Archive for the ‘Family Life’ Category

Photo Recap

Yesterday, BHE and I celebrated 8 wonderful years of marriage.

Cupcakes were made in celebration, in addition to a wonderful meal of steak and roasted asparagus and red potatoes.

Anniversary Cupcakes

It’s OK to drool. I won’t tell anyone.

The vanilla cupcake is an OLD family recipe that, I’m sorry, I won’t share. The frosting is my mom’s chocolate frosting recipe.

My icing skills aren’t the best (see my buddy at Family Bites for that), but I think I do simplicity well. My tip for simple icing? Take a spoon, put a dollop in the middle of your cupcake, and carefully spread with the dull side of a butter knife. It’s not fancy, nor involved exceptional skill, but your cupcakes will look nice and neat.

In other news, my mom has a renewed vigor for sewing, and has taken up bag-making. Bow down to her sewing prowess:

The bag fits a ton – two cross stitch projects – one a decoy, the other I’m doing on the sly as a gift – and my knitting project:

WIP: My First Scarf

I got this Drop Stitch Scarf pattern off ravelry, and I’m really enjoying it.

My picky kid ate baked chicken, and yours can too!

Last week the Monkey said he would eat baked chicken. I took this with a grain of salt – he’s claimed he would try things before, then “change his mind” at the last minute.

But I’ve learned that in parenthood you seize opportunities like this when you can, so I came up with a very basic – but flavorful – chicken that he would be willing to eat*. And I’m sharing with you for that picky kid in your life:

I chose boneless skinless chicken thighs to bake. They’re relatively inexpensive, flavorful, and the serving sizes are just spot on.

As I preheated the oven to 350F, I placed the chicken in a simple marinade of salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. I let it marinade as the oven preheated, so about 15 minutes. You could probably marinade longer and get some more of that flavor into the chicken, but I didn’t have time.

I then coated the bottom of a baking dish with a thin layer of olive oil, then placed my chicken on top. I wanted to roast an orange bell pepper to place on our salad – I decided to just place it on top of my chicken in in the baking dish, and sprinkled on a little extra salt and pepper. Shoved it in the oven to bake for an hour.

In that hour I made the mashed potatoes – a good go-to side for a picky kid. And ya’ll, those mashed potatoes were awesome! You can’t go wrong with butter and sour cream. It was all well until my picky kid spotted a speck of black pepper. Well, lesson learned on the black pepper, I suppose.

We dressed our salad with the orange bell pepper – which sweetened a bit and just turned out awesome – and a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

A nice, simple family meal – that even a picky kid will love!

*He’s anti-sauce, and a rub would have been equally offensive to him. We’re dealing with picky here, people.

How High’s the Water, Mama?

Photo from The Tennessean

This is not far from my folks’ house; don’t worry, they’re OK – no damage, and not even really stranded.

Nashville and Middle Tennessee, as I’m sure you know, has been rocked by flooding. It’s been all-encompassing and everyone’s been affected in some way – we weren’t hit directly in my area, but yesterday we had water concerns (our water comes from Old Hickory Lake, and there were water main breaks) that hopefully have been worked out. We’re lucky; not a lot of Middle Tennessee can say the same.

Kinda takes the phrase “I can’t complain” to a new level – to see this devastation and realize how lucky you are that it missed you, or just barely touched you. Because Nature doesn’t discriminate – it didn’t pick that house to flood because of the homeowner’s socio-economic status, and it didn’t decide to flood the Opry because it doesn’t like country music.

I lived in Franklin, Tennessee (above – photo from The Tennessean) for several years, and it’s jaw-dropping for me to see photos of areas I know and imagine them just…gone. I know several have been stranded, and worse I know of some that have lost their homes. And they’re reporting several deaths from the flooding, at least 18 in Tennessee.

Please keep Tennessee in your prayers.

Hiatus – WIP Update – Readin’ Reviews

I’m still around and still stitchin’ and cookin’. But not so much blogging for a number of reasons – first my laptop required a trip to the PC doc, and now we’re in the midst of snow days, meaning the eldest is enjoying a break from kindergarten while I “enjoy” a break from my sanity. 😉 And we’ve been sick, all of us – colds and pink eye (my boys) and now a slight ear infection in my youngest. I’m also trying to exercise more and think I’ve already lost a little, or at least shifted it around – yay me!

So I’ve not felt too inspired to blog. Like I said, I have been stitchin’. My mom came by two weekends ago (or so) and navigated me around my sewing machine. I quickly set to work sewin’ up some easy burp clothes (for relatives that are expecting a second child) – just need to finish them (I want to blanket stitch around the edges). I picked up a cross stitch kit at Hobby Lobby the other day on clearance that I’m working for my boys. And I am working an embroidery sampler, using a book I got for Christmas – The Embroiderer’s Handbook. I might take some WIP pictures soon.

I’ve also been reading. I’ve committed to reading the Bible in its entirety in 2010 (I always got stuck around Chronicles in the OT, and barely made it through Romans in the NT) – so I purchased The One Year Bible for Women NLT. Now I don’t know why it’s “For Women”, other than the fact that it is pink with a flower on the cover, and that it includes the occasional gal-friendly quote. But it is excellent. Aside from the translation, which is very easy to understand (I joked that I needed a “Bible for Dummies”), I am really enjoying the format. It’s not organized like a standard Bible (so be warned – I was initially disappointed until I got into it). It’s organized by date, and each day includes: an OT reading, a NT reading, a Psalms selection, and a Proverbs selection. The readings are in order, so, for example, you will read Genesis in order in a little less than a month. The reading for each day takes about 15 minutes, so there’s really no excuse not to fit this in. I think getting this Bible allowed me to discover my problem – over-reading. I think in prior tries, that I would exhaust myself, and then get myself into a position of picking one (reading my Bible) or the other (whatever else). With this, I can devote myself to reading the Bible, actually digesting it (key, I think, and not what I was doing before), and then allowing myself to move on, refreshed, to whatever else I want to do.

Which lately, has been my addiction to 1491. This book kinda fell into my lap. A couple of weeks back, I met my brother for dinner (for my birthday – Shalimar in Green Hills. Delicious.). He then said “I was going to get you a Barnes & Noble giftcard for your birthday. How about we just go to Davis Kidd and I’ll buy you a book?”. And so we did. And after sifting through everything (my process is getting a ridiculous stack and then whittling down to one) – I chose this one (it beat out a rather thick volume of medieval Icelandic literature, I kid you not). I love non-fiction, was in the mood for some good non-fiction, and have had a long fascination with pre-Columbian cultures. And this book does not disappoint (so far). The writer is a journalist, so the book reads more like a National Geographic article than a study – the reading is not dry at all and has been fascinating and addictive. If you have any interest in ancient civilizations, archeology, pre-Columbian culture, etc…. I definitely recommend that you pick this one up.

Well, that was a more lengthy description of my hiatus than I set out to write. I will come back as the inspiration strikes and I have something interesting to write.

A Snowflake for the Teacher

Snowflake for the Teacher

Is it still common to give Christmas gifts to teachers? I remember doing that during my childhood, but so much has changed since then. However, we decided to give Monkey’s teacher a Christmas gift. She’s a wonderful teacher – it’s her first year teaching, but he’s having so much fun in kindergarten and learning so much. I’m so thankful that he had a great teacher starting out – it’s so important to have a good start since he will be in the education system for quite a long time.

Anyway, I asked Monkey if he wanted me to stitch an ornament. He said yes, and agreed on a snowflake (so quick to stitch, very important since his last day of school before break is Friday!). He picked the colors, and wanted a star for the middle. I’m very happy with the results, so happy in fact that I probably have not stitched my last snowflake…

One-On-One Time

No Vintage Monday today. The Monkey (my eldest) and I went out on a “date” last night to an an awesome show:

We saw Star Wars In Concert!!! It was awesome. They’re heading to Paris next (in March) so I don’t know if and when they will make it back to the U.S. If you’re French and you’re reading this blog, I thoroughly recommend that you attend. It’s amazing seeing the scenes with a live orchestra – The Royal Philharmonic – and there was narration provided by C-3PO himself.

It’s been a long time since Monkey and I just hung out together – just us – and it was so refreshing. We had a blast, and not only did I enjoy the concert, but I even more enjoyed the mile-wide grin perma-plastered on my eldest son’s face. We had such a great time.

Ducks n’ Geese

This weekend we took the boys to visit their grandparents, and we fed some ducks:

Ducks on the Pond

Hope you enjoyed your weekend.

Stitchin’ with the Kids

So, I had been saving this project for a rainy day – and boy howdy, has it been rainy in Tennessee! So after school I decided to let my antsy boys try a hand at some stitchin’:

Stitchin' Away

This is a really easy project to do at home, and pretty inexpensive. You will need: burlap, which has nice holes for easier stitchin’ (ours was purchased at Hobby Lobby, and was available in many colors); plastic yarn needles (keepin’ it safe); and some yarn (I bought the kind that you will find around the plastic canvas, right around the cross stitch – it was around the needles so I felt it would hold up better for this. If you’re a knitter, you could probably use some scrap yarn).

I didn’t draw a pattern on this, though you easily could. My boys both had a great time, though my oldest – he’s 5 – took to it better. He quickly picked up on “catching the tail” and was a lot less apt to lose his thread. He made a house and apple tree without a pattern – pretty good for his first go!

Here are their results. I loved these so much, they’re going in wood hoops to be framed and hung in my kitchen.

Lessons Learned from the Beach

Panama City 2009

So, we’re back from Panama City Beach. Rolled back in Monday night, to be exact. Lessons learned:

1. Visiting family at the halfway point (Montgomery) was a very good idea. Boys loved playing with their (second) cousins!
2. I hit the party section at Hobby Lobby and did not regret it. Pinwheels and kaleidoscopes were VERY inexpensive and kept the boys occupied for a bit. This was good, since Dothan, AL has about 25 red lights, and we hit them all.
3. Panama City was a great place to take kids. I was a little concerned due to its spring break “party” rep, but where we stayed (off Thomas Dr.) was quiet at night. If you want the party action, stay at one of the big hotels on Front Beach Dr., but for us, the little local two-story hotel was just right. There’s lots to do for the kids – putt putt golf, go-carts (BIG HIT with mine), family-friendly dining (Sharky’s gets a thumbs-up, while Hammerhead Fred’s gets a “Meh”). We didn’t hit Gulf World, which looked like fun.
4. Sand Castles never get old. Neither does looking for shells. The funky algae in the water was kinda gross though.
5. Bringing some projects with me to work on “at night while the boys are asleep” was a big wash. My boys, despite playing hard all day, would NOT go to bed! And we were wiped out too, so I didn’t actually do any embroidery during the trip, except for starting a cross-stitch kit in the car on the long ride home.

We had a blast, but it’s great to be home. Now time to prep for the Bear’s birthday this weekend, and school registration is Monday – Monkey starts kindergarten!

Tic Tac Toe

So, with this upcoming trip I am trying to think of everything I can take to keep my kiddos occupied in the car. And I decided to use a classic:

Tic Tac Toe

Monkey got so mad at me because he says it looks like he’s losing.

We have a lot of craft foam from the lacing project, and it dawned on me that I could embroider through those puppies – so I did. The boys had a total say in the floss colors. I pushed for the black background since we had a lot of that to use and it shows the lines and embroidery quite nicely. The space at the bottom was going to be cut off, but I am not entirely decided and might embroider a little something there, so for now at least the black space stays.

And why J’s and T’s? Well, Monkey can only have blue (so he says) and Bear only red (so he says), and Monkey was asking me which letter was “cooler” between X and O – so I decided on their initials, which will reduce X/O battles.