"Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one'."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

[New Year's Resolution] The Moments

Sarah already introduced this little tradition of mine in her 'Joy' post. Here's a little history. My first word was SIMPLIFY in 2009. I was newly pregnant with my second child and was rapidly feeling overwhelmed with 'stuff'. I had suffered a miscarriage the previous year (a heavy topic that can be discussed later, but important when explaining my reasons for picking a word). I felt like I needed order and something to focus on. Because of my experience, this pregnancy was filled with fear, stress, and worry. My desperation to remain positive and sane was palpable. Call it a major nesting phase, but I wanted all the 'junk' (physical and mental) gone. I wanted life to be clean and simple. I wanted our home to be clean and simple. I wanted to focus on having a healthy pregnancy and baby. It worked. I felt refreshed, organized, and prepared for the future when we brought healthy baby Carter home.

My word for 2010 was ENJOY. I had a 5 month old and a 3 year old and was EXHAUSTED. I felt it was important to remind myself on a daily basis (and by daily I am talking about being awake for 24 hour periods at a time with a baby who didn't want to sleep) that no matter how tired I was, I wanted to look back on these baby days with great memories and joy. I had to think about my word a lot. I had to force the word into my mind at times. I had to talk to Sarah about my word on occasion. It worked. I let the little things go. I took it all in and tried to remember that in Sarah's words "I would sleep again".

A holiday 'moment' at Snowflake Lane.
I like this method because it feels like less pressure than a resolution. It is something you can carry with you throughout the entire year. And, I like that it is a journey. Where will my word take me? What will it help me through? What will I learn along the way?

This year, it seems as though my word has picked me. I've been thinking about it since November and all through December I kept telling myself to savor everything. That the pure joy my children were exuding over the 'small stuff' was a gift. That they will NEVER be these ages at Christmastime again. That the focus should be on my family, not on the lines...and gift buying...and stress. I chose things like fingerpainting Santa pictures rather than unloading the dishwasher and guess what? We had FUN. And guess what else? Everything still got done.

I decided to carry that feeling over into the new year.
My word for 2011 is:


as in...
enjoy it
seize it
recognize it
capture it
preserve it
make the most of it
relish in it
be confident in it
LOVE each moment that we have together.

[New Year's Resolution] Joy, Marathon, Minimize...and a Real Housewives Reality Check

It's that time again--the beginning of a new year, the opportunity to start fresh.  Lindsay, for as long as I've known her, has had a Word Of The Year to go hand in hand with her New Year's Resolutions and I love this idea of trying to set the tone for the months ahead.  Her word two years ago was Simplify, and her word for last year was Enjoy.  

At the risk of sounding redundant, the word I have chosen for myself this year is Joy: choosing to have joy rather than dwell on other, less productive emotions like anxiety or impatience, raising children who radiate joy and consciously spread joy to others.

I chose this particular picture because it screams joy to me.  Uncle B, a devoted and involved uncle to say the least, got a gift from friends out of state and it was packed in pink confetti.  He saw an opportunity for JOY and seized it.  He told the rest of us 'responsible adult types' not to worry, he'd clean up the mess, enjoy the moment!  And he was so right.  The happiness was tangible.

Real Housewife Confession:
I don't want this post to sound smarmy.  I'm really tired.  And I'm a complainer.  Mostly to Lindsay, sometimes my mom, sometimes Doug...sometimes I just mutter to myself at the sink in the kitchen about the cantankerous nature of a particular day.  Choosing joy over griping does NOT always come easily to me, although I am aware that in the grand scheme of things, I have very little to complain about.  Another confession?  I'm tired of having all the kids at home.  ALL. THE. TIME.  I am responsible for the three of them every second of every day and it can be tiresome to say the least.  I am ready for Haley and Hannah to start school.  Isn't that terrible?  I'm ready for sleepovers and PTA and extracurricular activities--a different kind of responsibility.  Now all the grandmas who are reading this can say in unison:  "Cherish this time!  They're only little once!  Forget the chores and obligations and just enjoy this time with them!  They're so precious!  You're going to wish they were this age again!  Don't be so impatient for these years to end!"  Does that about cover it?  I know, I know.  I'm trying.  Hence my 2011 Word Of The Year! 

And my 2011 New Year's Resolutions, keeping Joy in mind, are as follows:

Marathon: This is something just for me, my selfish thing, that brings me joy and it's all mine.  I signed up for my first full marathon in June and I am amped about it.  I just want to finish this first one.  Even if I have to crawl, I'm making it across that finish line.  And then I am going to party like a rock star.  I'm sure Mom will say, "When are you going to have time to train for a marathon???"  That's where Part 2 of my resolution comes in.

Minimize: Not just talking about "stuff" here, although we are beginning to accumulate quite a bit of it. (Our house that once felt giant now feels mildly claustrophobic).  I'd also like to minimize unnecessary obligations and time-wasters.  I take on a lot for someone with three small children at home.  And I spend too much time at the computer doing absolutely nothing.  If I'm not blogging or paying bills, there's really no reason for me to be sitting at my desk in the corner.  Less time spent on stuff, more time spent loving on my very affectionate herd of children and focused on my 26.2.

So, to sum up:  Spread joy.  Run far.  Lose stuff.

Reader question: What would your Word For The Year be?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Did You Miss Us?

Hey all,
Just a quick note to say hello.

Please forgive us for slowing down on our posts...we were busy enjoying the holidays with our families (and we hope you were too)! We'll be back in full swing soon.

Looking forward to a new year and many fun/fabulous/entertaining/etc. posts to come.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Around the House

Just a couple of things around the house that make the season a bit more enjoyable. I only decorated about half of what I normally do this year. At 17 months, Carter is just too 'touchy-feely' right now to do it up the way I normally do.
This Santa wall hanging is one of my favorite new things this year! I bought this old cardboard Santa decoration from an antique store for $6. Bought the 16x20 frame from IKEA for $15 and had some green fabric at home...Voila! I hung it on the way up the stairs and the boys LOVE it. They say "Goodnight, Santa" every night on the way up to their rooms.

This was one of my day-after-Christmas purchases last year. SO GLAD I bought it. Logan really liked marking off the days this year and I am sure it will get plenty of use for years to come. I hung it in the kitchen so we could mark the days during breakfast.

I can't put wrapped presents under the tree yet, so I created a little kid area instead. Every year, after Christmas, I buy a bunch of little wind-ups and small toys and put them away for the next year. I fill the small "Ho Ho Ho" enamel bowl (on the left) with all the goodies. The kids love sifting through it. The red basket houses all the Christmas books and all the holiday stuffed animals have a home too (except for the ones that get taken up for bedtime on occasion).

The wrapping paper I am desperately trying to get rid of this year. I have WAY TOO MANY old, half-used rolls. I typically like to pick two matching papers and use them on everything. My 'particular' nature enjoys the way it looks under the tree vs. a little bit of everything. But, this year, I vowed I would not buy any new matchy-matchy paper until these are GONE! I guess I'll buy some after Christmas and I can look forward to next year's matching packages for 11 whole months.
(Yes, I am THAT particular about it)

Let's liven up those chicken nuggets, shall we?

Our Starbucks and Lights tradition...
SO fun to go driving with Christmas tunes and yummy drinks. The boys are at such a fun age and REALLY enjoyed looking at all the houses this year. Carter just started saying "Santa" so he was like a broken record the whole time we were out!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Soap Sliver & the Toilet Seat

LITERALLY...that's what I'm writing about today. Coming at ya from the bathroom (not literally) with some non-Christmassy items in the form of a household peeve and a fantastic buy.

My husband has a weird habit...
Whenever the bar of soap goes just past the two-thirds-finished mark, he is compelled to open a new bar. However, he is NOT a wasteful person, mind you.

The small sliver stays.

And who do you think is responsible for finishing it? Me! Oh wait, it gets better, I get the lovely duty of finishing it because I am 'little'.

I never get to use a new bar because I am constantly finishing the sliver. GRRR! This may sound silly to you...you are probably a person who gets to use a large bar of soap! (I do realize I could use the big bar and throw the little one away, but I am not wasteful either.) So, it is what it is...just thought I'd share one of those little idiosyncrasies in our house.

AND now for the the toilet seat that has changed our lives :)

(Price: Anywhere from $30-50)

Another option:
(Price: around $50)

This thing is awesome. It has a smaller toilet seat that sticks magnetically to the toilet lid. You just pull it down and, suddenly, a toilet fit for a small child. I highly recommend this for any family with small bootys running about. Logan has been potty trained for nine months and this seat saved our small downstairs guest bathroom from the portable potty chair that took up a lot of space far earlier than I expected. Logan loves that he has a smaller seat within the toilet lid. And, it isn't only for potty-training. Just helps the little guys to not fall in!

PS: I've actually used it on accident before and felt pleasantly surprised (and carried that feeling around all day) that my booty was 'small' enough to use it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cast Iron Gingerbread Mold

Side 1: Traditional

Side 2: Contemporary

Just some holiday fluff for the blog this evening.  I borrowed this cast iron gingerbread mold from a friend, who borrowed it from her mom, who has had it forever, and now I'm in love with it.  Must have one.  I've never seen anything like it!  The mold is two sided--one side has a traditional house, and the other has a more contemporary style.  And she passed along the recipe as well.  It was so easy--mix up the dough, press into the mold and bake.  Simple!  The gingerbread houses that result are gorgeous (and edible--yum!)and we had a great time putting them together.  I found several on Ebay for $15-$50 , and you can also buy them from the original maker, the John Wright Company, for $26.50 plus shipping; they have some neat stuff on their website.  I think it would be a great addition to any kitchen and a treasured heirloom for future generations.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Green Bunny: December Daily - Update

Here we are...11 days until Christmas and the 'halfway' point of my December Daily album. I'm including the pages I have finished so far. You may notice (if you paid a lot of attention to the 'getting started' post or if you go back and compare) that some pages have changed. That's why I love this project. It changes as you go. I start with my foundation and then I get to that day and I have a picture I want to use and realize I don't like the layout or the color scheme or it's just not gonna fit...

That's what's fun about it: It doesn't have to be PERFECT! Don't stress if you don't do a lot one day or if the album doesn't feel like it's coming together. This project is all about the complete album and the memories of the season as a whole. No one is expected to do something 'Christmasy' every day in December.

Day 1: Not the greatest start to December...we all had doctor appointments and felt blah. I added a strip of cardstock so I could write about the day and included a pic of the goodies we picked up at Target while getting our prescriptions...always a silver lining!

Day 2: Still under the weather, a simple Christmas fort was the only exciting moment of the day.

Day 3: There is always a story with the Santa picture, right? I added a vellum overlay so I could keep the picture large. (The oops of the day...I originally forgot Day 3 in the album and had to rearrange some things.)

Day 4: I originally made this a two-page spread because I knew it was the day of Logan's party. It happened to be a page with a tab, so I added alpha stickers to spell 'super', the theme of his party.

Day 6: This is the acrylic 4x4. I decided to make the picture 4x4 as well and added an explanation with alpha stickers.

Day 8: "Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff like bingle balls and Who foo fluff!" Here's a secret: We put up our tree at the end of November, but I felt it deserved a day in the album. See? Anything goes.

Day 9: I saved this little knit envelope from a Starbucks gift card a couple years ago knowing I would use it on SOMETHING...I glued it down and inserted a small note about the boys this Christmas.

Day 10: This is one of the Heidi Swapp transparencies. Got some adorable hats for the boys on this day. Enlarged the picture of Carter and just added a small holiday phrase 'joy to the world' sticker right on the transparency.

Day 12: The gingerbread train...Carter was so annoyed in this pictured because he just wanted to TOUCH THAT TRAIN, but that's all part of the experience, right?

Day 13: I haven't finished this page yet, but decided to list some of the current local & national news stories.

Plans for the second half of December: letters to Santa, our Starbucks & Christmas lights tradition, Logan's preschool program, wrapping presents, opening stockings, and more! Maybe one more post when it's complete?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Recipe That Got The Best Of Me

(Above: What they're supposed to look like!  Romantic and whimsical, eh?)

And now a reality check.

The recipe looked innocent enough.  No candy thermometer required, melt a few ingredients together with butter, stir in flour and powdered ginger, and voila!  ...  Yeah right.

Still going well at this point.

This is where it gets hairy.  The recipe says "Grease the foiled cookie sheets well" but doesn't specify what to grease them with.  I guessed shortening... and I was wrong....

...so wrong.  This is the moment I knew things had gone awry.

At this point, after baking, they're supposed to slide easily onto the spatula and then neatly fold around the end of a wooden spoon to form a cone. HA! BA-HA!  Wild maniacal laughter.

Sad, pathetic, inedible. [cursing under my breath in the kitchen how could you fail me Paula????]

Still determined, (I hate to fail--control issues much?) I tried greasing the foil with butter instead.  Yes, this must solve everything.

Ah [expletive] what gives?  How can butter not be the answer to a Paula Deen problem???  Angry mumbling ensues. 

Nope.  Sure 'nuf.  Butter--definitely not the answer.

The results of my next try--greasing the foil with nonstick cooking spray.  Doh.  I am really mad at this point.

Paula, 1.  Sarah, 0.
I hate wasting ingredients, but I was tempted to try it again just to prove a point.  It was 9 o'clock at night, I was presumably making these for a party the next day, I was fuming mad and not a glass of wine in sight.  So I sighed and admitted defeat.  If anyone has any idea how I could have salvaged these...where I went wrong...I'd love your insights.  What a f-ing fiasco waste of butter and my valuable time great learning experience.  :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Joyeux Kitchen: MY OH MY Espresso Cakes

Sunny Anderson's Espresso Cakes With Peanut Butter Frosting

These are amazing.  I'm just going to link to the recipe, I made no alterations whatsoever--can't mess with perfection.  I had a little trouble finding the espresso powder but spotted it on the coffee aisle in a little jar; the brand is Medaglia D'Oro with a green lid.  I don't think regular instant coffee would do the trick for intense flavor, but if you try it let me know how it works out.  I doubled the frosting because I'm a frosting-aholic ("Hello, My Name Is Sarah And I'm Addicted To ButterCream").  Also, the recipe calls for four mini-loaf pans.  For me it made four mini-loafs plus seven cupcakes.  You should make these now.  Go.  Do it.  Really.