Monday, April 26, 2010

Baking Monday and Magic

Technically baked on Saturday, not Monday ... Caramel Brownies. Mmmmmmm.

Sadly, Baking Monday will be on hold for awhile, since the pool season is over until the fall. I'll be making some kind of sweet for playoffs in June and looking for other baking opportunities in the meantime. Good news is, I have a bunch of cookie orders coming up, so I'll be posting pics of those soon.

In other news ... magic! Theo signed himself up for the school talent show on Friday and did an excellent job. Jeff was upset after a disaserous dress rehearsal where the lovely assistant was not behaving so lovely ("That's why we have rehearsals!" the director reassured me.) But they went home and practiced and practiced some more, reminding everyone to just keep smiling, no matter what happens on stage!

Unfortunately, I did not get great pics from the show, these were from his encore performance after a cookout the following night.

I am so amazed at how confident he was, from the day he signed himself up for the show, through daily rehearsals up until the time he performed on stage. He was not a bit nervous or hesitant. He loved it!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dr. Dora

For awhile now, Dora has had a fascination with ... injuries. When she was little, she asked for strips of cloth to bandage her doll's arms or legs. She has the American Girl first aid set (complete with realistic doll-sized crutches) and wheelchair, which she uses a lot to wheel Thora around, sporting one kind of cast or another. She often makes sketches of people in casts or in wheelchairs. I'm choosing not to find this disturbing and think of her as a caretaker instead. Any advice on what do do or say about this particular interest?

I found this today while cleaning the living room ...

A Polly van converted to an ambulance.

With snacks (?) in the front seat.

And wrapped up inside, placed gently on pillows, the princess and knight from our Royal Rescue set.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Project

So, Dora and I were talking about Earth Day a couple weeks ago and she wanted to make cloth napkins for the kids in her class. I originally agreed, because I thought it would be a good way to use up some of my scrap fabric. As the date got closer, I realized that actually sewing 17 napkins was so not going to happen, since I currently have a stack of Etsy work that's been sitting on my sewing table for about two months. We purchased napkins at The Christmas Tree Shop instead, which I realize is probably not eco-friendly, but it sure was time-friendly.

Dora traced and cut out each child's initial out of scrap fabric and ironed them on to the napkins with Heat & Bond. (What in the world did sewers do before Heat & Bond? And Heat & Bond Lite? It is fantastic!) She did all the work herself ... I already keep a collection of letter templates with my sewing supplies, so she used those for tracing. She lost some enthusiasm about halfway through the ironing, but I was proud of her for finishing up.

She made tags and we tied them up with more scrap fabric. She's planning on handing them out before snack time today. I love the idea, we're big fans of cloth napkins over here, and really hope the kids put them to good use.

Speaking of cloth napkins, Maria at ChangeDiapers , a great site for cloth diapering info, gave my cloth napkins a wonderful review this week and we're doing a giveaway! Visit this page to enter.

And in other news this week, I just printed some new notecards to include with Spotgirl and Etsy orders, and spent some time putting packages together.

The notesheets are made from old paper samples and I put some of my gajillion outdated business cards to good use by using them as decoration.

Yay, color!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Baking Monday - Colossal Cookies

Went with an old standby today, Colossal Cookies, named for their ginormous size. Also known as Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, which is how I describe them to anyone outside of my family. According to my recipe card, Aunt Mary is the one to thank for introducing us to this fantastic cookie. My sister Bonnie has made these her specialty. These cookies taste deceptively healthy, which makes them an excellent breakfast cookie. I guarantee Jeff's packing one or two in his lunch tomorrow because "they go great with tea", which is his latest excuse for taking baked goods to work every day. (Hi, Sweets!)

This is an ideal recipe for a Kitchen Aid mixer. Ordinary hand mixers would cry at the thought of six cups of oatmeal and a jar of peanut butter, but not the K5. The K5 laughs and says, "Bring it".

Update: By popular demand ...

Colossal Cookies

1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 c chunky peanut butter
6 c oats
1 c chocolate chips*
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

• Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs
• Add peanut butter and blend
• Stir in oatmeal, chips and soda
• Scoop with ice cream scoop (about 1/4 c dough) onto tray, flatten slightly
• Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes

* The recipe says one cup, I say two! Or even better, one cup of chocolate chips and one cup of pb chips. Can also substitute M&Ms.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shopping Lists

This is something I've been fiddling with for awhile, and finally have a workable item, so I thought I'd share with the locals. I've been wanting to make a shopping list for awhile, since I always shop at the same places for the same items. Originally, I started with an itemized list and checkboxes, but it was way too complicated. That evolved into a categorized list written according to the layout of the store, which is how I always used to make my lists, but if I wrote an item in the wrong place on my list due to space, it would typically be forgotten.

I guess I should back up ... I need lists. I need things written down. When I get in the store, my mind is on such overload that if it is not on the list, it will not be purchased. I am crippled without my shopping list, seriously the most I can handle without a list is about three items, max.

So, after using this list for several months, I'm thrilled to say that it has made my life MUCH easier. (Though only in the area of making grocery shopping lists ... I assure you, everything else is still chaos.) I even made checkboxes at the top to remind me to bring recycling back to the store and remember to bring my shopping bags. I also a special checkbox for eggs, because that is the one item I was most always likely to forget.

These lists are specific to the Johnson City Wegmans and the Vestal Parkway Giant (which I will continue to call Giant until they change the ginormous sign in the front of the store.) Maybe they'll work for other stores, too. Notice that on the Giant list, there's a category called "Aisle 1", because there is such a variety of items in that first aisle (juice, applesauce, granola bars, rice cakes), I couldn't think of what to call it!

The lists are two-up on a page, so they can be printed out and trimmed in half. I keep a stack in the kitchen and write meal plans for the week on the back.

Download Wegmans list here.

Download Giant list here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Baking Monday - Peanut Butter!

One of the pool team members has noted that every week there has been a peanut butter dessert, she's won. I haven't made anything peanut butter in a few weeks, and her game has been suffering. Jen, this one's for you!

Peanut Butter Shortbread and Nutter Butter Balls (chosen only for the awesome name? Perhaps.)

My cousin Kristie has made Oreo Balls for years and they are fan-tastic. Ever since I saw this post on Bakerella, I've been wanting to try them with Nutter Butters instead. Pretty awesome.

These are iced with Ghiradelli, because everything's better with chocolate, right? Good luck tonight, Jen!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big Night Out

Clark got his reward for finally making the jump from diapers to underpants. He wanted to play air hockey with Dad at Chuck E Cheese. It's been a long time (if ever) that we all went there together for anything other than a birthday party. Unfortunately, it was a Friday night during Spring Break and busier than we all would have preferred, but the guest of honor still had a great time.

He played about 20 games of Skee Ball. Yes, we let him walk right up on the ramp and throw the balls in. He got a whole mess of tickets and was completely happy.

He got to play his games of air hockey. I love that he's all rosy-cheeked, partly because it was really warm and partly because he must picked up some weird kind of virus while we were at Chuck E Cheese, as he is currently curled up on the couch sleeping, which is extremely unusual for a Saturday afternoon.

Now when I look at these pictures, all I'm going to see is germs.



Clark as Mario.

And again.

Okay, I shouldn't blame this illness totally on Chuck E Cheese, he did have his mouth on a fair amount of surfaces during our trip to the city, and his hands on lots of public toilet seats in the last two weeks.

Spotted around the house this morning ... Dora Dollars.

I wonder if the rate is on par with a Schrute Buck?

Baking Monday will be back this week ... a peanut butter special edition!

Friday, April 9, 2010

NYC Day Trip

We also went down to NYC this week. Had beautiful weather and a great day!

Clark spent all our time at the NBC store playing with this bin. "I love these blue balls!" His favorite thing in the world in his favorite color ... he couldn't get enough.

We had originally planned to go to the top of the Empire State Building, per Theo's request. My friend Sarah recommended going to Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock), and I'm SO glad we did. The price was the same, but we had timed tickets and there was NO wait at all, which was one comment I had read about the ESB – long lines. After our five-hour wait for the Statue of Liberty in the fall, we wanted an experience that included little to no wait time, so this was perfect. It's not cheap ... but the view was incredible.

The first two levels are glass-enclosed.

It was really windy up top! But since the day was already so hot, it felt great.

The top floor was open air. I skipped this one and let Jeff take the older kids. The older I get, the more nervous I am about heights.

After Rockefeller Center, the boys went to the Nintendo Store ("Batendo", according to Clark) and Dora and I hit American Girl Place.

She has been wanting to do a photo with her doll for a long time, so this was perfect ... and not nearly as expensive as I thought it would be! (Her doll is a Just Like You, and her name is Thora, BTW.) We were going to take her doll to the salon, but there was over an hour wait, so we did a quick DIY style before the photo session instead. The store is very cute – I really liked seeing all the dolls and accessories in person. I was hoping for a few more store-exclusive items, though. Dora picked out one fancy doll dress and matching tshirts for her and Thora.

After meeting up with the boys, we went to dinner at The Primeburger. The food was just okay, but it was perfect for the kids (casual and cheap!) Theo declared it the best dinner he'd ever had (hot dog and smiley face french fries with a special treat - SODA!), so I would call the meal a success. Then we walked down to FAO Schwarz. We only had about an hour and a half (why do stores in Manhattan close at 7 pm?) so we zipped through kind of quick. Theo had a great time picking out a new Lego set and Dora loved the big piano. Clark picked out a metal truck and a stuffed Audobon bird that tweets. (He loves birds!) 


Smurfs! OMG, I used to love these little guys. I didn't have very many, but I remember getting such a rush when I finally had enough money to buy one, and then agonizing over which one to get. Luckily, I don't still get the same rush, or I would have walked out with enough to populate a small mushroom town.

Then one last stop at the Apple store, which is for some reason, open twenty-four hours. The store was PACKED! And not just by the iPads, the whole store was crazy crowded. Jeff really wanted to check out the iPad. We flipped over to books and Dora was thrilled to see "Bezus and Ramona" as one of the choices, so she started reading. The tablets were awfully fingerprint-y, it was kind of gross. I mean, we touched stuff all day long that thousands of other people had their grubby hands on, but actually seeing all the fingerprints makes it an icky reality!

Another great time in the city. Maybe we'll actually do something cultural next time instead of just hitting retail shops.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Break

Why hello, there! We've been Spring Breaking this week.

Bike riding, lots of it. We've logged lots of hours at the empty school parking lot.

Oh! And here's some news. This is the same girl who made several tear-filled pleas over the last several months that we puh-leaaase put her training wheels back on because she is nuh-eeeever going to learn to ride a two-wheeler, it's just too huh-aaaard. Guess what she figured out how to do on Monday?

Yesterday, we went to an egg drop at a friend's house. Everyone brought recycled materials and the kids used them to protect a hard-boiled egg.

Working on the first construction.

After the eggs were dropped, everyone checked to see if they had any cracks. The materials used for each round had to be thrown away, giving everyone limited resources for the following rounds.

Drop #2.

Going ...

Going ...

Unhappy with the landing.

Cleaning up after Round #2 ... the kids all came running out to collect their egg packages.

This was a lot of fun, though somewhat chaotic. I think there were about a dozen kids participating. It was cool to see what they came up with and what they thought would work.

Post-Weekend Update

First up ... April Fool's Day. I am NOT a big prank player. Personally, I hate them. But, the kids love them and have been talking up April Fool's Day, so I figured I'd get them before they got me. They were having a sleepover in Theo's room on Wednesday night, so before we went to bed, we covered their door with crepe paper and left a gotcha note.

I really expected to hear more screams of surprise - they got a kick out of it, but not as much delight as I had thought. Unfortunately, the sleepover left them both really cranky, so the rest of our day did not involve much merriment. (Sad face.)

But things were looking up by Friday. The weather was gorgeous, and we spent the morning on an egg hunt with some of my favorite people. Clark was VERY aprehensive about collecting eggs. He's recently been very crowd-phobic and did not want to be part of the big group. I had to carry him over to the egg hunt kicking and screaming, but then big sis helped him find his first egg, and he was much more excited after that.

Theo was crushed to find that one of his eggs had a High School Musical ring inside. Dora offered to see if one of her HSM-loving friends had something she might want to trade. A few minutes later, she came excitedly running back to us, because the other girl had an army figure in one of her eggs and was happy to trade. Perfect!

Brio Waterway that Clark got for Christmas and had been SO excited about playing with. This took me thirty minutes to put together ... I told the kids that they had to play with it for at least twice as long as it took to put together!!

After our Easter festivities, we went out for a Sunday drive. This picture was taken after Dora ran over Clark, but before Theo ran over Dora. Luckily, no major injuries were sustained.

Who gave these two a license?

The mailbox is getting used! I love the detailed drawings on this envelope.