Work-in-Progress Wednesday 22

This week I'm starting a new top secret project, but I'm showing you a peek because I just started so it is truly in the state where it could be anything, right?  I also started a new book and am watching my shrug dry (it didn't need much blocking but I wanted the trim pattern to stretch out a bit).  I can't wait to it on with my I just need to figure out what Jack is wearing for the wedding!

Joining up with Yarn Along at Small Things & WIP Wednesday at Tami's Amis.

Snowball Effect

Yesterday morning, we had our own If You Give A Mouse A Cookie scenario.  It started with Jack and I having a miscommunication/ridiculous conversation in which neither of us truly was getting what the other was saying.  When Matt arrived on the scene, I said we had just had a Who's on First conversation, which got the kids wondering what we were talking about.  So, Matt looked up the video and all three kids laughed their hearts out (Liv might have laughed more because everyone else was laughing) making them late for breakfast.  Then they proceeded to act out the jokes making a late breakfast even later, and in the end, we were late to school!

But they do have a new favorite and are asking for more too.  Who knew we'd start the week with a lesson in Abbott & Costello?  Enjoy!

Chick Peas With My Chickadee

Olivia and I worked in the kitchen this weekend roasting up some chick peas for her tasting exercise at school today.  She loved being hands-on and following the steps.  However, the old "have your kids help in the kitchen and they will try more foods" theory was not working.  Liv wouldn't even try our finished products (and tells me she doesn't try the tasting exercise offering most days at school either).  She is stubborn!

We asked for recipe recommendations last week and received a lot of great suggestions!  We made two recipes - honey cinnamon roasted chick peas

and Nora's super simple recipe for roasted chick peas (1 can, 1 T olive oil, 1 t salt & 2 T brown sugar - 12 min @ 425 degrees).

They are both big hits in this house and while Olivia would not taste-test them, the rest of us had a hard time leaving them alone so they could make it to school on Monday.  So yummy!

Bobble Baby Blanket...say that 3 times fast

I've hinted a couple times about a secret project I had in the works and today I can finally reveal it as it has been gifted (and, I think, was a big hit too)!  This bobble baby blanket was really fun to make and I was thrilled with how it came out.  I will definitely make this again!

I loved it so much that I took a ton of photos of the blanket before I wrapped it up.  It's such a textural blanket that I could not resist taking some "up close" views.

Olivia didn't want to give the blanket up either...

I had a little extra yarn once the blanket was completed and decided I really needed to add a little something for the princess on the way...I can't wait to see her modeling it!

In Search Of...

I'm crowdsourcing to see if you all might have some answers to some things I'm trying to find.  Nothing crazy...just looking for recommendations versus web searching & testing.

1. Olivia is in charge of supplying the "tasting exercise" for her school on Monday.  It's legumes month and she wants to bring in chickpeas.  Does anyone have a good, kid-friendly recipe for a roasted/crunchy chickpea?

2. Jack needs to work on his vocab skills and I would love any help...flashcards, workbooks, but especially a web site or app (the more fun, the more likely he is to work on it).  It needs to have a range of words in the upper elementary levels.  I did do some basic searching on this one and I seemed to find beginning reader words or SAT words...I need the middle ground!

3. EJ is in need of a place/charity (local preferred, benefiting kids is ideal) in need of donations of soap.  Weird, I know...just go with it!

4. I am looking for more recommendations of books about amazing/cool women.  I've been working my way through the last batch of recommendations and have really enjoyed them!  I still have one more to read (and a book on Catherine the Great that I'm waiting on the reserve list for) but then my list is empty again.  Any other book titles you can send my way?

5. Matt is wondering if anyone has any volunteer opportunities (again, local preferred) where kids can participate with their families.  We've had a hard time finding these, so find that we focus more on donations or supply drives to fill the void.

And because you've hung in there through our requests, a little smile for your day (this has been stuck in my head since last week's SNL)...

Work-in-Progress Wednesday 21

Sorry for the blurry pic...I must have had the shakes!  This week I'm starting on my own shrug for my brother's wedding (I hear there are less than 40 days until the big day).  The part I am working on now is the back and while I'm not in love with the pattern so far, I think that the next parts are the reasons I fell for the pattern.  Guess I'll have to wait and see!

I'm also reading a great book with the kids, There's A Hamster In My Lunchbox, that is really funny and also just happens to have an adoption storyline that uses appropriate adoption language (I love when that is the case).  We're all really enjoying it!  I'm reading The Descendants (to myself) and liking that a lot too (I'm only about 100 pages in at this point).  I am not liking the fact that I'm reading the version with the movie tie-in cover (major Heather pet peeve) but it's on loan from my SIL and I certainly can't turn down a free book to read!

Joining up with Yarn Along at Small Things & WIP Wednesday at Tami's Amis.

Put A Crown On It

Some days are tough...all around...for everyone in the family.  Yesterday was definitely one of those days.  The girls capped off their day with smiles though...and crowns.  In fact, I think the crowns brought out their smiles.  Lucky for them that I got to playing around this weekend and they got a couple of my creations!

I capped off my day with (bad) reality tv, some wine, candy and laundry folding.  But really the only thing that brought out my smiles were these crazy little their crowns!  Perhaps I should get to work on a grown-up-sized crown?  Maybe not...

What are your tricks for turning your frown upside-down?

A Little Mess Free Art

EJ is a tactile learner.  She thrives in her Montessori school, but because we are beginner parents to this type of teaching/learning, I often feel at a loss for how to help build on what she is doing at school.  I just got a ton of great ideas this past week at our parent/teacher conferences, but (by chance) she also worked on a little "art" this weekend that is perfect to assist in learning.

Magnetic Mosaic Kids was a Christmas gift that EJ put on her list after seeing it in a catalog.  There are a ton of colored foam blocks and paper sheets/patterns that you put on a large magnetic board.  You determine where each color block goes by matching the numbered square on the paper with a "key" that assigns a color to each number.  So basically it's working on number recognition (up to 12), fine motor skills, chart reading and dexterity (and if you involve your mom and little sister in the process, then a little teamwork is thrown in there too).  Of course she didn't seem to notice the work involved, just the awesome art she created!

And I couldn't help but notice that her first creation looked a little bit like its creator too.  Best part though...very little clean-up!

Plus and Minus

I can't believe...
I waited almost a year to get a haircut!
But I'm thankful...
that Jackie got me a super deal with her stylist & I have short hair again (photo by EJ).

I can't believe...
I made red scrambled eggs for the kids' Valentine's dinner...end result = gross!
But I'm thankful...
that we can still get a heart-shaped pizza for our Valentine's dinner tonight when the whole family is home!
I can't believe... 
that I am a grown woman reading Star Wars themed books (but they have to be pre-read/approved by someone, right?)
But I'm thankful...
that Jack and I get to work together creating origami Yodas like this one.

As if! Our origami Yodas resembled wadded balls of (white) paper. This is spectacular though!

I can't believe...
how incredibly crazy this week has been.
But I'm incredibly thankful...
for Moms who upended their life to spend 24 hours taking care of yours, so you can be with your extended family and husband.

I can't believe...
how much I love my new glasses!  Driving at night is actually not painful now and I can see the big screen clearly at the movies...yay!
I'm especially thankful...
for the fun styles available (I went nerd, Jack went cool).
I can't believe...
that I didn't try cherry M&Ms until this week. Yum! They remind my of the chocolate-covered cherries my Grandma loved (but without all the messy, runny, gooey center).
And I'm thankful...
for friends who have kept me stocked in my favorite cherry candies this week...M&Ms, Mike & Ikes, gumdrop hearts...yum!  Oh, and Sandy's cherry chocolate chip cookies were pretty incredible too!

Work-in-Progress Wednesday 20

My current WIP is awesome, but also totally top secret.  I can't wait to show it off though as I think it's gorgeous!  Anyway, instead of a WIP, I thought I would show the newest additions to my stash...40 skeins of super fun yarn!  Lots of fun!  40 skeins (plus a bunch of other goodies) for my 40th birthday...I have awesome friends!

Joining up with Yarn Along at Small Things & WIP Wednesday at Tami's Amis.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day filled with hearts, goodies and people they love!  I'm spending this lovely morning getting my first mammogram...good times.


I turned forty this past Friday and we had an awesome weekend celebrating.  I wish I had taken pics of all the yummy food we ate this weekend in grown-up restaurants, but I do have this pic of our birthday toast with the kids.

So far 40 has been pretty good to's the little people who seem to be getting knocked out by all the birthday fun!

Just Like Summer Playlist

It has been our tradition that every five years or so, we take a trip and hang out somewhere a little warmer right about now.  But this year we're sticking close to home, so I thought I'd share a playlist of the songs of last summer.

Feels Like Summer Mix
Perfume Old 97s
Options Gomez
The Walk Meyer Hawthorne
Window Are Rolled Down Amos Lee
Get Love Rusty P's
Angry Words Willy Porter
Don't Play No Game Beastie Boys
In the Sun She & Him
Blowin' My Mind BoDeans
Pumped Up Kicks Foster the People

What songs transport you to a warm summer day (or a tropical vacation)?

We Give Books & Your School

We Give Books is an online library for read a book on the computer and they give a book to the charity you have selected (click here for more info in my previous post on WGB).  Over 630,000 books have been read at We Give Books to date, so that many books have been donated as well!

Starting February 14th (through March 14th) they are launching the Read for my School campaign.  They will be giving away 150,000 books to US public elementary schools and every school that has 50 books read on their behalf is eligible.  I don't think it could be easier for kids and parents to support their school libraries (or a school library in your area that might be in need).

Find all the details here and sign up for an email reminder when the campaign begins here.  Sign up and get reading!

Valentine Printables

There are so many cute printables floating around the web right now for Valentine's Day, so I thought I'd do a quick round-up of some of my favorites and share the love.

Valentine Fortune Tellers via Design Mom

Baked with Love & Owl Valentines designed by Wild Olive

Heartthrob Valentines created by Design Editor

Bouncy Ball Bag Toppers designed & shared by the amazing Nellie*Design for Jack & EJ (don't miss her shop)!

Cooking with Pinterest...Family Style Edition

I have been trying new recipes off of Pinterest again, but this time around, I did my menu planning for the family (last time was party snacks).  I figured it was worth a shot and, for the most part, it was successful.  None of these recipes are fancy or uber-healthy, but they do feed a family of five and are simple to make!

Crockpot Potato Soup
I have a potato soup recipe from my sister-in-law that I love, but I rarely make it.  This recipe involves a crockpot and opening some packages...much more likely that I will make it often.  Everyone really liked it (it is filling & we had lots of leftovers too), except for Olivia (who only ate the shredded cheese she picked off the top of her soup & her dinner roll).

Teriyaki Chicken and Rice
This is another simple recipe with the added benefit of being super fast and customizable.  I did ours with brown rice, chicken, edamame and egg.  Everyone loved the teriyaki sauce (even Jack who normally is not a fan).  Olivia (who is not as picky as Jack, but can like something one day & hate it the next) ate everything except the rice.

Cheeseburger Flatbread Melts
I made these using my sloppy joe recipe and also used pre-made flatbread that I toasted before making the melt.  No one complained, but I don't think anyone was in love.

Sloppy Joe Grilled Cheese
The next week I tried another variation with our sloppy joes and added the meat to a grilled cheese sandwich.  This was a huge hit (although I think Liv only ate her fruit and veggies).

Chicken and Dumplings/Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe is titled Chicken and Dumplings, but it's really an easy version of chicken pot pie.  Super simple and has a very similar taste to traditional chicken pot pie without a lot of work.  This was not a huge hit, but no one really hated it either.

Confession: I bought my first suitcase chicken for this recipe.  I don't think I'll be doing that again though.  For one thing, I couldn't touch it (uck), so Matt had to get all the meat out for me.  Another is it made my car smelly on the way home.  I think I'll stick to chicken without bones.

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread
This was loved by everyone and simple to make too.  I think it would have come out better if I made it in a bundt pan as instructed (I used an angel food cake pan as I still haven't purchased a bundt pan) as the dough would have cooked more evenly, but the kids really liked this one.  It's a fun Friday night treat dinner for sure.

I'm sure you've picked up that Jack is my pickiest eater and Livie is my fussiest eater, so it's extremely rare that everyone likes the same meal.  I want them to eat but it's really gotten to the point where I just can't worry about it.  Still there are some meals that Matt & I love that none of the kids will eat.  So the other night when I made one of those meals for us, I threw together something different (and quick) for them.  Rotini, edamame, chicken, and parmesan cheese...they all loved it.  Like really loved Olivia had four helpings loved it!  So bizarre, but if I can make something they will gobble down that easily (from random things I find in the kitchen), I might need to start doing it more often.

Wedding Outfit Preview

The sweaters for the girls are completed, so they got to try them on with their dresses for my brother's wedding.  Of course, EJ was mostly concerned about how we would do her hair and if she would get to wear sparkly shoes (there may have been a question about jewelry too), but overall they were pretty happy to dress-up for a couple minutes so I could snap these pics.

Both dresses are from Old Navy (we still need to do something about the pink band on Liv's dress) and the sweaters are done in the same yellow cotton yarn.  EJ's sweater is the Vera shrug and Olivia's is the Flutter Baby Top (click links for pattern info).

Reading List Summary, January 2012

Family List
We're Roaming the Rainforest (Laurie Krebs)
Al Pha's Bet (Amy Krouse Rosenthal)
A Ball For Daisy (Chris Raschka)
Tyrannosaurus Dad (Liz Rosenberg)
Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile (Gloria Houston)
That Cat Can't Stay (Thad Krasnesky)
Police Dogs (Mary Ann Hoffman)
The Art Collector (Jan Wahl)
Giant Steps to Change the World (Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee)
Emma's Journey (Claire Frossard)
Madeline at the White House (John Bemelmans Marciano)
Can We Save the Tiger? (Martin Jenkins)
Max for President (Jarrett J. Krosoczka)
Watch Pine Trees Grow (Therese Shea)
Raccoons (William John Ripple)
Stars of the Sea (Allan Fowler)
Dashing Through the Snow (David Kirk)
Yoko's Show and Tell (Rosemary Wells)

Jack's List
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Tom Angleberger)
The Boxcar Children #19: Benny Uncovers a Mystery (Gertrude Chandler Warner)
The Boxcar Children #80: The Hockey Mystery (created by Gertrude Chandler Warner)
Cheetahs (Kate Riggs)
Bill Clinton (Elaine Landau)
Bats: Hunters of the Night (Elaine Landau)
The Boxcar Children #11: Caboose Mystery (Gertrude Chandler Warner)
The Boxcar Children #17: Mystery Behind the Wall (Gertrude Chandler Warner)
Sports Camp (Rich Wallace)
Harry Houdini: A Magical Life (Elizabeth MacLeod)

Mom's List
Then Again (Diane Keaton)
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Tom Angleberger) 
Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times (Helen Thomas) 
Sports Camp (Rich Wallace) 
Darth Paper Strikes Back (Tom Angleberger)

Work-in-Progress Wednesday 19

I have a couple projects going this week but they are top secret, so instead I'll share my newest squares to send to knit a square.  The top three are semi-cheats because I had them already started for another project but then ditched it.  So I added a couple rows to each and now they are all set at 8" as required.

The other two I made are Bars & Diamonds and Alternate Bobbles from this book (I splurged and bought it for myself).  I am still loving trying new patterns and this book has a lot of new things to try.  Adding these five squares to my previous three means I have my January & February squares completed.

I am reading Give A Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World.  I'm really learning a lot and I've just finished the first four chapters (the remainder of the book highlights charity organizations working towards specific issues such as hunger, education and health).  It is truly amazing how small donations have made huge impacts in our world.  In 2004, $2.78 billion of aid sent to help after the tsunami was sent from ordinary American citizens (45% of the total giving from around the world) and the median donation was $50.  Fifty dollar donations, when 1/4 of all US households give, certainly adds up to a lot of relief effort!

Have you heard of the March of Dimes?  It began when a radio star named Eddie Cantor (working with the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis) asked his fans to each send a dime to FDR in 1938.  The campaign raised $1.8 million the first year with $280,000 arriving in the form of dimes.  The campaign continued to snowball, even during wartime, and by 1959 had raised a total of $622 million.  A vaccine was developed in the 50s and by 1979, polio was completely eradicated in the US, all thanks to a whole lot of dimes.  I think that is pretty amazing! (All facts listed above are from Give A Little)

So back to the great is the texture on these?  I'm loving the bobbles!  However, I am not loving having to weave in the ends on those granny squares though!

Joining up with Yarn Along at Small Things & WIP Wednesday at Tami's Amis.