dhabi, Ireland, Poland, and different parts of the U.S. drop by.  Then I started looking around that site and found a spot that tells me what are some of the "big draws" I've had that have enticed these friendly foreigners to at least click on my blog, if not actually take 5 seconds to read a sentence or two.

Fourth place would go to "Donated Hair" or "Locks of Love".  It was the post I did when I was finally able to cut 10 inches off my hair and donate it to Locks of Love.  It's a very popular organization and I'm very glad I did it. 

I think the third place draw is "Yo-Ho Blow the Man Down".  It was just a title from a windy day we had here.  It's got an uber-attractive picture of me that still makes my kids chuckle.  Apparently though there are a lot of Pirate-Song loving people out there.

Second place - though it held first place for a long while - goes to "Wrestlemania".  This was the post I did when Mike and Jake started goofing around and Maddie jumped in to join them.  It's a regular occurence in our household.  I could probably post a monthly update on this and get boatloads of traffic.

First place has only recently taken over the top spot.  It also seems to be favored by people living in Texas.  "Peg Bundy" which had to do with the lovely animal prints I found at Target.  Apparently Peg's picture is very popular.  I must admit though, it was very hard to find a decent picture of her so I can understand the frustration with the web-search these people are conducting.

Now, because I've just relisted all these popular words and titles again, I'm expecting oodles of people to drop by.  But I thought I'd try to increase those numbers by adding something that I think will attract some new folks:

Nascar - of which I am not a fan. 

It's not the fast part - I'd love to take my car out on some local favorite roads and drive really fast.  I'd probably do it too if I didn't have an aversion to traffic tickets.  And jail.  However, the whole In-A-Circle-400-Times thing screams boring.  And it's loud.

But in searching Nascar I came across this image.  And please note, I've heard Nascar fans can be quite dedicated so this did not take me long to find; I think it was on the first page I searched.  There's just too many things wrong with this to point out.  I'm sure you can come up with a list on your own.

And because I have to go throw up now, I'm going to leave you with that image.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Drop Zone

Anyone?  What is wrong with this picture?

"Well," you say, "It seems there's a robe lying right in the middle of the walkway into the family room.  It seems out of place."

You would be correct.  But my kids don't think this is "out of place".

My kids seem to think this is where All-Things-Currently-Unnecessary come to die.

Or they are too tired immediately after school to walk to the opposite corner to deposit the bookbag as their dad has asked them to do repeatedly.  Ad nauseum, actually.

This was taken one morning after they left for school:

This was taken about five minutes after their return:

But then they started branching out to the other side:

And this...I'm not even sure how the blanket was dragged down.  Blankets aren't allowed downstairs unless someone is sick.  We saw the future and knew it would involve piles upon piles of blankets (that and we didn't want blanket babies). 

I don't admit to having the cleanest house.  But I would like to be able to walk into our room without having to step over a minefield.

I wonder if they are just trying to find a way to justify jumping on furniture.  "But mommmmmmm...I didn't want to step on the blanket/robe/bag/homework/books/sweatshirt laying there!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dish Washers

For the second time since we bought this dishwasher a little over a year ago it has broken down.  It is a Kenmore Model 665.13742K601 Ultra Wash-Quiet Guard Deluxe.  Do what you want with that information.  I suggest you avoid it like the plague.

This time we think it is the grinder thing but aren't totally sure yet.  But if we run it, it makes this awful sound like it's about to explode and is beginning to give a higher pitched sound of metal on metal. 

Hence, we've stopped running it.

This requires us to go back to 1890 and do dishes by hand.  So, every night after dinner the four of us squeeze into our kitchen.  Mike or I wash and the other three dry and put things away.  We talk about ye olden times and use it as a general history lesson.

Actually we mostly tell Jake to stop playing in the water when he has to rinse off a speck of soap bubbles left on.  Both kids have discovered what they do and don't like to dry.  Jake has an aversion to large plates.  Maddie prefers odd shaped things.

Because last week was MEA, both kids had an opportunity to be the dishwasher after lunches.  We figured this would be a good way to break them into washing without giving them the really dirty, hard to clean dishes that come with dinnertime.  And really, this is one of the reasons we had kids - to do the dirty work.

They did well; no one had to rewash dishes. 

And they will have a fantastic set of "back-when-we-were-younger" stories to tell their children who will probably have a fancy little machine cleaning their dishes.

You we are supposed to have.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chocolate Chip Heaven

Yesterday morning we woke up to snow.  There was some rain mixed in there.  There may have been some drizzle.  Whatever the precipation of the hour, the fact of the matter was it was wet and there was no playing outside.

Time to entertain the natives.

So, I pulled out the cookbook.  My sister is currently trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe (you can follow her efforts here and here).  She and I were talking and about changes she could try.  I started thinking about a book I have from America's Test Kitchen. 

Have you heard of these people?  I LOVE this show.  It's on PBS.  They test, test and retest recipes until they get them "perfect".  But they try to use ingredients people have, and time commitments that are realistic depending on the dish.  Anyway, they have several cookbooks and I've thought about ordering some, but I never do.  Then, awhile back while my parents were living here my mom came home with a couple books from a coworker.  They were extra "America's Test Kitchen" cookbooks and he had given them to my mom.  I commandeered ownership of these from my mom...I might have called it rent...and haven't given them back.

So, the kids and I set about making the chocolate chip cookie recipe from America's Test Kitchen.  There wasn't too much special about this recipe other than the fact that it said you needed to melt the butter before incorporating it.  That and it used an egg and extra yolk.  Tracy was skeptical about the melted butter so I had told her I would test it out (at the time she'd already made a few too many dozen cookies to have to want to try again so soon).

Here's the result:

Don't they look scrumptious?  They were.

The kids rolled them into balls and stuck them on the cookie sheets and disappeared to play back upstairs.  They yelled over their shoulder, "Call us when they are ready."  They both love to bake.  It's the waiting around part they can't stand.

I watched these like a hawk.  I was NOT going to let these burn!!  I've realized in my last few batches of cookies that walking away is a bad idea.  Things can start cooking quickly and you have to be very zealous about the right second to take it out.  Then you have to be extra zealous in letting them cool on a pan.  Getting that perfect brown color can be very frustrating - especially if I walk away.

I didn't take one picture of the baking process.  Maddie noticed this and mentioned the phenomenon.  I would have but my hands were too greasy.  Afterward though?  I took about 35 pictures - they were too pretty to not mess around with the camera.

I tell myself it's for educational purposes.  Then I tell Mike about the 35 pictures and he says it's because I'm a dork.

But I'm a dork who now holds the recipe to a pretty darn-good tasting cookie.

The kids had a good time - eating AND playing.

Not to be outdone...

(By the way...if you witness any finger biting by anyone particular, please stop her.  We are really trying to work on this.)

We ended up with 27 cookies.  These are all the cookies we have left after taste-testing five.  Five?  ("But there's only four people in the family" - you say.)  That's right.  Mike Someone we won't mention kiped two of them to taste-test while those of us that did the work only got one. 

Somebody didn't read "The Little Red Hen" when he was little.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I {heart} My Girl

Monday while I was teaching, Maddie was on the deck shoveling the snow.  There was actually a pretty crazy amount there. 

Tuesday morning after the kids left for school Mike was looking outside and asked if I'd seen out my desk window.  I peeked and ran upstairs.

This greeted me:

It absolutely made my day.  She got an extra hug when she got home.