December 27, 2010

Impress myself?

I made truffles! Granted, it was from a recipe and they were super easy, but still. :)

I still can't add active links here, but here's the recipe for anyone else wanting to give it a whirl:

I made a quarter batch the first time as a test run to make sure they would work. The second batch was a half batch that I split into 4 parts. Two parts were chocolate coated in bakers cocoa/powdered sugar, 1 part was peppermint rolled in crushed candy cane and the last part was almond extract rolled in Magic Bullet-ed almonds. Finely ground might be the other descriptor. :)

Anyway, they were super easy and quite tasty! I was pretty impressed with my ability to make something that seems so fancy.

December 20, 2010

Explain santa not coming?

We will not be teaching our kids anything about "good" girls or "bad" boys or anything like that. We use good as a descriptor for the dog but never as a description of our kids. We tell Sparky that she's a nice girl and is kind. She has a couple kids that she sees often and she'll describe them or their actions as naughty. That's our basic reference point. See someone else do something undesirable and then remind her how we want her to behave and treat others. So far, so good. Er... um.... so far, so nice.

December 16, 2010

Make it worth it?

The fam and I met some other moms for a "light show" tonight at the local botanical gardens.

In the rain.

Well shit.

That's not what I was planning on.

So, standing in the rain, waiting for friends to show up, wondering why we're doing this..... Grrrr......

Now add in the reality that my base body temperature seems to actually be low and I'm standing there in the cold and rain and frankly, was not happy about it. But I said I'd be there, so I gotta go.

After waiting for the last person for awhile after I'd already sent everyone else (including Sparky and friends) ahead, I went to catch up with them. Once I got to them, I remembered why the cold and rain were worth it. It's a beautifully magical place all made up like a spring/summer garden, but with Christmas lights.

Oh yeah. THAT'S why it's worth it! It's just so beautiful, but not in the double rainbow kinda way. It really is very beautiful and a lot of work went into making it so lovely. I took Sparky and Spunky twice this year and both nights were free nights. I should probably either take them again on a fee night or just do an online donation and not be such a cheapskate about it.

It almost feels like a community service that they do the lights and it's something Hubs and I have enjoyed together since before we were engaged. It's kinda our little family tradition, which makes it even more worth the cold and rain that we had tonight.

And really, I know to expect cold and rain this time of year living here. What else would there be?

December 14, 2010

Wake up?

Day to day, this is a different answer, but one way that I woke up was last spring.
At the time, I was part of a blog consortium (for lack of better for word it) and was writing a post about what I believe.

Um…. hi reality. It had been awhile hadn’t it?

One of the things that I wrote was that I believe blogging should be fun and something that adds to my life rather than a chore or something that I have to do.

It’s not like I get paid for it. If I did, yeah, writing could be something I have to do. But I’m not, so it’s not.

I never published that post. Just writing that I think it should be fun was the wake up call I needed to step back from all the carnivals, prompts, and just be me. So, I am now awake, at least in that sense, and am not doing all the other junk. It’s kinda fun to a point, but it’s also a false sense of importance. I may have had some followers, but none of them said a word when I stopped blogging. The few who’ve refound me as of this posting are people that I actually know in reality and aren’t just virtual profiles out in space.

This is much better.

December 13, 2010

Feed a friend?

Butternut squash soup
1 extra large and mostly "meat" butternut squash
4 cups water
4 cups veggie broth
3 sweet potatos
3 apples
two big handfuls of baby carrots

1 small-ish onion
1 red pepper (I didn't have it this time, but wish I had)
1 block of firm silken tofu

sprinkle or 3 of:
fresh ground black pepper
ground nutmeg
ground cloves
ground ginger
allspice (can't remember if I tossed that in, but I think I did)a little bit of salt (maybe 1/8 teaspoon)

Cut all the veggies into 1" cubes or so. It's not rocket science, just estimate it and go with it! :) Stick everything in a large pot and let it cook until everything is soft. Then, puree in a blender in batches.

I like to puree and then dump the puree into a large mixing bowl and then stir the batches together after it's all pureed. Mine made around 30 cups of soup.

Soup was delivered with two scratch made biscuits, homemade apple pie filling, some dried apples and a couple apple flax pancakes for breakfast tomorrow. Hopefully it lightens the load my friend carries.

December 11, 2010

Get so lucky?

It's probably not pure luck, but that doesn't mean I don't feel lucky. I do.

I have an amazing rockstar of a husband who doesn't hesitate to just do what needs to be done and knows when I stressed to my breaking point. He's also fantastic at helping keep me from reaching that point and helping me keep perspective that while Sparky and Spunky are young, yeah... it's going to be hard some days and some days (or parts of days) might just completely suck. Take yesterday morning for example. I quite simply told Hubs that I needed a do-over when I was finally on my way to the store for a large shopping trip at 12:30 that I should have been started at 11 at the latest. Yeah, yesterday morning sucked.

But, then came this morning and life was so much better. I had a new day's perspective and all the junk from yesterday was gone while I was able to simply enjoy a party that I'd planned for my kids. It was great and such a fun time for us.

I also have two kind-hearted, intelligent and silly as shit little kids. I really don't think I could ask for more. The fact that they're beautiful is a complete bonus. Someone else described her little girl as "pretty much perfect" to me today and I kinda thought "well, mine aren't, but they're pretty freaking awsome!"

There's an element of luck with how Hubs and I met maybe, and an element of just the right genes for the kidlets, but I know that some of why life is good is a result of the choices that my parents, myself, Hubs, his parents, and the kiddo's make and have made. The equation goes something like this.....

good choice+good choice+good choice+good choice+perspective=good life

Now, there are sometimes things that send all the good choices to the crapper for sure, but that's where perspective comes in. Even when something sucks, it doesn't all suck. So then, you're back to good life. Pretty simple really.

December 10, 2010

(or rather we) decide not to santa?

Let me first say that I don't care how or if others celebrate any given holiday. No judgement from me about it, please offer me the same. Besides that, it's my blog so I get to spew whatever I want! Mwah ah ah!!

We don't do santa because that's not what Christmas is about in our family. It's about the birth of Christ. Yes, I fully know that it probably didn't happen in the winter, but since December 25th is the generally accepted date to celebrate it, we go with that. I know and understand why winter was chosen and as my kids are older, that's an opportunity for Hubs and I to talk to them about history, politics and religion and how they all work (or don't) together.

That's our main reason. We want our kids to grow up with the concepts of God and Christ so Christmas and Easter are important holidays in our family that have nothing to do with old men or rabbits. The way we explain Christmas presents to the kids is that for someone's birthday, we often give them a present. There's a little bit of Jesus in everyone, so we get to give everyone presents for Jesus' birthday. And, since there's a little bit of Jesus in us too, we might get some presents.

We also try to be as age appropriately honest as we can about things with the kids so we're just not feeling the need to introduce all the holiday characters. Really, what's the point? For us, there isn't one. For others, they do and it works for them. No problem.

Last year, we tried celebrating Saint Nicholas Day, but that didn't work so well. We still felt like we were lying by acting like someone besides us would put things in their socks. It just hit the "this is wrong" chord with both of us as parents. St Nicholas day is actually a holiday that is celebrated in other parts of the country and in other countries. It's December 6th for anyone who's interested. Here's some pretty good info about it: Saint Nicholas is actually where santa comes from.

Growing up, Hubs' family and mine both did santa to various degrees. Mine more than his. We both grew up with it but there's a lot about parenting that we do differently than our parents or siblings. Christmas is just one of them.

At this point, Sparky will tell people "santa is a character and pretend". She gets what santa really is. Now we can explain better what santa represents (somewhat, but that's another post). We can explain that santa is about taking care of kids and doing nice things for others, which is a simplified version of what Saint Nicholas is known for.

It's just what's working for us and consistent with our choices as parents.

December 6, 2010

Meet my nemesis?

Maybe nemesis is too strong of a word, but maybe not.

Wanna know what it is?

It's those fricking fugly net lights that some a-hole designed and ridiculous people insist on installing on their poor unsuspecting shrubs.

I HATE net lights. Absolutely, with a passion, hate them.

What the heck lazy neighbors? If you want to put up lights, no problem. Sparky and Spunky love them as we go by. Thank you for putting them up. Now, Hubs and I can't stand the net lights. Take
the time to put up real lights that you wind around what-not on your own, or don't bother. Same goes for the crazy ugly woodland creatures. Let them be. Maybe that's why deer don't come through the 'hood anymore. They're too embarrassed by your holiday decorating.

And if you read my previous blog, yes, I complained about this last year about this time too. I really just can't stand those stupid lights!

December 4, 2010

Make a birdfeeder?

Probably the same way that most people made at least one between the ages of 2 and 8!

With a large pinecone, some peanut butter, and some birdseed.

We had friends over this morning to make them with us. I had collected the pinecones last spring when they were all wide open. Left them in the garage for a couple months to get nice and spidery. Then today, dumped them in the back yard, tied a piece of red ribbon at the top, slathered in peanut butter and rolled in birdseed. Sparky loved being able to help and loved making a mess with the baking pan of seed. Yeah, thanks kid. Spunky tried to "help", but really, she just tried to get the seed off the table. Thanks to you too kid!

It actually was pretty fun and both kids enjoyed it I think. Now the real fun begins of watching the birds come for the seed. I think they'll enjoy watching the birds while they're eating at the table too.

December 1, 2010

Find joy today?

There's this thing that happens most every day at my house. Sparky and Spunky and I pile on the bed and there's generally some giggling, tickling, playing and it generally dissolves into two little girls climbing all over me. It's also often my favorite time of day. They're bony and uncoordinated and I often feel like I'm being bruised.

Then again, there's also something magical about their unpretentious joy of being together as the three of us. I love their laughter and giggles and while Hubs doesn't always understand me keeping them up a little bit later, it's totally worth it! They sleep plenty (Lord knows it!) and an extra 10 minutes of being awake each afternoon isn't anything to worry about.

Their laughter is the best part of every single day and I always try to make sure that we all get those few moment of joy. It really is incredible and I wish everyone who knows them got to experience what I get to experience each day. I'm so lucky to be mom to my special little girls!

November 30, 2010

Teach my kids to care about others?

It's really a work in progress, but something we did today was a big step for Sparky. We got together with about 8 other moms who also have small children. We each brought some things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, hats, single serve fruit cups, and hand warmers. We then set everything out on the tables and put a little bit of it all into gallon sized zip-locs. Now, we each have at least 3 ziplocs to hand to a person on the street corner who can use it.

Making the kits was a great opportunity to talk about giving to others and that we are supposed to help people when we can. When we give out the kits, it's another opportunity to talk to Sparky especially about the difference between want and need. Sparky isn't greedy, just learning about life.

How did you teach your kids to care?

Make awsome fruit and nut bars?

When I was still gainfully employed I used to enjoy store bought Lara bars, about 1 a day. Tasty, relatively nutritious, simple. Sure, why not!

Oh yeah, because they're not cheap and they have a somewhat weird texture that's pretty "datey".

Now that I'm not working a paid job and am much more involved in cooking organic and wholesome foods for my family, I decided this was something I could do myself.

I tried a sample of a coconut cream pie Lara bar at a local grocery store and promptly started searching for a recipe. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for, so I tried making my own. First try was with pecans and cashews. Eh. I can do better. Now, I've done better and I'm sharing it!!

So, here's my very simple, very tasty recipe for homemade fruit and nut bars that take all of about 5 minutes to make.

Coconut Lush Fruit and Nut Bars (mine are completely organic)
.25c cashews (Trader Joe's or PCC baking)
.25c almonds (Trader Joe's or PCC baking)
.5c shredded coconut (PCC baking)
.25c deglet dates (PCC bulk)
.25c medjool dates (PCC produce)
2t coconut butter (PCC baking)

Put all the nuts, the coconut and the coconut butter in a food processor. Let 'er rip until the nuts are about half as big as you really want them. Just break them up a bit. I break them up a lot since I'm feeding this to young children. Remove the pits from the medjool dates and then toss the dates in there too! Let it go again until it's mixed to your liking. Again, I let it go until it's all really small and well mixed since I'm feeding it to little kids. It's probably going to look a little dry, but when you pinch it with your fingers, it should stick together. This makes about 1 cup of fruit and nut bar.

My favorite thing to do at this point is to press it into the lid of my butter keeper. It's a rectangle and just deep enough for me to fit a while batch in. Then I stick it all in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until I open the fridge again. Turn it out, slice and stick any leftovers back in the fridge in your favorite food storage device. These would probably last quite awhile since everything is shelf stable, but a batch this size has never lasted more than a few days in my household of 4.

November 25, 2010

Create a cute holiday card for Shutterfly and get a $25 credit?

I'm a pretty regular reader of freebies 4 mom and she had a step by step of how to get a $25 gift certificate to shutterfly. I followed her directions, made a cute card, and voila! I should end up with a credit to order said cute card for the holidays! If you want to do it too, it's pretty easy and the steps are here:
Sorry I can't make the links cooler. I'm just having issues with it.
Oh yeah, scroll to the next post to see my cute card!

Christmas 2010

Classic Snowflakes Christmas
Shop for elegant Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

November 24, 2010

Score some awesome free toothpaste?

I'm a BzzAgent as part of a word of mouth marketing campaign.They send me free samples to try and samples to give away and I tell people what I think about the product. It's pretty slick and I've had some awesome samples too!
I'm having some serious trouble getting links to embed, but here's the link if you're interested in being a BzzAgent too:

So, the toothpaste.It's from Tom's of Maine, which has been my toothpaste brand of choice for years, and is their new line of Wicked Fresh which is supposed to help keep fresh breath for hours. Okay, who doesn't like that right?
I signed up to be part of the fray, waited impatiently for my toothpaste to arrive and voila! The day that my other tube of ToM ran out, there was a beatiful box on the doorstep! Cool Peppermint to be exact. I'm more of a fruity toothpaste user myself, but what the heck, mint is a little more refreshing I guess.
Open tube, apply a pea sized amount (anybody else think that's funny?), and brush away. Oh goodness that's hot! Not temperature wise, but like.... hot mint. Okay, wiping away tears from heat..... ready to spit. Oh. How to take a breath without it burning? Hmmm. Warm water to rinse. Oh. Not a good idea. Well, gotta rinse somehow. In the words of Tim Gunn.... Make it work! Okay, done.

Final verdict:
Eh, it does the job and my teeth are clean. No complaints that my breath stinks so either I have a very polite family or the toothpaste does what it's supposed to do! Maybe both. Then again, Sparky doesn't have a very good verbal filter.

If you're interested in picking up some of the new Toms of Maine Wicked Fresh toothpaste, it's pretty readily available online and in local grocery stores. It was about $3.50 at my local store and online it was a bit more.

November 23, 2010

Get to be a blogger?

I started a blog about a year ago, got involved in too many silly carnivals, got burnt out, just quit doing it and eventually, just deleted the whole mess. Most every day right now, I think to myself, how did I...., so, a blog is born.
I know this first post probably won't be read much. I'm okay with that. Hopefully something that I write somewhere along the way will strike a chord with you!
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