Friday, November 09, 2012

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

There are some moments that are so ordinary yet so magical. Have you ever felt that before? They seem to be always spontaneous, never planned. A moment that happens during an everyday event. Going to the park. Not so exciting. But, while the boys were playing catch, "A" asked if she could roll down the grassy hill. Of course she could. Then I looked up and saw her teaching her baby sister how to do it too. My heart melted...

Sunday, January 01, 2012

12 12s in 2012

My 6 year old when she was itty-bitty modeling the first scarf I knit

I'm totally stealing this from my good friend Amanda over at HippieMommy. :) It's a list of 12 sets of 12 to accomplish in 2012. I loved the idea because I thought it would be easy to break down my list into monthly chunks and then it wouldn't feel so overwhelming. I was also hoping it would keep me on track with a few goals for myself in the New Year. So without further ado...

1. Start and finish 12 knitting projects.
I love to knit. I started knitting a few years ago (after much eye-rolling and scoffing at other knitters over the years) and fell in love with the craft. I'm a very slow knitter and get bogged down when I face something new. I end up putting off projects and not doing as much as I'd like. So start and finish 12 projects. Maybe my kids will finally get the hats they've been begging me for. 

2. Use 12 skeins of yarn from my stash.
I don't buy a ton of yarn, but I'm starting to accumulate a bit of a stash. Sometimes I forget to check my stash before buying something new. 12 skeins used up would make room for lots of new yarn for sure!

3. Work on 12 crochet projects.
I just started learning to crochet. I'm pretty sure I'll always be a knitter who knows a little crochet. But, I think the best way to get better is to practice. And judging from my first dishcloth that is unintentionally not square, I need a lot of practice.

4. Complete 12 sewing projects.
I also love to sew. Actually, I'm kind of an ADD crafter. LOL I like to do lots of different things. But, I'd love to see 12 sewing projects started and finished. Maybe I'll finally tackle making myself a new purse. It's been on my to-do list for quite awhile.

5. Read 12 classics.
I need to get back into the habit of reading more than just Facebook status updates.

6. Read 12 non-fiction books.
Again, back in the habit of reading...

7. Get rid of 12 garbage bags full of stuff.
We have way too much stuff in our house (and shed and garage) right now. I've embraced the ideals of simple living but am having a hard time putting them into practice. I think the biggest obstacle right now is our clutter. We are planning on moving in the next couple of months, so this really needs to happen quickly. But, I'm hoping to keep up the decluttering after we move as well.

8. 12 Green Smoothies a month.
After the gluttony of the last month, I'm ready to turn things around again. The kids and I love green smoothies. I use baby spinach, a banana, some frozen fruit and a little water. It's about the only way to get greens into my kids. The problem is that usually they drink it all and I don't get any. So, for the new year I will drink them with the kids.

9. 12 Vegan Dinners.
I'm not planning on going vegan anytime soon. There is so much conflicting evidence on the benefits (or not) of eating different diets. I'm pretty happy with where we are headed as a family - more whole foods, less junk, less sugar (well, except for the last month). However, I love the idea of the almighty vegetable taking center stage for a meal. I think limiting myself to an only vegan dinner at least once a month will help me think try a few new things.

10. 12 hikes with the kids and maybe even the obnoxious pup.
I've always wanted to be the kind of family that hikes together. It just hasn't happened as of yet. So, at least one hike a month and I don't care if it's super easy. We just need to get outside!

11. Help the kids with 12 art or craft projects.
They seriously bug me ALL THE TIME to do crafts. Well, not the oldest so much anymore, but definitely my 6 year old and 8 year old. And although I hate to admit it, I don't often facilitate it for them. So, at least one new craft or art project a month.

12. 12 fun mail packages just because.
I saw over on the GiversLog the fun packages she has put together all under 13 oz. If they are under 13 oz., they can be mailed first class postage which makes it really inexpensive. And who doesn't love to get stuff in the mail? I think this will be a super fun project and hopefully cheer up some friends and family. (I'm also thinking of using several of GiversLog's ideas as gifts for my nieces' and nephews' birthdays.)

Yay! I love this. I really love that I can break it down monthly to keep on track. So that's 1 knitting project, 1 skein of yarn, 1 crochet project, 1 sewing project, 1 classic, 1 non-fiction book, 1 bag of stuff donated, 12 green smoothies, 1 vegan dinner, 1 hike, 1 kid's craft project and 1 fun mail package a month. Totally doable. Happy 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Crafting 2011

I didn't do much crafting this year because we have a lot on our plate right now. My hubby took a job away from us and I'm having to solo-parent most of the time now. That along with trying to pack to get ready to join him have made it impossible to get all the fun projects done that I had planned. But, I did have some things I made a little while ago and never sent along with a couple of new projects. Here are links to the projects we did and a couple of crappy pictures too. ;-)

Here's a cute stuffed dog I made for my niece. No link for this one. The pattern came out of a wonderful Waldorf craft pattern book lent to me by a friend.

For my other niece and my 6 year old daughter, I made pencil and drawing paper holders. I love this tutorial! I've made it several times now. As you can see, I've changed it a little. I like to use a contrast fabric on the front and a velcro closure. I love that Target pads of paper fit perfectly too.

For my nephews and my boys, I made these miniature marshmallow guns. Seriously fun! So fun that my daughter insisted on having one too! I wish that all the boys lived closer because I'm sure it would have made for a fun and crazy Christmas day activity. We haven't made the goggles yet but plan on trying to make them soon.

We also included in the cousins' box some homemade gingerbread play dough. It smelled so good! We kept half here to play with too.

Every year I try to make sure the kids have a new Christmas tree ornament. At first I bought them ornaments. But, a couple of years ago we switched to making them ourselves. This year we made model magic snowflakes. Here's the post that inspired us. It was the first time we've used Crayola Model Magic and the kids had a lot of fun with it.

I also made the Eleventh Hour Scarf from Purl Bee for one of my sisters. I used Wool-ease Thick and Quick yarn in an off-white color. I wish I had taken a picture. I liked how it turned out so much that I almost kept it for myself!

I also knit a scarf for my mom. It was a light-weight lace pattern called Falling Water. I used a pretty blue bamboo blend yarn.

My dad got a Classic World War II Watch Cap made out of wool in black and red. My oldest kept trying to take this hat since it's been hanging around the house waiting to be finished for awhile. I think I'm going to have to knit him one soon too!

I put together a little gift package for my sister-in-law that had an earwarmer, coffee cup cozy and fun porcelein travel mug. I used this pattern - Blue Leaf Headband. I also made my daughter one out of a lighter weight yarn and smaller needles. It still needs a button but also came out cute. The coffee cup cozy started life as these fingerless mittens. I loved the pattern but I wasn't happy with the yarn so I frogged it down to coffee cup cozy size.

There was also a failed attempt at homemade Almond Roca. But, I don't really want to talk about it. It makes me too sad... :P There was success for Christmas Eve dinner though with a Snowman Pizza. I think we have a new Christmas Eve tradition.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with love and laughter!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Recipe : Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I know I'm posting two recipes in a row (with lots of days in between), but I need to write down our version of pumpkin muffins. I started with this recipe (which is great on it's own.) I don't even remember how I found it. I think I was googling whole wheat pumpkin muffins and needed one without white sugar. Then I kept tweaking it until it was perfect for us. It's now at a point where it pleases everyone including my non-whole-wheat-eating hubby. I wanted it to have a little more umph so I substitute almond meal for part of the flour. I use my own pureed pumpkin that I freeze in 2 cup portions so I switched out that and reduced the other liquid. I use milk instead of buttermilk since that's what I usually have on hand. (Yes, I know I can make buttermilk easily. I'm just super lazy in the morning.) I generally use high quality butter or coconut oil for fat so I replaced that (either will work in this recipe.) My kids love chocolate chips in their muffins so out with the cranberries. Also I doubled the recipe. I make 24 and freeze half for another morning. Here's the final version:

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from Eating Clean Recipes

makes 24 standard size muffins

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Almond Meal
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
5 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice (Here's the recipe I use to make up my own)
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs beaten
2 cups Pureed Pumpkin
1 cup Turbinado Raw Sugar
1 cup Milk
6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (make sure it's liquefied)
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips (I use the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Bittersweet chips)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins.

Whisk together flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.

In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, pumpkin sugar, milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Add wet mixture to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in chocolate chips. Divide batter into muffin cups. I use an ice cream scoop to make it easier.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean (well except for melted chocolate.) Cool in pans for a few minutes before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Recipe : PB & J Waffles

We have a little bit of an obsession with waffles in our house. I have one kid who is very particular about what he eats. Breakfast can be tough since he doesn't like eggs, oatmeal or most cold cereal. But, he loves waffles. So, we tend to have waffles at least once or twice a week. I could never eat just waffles or pancakes and syrup for breakfast without feeling kind of crummy for the rest of the day. It was always too much sugar first thing in the morning. When my kids were little, I started putting peanut butter on their waffles (then it was frozen waffles) to give them a little boost of protein.

A little while ago, I came across a recipe in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine for peanut butter waffles. I thought that was brilliant! I'd never thought about mixing the peanut butter into the waffle batter. We tried that recipe first and it was delicious but not quite peanut-buttery enough for us. I started to tweak our standard waffle recipe with added peanut butter. It was super yummy. One day we were out of maple syrup, so the kids used strawberry jam and PB & J waffles were born.

PB & J Waffles

2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Sugar 
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Milk
1/4 cup Oil
2 large Eggs
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla


Whisk together Flour, Baking Powder, Sugar and Salt. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together Milk, Oil, Eggs, Peanut Butter and Vanilla. This will take a couple of minutes to get the peanut butter completely incorporated. It will still be in tiny clumps. That's ok. Just make sure it's mixed evenly throughout.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Spoon into a heated and lightly greased waffle maker. My waffle maker uses about 1/3 cup of batter per waffle and I ended up with 12 waffles with this recipe.

Jam Syrup

3/4 cup Strawberry Jam
1-2 Tablespoons Water

Mix together Jam and Water. Heat either on the stove or in microwave for 1 minute. Stir and serve.

These waffles also taste great with maple syrup or bananas and a drizzle of honey!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Few Amazing Photos I Found on My Camera

Recently, my eight year old has decided that he wants to be a photographer when he grows up. So, I've been letting him take my camera from me when we are out and about. I haven't taught him anything really about taking pictures (since I don't know much myself LOL), but figured he'd have fun playing around with my camera. I was a little surprised to find these photos tonight when I was uploading pictures onto my computer. I haven't done any photo editing on any of them. I just love them!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

ONE : Sea Creatures Birthday Party

 I'm ONE!

Our littlest one turned ONE! So hard to believe that a year has passed since her birth. I have been looking forward to this birthday all year! I knew that when it came, we would hopefully be past the hardest struggles of having a preemie. And we are! She is still slightly delayed in her gross motor development, but has come such a long way! She is crawling and pulling up now and all the weight issues of her first several months are a thing of the past. She's still a petite little thing, but not far off from where her sister was at the same age.

To celebrate her birthday, we had a joint celebration with a very good friend of mine whose son also turned one in July. The first pictures of them together are so funny. I think we took them at around 6 weeks old and Baby V looks like his doll. Now she's still smaller, but the difference isn't quite so dramatic.

It was fun throwing a birthday party with a friend. It meant that I didn't have to do all the work. LOL She handled all the food and I did the cakes and favors. We chose the theme "sea creatures." I thought it would be a fun summertime theme and perfect for a birthday party celebrating both a little girl's and boy's first birthday. My friend made yummy cream cheese and turkey or ham on tortilla sandwiches cut in the shape of fish. My husband has asked me to make these at home (minus the fish cookie cutter.) ;) Of course, we had to have goldfish crackers too. Along with that some fruit, chips for the grown ups and flavored lemonade. We had the party at a park so we tried to keep everything finger foods.

I made the cakes and cupcakes. I used this tutorial on Hungry Happenings to make marshmallow sea creatures from the sand toys I bought to give as favors. These went onto two different 6 inch round cakes frosted blue like the sea. I made vanilla wafer crumbs to resemble sand and sprinkled it around the base of the cakes. My dear friend Tina, card-maker extraordinaire, made two mini pennants with each baby's name for the top of the cakes. I think they came out pretty cute if I do say so myself.

I didn't get a good picture of the cupcakes I made for everyone else. I used these instructions on Family Fun's website. Super easy and cute! I made not only orange but also blue, yellow and green fishies.

We kept the party really low-key. We had sand pails and sand toys for the kids. I also set up a baby pool with sea creature squirters in it. Overall, it was a fun party to put together. We kept the guest list small which made it manageable, but I wished that I could have invited all the families who have been such a help to us this past year!